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Kids Book Review – Mitzvah Pizza by Sarah Lynn Scheerger

 

MITZVAH PIZZA

Written by Sarah Lynn Scheerger

Illustrated by Deborah Melmon

(Kar-Ben Publishing; Hardcover $17.99,
Paperback $7.99, Ages 4-8)

 

Mitzvah Pizza Book Cover

 

In the new picture book, Mitzvah Pizza, written by Sarah Lynn Scheerger and illustrated by Deborah Melmon. Daddy Day is the best day of the week for Missy! Daddy brings the money and she brings the fun during their special time together. But today Missy plans to use her savings from Hanukkah and extra chores so she can be the one doing the buying.

The reader is introduced to the multi-colored city streets of Philly as the story unfolds. Dark haired Missy with her sweet round face and Daddy with his zipper jacket and baggy pants hold hands surrounded by men, women, babies and dogs and a sign reading The Pizza Corner above a red bricked corner eatery. In the past, Missy spent her money on a beaded necklace that broke and cinnamon candies that burned her tongue. Those mishaps made deciding what to buy on this outing hard. But there’s time to figure that out because Missy and her dad are taking a break to eat. Pizza!

The story takes a different direction when another girl and her daddy happen to be in front of the line. The two dads simultaneously ask, “What would you like?” Missy shouts out cheese and the other girl yells mushroom then they smile at each other, big and wide, with images of cheese and mushroom pizzas yummingly displayed in thought bubbles.

 

 

Mitzvah Pizza int spread

Interior spread from Mitzvah Pizza written by Sarah Lynn Scheerger and illustrated by Deborah Melmon, Kar-Ben Publishing ©2019.

 

When Missy’s new friend Jane pays with two stickies removed from The Pizza Corner’s wall, Missy begins to question why sticky notes are being exchanged for pizza. As the reader turns the page, they’ll see handwritten blue, yellow, purple, red and pink sticky notes with messages reading “Peace”, “Enjoy”, “Hope this Helps”, and “Pizza on me!”

When Daddy and Missy reach the front of the line, the man behind the counter asks Daddy if he’d like to make a donation to the Piece O’Pizza Fund. Daddy replies “Sure, it’s a mitzvah.” Mitzvah means good deed in Hebrew and Jewish children are raised knowing that giving back to those in need is the biggest mitzvah of them all. In fact another Hebrew work, tzedakah, means “giving to others while not making them feel as if they’ve been helped.” What wonderful values to instill in children!

After eating the pizza, Missy and Jane continue the fun by going to the park, not wanting to say good-bye, and Missy tells Jane about her upcoming birthday party inviting her to come. It’s when Missy and Daddy walk away from the park, that Missy realizes buying one sticky was nice but she has a mitzvah in mind to spend her money and they return to The Pizza Corner.

In this thought provoking story about giving back, young children will discover that they can make a difference with a mitzvah towards hungry people or just by being a good friend. The book’s back matter introduces us to Scheerger’s inspiration for the book, Mason Wartman, owner of Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia. A customer had asked him if he could buy a slice of pizza for someone who couldn’t afford it. This sparked the generous sticky note idea and now Wartman serves free pizza to thirty to forty hungry people every day! He even hired some of them to work in his shop! As Missy showed me, the next time I find myself in Philly, I plan on heading over to Rosa’s Fresh Pizza to place a sticky on the wall as my mitzvah for the day!

  • Reviewed by Ronda Einbinder

 

Click here to read another review by Ronda.

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Should I Stay or Should I Go? Groundhug Day by Anne Marie Pace

GROUNDHUG DAY
Written by Anne Marie Pace
Illustrated by Christopher Denise
(Disney-Hyperion Books; $17.99, Ages 3-5)

 

Cover image for Groundhug Day

 

Groundhug Day is a picture book delight that seamlessly weaves a heartwarming and credible friendship story together with Groundhog Day and Valentine’s Day holidays. Making a themed book that can be read on more than a few days each year is a feat few authors and illustrators attempt, but the winning combination of Anne Marie Pace and Christopher Denise have managed to pull this off quite successfully!

Moose is planning a Valentine’s Day party and he’d like to celebrate with all his pals. There is however just one little hitch. While Bunny, Porcupine and Squirrel can attend, if Groundhog sees his shadow on Groundhog Day, he’ll “go back into his hole for six more weeks.” In other words, he won’t emerge in time for February 14th festivities. So it’s no surprise that when Groundhog comes out and sees his shadow, he’s quick to head back down, but hints there’s more to it than that. Ever the intuitive one, Moose thinks perhaps his pal is afraid of shadows. Determined to show Groundhog that shadows aren’t scary at all, Moose enlists help from his friends to demonstrate “just how awesome shadows are.”

Here’s where young readers, already drawn into the story, will be treated to several beautiful pages of illustrations (in addition to to all the other striking artwork in warm welcoming tones) showing what wonderful things shadows are and can do. It’s easy to feel the joy both author and illustrator felt about creating this lovely picture book. More fun times are in store because, despite no longer being fearful of shadows, Groundhog must still get his six weeks of sleep! This tale, honoring the support that genuine friendship offers, is both a sweet and satisfying read that has all the feels you’d want from a picture book.

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

 

 

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How To Catch A Monster by Adam Wallace & Andy Elkerton

 

HOW TO CATCH A MONSTER
Written by Adam Wallace
Illustrated by Andy Elkerton
(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; $10.99, Ages 4-8)

Plus a Rafflecopter Giveaway 

cover image from How to Catch a Monster

A USA Today Bestseller!

From the creators of the New York Times bestselling How to Catch a Leprechaun and How to Catch an Elf!

There’s a monster in my closet,

with claws, and teeth, and hair,

and tonight, I’m going to scare him!

He lives just right through there …

Get ready to laugh as a young ninja heads into the closet to meet the monster that’s been so scary night after night! But what if things aren’t what they seem and our monster isn’t scary at all? What if our ninja hero is about to make a friend of the strangest sort?

 

Int artwork from How to Catch a Monster

Interior spread from How to Catch a Monster written by Adam Wallace with illustrations by Andy Elkerton, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky ©2017.

 

CLICK HERE FOR A STORY TIME ACTIVITY KIT

 

Int spread from How to Catch a Monster

Interior spread from How to Catch a Monster written by Adam Wallace with illustrations by Andy Elkerton, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky ©2017.

BIO:

Adam Wallace is a children’s writer and cartoonist living in Australia. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling How to Catch series and Only You Can Save Christmas.

Andy Elkerton is a children’s book illustrator based in the United Kingdom.

 

Int image from How to Catch a Monster by Adam Wallace and Andy Elkerton

Interior spread from How to Catch a Monster written by Adam Wallace with illustrations by Andy Elkerton, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky ©2017.

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When I Wake Up – Guest Post by Joanna Liu

THE BRILLIANT BENEFITS OF BOOKS AT BEDTIME

Guest Post By Joanna Liu,
Debut Author of When I Wake Up

 

When I Wake Up cover image

 

My favorite pastime? Bedtime reading with my children.

Snuggling up at the end of the day with Annabel (3), Atticus (1) and a gigantic stack of picture books makes me a very happy mommy. What can I say? I love the cuddles! Likewise, it makes for two contented and relaxed kids ready to settle down for the evening. It’s a win-win situation.

Really though, there’s no surprise here. It’s well-known that bedtime stories create important parent-child bonds and prepare children for sleep.

 

Interior artwork from When I Wake Up by Ming and Joanna LiuIn terms of a bonding experience it can’t be beaten; 20 mins each day set aside for one-on-one time with your child. Both parent and child can escape from their daily pressures and de-stress, with a cozy environment and magical books used as stepping stones to further conversations. Even if it is evening number 30 of reading Goodnight Moon 10 times in a row, with a continuous search for that little mouse, it’s a great experience. (Anybody else have children who want the same book reading over and over for weeks at a time?).

Interior artwork from When I Wake Up by Ming and Joanna LiuAnd as for preparing your child for sleep, well, let’s face it, a toddlers’ resistance to going to bed is pretty much a universal parent struggle. So, it is music to my bedtime-reading ears that child development experts agree that creating consistency in the evening is a key part of getting children to sleep easily. By establishing a nightly routine, such as a bath followed by bedtime stories and cuddles, you are providing the child with the predictability needed to make them sleepy.

However, the benefit of story time doesn’t stop here… Hang on – what could be even better then cuddles and calm kids before bed?

Interior Artwork from When I Wake Up by Ming and Joanna LiuRecent research has shown that a daily reading routine actually boosts your child’s brain development, improving logic skills, memory and speeding up the mastery of language.

When babies are read to, they begin to pick up on simple sounds. The more frequently a baby hears these simple sounds, the faster they can process them. As a toddler learning to speak, they have an advantage at successfully differentiating between words, such as cot, cat, car. Then, as a grade-schooler learning to read, they are far better equipped for sounding out unfamiliar words. In short, it’s a knock-on effect from having started the bedtime reading routine with fun, colorful picture books as an infant. Moreover, add to the mix rhyming and repetitive stories and you have an invaluable teaching tool.

Interior artwork from When I Wake Up by Ming and Joanna LiuAdditionally, daily reading also improves their social and emotional development, and works on their fine motor skills as they learn to turn pages.

Yikes, that’s a lot of benefits!

With the aim of capitalizing on all of these benefits, my husband and I wrote our award-winning children’s bedtime book, When I Wake Up. The story delivers fun, positive encouragement for toddlers to get to sleep on time and does so in an educational way.

Sleep Interior artwork from When I Wake Up by Ming and Joanna LiuWhen I Wake Up tells the tale of a grumpy young girl who doesn’t want to go to sleep … until her imagination takes over and she starts to think about all the fun things she can do the next day when she wakes up. She could dance, or paint, or host a teddy tea party! There are so many exciting possibilities. Tomorrow is packed full of potential and tomorrow will be a wonderful day.

The very simple yet powerful message about getting to bed on time to enjoy the following day is happily received by toddlers without them even realising they are learning. It leaves the toddler with feelings of happiness, playfulness, curiosity … and wanting to go to bed. Two enthusiastic cuddles-and-calm-kids thumbs up to that!

Throw into the mix the quality rhyme scheme, beautiful illustrations and sturdy construction of the board book – all of which When I Wake Up has received high praise for – and it’s easy to see why it’s quickly becoming a must-have companion for nightly routines.

When I Wake Up by Ming and Joanna Liu interior artworkThis evening, when you are snuggling up for bedtime reading with your toddler and a large collection of picture books, as you enter the enchanted world of story time, have a think about all of these fantastic benefits and give yourself a pat on the back – it’s not just an enjoyable routine for you and your child, it’s also a really, really important part of their development.

Right, I’m pumped about bedtime – how about you?

  • by Joanna Liu

PURCHASE DETAILS:
Here are the links for buying the book;
Amazon
or via the When I Wake Up website (which feeds into Amazon)
www.wheniwakeupstory.com

BOOK DETAILS:
When I Wake Up
Written by Ming and Joanna Liu
Illustrated by Hattie Hyder
$7.99
Ages 0-3

BRIEF BIO:
Joanna Liu is a British stay-at-home mom living in Washington DC with her American husband and their two children, Annabel and Atticus. She has a degree in Philosophy from the University of York, England and loves to encourage curiosity. She has lived all around the world, including London, Vancouver, Switzerland, Cairo and Frankfurt. This is Joanna’s debut children’s book.

 

DISCLAIMER:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not constitute an endorsement from GRWR. No compensation was received for this guest post.

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The Case of the Poached Egg: A Wilcox & Griswold Mystery by Robin Newman

THE CASE OF THE POACHED EGG:
A WILCOX & GRISWOLD MYSTERY
Written by Robin Newman
Illustrated by Deborah Zemke
(Creston Books; $15.95, Ages 4-8)

 

 

You’re eggspecting me to make yolks about this book, right? So here goes!

Eggceptionally funny, Robin Newman’s second Wilcox & Griswold mystery called The Case of the Poached Egg, will completely satisfy fans who’ve been hungry for a new installment following the duo’s Kirkus-starred first caper, The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake.

The trench coat garbed Captain Griswold and the narrator Detective Wilcox are mice on the move. MFIs (Missing Food Inspectors) have to be. It’s an animals steal food kind of world. Always seeking justice for the over 100 creatures on Farmer Ed’s Farm, this pair will stop at nothing to crack a case. So, after taking an urgent call from Henrietta Hen upset over the apparent egg-napping of her “precious Penny,” Wilcox summons his superior to accompany him to the crime scene.

This 48-paged early chapter book not only breaks down the tale into six easily readable chapters, it also cleverly divides actions/events into time and place. For example, Wilcox and Griswold begin their investigation at 10:30am, at the Chicken Coop. There they not only encounter a distraught Henrietta, but an unusually written ransom note too. The game is afoot! I mean an egg! I mean, read on!

The determined MFIs uncover a motive and eventually a culprit, just in the nick of time, using the process of elimination, mounting clues such as a bunch of farm animals oversleeping, a red goose herring (!), thorough questioning of witnesses and possible suspects, and hand writing analysis. All this, which takes place against the backdrop of Farmer Ed’s Big Speggtacular, plus, the cast of colorful characters caught up in the shenanigans including Gabby Goose, Colonel Peck, Miss Rabbit and Porcini Pig makes for amusing dialogue as readers try to solve the mystery along with Wilcox and Griswold. And though, as an adult, I solved the case early on, kids will eat up the chance to play detective and read between the lines, something the format of this clever police procedural actively encourages.

I’m always pulled into a story when there’s a map included, and illustrator Zemke’s created a super one. Her expressive illustrations work wonderfully to add action and emotion to this humorous and accessible story, while also making the thought of reading a chapter book not as daunting for the younger crowd! NOTE: Parents who may read this book aloud should not miss the legal disclaimer on the front endpapers or the author’s note beginning with  “No eggs, chickens, geese or roosters were harmed …”  I’m ready for another serving of Wilcox & Griswold, yes, ready indeed!

 

  • Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

 

 

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Flora & Ulysses and Journey Giveaway

Enter our 1000+ Twitter Followers Giveaway

Win Copies of Flora & Ulysses and Journey!

Flora & Ulysses

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by 2014 Newbery Medal Winner, Kate DiCamillo, with illustrations by K. G. Campbell, Candlewick Press, 2013.

A huge thank you goes out to Candlewick Press for this fantastic opportunity. (Plus, read what DiCamillo’s publicist, Tracy Miracle, has to say about working with this two-time Newbery Medal winner.) Three contest entrants chosen at random will receive a set of two award-winning books, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo (2014 Newbery Medalist) with illustrations by K. G. Campbell, together with Journey, a wordless picture book (2014 Caldecott Honor Book) by Aaron Becker.

Enter by clicking here. Include your name and address please. Remember to write 1000+ in the subject line. Contest ends at midnight PST on Tuesday, Feb. 18 and three winners will be selected and notified on Weds. Feb. 19, 2014. For eligibility, entrants must first follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Contest rules also available here. Good luck!

 

Journey by Aaron Becker

Journey, 2014 Caldecott Honor Book, by Aaron Becker, Candlewick Press, 2013.

 

“In addition to interviews with Kate DiCamillo, K. G. Campbell and Aaron Becker, we’ve been delighted to have both Flora & Ulysses and Journey reviewed on our site. So, it simply made sense to offer our readers a chance to share the enjoyment we’ve gotten from reading both these brilliant books. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t use this occasion to thank all our followers for their continued support. We love bringing our favorite books, authors and illustrators to our readers’ attention.”

Ronna Mandel, founder Good Reads With Ronna

“Working at Candlewick is an embarrassment of riches for any book publicist, honestly. There are too many wonderful books and authors, it can be overwhelming!

But working with Kate DiCamillo is a singular privilege that I can honestly say is one of the defining aspects of my career in publishing. Over almost a decade now, we have worked and grown together, and her books have continued to surprise and impress me at each publication. Not to mention, she’s a good person, and who doesn’t want to see a really, genuinely good person do well?

While no longer an underdog by any means, she’s still easy to root for. And I count myself among her biggest cheerleaders  — ever.”

Tracy Miracle, Sr. Publicist, Candlewick Press

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Making New Friends From a Hanukkah Mishap

Engineer Ari and the Hanukkah Mishap written by Deborah Bodin Cohen and illustrated by Shahar Kober ($17.95 hardcover, $7.95 paperback; Kar-Ben, ages 5-9) was reviewed by Ronna Mandel in the December issue of L.A. Parent.

Engineer Ari is trying to get from Jerusalem to Jaffa, Israel, to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with friends Jessie and Nathaniel. He’s bringing dreidels, a hanukkiah, a bottle of oil, a bag of Turkish coins and some sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts; a glossary in the front of the book offers more handy definitions), and children he meets on the way to the station chat about the story behind the holiday.

On board the train Ari can almost taste Nathaniel’s potato latkes and hear Jessie singing the Hanukkah blessings, but he will have to wait. Coming around a bend, Ari spots a camel relaxing on the tracks and must make an emergency stop, causing his caboose to derail.

Kalil, a Bedouin with long robes and a shepherd’s staff, comes to help Ari remove the stubborn camel. As the sun sets and the two men wait in a desert tent for help to arrive, Ari misses the chance to celebrate Hanukkah’s first night with his old friends, but is blessed to share the Festival of Lights with a new one.

While there may be a mishap, it turns out that everything about Engineer Ari and the Hanukkah Mishap is just right!

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Nancy Tillman Shares The Love

You may know author and illustrator Nancy Tillman from her bestselling picture book, On the Night You Were Born or maybe from Wherever You Are, My Love Will Find You. With the addition of her latest picture book, The Crown on Your Head ($16.99, Feiwel & Friends, ages 4-8) one wonderful common theme emerges –  children everywhere need to know that they are special and loved.

You will be pulled into the pages from the very first lines:

“On the day that we met and I put you to bed,
I noticed a crown on the top of your head.

It was made up of sparkling, glimmering things
like moonlight and fireflies, and dragonfly wings.”

Had this book been published when my children were young, I would have read this book to them nightly to instill in them a strong sense of self and confidence. And one of my favorites lines is just below:

“I always knew just what your crown meant.
It said that you were MAGNIFICENT.”

Tillman has an unerring ability to convey her convictions through warm, gleaming artwork, artwork that captures a little one’s inner joy and contentment at just being themselves and being loved for who they are. This book is pure gold.

The Crown on Your Head was reviewed by Ronna Mandel.

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Put a Lid on it, Mike!

BE QUIET, MIKE! ($14.99, Candlewick, ages 3-6), reviewed today by Lindy Michaels, was written and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli.

What kid hasn’t blown on a kazoo, pretending it was a trumpet?  What kid hasn’t let their fingers fly on a table top pretending it was a piano?  Well, from the time Mike, the monkey, was in his momma monkey’s womb, he was drumming to his own beat.  “Kick, thump, pow!”  It was a very active pregnancy for momma monkey, to say the least.  And once Mike was born “…He played with his fingers, he played with his feet, a funky little monkey, with a beat, beat, beat.”

As Mike grew bigger, there was nothing he came in contact with that didn’t become a… drum!  Banging on a wastebasket, slapping the water in the pool, clanking on a trash can.  And how was his creativity received by his family?   “BE QUIET, MIKE!”  But that didn’t stop this monkey as he grew older.  “He played on the table like a wild baboon…”  “BE QUIET, MIKE,” was what he heard day and night, over and over again. “Mike tried to be quiet, he tried to be still, but the beat in his heart, was stronger than his will.”

And then one day, he saw in the window of a music shop, “… a real live, full-sized jamming drum set”  “… an ape with long fur, beating so fast – arms and legs a blur.”

Ah, the sheer ingenuity of little monkey Mike.  He went home and used everything he could find in his house, like coffee cans and pots and pans and two sticks, to make his very own drum set.  And then he started to beat his home-made drums.  “Zat.  Zoom.  Crash!”

And just then his parents and sister opened the door to his bedroom.  Oh, yes, Mike certainly knew what was coming.  “BE QUIET, MIKE!”

But is that what happened?  I adore books  that encourage children to explore their bliss, even if it’s very, very loud!  Leslie Patricelli, the talented author and illustrator of the popular YUMMY YUCKYQUIET LOUDTUBBYTHE BIRTHDAY BOX and other fun children’s books, has done it again, when it comes to engaging children on their own level.  Now all you moms and dads,  go and give your little ones some pots and pans and let them go to town.  Just don’t forget some cotton for your ears!

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Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Return To School …

SCARY SCHOOL ($15.99, HarperCollins, ages 8-12) , written by Derek The Ghost and illustrated by Scott M. Fischer, is reviewed by Lindy Michaels of BookStar on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA.

BOO!! Right in time for the new year of quality education, SCARY SCHOOL is open and it’s inhabited by some really strange creatures, like Mr. Spider-Eyes, the hallway monitor, T Rex, who wears, of all things, a blue dress and blue bonnet, Ms. Fang, the sweetest homeroom teacher, who has one huge fang hanging out of her mouth (had she had two fangs, she would have been called Ms. Fangs! There’s Nurse Hairymoles, named as such for obvious reasons and oh, wow, she can bring you back from the dead. Trust me, she is kept extremely busy at Scary School. Then, of course, there’s Principal Headcrusher and Dr. Dragonbreath, named, yes, you guessed it, because he has really, really, really bad breath. Oh, wait! Did I mention Archie, the giant squid, who lives in the school’s moat? And… and… ooh… how could I leave out Mr. Snakeskin, the half zombie science teacher?

A new kid, Charles Nukid… no really, that’s the new kid’s name, started at Scary School that year and what a year it would be, because Scary School is chosen to host the annual, wait for it, Ghoul Games, this year. Did I mention that most of the children attending Scary School weren’t “regular” kids, like that new kid, Charles Nukid? Oh no, they were ghouls and goblins and vampires, oh my!

Now, all the ghoulish going-ons are narrated, for your reading pleasure, by none other than Derek The Ghost, who unfortunately, last year, became … a ghost, that is, when a science experiment in class went terribly, terribly wrong. And this is his story of  “…all the horrible and wonderful things that go on there.”

But do not fear, my children, because even if T Rex, who wears a blue dress, eats you up whole, (almost) all you children will come back to life, as I already mentioned, just perhaps not in the same shape you were before. That is, if you’re lucky! As the terrific children’s author, Dan Gutman, of the My Weird School Daze series, is quoted on the book’s back cover, says, “I died laughing. Weird monsters in silly situations. Why didn’t I think of that?”

This is such a hilarious, okay, creepy read, but of course, not for the faint of heart. So get to your bookstore (hopefully BookStar in Studio City where there are autographed copies!) and gobble up the totally cool, Scary School!

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Daddy, You Can Drive My Car

Powered by Love

Mitchell’s License by Hallie Durand and illustrated by Tony Fucile ($15.99, Candlewick, ages 3-7) is reviewed by Ronna Mandel.

With some strong neck muscles, and an eager driver, Mitchell’s dad hoisted his son upon his shoulders nightly to play a bedtime game of  “Remote-Control Dad.”  According to author Hallie Durand, her husband invented the game, guaranteed to get kids in gear for a road trip to dreamland. The inimitable Tony Fucile added the V6 powered artwork making this a fun-fueled story for preschoolers to second graders with a penchant for running on empty.

Meet Mitchell who, until his dad creates this nighttime ritual, will do whatever it takes to avoid his bedtime routine. Dad, however, has another plan in mind. He makes his shoulders the driver’s seat, his head the steering wheel and his eyeglasses the windshield. Together the father-son team steer clear of boring and head straight for adventure. Once Mitchell’s been assured that his father’s in tip top, road ready condition, the duo are off! But watch out, there are obstacles ahead and no signs to warn the car or driver! And while the horn and brakes work just fine, occasionally Mitchell’s dad (aka the auto) could use a tune up, an oil change and even some gas.

This laugh-filled, creative story may become part of your own family’s ritual so get those shoulders in shape for some serious driving and remember to look both ways before turning the page.

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You’re Sure to get “Stuck” on this Picture Book

Reviewed by Debbie Glade, STUCK is storybook you’ll want to keep around. It’s due to be published Nov. 11, 2011, so mark your calendars!

Why read a run-of-the-mill picture book when you can read an utterly adorable, whimsically illustrated and wonderfully entertaining book like Stuck ($16.99, Philomel, ages 3-7), by Oliver Jeffers? As soon as I saw the darling cover of this book, I just had to open it up. I must confess that part of the allure for me is that when my daughter was about two years old, she loved to say, “I’m stuck! I’m stuck!” Now she’s 19, but I know this book would still put a smile on her face.

So Stuck is about a boy named Floyd, who got his kite stuck up in a tree.  That may not sound all that exciting at first, but wait until you see the methods Floyd uses to try to get his kite out of the tree and the bigger mess he creates while trying to solve his dilemma. This is one of those cozy books you read to your child at bedtime over and over again, while admiring the illustrations and giggling throughout the story. Both you and your child will also enjoy the childlike font used in the book.

Author Oliver Jeffers (originally from Belfast) is a mega-talented author and illustrator who has won numerous awards for his various children’s books. With books as awesome as this one,  it’s no wonder why.

As for me, I’m sending my copy to my daughter in college, just to bring back some happy memories of her early years.

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One Noisy Monkey

BE QUIET, MIKE! ($14.99, Candlewick, ages 3-6), reviewed by Lindy Michaels, is  written and illustrated by Leslie Patricelli.

What kid hasn’t blown on a kazoo, pretending it was a trumpet? What kid hasn’t let their fingers fly on a table top pretending it was a piano? Well, from the time Mike, the monkey, was in his momma monkey’s womb, he was drumming to his own beat. “Kick, thump, pow!” It was a very active pregnancy for momma monkey, to say the least. And once Mike was born “…He played with his fingers, he played with his feet, a funky little monkey, with a beat, beat, beat.”

As Mike grew bigger, there was nothing he came in contact with that didn’t become a… drum! Banging on a wastebasket, slapping the water in the pool, clanking on a trash can. And how was his creativity received by his family? “BE QUIET, MIKE!” But that didn’t stop this monkey as he grew older. “He played on the table like a wild baboon…” “BE QUIET, MIKE,” was what he heard day and night, over and over again. “Mike tried to be quiet, he tried to be still, but the beat in his heart, was stronger than his will.”

And then one day, he saw in the window of a music shop, “… a real live, full-sized jamming drum set” “… an ape with long fur, beating so fast – arms and legs a blur.”

Ah, the sheer ingenuity of little monkey Mike. He went home and used everything he could find in his house, like coffee cans and pots and pans and two sticks, to make his very own drum set. And then he started to beat his home-made drums. “Zat. Zoom. Crash!”

And just then his parents and sister opened the door to his bedroom. Oh, yes, Mike certainly knew what was coming. “BE QUIET, MIKE!”

But is that what happened? I adore books that encourage children to explore their bliss, even if it’s very, very loud! Leslie Patricelli, the talented author and illustrator of the popular YUMMY YUCKY, QUIET LOUD, TUBBY, THE BIRTHDAY BOX and other fun children’s books, has done it again, when it comes to engaging children on their own level. Now all you moms and dads, go and give your little ones some pots and pans and let them go to town. Oh, yeah, just don’t forget some cotton for your ears!

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Rhino Tale

MY RHINOCEROS, written and illustrated by Jon Agee ($16.95, Scholastic, ages 3 and up), is reviewed today by Lindy Michaels.

So children, you want a pet? What kid doesn’t? How about a puppy? A kitty? A hamster? Parakeet? Goldfish? No? Well, that’s what the boy pondered when he went to the pet shop to find the perfect companion. “… When I bought my rhinoceros, I didn’t really know what I was getting into.” Ya think? And… all sales were final.

In truth, the boy’s rhinoceros was quite nice. Didn’t make noise. Never tried to run away and was very well behaved. On the other hand, he wasn’t a heck of a lot of fun, either. He wouldn’t chase a ball, or a stick or even a Frisbee! Yes, the boy had to admit it, his new pet didn’t do… anything.

And so the boy went to see a woman who was a rhinoceros expert! Bet you didn’t know there was such a thing, did you? And she told him the truth, that the only things these huge animals did were… pop balloons and poke holes in kites with their one big tusk. Really? Really, thought the boy. “How pathetic.”

And yet, his rhino wouldn’t do either. That’s right. This peaceful beast did nothing, even when the boy took his pet to the park where there were loads of kids with balloons and kites. “Maybe he’s a clunker,” the boy thought. “Maybe I should have bought a hippopotamus, instead.”

And then, while walking his disappointing pet home from the park, he saw a robbery in progress. Oh, no! And the two robbers were getting away in, wait for it, now, one in a balloon and the other in a kite.

So… will the boy’s pitiful pet pop the balloon and poke a hole in the kite with his pointy tusk? Will he make sure those robbers get their due? And in the end, does the rhinoceros have another talent even the boy could have never imagined? Ah ha! Never underestimate the power of a… rhino.

Jon Agee, author of Milo’s Hat Trick, Terrific and Nothing (all ALA Notables) has come up with yet another fun read with adorable and engaging illustrations.

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Kidlit’s Famous Bull

FERDINAND THE BULL …

is reviewed today by Lindy Michaels of Bookstar on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City.

This timeless oldie, THE STORY OF FERDINAND, (written by Munro Leaf with drawings by Robert Lawson) recently celebrated 75 years since first being published (for goodness sake, that’s older than me!) and continues to be one great goodie. What with the likes of Fancy Nancy, Pinkalicious and Dora The Explorer, some of the most wonderful and beloved classic children’s books have been all but forgotten and what a shame that is.

9780448456942lOf course, as all good stories begin, “Once upon a time in Spain, there lived a little bull and his name was Ferdinand.” Oh, yes, all the other little bulls did what, well, little bulls do. They ran and jumped and butted their heads together. But, no, not Ferdinand. All he wanted to do was to sit quietly in his favorite spot in the pasture and smell the flowers. His mother worried her little bull was lonely, but Ferdinand was happy being alone and breathing in the sweet, sweet scents. And that is how he spent his days.

But he didn’t stay little for long and, in fact, grew to be the biggest and strongest bull of them all. Because of this, when men came to pick out a bull for the greatest matador in Madrid to fight, of course, they looked at Ferdinand. Harmless, quiet Ferdinand? Then, just as he was sitting down to smell the flowers, the poor bull was stung by a bee, which made him go crazy. Hey! Bee stings can hurt even such a giant of a bull. Ferdinand began to snort and butt and paw the ground and the men knew they had found their prize.

The great day came, the flags were flying, the bands were playing and the matador couldn’t wait to get into the ring with this great and ferocious bull.  If truth be told, when he saw the size of Ferdinand and heard how ‘crazy’ he was, he was also quite nervous. Of course, we
know Ferdinand wasn’t fierce, at all, that is, as long as another bee didn’t sting his rump!

Once in the bull ring, Ferdinand walked into the middle of the great arena and… sat down and breathed in all the wonderful scents from all the flowers in the women’s hair who sat in the stands.  And he was so happy. The matador, who wanted to show off to the people how brave he was, was not so happy. Yes, it was back to the pasture for Ferdinand.

Now, anyone who has read my children’s reviews, knows how much I love a story with a good moral. So now, mommies and daddies, take your tots outside for a nice, long walk and please… stop and smell the roses!

lindymichaelspicThe very versatile Lindy Michaels aims to inspire young minds through children’s literature. Lindy owned L.A.’s first children’s bookshop, OF BOOKS AND SUCH (1972-1987) where she did storytelling, taught drama to children, had art and poetry contests and the like. According to Lindy, “It was truly a ‘land of enchantment.” She also spent years lecturing on realism in children’s literature at colleges in the state. For close to five years Lindy has worked for Studio City Barnes and Noble (BookStar) in the children’s section and does storytelling every Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

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