Sunday, September 29, 2013

6 Early Readers...and 1 Early Chapter Book

Squirrels on Skis. J. Hamilton Ray. Illustrated by Pascal Lamaitre. 2013. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Nobody knew how the mania grew. First there was one, and then there were two. Three more came gliding from under the trees. LOOK! On the hill. Those are squirrels on skis! Below lay the town, snow-covered and still. Not a sound could be heard. All was silent until... 
swwwishhhh swooped the skiers, all dressed for play. Eighty-five squirrels and more on the way! 

Squirrels on Skis is so much fun! It is over-the-top, that's true enough, but it is just so imaginative! Squirrels on Skis tell the story of a town overwhelmed by hundreds of squirrels on skis. The residents of the town are not pleased overall. One or two squirrels on skis is cute enough, but this many?! Well, something has to be done...NOW!!! But the squirrels are at risk too. Their skiing is out of control. They're so busy skiing that they're not eating or sleeping! An intervention is clearly needed...

Sally Sue Breeze is a good heroine. She's a reporter that may just be able to solve the problem and bring about a happy resolution for everyone!

I would definitely recommend this one!

A Pet Named Sneaker. Joan Heilbroner. Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre. 2013. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

There once was a snake named Sneaker. He lived in a pet store. It was a nice store. But Sneaker was not happy. He wanted a home. Many people came into the store. They took home fish. They took home birds. They took home hamsters. But they did not take home Sneaker. No one wanted a snake. Then one day, a boy came into the store. His name was Pete.

A Pet Named Sneaker is a fun beginner book. Most of the adventures occur out of the pet store. Readers see Sneaker at home with Pete, attending school with Pete, accompanying him to the swimming pool in the summer, etc. Sneaker is quite a pet! This pet snake even learns to read...

I liked this one. It definitely has more of a story to it than you might suspect.

Dig, Scoop, Ka-Boom! Joan Holub. Illustrated by David Gordon. 2013. Random House. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Here's the site and the crew. They have a mighty job to do! Dozer's blade shapes the land. Push it. Shove it. Move that sand! Digger's teeth bite the ground. Crunch, crunch, scoop! Tracks skid around. Rocks are big. They can't stay. Loader lifts them all away. 

I think Dig, Scoop, Ka-boom! works. I like the rhythm and rhyme. I like the simplicity of the words and sentences, the varying lengths of sentences. I also like the point of view leading up to the surprise ending.

The book is part of Random House's Step Into Reading series. It is a step one book, "ready to read."

Here Comes Super Grover! Sesame Workshop. Illustrated by Ernie Kwiat. 2013. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Candlewick Press publishes a handful of brand new readers. One of the series in this brand new readers series is Sesame Street. Here Comes Super Grover has four small stories: "Super Grover's Basket," "Super Grover and the Bike," "Super Grover and the Rock," and "Super Grover to the Rescue." A summary of each book is given before the story.

From Super Grover to the Rescue: "Elmo has a wagon. He sees the steps. Oh, no!"
From Super Grover and the Rock: "Super Grover sees a big rock. He tries to sweep the rock. He tries to push the rock."
From Super Grover's Basket: "Cookie Monster puts cookies in a basket. Super Grover pulls the basket up."
From Super Grover and the Bike: "Abby's bike has just one big wheel. "Try this!" says Super Grover. "That is a square," says Abby.

The book is simple and silly. Often stories have a small twist at the end. My favorite is probably Super Grover's Basket.

Abby Cadabby Up and Down. Sesame Workshop. Illustrated by Ernie Kwiat. 2013. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Abby Cadabby Up and Down features four stories: Abby and Elmo and the Basket, Abby and Elmo's Picnic, Abby's Boat, and Abby Comes To Visit. Each story is summarized before the story properly begins. The stories are very simple, but there are traces of humor in a few of them.

From "Abby's Boat": Abby floats her boat in the pool. Elmo puts an apple on the boat. The boat tilts. Abby puts her apple on the boat. The boat balances...

The book includes eight tips for parents on how to help your brand new reader.

Twin Magic: School Bully, Beware! Kate Ledger. Illustrated by Kyla May. 2013. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Lottie and Mia are twins. Their best friend is named Toby. He lives next door. 

I was not overly impressed by this early reader though I could see why other readers might find it charming enough. Lottie and Mia are twins with (secret) magical powers. These powers come in useful with solving every day problems the pair encounters. This second book in the series is all about a new kid at school, a boy named Max. Max is a mean bully. The book resolves very quickly, a bit too quickly in my opinion. Of course, Max isn't really a bully. He just is having a bad day. And of course, he's super cool and good friend material. The lack of characterization bothered me a bit as did the simplifying of a big problem. This one just didn't feel authentic, even without considering the magic.

Mr. Putter & Tabby Drop the Ball. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Arthur Howard. 2013. Harcourt. 44 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

Mr. Putter and his fine cat, Tabby, loved to nap in the summertime. They loved napping in the garden. They loved napping on the porch. They loved napping in the car. "It seems that we nap all the time," Mr. Putter said to Tabby one day. Tabby was old and her frisky days were over. She loved napping. "I think we need a sport," said Mr. Putter. Tabby opened one eye. "I think we need baseball," said Mr. Putter...

I loved, loved, loved this one! I love Mr. Putter and Tabby. I love the baseball team they join. I love Mrs. Teaberry and her dog, Zeke, who plays quite a big role on the team for better or worse! The team Mr. Putter and Mrs. Teaberry join is the Yankee Doodle Dandies. It's just fun and sweet all at the same time!

 This early chapter book has five chapters.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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