Multicultural Children’s Book Day! #ReadYourWorld

27 Jan

Today is Multicultural Children’s Book Day!!!

MCCBD

And I am a Multicultural Children’s Book Day reviewer! Before I get to my review, I wanted to let you know a bit more about this event.

For those that don’t know what that is, Multi Cultural Children’s Book Day was created by Valarie Budayr from Jump Into A Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom in 2014. As the official website states:

Despite census data that shows 37% of the US population consists of people of color, only 10% of children’s books published have diversity content. Using the Multicultural Children’s Book Day, Mia and Valarie are on a mission to change all of that. Their mission is to not only raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these types of books into classrooms and libraries. Another goal of this exciting event is create a compilation of books and favorite reads that will provide not only a new reading list for the winter, but also a way to expose brilliant books to families, teachers, and libraries.

The MCCBD team’s mission to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media.

I’d like to thank all of the sponsors of this years events –

Multicultural Children’s Book day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors! #ReadYourWorld

Platinum: Wisdom Tales Press * StoryQuest Books*Lil Libros

Gold: Author Tori Nighthawk*Candlewick Press,* Bharat Babies

Silver: Lee and Low Books*Chronicle Books*Capstone Young Readers T

Tuttle Publishing ,NY Media Works, LLC/KidLit TV

Bronze: Pomelo Books* Author Jacqueline Woodson*Papa Lemon Books* Goosebottom Books*Author Gleeson Rebello*ShoutMouse Press*Author Mahvash Shahegh* China Institute.org*Live Oak Media

Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing Co-Host and you can use the links below or view them here.

All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share,Educators Spin on it,Growing Book by Book,Imagination Soup,I’m Not the Nanny,InCultural Parent, Kid World Citizen,Mama Smiles,Multicultural Kid Blogs,Spanish Playground

Now on to my review!

MCCBDbookGarrett and the Feathered Serpent Quetzalcoatl

Series: Tales from Davy Jones Locker #1

Written by Carl Gundestrup

190 pages – ages 8+

Audio Book Run Time: 2 hours

Published by Davy Jones Publishing on June 4th, 2015

Summary from Goodreads-Garrett Spencer is a boy on crutches, with one good leg, no friends, never been to a real school and lives with his family in a cave… because no one on the island will rent them a room.
The family lives on Shiloh Island, known for pirates, treasure caves and legendary sea monsters. Shortly after they arrive, Garrett rescues the legendary feathered sea creature Quetzalcoatl from the ravages of a hurricane and certain death. For the first time in his life, Garrett has a best friend.

But in order to remain together they will have to battle the bullies of the island – survive multiple attacks by Sea Dragons – attempt to find the hidden treasure beneath the island – save Garrett’s father’s business and unite the people of the island.

What I Thought- This was an interesting review for me. The book is a very cool concept. Mr. Gundestrup produced an audio version of the book (more on that in a bit) as a gateway to get reluctant readers wanting to read the whole story. I was a bit hesitant at first because I much prefer written stories to the audio-version, but the audio book was very thrilling and added depth to the story. I was happy to listen to this amazing audio book with 22 different voice actors, sound effects, and a whole orchestra! That being said, the story itself was very gripping. It is a marvelous story about true friendship. The characters are realistic and well-developed. Garrett is physically challenged yes, but he is stronger than most people his age. He is still bullied, but many of his peers admire him. Quetzalcoatl is an awe-inspiring creature of magnificent splendor that has a marvelous “history”. It can heal anything and anyone, and will not hurt you.  The plot is very driving, action-packed, and does a good job of keeping you hooked. Gundestrup writing is spot on for a middle-grade audience. The book is very cool, and does a great job of making it so that you believe that Quetzalcoatl could be real. I was definitely impressed with the audio-book. Having said that, when I sat down to read the ebook version, I was not disappointed. The written story added some subplots and I have to say I do enjoy reading the words in a book and I personally feel more attached to the characters as I read, but I can see how the audio/written book will have real appeal to kids who aren’t as fond of reading as I am. This one is definitely worth a try!

fivebooks

I give “Quetzalcoatl” five out of five bookworms!

To learn more, please visit the Tales of Davy Jones official website by clicking HERE.

Check out the trailer!

BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE!!!

 Classroom Reading Challenge . This very special offering from MCCBD offers teachers and classrooms the chance to (very easily) earn a free hardcover multicultural children’s book for their classroom library. These books are not only donated by the Junior Library Guild, but they are pre-screened and approved by them as well.

What we could really use some help with is spreading the word to your teacher/librarian/classroom connections so we can get them involved in this program. There is no cost to teachers and classrooms and we’ve made the whole process as simple as possible. You can help by tweeting the below info:

​ Teachers! Earn a FREE #Multicultural Kids Book for Your Classroom! #teachers, #books #teacherlife 
http://ow.ly/UUy96

The Classroom Reading Challenge has begun! Teachers can earn a free diversity book! #teachers, #books
 http://multiculturalchildrensbookday.com/?p=1796

Review! Fires of Invention by J. Scott Savage

26 Jan

mysteryinventFires of Invention

Series: Mysteries of Cove #1

By J. Scott Savage

288 pages – ages 9+

Published by Shadow Mountain Publishing on September 29, 2015

Synopsis- In the underground city of Cove, the worst insult you can call someone is an inventor. It’s the worst of the cuss words. Trenton Coleman was shocked and mostly insulted when, after hooking up two approved devices (power generator+swing=motorized swing), and the power goes out in the city, he is blamed for it and *gasp* called an inventor. The math didn’t add up for how the swing shut off the power, and sure enough – there had been a clog in one of the mine’s power grinders. Only Trenton could fit in there, so he goes in, and finds… a strange device… that isn’t made from an approved metal! And then Trenton starts to find out that Cove isn’t all that it says it is…

What I Thought- This is probably the best steampunk-ish/dystopian book I’ve read in a while and it’s an MG book so it will appeal to a wide range of ages. Trenton is a great main character who you really connect with – he doesn’t mean to cause trouble (at least, not at first), he is just naturally adept at mechanics and I really enjoyed his character. Kallista, his friend, and the daughter of a deceased inventor, is an interesting person who you want to get to know more about. Mr. Savage has written an entertaining and engaging book (so much so I got into trouble several times for reading the book when I should have been doing something else!). I found it really cool that at the beginning of each chapter in the heading, they show a “penciled” dragon blueprint, and with each chapter, more is completed. I enjoyed how Mr. Savage has created a dystopian world and put the city underground. The reasoning behind it rings true and makes sense, making the plot all the more entertaining.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Vision of the Griffin’s Heart by LRW Lee

25 Jan

smithtour

Today I am part of a blog tour for Linda Lee’s fifth book in her Andy Smithson series! I have enjoyed this series very much.

lee

Author Linda Lee

Here is the series summary from Ms. Lee:

Four years ago, Andy Smithson discovered he is the Chosen one to break a 500-yr-old curse plaguing the land of Oomaldee when he unexpectedly and mysteriously found himself there. To do so, he must collect ingredients for a magical potion. Thus far he has gathered the scale of a red dragon, venom from a giant serpent, a unicorn’s horn, and the tail feather of a phoenix. Now he must ask a griffin for one of its talons. There’s just one problem…humans have poached griffin treasure, causing these mythical creatures to attack on sight.

Complicating matters, the evil Abaddon, sovereign of Oomaldee’s northern neighbor, is turning more and more citizens into zolt in his ongoing campaign of terror as he sets in motion the final steps of his plan to conquer the land. Things really start to heat up in book five!

If you loved Harry Potter, you’ll love the Andy Smithson series chalk full of mythical creatures, newly invented animals like zolt, herewolves, and therewolves, a complex plot with evolving characters, and positive themes including responsibility, diligence, dignity, friendship and more.

Now on to my review!

 

visionsVision of the Grifin’s Heart

Series: Andy Smithson #5

By LRW Lee

218 pages – ages 9+

Published by Woodgate Publishing on January 13, 2016

Synopsis- Andy Smithson is back – back in Oomaldee, the land where he is the sole heir, and the land he is trying to save from a terrible curse. He is almost done finding the ingredients. The evil king Abaddon who is invading the land has found a way to take over the minds of the people who he has turned into the bodies of his minions (bird-like people) so that they do his bidding. With rumors of an attack on Oomaldee’s capital, and an ingredient to find in a nearby country, Andy sure has his hands full!

What I Thought- This is a marvelous book in a great series. Andy Smithson is not your average fourteen-year-old boy! He is sucked out of our world and tossed into another; the world of Oomaldee. To top it off his mom is their long lost queen. Andy was charged with the task of helping to lift a 500-year-old curse on Oomaldee. Ms. Lee has a way of writing a totally believable, on the edge of your seat adventure that nails the content for her intended audience. Lee’s writing combines wit with a sense of suspense to keep readers on their toes. The fifth book in this series gets a little dark, with characters dying and some mild violence but nothing graphic or gory. It would be appropriate for any audience above nine or ten years old. I really like how the book has Andy coming to terms with the effects of lifting the curse, such as the king will die (he was the reason the curse started, and has lived 500+ years). I especially like that Andy really matures as a person in this book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Do You Really Want a Guinea Pig? by Bridget Heos

23 Jan

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 great book to find out if you truly want a guinea pig!


wantguineapigDo You Really Want a Guinea Pig?

Written by Bridget Heos
Illustrated by Katya Longhi
24 pages – ages 5+
Published by Amicus Illustrated on September 1st, 2015

Theme- Proper Care of a Pet

Genre- Instructional Nonfiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening Lines: “So you say you want a guinea pig. You really, really want a guinea pig.

But do you really want a guinea pig?

Synopsis: Do you want a guinea pig? Are you sure that you want a guinea pig?  If you aren’t, this book will give you the run-down on owning a guinea pig. It will tell you what they eat, how they live, and much more! Now, do you really want a guinea pig?

 

What I Thought- This is a great book for deciding if you actually want a guinea pig for a pet or any other animal for that mater. I like how the book goes through the basic necessities of the guinea pig (food, water, a home, etc.) and all that is involved for caring for a pet. It shows you what will happen if you don’t take care of your guinea pig – with sometimes funny statements from the guinea pig (about what it is thinking – like “Could I see the dessert menu, please?”). This book belongs to a series called “Do You Really Want a Pet?”, and they detail several different common pets. Judging from this book, this is a great series for basic pet research. The illustrations are fun and they add a little humor to the story. I really enjoyed this book!

Activities and Resources- Do some research into a pet that you think you want, or just do research on an animal. There is a great bunch of information over at Jackies guinea pigs about owning these little guys – click HERE.

The Humane Society has information on not just guinea pigs but all sorts of pets – click HERE.

HERE is a test to see if your kids are ready for a pet.

 

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

Review! Night on Fire by Ronald Kidd

19 Jan

nightonfireNight on Fire

By Ronald Kidd

288 pages – ages 9+

Published by Albert Whitman & Company on September 1st, 2015

Synopsis- It is 1961 in Anniston, Alabama, and the Freedom Riders-black and white people riding Greyhound Buses crossing state borders to fight segregation-are stopping on Mother’s Day. When Billie hears about it from her African-American nanny, she decides to go and see them. After all, that’s a good thing, right? But when her neighborhood friends burn the bus and beat the riders, she is shocked. She thought she knew them! After meeting her nanny’s daughter, and realizing the extent of segregation and the limitations set upon the African-Americans, they decide to ride a bus together to Montgomery, Alabama to attend a church meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What I Thought- Mr. Kidd has masterfully written a book about racism in the early 1960’s. Billie realizes that even though she doesn’t bear bad wishes against the African-Americans, she still held prejudice against them because of the way she lives. It never occurred to her it was wrong. When the Freedom Riders’ bus drives through her hometown of Anniston and her neighbors end up burning the bus and beating the riders, she just watches. Reflecting on the event, she hates that she just stood by and starts changing inside, becoming more tolerant of others and breaking down the “wall” between the two peoples. Jarmaine, the African-American who befriends Billie, is a more constant character. I found her to be the character I was drawn to. She helps Billie realize more about the segregation. The main characters as well as the minor ones are nicely developed so that you get a real feel for the fabric of the community the story takes place in. The description of the Southern USA in the 1960’s rings true. Besides being a well executed historical fiction novel, the story engages the reader and keeps them interested during the entire story. I really enjoyed this historical fiction story.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Timeless Thomas by Gene Barretta

16 Jan

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 nice biography-type nonfiction book about one of my favorite historical inventors.

timelessthomasTimeless Thomas: How Thomas Edison Changed Our Lives
Written and illustrated by Gene Barretta
36 pages – ages 5+
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 17, 2012

Theme- Not giving up/Biography

Genre- Nonfiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening Lines: “Have you ever thought about inventing something of your own? You’re never too young to try.

Thomas Alva Edison began experimenting when he was just a boy. That’s right. It was the beginning of a life dedicated to improving the world with his brilliant ideas and inventions.

Synopsis from GoodReads: “ 

timelessthomas1

What I Thought- I really liked how Mr. Barretta set this book up. Mr. Barretta focuses on things we have in the present day, and how they were inspired by Edison’s inventions. He explains how Edison worked, and how he failed several times. The book shows how through failure, reworking, and ingenuity, Edison succeeded. The message of failure is something I hear a lot about and I think it’s good for kids to hear how many times someone fails before they succeed. The illustrations share information and inject a bit of humor throughout the book. Mr. Barretta has created a nice biography picture book that is instructional, entertaining and inspiring.

Activities and Resources- Talk with your kids/students about how failure can create success. Did you know James Dyson failed over 5000 times before inventing his current version of his vacuum cleaner?!? Here is a cool video from him about failure.

You can virtually visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia. Click HERE to learn more about Jefferson and Monticello.

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

Review! The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo

13 Jan

Hi Readers! Today, I have a special treat for you all! I received a review request from the 3rd and 4th grade students of Kyoto International School in Kyoto, Japan to review Kate DiCamillo’s “The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane” and hey – who wouldn’t want to review a Kate DiCamillo book? Thank you to grades 3 and 4! Can’t wait to hear what you thought about it also!

edwardtulaneThe Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Written by Kate DiCamillo

Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

224 pages – ages 8+

Reprint published by Candlewick on May 27th, 2009

Synopsis- Edward Tulane was a rabbit. A marvelous rabbit. But, he was not like normal rabbits, for he was made of china. He wore silk suits tailored to him, and fine leather shoes. He had special made hats, and a working gold pocket watch. Edward belonged to a young girl named Abilene Tulane, who loved him very much. But when Edward is lost overboard in the ocean, he only cared for his own well-being, not about how Abilene would cope without him. Months pass at the bottom of the ocean, but during a storm, Edward is brought to the surface, and rescued by an old fishermen. As Edward is then passed around, he starts the miraculous journey of learning what love truly is.

What I Thought- I really enjoyed this book – I read it in one evening, I found it so gripping. Ms. DiCamillo has a unique way of making us look to our inner selves. This is a common trait in most of her books – they encourage self-reflection and internal changes in characters. Her writing style is unique, in the way that it seems to “Tell” more than “Show”, as in, she states more than she describes. Yet, somehow, every word paints a huge picture of the story. It all comes together. There are nice colored illustrations (at least in my version) and they add a lot of depth to the story. Edward is an interesting character–he does not move on his own, he cannot shut his eyes for they are painted on, and he cannot keep track of passing time–but he is full of life at the same time. The reader will be able to see Edward change from a selfish, vain doll into a loving, caring, selfless character. Ms. DiCamillo has written a heart-warming story that is more about finding what is important in life through doll who learns to love. The setting of the book varies, but can be in any country, really. It adds to the imagery in the story.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! A Tale of Highly Unusual Magic by Lisa Papademetriou

11 Jan

 

highlyunusualA Tale of Highly Unusual Magic

by Lisa Papademetriou

320 pages – ages 8+
Published by HarperCollins on October 6, 2015

 

Synopsis- Kai doesn’t know what to expect when she is staying with her great-aunt in Texas for a while. Her great-aunt is a poet, listens to rap, and wears red tennis shoes. When Kai is looking around the house, she discovers a book that is blank except for one page, called The Exquisite Corpse. On an impulse, she writes a sentence into the book. Strangely, the next time she opens it, the book has more paragraphs written!

On the other side of the world, in Pakistan, Leila is visiting her father’s family. She is walking through the family library and finds a strange book with only one full page, and a handwritten sentence. It is called The Exquisite Corpse. She ends up writing another sentence after the paragraphs ended.

And so the adventure begins connecting two different worlds.

What I Thought- This was a fun book. I really enjoyed reading about how the two girls and how they interacted without realizing it. It was neat seeing how the stories connected to each other as the book unfolded. The characters are realistic, and Ms. Papademetriou does a great job at making it so that it is a believable story. Kai and Leila are both out of their comfort zones – Leila is in a mostly Muslim country with more strict expectations but she was raised in a more liberal environment. Kai’s single mother is slightly protective of her, and Kai’s great-aunt lets her run around the small town after dark. It is a culture shock to both of them and you can see as they both get accustomed to their surroundings a little, and they find out more about themselves in the process. I found it funny that by the end of the book, it turns out that Leila and Kai live in the same city (but the book doesn’t say if they meet) – Awesome ending!!!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins #FollowBruce

8 Jan

bruceMother Goose Bruce

by Ryan T. Higgins

48 pages – ages 3+

Published by Disney-Hyperion on November 24, 2015

Theme- Family/adoption

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening Lines:

Bruce was a bear who lived all by himself.
He was a grump.”

Synopsis from GoodReads: “Bruce the bear likes to keep to himself. That, and eat eggs. But when his hard-boiled goose eggs turn out to be real, live goslings, he starts to lose his appetite. And even worse, the goslings are convinced he’s their mother. Bruce tries to get the geese to go south, but he can’t seem to rid himself of his new companions. What’s a bear to do?

What I Thought- I LOVED this book. The opening is great – Bruce is a grump – just look at him. Everything about Higgins’ artwork  lets you know how grumpy Bruce is.

bruce2

Speaking of the artwork, it is phenomenal! It tells so much more of the story and really conveys the feeling of the whole book. I love how the look of Bruce stays grumpy throughout the whole book, even as his character softens in the story.

bruce3

I also like how the goslings don’t seem to care about their “mommy’s”  bad disposition. The story isn’t really about a grumpy bear but more so about family. Being an adopted kid myself, I think it is a nice kind of adoption story too. It is a sweet story that says it doesn’t mater how you came together or what you look like, you are still a family.

Activities and Resources-

Bruce loves to cook so how about cooking something up with Bruce? The Kid Spot blog has some egg recipes that kids can cook. Click HERE to get them.

You can search the internet or better yet your library for books and news articles on animals adopting animals of a different species. HERE is a nice article at TheDodo.com that shows some pretty unusual parings – a tortoise and a hippo???

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

Review! The Looney Experiment by Luke Reynolds

6 Jan

looneyThe Looney Experiment

By Luke Reynolds

208 pages – ages 11+

Published by Blink on August 4, 2015

Synopsis- 8th grader Atticus Hobart has it pretty tough. Not only is he bullied, but he has an overactive imagination (to the point of seriously distracting). Add the fact that his dad just up and left his family, and you can see why Atticus doesn’t know what to do now. When his English teacher takes off for maternity leave, and a crazy seventy-seven year old man named Mr. Looney is their substitute, he takes the class by surprise and teaches in a completely unpredictable manner, helping the students unleash their inner selves. Atticus soon finds out that there is more to meets the eye to Mr. Looney!

What I Thought- I really liked this book. Luke Reynolds has written a compelling story about finding yourself and who you really are. Mr. Looney is that teacher who you don’t want to have, and then find out you love him. He is the type of character that you wish was real. This character-driven story is the kind you can loose yourself in. I like how you can “see” the changes occurring in Atticus throughout the story. I highly recommend this book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

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