Review: Wild Kratts Wild Animal Babies!

The Basics

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)


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

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)


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

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


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

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


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.

Geisel 2016 Award and Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Don’t Throw It to Mo! by David Adler

Mo loves playing football for the Robins. He’s one of the youngest (and smallest) players on his team. When the bigger team — the Jays — notices how small Mo is and how he isn’t playing, Mo’s coach makes a plan for the Robins to win: Don’t throw to Mo! But can Mo catch the ball when coach does decide to throw it to Mo?

This Penguin Young Readers Level 2 book is a perfect match for sports fans and beginning readers. The text is big and easy-to-read while the illustrations support the story in bright colors. I absolutely fell in love with the illustrations in this book. The tiny details (sweat coming off of Mo doing chin-ups, dirt stains on the uniforms, the lines indicating the ball’s movement, I could go on) really enhance and support the text.

A second volume to the Mo Jackson series — Get a Hit, Mo! is scheduled to release this February! I know I’ll be eagerly snapping several copies up for the library.


Honor: A Pig, A Fox, and a Box by Jonathan Fenske

Fox tries to trick his friend Pig by hiding in a box. But when Pig accidentally sits on the box, Fox is flattened. Can Fox hide again and surprise Pig? This beginning reader uses cartoon dialog bubbles to show which character is speaking. The rhyming words of fox/box and pig/wig will be great for beginning readers.

Honor: Waiting by Kevin Henkes

Five friends sit on a windowsill and wait for many things: the moon, the rain, the wind, and the snow. This picture book from Caldecott medalist Kevin Henkes works well for beginning readers — the text takes up a majority of the page and there’s a wonderful amount of repeated vocabulary. The book also allows readers to form and answer questions of their own about the storyline.

Honor: Supertruck by Stephen Savage

All of the trucks have jobs in the city. But when a snowstorm stops them from doing their work, who will rescue them? Leave it to SUPERTRUCK! This story of an “underdog” garbage truck who manages to save the day will work both for beginning readers and as a great toddler storytime book. The clean illustrations are very pleasing to the eye and the text is predictable for beginning readers.

Review: Ling & Ting Together in All Weather

The Basics

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)


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

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)


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.

On the Radar: School Library Journal December 2015

“On the Radar” is a new feature when I plan to call attention to readers reviewed in major publications.

School Library Journal (December 2015)


Get a Hit, Mo! by David Adler
Pig Is Big on Books by Douglas Florian
Hiding Dinosaurs by Dan Moynhan
Crow Made a Friend by Margaret Peot
Pie for Chuck by Pat Schories
I Really Like Slop by Mo Willems

All titles received reviews!

Booklist: Things That Go

This fall, I updated and created new Beginning Reader booklists. Some were topics that we’ve had before (Phonics, Animals) and others were entirely new topics (Diversity, Classics). I created the booklist using Publisher and a template that I’m very familiar with since I also use it for my programming handouts. So far, they’ve been well received by the patrons! I thought it would be a good idea to list out the books that I chose for each topic.


More Phonics
Beginning reader books featuring all kinds of vehicles!

  • Big Machines by D.R. Addison*
  • City Machines by Connor Dayton*
  • Stone Arch readers by Melinda Crow*
  • Dinotrux by Chris Gall*
  • Train Travel by Deborah Lock
  • Mighty Machines (Various)*
  • Hello, School Bus! by Marjorie Parker*
  • Construction Zone (Various)*
  • Trucktown by Jon Scieszka*
  • (*indicates more books in the series)

On the Radar: Growing Minds: November/December

“On the Radar” is a new feature when I plan to call attention to readers reviewed in major publications.

Growing Minds (November/December 2015)


Across the Sea by Ruth Homberg
Daniel Get Scared by Maggie Testa
Big Dinosaur, Little Dinosaur by Melissa Lagonegro
Doozers Have Green Thumbs by Cordelia Evans
I Can Be a Farm Vet by Apple Jordan
The Knight Night Guard by Amy Sky Koster
Loose Tooth! by Julianne Moore
Make a Trade, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz
Moo Bird by David Milgrim
Rock Star by Ree Drummond
Sealed With a Kick by Maggie Testa
Sonia Sotomayor by Barbara Kramer
The Sugary Secrets Behind Candy by Ellie O’Ryan
Take a Hike, Teddy Roosevelt! by Frank Murphy
Together in All Weather by Grace Lin

All titles were mentioned; none were reviewed.