Halloween Fun!

“The Scariest Book Ever” by Bob Shea

Today I am reviewing this picture book, written and illustrated by Mr. Bob Shea. The story invites the reader to interact with the main character, a ghost, who is afraid of, well, everything. I really liked this book because it was funny and also fun to read aloud to my dog, who isn’t always the best listener, but doesn’t mind hearing me read. I read it in the scariest voice I could come up with so as to get the full effect of every page. This book is designed to be read aloud and the pictures really make the story pop while inviting all readers to imagine what is coming next. I laughed at quite a few parts in this book, especially when I turned the page and there was clearly nothing to be afraid of. Children of all ages (and their parents) will adore this fun-to-read, sweetly designed Halloween book.

Five out of Five stars.


Book Review: “March: Book 1” by John Lewis

Been a while since I have been on here, but I think I realized I need to keep writing this blog. For some reason, getting my thoughts out here, even if it’s just to a few people, fills me with great joy. I’m glad to be writing this review for you today. Happy reading!

“March: Book 1” by John Lewis

“March” chronicles the story of Senator John Lewis both as he grows up and as he readies himself to watch Barack Obama become president on January 20, 2009.

The story flips between the present day (2009) and the past (1940s-60s) South. John shows us how he grew up on a chicken farm with dreams of becoming a preacher. One day, his uncle asks him to come on a road trip with him and go up north. John realizes some of the injustices his parents have tried to keep him from—and some of the freedoms he’s had to live without. When he is back in his hometown, he learns all he can despite having a limited access to schooling. John speaks about Rosa Parks and Brown v. Board of Education helped encourage his will to become a public servant. In college, John and his friends do more than just learn. With the help of other adults, they train to become civilly disobedient citizens. The training is grueling, but necessary. It prepares them for the real world ahead. Peaceful protest becomes John’s way of fighting for commong good and continues to be so to this day.

The juxtaposition of John’s past and present both showcases the road he has traveled and how far we need to go. I would recommend this book to anyone mature enough to understand the content. This book is what our world needs right now. Five stars.



Picture Book Review: “My Dog Laughs” by Rachel Isadora


I picked up this story about dogs from my public library in August, but didn’t get around to actually reading it until today. I must confess that the main reason I actually even looked at the book was because of its cover painting. There is just so much to love about the cover, but that painting of the black and white dog laughing really illustrates the joy this book brings even before you open it up. Inside, pictures of various dogs line inner pages, all eager to meet the reader even before the story begins.

This is my dog ____. The story starts off with an introduction to some of the dogs we’ll see in the book. Child dog owners start by showing off their dogs, who are as different as the names they’ve given them. Some are small dogs and some aren’t, some are furry; some not. The owners are a diverse cast of characters as well. There are kids in wheelchairs, kids with different kinds of hair, small kids, big kids, etc. A lot of humans love dogs. The kids take turns showing readers what it’s like to live with their dog. One owner and her canine companion love reading. Another likes playing catch with his pup as a Frisbee flies across the page. Occasionally, the dogs get into trouble. They’re chewing up toilet paper or drinking out of the toilet. This causes much concern amongst the young owners, who work hard to remedy common situations with hilarious results. “My Dog Laughs” is a funny, touching and sure-to-be-loved addition to any dog owner’s collection.

4 out of 5 stars. I was expecting more of a story about one dog instead of multiple takes on what it’s like to own one. I think my dog would give it all paws and one tail up, though.

Have you read this book? Tell us about it in the comments!

Book image via Amazon.com

Five Reasons I’m Loving “Young Sheldon” right now

Full disclosure: I didn’t watch “Young Sheldon,” the new, awesome CBS comedy, until two weeks ago. When new shows come on during the baseball playoffs, I don’t always pay them the proper attention they need. Luckily, my library snagged a copy of the first season of this show this past August and I was first in line to get it on DVD.

I’m halfway through season one and I can already say it’s one of my favorite shows on TV right now. Based off of the hit series “The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon” tells the story of Sheldon Cooper, the extremely detail-oriented, socially awkward physicist as a nine-year-old boy growing up in Texas. Not having seen most of the parent series, I didn’t know much about Sheldon or his family besides the fact that he grew up in the 1980s. I also presumed that even then, not everyone understood him. This last bit was exactly why I was interested in the show in the first place. I’ve always loved a fish out of water story and I thought “Young Sheldon” would be no exception. I was right, but there was more. There always is.


1. Follow the spin-off rule: A spin-off should always compliment the parent show, not try to BE it. The reason I’m not into “Fuller House” isn’t that it’s a spin-off. It’s that I feel it’s trying too hard to be a show that hasn’t been on for twenty plus years. A spin-off shouldn’t try to be exactly like its predecessor, but instead compliment it by charting its own course. “Young Sheldon” cuts out most of the “Big Bang” cast members because it is set in 1989. Aside from Jim Parsons, who periodically does voiceovers during the show, the cast is completely new, including MeeMaw (played in younger years by Annie Potts).


2. The Plot. While the plot of “The Big Bang Theory” mainly revolves around a group of physicists and their friends, “Young Sheldon” is all about the Cooper family: Mom (Zoe Perry), Dad (Lance Barber), Georgie (Montana Jordan), twins Sheldon (Iain Armitage) and Missy (Raegan Revord) and MeeMaw (Annie Potts). The family dynamic of the show, along with its 1980s setting, is what really drew me in. It’s so different from the original one, which is one of the things it has going for it. I like the idea of exploring the various experiences Sheldon’s family members had with him as he grew into the person we love on “The Big Bang Theory.” Additionally, it is fun to see how much things have changed with regard to education, children’s TV shows (“DuckTales,” anyone?) and people’s general perceptions of being different.


3. Different. I truly think this is a show that celebrates differences of the people in our lives. Each character is unique and, true to “Big Bang” form, they never apologize for it. Perhaps my favorite characters (other than Sheldon) are Georgie and Missy. Georgie has the um, unenviable task of going to school with super-smart Sheldon, even though he’s years older. Georgie is all about football and just skating by in school, whereas Sheldon wants to succeed (and correct others when they are wrong). Georgie perhaps knows he’s not going to be the best or the brightest, so he instead settles on getting into a little mischief. Sheldon on the other hand would rather stay away from any trouble and preferably, away from Georgie. Missy just wants to be nine years old and watch cartoons—and maybe party a little. She’s all about fun and she doesn’t want Sheldon to ruin things for her. To Sheldon, she’s a bit of an airhead, but he likes her all the same (see S1E10). The differences we all have aren’t necessarily positive or negative, sometimes they’re just part of being human.


4. Sheldon has some great parents. They don’t pretend to know it all, but they’re sure as heck going to try. Mom Mary must not be crossed when it comes to religion. Sheldon is an atheist. Dad, George Sr., loves football and would love it if Sheldon did too, but that’s probably never happening. Sheldon is a very square peg that will not fit into their round hole of a family. Do they worry about it? Yes. Almost every episode is wired around something Sheldon must do differently. Their other children often complain about how much special treatment “Shelly” gets. This is the reality of having an exceptional (some have said Aspergian, though it’s not confirmed) child in the family. The other reality is, at least for Sheldon, there’s a loving family behind him all the way. They just don’t show it all the time.


5. MeeMaw. Honestly, Annie Potts steals the show as MeeMaw. We can tell from the start that Sheldon loves her almost, if not more than, his mom. She sees who he really is, doesn’t try to fix him and generally loves hanging out with him. That’s not something Sheldon really sees a lot. He has one friend at school. He eats lunch in the library. But MeeMaw is someone he can always talk to. She’s someone who really makes him smile and lets him shine. In addition, most, if not all of her lines are hilarious. Sheldon and his siblings might not understand her all the time, but MeeMaw is truly a hoot. And they will understand one day. 😉


Now that you’ve heard Five Reasons I’m Loving “Young Sheldon” right now, go ahead and see what all the fuss is about. Or, if you have watched the show, be sure to comment down below on how you feel. Thanks for reading!


Not So Randomly Pulled Books I Reviewed This Week

I was actually in search of another book at the library when I saw these two in the “W” section of our picture book area. “Sammy in the Sky” caught my eye because it involves a dog and the illustrations are just gorgeous. “Ask Me” is by Bernard Waber, one of my favorite childhood authors. I simply had to pick them up and give them a try.

“Sammy in the Sky” By Barbara Walsh; Illustrated by Jamie Wyeth

“Sammy in the Sky” is about a girl’s relationship with her best friend, Sammy. In addition to being “the best hound dog ever,” Sammy is great at playing games, running around and chasing bubbles. He even lets his sisters dress him up sometimes. Sammy will always comfort a person when they are sad. As he gets older, Sammy starts slowing down until one day, he really just doesn’t feel well. He’s very sick. Heartbroken, the family spends as much time with the hound dog as possible…until they aren’t able to do anything more. The little girls miss Sammy so much, but they try to imagine him playing somewhere in the sky. He is free.

I would one hundred percent recommend this book to any person who needs a simple talk about death, especially the death of a childhood pet. The tender illustrations and beautiful words made this dog owner shed a tear more than once. I have an older dog and I feel this book could give comfort to those going through the senior dog stage. Five stars.

“Ask Me” By Bernard Waber; Illustrated by Suzy Lee

Now, for something almost completely different! “Ask Me” tells the tale of a father and a daughter enjoying a fun-filled fall day. As he does in “Ira Sleeps Over,” Bernard Waber does an excellent job of showing us family relationships up close, from a child’s perspective. While walking through the park, dad and child take turns asking each other questions ranging from “What’s your favorite color?” to what kind of bugs they like. Waber’s text combines with Lee’s vibrant illustrations to create a satisfying book that’s sure to become a favorite in children’s libraries.

I give five stars to this book. As always, Bernard Waber never talks down to children and never ceases to amaze in his way of making the most simple things (a walk in the park) into adventures. The literary world truly lost a giant the day he died and he is missed by many, including myself.

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts? What should I read next?

Randomly Pulled from the Book Drop Week 6

After being on another vacation, this time to Colorado, I pulled some new books out of the drop and started reading. I almost always choose picture books because they are so easy to read and then review in one week. This time around, it was a re-read of an old favorite “The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear” by Audrey and Don Wood; illustrated by Don Wood. My second book was called “Race Car is Roaring.” It was written by Mandy Archer and illustrated by Martha Lightfoot.

We’ll start with the old fave first. I remember reading the book, “The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear” as a kid. I have always loved Don and Audrey Wood’s books, especially “Heckedy Peg” and “The Napping House,” for their illustrations and fun (sometimes really scary for children) stories. A re-read of Heckedy Peg might be in the works for me. That book gave me a nightmare when I read it at bedtime once. But, I digress. This is about The Little Mouse, after all.

I loved my re-read of “The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear.” Not only is it a very funny book to read out loud, but the illustrations really compliment the text. I like how the mouse’s expressions and movements change as the narrator (Possibly the bear? Maybe a child?) talks with him. The narrator warns the little mouse on each page of a big, hungry bear that loves strawberries. The mouse, in turn, tries to hide or disguise the strawberry so the bear will not find it. But the narrator is relentless in his (or her?) warnings, elevating the tension ever so much until the climactic finish. Aside from the character development and the storytelling, I love how this book promotes concepts like sharing, fear and anxiety in a fun (and hilarious) way. “The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear” is a great read for children ages 4 and up. Five out of five stars.


Onto the next: “Race Car is Roaring” by Mandy Archer; illustrated by Martha Lightfoot. What a cute little find this was! I loved how the characters were done in this. They look painted, or at least done on a computer. Regardless, the little bunnies and other animals in this book are so sweet it makes you want to cuddle them—if only they weren’t racing cars right at this very moment. In this story, Rabbit is preparing for a race. He’s got his blue Race Car ready and his pit crew is set. The race begins and you can almost hear the crowd cheering from the pictures in the background. The crew is set up, ready to take action if Rabbit needs a pit stop. But the main character is Race Car. Race Car speeds up ahead of the crowded vehicle pack, ready to take on the world with his friend Rabbit. Though they might have a few pit stops on the way, their friends are always ready to help. The vocabulary in this story is geared toward the racing market, so the author made sure any words or phrases relating to the sport were just a bit bigger than the rest. I liked that because there are probably some kids out there who don’t know a whole lot about racing and they might like to have their parents talk about the words after the story. It’s a great way to introduce new vocabulary. I also liked the car models at the end of the book, which showed different kinds of cars for different types of racing. Archer and Lightfoot include a diagram of one race car so that kids can see where every part goes to make the machine work. I would not have picked this book off a shelf, but I think younger kids, especially those 3 to 8, probably would! 4.5 out of 5 stars.