Category: Reading

Picture Book Review: Fall Ball

Picture Book Review: Fall Ball

FALL BALL
Author: Peter McCarty
Illustrator: Peter McCarty
ISBN: 9780805092530
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company, LLC
Age Range: 4-8
Grade Level: Preschool – 3

Amazon Synopsis

In “Fall Ball” Bobby and his friends wait all day for school to end and for their chance to play outdoors in the fall weather. Flying leaves, swirling colors, and crisp air make the perfect setting for a game of football with Sparky the dog.

The kids are surprised by how quickly it gets dark, and even more surprised when it begins to snow. But there’s no need to worry―the chilly nights ahead will mean watching football on the couch with family, tucked under a cozy blanket.

My Review of Fall Ball

The Illustrations

Initially, the illustrations on the cover of Fall Ball first called me to this book, with the color scheme being the deciding factor. The dominant sepia theme sprinkled with subdued reds, blues and grayish tones create a crisp autumnesque environment. Then the kids faces took hold of me. The caricatures make for a delightful group of kids like none I’ve ever seen before. With simple facial features and hair that seems to stand as if permanently blown by the wind, these kids often made me laugh out loud. Happy, surprised, excited – the faces remain the same and yet you somehow just know what they are thinking.

The Story

As Fall Ball unfolds, young listeners and early readers experience the joys of getting out of school and going home to play with friends before it gets too dark outside.  This reminded me of a simpler time, when kids had a bit more freedom to roam around the neighborhood without worry.  I’m not sure today’s kids will “get” that part, but I enjoyed the recall. When a feisty dog steals the football and heads towards a great pile of leaves, you can imagine and almost hear the kids squeals as they chase after their coveted ball and the laughs when everyone lands in the leaves.

Overall, Fall Ball is a charming story with captivating illustrations that will create a lot of excitement for a young audience.

About the Author

PETER MCCARTY is the author and illustrator of many books for children, including Fabian Escapes, Moon Plane, and T Is for Terrible, as well as Hondo & Fabian, a Caldecott Honor Book. He lives with his family in upstate New York.

Review Copy

I obtained a copy of this book to review from my local library.

Picture Book Review: Lily’s Cat Mask

Picture Book Review: Lily’s Cat Mask

Lily's Cat Mask book cover

LILY’S CAT MASK
Author: Julie Fortenberry
Illustrator: Julie Fortenberry
ISBN: 9780425287996
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Age Range: 4-6 years
Grade Level: Preschool – 1

Amazon Synopsis: Armed with a vivid imagination and her trusty cat mask, Lily can take on anything–even a new school…But when her teacher tells her no masks allowed in class, Lily worries, can she make friends without it? Anyone who has been daunted by a new experience, or struggled to put on a good face, will relate to Lily. Whimsical art brings Lily, her father, and her new classmates to life, with text that begs to be read aloud. Perfect for Father’s Day, back to school, and even Halloween–Lily and her grinning cat mask are sure to make you smile back.

My Thoughts

Lily’s Cat Mask is perfect for adults and kids alike, as just about everyone can relate to having some fear and anxiety around experiencing something new. First off, I absolutely adored the illustrations. They are colorful and simple with just the right amount of detail to appeal to young readers. The body language and facial expressions of Lily (when she’s not wearing the mask) really tell the readers how she is feeling. For instance, in the beginning it’s painfully obvious she does NOT want to go shopping.

The author doesn’t use the mask as a crutch for Lily but as a way to ease into new situations. She also uses it as a way to celebrate or demonstrate Lily’s excitement or happiness.  She uses it to both hide and stand out. How fun to have a mask on when she wants to be the center of attention.  Don’t we all at some point? On the other side of the spectrum, I can relate to and feel some of the inner turmoil Lily feels when she uses her mask as a safety blanket of sorts.

Does Lily’s Cat Mask teach kids how to overcome their anxieties? Perhaps overcome is the wrong word. I do think it helps allay some of the anxiety around the unknown, as well as new experiences, such as the first day of school and making new friends.

Overall, the story is well-written, and the pictures are delightful. 

Younger kids will like the colorful masks and costume party and will enjoy having the book read to them – but the target audience is for those just starting school. 

About the Author

Julie Fortenberry is the author and illustrator of LILY’S CAT MASK. She has illustrated several picture books, including “Sadie’s Sukkah Breakfast” by Jamie Korngold and “Pirate Boy” by Eve Bunting (2012 Children’s Choice book). Julie lives in Philadelphia, PA. To see more of Julie’s work visit www.juliefortenberry.com.

Note: I obtained a copy of this book to review from my local library.

Book Review: “What Some Would Call Lies”

Book Review: “What Some Would Call Lies”

What Some Would Call Lies
by Rob Davidson
Five Oaks Press (2018)
ISBN 9781944355470
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (2/19)
This article was first published on ReaderViews.Com.

“What Some Would Call Lies” by Rob Davidson is a fascinating collection of two novellas that delve into memory versus lies and how our lenses change to accommodate and mold our unconscious desires into creative, new “realities.”

Shoplifting, or How Dilectical Materialism Can Change Your Life

I knew this would be fun as soon as I read the opening paragraph of the first story. In ‘Shoplifting, or How Dialectical Materialism Can Change Your Life,’ Monica Evans, a young author and mother is shopping in the boys’ toddler section of a discount department store. Discouraged by the stereotypical choices she heads over to the girls’ section, finally settling on a floral print dress for her young son because after all, “…if you must live your life as a cliché you could at least choose lavender.” (p. 11).

Monica has issues that’s for sure – and that is the appeal of this novella. Readers experience the inner machinations of Monica’s mind as she eludes, deceives, denies, and challenges everything, from the mundane existence of a “happy homemaker” to indulging in shoplifting adventures in the name of research (for the autobiography of her dead sister, which she is writing in first person). I’m not kidding, as soon as I finished this story, I wanted to read it again to go a little deeper and make sure I hadn’t missed any delightful nuggets of wit or hidden context. 

Infidels

The second novella, “Infidels,” sets a completely different mood as a classic coming-of-age story.  As Jackie Rose reflects on growing up in Duluth, Minnesota during the 70s, readers are transported directly into his world. Jackie takes us through a strained relationship with his father, his unrealized feelings of a teacher who inspired thinking outside the norm, and the magical wonders of getting to second-base with a take-charge-kinda-girl in the sixth grade – just to name a few. 

His encounters will make you laugh, cry and everything in between as you sit there, incapable of doing anything other than reading straight through to the end. I loved this story.  Many of the characters sparked nostalgia for days seemingly lifetimes ago. Many times I wondered about some of my own childhood memories. Are they real? Imagined? A bit of both? And, how many of our perceived truths do we pass on to our children? This story really gets you thinking!

Conclusion

Both stories in this collection are extraordinary works that are a pure treat to read.  I highly recommend “What Some Would Call Lies” by Rob Davidson for a contemplative, eloquent reading experience certain to conjure up some of your own buried memories, real or imagined.

Review Copy

What Some Would Call Lies
Five Oaks Press (2018)
ISBN 9781944355470
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (2/19) 
Disclosure in Accordance with FTC Guidelines 16 CFR Part 255

Picture Book Review: “Meeow and the Blue Table”

Picture Book Review: “Meeow and the Blue Table”

Meeow and the Blue Table
Author: Sebastien Braun
ISBN: 9781907152153
Publisher: Boxer Books
Age Range: 2-4
Grade Level: Preschool
Amazon Synopsis: Meeow, the irresistibly clever cat created by bestselling author-illustrator Sebastien Braun, is back and ready to play! Like every young child, Meeow loves to make things. So what will he do with a blue table, a red blanket, and lots of wooden blocks? Why, turn them into an amazing castle, of course! Meeow’s friends Quack, Moo, Baa, and Woof are delighted–and young readers will be enchanted, too. What will Meeow inspire THEM to do?

My thoughts

Meeow and the Blue Table encourages creativity and imagination, as opposed to spending a rainy day in front of the television and/or on electronic tablets! With just a few arts and crafts materials, the friends are all set for a fun day – rain or not! The emphasis on free-play and using your imagination is so important at this young age.

This is a perfect book for toddlers who will enjoy the brightly colored illustrations, and the storyline encourages participation. I loved how every animal has his/her own part – duck makes a paper hat and a bow, Lamb makes a shield and a dragon, Dog makes a helmet and a sword, and Cow makes a hat and cape.  Using toys and comfort items from around the house (blankies and building blocks) the friends create their very own castle and kingdom.

Meeow and the Blue Table is a simple, creative tale that will inspire many playtime adventures for kids – adults will recall fond playtime memories of their own. Perfect left-brain motivation!

About the Author:

Sebastien Braun studied fine arts in Strasbourg, France. His first two books, I Love My Mummy and I Love My Daddy (Boxer Books, 2005), have been hugely successful all over the world. Since then, Sebastien has gone on to create many more books for children. He lives in Gloucestershire with his wife and two young sons.

Note: I obtained a copy of this book to review from my local library.

Next Gen Authors – Encouraging Kids to Write!

Next Gen Authors – Encouraging Kids to Write!

If I had to choose one thing I enjoy most about my day job, it would be reading the book reviews written by the kids reviewing our children’s books at Reader Views Kids. Kids see and absorb everything, noticing details using all of the five senses.  Things that, as adults we have learned to tune out or take for granted.  Seriously, who does ‘show versus tell’ better than kids? And what better way of encouraging kids to write than by starting with writing about books?

Fresh perspectives.

Not only that, but there is a fresh, honest tone in the writing – if there is something in a book that doesn’t appeal to a young reader, it will be voiced! I get a bit reflective when I read things written by children, first looking back to my own childhood and my love for books, and later, passing it down to my son.   When he was younger he loved to write poems and short stories and we even submitted some of his work, at least a couple articles of which were published. He’s now a high school English teacher, sharing his own wisdom and passion for words with the youth of today. Perhaps there’s even a Great American Novel in his future!

Today, with publishing being more accessible than ever, there are many kids developing their craft, becoming illustrators, authors and co-authors with their parents!  Does your child have curiosity for everything around them?  Does she have a love for books? Is he a natural story teller? Here are some things you can do right now to support and encourage that passion:

Support and encouragement

  • Read to your children every day! It not only cultivates a good habit, it enriches and stimulates young minds. While reading, be sure to let them ask questions, and also ask them what they think – about the story, characters, pictures, etc. This helps develop the ability to express opinions and with self-discovery as they learn more about their likes and dislikes.
  • Find book clubs, reading circles and publications, either online or locally, where kids can network to find other kids involved in reading and writing. The local library is a great place to start!
  • Look for publishing opportunities. There are plenty of companies that publish kid’s works, such as Highlights, StoneSoup and Cricket Magazine.  Be sure to also check out writing contests, online sources and even the school newsletter.

There are so many benefits to encouraging kids to write. And, writing and reading go hand in hand so keep your children reading, encourage their creativity, and submit some of their work. 

Note: This article was originally published on www.readerviews.com.

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