Great Back-to-School Picture Books from HarperCollins!

1 Sep

Before I get to tell you about some great back-to-school books, I get to announce that the winner of a signed copy of Jenifer Alvarez’s Guardian Herd: Starfire  (see my review HERE) is 

Rebecca “Franticmommy” Flansburg!

WOO! Congratulations M. Flansburg, I will be emailing you to get the address you want the book sent to! 

guardian

Now to tell you about some GREAT picture books!

 

chuChu’s First Day of School

By Neil Gaiman

Illustrated by Adam Rex

32 pages – ages 4+
Published by HarperCollins on June 24, 2014

 

Summary (from the inside jacket): It is Chu’s first day of school. Chu is nervous. He hopes the other boys and girls will be nice. Will they like him? What will happen at school today? Will Chu do what Chu does best?

What I thought: This was a very cute book. I like that it shows Chu being afraid that the other kids may not like him (not just being afraid to go to school). I think a lot of kids have this fear. On top of the nice story, the illustrations are wonderful and had a slightly realistic feeling to them. I think it made them very unique images.

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Chu is adorable. I love his aviator helmet and goggles. Mr. Gaiman has written a nice picture book about going back to school. I love Chu’s talent, or as his new teacher says, “what he can do.” I think this book will help kids who are nervous about what other kids will think of them at school.

There is a printable activity to go with the book on the publisher’s website – click HERE

To learn more about Chu, please visit Mr. Gaiman’s website HERE

~

littlelolaLittle Lola

by Julie Saab and David Gothard

32 pages – ages 4+

Published by Greenwillow Books on April 22, 2014

Summary (from the inside jacket): Little Lola loves everything! So when she discovers school, you can be sure that she’ll love every minute of it. Yes, she’s a cat. (And when was the last time you saw a cat in school?) But being a cat never stopped Lola!

What I thought: THIS BOOK IS HILARIOUS!!! I thought this was going to be a cute little kitty going to school book, but wow – Lola is one energetic kitty determined to have a great day! The story is great! I love how Lola wakes up and finds a complete school outfit and decides to go to school – not with other animals but with kids. The art is so carefree and humorous that I could spend hours looking at the illustrations. I think it’s a book that could really get kids excited about school.

To learn more about my new favorite kitty, visit the Lola website HERE

~

monstersloveMonsters LOVE School

Written and illustrated by Mike Austin

  40 pages – ages 4+
Published by HarperCollins on June 24, 2014

Summary (publisher’s description): Summer is over, and now it’s time for the biggest adventure of all . . . Monster School! Join these colorful monsters as they go to school for the first time. Reading and writing and learning your monster history has never been so much fun! Fans of Monsters Love Colors and others will love this exciting picture book.

What I thought: This is a nice book about making friends and going (back) to school. The monsters are cute and funny. I like how they all got along and helped the new monster. That was nice. The monsters show how fun school can be. The art has a cool style and I really like the patterns in the monsters.

~

 

pinkandnewPinkalicious and the New Teacher

by Victoria Kann

24 pages – ages 4+

Published by HarperFestival on June 24, 2014

Summary (from the back of the book) – Pinkalicious usually likes new experiences, but when she gets a new teacher she’s not sure how she feels.

What I thought: I think that this book covers how some kids view the first day of school (and a new teacher) very well. Ms. Kann captures the feeling of kids getting a new teacher very well. As a kid, I know how it feels to have one of your favorite teachers leave and have to get a new one that you’re not really sure about.  I love how Ms. Kann shows Pinkalicious adapting to the new class. My little sister LOVES Pinkalicious, and I think she is the kind of role model kids need; one who proves that everyone is not perfect, but we should try hard to do the right thing. In addition to the pinkiperfect story there is a poster, bookmarks and stickers in the book. 

Check out the printable activity on HarperCollins website – click HERE

Check out the Pinkalicious website HERE

 

The Choice of Twilight by Tyler Wise

29 Aug

thechoiceThe Choice of Twilight

by Tyler Wise

288 pages – ages 12+

Published on March 17, 2014 (ebook)

Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Summary – Ty’s first day of middle school was horrible. He was late to school, lost his schedule, got himself lost in the halls, was late for every single class and he got homework on his first day because of it! To make matters worse, Ty’s grandpa passed away the day before he started school. Months later, his life doesn’t seem to be getting any better, in fact it’s pretty bad. Ty’s 13th birthday comes and he gets a present from his late grandpa. It is a puppet that his grandpa made when Ty was born. That night when Ty goes to sleep he wakes up in a strange land ruled by a giant tyrannical skeleton. Apparently,  in this world, kids get help facing all the stuff they have to face growing up. Ty’s friend and ally in this strange world is a giant, living version of the puppet he got from his grandpa. But facing the big issues in his life is not something Ty thinks he’s ready for.

This was a great coming-of-age book! It was a very fun and adventurous venture into the land of imagination. I love Ty’s addiction to LEGOs (and the LEGO room) – he’s my kind of guy! Ty is altogether a great character. He’s pretty much what I am looking for in a main character. I must admit, I wasn’t that sure if I would like this book. The cover and title threw me off. I was expecting a dark, moody story (not my favorite kind). This was nothing like that. It was a cool adventure that, as a kid, I could totally relate to. Mr. Wise’s imaginary world was very creative and I think it’s a pretty unique idea. The imaginary world created by Mr. Wise was vivid and very cool to read about. I’d be happy to read more books by this author!

I give “The Choice of Twilight” 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Creative Kid Thursday! Guest Book Reviewer Josie!

28 Aug

Today on Creative Kid Thursday, I have a special guest for you, my little sister Josie! Josie reviewed a book that has to do with frogs being endangered. Jo really cares about this issue. She even made a frog pond at our house this year to help the frogs near us (see her blog post about it HERE).

vanishfrogThe vanishing frogs of Cascade Creek

(Ruthie’s wildlife Book 1) by Emma J. Homes

44 pages – ages 8+
Published by Spark Street Communications Pty Ltd on June 25, 2014

 

Description from Amazon:

The beautiful waterfall frogs of Cascade Creek have suddenly disappeared and Ruthie’s parents have been asked to help solve the mystery. So now it’s all aboard the big green bus, pet wombat and all, for a wildlife adventure in the rainforests of northern Australia.

Join ten-year-old Ruthie as she and her wildlife scientist parents, Tom and Kate, track down why the frogs have vanished from their home. Together with Ruthie’s younger brother Liam and sister Bel, and with a little help from the mischievous wombat, Womble, they are soon discovering clues to the puzzle.

What Josie thought: I liked that this was about saving frogs and it was kind of a mystery. I liked reading about how Ruthie and her family live. They travel around in their bus and go from place to place to help animals (and frogs :) ). Ruthie and her brother and sister even do to school at their bus, not a regular school. I like that the story describes the science lab trailer where her parents do experiments to find out what’s wrong with the frogs. I never heard of a waterfall frog before. It is a real frog. I looked it up and learned more about them. I liked reading the book. I like that Ruthie is my age (ten :) ). The book is a good chapter book and I thought the story was exciting! I would read the other stories in this series.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms! fivebooks

Thanks Josie!

You can find out more about Ms. Holmes and her other books by visiting her website HERE.

Hardy Belch and The Predator: Addressing Internet Safety by William Bentrim

26 Aug

hardybelchHardy Belch and The Predator: Addressing Internet Safety by William Bentrim

(The Adventures of Hardy Belch Book 7)

52 pages – ages 9+
Published by Bearly Tolerable Publications on May 27, 2014

Hardy Belch was excited! For Christmas he got the newest video game and it was AWESOME! Hardy’s cousin, Mardi a portable version of the same game. She tells Hardy that a friend online has been gifting her extra game boosts. Hardy is excited because he thinks that maybe someone will gift him extra stuff online! But when Mardi says she is going to meet up with this online “friend” named Amy, Hardy gets worried. What if Amy really isn’t Amy?

Wow – this is an important book! The message of internet safety is something every kid needs to hear and every parent needs to teach. Mr. Bentrim addresses the issue very well and creates a believable situation for Hardy and Mardi to be in. I can see this happening. The illustrations in the book go along with the story very well. Mr. Bentrim gets this serious message across in a very kid friendly way. The only issue I had with the book is that this is the first Hardy Belch book I have read in the series (this one is the 7th) and it took me a while (and a couple of times re-reading) to realize that Hardy’s dog, Tiny, is telepathic and Hardy understands his thoughts. Once I understood the characters, the story read well and it left me really thinking about the message of safety in the book.

Four out of five bookworms for Hardy Belch and The Predator. fourbooks

 

Like Mr. Bentrim and Bearly Tolerable Publications on Facebook HERE.

Follow Mr. Bentrim and Bearly Tolerable Publications on Twitter HERE.

Learn more about Mr. Bentrim and his other books at his website HERE.

 

Review and Giveaway! The Guardian Herd Book 1 – Starfire by Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

25 Aug

 

Mark your calendars for this wonderful book that will be released September 23rd!  Can’t wait?!? Well comment below and enter to win a signed copy (US residents only, please). On September 1st I will… I mean my little sister Josie will  pick a name out of a hat and declare the WINNER of a SIGNED copy of THE GUARDIAN HERD: STARFIRE! WOO! :D

I reviewed Ms. Alvarez’s book “The Pet Washer” a while ago (see my review HERE) and I really enjoyed her writing style. I was very excited to get an ARC of the first book of this new series by Ms. Alvarez and really looked forward to reading the story. I wasn’t disappointed!

guardianThe Guardian Herd Book 1 – Starfire

By Jennifer Lynn Alvarez

272 pages – ages 8+

Published by HarperCollins on September 23, 2014

Anok is a land full of pegasi – winged horses – and no humans.

Star is the “black foal” – a black pegasi that is born once every 100 years. On the black foals’ first birthday (at midnight), the Hundred Year Star gives its power to the black foal of the century. With this power, the black foal can become either the Destroyer or the Healer of the herds. Either way, the foal will become more powerful than any pegasi in Anok. Thunderwing (and most of Sun Herd) thinks that Star will become the Destroyer, if he lives. Star doesn’t blame them – he isn’t so sure himself! Thunderwing, the over-stallion (chief) of Sun Herd now is the head of the Guardian Herd, the herd to which the black foal is born. It is the Guardian Herd’s responsibility to keep track of the black foal and to determine it’s fate when the time came. Thunderwing gave Star until his first birthday to live and then declared that Star must be killed in case he becomes the Destroyer. When the lead-mare of Sun Herd helps get Star to safety by bringing him to a secluded cave, she gets kicked out of Sun Herd. She dares to go back only to warn the Sun Herd about the pegasi army about to attack the Guardian Herd because they lost track of Star. The warning didn’t help. Now Star’s friends’ lives are in danger! What can he do?

This is an amazing book! It reminded me a little bit of the Warrior Cats series by Erin Hunter, with all of the Herds and all – but it was also very different (not just because it’s about pegasi). I liked it. The Guardian Herd series is very unique and I like that it hooks you right in the first paragraph! I could not put it down! ( Seriously. I didn’t really leave my bean-bag chair at all until I was done… ;) )! Ms. Alvarez is a great author with a descriptive writing style that gets the reader involved. Star is a character you really come to care for. He is a great main character, and is a nice guy pegasi. I like how Star’s character developed during the time he spent exiled in the cave. I love how Ms. Alvarez describes the world of Anok. It felt like I was really there, diving through the trees, galloping through the plains! I thought all the interactions between the herds and members of each herd was interesting. You got to learn about their society and chain of command and such. I can’t wait for the other books in this series! Bonus points for an awesome cover too!

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

To learn more about Ms. Alvarez and her books, please visit her website HERE.

Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting by Erin Dionne

24 Aug

ollieOllie and the Science of Treasure Hunting : A 14 Day Mystery

By Erin Dionne

269 pages / ages 10+

Published by Dial on July 10, 2014

Ollie still wasn’t adapted to his new-found fame in the last adventure he was in (Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking – Dial 2013). The reporters that watched his front door still bothered his family (well, who wouldn’t be bothered by that?). Ollie understood why they were there – they wanted to learn all about the mystery that he and his best friend Moxie had solved earlier (he and his friend Moxie found 500 million dollars worth of stolen art) – but Ollie thought that they were too insistent. Ollie, being a Boy Scout, was going to go to the Boston Harbor Islands. But, instead of going with Troop 5 – like normal –  Ollie was going to be with Troop 7 as a provo member, to get away from the paparazzi, and to let the FBI agents finish doing their “jobs”. Ollie thought it’d just be another scout camping trip, but Ollie soon found himself in the middle of a treasure hunt for a pirate’s treasure and all is not what it seems.

Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting is the second book in the “A 14-Day Mystery” series (I did not read the first book). This was a fun book. I really like the character of Ollie. He seems like a real kid, which makes him believable. I found it hilarious that Ollie describes himself as looking suspiciously like “the kid in that animated movie about the old guy who floats his house away with a zillion balloons”. I really liked the geocaching and orienteering brought into the story  (they are both really fun activities that you should try if you haven’t). It went along with the treasure hunting plot in the story well. The mystery and plot were a little predictable at times, but it was still an enjoyable story. The publisher has the book for ages 10+ but I think it is appropriate for younger kids too. I think boys and girls will enjoy this fun read.

I give this book 4 out of 5 bookworms!fourbooks

Creative Kid Thursday! Meet the Dynamic Duo Creators of “The Write Chat”!

21 Aug

Happy Creative Kid Thursday!

I had a great first day of Middle School yesterday. It’s going to be a great year! :D

Today I have a great Creative Kid Thursday for you! I am here to tell you about the launch of a new vlog called “The Write Chat” that is run by two Creative Kids! One of the Creative Kids I am sure you’ll recognize (WOO HOO I Finally make it on Creative Kids!) ;)

 

 

thewritechat

That’s right, Felicia the Fantastic author of “The Perpetual Papers of the Pack of Pets” (see my review HERE) and mastermind of the Stanley and Katrina blog (click HERE) and I are co-hosting a monthly vlog where we interview authors about their books, writing process and any other silly topic that comes to mind.

Our first guests will be coming up in September – I could tell you more about it here but why don’t you click on over to The Write Chat and you can see for yourself! Over there you can sign up to follow and get notified when we put up our monthly vlog. :D

Don’t forget to click over to The Write Chat and subscribe to our monthly interviews! You can also check out our introductory video of Felicia and me explaining what The Write Chat is about! CLICK HERE TO  GO THERE!!!!

Book Review! Jesper Jinx by Marko Kitti

20 Aug

 

Wish me luck! Today is my first day of MIDDLE SCHOOL!!

 

scream

Creative Commons License


Now on to my review!

jesperJesper Jinx

Written and Illustrated by Marko Kitti

150 pages – ages 8+

Published by CreateSpace on April 28, 2014

Jesper Jinx may be one of the unluckiest (or maybe the luckiest?) kids in Puffington Hill, England. Everything he does somehow comes out hilariously messed up. When Jesper accidentally (and literally) bumps into a children’s books author who had rented a nearby house, Jesper makes the author promise to write his real-life stories, as long as he doesn’t share it with anybody else. The author was not true to his word, well, as long as the reader promises not to tell Jesper! He shares 3 short stories – each with a prank that Jesper does. This includes staining the white cat red, and swapping his sister’s favorite drink out for a concoction that is undeniably foul.

This book, all in all, is hilarious. I love that the author is a character that interacts with the reader through notes. That provides a bit of humor right there. Then you add in all of Jesper’s kooky actions and you get a ton of laughs. I like the fact that the reader can be involved in the story, it feels like the author is talking to you. The illustrations remind me of the kind in most of Roald Dahl’s books. I like that touch. It provides a nice feeling that draws you into the story. Jesper is a nice kid who likes to do pranks and practical jokes. It’s not his fault that they normally backfire on him. He’s just a normal kid trying to “break the boredom”. The book was a quick read for me at 150 pages with illustrations, but it is meant for younger kids so the reading level is just right for 8+ or young advanced readers. I am looking forward to reading more of Mr. Kitti’s work.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

For more information on Mr. Kitti and Jesper Jinx, please visit the Jesper Jinx website HERE.

Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger and Audubon Zoo WINNERS!!

18 Aug

HELLO blogosphere! I’ve missed you while I was away camping – okay not really the blogosphere but the awesome people I get to talk to on it. :)

So the big question was – how many books will I read while I was away camping for a whole week –

Here is the run down –

12 middle grade books and 2 graphic novellas (so I am not sure if I should say I read 12 or 14) and yes I did go fishing, hiking, bike riding, visited touristy things, roasted marshmallows and got bit by misquotes had a really great time! :)

 

What books did I read?

1. Spirit Animals #3 Blood Ties by Garth Nix and Sean Williams

2. Cassidy Jones and the Luminous by Elise Stokes

4. Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

5. After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

6. Greenhorn by Anna Olswanger

7. Hardy Belch and the Internet Predator by William G Bentrim

8. Choice of Twilight by Tyler Wise

9. Ollie and the Science of Treasure Hunting by Erin Dionne

10. The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson

11. Mystery on a Church Hill by Steven K. Smith

12. Emperor Pickletine Rides the Bus by Tom Angleberger

13. Toto Trouble by Thierry Coppee

14. The Legend of Chima: The Right Decision

Guess what else I found on vacation? A LITTLE FREE LIBRARY! It was right in Lackawanna State Park where we were camping! How cool!

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

 

Now for a review of a great book I read while I was away!

 

greenhornGreenhorn

By Anna Olswanger

Illustrated by Miriam Nerlove

48 pages – ages Middle grade

Published by NewSouth Books on December 3, 2012

Aaron, a young Jewish boy living in 1946 Brooklyn, attends a yeshiva (boarding school for Jewish boys). When 20 boys who survived the holocaust and came from a concentration camp arrive at the yeshiva, they fit right in. All except one. Daniel barely talked, and he always kept a hold of a small tin box. Daniel goes through relentless teasing from the other boys (except Aaron, who is also teased because of his stutter, and became a friend of Daniel’s) because he would not say what it contained. When the boys get fed up, they manhandle the box away from Daniel. When the rebbe (teacher) walks in on this, he has Daniel open the box (after stopping the boys, of course). It contains a bar of soap. Not a big deal, right? Not quite. Apparently, the Nazis had experimented making soap in the concentration camps. Daniel has it to remember his deceased parents.

This was a well-written nonfiction story about a holocaust concentration camp survivor and the friend he makes in Aaron. But, it is also about so much more. The story is for middle grade readers but it is only 48 pages (with illustrations). The writing was solid and the story was incredible but I would have liked the story to be expanded into a full novel – it was that good and it would be better for kids my age to have more details/backstory.  The book is based on a true story. Aaron is a real person (with a different name of course) and I think that I would’ve liked to have met the young Rabbi Rafael Grossman (AKA Aaron). The color illustrations were a nice addition to the story and went well with it. The history taught in the book and the message – is very important. I’d just love to see this as a novel. The publisher has a parent and teacher guide to go along with the story. You can find it HERE.

 

To learn more about Ms. Olswanger, Greenhorn and the film that the book is being turned into, please visit her website HERE.

I give this book 4 out of 5 bookworms.fourbooks

 

And, remember that post 2 weeks ago? What the Sleepy Animals Do at the Audubon Zoo? Well, remember the giveaway? Guess what?

WE HAVE WINNERS!!!

I get to give away 2 copies of the awesome picture book “What the Sleepy Animals do at the Audubon Zoo!”

sleepyanimals

They are -

Anne McKernan of the Itsy Bitsy Mom blog HERE

Donna Marie from The Writer Side Up blog (click HERE)

CONGRATULATIONS! :D

 I will send you an email to get your mailing address!

The Platypus Police Squad Book 1: The Frog Who Croaked by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

15 Aug

ppsfrog

 

The Platypus Police Squad Book 1: The Frog Who Croaked

by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

240 pages – ages 8+
Published by Walden Pond Press on May 7, 2013

 

Rick Zengo was excited. It was his first day for his new job. Zengo was going to be joining Kalamazoo City’s police force, the Platypus Police Squad (PPS for short). He spilled some hot chocolate on his partner in the first hour. On the second hour, they get a case about an illegal fish exchange gone wrong. But, that’s not important. Nope, not at all. We’re talking about Zengo’s first hour at work. So… He spilled some hot chocolate on his grumpy (but kindly) partner, Corey O’Malley, and they both got made fun of by two over-confident platypi detectives (can someone lend a helping mouse? ;) Platypi or platypuses?). It was a perfectly normal hour. Nothing out of the ordinary. No wondering if the local billionaire panda is behind the fish exchange. No fretting over where the school professor was who apparently disappeared at the fish exchange. Not a minute spent over worrying that a night club owned by the billionaire panda is behind the illegal fish market. No pondering how many hot dogs Corey O’Malley can eat at a time. Nope. None of that. Now, on the other hand, about that second hour…

THIS WAS HILARIOUS!!! The title is a wonderfully done pun and a marvelous hooker! The book was well done and was fun to read. I read it in one day. Mr. Krosoczkais a great author who has a way of creating a wacky world that pulls you in and only lets you out when the mystery has been solved. Detective Rick Zengo is a great guy, er… platypus… who tries to do the best he can, even if he messes up sometimes. I love all the goofy characters in the book. This is a fun book! I already read Book 2 (see my review HERE) which prompted me to go back and read book 1. I am glad I did (and obviously you don’t have to read the books in order to enjoy them!)! I am already waiting for the third book…

yup still waiting…

…someone please tell Mr. Krosoczka I’m waiting…

okay, okay I’ll get on with it -

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

 

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