Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

Hasbro’s Lost Kitties get Easy Readers

So this is a thing I’ve somehow missed out on previously, but Hasbro has these collectible toys, Lost Kitties, that my son – and the kids here at my library – tell me that they LOVE. (Sorry, I’m still recovering from Shopkins.) The Hasbro website has videos, downloadable pictures, and all sorts of unboxing videos, so if you haven’t had these little critters take over your home yet… give ’em time. But I’m here to talk about the books. Because there are books now!

Lost Kitties: #Adorbs, by Maggie Fischer, (May 2019, Studio Fun International), $4.99, ISBN: 9780794444181

Ages 4-7

There are 5 stories in this Easy Reader-format book about the #Adorbs squad, making this a nice independent read for a newly confident reader, or for several quick read-alouds to a little one. Nap-Kin is a kitty who wants to nap, but can’t find a quiet place. Bonbon is a baker, but her friend Tummy Tum keeps eating all her snacks – how can she fill her up? Pixie Purrs is also looking for a comfy spot to nap, but decides to help her stressed out friend, Francis, relax into some yoga instead. Tickles is playing outside and his friends trick him into thinking he’s a butterfly. Memez is practicing for a singing contest when his friends, J. Roly and Pepp, start teaching him some new dance moves. The stories are cute, fluffy, and illustrated in full color with bold, big, colorful fonts and word balloons, showing the kittens in all their #Adorbs-ness.


Lost Kitties: #Nomz, by Maggie Fischer, (May 2019, Studio Fun International), $4.99, ISBN: 978-0794444303

Ages 4-7

The #Nomz squad likes to get into trouble, whether it’s Chomp testing hot peppers to spice up her taco hot sauce, or Chunks training for a – gulp – Grand Hairball Hacking Competition. Loafy has a crisis when his toaster breaks, but they’ve all got their squad to help them out. These Early Reader format books are cute media tie-ins, and will give kids a little extra dimension of play – encourage them to draw their own Lost Kitties adventures, and give them some templates to let them create with. The artwork is bold, bright, and fun, and the characters have giant, expressive facial expressions that are worth loads of laughs.



Hasbro Lost Kitties Collector’s Guide, by Maggie Fischer, (May 2019, Studio Fun International), $8.99, ISBN: 978-0794443863

Ages 6-9

This skews a little older, because it’s a Collector’s Guide with denser information. The Guide includes profiles of over 100 kitties out there to collect; each profile has a brief, descriptive paragraph and stats, including likes, dislikes, favorite snack and toy, hobbies, a motto, and life’s dream. There are lolcat-like memes for each Lost Kitty, a hashtag to note which Squad they belong to, and whether they belong to Series 1 or Series 2 releases. For a mom and librarian who’s surrounded by Pokemon and Pokedexes everywhere I go, this is awfully familiar… This is very cute and will be popular with the kids: especially if there’s ever an animated cartoon to tie in. The books are adorable enough that the act of putting them on my shelves started a mob, so we’ll go from there.



Posted in Early Reader, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

Real-Life Paw Patrol: NatGeo Kids brings you Doggy Defenders!

This has to be one of the most adorable easy nonfiction series I’ve come across yet: National Geographic Kids has a new series, Doggy Defenders, that introduces readers to working dogs: Willow, The Therapy Dog; Tiger, the Police Dog; Dolley, the Fire Dog; and Stella, the Search Dog. Look at these doggies!

from NatGeoKIDS Twitter @NGKIDS

Each book introduces us to a working dog, their humans, and takes us through a training session and a workday. Stella the Search dog and her human, Trooper Diaz, find a lost hiker; plus, she gets to ride in a helicopter and wears sunglasses! Tiger the Police Dog works with Officer Rodriguez and inspects the Washington, DC Metro. Dolley the Fire Dog and her human, Captain Herndon, teach kids about fire safety and then get to work, where Dolley sniffs out the cause of a fire. Willow the Therapy Dog and her human, Megan, cheer people up by visiting a hospital, a school, a retirement home, and a library.

Each book includes back matter on the team, including a Q&A with the human half of each team, and safety and kindness tips for readers to remember. The books have short, easy-to-read sentences with loads of sight words, making this a great step up for early readers who are ready to take on more challenging material. And the photos! The photos! Look at Stella and her sunglasses!

And here’s Willow with Megan!

I love these books, and hope we get more in this series. These work as early nonfiction career books, too; they can function as companion books to books on firefighters, police, and therapists. The kids in my library will gobble them up, and my kiddo devoured all four the day they arrived at my home. Got Paw Patrol fans? Show them these books and tell them these are the real Paw Patrol dogs! Visit National Geographic Kids’ Doggy Defenders site for a slideshow and more information about the books.


Stella the Search Dog, by Lisa M. Gerry/photos by Lori Epstein, (Aug. 2019, Natonal Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3449-8

Willow the Therapy Dog, by Lisa M. Gerry/photos by Lori Epstein, (Aug. 2019, Natonal Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3447-4

Tiger the Police Dog, by Lisa M. Gerry/photos by Lori Epstein, (Aug. 2019, Natonal Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3297-5

Dolley the Fire Dog, by Lisa M. Gerry/photos by Lori Epstein, (Aug. 2019, Natonal Geographic Kids), $9.99, ISBN: 978-1-4263-3229-9

Ages 3-7

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

Blog Tour: The Missing Money, by Okeoma Moronu Schreiner

Coming off a successful Kickstarter, Money Monsters: The Missing Money is here to teach kids about handling their money – and to trust that chompy ATM machine.

The Missing Money (Money Monsters), by Okeoma Moronu Schreiner/Illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat,
(July 2019, FinKidLit), $11.95, ISBN: 978-1733806718
Ages 4-7

Kai is a little boy who’s very excited: he has a bunch of money from his Chinese New Year red envelopes, and Dad’s promised to take him to the bank to deposit it! But – holy cow – they don’t even get into the bank when A GIANT ATM MONSTER EATS HIS MONEY! Kai is not happy about this turn of events, and puts together a plan to get his money back. When he lets his parents know, though, they’re not terribly concerned: in fact, they tell him that his money is safe and sound, and that an ATM keeps his money safe until he’s ready to use it again. They even show him a nifty phone app where he can check on his money any time he wants!

The Missing Money is an adorable introduction to money management for younger kids. “Happy Lawyer” Okeoma Moronu Schreiner is a corporate finance attorney and mom, and has a wonderful storytelling voice here. The Missing Money is a realistic, fun, and approachable way to introduce kids to money management: banks, ATMs, and bank apps! A key words section introduces new vocabulary, and conversation starters help families and caregivers start talking about money. Sandhya Prabhat’s hand-painted and digital illustrations are bright, bold, and adorable! Kai is a biracial child of color with an Asian father and brown-skinned mother, and lives in what looks like an urban environment.

A great way to start talking to our little ones about saving those pennies (and dollars). I’m looking forward to seeing other Money Monsters Ms. Schreiner and Ms. Sandhya Prabhat have in store!


A little Q&A with author Okeoma Moronu Schreiner…

How did financial literacy for young people become a passion of yours?
Before I was a personal finance junkie, I was an elementary school teacher. I guess you could say that I’ve always had a passion for translating seemingly complex concepts into fun, educational content. 

What advice do you have for parents interested in starting these financial discussions with their children?
Do it early and often. 

Why is it important to start these money talks with your children at a young age?
The earlier you start these conversations the more comfortable you’ll be having them throughout the many seasons of parenthood. Truth is that the conversations will only get tougher and tougher as your children get older so you want to develop the language and comfort before it’s too late. Your children are internalizing “stories” and beliefs about money that may not be true and have the potential of impacting their financial lives forever. If we, as parents, don’t help shape those stories and beliefs, our children will create their own. 

What are some concrete steps parents can take while their children are young to start their children out on the right financial path?
Take the time to involve them in your everyday money decisions. Whether it’s choosing between two products at the grocery store or choosing not to spend on something in order to save for a bigger goal, children will benefit from understanding how money decisions are made in everyday situations. 

Speak to them about in values, not figures. In our house, our kids know that the environment is very important to us so we’ll pay more for a product that is more sustainable and/or eco-friendly. Help your little ones understand your family’s values and how your money supports and reflects those values. 

Teach them contentment. This is a hard lesson that can take a lifetime to learn. In order to get your little one off on the right foot you can lead by example, help your children practice gratitude and teach them the value of giving. 

Posted in Early Reader, Intermediate, Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Non-Fiction, Non-Fiction, Preschool Reads

Read, Learn & Create: The Nature Craft Book is great for kids!

Hi, all! I know my posting schedule has been off the last several weeks, and I ask you all to bear with me. I’ve received a promotion and am getting into the swing of things at my new library (actually one of my first; I went back to my home away from home in Corona). I’ve been reading and furiously scribbling notes, though! More on the new digs shortly. For now, it’s back to my reviews!

The Nature Craft Book, by Clare Beaton, (May 2019, Charlesbridge), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1-58089-843-0

Ages 3=

I LOVE nature crafts, and I love easy nature crafts. My first grader has a real love for wandering the neighborhood, collecting various leaves, snail shells, sticks, rocks… anything that strikes his fancy, and we’ve gone on some great nature walks in our neighborhood and local parks. I even brought home acorns from Rochester, NY for him when I was there for a library conference. He loved them!

The Nature Craft Book is part of Charlesbridge’s Read, Learn & Create series (there’s an Ocean Craft Book, too!) is is loaded with ideas, templates, and facts for you and your kids to enjoy. Every craft is created with a respect for nature and our environment; a note at the beginning mentions that “it’s hard for some plants and creatures to survive where factories or farms have replaced wild places”, and encourages kids to “attract wildlife” by planting wildlife-friendly plants and flowers, putting water out for birds, and keeping nature journals. It fosters a real love and respect for our world. Activities include different bird feeders, toilet paper tube owls, leaf printing, animal finger puppets. The crafts give us a chance to reuse household objects like yogurt containers, hangers, and tissue boxes, and to create with found objects like pine combs and twigs. Even little crafters can get in on the fun, coloring and creating simple, enjoyable art.  Facts about birds, freshwater wildlife, raccoons, and other wildlife give readers a quick, overall idea of different animals and plants. The crafts are easy and can be done on a budget, which makes this spot-on for me at home or at work. My kiddo and I have already created a couple of craft projects from here and are planning winter bird feeders for our backyard. The collage artwork is adorable and labeled to introduce kids to different kinds of animals, trees, and leaves.

Grab this series for your shelves. I know I will.

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

More Nocturnals! Who will win The Chestnut Challenge?

The Nocturnals: The Chestnut Challenge, by Tracey Hecht/Illustrated by Josie Yee, (April 2019, Fabled Films Press), $12.99, ISBN: 978-1-944020-23-1

Ages 5-7

The latest Nocturnals easy reader is a story about playing fair. Sugar glider Bismark just loses a game of chestnut checkers to Tobin the pangolin, when a chinchilla named Chandler shows up and declares himself a chestnut champion, challining poor Tobin to a game. Tobin just likes to play for fun, but Bismark nudges him into play. Chandler causes distractions that get the group to look elsewhere so he can cheat, but Bismark finally catches him and calls him out! After confessing to cheating because he wanted to win, Tobin gently reminds him that practice makes perfect, and Dawn invites him to play with them as a group. The Chestnut Challenge addresses cheating, but it also looks at being sore losers and sore winners: we see Bismark being a sore loser, and Chandler, when cheating, gloats over his moves. Tobin doesn’t want to be in cutthroat competition, he just wants to have fun; it’s a point we should all be making when we read this with our kiddos. Winning can be fun, but cheating to win isn’t really winning. That said, being gracious and offering someone a second chance is winning, all on its own. (And, naturally, with Bismark keeping an eye out.) Back matter includes an introduction to each of the core group of Nocturnals, plus a fun fact about chestnuts.

I’m a dedicated fan of this series. Tracey Hecht has a way of reaching kids by using adorable animals with distinctive personalities to get to the heart of real-life situations kids find themselves coping with, and how to start discussions about those situations. These books are a great go-to for us grown-ups, too. The Nocturnals World website has great, free downloadables, including activity kids, coloring sheets and games, videos, and educational resources.


Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Fiction, Intermediate

The Bossy Pirate is facing a mutiny!

The Bossy Pirate, by John Steven Gurney, (Oct. 2018, Schiffer Publishing), $16.99, ISBN: 9780764356254

Ages 6-8

A little boy who goes by the pirate moniker “Salty Jack” plays pirate in his room, and invites – well, commands, really – his friends to come on board as his crew. As the title suggests, Salty Jack is not the greatest captain or playmate, continually reminding his friends that “I’m Captain! I give the orders!” and not letting anyone else have a say in their pirate game. When he tries to boss his sister, Millie the Mermaid, around, thought, she merely says, “Mermaids don’t take orders”, and leaves. Shortly after that, Jack’s other two friends have had it with his bossiness and leave, too. Jack broods, and blames his friends for ruining his fun; when Millie returns to ask him if his friends were having fun, too, he doesn’t answer. Jack discovers that being a solo pirate is no fun, and has a change of heart that brings all his mates back on board, where they hunt for lost treasure together.

A smart easy reader story about sharing and playing well together, The Bossy Pirate is a good read-aloud and a good independent book for newly confident readers. The sentences are slightly longer than beginning easy readers, and include imaginative words like scuttlebutt, barnacle, and nautical. Back matter includes a list of nautical terms that come up in the book, and a list of “nonsense words” that the pirate friends use. The artwork combines realistic and imaginative, with action going from Jack’s room to the high seas, where whales and dolphins glide and leap around a pirate ship. The group of friends is multicultural.

The Bossy Pirate is good fun with a smart message: it’s always better to play well together. Let the kids make their own newspaper pirate hats and have a pirate storytime.





Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

I Think I Can is a sight-word reader made for book buddies!

I Think I Can, by Karen S. Robbins/Illustrated by Rachael Brunson, (Jan. 2019, Schiffer Publishing), $14.99, ISBN: 9780764356919

Ages 5-7

How exciting! Karen Robbins, a Romper Room teacher in the 1960s, has realized a new career as a children’s book author. I loved her THINK board book series (2017) for its fun take on concept board books. Her latest book, I Think I Can, is great for emerging readers to practice together. Aardvark is convinced he can sing; his friend, Mouse, encourages him to sing a song, and acts as a supportive audience. Written in short, color-blocked sentences largely composed of sight words, kids can take turns being Aardvark (in blue font) and Mouse (in black font). A note in the beginning of the book explains how the book works, and the sentences model question-and-answer behavior, with Mouse repeating Aardvark’s statements as questions until it’s established that Aardvark will sing.

The artwork is spare and keeps the emphasis on the characters, each on their own page, set against a plain white background. Aardvark has large, expressive eyes and body language; Mouse relies more on body language and his big smile to communicate. The story itself reminds me of how a teacher would work with young children, explaining behavior as the story progresses. For instance, when Mouse is seated, waiting for Aardvark to sing, he says, “OK. I’m sitting in the chair. I’m looking at you. Let me hear you sing your song. Let me see the surprise.”

This works just as well as a storytime for preschoolers and pre-readers; there are actions that make the story interactive: Mouse hides his eyes in anticipation of a surprise; Aardvark’s song is sung to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat, allowing kids to clap along to the beat of the song, and Mouse applauds at the end, letting readers know they can jump in and clap, too.

This is a sweet story, great for pairing up your readers to practice. I hope Miss Karen has more stories like this to tell!