Monday, March 2, 2015

Maya Was Grumpy by Courtney Pippin-Mathur

Maya Was Grumpy by Courtney Pippin-Mathur
Flashlight Press

Rating: 5 stars

Maya was grumpy. She doesn't know why she's in what my dad called a poopy mood. She doesn't want to "read or color or eat banana chips, or wear her favorite shorts, or go outside and play." She just wants to spread the bad mood--the cat she snarls at, the birds she makes faces at, and the brothers she grumbles to get out of her way.

Gramma in the kitchen is the only one left. So Maya thumps and growls and takes her bad mood over to Gramma.

But there's no pulling down Gramma into her bad mood. Nope. Wise, cheerful Gramma has a few tricks up her polka-dotted, muumuu sleeves. Gramma starts listing silly things that she was going to do with Maya and her brothers today--things that will now have to be rescheduled because of Maya's grumpy mood.

"Feeling a little grumpy today?" Gramma asked.
Maya just scowled.
"I guess that means no hunting for hippos after breakfast," she starts with.

"And no putting your head in a crocodile's mouth before lunch," as she shrugs her shoulders.

"Bathing baby elephants would probably be a bad idea today if you're grumpy," Gramma says as she moves around through the breakfast routine.

Each wild suggestion is vividly painted for young readers to see, in colors brighter than the brightest imagination. There's Gramma and Maya and two boys swimming along, looking for hippos...and Gramma and Maya and two boys tickling a toothy tarantula...and Gramma and Maya and two boys sliding down the neck of a super tall giraffe.

In the beginning, Gramma's wild suggestions are met with scowls and "That's just silly" comments and the dreaded eye roll. But soon, Maya can't help but crack a smile, and the corners of her frown are wiggling up a little more each time, until a giggle bursts out and breaks up that grumpy mood once and for all.
...and Maya felt much better.

Maya hugs Gramma.

I can't write one more thing about this book without mentioning Maya's wild and fiery, curly-swirly mass of hair. It covers the first few pages and serves as the embodiment of her grumpiness. I don't know how Pippin-Mathur came up with this hair-as-mood idea but it is just great! As Maya calms down and cools off and cheers up, her hair also comes back to a more self-controlled state.

My fingers are crossed that your kids have a Gramma-like person in their lives who can evaporate bad moods with patience and love and silliness. In fact, I hope YOU have a Gramma-like person who can quietly and sweetly make your poopy mood POOF! disappear. And I hope us curly-swirly hair types can tame the frizz like Maya can...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

MG: Mr Popper's Penguins

Mr Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
Little, Brown and Company

Rating: 4 stars

Here's a funny book about Mr. Popper, a simple guy living a humdrum existence in the 1930s who is obsessed with Arctic expeditions. He is active with his obsession--he writes letters to the leaders of expeditions offering them insights and asking them questions. In return for one of those letters, to sate his curiosity, one explorer-Admiral sends him a penguin. 

Fun, crazy conversation I had with my daughter: What would you DO if I got a penguin delivered to our doorstep?!

Mr. Popper keeps it as a pet with some funny little happenings with that first penguin, and his whole family is even more blown away by the arrival of a second penguin. And with a boy penguin and a girl penguin, you better believe that soon they have baby penguins, too!  

Lorelei loved the image of the penguins waddling around a neighborhood, living in the basement, having one's basement transformed into a penguin playground. The whole image is very fun and imaginative to her--a little less so for me, because I can't imagine cleaning up after that many penguins.

The ending has two parts I have to point out. One I like, one...makes me shake my head a little.

First, Mr. Popper receives an invitation from an important director in Hollywood asking him to use his penguins in the movies. Mr. Popper declines--he doesn't want his penguins living such a flashy lifestyle, so he declines. I like how he chooses a "regular" lifestyle for his penguins (okay, that right there is a little funny) rather than the paparazzi-filled lifestyle of Hollywood.

Second, Mr. Popper is invited to go on an Arctic expedition just as he always dreams of going on.  He is ecstatic and accepts the invitation. As he heads out the door, he shouts out to his wife, "Do you mind if I'll be back in a year or two?!" And she, of course as the housewife of the 1930s who doesn't disagree with much: "No problem! It'll be easier to keep the house clean without you!"  

That is eye-rolling material right there. But I'll try and suspend my feminist disbelief and annoyance and appreciate how adventurous the ending is--he finally gets to go on one after studying them from his armchair every night. And Lorelei and I talked about the differences between then and now.

This is a good read aloud book for kids--Lorelei's Kindergarten teacher read the book aloud to the whole class, and we read it together a few months after that. We still haven't seen the movie, though!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach

Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach
Random House Children's Books

Rating: 5 stars

A few weeks ago we read and I blogged about Julia Sarcone-Roach's recent picture book, The Bear Ate Your Sandwich. As I often do, I was so impressed with that book that I checked out every other book our library system had by her. This was how we came across Subway Story. We've had it at home for about a week; I think I've read it out loud about two dozen times. Truly. I'm not exaggerating. My kids (and I) just love it.

Here's the story: Jessie is a subway car "born" in St. Louis, MO, then shopped to New York for a long, busy, productive career ferrying people to and from, from and to. For decades, she takes people and their belongings all across the city. She gets fixed up from time to time, but Jessie is happiest to be on the rails, working hard in her beloved city.

I love how this illustration shows time passing...
Then, something happens that happens to all of us: she ages. She gets outdated. After a few band-aid fixes, she gets pulled into the shop. Jessie quickly realizes that she's not getting fixed up--she's getting taken apart. Sure enough, some workers are stripping her of bolts and chains, seats and screws. She's put on a barge with a bunch of other nervous-looking, outdated subway cars and taken out to sea.

When they are in what seems to be the middle of the ocean, the cars get dumped into the water, one at a time. I admit my kids were a little horrified to see Jessie plunge down, down, down into the deep water and PLUNK heavily at the bottom.

But soon (probably a teensy bit faster than in real life), one fish comes. Then another, and another, and then a whole school of fish. Coral come to attach themselves to poles once gripped by sleepy commuters. Turtles and dolphins stop by and visit.

Jessie once served a city; now a whole city lives inside of her.

The eloquent and spot-on Horn Book reviewer had this to say (quote and more information, including many more illustrations, found here, in this interview with Sarcone-Roach):
Sarcone-Roach displays a discipline not always seen in books about the environment; she allows her theme of reuse and recycling to emerge naturally from a fine story and lets readers draw their own conclusions without adding a heavy-handed one of her own.
I wish I could get inside my kids' brains to understand what about this story so captivates them. Three times this week I've read it to Kiefer, then walked with it to Ben's room and read it to him. (We read separately--not incredibly efficient but allows me some time with each kid at the end of the day.) Is it the unexpected ending? Is it the fact that this is based on a true story? Is it the city landscape, something that is cool but foreign to them? Is it the magical way the fish and coral and other sea creatures cover Jessie at the end? Whatever it is, they LOVE the book.

And, despite the fact that we don't need another book in this house, I bought it. It just had to be a part of our collection of books for now, and forever.

(Such a dramatic ending! I feel like I need theme music or something.)

P.S. Here's an image from real life to show your kids, and click HERE for a little bit of background, too.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Finding Spring by Carin Berger

Finding Spring by Carin Berger
Greenwillow Books

Rating: 4 stars

Seasons are such a great thing. They embody that wise, ubiquitous "this, too, shall pass" magnet that is stuck on most of our refrigerators but we've seen it too many times to really remember what it's all about. Every year, the same magical thing happens: Winter melts to Spring. Spring morphs to Summer. Summer blows into Fall. Fall gives way to Winter. Again and again and again. Seasons are one way--a really great way, methinks--to teach our kids that life goes on. No matter what.

And when I look outside and see snow falling a-freaking-gain, I have to do my best to shake my head and smile, try to appreciate my kids' delight on another morning with freezing temperatures and school delays closures, and choose not to be grumpy. Instead, I'll dust a bit of "snow" (powdered sugar) on their waffles to celebrate this white stuff.

I've gotten off topic. No, I actually was never on topic. I started the blogpost with a tangent rather than interjected one in between paragraphs... Either way, Finding Spring was of course going to find its way to our library bag because I really want to find Spring in my own life. My kids, despite loving the snow, really want to find Spring, too. So we read this with earnest, as if somewhere in the pages of the book was the answer to Spring's whereabouts.

Mama and Maurice are bears preparing to hibernate for Winter. But all Maurice can think about is Spring. "Waiting is hard," Mama says wisely. "Right now it is time to sleep."

"Wow!" says Maurice.
Mama nods off; Maurice wanders off. He's just not sleepy and is curious to find Spring. Alone and unafraid, he asks forest creatures and looks everywhere for Spring. He comes up empty-handed until he feels an icy sting on his nose. A snowflake! He chases the snowflakes falling from the sky until he arrives at the top of Great Hill, where he witnesses a gorgeous snowfall, a sweet illustration made from a photograph of dozens of different snowflakes, some held up with push-pins and some glued down. It's a neat change of illustration pace.

Maurice realizes Winter is coming and runs back to the cave, to his Mama, and sleeps.

When they wake, they realize Spring is here. Finally! But Maurice wonders where it is exactly, and asks the same creatures he asked months before. He searches high and low until he remembers Great Hill. Together, in parade-like form and celebration, he and his pals march up and look out and see flowers blooming everywhere. Hoorah!

Okay, my turn. Can I look out and--nope, not yet. With one inch down and snow still falling, it is clearly still Winter around these parts!

(The snowfall pages in this book made me think of this Waiting for Winter book we bought years ago. The kids ran to find it in on our messy shelves and we laughed again at the animals' thinking that toothbrushes and tin cans were snowflakes...!)

Hoot Owl Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor

Hoot Owl Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Jean Jullien
Candlewick Press

Rating: 5 stars

This book is best read with some sort of heavy accent, which means that I read it in a heavy, atrocious French accent. But my kids don't care what I mispronounce. They're too amused by the silly way words are coming out of my mouth, too curious about the story, too wrapped up in Hoot Owl, wondering what he's going to dress up as and sneak up on, to care whether or not my accent is realistic.

Hoot Owl tells the story in play-by-play present tense, making me and my kids feel like we're right there with him, right beside his ruffle of feathers. Under the darkness of midnight, he flies around. And did you know that owls are not only wise, but they are also the masters of disguise? (It was news to us, too.)

I disguise myself ornamental birdbath.
It is the perfect way to catch a pigeon. I wait.
He is hungry and looking to find something to eat. A-HA! A rabbit! He must devise a costume! (In the big, bold illustrations by Jean Jullien, Hoot Owl is sewing with twig and thread some orange and green get-up.)

It's a carrot costume! He lies in wait but the rabbit gets away. Drat!

He is still hungry and looking to find something to heat. A-HA! A sheep! He must devise a costume! (We see him fumbling with a lot of white, fluffy stuff.)

It's a sheep costume! He lies in wait but the sheep gets away. Drat!

This goes on a few more times until everybody's favorite part: Hoot Owl spies a pizza and dresses up as a mustached waiter in order to sneak up on it. This time, the disguise works! The pizza does not move! He enjoys every single bite with silly comments (which I think he manages to get out when his beak is not full).

And then he zips off into the night sky. Hoot Owl, master of disguise!

Fun, fun, fun!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Don't Push the Button! by Bill Cotter

Don't Push the Button! by Bill Cotter
Sourcebooks, Inc.

Rating: 3.5 stars

My kids, especially 3 1/2 year old Kiefer, don't care at all that his book borrows heavily from the incredibly creative and super successful Press Here by Herve Tullet. Critical comparisons is not something Kiefer cares about when he sits down in my lap and asks me in his sweet voice, "Will you please read this book to me?"

(Shame on me that I let a critical comparison decrease some of sweetness of this moment!)

Bill Cotter has come up with a book for toddlers and preschoolers that is all about pushing that button that they shouldn't press. Anyone who has ridden an elevator with any young child already knows how, for kids, buttons are The It Thing and how pressing ALL of them is just so very fun. (And anyone with an older child knows how well they press OUR buttons, but that metaphoric button-pressing hasn't found itself in a book. That I know of.)

In Don't Push the Button!, Larry the Monster first tells the reader not to push the button that appears on the left-hand side of every double page spread. But a few pages in, he whispers, "No one is looking. You should give the button on little push."

A mischievous fellow, that Larry.

So Kiefer pushes the button and on the next page Larry is not purple but yellow. When Kiefer pushes the button again he's got polka-dots. Push it twice and there are two yellow-with-pink-polka-dotted Larrys. You get the idea. There's more button pushing and some book shaking, too, which makes Kiefer laugh.

This is a fun book for kids. Hopefully it gets all that button-pressing-desire out of them so they can leave those on the elevator unpressed...

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Gazpacho for Nacho by Tracey Kyle

Gazpacho for Nacho by Tracey Kyle, illustrated by Carolina Farías
Two Lions

Rating: 4 stars

Nacho is going through a phase. A picky phase. He refuses--albeit politely, without a single "YUCK" or "NO WAY"--to eat anything but gazpacho. His mami is the real hero of the story, I think. She takes the time and energy to cheerfully and continually introduce a healthy variety of foodstuffs to her child's stomach. But Nacho just wants gazpacho.

The heroic, endlessly patient Mami finally tries a different path to variety. She still has a smile on as she walks Nacho to the grocery store to teach Nacho how to cook his beloved gazpacho. Together, they shop for the ingredients, return home, and cook. At the end of the book, Nacho realizes how fun it is to cook and asks his mother to call him "Chef Nacho" from now on. And not only will he start to try new things, he'll make them himself!

Lastly, she drizzled a very small drop
of oil and vinegar over the top.
She blended the soup in a big batidora
and left it to chill in the fridge for one hora.
Kyle mixes a whole lot of Spanish into this book, and I'm impressed with her ability to rhyme not with just one language but two. The fact that my kids have little knowledge of Spanish left them asking "What does that mean?" at every other line. However, by the third or fourth read, their questions slowed and they knew more words. It was worth stumbling those first few times.

The illustrations by Carolina Farías are warm and inviting. All of the images of a mother and her son are really sweet--I sound like a gripey, tired mom ( I one?) when I say that it's mighty handy that Nacho is an only child. Or maybe his siblings are on an extended playdate so that Mami and Nacho can have this uninterrupted time together? Regardless, for me the illustrations remind me how sweet the time with just one child can be, and to savor that time when it happens on the pages of my own life.

As a mom who loves to cook and read with kids, this book really touched my heart. If only my kids liked soup (and it wasn't below freezing outside--an unbelievable eleven degrees as I type this!), I'd make the recipe for gazpacho in the end of the book!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ben & Zip: Two Short Friends by Joanne Linden

Ben & Zip: Two Short Friends by Joanne Linden, illustrated by Tom Goldsmith
Flashlight Press

Rating: 5 stars

I love surprise endings. As a grown up reading kids' books, I'm not surprised very often by the ending. But the author and illustrator worked together and got me on this one. I'm beginning to see a trend--I didn't see the end coming in The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, which I reviewed last week. Am I becoming a little less gullible? I sure hope so. I like the idea of being so in-the-moment (or on the current page) that my mind doesn't think too much about what's coming next (or on the final page). I'll get there when I get there.


This is a super new book with laugh-out-loud pages and wonder-what'll-happen pages and one big oh-my-gosh-OF-COURSE! page at the end. Linden writes in a format you don't see very often: some parts rhyme, some parts don't. It works, and how nice for something a little different. And the book wouldn't be as super without the sweet and funny illustrations by Goldsmith.

Here's the story:

Two friends, Ben and Zip, are walking along the boardwalk on a hot, summer day. Suddenly, a storm overshadows the beach and Zip gets a little nervous and runs off. Ben can't find him; he spends the next dozen pages searching for his buddy.

First he searches low, from his own short perspective. And all he sees are:
Right knees, left knees, knees with sandy patches.
Fat knees, bony knees, knees with bumps and scratches.

Next he gets a little higher, and scouts from the top of a bench. All he sees are (and how great is this illustration?!):
Round bellies, flat bellies, bellies white and brown.
Hairy bellies, jelly bellies, bellies hanging down.

You see the pattern, I'm sure. As the clouds open up and rain starts coming down, Ben searches high among the heads and then climbs up to the tallest lifeguard stand he can find to look at the now empty beach. No Zip. Where could he be?

Right at this point, my kids started to get worried. They were all in to this story and cared very much for Ben and even more for Zip, even though they didn't know what he looked like. It was Zip, of course, who was lost and they know how scary that can feel. (You know an author's done something right when three kids of three different ages are still, quiet, and impatiently waiting to find out what's next.)

And then Ben hears something. And they two friends are reunited. And my three kids could finally lean back in their chairs and breathe a sigh of relief. And this truly happened: they sat back in their chairs, laughed a little, and then came forward in their chairs, demanding I read it again so that they could look for clues that they should/could have seen to figure out who Zip is earlier.

I can't tell the ending. You've got to find out for yourself! If you're in Fairfax County, this book will be in circulation soon--at least one, lone copy of it. Flashlight Press sent me a copy to review and I'll be donating it to the library so more than my three kids can enjoy it.

Disclaimer: Too Much Glue was provided to me by the publisher. However, my opinions are written free of obligation, compensation or agreement from the publisher.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach

Rating: 5 stars

I've got to tell you about this book right now, right now, RIGHT NOW because the author will be sharing this delightful picture book tomorrow at One More Page Books at 3 PM in Arlington, Virginia. What else do you have to do on a super cold Valentine's Day?  Be there (or have the bear eat your sandwich)!

So, about this book. I'm not sure which I like more: the story or the illustrations. Check out the illustrations I've put in here. Aren't they great?! And now, the story: Somebody--we're not sure who until the very end--is telling the reader what happened to his/her sandwich.

"By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich. But you may not know how it happened. So let me tell you. It all started with a bear," starts the book.

The scent of ripe berries drifted toward him
and led to a wonderful discovery.
This bear woke up and followed its nose to bushels of berries in the back of a pick-up truck. After gnashing on them, with a full belly, he fell asleep. This bear slept through truck starting up and heading across the Golden Gate Bridge, away from its well-known forest of trees and rivers and fresh air and into an unfamiliar forest of streets and signs and people. Still, the bear was happy to explore.

The "trees" (or lamp posts) were still great for back-scratching. The "mud" (or wet cement) squished nicely under his feet. There were lots of smells and ways to have fun.

But then. There it was. Your sandwich. The bear tip-toed up to it, made sure no one was watching, and ate it up in one large gulp!
The narrator, looking a little sheepish.

He didn't think anyone had seen him, but then he turned around to see a group of dogs at the dog park, watching. Gasp! The bear high-tailed it out of the there, climbed a tree to get a visual of the way home, and caught the next boat across the water and into his forest.

"So. That is what happened to your sandwich. The bear ate it," reports...a dog!

I belly laughed when I got to this page. My kids rolled on the floor. How FUNNY! The dog was telling a tall tale about what happened to this kid's sandwich because HE actually ate it! I didn't see it coming at all, and was delighted by the slightly-remorseful, still-wagging surprise ending.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre

Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre, illustrated by Zac Retz
Flashlight Press

Rating: 5 stars

No joke: I just swiped this book from my son. I mean, I was the one who got my hands on it in the first place, but his teacher asked each student to bring in their favorite book, and it didn't take Ben long to decide that Too Much Glue was his new favorite picture book. But I need to review it! So here I am, at 5:13 AM, rifling through my son's backpack to get this book.

Because you need to know about it. It is such a fun book!

(His class needs to know about it, too, but they'll read it at 2 PM today. Consider this a sneak peek before those glue-happy kindergarteners get to see it!)

The art teacher constantly reminds the young narrator in this book: "Too much glue never dries. Glue raindrops, not puddles! No, Matty, that's too much glue!" As most problems do, this too-much-glue problem beings at home--we get a quick look at how Matty's parents encourage this sort of sticky, irresponsible behavior at home. (Gasp!)

But back in school, during art class, Matty goes a little too far by double fisting some good ol' Elmer's and creating a puddle of glue on a table. He throws in lots of trinkets and random decorations until he adds the final touch: himself! He belly flops into his sticky art creation--to his classmates' delight and his teacher's dismay.

Something my teacher said could never happen, happens:
the glue dries!
Of course, he gets stuck.

His classmates come up with a few different options for getting him out, but the lassoes snap off, the plastic brick tow truck explodes, the principal sticks a note on his tummy, and the giant fan helps the glue do what Matty's art teacher promises could never happen: the glue dries. He's now totally stuck. In author Lefebvre's words, he's a "note-on-my-tummy, melted mummy, clicky bricky, clingy stringy, blucky stucky glue boy."

Luckily, his glue-promoting dad comes to school and to the rescue. He peels Matty off the table and declares his boy a masterpiece! I love that his dad sees the humor in the situation...but, just in case any young readers think this is a good idea, his dad says, "Some beautiful things only happen once, and this is one of those things." It's a kind way to say DO NOT DO THIS AGAIN, and we all get the point. I hope.

So they take the principal's sticky note and encourage the use of tape instead.

I did warn my son Ben that when he takes this to school please, please, PLEASE do not do what Matty does during Mrs Rothman's art class and stick himself to a table to become gluey artwork himself! Fingers crossed I do NOT get that call later today...

This book is a kid-pleaser at the highest level. Lefebvre has honed in on that kid type of humor that is borderline inappropriate (for parents) and therefore wildly funny (for kids). I'm sure some parents and teachers will worry that those to whom they are reading will get some sticky ideas of their own, but hopefully that won't stop them from reading this book out loud. Again and again and again.

Just hide the Elmer's if you're a little worried!

Disclaimer: Too Much Glue was provided to me by the publisher. However, my opinions are written free of obligation, compensation or agreement from the publisher.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Wonderful Year by Nick Bruel

A Wonderful Year by Nick Bruel

Roaring Brook Press

Rating: 5 stars

Last week I had the chance to chaperone a field trip with Lorelei and all of the second grade classes at her school. They were going to hear Nick Bruel, author of all the Bad Kitty books, speak at an independent bookstore (Politics & Prose) in Washington, DC. Did I want to come along? Um....twist my arm...YES!

So I rode on a big yellow bus alongside some happy kids who then sat criss-cross-apple-sauce in front of an author I honestly didn't know much about. Despite the fact that it's the second best selling series for Scholastic, Bad Kitty isn't a title that lures me. But my kids have read them at school and think they're a hoot. As Nick Bruel stood and read from his most recent Bad Kitty book (Bad Kitty Puppy's Big Day) I definitely saw and appreciated the humor in the series--I think the chapter books are on the pulse of what kids want (read: something slightly inappropriate and therefore wildly funny).

We took his magic rubies! His rubies! His rubies!
We took his magic rubies! And now we have to FLEEEEE!
But then Nick Bruel read from his other recent book, A Wonderful Year, and I was struck by how it could be silly and zany ("outright buffoonery" said one review) it was one moment, and then thoughtful and sweet the next instant.

It's a picture book about the seasons, divided into four parts, linked together by an unnamed girl.

Nick Bruel "had me at hello" in a way when, on the first double page spread, the girl is super excited that it's Winter and it's snowing. Her mother tells her to put on her boots. Her father tells her to put on her earmuffs. Her dog tells her to put on her snowpants. Her purple rhinoceros Louise tells her to put on her gloves. Her can of beans tells her to put on her coat. Her tree tells her to put on a sweater. And then she opens the door and sees...that it's Spring. It's taken her so long to get dressed that winter is now over.

Can't you hear the crowd of criss-cross-apple-sauce sitters roar their approval? My face broke out into a grin. I laughed loudly, too. It was great! Brilliant! Silly!

Spring involves a very catchy--it'll be in your head and on your lips for days--sing-songy poem about a "demented fairy" (that's the girl again) and her dog and the imaginary adventures they are having as a princess and a handsome dog. Then they run into their pal, a cat, who is sleeping, who would rather nap than play. His reluctant participation is pretty funny. Hearing Nick Bruel read it out loud was even funnier.

"Hurry, hurry, hurry!" says Louise.
Summer is perhaps the zaniest of all--the girl and her purple rhino Louise are walking down the sidewalk on a hot day when suddenly the girl melts. Louise slurps up the girl and spits her into a cup, which she puts in the freezer to cool off. While waiting, Louise is excited to watch what the kids know is the least exciting show on earth: the can of beans show. (Random!) The girl waits a little too long in the freezer...but does end up cooling off.

And then there's Fall. The girl sits and reads under a tree. And, while reading, has a conversation with the tree about the book she's reading which is, coincidentally, about a girl and a tree. The tree is alarmed to hear that the leaves on the tree in the book turn colors and eventually fall, leaving the tree completely bare. As the girl gets up to walk away, the tree calls out, "you should put on a sweater!"

So funny and random and silly and thought-provoking. That Nick Bruel writes some funny stuff, and it was great to hear him speak to this crowd of kids. A Wonderful Year is his first non-Bad Kitty book that he's written in five years--all four of us kidlit-book-lovers in this house hope there are more where this comes from!