Showing posts with label Children. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Children. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2024

Skimmer & Finn: There Are No Pancakes on This Planet by Christopher Francis


Genre:  Graphic Novel, Children
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I make my students set reading goals every year. I expect them to read from 11 different genres. I agree to do the same.  The one I struggle with is graphic novels. I grew up reading comic books and such so you would think this wouldn't be an issue. The problem is with the content. So often the book is full of wonderful pictures but lacking in words and plot.  When you read this graphic novel you will find it has it all.  I am looking forward to the next one in this series. 

Skimmer is a robot traveling with his human Finn. Earth had been destroyed 1000 years before and people were put in pods and sent out to other planets to survive. Finn wakes up from his pod and meets Finn who tries to explain things to him.  I laughed so hard because he was told Earth was destroyed and he went through a list of his possessions to see if they were gone. It sounds like any typical kid they are self-centered.  They do find another survivor and that is when things begin to happen.  Will Finn learn or cause more trouble?  This is a must read book and one I look forward to getting for my grandsons.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Daily Guided Gratitude Journal with Creative Prompts by MamTalk


Genre: Children's Journal

Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

A wonderful book for children ages Kindergarten to fourth grade.  If you want you child to write more then start with this book. This is a beginner journal. Parents can sit with their young child and read it to them and then have them draw pictures or tell the parent what to write. The older child can write and color. What a great way to get children interested in writing and help create a life-long love of writing. I love books by MamTalk.

This book is full of cute pictures.  Each page starts with an example, a place to write the date, then a page for students to fill in with their own personal information. This is a wonderful way to show kids that they can write every day about things that are important to them.There are pictures to color which makes this a fun activity. I only wish that more parents would spend time daily with their children teaching them to journal like this, showing them that writing can be fun. It is a great way to teach children the importance of gratitude

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Easter Bible Story About Jesus for Children from MamTalk Publishing


Genre: Older Children
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my

This is another Easter Story from MamTalk. This one takes the reader from the reason for Jesus' arrival on Earth to how he helps us every day. The story talks about the miracles he performed. Then it goes into his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the last supper, and then into his arrest and crucifixion. It doesn't stop there, we next learn of his resurrection and why it was important. We learn that his death paved the way for our eternal life It ends with the ascension into Heaven. Children reading this book will learn about God's ultimate love.

I highly recommend this book for children 6-12. It is a great story with a great message.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Spinning Through the Universe by Helen Frost

Genre: Middle Grade, Poetry, Novel in Verse
Source: I own a copy

Once again another favorite author. Helen Frost writes novels in verse. This is a book of poems from "room 214". This is a book that kids will be able to identify with. Although the teacher and students in this book are fiction, they could be any teacher or any student anywhere. She touches on topics such as; bikes. Jon's bike has gone missing in one poem. He talks about how special it is, noise and all. Then on the next page we read a poem by Andrew who took the bike because he had seen it lying in the rain. He didn't steal it because he wanted it. He took it to fix it up and return to Jon in better condition. There are poems about abuse, families and babies.  These are all topics kids deal with today. Helen's books are a must for all school and classroom libraries. I think the thing I enjoy the most about her books is at the back of each one. She has a section on the forms of poems she used and how to write them. Since reading her books I write more poetry and I have my students write more poetry. This is a must read.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

One Last Word by Nikki Grimes

Genre: Middle Grade, Poetry
Source: I own this book

I was first introduced to this book through another author. Helen Frost writes books in verse. One of my students asked how in her book "Hidden" she had written an extra message at the end of each line. I asked her and she told me it was through Nikki Grimes and her Golden Shovel Poems that she had copied this method.  She told me I needed to purchase this book, so I did. This is perfect since my students must create a book of their own original poems each year.  One of my requirements is that they must write at least one Golden Shovel Poem. Through her book and the wonderful illustrations we learn about a time in history most students of any color know little about, "The Harlem Renaissance". When she talks about that time int he front of her book we learn that this was a time where art was used to tell what life was like for black through their own perspective.  This isn't a book just for the blacks. This is a book for all races as we all face some of the same obstacles. Through her poetry we learn so much. We also see how some of what we hoped we would leave behind is still with us today.  This is such a wonderful book for so many reason and should be in every classroom.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Adventures With Scarlet and Twinkle by Janice Ford

Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Genre: Children's Book

This author has once again given us five wonderful little stories to share with our young loved ones.

A Little Girl and Her Doll

Scarlett received a stuffed elephant as a Christmas gift one year. Now she and Twinkle play together every day. One day while climbing the ladder to their treehouse Twinkle slips. Scarlet rushes down to help her friend. They discover Twinkle’s skirt has gotten dirty. Scarlett knows what to do, it is mom to the rescue.

Scarlet Loses Twinkle

Sometimes making a choice can be difficult. Scarlet and Twinkle get permission to go to the park one day. Twinkle reminds Scarlet that the next day is mom’s birthday. They decide to pick some berries for mom and surprise her with them the next day. After picking berries Scarlet has to leave Twinkles in the park so she can carry the berries and hide them. Unfortunately she has to go to bed without Twinkles. When she wakes up the next morning Twinkles is in the kitchen with mom. Mom knew that Twinkles had been left in the park and went to get her and bring her safely back home. Leaving Twinkles behind had been the hardest choice Scarlet had ever made.

Feeling Scared

School is the one place Scarlet can’t take Twinkles. When her teacher announces they all must participate in the school play Scarlet is scared. She explains her fear to her mother, who promises to help her memorize her lines. She tells Twinkles who explains how speaking in front of others is just like one of the adventures they have. She learns it is okay to be afraid and that sometimes you have to face your fears.

Helping a Friend Out

Scarlet was play with Twinkle when she noticed a rip in her shoulder. She took Twinkle to the house where her dad quickly fixed Twinkle right up. As she went outside she saw her best friend from school crying. She sat Twinkle down and went to Jennifer. Jennifer had secretly taken her doll to school and forgot her. The school was closed and she would have to wait until the next day to get her. Scarlet helped her out by letting Twinkle spend the night with Jennifer so she wouldn’t be sad and lonely. This is a story that teaches children about sharing and caring.

A Very Important Lesson

Scarlet and Twinkle get permission to explore their neighborhood one day. They decide to go a different direction. At the end of their street they see a forest and decide to enter it. The deeper they go the darker it gets. When they decide they should go back they realize they don’t recognize the way because it all looks the same. That is when they notice a ball of stuffing and realize a hole in Twinkle’s foot has actually saved them. All they need to do is follow the stuffing to get back out. Scarlett tells her parents about the forest and the lesson she has learned about not going to unfamiliar places without an adult.

The thing I love about Janice Ford’s books is that they are simple stories for the youngest child with simple lessons. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems by Paul B. Janeczko

Genre: Children's Poetry Book
Source: Purchased

        Paul B. Janeczko has collected a group of poems that are cute and in some cases just fun. One of my favorite poems came near the end of the book. It is called How to Catch a Poem by Irene Latham. One of the biggest complaints I hear each year when I tell students we are going to write poetry is, "I don't know how to write a poem".  This year when I did my unit I asked students to sit outside or near a window and observe and make a list of things to write about. It was funny because when they submitted poems they often said it just came to them.  Irene's poem will definitely be read to them before we start the unit this next year.
        Another poem I enjoyed was one that taught me something. I can never remember which camel has one hump and which has two. J. Patrick Lewis took the guessing out by giving us a visual with just two letters. If you turn a D and a B on it's back you have the first letter and the number of humps for each type of camel a dromedary has one hump and a Bactrian has two.  I love it when visuals help me remember something.
        Finally, there were the poems that took me back to my childhood. I grew up in the country in Indiana. Playin' Jacks by Anna E. Jordan took me back to a time when my sisters and I  would sit on the kitchen floor playing jacks. The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson reminded me of the swing my father put up for us attached to one of the largest branches. It brought back memories of trying to swing so high we could touch the leaves. How to Bird-Watch by Margarita Engle took me back to sitting or laying on a blanket in the yard watching the birds in the tree. I sit in my yard swing now and still do that. Irene Latham's How to Be a Tree in Winter was such a visual I could see the bare branches reaching for the sky. Ralph Fletcher wrote How to Make a Snow Angel. My sisters and I would wait each year for the snow to be deep enough to make snow angels. I remember doing this at school as well when we went outside for recess.  Helen Frost, who has been a favorite author of mine for several years wrote Best Friends which brought back memories of calling across the field to our cousins who lived down the road from us. I felt as if someone had followed me through my childhood and taken pictures of my life and written about them in this book.  
        I want to have my students sit with their eyes closed as I read these poems. I don't want them to analyze these poems because to me that ruins them. I want them to tell me what pictures popped into their head. Could they see themselves in any of them? So many teachers of middle and high school students find it strange that I will use picture books in my classroom. Why not? Simple books like this are both simple and complex at the same time. I am proud to put this book on my shelf this next year. I am proud to share these with my students. I hope you will pick up a copy and share it with your children or grandchildren and teach them how to enjoy poetry.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

The Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin by Susan Goldman Rubin

Genre: Children, Biography, Holocaust
Source: I own a copy

When Ela Stein was a young child she and many other family members were shipped to Terazin. This was a Czech ghetto.  Shortly before they were shipped to Terazin her father was taken away for expressing his opinion about Hitler. That was the last that Ela saw of her father. In the ghetto her mother made a hard choice to send Ela and her sister to a barrack that was specifically for girls around her age. The living conditions were somewhat better and they received a little more food. The girls in room 28 formed a tight group. Soon someone decided they were going to present an opera. They practiced and practiced.  At one point the Nazis used their production for propaganda.  This book is a book that shows us what friendship and music can do to help people survive. It was a ray of hope in their lives.   This is a short book to read, but filled with so much information and lots of pictures to help understand.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate:

Genre: Children, Middle Grade, Realistic
Source: I purchased a copy

Katherine Applegate has another winner with this book. Bob is a dog we first met in the book, “The One and Only Ivan”. Bob lived in the mall with Ivan and Ruby. Now Ivan and Ruby live in a zoo not too far from Bob’s new house. He was adopted by Julia whose father works at the zoo. Through this book, we learn how Bob became the dog he is. We understand how his personality was developed.  He is a scrappy dog who has learned to survive on his own. He feels guilty about his survival when all his siblings did not survive.   Bob goes with Julia and her dad to the zoo to visit Ivan and Ruby while Julia’s dad is making sure things are ready for an approaching hurricane. No one expected a sudden tornado. Once again Bob has to survive.  Then he is given a second opportunity when he thinks he hears the bark of one of his siblings.

I love this story that is told from Bob’s perspective. It is funny, sarcastic and his view of humans and the world around him make this so fun to read. We see Bob change throughout the book the way a human character changes. This makes him so believable. Not only will this book be on my shelf at school at the beginning of next year, but my grandchildren will also be receiving a copy. Everyone should have the opportunity to read this book.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of "The Children's Ship" by Deborah Heiligman

I am always telling my students to read the back or inside cover to pick a book. I tell them not to pick it simply based on the cover. This is one time I didn't follow my own advice and I am glad I did not.  We have a surplus store not to far from us. My husband decided a week ago that I needed to go and buy some books because it had been several months since I had been there for that reason. This store buys overstock. The first one-eighth of the store, right inside the doors is their book section. I can buy books that are regularly $17-$18 for  As low as $2-$3. Most of these are hardback books. Sometimes they are the third or fourth in a series and I must go elsewhere to purchase the first ones. Since we recently read Maus and did a Holocaust study in my high school credit class I have kept my eye out for books about World War II. I have a student who is quite an expert on this war. So, when I came across this book and read the title I put it in my cart.

This was a story unfamiliar to me. I am aware that during wartime they had the Kindertransport that took predominantly Jewish children away from parts of Europe that the Nazis were beginning to take control. There was an effort I was unaware of until this book. The CORB was an organization that took both poor and wealthy children and relocated them to Canada. From there some went to live with relatives or friends either in Canada or the United States.

The passenger ship SS City of Benares was one of these ships. There were 406 people on board this ship.   This passenger ship was torpedoed and sank in 30 minutes. Only 148 people survived. This book tells the story of many of those courageous people. It shows how hope, determination and sometimes just human decency can mean everything when it comes to survival. The author has done a tremendous amount of research and her bibliography is so informational for people like me who would like to learn more. It was truly one of the best books for kids I have read on this time period. I highly recommend it.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

When Work Gets in Your Way or How to Forget to Post Reviews You Wrote

Every year I find reviews that I had written and never posted. How does that happen you ask? Well usually it happens when I have had a couple of days of downtime and tell my family that I am going to work on my book stack. My days are finished I go back to work and think to myself, "Well, I have an extra ten minutes of my planning period. I think I'll try to work on reviews for the books I read this weekend. "  Along the way the pages get ripped from my notebook and put into my calendar to be typed up. They get moved from there to any number of places and then forgotten. As I do every year at the end of the year I try to organize and clean up before I leave school.  When I am finally home I begin to do the same thing, clean and organize things on my bookshelves, my notebooks, and folders.
In this case, I was going through my composition notebooks preparing for my writing retreat and came across all types of papers. Some were notes to go into my writing notebook and some were school papers I'd scribbled a valuable writing idea on and kept the whole paper until I could transfer that small idea. In the midst of all of those papers I found not one book review, but ten I had written and never typed up.  So, I might as well get them up now. I have a couple of other books that when I see them on my TBR list I keep searching for their review because I've read the book but can't find where I wrote the review, and I know I wrote it.  Guess I need to just rewrite them and post them, because who knows when or where I will find them?  I hope you enjoy these reviews. These have been some of the most popular books in my classroom or with other teachers in my school.

Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery
Source: Classroom shelves

This series has been one of my favorite. It is also one of the most stolen series in my classroom. I don’t know if they are keeping them, passing them on and they never return or what. I have bought this entire series twice just this year. Desires of the Dead is the second book in the Body Finder series. Violet has always been able to locate dead bodies. That doesn’t mean she can go into a graveyard blind folded and point them out. I’m talking about those bodies that have been disposed of.  Her family has been very supportive as has her boyfriend Jay.  This “gift” has been passed down in her family.  Unfortunately, in this book she has two people after her, the FBI and a creepy stalker. We see her relationship with Jay build, we meet new characters, Rafe and others. We see the toll this “gift” take on her and her relationships.  This is a series I would definitely recommend to more mature readers. On my shelves this one required parental permission because of some of the content and the fact I was teaching 6th graders.  I definitely recommend this book.

Skull Creek Stakeout by Eddie Jones
Genre: Middle Grade, Mystery
Source: Classroom Shelves

This is the second book in the Caden Chronicles and is what I call a clean read. Nick Caden has so many qualities for a reader to like. First and most important to me he loves to solve mysteries. He is trying to discover who murdered a man found dead on a golf course. As a fourteen year-old boy, Nick is a very likeable character for all ages who read this book.  My students will love the fact that he puts himself in danger to solve murders. In this book they will love the creep factor of an old mansion. Who wouldn’t feel creeped out if locked in a creepy old mansion? Dead Low Tied is the third book in this series. I have not yet read it, but it will be purchased for my shelves at school. If you have read any of Max Elliot Anderson’s “Sam Cooper” books you will definitely enjoy this series. Highly recommended and on the to be purchased list for my granddaughter for Christmas.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Source: Classroom Shelves

As so often happens I plan on reading a book, but because of all the hype behind it my students get before me. It doesn’t matter I have four copies of this book on my shelves. That just meant more students would get their hands on it. I will always let a student read it first unless they find it on my desk because I am trying to read it for a requested review from the author. Okay, sometimes I let them read it before me.  This book was awesome. In this conclusion to the trilogy we find those we loved throughout the books coping. They are coping with the devastation of a war that was largely thrust upon them. They are coping with physical and mental loss.  One thing I really loved about this book is that the author didn’t take the easy way out. She lets us see the effects war has on all parties and how each deals with it. She tied everything up neatly, yet for some they will hate the ending. Me, I loved it. Everyone wants a happily ever after ending. But, this is a realistic outcome.  I like that even better. It makes it relatable to everyone. Listening to my students talk about the book before I could read it and seeing the connections they made to real life and how something like this could really happen opened my eyes to how deep some of my students are.  Books like this make them really think about their future. That is why I loved this book and will continue to recommend it to my students.

The Cassini Code – Dom Testa

Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult Science Fiction
Source: Classroom Shelves

The Cassini Code is the third book in The Galahad series. If you haven’t read the first two you must. I’ve had this book on my shelves for quite some time. The problem has been my students have had it checked out so much I’d not gotten to it. I took advantage of it coming in on a Friday to read it. Each book in the series seems to be better than the previous one. That to me is amazing since the first book has long been one of my favorites.  It becomes very obvious why Triana was chosen as leader. We have a new leader emerging. Merit has started a movement to return to Earth.  This discord keeps the tension going throughout the book. We have the same excellence with all of the other characters we’ve come to love, or hate and those who are freshly introduced to us.  My favorite is and probably always will be ROC. If you don’t know who this is then you definitely need to get the series and read it.

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlit
Genre: Children, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Classroom Shelves

I first purchased this book because of the cover. That rarely happens. This is a beautiful book both in story and the pictures within. Flory, a night fairy has lost her wings in a tragic accident. For most fairies this would have caused them to give up. Not so with Flory. She can’t fly, but she can survive and make the best of the situation. She makes friends with a squirrel and goes about life the best she can. Her one dream is to be able to fly again. This is a hopeful book, full of adventure. I am sure it will be loved by all who read it.

The Real Boy  by Anne Ursu

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Classroom Shelves

Oscar works for the magician Caleb. He works in the basement. He strikes up a friendship with Callie who is an apprentice to the village healer.  He is constantly tormented and put down by Wolf who also works for Caleb and thinks himself so much better than Caleb. One day Caleb disappears and Wolf gets killed. This means that Caleb must leave the basement and wait on the customers. He is shy and backwards, yet he truly has a gift. When the children of the village get very sick, Callie and Caleb set out to find out why, and to solve the problem. I loved the feeling of being vulnerable the author created with Caleb. With the boy ‘Wolf’ she created a perfect bully. One the reader could easily despise. Caleb is happy staying out of everyone’s way in the basement. He reads at night when he’s had nightmares. He waits until everyone is in bed then he sneaks into the Magician’s library and reads.  There is plenty of adventure and suspense in the book to keep you reading. The best part about all of it is the ending you don’t see coming.  This was one book that was consistently checked out of my classroom this last year.  Such an awesome and fun book to read.

Tuesdays at the Castle – Jessica Day George
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: Classroom Shelves

I absolutely loved this book. To me Castle Glower was almost like a character itself.  On Tuesday’s in particular the castle would get bored and create a new and hidden room. For our main character, eleven year old Celie would be off exploring the new addition. When Celie’s oldest brother graduates Wizard school her parents go off for his graduation.  This leaves siblings Celie, Rolf, and Lilah in the castle alone. Their parents are attacked on their journey and word gets back that they have been killed. As people from other lands come to pay their respect it becomes clear they are there also in the hopes of obtaining the kingdom. What they don’t realize is that this magical castle hasn’t changed anything in the king and queen’s suite and this lead the children to believe their parents are not dead. With the castle’s help they will defend their kingdom at all cost. This is a wonderfully, adventurous book to read. I really need to read the other books in the series.

Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson
Genre: Adult, Informational, Educational
Source: I purchased

Most books I have purchased in the past along this line give students sentences to correct. Jeff on the other hand has taken sentences from great works and used them to teach students.  These are mentor texts.  You can take examples he has there and use them in your classroom.  Great examples to help you with your classroom writer’s workshop.

Polishing the PUGS by Kathy Ide
Genre: Adult, Informational, Educational
Source: I purchased

PUGS, in case you were unfamiliar with this acronym stands for punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling. Kathy Ide has taken information teachers are always searching for and placed in one book to make a great resource.  I have recommended this to other teachers. However, I find this most useful for my own writing. This should be on every writer’s bookshelves.

Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller
Genre: Adult, Educational
Source: I purchased

Donalyn is by far one of my favorite authors when it comes to reading about ways to inspire kids to learn to love reading. I purchased this book and addedbook she makes recommendations about the right way to encourage students to read, the right way to recommend books and genres. The right way to make sure your kids are reading “in the wild”, when they are away from you, instead of only when they are in your class.  This should be a must read for all beginning teachers no matter what subject they teach. In the real world of teaching, no matter what subject you teach, if your student can’t read well then they won’t really do well in any of their classes. All subjects require the ability to read and comprehend.  Put this on your list of must read books for this year.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Adunni Dares to Dream by Taiwo I Ajao

Genre: Children, Historical Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Write Now Literary is pleased to announce Adunni Dares to Dream by Taiwo I Ajao, Virtual Book Tour, June 5-30, 2017.

My Review:
This was a wonderful book, full of hope and faith. This is the true story of a young girl who with the help of her family and friends realized her dream of going to school.  Throughout the book, we see how God worked in her life to bring her dream to reality.  We also see how God worked in the life of a young man who loved her for so many years. Both of them realize their dreams. This is a book I would willingly put on the shelves of my middle-grade classes.  It is a simple biography, historical fiction, yet has a message every child should hear. If you really want something, then you need to reach for the stars and let nothing stand in your way.

Author/Illustrator Bio
The Dr. Ajaos are a husband-wife, doctor-nurse team who have a joint passion for health literacy, preventative healthcare, and education for at-risk groups in the Global setting. Mrs. Taiwo I Ajao, the Author, is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s in Public Health in Maternal and Child Health, while Dr. ‘Wale Ajao, the Illustrator, is an internationally-trained medical doctor with a Master's of Arts in Communications & Producing for Film and Video. Together, The DrAjaos intend to address health literacy via it’s most fundamental forms: using the arts of writing, entertainment, and communication to educate children and their parents. Adunni Dares to Dream is the beginning of a beautiful merger of not just a celebration of educational achievement, but also of Faith, Hope, Love and Miracles.
About The Book
Adunni Dares to Dream is the true tale of a poor African girl who just wanted to go to school. Although she was a part of a very hardworking family, Adunni just could not have the finer things in life, like school, books, & literacy. In her culture, girls were just expected to look pretty, get married and have children. But Adunni wished for something more.
As Adunni dares to dream , she inspires many others to dream too, including a handsome young man who couldn't stop dreaming about her! So Adunni has choices to make. Does she give in to her society's expectations? Does she chose the status quo? What are Adunni's dreams and where do her dreams take her?
Whenever Adunni brought up the idea of school, somehow Mama found a way to end it. Despite the fact that she was illiterate, Mama was sharp, hardworking and very resourceful with money. Mama had married young, as was common in the culture, and she started to bear children as a teenager. It was unfortunate, however, that she experienced the loss of many of those children during childbirth. Only Adunni and her sister had survived, and Adunni wondered often about what she could have done to save those who hadn't made it. Adunni was tearful as she remembered how her mother had nearly died last year during childbirth. Was every girl expected to get married and have children, even if it killed her? Adunni didn’t want to be like other girls: she wanted to be great! Adunni believed that to be great, she must be smart and be able to read, and learn great things. 
Amazon Link 
Tour hosted by Write Now Literary

Monday, January 16, 2017

Two Middle Grades and Seven Children's Picture Books

Purple Pup -Karl Steam
Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
This book exceeded my expectations. I loved the premise and the book didn't disappoint. Imagine a lab that is experimenting with genetics. Imagine one of those genetically modified animals is a purple puppy. I'd love a purple puppy. This lab has created a new set of animals. Two of the dogs have a heightened sense of smell and hearing, not to mention having camouflage colors. You know that if the military is involved that all cannot be good. What happens when the purple pup escapes and finds a family that treats him with love? When the purple pup is seen and put on the news things change. He is returned to the lab where he helps several of his friends escape. The adventures this little pup finds keeps you turning the pages. It was a quick read. I sat and read it in about two hours. This is one of those books that make you think how cool it would be to have some of these animals. Then you have to think about how fair it is to the animals.  This would be great to read in conjunction with a science unit on genetics. The possibilities for conversations with students about genetically modified things could bring about some great discussions.  Not only do I love this book because of educational reasons, but I love it because it is well written and sure to keep young and old alike reading.

The Left Behinds: Abe Lincoln and the Selfie that Saved the Union – David Potter
Genre: Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Want a fun way to teach some history? This is the book you must read. Imagine three kids traveling back in time through a phone app. That is what happens to Mel, Brandon and Bev. There is a first book to this series. I will need to read it and add it to my shelves. Don’t let me misguide you with my first statement. This is one of those fun books with just enough history to make kids the inquirers we want them to be. An added bonus is the author notes at the end of the book that five you so much more information. I know my middle school students will love this one because it has history and technology. What a great mix. These three children are left behind at their boarding school and use the app one of their professors invented to escape back in time. They must stop history from being changed. This is such a fun premise. Yes I am a lover of time travel books and a lover of history. What could be better? The only thing that could be better would be reading the first book, and then the next book in this series.

The 30 Most Amazing Geography Facts – Nuhh Adams
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
This book is a combination of geographical facts and science facts. This will give readers a basic knowledge of our planet. I would even go so far as to say this would be a great resource for classrooms, especially for parents who homeschool. There are many other books in this series. I would recommend you check them out.

Dr. Ella Has a Surprise – Alon Tamir
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
This is a cute book that shows three kids with three ailments. Then we meet Dr. Ella. The repetitive stanzas demonstrate to readers that there is nothing to fear when they go to the doctor. A list of items doctors use helps familiarize children with the doctor’s office.

Gracie Lou and the Bad Dream Eater – Danielle A. Vann
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Gracie Lou has a problem. Every night a bad dream monster keeps her awake. She wakes her parents up until one of them sleeps with her or she crawls into their bed. Her dad and mom are tired of getting no sleep. Dad decides to become the Bad Dream Monster Eater. Will his plan work? This is a wonderful story to read to children who fear going to bed alone at night.

The Very Tall Tale of Ranger the Great Pyrenees and his Adorable Friend Miss Keys – Danielle A. Vann
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
This is a strange story of a friendship between a great Pyrenees dog and a very young skunk. When Miss Keys’ momma skunk goes off to join a circus, she leaves behind her daughter. She and Ranger become great friends and travel all over the place. But, what happens when they become homesick and meet up with Miss Keys’ momma” A cute book that shows no matter how different we are there should be nothing to keep us from being friends.

A Kooky Spooky Stroll by Stephanie K. Adams
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
This fun rhyming story follows two young children as they are out at night on Halloween. They walk through many scary things to go trick or treating. Can you figure out how scared they will get?

Nola – Stephanie Lisa Tara
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Nola is based on the real rhino named Nola. She was a rare rhino. She was taken to a zoo to protect her because her species was almost all gone. For me, the information from the zoo keeper, and the back of the book, made this a wonderful book.  Oh yes, there is also all those cute illustrations of Nola.

Autumn Snow by Flitzy Books
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.
Ginger is excited for the “autumn snow”. She takes her younger brother Tommy outside to enjoy the autumn snow. I grew up in Indiana on a farm. We had lots of maple trees nut trees. We had a lot of different types of leaves and my sisters and I loved to play in them. I could identify with Ginger. It took me back to my childhood. I live in Florida and the falling leaves is one thing I really miss up north. I loved the way the author incorporated photos into her illustrations a wonderful and heartwarming book.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Wonderful Books for the Imagination

Can you See the Magic by Chris Stead  Artwork by Els Dirickx
Genre:  Children's Picture Book
Source:  I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

In my opinion, children's books should not just tell a great story, but they should spark the imagination. This is by far my favorite children's book of the new year. I have shared it with several teachers and students at school. It was great fun watching them look around the room and see the owl in the wood grain on my door or the dragon that is on theirs. This book  is great for ALL ages.  I teach middle school and my students loved it. Chris Stead has taken the artwork created by Els Dirickx, and created a story where you must use your imagination to see the magic around you. In this story two young children convince their father to walk around the farm with them to see the magic. The father, like most adults tells them there is no such thing as magic. The children assure him there is. They look at rusty old cars, and burnt pieces of wood.  This has reignited my already big imagination. I have always seen the magic in things. I used to drive my mother crazy with statements like, “Look at the face in the tile mom, it’s an old man with a droopy hat.” Our imagination served us well when we were growing up on our farm. We spent hours looking at the clouds and other items for the magic in them. I am already a fan of Chris Stead’s books. He worked his own magic when he paired up with this artist who creates something she calls Arikai Reverse art. The word Arikai is made from the names of two of her grandchildren Ari and Kai.

To find out more about Chris' books go to:

To find out more about Els Dirickx's artwork go to:

Morty's Travels by Anderson Atlas
Genre: Children, Science Fiction, Adventure
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is a strange and fun adventure story. Morty likes to play pranks on his dad. One morning he goes outside to find a slug to put in his dad's shoe. Instead, he finds a strange flower. The pollen from it causes him to sneeze and he is transported to another planet. He meets some friendly adventures and even finds a pet. This would make a great bed-time story. The pictures are wonderful.
Find out more about Anderson's work at:

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Five More Wonderful Books by Chris Stead

Genre: Children's Picture Books
Source:  I purchased copies


A Very Strange Zoo by Chris Stead
This is a very cute and creative book. On an island faraway lives an inventor. He was so noisy that all of the other people who lived on the island moved away. He became very lonely. As he walked along the shore he saw a lot of garbage that had floated in. One item in particular sparked his imaginations. It was a book about zoos.  How could this young inventor solve his problem, clean up his island and start inventing again.  The drawings are wonderful.  For me the idea of having a conversation with my grandkids about what they can create our of junk lying around is more valuable to me because it causes children to use their imagination, which is something I see as a middle school teacher that many of my students don’t know how to use.

Trouble At the Zoo

Bernard the zookeeper had a very tough job. He had to clean the cages, feed and play with the animals. When he was finished he laid down and took a nap. It was at this point that the baby elephant took his keys and let all of the animals out so that they could go on an adventure.  What will happen when Bernard wakes up?  The fun thing about this book is that if you ask that question of children and then read the rest of the story to them they get a big surprise. Things don’t end the way you would predict they would.  I liked the unpredictability in this book.

My Birthday Cake Needs a New Home
A young girl celebrates her birthday. She gets lots of presents. Her mom bakes her a ginormous cake. When there is so much left over she must find it a new home. It won’t fit in the refrigerator. She can’t put in on her shelf, or in her dad’s car. She tries to push it into her body because her mom said she can’t eat anymore. Will she be able to solve this problem and find her cake a new home.  This was such a cute book. You could imagine this young child trying all of these things to give her cake a new home. She is quite the problem solver.  I absolutely loved the ending of this book.

Follow the Breadcrumbs

This is the second book in the Willy Nilly Series. I really enjoy Willy Nilly. He has a lot of cool ideas, but like most kids he doesn’t think them through all the way. This seems to get him into trouble. Willy wakes up one morning and his mom tells him he has to clean his messy room. Once he has done that he can go to the lake and feed the ducks.  This is something he loves to do.  Once there he gets a bright idea. What if he had a lake in his own back yard. Then he could feed the ducks in his own back yard. Willy goes to the bakery and gets all of their stale bread and creates a trail of bread crumbs to his back yard. Then he digs a lake. When he wakes up in the morning Willy realizes he has created a problem and he is I so much trouble with his parents. How will he get out of this situation?  I think I like this character because he is so genuine. I could see his wheels turning in his head and it made me think of my own grandkids and how they think of things like this without thinking of consequences.

The Fastest Kid in the World

This is the third book in the Willy Nilly Series.  Willy loves to pretend to drive his dad’s car. He pretends to go really fast and do lots of jumps. One day his dad bursts into his room and asks him if he would like to build a billycatr. When they finish building the car they take it to the park. Unfortunately, his dad can’t push the car fast enough for Willy.  Willy’s dad tells Willy they will go to the real car races the next day. During the night Willy gets a bright idea about how to make the billycart go faster.  Will this end well for Willy? How much trouble can he get into with his billycarT?  Another fun and adventurous book about Willy’s adventures.  These books are so fun. I do hope the author continues with this series.

To find out more about the author go to his website Old Mate Media  there is so much there to learn.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Two Fabulous Books by Murielle Bourdon

Genre: Children's Picture Books
Source: I purchased copies

This is just two of the books in this series.  This is a wonderful series that should be read by parents, grandparents and teachers to their youngest children. Such positive and powerful messages within, without preaching.

Sami the Magic Bear: No To Bullying 
 Bullying is and always had been a problem. In this book we meet Thomas. He is very smart. For this reason he is picked on by Victor and his friends. On his ninth birthday Victor takes Thomas’s birthday hat and pushes him down. Thomas is so embarrassed that he lies to his parents. He is surprised to see his grandparents have come to celebrate his birthday. After dinner he opens their present and finds a stuffed bear named Sami. Will Sami be able to help Thomas solve his bullying problem?  This is a wonderful book on the effects of bullying, why bullying might occur and the proper way to handle it.  Highly recommended to all parents and lower elementary teachers.

Sami The Magic Bear: A Trip to the Hospital! 
Laurie is a young girl who is very active. She has trouble sitting still in class after she finishes her work. She is captain of her soccer team. One day she doesn’t feel as energetic. She gets so sick she can’t go to school. Her mom takes her to the doctor and they discover she has leukemia, a blood cancer.  She ends up in the hospital for a long time. Her class makes her a giant card and a gift. Sami the bear.  She is so tired she just wants to give up. Can Sami help her learn to fight?  Great message of never giving up. It is a lesson kids need to learn whether they are fighting an illness or fighting to learn something new.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Eleven Wonderful Picture Books

Genre: Children's Picture Books
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Oliver and Jumpy Stories 52-54 by Werner Stejskal
Oliver the Babysitter” In this story Oliver goes to babysit his sister’s children while she is in the hospital. Oliver does the best he can. Will it be enough?
Smoke Over the Sea” When Oliver spots smoke out in the ocean, he, Jumpy and Joey go to help. They are captured by the people of the island. Will this turn out okay?
Rain Drop” Droppy is a water drop who joins her brothers and sisters in the cloud. After a while she falls back to earth, but what is her purpose?

Oliver and Jumpy Stories 55-57 by Werner Stejskal
Flood” One day a storm starts. It rains so hard that the land floods. Soon Oliver has a treehouse full of animals. Will they be able to get along?
Lazy Squirrel” What happens when Lazy Squirrel steals the other squirrel’s nuts? Will he have to learn a lesson the hard way?
Unexpected Lory” Oliver arrives home one evening to find an uninvited guest. How will he handle the intruder who turns out to be a distant runaway teen relative?

Oliver and Jumpy Stories 58-62 by Werner Stejskal
Down the Well” Oliver dreams about a frog who lives in the well.
Finding the Story” was about one of Oliver’s stories he keeps in a jar in his cupboard. One day the jar is broken and the story runs away because she doesn’t want to be written down.
Story Writing” Oliver tells the reader about writing stories and where he gets his ideas and how much help he gets from his pen named Penny.
What a Laugh” Oliver tells us more about the land he lives in named Sillandia were everyone is silly. The police actually looks for serious people to throw them out.
What’s the Time” All the clocks in Sillandia tell a different time. This makes life in Sillandia quite exciting.

A New Hat for Myrtle by Leela Hope
Myrtle the monster is having a very bad hair day. This makes her very sad. When her friend Kelly Kitten comes to visit, she sets out with Myrtle to help her find a new hat.

Little Bear Dover’s Train Adventure by Leela Hope
Dover is a bear who would love to ride the train. He is too shy to ask. The next day his mother takes him to the fair. To get there they must ride the train. This is just the beginning of his adventure.

Winter Muddle Puddles by Leela Hope
A little girl named Faith goes to bed sad because it is raining. The next morning she realizes it is too muddy to play outside, until her mother hands her a raincoat and rubber boots. She tries to get her best friend Peter Pony to play in the puddles with her. Will Faith and her friends be able to convince Peter to join them in their fun? This brought back happy memories of my childhood and playing in the puddles.

The Little Green Boat by Chris Stead
Willy Nilly was excited when he woke up because he and his family were going to have a picnic at the beach. When they get there, Wily wanders off and finds a green boat that is suddenly picked up by a wave and tossed out to sea. Suddenly Will is on an adventure he didn’t expect.

Easy 8 The Big Event by Carrolyn Foster
Bulls compete for the Bull of the Year Award in this book. It starts off with Native American Bulls dancing as a tribute to Mother Earth before the bull riding starts. Each bull takes its turn to try and throw its rider.

Dr. Dee Dee Dynamo’s Beemore Breakthru by Oreeka Williams, M.D.
One day Gordon the Gullible Globe starts yelling “the honeybees are dying.” This fun book and activity/coloring book is a fund way to educate children about bees. Dr. Dee Dee helps the bees speed up pollination. This is not only a fun way to educate children about the bees, but it has great activities to go with it.

One to Ten Squirrel’s Bad Day by Carole P. Roman
Squirrel drops all of his acorns and begins crying. Rabbit is there to help squirrel. Rabbit shares a way to rate things from one to ten. One is the least and ten is the worst. This is a great way to hel kids deal with problems and to put them into perspective.

If You Were Me and Lived in Israel by Carol P. Roman
Israel is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is divided into four neighborhoods; the Christian, Armenian, Muslim and Jewish sections. People buy things in the open market. They visit the Dead Sea where nothing can live. Some common foods are salads in pita bread, and for dessert baklava which is a honey drenched pastry. This is another wonderful cultural trip to a country few will get to visit in person. These books are a great way for kids to learn about other cultures.

Emma Has a Dilemma by Dana Wall and Amber Wall

The authors are a mother-daughter team. They have created a book about a girl named Emma who has a problem understanding nouns and pronouns. With the help of Wizard Jake can she learn what nouns and pronouns are?