Archive for October 30, 2015

Claude in the Spotlight

Written and Illustrated by Alex T. Smith

Claude and Sir Bobblysock are at it again. As soon as Mr. and Mrs. Shinyshoes leave for the day, the pals are off in search of adventure. This time, they wander into a kids’ dance class. When a fly goes up Claude’s stylish red sweater, his gyrations are the hit of the class. Claude and Sir Bobblysock then follow the kids to a theater, where they are all to participate in a variety show. There, of course, Claude saves the day. A bad man tries to scare everyone away by pretending to be a ghost, so he can have the prize. But Claude recognizes his fakery. An operatic lady Viking, whose talent is breaking glass with her voice, causes a large chandelier to nearly fall on the show’s sponsor. Claude and the bad man catch the chandelier in time. So Claude and Sir Bobblysock take home boxes of cakes, the prize. Mr. and Mrs. Shinyshoes are very confused by the cakes.

Much of the story is told through the amusing illustrations, especially the contributions of Sir Bobblysock.

There is a lot to hold the attention of second graders. This would also make a great read aloud, with kids helping to point out the many illustration details.

Buy on Amazon

  • Claude in the SpotlightTitle: Claude in the Spotlight
  • Author/Illustrator: Alex T. Smith
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 96 pages
  • Grade Level: 1 to 4
  • Genre: Humor
  • ISBN: 978-156145-895-0


Max and Marla

Written and Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

True Olympians never give up. Proven here by two good friends who prepare for everything in the sport of sledding, well almost, everything that could go wrong. Humorous illustrations fill in the story where the words leave off and will have children dissolved in giggles.

Max and his pet owl are very persistent. Each new failure provides a new opportunity to prepare in a different way. The message to keep on trying will stick with readers and listeners.

While this book is suggested for readers from kindergarten through second grade, there are many words children will struggle to sound out. Librarians, teachers and parents will do best to read this book aloud the first time or two. It is a fantastic new winter book and will be a great addition to any collection. The look at a particular season qualifies this as a book to fulfill core curriculum standards in science, as well as for many literacy skills.

Read and enjoy. Then go sledding with a new outlook.

Buy on Amazon

  • Max and MarlaTitle: Max and Marla
  • Author/Illustrator: Alexandra Boiger
  • Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover/32pgs
  • ISBN: 978-0-399-17504-6
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade Level: K to 2

Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed

Written by Lesléa Newman
Illustrated by Amy June Bates

Ketzel was just a kitten when the man, Moshe, found her cold and lonely on the street. They became great friends as Moshe worked on his musical compositions. Moshe was stumped after he received notice of the Paris New Music Review contest to highlight short compositions – less than a minute. As Moshe pondered the music in his head, Ketzel walked across the piano keyboard and picked out a beautiful tune. Moshe wrote down what he heard. It took twenty-one seconds to play. He sent it to the contest organizers. Ketzel didn’t win, but her tune got a certificate of special mention and was played at a concert, which Ketzel attended with Moshe. Her presence was revealed when she responded to her name at the introduction of the piece. Ketzel also got a royalty check for the composition, enough to buy several cans of cat food.

The illustrator has captured the whimsy of this great story.

Based on a true story, this lovely book is easily read independently by second graders looking to strengthen literacy skills. It’s a great reminder that talent can come in small packages. That talent only needs to be recognized.

Buy on Amazon

  • KetzelTitle: Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed
  • Author: Lesléa Newman
  • Illustrator: Amy June Bates
  • Published: Candlewick, 2015
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 3
  • Genre: History, Music
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-6555-5
  • Extras: Author’s Note

My Leaf Book

Written and Illustrated by Monica Wellington

Leaves change color and fall breezily to the ground every year. Children love to catch them, collect them and figure them out.

Monica Wellington’s new book helps them identify leaves and put them in a book of their own making. While this book is fiction because the little girl is not real, Wellington has included a great deal of authentic science. Her depiction of various leaf types is well done and the leaves are matched with the names of the trees from which they come.

Grade one, grade two, and even grade three readers will be able to use the book for basic leaf identification. However, the scientific notes placed in text boxes on the pages illustrating true leaves are done in tiny print that will require adult help for some children to read and decipher.

Librarians and teachers can use this book successfully as a read aloud for pre-school through first grades. While the book meets core curriculum standards for literacy in the areas of picture clues, comparing and contrasting, separating fact from fiction, it also fulfills standards for natural science in the elementary grades. This book deserves a second look as first glance will sell it short of its educational value.

Buy on Amazon

  • My Leaf BookTitle: My Leaf Book
  • Author/Illustrator: Monica Wellington
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers/ Penguin, 2015
  • Reviewer: Elizabeth Swartz
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • ISBN: 978-0-8037-4141-6
  • Genre: Picture Book
  • Grade level: PreK to 3
  • Extras: End pages contain a list of leaf projects for readers to do