2018 Caldecott Committee

Hi, all! The blog has been very quiet since I was elected to the 2018 Caldecott Committee. All of my time has been redirected there and I will not be posting during 2017 since I can’t comment about any 2017 titles. See you in 2018!

Review: When Andy Met Sandy

The Basics

Title: When Andy Met Sandy
Author: Tomie dePaola and Jim Lewis
ISBN: 9781481441551
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Reader Brand: N/A
Level: N/A
Series: Andy and Sandy (Andy & Sandy’s Anything Adventure)


Andy and Sandy are both playing at the same playground. Neither of them knows each other and wonders what it would be like to play together. Is there some toy at the playground that needs both of them to work?

I was very excited to see these new readers featured at ALA Midwinter in Boston this year. Tomie dePaola was a childhood favorite. I ate up the Strega Nona books, but my favorite was always The Art Lesson. dePaola’s signature art makes this reader (and its companion) a success. dePaola has a great way of capturing a child’s world on their level. I absolutely adore the endpapers in these books which feature crayon drawings of Andy and Sandy’s adventures.

The text is large and placed against a white background. Each page has one or two short sentences: “Yes! Would you?” The words will be familiar to children and the setting will help children sound out potentially tougher words like “seesaw” and “tunnel”. I would feel comfortable handing this to a new beginning reader.

I did wonder how readers will view the different skin tones. Since it isn’t specified in the text, readers do not know if Andy is a person of color or just has a different skin tone than Sandy. We may find out more if the series progresses. I thought it was worth noting.

Definitely worth purchasing a copy for most public libraries.

Review: Biscuit Feeds the Pets

The Basics

Title: Biscuit Feeds the Pets
Author: Alyssa Satin Capucilli
ISBN: 9780062236975
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: I Can Read!
Level: My First Shared Reading
Series: Biscuit (Biscuit, Biscuit Finds a Friend, Bathtime for Biscuit, Biscuit’s New Trick, Biscuit Wants to Play, Biscuit’s Big Friend, Biscuit Goes to School, Biscuit Wins a Prize, Biscuit and the Baby, Biscuit Visits the Big City, Biscuit’s Day at the Farm, Biscuit and the Little Pup, Biscuit Takes a Walk, Biscuit Meets the Class Pet, Biscuit and the Lost Teddy Bear, Biscuit Plays Ball, Biscuit in the Garden, Biscuit Loves the Library, Biscuit Goes Camping) & Biscuit Phonics Fun and Biscuit More Phonics Fun


Biscuit goes to help Mrs. Gray feed the pets she owns. But when Biscuit help free some of the other animals, things get pretty crazy. Will Biscuit find a way to help?

Easy text with a large font on a white or light tan background will give beginning readers easy access to the words of the story. I noticed that this font was much bigger and bolder than the other ten or so beginning readers on my desk. That makes this a superb choice for those just starting to read. There are just a few two syllable words in this volume other than Biscuit’s name. And the two syllable words (kittens, puppies, water, going) are easy to decode with support from the illustrations.

This was — believe it or not — my first regular Biscuit book! I’ve been recommending the series to very beginning beginning readers for years and I finally decided to sit down and read one myself. I will continue to recommend this series to patrons in the library and look forward to reading more. That being said, there are a lot of volumes of Biscuit and unless you need more easy beginning readers or have die-hard Biscuit fans, this might be an additional purchase if you already have most of the other books.

Review: Get a Hit, Mo!

The Basics

Title: Get a Hit, Mo!
Author: David A. Adler
ISBN: 9780670016327
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Reader Brand: Penguin Young Readers
Level: Level 2 Progressing Reader
Series: Mo Jackson (Don’t Throw It to Mo!)


Mo never gets a hit and is stuck playing right field. No balls ever come to right field. But every time Mo is at the plate, he has a chance to help his team. Will Mo ever get a hit?

This sequel to the 2016 Geisel Award Don’t Throw It to Mo! continues the story of Mo Jackson, the tiniest team member of both his football team and now his baseball team. I connected personally with Mo. I played right field for three years of T-ball and baseball and he’s right — no balls ever come to right field! (Lucky for me, I was so short that I basically didn’t have a strike zone.)

Things I love about this book: racial diversity and gender diversity (Mo’s coach is a woman!), relatable series, lots of repeated words and familiar words for sports fan.

Things I don’t love about this book: the contrast between background (green grass) and black words was not enough for me to feel comfortable, and the book ends with a neat bow again. Mo saves the day again. That kind of a set-up would bother me as a kid after a while. I hope that if there are future Mo books that he has to learn to lose as well.

Even with the minor flaws, recommended for public libraries.

Review: Dance! Dance! Underpants!

The Basics

Title: Dance! Dance! Underpants!
Author: Bob Shea
ISBN: 9781484713792
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Reader Brand: N/A
Level: N/A
Series: Ballet Cat (The Totally Secret Secret)


Ballet Cat is ready to do some super-high leaps to finish her show. But her friend Butter Bear does not seem to want to leap — is there a real reason that her friend doesn’t want to leap?

The second Ballet Cat book in the series continued in the same fashion. There is a secret to uncover in this beginning reader. The back of the book says that it is a mystery and I can almost see this building as a friendship + mystery series. Once again, I had a little bit of problems with the color changes. But I thought it was much improved over the first edition. The background colors remain consistent for several pages in a row and both Ballet Cat and Butter Bear have their own dialogue box colors which largely do not change. (Ballet Cat’s do once towards the end when the background becomes pink.) I was absolutely in love with the underwear though.

Text is easy to understand and the illustrations are where this book really shines. I love the expressions on Ballet Cat and Butter Bear’s faces throughout the text.

Definitely recommended for libraries, in particular Illinois libraries since the first book is on the 2018 Monarch Nominees list.

Review: Splash

The Basics

Title: Splash
Author: Kallie George
ISBN: 9781927018774
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Simply Read Books
Reader Brand: N/A
Level: N/A
Series: TinyTails (Spark, Flare)


Splash is a sea serpent and she’s supposed to be sneaky. But every time she’s in the water, she can’t help splashing her tail! Can Grampa teach her to be quiet?

The text is mostly set against a white background making it easy for beginning readers to read (the last page spread changes to be on light blue with enough contrast to see). Illustrations appear in every page spread to support the story. Illustrations are done by Geneviève Côté. The book is divided into four chapters that tell a continuous story. A table of contents can be found on page one. Overall, the text is comprised of one or two syllable words. Many of the words have blended sounds (twitched, splished, splashed, sneaky, shush, shadows, swam/swim, float, etc.) which makes me want to give this to a more confident beginning reader.

There isn’t a lot of fantasy books available for beginning readers. This is a great series to know about to help fulfill the fantasy requirement if your patrons come in with a genre list for beginning readers. (Yes, ours do!) Also great potential to use as a book to talk about quiet vs. loud with a child.

Review: Amelia Bedelia By the Yard

The Basics

Title: Amelia Bedelia By the Yard
Author: Herman Parish
ISBN: 9780062334282
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: I Can Read!
Level: Beginning Reading 1
Series: Amelia Bedelia


Amelia Bedelia’s mother loves garage sales. And when she stops by one, the whole family decides that they need to clean out the clutter in their own house. But will Amelia’s garage or yard actually get sold?

The text is mostly contained on white background, with a good size beginning reader font. Most of the words are either one or two syllables, though I counted about a dozen with three syllables. Every page has an illustration for text support, providing context clues to the reader. The illustrations are childlike and appropriate. While Amelia’s family appears to be white, there is some diversity in the other people that come to the garage sale.

As someone who grew up with classic Amelia Bedelia, I was hesitant when the new versions began releasing a few years back. Would the charm of Amelia Bedelia follow into these editions? I thought that it did. It’s a different kind of mix-ups, but one that today’s kids may relate to better. Especially when “garage sale” and “yard sale” do sound like you’re selling the area!

For libraries with a strong Amelia Bedelia crowd. May be an additional purchase if you already have some Amelias and do not have a core group of readers.

Review: Moo Bird

The Basics

Title: Moo Bird
Author: David Milgrim
ISBN: 9781518204005
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: Scholastic
Reader Brand: Scholastic Reader
Level: Level 1
Series: N/A


Moo Bird is kicked out of the bird’s nest when he says “Moo” instead of “Tweet”. Can Moo Bird find someone who will understand and appreciate him?

About half of Moo Bird‘s story in told in comic book style panels. Other page spreads do not have any panels and are more akin to the typical beginning reader/picture book. Milgrim uses dialog clouds/speech bubbles to show which character is speaking. Words are also occasionally emphasized by underlines or bold font. The illustrations support the text and the story has a predictable pattern for beginning readers to follow.

Beginning readers will find a friend in Moo Bird. I am hugely supportive of readers that use animal sounds since they are easier words for readers to decode once they understand that animal sounds are being used. But I think that Milgrim’s illustrations will also help readers to decode. I really enjoyed watching the evolution of the puppy from the background to the foreground before he approached Moo Bird.

A worthwhile purchase for libraries looking to increase easy beginning readers or graphic readers.

Review: Pete the Cat Scuba-Cat

The Basics

Title: Pete the Cat Scuba-Cat
Author: James Dean
ISBN: 9780062303899
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: I Can Read!
Level: My First Shared Reading
Series: Pete the Cat (Pete’s Big Lunch, Play Ball!, Pete at the Beach, Too Cool for School, A Pet for Pete, Pete the Cat and the Bad Banana, Pete the Cat’s Train Trip, Scuba-Cat, Sir Pete the Brave (June 2016))


Pete the Cat is on the lookout for a seahorse in this underwater adventure. Pete keeps meeting new ocean friends, but can’t find the elusive seahorse. Will they ever meet?

I thought that this Pete the Cat reader was a solid addition to the series. I miss the magic of the first Pete the Cat picture books but I can’t deny that Pete’s flexibility and attitude is great for a beginning reader to adopt. And familiar friends are always a solid choice to start a reader transitioning from picture books.

This story is really an identification game for kids to name ocean animals as Pete swims past. The catch is that the seahorse is behind Pete the whole time and I think that kids will really respond to that. It’s almost like an “I Spy” game that Pete keeps losing but that kids will keep winning.

As Pete goes deeper into the ocean, I felt like the text got a bit hard to read against the deeper blues. Not a deal breaker by any means, but something to keep in mind. Other than that, the text length was appropriate and potentially new animal vocabulary was supported by the illustrations.

For Pete fans, cat fans, ocean fans, and early beginning readers.

Review: Zach and Lucy and the Museum of Natural Wonders

The Basics

Title: Zach and Lucy and the Museum of Wonders
Author: The Pifferson Sisters (Jennifer Bradley and Stephanie Guerra)
ISBN: 9781481439367
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Reader Brand: Ready to Read
Level: Level 3
Series: Zach and Lucy (Zach and Lucy and the Yoga Zoo)


Zach and Lucy decide to start a museum of natural things in the basement of their apartment complex. But when their grumpy neighbor Mrs. Blankenship shows up, can she find something that she likes in the museum?

First of all, the positives: Zach and Lucy appear to be a biracial or blended family and that is a huge positive in my books. Diverse beginning readers are one of the hardest requests to fill for our patrons. I thought that the storyline was good and appropriate for a beginning reader — new vocabulary like “specimens” are defined in the text in a kid-friendly way. The text is solidly a “Level 3” and is comparable to Henry and Mudge in terms of difficulty, although Zach and Lucy in shorter in word count.

My only concern with the book is that the text varies significantly from page-to-page and that might frustrate a beginning reader who thinks the book is good for them on a one sentence page only to get the book home and find eight/nine sentence page spreads. Hopefully, parents/caregivers will pay attention to the “Level Three” classification.

Zach and Lucy already have a second book on the publishing schedule and I hope more will follow.