Children’s Book Round Up

EW’s mom reviewer and her son weigh in

By Elisha Young and Atlas

Our children’s book reviews may have received the most extensive scrutiny of any category. This quartet of books from Quarto Publishing were looked at three times — once by me, Eugene Weekly’s local mom reviewer Elisha, then they were given to Atlas, my quirky and blunt 7-year-old son to read and enjoy on his own. And finally, we looked over the books together to discuss our thoughts. 

Ella May Does It Her Way by Mike Jackson and Andrea Stegmaier. Quarto Publishing, $17.95.

Ella May Does It Her Way is the first book in a new series that follows the whimsical adventures of a very strong willed and inquisitive little girl. The story starts off with Ella May being encouraged by her mom to try new things, a concept that sparks the mind of the tiny human non-conformist. Ella May does try something new, the novel idea of walking backwards, and before you know it, the whole town has joined in on the fun. The story is fresh and thinks out of the box, and Ella May’s ways will surely inspire your own wee folk to try new things. With kid friendly text and engaging beautiful artwork — this is a charmingly fun read with an excellent moral at the core.

Atlas says: “ I’ll give it a gold star. The pictures were as good as the stories. Also, Ella May has amazing hair.”

The Animal Awards by Tor Freeman and Martin Jenkins. Quarto Publishing, $19.99.

It’s always nice to come across a book marketed to children that is secretly educational. You know they type — where your little one gets so lost in the playfulness of a story that he does not even realize that he’s are actually digesting a good deal of educational matter. The Animal Awards hit that nail on the head with its take on zoology for ages 7 to 9. The book is playful, engaging the reader to take part in an award show of sorts, with categories like “The Nosiest” and “The Really Smelly Award.”

As the book continues, your child is introduced to more than 50 species of animals who are nominated, and then highlights a winner for each category. The pages are full of facts to digest about the animals — from their behavior to their habitat and everything in between. The absolutely hilarious drawings are a captivating touch.

Atlas says: “ This book is so funny. I can’t stop laughing at the pictures, and who knew that naked mole rats live in huge communities? This one is an A+ book all the way.”

Encyclopedia of Animals by Jules Howard, with illustrations by Jarom Vogel. Quarto Publishing, $22.99.

If you are looking to wow the tiny animal lover in your life, this book is a must have. The encyclopedia of animals comprehensively covers 300 species of the diverse animal kingdom. Howard manages to present scientific facts and animal classifications in a kid friendly format. Each animal profiled contains an appropriate of information for children ages 7 to 10, and helps little ones see the similarities across the animal kingdom. Due to some longer scientific words, this book is best enjoyed as a family venture. The illustrations are bold and beautiful, and further enrich the learning experience. The Encyclopedia of Animals is not your average encyclopedia, but rather an inviting and informative beautifully executed read.

Atlas says: “It was cool that the book included animals that my mom and dad did not know about. Also, the help at the beginning was nice because it showed me how to use the book. More gold stars.”

Atlas of Ocean Adventures Illustrated by Lucy Letherland and written by Emily Hawkins. Quarto Publishing, $35.

I know, don’t judge a book by its cover, but, I have to start off by saying this is a gorgeous book. 

The finishing work, large format and captivating illustrations just make you want to pick it up and take a deep dive in to the content. Impressively, the written content is just as alluring to both children and adults alike. The coverage is thorough, highlighting the creatures that live in the ocean as well as the varied habitats, underwater events and more. With 30-plus scenes to explore, your wee ocean lover will be transported to a realistic and enchanting ocean adventure. The illustrations spark the imagination while the text inspires life long learning – a winning combination. Letherland and Hawkins really went above and beyond with this fascinating and illuminating book; it truly takes the reader on an adventure as they work through the pages.

Atlas says: “ Well obviously this book gets 16 out of 10 because it has my name in it. But really, I like that it’s bigger than many other books, because I can really see the pictures. Plus, I learned all kinds of things — like I need a submarine because I want to go see all of these amazing creatures in real life.”