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Review! Dom’s Thanksgiving Catch by Saeeda Ruffin-Daniels

21 Nov

domscatchDom’s Thanksgiving Catch

Written by Saeeda Ruffin-Daniels

Illustrated by Malena Bonilla

26 pages – ages 7+

Published by MISA Publishing on October 8, 2015

Synopsis- When Dom is at school, and his teacher starts asking about what they’re having for Thanksgiving, he gets embarrassed when he blurts out “Fish”. Dom’s father lost his job, so they can’t get a turkey or any other “normal” holiday food. To cover for his “blunder” Dom accidentally invites his teacher over for Thanksgiving dinner, and anyone in his class that wants to come. Now, Dom has a problem on his hands. His family usually doesn’t have enough to feed the three of them. What about their guests?

What I Thought- This was a sweet book. I liked that it deals with real problems that can occur to anybody, such as job loss, embarrassment, homelessness, etc. Dom is a nice kid, and you understand his problems. I found it cool that the fish multiplied, and am assuming it is referencing the Bible story of the fish multiplying but it doesn’t out right say it. It gives a nice message that anyone of any faith can relate to.  The illustrations are nice, and they show a diverse cast of characters. The book is not a picture book but an illustrated short story. I also like the message of service to others and helping in any way you can. I enjoyed this book – it’s a short story about serving others and having faith that all will work out.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Ramses Rat and the Great Cat Bastet by Sally Odgers

17 Nov

ramses_ratRamses Rat and the Great Cat Bastet

Written by Sally Odgers

Illustrated by Dushko Zafirovski

62 pages – ages 6+

Published by Prints Charming Books on September 18, 2015

Synopsis- Ramses Rat was a young rat who lived in Ancient Egypt. When he outgrew his nest in a V.I.P. (a Very Important Pyramid), he leaves to find a new home in the city. Ramses sees a temple of the Great Cat Bastet, and decides that it would be a nice, safe place to live. But on his way to try to enter through a rat-sized tunnel, a small group of rats stop him, and threaten him. That only serves to make Ramses want to get into the temple even more!

What I Thought- This was a fun book. I enjoyed reading about Ramses’ adventures. They are unique and will have kids interested. I liked the illustrations. They will remind kids of comics or cartoons. They complete the scenery of the world, and bring you into the story. The book is a nice early reader chapter book. It has 15 chapters, but they are a good lengths for beginning readers. This book is a basic story of anti-bullying (the mean rats won’t let Ramses through, they want to kick out all of the rats, etc) with a cool twist. I think that teachers will like this book for that message, and the fact that they can teach a bit of history into the book, with how they lived in Ancient Egypt. Overall, this is a fun book with a nice message!

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Review! Frankie Dupont and The High Seas Heist by Julie Anne Grasso

26 Oct

frankie4Frankie Dupont and The High Seas Heist

Series: Frankie Dupont: Book #4

Written by Julie Anne Grasso

Illustrated by Alexander Avellino

131 pages – ages 7+

Published by Julie Anne Grasso on September 16th, 2015

Synopsis- Frankie Dupont is back in another adventure! When Frankie’s detective dad gets an invitation to go on a sea cruise to Antarctica for a case, he gets three other tickets to go on the cruise. Because Mrs. Dupont already had plans to visit a relative, that means that Frankie and his friends can come along! On the cruise, they learn that the famous chocolate-maker hosting the cruise is planning on unveiling her new recipe for a special chocolate. It turns out that she is scared of her recipe being stolen by famous chocolate thieves that have stolen secret recipes from other companies and mysteriously been making a fortune on their small store. The only thing is, is that they have never been caught in the act. Add in the fact that one of the thieves might be the chocolate-maker’s daughter, and you have an adventure at your fingertips!

What I Thought- Ms. Grasso knows how to write a good mystery for kids. Her Frankie Dupont stories are appropriate for all ages and are skillfully written to give an older reader a compelling mystery. Frankie is a great character that has a knack for getting to the bottom of things! Kat and Amy are realistic friends for Frankie, too. In book 4, Inspector Cluesome’s character seems to have developed from a bungling detective into one with some skills. I like when series develop characters over time. The black-and-white illustrations are nice addition to the story and connect very well with the text. Ms. Grasso has done a great job continuing the Frankie series! My only complaint is now I am hungry after reading about all that chocolate…

I give “Frankie Dupont and The High Seas Heist” five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Halloween Picks!

25 Oct

I know, it’s Sunday. I’m late. I’m busy. But HEY! – better late than never right? Here’s some Halloween Picks and my SPOOKTACULAR a perfect picture book pick.

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 these books because it is almost Halloween – I love the illustrations and  this story is very sweet.

otterhalloweenOtter Loves Halloween!
By Sam Garton
32 pages – ages 5+
Published by Balzer + Bray on July 21st, 2015

Theme/Topic- Halloween

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Halloween is the best holiday ever! Teddy and I had been waiting a very long time for Halloween. There were lots of things we had to do to get ready.

Synopsis: From Goodreads; “Hi! I am Otter.

Halloween is the best holiday ever! It is also a very busy time for me and Teddy: We have to pick pumpkins, decorate the house, and make scary costumes. With so much to do, it’s a good thing I’m a Halloween expert!”

Why I liked this book- Otter is really cute. That is my main reason for picking this up. I was also really happy to read this great story. Otter is an awesome character, that has many qualities of a young child. The book has great illustrations that have a cartoony / whimsical feel, with bits of humor laced into them.

Activities and Resources- Make your own Halloween costumes and decorations! Be creative – can you reuse anything around the house in new ways? Can you recycle and combine old Halloween costumes to make a new one?

Facing Halloween fears: talk about facing large crowds, and what to do when you feel overwhelmed (Otter is scared of the trick-or-treaters when they come). Make sure children are ready for scary costumes or images. Host a kid-friendly Halloween party having the kids dress up like their favorite storybook character.

Check out the book’s trailer!

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

Here are some more great Halloween picks!

petepumpkinsPete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins
By James Dean
32 pages – ages 6+
Published by HarperCollins on July 21st, 2015

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Five little pumpkins

sitting on a gate.

Synopsis: From Goodreads; “Pete the Cat takes on the classic favorite children’s song “Five Little Pumpkins” in New York Times bestselling author James Dean’s Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins. Join Pete as he rocks out to this cool adaptation of the classic Halloween song!”

Why I liked this book- This is a fun Pete the Cat book! Kids will love to sing along to this, and grooving along with Pete! The illustrations will have kids smiling a mile wide, and then some. The Pete the Cat books are a fun mix of songs and writing. You can’t go wrong with a Pete the Cat book!

clarkdarkClark the Shark: Afraid of the Dark
Written by Bruce Hale
Illustrated by Guy Francis

32 pages – ages 6+
Published by HarperCollins on September 8th, 2015

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Clark the Shark looked over his list.

Synopsis: From Goodreads; “Clark the Shark is ready for his first big sleepover! He’s nervous about sleeping outside without his glow-fish night-light, but he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s just a teeny-tiny bit afraid of the dark. So Clark makes up a rhyme to help him stay cool: “Take heart, be smart, sharks aren’t afraid of the dark.”

But when the sun sets and his friends begin telling spooky stories, Clark’s voice sounds quiet and small and not brave at all. In this empowering tale about conquering nighttime fears, Clark the Shark learns how friendship can help light the way through the dark.

Why I liked this book- I really like the Clark the Shark series. Mr. Hale does a good job of describing the average young elementary school student’s life in the books. Clark is a very realistic character. I really like the humor in the illustrations (the game “Whirlpool” instead of “Twister”). In this book Clark has o deal with his fear of the dark. While this isn’t a Halloween book, it does deal with a subject little kids have to face on Halloween and I think it would be helpful to get kids to talk about their fears.

peekabooPeek-a BOO!
By Nina Laden
22 pages – ages 3+
Published by Chronicle Books on August 18th 2015

Opening and Synopsis- Opening[over two pages]: “Peek-a


Synopsis: From Goodreads; “In this third title in Nina Laden’s Peek-a series, the classic game of peekaboo becomes spookily fun! Colorful pictures and lively, rhyming text—featuring bats, jack-o’-lanterns, and ghosts galore—help children predict what is peeking through die-cut windows. Read the clue…guess the rhyme…giggle wildly…and repeat!

Why I liked this book- I like the inter-activeness of this board book. There are little peep-holes to look through and guess what is on the other side. I love the word play on Peek a Boo and how it is adapted to a Halloween theme. Take a look at the illustration sequence below. It’s really quite fun to read aloud. Young kids will love this book!


Review! The Land Without Color by Benjamin Ellefson

15 Oct

nocolorThe Land Without Color

Written by Benjamin Ellefson

Illustrated by Kevin Cannon

164 pages – ages 8+

Will be published by Beaver’s Pond Press in December 2015

Synopsis- From the author’s website: “In this whimsical adventure, twelve-year-old Alvin finds himself in a strange land where all of the color is missing and everything is gray. The trees, animals, and even people are all gray. Teaming up with Permy the talking squirrel and Ronaldo the Spanish speaking mouse, Alvin must find the color-stealing Goblins, battle man-eating plants, outsmart the bumbling Crimson Guards, cross the Sugar Desert, and the overcome the two-headed dragon to save the twin princesses Gwendolyn and Sapphire. If they can succeed and find their way into the Color Factory, Alvin will discover the value of eating your vegetables and learn the true culprit behind the missing color.

What I Thought- Mr. Ellefson has written a marvelous debut novel. The story has a fairy tale feel to it with a modern main character. Alvin is a character kids can relate to and they will enjoy reading about his adventures in the Kingdom of Color.  Mr. Ellefson created a believable world with enough background in the story to make the reader understand how the Kingdom of Color got into trouble but without unnecessary text that would slow the story down. I particularly liked reading the descriptions of the Kingdom of Color. Mr. Ellefson made up a pretty silly, fun world and unique characters that live in it. I think the reading level is appropriate for kids 8+ but older children will enjoy the story and it would make a great read aloud for younger kids. I found Ellefson’s writing smooth and engaging which made the story all the more fun to read. The only thing I’d change is the cover – it’s all in color. I’m thinking only part of it should be – but that’s just one kid’s opinion. ;) Overall the story kept my interest and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Considering this is Ellefson’s first novel, I will be looking for more from this author.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Recap of #StarWarsReads Day – Star Wars Epic Yarns by Jack & Holman Wang

14 Oct

Before I get to today’s post, I get to announce that LAUREN has won the Diva and Flea Prize pack generously donated by Disney Publishing! Congratulations! I will be emailing you to get the address you will like your prize sent to. If you missed my review of this great book by Mo Willems and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi – click HERE to check it out.

DivaFriendshipPrizeNOW ON TO TODAY’S POST!


On Saturday, October 10th, there was a convergence of the force in Bloomsburg Pennsylvania. This epic event was centered at the Columbia County Traveling Library’s home base. The reason: Star Wars Reads Day!

swr5You may recognize the Sith Apprentice to the left of Lord Vader. ;) Besides being a HUGE bibliophile, I am also a HUGE Star Wars fan so this event is something I look forward to each year. I am a member of the Galactic Academy, the junior Star Wars costuming club for fans (you have to be 18 to join the 501st Legion – the world-wide Star Wars costuming club).

The library asked me to do story time at Star Wars Reads Day this year. I was very excited about it. I chose to read the Epic Yarn books by Jack and Holman Wang.

swd2swd3Things went pretty well, but the Jawa kept stealing my light saber and was plotting to nab Boba Fett’s blaster. I think she was selling them on the galactic black market. The Imperial Guard kept startling the head librarian but at least he kept the Jawa in line. Here is a secret – the Jawa is my little sister Josie.  She is a member of the Galactic Academy too. ;)


Besides story time, the library had crafts, a trivia game, cookies (the dark side always loves cookies) and BOOKS!

A great time was had by all!


To learn more about Star Wars Reads Day, visit the official Facebook page HERE.

To learn more about the Columbia County Traveling Library, visit their page HERE.

Now more about these awesome Epic Yarn books!

When I saw these books, I was amazed. They are board books with only one word per page (meant for the youngest of readers – but WOW – one word per page and the photo illustrations tell the entire Star Wars story in 24 pages per book. What is even more amazing is that the photo illustrations are of felt figures staged on mini movie sets, all created by twin brothers Jack and Holman Wang.

epicyarnTo learn more about the process of creating these figures and the sets  that go along with  them, Chronicle Books has a very interesting blog post about it, click HERE to go THERE! The three books tell the tale of the original trilogy.

epicyarns2Star Wars Epic Yarns Series
24 pages (each book) – ages PreK+
Published by Chronicle Books on April 14, 2015

Publisher’s Summary – Share your love of Star Wars with your baby! In twelve needle-felted scenes and twelve child-friendly words, rediscover the iconic moments you know and love. Simple words, sturdy pages, and an epic story make these books the perfect vehicle for early learning at lightspeed. Jedi apprentices and little princesses alike will delight in this (heart)felt retelling of the Star Wars trilogy made just for them!

What I thought – This was an amazing book series – I never knew one word could tell so much! When I read them to the group of kids at Star Wars Reads Day, we had a discussion about each page and what is happening in the photo illustration. It was a lot of fun. Probably my favorite scene is where it shows Vader leaning over the bridge-thing in Cloud City, and the one word is “Father”, because it summed up one of the biggest plot twists in movie history (I may be a bit biased) with just one word. The felt figures are extremely detailed, and make it seem like you are watching clips from the movie. Mr. & Mr. Wang have created a boardbook masterpiece! It belongs in the home of any parent or child who loves Star Wars.

I give this series five out of five bookworms!fivebooks


The Story of #DivaandFlea – Review, Giveaway, Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi!

7 Oct

I am very excited to tell you about this book! In case you are wondering about the title to this post, I am not giving away Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi BUT I am giving away a cool prize pack to celebrate this collaboration of these two titans of children’s literature (read to the bottom to see how to win a prize pack provided by Disney Publishing)!

DivaandFleaCoverThe Story of Diva and Flea
Written by Mo Willems
Illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi
80 pages – ages 6+
Published by Disney-Hyperion on October 13, 2015

About the Book: (from the publisher)

Diva, a small yet brave dog, and Flea, a curious streetwise cat, develop an unexpected friendship in this unforgettable tale of discovery.

For as long as she could remember, Diva lived at 11 avenue Le Play in Paris, France. For as long as he could remember, Flea also lived in Paris, France–but at no fixed address. When Flea flâneurs past Diva’s courtyard one day, their lives are forever changed. Together, Diva and Flea explore and share their very different worlds, as only true friends can do.

What I thought: This was an amazing book! I thought it was really cool how Mr. Willems partnered with Tony DiTerlizzi because he was searching for the perfect illustrations for his story. It is a great transition book for kids moving up from picture books or early readers. There is a nice contrast of words and pictures that make the 80 pages go by in a breeze. There is a lot of humor in the book, like Flea telling Diva to say “Meow”, and Flea’s pronunciation of words. I was also happy to see one Pigeon book reference, on a poster at the subway scene. That made me smile while I was reading it. I think that as a whole, Mr. Willems and Mr. DiTerlizzi make a fantastic team. I would be thrilled to see more of their collaborations! I really enjoyed reading this great story of friendship! I found it pretty neat that Diva and Flea are real animals in France.

About the Author


Mo Willems (, a number one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, has been awarded a Caldecott Honor on three occasions (for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity). Dont Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! was also an inaugural inductee into the Indies Choice Picture Book Hall of Fame. The celebrated Elephant & Piggie early-reader series has been awarded the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal on two occasions (for There Is a Bird on Your Head! and Are You Ready to Play Outside?) as well as garnering four Honors (for We Are in a Book!, I Broke My Trunk!, Let’s Go for a Drive! and A Big Guy Took My Ball!).


About the Illustrator


Tony DiTerlizzi (, a number-one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, created the middle-grade series The Spiderwick Chronicles with Holly Black, which has sold millions of copies, been translated into more than 30 languages and made into a feature film. He won a Caldecott Honor for illustrating The Spider & The Fly, and in 2014 he teamed up with Lucasfilm to retell the original Star Wars trilogy in a picture book featuring artwork by Academy award-winning concept artist, Ralph McQuarrie. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts with his wife, daughter and dog, Mimi.

Want to learn more?

Click HERE to be transported over to the Disney Publishing website for Diva and Flea.

Find out more on at

Follow Disney on Twitter and Instagram

Follow Mo Willems on Twitter

Follow Tony DiTerlizzi on Twitter and Instagram

Check out this video where Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi talk about their collaboration!
I personally found the video very cool because it talks about how Mo Willems had a story but he couldn’t draw it correctly so he sought out an illustrator who could draw the story as he envisioned. As it turns out Mr. DiTerlizzi added much more to the story through his illustrations.


One insanely lucky blog commenter will be randomly picked from all people who make a comment on this post to win this prize pack provided by Disney Publishing (US residents only please)!

DivaFriendshipPrizeAll you have to do is comment and tell me why you are excited to experience this book! On October 14th I will announce one winner randomly drawn for all the comments. Good luck and thank you for reading my blog!

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

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!


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