One Great Picture Book After Another

On a trip to the library in my hometown this past spring, my daughter played with her grandma while I read one great picture book after another. Here’s a few I would recommend:

Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack: The pictures were adorable, and probably because of the color scheme, reminded me of the artwork in Frozen. Each page was full of bold colors, and the plot was bold, too. In the story, the prince’s parents are looking for a woman to wed their son, but the prince isn’t looking for a princess. Instead, he falls for a dashing knight. I liked how the two men were so handsome and in love. The story is told in rhyme. While some reviewers thought the rhymes weren’t very well written, it didn’t bother me. Perhaps I read it in a different cadence? I’d have to read the book again and pay better attention. In short, this book had a great message. We need more books like this that are just short and sweet and show a different sort of representation. The positives far outweighed any negatives for me. 

The Book No One Wants to Read by Beth Bacon: I imagine this would be a fun read-aloud book, especially for squirmy, busy readers! The book makes you do silly things like scratch and sniff (smells like paper, what were you expecting?), play Rock, Paper, Scissors (the book chooses paper every time!), and have a staring contest (books don’t have eyelids, so of course the book won!). What a fun, active book for reluctant readers.

The next two books were both written and illustrated by Jon Agee. They were both so clever that I’m eager to find more books by this talented author. 

  • Life on Mars follows an astronaut as he searches for life on Mars. He brings cupcakes to share, but can’t find life (the reader sees that a creature is behind him, but the astronaut doesn’t notice). He sets down the cupcakes, gets lost, spots a flower (There is life on Mars!), climbs a “hill” which looks suspiciously like a martian creature, and returns back to his ship. There, he finds the box of cupcakes and takes them home. As he flies back to Earth – sad that Mars was so lonely – he opens the box and finds only crumbs!
  • The Wall in the Middle of the Book: In this book, a character builds a wall along the book’s inseam and says it’s there to keep his side of the wall safe from the other side. However, his side starts to fill up with water. A giant from the other side of the wall saves the person and lifts him over to the other side of the book. Turns out, it wasn’t as safe as he thought on his side, nor as unsafe on the other side. Hmmm, is this supposed to teach us something about building a wall, perhaps?!

The Library Book illustrated by Chuck Groenink: The text of this book is actually the lyrics from “The Library Song,” written in 1989 by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark. The text wasn’t my favorite, but Groenink’s illustrations were lovely. The pale greens and browns made the book feel soft and inviting. The cover is so gosh darn cute, and I love books about books and reading. 

Rating + Review: Space Boy, Volume 1

I was supposed to meet my sister and niece at a children’s museum an hour from our house, but because of flash flooding near the museum, we had to cancel our plans. I decided to take my daughter to a new (to us) library about 30 minutes from our house in an area not affected by flooding. We practically had the library to ourselves. We explored a bit first. The library has a deck on the second level where you can read outside (when it’s not winter, of course), nice furniture and lots of reading nooks, and one of the biggest children’s sections I’ve ever seen. We found a place to play and when it looked like my four-year-old was busy with the LEGO table, I decided I needed something to read. My kid got nervous when I started walking away from her, so I had to pick out something quick! I spotted a graphic novel on a shelf and hoped for the best. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised by this book.

Goodreads Blurb:

A sci-fi drama of a high school aged girl who belongs in a different time, a boy possessed by emptiness as deep as space, an alien artifact, mysterious murder, and a love that crosses light years.

To Amy, everyone has a flavor. Her mom is the flavor of mint–sharp and bright. Her dad is like hot chocolate–sweet and full of gentle warmth.

Amy lives on a mining colony in out in deep space, but when her dad loses his job the entire family is forced to move back to Earth. Amy says goodbye to her best friend Jemmah and climbs into a cryotube where she will spend the next 30 years frozen in a state of suspended animation, hurtling in a rocket toward her new home. Her life will never be the same, but all she can think about is how when she gets to Earth, Jemmah will have grown up without her.

When Amy arrives on Earth, she feels like an alien in a strange land. The sky is beautiful but gravity is heavy and the people are weird. Stranger still is the boy she meets at her new school–a boy who has no flavor.


Space Boy is a graphic novel that introduces us to a teen named Amy who lives in space, but gets sent back to Earth when her father loses his job. The family gets cryogenically frozen and “sleeps” through 30 years on board a spacecraft. When they arrive on Earth, they have to adjust to gravity and catch up on all the news and technology they’ve missed. While Amy goes to an Earthen school for the first time, she comes across a boy who seems out of place – I’m assuming this will be the “Space Boy” from the title, but we don’t learn much about him in this installment.

I read the entire book in just about an hour, so it’s a quick read, but incredibly enjoyable. There are layers and questions and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. While Amy is a teenager and this is marketed as a young adult book, it felt more like middle grade to me because of the reading ease. Also, I found it on the children’s side of the library, so I went into this book thinking it was middle grade. That being said, the illustration style is beautiful (though my daughter kept asking where the girl’s feet were!). I enjoyed the depictions of life in space and the pictures felt like they had movement and energy to them.

One of the reasons why I think I liked this book so much was because it reminded me of the 1999 Disney channel movie Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. Cetus-Lupeedus! Remember that one? But I also enjoyed Space Boy because I love thinking about what it will be like for humans to live in space. Books where the author presents a version of the future and our connection to space usually intrigue me – for instance, anything by Andy Weir, These Broken Stars, Defy the Stars, Ender’s Game and many others.

In all, I’m so glad that I swiped this book from the shelf to read. I didn’t know anything about this book going in, but I’m leaving with a new series to follow. A great graphic novel and great read.

Intrigued by Space Boy? You can read the series online at the Webtoon website. The books are broken down into “episodes” that you can scroll through. Try it out here. This is a good way to read the books for free, but I think I like the format of a book better. 

Library Fun: Second Edition

We came back home to snow when we flew from Mexico to Wisconsin today. While I’m excited to get started on our Christmas decorating this weekend (an excellent way to procrastinate the unpacking of our suitcases!), I’m not ready to return to the cold. Luckily, even when the weather is yucky, we can still enjoy a day of fun at our local libraries. Here’s some more library fun from this summer:

We built towers and tracks with big blue blocks at my parent’s library. These blocks are fun to play with – but I’m glad I don’t have to store these huge things at my house! My daughter loved the veterinarian clinic that was set up at another library near our house. There were lots of stuffed animals to take care of, clipboards with checklists to give your pet a check-up, x-ray scans, and plenty of medical tools and grooming tools to get the job done. My kid especially loved taking care of the snake and the parrot. Creepy. Sometimes she does not seem like my child! At the same library, they had another corner set up as a campsite. There was a tent with camp chairs, a fire, lantern, and woodland animals. There was also a nearby “pond” where kids could reel in fish thanks to some magnets. While my daughter gets shy around other kids, she made several friends while playing at the library in these fun play stations.

Another play area was full of construction items like a wheelbarrow, blocks, a workbench with tools, brooms, and a construction worker outfit. My daughter liked loading up the wheelbarrow. At the library closest to our house, the children’s area is smaller, but still provides some room for play. My daughter took up the whole kid’s table with this giant book of The Wheels on the Bus. Luckily, she was happy enough to flip the pages by herself so I didn’t have to embarrass either of us with my terrible singing!

Before entering the children’s library, there is a statue of some children reading a book. My kid sat down and said, “Take a picture of me!” She fit right in. Another library offers a spacious area to build your own wooden train track. I know this is common at many libraries, but what I like about this set-up is that you don’t have to make your track fit on a train table. A big floor rug gives you more room to play. When we visited a new library this summer, we found lots of puppets. While I was personally a bit grossed out thinking about how many kids have put their hands inside all the puppets, my daughter joyfully explored them! Bring on the hand sanitizer!

Since we’ve been on vacation, we’ll be back at the library soon to check out new materials. Hope you are utilizing your local libraries too!

Library Fun: First Edition

My daughter and I are homebodies. We much prefer hanging out at home to venturing out into people and traffic. But the one place we always look forward to going is the library. We have so many fantastic libraries in our area, so we utilize them a lot. We visited a new library last spring and it became a fun place to visit during the summer. It’s located in a small town about 10 minutes from our house. An extra perk was that there’s a cute little ice cream shop a few blocks away. We could visit the library and stop for a treat before heading back home. That’s a great day!

Inside the library, there is a cute children’s section. There is a large arched door for adults to walk through, and next to it is a smaller door for kids to enter. Right away, it makes it clear that children are welcome. While the children’s area doesn’t have a ton of space for toys, there are a few things to play with like a shop that rotates different toy bins, a tower of puzzles, and two tablets with pre-loaded games attached to a giant yellow crayon.

There are also fun things to check out. In addition to the usual books, CDs, and DVDs, this library also has crafts to check out and Me Readers. Me Readers are like e-readers for kids. Each Me Reader comes with 8 books and a device with color-coded buttons. Each page of the book has a color and shape around the text. Kids push the correct button on the device to have the page read out loud. My daughter thought this was so cool – it was just like Mommy’s kindle! She could turn the pages, push the buttons, and feel like she was reading the book herself.

There are fun things to find outside the library too. The library must have had a rock-painting event because there are cute painted rocks hidden among the landscaping. There are also benches with large, colorful canopies overhead for shade, and two big wooden swings set under pergolas. You can check out your books and then read outside. How I wish we had a swing like this at our house!

A sensory garden provides time to explore. Three large planters offer a variety of plants that you can Taste, Touch, and Smell. My daughter loved trying the green onion each time because she thought it looked like bamboo! In the Touch planter, there were plants with super soft leaves and plants with rough, bumpy leaves. I’m so grateful for the fantastic libraries in our area and the thoughtful librarians who provide interesting materials and programming for library patrons of all ages.

We love libraries! What do you love about your local library?

Based on your choice of literature I think we could be friends

I read this cute blog post months ago about how the blogger challenged herself to complete 30 random acts of kindness in 30 days. She did a lot of different things, like putting up inspirational signs on message boards, hiding dollar bills in the dollar store, putting together care packages for homeless people, giving away baked goods, loading vending machines up with coins, and writing lots of notes and leaving them in random places. One of these notes caught my eye because she left it, in all places, inside a library book. It read, “Hi! I don’t think we’ve ever met, but based on your choice of literature I think we would make great friends.” Something about this idea just made me smile. Wouldn’t it be fun to open up a book and get a message from a kindred soul?

I decided NaBloPoMo was just the right time to give this idea a go myself. Before I headed off to the library, I wrote the message on some cute post-it notes. Putting the notes inside the books at the library should have been super easy. But I had a three-year-old with me. So it went something like this:

Me: It’s mommy’s turn to pick out a book now.

C: No, I need you!

Me: What do you need?

C: I need you to play with me!

Me: I will. I just need to get a book first.

C: Nooo, I neeed you!

Me: I know. This won’t take long. Just come with me and then we’ll go back and play.

C: Nooo, I need you to play with me.

Me: Yup, we will do that. I just need to quick grab a book.

C: Noooo! (Falls on floor dramatically)

Me: Shhh! You have to be quiet on this side of the library. People are trying to read here.

C: But I need you…

So anyway, I eventually got around to selecting two books to post my messages in: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. I hope the next person who checks out these books smiles when they come across my note. It’s nothing fancy, but I hope it makes someone think about all the people who have read and enjoyed the same books.