Category Archives: Reviews

Picture Book Review: Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32

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Door32 CoverWhat’s behind door number thirty-two? That’s the question that leads a reader through this marvelous counting picture book called “Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32” by B.C.R. Fegan. Illustrations are by Lenny Wen. Through visiting the fantastical Hoo Hotel, your introduced around by the owner to all the rooms, each time warned not to open room number thirty-two. Fairies, trolls, mad scientists, vampire mermaids and other magical amusing creatures await to greet you behind each door. Just don’t open door number thirty-two. By the time you get to the door, the surprise is a logical laugh to end the book.

BCR-Fegan

B.C.R. Fegan is the author of “Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32”.

I enjoyed reading through this book thinking about all of the teaching applications possible. It is the beginnings of Math at its best combined with a journey through the imagination. You are curious to see what awaits behind each door. The illustrations are a treat for the eyes lending to the creativity of the story.

This book would be a great read-aloud for beginning counting and looking for patterns in literature. With all the fantastic creatures, it lends itself as a Halloween read as well. I’d recommend this book for beginning readers and preschool age children. Parents will enjoy reading this book over and over to help their child enjoy the process of counting.

This book is available at: Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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Picture Book Review: The Little Book of Character Strengths

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LittleBkStrengthcvrIf you are looking for a read-aloud at home or in the classroom, here is a great picture book for you on social morals. The Little Book of Character Strength by June Rousso, Ph.D. is a page-by-page summary of basic, good moral principles to instill in students and your child. Subjects include: love of learning, courage, perseverance, honesty, humanity, kindness, social intelligence, justice, fairness, leadership, temperance, humility and prudence just to name a few.

Each moral trait is defined and expressed in rhyming lines and beautiful anime-like watercolor illustrations. Each trait can be read daily to inspire a child or taken in groups to help with building vocabulary and character in school. They could also be used as writing prompts to get children to think deeper. I found it to be an interesting book that could be read a page at a time or in sections. It would make a great instructional tool for the classroom or at home.

The Little Book of Strengths is available at: Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. 

***For more information on June Russo Ph.D., visit her website HERE!

Note: I was given a review copy for a fair and honest review. 😉

 

Free Collection of 19th and Early 20th Century Children’s Literature Available On-Line

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Covers from Baldwin CollectionSometimes I do run into some cool information while doing research on-line. When I find something cool, I like to pass on the information.

Now that we’ve been entering the digital age, we may lose previous works of literature to deterioration. But places like institutes and universities are helping to preserve these great works of the past, and now you can read them too. All for FREE!

I found a wonderful on-line archive of different children’s books from over 100-150 years ago. This is great for kids to see what generations past read for their school books or as their entertainment. It gives an insight to how literature has developed. It’s a literary treasure trove to look through. It has been built and is maintained by the University of Florida Digital Collection and is called the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature. 

I’m linking the starting point here. I just have to warn you. You can get lost in it all, especially when you discover an unusual book. Plus, share your finds in the comments below. It will be great to share some of the books that we found unusual or interesting.

Good luck, and have fun reading!

 

YA Book Review: An Authentic Experience by Kelly Wittmann

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AAE- KWittmanIt’s interesting to see what comes across my virtual desk as a blogger and children’s author. I had a recent submission for a premise that intrigued me, Gen X rocker-punk parents in conflict with their trying to be normal Millennial daughter. It’s called An Authentic Experience by Kelly Wittman. With music references that brought back memories to me, I was wondering what a YA would be like with my generation as the “parental unit”. I wasn’t disappointed.

Silver Abelli is being a rebel against rebel parents. With Gen-Xer ex-rockstar parents, she feels trapped in her homeschooled anti-social and anti-establishment life. She yearns to go to high school like normal 15 year olds, and even maybe try out for cheerleading and date a football player. Normal American teenager stuff.

But there is one drawback. Her fabulous musical family is not normal. Her mother has a brain tumor and is going through recovery from its removal. Enter her rocker Dad, divorced from her Mom, Silver has to live with him for awhile until all is well with her Mom. Thus starts the beginning of everything, and also, be careful what you wish for.

Silver meets the gorgeous football player at the beginning of the book. Through all the struggles with her Mom’s illness and conflicts with her cynical Gen-X Dad, now Ipod alternative music expert, she finally meets Jake, that dreamy footballer via her cousin, Natalie. Ups and downs commence, in which the romance blooms, Dad wants to get the band back together, and her Mom goes through issues with her health.

But it all comes together in a horrible attack Silver must keep secret or it will ruin everything. But will she have the courage to come forward and accuse her attacker even at the risk of losing her boyfriend and her father’s chance at a reboot of his career?

I was hooked by the Gen X vs. Millennial generational conflict, which does become a basic thorn in the main character’s side. I mean, who relates with their parents? It had enough angst about this, but I kept enjoying and relating with the adults in the book far more than the 15 year old. Maybe it’s because of the 80s references, alternative music mentioned, or the feeling that the book was written by a Gen Xer. I enjoyed it all, but I didn’t get a real 15 year old vibe at times from the main character.

I did get a good up and down sense with the YA romance, but some of the conflicts were talked or told to me instead of shown. It could have used some real dialogue to show the evil of the Channing/villian character or the feelings grow more between Silver and Jake romantically. I just wanted a little more in those areas.

I did enjoy the conflicts between Silver and her parents, living with semi-famous 90s rockers and helping her mother through crisis was compelling writing. But I left wondering how a Millennial 15 year old girl would feel reading this. Would she care about the Violent Femmes references? Know that “Silver” was an Echo and the Bunnymen song?

I know that any Gen Xer that enjoyed alternative music back in the day would really enjoy this and get sucked into the story. Whether a teenager now would enjoy this? I think so. I think it captures enough of the ever happening conflict between generations, which is timeless.

Perhaps it will help bridge that mysterious gap between generations. Parents and children can read it together and have something in common to talk about besides everyone just looking at their phones. Think how the 1950s were looked at in the 1980s.

If anything, this reaches out to readers in two generations, and that is a good thing. Maybe the eighties references will get families talking about the past and how things in the end, don’t really change. Families are still families, and that seems to be a main theme in this book. In the end, teenagers could read this with their parents, and it would be mutually enjoyable.

***An Authentic Experience is available at Amazon.com.

To Note: I received a review copy for an honest review.

YA Book Review: Damselfly

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Damselfly_coverI’ve come across a compelling YA. Damselfly by Chandra Prasad is a book that combines aspects of the TV show “Lost” and the book Lord of the Flies. Samantha Mishra finds herself in the middle of the jungle holding a glass eye. And doesn’t remember why. It just gets better from there.

Sam is traveling with her private school’s fencing group to Japan when their plane crashes on an island presumably in the South Pacific. Members make gruesome discoveries of those that didn’t make it, but manage to piece together the remaining passengers into a real game of “Survivor”. Waiting to be rescued, tensions from the social make-up of private school and the “real world” start to take their toll. A lurking menace stalks them before they can safely be rescued from the island. Can they figure the mystery before they are found?

This was an interesting take on a girl’s version of the “Lord of the Flies”. I liked the tension and social clicks being challenged and played with just to survive in the jungle, sort of like a “Breakfast Club” on a deserted island. I enjoyed the girl power perspective in this book, finally, giving a new POV missing from the classic. In the end, it was fun to see how all gets rectified. I’d recommend this for YA readers that enjoy a new spin on old concepts.

**I received an ARC copy for an honest review.

The release date for this book is on March 27, 2018. It is available for preorder at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and Kobo.com.

Middle Grade Book Review: The Supernatural Pet Sitter (The Rescue)

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SPSCoverjpegMiddle grade novels are my forte. So you can take my word when I find a new one that is awesome. The Supernatural Pet Sitter: The Rescue by Diane Moat is a fun take on a world with gnomes, elves and witches all living together with humans. It’s like the world evolved differently than our own world. I loved it!

Pepper is a gnome that has already had some amazing adventures. In previous books, she has already been helping her world with her best witch friend, Luna. But now, some high school students have gotten trapped in a cave-in. Her whole family and neighbors are activated, as the whole community of elves, gnomes and witches work with the humans to free them. Then, the secret of who is behind all the attacks underground is revealed. TROLLS! Can Pepper work with her friends to defend her family and neighborhood against these ancient foe?

I really like this series. It is filled with characters I would enjoy as a kid: gnomes, witches, and elves. Relating with a gnome as the main character, it’s like playing a mini-Dungeon and Dragons game with Diane Moat as the DM. Add the fact that they are part of a community and trying to help humans and the greater good, I’d recommend this for kids that love fantasy. This book is number three in the series.

***The Supernatural Pet Sitter: The Rescue is available at Amazon.com and is a Kindle Unlimited title.

Graphic Novel Review: The Adventures of Junior & Rubble-The Oil Monster Part 2

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Junior_and_Rubble_CoverWith the interest in superheroes these days, I’ve stumbled upon a unique twist on the genre. The Adventures of Junior and Rubble: The Oil Monster Part Two  has a superhero that is tied to the Earth and fights environmental themed villains. This is right up my alley. I just couldn’t resist.

Junior discovers he has unique powers that he is refueled to use when touching a golden raintree. His friends Seth and Jack join in the hunt to find the start of an oil slick. Working together to solve the mystery, Junior reveals his powers to his friends and they begin to work together to help the environment.

I do like this interesting take on a modern day superhero. With the Earth and nature as his energy source, it’s a nice twist in a hero character. I like the fact they are solving environmental problems and educating the reader. I also think that the fairies in my children’s books would approve. This would make a great addition to a classroom library or for a child that has trouble reading middle grade novels.

**The Adventures of Junior and Rubble-The Oil Monster Part 2 is available at Amazon.com and Kobo.com. 

Children’s YA/Middle Grade Book Review: The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to OSM

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BlueUnicornCoversmallI am a sucker for a good unicorn story. Ever since I read The Last Unicorn in high school, I’m drawn to them. So, when The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to OSM by Sybrina Durant crossed my virtual desk, I couldn’t help but take a peek. I’m glad I did. In a land that resembles many video game worlds, map is included in the book; I began my adventure with Blue the Unicorn.

Set in a beautiful land of fairies and unicorns, The Blue Unicorn is a misfit, a unicorn with no magical gift. A prophecy said he would save the unicorns from the evil sorcerer trying to destroy them all. But so far, he was just an ordinary unicorn, until the day the Moon-Star was to appear. Now, Blue must meet his destiny to save the unicorns and defeat the evil sorcerer.

This plucky fantasy story is in a unique format of short chapters. It has beautiful, colorful illustrations for each small chapter, and moves the story along with the imagination. It is a complicated world with unicorns given unique personalities and powers. This fantasy adventure will be great for any child that loves to get lost in a fantasy world. And oh yeah, it’s got unicorns! Always a plus!

***The Blue Unicorn’s Journey to OSM is available on Amazon.com and is a Kindle Unlimited title.

Children’s Picture Book Review: Ernest Hummingbird

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Earnest Hummingbird

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and as an app in the IOS store.

I’ve got a real treat for your Holiday list. Ernest Hummingbird is an absolutely charming picture book written and illustrated by David Feiss. Mr. Feiss created “Cow and Chicken” on the Cartoon Network, and worked as an animator at Hanna Barbera for many years. Charming with its cartoon illustrations, this book will take you back to your Saturday mornings.

Ernest Hummingbird tries to follow his dream to be a singer. But everyone around him insists that he should just “hum”, like all the other hummingbirds. Undaunted, he enlists his friends to sing for an agent rumored to be coming to scout for singers. Of course, in a plot twist, Ernest gets his dream. I’ll leave it up to you to discover the ending.

I enjoyed this sweet little story of following your dreams and not letting anything stop you. The illustrations are humorous and inviting, pulling you into the story as any delightful Saturday morning cartoon. I would recommend this book to anyone that would need a gift for a child, grandchild, or niece and nephew. It would make a satisfying bedtime story. As a read-aloud in the lower grades, it would teach the importance of not giving up.

As an added bonus, the folks behind Ernest Hummingbird also have a parallel storybook app in the IOS store, with music written by Tommy Thayer from KISS. The narration is by country star Darius Rucker. Link to the app in the IOS store.

Find out more at: www.mechemmedia.com.

Earnest Hummingbird is available at: Amazon and Barnes and Noble. 

 

 

Holiday Picture Book Review: Santa’s Little Helper

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santashelpercovereditLooking for a diverse take on Santa Claus? Here is a jewel of a story just in time for the Holidays.

Santa’s Little Helper by Ronald Destra is a picture book that brings the magic of Christmas to a boy happily waiting his turn for Santa Claus to visit on Christmas Eve. His parents help Daniel prepare, leaving out lemonade and cookies for Santa. But will Santa really arrive?

This book helps capture the wonder and delight one felt waiting for Santa on Christmas Eve. Daniel gets to see the wonder and magic of Santa Claus as he becomes his little helper as he climbs into Santa’s sleigh, complete with reindeer. Santa takes him on a journey to help deliver toys to children throughout his town including his neighbors and an orphanage.

Daniel’s journey takes us through that one night a year when there seems to be something extra special in the air. The supportive, loving parents and caring helpful way Santa shows Daniel his annual job adds to the true meaning of Santa Claus, that giving is better than receiving. The illustrations show Daniel surrounded by loving, supportive parents and Santa, all creating a safe haven for Daniel on Christmas Eve.

This is my favorite book so far by Destra World Book Publishing that specializes in diverse and worldview themes for their books. This book will be a great way to show the Christmas spirit either as a read-aloud or a gift.

**For more information about the author, visit his website at:

www.ronalddestra.com

Santa’s Little Helper is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.