Archive | February, 2014

Starring Me and You

6 Feb

Today’s review is for Starring Me and You, by Genevieve Cote, published by Kids Can Press. It is scheduled for release on March 1, 2014. I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Starring Me and You book cover

Piggy and Rabbit are getting ready to put on a show–but Rabbit is feeling shy. Thus starts Starring Me and You, a picture book that shows pre-school aged children that there is more than one way to express emotions. As Piggy and Rabbit prepare for their show, they must confront their fears and figure out a way to work together.

Cote has once again put together a beautiful picture book. I first discovered her work in the fall when I reviewed Mr. King’s Castle. The writing in this new volume is a clear as ever. She has a way of tapping into the emotions of children, and expressing them in accessible language. Cote uses a lot of repetition in her text to great effect. Every time one of the animals talks about how they act in response to an emotion, the other chimes in to share an alternate reaction. There’s a wonderful rhythm, too, even though there is (thankfully) no rhyming text. Her language demonstrates an understanding of the written word and of her target audience.

The illustrations are done in Cote’s signature style. She uses mixed media to produce gentle, yet lively, images that are sure to charm children. The simple lines and gentle shading fit in nicely with the emotional theme of the book. The dominant color on each page is a rich salmon. It is inviting and warm, setting up an atmosphere in which it is safe to express oneself. Most of all, I enjoy the abundance of white space on the page. There is no need to fill the page with background, because background isn’t important to the story. Rather, by using a minimalist design, Cote emphasizes that this is a story that could happen anywhere; it’s universal.

If you’re someone like me who appreciates attention to detail, then you’ll also enjoy the book design. In particular you’ll like that Rabbit’s pages use one font, a subdued san-serif typeface–while Piggy has a more stylized typeface that leans a little askance. The typography choices actually reveal a little about the characters’ personalities. It’s such a small thing, but it was used effectively to strong impact.

This is a great book for caregivers who are looking to talk with their children about emotions. The message that there are many ways to express oneself is positive and affirming. It lets children know that just because they don’t experience an emotion in the same way as their friend, that it’s okay. It could also be used as a jumping off point to talk about healthy and unhealthy expressions. I’m giving the book 4 out of 5 stars. It’s got thoughtful writing, charming illustrations, and plenty of opportunity for discussion.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.

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Kid Lit Blog Hop #32

5 Feb

It’s time for one of my favorite times of the week (well, every other week)–The Kid Lit Blog Hop! It’s always such a treat to see what books have gotten other people excited. Will I discover something new and amazing? Will I get to share in a moment of “I love that book, too!”?

As for me, I’ve been busy with family, health, and housekeeping. But I’m still finding plenty of time to read with my 2-year old. We received a present from her great aunt a couple days ago titled Max Makes a Cake, which is a sweet story about a little boy who gets impatient while waiting for his father and decide to make his mother’s (Kosher for Passover) birthday cake all by himself. Daughter memorized the character’s names after a single reading and seems pretty enthused. I like the themes of problem-solving and independence. We’ve also been reading One, by Kathryn Otoshi, which is absolutely charming. I love the minimalist watercolor illustrations, strong anti-bullying message, and incorporation of color and number concepts. My daughter likes it when it’s time to take a stand and she gets to say “NO!” to bullying. We’ve got a pile of 10 library books in our current circulation, as well as selections from her ever-growing personal library.

As for my blog–I’ve got the following reviews coming up in my queue: White Spaces: Book One of the Dark Passages, Secrets Underground, Good Crooks Book One: Missing Monkey, Suitcase of Stars, Starring Me and You, How to Make a Planet, Ava and Pip, and more! Right now I’m in the position of having so many wonderful sounding books to read that I’m never sure where to start. I can think of worse problems to have.

So, that’s where I am this week. How about you? Please, take a moment to link up to the hop and comment on some of the awesome posts I’m sure you’ll discover.


Welcome to the 32nd Kid Lit Blog Hop where twice per month (the 1st and 3rd Wednesday) we continue to develop a dynamic and engaged community of children’s books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists. So, you are always more than welcome to join us by popping in a post and hopping around to meet some of your fellow Kid Lit bloggers and authors!

We are pleased to welcome with us this week a new full-time permanent hostess on the Hop, Maria from the blog Music Teaching and Parenting is joining us. Plus, we are also happy to have Savannah Mae from the book blog Say What? Savannah Mae Book Reviews. Big welcome to Maria and Savannah Mae!

Happy Hopping everyone and enjoy the Hop!

Kid Lit Blog Hop
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Kid Lit Blog Hop Rules *Please Read*

1. We ask that you kindly follow your hostesses. You can follow us any way you choose (Email, GFC, Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, etc.), but we’ve added our preferences below. If you could just give us a quick “follow” or “like” that would be much appreciated! Make sure to leave us a message if you are following us (i.e., on Twitter or Facebook or on our websites) and we will be sure to follow you back. Thanks! 🙂

Hostesses:

Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews Facebook * Twitter

Jaymie @ Snacks for Max Twitter * Facebook

Katie @ Youth Literature Reviews Twitter * Facebook

Julie Grasso, Author/ Blogger Twitter * Facebook

Cheryl Carpinello, Author / Blogger Twitter * Facebook

Reshama @ Stacking Books Twitter * Facebook

Stacie @ BeachBoundBooks Twitter * Facebook

Destiny @ Reading and Sharing Twitter * Facebook

Maria@ Music Teaching and Parenting Twitter * Facebook

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom Twitter * Facebook

Co-Hostess:

Savannah Mae @ Say What? Savannah Mae Book Reviews Twitter * Facebook

2. Link up any Kid Lit related post. This can be a link to a children’s book review, a discussion about children’s literature/literacy, or a post on a recently-read children’s book or one that you love from your childhood.

* Don’t link directly to your blog, it must be a specific post.*

* For Authors, we prefer you to link to your blog if you have one. Please link unique posts each time ~ no repeats please. *

* Make sure you include an image relevant to the POST (e.g., book cover), not your blog button or photo of yourself.*

* Feel free to link more than one post.*

3. Please visit AT LEAST the TWO LINKS directly ahead of your own and leave them some love in the form of a comment. We are trying to build a community of bloggers, readers, parents, authors, and others who are as passionate about children’s literature as we are so please CONNECT and follow any or all of the blogs that interest you! 4. If you like, grab the button above and put it somewhere on your blog, preferably the post you’re linking up. If you’d prefer, you can just add a text link back to this Hop so that others can find it and check out all these great book links! 5. It would really help us get the word out about the Kid Lit Blog Hop if you would be so kind as to tweet, share, and spread the word about the Hop!

Interested in co-hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop? Please email renee @ motherdaughterbookreviews (dot) com and put Co-Hosting Blog Hop in the subject line.

Happy Hopping!

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Time Together: Me and Dad

4 Feb

Today’s book review is for Time Together: Me and Dad, written by Maria Catherine, illustrated by Pascal Campion, published by Picture Window Books (an imprint of Capstone Young Readers). It is scheduled for release on March 1, 2014. I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Time Together: Me and Dad book cover

Time Together: Me and Dad is a lovely picture book for children ages 2-6. It highlights the bond between father and child through a series of snapshots of special moments. It’s an excellent reminder that simple daily activities are the things that often build the strongest memories.

Catherine’s writing is very simple. Rather than producing a narrative, she has chosen to present a series of moments to the reader. They range from “Quiet talking time” to “Wild ride time.” What I liked about her selection of activities is that they are varied and not mired in stereotypical gender roles. So, for example, Dad gets to participate in tea parties. It’s nice to see fathers portrayed as being involved in every facet of a child’s life.

What makes the book really beautiful, though, are Campion’s illustrations. He has such a nice style–where he uses painting techniques in his digital compositions. Each image is a depiction of a father and child who are close, physically and emotionally, and engaged in an enjoyable activity. Every father and child pair is a little different. Some children are girls and some are boys. The families are from various racial backgrounds. It’s a quiet acknowledgement of diversity, subtle and not promoting any stereotypes.

While the writing is a little thin, I do still think this book could have a place in homes and libraries. Even though there’s no real story, the book could be used to spark conversation about a child’s own experiences. Some discussion questions might be: which of the activities in the book did you like best? What are some of your favorite times with Dad? It would be a nice book to read for Father’s Day, as well, to celebrate the role of fathers in children’s lives. I’m giving the book 4 out of 5 stars because the book had lovely execution, and though it’s not a genre I usually enjoy, it pulled me in.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.

Morgan on Ice

3 Feb

Today’s book review is for Morgan on Ice, written by Ted Staunton, illustrated by Bill Slavin, published by Formac Publishing. This book is scheduled to be released on March 1, 2014. I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Morgan on Ice book cover

Morgan on Ice is part of Formac’s “First Novels” line, which are early chapter books targeted at 6-9 year old children. Morgan is a boy. I mention this because until I reached the end of chapter 2, I had thought Morgan was a tomboy. So, Morgan is a boy who has to spend a lot of time with a girl he doesn’t much like, Aldeen, who is a family friend. She has invited him to see a Princesses on Ice show, and Morgan’s mother accepted the invitation. But Morgan isn’t interested in princesses and he doesn’t like ice skating. When he gets invited to the Monster Truck show by another friend, Morgan does all he can to weasel out of his engagement with Aldeen.

I struggled to make my way through this book. While I’m obviously not the target audience, often I enjoy reading books for this age range. Staunton’s prose was just tedious. The book is written in the first person from the perspective of the protagonist, Morgan. I think that Morgan is supposed to be sympathetic, but he came across as whiny. A lot of the narrative focuses on what Morgan doesn’t like, which leaves him a bit flat as a character. He never really develops, either. I’m not even sure what the takeaway message for the book was supposed to be: ice skating is better than monster truck rallies?

Slavin’s black and white illustrations have a lot of movement and a playful style. However, often details get lost in an excess of line/scribble shading. It might be an issue of scale–perhaps if the images were larger, this wouldn’t be a problem. But as they were, they came across as too busy; my eye never knew where to focus.

None of it worked for me, so I’m going with 1 out of 5 stars. This book was mediocre, tedious, and pointless. Maybe I could have even forgiven the lack of any real character development or message if the book had been entertaining. But it wasn’t.

You can find more information about this book, including other reviews, at Goodreads.