Book Review

Run for Your Life!: Predators and Prey on the African Savanna by Lola Schaefer

Run For Your Life book cover: illustration of a zebra running from 2 hyenasIt's a real-life game of hide-and-seek.”

The savannah animals are sleeping under the big night sky as this day-in-the-life story begins and ends. In between, each two-page spread shows and names a specific African pedator and its prey as they run in pursuit and in fear. The watercolors are engaging, the animals a bit cartoonish with hungry and/or fearful eyes. The simple text builds and maintains a sense of excitement with distinct action verbs; the animals don't run but spring, bound, swoop, hop, lunge, and trot.

Readers from 4 to 94 will enjoy this quick read, either as a lap-sit or shared with a group, Older kids and adults will appreciate the detailed back matter, a brief explanation of camoflauge and speed and a list of the animals and their average sprint speeds. (Note: the real-life gore, killing and flesh consumption is only implied, not depicted nor discussed.)

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Mary Jo, Kids World

The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers

The Girl in the Well is Me book cover: from point of view of someone in well, the brocks circle around the cover showing a blue sky in the open circle and the silhouettes of three girls looking down"Where are You?... YOU GUYS. Don't leave me!"

Kammie's life is in turmoil. Her family (minus her father) just moved to a new town, her brother is angry all the time, and she has to share an ugly orange room with him. Without anything familiar and comforting to hang onto, Kammie is desparate to fit in, and three girls have taken advantage of it. The story opens with an "initiation" into a fake club. The girls' trick  goes horribly wrong and Kammie is trapped in an old well, hurt, and alone.

The story unfolds from Kammie's perspective. The combination of hallucinations, memories, and facts makes the otherwise basic plot complex and enthralling. The sense of danger is heightened as Kammie loses more of reality and begins to ramble. This emotional ride is one you can hardly put down as the ending often seems uncertain. Perfect for upper elementary school readers who are looking for a quick read with a satisfying depth.
This book will also serve well as a great discussion into bullying.

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Celeste, Kids World

Where's the Elephant? by Barroux

Where's the Elephant? book cover scene of the forest with various animals hidden among the leaves“Where's the elephant?
Where's the parrot?
Where's the snake?”

Take a look at the big, colorful forest and do your best to find the elephant, the parrot, and the snake. With each turn of the page, the forest shrinks smaller and smaller as the encroaching buildings grow taller and taller. With no forest left to hide behind, the trio of animals find themselves trapped behind the bars of a zoo. Will the animals ever be free again, or will the new city hold them hostage in its concrete jungle? And what will become of the earth without its forests?

Mimicking a search and find format, this title features brightly colored painted illustrations that grow starker as the animals' freedom becomes more and more limited. Serving as a wonderful jumping off point for discussions on the environment and deforestation, this title is recommended for all readers in preschool through approximately first grade, especially for animal lovers and budding environmentalist.

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Brittany, Kids World

Paper Wishes by Lois Sepahban

Paper Wishes book cover: a girl with hand up watching a sheet of paper flyingJapan has just bombed Pearl Harbor. This single action is the spark that forces thousands of Japanese American citizens from their homes to internment camps. Ten year old Minami has to leave her island home and everything behind to go to the mainland camp. There is so much she has to leave behind, even her beloved dog Yujiin. Unwilling to leave Yujiin Manimi desperately attempts to sneak him into the camp but right when they reach the mainland he is disovered. Racked with guilt of Yujiin being abandoned leaves Manimi unable speak for many months. With only paper and pencil Manimi attempts to convey her wishes on paper and sends them on the wind for Yujiin to find them. This is a story of forgiveness, overcoming obstacles and a time in history not so far away from where we are now.

This book may appeal to kids in grades 4-6 who enjoy historical fiction, WWII homefront stories, and books about dogs.

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Tiffany, Kids World

A Midsummer Night's Dream: A Fairies Primer by Jennifer Adams

A Midsummer Night's Dream a fairy primer book cover: a fairy lies on her stomach on a crescent moon"There sleeps Titania sometime of the night, lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight;"

Beginning readers can meet the fairies of Shakespeare's famous play, A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Filled with bright and whimsical digital artwork and some famous quotes in Shakespeare's original wording,
this sturdy board book is the perfect size for one on one reading sessions.

A good choice for literary parents who want to introduce the classics early, those who need a quiet book before
bed or anyone who needs just a touch of magic in their everyday reading.

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Jennifer, Kids World

Horrible Bear! By Ame Dyckman

Horrible Bear“Bear got an idea. It was a Horrible Bear idea.”

Mistakes are easy for anyone to make, and I mean anyone. A young girl and a bear cross paths through a misunderstanding, leading them to both think the other to be horrible. But is that really the truth?

Parents will love the social skills that ‘Horrible Bear’ teaches in a fun and engaging way. From making a mistake, to saying sorry, it also covers what to do when accidents happen and how to mend relationships. Very young readers will enjoy reading parts of the book aloud with their adult, there is plenty of opportunity to yell ‘Horrible Bear!’ or ‘RAWR!’ together for added fun.

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Naomi, Kids World

Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine

Paper Cowboy book cover: setting or rising sun skyline with shadow of boy on bicycleDealing with a sister hospitalized by an event you could have prevented and mother whose temper is unpredictable and unwieldy is hard. But it’s 1953 in Downers Grove and, on top of everything else, the Cold War is heating up. After finding a communist newspaper in the trash, Tommy is determined to prove that his neighbor is involved in communist activity using the paper route he works in his sister’s stead. Finding the truth might be harder to handle than Tommy ever realized.

Readers in grades 4 through 6 who enjoy mystery, history, and a little bit of sweet home Chicago pride will enjoy this saga by the notable author of Lions of Little Rock and The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had.

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Brittany, Kids World

Shhh! This Book is Sleeping! by Cedric Ramadier

Shh! This Book is Sleeping book cover: a blue cover with closed eyes, a nose, and a softly smiling mouth drawn on it"There. It's asleep! Close the book very gently... Good night!"

This board book is perfect to help a toddler wind down from the day. Step by step, the child is encouraged by a mouse to lead "the book" through the bedtime regime: brushing teeth to going to the bathroom to getting one last goodnight kiss.

Read with a slow, soft voice and you might just have a sleepy toddler ready to be tucked into bed at the end of the book.

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Celeste, Kids World

Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers

written and drawn by henrietta book cover: a child is drawing people as a cat looks on“A box of colored pencils is as close as you can get to owning a piece of the rainbow.”

Meet Henrietta, a girl with a boundless imagination and, today, a new deluxe set of colored pencils. Immediately, of course, she begins to draw and write her own story while narrating her creative thought process to her cat, Fellini. Her adventure “book” is delightfully amateur and her internal dialogue wonderfully natural and childlike.

I hope that young readers in grades 1-3 will find this and other clever stories in our Graphic Novel section, where, I worry, they get lost among the superheroes and other pop culture stuff. Young creative types will relate to Henrietta’s simple delight in making it up as she goes along, being surprised by her own ideas and, of course, writing herself into the action.

Parents and teachers: Please read “How to Read Comics with Kids” in the back of the book and take a look at the wealth of engaging resources at toon-books.com (including read-along books that can be “read” or subtitled in many languages).

Mary Jo, Kids World

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The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

Seventh Most Important THing book cover: seven light bulbs hanging down from wires, two of which are brokenWhen Arthur T. Owens throws a rock at the strange, neighborhood Junk Man’s arm, he doesn’t anticipate hitting him in the head. Or that the Junk Man himself will save him from juvenile detention. By completing 120 hours of community service collecting what the Junk Man calls “The 7 Most Important Things,” Arthur learns a little about following and finding direction, a lot about himself, and even more about there being more to most people than meets the eye.
Hand to readers in 5th or 6th grade who like tales based in truth (like The Marvels by Brian Selznick) or those who might be looking for a way to achieve redemption themselves.

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Brittany, Kids World

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