Lola Goes to School

July 18th, 2019 · Books

LOLA GOES TO SCHOOL by Anna McQuinn is a lovely and encouraging picture book for children starting Kindergarten or preschool. Fans of Lola’s previous adventures will recognize her love of reading and learning and having new experiences. Lola Goes to School is perfect for children who are anxious about starting school as there is a matter-of-fact, reassuring tone, and the story presents no conflicts to overcome — other than school being “fun…but exhausting.”

The first half of the picture book is all about preparing for the big day. Lola picks out her outfit and packs her bag, including a set of extra clothes “just in case.” The story then follows Lola as she starts her first day of school and navigates reading and snack time and blocks and singing. The array of color and variety of activities Lola takes part in are sure to include at least one or two tasks that any child beginning a new school year will recognize.

To further ease trepidations, every character is smiling throughout the book, and the text is simple description of actions with no dialogue. The bright colors and soft edges of the illustrations by Rosalind Beardshaw are consistently comforting and joyful. Lola Goes to School will make a wonderful addition to any picture book collection about starting new adventures and enjoying every moment.

Review by Kristin Wald

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Plant-Powered Protein Cookbook

July 12th, 2019 · Books

We are always on the lookout for cookbooks that include recipes kids will be able both help cook in a meaningful way and eat with zeal. The PLANT-POWERED PROTEIN COOKBOOK from Vegetarian Times has lots of easy-to-follow recipes that include color, texture, and a wealth of flavors. As with many vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, the cookbook offers a basic primer focused on the primary plant-based sources of protein. Another section offers replacements for eggs and dairy replacers, making the recipes easy to adapt to vegan from the majority of the vegetarian recipes. Each recipe also provides nutrition information including protein, sugar, and sodium.

Most kids love smoothies, and there are several in different colors to choose from here. Other breakfast item standouts are the various tofu scrambles, baked oatmeal, and beautiful millet porridge pancakes. Several other recipes rely on eggs, but vegan families will find it easy to adapt the flavors with replacements or by adjusting the recipe to suit their lifestyles.

Appreciated, especially for busy families, is the Snacks & Finger Foods section. Staples like crispy kale chips show up, but it’s snacks like the peanut-stuffed okra fingers and black bean and corn taquitos that include texture, protein, and flavor perfect for picky children. The Soups & Stews section is full of recipes that the young people in your life can help chop, stir, and garnish. Again, there are familiar staples like lentil soups and stews, and these are joined by a delicious farmers’ market chowder made with corn, leeks, sweet potatoes and more and a gorgeous smoke vegetable & wheat berry stew.

Additional standout sections include Sandwiches & Wraps, Pizza & Breads, and the voluminous Vegetables section. An inventive section on Tofu, Veggie Burgers, and Meat Substitutes includes basics like tofu skewers and instructions on how to use tempeh effectively in the glazed maple-mustard tempeh bourgignon. With everyday meals like a portobello mushroom pizza and elegant dishes like the truffled wild mushrooms over whipped white beans, there is something for every occasion.

As with many vegetarian and vegan fallbacks, the Pasta & Noodles section had a sizable selection. We love that there were two different lasagna recipes, one with noodles and the other with tortillas. There is also a wonderful recipe for peanut noodles, another for beet linguini, and still another for zucchini-corn cannelloni. We suspect that the spinach-artichoke mini lasagnas, baked in muffin cups, will appeal to just about any young cook.

Don’t worry! We haven’t overlooked the desserts! Chocolate-cherry quinoa muffins, a fresh berry tart, and glazed chocolate avocado cupcakes are all included. There’s also a lovely raw cashew cheesecake, and the cookbook includes detailed instructions on how to make a versatile cashew creme. The photos will make every aspiring chef want to try each recipe.

Review by Kristin Wald



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Even More Lesser Spotted Animals

July 10th, 2019 · Books

There is nothing “lesser” about the animals highlighted in Martin Brown’s clever and deeply funny follow-up to Lesser Spotted Animals. With the same awkward, caught-unawares images of lesser known animals and with just as much high interest information as the first book, EVEN MORE LESSER SPOTTED ANIMALS is a must-have for kids of all ages. As the subtitle says, this beautiful mini-encyclopedia features “brilliant beasts you never knew you needed to know about” on every page.

The humor is accessible to young and old, and the animals depicted show attitude and grudging appreciation for being officially featured – even on the front cover! Whether children read one or two pages or the entire book through, they’ll want to go back again and again to check out the details and very funny highlighted skills. On the page featuring different sengi, for example, there is an pull out section that included the “nose-picking sengi.” And the ribbon seal’s sliding walk has a descriptive and funny illustration that makes sure readers understand the “sliding walk” is on its belly, not on its back flippers. The Blainville’s beaked whale describes itself as “beaky and freaky.” Older children will especially appreciate the details about the gray slender loris, whose stink rivals a middle school locker room.

Martin Brown’s deep research into these animals comes through on every page. The easy feel of the jokes and clever mini-conversations between animals. Even the glossary includes fun images and descriptions.

Highly recommended. Seriously. Watch this preview of Even More Lesser Spotted Animals while you wait for its July 30th release date!

Review by Kristin Wald

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Future Astronaut

June 25th, 2019 · Books

A new board book in the Future Baby series is out today! FUTURE ASTRONAUT is adorable and informative and it even includes a lesson in languages. The big-headed babies in the book are compared to astronauts as they go to the doctor, eat their meals, and float in space. Suggested for infants through three-years-old, the book is a perfect way for children to imagine themselves traveling in a rocket ship, or just having an adventure.

The simple text and consistent comparison style in Lori Alexander’s story ensures that young readers will understand both what the astronauts are doing and how their own daily routines relate. Allison Black’s illustrations are joyful and colorful, and the faces share clear emotions that children will be able to identify and emulate. Together, the text and imagery create a wonderful book that will be read again and again.

The end of Future Astronaut has “fun facts” also chosen to relate to a young child’s day. Did you know that crackers and bread aren’t allowed in space because crumbs float into astronauts’ eyes and noses? No crackers?!

Highly recommended for ages 0-3 years.

Review by Kristin Wald



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