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: Sofie at Bat by Suzan Johnson

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Copy provided by author for my honest review.

Barnes & Noble | Amazon

Title: Sofie at Bat

Author: Suzan Johnson | Illustrator: Susan Shorter

Publisher: Sjhstories | Published: September 3, 2018

Theme:  Perseverance

Character Origin: Human

Book Type: Picture Book | Pages: 26

Ages: 5-10 | Book Level: — | Lexile Measure:

Synopsis: Learn how an eight-year-old girl finds her inner strength. Sofie at Bat will capture the attention of young readers. Prepare to be motivated to try hard, no matter what the outcome may be. Sofie is not able to hit the softball without a tee. With the love and encouragement of her friends and family will Sofie make a hit?

My thoughts…

This was such a fun loving book. The story was very inspiring and will entertain kids as they read it. Most of us have come up against an obstacle that we had to overcome. The life lessons here show how Sofie grapples with failure and what does she do about it–push through or give up. This is such a great life lesson for kids to learn and sports are a great way to connect the dots. 

Here are a few things that stuck out to me. While the story is easy for me to follow, having a larger more playful font is more visually appealing when you read side by side with your child at bedtime. Additionally, grandparents may struggle to read it with ease considering the font size. Lastly, having more of a show not tell approach will minimize the quantity of text (which was somewhat bulky) and rely more on the illustrations to enhance the story. 

Shorter’s illustrations were delightfully colorful. They came alive on each page. The message will resonate with kids and parents alike. It serves as a valuable teaching tool. Do you push through or do you give up? Well, I hope the reader taps into their inner Sofie to answer that question.

My rating…