Image: Collage of book covers with a periwinkle border. Books shown, clockwise from top left: Bedtime for Sweet Creatures; Señorita Mariposa; Mom Loves Little Jumbo; Patience, Miyuki; This Was Our Pact; Dazzling Travis; David Bowie; How to Be a Butterfly; Doodle Cat Wears a Cape; Unicorn Bowling; and Chapter Two Is Missing!

May Grab Bag: Catch Up with Some Non-Spooky Books!

It’s time for another kidlit grab bag! This is the space where I tell you about the wonderful books I’ve read that don’t fit in with my usual spooky fare. The reviews may be a bit briefer than my typical reviews, but that in no way reflects any lack of enthusiasm for these incredible titles. It’s been a while since my last grab bag, so I have a lot to catch up on, but I’ll try not to bombard you with too many titles for your TBR. Now, let’s check out some books!


Chapter Two Is Missing!

Chapter-Two-Is-Missing!-cover

Synopsis

Do not be alarmed, but the second chapter of this book appears to be missing! It was here a minute ago, but now it seems to have simply walked off. Not only that, but some of the punctuation has gone topsy-turvy, a bunch of letter Ms are hiding in Chapter 5, and Chapter 45 appears to be from another book entirely! The narrator is going to need some assistance getting things in order, especially with the unhelpful detective who keeps butting in and that shifty janitor lurking about. Luckily he has you—the reader—to help!

Details

  • Title: Chapter Two Is Missing!
  • Author: Josh Lieb
  • Illustrator: Kevin Cornell
  • Cover Artists: Kevin Cornell, art; Kristin Boyle and Kevin Cornell, design
  • Publisher: Razorbill
  • ISBN: 1984835483
  • Publication Date: October 29, 2019
  • For Ages: 4-6
  • Category: Picture Book

I’d like to thank Razorbill for providing a copy via Edelweiss+ in exchange for review consideration.

Review

This wild and witty story is an exciting picture book debut from author Josh Lieb. The hilarious dialogue obliterates the fourth wall, drawing the reader in and guaranteeing that this will be a read-aloud favorite. Kevin Cornell’s clever, playful illustrations work perfectly with the text, adding deliciously absurd details and making big laughs even bigger. Kids will love this brilliant combination of humor and mystery.


Unicorn Bowling (Phoebe and Her Unicorn #9)

Unicorn-Bowling-cover

Synopsis

A unicorn in bowling shoes is quite a STRIKE-ing sight. But for nine-year-old Phoebe Howell, it’s just another fun outing with her best friend, the illustrious unicorn Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. This unique and magical friendship is at the heart of the ninth Phoebe and Her Unicorn collection, which includes adventures such as writing original songs, publishing rival news websites, and making a summer visit to the exclusive Camp Shimmerhorn. Life with a unicorn BFF is not without its challenges, however, and whether it’s homework, friction with classmates, or talent show jitters, Unicorn Bowling is full of amusing, heartwarming reminders that when the going gets tough, the tough get sparkling.

Details

  • Title: Unicorn Bowling
  • Series: Phoebe and Her Unicorn #9
  • Author/Illustrator: Dana Simpson
  • Cover Artist: Dana Simpson
  • Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
  • ISBN: 1449499384
  • Publication Date: April 23, 2019
  • For Ages: 7-12
  • Category: Chapter Book

I’d like to thank Andrews McMeel Publishing for providing a copy via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.

Review

Unicorn Bowling is another charming, hilarious, and sparkly entry in the fantastic Phoebe and Her Unicorn series. With a warm tone that is both sweet and sarcastic, the book shows the importance of being true to yourself, avoiding gender stereotypes, and supporting your friends (human and unicorn alike). The adventures of Phoebe and Marigold Heavenly Nostrils are an absolute delight, sure to win fans of all ages.


Mom Loves Little Jumbo

Image: A large brown elephant and a small black elephant gaze at each other in front of a beige background. Text: Mom Loves Little Jumbo. Yasushi Muraki. Hello, I am Jumbo.

Synopsis

Little Jumbo’s mama is not only the greatest, but the biggest elephant ever! Naturally, she is not really the biggest in the world but from his perspective, she is a giant. She is brave and protects him; she plays with him, finds the tastiest fruit, and cuddles him when it is time to sleep. And best of all—Mama loves him just like he loves Mama.

Details

  • Title: Mom Loves Little Jumbo
  • Author/Illustrator: Yasushi Muraki
  • Cover Artist: Yasushi Muraki
  • Publisher: minedition
  • ISBN: 9888341782
  • Publication Date: May 1, 2019
  • For Ages: 3-5
  • Category: Picture Book

I’d like to thank minedition for providing a copy via Edelweiss+ in exchange for review consideration.

Review

Clean, deceptively simple artwork and sweet, sparse text let the characters shine in this beautiful ode to a mother’s love. Children will delight in Little Jumbo’s playful and loving relationship with his mother and recognize their own mothers’ love in her attentive care.


Patience, Miyuki

Image: A young girl with black hair rides in a red and white origami crane on top of pale blue water. Behind her are branches with tufts of leaves in varying shades of green. Text: Patience, Miyuki. Roxane Marie Galliez. Seng Soun Ratanavanh.

Synopsis

Miyuki anxiously awaits the opening of one sleepy flower. When, on the first day of spring, the flower still hasn’t bloomed, Miyuki begins a frantic search for water to wake it up. Her grandfather gently encourages her to sit and watch with him, as she learns the important lesson that good things come to those who wait.

Details

  • Title: Patience, Miyuki
  • Series: Miyuki, Book 2
  • Author: Roxane Marie Galliez
  • Illustrator: Seng Soun Ratanavanh
  • Cover Artist: Seng Soun Ratanavanh
  • Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
  • ISBN: 1616898437
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2019
  • For Ages: 5-8
  • Category: Picture Book

I’d like to thank Princeton Architectural Press for providing a copy via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.

Review

This second Miyuki book is just as sweet and gentle as the first, and the message of being patient and appreciating nature according to its own time is beautiful. Seng Soun Ratanavanh’s exquisite artwork is, once again, a revelation. The whimsical and surreal illustrations showcase her masterful grasp of color and astonishing ability to combine geometric patterns with natural shapes to craft a flowing, compelling story. Ratanavanh’s art perfectly underscores the central message of the value of patience, because this is truly a book to luxuriate in and savor.


David Bowie (Little People, BIG DREAMS)

David-Bowie-cover

Synopsis

As a child, young David had a head full of songs and ideas. He was inspired by the pop and mod scenes in Britain to pick up the saxophone. After earning his stripes in some of the coolest bands in London, David splashed onto the solo scene. His songwriting talent and musical skill made him one of rock and roll’s all-time greatest artists. This moving book features stylish and quirky illustrations and extra facts at the back, including a biographical timeline with historical photos and a detailed profile of the musician’s life.

Details

  • Title: David Bowie
  • Series: Little People, BIG DREAMS
  • Author: Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara
  • Illustrator: Ana Albero
  • Cover Artist: Ana Albero
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
  • ISBN: 1786033321
  • Publication Date: May 7, 2019
  • For Ages: 4-7
  • Category: Picture Book

I’d like to thank Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for providing a copy via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.

Review

A fitting tribute to one of the most important artists ever to grace planet Earth. The educational but age-appropriate text is intriguing, and the engaging artwork captures Bowie’s ability to look completely different from his last incarnation but remain utterly and completely himself. This is a terrific book that shows kids that following your passions and being brave enough to be different are wonderful things.


Dazzling Travis: A Story About Being Confident & Original

A young boy with light brown skin and curly dark brown hair wears a blue suit, yellow suspenders, and orange pants. His hands are on his hips and he smirks confidently yet kindly. The background is yellow with colorful stars and dots. Text: Dazzling Travis: A Story About Being Confident & Original. By Hannah Carmona Dias. Illustrated by Brenda Figueroa.

Synopsis

Travis sets no limits to what he enjoys doing. Shopping and football, ballet and dress-up make Travis a one of a kind boy! But when some of the kids on the playground begin to pick on him, Travis truly dazzles. This empowering story encourages kids of any gender to challenge the social norm, revealing their true selves.

Details

  • Title: Dazzling Travis: A Story About Being Confident & Original
  • Author: Hannah Carmona Dias
  • Illustrator: Brenda Figueroa
  • Cover Artist: Brenda Figueroa
  • Publisher: Cardinal Rule Press
  • ISBN: 0997608560
  • Publication Date: April 1, 2019
  • For Ages: 5-7
  • Category: Picture Book

I’d like to thank Cardinal Rule Press for providing a copy via Edelweiss+ in exchange for review consideration.

Review

Travis is a confident, joyful, and dazzling boy who knows that there’s no limit to what he can do or wear or play, regardless of his classmates’ rigid ideas about gender roles. This inspirational and entertaining story is beautifully illustrated with bright, clear art depicting Travis and his diverse group of friends playing with true happiness and creativity. The message of staying true to yourself and ignoring arbitrary rules about gender is reinforced by a useful discussion guide at the beginning of the book. Dazzling Travis is a story from which all kids (and adults) will learn a valuable, life-affirming lesson.


How to Be a Butterfly

How-to-Be-a-Butterfly-cover

Synopsis

Should a butterfly be big or small? Should it be bright and bold, or perfectly pale? A joyous, imaginative, yet informative non-fiction picture book about what it takes to be a butterfly—body parts, behavior, and life cycle—with the underlying message that diversity is a wonderful thing and that, in fact, there are 20,000 ways to be a butterfly!

Details

  • Title: How to Be a Butterfly
  • Author: Laura Knowles
  • Illustrator: Catell Ronca
  • Cover Artist: Catell Ronca
  • Publisher: words & pictures
  • ISBN: 1786038846
  • Publication Date: April 16, 2019
  • For Ages: 4-6
  • Category: Picture Book

I’d like to thank words & pictures for providing a copy via NetGalley in exchange for review consideration.

Review

Gorgeous, expressive illustrations accompany text that informs as well as inspires in this beautiful, educational look at the world of butterflies.


Doodle Cat Wears a Cape

Doodle-Cat-Wears-a-Cape-cover

Synopsis

He can perform all kinds of superhero acts, like catching humans when they fall from trees and firing furballs at top speed. But will Doodle Cat’s superpowers work when his friend is sad? Maybe he’ll have to try something new.

Details

  • Title: Doodle Cat Wears a Cape
  • Series: Doodle Cat
  • Author: Kat Patrick
  • Illustrator: Lauren Farrell
  • Cover Artist: Lauren Farrell
  • Publisher: Scribble
  • ISBN: 194753498X
  • Publication Date: October 1, 2019
  • For Ages: 2-7
  • Category: Picture Book

I’d like to thank Scribble for providing a copy via Edelweiss+ in exchange for review consideration.

Review

Doodle Cat Wears a Cape is a warm, hilarious tale of friendship that encourages kids to embrace their unique strengths. Filled with brilliantly wacky art and bursting with joy, this book is sure to inspire and delight readers of all ages. Grab a cape and find your own superpower!


Bedtime for Sweet Creatures

Image: A boy with brown skin and brown hair wears red footie pajamas and carries a stuffed monkey. He yawns and walks in a line with brightly colored lions, koalas, deer, and other animals. Text: Bedtime for Sweet Creatures. Words by Nikki Grimes. Pictures by Elizabeth Zunon.

Synopsis

It’s bedtime, but Mommy’s little boy is not sleepy.

He growls like a bear, he questions like an owl, he tosses his mane like a lion. He hunts for water like a sly wolf and hides like a snake.

Mommy needs to wrangle her sweet creature in bed so that the whole family can sleep.

Details

  • Title: Bedtime for Sweet Creatures
  • Author: Nikki Grimes
  • Illustrator: Elizabeth Zunon
  • Cover Artist: Elizabeth Zunon
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
  • ISBN: 1492638323
  • Publication Date: January 14, 2020
  • For Ages: 4-8
  • Category: Picture Book

I’d like to thank Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for providing a copy via Edelweiss+ in exchange for review consideration.

Review

Lush and poetic, Bedtime for Sweet Creatures is an adorable feast for the eyes. Elizabeth Zunon’s vibrant collage artwork fills the pages with life and color, and Nikki Grimes’s imaginative, innovative use of metaphor imbues the entire book with love. This brilliant book will be a hit with all sweet creatures at bedtime and beyond.


Señorita Mariposa

Señorita-Mariposa-cover

Synopsis

Rhyming text and lively illustrations showcase the epic trip taken by the monarch butterflies. At the end of each summer, these international travelers leave Canada to fly south to Mexico for the winter—and now readers can come along for the ride! Over mountains capped with snow, to the deserts down below. Children will be delighted to share in the fascinating journey of the monarchs and be introduced to the people and places they pass before they finally arrive in the forests that their ancestors called home.

Details

  • Title: Señorita Mariposa
  • Author: Ben Gundersheimer (Mister G)
  • Illustrator: Marcos Almada Rivero
  • Cover Artist: Marcos Almada Rivero
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
  • ISBN: 1524740705
  • Publication Date: August 6, 2019
  • For Ages: 3-5
  • Category: Picture Book

I’d like to thank Nancy Paulsen Books for providing a copy via Edelweiss+ in exchange for review consideration.

Review

Charming bilingual verse and warm, gentle illustrations chronicle the miraculous migration of monarch butterflies across North America, encouraging young readers to protect the planet and appreciate nature’s marvels.


This Was Our Pact

This-Was-Our-Pact

Synopsis

It’s the night of the annual Autumn Equinox Festival, when the town gathers to float paper lanterns down the river. Legend has it that after drifting out of sight, they’ll soar off to the Milky Way and turn into brilliant stars. This year, Ben and his classmates are determined to find out where those lanterns really go, and they made a pact with two simple rules: No one turns for home. No one looks back.

The plan is to follow the river on their bikes for as long as it takes to learn the truth, but it isn’t long before the pact is broken by all except for Ben and (much to Ben’s disappointment) Nathaniel, the one kid who just doesn’t seem to fit in. Together, Nathaniel and Ben will travel down a winding road full of magic, wonder, and unexpected friendship.*

*And a talking bear.

Details

  • Title: This Was Our Pact
  • Author/Illustrator: Ryan Andrews
  • Cover Artist: Ryan Andrews
  • Publisher: First Second Books
  • ISBN: 1250196957
  • Publication Date: June 11, 2019
  • For Ages: 10-14
  • Category: Middle Grade

Review

This magical tale of friendship and bravery uses moody, whimsical art to make readers believe in the impossible. Though it really would have fit in well with the rest of the spooky books I usually feature on the blog, I struggled so much reviewing this delightful book that I thought it would work best in a grab bag feature. It is charming, imaginative, and bittersweet, and I highly recommend it.


Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought about them in the comments!

That’s all for now, but I’ll have another grab bag for you next month with some titles that I am VERY excited about. And of course there will be plenty of spooky reviews for you to enjoy between now and then. Have a great weekend, kids!

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