Saturday, September 14, 2019

Welcome to Kiss the Book Jr.!

Welcome! Kiss the Book Jr. is for board books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books.  Also, any novels and non-fiction that we agree are specifically Pre-K - 6 related.

Go to the original blog at  Kiss the Book for your middle school and high school review needs.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Birdie by Eileen Spinelli - ESSENTIAL

Birdie by Eileen Spinelli, 197 pages. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2019. $16. 9780802855138.

Content: Language: G (0 "swears); Mature content: G; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Birdie Briggs is 12 years old and life is starting to change on her again. She and her mom moved to Hadley Park to live with her grandma Maymee after her dad passed away, but even things in her new home aren't stable. Maymee is starting to fall in love, her mom might be dating a local police officer, and two of her best friends seem to be pursuing a relationship that does not include Birdie. Its all frustrating and confusing, but Birdie might just learn that change can work for the best, too.

This is a great little coming-of-age novel written in free-verse not so much for the beauty of free verse but for the ability to write in short choppy chunks. That's a criticism but it also works for this book. I really enjoyed Birdie's journey--it felt very realistic--and it was only after I finished that I looked back and noticed the YA tropes we all love--single parent, a cat, etc. Its not a perfect or earth-shattering novel, but it was really nice and I'd definitely recommend it.

Reviewer: TC

The Invisible Garden by Valerie Picard - ESSENTIAL

The Invisible Garden by Valerie Picard, illustrated by Marianne Ferrer. PICTURE BOOK. Orca Book Publishers, 2019. $20. 9781459822115

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

In a style of sparse text, this is the story of a girl who visits her grandma in the country for a birthday party. When she gets bored of the party she goes out to the garden and gets lost in a world of her imagination.

This book is perfectly delightful. It has smaller than normal dimensions but is hefty in pages. The illustrations are fun to look at and the story will hopefully encourage readers to find their own adventures in the backyard.


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Through the Elephant’s Door by Helene De Blois - ESSENTIAL

Through the Elephant’s Door by Helene De Blois, illustrated by France Cormier. PICTURE BOOK/CHAPTER BOOK. Orca Book Publishers, 2019. $20. 9781459821934

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

An elephant and a boy visit a museum only to be followed by and lectured at by the museum guard. The guard accuses them of getting too close to paintings and not being gentle until they are able to stop a burglar and save the day.

There is this great line in the book in which the elephant says that he tired of making himself small. I love this message for kids. They are often given the message that they are “too much”. This book is translated from French.


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

The Little Green Girl by Lisa Anchin - ADVISABLE

The Little Green Girl by Lisa Anchin. PICTURE BOOK. Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Random House LLC), 2019. $18. 9780735230736

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

When a seed blows into a garden, the gardener, an older man, helps the seed to grow and it turns into a healthy plant (in the shape of a girl). The garden is lovely, but the plant wants to see the world and thus transplants herself into a pot and her gardener takes her on a travel adventure.

This book wrestles with the tension between the comfort of staying home and maintaining a routine and the need for adventure and novelty. I found the plant child a little odd and hard to relate to, but the art is lovely, if not a little static.  


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Fast Enough: Bessie Stringfield’s First Ride by Joel Christian Gill - ADVISABLE

Fast Enough: Bessie Stringfield’s First Ride by Joel Christian Gill. PICTURE BOOK. The Lion Forge, LLC, 2019. $18. 9781549303142

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Bessie isn’t sure at the beginning of this story if girls can ride bikes like the boys. Her mother tells her to ask “the man upstairs” and that night she dreams she is riding over oceans and skyscrapers. The next day she races the boys and keeps up and thus begins her life of speed.

This is a good book to spark interest in learning more about Bessie Stringfield, but it doesn’t in and of itself provide a lot of details. The details that are provided feel a bit like a tall tale, which is explained in the end as they author explains that there are many inconsistencies in the stories about Bessie.


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander - ADVISABLE


The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander, 191 pages.  Imprint (Macmillan), 2019. $17.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Lenora is so bored!  But when she steps into the library and through a mysterious arch,  she is swept up into a wonderful world -- not just of work, because she has accepted a job as a 4th assistant apprentice librarian, but of intrigue and of questions - and even a little bit of danger.  Each task she fulfills brings her new knowledge, new friends, and new danger. A mysterious group is trying to block everyone’s access to knowledge and part of Lenora’s job is to thwart them. It may be a tall order for a young girl, but Knowledge is also Light, which brings power.

This would be really fun to read aloud to a 2nd or 3rd grade class. I learned a lot through my reading and I can’t wait to see more of Lenora’s adventures!

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS


The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon by Matthew Burgess - NO


The Unbudgeable Curmudgeon by Matthew Burgess, illustrated by Fiona Woodcock.  PICTURE BOOK. Knopf (Random), 2019. $18. 9780399556623

BUYING ADVISORY: NO

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

If confronted by a curmudgeon, what can you do?

I don’t like this book, because it puts all of the burden on soothing the cranky person on someone else.  The only way this crank changes is when the other person gets hurt by their thoughtless actions. And then the hurt person is now the curmudgeon and must be soothed by someone else.  None of that is either friendship or good parenting. This one is a MISS.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Sign Off by Stephen Savage - ESSENTIAL


Sign Off by Stephen Savage.  WORDLESS PICTURE BOOK. Beach Lane (Simon), 2019.  $18. 9781534412101

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K, EL (K-3) - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

What do the characters on highway signs do when we’re not watching? It turns out they lead very rich, adventurous  lives!

Charming, entertaining, and so imaginative! I can’t be more effusive about how much I love this! And you will love it too.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS


Rescuing Rialto by Lynda V. Mapes - ESSENTIAL

Rescuing Rialto: A Baby Sea Otter’s Story by Lynda V. Mapes, photographs by Alan Berner.  PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION. Roaring Brook (Macmillan), 2019. $19. 9781250147646

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

In 2016, people found a lost sea otter pup along the coast in Washington state.  His rescuer took him to the Seattle Aquarium, where he was named Rialto, and the caretakers raised him until he found a permanent home at the Vancouver, Canada aquarium.

What great timing -- for elementary students you can pair this with Pup 681 by Jean Reidy, using some of Rialto’s story to supplement the shorter Pup681.  All grades need the information in this book about keystone species and how Washington state ruined their coast, almost permanently, when they hunted the last local sea otter in 1911!

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS



Tuesday, May 21, 2019

The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol - ADVISABLE


The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol.  PICTURE BOOK. Roaring Brook (Macmillan), 2019.  $18 9781626724426

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K, EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The Little Guys of the forest are out to prove that they can get anything they want, even though they are little, because they are also Many.  Their greedy natures get the best of them, however, and they have to learn about sharing.

I love, love, love the look of the Little Guys, but I wasn’t utterly charmed by their story -- good, but not great.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Welcome to Kiss the Book Jr.!

Welcome! Kiss the Book Jr. is for board books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books.  Also, any novels and non-fiction that we ag...