Tag Archives: children’s 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.

Children’s Picture Book Review: The Raspberry Sassafras Series

Standard
bio_pic

Allison Holland is the author of the Raspberry Sassafras picture book series.

I have found a cute picture book series that stresses the unique factors in each of us. It’s called the Raspberry Sassafras series. With books titled Raspberry Sassafras, Raspberry Sassafras: I Am a Cow and Raspberry Sassafras: The Famous Flying Cow, it’s a series that brings back memories of other animal books like Curious George.

The author of the series, Allison Holland, has created a world where animals have secret abilities that humans never see. The main character, Jane, finds Raspberry Sassafras at a nearby farm on a family trip. Her family adopts the little cow, and that is where the fun begins.

RS01_Raspberry_SassafrasRaspberry Sassafras, the first picture book in the series, starts off with Jane and her family adopting Raspberry Sassafras from a local farm. They bring the little cow back to the city, and introduce her to her new apartment home and the big city. Jane teaches Raspberry Sassafras about how to adapt to her new surroundings and discovers a secret; Raspberry Sassafras can fly and even talk. Apparently, it’s what most cows do when humans aren’t around. The secret is kept by the family setting up the possible reveal in future books.

RS02_I_Am_A_Cow

The second book in the Raspberry Sassafras series.

The second picture book, Raspberry Sassafras: I Am A Cow, deals with Raspberry Sassafras learning to explore her neighborhood and to be accepted by the dogs at the dog park. After a visit to the park, Raspberry Sassafras finds hostility towards her, and soon a sign goes up banning all cows from the dog park. Jane convinces Raspberry Sassafras to face the dogs and their owners, and speak her truth about how she may be different, but still unique, and be allowed to play at the park. Her bravery to face her feelings and the people that were prejudice against her as a cow helps bring change to the park. Cows are officially allowed.

RS03_Fab_Flying_Cow

The third book in the Raspberry Sassafras series.

The third picture book in the series is called Raspberry Sassafras: The Famous Flying Cow. Raspberry Sassafras uses her ability to fly to save people from a burning building exposing her secret. Jane and Raspberry return home to find the media is trying to find her. The press is everywhere, and Raspberry Sassafras becomes famous. But fame doesn’t stop here, in fact, she embraces that she can teach others about herself and help people understand more about her differences. She finds herself on TV shows doing interviews and on magazine covers. This all helps her to realize she can finally be herself and not have to hide her real abilities anymore. In the end, Raspberry Sassafras can finally be the real cow she wants to be.

The Raspberry Sassafras series reminds me a lot of the old children’s stories involving Curious George. Raspberry Sassafras is a loveable character that children can relate to. All of the stories make great read-alouds for the classroom since they deal with different themes that can be discussed with a class. The stories all deal with several important themes such being unique, accepting your self, standing up for your feelings, and not hiding and being your true self. I can see this series being a valuable addition to any family’s bedtime collection, and I’m looking forward to seeing what new books will be added to the series.

For more information on Allison Holland, visit her website at: raspberrysassafras.com.

Buy Links for all three books:

Raspberry Sassafras

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Raspberry-Sassafras-Allison-Holland/dp/B01GLC0RAS

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/raspberry-sassafras-allison-holland/1126574449

Raspberry Sassafras: I Am A Cow

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Raspberry-Sassafras-I-Am-Cow/dp/1365956229

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/raspberry-sassafras-allison-holland/1126575024

Raspberry Sassafras: The Famous Flying Cow


Amazon.com: 
https://www.amazon.com/Raspberry-Sassafras-Famous-Flying-Cow/dp/1365989879

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/raspberry-sassafras-allison-holland/1126575037

 

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

Standard

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

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. 

 

 

Holiday Picture Book Review: Santa’s Little Helper

Standard

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Back To School Blog Tour 2017 Day 3: Featured Author Teddy O’Malley

Standard

2017B2SchoolBannerWelcome to the third day of the Back to School Blog Tour. Today’s featured author is Teddy O’Malley. Her books feature characters with diverse characteristics. She’s won the Reader’s Favorite Five Star Seal for her book Cool Kids Wear Glasses. Ms. O’Malley took time out of her busy schedule to share with me her love of reading and writing, memories of school, and what she is working on now.

Teddy1

Teddy O’Malley is the author of The Fairy’s Bubble Wand available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Who was your favorite children’s author and how did they influence you?

Teddy O’Malley: My favorite children’s author as I was growing up had to be Judy Blume. Her characters were so realistic. Her writing style was what I aspired to write like when I would sit down to type my stories on my old computer when I was a kid. She made me realize that I wanted to publish books. I still hold her books close to my heart, and I can still read them with the same enjoyment I did when I was a kid.

What is your most memorable school moment?

Teddy O’Malley: One of my most memorable school moments happened when I was around twelve years old. We were sitting at the lunch table, and we had been promised candy. Well, that parts a bit fuzzy, but the next part of the memory is clear. I started banging my fists on the table, going, “We want candy! We want candy!” Then the kid next to me did it. Then the kid next to them joined in. Soon, a whole table of kids was shouting, “We want candy!” in unison. I was the quietest kid in the whole school, and I started that. It taught me that one person really can make a difference.

Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.
Teddy O’Malley: I would like to have a routine, but it’s kind of hard since I am currently in college, studying to be a veterinarian. On my days off and during the summer, I aim for no less than five hundred words a day. That’s really to get the ball rolling, and I usually write more than that. During school, I often write between classes. Sometimes I write to procrastinate other things I should be doing. Shh!
Was there anything in school that was difficult for you?

Teddy O’Malley:As far as school subjects go, I really struggled with math. I went through a few math classes multiple times. But now, in college, I actually am starting to like math a bit. I still struggle with it, but I have a professor who has taught me to look at it in a more fun light. Teachers really can make a difference.

What is writing to you in one sentence?

Teddy O’Malley: To me, writing is like breathing.

What projects are you working on right now?

Teddy O’Malley: I’m mostly brainstorming at the moment. I’m planning to write more books for kids in the middle grade age range.

blog-tour-188x300**To continue with the blog tour, head over to one of the participating author’s websites to read a book review of Teddy O’Malley’s The Fairy’s Bubble Wand . Becca Price was featured yesterday in the blog tour. Today, she is posting a review of Teddy O’Malley’s book, The Fairy’s Bubble Wand. So, please, head over and enjoy her book review.

Teddy O’Malley’s book can also be purchased here on Amazon.com or here on Barnes and Noble.com.

**Plus, the $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway is still going on. Be sure to head over and enter today!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/20834f9e16/?

Back to School Blog Tour: Day 4

Standard

backtoschool2016We’re already up to Day 4 of the blog tour. I hope you have been enjoying the daily featured authors. There has been a wide range of books, from Middle Grade to Reading instruction readers, to a picture book. Today, I share with you the author of a fabulous Middle Grade reader, Sandra R. Anderson. She is the author of Konrad and the Birthday Painting. She is a mother of two boys who fortunately have yet to show any interest in art. They are too busy catching Pokémon.

After several years of translating other people’s books by day and reading tons of children’s books every night at bedtime, she decided that she had some stories of her own to tell. She first got started by taking a course in writing for children at the cultural center Näs, right next to Astrid Lindgren’s childhood home.

She writes books for children and for grown-ups and anyone else who likes stories that are about something more than at first glance. She still works as a translator. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, baking, and Postcrossing, although not simultaneously. She is an accidental stamp collector and keeps forgetting to water her potted plants, particularly when she’s working on a new book.

I had the chance to ask Ms. Anderson about her thoughts on writing, her favorite school memories, and what she is up to right now.

sandraanderson

Sandra R. Anderson is the author of Konrad and the Birthday Party available on Amazon.

1) Who was your favorite children’s author and how did they influence you?
I was the type of kid that read everything I could get my hands on, so I couldn’t name just one. I loved the classics, wandering around on that deserted island with Robinson Crusoe and exploring the oceans with Captain Nemo, but I also solved mysteries alongside Nancy Drew and the Hardy boys, discovered smugglers and hidden treasure with the Famous Five and slept with my feet on the pillow and baked gingerbread cookies on the floor with Pippi Longstocking.
I honestly can’t imagine the person I would have grown up to be if I hadn’t had all of these characters in my life as a child and am eternally grateful to the authors who created them. They opened my eyes to other people’s lives and experiences and made me see things differently. They broadened my horizons and made me a far better person than I would have been otherwise.
2) What is your most memorable school moment?
The best time I ever had in school was when I lived in Norway for a few years and went to school in a tiny school building with the sea on one side and tall mountains on the other. One time the entire school (not that many kids, perhaps 60 or 70 in all) rode a bus to the next valley over and then went on skis back over the mountains. Eating my school lunch at the top of a mountain is a memory that I will treasure forever.
3) Do you have a writing routine? Share what works for you.
My best writing gets done really early in the morning, before the rest of my family wakes up. I’m an early bird and often wake up at 4 or 5. When everything is quiet, and the whole family is tucked away in bed, that’s when I can give my undivided attention to the characters in my stories and go on adventures with them. That said, if that wasn’t an option, I would write with blunt crayons on wet napkins up in a tree in the middle of a hurricane. Sometimes a story just needs to be told.
4) Was there anything in school that was difficult for you?
Sure. I’m not very good at a lot of things. I’m pretty good at reading and writing, but that’s about it. When it came to the more practical subjects, I was all thumbs, and I am still capable of burning a salad or sewing a shirt to my trousers if I try to replace a lost
button. But the thing I found most difficult in school was the social aspect, the unwritten rules that govern the playground. We moved a lot, so I was always the new kid, always failing to fit in.
5) What is writing to you in one sentence?
The magic that allows us to see the world through someone else’s eyes, explore places and situations that would otherwise be out of reach, and be anyone we want to be.
6) What projects are you working on right now?
I’m writing the next book in the Artworld series, of course, to find out what Konrad gets up to now that he has discovered an exciting new world inside of paintings. I’m also working on a science fiction story for ages 9 and up and have a coming of age saga for the same age group on the back burner. I  like to work on several different projects simultaneously, to avoid writer’s block, but there are only so many hours in a day, unfortunately. I also write for grown-ups under a different pen name, and have a few projects I’m working on there, as well. The most urgent is a ghost story that I hope to have done in time for Halloween.
To connect to Sandra R. Anderson, find her at:

Her website: www.sandrarandersson.com

Her Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/AuthorSandraR

 

BOOK REVIEW: KONRAD AND THE BIRTHDAY PAINTING

konradb-daypaint

Sandra R. Anderson writes a brilliant fantasy world in this Middle Grade Book available on Amazon.

***** Five Stars

Konrad and the Birthday Painting is a fast and fun fantasy adventure for middle graders. Konrad, a second grader, finds some mysterious glasses that allow him to look into a painting in the school office that, by chance, is like a map of the real school. He witnesses the taking of the Fifth Grade field trip funds, and has to stop his friend, Casper from being blamed for the theft.

Along the way, he discovers that the glasses work on other paintings at a nearby museum. This introduces him to the virtual world of “Artworld”. Will he want to come back to reality once he discovers this amazing new place?

This is a real creative fantasy that plays with the concept of the real world and a virtual world. I love stories that play with a fantasy world just on the edge of the real world. Anderson does a brilliant job of creating the world and the tension that Konrad has to struggle with. He has to think about his family still in the real world, and make a choice between the two. With wisps of Narnia, I recommend Konrad and the Birthday Painting to readers that love to play in fantasy worlds.

As part of this week’s special discounts and giveaways, you can download a free copy of Konrad and the Birthday Painting HERE!

**The giveaways are still up and going. Here is a list of all the books on discount/free and the big $25 Amazon Gift Card giveaway.

**Also available on Amazon.

GIVEAWAYS and DISCOUNTS

Here is the current list of freebies, discounts, and giveaways during the blog tour. All discounts, freebies and giveaways will be running through the blog tour dates: 9/12-9/16.

  1. Win a $25 shopping spree on Amazon! Link to the Rafflecopter giveaway link here!
  2. Download a free copy of Konrad and the Birthday Painting HERE!
  3. Philip Gibson’s Graded Word For Word Reader 1 & 2 Free
  4.  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018ZQQ98C
  5. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B019J1U2RQ
  6. The Lost Secret of Fairies: Discounted to $0.99
  7. Win a notebook set, bookmarks or the book Tinker Bee by Erin Liles: http://erinbethliles.weebly.com/blog/back-to-school-blog-tour-giveaway

For an interview with Martine Lewis on Erin Liles’s Blog, LINK HERE! 

Come back tomorrow for the final post to wrap up this week of Back to School celebration!