Saturday, October 31, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 31


Well I made it through another month of reviews! When I did this last year I was working at the library, which made it easier to choose book to write about. I had the shelf in front of me every day.

This year I had to plan ahead a little more, and check out a stack of books when I made my weekly trip to the library with my kids. Some weeks it was very difficult to find books, because I'd already checked out everything that was back up on the "new" shelf, and other people hadn't yet returned the new books they'd checked out!

But I made it work. Adding in some of the new Usborne books each week helped. :)

Will I do it again next October? Honestly I'm not sure. It's an easy topic that will always be new and fresh each year. My kids will still be at an age where they enjoy picture books. I'm going to continue to review Usborne books throughout the year.

I guess we'll see where we are in a year! A year ago, I assumed I would still be working at the library...

Did you like this series? What other kinds of book-ish posts would you enjoy reading?

Remember my giveaway ends at 11:59pm EDT tonight, so hop over to that page and leave a comment to be entered.

Click here for the entire list of books I reviewed this month. 


Friday, October 30, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 30

Wild About Us! by Karen Beaumont. April 2015.

From Amazon: "Warty Warthog may have warts and tusks, but he likes himself that way! Join him as he celebrates all of his animal friends and the attributes that make each one unique. Whether it’s Crocodile's toothy grin or Kangaroo’s huge feet or Leopard’s spottiness, each animal is different. Wouldn’t it be dull if all the animals at the zoo—and all the people in the world—looked alike? A joyful picture-book celebration of everything that makes us individuals!"

My thoughts: There are a few picture book authors that get me really really excited when I find out they've written a new book, and Karen Beaumont is one of them. I was first introduced to her work with the book Where's My T.R.U.C.K.? and I just love her style of simple storytelling using perfect rhythmic rhymes. This book has beautiful, realistic illustrations of different zoo animals, and celebrates how each one is different. It would be a great way to lead into a discussion with kids about what makes people different from each other too.

Recommended Age: 4-7 years (but as always, my 3-year-old liked it too! :) 




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Thursday, October 29, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 29

Who Wants Broccoli? by Val Jones. June 2015.

From Amazon: "Broccoli is a lovable but rambunctious dog who wants to find a home in this fetchingly fun picture book! Broccoli lives at Beezley’s Animal Shelter and loves to show off his bowl-tossing and tail-chasing skills—and especially his great big BARK!  He dreams of playing in a yard with a boy. But when a boy named Oscar comes looking for his perfect pet, Broccoli is hidden away. Will Broccoli find his perfect home?"

My thoughts: The first thing my kids laughed at in this book -- "a dog named Broccoli?!?!" (if you look closely at one of the pictures you will discover why that's his name!) Most kids go through a stage of wanting one pet or another, and many specifically want a dog. But Broccoli's antics make many families choose something else instead. Finally a family comes who is looking for a dog just like him. This is a cute book about being yourself, and is great for any animal lover.

Recommended Age: 4-8 years (but my 3-year-old liked it too)




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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 28

Olga da Polga by Michael Bond. 
this edition: Fall 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 27

Little Miss, Big Sis
by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. June 2015.

From Amazon: "The big news is this—Little Miss becomes a big sis! In the perfect follow-up to Plant a Kiss, Little Miss learns the wonders of becoming a big sister as she and her family celebrate the momentous arrival of a new baby.

New York Times bestselling author Amy Krouse Rosenthal and award-winning illustrator Peter H. Reynolds have teamed up once again to create a charming story about Little Miss. Little Miss, Big Sis is the perfect gift for any child becoming a big brother or sister and any expecting families!"

My thoughts: Let me first offer a disclaimer -- NO this is NOT an announcement from us (I know you were wondering!). But this is a really cute book for helping an older sibling understand what life might be like once a new baby comes along. It shows the good and the bad, and ends with some sweet images that make my heart melt, since my two girls are at the age where they're becoming friends.

Recommended Age: 4-8 years (but the words and pages are SO simple it could easily be read to a 2 or 3 year old)




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Sunday, October 25, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 25


Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! 
by Doreen Cronin & Betsy Lewin. 
September 2015.

From Amazon: "It’s the night before Christmas and all through the farm, not a creature is stirring, not even a...duck? 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... Ho Ho OH NO! Once again, Duck has gotten the whole barnyard STUCK in quite a predicament! Will anyone be able to un-stuck Duck and save Christmas?"

My thoughts: TWO MONTHS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!!
Oh sorry, you want to know about the book... ;-) If you're a fan of the other books in the Click Clack series you'll love this one too. My kids were laughing out loud when the animals started getting stuck in the chimney. Everything works out in the end, and I consider it a simple, feel-good holiday book.

Recommended Age: 4-8 years (but my 3 year old really loved it too)




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Saturday, October 24, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 24

Izzy & Oscar by Allison Estes & Dan Stark. April 2015.

From Amazon: "Have you ever taught an octopus to roll over? It's harder than it looks. Discover why octopuses make the best pets in this charming picture book about friendship and embracing individuality!

Izzy has always wanted a pet. So when an adventurous octopus squiggles into town, Izzy decides to keep him. After all, a real pirate captain has to have a mascot. Oscar is not very good at going for walks or playing fetch. (Although he is amazing at hide and seek). And he's definitely not like other pets... But he is just right for Izzy.

Readers will be tickled by Izzy's attempts to teach Oscar to behave like a dog, a parrot, a pony-and gratified by Izzy's realization that in the end we love others for who they are...eight arms and all!"


My thoughts: This was a really cute book. An octopus for a pet? Really? I would never want one myself -- too wiggly, squiggly, slimy... -- but Izzy makes it work. The last couple of pages give facts about octopi, so this would be a great book for someone who love ocean animals. I just hope it doesn't encourage kids to take random animals home as pets! :)

Recommended Age: 4-8 years




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Friday, October 23, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 23

With a Friend by Your Side by Barbara Kerley. May 2015.

From Amazon: "With sweet thoughts about the value of friendship, this inspirational book preps young ones for the world beyond their own families. The striking photographs paired with poetic text will encourage more unplugged and imaginative play, help kids develop skills essential to their social and communicative development, and create a sense of belonging and security. Plus, we guarantee you'll finish the book wanting to hug a friend. A comprehensive afterword details the backstories of the incredible photos, which feature children and animals from around the world."

My thoughts: It's fun to find a picture book that uses photographs to tell its story. Put out by National Geographic, this book has 33 photos of children from around the world doing various things together, all in the name of friendship. Mostly only one, occasionally two pictures on each 2-page spread, there is a short sentence or even only a half sentence, so the pictures really pop and tell the story. The neatest part? In the back there is a map and small thumbnails of each picture telling where in the world the photo was taken.

Recommended Age: 4-8 years




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Thursday, October 22, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 22

P. Zonka Lays an Egg by Julie Paschkis. March 2015.

From Amazon: "Extraordinary hen P. Zonka spends her time taking in the beauty around her: the shiny green of the grass, the buttery yellows of the dandelions, the deep blue of the sky. The other hens can't understand why she never lays eggs like they do. Finally, P. Zonka gives in and lays an egg. To everyone's delight, she produces a wondrous egg that contains all the colors and designs that she has stored in her creative imagination."

My thoughts: I love the folk-ish illustrations in this book and the simple storyline. Though it was released last spring, just in time for Easter-egg-decorating, it's sure to brighten your day any time of year. I'll admit I was confused by the title -- a chicken named P. Zonka?? -- but a paragraph on the last page describes a "pysanka" and it all makes sense now.

Recommended Age: 3-7 years




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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 20

Beautiful Hands
by Kathryn Otoshi & Bret Baumgarten. 
September 2015.

From Amazon: "This colorful concept book reveals an illustrative surprise and reading delight with every turn of the page. Little hands can do so many wonderful things: plant ideas; stretch imaginations; and reach for dreams. Parents and educators will enjoy sharing the word play with young readers. Children will revel in the spectacular art created using thumb- and hand-prints. The book's uplifting message will rouse and motivate, leaving no heart untouched.

Based on co-author Bret Baumgarten’s experience of holding his daughter’s hands every morning and asking her, "What will your beautiful hands do today?", this book was created to inspire children everywhere to use their power to help themselves and others achieve their dreams. Co-authored and illustrated by Kathryn Otoshi (One, Zero, Two), it is sure to charm."

My thoughts: I read this book to myself this morning before my girls were awake, and if nothing else it inspired me to do beautiful things with my hands today! Some of the concepts might be above the heads of young children (lifting spirits, stretching imaginations), but that offers opportunity to explain to them what those things mean.

I especially love the ending pages that describe how the book came to be, and discovering that the handprints on all of the pages really were from the author's own families.


Recommended Age: 2-8 years




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Monday, October 19, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 19

by Charles Ghigna. February 2015.

From Amazon: "Who doesn't love springtime sun? Lyrical, rhyming text takes young readers on a journey with furry and feathery friends to experience spring sunshine."

My thoughts: I know we're in the thick of fall in the northern hemisphere, but maybe I have some readers who are in spring! :) This is a cute, bright book that tells all about what sunshine does to the earth in spring. "Sunshine spreads across the lake. Sunshine warms us when we wake... Sunshine beams through rows of trees. Sunshine sparkles on the leaves." There is even a page in the back with facts about sunshine, including a simple look at photosynthesis.

Recommended Age: Preschool - 2nd grade




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Sunday, October 18, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 18

Dilly Dally Daisy
by Mark Fearing. July 2015.

From Amazon: "Get ready with Daisy the dawdler as she tries (really!) to get it together in this very real, very funny spin on dilly dallying. Daisy Marsha Martin is always late. For good reasons, of course. She’s busy saving the world, or teaching her stuffed animals to dance, or finding the perfect shirt to wear. But if Daisy is late one more time, then it’s no more mermaid swim class for her! This is the perfect story for fans of everyday silliness and for every kid who has been told to stop dawdling."

My thoughts: How many times a day does the average parent say "hurry up!" or "come on!" or "let's go!!" While this book doesn't solve the problem, it does offer a cute look into one little girls' world and the reasons why she's always running late.

Recommended Age: 3-5 years




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Saturday, October 17, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 17

Ketzel, the Cat who Composed 
by Leslea Newman. October 2015.

From Amazon: "A kitten’s stroll down a keyboard leads to a celebrated one-minute composition in this charming portrait of a remarkable true friendship.

Moshe Cotel was a composer who lived in a noisy building on a noisy street in a noisy city. But Moshe didn’t mind. Everything he heard was music to his ears. One day, while out for a walk, he heard a small, sad sound that he’d never heard before. It was a tiny kitten! "Come on, little Ketzel," Moshe said, "I will take you home and we will make beautiful music together." And they did—in a most surprising way. Inspired by a true story, LeslĂ©a Newman and Amy June Bates craft an engaging tale of a creative man and the beloved cat who brings unexpected sweet notes his way."

My thoughts: We are a very musical family, my husband has written songs, and we had cats for a few years, so this was a cute book for us. It is a bit on the longer side, and is based on a true story (there is an author's note at the end giving more details), so while my 3-year-old sat through it and loved the idea of a cat playing piano, I don't think it was her favorite book. The rest of us enjoyed it though!

Recommended Age: 5-8 years




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Friday, October 16, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 16

Ask Me by Bernard Waber. July 2015.

From Amazon: "Ask me what I like? What do you like? A father and daughter walk through their neighborhood, brimming with questions as they explore their world. With so many things to enjoy, and so many ways to ask—and talk—about them, it's a snapshot of an ordinary day in a world that's anything but. This story is a heartwarming and inviting picture book with a tenderly written story by Bernard Waber and glorious illustrations by Suzy Lee."

My thoughts: I often get annoyed with my kids telling me "you say ___", as if they're bossing me around. But this book encourages dialogue like that, showing the child just enjoys being in conversation with the parent. The text is colored, so you know when it is the girl speaking and when it is the father, making it easy to use different voices for each when reading aloud. You could easily expand on the story, asking your own child if they like the same things the girl does.

I love the pencil sketching, it makes me think I could swipe my hand over the page and smudge it (though of course I wouldn't even if it worked that way!). This is a really sweet bonding and bedtime story for parents and children to read together.

Recommended Age: 4-7 years (my 3-year-old liked it too)

**Don't forget to enter my giveaway!**







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Thursday, October 15, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 15

I'm Trying to Love Spiders by Bethany Barton. July 2015.

From Amazon: "What do you do when you see a spider? a. Lay on a BIG spidey smoocheroo. b. Smile, but back away slowly. c. Grab the closest object, wind up, and let it fly. d. Run away screaming. If you chose b, c, or d, then this book is for you! (If you chose a, you might be crazy.)

I’m Trying to Love Spiders will help you see these amazing arachnids in a whole new light, from their awesomely excessive eight eyes, to the seventy-five pounds of bugs a spider can eat in a single year! And you’re sure to feel better knowing you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being fatally bit by a spider. Comforting, right? No? Either way, there’s heaps more information in here to help you forget your fears . . . or at least laugh a lot!"

My thoughts: As someone who would answer "c" to the question above (usually I search for the closest shoe), this book is hilarious. My husband actually picked this book off the shelf and handed it to me. :) It has facts about spiders, hoping that the reader will grow to like them, yet pages of things like "OH MY GOSH! THERE'S A SPIDER STUCK ON THERE! SMASH IT! SQUISH IT! GET IT RIGHT NOW!" with an outline of a hand drawn around a spider, saying "smash here". The author does eventually let a spider live, but discovers something else worthy of squishing...

Recommended Age: 4-8 years

**Don't forget to enter my giveaway!**





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NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 14 {giveaway is closed}

Secrets of Winter: A Shine-a-Light Book 
by Carron Brown. Summer 2015.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 13

The House That's Your Home by Sally Lloyd-Jones. February 2015.

From Amazon: "Like the bestselling title On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman, this picture book is sure to touch the hearts of parents, grandparents, and children. The tender rhythmic text follows a young girl as she moves through her world, while utterly charming watercolors bring that world into vivid focus.

Told in second person, as if written by a parent to a child, the story gently highlights all the love and joy that make the girl's world her very own, from the tree that stands in her yard, to the swing that swings her right up to the sky, to her bed that's a ship to the moon. A beautiful ode to a loving family from a bestselling author and illustrator."

My thoughts: This book reads as a beautiful, rhythmic bedtime story that would make my husband gag. ;-) The text doesn't rhyme, but it still reads like a poem - sort of like the lilting lines of The House That Jack Built. Kids will enjoy the references to ordinary things that they see everyday, and can spend lots of time looking at the beautiful illustrations.

Recommended Age: 3-7 years







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Monday, October 12, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 12

Woodpecker Wham! 
by April Pulley Sayre. May 2015.

From Amazon: "Swoop and land. Hitch and hop. Shred a tree stump. Chop, chip, chop! Enter woodpecker world and get a bird's eye view of everyday life: hiding from hawks, feeding hungry chicks, and drilling holes to build homes. Woodpeckers are nature's home builders, creating holes that many other animals live in when the woopeckers move on.A variety of woodpecker species fly through these pages―perhaps some that live near you!"

My thoughts: I like picture books that subtly teach about nature without being a true reference book. This one uses simple rhymes and realistic illustrations to show different kinds of woodpeckers and the things they do, then has pages of additional information in the back. I could easily see this being used in a classroom during a unit on birds, as it reads aloud well like a fun picture book but is all non-fiction too.

Recommended Age: 4-8 years







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Sunday, October 11, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 11

A Rock Can Be... by Laura Purdie Salas. March 2015.

From Amazon: "Rocks may seem like boring, static objects—until you discover that a rock can spark a fire, glow in the dark, and provide shelters of all shapes and sizes. Laura Purdie Salas's lyrical rhyming text and Violeta Dabija's glowing illustrations show how rocks decorate and strengthen the world around them."

My thoughts: Last year during write31days I reviewed this author's book about water, and used it in a storytime. I love books with good rhyming rhythms like this one! It's really a non-fiction book in a fiction book format, because there are lots of different facts about rocks as well as a glossary in the back. But it's simple and attractive enough for my 3-year-old to enjoy.

Recommended Age: preschool - 2nd grade

P.S. Happy birthday to my husband Rocky!!! It's why I chose this book for this day. A "Rock" can also be an amazing, funny, smart, godly, good-looking man. :-)









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Saturday, October 10, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 10

Good Night, Firefly by Gabriel Alborozo. June 2015.

From Amazon: "Nina is afraid of the dark. Luckily she has a nightlight, but one night the power goes out. So Nina traps a firefly to keep her company. She has a jolly time with her new friend, until she soon realizes that the firefly doesn't feel the same way, and she must let it go.
This irresistible bedtime story has stunning black-and-white illustrations accented with glowing spots of color--as magical as fireflies themselves!"

My thoughts: Now that it's fall, firefly season is over here in Michigan. But my girls know what they are, and we loved driving by open fields late at night in summer and seeing them blink with light. Even though my girls have a night light in their room, they still go through evenings of "it's too dark! I'm afraid of the dark!" This book doesn't really hit on "you don't have to be afraid" -- there are plenty of other picture books out there about that -- but it is still a cute book that makes great use of black and white with highlights of color.

Recommended Age: 3-7 years







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Friday, October 9, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 9

Ladybug Girl and the Best Ever Playdate
by David Soman & Jacky Davis. August 2015.

From Amazon: "Lulu is excited about her playdate with Finny—and especially excited about Finny’s Rolly-Roo. In fact, Lulu loves the toy so much that she . . . kind of forgets to play with Finny. So when the girls accidentally break the Rolly-Roo, will Lulu realize her mistake? In this compassionate and charming story about the value of a great friend, Lulu and Finny repair the broken toy, and soon forget all about it, blasting off on new imaginative adventures together as Ladybug Girl and Grasshopper Girl."

My thoughts: My girls love the Ladybug Girl stories, and as a parent I love how each one teaches a lesson. This one says it is "a story about the value of friendship." With both of my kids being in school now (kindergarten and preschool), they are having lots of chances to play with other kids and not just next to them. While sharing is a lesson all kids have to learn, this book takes the concept a step further and helps kids understand that even though they might really really want to play with their friends' toys, playing with their friend is more important.

Recommended Age: 3-5 years 







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Thursday, October 8, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 8


Troto and the Trucks 
by Uri Shulevitz. 
May 2015.

From Amazon: "Troto is a happy little car who likes to go places. One day after a long drive, he arrives in Cactusville, where he meets some big trucks. But when those big trucks laugh at how small Troto is, Troto doesn't feel very happy anymore, so he challenges them to a race to show them just what a little car can do. After Troto wins the race, the trucks apologize, and little Troto drives off into the sunset, casting a big shadow. "

My thoughts: I first had trouble figuring out how to pronounce the little car's name... does it rhyme with Otto or Frodo? We settled on Frodo, since the book begins with the car going on a long drive. :) It's a typical little-guy-is-bullied-by-bigger-guys story that ends with little-guy-overcoming-the-bullies. I would never have guessed Shulevitz to be the author/illustrator, as his Caldecott-winning books are very artsy and detailed. But sure enough, it's him -- and after a bit of research I learned he is now 80 years old and still writing children's books. How awesome is that??

Recommended Age: 3-6 years







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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 6


Templeton Gets His Wish 
by Greg Pizzoli. 
May 2015.

From Amazon: "Templeton the cat doesn't like his parents telling him to clean up, and he really doesn't like when his brothers steal his toys. So, he makes a wish on a magic diamond, and his family disappears! At first, Templeton is over the moon. He's free to lounge and play all day, and he never has to take a bath. But being alone might not always be as fun as he'd thought. Will another wish on the magic diamond get Templeton what he really wants?"

My thoughts: I feel like this book's message spoke to me more than to my kids. My girls are very much in an age of wanting to spend every waking moment with me -- "will you play ponies with me?" "will you color with me?" "will you read to me?" -- to the point where sometimes I feel like a bad parent for wanting to be alone (I am an introvert after all). So this book reminded me of what it would be like if I truly was alone all the time, and how much I would miss my kids after all. But they did like the book too. :)

Recommended Age: 3-5 years







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Monday, October 5, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 5


From Amazon: "A tale with many tails, perfect for cat lovers everywhere! Miss Hazeltine is opening a very special school for shy and fearful cats.  They come from all over, and Miss Hazeltine gives them lessons in everything, from “Bird Basics” to “How Not to Fear the Broom.” The most timid of all is Crumb. He cowers in a corner. Miss Hazeltine doesn’t mind. But when she gets in trouble and only Crumb knows where she is, will he find his inner courage and lead a daring rescue?

Filled with adorable illustrations and ideal for fans of Disappearing Desmond and The Invisible Boy, Miss Hazeltine’s Home for Shy and Fearful Cats is a story that’s perfect for shy and fearful children as it both helps them face scary situations and accepts them just as they are."


My thoughts: This story was a bit extra-special for us as we just gave away our cats a couple of weeks ago. My girls have been scared of the dark a few times in the night, so it was fun pointing out how the cat Crumb overcame his fear to help his friend.

Recommended Age: 5-8 years (my 3-year-old liked it too)





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Sunday, October 4, 2015

NEW Kids Picture Books: Day 4

Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story 
by Emily Arnold McCully. February 2015.

From Amazon: "Lizzie Murphy was good at baseball. In fact, she was better than most of the boys. But she was born in 1900, and back then baseball was not a game for girls. Lizzie practiced with her brother anyway, and then she talked her way onto the local boys' team, first as a batboy, then as a player. Everyone was impressed by her hard catches and fast pitches. By the time she turned fifteen, she was playing for two different amateur boys' teams. When she turned eighteen, Lizzie did something else that women weren't supposed to do: she signed up with a professional baseball team, determined to earn her living playing the game."

My thoughts: I've followed baseball a bit over the years and have to admit I'd never heard of Lizzie Murphy. Maybe it's because she played in the early 1900s, but I still would have thought her name would come up like Babe Ruth or Jackie Robinson as part of the history of the game. Oh well, maybe I'm just not paying attention. :)

Anyway, I thought this was a neat book as a sort of simple biography, a good stepping stone into finding out more about her. I read it to my kids, who weren't really interested in it, but they did  listen to the whole thing. I learned some things, but my kids haven't asked me to read it again yet. Maybe if we watch some more October baseball together they'll be interested. Oh wait, our Tigers aren't doing so well this year...

Recommended Age: 5-8 years







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