The Littles Go to School by John Peterson

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Title: The Littles Go to School by John Peterson

Premise:

Lucy Little is worried about going to school for the first time.  Her family reassures her that she will enjoy it, but she’s still scared.  When Tom and Lucy find themselves accidentally transported to school in the gerbils’ cage, Lucy gets a chance to explore the school and find out how fun it really can be.

My thoughts:

My son and I just finished this chapter book for school.  I think we may have made it through all the Littles books we own!  For some reason this wasn’t my favorite Littles book.  I think it may be because the action and adventure was very tame, apart from their being transported to the school by mistake.

My son enjoyed it and got a kick out of the silly things Tom and Lucy did while exploring the school, so I suppose it’s a bit more appealing to kids.  It may have also sounded similar to our homeschooling experiences.  Just like us, Tom and Lucy do the majority of their school work at home through mostly child-led activities.  They go to the “big school” for one week per year to meet with their classmates and teacher, Ms. Beta Gogg.

I recommend The Littles Go to School to those who are already fans of the Littles.

Rating: 3 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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The Littles and the Perfect Christmas by Joel Peterson

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Title: The Littles and the Perfect Christmas by Joel Peterson

Premise:

It’s Christmas at the Biggs’ house, but things aren’t so merry when Mr. Bigg loses his job!  Despite the depressing situation, Mr. Bigg works on a homemade gift for his son, which ends up being the answer to his employment problem.  The Littles are instrumental in helping to make sure the gift is perfect for when Mr. Winters, the toy company owner, comes to take a look at it.

My thoughts:

My son and I read this book together for school.  We didn’t like it as much as the other Littles books we’ve read.  It was probably because there was very little action in this story.  Mr. Bigg loses his job, the Littles fix a mistake on the toy Mr. Bigg made, and Mr. Winters comes for a visit.  The pace of the story is a bit slow, especially when reading it with a young-ish boy who wants a bit of excitement.

The story is cute and I like the angle they took with Mr. Winters, but I feel like the book would have been better if it were a little shorter.  It would be a fun story to read aloud to your kids during Christmas.

I recommend The Littles and the Perfect Christmas to kids who are reading beginner chapter books, or as a cute family read-aloud.

Rating: 3 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

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Title: Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

Notable: Book #1 in the Sarah, Plain and Tall series; Newbery Medal winner, 1986

Premise:

Anna and Caleb live on the Great Plains with their father.  Their mother died after Caleb’s birth, and their father has never quite recovered from the loss.  One day, Papa informs the children that he has advertised for a wife and a lady named Sarah has responded.  Sarah agrees to visit them on a trial basis to see if things will work out.  Anna and Caleb become attached to Sarah, but they’re terrified that she will decide to go back to her brother’s home in Maine.

My thoughts:

I read this book when I was a kid and it’s just as good today as it was back then.  It’s amazing how such a touching story can be contained in such a short book.  My copy is a mere 58 pages.

I feel so sorry for poor Anna and Caleb who are pining for a mother’s love and for their father to recover some of his joy again.  When Sarah sweeps into their lives, she’s like a breath of fresh air.  She tells them about her beloved far-off sea and the creatures who live there.  They go swimming in the cow pond, slide down a hay “dune,” and Papa teaches Sarah to ride horse and drive the wagon.  But when Sarah visits town by herself, the children worry that she won’t return.

It’s that climactic final scene when Sarah returns and reassures the family that she intends to stay, when your heartstrings are tugged the most.  I just love this touching story about loss, hope, family and new beginnings.  It’s a beautiful story.  🙂

I recommend Sarah, Plain and Tall to kids who are reading beginner chapter books, or as a poignant family read-aloud.

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

OTHER SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL SERIES POSTS:

Pippa Mouse by Betty Boegehold

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Title: Pippa Mouse by Betty Boegehold

Premise:

Join Pippa mouse and her friends, Weber Duck, Gray Bird and Ripple Squirrel, as they take part in some fun and wholesome adventures!  The friends build nests, work together, play on the ice and celebrate Christmas together.

My thoughts:

I absolutely adore this book!  It is so fun, cute and innocent that you can’t keep from liking it.  Pippa mouse is a playful and inquisitive young mouse who likes to get others to join in her adventures.  Each story features one of her short adventures.

The overall story is very simple, reminding me of the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel.  They have that same story form and wonderful drawings which are just as integral to the story as the text.

The illustrations are by Cyndy Szekeres and are done in nature-centric 70’s style.  They are thoroughly charming and make the animals look so cute you could just gobble them up.  Just seeing the drawings of Pippa Mouse kind of makes you fall in love with her.  🙂

I recommend Pippa Mouse to young readers, and to families as an excellent read-aloud story.  I think it will become a new family favorite.

 

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah & James Howe

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Title: Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah & James Howe

Premise:

The Munroe family finds an adorable baby bunny at the movie theater.  Harold, the family dog, and Chester, the cat, aren’t particularly concerned about the newest member of the family until funny things start happening to the food at night.  Could the cute and seemingly innocent bunny be the culprit?  Chester is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, but how far will he go in his quest for the truth?

My thoughts:

I read Bunnicula as a child, but had never gone back to it since that time.  I forgot what a little gem of a book this is!

The book is written from the perspective of the dog, which makes for some very funny reading.  Things are explained from a dog’s point of view, and with a dog’s understanding and priorities.  Seeing things from his perspective gives the story a unique twist and makes it really fun to read.

Even though the book is quite short, there is a lot of humor and personality packed into the pages.  Chester is a thoroughly neurotic cat and he goes a bit bonkers in his quest to find out what Bunnicula gets up to at night.  Harold is a happy-go-lucky dog who is willing to give their new bunny a chance, but he’s also forced to rein in Chester just a tad bit.  The Munroe family seems to be good-naturedly dimwitted, and eventually the situation is resolved in such a way that they are none the wiser about the eating habits of their little bunny.

I think that the characters of Chester and Harold really make this book.  It’s almost like they’re the cat-dog version of the famous Laurel and Hardy comedy duo.  Chester is serious and uptight, whereas Harold is the bumbling, kindly oaf.  They play off of each other sooo well!  The scene where they are both trying to sit in the same chair is hilarious!

I recommend Bunnicula to children who are beginning to read chapter books, up through preteens.  It also makes a fun, quick family read-aloud.  This would be a great book to read around Halloween, too!

A favorite quote:

“Chester turned to me and said under his breath, ‘That lettuce looks repulsive, but if there’s any milk left, I get it.’  I certainly wasn’t going to argue with him.  I’m a water man myself.”  (p. 10)

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

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Title: The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman  It’s a 1987 Newbery Medal winner.

Premise:

Jemmy is the unfortunate whipping boy for Prince Brat, spoiled and wayward heir to the throne.  Feeling bored, the Prince decides to run away and takes Jemmy with him.  In the outside world the Prince discovers that he needs Jemmy’s help, and the two boys develop a bond which neither one expected.  Can the boys outwit a couple of cutthroats who are determined to catch them so that they can collect a ransom from the king?

My thoughts:

I’ve loved this book since I was a kid!  It’s very short and ideal for children who are reading beginner chapter books.  There are occasional black and white drawings scattered throughout the book.

I don’t know how Fleischman did it, but he manages to pack a lot of personality and a great lesson into a very short story.  Prince Brat and Jemmy have very nicely developed characters, each one making you either loathe or love them.  The lesson contained in this book is about friendship and giving people second chances.  Jemmy could have easily left Prince Brat to fend for himself, given how much he had already suffered because of the Prince’s mischievous ways.  However, when the boys were truly in need, they had to rely on one another and they formed a bond which defied convention.

The Prince also got a look at life outside of the castle, which he had never been allowed to engage in before.  He meets a couple of thieves, a young lady and her dancing bear, the hot-potato man, and a rat catcher in the sewer.  He also has many first-time experiences such as shaking a commoner’s hand, going to the fair, exploring the sewers, and eating a potato.  The new adventures and relationships he experiences set him up to be a more thoughtful and considerate ruler when his time comes.

I recommend The Whipping Boy to children who are beginning to read chapter books (though older kids would enjoy the story, too).  It also makes a fun, quick family read-aloud.


Possible Objections:

  • Some violence

Rating: 5 Stars

 

Until next time…

Lori

Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet, and Silly by Scott Nash

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Title: Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet, and Silly by Scott Nash

Premise:

The author has taken classic works of literature and condensed the essential story into short verse form.  Each story is fun, playful, and rhyming.  They are also complemented by cute, juvenile illustrations.  The works included are: The Odyssey, Frankenstein, Moby-Dick, Jane Eyre, A Thousand and One Nights, Hamlet, Don Quixote, The Metamorphosis, and Remembrance of Things Past.

My thoughts:

I stumbled on this book when I was doing a search of the library’s system for Jane Eyre graphic novels.  It’s such a neat concept for a book that I just had to share it with you!

I love that the author decided to share the gist of these classic stories in a way that is accessible and appealing to young children.  The rhyming verse and charmingly playful illustrations combine to create a book which children would love reading with their parents.

I should note that the author made a few changes to stories which needed a bit more innocence than their original story contained.  For instance, Frankenstein has a different ending because, obviously, you don’t want the Dr. and his monster killing one another.  Hamlet also experienced significant changes, but I think it was done in a very clever way.

I recommend Shrunken Treasures to parents who want to introduce their children to the classic stories in a way that is fun and easy, while keeping the story at a child’s level.  It would also appeal to adult fans of classic literature who like to see interesting adaptations of their favorite works.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Wild Eats and Adorable Treats: 40 Animal-Inspired Meals and Snacks for Kids by Jill Mills

wild-eats

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I love the cover of this cookbook!  Doesn’t it look so fun?  Wild Eats and Adorable Treats is a rare child-friendly cookbook which features HEALTHY recipes.

Premise:

Instructions to make 40 animal-themed recipes.  Categories include: breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner and treats.  Author shares how and why she started making these healthful and fun food treats–to tempt her own children to eat more fruits and vegetables.

My thoughts:

I really, really like this book and think we might add it to our own collection of family-friendly cookbooks.  The foods are appealing to children, the presentation is fun, and I won’t feel guilty about serving this food to my family.  Each recipe is based on a particular animal, includes tips and tricks, and facts about that particular animal.

The recipes use basic ingredients and mostly simple techniques.  Some of the instructions are complicated though, because there are exact cutting directions and/or precise food arrangement.  For this reason, I think it’s probably best for parent and child to work together, or for the parent to be on standby.  Also, make sure that you leave enough time to make these creations.  Some of them have somewhat finicky details, so don’t make them if you are pressed for time.

In the beginning of the book the author shares a short history about how she started making these healthy recipes, information pertaining to her blog, and why she thinks this kind of eating is important.  I can definitely relate to her desire to get her family eating more healthy!  If we made these snacks at my house, my kids would probably not be clamoring for junk food so much.

I recommend Wild Eats to families who want to incorporate more healthy food into their diets by getting artistic and playful with their food.  I think kids will have a great time paging through this book and picking out a fun recipe to make.

Recipes Included:

Breakfast: Chicken and Egg Breakfast, Whole Wheat Walrus Waffles, Birdy Breakfast, Cinnamon Bunny Buns, Doggy Oatmeal, Kangaroo Pancakes, Owl Breakfast, Pink Piggy Smoothie and Bagel Breakfast

Lunch: Panda Pita Pizza, Cow Lunch, Horsey Hot Dogs, Pigs in a Snail Shell, Crabwiches, Baby Birdy Egg Salad Lunch, Ladybug Lunch, Lion Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries

Snacks: Peachy Parrot, Gorilla Granola Bites, Foxy Fruit Snacks, Porcupine Pear Pretzel Snack, Penguin Fruit Snacks, Apple Owl, Froggy Fruit Snack, Sheep Snack

Dinner: Chili Cat, “Hippo”tato Soup, Mini Shepherd’s Sheep Pies, Penguin Black Bean Soup, Dinodilla Dinner, Mexican Stuffed Froggy Peppers, Puppy Pot Pies, Mexican Billy Goat Quesadilla

Treats: Mini Moose Mousse Cups, Beaver Brownie Bites, Turtle Turtle Cake, Koala Pretzel Pops, Beary Cute Cupcakes, Cheetah Cheesecake, Animal Cupcake Cones, Monkey Banana Bread Cake Pops

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

wild-eats-2

Aesthetically speaking, this is my favorite recipe.  It is so cute!!

A Pirate Cookbook: Simple Recipes for Kids by Sarah L. Schuette

pirate-cookbook

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I love looking at fun cookbooks!  A Pirate Cookbook looked interesting, so I checked it out from the library.

Premise:

This book contains several pirate-themed recipes that are perfect for kids to make.

My thoughts:

When this book says that it is meant for kids, they are not kidding.  Do not think of this as a book that you are going to pick up and plan a pirate-themed menu from.  No, no, no.  This is a book that you would give your early elementary-aged child so that they can make pirate-themed recipes.

The recipes are very simple and use basic ingredients and techniques.  Also, their classification as pirate-themed is questionable.  I don’t think young kids will care too much about it, though.  They’ll probably just be happy to have a cookbook at their level with a fun theme.

The beginning of the book features a conversion chart, and a section on tools and techniques.  I would be comfortable giving this book to my seven-year-old and letting her tackle a recipe on her own (with mom standing by, just in case).  The instructions are quite straightforward.

I recommend Pirate Cookbook to children in early elementary school or kids who are just starting to learn how to cook.  With a little practice they will quickly outpace this book, but this is a fun way to get started in the kitchen.

Recipes Included:

Gangplank Dippers, Chocolate Gunpowder, Scurvy Soup, Peg-Leg Pickles, Blackbeard’s Breakfast, Sea Swords, and Parrot Punch

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Mouse Moves House by Phil Roxbee Cox

Mouse Moves House

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Mouse Moves House is a cute and relatively short phonics reader for kids who are learning to read.  It has a lot of rhyming words and short sentences.  There are also a few folded flaps that reveal a change in the illustrations.  The illustrations are by Stephen Cartwright and they are so cute!

In this story, Mack the mouse is moving house, so his friend Jack comes over to help him pack.  At the end, the mice encounter a cat and Jack panics.  It turns out the cat is Mack’s friend Fat Cat.  He helps transport Mack, Jack, and Mack’s belongings to his new home.

Toodles,

Jewls &  Lori

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