New Review: MOONDAY by Adam Rex

September 18, 2013

Anyone who knows me knows what huge Adam Rex fans we are here. We read everything he has any part in (just the other day we were reading his discarded to-do lists for a bedtime story) (not really) (but we would if we could).

So I was so glad that Adam somehow managed to schedule the release of Moonday to coincide with the first day of school.  The kids had Moonday waiting for them when they got off the bus.

You won’t be surprised to hear me gush about it on this week’s episode of Brain Burps About Books. It’s a gorgeous, lovely, amazing book, a wondrous book. Moonday proves (not that we doubted it) that Adam Rex is not a one-note writer/illustrator. This book is dreamy in a way his other books are not, but in a way that we all get (note: I mean dreamy as in “like a dream” not like “Davy Jones is dreamy”).

And just look how that book glows! It illuminates Henry’s face like the book is actually the moon! [Insert requisite pun/joke here about Henry therefore being the sun/son.]

You can hear my review and read more about this week’s podcast here, or listen directly in iTunes here.

Oh, p.s. I forgot to post before: I was asked to make a Celebridot. This is a site celebrating the Peter Reynolds book The Dot, about making your mark, and the Celebridot site has dots made by…this feels weird to say…celebrities? Like I’m one of those? Whatever: I was honored to be asked and I had so much fun making my dot I can’t even tell you. My dot is all about the magical power of doodling. Go check it out!

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CATEGORIES: books

New Review: The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

September 11, 2013

You know what I love doing? Audio reviews for the Brain Burps podcast. I have so much fun writing and reading them. I didn’t do any allllll summer long, because it turned out it was hard to write with everyone home this summer, and also I couldn’t ever figure out how to record a review with the noisey noisemakers in the house.

So Katie used up all my recorded-before-June reviews during the summer, except …we forgot one! So today you can hear a review I recorded back in the spring (you can tell I recorded it a long time ago because of the part where I say it’s not watermelon season yet) (and I need to maybe remember not to make my reviews so seasonally-dependent).

Today’s review is The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli, a book that can be enjoyed all year round, not only during watermelon season. We love love love this book. And you’ll hear my extreme love of the design of the book, too, if you listen to the review. (And look at how cool it is that Greg uses watermelon-colored pens to sign the book!).

You can see all the information about this week’s Brain Burps About Books episode here (Katie interviews Terry Shay about Dot Day), or you can listen directly in iTunes here.

Also be sure to check out the trailer for The Watermelon Seed. So great!

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CATEGORIES: books

New Review: HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUNNY!

July 19, 2013

Back in March, I was lucky enough to win one of agent Steven Malk’s trivia contests on Twitter, and he sent me a huge pile of amazing, amazing books. My favorite from this pile changes daily, but Ramona immediately glued herself to Happy Birthday Bunny! by Liz Garton Scanlon and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin.

This book is so lovely and sweet, and I am desperately in love with the illustrations, but Ramona — well, she saw it as a user’s manual for how to have a third birthday. Because the bunny in the book is turning three, and Ramona was soon to turn three when we got the book.

And so when, about a month before her birthday, we asked what she wanted, she said, “A rocking zebra!” There was an implied “of course” at the end of her sentence. Because, in Happy Birthday, Bunny!: “What’s this box and what’s inside? A rocking zebra — take a ride!”

In her mind, when you turn three, you get a rocking zebra. It says so right there, in the book. Good thing we got that book. Otherwise how could she have known what she was supposed to get for her birthday?

Well, that’s all well and good until you’re the parents of an almost-three-year-old and have been informed that the birthday essentially won’t exist without a rocking zebra. And you realize that there are fancypants rocking zebras that cost $150. And that you don’t have time to get Stephanie Graegin to make a super cool one for you.

Well, we did find one, you’ll be glad to know, and so Ramona was able to celebrate properly. (I guess I’m glad, in retrospect, that she asked for this and didn’t expect there to be an owl, a fox, and a badger at her birthday party.) (Maybe because children see anthropomorphic animals in picture books as cuddly cute humans? Discuss.)

So this week I review Happy Birthday, Bunny! on Brain Burps About Books. You need to go to the show notes to see how Katie adorably drew a big heart around my head and announced my book sale.

You can listen to this podcast episode (an interview with Bruce Hale) directly in iTunes, here.

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CATEGORIES: Julie

New Review on Brain Burps: How to Be a Cat

July 2, 2013

This week on Brain Burps About Books I review How to Be a Cat by Nikki McClure. I am so in love with the cut paper illustrations in this book, the simple text, the use of white space, and the cats’ expressions most of all. This book is gorgeous.

You can hear my review on this week’s episode of Brain Burps, or listen right in iTunes here.

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CATEGORIES: books

New review on Brain Burps: Andrew Henry’s Meadow

May 29, 2013

Andrew Henry's MeadowToday over on Brain Burps I review Andrew Henry’s Meadow by Doris Burn, which is one of my favorite new books. New to me, I should say. The book isn’t new at all. It’s 45 years old. Were you lucky enough to read this book when you were a kid? We just recently discovered it and we’re all so captivated by the illustrations, and, most of all, the story.

Check out the episode for my full review!

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CATEGORIES: books

Reviews of BEAR AND BEE (and HAVE YOU SEEN MY NEW BLUE SOCKS?)

May 1, 2013

Today over at Brain Burps About Books I review Sergio Ruzzier‘s new book, Bear and Bee. Which I love. I love how it’s funny and sweet and lovely, and how it manages to be all these things in very few words.

I also mention the new book by Eve Bunting that Sergio Ruzzier illustrated, Have You Seen My New Blue Socks? which we also love. We had so much fun reading these that we had to go get our first Sergio Ruzzier fave: The Room of Wonders. You should get that one too. Have I told you before that William Steig is my most favorite children’s book author ever? I love The Room of Wonders for what it is, but I also really love its intense Steigishness — the feelings of desperation and hopelessness, and the blooming beauty of hope at the end.

I think I say the words “Sergio Ruzzier” 1000 times in this review. I felt pretty confident about it. I took Italian for three semesters and college and everything. Then I listened to Sergio pronounce his own name and I felt less confident. I could either go crazy full-on pronouncey, or just say it like the American girl that I am, and oh, neither seemed right, and it just felt weirder the more times I said it.  So you have that to look forward to.

Go here for more information about this Brain Burps episode,or subscribe in iTunes.

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New reviews: Monster’s Monster and Pirateria

January 23, 2013

Last week, I reviewed The Monster’s Monster by Patrick McDonnell on Brain Burps About Books. I really love the use of color in this book: In the beginning of the book, when the three little monsters are trying to be bad, the colors are all grey and dark and gloomy. And then, when they build their own monster (who’s supposed to be big and bad but turns out a bit different), the colors lighten and get sunnier.

You should also listen to this review to hear a cameo from Dave as the voice of the monster.

You can go here to listen to the episode (or you can subscribe in iTunes).

Then, this week, I review Pirateria: The Wonderful, Plunderful Pirate Emporium by Calef Brown. I love Calef Brown. His art makes me so happy. His nutty, loopy world is populated by lovable oddballs. People might have green or purple skin: what of it? Sometimes I just poke around on his Etsy shop, pretending I live in CalefBrownlandia.

Oh, and guess what? He can write, too. Not only write, but write in rhyme. Seriously, I’d read a Calef Brown book if it was just his illustrations and, like “GUY. OTHER GUY.” written underneath.  But he writes, in rhyme, and the poems are funny and interesting and perfectly complement the wacky illustrations.

Yeah, Julie, could you get to this book, please? Ok: So Pirateria is a book about a store for pirates, who need to load up on pirate gear. Why has no one written a book about a pirate store before? I don’t know. I’m glad Calef Brown is the one that did it. This book rocks.

You can listen to the episode here.

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New review on Brain Burps: Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs

January 10, 2013

Today on Brain Burps I review Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs. This is one of those books that I grabbed without reading it first, because Ramona insists that a certain percentage of our library haul is made up of dog books. We were all completely charmed by this story, and every photo is cuter than the last. The story is such a powerful (and sweet) one, about second chances, patience, and perseverance.

You want to see Luciano Anastasini and his circus dogs? We did too! Here’s a video of their act.

I also have to say that books like Stay and stories like the one in today’s New York Times about the woman in North Carolina who has hundreds of cats do nothing for my repressed desire to have three dogs, nine cats, a goat and some chickens.

Katie interviews Eric VanRaepenbusch today (of the Happy Birthday Author blog) about how he used social media to drive tons of traffic to the site for his Three Ghost Friends books.

You can see more about this episode here, or go subscribe in iTunes.

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New Review: Nighttime Ninja

December 12, 2012

This book! It’s like a thriller! For kids! Perfect, perfect tension (and a lot of it). Zuzu’s eyes get impossibly large every time we read this. There should be more picture books that are this frightening, with such satisfying conclusions, I tell you! Lots more!

I review it today on Brain Burps.

Also today on Brain Burps: Katie interviews two authors, Jim Averbeck and Dashka Slater. It’s a good thing I sometimes let reviews write themselves for a few days in my head, since I was mentally working on reviews of both of the new books by these two (Averbeck’s Oh No, Little Dragon! and Slater’s delicious Dangerously Ever After). They are great books and I’m really looking forward to hearing this interview (and I’m glad I didn’t take the time to write and record redundant reviews).

You can find out more about the podcast here, and you can listen directly by clicking here.

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CATEGORIES: books

New review: hello! hello!

November 14, 2012

Oh, boy, is this book amazing. You may remember my intense love for Matthew Cordell’s Another Brother. I was so excited to read Cordell’s new book, hello! hello!

This book…oh, this book. I’m kind of speechless about how awesome it is (well, not THAT speechless, since my review today on Brain Burps is one of my longest ones ever). It’s a beautiful book, visually, but it’s also timely and, frankly, very very important. It’s a book about lifting your head up from all those electronic devices and really seeing the world again. Remember trees? Remember people? Real people, in front of you? Remember your kids? Hello!

I will also say that I recorded this review at 8:00 pm on election night, as an effort to get myself to stop maniacally refreshing twelve different web pages of election results. So if there’s a slightly crazed, hysterical edge to my voice in this review, that’s why. Another little funny thing for you to listen for is that I inexplicably didn’t start gesturing until halfway through, and you can hear me start talking a lot more animatedly. Yes, I even talk with my hands when I’m all alone recording reviews for you to hear.

Check out the review on the latest Brain Burps podcast, which is an interview with the amazing Tony DiTerlizzi, who is an incredible illustrator, and co-author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, which are my favorite kidlit chapter books set in Maine.

One last (important!) thing. If you buy hello! hello! by November 30, 2012, Matthew Cordell will send you ALL KINDS OF STUFF. He’s so cool. Check out his blog post here about all the cool art and things he’ll personally send you if you have a receipt that proves you bought the book!

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