Review: A Day for Sandcastles

Title: A Day for Sandcastles
Author: JonArno Lawson, Qin Leng (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A dazzling wordless picture book celebrates creative problem-solving, teamwork, and the sun-splashed wonder of a day at the beach.

The creators of the acclaimed Over the Shop evoke a perfect summer beach day—and themes of creativity, cooperation, flexibility, and persistence—all without a word in this sun-warmed, salt-stained delight of a story. A busload of beachgoers spills out onto the sand for a day of fun and frolic. Three siblings begin work on a castle, patting and shaping the sand as the sun arcs over the sky. Time and again, their progress is halted: a windswept hat topples their creation; a toddler ambles through it; the tide creeps close, and then too close. Meeting each demolition with fresh determination, the builders outdo themselves time and again, until the moment arrives to pile back into the bus for home. An authentic portrait of sibling cooperation—and glorious inspiration for creative people of all ages—A Day for Sandcastles channels the thrill of surrendering expectations on the path to infinite possibility.

Review:

In this picture book, a family spends the day at the beach. Three siblings build a sandcastle, but things keep happening to destroy it over and over again. At the end of the day, the family packs up and leaves. 

This picture book didn’t have words on the page. I used to love picture books without words when I was a kid, because then I could make up the story myself. It can be different every time. The detailed images also depicted the people on the beach around the family, which shows that there is a larger world just beyond the story being told. 

A Day for Sandcastles is a beautiful picture book. 

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Hat Cat by Troy Wilson, Eve Coy (illustrator)

Have you read A Day for Sandcastles? What did you think of it?

Review: Esme’s Birthday Conga Line

Title: Esme’s Birthday Conga Line
Author: Lourdes Heuer, Marissa Valdez
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 10, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Esme always has a plan. A funny and sweet early illustrated chapter book about a problem-solving girl who has to manage her own birthday bash. For fans of Dory Fantasmagory.

Esme lives with her grandparents on the uppermost floor of the topmost best building. It’s her birthday. Mimi and Pipo gave her a beautiful guitar. But they didn’t plan a birthday party.

Esme thinks this is the way with grandparents. They don’t know about parties or piñatas or birthday cake. No problem! Esme is great at problem solving.

With a little help of her cat, El Toro, and a LOT of help from her neighbors in the topmost best building, the irrepressible Esme gets the birthday party of her dreams.

Review:

Esme lives with her grandparents on the uppermost floor of the topmost best building. They gave her a guitar for her birthday but they didn’t plan a party for her. So Esme, with her cat El Toro, decides to make her own birthday party by making a piñata, baking a cake, and inviting everyone who lives in the building, even the grumpy superintendent!

This is an adorable early chapter book about an independent little girl. When Esme didn’t get the party she wanted, she decided to make it happen. Though she made the plans to do everything, the rest of her guests from the building helped her with each step. 

I liked that Esme lived in an unconventional household, living only with her grandparents. They didn’t understand that Esme wanted a party for her birthday, so this shows one issue that can arise from an unconventional family situation. It’s important to have diverse representation of different cultures and family structures, so that all children can see themselves in books and all children can learn all family lifestyles. 

Esme’s Birthday Conga Line is an adorable children’s book. 

Thank you Tundra Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Your Birthday Was the Best by Maggie Hutchings, Felicita Sala

Have you read Esme’s Birthday Conga Line? What did you think of it?

Review: Hat Cat

Title: Hat Cat
Author: Troy Wilson, Eve Coy (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: February 8, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When Hat the cat’s doting human friend doesn’t come home for a while, will a young visitor offer the lonely kitty a taste of freedom? A gentle, touching story for cat lovers of all ages.

Ever since the old man found a little kitten under his hat, the two have been the best of friends. There are always plenty of kitty rubs and food and talk to go around. Every day, Hat watches as the old man goes outside to sit and feed the squirrels with nuts he places on top of his hat. But Hat the cat is not allowed to join him. What if Hat ran away, or chased the squirrels–or worse? Then the old man leaves and does not come back the next day, or the one after that. When people come by to take care of Hat until the old man returns, will one little girl give Hat the chance he’s been hoping for? Troy Wilson’s tender prose, along with Eve Coy’s charmingly detailed illustrations, brings readers a sweet story about companionship, love, and trust.

Review:

One day, while an old man was feeding squirrels in his yard, he found a kitten in his hat. He named the kitten Hat and took him inside. However, he wouldn’t let the kitten back outside because he was worried that Hat would get hurt or lost. Then the old man disappeared. Hat had to adjust to the new people who visited to look after him, and possibly go outside again. 

This was an adorable picture book. I love cats! My family has just brought a kitten into our home, but we’ve looked after outdoor cats in our yard for many years. I could understand the kitten’s desire to go outside, because our outdoor cats love exploring the yard!

My heart broke a little when the old man disappeared from Hat’s life. I felt so bad for the kitten because he didn’t know where the man went. We’ve lost many cats and kittens in the years that we’ve looked after so I know how devastating it can be when the cats lose someone close to them and they don’t understand. Luckily, the man and the cat were eventually reunited. 

Hat Cat is a beautiful story for cat lovers!

Thank you Candlewick Press for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Cone Cat by Sarah Howden, Carmen Mok

Have you read Hat Cat? What did you think of it?

Review: How to High Tea with a Hyena (And Not Get Eaten)

Title: How to High Tea with a Hyena (And Not Get Eaten)
Author: Rachel Poliquin, Kathryn Durst (illustator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 5, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Celeste is a cockroach, and everyone knows that cockroaches are survivors, so who better to give advice on surviving an encounter with a polite predator? High teas are dainty meals with pretty teacups: you nibble tiny cakes, sip milky tea, and chit-chat about not-so important things like why doughnuts have holes and if fish have eyebrows. But Ruby the hyena is loud, ferocious, and tends to slobber. High-speed gobbling makes good sense in the wild, but it is a definite no-no in the tearoom! And Ruby just happens to be Queen of a very large clan of hungry hyenas. Will high tea be ruined by uninvited guests? Is Ruby peckish for something other than Celeste’s famous cream buns? Using her vast knowledge of hyenas, Celeste comes up with lots of strategies to get through high tea in one piece. Many of her suggestions are dangerous, most are absurd, but all are based on true hyena biology and hunting behavior.

Review:

In this book, Celeste the cockroach teaches how to survive having high tea with a hyena. She explains how to politely eat snacks and drink tea while having time to gossip. However, hyenas can’t learn these skills very well. Celeste has some strategies on how to interact with these polite predators. 

This was an adorable and funny story. I learned a lot about hyenas that I didn’t know before. I’d never heard of an aardwolf (a type of hyena) or that hyenas can’t climb so other predators hide their food in trees, away from hyenas. 

This story was funny in the way the hyena couldn’t behave politely during the high tea, but it was also a good teaching tool. The hyena shows how we shouldn’t behave in polite situations, so that will teach children what’s right and wrong during events like having high tea. It’s ironic that a cockroach, an insect associated with being dirty, was the one teaching about polite behaviour.

How to High Tea with a Hyena is a fun children’s book!

Thank you Tundra Books for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

How to Promenade with a Python (And Not Get Eaten) by Rachel Poliquin, Kathryn Durst (illustrator)

The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and LeUyen Pham (illustrator)

Other books in the series:

  • How to Promenade with a Python (And Not Get Eaten)

Have you read How to High Tea with a Hyena? What did you think of it?

Review: Your Birthday Was the Best!

Title: Your Birthday Was the Best!
Author: Maggie Hutchings, Felicita Sala
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 22, 2022
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The story of an eager cockroach who gate-crashes a birthday party — with hilarious results. For fans of I Don’t Want to Be a Frog.

It’s your birthday, and little do you know that an unwelcome guest has joined in on the festivities. A friendly cockroach has snuck undetected into the house, and has proceeded to join in on all of your fun party games. You were so excited to finally spot him napping on top of your birthday cake, having eaten his fill, that you couldn’t help but scream! You think he’s gone when your dad sucks him up in the vacuum cleaner . . . but with a birthday party this good, he’s going to be nearly impossible to keep away!

This laugh-out-loud picture book from bestselling author Maggie Hutchings and acclaimed illustrator Felicita Sala is the perfect birthday gift for young readers.

Review:

A cockroach was watching a boy’s birthday party from outside of his house. He decided to go inside and join in the festivities. After all the games, the cockroach fell asleep on the cake, and was vacuumed up by the boy’s father. But he wouldn’t give up on the party that easily, so he found his way back inside.

This book’s release day is my birthday, so I thought I was meant to read it! The idea of having a cockroach at your birthday party is quite gross. The kids at the party were scared of it, but the cockroach thought they were screaming in excitement. It was cute the way he misinterpreted what they were doing, but it’s hard to get over the gross factor of the story.

Your Birthday Was the Best was a cute children’s book, but it doesn’t make me want to invite a cockroach to my party!

Thank you Tundra Books for providing a copy of this book.

Megabat and the Not-Happy Birthday by Anna Humphrey, Kass Reich

Have you read Your Birthday Was the Best!? What did you think of it?

Review: Crocodile Hungry

Title: Crocodile Hungry
Author: Eija Sumner, John Martz
Genre: Picture Book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 15, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A hilarious story about a hungry and hapless crocodile, for fans of How to Give Your Cat a Bath and I Want My Hat Back.

Crocodile hungry.

What can crocodile eat?

Canned ham? Too hard to open.
Beef jerky? Gets stuck in teeth.
Eggs? Bite shell, get toothache.

Crocodile must find food. But where?

Though crocodile is surrounded by food, he doesn’t know it. He’s used to food coming in packages and boxes and in handy tins. Will the hungry crocodile figure it out?

Readers big and little will laugh out loud at the simple but hysterical text and illustrations by debut author Eija Sumner and cartoonist (and now resident crocodile expert) John Martz.

Review:

Crocodile is hungry. But when he goes to the farmer’s market, the grocery store, or the community garden, everyone runs away and he can’t get any food. He cries so much that he creates a pond of tears, which attracts other animals. He finally figures out how to solve his hunger!

This was such a cute picture book. The crocodile is used to eating human food, but he can’t get any from people because they’re scared of him. The irony was that he was looking for the human food, not to eat the humans like they thought.

The ending was cute too. It seems like the crocodile was going to eat the animals that were attracted to his pond, but he actually had another idea at the end. This twist ending will be entertaining to young readers!

Crocodile Hungry is an adorable picture book!

Thank you Tundra Books for providing a copy of this book.

What Does Little Crocodile Say? by Eva Montanari

Have you read Crocodile Hungry? What did you think of it?

Review: Happy Narwhalidays (Narwhal and Jelly #5)

Title: Happy Narwhalidays (Narwhal and Jelly #5)
Author: Ben Clanton
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 8, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Narwhal and Jelly spread some holiday cheer (and warm waffle pudding)!

It’s the festive season in the world wide waters, and Narwhal is looking forward to cozying up with a good book, singing and partying with his pod pals and enjoying some warm waffle pudding. But most of all he’s excited about the arrival of the Merry Mermicorn! According to Narwhal, she’s part mermaid, part unicorn and completely mer-aculous! Jelly is of course skeptical about the existence of the “Mira-Miny-What-A Corn” . . . even when he receives a mysterious present. It must be from Narwhal. Now Jelly has to get the perfect gift, but finding a present for someone as unique as Narwhal is no easy feat, even when you have six tentacles. How will Jelly ever come up with a whaley great gift for a best pal who spreads cheer all through the year?

Review:

It’s winter and Narwhal and Jelly are ready to celebrate! Narwhal is excited to await the arrival of the Merry Mermicorn. She’s part mermaid and part unicorn, and she delivers gifts. Jelly has never heard of her and doesn’t think she’s real. When Jelly gets a mysterious gift, he suspects it’s from Narwhal so he has to find the perfect gift for his cheerful and festive best friend.

I love the Narwhal and Jelly books! Narwhal has a cheerful innocence, while Jelly is suspicious of everything. They balance each other out and try to teach each other about new things.

There were some cute water inspired festive songs and sayings in the story. The Merry Mermicorn was like Santa Claus. They sang songs like “Jingle Shells” and “We Fish You a Merry Mermicorn.” The Turtle and Shelly even went to light a “minnow-orah.”

Happy Narwhalidays is an adorable holiday children’s book!

Thank you Tundra Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Narwhal’s Otter Friend by Ben Clanton

Narwhal’s School of Awesomeness by Ben Clanton

Other books in the series:

Have you read Happy Narwhalidays? What did you think of it?

Review: We Are One: How the World Adds Up

Title: We Are One: How the World Adds Up
Author: Susan Hood, Linda Yan (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book, Nonfiction
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: October 26, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts–and unity and connection are most important of all–in a beautifully illustrated counting book with a timely message. 

One can be one thing all on its own–one star, one stream, one stick, one stone. But those on their toes, those using their smarts, know one can be more than the sum of its parts.

Consider the two slices of bread that make up one sandwich, or the three lines of poetry that form one haiku, or even the ten years that form one decade. From one to ten, from sandwiches to centuries, every part is necessary to the whole. In this fascinating concept book, a simple rhyming narration aimed at younger children is complemented by informational panels about subjects like the four compass points, the five acts in Shakespeare, the seven colors of a rainbow, or the nine innings in baseball. Award-winning author Susan Hood and debut children’s book illustrator Linda Yan offer a mind-expanding look at early math concepts such as part/whole relationships, fractions, and addition–while underlying themes of cooperation, peace, and kindness make this beautiful volume one to be enjoyed by anyone at any age.

Review:

The world is made up of “ones.” You can have one stick, but a bunch of sticks makes one pile. Many other numbers can create one too. Two slices of bread make one sandwich. Seven colours make one rainbow. This picture book explains the way that numbers, and especially the number one, make up the whole world.

This was a fascinating book. The world is made up of the same numbers. Things found in nature and man-made things all consist of numbers. There were examples from around the world, such as Haiku poems from Japan (one poem with three lines) and Shakespeare plays from England (one play with five acts).

The story was told in rhyming lines that were illustrated on the page. Each page also had more in depth details about the history of what was mentioned on the page. For example, it explained how Braille is made up of six dots in different formations to create the language, and how the seasons come from the way the Earth tilts as it circles the sun. These facts could be interesting for some older children who would also like this book.

We Are One is a beautiful and educational picture book!

Thank you Candlewick Press and Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

When Elephants Listen With Their Feet by Emmanuelle Grundmann, Clémence Dupont

Double Take!: A New Look at Opposites by Susan Hood, Jay Fleck (illustrator)

Have you read We Are One? What did you think of it?

Review: The Yuckiest Lunch Box

Title: The Yuckiest Lunch Box
Author: Debbie Min, Wafiq Sehat (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Debbie Min
Source: Author
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 26, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When Nari brings her traditional Asian lunch to her school, she doesn’t expect her classmates’ reaction… “Pee-yoo! It smells like someone farted!” 

Feeling embarrassed and rejected, she asks her mother to make her American lunches from now on, only to discover that what makes her different is actually her strength! 

In this multicultural story of belonging and acceptance, Nari faces cultural differences, and learns to proudly embrace the beauty of her culture. 

“The Yuckiest Lunch Box” is a fun and unique diversity and inclusion story that shows the importance of looking beyond cultural differences and accepting one another, no matter where we’re from. This empowering and uplifting tale encourages young children to be proud of where they come from, and be curious about their heritage. 

A must-read for all children! Ages 5-8

Review:

When Nari starts school, she brings a traditional Korean lunch. She didn’t expect the other children to make fun of the smell and look of the food. It hurts Nari’s feelings so much that she asks her mom to only make an American lunch for her to bring to school. Then, they have a multicultural day at school, so Nari has to bring traditional food and wear Korean clothing. The other children realize that everyone comes from a different culture and that we should be proud of our heritages.

The schools I went to were very multicultural. My friends all came from different backgrounds. There were always a variety of foods in the lunch room from all around the world, so I remember everyone eating different kinds of food at lunch.

It was so sad to see how upset Nari was when her classmates made fun of her food. The multicultural day was important because it taught the kids that everyone has a different culture, but that’s a good thing. Once they tried Nari’s food and learned how delicious it was, they no longer called it gross. It’s important not to make snap judgements and think that something is bad or gross just because it’s different from what you know.

The Yuckiest Lunch Box is a great picture book!

Thank you Debbie Min for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

The Case of the Loathsome School Lunches by Angie Lake

Have you read The Yuckiest Lunch Box? What did you think of it?

Review: Narwhal’s School of Awesomeness (Narwhal and Jelly #6)

Title: Narwhal’s School of Awesomeness (Narwhal and Jelly #6)
Author: Ben Clanton
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 7, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Narwhal and Jelly become the coolest teachers in the world wide waters in the hilarious sixth book of this blockbuster graphic novel series!

Dive into four new stories about Narwhal and Jelly becoming substitute teachers! The two best friends come across an enthusiastic school of fish one morning. Unfortunately, Mr. Blowfish, their teacher, has come down with a cold, and class will have to be cancelled . . . until Professor Knowell (Narwhal) and Super Teacher (Jelly) volunteer to help out! The first subject is Wafflematics, in which Narwhal and Jelly calculate the number of waffles needed to feed the class. That’s what we’re chalking about! Next up is a super-fun science scavenger hunt, followed by a game of Tag! You’re Awesome! at recess. Narwhal’s teaching methods may be unconventional, but with Jelly’s help, the two teach (and learn) with their trademark positivity and humor. Before they know it, the day is over . . . but what grade will Narwhal receive from Jelly?

Review:

Narwhal and Jelly see a group of fish swimming one day, so they decide to follow them. The fish are going to school, but their teacher, Mr. Blowfish, is sick and can’t teach. Narwhal becomes Professor Knowell and teaches them for the day. They do all the important school activities, such as Wafflematics and a science scavenger hunt. Narwhal has unique teaching skills but he gets the job done.

Narwhal and Jelly books are so much fun! The two friends, Narwhall and Jelly, meet many different sea creatures in every book. I learned some sea facts, such as that a group of oysters is called a bed, and that a male seahorse can give birth to 1,000 babies at once. I love that I can learn these fun facts in a kid’s book.

This story was funny because of the differences in Narwhal’s and Jelly’s personalities. Narwhal is very carefree and innocent. He doesn’t understand everything so he often makes things up as he goes along. Jelly likes to follow rules, but he’s getting better at going along with Narwhal’s ideas. Jelly usually has to explain things to Narwhal in the story. Their different personalities make these situations so funny.

Narwhal’s School of Awesomeness is such a fun kid’s book!

Thank you Tundra Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Happy Narwhalidays by Ben Clanton

Megabat by Anna Humphrey, Kass Reich

Other books in the series:

Have you read Narwhal’s School of Awesomeness? What did you think of it?