Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny)

Authors: Kathleen Krull; Paul Brewer
Illustrator: Stacy Innerst
Publisher: Harcourt Childrens (March 19, 2013)
Source: Bought
Audience: Grades 2nd to 5th
Biographical * Rock Musicians * England

Description from GoodReads:
Q: How do you find all this business of having screaming girls following you all over the place?
George: Well, we feel flattered . . .
John: . . . and flattened. 

When the Beatles burst onto the music scene in the early 1960s, they were just four unknown lads from Liverpool. But soon their off-the-charts talent and offbeat humor made them the most famous band on both sides of the Atlantic. Lively, informative text and expressive, quirky paintings chronicle the phenomenal rise of Beatlemania, showing how the Fab Four’s sense of humor helped the the lads weather everything that was thrown their way—including jelly beans.

My thoughts on the book:
When I saw that there was a picture book biography on The Beatles, I thought that someone was being a bit gutsy.  Of course, until I saw that it was Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer.  At that point, I figured if anyone could pull it off, then they could, and I wasn't wrong.  I read this book on an evening where there was little excitement radiating out of the stack of picture books that I was reading.  However, The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny) shone as brightly as its vibrant yellow cover.

Krull and Brewer take readers on a journey that begins with how the Beatles formed through their rise in fame in England and then the United States and beyond.  The text provides young readers with the highlights of the Beatles career that one would expect and does so in a readable manner mixed with just the right amount of detail and a twist of humor.  The question and answer section was particularly funny with a page dedicated to each one of the Beatles demonstrating something unique about that individual.  

Stacy Innerst's paintings compliment and expand the text in a way that brings the book to the next level.  His attention to detail, and the small touches on many of the pages reflect the personality and music of the Beatles.  Resulting in a book that not only works on a written level, but can be enjoyed just as thoroughly from its images.  

There are important dates in Beatles History and additional sources listed at the end of the book.  The only thing that I might have wished for was an author's note or even an illustrator's note.  Regardless, this book is outstanding and would be a great gift for any fan of Rock Music history or for a classroom or school library collection.      

Don't forget to link up your nonfiction reviews:

Book Review: Santa on the Loose

Author: Bruce Hale
Illustrator: Dave Garbot
Publisher: Harper Collins (September 25, 2012)
Source: Copy for Review
Audience: Ages 7 and older (younger readers may need some assistance with text)
Christmas Story * Seek & Find * Picture Puzzles

Description from GoodReads:
Santa's sleigh is ready to go--except for one thing: The presents are nowhere to be found! Santa needs your help to find out who took the toys! Is the culprit an unhappy elf or a disgruntled reindeer or even--yikes!--a hungry polar bear? With so many possible suspects, Santa's going to have to do some serious detective work to crack this case before Christmas comes!

My thoughts on this book:
"Oh no! Christmas is almost here and Santa's toys have been stolen."  Children are introduced to the possible suspects including Loki the Reindeer, Emo the Elf, Softy the Snowman, Roz the Bear, Arlo the Penguin, and Santa's Helper Kendra.  Each page includes a clue for identifying the robber.  And in typical "seek & find" fashion, the very busy page requires some close inspection to find the referenced item.  At the end, readers discover all of the revealed evidence laid out for their review.  In the end, children can discover if they correctly guessed who was the robber.  There is even a bonus search section.

The combination of Hale's text/clues and Garbot's illustrations provide for a lively and entertaining search that is perfect for the holiday season.  I have to admit I enjoyed this one a little more than the more common search & find books out there.  Maybe because I actually could find the items in a reasonable amount of time.  (Ok, so maybe I just don't have the patience of a 7 year old when solving these and appreciate one that isn't overly congested.)

I know that there will be a number of children who will be excited to pour over the pages looking for clues and discovering the solution.  Definitely a book for those on your Christmas gift buying list who enjoy "seek & find" books. 

For information on Bruce Hale:  website | twitter | facebook

For information on Dave Garbot: website | blog | facebook

Book Review - Jessica Rules the Dark Side

Author: Beth Fantaskey
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
Release Date: January 10, 2012
Audience: Young Adult
Source: ARC for review
Reviewed by: Kate
Fiction * Paranormal Romance

Description from GoodReads:
It’s one thing to find out you’re a vampire princess. It’s a whole other thing to actually rule. Newly married Jessica Packwood is having a hard enough time feeling regal with her husband, Lucius, at her side. But when evidence in the murder of a powerful elder points to Lucius, sending him into solitary confinement, Jessica is suddenly on her own. Determined to clear her husband’s name, Jessica launches into a full-scale investigation, but hallucinations and nightmares of betrayal keep getting in her way. Jessica knows that with no blood to drink, Lucius’s time is running out. Can she figure out who the real killer is—and whom she can trust—before it’s too late?

Jessica’s journey is about what happens after the happily ever after. She’s surrounded by men (befanged men) and politics, and in the way of most people starting a new life, needs to find this ‘new’ self. Is it all of the old self, just in better attire? or is it parts of the old self, with new thrown in? 

This was a highly anticipated sequel for me. I am completely in love with the journey I took in Beth Fantaskey’s first novel, Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side. Beth’s characters are three dimensional. I really enjoyed getting to know them as they got to know each other. I couldn’t imagine what would be next for Jessica and Lucius.

Fantaskey answers this question in Jessica Rules the Dark Side. The tone and mood is unexpectedly a lot darker. I had a bit of trouble getting into the change but I was soon rewarded for my patience. This new direction gives us readers a great chance to see Jessica come into her own as a woman and as a princess. She is dropped in the middle of this world full of old traditions, rituals, rites, and grudges. Jessica is forced to navigate these new waters on her own terms. Will she succeed? Don’t despair, dear readers. Beth gives Jessica some new friends along with her wise-cracking, no-nonsense, bit grumbly best friend, Mindy for help; keeping any Fantaskey fan avidly reading along as Jessica challenges this new world.

Here’s a heads up. Keep a lookout for Raniero, especially. I love characters and Raniero is definitely one to cherish. When you meet him, cliches will abound but persevere. He was one of the best book friends I meet last year. YES, I have book friends. Doesn't everyone?

**Check out The Wedding Chapters for the scoop on Jessica and Lucius’ paranormal and unconventional Wedding, found here:

For more information about author Beth Fantaskey, check out her website here:

Or you can follow her on twitter: @bethfantaskey

*Quote above used with permission