What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Comments

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing Blog: Becky's Book Reviews, Most Recent at Top
Results 1 - 25 of 5,541
Visit This Blog | Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
Blog Banner
Mainly reviews of children's and young adult literature. Primarily focuses on new literature, 2004-present, but may feature older titles if they are "favorites" of mine. Feel free to leave comments. I always enjoy reading what others have to say!
Statistics for Becky's Book Reviews

Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 68
1. Seuss on Saturday #48

I Am Not Going To Get Up Today. Dr. Seuss. Illustrated by James Stevenson. 1987. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Please let me be. Please go away. I am NOT going to get up today! The alarm can ring. The birds can peep. My bed is warm. My pillow's deep. Today's the day I'm going to sleep.

Premise/plot: This little boy is GOING to sleep. Don't bother trying to make him get up and out of bed.

My thoughts: I like it. I don't love, love, love it. But who can really argue with, "My bed is warm. My pillow's deep"?

Have you read I Am Not Going To Get Up Today! Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Oh, The Places You'll Go 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Seuss on Saturday #48 as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
2. Tallulah's Nutcracker

Tallulah's Nutcracker. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages.

First sentence: There was only one Christmas present that Tallulah really wanted. When the phone rang, she was sure her wish had come true--and she was right. 

Premise/plot: Tallulah is super-excited that she will be a mouse in a production of the Nutcracker. She finds out how much work it takes to be involved in the Nutcracker. Will opening night be as wonderful and as thrilling as she hopes?

My thoughts: I love the Nutcracker. And I love Tallulah. So I had high hopes for this one! I definitely enjoyed it. If I liked it a little less than the previous books in the series it might be because there isn't as much of Beckett in it. But still, overall, I would recommend it to anyone who loves happy ballet stories for children.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Tallulah's Nutcracker as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
3. The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker. Retold by Stephanie Spinner. Illustrated by Peter Malone. 2008. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve, Marie's favorite night of the year. She was so excited that she did a pirouette on her way to the drawing room, where she joined her brother, Fritz, at the big double doors.

My thoughts: I love, love, love the music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. I do. I listen to it frequently--all throughout the year. Why limit the music itself to just one time of year?! That being said, I like the ballet. I've only seen it performed once or perhaps twice. Though there are plenty of movie adaptations of it as well. Perhaps I should try to watch some of these. (Do you have a favorite? a least favorite?)

Stephanie Spinner's picture book retells the story of the ballet for young readers. It is not a retelling of the original Nutcracker story. Which I think is probably for the best! Since most people, I imagine, are more familiar with the ballet than with the original work by E.T.A. Hoffmann. (Hoffmann's work reads more like Alice in Wonderland.)

The illustrations. There were a few spreads that I just loved, loved, loved. But for the most part, I tended to "like" more than "love" the illustrations.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on The Nutcracker as of 11/27/2015 12:09:00 PM
Add a Comment
4. Tallulah's Solo

Tallulah's Solo. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Tallulah knew she was an excellent ballet dancer. So she was certain that this year she would be doing a solo in the winter recital.

Premise/plot: Tallulah's Solo is the second book in this picture book series. In this one, Tallulah's oh-so-adorable little brother, Beckett, begins to take ballet. The two are even in the same class. Will Beckett be as eager-to-learn and as well-behaved as Tallulah? Tallulah isn't all that concerned about her brother taking ballet. Her mind is on one thing only: getting a solo for the winter recital. Will this be the year?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this second book. I am enjoying the characters very much. I love Tallulah and Beckett. I wouldn't mind spending time with them in real life. I like Tallulah's big, big dreams. And I like that sometimes not getting what you want gets you what you need. I love how Tallulah learns a few important life-lessons in this one.

My favorite scene? When Tallulah helps her brother practice at home.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Tallulah's Solo as of 11/27/2015 9:51:00 AM
Add a Comment
5. Harold at the North Pole

Harold at the North Pole. Crockett Johnson. 1958. HarperCollins. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve, and Harold had to have a Christmas tree before Santa Claus arrived.

Premise/plot: It's Christmas Eve and Harold needs a Christmas tree. With his purple crayon in hand, Harold's adventure begins. He's in search of a tree, so he must draw stars and woods and SNOW. Because he was a little TOO enthusiastic about the snow, Harold finds himself at the North Pole, and, Santa is snowed in. Can Harold draw Santa out of trouble?

My thoughts: This one is so cute and charming. I loved the text. I loved the illustrations. I loved the scene where Harold draws the reindeer and harnesses them up to Santa's sleigh. Have you read this one? What did you think?

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Harold at the North Pole as of 11/26/2015 5:43:00 PM
Add a Comment
6. Tallulah's Tutu

Tallulah's Tutu. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Tallulah just knew she could be a great ballerina--if only she had a tutu. "And maybe a lesson or two," her mother said with a wink.

Premise/plot: Tallulah is a little girl who really, really wants a tutu. So long as she thinks she'll be getting her tutu soon or even very soon, she's super-motivated to practice. But the tutu is slow in coming, will Tallulah realize there's more to ballet than owning a tutu?

My thoughts: This is a cute book, some might even say a little too cute. But I am not one of them. I am quite tolerant of cute and overly cute books. I am so glad that Tallulah has her own series. I think this would make a great television show as well. Dare I admit that one of my favorite things about the book is Tallulah's little brother Beckett?

I think my absolutely favorite part of the book is the illustrations.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Tallulah's Tutu as of 11/26/2015 3:25:00 PM
Add a Comment
7. 2016 Sci-Fi Experience

Art by Chris Goff
Sci-Fi Experience
Host: Stainless Steel Droppings (sign up) (share reviews)
Duration: December 2015 - January 2016
# of Books: I hope to read at least 4 books, maybe more!

I must admit the Sci-Fi Experience is one of my favorite non-challenges to participate in. There is just something so comfy-cozy right about settling in with a good sci-fi.

My list of "planned" reads:

Wool, Hugh Howey
Shift, Hugh Howey
Dust, Hugh Howey
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

There are so many books I want to reread, like many Orson Scott Card novels, for example. But I'm not sure which I'll actually get to!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on 2016 Sci-Fi Experience as of 11/26/2015 1:07:00 PM
Add a Comment
8. Ten Things I'm Thankful To Have Discovered in 2015

Happy Thanksgiving! Today I thought I'd share a few things that I'm very thankful to have discovered this past year. I do wish I'd done a list in 2014. If I had, "LOST" would definitely be on it and near the top of the list. And also "Call the Midwife" and "Sherlock" and coconut oil and butternut squash. But I didn't. 
“I cannot find a cup of tea which is big enough or a book that is long enough.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Topping my list this year, it would have to be tea. So three items on my list are tea-related!
The Ginger tea *is* medicinal. But I do happen to love the way it tastes. I drink at least two cups of ginger tea daily. The other two teas are holiday flavors, but I want them to be year-round flavors.

The next grouping on my list would have to be fresh fruit. I "discovered" the joys of fresh fruit this past summer. My obsession started with apples, but, then progressed. Right now what I'm really, really missing is peaches. They haven't been available since October. But apples and grapes are a treat I enjoy daily.

Before I move away from food, I just want to mention how thankful I am to have discovered a gluten-free, egg-free noodle that I want to eat. It's not available at a store in my town unfortunately, but a town or two away has a Whole Food Market which carries it. So I stock up when I can. What is great about it is that it is also corn-free. I have not had success finding a corn pasta that I want to swallow. If you have a favorite gluten-free pasta, I'd love to hear it. 

2015 has definitely been the year of "the walk" for me. I started walking in the spring, and am now incredibly more active than in any previous year of my life. One trick is that I rarely if ever, sit down to watch TV. I walk instead. I definitely love my Skechers flip-flops with goga mat. It may not be flip-flop weather outside these days, but, in the house these are still getting a lot of use!!!

I've "discovered" at least two great shows this past year. But topping my list of things I've watched obsessively--in marathon--is Person of Interest. I spent most of the summer watching the first four seasons of the show. I adore this one!!!

The second show that I "discovered" this year is the television show When Calls The Heart. Now, I hated, absolutely hated, the movie. But the tv show? Well, that's a different story. I still haven't caught all of season two. But season one was great. Note: this is not a good show to walk to. Anytime Mountie Jack is on screen, I find myself stopping and just standing and watching. So, I often watched When Calls the Heart while enjoying a cup of tea!

Another new-to-me discovery was the EXTENDED editions of Lord of the Rings. While I had seen the theatre versions a good many times, I'd not watched the extended editions yet. And I love them. I love, love, love them. My summer was very Tolkien-oriented.

What are some of your favorite discoveries this year??? Do you have a favorite tea?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Ten Things I'm Thankful To Have Discovered in 2015 as of 11/26/2015 10:49:00 AM
Add a Comment
9. Two Mice

Two Mice. Sergio Ruzzier. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
One house
Two Mice
Three cookies.
Premise/plot: Readers meet two mice and follow them through MANY adventures. The text is simple. And there is a definite pattern to it. One, two, three. Three, two, one. One, two, three. Three, two, one. And so forth. Because the text is so simple, in my opinion, most of the story is communicated through the details of the illustrations. For example, note the expression on the face of the mouse who only gets ONE cookie while his roommate gets TWO cookies. (The one with two cookies did get up earlier than the other mouse.)

My thoughts: I see this one as having again-again appeal for children. That is just my opinion or best guess. But there is something fun and playful and perfect about this one. I loved it. I really, really loved it. And the "really, really" was added after I read it several times. The first time I thought it was cute, it was good. But the third or fourth time through it was LOVE.

I loved everything about it. The jacket flap reads, "One house. Who lives there? Two mice. What's on their table? Three cookies. How many mice are needed for a big adventure? Two mice! You can go with them--it's as easy as one two three!" That has to be the best jacket flap I read this year. If a prize could be given for best jacket flap, this book deserves the win!!!

The story begins even before the title page. So DON'T skip past it. The story itself is wonderful and clever.

The illustrations are GREAT.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Two Mice as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. What's On Your Nightstand (November)

The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

The Painter's Daughter. Julie Klassen. 2015. Bethany House. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]

A Regency romance that will probably be "too smutty" for Christians and "too Christian" for unbelievers. I have loved, loved, loved some of Klassen's earlier novels, and, I've also experienced one or two that really disappointed me. But yet my love of her former books keeps me hoping and reading! For better or worse! 

Silent Nights: A British Library Crime Classic. Compiled by Martin Edwards. 2015. Poisoned Pen Press. 298 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 A collection of fifteen short stories--all mysteries--set during the holidays. Some of my favorite authors are included in this collection, but, also some new-to-me authors. This is a classic, none, of the stories are "new" or "modern."

The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood. (Beatrix Potter Series #3) Susan Wittig Albert. 2007. 352 pages. [Source: Bought at Library Sale]

I've read the first two books in the series. The second book, first, for better or worse. I had to track down a copy of the first book, and, it took a while! But I'm excited about this mystery series!

We Believe: Creeds, Confessions, & Catechism for Worship. Edited by Matthew B. Sims. 2015. Grace for Sinners. 360 pages. [Source: Bought]

I am really enjoying reading this one! Yes, I could probably have tracked down most of these creeds and confessions online, but, I like having them together and not having to search them out!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on What's On Your Nightstand (November) as of 11/24/2015 3:23:00 PM
Add a Comment
11. The Only Child

The Only Child. Guojing. 2015. Random House. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence from the author's note: The story in this book is fantasy, but it reflects the very real feelings of isolation and loneliness I experienced growing up in the 1980s under the one-child policy in China.

Premise/plot: This is a wordless picture book. I'm tempted to call this one a picture book for older readers. Though I'm not sure that's entirely fair to the book. It may depend more on your child's attention span and interests. The art is without a doubt captivating and beautiful. The premise is simple: a young girl's loneliness ultimately leads to her getting lost. At some point, reality blends with fantasy. Where is that point exactly??? I'm not sure I can answer that!

My thoughts: Loved, loved, loved the art. It does a great job in conveying emotion, for the most part. I tend to struggle with finding the story in wordless picture books at times. The more complex a book is, the more I struggle. Ultimately I found The Only Child to be worth the effort it took to find and follow the story. But that being said, I'm not sure I fully got every page of the story. Still it's easy to recommend for the art alone.

Text 0 out of 0
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 5

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on The Only Child as of 11/24/2015 10:48:00 AM
Add a Comment
12. Reading Picture Books With Children

Reading Picture Books With Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See. Megan Dowd Lambert. 2015. Charlesbridge. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

In Reading Picture Books WITH Children, Megan Dowd Lambert introduces readers (presumably adult readers) to the whole book approach of reading picture books with children. The whole book approach pays attention to the whole book. Not just the text. Not even just the text and the illustrations. But to the whole book:
  • the size of the book--is it big, is it small; is it in landscape or portrait orientation; 
  • the design of the book--what font(s) are used, what size font(s) are used, how does the font appear on the page, etc; 
  • the appearance of the book jacket (front, back, spine); the appearance of the book cover underneath the book jacket; is it the same as the book jacket or different? what materials were used on the cover; how was it bound, etc.
  • the endpapers; are the endpapers the same in the back as they are in the front; what do they add to the story, etc.
  • the front matter; does the story begin before the 'first page' of the text; does it contribute anything to the story;
  • the arrangement of the text and illustrations; how much white space is used on a page, are the illustrations on a two-page spread connected or separate; are the illustrations small or big; are the illustrations framed; do they take up the whole page, etc. 
  • the text itself; what it says, the story, the characters, etc.)
  • the illustrations; the style, the technique, the details, the art and craft of it all, etc.
She encourages adults to focus on the whole book when reading with children. Asking children questions during the reading of the book itself. Letting them interrupt the reading of the story to talk about what they're seeing and hearing and asking their own questions. She says that it only seems like it would ruin the flow of a story. She argues that in fact, the more you pay attention to the whole book the more engaged readers become. So it enhances the reading of a book.

Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of a picture book. Each chapter includes multiple examples and shares practical advice. Readers see what types of questions Lambert has in mind. Questions like: "What's going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?" She does include a chapter on sample questions. Here are just a few as an example:
  • How does the jacket seem like a poster for the book, pulling us in as readers? What grabs your attention here?
  • What information does the jacket give us about the story?
  • How does the way the words look tell us how to read the words aloud?
  • Does anyone else have a different idea about this picture?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Reading Picture Books With Children as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Winnie

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie the Pooh. Sally M. Walker. Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss. 2015. Henry Holt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When Harry Colebourn looked out of the train window, he couldn't believe what he saw: a bear at the station!

Premise/plot: This picture book is the 'true story' of the real bear named Winnie that was eventually given to the London Zoo. The book ends by introducing readers to a young Christopher Robin who enjoys visiting Winnie at the zoo.

My thoughts: Most of the picture book takes place during World War I. You probably can't think of many picture books about World War I or set during World War I, I know I can't think of any others at the moment! Harry Colebourn is a soldier, a Canadian soldier, and the war is in the background. As an adult reader, I felt the war was rightly in the background. I'm not sure if young readers will read the book in quite the same way. Winnie, the bear, is a friend, companion, mascot, not just to one soldier--though Harry is his favorite--but to a regiment. When Harry's called to fight overseas in Europe, Winnie is left in the care of the London Zoo. An author's note fills in the details of Winnie's life after the publication of A.A. Milne's classic children's book.

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10  

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Winnie as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
14. Library Loot: Second and Third Trips in November

New Loot:
  • This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
  • How Many Sleeps 'Til Christmas by Mark Sperring
  • Santa's Sleigh is On Its Way to Texas by Eric James
  • The Nutcracker retold by Stephanie Spinner
  • Winnie by Sally M. Walker
  • Waiting for Santa by Steve Metzger
  • The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas by Ellis Paul
  • The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
  • Finding Fortune by Delia Ray
  • The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas
  • When Santa Was a Baby by Linda Bailey
Leftover Loot:
  • The Year of Fear by Joe Urschel
  • Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  • The Tale of Hawthorn House by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Oh, the places you'll go! by Dr. Seuss
  • You're Only Old Once by Dr. Seuss
  • I Am Not Going To Get Up Today by Dr. Seuss
  • The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand
  • Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
       Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Library Loot: Second and Third Trips in November as of 11/22/2015 11:23:00 AM
Add a Comment
15. Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harold and the Purple Crayon. Crockett Johnson. 1955. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. There wasn't any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight. And he needed something to walk on.

Premise: Readers meet Harold, a young boy with a purple crayon. Harold is always finding himself in the middle of adventures. He can draw his way in and out of those adventures. For example, his shaking hand causes the purple crayon to make waves and he finds himself drowning in the ocean. No cause for fear though, just draw a boat and get inside.

My thoughts: I really love Harold and his purple crayon. I found the book playful and fun and simple and wonderful. Have you read Harold and the Purple Crayon? What was your favorite scene? I love Harold's picnic with the nine kinds of pie!!! I like how he draws animals to finish the pies. The picture of the porcupine is so cute and adorable!

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Harold and the Purple Crayon as of 11/22/2015 11:23:00 AM
Add a Comment
16. 2015 Reading Challenges: Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge

Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge
Host:  The Christmas Spirit; sign up
Duration: November 23-January 6, 2016
# of books: Signing up for 5 or 6 books

What I Actually Read:

What I Plan on Reading:
Picture Books:
  • Nutcracker Retold by Stephanie Spinner, illustrated by Peter Malone
  • How Many Sleeps 'Til Christmas? by Mark Sperring, illustrated by Sebastien Braun
  • Santa's Sleigh is On Its Way To Texas by Eric James, illustrated by Robert Dunn and Eldar Sky 
  • Waiting for Santa by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Alison Edgson
  • The Night the Lights Went Out On Christmas by Ellis Paul
  • When Santa Was A Baby by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Genevieve Godbout
  • Harold at the Northpole by Crockett Johnson
  • Click, Clack, ho ho ho! by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
  • 12 Brides of Christmas Collection, various authors (romance)
  • Silent Nights, various authors (mystery)
  • The Fruitcake Murders by Ace Collins (mystery)
  • A Basket Brigade Christmas (romance)
Christmas Spirit Read-a-thon
Host: Seasons of Reading (sign up)
Duration: November 23-29

What I Read for the Read-a-thon:

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on 2015 Reading Challenges: Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge as of 11/21/2015 11:45:00 PM
    Add a Comment
    17. Week in Review: November 15-21

    Breakthrough: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever. Jim Murphy. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    Eight Cousins. Louisa May Alcott. 1874. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
    MARTians. Blythe Woolston. 2015. Candlewick. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    The Great Turkey Walk. Kathleen Karr. 1998. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

    Goblin Market and Other Poems. Christina Rossetti. 1862. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
    Old MacDonald Had A Woodshop. 2002. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
    You're Only Old Once! Dr. Seuss. 1986. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
    Like Jesus: Shattering Our False Images of the Real Christ. Jamie Snyder. 2016. [February 2016] 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season. Heidi Haverkamp. 2015. Westminster John Knox Press. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    The Christmas Joy Ride. Melody Carlson. 2015. Revell. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    This week's recommendation(s):

    I loved Jim Murphy's Breakthrough!!!

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on Week in Review: November 15-21 as of 11/21/2015 9:27:00 PM
    Add a Comment
    18. Seuss on Saturday #47

    You're Only Old Once! Dr. Seuss. 1986. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]

     First sentence: One day you will read in the National Geographic of a faraway land with no smelly bad traffic.

    Premise/plot: An old man is "stuck" worrying at the doctor's office--or hospital--as various tests and procedures are done for his check up.

    My thoughts: You're Only Old Once is definitely a picture book for older readers. Perhaps mainly adult readers. It is clever, in places, and overall I think it's a book worth reading. One example of the cleverness is the eye test or the "eyesight and solvency test" which reads:
    Here's another favorite part:
    Dietician Von Eiffel controls the Wuff-Whiffer, our Diet-Devising Computerized Sniffer, on which you just simply lie down in repose and sniff at good food as it goes past your nose....And when that guy finds out what you like, you can bet it won't be on your diet. From here on, forget it!
    Have you read You're Only Old Once! Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

    If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is I Am Not Going To Get Up Today. 

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on Seuss on Saturday #47 as of 11/21/2015 9:27:00 PM
    Add a Comment
    19. Eight Cousins (1874)

    Eight Cousins. Louisa May Alcott. 1874. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

    Rose sat all alone in the big best parlor, with her little handkerchief laid ready to catch the first tear, for she was thinking of her troubles, and a shower was expected.

    If only I'd first met Louisa May Alcott through Eight Cousins instead of Little Women! It might not have taken me decades to read a second book by Louisa May Alcott. My first book by Louisa May Alcott was, of course, Little Women. It's not that I found it awful--just awfully sad. Eight Cousins, on the other hand, was a delight from cover to cover.

    The heroine, Rose Campbell, is an orphan. She has plenty of aunts--or perhaps I should say great aunts--around in addition to seven boy cousins. Her official guardian is Uncle (Doctor) Alec. His aunts aren't pleased with the arrangement, thinking that one of them--any of them really--could do a "better" job of raising George and Rose's daughter. He offers a compromise of sorts. Let him alone and let him be sole guardian with the final say on everything concerning Rose for a full year, and then at the end of the year have a conference to determine if he did a good enough job to remain her guardian for keeps. The book chronicles Rose's first year.

    Readers will see Rose adapt to her new life; make friends with Phebe, the maid servant; make friends with all seven of her cousins; come to accept all her fussy and fidgety aunts; have plenty of adventures in all four seasons of the year; grow academically under the teaching of her uncle; learn practical skills from her aunts--sewing, cooking, cleaning, etc.

    Rose is a good, sweet, intelligent young girl. And she was a joy to spend time with. She does act "as a magnet" for her cousins, they're drawn to her and want to spend time with her; her aunts and uncle hope she'll use her magnetism for good--to improve the morals of her cousins. Is the book preachy? Yes and no. I mean I don't think it is especially preachy when compared to children's books written in the Victorian period. Compared to children's books written today perhaps, it is somewhat preachy. I did notice that when the book turned preachy most often it was through dialogue; let's just say that Rose has opinionated aunts! Though not always. Here's a good example:
    Fathers and mothers are too absorbed in business and housekeeping to study their children, and cherish that sweet and natural confidence which is a child's surest safeguard, and a parent's subtlest power. So the young hearts hide trouble or temptation till the harm is done, and mutual regret comes too late. Happy the boys and girls who tell all things freely to father or mother, sure of pity, help, and pardon; and thrice happy the parents who, out of their own experience, and by their own virtues, can teach and uplift the souls for which they are responsible.

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on Eight Cousins (1874) as of 11/15/2015 11:54:00 AM
    Add a Comment
    20. 2016 Victorian Bingo Challenge (Sign-Up)

    Victorian Reading Challenge
    Host: Becky's Book Reviews
    Duration: January - December 2016
    Goal: Get at least one bingo, five books minimum
    Sign up in the comments

    There is a new card for 2016! If you participated in the 2015 challenge, and you're super-attached to the categories on that card, I won't mind if you stick with it. But I wanted to make a new card, I think it will keep it fun to have a new card each year. The new categories appear in bold. If there is enough interest, I can compose a list of examples/suggestions for each category. Or if there is a particular category that puzzles you, and you want suggestions, I could answer your specific question.

    The categories:
    • American male author
    • Anthony Trollope
    • Book That Has Been Adapted Into A Movie
    • Charles Dickens
    • American female author
    • Book published 1871-1880
    • Book about property, inheritance, economics
    • Children's book of your choice
    • Mystery, suspense, sensation
    • Book published 1837-1849
    • Book published 1881-1890
    • Wilkie Collins
    • Book by a European Author
    • Book with a name as the title
    • Book published 1861-1870
    • Book published 1891-1901
    • Book about courtship or marriage
    • Book of your choice
    • Speculative Fiction (Fantasy, Science Fiction, Time Travel, etc.)
    • Book published 1850-1860
    • British Female Author
    • Fiction book set during the Victorian era
    • Book or Movie about Queen Victoria
    • Nonfiction book about the Victorian era
    • British Male Author  
    • Fiction or nonfiction.
    • Books, e-books, audio books all are fine.
    • Books and movies can be reviewed together or separately.
    • You can create a reading list if you want, but it's not a requirement
    • If you do make a list, consider adding a list of five books you'd recommend to others
    • If possible try to try a new-to-you author! I know it can be really tempting to stick with familiar favorites.
    • Children's books published during these years should not be forgotten!
    • Rereads are definitely allowed if you have favorites!
    • A blog is not required, a review is not required, but, if you don't review please consider sharing what you read in a comment with one or two sentences of 'reaction' or 'response.' 
    • Any qualifying book reviewed in 2016 counts towards the challenge. If you're like me, perhaps you try to schedule posts a week ahead of time. So if it's reviewed in 2016, it counts. Even if you finished the book the last week or two of 2015! 
    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on 2016 Victorian Bingo Challenge (Sign-Up) as of 11/15/2015 4:34:00 PM
    Add a Comment
    21. Breakthrough

    Breakthrough: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever. Jim Murphy. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    If I had to describe Breakthrough in just a few words, I'd choose these: fascinating, compelling, a must-read. If I had to pack it all into one sentence? Something like, Breakthrough by Jim Murphy is a fine narrative example of nonfiction for young readers at its best. Of course, I don't have to limit my review to just a few words or a few sentences. But the best books so overwhelm you with their greatness that though you want to gush about them at great length, you're sometimes at a loss of words for you know that you can never do the book you just read and loved justice.

    Breakthrough is the story of three people: Dr. Alfred Blalock, Dr. Helen Taussig, and Vivien Thomas. Dr. Blalock was a doctor who spent most of his time doing research, his specialty was studying shock: what it was, what caused it, how to fix it and save lives. He was a doctor who needed a research assistant, a more-than-capable research assistant, an assistant that would be able to do his own research, experiments, and surgeries. That assistant was a black man, Vivien Thomas. He was not technically a doctor or a surgeon. So his story of how he became part of this historic team is quite fascinating. (It would have been easy for most who worked at the hospital to assume that Thomas was a janitor, a "mere" janitor, if you will. But that was so far from the case!!!)  

    Readers learn about all three people--their stories and backgrounds and how they came together to help save 'blue babies.' Readers also learn a bit about the field of medicine at the time--the 1930s and 1940s. Heart surgery was not done at the time; it was almost unthinkable for doctors and surgeons to contemplate operating on the heart. "Blue babies" were babies born with heart defects. They might live for a few days, a few weeks, or a few years. But all babies born with heart defects were almost surely fated to die early. Dr. Helen Taussig was a pediatrician who was broken-hearted enough about it to want to do something. Even if other doctors were hesitant or even hostile to help her in her research. She ended up working with Dr. Blalock, and his involvement meant Vivien Thomas doing much of the work: the tests, the experiments, the surgeries, all on animal test subjects of course. The author does address how some found this controversial--doing surgeries and experiments on animals, in this case on dogs--but he stresses how valuable the research was to doctors, and, how their discoveries led to life-changing techniques and practices that would never have been possible without that initial animal research. Thomas, the man doing the test surgeries, also needed to invent the surgical tools to operate.

    And without a doubt this first case of heart surgery on a baby, Eileen Saxon, was life-changing. (I believe it was one of the first (successful) heart surgeries ever performed.) This surgery changed the lives of the doctors, changed the field of medicine, and changed people's perceptions of what was possible.

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on Breakthrough as of 11/16/2015 11:18:00 AM
    Add a Comment
    22. MARTians

    MARTians. Blythe Woolston. 2015. Candlewick. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    Did I enjoy reading Blythe Woolston's MARTians? Yes, for the most part. Not wholeheartedly perhaps. But I can see some definite strengths, which is a reason to recommend it, in my opinion!

    MARTians is a YA novel that will appeal to lovers of dystopian novels mainly. Also to those perhaps who really enjoyed Ray Bradbury's science fiction. Though don't expect MARTians to be as amazingly wonderful and as complex as Bradbury's fiction. I definitely got the feeling that the author was inspired by several of Bradbury's stories. And since I love Bradbury too, I felt at times a kindred spirit with the author.

    The heroine of MARTians is a young teen girl named Zoe Zindleman. The novel practically throws you right into the action, for better or worse. On the day the novel opens, Zoe learns that she--and her whole class, the whole school, I believe--is being graduated early, several years early in fact. She is curious as to why. But is trying to adapt as best she can. She knows that in a day or two, she'll hopefully be offered a job, start training, and go to work. She's not sure what job she'll be offered--though she knows she'll have a choice between two jobs, a rare treat in this futuristic society. But that's not the only change in her life--school to full-time job. No, her mom received news as well. And as a result, essentially abandons Zoe, trusting that Zoe is now old enough to be on her own. Zoe, for a few days at least, will be all on her own in a house that won't sell, in a neighborhood that's been abandoned--none of the houses will sell--and trashed. She feels very much alone. Until she meets someone who offers to help her so long as she agrees to always lend a helping hand to others. She agrees, and her new life begins...for better or worse.

    Much world-building is done in MARTians, but, still enough is left mysterious and shadowy. Readers definitely get the impression that this society is not all-happy despite the focus on materialism and shopping.

    I definitely found this a compelling read, and, a quick read.

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on MARTians as of 11/17/2015 1:20:00 PM
    Add a Comment
    23. The Great Turkey Walk

    The Great Turkey Walk. Kathleen Karr. 1998. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

    I enjoyed Kathleen Karr's The Great Turkey Walk so very much! If you're a fan of Richard Peck's historical fiction, you should definitely read this one. It's historical comedy at its best!

    Simon Green is the lovable hero of The Great Turkey Walk. After being politely kicked out of school after completing his fourth year in the third grade, he is looking for a purpose, a calling. And it hits him all at once when he's talking to a local turkey farmer. There isn't a market for turkeys in Missouri--that's clear enough--but there IS a market for turkeys out west, in places like Denver, Colorado. Turkeys may be easy to come by here, but, there, it just isn't the case. If Simon can find a way to BUY turkeys cheaply in Missouri and take them where they're needed, he could be RICH. His investor? His former teacher, Miss Rogers, who does indeed want the best for her former student. (He is fifteen or sixteen, I believe. And she knows that he'll never make it through all the grades. He's not even ready for fourth grade work yet.)

    Simon doesn't make the journey west alone. And this comedy actually does quite a good job of characterizing them all: his "family" of misfits that come together out of need and stay together out of love.

    I loved the narration. I loved the characterization. I loved the humor and the adventure. It was a quick and satisfying read. And there really were turkey walks in the nineteenth century!

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on The Great Turkey Walk as of 1/1/1900
    Add a Comment
    24. Goblin Market and Other Poems

    Goblin Market and Other Poems. Christina Rossetti. 1862. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]

    Poetry is not something I review frequently at Becky's Book Reviews. I tend to have a love-hate relationship with the genre. Either I love, love, love a particular poet, or, I don't. Typically, it isn't so much "hate" as indifference or even confusion. But now and then I "discover" a poet that makes me really love sitting down with a book of poetry. One of my happy discoveries of the year is Christina Rossetti. Technically I was familiar with her poem "Goblin Market" having studied it in school way back when. But since I haven't read another poem by Rossetti until this year, I'm counting her as a NEW discovery.

    This poetry collection was first published in 1862. It begins with "Goblin Market." And I do have to say that if you just read one poem this year, it should be Goblin Market, in my opinion!!! It is about two sisters, Laura and Lizzie. And, of course, it features goblins selling forbidden fruit and other goodies. One sister is tempted beyond what she can stand, and, well, you should read it for yourself!

    The collection includes other poems as well. Some short. Some long. Some darker than others perhaps. But not all the poems are dreary and melancholy. All feel authentically human, and capture something of the human experience. Rossetti also wrote devotional poems, but, the poems in this collection are different. Almost like the poems capture not what we should feel or ought to feel or what we want to feel, but, instead how we do feel--for better or worse.

    Some poems focus on the seasons, on nature, on the natural way of things--including life, death, change, renewal. Some poems focus on love and relationships. Not all poems end happily ever after, in fact, many don't. But there is something beautiful about the poems even when they are about broken relationships.

    Poems I'd recommend:

    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on Goblin Market and Other Poems as of 11/19/2015 1:11:00 PM
    Add a Comment
    25. Old MacDonald Had A Woodshop

    Old MacDonald Had A Woodshop. 2002. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

    First sentence: Old MacDonald had a shop, e-i-e-i-o! And in her shop she had a saw, e-i-e-i-o! With a zztt zztt here and a zztt zztt there, here a zztt, there a zztt, everywhere a zztt zztt. Old MacDonald had a shop, e-i-e-i-o.

    Premise/plot: Old MacDonald and other animals from the farm are building something, and they are using lots of different tools. But what are they building? Can you guess before the big reveal?

    My thoughts: Loved this one from the very beginning, and I do mean the beginning. The endpapers of this one are very fun! Readers see all HER tools hanging up in the shop. Each one clearly labeled. Some may be familiar to children, others may not be. Regardless, it sets a great mood for the book. Instead of celebrating animal sounds, this book, this song, if you will, celebrates the sounds that tools make, and celebrates the act of building and designing.

    Text: 4 out of 5
    Illustrations: 4 out of 5
    Total: 8 out of 10
    © 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on Old MacDonald Had A Woodshop as of 11/20/2015 10:26:00 AM
    Add a Comment

    View Next 25 Posts