Bonus: October 2023 Reading Wrap-Up – NetGalley Picture Books

Welcome, my book friends!

In October, I was able to read these Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of children’s picture books.  I like to add a few of these to my monthly reading lists because they are quick to read and write reviews for, which helps bump up my NetGalley feedback ratio, which I always try to hover around 80%, which is the optimal percentage so publishers will approve me for ARCs to read.

I also read three graphic novels and two standard novels from NetGalley. If you follow me on GoodReads, then you’ve probably seen all of my reviews for the books that I read last month.

ARC Children’s Picture Books

Josie, Johnnie, and Rosie and the Ocean Rescue! by Michael Panzner

Genre: Children’s Picture Book
My GR Rating: 4
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: Follow the adventure of three wonderful friends – a little girl and twin unicorns – who journey to the beach and end up saving a family of fish. After rescuing them, the trio realizes the sea and the sand also need their help, and they join with others to clean things up. Aided by special unicorn magic, they restore nature’s beauty and show how to make our world a better place.

Dive into a vibrant and captivating read-aloud adventure! Bursting with color, this tale celebrates friendship, compassion, and kindness. Join our inspiring young heroes as they unite to preserve and protect our precious environment.

My Review: This is a really sweet, whimsical, and magical story about a girl and her twin unicorn best friends who go to the beach, enjoy their time together, and then help a family of fish escape from a net they are caught in, and then work together to clean up a dirty beach and ocean filled with trash and litter. 

I enjoyed the illustrations. They are bright and vibrant. I loved all the colors used. It’s very visually appealing, especially for kids. I also loved the font used for the text. 

I also appreciated the messages of cleaning up the environment and preserving nature for everyone to enjoy, but I did knock it down one star for being a bit too on-the-nose with its messaging. It could’ve been a tad more subtle and not felt so preachy. But it’s still a great message to teach to young children. I also enjoyed how everyone worked together to clean up the ocean and the beach – a great lesson about teamwork. 

This would be the perfect beach read or summer reading book while on summer vacation. Definitely recommend!

The Gobbler by E. G. Creel

Genre: Children’s Picture Book
My GR Rating: 4

GR Description: Two children are arguing, which catches the attention of a Gobbler, a creature who feeds and grows on hate. When they finally notice the Gobbler, nothing they do seems to get rid of it. They must discover the only thing that can defeat it before the Gobbler destroys their entire village. Will the children triumph over negativity? Or will the Gobbler destroy their entire village? Find out in this captivating story of courage and love!

My Review: This is a cute picture book with beautiful illustrations and a great message for kids without being preachy. I enjoyed this rhyming book, but it could’ve used a bit more polish with the rhymes. Some paragraphs or sentences didn’t flow as well as others. But I still enjoyed this story about being kind to each other. I really loved the artwork, especially of all the monster creatures. I think kids would really like those drawings. This is a wonderful book for younger kids to learn how easily hate can spread and how to combat it with love and kindness. Definitely recommend!

A Pack of Your Own by Maria Nilsson Thore

Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Publication Date: November 28, 2023
My GR Rating: 4
Pre-Order on Amazon here.

GR Description: A lonely dachshund dreams of having a friend, but every time the little sausage dog goes to the park they find it hard to fit in. They can only watch the other dogs playing and having fun. Until one day, a friend comes along…

A Pack of Your Own is a warm and funny story about friendship in a dog’s world. With exquisitely sweet illustrations, readers are invited to ask themselves questions about friendship. How much should one adapt in order to be accepted and valued by others? Do we really need to be similar in order to be friends? And can a dachshund and a poodle be friends despite their differences?

My Review: This was a really cute and funny picture book with a great message. As we follow along this dachshund, we see how different he is from other dogs. He acts more like a human than a typical dog, which is humorous and creative. There are some pretty funny scenes. He tries to act like other dogs, but he can’t seem to fit in with them, even when he tries really hard. It’s not who he truly is. So he wonders if he’ll ever find someone who will accept him for the way that he is. Then, he does, and they have such a great time together. 

This is the type of book with a message about being yourself and accepting who you are, even if you don’t fit in, but it didn’t feel preachy. They weaved it within the story in a fun and playful way. I’m glad he found a friend who accepted him and all his uniqueness. 

This short book is easy to read and doesn’t have a lot of words, which is perfect for kids learning to read. 

I also really loved the illustrations. They were beautiful and had a lot of detail. Definitely recommend!

There are No Dragons in this Book by Donna Lambo-Weidner

Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Publication Date: March 5, 2024
My GR Rating: 3
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: In this book, you are guaranteed not to find any dragons…

A clever interactive picture book—sure to keep kids laughing as they look for dragons.

There are no dragons in this book! Wait, is that really true? There was one right here, wasn’t there? Was he hiding in the attic? What do you mean, he’s not alone? Come on, let’s give the book a good shake and see what happens!

My Review: This was a whimsical, quirky, and cute picture book where you’re trying to spot the dragon. I think kids would enjoy this interactive story. It’s funny and lighthearted. The concept of the story was interesting and flowed well. However, the illustrations were a bit lackluster for me. They were cute but looked amateur. Honestly, I enjoyed the story more than the artwork, but it was still a fun, quick read.

Is a Worry Worrying You? by Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz

Genre: Children’s Picture Book
My GR Rating: 3
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: This book addresses children’s worries with humor and imagination, as hilarious scenarios teach kids the use of perspective and the art of creative problem-solving.

My Review: I appreciate the messages about anxiety and worry that this book attempted to convey; however, it felt too straightforward and preachy for a kids’ book. I prefer children’s books to be a lot more subtle and focus more on the story than the message. I find subtle nuances appealing, opting for more of a discreet integration over a bold, conspicuous approach. The story also felt a bit disjointed and a little too long. Some of the examples were too silly and didn’t make any sense. I wished they were more relatable and not so absurd. But overall, it was a decent book. For me, the illustrations were the best part. I really enjoyed the artwork.

Mothman’s Merry Cryptid Christmas by Andrew Shaffer

Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Publication Date: November 14, 2023
My GR Rating: 3
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: According to legend, a strange moth-like creature lives deep within the woods of West Virginia. Few have seen Mothman, but everyone agrees nothing good happens when he’s around-there always seems to be an accident or some other mishap. Is he really an unlucky charm, or does he get blamed for trouble just because of his strange glowing red eyes? When Rudolph takes an unexpected vacation one foggy Christmas Eve, Santa Claus comes to Mothman with a “Mothman with your eyes so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?” Whether he saves Christmas or accidentally destroys it, one thing is for the holidays will never be the same.

My Review: This was an interesting take on the classic Rudolph story. It didn’t quite follow along with the song, but it was cute, original, and it rhymed. I did find it a little unusual for a Christmas story. Younger kids may find it a bit scary or unsettling, but older kids will probably like it. It’s quirky and funny. There is also a few questions and answers at the end that help clarify a bit of the story and the myth behind the Mothman. I appreciated this clarification. The illustrations were nice but not my favorite. Overall, it was just okay for me.

A Penguin Like Me by Marcus Pfister

Genre: Children’s Picture Book
My GR Rating: 1
Buy on Amazon here.

GR Description: At first glance, all penguins look the same. But a closer look reveals that every penguin is different. Theo is the smartest of them all but doesn’t want to show it. Felix has short wings, Sarah loves to draw more than talk, and Lena is attracted to Ida. Each penguin has worries and fears, strengths and dreams. And yet, together they form a community.

My Review: This is nothing but woke propaganda disguised as a children’s picture book. At first glance, it seems like a cute, wholesome book about belonging and acceptance, but then it takes a turn to focus on diversity and gender ideology. This mature content does not belong in kids’ books, and I find it disgusting and appalling that these liberal messages are pushed upon innocent kids and unsuspecting parents. This type of content is inappropriate for children, especially young children. This is just more proof of social indoctrination going on via publishing houses. Also, politics aside, the story itself is just boring and too long. The one nice thing I can say about it is the artwork. The illustrations are cute.

Who Will Make the Snow? by Taras Prokhasko and Marjana Prokhasko

Genre: Kids’ Fantasy | Short Story & Novella
Publication Date: December 5, 2023
My GR Rating: 3
Pre-Order on Amazon here.

GR Description: Twin moles, Purr and Craw, are born on the first day of spring. The newest members of their woodland world, they’re curious about everything. What is swimming? Why does mother speak French as she makes pancakes? What does father scrawl in his notebook? Do animals live in the sea? Why do grownups eat smelly cheese? How do we get better when we’re sick? What happens when we die? As they start to grow up, every day is filled with another adventure as they explore the peculiar characters that surround them in the forest. Home is always waiting for them, filled with the clacking of father’s typewriter, the sound of mother playing her upright bass, and the smells of quince jam and medicinal moss brews. During their adventures outside the home, they learn that the world is sometimes scarier, stranger and more dangerous than it seemed from the pocket of their father’s coat. Each new encounter leaves Purr and Craw a little braver and wiser and with a few extra friends.

My Review: This was a sweet, wholesome story about a large family of moles and their animal friends living in the forest. We’re specifically following two mole pups who are born in the spring and mature and learn through the year. From the title and book cover, I thought this was a book about winter and snow, but we experience all four seasons in this story. The winter scene doesn’t happen until the very end of the book. 

Also, I thought this was a picture book but it’s a short story, split into seven short chapters. So this would be a great book for kids learning to read that may still be too young for longer middle grade chapter books. This was an easy, quick read, but still has a good amount of illustrations to admire and feel like a picture book. The artwork is not my favorite style, but they are cute illustrations and help to tell the story. 

This is highlighted as a “Social Emotional Learning adventure,” where the mole pups are learning more about the world around them and getting out of their comfort zones. There are plenty of good life lessons to obtain from this story. They live and behave like humans, which is cute. However, I found it quite boring. It felt more like a slice-of-life story, which was cozy and delightful, but I wanted more action, just something interesting and exciting to happen to engage me more. 

Reading this book as an adult was just okay for me, but I’m sure kids would enjoy it more. If you know a child who enjoys animal stories, then I definitely recommend this one!

*Please note that I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program and a member of other affiliate programs. I may receive commissions from qualifying purchases made through links in this article.

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