The Missing Trick – Picture Book Review

The Missing Trick by: Robin Jacobs
Illustrated by: Aimee Wright
Published on: July 21, 2020

A cute picture book about a boy named Louis who is trying to put on a magic show. When he starts to set up he realizes he can’t find his rabbit. He begins to search his magic hat and then his bag and then his pockets. He ends up finding everything but the rabbit. As he pulls out magic flowers, rope, and bouncing balls from the cups more and more people are attracted to his show and stay to watch. When he finally finds his rabbit he has quite the crowd.

It’s a happy story that will make you smile.

Rating: 4 stars
Thanks to Edelweiss and Cicada Books for the review copy.

This is the Path the Wolf Took – Picture Book Review

By: Laura Farina
Illustrated By: Elina Ellis
Published On: September 1, 2020

I loved the concept of this story: An older brother reading two fairy tales to his little sister changes up the story to be something less scary. She’s not fooled though and wants the stories back to something less boring. But as much as I loved the concept, the story didn’t quite work for me. Part of my issue was that I never knew what the true overall goal or moral of the story was. Are we to root for the brother and his retelling? Or are we rooting for the sister who thinks he hurt the story by taking out all the drama? Are classic fairy tales better left as they are? Along those lines, I also wasn’t sure if the focus was supposed to be on the brother, the wolf, or how he retells the story at the end when he tries to make it less boring. Yet, even that opens up further questions such as why was the brother so scared of the real story? Or why was the last retelling supposed to be so much better because that one fell a little flat for me as well? The illustrations were nice, but there were some confusing layouts that made the flow of the story more difficult to follow than it should have been.

Rating: 2.5 stars


A boy’s little sister doesn’t like the way he improvises when he tells tales, in this funny and bighearted tale about what makes a story good.

The stories Gabe ?reads? to his little sister start out sounding familiar — a red-caped girl on her way to Grandma’s house meets a wolf in the woods — but then, just in the nick of time, Sir Gabriel swoops in to save the day. His sister points out that’s not how the story is supposed to go. The boy says his way is better: “Nothing bad happens in my story.” But when his sister stops listening, the boy realizes he needs to reconsider. Are his stories boring? Why does it seem like there’s always something missing?

Laura Farina’s funny and empathetic tale explores why a good story is never made up of only good things. Many young children want a story to be exciting, but they don’t want anything scary or bad to happen. This picture book shows how a brief period of being afraid or sad is necessary to make a story worth hearing. It makes for a great discussion starter and works well for loads of language arts applications, including writing skills, elements of a story, and fairy tales or other literary genres. With its playful humor, endearing sibling relationship and high-energy illustrations by Elina Ellis, this book also makes an entertaining read-aloud.

Pugtato Finds a Thing – Picture Book Review

By: Sophie Corrigan
Published On: August 4, 2020

Pugtato is a wonderfully illustrated picture book filled with a lot of play on words that kids and adults will definitely all enjoy. However, I found the story ending a little confusing and felt like perhaps I missed something.

In Pugtato Finds a Thing, Pugtato is digging around in the mud when he finds a shiny round purple round thing. Having no idea what it is, Pugtato starts asking all of his different friends – Tweetroot (a turnip bird), Tomatoad (tomato-looking toad) and many others what they think it might be. Each give their thoughts to Pugtato and begin to use it as they saw best, but none of it felt right to Pugtato. Finally, he gets some advice to follow his heart.

The illustrations are terrific. Bright and vibrant colors are used throughout, but the highlight is how the drawings bring characters to life. Characters like Cowbbage (a cow/cabbage combination) or Purrsnip (a cat/parsnip combo) will delight readers both young and old. I can even picture many fun conversations over each of the animal-vegetables.

Although the pictures were the best part for me, I was left confused by the story. I completely understand that Pugtato finds a purple shiny ball, but I never could figure out what it was, which I knew would be ok because I was sure the ending would do a ‘big reveal.’ However, even the ending left me perplexed as I tried to figure out how hugs and snails and a purple ball went together. After re-reading it several more times I now have an inkling of an idea of what it all might mean, but I’m not sure an adult should have to read it that many times to understand it.

Thanks to Netgalley and Zondervan for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

Rating: 3 stars


Enchanting illustrations. Giggle-inducing text. Unique and loveable characters. Join Pugtato and his cute and quirky pack of pals in this heartwarming picture book that celebrates the power of friendship, compassion, and believing in your own unique gifts. 

When Pugtato’s simple, quiet life is disrupted after he digs up a strange object in his garden, he enlists his best “spuddies” to help (they are more clever than he is, after all). Tweetroot is certain it’s a new egg for her nest. Tomatoad is quite sure it’s a toy just for him. And Purrsnip simply won’t stop scratching it! Luckily, Pugtato has another very special spuddy to ask …

Pugtato Finds a Thing:

  • Introduces kids 4-8 to a hilarious mash-up of pet and vegetable characters by the inimitable illustrator Sophie Corrigan
  • Written in delightful, giggle-inducing, rhyming text
  • Eye-catching cover features spot gloss and embossing

I’m Afraid Your Teddy is in the Principal’s Office – Picture Book Review

By: Jancee Dunn
Illustrated By: Scott Nash
Published On: June 16, 2020

Oh no! The student who owns a teddy bear has been called to the principal’s office. Not because they have done something wrong, but because their teddy bear has. How mischievous has teddy been? Quite.

That very morning teddy contacted all his stuffed animal friends and then they all sneaked into the kid’s backpacks. While the kids are learning the stuffed friends do all sorts of rascally things, such as making a mess at the cafeteria. Doesn’t sound bad on the surface, but when it includes writing their names on the walls with mustard and ketchup then it’s whole other story. Perhaps if they hadn’t gone to the gym and tied up the coach with a jump rope the principal may not have been all the upset. Or if they hadn’t poured a bottle of bubbles into… well, you get the idea.

While I liked the book, the adult in me thought a little more was needed to round out the story. Initially, my confusion started at the beginning by wondering why the student was in the office. Was the student the real culprit and the teddy just who they had used as an excuse? It turns out the instigator really is teddy. But then, I also would have liked to have seen teddy and friends experience some consequences for their actions. Perhaps the principal should have asked teddy and friends to help clean up, which is actually how I thought the story would end. Yes, teddy is called to the principal’s office, but I guess I’m not sure I agree with teddy looking really cute, which then helps him skirt out of any consequences for his actions.

The illustrations are very humorous, filled with many pastel colors or if not pastel, then they are still given a light-touch to them. I suspect many young kids will find this book really funny and expect a chuckle or two from them.

Thanks to Netgalley and Candlewick Press for the advanced ready copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

Rating: 3 stars


What do your favorite toys get up to when you’re at school? Teddy and friends bring their creative mayhem to the classroom in a gleefully vicarious comic romp.

What would happen if your teddy bear stowed away in your backpack and followed you to school? And what if your teddy convinced all your friends’ stuffed animals to come along for the party? Would you believe they might sneak into the cafeteria to play Pizza Disc, head to the band room to put bubbles in the wind instruments, make a clever glue trap for the art teacher, and roll around in finger paint as well? Luckily, the principal remembers what it was like to be young and may let the rambunctious teddy bear and crew off just this once. Author Jancee Dunn and illustrator Scott Nash bring Teddy and friends back for more mischief in a high-spirited tale of uninhibited fun.

Runaway Signs – Picture Book Review

By: Joan Holub
Illustrated By: Alison Farrell
Published On: June 2, 2020

It’s the last day of school and the Children Crossing sign is getting a bit jealous and underappreciated watching all the kids talk on the way home about what they are going to do during the summer. So they have an idea – they will go on vacation too! As they start their journey to Adventureland Children-Crossing signs passes by all sorts of other signs and convince them to take a vacation too. All of a sudden the Stop signs, Construction signs, Wrong Way signs and many others aren’t there to do their job causing major headaches for the people.

The colors in the book are predominantly happy summer colors – the sky is blue and the weather is lovely. The fun part about the illustrations is they include call-outs of conversations from the signs saying phrases like “Who wants to ride a roller coaster?” or the Be Alert for Bear sign saying a vacation is a “Beary Good Idea.”

Photo by Travis Saylor on

The book is a humorous way to introduce children to different signs and the importance of following them. It also can provide opportunities for discussing responsibilities that we each may have.


When the road signs take a vacation, chaos and hilarity ensue–and they quickly learn how important they are.

School is ending for the summer, and the stick figures on the school crossing sign are jealous of all the vacation plans they hear the students making. The stick figures work hard–maybe they deserve a vacation, too! So they abandon their signpost and set off on an adventure, inviting along all the other underappreciated road signs they meet on the way. It’s all fun and games for a while, especially when they stumble upon a fantastic amusement park. But the people they’ve left behind are feeling their absence, and soon there are traffic tangles and lost pedestrians everywhere. The signs are more important than they realized, and now it’s time for them to save the day!

When the Storm Comes – Picture Book Review

By: Linda Ashman
Illustrated By: Taeeun Yoo
Published On: May 26, 2020

A rhyming picture book asking the reader what do they do when a storm comes rolling in. The story is set against a seaside village and shows us how people and animals such as birds, rabbits, whales and others protect themselves from thunderstorms.

Photo by Pixabay on

The images are created used digital and pencil drawings in sea-tone and storm-tone colors: blue-grey to show an overcast day threatening to become even darker along with green and team to complete the look of a seaside town. Yellows illuminating from the window of home. A vivid white also makes a splash in the crest of breaking waves, but is also the predominant color of the sheets of rain pouring from the skies.

Photo by Pixabay on

Even though the narrative is about what creatures of all types do to protect themselves when a storm comes in, the colors, rhyme and peaceful village together present a lovely, calming story that makes you feel safe and secure from wherever you read from.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Nancy Paulsen Books for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.


A storm and its sunny aftermath come to life through gorgeous art and lyrical text.

What do you do when the clouds roll in,
When the wind chimes clang and the weather vanes spin?

When stormy skies threaten, people stock up on supplies, bring in their outside toys, and check the news for updates. And during the storm, if the power goes out, they can play games and tell stories by candlelight. But what do animals do? They watch and listen, look for a cozy den or some other sheltered spot, and hunker down to wait. After the storm, while the people are cleaning up their yards, making repairs, and checking on the neighbors, the animals emerge from their hiding places and shake off the rain. And everyone is happy to be out in the sunshine again, grateful for better weather and the company of friends. 

The Stray – Picture Book Review

Story and Illustrations By: Molly Ruttan
Published On: May 19, 2020

In The Stray, a family is out for a walk when a spaceship crashes nearby. There amongst the rubble is ‘the stray’. He’s a cross between a slug, a dog, a frog and maybe a few other things. One thing is for certain: he is a cutie! They decide to take him home and give him the name Grub. They give him lots of love and make him part of the family. They even try to teach him a few tricks, but soon they realize that perhaps he has a home somewhere else that he misses.

Continue reading “The Stray – Picture Book Review”

The Sand Elephant – Picture Book Review

By: Rinna Hermann and Sanne Dufft
Published On: August 8, 2019

Paul was alone in the sandbox. He has no one to play with so he etches out a large elephant in the sand. Slowly sleep overtakes him as Paul wishes the elephant were real and could play with him. But he doesn’t get to sleep too long before the elephant wakes him up to play. The sand elephant lets Paul ride on his back as they travel to very large sandcastle filled with other children Paul can play with. However, soon it begins to rain and Paul and his new friends get worried about the sand elephant and all the other creatures who had been at the sandcastle. But, water can’t truly hurt sand elephants because they and many other creatures can always be remade.

Continue reading “The Sand Elephant – Picture Book Review”

Going Up! – Picture Book Review

By: Sherry J. Lee
Illustrated By: Charlene Chua
Published: April 7, 2020

Party on the 10th floor! Olive is having a birthday party and has invited all her friends. In a building that reminds me a little of the Wayside School building where each floor is only one room, we see all of Olive’s friends get on the elevator to take them up to the the party.

The story starts with a picture of the invitation inviting Leonard (dad) and Sophie (young daughter). Together, the two bake cookies for the party and go to the elevator where she gets to push the button. The elevator starts to go up, but doesn’t go too far before it stops on the 2nd floor where two brothers get on – the Santucci brothers, who are dressed like they might be part of a biker gang (or maybe they’re Rockers?). Again the elevator goes up only to stop at the next floor.

This elevator is magical. At the end of the story, I counted 21 people, 2 dogs, and a bass and clarinet all fitting into the elevator. Even the people in the elevator laugh about whether the elevator can hold them all. The neighbors in this building all appear to be friends with each other, but what I love is the wide range of diversity they bring to the story. Not only multi-cultural it includes neighbors with different interests and different ages. I mean, how many picture books include two brothers in biker gear?

This is a cute and happy picture book that will be sure to please readers and listeners of the book.

Rating: 5 stars


Today is Olive’s birthday party, and Sophie and her dad have baked cookies. Sophie’s dad holds the platter so Sophie can push the elevator button for the tenth floor. But on the way up, the elevator stops to let the Santucci brothers get on. Then on the next floor, Vicky, Babs and their dog, Norman, get in. And as the elevator ascends, it keeps stopping, and more neighbors squeeze in to the crowded space: the Habibs, the Flores family, Mr. Kwan, Vi Tweedle with her Chihuahua, Minx. Everyone is going to the party!

Playfully combining the excitement and anticipation of a party with children’s universal love of riding in elevators, Sherry J. Lee’s picture book story is ultimately about community and a sense of belonging. With characters from many cultural backgrounds, it showcases the everyday diversity that many urban children experience. Charlene Chua’s illustrations provide loads of funny details and visual narratives that aren’t in the text, making for a multilayered reading experience. The book’s tall, narrow trim size adds to the effect of the rising elevator.