Picture Books Around the World: Japan

27 Aug

The second stop on our picture book world tour is Japan!

Picture Books about Japan

This country is almost 5,000 miles from my home in Washington state, so for now I’ll be visiting via books!

My JapanMy Japan

Seven-year-old Yumi gives readers an introduction to her daily life in Japan, with stunningly detailed illustrations that depict a typical Japanese home. Yumi also gives us a look at her school, her city, and how she and her family celebrate holidays. Engaging and informative, this book is a must-read for kids who are eager to learn about Japan.

The Way We Do it in JapanThe Way We Do It in Japan

When an American boy moves with his parents from California to Japan, he discovers a whole new way of life. It seems that everything – eating, sleeping, and even taking a bath – is different in Japan. The story does an excellent job of representing the cultural differences between America and Japan, while also highlighting the social parallels.

How My Parents Learned to EatHow My Parents Learned to Eat

An American sailor courts a Japanese woman, but is afraid to invite her to dinner because he doesn’t know how to eat with chopsticks. Narrated by the couple’s child, this is an entertaining story about love overcoming cultural differences. This book is full of humor and charm, and the illustrations – by celebrated Japanese artist Allen Say – are lovely.

I Live in TokyoI Live in Tokyo

Divided up month by month, this book shares an entire year’s worth of fun in Tokyo, giving readers a glimpse at the people, food, holidays, and customs of Japan. Every page is packed with details that kids will love exploring.

Tokyo FriendsTokyo Friends

An American girl living in Tokyo meets and befriends two Japanese children. Together, they explore the city and teach one another about their respective cultures. This book has simple, rhyming text for younger readers, and does a great job of demonstrating the many similarities and differences between Japanese and western cultures.

The Funny Little WomanThe Funny Little Woman

This Caldecott Medal-winning classic – a retelling of a traditional Japanese tale – is the story of little old woman who loved to laugh and to make rice dumplings. When she is captured by a group of wicked, rice-loving demons, the wise woman must outsmart then to get back home. This book is a departure from the rest of the list in that it does not depict life in modern Japan, but the enjoyable story and eye-catching illustrations make it a worthwhile read.

We’ll be continuing our trip around the world next week, so check back! And be sure to check out our first stop: Australia.

Picture Books Around the World: Australia

25 Aug

The world is a big place, and every country has it’s own unique history, culture, and way of life. Short of hopping on a plane – which is a luxury for most of us – one of the best ways to teach children about the world is through books. That’s why I’m so excited to present a new Youth Literature Reviews book list series, Picture Books Around the World. This eight-part series will span six continents and more than a dozen countries.  Join me as we explore some of the most beautiful and diverse places across the globe, all without leaving home!

The first country we’ll be visiting on our picture book world tour is Australia!

Picture Books about Australia

I’ve never been to Australia (my husband went a few years ago on a business trip…lucky!) but it has always fascinated me. The books I chose for this list highlight the geography, wildlife, and culture of this beautiful country.

Over in AustraliaOver in Australia: Amazing Animals Down Under

This fun rhyming story features several Australian animals including wallabies, lorikeets, platypuses, and many more! The book is also chock-full of extras – like a map of the country that shows which animals inhabit each region – and the textured cut-paper illustrations are absolutely exquisite.

This is AustraliaThis is Australia

This classic picture book is packed with fascinating facts about the world’s largest island, including the country’s history, culture, architecture, people, and wildlife. Dozens of detailed illustrations depict the beauty of the different regions.

Diary of a WombatDiary of a Wombat

In this charming book, readers see the world through the eyes of one of the most adorable Australian creatures. Kids will chuckle as the wombat interacts with his new neighbors – humans!

Possum MagicPossum Magic

When Grandma Poss uses her magic to turn her granddaughter Hush invisible, and is then unable to reverse the spell, the two possums travel across Australia in search of the food that will make Hush visible again. Along the way, they sample many Australian delights, including Anzac biscuits, Mornay, and Vegemite sandwiches.

Possum and WattlePossum and Wattle: My Big Book of Australian Words

From boomerangs to cockatoos to didgeridoos, renowned Aboriginal artist Bronwyn Bancroft takes readers on a tour of her homeland, featuring her bold, colorful paintings. The back of the book also includes a glossary of these interesting words for kids who are eager to learn more.

Kangaroo and CrocodileKangaroo and Crocodile: My Big Book of Australian Animals

This delightful sequel highlights the dozens of animals that are native to Australia. Bronwyn Bancroft has outdone herself with the vibrant full-page illustrations.

Are We There YetAre We There Yet?

Based on the author’s real-life travels, this charming picture book chronicles a family’s six-month journey across Australia. As they explore the different regions, readers will get an up-close look at what makes this country so unique.

What country will we visit next? Check back later this week to find out!

A Book of Sleep

21 Jul

“When the sky grows dark and the moon glows bright, everyone goes to sleep… except for the watchful owl.”

A Book of Sleep

A Book of Sleep (©2007) is the debut picture book by Korean-born author/illustrator Il Sung Na. In this lyrical bedtime book, an owl watches from afar as all of the other animals go to sleep. He quietly observes an array of creatures, from the fish who sleep with their eyes open, to the horses who sleep standing up, to the penguins who sleep all huddled together. Then when nighttime gives way to bright sunshine, it’s finally time for our nocturnal friend the owl to get some shut-eye!

A Book of Sleep Owl

This book is truly a work of art. The richly detailed illustrations utilize hand-painted textures blended with digital collage to achieve a look that is not only beautiful, but incredibly unique. The combination of opulent colors and unexpected patterns is a visual delight.

A Book of Sleep Elephant

Young children will love learning about all the different ways animals go to sleep. This book is perfect for children ages 5 and under, but anyone can appreciate the distinctive artwork. This is definitely a book that kids will ask for again and again. A Book of Sleep is available in hardcover and as a board book!

Modern Classic: Olivia by Ian Falconer

7 Jul

OliviaOlivia (©2000) written and illustrated by Ian Falconer is a slice-of-life story about a spirited young pig. Olivia loves to play dress up, build sandcastles at the beach, and visit the art museum with her mother. When Olivia sees her favorite painting of ballet dancers, she imagines herself as a ballerina dancing on a grand stage. The illustrations – sparse black-and-white drawings with pops of red – earned the book a Caldecott honor.

Olivia Goes to VeniceIn Olivia Goes to Venice (©2010) readers follow the precocious pig on a whirlwind adventure to Italy! Olivia and her family take a vacation to Venice, full of sightseeing, gondola rides through the Grand Canal, and lots and lots of gelato. The story is cute, of course, but the illustrations are absolutely inspired. Falconer uses photographs of Venice as the backdrop for his hand-drawn characters.

Olivia goes to Venice 2

Excerpt from “Olivia Goes to Venice” (©2010). Click to view larger.

Olivia and the Fairy PrincessesMy personal favorite of the series is the recent installment, Olivia and the Fairy Princesses (©2012). Olivia is having an identity crisis. All the other little girls want to be pink-clad princesses, but Olivia wants to stand out from the crowd. Olivia asks some important questions, and wonders why princesses are always associated with glitter and pink (“There are alternatives,” she says). Her quest for individuality will make readers smile – and think.

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses 2

Excerpt from “Olivia and the Fairy Princesses” (©2012). Click to view larger.

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses 3

Excerpt from “Olivia and the Fairy Princesses” (©2012). Click to view larger.

Fans of classics like Eloise and Madeline will love Olivia. I recommend this series for ages 3-7.

Other Books in the Olivia Series:

Olivia Saves the Circus (©2001)
Olivia . . . and the Missing Toy (©2003)
Olivia Forms a Band (©2006)
Olivia Helps with Christmas (©2007)

Can’t get enough Olivia? In 2009, Nickelodeon created an animated series based on the character. Amazon Prime members can stream the first season for free!

Kid Lit Blog Hop #41

18 Jun

Welcome to the 41st Kid Lit Blog Hop where twice per month (the 1st and 3rd Wednesday) we continue to develop a dynamic and engaged community of children’s books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists. So, you are always more than welcome to join us by popping in a post and hopping around to meet some of your fellow Kid Lit bloggers and authors!

We’d like to welcome our co-hosts for this week: a daughter and Mom team, Julie and Elizabeth, who are behind the blog, Emma’s Owl as well as The Owl Books. Welcome Julie and Elizabeth!

Happy Hopping everyone and enjoy the Hop!

Kid Lit Blog Hop

Kid Lit Blog Hop Rules *Please Read*

1. We ask that you kindly follow your hosts. You can follow us any way you choose (Email, GFC, Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, etc.), but we’ve added our preferences below. If you could just give us a quick “follow” or “like” that would be much appreciated! Make sure to leave us a message if you are following us (i.e., on Twitter or Facebook or on our websites) and we will be sure to follow you back. Thanks! :-)


Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews Facebook * Twitter

Jaymie @ Snacks for Max Twitter * Facebook

Katie @ Youth Literature Reviews Twitter * Facebook

Julie Grasso, Author/ Blogger Twitter * Facebook

Cheryl Carpinello, Author / Blogger Twitter * Facebook

Reshama @ Stacking Books Twitter * Facebook

Stacie @ BeachBoundBooks Twitter * Facebook

Destiny @ Reading and Sharing Twitter * Facebook

Mia @ Pragmatic Mom Twitter * Facebook

Lina @ Best 4 Future: Bringing Up Baby Bilingual Twitter * Facebook


Julie & Elizabeth @ Emma’s Owl Pinterest * Facebook

2. Link up any Kid Lit related post. This can be a link to a children’s book review, a discussion about children’s literature/literacy, or a post on a recently-read children’s book or one that you love from your childhood.

* Don’t link directly to your blog, it must be a specific post.*

* For Authors, we prefer you to link to your blog if you have one. Please link unique posts each time ~ no repeats please. *

* Make sure you include an image relevant to the POST (e.g., book cover), not your blog button or photo of yourself.*

* Feel free to link more than one post.*

3. Please visit AT LEAST the TWO LINKS directly ahead of your own and leave them some love in the form of a comment. We are trying to build a community of bloggers, readers, parents, authors, and others who are as passionate about children’s literature as we are so please CONNECT and follow any or all of the blogs that interest you! 4. If you like, grab the button above and put it somewhere on your blog, preferably the post you’re linking up. If you’d prefer, you can just add a text link back to this Hop so that others can find it and check out all these great book links! 5. It would really help us get the word out about the Kid Lit Blog Hop if you would be so kind as to tweet, share, and spread the word about the Hop!

Interested in co-hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop? If you’ve joined us before, you are welcome to join us again! Please email renee @ motherdaughterbookreviews (dot) com and put Co-Hosting Blog Hop in the subject line.

Happy Hopping!

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We’re Still Here.

16 Jun

Hello readers! Katie here.

It’s been a while since my last review. A long while, actually. I’ve been spending some quality time with my daughter, and I’ve put writing on the back burner for the past couple of months. But rest assured, Youth Literature Reviews is not dead. Not by a long shot. I’m still reading every day, and I can’t wait to share more wonderful books with all of you. I will be back later this summer with plenty of book reviews and book lists for youths of all ages.

In the meantime, you can still connect with Youth Literature Reviews on social media:

See you soon!

2014 Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop

11 May

Welcome to the 2nd Annual Children’s Book Week Kid Lit Giveaway Hop, hosted by Youth Literature Reviews and Mother Daughter Book Reviews.


Renee and I created the first Kid Lit Giveaway Hop one year ago in honor of Children’s Book Week, the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country.

To learn more about Children’s Book Week, check out bookweekonline.com.

Now, on to the giveaway!

I am thrilled to share one of my FAVORITE new books, the 2014 Newbery Medal winner Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures written by Kate DiCamillo and illustrated by K.G. Campbell.

Flora and Ulysses

The book’s heroine is ten-year-old Flora Belle Buckman, a self-proclaimed cynic, whose chance encounter with a very special squirrel sends her on an unlikely adventure. This charming and poignant book is perfect for ages 9-13, but it makes an excellent read-aloud for younger kids as well.

Click here to to enter this giveaway!

But wait – this is a giveaway hop! Be sure to check out the other fantastic book and cash giveaways by clicking the linky below.

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