Spike and Spanish

June 19, 2015 at 4:22 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

SPIKE front coverTitle: Spike, The Mixed-Up Monster

Author: Susan Hood

Illustrator: Melissa Sweet

Genre: Picture Book

Ay, caramba!, we just read this before bed this evening and we love it! First off, I’m a sucker for an axolotl.  I discovered them about two years ago when an avid reddit surfer sent me some images they had found. Strange but cute creatures are kind of our thing, and an axolotl definitely fits the bill.

I remember thinking there should be a picture book about them.  I love kids picture books featuring the odd ducks of the planet and offer educational value at the end of the story.  I have tons of them lined up in my head that I haven’t written yet.  My favorite thing about Hood’s book is that she incorporates Spanish words through out the story and thesusan-hood-spikepic last few pages include research about the creatures who made an appearance.  There’s so much educational value to this book and I can’t wait to own a copy. (We read from a library book.)

Referred to as a water-monster by the Aztecs, I was introduced to these tiny creatures as Mexican Walking Fish.  Either way, they are super cute, come in all different colors, and if ever there was an animal worthy of a picture book it would be this one.

I absolutely adore Melissa Sweet’s illustrations.  They are bright and spunky and the kiddo was riveted by each and every page.  Sweet captured the essence of the story with care and finesse and I look forward to seeing more of her illustrations on picture books in the future.


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Goodnight Goon

January 27, 2015 at 1:28 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

*A Weekly Low Down on Kids Books*

P1000703Title: Goodnight Goon

Author: Michael Rex

Every parent I know can recite or nearly recite Goodnight Moon. It’s a timeless favorite. I’m not sure why, kiddo loves it, but it has never really moved me personally.

“In the great green room, there was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of a cat jumping over the moon…”
― Margaret Wise Brown, Goodnight Moon

It’s probably the cadence, the familiarity, the simplicity.  It’s a lot of things.  For kiddo, it’s also because she has the hallmark version that her out of state grandparents was able to record into… so she can flip through the pages and hear the story at her own leisure and will, the most exciting thing for a kid when they can’t read yet.

But to be fair, it’s boring.  It’s appropriately sleepy, but I already have a hard enough time staying awake while I read bedtime stories.

I saw Goodnight Goon and took a risk.  She loves Goodnight Moon, but she’s also wonderfully weird and gets very excited about monsters.  I know my child, though, and sometimes she can be a bit of a purist.  I wondered if a parody would be up her alley if it was just up mine.

In a cold gray tomb
There was a gravestone
And a black lagoon
And a picture of –
Martians taking over the moon

She laughed her butt off!  She loved every page.  Especially the end where the monster is cast under the bed for the night, “Goodnight Monsters Everywhere.”

“He’s under the bed!” she laughs.

“Maybe other kids will like it,” she says.

“Why?” I ask.

“Because they’re little. And the monsters. I like the bat.  That’s the kind of monster I like.”  Of course, she watches me type the review and also insists that I “put an L in it.”


goodnight goon

I should have known all would be well.  After all, this is a kiddo that adored the The Swamps of Sleethe.

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Little Monster Friends Part Two

January 30, 2013 at 9:57 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Awhile back I did a Weekly Low Down on Kids Books that I titled Little Monster Friends.  It was about Eleanor Taylor’s picture book My Friend the Monster. Then the other night I was recommending one of my kiddo’s favorite books to a friend who has a little girl kiddo’s age and when I went to link to my review of it, I discovered there was none. Or, I just can’t find it. So it’s about time I tell you (or remind you) of my little toddler’s new favorite monster book. It’s one I’ve enjoyed reading to her for quite sometime, but has recently become the most exciting thing in the world to her… at least a few times a day when something else isn’t more exciting. You know two year olds – maybe.

So here’s to our newest little monster friends…

jumpyjackandgoogilyTitle: Jumpy Jack and Googily

Author: Meg Rosoff

Illustrator:  Sophie Blackall

Jumpy Jack is a delightfully nervous little snail who is terrified of pretty much everything, completely convinced there is a monster lurking around every corner.  Googily is his adorably huge friend who checks for monsters everywhere they go, just to be safe.  The catch? The terrifying monsters of Jumpy Jack’s imagination are always exact descriptions of his best friend and neither one of them know it.

This is a fantastic little picture book about imagination and friendship.  The illustrations are fantastic and the story and the images both give the kiddo and I the giggles before bed at night.

Now that kiddo is chattering up a storm all the time, intelligibly, she does the cutest things and it’s even clearer than before what things resonate with her.  Now she jumps around the house in the day time saying, “No monsters here,” and waggles her finger at me.  Sometimes she brings me a sock and waves it at me and mimics the last page “Boo! Said the sock!”

Click the front cover to hear a little girl named Sarah on youtube read the book, check out all the pages.  Then come back and click the title link to amazon.  Just like Sarah says herself, if you don’t already own the book you’re gonna wish you did.

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Little Monster Friends

February 3, 2012 at 4:21 am (Events, Reviews) (, , , , , , , )

Title: My Friend the Monster

Author: Eleanor Taylor

Publisher:BloomsburyChildren’s Book

Genre: Children’s Picture Books

February 1st was the “practice run” and kick off for a weekly gathering at Half Price Books in Humble, a gathering of infants to six year olds for story time.  An informal endeavor, I chose a handful of books to read off the cuff and my niece, age eleven, alternated reading aloud with me from her own selections.  We tried to pick a little bit of something for everyone, as we had twelve kids there of all ages, both boys and girls.  We read from puppet board books, several picture books, a few shiny foil books – but the greatest success was My Friend the Monster by Eleanor Taylor.

My Friend the Monster is the story of a little boy (fox, actually) who moves to a new house and discovers a monster living under his bed.  The monster, a large one eyed fuzzy creature is a big old scaredy-cat, and it’s up to Louis the child fox to teach him to be brave and confident.

The pictures are detailed and remind me of something from Highlights for Kids magazine (ie: Richard Scarry).  Although the kids were well behaved and sat for all the stories, this one in particular had them leaning in to see the pictures, touching my knee to get a closer look.  The story kept them completely riveted and entertained, with only one interruption from a small girl who asked, “Why does the Monster only have one eye?” To which I replied, “Because he’s a monster with one eye.  I’m sorry I don’t have a better explanation than that.”  She just nodded her head and we continued on with the adventure of Louis and his Monster.

I had flipped through this particular book the day before when I visited the store to get a feel for which books I might choose and make sure my daughter, only 15 months, would be familiar enough to follow directions the next day.  Ironically, the page I thought would give me the most trouble while reading to the kiddos was the page that was the biggest success for the entire reading.  It was the page where Louis takes Monster to the park for the first time and shows everyone the way… the sentences dance in circles around various images of Louis and his monster along the path.  I thought the children would get lost, not being able to see the pictures well enough; they might start to fidget or look away and forget what was happening in the story.  Instead, this was the moment I found them leaning in the most, nearly crawling into the rocking chair with me to see Monster and Louis on their merry adventure.

Of course, this convinced me that I had to have this book for Ayla, so as soon as story time was over, I bought a copy.  If you’re a book toting mom, I highly recommend heading to the Half Price Books nearest you and grabbing up a copy if you can get your hands on it!

Also, if you’re in the Woodlands/Humble/Atascocita/Kingwood area and you have small children during the day, feel free to come to the Humble Half Price Books at 10:30 am on Wednesdays.  I’ll be reading a few books every week as long as we can keep the children sitting (mostly) on their bottoms with bookstore level voices.  I hope to make many new, little friends, and hope that all our Monsters can be as pleasant as Louis’.

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