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Baby Bookwork Booklists: Brownie and Pearl

We seemed to have moved on from Donald Crews to the Cynthia Rylant Brownie and Pearl series over the last couple of weeks. It all started with Brownie and Pearl Hit the Hay. I think anytime I want to introduce my bookworm to a new series, I need to start with a bedtime book. Maybe that’s why there’s such an overflow of bedtime books out there in the picture book world? I like the simple stories, the colorful illustrations and the very sweet and endearing friendship between Brownie and her cat Pearl. They are two very independent and very close friends sharing many of life’s basic experience’s together.

What we’ve read

 Brownie and Pearl Hit the Hay

This was our first introduction to Brownie and Pearl. In this wonderful little story, Brownie and Pearl prepare for bed in the usual routine, bath, snacks, books and snuggles. It’s a wonderful little bedtime book. It’s actually one I read right before nap time, to get the bookworm into the sleepy frame of mind. It works quite well.

 Brownie and Pearl Take a Dip

Its a hot day and Brownie and Pearl decide to take a dip in their little kiddie pool in the yard. But uh-oh! Pearl falls into the water and isn’t have as much fun anymore.

 Brownie and Pearl Grab a Bit

This is my personal favorite. Brownie and Pearl put together a very basic and yummy snack for lunch. My bookworm has memorized a few of the phrases from this book “no roll apple!” and “saltines, of course!” both of which are adorable to hear coming from a 26-month-old. I’ve even replicated the snack from this book for my bookworm for lunch. Cheese, cracks, an apple and milk. Very wholesome and delicious.

 Brownie and Pearl Step Out

Brownie and Pearl have been invited to a birthday party, but Brownie is nervous about going. Once Pearl hops through the kitty door, Brownie has no choice but to go in. She then proceeds to have a lot of fun and eat too much ice cream. This is a good book about overcoming social fears and going to new places. Brownie, with the help of fearless Pearl, steps out of her comfort zone only to have fun with friends.

About the author

Cynthia Rylant is the author of dozens of children’s book series, including Henry & Mudge and Mr. Putter and Tabby.

Bio via

As a child in West Virginia, Cynthia Rylant never dreamed of becoming a writer. In her free time, she devoured Archie comic books and paperback romances and enjoyed the outdoors. But after taking one college English class, she was, “hooked on great writing… I didn’t know about this part of me until I went to college-didn’t know I loved beautiful stories.” And one night, inspired by the Southern writer James Agee, she sat down and wrote When I Was Young in the Mountains. Named a Caldecott Honor Book and an ALA Notable Book, it was an instant success.

Since that night, Rylant hasn’t stopped creating wonderful books. Her stories explore friendship, love, grief, and other mysteries, and often draw on her memories of growing up in Appalachia. “I get a lot of personal gratification thinking of those people who don’t get any attention in the world and making them really valuable in my fiction — making them absolutely shine with their beauty.”

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Interesting Links of the Week (5/1)

bookmarks final



Book news

Raising a Reader

Story time Ideas

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Interesting Links of the Week (4/24)

bookmarks final

Its a pretty full list this week! So many wonderful stories to pop up. I foresee many library posts and booklists popping up as we get closer to the Summer Reading Challenge months. Its less than 2 months away!


Raising a Reader

Tech Tools

  • Fictionary is an online app that lets you create book-specific dictionaries for your books. This is a great way for kids and adults to track their vocabulary development as well as keep notes on their favorites stories. “The free resource allows readers to access a custom e-book dictionary of fictitious terms, places and people in literature created by author provided content or communitywikis. “Fiction books can be complex, filled with a lot of characters to keep track of, items that are difficult to visualize, and places that are hard to recall,” explains the site. “Fictionaries can help you enjoy these stories without confusion, spoiler free, and you never have to leave your book.”The tool is designed to avoid spoilers and only provide details on characters based on how far along in the story you are. Fictionaries work on all Kindle eReaders, iOS Kindle Apps, and some Android ePub apps such as Moon+ Reader.” via Galley Cat

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Picture Book Review: Supertruck (Stephen Savage)


Title: Supertruck
Author: Stephen Savage
Publisher: Roaring Book Press, 2015
Source: Library copy
Other titles by the author: Little Tug

Little Tug has been a constant fixer at my house with my baby bookworm. We brought it home to read to him when he was just born, and then again a few months ago. He grew very attached to that title and would have us read the book to him for days on end. This leads to my happy surprise to see a new title by the same author on my library’s new books cart today when I came in for work.

Supertruck is the story of city trucks. Each truck has a might responsibility to the city, but the garbage truck is not quite as valued as the rest. That is, until a huge snow storm blankets everything in snow.

The illustrations are wonderful, and cozy. Each page could be a framed print in a nursery. Although, what appealed to be in Little Tug didn’t work so well in Supertruck. For one, Little Tug had natural abilities that made him a handy resource when times got rough for the bigger boats. In Supertruck, the garbage truck goes into a garage and is magically transformed into a supertruck with a snow plow attachment. Both stories follow the same premise of “don’t discount the little guy” which is always a great message for some of the more shy, or passive kids. I like the personification of the trucks, particularly that the garbage truck wears glasses, giving him an almost Superman-like mentality with a  secret identity who comes to the rescue. As a grown-up, I’m excited to see a character in a book, human or not, wearing glasses. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 6-years-old, and I can hardly count the number of picture books I’ve seen with characters wearing glasses. None of the other trucks wear glasses, so I like that added element.

Primary Reading Skills

Love Books (Print Motivation) – A wonderful story for young readers to relate to.

Tell a Story (Narrative Skills) – With vivid illustrations and few words to the page, children can be encouraged to expand on or add to what they see happening in the story.

How to use this book

For parents

Use this book to talk about everyone has a special skill or value, whether its visible or not. Talk about being a community helper and how different jobs in the community keep the city functioning. Talk about more than just the trucks on the page. What do the trucks stand for? What is a fireman’s role, or the garbage man’s? Is one more important than the other?

For librarians

This is a great book for booklists for Pre-K readers as well as toddler storytimes. Pair with other books on trucks, community helpers, or even a snowy day theme.

Suggested Reading


© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Easy Reader Review: Best Friends

Best Friends

Title: Best Friends by Anna Michaels
Green Light Readers, 1997
Level 1: Buckle Up! Getting Ready to Read
Genre: Friendship

Zack and Dan are best friends who share a few experiences in this short collection of stories. They pick apples for a snack and play a guessing game.

Green Light Readers are quickly becoming one of my favorite easy reader publishers. Although the books tend to be much older than the publications, they are just as relevant and somewhat better in many ways. Although the text is simple and repetitive, there is a lot of diversity with the vocabulary throughout the book. What I really enjoy is the series of reading comprehension questions at the end of the each chapter. Parents and teachers can ask their children these open-ended questions to reinforce and expand on what the child read and learned from the story. There are also a few activities related to the stories at the end of the book. I like interactive books like this because there is so much more to the book than a single-use read. The book can be referred to multiple times.

Pick this.
Pick that.
One in my cap.
Two in your hat.

The two activities in the back are very simple and can be done with regular household craft supplies. Making a small book and drawing a mural of a favorite activity. I also appreciate the diversity of the two boys in this book, and their wonder and amusement at such simple activities as snacking on apples from an apple tree and looking for a snail in the garden. These are the little things that preschoolers and kindergarteners find so much joy in and I like to see books that reflect that same level of contentedness in the books.

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Interesting Links of the Week (4/17/2015)

bookmarks final

This week will have double the links as I didn’t get to post it last Friday.


Book news


Raising a Reader

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Easy Reader Review: Muddy, Mud, Bud by Patricia Lakin

Muddy, Mud, BudMuddy, Mud, Bud by Patricia Lakin
Penguin Young Readers, 2014
Level 1: Emergent Reader
Ages: PreK to 2nd Grade
Genre: cars, mud, cleanliness

Bud is muddy. He loves to roll around and play in the mud. One day, he decides that he must have more mud and comes across a strange looking building. Believing it must have more mud, Bud goes through the doors and soon spick-and-span clean as he goes through the car-wash! Can he find a way to be muddy again?

I found this book to be an incredibly cute story. One that young kids who like to get messy will greatly appreciate. As a level 1 book, the text is repetitive, but not dull. The illustrations are vibrant, and the expressions on Bud’s face are priceless. His determination at wanting more mud and his surprise at coming out clean got an audible chuckle out of me. There are so many scientific activities that be incorporated with the reading of this book. You can discuss the differences between being clean and dirty, and how water differs from mud. You can talk about emotions and expectations based on Bud’s experiences in the book. Ask your child to tell you how they feel when getting dirty when playing outside. Take it one step further and let your child play with water and mud and talk about the differences in consistency, color, weight, etc. You can teach kids how to make mud, just like Bud. Add water to dirt and viola. You are all set for an afternoon of fun in the yard or at the park. You can explain to kids that mud-water-mud is the never ending cycle to life and that yes, baths are a necessary part of the cycle. So, there is always the hope getting dirty again after a cleanse. I like that the full-color illustrations focus mostly on Bud and his expressions. Although there are a lot of little details in the background, for the most part, its kept simple and the attention is on Bud.

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Easy Reader Review: Huff and Puff Have Too Much Stuff

Huff and Puff Have Too Much Stuff!Huff and Puff Have Too Much Stuff by Tish Rabe
Harper Collins, 2013
I Can Read: My First
Series: Huff and Puff
Ages: Pre-K to K
Genre: Farm animals, trains, friendship
Source: Library Copy

Train duo Huff and Puff (front and back) like to carry a lot of stuff. One day, they decide to add even more to their load. But can they carry it all up the hill? I’ve taken this book home to my toddler and he adores it. The rhymes are absolutely wonderful and the illustration are endearing and do a good job of carrying the story.

Puff got a kite, a bike, and a boat.
“Take me!” said a goat in a pretty pink coat.

The illustrations, I can only describe as warm and fuzzy. They are so colorful, slightly cartoonish, but very endearing. Designed for a pre-reader, there is a lot of repetition, large font, and very short sentences. My only complaint is the word “stuff” is very overused at the end of the book. I felt like there could have been another word pairing used instead. For a pre-schooler, the storyline is a bit simplistic, although it does teach some kind of lesson about not being a hoarder and sharing the excess. I like this book for toddlers because of its simplicity and the vibrant illustrations.

There are a few other books in the Huff and Puff series.

Huff and Puff [NookBook] Huff and Puff and the New Train Huff and Puff Sing Along: My First I Can Read

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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Baby Bookwork Booklists: Donald Crews

I’ve noticed that reading time with A seems to be going to phases of themes. He’ll attach himself to a particular author or topic. Most noticeable, he’s been devouring anything by Donald Crews that I bring home from the library.

If the name sounds familiar, then you’re probably thinking of his highly notable and award-winning book Freight Train. This book we actually own. The rest have been library copies and have been in steady rotation during our readings times throughout the day.

What we’ve read

 This is the book that started it all. It is simple, concise and so much fun to read. I especially love learning about the different cars on a freight train. The illustrations look like watercolor and Crews does a wonderful job of blending it all together to portray the whoosh of a train speeding along its track.

 This has been on the bedtime reading list for the past 4 days. We read it when he wakes up in the morning, when he wakes up from naps and before he goes to bed. I don’t remember the last book he was this excited to see on a daily basis. This one is much different from Freight Train. Its wordier and the images are much more detailed. In fact, the one detail A loves to point out is the garbage truck on the street.

 This has been another popular one we’ve been reading at home. A will flip very quickly to one specific page to see the “rain truck.” This is the red truck caught in a rainstorm. There are no words in this book, so he rarely brings it to us to read to him. Instead, he’ll flip through the pages on his own and point out objects of images that stand out to him. Like the rain.

  &  So far, we’ve read Sail Away and Flying once or twice. A hasn’t been too impressed with these two books, although he prefers the latter book. He’s been in planes and loves watching planes fly overhead, so it makes sense. He hasn’t seen a proper boat in real life yet. I appreciate these two books for older toddlers. There seems to be more a story developing that in the previous books.

About the author

 Donald Crews is an American illustrator of numerous children’s books. His background and training in graphic design explain his vibrant, colorful illustrations. He has been awarded Caldecott Honor Book award for both Freight Train and Truck.

For more information about the artist, please visit:

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Early Chapter Book Review: Recipe for Adventure: Paris (Giada De Laurentiis)

Paris! (Recipe for Adventure, #2)Title: Recipe for Adventure: Paris (Adventure #2)
Author: Giada De Laurentiis
Series: Recipe for Adventure
Age: 6-10
Source: Library copy
Format: Early Chapter Book
Genre: Magic, Cooking, Paris, Siblings

Giada De Laurentiis perhaps best known for her Food Channel cooking show, as well as her numerous cookbooks and restaurants around the nation. I just recently stumbled upon this series while looking up books on Paris, so I’ve read this book out of order. I would suggest reading the books in order as there are a number of references to the first book. I would think the entire premise of the series is explained in the first book. I was a bit confused by the magical travelling the siblings experienced in this book. But, I am getting ahead of myself.

Alfie (Alfredo) is a soccer star, but with one problem. His teamwork skills are lacking as he strives to the star on the field. When his coach benches him for the upcoming Saturday game, Alfie is put into a funk that only his aunt Zia’s homecooked meals can cure. During one of her special treats, hot chocolate, Zia talks about her time in Paris, shopping the markets and exploring the neighbors. Through a mysterious dizzying feeling, Alfie and his sister are transported to Paris, accidentally enrolled into a culinary academy for children and soon embark on a new adventure of cooking as they face a number of challenges from the instructors.

I found the concept of the book to be really enjoying. I think its a great way to introduce and wedge in a love of cooking into young children’s lives. I just felt like this book had so much more potential than it actually produced. The writing was very predictable and lacked in any clear voice. The challenges the children met in Paris were incredibly implausible, nevermind the magical teleportation via food and memory. How and when the siblings are sent back home felt incredibly rushed. It literally happened in the last 2 pages. Everything leading up to it was just over the top. In a Paris cooking school, they are living in dorms. There is no real cooking instruction explained in the books. The kids are then divided into two groups are given an enormous task to plan, purchase and cook for a famous chef coming to visit. It felt like a kid’s version of one of those high stakes cooking shows on the Food Network. Alfie does learn a valuable lesson about being a team player in the end, but it didn’t feel natural. The book is written for early readers (2nd grade) so there is a good mix of illustrations throughout the book that do a good job of complimenting the text. The text wasn’t very challenging, although I did like reading about the different cooking terminologies.

I really do like the premise and I like the emphasis of cooking at home and the importance and value of eating meals with family members. Food, particularly the smell, can invoke some vivid memories in people. Just think of Proust and his madeleines. It is a great option for both boys and girls, especially those who are interested in food. The plus of this series is thats actually about food, not sure cupcakes. Those can be rare to find. This book also shares the magical hints of the Magic Tree House series, with a similar brother/sister relationship going on magical adventures. Its a great alternative to those who’ve read The Magic Tree House and are looking for a similar theme of books. The first two books take place in Europe, then there’s a trip to China, to New Orleans and finally Brazil. I love the diversity of travel in the series. Its great for kids wanting to brush up before a trip or when learning about one of these regions in school. Since I had a library copy, the two promised recipe cards in the back were already torn out. I have to make a mental note to make photocopy of recipe inserts to keep at the front desk for the other series in case other inspired chefs decided to try the recipes at home. I do want to read the first book, just to better acquaint myself with the series premise. Hopefully that copy will have the recipe cards.

Other titles in the series:

Naples! (Recipe for Adventure, #1) Paris! (Recipe for Adventure, #2)

Hong Kong! (Recipe for Adventure, #3) New Orleans! (Recipe for Adventure, #4)

Rio de Janeiro! #5

© 2015 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld

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