Spring Board Book Round Up

A new crop of board books has popped up filled with spring warmth and wishes:

The Little Gardener by Jan Gerardi

Part of the Teenie Greenies series, this board book focuses on what it means to be a gardener and the responsibilities that come with it.

Told in rhymes, the book has sturdy flaps that little fingers will find irresistible.  Adding to the feel of an environmentally friendly read, the reverse side of each flap is in a raw cardboard.

Filled with color, flaps and plenty to look at and learn about, this is a vibrant board book that is sure to get the littlest ones out in the dirt.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House.


Little Bunny by Lisa McCue

From the Fuzzytails series, this book has a classic appeal with illustrations that hearken back to the Golden Book days.

Fuzzytail Bunny is headed somewhere.  Is he going to the forest?  The playground?  To the pond?  The meadow?  No.  He’s headed back home, to sleep piled up with his brothers and sisters in a snuggly heap.

This book has a jaunty rhythm that ends with a snuggle.  Just right to share with a busy toddler.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House.


Duck & Goose: Here Comes the Easter Bunny! by Tad Hills

Just what we needed to add to our Easter collections: a Duck & Goose Easter book!  Duck and Goose decide that they will hide so that they can see the Easter Bunny hide the eggs.  They try different spots, but the pond is too cold, the tree is too high, and the mud heap is too, well, muddy.  They finally decide on disguises, but are so tired from all the running around that they fall asleep and miss the Easter Bunny.  But not to worry, Easter has come after all.

Filled with Easter eggs and plenty of springtime fun, this book will be a hit with Duck & Goose fans and may bring new ones to the series.

Reviewed from copy received from Schwartz & Wade.

Princess Baby by Karen Katz

A board book version of the picture book first released in 2008, this is another successful reworking of a Karen Katz book.

Here, a little girl is tired of not being called by her real name.  Her parents use cute nicknames for her like Cupcake, Pumpkin, and Buttercup.  But she insists that they should call her by her real name.  She then dresses in a crown, sparkly shoes, a cape, and her parents then realize that the name she prefers is “Princess Baby” and she must be treated like royalty too.

A clever book about names and playing pretend.

Reviewed from copy received from Random House.

Review: The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George

difference between you and me

The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George

Released March 15, 2012.

Jesse wears fishing boots every day.  She cuts her hair short and rough with a Swiss Army knife.  She spends her time writing manifestos for her National Organization to Liberate All Weirdos and then papering the high school with them.  Emily is one of the popular girls and vice president of the student council.  She wears her hair in a ponytail, likes sweaters with buttons, and has a boyfriend.  So what in the world could Jesse and Emily have in common?  Just that they like to make out in the bathroom of the library once a week.  Jesse yearns to have a more open relationship with Emily, but Emily is very comfortable in the closet and in denial.   When Jesse gets in trouble at school, she meets Esther, a girl who is also a weirdo and has a lot in common with Jesse.  The two of them start working against a corporation trying to come into their community and school.  Unfortunately, Emily is helping that corporation sponsor the school dance.  Both girls have to decide what is most important to them: principles or love.

George has written a courageous book here.  The characters are deeply felt, beautifully rendered and gorgeously human.  Jesse is a strong lesbian character who also makes mistakes and is caught in a situation where she has to keep someone else’s secret.  The tension that creates tests her relationship with her parents, her best friend, and herself.  Emily is a study in contradictions that she speaks aloud, lives and breathes.  She is a complicated character, awash in a mix of confidence in public and self-doubt in private.  Esther is a surprising character, added after the reader thinks the book is going to focus on two girls only.  She and Jesse have much in common, including mothers who had breast cancer.  That piece of information notches neatly into the two girls’ characters, offering further depth.

Intriguingly, George has chosen to write Emily and Esther’s sections of the book in first person.  Jesse is seen in third person, something that is distancing.  I found the switch from one tense to another disconcerting at times, and wished that I could have known Jesse from inside as well as the other girls.

The world that George has created is populated with unique characters, adults and teens alike.  It is a celebration of people who are different, living lives that are complicated, filled with emotion, and grounded in principles.  I saw people I knew, people like myself, and people I wanted to meet and befriend. 

Perhaps what I loved most about this book is its sensibilities.  The characters are who they are, struggling with issues larger than themselves, but not deterred at all.  It is a book that encourages teens to take action, change their communities, and speak up for what they believe in.  Appropriate for ages 15-18.

Reviewed from ARC received from Viking Books.

Change in Reviewing Policy


Image from sleepyneko.

After thinking long and hard about my policy of not reviewing self-published books, and looking closely at the changing landscape of publishing and authors, I have decided that I am going to start reviewing self-published titles.

As always, I will review only the books that I enjoy reading.  Frankly, I don’t have time to review all of the books I love, so I don’t have time to spend on books I don’t enjoy.  I know there are people who insist that negative reviewing is an important part of blogging, but after doing this for so many years I know how I prefer to blog and what energy I prefer to put out into the world.

For those who want to contact me about reviewing a book, you can email me at tsaecker@gmail.com.

Happy reading!