A review of Brimsby’s Hats by Andrew Prahin

Brimsby is a hatmaker.  Each day, his friend (a badger) comes to visit and they share a pot of tea until one day the friend announces that he has decided to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a sea captain. Who will Brimsby talk to and share tea with now? The author answers this question with a very real-world solution--new friends are found, old friendships are still treasured and maintained, even though contact is less frequent. Soft sorbet colors and bold, cartoony drawings set the more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
September 25, 2015 | 0 comments
A review of Better Nate than ever by Tim Federle

Sitting in his first Broadway audition, Nate realizes it’s better to be simple and honest, “SPECIAL SKILLS: I thought a pirouette was a pasty, before this audition, and if that’s any indication of how much I could learn in New York, I hope I have a chance to live here…” Tim Federle’s Nate is a dreamer, a big dreamer on a big adventure in New York City. In Nate we find a character who refuses to settle for being anything less than his fabulous self, even if that self doesn’t fit into his small more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
July 17, 2015 | 0 comments
A review of One big pair of underwear by Laura Gehl

I have read a lot of counting books, but One Big Pair Of Underwear is something so much more. Don't be distracted by the obviously silly title, or hysterical pictures of bears tugging on giant tighty-whitey or seals on scooters... this book is a just using those adorable and humorous entities to distract you from realizing it is a vocabulary book. Like it's nursery rhyme ancestors did so well, this children's rhyme sneaks in rare words like greedy, gobble, narrow, nook, craving, twisty into it' more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
June 26, 2015 | 0 comments
A review of Tales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman

A martial arts book for newly independent readers with generous, attractive illustrations AND a female protagonist? Yes, please! Bunjitsu Bunny  stars the brave, but never aggressive rabbit, Isabel.  Each chapter is a stand-alone story about different encounters she has, making this a perfect bedtime book (no stressful cliffhangers!). My personal favorite chapters are those in which she avoids a fight with a bully and in which she “defeats the angry wave” by realizing that it only more

Reviewed by Carissa - Alicia Ashman on
April 10, 2015 | 0 comments
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