Posted in Middle Grade, Non-fiction, picture books, Preschool Reads

Books for Pet Lovers!

Ollie and Augustus, by Gabriel Evans, (May 2020, Candlewick Press), $16.99, ISBN: 9781536209679

Ages 3-5

Ollie and Augustus are the best of friends: Ollie is a slight young boy, and Augustus is his large dog. The two friends did most things together; as most best friends do, they even got on each other’s nerves – but quickly got over it. When Ollie is about to start school, he worries: who will be there to keep Augustus company? OIlie tries to find a friend to occupy Augustus’s time until Ollie gets home, but the playdates he sets up with local dogs just don’t work out. They don’t share Augustus’s interests and he certainly doesn’t share theirs. Ollie needn’t worry, though: Augustus is perfectly capable of keeping himself busy until Ollie gets home.

An adorable story of friendship and that comfortable, “just right” feeling, Ollie and Augustus also eases back-to-school worries by assuring kids that comfort and love will be waiting at home for them. Assure your kiddos that pets will be fine; teddy bears, dolls, and other comfort objects that they may transfer worry to will be okay, and waiting for them when they get home after an exciting new day at school. Watercolor, gouache, and pencil artwork with soft colors gives a gentle feel to the story, and the brief prose moves about the pages, narrating each picture, keeping the reader’s interest moving throughout the story. Endpapers are set up like a photo album, capturing moments in Ollie’s and Augustus’s life together from the early moments forward, giving a sense of investment and time in the relationship. A sweet back to school or pet storytime choice.


My Pet (Not Yours) (Lento & Fox #2), by Ben Sanders, (Jan. 2020, Kane Miller), $14.99, ISBN: 978-1684640850

Ages 3-6

The hilarious follow-up to My Book (Not Yours) is here! Lento the Sloth and Fox are back to delight readers with their latest romp. Lento has found a new pet! It’s a pink long-eared creature who really doesn’t look thrilled to be wearing the collar we assume Lento has adorned it with. But wait! Fox steps in and claims that Mr. Fluffington – Lento’s name for his new pet – should actually be HIS pet, because he is “an expert pet handler”. Fox dubs the new pet Frankensausage, which doesn’t seem to cheer it up any more than Lento did. The two go back and forth, hilariously trying to outdo the other and win Mr. Fluffington-Frankensausage’s affections. The pink friend’s disapproving face and posture remains constant throughout the shenanigans, making events even funnier. As the two frenemies take turns dressing their new pet up, tossing it about as they swear they’re playing with him, and bickering over who he’s better suited for, the pink guy can’t take it anymore. Sight gags, back and forth snarking, and bright, bold colors make this another home run for Lento and Fox, and another great addition to your storytimes. Put on different voices, grab a plush friend to stand in for Mr. Fluffington/Frankensausage, and have at it. Endpapers are there for more laughs as the stoic visage of Fluffington-sausage takes on different emotions, never-changing.


Pet That Dog! A Handbook for Making Four-Legged Friends, by Gideon Kidd & Rachel Braunigan, (Oct. 2020, Quirk Books), $14.99, ISBN:  978-1683692294

Ages 8-12

Eleven-year-old Gideon Kidd (now 12) loves dogs! He’s even got a website, IvePetThatDog, with pictures of Gideon and all the dogs he’s been petting since he was 8. Who better to write a book about befriending dogs, for kids? Pet That Dog! is part guide to caring for a pet dog, part guide to dogs, perfect for middle graders who love and may be getting a pupper of their own. Chapters include How to Pet That Dog, which shows kids the best way to approach a dog for pets (and how to walk away if the dog isn’t up for it); things to talk to dog people about in order to learn more about dogs, and fun personality quizzes and ideas for naming your dog. There’s even a Dog Tracker so kids can start journaling their own dog-petting adventures. Fun facts, colorful illustrations, and a conversational tone make this a great book for dog aficionados. Books, movies, and online sources provide more information for kids who want to learn more. My Kiddo has absconded with my copy of this book, and, while we haven’t been able to approach anyone to learn about their dogs lately, he’s definitely been putting it to use with our own pup.

Posted in Non-Fiction, Teen

The Ultimate Survival Guide to Being a Girl – it ain’t easy out there

The Ultimate Survival Guide to Being a Girl, by Christina De Witte, with Chrostin, (Aug. 2018, Running Press), $14.99, ISBN: 978-0-7624-9043-1

Ages 13+

Being a teen is tough these days! Social media, body image, school, work… teens are under pressure. Webcomic author and illustrator, Christina De Witte, whose comic Chrostin follows the amusing day-to-day adventures of a young milennial, is here to help with advice on tattoos, sex and relationships, periods, mental and physical health, and more. Black and white illustrations starring Chrostin flow throughout the book.

The book may first present as a guide to puberty for tweens, but this is all for teen girls. Read Chrostin and you’ll quickly see that this is a comic for millennials, not up-and-coming kids. The author is only 20, putting her at a good age to offer advice; the book’s conversational tone and laid back language make this an easy read that readers can pick up at any point. The book is divided into 10 chapters, on issues including Internet safety, diversity, society, love, food, and fashion. She emphasizes healthy eating and endorses a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, including some quick and tasty recipes that come together cheaply and quickly; she also shares beauty and fashion hacks for a student’s salary.

The Ultimate Survival Guide to Being a Girl is a good reference to have on your shelves for teens. Want to learn a little more about Chrostin? BuzzFeed has a fun Chrostin article from 2016, and you can follow her on Instagram.


Posted in Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate, Middle Grade

Batman’s Backstory: Gotham’s Guardian

batmanBatman: Gotham City’s Guardian, by Matthew Manning/Illustrated by Steven Gordon (Jan. 2016, Scholastic), $5.99, ISBN: 9780545868167

Recommended for ages 7-10

What would a series of DC Backstories be without the Dark Knight? Scholastic’s Batman: Gotham City’s Guardian gives readers a quick history of Batman, his friends and foes, and origin.

Gotham City’s Guardian follows the style set by the previous Backstories: we have a foreword by Batman, leading into his origin story; a roll call of friends, foes, and family, including a breakdown of the four sidekicks who have worn the Robin mask; a chronology of the characters’ origins; a short biography in chapters; timelines; glossaries; fast facts, and indexes.

Readers learn how small-time mugger Joe Chill created an icon during a robbery gone wrong in Gotham’s infamous Crime Alley; how a young Bruce Wayne traveled the world, learning from experts in martial arts, investigation, even acting, so he could gain the skills he needed to avenge his parents; how he embraced the image of the bat, and how he eschews firearms because of the devastation they brought to his life at such a young age. The guide is comprehensive, covering such major events as Batman’s back being broken at the hands of supervillain Bane and the Joker’s murder of Jason Todd’s Robin. Heavily illustrated, we also have fun touches like Bruce Wayne’s own drawings, newspaper clippings, and schematics for such gadgets as Batman’s utility belt and several important vehicles.

Get the full set in time for the movie (only 3 weeks away now!) and get your kidlings caught up on the real origin stories for Bats, Supes, and Wondy!

Posted in Guide, Humor, Tween Reads

The Young Person’s Guide to Grown-Ups, by Monte Montgomery, illustrated by Patricia Storms (Bloomsbury, 2012)

Recommended for ages 9-12
Being a kid is tough. What if there were some sort of guide to figuring out the grown-ups in their lives? Monte Montgomery and Patricia Storms have created a field guide to the average grown-up to help children navigate these strange people who seem to hold so much sway over them.
The book examines grown-ups as seen through a child’s eyes and includes basic similarities and differences between grown-ups and kids: adults, for instance, have stopped growing taller and started growing wider, but have never stopped feeling like the kid they used to be, providing the reader with an entry point with which to relate.
Set up like a Grown-Ups for Dummies book, complete with callout Tactics boxes spotlighting tools for dealing with different situations and line drawings throughout, Young Person’s Guide takes kids through everything they need to know about grown-ups at home, at school, and “in the wild”. Descriptions of various adults in each of these settings and an FAQ flesh out each section. Montgomery imparts Three Universal Truths that kids and adults alike should know and includes an in-depth, illustrated guide to various classes of adults, like atheletes, dentists, police officers and millionaires (complete with Donald Trump-like caricature).
Young Person’s Guide is a fun book that will help younger children feel like they have some handle on why grown-ups say and do the things they do, while helping them understand that adults and kids have much more in common than they may think. It is a fun book that can start conversations both at home and in the classroom.
Patricia Storms’ webpage are as much fun as her illustrations. Infused with bright graphics and personal information, the reader can see that the illustrator takes the message of Young Person’s Guide to heart and keep in touch with the kid that used to look back from the mirror.