Alphabet Anatomy: Meet the Lower Case Letters by Linda Jones

LOWERCASE
Alphabet Anatomy: Meet the Lower Case Letters by Linda Jones
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Childrens, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Learn the alphabet and letter knowledge in a simple, effortless, and FUN way!
A short humorous rhyme for each lower case letter playfully introduces the lower case letters and fundamental components as the letters come to life based on their unique shapes.

The ABC song is an old classic, but there’s always room for more than one technique to teach the alphabet.

Some of the rhymes were quite clever. The most memorable one for me involved the letter “R” as well as my favorite animal. It made me smile. Giving the letters faces was a smart idea, and I enjoyed discovering what each one of them was up to according to their stanzas. This is a cute concept. It’s something I’ll keep in mind for my youngest nieces and nephews.

Once again the introduction that was intended for children was too long for the age group for which it intended. It was written in the form of a rhyme. While I enjoyed reading it, most of the preschoolers I’ve known would have some trouble paying attention like this due to its length and the lack of pictures. This section would have worked better for an older audience even though the subject matter is a good choice for the 3+ age group.

The illustrations in this storybook were wonderfully detailed. The colors in them were vibrant and complementary. There is something special waiting for readers on each page. Telling you exactly what it is would ruin the surprise, but I grinned when I finally noticed it. It was well done. At first I couldn’t believe that I’d ever overlooked it.

I’d recommend Alphabet Anatomy: Meet the Lower Case Letters to anyone who is teaching the alphabet to a young child.

Alphabet Anatomy: Meet the Capital Letters by Linda Jones

ALPHABET
Alphabet Anatomy: Meet the Capital Letters by Linda Jones
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Childrens, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Alphabet Anatomy’s innovative rhyming verses and unique illustrations instruct on letter sound, recognition, AND how to write the letter, thus its anatomy. Thoroughly entertaining, each letter’s heartwarming personality and characteristics will engage and delight children as they discover what the letters do behind the scenes when they’re not busy making words. The letters know that the journey to reading is inherently complex, and mastery of these essential skills is absolutely vital for future success. In Alphabet Anatomy, the letters love to share their lives, and their highest aspiration is that each child who meets them will embrace this wondrous journey, and develop a life-long love for not only reading but writing as well. Alphabet Anatomy teaches full understanding of the alphabet, that is, the four inter-connected components: 1. Letter shape knowledge or recognition; 2. Letter name knowledge; 3. Letter sound knowledge; 4. Letter writing ability. In addition, Alphabet Anatomy utilizes the four core elements which extensive research has proven effectively teach reading and provide a solid and effective foundation for proficient reading in later years: 1. Phonological awareness; 2. Letter identification; 3. Vocabulary development; 4. Recall and retell sentences and stories.

It’s easier to remember something when you turn remembering it into a story. The zanier the details, the better!

One of the biggest reasons why I like tales written for this age group so much is that they almost always rhyme. There is something extra special about reading this sort of thing aloud and hearing the echo of certain syllables from one stanza to the next. Occasionally the humor in the rhymes surprised me due how nicely they fit in with the illustrations. Some of them were quite creative and not at all what I was expecting to see associated with those particular letters.

The children’s introduction was a bit too lengthy for the age group for which it was intended. It was well-written, but I don’t know many toddlers or preschoolers whose attention span is long enough to sit through so many instructions about what they’re about to experience. The information in it could have easily been included in the introduction for adults instead.

Speaking of the illustrations, they were well done. Their clean, simple lines worked well with the subject matter. The use of bright, primary colors was a good choice. My eyes were especially drawn to the letters that relied heavy on the use of blue and yellow to show where they were located or what they were doing. They kept my attention long after I’d read the stanzas on those pages.

Alphabet Anatomy: Meet the Capital Letters was a fun read. I’d recommend it to anyone who is in the market for a storybook on this topic.

The Monster on Top of the Bed by Alan H. Jordan

BED
The Monster on Top of the Bed by Alan H. Jordan
Publisher: Jordan Press
Genre: Childrens, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (36 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Both Karrit and Suzy want to go to bed without being afraid, but when the lights go off at bedtime, the world is a scary place.

Then, Karrit visits Suzy . . . to make friends with “the monster” that had been scaring him.

Suzy is scared, but treats him the way that she would like to be treated. They both use Suzy’s grandmother’s mantra:
You’re welcome to stay, until I say “nay” Then, you’ve got to go, and You can’t say no.

There are no scary Halloween monsters in The Monster on Top of th Bed, and it doesn’t have destructive aspects like a monster truck jam. It won’t make your kid stay up at night like monster energy drinks. In fact, The Monster on Top of The Bed quells night fears, and makes it easy for children to fall asleep, unafraid. Karrit, the monster below the bed, doesn’t look like it, but he’s a substitute for a bedtime bear.

It’s hard to go to sleep when you hear funny noises coming from underneath the bed.

I’m a big fan of puns, alliterations, and other forms of wordplay, so this story was right up my alley. By far my favourite section involved what Suzy says to Karrit just after they meet for the first time. The rhyming schemes were all so much fun that I actually ended up going back and rereading the whole thing. It worked just as well the second time around.

This picture book switches among a few different fonts as the plot progresses. Most of them were easy to read and worked well with the illustrations, but I did have occasional trouble figuring out where one word ended and the next one began with the most flowery of the fonts. It was visually interesting, but a simpler style would have worked better for reading everything aloud.

The discussion questions at the end are well worth checking out. One of them pointed out a detail in the plot that I’d overlooked, and another one made me flip back a few pages to see if my response to it was correct. It was also amusing to think about potential answers to the questions that were open-ended. I’d imagine that the response to them could change every time, which would make rereading this tale even more rewarding for families that revisit it often.

The Monster on Top of the Bed made me smile. This is a good choice for anyone in the market for something fun to read at bedtime.

The Toothless Tooth Fairy by Shanelle Hicks

TOOTH
The Toothless Tooth Fairy by Shanelle Hicks
Publisher: Mirror Publishing
Genre: Childrens, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (28 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Bella had it all. The hair, the dress, and the smile. One day, her most important asset was missing…her tooth! Will Bella find the perfect tooth in time for the contest? Will Zelda, the meanest of the fairies, destroy Bella’s chances of winning the crown? Take a journey onto Cloud Nine as Bella searches for a new tooth only to discover the tooth…I mean truth…behind her true beauty.

What does it mean to be pretty? Bella thought she knew the answer to this question, but now that she doesn’t have the same smile she isn’t quite so sure.

What I liked the most about Bella is how she’s described early on in her adventures. Yes, her physical features are mentioned, but so is her kindness. It’s easy to overlook such a small detail, especially while reading something so entertaining. This reader appreciated it, though, and knowing that the main character is a good role model made me want to share Bella’s adventures with my niece!

The age recommendation for this story was a little tricky. Most kids don’t begin to lose their teeth until early elementary school, but the illustrations do seem to be geared toward readers a few years younger than that. I suspect that the subject matter will be more appealing to older children, although there is nothing here that is inappropriate for preschoolers or sensitive readers.

With that being said, the illustrations are beautiful. They complement the storyline quite well. I was especially amused by the picture of Bella after she lost her tooth. It was very cute. There were actually a few times when I stopped reading to get a better look at the other faeries as well. Every one of them was beautiful, and I loved the fact that so many different ethnic groups were represented in this tale.

I’d recommend The Toothless Tooth Fairy to anyone in the market for something new and fun to read at bedtime.

Ten Busy Brownies by Talia Haven

TEN
Ten Busy Brownies by Talia Haven
Publisher: Keith Publications
Genre: Childrens, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Count the Brownies from one to ten as they go about their night time chores.

Cleaning time begins after the children go to bed. If only there was someone to help tidy up all of the messes they make!

I enjoyed the rhyming scheme in the poem that explained what each brownie was doing. I wouldn’t mind reading it over and over again to my preschool-aged relatives, and this isn’t something that’s easy to accomplish for a children’s books.I don’t know if the author intends to write a sequel to Ten Busy Brownies, but this is a good start to one if she’s interested in doing so.

Some of the brownies are drawn with facial expressions that may be a little frightening to preschoolers who aren’t familiar with this particular mythical creature. Their body language is positive and all of the brownies are performing acts of kindness, though, so explaining what they are ahead of time to anyone who needs it should be enough to counteract this.

The illustrations in this picture book are absolutely beautiful. My favorite one shows up early on and includes a brownie who looks like he isn’t much older than the target age group for this tale. He also has a calm, happy expression on his face. If I were going to explain what brownies are to an unsure little friend, I’d use this scene as an example. Each illustration features soft, subdued colors that are well-suited to the subject matter.

Ten Busy Brownies is a warm, sweet story that I’d recommend to anyone looking for something new to read to the youngsters in their life.

The Ghastly Dandies Do the Classics by Ben Gibson

DANDIES
The Ghastly Dandies Do the Classics by Ben Gibson
Publisher: Razorbill
Genre: Preschool, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, picture book
Length: Short Story (64 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rated: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Poppy

They’re dapper. They’re monstrous. They’re erudite. They’re the Ghastly Dandies, a breed of beast that happen to be as well-versed in classics as they are well-dressed in knickers and neckties!

These ghastlies are guaranteed to delight readers of all ages with their clever renditions of Moby Dick, Hamlet, The Odyssey, Pride and Prejudice, Sherlock Holmes, and more.

These classic, illustrated tales told by monsters are sure to make your own little “ghastly” giggle. It’s the kind of book you’ll want to read to your kids, read again with your friends, and show off on your coffee table when you’re done.

Don’t miss the first compendium of adult classics ever to be told by monsters!

For a humorous and very brief introduction to the classics like Moby Dick, Hamlet and The Great Gatsby, you could do worse than choosing The Ghastly Dandies Do the Classics.

The author tackles seven different classics in only a few pages, and I think that’s the only fault I found with this book. I wish he’d done fewer books in order to spend just a bit more time with each. I’m familiar with all the stories he features, and he just barely touches on the themes behind them. I realize preschoolers don’t have long attention spans, but I do believe the author’s talent with words and humor would have made things work.

There are some large words that parents will need to explain (even just in the blurb … erudite isn’t something you see in many preschool books), but I like that the author challenges the kids.

Things that made me laugh? When one of the dandies takes a bite out of Moby Dick and exclaims, “EW! Gross! Slimy whale blubber!” and then goes on to suggest they head home because rhubarb pie tastes better than revenge.

Some of the stories worked for me, like “Moby Dick”, but others were so briefly touched upon that they made little sense (“Hamlet” and “Pride and Prejudice” were two of the weakest).

Still, I completely enjoyed the pictures and the fun. I think preschoolers will take everything at face value and will, at least, know there are books with those names. It’s a decent intro and hopefully will intrigue enough that these new readers will seek out the actual stories when they’re older.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

CRAYONS
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Publisher: Philomel
Genre: Preschool, Fantasy, Picture book
Length: Short Story (40 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rated: 5 Stars
Review by Poppy

Crayons have feelings, too, in this funny back-to-school story illustrated by the creator of Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me

Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.

What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?

Thoroughly enjoyable, this clever book about a crayon revolt was just a plain fun read. Even my teenager laughed all the way through.

When poor Duncan decides to color and opens his box of crayons, he finds letters instead. The crayons are tired of being mistreated.

The letters are well constructed and the pictures are just perfect. My heart broke a little for poor beige (he’s so defeated in his picture … tired of being called “light brown” or “dark tan”) … I couldn’t get him out of my head even after I finished, I felt just awful for him.

And peach! I laughed at him hiding in the box, naked because he’d been used so much his paper was peeled off.

Yellow and orange argue about who is the right color for the sun … and so much more.

If you’re looking for a just perfect book to teach words and colors to your preschooler, I highly recommend it. It’s amusing for parents as well as kids and just so well done.