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Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!

Written by Kyle Mewburn
Illustrated by Ali Teo & John O’Reilly

Universal issue that may or may not be a real issue. Everyone can identify and sympathize with Andy. In fact, this story is originally from New Zealand.

Andy has a problem. His Auntie Elsie visits. Often. And she insists on kissing him twice on each cheek as a greeting. He tries to duck the kisses, but she gets him every time. He hides under the bed. She lures him out with a truck. He hides in the chicken coop. She lures him out by talking about the chickens. He hides in a tree. She can climb. The real problem comes when Auntie Elsie doesn’t. Hiding from her has become such a part of his routine that Andy is at a loss when she doesn’t show up. She’s broken her leg and needs time to heal. When she finally does come back, he’s so happy to see her that he does the kissing.

Adorable mixed media illustrations complete the hilarity of this cute book in its current reprinting. Perfect for reading aloud or as independent reading.

  • Kiss! Kiss!Title: Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck!
  • Author: Kyle Mewburn
  • Illustrators: Ali Teo & John O’Reilly
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 20
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 1
  • Genre: Fiction, Humor, Family
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-759-5

Lion vs. Rabbit

Written and Illustrated by Alex Latimer

When is a rabbit not a rabbit? When it’s ten rabbits!

Lion is mean to everyone. But no one wants to tell him to cut it out. Bear loses a boxing match to him. Moose loses a sword fight. Tiger loses at arm wrestling. Rabbit shows up and finds the contests he can win at. Rabbit is better at marshmallow eating, quizzes, hopping, art, and running. But Rabbit is using a trick. What is he doing? Lion becomes very, very nice.

Cartoon-like illustrations add to the hilarity, and many clues – written and visual – help the reader figure out how Rabbit beats Lion. On many pages, an extra pair of rabbit ears appear away from the action. And the brainy rabbit is the only one wearing glasses.

Kids will recognize all of lion’s antics in what he does to the other animals: wedgies, silly notes, stealing lunch money. Great little book about bullying without the violence. Warning: Lots of humor here

  • Lion vs RabbitTitle: Lion vs. Rabbit
  • Author/Illustrator: Alex Latimer
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, 2013
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Fiction, Humor
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-898-1

Giant Pants

Written and Illustrated by Mark Fearing

Silly, fun, and hilarious, this new read aloud explores what to do when you can’t find your pants. Getting dressed in the morning, Belbum, a giant, is unable to find his only pair of pants. He looks everywhere – his bedroom, his kitchen, and his backyard. Angry and frustrated, he sets out to seek help from his friends. A cyclops offers a toga. Not a good idea. A gnome offers his extra pair. Not stretchy enough. A unicorn is not much help either. So Belbum heads for the village, pantsless. The townsfolk are terrified, but the tailor makes him a new pair and some spares. He leaves the extras with his friends, just in case. Arriving back home, he naturally finds his old pants.

Lively illustrations show not only the giant’s embarrassment but also the reactions of his friends and the townspeople. The feel is that of a fairy tale. Includes gorgeous end papers with a complete map of the giant’s world.

Best as an amusing bedtime story with interaction between child and adult or in a group setting.

  • Giant PantsTitle: Giant Pants
  • Author/Illustrator: Mark Fearing
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Fiction, Friendship
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-8984-1

Red & Lulu






Sweet story of a pair of cardinals that inhabit a Norway spruce somewhere in America. The birds, Red and Lulu, enjoy the holiday season each year. They love the decorations and the singing around the tree. Their happy life is interrupted when men come to cut down the tree they live in and cart it off to New York City. Lulu is still in the tree, and Red sets off to find her. Eventually, they reunite and enjoy Christmas once again in a new setting.  

There is a lot to love is this adorable new book. The story is heartwarming and informative. The illustrations are beautiful, informative, and highlight the magical feel of the story. Interestingly, the book lists credits for both the Empire State Building and the New York Public Library. Times Square and the George Washington Bridge are among the other identifiable sights.

The story is also about the long standing tradition of the decorated tree at Rockefeller Plaza. Though the author hints that cardinals are monogamous, talking about this tidbit might add a bit more credence to the story. Great as a read aloud or for independent reading.

  • Red & LuluTitle: Red & Lulu
  • Author/Illustrated: Matt Tavares
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 40 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Fiction, Family, Holiday
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-7733-6

Dad School

Written by Rebecca Van Slyke
Illustrated by Priscilla Burris

Do you think your dad is the best? How do you suppose he got to be such a good dad? Did he go to school to learn about being a dad? What would he have learned there?

This adorable book speculates on what goes on at a school where dads learn to be dads. The author lists many of the things young kids see their dads doing every day – things that make them the best. From fixing boo-boos to fixing leaky faucets, dads or other caretakers are well represented at Dad School. Dads learn to be chauffeurs, to be teachers of bicycle riding, to throw kids in the air, and to multitask. Of course, no dad is completely perfect, but that just makes them more human. They may not have learned to match clothes or clean the bathroom.

Done by one of my favorite illustrators in pencil and paint, the charming illustrations make the book even more fun and more expressive.

Independently read or read in a group where kids can cheer for their dads or whoever takes care of them, this is a fun and hilarious addition to a first grader’s reading list.

  • Dad SchoolTitle: Dad School
  • Author: Rebecca Van Slyke
  • Illustrator: Priscilla Burris
  • Published: Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2016
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Fiction, Family
  • ISBN: 978-0-385-38895-5


Written and Illustrated by Bethan Woollvin

A simple story with a humorous twist and simple yet entertaining illustrations highlight this presentation of the classic tale. In this version, Rapunzel provides her own means of escape. She could be a victim, but “Oh no, not she!”

As in the classic tale, Rapunzel is held prisoner by a witch, who climbs Rapunzel’s hair to visit and bring food and other essentials. Rapunzel figures out her hair provides a means of escape. Afraid of retribution by the witch, Rapunzel returns to the tower daily. She can be seen reading a book, How to Defeat Witches. When the witch discovers Rapunzel has been leaving the tower, she threatens to curse Rapunzel. So Rapunzel snips off her hair while the witch is climbing down. Rapunzel uses her vine ladder to escape. The best part is that the other witches are now afraid of Rapunzel.

The author’s fanciful illustrations add a lot to the story, with scenes such as the witch tumbling off the long, long hair.

Kids will feel empowered by Rapunzel not being afraid and defeating the witch. This would be best as a read aloud so everyone can cheer for Rapunzel, but independent reading is a definite possibility.

But were the witches frightened?

Oh yes, indeed!

  • RapunzelTitle: Rapunzel
  • Author/Illustrator: Bethan Woollvin
  • Published: Peachtree Publishers, October 1, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Fiction, Classic Fairy Tale
  • ISBN: 978-1-68263-003-7


Written by Claire Saxby
Illustrated by Julie Vivas

This cute new read aloud follows the routine of a young male koala. Readers learn about how a mother separates from the older joey in preparation for a newcomer. He must find his own tree, as older males may have already claimed the one he wants. Territorial claims can turn violent. The young male must also find a place plentiful with the eucalyptus leaves he will be eating. Koalas are so secure in the trees that they can even sleep through storms, with fur that protects them from rain. When startled or frightened, they can move fast on their hind legs like kangaroos. Lyrical text enhances the reader’s love for the gentle animal.

Meticulous and striking illustrations show the reader where the koalas live.

Filled with important facts for young readers, this would be great for classrooms learning about Australia, marsupials, or unusual animals and environments. It would also be great for parents just wanting to share with their kids.

  • KoalaTitle: Koala
  • Author: Claire Saxby
  • Illustrator: Julie Vivas
  • Published: Candlewick Press, September 5, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Creative Nonfiction, Nature
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-9481-4
  • Extras: Endnotes, Index

No More Noisy Nights

Written by Holly L. Niner
Illustrated by Guy Wolek

Funny and lighthearted, this a delightful way for kids to learn about how to deal with minor irritations and make new friends.

Jackson Mole moves into a new home only to be confronted by noisy neighbors. After an exhausting day of unpacking, he is unable to sleep due to the ghost in the attic “OOOEEEeee OOOEEEeee OOOing” all night. Rather than getting all upset and yelling at the ghost, he politely asks him to be quiet. The ghost is at a loss as to what else he can do. So, the next night, Jackson leaves the ghost a puzzle he can work on. Then the boogey monster in the basement goes “BOOGETY WOOGETY WHOOPS” all night, which calls for a train set to be provided. The pixie in the piano insists on “Plink! Plunk!” and Jackson gives her sheet music for a lullaby. All three become great friends of Jackson, who now gets a great night’s sleep.

The author adds humor with Jackson’s sleepy antics, like pouring orange juice on his cereal and washing his face with toothpaste.

Enchanting and detailed illustrations help to complete the feel of Jackson’s world, right down to the sorts of things a gentleman mole might have around his home.

This is best as a read aloud, but kids will enjoy it as independent reading too.

  • No More Noisy NightsTitle: No More Noisy Nights
  • Author: Holly L. Niner
  • Illustrator: Guy Wolek
  • Published: Flashlight Press, September 1, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Paperback, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: K to 2
  • Genre: Fantasy, Friendship
  • ISBN: 978-1-936261-93-2
  • Extras: Activity pages available on publisher’s website

Pattan’s Pumpkin

Written by Chitra Sounder
Illustrated by Frané Lessac

Great flood stories, as well as new beginning stories, are almost universally present in cultures throughout the world. This great twist on the flood comes directly from the Irula people of southern India.

In this version, a man named Pattan is growing a pumpkin, which turns out to be so large that even the elephants can’t see over the top. The original story had a bottle gourd, but the author changed it to the more familiar pumpkin. When the rains begin, Pattan harvests the pumpkin and hollows it out with the help of his wife, Kanni, and all the animals. They ride inside the pumpkin as a sort of ark, along with grain, seeds and herbs. Kanni sings lullabies to the baby animals to soothe and help pass the time. When the rain stops, they come to rest on the plains. The Irula people trace their ancestry to Pattan and Kanni, They still raise pumpkins to this day.

The author has deep roots in India and brings that flavor to the story. The illustrations have a folk art feel that goes well with this legend.

This is a great text for exploration of cultures in a classroom or just as a bedtime story to think about how other cultures might tell the story of Noah.

  • Pattans PumpkinTitle: Pattan’s Pumpkin
  • Author: Chitra Sounder
  • Illustrator: Frané Lessac
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 3
  • Genre: Folk legend
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-9274-2

Home in the Rain

Written and Illustrated by Bob Graham

This quiet little picture book is packed with love.

Francie and her (very) pregnant mother are visiting Grandma while Daddy is away at sea. As they prepare to make the long drive home, a rain storm begins. Amid terrible traffic, Francie watches the wildlife. A baby rabbit dives for cover. A field mouse hides under blackberries as a kestrel hunts for it. Fishermen are as wet as the fish. A family of ducks ignore the water on their backs. She amuses herself by writing names in the foggy windows. They stop to eat lunch and use the time to discuss a name for the soon-to-be new sister. Continuing, they stop again for gas. Suddenly, Mom is inspired to name the baby Grace, a magical moment nearly missed by the reader.

Their little car, now full of courage, bumped off down the road, the windows rolled down and wind rushing through.

The reader gets to meet Daddy on the very last page.

Detailed watercolor drawings adorn the pages and show Francie’s actions throughout. For example, it’s wonderful how the road signs clearly point toward Francie’s house.

This is perfect for bedtime or independent reading and is a must-have for families separated by the miles but not by the caring.

Buy on Amazon

  • Title: Home in the Rain
  • Author/Illustrator: Bob Graham
  • Published: Candlewick Press, 2017
  • Reviewer: Sue Poduska
  • Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
  • Grade Level: PreK to 2
  • Genre: Picture book, Family
  • ISBN: 978-0-7636-9269-8
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