Posted in Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-Fiction, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Tween Reads, Uncategorized

Last-second stocking stuffers!

I know, the clock is ticking down, and you need stocking stuffers. I’ve got stocking stuffers. Read on.

Show-How Guides: Friendship Bracelets, by Keith Zoo, (Aug. 2020, Odd Dot Books), $5.99, ISBN: 9781250249968

Ages 6-11

Remember friendship bracelets? Wow, I made so many of those back in the ’80s. Well, they’re back! Odd Dot’s Show How Guides are a series of quick and easy, step-by-step books that walk readers through the steps in making different crafts, like hair braiding, making slime and sand, hand-lettering, and making paper airplanes. Odd Dot was kind enough to send me a copy of Friendship Bracelets, which I loved. Two-color illustrations include friendly shapes that talk to the readers; materials needed for each craft are up front, as is a short table of contents. These guides are all about the essentials: the basics needed to get started on your journey. You can always look for more complex stuff when you’re ready to move on. These books are no pressure. There are 10 types of friendship bracelets included here: macramé, zipper, twist, wrap, butterfly, box, fishtail, diagonal, chevron, and braid, and each bracelet has an illustrated, numbered, step-by-step series to complete the bracelet. It’s a great gift idea, especially if you want to pick up some materials (embroidery floss, a tape measure, pair of scissors, and a binder clip or tape) to put together a little starter kit.

Perfect stocking stuffer, and for me? Perfect make and take craft idea to put together for my library kids. Enjoy!

 

 

Brain Candy 2: Seriously Sweet Facts to Satisfy Your Curiosity, by National Geographic Kids, (Oct. 2020, National Geographic Kids), $8.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3886-1

Ages 7-12

More facts, more photos, more fun! Brain Candy 2 is the second Brain Candy book from NatGeo Kids. It’s digest-sized, fits nicely into schoolbags and Mom’s purse, and is chock-full of the coolest facts about just about everything and anything. Misleading animals names, sneaky animal predators, and wacky whale behaviors are just a few of the facts readers will find in here. Facts go from the giggle-worthy: birds, octopuses, and sloths don’t pass gas – to the spooky: visitors to a German castle report hearing the armor of the knights who once protected it. NatGeo always maintains a respectful sense of conservation and preservation, too, including facts about how much plastic has been pulled from our planet’s waters (hint: A LOT). Always informative, always fun, these digest-sized books are great gift ideas, are worth their weight in gold for my circulation, and are almost impossible to sneak out of my Kiddo’s room so I can review them.

Bundle this with some actual holiday sweets and call it a stocking stuffer. Ta-Da!

 

 

Nerdlet (A Little Book of Nerdy Stuff): Animals, by T.J. Resler, (Sept. 2020, National Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-38724

Ages 8-12

I’m going to take a moment to bask in the fact that being called a Nerd is having its moment. Okay, I’m done. NatGeo Kids’s Nerdlet is a little book made for “animal nerds”: kids who can’t get enough of reading cool facts about animals. Digest-sized like Brain Candy and Brain Candy 2, Nerdlet has all of the NatGeo-famous gorgeous color photos, with slightly denser text for a more middle-grader reader. Fun Facts and Nerd Alerts – callout boxes with bizarre and brainy facts – run throughout. Nerds of Note introduce readers to animal researchers and professionals. Discover an island of cats on Taiwan, follow a flow chart to discover what type of fox you’d be, and learn to tell the different types of spotted cats apart. Nerdlet has it all and then some. Perfect for animal fans! Buy a little plush or some animal toys (Kiddo has so many of those animal tubes laying around his room) and you’ve saved Christmas.

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

I Got You a Present is the best gift of all!

I Got You a Present!, by Mike Erskine-Kellie and Susan McLennan/Illustrated by Cale Atkinson, (Apr. 2020, Kids Can Press), $16.99, ISBN: 978-1525300097

Ages 4-7

It’s your birthday, and your buddy Duck got you a present! Well… kind of. He had the best of intentions; he wanted to get you something you’d really love. But do you know how hard it is to knit socks? Or carry a 10-scoop ice cream cone? Magic kits disappear, and since you don’t know how to drive yet, a race car was out of the question… poor Duck! What can he get his best friend? Maybe… something includes all these wonderful ideas, in one place? A story to remind you of what great friends you are? I Got You a Present! is a gleefully funny story about going into something with the best of intentions, and not quite having things go right. Adults and kids alike can relate as Duck comes up with wackier, funnier ideas to get that showstopper gift… and, of course, there’s a sneak peek at next year’s gift.

Colorful artwork features cheery animal friends and wacky situations that make this a good birthday readaloud choice (substitute other gift-giving events and get creative), and remind listeners that sometimes, just having a great friend to make memories with is the best present. Honest! (Or you could ask readers what they’d like to give their best friends. Let them get as outrageous as possible.)

Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Friendship has been around since the beginning: Cavekid Birthday

Cavekid Birthday, by Cathy Breisacher/Illustrated by Roland Garrigue, (March 2019, Charlesbridge), $16.99, ISBN: 9781580898768

Ages 4-8

Caveboy and Cavegirl are best friends, born on the same day in side by side caves. Caveboy loves rocks, while Cavegirl enjoys working with tools and painting on cave walls. One birthday, each wants to give the other a gift, but what to get? They each visit Caveman’s Collectibles, separately, and find the perfect gifts. Caveboy trades his rock collection to get a box for Cavegirl to put her tools and paintbrushes in; Cavegirl trades her tools and paintbrushes to get a box for Caveboy to store his rock collection. When they exchange gifts, they figure out ways to put their new gifts – and existing talents – to work.

An updated, kids’ version of O’Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, Cavekid Birthday is a story about friendship, and it’s a story about creative thinking. Caveboy and Cavegirl’s friendship means so much to the other that they’re willing to trade their prized possessions away to get each other the perfect gift – and once they have those perfect gifts, they put them to creative use. But as they start to miss their rock and tool collections, they use their creative talents in another way in order to barter and get them back. Cavekid Birthday has a message about resourcefulness that encourages kids to think outside… well, the box.

The cartoon artwork is mostly earth-toned, with tonal greens and browns, and bright yellows and oranges that perk up the landscape. The characters are expressive and cute, and will keep readers interested. The storytelling leaves room for discussion throughout; ask the kids what they predict will happen when each Cavekid goes to the store, and what will happen when they unwrap each other’s gifts. A nice add to storytime collections.

Posted in Preschool Reads

Book Review: Twelve Bots of Christmas by Nathan Hale (Walker Books for Young Readers, 2010)

Twelve Bots of ChristmasRecommended for ages 3-7

This robot variation of The Twelve Days of Christmas, complete with Robo-Santa, electronics, and droids, has the potential for an interactive read-aloud with audiences familiar with the Christmas classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”.  In this retelling, Robo-Santa gifts twelve days of cyber gear, from a cartridge in a gear tree, to five BOT-TO-RIES, to twelve Beat Bots thumping. The electronic gifts will be fun for a younger generation for whom computers, tablets and iPhones are common household items, and the computer-generated illustrations manage to avoid looking flat, as tends to be the case with this type of art, thanks to subtle shading that offers depth of image. The left hand page of each spread features the text, Robo-Santa, and the growing group of gifts joining him. The right page features a full-bleed image of the day’s gift. Robo-Santa and his bots have fun and often exaggerated expressions, and the subtle details contained in the pictures reward careful viewers with fun details, including little gears that take the place of stars in a night sky, and a moon that looks similar to the Death Star from the Star Wars movies. The font is a plain black font that resembles old computer print. The endpapers offer a crush of presents, preparing readers for a fun holiday read.

This would be a fun addition to a holiday read-aloud or a robot read-aloud that takes place during the holiday season. The tune of the classic song is repetitive enough that singing along should be encouraged; the repetition of the gifts given will make the song easier to pick up as the story progresses. Incorporating a flannel board with robot images could make the read-aloud even more fun for younger audiences, who can also be encouraged to hold up the number of fingers that denotes each day in the song. Oriental Trading offers robot rubber ducks or robot tattoos in bulk that could be a fun gift from Robo-Santa to attendees at the end of the read-aloud, along with a robot hand stamp.