Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Your Mommy Was Just Like You. Kelly Bennett. Illustrated by David Walker. 2011. Penguin. 32 pages.

Your mommy was born bright-eyed and fuzzy-topped. Just like you.
I'd rock her and blow on her tummy and tickle her toes.
She'd giggle and coo, and play 
"Where's Baby Peek-a-boo?"
Just like you.

I really enjoyed this sweet picture book. It's a great story focusing on family life. It's narrated by Grandma! And does she have some stories to tell to her granddaughter! All about when the little girl's mommy. Stories about when she was sweet as sweet can be, and stories about her fits and tantrums! In each story the grandmother shares with her granddaughter, she points out her mommy was once just like her.

It's predictably cute and adorable and sweet. I really found it enjoyable. I loved reading the stories and looking at the illustrations.

The Boss Baby. Marla Frazee. 2010. Simon & Schuster.  40 pages.

From the moment the baby arrived, it was obvious that he was the boss. He put Mom and Dad on a round-the-clock schedule, with no time off. And then he set up his office right smack-dab in the middle of the house. He made demands. Many, many demands. And he was quite particular. If things weren't done to his immediate satisfaction, he had a fit.

Thus begins The Boss Baby a charming, oh-so-delightful look back at the early days of parenthood written by Marla Frazee. I loved this one from the first spread. The art had me at hello. (It was very retro.) And the text, well, the text was clever and fun. The joke--the 'office' humor--could have gotten old perhaps in the hands of another author. But. I found this one to be so true-to-life, so charming, so funny--in a clever, grown-up way--that it worked from cover to cover.

This is a picture book that I found myself reading and rereading just so I could take in every detail.

All The Things I Love About You. LeUyen Pham. 2010. November 2010. HarperCollins. 40 pages.

There are oh so many things I love about you. 
I love the way your hair looks in the morning.
I love how you look in pajamas.
Although getting you out of them is another story.
I you eat.
I love watching you play with Papa.

I loved, loved, loved LeUyen Pham's Big Sister, Little Sister, so I was VERY excited to see she had a new book: All The Things I Love About You. I was NOT disappointed! This one is so sweet, so adorable, and oh-so-true! In this one, a mom is sharing the many-many ways she loves her child--her baby. In this case, it's a boy. But it wouldn't have to be a boy. All of the sentiment could just as easily be expressed for a dear baby girl!

This one is focused on the family, on the intimate scenes of family life. From the "struggles" of getting a little one dressed in the morning, to the sweet little hugs, to the sloppy mealtimes, etc. Through text and illustration, this family comes to life for readers.

Mad at Mommy. Komako Sakai. 2010. October 2010. Scholastic. 40 pages.

Mommy, I -- I --
I am so mad at you!
You always sleep late,
especially on Saturdays.
Always and always.
You always watch your shows
and never let me watch cartoons.

This little bunny could tell you a dozen reasons why he is so, so mad at his mommy! Perhaps you can relate?! But as our narrator shares his feelings, as he lets his anger out--using words--he begins to calm down. Not at first, perhaps. But by the end, he's ready to make up again. He realizes just how much he loves, loves, loves his mommy!

I really, really liked this one. There were places I loved it. The narrative voice was great. It felt believable, authentic, kid-like. One of the reasons I enjoyed this one so much is because of the illustrations. I thought they were wonderful! I just loved them! Especially the one where this little bunny is waiting and waiting and waiting for his mother to hurry up!

Just What Mama Needs. Sharlee Mullins Glenn. Illustrated by Amiko Hirao. 2008. Harcourt. 32 pages.
On Monday Abby wore a red-striped shirt, raggedy pants, and a black patch over one eye. She swaggered around and sliced the air with her sword. "Yo, ho, ho!" she shouted. "A pirate!" said Mama. "Just what I need." So, Abby helped Mama swab the deck. Swish. Swish. Swash.
Abby, our heroine, loves to play dress up, loves to play make believe. Every day of the week readers see Abby at play. And every day of the week readers see just how much Abby is loved by her mom. I loved Abby. I loved seeing how her Mom uses her daughter's creativity--her imagination--to her advantage. I especially loved Saturday when Abby was a queen.
"So Abby helped Mama do the royal shopping. The store doors opened at her command. She rode high in her silver carriage and called out her orders: "Five bananas! Two loaves of bread! One jar of peanut butter!" She helped pay with coins from the imperial treasury. Plink. Plink. Plink."
I've never read a book about chores that was so charming.

Finn Throws A Fit! By David Elliott. Illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering. 2009. Candlewick Press.

Finn likes peaches.

Brilliant from cover to cover. This one is perfect, just perfect. A true been-there-felt-that kind of book just right for parents (and all adults really who've ever been around young children). What is this one about? Finn. Throwing. A. Fit. Not just a little fit. A managed fit. This is a full-blowout-need-back-up-fast kind of fit.

Today, Finn is cranky.
Anything could happen.
Thunder in the nursery!
Lightning in the kitchen!

All of the book works, the text just feels right. But my favorite-and-best line that just works oh-so-well (and makes me grin) is this one:

It lasts until it doesn't.

That is just so-very-very true. Anyway, I loved this book. Just loved it. And I think you'll enjoy it too!

Bedtime for Mommy. Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2010. (March 2010). Bloomsbury. 32 pages.

Time for bed, Mommy!

This bedtime book is practically perfect in every way. It's written by one of my very favorite authors, Amy Krouse Rosenthanal. It's also illustrated by one of my very favorite illustrators, LeUyen Pham. What is it about? Well, it's about a little girl who puts her mommy to bed. Everything from reminding her that it's getting time for bed, to making sure she's taken her bath and brushed her teeth. It's a sweet book; a cute book; an again-again book. It isn't the first picture book to reverse roles or to put a twist on the traditional bedtime story, but everything is so well done it goes straight to my favorite-and-best list.

I love, love, love the illustrations in this one. Pham takes a fun concept, a fun premise, and makes it work really, really well. I love how both the mom and the daughter are drawn. The way these two interact with each other, their scenes are just perfect, just right.

Bauer, Marion Dane. 2001/2009. My Mother Is Mine. Little Simon. Illustrated by Peter Elwell.

My Mother Is Mine is a wonderfully sweet board book. How would YOU describe your mother? What makes her so special? Why do you love her so? In My Mother Is Mine we get a variety of answers as an assortment of animals answer just this. From the little lamb we have, "My mother is soft." From the little giraffe we have, "My mother is tall and tall and tall." A little bear says, "My mother is brave." (Note to the reader: The animals aren't doing the talking. There is nothing in the text itself that relates these statements back to the animals. It's just that the animals are in the illustrations.) Anyway, the rhyming text is just fun. And I love the sweet message of this one.

It ends with a little girl writing her mother a love letter:

My mother is special.
My mother is fine.

My mother,

My mother,

My mother is mine!

© 2011 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.
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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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