LOVE by Matt De La Peña (Illustrated by Loren Long)

IMG_20180207_104304_432.jpgLove by Matt De La Peña is an illustrated children’s book that brings the word “love” into a new perspective. Often, when people think of the word “love”, happy couples, hearts, sunsets, romance and/or marriage comes to mind. What I enjoyed about this picture book is that Matt De La Peña brings to light all the different ways people can experience love throughout their life. Love is not pigeon-held to just couples, romance, marriage etc, but it is the relationship we have with parents, friends, neighbors, brothers, sisters, our city and/or food. He mentions how a parent holding a child in their arms as the child is waking up from a nightmare saying “it’s okay, it’s okay”, is an act of giving and receiving love. Matt mentions how seeing the same musician outside of the subway playing “love notes that lift into the sky like tiny beacons of light” provides a sense of comfort and in a sense love. A grandfather and each crease in his face as he is fishing with his grandson is also an act and sense of love. A sister providing a piece of toast for her brother is another act and/or experience of love. It’s a perfect children’s book to help kids understand that love can be all around them and all they have to do is recognize it. What everyone else can learn from this storybook is to appreciate the small gestures in everyday life and how they add up over time resulting in happy memories, stability and most of all…love. A good story to read to your kids around Valentine’s Day. 3 stars – Liked it. 

A Plump and Perky Turkey by Tessa Bateman

IMG_20171121_143734_461Upon seeing the cover for A Plump and Perky Turkey by Tessa Bateman, I made the incorrect assumption that it was going to be a children’s story about a plump and perky turkey who has a grand Thanksgiving day feast. I couldn’t be more wrong. Instead the story takes place in the small town of Squawk Valley and the village people don’t have any turkeys for Thanksgiving! All of the turkeys seem to have left the area once the leaves had started to fall. The people of Squawks Valley were devastated that there would be no turkey to eat on Thanksgiving.

However, Mr. Ebenezer Beezer has a plan to get a turkey for the townspeople. He announces that they shall have an arts and crafts fair that is “turkey themed” and that in order for people to create “turkey art”, they will need a model turkey. Therefore Beezer and the townspeople go out and put “turkey model wanted: plump and perky” signs in the nearby woods hoping a turkey will come forward. Along comes Pete, a very plump and perky turkey who is very cocky and feels he would be a great model, and so the townspeople hire him to “model” for their “artwork”. (Little does Pete know they are all looking at him as the perfect Thanksgiving dinner and not as a turkey model).

As Pete poses, the townspeople create turkey sculptures out of oatmeal, wheat, soap and rope. Upon completion of the sculptures, Pete is lead around by Ebenezer Beezer to judge the art work and after he makes a decision as to who the winner is, Pete hides amongst the artwork, blending it perfectly. Next think you know, the townspeople see that Pete fled Squawk Valley with what he feels is his grand prize (the oatmeal turkey sculpture) and the townspeople have been outsmarted and once again are left turkey-less. The story ends with Pete on the beach in Florida devouring his oatmeal turkey with all the other plump and perky turkeys who fled South for the winter. Low and behold the townspeople of Squawk Valley are left with munching on wheat for Thanksgiving. 

In conclusion I am a bit disappointed at the lack of concrete story development, as I feel the plot was good but the resolution was lacking depth and abrupt. Why did the townspeople have to resolve only to wheat? Why not fish or ham or beef? Why give up after all that effort? I also feel deceived with the plot because as stated in the beginning of this review I made the assumption that the story was something different. All in all, it is a short and simple children’s book with delightful illustrations, but not my top pick for a Thanksgiving children’s book. (2/5 stars – it was okay)

Good Night New Jersey by Dennis Clark

IMG_20171113_125837_434Whether you’re a New Jersey native or a new resident to New Jersey, this is the perfect good-night story to read to your little ones. The 20 page board book (preschoolers and above) covers all major/recognizable locations throughout New Jersey allowing your little ones to get a sense of location and history. This picture book provides kids with the feeling that not just them but their whole state is now going to sleep. From the Jersey Shore, to George Washington and the Delaware River, to Princeton and all the way to the Palisades, all of Jersey so now falling fast asleep. Short and sweet, I recommend this picture book to any parent/guardian in New Jersey looking for a good bedtime story. (4/5 stars – Really Liked It)

There Was An Old Mummy Who Swallowed A Spider By Jennifer Ward

IMG_20171111_172307_645There Was An Old Mummy Who Swallowed a Spider by Jennifer Ward is an illustrated Halloween children’s book filled with silly rhythmic and funny words perfect for capturing any young child’s attention. In short, a mummy wakes up from his sleep and sees a spider and decides to swallow it. Throughout the story he continues to swallow an eclectic range of items and living organisms making any child squirm and squeal with skepticism and delight. With phrases like “He swallowed the ghost to scare the witch….” and “He swallowed the rate to chase the spider” the reader wonders what on Earth the mummy will swallow next. Will it be another strange item or will it perhaps be you? Definitely worth picking up for any young reader who enjoys Halloween and being silly.  (4/5 stars – really liked it). 

Room On The Broom by Julia Donaldson

IMG_20171025_095500_998A delightfully illustrated children’s book perfect for Halloween time. It’s a simple, short and entertaining rhythmic story about a witch who shares her broom with a dog, a cat, a frog and a bird. As they fly through a storm the witch’s broom breaks! As they fall to the ground the witch looks for her new friends and suddenly a dragon appears! Oh no! Left all alone the witch is in danger for surely the dragon will eat her. Suddenly a new monster covered in mud appears and rescues the witch from the evil dragon. In the end the witch, the dog, the cat, the frog and the bird fly away on the witch’s new and improved broom soaring over the land high in the sky. With the simple teachings of being kind to others and they’ll be kind to you, this is a funny and cute story to read to little ones this Halloween season. Happy Halloween and Happy Reading! (4 stars)

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce

TIMG_20170909_213716_986he Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce is a wonderful children’s book! Such a great story about a man who wrote, but lost his words & found his inspiration amongst a library reading other genres of books. He showed love & devotion towards the books & in the end they showed him the same love & devotion back. Towards the end he wrote his own story & left his words behind in the library for another book lover or lover of words to devour. Gorgeous illustrations & a terrific children’s book to inspire/teach the love and appreciation of books to youth. A must have in any children’s library or in any classroom.