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Results 1 - 25 of 83
1. #533 – The New Old Truck by Jennifer Somervell & Margery Fern


The New Old Truck

by Jennifer Somervell & Margery Fern, illustrator

Tales from the Farm Publications          2014


Abe 4 to 8         38 pages


“Old truck backfires, graunches gears, won’t start and often has to be towed. Retired, rejected and shut up in the shed, he feels old and useless. Is this the end for Old Truck? Then brother John comes home . . . “


“Old Truck loved to work. He was happy carting soil. He was excited carting hay. He loved carting children.”

The Story

Old Truck has worked the family farm for many years. Now, he is getting too old to work like it used to, often needing a tow from Blue Truck. Blue Truck was tired of rescuing Old Truck and Dad said it was time to retire Old Truck and get a new one. Despite much opposition from his children, Dad went out looking for a new truck. He came home with nothing new, having gien in to his children. Blue Truck would have to handle the load. Old Truck was retired to the shed, where it sat. One child had been missing. One John came home he asked about Old Truck. Would he be able to help the old, tired, out-of-date truck?

kids riding


Based in a true story, The New Old Truck retells the story of a family’s beloved old-fashioned truck, about to be retired. Old Truck had been a useful truck, but needed replaced with a modern truck. All the kids objected. They loved to ride in Old Truck; one of the first trucks ever built. It had a hand crank, which is not always included in the illustrations. In general, the illustrations are smart, extremely detailed, and are nicely colored. The one-dimensional characters remind me of the thin magnetic “paper dolls” of old that stuck to a special board. Beyond this, the illustrations will entertain young children as the Old Truck goes from a tired, worn-out machine to a crisp sharp machine ready to beat any truck of any age.

Sentences are short and simply structured, making it easy for children to read. There is a lot of dialogue, mostly of the children protesting, which can be fun to read aloud. There is a little confusion with Old Truck’s savior. John is there, protesting with the others, when Old Truck is retired to the shed. An unspecified amount of time passes, Old Truck is a mess and,

“Then one day John came home.”

This sentence implies John had not been around; had not been home. Yet he was. John was around when all the kids, including himself, protested the retirement of Old Truck and the purchasing a new truck. I think this might confuse the children who notice John had been around. How can, “one day John came home?” When did he leave? Where did he go? Why didn’t he rescue the Old Truck earlier? Picky? Maybe, but continuity is important in a story, including knowing where your characters are at all times. If John was there when Old Truck was retired, and he was, then he should know where Old Truck is when he returns.

kidds told of new truck

Young boys will love the story of Old Truck. Old Truck likes carrying around kids, has a nice smile, and often farts, causing black smoke to trail behind it. What little boy wouldn’t love that? Blue Truck is actually rather boring in comparison, though much nicer looking truck. When restored, Old Truck is so beautiful everyone around wants a ride. This shows how much we like our histories and want them to live on. This simple truck spoke of a simpler time; many would like a return to that time.

Parents will appreciate the short history, after the story, including original pictures. Manufactured in Michigan, the 1921 Model 10 Republic truck journeyed to New Zealand, where the author and illustrator’s grandfather bought it in 1938. The truck worked on the family dairy farm until it was retired. The real John restored the truck several times, finally showing the 91-year-old truck at a vintage rally in 2012. There is beautiful photograph of the family farm, showing the snowy Ruahines Mountain Range (New Zealand), in the background. Also included is glossary of words special to Old Truck, such as chassis, crank handle, and graunch (the loud, grating noise of gears not smoothly moving).

old rretired to shed


THE NEW OLD TRUCK. Text copyright © 2013 by Jennifer Somervell. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Margery Fern. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tales from the farm Publications, Oxford, NZ.

Learn more about The New Old Truck HERE.

.Buy at author / illustrator website.

Meet the author, Jennifer Somervell and illustrator, Margery Fern at her website: Tales from the Farm Productions:   http://www.talesfromthefarm.co.nz/


Also by Jennifer Somervell & Margery Fern

The Day Dad Blew up the Cowshed



new old truck

Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Library Donated Books Tagged: 1921 Model 10 Republic, farm life, Jennifer Smervell, Margery Fern, old trucks, relationships, Tales from the farm Publications

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2. #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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3. #511 – Because Dragons Love Milk by Marie Chow & Miki Tharp

dragons love milk.

Because Dragons Love Milk

by Marie Chow

Miki Tharp, illustrator


Age 3 to 7     28 pages



“They were halfway through dinner when Tycho announced, “I don’t want to go to bed tonight!”

The Story

Tycho does not want to go to sleep because there are dragons under his bed. Dad lets his son in on a secret. Dragons love milk. He explains that milk soothes a dragon’s fiery throats. If a dragon’ throat is soothed it becomes a happy dragon. Tycho is happy about the dragon but wants to know about the alligator. Dad had an alligator under his bed and it liked old shoes. Because alligator do not floss, their gums always hurt. Chewing on an old shoe helps sooth an alligator’s gums.


Because Dragons Love Milk will entertain any young boy who has ever had a dragon, an alligator, or a T-rex under his bed. It is refreshing to read a story about a young boy and his dad. At least two of a boy’s favorite animals are under Tycho’s bed (dragon and T-rex). The way dad breaks down his son’s fears is imaginative and adorable. The three terrifying animals become less threatening when they are fond of milk, stories, and old, stinky shoes.

The illustrations need detail to define one object from another. I see blocks of color, some of which fade or blend into the next. A color picture book needs to have lots of color, and details help. Give the child something to look at. If he cannot yet read, the only way to hold his visual attention is through details. A few toys, pictures on the walls, a window, any of this would have improved the boy’s room. Monsters get restless when there is nothing to play with in a room. The other problem is the lack of a credit page/copyright page. Every book must have certain pages and this is one of them.


Spreads are lighter in finished paperback book.

Kids will love the story. They will enjoy the odd things each “monster” needs and the reason they need them. Suspending belief is easy thanks to the author’s pen. She writes sentences that flow into one another, making them easy to read, and easy for a young child to understand. This is a nice debut story. I wish it were longer just so I can read more of the author’s imagination. Because Love Milk would be the perfect story to read right before a kindergarten classroom nap. A good choice for boys and dads.


Learn more about Because Dragons Love Milk HERE!

Buy your own copy of Because Dragons Love Milk at Amazonyour local bookstore.


Author Marie Chow’s website.   http://mariechow.com/

Illustrator Miki Tharp’s website.  http://mikitharp.com/


BECAUSE DRAGONS LOVE MILK. Text copyright © 213 by Marie Chow. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Miki Tharp. Reproduced by permission of the author, Mare Chow.



dragons love mik

Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Debut Author, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: alligators, children's book reviews, dragons, Marie Chow, Miki Tharp, picture book, T-Rex

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4. #513 – Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! by Aaron Reynolds & Jeremy Tankard


Here Comes Destructosaurus!

by Aaron Reynolds & Jeremy Tankard

Chronicle Books    4/01/2014


Age 4 to 8     32 pages

“Watch the unstoppable force of a temper tantrum! Tremble at the enormous mess and disrespectful roaring! Despair as no amount of scolding can stem the heedless fury! Someone is heading for a time-out, Mister!”


“Watch what you’re doing, Destructosaurus! Do you have to barrel into every city like a bull in a china shop?”

The Story

Destructosaurus walks out of the water. He is knocking things about; building after building falls over. A loud voice yells at him,


Destructosaurus stomps through the lake. Fish fly about the city and lake water drenches the people now walking in his path. Oh, no! Flames shoot out of Destructosaurus’s mouth and burns down the harbor. Now Destructosaurus is back stomping the city streets and pushing down buildings.

“WIPE YOUR FEET, DESTRUCTOSAURUS! We just cleaned this street. Now look at the mess you’ve made!”

Destructosaurus tosses buildings out of his way. They fall apart as if made of Lego’s not bricks and mortar. What is Destructosaurus looking for? In anger, Destructosaurus stomps down the city streets swatting at the helicopters, roaring with each swipe.


Destructosaurus picks up a train station and immediately the voice tells him to put it back down. Wait, what is that in his other hand? Is that what Destructosaurus has been looking for? After a quick hug, Destructosaurus takes his prize back into the sea, temper tantrum over.



Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! tells the tale of a little boy’s temper tantrum and his mother’s response to all that goes with it. He is tossing things about and roaring all the while his mother tosses out typical parental admonitions: Watch what you’re doing; wipe your feet; watch your manners; get control of yourself. Destructosaurus, um, the little boy does not listen. He continues his raging, tossing buildings, no, no, toys, about the city, I mean house.

With toy in hand, Destructosaurus gives mom a big hug. But, instead of Destructosaurus saying he is sorry, mom says,

“You could have used your words. But, still. Sorry I yelled.”

Mom says she is glad he found his toy, that she feels terrible for thinking him terrible. Maybe Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! is meant for parents. Whether Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! was written to enlighten toddlers or mothers, or simply for fun, it is hilarious. The illustrations show an oversized dinosaur destroying New York City. In a comic book style, the images are fun, brightly colored, and hilarious.

What an imaginative way of showing kids what they look like when they have a temper tantrum. I think kids will enjoy seeing themselves as dinosaurs, and what parent has not called their child a “little monster?” Both toddlers and mothers can laugh at the inevitable behavior all kids and parents go through. In the end, there is a hug and both dinosaur and mother calm down. Back to his happy self, Destructosaurus/toddler runs off to play. But wait, mom wants him to come back and clean up the mess he made. The ending has come full circle.

Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! will entertain those who read it. Parents might start calling their child call “Destructosaurus” when the child has a temper tantrum; a word that could help the child rein in his or her behavior. Parents might lighten-up on themselves about the sometimes-anger they feel toward their child. And, most importantly, everyone will enjoy a brightly illustrated dinosaur story. Take note: at one point Destructosaurus sucks his thumb and it is absolutely adorable.

Activity Kit for Kids


Learn more about Here Comes Destructo-Saurus! HERE.

Get your copy at AmazonB&NChronicle Booksyour local bookstore.

Meet the author, Aaron Reynolds:  http://www.aaron-reynolds.com/

Meet the illustrator, Jeremy Tankard:  http://www.jeremytankard.com/

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


HERE COMES DESTRUCTO-SAURUS! Text copyright C) 2014 by Aaron Reynolds. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Jeremy Tankard. Reproduced by permission of the publisher Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.





Read a review of Carnivores HERE!


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Aaronn Reynolds, children's behavior, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, dinosaurs, Jeremy Tankard, relationships, temper tantrums

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5. #515 – Nate Rocks the City by Karen Pokras Toz

Today is a rather long post. Eleven-year-old Nate Rockledge, his older sister Abby, and his once best friend Lisa Crane are here for a short interview followed by a review of the new–and the final–Nate Rocks book: Nate Rocks the City.        Let’s get started.

banner fr

Today Kid Lit Reviews welcomes Nathan Rockledge (aka Nate Rocks), his older sister, Abby, and his know-it-all classmate, Lisa Crane. They are all characters in the Nate Rocks series, the newest being Nate Rocks the CitySince this is the last book, I thought it would be fun if you each talked about your favorite moment from the series. Who wants to go first?

Lisa Crane :  Oh!! Me! Me!

Yes of course, Lisa, go ahead.

Lisa : Well … In Nate Rocks the Boat, there was this scene where Nathan was leaving for summer camp and his parents were giving him a going away party…

Nathan: Oh no! Really? Do we have to bring that up here?

Lisa: Hey! She said I could talk about my favorite moment from any of the books, right?

Nathan, please, Lisa, cont–

Lisa: So anyway, we were playing horseshoes – Nathan and me – and of course Nathan was missing them all, while I was getting them all. So I kindly offered to show Nathan how it’s done, only he got a little too close to me, and BAM the next thing you know, he’s on the ground crying like a big old baby. He says it’s because I hit him, but I think it’s because I beat him at horseshoes.

Nathan: You gave me a black eye!!

 Abby: It was awesome.

 Nathan: Can we move on?

Sure, Nathan. How abou–

 Abby: Ooh – I have one!

 You characters sure are, um, ready. Abby?

 Abby: So in Nate Rocks the World, Nathan was trying to get back at me for – well that really doesn’t matter – anyway, he put food coloring in my shampoo bottle, but Dad wound up using it instead of me, and he wound up with PURPLE hair! HAHAHAHA! It was so funny, and Nathan got in so much trouble.

 Nathan: You got in trouble, too.

 Abby: Not as much as you though – it was classic.

 Nathan: So far, this interview isn’t quite as much fun as I thought it was going to be.

 I’m sorry, Nathan. You’re the star, so what is your favorite moment?

 Nathan: Hmmm, that’s such a hard question because I had so many great moments in every book! I really did love going to New York City in this last book though. I got to save the city from aliens, I jousted with knights in the museum, and the last scene – well let’s just say if you’ve read Nate Rocks the World, I had a chance to go full circle. I don’t really want to give anymore away than that. Overall though, the entire series was a blast. I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did – even the parts with Abby and Lisa.

 Lisa: “Hey!”

Abby: “Not funny, Nate.”

Nathan: Thanks for reading and thanks for having us on your blog today!


rocks city.

Nate Rocks the City

by Karen Pokras Toz

Grand Daisy Press    2/14/2014

978-0-9848608-9- 0

Age 7 to 12     142 pages


Hey New York! Are you ready for Nate Rocks? Fifth grader Nathan Rockledge has been counting down the days—and meals—until his class trip to New York City. Now that the big event is finally here, he can barely stand the excitement. After all, isn’t this what being a fifth grader is all about? Oh sure, his Mom is one of the chaperones, his annoying sister Abby is tagging along, and that know-it-all classmate, Lisa, will be there as well. However, none of that matters. Not when he’ll be with his best friends, Tommy and Sam.

While seeing the sights, his teacher wants his class to take notes, but Nathan has other ideas. With paper and pencil in hand, Nathan prefers to doodle, transforming himself into Nate Rocks, boy hero. Amid ninja pigeons to fend off, aliens to attack, and the baseball game of the century to save, will Nate Rocks be able to save the day one more time?


“The piercing sound of the house alarm rips through the neighborhood as our car pulls into the driveway. ‘Nate! Come quick!’ Mrs. Jensen screams over the sound of the siren.”

The Story

Nate’s fifth grade class heads to New York City for their class trip. The chaperones include Nate’s mom and her best friend, Mrs. Crane, mother of the most annoying girl in the entire world—Lisa. Thanks to a Philadelphia Philly baseball player, the kids are getting two extra days and tickets the Phillies versus Yankees baseball game at the end of their trip. Nate counts his days by meals, starting with eleven meals. Nate savors every New York meal, even in the hotel cafeteria.

The group goes to Central Park, The City Zoo, the Statue of Liberty, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art before the final trip to Yankee Stadium. The last two days of the trip, Nate’s dad and older sister join the group. Mrs. Cogin, Nate’s teacher, gives each middle grader a journal to write notes about their trip as reference for an essay they will write later. Not much for words, Nate tends to draw his notes. Several times during the trip, Nate envisions himself as Nate Rocks, a hero to those around him. As Nate begins drawing the area around him changes. People are gone or settings change. Always, someone grabs him and an exchange like this occurs,

“Nate! Thank goodness we found you!”

“Me? Why me?”

“Why because you’re Nate Rocks, of course!”

Nate does whatever needs done, such as stop robotic birds from destroying New York City. The urgent task that only Nate Rocks can accomplished is competed and then this same adoring thanks occurs,

“You did it, Nate! You saved me/us!”

Finally, someone sharply brings Nate back to reality, reminding him that he is holding up the group or just annoying his mother. The last day of Nate’s trip to New York City culminates with a baseball game, the Philadelphia Phillies against the New York Yankees. Nate Rockledge goes out in Nate Rocks fashion one last time.


Nate Rocks the City ends the Nate Rocks series. At age ten, Nate rocked the world and the boat and at age eleven, he rocked the school and now the city. In each one Nate envisions himself a hero, his current surroundings melting into a different scene and situations only an imaginative eleven-year-old boy can outwit. Nate’s biggest problem is fifth grader Lisa Crane. Lisa and Nate have spent a lot of time together as they grew up, thanks to their mothers being best friends. Nate sees Lisa as annoying and he is correct.

Ms. Toz writes like a pro. Punctuation errors, capitalization, spelling, and typos are all missing from Nate Rocks the City. One look at the credit page explains why the text is clean. Ms. Toz hired an editor from a company called There for You. Nate’s last story flows well from one scene to the next. His creativeness shines and makes his drawings come alive in his mind, on his pad, and for the reader. Ms. Toz thoroughly researched New York City and its sites before writing Nate Rocks the City. From the exhibits at The Metropolitan Museum of Art to the shops in Times Square, she has the details.

It is odd that both dad and Abby, Nick’s fifteen-year-old sister, would join the group midway through the fifth grade trip, like it were actually a family vacation. I suppose it was a way of getting all the usual characters into the story and for that, it is hard to place blame. Dad working as another chaperone at least fit nicely into the story, when he wasn’t getting the boys lost in the city, but Abby really made no sense.

All through the story—and in every Nate Rocks series—Nate envisions himself the hero of one situation or another. It is easy to know when Nick goes off on one of his tangents! You will find an exclamation point at the end of nearly every sentence! Nick sees these adventures as something exciting! At Yankee Stadium, Nate finally becomes that hero, exclamations not needed. I like the idea of Nate behind what happened, but the scene did not stand up. I would love to explain why, but it is the ending and I have no right to ruin it for anyone.

Nate Rocks the City is an enjoyable story with terrific imagination, too perfect annoying mom behavior, and a giant sense of fun kids will enjoy. The story is a fast read. Not wanting to leave the story helps this along. Kids will love Nate Rocks the City, whether as a fan of the series or a first time reader. Nate knows how to put on a show. Like the others, Nate Rocks the City can stand on its own, but read in order is more fun as Nate gets better with each book. The series is perfect for boys. Even young reluctant readers will find the Nate Rocks series worth keeping. I am sorry to see Nick leave us, but he does so in fine Nate fashion. Nate does indeed Rock the City!

Check out the Nate Rocks Series HERE.

Buy Nate Rocks the City at AmazonB&Nauthor websiteyour neighborhood bookstore.


Meet the author, Karen Pokras Toz at her website:  www.karentoz.com

Find other great books at Grand Daisy Press website: http://www.granddaisypress.com/ 

You can also find Karen Pokras Toz here:

Blog: http://kptoz.blogspot.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/karenptoz

Twitter: www.twitter.com/karentoz

Amazon: http://bit.ly/amznNRTC

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/bnNRTCity

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5009570.Karen_Pokras_Toz


NATE ROCKS THE CITY. Test copyright © 2014 by Karen Pokras Toz.



#1 Nate Rocks the World

#1 Nate Rocks the World

#2 Nate Rocks the Boat

#2 Nate Rocks the Boat

#3 Nate Rocks the School

#3 Nate Rocks the School



on sale! 99¢ through March 21, 2014


Millicent Marie Is Not My Name

Millicent Marie Is Not My Name

Pie and Other Brilliant Ideas

Pie and Other Brilliant Ideas







nate rocks city


Filed under: 4stars, Books for Boys, Children's Books, Digital Book, Series Tagged: chapter books, children's book reviews, fifth grade school trip, Grand Daisy Press, Karen Pokras Toz, Lady Liberty, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, reluctant readers, Times Square

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6. #517 & 518 – The Sugary Sherburts by Heather Ellis, age 10 AND The Thing about Things by Cheryl Chen, age 17

CaptureThe Sugary Sherburts

by Heather Ellis, age 10

illustrated by James Ellis


Age 5 to 8   28 pages


“Herbert Sugary-Sherburt has just finished his magnificent chocolate rock masterpiece. When he gets home from work, there is a big disaster at the chocolate factory. How did it start raining hundreds and thousands in Thornton? And how on earth did the Sugary-Sherburts get involved? Kit and Kat are on the case. Will they be able to save the families and their homes in time?”


“A long time ago in a very frosty village called Thornton, there lived a family called the Sugary-Sherburts.”

The Story

The Sherburt family lived in a small village supported by one industry, chocolate. Herbert Sherburt worked at the chocolate factory in the village. One day, after constructing a gigantic ball of chocolate, Hebert strolled home. Later that evening, a commotion started outdoors and ended with the huge chocolate ball Herbert had made at work ramming through the front of his house. With half of the house was gone, Mom Charlotte needed to think of a solution because the kids (Kit, 6 and Kat, 7), could not get to sleep until the house was fixed. She sent her children out to collect as much candy as they could carry, which Charlotte used the candy to rebuild their home. Everything was fantastic . . . until cold Thornton became unexpectedly warm.

Review  [continue reading]


thing about things coverThe Thing About Things

by Cheryl Chen, age 17


Age 7 to 9   30 pages


“There is nothing worse than being ordinary. At least, according to seven-year-old Joey Jones. When Joey gets picked not first, not last, but right in the middle for playing dodgeball at school, he feels unspecial and unwanted. But through an encounter with a certain monster who has been hiding in his bedroom all along, Joey learns that everyone, including Thing, is special in their own way.”


“The kids of Mrs. Larson’s second grade class were splitting up into dodgeball teams that day on the playground.”

The Story

Seven-year-old Joey finds himself picked just before Sheldon—“Smell-don” chosen last—for a game of dodgeball at school. Joey wanted to be first choice and that thought had him tossing and turning in his hammock that night. Joey loved his new hammock. He could see everywhere, even under. Then came the noises.

“Thump. Thump. Thump.”

As Joey watches, the moonlight turned into The Thing. Thing is not a scary monster despite his seven eyes and extra-large fangs, but Joey doesn’t yet know this. He runs for the door tripping on a toy instead. Thing tells Joey he had a bloody knee and then scoops him up. Joey bites down hard on Thing’s arm upsetting the monster, who was afraid Joey wanted to eat him. Joey tells Thing to go home tp his family. Thing tells Joey Things do not have families.

“As a Thing, you are just like every other Thing.”

Thing sadly says he is nothing special but Joey protests saying Thing was the only Thing living in his bedroom.

Review [continue reading]

Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Picture Book Tagged: Cheryl Chen, chocolate factories, Heather Ellis, James Ellis, monsters

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7. review#397 – The Wizard of Oz by Beth Bracken

.. The Wizard of Oz by Beth Bracken Capstone Young Readers 4 Stars .. Back Cover:  Film stills and original dialogue from the beloved movie The Wizard of Oz tell the tale of a young girl named Dorothy, who flew over the rainbow with her dog, Toto, befriends a Tin Man, a Scarecrow, and a …

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8. review#398 – The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond

.. The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond Oliver Jeffers, illustrator Candlewick Press 4 Stars Inside Jacket:  Since all the jobs on the quayside disappeared, Stan’s Uncle Ernie has developed an extraordinary fascination with canning fish.  Overnight, life at 69 Fish Quay Lane has turned barmy.  But when Uncle Ernie’s madcap obsession takes …

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9. review#399 – The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, Book 1: A Bad Idea By Erik Weibel

. . The Adventures of Tomato and Pea, Book 1: A Bad Idea By Erik Weibel CreateSpace 4 Stars .. Back Cover:  For years the evil villain Wintergreen has tried to destroy super crime-stopper, Tomato, and his sidekick, Pea, and take over planet Oarg.  In a plan gone wrong, Wintergreen traps himself along with his …

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10. reviews#402-403 – Superman Fights for Truth! & Batman is Brave! by Donald Lemke & Ethen Beavers

.. Superman Fights for Truth! (Dc Comics) by Donald Lemke &  Ethen Beavers Picture Window Books 4 Stars .. About the Story:   Someone has stolen from the grocer and it is up to Superman to catch the thief and returns the goods. Opening:  Superman hears a cry for help.  “Titano took my bananas!” yells a …

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11. review#404 – Is It Big or Is It Little by Claudia Rueda

. Is It Big or Is It Little? by Claudia Rueda Eerdmans Books for Young Readers 4 Stars . Back Cover:  To a mouse, nearly everything looks big—but to the cat that chases him, things look a bit different. Opening:  Is it BIG? Or is it little? Is it DEEP? Or is it shallow? About …

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12. review#409 – The Middle Sheep By Frances Watt

. The Middle Sheep (Ernie and Maud) By Frances Watt Judy Watson, illustrator Eerdmans Books for Young Readers 4 Star . Back Cover:  The Adventures of Extraordinary Ernie and Marvelous Maud continue . . . but what—or who—is making the usually cheerful and dependable Maud so grumpy? And why are she and Ernie arguing all …

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13. #506 – Windsor the Bullied Wooly Mammoth by Keith Lohnes & Linda Manne

woolly mammoth.

Windsor The Bullied Wooly Mammoth

by Keith Lohnes

Linda Manne, illustrator

978-0-98949110-5     8/13/2013

Age   6 to 9     72 pages

Amazon Author Description (unedited)

“Walking home from school alone, Windsor the Wooly Mammoth was startled to hear the shouting. Looking up, peering at him from a stone perch, was a mean Tyrannosaurus Rex named Trevor. At that moment, Windsor discovered the shouting was directed at him. The cruel words poked like tiny pins all over Windsor’s body. Why would someone say cruel things to me? I haven’t done anything to him! Windsor did his best to scurry away as fast as possible while all of his friends at school looked on in astonishment. Feeling trapped, alone and isolated, Windsor was confused at Trevor’s behavior. The story takes a turn when Windsor’s best friend Marvin steps into (sic) help. Marvin was concerned that Windsor did not know how to deal with Trevor’s bullying. Being a quiet, shy Mammoth, Windsor didn’t want anyone to know what was happening. Marvin knew better. Identifying the bully and immediately dealing with the events is the only way to make it stop. So Marvin enlisted the help of his friends and went to speak to Trevor about his bullying. In the beginning Trevor was very defensive. Over time however, Trevor began to understand that being a bully made him look bad and treating others poorly was not good for himself or anyone else. As the story and the characters evolve, bullying becomes evident. The resolution is for everyone to come together to prevent the behavior. In the end, Trevor discovers Windsor is a pretty nice Mammoth and they become great friends.”


“All the other Dinosaurs liked t play in the field after school, except for Winsor the Wooly Mammoth.”

The Story

Windsor loved to read so much that instead of playing with friends after school he reads. On the way home from school, Trevor yelled mean things at Windsor, called him names and threatened to knock his glasses off his face. Windsor was “a geek” because “all you do is read.” Windsor ignored Trevor, but still felt frightened. Trevor’s words and his taunting made Windsor feel bad about himself. The other young dinosaurs said nothing to Trevor. Some even laughed along with him. No one did a thing to help Windsor.


Everyone knew Windsor liked to read Jurassic Book, a dinosaur social network. Trevor went on the website and wrote mean things about Windsor and Betty Brontosaurus. None of what Trevor wrote was true. Soon dinosaurs who did not know Windsor wrote bad things about him. When he found out, Windsor knew the others would believe the lies. Windsor became so despondent that he no longer wanted to live.

Marvin, Windsor’s best friend, told him to tell someone about Trevor’s bullying. Windsor did not want anyone to know. Marvin went to Betty Brontosaurus for help. Betty talked to all the other kids and explained that what Trevor did to Windsor was mean, hurtful, and wrong. Then Betty talked to Trevor. Trevor responded to Betty by laughing and refused to stop bullying Windsor. Marvin would not give up. He decided to gather all the kids and confront Trevor as a group. Would it help? 


Windsor the Bullied Wooly Mammoth is a cautionary tale about bullying. The bullied kid is different from the other kids. He likes to be alone and read. One dinosaur, Trevor, decides to bully Windsor. Marvin, who is a mouse and Windsor’s best friend, assumes Trevor is lonely because his meanness meant none of the other dinosaurs would play with him. Bullies often are not lonely people or dinosaurs. Kids gathered around Trevor and he considered a few of them friends. I think this missed the mark—in this story—but the author is true when saying bullies are often lonely kids. Most often, though, it is the bullied kid who becomes lonely and alone.


The text is long. Little kids will have a tough time keeping their attention on the story. The story needs tightened to reduce redundancy, correct punctuation errors, and help the story move along smoothly. Plus, a credit page needs added to the front. Before—on occasion after— a character speaks, the narrator explains what the character will say and why. This happens so often it becomes annoying. It is not necessary to alert the reader to what the character will say or why and then have the character repeat, sometimes verbatim, what the narrator just explained. I felt like the narrator did not trust that readers would catch on to the story.

Betty also explained that she wanted to get to know Trevor a little better.

Betty smiling at Trevor said, “And one other thing Trevor, I would like to get to know you a little better. Most of us don’t know you very well either.”

There were many books about bullies last year and more on the way this year. Windsor the Bullied Wooly Mammoth may be the most ambitious. Usually, we learn about the bullied, how they are bullied, and what to do about that bully. Windsor the Bullied Wooly Mammoth also lets us know how those witnessing the bullying, but not part of it, feel and how they can help, plus why the bully acts as he or she does. Every angle is covered.


The large sized book has great illustrations on one-half of the spread. The dinosaur and the mouse are cute with their big bright eyes. The dinosaurs have cherry-bright tongues and have different colored complexions. Windsor is the only one to wear eyeglasses and look geeky. He really is out of place in this dinoland. Kids will enjoy the illustrations. The art draws your eye to that side of the spread every time. The back of the cover has a laughing Trevor with the words, “Bullies aren’t born . . . bullies are made!”


Learn more about Windsor the Bullied Wooly Mammoth HERE.

Buy Windsor the Bullied Wooly Mammoth at Amazon—B&N—Createspaceask your local bookstore


Links for the author, Keith Lohnes:         blog     facebook      createspace

Links for illustrator, Linda Manne:     flickr     freelanced

WINDSOR THE BULLIED WOOLY MAMMOTH. Text copyright © 2013 by Keith Lohnes. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Linda Manne. Reproduce by permission of the author, Keith Lohnes.


windsor wooly mammoth


Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Picture Book Tagged: abuse, being bullied, bullies, children's book reviews, dinosaurs, Keith Lohnes, Linda Manne, picture book, wooly mammoths

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14. #509 – How to Make and Keep Friends: Tips for Kids to Overcome 50 Common Social Challenges by Nadine Briggs & Donna Shea

make friends50 common.

How to Make & Keep Friends: Tips for Kids to Overcome 50 Common Social Challenges

by Nadine Briggs & Donna Shea

Released 2011


Age 8+  142 pages


Back Cover

“Donna Shea, Director of The Peter Pan Center an Nadine Briggs, Director of Simply Social Kid are passionate about helping kids make and keep friends. They have spent years working with children who experience mild to moderate social difficulties and understand that social nuances can and should be taught. Parents and kids often need quick social skills advice that is easily understood and even easier to do in the moment. How to Make & Keep Friends provides 500 tips for children to learn how to manage 50 common social challenges in easy to digest top-ten lists. For parents and professionals check out How to Make & Keep Friends: Coaching Children for Social Success”

Introduction for Parents & Educators

“Welcome to How to Make and Keep Friends! Many kids struggle with social nuances which can make it difficult for them to form lasting friendships. Our tips have been successful for children with mild to moderate social challenges.”

Introduction for Kids

“Welcome to our book, How to Make and Keep Friends! We wrote this book for kids because we understand that making and keeping friends can be really hard to do sometimes. We help lots of kids learn how to get better at making and keeping friends, and with this book, we can help you too.”

About the Book

There are four sections in the book, each specializing in one particular area. The first contains tips for normal social situations and the common problems that can occur, including making new friends and figuring out body language and other non-verbal communications. The second section contains tips to help kids enjoy social success, such as knowing the difference between sharing something as opposed to bragging and handling embarrassment, anger, and impulsiveness. Section 3 covers the tough subject of being a good friend. This includes playing fair, playdates, proper etiquette, and even good table manners. The final section has suggestions for handling social challenges such as bullying, jealousy, and knowing when and how to get adult help.


Interestingly, the subjects in each section have suggestions and tips in lists of ten, rather than explaining problems or solutions. The idea is to allow kids and parents to open the book, find the problem, look through the ten suggestions, then go out and immediately use the chosen tip. Number one is not necessarily better than number ten, nor is ten better than one. What works best depends upon your child, and the situation. Most of the tips are great, though some—mostly verbal suggestions are not kid-friendly.

For example, in “How to Greet Others and Enter a Room or Place:” one friend greets another—your child—by saying, “Hello, how are you today?” Not many kids speak like an adult. They will say, “Hi,” or maybe “What’s up?” or “You okay?” but not “Hello, how are you today?” Even if they did, any kid who responds, “I’m fine, thanks, and how are you?” will be met with a funny stare and maybe a laugh. Leave out “and how are you” unless it was Aunt Mildred who asked. Parent’s need to make sure their child still sounds like a kid.

I like that How to Make and Keep Friends is for the parent as much as it is for the child. Under the heading Working Things Out, adults are reminded that when they tell their kids to “just work it out,” their child may not know what to do. Without a parent’s help, a child may end up in worse shape than before. For this reason, I think parents need to read this before or, preferably with, their child. Doing so might help the parent understand their child’s difficulties. Parents need to know when to help and when to step back.

The writing style of Ms. Briggs and Ms. Shea is conversational. A few sentences need a good editor’s pen, but overall this is a well-written guide kids and parents will find easy to read. There are no illustrations. I think a few, maybe at the head of each chapter, would have punched up the text and made the book look more like a guide for kids. And, admittedly, I like illustrations in books for kids. They give the eye a nice break, especially when the subject becomes emotional.

I truly like How to Make and Keep Friends. Kids need somewhere to turn and many of the suggestions are excellent.


Handling impulsivity:

“Being impulsive means doing or saying things without stopping to think first.” (tip 1) “When you have strong feelings like excitement or anger, breathe slowly and deeply to calm yourself down, since these are times when you might be impulsive” (tip 10)

Bad Peer Pressure:

“If someone is doing something wrong (like swearing) and wants you to do it too, you have the choice to say no. Remember choice is power.” (tip 3)

Handling Embarrassment:

“The best thing to do is to not make a big deal—if no one says anything, just be quiet and let it go” (tip 2) “Try to remove yourself from the situation. Take a break, especially if you feel like you might cry.” (tip 6)


The book is dedicated to “the “what” to do rather than the “why” it needs to be done.” Hence, the ten tips for each problem. I am not a fan of “do” without knowing “why.” I never found this to work long term, yet How to Make and Keep Friends, with the tools and suggestions they do give kids, is impressive. Included is a reading reference guide for both kids and parents, a glossary of terms, and five ways to draw sides when choosing sides or deciding who plays first. Adults can incorporate most of the tips and suggestions into their own life. Bullying, making new friends, and not knowing what to do in social situations does not stop once someone reaches the age of 18. Until then, How to Make and Keep Friends will give kids a treasure of social tips and suggestions to guide them through the perilous seas of sticky social situations.


Learn more about How to Make and Keep Friends HERE!

Purchase a copy of How to Make and Keep Friends at AmazonB&NBook Websiteask your local bookstore.


Donna Shea is the director of The Peter Pan Center. Learn more about her and her center at: Ms. Shea’s websitelinkedin—facebook—twitter & The Peter Pan Center’s websiteG+facebooktwitter

Nadine Briggs is the director of Simply Social Kids. Learn more about her and her center at: Ms. Brigg’s website—linkedinfacebooktwitter & Simply Social Kidswebsite—blog—facebooktwitter


how to oCHIG.


How To Make And Keep Friends: Coaching Children For Social Success



HOW TO MAKE & KEEP FRIENDS: TIPS FOR KIDS TO OVERCOME 50 COMMON SOCIAL CHALLENGES. Text copyright © 2011 by Nadine Briggs and Donna Shea. Reproduced by permission of the authors, Donna Shea and Nadine Briggs.


how to make friemds 50 common

Filed under: 4stars, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, NonFiction Tagged: children's book reviews, Donna Shea, guide for children, guide for parents, Nadine Briggs, nonfiction kids book, Simply Social Kids, social situations, The Peter Pan Center

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15. Pobble’s Way by Simon Van Booy

4 Stars Pobble’s Way Simon Van Booy Wendy Edelson 32 Pages   Ages: 4 to 8 Inside Jacket: Pobble’s evening walk with Daddy is a magical adventure in which branches wear sleeves of snow and mushrooms become frog umbrellas. When Pobble’s mitten—small and pink and as soft as a bunny’s chin—is lost on the path, woodland animals gather to discuss [...]

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16. Drummer Boy of John John by Mark Greenwood

4 Stars Drummer Boy of John John Mark Greenwood Frané Lessac Lee and Low Books Pages: 32         Ages: 4+ Jacket:  Carnival is coming and the villagers of John John, Trinidad, are getting ready to jump up and celebrate with music dancing, and a     parade. Best of all, the Roti King has promised free rotis—tasty friend [...]

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17. Chasing Watermelons by Kevin White

4 Stars Chasing Watermelons Kevin White Rex White 32 Pages     Ages: 3 to 6 ……………… Press Release: When Duck opens a crate of watermelons for a watermelon feast, they begin to roll. Duck chases after them. One by one, Duck invites Goat, Pig, Chicken, and Cow to join the chase by promising, “If you help, [...]

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I Couldn’t Love You More by Jason Ingram & Matt Hammitt illustrated by Polona Lovsin 4 stars ……….. Back Cover:  I couldn’t love you more is the message of a parent to a child. While it depicts the immense love a parent has or a child, it highlights on an even deeper level the unconditional [...]

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19. Victricia Malicia, Book-Loving Buccaneer by Carrie Clickard

…………………… Victricia Malicia: Book-Loving Buccaneer Carrie Clickard, author Mark Meyers, illustrator 4 Stars ………….. Inside Front Jacket:  Victricia Malicia Barrett may have been born on a pirate ship and raised in all the best pirate ways, but she sure is a wreck on deck. Her knots slip, she falls from the rigging, and rats abandon [...]

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20. I Came from the Water by Vanita Oelschlager

  I Came From the Water Vanita Oelschlager, author Mike Blanc, illustrator 4 Stars ………………………………….. I Came from Water (subtitled), One Haitian Boy’s Incredible Tale of Survival, is a story based on true events, told from the viewpoint of a surviving child. Moses was an infant when floods destroyed his hometown killing many people, including his [...]

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21. review – Enslow Publishing & What is Sign Language?

January 21 to 25, 2013:   ”NO NAME CALLING WEEK” MYTH OF THE WEEK:  ”Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” ЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖЖ Enslow Publishers, Inc. Enslow Publishing was established in 1976 by Ridley M. Enslow. a veteran of several New York publishing houses.  Today, his two sons, Mark and Brian, run it.  Located …

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22. review – Manner Man by Sherrill S. Cannon

. Manner-Man by Sherrill S. Cannon Illustrated by Kalpart Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co. 4 Stars From Website:  This dynamic superhero helps children learn to cope with bullies and teaches them ways to be considerate of others. Manner-Man incorporates messages and characters found within some of Cannon’s earlier books – and shows children how …

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23. Malcolm Finney, Medical Detective Series: The Case of . . . Itch and Rash by Erika Kimble

. Malcolm Finney Medical Detective – The Case of… Itch and Rash by Erika Kimble illustrated by Laurel Winters Bandages & Boo-Boos Press 4 Stars Back Cover:  Malcolm Finney, Medical Detective Series: The Case of Itch and Rash, is an adventurous story that explores the skin disease called eczema.  It is a book that teaches …

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24. reviews – Poopendous! and The Butt Book by Artie Bennett

Poopendous! by Artie Bennett illustrations by Mike Moran Blue Apple Books 4 Stars . Inside Jacket:  .      .   .      .    .        .    . .       .    Ever wanted to ask about it,           but felt a little shy?           Inside these pages …

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25. review – Ducklings in a Row by Renee Heiss

Ducklings in a Row by Renee Heiss illustrated by Matthew B. Holcomb Character Publishing 4 Star . Back Cover:  When Mama Duck asks her ducklings to arrange themselves from One to Ten, the baby ducks learn much more than sequencing skills. In Ducklings in a Row, ten unique duckling personalities combine to gorm a humorous …

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