Friday, March 22, 2013

"Zeke Meeks vs The Putrid Puppet Pals" by DL Green, Illustrated by Josh Alves


Publishers Weekly
In one of four heavily illustrated novels launching the Zeke Meeks chapter book series, Green and Alves address fads, consumerism, and schoolyard tribulations with ample amounts of irreverent and self-referential humor. Third-grader Zeke likes to spend recess shooting hoops, but his friends have forsaken basketball (and all other physical activity) for Puppet Pals, a much-hyped brand of finger puppets that are inspiring Beanie Baby–like levels of devotion. Since no one will play with him, Zeke eventually caves in and buys a box of Puppet Pals, which only results in additional clashes with popular kids and bullies alike. Levelheaded Zeke is an entertaining and likable narrator (“I love happy endings.... Then I glanced at this book. I realized this isn’t the ending. There are a lot more pages left”), though other characters are less fully developed; the classmates’ banter gives the book a Saturday morning cartoon sensibility, underscored by Alves’s Nickelodeon-ready spot art. Amid all the one-liners, Green encourages readers not to just follow the herd—especially when expensive “bits of colored felt” are involved. Ages 7–10. (Feb.)


Published by: Capstone
Pages: 128
Ages appropriate:  7-10
Series:  Zeke Meeks
Genre:  Children's Fiction


Silly, slimey, scratchy and goofy as this story may be, it's as good as it gets for elementary school kids; especially boys.  Both boys and girls; however, will love all the horrible things that can happen with little sisters and their "potty" language, drooling old dogs, and semi-scary school friends.  The illustrations in this small "chapter" book make it as fun and funny as it can be. It will delight early readers.

Everything comes together over the newest kid toy trend--the love of Puppet Pals finger puppets.  Zeke Meeks  happens to be a boy's-boy who loves sports, especially basketball, and  he's truly not interested in what he considers boring old finger puppets.  All the noise and focus on them amongst his best buds, though, causes him some issues.

Zeke learns a lesson or two along the way as he tries to reconcile his feelings about the "Putrid Puppet Pals;" lessons about talking it out with friends, sharing, spending his allowance wisely, handling a school bully and understanding different choices.

Kids will love how he braves a chore to sweep his scary, spider-filled basement so his mom will pay for those dreaded puppets, even though he doesn't really want them.  His need to become one of the crowd makes him feel sad in the end, and changes everything when his friends wake up to the real situation of "Zeke Meeks vs The Putrid Puppet Pals."

4 stinker wasp puppet buzzes

Grammie Bee

Fancy Nancy Grows Up! "Nancy Clancy Super Sleuth"


Nancy Clancy is on the case!
Nancy Clancy has everything she needs to be a super sleuth (that's a fancy word for detective): She has a glamorous magnifying glass complete with rhinestones, a totally professional pink trench coat, and a sleuthing partner with awesome code-breaking skills—her best friend, Bree. But when crime strikes right in the middle of her classroom, will Nancy have what it takes to crack the case?


Published by:  Harper Collins
Pages:  144
Series:  Fancy Nancy Series
Genre:  Children's Fiction
Age Group:  6-10 years


Jane O'Connor is the author of more than thirty books for children, including the Nina, Nina Ballerina stories, illustrated by DyAnne DiSalvo, and the Fancy Nancy picture book series. Ms. O'Connor lives with her family in ever-posh New York City.
How wonderful that Fancy Nancy is growing up along with her little fans!  I read this book to my special grandgirl, Hadley, over a tape recorder and sent it and the book to her to get her reaction.  She loved it!
Proof that she was ready to move ahead with Fancy Nancy as they both are getting older and not just playing dress-up anymore. 
Quite the awesome sleuth, Nancy Clancy.  I think this is the perfect entre' into a whole new world for the up-and-coming readers and soon-to-be pre-teen set.  Jane O'Connor isn't just fancy, she's imaginative and savvy, too.
In keeping with her well-known humor, Ms O'Connor has brought Nancy along but given her a new intelligence and importance.  I think parents and children, both, will love this new series.
Highly recommended!
5 stars

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Jan Brett's "Home for Christmas" ~ A Great "Before Christmas" Purchase!

Published by:  Penguin
Pages:  32
Ages:  3-5

The Story in a Nutshell:

A wild little troll runs away from home because he doesn't want to do his chores. Rollo tries living with various woodland animals, but he finds out that there is no place like home, and returns to his family just in time for "the best Christmas ever."
Among the animals who take him in are an owl family, a mother bear and two rambunctious cubs, some playful river otters, a hungry lynx and a friendly moose family.
Jan Brett creates an irresistible, mischievous character that kids will recognize in themselves. Jan transports us to a glorious Scandinavian landscape where a beautiful fall turns into a magnificent snowy winter.

Why I picked this off the shelf ?
Jan Brett's illustrations, naturally.  They are just stunning.  I've been a fan of hers for nearly 35 years.  Has it been that long?  Yes, I remember buying my little boy, David, her "Mittens.." book when he was about 5 years old, and I had bought his older brother and sister Jan Brett books before that!   She's been around a while, thankfully.  And, her books are so gorgeous.

What made me hesitate ?
This is a book for ages 3-5, and while my grandson is a precocious 3 yr. old, I wondered if the illustrations weren't a bit detailed for a child that young. 
There's a lot going on in this book.  I always thought Jan's books were more simplified for this age group, as was the "Mitten..," but this one is more complicated than I remembered them being. Although the illustrations are stunning, it seemed over-whelming, even for me! 

Why I decided to go ahead and buy it :
What pushed me over the edge into purchasing the book had to do with three things:

1)  Classic Jan Brett ~ First Edition volume ~ gorgeous illustration, Collection Book for my grandson.  We are building a children's library for him of special books.

2)  The rascally little troll in trouble and on an adventure, reminded me of my "Spidey" grandboy so much!  He's just the sort of child who's inquisitive and ready to take chances for a discovery, but he always wants to stay close to home.

3)  If he doesn't get all the nuances of the book this year, he will in the years to come!

Grandpop mailed this "Before Christmas" book right out to our "Spidey" grandboy.  Coincidentally, he just got a letter from us last week about an otter shimmying across the road and stopping traffic in Naples, FL.  So, he's going to like this little troll encountering a river otter in his new Christmas book, I think.  :]

Grammie Bee gives this 4 Moosey Moos

"Llama, Llama Holiday Drama" by Anna Dewdney ~ For Early Christmas Rushes!

Published by:  Penguin Group
Pages:  40
Ages:  3-5

The Story in a Nutshell:

Publishers Weekly~
In his fourth outing, Llama Llama learns what many children know: waiting for Christmas is tough. Shopping, making cookies, school activities, and unpacking Christmas tree lights proves "too much everything for Llama" and he has a "Holidrama" meltdown. Luckily, Mama is there to remind him: "Sometimes we should take a rest/ and hold the ones we love the best." Dewdney delivers a familiar holiday message with grace, as Mama and Llama Llama snuggle on a tranquil spread, next to their undecorated tree. Overwhelmed by holiday excitement and expectation, Llama Llama is as relatable as ever.

The Buzz from Grammie:

I loved this book from the moment I saw it!  It so reminded me of my little boys (and girl) when they were small and didn't really understand all about the holidays...bearly understood Christmas...and yet, were getting caught up in all the makings of the whole thing.

Soon the waiting became too much, and they would come to me with those sad eyes asking when was Christmas coming, anyway??

It was this memory that made me grab this sweet book from the shelf and know in that second that it belonged to my Moon and Stars grandboy.  He is the special one to get this book as his "before Christmas" story this year.

There's just something of the kind heart of the little Llama that reminds me of this one of my very precious grandchildren.  I wish him and all of my darling grands the best of fun in the Christmas festivites as they wait for the special night to come, and I want them all to know that love is the best gift of all; it always was, and it always will be.

Grammie gives the Llama 5 sugar spun ribbons

"Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas" ~Waiting and Anticipating Book for Little Girls

Published by:  Harper Collins
Pages:  30
For Ages:  3-6

A Quick Summary:

What could be fancier than Christmas?
Presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles—and who could forget the tree? After all, there is no such thing as too much tinsel. Ooh la la! This year, Nancy is especially excited about decorating the Christmas tree. She bought a brand-new sparkly tree topper with her own money and has been waiting for Christmas to come. But when things don't turn out the way Nancy planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous?

Grammie's Buzz:

Of course!   Christmas, or any other holiday for that matter, will always be splendiferous with Miss Fancy Nancy!  She is the one to have a girly girl holiday with, and she'd be missed like a sugar-plum princess if she weren't somehow involved in every smart and sassy,  fancy little girl's Christmas this year!

This is a collector's book in its beauty and quality. The hard copy is beautifully detailed with brilliant colors and the silvery cover is perfect for a pre-Christmas gift...or, if you must, for an under the tree present, too.  Personally, I couldn't wait to get it into the hands of my "Fancy Nancy" while she counts the days to Christmas.

My little grand-daughter has nearly every Fancy Nancy we can get our hands on and that's just because you can't find another character that delights the heart of a child who loves beads and sparkles, tutus and twirlies, tiarias and high heels...well, you understand what I mean.

Nancy is absolutely the fanciest.  Take a look at the insides of this darling book and rush to get this one for your charming little girl so she can be prepared in every fancy way for the special days ahead...

There is an audio version!

Grammie gives this a 5+ star for this holiday season

PS:  A quote by Grammie's Little Squirrel regarding her recently received book, "Grammie always knows just the right books to send!"
She's 5 years old.  Sigh! 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Dream Big Little Pig!" by Kristi Yamaguchi skates circles around other children's books!

Topping the charts on children's lists this week you'll find this crazy little book by ice skating great, Kristi Yamaguchi!

There is just something about Kristi.  She's always had a special sparkle to her eyes, a special spark in her step and in her skating. You get the feeling Kristi has a special determination that's made her achieve greatness in ice skating~ an Olympic Gold Medalist; as well as, in Dancing with the Stars!

What Kristi shares in this happy, crazy little book with children is that a dream and determination can make anything possible. With sprightly illustrations and good dialog, Little Pig learns to dream big and then work to make that dream come true.

I like this combination of truths for children.  So often parents encourage children to dream big, but the hard work to achieve those dreams is pushed aside or forgotten. Responsibility, respect for authority and rules, work and stick-to-itivity despite set-backs are important lessons children need to learn as they are growing up. 

Kristi's book tells a sweet story, but gives a true moral along with it.  That's what makes her book a winner just like she always is! 

Kristi is not without children of her own, and I'll bet she's written this book for her two little girls. Isn't she nice to share it?  :]

5 skating swirls

Grammie Bee

PS:  I had a little figure skater who grew up to work with severely emotionally disturbed children, developmentally delayed children and children with asperbergers.  She's beautiful inside and out.  She's the mother of "Spiderman" aka my Cowboy Boots grandson.  She dreams big!

Toddlers Cook! Little Chef Cookbooks Reviewed ~

Some do forget that young chefs are created as toddlers! 
My Moon Child grandson loves to help his mom cook, and he always has since he could stand up in a chair beside the counter.  He's just 4 years old.
(It always helps to have Smurf assistants.)

There are an assortment of cookbooks for children on the market and I thought it's high time Grammie Bee shared them with my readers.  Nothing's more fun than cooking with your favorite children!

A Word About This Book :

" are well-illustrated and follow a pleasant, step-by-step format with pastel numbers. At the beginning of the book is a double page photo spread showing various tools that will be needed in the recipes that follow. Then the reader is treated to recipes for—mini-Caesar salad, lettuce boats filled with chicken-corn salad, easy cheesy bread rolls (from scratch), little pita pizzas, cherry tomato sauce with mascarpone for spaghetti, chicken dippers, salmon fishcakes, corn quesadillas, multicolored meringues, tropical ice pops, mini banana muffins, peanut butter bears, cutout cookies with icing, munchy oat bars, mini lemon cheesecakes, homemade lemonade, fruit skewers, and a fruit dipping palette with four different sauces in a handsome double page spread."

Such a good cooking experience for children to be allowed to put together small meals like those mentioned above.  My Cowboy Boots grandboy just made pumpkin cupcakes with his mom for Halloween, and he tells everyone he knows that his job is working for a burrito making restaurant.  A burrito shop??  His mom and dad have no idea where he came up with that one!  LOL

What is clear is that he and his cousin above love Superheros, and there is even an old Superhero Cookbook!  Come to think of it, one of their dads and their uncle used to love to wear Batman and Superman capes and help in the kitchen...

This is the burrito makin' Spiderman!

Older, Absolutely More Appealing Book!
Not even sure if it's still available...

This is a new,  albeit strange-looking foodie cover!
You can absolutely get this one at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Lest we forget the grandgirls who love to cook, here's the latest Disney contribution to their kitchen hearts.

And a bit about it:

Set in Jazz Age New Orleans, The Princess and the Frog introduces Tiana, a young African-American girl who dreams of owning her own restaurant. This kid-friendly cookbook features recipes inspired by Tiana and the other characters in the film. With simple instructions, large photographs, and charming character art, the book features everything from Tiana’s Famous Beignets and Swamp-Water Smoothies to Ray's Mud Pie and Banana French Toast. A five-frog rating system lets kids know how difficult the recipes are, and cooking tips are sprinkled throughout.

And, then there are some darling girls who are just contented to be Princesses and rule their kingdoms in the cold regions of the North.  They love to look at cookbooks, and to see the Disney Princess recipe results...but they don't like to muss their clothes, you know.  :]

Grammie Bee's Final Note :

Now that Halloween's past and Thanksgiving is coming in a few weeks, I hope you'll allow your Prince Charmings and Little Princesses to help you in the kitchen.  These cookbooks for toddlers and elementery school children are great, and I know you'll find more out there when you look.

Have a happy cooking season with your grands and kids!

Grammie Bee

A good one for moms and dads to know about