Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant

Published by Two Lions

Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides by Anna Kang
Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant Discuss Hudson and Tallulah Take Sides

Summary:  Hudson the dog and Tallulah the cat may be neighbors, but they could not be more different.  Hudson loves to dig, eat garbage, and play with other dogs at the dog park, while Tallulah prefers keeping clean and keeping to herself.  But when the two of them spot a puddle full of birds, the chance to chase and play is irresistible for both animals.  Soon they discover a few more pastimes they both enjoy, and by the end of the book, a friendship has been born.  40 pages; ages 3-7.

Pros:  The team that produced the Geisel Award winning You Are (Not) Small has created a new book for early readers told through the illustrations and simple dialogue.  Kids will recognize and appreciate the dog-cat differences and enjoy being able to try out their new reading skills.

Cons:  This felt like it would have worked better in the traditional early reader format rather than as a picture book.

My Tiny Life by Ruby T. Hummingbird by Paul Meisel

Published by Holiday House

My Tiny Life by Ruby T. Hummingbird by Paul Meisel: 9780823443222 |  PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books
Paul Meisel-My Tiny Life by Ruby T. Hummingbird

Summary:  A ruby throated hummingbird narrates a year in his life, starting on May 15 when he hatches out of an egg.  A few weeks later, he’s ready to fly, and spends the summer sipping nectar and fighting/playing with the other hummingbirds.  August 22: “I’m hearing a lot of chatter about a big trip soon.”  In September, he heads to Mexico, where he stays until the end of February.  By May 4, he’s back home again, and thinking about finding a mate.  Includes additional information about hummingbirds on both the front and back endpapers, as well as a glossary and a list of sources and recommended reading.  40 pages; ages 4-9.

Pros:  Paul Meisel and Holiday House have teamed up for a number of I Like to Read books, and this series feels like it could appeal to the same audience.  There’s just a sentence or two of text on each page, and the diary format makes it engaging and fun.  Yet there’s plenty of back matter that could make this a great research resource for older kids.  There are three other books in this series, which started in 2018.

Cons:  As you may recall, I’m not a big fan of using the endpapers for additional information.  Fortunately, the book I got from the library didn’t have a dust jacket, so nothing was covered up.

Doggo and Pupper by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Charlie Alder

Published by Feiwel and Friends

Amazon.com: Doggo and Pupper (Doggo and Pupper, 1) (9781250620972):  Applegate, Katherine, Alder, Charlie: Books
Doggo and Pupper | Katherine Applegate | Macmillan

Summary:  Every night, Cat asks Doggo how his day was, and he responds, “Same old, same old.  Could have been worse.”  His comfortable routine is interrupted one day when Pupper arrives.  Pupper is full of mischief and has millions of questions.  When the humans decide to send Pupper to charm school, Doggo is relieved.  But school changes Pupper, and one night Doggo finds himself missing the old Pupper.  A sleepy human hands over the car keys, and the two dogs head off on a memorable road trip.  The final page lists Doggo’s guide to puppies, which includes “Puppies need lots of play.”  96 pages; ages 3-7.

Pros:  Beginning readers will have fun with this first chapter book that features funny illustration (that cover is irresistible!) and only a brief sentence or two of text on each page.  It’s called book 1, so we can hope there will be more Doggo and Pupper adventures ahead.

Cons:  Cat seems like a fun character who deserves a bit more time onstage.

The Pet Parade (Dear Beast, book 2) by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Kevan Atteberry (released February 2)

Published by Holiday House

Dear Beast

Summary:  Simon the cat has heard that Baxter the dog is going to be marching in the pet parade with their boy, Andy.  Simon has been in this parade with Andy in years past, and writes a letter to Baxter trying to convince him to back out.  Baxter refuses, and Simon launches a spy mission to determine what their costumes are going to be, enlisting the help of a skunk, a snail, a crow, a squirrel, and the pet goldfish, Gradually, Simon comes to understand that he and Baxter have different roles in Andy’s life, and that Baxter might actually be the better choice for the parade.  The parade concludes happily, and it looks like book 3 of this series is in the works.  Includes a “Doggy Dictionary” to help decipher Baxter’s misspelled words.  96 pages; grades 1-3.

Pros:  Butler has come up with a winning idea to tell an entire story through animals’ letters.  Early chapter books readers will find the format appealing, the writing humorous, and the colorful cartoon-style illustrations helpful in figuring out what’s going on in the story.

Cons:  Thank you to Holiday House for sending me this advance copy, but I wish I had read book 1 first, since I wasn’t completely able to figure out Andy’s, Simon’s, and Baxter’s situation from this book.  This seems like a weakness since kids don’t always read books in order. Also, some may object to Baxter’s frequent misspellings which may cause some struggles for beginning readers.

The Great Bunk Bed Battle (Fox Tails) by Tina Kügler and A Magic Spark (Fairylight Friends) by Jessica Young, illustrated by Marie Vanderbemden

Published by Scholastic

Amazon.com: The Great Bunk Bed Battle: An Acorn Book (Fox Tails #1) (1)  (9781338561685): Kügler, Tina: Books
A MAGIC SPARK | Kirkus Reviews

Summary:  Two new series have been added to Scholastic’s Acorn imprint for beginning readers.  In The Great Bunk Bed Battle, Fritz and Franny are supposed to be going to sleep, but debate the merits of the top bunk vs. the bottom bunk.  After trying to convince their dog Fred to join one or the other, they wind up with a surprising solution for all three.  A Magic Spark features three fairy friends, Ruby, Iris, and Pip, who go to school together and work to figure out what each one’s special magic is.  Each book ends with a page showing how to draw a character and offering a discussion question.  48 pages and 64 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  Once again, the Acorn imprint has come up with new series that are fun, imaginative, and just right for early readers.  The foxes are funny, the fairies will appeal to the fairy/princess fans, and everyone will enjoy the cartoon-style format.

A fun aside about author Jessica Young: We have her Haggis and Tank series in our library, and one of our second grade students told us the book was inappropriate. Turns out she was referring to the spine label: we use F for fiction, followed by the first three letters of the author’s last name.

Cons:  I like how Scholastic’s Branches books have two different levels, and it seems like that’s needed here.  Fox Tails has 48 pages and three sections (kind of like chapters, but not exactly), while A Magic Spark has 64 pages, five real chapters, and quite a bit more text on each page. 

If you would like to buy The Great Bunk Bed Battle on Amazon, click here.

If you would like to buy A Magic Spark on Amazon, click here.


Sun Flower Lion by Kevin Henkes

Published by Greenwillow Books

Sun Flower Lion - Kindle edition by Henkes, Kevin, Henkes, Kevin. Children  Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
The Most Astonishingly Unconventional Children's Books of 2020 - 100 Scope  Notes

Summary:  Divided into six chapters, each one only a page or two, this book introduces the sun, which is as bright as a flower; a flower which looks a little like a lion; and finally, the lion.  The lion falls asleep and dreams that the flowers are cookies.  When he wakes up, he is hungry and runs home to his family.  The final page shows him resting, happy and well-fed, with his parents and siblings.  40 pages; ages 2-5.

Pros:  There’s a lot to look at in this simple story, and kids will have fun comparing the shapes of the sun, flowers, and lion (and maybe trying to draw them themselves).  The simple text and yellow, gray, and black palette make this a perfect choice as a first picture book or a first reader.

Cons:  The plot’s a little thin…

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.


See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog by David LaRochelle, illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka

Published by Candlewick (Released September 8)

Amazon.com: See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog (9781536204278 ...

See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog by David LaRochelle, Mike ...

Summary:  “See the cat,” says an omniscient narrator (later identified as Book).  But all the reader sees is a dog, and he’s not happy.  He is NOT a cat.  He is NOT a blue cat.  He is NOT a blue cat in a green dress.  And his name is Max, not Baby Cakes!  But a surprise ending turns him into a red dog.  There are two more stories featuring a snake and a hippopotamus, in which Max ultimately takes matters into his own hands to make the stories go the way he wants them to.  And ultimately the way he wants the stories is to go is to let him take a nap.  64 pages; ages 3-8.

Pros:  I have a great deal of admiration for easy reader authors, particularly at this very beginner level.  David LaRochelle has created not one, but three stories that even the earliest readers will be able to read on their own.  The cartoon-style illustrations are fun, as well, and will help kids figure out the story.  

Cons:  A couple longer words, like “unicorn” and “embarrassed” may be a challenge for the intended audience.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

Baloney and Friends by Greg Pizzoli

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Amazon.com: Baloney and Friends (Baloney & Friends (1 ...

Amazon.com: Baloney and Friends (Baloney & Friends (1 ...

Summary:  Baloney’s introduction to his book is interrupted by his friends: Peanut, a blue pony; Bizz, a cheerful bee; and Krabbit, a grouchy pink rabbit.  Once introductions are (finally) out of the way, the friends move on to three more stories: Baloney’s somewhat lame magic show, how his friends help him overcome his fear of swimming, and attempts by Peanut to cheer up Baloney when he’s feeling blue.  In between the longer stories are two-page mini-comics.  The last few pages show kids how to draw the four characters so they can create their own comics.  96 pages; grades K-2.

Pros:  The straight-guy narrator with the goofy friend(s) has proven a winning combination before (Narwhal & Jelly, Peter & Ernesto, etc.), and undoubtedly will again with this crew.  I found myself laughing out loud a few times, particularly at Krabbit, and I’m sure kids raised on Elephant and Piggie will find this new series (I think it will be a series) delightful.

Cons:  It kind of bugged me how Baloney’s nose seemed off-kilter, like it was being shown in profile, but his eyes and mouth weren’t. 

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

 

Frog Meets Dog (Frog and Dog book 1) by Janee Trasler

Published by Scholastic (Released May 5)

Frog Meets Dog: An Acorn Book by Janee Trasler

Summary:  Dog wants to be friends with three frogs, but he can’t hop or leap like they can.  When a poorly-aimed leap results in a collision between Dog’s head and a bee’s nest, the frogs send him on his way.  But when a bear appears, Dog does a repeat with the bees and saves the day.  The frogs learn to appreciate Dog for who he is, and the four become friends.  48 pages; ages 3-6.

Pros:  This is another entry into the Scholastic Acorn imprint for emergent readers.  This series is quite a bit simpler than others I’ve seen, probably a Fountas and Pinnell level C or D versus the G/H levels of other series.  The silly (in a good way) cartoon-style illustrations tell a lot of the story, which will appeal to readers at this level.

Cons:  This book seems to be only available in paperback or the $20+ library bound format, which is ridiculous for a simple book like this.  Follett has a version for $10.91, but that’s more geared to the library market.

If you would like to order this book from the Odyssey Bookshop, click here.

What About Worms? (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading) by Ryan T. Higgins

Published by Hyperion Books for Children (Released May 19)

What About Worms!? (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!) (Elephant ...

Summary:  Tiger is big, brave, and not afraid of anything…except worms.  He loves flowers, except that there may be worms hiding in the dirt!  He loves apples, except that worms sometimes live in them!  He loves reading books, but what if the book turns out to be about worms?! Tiger’s fear gets the better of him, and he throws the flowerpot, apple, and book on the ground.  Just then, who should come along but a bunch of worms?  After enjoying the dirt and the apple, they see the book, and discover that it’s about tigers!  The worms are scared of tigers, but as they start reading, they learn that tigers and big and brave.  They decide that they love worms, and want to give this tiger a big hug…if they can get him to stop screaming and running away long enough.  64 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  Another fun entry in the Elephant & Piggie Like Reading series.  Kids are sure to get a big laugh out of the tiger and worms, and there’s also a subtle message about reading and learning helping you to overcome your fears.  

Cons:  Is it just me, or does the tiger bear a more-than-passing resemblance to the stuffed Hobbes (not the “real” one) from Calvin and Hobbes?

What About Worms!? (Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!) (Elephant ...  to make a hobbes tiger stuffed toy for my daughter in 2020 | Best ...

If you would like to order this book from the Odyssey Bookshop, click here.