Micro Review: My Little Pony: Under the Sparkling Sea by Mary Jane Begin

 

Title: My Little Pony: Under the Sparkling Sea

Author: Mary Jane Begin

Kindle version is only $2.99!

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

This gorgeous illustrated picture book features a brand-new My Little Pony underwater adventure, and includes an exclusive art poster!

When Twilight Sparkle receives an invitation to visit the underwater city of Aquastria, she invites all her pony friends and Spike to travel with her. The ponies are welcomed by the ruler of Aquastria, King Leo, who sits on the Cosmic Council alongside his cousin, Princess Celestia. There is a long-held rivalry between the seaponies and the mermares. The two groups compete each year in a race for the grand prize, which is a beautiful pearl. Join the ponies and Spike as they confront danger, make new friends and race to the finish in this shimmering new world!


Review:

I wasn’t feeling well earlier this week, so I wasn’t in the mood to read a  book with lots of words.  One that demanded a lot of attention. So  I picked up My Little Pony: Under The Sparkling Sea because, well, it’s My Little Pony!  And I thought the bright, vivid illustrations would cheer me up.  They did! 

Twilight Sparkle and the pony gang are invited to the Annual Aquastria Race by King Leo.   While some of the ponies have to be convinced that a good time will be had by all, they all worry about how they can attend.  Aquastria is located under the water!  Twilight Sparkle quickly reassures them that her magic will overcome all obstacles, like the ability to breathe under water, and soon they are on their way.  They meet many new friends, and are awed by the seaponies’ beautiful city.   They even rescue a few of their new friends!

I wasn’t totally wowed by the story, but the artwork is stunning.  Colorful and detailed, Mary Jane Begin’s illustrations capture the magic and wonderful of Aquastria.  I don’t know much about the My Little Pony characters, other what my niece has excitedly shared when she is on a MLP geek-out, but each of them has a unique, appealing design that incorporates their trademark flowing manes and chunky legs.  Each of them is a distinctive splash of color throughout the book.

While the story isn’t a total dog,  it falters in comparison to the lovely, vibrant artwork.  Still, this lovely rendered picture book will appeal to My Little Pony’s many fans.

Grade:  B-

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.

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Micro Review: Some Cat! by Mary Casanova and Ard Hoyt

 

Title: Some Cat!

Author: Mary Casanova

Illustrator: Ard Hoyt

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Violet has always imagined ruling a kingdom with sharp claws and velvet paws, so when she is adopted and goes to live with two dogs, she immediately takes over with a Meowww! Hisssss! and Spat! Poor George and Zippity try to befriend Violet, but they get nowhere. One afternoon, while her new family is out fishing, Violet is awakened by some stray dogs who chase poor Violet into a corner. Luckily, George and Zippity arrive home just in time to help.

Review:

I love Ard Hoyt’s art, and I am now a rabid fan.  Some Cat! revisits George and Zippity from Some Dog!, introducing Violet, a homeless cat, to the family.  I love the humans in both of these books.  They are patient and loving to their pets, willing to watch from the sidelines as their new family member tries to find a place for herself.  The problem is, Violet isn’t easy to get along with, and she doesn’t make things easy for herself.  She, like most cats, believes that she is royalty, and instead of trying to make friends with George and Zippity, she attempts to take charge – of everything.   She bullies her new animal companions, stealing their toys, food, and favorite sleeping spots.  She hisses at them, and she swats at them with her velvet paws, claws extended.  She is so NOT nice!  When a pack of dogs attack her, though, it is George and Yippity to the rescue.  Will Violet finally learn to play well with others?

This is a delightful story, with wonderful prose and charming illustrations that perfectly capture the mood and action of the book.  Some Cat! is sure to enchant animal lovers both young and old.

Grade:  A

Review copy provided by publisher

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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 and Giveaway: Horseplay! by Karma Wilson & Jim McMullan

 

Title: Horseplay!

Author:  Karma Wilson

Illustrator: Jim McMullan

Publisher: Little Brown and Company

 

Review:

Poor Farmer is confused.  His horses are so exhausted that they sleep the day away.  Farmer  knows that they aren’t working that hard, so he’s worried that something is wrong with them.  One night, he hides behind a hay bale and he catches them in the act!  What is going on at night? Horseplay!! Lots and lots of horseplay!  These silly horses stay up all night long goofing off, and that leaves them much too tired to work. 

This is a pretty funny picture book.  The horses keep finding ways to outwit Farmer and continue to have their fun.  That’s a remarkable accomplishment since horses have brains the size of a walnut.  Farmer gets mighty worked up each time he catches his horses being naughty, and the colorful art captures his frustration with a great deal of humor.  The illustrations are cartoony and fit well with the lighthearted tone of the book. 

GIVEAWAY!

Little Brown and Company has a copy of Horseplay! for one lucky reader.  Not sure if you want to enter?  Here are some sample pages from Horseplay!  Look at those exhausted ponies!  Look at that frustrated Farmer!

I love this one!  Farmer has been outwitted by the sly ponies!

 

Fill out the widget below to enter for your chance to win a finished copy of Horseplay!  I want a young reader to enjoy this book, so entering is easy!  Only two entries.

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Review and Giveaway: Red Knit Hat Girl by Naoko Stoop

 

Title: Red Knit Cap Girl

Author: Naoko Stoop

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Red Knit Cap Girl is a little girl with a big dream — to meet the Moon.

Red Knit Cap Girl lives with her animal friends in an enchanted forest. There is so much to see and do, but more than anything Red Knit Cap Girl wishes she could talk to the Moon. Join Red Knit Cap Girl and her forest friends on a journey of curiosity, imagination, and joy as they search for a way to meet the Moon.

Gorgeously illustrated on wood grain, Red Knit Cap Girl’s curiosity, imagination, and joy will captivate the hearts of readers young and old as her journey offers a gentle reminder to appreciate the beauty of the natural world around us.

Review:

Red Knit Cap Girl is the story of a girl who longs to talk to the moon.  After many failed attempts, she asks Mr Owl how to reach the moon.  By following his advice, she throws a party with her animal friends in honor of the moon.  Gentle and quiet, the book shows that anything can be accomplished once you set your mind to it.  With help from her forest friends, Red Knit Cap Girl discovers a way to finally make her dream come true.

I liked the quiet tone of Red Knit Cap Girl, and thought the soft illustrations fit the story perfectly.  The animals don’t have a lot of distracting detail, but instead are painted with rounded edges.  The shading for the animals is delicate, and the backgrounds all feel textured, which gives the paintings a great deal of depth.  The artist created her paintings on plywood, and each page has a unique backdrop for the story.  I thought the illustrations were cute, and Red Knit Cap Girl and her acorn shaped head are adorable.

GIVEAWAY!

Little Brown and Company has a copy of Red Knit Hat Girl for one lucky reader.  Not sure if you want to enter?  Here are some sample pages from Red Knit Hat Girl!  The animals are super cute! 

 

I love how her knit hat looks like an acorn!

Fill out the widget below to enter for your chance to win a finished copy of Red Knit Hat Girl!  I want a young reader to enjoy this book, so entering is easy!  What are you waiting for?

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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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