Hi there... This is the first page of the Letter "N" in an alphabetical list of children's books reviewed on ReadThatAgain.com... All these books are also listed by Author in another section of the site.

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Kids Books -- "N" By Title
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"The Napping House"
Written by Audrey Wood
Illustrated by Don Wood
(Harcourt/Red Wagon, 1984)

A satisfying sleepytime book where one thing leads to another, and disaster leads to delight. One day, in a big house, a grandma is taking a nap, then the grandchild climbs on top of her, then the dog snuggles up on the kid, and then a cat, and then a mouse... all of them piled up, one on top of the other. Alas, a sneaky little flea bites the mouse, and the whole house of cards falls apart, with energetic, explosive hilarity. The child and the granny laugh it off, and then go outside to play, keeping everything on a light note. I'm not wild about the artwork, but this is a great book for the littlest readers to enjoy. It was requested to be reread several times... Recommended! (B)


"Naptime For Slippers"
Written by Andrew Clements
Illustrated by Janie Bynum
(Dutton Books, 2005)

One of the later books in the "Slippers" series, preceded by Slippers At Home and Slippers At School. The formula is more strained here, as Slippers the super-cute puppy can't fall asleep and gets in all sorts of mild misadventures as he tosses and turns and flops his little puppy paws out of his doggy bed. This one didn't do much for me, but it's inoffensive and doesn't have any objectionable material, if "family" entertainment is a priority, this won't expose your kid to anything icky or weird. But it's not a very good book, either. Try the earlier volumes first. (C+)


"Never Tease A Weasel"
Written by Jean Conder Soule
Illustrated by Denman Hampson
(Parents' Magazine Press, 1964)

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"Never Tease A Weasel"
Written by Jean Conder Soule
Illustrated by George Booth
(Random House, 2007)

A new version of a goofy old kids' book wherein some very good advice -- never tease a weasel -- is given amid kooky rhymes that describe all sorts of other animal-related tomfoolery. Much of it involves clothing various critters -- putting high heels on turkeys, giving fur coats to goats, Easter bonnets to opossums, and the like. The rhyming text is tightly crafted and fun to read -- this book is nonsensical and fun, with wonderfully nutty illustrations from George Booth (one of my all-time favorite New Yorker artists...) A very enjoyable book, definitely worth checking out! (A)


"The New Girl At School"
Written by Judy Delton
Illustrated by Lillian Hoban
(E. P. Dutton, 1979)

A young girl named Marcia is starting classes in a new school, and feels left out and insecure at every turn. Slowly, though, she starts finding friends, learning the ropes and fitting in... By the end of the story, she's one of the old-timers when a new new girl shows up and goes through the same fitting-in process. A simple, understated story with nice artwork that helps readers feel they are really there in the classroom seeing it all unfold. A good book for this subject... It also hints at being a book about moving to a new place, and possibly a single-parent book as well. (B+)


"New Shoes, Red Shoes"
Written by Susan Rollings
Illustrated by Susan Rollings
(Orchard Books, 2000)

A young girl goes to the shoe store with her mother and picks out a shiny new pair of shoes for a big birthday party she's been invited to. She's all smiles as she goes to the store, picks out the shoes, takes them home, tries them on and wears them to the big bash. The text isn't particularly compelling, but the book is cheerful and giddily exuberant... Nice artwork helps, too; great for toddlers. If getting new shoes is a hot topic around your house, you might really enjoy this one. (B)


"Nini Here And There"
Written by Anita Lobel
Illustrated by Anita Lobel
(Greenwillow, 2007)

Nini, the grey tabby cat, knows something's up when the humans in the house start to pack up all their stuff... Worried that they plan to leave without her, Nini makes a nuisance of herself by sitting on top of things she knows they'll want. Then... she sees they've also got kitty carrying case out! By then, it's too late, and Nini gets scooped up, then zipped into her big black carrying bag. She protests, but eventually gives up and drift off to sleep, and thus begins the most wonderful part of this book: Nini's dream. Going from one fantastic scenario to another, Nini dozes her way to a new home. Here, the chunky, collage-ish artwork really takes off -- observant readers may notice little details like how each page hints at the page to come: the palm tree Nini sits under turns into palm tree wallpaper, a tiny boat in the corner of one page becomes a full-blown kitty ship inthe next. And so on. Finally, when Nini wakes up, the humans let her out and she sees her new home, a beautiful country house with a wide, green orchard and lots of grass to romp around in. Talk about happy endings! This is a wonderful book, particularly for the kitty-kat inclined. (A-)


"Nobody Notices Minerva"
Written by Wednesday Kirwan
Illustrated by Wednesday Kirwan
(Sterling, 2007)

When Minerva, a little girl/puppy with big attitude, wakes up on the wrong side of bed, she really wakes up on the wrong side of bed. Minerva spends the whole day misbehaving -- jabbing her brother with a fork, pulling the stuffing out of chairs, stripping houseplants of their leaves, and sulking in various corners of the house. But nothing gets a rise out of her parents or siblings, and Minerva finally breaks down and cries, thinking that no one cares. Then her dad magically appears and tells her that, indeed, he had noticed her acting out all day, and suggests that there might be better ways to get attention. After mulling it over, Minerva decides he's right, and starts helping with household chores and being a sweetie-pie again. For families that can laugh at mischief and misbehavior, this book certainly offers a lot of good material, especially when Minerva tries so hard to top herself, making the humor build and build... However, as a charter member of Overprotectivoids Of America, I'll have to keep this book under lock and key until my kid turns 21 -- don't want to put any bad ideas in her head! Seriously, though, this is a pretty cute book; families will have to preview it and see if it feels right for them. (B)


"No Foal Yet"
Written by Jessie Haas
Illustrated by Jos. A. Smith
(Greenwillow, 1995)

Nora and her family are waiting for one of their horses, a mare named Bonnie, to give birth. Grandpa stays up late several nights in a row, but it is Nora who happens to be there when the foal finally comes. A nice, simple story which imparts the sense of drama and urgency surrounding a farmyard birth, but only hints at potential dangers. Again, Haas imparts a sense of wonder and reverence for life... Kids who are into horses should love this book; nice, also, if you want to teach them about life on the farm. (A)


"No Nap!"
Written by Eve Bunting
Illustrated by Susan Meddaugh
(Clarion, 1989)

Chaos rules when Dad takes care of little Susie for the day, and she refuses to take a nap. He tries all sorts of strategies to tire her out, placate or cajole her, but eventually it's dear old Dad who passes out, and Susie who's awake when Mama gets home. The story rings true, but it may still make a few parents uneasy to read a book that models so many different strategies (and excuses) for not going to bed. Still, it's pretty charming -- nice punchline at the end! (B)


"Not A Box"
Written by Antoinette Portis
Illustrated by Antoinette Portis
(Harper Collins, 2006)

Isn't it funny how the simplest toys bring the greatest pleasures? Y'know... some kids, you buy then the whole set of My Pricey Ponies and twelve different fusion-hybrid Tonka Transformers with in-dash satellite radios... and then all they wanna play with is the cardboard box that their new sweater came in. This is a book for those kids. A little stick-figure bunny is seen in, on, under, on top of and behind what looks like a box, but every time the narrator asks what they are doing with the box, the bunny gets huffy and says, "It's not a box!" In the bunny's mind, it's a rocket, a robot, a race car, a sailing ship... Finally, exasperated at the adult intrusions in the land of pretend, the bunny finally labels the box as a "Not-A-Box," meaning that it is an object of imagination, something than can be anything you want it to be... But certainly nothing as drab as an ordinary old "box." This is a fun, quirky story -- kids might like the invitation to imagination, and the chance to talk about the way your can pretend to be or do anything. This book -- and its sequel -- might also make a good companion to Marisabina Russo's The Big Brown Box. (B)


"No Trouble At All"
Written by Sally Grindley
Illustrated by Elanor Taylor
(Bloomsbury Books, 2002)

A loveable, absent-minded grandfather bear has his two grandcubs over for the night, but while he thinks they are peacefully off to sleep, they are actually padding about upstairs (and then outside), having pillowfights and getting into the pantry. Gramps never catches on, all the while affably commenting to his cat what good little children these two are... I'm not wild about this series, but I suppose the books are harmless enough. Followed in '04 by A Little Bit Of Trouble, which follows pretty much the same theme. (B)


"Now, Soon, Later"
Written by Lisa Grunwald
Illustrated by Jane Johnson
(Greenwillow, 1996)

Does your kid have an occasional bout of impatience from time to time? Well, this is a swell little book that introduces the concept of "later," casting it in a very positive light, by showing a little girl passing through the day, going from one enjoyable activity to the next: waking up, playing in the park, going back home, etc. Each page is a triptych of panels, showing her moving from what is happening now to what will happen later in the day. The realistic artwork is pleasant and clear, as is the message of patience and progress. Recommended! (B+)


"Nutmeg And Barley: A Budding Friendship"
Written by Janie Bynum
Illustrated by Janie Bynum
(Candlewick, 2006)

Opposites attract in this tale of a shy field mouse named Barley, and his rambunctious, chatty neighbor, Nutmeg the squirrel. Nutmeg is always inviting Barley over to visit, and he is always too shy and self-contained to consent. Finally, when the mouse gets a bad cold, Nutmeg takes over and nurses him back to health, cementing a lifelong friendship and/or romance. I wasn't wild about this book, but my daughter loved it (for about a week...) The artwork was okay, but the story struck me as fairly old-fashioned, with stereotyped gender roles and a clumsy resolution. But in one of those Barney-like moments, it rang a bell in my kid's imagination, so instead of shuffling it out of the way (as planned), I wound up reading it for much longer than I'd have guessed... Might not strike a chord with parents, but some kids will love it. (B-)




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