Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Red Knit Cap Girl and the Reading Tree review


One day Red Knit Cap Girl and her friends discover a hollow tree in the middle of the forest. What can be done with one ordinary tree? "I will keep my book in this nook so everyone can read it," Red Knit Cap Girl says. But the tree isn't only for books. Little by little, one by one, the animals share their unique gifts and turn the ordinary tree into a special spot for everyone to enjoy!(goodreads)

All you need is a little hideaway to transform into a quaint book nook and share among your friends. A little girl does just that when squirrel discovers a special spot in a big oak tree. This charming story is a take on the Little Free Libraries that seem to be popping up in many communities. Each woodland friend brings something they want to share with the others.  Even Owl and Moon make a special sign that gives the little reading nook that extra touch. This was a cute story about sharing and finding that special place to sit and read with friends. The serene color pallet adds to the illustrations softness and warmth while reading.  It is a nice story about the value of books and sharing what you read with others. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Red Knit Cap Girl and the Reading Tree
Author: Naoko Stoop
Pub. Date:  September 2014, Little, Brown & Co.
Genre: picture Book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Just Us Girls -48 Creative Art & Craft Projects for Mothers & Daughters review

Explore and nurture your mother-daughter bond and create a keepsake that you'll cherish forever. This highly-illustrated craft and activity book includes 48 heartfelt, earth-friendly projects to make together. The projects mix and explore themes of beauty, magic, and appreciation for the natural world, while moving through the seasons of the year. (goodreads summary)

If you love crafting with your daughter but need some new ideas, this would be a great book to try! The crafts are quick and easy using many natural, earth friendly and best of all upcycled materials.  It is divided into different sections by the four seasons and includes the elements of earth, wind, fire and water bringing you closer to the appreciation and beauty of nature. The project pages also offer tips and information that will help make your crafting time together extra special.  A couple of my favorites were the Totem Pole Painted Tin Cans that focuses on your family traits or the Miniature Shadow Box to capture a special moment or dream encouraging creativity. The directions were simple to follow, plenty of beautiful photographs and the supplies can be easily found by searching outdoors or recycling things from around the house. The first few pages offer a list of items you will need and a brief introduction to the meaning of the seasons and elements which were helpful.

I also think this would make a wonderful addition for a Girl Scout Troop looking for some fun themed activities such as; the Treasure Box Nature Scavenger Hunt, Salt Dough Crafts or a Happy Thoughts Jar. If a birthday party is in the near future, then there are Nature Wands or Fairy Homes to create as well. With 48 projects to choose from you are sure to find something inspiring. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 6 and up.~

Title: Just Us Girls-48 Creative Art & Crafts Projects
Author:  Cindy Ann Ganaden
Pub. Date:  March 2014, Quarry Books
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback, 144 pgs.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tap to Play! review


Tap to play!
Blip has to reach the bar to win his game--but he needs your help. If he wins, he gets a surprise!  Bounce Blip, shake Blip, tilt him and tickle him! Help Blip win the game in this spirited interactive picture book, perfect for reading--and playing--again and again!
(goodreads summary)

Before Blip can win a special surprise, children will have to help him reach the bar before the time runs out.  They need to shake, tilt, tap and flap in order for him to reach his goal. The character is cute and looks friendly. Because of its' simplicity though, this probably would be better for preschool age kids. The large and bold text would work well as a read-aloud for a small group.  Many feel that this is too similar to other interactive books and were not impressed with it. I agree that it is somewhat generic but I guess I am all for whatever gets kids moving or shaking. This book makes for a quick movement activity and a little fun to break up the day! In the end, they could even try other ideas for movement they think might work just as well.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-4.~

Title: Tap to Play!
Author: Salina Yoon
Pub. date: October, 2014,  Balzer & Bray
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Fourteenth Goldfish review


Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?

Eleven-year-old Ellie has many unexpected changes since the start of middle school.  Her mom is a high school drama teacher and her dad is an actor that travels. They both keep telling Ellie she needs to find a passion. Her best friend Brianna has found a new group with the volleyball team. Her babysitter suddenly quits one day and her scientist grandfather, Melvin, comes home with her mom looking like a 13 year old boy. Apparently, he thinks he has discovered the fountain of youth which he experimented on himself that turned him back into a teenage boy. At the current moment though, he is designated as Ellie's new babysitter after school. Unfortunately, he wants to break into his old laboratory with her help to retrieve his jellyfish T.melvinus, which was used to create a compound to reverse the aging process.  Grandpa Melvin plans to change the world with this discovery and win the Noble prize but at what cost.........

This story would not only connect with a reader who is a science enthusiast but others may enjoy the humor and message as well.  It has an unusual theme with several funny moments and leaves you thinking about the interesting topic of people never-aging.  The short chapters move along quickly and smoothly while keeping its' reader engaged for the final outcome in the end. It is funny that even though grandpa Melvin now has a body of a 13 year old boy, he still dresses and acts like a 76 year old man .  He wants a younger self but yet is he ready for the changes that come along with it? The characters of Ellie and her grandpa definitely learn from one another helping bridge the generation gap as well.  Ellie also senses that what her parents want her to be, may not be what she is best at. When she opens her mind to science, she discovers that it is worth the try, finding herself wondering and thinking about the "what ifs".   Ellie also connects with a new friend Raj and there are many character developments within the story for everyone. There are several references to real people who have made scientific impacts on our world such as; Marie Curie or Robert Oppenheimer offering many teaching moments throughout the book. I loved that the author encourages her readers to observe the world around us and find the scientist in themselves. Once the story got going it was simple, fast-paced and could be a good book report talk for a reluctant reader. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 10-12.~

Title:  The Fourteenth Goldfish
Author:  Jennifer L. Holm
Pub. Date: August 2014, Random House for Young Readers
Genre: fiction
Hardcover, 195 pgs.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate! review


Did you know that for thousands of years, chocolate was a beverage and not a solid candy? Or that soldiers in the Revolutionary War received a monthly ration of chocolate for drinking? Learn all about the history of America's favorite wintertime treat in this fun, fact-filled Level 3 Ready-to-Read!(goodreads summary)

Nothing warms you better on a cold winter's day than a cup of hot chocolate!  I didn't realize though that there was an actual history to this delicious beverage. This fun and fact-filled nonfiction book will make an expert out of any hot chocolate lover.

Learning the origins that the cacao bean was first considered to be medicinal by the Olmec people of Central America and how it eventually travelled to Spain, was just the first of many history lessons. The Spanish thought the drink tasted terrible and experimented with sugar and cinnamon, which made a very tasty treat that they kept secret for 100 years.  Eventually, it made its way to France and then over the English Channel. It found its way to the British Colonists in America and Thomas Jefferson helped spread the word about hot chocolate since he was fond of good food and drink. I read many more fascinating things as well from this informative chapter book.  I also liked that at the end of the story there is a quick quiz to help readers recall what they learned.  Kids will walk away with so much knowledge about the past that they will be excited to share what they know the next time they take a sip from a big mug of hot chocolate.  Of course, with whip cream or marshmallows included..... I think this is a "just right book" for level 3 readers in 2nd-3rd grade.~

Title:  The Sweet Story of Hot Chocolate!
Author:  Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Rob McClurkan
Pub. date:  October 2014,, Simon Spotlight
Genre: nonfiction - Level 3 chapter book
Hardcover, 48 pgs.