On the Bookshelf May 2018

By Jane Muller


Where is Little Fish?

By Lucy Cousins

There are too many counting books to count but there’s room for more, especially when they are as bright and captivating as this one from the creator of Maisy. Colours and patterns define each group of fish as their numbers grow page by page. This is a fun little read that will help learning numbers to swim right along. Equally as eye catching and entertaining is her “Where is Little Fish” lift-the-flap book. Ages 0 to 3 – Publisher, Candlewick Press – $10.99 board book

Maisy Goes to the Local Bookstore

By Lucy Cousins

It’s hard to be objective when a topic hits close to the heart so excuse me for letting my support of books and local bookstores influence this review. Given that the book features the much-loved Maisy, it had a good chance of being good. This introduction to a bookstore features all of Maisy’s friends sharing in the fun adventure and it is indeed good. It’s part of “A Maisy’s First Experience Book” series that also includes a great primer for kids heading to their first wedding this summer titled “Maisy Goes to a Wedding”. Ages 2 to 5 – Publisher, Candlewick Press – $16.99

Little Dragon and the New Baby

By Deborah Cuneo

There is always some difficulty adjusting to the idea of a new sibling and it’s no different for Little Dragon. He doesn’t even want to look at the new egg that his parents have delivered to their home. Simply told, this sweet little story gives birth to a surprise at the end and the realization that maybe things aren’t so bad. Ages 3 to 6 – Publisher, Sky Pony Press – $16.99 US

Alma and How She Got Her Name

By Juana Martinez-Neal

A child’s name often holds some significance, most commonly it’s family related. Kids carry this with them their whole lives so they need to be clear as to the root of their name or names. In this story, Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela has a name so long that “it never fits”. She learns from her father that each of her names is attached to a family member with her own unique story. That is except for her first name that is original to the “first and only Alma” who will make her own story. Beautifully illustrated, this book is a real gem. Ages 4–8  – Publisher, Candlewick Press – $21.99 hardcover

Project Droid – Give a ‘Bot a Bone

By Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser,

illustrator Mike Moran

Many of us have imagined the advantages of having a robot around the house to help with chores. The robot in this story does that and more. Java the droid poses as Logan’s cousin and the pair does household chores as a means to make money. While trespassing in the lab where Logan’s mom created Java, the pair break her hair cutting machine and decide to raise money to buy a new one. There is just enough silliness and intrigue to make this simple little chapter book interesting enough to hold the reader. Ages 7 to 9 – Publisher, Sky Pony Press – $4.99 US paperback

The Yark

By Bertrand Santini, illustrator Laurent Gapaillard

I’m always happy to discover a book that will engage reluctant readers. First of all, it reminded be of the dark, dry humour so deftly employed by Roald Dahl in such books as “The BFG” and “The Twits”. Funny wins fans as do quirky characters like The Yark, a big hairy creature who dines on naughty children until one day he makes a friend. This imaginative story is embellished with detailed ink drawings, further enhancing the reading experience. Ages 8 to 12 – Publisher, Gecko Press – $16.99 hardcover


By Juan Felipe Herrera

The cover of this crazy collection of poetic scribbles identifies the author as poet laureate of the United States 2015-2017. He shares the secrets he employs to turn the wonder we experience in the word into weird, wild incandescent poetry. To jabberwalk is to be a poet on the move, scribble-poem-burbles-on-the-run. Ages 10 and up – Publisher Penguin Random House Canada – $20.99 paperback

Bringing Me Back

By Beth Vrabel

The themes in this novel are familiar territory in the middle-school category. Trouble at school, trouble at home, blossoming relationships, torn friendships combine in this engrossing story about a desperate boy interwoven with the struggle of a bear cub. The characters are so sensitively developed that the reader empathizes easily. Noah’s fall from football star to despised outcast, his mom’s incarceration and his guardian’s guilt are revealed as the misadventure of a young bear with a bucket stuck on its head provides some added suspense and contributes to a dramatic and satisfying conclusion. Ages 11 to 14 – Publisher, Sky Pony Press – $25.99 hardcover

Racing Manhattan

By Terence Balcker

There are a lot of teenage girls who are enamoured by horses but even readers who haven’t been bitten by the horse bug will enjoy this fictional ride. Set in the ruthless world of horse racing, 16-year-old Jay Barton has been living with her uncle since her mother died 8 years ago. While she loves the ponies that she races for him, she needs to escape from their troubled country home in rural England. She follows her dreams, overcomes obstacles and finally finds her way, saving a misunderstood horse, named Manhattan, and herself. Ages 12 and up – Publisher, Candlewick Press – $23.99 hardcover