Children's Book List

Reviews of Children's Literature

Tricky Vic

By: Greg Pizzoli

The Impossible True Story of Tricky Vic the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower

tricky-vic

Summary: In the early 1900s, Robert Miller, a.k.a. “Count Victor Lustig,” moved to Paris hoping to be an artist. A “con” artist, that is. He used his ingenious scams on unsuspecting marks all over the world, from the Czech Republic, to Atlantic ocean liners, and across America. Tricky Vic pulled off his most daring con in 1925, when he managed to “sell” the Eiffel Tower to one of the city’s most successful scrap metal dealers! Six weeks later, he tried to sell the Eiffel Tower all over again. Vic was never caught. For that particular scam, anyway.

Rating: 3 ***

Although interesting, an odd topic for a children’s book.

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The Rise and Fall of Oscar the Magician

By: Matthew Porter

rise-and-fall-of-oscar-the-magician

The Rise and Fall of Oscar the Magician

Summary: When Magic Monthly magazine nominates both Oscar the Magician and Milton the Magnificent for the title of Magician of the Year, Milton will do whatever it takes to win the trophy.

Rating: 3 ***

A children’s book with a bad character who will do everything and anything to win. An entertaining story but a little drastic in some of the actions.

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Night Circus

By: Etienne Delessert

night-circus

Night Circus

Summary:
Artist Etienne Delessert reflects on his lifelong pursuit of art using the dreamlike scenario of a circus procession filled with fairy-tale allusions and literary inspirations

Rating: 3 ***

A circus of dreams, but not child dreams, the artist’s dreams featuring characters such as angels playing chess or Kafka as a clown. It’s unlikely many children will be able to relate to this book.

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29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy

Written By: Lemony Snickett
Illustrated By: Lisa Brown

29-myths-on-the-swinster-pharmacy

29 Myths on the Swinster Pharmacy

Summary:
A brother and sister wonder about the mysterious establishment across town called the Swinster Pharmacy.

Rating: 4 ****

Snickett is brilliant in his delivery of “myths” about this pharmacy, making young readers think what may be special about ordinary observations, if in fact, there is really nothing special at all, and further that anything can be special if someone makes it so.

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Shackleton’s Journey

By: William Grill

shackletons-journey

Shackleton’s Journey

Summary:
Details Shackleton’s journey to Antarctica. This book takes the academic and historical information behind the expedition and reinterprets it for a young audience.

Rating: 4 ****

The amazing tale of Ernest Shackleton and his and his crew’s attempt to voyage to Antarctica. Grill focuses on items that will be of interest to children, such as the 69 dogs, and weaves the tale with lots of illustrations for young readers.

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I Know a Bear

By: Mariana Ruiz Johnson

i-know-a-bear

I Know a Bear

Summary: Each time a girl visits a bear in a zoo, she listens to his tales of the vast and wondrous Land of the Bears, his home that he will never see again.

Rating: 4 ****

The book itself is anti-zoo. The little girl in the end frees her bird in the cage who then goes to live with the bear to keep him company. It’s pretty introspective for a picture book and will give kids something to think about and open a conversation about animal conservation versus animal ethics.

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The Queen’s Shadow

By: Cybele Young

queens-shadow

The Queen’s Shadow: A Story about how Animals See

Summary: Uses the story of someone stealing a Queen’s shadow at a ball to illustrate the different types of vision that various animals have, including chameleons, sharks, lancehead snakes, dragonflies, pigeons, and sea urchins.

Rating: 3 ***

Covers how different animals see different things and ways than humans. Young makes a mystery case that needs to be solved and the animals are able to give evidence that it was not them based on what they can and cannot see.

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What Ship is Not a Ship?

Written By: Harriet Ziefert
Illustrated By: Josee Masse

what-ship-is-not-a-ship

What Ship is Not a Ship?

Summary: Word groupings list three things that are alike and one that it is different. For example, there are living rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms, but a mushroom is not a room! Picture clues will help kids figure out which thing is different and begin to grasp fine-tuned nuances of word parts, roots, and meanings. In addition, the text’s guessing-game approach invites kids into a call-and-response dynamic.

Rating: 2 **

A great concept, but most of the groupings are well beyond kid’s knowledge. For example: the first one lists three bears: a panda, brown bear and polar bear. For the not a bear it lists the wooly bear which is a kind of caterpillar.

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Yard Sale

Written By: Eve Bunting
Illustrated By: Lauren Castillo

yard-sale

Yard Sale

Summary: Callie and her family are moving from their house to an apartment, so they’re having a yard sale. It can be hard to let things go, but in the end, it’s who you have – not what you have – that counts.

Rating: 5 *****

A sad story about a family that needs to sell their house because of financial problems as seen through the eyes of a child.

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Josephine

Written By: Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrated By: Christian Robinson

Josephine

Josephine

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker

Summary: In exuberant verse and stirring pictures, Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson create an extraordinary portrait of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker, the woman who worked her way from the slums of St. Louis to the grandest stages in the world. Meticulously researched by both author and artist, Josephine’s powerful story of struggle and triumph is an inspiration and a spectacle, just like the legend herself.

Rating: 4 ****

The book is written like poetry. It has a fluid rhythm to it. However, it’s a bit long for a story book.

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