All Aboard the ARC: Teeny Houdini #1: The Disappearing Act by Katrina Moore (Words) and Zoe Si (Pictures)

Teeny Houdini #1: The Disappearing Act by Katrina Moore (Words) and Zoe Si (Pictures)

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Katherine Tegen Books in exchange for an honest review.***

Bessie Lee is perhaps the most precocious, mischievous, and big-hearted youngster to enter the scene of children’s literature since Junie B. Jones.

Bessie Lee is perhaps the most precocious, mischievous, and big-hearted youngster to enter the scene of children’s literature since Junie B. Jones. She’s a first-grader who lives with her parents, Gramma, and big sister Bailey. When her teacher, Ms. Stoltz, announces the upcoming First Grade Talent Show, Bessie’s head spins with dreams of grandeur, of wild applause and fame beyond imagination. She just needs a talent to get started with and she’ll be on her way.

Once she’s home, Bessie puts on her thinking hat and goes with her pet, Baby Rabbit, to her sister Bailey’s room to ask for her help in choosing a talent. At first, Bailey plays the part of the beleaguered older sister and insists she be left alone. However, at one point in the mostly one-sided conversation, Bailey looks at Bessie with her hat and clutching her rabbit and says, “What’s up, Houdini?” And thus a star is born. Bailey teaches Bessie all about the world’s most famous magician, and Bessie decides that becoming a Teeny Houdini herself will elevate her above her classmates and make her teeny in their eyes no longer.

As you can well imagine, chaos ensues, with Bessie being forced to learn some hard lessons along the way. In the end, and with a little help, she discovers that everyone has a little magic inside of them and that magic is worth celebrating.

In the end, and with a little help, she discovers that everyone has a little magic inside of them and that magic is worth celebrating.

Katrina Moore has created an instantly likable heroine in Bessie Lee, and Zoe Si’s soft Schulzesque illustrations are utterly adorable. I can’t wait to recommend this series to young readers and their caregivers and I’m eagerly awaiting the second book in the series. Two thumbs way up for Bessie Lee, the Teeny Houdini!

Teeny Houdini #1: The Disappearing Act is due to be released by Katherine Tegen Books on January 4th, 2022 and is now available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: Stick and Stone Explore and More by Beth Ferry (Words) and Kristen Cella (Pictures)

Stick and Stone Explore and More by Beth Ferry (Words) and Kristen Cella (Pictures)

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley and Clarion Books (formerly HMH Children’s Books) in exchange for an honest review.***

I believe we can officially add Stick and Stone to the canon of great friends in children’s literature.

I believe we can officially add Stick and Stone to the canon of great friends in children’s literature. They are joining the ranks of Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad, Mo Willems’s Elephant and Piggie, and Marc Brown’s Arthur Read and Buster Baxter.

In “Stick and Stone and the Nature Girl”, the two friends try (and fail) to evade being captured by an opportunistic Nature Girl who, along with other members of her troop, is collecting objects from nature starting with each letter of the alphabet. While the friends do end up being snatched (erroneously as Rock and Twig), they are never in any real danger, because the Nature Girl’s Troop Leader reiterates to all of the participants the Nature Girl motto, which is: “Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Keep nothing but memories.” The friends are deposited back in their original spots and all is made right again in their world.

Nature Girl Motto: Take nothing but pictures. Leave nothing but footprints. Keep nothing but memories.

In “Stick and Stone and the Sticky Situation”, Stick and Stone get a little more adventure than they bargained for when they end up on a beach and instead of enjoying a nice soak in the sun, Stone is used for a beach campfire along with other rocks of varying sizes and Stick gets a marshmallow for a hat and very nearly gets roasted. A beneficent rain ruins the beachgoers’ fun while saving the lives of Stick and Stone and their new friends.

Beth Ferry and Kristen Cella have delivered another excellent chapter in the saga of Stick and Stone, and readers of all ages are sure to delight in their latest adventures.

Stick and Stone Explore and More is due to be released by Clarion Books (formerly HMH Children’s Books) on June 7th, 2022 and is available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: Matias and the Cloud by Jorge G. Palomera and Ana Sanfelippo (Illustrator)

Matias and the Cloud by Jorge G. Palomera and Ana Sanfelippo (Illustrator)

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

We must be entering a golden age for wordless picture books. In October, Anthony and the Gargoyle by Jo Ellen Bogart (originally reviewed on my blog here) hit shelves and warmed the hearts of readers everywhere. And anyone who missed Aaron Becker’s wordless Journey trilogy would be doing themselves a great disservice by not acquiring it immediately. Now, we have this little gem due to be released on February 22nd of next year by Clarion Books. Talk about an embarrassment of riches.

Once the guests have left and all but one of the presents have been unwrapped, Matias and his dog discover something quite spectacular in the last gift: a magic cloud.

Matias and the Cloud opens on the morning of Matias’s birthday. His family throws him a big party to celebrate his special day, with cake and a piñata and presents stacked high just waiting to be unwrapped. Once the guests have left and all but one of the presents have been unwrapped, Matias and his dog discover something quite spectacular in the last gift: a magic cloud.

This enchanted cloud is no ordinary fluffnugget of condensed vapor. On the contrary, this cloud can float and bounce and do all sorts of neat things.

This enchanted cloud is no ordinary fluffnugget of condensed vapor. On the contrary, this cloud can float and bounce and do all sorts of neat things. What will Matias and his dog get up to with their new friend? You’ll have to get it yourself to find out.

Matias and the Cloud is due to be released by Clarion Books on February 22nd, 2022 and is available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: Halloween Is Coming! by Cal Everett (Words) and Lenny Wen (Pictures)

Halloween Is Coming! by Cal Everett (Words) and Lenny Wen (Pictures)

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

Seasonal titles are often hit-or-miss in terms of quality and sales-worthiness. You have your perennial bestsellers, the classics, which always perform well. Then there’s the seasonal titles featuring licensed characters, like Pete the Cat or Peppa Pig. These are always a big hit with preschool audiences but are certainly nothing to write home about. And then finally are the newbies, the titles published especially for the holiday(s) in question that aren’t tied to any other franchise or proud tradition save the holiday itself.

The Three Types of Children’s Halloween Books © 2021 Fred Slusher. All rights reserved.

My verdict: it’s absolutely delightful. Everett’s pithy rhymes combined with Wen’s clean and colorful illustrations make for a spook-tacular family read for Halloween night.

Halloween Is Coming! belongs to the last category. My verdict: it’s absolutely delightful. Everett’s pithy rhymes combined with Wen’s clean and colorful illustrations make for a spook-tacular family read for Halloween night. I also really appreciated the diversity of the children featured in the picture book. Too many children’s books focus exclusively on able-bodied white children and this deliberate act of exclusion prevents BIPOC children and children who are differently-abled from being able to socialize themselves within the framework of their peers. In short, representation matters, and it doesn’t just matter in social issue titles that explicitly deal with race, ability, or any other demographic characteristic.

Too many children’s books focus exclusively on able-bodied white children and this deliberate act of exclusion prevents BIPOC children and children who are differently-abled from being able to socialize themselves within the framework of their peers.

I’m comfortable in saying that Halloween Is Coming! is my favorite new Halloween title published this year and will be one I enjoy reading in the future as well as recommending to my littlest customers and their adults.

Pumpkins at the farmers’ market / Jack-o-lantern when we carve it © 2021 Cal Everett (Words) and Lenny Wen (Pictures). All rights reserved.
© 2021 Lenny Wen. All rights reserved.

Halloween Is Coming! was published by SOURCEBOOKS Kids on August 3rd, 2021 and is available to purchase wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: Beneath the Trees: The Autumn of Mr. Grumpf by DAV

Beneath the Trees: The Autumn of Mr. Grumpf by DAV

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

Mr. Grumpf is a lovable curmudgeon. When we first meet him, Mr. Grumpf is busy trying to sweep away the last of the leaves from his doorstep in preparation for the fast-approaching winter. He is a badger that doesn’t want to be bothered. His neighbors, however, must have missed the memo because he is constantly being interrupted.

Despite his ill-tempered disposition, Mr. Grumpf always helps his neighbors when they ask and sometimes even when they don’t. Whether it’s helping a mouse retrieve his kite that’s stuck in a tree (and then repairing it when it turns out to be broken) or delivering nuts to a beleaguered father squirrel who has fallen behind in gathering nuts for winter, Mr. Grumpf is always of service to his neighbors…though never with a smile.

When Mr. Grumpf finally makes it home, he finds all the neighbors he’s helped helping him with his pre-winter chores. The smallest of smiles breaks through his grumpy veneer when the same mouse whose kite he saved presents him with his once-broken broom—repaired and ready to go.

I loved the illustrations in this book. The author uses a minimal of dialogue and narration to tell the story. It is image-driven, so children must interpret what’s happening most often by following the sequence of images on the page and reading the characters’ facial expressions.

All in all, I loved Beneath the Trees and I’m looking forward to the next books in the series.

Beneath the Trees: The Autumn of Mr. Grumpf is due to be released on October 12th, 2021 by Magnetic Press and is now available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.

All Aboard the ARC: The Proud Button by Danette Richards

The Proud Button by Danette Richards

***Note: I received a free digital review copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

Isabelle is a bright and curious little girl who keeps a jar full of special treasures which she protects as if it were a pot of gold. She lives a happy life for the most part but she is sad because she has a lot of trouble connecting with other kids her age and making friends. Sometimes it’s easier for her to work alone in class or stay in her bedroom admiring the treasures in her treasure jar than it would be for her to work with others or to venture out and play with other children.

One day when Isabelle arrives home from school, she has a letter and a present from her Aunt Nancy waiting for her. The present is a yellow porcelain button her aunt found in a field near an abandoned button factory in France—and it is christened Isabel’s Proud Button—proud because she takes such pride in caring for her treasures.

Perhaps, she thinks, she can treat herself and the people around her the same way she treats her treasures. And maybe, just maybe, this will help her make friends who will value her back.

The notion of taking pride in things you care for strikes a chord in Isabelle. Perhaps, she thinks, she can treat herself and the people around her the same way she treats her treasures. And maybe, just maybe, this will help her make friends who will value her back.

Isabelle’s Proud Button gives her the courage to do just that, and soon she is connecting with others and learning the joys of friendship.

It [The Proud Button] teaches (or reminds) us that there’s nothing wrong with taking pride in the things you own but that it’s much more important to care for the people in your life because your stuff can’t love you back.

The Proud Button is a wonderful story that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. It teaches (or reminds) us that there’s nothing wrong with taking pride in the things you own but that it’s much more important to care for the people in your life because your stuff can’t love you back.

The Proud Button is due to be released on September 14th, 2021 by Clavis and is now available to preorder wherever books are sold.

Thanks as always for being a faithful reader of The Voracious Bibliophile. If you like what you see, please like, comment, follow, and subscribe to my email list to get notified of new posts as soon as they drop. You can also email me at fred.slusher@thevoraciousbibliophile.com or catch me on Twitter and Instagram @voraciousbiblog. Keep reading the world, one page (or pixel) at a time.