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1. #647 – The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

guardian herd 1 starfire


The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire

Written by Jennifer Lynn Alvareztop-10-use-eb-trans
Harper/HarperCollins Children’s Books      9/23/2014
Age 8 to 12              272 pages

“Once every hundred years, a black foal is born, prophesied to either unite or destroy the five herds of flying horses that live in the land of Anok. He is fated to become the most powerful Pegasus in all of Anok. Star is this black foal. Even though Star has malformed wings that make him unable to fly, the leaders of each herd will take no risks and want to execute Star before his first birthday. With the help of his friends, Star must escape the clutches of the powerful leaders. His epic journey of self-discovery turns into a battle between good and evil that will keep readers eagerly turning the pages.”


“Star trotted through the dense pine forest, alone.”

The Story

The Pegasi of Anok (mythical winged horses), consists of five herds each with their own leader—the over-stallions—and their own land. None crosses the borders without permission. Wars have been raging between these herds for hundreds of years. Star is a black foal born into the Sun Herd, led by Thunderwing. When Star’s mother died birthing Star, Thunderwing’s mate adopted him, much against her mate’s wishes.

Star, a black foal, was born under the Hundred Year Star. If he can remain alive until his first birthday, he will receive the star’s power, and then become either a destroyer or a healer. No one knows which he will become, not even Star, and this terrifies the over-stallions of each herd. The last black foal born under this star all thought would be a healer. He was a good weanling, but when he received the power, he became a destroyer and wrecked havoc in all the land of Anok. It is up to the over-stallion of the guardian herd—Thunderwing—to kill the black foal before his first birthday, or to let him live and receive his ultimate power. Thunderwing is as scared as the others are and plans to execute Star before his first birthday.

Only Star’s three friends and his adopted mother believe Star will be a healer and seek to keep Star alive so he can receive the power of the Hundred Year Star. The other weanlings (those under one-year of age) bully Star and his three friends, mainly because he cannot fly. He does not fit into his wings, and must walk every like a common horse—a terrible insult to a Pegasus.

One particular weanling has it in for Star and tries to kill him. But in doing so, he crosses into another herd’s land, starting a war. Between this new war and the majority of pegasi wanting him executed, Star knows he must be on his own. Can Star survive without his friends, tend to his own food and water, and remain hidden from all other pegasi? Whether or not Star can survive on his own will greatly determine his future. With five herds looking for him, Star’s odds of survival are slim.


The Guardian Herd has every element a kid wants in an adventure. The author has created an imaginative, highly stylized world kids will appreciate. There are great characters that are easy to understand and like, even the terrifying bully Brackentail. This adventure has tons of action, some with violence. The violence is not bad until the final battle, making this book more appropriate for middle graders on the older end of their age-range.

There are many characters is The Guardian Herd. So many that the author starts with five pages of descriptions so kids know the herds and the pegasi in each herd. I found this section a tad overwhelming and skipped it altogether. I had no trouble remembering who was who and where they belonged. The only thing this list does, in my opinion, is make the story seem cumbersome and it might scare off a reader or two. I would drop it or place it at the end of the story.

Star is a wonderful character. Despite his worthless wings and inability to fly, Star has a warm personality, respects and honors his friends and adopted mare, and is braver than one would think given his situation and fate. Star is a character whose side you will quickly take up. When off on his own, Star’s humor—or the author’s humorous writing—had me in stitches. I loved his friend Crabwing and the things they did in and around the bay.

Granted, there is a huge war near the end of the story and the violence can be just shy of young adult territory, but I do not think it will give any kid nightmares, especially when the scenes that follow these battles are as strong and easy to envision. Once these scenes begin, the war becomes a distant memory. I think these final scenes will override any violent scenes a kid may linger on. The ending is extremely well written and strong. It was nothing as I imagined it might be. I cannot explain any further without spoilers, so this will have to do: the ending is fantastic. If the author does not hurry up and finish the next book, I may start stalking her blog.

The Guardian Herd may not be a New York Bestseller, yet, but it will entertain, and possibly teach your child a few things about friendship, respect, and loyalty. If not, they will still be completely engrossed for a few hours with an imaginative world that actually resembles our own world in many ways. I highly recommend this series for kids age 10 and up. Adults who love fantasy adventures will also enjoy The Guardian Herd #1: Starfire. This is Jennifer’s debut novel with HarperCollins—her first traditionally published book!

THE GUARDIAN HERD #1: STARFIRE. Text copyright © 2014 by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez. Advanced Readers Copy received from the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, NY.


Get your copy of The Guardian Herd: Starfire at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryHarperCollinsyour favorite book store.

Learn more about The Guardian Herd: Starfire HERE

**Also Available in Audio

Meet the author, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, at her website:    http://www.jenniferlynnalvarez.com/

Find more exciting stories at the HarperCollins website:    http://www.harpercollins.com/

HarperCollins Children’s Books is an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Here is a twelve-year-old kid’s view of The Guardian Herd #1:  Starfire. Read Erik’s review HERE


Also by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

The Pet Washer

The Pet Washer




Reviewed HERE



guardian herd starfire


Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: children's book reviews, Guardian Herd, HarperCollins Children’s Books, HarperCollins Publishers, Hundred Year Star, Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, Land of Anok, middle grade novel, Pegasus, Starfire

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2. #642 – Maddi’s Fridge by Lois Brandt & Vin Vogel


Maddi’s Fridge

Written by Lois Brandt
Illustrations by Vin Vogel
Flash Light Press              9/01/2014
Age 4 to 8          32 pages
“Sofia and Maddi live in the same neighborhood, play in the same park, and go to the same school. But while Sofia[s fridge is full, Maddi’s fridge is empty—white empty—just a small container of milk.

“Why doesn’t your mom go to the store?” Sofia asks

“We don’t have enough money”

“But what if you get hungry?”

“We have some bread,” says Maddi. “Please don’t tell anyone.”

“Sofia promises Maddi she won’t tell, but is determined to help her best friend. She sneaks food for Maddi in her bag and discovers that, while fish and eggs are good for kids, they aren’t very good for backpacks. Despite Sofia’s very best efforts, Maddi’s fridge is still empty. Sofia promised not to tell. Now what does she do?”


“When Sofia and Maddi played at the park, they stretched their toes to the sky.”


Best friends Sofia and Maddi play in the park every day. Sofia runs faster than Maddi, but Maddi climbs the rock wall quicker than Sofia does. Somehow, that evens things out for the two friends. Their food situation is far from even. Sofia discovers Maddi has only milk in her fridge—less than full. Sofia’s fridge is loaded with food—good food. Maddi has a lot of energy for a girl barely eating, but then, hunger knows how to mask itself, usually through embarrassment and shame. Embarrassed, Maddi makes Sofia promise not to tell anyone. Sofia goes home to eat. (Why didn’t she invite Maddi?)

MF layout 3

Sofia keeps her promise not to tell; still she must help her best friend. That night, Sofia’s mom makes fish and rice for dinner. There is enough food that even Pepito, the dog, had some fish and rice mixed into his dog food. Sofia got a great idea. She asks her mom if fish is good for kids and mom says it iss perfect. That night, Sofia put some fish in a baggie and dropped it into her backpack. The following day, Sofia’s backpack stunk of inedible fish.

“Yuck,” said Maddi

“Double Yuck,” said Sofia.

The following night, Sofia’s mom makes frittatas for dinner. Again, even Pepito has frittata mixed into his bowl. Sofia asks if eggs are good for kids . . . see where this is going. Yeah, Sofia tries to help her friend and keep her promise at the same time, but backpacks filled the night before, and sit outside the fridge waiting for the morning to arrive, do not make good transportation when sneaking food for a friend.

MF layout 9

Sofia knows she needs help. Can she break her promise to Maddi? Kids will understand this story; laugh at the funny moments, and leave wanting to help others, as kids are prone to do. In Maddi’s Fridge, Sofia’s brother offers his favorite food and Pepito offers his bowl and a can of dog food (what a happy dog—I thought it was a cat).

The illustrations add humor with the comic-like characters and a neighborhood setting that could be your neighborhood. Randomly open the book and odds are good you will see a positive spread and probably humor. Only three pages express Maddi’s situation and her embarrassment. The author kept Maddi’s Fridge a story kids will enjoy and understand.

In the end, the two girls must work out what it means to break a promise. Will Maddi be upset with Sofia? What is more important: promises or people? (Or best-friend people?) Maddi’s Fridge could easily have been a message story or had the lack of food a constant talking point. Instead, Maddi’s Fridge is a sweet story about two best friends taking care of each other.

Mf layout 5

Oh, there is another side story where Maddi helps Sofia, but I can’t fit it all in. Sorry, you will need to read Maddi’s Fridge. The story is perfect for story time, teachers of grades K to 2, and homeschoolers. Maddi’s Fridge is a sweet story that remains positive, refusing to become sad or gloomy, though the subject of hunger can certainly be both.

MADDI’S FRIDGE. Text copyright © 2014 by Lois Brandt. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Vin Vogel. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Flash Light Press, Brooklyn, NY.


Buy Maddi’s Fridge at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryFlash Light Pressyour favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Maddi’s Fridge HERE.

Meet the author, Lois Brandt, at her website:    http://www.loisbrandt.com/

Meet the illustrator, Vin Vogel, at his website:    http://www.vinvogel.com/

Find more picture books at the Flash Light Press website:    http://www.flashlightpress.com/


Also by Vin Vogel

The Thing About Yetis! (Fall, 2015)

Music Class Today! (Fall 2015)


maddis fridge

Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: childhood hunger, children's book reviews, Flash Light Press, hunger, Lois Brandt, picture book, social issues, Vin Vogel

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3. #628 – Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption by Mark Myers

virgil creech 1.

Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption

written by Mark Myers

published by Mark Myers                  12/19/2013


Age 8 to 13     222 pages


“Welcome to the sleepy little town of Portsong, Georgia where there is a struggle a foot. Unbeknownst to the current owner, Virgil Creech has his selfish eyes set on taking back a dog he considers his. To be fair, as the youngest of nine bickering and bustling brothers, Virgil has always had to fight for the few things he could call his own. In this case, the property in question ran away from Virgil several months prior and now wants nothing to do with the boy, for he has found a happy home with the kindly Colonel Clarence Birdwhistle. Undetered, Virgil teams up with  reluctant friend, Henry Lee, to retrieve the dog.”


“That was a mark!” yelled Henry as he disappeared behind the row of elm trees to round up the ball.”

The Story

Four friends, Virgil, Henry, Willy, and Joe are playing in the town green (like a park) when Virgil kicks the ball hard and too high hitting Colonel Birdwhistle in the back of the head, knocking him out onto the pavement. The boys cautiously check to see if he is alive and Virgil accidentally causes Birdwhistle to hit his head again, knocking him cold. Later, at the hospital, Willy and Joe check on Birdwhistle and leave believing the boys have caused Birdwhistle to become blind. Willy, Joe, and Henry decide to find a dog, train it as a Seeing Eye dog, and give him to the Colonel.

At the city dump, the boys find a dirty, matted, and awful smelling mongrel. Henry gives the dog a half-hour session in leading the blind, and then takes the dog to the hospital, leaving it in Birdwhistle’s room. The Colonel takes the mutt home, cleans him up, and decides to keep him. The dog, now named Oscar, is now a happy dog.

Virgil realizes Oscar his is dog and is mad that Birdwhistle stole the dog from him. According to Virgil, Birdwhistle came right into his house and took Bertie (same dog, different name). Virgil is determined to get his dog back and enlists the help of his one friend, Henry Lee. Henry is determined to keep Virgil sway from Oscar. To complicate matters, a nationwide contest for a trip to Africa gets the town, including Virgil, up in a tizzy. Virgil knows he is the winner and must just wait for the day his name is called. When he returns from Africa, he will then get his dog back. But Colonel Birdwhistle has been entered hundreds of times by townsfolk who appreciate and admire him. Birdwhistle wins, causing Virgil to believe the Colonel has now stolen two things from him. He is madder than two Creech boys fighting over a chicken drumstick are. How will Henry contain Virgil and keep Oscar safe and with Birdwhistle. Can he do it?


Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption tells the story of two boys, Virgil, Henry, a British transplant, and the man’s dog, Oscar. Virgil is a mean boy, the last of nine boys. Not a day goes by that he is not beat or taken advantage by one of his brothers. In turn, Virgil always has a chip on his shoulder, beats up kids at school, must always get his way, and has no friends. Virgil’s temper is as short as a temper can possibly be. Henry is a kind, well-mannered boy from a fine family. After Virgil kicks a ball that knocks-out Colonel Birdwhistle, the boys, especially Henry and Virgil, are thrown together for survival.

The well-planned and well-written story will keep you turning the pages. The author understands the psyche of the twelve-year-old boy and offers explanations and comments throughout the book. At first, I thought these annoying, but as more and more pages turned, the narrative became more natural, the comments regarding boys in general became interesting, and the story became a smooth ride, except for the Virgil bumps along the way. Packed with humor, tender moments, and upheaval only two young boys can cause, Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption will please adults as well as kids.

I enjoyed the story, which focused more on Henry and his life than on the main character, Virgil. As one reviewer has already pointed out, Henry should be the protagonist. Virgil is a perfect antagonist and causes most of Henry’s stress. Once Henry understands how Virgil treated his dog and how the dog ended up living in the city dump, he vows to keep Oscar with the Colonel. Even Oscar stays away from Virgil, refusing to go anywhere he can smell the boy—which is not hard for anyone to do. At one point, the author states that Virgil is the only Creech that did a selfless act. Not so, the two brothers who rescued Bertie (Oscar in a former life), and cared for the dog, albeit in a dump, thought only of the dog, not themselves. Seems any Creech could have a heart deep within his chest.

There are no illustrations in the story. Oscar is a small dog, one that Henry can easily pick up. The dog on the cover is not small. I do like the angry hate-the-world scowl on Virgil’s face. This accurately portrays the boy’s disposition. While reading the story, Colonel Birdwhistle looked very near the image on the cover. The houses seem out of place for an area of town filled with green grass. Maybe on the other side they would be correct. Having saidall that, for someone who has not read the story, the cover is inviting and makes you want to know what the scamp on the cover has done.

I am not overly fond of the trick Birdwhistle and George, Henry’s father, plays on the town when Birdwhistle decides not to accept the trip he won, without entering himself. I like the first part, but what is the difference, as Henry asks, between leaving for three months and hiding out, without your dog, for three months. The Colonel does not want to leave the town, where he feels accepted and a member of nearly every family, yet he is still gone from the children and the story hour Birdwhistle did not want to miss. It would have made more sense for the Colonel to feign an illness. The author wanted a twist that would delight the reader but I think this failed to hit the mark.

Kids who love adventure or family-spun stories will enjoy Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption. For his first book, Myers offered readers a well-crafted story, less the twist. There is a second Virgil Creech story to be released this Fall. I cannot wait to find out what bothers Virgil enough to make his face “glow red.” It is entitled, Virgil Creech Sings for His Supper. There is no preview, so make of this title as you will. Just the idea of Virgil singing scares me.

For a middle grade boy’s perspective of Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption  click HERE.

VIRGIL CREECH TAKES A SWIPE AT REDEMPTION. Text copyright © 2013 by Mark Myers.

To purchase your copy of Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption go to AmazonB&NBook DepositoryAuthor’s Websiteyour favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption  HERE.

Meet the author, Mark Myers, at his website:    https://portsong.wordpress.com/



virgil creech 1



copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


evil fairies love hairm

Don’t forget! Evil Fairies Love Hair releases AUGUST 5th. As a reminder, the review is HERE.

Get it at Amazon   B&N    Book Depository    Clarion 

Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: 1920's, boy's book, bullies, children's book reviews, family relationships, friends, Mark Myers, middle grade novel, Virgil Creech Takes a Swipe at Redemption

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4. #622 – Eddie and Dog by Alison Brown


Eddie and Dog

written and illustrated by Alison Brown

Capstone Young Readers      2/01/2014


Age 4 ro 8      32 pages


“Eddie is looking for a friend—a friend who likes adventure. Then Eddie meets Dog. And the fun begins. This wonderful story, with stunning artwork celebrates the excitement of a beautiful relationship.”


“Eddie dreamed of adventure.

“He imagined flying off to far-off places and doing amazing things. Then one day . . . “


Eddie found Dog. No, wait, Dog found Eddie.

Eddie is at the airport, dreaming of adventures, when he sees Dog in a pet carrier, which Dog opens with his paw. (Dogs can get out of anything.) Dog wants a life of adventure and must see the same in Eddie. Dog asks Eddie if he would like to play. This is the beginning of a unique friendship and a lovely picture book. Eddie and Dog is one of my favorite picture books this year.

What fun the two enjoy together. Their adventures are loaded with suspense, intrigue, and some silliness for good measure. The two hunt crocodiles, sail the seven seas—I’m thinking in alphabetical order—build a grand fort, and traipse through lush jungles. That was day one.


When Eddie introduced his new best friend to his mother, she said Dog could not stay—the yard is too small.  Poor Dog. Poor Eddie. Eddie keeps thinking about Dog and it is a good bet that Dog thinks a lot about Eddie. The next day, Dog returns to Eddie. Mom stands her ground. Dog needs a bigger yard and a better home. Mom’s imagination and creativity has taken back seat t her larger practical side. She can’t see the blossoming relationship between Eddie and Dog or how important it is to the new friends. Instead of working with the yard, she instantly says it is too small.

Dog is trying as hard as he can to keep his friendship with Eddie alive. Good friendships should never die—they are too hard to cultivate. But Eddie’s mom is consistently saying no to a dog. Do dogs make her nose sneeze and her eyes cry? Maybe mom really is concerned with Dog’s happiness. Hm, I wonder what will happen next.


I love Eddie and Dog. They must belong together else, Dog would not make such grand gestures, would he? Dogs do love unconditionally. And Dog is a dog. You cannot beat logic. Eddie and Dog belong together. I bet Dog keeps trying until Eddie’s mom runs out of excuses and places for Dog to go.

The story is well-paced and the illustrations hit the mark on each and every page.The final spread is my favorite illustration. Eddie sits behind Dog as Dog flies his shiny red propeller plane to their next awesome adventure.. Dog is a cute, cuddly canine. He is the perfect size for Eddie. Dog loves adventures, just as Eddie wanted! The ending has an unexpected twist that I love. Dog can accomplish many fantabulous things in a short amount of time.


Children will love Eddie and Dog. They will be sad when Eddie is sent away, but after the first return—a wonderful twist—kids will keep smiling even when mom sends Eddie off several more times. Sometimes knowing the punch line can be fun. Kids will love Eddie and Dog, even to the point of wanting their own Dog (sorry Eddie). Parents can take heart. Eddie and Dog is an easy and fun read with moments needing sound effects only a parent can provide. Will Eddie and Dog become your child’s favorite book? Quit possibly so, at least until the next edition of an Eddie and Dog adventure hit bookstores. Enjoy!

EDDIE AND DOG. Text and illustrations copyright © 2013 by Alison Brown. Reproduced by permission of the US publisher, Capstone Young Readers, North Mankato, MN.

Purchase Eddie and Dog at AmazonB&NCapstone Young Readersyour favorite bookstore.


Learn more about Eddie and Dog HERE.

Meet the author/illustrator, Alison Brown, at her website:    http://www.littletiger.co.uk/authors/alison-brown

Find more good books at the Capstone Young Readers website:  http://www.capstonepub.com/

Capstone Young Reader is an imprint of Capstone:   http://www.capstonepub.com/

Eddie and Dog was originally published in Great Britain by Little Tiger Press in 12/18/2013.


Also by Alison Brown

I Love You Night and Day

I Love You Night and Day

Mighty Mo

Mighty Mo








eddie and dog

copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Filed under: 5stars, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Alison Brown, Capstone, Capstone Young Readers, chidren's book reviews, creativity, determination, Eddie and Dog, friendhip, imagination, Little Tiger Press, persistance, pets, relationships

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5. #621 – Can’t Wait to Show You: A Celebration for Mothers-to-Be by Jacqueline Boyle and Susan Lupone Stonis

cover1Can’t Wait to Show You: A Celebration for Mothers-to-Be

by Jacqueline Boyle and Susan Lupone Stonis

Preliteracy Partners / Belly-Books          3/01/2014


14 page, 8 x 8 Board Book

Age:  last trimester to 3+


“Exciting results rom recent studies show the powerful effects of reading to babies in utero: a rhythmic, repetitive story read regularly during the last trimester will soothe your baby after he or she is born. It’s also been sown that sharing storied with pretern aies familiarizes them with the voices of their parents and other family members, and that babies can even absorb elements of language while in the womb. Such discoveries inspire the Belly Book Collection.”


“Hello in there, baby! I’m thinking of you

As you’re curled up inside me so small

Every joy we share

All my loving care

And I can’t wait to show you it all!”


Can’t Wait to Show You consists of one poem of 10 5-line stanzas. The poem begins with one stanza on the first spread, two stanzas on the second spread, and alternates from there until the final one stanza spread. The rhyming scheme notation is a-b-c-c-b. If not for the first line standing alone, the 5-line stanzas are close to the limerick form.

The authors base their book on the idea that in the last trimester, the child can hear the voices outside of the womb and can remember those voices. This familiarity helps the child relax, find a happy mood, and may help the child at birth. Singing the poem will intensify this, as newborns can recognize repeated songs, which also has a calming effect. The process of reading to their yet-to-be-born child also helps the parents’ transition into parenthood and enjoy the nine-month gestation period.


The poem is event centered. Parents anxious to meet their child is the on-going theme consistently stated in the fifth line.

“Oh, I can’t wait to show you the . . . “

In the second stanza, they cannot wait to show their child the light of the sun through rainbows, suncatchers, and sunbeams. In the final stanza, the parents cannot wait to show the child their love. The poem is easy to find a nice consistent rhythm by which to sing the verses or simply read them aloud with ease. The meter is consistently perfect.

One of the most interesting features of Can’t Wait to Show You is the book’s shape. The edges and corners curve making the rounded book smooth and perfect for a baby-belly. The book is designed to comfortably sit atop the pregnant woman’s belly and, later, the child, as she or he sit in mom or dad’s lap listening to the now familiar poem.


The illustrations are beautiful. Each new spread advances the age of the child from third-trimester to toddler and then flows full-circle back to a newborn on the final spread. The babies and toddlers are happy bundles of baby fat and smiles; images that will be irresistible to most. The pages are thick, perfect for children’s grips. The weight of the book as a whole should help it stay in the given belly position.

I love the poem Can’t Wait to Show You. Here is my favorite spread; the fourth spread:

“If you try some bananas and peaches

Lick the spoon so they don’t go to waste

For your birthday I’ll make

Chocolate angelfood cake

Oh, I can’t wait to show you the taste!


“Your blanky is warm, soft and snuggly

The splashy bath suds make you squeal

A kitten will purr

When you snuggle her fur

Oh, I can’t wait to show you the feel!”

The love of reading is acquired best when started early. Reading to your child in the womb is the best start, as long as reading to your child continues through the years. The beauty of the words and illustrations make Can’t Wait to Show You the perfect baby shower gift. It would also be a unique gift as unique as the poem inside the pages.

useCan’t Wait to Show You is not a novelty book. Nor is it just for mothers. Fathers can and should read to their baby; getting to know the one person who will wrap him around their finger for a lifetime. Can’t Wait to Show You is destined to become a family favorite that lasts many years, and then becomes a cherished heirloom passed down to succeeding generations.

CAN’T WAIT TO SHOW YOU:  A CELEBRATION FOR MOTHERS-TO-BE. Text and illustrations copyright © 2013 by Jacqueline Boyle and Susan Lupone Stonis. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Preliteracy Partners / Belly-Books.

Purchase Can’t Wait to Show You: A Celebration for Mothers-to-Be at AmazonBelly-Booksyour favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Can’t Wait to Show You: A Celebration for Mothers-to-Be and Belly-Button Bookss HERE.

Meet author Jacquelilne Boyle at her website:    http://jacquelineboyle.wordpress.com/

Meet author, Susan Lupone Stonis, at her website:   https://thereadingwomb.wordpress.com/

Find Belly-Books at the website:   http://belly-books.com/


Also by Jacqueline Boyle

Dead Drop

Dead Drop




cant wait to show you

Filed under: 5stars, Board Books, Book Excerpt, Children's Books, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Poetry Tagged: baby books, baby shower gifts, board book, children's book reviews, in utero book, Jacqueline Boyle, poetry, read to baby in utero, Susan Lupone Stonis

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6. #619 – The Lonely Crow by Paul Stillabower & David Johnson

image001The Lonely Crow

written by Paul Stillabower

illustrations by David Johnson

Book Guild Publishing         5/29/2014


Age 5 to 7      32 pages


“It’s bedtime and Crow is searching high and low for the perfect place to sleep. He finds a comfy looking perch . . . But a scowling owl sends him on his way! He sees a cosy pile of hay . . . But a trumpeting elephant won’t let him stay! Will poor old Crow ever find somewhere to rest his weary head?


“The night was icy and the sky was dark

When Crow flew high

over Regent Park.

His wings were tired and his legs were old,

So he looked for a place

to get out of the cold.”


Poor Crow, he was tired and cold. He flew the London sky looking for a comfortable and safe place to sleep. He tried a nice looking branch, but a mean owl threatened Crow as he told him to scat. That owl looks terrifying. I am surprised Crow even landed, yet he did land, and that grouchy old owl took a swing at Crow. Not a dumb bird, Crow left for safer accommodations. (Oddly, the next illustration has Crow back on a branch, from which he then flew off.)

Crow being a pretty smart bird, decided the London Zoo would be a safe place to find a spot to sleep. The London Zoo is nothing more than, according to Crow,

“A place for animals . . . a great, big farm!”

Zoos are fun and safe places, but maybe not for crows. Crow tried several warm, cozy spots, but each time another animal claimed the spot and Crow had to leave. In fact, two animals look like they might want Crow to stay, as long as he is their midnight snack. Ouch!


The bright illustrations give Crow bold coat of blue feathers and a nice light yellow beak. As the story progresses, Crow’s eyes close with sleepiness, until they are almost shut. At last, Crow is so tired his wings barely hold him up. It is easy to empathize with Crow. It should not be that hard to find a place to sleep. The characters all look a tad cartoonish, except for their eyes, which carry a great deal of emotion. The baby elephant, a cute little guy, shows expresses himself with his huge, bright smile. Crow left, thinking the little guy’s trumpet was a warning. The baby elephant looks like he wants to play with Crow, not get rid of him.

Written in rhyme, the story is an easy read. The rhythm is not completely smooth, with some lines having extra beats. My tongue tangled a couple of times trying to maintain the rhythm. Overall, Stillabower did a pretty good job writing the story in rhyming poetry. Poetry is very difficult to write correctly. It involves much more than simply finding words that rhyme.

The nicely produced hardback contains a great looking credit page. Many non-traditionally produced books forget this page, so it is nice to find one that has nearly all the needed information—for librarians (and fussy reviewers). The illustrator’s name is missing.  Having both names on the cover is best, yet it is understandable why the author wants only their name after spending so much for the illustrations. Still, credit the illustrator else, it looks like the author was also the artist.


Crow finally sees an empty nest high up in a tree. I don’t think Crow should land. It could be another owl ready to show him the fictitious door with a reality swing of his wing. Crow is very tired at this point and lies down in that empty nest. His eyes are barely open. Will Crow sleep the night away, or be shooed away once more?

The Lonely Crow tells a nice bedtime tale. Crow becomes more tired as he travels from place to place. All he wants to do is sleep. The same message parents try to tell their children. “Sleep, please go to sleep.” By the time Crow does find a place to sleep, the listening child should be ready to close their eyes as well. Young children will like Crow’s story. He is a likable character. The illustrations do a great job enhancing the lovely story. The Lonely Crow may well help many young children find sweet dreams.

THE LONELY CROW. Text copyright © 2014 by Paul Stillabower. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by David Johnson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Book Guild Publishing, Great Britain.


Purchase a copy of The Lonely Crow at AmazonBook DepositoryBook Guild Publishingat your favorite bookstore.

Learn more about The Lonely Crow HERE.

Meet the author, Paul Stillabower, at his facebook page:

Meet the illustrator, David Johnson, at his website:

Produced by Book Guild Publishing:   http://www.bookguild.co.uk/



the lonely crow



Turns out The Lonely Crow is a popular title. Here are some others, all titled The Lonely Crow.

Danielle Wortman @ saarchiart.com

Photograph by Danielle Wortman @ saarchiart.com

by Pikoia @ pikoia.deviantart.com

Illustration by Pikoia @ pikoia.deviantart.com

The Lonely Crow a poem © Joshua McCaw

The Lonely Crow a poem © Joshua McCaw

a story (not yet available) by Mike Miles

a story (not yet available) by Mike Miles

The Lonely Crow Game by Tapp.com

The Lonely Crow Game by Tapp.com










Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Poetry Tagged: bedtime story, Book Guild Publishing, children's book reviews, crows, David Johnson, London Zoo, Paul Stillabower, picture books, sleepy, The Lonely Crow, UK

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7. #618 – Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog by Jackie Clark Mancuso


Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog

written & illustrated by Jackie Clark Mancuso

presenting Hudson

distributed by Small Press United         6/05//2013


Age 4 to 8     36 pages


“When Hudson, an adventurous Norwich Terrier, moves to Paris, he loves the new sights and smells. But when he tries to make friends, he is surprised to discover that the dogs only speak French. Little Hudson’s desire to make friends and thrive in his new environment is so strong that he learns a new language. Hudson becomes a Parisian, or Paris-Chien, (chien means dog in French).”


“Hi. My name is Hudson. My mom is a writer and we’ve come to live in Paris for a year.”


Poor Hudson, the real-life dog who owns author/illustrator Mancuso, he now lives in a new culture, with a new language, and one he does not understand or speak. Hudson tries to make friends, but cannot understand anything the French pooches are saying. He wants to go back home. Mom said no, but did have an idea.


I like the beginning of Paris-Chien. Hudson tells us about life as a dog in Paris. People take their beloved pooches everywhere.  One guy even takes his dog to work at a shoe store where he greets people. The dog also greets entering customers. How cool is that? Even restaurants accommodate dogs with a human; sometimes with the best table. Hudson also goes to all sorts of places, along with his mom. No matter how he tried, poor Hudson cannot communicate with any other dog.

The story flows nicely from point to point. When Hudson takes lessons in French—Mom’s brilliant idea, taught by a French Poodle (of course)—he begins to pick up the language and other dogs can now understand him. Hudson even found himself a girlfriend! She is a lovely looking French poodle. Did you expect any other breed? The illustrations are nice. Done in gouache, the bright areas are nearly flawless and the lighter areas give the illustrations texture. I love Hudson as he studied—with heavy black glasses perched on his snout.


Children who like dogs will love Paris-Chien, as will adults. Anyone who has experienced the dog culture of Paris will recall memories of time spent there on each page. The animals are adorable, with many breeds represented. There is also a cat, and a squirrel (which is risky given how dogs take off after the rodents). Ex-pat Mancuso’s Parisian dogs are obedient and stay where the illustrator places them in the real Parisian locations. The funny and unexpected twist in the story is good.

Dog parks are finally starting to appear throughout the US, but with Paris dogs having nearly free reign (going to work, and in and out of restaurants. When Hudson cannot find a place to play, and the park he finally finds does not allow dogs—the only one in all of Paris—I loved the twist. Inside the back cover is a list of French words with their English counterpart. Maybe kids who read about Hudson will learn French right long with the smart ex-pat canine. Debut author / illustrator Jackie Clark Mancuso lived in Paris with her dog, Hudson. She based the locations on places she and Hudson frequent.  Now that he knows some French, Hudson is a happier dog, willing to somplete their tour of Paris.


PARIS-CHIEN: ADVENTURES OF AN EX-PAT DOG. Text and illustrations copyright ()C 2012/2013 by Jackie Clark Mancuso.  Reproduced by permission of the author, Jackie Clark Mancuso, Los Angeles, CA.

Buy Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryiTunesauthor’s websiteat your favorite bookstore.

Learn more about Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog HERE.

Meet the author / illustrator, Jackie Clark Mancuso, at her website:   http://jackiemancuso.com/

Find more books the Small Press United website:   http://www.smallpressunited.com/

French Press.




paris chien adventures of an ex pat dog







Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: chinldren's book reviews, dogs, Hudson, Jackie Clark Mancuso, making friends, Paris, Paris-Chien: Adventures of an Ex-Pat Dog, picture book, Small Press United

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8. #607 – Father’s Chinese Opera by Rich Lo


Father’s Chinese Opera

Written and illustrated by Rich Lo

Sky Pony Press         6/01/2014


Age 4 to 8       36 pages


“The Chinese opera is anything but boring. Songs, acrobats, acting, and costumes make the opera a truly spectacular show to behold. Spending the summer backstage at his father’s Chinese opera, a young boy yearns to be a part of the show. Rehearsing his acrobatic moves day and night with the show’s famous choreographer, the boy thinks he is soon ready to perform with the others. But the choreographer doesn’t agree. Upset, the boy goes home to sulk. What will he do next? Will he give up on his dream, or will he persevere and work his way up in the show?”


“Father was the band leader and composer of the Chinese opera in Hong Kong. Sometimes I sat on top of the instrument cases and watched the actors onstage.”

The Story

A young boy admires his father and the Chinese opera. He wants to become a famous acrobat. He asks the best acrobat in the troupe to teach him some acrobatic moves. Gai Chui agrees. The two exercise and practice acrobatic moves, such as the praying mantis and the drunken monkey. The young boy is good and he knows it. At school, he brags that he will soon be an acrobat in the Chinese opera. The boy decides it is time to tell Gai Chui he is ready for a performance assignment. Gai Chui laughs and calls the young boy presumptuous. That evening, the young boy sulked. His father shows his son pictures of himself at the beginning his career. To be a band leader, the father explains, he had to learn every instrument so he could compose songs, which he also needed to learn to write. Does the young boy understand the message his father had imparted? Will he continue to dream of becoming an acrobat in the opera?



The first thing I noticed about Father’s Chinese Opera was the beautiful illustrations. The watercolor scenes are bright kaleidoscopes of color. The back and fore grounds are washes of orange, blue, green, and reddish-purple. The Chinese opera comes alive on the pages. The young boy, immersed in the opera through his father’s work, wants to be on stage as an acrobat. The famous, and real, Gai Chui agrees to mentor the boy. The acrobatic moves fly around the pages as student and teacher strike identical poses. Father’s Chinese Opera is simply a gorgeous picture book.

The young boy knows he is good. He brags to school friends, and then tells Gai Chui he is ready for his acrobat assignment. Being told he is disrespectful, unqualified, and overconfident the boy sulks, proving Gai Chui correct. I love how the boy’s father, the leader of the Chinese opera, explains to his son why Gai Chui said what he did. The boy wants to start at the top, or near the top, rather than earning his way as others must do. I had no idea a composer, at least for the Chinese opera, must know how to play every instrument. That feat in itself is amazing (and screams picture book story).


The boy’s indomitable spirit brings him back to the stage, this time as a flag carrier. You can see the joy on his face as he weaves towards the edge of the page. Learning to work your way up to where you want to be is a difficult lesson for a young child. Children live in the here and now, wanting what they want now. Delayed gratification is not a message in the story, but it falls in line with waiting your turn, working your way up, persevering, and keeping a colorfully bright spirit as you work toward that dream.

Children will love Father’s Chinese Opera. It will be a treat for their young eyes. At first, many will think of a circus because of all the color and movement. Boys will connect with the acrobatic moves the young boy learns from Gai Chui, looking at it as karate. It will be up to the reader to explain to the children the story is about a Chinese opera. But those problems are not due to story or art, but rather American culture. Father’s Chinese Opera is a wonderful book for school and classroom libraries.Children need to read about other cultures and Father’s Chinese Opera is a good book to start their journey.


The author’s note explains more about the Chinese opera, his father’s journey, and their move to the U.S. The note is an interesting read and quite informative. Adults will enjoy the author’s life story, though abbreviated. If the author expounded on this note, he would have a captivating memoir.

FATHER’S CHINESE OPERA. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Rich Lo. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Sly Pony Press, New York, NY.

Purchase Father’s Chinese Opera at AmazonB&NBook DepositorySky Pony Pressyour local bookstore.


Learn more about Father’s Chinese Opera HERE.

Meet the author/illustrator, Rich Lo, at his website:  http://greatsketch.com/

Find other multicultural books at the Sky Pony Press website:   http://www.skyponypress.com/

an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing Inc.   http://www.skyhorsepublishing.com/



fathers chinese opera

copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: acrobats, actors, childrens book review, Chinese Opera, Father's Chinese Opera, flag carriers, picture book, Rich Lo, Sky Pony Press, Skyhorse Publishing Inc.

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9. #606 – Brother Hugo and the Bear by Katy Beebe & S. D. Schindler


Brother Hugo and the Bear

Written by Katy Beebe

Illustrated by S. D. Schindler

Eerdmans’s Books for Young Readers        4/01/2014


Age 5 to 9     34 pages


“It befell that on the first day of Lent, Brother Hugo could not return his library book. The Abbot was most displeased. ‘Our house now lacks the comforting letters of St. Augustine, Brother Hugo. How did this happen?’ The precious book, it turns out, has been devoured by a bear, and so Hugo must replace it. Letter by letter and line by line the hapless monk crafts a new book, all the while being trailed by a hungry new friend who thinks that the words of St. Augustine are truly far sweeter than honey. Based loosely on a note found in a twelfth-century manuscript—and largely on the creative imaginings of the author—this humorous tale will surely delight readers who have acquired their own taste for books.”


“It befell that on the first day of Lent, Brother Hugo could not return his library book. ‘I shall have to inform the Abbot of this, Brother Hugo,’ said the librarian.”


Poor Brother Hugo. A bear has eaten his library book, an important book for the monastery. To replace the book, Brother Hugo must first travel to a neighboring monastery and borrow their copy of St. Augustine. Throughout Lent, Brother Hugo must then copy this book, by hand, for his own monastery. Brother Hugo and the Bear is a beautiful book. The text looks similar to what one would find in an old religious tome, as do the illustrations. Each paragraph begins with a large letter entwined with grape vines and leaves. As for the bear, with those long claws it is no wonder Brother Hugo did nothing when the bear snatched St. Augustine from his hands.


I like that all the monks help Brother Hugo prepare the things he needs to make the new book. It was not as easy as going to the stationary store, as it would be today.The monks had to make everything by hand. The illustrations show an offended goose walking away from the monks who now have a bird feather from which to fashion a pen. There is so much detail in Brother Hugo and the Bear one must take a second look after reading the story. I love illustrative detail and Brother Hugo and the Bear is loaded with details. I noticed a bear hiding behind the tree as Brother Hugo leaves the other monastery. Even the two dogs look in the direction of the tree and bark. Alas, that bear never follows Brother Hugo. (Maybe he is a scout for the book-eating bear.)

While Brother Hugo toils at his writing task, outside a noise begins to disturb the entire monastery.

“Brother Hugo, Brother Hugo,” the other monks cried, “what can be the meaning of that noise? It is like the rumbling of a great stomach or the whooshing of a fierce wind.”

The monks had the answer. It is the bear, hungry for another masterpiece. Once more, Brother Hugo’s friends help ensure the safe return of the original St. Augustine to the other monastery. On his return trip, Brother Hugo takes along a sack from his friends along with the original book. The contents of that sack should keep the bear at bay while Brother Hugo travels. The author uses the word “snuffling” to describe the noise made by the bear. I looked this up and found that the bear has a cold and is trying to breathe through a blocked nose. Poor Bear. I really like this word and hope kids take the time to look up its meaning.


I was surprised to learn the story is based on a true event. There was actually a bear who ate a book in the middle ages. How interesting. The backmatter goes into detail as to how the author, first-time children’s author Katy Beebe, came up with the story. The illustrator also has a page of notes in which he compares his process to the process used by the monks. It is all very interesting. The best part of the book is the twist at the end. Almost to the door of the other monastery, the bear has caught up to the monk and waits. Brother Hugo has run out of offerings. What he does next will momentarily shock the bear. And here lies the twist, which is funny on many levels.

Children will enjoy Brother Hugo’s story. I think they will love the watercolor and ink illustrations, which are gorgeous. The friendship and cooperation displayed by the other monks is a wonderful message for children. Curious children will love learning of the work involved in producing a book. While the monks do this all by hand, the ingredients are the same: one author, several pages of paper, lots of ink, a copier to make many books, and the cover and binding. Brother Hugo is the copier of his time. All the monks were copiers. They copied books to keep the words available, you know, in case a bear eats the original book.

BROTHER HUGO AND THE BEAR. Text copyright © 214 by Katy Beebe. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by S. D. Schindler. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.

Purchase Brother Hugo and the Bear at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryEerdmansyour local bookstore.


Learn more about Brother Hugo and the Bear HERE.

Meet the author, Katy Beebe, at her website:   http://katybeebe.com/

Meet the illustrator, S. D. Schindler, at his website:   http://sdschindlerbooks.com/

Find more books at Eerdmans Books for Young Readers website:   http://www.eerdmans.com/youngreaders/

an Imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company     http://www.eerdmans.com/


Also NEW in 2014 by S.D. Schindler

Tricking the Tallyman

Tricking the Tallyman

Ben Franklin's Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention  

Ben Franklin’s Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention







brother hugo and the bear

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Benedictine monks, children's book reviews, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, Katy Beebe, La Grande Chartreuse, Middle Ages, parchment, picture book, S. D. Schindler, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

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10. #599-601 – Adventures at Walnut Grove: #1: A Lesson in Teasing – #2: I Double Dare You! – #3: I Can Do It by Dana Lehman & Judy Lehman

cover combosAdventures at Walnut Grove: #1: A Lesson in Teasing - #2: I Double Dare You! - #3: I Can Do It

by Dana Lehman & Judy Lehman, illustrator

Lehman Publishing   5/31/2010 – 4/24/2008 – 6/15/2007


Age 4 to 8       36 pages


“Sammy enjoys visiting new places, so he decides to take his friends to an enchanted forest called Whispering Willows. Along the way and through Paradise Pond, Bucky realizes that with practice and confidence, he can swim! Join Sammy and his friends on a journey that will have them swimming for frogs, swinging through the forest and building a tree house. Magical things happen in Whispering Willows . . . if you believe.


#1:  “Sammy was a unique squirrel.”

#2:  “Walnut Grove was a wonderful place to spend summer  vacation.”

#3:  “It was time for another visit from Sammy’s cousins, Silly and Sassy.”


Sammy is waiting for his cousins, Silly and Sassy to return to Walnut Grove, where Sammy lives. Sammy is a unique squirrel. He has raccoon eyes! Maybe it is his eyes or maybe because Sammy likes to lead that everyone follows him. Today the gang is going to Whispering Willows, a magical forest, where Sammy wants to build a treehouse. Who is this gang of animals? Sammy (squirrel, and apparent leader), Silly and Sassy (squirrels and Sammy’s cousins), Bucky (a beaver who is learning to swim), and Rocky (a raccoon, who trusts Sammy because of Sammy’s raccoon eyes).

This is the third adventure for this gang of friends. The first, entitled, Adventures at Walnut Pond: a Lesson in Teasing has the gang staying at the Walnut Grove Resort where they play with many new friends. In a game of walnut ball, a new kid (Bucky the beaver), tries to distract Sammy from hitting the walnut by teasing him. Later, Pokey (porcupine) teases Bucky about his lack of swimming skills. In the end, they all learn, teasing any animal is not nice and to treat others as you would like to be treated. Bucky and Pokey apologize and the kids have a great time for the rest of their visit to the Walnut Grove Resort.


#1: A Lesson in Teasing

I Double Dare You again brings the cousins Silly and Sassy. By now, they have gotten the knack of causing trouble without meaning to. They just do not think. During a game of hide-and-seek, Silly and Sassy get distracted by some nice long sticks. Silly double dares Sassy to play swords. Though mom had told them no more playing swords, Sassy could not refuse a double dare. She accidently pokes Silly in the eye. Later, Silly and Bucky climb up onto Deep Water Bridge. Silly double dares Bucky to jump into the river. Silly jumps and swims to shore. Bucky feels pressure to follow, so he jumps. There’s one problem: Bucky is just learning to swim. He begins to drown. Both Sassy and Bucky blame Silly because he had double dared them, leaving them no choice. The kids learn it is important to take responsibility for your own actions and to apologize when they are wrong. Silly’s poked eye heals and Bucky survives the water. When Bucky was drowning, his dad rescued him. In kid’s books, children—in this instance, one of the gang—should do the rescuing. This empowers kids.


#2: I Double Dare You!

This brings us to the most current adventure for Sammy and company. Mothers of two-year-olds are well aware of this title: I Can Do It! The gang is in Whispering Willows, the magical forest where anything can happen. Bucky’s learned to swim and can swim out after a frog, now named Whopper because the frog is one whopper! Silly will not fare as well. Every time Silly tries to build something, he gets hurt. Silly has no desire to help make a treehouse. Encouraged, he tries—and smashes his paw with a hammer, losing all confidence in himself. Silly also physically loses himself, sans his eyes, which look to be floating. Now that is eerie.

The magical tree allowing the kids to build tells Silly he will be invisible until he believes in himself. Silly stops helping. Later, Bucky gives Silly Whopper, whom Bucky considers a lucky charm. Silly gives building one more shot. Soon, his confidence returns, as does Silly. Thank goodness, Bucky knew how to help Silly. Silly’s mom would probably prefer a poked eye to an invisible child. The message of this third volume of Adventures at Walnut Grove is to believe in yourself. Believe I Can Do It!


#3: I Can Do It

The Adventures at Walnut Grove all carry messages that are impossible to miss. I am not fond of message books, especially when the message hits you almost instantly. That is just what I do not like; or simply my own opinion. If you like such books, the three well-written volumes—with a fourth in the works—has wonderful characters, each unique in some way. I like that the characters return in each new story. When a character is lost, some kids will be sad and may give up on the series. A series needs consistency and Ms. Lehman made sure all her beloved characters returned, once introduced, and acted consistently from one story to the next. I’d be very surprised if the fourth story strays.

The illustrations are nice. The images are not digital, giving the books a down-home feel that will be comforting. There is one odd spread. In I Can Do It, spread 6, the illustrator used the exact same illustration on the left and right halves of the spread.This lack of creativity is not acceptable. On a happier note, the animals are realistic and consistently drawn. I think kids will enjoy the illustrations. As for the text, my only suggestion would be to edit for wordiness and to bring the text more in line with picture book word counts of 500 to 1000. A few pages are nearly half text. Young children “read” the illustrations and may become distracted waiting for the page to turn. Beyond this, I like each story. I like the situations used to bring the message to fruition. Ms. Lehman is someone I would consider to have an active imagination. Every writer should have such an imagination.

Each book ends with A Word from the Author. It starts off on a good note to parents, but then becomes patronizing. The author may still be talking to children with her encouraging note. My understanding of an author’s note is to clarify the content or add to it. In a picture book, I do not expect a note for the child, but this would explain the tone of the note.

I look forward to book four. I think parents will love the messages this series can help them teach their children. Kids will enjoy the story and the wonderfully fresh illustrations. The last two pages contain a mix of open and closed discussion questions and a short activity. There are more activities on the author’s website. Kindergarten and first grade teachers could easily find a use for this series. Schools libraries would do well to stock up on Sammy and his friends at Walnut Grove.

ADVENTURES AT WALNUT GROVE #1: A LESSON IN TEASING, #2: I DOUBLE DARE YOU, #3: I CAN DO IT. Text copyright © 2007, 2008, 2010 by Dana Lehman. Illustrations copyright © 2007, 2008, 2010 by Judy Lehman. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Lehman Publishing, Allentown, MI.

Buy any of the Adventures at Walnut Grove books at AmazonB&NLehman Publishingat your local bookstore.


Learn more about the Adventures at Walnut Grove series HERE.

Meet the author, Dana Lehman, at her bio:  http://www.lehmanpublishing.com/author.php

Meet the illustrator, Judy Lehman, at her bio:  http://www.lehmanpublishing.com/author.php

.Find Lehman Publishing books at their website:   http://www.lehmanpublishing.com/

.AWARDS – 2009 Mom’s Choice Award (x2)

A Lesson about Teasing – Silver: Values and Life Lessons

I DOUBLE Dare You! – Silver: Developing Social Skills

adventures at walnut grove 1 2 3

Filed under: 4stars, Awards, Children's Books, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series Tagged: A Lesson in Teasing, beavers, Dana Lehman, I Can Do It!, I Double Dare You, Judy Lehman, Lehman Publishing, porcupine, racoons, squirrels, wild animals

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11. M.K. Hutchins Blog Tour: On Mythology, Maya Culture, & More!

To celebrate the release of her debut novel Drift last week, author M.K. Hutchins has been stopping by blogs throughout the week to talk about her writing process, Maya culture, and more.

drift, m.k. hutchins

Here’s a bit about Drift:

There’s no place for love on the shores of hell.

Tenjat lives on the shores of Hell, an ocean filled with ravenous naga monsters. His island, a massive Turtle, is slowed by the people living on its back. Tenjat is poor as poor gets: poor enough, even, to condescend to the shame of marriage, so his children can help support him one day.

But Tenjat has a plan to avoid this fate. He will join the Handlers, those who defend and rule the island. Handlers never marry, and they can even provide for an additional family member. Against his sister’s wishes, Tenjat joins the Handlers. And just in time: the Handlers are ramping up for a dangerous battle against the naga monsters, and they need every fighter they can get.

As the naga battle approaches, Tenjat’s training intensifies, but a long-hidden family secret—not to mention his own growing feelings for Avi—put his plans in jeopardy, and might threaten the very survival of his island.

You can read sample chapters from Drift online hereKirkus Reviews has called it “totally fresh” and Sarah Beth Durst, author of Vessel and Conjured, has called it “a fantastic adventure set in a stunning, original world. . . . Some of the best worldbuilding I’ve ever read.”

M.K. Hutchins’ tour schedule is below, so if you haven’t picked up Drift or you have and loved it, check out the following blogs for some great insight and conversation into this fantastic world!

June 19: John Scalzi’s Whatever BlogM.K. Hutchins on worldbuilding and cultural ecology here

June 20: Supernatural Snark – M.K. Hutchins on being inspired by Maya mythology here.

June 23: It’s All About Books – M.K. Hutchins’ top 5 most influential books here.

June 25: Read Now Sleep Later - Check back for the link!

June 26: The Brain Lair - Check back for the link!

Still want to learn more about M.K. Hutchins and Drift? Check out her blog and follow her on Twitter!

Filed under: Book News, Diversity in YA, New Releases, Tu Books Tagged: blog tour, debut author, drift, fantasy, m.k. hutchins

0 Comments on M.K. Hutchins Blog Tour: On Mythology, Maya Culture, & More! as of 6/25/2014 3:41:00 PM
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12. #596 – Jack the Boogey is My Real Name: the Truth About “The Boogeyman” by Chase and Davon Washington & Ana-Gabriela Stroe

CoverbigJack the Boogey is My Real Name: the Truth About “The Boogeyman”

by Chase and Davon Washington & Ana-Gabriela Stroe, illustrator

Bedford House Books        2014


Age 4 to 8       34 pages


“It takes a lifetime to build a reputation, but only a second to lose it. Why is it that we are so quick to judge before giving people (or monsters in this case) the benefit of the doubt? There is nothing that feels more wonderful than being recognized for all of your hard work. However, when that recognition does not come, does it make the task a hand any less important? Sometimes the very thing that we are scared to encounter can be the thing that moves us forward. Facing a fear can mean the difference between failure and success. With that in mind, we thought that a good place to start would be with the wrongfully accused “Boogeyman.”


“A long time ago, someone called me the Boogeyman, the name stuck. Maybe I should take the time to formally introduce myself . . . I’m Jack the Boogey.”

The Story

Jack the Boogey, protector of children’s sleep, is a monster. Yes, monsters haunt children by living under their beds, hiding out in closets, and maybe even tickling them and then hiding when the child wakes up afraid of the dark. Those monsters are afraid of Jack the Boogey. Jack is the night patrolman who keeps children’s dreams from becoming nightmares. Nasty monsters do not like Jack. Jack ruins all of their nighttime fun. So what is a scary monster to do? Unionize.

One fateful night, Jack the Boogey was hiding in a closet waiting for monsters to shoo away, when a bad monster showed up. Jack pounced on the monster, but there were more, many more. The monsters were waiting for Jack, and they had a plan. Instead of running, the monsters turned on the bedroom lights, screamed, and then ran. The two children awoke, saw Jack, and then they screamed. Jack tried to explain, but it was useless. Jack the Boogey was now Jack the Boogeyman.

The next day, the two frightened kids told their friends all about the monster Jack the Boogeyman, their friends told their friends, those friends told their friends, and now friends are telling their friends and will until there are no friends left to tell that Jack, is the Boogeyman. From that night on, while monsters ruined kids’ sweet dreams, Jack stayed home in bed, depressed. Would Jack ever return to protect his charges? Will monsters continue to harass children, scare them silly, and make them scream until they can no longer utter a sound? How many more nights will children make parents look into closets and under beds looking for the elusive monsters?


The Boogeyman. Definition: an imaginary monster that causes fear, especially in children; regarded as hateful, evil, or frightening; an imaginary evil creature used in stories for frightening children.

jackJack the Boogey is NOT the Boogeyman. Monsters maliciously maligned dear Jack. They wanted him out. As in gone. Permanently. They settled for inflicting anguishing mental pain that so debilitated Jack that he became bedridden and depressed. Yes, some monsters are very frightening. Jack is not one of them. Not many know about boogies, nor how they protect children and adults. I did not know. Nor did I know that a gang of marauding monsters had bullied Jack. Yet they did. Kids will enjoy learning of Jack the Boogie.

The illustrations of Jack and the monsters look cartoonish. Best not to scare children. The monsters do not look as scary as many of them are. Again, best for children. Jack the Boogey-man is a pale blue little guy with rosy cheeks, bright white eyes with small pin-point pupils, and two purple horns atop his head. Before the attack, Jack wore a constant smile that radiated from rosy check to rosy cheek. He looked like a janitor with his key ring hanging off his belt. If he ever wore pants and bent down, well, you get the picture. Jack was harmless except toward monsters. The real monsters that tear apart sweet dreams, hide under beds, and cause mayhem.

2The one negative is the end pages. Instead of adhered to the inside front and back covers, they flap in the air as additional pages. Poor planning in the constructions phase.

Jack’s story is difficult to believe, but kids will immediately understand and empathize with Jack. Bullies are the same, be they in a schoolyard or in a dark bedroom, late at night. The monsters easily fooled the frightened children who immediately told their friends to be careful. Of course, as time went on, the story of Jack the Boogeyman became embellished, and now hoards of children and adults are afraid of boogies, the very monster sent to protect them from monsters. It is a shame really, but the story needed told.

There is a redemptive moment for Jack. He misses the quiet breathing of sleeping children and hates the sound of their screams. Eventually he decides protecting youngsters—and some of us older kids—is more important that his bruised ego and returns to duty, much to the distress of many really scary monsters. Jack puts others before himself, does the right thing, and deflates his bruised ego. The monsters, who had become arrogant, once again run from boogies like Jack.

kiddsJack the Boogey is My Real Name is the debut children’s book for both authors and illustrator. The story is imaginative but a bit wordy, yet easy to read aloud. It will become a nighttime favorite. Right before parents drop to their knees for an under-the-bed monster check.  Jack has a mission statement and an official wallet identification card. He is the real deal of imaginary monsters. You’ll never see him as he protects you, but he is there. Young children going through the monster phase may feel comforted when reading about Jack and his protection skills. Nothing in the story is scary or nightmare inducing, making it the perfect anti-monster remedy.

JACK BOOGEY IS MY REAL NAME: THE TRUTH ABOUT “THE BOOGEYMAN.” Text copyright © 2014 by Chase and Davon Washington. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Ana-Gabriela Stroe. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Bedford House Books, Brooklyn, NY.

Buy Jack the Boogey is My Real Name at Amazon—B&N—Bedford House Books—your local bookstore.


Learn more about Jack the Boogey is My Real Name HERE.

Meet the authors, Chase and Davon Washington, at their website:   http://www.jacktheboogey.com/

Meet the illustrator, Ana-Gabriela Stroe, at her blogs: http://cargocollective.com/fluffylefluff  http://blog.gessato.com/2011/08/05/around-the-world-with-ana-gabriela/

Find more books at the Bedford House Books website:  http://bedfordhousebooks.com/ 

Ana-Gabriela Stroe’s portfolio:  http://www.dailyinspiration.nl/the-portfolio-of-ana-gabriela-stroe/



jack boogey

Filed under: 3stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Debut Illustrator, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Ana-Gabriela Stroe, Bedford House Books, Boogeyman, bullies, Chase and Davon Washington, children's book reviews, monsters, monsters under the bed and in the closet, picture book

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13. #590 – Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death by T. A. Anderson


Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death

by T. A. Anderson

published by T. A. Anderson       2/4/2014


Age 9 to 13             460 pages


“When twelve-year-old Colt Humboldt’s dad drags the two of them from perfectly good Dallas to ancient Edinburgh for a “fresh start,” Colt knows e’s in for a long, boring summer. Fat chance. That very first night, the peculiar Alesone and her little brother Peer crawl out of Colt’s closet, begging for his help to save their family from a horrible fate. Unfortunately, the instructions for doing so are contained in a fickle book that lies to make it up as it goes. Worse, those instructions give this ragged trio one week to journey across Scotland in a impossible adventure to capture three treasures—treasures fiercely protected by a hidden, treacherous world determined to see Colt fail . . . preferably by death. But if Colt and his new friends can survive a horror novel come-to-life, a madman and his minions, a disagreeable folklore legend, and the shocking discovery of just why Alesone and Peter are so odd . . . Well, the next wo treasures won’t come so easily.


“The flight attendant standing along the curb resembled a ripe blueberry volcano about to blow its top, thought 12-year-old Colt Humboldt from the backseat of the taxi. Her head-to-toe blue uniform appeared dangerously close to its design limits, with a blue cap squeezed over short blonde curls and three very prominent chins squeezing out of her collar.”


Not long after Colt’s mother died in a tragic automobile accident—which Colt survived—his dad accepts a position at the Edinburgh Zoo. Colt is not happy about moving from Dallas to Scotland. He chooses The Keepers room for his bedroom, not knowing the room’s history. This begins the history kids will learn about while reading the book. There are many pieces of knowledge inside the story, the biggest being the black plague that wiped out many in Europe.

What Colt thinks are ghosts awakens him the first night. These “ghosts” are actually two kids from the 1645. Alesone and her five-year-old brother Peter are running from the soldiers who want them back into the close in which the government has trapped all the inhabitants, thinking it will stop the black plague. The two kids are after a cure for their parents. To get the cure and passage back to their own time period, they must complete three missions, which get progressively harder and more dangerous. Colt agrees to help them. He is smitten on Alesone and bored without his friends.

Peter, Alesone & Colt

Peter, Alesone & Colt

Throughout the story, Colt must explain items that are commonplace in the twenty-first century but unheard of in the 1600’s. Many appear to be magic to the two kids. Peter has a habit of smashing things he does not understand, like alarm clocks and television sets. Five-year-old Peter experiences his first sugar high after a breakfast of Frosted Flakes™. He loves the cereal so much he sneaks a box home with him. Sugar highs are not common in the 1600’s as they are now. Peter also likes Colt’s Dallas Cowboys helmet, which took an arrow, saving the boy’s life on one journey.

Peter is an interesting character. He never utters a word, is very resilient, and handy in some of the sticky situations the three kids get into. Pretty good for s five-year-old out of his element. Peter also supplies much of the humor. I did think it odd that Alesone, a bright girl, is oblivious to the changes from her world to Colt’s. It takes her quite a while to accept that she is not in her 1645 world, as she continues to search for a pastor from 1645 and runs from/is afraid of the present day police who have no interest in Alesone or Peter.

Kids who like adventures with fantasy and humor mixed in will love Colt Humboldt. I read the 445 pages in two sittings, staying up late at night. If I were a kid, I would have taken a flashlight to bed just to keep reading the book. I love the characters. They are easy to care about and actually fun to root on as they continue searching for the three items needed to send Alesone and Peter back home. Nothing is what it seems on these journeys. Some of the secondary characters suddenly pop up, instantly twisting the story. Colt Humboldt is not difficult to understand or keep track of these twists and turns, but one does need to pay attention.

New Image

Much of the humor comes from Alesone and Peter being out of place in Colt’s world. He has no idea why they are so surprised by much of what they encounter, not knowing for a long time where the two kids have come from. All he knows is their parents will die if they do not collect the three treasures the Brown Man requires. The Brown Man of the Muirs (folklore) is but one of the folklore and creatures of Scotland legends included in the story. The true villain will be quite a surprise. Though the big villain in Alesone’s world, Mr. Vermyne, is rather easy given his name. He is a rat all right. Vermyne is one of those twists that will surprise you, yet make sense.

Mr. Anderson’s writing is excellent. Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death is the first of a series of adventures involving Colt. I am anxious to read the next volume. I love the way Anderson told Colt’s first story, though he could have made this into three books. A nearly 500-page book, with multitudes of folklore creatures, can look rather daunting to some middle graders. The pacing is great and the adventures are believable, though the last mission is a tough fight. Kids are in for a wonderful ride. A publisher would be very smart to get Anderson under contract. Colt Humboldt, with some high-powered marketing, and focused publicity should take flight right onto the bestseller list where it belongs. It is that good. Colt Humboldt is also T. A. Anderson’s debut.


COLT HUMBOLDT AND THE CLOSE OF DEATH. Text copyright © 2014 by T. A. Anderson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, T. A. Anderson.

Buy Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death at AmazonB&NBook DepositorySmashwordsKoboAuthor’s websiteyour local bookstore.


Learn more about Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death HERE.

Meet the author, T. A. Anderson, at his website:  http://taandersonauthor.wordpress.com/


If you only read one adventure/fantasy this year, make it Colt Humboldt and the Close of Death. Just my opinion and there are still several months left to find something better. We won’t.



colt humboldt 1

Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Debut Author, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: black plague, children's book reviews, Colt Humboldt, debut work, folklores, Mary King's Close, middle grade novel, Scotland, Scotland legends, T. A. Anderson

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14. #583 – Dixie Wants an Allergy by Tori Corn & Nancy Cote, illustrator

dixie allergy.

Dixie Wants an Allergy

by Tori Corn & Nancy Cote, illustrator

Sky Pony Press      4/01/2014


Age 4 to 8      32 pages


“It’s Dixie’s first day of school, and some of her classmates are sharing about their allergies. Bridget tells of her wheat allergy and how she gets to order a special meal from restaurants, Dixie thinks that must be a really special meal! And Charlie had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance once due to his dairy allergy. Dixie thinks that must have been thrilling! Dixie races home and begins to eagerly search for the slightest sign of an allergy. After many failed attempts, Dixie discovers she is allergic to something after all. But is getting what you wish for actually as exciting as it once appeared?”


“On the first day of school, Dixie got to know her classmates. Some of them said they had allergies.”


Have you ever wanted something so much you would do almost anything to get that thing? Dixie feels that way about having an allergy. Her kindergarten classmates talk about special bracelets, special restaurants meals, special school snacks, and even special rides in an ambulance, all because they have an allergy. This all sounds grand to Dixie. She goes home and begins searching for her allergy.

Dixie crawls under her bed and sniffs week-old, rank socks and dust bunnies. Nothing happens. She sniffs fresh flowers and waits. Nothing happens. She eats handfuls of pistachios and waits. It works! She gets a stomachache. Mom says she just ate too many pistachios. Oh.

Are you laughing yet? Dixie is a cute little girl. Of her six new friends, three get special treatment because of an allergy. I doubt Dixie understood an allergy is like being sick, and it is definitely not fun. None of her new friends were complaining about their allergy or saying it was a bad thing to have. Maybe Dixie should have asks some questions as she admired the allergy bracelet.

ambI do love her ingenuity when giving herself spots. Dixie must have a little understanding about allergies. Of course, those red spots do not itch or raise up into a welt. The illustrations use backgrounds of blue and yellow. Even the sky is yellow to represent a hot day. If Dixie had noticed the pinpoint eyes on her classmates, she would have noticed the allergy kids—except for special restaurant meals kid—were not happy when telling of their allergy.

Kids will enjoy Dixie Wants an Allergy, but it is best suited to kids with siblings or friends that already have an allergy, as a way of explaining the disease. According to the World Health Organization, nearly half of all school-age children have an allergy. To help explain the “special treatment” of some students, teachers of young children can read the kids Dixie Wants an Allergy.

braceletI really love the illustration of Dixie marking herself with a red marker, hoping a fake allergy would be as much fun as a real allergy. I don’t have that spread to show you, but when you do see it, it will give you a belly-ache-laugh, especially if you have kids. The author doesn’t leave the story just yet. Dixie goes to school and tells her new friends about her allergy. Then comes a twist. A new thing to be jealous of and wanting for yourself. It’s always something, right? Here is a hint: it involves a photograph.

I like Dixie Wants an Allergy. The story will hold children’s attention, it will make them laugh, they might learn to be careful of what they wish for (as they might just get it), and the twist will start up a new topic of discussion—laughs and smiles included.


Buy Dixie Wants an Allergy at AmazonB&NSky Pony Pressyour local bookstore.


Learn more about Dixie Wants an Allergy HERE.

Meet the author, Tori Corn, at her website:  [http://toricorn.com/

Meet the illustrator, Nancy Cote, at her website:   http://nancycote.com/

Find more books at the Sky Pony Press website:  http://www.skyponypress.com/

Sky Pony Press is an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.


Also by Tori Corn

What Will It Be, Penelope? coming soon in 2014

What Will It Be, Penelope?
coming soon in 2014






Also by Nancy Cote

Watch the Cookie!

Watch the Cookie!

Ella & the All-Stars

Ella & the All-Stars






dixie wants an allergy


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Allergies, children's book reviews, Inc., Nancy Cote, picture books, Sky Pony Press, Skyhorse Publishing, Tori Corn, watch what you wish for

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15. #582 – The Berenson Schemes #1: Jack the Castaway by Lisa Doan

cover_Castaway_JPG-330-exp The Berenson Schemes #1: Jack the Castaway

by Lisa Doan

illustrated by Ivica Stevanovic

Darby Creek          1/01/2014


Age  7 to 12           152 pages


“Jack’s parents have been chased out of Tokyo, gone broke in Greece, and hosted Nairobi’s least successful safari. Next they’re taking Jack on a Caribbean vacation—whether Jack wants to go or not. The Berensons are about to start a snorkeling business. It’s their latest get-rich-quick scheme. With these experienced world travelers at the helm, what could go wrong?

Jack’s used to staying indoors and not taking chances. When his parents take him out on the water, he ends up shipwrecked. Now Jack has to survive on a tropical island . . . and avoid a whale shark that’s swimming near the beach.”


“Jack’s parents had finally returned from the heart of the Amazon. They stood at the front door, browned and emaciated.”


Eleven-year-old Jack Berenson has lived most of his life indoors with his Aunt Julia, reading or playing video games . . . until a bus runs over Aunt Julia. With no other relatives, Jack must go with his parents. Richard and Claire Berenson have spent their lives traveling around the world chasing one get-rich-quick scheme to another. They are not rich. School starts soon and Jack wants to be there. Instead, his parents take him to an “undiscovered” Caribbean Island with plans to start a “lucrative” snorkeling business. They have a “master plan” which they follow, even after a failure. The Berensons decided a long time ago that nothing could go wrong if you have a master plan. Each time I say “Berenson” I can’t help but think of the bears and for some reason, it makes me laugh.

Jack’s parents are unreliable and self-interested to the point they often forget about Jack. They also have no idea how to be a parent or care for a child. The two act as if Jack is an adult as capable as they . . . well, as capable as most any adult. During the first trip out in the “new boat” Jack is expected to keep the skiff following his snorkeling parents, but instead the skiff runs out of gas, stranding Jack and a bird named Loco on an uninhibited island. His parents search for him—a couple of days later, but get distracted by some shiny thing or another and forget why they went out in the boat.

Jack the Castaway will entertain kids with laughs and twists. Most of the laughs come from dad, who makes daffy comments. Like when Jack tells his parents to enroll him in school.

         “ . . . We’ll figure out this homeschooling thingy as soon as we get the business sorted out.” (said Mom)

        “This is more than a thingy,” Jack said. “ . . . You would both be horrible at homeschooling. I doubt you’d even check my homework.”

        His dad laughed. “We’d never give you homework.”


The illustrations pop up every so often and I wish there were more. The black and whites illustrations capture the action of the moment perfectly. Stevenovic creates two parents who never had many worries and see the sky with a permanent rainbow. Jack is more realistic and his face easily transmits his current worries. Jack the Castaway flows well from one situation to another in realistic fashion. I think reluctant readers would like the story. The chapters are short and there are only a total of 143 story pages. I wish the author had included a short glimpse into book #2:  Jack and the Wild Life.

Jack’s situation is just what many kids think they want. Living in one of the best places in the world, swimming every day, doing what you want, when you want, without restrictions, and no homework. Heck, no school. To kids, Jack is the nerd that wants school and homework. But, by stories end, Jack won’t be thought of as that nerd. He survives being stranded on an island for several days—without eating the bird—and finds a way to get his parents to agree to a permanent home and some “family rules.” As the story ends, all is hopeful for the survival of the Berenson clan . . . until the next get-rich-quick scheme. Hold on, Jack!

THE BERENSON SCHEMES #1:  JACK THE CASTAWAY. Text copyright (2014 by Lisa Doan. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Lerner Publishing Group, Inc. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Darby Creek, Minnesota, MN.

Buy Jack the Castaway at AmazonB&NDarby Creekyour local bookstore.

Learn more about The Berenson Schemes series HERE.

Meet the author, Lisa Doan, at her website:   http://www.lisadoan.org/

Meet the illustrator, Ivica Stevanovic, at his website:   http://ivicastevanovicart.blogspot.com/

Check out more books at the Darby Creek an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.website: https://www.lernerbooks.com/ 


Also by Lisa Doan

The Berenson Schemes #2:  Jack and the Wild Life

The Berenson Schemes #2:  Jack and the Wild Life







Also by Ivica Stevanovic

Monsters Can Mosey: Understanding Shades of Meaning

Monsters Can Mosey: Understanding Shades of Meaning

The Royal Treasure Measure

The Royal Treasure Measure

Where's My Tushy?

Where’s My Tushy?




Review HERE.



berenson schemes 1 jack the castawy







Filed under: 5stars, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: Berenson Schemes series, Caribbean Islands, Darby Creek, get-rich-quick schemes, Ivica Stevanovic, Jack Castaway, Lerner Publishing Group, Lisa Doan, middle grade books, reluctant readers, whale shark

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16. #575 – Where’s My Tushy? by Deborah Aronson & Ivica Stevanovic

coverWhere’s My Tushy?

by Deborah Aronson & Ivica Stevanovic, illustrator

Carolrhoda Books              1/05/2014


Age 4 to 8           32 pages


“In one little town (it is sad but it’s true), the tushies left town without leaving a clue. What happens when all the tushies in an unusual town decide to take a vacation?”


“We all have a tush and we’re glad that we’ve got ‘em. Our lives would be rough with no tush or no bottom. If our tushies decided to get up and leave, we’d find it alarming and hard to believe”


In an odd little English town, on a nice night, all the tushies decided they deserved a holiday from their tough, stressful lives. The townsfolk awoke shocked to have lost their tushie. They tried to go about their normal day, yet nothing held up their pants. Oh, they all tried. Some stuffed their vacant bottom with socks or pillows, while others used rope or suspenders. It was a sorry sight.

Now, stop laughing! These people couldn’t sit down without their tushie. Standing made their feet tired—would they too walk away? Some cried out for their tushie to return, but the earless, triangular tushies went south, to lounge around on the beach and soak up the sun. Detectives tried detecting. People hung posters. Police took reports. A dog and cat—with tushies—stared at a poster, alarmed at the sight of the smiling tush.

Without the pressure and stress normally felt, the tushies enjoyed each carefree day . . . until, like most on holiday, they begin missing home and their jobs—okay, not quite like most. One day, a young redheaded girl tripped on a lump of grass and fortuitously fell down on her rump. She was thrilled for her tush was once again behind her. One by one, the tushies returned to their bottoms, promising never to abandon their person again.

Loaded with laughs and guffaws, Where’s My Tushie will delight kids. Tushes young and old leave town wearing nothing but undies. They have faces complete with eyes, nose, mouth, and a crack that gives them two horizontal chins. They sprout feet and hands. One must suspend their beliefs to enjoy the story. Easily done. The story, told in rhyme, are made of fantastic couplets—some quatrains—that are fun to read aloud because Ms. Aronson never misses a beat.


The illustrations are nicely done. I love the alarmed looks when all realize they have no tush. For one little boy, a dotted line outlines where his bottom should have been. I love all the detail and the little surprises in some of the spreads. Most have a tush or two looking on, smiling at the make shift behinds, as if enjoying the chaos they have caused. Two detectives, one with a magnifying glass, totally miss the double decker bus with a roof full of tushies. Sightseers, I’m sure.

Depending on a child’s age and gullibility, this inventive story will have kids checking for tushies, at least for a while. I am wondering where the tushies’ arms and legs went now that they have returned to being behinds. Do they fall off and regenerate when needed? I’m just as quizzical about the eyes, mouth, and nose. If the nose remains on the tush, eventually the promise never to leave will be broken. No doubt, kids will have thoughts such as those, and anyone who gets a solid answer, please let me know.

Teachers—inventive teachers—might find a use for Where’s My Tushie in the classroom. Young American kids will have questions about more than tushies. The illustrations are definitely English with a red double-decker and Sherlock Holmes like detectives, among other things. Don’t miss the hungry shark ready to eat a swimming tush. He possesses the crazed look seen in villainous cartoons.

WHERE’S MY TUSHIE. Text copyright © 2014 by Deborah Aronson. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Ivica Stevanovic. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Carolrhoda Books, Minneapolis, MN.

Buy Where’s My Tushie at AmazonB&NLerner Booksyour local bookstore.

Learn more about Where’s My Tushie HERE.

Meet the author, Deborah Aronson, at her bio:  http://www.hermanagencyinc.com/deborah_aronson.htm

Meet the illustrator, Ivica Stevanovic, at her website:  http://ivicastevanovicart.blogspot.com/

Meet Carolrhoda Books, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group, at the company blog:

Also by Ivica Stevanovic

Jack the Castaway (The Berenson Schemes)

Jack the Castaway (The Berenson Schemes)

Jack and the Wild Life (Berenson Schemes)

Jack and the Wild Life (Berenson Schemes)




Will be reviewing these soon!



wheres mu tushie





Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: bottoms, butts, Carolrhoda Books, children's book reviews, Deborah Aronson, Ivica Stevanovic, Lerner Publishing Group, tushes

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17. #567 – The Tribe #2: Camp Cannibal by Clay McLeod Chapman

tribe 2 camp cannibal.

The Tribe #2: Camp Cannibal

by Clay McLeod Chapman

Disney-Hyperion Books          4/22/2014


Age 8 to 12        322 pages


“Since being expelled from giving the Greenfield Middle School student body an “explosive” case of food poisoning and sent to live with his father, Spencer Pendleton hasn’t exactly been doing his best to put the past behind him and settle into his new life. What with losing the girl-of-his-dreams and gaining a there-but-absentee father, his life still has a few kinks to work out. And when his single-minded quest to track down the Tribe and reunite with Sully lands him at Camp New Leaf, Spencer is convinced things can’t get much worse. WRONG!

“Not only is Camp New Leaf no ordinary camp, but it appears that the Tribe hasn’t laid the past to rest either. And what better place to catch up with an old member—or recruit a few new ones—than a secluded camp for “troubled” boys. With rebellion in the air, Spencer must find a way to stop the Tribe’s plans to put down roots and expand its ranks before someone gets seriously hurt—or worse.”


“Dear Dad . . . If you’re reading this, that can only can one thing:

A. I’m dead and buried somewhere in the woods surrounding Camp New Leaf, my body now a buffet for maggots,

B. I’ve been arrested and am serving a life sentence for crimes I didn’t commit,

C. Me (and my lungs) are on the run.

“You sold me out.”

The Story

Way back in book 1 Spencer meet a group of kids—the Tribe—living secretly in Greenfield Middle School. Not having read the first book—though I really want to—I only know that the Tribe and Spencer had some outs of sort. I think it may have had to do with Sully, a beautiful girl Spencer fell for but another Tribe member, Peashooter, objected for some reason. The Tribe poisoned lunch at the middle school causing the entire student body to have extreme diarrhea. Spencer was to blame, so said the principal and a judge. They asked him to stop blaming his imaginary friends and take responsibility.

Spencer also went to live with his father, who had never been a real father or held up his end of responsibilities, ducking out because of work whenever he was to do something with or for Spencer. With mom now fed up and unsure what to do with Spencer, Dad gets his turn. He continues to skirt his responsibilities and when he gets tired of Spencer’s antics, enrolls him in Camp New Leaf, a summer camp for troubled boys.  Not long after arriving at the camp, where many of the campers were returning campers, Spencer felt watched the way the Tribe watched him at his old school. By nightfall, The Tribe had taken control of Camp New Leaf. Spencer got new quarters outside in a makeshift cage, and the youngest campers ran ram shot around the grounds. The Tribe stopped all medication cold turkey—using it on the camp director and his camp counselors. The no medication adjustment period brought out interesting behaviors. Spencer actually thinks clearer when off the medications he never should have been prescribed.

Soon supplies begin to run out and the boys get tired of the Tribe’s rules and “training.” Anarchy prevails just as the parents arrive for Parent’s Day.


Book 2 can stand on its own, but I would not recommend reading it before reading book 1. I think there is one more book to arrive and I would get these two finished before then, whenever “then” is.

The Tribe is interesting, imaginative, and incredibly spellbinding. Imaginary friends, who are not imaginary, but also never seen by anyone but Spencer, live in the middle school. They recruit Spencer, something breaks the bond, the Tribe retaliates, and Spencer catches blame for a horrendous crime committed by the Tribe sans Spencer. In the process he loses his home, the police keep him on a short leash, and then dad sends Spencer away for the summer to a soft therapy camp disguised as a summer camp. But the Tribe are not far away, having lived the past six months in the woods surrounding the camp, which is at least fifty miles from civilization.

Camp Cannibal grabs you immediately and ties to the story. Pages fly by on their own as your gasp at the horrors, laugh at the inane, and wonder if this whole situation were actually possible. Could a summer camp go berserk? The characters standout, nearly every one of them. One dad wants to know what is going on and you can see him standing there, demanding answers with this confused and angry face. You can feel his frustrations and inner horror at what his child is doing and might possibly have become. The Tribe is a wonderful middle grade novel, but one for older kids with more advanced language comprehension and moral compasses.

If you want a story to grab you from page one, to hold you captive just like those at camp, and then free you with a thud as the ending becomes nothing you thought it would, The Tribe is your cup of spiked tea. The ending is shocking, surprising, and most definitely heartbreaking. By the last word you must, absolutely must, read book 3—if only to find out Spencer’s fate. For now, hold your kids tight, tell them you love them, and be available to them every moment they need you and then when they don’t. Be careful. Believe all imaginary friends are real—until they are not.

THE TRIBE #2: CAMP CANNIBAL. Text copyright © 2014 by Clay McLeod Chapman. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Disney-Hyperion, New York, NY.

Buy The Tribe #2: Camp Cannibal at AmazonB&NDisney-Hyperionyour local bookstore.


Learn more about The Tribe trilogy HERE.

Meet the author, Clay McLeod Chapman, at his website:   http://claymcleodchapman.com/

Find more books at the Disney-Hyperion website:  http://books.disney.com/

an imprint of Disney Book Group

tribe i homeroom headhuntersThe Tribe: Homeroom Headhunters 

All Schools are the same and Spencer Pendleton expects no less from Greenfield Middle. But Spencer hasn’t met them yet-the Tribe, a group of runaway students who secretly own the school. They live off cafeteria food and wield weapons made out of everyday school supplies. Strangely, no one seems to know they exist, except for Spencer. And the group wants him to join their ranks. All he has to do is pass the initiations…and leave his mother and life behind. Can Spencer go through with it? Better yet, what will happen if he says no?.


. tribe 2

Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: children book reviews, Clay McLeod Chapman, Disney Book Group, Disney-Hyperion Books, imaginary friends, mental health in teens and kids, midde school, summer camps, troubled boys

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18. #565 – Three Little Shrimp by J. Steven Spires & Jonathan Caron

3little shrimp jThree Little Shrimp

by J. Steven Spires & Jonathan Caron, illustrator

Inspired Books Publishing        5/01/2013


Age 4 to 8           32 pages


“Three little shrimp are swimming with their troop . . . one adventurer, one follower and on worry wart. As their eyes fall upon the wonders around them, they suddenly get an idea. Two are ready to explore. The other is not so sure. There is only one problem. Unseen danger lurks in the water. What will they do?”


“One fine day three little shrimp went swimming.”


Three shrimp were part of a group—a troop—of shrimp heading out to sea. Immediately, the three shrimp separated from the others, but it is unknown how that happened. In their lone adventures, they run into four dangerous situations, and four times, they came out of it unscathed, making them very lucky shrimp indeed. First, they swam near the shore and three egrets envision a pot of gumbo. Just in time, the three shrimp ducked into a hole, despite the third shrimp’s misgivings, and avoided the egrets. In the hole, they nibbled on worms.

On Their Own

On Their Own

The shrimp also narrowly avoided a huge fish looking for a snack and an extremely dangerous looking loggerhead turtle. Both times, the shrimp were saved by their hunger as they swam into sea grass and algae and ate “until their stomachs burst.” Finally, a fisherman wants the shrimp for bait. Luckily, the shrimp swam down, just out of reach of where the fisherman cast his net, to devour minnows into their ever-expanding stomachs.

The shrimp are of two distinct personalities. The first is a leader and the other two are followers, though the third is also a worrier that the other two ignore. The shrimps’ narrow escapes are just good old fashioned dumb luck, as none of them even saw the dangers they were in. Finding the rest of the group—the troop—was also luck, though that time they did have a goal in mind and worked toward the goal.

Egrets Threaten

Egrets Threaten

The illustrations, tempered by the aqua-green sea and the greyish-brown prawn, tend to be dark,* yet realistic. The other animals add color to the spreads while the scenes above the sea fill the spread with wonderful hues of yellow and orange.There is a grainy textured effect to the illustrations, giving them a worn look.The eyes carry all emotion in the story. The egrets, the huge fish, and the loggerhead turtle have mean, dangerous eyes making them predators anything would be scared of . . . unless oblivious to their presence. The shrimp have bright, inquisitive eyes matching their curiosity and giving away their young, innocent, inexperienced age.

Most interesting is the illustrator, fifteen-year-old Jonathan Caron, a high school art-student. Two years later, at seventeen, Jonathan finished the picture book, the coloring, and other activity illustrations. It all helped Johnathan win a full scholarship to a German university, where he now studies architecture.

Loggerhead Turtle Theatens

Loggerhead Turtle Threatens

If there is a message in this story it would be: for luck and safety, keep your mind on your stomach. No, Three Little Shrimp is simply a cute story for entertainment sake and nothing more and that’s okay. Not every story needs to contain a message to kids. Those interested in ocean life and animals will find this story most enjoyable. The simplistic nature of the story is best for younger children, age 4 to 6. Three Little Shrimp is both the author and illustrator’s debut children’s book and debut in the publishing world with Inspired Books Publishing.

*When printed, the spreads above look darker in the actual picture book.

THREE LITTLE SHRIMP. Text copyright © 2013 by J. Steven Spires. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Jonathan Caron. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Inspired Books Publishing, Slidell, LA.

Buy Three Little Shrimp at AmazonAuthor’s Websiteyour local bookstore.


Meet the author, J. Steven Spires, at his website:  http://jstevenspires.com/ 

Meet the illustrator, Jonathan Caron, the son of children’s book illustrator Romi Caron, who supervised her son’s at work.

Find other books at Inspired Books Publishing’s website:

romi caron



3 little shrimp ftc

Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: children's book reviews, coastal waters, Inspired Books Publishing, J. Steven Spires, Jonathan Caron, prawn, Romi Caron, shrimp

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19. say hello to lisa rose

Meet Lisa Rose

Meet Lisa Rose

It’s my delight to introduce you to vivacious, rap-writing debut author Lisa Rose. I first met Lisa through our regional chapter of SCBWI and was immediately attracted to her bright smile, energy and enthusiasm. And wait until you hear her good news . . .

Tell us about your book–details! We want details!
SHUMLIK PAINTS THE TOWN will be published by Kar-Ben in 2016. It’s about a painter named Shumulik who needs to create a mural for Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day). He can’t think of anything to paint and soon all of Jerusalem will be there. What is he going to do? It has a funny surprise ending!

Can’t wait to read SHUMLIK PAINTS THE TOWN and find out what the surprise is. So, when did you know you wanted to write for children?
It sounds cliché, but I was in second grade. I wrote a poem and my teacher called me a writer. I always wanted to write. But my mother told me to do something that made money. So I became an elementary teacher and got really, really, really rich! Moral of the story: don’t listen to your mother.

Very funny, Lisa. Now, what is it about writing for children that appeals to you versus writing for adults?
Hope. All children’s book must end in hope or by definition they are not a children’s book.

What’s the best writing advise you’ve ever been given?
I was a playwright before I wrote for kids, but this still applies: “No amount of sequins can save a bad script.”

Love that. And it definitely applies to children’s writing too. As you know, Frog on a Dime is all about encouraging children’s writers, so what’s the most encouraging thing anyone has ever said to you (related to writing)?
It was from Michigan’s own Debbie Taylor. I was writing outside of my race and shared with her I wasn’t trying to be revolutionary, I just wanted to write about something that touched me. Debbie said, “That’s your answer!” Recently, I was working on a project and it just wasn’t working. I tried and tried. Until I realized I was writing it for all the wrong reasons. I think good writing must have passion and purpose. The idea must scrape your soul.

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

Photo by Vicky Lorencen

What advise would you give to someone who has been pursuing publication for a long time, with close calls, but no contracts?
Keep going and learn how to flip-turn. I was swimmer before I was writer. It is excellent training. I was used to going as fast as could into cement walls. Instead of crashing after rejection, I just turned around and swam as fast I could into another cement wall. I sent the editor at Kar-Ben over twenty stories. We were on a first name rejection basis. But she kept encouraging me to send more stories. And so I did. I told myself I was going to keep writing until I got a contract or a restraining order from her. Luckily for me, the contract came first.

That’s great advise, Lisa. I’d never thought about flip-turns, but that’s a perfect analogy for the submission process. Time for one last question? Okay, name three things we’d be surprised to learn about you.
1. While I have this nice Jewish book coming out with Kar-Ben, most of my novels feature African-American characters and I am working on a digital media project with the former producers of rapper Eminem. Yes, I even write rap music.
2. I have partnered with a Detroit graffiti artist, Fel3000ft. to create a chapter book. I joke that I write everything from shalom to shazizzle!
3. I like eating ice cream with a fork.
4. BONUS! I have an e-book coming out with MeeGenius in the Spring: OH NO! THE TOOTH FAIRY BROKE HER WING! It is a sequel to OH NO! THE EASTER BUNNY IS ALLERGIC TO EGGS!

Hey, this was fun, Lisa. Thank you for stopping by Frog on a Dime. Wishing you many more publishing success stories. Keep doing those flip-turns!

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20. #525-6 – bunnies near and far & orange triangle fox by sarah jones

Today we start with a question. Two questions, to be exact.

  1. Can you count to ten?

“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10”


 2. Do you know your colors?

Red, blue, yellow, green, orange— ”

—Okay, that’s great!

“. . . pink, purple, brown, black . . .”

Let’s get started. Debut Author Sarah Jones.


bunnies near and far.

Bunnies Near and Far

by Sarah Jones

Blue Manatee Press      4/01/2014


Age 1 to 4      10 pages


“Colors. Shapes. Critters! Three concepts in one make learning fun! Inspire bedtime or story time, with this fun and educational concept book! Watch colorful native forest animals including red square owl and yellow star frog take shape, teaching basic concepts simultaneously. Rich, sweet watercolor illustrations are a delight for sharing over and over again.”


1 bunny near. 2 bunnies far.”



Farmer Bo has lost track of his bunnies. Where could they have gone? We know 1 bunny is nearby and 2 bunnies are far off. Where did 3 bunnies go, and 4 bunnies? I saw 5 bunnies going up and 6 bunnies going down—they were on a teeter-totter. Wherever 7 and 8 bunnies went in opposite directions. Then I heard 9 bunnies singing to 10 bunnies playing an instrument. Farmer Bo does not know where any of his bunnies are. Oh, look! Farmer Bo counts as the bunnies return home. 1-one, 2-two, 3-three . . . all the way to his 10-ten musical bunnies. Wow! How many bunnies is that?2

There are bunnies everywhere in Bunnies Near and Far. The situations the bunnies get into are common and recognizable by little kids. This is a fun way to learn how to count. The bunnies are cute though a tad plump and do some goofy stuff. Little kids will giggle at these bunnies on an apparent day off. I love the color of the book, which is predominately green with a few other colors tossed in on a few pages. The car is carrot orange and is somewhat shaped like a carrot. There even looks to be a smidge of green at the back of the car. I love details like this; things you would never expect. The theme of Bunnies Near and Far is more modern than most simple counting books and maybe that is what makes it so utterly charming.


Still remember your colors. (Please do not tell me, I remember.) Let’s look at colors.


orangr triangle fox.

Orange, Triangle, Fox

by Sarah Jones

Blue Manatee Press     4/01/2014


Age 1 to 4     10 pages


“Farmer Bo wants to know where his bunnies are. Some are near, some are far, some walking some in a car, and all are as cute as can be! Little ones will learn counting and opposites in this fun tale of bunnies on the go. Perfect for sharing: read and count along to find out what they’ll do next!”


brown circle hedgehog”



Orange, Triangle, Fox is about colors, shapes, and animals. What could be more perfect than all of these concepts in one book for the youngest children? Interestingly, the shape and color become the shape of the animal and its color. The title page is orange and the shape is a triangle. The fox is an orange triangle. I think this will delight kids. The forest animals include an owl, a fox, frog, and a turtle among others. Young children will simultaneously learn about three concepts—shapes, colors, and animals—learning to process multiple stimuli. They may start looking at the world around them for animals or other objects in a certain shape. The forest animals are adorable, maybe more so because of the shape they have become.


As a set, Orange, Triangle, Fox and Bunnies Near and Far help young children learn, or reinforce, their numbers, colors, and forest animals. The books are kid shaped, just the size for little hands to hold. The pages are thick to stand up to kids excitedly turning the page. Spilt milk and blobs of jelly should wipe right off the heavy, glossy pages. At ten pages, bedtime reading of Orange, Triangle, Fox and Bunnies Near and Far can start a tradition of reading and a lifelong love of books. Both of these books are nontraditional in form, but very much traditional in content. Little ones can learn about the numbers one through ten, and about colors, shapes, and animals. Four important elements your child needs to learn, packed into two adorable books with designs by Sarah Jones. Beautiful and functional, child-sized and childproof.


Learn more about Sarah Jones books for young children HERE.

Buy Bunnies Near and Far at AmazonB&Nyour local bookstore.

Buy Orange, Triangle, Fox at AmazonB&Nyour local bookstore.


Meet Sarah Jones at her profile at scbwi:  http://www.scbwi.org/members-public/sarah-jones

Find more board books at the website of Blue Manatee Press:  http://bluemanateepress.com/


ORANGE TRIANGLE FOX and BUNNIES NEAR AND FAR. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by Sarah Jones. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Blue Manatee Press, Cincinnati, OH.



Water, Baby Unplugged

Water, Baby Unplugged

Toast to Family

Toast to Family

Your Red Shoes

Your Red Shoes





saraah jones

Filed under: 4stars, Board Books, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, NonFiction Tagged: animals, baby, basic concepts, bedtime, Blue Manatee Press, children's book reviews, colors, counting 1 to 10, home learning, Sarah Jones, shapes, story time, toddler

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21. #539 – Two Hands to Love You by Diane Adams & Paige Keiser


Two Hands to Love You

by Diane Adams & Paige Keiser, illustrator

Chronicle Books      2014


Age 4 to 8     36 pages


“With two loving hands, an adoring mother cradles her baby after bath time and a devoted father introduces his toddler to the wonders of he world. Sister, brother, grandma, and grandpa all can’t wait to share what they love best about the world with their newest family member. And when it is time to step ot into the world, this caring family is right there alongside. In simple, heartfelt language, this soothing picture book for the very young will tug at the heartstrings and remind us all of the caring hands that helped us along our way.”


“When the world is a strange place, unfamiliar and new,

my two hands will hold you, will carry you through.”

The Story

In a nutshell, the story is about a couple who begin a family and the paths they take with their children as they grow and become a family of five—plus two involved grandparents. The first baby is gently cared for, everything new for everyone, not just the baby. As he grows, mom plays outside with her toddler, pulling him in a wagon after an afternoon bath in the sun.

Dad takes over, playing airplane with his son, then cradles the new baby and pledges his love. The first-born cares for the second-born, a girl as curious as her brother. Then the third arrives and the three kids guide and love each other.

Grandparents read to their grandson and blow bubbles for this newest child. The joys of childhood and a mother who races to her crying child. This all is part of this family of five, who love each other.


My loyal readers know what I will write in this space and it will not be that I hated this book. The story is composed of fragments of time, caught like photographs. A mother holds her first-born close, never wanting to let go, but she does. With dad, the toddler continues to grow and this happy family of three thrives. Then enters child number two, a girl. It is daddy’s turn to hold the baby close, his little girl. The images that accompany each frame of time softly plays the scene out for us.


Using watercolors and ink, the artist catches these tender moments, making them precious and tenderer, if that is even possible. Her images could tell this story without the text, which is what a good illustrated picture book should do—words for adults and kids, images for little ones, not yet a reader. I tended to pick up this book and turn its pages carefully, feeling the fragility of family, and the joys of one so close.

Children have real childhoods, playing with each other, guiding each other. Along the way, various hands help the children to grow: mom, dad, grandma and grandpa, and many more not shown.The sweetness is palatable. Two Hands to Love You may well have you thinking about your own little ones, whether they are still little or grown and on their own, maybe starting families. Alternatively, of your own childhood and what that meant to you.


I love the rhyming text. The words fit together perfectly, meaning I did not immediately recognize the rhyme, just the smooth flow of words that belonged together in that precise order. I think this story can help others remember what a family needs to be—a shelter in the storm and a place to learn and grow without ridicule and maybe a little rhyme.

I love the inherent gentleness the illustrations give us. I love the extended family all involved in raising a child. I guess I simply love Two Hands to Love You, which is an ideal baby shower gift. This is also an, “Oh, my, gosh, you’re pregnant” gift. New parents will cherish Two Hands to Love You. It would be the couple’s first, How to Raise Baby book.

For children Two Hands to Love You reinforces that parents will always be there for them, no matter the distance. That home is a shelter from the storm. A place to recharge before heading back into the world. Children want to know their parents will also be there for them. That message rings loudly through the tender pages of Two Hands to Love You.


TWO HANDS TO LOVE YOU. Text copyright © 2014 by Diane Adams. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Paige Keiser. Reproduce by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

To learn more about Two Hands to Love You, click HERE.

Make Two Hands to Love You yours by going to AmazonB&NChronicle Books—or your local bookstore.


Meet the author, Diane Adams at her website:   http://www.dianeadams.net/

Meet the illustrator, Paige Keiser at her website:   http://www.paigekeiser.com/

Find other incredible books at the Chronicle Books website:   http://www.chroniclebooks.com/


Also by Paige Keiser

The Little Green Pea

The Little Green Pea

One Night In Bethlehem

One Night In Bethlehem




. I Love My Hat (October 2014)


NEW from Chronicle Books

I Didn't Do My Homework Because . . .

I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . .

 Peek-a Zoo

Peek-a Zoo








2 hands to love you


Today is National Library Workers Day

Be extras nice to those who staff your library!

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: children, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, Diane Adams, family, family relationships, grandparents, growing up, Paige Keiser, parents, raising children

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22. #542 – Cat Says Meow: And Other Animalopoeia by Michael Arndt


Cat Says Meow: And Other Animalopoeia

by Michael Arndt

Chronicle Books               2014


Age 2 to 4           28 pages


“Dog says woof . . . pig says oink . . . cow says moo. Animals and the sounds they make are paired up in playfully compelling ways in this eye-catching illustrated gift book featuring bold colors and an engaging use of onomatopoeia. Kids and parents will delight in discovering the ways in which the letters that spell out each animal’s sound are key elements of that animal’s illustration. With so much to see and to sound out, kids will relish this unique visual and educational experience, brimming with color and letters.”






How do you say hello? Ask any of the animals in Cat Says Meow and you will get the answer you probably are expecting, but the animal may look a tad different from normal. The duck still says quack, but look closely at the animal that just spoke to you.

Its left eye looks like the letter “q.”

Its beak looks like a large “u.”

Its right eye looks like an “a.”

The wing looking like a large “c.”

Its legs that look like an odd “k.”

There is something odd going on. Still, if it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, then it must be a  . . . wait a minute, that duck says “quack” and it is made out of the letters quack, which spells “quack!” This has to be a coincidence.

cow pig

Well, there are 25 animals in all, each greeting you in their native tongue, and each looking mostly normal. Take the cow. It greets you by saying, “Moo.” It looks normal as normal can be . . . wait, again. This cow is a bit odd looking.

Its right eye looks like an “m.”

Its left eye looks more normal, but still it looks suspiciously like an “o.”

Its nose looks like another “o.”

“Moo” says the cow that looks like moo.

There is a definite trend going on. A random turn of the thicker than usual pages brings me to an owl, which says, “Hooo.” An owl that looks like “hooo” and says, “Hooo.” Interesting. A pattern has definitely emerged from Cat Says Meow. Every animal, on every page looks like it sounds.

The author calls this animalopoeia, a word he has trademarked. Each animal, which the author also drew, looks like it sounds. A dog is “woof,” a lamb is, “baa,” and a horse is “neigh.” Onomatopoeia means words that sound like the actual act or thing. The words cough, growl, and boom are onomatopoeia. In Cat says Meow, all of these words are animal sounds. The author has coined these sounds Animal*opoeia. This is Michael Arndt’s debut children’s book.

mouse cat

Cat Says Meow is a great little book for teaching your child about 25 common animal sounds. As in reading, the words in each animal shape are formed from left to right, top to bottom. The large, singular illustrations little kids will easily recognize and will enjoy speaking like the animals and hearing you do the same.

Michael Arndt explained Cat Says Meow and Other Animalopoeia and animalopoeia in particular, “[aim] is to promote verbal and visual literacy as well as foster a love of animals at an early age.” Part of the Arndt’s proceeds from Cat Says Meow go back to animal rescue organizations, groups that are also dear to me. The next time you hear a familiar “meow” and think it is your Fluffy, take a quick look,  it could be an animalopoe*ia.

CAT SAYS MEOW: AND OTHER ANIMALOPOEIA. Text and Illustrations copyright (C w2014 by Michael Arndt. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

Youtube video found by Erik at ThisKidsReviewsBooks. His review is HERE.


Learn more about Cat Says Meow and Other Animalopoeia HERE.

Buy a copy of Cat Says Meow and Other Animalopoeia at AmazonB&NChronicle Booksyour local  bookstore.


Meet the author/illustrator, Michael Arndt, at his facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/animalopoeia

Find more books at Chronicle Books’ website:http://www.chroniclebooks.com/


cat says meow

Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: animalopoeia, animals, cat, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, dog, Michael Arndt, onomatopoeia, words that are sounds

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23. #553 – Magical Animals by Ian White & Gastón Hauviller


Magical Animals

by Ian White & Gastón Hauviller, illustrator

Laredo Publishing     2014

Magical Animals

by Ian White & Gastón Hauviller

Age 4 to 8       32 pages


“Leo is bored, wishing there was more magic in life. He gets big surprise when a mysterious wizard appears and sweeps him away on an incredible whirlwind tour of the animal kingdom!”


“Leo was sitting so bored and so blue.

He couldn’t play Wizards as he loved to do.

His mother had told him ‘Magic’s not real!’

Imagine how miserable that made him feel.

Now he was grumbling, downcast, and glum, /

“A world without magic is simply no fun!’”

The Story

Leo could not play the game he loved, one filled with magic, so he sat feeling grumpy instead of doing something else. Soon a wizard arrives and takes Leo on a tour of magic in his own backyard. They start by watching a humming bird hover by a flower as it drinks a flower’s nectar. The Wizard tells Leo the hummingbird’s ability to hover is magical. Next they go to the beach were baby turtles are hatching and immediately walking toward the ocean. No one tells these turtles what to do, they move on an innate instinct the Wizard calls magical. The two continue on to different animals and the “magical” abilities each possess, with the Wizard proclaiming, (or a variation thereof),

“It’s magic, true magic, hard to explain!”

After watching a chameleon change its color, a squirrel find nuts it squirreled away now under snow, and a mother penguin find her family among thousands of penguins, the Wizard returns Leo to his bedroom. He tells Leo magic does not always require wands or spells, but in life all around him, if only he will look.



Many things in the animal kingdom are amazing and sometimes unexplainable. The Wizard calls these things magic, or magical, when showing ten these creatures to Leo. It is hard not to agree that a newly hatched turtle immediately taking off in the direction of the sea, no matter the direction they face when hatched, is not magical. Or that the Monarch Butterfly makes it from Canada to Mexico each year without maps or GPS. There are many amazing abilities animals possess that we never consider magic, but maybe we should. How else to explain that an octopus can squeeze into astronomically small spaces or that a  mountain goat can prance about a steep rock and  not fall, thanks to “magical hooves” that stick so well.

The illustrations, softened by subtle dots that run through the paper, have muted color in Leo’s room, where he is glum about not playing his Wizard game. An actual Wizard brings more color with him and each setting, whether the ocean or the glaciers, the illustrations depict very realistic worlds.


The Wizard spins a great tale for young Leo, who comes away feeling much less glum for not being able to play a game of “magic.” The author’s plausible message, that there is magic all around us, is a good message for kids and adults. The story is simple; a Wizard takes a boy on a magical trip around the world to watch select animals. It is hard to resist believing the Wizard’s message too young Leo. We all know some intriguing animals are on this earth and they can do some pretty amazing things, some without a bit of direction or advice. That is possibly magical.

Kids will love this story and after will have a new understanding of their world. I’m sure they will look at their surroundings with a new perspective and see magic where it had not been just minutes before. If we look closely at the world around us on our daily commutes, we may be surprised at what we see. Magical Animals is Ian White’s debut children’s book, and  very good beginning to a new career.


MAGICAL ANIMALS. Text copyright © 2014 by Ian White. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Gastón Hauviller. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Laredo Publishing,


Learn more about Magical Animals HERE.

Buy Magical Animals at AmazonLaredo Publishingyour local bookstore.


Meet that the author, Ian White, at this website:  http://magicalanimalschildrensbook.com/index.html

Meet the illustrator, Gastón Hauviller, at his website:  http://www.hauviller.com/

Find more books at the Laredo Publishing website:  http://laredopublishing.com/


Also by Gastón Hauviller

I Do Not Want This On My Plate

I Do Not Want This On My Plate

an honest boy

An Honest Boy, Un hombre sincero




reviewed HERE



magical animals

Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: animals, children's book reviews, Gastón Hauviller, Ian White, imagination, Laredo Publishing, magic, world view

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24. #563 – Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer by William Fourth

orion poe 1.

Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer

by William Summerhouse

Shake-A-Leg Press                9/14/2014


Age 8 to 12         284 pages


“Eleven-year-old Orion Poe lives with his stodgy grandfather in eastern Maine, where nothing exciting ever happens. But then a series of strange events draws him into the mystery of the lost explorer and Orion is swept up in a whirlwind of adventure that takes him to the top of the world. To survive he must outwit a scheming treasure hunter, team up with a gang of flimps, and take on a tyrant with an anger management problem. Can Orion solve the mystery and get back home alive? And just what are flimps?”


“If you read what Mr. Lumpkin wrote in the newspaper about my adventure at the top of the world, you only got half the story.”

The Story

Orion Poe finds a man thrown to the shores of Maine by a nor’easter who turns out to have been running from New Britain, a community at the top of the world. He leaves Orion with a map dated 1847 and written by John Franklin, an explorer looking for the Northwest Passage but disappeared with over 130 men and 2 tall ships. Franklin and his crew were never found.

A John Franklin is the governor of New Britain and a tyrant bent on total control of the inhabitants. He comes searching for the man who Orion found, murders him, and then ransacks Orion’s home looking for the knapsack Orion now has. After taking the map to a professor, the professor and Orion take off on an adventure to find the reason the man washed up on a Maine shore, what he was running from, but mostly, was the map pointing to the lost whereabouts of Franklin and his crew?

orion poe


Based on the real John Franklin and crew who disappeared and never heard from again, Orion Poe and the Lot Explorer crashes history with adventure in a story difficult to put down. At first, the tall ship looking for the washed up man seemed to be a ghost ship, and it was in its own way, but also a real ship from the 1800’s traveling the current seas. Once at the top of the Canadian Arctic, time stopped for Franklin and his crew and he wanted no one to find out. This once amicable group now lived in tyranny and fear. With the professor and Orion making their way up       to the arctic, Franklin’s fears become a reality.

I liked the high seas fighting that occurs and that the real travel times are observed. Orion doesn’t make it to New Britain over night but must face the rough unforgiving sea first. Once there, Orion spends time in the new city and we learn how they could pull off living in such an extreme environment and what year they believe it is: 2013 or 1847. There is also a darker side to this community where the entire group of cast offs are placed. Here a group of courageous kids is quietly fighting the tyranny of New Britain. This side story become important and is some of the best writing.

The edition I received has the author name of William Fourth. I am not sure why this was changed or when, but the real author name is William Summerhouse and many of the books list him as the author. I’m curious as to the change. Throughout the writing is crisp and clean. While reading, it felt like I was right there alongside Orion. Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer, book 1 in the Orion Poe Adventure Series, is Summerhouses debut and it will be rather difficult for him to exceed the story of Orion. Wonderful first start by a promising young writer. Good fun for kids who love fantasy, historical fiction, and most importantly, the mash up of the two genres.

ORION POE AND THE LOST EXPLORER. Text copyright © 2013 by William Summerhouse. Book copyright © 2013 by Shake-A-Leg Press.

Buy Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer at AmazonB&Nyour local bookstore.

Learn more about Orion Poe and the Lost Explorer HERE.

Book Giveaway! Enter to win HERE.

Meet the author, William Summerhouse, at his website:   http://www.willsummerhouse.com/



orion poe

Filed under: 6 Stars TOP BOOK, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Debut Author, Historical Fiction, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series, Top 10 of 2014 Tagged: 1847, Arctic, children's book reviews, exploer John Franklin, Northwest Passage, Shake-a-Leg Press, William Fourth, William Summerhouse

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25. #564 – Jake & Moon Granny: Space Pirate Panic! by Jaye Seymour & Alma Borrego Martinez


The Adventures of Jake and Moon Granny: Space Pirate Panic!

by Jaye Seymour

illustrated by Alma Borrego Martinez

978-0-98593783-6              10/10/2013

Age 7 to 9      122 pages


“Help! Great Uncle Raymond and his pet fire newt, Flamer, have been kidnapped by te smelliest space pirates in the universe. It’s up to Jake and his granny to rescue them, with a little help along the way from some burping green aliens. But first they’ll need to make it through the spaceship-crunching meteor shower in one piece . . . Will the contents of Moon Granny’s favorite red handbag be enough to defeat Blackbeard and his beastly buccaneers? Or will she and Jake be forced to walk the plank…in space? Hold your noses and burp along with Jake and Moon Granny on their stinky, star-crossing adventure. But whatever you do, don’t press the red button! Or was it the yellow one?!”


“Jake’s grandmother lived a LONG way away.”

The Story

Bloodthirsty Blackbeard the Bad and his Beastly Buccaneers (pirates) kidnapped Jake’s Great Uncle Raymond. Granny stops by to see Jake and then takes him along in her quest to save her brother. Jake pilots Granny’s spaceship for the first time. In a panic, Jake presses the don’t-ever-touch-under-any-circumstances red button, sending them zooming into space. They finally spot Blackbeard’s bullet shaped spaceship and must somehow get Uncle Raymond and his pet fire newt off the ship. Will they call police or find their own way of rescuing Raymond?


Space Pirate Panic contains the meanest, smelliest pirates in space, a granny who is in charge of alien relations, dust control, and cheese tasting on the moon where she lives. Then there is Jake, age unknown, who wishes he had a “normal” grandmother; one that showed up to school functions, knitted him awful sweaters, hands out pocket money, and he could visit every weekend. Until his granny shows up . . . then he realizes he likes his granny just the way she is. I like that beginning. Jake wants a normal life in comparison to other kids, until he realizes—with granny’s visit—that he has the best grandmother.


The action—and humor—are non-stop once Jake sets off in granny’s spaceship. Jake does get one of his wishes when Swish, the family cat, takes off with Jake’s green space gloves. Granny knits Jake new gloves on the way to Zabalon. Jake pushes a button Granny has just told him not to push, the trip to the Zabalon King goes smoothly, they spot Blackbeard’s ship and . . . well, there is no climatic moment. While there is a struggle, it is rather tame and ends too conveniently. The best part of the ending is the twist, but that is easy to figure out early in Uncle Raymond’s rescue.

I liked Space Pirate Panic but hope in the next book things do not resolve so easily—and quickly—for Jake and Granny. I’d like to know Jake’s age. Maybe things occurring so smoothly was appropriate for his age group. In any case, Space Pirate Panic is loaded with action, the adventure is interesting, the enemy is humorous, and Uncle Raymond can cause trouble, making me think Blackbeard kidnaped Uncle Raymond because of more than a desire for one million moon dollars. It is odd to think an old woman flying a not-top-of-the-line spaceship would have one million moon dollars for a ransom. Then again, the kidnappers are space pirates and dirty ones at that. I can’t wait to read the next book in this unusual space adventure. Kids age 7 to 9 will enjoy Jake & Moon Granny: Space Pirate Panic! This is also a great book for Hi-Low readers.


JAKE & MOON GRANNY: SPACE PIRATE PANIC! Text copyright © 2013 by Jaye Seymour. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Alma Borrego Martinez. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Jaye Seymour.

Buy Jake & Moon Granny: Space Pirate Panic at AmazonBook Depositoryask for at your local bookstore.


Learn more about Jake & Moon Granny: Space Pirate Panic HERE.

Meet the author, Jennifer Moore, aka Jaye Seymour, at her website:   http://jennifermoore.wordpress.com/

Meet the illustrator, Alma Borrego Martinez, at her website:




jake and moon granny 1

Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Series Tagged: aliens, Alma Borrego Martinez, Chapter book, children's book reviews, Jaye Seymour, Jennifer Moore, knowonder, Moon Granny, spaceships, Zapalon

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