Irene's Picture Book Reviews

           Always My Brother
           By Jean Reagan
           Illustrated by Phyllis Pollema-Cahill
           Gardiner, Maine: Tibury House, 2009
           Reagan’s book is about how a sibling can cope with
           death. Kids tend to have a very difficult time coping
           with death, and this is especially the case if the death
           occurs within the family.
           The book is about Becky and her brother John. They
           are best buddies all their lives, telling jokes, caring for
           their dog Toby, and playing soccoer. John was always
           there to cheer her up and to help her out. Then one day,
           the inconceivable happened. He died suddenly. Becky
           so wishes that everything would go back to normal. But
           it can’t because she feels such a void in her life after the
           death of her brother.
           She has a difficult time resuming her normal
           activities, and when she finds herself feeling guilty
           about enjoying herself at a friend’s birthday party, her
           Mom tries to soothe her. But it takes time for Becky to
           come around and allow herself to have fun. Gradually,
           she discovers that her brother would want her to have
           fun and to laugh, even when he’s gone.
           This is such a heartwarming story. The ending is a bit
           sad.  But it is also pensive and reflective, leaving an
           important message for kids: a sibling can go on after the
           death of a family member, despite the fact that it’s so
           hard at the beginning. It may even make one stronger
           as a result.
              How Teachers can use this book?
           1. Divide the class into smaller groups of say three to
           five kids. Have them discuss death and whether they
           were touched by it. How did they cope with the loss of
           a family member or friend?
           2.  Ask the class to brainstorm ten ways that siblings
           and close friends can overcome the hurt of losing
           someone very close to them? 
           3.  Would they feel guilty to have fun after the death
           of a close family member? If yes, why? If no, why not?
           4.  Can one learn anything from the death of a
           sibling? List five things that you could learn from such
           an experience.          
           Reviewed by Irene S. Roth


           Polar Slumber
           By Dennis Rockhill
           Raven Tree Press, 2009
           Picture Book, Ages 3-8
           This is a great children’s picture book that will make
           a child want to wrap him/herself up around a parent.
           The illustrations are so real they will make the child feel
           a chill, and will transform the child right into the story.
           The book is about a backyard snow bear who
           becomes an integral part of a little girls’s slumber. She
           explores the arctic landscape in the bear’s company and
           awakens to question the authenticity of the experience.
           Was her excursion based on fantasy or reality?
           The author wrote the book with a love and fondness
           of winter which shows through on each and every page
           of the book. The author was also the illustrator of the
           book . The pictures come to life with prismacolour
           pencil sketches against a grey, white and blue
           background. The illustrations are multi-layered and just
           breathtaking in their scope and depth. They are truly

           Rating: 4 Roses


           Yip! Snap! Yap!
           Charles Fuge
           Author and Illustrator
           Sterling Publishing, 2010
           Ages 3-8
           This is an accumulative rhyme picture book that is
           as colourful as it is interesting. Fuge describes all
           sizes, shapes, colours and kinds of dogs.
           There are sleepy dogs, greedy dogs, rowdy dogs,
           itchy dogs, yappy dogs, hot dogs, guard dogs, sniffer
           dogs, and puppy dogs. He describes these dogs in a
           cute fashion that both girls and boys will love.
           Children will also be entranced by the illustrations
           in the book and prose that keeps moving almost as
           fast as the reader who turns the page. The book is
           also funny and cute. Many readers will be giggling as
           they read.
           When I read this book to a group of 2nd graders,
           they were totally enthralled by the prose. And then
           when they saw some of the illustrations, they were
           truly mesmerized. Some of these kids went out to
           buy the book.

           Rating: 3 roses out of 5


           Fraser Bear: A Cub’s Life
           By: Maggie deVries
           Illustrated by Renne Benoit
           Greystone Books, 2010
           Picture Book for ages 3-8     
           This is a unique story of a cub’s life. The story is
           divided into monthly chapters, starting from January
           and ending with October.
           The book is about Fraser Bear who is born in a den in
           the Rocky Mountains. Before he leaves his mother and
           sister to fend for himself, he must learn to recognize the
           sounds of owls and coyotes and to find berries, nuts
           and fresh green growth to eat.
           As time goes on and throughout the book, he learns
           about danger, when a huge bear attacks him. And most
           important, if he is to survive, he must learn to catch a
           salmon. Does he?  Well, you will have to read the book
           to find out.
           The book is great for educational purposes in that it
           has a glossary and sidebar as well for discussion
           purposes. It also contains a lot of information about
           black bears and the Chinooks, which is a type of salmon
           in the Fraser River.
           The illustrations throughout the book are so vivid
           and colourful. This makes the story exciting and
           moving for the young and older child alike. The reader
           will fall in love with Fraser Bear. He is really cute, and
           adorable yet so strong.

           Rating: 4 roses


           Pick a Pumkin, Mrs. Millie!
           Judy Cox
           Illustrated by: Joe Mathieu
           Marshall Cavendish Publishing, 2009
           Ages 3-6
           Readers of this book will be kept on their toes.
           This book is full of vividly illustrated yellow and
           orange pictures. It truly will give the reader an
           autumnal feel and they will be transported to a class
           hilarious trip like no other that I have seen for a
           long time.
           The story is about a kindergarten teacher, Mrs.
           Millie, who takes her kindergarteners on a trip to a
           local farm to pick pumpkins for their harvest party.
           The class has fun guessing the meanings of their
           favourite teacher’s nonsense words. They go on a
           dragon (wagon) ride, see a harecrow (scarcrow),
           search for orange pumas (pumkins), pet the boats
           (goats), and drink apple spider (cider).
           The kids who I read this book thought it was
           really funny. They were laughing almost hysterically
           a few times. It was heartwarming to see that and
           for me, as a children’s writer, this is the mark of a
           GREAT picture book. 



Rating: 5 roses out of 5!


           In Their Shoes
           Extraordinary Women Describe Their Amazing
           Deborah Reber
           This is a wonderful and inspiring book for young
           adolescent girls. Page after page of the book
           provides a multitude of examples about how women
           have excelled and have been successful in many
           different walks of life.
           Each of the stories outline what it took for a
           particular woman to be successful. Reber
           interviewed many women for this book. I was
           surprised about how these different women find
           ways of excelling and to making sure that they can
           inspire others to be great.
           This is something that girls need to hear. It
           seems that in our culture, mediocrity rules. Our
           culture doesn’t really emphasize excellence as much
           as it should. We need books like Reber’s to do just
           As I was reading this book, I felt motivated
           myself to be as great as I could be. I would
           encourage all of you to read this book. You won’t
           regret reading trust me.
           The book is written in a very causal and
           conversational style. It is unique and one of a kind.
           And I think it is great!
           So, go out and get your very own copy of the book
           and pass it on to all of the females in your life.
           ~ Happy Reading!

            Reviewed by Irene Roth

           Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

           Lewis Carroll
           Illustrated by Oleg Lipchenko
           Tandra Books, 2009

Ever since its publication in November of 1865,
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland has been a landmark in
children’s literature. Each time Alice takes her famous
tumble down the rabbit-hole, she carries thousands of
newcomers and thousands of seasoned travellers with
her to Wonderland, where very little seems to make
sense, and yet, so much is very wise. 
Over one hundred and fifty years later, the thrill of
the adventure is as fresh as ever. This book has brilliant
illustrations by Oleg Lipchenko. And newcomers to the
tale have even more to relish. Years in the making,
Alice and her peculiar acquaintances are brought
lovingly to the page by the meticulous artistry of a
 master draftsman. 
This glorious new edition of Carroll’s unabridged
classic can be proudly given as an introduction to one
of the best-loved stories of all time, or simply acquired
as an exciting addition to any collector’s library. The
illustrator presents the story in a fresh and wonderful
manner through the various images throughout the
book. It is so well done that you will have to see it for
I was so entranced by the details of the paintings, the
gold embossing on the pages, and the wonderful way in
which this classic is redone that I bought a copy for
each of my nieces and nephews. They loved it and keep
reading and re-reading it. It is truly a masterpiece, one
which will delight both young and old. 

 By: Irene Roth
 Rating: 5 stars


June 2018
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