Saturday, May 5, 2018

Mini Reviews [4] A House for Everyone, Africa Calling: Nighttime Falling & Chester Raccoon and the Almost Perfect Sleepover

A House for Everyone: A Story to Help Children Learn About
Gender Identity and Gender Expression by Jo Hirst
Expected publication: May 2018

Synopsis (via Goodreads): At lunchtime, all of Tom's friends gather at school to work together building their house. Each one of them has a special job to do, and each one of them has a different way of expressing their gender identity.

Jackson is a boy who likes to wear dresses. Ivy is a girl who likes her hair cut really short. Alex doesn't feel like 'just' a boy, or 'just' a girl. They are all the same, they are all different - but they are all friends.

A very simple story that challenges gender stereotypes and shows 4 to 8 year-olds that it is OK to be yourself. An engaging story that is more than just an educational tool; this book will assist parents and teachers in giving children the space to explore the full spectrum of gender diversity and will show children the many ways they can express their gender in a truly positive light.


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I received an ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

I wanted to read this book to my son because I liked that it conveyed an important message we don't often see in children's literature. Gender identity is this thing we hear about, but a lot of people aren't very educated on the vocabulary or concept. I'll admit that I could be more knowledgeable myself, and I feel like A House for Everyone did a wonderful job of explaining everything in a way that was easy to understand. 

Jo Hirst uses one activity to highlight a lot of different scenarios and gives appropriate examples for each. It's told from the children's perspective, which added an unexpected viewpoint to the story.

However, while this book was educational, it was not entertaining. I enjoyed it and loved the content, but my son was often confused and barely engaged in the overall story. He wanted to know more about what they were doing on the playground, what kind of blocks they were building with, etc. I'm not sure if was his age that caused the problem, or if maybe the story could have been a little more kid-friendly. It's a tough topic to appropriately convey, but if it's written for children it should make them want to pay attention, too. 


Africa Calling: Nighttime Falling
by Daniel Adlerman
Synopsis (via Goodreads): An African-American girl imagines herself in the jungles of Africa amongst lions, elephants, monkeys, and other animals.
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I received an ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

I enjoyed the story for this one, but the illustrations blew me away. They are so creative and eye-catching! It took us forever to turn the page, because we kept wanting to talk about everything we saw.

For example: A stick (real not drawn) is placed on the page, and then cut-outs of elephants can be seen in the background. The elephants are walking on watercolor grass with little pieces of live grass woven in.

Dirt is the background for one page with a paper snake crawling out of the frame, twine was used for vines... it was really a wonderful experience! Stunning, unique, and three-dimensional. 


Chester Raccoon and the Almost Perfect Sleepover
(The Kissing Hand Series)
by Audrey Penn, Barbara Leonard Gibson (Illustrator)
Synopsis (via Goodreads): “Are we almost there?” Chester Raccoon asked his mother. Chester is excited about going to his very first sleepover. After his mother drops him off at Pepper Opossum’s house with a Kissing Hand in his palm, Chester and his animal friends have a long day of playing games and eating snacks. But when the animals decide to bed down, Chester can’t go to sleep. While his Kissing Hand has kept him from getting scared, he isn’t in his own bedroom, and he misses his family. When Chester returns home, Mrs. Raccoon welcomes her little cub and reassures him that his home is always there when he needs it.

Young readers will enjoy reading about the party fun and take comfort when Chester finds himself in a situation they can relate to.

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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own.

I adore The Kissing Hand and love reading it to my children! I believe it expresses a mother's love in a beautiful way, and my son kept wanting to try it for himself! (For those of you unfamiliar with the story, the mother raccoon kisses her son's hand so he always has her love with him. If he feels sad, he just has to press that hand to his cheek to be reminded of his mother.)

Chester Raccoon and the Almost Perfect Sleepover was another wonderful story that we've already read more than once. Instead of starting school like in the previous book, he's going on his very first sleepover (which is during the day, because raccoons). We get to see him playing games with his friends and being excited about the idea of staying somewhere else. 

However, once it's time to sleep, Chester finds himself missing his mother and even his sibling. It's a story that shows children it's okay to have new experiences, but it's also normal to want what is familiar. He isn't picked on for his decision, but welcomed home with loving, open arms. I highly recommend any of Audrey Penn's books for children.

22 comments:

  1. They're all new to me but I confess that I don't have a lot of books like that. I love the cover of the last one

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    1. I love finding new books for my kids! We go to the library at least twice a week for new books, so I decided to start accepting a few for review. :)

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  2. The Chester Raccoon book seems like the cutest book ever! I would have to recommend that to my aunt to read to my little cousin.

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    1. We've really enjoyed this one and The Kissing Hand! They're great at conveying information in a loving, educational way. It shows different things a child might go through at an early age, and also how to handle those situations (being away from your parents for the first time, going to school, etc.).

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  3. These all sound fun. I want to check out Africa Calling now.

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    1. We really loved looking at the different illustrations! I don't know how common it is, but it was the first time I'd seen something like it. :)

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  4. I do get what they want with the first book, but sometimes they do forget what kids do like. More of that, and still keep the message

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    1. I agree. I think the information is important and should be available to children, but they have to want to read it. It needs to be engaging and educational.

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  5. I haven't read this but it sounds good.

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    1. You should try one (or two... or three...)! <3

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  6. As my niece and nephews get older, I'm always on the lookout for new books for them. I think they would all love Africa Calling, they love animals and the illustrations sound magical!

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    1. We're known as the Book Givers, haha. All of the children in our family (ours included) get books for birthdays and holidays. They're such wonderful presents that never lose their appeal, and also not something they immediately grow out of.

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  7. This all sound great but I know I would love Africa Calling. It sounds like the artwork is beautiful

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. It was! I loved the 3D feel of the images, and how they seemed to come alive on the pages. It was also interesting to see what materials would be used for certain things. I think you'd like how many dried flowers were pressed onto the pages instead of being drawn.

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  8. The illustrations for Africa Calling sound amazing. Sorry to hear your son couldn't really enjoy A House for Everyone; it's a great message/lesson for sure, but it doesn't sound all that kid-friendly.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I feel like A House for Everyone had an opportunity to really educate young children on gender identity and expression, but it failed to convey that message in a kid-friendly way. My son listens to me as I read, but the images and the story he hears are what captures his attention. If the words I'm reading don't come across well, or the pictures don't grab his attention, he doesn't really retain what the book is trying to convey.

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  9. It's a pity that the first book didn't deliver - it may be an age thing (maybe older kids would respond better to that kind of message), but a story needs to be entertaining if the author wants the message to get through. Especially with young kids. Then again, I'm impressed that stories of that kind even exist. It's a step in the right direction.

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    1. I was so surprised/impressed to find this book! It's not something we see too often these days. If it had been more relatable to my son (and other kids his age), I think it would have had more of an impact.

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  10. Africa Calling: Nighttime Falling sounds like such a fantastic all around reading experience.

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    1. We recently decided to make our own picture book using things from outside (sticks, leaves, etc.) because we loved the illustrations in this one so much! My son is going to draw the pictures, cut them out, and use what he found outside. I'm going to try and add words to what he's creating and see if a story can be made. :)

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  11. Aww! Chester Raccoon and the Almost Perfect Sleepover sounds lovely!

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