Book review: Haha Color-Me Joke Book

We received a free copy of the Haha Color-Me Joke Book in exchange for our honest review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Over here at Lu and Bean Read headquarters, we sometimes take reading pretty seriously. But that doesn’t mean we only like serious kids books. Thanks to author Neesha Mirchandani, we were introduced to a unique new book that had Bean LOL-ing all week. The Haha Color-Me Joke Book is the world’s first book that combines kid-approved jokes and coloring pages to give your child a fun activity (and caregivers a guaranteed five minutes of peace!).

Haha Color-Me Joke Book

We are big readers (obviously), so often when we receive activity books the girls page through for a few minutes and then lose interest. I can honestly tell you that we had the complete opposite experience with the Haha Color-Me Joke Book. Here’s how it actually went

  1. Lu read all the jokes in the book to Bean.
  2. Both girls cracked up.
  3. Bean memorized all the jokes so she could “read” them to herself…and everyone else.
  4. Bean spent the next few days doing a standup comedy routine for anyone who would listen.
  5. Family laughed genuinely the first time. Chuckled the 10th time. Asked her to please go color silently the 25th time.

Judging by our experience, kids this is a fantastic gift book for kids in the 4- to 6-year-old age range. It would be the perfect stocking stuffer or birthday party gift…or just to have around for those rainy/snowy days when you need to keep your younger kids happy and engaged for awhile.

Another good reason to buy the Haha Color-Me Joke Book

Author Neesha Mirchandani wants to make ALL kids giggle. So for every PRINT book she sells, she will be sending one to a child who can’t afford one. So when you purchase your Haha Color-Me Joke book, you know you’re sharing the laughs with another child.

Check it out hereIf you buy from this link, you’ll also get a lovely Halloween-themed bonus! You can also sign up to win a free copy on our Facebook page between October 9–17, 2017.

Haha Color-Me Joke Book

Review: Wishtree by Katherine Applegate

Thanks to the Kid Lit Exchange network for providing a copy for this Wishtree review. As always, all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means that Lu and Bean Read may receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you) on products purchased through external vendors.

Katherine Applegate, author of the Newbery Medal-winning book the One and Only Ivan, is back with another stunning middle grade novel 

Wishtree review

Wishtree is narrated by a 216-year-old red oak tree. This is perhaps the oldest narrator you’ll encounter in a children’s book. Red has seen a lot in the neighborhood, where it serves as the Wishtree. Once a year, neighbors tie a piece of cloth to Red and send their deepest desires off into the universe. Red has seen many generations of immigrants come through the neighborhood, but the tree notices that people are treating the new family on the block differently. Some people are unfriendly to, scared of, and even hostile toward these new neighbors. Red and its many critter friends come together to figure out if a Wishtree can help remind people of their humanity.

I’ll be honest, I was doubtful that middle grade readers would retain interest in a book narrated by a “wise old tree.” Red is the antithesis of what you see in many action-packed middle grade stories: calm, cool, steady, stationary, quiet. Fortunately, the tree’s animal friends provide movement and comic relief, both with their antics and with their ridiculous self-naming systems (skunks, for example, name themselves after their favorite smells, resulting in monikers like FreshBakedBread.) The book’s human characters are more enigmatic. We only see small insights into their actions and motivations from Red’s stationary vantage point. 

Despite its unconventional narration, I found that my daughters remained riveted as we listened to Wishtree. I believe what makes this book shine is its accessibility. It has short chapters and the writing is straightforward. All levels of middle grade readers will be able to handle the writing and the themes, which focus on diversity, inclusion, kindness, and love. Exactly the themes our kids should be thinking and talking more about these days.

There is one word in Wishtree, one very simple word, that brought both my husband and I to tears. I won’t tell you what it is. You’ll know it when you get there.

Wishtree was published on September 26, 2017 by Feiwel & Friends.

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Wishtree review

Review: La Tortilla de Papas by Sandra Siemens and Claudia Degliuomini

We received a copy of La Tortilla de Papas for free from Syncretic Press in exchange for our honest review. As always, all the opinions expressed in our La Tortilla de Papas review are our own.

As we’ve mentioned in previous posts, Lu and Bean are fluent in Spanish. Their primary childcare provider for the past four years speaks only Spanish to them, so they are fluent listeners and they sometimes choose to speak Spanish.

We are always looking for new books written en español, so I was excited to learn about Syncretic Press, an indie publisher of children’s books written in Spanish. They sent me a copy of La Tortilla de Papas to review and share with our readers.

First, though, I want to be clear that this is not one of those books that sprinkles in Spanish vocabulary, and yet is still accessible to non-Spanish-speakers (find a list of those here). La Tortilla de Papas is for readers and listeners who are at least conversational in Spanish.

Tortilla de Papas review

La Tortilla de Papas review

Sebastiana has an idea. She will make a Spanish tortilla, with eggs and potatoes. The only problem is, she doesn’t have any eggs. She goes to the market. On her way, she purchases big, round, juicy tomatoes and long, crusty loaves of bread. She goes home to cook her tortilla—but when she arrives, she realizes she forgot her huevos! So, out she goes again. Each time, she returns with another beautiful item. She ends up with tomatoes, bread, lilies, oranges, and olives. Notice anything missing from her list? And so, out she goes again, in search of eggs.

La Tortilla de Papas brings me back to favorite books of my childhood—stories like Strega Nona and Caps for Sale that had an element of old world charm. While most children’s books have children as main characters, Sebastiana is a gray-haired woman wearing a squat hat and clutching a handbag. While she is searching for something specific, Sebastiana has an eye for the beautiful. She can’t pass by these items, and they enchant her to the point where she forgets herself, again and again. The paper cutout illustrations will give kids something to study while they laugh along at Sebastiana’s forgetfulness.

Another element that makes this book unique is that Sebastiana’s problem is not resolved. The joke is in the circular story, which ends with the old woman wrapping up in her scarf again, headed out to the market. We don’t know if she ever makes her Tortilla de Papas, but we can be sure she enjoys her day nonetheless.

Spanish speakers, lovers of tortillas (me!), and fans of folly will enjoy this book. You can find La Tortilla de Papas at Syncretic Press.

Tortilla de Papas review

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