Graphic Novel Review: Binky Takes Charge by Ashley Spires

 

 

Title: Binky Takes Charge

Author: Ashley Spires

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Binky the space cat has been promoted to lieutenant. He’s now in charge of training the next generation of space cadets. But then he meets the new space kitten — who isn’t a kitten at all! Is someone trying to pull the fur over his eyes? Binky and Captain Gracie need to figure out the new cadet before the next alien attack!


Review:

I love Binky!  Somehow I allowed this installment of Binky’s space adventures to languish on my iPad, but I’m glad I finally had a chance to read it.  Binky has been given a promotion, and he’s getting a new cadet to train.  To his dismay, however, he learns that FURST (Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) has morphed into PURST (Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) in an effort to diversify its membership.  He’s upset to think that he’s a Space Pet, instead of an esteemed Space Cat.  To add insult to injury, his new trainee isn’t a CAT, but a lesser life form instead.  Gordon is a puppy! What is the world coming to?

This book is hilarious!  Poor Binky is at his wit’s end.  Not only is Gordon clumsy, noisy, and an attention hound (pun intended), Binky starts to think that he’s a double agent.  Why else would the aliens be so interested in Gordon’s waste matter? Why else would he be stealing Binky’s human’s possessions?  Why else would he deactivate the anti-alien device??  Things are looking mighty grim in Binky’s world, but he needs concrete proof before he can go to his superiors.  With Gracie’s help, Binky begins a careful and thorough investigation into the motives and behavior of his new charge, and what he discovers is surprising.

This is such a cute series.  The art is comical yet expressive, and Binky’s adventures are always good for a few laughs.  I enjoyed the introduction of Gordon, and more specifically, I found Binky’s reaction to his new student amusing.  With his superior cat attitude, he is resigned to teaching a not so bright trainee, but he isn’t certain of success.  Once the evidence stacks up and Gordon looks like a double-agent, Binky and Gracie race against the clock to maintain the integrity of their space station and the safety of their humans.   This is great stuff, and now I am convinced that Bumble and Poppy are member of PURST.  They are like ninjas, albeit  occasionally clumsy ninjas, in their efforts to take out aliens.  I have never had dogs so determined to wipe out the insect population in the nearby vicinity, so I wonder – have these guys been through boot camp, possibly with Lieutenant Binky?

Recommended for animals lovers of all ages

Grade:  B+

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Yalu and the Puppy Room by Brian T Yates

 

Title: Yalu and the Puppy Room

Author:  Brian T Yates

Available in print and digital

Only $2.99 for the Kindle!

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Yalu is a six week old puppy selected for a family who wants a Golden Retriever. Not only is she’s cute, fury, and brown, but has all the confidence she needs to be successful. The problem is that the family doesn’t select her, the only candidate sent in for the interview. Now she’s the dog nobody wants. Based on a true story, Yalu discovers how to stand out from the other dogs in her kennel and finds a forever home where she will become a family’s special princess.


Review:

Awww, this is a very cute chapter book that animals lovers are sure to enjoy.  Yalu is a puppy, and all she wants is a forever home, where she will be treated like the princess she is.  When all of her puppy tricks to captivate and enchant prospective owners fail to yield results, she is dejected.  Persistence pays off, though, and soon Yalu has a family of her own!

Yalu and the Puppy Room is packed with colorful, endearing illustrations that supplement the text.  As Yalu is rejected time and again, readers will begin to empathize with the little puppy.  Why isn’t she ever good enough to be chosen over all of the other puppies?  She is so cute!  She has the pathetic, love me puppy-dog eyes down pat.  Yet time and again, other puppies are picked over Yalu.  There is a wonderful sense of suspense that builds to the end, because you start stressing with Yalu.  I’d have picked her!

This  book is based on the author’s own experiences, which made the read even better for me.  The story is lovingly related, as a young couple comes to Yalu’s kennel and don’t find the new family member they are looking for, until, finally, Yalu is brought to the puppy room to strut her stuff.  If you have a young reader on your Christmas shopping list, I think that this book would made a great present.

Grade:  B+  (extra points for cuteness)

Review copy provided by publisher

A Look Inside Full Count: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Baseball

 

 

Title: Full Count: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Baseball

Publisher: Sports Illustrated

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Get everything you ever wanted to know about America’s pastime in FULL COUNT: TOP 10 LISTS OF EVERYTHING IN BASEBALL . Presented in the format of Top 10 lists, this book is a comprehensive yet fun look at the greatest aspects of the game. From the top World Series moments to the most colorful characters, SI Kids ranks a variety of topics from the baseball diamond. Readers are guaranteed to love the big, exciting action photos from the Sports Illustrated collection and the insider knowledge of SI Kids. Filled with trivia and information, this dynamic book will be the definitive kids book on baseball.
Top 10 Rankings include:

Hardest throwers
Slickest infielders
Powerful sluggers
Loveable losers
Fastest base stealers
Best ballparks


The Look Inside:

As with all of the Sports Illustrated Kids books, Full Count: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Baseball is beautifully presented.  The book is huge, featuring eye-popping photographs, both in color and black and white,  of the best in baseball.   I love these Top 10 books, and  the material had me flipping eagerly through the pages.  While I was a huge baseball fan in my teens, I have flipped over to football and hockey, preferring a faster, harder hitting game.  There was still plenty to hold my attention here, including Top 10 Ugly Uniforms (and yes, they are hideous! Most of the fugly are from the 70s, which doesn’t surprise me, but gaak! I can’t believe anyone thought these uniforms looked COOL!), Top 10 Mascots, and Top 10 Nicknames.  There are lots of Tigers mentioned, too, though Ernie Harwell only ranked second on the Top 10 Announcers list.  What?!  He was baseball in Detroit, and listening to games will never be the same without him.

Now, for those baseball fans out there, don’t be alarmed – there are plenty of lists with compelling baseball moments.  If Top 10 Facial Hair doesn’t interest you, I’m such that Top 10 Future Hall of Famers, Top 10 Scandals, and Top 10 Legendary Home Runs will get your blood pumping.  It was fun Googling footage of some of the most memorable moments in baseball, but without this book, I never would have thought to do it!  Hank Aaron’s 715th home run?  it’s on YouTube.  Kirk Gibson’s game winning homer in 1988?  Read about it in the book, then go watch it for yourself. 

If you have a young baseball fan at home, Full Count: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Baseball will keep them entertained with the action-packed shots and fun trivia.  With the holidays fast approaching, this will make a fun gift for the baseball fan in your life.

Grade:  Fun!

Review copy provided by publisher

I Say, You Say Opposites and I Say, You Say Animal Sounds Giveaway!

Happy Saturday! Thanks to Little Brown, I have THREE sets of the cutest board books to giveaway!  I SAY, YOU SAY OPPOSITES! and I SAY, YOU SAY ANIMAL SOUNDS! by artist Tad Carpenter, released on September 11th, and now you have a chance to win a set!

From the publisher:  

I SAY, YOU SAY OPPOSITES! and I SAY, YOU SAY ANIMAL SOUNDS! are interactive and endlessly entertaining lift-the-flap board books that emphasize "word prediction," an important language development step for young readers. As parent readers call out the animal on each page, the child reader is encouraged to triumphantly respond with the correct answer, hidden beneath the flap. Fun and educational, this call-and-response technique offers a playful interactive reading experience and is a delightful and exciting way for children to learn words.

With a bright, retro-style palette and round-eyed animals, the I SAY, YOU SAY board book series is perfect for today’s hip babies and parents.

Tad Carpenter is an illustrator and designer living in Kansas City, Missouri, and an adjunct professor in graphic design and illustration at the University of Kansas. You can visit him at www.tadcarpenter.com.

I SAY, YOU SAY OPPOSITES!

So cute!!

 

I SAY, YOU SAY ANIMAL SOUNDS!

So adorable!

Entering is easy! Just fill out the Rafflecopter widget below.  Extra entries for following and tweeting.   US mailing addresses only, please.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Micro Review–Dog in Charge by K L Going and Dan Santat

 

 

 

 

Title:  Dog in Charge

Author: K L Going

Illustrator: Dan Santat

Publisher:  Dial

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

When the going gets tough, Dog . . . takes a nap

Dog can Sit.

He can Stay.

He can even Dance.

But when he’s in charge, can he keep the cats in line?

All one, two, three, four, five of them?

With slapstick silliness and utterly earnest charm, Dog will quickly wiggle his way into preschoolers’ hearts.

,

Review:

This is one of the best picture books that I have ever read! It is so cute!!  It even had an unsuspected twist that brought a huge smile to my face.  Poor Dog is left in charge when his people have to go out.  He is left in charge of five naughty cats.  The cats, while not devious, love to play, and Dog is having a hard time keeping tabs on all one, two, three, four, five of them.  When the tensions run the highest, and the house couldn’t get any messier, Dog succumbs to a nap to refresh himself, allowing the cats to save the day.  The cats all love Dog, which made me love them. 

If you have young readers at home, this is a fun book with big, bold illustrations that is sure to please. Even if you don’t have young readers, sneak Dog in Charge home from the library for a quick, delightful read.

Grade:  A

Review copy obtained from my local library

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Cover Shot! Rocket Writes A Story by Tad Hills

Cover Shot! is a regular feature here at the Café. I love discovering new covers, and when I find them, I like to share. More than anything else, I am consumed with the mystery that each new discovery represents. There is an allure to a beautiful cover. Will the story contained under the pages live up to promise of the gorgeous cover art?

I probably read more picture books than most adults should, but I can’t help myself.  There is so much energy and depth in a good picture book.  One of my favorites so far has been How Rocket Learned to Read.  I am a sucker for the cuteness, and how can you resist the sense of delight when Rocket did, finally, learn how to connect those confusing lines and make meaningful words?  The art is adorable, too.  When I saw that Rocket will be returning for another adventure, Rocket Writes A Story by Tad Hills was immediately placed on my wish list.  In stores July 2012.

 

This irresistible sequel to the New York Times bestselling How Rocket Learned to Read is "a perfect choice to inspire new readers and writers," according to a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

Rocket loves books and he wants to make his own, but he can’t think of a story. Encouraged by the little yellow bird to look closely at the world around him for inspiration, Rocket sets out on a journey. Along the way he discovers small details that he has never noticed before, a timid baby owl who becomes his friend, and an idea for a story. This book is sure to appeal to kids, parents, teachers, and librarians.

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Review: Crazy Horse’s Vision by Joseph Bruchac & S D Nelson

 

 

Title: Crazy Horse’s Vision

Author:  Joseph Bruchac & S D Nelson

Publisher: Lee and Low

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Joseph Bruchac tells the compelling story of how a young boy named Curly seeks a vision in the hope of saving his people – and grows into the brave and fierce warrior Crazy Horse. Sioux artist S. D. Nelson’s paintings, in the traditional ledger style of the Plains Indians, evokes the drama and the tragedy of this important American figure.

Review:

My fascination with the lives of Native Americans continues.  I haven’t read many picture books about Plains Indians, so discovering new reading material at the library has been fun.  Crazy Horse’s Vision is my favorite to date.  It doesn’t cover much of the conflict between white settlers and the Lakota, instead focusing on Crazy Horse’s childhood.  The tone is more upbeat than my previous forays into the lives of famous Native Americans, and the paintings are breathtaking.  I love S D Nelson’s use of color; these illustrations are big and bold, the vivid hues jumping off the pages and demanding more than a second glance.

Introducing readers to Crazy Horse, the book follows the carefree days of his youth.  Though lacking in stature, he was a charismatic child with a thirst for adventure.  Exploring one end of the Lakota territory to the other, where he led, the other boys followed.  From his first buffalo hunt to the taming of his pinto horse,  bright visuals accompany his childhood triumphs.   When trouble brews between his people and the white settlers, Crazy Horse is desperate to help protect his band.  Striking out on his own, he seeks a vision to give him the wisdom to help the Lakota during the troubled times that are fast approaching.

Gorgeous illustrations document Crazy Horse and his childhood vision quest.  I found this an interesting look at one of the fiercest Lakota warriors.  Remembered for his prowess in battle, Crazy Horse was also kind and generous, as well as a man of few words.  The prose is interesting and highly readable, but the bold, vivid illustrations are what held my attention and kept me flipping through this book time and again. The paintings are beautiful and made this a delight to read.

Grade:  B+

Review copy obtained from my local library

 

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Review: Binky Under Pressure by Ashley Spires

 

Title: Binky Under Pressure

Author: Ashley Spires

Publisher: Kids Can Press

ISBN: 978-1554535040

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

In Binky’s third adventure, our intrepid, sometimes accident-prone hero is shaken out of his routine when he’s forced to contend with Gracie, a dainty striped foster kitty who comes to live at Binky’s space station (aka his home at 42 Sentinel Parkway). Binky instantly resents the new arrival, whose cute face and perfect manners are downright annoying. Indeed, Gracie seems too perfect. So Binky decides to do some undercover investigating and discovers a shocking truth about the family guest. Soon Binky is thrust full-throttle into a situation that puts all his Space Cat skills to the ultimate test!

Review:

Binky’s back for another humorous adventure, and this time around he has a companion.  A decidedly unwanted companion, in the form of foster kitty Gracie.  When Binky’s beloved humans introduce him to his new room mate, he’s apprehensive at first, and then plain annoyed.  She’s eating his food, using his litter box, and playing with his best friend!  How could they do this to him?  Taking matters into his own furry paws, Binky explains to Gracie that there just isn’t room in the space station for both of them.  Then Gracie pulls out her triumph card – she’s a member of F.U.R.S.T., and she outranks him!

I loved this outing for Binky.  Gracie is there to evaluate him, and report back about his worthiness to keep his space cat card.  Binky being Binky, it’s kind of touch and go as he blunders his way through one test after another.  It’s only after an actual alien invasion that he’s finally able to strut his space cat stuff and save the day, with some team work with his CO.

The art showcases Ashley Spires’ distinctive comedic look.  Binky’s plump torso and triangle shaped head mask a skilled warrior who deals death to alien invaders with little hesitation.  Gracie is drawn with more cunning lines, and at first, I doubted her ability to commander a well-run space station like Binky’s.  A little adversity and a stealth invasion pushed those thoughts right out of my mind.

If you are looking for a chuckle worthy escape from the stress of your day, grab one of the Binky books and be prepared to laugh.  A lot.  If you want to laugh even more, read them aloud.  To anything.  Make sure you vocalize the sound effects.  You’ll be rolling around on the floor, even the dog isn’t quite as amused as you are.

Grade: B+

Review copy provided by publisher