Blog Tour + Review : Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney

Published by Viking Books for Young Readers Genres: Children's Books, Children's Picture Book

Welcome to the blog tour for Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney. If the name sounds familiar, it is because Anna wrote the beloved LLAMA LLAMA series.  In Little Excavator we are introduced to a brand new character to love called “Little E”.


About The Book:

There’s Loader and Dump Truck, Backhoe and Crane. They’re ready to transform a vacant lot into a neighborhood park. And who wants to help most of all? Little Excavator! But are there any jobs for someone so small?This is a book for fans of Anna’s work (her signature rhyming text and illustrations make this a perfect read aloud) and for all kids fascinated with things that go! And it ultimately includes the message that bigger doesn’t mean better—when you’re small you can accomplish big things too.

About the Author:

Anna Dewdney was a teacher, mother, and enthusiastic proponent of reading aloud to children. She continually honed her skills as an artist and writer and published her first Llama Llama book in 2005. Her passion for creating extended to home and garden and she lovingly restored an 18th century farmhouse in southern Vermont. She wrote, painted, gardened, and lived there with her partner, Reed, her two daughters, two wirehaired pointing griffons, and one bulldog. Anna passed away in 2016, but her spirit will live on in her books.


Thank you to Penguin/Viking Young Readers for providing me with a finished copy in exchange for an honest review. #PRHPartner


My Review:

All Little Excavator wants to do is help build the new neighborhood park. He might be small, but he’s got heart and spirit.  This is one of the many lessons this charming book has to offer, along with a variety of rhyming texts that is sure to keep the kiddies entertained. The beautiful illustrations are bold and full of color.

Children will be drawn in by Little E, as he tries to find the right job to do, and how he (though small) can help in a BIG way. At first he seems to be more in the way than helping, but by the end of the tale, it is his small size that helps complete the park.

The lesson of “size doesn’t matter” and that anyone (big or small) can make a contribution are lessons that every child needs to learn, and be encouraged to act on in daily life. This is one of my very favorite lessons from Little Excavator. Most importantly, this lesson flows through the story, and isn’t “preached” at but gently demonstrated.

Little ones will have a blast reading Little Excavator out loud either in a group or with their caregivers. My nephews love playing with their trucks, and they especially loved making all the noises of the various construction vehicles as I read this book with them. They were very happy that Little E was able to help out in the end.  Little E was a big hit with them and I highly recommend it for little readers everywhere.

YA Fiction Book Review: Transcendent by Katelyn Detweiler

YA Fiction Book Review: Transcendent by Katelyn DetweilerTranscendent by Katelyn Detweiler
Published by Viking Books for Young Readers on October 4th 2016
Pages: 448

A beautiful work of magical realism, a story about a girl in the real world who is called upon to be a hero.  When terrorists bomb Disney World, seventeen-year-old Iris Spero is as horrified as anyone else. Then a stranger shows up on her stoop in Brooklyn, revealing a secret about the mysterious circumstances surrounding Iris’s birth, and throwing her entire identity into question. Everything she thought she knew about her parents, and about herself, is a lie.   Suddenly, the press is confronting Iris with the wild notion that she might be “special.” More than just special: she could be the miracle the world now so desperately needs. Families all across the grieving nation are pinning their hopes on Iris like she is some kind of saint or savior. She’s no longer sure whom she can trust—except for Zane, a homeless boy who long ago abandoned any kind of hope. She knows she can’t possibly be the glorified person everyone wants her to be… but she also can’t go back to being safe and anonymous. When nobody knows her but they all want a piece of her, who is Iris Spero now? And how can she—one teenage girl—possibly heal a broken world?


Transcendent is a story about belief. Iris is the 17yr old daughter of Mina (who immaculately conceives Iris, but no one believes Mina’s story). The premise of the story takes place a month after a bombing occurs at Disney World. Like everyone else around her, Iris is trying to sort out her feelings regarding these traumatic events. One day a stranger comes to her door and pleads for her mother’s “miracle” child to cure his dying daughter. Now all of a sudden Iris’s “normal” life is turned upside down as she learns the truth about herself.

To some, the “virgin birth” of Iris might conjure up the idea that this is a religious book. But that is not the case with this story. Transcendent isn’t set around one specific religion. Instead, it is about the idea and concept of belief. What it means to believe and how believing in something or someone can inspire hope in darker times. Which is why after the tragic events that occur in this book, people are so willing to believe that Iris is a “miracle”. They need something or someone to give them hope and they see Iris as that hope.

With the expectations of the world on her shoulder, it is no wonder that Iris flees her home once she discovers the truth from her parents. Frightened and looking for a way to cope with these sudden revelations she ends up at a homeless shelter. While she processes her feelings, Iris befriends siblings Zane and Zoey. Iris knows she is no “savior” or healer, but together with the help of her family and her new friends she finds the courage to use her musical talent and persuasive ability to heal people’s internal suffering rather than their external pain.

Transcendent is well written though it did lag a bit in a few places. The author did a great job creating a realistic and plausible story. However, the ending felt rushed. I think Transcendent is more of a general YA fiction instead of magical realism. Though there are some hints to magical realism, they did not feel strong enough (for me at least).

I did like Iris and I felt protective of her. She wasn’t perfect which made her a relatable heroine. After all, which of us at age 17 would be willing to self-sacrifice for the good of the world? To take on the challenges of making everything better for millions of people? Who just like Iris would not feel overwhelmed and lost? The friendship sparked between Iris with Zane and Zoey made good additions to the story. It helped us see Iris reach out and touch the lives of other children her own age, and brought emotional depth to the characters.

While it is not the story I was expecting, Transcendent did surprise me. The author did a fantastic job keeping her story from becoming overly preachy. Transcendent is about finding the strength to believe in yourself. It teaches us to find our own happiness and to help others who are struggling find it too. It is also about how we should focus on love and acceptance over resentment and hate. Overall, Transcendent is about finding the everyday miracles in each other  and in every moment of our lives.

I would like to thank Viking books for Young Readers and Leah at PressshopPR for providing me with a finished copy of Transcendent in return for an honest review.