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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Scholastic, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. 13 Authors to Write Short Stories For a Summer Reading Program

Scholastic SRC15 authors (GalleyCat)Scholastic has enlisted 13 children’s books authors to help with the Summer Reading Challenge program.

The participants include R.L. Stine, Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pierce, Gordon Korman, Michael Northtrop, Varian Johnson, Jude Watson, Blue Balliet, Patrik Henry Bass, Roland Smith, Tui T. Sutherland, Lauren Tarshis, and Wendy Wan-Long Shang. These writers will create original short stories; kids will be able to access these “rewards” by tracking the minutes they spend reading.

According to the press release, “each of the authors has written a unique short story using the same opening sentence which is, ‘I glanced over my shoulder to make sure that no one had followed me into the shadowy library, then took a deep breath and opened the glowing book…'” The organizers behind this venture hope to break the record of 304,749,681 minutes (spent reading) that was set last summer.

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2. Ice Cream Summer (2015)

Ice Cream Summer. Peter Sis. 2015. [May] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Dear Grandpa, Thank you for your letter. So far, it's been a delicious summer. I am very busy. But don't worry, I am not forgetting about school. I read every day. I am conquering big words like tornado and explosion!

Premise/Plot: A young boy assures his grandpa--via letter--that his summer is going well, and that he's still hard at work learning many things (math, history, cartography, to name just a few). Readers see that all relates back to ice cream in one way or another making Ice Cream Summer a fitting title for the book. This young boy LOVES his ice cream.

My thoughts: I like this one very much! Though I can't enjoy ice cream, I am glad that others can. And the hero of Ice Cream Summer certainly ADORES ice cream. I imagine that every day of his summer involves ice cream. The word play was cute and fun, for the most part. For example, "As you can see, Grandpa, I've been working hard all summer (though I always take a break on sundaes)."

Rating: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Klutz Activity Kits | Book Review

Klutz’s book based activity kits are exceptional for providing inspiration and convenience and for allowing children to explore and uncover new interests and talents.

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4. This Little Piggy (2015)

Board Book: This Little Piggy. A Finger & Toes Nursery Rhyme Book. Natalie Marshall. 2015. [May] Scholastic. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence: This little piggy went to the market.

Premise/Plot: A board book adaptation of the traditional nursery rhyme. Though these little piggies won't be eating any roast beef. I don't have a problem with adapting any of the lines. That's part of the fun of playing little piggies.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one! I love the sturdiness of the pages. I think the pages will be easy for little hands to turn. All books--even board books--can be "loved" too much and wear out quickly. But this one seems a little better than some I've read and reviewed. I thought the illustrations were nice.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Red light, Green Light

Board book: Red Light, Green Light. Yumi Heo. 2015. [June] Scholastic. 20 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Let's take a ride. Here's your seat! We'll drive down this: One way street!

Premise/plot: Red Light, Green Light is a concept board book on driving and road signs. It's a lift-the-flap book. Each sign is a flap that can be lifted to reveal what it means.

My thoughts: It's okay. Not wow-worthy perhaps. It's obviously focusing more on the teaching elements, but, it does have a slight story to it. The family is on the way to the playground. Some of the rhymes work okay for me. Some don't. For example, "Slow down, car, the brakes go pop. Traffic light says red means stop."

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Jampires (2015)

Jampires. Sarah McIntyre. Illustrated by David O'Connell. 2015. [June] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "There's no jam!" yelled Sam. "This doughnut's all wrinkly! This doughnut is jamless and dry! Someone got to this doughnut before me and sucked out the jamminess! Why?"

Premise/plot: Sam, the hero, gets mad when his doughnut is missing jam. He decides to set a trap in his room to catch the jam thieves. What he didn't expect was that the thief was actually thieves. Jampires. Creatures that suck out jam with their fangs. The jampires take Sam on an adventure, they take him home to where they live, a place with plenty of jam to be had every day.

My thoughts: I didn't like this one. Of course, you may feel differently. You may love the play on words--jampires instead of vampires. But I thought the book was bizarre and creepy. Besides the weird story, the text itself seems awkward.

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 2 out of 5
Total: 4 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. Side by Side (2015)

Side by Side. Rachel Bright. Illustrated by Debi Gliori. 2015. [April] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Deep in the heart of Wintermouse Wood, down in the grass where the autumn trees stood, lived all kinds of creatures--some big and some small--some spiky, some furry, some short, and some tall.

Premise/plot: Mousling is the smallest mouse in her family. She's a lonely mouse who longs for a friend. While many answer her call and offer friendship, only one creature--a small black vole--is the exact, perfect forever-and-ever friend. These two make quite a pair.

My thoughts: The story is a good one. Sometimes the text is quite lovely. "And now, side by side, they heard the same tune, so they sang to the stars and they danced to the moon." Overall, I liked this one.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. Short Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue


The Raven Cycle #3: Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie StiefvaterScholastic, 2014. Review copy from publisher. Sequel to The Raven Boys (Book 1) and The Dream Thieves (Book 2).

This continues the story of the search in Virginia for a missing Welsh king. The searchers are prep school students Richard Gansey III (the driving force behind the search), his friends Adam Parrish, Ronan Lynch, and Noah Czerny, and local girl Blue Sargent.

By the events of Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I'm not going to lie: it's complicated. There are a mess of characters, plus the search, plus the issues that the characters are dealing with in the present. Gansey is driven by his search; Ronan discovered dangerous family secrets, including his own ability to pull things out of dreams into the real world; Adam is a scholarship student with the drive for more and a serious, well earned chip on his shoulder. Noah has his own issues.

And Blue: Blue is from a family of psychics, without any real power herself, and with a curse upon her: her kiss will kill her true love. And since she's falling hard for Gansey, and since one of her aunts foresaw Gansey's death, it's, well, messy. Like life. Now take life and add in magic and history, myth and legend.

Readers know that I like when teen books have interesting adult characters: well, this has them and then some. The enigmatic Mr. Gray -- I mean, how often is a hired killer so sympathetic and likable? (And yes, I keep picturing him as Norman Reedus). Blue's mother has disappeared, but this allows other adults to move center. And Mr. Gray's boss also enters into the picture. It's not just magic and myth that is a danger.

The only frustration with Blue Lily, Lily Blue is there is still one more book in the series. So while the adventure moves forward, and questions are answered, there's still so much more to find out


Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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9. The Octopuppy (2015)

The Octopuppy. Martin McKenna. 2015. [March] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Edgar wanted a dog. But Edgar didn't get a dog. He got Jarvis. Jarvis couldn't do anything a dog could do. But Edgar couldn't deny that Jarvis was clever.

Premise/Plot: Edgar, the hero, isn't pleased to receive an octopus instead of a puppy. He wants Jarvis to act just like a dog would. Jarvis is smart, and, now and then, Jarvis tries to act like a puppy. But he can't keep it up, Jarvis always goes back to being Jarvis. Edgar doesn't really appreciate that until it's too late. Jarvis does NOT want to stay where he's not wanted. Now that he's gone, Edgar regrets his behavior. Will these two be reunited.

My thoughts: What a strange, strange book. The good news? Well, readers can see for themselves and judge this book by its cover. The strangeness is not at all subtle. Did I like it? Not really. In fact, I really didn't like it at all. I found the scene where Jarvis flushes himself down the toilet to be disturbing!!! Will other readers like this plot twist? Perhaps! Who knows? But this book is not a good match for me.

Text: 2.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 2.5 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. Five Family Favorites with Todd Tarpley, Author of My Grandma’s a Ninja!

My sweet little boys somehow grew into teenagers, so we have to take a trip back in time to talk about the five books that are special to my family ... Read the rest of this post

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11. The Princess and the Pony (2015)

The Princess and the Pony. Kate Beaton. 2015. [June] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: In a kingdom of warriors, the smallest warrior was Princess Pinecone. And she was very excited for her birthday. Most warriors get fantastic birthday presents. Shields, amulets, helmets with horns on them. Things to win battles with. Things that make them feel like champions. Princess Pinecone got a lot of cozy sweaters. Warriors do not need cozy sweaters.

Premise/plot: Princess Pinecone wants a pony for her birthday. The pony she wants is different than the pony she gets. The pony she gets is short and round and--depending on your point of view, either cute and adorable or ugly. She certainly can't imagine riding the pony, especially not into battle. The pony isn't very warrior-ish. But the pony has a way of charming the other warriors and even Princess Pinecone herself.

My thoughts: If pony farting books are your thing, then The Princess and the Pony may be just right for you. (I believe it got a starred review from Kirkus). Unfortunately,  I am not the right reader for the book. I found it odd and not charming enough.

Text: 2.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 2.5 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Audrey's Tree House (2015)


Audrey's Tree House. Jenny Hughes. Illustrated by Jonathan Bentley. 2015. [April] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "Your house is getting too small for me," said Audrey one morning.
"You do look much bigger than you did yesterday," said Dad. "But where will you go?"
"I haven't decided yet," said Audrey.

Premise/plot: Audrey has "outgrown" her house, or, so she thinks at the opening of this delightful picture book by Jenny Hughes. Audrey and her Dad go outside looking for a house--a new house--that is just right for the bigger-than-yesterday Audrey. They decide to build a treehouse. Side by side, they spend the day. But when evening approaches, well, Audrey realizes just where she belongs, where she'll always belong.

My thoughts: Loved, loved, loved it!!! Cute premise, cute illustrations, lovely text. This one just works really well for me!!! My favorite illustration is of Audrey in her Dad's sweater with the cat following along behind her.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. Scholastic Acquires Minority Stake in Make Believe Ideas

Scholastic has acquired a minority stake in Make Believe Ideas (MBI), a UK-based children’s book publisher. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Make Believe is known for its educational books for babies and young children. The two publishers will reveal their first co-branded books for Early Learners ages 0–5 at the Bologna Children’s Book Fair next week. The series is slated for a global English language release in Fall 2015.

“Make Believe Ideas’ focus on early learning and creativity and its engaging product line extends our publishing program and fits seamlessly into our distribution channels at Scholastic,” stated Ellie Berger, EVP, Scholastic, and President, Trade Publishing.

“With a renewed focus on the importance of reading with babies beginning at birth, we are thrilled to expand our offerings in the global English language market with co-branded, gorgeous, colorful books that make reading and learning fun for babies and young children,” continued Berger.

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14. YouTube Sensation Jenn McAllister Inks Deal With Scholastic

JennxpennYouTube sensation Jenn McAllister (also known as JennXPenn) has landed a deal with Scholastic for a book called Really Professional Internet Person.

According to the press release, the 18-year-old internet star’s title will be “a personal and funny guide to creating successful online content and handling the pressures of internet fame.” It will contain pictures, screenshots, social media posts, and biographical stories.

Vice president and publisher Debra Dorfman negotiated the terms of the agreement. A release date has been set for September 2015. Click here to watch McAllister’s video announcement about this project.

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15. Rapunzel: The One With All the Hair

Twice Upon A Time: Rapunzel The One With All The Hair. Wendy Mass. 2006. Scholastic. 205 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I wanted to enjoy this adaptation of Rapunzel by Wendy Mass. I'd read Wendy Mass and really enjoyed her work in the past. So my expectations were high, perhaps TOO high.

Both Rapunzel and the Prince are on the young side--around the age of twelve. So this isn't a fairy tale romance that sweeps you away. (Not that the original story is oh-so-romantic. Far from it, as I see it. The Disney movie is another story almost!) Was I reading it FOR romance? Not really. That's not where I was disappointed.

I'll be honest. I didn't enjoy the writing style or narration. The story is narrated by Rapunzel and the Prince. His name is Prince Benjamin. Both narrators are on the childish or immature side. (For example, Rapunzel is EQUALLY concerned about a pimple as being locked away in a tower by a witch.)

I guess what disappointed me the most was how light it was. It wasn't a substantive story in terms of characterization or action. It was almost impossible to take it seriously. Perhaps that was the point. Perhaps I was in the wrong mood for this one. But the writing wasn't wonderful or witty enough for me to see it as a comedic retelling. And it wasn't dramatic enough or action-packed enough for me to take it seriously.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. Ten Pigs (2015)

Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure. Derek Anderson. 2015. [April] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: One pig. One very happy pig. "This bathtub is perfect for just me and you." But along comes Pig Number Two. Two? Two? This tub is too small for a duck, two pigs, and a bouncy ball!

Premise/Plot: One pig's oh-so-perfect bath with his ducky is interrupted multiple times--this is a COUNTING BOOK AFTER ALL--by pigs who insist on joining him in the tub. Each pig has his/her own bath toy. DRAMA is to be had within the pages of Ten Pigs. What will Pig #1 do to get his tub back to himself. He may resort to trickery!

My thoughts: This one is quite cute. I liked it. I liked the text. I liked the illustrations. It's just a fun read.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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17. Best Selling Kids Series | April 2015

This month's best selling kids series from The Children's Book Review's affiliate store is the wonderfully educational series The Adventures of Riley.

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18. The Life of Trees and the Tree of Life: An Annotated List of Multicultural Non-Fiction Picture Books About Trees

The Life of Trees and the Tree of Life: An MWD Annotated List of Multicultural Non-Fiction Picture Books About Trees

Tree of Life: The Incredible Biodiversity of Life on Earth, written by Rochelle  … <a class=Continue reading ...

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19. Prince of A Frog (2015)

Prince of a Frog. Jackie Urbanovic. 2015. [May] Scholastic.  32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:  Once, in a faraway pond, lived a frog named Hopper who loved to play. He crooned tunes, but the fish thought he was off scale. He kicked like a pro, but the ducks thought he was quackers. Even the herons thought he was too odd to eat. Hopper just didn't fit in.

Premise/Plot: Hopper the frog doesn't fit in at the pond. He decides to leave the pond after listening to a turtle's advice. The turtle had spoken of a certain frog who was really a prince in disguise. She had told of a magical kiss that could transform him into someone "charming, brave, and loved." The frog heads off to find the princess. But his journey to his princess, well, it won't be quick and easy. And the turtle never spoke a word about the dangers of life away from the pond. (This book has a fox!) The frog may not have found his princess, but he found something better--a true friend.

My thoughts: Adorable! I loved the dog, Princess. I loved seeing these two become friends. I especially loved the illustration of them singing together. Overall, this is a sweet book that is so easy to love.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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20. Never Ask A Dinosaur to Dinner (2015)

Never Ask a Dinosaur to Dinner. Gareth Edwards. Illustrated by Guy Parker-Rees. 2015. [April] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Never ask a dinosaur to dinner. Really, never ask a dinosaur to dinner. Because a T. rex is ferocious and his manners are atrocious, and you'll find that if he's able…he will eat the kitchen table. He'll grow fatter while the rest of you grow thinner, so never ask a dinosaur to dinner.

Premise/plot: The narrator shares with readers why they should never ask a dinosaur to dinner, why they should never share a toothbrush with a shark, why they should never let a beaver in the basin, why they should never use a tiger as a towel, why they should never choose a bison for a blanket, and finally why they should never share a bed with an owl. All in rhyme of course. This is a book all about the bedtime routine. It's a silly book, as you can tell.

My thoughts: I liked it well enough, I suppose. I think the rhymes worked for the most part. I can be a bit picky when it comes to judging rhyming books. I can get annoyed quite easily when it doesn't sound right. That being said, I didn't love this one especially. It was nice, but, not an amazing read.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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21. Video Sunday: “You fill me with inertia.”

Hallo, folks!

So today is the last day of National Library Week.  In celebration, enjoy this delightful video from Common Craft for your average non-library literate layman.  If you are a librarian, show this video to those members of your family who heard you had to get a Master’s degree and asked you, “What? So they teach you how to put your hair in a bun and go ‘Shh’ all day?”

More info here.

There is a saying in my family: A music video isn’t viral until soldiers perform a version of it.  Admittedly it’s a relatively new saying.  The same might also be said for librarian parody videos, though.  When they’re doing a song you haven’t heard of, you best be looking that puppy up.  Case in point . . .

The moment he’s reading Beloved sort of stands out.  Otherwise, perfectly fine.  The ending is pitch perfect.  Thanks to Melanie for the link.

One more.  This time with a Taylor Swift-centric vibe.  Author Patricia Hubbell ought to be well pleased:

In other news I was so pleased to see James Kennedy and his 90-Second Newbery shenanigans appear on this recent episode of Kidlit TV.  You should watch it if, for no other reason, the fact that you get to see Ame Dyckman briefly prance.  And prance she does!!

Next up, the Mazza Museum!  I love that place, but the smiling blonde is way way way perky.

Speaking of perky, Scholastic ups the ante with a professional announcer talking up their summer reading challenge.  Not a bad idea.  Offer kids the chance to be in a world record and watch your participation numbers skyrocket.

And for our off-topic video, this week this post alerted me to the existence of this movie scene from the film Bedazzled.  This constitutes my new favorite thing.

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22. Books of Love – For Kids

How will you be celebrating this Saturday February 14th?  Some see it as a chance to demonstrate the most romantic of gestures, showering their special ones with gifts of affection. Others only need to show an act of kindness to prove they care. Either way, whether it’s Valentine’s Day, International Book Giving Day or Library […]

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23. Monkey and Duck Quack Up! (2015)

Monkey and Duck Quack Up! Jennifer Hamburg. Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. 2015. [February 2015] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Monkey spied the bright blue sigh, hanging from a nearby vine. Rhyming contest, enter now! Register with Lou the Cow. Find a friend and rhyme in twos. (Winners win a three-day cruise!) Monkey screeched and turned to Duck. "Buddy, ol' pal, are we in luck! We can do this, we can rhyme! We're young, we're hip, we're in our prime. We'll find the perfect words to use, and then we'll win a three-day cruise!" "I'll say a rhyme, you say one back. Sound good to you?" And Duck said, "Quack."

Monkey and Duck Quack Up is an amusing picture book starring two good friends. Monkey, our hero, loves to rhyme. And he really wants to win the contest. He can picture it all: winning the contest, and enjoying the cruise.
But to win, he needs help from his friend Duck. If only, if only, if only Duck could do more--would do more--than say QUACK, QUACK, QUACK. Can Monkey find a way to win this contest with his friend?!

I liked this one very much. It was very playful. It reminded me--in a good way--of Jan Thomas' Rhyming Dust Bunnies. I'd definitely recommend this one.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. Such A Little Mouse (2015)

Such A Little Mouse. Alice Schertle. Illustrated by Stephanie Yue. 2015. [March 2015] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Way out in the wide world there is a meadow. In the middle of the meadow, under a clump of dandelions, there is a hole. And way down deep in the hole lives a mouse. Such a little mouse, with his smart gray coat with his ears pink as petals, with three twitchety whiskers on each side of his nose.

Such a Little Mouse is a concept book about seasons. It stars a little gray mouse. Readers learn what the little mouse does each day in spring, each day in summer, each day in autumn to prepare for each day in the winter. It is a simple nature-focused book. It is very descriptive, which is a good thing. I liked some of the details and descriptions. It provides a certain perspective of the world. The mouse is aware of his surroundings, and enjoys exploring and working.

I thought the illustrations were very well done. Especially of the mouse. I definitely enjoyed this one.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Step Into The Spotlight (2015)

The Amazing Stardust Friends #1: Step Into the Spotlight! Heather Alexander. Illustrated by Diane Le Feyer. 2015. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Marlo's mom has just joined the circus: joined as a chef. Her and her mom will now be living on a circus train. There are several other children for Marlo to get to know: some are performers themselves, some are children of employees and/or performers. Marlo really wants to become friends with the three Stardust girls: Allie, the acrobat, Bella, the animal trainer, and Carly, the clown. She's been told she can join the Stardust Parade IF she can come up with an amazing act of her own. She has just TWO days until the next performance. She's very determined and quite ambitious. Perhaps she can learn to be an acrobat? or a clown? or work with animals? Or perhaps not. Can Allie, Carly, and Bella help Marlo find her own way of being amazing? And will Marlo become a Stardust girl too?

This is an illustrated chapter book. I liked it. I did. It's a fun book with a playful premise.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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