Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hoot and Honk Just Can't Sleep by Leslie Helakowski

Hoot and Honk Just Can't Sleep 
by Leslie Helakoski
Published by Sterling Children's
March, 2017
40 Pages
Hardcover
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Some chicks like day, others like night. Some sleep in the dark, and some in the light. Hoot, an adorable owlet, and Honk, a fuzzy gosling, have just hatched—but their eggs got switched and now they’re in the wrong nests. Will they find their way home? Leslie Helakoski’s gentle, lilting verse and irresistible illustrations make the perfect bedtime story as they capture two adorable babies exploring the world for the first time.

My Thoughts
This story is so sweet. The baby owl and baby goose wake up in the wrong nests and notice that they are different from the other baby birds in their family. When the other birds want to sleep, the baby owl and baby goose are wide awake. They go exploring when they can't sleep and find other babies that are like them and discover a family where they belong. 
The illustrations are exceptional. Pastels are used over sanded paper to create colorful, textured pictures. The pages are thick enough for little hands to turn again and again. 


Picture of book taken by me.

The rhyming text is simple and filled with creative language and the font size and style are great for young readers.

I would recommend Hoot and Honk Just Can't Sleep for ages 2-6.  

See what others have to say about this book:
We Have Kids
Jill Bennett

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Duck and Hippo Lost and Found by Jonathan London Review and Giveaway!

Duck and Hippo Lost and Found 
by Jonathan London
Illustrated by Andrew Joyner
Published August 15, 2017
Two Lions
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Duck and Hippo invite their friends Turtle, Elephant, and Pig to a picnic at their favorite pond. Yippee! It’s time to dance and sing, swim and eat. Everyone brings goodies to share…except Hippo. He didn’t bring ANYTHING. So Hippo sets off into the forest to find some berries. But he is gone a long time, and Duck begins to worry that Hippo is lost. What should his friends do to find him? Join Duck and Hippo on another fun adventure!

My Thoughts
You likely know Jonathan London's work with his widely popular Froggy books. My daughter particularly liked Froggy Eats Out. London and Joyner have teamed up again to bring us more Duck and Hippo. 
I really enjoyed the first Duck and Hippo book, Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm (see my review here).  In Lost and Found, Duck and Hippo are back and they have brought some friends. Hippo feels bad that he did not bring something to the picnic and leaves to look for some berries. He searches high and low, but doesn't find any berries even as night falls. His friends are concerned and go looking for him. 
I think this story lends itself to many themes and discussion topics. 
Friendship
Responsibility
Cooperation
Safety
Perseverance
Problem solving

The illustrations are excellent and the characters are adorable.  The color palate is subdued with pops of bright red in Duck's coat and Hippo's bowtie. A variety of text fonts, sizes and colors adds another element of interest to the book. 

Kids will be excited to see if Hippo's friends ever find and if they finally get to have their picnic. 
I would recommend Duck and Hippo Lost and Found for ages 3-8. 

See what others have to say about this book:
Kirkus

Visit Jonathan London's website
Visit Andrew Joyner's website

Find some activities to use with this book here

Enter the giveaway! 
Two Lions and Blueslip Media are generously offering a copy of Duck and Hippo Lost and Found AND a copy of the first book, Duck Hippo in the Rainstorm. Enter in the rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel by Kimberly Willis Holt

Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel 
by Kimberly Willis Holt 
Published by Henry Holt and Co. 
March 2017
336 Pages 
Realistic Fiction
Review copy provided by publisher


Goodreads Summary
Twelve-year-old Stevie's world changes drastically when her parents are tragically killed and she is forced to live with her estranged grandfather at his run-down motel. After failed attempts to connect with her grandfather, Stevie befriends the colorful motel tenants and neighbors. Together, they decide to bring some color and life to the motel by planting a flower garden, against Stevie's grandfather's wishes. It will take Stevie's departure before her grandfather realizes just how needed she is by everyone.

My Thoughts
"A heartfelt middle grade novel about life, loss, and finding your true family." This is what I wrote in my Goodreads review of this book. I also called Stevie, "A character that stays with you." and boy is that the truth. Her character is so well-developed that you feel her emotions of loss, anger, frustration and hope right along with her.
Winston, Stevie's curmudgeon of a grandfather, is stuck in his ways and really seems to resist any kind of change. He is standoffish with Stevie who doesn't feel as though he wants her to be living with him. Stevie is desperate to learn more about her mother, but Winston is tight lipped on the subject. Stevie gets the feeling that there are secrets about her parents that no one is telling her.

The cast is balanced out with loads of colorful characters. Roy, Arlo and Ida, who work at her grandfather's aging motel, become a family of sorts for Stevie. Mrs. Crump is Stevie's elderly homeschool teacher who nods off during each day's lesson and surly, brooding Frida is Stevie's only classmate.

When Stevie learns about an aunt she never knew she had, she goes to visit and has a wonderful time. She gets a glimpse at feeling like a part of a family for the first time since her parents' death.
Will Stevie learn to "bloom" where she has been planted? The ending is touching and gives the reader some closure.
I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it for grades 4-8.

See what others have to say about Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel:
Kirkus
Redeemed Reader
Book Page

Monday, August 14, 2017

It's Monday, What Are You Reading? August 14, 2017


Please visit the amazing blogs: Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers who host this terrific meme each week.

Here is what I read this week. 
Click on the covers to learn more about each book. 



Middle grade historical fiction of how Cuba became a literate nation.

Finished
Middle Grade. Sports enthusiast, Hudson, may get sidelined due to asthma. 

Currently Listening

Currently Reading-Paper Book

Currently Reading-ebook

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ouside Shot by Fred Bowen

Ouside Shot 
by Fred Bowen
Published March, 2017
Peachtree Publishers
144 Pages
Advanced readers copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Eighth-grader Richie Mallon has always known he was a shooter, but will his amazing shooting talent be enough to keep him on the team? Outside Shot tells the story of eighth-grade basketball player Richie Mallon, who is known as the shooter, the one on the team who scores most of the baskets. He has practiced every day at his driveway hoop, perfecting his technique. Richie never plays any other roles on the court; he lets his teammates do the assisting and rebounding. Richie makes the team under a tough new coach, but he's not a starter. Then when his shooting skills go into a slump, he must find a way to become a more well-rounded player. Author Fred Bowen continues his Sport Story Series with full court, play-by-play action thats sure to keep readers on the edge of their seats!

My Thoughts
Richie starts out quite sure of himself at the beginning of the book since he has a reputation of being able to make shots consistently. He and his best friend Bryce are certain that they will both be starters on the 8th grade team. But, when he tries out for a new coach, he makes the team, but he is not first string.  
Richie is stunned and sets out to prove his worth to the coach. He is very concerned about his stats, most specifically, points scored and percentage of shots made. When he hits a dry spell, Richie grows more and more stressed. He starts to befriend one of the managers who keeps the stats and she suggests that he try to also get more assists and rebounds and perhaps his shot will return. But who would he be is he weren't "the shooter"? 

Richie learns some valuable lessons in this story and many middle graders will enjoy it. It's length, font size and readability make it quite manageable for many in grades 3-5.  

Visit Fred Bowen's website 

See what others have to say about this book. 
Boys and Literacy
4th Grade Reading

Thursday, August 10, 2017

The Okee Dokee Brothers: Thousand Star Hotel

The Okee Dokee Brothers: Thousand Star Hotel
Illustrated by Brandon Reese
Published March 7, 2017
Sterling Children's
Review copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary 
The Grammy®-winning Okee Dokee Brothers create a fanciful story—inspired by the folktale “The Fisherman and His Wife”—about the things we wish for . . . and the things we really need.
"I’m sleepin’ in a thousand star hotel.
Gold leaf pillow for my head.
Feel like a king on a king-size riverbed."

Once upon a time there were two muskrats who lived in a cabin near a big old river. Mr. Muskrat dreamt of catching enough fish to make them rich; Mrs. Muskrat was happy if they caught enough for a good supper. Then, one day, they reel in a giant golden catfish who promises to grant their wish if they set him free. The two muskrats agree to let the fish off the hook and he does keep his word . . . but in a most unexpected and magical way. (from the publisher's website).

My Thoughts
This classic folktale is reimagined in this lovely book that reminds readers of wants, needs and what truly makes us happy. 
The illustrations are excellent! Images are presented in circles frames or cover the entire page from top to bottom. The book has a thick cover and sturdy rounded pages that beg for rereadings. 
The folktale lends itself to rich discussions about wishes, desires and gratitude. 
It comes with a 12-track cd sung by The Okee Dokee Brothers. 
I would recommend this book for grades 1-4.

Watch the trailer.
Thousand Star Hotel (preview, book trailer) from Sterling Publishing on Vimeo.


Here is some music from the cd.

See what others have to say about this book:
The Children's Book Review
The Hungry Bookworm

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Double or Nothing with the Two and Only Kelly Twins by Johanna Hurwitz

Double or Nothing with the Two and Only Kelly Twins 
by Johanna Hurwitz
Illustrated by Tuesday Mourning
Published April, 2017
Candlewick Press
80 pages
Review advanced reader copy provided by publisher

Goodreads Summary
Arlene and Ilene love so many things about being identical twins. They like sharing a room, sharing friends, and wearing matching outfits. But they're in different classes at school, and one twin has a scar that the other one doesn't. One morning, their friends Monty and Joey point out a new difference that takes the sisters by surprise and gets them thinking: if they are identical twins, why are there differences between them at all?Their tongues must be the same, so why do they like different kinds of ice cream? Why does Arlene wear pink nail polish while Ilene thinks it's silly? Why is Ilene sleeping soundly when Arlene is awake, wondering how she can be sure that she isArlene, not Ilene? Revisit the funny, lovable characters from The Two and Only Kelly Twins and take a peek at the wonders -- and puzzles -- of being an identical twin. 

My Thoughts
The Kelly twins, Arlene and Ilene, return in their second book. These second graders love being identical twins. They dress alike and wear their hair the same way so it can be hard for others to tell them apart. 
When another student notices that the girls look different one day, they realize that one of them lost a tooth overnight. For once, the Kelly Twins did not look exactly alike. Then they end up having separate sleep overs and, although they were nervous, it all went fine. Maybe they could be different every now and then. One time, I think they might not have minded being different was when head lice went through the classroom and unfortunately, both girls, as well as most of the class, end up getting it. These experiences planted the idea that maybe the sisters didn't always have to be exactly alike. 

I would recommend this book, and series, for kids in grades 2-4. 

See what others have to say about this book:
Kirkus
Kidlit Frenzy