Perfect Picture Book Friday! The Peace Tree from Hiroshima by Sandra Moore

2 Oct

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a touching nonfiction story.

peacetreeThe Peace Tree from Hiroshima: The Little Bonsai with a Big Story
Written by Sandra Moore
Illustrations by Kazumi Wilds
32 pages – ages 6+
Published by Tuttle Publishing on July 14th, 2015

Theme/Topic- Bonsai/Peace/Caring

Genre- Nonfiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “I was born nearly four hundred years ago on the island of Miyajima.

Synopsis: From Goodreads; “This true children’s story is told by a little bonsai tree that lived with the same family in the Japanese city of Hiroshima for more than 300 years before being donated to the National Arboretum in Washington DC in 1976 as a gesture of friendship between America and Japan to celebrate the American Bicentennial.
The tree is called Miyajima after the island on which it first grew, before being gently uprooted and brought to the home of the Yamaki family, where it was lovingly pruned and trimmed by generations of fathers and sons.
At the end of the Second World War, an atomic bomb destroys Hiroshima. Many people die, but the Yamaki family and Miyajima survive. One day, a truck comes to take Miyajima away. The little tree is on its way to the National Arboretum in Washington as a gift of friendship from Japan to America. Miyajima is very proud, but also sad to leave the Yamaki family. At the end of the book, Masaru, the elderly grandfather of the family, and his ten-year-old grandson Akira, make a surprise visit to Washington to visit their much missed and beloved family member.

Why I liked this book- This is a great book. It tells the (true!) story of one of the 50 bonsai trees (one for each US state) sent to America as a gesture of friendship. It starts in around 1625, when the tree is plucked as a seedling. The book is compelling. It tells you enough about Miyajima (the tree) and other bonsai to keep you reading, but peaks your interest enough to make you look up more about them! The illustrations are perfect too. They really bring you into the story. I really recommend this book to anyone interested in history, botany, or a good read.

Activities and Resources- You can research Bonsai trees. For a kid-friendly explanation, go HERE!

You can also look up the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum (where Miyajima currently resides) at the National Arboretum HERE!

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Review! Young-hee and the Pullocho by Mark James Russell

1 Oct

young-heeYoung-hee and the Pullocho

Written by Mark James Russell

256 pages – ages 8+

Published by Tuttle Publishing on May 12th 2015

Synopsis- Young-hee hated that her family was back in Korea. They had traveled abroad, but now they were back. Her dad was away and they lived in a run-down apartment. Add her annoying toddler-brother, Young-beom, into the mess, and Young-hee is miserable. But when she finds a doorway into a magical world, her life starts to turn around. When she brings Young-beom there, however, he gets tricked into being held captive by a goblin. To save him, Young-hee must go and travel to find a mysterious magical root called a pullocho. The only problem is that a pullocho hasn’t been seen in centuries…

What I Thought- This was a good book. Young-hee is a marvelous main character. You can really see how her character changes throughout the book, but it is subtle until the end then you realize the growth of the character. The book is a nice solid story with an interesting plot. I found some editing errors in the text throughout the story that are slightly distracting and a few instances where I thought some of the words in the story could be cut. I enjoyed the realistic writing style of Mr. Russell. I liked that he threw in a few Korean words into the story as it is based on Korean folklore. The story was compelling and the world created by Mr. Russell was exciting and described vividly. This was a cool multi-cultural story that many kids would enjoy. This is a debut MG story for Mr. Russell, I’d be quick to pick up his next.

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Review! The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester

28 Sep

shrunkenheadThe Shrunken Head

Series: The Curiosity House (Book #1)

Co-written by Lauren Oliver and H.C. Chester

368 pages – ages 9+

Will be published by HarperCollins on September 29, 2015

Synopsis- In New York City, there is a building. The sign outside reads “Dumfrey’s Dime Museum”, and it has the “Largest Collection of Oddities, the Strangest Assortment of Freaks, and Novel and Astounding Exhibitions Comprising More Than One Thousand Curiosities from Every Portion of the Globe.” In it, lives the performers.

Orphans Sam, Philippa, and Thomas have been raised by Mr. Dumfrey, the owner, along with the other performers. Sam is extremely strong – so strong that he breaks things without even trying. Thomas is a contortionist – it’s like his bones turn to rubber. Philippa is a mentalist – a true one, who, at the least, can see the contents of your pocket. Then an orphan girl named Max shows up – she can throw a knife like nobody’s business, and she’ll make sure it’s not your business! When the Museum’s newest claim to fame is stolen, and people who interacted with it start turning up dead, the kids decide to take things into their own hands, especially when the police start barking up the wrong tree! Can they find the murderer before Mr. Dumfrey gets put into the slammer (on accusations of child-cruelty and possible murder)?

What I Thought- This was a thrilling book. It has a good murder mystery. The book has a rather dark tone to it, but that being said, I rather much enjoyed it and even though there are some heavy subjects in the book (murder) I found the story appropriate for a younger audience too. I think it is a credit to the authors. The characters are top-notch realistic. You really feel for them. It is really cool how the authors bring the story together after setting up the plot. At several points I thought that I knew who was behind it, but the authors added a good amount of twists and turns that I soon was guessing what I thought was true. It was a very fun read. I really enjoyed every minute with the characters, and am happy that there is at least one other book to look forward to.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Swan by Laurel Snyder

25 Sep

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a beautiful nonfiction story.

Swan_jkt_Bologna.inddSwan: The Life and Dance of Anna Pavlova
Written by Laurel Snyder
Illustrations by Julie Morstad
52 pages – ages 6+
Published by Chronicle Books on August 18, 2015

Theme/Topic- Perseverance / Kindness

Genre- Nonfiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: 

“The city is big.
Anna is small.
The snow is
and all around.”

Synopsis: From Goodreads; “One night, her [Anna’s] mother takes her to the ballet, and everything is changed. Anna finds a beauty inside herself that she cannot contain.

So begins the journey of a girl who will one day grow up to be the most famous prima ballerina of all time, inspiring legions of dancers after her: the brave, the generous, the transcendently gifted Anna Pavlova.

Why I liked this book- This is an amazing book! The illustrations are top-notch, and really bring you into the story. They are incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring. The ratio of detail to blank-space is very compelling. The story line itself is a great blend of the biography of Anna Pavlova and emotion-tugging heart-strings. Ms. Snyder puts it in a marvelous free-verse poetry style, with repetition and a rhythmic feeling. This is an amazing book, and one I would definitely recommend to anyone! There is a great balance between learning, and a great story!

Activities and Resources- Learn more about Anna Pavlova HERE.

The author includes a little bit of info in the back for an older reader, if they are interested.

Here is a video of Anna Pavlova in her “Dying Swan” role:

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas

24 Sep

jackieConfessions of an Imaginary Friend – a memoir by Jacques Papier

As told to Michelle Cuevas

176 pages – ages 9+

Published by Dial Books on Dial Books, September 8, 2015

Synopsis- Somewhere in France, there lived an evil wiener dog named François. In François’ house, there lived a young girl named Fleur Papier, and she had a twin brother named Jacques. This book is about Jacques. Jacques is a good brother. Polite, fun, imaginative, and so much more. That is, until Jacques accidentally overhears his parents talking and learns that… Fleur has an imaginary friend. How could she have one, and if anything, not tell him? That wasn’t a nice thing! Well, two can play at that game. But when Jacques’ imaginary friend is huge, and takes up a lot of room, his parents yell out that an imaginary friend having an imaginary friend was “too much imagination” – and that was saying a lot, as they work in the imagination business. Wait. What? Can it be true? That Jacques is… An imaginary friend? Jacques soon realizes it is true, but he has a hard time adjusting. What if that by finding out he was an imaginary friend ends up driving him away from Fleur?

What I Thought- This was an amazing book about learning who you really are. Jacques (who we thinks is based off of Jackie Paper from Puff the Magic Dragon) is a memorable character who tugs at your heart strings. You really feel for him as he realizes that he is really his “sister’s” imaginary friend. The sad thing is, she didn’t even know he was imaginary! At least it explains how no one paid attention to him. Imagine if you were ignored all of your life, and then suddenly find out that you aren’t real. There are some simple illustrations in the book that add a lot to the story. I would really recommend this book to anyone looking for a really meaningful story that makes you think. I think that this book is good for an older audience (at least 12+), as they will get the impact behind it, but the story is all clean, and good for younger kids.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks


Review! Headwinds by Gretchen K. Wing

22 Sep


Series: The Flying Burgowski (Book #2)

By Gretchen K.Wing

288 pages – ages 12+

Published by Madrona Branch Press on November 24th, 2014

Synopsis- The Flying Burgowski…flies…again! Jocelyn Burgowski is pretty happy. Her mom is back on Dalby Island, her brother Michael is [mostly] nice to her, and she flies on an almost regularly basis. What can go wrong? Well, Jocelyn’s mom is (pretty much) seen, as she was forced to land on her boss’ roof. Then at Joss’ birthday party, Michael goes, and tries to fly by jumping off of a cliff. He lives, but is pretty messed up, and in the hospital. Add the fact that there is at least one person on Dalby Island from a strange, ancient cult that was formed pretty much for the purpose of grounding Flyers like Jocelyn and her mom, and Jocelyn has no idea what is going on with her life. There is only a small amount of people on Dalby, but a lot of suspects…

What I Thought- This was a great book! The adventure is fun, and really nails pretty realistically the life of a teenager (even with a flying teenager). The second book in the series catches the reader right up with what is going on. Ms. Wing has a great writing style that really brings you into the story and lets you visualize the setting. You feel for Jocelyn as she is trying to figure out who is trying to bring the Flyers down. Her character is believable and well-developed. The book has a thrilling plot that keeps you on the edge of your beanbag chair (which is a hard thing). I really hope that there is a book three, but this book ended well giving the reader a satisfying feeling.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Pool by JiHyeon Lee

19 Sep

Sorry I’m late about this! School got in the way! ;)

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because I am a fan of really well done wordless picture books!


By JiHyeon Lee
56 pages – ages 3+
Published by Chronicle Books on May 5, 2015

Theme/Topic- Imagination/Creativity/Friendship

Genre- Fiction/Wordless

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “” [Wordless]

Synopsis: From Goodreads; “What happens when two shy children meet at a very crowded pool? Dive in to find out! Deceptively simple, this masterful book tells a story of quiet moments and surprising encounters, and reminds us that friendship and imagination have no bounds.

Why I liked this book-  This is a marvelous wordless picture book. It really encompasses unlikely friendships and the creativity in them, as such. Ms. Lee is a great artist. Her art masterfully tells a story that is an inspiring adventure. The artwork is just stunning. The illustrations show that, with friends, you can do anything, and have a lot of fun. The art makes great use of white space, and has a really cool vibe to them. I recommend this book, and I look forward to more books by Ms. Lee.

Activities and Resources-

Take an ordinary circumstance, and then create something amazing from it, much like the MC in this book.

Try telling a story in only pictures. Kids can draw their own pictures or cut them out of magazines. Paste them together to make a story of your own.

You can get free wallpaper images of the book from Chronicle books – click HERE

There is also a great blog post over at Chronicle about how to read wordless picture books with kids – click HERE

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Dot Day 2015!

16 Sep

Hi Blogosphere! Guess what day it is?

That’s right! It’s  INTERNATIONAL DOT DAY!!!!

Okay, well it’s actually September 15th-ish and I already had a post scheduled yesterday so I am taking advantage of the “ish” part. ;)

As (via Peter H. Reynolds, author of “The Dot”) states: “

Celebrate Creativity, Courage & Collaboration!

Imagine the power and potential of millions of people around the world connecting, collaborating, creating and celebrating all that creativity inspires and invites. I hope you will join the growing global community of creativity champions using their talents, gifts and energy to move the world to a better place.”

Dot Day is a day celebrating creativity. It was created for the purpose of bringing people together. So, on that theme, and I was feeling a bit mathematical today, I give you my dot.


Thank you for reading my post! For more information, visit the official website HERE!

Review! The Glass Gauntlet by Carter Roy and GIVEAWAY!!!

15 Sep

glassgauntletThe Glass Gauntlet

Series: The Blood Guard (Book #2)

Written by Carter Roy

272 pages – ages 9+

Published by Two Lions on August 18th, 2015

Synopsis- Ronan is a new member of the Blood Guard. They protect certain souls (called “Pures”), that, if unbalanced, could destroy the world. The Bend Sinister, the bad guys, for some odd reason really want to unbalance the Pures. Ronan and his friends, one of whom is unknowingly a Pure, are going to a sort of maniacal testing, and are trying to find an ancient device that can put a Pure’s soul back into their body while at the testing site. Will they succeed?

What I Thought- This was a really unique book. I didn’t read the first book in the series, but  this book gives you the main details needed so you aren’t lost. I think any series that you can pick up the books out of order and still get what is going on is a sign of great writing. Mr. Roy created a fun series. The characters are realistic, and it was a cool twist (I think it happened in book #1) that Ronan’s mom is a good guy, but his dad is the head of the bad guys. That made it interesting. Mr. Roy has a riveting plot and an interesting way that defines the magic in the book. There is a lot of action in the story that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

If you want to win a copy of this amazing book, all you need is to comment between now and September 21! I will announce the winner on September 22, next Tuesday. US entries only.

Perfect Picture Book Friday! I Thought This Was A Bear Book by Tara Lazar

11 Sep

Perfect Picture Book Friday is Back! Let’s start this off right with a book from the one and only TARA LAZAR!


Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is a fun fractured fairy tale story!

taralazarbearI Thought This Was A Bear Book
Written by Tara Lazar
Illustrations by Benji Davies
32 pages – ages 5+
Published by Aladdin on August 4th, 2015

Theme/Topic- Fractured Fairytales

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Once upon a time there were three bears.”

Synopsis: From Goodreads; “After an unfortunate bookcase collapse, Alien suddenly finds himself jolted out of his story and into a very strange world, complete with talking bears. Desperate to return to his book, Alien asks the Bear family for help so he can get back to his story and save his beloved Planet Zero from total destruction before it’s too late.
Mama Bear and Papa Bear try all kinds of zany contraptions (with some help from their nemesis, Goldilocks) without much luck. Baby Bear might have the perfect solution to get the Alien out of the woods and back to his planet…but will anyone listen to the littlest voice in the story?

Why I liked this book- Ms. Lazar is a great picture book writer. (I reviewed her picture book “The Monstore” HERE.) I love the story idea for this book! It will have kids and adults giggling uncontrollably! Prince Zilch, the Alien, is a funny character who needs to get back to Planet Zero to save it from ultimate destruction! He seems so out of place in the Bear’s book! Mr. Davies’ illustrations are spot on and fit perfectly into the story! The writing was funny and clever. This is the kind of book that you can read over and over again. This story is perfect for bed times, and any times!

Activities and Resources- This book is a giant fractured fairy tale, because some books fell on the floor, and the characters got jumbled up. Why don’t you take some random [picture] books, and jumble THEIR characters together? What would happen? How would they handle the problem?

Ask your kids what would happen if the alien landed in the Three Little Pigs book or an Elephant and Piggy book?

There is so much fun to be had here!

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!


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