Thursday, December 3, 2020

Review - My Quiet Ship

My Quiet Ship

by Hallee Adelman
illustrated by Sonia Sánchez
Date: 2018
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Whenever the yelling in his house starts, Quinn runs to a special hiding place. There he becomes captain of the Quiet Ship, where he can get far, far away from the yelling that hurts his ears and makes him feel scared. But one day the Quiet Ship is broken and Quinn needs a new plan, one that requires him to be brave. A thoughtful treatment of a difficult topic, this story is for any child who faces fighting in the home.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This book just made me sad. Basically, it's about a little boy who turns to a fantasy world every time his parents start yelling at each other.

Unfortunately, the message seems to be that if you yell right back at your parents, they'll stop yelling at each other and the whole family will heal. That's not the way it works, and some children could put themselves in a dangerous situation by doing what Quinn does in the book.

I would be very hesistant to give this book to a child who is witnessing a lot of arguing in the household. It would have to be selected very carefully, taking the individual situation into account.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2.17 out of 5

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Review - Sheep in a Jeep

Sheep in a Jeep

by Nancy Shaw
illustrated by Margot Apple
Date: 1986
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

A flock of hapless sheep drive through the country in this rhyming picture book.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I read Sheep in a Shop earlier this fall. Sheep in a Jeep is just as silly, although it doesn't have as much of a message. It's just five reckless sheep getting into one scrape after another with their red jeep.

These are fairly old books, but I think they'd still have appeal for modern audiences.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3.14 out of 5

Review - Harold Loves His Woolly Hat

Harold Loves His Woolly Hat

by Vern Kousky
Date: 2018
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: library

In this sweet picture book that celebrates selflessness and the joy of helping others, a little bear named Harold loses his beloved woolly hat--only to discover that others need it more.

What makes a bear special? For Harold, it is his beloved striped woolly hat. He wears it when he sleeps, when he goes to school, and even when he takes his monthly bath. But when a crow whisks the hat off his head and high up into a nest, Harold doesn't feel so special anymore. He tries everything to get it back--offering the crow blueberries, worms, and even shiny objects--but alas, the crow will not budge. Turns out that the hat has a new special purpose: keeping three baby crows warm. This heartwarming picture book features an irresistible bear and gently reinforces the notion that it doesn't matter what you have, it's who you are that matters.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Harold Loves His Woolly Hat is a sweet story about a little bear who finds a striped hat and proceeds to wear it everywhere because it makes him feel special. One day, though, a crow steals his hat. Harold tries to get it back, attempting to make trades with the crow. But when nothing works, Harold decides to take matters into his own paws... and discovers that someone may need that hat more than he does.

The message is really sweet and the illustrations are cute. This would be a good pick for those looking for picture books about kindness.

Quotable moment:


Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4 out of 5

Review - Flamingo Flamenco

Flamingo Flamenco

by Brooke Jorden
illustrated by Alex Zhdanov
Date: 2020
Publisher: Familius
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 16
Format: e-book
Source: library

Every creature on Earth
has a dance all its own,
but none so well-known
as the flamingo’s flamenco.


A flamenco-dancing flamingo struts and swaggers, certain that he is the best dancer in the animal kingdom. From hip hopping hippos to tap dancing tigers, each animal finds their own jungle boogie, and Flamingo soon discovers that no two dancers are the same—and that's okay!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

The premise of this book is a bit weak. The message is obviously to be yourself, but the real appeal is seeing all the different animals doing their own styles of dance.

The illustrations are the real winner here, and will likely appeal to even the youngest children. The text is nothing special. Apparently, nothing compares to a flamingo's flamenco... but dance your own dance anyway.

Check this one out for the illustrations, but don't expect much in the way of a story.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

Review - The Universe Ate My Homework

The Universe Ate My Homework

by David Zeltser
illustrated by Ayesha L. Rubio
Date: 2018
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

Abby hates doing homework. In fact, she'll do just about anything to get out of it. So when she discovers an amazing scientific recipe for creating a parallel universe where she'll never have to do homework again, she's ready to jump right in. There's just one small wrinkle--she might not be able to find a way back.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

There's artistic licence... and then there's this. The author states that the story is made up, but that the science isn't. That's not entirely true. If physics worked the way this book shows, we'd be up to our ears in mini black holes thanks to all the kids who don't want to do their homework.

Abby doesn't want to do her homework. So she stalls. When her physicist father tells her about mini black holes and baby universes, she thinks she's found the perfect solution to her homework dilemma. Make a black hole, send the homework through. Sounds good, right? She accomplishes this by squeezing her crumpled homework in her hands to smash the atoms together. And then... well, "science", apparently.

The author's note at the end doesn't do a good enough job of telling kids that this isn't how black holes actually work, and I fear that some kids might end up crumpling their homework for no good reason. It's all fine and good to have fantasy elements in a fictional story. But you'd better explain these things to your readers! (Also, we never do find out what became of Abby's universe. Presumably, it's still floating in the middle of her dad's study.)

The illustrations are kind of cute. I felt like the text was a little tell-y and not quite show-y enough, though.

Overall, I'd give this one a pass. It's not rooted in real science enough to appeal to budding physicists, and could give the wrong idea to others.

Premise: 1/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.33 out of 5

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Review - Ish

Ish
(Creatrilogy)
by Peter H. Reynolds
Date: 2004
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

A creative spirit learns that thinking "ish-ly" is far more wonderful than "getting it right" in this gentle new fable from the creator of the award-winning picture book The Dot.

Ramon loved to draw. Anytime. Anything. Anywhere.

Drawing is what Ramon does. It¹s what makes him happy. But in one split second, all that changes. A single reckless remark by Ramon's older brother, Leon, turns Ramon's carefree sketches into joyless struggles. Luckily for Ramon, though, his little sister, Marisol, sees the world differently. She opens his eyes to something a lot more valuable than getting things just "right." Combining the spareness of fable with the potency of parable, Peter Reynolds shines a bright beam of light on the need to kindle and tend our creative flames with care.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Another book in the Creatrilogy, Ish is the story of Ramon and his quest for perfection. I read The Dot in 2019 and really enjoyed it. Ish is similar in its themes and has a lovely message.

Ramon loves to draw. He draws all the time (perhaps even in places where he shouldn't). One day, he's trying to draw a vase of flowers when his older brother laughs. Ramon loses his confidence and spends the next few months trying to get that vase drawing absolutely perfect. When he can't, he gives up. But then he realizes his little sister's been keeping all his reject drawings, placing a value on them that Ramon didn't even know they had. Sometimes perfection isn't necessary. Sometimes, making something "ish" is all you really need to do.

If you enjoyed The Dot, you'll probably like this story, too. I need to see if I can find Sky Color to complete reading the trilogy.

Quotable moment:

"Vase-ISH?"
Ramon looked closer. Then he studied all the drawings on
Marisol's walls and began to see them in a whole new way.
"They do look... ish," he said.

Premise: 5/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 5/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 4.33 out of 5

Monday, November 30, 2020

Review - Unstoppable

Unstoppable

by Adam Rex
illustrated by Laura Park
Date: 2020
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 56
Format: e-book
Source: library

If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Well, what if the answer was: ALL OF THEM! When a bird narrowly escapes the clutches of a hungry cat, a nearby crab admires the bird's ability to fly, while the bird admits a longtime yearning for claws. And, just like that, they team up. Pretty soon, the team includes every animal in the forest who's ever wanted someone else's special trait. But how will these animals stop humans from destroying the forest for a megamall? It's going to take claws, wings, and Congress together to be truly Unstoppable!.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This wacky picture book starts out with the existential moanings of a crab. With some creative problem solving and some really odd portmanteaus, the animals join together to solve a crisis threatening their home.

I really recommend reading this one without looking at the synopsis first. I went into this not knowing what to expect, and I was almost laughing out loud at the crazy turns the story took. It's silly and amusing, but somehow still manages to teach a small civics lesson. Go figure.

Overall, this is a fun book with a nice message about how the power of working together makes you unstoppable.

Quotable moment:


Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 5/5

Enjoyment: 5/5

Overall: 4.33 out of 5