Book of the Week: Bad Astrid

Bad Astrid by Eileen Brennan Illustrated by Regan Dunnick

Published: 2013 by Random House Books for Young Reads

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

I like the name Astrid. Me + the book = meant to be.

Astrid is, judging from the cover, a mean looking bulldog (well, I think she’s a bulldog). But even though she is rather mean looking, she’s also quiet cute: she’s wearing a red jumper and has a tiny bow in each ear.

The end paper art shows little Astrid antagonizing a seemingly terrified pigeon.

I don’t like pigeons.

Shortly after, readers find out why the pigeon looks terrified — Astrid has invaded their bird bath.

The text rhymes! What’s not to love about a book – a picture book – that rhymes!

Pigeons aren’t the only ones terrified by Astrid. If judging by the pictures than people are too!

Astrid is a kick – butt kinda character — I like that!

But she’s also kind of bully — I don’t like that!

All the characters are various breeds of dogs. And they all wear clothes, hats, and even bows. Why wouldn’t they wear these things?!

I love the depiction of Astrid’s bedroom. There are toys EVERYWHERE, stray socks litter the floor, several homemade drawings cover the walls (I particularly love the one of super girl soaring through the clouds), but what I like best about her room is this: Astrid’s smiling!

The narrator of this story is NOT Astrid. Instead, it’s one of Astrid’s neighbors.

She explains how Astrid makes her feel with real emotion.

Astrid has some bad habits: she growls, and spits, and sputters when anyone walks past her yard.

I think Astrid’s mean because she’s afraid that people will not like her.

Even though Astrid is shown popping the heads off of flowers, I bet she secretly wants to smell them.

Some of Astrid’s most favorite past times include: teasing birds (but we knew that from the end pages), destroying lemonade stands, ruining other people’s chalk drawings, and dropping acorns on the little narrator’s head.

It’s no wonder Astrid isn’t liked.

I like you Astrid.

Instead of being bothered by all the bad things Astrid’s been doing to her, our faithful little narrator carries on with her summer. She learns to knit, to tango, and even a bit of karate.

The little narrator is also VERY crafty. She built a small Eiffel Tower … out of Popsicle sticks! Genius!

But Astrid eventually ruined the small Eiffel.

But accidentally this time. She lost control of her bike, and crash landed upon it.

Astrid was hurt, and to her surprise she found herself asking for help.

The little narrator is a good friend. Despite all that Astrid has done to her, she helps her.

Well, not before asking her why she’s so mean?

Astrid was just looking for some attention, someone to be friends with.

When Astrid’s riding her bike, she wears a helmet with a skull and crossbones on it! That’s so punk rock!

Seeing someone reach out to her, someone who she was mean to has made Astrid turn over a new leaf.

She actually HUGS the little narrator.

Even though Astrid is bad, she isn’t really bad. Deep down, she’s “quite nice.”

I really LOVE how this book shows that you shouldn’t judge a person you barely know.

What I also love about this book is that it says: no one really likes a bully.

Everyone needs a friend.

The writing (besides rhyming) is simple, strong, and sends a great message out to readers.

The illustrations are great! They are inviting and they really make the text come to life.

And it’s short, sweet, and to the point!



Book of the Week: Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

Published: 2013 by Disney-Hyperion

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

It’s about a goat … and a UNICORN!!!

The cover is shiny! And sparkly!

I love how the little cupcakes that adorn the cover have hands and feet. Yes, they have happy faces too.

Speaking of the cupcakes, the cupcakes with sprinkles kind of look like little cacti.

Goat is a blue goat who thought he and his life were pretty great.

That is, until Unicorn moved into town.

Goat used to ride his bike to school. It was pretty cool. That is, until Unicorn went flying by, high above Goat’s little blue head.

Goat used to make marshmallow squares, ones that ALMOST came out right.  But Unicorn made it rain cupcakes … literally rain cupcakes. How could Goat compete with that?!?

Goat has some smooth dance moves for the school talent show. But when he got to school, Unicorn was already there doing some “serious prancing”.

Prancing won Unicorn first prize in the talent show … obviously.

Goat came up with this great magic trick: when you close your eyes, goat rifles through his already built-in pocket and pulls out a coin, leading you to believe that he pulled a quarter from behind your ear. He was excited to show it to all his friends.

But Unicorn was already at school, turning things into gold.

Goat is sick and tired of Unicorn … that show off!

At this point in the book, I just have to explain what Goat is doing. He’s prancing around with a toilet plunger on his head, pretending to be great, pretending to be Unicorn. It’s quite funny!

Just as Goat was settling down for a nice goat cheese pizza, Unicorn pays Goat a visit.

Unicorn is drawn to the heavenly smell of Goat’s pizza.

Goat explains to Unicorn that his pizza isn’t just any kind of pizza, it’s a pizza made of goat cheese – cheese specifically made of goat’s milk.

Unicorn gets upset because unicorn’s don’t have their own milk, and therefore can’t make their own cheese.

Goat explains that goat cheese makes everything better – tin cans and even a day old garbage. Too bad, all Unicorn can eat is glitter and rainbows (he has a very sensitive stomach).

Goat tells Unicorn all the wonderful things he can do – like clime steep hills and just stand there. And his horns would never deflate a soccer ball.

Unicorn is feeling very down about himself. He doesn’t have cloven feet and his horn is only good for pointing out donuts.

Goat has an out of this world idea: he suggests that he and Unicorn should join forces. They’d make an “unstoppable” team.

They’d wear capes like superheroes.

Together Goat and Unicorn will fight crime and give massive wedgies to the bad guys!

And when they aren’t fighting crime, they could just go to the park and play! Like normal friends.

I love how this book shows that friends really do bring out the best in each other.

And that friendship blooms in unexpected places, and sometimes with unexpected people.

I love how both Goat and Unicorn are drawn with such emotion. It’s apparent on their faces. When Unicorn is happy he beams from ear to ear. And when Goat is unset he scowls.

Speaking of illustrations, all of the artwork that fill this book are fun and fantastical!

The writing is smart and witty. It’s fun and whimsical. It’s funny and inviting.

This is the kind of book, the kind of story that is meant to be read aloud. And if possible, acted out.

I promise you readers, if you pick this book up, you’ll be laughing out loud!


Book of the Week: Tea Rex

Tea Rex by Molly Idle

Published: 2013 by Viking Juvenile.

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

First things first, on a totally UNRELATED note, when searching for Tea Rex (the book) by Molly Idle on Amazon, I found this. And I think it’s AWESOME! And it kind of makes me wish I was a tea drinker.

I love, Love, LOVE the cover of this book! Especially how the T-Rex is too big to actually fit on the book.

This book isn’t just about a T-Rex who happens to love tea parties.

Step by step, readers learn the proper ways to host a tea party.

First, greet your invited guests at the door. Even if that guest is (at least) three times the size of the door frame.

Second, lead your guest to the parlor, or where ever your tea party is being held. And by lead, I mean by pulling your guest, who’s (at least) three times the size of the door frame through the very small space.

Third, introduce your guest to one another. Even teddy bears should be introduced.

Fourth, offer your guest a comfortable place to sit. Even if his butt is too big to fit on the too tiny seat.

Fifth, remember to take turns talking, and remember to keep everyone involved in the conversation.

Some guest will want to chit chat about the weather, others will dangle spoons off the tips of their noses.

Dangling spoons off the tip of your nose is a true talent.

But when you dangle a spoon off the tip of your nose, your eyes inadvertantly cross.

Oh, and remember to cover your ears when your guest roars into the conversation. Literally ROAAAARS!

Sixth, once everyone is settled, and the pleasantries are exchanged you can then serve refreshments, a.k.a. tea.

Seventh, make sure you cater to all of your guests individual tastes. That is, unless they like the taste of teddy bears.

Eating fellow friends and guests, no matter if he or she is a teddy bear, is not nice manners!

Eighth, pour tea. But be careful, it’s hot!

And whatever you do, do NOT pour the tea in your hat! Nor should you pour tea in anyone else’s hat. Again, it’s just not nice manners.

A word to the wise, when your special guest is (at least) three times the size of a door frame, keep extra tea cups on hand.

Ninth, music will liven up any party!

Tenth, when the tea party has come to a close, escort your guest out.  Even if it means shoving his big behind through a too tiny door.

As the host, you’ll be rewarded graciously — your guest will inevitably invite you to his or her place for tea.

And rest assured, he or she will roll out the red carpet for you just as you previously did.

We should all have tea parties!

Author Molly Idle’s writing is spectacular! It’s smart with a touch a whimsy. It’s inviting, and playful.

But her writing isn’t the only spectacular aspect of Tea Rex, so are her illustrations!

The illustrations featured in this book are beautiful. They’re lush and soft, and really bring the story to life. I especially love the use of pink and yellow!

This is such a sweet book! I feel like I could gush and gush about it!

Parents will love this book just as much their kids do.




Book of the Week: Super Hair-o And the Barber of Doom

Super Hair-o And The Barber of Doom by John Rocco

Published: 2013 by Disney-Hyperion

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

Little Rocco is a super-powered, superhero.

He has many super, awesome super powers. He can whoosh like the speed of light on his tire swing. He can catch slippery green frogs without the help of a net. And he can soar higher than any of his friends on his red bike.

Where do his superpowers come from though? Why, isn’t it obvious? His hair!

Rocco’s hair is this crazy mass of curls! And it is awesome.

But Rocco isn’t the only superhero. His friends are superheroes too, all who possess great powers.

And where do they get their powers from? You guessed it: their hair!

Yes, their hair is as zany as Rocco’s is.

Superheroes can get themselves out of any sticky situation.

That is, when they are captured by their dads.

Captured and dragged away to the villain’s lair, a.k.a. The Barber shop!

It’s at this point in the book where I like the “dun, dun, dun!” music would sound off.

I love how, at this point, the colors of the illustrations shift from full color to black and white as little Rocco is about to step foot into the lair.

I also love how the guy sitting in the barber’s chair has an old school handlebar mustache.

Even though Rocco protested, and struggled the barber’s powers overpowered Rocco’s superhero powers.

By the end, both Rocco’s hair and super-charged superpowers were virtually nonexistent.

By the time Rocco manages to escape the evil clutches of his capture, he’s so drained he can’t even make it back to his hideout.

Rocco fears that his superpowers have disappeared. If they have, how can he possibly be a superhero? And worse, what will his friends think?!?

I love how Rocco is an emotional character. His facial expressions give him away on every page.

Rocco does everything in his human powers to get his powers and his hair back. He uses plant, mops, and even his trusty sidekick Sam to help. But all were not helpful.

When he see his friends, he finds out that their superpowered hair has been stripped and cut away.

Even though they don’t like this, I will say this: they all look super cute with new, shorter hair.

The superheroes are obvious down in the dumps about their lost powers. That is, until a little, crazy-haired little girl is in need of superhero help.

Power surged. And the heroes spang into action, not worrying about their hair, or lack of.

The little girl’s doll was stranded on the monkey bars.

But the superheroes were there to save her!

Rocco and his friends are TRUE superheroes – people who are brave in the face of danger, and people who care about other even if they don’t know them.

I really loved this book! It was so much fun!

The illustrations are AWESOME! They really captured the spirit of the book and of little Rocco.

The writing is smart, and super-charged!

Okay, I’ll admit, I’m a bit biased. I love John Rocco’s writing and illustrations! I think he’s genius!

But even if I wasn’t biased, Super Hair-o and the Barber of Doom is a book that boys and girls, both young and old will love!


Book of the Week: Doug Unplugged

Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino

Published: 2013 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

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

I like robots. And Doug is a robot!

Doug’s parents names are Rob Bot and Betty Bot. They are perfectly fitting for the blue and pink robot.

Just like most parents they want their little robot to be the smartest robot on he block. That’s why he’s plugged in and filled with knowledge and information.

Today’s particular lesson was about the city, and life within the city. Doug learned about things like: manholes, fire engines, trash cans, taxis, fire hydrants, subways, and even pigeons.

Doug looks quite content to be plugged in.

That is, until a pigeon shows up at Doug’s window – cooing and calling to him from the his own personal perch.

Doug has a real sense of curiosity. I love this aspect of him, and feel that author really captures a child’s natural sense of curiosity.

Doug wonders if he could learn in different ways. If he were to venture out into the wild city in which he lives would he learn more by experience?

Doug unplugged! And ventured into the city to explore and learn.

I love how this book shows that life and lessons are always surrounding us.

I love how Doug zips out the window, startling a flock of pigeons.

His first lesson was that if you fly into a flock, they get spooked and scatter.

The city is composed of many, many people. Different people, with different ideas and beliefs.

Doug discovers that the crowds make it difficult to see where you are going.

Flying isn’t Doug’s only mode of transportation – taking the subway is another. And he rides the subway like a seasoned pro.

Doug can fly higher than any pigeon he meets. So high, that he can see all of the city from where he was.

Some of the things Doug learned, unplugged: wet cement is squishy, sirens wail way too loudly, garbage is a smelly business, all sorts of things grow out of the cracks in the sidewalk, taxis will only stop if they are flagged down, and most of all part fountains make a perfect pool.

Doug’s downloaded lessons teach him a lot, but the one thing the lessons have never taught him is how to play.

But a little blue boy in the park teaches him all sorts of games like hide and seek, tag, sliding and swinging.

Doug also learns through his new little blue friend that friends help each other in time of need.

When the little blue boy realizes that he can’t find his parents, Doug flies his little friend high above the trees to help find his parents.

When Doug sees his friend hug his parents, he thinks about his own, and wants to hurry back to tell him all about his day in the city.

Doug’s best lesson of that day: “if you want to show your parents you love them, you should give them a great big hug. ”

I love how colorful this book is.

The illustrations are crisp, sharp, and really bring Doug to life.

The writing is strong and smart. It really is the reason why readers will flock to this book.

I love how this book is a book for everyone – it’s full of laugh out loud moments and moments of wonder and tenderness.


Book of the Week: The Great Lollipop Caper

The Great Lollipop Caper by Dan Krall

Published: 2013 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

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

I love how the title makes readers think this book is about something completely different from what it’s about.

Let me just say this: the main characters are a lollipop and a caper! So unique, and it really makes the book stand out from the get go!

The end pages really capture the personalities of both characters. The lollipop is jolly and inviting. While the caper is quite opposite: he’s unfriendly and a bit ticked off (but maybe he’s ticked off because he’s stuck in a sealed jar).

The caper isn’t just an average caper, he’s a FANCY capers. Okay, so he’s pickled! He’s still fancy.

Children do NOT like capers. It’s a known fact.

Children DO like lollipops though.

The book makes readers think about why Mr. Caper is so unliked and why Lollipop is, well, so loved.

The caper has dreams you know! He dreams of a world full of peace, a world full of people who love him and dislike lollipops.

But Mr. Caper isn’t disliked by all. Many, many people, who just happen to be adults, love Mr. Caper.

I love how this book shows that everyone is unique, and have unique tastes.

It isn’t enough to just be loved by adults!

Mr. Caper has a plan, one that is sure to make all of his dreams come true.

Capers can easily disguise themselves. A hat and black trench coat easily transforms this caper into a pea, a suspicious looking pea, but still a pea.

Mr. Caper’s plan is to infiltrate the lollipop factory.

I love how on the guards box there’s a “NO CAPER” sign posted. Just above that sign, is a sign illustrating that capers, are in fact, stinky creatures.

The security guard isn’t a great security guard. He cannot see though Mr. Caper’s very clever disguise.

The lollipop factory is full of lollipop batter … obviously.

The second part of Mr. Caper’s plan is to make all the new lollipops taste like capers.

It’s a genius plan, really it is!

This book shows how lollipops are made one place and then transported to places all over the world. Places like China, France, Egypt, and even Florida! Lollipops are universal.

Mr. Caper succeeded in transforming the lollipops, but did he succeed in transforming the children’s hearts? Do they love him just as much as the red Lollipop?

I love how this book is full of twists, turns, and mystery!

The kids really do seem to like the new caper flavored lollipops. Even if it turns them green and gives them crazy eyes.

Seeing Mr. Caper smile is great! Readers will see that he isn’t the bad guy, it’s just sad because he’s alone and unloved.

As soon as the kids taste the new flavored lollipops, they become as bitter and as sour as Mr. Caper was before his plan succeeded.

Even though Mr. Caper loves being loved by the children, he doesn’t like that he’s upset all the adults. One even calls him a “bad caper!”

Did Mr. Caper’s plan really succeed?

I love how this book shows readers (of all ages) that sometimes what you want, isn’t in fact, what you really want or need even.

Lollipop, as always is delightfully happy!

Mr. Caper thinks that everyone hates him. But that isn’t true. Lollipop likes him, and is his friend.

The Great Lollipop Caper really shows the power of friendship, and that if you have one true friend you have all you need!

Best friends can get you through anything. Even if your best friend is a lollipop.

Lollipop is really helpful. He knows exactly how to make everything better: he lets all the kids take a lick, turning them back into the sweet children they were BEFORE the caper flavored lollipops corrupted them.

Even though the kids were back to their normal, Lollipop loving selves, and the adults were no longer upset at the fancy caper, Mr. Caper still isn’t happy. Why? Because there’s nothing left to his one true friend, Lollipop.

Lollipop is VERY wise. In hopes to cheer up Mr. Caper, Lollipop says: “Sure, those kids love me now, but when they grow up, guess who they’re going to be crazy about?” And that’s the truth!

The Great Lollipop Caper is full of exceptional writing. Writing that isn’t only inviting, but it’s also whimsical.

Children and adults alike will surely love this book.

The Great Lollipop Caper will have readers laughing from the front to the back cover.

The illustrations! They are fantastic! So vibrant, so strong, and really drives the story along.

Both the illustrations and the writing evoke emotions in readers.

Author Dan Krall is a master of his craft, readers will easily recognize this.

This is a really fun book. And I think anyone who picks this book up will feel the same way.




Book of the Week: Betsy Red Hoodie

Betsy Red Hoodie by Gail Carson Levine Illustrated by Scott Nash

Published: 2010 by HarperCollins

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

The (front) endpapers are HYSTERICAL. They portray the flock of sheep dressed in hats, sporting guitars, and chatting among one another. I particularly love the little one who announces that he wants to be a wolf one day.

The sheep are convinced that one of their shepherds is a wolf in disguise.

Betsy is so excited to be “old enough” to go to Grandma’s house all by herself. This is a life changing moment.

But she worries what will happen to the sheep? She is a shepherd and her flock needs tending.

Zimmo, another shepherd, who looks suspiciously like a wolf – that is if wolves dressed in striped yellow pants, with a grey vest, and a yellow scarf.

He explains that Grandmas don’t like wolves. Especially since one was eaten by a wolf.

But Zimmo wouldn’t do such things.

On the way to Grandma’s house, Betsy, the flock of sheep, and Zimmo sing a doo wop song that consists of: “Waa paa Wooo! Baaa! Maahaa has! Do woppa woo!” Catchy isn’t it?

“Cows say mood. Is he a cow?”

Betsy fully believes that Zimmo is a good wolf, one who’s never hurt a human or a sheep. But he is eyeing those cupcakes!

Betsy and the sheep like to pick flowers.

Before arriving at Grandma’s house, Betsy is stopped by a lady hunter who warns her of the dangers of hanging out with a wolf.

Everyone but Betsy believes that he wolf is going to eat everyone and everything. I really love how this fact alone portrays the hope that lives within children, and that should live within adults.

Even the sheep start to turn on Zimmo. Especially when they see him licking his chops. They urge him to eat grass instead.

These are some chatty sheep!

“What do grandmas look like? They have big eyes, the better to see you with. THey have long arms, the better to hung you with. They are long in the tooth, the better to chew with.”

“What do wolves look like? They have big eyes, the better to see you with. They have long arms, the better to hug you with. They have long teeth. They look a lot like grandmas!”

Zimmo runs ahead of Betsy and the sheep. Making even the reader suspicious of his motives.

Betsy is having a hard time gaining control over her flock. One is sitting up in a tree, tweeting, pretending to be a bird. They others won’t move due to rain pouring down on them.

When they finally …. finally reach Grandma’s house Betsy’s suspicions are confirmed – she sees Zimmo and another wolf sneaking around, lurking really, around the house, trying to find a way in.

Scared and determined, Betsy rushes down the hill, and into Grandma’s house only to find a party – for her – in full swing.

Oh, that other wolf? It was Zimmo’s grandma!

I love how this book was suspense filled.

And how even though it’s a retelling of a favorite story, it’s unique and full of new surprises.

Betsy’s birthday party is great! When blowing out the candles on her pink iced cake she wishes for more good days just like the one she just had. Though the sheep have several theories on what her birthday wish really is: more sheep? for her yummy looking pink cake to turn into green grass? To be a sheep one day?

There are many morals to this story: “wolves are good for grandmas. Some wolves are grandmas.  Some grandmas are sheep? And some books never end.”

But I believe the best moral of this story is: not to be so judgmental and to trust your instincts.

I loved Betsy as a character! She’s honest, brave, and wears a spunky red hoodie!

The writing is spectacular! It’s not only strong, it’s fun!

Young readers and old readers alike will really enjoy discovering a new twist on an old tale.

The illustrations are great! They’re vibrant and are the perfect compliment to the text.