Vampirina at the Beach: Anne Marie Pace and LeUyen Pham

Book: Vampirina at the Beach
Author: Anne Marie Pace
Pages: LeUyen Pham
Age Range: 4-8

VampirinaBeachVampirina at the Beach is the third book in the Vampirina series, written by Anne Marie Pace and illustrated by LeUyen Pham. Vampirina is a joyful young vampire with fangs and pale skin. In this entertaining picture book, Vampirina and her parents, along with a host of ghoulish friends, go to spend a full moon-lit evening at the beach. Pace's text doesn't directly address the fact that the various people in the story are non-human. She just shares things that are fun about visiting the beach, together with practical safety tips, leaving Pham to provide the visual, and unconventional, details.

For instance, we have this text over a couple of page spreads:

"When the waves are breaking, just right,
give surfing a whirl.

Practice your best ballet posture:
catch a wave,
and ride,

This spread is accompanied by vignettes that show Vampirina dragging a new, apparently human, friend out onto a gravestone-like surfboard. As the kids are trailed by a green octopus, the moon comes out from behind the clouds, and the friend is revealed to be not-so-human after all. Other spreads show sunken ships, pirate ghosts, and treasure maps, as well as supernatural creatures of all sorts doing relatively ordinary things, like playing beach volleyball and building sand castles. Turns out that being able to turn into a bat is useful in adding decorations to the tippy top of a castle. A fold-out spread in the middle of the book ramps up the action with a dance party. 

Vampirina at the Beach is full of entertaining monster details that will reward multiple inspections. These are set against a comforting backdrop of family fun and friendship. The closing image, of Vampirina and her friend sitting back-to-back eating roasted marshmallows beneath a full moon will make any kid smile. Pham manages to make the various monsters a mix of grotesque and cute, with Vampirina herself falling on the cute side, of course. 

Because so much of the fun of Vampirina at the Beach is visual, mainly in the form of multiple small illustrations per page, I think this is a better book for reading alone, or with a parent, rather than for a larger storytime. I think that first and second graders might be more receptive to the humor than preschoolers will, too, which also supports the read-alone, pore over it time and time again, hypothesis. Fans of the earlier two books will certainly want to give Vampirina at the Beach a look. It stands alone just fine, however (I have not read the other two books), and is a fun choice for celebrating the start of summer and beach season. Recommended! 

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion 
Publication Date: April 4, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Links I Shared on Twitter this Week: April 14: Book Deserts, Judy Blume, Harry Potter, and #STEM

TwitterLinksHere are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics inclue #BookLists, #DiverseBooks, #Makerspace, #Math, #PictureBooks, #STEM, children's literacy, creativity, Harry Potter, Judy Blume, Kidlitosphere, poetry, raising readers, schools, science fiction, summer reading, and teaching. 

Awards and Book Lists

SuperfudgeJudy Blume to receive lifetime achievement award from American Academy of Arts + Letters  #Writing #kidlit @USATODAY

Passover #PictureBooks, a #BookList @HornBook   


The Power of Representation: finding yourself in @diversebooks by @ElloEllenOh @nerdybookclub  #kidlit

Growing Bookworms

Yes! Reasons not to assign required #SummerReading titles + what to do instead to encourage #reading @pernilleripp

A highlight from Pernille Ripp's post: "Why not create reading experiences that actually entices further reading, rather than further dictation of what kids are expected to read?  Perhaps now would be a good time to examine our summer reading practices before the damage is potentially done."

The best way to improve kids' reading test scores? Provide access to books, encourage free choice...  @donalynbooks

A bit more from the Donalyn Miller's post: "Even in middle-income communities, we create book deserts for too many children through misguided efforts that level, limit, control, and define when and where and what children will read. We test and test kids while providing few opportunities to improve their reading skills in the only way that works—lots of successful, engaging reading experiences. This man-made desertification ensures that fewer children will read well or become engaged readers each year." (There's lots more: do go and read the whole post!

OwlAndPussycatBedtime #Poetry: The One Thing Your Child Will Remember Forever by @momandkiddo #ReadAloud #Parenting

My recent post on Drawing inferences: Why it's a key #literacy skill is up as a guest article @JGCanada's blog

Donating Character-Developing, Idea-Generating, World-Building Books: The Beginning by @rmackwrites @nerdybookclub


Extra-good week for @charlotteslib round-up of middle grade fantasy + science fiction from around the blogs  #kidlit 

The 2017 #Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem -- Line #8 from @MaryLeeHahn  #poetry

On Reading, Writing, Blogging, and Publishing

BabymouseLockerThis makes me feel so old: Babymouse is heading to ... MIDDLE SCHOOL!?!?!?! @jenniholm @mattholm @randomhousekids 

Inspiring story of writer Bob Greene who tracked down + thanked the first grade teacher who taught him to read  @WSJ

New DNA Study Finds Genes May Significantly Impact #Reading Ability | Traci Pedersen @PsychCentral  via @tashrow 

Schools and Libraries

Homework: Helpful, Harmful, or Otherwise? asks @ReadByExample| Is it more important than #play, #reading, family?

HarryPotterBook1I love this: 10 Teachable Moments From #HarryPotter and the Sorcerer's Stone - @mssackstein @educationweek  (Good for parents, too!)

How #School Kills #Creativity And How To Fix It - @focus2achieve @BAMRadioNetwork  #GeniusHour #PBL #IdeaMachines


3 #Math Games Kids Love | @mathgeekmama guest post @thisreadingmama  #STEM 

Inspiring #Creativity With A Simple Home #Makerspace, Plus Airplane Activities for Kids @mamasmiles

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Mosquitoes Can't Bite Ninjas: Jordan P. Novak

Book: Mosquitoes Can't Bite Ninjas
Author: Jordan P. Novak
Pages: 32
Age Range: 2-5

MosquitoesCantBiteNinjasMosquitoes Can't Bite Ninjas, by Jordan P. Novak, is just what it sounds like, a picture book that celebrates the triumph of a young ninja over a garden variety mosquito. Novak first recaps the categories of people that mosquitos do bite (swimmers, etc.). Then he shows that, despite being sneaky, quick, and persistent, mosquitoes are no match for the stealth, speed, and creativity of the ninja. He even introduces a baby ninja-in-training who has skills of his (?) own. The ending, in which the ninja ends up accidentally eating the mosquito, is a little bit disgusting, but definitely kid-appealing. It adds a nice twist to a story that might otherwise have been a bit too straightforward. 

This is a picture book for younger listeners. The text is minimal, and the digitally colored illustrations are bold and simple. I like the fact that the little we can see of the skin of the ninja siblings is brownish in color - not terribly dark, but at least dark enough to give some ambiguity. I also like how Novak can convey the ninja's attitude through his stance, when all we can really see of his face is his round eyes. 

Even though, at seven, she's a bit older than the target age range for this book, my ninja-obsessed daughter loved this book. What budding ninja wouldn't want to read:

"Mosquitoes try...
and try...
and try...

but a mosquito is no match

for a ninja."

Mosquitoes are universal. Ninjas are universally cool. Mosquitoes Can't Bite Ninja's belongs in libraries serving preschoolers. It would make an excellent start-of-summer storytime book. But parents should beware. It may awaken in their children the desire to become ninjas. In my experience, there are worst things. Recommended!

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books (@BloomsburyKids)
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: April 12: Baby Bookworm's 7th Birthday Edition

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on growing joyful learners, mainly bookworms, but also mathematicians and learners of all types. The newsletter is sent out every two to three weeks.

Newsletter Update:  In this relatively brief issue I have four book reviews (picture book and middle grade) and one post with my daughter's latest literacy milestone (making inferences). I also have two posts with links that I shared recently on Twitter. I've had a bit less time for blogging than usual because I've been busy helping my daughter celebrate her 7th birthday. I'll also be taking some time off for her upcoming spring break, and expect to be back with another newsletter in three weeks. 

Reading Update: In the last two weeks I finished two young adult novels, two adult novels, and one adult nonfiction title. I read/listened to: 

  • Chris Weitz: The New Order (The Young World, Book 2). Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. YA Science Fiction. Completed March 31, 2017, on Kindle.
  • TheRevivalChris Weitz: The Revival (The Young World, Book 3). Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. YA Science Fiction. Completed April 3, 2017, on Kindle. I had read the first book in this post-apocalyptic trilogy a couple of years ago, but somehow never went back and read the other two books. These were just what I needed during a quiet weekend in Lake Tahoe. While I don't plan a formal review, I do recommend this series to fans of YA dystopia. It's set in a post-plague New York City, after the plague has left only teens alive, but with a ticking clock for each of them. There are warring tribes of kids, grim battles, and scientific efforts to find a cure. The cast is nicely diverse, too, with shifting first person viewpoints between a number of distinct characters. 
  • Angela Duckworth: Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Scribner. Adult Nonfiction. Completed March 29, 2017, on Kindle. I've been familiar with the concept of grit for a while. My takeaway from reading the full book was the importance of the passion element - I think we tend to think of grit as just endless persistence. But it's really persistence towards something that is personally important. Grit held my interest, and I do continue to think about it now, a couple of weeks after finishing it. 
  • C. J. Box: Vicious Circle (Joe Pickett series). G.P. Putnam's Sons. Adult Mystery. Completed April 3, 2017, on MP3. Although I've been hooked on this series for a while, the bleakness of it is starting to wear on me a bit. I don't think that the next one (presumably due out next year) will be an automatic purchase, but I think it will depend on my mood when the time comes. 
  • Charlaine Harris: All the Little Liars (Aurora Teagarden, No. 9). Berkley. Adult Mystery. Completed April 7, 2017, on MP3. I am also now caught up with this series, which I enjoyed. It's the only one I've read by Harris that doesn't include supernatural occurrences, and I quite like the librarian main character. In the books, about 8 years pass for the main character between books 1 and 9. In real time, something like 26 years have passed. Harris handles this by merely referencing the most current technology in each book, and not getting too hung up on the details, which does pretty much work. I've been reading other series that started quite some time ago, and I just find it interesting to note how authors manage this (e.g. Sue Grafton, who has basically stayed in the 80's with her character).  

SquishCaptainI'm currently listening to Iron Lake by William Kent Krueger (first book in the Cork O'Connor series). I'm reading This Is Just a Test by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang in print and reading Solitude: In Pursuit of a Singular Life in a Crowded World by Michael Harris on my Kindle. I'm still reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling to my daughter. We are about 3/4 of the way through, and it's been a great reading experience. I think we're going to take a break after this, though, before moving on to even longer and darker books in the series.

VampirinaBeachMy daughter has also continued to enjoy the Squish series by Jenni Holm and Matt Holm. The other day, instead of opening some recently arrived birthday presents, she elected to go upstairs and read Squish: Captain Disaster in my bed. Needless to say, I did not object. She's also reading the Fantastic Frame series by Lin Oliver (a recommendation from a friend). Her newest picture book recommendation is Vampirina at the Beach by Anne Marie Pace and LeUyen Pham, which she liked very much and suggested that I review (and I will). You can find her 2017 reading list here

Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

Duck, Duck, Dinosaur and the Noise at Night: Kallie George & Oriol Vidal

Book: Duck, Duck, Dinosaur and the Noise at Night
Author: Kallie George
Illustrator: Oriol Vidal
Pages: 40
Age Range: 3-6

DuckDinosaurNoiseNightDuck, Duck, Dinosaur and the Noise at Night is the sequel to Duck, Duck, Dinosaur by Kallie George and Oriol Vidal. Both books feature a family with three siblings: two little ducks, Flap and Feather, and a much bigger dinosaur, Spike. In this installment, Mama Duck tells the siblings that it's time for them to "sleep all by themselves in their very own nest." They are initially proud and "only a little scared." Until a big, scary noise wakes them up, that is. They try hiding from the noise, and running away from the noise, and even scaring the noise. But the noise keeps following them. Sleep is impossible until they figure out just what the noise is.

My favorite part? At the very end of the book, we see that Mama Duck has been keeping watch all along, leaving it to the kids to solve their own problem. 

This is a text that calls out for reading aloud. The noise is rendered in huge block letters, to show how loud it is. There are calls from Spike to "HIDE!" and sound effects when their knees knock and teeth chatter. There is some repetition to the text which my six-year-old eventually had me skip over, but which I think will work well for preschoolers. Like this:

"They shared a story. They shared a snuggle. They sang a song. They counted the stars.

Then, at least, they fell asleep." 

This bedtime ritual repeats throughout the story. 

Vidal's digitally created illustrations are eye-catching and slightly stylized (particularly the backgrounds). He captures the coziness of the snuggling, and the utter exhaustion of the siblings as their night keeps being interrupted. The round eyes of all three after each scare made me laugh, and the fond smile of Mama Duck at the end made me smile, too. 

The source of the noise will be readily apparent to adult readers, but I don't think that kids will catch on. Duck, Duck, Dinosaur and the Noise at Night is a book that has an age-appropriate hint of scary for preschoolers, but ultimately will leave young listeners with a warm, safe feeling. It is fun to read aloud, and kids will enjoy poring over the illustrations. Fans of the first book will certainly want to take a look at this one, and librarians will find it well worth a look for preschool storytime. 

Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens)
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2017 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).