Sunday, March 02, 2014

Five 2014 Picture Books

Naughty Kitty! Adam Stower. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Lily wanted a doggy, but her mom said dogs were too messy, too smelly, and far too much trouble. So she got Lily something else…Kitty! He was a bit scruffy…and no good at tricks… but otherwise he was quite cute, especially when you tickled his tummy. And Mom was right, he wasn't any trouble at all…at first.

I loved, loved, loved Naughty Kitty! Lily can't believe ALL the trouble her kitty has gotten into today. But readers know something that Lily doesn't. And that is more than half the fun in this oh-so-playful read along adventure. Hint: A tiger has escaped from the zoo! The real story, of course, is communicated through the illustrations! I loved seeing the tiger sneak around on each and every page. I loved how clueless Lily was. And Kitty, as you can imagine, is quite an adorable, innocent-looking kitten. Everything about this one just worked for me!!!

Definitely recommended!

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

Zoe's Jungle. Bethanie Deeney Murguia. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: High above the jungle floor, the fearless explorer glimpses a rare spotted Addiebeast. She sails through the treetops, quickly closing in on the elusive creature. Zoe! Addie! We're leaving in five minutes! "Only five more minutes? I'm not ready! It's still adventure time! And exploring time! And chase time! And…and…and… It is definitely NOT leaving time! I repeat, it is NOT…" Four minutes! "Is there no respect for the explorer and her quest?"

I have enjoyed the previous Zoe books. I definitely liked this one. I like Zoe and Addie. I like seeing them at the park or playground. I like seeing them being so active and using their imaginations. I like the storytelling too. How the story closes with Zoe embracing the story of it. The adventure is now done, now it can be told and retold. It is a way to continue the fun and still be obedient! I liked how the illustrations switch back and forth from the real world situation (playground) to the imaginative jungle of Zoe and Addie.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

A Pet for Fly Guy. Tedd Arnold. 2014 Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: A boy had a pet fly. He named him -- Fly Guy! Fly Guy was the smartest pet in the world. He could say the boy's name -- Buzz! One day Buzz said, "Fly Guy, we are going on a picnic!" Buzz and Fly Guy played chase all the way to the park.

For young readers who enjoy the Fly Guy books, this new one should prove just as enjoyable. Buzz and Fly Guy are enjoying their day together when they notice that others at the park have pets. Buzz decides that Fly Guy should have a pet too. They think about all the typical pets. But. As readers may guess, a typical pet just won't do. A frog? A cat? Not best friend material. Fly Guy hears Buzz describe all the best traits a pet should have, and he realizes he's had a pet all along.

I am not especially a big fan of this series. I think series books are important for young readers, and this one is a good choice for those in the target audience.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

Hello, Moon! Francesca Simon. Illustrated by Ben Cort. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Hello, Moon! Can we talk? I get lonely down here sometimes. What I want to know is… Do you have a bouncy bed? I like bouncing on my bed. Do you go to the park, Moon? I like going down the twisty, turn slide. Do you like chocolate ice cream? That's my favorite food. Do you pretend you're a crocodile? Do you play pirates? So do I! What else do you do?

A curious but lonely little boy has a conversation with the moon in Francesca Simon's latest book, Hello, Moon! I enjoyed the illustrations and the story. I thought it was very creative and playful. I think it's a bit unusual for a bedtime story, which, could be a very good thing depending on if your child connects with the book. After all, there are only so many times you can enjoy reading stories about sleepy bunnies and lambs.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

The Tree House That Jack Built. Bonnie Verburg. Illustrated by Mark Teague. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Here is the boy up in the tree where he built a house overlooking the sea. Yes, this is the tree house that Jack built. Here is the fly that buzzes by the tree house that Jack built. Here is the lizard that snaps at the fly that buzzes by the tree house that Jack built. Here is the parrot who pecks at the lizard that snaps at the fly that buzzes by the tree house that Jack built. But who swats the parrot?

The Tree House That Jack Built did not work for me. Then again, I'm not usually a fan of any adaptation of the House that Jack Built. This one had potential in the beginning. But with the introduction of the parrot, well, the text just lost it. It lost the rhythm and the rhyme and the patterning. By the end, I felt it was a mess. That being said, the best thing about this one is the bright, bold illustrations by Mark Teague. I really loved the illustrations. I thought they were very well done.

Text: 1 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

© 2014 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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