Tag Archives: picture window books

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.

Dream Birthday

15 Jan

Today’s book review is for Dream Birthday, by Ruby Ann Phillips, published by Picture Window Books (an imprint of Capstone Young Readers. This book is scheduled for release on February 1, 2014. I received a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Dream Birthday book cover

Krystal Ball is a fairly typical fourth grader, except for one thing. She’s a fortune teller. She’s great at predicting the future, but she’s not always so good at interpreting her visions. Her birthday is coming up and she’s ready to have an amazing party. The problem is, she keeps having horrible nightmares. In this installment of a new series for 6-8 year olds, Krystal will learn that even things look grim, there can still be a silver lining.

Phillips does an excellent job in her first person narration of capturing the voice of a nine-year old girl. Initially, I was unsure about whether I liked the narrative style–but as I read more, I realized that it was perfect for the target audience. The voice was believable, friendly and inviting. It is crafted in such a way as to engage young readers and draw them into the mysteries of the story.

I enjoy that Krystal has solid relationships not just with her parents, but also with her grandmother. The multi-generational aspect of the story was nice. Even though Krystal has a special gift, she needs the guidance of her grandmother to understand how to use it. I also like that even though her parents don’t have any psychic abilities, they are understanding of their daughter and encourage her to spend time with her grandmother.

For an early chapter book, I actually found the plot pretty engaging. As a reader you get to see the visions that Krystal has. Which means that you also have the opportunity to try to puzzle out what they mean. Even when you suspect the answer, chances are it’s not going to be quite what you thought.

This is exactly the sort of book that I think I would have enjoyed as a young girl. I remember being fascinated with fortune telling and astrology at that age. And Krystal is such a likable character. I could easily see her being someone’s go-to “book friend.” I’m going to give Dream Birthday 4 stars for fun concept, engaging plot, and appropriateness for target audience.

If you’re still not sure, check out the book trailer:

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

Little Monkey Calms Down

3 Jan

Today’s book review is for Little Monkey Calms Down, written by Michael Dahl, illustrated by Oriol Vidal, published by Picture Window Books (an imprint of Capstone Young Readers). It is scheduled to be released on February 1, 2014. I received an advance electronic copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Little Monkey Calms Down book cover

Little Monkey Calms Down is a board book for children ages 2-4. Little Monkey has a meltdown when his day isn’t going as planned. However with some soothing words and useful coping strategies, Little Monkey is able to calm down and enjoy the rest of his day. This book teaches toddlers how to express and manage their emotions, which is an important skill.

Dahl’s writing is simple, clear, and age appropriate. He uses plain language that helps children to focus on the key ideas of the text, rather than getting bogged down in unfamiliar word choices. I appreciated that he emphasized that you can feel more than one emotion at the same time, such as sad and mad (although, I was puzzled by the inclusion of angry, being that mad and angry are usually used synonymously). Most importantly, though, he reassures kids that it is okay to cry–while also offering them techniques to calm themselves.

Vidal’s illustrations are bold and colorful. Every page has a flat background of saturated color that draws the eye. And his rendering of the monkeys is wonderful. Little Monkey displays a wide range of emotion, illustrated so that even the youngest children can read the visual cues and understand how he is feeling. Vidal works in a style that I also think will appeal to toddlers–one that is cute and lively.

This is an excellent choice for parents who want to encourage emotional awareness in their children. Learning how to regulate their emotions is an important developmental milestone for children–and it’s not something that they can do on their own. They need adults to guide them and provide them resources. At the same time, sometimes we parents also need resources to help guide us. Little Monkey Calms Down is a great solution–it provides children an opportunity to learn and parents a place to start dialogue. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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

Book Review: Peek-a-Boo Monsters

1 Oct

Today’s book review is for Peek-a-Boo Monsters, by Charles Reasoner, published by Picture Window Books (an imprint of Capstone Young Readers). I received an electronic copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Peek-a-Boo Monsters is a peek-a-boo style board book featuring die-cut windows on each page that allow you to look through to a small piece of the following page. Although it’s a great selection to put you in the mood for Halloween, it’s not a Halloween-themed book–meaning that monster loving toddlers can enjoy reading it year round.

Reasoner’s simple rhyming text is easy to follow. And while this seems like just a fun, silly book, the author still manages to sneak some educational concepts in as well. On the pages, toddlers will be introduced to opposites such as up/under, big/small, short/tall.

His accompanying illustrations are cute and quirky. These are monsters that will make little ones giggle–or give out big hugs. Many of the monsters have speech bubbles which add to the playfulness of the book. On one page a little monster says “Grrr!” while a much larger monster leans away saying “Yikes!” And every page features cheerful colors to keep roaming eyes focused.

I enjoy the overall design of the book. The font selections are appropriate and fun. They fit well with Reasoner’s illustrations and the tone of the text. In addition to the expected peek-a-boo cut outs, cleverly arranged on each page, the outlines of the pages are also adjusted to add additional visual interest. Everything comes together to create an attractive product.

I give Peek-a-Boo Monsters 3 out of 5 stars. It’s not revolutionary, but it is a fun little book. It would make a fun Halloween present for a special little one. Or it could be used for a Halloween-themed story time, with a smaller group of children.

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

Book Review: The Alphabet Parade

14 Sep

Today’s review is for The Alphabet Parade, written by Charles Ghigna, illustrated by A. G. Jatkowska, published by Picture Window Books (an imprint of Capstone Young Readers). I received an electronic copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This might be my new favorite alphabet book. At the very least, it’s now my favorite alphabet board book. It’s a great example of a well-conceived and well-designed book for toddlers. First it uses vivid language full of rhyme and alliteration to help children develop their verbal skills. It’s a joy to read aloud–and I love that it introduces some uncommon words for curious toddlers. Any caregiver or educator can probably attest to the abundance of simplistic language in books targeted to the 1-3 years old crowd. It’s refreshing to read something that shows toddlers the joys of playing with language.

And the vibrant illustrations of Jatkowska bring Ghinga’s text alive. Each member of the parade, whether human or animal, is brought to life in these joyful and colorful pictures. Whether it’s an image of a fiddling fox or a vocal vulture with a microphone, the illustrations are sure to delight children and adults alike. The attention to detail is delightful.

To finish things off, the book exhibits wonderful design principle. Font choices are thoughtful and complement the illustrations. The primary text is black, while highlighted letters and words are presented in various colors and all caps font to showcase their importance to young children. The text is easy to read and well-placed on the page.

This book wins 5 out of 5 stars. Concept books can be challenging–but this one delivered quality. I would definitely recommend it and will encourage my local library to add it to their collection.

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