Children's Literature is a respected review source helping literature professionals and children’s and YA book lovers find valuable titles. Since 1993, we have published over 100,000 reviews and our review team comprises close to 70 reviewers (professors, teachers, librarians, and other professionals). Reviews are published as part of Children's Literature and added to CLCD, also known as the Children's Literature Comprehensive Database, used by thousands of librarians and educators. We also enrich the MARC record data for various library industry vendors. Our reviews are fair, and we do not insist that our reviewers provide only positive reviews. We believe that an honest assessment of the work is critical to children's reading.
The Sasquatch, The Fire and the Cedar Baskets
By: Joseph Dandurand
Illustrated by: Simon Daniel James
Publisher: Nightwood Editions
Reviewer: Elisabeth Greenberg
This interesting take on the Sasquatch (a.k.a. Bigfoot, the Giant of the Forest) combines beautiful photography of Canadian forest scenes with cartoon images of Sasquatch going about his life. Sasquatch, orphaned by a forest fire many years ago, is over nine feet tall, has feet five times the regular size, and is covered by brown fur. Even the wild bears welcome him at their fishing spot; he is just another big hairy animal that likes to eat fish. Dandurand explores Sasquatch’s life, from his feet leaving puddles deep enough to swim in, to his concern about staying clean as he wanders through the cedar forest, and his deep sleep during the cold icy winter. But then, spring comes and Sasquatch—now a full-grown, twelve-foot-tall spirit of the cedar forest—encounters his mate at a stream. Together they love; together they have a baby. Lady Sasquatch weaves cedar baskets, filling them with water at the base of the trees. When fire comes, she and the baby shelter, while Sasquatch fights the fire down with the cedar baskets of water. This simple tale has the rhythm of a long bedtime story and the fun of mixing illustration with photography. It portrays the cycle of nature with loss and beauty, in the release of butterflies at the end of the story and the care the Lady Sasquatch takes in bandaging her mate’s burnt hands. While not exactly a piece of folklore, this explores one mysterious aspect of the oral stories told by the indigenous people of Canada. Both the writer and the illustrator are well-known indigenous artists of the First Nations.
By: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara
Illustrated by: Pauline Morgan
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books
Review: Mary Lanni
The sport of soccer runs in Megan Rapinoe’s veins like breath fills her lungs. Introduced to the sport at the age of four, Megan and her twin sister Rachel continued playing together for years. Megan earned a college scholarship for her skills on the field, and played for Portland State University before turning professional, and ultimately winning both the Olympics and the World Cup. Coming out as gay in 2012, Megan is an inspiration to people and athletes everywhere who are confident in being true to themselves. Like the others in the "Little People, Big Dreams" series, this biographical account of Megan Rapinoe’s life begins at her birth and runs to the present day. The vibrant illustrations are filled with patterns like checkerboards and lines which serve to enhance the visual appeal of the story. Both endpapers feature soccer balls and confetti, celebrating Megan’s accomplishments from the moment this book is opened. Short sentences and brief paragraphs are carefully placed so as not to obscure the images on each page. These carefully crafted lines present Megan’s story in a factual way while emphasizing the social challenges Megan faced, especially in middle school. Includes a timeline of Megan Rapinoe’s life, as well as a consolidated biography. Titles of two additional books are included, as well, for those readers who wish to learn more about Megan Rapinoe. Features a sturdy cover and classy canvas spine, like other books in the "Little People, Big Dreams" series. This is an excellent addition to biographical library collections for elementary school-aged readers.
Step into Alice in Wonderland
By: Cynthia Alonso
Publisher: words & pictures
Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer
Young children will be enchanted with this creative introduction to a popular childhood tale. The board book features layered die-cut pages in different sizes and shapes. Opening the cover, which is the smallest page, takes the reader right into the story. Alice is lying on a riverbank when a rabbit scurries by and jumps down a hole. Curious, Alice follows. She eats and drinks and changes sizes, and eventually places a mysterious key in a lock. She encounters the caterpillar and the Cheshire Cat, before happening upon the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. She accepts an invitation to play croquet with the Queen of Hearts before she knows about the Queen's nasty temper. Alice is running as fast as she can when she, thankfully, awakens on the riverbank. She exclaims over her wonderful dream. The unusual large colorful pictures provide glimpses of scenes to come. Some pages also have strategically placed openings that hint at what's ahead, showing the eye of the Cheshire Cat, for instance. All in all, this is a fun book based on a favorite classic in children's literature.
Singing for Equality: Musicians of the Civil Rights Era
By: Diane Taylor
Publisher: Nomad Press
Reviewer: Heather Christensen
This entry in Nomad Press’s "Civil Rights Era" series showcases the role of music in the featured era by focusing on five influential singers/groups: Bob Dylan, Mavis Staples and the Staple Singers, Sam Cooke, James Brown, and Nina Simone. The book starts out with an overview, with background information about the time period and the Civil Rights Movement. Each chapter provides additional biographical information, focusing on the artists’ musical influences, training, and experience. The writing is breezy and conversational and encourage active participation through research activities, QR codes linking to YouTube videos, and “Wonder Why” questions that allow readers to make connections to their own lives and experiences. Although the narrative is engaging enough for pleasure reading, the format lends itself well to browsing, with quote pullouts, textboxes, timelines, primary source photos, and lists. A thorough glossary, a list of multimedia resources, and an extensive index make this well-suited for middle school research projects.
Little Bug on the Move
By: Stéphanie Babin
Illustrated by: Olivia Coseau
Reviewer: Mary Lanni
This little bug loves to explore her colorful world! One day, the little bug is investigating her garden, climbing up hills, running among trees, and even spinning on flowers. Always with a smile on her face, the little bug travels around the other insects and garden creatures, each familiar friend a quiet observer to the little bug’s journey. As the sun goes down on the garden, the little bug is nowhere to be found. Instead, the following morning, an unexpected surprise awaits. This simple story features a little bug who resembles a caterpillar, though she is never described with that word. Cheerful facial expressions are found on nearly all the creatures in this book, increasing the accessibility of this story. Written for very young children, the story has only a few words on each page. These brief phrases are designed to engage with young readers directly and encourage them to interact with the story. Use of onomatopoeia, repetition, and counting makes the book especially enjoyable to be read aloud. Originally written in French, this story reads well in the English translation and utilizes a predictable pattern in its execution. Easily the most fun element of this book is the fact that the little bug can change her position in every image. Though the dynamic pieces can be challenging for little hands to adjust on their own, young children will enjoy observing the little bug as she moves around. Colorful, cartoon-like illustrations bring the little bug’s world to life in a visually appealing way. The design of the board book makes the spine susceptible to breaking, but young readers who enjoy pretty stories with cute characters will appreciate the book while it lasts. This is a fun read for young children and their families.
The World Around Me
By: Charlotte Guillain
Illustrated by: Oliver Averill
Publisher: words & pictures
Reviewer: Kate Kupiec
The reader gets to go on two adventures, circumnavigating the globe first to learn about the human world and then to capture the wonder of the natural world. While readers can flip through the pages as they might a typical book, the eight-foot accordion fold-out, with one trip on each side of the panel, is really meant for the floor. Despite thick paper, this exciting design could easily lead to tears. The 16 feet of travel offer the opportunity to discover many international landmarks, traditions, foods, mountains, waterfalls, animals, and more. Fact- and number-heavy text, which could be overwhelming for some children, is supplemented with impeccable illustrations that are engaging and child-friendly without compromising their real counterparts. The book’s inside cover includes a world map, highlighting both routes with numbers for each point of interest. This might be supplemented with a sticker to place where the child lives to help bring some concrete perspective. It may also benefit from discussion that includes a globe, as the map is quite abstract and small to follow along with the unnumbered text. Each page of this informative read has many points of interest, and while both journeys go by page from left to right, not all pages read from top to bottom because of the stops’ relative cardinal positions—following the road through the pages is a bit twisty and unclear at times. A fantastic resource for introducing global awareness to young children, this piece is better to view together as introductions to new places, words, pronunciations, and facts might trigger questions. If you want a group read aloud or something that can be finished in one sitting, you may want to skip this book; still, as a learning tool, this book exceeds its objectives.
Neoscape: A Murdertrending Novel
By: Gretchen McNeil
Reviewer: Sarah Swan
Persephone, who goes by Persey, wins a problem-solving, escape-room game, thus earning her a trip to the special “Winners” game in Las Vegas. If she wins that game, she can prove to her parents that she’s not the failure they say she is. She just doesn’t take standardized tests well. Since the company that runs the games has supposedly gone belly up from a scandal, Persey is surprised that there’s going to be a winners’ playoff at all. When she gets there, she discovers a number of contestants are playing and that most of them seem to be connected to the game that was the company’s undoing. The premise of the game is that in order to progress to the next room, the players must team up to solve the puzzle opening the door. Each room is harder than the previous ones. The problem is people end up dead as the game progresses. It’s an intriguing story, and readers will find it hard to guess the villain, given the red herrings and misdirections sprinkled through the storyline. A lot of nail-biting scenes with ticking clocks and disappearing floors and shrinking walls will keep readers engaged. Readers who enjoy mysteries and thrillers will be drawn to this book. Teachers can use the story line to discuss how students learn differently and how problem solving helps one grow.
Rosa's Big Pizza Experiment
By: Jessica Spanyol
Publisher: Child's Play International, Ltd.
Reviewer: Michelle Cosimano
This book is it! If you are a preschool teacher or parent, this book is for you! The theme is pizza, but the subject matter is so much more. Diversity, vocabulary, sequencing, science, senses, problem-solving, sharing, and friendship can all be found in the pages. The kids in the book seem to be doing the pizza experiment on their own; there seems to be no teacher or parent present as it would seem. Not everything is perfect. First, the dough rips; moving on, it doesn’t rise. Still, we power through, with persistence. The text includes some great examples of onomatopoeia. This book is the ultimate pre-read to doing the activity yourself. The text is simple but meaningful, and there is not one word more than there needs to be. The illustrations are bright, clear, and inviting. Touted as a STEM resource "involving science, technology, engineering and number skills" (math), this is a perfect early learning book!