Review: Moo Bird

The Basics

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

Thoughts

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

petethecatscubacat
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))

Thoughts

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

zachandlucyandthemuseumofwonders
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)

Thoughts

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.

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.