A review of Digby O'Day in the fast lane by Shirley Hughes

In addition to our usual picture books, this year I’ve been introducing my son to chapter books at bedtime. I like the greater complexity of the longer storylines and it’s great practice remembering what has already happened in the story and connecting it with what’s being read now and, perhaps most challenging: practicing the difficult skill of stopping reading and putting in a bookmark (or “chaptermark” as he calls them) at the end of an especially exciting chapter. (I still struggle with more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
December 12, 2014 | 0 comments
A review of Chews Your Destiny by Rhode Montijo

Gabby loves to chew gum all day and all night and her mother warns her that someday she may turn into gum, but she never thought it would really happen. In book one, we find out how Gabby Gomez learns to control her newfound sticky, stretchy superpowers and watch as she puts those powers to good use. My family loves this book, from the (extremely rare) Latina superhero to the bubblegum-cheerful artwork to the perfect balance of text vs. more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
August 8, 2014 | 0 comments
A review of It's a Tiger by David LaRochelle

“Are you ready for a story? Me too.” Thus begins this hilarious romp through the jungle (and caves and oceans and islands) as we try to run from a tiger that keeps showing up in the least likely places. Each time we think we’re safe, a more careful look at our surroundings reveals... a tiger! Is he chasing us down in order to devour us? Or does this resourceful feline have other motivations? The bright colors and bold black outlines of the illustrations highlight the sense of cartoonish humor more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
June 27, 2014 | 0 comments
A review of Violet Mackerel's Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford

If you grew up loving the Ramona Quimby books and are looking for something similar (but with more illustrations and less words), allow me to introduce you to Miss Violet Mackerel. There are four books currently published about her adventures, and each one is charming and heart-warming, but not sickly-sweet or unrealistic. Violet sometimes learns hard lessons about how the world works, but she does so within the gentle care of her family life. Violet herself has a strong character, but she is more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
April 25, 2014 | 0 comments
Always Be a Unicorn
A review of Always Be a Unicorn by Helen Austin

If the Ditty Bops ever start looking for a third band member, Helen Austin would be perfect for the job. Like their music, hers is twinkly-smooth and happy, even the slow songs. Her lyrics are delightfully whimsical (the title song quips, “Always be yourself/but if you can be a unicorn/always be a unicorn”) and the tunes are so catchy you’ll easily begin to sing along, even on the first or second time hearing the album. And yet, despite their apparent simplicity, the songs stay fresh even after more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
March 7, 2014 | 1 comment
A review of Mrs Noodlekugel by Daniel Pinkwater

If you stand on the dresser in Maxine’s new high-rise bedroom and look out of the very corner of the window, you might see a tiny little cottage, tucked in behind all the skyscrapers in the neighborhood. That is the home of Mrs. Noodlekugel and her talking, baking cat, Mr. Fuzzface. Nick and Maxine aren’t sure how to get to the backyard of the skyscraper to meet Mrs. Noodlekugel, but with the help of the Mike the janitor (who likes to eat stewed tomatoes out of the can), they find their way to more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
December 13, 2013 | 0 comments
Home of Song
A review of Home of Song by Paul Spring

Not many kids albums boast lyrics about the “Dow Jones and NASDAQ” (especially in a song about a rickety old car), but Home of Song manages to do so in the most charming way. This is one of those rare albums that is filled with songs that each have their own unique sound which still manage to work together to create a well-blended mix. The melodies and harmonies will make you want to bounce and sing along and the lyrics will keep you coming back for repeat listenings. Even the most more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
September 6, 2013 | 0 comments
A Little Love
A review of A Little Love by Renee + Jeremy

The children’s music duo known as Renee + Jeremy have  a history of creating the most mellow kids’ albums that aren’t specifically lullaby music, but work well to calm a raging three year old. Their newest, A Little Love doesn’t break that pattern. What is a bit different about this recording is that every song is a cover of a piece originally recorded by a different artist—from bands as diverse as Simon & Garfunkel, REM and the Monkees all the way to Coldplay and the Red Hot more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
July 5, 2013 | 0 comments
A review of Who Could That Be at This Hour by Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket’s snark + the clipped speech of hard-boiled detective novels = the tone of the first installment in a new Snicket series called, All the Wrong Questions. It tells the story of Lemony’s own education as a private eye as he tries to get the scoop about an odd statue called the Bombinating Beast, which may or may not be valuable and which may or may not have been stolen from his client. Of course, the plot is secondary to the unique voice with which Mr. Snicket tells his more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
April 12, 2013 | 0 comments
A review of PICKLE by Kimberly Baker

The first thing you need to realize about pickle making is that it is serious business. Pickling has a long and illustrious history in the food preservation industry. Pssst! Are all of the grown-ups gone? They are? Great. Then we can let you in on a secret. The League of Pickle Makers is really a cover for the newest club at Fountain Point Middle School—the P.T.A. (Pranks and Trick Association). The club was started by me, Ben Ruiz, and we only do pranks that are funny or fun and not mean. If more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
March 29, 2013 | 0 comments