The Bookshelf Corner

Book reviews, creative writing, and more!


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NetGalley Review: What’s All the Commotion?: A Book About Social Distancing

by Jessie Glenn,
Illustrated by Kevin King

*Read Now title on NetGalley*

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Picture Book, Children’s Nonfiction, Health & Wellness
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes
ABOUT: Need a perfect conversation starter about Covid-19 for a child you know? “What’s All The Commotion” seeks to answer children’s questions simply and directly with an optimistic outlook.

Illustrated by Black Lives Matter muralist, Kevin King, the bright illustrations in “What’s All the Commotion” portray a diverse group of children and adults getting through social distancing, together.

The changes in children’s lives around the world due to the virus pandemic are startling and stressful in many cases. What’s All the Commotion? is a child psychologist vetted resource for parents, teachers, medical providers and other people with children.

 

My Review: What’s All the Commotion? is a good picture to help parents, guardians, and educators have an open discussion about covid-19 and the drastic life changes that have occurred.

It’s a very matter-of-fact book and simplistic with text and full color on one page and a beautiful, full color illustration on the other. The facts and information presented in this book is clear, concise and accessible.

I liked the tone of the story. It was inviting and welcoming, encouraging kids that it’s okay to have questions about what’s been happening and any fears or anxiety they’ve been having as a result of this virus.

What’s All the Commotion? is worth the read and free on Kindle Unlimited.


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ARC Review: When We Are Kind by Monique Gray Smith, Illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt

Thank you to Orca Book Publishers and NetGalley for the e-ARC to read and review! When We Are Kind goes on sale September 15, 2020.

Image via NetGalley

Genre: Picture Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: When We Are Kind celebrates simple acts of everyday kindness and encourages children to explore how they feel when they initiate and receive acts of kindness in their lives. Celebrated author Monique Gray Smith has written many books on the topics of resilience and reconciliation and communicates an important message through carefully chosen words for readers of all ages. Beautifully illustrated by artist Nicole Neidhardt, this book encourages children to be kind to others and to themselves.

 

My Review: Simple but effective – incredibly important to the conversations today, “When We Are Kind” is a celebration of kindness. The book shows through cozy-good, colorful illustrations why it’s important to always choose kindness and be respectful: it creates happiness within ourselves and others. I also love depictions of self love by being kind to one’s self. “When We Are Kind” is a great story for kids with positive messages for all ages. Kindness is an infinite circle: it connects us all into one big “related” community.


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7 Imaginative Picture Books Kids Will Love

In the 4 years that I’ve been blogging I’ve been able to read and discover some really imaginative picture books. Out of all the pictures books, the 7 stories below were told in distinct ways. They created thoughtful, engaging and humorous reading experiences. Every page was rich in color and design.

Even though I read these as an adult, I loved each of the books on this list.

 

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Pictures by Oliver Jeffers

Alphabet Under Construction by Denise Fleming

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

 

 

Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman, Illustrated by Heather Fox

Snakes On The Job by Kathryn Dennis

Just Ask! by Sonia Sotomayor, Illustrated by Rafael López

The Pigeon Wants A Puppy! by Mo Willems


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!


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[Book Review] It’s Okay To Be A Unicorn! by Jason Tharp

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quotes: “The key to happiness is accepting your unicorniness!” – Cornelius J. Sparklesteed

[from Copyright page] “Feel free to take a look, just don’t steal this book. See, it’s full of unicorn magic, and that sounds cool, I know. But stealing will awaken Cletus, the world’s worst unicorn, to come to your house and fart the stinkiest rainbow toots in your face – forever! Unicorns are cool, thieves are just fools!”

 

ABOUT: Cornelius J. Sparklesteed is known among all the other horses in Hoofington for his beautiful and creative handmade hats. But Cornelius is hiding a secret under his own tall, pointy hat: He’s really a unicorn.

Hoofington is a friendly place, but its horses pass on lots of mean rumors about unicorns. When Cornelius is chosen to perform for this year’s Hoofapalooza, will he find the courage to show everyone his unicorniness?

It’s Okay To Be A Unicorn is an inspiring story about the rainbow magic of kindness.

 

My Review:
It’s Okay To Be A Unicorn is fun to read that inspires kids to celebrate their unique differences. I laughed a lot at the wild words the author constructed, such as “Mayor Mare,” “Hoofington,” and “Hoofapalooza.”

The height of the story and proceeding action was kind of disappointing. It missed the mark on the moral point of the story. Overall, it’s a good book kids will love listening to and enjoy the colorful illustrations.


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[Book Review] Snakes On The Job by Kathryn Dennis

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Full of sibilant sounds and other wordplay, Kathryn Dennis’s picture book, Snakes on the Job, is a sssssweet story that’s sure to be a read-aloud hit.

Off to work the snakes will go.
They slide into trucks and roll out slow.
Hisssssssh goes the sound of the brakes.

The busy snakes are back! This time, they are operating a variety of construction vehicles–bulldozers, diggers, backhoes and more–and what they are building is a surprise. It’s so fun, that new friends want to join them!

 

My Review:
Snakes On The Job is a fun picture book to read. You get to learn about different vehicles/machines and what they are used for. The snakes and pages are delightfully colorful, which made the story more appealing (I love colorful picture books!).

Snakes On The Job is also good for easy memory practice and word associations. The ending was super cute too. I would recommend Snakes On The Job for kids.


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[Book Review] Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman, Illustrated by Heather Fox

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUTMeet Llama, the next great picture-book megastar, who has most definitely driven a bus and who loves tacos way more than you.

He also loves cake, and that’s where our story begins.

On Monday, Llama discovers a pile of cake, which he promptly eats.
On Tuesday, Llama squeezes into his dancing pants, which he promptly rips.
The force of the rip creates a black hole (naturally).
By Friday, Llama will (indirectly) destroy the world.

 

My Review:
Llama Destroys the World is exactly what you think. This carefree llama ignores all signs foreshadowing impending doom. The whole story is silly and distressing – but in a good way that makes you invested in what’s going on. The ending was very satisfying because it alluded to potentially more (perhaps a series about Llama? that’d be cool!).

I like this book. The kids at work loved it. They were completely engaged and had a lot to say about Llama’s actions. Definitely would recommend this book!


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Book Review: “Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous” by Keith Calabrese, Illustrated by Juana Medina

Full Title: Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous: A First-Day-of-School Dilemma

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: In the tradition of School’s First Day of School, debut author Keith Calabrese and Pura Belpré Award winner Juana Medina share a sweet, universal story about a clever little girl whose shoes are nervous about the first day of school.

Today is a big day! Today, Lena starts kindergarten. She is very excited. But there’s just one problem…

Lena’s shoes are nervous.

Lena doesn’t want to miss out on her first day of school, but she can’t go without her favorite shoes! How can she convince them to be brave?

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My Review:
What a neat story about first day of school anxiety for kids! What makes this story stand out from other books on this topic is that the author has personified Lena’s outfit. It presents a two-fold meaning: Lena’s shoes are nervous or Lena is acting out her nervousness through her shoes. A well-placed juxtaposition.

I loved the art style chosen. No perfect lines but swift hand-drawn-like illustrations perhaps to add to the nervous feel of the story. I liked that not every spread was full color. Some pages where black and white with the most important parts colored.

Lena’s Shoes Are Nervous is one creative, universal metaphor told in a unique way.


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Book Review: “Not Quite Snow White” by Ashley Franklin, Illustrated by Ebony Glenn

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Books
Rating: 3 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUTTameika is an African American girl who loves musical and dreams of starring in one as a princess one day. But she fears that having brown skin and a plump frame might keep her from her dreams.

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My Review:
A little girl dreams of being a princess and playing one on the big stage – and not just any princess but the classic royal, Snow White. Tameika is so cute and confident. But she loses that special spark when she overhears other kids making fun of her. I think subconsciously kids can relate to the feelings Tameika experiences. I thnk there could’ve been more to the resolution but, otherwise, this was a neat story to teach kids self-esteem and positive body image.


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Book Review: “Dragons Love Tacos” by Adam Rubin, Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Books
Series: Dragons Love Tacos #1
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa . . . oh, boy. You’re in red-hot trouble.

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My Review:
Who wouldn’t want to read a book about two totally amazing yet completely polar opposite things: dragons and tacos? Dragons are one of my favorite magical creatures and tacos are super yummy, so this book was a lot of fun to read.

I loved learning about why dragons love tacos of all things. The dragons vary in all sizes and shapes and colors and vibrant personalities. Dragons Love Tacos is so ridiculous and silly, the writing creative and detailed, that I’m sure it will become an instant favorite for children.


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Book Review: “Just Ask!” by Sonia Sotomayor, Illustrated by Rafael López

Full Title – Just Ask!: Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Books, Children’s Fiction
Rating: 5 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes

 

ABOUT: Feeling different, especially as a kid, can be tough. But in the same way that different types of plants and flowers make a garden more beautiful and enjoyable, different types of people make our world more vibrant and wonderful.

In Just Ask, United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor celebrates the different abilities kids (and people of all ages) have. Using her own experience as a child who was diagnosed with diabetes, Justice Sotomayor writes about children with all sorts of challenges—and looks at the special powers those kids have as well. As the kids work together to build a community garden, asking questions of each other along the way, this book encourages readers to do the same: When we come across someone who is different from us but we’re not sure why, all we have to do is Just Ask.

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My Review:
Just Ask! embodies the idea of “sharing in our similarities, celebrate our difference.” Rich in color, bold in storytelling, this book offers an emphatic glimpse into children with disabilities and how they navigate the world. It teaches us to be patient and kind and to ask questions to improve understanding.

The illustrations are just gorgeous. They spread across page after page in bright colors and charming details. You feel at peace when looking at the pictures as the community comes to life. The characters are diverse, courageous, and happy in who they are. The make uniqueness cool.

Just Ask! is a must read for all ages; I highly recommend it!