Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: The Adventures of Old Bo Bear by Alice Schertle

When I was a kid it wasn't unusual for me to pack some snacks, my binoculars and teddy bear and head out into the great unknown of my backyard. It seemed the whole world existed there. I could go anywhere and be anybody. Alice Schertle's book captures imaginative play in all its glory as well as the bond between child and toy. When kids play with toys they aren't just playing, they're practicing. Imaginitive play with toys offers a safe way for kids to experience new things, fun things and maybe even scary things.

Old Bo Bear loses his ear in the washing machine but he's just as ready for action as he ever was. In fact, the lost ear sparks a series of imaginitive play that is sure to resonate with preschoolers and amuse adults. The story is told in verse which creates read-a-loud appeal. The pictures are bright and attractive letting the reader see both the real world and inside the little boy's imagination. Teddy and I no longer romp in the backyard but I enjoyed reminiscing while reading about Old Bo Bear.

Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2006     Pages: 32     Illustrator: David Parkins
Rating: 4 Stars     Source: Public Library

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: But I Don't Wanna Take a Bath! by Mildred Pope

Mike's been playing with his friend, Bud, and dog, Tyke, outside in the mud but as the sun goes down his mom calls him in to take a bath. Mike parades in various costumes, including Sponge Bob and Barney, to evade a sudsy scrub down. The story is set in verse and and the rhymes make this story a good read-a-loud option, something to read with your kids. I noted three pictures are repeated several times; yet, the pictures are bright and cute. The text is fairly small, centered on a blank colored page. In a few places, the text is "fancy" looking and I immediately thought of how young readers find small/ fancy text difficult to read. And text alone on a blank page is often intimidating and discouraging for young readers. While these presentation issues exist the rhyming patterns are fun and many little mess-makers will easily relate to Mike's aversion to bath time. To see pictures from the book check out Pope's website. This text counts towards the POC Reading Challenge!

Publisher: AuthorHouse, 2011     Pages: 36
Rating: 2.5 Stars     Source: Received for free for review. Thanks!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Review: Latasha and the Little Red Tornado by Michael Scotto

When I opened the package that Latasha came in I was surprised. The cover was so cute, the colors vibrant! This is a good sign, I thought. When I accept a book for review by an unknown author and press it creates a bit of suspense and anxiety. I never know what to expect.

I began reading. Eight year old Latasha has a crazy dog and she believes that if she can train her dog it will prove she's mature and grown up. Her mom gets a great new job as a nurse's assistant but it means Latasha has less time to spend training her dog and she must be babysat by a strange old neighbor lady, Mrs. Okocho -- the horror! I wavered in the first short chapter. I don't about this. Is this going to be a cliche ridden story?

As the story began to flow I was sucked into Latasha's world. Her cares and concerns were so real. The text made me remember both the easy delights and frustrations of being eight. Latasha is an endearing character who learns about the weight of responsibility and how to make and keep friends. I appreciated that the neighbor lady was a well-rounded character who was not just a "prop" but a real character with depth. Ella, the dog, offered comic relief as she tested Latasha's resolve to train her.

While the text may have special appeal for city kids (Latasha lives in Pittsburgh) or dog lovers I think this is a good book for late elementary and early middle school readers. Latasha and the Little Red Tornado was a delight. I read it in one sitting. When I closed the book, with a few tears in my eyes, I thought, What a good story. This text counts towards to the POC Reading Challenge!

Publisher: Midlandia, 2011 (Book released November 15th, 2011)     Pages: 141     Illustrator: Evette Gabriel
Rating: 4 Stars     Source: Received for free for review from the author. Thanks, Mr. Scotto!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Review: Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

After Lonnie's parents died he and his sister live in separate foster homes. Lonnie uses writing assignments in school to cope. The result is a short novel in verse -- a book of poems that tells a story. Lonnie deals with some heavy stuff for an eleven year old. Grief, loss, separation, loneliness and uncertainty are a few of the themes. But Lonnie also talks of hope and his affection for his sister.

The poems are short, ranging from three lines to a little over a page. From free verse to Haiku there is a variety of poetry Lonnie experiments with to express what he sees, feels and remembers. Locomotion would make great teaching material to use as examples of poetry. The book may also appeal to elementary kids who are ready to move beyond strictly rhyming and silly poems (not that there anything wrong with silly rhyming poems!).

From my perspective, Locomotion was a little sad and ended abruptly. There is a follow up novel called Peace Locomotion in which Lonnie writes letters to his sister. For such a short book it took me a long time to read. The text was often introspective. I don't think I was in the mood for it. Yet, I would recommend this text to kids interested in poetry or for someone looking for a book about grieving. This text counts towards to the POC Reading Challenge

Publisher: Speak, 2003     Pages: 100
Rating: 3 Stars     Source: Public Library