Draw-A-Saurus by James Silvani

Draw-A-Saurus by  James Silvani (Ten Speed Press, September 2014) is the perfect book for a kid who love two things:

  1. Drawing
  2. Dinosaurs

I know one such kid, so I was delighted to come across this book. With clear step-by-step instructions, the author/illustrator shows the process for drawing realistically proportioned dinosaurs of all kinds. There is plenty of amusing side-comments interspersed in with the illustrations. On top of all that, Mr. Silvani provides facts about the dinosaurs, including explanations of what things we know for sure and those we do not know for sure.

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Missed Connections by Sophie Blackall

Way back in August and September, Jenny from Reading the End suggested I read Sophie Blackall’s illustrated book based on the personal “missed connections” posts found on Craig’s List.

I love her illustration style, as I mentioned when I reviewed her picture book. Missed Connections captures the personal ads just perfectly with Ms Blackall’s style. The pictures are sassy, amusing, and friendly. And there is something about the entire concept of a “missed connection” that gives the illustrations a sense of seriousness and contemplation. Continue Reading

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires


The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires (Kids Can Press, April 2014) is a STEM book. (For those not in the “know,” as I was not until recently, STEM is educational slang for something relating to Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mechanics.) A creative girl heads out to make the “magnificent thing,” but cannot seem to get it right for quite a while. Trial and error, experimentation. She keeps going. It is not easy, and finally she succeeds!

I loved how the author-illustrator included multiple pictures per page. You can see the girl’s growing frustration as she works, creates, and starts anew. I also enjoyed how we could see her creations throughout the story, but we could never quite see what she was making until the very end. Her facial expressions can show the reader (and young STEM workers) that creation takes lots of work, lots of mistakes, and lots of concentration. She had a great idea, but it took quite a while to get to her finished “magnificient thing.”

I see lots of educational value in this book for schools, but I also believe it is a strong, fun story with clever illustrations. Non-readers can still enjoy it by reviewing the pictures. This will be a winner with kids, for sure!

Note: I received a digital copy for review consideration.

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke


The cartoon-like illustrations in Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke (First Second Books, September 2014) perfectly match the child-like imaginative story.  It begins with fantastic personification:

Julie’s house came to town and settled by the sea.

And Julia is obviously not a normal girl, for when she decides to open her home to lost creatures, she finds herself welcoming not just “patched up Kitty” but a sad troll and all sorts of other monsters.Continue Reading