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All the latest reviews from the official YABC Team.

Kid Review: The Spark That Started It All (Transformers: EarthSpark) by Maggie Testa

May 24th, 2024 by

 

About This Book:

Transformers: EarthSpark is an all-new kids animated series from Nickelodeon and Hasbro’s Entertainment Studio eOne introducing the first Transformers bots to be born on Earth, now airing!

 

A brother-sister duo discovers the secret world of Transformers in this 8×8 storybook based on the first two episodes of the series!

When Robby and his sister, Mo, move from Philadelphia to the small rural town of Witwicky, Pennsylvania, they are devastated. That is, until they realize their new home is also the birthplace of the first-ever Earth-born Transformers bots: Terrans Twitch and Thrash! And when getting to know the Terrans brings Robby and Mo to the attention of other mysterious threats in their new home, their adventures are only just beginning.

TRANSFORMERS © 2023 Hasbro. Transformers: EarthSpark TV series © 2023 Hasbro/Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

*Review Contributed By Cherokee Crum, Staff Reviewer*

Another great Transformers Adaptation

The Spark that Started it All was a fun Transformers read!

We meet Thrash and Twitch in this adaptation, which goes into more detail than the Ready to Read version!
It was fun to see them again on this thrilling adventure; being “born,” attempting to transform, and of course meeting Optimus Prime.

The Spark That Started it All is more lengthy than my six year old wanted to sit through, but the awesome illustrations helped him focus. They are taken right from the new T.V. show (as well as some from the original show).

I really like that they tied in the original Auotbots with the new! Being able to share something from my childhood with my kids, but with fresh characters has been a blas

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

Kid Review: Chompy Has a Friend for Lunch by Mark Satterthwaite

May 24th, 2024 by

 

About This Book:

Can kids and monsters become friends? Adorable monster Chompy REALLY wants to find out in this hilarious interactive picture book!
Hi! I’m Chompy! Thanks for having a playdate with me! Yes, I’m a monster. And monsters SOMETIMES eat people. But not me! I only want to be FRIENDS. And you’re so FUN! Will you be my friend? But…what smells so delicious? GASP! Is it YOU? Uh oh…
Readers of all ages will enjoy this interactive, hilarious picture book featuring friendly monster Chompy! Give Chompy high-fives on fold-out pages. But what happens when Chompy smells something delicious…and the book becomes Chompy?! Will you let Chompy’s fold-out tongue have a little lick of your elbow? What about a nibble of your nose? Keep turning the pages for a surprise ending…and a big fold-out hug from your newest monster friend! 

Perfect for fans of There’s a Monster at the End of this Book, Mo Willems’ Pigeon books, the Who’s in Your Book series, or the Don’t Push the Button series, this silly and sweet picture book is sure to make reading time burst with giggles, squeals, and snuggles!

*Review Contributed By Connie Reid, Staff Reviewer*

Interactive Book

can absolutely see how much fun a Toddler-Preschool child will have reading this interactive book. Chompy has never eaten a human but you smell awfully good. He takes a little lick and sniff and realizes he does not think you are appetizing but can be great friends instead. The illustrations are bubbly and cartoonish and the lift the flap interactions are on point for this age group. It is sure to hold the attention of young readers and make them want to read again and again. This book is perfect for those who like not-so-scary monsters and an interactive book.

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

Middle-Grade Review: What Is the Story of Romeo and Juliet? by Max Bisantz

May 24th, 2024 by

 

About This Book:

 

Who HQ brings you the stories behind the most well-known characters of our time.

 

Discover the origins of one of literature’s most famous couples, Romeo and Juliet, and their creator, William Shakespeare, in this fun and informative addition to the What Is the Story Of? series.

In 1597, Shakespeare debuted his newest play, a tragedy about a young Italian couple whose families were sworn enemies. Romeo and Juliet quickly became one of the most famous couples in literary history, and this play became one of Shakespeare’s most performed shows. But did you know that much of Romeo and Juliet’s story was adapted from tales by other writers? Learn all about how William Shakespeare’s dynamic and romantic teenage duo sprouted from the Italian story of The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet in 1562 and grew into adaptions like West Side Story and even Gnomeo & Juliet in this nonfiction book for young readers

 

*Review Contributed By Cherokee Crum, Staff Reviewer*

Informative and Intriguing

 

There’s quite a bit to unpack in Bisantz’s story covering the history of Romeo and Juliet.

We receive a history lesson, a biography of William Shakespeare, and coverage of the multiple iterations of Romeo and Juliet that exist, plus additional school-type lessons. I honestly had no idea that Romeo and Juliette was essential a retelling, a few times over. Shakespeare’s version is by far the most famous and well known version.

We receive many lessons about Shakespeare’s life before he became a writer/poet, as well as history lessons about Queen Elizabeth I and the Bubonic Plague. We also learn about different types of poetry used Shakespeare used in his plays.
These “lessons” are like an aside in the middle of the chapter. I feel this makes the reading a bit clunky and suited more for older readers that can focus on more than one plot at a time.
I feel the author was pushing Romeo and Juliet as romantic love story too much, but at the same time I can understand that being more palatable for younger audiences.

The illustrations are basic black ink, like one would find in a news paper. They are beautiful in their simplicity, A far cry from the cover image, which I personally found a bit off putting.

What Is the Story of Romeo and Juliet? would be great for elementary or intermediate age students interested in learning about the featured person/topic and to help prepare them for the more challenging reading to come, in this case Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

YA Review: The Magician’s Daughter (H. G. Parry)

May 24th, 2024 by

About This Book:

In the early 1900s, a young woman is caught between two worlds in H. G. Parry’s cozy tale of magic, miracles, and an adventure of a lifetime.

Off the coast of Ireland sits a legendary island hidden by magic. A place of ruins and ancient trees, sea salt air, and fairy lore, Hy-Brasil is the only home Biddy has ever known. Washed up on its shore as a baby, Biddy lives a quiet life with her guardian, the mercurial magician Rowan. A life she finds increasingly stifling.

One night, Rowan fails to return from his mysterious travels. To find him, Biddy must venture into the outside world for the first time. But Rowan has powerful enemies—forces who have hoarded the world’s magic and have set their sights on the magician’s many secrets.

Biddy may be the key to stopping them. Yet the closer she gets to answers, the more she questions everything she’s ever believed about Rowan, her past, and the nature of magic itself.

*Review Contributed by Rachel Feeck, Staff Reviewer*

An enchanting historical novel full of charming characters, whimsical and spooky magics, and one girl’s journey to save her family from an evil plot decades in the making.

Biddy grew up on the island of Hy-Brasil, an isolated refuge for some of the last magic in the world, in the care of the mage Rowan and his rabbit familiar, Hutchincroft. She longs to see the wider world which she has only read about in novels, but her first foray to England comes only when Hy-Brasil is threatened, and she and Rowan arrive in London armed with a desperate plan to protect their home from the grasping hand of the magical council. Faced with a whole new world, enemies old and new, Biddy begins to uncover dangers and secrets that threaten to undermine everything she’s been told about herself, her trust in Rowan, and magic’s very presence in the world.

This was one of those rare books where, from beginning to end, the only thing I wished to be different was for there to be a sequel. (Alas, none at this time). The workings of magic are largely left a mystery, and there are glimpses of magical artifacts, portals to fae-like worlds, and powers in old yew trees that feel very much of Celtic legend. Biddy is practical, charming, and kind – she cares for Rowan and Hutch, and the land of Hy-Brasil with familiar affection, but isn’t afraid to make herself heard when she disagrees about something important. As she learns about the world through her own experiences independent of Rowan, she learns that maybe this man who raised her has a history beyond what he’s shared with her, and a several themes in the book revolve around trust and responsibility in relationships, and how differently issues of trust are approached when coupled with love, envy, or hate. Biddy’s adventure is clouded with uncertainty and secrets, but deep down, more than anything, she and Rowan, and loyal Hutch, never lose the deep affection they have for one another as family.

I first became acquainted with this author through A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians, a historical fantasy novel about Pitt and Wilberforce, vampires, abolition, and revolution. It became one of my favorite books – in part probably because that’s one of the periods of history I find most interesting – and I’m so happy that The Magician’s Daughter, while not having that advantage, has become a favorite as well. Excited to see what HG Parry will be up to next!

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*

 

Middle-Grade Review: Mercy Watson is Missing! by Kate DiCamillo

May 23rd, 2024 by

 

About This Book:

Every favorite character from Kate DiCamillo’s New York Times best-selling Mercy Watson books makes an appearance in this extended, riotously funny series crescendo.

 

When Mercy Watson the pig goes missing, all of Deckawoo Drive is in an uproar. The Watsons are inconsolable, and the local police, fire, and animal control departments are no help whatsoever. Bossy neighbor Eugenia Lincoln is not quite as sad as she might be, but thankfully her sister, Baby Lincoln, has the idea to hire a private investigator. Granted, Percival Smidgely, PI, may be more bumbler than gumshoe, but his pigeon, Polly, is there to point the way. Meanwhile, Frank and Stella Endicott and Stella’s friend Horace Broom are ready to do some investigating of their own. Will the clever neighborhood sleuths manage to follow the trail of hoofprints—and a certain overwhelmingly enticing scent—and recover their porcine wonder? With deftly paced narrative comedy, visual slapstick, abundant artwork in both black and white and full color, and warm affection for their cast of characters, Kate DiCamillo and Chris Van Dusen bring us a highly satisfying, extra-special series finale that rewards loyal fans—and invites new readers to explore the stories that came before.

 

*Review Contributed By Sara Perrera, Staff Reviewer*

Charming & Sweet

Mercy Watson is Missing! is the seventh book in the wildly popular Deckaroo Drive series that is filled with the antics of a pig named Mercy and her many friends who live on Deckaroo Drive.

The book begins with Mercy missing. The Watsons have tried all of their options to find her. When their neighbor Eugenia Lincoln suggests they hire a private investigator they think that’s a smart idea. They hire Percival Smidgley PI who turns out to be a bumbling fool, but reading about him trying to find Mercy was highly entertaining. Mercy’s friends on Deckaroo Drive also start a search investigation for their favorite pig. Eventually, Mercy is found, and all is well in the world.

What I Liked: There is just something about a Mercy Watson book that is endearing. In addition to the mystery storyline, the characters are what make this book truly special. Deckaroo Drive’s characters are quirky, unique, and lovable, and it’s easy to be captivated by their crazy antics. Illustrator Chris Van Dusen is great at making the story come to life with his illustrations. I especially think he captures Eugenia Lincoln and her crankiness so well.

Mercy Watson is Missing! is a charming book that is perfect for children who want to read chapter books independently. I also think this would be an excellent classroom read-aloud.

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

Kid Review: The Qalupalik (Inuit Folktales) by Elisha Kilabuk

May 23rd, 2024 by

 

About This Book:

All Inuit know about the qalupaliit, strange creatures that live under the sea ice and carry away unsuspecting children on their backs. But when one bright young orphan strays too close to the ice, he soon learns that while qalupaliit may be very scary, they are also easily tricked.

 

*Review Contributed By Connie Reid, Staff Reviewer*

The Qalupalik

The Qalupalik are the boogeymen of the Artic North, able to steal naughty children who venture too close to the water. In this tale. an orphan boy who has shabby clothes is at first caught because of his poor clothing but then able to trick the Qalupalik into leaving him alone for the same reason. Overall, this provides a cautionary tale and emphasizes the skill to think quickly. I appreciate that the beginning contains a pronunciation guide for those who do not speak the Inuktitut language. The illustrations are a bit spooky and appealing to those who like a bit of creepiness in their reading.

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

Kid Review: Carina Felina by Carmen Agra Deedy

May 23rd, 2024 by

 

About This Book:

Carmen Agra Deedy, New York Times bestselling author and one of Scholastic’s most talented and cherished storytellers, retells a hilarious folktale set in Havana, Cuba. Illustrated by the brilliant, award-winning artist, Henry Cole.

The trouble started when Pepe the parrot fell in love with . . . a CAT!

Hoping to win her paw, he invited her to his house for dinner.

But within moments of arriving ― with a gobble and a gulp ― Carina swallowed that love-sick parrot whole!

And he was just the appetizer!

In this Cuban retelling of a classic folktale, Carmen Agra Deedy and Henry Cole merge their talents to create a wickedly funny and inspiring picture book that proves the smallest of creatures can sometimes possess the most surprising strength!

*Review Contributed By Karen Yingling, Staff Reviewer*

There once was a cat who swallowed a parrot…

When Pepe the parrot falls in love with Carina, a beautiful cat, he invites her to dinner. When she arrives, however, she greedily eats all of the food provided, and when Pepe protests, she threatens him. When he says that he isn’t afraid of her, she replies “Not yet!” and swallows him whole! Not pausing at all, Carina sets out on the town and manages to ingest a florist, an oxcart man and his team, a boy and his goat, and a wedding party! When he encounters two crabs and threaten them, they are more than happy to be eaten, because they have a plan. Once inside Carina’s busy and jumbled stomach, they snip through her coat to let everyone out. Everyone is able to go back to their day, and it even ends well for the greedy Carina. She sews up her coat and becomes a much more discerning connoisseur!
Good Points

I knew Deedy’s work from her 1994 The Library Dragon, which my children loved. This tale has the same outrageous sort of plot that will lead to a lot of giggles.

I wouldn’t have recognized Henry Coles’ illustrations; he usually does more pencil or ink sketch style drawings, and these have much more staturated colors and blurred outlines. The faces look vaguely familiar. Carina has a sly, predatory faceand her bright turquoise fur contrasts nicely with the sandy colors of the background.

The big draw for young readers is the repetition in the text, and the anticipation of what Carina will say. We know the victims will reliably say “I’m not afaid of you”, but be unable to forestall their fate!

The end notes say that this is based on a Caribbean tale, “The Cat and the Parrot”, and the text has some Spanish words, which are listed in a glossary. There are other similar stories, like Ward’s There Was a Coyote Who Swallowed a Flea, many versions of There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, including Lucille Collandro’s Old Lady series (she swallows a rose, a bell, a chick, and some books, among many other things!)illustrated by Jared Lee. What sets this apart is a recipe for Cuban Galletas, which I would be tempted to make if I had some parchment paper!

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

YA Review: Cool for the Summer (Dahlia Adler)

May 23rd, 2024 by

About This Book:

Lara finally lands the guy of her dreams, only to have her unexpected(ly female) summer fling transfer to her school, in Dahlia Adler’s beloved award-winning YA queer romance, now in paperback!

Lara’s had eyes for exactly one person throughout her three years of high school: Chase Harding. He’s tall, strong, sweet, a football star, and frankly, stupid hot. Oh, and he’s talking to her now. On purpose and everything. Maybe…flirting, even? No, wait, he’s definitely flirting, which is pretty much the sum of everything Lara’s wanted out of life.

Except she’s haunted by a memory. A memory of a confusing, romantic, strangely perfect summer spent with a girl named Jasmine. A memory that becomes a confusing, disorienting present when Jasmine herself walks through the front doors of the school to see Lara and Chase chatting it up in front of the lockers.

Lara has everything she ever wanted: a tight-knit group of friends, a job that borders on cool, and Chase, the boy of her literal dreams. But if she’s finally got the guy, why can’t she stop thinking about the girl?

Dahlia Adler’s Cool for the Summer is a young adult story of self-discovery and new love. It’s about the things we want and the things we need. And it’s about the people who will let us be who we are.

*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*

COOL FOR THE SUMMER is a delightful YA contemporary romance. Lara (Larissa) is back at school for her senior year, and she feels different – the summer was life changing for her. On her first day back, when the guy she has been dreaming of for years starts flirting with her, she sees someone she never expected – Jasmine, her summer relationship. Although Jasmine has shown up at her school, it seems like she doesn’t want to acknowledge their summer, and Lara is happy to oblige.

As Lara continues with her senior year, it seems like she might be getting what she always thought she wanted (Chase), but she is realizing that it may not actually be what she wants anymore.

What I loved: This was a fast-paced and engaging read that pulls the reader into Lara’s life. The story is told in both now and then perspectives, with Lara dating Chase in the present and Jasmine in the then. The summer was transformative for Lara in many ways, not only in terms of how she questions her identity but also in terms of how she views herself and the way she begins to think more broadly about herself and her life. That confidence is what actually made Chase pay attention to her this year.

Lara had her coming-of-age style plot in the past, over the summer, when she began redefining herself and who she wants to be. That being said, she still struggles with her identity and what it could mean if she was not straight. In the process, she speaks to select others about this and adds to her confusion. Her path to figuring out her identity will resonate with some readers who may find themselves asking similar questions without always having known how they felt.

The dual timelines worked well in the story to show what her summer was like and where her conflicted feelings arose. In the wake of her summer, her relationships with her friends are also evolving, in ways that are ultimately positive. Friendship is a two-way street that both people have to feed their personalities into, and with the changes Lara has undergone, her friendships are also evolving. These relationships were also central to the story.

The story had great summery vibes, and I loved the way the ending all came together. While it took a while for Lara to see what the reader did, the book brought it to a happy and satisfying end.

What left me wanting more: Lara’s personality at school seemed to be around her massive crush on Chase, and it was easy to see why her friendships were strained when this was all she previously talked about. With that in mind, it was easy to see how she could get swept into his orbit now that he was paying attention to her as well. However, these interactions, particularly the physical ones, were challenging to read, as Lara was clearly not very into it.

Final verdict: COOL FOR THE SUMMER is a charming and fast-paced YA contemporary romance that makes for a delightful summery read.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*

Kid Review: All of Those Babies by Mylisa Larsen

May 22nd, 2024 by

 

About This Book:

Come meet babies across the animal kingdom and learn their adorable names in this bouncy, rhyming picture book celebration of how—no matter what species—everyone grows!

 

Puffins have pufflings, porcupines have porcupettes, and echidnas have…puggles?! All these babies start out little, and then, just like humans, they grow and grow and grow. Featuring dozens of different animals, all adorably illustrated by Stephanie Laberis, this book is a vibrant celebration of little ones, growing, and love.

 

*Review Contributed By Karen Yingling, Staff Reviewer*

Pufflings and Puggles and Poults!

This picture book in verse does an excellent job of rhyming the different animals and their babies, and has a refrain of “everyone grows”. This makes the story a very quick and engaging read. With accompanying illustrations, we meet everything from sheep and their lambs to echnidas and their puggles. Not only are their drawings of the various cygnets, keets, and porcupettes, but the backgrounds of the picture give a good idea of what the animals’ environs are like. This ends with a brief exploration of human babies and their skills (almost nonexistent!) and shows the reader how humans also grow.

Good Points
The illustrations are very charming, and have almost a Chuck Jones vibe to them. The eyes are particularly expressive, and it’s fun to see the little penguins, giraffes, and squids grow. The colors are bright, and there is some attempt at keeping animals from the same areas of the world together.

This would be a great book to read to console a child who had just outgrown a favorite outfit, and is a great addition to picture books about animal babies, like Reid’s A World of Love, Lerwill’s Do Baby Elephants Suck Their Trunks?: Amazing Ways Animals Are Just Like Us, and National Geographics photo illustrated Little Kids First Big Book of Baby Animals.

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

Kid Review: Look Up High! Things That Fly by Victoria Allenby

May 22nd, 2024 by

 

About This Book:

Look up High! Jet planes fly.
How? Where? Look up there!
The jet plane soars across the sky.
Helicopters, gliders, and planes—oh my! Preschoolers never get tired of cool flying machines. Indulge their love for things with wings (and a few without) with bright photographs and jaunty verse that makes it easy for pre-readers to chime in. They won’t even notice the subtle language lesson in prepositions as the hot air balloon drifts between the mountains, the water bomber swoops through the smoke, and the space station orbits around the Earth. 

With Look Up High! Things That Fly, Victoria Allenby adds another kid-tastic instalment to the Big, Little Concept Books collection that has already graced story times with the Mathical Book Prize honor book Shape Up, Construction Trucks!, the sound-celebrating Listen Up! Train Song, and Let’s Add Up!, where addition meets imagination. Like its predecessors, the book features a closing note to caregivers with age-appropriate enrichment activities to extend both the learning and the fun. But they needn’t worry about handing the whole thing over to their children, since the padded cover, rounded corners, and extra-sturdy paper of this Toddler Tough format can endure many a rough reading. Now spread your wings and ask yourself: How would YOU zoom across the sky?

*Review Contributed By Connie Reid, Staff Reviewer*

Learning Prepositions

This book combines young children’s fascination with aircraft with learning prepositions. I like the diversity of the aircraft and people used in the book and that it is real photographs. The sentence structure uses repetition and the prepositional words or phrases are in bold type. The part I really liked is the activities in the back that distill the lesson on prepositions in a way that makes it easy for parents to expand the practice beyond this book. The concept of discussing objects in relation to something else was one of the most difficult things I worked with preschoolers to understand, so I love this book and wish I had found it sooner!

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book Here*

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