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

Finding Beauty in Mistakes

Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg is a truly unique and creative children’s book. The twenty-eight pages in this book have a special layout. The book features exquisite colors, interactive pages, and tactile experiences galore.

This book uses flaps, bent corners, torn pages, and crumpled paper to showcase the beauty of artistic creativity. The book’s message is minimalistic yet powerful. Through its design, this book tries to inspire readers to seek out creative ways to turn their mistakes into something beautiful.

For example, a tear in a piece of paper is transformed into an alligator’s smile. Later, a bent corner of paper becomes the beak of a penguin. As the book unfolds, several other transformations emerge on the pages.

Beautiful Oops! is only eighty-nine words long; however, its simplicity is powerful. The words are there to transition the reader through the interactive illustrations.

My kiddos who are 10 months, 6 years, and 8 years old are obsessed with this book. This book is unlike any other book in our personal collection. My oldest is particularly enamored with this book because of her love of the arts. My youngest son adores how interactive this book is.

I highly recommend that you check this book out if you have a child between 0 to 8 years of age. There are some potentially negative aspects of this book that are worth noting.

First, this book is short which might disappoint some parents. The main focus of this book is the artwork and the interactive layout. Second, this book does not tell a story. This book contains a life lesson rather than telling a story. Third, if you are looking for a crafting book this is NOT the book for you. Fourth, if your little one is not the artistic type, they may find this book boring. Lastly, the flaps and other interactive elements of this book are not durable enough to withstand the rough handling of a toddler.

Despite the possible drawbacks of this book, I still give this book the highest praise.

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.

Posted in Book Review

Never Touch a Dinosaur!

I am always searching for board books that have lots of textures for my son to explore. Today, I discovered a board book with incredible, textured pages!

Never Touch a Dinosaur by Rosie Greening is the perfect book for a baby or toddler to explore. Each of the dinosaurs in this book have silicone designs. These silicone designs are highly textured and provided my son with endless entertainment today. It was an instant new favorite!

In addition to being a tactile delight, this book has vibrant multicolored words. The pages contain words that are in different colors, fonts, and sizes.

I will note that some of the words are written in cursive in this book. My six year old kept having to chase me around with the book to ask for help with reading the cursive words. I decided this was a great opportunity for her to practice reading cursive, but I could see it being a feature that frustrated a parent.

Stuart Lynch did an excellent job bringing to life the colorful dinosaurs with his illustrations. The dinosaurs are not scary, rather they are downright adorable. The dinosaurs in this book are smiling or making silly faces. They are brightly colored and have different patterns as well.

In addition to its fantastic visual and tactile design, this book is fun for kids to read. The book does not contain a storyline. Instead, each page features a unique set of instructions and warnings about the dangers of petting various types of dinosaurs.

The book also rhymes which makes it fun for kids as well. I will note, however, that some of the rhymes fall a little short of my expectations. For example, the book tries to count “good-bye” and “by” as a rhyming pair.

Never Touch a Dinosaur is approximately 116 words long, so it might be more challenging for a young infant or toddler to sit through. My son seemed amused enough with touching the pages to listen to the whole book. I could see a child potentially getting antsy though.

I would caution that this book does seem to be cheaply constructed. I do not anticipate that the binding on this book would last for a particularly long time. Also, while the silicone textures on the dinosaurs are great to touch, I doubt they are particularly durable. I recommend supervising a young child while they have this book to ensure they do not tear off a piece of silicone. It would concern me as a possible choking hazard.

Despite some of the drawbacks of this book, I still recommend reading this book with your child if they are between 0 to 5 years old. It is a silly book with a sensational design that draws kids in.

After finishing this book, we have now read 492 books of our 1,000 book goal.

Goodnight everyone!

Posted in Book Review

Charlotte Brontë for Babies!

Thanks to Jennifer Adams, the author of Jane Eyre A Counting Primer, you can introduce your baby or toddler to a Charlotte Brontë inspired counting book! If you are a literature nerd like me, this discovery will clearly excite your soul.

This twenty page board book covers numbers one to ten. This book contains approximately seventy words. Despite being a short counting book, it incorporates three direct quotes from the book Jane Eyre. The book also includes words, such as Thornfield Hall and Mr. Rochester.

Overall the book features a much darker color palette than I normally look for in a board book; however, neon colors would have ruined the beauty of this book. The colors while dark are still intense. My son was intrigued by this book despite the dark colors. I thought the illustrations by Alison Oliver were beautifully executed.

Now, I do feel it is necessary to highlight that this book does NOT contain a simplified baby version of the Jane Eyre novel. It merely includes some random words and quotes from the Jane Eyre book. The book has a Jane Eyre vibe, but will give your child ZERO insight into the actual story contained in Jane Eyre.

It is challenging for me to identify the appropriate age range for this particular book. At first glance, it is a simplistic counting book that contains short lines such as “1 governess. ” This makes it an ideal book for a child who is 0 to 3 years old. Upon further reflection though, my 8 year old daughter had no idea what a governess was. Both my 6 and 8 year old also needed help understanding two of the three quotes that were included from the actual Jane Eyre novel. The inclusion of more advanced words, like peruse, means that this book can still challenge a child who is a newer reader.

Ultimately, I used this book as a stepping stone to get my two older children interested in learning about Charlotte Brontë and her novel, Jane Eyre. We are now heading back to the library to find an illustrated and abridged children’s version of Jane Eyre.

Overall, if you were a fan of Jane Eyre, I would recommend reading this book with your child if they are between ages 0 to 5. Just please remember I warned you this book will NOT teach your child the Jane Eyre story.