Tag Archives: book review

The LEGEND of Rock, Paper, Scissors

rps“Drop that underwear and battle me, you ridiculous wooden clip-man!”

Really, this entire book is one ridiculous name-calling incident after another.  Is Rock kind of a bully?  Is Paper a master of printer jams and angry outbursts?  Is Scissors a little too snippy?  Maybe.  Do I care?  I do not.

Perhaps I would use this book as a teachable moment.  You could winkle a message out of the book about how bullying behavior doesn’t make anyone (Rock, Paper & Scissors included) very happy.  You could talk about balances of power or appropriate behavior.

Or you could just read it over and over on your own, also with your spouse and your adult friends, and then laugh some more with the kids. Honor the legend, my friends.  Honor the legend.

The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt and Adam Rex

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Bird, Balloon, Bear – nature lovers, friends

bird balloon bearBear is just hanging out watching ants while waiting for a friend to appear.  I have been thinking a lot about science in picture books lately, but I don’t even care whether that’s scientifically accurate or not.  Maybe this is a whole new sub-genre for me to explore – animals who are nature lovers.

Anyway, both Bear and Bird are looking for friends.  Expectations are low.  Bear is willing to accept friendship with Balloon, who gets there first and doesn’t speak but is always there for Bear.  Bird is too shy to say anything and then inadvertently causes a disaster.  I actually gasped when I turned the page.  I did not expect THAT to happen, but then it was late at night and I was about 5 minutes from falling asleep.  That woke me up.

Will Bear and Bird overcome this?  Can they be friends?  They can.  They must.

Bird, Balloon, Bear by Il Sung Na

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Panda-monium hits FunJungle

pandamoniumThere’s something about a new Stuart Gibbs book that makes me set aside almost anything else on my to-be-read pile.  (If Kathi Appelt, Kate DiCamillo and Stuart Gibbs all had books coming out the same week, I’d have to flip a coin, but how often does that happen?) They’re always full of action.  They always make me laugh.  The characters are quirky, difficult, and smart or vain, prone to accidents, and resourceful.  Or maybe they’re all of these things at once.  Throw in a polar bear exhibit or an air lock in space, and you can count on crazy things happening while you pick up some fun scientific information, too.  They’re 100% fun.

Panda-monium is no different, and although you won’t actually see much of the main animal character, you will get more adventures and mystery at FunJungle with Teddy and his friends and foes.  And you’ll learn some interesting panda facts and find out why you’ll never want to become too familiar with polar bear enclosures, too.  Read on!

For more on Stuart Gibbs’ other books, see my posts on Big Game and Spaced Out.

Panda-monium by Stuart Gibbs

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You might not know it, but you have a story, too.

everywhere-wonderYou don’t have to look very far in my past posts to realize that I love picture books about imagination.  Over the years, I have bored countless friends and roommates and scholarship committees with my story about the red shoes an Indian graduate student of my dad’s gave me when I was five.  They were sparkly, pointy and 100% wonderful, in case you have somehow missed hearing about that particular memory of mine.  Why did I dream of joining the Peace Corps?  Why did I try to learn so many languages beyond English?  (French, German, Spanish, Esperanto, Thai, Vietnamese, a little bit of Arabic, and I think I’m forgetting one.  Sadly, what I speak of them now is very limited.)  Why did I think writing a senior thesis on that six-week trip I took on my own was such a good idea?  Red shoes.

There are no red shoes in this book, but there is a lot of imagination and a lot of traveling around the world, which also makes it pretty darn wonderful.  Look at all these amazing and intriguing places and things!  Sockeye salmon!  Pyramids!  Shirley from Sheboygan!  Gardens without plants! The moon!  And one polar bear that walks off the page.  What a joy to read to little ones or just to our solitary adult selves!  We can all use a little escape and a lot of imagination right now, right?

(P.S. Just to be clear, the title of this post is a direct quote from the book.)

Everywhere, Wonder by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr

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Death, don’t you come around here…

cry-heartThis time of year, we see a lot of books with bunnies and eggs, right?  Ah, spring!  Ah, new life!

But life is peppered with moments of grief and sorrow and death, too.  The Grim Reaper is something to be dreaded and feared, but in this book, keeping the Grim Reaper away is not a solution.  We all face death, even children, and it’s important to have ways to talk about it, whether your goldfish or great aunt or sister or parent has died.  This book ends with hope and joy and the recognition that it’s ok that life goes on.  We remember people.  We carry them with us through our days.

Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved and Charlotte Pardi

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Unexpected Brady Bunch references


Well, hmm, that’s not what I was expecting when I started this book.  I was thinking I’d be getting something along the lines of realistic, middle grade, family, coming of age fiction.  Estefania “Stef” Soto, definitely lives in that world – the world of her dad’s taco truck, Tía Perla, the world of Saint Scholastica School and a former friend who now calls her the Taco Queen.  Friends and parents and school are the center of her life, and Stef is really trying to come into her own.  Her parents are nervous about almost everything, and then the city announces possible changes to the rules for food truck, and her art teacher runs out of supplies.  Well, you might not guess it, but it’s all going to be connected.

And into this drops Davy Jones.  Actually, Davy Jones is Viviana Vega here.  Stef pulls a Marcia Brady and sort of hints she can get Viviana Vega to come to the school dance.  Will it work out?  Let’s just say that Viviana is no Davy Jones.  But Stef Soto is still pretty awesome.  Fun, light, and a great story about real people and real families.

Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres.

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eggs-actly enough

egg.pngIf you are a lover of pastels, this book is for you.

If you are a lover of Kevin Henkes books, this book is for you.  (Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is a must on days when you are feeling angry about your personal Mr. Slinger taking away your new toy.  And once you get past being furious, you can appreciate his awesome sandals and socks.)

If you love Pigeon  books (Mo Willems), this book is also for you.  (There are important emotions happening here…stuff in small squares… that kind of thing.)

Ok, it’s actually for everyone.  It will make you slow down for a minute.  It will make you smile.  Is it enough?  It is.  It is perfectly enough.

egg by Kevin Henkes

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Clark and Sharks

9780807521878_swimming-with-sharks-512x636Eugenie Clark spent her childhood weekends observing sharks and other aquatic life at an aquarium and grew up to become an expert in sharks with her own marine lab and aquarium.  How cool is that?  Super cool!  Others might not have believed in her or threw up road blocks because she was a woman and Japanese American, but that didn’t stop her.  She observed, took notes, observed some more, took more notes.  “Sharks are magnificent and misunderstood,” she said, and she set out to prove it and to protect all kinds of sharks from humans.

How much do I love all the books coming out about women in science?  A TON!  A BUNCH!  A LOT!  Add this one to the list.

For more on women in science and/or math, see these previous posts:

Pathfinders & visionaries — https://liowabrary.wordpress.com/?p=2287

Not so hidden now — https://liowabrary.wordpress.com/2017/01/12/not-so-hidden-now/

Women in science & math — https://liowabrary.wordpress.com/2016/11/21/women-in-science-and-math-a-few-favorites/

Swimming with Sharks: The Daring Discoveries of Eugenie Clark by Heather Lang and Jordi Solano

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Return to Pumpkin Falls

yours-truly-9781442471863_hrI like Truly Lovejoy.   She reminds me of mystery heroines I read when I was a kid – Nancy Drew, for one – but without some of the added baggage.  (Mainly Ned Nickerson.  I never warmed to Ned.) Truly is a swimmer, a poor knitter, and has a big family plus relatives, friends and local characters to keep her life interesting.  Truly is not some genius spy and often misreads situations, but she has a cell phone and some friends, so mysteries don’t need to stay that way, even if they’re more than a hundred years old.

It’s a quick and cozy read – no shooting, no violent stalkers, no evil villains out to take over the world.  But it’s a sweet break from reality, and one I was happy to take.

Yours Truly: A Pumpkin Falls Mystery by Heather Vogel Frederick

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outside-229x300If you time traveled back about 12 years ago, you could witness the joy and excitement wrapped up with this one word in our family:  OUTSIDE!  Always in capital letters and needing an exclamation point, often really shouted right before thump, thump, thump, thump, the run to the back door, we loved OUTSIDE! in our house.  Even if it meant bundling up in snow pants and coat and boots and hat.  Even when we might just be running around in circles on the driveway.  There were afternoons of building forts and lounge furniture.  (You might be surprised to find out how comfortable a snow sofa can be.) There were days of chasing the neighborhood bunnies and creating complicated chalk railroad tracks so that Thomas or Percy could escape Diesel 10.  We scootered around the block and looked for pennies in the dead drops we created.  We ate peas from the pod in the garden as we talked about how much we liked the weird purple flowers.  Yes, the past is a little rosy where OUTSIDE! is concerned.

Then, years later, you come across a book like Outside.  And it all comes back. A kid goes outside.  That’s all you need if you’ve got your imagination.  Giants and dragons can be found just a few steps from your home.  Masterpieces can be created from snow and trees and what you can dream up.  It’s all there, just waiting for you.  OUTSIDE!

Outside by Deirdre Gill

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