Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

Title: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Author: Judi Barrett, illustrated by Ron Barrett
Series: N/A
Publisher: Aladdin
Release Date: 4/1/1982
Length: 32 pages
Format: Board book
Genres: Childrens, Picture Books
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge
Source: Library
Purchase: Boardbook | Hardcover | Paperback
Rating: ★★★☆☆

In Chewandswallow, meals rain from the sky at appropriate times of the day, but a change in the weather blows in massive problems.

I wanted to read this after seeing the movie and never got around to it until now. I was looking up childrens’ books on my to-read spreadsheet and this was one that popped up. It’s not quite like the movie. There are similarities, and the book is good, but I think I like the movie better. In the book, the story of Chewandswallow and their unusual meteorological activity is just a bedtime story for two children. Their Grandpa was inspired to tell it after his grandson was pelted in the face with a flyaway pancake at breakfast. The similarities lie in the food falling from the sky, the food getting bigger, and the people of Chewandswallow having to leave their home so they aren’t flatted by an enormous steak or something. I was very unsure about the art, at first. I didn’t really like it, but when the story of Chewandswallow started, and the book was suddenly in color, I liked it much better. It’s still not my favorite. I tend to like more cartoony art in childrens’ books, but there’s no doubting the illustrator is a good artist. This is a good one for your kiddies. It’s a little silly, but cute. I would suggest reading the book before watching the movie. The other way around might prove disappointing.

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Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotton

Title: Russell the Sheep
Author: Rob Scotton
Series: N/A
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: 4/12/2005
Length: 40 pages
Format: Hardcover
Genres: Childrens, Picture Books
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Local Library
Source: Library
Purchase: Hardcover | NOOK
Rating: ★★★★☆

With a distinctive humor and style, Scotton introduces a sheep with a “baaaad” case of insomnia, until he discovers the one thing he needs to count to get to sleep.

I didn’t know this was Rob Scotton’s first picture book before I picked it up. I’ve been reading his Splat the Cat books. I just thought I’d should try his Russell the Sheep books too. They’re just as cute as Splat!

Russell has a lot of trouble getting to sleep. He tries all sorts of things to make himself go to bed. Finally he decides to count things, but it’s not until he starts counting sheep that he finds something to make him sleepy. This is a really cute book for kids who are having trouble going to bed. One of my favorite things about children’s books is that they take situations children may find themselves in and make them understandable. They can send a message through childish humor and adorable illustrations. I think that’s why I like to read them so much. I love the art and the simple messages. Hopefully, when I have kids I’ll know just the book they need.

My little rambling bit aside, let me just say I love Rob Scotton. His art is great. I love the way he makes Splat and Russell look so fluffy. It’s so cute! I’ll be looking out for more Russell the Sheep.

I recommend this one for those little ones who can’t seem to close those eyes and go to bed. It’s a very cute book.

The Field Guide by Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi

Title: The Field Guide
Author: Holly Black & Tony DiTerlizzi
Series: The Spiderwick Chronicles #1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s
Release Date: 5/1/2003
Length: 128 pages
Format: Hardcover
Genres: Fiction, Childrens, Fantasy
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge
Source: Library
Purchase: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★☆☆

When the three Grace children — Mallory, Jared, and Simon — and their mom move into Aunt Lucinda’s old house, readers know there’s magic afoot. The kids uncover a nest of assembled junk, and on a visit to the secret library via the dumbwaiter, Jared finds a note describing “my secret to all mankind.” After a few mysterious pranks that get blamed on Jared, the boy finally digs up the real prize: Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You. Fortunately enough, the kids meet one of the critters listed in the guide — a brownie named Thimbletack — who makes it all “real” and helps provide the book’s suspenseful conclusion: “‘Throw the book away, toss it in a fire. If you do not heed, you will draw their ire.'”

While this book was cute, it didn’t blow me away or anything. I think it will take a little more investment for me to get to loving this series. That said, I did enjoy this first small taste. And I do mean small. This book is so tiny!

Though I’ve gotten past the early stages of reading both YA and picture books, I really haven’t dabbled much with children’s fiction. My experience is pretty much just Liesl & Po (which I read because I love Lauren Oliver). This is the first time I’ve gone into a children’s book without knowing for sure that I’d love it. I do love Holly Black’s curse worker series though, so I was excited. I knew it would be very different, and I have to say I really appreciate the change. She definitely knows how to write for her target age group. I guess I shouldn’t undermine Toni DiTerlizzi’s part in this book. I don’t really know what that part is, but I appreciate it. I’ll also add that I read this at the insistance of my nephew who has become obsessed and proceeded to tell me most of the plot of the second book. Luckily, he talks fast, so I don’t really remember what he said.

The Grace children are your normal quirky children. One like to collect random pets, one likes to fence, and the other is a trouble maker. That’s what I’ve learned about them so far. Though, I have my suspicion that Jared isn’t that much of a trouble maker. This first volume introduces the children as they’re moving into an old, rickety house after their father left them. It gives the book a pretty melancholy feel. One of the twins soon discovers a secret room, and in that secret room he finds The Field Guide, a book about different kinds of fairy creatures. The children have their first encounter with one of these creatures. Madness ensues. It’s all the perfect formula for a childrens fantasy book.

I thought the prose and humor were appropriate for the intended reader. All in all, a pretty good book. It just wasn’t quite enough for me to give it a higher rating yet. Good thing there are more!

Pinocchio the Boy by Lane Smith

Title: Pinocchio the Boy
Author: Lane Smith
Series: N/A
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: 9/17/2002
Length: 40 pages
Format: Hardcover
Genres: Childrens, Picture Books
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge
Source: Library
Purchase: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Everyone in town knows Pinocchio, the puppet, but what about Pinocchio, the boy? From Lane Smith comes the story of what happens to Pinocchio on the very first day after his wish to be a real boy comes true. But there’s one problem: Pinocchio was asleep at the time and he doesn’t realize that he’s now a boy! No one else in town recognizes him, either-not his talking cricket, not the audience in the puppet theater, and not even his father, Geppetto. Set in a town that’s a winter wonderland, this stunningly illustrated sequel to a classic tale will appeal to children and adults alike.

The point of this book is to explore what happens after Pinocchio wakes up as a boy when the fairy hasn’t told anyone that she turned him into a boy. It’s pretty amusing and cute. I really loved the illustration. I think I enjoyed that part more than the story itself. I liked the addition of a sub plot (as much of one as there can be in a children’s picture book) of the Blue Fairy and Hershabel. I think the thing for me was that I just didn’t like it as much as his other books. It’s a cute idea and it’s funny watching Pinocchio try to act like a puppet, but I prefer Lane smith’s other books.

It’s cute and worth a read if you or your kids enjoy Lane Smith’s books. It’s on the quirkier side of his humor.

The Happy Hocky Family Moves to the Country! by Lane Smith

Title: The Happy Hocky Family Moves to the Country!
Author: Lane Smith
Series: The Happy Hocky Family
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: 5/1/2003
Length: 64 pages
Format: Hardcover
Genres: Childrens, Picture Books
Challenges: 2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge
Source: Library
Purchase: Hardcover
Rating: ★★★★☆

There is a new book about the Happy Hocky Family. They have moved. Now they live in the country in a nice old house. Now when it rains outside, it rains inside their house, too. No more alarm clocks! The neighbor’s rooster goes “COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO” at 5:30. Look! Henry has made a bird feeder. The squirrels think it is a fine feeder. See Holly make a pretty bouquet of plants with three leaves. See Holly itch. Read the book! Have fun.

I was at a small disadvantage when I read this because I did not read the first one. I think it would have helped just a little bit. I got an okay grasp on what it’s about though. It’s a clever play on the Dick and Jane books that used to get published way back before I was even thought of. I didn’t realize that until I was to the end of the book though, so I went back and read it over again with that in mind. It definitely made the book more amusing.

I think what I like about this book is that it has enough of the ridiculous to amuse a child and enough clever references to the Dick and Jane type of books to amuse an adult. The Hockey family is a little more quirky though. But that makes the book even better.

I think the only thing I didn’t like about it was the way it portrays the country. I live in a really small town and it’s nothing like that. Of course, it’s not really a farm town. That could have something to do with it. I think the author’s experience with small town living IS in a farm town. I’m saying “I think” for a reason.

If you want a book that is a quirky sort of funny, try this one. It should be enjoyable for both you and your kids. I need to go back and read the original one.

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    Some of the books reviewed on this blog were sent to me by the author or publisher for review. I did not receive any payment in exchange for the review nor was I obligated to write a positive one. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, the book's publisher and publicist or the readers of these reviews. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
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