Book Reviews: Fiction

In need of a great read-aloud book? Check out the focus book(s) below or click on a link to the left for other recommendations. 

Every book listed can either be found in the Powers' Library or at the Beloit Public Library.

Spot the Lamb on the Farm by Alexandra Koken


Illustrator:
Joelle Dreidemy and Mike Garton

Nelson's Starts (Out of 5)
5

Recommended Grades
4K-K

Summary:
Learn some interesting facts about farms (did you know, one cow can make about 400 glasses of milk every single day!) while doing some fun search and finds!

Why Read This Book?
I am in love with this book right now! It is a great way to increase vocabulary in young children all while having a lot of fun trying to find a variety of objects. If you enjoy this book, look for other "Spot the. . ." books that are in the series.

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Fox and the Bike Ride by Corey R. Tabor




Illustrator:

Tabor, Corey R.


Nelson’s Stars (Out of 5):

4


Recommended Grades:

K-2


Summary:

The animals love their annual bike ride. . .except for Fox. This year he wants to make it a dangerous and exciting event! Read to find out how he tricks his animal friends into the ride of their lives.


Why Read This Book?

The illustrations in this book are fun and beautiful--plus it is great to see how sometimes change in tradition can make for a lot of fun.


Year Published:

2017

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The Not So Quiet Library by Zachariah Ohora




Illustrator:

Ohora, Zachariah


Nelson’s Stars (Out of 5):

5


Recommended Grades:

4K-2


Summary:

Saturdays are special days. On Saturdays, Oskar and Theodore head to the library for a quiet morning of relaxing and reading. That is until the monsters appear and try to eat them! Join these two friends as they beat the monsters to save their library time!


Why Read This Book?

I love the imagination of the two main characters as they fight the monsters during their special library time.


Year Published:

2016


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Sarabella's Thinking Cap by Judy Schachner


Illustrator:

Schachner, Judy


Nelson’s Stars (Out of 5):

4


Recommended Grades:

K-3


Summary:

Sarabella is a bright girl who has a very hard time focusing. Her head is always in the clouds as she thinks about all of the "what ifs" in life. One day, her teacher asks them to do a weekend project and Sarabella's project--a thinking cap--is an instant success.


Why Read This Book?

This is a great book for all children, but especially those with an active imagination. They'll be able to relate to Sarabella--and maybe even want to make their own thinking cap!


Year Published:

2017



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The Bad Seed by Jory John


Illustrator:

Oswald, Pete


Nelson’s Stars (Out of 5):

5


Recommended Grades:

1-3


Summary:

Meet a baaaadddd seed. He does bad things--he's always late, cuts in line, doesn't wash his hands, and lies about pointless things. Others seeds know he's a baaaaaddd seed, but learn what caused him to be bad. Do you think he can change?


Why Read This Book?

This is a great book to discuss the choices we make and how we can learn how to make better ones in the future.


Year Published:

2017



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Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier


Illustrator:

Lee, Suzy


Nelson’s Stars (Out of 5):

5


Recommended Grades:

4K-1


Summary:

What happens when you open a book and a character opens another book? And then that character opens another book? And that character opens another book? Read to find out!


Why Read This Book?

I love the cleverness of this book. It will pull in even the youngest reader.


Year Published:

2013



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Little Red Riding Sheep by Linda Ravin Lodding



Illustrator:

Atkinson, Cale


Nelson’s Stars (Out of 5):

3


Recommended Grades:

K-2


Summary:

An author is writing a story about Little Red Riding Hood when a sheep invades his story! The sheep has many ideas for how the story should be changed--the woods are too scary, the grandma shouldn't be a wolf, and so on!


Why Read This Book?

This is a cute take on a classic story.


Year Published:

2017







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Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller


Illustrator:

Hill, Jen


Nelson’s Stars (Out of 5):

4


Recommended Grades:

K-2


Summary:

What does it mean to be kind? In this story, a little girl thinks about a classmate who was embarrassed and how she could have helped.


Why Read This Book?

Kindness is hard to teach--but books like this allow for great discussions to be had between parent and child.


Year Published:

2018


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Penguins Don't Wear Sweaters by Marikka Tamura


Illustrator:

Rieley, Daniel


Nelson’s Stars (Out of 5):

5


Recommended Grades:

K-3


Summary:

Penguins are beautiful creatures who spend their days fishing for food in the Arctic. All was fine for the penguins until one day there was a major oil spill in their waters. Humans wanted to do good--so they knit them sweaters to protect their feathers. But do penguins wear sweaters? Is this the best way to help penguins?


Why Read This Book?

This book can promote discussion about the role humans play in protecting wildlife. Consider discussing better ways that humans could help penguins.


Year Published:

2018



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Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev




Illustrator:

Yoo, Taeeun


Nelson’s Starts (Out of 5):

4


Recommended Grades:

4K-1


Summary:

Many children have pets that they love and of which they are proud. When one boy goes to Pet Club, though, he and his pet elephant are turned away from the groups because elephants are strictly not allowed. He and another friend find a solution to the problem so that all children and pets are included.


Why Read This Book?

Children can relate to the fairness in the story and can help think of other solutions for solving the problem.


Year Published:

2015


Reading Level

*But Always Remember That Reading To Children Is Just As Important As Children Reading To Adults*

J


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The Library Book by Tom Chapin and Michael Mark


Illustrator:

Groenink, Chuck


Nelson’s Starts (Out of 5):

5


Recommended Grades:

K-1


Summary:

A little girl travels to the library where she is surrounded by her favorite literary characters. As she reads the books, the characters come to life all around her. And the best part. . .the characters come home with her when she checks out the library books.


Why Read This Book?

Check out this video that goes along with the song (https://youtu.be/cbhsFINv0dQ). I love it!


Year Published:

2017


Reading Level

*But Always Remember That Reading To Children Is Just As Important As Children Reading To Adults*

J


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The Digger and the Flower Joseph Kuefler


Illustrator:

Kuefler, Joseph


Nelson’s Starts (Out of 5):

4


Recommended Grades:

4K-K


Summary:

A small digger takes care of a beautiful flower as a city is built around him. When the inevitable occurs, the digger finds a way to help the flower's legacy to live on.


Why Read This Book?

I love truck books that also make my young son think about caring for the environment and finding solutions to tricky problems.


Year Published:

2018

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The Five Forms by Barbara McClintock




Illustrator:

McClintock, Barbara


Nelson’s Starts (Out of 5):

5


Recommended Grades:

1-3


Summary:

A young girl finds a book that teaches one how to do martial-arts poses. However, it is only to be used by experts in martial-arts. Her poses lead to the creation of animals who make quite the mess of her home.


Why Read This Book?

Children can learn a bit about martial-arts while trying out some of the poses themselves.


Year Published:

2017


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Sparkle Boy by Leslea Newman


Illustrator:

Mola, Maria


Nelson’s Starts (Out of 5):

3


Recommended Grades:

K-2


Summary:

Jessie has a younger brother who loves sparkly things--skirts, nail polish, and bracelets. At first Jessie resents that her brother, a boy, likes these things. But when others start judging her brother, she realizes she wants him to be who he is.


Why Read This Book?

This is a great book for children to remember to accept others for who they are. It also can be a comfort for children who might have different interests than those "typical" of their gender.


Year Published:

2017



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The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken


Illustrator:

Luyken, Corinna


Nelson’s Starts (Out of 5):

4


Recommended Grades:

1-4


Summary:

The book starts with one mistake and how that mistake can be fixed to create a beautiful picture. Throughout the book, mistakes keep occurring and fixes change the mistakes into beauty and wonder.


Why Read This Book?

The illustrations are unique and require a bit of inspection. In addition, the message of mistakes creating opportunities is one that children need to hear time and again.


Year Published:

2017


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I Don't Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty




Illustrator:

Boldt, Mike


Nelson’s Starts (Out of 5):

5


Recommended Grades:

4K-1


Summary:

A young frog does not want to be a frog. He keeps trying to convince his dad that he should be another animal. But wait until the end, when he realizes that being a frog is just what he should be.


Why Read This Book?

This is a sweet book to remind children that they are loved for who they are. Plus it has a cute ending.


Year Published:

2015


Reading Level

*But Always Remember That Reading To Children Is Just As Important As Children Reading To Adults*

K


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Kate, Who Tamed the Wind by Liz Garton Scanlon



Illustrator:

White, Lee


Nelson’s Starts (Out of 5):

4


Recommended Grades:

K-3


Summary:

An old man lives on the tip-top of a very high hill. The wind on the hill blows his shutters off and causes quite a mess in his house. When the man yells for help, a young girl, Kate, hears him and comes up with a plan to help. Together they plant trees which don't stop the wind, but helps manage the wind for the man.


Why Read This Book?

Just read "More About Marvelous Trees" at the end of the book. You'll be a tree lover for sure!


Year Published:

2018



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Frog on a Log? by Kes Gray



Illustrator:

Field, Jim


Nelson’s Starts (Out of 5):

4


Recommended Grades:

4K-1


Summary:

In this great rhyming book, Frog doesn't want to sit on a log and tries to find other places to sit. But Cat always has a reason why the log is the perfect spot for Frog.


Why Read This Book?

Rhyming is such a challenge for children but it greatly aids in their ability to read and write. Fun books like this, expose children to rhyme (plus, you could think of other rhyming words that go along with the ones mentioned in the book).


Year Published:

2014


Reading Level

*But Always Remember That Reading To Children Is Just As Important As Children Reading To Adults*

K


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Elmore by Holly Hobbie



Illustrator:

Hobbie, Holly


Nelson’s Starts (Out of 5):

4


Recommended Grades:

4K-1


Summary:

A young porcupine, Elmore, has a hard time making friends because everybody is scared of his sharp needles. When Elmore learns how he can reach out to other animals, he is pleased with the results!


Why Read This Book?

This story does a great job of thinking through a problem and finding a solution. It might help children who are having a hard time making friends think of their own way that they can make friends.


Year Published:

2018


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Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Mot Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick



Summary: Did you know that Winnie the Pooh was based off of a real-life bear? This special bear was found and treated as a pet by soldiers in World War I and then lived the remainder of its life as a favorite pet in a European zoo. This beautiful story will make you want to pull out your Winnie the Pooh books and read them all over again!

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Ida, Always by Caron Levis and Charles Santoso



Summary: Gus and Ida are too good friends living in a big zoo. Every day they enjoy spending time together and being a part of their big city. One day, Gus learns that Ida is sick and that someday she will fall asleep and not wake up. Gus and Ida learn to love each other always. This is a heartwarming (and sad) book that helps children talk about loss.

Levis, C. and Santoso, C. (2016). Ida always. New York, NJ: Simon and Schuster.

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Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green



Summary: Hippo and Red Panda live in a run down, old zoo. They are bored and want to have a more meaningful life. In this fun graphic novel for children in 1st through 4th grade, we travel along with Hippo and Red Panda as they try out different jobs and find the best one of all!

I love using graphic novels as a way to encourage students to enjoy reading. Please consider trying out this book and other graphic novels.

Green, J. (2016). Hippopotamister. New York, NY: First Second.

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Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshow





Summary: Baseball is the great American pastime. . .and the great Japanese pastime! Explore the similarities and differences of baseball between two different cultures along with a little boy and his grandfather.  In American our game snack might be hot dogs, in Japan it is soba noodles. In America we stretch in the middle of the 7th inning, in Japan the crowds let balloons go! 

Meshow, A. (2013). Take me out to the yakyu. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
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The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds




Summary: Vashti doesn’t consider herself much of an artist—until her teacher encourages her by framing Vashti’s dot drawing. This sets Vashti into a dot designing frenzy! She makes dots by mixing paints together to create new colors. She makes dots of various sizes. And she makes dots, by not making a dot. When Vashti shares her work with others, she is able to encourage another child who doesn’t see himself as an artist either. Reynolds does a beautiful job of illustrating  Vashti’s dots while bringing the story to life.

Reynolds, P. H. (2003). The Dot. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.

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Pete the Cat: Pete's Big Lunch by James Dean

 

Summary: This early reader is about Pete who is hungry and makes too big of a sandwich! Not only does his sandwich have fish on it, but it also has an apple, hot dogs, a banana, eggs, and crackers too. When Pete realizes he made too big of a sandwich, he decides to call his friends. They all enjoy the sandwich together because, as Pete says, “sharing is cool”. Pete the Cat early reader books use repetition, humor, and simple messages to make reading successful for students. 

Dean, J. (2013). Pete the Cat: Pete's big lunch. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

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Other Great Books:
  • Trevor by Jim Averbeck
  • One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom
  • I Wrote You a Note by Lizi Boyd
  • Llama, Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney (great rhyming book)
  • This Book Will Not be Fun by Cirocco Dunlap
  • Beware the Monster! by Michael Escoffier
  • The Short Giraffe by Neil Flory
  • We forgot Brock by Carter Goodrich
  • Did You Eat the Parakeet? by Mark Iacolina
  • The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers
  • Geraldine by Elizabeth Lilly
  • Gus, the Dinosaur Bus by Julia Liu
  • Blobfish Throws a Party by Miranda Paul
  • If You Ever Want to Bring a Circus to the Library, Don't! by Elise Parsley
  • Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
  • A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Erin E. Stead
  • Walrus in the Bathtub by Deborah Underwood