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!




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.



New review: Grumpy Goat by Brett Helquist

July 10, 2013

First of all, I love grumpy picture book characters. Right off I am likely to love  your book if your main character is annoyed, grumpy, naughty, or a little mean. But this goat, with his indiscriminate kicking, harumphing and antisocial behavior really worked his way into my heart. Love him. And love this story, and of course the illustrations.

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



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.


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.


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.



New Review on Brain Burps: Dear Flyary

October 17, 2012

You know how sometimes you just kind of randomly grab books at the library, and don’t really screen them until you get home? Sometimes I do that and get weirdos that I quietly hide back in the library bag. And sometimes I get books like Dear Flyary, which are so cute and silly and surprising (and sometimes I use the word “sometimes” too much). This book is the diary (or, well, “flyary”) of an adorable alien named Frazzle, and it takes a moment or two to get your head around Frazzle’s galactic vocabulary, but author Dianne Young does such a brilliant job of writing it just on the edge of comprehension. Ok, that doesn’t sound like a compliment, but what I mean is, she uses alien words, like “noteymaker” for an instrument, that are foreign enough to sound strange, but close enough to be understandable, so the whole reading does seem like you’re reading another language, but it’s a language that you somehow are able to speak. Listen to my review — I read a few sections, and you can get the idea of what I mean!

Plus, look at how cute Frazzle is with his one giant eyeball!

You can see information about this episode here, or you can get it right in iTunes here. Enjoy!


New review: Cecil the Pet Glacier

September 19, 2012

Cecil the Pet Glacier by Matthea Harvey, illustrated by Giselle PotterDo you really need me to sell you on a book called Cecil the Pet Glacier? Plus, look at that cover — Giselle Potter’s illustrations are lush and rich, somehow simple and complex all at once. I originally picked this book up because Giselle Potter is the illustrator; her The Year I Didn’t Go to School was honestly some of the inspiration in our year of homeschooling (not that we went to Italy and became puppeteers, which is what happens in that book).

This week Katie talks all about Pinterest (ok, that was a link to my Pinterest boards, you can check out Katie on Pinterest here). She’s doing a free (free!) webinar all about Pinterest tomorrow (September 20) at noon. Listen to the podcast to hear more, and you can check out the info on the webinar here and  sign up for the webinar here.

There’s also a Julie Hedlund gratitude segment, as well as my review. Did you see how I was the featured author on Julie H’s site yesterday? Thank you so much to everyone who commented, and especially to those of you (including Julie H) who said that my reviews make you want to run out and buy the books. That’s a huge compliment, and it was a colossal ego boost. Thank you, everybody!

You can see more about the podcast episode here, or listen in iTunes here. Thanks!


Review on Brain Burps: And Then It’s Spring

August 27, 2012

And Then It's SpringOh boy, this is a good book. Which you’ll figure out after hearing my near-rapturous review. This book manages to pull together sweet-sad poetry and humor in just a few words, and the words are perfectly matched with Erin Stead’s illustrations.

What I didn’t mention in my review is that the first few times we read this, each reading took (or, well, seemed to take) about six hours, because on every page, Ramona would scream, “DOG! TURTLE!” So it went sort of like this: “First you have — DOG! TURTLE! — brown, all around — DOG! TURTLE! — you have — DOG! TURTLE! — brown…” But these are the dangers of reading anything to a 2-year-old, and I have to say that “And Then It’s Spring” held up beautifully despite repeated interruptions.

You can check out more info on the podcast episode here, or go straight to iTunes here.

And yes, the podcast episode happened almost a week ago, but we had lovely guests, and then I hurt myself, so things are a little behind schedule here at World of Julie, sorry.



New review: A Strange Place to Call Home

August 15, 2012

New review today! Check out the Brain Burps About Books podcast to hear all about how the first time I read A Strange Place to Call Home by Marilyn Singer and Ed Young, I had no idea what to do with it. And then how I looked at how much Henry was loving it, just copied what he was doing, and realized how incredibly awesome this book is.

It profiles fourteen animals who live in harsh or odd conditions, and tells us about them through poems and torn-paper collages. It’s truly amazing, and is especially loved by my animal-loving, poetry-loving almost-9-year-old.

Today’s podcast is an interview with Jerry Craft, all about African-American culture in comic books. Check out the details here, or head right on over to iTunes to listen.


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