Monday, October 17, 2016

Little Tree review


In the middle of a little forest, there lives a Little Tree who loves his life and the splendid leaves that keep him cool in the heat of long summer days. Life is perfect just the way it is.  Autumn arrives, and with it the cool winds that ruffle Little Tree's leaves. One by one the other trees drop their leaves, facing the cold of winter head on. But not Little Tree—he hugs his leaves as tightly as he can. (goodreads summary)

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year! I love taking an early morning hike in the cool and crisp air. As the leaves turn into a brilliant blaze of colors, I stop for a moment and take in the breathtaking beauty nature has to offer. I love sitting by a fire with a warm and cozy blanket, which takes away that sudden chill as it slowly grows darker earlier in the evenings.  But what I really love most is finding all these wonderful fall season books waiting to be read!

Here is a beautiful story to share on a cold and chilly Autumn weekend about a little tree who is afraid to let go and change. He refuses to shed his leaves keeping him from growing big like the other trees around him. Even with the encouragement from his forest friends, he chooses to hold onto his leaves year after year because he is happy just the way he is. Eventually, the other trees grow big and strong blocking the sunshine from Little Tree. As each season passes, he must decide if he is ready yet to move on or keep missing out on the many splendid things going on around him.  The text and illustrations are simple but are definitely full of important meaning.  The pages are bold, full of color and is an easy read-aloud.  Growing up can be a little frightening for young kids. I experienced this with my own son when he was turning 4 years old. The uncertainty of the big world and its expectations must have been overwhelming and this would have been a great read for us at that time.  It is more than just a sweet book about the change of the seasons. It will help kids understand that change is okay and there are many wonderful opportunities awaiting them if they let themselves grow. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title:  Little Tree
Author: Loren Long
Pub. Date:  October 2015, Philomel Books
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

by Mouse & Frog review


Fastidious Mouse has one idea about how to tell a story. Free-spirited Frog has another. What happens when Frog crashes into Mouse's story with some wild ideas? Chaos!...followed by the discovery that working together means being willing to compromise—and that listening to one another can lead to the most beautiful stories of all.(goodreads summary)

One morning, Mouse is very eager to write a story of her own. As her words begin to flow, Frog suddenly bursts in with ideas of his own on how he thinks the story should go.  He becomes so carried away that the story goes slightly out of control with a King, a Cake and Ice Cream.  Frog does not listen to what Mouse is saying until she gets very upset!  When the two decide to compromise and collaborate, they find that a story by Mouse and Frog will be better simply by learning to work together.

A nice and gentle story not only about working together but also not listening to others, which some kids can struggle with. Frog's excitement unintentionally takes over Mouse's story and she does not like it. Frog just wants to help but does not understand his enthusiasm is not well received until she gets upset. Each one can contribute to create a wonderful story by using both imaginations and working together.  The illustrations are fun and creative adding much humor as Frog draws his version of the story in pencil and Mouse mopping up his many messes along the way. In the end, the two find working together resolves their conflict better. Although older kids will understand about the writing process and connect easily, Preschoolers having trouble in playtime scenarios may also benefit if a discussion follows after reading. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title:  by Mouse & Frog
Author: Deborah Freedman
Pub. Date: April 2015, Viking Books or Young Readers
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nerdy Birdy review


Nerdy Birdy likes reading, video games, and reading about video games, which immediately disqualifies him for membership in the cool crowd. One thing is clear: being a nerdy birdy is a lonely lifestyle. When he's at his lowest point, Nerdy Birdy meets a flock just like him. He has friends and discovers that there are far more nerdy birdies than cool birdies in the sky. (goodreads summary)

Nerdy Birdy is looking for a few friends to share his interests with about reading and video games. Unfortunately Eagle, Cardinal and Robin really don't care and shun him because they are too busy being cool (or so they think).  Nerdy Birdy finds there is another group of birds just like him and decides to join in making many new friends.  But when Vulture moves into town and tries to join his new group, she is not accepted by the others as one of them because she is different. 

Not only is this story cute but it packs a powerful message about what constitutes fitting in. Eagle, Cardinal and Robin are portrayed as strong and powerful and Birdy as nerdy with his big glasses, love for reading and talent at video games. When Vulture is rejected by both the cool birds and the nerdy birds, he remembers what it is like to be alone showing young readers empathy. While looking at the illustrations, kids will pick up on the funny descriptions of what the cool birds are good at and chuckle.  In the end, Nerdy Birdy learns a valuable lesson about what being a friend really means. This story is a great opener for some wonderful discussions on differences, accepting others and being true to oneself.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 5-8.~

Title: Nerdy Birdy
Author: Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Matt Davies
Pub. Date: September 2015, Roaring Brook Press
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thankful review


Like the gardener thankful for every green sprout, and the fireman, for putting the fire out, readers are encouraged to be thankful for the many blessings they find in their lives. (goodreads summary)

Not only is this a heart-warming book but it sends a positive message about being thankful for those little things we do not always think about. From the waitress being thankful for comfortable shoes, to the crafter being thankful for glitter and glue, it offers children (and even the adults) the opportunity for some creative thinking.  With delightfully subtle illustrations and simple rhyming text, it gently reminds us that the ordinary things we come across in our daily lives can be a blessing as well. With short and simple poetic words, this makes a quick and easy read aloud before that delicious Thanksgiving feast.  It would be a great conversation starter about various things we encounter in our everyday world that make us thankful.  I know I am thankful for the many wonderfully talented authors and books I find everyday that can be shared with our children.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-99.~

* This book is published by Zonderkidz, a Christian children's communication company.

Title:  Thankful
Author: Eileen Spinelli
Pub. Date:  September 2015, Zonderkidz
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Judy Moody and Stink: The Wishbone Wish review


The town’s annual Turkey Trot race and festival is coming up, and Judy and Stink are training to win. Judy has decided that she is going to take home the big prize: a fat, juicy turkey. (goodreads summary)

Every year Judy's family celebrates Thanksgiving Day going to Grandma Lou's house for dinner and misses their town's annual festivities. But this year, her parents work it out so they will be able to attend both! For the big event Judy finds her best costume; Sarah Josepha Hale, whom I learned was the inventor of Thanksgiving. She is also very determined to win the Turkey Trot Race and has been training hard for weeks. That's because the winner brings home a "for-real" Thanksgiving turkey. Judy is so confident about winning the race that she asks Grandma Lou to promise her she will not buy one for their dinner. When the day finally arrives, Judy and Stink are excited for the upcoming events and bringing home that big prize!

After reading this funny and cute story, Judy's enthusiastic nature will have everyone inspired about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.  Her commitment to the special day and dedication to winning the big turkey for her family dinner is an important part of the storyline. This easy-to-read chapter book was not only fun and entertaining but it also included Thanksgiving facts.  When Judy shared her wealth of knowledge about Sarah Jospeha Hale, I eagerly found myself wanting to look up more information on this interesting historical figure. I also liked the strong sense of family and bringing the community together for a celebration as well. The full colored illustrations throughout the book are vivid and bold.  The fall palette of colors added to the wonderful Thanksgiving theme.  The text flows easily making this a quick story to read just in time for the holiday break.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 7-9.~

Title: Judy Moody & Stink: The Wishbone Wish
Author: Megan McDonald
Pub. Date: September 2015, Candlewick Press
Genre: chapter book
Hardcover, 128 pgs.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

That's (Not) Mine review


Two fuzzy creatures both want to sit in the same comfy chair. The trouble is, they can’t agree who it belongs to. They get madder and madder, until…
(goodreads summary)

Featuring once again the two creatures from You are (Not) Small, this second book is just as cute and funny as the first.  This time they are disagreeing on whose chair it is since they each declare it "Mine". Just one simple word makes a big fuss for these two leading them into arguing and trickery over who gets to sit in the chair. The illustrations are large, colorful and witty with simple text making for a fun read-aloud. The facial expressions of the characters definitely add to the story as well. Getting along sometimes can be a tough task for our little ones but this silly and clever story about sharing and compromising just may help with a valuable lesson.  I can't wait to see what these two fuzzy creatures get into next!  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title:  That's (Not) Mine
Author: Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant
Pub. Date:  September 2015, Two Lions
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Moonpenny Island review


Moonpenny is a tiny island in a great lake. When the summer people leave and the ferries stop running, just the tried-and-true islanders are left behind. Flor and her best friend, Sylvie, are the only eleven-year-olds for miles and miles.  But come the end of summer, unthinkable things begin to happen. Sylvie is suddenly, mysteriously whisked away to school on the mainland. Flor’s mother leaves to take care of Flor’s sick grandmother and doesn’t come back. Her big sister has a secret, and Flor fears it’s a dangerous one.(goodreads)

Flor lives on Moonpenny Island year round with her parents, older sister Cecilia and younger brother Thomas. She and her best friend Sylvie are inseparable. During the summer months, the island is filled with visitors and new people.  One such visitor to the island is an unusual girl named Jasper. She and her geologist father are on the island in search of prehistoric trilobites.  But suddenly at the start of sixth grade, Flor is faced with unexpected changes to her family and friendship. Syvlie is sent away to live with relatives on the mainland to attend school there, Flor's mother leaves to take care of her grandmother wondering if she will come back and her sister begins to act strangely giving Flor the feeling she is keeping something from her.   As Flor's world is suddenly crashing down on her, she discovers her tiny island holds many truths she was not aware of.

One of my favorite authors has once again, beautifully written another heart warming, coming-of-age story for young readers.  From the summer island descriptions to each of the many different characters,  I found the story engaging and believable.  After Sylvie is unexpectedly sent away for no apparent reason, this abrupt change strains their friendship like many girls can go through when a friend moves away.  The characters of Jasper and her father Dr. Fife were a subtle but important part to Flor's insight and character development. She is faced with many issues in her young life. Her parents argue and her mother suddenly leaves to take care of a relative with Flor not knowing when or if she is coming back. Her sister is resorting to sneaking around, lying and is holding a secret from Flor. There is even a mention of alcoholism when she learns  of another secret her friend holds that she never realized was happening all along. The changes she faces gives her uncertainty but she learns that adapting and going along with those changes is how you grow.  It is a warm and gentle realistic story about friendships, family, conflict, secrets and change. The story moved along nicely offering a message to its reader about opening your eyes and seeing the things around you but it is how you see those things that will help shape you.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 9-12.~

Title: Moonpenny Island
Author: Tricia Springstubb
Pub. Date: February 2015, Balzer & Bray
Genre: realistic fiction, middle grade
Hardcover, 292 pgs.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Racoon review

Francine Poulet is the greatest Animal Control Officer in Gizzford County. She hails from a long line of Animal Control Officers. She’s battled snakes, outwitted squirrels, and stared down a bear. "The genuine article," Francine’s dad always called her. She is never scared—until, that is, she’s faced with a screaming raccoon that may or may not be a ghost. (goodreads summary)

Francine is definitely confident in her ability as the local Animal Control Officer. Until one evening, she meets her match with a loud and very scary raccoon residing on Mrs. Bissinger's roof.  While trying to catch the ghostly critter, the altercation truly scares her and after falling ends up in the hospital with a broken arm and leg. She thinks she has failed and is just not cut out to be the Animal Control Officer anymore and decides to quit the job. Afterwards, Francine meets a neighborhood boy named Frank, who is just what she needs to help build her up again, getting her back on her feet and return to the job she was made for.

If your young reader is already familiar with Deckawoo Drive, this is the second book in the series.  By recognizing characters from the author's other books, the emerging reader will make many connections. It also has some wonderful vocabulary words for kids to make note of and look up if they don't know the meaning.  I love that the words always flow easily and nicely in any Kate DiCamillo books. The illustrations help break the chapters up with their wit and humor. Frank's encouragement of  Francine to remember who she was and go out and get that raccoon was heart-warming. The two characters together made a terrific team. This was a fast-paced and funny early chapter book that will keep kids engaged until the end. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 7-8.~

Title:  Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon
Author: Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Pub. Date:  August 2015, Candlewick Press
Genre: early chapter book
Hardcover, 91 pgs.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

My Leaf Book review


When the seasons change, a young girl visits the arboretum to collect fallen leaves and make a book with them. (goodreads summary)

Here is one more fun book for the Autumn season before that last final leaf falls to the ground.  A cheerful little girl goes exploring at an Arboretum and finds many leaves of colors, shapes and sizes to place in her leaf book. She uses a tree guide as a reference to match them up before gluing and describing each one on her page. 

Young readers will enjoy learning about the many different types of trees and leaves after reading this charming and informative book.  Kids are familiar with the usual oak and maple leaf but what I liked was that it mentioned other different types of tree leaves such as the ginkgo, sweet gum and sassafras. If these are not in your specific area, here is an opportunity for learning where these trees are located.  The short and simple text is a quick and easy read aloud for little ones. The pages also stand out with bright and bold Autumn colors. Side notes on the opposite pages give added facts about leaves as well.  This is the perfect book for fall story time and a great companion before a nature walk, picking up leaves along the way and doing many fun projects afterwards. You don't just have to be limited to a leaf book. The back of the book suggests leaf crayon rubbings and prints. When my kids were little, we would make colorful wreaths by gluing leaves and acorns on paper plates.   They sure grew up fast on me!  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-6.~

Title:  My Leaf Book
Author: Monica Wellington
Pub. Date: September 2015, Dial Books
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Monday, November 2, 2015

A Mouse So Small review

A mouse so small

It's time for Bear to go to sleep for the winter, and even though he's hungry, he doesn't have time to eat first. His best friend, Molly, wants to help him and decides to gather food for him -- a task that proves to be very tricky for a small mouse! (goodreads summary)

Before Bear hibernates for the long winter, his best friend Molly Mouse is worried he will be going to bed hungry. She really wants to help and spies a blackberry bush, a food he is sure to love. Reaching those blackberries high on that bush and getting them to Bear is a large feat for such a small mouse.  But that does not stop Molly though! With her determination and the help of a few forest friends, she will learn that her friendship and big heart wins in the end. 

This is another sweet story about friendship and not giving up.  The theme is very similar to many other books already out there but I think readers will appreciate Molly's determination. She proves that no matter what your size is, you can do wonderful things for others when you are a good friend.  It is a nice story that can help teach kids kindness and thinking of others. The soft fall colors of the illustrations add to the gentleness of the heart warming story. In the end, Bear had a wonderful response to Molly which also showed true friendship between the two characters.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-6.~

Title: A Mouse so Small
Author: Angela McAllister, illustrated by Caroline Pedler
Pub. Date:  September 2015, Tiger Tales
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Haunting Stories for the Older Kids

We cannot leave out the middle grade and young adult readers out there who love a good book to curl up with on a cold Halloween weekend. Here are just a few that I enjoyed and found spooky enough that will add to the chill.  This is just a tidbit of a description; but you can click on the link to find my full reviews.

Happy Halloween......................


A Curious Tale of the In-Between is one of those stories that will leave you with that spooky feeling. Eleven year old Pram has the unique ability to see and talk to ghosts. Her aunts feel she needs to be among other children her own age and decide to send her to school. She meets a boy named Clarence who takes her to a spiritualist with the hope of helping her find answers to questions they both have about past people in their lives; unaware the Lady Savant has some strange plans of her own. This was a fast-paced middle grade read by a wonderful author. I found myself not wanting to put it down. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 11 (mature 11) and up.~

Title: A Curious Tale of the In-Between
Author: Lauren DeStefano
Pub. Date: September 2015, Bloomsbury USA


The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall will give kids spine tingling shivers. It had many exciting thrills for such a short story and I enjoyed this classic styled ghost tale. The words and characters had a wonderful 19th Century English feel to it and I loved the many references of classic book titles and authors.  When Florence encounters Sophia's ghost, it is evident that she was not only nasty in life but it carried over to her afterlife with a vengeance. I know that I really enjoyed this book a while back and think it is a "just right book" for ages 10 and up.~

Title:  The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall
Author: Mary Hahn Downing
Pub. Date: September 2010, Clarion Books


Cryer's Cross was a very unusual story with many eerie elements to it. The main character was a teenage girl named Kendall who had OCD, a best friend who wasn't sure if he was a boyfriend, a new guy that was hard to connect to, the mystery of missing teenagers, a little bit of romance, adults with secret pasts and some supernatural elements. It had a lot packed into this fast paced, easy-to-read book. I found myself reading it in one day because I was determined to find out what was with the creepy desk? I have been meaning to find some other books by this author to read.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 14 and up.~

Title: Cryer's Cross
Author: Lisa McMann
Pub. Date:  February 2011, Simon Pulse


I thought the cover of The Revenant was very striking and definitely caught my eye. I was glad that I found it because it turned out to be a really good book.  This was a simple but chilling historical ghost story that was filled with mystery, murder, plenty of secrets, romance and of course, suspense. It had many twists and turns that were unexpected. Just when I thought I had it figured out, I was pleasantly surprised by another outcome. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 15 and up.~

Title:  The Revenant
Author: Sonia Gensler
Pub. Date:  June 2011, Knopf Books


Imaginary Girls was another beautiful cover but I had a tough time getting into this one. Once I started reading more, I then realized that it was turning out better than I first thought. I picked up on the beautiful writing talents of the author and ended up surprisingly captivated by this supernatural story after all. I found myself eager to read into the next chapter to see what was going to happen. I was glad that I gave it a chance before abandoning it.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 16 and up.~

Title: Imaginary Girls
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Pub. Date: June 2011, Dutton Juvenile

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween Fun Reading!

I cannot believe it is already October and this weekend Halloween is fast approaching. To help get everyone into the Halloween Spirit before trick-or-treating, here are a few fun books to share that will get you started for that evening of Witches Brew and Things that go Bump in the Night!

Happy Halloween....................


Seven orange pumpkins are counting down to Halloween with the help of a scarecrow, a mummy, a witch, a couple of skeletons and a spooky large spider. This is a cute rhyming board book with lots of bright Halloween colors. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 2-4.~

Title: Seven Orange Pumpkins
Author: Stephen Savage
Pub. Date: August 2015, Dial Books


I think Otter stories and his adventures are just the cutest! Here is another great one to add to the Otter lovers out there. Halloween is the best time of year but also the busiest getting everything ready. There are pumpkins to find and costumes to make but when the trick-or-treaters arrive, they are a bit too scary for him. So Otter Keeper comes up with a solution so Otter and his friends can get back to having fun.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-5.~

Title: Otter Loves Halloween
Author: Sam Garton
Pub. Date: July 2015, Balzer & Bray


A friendly witch rides her broomstick cheerfully around the forest with her cat. Along the way, she looses several items and one-by-one are found and returned by several new animal friends. Each one asks if they can have a ride on her broom. Their adventure takes a turn as the broomstick snaps and the witch is confronted by a hungry dragon after tumbling to the ground. The rhyming text flows nicely making for an easy read-aloud.  The illustrations are colorful and with so many characters, each one could be read in different voices adding to the entertaining storyline.  It also depicts kindness and friendship with friends helping other friends in need. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3 - 7.~

Title: Room on the Broom
Author: Julia Donaldson
Pub. Date: August 2003, Puffin Books


As told from Hercules' perspective, this cute and charming story is a wonderful tale not only about the planting process but also learning to have patience as well. With the wisdom and guidance from his new friend Daisy, he finds it takes awhile for good things to grow and learns ways to pass the time. The watercolor illustrations are gentle and eye pleasing. There is so much to see on each page as Hercules' seed grows into something special for the new school year.  This is a fun story and I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Ready for Pumpkins
Author: Kate Duke
Pub. Date: August 2012, Knopf Books


A tiny little seed is determined to scare everyone around him. But when he says "boo" nobody seems to be scared. The wind tells him it is not quite his time yet and that he needs to have patience.  This is a cute and charming story that would be a fun read-aloud for your fall season celebrating.   The text flows nicely and the illustrations are bold and colorful. It also touches briefly through its pictures the life cycle of a seed, to a plant and then into a pumpkin that little ones will easily understand.

Title: Little Boo
Author: Stephen Wunderli
Pub. Date: August 2014, Henry Holt


Farmer Brown does not like Halloween. So he puts out a bowl of candy with a Do Not Disturb sign, draws his shades and locks the door. But in the Barn, the animals are getting ready for a Halloween party. Somebody taps a note on his door and when he goes to investigate, finds that he ends up becoming part of the party anyway. Just like the other books in this series, the story gives many giggles when the animals personalities come to life in Farmer Brown's barn. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Click, Clack, Boo
Author: Doreen Cronin
Pub. Date: August 2013, Antheneum Books