With Summer reading upon us and LTD looking for source material so he can fill out his online library form. As long time Beyond the Car Seat readers know all to well LTD digs robots. In that regard, R. McGeddon series Disaster Diaries features a tale devoted to the subject. As a side note, I feel like a pen name is being used by the author. The tale focuses on friends Sam, Emmie and Arty and the creation of a science fair robot. A subject that LTD is always thinking about with me always explaining we would need serious help to make that dream come true. The robot, Charles turns out not to be so good at his chore helping (the reason he was created) but instead malfunctions. With the series highlighting the word disaster it is not surprise that the robot tries to destroy the whole town. One thing leads to another and soon enough a whole robot army is in play. I won’t spoil the ending but I think you can guess it doesn’t become a dystopian cautionary tale. The book also features a few illustrations to help BB keep up as I felt it was important for him to also use this survival guide.
Never one ignore a book with a dad related central theme, BB has been enjoying Chana Stiefel new book, Daddy Depot with illustrations by Andy Snair. The tale focuses on Lizze who despite loving her dad feels he has a few negative qualities that warrant at least a search for a new and improved model. When it comes to her attention that the new store, Daddy Depot may offer the perfect answer she investigates. BB is particular found of the book because one of Lizzie’s complaints is that her father tells the same lame dad jokes over and over something BB has accused me of. Of course while the dad’s for sale at the store seemed cool there was always an issue. Rocker Dad had bodyguards keeping loved ones at arms length etc. As usual, I won’t spoil the ending but I’m guessing you can figure out which dad Lizzie ends up with (can you even imagine how dark the book would be if she didn’t). As we read the book right before bed and he is sleepy, thankfully, BB has never asked if he can go to the store to get my replacement.
A perfect storm occurred over the new book, Beauty and the Beak. LTD just finished watching A Dolphin Tale, BB received a bald eagle stuffed animal as a prize, we recently saw Beauty and the Beast in the theatre and we saw the Makers Guild 3-D print different objects at the library. What am I talking about? Deborah Lee Rose and Jane Veltkamp’s book tells the story of Beauty, a bald eagle that lost most of her beak to a bullet. Found starving, she was nursed back to health, but could not eat or drink on her own. As usual I won’t spoil the ending, but thanks to the kindest of a group of dedicated people Beauty became bionic. Okay, not quite, but she did receive a plastic, 3D printed beak to allow her to truly soar. In addition to the tale, the story also features an update on how Beauty is doing now and cool facts about Bald Eagles including ways to help them. BB went nuts to see the mission patch for Apollo 11.
For the most part the age difference between the boys isn’t such a big deal but when it comes to bed time stories there are not a lot they can agree on. Jason Chin’s book about the Grand Canyon (Grand Canyon) has something that appeals to all age levels. The tale features big colorful splash pages depicting all manor of wildlife but the story telling structure is geared to a slightly advanced reader. Using a time traveling theme the book shows what the massive canyon looked liked all throughout the last few millions of years. Told via a surrogate hiker character we journey up the layers learning geology and biology. The Grand Canyon is one of those places that everyone says you have to experience because you can’t process the massive scale unless you are standing there. Mr. Chin has created the next best thing to an actual visit especially since the end features a fold out four page spread of the whole canyon (I can only assume the real thing is only slightly more impressive).
Now that LTD has plowed through all of Harry Potter the choices are endless. Lately, he has been into Indiana Jones and BB has been bragging on pirates so John Matthews Henry Hunter series seemed like a logic choice. Mr. Matthews is a prolific author who is big into King Arthur (yes, to answer your question he lives in the UK). LTD has been reading the tale out loud to BB with mixes results. However, the story from what I gather is pretty interesting. It seems Henry Hunter’s buddy Charlie needs help because his parents are missing. Henry and his partner Dolf take up the quest. The story is set in the Caribbean which leads us to not only pirates but they pirate himself, Blackbeard. BB is psyched because they are technically ghost pirates. The book features a quick introduction explaining the origins of Mr. Hunter which brought us all up to speed on why he is able to hunt pirates in the first place. The book also has a few illustrations that set the mood and provided BB a welcome distraction from interrupting. Since the author is also a historian the book is rich in detail which makes it slightly cooler than the normal stuff LTD reads. Plus BB has announced he wants to be a ghost pirate for Halloween.
BB didn’t 100% join the Series of Unfortunate Events bandwagon but he wanted in on the Lemony Snicket action. So the new book, Goldfish Ghost satisfies the urge. The paranormal tale, with art by Lisa Brown, centers on a Goldfish (born on the surface, but never addressed as a ghost) who is lonely. He looks for company in many different places but doesn’t quite find what he is looking for. As usual, I won’t spoil the ending, but needless to say he finds a friend. The story is interesting because it doesn’t specific deal with the Goldfish being “dead” but astute readers will pick up on it. The book also provides a welcome opportuinity for BB to say the word ghost, which he pronounces, ghost-is-sss. The illustrations are often busy which provides a nice contrast to the muted tone of the tale. Needless to say when I found out a goldfish can live more than a year I told the kids nope after their request.
I’m a big believer in using comic books to teach kids to read. Falynn Koch has taken the concept a step further by adding science to the mix. Part of the Science Comics series Bats: Learning to Fly begins with a intro to the topic followed by a cool graphic novel adventure. The tale focuses on a brown bat who sustains damage to his wing. In a reverse Dracula situation it is a human who hurts the bat. However, once taken to a bat clinic we learn about the different types of bats. Falynn’s art is bright and bold plus she is from Buffalo, where The Mommy went to high school. LTD has been announcing his new bat knowledge every chance he gets, while BB doesn’t understand why Batman is not featured. And yes there is mention of Vampire bats.
The phrase this is not your daddy’s dot to dot book comes to mind. LTD has been kept quite busy as of late filling out the over sized connect the dots book, Marvel: Spider-Man 1000 Dot-to-Dot Book. The activity book features 20 hardcore puzzles each sporting over one thousand dots. Not that is a lot of time in which I can be left alone to finish dinner at a restaurant. There are so many dots and they are close together that only his small hands can complete the challenge. I don’t think I could complete Spider-man without going crazy. One good thing they did was to change the dot color throughout the page so you don’t go dot blind trying to figure out where you left off. LTD is gearing up to tackle the pull out poster in the middle that features over 1700 dots. and to that I say, better him than me.
BB is cruising through his fours and in that regard still manages a pretty good meltdown at least once a week. Since he will be going into Kindergarten on the young side we are always looking for ways to prevent screaming attacks. Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D new book, with art by Jo Gershman, deals with possible solutions to a childhood behavior classic (and yes not all adults have outgrown them as well). Even though Jilly is a kangaroo she still throws a mean temper tantrum and the tale demonstrates ways parents can work through them. The story shows the different triggers that set off Jilly and her parents patience and as usual, I won’t spoil the ending, but needless to say, it involves using words to express feelings not screams and punches. The first example deals with her older sibling playing chess without her and it reads exactly like what happened to everyone in our house yesterday (LTD has learned to play chess). Now lets hope we can learn the lessons on patience explained in the book during the bedtime reading as BB in addition to tantrums also interrupts a lot.
Now that Spring is here, the boys have been wanting to spend more time outside (even if the temperature doesn’t cooperate with that goal). Kathryn Hast’s new book Otis Grows feels right for the dual nature of Spring. First, I am struck by the illustarions by L.M. Phang which have an interesting quality that doesn’t feel like your typical children’s style. The tale focuses on Otis who is an onion with fascinating genetics. His mother is a chicken and his father is a blue flower. On the surface that would seem like enough, but the challenge for him is that his mother is a member of the Nuh-Uhs while his pops is a Yes-Chum. Of course Otis decides to postpone the conflict by running away. Our hero’s journey involves adventures with other “colors” to learn about differences, coming together and figuring out what it means to belong. I know what you’re thinking, does a book about a talking onion with chicken/flower parents have a guest appearance by Nelson Mandela. The answer of course is yes. One of the neat things about the book is that, since all kid’s books read repeatedly, each reading lends it self to more and more discussions of the themes.