Book Review–Baby Kai and the Monster in the Closet

Book Review–Baby Kai and the Monster in the Closet

Davy, his brother Baby Kai and the rest of the family are back in author Danual Berkley’s latest book, Baby Kai and the Monster in the Closet. In the first book about this family, they went on a pirate ship adventure, and you can read more about that book here. This time, younger brother Kai is struggling to fall asleep because, like many other kids, there’s a monster behind his closet door. In this story we get to see Baby Kai pleading his case to his parents for help to no avail, so he has to deal with this problem all on his own. Luckily for him, there are a couple of twists that let Kai and the reader know that monsters aren’t always all bad.

The illustrations in this book, created by Amariah Rauscher, are awesome and consistent with the illustrations in Davy’s Pirate Ship Adventure, so if you’ve read it, there’s continuity with the characters. The illustrations also play an important role in figuring out the twists in the story, which is a concept in picture books that I love. During my first read I didn’t notice things that I saw after reading it again, and I think that makes for more lively bedtime reads, especially if, like me, you have kids that like to read a book more than once.

 

So if you are raising a reader who has some fears about monsters hiding in their closet or under their bed, this book can help with lighten that concern. Additionally, as author Danual Berkley has done in the past, he makes it a point to make sure that all members of this African-American family are present in the story, which helps to expose your young reader to that sort of representation. You can read more about his quest to achieve diversity in my interview with him here.

This book was just released on June 7 of this year, and you can find this book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. You can also learn more about budding author Danual Berkley at his website, danualberkley.com.

High Five by Adam Rubin–An Interactive Bedtime Read

High Five by Adam Rubin–An Interactive Bedtime Read

In our house we love books by Adam Rubin, particularly the Dragons Love Tacos books. So when we learned that there was a new book coming out, we had to read it.

Hive Five is story all about…you guessed it–high fives! The main character is coaching the reader in preparation to participate in a high five-ing competition, which means they need to practice their skills. As you can see even in the cover, the main character actually wants the reader to high five the pages of the book, and my kids LOVED it.

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Rubin asks the reader to be creative in their high fives, even coming up with routines to wow the judges. We had spins, dances, and some hard slapping of the pages of this book, which I was not prepared for when we started reading. I had looked the book over, but for some odd reason, I thought I was going to be able to read through it without them wanting to actually high five the book. What was I thinking?

So as a suggestion, I would read this book with your kiddos when you are having one of those nights where you are not in a rush to get them to sleep. Who knows what kind of high five routine your child will come up with, so you want to be prepared to let them enjoy this interactive book to the fullest!

#RaisingReaders

The Power of the book Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

The Power of the book Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry

On Memorial Day I was watching the 3rd hour of the Today Show and they were having a conversation about fathers styling their daughter’s hair. Al Roker learned how to do his daughter’s hair when she was young, but the other co-hosts had stories of themselves or their spouses trying and failing to style their child’s hair, which is also where my husband falls when it comes to doing my daughter’s hair. I’ve gotten over it, especially since she can at least put her own hair in a ponytail now, but I was slightly bitter about it for a while. Today however, I am inspired by a new book that highlights some daddy/daughter “hair love”.

Hair Love, written by Matthew A. Cherry, is about a young girl who loves her natural hair, and even describes it as doing magic tricks. She’s got a special day coming up, and decides that she wants to do her hair herself, especially since her dad has been working so hard recently, and he must be tired. However, dad wakes up and after some failed attempts, together they do their best to create the perfect hairstyle.

SPOILER ALERT: There are a couple of major reasons why I think this book is outstanding, but one of them does spoil the ending of the book. First, I love just about everything Vashti Harrison illustrates, and this is no exception. From the expression on the character’s faces to the detail of dad’s tattoo, it is all beautifully done.

Secondly, I love love love the relationship between father and child that is illustrated in this book. Daddy tells her her hair is beautiful and is clearly involved in his daughter’s day to day life. That in itself is not something you see often in kids’ books, which is partly why I loved it. But also…mom is there too. We don’t know it until the end (hence the spoiler alert), but mom coming home is the reason she wants to make sure her hair is perfect. And although this may seem trivial to some, it made it more powerful for me, particularly this illustration at the end, where Harrison makes it clear that mom and dad are married. Again, it is something that really shouldn’t give me all sorts of touch-feely emotions, but because it isn’t often seen in children’s picture books, it does.

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Look at those picture frames!

If you want to maybe inspire your child’s father to do your daughter’s hair or if he’s not like mine and he already does and you want to give him props, then you should read this book. Or, if you would like to read a book with your child about an imaginative and ambitious little girl and her family, then you should read this book. 🙂

 

Book Review– Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove

Book Review– Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove

I cannot claim to be any sort of an expert when it comes to Jazz music. I like the sound of it, can recognize some instruments, and can name a couple of legendary musicians, like Duke Ellington.  However, after reading Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove by Barry Wittenstein, I can add another musician to the list.

This picture book is a biography about Sonny Rollins, a jazz musician from New York City.  He came to prominence in the 1950s, in Harlem clubs, but then decided that the fame was too big and took a break from the scene. Even though he wasn’t playing in the clubs anymore, he was still playing…but standing on (not under, but ON) the Williamsburg Bridge! After two years of playing on the bridge, Sonny went back into the studio and recorded an album titled, The Bridge.

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I mean, look at this cover

There’s a lot to like about this book. As I’ve said before, I enjoy any book that I learn something new from and I definitely gained knowledge from this biography. I also liked the fact that Wittenstein has gone all in with the jazz theme. The text is written in a prose format that, if read correctly, has a jazzy feel to it. The parts of Rollins’ life have been divided into “sets”, just like we are at a jazz concert. And the illustrations…they are absolutely beautifully done by Keith Mallett and add so much to the ambiance of Rollins’ story and the setting.  Wittenstein also

This book is a great read, whether you are introducing your child to jazz, want to expose them to a small dose of history, or if you yourself are a jazz aficionado or a jazz novice like myself.

*I was given a copy of this book partly in exchange for a review. The release date for Sonny’s Bridge: Jazz Legend Sonny Rollins Finds His Groove is May 21, 2019.

My Thoughts on Graphic Novels

My Thoughts on Graphic Novels

I’ve talked about my struggles and triumphs with graphic novels on this blog quite a bit, and when I came across an opportunity to share more positivity around them, I took that chance. So here’s an article I wrote for a local paper about my feelings about graphic novels, with a couple of examples of titles your child might be interested in.

https://illinoistimes.com/article-21214-graphic-novels-engage-all-readers.html