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Play and Learn with Wallace: Giant Workbook by Roger Priddy

Play and Learn with Wallace: Giant Workbook
by Roger Priddy is reviewed by Rita Zobayan.

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Play and Learn with Wallace: Giant Workbook by Roger Priddy, Priddy Books/Macmillan, 2014.

Summer is lots of fun for children, but it can also mean learning loss for some students. This might be especially true for students gearing up to enter kindergarten. Play and Learn with Wallace: Giant Workbook (Priddy Books/Macmillan, $12.99 Ages 3 and up) with
content created by Ellen J. Bretherton, has over 300 activities that work on tracing, pen control, cutting and pasting, the alphabet, phonics, numbers 1-20, times table, days/months/seasons, colors/shapes/patterns, and telling time (both analog and digital).

Wallace the dog joins our young learners and helps them throughout the book. He’ll let them know what they need to do, such as “follow the direction of the arrows” or “paste the cutouts into the white squares.”

Number recognition is presented in fun games such as Matching Socks where you draw lines between socks or Bone Hunt where you match the dogs to their bones using number pairs.

For phonics, children will trace each letter and then draw a line to connect the sound to the picture that it begins with. They can also play Which Letter? where they look at each picture and then circle the letter that makes the starting sound.

Full of bright illustrations and photographs with multicultural persons, the Giant Workbook is engaging, as well as educational. The reward chart is a bonus. My youngest child has greatly enjoyed working her way through this book and hasn’t complained at all that this is “work.” I don’t think there’s a more positive review than that.

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The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles

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The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles, Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, 2014.

The Lost Planet (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, $15.99, Ages 9-13 ) is the first novel in a series by Venice, CA author Rachel Searles. I met this friendly and imaginative debut fiction author earlier in the year at a local event sponsored by Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse where Searles read from her book and explained its premise.

Readers will be introduced to Chase Garrety, a 13-year-old boy who wakes up on another planet with a head wound. Chase soon meets Parker and though they start off fighting, the boys realize they need to take care of each other. Together Chase and Parker meet an android named Mia who becomes a huge help to them in this fast-paced, sci-fi adventure.  The story unfolds in the course of a week in which Chase, without giving any spoilers, learns some unusual stuff about himself. So, if you’ve got a child who thrives on the science fiction genre that’s packed with action and adventure as well as interesting characters such as assorted aliens, a mysterious benefactor, and a Federation-like organization, then this is the book for them.

I asked Searles about when she began writing. She told me that she’s been writing since she was six years old. The Lost Planet actually took her four years to write, but the good news is that the second book in this series has already been written! “Writing a book,” according to Searles, “is like putting lots of puzzle pieces into the right spot, with lots of re-writing.” In fact she said her original outline for the novel changed so much since she had her first idea for the story. That’s not hard to imagine when you learn that the idea for a space story was first planted in her mind in 2006. It then took her two years to write the first 100 pages. In 2008 Searles came up with The Lost Planet concept, and in 2010 she tried to write 1000 words a day. She then spent a year and a half revising. And which character, I wondered, did Searles most relate to? Parker. Now you’ll just have to read it for yourself to understand why.

– Ronna Mandel

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Best Valentine’s Day Books for Children: We Love Each Other, Never Too Little to Love & Love Monster

 Read about: We Love Each OtherNever Too Little to Love & Love Monster

Our Valentine’s Day Roundup from Rita Zobayan♡ 
features a selection of faves for the whole family!

Valentine’s Day is almost here. For many adults, the day is a fun indulgence of chocolates, flowers, jewelry, and the beverage and meal of choice. With children, however, the celebration is so much purer: to love and be loved.  These three books wonderfully encapsulate the true sentiment of Valentine’s Day for children.

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We Love Each Other by Yusuke Yonezu, Minedition, 2013.

We Love Each Other by Yusuke Yonezu (Minedition, $9.95; Ages 2-5) is a cleverly disguised shapes and colors die-cut board book. Six colorful animal pairs and one trio love each other and form shapes. The red birds are cozy next to each other and create a heart.  Parent elephant shelters baby elephant and together they form a gray semi-circle. The cuddly brown bears don’t like to be apart, so they hug and create a square.

The text and drawings are appropriately simple for a young audience. Mice love each other. Rabbits love each other. Cats love each other. The animals are presented on a white background that does not distract from the purposes of the text: to highlight love and to teach shapes and colors.  We Love Each Other is a Valentine’s Day book that can be read all year long.
What’s a mouse to do when he’s in love with someone a lot taller?

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Never Too Little To Love by Jeanne Willis with illustrations by Jan Fearnley, Candlewick Press, 2013.

Never Too Little to Love (Candlewick Press, $8.99; ages 3-7), written by Jeanne Willis and illustrated by Jan Fearnley, chronicles Tiny Too-Little’s quest to kiss his beloved, Topsy Too-Tall, a giraffe. Tiny Too-Little painstakingly and ingeniously stacks items to help him reach the heights:

                  He’s too little, even on tiptoes on a matchbox,

                  He’s too little, even on tiptoes on a teacup,

                  He’s too little, even on tiptoes on a clock,

                  Tiny Too-Little reaches way up. Wobble…wobble…wobble…CRASH!

Alas, all his hard work is in vain! Poor Tiny Too-Little! But, Topsy Too-Tall loves him and she has an idea. Will her idea work? Will Tiny Too-Little and Topsy Too-Tall finally get their innocent kiss?

Children will enjoy this book, perhaps especially for its unusual use of pages. As Tiny Too-Little stacks his “ladder” of love, the page lengths become progressively shorter. It’s a clever and engaging technique that helps the young reader visualize Tiny Too-Little’s efforts. Jan Fearnley’s artwork is spot on.  The pastel colors and endearing details, such as little hearts floating up to Topsy Too-Tall, fit beautifully with the sentiment of the story.

Never Too Little to Love proves that when it comes to true love, your size doesn’t matter. What matter is the size of your heart.

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Love Monster by Rachel Bright, Farrar Straus, Giroux, 2014.

Sometimes being a monster isn’t easy, especially if you happen to live in Cutesville: Home of the Fluffy.  Love Monster (Farrar, Straus Giroux, $16.99; ages 4-7) by Rachel Bright presents the heartfelt and brave undertaking of Monster, who does not quite fit in Cutesville.

When everybody loves kittens…and puppies…and bunnies. You know, cute, fluffy things, it’s hard to be a slightly hairy, I-suppose-a-bit-googly-eyed monster. But, Monster is not one to mope and decides to take matters into his own hands. He sets off to look for someone who’d love him, just the way he was.

His journey is not easy, and Monster searches far and wide.  Along the way, he must overcome disappointment and fear.  And, just as Monster has reached his limits, he unexpectedly learns that things can change in the blink of a googly eye.

In a society that bombards children with the idea that self-worth and overall acceptance are tied to a cuteness factor, this book is a breath of fresh air. I love that at no point does Monster attempt to make himself cute or change who he is. No, instead, he looks for a love that will accept him as he is. It’s a powerful message of unconditional love for and acceptance of oneself as being worthy of love.

The illustrations are as monstrously enjoyable as the storyline. Children will have fun reading the titles of Monster’s self-help books and his list of places to look for love.

Love Monster is a must-read for Valentine’s Day.

 

 

 

 

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