Monday, September 14, 2020

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.

Friday, May 1, 2020

2020 TOP 50 - ready, set, buy!

Did any of your favorite books make the lists?  How many have you already read?  Which ones will you add to your collection?

I had so much fun presenting my choices for my favorite books that KTB's reviewers and I read from March 2019 to February 2020.

Here is the link to the lists that I presented.  I will add cute graphics in a longer post later.  But please feel free to print and share these lists far and wide.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

How to Win the Science Fair When You’re Dead by Paul Noth - OPTIONAL

How to Win the Science Fair When You’re Dead (#3) by Paul Noth. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 184 pages, 2019, $14.

Content G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Happy Conklin Jr. is back in his third adventure.  As the book opens, Hap is being held prisoner by his evil Grandma, who has plans to take over the universe and destroy Earth, and also has a terrible punishment planned for him.  Hap knows he has to escape and thwart Grandma’s plan and save his sisters with the help of aliens and Squeep, his pet lizard who communicates through a brain-blending ring. 

If this sounds like a lot going on, it is.  Also, since this is the third in a series, read them in order or you will be totally lost.  The plot was fun, but difficult to follow.  The title didn’t even really fit the book, since the science fair is only in the last few-pages and Hap shows up abruptly whilst the science fair wasn’t mentioned previously in the book.   The pictures are cool and help explain the story, though I still think it’s weird Hap has a beard.  The title and cover will draw readers in, but the ride is convoluted.

Michelle in the Middle

Snakes on the Job by Kathryn Dennis - HIGH


Snakes on the Job by Kathryn Dennis.  PICTURE BOOK  Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2020.  $18.  9781250214003  

BUYING ADVISORY: PRE-K – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL:  HIGH  

Adorable little snakes have a construction job that they are working on.  They ride big trucks and shovel and work together.  The equipment makes hissing and engine noises and the snakes making happy and hissing noises when the playground project is complete.  

The bright bold snakes with their adorable yellow hard hats make this book hard to resist.  If you have a reader who enjoys trucks, then they will enjoy watching the snakes work on their project.  This also makes for a fun read aloud because the snakes and truck brakes make a “hissing” noise.  I do think this book would work better as a board book, but these large-eyed adorable snakes will entertain young readers.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson   

Hilo: All the Pieces Fit by Judd Winick - ADVISABLE


Hilo: All the Pieces Fit (Hilo, #6) by Judd Winick, 210 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL Random House, 2020.  $14.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG    

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL, MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE   

Hilo and Izzy are robots with feelings.  Razorwar is the “bad guy” who comes to life on earth and Izzy is on Razorwar’s team as they fight Hilo.  Izzy creates a chip that can make a robot human and she gives Razorwar the chip.  When Razorwar puts the chip into Hilo, Hilo explodes and becomes human.  There is a lot more action involving tin-can robots and what happens to Hilo as a human.  

I think people who like the Hilo series will definitely want to read this because it has an important turn in the story.  The twist about Razorwar in the story was good.  The pictures well done and help tell the story.  I like this whole series.  

Reviewer, Logan, 5th grade  

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Who Named Their Pony Macaroni? Poems about White House Pets by Marilyn Singer -

Who Named Their Pony Macaroni? Poems about White House Pets by Marilyn Singer, illustrations by Ryan McAmis, PICTURE BOOK Disney Hyperion, 2019. $18. 9781484789995 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

From George Washington to current time, most of our presidents have had pets of one kind or another. Some belonged to their wives or children, some were gifts from other countries or leaders, and some have made their own history -- like president Lincoln's turkey which was pardoned and not eaten on Thanksgiving, or George Bush Sr.'s dog Millie.

An informative collection of poems - I learned a lot about Presidential Pets. Marilyn Singer's verses are whimsical and clever. Ryan McAmis' mixed media illustrations are great, it was fun to take a closer look at them. Includes 10 pages of text at the end with blurbs about each presidential pet - and a little about each president - pet owner or not!. I was grateful for it, and after only a few poems read the blurb 1st and the poem 2nd. Much better - context is everything!

Lisa Librarian

Cornelia and the Jungle Machine by Nora Brech - ADVISABLE

Cornelia and the Jungle Machine by Nora Brech PICTURE BOOK Gecko Press 2019 $18 9781776572595 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Cornelia has just moved into a very old house on the edge of a forest. She's bored and lonely so her parents tell her to take a walk - in the forest she finds an amazing tree house built by Fredrik, a boy inventor. He has a bunch of cool things, but best of all is his Jungle Machine, that turns their world into a real jungle, complete with vines to swing on and amazing animals. 

Brech's brilliant illustrations are the best part - told mostly through the pictures (with a bit of dialogue thrown in to help advance the story) it's a world easy to get lost in. How fun it would be to have all this right outside your door. I wonder what other inventions Frederik might have?

Lisa Librarian


Ruby Red Shoes : A Very Aware Hare by Kate Knapp - OPTIONAL

Ruby Red Shoes : A Very Aware Hare by Kate Knapp 48 pages. PICTURE BOOK Doubleday, (Penguin Random House), 2018. $10. 9780593123461

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Ruby Red Shoes is a hare who lives with her grandmother in a very colorful caravan, she cares for animals, loves the fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs in the garden and all the cozy things about her world.

Kate Knapp's illustrations are so cute! Every page is visually enchanting, Ruby is so sweet and the whimsical illustrations are fun. The story falls short, with just an explanation of all the stuff she does, perhaps some conflict?

Lisa Librarian

When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed - ESSENTIAL

When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed 268 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Random House, 2020 $13

Content: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Omar is a Somalian refugee living in a camp in Kenya with his non-verbal brother Hassan. His father is dead and his mother is missing. Omar has been in Dadaab for 7 years but has never been to school, he's smart, but he cares for his brother every day, so leaving him for the hours of school are difficult. When the opportunity to go to school, learn English and have a chance at a better life comes along, Omar has some tough decisions to make. The camp community is his family now, they've been refugees for over 7 years, and while always hoping to find their mom, it's time to make some plans incase their name shows up on the UN list for possible relocation. 

What an inspirational, heartbreaking story! Omar's memoir is well told, and Jamieson's skills as storyteller and illustrator really come through. Engaging and poignant, this is an important book that will build empathy with my students who aren't refugees and really hit home with my students who are. The graphic novel format is perfect as well - so accessible! 

Lisa Librarian

In the Garden by Emma Giuliani - ADVISABLE

In the Garden by Emma Giuliani, PICTURE BOOK Princeton Architectural Press, 2020. $28. 9781616898939

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Plum and her brother Robin are working in and learning about the garden. There is so much to do! Things to do before spring begins, and in each season all the way until it's time for winter again. Open the door to the garden shed, learn about garden pests, how to aerate the soil, pollination, seeds and blossoms, look inside a bean pod, learn how to make cuttings to transplant, and when to harvest the vegetables. 

Beautifully illustrated, this lift-the-flap, oversized book is worthy of living room coffee table status. The flaps are well secured, but not easy for little hands to manage unassisted. Designed for the older child rather than a toddler, I think this would make a wonderful primer for a family just starting their first garden, or wishing they had one. At 16" tall, it will really stand out on your shelves.

Lisa Librarian

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Pixie Pushes On by Tamara Bundy - ESSENTIAL

Pixie Pushes On by Tamara Bundy, 227 pages. Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), 2020. $17            

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS  - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Pixie is sent to live with her grandparents on a farm and she is not very happy about it. She feels that she is bad luck for everyone, and blames herself for her sister getting polio. She has to learn to do chores on the farm and collecting eggs is the worst - one of the chickens always attacks her. New hope springs up in her heart when her grandpa brings home a baby lamb that he wants Pixie to take care of. He warns her that the lamb is a farm animal, not a pet. She names the lamb Buster, and as he grows he follows her everywhere.          

A delightful story set in the 1940's during World War II. Pixie has spunk, and she is very brave, but she is makes rash judgments. I loved how Pixie matured during the book and how she was able to deal with all her inner struggles. She even makes some unexpected friends. I kept cheering for Pixie during the whole book. Such a good read!

Ellen-Anita, Librarian

Folktales for Fearless Girls by Myriam Sayalero - ADVISABLE

Folktales for Fearless Girls: The Stories We were Never Told by Myriam Sayalero, 212 pages, Philomel Books (Penguin Random House), 2018, $25.

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Sayalero has collected folktales from around the world and all feature stories where the girls and women save the day.  Stories include outwitting a devil, shaping your own destiny own, fighting for a country and outsmarting danger, demonstrating  that girls and women are clever, brave, and strong.  These stories come from China, Russian, Persia, India, Armenia, the UK, Spain, France, Southern Africa, Egypt, and Germany. 

I quite enjoyed this book.  The chapters each have a beautiful title page and there are illustrations scattered throughout.  The stories are short and interesting and cover a wide variety of cultures.  This is a great introduction to diverse cultures as well as showcasing women. 

Michelle in the Middle

We Could Be Heroes by Margaret Finnegan - OPTIONAL

We Could Be Heroes by Margaret Finnegan, 240 pages. Atheneum (Simon), 2020. $18

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Because he deals with autism, Hank, 9yo, knows that most people don’t understand him.  It doesn’t help when he steals and sets on fire the novel about the Holocaust  that his teacher is currently reading to his class. But Maisie, a girl in his class is suddenly interested in Hank and seems to be his friend.  Maisie wants Hank’s help to care for a dog owned by her elderly neighbor – a dog Maisie believes is being abused. Hank is not so sure, but goes along with Maisie – even lying to his parents for the first time. But is Maisie really Hank’s friend.  That’s an important question for Hank to decide.

I was really angry at Maisie and how much she manipulates Hank. And a bit angry at some of the parents around for insisting that the dog belonged to the neighbor and that he could do what he wants. The cahracters are very yound and I’m just not sure that students that age will be drawn to this.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Double Foul by Craig Battle - OPTIONAL

Double Foul (Camp Average #2) by Craig Battle, 272 pages. OwlKids, 2020. $17

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Mack and his friends are back at Camp Average (Camp Avalon) for another summer, and things are much better.  There are even girls at Camp this year. Unlike last year, this year the baseball team loses to Camp Killington.  Since Winston was promoted to be the camp director based on the win from last year, he is desperate for a win of any kind.  Mack has been spending his time swimming and playing, but in order to win, Winston needs Mack on that basketball team. Threats to the happiness of all the other campers will do it.  Mack will play along, but he has plans – because there is no way he can let Winston win.

I love a great sports book – a combination of well-written play and human interest is a great draw. This is not that kind of sports book.  It is instead a story of machinations and hijinks – children battling adults (nothing wrong with that per se). Just not satisfying when it is all about manipulation.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Monday, March 30, 2020

When You Know What I Know by Sonja K. Solter - ESSENTIAL

When You Know What I Know by Sonja K. Solter, 204 pages. Little, Brown and Company, 2020. $17.

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G;

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

When 1yo Tori tells her mom that Uncle Andy molested her, her mom doesn’t believe her at first. It had to be a misunderstanding. Was it? Tori is filled with shame, anger, and confusion. Her whole life has changed in a few minutes. Her every thought is consumed with the “what ifs”, until finally everyone starts believing her.

Solter writes Tori’s story in poem format; I think it was the perfect way to capture the thoughts of a child who has experienced this type of trauma. I read this from the perspective of someone who has family members who’ve experienced abuse and I would feel comfortable with any of them reading this. It does not focus on the abuse so much as it focuses on the feelings and healing from the trauma.

Reviewer: J. Rosskopf

The Girl Who Fell Out of the Sky by Victoria Forester - OPTIONAL

The Girl Who Fell Out of the Sky (Girl Who Flew #3) by Victoria Forester, 328 pages. Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2020. $17.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

When giant beetles erupt from under the earth, Piper is bit and loses her power to fly. Now that she is no longer super, she feels at loose ends.  The others are off trying to figure out this new danger, while Piper is told to stay home and be safe.  But Piper has bigger plans.  And if her friends with powers won’t help, then she will just have to recruit normals – even if it means bringing in two of the Miller brothers – her nosy, hostile neighbors. With a little help from her AnnA, one of the Chosen Ones, they just might have a chance.

At first I had a hard time Piper whine about her changed status. But once the Millers became involved, it became much more exciting. Max, the villain, is as frustrating as ever.  In fact, I can’t believe this is the conclusion of the series, because Max is still out there working to wreak havoc. I only rate it lower because the beginning drags a bit and the series is not as accessible as other fantasy series.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Stuart Gibbs - ESSENTIAL

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks (funjungle #6) by Stuart Gibbs, 321 pages. Simon & Schuster, 2020. $18.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (some mild danger)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

As if solving mysteries involving live animals isn’t dangerous enough, Teddy’s latest mystery involves a missing dinosaur skull.  The skull was unearthed on the ranch of his friend Sage, but during a violent rainstorm one night the skull disappeared. As a favor to his friend, Teddy gets involved. Not only that, but the Barksdale brothers contact Teddy for help with their (illegal) anaconda has eaten their mother’s cat. Now Teddy has to also track investigate a exotic retile smuggling ring. With his trademark aplomb, Teddy and his extended circle will again need to show local law enforcement  - and the crooks - to take them seriously.

I think the climactic scene in this book is my favorite of any Stuart Gibbs book – and Gibbs is a master at hijinks!  Gibbs fans will have a field day with this.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Bubble and Bee: Don’t Worry, Bee Happy by Ross Burach - ESSENTIAL

Bubble and Bee: Don’t Worry, Bee Happy by Ross Burach. PICTURE BOOK/GRAPHIC NOVEL. Acorn (Scholastic), 2019. $24. 9781338504941

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Three friends, a frog and two bees, are depicted in this graphic novel in three seperate vignettes. Each story has a funny element to it and the frog is usually part of the punchline because of his grumpy attitude. In the first story the bees are trying to take a picture with the frog and end up flying upside down so it looks like the frogs frown in a smile. 

This is an excellent book for brand new readers. It has simple words, but the graphic novel is very engaging with the potential to sustain a young reader’s attention. The humor is accessible without being overly reductive.    

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Carlton Crumple Creature Catcher: Book One by David Fremont - OPTIONAL

Carlton Crumple Creature Catcher: Book One by David Fremont, 1228 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Pixel and Ink Books, 2020. $13

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Carlton is a young kid who believes everything and falls prey to his brother who torments him by dressing as monsters. Instead of running, like he usually does, Carlton decides to train to be able to fight these monsters. This training comes in handy when the munchies are woken up from the bottom of the ocean after someone throws food into the water. 

This story is silly at best. It is hard to identify with the characters - they are all goofy and flat. The pacing of the story is abrupt with some minor parts lasting several pages and other major plot points taking a single page.  

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Ani’s Light by Tanu Shree Singh - ADVISABLE

Ani’s Light by Tanu Shree Singh, illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat. PICTURE BOOK. Magination Press (American Psychological Association), 2019. $15. 9781433832772

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

While the world is bright and cheery, a dark cloud hangs over Ani. He moves around sad and unconsolable until his mom returns. When she returns she doesn’t have any hair but Ani is simply glad to have his mom home.

The illustrations in this book are bright and energetic. I imagine this would be such a good experience for a child who is experiencing sickness in their own house - to see a world that keeps moving about when everything feels like it should be stopped in mourning. I did struggle with the name of the main character, not knowing quite how to pronounce it. 

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Tinker Active: English 2nd Grade - OPTIONAL

Tinker Active: English 2nd Grade. WORKBOOK. Odd Dot (Macmillan), $13. 9781250318671

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

I’m not sure what need there is for workbooks in the school library situation, but this one has a lot of good variety. It covers a wide range of language arts skills, from the smallest structure to the biggest. It starts with word formation and ends with essay writing. 

There are a lot of great colors and stickers in the book. The part that lost me was that after every section there is a tinker activity that requires a lot of supplies and preparation. I didn’t have anything on hand to complete any of the activities, making the simplicity of a workbook, that is so appealing, moot.  

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

It’s a Great Big Colorful World by Tom Schamp - OPTIONAL

It’s a Great Big Colorful World by Tom Schamp. PICTURE BOOK. Prestel (Random House), 2020. $20. 9783791374246

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The large format book was originally published in Dutch and takes the reader on a tour of colors, starting with gray. There are four pages dedicated to each color and there are some clues that suggest the two spreads move from one part of the world to another. 

I love the color energy of this book but I had a hard time reading it. Some of the labels are a larger size from the others, making it confusing as to whether those continue a storyline. I also had a hard time seeing the continent divides in the pages even though many of the labels suggest that movement is happening.    

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex - ADVISABLE

Facts vs. Opinions vs. Robots by Michael Rex. PICTURE BOOK. Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin Random House), 2020. $18. 9781984816269

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

With a lot of very explicit teaching and questions directed at the reader, the narrator explains the difference between fact and opinion. Using robots for examples, the narrator shows examples of facts and opinions and then asks the reader to try to figure it out. 

If a reader doesn’t already know this information, this would be a great introduction to the subject, otherwise it is a little boring. I didn’t love that the answers to the questions the narrator poses are on the same page, so you can’t really test the young reader’s comprehension.   

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

In a Jar by Deborah Marcero - ESSENTIAL

In a Jar by Deborah Marcero. PICTURE BOOK. G.P Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Random House), 2020. $18. 9780525514596

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Collecting jars of treasures from his time in nature was Llewellyn’s favorite activity and when he bumps into Evelyn on a peer during his collecting, they gather the golden sunset reflected in the water into jars together. When Evelyn moves away they send jars to each other full of sounds and sights from their corner of the world. 

This is a beautiful book with a gentle charm. The illustrated rabbits are cute, but the charm is in the things they collect: the wonders of winter and the newness of spring. Amidst the beauty is also the message about the possibility of connection even when we are far from the people we love. A timely message, given the times. 

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Dot Unplugged by Randi Zuckerberg - ADVISABLE

Dot Unplugged by Randi Zuckerberg. PICTURE BOOK. Candlewick Entertainment, 2020. $17. 9781536209839

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Scratch, the family dog, wants to play with someone but everyone is busy with their electronics. When the power goes out, the family bans together and plays an old family game that involves charades and other clue giving elements. 

I really liked the mid century modern style of the book and it has an appropriate message about fun existing out of electronics that can sometimes disconnect us. I thought the very specific game it took to have fun was a little narrow and even cheesy.  

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

A Picture Book of Alexander Hamilton by David A. Adler - OPTIONAL

A Picture Book of Alexander Hamilton by David A. Adler, illustrated by Matt Collins. PICTURE BOOK/NONFICTION. Holiday House, 2019. $18. 9780823439614

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

A lot happened in Alexander Hamilton’s relatively short life and this book covers most of the important moments, spending the most time on his early life. Each spread has a detailed illustration that illuminates some of the details of his life discussed in the reading.

With the Broadway musical, a lot of students are interested in the history of Hamilton and this provides some details that will help them understand the play. The storytelling is a little dry with a formal tone that is very matter of fact. This may appeal to some, but will leave others bored.   

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Friday, March 27, 2020

Malo and the Merry-Go-Round by Maria Dek - ADVISABLE

Malo and the Merry-Go-Round by Maria Dek. PICTURE BOOK. Princeton Architectural Press, 2020. $18. 9781616898755

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Two animal best friends are supposed to make pickles together but one of them, Malo, decides to play instead of helping and heads off into the forest to find a merry-go-round. Along the way he refuses to help several animals who need him and when he does reach the playground, he realizes he isn’t very happy. 

The aesthetic of the book is very scandinavian and the matte style is gorgeous. The message about helping others and keeping commitments in order to feel a sense of happiness and satisfaction is a great lesson. I do think the story fell flat in many ways and was hard to fully engage with.  

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

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...