Book Review Tuesday

Lots of great books this week! Read the book reviews below, and learn more about my favorite reads:

Agent Moose by Mo O’Hara (graphic novel)
Gr. 2-3. Agent Moose (aka Anonymoose) recently lost his credibility after claiming the moon was moon-napped during a lunar eclipse. Instead of solving his 100th case, Agent Moose and his assistant Owlfred became the joke of Woodland HQ. To make things worse, they both have to attend Camo Chameleon’s Party–celebrating Camo Chameleon’s 100th case solved! The party isn’t all play, however–Anonymoose and Owlfred also have to track down a missing animal, Terrance Turtle, a key witness in a recent robbery (solved by none other than Camo Chameleon). But when Anonymoose and Owlfred arrive at the party and start talking to witnesses of the turtle-napping, all is not as it seems…

Another great readalike for fans of Dog Man, Agent Moose is sure to be a winner with kids looking for animal crime-solving humor. Lots of fun disguises and puns paired with cute illustrations and an easy setup for a longer series. Will be recommending.

Grandpa Grumps by Katrina Moore (picture book)
Gr. PreS-K. Daisy is so excited to meet her Yeh Yeh (grandfather), visiting from China for the first time. She has so many great ideas for all of the ways they will have fun together…but he seems really grumpy. Daisy is about to give up on getting a smile from him before he goes home, when the two finally bond while cooking together.

Adorable depiction of family dynamics, especially when cultural differences are added to the mix. Sweet ending that may invite a welcome sequel.

I Am Brown by Ashok K. Banker (picture book)
Gr. PreS-1. Gorgeous! Stars brown children from around the world showing all of the different, amazing things that they do, the clothes they wear, the places they are from, the languages they speak, and more. Vibrant, warm colors keep the reader engaged. Holds a wonderful, uplifting message about the normalcy and awesomeness of being brown.

I Love Us: A Book About Family by Luisa Uribe (board book)
Toddler-PreS. Board book depicts various families having fun together. Features diversity in skin color and family makeup (kids raised by grandparents, single parent homes, possibly a family with two dads (not clear)). I would’ve preferred this book in a larger, picture book format, as the words and detailed illustrations would work well for a preschool storytime. Includes a mirror at the end, followed by a blank family tree encouraging readers to add the names of people they love.

In the Garden by Emma Guiliani (nonfiction)
Gr. 1-3. Siblings Plum and Robin explore and take care of their garden all year long. This physically giant book is filled with flaps for additional learning, letting readers see inside of fruits and flowers and get a peak underground. Plenty of interesting info on what tasks need to be completed in a garden during each season as well as how plants grow. Rare nonfiction book starring diverse kids.

Internet Animal Stars by Rebecca Felix (nonfiction)
Gr. 1-2. Simple facts about various animals, with a focus on their Internet popularity.

While this series is cute and definitely has cover appeal, I do wonder about their longevity. Animal facts are sparse, with not quite enough details to cover the required information for the average animal project. The design has a definite rainbows-and-cuddles Lisa Frank vibe without looking too dated (for the current moment anyway). I’m not sure how long that style, or the chapter starring animal memes (“meme break!”), will stay relevant. Still, it is pretty darn cute.

Jake the Fake Keeps His Cool by Craig Robinson and Adam Mansbach
Gr. 4-5. Jake’s mom is pregnant! Jake isn’t sure what this means for him–will his parent’s stop paying attention to him now that he will be the middle child? Will the baby keep him up all night? Will Jake have to share his room? Jake quickly gets distracted by a new, pretty classmate that Jake is desperate to impress, even if that means stretching the truth about his cooking and haircutting skills.

I still enjoy this series, even if neither sequel reached quite the same hilarity as the first book. This book felt a little more disjointed than previous titles in the series, with the baby storyline only appearing when it needed to make a point. Even with that, I appreciate any own voices books that are great readalikes for fans of Wimpy Kid and Big Nate.

Leap Frog by Jane Clarke (picturebook)
Gr. PreS-K. Tiny Felix Frog is trying to make his way home across the jungle. Along the way, he runs into a variety of rainforest critters whose unique sounds make Felix jump! Help Felix make his way home by counting, bouncing, and repeating phrases before turning each page.

Vivid illustrations with bright colors make this a storytime standout. Turn the animal-sound reveals into a guessing game for preschoolers or kindergarteners, especially if paired with a non-fiction rainforest or jungle animal title.

Mia Mayhem and the Super Family Field Day by Kara West (first chapter book)
Gr. 1-3. Mia Mayhem finally gets to see her superhero parents in action when her Program for In Training Superheroes (the PITS) hosts a family field day. Mia knows everything is for fun, but she really would like to win that trophy…

I adore the Mia Mayhem series SO MUCH. At their heart, these are well-written, fun first chapter books combining superhero antics with everyday elements of growing up, including friendship struggles, balancing home and school, overcoming challenges, wanting to win, and more. The diversity in our young superheroes is unparalleled, with Mia having close friends of not just different races, but a friend who is blind (with a super guide dog) and a friend who has two prosthetic legs. We learn in this book that one of her friends has two dads. And its all so seamlessly included in the text that this series is far from issues books–they are just kids in everyday (superhero) situations.

Mummy, What’s In Your Tummy? by Bernadita Romero (board book)
Toddler-PreS. In this board book, a child imagines what might be growing in his mummy’s tummy. Originally published in Chile in Spanish and translated to English. I wonder if the translation has to do with the inclusion of a whale as one of the animal guesses–a logical guess for a small child, but maybe not a word every expecting mom wants to use to describe her belly? (Or an elephant for that matter…) Diverse family featured throughout.

Rockin’ Rockets: The Adventures of Allie and Amy by Stephanie Calmenson (first chapter book)
Gr. 2-3. Allie and Amy are are inseparable, until new girl Gracie moves into their neighborhood. Gracie doesn’t want to come between Allie and Amy, but when Gracie is only allowed to have one friend over at a time, she is forced to choose. When Gracie accidentally promises both Allie and Amy her extra ticket to the Rockin’ Rockets concert, suddenly Allie and Amy are fighting over who gets to go, and their status as best-friends-forever is in question.

The Allie and Amy series is cute, if a little shallow. I appreciate the diverse friend group and that the girls live in apartments (something not often shown in kid’s lit). I wish their friendship struggles had been more fleshed out in this book, as these kinds of fights do happen in real life, and they aren’t often resolved by getting an additional free ticket because your other neighbor just happens to be the mysterious new drummer in your favorite band. A good readalike for the more nuanced Craftily Ever After and Miranda and Maude series.

Row, Row, Row Your Boat: Sing Along with Me! by Nosy Crow (board book)
Baby-Toddler. Cute, though short, board book adaptation of the song Row, Row, Row Your Boat. The chunky sliders and pull tabs will appeal to babies and toddlers and are sturdy enough for repeated circulation. I prefer Jane Cabrera’s adaptation for storytime purposes, as it has very similar verses with larger, less dense illustrations. The interactivity and small details make this ideal for a one-on-one reading.

Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee (graphic novel)
Gr. 4-5. Lora feels left out as all of her friends seem to be growing up without her. Lora doesn’t want to grow up, and she is thrilled to discover a new (though also old) friend living in her house. Ghost girl Alexa is around Lora’s age, haunting Lora’s house and just looking for a friend. The two become inseparable even as Lora begins to grow up on her own, and Alexa grows more and more curious about the past that she can’t remember.

Beautifully illustrated and filled with all the feels, Séance Tea Party is a sweet story about how friendships change, what it means to grow up, and keeping the magic of childhood alive. Be prepared for a bittersweet, authentic ending that may leave you tearing up.

Speak Up by Miranda Paul (picture book)
Gr. PreS-K. When you see something that doesn’t feel right, when you make a mistake, when you can help someone in need, use your voice and speak up!

While this book’s message is simple, it approaches kindness, activism, and using your voice in a tone perfect for preschoolers, kindergarteners, and first graders. The book shows real situations kids may face in school such as a teacher mispronouncing a classmate’s name, kids spreading rumors that mud on a child’s pants is really something else, litter covering the playground, classmates goofing around, and more. A diverse class reflects the faces of real kids who spoke up and made a difference, as shown in the last few pages along with brief information on how those kid’s made a difference in the real world. Perfect choice for a kindergarten storytime.

Target: Earth (Klawde, Evil Alien Warlord Cat) by Johnny Marciano and Emily Chenoweth
Gr. 3-4. Klawde,–the Evil Alien Warlord Cat from Planet Lytterbox trapped on Earth as punishment–is moving on to another evil scheme. Klawde has decided to take over his new home–Earth. Using the technology skills of his evil minion cat, Klawde programs a new cybercurrency, Kitcoin, and uses his new wealth to buy virtual reality headsets that allow him to control Earth’s squirrels. Combine those headsets with a dozen or so satellites, and Klawde is on his way to world domination. Except, humans aren’t quite as easy to conquer as Klawde might believe.

Ridiculous and funny, this is a perfect step-up series for fans of Dog Man, Captain Underpants, and even Diary of a Wimpy Kid. The balance of Klawde’s evil villain commentary and Raj’s everyday concerns (and fear of and love for his all-powerful cat) keep reader’s engaged and eager to know what will happen next. Cute messages about friendship and technology make this series feel a little preachy, but that is easily pushed aside when paired with Klawde’s pure villainy. Looking forward to many more Klawde adventures.

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