Welcome, Baby! Karen Katz. 2019. 14 pages. [Source: Library] [Board book] First sentence: When you came home, we dressed you in the softest...pajamas. Premise/plot: Karen Katz is a prolific writer of books for the very young, for babies. This board book ...

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"Young Readers" - 5 new articles

  1. 13. Welcome, Baby!
  2. 12. The Crayons' Christmas
  3. 11. Keeper of the Lost Cities
  4. 10. The Bad Guys: The Baddest Day Ever
  5. 9. Pig the Tourist
  6. More Recent Articles

13. Welcome, Baby!

Welcome, Baby! Karen Katz. 2019. 14 pages. [Source: Library] [Board book]

First sentence: When you came home, we dressed you in the softest...pajamas.

Premise/plot: Karen Katz is a prolific writer of books for the very young, for babies. This board book with flaps is for parents to share with little ones as they perhaps look back on when Baby was very new. The text is simple, near timeless, but perhaps not universal. (For example, not every baby will be fed a bottle upon arriving home. No doubt some will. But not all. Every baby will need burping and diapering. But this book doesn’t go there!)

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I did. I think it would be great to share with your little one on your lap. Parents can read the text and perhaps elaborate with stories of their own to make the story more personal. The story is sweet.


© 2020 Becky Laney of Young Readers

12. The Crayons' Christmas

The Crayons' Christmas. Drew Daywalt. Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers. 2019. 52 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book; Christmas; Novelty]

First sentence: One snowy December day, Duncan was making Christmas cards with his crayons when the mail carrier brought a letter, only it wasn’t for him...

Premise/plot: As a novelty Christmas book this one offers a good time, especially if your little one already loves Duncan’s crayons. It offers several built in activities: peach crayon paper doll with wardrobe, a game board, punch out Christmas ornaments, a dreidel to assemble, etc. The crayons receive a good amount of mail and a box of decorations is fetched from the attic.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I did. I recognize it for what it is—a novelty holiday themed read—not exactly great literature. The story is flimsy at best. But all the activities are cute. I loved the “recipe” that Beige receives from his parents for gluten free cookies. (Beige is now intolerant of gluten because he’s colored in too much wheat.) The first step is to go to the store and buy gluten free cookies. But there are four more steps.

Text: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Total: 6/10

© 2020 Becky Laney of Young Readers

11. Keeper of the Lost Cities

Keeper of the Lost Cities. Shannon Messenger. 2012. 496 pages. [Source: Library] [MG Fiction. MG Fantasy. MG Speculative Fiction, J Fantasy, J Speculative Fiction]

First sentence: Blurry, fractured memories swam through Sophie’s mind, but she couldn’t piece them together. She tried opening her eyes and found only darkness.

Premise/plot: Sophie, our heroine, has spent her life—all twelve years—trying to be invisible, stay invisible. This isn’t easy since she’s a prodigy—a senior in high school at age 12. But on a class field trip she’s mesmerized by a stranger and his message to her. His name is Fitz and—like her—he’s an elf. She may live with humans, been raised by humans, but she’s an elf and belongs with her own kind. Surprise! Sophie believes him realizing all the zillions of clues in her life pointing to how she’s not like her parents, her sister, or even her classmates. Of course she’s an elf!!! So away to a lost city and elf school she goes...her life may never be the same. But her gifts may not protect her from those that wish her harm. (She’s a telepath.)

My thoughts: As an adult who has read hundreds of middle grade fantasy novels this one has a same same feel to it. This isn’t terrible, especially if you’re in the target audience. If you enjoy this one there are literally dozens of other series that are similar. You can move from one series to the next, enjoying them all immensely. No doubt this one is enjoyable and entertaining. Plenty of humor, a dash or two of suspense, a sprinkling of surprises. I didn’t love, love, love it as an adult reader. But I definitely liked it. Just not as much as say The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I would recommend it to kids.

© 2020 Becky Laney of Young Readers

10. The Bad Guys: The Baddest Day Ever

The Bad Guys: The Baddest Day Ever (#10) Aaron Blabey. 2019. [December] 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Early chapter book; Graphic Novel; Animal fantasy]

First sentence: That’s lovely.

Premise/plot: Question: Should readers be able to pick up any book in a series and make at least some sense of it. Should they be able to grasp at who the main characters are, how they relate to each other, and what the general plot of this specific book is?! This book is the tenth in the series. I couldn’t tell you anything about the characters—though my guess is that it is a team of somethings (could not for the life of me tell you what animal/creature any is supposed to be). Nor could I tell you anything about the plot with the exception that a character named Snake is dead and then not dead?!

My thoughts: Answer: I think good writers make an effort with each series book to help readers out. Even a little effort is a good thing. Because the truth is readers don’t always read books in a series in order. Even if they’ve read book one in a series, they may pick up book seven or eight next. It might be a case of what books are on the library shelf—either school or public. The more popular a series, the greater the chance that the books won’t be able to be checked out in order. Even if readers have read most if not all the books in the series, time might have elapsed between books. If it has been months even a year since reading the last book, readers can start a series a bit fuzzy with only a vague recall of what happened last. Recaps can be woven into many books seamlessly or near so. This book is a total fail in my opinion.

This one will appeal to fans of the series who have read the previous books and who enjoy the graphic novel style.

As an introduction to the series it is a terrible.

© 2020 Becky Laney of Young Readers

9. Pig the Tourist

Pig the Tourist. (Pig the Pug #7) Aaron Blabey. 2020. [February] 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Animal fantasy; picture book]

First sentence: Pig was a pug and I’m sorry to say, when he went on vacation he’d cause great dismay.

Premise/plot: Pig the Pug has his own series. It is a long series. Blabey is kept busy writing this and other series. The story is written in rhyme. In this adventure, Pig causes trouble, trouble, and more trouble.

My thoughts: I am not a fan of the series. I think the illustrations keep me from actually enjoying the books. The text is enjoyable enough. For little ones that do love the series, that do love dogs, that do like comic mischief...this one will probably be a hit.

Text: 4/5
Total: 5/10

© 2020 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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