Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Sitter is a T-Rex!

Paul Orshoski
Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler

My parents have plans to go out and that means I’ll have a babysitter. When the doorbells rings, the only one surprised is me – it’s a T-Rex, and she says to call her Sue. My parents leave for the evening, and the fun is just beginning. All I want to do is run and hide from Sue. She starts to count to ten, thinking I’m playing a game. A hungry T-Rex is a messy T-Rex and Sue looks for food everywhere. Mom and dad should be home soon. What am I to do?

My Sitter Is A T-Rex! is part of the We Both Read series. The left side of the page is meant for the parents to read, with the content more detailed. The right side is for the child to read with less detail. Challenging words are in bold so parents can discuss them with their child. This series has been developed with reading education specialists to help parents make the most of their reading time with their children. There is a “Parent Introduction” at the beginning of the book encouraging parents to make the most of their children’s reading time. This is an ingenious way to bring the reading experience between parents and young readers to a unique quality enjoyment time.

Ebbeler’s illustrations are comically colorful and lend to the text so Sue is more than just a T-Rex, but a pink bubble-gum covered mess you just won’t see anywhere else. Neither will your children. The pages of bright-mixed-up color and fun are engaging and will keep young readers involved.

BIBLIO: 2011, Treasure Bay Inc., Ages 4-6, $9.95.
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Picture Book
ISBN: 978-1-60115-253-4

REVIEWED FOR: Children’s Literature, Online Version, 2-15-11

Dear Baby I’m Watching Over You

Carol Casey
Illustrated by Mark Braught

Good morning, Baby! A military parent wants to remind their baby of their love and prayers. Letters are sent; memories left behind, and are pictures kept. Are distant parents hungry at the same time their loved one left behind is? So many questions, so many constant thoughts. Letters and pictures from home become like treasures. To the family that is left behind, how do soldiers explain why they leave you? Little ones, teenagers, their job is to protect our country, hence – always watching over you.

Dedicated to U.S. service men, women, veterans, and their families. This book is written for the children, as they hear or read the words, that they should feel more peace with one of their parents overseas. Our military are remembered for future days and memories. Those times will be important, for the child and parent alike.

How often do young children question the absence of a military parent? The one who stays behind may not always be the parent; could be an aunt, uncle, grandparent, or even a good friend. The sacrifice of the soldier is sometimes more than what was expected. Children have a hard time understanding that sacrifice. This book is unusual in that it has the opportunity to remind children of all ages why their military parent is absent. As a post-script, this book is printed and published in the United States.

There is a warm quality to Braught’s paintings engaging each image contextually different. The soldier who kisses the letter – you want that it to be your letter he received. It is your hand you want traced so your child will hold it for memories. It is your dad, husband, or brother, saluting the flag that is committed to protecting our country. These paintings are that engaging.

BIBLIO: 2011, Dear Baby Books, Ages 2-8, $16.95
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Picture Book / Rhyming Text
ISBN: 978-0-9820972-3-6

REVIEWED FOR: Children’s Literature, Online Version, 2-15-11

Rain Brings Frogs – A Little Book of Hope

Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Nate loves to be positive in everything he sees – the rain brings frogs and he likes frogs. One ice cream cone is enough to share, no matter what someone else might think. Behind the clouds is the sun. For Nate, it’s really just about perspective. Why complain about the mud when he finds a rainbow in it? There is always something fun, something happy, or something good, that he can find in every situation. Instead of being sad that he wasn’t first, Nate is glad he finished. What a great attitude! Instead of complaining about what he doesn’t have, he is happy with what he has. How about you? Just give it a try.

The simple colorful illustrations are perfect for the expressive text. Nate’s can-do, positive attitude makes him a winner every day – rain or shine. Children need to learn that life is not perfect, and sometimes they need to be able to deal with the changes that come. A positive attitude is much better than a complaining whining one.

While the illustrations are colorful and simple, the recommendation of newborn readers is a little much. Reading is usually for comprehension and newborns have not yet developed comprehension for reading. However, two to seven year olds should enjoy the book.

BIBLIO: 2011, Harper Collins Publishers, Ages Newborn - 7, $9.99.
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Picture Book
ISBN: 978-0-06-196106-9

REVIEWED FOR: Children’s Literature, Online Version, 2-15-11

A Rose Revealed

Gayle Roper

Rose Martin is the witness to a horrific explosion. Why this should happen is yet to be determined, but two people died and Rose’s life could be at risk. She is advised not return to her home, but to find a safe place to stay. Something she is not prepared to do, to put her life on hold while the bomber is found. Until, she realizes the house she will be staying at has an apartment owned by a very interesting Amish man, Jake Zook. Her attraction to him is complicating, yet he appears to have no response to her at all. Living with the Amish, Rose learns about the politics between different families, districts, and even communities. The culture is very different for her, a telephone is available outside in a shed, and they don’t have a television or read the newspapers. The longer Rose stays in the apartment, the more her heart yearns for Jake, but the politics of his family could permanently divide them.

This is the third of the Amish Farm Trilogy, and was first published as The Decision. The main character, Rose Martin, struggles with forgiveness for herself. In the back of the book, the author addresses this issue, “God doesn’t ever ask us to forgive ourselves.” Again, “If we say we have to forgive ourselves, are we saying Jesus didn’t do enough when He died for us?”

The author makes it an issue within the text of the book and again at the end. For anyone who has committed a sin against themselves is having a difficult time letting go of that sin. Most within the Christian fellowship church of believers, would say, “Forgive yourself. Do not continue to carry this bondage against yourself.” This was not the place for Ms. Roper to place limitations on those who are dealing with spiritual bondages she doesn’t understand.

BIBLIO: 1999, Harvest House Publishers, Ages Adult, $10.99.
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Fiction Romance
ISBN: 978-0-7369-2588-4

REVIEWED FOR: Children’s Literature, Online Version, 2-15-11

The Story of the Leprechaun

Katherine Tegen
Illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert

This little man was a very good shoemaker and he kept his gold earnings well hidden. Everyone around knew he was a leprechaun, but no one had tried to bother his gold yet. It was a man named Tim that first tried to steal from the leprechaun. Tim saw the shoemaker’s gold and decided he just had to have it for himself. He also knew the shoemaker was a leprechaun and if he could catch him, he would be granted three wishes. The little man knew what Tim really wanted and he was ready for the three wishes. Tim’s violet-blue shoes were ready, but Tim was too quick for the shoemaker. Though the little man had been caught, Tim’s three wishes were one of greed and he had been tricked. The leprechaun decided he needed a better place to hide his gold. Wonder where that could be.

The charming pencil illustrations are the excellent representations for this story. Who knew what a leprechaun looked like? So colorful, yet the frustration on Tim’s face when he cannot find the shoemaker’s gold is perfect.

BIBLIO: 2011, Harper Collins Children’s Books, Ages 3-8, $12.99.
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Story Picture Book
ISBN: 978-0-06-143086-2

REVIEWED FOR: Children’s Literature, Online Version, 2-15-11

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I'll Always Love You

Hans Wilhelm

Children just seem to get the idea of love very easily…especially when love is shared with a pet. This pet is Elfie – “the best dog in the whole world”. Elfie grew up with her boy, even if she did grow a little faster than he did, it didn’t matter to either of them. Adventures were more fun shared together as birthdays were, and naps were too. She was special to everybody in the family…mom, dad, little sister, and bigger brother. They all said so, but only her boy told her he loved her every day and every night. They did everything together, including evading trouble. Then, Elfie stopped growing, and started slowing down. A trip to the vet and Elfie’s family got sad. Elfie was just getting old and her family knew they wouldn’t have much more time together.

The illustrations are muted watercolors to engage the younger age children. So beautifully done, the illustrations even catch the expressions on Elfie’s face. Wilhelm has taken the issue of a pet’s death and gently incorporated it into I’ll Always Love You. Death is a concept, or issue, that small and older children may have a difficult time understanding. Yet, within these pages, her boy tells Elfie every day, “I’ll always love you”, and when her time comes, he knows he did right by his best friend. There’s a lesson here for families everywhere, with or without pets. Remember to tell those you love, that you love them. When you read this gentle love story to your children, love on them and tell them how much you love them also.
As a side note, I first read this charmer to my oldest son, now 29, then my youngest son, now 20, and still have the original copy that was purchased in the mid 1980’s.
The author has informed me it will soon be available by Random House as a hard cover. Wilhelm’s book placed on the 1987 Massachusetts Children’s Book Master List.

BIBLIO: 1985, Random House Books, Ages 4 - 8, $6.99.
REVIEWER: Debby Willett
FORMAT: Picture Book / Easy Reader
ISBN: 978-0-517-57265-8