Monday, May 22, 2017

Dog Book

Dog Book. Lorenzo Clerici. 2017. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I'll call my dog: _____________. Zzz Zzz. Look at your dog sleeping...and listen to him snoring! Hey, sleepyhead, it's time to get up! Do you want to help wake him? Call out his name and then turn the page.

Premise/plot: The Dog Book is an interactive picture book for parents to share with their children one-on-one. (Earlier I reviewed The Cat Book.) The premise is simple: children interact with the book by naming the dog, waking him up, petting and tickling and scratching him, giving him commands like 'sit' and 'fetch,' etc.

My thoughts: When I received review copies of The Cat Book and The Dog Book, I thought I knew which one would be my favorite. But I was wrong. I really do love cats a bit more than dogs. But there are a lot more interactions possible with this fictional dog. And none of them involve squishing fleas or preventing him from eating a bird! The illustrations seem more playful and lively as well.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Squirrel in the House

Squirrel in the House. Vivian Vande Velde. Illustrated by Steve Bjorkman. 2016. Holiday House. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The dog who lives next door to the yard where I live tells me that people call dogs "man's best friend." Well, actually, the dog doesn't so much tell me this as he yells it. Usually while he's chasing me.

Premise/plot: Squirrel in the House is narrated by a squirrel, Twitch. He would never normally think about going INSIDE but on one cold wintry day, he does just that. He goes down the chimney and into the house of Cuddles' master's house. The dog is, I believe, the first to notice--perhaps the second. Also taking note of the squirrel is a young child. But it isn't just any day, the master has a LOT of people--family presumably--over to celebrate for some reason. (The squirrel doesn't quite grasp humans.) When the dog is locked up in the basement, and the young child punished for destroying the living room, I believe, the child runs away. The squirrel notices that the boy is dressed for the inside but in the outside and worries. He follows the child, and, when the boy collapses, it's up to the squirrel to alert the family and save the day. But who will listen to a squirrel?!

My thoughts: This is a fun and quick read. Twitch is an entertaining narrator. He loves the human party--especially the pre-shelled nuts. He develops a taste for potato chips and cupcakes too. What kind of tree do they come from, he wonders!

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Mama Cat Has Three Kittens

Mama Cat Has Three Kittens. Denise Fleming. 1998. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mama Cat has three kittens, Fluffy, Skinny, and Boris. When Mama Cat washes her paws, Fluffy and Skinny wash their paws. Boris naps. When Mama Cat walks the stone wall, Fluffy and Skinny walk the stone wall. Boris naps.

Premise/plot: Mama Cat has three kittens. Fluffy and Skinny copy their mother; they excel at their kitty education--their kitten academy. Boris, well, he's BORIS. He excels in one subject: NAPPING. Perhaps with a minor in STEALING THE SHOW.

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. I like all the cats, but, Boris has the last say! I would definitely recommend this one for parents to share with their little ones. I think cat lovers of all ages can appreciate it.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Friday, May 19, 2017

My Pet Human Takes Center Stage

My Pet Human Takes Center Stage. Yasmine Surovec. 2017. Roaring Brook Press. 112 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: My name is Oliver. This is my pet human, Freckles. I have her well-trained. She feeds me treats. She rubs my belly. But today she's going to a new place of training. It's her first day of school.

Premise/plot: Oliver goes to school to be with Freckles. The school is pet-loving, so no big problem. In fact, there's a school club, Fur-ever Friends Club, that Freckles joins. The club is big on fund-raisers, and, this book is ALL about fund-raising. Freckles and her mom take in a foster-kitten during this time, and, Oliver is out of sorts about the attention being on another cat. Freckles idea is to TRAIN both of her cats for an act in the fund-raising show. Oliver has mixed-ideas about it. He doesn't want Freckles to be humiliated, and, he doesn't want the new kitten to do all the tricks and leave him looking stupid, and, he does like Freckles and want to please her....but is a cat trainable?

My thoughts: More happens in this second book, which, I think is a good thing. Oliver continues to be an entertaining cat. I like this series, but, I'm not sure I love it.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Pet Human

My Pet Human. Yasmine Surovec. 2015. 112 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I'm a lucky cat. I live a carefree life.

Premise/plot: This (early) chapter book is narrated by a cat. At first, this cat is convinced that he does not need a pet human; that having a pet human would be a bad idea, that having one would ruin his happy-go-lucky, carefree life. But when a little girl and her mom move into 'the old abandoned house,' he gives it a go. Not planning to stay, of course not! Just seeing if he has found a food-source. But the food is good. The belly rubs are even better. Soon she starts calling him OLIVER and he responds to it as his own. His name for her? Freckles.

My thoughts: I liked this one. It's a notebook novel. I've not read many of those. But I liked this one just fine. It is all from Oliver's point of view. I wouldn't say it's a must-read for cat-loving adults, but, it's a pleasant and "safe" read for children who love animals.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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