Just Being Audrey

October 22nd, 2014 · Books


With the title of her book Just Being Audrey, Margaret Cardillo captures the down-to-earth character of the world renowned actress about which she writes. Perhaps this line captures the essence of Cardillo’s picture book biography: “Audrey’s life was not always a fairy tale, but she chose hope over sorrow.” As a child, Audrey was taller than the rest and her imagination was more vivid, yet her spirit endured. At the rise of World War II, she lived a life far less luxurious than her mother, a baroness, yet she did not give up hope. She had dreams, an intuitive sense of knowing her limitations and ability to change.

Audrey HC cIn this current culture of bulling, Just Being Audrey, sends an important message to just be yourself. In this life, the ability to change is amazing. As the author so aptly phrases, “And the very things that made her appear awkward as a child? They were precisely the things that made her beautiful as an adult.”

This book teaches many lessons in one with a historical context. The illustrations by Julia Denos, add a charm to this book akin to Audrey herself. As a lover of Audrey, I am giving this book to my niece to her fourth birthday, so she can learn about not only an iconic actress but an altruistic soul.

The timeline and bibliography at the end of the book are an added bonus to this delightful tribute to Audrey’s life.

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Mini Myths: Play Nice, Hercules & Be Patient, Pandora

October 1st, 2014 · Books

MiniMythsHerculesReview By JESSICA ALMY

Loosely based on Greek myths, Mini Myths: Play Nice, Hercules and Be Patient, Pandora are board books that feature cute illustrations. Geared to toddlers and preschoolers, the story lines here are so simple they can hardly be characterized as stories. In the Hercules book, for example, a little boy knocks over his sister’s blocks, she cries, he creates a pyramid of blocks for her, and they knock it over together.

MiniMythsPandoraAlthough these aren’t particularly fun books to read aloud, parents will likely will be amused by the hero Hercules depicted as a rough-and-tumble toddler and the goddess Pandora incarnated as a modern-day curious kid. A brief synopsis of each myth is included at the end.

Some parents will also enjoy these books as parables that speak to the temptations and challenges that young children routinely face. Others may find them to be a bit heavy-handed.

Ages 1 to 4.

I received review copies of these books from the publisher.


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Counta Block

September 29th, 2014 · Books

CountablockReview By JESSICA ALMY

Counting books are a dime a dozen, with good reason. When kids are learning their numbers (usually around age 3 or 4), repetition helps a lot, and books are a fun way to add a bit of story and some visual appeal. Even before kids are ready to count themselves, counting books help young children understand math concepts. Interestingly, research shows that toddlers as young as 18 months have some sense of numeracy.

One recent addition to this rich genre is Christopher Franceschelli and Peskimo’s Counta Block. The first thing that struck me when I received a review copy from the publisher is the thickness of the book. All board books are thick, but this one is extra thick. The reason: it goes well beyond 10, teaching numbers all the way to 100.

The illustrations are super-cute, and I found myself engaged by this book, even though my number-learning days (and those of my kiddo) are long in the past.

40EggsSince much of the book is concerned with growing vegetables and preparing food, I did pause when I got to the number 40. “Forty eggs become…” one page prompts, and I held my breath as a I flipped to the next, fearing an omelet. The response? Enthralling. “Forty eggs become … thirty-nine chicks and one dinosaur!”

This vegan-friendly number book would make a welcome addition to any bookshelf. Count me among its fans!

Ages 1 to 4.


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What is the Dog Doing: Singular Present Tense Verbs

September 27th, 2014 · Books

WhatIstheDogDoing-language-book-for-kidsReview by CAROLYN M. MULLIN

Former elementary school teacher, Cindy Olejar, has developed a line of books that hone in on an early elementary student’s use of different words, whether they’re the prepositions in Find the Cat and More or the verbs in What is the Dog Doing?

With the same basic set up, each page depicts a photograph of either a cat or a dog and asks the reader “Where is the cat?” or “What is the dog doing?” The responses are usually two-fold, which help students see that there is more than one way to look at something.

For example, a picture of a cat in front of a house will read,

The cat is next to the tree.
The cat is walking on the sidewalk.

While readers will enjoy meeting a new cat or dog in each photograph (the dog book actually has a unique name listed for each canine), I think my favorite aspect of What is the Dog Doing? is that it shows dogs as more than one-dimensional beings. They’re visiting dinosaur parks, like Murphy the dog, and sprinting, cuddling, sleeping, snoozing, lying, stopping, and much more. And each canine image again can be interpreted in a few ways. For example, Red the dog is in a lake and the accompanying text reads,

The dog is wading in the water.
The dog is cooling off in the water.

The last few pages of What is the Dog Doing? is more of a workbook where students can fill in their own answers of what they think the dog is doing.

While the series is a homegrown effort, students will appreciate this approach to education.

Ages 4 – 8.



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