The Fisherman and the Whale by Jessica Lanan

Published by Simon and Schuster

Image result for fisherman whale lanan amazon

Image result for fisherman whale lanan amazon

Summary:  While a boy and his fisherman father work at hauling in their catch in this wordless tale, a whale gets tangled in nets and line under the water.  As the boat is heading home, the boy spots the whale’s tail in the distance and convinces his father to investigate. As they get closer, they can see that the whale’s mouth is wrapped in fishing line.  In a daring rescue, the fisherman jumps into the water with a knife, and manages to cut the whale free, repeatedly diving beneath the water to slice away the lines and nets. Safely back on the boat, the man and his son share a hug before hearing something in the water.  They look to see the whale leap from the water, and they exchange a wave and some smiles before each one heads off into the sunset. Includes an author’s note with more information about the dangers of fishing to whales, dolphins, and porpoises, as well as a note cautioning kids not to try any sort of rescue themselves.  48 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  I do love a good wordless book, and this one has gorgeous watercolor illustrations that tell the story clearly enough for preschoolers to understand.  The environmental message is a nice bonus.

Cons:  Even though the fisherman managed to save this particular whale, he still seems to be engaging in an activity that has the potential to kill other marine mammals.

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

Field Trip to the Moon by John Hare

Published by Margaret Ferguson

Image result for field trip to the moon amazon

Image result for field trip to the moon john hare

Summary:  At the start of this wordless picture book a school bus approaches the moon, and a group of space suited kids and adults head out to explore the surface, peering into craters and jumping over chasms.  One child hangs back, eventually propping herself up against a rock and using crayons and a pad of paper to sketch the Earth. She nods off, waking up to a deserted moon and a glimpse of the flying bus in the black sky.  With nothing else to do, she gets out her art supplies again. As she draws, a group of blobby gray aliens surround her to watch. They’re intrigued with the colors, and when she offers them crayons, they use them to decorate the gray moon rocks and each other.  When the bus reappears, they scatter. An adult comes out and hugs the child, then insists she clean the drawings off the moon rocks. The two go off to board the bus, as alien hands holding crayons rise out of the moon’s surface to wave goodbye. 40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  This ode to imagination stands out from the plethora of moon books being published this year in honor of the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.  There’s plenty to see on each page, yet the story is straightforward enough for kids to understand (something I sometimes struggle with in wordless books).

Cons:  What teacher doesn’t take attendance when the kids get back on the bus?

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

Image result for field trip to the moon john hare

I wrote a book!

Remember the book A Wonderful Year by Nick Bruel?  Me neither.  It was the first book I reviewed on this blog on February 20, 2015, and I don’t think I’ve looked at it since.

Three days later I posted a review for The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, a book I still book talk many times a year and count among my favorite books of all times.

That’s the way it goes with reading.  Some books are just more memorable than others.

So when I realized that I’ve published almost 1,400 reviews, I decided it was time to do some weeding.  In a week or so, I’m going to take down the reviews from 2015 and 2016.  In preparation for this,  I’ve gone through all the books I’ve written about and picked out the ones I feel have stood the test of time.

I’ve compiled them into a book called Hit the Books: The Best of Kids Book A Day, 2015-2018.  There are about 150 books included; each entry has the summary I wrote on my blog and why it was included on the list.  They’re divided into eight sections: picture books, early readers, early chapter books, middle grade fiction, graphic novels, poetry, biography, and nonfiction.

I also put together ten lists of “Read-Alikes” from the books I’ve reviewed on the blog.  So if you have a fan of Diary of A Wimpy Kid or Raina Telgemeier, you can get some ideas for other books they might want to try.

Let me know if you find this book helpful.  Who knows, I may put together a second edition in another year or two!

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

Another by Christian Robinson

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Image result for another christian robinson amazon

Image result for another christian robinson amazon

Summary:  It’s bedtime for a girl and her cat as this wordless picture book opens; the cat sees a portal open in her wall, and a nearly-identical cat walks through and grabs a red toy mouse from the floor.  The girl wakes up, and the two follow the new cat out through the hole. They find themselves in a new world where up is down and down is up.  Other portals lead to new places where dozens of other children are playing. Finally, the girl and cat meet up with their doubles (except for a few details that are blue instead of red).  The blue-collared cat tosses the red mouse to the red-collared cat, and he and the girl return to their bedroom. Everything seems to be just as it was at the beginning of the story…except that now there is a blue toy mouse on the floor.  56 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  This is a real feast for the imagination…so much to look at it in the illustrations and a lot to speculate on in the crazy mixed-up world that Christian Robinson has beautifully created.

Cons:  I was pretty confused my first time through this book.

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

Found by Jeff Newman and Larry Day

Published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers

Image result for found jeff newman amazon

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Summary:  When a girl finds a new puppy in this wordless picture book, she is delighted.  There are signs all around (empty dog dish, photo, and a missing poster on her bulletin board) of Prudence, a beloved dog that she has lost.  But she begins to bond with the new dog, and the illustrations show them playing, wrestling, and taking a trip to the pet store for a new leash. On the way home, though, she sees a sign for a lost dog with a picture that is unmistakably her new friend.  After a night of soul-searching, she takes the dog back to his original owner, a boy who looks to be about her age. She starts home dejectedly, but her route takes her past the animal shelter. There in the window, a dog is looking out at her.  The last picture shows them gazing happily at each other through the window, her hand and his paw against the glass. 48 pages; ages 4-10.

Pros:  The story is simple, but powerful.  Kids will be able to identify the emotions from the girl’s expressions and body language, and can use clues from the illustrations to figure out what’s gone on in the past.  They will learn about love, loss, and moving forward again.

Cons:  2018 seems to be the year of heartbreaking dog stories.  Laura Seeger, Brian Lies, and Jeff Newman: are you trying to kill me?

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

Imagine! By Raul Colon

Published by Simon and Schuster

Image result for raul colon imagine amazon

Image result for raul colon imagine amazon

Summary:  A boy rides his skateboard over the Brooklyn Bridge to the Museum of Modern Art.  Inside he is captivated by three painting: Pablo Picasso’s Three Musicians, Henri Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy, and Henri Matisse’s Icarus.  As he gazes at them, the figure from Icarus steps out of the painting and starts dancing with the boy.  The three musicians soon join them, playing their instruments, and finally the woman and lion from Rousseau’s painting follow the group as they head out of the museum.  They explore the city, riding the subway, taking a dip on the Cyclone roller coaster, eating hot dogs, and climbing the Statue of Liberty before heading back to MOMA.  The boy says goodbye as they all return to their paintings, then he gets his skateboard and heads for home. Along the way, he sees a big building and is inspired to paint pictures of his new friends on its side.  An author’s note tells how he developed his own love of art and hopes to inspire readers. 48 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  This wordless picture book is a follow-up to Colon’s 2014 Draw!, sharing with readers a love of art and creativity that started when he was a child.  The watercolor paintings give the illustrations a dreamy quality that is appropriate for a story of imagination.  Maybe a contender for Caldecott recognition.

Cons:  I wish the original paintings had been shown somewhere in the book.

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

Pip and Pup by Eugene Yelchin

Published by Henry Holt and Co.

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Summary:  At the beginning of this wordless book, Pip, a fuzzy yellow chick, hatches out of her egg and goes exploring.  The first animal she sees is sleeping puppy Pup. She pecks on his nose, then gets scared when he wakes up and chases her.  She goes back to her eggshell; when it starts raining, she uses the bottom half as a boat and the top half as a hat. She paddles back to Pup, who is feeling unhappy in the rain.  When Pip puts half her eggshell on Pup’s head, a riotous game begins that ends when Pup accidentally crushes the eggshell. His way to make amends? Bringing out a tennis ball which seems like it will start a whole new game.  32 pages; ages 3-7.

Pros:  A cute story of friendship by Newbery honoree Eugene Yelchin (Breaking Stalin’s Nose).  The personalities of both animals come through loud and clear even though there are no words.

Cons:  It’s a pretty simple and straightforward story, without as many interesting details as some wordless books have.

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