Posted in Book Review

REVIEW: I Got You A Present by Mike Erskine-Kellie & Susan McLennan

Title: I Got You A Present

Author: Mike Erskine-Kellie & Susan McLennan | Illustrator: Cale Atkinson

Publisher: Kids Can Press| Published: April 7, 2020

Theme: Friendship and Perseverance

Character Origin: Animal

Book Type: Picture Book  | Pages: 32

Ages: 3-7 | Book Level: — | Lexile Measure:

Book Synopsis…

A quest for the perfect birthday present leads to ever grander (and ever more imperfect) gift ideas in this clever metafiction story that’s hilarious any day of the year.

“I wanted to get you the greatest present ever, our narrator tells us. But somehow, none of the best ideas seemed to pan out. First, there was the pair of hand-knitted birthday socks (have you ever tried knitting birthday socks). Then, the ten-scoop ice cream cone (a disaster to carry), the magic kit (it disappeared, just like magic!), the apple juice-fueled jet pack (still a few kinks to work out) and the dinosaur (I couldn’t find one anywhere). And now, time has run out, and our narrator still has nothing to give. Or, maybe there is something after all. Something that contains all those awesome gifts in one. Something that can be enjoyed again and again, just by turning the pages…

In their debut picture book, Emmy Award-winning children’s television writers Mike Erskine-Kellie and Susan McLennan have created a laugh-out-loud story filled with heart. The metafiction approach (speaking directly to “you”) and fun story together with the antic exuberance of Cale Atkinson’s bold and colorful illustrations make this a lively read-aloud that will keep even the youngest children engaged. Though a book about finding the perfect birthday present is itself the perfect birthday present, it’s also simply a delightful read for any time of year. It also offers an excellent character education lesson on perseverance.

My overall thoughts…

If you are looking for an adorable book to share with your little ones, you’ve just found it. The reader goes on a humorous yet delightful adventure on every page. There is the sweetest message of perseverance and friendship that will melt your heart.  I felt all warm and fuzzy on the inside while reading this and even more so at the end. I imagine that you’ll have a similar visceral experience as well. The overall story is engaging and entertaining. I bet you’ll enjoy a snicker or two. You’ll close the book reminded of the true value of friendship.

The illustrations and text…

The illustrations were beautifully drawn in Photoshop. I loved how the pages had very little white space, and the background colors complimented the artwork nicely. The font size made the text easy to read. I enjoyed the flow of the book. The word choice was appropriate, and a new reader could handle it with ease. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be anticipating a sequel.  I Got You A Present will soon become a family favorite and have the biggest pessimist anticipating their birthday. 

I’ll give it…

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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…