Who Can Fix It? Written and illustrated by Leslie Ann MacKeen. Book Review.

The premise of the story is very clever. Jeremiah T. Fitz drives his crank up car every Sunday for dinner with his mother. When his car breaks down a series of animals offer suggestions on how to fix it. The ideas are humorous and clever.

The kangaroo suggests he check the jumper cable. The elephant suggests he check for a peanut in the trunk. The camel suggests he check for water. Some are a bit of a stretch such as the gorilla suggesting he hang around until Fitz thinks of an idea or the bear suggesting he scare the problem out of the car.

I really enjoyed the misinterpretations such as skipping rope with the jumper cable and removing his pants belt to fan the car. I think the book would have been better if there were fewer animals and the suggestions were expanded a little more.

The misunderstandings in this picture book remind me of the old Amelia Bedelia books. However, the vocabulary and situational humour suits older children since not many picture book readers would know much about radiators, fan belts, oil tanks and spark plugs. This would be a delight to a child who is informed and interested in cars. Although, I am not sure they would be satisfied with the idea that the spiders web stopped the motor from working.

The illustrations are bright and often humorous. I wonder, though, if it might interest children more to use a contemporary vehicle and driver. At times, the text was a bit of a tongue twister and I think simplifying the names would make it easier for a child to read.



Silly Scientists Take a Tip-Toe with the Tadpoles by Lindsey Craig. Illustrated by Ying Hui Tan. Book Review.

The silly scientists are a bizarre variety of aliens. Their mission is to ensure Taddy the tadpole hatches from an egg, develops into a tadpole, and then into a frog.


This is a wild and fantastical book for children who enjoy extensive zany detail while they learn a little about animals. The pages are fairly bursting with vivid characters. There are seven brightly colored aliens, numerous pond plants and creatures, and ten tadpoles. Younger children might find the illustrations a bit challenging but those that enjoy examining pages with a lot of content will be satisfied.


Although the story is fiction, there are text boxes that explain, in rhyme, the life of a tadpole. The last two pages explain metamorphosis, producers, consumers, and decomposers.


There are moments of humour in the book. Many readers will enjoy the mixture of fact, storyline, and silliness.




Little Pencil Finds His Forever Friends: A Rhyming Pencil Grip Picture Book by Christine Calabrese. Illustrated by Maria Victoria Flores. Book review.

I always feel a bit of trepidation when I get a rhyming book to review. It is so difficult to write well and too many people attempt it who have  otherwise never written in rhyme since grade school. Happily, Calabrese succeeds with this charming little story.

The pencil is sad because everyone else seems to have a job. The photographed hands of a small child use a ruler, clay, scissors, blocks and more while the pencil sobs feeling left out.

Variations on this refrain are repeated throughout the book:

Poor little pencil

Sobbed, “Boo-hoo hoo.

Poor little pencil

Had nothing to do!”

The author varies the verb sobbed exposing children to some interesting synonyms.

At the end, the child picks up the pencil and begins to write. We learn the correct way to hold a pencil if you are a right-handed person or a lefty.

The illustrations are an engaging combination of photographed hands and illustrated tools all with expressive faces. The colors are bright and engaging. The book is a large 8 x 10 so all children can clearly see the proper way to hold the pencil.

As a former teacher, I know how difficult it is to change a child’s awkward grip on a pencil once it has become habit. As soon as your child can hold a crayon, marker, or pencil, be sure their grip is correct. Not only does it help with letter formation but it is less fatiguing. This book is a great way to introduce the proper method with less conflict.

Buy link


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Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf Who Loved Cookies by Bonnie Ferrante

A new video for all kids.

Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf Who Loved Cookies by Bonnie Ferrante

Little Red Riding Hook packed a basket of cookies to bring to her grandmother for a surprise.

RED: I’m not sure I remember which way to go. I think it’s this way.

A wolf peeked out from behind a tree.

WOLF: Hello. Something smells delicious.

RED: Not me, I hope.

WOLF: No it’s in your basket.

RED: Here, take a look.

WOLF: It’s cookies!

RED: They’re for my grandma. But I’m not sure if I’m going the right way. She lives in a log cabin.

WOLF: I know that cabin. Go that way.

So Red Riding Hood did but it took longer to get there then she expected. Meanwhile, the wolf took the short cut and got to grandma’s first.

GRANDMA: What are you doing in my house?

WOLF:  Roar! Run away or else!

After grandma left, the wolf dressed up as grandma and climbed into her bed.

Just then, Red Riding Hood arrived.

RED: Grandma, it’s me, Red.

WOLF: Come in dear.

RED: I brought you a basket of cookies, Grandma.

WOLF: Thank you, I LOVE cookies.

RED: Grandma, what big ears you have.

WOLF: The better to hear you with, my dear.

RED: Grandma, what big eyes you have.

WOLF: The better to hear you with my dear.

RED: Grandma, what big teeth you have.

WOLF: The better to eat… all the cookies.

GRANDMA: I’m back and you’re in big trouble. I brought my sword.

WOLF: Don’t hurt me. I just wanted a cookie.

GRANDMA: You can’t just bully people into giving you cookies.

WOLF: I’m sorry but I just love cookies. I found one in the forest once. It tasted so yummy, I’ve never forgotten. I’ve been dreaming about having another one since then.

RED: You know, Grandma, maybe we should let him go. I don’t think he wanted to hurt us.

GRANDMA: If he promises to be honest and kind from now one. Cookies aren’t good for wolves anyway.

WOLF: I will be good, I promise. But I wish I could have a cookie.

RED: But you shouldn’t take food from people. We’re not supposed to feed wild animals. That’s wrong.

The wolf nodded and sadly went back into the forest. Once a month, Red Riding Hood brought her grandma a basket of cookies. She always managed to drop one on the path where she met the wolf.


Remember, never feed real wild animals.

People food is not good for them.

Animals should never lose their fear of humans.
It keeps them and us safe.

Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) by Eugenia Chu. Book Review.

It is great to see more books bridging different cultures.

Eugenia Chu has written a picture book about Brandon, a boy of Chinese heritage, who makes a heritage food with his grandmother and then gives it his own special touch. Brandon is a gleeful and active little boy who loves working with his grandmother in the kitchen. Children of all ethnicities will be late to the creation of goodies with a grandparent.

The book begins with a preface that explains the Chinese alphabet and characters and the sounds they make. It also shows the importance of tone in changing the meaning of a word. Throughout the story, there are Chinese care characters and translations for Mandarin words important to the story. The story ends with the glossary of Mandarin words and the numbers from 1 to 10.

The writing itself could use some tightening. For example the author has a habit of slowing down the text with phrases like “started to”. The illustrations are very simple pencil crayon drawings done in a child-like style.

This book would be of interest parents, teachers, and children, interested in multiculturalism. The author also has audio available for those who would like to check the pronunciation.

The Trick to Being Fearless by Sally Huss. Book Review.

Everyone has fears. The way adults cope with fears and the way children cope is different. The approach in this book seems feasible for young children and could be a useful tool for them to cope on their own.

The little boy in the story, Josiah, “was afraid of everything, but mostly he was afraid of being alone.“ He sees a speaker on television and adopts the concept of swallowing fearful thoughts. The picture book go step-by-step through Josiah’s increasing empowerment as he uses this technique.

It wouldn’t hurt to try the strategy with a child who is afraid of the dark or being alone or has other harmless fears.

The illustrations are cartoonish and effective. The text started out taut and intriguing. However I felt parts were a bit too long and some of the text was too mature for young children who would benefit from this book. For example “who had been assigned the duty of us sitting with Josiah, he saw a program that aroused his interest.”

With adult assistance, fearful children might benefit from this story. At the very least, it is a good launching point for discussion and the development of a coping strategy.

My Favorite Fifteen Fiction Picture Books I Reviewed in 2017

I’ve read so many wonderful picture books this year that it was impossible for me to shorten the list of favorites any further than fifteen. Click on the title to go to the review.


Monday – Favorite adult book

Tuesday – Five Favorite Young Adult Books

Wednesday – Five Favorite Middle Grade Books

Thursday – Seven Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books

Friday – Fifteen Favorite Fiction Picture Books

My Seven Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books I Reviewed in 2017

Some of these are not strictly nonfiction but I felt they were informative enough to include in this list. They are in no particular order. Click on the titles to read the reviews.

Coming to Canada: Building a Life in a New Land by Susan Hughes.

This is a nonfiction history book is organized into easy-to-read sections. Is quite up to date and inclusive. It begins with the arrival of the aboriginal peoples. It follows through with the Acadians and the Great Expulsion, an example of how prejudice and politics can destroy the lives of ordinary people. Throughout the book, it honestly shows the cruelties and failures done while building our country.


A is for Anaconda: A Rainforest Alphabet by Anthony D. Fredericks. Illustrated by Laura Regan.

This is not an alphabet book for preschool or kindergarten children. In fact, calling it an alphabet book could be misleading. It is, in fact, an extensive resource book for information about rainforests.


Why I Love Canada. Illustrated by Daniel Howarth.

I really liked this book until I researched it because of a small notation on the cover. Now I love it. Each of the sentences was written by a child in Alberta. (That explains the buffalo.) The illustrator then took the sentences and created the book. This is the kind of think I loved doing when I was a primary teacher. Children have a wonderful way of noticing the beautiful.


Eating Green by Molly Aloian.

Although this picture book is written for children, it is a reminder for people of all ages of the impact of our choices.


Herds of Birds Oh How Absurd! by S.J. Bushue and Deb McQueen.

Readers learn that deer, dinosaurs, elephants, hippos, horses, kangaroos, llamas, moose, pigs, reindeer, seals, walruses, yaks, and zebras all travel in herds. But porcupines, flamingos, hamsters, alligators, butterflies, lions, toads, ferrets, geese, nightingales, dolphins, penguins, hummingbirds, and monkeys are identified by a different collective noun.


Seasons of Joy: Every Day is For Outdoor Play written and illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart.

The book explores the four seasons, three pages dedicated to each one. The story is written in poetic prose and although there are occasional rhymes, it does not try to be a rhyming book. On each page, children participate in imaginative, child driven, outdoor activities.


Can You Say Peace? By Karen Katz.

Each double-page spread has the name of the child and the country she lives in on the left with a full-page bright illustration. A close-up of the child’s face on the is right with the words on how to say peace in their language with a pronunciation guide.



Monday – Favorite adult book

Tuesday – Five Favorite Young Adult Books

Wednesday – Five Favorite Middle Grade Books

Thursday – Seven Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books

Friday – Fifteen Favorite Fiction Picture Books


My Favorite Five Middle Grade Books I Reviewed in 2017

Click on the titles to read the reviews.

Erasable and Digby of the Dinosaurs

by Linda Yiannakis

Erasable: The protagonist, nine-year-old Ellie, discovers something in her grandmother’s attic that promises to solve all her problems. But like the genie who grants three wishes, one never knows where magic will lead. Ellie has little understanding of the karmic results of her decisions. What begins as little improvements cascades into major life changes, not all positive.

Digby: A little boy inadvertently finds himself in a secluded world where some species of dinosaurs still exist and have evolved to a higher level. But it is so much more than that.

The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library by Linda Bailey. Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson.

The reader can’t help but love the little hero, Eddie, a tiny bug who braves the huge halls of the school, dodging a spider, a mouse, and lots of squishers (humans who stomp on bugs), in order to find his missing aunt.


Tangled Lines by Bonnie J. Doerr.

The reader is given an insight into the daily struggle of fishermen, the risks taken by Cuban immigrants to reach the United States of America, exploitation of the natural world, the senseless slaughter of wild creatures, and the courageous and giving nature of volunteers trying to protect endangered wildlife and the environment.


Something Stinks by Gail Hedrick.

Emily is determined to find out why fish are showing up dead on the river banks by her aunt and uncle’s home. Her small town is suffering from job loss, so Emily’s investigations are less than popular. She decides to focus on an exposé for the school newspaper. Whatever industry she points the finger at may mean disaster for the company and, subsequently, the workers.



Halito Gianna by Becky Villareal.

Gianna could easily become one of your children’s favourite book characters. This is a determined, bighearted, independent, and opinionated girl. She is resourceful and clever.



Monday – Favorite adult book

Tuesday – Five Favorite Young Adult Books

Wednesday – Five Favorite Middle Grade Books

Thursday – Seven Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books

Friday – Fifteen Favorite Fiction Picture Books