Children's Book Reviews

Book reviews by elementary school teachers Kate Glinsmann and Jennifer Sykes.
Links to products may be affiliate links and earn money for this website. Read our full disclaimer.

One Cool Friend

One Cool Friend

by Toni Buzzeo

My daughter and I had the great pleasure of meeting author Toni Buzzeo last week at a Young Authors Festival here in Michigan.  She shared some very useful tips for young writers, and she shared a lot about her own process as an author.  In doing so, we heard the backstory and the evolution of edits that yielded her newest (and wonderful) book One Cool Friend. 

Elliot is an unusual boy who speaks very formally and wears a tuxedo everywhere he goes.  He doesn’t enjoy the chaos of other children, but when his father suggests they go to Family Fun Day at the aquarium, he is much too polite to tell him he’d rather not.  Off they go, and the adventure begins.  Elliot asks his father if he can have a penguin, and his father hands him $20 to buy what he presumes is a stuffed animal.  Oh no; the only stuffing involved is Elliot fitting the penguin into his backpack.  Once the penguin, whom he names Magellan, is settled at home, Elliot accommodates his penguin needs with some creativity and fun.  It takes a while for Elliot’s father to discover that the penguin Elliot keeps talking about is real and not imaginary or a toy, and when he does, there is a great surprise ending! [Read more...]

Thanksgiving Book Roundup

Thanksgiving is nearly here, and we all have so many reasons to be thankful.  For one, there are really great books for our children.  Another? There are really great books about Thanksgiving for us to sit and read with our children as the tryptophan coma wears off.  We’re featuring some books ranging from factual to fun for families to enjoy during this warm and cozy holiday season. [Read more...]

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

by Mo Willems

Many people love author/illustrator Mo Willems for the wit and humor in his fun Pigeon books or the sentimental Knuffle Bunny, but our family most enjoys his lesser-known titles.  Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct is a top 10 read aloud in our household.   When I discovered Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, I was psyched to see yet another dinosaur-related book from Willems. [Read more...]

Ruth and the Green Book

Ruth and the Green Book

by Calvin Alexander Ramsey

Teaching children about America’s history of racism is challenging.  While we discuss current events and historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr., we look for age-appropriate resources to tell more personal parts of our history in a way that a child can understand.  Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey is one perfect example of an important story from a child’s point of view.  It’s historically accurate and a work of fiction, allowing concepts to be educational and also relatable. [Read more...]

The School for Cats

The School for Cats
by Esther Averill

A few years ago, a friend recommended the Jenny’s Cat Club books for my cat-obsessed daughter.  I expected to find another cute, fluffy kitty book.  I was mistaken and delighted to be mistaken.  This was no series of stories featuring cats with twee names and sparkle powers; this was a retro series of wonderful stories that just happened to have a cat as a main character.  Esther Averill wrote and illustrated the books from the 1940s-1970s, and they are treasured tales of a sensitive cat adventurer named Jenny Linsky, who always sports a charming red scarf knitted by her sea captain owner.  Every one of the Jenny books has found a home on our bookshelves, so it’s hard to choose just one for review.  Since many kids have just gone off to school for the first time and might still be feeling uneasy, it seems especially appropriate to feature The School for Cats. [Read more...]

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman

As a mother of two girls, I look for books with female protagonists who aren’t limited by our culture’s definition of “feminine.”  Pink and glitter are part of my daily life, and there’s nothing wrong with that; but I feel it’s important to share books with them that feature girls doing things, not girls doing circumscribed girly things.  It can be a struggle to find books featuring girls in this light and to find books that appeal to both boys and girls, especially in the early independent reading category dominated by fairies and unicorns.  Erica Silverman’s Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa is a winner in this regard. [Read more...]