Reach & Read: Book Review Round-Up for February 2018

January and February have been busy, so I know I am missing things, but for sure want to share reviews of some of the books we read this month!

Mela and the Elephant by Dow Phumiruk and illustrated by Ziyue Chen

Mela (‘may-la’) learns about kindness and empathy in this new simple fable set in Thailand. Her wild fishing adventure started right after not all wing her younger brother to join, as he had nothing to give her in return. Encounters with greedy jungle animals (crocodile, leopard and trio of monkeys), leaves her alone, scared and probably wincing from having given something of value in hopes for help getting home. Each animal leaves her behind, item in hand. The elephant is the final animal who comforts and returns Mela home, all the while reassuring that he did not need a reward.

My three year old loves this story. The story line and pictures draw him in, and he responds to the feelings expressed by Mela (excellent teachable moments).  My favorite part as the adult reader is the closing quote to cement the lesson:

“kindness needs no reward, for it brings happiness and warmth to the heart.”

I recommend this book. It has a nice additional information section at the back about Thai culture and a simple fable to teach a powerful lesson.

Two new board books by Jennifer Sattler: Dirty Birdies and Jungle Gym

Fun graphics fill the pages of both books. Jungle gym is all about opposites, showing jungle animals on a playground demonstrating concepts like over/under, tall/short, inside/outside etc.  Dirty Birdies is an early counting book, starting with one dirty birdy, who is joined by another dirty birdy and so on. Each creating their own mess (art, eating, sandbox) until five of them require a bath, and then count down back to one.


The Seed Man by Aiko Ikegami

Author and illustrator Ikegami has created a fresh story aimed at five to eight year olds. The illustrations are rich are really where all of the story lies as each page has very few words. Hence, this book is more for conversational and/or shared storytelling and might be a bit challenging to read alone for newer readers (or tired parents of younger kids). The elderly man is the main character and demonstrates/experiences several emotions (anger, sadness, joy). The Seed Man was not my favorite character (he sort of lurked?) and I felt that the fairies (who are adorable and my little one was really attracted too) would have been enough to achieve the story, but all that said, Ikegami has still produced a story that created a rich reading experience with my little, and for that I recommend this book.


Our current favorite book right is Be A Good Dragon by Kurt Cyrus. The full review is over here on my LinkedIn account, because it had some fun linkages to antimicrobial stewardship.  We are reading this at least twice a night and the three year old has most of it memorized already.

Ireceived a copy of all the books mentioned in this post from Sleeping Bear Press to review but I was not financially compensated, nor required to say something positive, in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my experience and observations while reading this book.

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