Friend or Foe?

If you are like me and sad that Jon Klassen’s hat trilogy has come to a close, then you must check out Friend or Foe? by John Sobol! A lonely,, little mouse lives in a small house beside a great palace. In the great palace there lives a cat. Night after night, the mouse peers up at the cat sitting in the highest window and the cat peers down at the mouse.

Mouse is determined to find a friend and he cannot help but wonder, is the cat a friend or a foe? He musters up all of his courage and decides to find out once and for all. Mouse carefully sneaks into the well guarded castle and approaches the cat, asking bravely, “Are you friend or foe?”

John Sobol creates a great air of suspense and leaves the reader wondering “What just happened?” with a hilarious and definitely unexpected ending to the story. Dasha Tolstikova’s illustrations employee a muted palette of greys, white and black that complement the story in a wonderful way.

Friend or Foe? is a delightful read for kids ages 4-8. Readers will enjoy drawing their own conclusions and talking about the ending of this highly engaging picture book.

Click here to purchase a copy of Friend or Foe? (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Perfect Book for Dog Lovers

Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess* written and illustrated by Janet Hill is a collection of life lessons Miss Moon learns from her experience taking care of 67 dogs in France. This is a cheeky book that tucks in that the lessons are key to raising well-mannered dogs (and humans). The text is simple and accompanied by vivid and highly-detailed paintings. Upon closer examination, the reader will see humorous details infused in each.

Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess is perfect for kids ages 3-8. Young readers will absolutely love studying the artwork throughout and considering how it conveys, or contradicts, the lessons. The lesson from the page above is to “make the most of any weather,” whereas the lesson from the page below is to “practice the art of conversation: list more than you speak.”

Click here to purchase a copy of Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of Miss Moon: Wise Words from a Dog Governess in exchange for my honest review.


The Perfect Chapter Book for Friday the 13th

Warren the 13th is a peculiar 12-year-old boy and heir to the Warren Hotel. Saying he is hardworking is an understatement as he is the hotel’s bellhop, waiter, groundskeeper, and chimney sweep, among his huge list of other responsibilities. His father, Warren the 12th, passed away years ago and since he was too young to be in charge his uncle Rupert came to run things. Sadly for Warren, his uncle is rather lazy and at times exhibits evidence of narcolepsy, which led the hotel to fall quickly into disrepair.

One day a mysterious and unexpected guest arrives. His face is wrapped in bandages and he communicates by using a deck of picture cards. Despite how overwhelmingly strange this guest is, Warren does his best to be a great bellhop, welcoming him even though he seems unappreciative and impatient. Warren gives him the not so original nickname of Paleface.

When Warren’s wicked step-aunt Annaconda learns of the new guest’s arrival, she becomes irritated and paranoid. She asks many many questions and then starts asking if he mentioned the All-Seeing Eye, a mysterious treasure that is rumored to be hidden inside the hotel. We quickly learn that Annaconda is cruel, reminiscent of many of Roald Dahl’s evil characters, including the Twit and Miss Trunchbull. And thus begins the search for the All-Seeing Eye, each character trying to find it faster than the other.

Warren the 13th* is a clever and quirky book that fuses adventure and humor. The reader must pay close attention to small clues and keep track of details throughout this fast-paced chapter book. The Edward Gorey-esque illustrations by Will Staehle are really captivating and add to the emotion of the text.

Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye is perfect for kids ages 8-14. This book would be a huge hit in my 4th grade class as a read aloud, and my 5th graders would have loved to read it independently. Click here to purchase a copy of the book (affiliate link). 

*I received a complimentary copy of Warren the 13th in exchange for my honest review.


Another Terrific Lane Smith Picture Book


There is so much that I absolutely love about Madam President by Lane Smith. First of all the main character is a young girl imagining that she is president. Secondly, it features many real responsibilities of the president but in real life contexts that are easily relatable for kids. or example, the executive orders include requesting additional waffles and daily briefs include negotiating treaties before class and lunch.

In addition to all these important responsibilities, the President must choose a capable cabinet. This illustration says everything that needs to be said.

Madam President is a fantastic picture book that infuses information with humor. Though this book doesn’t follow a story arc, it is a fun read for young and grown up readers alike. This book is perfect for readers ages 5-8.

Click here to purchase a copy of Madam President (affiliate link). 


A Touching Picture Book for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China. It is a period of rest and celebration before the next farming season begins. Families come together to celebrate the New Year. This year, Chinese New Year is on Saturday, January 28!

A New Year’s Reunion by Yu Li-Qiong is a very moving story about a young girl named Maomao whose father comes home only once a year, for the Chinese New Year. Though the visit it short, it is very special. Maomao and her mom go to meet her papa, then they get ready for the celebrations together.

Papa helps Maomao make sticky rice balls. A seemingly simple task, that is meaningful because the young girl gets to spend this time with her father.

A New Year’s Reunion highlights aspects of the Chinese New Year, including visits with family and friends, but at it’s heart lies the story of a father who is separated from his family for the majority of the year by his job. It’s a story that emphasizes the importance of family and coming together, but it also tackles how difficult it can be to be apart. Zhu Cheng-Liang’s illustrations are beautiful and colorful. They capture the energy and celebration of the holiday, while also creating intimate scenes in which the young girl is reunited with and later says goodbye to her father for another year.

This book is great for readers ages 4-8. Click here to purchase a copy of A New Year’s Reunion (affiliate link). 


Over-Scheduled Andrew

 In my class every year I’d come across students who are definitely over-scheduled. Soccer practice, gymnastics, religious classes, tutors, playdates, the list goes on and on. I have no idea how their parents keep up with the extracurricular activities of kids who aren’t even 10! So when I saw Over-Scheduled Andrew by Ashley Spires I knew that there was definitely an audience for this book and an important lesson to be learned.

Andrew is a very busy chickadee. His true passion is acting and dressing up so he joins the drama club. He joins the debate club to work on his public speaking. He then joins ballet and karate classes to improve his coordination. Andrew has so many interests and talents he joins more and more activities. His schedule becomes busier and his days become longer. Pretty soon, it becomes hard to stay up let alone keep up.

 Andrew is so exhausted it ends up impacting his drama club performance. He realizes that he has spread himself too thin and he decides to only commit himself to the activities he’s really interested in.

Over-Scheduled Andrew is a wonderful book for kids ages 4-8. The readers watches as Andrew learns to prioritize his interests. The story is fast paced but funny. The illustrations include comical details that are great to look at. This is yet another fantastic book by Ashley Spires.

Click here to purchase a copy of Over-Scheduled Andrew (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of Over-Scheduled Andrew in exchange for my honest review.

Simona Ciraolo is one of my favorite new authors. Her stories are powerful and hold a valuable lesson for readers of all ages. Her illustrations are captivating and convey relationships and emotions in a beautiful way.

The Caterpillar Corner has partnered with Flying Eye Books to bring you a very special Instagram giveaway! One winner will win these three exceptional books by Simona Ciraolo—The Lines on Nana’s Face, Whatever Happened to My Sister, and Hug Me!

Click here for complete giveaway rules and how to enter.

Lovely Multicultural Reads

I am such a huge fan of the Bharat Babies books. They feature diverse characters, introduce different cultures and challenge gender roles.

Padmini is Powerful* by Amy Maranville is a board book that is perfect for babies. Each page introduces a different Hindu god and highlights an attribute of the god that Padmini possesses. She is generous and kind like Lakshmi and she creates like Brahma. The comparisons are supported by the bright and colorful illustrations, making the connections easy for the reader to see. I love that Padmini’s character transcends gender stereotypes, from her appearance to her interests.

Sarla in the Sky* by Anjali Joshi is an inspirational early readers about Sarla Thakral, the first Indian woman to earn her piloting license in 1936. Sarla dreams of flying from an early age. She imagines herself as a bird, a kite and even a butterfly in hopes of one day sailing in the wind. The odds are stacked against her, and many people told her that flying planes was not for women.

The illustrations by Lisa Kurt have a dream-like quality to them with simple backgrounds of clouds and landscapes which places the focus on the characters themselves.

Sarla remains focused on her goal of flying and overcomes a series of obstacles in order to achieve her dream. Sarla in the Sky teaches the importance of not giving up in a beautiful way. Like Padmini is Powerful, it tackles gender stereotypes in a way that empowers girls to pursue interests and careers that have been traditionally identified as being for boys. 

Click here to purchase a copy of Padmini is Powerful and Sarla in the Sky (affiliate links).

*I received a complimentary copy of Padmini is Powerful and Sarla in the Sky in exchange for my honest review.


Celebrating Milestones of the First Two Years

You Are One and the sequel You Are Two by Sara O’Leary celebrate the milestones during the first two years of a baby’s life. Each book is written in second person, directly capturing the experience of the child.

You Are One begins, “So much has changed in just a year. You are one!” It continues to highlight all the changes and accomplishments of a one year old, from first steps and eating solids to communication and favorite games.

You Are Two picks up where You Are One left off. It highlights the desire for independence and decision making, from personal style to eating on ones own. You Are Two reminds me of my close friend’s two-year-old daughter in the sweetest way. Emotions are stronger than during the first year, but a child’s personality is becoming more prominent.

You Are One and You Are Two are perfect additions to home library collections. These would make great 1st and 2nd birthday presents for toddlers. The illustrations by Karen Klassen are perfect, they are tangible and sentimental, capturing the emotions of each milestone from the parent’s perspective but also in a way that is accessible for kids.

Click here to purchase copies of You Are One  and You Are Two (affiliate links).

*I received a complimentary copy of You Are One and You Are Two in exchange for my honest review.

Set Your Imagination Free

Imagine a City* by Elise Hurst is a delightful picture book filled with gorgeous illustrations and simple story about the power of imagination.

The story follows three characters, perhaps a mother and her two kids, as she invites them to imagine a train that will take them on a journey.

The illustration of the train features exotic elements, a wonderful landscape, and peculiar details from the start. For example an elegant rabbit reading the newspaper adjacent to a pot of tea and a vase with tulips.

The text is succinct but the illustrations are stunning. The drawings are infused with excitement and energy. Elise Hurst invites the reader to take a closer look at each to notice all the elements of wonder as the character travel through different worlds, which seem realistic at first but at second and third glance have delightful elements of fantasy throughout.  Together they also travel through different times, past, present and future.

Imagine a City culminates with the powerful line, “Imagine it all in the palm of your hand.”

Imagine a City is a wonderful picture book for readers ages 4-7. The illustrations will engage older readers as they provide many opportunities for discussion and asking questions.

Click here to purchase a copy of Imagine a City (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of Imagine a City in exchange for my honest review.