Showing posts with label June 2022. Show all posts
Showing posts with label June 2022. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Heroes of the Quest: An Impossible Team by Mirja Camphausen

Genre: Children's Early Reader
Source: I received a copy from the author through StoryOrigin. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Let me start out by addressing the illustrations by Aurora Paulina Kay. This illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. Having great illustrations always helps with the story. It is obvious that this illustrator truly understood the story.

Mirja Camphausen has crafted a wonderful story. She has placed four animals you would not usually throw together into a team who must complete a quest to receive their diploma from the Quest Academy. You have a mouse who has been an outsider at home for so long that he feels that he has to be the master of everything. He sets out to lead this quest. Then you have a giraffe who claims an oracle told her she would be a great adventurer. However, she has no confidence because she can't read. You have a slug who has created a way to be heard. She perserveres eventhough most count her out because she is so slow. This character reminded me of the quote, "slow but steady wins the race." Finally you have Robert. The mouse calls him a pig, yet he describes him as having fur and claws on his feet. You don't find out until the end what kind of animal he really is. 

The story shows that no matter what our flaws are, we can overcome anything if we put our all into it. It also demonstrates that we can't judge people based only on their flaws. It shows redeeming qualities in each of these characters. I have already sent an email to our media specialist recommending this book for our school.  I highly recommended this book to schools and parents.


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

That Thing in the Sky by Christopher Francis

Genre: Upper Elementary, Middle Grade, Fantasy
Source: I received a copy from StoryOrigin. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I really enjoyed this book. You have two ten year old children on their way home from school when they see something in the sky. Suddenly there is an explosion and black things dropping from the sky. A neigbor working on his farm is watching as well. They realize there is something in the haystack and go to investigate only to be chased by the strange broken horned, octopus looking alien. Both are kidnapped and place high up in a tree for the night.  Just what do the aliens want with them? Why are Bailey and Margaret so sure it doesn't mean them any harm?  

Christopher Francis has created an alien that on one hand is terrifying, yet you can't help but like. You start out scared, then you feel for the creature and want to help it.  He has left the end of the story nicely concluded, yet set up in case there is another one coming after it. (hint, hint)   I have not found a single one of his books that I didn't love. He does a great job with the setting.  I grew up on a farm in Indiana so I could picture the country setting he described.  When they first see the thing in the sky hovering over the silos and the cows acting strange I was taken to the night we saw a strange, quite hovering disk with lights all around it float over the trees along our driveway and hover over our hogs. The pigs were squealing like crazy. Like these kids I was scared, yet curious.  Then it just disappeared. No harm was done to our pigs. Every book I have read by this author has taken me back to my childhood. I believe that is why I love them so much and why I highly recommend them.

Monday, June 27, 2022

A Wonderful Series by Christopher Francis

 The Dream Catcher Series by Christopher Francis

Genre: Elementary, Fantasy

The Dream Catcher Series is based on a group of Dream Catchers whose job is to enter the dreams of children and help turn their scary negative dreams into something that is not scary, but fun and positive. There are five books in this series.


The Dream Catcher Rescue Squad: The Fear of Falling 

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

 In this first story we are introduced to Paisley a young Dream Catcher on her second assignment and Destiny her trainer. How she handles this assignment will determine whether she becomes a member of the Dream Catcher Rescue Squad.  This assignment is a young girl named Abigail who has a fear of falling. When they enter her dream they find her on a rope swing hanging on a thin branch over a high cliff. It is their job to help her change her fear into something positive.  One thing I really liked was at the beginning Paisley tells you the origin of the Dream Catchers and how humans often make dream catchers to hang in their room. I thoroughly enjoyed this story as an adult. I can only imagine how my grandsons are going to enjoy it.



The Dream Catcher Rescue Squad: The Basement
Source: I purchased a copy

Paisley has made it onto the Dream Catcher Rescue Squad. Destiny will continue to be her trainer until she had completed 200 assignments. Then Paisley will get to be a trainer.  The child’s fear in this story is a fear of going to the basement. Paisley learns it isn’t the basement he is afraid of. He is afraid of the toilet in the basement. I felt sorry for Bailey. He couldn’t use the bathroom upstairs because it was being remodeled. He imagined the toilet downstairs as being alive. One thing that was different was that Paisley failed in her mission and had to go back.  I keep trying to figure out how they will solve each kids nightmare but haven’t been successful in solving it before the Dream Catchers do.


The Dream Catcher Rescue Squad: The Fear of being Lost
Source: I purchased a copy

In this story Paisley and Destiny have a new job and her name is Trinity. In this story the first thing we learn is that they have a set up team that does things like open windows for them to slip into the house. Trinity’s nightmare is that she gets lost and can’t find her mommy. It doesn’t help that every time she has the nightmare and wakes her older sister up, her older sister decides to scare her the next day.  Each of these characters who have nightmares must learn a lesson to deal with what scares them. Such a subtle way to teach a valuable lesson.


The Dream Catcher Rescue Squad: Scary Noises
Source: I purchased a copy

Oscar is the Dream Catcher Rescue Squad’s newest job. Oscar is afraid of things during the day and during the night. They enter the dream hoop and shortly thereafter they see Moon Drifters. Moon Drifters steal good dreams and keep them for themselves. The Dream Catchers have got to show Oscar what is making the strange noises and shadows in his house before he wakes up. Who will win this one the Dream Catchers or the Moon Drifters?  This one resonated with me a lot. Growing up in a house that was over 100 years old made falling asleep difficult. I heard every creak and groan and saw shadows everywhere. As an adult I still jump at noises I hear at night and have to fight to not let my imagination run away with me.


The Dream Catcher Rescue Squad: The Fear of School
Source: I purchased a copy

Maslyn is the squad’s newest job. Before I say anything more I have to comment on the way the Dream Catchers get around. They have hair propellers. That is just the coolest thing. Not only that but I just learned that they have the ability to shape shift. Paisley and Destiny notice that Maslyn isn’t in bed yet. They fly around the farm and watch the parents. Dad is busy on his combine and mom is busy taking care of all of the animals. Maslyn’s dad comes in to get Maslyn ready for bed. She doesn’t want to go to sleep because she doesn’t want to go to school the next day. She has to give a presentation and she is scared.  This is a nightmare I often had as a child. It is something that as a teacher I still struggle with. I had no dream catcher squad to help me. I had great administrators who pushed me out of my comfort zone and stood there to support me.


Final Thoughts:

Oh my gosh what a wonderful series. The author has touched on fears not only kids, but also adults have. We have read about the fear of heights, falling, public speaking, scary noises or getting lost. These are perfect for younger elementary students. I will definitely recommend these books to our school media specialist. I believe my grandkids are going to love a copy of these as well.

I have read a multitude of elementary age books by this author and loved them. The illustrations are wonderful.  If you have a middle grade child or young adult you might want to check out his books for older children. Please check back here as I will be reviewing  five more books for the older population. This is definitely an author you need to check out.

Friday, June 24, 2022

Two Books by MamTalk Publishing


Scissor Skills Workbook  for 2 Year Old and Older Kids by MamTalk Publishing

Genre: Children, craft/skills book
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

One thing I liked at the beginning is that we have a page that explains why this type of activity is important for kids. Right below that are rules for parents to share with their child about using scissors. They can read them, and demonstrate the rule. As a middle grades teacher I still have to go over these rules with my students at times. This book reminded me of papers I got the first time I took a sewing class. They are simple lines to teach kids the beginning cutting movements.  They begin to get more complicated. Finally they get to picture that use those basic movements to cut out the picture.  If you are an adult who has to cut something more than a straight line then this would be great practice for your as well. Great starter for using scissors.


Springtime Rhymes for Kids: Poetry about Spring by MamTalk Publishing

Genre: Children's Picture Book, Poetry
Source: I purchased a copy

I purchased this book to see what else this company had to offer. I was not disappointed. This is a book of discovery about spring. The words are lyrical in their rhyming.  Then there are the pages that have small pictures about individual items found. For example on the page where they show flowers that bloom you have them identified as “D” is for Daffodil, “T” is for Tulip. So we have a list of words to teach children to pronounce. Did I mention the beautiful and bright pictures? Since I teach in a K-8 school I think these books would be perfect for our pre-k or kindergarten classes.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Giant Inside by Christopher Francis


Genre: Upper-Elementary
Source: I purchased a copy

This book followed Meeting Henry Greenfield. Alex has definitely made an enemy of Damian Dermite. The bully has a reputation to uphold and it seems that Alex is getting in the way of that reputation.  Things will get better if he can just figure out how to handle Damian Dermite.  Once again I love the continuing story of these characters. Had I read this book before the Screaming Ridge books it would have seemed more cohesive. This author definitely has the upper-elementary lower middle-grade students figured out. The story comes across as realistic and relatable.

Friday, June 17, 2022

There’s an Ogre-Beast in the Playground by Christopher Francis

Genre: Upper-Elementary
Source: I received a copy from StoryOrigin to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I loved this upper elementary grade book.  Being different is tough. It is even tougher when someone is there to always point out those differences and make fun of you. Henry is that boy. He is a six foot tall fourth grader with red hair. Everyone, including the teachers bully him in some way. He doesn’t like being different. It isn’t until an ogre-monster comes to the school that Henry realizes that sometimes being different is okay.

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Catherine Dickens: Outside the Magic Circle Heera Datta

Genre: Historical Fiction

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


I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t wait for Christmas to come to watch “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. After reading this book my feelings toward the author have been tainted.  While I saw him as a wonderful and successful writer, I never knew who he was. To understand who he was you must understand the Victorian time period he lived in. 

Imagine you have married the man of your dreams only to have him blame you for everything that he doesn’t like in your marriage. Imagine your young sister who lives with you to help you with your children, suddenly sides with your husband.  You are removed from your home, while your sister and your children stay with your husband.

This is for the most part a fictionalized account. We know for a fact that Charles Dickens was separated from his wife. We also know that even though he wrote terrible things about her. She kept her mouth shut. Part of this I believe was because she loved him, and part of it was because that is the way things were handled during this time period.  Women pretty much had no rights.  She was publicly humiliated through his writings. Up until her death she pretty much kept quiet. Yet she made sure her daughter received letters Charles had sent her to be sent to the Smithsonian. It was her way of letting the world know he really wasn’t all that bad.  She believed this until her death. Maybe that is what helped her survive this situation.

Even though this story took place in the 1800’s this could be anyone’s story today. I believe that is why it is such a good book. It is so applicable to present time.  A great book to be read by anyone wanting to know more about the real Charles Dickens.