Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sand Castles and Sand Palaces by Jane O'Connor -- ADVISABLE

O'Connor, Jane Sand Castles and Sand Palaces (Fancy Nancy), illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser and Carolyn Bracken. PICTURE BOOK. Harper Festival, 2014. $4.99. Content: G.

Fancy Nancy goes to the beach in this delightful picture book. She spends the day frolicking in the waves, enjoying cool snacks, and making sand palaces. Nancy is as amusing as always, and her attitude is admirable, especially when the waves knock over her castle. The vocabulary lessons add a nice touch as well. Contains a sheet of beach-themed stickers.

Pre-K, EL -- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn

Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi -- ESSENTIAL

DiTerlizzi, Angela Some Bugs, illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. PICTURE BOOK. Beach Lane Books, 2014. $17.99. Content: G.

Rhyming text describes the qualities of numerous insects, accompanied by gorgeous -- and delightfully quirky -- illustrations. A colorful index at the back shows each type of bug, along with its name. The book has a sense of celebration, of appreciation and wonder for the bugs, making them seem special and interesting instead of icky and gross. The A/B/A/B rhyme scheme sets students up for predicting the end of the second couplet before they turn the page to see it, making it good for practicing such reading skills as rhyming or predicting. This would also be great for use in a science unit, perhaps as an introduction to a section on insects, or before a field trip where students may be searching a habitat for creatures to study.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Caryn

Olivia and the Fancy Party by Cordelia Evans -- ADVISABLE

Evans, Cordelia Olivia and the Fancy Party, illustrated by Shane L. Johnson. PICTURE BOOK. Simon Spotlight, 2014. $3.99. Content: G.

When Olivia receives an invitation to a friend's party, she is thrilled but also a little nervous. Right away she sets about learning proper party manners, including how to make polite conversation, how to use the correct utensils during dinner, and how not to slouch at the table. But it turns out this isn't some fancy dinner party; it's a cookout. Good thing manners come in handy in every social situation.

Olivia is very good at getting past her disappointment when she arrives at the party, and diving in to have fun instead. The other attendees are good sports as well, complimenting Olivia on her manners and asking her to teach them how to behave as politely as she does. Not only does the book encourage manners, but enthusiastic readers will glean a few tips for their own use. Because of its higher word count and smaller font, it is more appropriate for slightly older readers who may have longer attention spans and more reading experience.

EL (K-3) -- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn

The Knitwits Make a Move! by Abigail Tabby -- OPTIONAL

Tabby, Abigail The Knitwits Make a Move! Illustrated by Lee Wildish. PICTURE BOOK. Little Simon, 2013.  $14.99. Content: G.

It's moving day for the Knitwit family. They're quite happy with their methods -- even if "unpacking" involves simply dumping out boxes, "straightening up" means lining everything up in rows on the floor, and "serving" snacks requires a tennis racket. While some children may catch on to the pun-filled humor, it seems meant more for adults than children. Without that humor, there's not much of a story.

EL (K-3) -- OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Caryn

The Octonauts and the Scary Spookfish -- OPTIONAL

The Octonauts and the Scary Spookfish. Penguin Young Readers, 2014. $3.99. Content: G.

Peso the penguin loves to aid other animals who are hurt or sick. But after he helps a sea cucumber recuperate, he must take her back to her home in a very deep part of the ocean. When Peso tries to return to his own home, his ship splutters and dies. To make matters worse, the water's too deep for his radio to work, so he can't call for help. Lucky for him, Captain Barnacles and Kwazii find him.

For a short book, this one manages to have several annoying plot holes, including (but not limited to) the question of how Peso found the sea cucumber in the first place if her home is so deep, and how his friends found out he was in trouble so they could come rescue him. The illustrations in the story's climax are unclear as well, making it difficult to see exactly how Peso is finally rescued. And as for the rescue, it would have been nice if Peso had at least tried to figure out how to rescue himself instead of sitting by, helplessly waiting for others to save him. The biggest draw for this book will likely Octonauts fans -- especially those who aren't reading carefully enough to question the plot inconsistencies. Others who aren't familiar with the TV series will probably feel less connection with the story and its characters.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Caryn

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson -- ESSENTIAL

Matheson, Christie Tap the Magic Tree. Greenwillow Books, 2013. $15.99. Content: G.

In this interactive picture book, readers begin with a leaf-bare tree, which they are asked to tap. A few pages later, the taps reveal new leaves, like magic. Rubbing the tree warms it up; on the next page, flowers appear. It continues this way, with readers following instructions and the tree going through a full, year-long cycle.

This seems like such a simple concept, but it feels almost magical to follow an instruction, turn the page, and see the tree change. Not only is the interactivity delightful, but the illustrations are, too. This book would work well in a lesson on the life cycles of deciduous trees or on how the seasons affect nature. At the very least, it's a whole lot of fun.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Caryn

Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog: another really GOOD story with kind of BAD drawings by Tom Watson - - ADVISABLE

Watson, Tom Stick Dog Wants a Hot Dog: another really GOOD story with kind of BAD drawings, 220 pgs. Harper Collins Publishers, 2013. $12.99. Language: G; Violence: G; Mature Content: G. 

Stick Dog, and his friends Karen, Stripes, Mutt and Poo-Poo want to get hot dogs from Peter the Frankfurter guy.  But this time, there’s competition.  There’s sneaky raccoons trying to steal some, too, and the dogs’ plans aren’t very good. In fact, the plan they try puts one of the dogs in peril!  

A quick, funny read, with very silly humor.  The illustrations are the best part. Although it can stand on its own, read the first one (Stick Dog) first.  EL ADVISABLE  MS OPTIONAL Lisa Librarian