Review: Wild Kratts Wild Animal Babies!

The Basics

wildanimalbabies
Title: Wild Kratts Wild Animal Babies!
Author: Martin and Chris Kratt
ISBN: 9781101931721
Copyright Date: 2016
Publisher: Random House
Reader Brand: Step Into Reading
Level: Level 2
Series: Wild Kratts (Wild Predators, Wild Reptiles, Wild Sea Creatures)

Thoughts

Martin and Chris investigate wild animal babies from all different species and habitats.

I started reading this book with minimal knowledge of Wild Kratts. I knew that Wild Kratts was a series on PBS, that the DVDs are very popular, and that the non-fiction titles of books were often too hard for my library’s interested audience. (I highly recommend the Wikia entry on Wild Kratts if you need to learn some terms.)

At first I was put off because all of the animals are illustrated and are not photographed. I watched a bit of an episode online and found out that the brothers suit up to be in the animal’s natural habitats. After watching, I re-evaluated my initial thoughts and realized that this was done to appeal to fans.

I liked the variety of animals presented and I felt like the facts given were easy for beginning readers to understand. Technical terms are explained in kid-friendly language: “Howling helps a wolf pack talk to each other and stay together.” I even learned a new facts about spider monkeys which was the hardest passage for a beginning reader to read.

Great for libraries who are looking to build more non-fiction titles in beginning readers as well as those that have animal fans or Wild Kratts fans.

Review: What This Story Needs is a Hush and a Shush

The Basics

whatthisstoryneedsisahushandashush
Title: What This Story Needs is a Hush and a Shush
Author: Emma J. Virj√°n
ISBN: 9780062415288
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: N/A
Level: N/A
Series: Pig in a Wig (What This Story Needs is a Pig and a Wig)

Thoughts

Pig is getting ready for bed when all of a sudden, animals appear in her bedroom making their favorite noises. Pig cannot sleep with all of that noise! Now this story needs a hush and a shush.

Flat out, I love these books. I love this series. I’m so excited that What This Story Needs is a Crunch and Munch will be joining the books later on this summer.

I think beginning readers will love this book because of the animal noises. I always tell parents in storytime that animal noises are some of children’s first words because the sounds are easier to start with. Beginning readers will know what sounds the animals are supposed to say through context clues and previous knowledge.

And I am still in love with the bright illustrations and bold color choices. I am really drawn to the art and my patrons are too. I think that this book in particular would make an excellent flannelboard. (Thrive After Three made the original Pig in a Wig.) I hope that there will be many more to come!

Review: I Really Like Slop

The Basics

ireallylikeslop
Title: I Really Like Slop!
Author: Mo Willems
ISBN: 9781484722626
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Reader N/A
Level: N/A
Series: Elephant and Piggie

Thoughts

Piggie has some slop and she really wants Gerald to try it. Will he work up the courage to try something new?

The illustrations of this beginning reader series are really what shines. Piggie and Gerald are so expressive that you know exactly what the character is thinking/feeling which is so important for a beginning reader to see spelled out.

That being said, I Really Like Slop! didn’t work for me. While I can see many children relating to the struggle to try something new, Piggie’s line of “Eating slop is part of pig culture” made me stop and think about cultural foods and how often they are said to be “gross” and “weird” by children. I was pleased that Gerald tried it, but the joke for me didn’t resonate. I thought it might make children who eat different food than their peers feel othered.

Obviously, this book is a must for Elephant and Piggie fans in the library. But I don’t think it will become one that I champion and hand-sell.

Review: Berkley, the Terrible Sleeper

The Basics

berkleytheterriblesleeper
Title: Berkley, the Terrible Sleeper
Author: Mitchell Sharmat
ISBN: 9781481438339
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Reader Brand: Ready to Read
Level: Level Two
Series: N/A

Thoughts

Berkley is a bear and he is a terrible sleeper. He can’t even sleep through the night, so Momma and Poppa Bear are really worried about what will happen to Berkley over the winter. Will he be able to fall asleep?

I was utterly charmed by Berkley and his inability to sleep. The illustrations are lovely and really bring the characters to life. My favorite part on my re-read was watching Momma and Poppa Bear grow more worried and tired as the book continued on. Some of the text is slightly obscured since as it’s printed over the backgrounds, but not enough to hinder me as an adult reader. It might prove difficult for a child.

The plot twist alone is worth a purchase for libraries looking to buy stand-alone beginning reader titles instead of the more traditional series.

Review: Ling & Ting Together in All Weather

The Basics

lingandtingtogetherinallweather
Title: Ling & Ting Together In All Weather
Author: Grace Lin
ISBN: 9780316335492
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Reader Brand: N/A
Level: N/A
Series: Ling and Ting (Ling & Ting Not Exactly the Same; Ling & Ting Share a Birthday; Ling & Ting Twice as Silly)

Thoughts

Ling and Ting are twins. This beginning reader takes us on a seasonal journey full of different kinds of weather in six stories.

I think what I love most about the Ling and Ting books are the simple, relatable stories intertwined between the six different chapters. This collection shows a thunderstorm, heat (summer), leaves falling (fall), snow (winter), spring, and rainbows. I think there are opportunities for teachers to use this book with STEAM concepts!

Ling and Ting continue to shine in the fourth volume of their series. I love the inviting cover of the girls in their striped dresses and think that the book just asks to be read.

Keep making this fabulous series and I will keep buying it!

Review: Digger and Daisy Star in a Play

The Basics

diggeranddaisystarinaplay
Title: Digger and Daisy Star in a Play
Author: Judy Young
ISBN: 9781585369294
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Reader Brand: I Am a Reader!
Level: N/A
Series: Digger and Daisy Book 5 (Digger and Daisy Go to the Zoo, Digger and Daisy Go On a Picnic, Digger and Daisy Go to the Doctor, Digger and Daisy Go to the City)

Thoughts

Digger and Daisy — brother and sister — are starring in a play. Digger is playing a tree and has no lines. Daisy is playing a princess and has to remember just two words. Will their play bring a standing ovation?

I thought that the storyline was predictable and familiar (if you’ve seen any school plays, you can guess what happens to Daisy). Normally, that might be a concern for picture books but predictable situations are perfect for beginning readers.

This was my first Digger and Daisy book. It was easy enough to follow along without having read any of the previous books. There’s a lot of nice white space around the text and the picture do a good job of supporting the text. I really like that Daisy wears glasses — there are not enough characters that wear glasses in both picture books and beginning readers!

This can be an additional purchase for most libraries unless you have a large beginning reader population (like us) or if you’re needing some books celebrating brother/sister relationships. Our patrons are happy with the series.

Review: Prince Fly Guy

The Basics

princeflyguy
Title: Prince Fly Guy
Author: Tedd Arnold
ISBN: 9780545662758
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Scholastic
Reader Brand: N/A
Level: N/A
Series: Fly Guy

Thoughts

Buzz is writing a fairy tale with the help of Fly Guy who has his own opinions about how the story should go. Fly Guy imagines himself as the handsome prince in Buzz’s story. But will they both get their happily ever after?

Funny, imaginative, and another fabulous addition to this series. Fly Guy’s interpretation of the story is told in thought bubbles as Buzz writes the story. Fly Guy is very expressive when he doesn’t like where the story is headed and I think that will help readers looking for context clues. I really enjoyed when Fly Guy got so caught up in the story that he didn’t offer any more suggestions to Buzz.

A definite buy if you’ve got Fly Guy fans!

Review: Biscuit Phonics Fun & Biscuit More Phonics Fun

The Basics

biscuitphonics
Title: Biscuit Phonics Fun & Biscuit More Phonics Fun
Author: Alyssa Satin Capucilli
ISBN: 9780061432040 & 9780062086532
Copyright Date: 2008
Publisher: HarperCollins
Reader Brand: I Can Read
Level: N/A
Series: Biscuit

Thoughts

Biscuit is a dog with lots and lots of friends to go on adventures with.

Each set of Biscuit Phonics focused on either short vowels (Phonics Fun) or long vowels (More Phonics Fun). Both sets have a total of twelve little books and one “Letter to Parents” resource guide. The twelve books consist of an introduction to Biscuit, two books on each vowel (a, e, i, o, u), and a review of short or long vowels depending on the set.

These books are hugely valuable for parents and teachers looking for guidance with beginning readers. I love the Letter to Parents because it addresses many concerns that parents have about their child starting to read. Both letters in the sets address learning about vowel sounds, sight words, picture clues, and has tips for parents to read with their child.

While the sets might be difficult to process for libraries, I think they are well worth the investment. Highly recommended.

Review: A Mystery Comes Knocking

The Basics

amysterycomesknocking
Title: A Mystery Comes Knocking
Author: Albin Sadar
ISBN: 9781481420372
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Reader Brand: Ready to Read
Level: Level 2
Series: Hamster Holmes (Combing for Clues, upcoming On the Right Track)

Thoughts

Hamster Holmes is on the case! When Corny O’Squirrel hears a knocking at his door only to find no one there, it’s up to Hamster Holmes and his side-kick Mr. Watt to solve this mystery. What will the team discover when they spend the night at Corny’s?

This new mystery series is wonderful since I always have readers asking for mysteries. I loved the inside jokes to hamster life (drinking from his water bottle, thinking while running on the wheel) and thought that added a special flair to the book. The text is about the same as other books in the Ready to Read level 2 brand books.

I’m curious as to how Mr. Watt speaking in Morse code is received by readers. Is it a frustration or an added “mystery” for them to solve?

Recommended for libraries looking to increase their beginning reader mystery options.

Review: The Little Butterfly

The Basics

thelittlebutterfly
Title: The Little Butterfly
Author: Sherry Shahan
ISBN: 9780375971891
Copyright Date: 1998 (text), 2015
Publisher: Random House
Reader Brand: Step Into Reading
Level: Level 2
Series: N/A

Thoughts

This book chronicles the life-cycle of a Monarch butterfly supported by photographs as illustrations.

Originally published as a picture book in 1998, this was recently re-released as a beginning reader in 2015. The photographs give great context clues as to what’s going on and most of the text is appropriate for a beginning reader. Harder words (like aphids and chrysalis) are given phonetic pronunciation guides within the text. Some words may prove to be a challenge to some readers (slurp, molting, sac) but this is a great opportunity for new vocabulary.

This book could be shelved in non-fiction or in beginning reader. I know many libraries in my area shelve both the reader and the picture in non-fiction. But I think it’s definitely possible to integrate these non-fiction readers into the mainstream collection.