Tag Archives: book review

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

Standard

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.

Advertisements

YA Book Review: An Authentic Experience by Kelly Wittmann

Standard

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

Standard

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.

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

Standard

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. 

Picture Book Review: Billy, go to bed!

Standard

Billy_Go_Bed_CoverI’m always on the look out for a good nighttime picture book. I think I found one that is realistic and captures the imagination. Billy, go to bed! by Pamela Malcolm is a fun repeating bedtime adventure.

Billy is having trouble falling asleep. He follows his parents’ instructions to go to bed, but each time, something disturbs him. First, there’s a ghost. Then, he can’t sleep because of a skeleton in the closet. Lastly, a vampire stalks him under the bed. Each time, his parents patiently explain away his fears. Finally, aliens land in his room and take him on an adventure. In the end, he finds out he was dreaming about his new alien friends realizing he could visit them the next evening in his dreams.

If you have trouble getting your child to sleep, here’s a fun picture book that will make them laugh and try to make friends in their sleep like Billy. This will make a great read-aloud every night and maybe convince your toddler they’ll make friends while they sleep. Plus, there are a slew of other Billy books that your child will enjoy. This will make a great addition to your nighttime read-alouds.

***Billy, got to bed! is available on Amazon.com.

Children’s Picture Book Review: Alex and the Lazy Monster

Standard

LazyBookCoverImage_2There is nothing like a good book to start off the New Year for your child. So, this week I’m working on book reviews of books to add to your bedtime reading list for the start of the Year. Here’s a positive way to add new books and spend more time with your child. Reading aloud a book is so important to the development of your child and helps them before entering school. So, hang on, and enjoy my selections this week.

Today, I’m starting with a nice monster book that will help get 2018’s bedtime sessions rolling. Alex and the Lazy Monster by Vanessa A. Newman is a delightful nighttime story that can be read again and again. Told like a mother making up a story for bedtime, this tale of a boy and his adventure with the Lazy Monster might sound familiar to many of us. We’ve all felt like wanting to lie around and do nothing. Alex discovers he has the same problem, and the reason why. He has a new friend, the Lazy Monster.

But this big blue monster is also very friendly and cuddly. When he suddenly discovers rocks in his pockets and sand in his shoes, he knows why he’s been so lazy. His new friend is doing it. But taking them out makes the Lazy Monster tired too. He doesn’t want to hurt his new friend. How can he find a balance?

20170424_Clinics_Me

Vanessa A. Newman is the author of the picture book, Alex and the Lazy Monster. Available at Amazon.com.

I really adored this cuddly blue monster tale. Instead of just destroying the monster, the author finds a solution where his hero works with the monster to solve the problem. I enjoyed that as a teaching element, and it’s something I look for in a read-aloud. Plus, the illustrations are adorable. You want to give the slothful monster a hug half the time through the book. Any child will like hearing this story read to them again and again. It will give them validation for those times that we need to find a balance between motivating ourselves and resting. This picture book is a bedtime book collection addition for any child.

Alex and the Lazy Monster is available at her website and on Amazon.com. It is a Kindle Unlimited title. It is the second book in the series of Alex and his monsters.

 

Children’s Picture Book Review: Ernest Hummingbird

Standard
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. 

 

 

Picture Book Review: Best Friends

Standard
bestfriendscover

Best Friends by Ronald and Juanita Destra is a great gift for the Holidays.

Here’s a picture book gift for the Holidays about how friendship can help overcome the most difficult struggle a child could face, a terminal illness.

Best Friends by Ronald Destra and Juanita Destra is a picture book about two friends that meet under difficult circumstances. They are both children ill in the hospital. By chance, they are placed into the same room, and develop a friendship to help them beat the odds their illnesses have set for them.

This book was bringing me near tears within the first few pages. I have gone through a life crisis of a heart attack a few years ago, and to see kids facing this kind of life trauma together was such a message of strength. I have to warn, have some tissues near by, you may need them by the end.

This would be a great book for children to read with parents if they had lost someone close to them in their lives. As a read-aloud, it’s diverse illustrations and acceptance of others, even with physical challenges, is a great message to convey to any class.

This book is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

 

New Humorous Book For Parents: Driving Grandpa

Standard
granpda

Driving Grandpa is available on Amazon and is a KU title.

Since I come across a lot of books in my work as a children’s author and teacher, I thought I’d expand into a new section to my blog: Books that are for parents. There are all kinds of books that can support that hardest job of all, especially with your own parents. That is where my first book fits in.

Driving Grandpa by John Redstand is an adult humorous book that tells the ups and downs of the other parenting, parenting your parents. It tells of the adventure of a grandson in helping out his grandfather after losing his wife. All the relatives have had a go in taking care of grandpa. Now it is his turn, and that is when the fun begins.

This was a great book that takes a look at the quality time spent with our elders. Through WWII stories, stories of life, and the journey to patent an outboard motor, we get to know the unique relationship of a boy grown a man and his grandfather. I bonded with both the author’s humorous take on his grumpy grandfather, and was touched by the way their relationship grows through the book.

I would recommend this book to anyone that would relish the story of giving homage to the Great Generation and how we need to care for loved ones before they leave us forever. It’s a great book for the kid in all of us.

***Driving Grandpa is available exclusively on Amazon and is a Kindle Unlimited title!

Children’s Picture Book Review: The Birthday Party

Standard

Looking for a unique birthday present for your special someone? The Birthday Party by Ronald and Juanita Destra is a cute picture book with a fun birthday surprise.

birthdaypartycover

The Birthday Party by Ronald and Juanita Destra is available at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.

The Birthday Party is a book that wraps itself around the theme to never give up on your friends and family. That no matter what, even when it seems like there is no hope, they will come through for you in the end. The plot builds suspense to draw you through the story, making even the reader wonder what is going to happen by the end. You feel the heart ache of Johnny not having anyone acknowledge his birthday. It just makes the ending so much sweeter. The illustrations are also very charming, and the diverse characters make this a great read-aloud for any classroom.

I would recommend this picture book for parents and teachers looking for a book that teaches lessons of perseverance and the love of family and friends.

***The Birthday Party is available at Barnes and Nobles.com and Amazon.com.