Lightning-Fast Book Reviews
This isn’t your average review list. I know you don’t have time to pore endlessly through reviews before you choose a stack for your brood to enjoy at home. In fact, this list is designed to be just as useful after you’ve brought a slap-dash collection library books home as it is before you buy carefully-chosen gifts.
Here’s how it works: For each book you get a one-sentence summary, content warnings (if applicable), and then not one but FIVE review scores–up to five out of five stars each–based on the patience level and personality of the five book-opinionators in this home. I share this way so you can feel out how well received it will be in your home with your unique brood.
The Teach at Home Mom Reviewer Team
Mr. Nance: An unusually strict judge of truth, justice, precision, and art, if you have someone in your family often dubbed “no fun,” you’ll want to pay attention to my husband’s rating of any given book. If it claims to be poetry but has no consistent structure it will fail, though stellar illustrations may redeem it to a point. Mr. Nance awards the Art Score.
Mama: I enjoy books that flow, show emotional depth appropriate to the target age, and fun to read (over and over and over and over….). I don’t appreciate worlds where unkindness is normalized or expected, or where one generation is inherently dumber than another. Any book that acts as propaganda is an instant fail–I am quite capable of teaching my children stewardship and social responsibility without being tricked into it (see “2PC4ME” section below for 0 stars list). Mama awards the Education Score.
Ranger M (age 7): M enjoys non-fiction and fiction fact books and books that tell stories of battles, myths, and new friends. He is also tender-heated and loves diversity of any kind, especially characters with special needs. Ranger M awards the Boy Score.
Princess Sprite (age 5): Our princess enjoys light-hearted stories full of messes, jokes, silly-looking characters one-liners, and all-around fun. Interestingly also fascinated with body parts and systems, life and death. Abstract themes like how to make a profit are beyond dull, emotional complexity is lost on her, and she throws things when she feels confused. Princess Sprite awards the Goober Score.
My Monkey (age 4): Determined, active, expressive and ever-inquisitve, Monkey likes to decide when pages get turned, whether a given page is read or sung, and when story time is over (which is, never). Few words on a page, rhymes, flip-books, descriptive pictures, and action-packed plots are ideal for this little one, just so I can keep the book moving without a full-on battle. My Monkey awards the Speed Score.
Bonus Reviewer: Baby (age 1): If she comes to me, sits on my lap, and looks at the book for three strait seconds, that book will get special Baby Score mention on the book review.
So, without any further ado, the books (listed alphabetically by title). Yes, I have actually read every single one.
*Please note the use of Amazon affiliate links in the list below. If you follow those links and then purchase a book, the cost to you will not change but Amazon will send me a little thank-you payment for my help in sending you to it. This service helps all parties and also keeps this review resource free. Thank you for understanding!*
Cheetahs by Anne Welsbacker
Summary: The basic introduction to Cheetahs is aimed at an audience under 12.Photo-illustrated, it treats one topic per page spread, has a useful glossary and resource section in the back, and is not overly environmentalist in purpose.
Art Score: 4 Stars Education Score: 5 Stars Boy Score: 5 Stars Goober Score: 4 Stars Speed Score: 3 Stars
Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer
Summary: Daniel feels very connected to nature, so when a “Poetry In the Park” event is scheduled, he naturally turns to his wildlife friends as he seeks to understand what poetry is.
Art Score: 4 Stars Education Score: 4 Stars Boy Score: 3 Stars Goober Score: 4 Stars Speed Score: 3 Stars
Harvest Home by Jane Yolen, Illustrated by Greg Shed
Summary: Everyone’s help is needed to bring the harvest home, and the wheat brings the family together in many beautiful ways. Written in rhyme.
Art Score: 5 Stars Education Score: 5 Stars Boy Score: 5 Stars Goober Score: 3 Stars Speed Score: 1 Stars
If You’re Hoppy by April Pulley Sayre, Illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic
Summary: This refreshingly new, splashingly illustrated, and perfectly hilarious rendition of “If You’re Happy and You Know It” is fun for adult reader and young listener alike. See if you can tell where the voice of the story is coming from.
Art Score: 4 Stars Education Score: 5 Stars Boy Score: 2 Stars Goober Score: 5 Stars Speed Score: 5 Stars
Izzy & Oscar by Allison Estes & Dan Stark, Illustrated by Tracy Dockray
Summary: Izzy’s mother said she could have a pet, but an octopus isn’t what she had in mind. Oscar is squishy and can be hard to understand. Will he get to stay?
Art Score: 4 Stars Education Score: 3 Stars Boy Score: 3 Stars Goober Score: 5 Stars Speed Score: 4 Stars
Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis
Summary: When her mother tells her she needs to find her own fun and her brother refuses to let her play with his friends, Lulu is sure she’s doomed to boredom. But with her faithful dog, Bingo by her side, Ladybug Girl finds some pretty brave things to do, and decides maybe she isn’t too little after all.
Art Score: 4 Stars Education Score: 5 Stars Boy Score: 4 Stars Goober Score: 5 Stars Speed Score: 4 Stars
Little Lost Unicorn by Lorna Hussey
Summary: Little Unicorn’s big heart and love for fun fills his first day away from home with many exciting adventures, and in the end he not only learns about himself, but that someone’s always looking out for him, wherever he goes.
Art Score: 1 Star Education Score: 2 Stars Boy Score: 1 Star Goober Score: 5 Stars Speed Score: 4 Stars
The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey
Summary: We follow our paperboy through his morning routine, starting with his early morning rise, through his solitary route, and back to bed again to dream, all before the sun comes up.
Art Score: 4 Stars Education Score: 3 Stars Boy Score: 4 Stars Goober Score: 4 Stars Speed Score: 4 Stars
Pinkalicious: The Princess of Pink Slumber Party by Victoria Karr
Summary: Everything is going great at the Pink Princess Slumber Party until one of Pinkalicious’ guests feels too afraid to go to sleep. Can Pinkalicious’ imagination think up something big enough to save the day?
Art Score: 2 Stars Education Score: 4 Stars Boy Score: 1 Star Goober Score: 5 Stars Speed Score: 4 Stars
Xander’s Panda Party by Matt Phelan
Summary: Xander the Panda wants to throw a party, but what group of animals can he invite without letting anyone feel left out?
Art Score: 4 Stars Education Score: 3 Stars Boy Score: 5 Stars Goober Score: 5 Stars Speed Score: 5 Stars