Book of the Week: Tea Party Rules

(For the past few weeks I haven’t posted a Book of the Week post. I want to give a very brief explanation of why. I’ve been reading a ton of picture books for work related reasons. But the picture books I’ve been reading I haven’t been absolutely loving. And I really don’t want to spotlight books I’m not 100% passionate about for these Book of the Week posts.)

Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman Illustrated by K.G. Campbell

Published: 2013 by Viking Juvenile

Reasons Why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I’m going on record and saying this: AME DYCKMAN is awesome! And if you don’t believe me, you should follow her on twitter, read her books, and find out for yourself. I’m sure you’ll agree.

I own my own copy of Tea Party Rules. And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s signed to me from Ame! It says that I’m always invited to her tea parties!

I bet she throws some festive tea parties.

From the moment we meet Cub we know that he’s a great character! I love the cool expression he walks around the forest with.

It seems that leaves just cling to Cub.

Playing is always better when there are cookies involved.

Cub thinks that, besides his mother and his sleeping sibling, that he’s the only bear playing in the forest. Well, imagine his surprise when he stumbles upon, not only the cookies, but another bear sitting where he should be sitting.

Cub doesn’t realize that the other bear isn’t real, but rather a stuffed animal.

He tries to talk to it, but it doesn’t respond. He tries to nudge him but ends up knocking him off the chair.

Now, Cub must impersonate the stuffed bear if he wants some cookies.

Cub doesn’t realizing that impersonating this stuffed bear means he’ll have to play tea party. And playing tea party always involves rules. Cub won’t necessarily like these rules.

Tea Party Rule #1: “You must be clean.”

Bear isn’t clean, he’s grubby. He likes being grubby, and to be honest, I like him grubby too!

Tea Party Rule #2: “You must be neat.”

It isn’t enough to just be clean.

But Cub is willing to be clean and neat if it means he’ll get to enjoy those cookies.

It’s always all about the cookies!

Tea Party Rule #3: “You must be fancy.”

Fancy? Bear is a bit scared to be fancy. But rules are rules, and cookies are cookies.

Being fancy means wearing perfume, getting your hair (or fur) done, and wearing a pink ruffly dress.

Fancy isn’t fun in Cub’s opinion.

But it’s worth it.

Tea Party Rule #4: “You must eat daintily.”

This is just too much for him to handle. First he had a bath, than his hair was done, after all that he was stuffed into an uncomfortable dress. Now he’s expected to eat daintily?!? Bears do NOT eat daintily, and he shows his tea party host just how real bears eat.

Cub devours the cookies.

But then realizes how sad his host is. She too was looking forward to those cookies.

As a peace-offering, Cub offers her the very last cookie. Even though, I’m sure, he really wants it for himself.

But friends share, and do things for each other.

The tea party host decides it’s not tea party time. It’s playing like a bear time! ROAR!!!

Cub likes playing bear. He already knows the rules.

The writing is simply great! Author Dyckman tells a great story, with strong yet whimsical writing.

The illustrations are equally as great. The are the perfect complement to author Dyckman’s story.

I absolutely loved this book. And I’m so happy to own this book!



Book of the Week: Tiger in My Soup

Tiger in My Soup by Kashmira Sheth Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler

Published: 2013 by Peachtree Publishers

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

The title caught my attention. Without even knowing what the book was about I knew I had to read this book, just by the title.

The cover is just as eye-catching and attention grabbing as the title is.

Beyond that, the use of the colors green and yellow are carried throughout the book. Green just happens to be one of my favorite colors, so it’s like me and this book were meant to be, right?!?

The young boy, the main character, is wearing a strainer on his head.  And he’s fending over a hulking tiger with nothing but a wooden chair and a leather belt. He’s one brave boy!

The end papers show the little boy and the hulking tiger playing a game of hide and seek behind cans of alphabet soup.

I like soup.  So does the main character.

But he doesn’t like tigers in his soup.

Either do I.

The big sister is in charge – of the house, the lunch, and of our main character. But she’s too busy listening to music and reading her book to be bothered with “being in charge.”

The little boy likes to read, but he prefers when someone – his sister – reads to him.

She isn’t interested in his book about a tiger. She much rather read her own book.

I bet there are no tigers in her book. Or her soup for that matter.

Instead of having his sister to read to him, the little boys looks at the pictures himself. He looks at them right-side up. He looks at them upside down. He looks at them from back to front, and front to back.

But sometimes reading isn’t fun by oneself.

I love the little bird that accompanies our main character. He reads over his shoulder.

When he’s bored, the little boy seeks out his sister to ask her if she’ll read to him … now. And she still says no.

She’s paying no attention to him at all. Until he tells her he is hungry.

She makes him soup, and goes straight back to her own book.

I love that both of these characters are bookworms.

In the midst of the steam, it’s where the little boy notices that there’s something puffing up in his soup. And that something is a tiger.

And it seems that only the little boy can see the tiger.

Boy did that tiger look mean.

In order to protect himself, his sister, and his soup the boy stands up against the tiger. Stabbing him with his spoon, chasing him around the kitchen, pulling his long tail and until the tiger is dizzy with pain. He even launches a missile – a cracker – at him.

The little boy’s soup is officially cold.  His sister, not only volunteers to heat it up, but to finally read to him.

And when she roars, the tiger within her comes out.

The book truly shows the power of a child’s imagination.

The writing that fills this book is just as vivid as the illustrations that pop off the page.



Book of the Week: Chamelia and the New Kid in Class

Chamelia and the New Kid in Class by Ethan Long

Published: 2013 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

Chamelia, a small lizard (I believe a chameleon) with a sassy sense of style.

I liked Chamelia from the moment I cracked open this book. She’s full of spunk, a real character, and one that young readers will easily identify with.

I love the end covers – they are striped in various colors and various patterns. It’s eye-catching.

Chamelia is a real star. She likes to dance, sing, and generally entertain all of her school mates and fellow friends.

No one ever steals Chamelia’s spotlight. That is, until a new student – Cooper – is introduced to the class.

Cooper  has a pompadour. And he wears red Chuck Taylors.

Cooper is very talented. A trait that everyone but Chamelia appreciates.

Cooper can paint, he’s good a soccer player, and everyone seems to love the games he makes up after school.

Everyone, to say the least, is impressed by Cooper.

Chamelia’s bicycle helmet matches her pants. Like I said, she’s a sharp dresser! (Cooper too is one sharp dresser!)

Everyone, except Chamelia. Who is a little jealous.

I love how this book shows that everyone gets a little big jealous every now and again. And that jealousy is a feeling that everyone, at some point in time, has experienced.

Chamelia can’t seem to shake Cooper. He seems to be EVERYWHERE! At school, the playground, even in the supermarket.

Chamelia does her best to ignore Cooper. But while she’s busy ignoring him, she fails to realize that, judging from his expression, he’s a little bit hurt.

Not used to living in the limelight, Chamelia hatches a plan to steal Cooper’s thunder, and take back the spotlight: on show and tell day, Chamelia will show he seashell collection, everyone will love her collection better than Cooper’s rock collection.

Everyone is very impressed by Chamelia and her seashell collection. Everyone is also impressed with Cooper’s rock collection, until  Chamelia starts to yawn, blow raspberries, stick her tongue out in disgust. Her plan was working!

But even though her plan was working, it didn’t make her feel any better. In fact, it made her feel worse.

This book shows young readers that it isn’t very nice to make someone else feel bad, even if it makes you feel better.

So, Chamelia decides to share the spotlight, and cheers Cooper on!

Before long, the two are as thick as thieves.

Together they sing, they dance, they entertain!

This is a story about friendship. And about how two unlikely people can end up becoming the best of friends.

What makes this such a great read, isn’t just the superb writing, but the charming illustrations.




Book of the Week: Bugs in My Hair

Bugs in My Hair by David Shannon (Received Advanced Copy from Publisher at BEA 2013)

Published: 2013 by The Blue Sky Press

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

This book took me by surprise, it wasn’t what I expected (and I mean that in a good way).

So what surprised me about this book: it was about head lice – a subject you don’t see often in children’s picture books.

It’s an important subject, a serious one and author/illustrator David Shannon handles it with a mix of seriousness and humor.

Lice are very tiny bugs that latch on to one’s strands of hair and lay eggs.

They make your head itch like CRAZY!

I love how this book is a learning lesson, there are facts and little tidbits of knowledge hidden on each page. For example, readers will learn that lice eggs are called nits, and part of the treatment is picking those nits. Have you put two and two together yet: that’s where we get the term nitpicker!

The lice made the main characters so much he thought they were partying up there in his massive reddish/orange curls.

They were having a concert: lice-a-palooza!

And in the image of lice – a – palooza they are dancing, singing, and playing the banjo.

It actually makes them look … cute (almost, I’m not a bug lover).

Instead of partying, they are feasting. On blood. The main characters blood. They’re like teeny tiny vampires.

And author/illustrator drives that point home, by illustrating lice in a Dracula costume.

The book also discusses  the feelings that come with having head lice: shame, humiliation, and embarrassment.

But young readers it’s important to remember that it may be embarrassing and humiliating, but a lot of other kids have head lice and they feel the same way. It’s also important to remember that head lice is curable.

Louse is where we get the word lousy.

Lice, when latched onto one’s hair often feel as if they are on top of the world.

Where to dead lice come from? From anywhere. As author/illustrator Shannon points out, it can come from a hug, a hat, a sofa, at school, or at the movies. But it can never, ever come from your dog. Dogs do not get lice.

Sometimes, even those who don’t have lice will get itchy. It’s sympathy scratching.

But really the problem isn’t on their head, it’s really in their head.

There are a lot of ways to “cure” lice, some work and some do not.

But the lice do need to be cured before they take over the world. Bug-zilla style.

So how do you cure them: by using stinky stuff that will make them want to leave your head, by combing your hair with a nit comb to pick out the lice eggs, and by going to the doctor.

But even though you take all the right steps to get rid of them, and all the right precautions to stop them from coming back, sometimes they do. Come back that is. And those steps and precautions will have to be repeated to get rid of them permanently.

Even though I agree fully with the main character, that bugs are “ick” I enjoyed this book. I learned a lot without feeling like I was learning. This book is far from boring.

I love Shannon’s illustrations. Through them he makes a scary subject not so scary.

His writing is also the driving force of the book. I love how Shannon doesn’t overwrite – he says what he has to without too many unnecessary words getting in the way.

This is a great read for the younger, school aged audience.

After reading on book by David Shannon, I am always left feeling like I want to read all of David Shannon’s books.

Book of the Week: Daisy Gets Lost

Daisy Gets Lost by Chris Raschka (Received advanced copy from publisher at BEA 2013)

Published: October 2013 by Schwartz & Wade

Reasons Why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

Daisy loves to play fetch. Back and forth, back and forth chasing that large blue ball.

Back and forth, back and forth until Daisy spots a small brown squirrel with an oversized tail.

Daisy prefers to chase after squirrel’s more than chasing balls.

The little squirrel doesn’t appear to be so scared of the white fluffy dog that is chasing behind it. Instead it seems amused. Just proving that squirrels are fuzzy troublemakers.

I love how this book is (mostly) wordless.

Daisy cannot climb trees, which really puts a hitch in her plan of actually “getting” the squirrel.

But Daisy doesn’t actually want to “get” the squirrel, she doesn’t want to do anything bad to it.

Daisy soon finds herself lost in the midst of the park in which she was playing. Her owner is scared.

So much so that she looks like she’s about to cry.

She goes to find Daisy, but all she finds is her big blue ball.

Daisy too is scared.

So much so that she cries out for help.

Because of her lost cries, Daisy’s owner eventually finds her.

They are reunited, and they are both happy! It shows on both of their faces.

I love how this book shows the relationship between humans and their pets.

Anyone who has a pet knows this. I personally do not have a pet, but I know what it feels like to love a pet like it’s my own.

I love the artwork that fills Daisy Gets Lost. It’s illustrated in true, classic Chris Raschka style.

Speaking of the illustrations, I particularly love the colors that Raschka used throughout the book: blue, yellow, green, brown, etc.. It’s all very Earth-y.

It’s a short and sweet read that will capture, not only reader’s attention, but their hearts as well. Beyond that, this is a book that young readers will love to read through over and over again.

Book of the Week: If You Want to See a Whale

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano Illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Published: 2013 by Roaring Brook Press

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

There’s a surprise hidden beneath the dust jacket. The actual book is blue material, and has a whale emblazoned on it! So pretty!

I’m a big fan of creatures that live in the sea, so I knew from the start that me and this book would be a match made in book heaven!

I love the use of green and blue through out the book. It really does give the book a very ocean-y feel.

Not to brag or anything, but my copy of this book is signed by the one, the only, the illustrator Erin E. Stead. I’m such a fan of hers!

I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, books with nameless characters, I think, are great. Why? Because, I feel, that it allows for readers to step into the shoes of the character.

There are many ways to see a whale.

FIrst you need to sit by a window that is looks out into the vast expanse of the sea.

I like that the water in this book is referred to as “sea” instead of ocean.

There’s a dog in the book. I’m a real sucker for dogs in books.

The dog plays the crucial role of sidekick.

Waiting to see a whale means there will be a lot of waiting involved.

While waiting you can wonder, you can pass time, you can even mistake teeny-tiny birds for whales.

Whale watching, or rather waiting to see a whale can make one very sleepy. To remedy this, make sure to sit in a “not-so-comfy chair.”

There will always be obstacles in trying to see a whale. Roses get in the way – showy roses who don’t like whales because … well they aren’t pink, and they don’t smell sweet.

Beware of the roses, they will distract you.

What’s that? A pirate ship, you say! Well there will not be any whales there. I can guarantee it!

Did you know that pelicans smile? I didn’t know that before reading this book.

I love how this book really does ignite the reader’s imaginations.

Even though you really shouldn’t whale watch in the clouds, you may find a few whales (and other sea creatures for that matter) floating above.

Sometimes you have to look down, not out, in order to see a whale.

And other times, the whale will see you!

I loved the writing in this book. Author Julie Fogliano’s writing is strong, lyrical, and elegant.

Besides the words I also (obviously) loved the pictures! They are the perfect companions to the words.

I think this book would make a great bed time story.

I’m very happy to have this book in my own, personal library!

Book of the Week: Octopus Alone

Octopus Alone by Divya Srinivasan

Published: 2013 by Viking Children’s

Reasons why I liked this book and chose it as Book of the Week:

I love books about sea creatures.

The end pages are colorful and engaging. I can see the many fish that are identified being spotted throughout the book by young readers.

I particularly love the fairy basslets. Oh, and the puffer fish. But who doesn’t love a good puffer fish?!?

Octopus Alone is illustrating is subtle shades of sea green. I approve!

The shade of green gives a calm, almost serene feeling to the book.

Octopus is a shy, she much rather spend her days watching the action rather than be at the center of it.

The three seahorses, who are oddly fascinated with Octopus, don’t quite understand. When Octopus tries to shoo them away with her many legs they thing she wants to play with them.

Crazy seahorses!

Octopus has no choice but to leave the comforts of her cave in the hopes of finding a new, quieter one.

Octopus can change colors! She starts our as a vivid orange but when she leaves her cave and enters the underwater garden she quickly transforms into a beautiful green! She changes colors to hide from the other fish.

In all honestly, I had to look about the page for a good long second to find her.

In the wilds of the sea Octopus sees many kinds of sea creatures and fish: domino fish, sharks, and even sea snakes (which I imagine are not as friendly looking or as cute as author/illustrator Divya Srinivasan has portrayed here.)

Just when Octopus things she’s safe, she spies three very familiar looking sea horses coming towards her. Good thing she can change color so quickly.

Seahorses like to have fun. They twirl about, they wiggled in all directions, and they even did somersaults.

Octopus found them delightful to watch. So do I.

Octopus is very curious, and full of wonder.

She finally understands why the three seahorses are oddly fascinated with her. When Octopus spies luminous jelly fish drifting far and away, she wonders where they are going.

I love, love, love the illustration where Octopus is shown gazing at the jelly fish. She’s a soft rose pink and she looks as if she’s floating atop a bed of blue and green starfish. It’s so incredibly beautiful.

All the illustrations that fill this book are incredibly beautiful.

Octopus’ three little seahorse friends were not very far behind. They had followed her. Scared, she inked them and went on her merry way.

This book sheds light on what life in the ocean may be like. There are things to wonder over, and other things like crab traps to be fearful of.

Octopus swam and swam until she was the only creature.  There was nothing and no one watching her, there was nothing and no one to hide from.

Finally alone, Octopus danced around like the seahorses. She wiggled, she twirled, and she even did somersaults!

But then she heard a rumbling and a whoosh! as a whale swam up and out of the water.

Alone Octopus had time to reflect on her new life alone. The more she reflected the more she missed the lively reef in which she lived. She missed the sea snakes, and the domino fish. But most of all she missed the three silly seahorses.

Octopus realizes that home is where the heart is, and that there really is no place like home.

She quickly swims back to her home in the ocean garden. And was welcomed by all the creatures she knows and loves.

I love how this book is about friends in a way.

The writing that fills Octopus Alone is strong, engaging, and whimsical.

This is the kind of book that readers of all ages will, not only enjoy, but will easily relate to.

This book makes me want to visit the aquarium.