Book Review: The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale

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The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale
 Written by Ying Chang Compestine 
Illustrated by Sebastia Serra 
Published: 2011 by Dutton Children’s Books, 32 pages 
Ages: 6 – 8
Topics: Chinese New Year, generosity, humorous

Ming Zhang’s family is poor and cannot afford an extravagant feast for their Chinese New Year. However, Ming’s mother states that they’ll make fried rice to share. Ming is given instructions to get food from the market, but instead he’s tricked to buy a singing wok: “Boy, boy trade for me, I am more than what you see!” Of course, his mother is upset that he returned with no food and an old wok when they have no food to cook with. The wok runs away to the rich Li family who Papa works for. The wok takes all their delicious food and skips back to the Zhang household. The wok dashes away again to the Li house and fills up with the spoiled son’s New Years toys. The Li family discover the wok’s mischief , but the wok states: “I dare you there to try to catch me!” Meanwhile, the Zhang family was generous and held a wonderful New Year’s celebration with dragons, drums, and fireworks. It had the combination of Jack and the Beanstalk buying the magic beans and the Gingerbread Man who couldn’t be caught. The back of the book provides Chinese New Year information and a fried rice recipe.





The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming

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The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming, a Christmas Story 

By Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Lisa Brown

Ages 6 & up, 24 pages


Lemony Snicket is most often recognized for his A Series of Unfortunate Events book series. This is a humorous story about a latke or a potato pancake eaten during the celebration of Hanukkah. The latke began screaming when it was heated in a pan full of oil. So what’s a toasted latke to now do? Well of course it then jumps out of the hot pan and out the window. It ran down the street past flashing Christmas lights who angrily shout that they are the ones to make cheer. The flashing lights believe he’s just hash browns, but the latke screams that it’s completely different. It then comes across a candy cane who’s upset that the screaming is spoiling the peppermint scent. The latke responds that its smell symbolizes the feeling of Hanukkah. The candy cane states that someone should write a Christmas carol about it. Of course, the latke screams that it’s not part of Christmas and it’s a completely different thing. The latke continues to scream until it stumbles into a forest. Finally, a family finds the latke and takes it home to eat for their Hanukkah dinner with applesauce and sour cream. The last pages explain that it’s sometimes difficult to be understood and makes you want to scream, but everything should be welcomed somewhere. The latke was welcome in a home where people understood it and fit perfectly during the Hanukkah celebration.

Book Review: Three French Hens

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Three French Hens

by Margie Palatini, illustrated by Richard Egielski

Ages 6 & up, 36 pages


On the third day of Christmas a mademoiselle from Paris sent her true love three French hens, two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree. However, there was a major problem with a smudged address because the hens never arrived to the true love. Colette, Poulette, and Fifi decide they will deliver themselves and find Monsieur Philippe Renard. They look in the New York City phone book and discover that they’re actually searching for Phil Fox. As you may have guessed, Phil Fox is a fox and hasn’t had a good meal in a month and has no friends. Phil Fox opens his door and sees his next meal. Before he realizes it, the French hens have bathed him, decorated his house, and cooked delicious food. Phil Fox feels somewhat guilty, because he’s not who they think he is and isn’t even French. Colette, Poulette, and Fifi don’t care at all and like their friend just as he is. Phil Fox is touched that the French hens consider him a friend. A great friendship forms between three French hens from Paris and Phil Fox from the Bronx.

Book Review: Turk and Runt

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Turk and Runt: A Thanksgiving Comedy 

by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Frank Ansley

Ages 4-6, 32 pages


Turk’s parents are so proud of him. His mother believes he’s a dancer and his father believes he’ll make a football player. Nobody listens to his brother Runt who continues to state that Turk looks juicy and ready to be roasted. A ballet instructor and football coach visit the farm and desire the best turkey. Well, Turk dances and tackles to impress them. Runt puts on a disastrous display and nobody picks a turkey, because they think they’re crazy. Finally, his family believes Runt and they prepare themselves when others visit the farm searching for a turkey.

Book Review: Hoot

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by Carl Hiaasen

Ages 10 & up, 292 pages

Realistic Fiction, Humorous

I really enjoyed this book and finished it in a day. I don’t want to share too much information about the book, because part of the reason that kept me reading was the mystery held my attention. Roy Eberhardt is the new student at Trace Middle in Florida. He’s constantly bullied and misses his last home in Montana. If it wasn’t for Roy’s bully, Dana Materson, pushing his face against the window on the school bus then he wouldn’t have seen the strange boy running with no shoes. Roy’s curious about this boy and is determined to see him again, which causes Roy trouble. Another story plot occurs with mysterious vandalism at the future site for the next Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House. Survey stakes in the ground are removed and even animals are let loose. The running boy and vandalism mystery plot move back and forth and finally intertwine in the middle. The characters are well developed and the story elements move smoothly. Hoot will surely keep your interest as you discover what all the hoot is about in this humorous tale as a young boy attempts to do what is right while surviving at school. I highly recommend this book for all ages! Hoot also won a Newbery Honor in 2003.

Book Review: A Plump and Perky Turkey

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A Plump and Perky Turkey 

by Teresa Bateman, illustrated by Jeff Shelly

Ages 5-8, 32 pages


Thanksgiving is approaching and Squawk Valley has a terrible problem, there’s no turkey. Everyone agrees that what they need is a plump and perky turkey, but all the turkeys near town have gotten smarter and leave when autumn arrives. So, Ebenezer Beezer has a plan that the turkey will find them instead at a turkey art show. They post papers in the forest that the town desires a plump and perky turkey to model for the show. Pete, the turkey, applies and models as townspeople create turkeys from clay, oatmeal, soap, and more. Pete picked the the winner, but then disappeared. All the turkey art made a camouflage to leave. He ate the oatmeal as his modeling fee. The townspeople in Squawk Valley learn a lesson and enjoy Thanksgiving with no turkey. I thought this was a delightful and funny book that is written in rhyme. You’ll be cheering for the turkey that got away.

Book Review: I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie

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I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie

by Alison Jackson, illustrated by Judith Byron Schachner

Ages 4-7, 32 pages


This book is similar to I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly as she continues to eat more and more. It begins with an old lady who ate a Thanksgiving pie that was really too dry. She then drinks cider to moisten the dry pie. The humorous tale continues as she eats squash, a whole turkey, an entire cake, but what puts her over the top is some bread. The old lady becomes so huge at the end that she’s in a Thanksgiving parade. It’s a fun book that I’m sure most will get a laugh at. Perhaps you’ll think twice before going up for seconds.