2019 Lower Shelf Reviews (in alphabetical order) Part 2

The Remember Balloons

Additional Information

Author: Jessie Oliveros

Illustrator: Dana Wulfekotte

Category: Picture Book 

Target Age: 5-9 years 

Pages: 48 

Format: Hardcover 

Published: August 2018 

Text rating: 10/10 

Illustration rating: 10/10 

Mommy Readability Rating: 5/10   


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Summary: A young boy struggles to understand when his grandfather starts losing his memory.  


Review: The Remember Balloons is perfect. The concept is so creative (memories taking physical form in balloons!) and executed brilliantly. The story pulls you in right away, hearing about the grandfather’s favorite balloons and how he shares them with his grandson. You can’t help but hurt for the little boy when he starts to notice his grandfather losing some of his favorite balloons. It is a beautiful story. And this is further accented with the lovely, simple drawings that illustrate the words. I also really appreciated the fact that the characters in this book are persons of color, without race being the focus of the story, making it an inclusive book that more readers can relate to. The low Mommy Readabilty Rating comes from the fact that I found it impossible to get through without crying. Be prepared with a tissue or two.  


(Purchase The Remember Balloons)

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Sheep Dog and Sheep Sheep

Author: Eric Barclay
Illustrator: Eric Barclay
Category: Picture Book
Target Age: 4-8 years
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover
Published: February 2019
Text rating: 9/10
Illustration rating: 8/10
Mommy Readability Rating: 10/10  

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Summary: Sheep is an expert at two things, dancing and watching sheep. She knows this to be true. But then one day, she meets a new friend who claims to also watch sheep. Sheep’s whole world is turned on its head when she comes to discover that maybe she’s not the expert she thought she was.  

Review: Sheep Dog and Sheep Sheep is an adorable and fun read. The sheep character is so joyful and bold. I could definitely read more books with this character headlining the show. The sheep dog straight man pairs well with sheep in this entertaining story about friendship and finding your true purpose in life. Barclay’s illustrations are fantastic, complimenting the cheerful nature of the story. The bright colors and amusing details, which go above and beyond the text, make the story entertaining even for those below the publisher recommended target age.

(Purchase Sheep Dog and Sheep Sheep)

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Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish

Author: Beth Ferry
Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld
Category: Picture Book
Target Age: 4-8 years
Pages: 48
Format: Hardcover
Published: February 2019  
Text rating: 10/10
Illustration rating: 10/10
Mommy Readability Rating: 10/10  

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links)  

Summary: This list book outlines the ten rules of making a birthday wish, from the wish itself to the party that surrounds it and everything in between.  

Review: Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish is such a fun and imaginative concept for a book and Ferry executes it perfectly. The rules are clever, applying to creatures of all species, and the exceptions to each rule make the story even more original (every party needs decorations, but if you have spikes or horns of any kind, balloons are probably not the best idea). Lichtenheld’s illustrations are a perfect pairing to the text and add to the fun of the book’s reading. The entire book is bright, celebratory, and so so funny. Such an entertaining out loud read! This is definitely a great book to read in the lead up to any child’s (or adult’s) birthday, or any other day for that matter. The perfect birthday present for that young reader in your life.

(Purchase Ten Rules of the Birthday Wish)

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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.  

(Purchase Under My Hijab)

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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.  


(Purchase We Don't Eat Our Classmates)

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What Do You Do With...

Author: Kobi Yamada
Illustrator: Mae Besom
Category: Picture Book
Target Age: 5-8 years
Pages: Various
Format: Hardcover
Published: Various
Text rating: 10/10
Illustration rating: 10/10
Mommy Readability Rating: 10/10

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Summary: What Do You Do With A Chance?, What Do You Do With A Problem?, and What Do You Do With An Idea?, three books from the team of Yamada & Besom take a new look at how to deal with the ups and downs of life. How to face them, what to do with them, and how to make the world a better place by addressing them.

Review: These books are absolutely fantastic. The illustrations are stunning and the words are powerful. Whether Chance is a paper bird that flutters by and you have to chase it, or a Problem is a dark cloud above you that turns into a ranging storm, or an Idea is a golden egg that you have to care for, these books show the beauty of the journey. These are picture books that, while written with a younger audience in mind, are equally appropriate for people of all ages. They encourage self-love and perseverance in all situations. I highly recommend these both for yourself and to give as lovely gifts.

(Purchase What Do You Do With A Chance?)

(Purchase What Do You Do With A Problem?)

(Purchase What Do You Do With An Idea?)

(Purchase the What You Do Matters Boxed Set of all 3 books)

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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.  

(Purchase When Sadness is at Your Door)

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Why?

Author: Adam Rex
Illustrator: Claire Keane
Category: Picture Book
Target Age: 3-5 years
Pages: 60 pages
Format: Hardcover
Published: October 2019
Text rating: 10/10
Illustration rating: 9/10
Mommy Readability Rating: 10/10

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links)

Summary: When supervillain Doctor X-Ray swoops in threatening to vanquish an innocent crowd, the only one brave enough not to run away is a little girl, who asks him simply, "Why?" He is taken aback—but he answers. She keeps asking. And he keeps answering—until a surprising truth is uncovered, and the villain is thwarted.

Review: Why? is a great new take on the “evil genius taking over the world” trope. Take one part man-trying-to-prove-himself-by-ruling-the-world and one part adorable-little-girl-who-is-constantly-asking-“why?” and you’ve got a beautiful, clever story about self-reflection, acceptance, purpose, and love. The story, told in comic book style speech bubbles, is entertaining and touching. The illustrations are bright and eye-catching, done in a way that resembles Pixar developmental stills, which makes sense, as the illustrator worked on the developmental art for both Tangled and Frozen. This book has a strong message, but delivers it in a light, humour way, providing an enjoyable read for both children and adults.

(Purchase Why?)

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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

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links)

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.

(Purchase Wild Baby)

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You Are Home

Additional Information

Author: Evan Turk
Illustrator: Evan Turk
Category: Picture Book
Target Age: 4-8 years
Pages: 56
Format: Hardcover
Published: June 2019
Text rating: 10/10
Illustration rating: 10/10
Mommy Readability Rating: 10/10

(Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links)

Summary: You Are Home pays tribute to the national parks of the United States through a poem that explores the magnificence of the land and the animals and visitors that walk through it.

Review: This is a beautiful book that is perfect for all nature lovers of any age. The poem is simple and stunning. The drawings, which Turk created while on location at the different national parks, perfectly portray the splendor of nature and the drama of all that is within the parks. The story told within these pages is one of peace and belonging. This book will be a staple in our library as we raise our children to love nature and feel at home in the great outdoors.

(Purchase You Are Home)

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