How to Take Care of Your Dinosaur by Jason Cockcroft

How to Take Care of Your Dinosaur

Jason Cockcroft, Author-Illustrator

Nosy Crow, Fiction, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 2-5

Themes: Dinosaur, Pet, Owner’s Guide, Humor, Friendship Imagination

Opening: Congratulations on your new dinosaur! When you first meet him, you might find that he is surprisingly shy. But don’t worry. He’ll soon come out of his shell!

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Taking care of your very own dinosaur can be a bit tricky at first. But if you follow a few simple guidlines, like making sure he gets plenty of food and exercise and remembering to clean up his gigantic poop, you may find you’ve made a lifelong friend.

Why I like this book:

What a hoot! How to Take Care of Your Dinosaur is both utterly delightful and an imaginative picture book for young children. Which means kids will be tickled by all the things the boy must do to care for his gigantic pet — starting with a healthy breakfast and trying to figure out how a shovel BIG dinosaur poop into a wheel barrel.

The text is written like a manual for owning and taking care of a pet, which can easily be translated into a guide for any child thinking about getting a new dog, hampster or cat.

The illustrations are oversized, as is the large green dinosaur, with his short legs and long tail. Each page is packed with fun details that children will have a grand time exploring. My favorites include the boy’s dog’s reaction to meal times, the poop, bath time and bedtime. Hilarious! And, make sure you check out the funny end papers of the delivery man.

Resources: This is a great read aloud at home or school!  Let kid’s imaginations soar as you encourage them to draw a colorful picture of the dinosaur they might like to own. What color of dinosaur would they pick? What would they name their dinosaur? Where would their dinosaur live? Would they really want a dinosaur for a pet? Or would they prefer another animal for a pet like a crocodile, horse, giraffe, or elephant. Have fun with this book!

Jason Cockcroft was born in New Zealand and raised in England. He is the illustrator and author of more than forty books for children, and he illustrated U.K. covers for the last three books in the Harry Botter series. He’s very happy to live in Addingham, England, a beautiful city that sounds like church bells, smells like chocolate, and is invaded by Vikings all year round.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

A Wish in the Dark

Christina Soontornvat, Author

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Mar. 24, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes:  Fantasy, Privilege, Oppression, Poverty, Justice, Friendship, Courage, Self-discovery

Book Synopsis:

After a Great Fire destroys the city of Chattana, a man appears before the starving people and offers to bring peace and order to the city. He is called the Governor and he magically lights the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights across the river represent freedom and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them in the city. But when Pong escapes from the prison, he realizes that the world outside is just as unfair as the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb lights, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.

Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear. Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, Christina Soontornvat’s twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a dazzling, fast-paced adventure that explores the difference between law and justice — and asks whether one child can shine a light in the dark.

Why I like this book:

A Wish in the Dark is a timeless Asian fantasy that is exquisitely penned by Christina Soontornvat.  Her storytelling and literary style elevate readers’ sense of wonder. The magical Thai setting, well-crafted characters, riveting plot and the gorgeous imagery are so beautifully intertwined that they create an electrifying experience.

At the beginning of the story, the main characters Pong, Somkit and Nok, are 10 years old. As the story unfolds readers will experience their character growth to age 13, as they journey towards self-discovery, which is different for each. Pong is an observer, who has become restless in the confines of a prison. He wants his freedom. Pong looks out for his best friend, Somkit, a small boy who has health issues. When Pong flees, he feels guilt over leaving his defenseless friend behind. The bond between the boys is so natural that they feel like brothers. Nok is the warden’s daughter. She lives a privileged life and is brainwashed by the Governor’s magic and believes his teachings are sacred. Pong and Nok are complete opposites and their journey is fraught with tension and excitement.

This stand-alone novel deals with many social justice issues: the inequality among classes, poverty, oppression, greed, corruption and power. In this novel, power is used by the Governor to control and manipulate those he claims to care about. In Father Cham, a monk, and Ampai, a woman living among the poorest citizens, power is used in loving kindness for the good of all people.  It is a particularly relevant discussion point for students in classrooms.

Verdict: This book is a gem. It may appear to be dark, but don’t let that fool you. Because at its center, there is heart and light.

Christina Soontornvat grew up in a small Texas town, where she spent many childhood days behind the counter of her parents’ Thai restaurant with her nose in a book. She is the author of engaging picture books, chapter books, and middle grade books for children, including the fantasy series, The Changelings, and the upcoming nonfiction account of the Thai Cave Rescue, All Thirteen. She now lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and two children.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the MMGM link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by the publisher in an exchange for a review.

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera by Candace Fleming

World Bee Day – May 20, 2020

Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

Candace Fleming, Author

Eric Rohmann, Illustrator

Neal Porter Books/Holiday House , Nonfiction, Feb. 4, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 6-9

Themes: Honeybees, Life cycle, Bee colony, Collecting nectar

Opening: One summer morning deep in the nest, a brand-new honeybee squirms, pushes, chews through the wax cap of her solitary cell and into…a teeming, trembling flurry. Hummmmm!

Book Summary:

And so begins the story of Apis mellifera.

Follow the life cycle of this devoted and extraordinary worker as she cleans the hive, tends to larvae and the queen, builds wax comb, and guards the hive from invaders — before embarking on her first flight to seek nectar.

Why I like this book:

Candace Fleming’s nonfiction book about the secret life of bees is a story about the wonder of nature. I have always been fascinated with honey bees, but I have never  understood them as much as I do now.  I am in total awe!

Fleming’s text is lyrical and full of suspense. It is storytelling at its best. Children will have a close-up view of the birth of a honeybee, watch her grow and instinctively know what she has to do to fill her destiny as a worker in the hive.  Her life-span is only 35 days.

Readers (including adults) will be captivated with Eric Rohmann’s breathtaking oil paintings that are larger than life. The illustrations are so detailed that children will see each fuzzy hair on the honeybee, her straw-like tongue (not visible to the human eye), and her antennae. The building of each comb in the hive is a marvel. There is a beautiful centerfold spread of the honeybee’s first flight.

Make sure you check out the fascinating information in the backmatter. It includes a two-page diagram of the different parts of a honeybee; factual information about bees and the colony; the various flight dances that bees do to communicate flower sources; how to help the diminishing bee populations; and National Geographic online video resources.

Resources: Many children are afraid of bees. I remember being afraid as a child. This book may help them with their fears if they can study and talk about bees in their classroom or at home. Set aside an area in your backyard or school where you can plant a wildflower garden with the flowers and thistle that may attrack bees. Then watch and count the different kinds of bees that visit specific flowers.

Candace Fleming is the author of more than twenty distinguished books for children including The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion and the Fall of Imperial Russia, winner of, among other awards, the Boston Globe — Horn Book Award for Nonfiction, the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award, and a Sibert Honor.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

On the Horizon by Lois Lowry

On the Horizon

Lois Lowry, Author

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Memoir, Apr. 7, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 10-13

Themes: Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, World War II, Bombardment, Personal narratives, History, Verse

Book Jacket Synopsis:

Every person has a place in history.

Two-time Newbery medalist Lois Lowry reflects on her own in this moving account of the lives lost and forever altered in the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima and the lives lost in WWII’s most infamous events.

Drawing on the stories of real people at Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima, as well as her own memories, Lois Lowry introduces readers to the only set of twin sailors aboard the USS Arizona, a Japanese child folding origami cranes in the wake of the unfathomable horror of the atomic bomb, and even her own grandmother. Through each vignette, this stunning work in verse contemplates humanity and war, sings with pain and truth, and emphasizes the importance of empathy in bridging cultural divides.

In turns haunting, heartbreaking and uplifting, On the Horizon searches for commonality and connection and will remind readers of the horrors and heroism in our past while offering hope for our future.

Why I love this book:

Lois Lowry personalizes WWII’s most infamous events — Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima — for young readers who may not be familiar with this period of our history. It brings history to life through the moving and heartbreaking stories of ordinary individuals, who are unaware of what will happen at 8:15 a.m. Some survived. Others didn’t.

The story is told in free verse which beautifully fits the tone of each vignette. It is told in three parts. Lowry carefully crafts each and every word so that readers feel that they have been part of something powerfully intimate. She does so with simplicity and sincerity.

Kenard Pak’s black and white illustrations are haunting and will evoke a response from readers. This book belongs in every school library.

Make sure you read the Author’s Note at the end because you get a sense of how long it took Lowry to find a way to tenderly tell her story with reverence, which is intertwined with so many people and events. When readers finish the book, they will feel like they are holding something sacred in their hands and they have an obligation to work for a more peaceful tomorrow.

Lowry has also done an audio recording of On the Horizon. I believe it’s her first-ever recording. Make sure you have tissues on hand!

Lois Lowry lived in many places growing up, cincluding Hawaii and Japan during the years around World War II, and now lives in Maine. She is the author of more than forty books for children and young adults, including Newbery Medal winners, Nuber the Stars and The Giver. Visit her at her website.  You can also visit her on Twitter @LoisLowryWriter.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a purchased copy.

Welcome to Your World by Smriti Prasadam-Halls

Welcome to Your World

Smriti Prasadam-Halls, Author

Jaime Kim, Illustrator

Candlewick Press,  Fiction, Mar. 10, 2020

Suitable for ages: 2-5

Themes: Babies, Animal babies, Mothers, Nature, Natural Habitats

Opening: Welcome, little baby, / round your mam curled. / Welcome, little baby. / Welcome to your world.

Synopsis:

With lyrical language and stunning illustrations, Welcome to Your World takes readers from ice-capped mountains to the depths of the sea. Tender scenes between animals and their babies encourage families to join in the loving bond that connects them to one another and to the wonders of our planet.

This beautiful book is ideal for sharing with new babies, new parents, and children just venturing out in the world, as best-selling author Smriti Prasadam-Halls and acclaimed illustrator Jaime Kim provide both a celebration of nature and a gentle reminder to protect it.

Why I like this book:

A stunning celebration of mothers (human and animal) introducing their babies to their bright new world. Mothers develop playful relationships as they bond with their new offspring — a cheetah, giraffe, fawn, whale, turtle, eagle, polar bear, and elephant. “Listen to the creatures of the air and land and sea, living whole and happily, living wild and free.”

The rhymic and repititive text will appeal to children senses. “Look up to the sky…look into the ocean…hear the gentle whisper of fields…taste the juicy berries…feel the raindrops…” Such lovely imagery. Children will love pouring over Jaime Kim’s breathtaking double-page illustrations and looking at the detail of different animal habitats. There is also a gentle reminder that we need to protect nature.

This inspiring book is a perfect Mother’s Day book as well a lovely gift book for new parents.

Resources: This is a book that older siblings will also enjoy. Read it together as a family. Encourage children to draw a picture of their family or a favorite animal pairing.

Smriti Prasadam-Halls is an award-winning, internationally best-selling children’s author whose books have been published in more than thirty languages. Her titles include the Publishers Weekly #1 bestseller I Love You Night and Day, illustrated by Alison Brown. Smriti Prasadam-Halls previously worked at the BBC and in children’s publishing and television as a writer and editor for twelve years. She lives in London with her husband and three sons.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided by the publisher in exchange for a review.

Gold Rush Girl by Avi

Gold Rush Girl

Avi, Author

Candlewick Press, Fiction, Mar. 10, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 10-14

Themes: Gold Rush, San Francisco, Tent City, Danger, Independence, Freedom, Friendship

Opening: “Have you ever been struck by lightning?
I have.
I write not of the sparkling that bolts from the sky, but of gold, the yellow metal buried in the earth and the shatter-wit world of those who seek it. That world turned me topsy-turvy, so that I did things I never dreamed I would or could do.”

Publisher Synopsis:

Thirteen-year-old Victoria (Tory) Blaisdell longs for independence and adventure, and she yearns to accompany her father as he sails west in search of real gold! But it is 1848, and Tory isn’t even allowed to go to school, much less travel all the way from Rhode Island to California. Determined to take control of her own destiny, Tory stows away on the ship.

Though San Francisco is frenzied and full of wild and dangerous men, Tory finds freedom and friendship there. Until one day, when Father is in the gold fields, her younger brother, Jacob, is kidnapped. And so Tory is spurred on a treacherous search for him in Rotten Row, a part of San Francisco Bay crowded with hundreds of abandoned ships.

Beloved storyteller Avi is at the top of his form as he ushers us back to an extraordinary time of hope and risk, brought to life by a heroine readers will cheer for. Spot-on details and high suspense make this a vivid, absorbing historical adventure.

Why I like this book:

Avi’s story is electrifying — pun intended! His storytelling is rich and visual and will stimulate your senses. Readers will smell the stench of San Francisco — the rotting boats,  street sewage, drunken and sweaty men, and soaked sailcloth tents. They will feel what it’s like to trudge through thick mud and dense fog. “The land of glittering gold revealed itself as mostly rich in rubbish.” 

What a joy it is to journey with Tory (13) and experience the gold rush through her point of view. With gold fever high, the plot is brimming with excitement, trickery, risks and danger. The research that went into every detail of this story, really gives readers insight into this historical time period. When Tory and her family arrive in San Francisco Bay, she is shocked to see hundreds of ships that were deserted in what was called the Rotten Row. Sea captains and their crews headed towards the gold fields. Make sure you read Avi’s note and map about the shipsof Rotten Row at the end, because it is fascinating!

The characters are multi-layered, but memorable. Tory is a spunky and determined heroine. When her father leaves for the gold fields, Tory is left to care for her young brother, Jacob (9), who is sullen, worries and waits on the beach for his mother to arrive. Because of the high cost of food and supplies, their money runs out. Tory buys men’s clothing and finds work rowing arriving passengers ashore, working construction and doing other jobs. She’s paid in grains of gold and is delighted that she is gaining more wealth in the city than her father is laboring in the fields. Tory is living the freedom and independence that’s she’s longed for. She’s happy, physically and mentally strong.

There many colorful characters in the story. Tory develops a friendship with Thad, who works at a local store and helps her improve her rowing skills. Thad is a calm and quiet and a nice balance for Tory. But he also enjoys taking risks, drinking and gambling. Across the street from her tent, is Senor Rosales, a Mexican café owner. He is a kind “uncle” and does his best to keep an eye on both Jacob and Tory. She also befriends a black boy, Sam, who plays his bugle at a shady saloon owned by an evil man, Mr. Kassel. When Jacob suddenly disappears, it is Sam who tells Tory about seeing Jacob at the Mercury and fears he’s been kidnapped and is being held on a vacant ship. The threesome jump into action to save Jacob’s life. Tory must rescue Jacob before her father returns from and gold fields and her mother arrives from Providence.

Avi leaves the story open-ended. There is so much more he could write about Tory and her friends. After all, San Francisco exists as a tent city. I hope there is a sequel. This book belongs in every school library. Verdict: This book is a winner!

Avi is one of the most celebrated authors writing for children today. He has written published over 70 books. Among his most popular books are Crispin: The Cross of Lead, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Nothing but the Truth, the Poppy books, Midnight Magic, The Fighting Ground and the City of Orphans. having received two Boston-Globe – Horn Book Awards, a Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, a Christopher Award, a Newbery Medal, and two Newbery Honors. He lives in Colorado.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided fee by the publisher in exchange for a review.

Feminist, Social Justice-Themed Board Books for Children

I Want to Be…, Nibi is Water and I am Violet, are part of Second Story Press’s first season releasing feminist, social justice-themed board books for babies and toddlers, ages 0-3 years. The three books explore some  amazing and unusual jobs people do; talk about how we use our precious water; and celebrate the color of our skin. Such a wonderful and diverse series of books for little ones! There is simplicity in all three books and they are beautifully illustrated in bright colors that will please toddlers.

I Want to Be…A Gutsy Girls’ ABC

Farida Zarman, Author and Illustrator

Apr. 14, 2020

Synopsis: Filled with diversity and empowerment, little girls will see that they can be anything they want. There are an alphabet of possibilities for when you grow up. Some jobs sound fun — ice sculptor, toymaker, dog handler, kite designer, party planner, and wind farmer. And some jobs sound exciting and important — jockey, aerialist, novelist, sportscaster, oceanographer, and mountain climber. Each fun letter is complimented by an illustration of a girl filled with delight and wonder as she shows us how we can be anything we want to be.

Nibi is Water (Nibi Aawon Nbiish)

Joanne Robertson, Author and Illustrator

Apr. 14, 2020

Synopsis: A first conversation about the importance of nibi (water) told from an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) perspective. Toddlers will learn about the many forms of water in rain, snow and ice. They use water to drink, bathe, brush their teeth and flush the toilet. They build snowmen in the winter, swim in the pool or canoe on a lake. Nature depends upon water to grow plants, food, and trees. Animals need water to drink and fish swim in water. Our role is to thank, respect, love and protect nibi in our daily activities.

I Am Violet

Tania Duprey Stehlik, Author

Vanja Vuleta Jovanovic, Illustrator

Synopsis: This book celebrates and explores how people come in a rainbow of beautiful colors. A little girl looks around her and sees that some people are blue, some are green, some are red. People in the world come in a rainbow of colours and Violet herself is a wonderful mixture of her mom and dad. Her mom is red, her dad is blue, and, as the little girl declares: “I am proud to be both. I am proud to be me! I am Violet!” Her message of pride and acceptance has been simplified for the youngest among us so it can be shared even earlier.

Resources: All three books are great first discussion books. Parents can help toddlers  identify letters associated with amazing gender-neutral jobs; they can talk with them about protecting water and learn dual language words (glossary at the end); and they can help their little ones explore their own skin color and the skin color of others.  Encourage children to draw pictures of fun jobs, how they use water, and self/family portraits showing their skin colors in bright colors. Children have big imaginations.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copies provided by the publisher.

Seed Savers: Lily (Book 2) by Sandra Smith

Seed Savers: Lily (Book 2)

Sandra Smith, Author

Flying Books House, Fiction, (2012)

Suitable for Ages:  9 and up

Themes: Futuristic adventure, Gardening, Government, Friendship, Trust, Betrayal

Synopsis:

When 13-year-old Lily hears that her best friend, Clare, and her brother, Dante, are missing and presumed runaways, she is confused. Then she learns their mother, Celia, is arrested by the Green Resource Investigation Machine (GRIM) on charges of illegal plant possession — a tomato. It all makes sense now to Lily. They ran to save the future and the present. Lily is left behind and wonders why they didn’t take her with them. But they entrust Lily with the bulk of their precious seed collection, given to them by an older woman, Ana, a seed saver.

The only thing that keeps Lily focused is tending to the banned vegetable seeds she planted in vacant lots scattered all over town before the disappearance. As she rides her bike all over town, she keeps a look out for GRIM. Is she being followed? Lily hides her gardening activities from her mother. She is happy to make friends with Rose, who becomes Lily’s alibi for tending to her illegal plants. She also meets a mysterious teen from California, Arturo, who knows what Lily is doing. Has he been spying on her? Lily doesn’t know who she can trust.

In attempt to find out what happened to her missing friends, Lily sneaks visits to Ana, who has taught  her everything  she knows about gardening. Not only does Lily learn about a seed saver network that may be protecting Clare and Dante, she unearths a disturbing secret from her own past.

Why I like this book:

Sandra Smith’s futuristic adventure (2077) series for teens is timely, compelling and skillfully crafted. I like the seamless transition from the first book Seed Savers: Treasure to the second book, Lily. From the start, Lily discovers her friends are missing and wonders why she is left behind. In Book 2, readers will learn about Lily and how she will advance the story — her undercover activities, covert meetings with Ana that reveal more about the underground Seed Saver network, new friendships, and family secrets that will make her question everything in her life.

The characters are realistic, courageous, and believable in their efforts to keep the cause alive. I also like the diverse cast of characters. Both Lily (part Japanese) and Arturo (Mexican) are relatable. Rose is curious about gardening, but her odd behavior of disappearing for days is disconcerting for Lily. Ana is the wise mentor that takes great risks to teach the younger generation about the past. They want to support a cause that is important to them and they want to better their world.

This engaging and fast-paced plot is an ideal read for teens who are environmentally conscious and may have concerns about genetically modified organisms (GMOs). It also raises some serious questions about the future of the food supply in our country.  It is a known fact that large corporations continue to control more of our food supply, put small farms out of business and use more GMO products. Smith says that “the historical political references in her Seed Savers series are factual,” although she’s changed the names of corporations.

Lily is the second book in the seed savers series and is told from Lily’s viewpoint, after Clare and Dante flee. It is followed by Heirloom, Keeper and Unbroken. Visit Sandra Smith at her website.

Resources:  Click here at Flying Books House for discussion questions on the first two books in the series. They are perfect for classroom or book club use. May there be a day when all our food is processed and comes in the form of Proteins, Sweeties, Vitees, Carobs and Snacks? And check out the author’s note at the end of the book.

Sandra Smith is the author of the award-winning Seed Savers series. She has a Master’s degree in Teaching English and spent over twenty years teaching students of all ages English as a Second Language. As a child, Sandra worked on her parents’ berry farm and enjoyed eating from her mother’s tremendously large garden. She maintains that if you can’t taste the soil on a carrot, it’s not fresh enough. Today, she lives in the city with her husband, cats, and backyard hens. She grows a small, urban garden every summer. When she’s not gardening or turning tomatoes into spaghetti sauce, Sandra writes poetry or novels inspired by her garden.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided by author.

****Winner of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, reviewed April 20 on my website, is Darelene Foster. Congratulations! I can see your address, so I will send you an e-mail and get your mailing address. Candlewick Press will send you the copy. Hope you enjoy the book!

Sleep: How Nature Gets It’s Rest by Kate Prendergast

Earth Day – Apr. 22, 2020

Sleep: How Nature Gets It’s Rest

Kate Prendergast, Author & Illustrator

Candlewick Press, Nonfiction, Sep. 10, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes: Animals, Sleep, Habitats, Nature

Opening: Cats and dogs sleep curled up…when they aren’t playing.

Book Synopsis:

Giraffes sleep standing up. Sloths sleep upside down. Meerkats sleep in a heap.

From giraffes and sloths to horses and cows, every animal must find a way to get some rest. Discover the sleeping habits of animals around the world in this beautifully illustrated book that will spark wonder and fascination in the natural world for young readers.

Why I like this book:

Children will explore the sleep habits of their favorite animals in their natural habitats, making this a perfect bedtime picture book especially for Earth Day.

The narrative is simple and an easy book for young children who are learning to read books to themselves. This book is a concept book that introduces children to animals they may not be familiar with. It also has interesting and fun facts for children, like “Fish swim when they sleep and never shut their eyes.” Older children will enjoy the more detailed information about each species in the backmatter of the book: “Sloths snooze for about fifteen hours a day, high up in tropical treetops. They don’t move very much, but they do come down from their trees once a week to go to the bathroom!”

You only need to look at the gorgeous cover to see how beautiful and realistic Kate Prendergast’s animal portraits are. The warm and cozy watercolors are richly detailed. Readers will want to reach out and pet the tiger. Lovely presentation of text and artwork.

Resources:  Visit a zoo, farm, or take a walk in the woods. Observe how the animals sleep and point out their behaviors, their differences and similarities. Take pictures or draw pictures of your favorite animals sleeping.

Kate Prendergast is the author-illustrator of Dog on a Digger. After working for years in the transportation industry and raising her children, she decided to get an MA in children’s book illustration at Cambridge School of Art. She lives in London.

Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

*Review copy provided free by the publisher in exchange for a review.

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis and a Book Giveaway

Book Giveaway 

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made

Stephan Pastis, Author and Illustrator

Candlewick Entertainment, Media tie-in edition, Fiction, Mar. 3, 2020

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: Detective Agency, Mistakes, Failure, Self-Confidence, Comics

Book Jacket Synopsis:

My names is Failure. Timmy Failure.

I am the founder, president, and CEO of the best detective agency in town, probably the nation.

The book you are holding is a historical record or my life as a detective. It has been rigorously fact-checked. All the drawings in here are by me. I tried to get my business partner to do the illustrations, but they were not good.

This book, and my life, are the inspiration for a new movie, Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made. It can been viewed on Disney +. It’s true. Now, in addition to being the best detective in town, probably the nation, I am also a movie star. My greatness knows no bounds.

Why I like this book:

Cartoonist Stephan Pastis brings back his boastful and overly confident Timmy Failure in this hilarious specialbook for fans. Pastis’s comedic timing is brilliant. You’ll have to admit that 11-year-old Timmy is an adorable character who is clueless about his lack of skills and his failures, but lovable all the same. Then add his imaginary and lazy business partner, Total, a 1500-pound polar bear who spends most of his time gorging on trash, and what you end up with is Total Failure Inc.

The narrative is first person TIMMY and is witty, sarcastic and entertaining. His last name was once Fayleure, but someone changed it to Failure. He certainly lives up to his name.

“I am the soon-to-be head of multi-billion-dollar employer of thousands who made it big by adhering to one simple credo: Greatness.

I am a detective without peer.

A visionary without limits.

A pioneer of tomorrow who only challenge now is to remain humble.”

The truth is that Timmy is totally bored in school and his teacher’s and other students don’t understand him or his rich fantasy life, which leads him to a lot of trouble at school and home. Timmy is socially inept in his interactions with other characters — Weevil Bun, Rollo Tookus, and Jimmy Weber. And then there is his arch nemesis, Corrina Corrina (aka The Beast) who is smart, tutors other students and has her own successful detective agency. And Timmy does not lose a client to Corrinna Corrina. Fortunately for Timmy, he does have a mother and other adults who do care about him.

Readers won’t be disappointed in their unforgettable and favorite hero. He succeeds to fail at everything, but he does so with charm and pride. Pastis’s black and white comic illustrations adorn every page and will leave readers roaring with laughter. And the fact his unorthodox story of failure has elevated him to stardom, shows Timmy’s brand of detective work is heartwarming to his fans.

Resources:  You can’t fail to have fun at Timmy Failure’s website. Check it out!

Book Giveaway: In order to participate and win a copy of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, leave a comment below by April 26! Tell me if you’ve read the other books in the series and which one is your favorite. Or tell me if you are new to this series and would love a chance to win a copy. You must live with the US or Canada to participate.

Stephan Pastis is a New York Times best-selling adult author of Larry in Wonderland and Pearls Before Swine. Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made is his first book for young readers, and is followed by Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done and Timmy Failure: We Meet Again. He lives in northern California.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Review copy provided fee by the publisher in exchange for a review.