Showing posts with label imagination. Show all posts
Showing posts with label imagination. Show all posts

Early Book Review: The Fantastical Exploits of Gwendolyn Gray by B. A. Williamson

The Fantastical Exploits of Gwendolyn Gray is the second book in a series by B. A. Williamson. It is currently scheduled for release on April 28 2020. While I do recommend reading the series in order, the author does a good job of giving newcomers a starting point, which helped remind this returning reader of what happened so far. 

Heroes never return from adventure unchanged, and Gwendolyn Gray knows this better than anyone. She faces a new darkness within herself—with no help or comfort from her friends Sparrow and Starling. On top of that, the City is only getting worse. When the Faceless Gentlemen return to menace her again, Gwendolyn escapes to the lands of the Fae. But even the dreamlike Faeoria holds dangers that even she could never have imagined. Gwendolyn must learn to master control her magic and manage her internal struggles if she ever hopes to defeat the villainous forces that control the City, find Sparrow and Starling, and save the people she loves.

The Fantastical Exploits of Gwendolyn Gray is a nice second book to a series, and I look forward to what will follow. It took me a few pages to remember which story this was, and who everyone was. However, I really liked that the author gave subtle hints and not so subtle summaries in the story, allowing newcomers to the story to catch up, and those of us with failing memories to remember what we have read previously. I also liked the narration breaking the forth wall, although there might be some readers that do not enjoy that style as much as I do. I thought the action and twists and turns of the plot were very well done, I just wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next. I also liked that none of the characters are perfectly good or evil, they are changeable and imperfect just like everyone in the real world. Gwen continues to grow up, and her realizations about herself, stories, other people, and life in general were engaging and  sometimes hard to read emotionally. I think the book was very well done and look forward to following the story in whatever book comes next.

The Fantastical Exploits of Gwendolyn Gray is a solid middle grade fantasy that will have readers looking for whatever might come next from Williamson.

Early Book Review: Help Wanted, Must Love Books by Janet Sumner Johnson, Courtney Dawson

Help Wanted, Must Love Books, written by Janet Sumner Johnson and illustrated by Courtney Dawson, is a picturebook currently scheduled for release on March 2 2020. Shailey loves bedtime, especially reading with her dad. But her dad starts a new job, and it gets in the way of their bedtime routine. So Shailey takes action! She fires her dad, posts a Help Wanted sign, and starts interviews immediately. She is thrilled when her favorite characters from fairytales line up to apply. But Sleeping Beauty can't stay awake, the Gingerbread Man steals her book, and Snow White brings along her whole team. Shailey is running out of options. Is bedtime ruined forever?

Help Wanted, Must Love Books is a story that many parents and children can relate to. Routine band job changes for an adult in the house can throw everything else out of whack- like  how her father's new job affected Shailey's bedtime reading. I love how she interviewed characters from some of her bedtime stories to become her new reader, and how some of the auditions went terribly wrong. I thought the story and its execution was very imaginative and well done. The illustrations were wonderful, and added some great detail to the story on each page. I love the imagination the character has, and the way her father works hard to find a solution for the problem. Not every solution in real life will be this easy, but showing that it can happen might give young readers the hope and determination to find solutions for their own bedtime or family disappointments. The addition of resumes from the characters at the end of the book was a fun touch.  
Help Wanted, Must Love Books is an adorable picture book with plenty of references to storytimer favorites and lovely artwork. This might become a new bedtime favorite for some young readers. 

Book Review: The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith

The Library of the Unwritten by A. J. Hackwith is the first book in a new series. Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing-- a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto. But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil's Bible. The text of the Devil's Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell….and Earth.

The Library of the Unwritten is a book that requires the readers full attention. It has a brilliant concept, complex characters, and a plot with action and foreshadowing to spare. I will admit the first few chapters started off rough for me, because there was so much that needed to be introduced, and characters to meet. Once the story got going however, I was intrigued and hooked.  I loved Claire's character- she is complex with secrets and hidden sides at every turn. Brevity has hidden depths, Leto is so much more than he seems, and then there are Hero and Ramiel who are not really what you expect. I liked getting to see the story from multiple perspectives, how the characters see each other, and their vulnerabilities, was just as important to the story for me as the mystery of the codex and its importance to them all. I liked the puzzles and bits of religious lore woven through the story, from a variety of cultures. I really enjoyed the thoughts and questions about the possibilities and importance inherent in books, ideas, and stories. The action scenes were well written, and readers will be completely engaged in the wellbeing of the characters, physically and emotionally. The only trouble I had was more about my reading habits and life than the actual book. There are so many nuances and  important hints through the bok that readers should really give the book their full attention while reading, but that is rarely possible for me. This meant that it took me a little longer to read the book than expected, because of the distracts of life. However, I am really glad that I had the time to finally give the read the attention it deserved.

The Library of the Unwritten is a well written and entertaining read. To really enjoy it and catch all the foreshadowing and character nuances, I highly recommend reading it when you can give it your undivided attention. 

Book Review: The Adventures of Fede and Tomato #1: Tomato Must Be Saved! by Luciano Saracino, Gerardo Baró

The Adventures of Fede and Tomato #1: Tomato Must Be Saved! is a children's graphic novel written by Luciano Saracino, with art by Gerardo Baró. One morning, the circus arrives in Fede’s town. What a thrill! Now he has a chance to be a circus star! And there he goes, with his cat Tomato, avoiding any streets where he might run into Florencia (because Florencia is his girlfriend, but she doesn’t know it yet). Of course, things get complicated when the lion looks at Tomato with hungry eyes! 
Tomato Must Be Saved! is a fun and cute comic that focuses on one adventurous boy and his view of the world. He sneaks into a circus before opening and is caught taking pictures of the lion without permission. The ringmasters attempts to disuad Fede go a bit awry and misunderstandings lead to jining in the circus act, dodging the girl he likes, and trying to save his cat Tomato from becoming the lion's lunch. I liked the artwork- the colors really worked and there was a good amount of detail on each page.  I think I might have left a couple clues about the misunderstandings on the page, but I understand why they might not have in such a short work. I enjoyed the read and think many young readers will as well. 

Tomato Must Be Saved! is a short, cute graphic novel. I liked the art and the story and think others will enjoy the quick read as well.

Early Book Review: Max's Box: Letting Go of Negative Feelings by Brian Wray, Shiloh Penfield

Max's Box: Letting Go of Negative Feelings was written  by Brian Wray and illustrated by Shiloh Penfield. It is currently scheduled for release on September 28 2019. Max's parents give him a very special gift: a tiny, magical box that will hold everything, from his toys to his feelings. Max learns, however, that feelings can't be put away as easily as toys. Each negative emotion he feels—anger, embarrassment, sadness, loneliness—gets added to the box, which grows and grows. Eventually it is so large that it keeps him from doing what he loves, like riding his bike and climbing trees. With some help from his friends and family, Max is able to turn the box into something beautiful and let it go. A parents' guide explains how well-intentioned adults often encourage children, especially young boys, to ignore and “put away” their feelings instead of learning to fully live with them. This simple but powerful story not only teaches children how to “control” their emotions but discourages suppressing them, the illustrations becoming more colorful and vibrant as Max moves out from his box’s shadow.
Max's Box: Letting Go of Negative Feelings is a book about emotions and how to deal with the negative feelings that can grow and linger if not dealt with. I like that there is a parent's guide, because just reading a story and talking about this subject and reading a book once is not enough. Sometimes we parents need to help children process and express their emotions, including negative ones, so that they can be let go and move on. I thought the image of the box growing larger and getting heavier with each upsetting emotion is very accessible to young children and I think they will be able to recognize how that feels in their own life. I loved the turning point when an act of kindness and some good emotions lead to the release of all the emotional baggage Max had been carrying around. I think the simplicity and subtle colors of the illustrations further the understanding and make the book that much more enjoyable to read.

Max's Box: Letting Go of Negative Feelings is a wonderful book for young children and their caregivers to explore alone and together. I could see it also being useful in schools and day cares to help the youngest students on the path to emotional life skills.

Early Book Review: The Windy Day by Tony Sandoval

The Windy Day by Tony Sandoval is a picturebook currently scheduled for release on May 14 2019.  A young girl sets out on her own to fly her kite and encounters a pirate cloud full of goblins looking to cause trouble. She is rescued by a big black wolf who scare the goblins away and stays to help her fly her kite as high as possible. Their friendship teaches her courage (which is what she names the wolf).
The Windy Day has lovely artwork, which was what originally caught my eye with this book. It has a sweet watercolor feel, while showing the things the young girl sees and fears in equal importance. I love the story of a girl with a big imagination finding a way to entertain herself when her brother will not play with her.That she built her own kite, faces her fears enough to brave chickens and the woods to go fly the kite alone shows that she already has courage and intelligence, she just needs a little support.  I love that she uses the same imagination that scares her to save herself and bolster her courage. 
The Windy Day is a book that is fun to read text wise- but also lovely to look at. I think there are some imaginative and creative souls that will greatly enjoy this read.

Book Review: Unicorn Bowling (Phoebe and Her Unicorn) by Dana Simpson

Unicorn Bowling is the ninth book in the Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson. You do not need to have read all the books to enjoy the read.

A unicorn in bowling shoes is quite a STRIKE-ing sight. But for nine-year-old Phoebe Howell, it’s just another fun outing with her best friend, the illustrious unicorn Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. This unique and magical friendship is at the heart of the ninth Phoebe and Her Unicorn collection, which includes adventures such as writing original songs, publishing rival news websites, and making a summer visit to the exclusive Camp Shimmerhorn. Life with a unicorn BFF is not without its challenges, however, and whether it’s homework, friction with classmates, or talent show jitters, Unicorn Bowling is full of amusing, heartwarming reminders that when the going gets tough, the tough get sparkling.

Unicorn Bowling is another lovely graphic novel. Before I get to the actual story though, I have to say that I love that in the very beginning of the book there is mention of the glossary at the end of the book (page number included) to encourage kids to look up the meaning of words unfamiliar to them. This not only encourages them to use it, but helps them know that they will not be the only one unsure of certain words. This can go a long way in helping struggling readers feel more comfortable facing new words. This will help less confident readers keep going, with no bad feelings or shame about wanting to look up words. 

Okay, now for the story. As usual the artwork does a good job portraying the emotion and extra details of the story. The quality has been consistent through the series, and I expect that to continue. I was a little disappointed that the book was a collection of day to day or small adventures of Phoebe, rather than there being any larger story arc. I was kind of hoping for more of the conflicts between Phoebe and Dakota, and by the title I was rather expecting more bowling. Unicorn Bowling is a book that fans of the series will enjoy, but is not likely to win over new readers.

Early Book Review: Ida and the Whale by Rebecca Gugger, Simon Röthlisberger

Ida and the Whale is a picturebook written by Rebecca Gugger and illustrated by Simon Röthlisberger. It was recently translated into English and will be released in the states on April 2 2019. What lies behind the sun, the moon, and the stars? Ida can’t stop thinking about these and other very important questions. Then one night, a flying whale wakes her and takes her on an amazing journey—where some of her questions are answered and even more created.

Ida and the Whale is a beautifully illustrated story about wonder and imagination. It is worth looking at for the artstyle alone, to be honest. I loved the colors and use of motion and line on each page. The story is gentle and soothing, and I think it would work well as a bedtime story or to help settle young readers for a quiet play or story time. I did find the text to be a little dull in comparison to the artwork. However, I think that was more because of translation than anything to do with the author.  In picturebooks word choice is so important to the flow, and translations do not always hold the intended rhythm and feel as the original.

Early Book Review: Astro Pea by Amalia Hoffman

Astro Pea is a picturebook by Amalia Hoffman that is currently scheduled for release on March 29 2019. Imagine what would happen if fresh veggies could go on a cosmic adventure! Well, blast off with Pete the pea and find out what he discovers outside his pod. Pete joins other curiously shaped vegetables such as an eggplant, artichoke, cauliflower, ear of corn, and mushroom as they each take a starring role in this creative tale of space exploration, daring, and friendship. Who knew healthy food could be so much fun? 

Astro Pea is a cute and creative story. A young pea goes on a vegetable laden journey through the stars, and I like that while he enjoys the trip still wants his home and family in the end. I think this is something people of all ages can relate to. No matter how cool the journey, we always want to find our way back to those that love us, and that we love. I think the use of veggies as the characters, ships, and so on was very well done. It was obvious o me what all the produce was, but young readers that are not too fond of eating their veggies might need one or two named for them. I loved the illustrations, chalk work on a black background. I think this color scheme will be helpful when reading in the dim light that goes hand in hand with bedtime stories.

Book Review: The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray by B. A. Williamson

The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray by B. A. Williamson is a middle grade novel. Gwendolyn Gray faces an overwhelming battle every day: keeping her imagination under control. It’s a struggle for a dreamer like Gwendolyn, in a city of identical gray skyscrapers, clouds that never clear, and grown-ups who never understand. But when her daydreams come alive and run amok in The City, the struggle to control them becomes as real as the furry creatures infesting her bedroom. Worse yet, she’s drawn the attention of the Faceless Gentlemen, who want to preserve order in The City by erasing Gwendolyn and her troublesome creations. With the help of two explorers from another world, Gwendolyn escapes and finds herself in a land of clockwork inventions and colorful creations. Now Gwendolyn must harness her powers and, with a gang of airship pirates, stop the Faceless Gentlemen from destroying the new world she loves and the home that never wanted her—before every world becomes gray and dull.

The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray is a wonderful story about the power of imagination and being yourself. Gwendolyn is often lost in her daydreams, and just wants to be accepted for who she is. Her world is one of strict conformity, but the issues of bullies and being mistreated for being different is not exactly a strange concept for readers of all ages. I love that her imagination, her spark, is her true strength. I think that our differences are often our strengths, but also the weak points that bullies and people in power use against us. I think that Gwen is a well developed character, and her relationship with her parents is very well done, I think that it was realistic on many levels, and that many readers will be able to relate. I think the world and character building is very well paced, and Sparrow and Starling were my favorites through the entirety of the book. I think the adventure and danger elements were well spread out through the book as well, giving Gwen and the readers time to take everything in and think about everything for a moment before the next wave of trouble hit. Some of the surprises and twists along the way I expected, but many still had me surprised in the reveal or the consequences of that information or feelings. I loved the sheer creativity and bravery of Gwen, particularly when she did not feel like she would met the challenge. I think this is an enjoyable read and could really speak to or inspire readers to embrace their own creativity or differences.

The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray is a wonderful start to a series, with a nearly perfect balance of closure and wonder about what will happen next. I fully expect to continue reading this series. 

Book Review: The Magician's Secret by Zachary Hyman, Joev Bluhm

The Magician's Secret is a picturebook written by Zachary Hyman and illustrated by Joe Bluhm. Charlie loves when Grandpa comes to babysit because he always brings his magical imagination. Grandpa was a magician who knows the most amazing tricks; he can pull a rabbit from a hat and make a coin disappear. But what Charlie loves most are his wonderful adventure stories, and they all begin with something his grandfather has saved in his Magic Story Chest. An hourglass is a reminder of how he defended the treasure in King Tut's tomb from raiders. A long white scarf inspires the story about Grandpa's dogfight with the notorious Red Baron, the great First World War fighter pilot. A coconut shell heralds the story about his encounter with a nasty Tyrannosaurus Rex. Charlie's parents, though, aren't too sure they like Grandpa's stories and warn Charlie that they're just "tall tales." What is Charlie to believe? How can his grandpa convince him that all you need to do is believe and a dream can be turned into something real?

The Magician's Secret is a wonderful story about intergenerational relationships, and the power of imagination. Charlie's grandfather tells him fantastic stories, and he love the bond they share. However, his mother worries that he is taking the stories too seriously when they could not have really happened, and tells him that they are all pretend. When I love that Charlie feels safe enough with his grandfather for clarification, too often connections with adults can have barriers that prevent this kind of honesty and openness. Grampa assures him that while he might not have actually lived the adventures, that does not mean the stories are not real. They come from dreams, from imagination, from exploring. I love tat this encourages Charlie to dream big, to read, to explore, and most importantly to have his own adventures and stories to tell. 

As lovely as the story is, and its message, I also loved the artwork. The illustrations have their own story to tell, and are crisp and lovely to look at in their own right. The book was a delight to read and I hope it becomes a favorite.

Book Review: Hotel Fantastic by Thomas Gibault

Hotel Fantastic is a picturebook written and illustrated by Thomas Gibault. Whether you're a robot needing to recharge or a giant looking for extra legroom, the suites in this hotel are designed to cater to each guest's needs. Feeling hungry? Dine at the hotel's world-famous restaurant among princesses and pirates. Need a workout? A fully equipped gym and rooftop swimming pool serve beings of all shapes and sizes. And rest assured that your safety and security are a top priority --- an elite strike team is always at the ready. Pay no attention to the rumors you may have heard --- there's certainly no horrible creature threatening to attack the hotel at any moment.

Hotel Fantastic is a brightly illustrated ad fun picturebook. The majority of the story is detailing the wonders of the grand Hotel Fantastic. The crazy creatures that stay there, work there, and their activities are imaginative and well done. I enjoyed the descriptions and artwork depicting the pool, security team, and infirmary the most- they were amusing and unique. I like that clues to what the lurking evil is, and how it is not all that evil but will certainly bring the story to an end, can be found throughout the story.  I like that the ending is a little bit of a twist, but not completely unexpected if readers pay attention to the clues, and think about the uniqueness of the amenities. Most of all, I like that the young boy telling the tale is not rude, mean, or in anyway shamed or embarrassed for playing with something that might go against gender stereotypes. That made me very happy and made me the story as a whole even more.

Book Review: Ready to Ride by Sébastien Pelon

Ready to Ride is a picturebook written and illustrated by Sébastien Pelon. A little boy is told to play outside by his mum and bumps into an imaginary friend with whom he goes for a bike ride. At first he finds it difficult to keep up, but with the imaginary friend’s help he takes off the bike’s training wheels and learns to ride. 
Ready to Ride is a fun story with smooth, charming illustrations. The boy's efforts to learn to ride is well done ad sweet. The story is certainly light-hearted, but still manages to encourage kids to keep trying and practicing, showing them that putting in some effort is the only way to learn and get better. I enjoyed the read, but must admit that there were some formatting issues with my digital galley, which I know will not effect readers in the final copy. That made it slightly more challenging to read- however it was worth the effort and I found the book to be enjoyable and sweet.

Early Book Review: Pop! by Jason Carter Eaton, Matt Rockefeller

Pop! is a picturebook written by Jason Carter Eaton and illustrated by Matt Rockefeller. It is currently scheduled for release on July 3 2018. A quiet afternoon of blowing bubbles and popping them turns into a Planes, Trains, & Automobiles-style adventure, as our young protagonist Dewey struggles to pop that one last bubble, The Bubble That Got Away.
Pop! is a fun story about determination and imagination. I enjoyed Dewey's efforts to pop an elusive bubble, and the way the story took a lonely kid on a grand adventure. I really liked that Dewey showed the ability to entertain himself, determination to finish what he started, and the imagination to make the well loved task of blowing and popping bubbles. Dewey took something that is so basic to childhood, and made it his own grand adventure, when other kids might have spent the day watching television alone or pouting that there was no one to play with, or that others did not invite him to play with them. He did not get mad, he made his own fun, and enjoyed his day. The conclusion of long distance companionship in bubble popping added a little heart twist at the end. I thought the illustrations were lovely, and they had the soft, dream like quality that matched the theme and action of the story, while not being washed out or boring at any point. 

Early Book Review: Sir Tim Wants a Dragon by Judith Koppens, Eline van Lindenhuizen

Sir Tim Wants a Dragon is a picturebook written by Judith Koppens and illustrated by Eline van Lindenhuizen. It is currently scheduled for release on July 1 2018. Sir Tim wants a pet, but not just any kind of pet. Tim wants a dragon, because “All knights have dragons.” Tim says decisively. “I’m a knight so I need a dragon!” Tim and Mom go to the pet shop together, but the pet shop does not sell any dragons. Or do they?

Sir Tim Wants a Dragon is a cute picturebook about a young man with a big imagination. As he plays knight he becomes determined that he needs a pet dragon. Not an unexpected result to any parent or caregiver to be honest. When they go to the pet store he is disappointed that there are no real dragons. I liked the illustrations, I found the artwork to be very nice to look at, and offering extra details and some humor on each page.

I was glad that Sir Tim refrained from having a temper tantrum when a dragon was unavailable, but disappointed that a bearded dragon or other aptly named lizard was not the solution, I was half expecting it. I did like that he was able to compromise- although I was less than thrilled Tim ends up with a labor intensive pet with no talk of responsibility and no preparations. I know it is a book for the youngest readers, but the idea of getting anything you want without working for it or responsibility bothers me.

Book Review: In My World by Jillian Ma

In My World by Jillian Ma is a simple, heartfelt story that follows the life of a child with autism through his imaginative journey as he seeks to be accepted, loved and celebrated for his strengths and abilities. Despite the qualities that make children on the autism spectrum exceptional, they all have hopes, dreams and feelings of belonging that all children desire. This beautifully illustrated picture book is a powerful reminder that with a little help from each of us, children with autism can fulfill their dreams.
In My World is a sweet and simple story that describes a day in the life of a child with autism. I think it shows the things that we all have in common well; the joys and desires surrounding love and acceptance among them. The illustrations and words do a wonderful job of showing the joy and imagination that fill the child's world, and explaining some of the struggles they have in dealing with other people and their expectations. I think this would be a great conversation starter in classrooms, families, or public settings like library story times to help children understand and care for each other and themselves.

Book Review: Woolly and Me by Quentin Greban

Woolly and Me is a picturebook by Quentin Greban which is currently scheduled for release on January 2 2018. And when her mammoth gets a little frightened; on a roller coaster ride or in her dark bedroom at night, our brave narrator comforts her pet and bucks up his courage. On the last page of this warm and reassuring picture book, we see at last that Woolly is a stuffed animal leaving readers to wonder, who has been comforting whom?

Woolly and Me is a fun picturebook that shows a young girl and her Woolly on a series of adventures, both everyday challenges and special events. I like the imagination and acceptance that is a common thread through the entire book. I will admit that I was not sure if Woolly would end up as an imaginary friend or stuffed animal by the end of the book, and honestly either would have been good with me. I just loved the way the idea of comfort and bravery was covered. The illustrations were a perfect pairing to the story, and I found them to be sweet and comforting in their own way. 

Book Review: A Stick Until by Constance Anderson

A Stick Until by Constance Anderson is a picturebook. A stick is just a stick until an elephant turns it into a flyswatter, an alligator uses it to catch prey, or a child uses a stick as a toy. A simple stick can become a tool or a toy in this enjoyable look at the many uses animals and people can find for sticks. Creative uses of sticks range from chimpanzees catching tasty treats to birds attracting mates. A fun book to read to an inquisitive child or for use in a classroom, A Stick Until shows the wonders of nature and the joys of imagination.

A Stick Until is a beautifully illustrated book with images and information that will capture the imagination of animal lovers of all ages. It teaches children to imagine the different uses for something as simple as a stick. While I wish some stick wielding was done by kids was as harmless as a back scratcher, I like that this book offers some real example of how animals use a stick. I really found the informational part of the book, explaining how and why a large variety of animals can use a simple stick, to be nicely done. The information is well worded and simply put. The information is off to the side, and subtle on most pages, so that if you need to skip on a read you should be able to get away with it, at least until the child figures it out. This is a great read all around. 

Book Review: Under-the-Bed Fred by Linda Bailey

Under-the-Bed Fred is a transitional chapterbook written by Linda Bailey and illustrated by Colin Jack. This is perfect for those readers moving beyond picturebooks and branching into more challenging reads. It is broken into a few smaller stories, so it is not overwhelming to readers that might still be intimidated by chapter books.

There's a monster under Leo's bed making a ruckus every night. When Leo needs to go to the bathroom, he leaps from the bed to the door -- careful not to put his feet on the floor within the monster's reach. But one night Leo gets tired of being scared and boldly calls out to the monster to see if they can't just work something out. Surprisingly, the monster listens, and Leo finds out that even enormous monsters have fears! Leo and his monster, Fred, team up to face their fears, each with his own unique strengths. Over the course of five easy-to-read chapters, their friendship blooms as they face everything from bullies to bedbugs.

Under-the-Bed Fred is a fun book for independent readers, and for sharing. I like that Leo faces his fears, and learns something about prejudice and friendship. I found Fred to be a cute and imaginative creature, making the story fun. Leo has real kid problems, and some fears shared by most children at some point. I liked his persistence and patience with Fred- and thought that the exasperation he feels towards Fred at times mirrors what adults and older sibling might feel when the target audience gives into the fears Leo faces. I think this book could help young readers  face monster fears, and dealing with the stresses of bullies and school. The illustrations add a nice touch to the story, adding emotion and additional fun to the read.

Book Review: Where are you Wilbert by Bárdur Oskarsson

Where are you Wilbert by Bárdur Oskarsson is a picturebook about a small gray rat and her large gray friend, Wilbert. They are playing hide-and-seek. Wilbert is tough to find, so the rat asks a passing crocodile for help. Together, they hunt behind every tree they can see, and finally, the rat spots Wilbert. But the crocodile can’t see Wilbert, even when he’s standing right in front of them. Why not?
Where are you Wilbert is a sweet picturebook about imagination and friends. I like the minimal text and light colors in the illustrations. The effect is gentle and sweet, emphasizing the way different people see the world. I like that even though the crocodile cannot see Wilbert, he is still friends with the rat and does not make fun of her for their differences. I found the book to address perspective and imagination well, while keeping the story sweet and enjoyable.