Monthly Archives: July 2018

Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever!


Title: Snappsy The Alligator And His Best Friend Forever!
Author: Julie Falatko
Illustrator: Tim Miller
Published: Viking, 2017


I always like books about unlikely friendships. I once wrote a series of  stories about a bear and a duck that I was really excited about, until I found a bazillion books featuring a bear and a duck. (Slight exaggeration, but not by much.)

Anyway, lots of animal pairings have been done (bear and duck, bear and squirrel, frog and toad, pig and llama…) but not alligator and chicken.

Until now.

Snappsy and his chicken friend (later revealed to be “Bert”) are hilarious.

Bert really, really, REALLY wants to hang out with Snappsy and do BFF stuff with him. Snappsy is…well…not SUPER enthusiastic about this. He’s really more interested in doing stuff alone.

Bert is not easily deterred, however. He suggests disco dancing. A sleepover. Wearing BFF shirts. Karaoke. Temporary tattoos.

But Snappsy wants none of it. He sends Bert on his way.

Then, after doing a few activities by himself, Snappsy realizes something: he really misses Bert. So he writes him a sleepover invitation. Fortunately, Bert is having a blow-up pool party right outside Snappsy’s door.

They decide to have a sleepover together (and they have a great time) and then Bert mentions that he’s going to move in.

Snappsy is shocked.

Bert is driving a moving truck.

The art is really excellent and cartoon-y. The characters are both loveable in their own way. The premise is funny. It reminds me a bit of I Love You Already in that one friend is really into the friendship and then the other one realizes that they’re into it as well.

The girls really enjoyed the book and found it generally hilarious.

Mama’s Review: 9/10
Vivi’s Review: A
Lily’s Review: “Bert is a great chicken.”




Oh No, George!


Title: Oh No, George!
Author/Illustrator: Chris Haughton
Published: Candlewick Press, 2012

Can I just gush for a moment about the beauty of a good board book? A good board book is a work of art, really. I feel like board books are just usually overlooked or underrated. They’re for babies, after all! They’re meant to be manhandled and chewed, right? Well, yes. But also read! They’re also meant to be read. And these are some of a baby’s first stories. So it’s important that they’re well-written and engaging and that the art is captivating. Fortunately, Oh No, George! is all that and more.

Oh No, George! is all about an adorable (and large) dog trying to be good while his owner, Harry, goes out for a bit. George goes so far as to promise Harry that he’ll be good. Very good!

But promises are meant to be broken, aren’t they?

George has a good heart and the best of intentions. He WANTS to behave himself. There are just so many temptations. Cake, for instance. How is a dog supposed to just walk on by and ignore something as tasty as a cake?
(Spoiler alert: he doesn’t.)

Next, there’s a cat. Well, you know cats need chasing. So George takes care of that.

Finally, there are some lovely indoor plants. George just has to have a little dig. And then Harry returns. You can imagine his reaction when he sees what George has done.

George realizes how upset Harry is. George knows how naughty he’s been. And he’s sorry…really sorry. He decides to give Harry one of his toys to make up for it. Harry suggests a walk.

But even outside there are temptations.  Another cake (but this time, George walks right by). There’s the cat! (George doesn’t even try to chase the cat!) And then…there’s a garbage can full of delightful trash.

And we’re left wondering: what will George do?

This book was given to me as a gift for my oldest daughter’s baby shower. (Thanks for the book, cousin Jo!) I hadn’t heard of it before, but I immediately loved it. When I first started reading it to Vivi, she was too young to appreciate the art or the text, but as she grew, she asked for the book by name. When Lily came along, she also fell for George. The art is so colourful, yet simple. George’s expressions are endearing. I always read George with kind of a low, slow voice. He’s a bit dumb, but very friendly (according to my interpretation). Harry is always British and slightly annoyed. Think “Harvey P. Dull” from The Furchester Hotel, but a bit less whiny. Just my suggestions, of course. You do you!


Mama’s Review: A
Vivi’s Review: “I always liked George.”
Lily’s Review: “I like when he chased the cat and ate the cake. Heh, heh.”

City Dog, Country Frog


Title: City Dog, Country Frog
Author: Mo Willems
Illustrator: Jon J. Muth
Published: Hyperion Books for Children, 2010


I have to admit something: I’m a huge Mo Willems fan. Everyone in this house is, really. We have the entire Elephant and Piggie series, the three Knuffle Bunny books, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs and a random assortment of other books he’s written. And they are all good. Really, all of them. They’re fun to read, my girls love them (and have literally memorized all of the Elephant and Piggie books), the art is cute. (Side note: Elephant and Piggie are adorable as felt hand puppets. How do I know this? Because I made about ten of each for my daughter’s school this year!)

Anyway, Mo Willems is a rock star. Really. He’s in my ‘if I could take five famous people to lunch and pick their brains’ group. I think he’s the bee’s knees.

And then there’s Jon J. Muth. I didn’t know much about him before I read Zen Shorts. I LOVED the art so much, I remember showing my husband and having him say, “Oh, Jon J. Muth? Yeah, he’s pretty amazing.” Apparently, Mr. Muth is a comic artist along with being a children’s book illustrator and that’s where Karl (my husband) had first seen his work. (Another side note: Karl is a giant comic book /superhero nerd. He is to comics what I am to picture books. Our house just has a lot of books, is what I’m saying.)

So! You can imagine my joy when I received a book that was written by the amazing Mr. Willems and illustrated by the talented Mr. Muth. Karl bought me the book for my birthday one year and I proceeded to read it and ugly cry at the table.

Good times, good times.

But the point is, the book is outstanding. It’s so very touching, so very sweet. It’s about a dog who ends up moving to the country. He runs through the grass and ends up at a pond where he meets Frog. Frog teaches Dog frog games and they splash and have a really great time together. That was in the spring. Next, it’s summertime and Dog teaches Frog dog games. They fetch and sniff and bark. Summer gives way to fall, and Frog is tired. Dog and Frog play remembering games. Then, right at the end of the season, Dog has fallen asleep and you can see Frog give him a little wave.

Then winter comes and Dog heads for Frog’s rock, but Frog isn’t there.

The saddest, most poignant moment of the book for me is when Dog is sitting alone in the snow. Just…looking for his friend. And his friend is gone.

When spring comes again, Dog is sad. He heads to the pond, hoping to find his friend. Of course, Frog is really gone. But there is a chipmunk. With memories of his froggy friend in his heart (and a froggy smile on his face), Dog decides that perhaps, as a friend, Chipmunk will do.

This book is perfection for three reasons:

  1. It handles the topic of loss/death/the circle of life so sensitively and with the gentle reassurance that gone isn’t really gone. Frog remains in Dog’s heart even in the winter and the following spring. Dog will always carry a piece of Frog with him.
  2. The art is stunning. Seriously, it is absolutely gorgeous. It captures the sweetness of their friendship and the sadness of Dog’s loss beautifully.
  3. The book is just really well-written. (See: Mo Willems is a rock star.)

If you want a book that will make you smile and then cry and  then smile again, this is the one for you. Or your best friend. Or, you know, anyone.

Mama’s review: A+++
Lily’s review: “I like the part where the dog and frog make friends.”
(Vivi was too busy playing to give a review tonight.)


Nothing Rhymes With Orange


Title: Nothing Rhymes With Orange
Author/Illustrator: Adam Rex
Published: Chronicle Books, 2017

As you might know, I am Canadian. Today is Canada Day and that means it’s time to show off your knowledge of moose trivia and Tragically Hip lyrics (kidding…sorta). I am proud to be Canadian, especially these days with the world being as it is. Canada is a diverse country full of awesome people. We enjoy free healthcare, good schools and more lakes than you can shake a stick at. So happy Canada Day, fellow Canucks!

Now, our review doesn’t really have much to do with Canada Day. I have some Canadian books coming up, don’t worry…but today my girls begged me to read a book we got from the library. A book about an orange.

Before I get to the review, I have a question: Adam Rex, where have you been all my life? After reading The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors (and loving the art), I was delighted to find a book that Mr. Rex both wrote and illustrated. And it is hilarious.

Nothing Rhymes With Orange follows poor Orange, the fruit that always gets left out of rhymes/songs because of his un-rhyme-able name. He listens to the other fruit talk about how fantastic they are. (“And these grapes are wearing capes because they’re super good to eat.”) He keeps mentioning the fact that he’s around, in case anyone needs him for anything.

No one does.

It seems EVERY SINGLE OTHER FRUIT gets featured in this story. There’s a quince! A current! Heck, they talk about a kumquat! But poor Orange just sits on the sidelines, watching.

Then Friedrich Nietzsche shows up. Yes, you read that right. Friedrich Nietzsche.

I actually burst out laughing the first time I read this story. It is so bizarre and unexpected.

The story is wacky, strange and very, very funny. I don’t want to give away too much about the ending, but suffice it to say that Orange finds his place in the rhyme (they make up a word for him).

The art reminded me very much of the fruit books done by Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers. Adam Rex uses actual fruit and adds adorable faces. I fell in love with the Quince, for real. The braces just…I don’t know, it’s like looking at a 12-year-old version of myself.

I read this during dessert tonight and we did a round table of opinions with my girls and my husband. Here’s a (close-to-accurate) transcript:

Mama: So, what did you guys think of the book?
Husband: I liked it, but I felt that the orange’s interjections, while funny, kind of took away from the flow of the story.
Vivi: I also felt that. I liked the orange a lot, though. I think he should’ve been the first character you met.
Mama: He kind of was, like he was on the inside cover page.
Vivi: That’s not really part of the story, though. It hadn’t started yet.
Mama: <sigh>
Lily: I liked the part where they were all having a party! It was great!
Mama: Grades, everyone?
Vivi: A.
Husband: B+

I think we have a winner. Pick up Nothing Rhymes With Orange and prepare to be delighted.