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Double Play Review! “Lowriders In Space” and “The Thing With No Head”

18 Dec

Today I give you very different (but yet awesome in their own way) illustrated books!


Lowriders in Space
By Cathy Camper
Illustrated by Raul the Third
112 pages – ages 8+
Published by Chronicle Books on November 4, 2014

Synopsis- All Lupe Impala, El Chavo Flapjack, and Elirio Malaria want is a car garage of their own, to run their own business. They especially like working on and creating “lowriders,” a funky type of car that hip-hops down the road. When they see a car show that offers an amazing prize – a carload of cash! – they start to design a car that is out of this world. Will they win the prize and get their dream of owning their own garage?

What I Thought- Okay, I will admit I was not the least bit interested in this book when it came to me as a review copy. I am not into cars and had no idea what a lowrider was, but I can’t resist a graphic novel so I cracked it open. This is a cool graphic novel. The characters are Mexican-American, so they speak a little Spanish, which also has the English translation. The fact it is a comic focused on the Latino culture is a nice find.  I learned some new Spanish words and phrases. The characters are great role models, working together to reach a goal (plus they are male and female – working on cars). The illustrations are cool, mostly done in red, black, and white, with some other basic colors added. The illustrations flow well with the story. This is an excellent choice for those looking for a multicultural book and anyone looking for a good story with strong characters. This is a great graphic novel that is very unique!

thethingThe Thing With No Head
By Mark Fearing
Available as an iBook HERE
26 pages – ages 8+
Published by Mark Fearing on Oct 20, 2014
Print Length: 26 Pages

Synopsis- A thing with no head invaded a small town and it is such a terror! Or is it?

What I Liked- Okay, I will admit I was all over this one when I got a review copy – a weird, quirky picture book is the thing for me! I was not disappointed with it. I was happy to also find a nice story in the book. It is a story about assumptions and how they can be wrong – you can’t judge a book by it’s cover or a Thing by its head missing head. The story and illustrations have a weird, dark-ish feel to them in an Adamms Family kind of way, but on the other hand, the story is sweet. The black and white sketch illustrations are perfect for the book and the cover is awesome.  Mr. Fearing has written a great story in rhyme about a kid who makes friends with a “horrid” headless beast. The boy and the beast have fun together and accept each other, even though everyone else is scared of the beast and want it to be gone. I think the book is a different kind of picture book – very cool! I hope to see more like this one from Mr. Fearing.

Five bookworms for both of these brilliant books!fivebooks

Review and Interview! All About China by Allison “Aixin” Branscombe

13 Dec

chinaAll About China: Stories, Songs, Crafts, and More for Kids

By Allison “Aixin” Branscombe

Illustrations by Lin Wang

64 pages (hardcover) – ages 7+

Published by Tuttle Publishing on November 11, 2014

Synopsis- From Amazon: “Take the whole family on a whirlwind tour of Chinese history and culture with this delightfully illustrated book that is packed with stories, activities and games. Travel from the stone age through the dynasties to the present day with songs and crafts for kids that will teach them about Chinese language and the Chinese way of life.”

What I liked- This is a great activity-filled ,information PACKED book that teaches you about life as it  is and was in China. It talks about the dynasties of China, daily life in China, games and traditions of China, and much more! There is a huge diversity in the things to read about. Ms. Branscombe has written a wonderful encyclopedia-like resource. Lin Wang’s illustrations bring the book to life. They are realistic and captivating. I could see schools or homeschool families using this book to teach a whole unit on China.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks


Now for an interview with the author, Allison “Aixin” Branscombe!

Erik: All About China is packed with all sorts of information about the country. How did you go about researching the book and how long did it take you to do it?

Ms. Branscombe: This book is the result of about 15 years of research!  At first, I did not know I was going to write a book, I just wanted to learn about China after I adopted my daughters.  It happened over time, as I wrote about China for the Families with Children from China Newsletter and other articles I wrote, help set up and run playgroups and crafts fairs.  I am a curious person, and  I made friends with people in the Chinese American community through my kids’ school, the local Chinese Culture Foundation, the Organization of Chinese Americans and other groups.  I also bought lots of books on Chinese culture for all ages of readers!

Erik: I was amazed at the amount of information you put into 62 pages and how well-organized it is. What part of the book was the most difficult to write?

Ms. Branscombe: Thank you!  Part of the “big picture” organization came from the publisher, Tuttle, which  has published other books in the series (All About Korea, Japan and Indonesia). However, I added some of my own categories, and made the organization work for what I wanted readers to know.   The part that was the most difficult to write was the information on the dynasties and inventions, because I had “word budgets” of about 100 to 200 words on each dynasty (and I only had room for a few dynasties).  It was tough to choose what was most important to include, to boil it  down and make it interesting for the reader.

Erik: What surprised you most when you did your research?

Ms. Branscombe: Great question!  Because of all the people who have researched China before, and written about it in English, there have been some inaccurate translations from the original Chinese words.  Sorting out which version was most authentic was sometimes difficult.  Having Chinese experts to consult was very helpful to me.

Erik: You are the adoptive mother of two children from China (just so you know, I am adopted too ;) ), and it says in the author description in the book that you wrote this book to help your children know about their heritage. Do you have any tips for other adoptive parents on how to connect their children with their heritage?

Ms. Branscombe: Just what you and I are doing:  read, read, and read some more!  And make friends with people of your children’s heritage because they have lived it and can be a fantastic bridge to understanding.  Besides getting to know Chinese and other Asian American adults, I made opportunities to get to know some adult adoptees of all different backgrounds. The adult adoptees can be great guides to understanding and discussing some of the cultural, adoptive and racial issues faced by our children.  Helping their kids connect with something special in their birth heritage is really helpful also, whether it is through language learning, sports (such as the Asian sports leagues, tai chi, gong fu), dance, music, cooking, art/painting, or similar efforts helps the child get more personal insights into their heritage.  Plus, it is fun!  Who does not want their horizons broadened?

Erik: Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to tell my blog readers about?

Ms. Branscombe: I don’t have anything concrete in the works.  I am pondering a specific Chinese crafts-only workbook for kids. On a completely different subject, I am thinking about a book for kids on how to stand up for themselves and educate other kids when they get both friendly and mean questions about differences, such being adopted, having a physical, health or learning challenge, and other things kids must deal with.

Thank for you reviewing my book and sharing your thoughts and my experiences with your readers.

Thank you, Ms. Branscombe! I really appreciate you doing this interview with me!

Review! Chik Chak Shabbat by Mara Rocklif

13 Dec

The elves at my blog seem to have stolen the post from yesterday (okay, I got really busy and I completely forgot to post this review). So – better late than never!

This is a great picture book I picked up at the Litiz Kid and Teen Literature Festival I went to last month. I met the author, Mara Rockliff there and I am happy I got her book Chik Chak Shabbat!

chickchakChik Chak Shabbat
By Mara Rockliff
Illustrations by Kristen Brooker
32 pages – ages PreK+
Published by Candlewick on September 3, 2014

Theme/Topic- Shabbat/diversity/friends

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening – “Every Saturday, a wonderful smell wafted from apartment 5-A.

Synopsis – Amazon’s Description: “When Goldie Simcha doesn’t joyfully throw open her door to welcome everyone in to her apartment for a meal of her famous cholent, her neighbors wonder what could be wrong. Little Lali Omar knocks on the door to 5-A, only to learn that Goldie was feeling too sick on Friday to cook, and everyone knows you can’t make cholent in a hurry, right away, chik chak! But it just isn’t Shabbat without cholent. What can her neighbors do to save the day?”

Why I liked this book- Ms. Rockliff has written a wonderful story about a lady celebrating the Jewish Sabbath. The story doesn’t focus on religion but rather tradition, making friends and sharing a meal. It is a beautiful story, one that gives you a nice feeling inside. The illustrations are gorgeous, and really lend to the story. They portray the feelings of all of the characters realistically. This story is one of friendship, and of a caring community. I really like it. The book explains what cholent is and there even is a recipe in the back of the book to make it. This is a great choice for Hanukkah or just a wonderful book about tradition and community.

Five bookworms!fivebooks

This book was nominated as a Perfect Picture Book (if it wasn’t already, I’d be doing it again ;) ) over at Sally’s Bookshelf – click HERE to read it. To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!




Review! Gifts from the Enemy by Trudy Ludwig

11 Dec

giftsfromGifts from the Enemy

By Trudy Ludwig

Illustrated by Craig Orback

32 pages – ages 8+

Published by White Cloud Press on June 17, 2014

Opening – “There are those who say that what I’ve lived through never happened. But I’m here to tell you that it did. My name is Alter Wiener and I am an ordinary person with an extraordinary past.

Synopsis- from the inside jacket – “In this true and moving story, Alter Wiener, a teen survivor of five Nazi prison camps during WW II, transports young readers back in time when an unexpected person demonstrated moral courage in repeated acts of kindness toward him.

What I Liked- This was a very well-written, important book. It deals with a very harsh topic in an amazing way. The story is enough for younger  kids to understand the horror of the Holocost and the suggested activities, glossary, discussion questions and information included in the back of the book is a great addition for older kids.  The fact that a female German helps Alter is very dangerous, and the fact that she didn’t have to do it and risked her life doing it, makes Alter (and the reader) all the more grateful for the act. This story is written from Alter Weiner’s point of view as a holocaust survivor and is incredibly moving. The illustrations are stunning. The story is kind of sweet, in a very sad way. It shows how terrible people can be, and yet how wonderful too.

I give this wonderful book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

Patricia Tilton reviewed and nominated this book as a perfect picture book. Check her review out HERE

Want to learn more? Check out Ms. Ludwig’s website HERE.

Review! The Eighth Day by Dianne K. Salerni

8 Dec

8thdayThe Eighth Day

Series: The Eighth Day (Book 1)

By Dianne K. Salerni

320 pages – ages 8+

Published by HarperCOllins on April 22, 2014

Synopsis- Jax Aubrey hated his eighteen-year-old ignorant guardian, Riley Pendare, and the town that he now lived in. He started living with Riley after Jax’s dad died (his mom died years before). Jax wished he could leave the stupid town and everyone in it forever. But when Jax wakes up one morning, and nobody is in town, not a single soul, he panics. This wasn’t what he meant! Where was everyone? But, the next day, everyone was back, and nobody knew that anything weird happened. Then, next week, it happened again. Jax soon learns there is an eighth day of the week in a different time-frame, and only certain people can traverse between the two. Jax live in both the normal 7 days and in the 8th day. Other people only lived on the eighth day. As it turns out, Jax, along with his not-so-clueless guardian, Riley, are protectors of one of the 8th day people, Evangeline. Evangeline is hiding from evil men (who also live in the eighth day) that want to get rid of the normal days and everyone in them, and replace it with only the eighth day. Jax’s days just got a lot more complicated!

What I Liked- This is one of those wild, crazy-good books that make you feel like you got off an awesome roller coaster when you get done with it. Ms. Salerni has written a one-of-a-kind exciting, and fun adventure book. The best part is that the writing is so well done that the story hangs together well and everything clicks. There is a cool setting that makes you feel like you are there with Jax. The idea of the eighth day is a creepy, yet cool, phenomenon. Imagine what could happen in a day, but to normal folk, it would happen in a minute. A lot of things can happen in a day. Lots of things could go wrong. I think it was a nice touch to have references to the Arthurian legends – as a fan of the legends, I really appreciated that.  I really liked connecting the dots in the story to figure out who was who. Jax is a realistic, normal tween whom you can relate to. Riley, his guardian, ends up being pretty cool, too. I sincerely hope that there is a sequel!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! You Are NOT Small by Anna Kang

5 Dec

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 giant very tall (5’9″) and a classmate of mine is around 4 feet tall, and this book gets the debate about who is big and who is NOT small right!

yournotsmallYou Are NOT Small
By Anna Kang
Illustrations by Christopher Weyant
32 pages – ages 2+
Published by Two Lions on August 5, 2014

Theme/Topic- Differences/Perspective

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening – “You are small

Synopsis – From Goodreads: Two fuzzy creatures can’t agree on who is small and who is big, until a couple of surprise guests show up, settling it once and for all!

Why I liked this book- This book not only has a great lesson about perspective and debate, is also hilarious! The story shows the reader there are many ways of looking at something. Just because something is small to you doesn’t mean it is small. It isn’t preachy at – all just fun! The story is completely dialogue, but still gives a full feeling, even with only around 90 words in the whole book! The illustrations are simple, but are great to look at (and the fuzzy bear-like creatures are really cute).



The story points out that we really have to think about how we see things (or people (or fuzzy bear things)). The ending is awesome because it involves getting a snack after settling an argument. :) This is a great book!

Activities and Resources- 

I think a good activity for this book is to take a story and change the perspective. For example re-tell the 3 Little Pigs from the perspective of the pig building his house out of sticks. Maybe he had a bad back and couldn’t lift bricks, or he just couldn’t afford the bricks. ;)

Have your kids or students draw a picture of a tree (or whatever else in nature – it doesn’t really matter) as they see it and then how an ant would see it. Then ask how are the pictures different and how are they the same.

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




Creative Kid Thursday: Guest Review by Josie! Ben 10 Omniverse: Ghost Ship #1

4 Dec

Welcome to another edition of Creative Kid Thursday!

Today my guest kid reviewer is my sister Josie! :D

Before I get to her review, I wanted to say congratulations to her because she achieved an awesome goal. Josie came in third place in points for the year in her class at the go-kart track she races at!!! This is very cool considering this is her first full year of racing. YAY!


Notice who sponsors her kart – right underneath the #100 ;)

I am very proud of her. She has some awesome racing skills (something I want no part of – it looks terrifying – I am happy being part of the pit crew. ;) ).


The karts go up to 50mph!




bentenBen 10 Omniverse: Ghost Ship #1

By Cory Levine

Art by Alan Brown

64 pages – ages 8+

Published by Viz Media first printing 2013

Summary (from Amazon) BEN 10 is one of the best-selling boy’s action franchises of all time! OMNIVERSE brings together the best of all Ben 10 series with new adventures in both the past and present, new villains and all new mysteries!

For more than five years, Ben Tennyson has been saving the universe with his Omnitrix, which allows him to use the DNA of aliens to take on heroic new forms. But he’s never encountered a challenge quite like this! Teamed up with a new partner, Rook, who seriously needs to relax, Ben investigates the mysteries of a hidden underground alien city and has to battle a new enemy, Khyber, who has only one thing on his mind: hunting down Ben 10!

Ben and Rook investigate a distress call that lands them on a stranded space ship with a secret…and puts them right where Khyber wants them, trapped with no way out while he and his shape-shifting dog hunt them down. Now Ben’s got to get off a ship that’s falling out of space, save himself and his partner from Khyber’s dog, and figure out the mystery of the “Ghost Ship!”

What Josie Thought - I really like Ben 10 cartoons. I think he is a good character. The book is pretty great. This book is about a cartoon of Ben 10 I saw. It was the same, but I liked reading the cartoon in the book. I actually like the pictures in this book better than in the cartoon. I think I like the whole book better. I like the story too. It is pretty exciting. I think other kids my age will like this book (I am ten). I don’t like that they say Ben 10 is for boys in the thing on Amazon. I am a girl and I love  Ben 10. I think other girls do too.

I will give this book five bookworms. fivebooks

I have another book that I want to tell you about too. It is very cool so I want to tell you about it. It is this one.

catbugBravest Warriors: The Search for Catbug
Edited by Joel Enos
Art by Alan McGinty, Ian Howell, Corin Lau, Fawn Hunt, Rachel Warburton, Mr. Turner, Zack Ciurczak, Dan Hillburn, Becca Monlongo, Jorge Lovett, Nate Smith, Brian Ferguson, Lee Smart, Jamie Campidelli, Maurizio Ry-Spirit, C Samantha Cummings, Matt Kuhn, Jeremy Leong, Sonia Fukuda Trant, Inori Chao, Jon Rupert, Mao Stanton, Domo Brown
64 pages – ages 7+
Published by Perfect Square on August 19, 2014

Summary from Goodreads:

Four teenage travelers traverse the universe saving those in need…though not always in the way you’d expect…in fact…never! Along the way they meet aliens, phantoms and other interdimensionals’ including everyone’s favorite, Catbug. Sometimes…they even meet themselves!

Featuring more than 25 artists, this is a new one-of-a-kind art book in the style of a classic seek & find from Perfect Square featuring the Bravest Warriors.

Catbug ate some weird new cubes of food that caused him to lose what little control he already had over his jump abilities! Now he’s careening through dimensions, unable to stop! Help the Bravest Warriors travel the galaxy and find Catbug. Just don’t eat any of those cube snacks or you might end up lost too!

What Josie Thought – I like comic books a lot. I like the pictures in them and this is a whole book of big cool pictures where you get to find Catbug. Catbug is cute. I like how all the pictures look different. There is a part in the back of the book that shows who made which picture. I like that. I like to find things in books like this. Sometimes Catbug was hard to find but I like that it was hard to do. The pictures show the adventure Catbug goes on.

I give this book five bookworms too. fivebooks

Now I am done :)

Thank you Josie for those great reviews!

Review! Hades Speaks! By Vicky Alvear Shecter

3 Dec

WOW! I have really read a lot of good books lately – let the run on good books continue!

hadesspeaksHades Speaks!: A Guide to the Underworld by the Greek God of the Dead 

By Vicky Alvear Shecter

Illustrated by J. E. Larson

Series: Secrets of the Ancient Gods

128 pages – ages 9+

Published by Boyds Mills Press on September 1, 2014

Synopsis- Have you ever wondered what it is like to be the Lord of the Dead? Or to have people coming to your doorstep, just because you could bring people back to life? That’s the Greek God of the Dead, Hades’, daily experience. Hades leads you through a friendly, behind-the-scenes tour of his realm. Have fun! And watch out for the Furies!

What I Liked- This book is written like I like them – good story with an edge of humor. For example, Hades, even though he is the Greek Lord of the Dead, actually seems like a nice guy, in a god of the dead sort of way. He has a witty sense of humor and is a good tour guide through the underworld. He talks to you, the reader, as he explains a bit about some of the Greek myths and traditions. That was really cool. There are great black and white illustrations scattered throughout the book. They portray the feeling of the book very well. I laughed out loud when Hades said that he was angry at Harry Potter for calling Hades’ hell-hound “Fluffy” and that Lord Voldemort copied his name “He Who Shall Not Be Named,” as Hades was called by the Greeks. I think that this book would be a good one for reluctant readers of any kids interested in mythology. I am interested in reading the other books in the Secrets of the Ancient Gods series after reading this one.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Wanderville: On Track For Treasure (Book 2) by Wendy McClure

1 Dec

wander2Wanderville: On Track For Treasure
By Wendy McClure
Series: Wanderville – Book 2
224 pages – ages  8+
Published by Razorbill on October 16, 2014

Synopsis- Set in the early 1900’s, Wanderville is a traveling “town” that was created by orphans in the first Wanderville book. The town is set up so that, wherever they are, it can come with them (see my review HERE), they are kind of like gypsies. The town now has 10 new residents but they all must leave immediately. The evil sheriff had found them and he is determined to round the kids up and send them to the work farms they escaped from. They hop a train, and find a home with a reverend and his wife. But the kids soon find out it may all be too good to be true.

What I Liked- Ms. McClure has written another great historical fiction story! The characters in the book are very real. They act and talk like kids – kids who are on the run and who are trying to find a home. The story is really interesting. I was very intrigued because there really were orphan trains and I found the 1900’s setting very fun to read about. The interesting plot twist is *DON’T READ IF YOU DON’T WANT A SPOILER* The reverend and his wife do good, but they aren’t necessarily good. *OKAY YOU CAN READ AGAIN* The plot kept me reading and lost in the story. The length and language in the book makes it great for kids 8+ but older kids will enjoy the story a lot too. I love the covers in this series. I am looking forward to the next book in the series!

I give “On Track For Treasure” 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

REVIEW! Time Square: UFO by S.W. Lothian

30 Nov

timeufoTime Square: UFO
Time Square Series – Book 2
By S.W. Lothian
214 pages – ages 8+
Published by CreateSpace on October 12, 2014


Synopsis- When Eva and Lewis’ dad put time itself in mortal danger (accidentally, of course – he’s really a nice guy), 163 time travelers were scattered throughout time. Rescue teams were sent out to save the travelers from whatever time they landed in. Eva and Lewis, along with their new friends, Max Wells and Razer Sharpe, become a team, and are sent to 1947 Roswell, the time of the supposed UFO crash-landing. Will the rescue team be able to find and help the lost time traveler in time (no pun intended – well, maybe a little ;) )?

What I Liked- This book was AWESOME! I’ve read a lot of Mr. Lothian’s books and this one is my favorite. I loved the adventure in it and the writing was top-notch.  Even though this book is technically the second book in the series, it is really Eva and Lewis’ first adventure through time with their new friends. This is a really action-packed book. There is a race against time to stop a mad scientist from trying to hurt a lost time traveler that is mistaken for an alien. The book is appropriate for all ages. The mad scientist (the bad guy) is quite funny and I enjoyed his character very much. The whole story was enjoyable and the time travel parts were done really well. The story takes place at Roswell, at the time of their famed alien sighting, so that makes it even more dangerous for the main characters (and fun for the reader), whose time traveling portal closes with a bright flash!

I give “The UFO” five out of five bookworms!fivebooks


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