Story Time with Sara (actually, with Melissa): Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman

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Go, Dog. Go!Go, Dog. Go!
written by P. D. Eastman
published by Random House Books for Young Readers, 1961

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Disclosure: My son adores this book, and I’ve, therefore, read it about ninety zillion times, so my review might be a *bit* jaded.

Did I enjoy this book: 
Hey, all! I thought I’d try my hand at one of Sara’s famous kid book reviews, so I chose a book I love to hate: Go, Dog. Go!

It’s not that the book is stupid, exactly. I mean, I get that it’s cool for kids to be able to read books on their own when they’re first learning. I’m cool with instilling a sense of independence and accomplishment and all that, but seriously. How am I supposed to convey the magic and wonder of the world of literature to my kids when random colored dogs keep insulting each others’ headgear? Is this really the best we can do for our children? A dog party? A tiny bird directing traffic? Ping pong in a tree? And were orange and yellow somehow DIFFERENT in 1961, or am I just supposed to cringe every time my son gets to the part about what color the sun is?

. . . ok, actually. That stuff I just said sort of DOES sound magical and wonderful. Darnit.

I need more coffee.

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Would I recommend it: Begrudgingly. melissasig

About the book – from Goodreads: Reading goes to the dogs in this timeless Beginner Book edited by Dr. Seuss. From big dogs and little dogs to red, green, and blue dogs, dogs going up and dogs going fast . . . who knew dogs were so busy? And laughter will ensue at the repeated question “Do you like my hat?” Like P. D. Eastman’s classic Are You My Mother? Go, Dog. Go! has been a go-to favorite for over fifty years, leaving audiences of all breeds wagging their tails with delight.

Originally created by Dr. Seuss, Beginner Books encourage children to read all by themselves, with simple words and illustrations that give clues to their meaning.

“The canine cartoons make an elementary text funny and coherent and still one of the best around.”–School Library Journal. 

 

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

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ChrysanthemumChrysanthemum
written by Kevin Henkes
published by Greenwillow Books, 1991

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
This is a sweet little story that my whole family enjoyed reading! We had a great time following little Chrysanthemum as she struggled with bullies and discovered that being a little different is not just okay but great!

This cute (and short) story is full of vibrant pictures that bring the silly and fanciful Chrysanthemum to life. My boys felt connected to her and were honestly concerned when the other little girls picked on her. This was a fun and safe story to introduce the concept bullying to little (preschool) kids, as well as instilling the fundamental truth that it is okay to be who you are no matter what.
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Would I recommend it: In short, yes. It’s hard to go wrong with this one. The story is short, the theme is good and approached at an age-appropriate level, and the illustrations were fun and nicely complimented to story. Go ahead and pick this one up!

sarasig

About the book – from Goodreads: Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, the nationally bestselling and celebrated creator of Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse,Owen, and Kitten’s First Full Moon, Chrysanthemum is a funny and honest school story about teasing, self-esteem, and acceptance to share all year round.

Chrysanthemum thinks her name is absolutely perfect—until her first day of school. “You’re named after a flower!” teases Victoria. “Let’s smell her,” says Jo. Chrysanthemum wilts. What will it take to make her blossom again?

This popular picture book has sold more than a million copies and was named a Notable Book for Children by the American Library Association. “Perfectly executed in words and illustration, Chrysanthemum exemplifies Henkes’s talent for creating true picture stories for young audiences.”—The Horn Book

 

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: Duck for President

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Duck for PresidentDuck for President 
written by Doreen Cronin
published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble (print), Barnes & Noble (Nook), Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
I really enjoyed this book (perhaps a little more than my kids, but they liked it too)! My kids thought it was a funny story about a Duck running for president. I enjoyed the subtext that suggests our elected officials are just lazy, power hungry, and selfish people who spend more time running for office than they do actually making the city/district/state/country a better place for their constituents.

I also thought it was a good story to illustrate to kids the “never satisfied” culture that now permeates our country. Duck is never happy with his new elected office–he always wants more power, better perks, and more people adoring him.

So, I liked that there were culturally relevant topics I could talk about with my kids. The children, however, enjoyed the silly story, vibrant illustrations, and the fact that “sticky ballots” kept being found on the bottom of various animals, people and things.

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Would I recommend it: I would! It’s a great book to introduce the idea of elections to young children, but it’s also just a wonderful story that will delight the whole family!

sarasig

About the book – from Goodreads:

My fellow Americans:

It is our pleasure, our honor, our duty as citizens to present to you Duck for President. Here is a duck who began in a humble pond. Who worked his way to farmer. To governor. And now, perhaps, to the highest office in the land.

Some say, if he walks like a duck and talks like a duck, he is a duck.

We say, if he walks like a duck and talks like a duck, he will be the next president of the United States of America.

Thank you for your vote.

 

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: Diary of a Minecraft Zombie by Herobrine Books

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Diary of a Minecraft ZombieDiary of a Minecraft Zombie Book #1: A Scare of a Dare (Volume 1)
written by Herobrine Books
published by Herobrine Publishing, Inc., 2015

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
This book was mildly entertaining. I have to say that my 3.5-year-old enjoyed it MUCH more than I did. It’s a very neat idea and I enjoyed the concept and the novelty of it, but it fell pretty flat for me personally. The plot line was very loosely tied together throughout the book. In fact, it took half the book before the “journal entries” started showing any sort of story arc.

The style of the writing was very much like you would expect a 12-year-old to write in a personal journal . . . which I guess is what they were going for. However, that means that there were no paragraphs, no character development, no educational value, limited vocabulary, and simple sentence structure. In other words, there was nothing to challenge or stretch the mind. All of these characteristics are things that I look for in the chapter books I read to my kids because I don’t just want to entertain them;I also want to expose them to new language and concepts.
Now, that being said, my 3-year-old really doesn’t care about those particular things a darn bit. He thought it was a funny story about characters from, “Mind-craft, that game I play with Daddy.” That is why this book got 3 stars instead of 2.
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Would I recommend it: OK, so I’ve been fairly critical however, there is definitely and place for this book. This could be a great gateway book for older, independent, Minecraft-obsessed readers (8-12) who aren’t already interested in the wonderful world of books. It takes familiar concepts, characters, and settings and delivers a story written in their language that they can relate to. Even, better yet, this is just the first book in the series so there are more books to keep your kids reading.

While Diary of a Minecraft Zombie isn’t the best fit for us, it might be just what you and your family need to inspire a lifelong love of reading and get that middle-schooler away from the computer screen for a few hours. I discovered that the whole series is available on AmazonUnlimited for free, so we might check them out on my iPad, but I don’t think we will be purchasing any more in the series. So I guess my recommendation depends on what you are looking for in an early reader chapter book.

sarasig

 

Chrissy here . . . to follow up on Sara’s review, I have to say that my 7-year-old LOVES this series, which is a play off of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I agree that these books would be great gateway books for reluctant readers, but my son was already a reader when he first read Diary of a Minecraft Zombie and he added the entire series (and other spin-offs) to his TBR pile, which is quite long. My son wants to read the books. He has asked for more in the series. He reads them without being asked to pick up a book and read. He also reads them to his younger brother, and they laugh a lot. So, I have to say THANK YOU to Melissa for introducing my son to this series. 

 

About the book – from Goodreads: Diary of a Minecraft Zombie Has a Fresh New Look!

Ever wonder what it would be like to be a Minecraft Zombie?

In the first book of this hilarious Minecraft adventure series, we get to read the diary of an actual 12 year old, Minecraft Zombie. Take a peek at what is really going on between the hollow eyes, and dead expression that we normally see when we face the dreaded Zombies of Minecraft.

Are Zombies really different from us? You’ll be surprised at what you discover. So, jump into this Minecraft adventure and find out!.

Diary of a Zombie is a must-read for any kid who loves Minecraft. Kids ages 7+ can’t wait to jump into to these Minecraft adventures!

 

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: The Twelve Days of Christmas by Romeo Muller

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The Twelve Days of Christmas 
written by Romeo Muller
published by Publications International, 1993

find it here: (affiliate links) Amazon

Did I enjoy this book: The cover has a bunch of cute teddy bears wearing fun, colorful clothes, and I was looking for a bunch of Christmas books for a project, so I picked it up. What I forgot is how f***ing annoying the song (on which this book is based) is. Fortunately, the song, while being the premise of the story, does not play a huge part.

Muller actually brings quite a bit of humor and entertainment to this age-old tune. The Land of Jingle Merry Teddies is both cute and utterly ridiculous, which is part of why I enjoyed the story. The boys and I had fun following Mrs. Partridge (no relation to the TV show) and Squire Very Merry as they wooed the fair Princess Bear . . . ’cause that’s what the song is about, people. Courting a teddy bear. Duh.

Bonus: After reading this book, my son heard the song for the first time and exclaimed, “MOM! This is the song about the BEARS!!!!!” which was cute, except that we were sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room and everyone looked at us like we had three heads and I was the worst mother ever. I could see the scorn in another woman’s eyes: “There are no bears in ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ . . . what does this woman teach her children?” (I’m sure this imagined inner monologue says more about me than her, but I digress . . .)

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Would I recommend it: It’s a cute and fun book, but it is on the long side, so be warned. I mean, it’s based on the longest freaking Christmas song EVER, so what would you expect? I am glad it’s part of our Christmas Story Collection, and it will make a nice addition to yours as well!

sarasig

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: The Shape of Me and Other Stuff by Dr. Seuss

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The Shape of Me and Other StuffThe Shape of Me and Other Stuff
written by Dr. Seuss
published by Picture Lions, 2005 (1973)

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooksBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
I really enjoyed this book. It is one of the Seuss books I’d never heard of before picking it up at the library. It is a fun little story about how everything has a different shape and no two things are shaped exactly the same way.

I can see this being very applicable in our current body shape obsessed world. I think it’s a wonderful way to introduce small children to the concept of loving the shape of your body because it is unique, it’s yours, and it’s the only one you get. This would be a GREAT book for sneaking positive body image ideas into kids’ heads long before they’re old enough to start seeing how cruel the world can be. Plant the seed and water it enough and it will grow . . . cheesy, I know, but hey . . . I review kids’ books.

Even without body image discussions, this is still a fun, silly, rhyming Dr. Seuss book like you’d expect. The illustrations are not very colorful because they’re mostly the shadows of things, but it doesn’t detract from the story. My son enjoyed it but it wasn’t his favorite (hence the star rating).

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Would I recommend it: Yes, there are very few Dr. Seuss books that I would NOT recommend and this isn’t one of them. If you are looking for a fun, silly book, this one is for you. If you are looking to plant the seeds of body image, this book might be right for your family. Take a look and leave me a comment with what you think!

sarasig

About the book – from Goodreads: Subtitled “Dr. Seuss’s Surprising Word Book,” The Shape of Me and Other Stuff certainly lives up to its billing. In this delightful book, first published in 1973, kids are encouraged to ponder shapes they may never have considered before: “Just think about the shape of beans and flowers and mice and big machines!” Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are in silhouette (for the purpose of accenting the outlines of figures), but are nonetheless up to par with his usual wacky, amusing style. Soaring well beyond the mundane arena of circles, triangles, and squares, here we are challenged to consider “the shape of camels … the shape of bees and the wonderful shapes of back door keys!” Kids will love the silly rhymes and funny pictures, and parents will appreciate this original take on the largely untapped world of shapes.

 

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: The Best Cat in the World by Leslea Newman

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The Best Cat in the WorldThe Best Cat in the World 
written by Leslea Newman
published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2006

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: Yes, but it was certainly NOT what I was expecting from the title. The fact that we picked this gem up at the local library is due exclusively to its proximity to my book-grabbing self (and the fact that there’s a cat on the cover), but this book has quite a bit to offer!

So it turns out this is actually a children’s book that deals with the death of a pet. I figured this out about a page and a half in, and I immediately panicked and wondered how exactly my three-year-old was going to react. It turns out it was really a wonderful experience for both of us. It got a really tough conversation started and he wasn’t scared and I wasn’t anxious. I got to know a little more about what goes on inside that cute little head, all because of this book!

It turns out that this was actually purr-fect (see what I did there) for us because we lost one of our cats about a year ago and got a new one. We even buried our late kitten’s ashes under some beautiful lily plants–just like the boy in the story does. After reading this book we talked about  our own cat, Lily. We got out pictures and talked about the good memories we had with Lily. Then we talked about how Mouse (our new cat) is different from Lily and how they are both the “Best” cats in the world because we love them and they love us!

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Would I recommend it: I really would recommend this book. However, I would caution you to be ready for the heady discussions that are going to start because of it. It caught me off guard, but I think I pulled it off. Turns out my kid really liked the story, and I hope he learned something. I know I learned a little more about him. If you’re looking to ease the transition of a pet or just interested in bringing up the topic, this book is a great way to do it!

sarasig

About the book – from Goodreads: A young boy deals with the loss of his beloved cat Charlie, eventually accepting the arrival of another, very different cat.

 

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose

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Hey, Little AntHey, Little Ant 
written by Phillip and Hannah Hoose
published by Tricycle Press, 1998

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
I have a love/hate relationship with this one. My kid loves it, but dear god the song gets stuck in my head for DAYS at a time. This fun little story brings up an interesting topic about whether ants deserve to be stepped on just because they’re smaller than us. Right now my three-year-old is of the opinion that all bugs should be squished because squishing bugs is funny. <sigh> We’re working on it.

After reading the whole way through the book the first time, I discovered the last page has the music for the song . . . turns out this book actually IS a song! Who knew? I spent the next two hours (trying to remember how to read music and) plunking out the melody on the tiny toy piano in my living room. For my boys. Because I’m the best mom in the universe.

Now every time we “read” this book we sing it, which would be fine except it’s the grand master of all ear worms . . .

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Would I recommend it: Sure, go ahead! Just be prepared to have this cute (and slightly annoying after oh, the 300th time or so) jingle stuck in your head for the rest of your life.

Alternatively, you could just lie to your children about your ability to read music, which in my case wouldn’t have been that far off. My elementary school band teacher would be so ashamed . . . =(

sarasig

About the book – from Goodreads: What would you do if the ant you were about to step on looked up and started talking? Would you stop and listen? What if your friends saw you hesitate? That’s what happens in this funny, thought-provoking book. Originally a song by a father-daughter team, this conversation between two creatures, large and small, is bound to inspire important discussions. It might even answer that classic childhood question: To squish or not to squish?

 

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

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The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything 
written by Linda Williams
published by Harper Collins, 2002

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, AmazonBook Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: This book became an instant favorite in my house. As a matter of fact, we leave it out year-round despite the fact that it’s a Halloween book! It reminds me of the Dr. Suess book What Was I Scared Of? about pale green pants with nobody inside them. Since that is one of my all-time favorites, it makes sense that I like this one, too! I think the BEST part of this book for me (and the kids) is watching my little ones act out how each of the disembodied clothing items Clomp, Shake, Wiggle, Nod, Clap, and BOO as the refrain grows with each new item. The repetition of the refrain is catchy and fun and doesn’t have the drudgery some books with refrains tend to have.

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Would I recommend it: Yes, I would. It’s a lovely Halloween book for your littles. It’s not too scary, but scary enough. We were given this book from my boy’s Nana Ruthie when she upgraded her classroom library from 1st to 6th grade and we LOVE it!

I asked my three-year-old what he thought of this book and if he thought other people should read it too, and his reply is as follows (SPOILER ALERT):
“Yes, they should! It has a lot of cool clothes outside of houses and one scary pumpkin head at the end that says, ‘BOO!'”
Well, there you have it folks . . . pick up this book! What more could you ask for other than cool clothes outside and a scary pumpkin head? Happy Halloween!

sarasig

About the book – from Goodreads: Once upon a time, there was a little old lady who was not afraid of anything! But one autumn night, while walking in the woods, the little old lady heard . . . clomp, clomp, shake, shake, clap, clap. And the little old lady who was not afraid of anything had the scare of her life!

 

efchappy

Story Time with Sara: Revolutionary War on Wednesday by Mary Pope Osborne

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Revolutionary War on WednesdayRevolutionary War on Wednesday (Magic Tree House #22)
written by Mary Pope Osborne
published by Random House Books for Young Readers, June 2010

find it here: (affiliate links) Barnes & Noble, Amazon, iBooks, Book Depository, Goodreads

Did I enjoy this book: 
I was a little concerned at first. We are big fans of the Magic Tree House series. My three-year-old just can’t get enough of them. When he picked this one out at the library, however, I was a little nervous. How exactly does one broach the subject of war with a preschooler? Osborne did an amazing job of bringing the Revolutionary War down to a child’s level without making it a scary scarring experience, or bringing up any awkward questions.

In fact, we actually had some great questions and discussions because of the book. My favorite was when we were talking about how General Washington became our first president. I asked my three-year-old if he knew who our current president was . . . his response . . . “President Business, of course, Mom . . .” Oy . . . we may watch too much Lego Movie . . .
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Would I recommend it: Yes, I really would! We still really adore the Magic Tree House series as a whole, and this book did not disappoint. I like how the first couple stories in the (now) 52-book series started with fun topics that many children are interested in like dinosaurs, knights, astronauts, mummies, and pirates. Once the children are hooked, she starts sprinkling in some really awesome historical fiction like the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, the sinking of the Titanic, the Civil and Revolutionary Wars, and she does it all while still engaging children and fostering a love of not only reading but history as well.

In short, pick these books up! Even if your child is too young to read them alone, these make really great read-aloud books, and sharing and discussing them as a family is one of our favorite parts!

sarasig

About the book – from Goodreads: It is a dark and snowy night when the Magic Tree House whisks Jack and Annie back to colonial times. General George Washington is about to lead his army in a sneak attack against their enemy. But now a terrible weather is making the great general question his plans. Can Jack and Annie keep history on track? The fate of the country rests in their hands!

 

efchappy