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The Case of the Stinky Stench
Author: Josh Funk
Illustrator: Brendan Kearney
Published May 2nd, 2017 by Sterling Kids

Summary: “Uncle,” Crossaint said, “the fridge is in trouble!
A mystery stench turned a whole shelf to rubble!
I’m the last hope or the fridge will be lost!
Help me or else we’ll be cooked, served, and sauced.”

There’s a stinky stench in the fridge—and our favorite foodie friends must solve a smelly mystery! Sir French Toast’s nephew, Inspector Croissant, begs him and Lady Pancake for help in finding the source of the foul odor. Could it be the devious Baron Von Waffle? A fetid fish lurking in the bottom of Corn Chowder Lake? Featuring the same delectable wordplay and delicious art that won critical raves for Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast—there’s even an actual red herring—his fun follow-up is an absolutely tasty treat for kids!

About the Author: Josh Funk is from MA where he spends his days writing computer language and his free time writing picture book rhymes. His first published picture book was Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast (Sterling) and he is the author of Pirasaurs (Scholastic), Dear Dragon (Viking), and the upcoming Albie Newton (Sterling, 2018).

About the Illustrator: Brendan Kearney is an illustrator from the UK. While studying architecture at university, he realized he didn’t like rulers. He then discovered that it wasn’t essential to use a ruler when illustrating children’s books. Now he specializes in illustrating children’s books, bringing his own chaotic style and ideas to any project. He is also the illustrator of the first Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast and Bertie Wings It (both Sterling).

Kellee’s Review: I love that Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast are friends again and working together with Inspector Croissant to solve the mystery of the stinky stench. Their story promotes prediction, friendship, and problem solving in a fun refrigerator adventure! In a way that only Josh Funk can, he rhymes his way through the story without even one rhythm hiccup. The story, filled with humor, throwbacks to the first book, and a sweet ending, is just as funny as the first one with jokes for kids and adults alike (watch for the Red Herring and Spuddy Holly). 

Ricki’s Review: If you follow this blog, you know that we absolutely love Josh Funk’s work. His books are smart, cleverly crafted, and engaging. They have a special quality to them in that they appeal to both adults and kids. My son is allowed to pick his bedtime books, and my inner voice squeals whenever he picks one of Josh’s books because I know that the story will be fun to read aloud. We got this book a week ago, and we’ve read it over a dozen times (by my son’s choice!). Who doesn’t love a book about a stinky stench?! There is so much to talk about, and so many great foods and vocabulary words to discuss. The words dance across the pages—and this makes for a beautiful read-aloud. I am always wary of sequels and companion books, but Josh nailed it. This is a great adventure that can work well with the first book and also stand alone. Teachers, if you don’t have this book or Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, I recommend them highly for your classrooms. Parents, this one is a no-brainer. I will cross my fingers that a third Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast book is in the works!

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Because of Josh Funk’s amazing ability to have perfect rhyming throughout the book, The Case of the Stinky Stench and the first Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast book are perfect at looking at rhyming and rhythm. Students can find all the rhyming words and discuss how they know the words rhyme and think of other words that rhyme with the words they found. Also, while reading, to discuss rhythm, students can clap along with the words to hear the rhythm that Josh Funk has created. Alternatively, students might design their own Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast pages to display around the classroom.

Activity Kit:

Can also be found on Sterling Publishing’s Stinky Stench website: https://www.sterlingpublishing.com/9781454919605

Book Trailer: 

Read This If You Loved: Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast by Josh Funk, The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat, Max the Brave by Ed Vere, Giraffes Ruin Everything by Heidi Schulz

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**Thank you to Sterling Kids for providing a copy for review!!**

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Cowboy Car
Author: Jeanie Franz Ransom
Illustrator: Ovi Nedelcu
Anticipated Published: April 11, 2017 by Two Lions

Goodreads Summary: A little car with a big dream…

Ever since Little Car was knee-high to his daddy’s hubcaps, he’s wanted to be a cowboy. Cowboys get to drive the range, wear big hats, and sleep under the stars. Everyone tells Little Car that cars can’t be cowboys, but he can’t stop dreaming of rounding up lil’ dogies by day and talking around the campfire at night. So Little Car packs his trunk and heads Out West. Vroom! Can he prove he has what it takes to be a true cowboy? Join Little Car as he zooms into the hearts of kids everywhere.

Ricki’s Review: A car that dreams of being a cowboy! This was a fun story to read with my boys. The illustrations are quite charming, and Little Car made me smile. He refuses to give up, despite the obstacles he faces. My three-year-old asked a lot of great questions while we were reading the book, and we were able to talk about the car’s perseverance. I particularly liked all of the puns in the book. While the puns were completely over my sons’ heads, it made the reading even more enjoyable for me. This book has a theme that we constantly try to relay to our students—not to give up despite what the world throws at you. It would be a great addition to any classroom.

Kellee’s Review: What a cute story about following your dreams even when everyone doubts you! This is a message that is so important to share with kids because throughout their life there are going to be those who doubt them; however, I want Trent to know that as long as he works hard, wants something enough, has a good plan, is realistic about speed bumps ahead, and goes for it, he can live his dream. This is a theme that is found in picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, and young adult novels because kids need to be reminded of this. Life shouldn’t be about what others expect of you but what YOU expect for you. Little Car embodies this message by doing something that everyone doubted he could do and he did it his own way. I know this story will be one that teachers and parents will want to share with their kids (and their kids will love it because who doesn’t love cars and cowboys!).

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask students to connect the theme of this story to real-life individuals today or in history. They might consider other people who have faced struggles and who have persevered. It would be neat to have each student learn about a different person of their choosing. This would add variety and remind students that they should not give up in the face of adversity.

Discussion Questions: What challenges does Little Car face? How does he overcome them?; What do Little Car’s parents think? How does he respond?; What other people (current or historical) have faced struggles? How did they overcome these struggles?

Flagged Passage: “‘Cars can’t be cowboys,’ everyone told Little Car.”

Read This If You Love: Race Car Dreams by Sharon Chriscoe; Race Car Count by Rebecca Kai Dotlich; Busy Trucks on the Go by Eric Ode and Kent Culotta; Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by by Sherri Duskey Rinker; The Racecar Alphabet by Brian Floca; Alphabeep: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora Pearson; The Three Little Rigs by David Gordon; Ten Little School Cars by School Specialty Publishing

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**Thank you to Al at Amazon for providing copies for review!**

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Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm
Author: Jonathan London; Illustrator: Andrew Joyner
Published: March 1, 2017 by Two Lions

GoodReads Summary: Get ready for a rainy-day adventure with Duck and Hippo!

Duck and Hippo may be completely different, but they are best friends. When playful Duck invites careful Hippo to go for a walk in the rain, they have trouble sharing Duck’s umbrella. But Duck and Hippo won’t let that stop them. Soon they are puddle-jumping and sailing down the river! Until…WHOOOSH! A terrible wind sends the umbrella flying up, up, up into the air, with one friend holding on. What will Duck and Hippo do now? Jonathan London’s charming text and Andrew Joyner’s delightful art bring to life two lovable friends in this fun new series.

Our Review: We are huge fans of the Elephant and Piggie series and Frog and Toad series. They are staples in our households, so when we read these books, we were truly delighted! Duck and Hippo show readers that opposites attract—and they make for a wonderfully fun adventure. Ricki read this book with her three-year-old, and he was giggling hysterically at the drawings. It’s a winner.

The charming story will capture readers from beginning to end, and the language is written in a way that will be very helpful for beginning readers. It takes a lot of skill for an author to write text that is humorous and engaging yet also helpful for beginning readers to master language. London does this perfectly.We will be hanging on to these books tightly as we wait for our sons to be a bit older to learn to read. We recommend you get your hands on this book because it will surely be a popular series in classrooms.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: We love the concept of opposites attracting. Students might begin by considering other examples of characters in literature who have been paired together. They might form small groups and design their own story of two very opposite characters who might attract. We’d love to be in a classroom on a day that students were sharing these stories!

There’s more fun with Duck and Hippo in the free downloadable activity sheets: https://www.andrewjoyner.com.au/activities/

Discussion Questions: How are Duck and Hippo different? How are they similar? How does that make for a great adventure?; Why do you think the author chose to have Duck and Hippo in a rainstorm? Why does this make for a fun read?

Flagged Passage: 

Read This If You Loved: Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems; The Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel; Pug Meets Pig by Sue Lowell Gallion

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Giveaway!
Two Lions is offering a copy of Duck and Hippo to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses).
About the Author and Illustrator:
Jonathan London is the author of more than one hundred children’s books, including the bestselling Froggy series, illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz. Many of his books explore nature, among them Flamingo Sunset, illustrated by Kristina Rodanas, and Little Penguin: The Emperor of Antarctica, illustrated by Julie Olson. He is currently writing a middle-grade series, which started with Desolation Canyon, illustrated by his son Sean London. Jonathan lives in Graton, California. Learn more online at www.jonathan-london.net.
 
Andrew Joyner is an illustrator, author, and cartoonist based in South Australia. He has illustrated a number of picture books, and he wrote and illustrated a chapter book series about a warthog named Boris. He has also illustrated for newspapers and magazines, including the Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, and Rolling Stone magazine, among others. Learn more online at www.andrewjoyner.com.au.

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip for providing copies for review!**

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Mr. Fuzzbuster Knows He’s the Favorite
Author: Stacy McAnulty; Illustrator: Edward Hemingway
Published: February 7, 2017 by Two Lions

GoodReads Summary: Mr. Fuzzbuster knew he was Lily’s favorite. They did everything together. Naps. Story time. Walks. And more naps. But now four more animals lived in the house.…

To prove he’s still Lily’s favorite, Mr. Fuzzbuster will have to ask her, but will her answer surprise him? This funny, heartwarming story is for every child who has ever wondered if there’s a favorite in the house.

Ricki’s Review: This was a very fun book to read aloud to my son. It reminded me of my childhood—my siblings and I often fought over who was the favorite child. The dramatic hooks at the end of each page make for a silly, giggly read aloud. Mr. Fuzzbuster has a hysterical personality that kids will surely adore. I have a feeling that this book will get funnier and funnier after each read aloud! The illustrations and humor will have readers begging for more Mr. Fuzzbuster.

Kellee’s Review: Unlike Ricki, my siblings and I didn’t have to fight about who was the favorite–I knew I was! 😉 [We’ll see if they read this review!] So I may be a bit like Mr. Fuzzbuster who is just loves his owner, Lily, so much that he cannot imagine his life without her. Kids will definitely relate to Mr. Fuzzbuster, and the book will also be a great chance to talk about how sometimes there are no favorites–a lesson that is taught in such a fun way that the reader won’t even realize they are being taught something! And the cartoonish, humorous illustrations just add to the fun of this book. Hemingway has such a distinct style of illustrations that are just so eye-catching and exciting to read. 

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask students to make predictions at the end of each page. Because of the dramatic hooks, it would make predictions very enjoyable. I tried doing this with my three-year-old and while he is a bit young, we think we might be able to use this book for predictions in the near future! He slowly caught on!

Did you know Mr. Fuzzbuster loves writing notes? He wants to send cards to young readers across the country.  Maybe he will be your favorite. More information can be found at http://www.stacymcanulty.com/fuzzbuster-email.

Discussion Questions: Who is Lily’s favorite?; Why does the book end the way that it does?; Why do we feel a strong desire to be the favorite? How may this be harmful?

Flagged Passage: “Mr. Fuzzbuster knew he was Lily’s favorite. They’d been together since he fit in a teacup and she fit in diapers.”

Read This If You Loved: Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall, Barkus by Patricia MacLachlanMemoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian,  One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo, They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel, Ballet Cat by Bob Shea, Cat the Cat by Mo Willems

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Giveaway!
Two Lions is offering a copy of MR. FUZZBUSTER KNOWS HE’S THE FAVORITE to one lucky winner (U.S. addresses).
About the Author and Illustrator:
STACY MCANULTY is certain she’s her mom’s favorite. Her younger brother disagrees. She’s the author of Beautiful, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff; Excellent Ed, illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach; and 101 Reasons Why I’m Not Taking a Bath, illustrated by Joy Ang. Originally from upstate New York, she now lives in Kernersville, North Carolina, with her three children, two dogs, and one husband. She doesn’t have a favorite. You can find her online at www.stacymcanulty.com.
 
EDWARD HEMINGWAY is certain he’s Stacy McAnulty’s favorite illustrator, although the illustrators of Stacy’s other books may disagree. Edward himself is the author and illustrator of the children’s books Bump in the Night, Bad Apple: A Tale of Friendship, Bad Apple’s Perfect Day, and Field Guide to the Grumpasaurus. Originally from Bozeman, Montana, he now lives in Brooklyn where he teaches creative writing at the master’s level at SVA in Manhattan. If he has any favorite students, he’ll never tell. Learn more about him online at www.edwardhemingway.com.

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip for providing a copy for review!**

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honest truth

The Honest Truth
Author: Dan Gemeinhart
Published: January 27, 2015 by Scholastic Press

Summary: In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He’s got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.

But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.

So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier–even if it’s the last thing he ever does.

The Honest Truth is a rare and extraordinary novel about big questions, small moments, and the incredible journey of the human spirit.

Ricki’s Review: In the introduction of the ARC, Dan Gemeinhart writes that this story was inspired by his friend Mark, who passed away from cancer. While the book is not about Mark, there are “smooth rocks of truth” within it. He wrote the story in hopes that Mark would enjoy reading it. With this in mind, I began the book already emotionally invested. Mark is a 12-year-old boy who has recently relapsed with cancer. He is tired of being sick, and he has set out with his dog and plans to go to Mt. Rainier to die. Much of the book is Mark’s journey to Rainier, and we slowly learn about his experiences with cancer throughout the story. Every other chapter is written by his best friend Jesse, and I found their friendship to be inspiring, particularly given the author’s introduction. This is a beautiful story that will leave a mark on readers’ hearts. I will be recommending it often.

Kellee’s Review: The Honest Truth was my first choice for my school’s faculty book club because I had only hear amazing things about it. I jumped into reading it without knowing anything about it, but by the end of the first page, I knew that all my friends who recommended it to me were right. Mark has a voice that is so full of hurt and sorrow that it jumps off the page and into your heart. The obstacles he faces and overcomes while also making his way to die alone show the strength of his character. I also was a big fan of the two points of view because it allows the reader to see what was going on at home and maybe get some more truth than what Mark was telling us (though he swears it all is the honest truth).

For our book club meeting, I tabbed up my book with passages I loved (I’ll list all the pages below), haikus that Mark wrote, and descriptions of all of the photographs he took along the way.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This would make a fantastic read-aloud. It has so much to discuss! The richly realized themes would make for fantastic conversations in the classroom. I would love to hear students’ thoughts about the story, particularly in relation to the discussion questions below. There are many debatable points in the story—which makes it all the more interesting to use as a read aloud!

Additionally, The Honest Truth would be a good introduction to haiku and visual story telling since Mark writes haiku and takes photographs to help tell his story. The haiku (in chronological order) are found on pages 120, 8, 22, 78, 79, 130. The photos Mark took are explained on pages 226-227. Using these as mentor texts, students can create their own story using poetry and photography.

More discussion ideas can be found at http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/honest-truth-discussion-guide.

Discussion Questions: Was Mark selfish to leave home? Do you think he should have told his parents? Do you think what he did was fair? Were his actions fair to his dog?; If you were Jesse, would you have told authorities? Was she wrong to keep a secret? Do you think Mark had the ability to make such a big decision?; How did Gemeinhart use personification to help make the setting a character (see pages 34, 124, and 196)?; How much pressure do sick children have to act like adults?; How was Mark’s journey selfish? How was is selfless?; Who called? Wesley or Jess?; Why didn’t the mom ever look at her credit card report to see the train ticket?; Were you angry at Mark? Scared? How do you think students will feel?; Is a 12-year-old old enough to decide you want to die? Is it reasonable for adults to expect a kid to keep on going through treatment after treatment?

Flagged Passage: “Dogs die. But dogs live, too. Right up until they die, they live. They live brave, beautiful lives. They protect their families. And love us. And make our lives a little brighter. And they don’t waste time being afraid of tomorrow.”

Kellee’s favorite passages can be found on page 5 (“Here’s…”), 19 (“I bit…”), 21 (“I closed…”), 46 (“I was…”), 70 (“She knew…), 82 (“I like…), 97 (“Here’s…”), 179 (“They would…”), 212 (“And then…”), 228 (“There’s more…)

Read This Book If You Loved: “To Build a Fire” by Jack London; Hatchet by Gary Paulsen; The Call of the Wild by Jack London; Wonder by R.J. Palacio, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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sophie quire

Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard
A Peter Nimble Adventure
Author: Jonathan Auxier
Published April 5th, 2016 by Abrams Books

Summary: It’s been two years since Peter Nimble and Sir Tode rescued the kingdom of HazelPort. In that time, they have traveled far and wide in search of adventure. Now Peter and Sir Tode have been summoned by Professor Cake for a new mission: find a 12-year-old girl named Sophie Quire.

Sophie knows little beyond the four walls of her father’s bookshop, where she works as a bookmender and dreams of leaving the confines of her city walls. But when a strange boy and his talking cat/horse companion show up searching for a rare and mysterious book, she finds herself pulled into an adventure beyond anything she has ever read.

Teaching Guide: 

Sophie Quire is a special young lady, and you and your students are going to adore her adventure! Here is a teaching guide to help guide you or your students through your reading. This guide can be used as a tool for classrooms or book clubs.

You can also access the guide here.

You can learn more about Sophie at ABRAMS’ website.

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race car dreams

Race Car Dreams
Author: Sharon Chriscoe
Illustrator: Dave Mottram
Anticipated Published: September 13, 2016 by Running Press Kids

Goodreads Summary: After a day at the track of zipping and zooming, a race car is tired and ready for bed. He washes his rims, fills his tummy with oil, and chooses a book that is all about speed. All toasty and warm, he drifts off to sleep, he shifts into gear . . . and dreams of the race!

Ricki’s Review: I know I won’t be the only parent to say that my child cannot get enough cars. He eats, sleeps, and breathes cars, so I jumped at the chance to review this book. And boy, I wasn’t disappointed. The characterization within the text is engaging and fun, and I loved all of the integration of car parts/ideas in the race car’s preparation for bedtime. The race car comes to life, and I am grateful to have this book to read before bedtime. It engages my son while making him a sleepy boy! This charming book is going to be a story that parents read again and again.

Kellee’s Review: Any fan of Pixar cars or race cars in general is going to love the race car’s story. The personification of the car is adorable, I specifically like how his emotions can be read by looking at his eyes, and I love that the race car reads before bed! I would love to have students write their own stories of bedtime for vehicles (or other inanimate object) to see how school buses or tow trucks get ready for bed. In my life though, it is a bedtime story that my son loves to read.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: It would be really fun to compare and contrast this book to some of the texts listed below in the “Read This If You Love” section. As avid readers of vehicle books, we know that each book has a different angle, and these are nuances that kids recognize and appreciate. It would be interesting to capitalize on these comparisons and differences to talk about how authors craft stories creatively and uniquely.

Discussion Questions: What does the race car do to prepare for bed? How does this compare to your bedtime routine?; How does the author make the race car come alive with personification?; How does the author craft the story in ways that make you sleepy?

Flagged Passage: “The zooming has stopped. The sun’s almost set. / A race car is tired. He’s wringing with sweat. / His day has been filled with high octane fun. He’s hugged all the curves. He’s had a good run.”

Read This If You Love: Race Car Count by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by by Sherri Duskey Rinker; The Racecar Alphabet by Brian Floca, Alphabeep: A Zipping, Zooming ABC by Debora PearsonThe Three Little Rigs by David Gordon, Ten Little School Cars by School Specialty Publishing

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9/6 My Word Playground

9/7 MomReadIt

9/8 Unleashing Readers

9/9 Once Upon a Time…

9/10 Stacking Books

9/11 Geo Librarian

9/12 Flowering Minds

9/13 Unpacking the POWER of Picture Books

9/14 Little Crooked Cottage

9/14 MamaBelly

9/15 #kidlit Book of the Day

9/16 Just Kidding

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**Thank you to Cassie for providing copies for review!**