2015: A Year in Review

Final Reading Count for the Year:
Picture Books - 125
Nonfiction - 11
Middle Grade - 54
Young Adult - 20 
Total: 210

Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud: 
I Will Take a Nap by Mo Willems
Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson
Seven Dead Pirates by Linda Bailey
Bug in the Vacuum by Melanie Watt
Moone Boy by Chris O'Dowd & Nick V. Murphy

New-To-Me Series That On One Hand I'm Glad To Have Found, But On The Other, I'm Seriously Horrified That I'd Missed Out On Until Now:
The Lost Planet by Rachel Searles

Sequel Happiness:
Standoff by Andrew Smith
Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
Thrones & Bones: Nightborn by Lou Anders
Wild Rover No More by L.A. Meyer

Books That Made Me Crave Food:
The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
A Fine Dessert by Emily Jenkins

Most Enjoyable Bad Book:
Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve

Forgettable Plot Saved By a Fresh, Honest Voice:
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

Books I Was Most Surprised By:
I am Princess X by Cherie Priest
Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill

Made of Pure Awesome:
Seven Dead Pirates by Linda Bailey
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Best Book Hidden Under the Worst Cover:
Friends for Life by Andrew Norriss

More Adorable Than Sparkling Puppies:
Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon

YA Book Most Likely to be Loved By Adults More Than Actual YAs:
Girl Defective by Simmone Howell

Biggest Disappointments:
Armada by Ernest Cline
Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Books that Invoked Irrationally Violent Emotions in me:
The Honest Truth by Dan Geimenhart
Revolution by Deborah Wiles

Books I Loved For Their Imperfect Heroines:
Believarexic by JJ Johnson
Sparkers by Eleanor Glewwe

Best Books For Wimpy Kid Lovers:
Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick
Kenny Wright: Superhero by James Patterson & Chris Tebbetts
The Terrible Two by Jory John and Mac Barnett
Teddy Mars: Almost World Record Breaker by Molly B. Burnham

Best Supernatural Book For Twilight-Haters:
The Hollow Boy by Johnathan Stroud
The Diviners: Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Favorite Roadtrip Book:
Moone Boy by Chris O'Dowd & Nick V. Murphy

Best Action/Adventure Books:
Seraphina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrup
Tombquest: Book of the Dead by Michael Northrup

Book that were weird just to be weird:
The Nest by Kenneth Oppel

Sci-fi's that made me think there is still a future for this genre (future, get it):
Mars Evacuees by Sophia McDougall
Stolen Moon by Rachel Searles

Books that had way too much going on:
The Marvels by Brian Selznick
Pennyroyal Academy by M.A. Larson

Picture Books that are just beautiful to look at:
Flowers are Calling by Rita Gray
Swan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova by Laurel Snyder
Butterfly Park by Elly MacKay

Books I lent out to people multiple times:
A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord
The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Best Books of the Year:
The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
Stand Off by Andrew Smith

Worst Books of the Year:
My Near-Death Adventures (99% True) by Alison DeCamp
Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

Have a question about this list. Wonder why I loved or hated a book? Leave a comment...let's discuss.

Is Mommy? by Victoria Chang Book Review

Is Mommy? by Victoria Chang
Illustrations by Marla Frazee
Publisher: Beach Lane Books
Release Date: November 3, 2015

Is Mommy tall or short?

Is Mommy fun or boring?

Is Mommy pretty or ugly?

You get the idea. Intellectually, I know this book is supposed to be funny. I understand what the author is trying to do with the children teasingly saying that mom is boring and short. For me, the humor felt a little tasteless though. I mean, this poor mom can't catch a break. Her children think she is short, ugly, boring, messy, old, mean. Of course, they love her anyway, despite all these flaws. Now, I get that they are being facetious and teasing, but me and my kids would be having a serious talk if they thought it was funny to call me these things. Kids can be mean enough as it is, let's not teach them that it is okay to make fun of mommy. 

Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray Book Review

Lair of Dreams (The Diviners #2) by Libba Bray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 25, 2015

The cat is out of the bag. The world knows all about Evie O'Neill and the other diviners like her. In 1920s New York City diviners are considered the cat's meow, making Evie an instant celebrity. Evie isn't exactly being the best of friends with anyone though. Haunted by her experiences with a serial-killer ghost, Evie is self-medicating with alcohol and celebrity.

Meanwhile, something supernatural is happening within people's dreams. The sleeping sickness is sweeping through Chinatown and beyond, the people falling into dreams and being consumed from the inside out. Within they are experiencing the best fantasy they have ever had, but if they should resist, it quickly turns into their worst nightmare. Dreamwalker Henry DuBois and Ling Chan find themselves in the dream world often, but have no idea that they are getting dangerously close to the source of the sleeping sickness. As Henry searches for his lost love and Ling becomes friends with another dreamwalker, their friends are trying to protect them from themselves. But they too are struggling with diviner powers. Theta is having trouble controlling her ability to set things on fire. Memphis, who is also in love with Theta, can heal again. Sam accidentally reveals his powers to manipulate people. Jericho is a walking, breathing miracle thanks to a secret elixir.

I love these books. Terribly creepy with complex characters that left me wanting more while giving me enough closure to feel complete. Evie is wholly unlikable in a way that was believable. Basically, this girl has some PTSD issues and is just a little too selfish to not self-destruct. The sweetest storyline was in Henry DuBois who is searching for his lover, George, within dreams since he has been unsuccessful in the awake world. It is heartbreaking the levels that Henry will go to to find the one he loves, no matter the cost. I could go on and on about each character and the things they are each struggling with, but should leave it with a simple note that every reader will probably have their favorites and unlike the first book, there is no clear main character this time.

Also, the amount of diversity and attention to each diverse character's story should be noted. Henry is a gay man in 1920-something and issue that was dealt with by his father exactly how you would imagine. Theta is a runaway wife who is in falling in love with a black man. There is a point in the story where they are walking together planning a date and when some people walk by, Memphis falls back behind her, knowing how people might react. Ling is a half-Chinese half-Irish girl whose legs have been weakened by Polio. She wears braces and uses crutches and has to deal with the growing anti-Chinese sentiment in the city. The complexity of it made the characters feel so well-rounded and real, rather than the caricatures they could easily have become.

A fantastic ghost story where you will never think of the song "Beautiful Dreamer" in the same way again.

My Story My Dance by Lesa Cline-Ransome Book Review

My Story My Dance: Robert Battle's Journey to Alvin Ailey by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Illustrations by James E. Ransome
Foreward by Robert Battle
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paul Wiseman Books
Release Date: October 27, 2015

When Robert Battle was a boy he wore painful leg braces. He never imagined that one day he would go to Julliard or become a director of a dance company, the very same one that motivated him to dance in the first place. This is the story of that journey from leg braces to martial arts to dancing. It is about passion and dreams. For Robert Battle dance was a way to tell stories and in this book it is just another way to share this rich tradition with a new generation.

When it comes to picture book biographies there is always a careful balance that must be made between the amount of textual information and illustrations. For me, there was far too much text for a picture book. Although I thought the information and story of Robert Battle's journey was fascinating there were times where I felt like there was too much information and at others, I felt like I was missing a piece of the puzzle. For example: It was a bit confusing who was raising Robert and why he was being passed around from family member to family member. Worse than missing this information was that this would have been a good moment to let the reader know how Robert felt about this, but what was strangely lacking throughout most of the story were feelings. Instead the story just felt glossy. Full of dreams and the fulfillment of them and not much else.

But let us not forget that Robert Battle has created some beautiful dances and although this book doesn't work for me as a picture book biography, it doesn't take away from the amazing accomplishments that he has achieved in the world of dance.

The Most Wonderful Thing in the World by Vivian French Book Review

The Most Wonderful Thing in the World by Vivian French 
Illustrations by Angela Barrett
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: June 1, 2015

A King and Queen promise to marry their daughter Lucia to the man who can show them the most wonderful thing in the world. Suitors descend on their Venice-like home trying to wind the hand of the princess, but even a display of a mermaid doesn't seem to be enough. While her parents are busy looking for a proper suitor, Lucia has been exploring the city with a young man who claims to know all of the city's secrets. When he finds out that the girl he has fallen in love with is the Princess, he panics, for surely someone like him could not possibly marry a princess. What he soon realizes though is that he has found the most wonderful thing in the world.

A very sweet romantic parable that feels a bit like a fairy tale and a bit like historical fiction. What makes this book really stand out though are the majestic illustrations. There were times where I wished the book was twice the size so that I could more closely examine the classical illustrations that filled each page with whimsical detail.

Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin Book Review

Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin
Illustrations by Daniel Salmieri
Publisher: Dial Books
Release Date: October 20, 2015

4 cups of Tumbleberries. 1 sprig of Sparkenfarfle. A few other random things added in and Flash Bang Boom, you have a recipe for Robo-Sauce.

This book is fantastically fun. One kid plays robots until he turns everyone into robots, with a fun...and quite literal twist at the end.

What we really need to talk about with this book is the production quality. For those who need reminding, book production is what I do for a living and after reading this book I took it to work the next day to show my boss and all our designers, because it was that cool. Let's tick off the things that make this book different...and expensive. First is the fact that this book is printed with five colors, the fifth being a bright orange neon spot color that really stands out in the world of traditional CMYK. The second is one of the most fabulous flaps I have ever seen. About 2/3 of the way through the book, a page pulls out and turns into an alternative jacket. (see the video below for an example). This pullout has metallic spot color and turns the story into another a way. Now, let's be honest, this book is not going to hold up very well to multiple reads at the hands of grabby little ones. On a design level it is awesome, but on a practical level, not so much. Don't get me wrong, kids are going to love this one, it's just a book that parents should probably keep on a high shelf to be read with supervision and librarians will probably pass on.

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older Book Review

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Release Date: June 30, 2015

Sierra Santiago was planning on a normal summer of hanging out with friends and making art. Specifically a dragon mural on an abandoned building that the city will be tearing down soon. However, with Sierra's abuelo nearly comatose upstairs and a weird guy creeping around the neighborhood, things are certainly not normal. Then Sierra begins to notice that the murals around the neighborhood are starting to fade. And then one of them starts to cry. Sierra soon learns about a supernatural order called the Shadowshapers who can connect with spirits using paintings, music and stories. Her grandfather is the key, but with him barely conscious, Sierra will have to find her answers somewhere else. With the help of her new friend Robbie, Sierra finds herself dodging a power-hungry madman while learning how to harness her own Shadowshaping abilities.

Have you ever read a book that came highly recommended and even though the book is dragging, you keep reading in hopes that it will redeem itself in the end and life up to the hype? That was Shadowshaper for me. So much had been made of this book, from the fantasy to the rich diversity and cultural influences. In the respect of diversity and culture, this book has it down. The language, the racist aunt who has problems with dark-skinned people even though they are brown too, the myths and stories from the Caribbean, and even the issues of gentrification and prejudices.

The problem lay within the plot. Despite seeing numerous demonstrations of shadowshaping it takes forever for her to "get it". This was frustrating in that there wasn't very much to get. Once the reader is made aware that drawings can be brought to life and there is a big baddie who wants to kill anyone else who can do this, the only other thing to learn is how Shadowshapers actually work the magic of it. There wasn't much of a mystery in the character of Robbie, although I think he was supposed to be mysterious. Sierra trusts him from the beginning, which means that the reader does too. Not that there isn't a reason to trust him. In fact, she trusts him so implicitally that when he tells her how to do the actual shadowshaping she doesn't question it for a second. He said it so it must be true.

There were the usual young adult romance tropes. Girl falls for boy ridiculously fast. Girl seems to be more focused on kissing boy than finding bad guys. Girl loves boy even though she barely knows anything about him. Because someone only needs to have one thing in common to develop a crush that turns serious in just a few days. Ugh.

Overall, I think this book's biggest issue is that despite the rich cultural aspects in the story, the characters were boring. Sierra is full of tenacity and talent and the author did a good job of making her feel like a real teenager, but she is so slow to catch on that I found her cloying. Robbie was supposed to be this mysterious artist, but once the mystery was revealed he was nothing more than a plot device. Beyond these two, the secondary characters were so flat that I cared very little about what happened to them.

My favorite moment of the book is when Sierra finally tells off her racist aunt in the epic way that many of us wish we could to those family members who are a little too judgmental. Don't get me wrong, Sierra has plenty of sass, but this was the only moment where I really liked her and desperately wanted more of that girl.

I would like to point out how amazing this book cover is though. The girl, the chalk colors, the juxtaposition of the city...perfect.

The Dragonsitter by Josh Lacey Book Review

The Dragonsitter by Josh Lacey
Illustrations by Garry Parsons
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 1, 2015

Dear Uncle Morton: You'd better get on a plane right now and come back here. Your dragon has eaten Jemima. Emily loved that rabbit! I'd better go now. I can smell burning. --Eddie

Babysitting a dragon shouldn't be this difficult, or at least it should have come with an instruction manual. The mailman isn't delivering mail anymore. His poop is well, huge. He's burning and breaking stuff. And Uncle Morton isn't answering Eddie's letters. 

Whether Uncle Morten really left the dragon because he was on vacation or because he simply needed a break isn't clear in the beginning, but it soon becomes clear that Uncle Morten failed to leave some very important instructions behind. The fantasy element, a dragon, is a bit confusing for clearly this is the kind of place where dragons exist and can be dragonsitted, yet no one has ever heard of them when Eddie calls for help. I don't think this matters in the slightest because kids aren't going to sit around deconstructing the internal logic of a dragon fantasy chapter book. And they aren't going to question the convenient ending either. 

This is a fun easy-to-read chapter book with the right mix of magic and humor.

The Gingerbread Man Loose on Christmas by Laura Murray Book Review

The Gingerbread Man Loose on Christmas by Laura Murray
Illustrations by Mike Lowery
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 13, 2015

Everyone at school is busy practicing their songs and making goodies for their trip to town to thank the community helpers, but the Gingerbread Man wants to make a gift for someone who is extra special. Weather gets in the way though and when you are made of cookie, things like snow aren't so awesome. Determined to thank his special someone, Gingerbread Man trudges on even as he feet begin to crumble.

What I liked about this book was the focus on gratitude. In a world that is so so busy, it is important for children to understand the importance of a simple thank you and the many different ways we can thank someone. More than that, there are so many people in a child's life that they can thank. The illustrations, as in the other Gingerbread Man books, are bright and busy. As an adult I did find the story to be a bit preachy and definitely pandering to the gatekeepers who will be buying this book. Kids won't pick up on this, but it was an element that I couldn't ignore. This would be a good book for teachers and parents to use if they need something to help teach their children an attitude of gratitude.

Samurai Santa by Rubin Pingk Book Review

Samurai Santa: A Very Ninja Christmas by Rubin Pingk 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
Release Date: September 22, 2015

It's Christmas Even and all Yukio, the little ninja wants is an epic snowball fight. But when his friends are too worries about being good little ninjas to join in, Yukio decides to sabotage Santa. It turns out that Santa can be quite a formidable enemy though.

For those who are martial arts purists, you will be happy to note that this book does know the difference between a ninja and samurai and they are not the same thing, despite the confusing title. And in true Santa fashion, even a Samurai Santa can give one little ninja the desire of their heart. Cute and fun, this will appeal to the kids who want a bit more action in their Christmas picture books. The real gem of this story was the illustrations though. The color pallet was perfect and despite not being able to see the ninja's faces, Yukio was full of expression.

The Trouble In Me by Jack Gantos Book Review

The Trouble In Me by Jack Gantos
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Release Date: September 1, 2015

Fourteen-year-old Jack is sick of himself. When his military family moves to a new house in Fort Lauderdale, Jack realized this may be his opportunity to become someone else. Sadly, that someone else might turn out to be a bad kid. Jack decides that who he wants to be is his insane, juvenile delinquent next-door neighbor, Gary Pagoda. Gary steals things, lights things on fire, does dangerous stuff, and he doesn't give a shit about anybody. Not even Jack. This is it though, Jack can feel it. This is the moment he becomes someone else, someone who may not be a good kid but at least he is interesting.

A fictional memoir, this is supposed to be the moment when Jack Gantos went from good to bad. He made the shift consciously and with zeal. The problem is that it is boring. The book is just over 224 pages and it takes nearly 100 pages for Jack to light a damn fire on the grill. Readers are treated to 100 pages of Jack having flashbacks and filling us in on his family life, none of which is very interesting and could have easily been summed up in a page or two. Now, if something really interesting happened in the book, I may have been more interested, but beyond some well-placed lies and a desire to be like Gary, I never actually saw him become like Gary. Since the whole point of the book is the moment Jack "went bad", I kept waiting for it to happen, but it never did.

There are some disturbing scenes where Jack obviously makes the wrong decisions and is saved by random happenstance, but I never got the impression that Jack would ever be like Gary. Want to know why? Because Gary is a complete and total psychopath. Gary enjoys hurting people. He can't stop himself from compulsively doing horrible things to other people. He is in a constant need for a rush and usually that means doing something dangerous.

Of course, this "autobiography" is fictional too because there were far too many times that I as a reader thought, there is no way that this guy remembers everything in such vivid detail. It's not like he kept a journal back then to help remind him of things. And unlike A Hole in Me, there is no redemption for these characters, which made the whole thing feel rather pointless, like some kind of writing exercise that just went on for too long.

The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi Book Review

The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Release Date: October 13, 2015

Diva is a small dog who lives at 11 avenue Le Play in Paris, France. Her whole world is her home and the courtyard right outside. That is until she meets Flea, a streetwise wandering flaneur who has traveled all of Paris and shows Diva world beyond her little courtyard.

A kind of Lady and the Tramp story sans the romance, with a hint of Aristocats, and a smidgen of Oliver & Co., this is the tale of friendship, boundaries, and bravery. A simple chapter book that may be a bit challenging for its targeted audience, but no less captivating in its telling. Diva and Flea, despite being very different challenge each other to do things that make them uncomfortable. What each discover is a world they couldn't imagine. Diva sees the Eiffel Tower for the first time and faces her fear of feet. You would be afraid of feet too if you were a very little dog. Flea, always having been an outdoor cat, cannot imagine an indoor world where food is brought to him whenever he pleases. I love these two characters and there is definitely the usual Mo Willems humor. More than that though are the beautiful four color illustrations. I am a bit confused as to who did the illustrations since both authors are also illustrators, so we will just assume that they worked on the illustrations together.  Kids are going to fall in love with this little duo and I am really hoping to see more adventures from Diva and Flea in the future.

Feeding the Flying Fanellis by Kate Hosford Book Review

Feeding the Flying Fanellis: And Other Poems from a Circus Chef by Kate Hosford
Illustrations by Cosei Kawa
Publisher: Carolrhoda Books
Release Date: October 1, 2015

What kinds of food keep a circus going? What else? Hot sauce for the fire eater. Ostrich a la mode for the gourmet lion. A rather strict diet for the tightrope walkers.

A book of poetry that tries hard to be Shel Silverstein, but felt rather hit or miss throughout. The rhymes felt forced at the poems were overly long, each idea going on longer a few stanzas past interesting. Some of the poems were interesting though and the kinds of foods that each circus act and animal ate were punny enough o get a few chuckles. On a better note, the illustrations by Cosei Kawa were fantastic, full of vibrant colors that made the turning of each page a feast for the eyes.

Lailah's Lunchbox by Reem Faruqi Book Review

Lailah's Lunchbox: A Ramadan Story by Reem Faruqi
Publisher: Tilbury House Publishers
Release Date: May 1, 2015

Lailah is finally old enough to fast during the month of Ramadan like her family and friends, but finding a way to explain that to her teacher and classmates in Atlanta is difficult. She wants to tell them because she is proud, but since they are all non-Muslim, will they understand? Mr. Scrabble, the librarian, has some good advice for her though and is able to help her tell her friends about her beliefs.

I wish I had run into this book last July during Ramadan, but alas I did not, so I must review it now in hopes that people will find it in time for the next year. The author, like Lailah, had the same experience as her young character. Moving is difficult enough, but when you start adding in language, culture, and religion, things can get hard. What I love about this book is that rather than be a didactic story to teach children about Ramadan, it serves two functions. The first is to teach, but this book can also be used for children who are having a difficult time in a new place as someone of a minority faith. There are quite a few children who may be able to relate to this story and some who may never feel comfortable sharing theirs, but this is a wonderful little book that definitely deserves attention for all students, Muslim and not.

Believarexic by J.J. Johnson Book Review

Believarexic by J.J. Johnson
Publisher: Peachtree Publishers
Release Date: October 1, 2015

When fifteen-year-old Jennifer tells her family that she has an eating disorder and wants to be admitted to a hospital for eating disorders, her family doesn't believe her. Still they drive an hour and a half to the Samuel Tuke Center where the doctors confirm that yes, Jennifer is sick. Once there though, Jennifer starts to think she has made a horrible mistake. In here she isn't even allowed to go to the bathroom on her own. One of the nurses hates her and is accusing her of all kinds of terrible things. She can't call home when she wants. The treatment program is insane, but Jennifer knows that this place will save her life. Forced to examine her relationship with her parents, friends, and herself, Jennifer slowly begins to find herself again.

When I first became aware of this book's existence, my very first thought was, "I'm not going to read that."It's not because I thought the book sounded bad. I absolutely love the author and her books. It's that I have spent most of my adult life being very careful to avoid anything that would trigger my own eating disorder. When I was struggling with anorexia, books were the first place I went to get tips and tricks. I attended the book launch for this book and even though I bought the book, I did so mostly out of support, still unsure if I would be able to read this book. Then Jen started to speak and she spoke about all my fears and how careful she had been to not add tips and tricks (because she too read eating disorder books as guides) and how she never wrote down weights. And I knew then that maybe I could read it.

Like Jennifer, my parents were not aware of my eating disorder. I was proud of how well I hid it from them and a little bothered that they hadn't noticed. Was I not thin enough to warrant their worry? Like Jennifer, I sought help on my own, although I attended an outpatient support group rather than admitting myself to a hospital. Yet eating disorders are so incredibly individual. No one experience can encapsulate them all and Jennifer didn't try to. She took that time of her life, carefully crafted into a story that is both fiction and non-fiction and created a deeply moving and transcendent tale. Although there are lessons to be learned here, due to its autobiographical nature, not everything is tied up in a perfect bow, which makes the story all the more authentic. The hospital stay feels real and sometimes unfair and very very hard. Unlike some of the other girls in the EDU, Jennifer actually wants to recover and this puts her at odds with them sometimes. I cried with her when she was accused of cheating the system and rejoiced when she made progress in her recovery. I loved the people she loved, like Chuck, and loathed Nurse Ratched...err..Beverly.

The book itself is organized extremely well. Split into parts by the Stage that Jennifer is in at the EDU. More interestingly is how the book is written in third-person stilted free verse poetry in the beginning, but as Jennifer recovers and learns more about herself, it turns into a first-person narrative. As I understand it, this is because the author herself thinks of herself in this way. Pre-eating disorder vs. Recovering from eating disorder. I understand why the book was fictionalized, mostly for visibility within the YA genre, but I did wish it had been purely autobiographical. Mostly because setting this fictional story in the 80s makes it strangely historical fiction, which (as someone born in the 80s) I am not okay with.

This is the story about a flawed heroine who knows that she needs help, but discovers that recovery is a lot of work both physically and mentally. Jennifer has clearly put her heart and soul onto these pages and I think it will speak to many people, not just those with eating disorders.

Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! by Doreen Cronin Book Review

Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! by Doreen Cronin 
Illustrations by Betsy Lewin
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 22, 2015

It’s the night before Christmas and all through the farm, not a creature is stirring, not even Farmer Brown is busy decorating his home in preparation for Santa’s arrival on Christmas Eve. All seems calm in the barnyard, but Farmer Brown isn’t the only one who is getting ready...Once again, Duck has gotten the whole barnyard STUCK in quite a predicament. Will anyone be able to un-stuck Duck and save Christmas?

As is the custom with other children's picture book series, it was only a matter of time before the Click Clack Moo animals became a Christmas story. In this installment of the Click Clack Moo books, we are treated to duck getting stuck in a chimney for reasons that are a bit vague. Just like other Christmas books, these kinds of stories often feel uninspired and gimmicky, which made it my least favorite in the series. It's not that the story was terrible it was just a bit Ho! Ho! Hum. 

Miracle on 133rd Street by Sonia Manzano Book Review

Miracle on 133rd Street by Sonia Manzano
Illustrations by Marjorie Priceman
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Release Date: September 22, 2015

It's Christmas Eve and Mami wants to make a Christmas roast just like she remembers from Puerto Rico. The feast may never come when the roast won't fit in their small apartments oven. Jose and Papa decide to take their roast to the local pizzeria to see if they will cook the roast for them. As they walk down the stairs of their apartment one can see that the residents of this building have clearly not in the Christmas spirit. Yet when they return a few hours later with a cooked roast, the smell of such a feast lifts the spirits of everyone they pass. Soon, Mami's house is full of cheer just like back home in Puerto Rico.

Ah the first Christmas book review of the season and what a one to start on. Although this is set during Christmas it could very well have been set at any time. At its core this is the story of friendship, community, and how all of those things can be brought together with food. It is also a story of longing and homesickness. Mami doesn't just want a good Christmas, she wants to provide her family with the kind of Christmas she remembers from her childhood. This is a sentiment that I can relate to as I am the kind of person who clings to holiday traditions, even the ones that may seem silly to some people.

A great deal of emphasis is placed on the multi-cultural nature within this community, which was both believable and refreshing. The illustrations are bright and lively and I swear as I read it, I too could smell that cooked roast.