Sunday, May 20, 2018

Go to Sleep, Sheep illustrated by Sydney Hanson

“The silly sheep in Bedtime Barnn don’t want to go to bed! Will they ever tire out?”
Go to Sleep, Sheep is described as being a book to relax children who insist they are not sleepy. The pages describe in cute rhyming stanzas how the four young sheep delayed bedtime by asking for more playtime, snacks, eater, stories, and finally praying before snuggling into the hazy for the night. Most pages end with, “Go to sleep, Sheep!” Though two pages break from that trend to say “Ready for sleep, Sheep?” At the beginning and s”Sweet dreams, sheep” at the end.

The illustrations by Sydney Hanson are curr and fit the calming mood of the book. Other animals from the barn are also included in the illustrations, though not mentioned in the text. These include a curled up cat, anright eyed baby pig, a foal and it’s mother, a calf and it’s mother, and even a baby goat with it’s mother. The pokey hay are the only sharp lines in the book, everything is rounded without texture. Each of the sheep hVe a different accessory to make them unique: one with glasses, one with a scarf, one with a hair bow, and one that has one, matching the mother sheep.

The cutest moment is when a little sheep tells her mother that she loves her most of all.

This is a sturdy board book cut out in the shape of a barn.  The moon on the cover is glittery. This story is just the right length for bedtime.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Push: A Story of Friendship by Patrick Gray, illustrated by Justin Skeesuck and Matt Waresak

The Push: A Story of Friendship by Patrick Gray, illustrated by Justin Skeesuck and Matt Waresak is a picture book about two boys who bond over a love of baseball. One of the boys is in a wheelchair, but it doesn’t get in the way of their fun times.

John, the boy in the wheelchair, entertains his friend Marcus with jokes that are shared in the book. He also helps him with. Marcus make sure that John is always included and doesn’t have to sit out of activities. Marcus feeds, dresses, and pushes John in his wheelchair. 

“I push you in a wheelchair, but you push me to be a better person,” (26).

This book has a lot of text and small print, meant to be read to a child. I think this story would be great for a child in a wheelchair, children who go to school with someone in a wheelchair, or just any child as an example of how to be helpful and kind.

Even the illustrations live out the message of the book. On the last page there is a page called “The Story behind the Artwork,” which explains that author Patrick Gray and illustrator-friend Justin Skeesuck created this book together, not letting Justin’s inability to use his hands due to a progressive disease stop them. They found illustrator Matthew Waresak who ha a similar art style to Justin to outline the illustrations and then Justin used a voice responsive program to fill them in with watercolors. The end result is beautiful on the page, and in its message. 

I highly recommend this book for older children due to the large amount of text. Some pages have several paragraphs of around 4 sentences. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review.

Monday, April 30, 2018

I Love You, Little One by Bonnie Rickner Jensen, illustrated by Donna Chapman

I Love You, Little One by Bonnie Rickner Jensen, illustrated by Donna Chapman is a padded board book in the Really Woolly brand.

It features 19 spreads each with a title that begins with “I Love You” and then roughly describes a theme, such as “I Love You to Love Others” and “I Love You When You’re Playing.”  A short Bible verse is followed by a two-stanza (four lines each) poem and a small illustration. The facing page has a short two-line prayer and a large illustration.

I found the themes to not be very distinct—you couldn’t really match them to specific situations. Instead, you’d probably pick one at random to read to a child. The poems are just okay.

The illustrations are the highlight of this book. They are colorful pastels featuring the Really Woolly animals. My favorites show a little duck with a newspaper folded into a sailor hat and two mice wheeling a wagon of marshmellows to toast over a fire.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett

Where the Fire Falls: A Vintage National Parks Novel by Karen Barnett tells the story of painter Olivia Rutherford set in the 1920s. The story is part mystery part adventure part drama, but mostly romance.

Olivia is trying to hide a dark secret of her family’s past, but circumstances keep bringing the past to the present. In a chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity, Olivia is contacted to paint Yosemite for a magazine—all expenses paid. On top of that, het art dealer has found a wealthy couple to invest in her work, and they agree to go to the park with her to pose for her paintings.

Olivia becomes fast friends with the wife, but the husband is full of bad intentions. Park guide Clark becomes more than a friend after initially dismissing Olivia’s high-soceity persona. The real Olivia cares not for status or fame, but just to support her two younger sisters through school.

Paintings are destroyed, a body appears at the bottom of a crevice, and a kidnapping round out the intense second half of the book. Old friends and old enemies both appear in unexpected drama-filled ways.

The romance portion of the story is predictable and less interesting than the other parts of the book. Some of the drama was a little over the top and really stretched my suspension of disbelief. The burning question of this novel is never resolved.

I really enjoyed the descriptions of the park. I would’ve loved to see this book as full-color with showing the paintings. The way they were described made me really want to see it. I’d recommend this book as an adventure for fans of Yosemite.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

"Finding Gobi for Little Ones" by Dion Leonard, illustrated by Lisa Manuzak

Finding Gobi for Little Ones is a 24-page board book. The pages are flimsy board for older children, which the publisher suggests is appropriate for ages 4-8. Notably, this is the same range as the paper children's book version, Gobi: A Little Dog with a Big Heart.

All versions of this book (also including an adult version and a young reader's version Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog's Big Journey) tell the true story of an adult ultramarathon runner, Dion Leonard, running a race in the Gobi desert and encountering a little dog that runs along with him. He names the dog Gobi and she runs the entire race with him, facing challenges such as a dangerous river crossing. The theme throughout is repeated that they will be forever friends.

This version of the book has the same illustrations as Gobi, the paper children's book version. However, there is just over half of the amount of text, suggesting that though the publisher classifies this as the same age range, this is the younger version of the book (also because it has board book pages). There is less dialogue and the text more closely relates to the illustrations.

Of the three children's versions of the book, this one is my favorite. I really enjoyed the illustrations, with the adorable Gobi pup winking, begging, and jumping for joy. The amount of text is just right, without including unnecessary additional text. I do like that the young reader's version gave a more full account of what happened after the race (and the paper version even had an author's note explaining some of the aftermath as well). However, the core of this story is the race and the incredible dog that could keep up with the runners.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: "The Knot Yours Truly" by Carley Roney and the editors of

This book is primarily wedding photos and is essentially a large magazine. It is broken into three sections: defining your style, real weddings, and crafts.

The defining your style section is the most brief at 12 pages, but it packs the most text per page. Most of the information is very basic (defining formality, choosing a color or theme, etc.). It also definitely spends time plugging the website: "sign up for notifications from The Knot--we'll send you a list of to-dos tailored to where you are in the planning process along with tons of inspiration" (20). However basic this section may be, it is a very exciting time so it might be nice to read anyway.

Nearly 160 pages of "real weddings" make up the largest part of this book. That's all it's described as in the table of contents, but at the beginning of the actual section it breaks it down further into bohemian, classic, eclectic, glam, modern, romantic, and rustic. Personally I would have preferred this information to be in the main table of contents for ease of access, but it's not that inconvenient. Each section covers several couples' weddings, including quotes from the couple, and tons of pictures of invitations, centerpieces, dresses, tuxes, and cakes. At the end of each section there's a "blueprint"page that suggests colors, flowers, paper, attire, menu, venues, and favors that match the style. This seems like a very helpful overview for anyone really looking for advice on what type of flowers or colors.

The crafts section is really cute. From save-the-date clay magnets to a breakfast-to-go basket for out of town guests, this is a great idea for the creative couple looking to put their personal touch on their wedding. However, each of these crafts is only one page of typed instructions and one full-page picture. So don't expect step by step pictures to help you progress.

There's also an index and a list of the venues and photographers used, which is helpful.

Overall, yes, all of this information is also available from other sources for free and probably even more useful online, such as The Knot or Pinterest. However, this book would make a really nice gift for a newly engaged couple excited to start dreaming of their wedding together. This would also be really fun to browse through with a recently engaged friend (or soon to be).

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Touch and Feel Night Night, Farm by Amy Parker, illustrated by Virginia Allyn

Touch and Feel Night Night, Farm is a 10-page board book. The front and back covers are very sturdy and the inside pages are sufficiently sturdy. You won’t have to worry about this book getting bent or ripped, which is good given the touch and Feel style is usually for very young children. The title features read and blue foil and the sun is glittery gold.

Each spread of pages features a four line rhyming poem ending with animal noises following the pattern of “Night Night, Farm,” such as “oink oink, pigs.”  The rhymes are cute and sometimes mention a number of animals features or use a texture word, so there are some learning opportunities. The last page says, “oh, the animals God has made! And, hey, He made me too! Night Night, God.”

A sheep has fuzzy white wool, a pig has a cloth tummy, stars and sun are glittery gold, a horse has fine hair, a cat has longer hair, sheep dream bubbles are glittery white, chickens have red foil, a hay ride has a slight indent, and the last page has foil glitter moon and stars and a cloth blanket. Most of the touch and Feel elements are really good, but the soup-can tractor pulling a hayride only has a slight indentation and it took me a long time to notice it. I don’t think kids will be interested in the minute difference. Also, the glitter being repeated was a bit disappointing especially because that’s so common in many children’s books.

Overall though, I’d recommend this book. Touch and Feel books are so fun to read with children and this one is no exception. I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review.