Posted in Book Review

Robot Kitties EVERYWHERE!!!

Today, I have already read Robot Kitties by Jim Benton fourteen times to my son. Why have we read the same book fourteen times today? My son just keeps bringing me Robot Kitties and requesting that we read it again and again. It seemed logical to review Robot Kitties.

Format

Robot Kitties is a short board book that is perfect for the busy toddler on the go. Another great perk of this book is how durable the pages are. There are no flaps that can be torn off. Also the cardboard is quite thick and holds up well against teething toddlers.

This book is incredibly short. Robot Kitties is only sixteen pages long. The pages only have two to four words per page making this an incredibly quick book to read. In fact, two of the pages do not have any words. You can easily read this book in two to three minutes with your little one.

The Illustrations

Robot Kitties contains simplistic cartoon illustrations of robot kitties. The robot kitties are featured doing a wide variety of activities such as flying and scuba diving deep in the ocean. The cartoon illustrations use simple, bold colors. The illustrations are playful and effective at bringing character to a simple storyline. Overall, the illustrations are highly effective at grabbing the attention of a toddler.

The Story

This book takes your toddler on a simplistic yet whimsical journey. The book has short sentences that bring to life the various adventures of different robot kitties. These robot kitties do everything from fly to scuba dive.

If I had any critique it would be that the book does not have much of a plot. It is essentially just a series of short sentences and illustrations that describe robot kitties doing different activities. I think the extremely basic storyline is perfect, however, for its intended audience of babies and toddlers.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a delightful, short new book to read with your busy toddler, I highly recommend Jim Benton’s Robot Kitties. If you have an Ollie’s near you, you can even pick this book up for under $2! Happy reading!

Posted in Book Review

Find the Wolf

Introduction

Today, we discovered a new gem at our local library entitled Find the Wolf which was written by Carly Blake and illustrated by Agnese Baruzzi. It is certainly a new favorite of my son. We have already read this book four times today, but my son just keeps requesting it again. So what exactly makes this book such a delightful read for little ones?

The Format

Find the Wolf has wonderful formatting that engages a child. This board book features twenty-eight (28) pages full of cleverly constructed peek through pages and illustrations. Right away, the reader is instructed to “Find the Wolf!” The pages feature cut outs and pose questions such as “Are those his ears?” The reader then has to guess whether a part of the wolf is revealed in the image that is peeking through the cutouts. This format was excellent at engaging a child.

The book also featured bold font that was easy to read. The lettering was large and simplistic. All of the text is in black and pops against the background colors on each of the pages.

There were approximately six to ten words per page, which made it ideal for keeping a younger child’s attention. In total there were 151 words in the book, making it a short read. Several of the words are repeated throughout the book which also makes it ideal for a new reader to practice their reading skills.

The Illustrations

Agnese Baruzzi did a beautiful job creating clever illustrations throughout this book. For example, Agnese made peacock feathers look like a wolf’s eyes and butterfly wings look like a wolf’s nose. Her illustrations that peek through the cut outs are sure to engage a child as the child joins in the quest to find the wolf.

At the very end of the book, there is a surprise. Not only does the reader find the wolf, BUT the reader learns that a wolf or his paw prints were actually featured in every scene in the book. After learning that the wolf was actually hiding throughout the book, young readers can go back through the book to search for all of the other hidden illustrations. Candidly, despite being an adult reader, I did not notice the hidden wolves and paw prints that were featured throughout the entire book. The wolf’s silhouette or paw prints are artfully woven in to each of the illustrations in the book.

Agnese used a simple but effective color palette for her illustrations. The illustrations utilize bold colors and minimal shading. Artistically, the illustrations are flat and simplistic, but they manage to still be clever and visually appealing. The simplistic shading and color use are perfect for a toddler. Despite being a board book geared towards toddlers, both my seven and nine year old stepdaughters greatly enjoyed the illustrations of this book.

The Plot

If you are looking for a wolf book with an in-depth plot, then this is NOT the book for you. This takes the reader on a journey where they have to find the wolf who is “wanted” for various offenses such as “huffing and puffing.” This book’s main focus is truly on the reader finding the wolf.

Conclusion

I highly recommend this book if you have a toddler or young child who enjoys cut out books or non-scary wolf books. The book is adorable and engaging. It is quick to read, while still managing to be engaging. This is the perfect book to add into your toddler story time.

Posted in Book Review

Time to Clap! – A Review of If You’re Spooky and You Know It

Introduction

My son is obsessed with certain children’s songs. One of our current favorite songs is If You’re Happy and You Know It. I was, therefore, ecstatic to find If You’re Spooky and You Know It. I love finding twists on classic songs since it spares me from having to sing the exact same song REPEATEDLY. If you have a toddler, I’m sure you understand.

The Premise of this Book

If You’re Spooky and You Know It is Aly Fronis’s twist on If You’re Happy and You Know It. The book does not tell a story but is a Halloween inspired song book.

This book takes children on a Halloween adventure where they can clap their hands with skeletons, nod their heads with vampires, stomp their feet with witches, and more! This book would be great for a toddler who could understand the lyrics of the song and who could act out the book.

This would be a fantastic book to read at a children’s Halloween party where the kids could dance along. I think this book would even be fun for children up to age 5. The song is easy to act out but it would still be entertaining for four or five year old children.

The Illustrations

This sixteen page board book is full of adorable Halloween illustrations. There is certainly nothing scary or spooky about the colorful cast of characters in this book. As a parent, rest assured your child will not be frightened by the pictures in this book. Jannie Ho created a variety of smiling, silly characters to dance along with.

This book features cute versions of classic Halloween characters such as mummies, skeletons, werewolves, and witches. Frankenstein and Dracula also make an appearance in this children’s song book. All of the characters exude cheerfulness as they dance around.

In addition to the enchanting characters, the colors used throughout this book are perfect choices. This certainly is not a dark dreary ghoulish set of colors, rather this book is full of cheery colors. Vibrant yellows, oranges, and greens are featured throughout. The lyrics are all in bold, easy to read black font. The reader friendly font is particularly valuable if your child is trying to read the book on their own.

My Critiques

While this engaging song book has many positive attributes, there are certain aspects of this book that could be problematic for some parents. There are three potential issues I want to highlight.

First, I could see a parent taking issue with some of the actual lyrics in this song book. For example, one verse includes the words “If you’re sneaky and you know it, nod your head.” On another page, the lyrics include “If you’re wicked and you know it, stomp your feet.” The lyrics also include “If you’re naughty and you know it, snap your fingers.” I could see these lyrics being problematic for parents.

These lyrics could be perceived as glorifying negative attributes that we as parents try to teach our children to avoid. For example, I know I reminded my six year old that it is NOT okay to be sneaky. Sneakiness is one of those issues we have been struggling with, so I did instruct her that this book is fiction. In real life, being sneaky will get your sent to timeout.

Alternatively, some parents might be offended by the idea of referring to their child as wicked, naughty, or sneaky. As parents we prefer to think of our children as sweet angelic types. 🤷 I might normally be troubled by the lyrics, except I recognize that these are just adjectives that work effectively in a Halloween song.

Second, while some parents allow their children to partake in Halloween festivities, they may avoid books that feature witches. This book does contain two pages where witches are dancing with brooms, black cats, and bats. The inclusion of cartoon witches was not a deal breaker for us, but it could be for other families.

Third, this book is simply a Halloween inspired version of If You’re Happy and You Know It. This book is not a story book that features some groundbreaking original Halloween story. It is simply a lighthearted Halloween take on a classic children’s song. If you are looking for an actual Halloween story, this is not the book for you.

My Closing Thoughts

Overall, If You’re Spooky and You Know It was a cute Halloween book to change up our normal music time songs. My infant enjoyed the book; however, it is not a book I plan to buy for our collection. This is certainly a book worth checking out at your local library though!

Posted in Book Review

Somebody Save the Chickens! – Day 2 of My Spooktacular Book Reviews

The Introduction

The terrified chickens of Eek! Halloween! need a hero! Something strange has been going on. They begin to encounter bizarre phenomena such as pumpkins with flickering eyes and mice that are the size of an elephant. What is going on?

You and your little pumpkin can go through this quirky journey with a group of scared chickens. Eek! Halloween! by Sandra Boynton is an excellent board book choice for getting your young child in the Halloween spirit.

The Illustrations

The illustrations in this book are simplistic yet highly effective at engaging a toddler or young child. The book is filled with charming pictures of the chickens who star in this book. The expressive poultry really come to life on the pages. The exaggerated reactions of the chickens are likely to make your child giggle with delight.

Not only are the drawings themselves effective, but so are the color choices utilized throughout the book. This book uses extremely high contrast, powerful colors. Every single page features a strong color palette that draws in the reader’s attention. My ten month old mostly prefers board books with touch and feel elements or flaps, but even he was drawn in by the pages of this book.

The Story

This book tells a Halloween story from the point of view of a group of clueless chickens. These chickens have never before witnessed any Halloween festivities. When animals in costumes begin to appear, panic ensues. Eventually a friendly pig in a chicken costume saves the day by telling the silly chickens that it’s Halloween.

All three of my kids enjoyed the story. The book only contains 104 words, yet it manages to convey a comical chicken tale. Obviously this book does not have an elaborate plot given how short it is; however, I would still recommend reading it for some holiday fun.

This book is certainly not the next great literary classic; however, it is a delightful book to get your child in the holiday spirit.

My Critiques

I have largely positive thoughts regarding this book, but I do want to identify some aspects of this book that may be considered negatively by other parents.

First, the construction of this book is not the best I have ever seen. My son would decimate this book if left him alone with it. The binding is extremely flimsy although the pages themselves are sturdy cardboard.

Second, the main focus of this book is the chickens. The illustrations, therefore, are almost exclusively the chickens. If a parent were looking for a Halloween book with more traditional Halloween illustrations, this may not be the book for you. I thought the chickens were charming, so I personally did not mind them being the stars of this book.

Third, the book could be perceived as just another kitschy holiday book. I did not select this book because I was seeking a literary masterpiece. My kids and I were just looking for a fun Halloween story to read together.

Lastly, the price is less than ideal for the length of the book you get. On Amazon, this book is currently $7. This book only contains 104 words so I could see a parent being disappointed by the accompanying price tag. I am a huge advocate of using my local library, so the price was a non-issue for us.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a silly not scary Halloween book to read with your toddler, this is a great option. I think this book is best suited to children who are 0 to 4 years of age. So what are you waiting for? Head over to your local library to check out this fun Halloween board book! 🎃

Posted in Book Review

31 Days of Halloween Books

It’s finally October! The season of sweaters, boots, and pumpkin everything is nearly upon us. As Halloween continues to creep up, I decided to review one Halloween book a day for the next thirty-one days.

To kick off my spooktacular Halloween book reviews, we begin with Five Little Pumpkins. This sixteen page board book was illustrated by Dan Yaccarino.

This book is seventy-one words long, so it can easily be read to your wiggly little ghouls and goblins. The length of this board book makes it ideal for children ages 0 to 4 years old.

The book itself contains brightly colored illustrations that help grab the attention of babies and toddlers. The illustrations, while fairly simplistic in design, are still enchanting. There are cute pumpkins and ghosts that haunt the pages of this book. My ten month old son definitely enjoyed the pictures in this book.

The book itself contains a rhyming children’s poem rather than a story. The rhymes make this a great book for reading out loud to a baby or toddler. I will warn you, if you are looking for a Halloween story, this is likely not the book for you.

This book is perfect for someone who is looking for a merry not scary Halloween poem to read with their baby or toddler.

Posted in Book Review

Introducing Bruce the Grumpy Bear

1 Grumpy Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins is a fantastic counting board book. This twenty-four page book is filled with adorable animals, high quality illustrations, and vivid colors.

This book makes all three of my kids laugh and smile. They particularly love the fact that Bruce stays true to his grumpy ways throughout the entire book. The illustrations really bring the animals to life for kids.

The book only has thirty-eight words which makes it perfect for reading over and over again. (Trust me I know). I have re-read the book so many times that 1 Grumpy Bruce is now in our Amazon cart. The good news is right now the book is only $4 if you have Amazon Prime.

The only criticism I can find with this book is it might be hard for a child to count the animals in this book if they were just learning how to count. The animals are not laid out in neat orderly rows, and some of the animals do overlap each other in the illustrations. Personally I do not view this as a negative but I could see other parents taking issue with the layout.

I highly recommend this adorable counting book if you have kids between ages 0 to 5 years. This book is perfect for a child who is working on learning to read.

Posted in Book Review

Throwing Cats and Other Bad Ideas

I will start off by acknowledging that I am conflicted in my feelings about today’s book. Today we read How do Dinosaurs Love their Cats? which was written by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. I will provide my positive feedback before moving onto some of my more negative critiques.

This fourteen page board book is full of colorful well-illustrated cartoon dinosaurs. The dinosaurs in this book display a wide variety of personality and spunk. I give the book high praise in terms of the illustrations.

There were 139 words in this book which makes the length of the book better suited to a toddler rather than my 10 month old. The cute pictures did, however, manage to keep my son’s attention. I thought the length of the book would be perfect for a toddler.

Unfortunately, I think the content of the first half of this book makes it better suited to children who are 6 to 8 years old. Why do I say that? Well, the entire first half of the story depicts dinosaurs acting “like a brat.” For example, on page four the book asks “If the kitty complains, does she give it a throw?” On that particular page, the dinosaur is shown throwing the cat.

Based on the content of the first half of this book, I think a toddler might get the wrong kind of ideas. Now the second half of the book clarifies that dinosaurs actually love and care for their cats. I would just be concerned that a toddler would miss the point that we do NOT want to act like the mean dinosaurs! In fact, I could see a toddler deciding that it looks way more fun to throw the pet kitty than it does to “give it fresh water.”

This book would be perfect for a child who is in the 6 to 8 year old age range because they would understand the story. An older child would be able to recognize that the book is not suggesting you act like a “brat.”

The issue I have with recommending this book to a school age child is based on the book’s format. The book that I checked out is a board book. Now my 6 and 8 year old are not offended by the idea of reading board books to their baby brother. They do, however, feel strongly that board books are for babies not big kids.

One other odd aspect of this book involved the fact that every dinosaur was a girl dinosaur. I could see a little boy being disappointed by this book because it only has girl dinosaurs.

Lastly, I know some parents have certain words that they do not want their young children to use. This book does include the word “brat,” which I know some parents have on their list of words they do not use in their house.

I would suggest reading this book prior to reading it with your child. As a parent, you will be best able to determine if this book would inspire your toddler or child in all the wrong ways.