2019 Lower Shelf Reviews (in alphabetical order) Part 2

Trees

Author: Verlie Hutchens
Illustrator: Jing Jing Tsong
Category: Picture Book
Target Age: 4-8
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover
Published: March 2019  
Text rating: 8/10
Illustration rating: 9/10
Mommy Readability Rating: 9/10

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Summary: This collection of poems celebrates the beauty and wonder of trees. Each poem focuses on a different tree, from the Maple to the Sequoia and many in between.  

Review: Trees is a beautiful poetry collection, perfect for any nature lover. The poems are short and in non-rhyming free verse. While they are simple, each one shows the uniqueness and beauty of the tree it portrays. And the scenic illustrations are perfect companions to the lyrical words. A fun little detail in the book…a particular tree it just so tall that the reader must turn the book on its side as the illustration and words run the length of the two pages rather than top to bottom. This is a great book to help children begin to appreciate the wonders of nature. Definitely a great read before setting out on a hiking or camping trip with the family.

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Under My Hijab

Author: Hena Khan
Illustrator: Aaliya Jaleel
Category: Picture Book
Target Age: 4-7 years
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Published: February 2019  
Text rating: 8/10
Illustration rating: 9/10
Mommy Readability Rating: 10/10  

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Summary: A young girl talks about all the women in her life, how they choose to wear their hijabs in public, and their uncovered personalities at home.

Review: In this rhyming story, Khan explores and celebrates the many ways Muslim women wear their hijabs and also shows how what they wear on their heads does not define who they are as people. It is refreshing to see this aspect of female culture recognized in a book for children. Through the young narrator, the reader comes to admire these strong women for the ways they carry themselves in both public and private settings. This is a great book for Muslim children to celebrate who they are and non-Muslim children to grow an appreciation for another culture.  

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We Don't Eat Our Classmates

Author: Ryan T. Higgins

Illustrator: Ryan T. Higgins

Category: Picture Book 

Target Age: 4-7 years 

Pages: 48 

Format: Hardcover 

Published: June 2018 

Text rating: 10/10 

Illustration rating: 10/10 

Mommy Readability Rating: 10/10  


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Summary: Penelope Rex, a young T-Rex, is excited and nervous for her first day of school. She is quite eager to find out what her new classmates are like, but then shocked to discover that they are all children. This is a problem for little Penelope, because children are delicious!  


Review: We Don’t Eat Our Classmates is an adorable story with fantastically fun illustrations. All the detail Higgins puts into each image makes the story all the more entertaining. And the ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you’ message is delivered through the struggles of the cutest little dinosaur. It’s a story to enjoy anytime, but is also perfect for kids going to school for the first time, struggling to fit in, or especially those going through a biting phase. This is a very fun read that can be enjoyed by both children and their adult readers.  


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When Sadness is at Your Door

Author: Eva Eland
Illustrator: Eva Eland
Category: Picture Book
Target Age: 3-7 years
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Published: January 2019
Text rating: 9/10
Illustration rating: 9/10
Mommy Readability Rating: 10/10  

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Summary: Sadness, personified as a blue, blobby creature, enters into a young boy’s life as an unannounced houseguest. He comes to understand Sadness and learns how to deal with this new emotion.  

Review: When Sadness is at Your Door is the debut picture book of Dutch author and illustrator Eva Eland. This is a lovely story that helps children (& adults) understand sadness. Sometimes people get sad, and that’s okay. How we deal with the sadness is what is important. The text is short but significant. The simple, crayon-esque drawings help make the emotion and its impact very relatable for young readers/listeners. The message is comforting; acceptance of the sadness and knowing that it will pass. This is definitely a great read-aloud story for a child who is feeling down or a little confused about their emotions.  

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Wild Baby

Author: Cori Doerrfeld
Illustrator: Cori Doerrfeld
Category: Picture Book
Target Age: 4-8 years
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Published: March 2019
Text rating: 9/10
Illustration rating: 9/10
Mommy Readability Rating: 10/10

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Summary: A baby orangutan goes bounding through the jungle as its mother tries to keep up with it and keep it from trouble, such as waking a bear, falling from the top of a tree, and getting eaten by a leopard. But the mother comes to find the child has a very good reason for the wild adventure.

Review: We have a new walker in our house, so I can definitely relate to the story in Wild Baby. The whole book is a creative look at the adventures (misadventures) of young children. It is told in rhyme and is a fun read aloud story for any age. This is the same author/illustrator who wrote The Rabbit Listened, which I loved, and while this one is a much different story with a different style both in words and illustrations, I enjoyed it just as much. It is a quick, easy read (good for new readers to try reading themselves) and older children can definitely engage with the illustrations as they explore what is going on in the jungle beyond what the words are telling them. A great, fun read for parents and children alike.

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