Posted in Book Review

REVIEW: The Nighttime Adventures of Calvin and Ollie by Krista Brock

Title: The Nighttime Adventures of Calvin and Ollie

Author: Krista Brock | Illustrator: YOU!

Publisher: Independently Published | Published: November 5, 2019

Theme: Imagination and Do-It-Yourself

Character Origin: Human and Animal

Book Type: Picture Book  | Pages: 34

Ages: 4-8 | Book Level: — | Lexile Measure:

Book Synopsis…

Children are invited to enjoy the journey of reading with the joy of creating. The Nighttime Adventures of Calvin and Ollie is a bedtime story that follows the main character, Calvin, on an adventure into the night with his favorite stuffed animal, Ollie, the owl. They play hide and seek, climb trees, count stars, and have a couple encounters with other animals in the night forest. This picture book comes with a bit of a twist though. The story has been written, but the illustrations are incomplete. Young readers are presented with a backdrop for their own visual imagination. They get to draw Calvin and Ollie (and other nocturnal critters) themselves.

My overall thoughts…

This is a one-of-a-kind book that piqued my interest. When I received it in the mail from the author, color me curious. I hadn’t encountered anything like it before. And I LIKED it! I would never have thought of the reader being the illustrator. It allows for a truly immersive experience for the reader. The illustrations are open to the interpretation of the reader. They get to make the book their own–literally. Imagine the possibilities.

The illustrations and text…

The font type and size work well here. My only critique would be that on several pages, the text gets lost by the image or color beneath it; this makes the words hard to read. The story is easy to follow and, once illustrated, will be a complete masterpiece of the reader’s own making. The uniqueness here is that it’s all open to interpretation. The reader is not tied down by the constraints of someone else’s vision artistically. I can see this book being used as a resource in an art class over a few weeks with the finished product being gifted to parents. As a homeschooling mom, I’m learning that there is synergy between art, reading, and writing. Brock has done a great job thinking outside of the box, and I am confident that kids will connect with Calvin and Ollie.

I’ll give it…

Posted in Book Review

REVIEW: A. Blob on a Bus by L.A. Kefalos

Title: A. Blob on a Bus

Author: L.A. Kefalos | Illustrator: Jeffrey Burns

Publisher: Laughing Leopard Press | Published: July 3, 2019

Theme: Bullying

Character Origin: Human and Blob 

Book Type: Picture Book  | Pages: 38

Ages: 4-8 | Book Level: — | Lexile Measure:

Book Synopsis…

A. Blob on a Bus continues the story of This is A. Blob, which first introduced us to the purple pest. The sticky, purple bully, A. Blob, is back in this second installment of The Blob Series, and it appears it still hasn’t learned that being mean won’t make friends stick. As A. Blob pokes, prods, and pesters, it seems like the children will never be able to ride the bus in peace; that is, until one brave girl decides to take a stand. Suitable for children ages 4-8, this picture book encourages readers to take action against bullying and shows how one act of bravery can change everything–maybe even a bully.

My overall thoughts…

Let me take a moment and applaud this book. It was quite refreshing to read a book that handles bullying so well and with great balance. This is the second book in a three-book series that approaches bullying from three perspectives. That is GENIUS! But I can say that this one is my favorite so far. I love how one firm act of bravery is the catalyst that the kids need to find their very own courage to stand together against their bully. Their comradery is a thing of beauty, and maybe what other kids need to see to overcome their current situations. The ambiguity of the bully is a powerful statement that allows the reader the ability to apply those traits to anyone.

The illustrations and text…

The illustrations are colorful yet reflect the mood of the text. The diversity of the characters further demonstrates that all children, despite your race or gender, can experience bullying. The rhyming verse is easy to read. There was an excellent synergy between the balance of words and imagery. The viridity of the text refines the topic in a way that is relatable to young readers. Kefalos does a fantastic job of showing the vulnerability of children while also capturing their strength. That can be tricky, but she nailed it. This book (and the series) checks so many boxes for me as a mom and as an educator. It opens the door to informative and instructive dialogues for parents and teachers to have with their children. I can’t wait to see how the final book unfolds.

I’ll give it…