Archive for September 29, 2017

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