Tag Archives: book review

REVIEWS! Farewell Flopsy and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to School

27 Apr

Benjamin Chaud is a French author/illustrator whose work I admire. I am reviewing two of his latest books.

Both of these books get five out of five bookworms from me!

fivebooks

farewellFarewell Floppy
By Benjamin Chaud
40 pages – ages 3+
Published by Chronicle Books on March 3, 2015

Synopsis- From GoodReads: “It was the perfect plan: abandon pet rabbit Floppy in the woods and take a giant leap toward adulthood. Having a bunny that moonlights as a best friend is for babies, right? It’s better to cut a pet loose, make new human friends, and not be so dependent on a floppy-eared fur ball bent on chewing electrical cords, right? If saying good-bye to Floppy is required to grow up, why does life without Floppy seem so wrong?

What I Thought- After reading this book, I have decided that lop bunnies (what Floppy is) are the rabbit equivalent to Basset Hounds (which I have one). They both seem very lazy. ;)

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My dog Clyde’s “excited” look.

Mr. Chaud is a fabulous artist with an eye for detail. It really shows through in his work. This book is sweet, and teaches a valuable lesson. A story about deciding to abandon your pet in the woods may seem a bit harsh, but in reality, the story is about the boy choosing his pet and seeing how much he cares for him and the value in the pet. I like how the kid goes through a major character change by the end of the story. It made me smile.

afunnythingA Funny Thing Happened On The Way To School…
By Davide Cali
Illustrated by Benjamin Chaud
44 pages – ages 6+
Published by Chronicle Books on March 3, 2015

Synopsis- From GoodReads: “First, some giant ants steal breakfast.

Then there are the evil ninjas, massive ape, mysterious mole people, giant blob, and countless other daunting (and astonishing) detours along the way to school. Are these excuses really why this student is late? Or is there another explanation that is even more outrageous than the rest?

What I Thought- This is a follow-up to “I Didn’t Do My Homework Because…” (see my review HERE), and it didn’t disappoint! Kids will love this book! As someone who is almost always just in time to school, this book is a necessity for me! Mr. Cali and Mr. Chaud are a wonderful team who work very well together. The book is funny, and outrageous, and totally unbelievable…or is it? You’ll never know… Mr. Chaud did a great job illustrating. He has a realistic, yet whimsical approach to his art. I find it funny (and cool) how the ninjas’ legs can bend backwards. Cali’s zany story captures the mind of a kid perfectly. This is a great book!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! My Name is Truth by Ann Turner

24 Apr

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 motivational book that really inspires you to speak up for what you believe in.

truthMy Name is Truth: The Life of Sojourner Truth
By Ann Turner
Illustrations by James Ransome 
 40 pages – ages 6+
Published by HarperCollins on January 20, 2015

Theme/Topic- Slavery/Speaking Up

Genre- Nonfiction/Historical Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening – “My mama was a slave woman called Mau-Mau with sweet arms and eyes like a hawk I had a daddy, too, Bomefree, they loved all twelve of us and had to see us sold off one by one like horses for work their hearts most broke.”

Synopsis – From Goodreads: “Here is the remarkable true story of how former slave Isabella Baumfree transformed herself into the preacher and orator Sojourner Truth, as told by acclaimed author Ann Turner and award-winning illustrator James Ransome. An iconic figure of the abolitionist and women’s rights movements, Sojourner Truth famously spoke out for equal rights roughly one hundred years before the civil rights movement.

This beautifully illustrated and impeccably researched picture book biography underwent expert review by two historians of the period. My Name Is Truth includes a detailed historical note, an archival photo, and a list of suggested supplemental reading materials. Written in the fiery and eloquent voice of Sojourner Truth herself, this moving story will captivate readers just as Sojourner’s passionate words enthralled her listeners.

Why I liked this book- Ms. Turner has written a powerful book. It illustrates Ms. Truth’s life in a kid-friendly way. It references the fact that slaves were beaten, but emphasizes how families were torn apart and how very very hard slaves worked in bad conditions. It explains that Ms. Truth had a hard life, but she refused to let it beat her. It is an incredible story of courage and the difference one person can make if they speak up.  The illustrations are very well done and compliment the text nicely.

Activities and Resources- 

The book supports Common Core state standards.

The back end pages has a very interesting author’s note that reveals even more about Ms. Truth. There is also a list of suggested reading if you want to know more.

I found a lesson plan at the Sojourner Truth Memorial website – click HERE to get it.

HERE is a Sojourner Truth worksheet and HERE is a coloring page from Education.com

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

Review! The Kidney Hypothetical by Lisa Yee

22 Apr

kidneyThe Kidney Hypothetical (or how to ruin your life in seven days)
By Lisa Yee
272 pages – ages 12+
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on March 31, 2015

Synopsis- From GoodReads: “Higgs Boson Bing has seven days left before his perfect high school career is completed. Then it’s on to Harvard to fulfill the fantasy portrait of success that he and his parents have cultivated for the past four years. Four years of academic achievement. Four years of debate championships. Two years of dating the most popular girl in school. It was, literally, everything his parents could have wanted. Everything they wanted for Higgs’s older brother Jeffrey, in fact.

But something’s not right. And when Higgs’s girlfriend presents him with a seemingly innocent hypothetical question about whether or not he’d give her a kidney…the exposed fault lines reach straight down to the foundations of his life…

What I Thought- I dislike teen romance stories. BUT bonus points to the author for having the main character break up with his girlfriend in Chapter Two. :) At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like this book but I found the story written well and there was enough of a story line to keep me interested. The book is young YA level (reading and content). It is a short read but the story moves along at a good pace and it feels complete when you are done. The characters were well-rounded but parts of the plot seemed a bit unrealistic- Higgs gives up going to Harvard?!? The story overall keeps the reader’s attention and there are some thoughtful moments between Higgs  and Monarch (a girl Higgs befriends after he broke up with his girlfriend). There wasn’t the WOW factor for me in the story to say run to the bookstore to buy it, but it is definitely worth a read.

I give this book 3 out of 5 bookworms.threebooks

Review! Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison

21 Apr

groundedGrounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel
By Megan Morrison
384 pages (hardcover) – ages 9+
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books on April 28, 2015

Synopsis- Rapunzel lived in a tower, and she had everything she wanted. Witch gave it to her. Witch loved her. And Rapunzel was happy. That is, until a boy climbs her tower and claims that they’ve met. Even weirder, they met… Yesterday. But how is that possible? Rapunzel would have remembered. So, Rapunzel decides he’s lying. Yet somehow, he has her handkerchief. Could what he say be… true? Then, he steals a rose and runs off. What choice does Rapunzel have? She follows him. And thus begins the adventure of a lifetime.

What I Thought- This was a great book. I like how it explains that Rapunzel has no hard feelings towards the Witch – after all, Witch did raise her. I often thought that about the Rapunzel story – she sees the Witch as her mom but then again she’s been her prisoner – very weird situation… I digress. Ms. Morrison has written a wonderful book about so much more than the Rapunzel story. The story is full of adventure, and a slightly wacky world. The story is filled with humor, the right amount of tension and a plot line that keeps the reader interested. I found it funny how all of the countries were named, based on colors – nice detail. Rapunzel is a great character, kind of single-minded and gullible, but that is explainable (she was raised in a tower afterall). The book plays on questions that the original Rapunzel fairytale created like “Why would Rapunzel want to be kidnapped from her home?” or “Why was Rapunzel’s father so idiotic to trade his only daughter for a piece of food?”. Things like that. :) The book very funny, and will have you rolling on the floor! Based on this book, I’d be happy to read more from Ms. Morrison.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Jet Lee Dragon Warrior by Pamela K. Witte

16 Apr

jetleeJet Lee Dragon Warrior By Pamela K. Witte Illustrated by Laurie Tisdale 130 pages – ages 8+ Published by Pam Witte on January 17, 2015       Synopsis-jetLeeDragonWarrior What I Thought- This is a fun book! It is based on some ninja/samurai concepts, but set in New York City. I didn’t expect almost everyone that Jet knew to be a Dragon Warrior. That was cool. Jet is a clumsy, small, and weak tween who you can’t help but like and root for. Everyone loves to see an underdog win, right? The story is fast paced and flows well. Ms. Witte is a gifted story teller. At 130 pages it is a quick read, but the story feels complete. There are some neat manga-like illustrations through-out the book. I like how Jet, as a character, messes up simple things (like (not) catching an important vial), building up the fact that he’s clumsy – I like a hero who is more realistic. Ms. Witte has written a great book and is another example of a self-published book done right! I give “Jet Lee Dragon Warrior” 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

My Grandma is a Ninja by Todd Tarpley

14 Apr

grandmaninjaMy Grandma is a Ninja

By Todd Tarpley

Illustrated by Danny Chatzikonstantinou

40 pages – ages 4+

Published by NorthSouth on March 1, 2015

Synopsis- Ethan’s grandma is a ninja. She can use a zip line like nobody’s business, she can do awesome karate moves, she can even do a backflip… in slow motion! How cool is that?! Ethan and his friends love it. That is, until Ethan’s grandma kicks the team’s soccer ball so hard it deflates and everyone gets upset. Ethan is no longer sure having a ninja grandma that great.

What I Thought- OKAY! What kid wouldn’t love this book?! It has a ninja, who actually happens to be an elderly grandmother – PURE AWESOMENESS! The illustrations are funny, wacky, and they flip out at you – in slow motion! This book will have little kids laughing out loud, and big kids rolling on the floor, laughing their lungs out! Mr. Tarpley has written a great book that has a funny circling ending. It kept me chuckling.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Goodnight Already! by Jory John

10 Apr

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 we’ve all known people like Duck (and Bear).

goodnightGoodnight Already!
By Jory John
Illustrations by Benji Davies 
pages – ages 5+
Published by on

Theme/Topic- Sleep

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening – “I’ve never been so tired. I could sleep for weeks. Months, even!

Synopsis – From Goodreads: “Bear can’t wait to go to sleep.

But Duck wants to hang out.

How will Bear ever fall asleep?”

Why I liked this book- This is a cute book. One character wants to sleep, the other doesn’t. A perfect scenario for mischief! I like Bear’s expressions, and Duck’s wild ideas. The story has a hint of an endless cycle, and a lot of fun. The pictures make you smile and laugh. Mr. John and Mr. Davies make a great team together, and it really keeps you on your toes. Just when you think you know what will happen next, you are in for a surprise! :) I love this book!

Activities and Resources- 

Talk with your child about bedtimes. Maybe about how they should respect other people’s bedtimes, and not bother them unless if absolutely necessary.

Maybe talk about how Duck could have been a better neighbor to bear.

Check out  the trailer!

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

 

 

 

Creative Kid Thursday! Matt Nadel – Author, Baseball Historian, Blogger

9 Apr

Have I got a Creative Kid for you! Matt Nadel is a 16-year-old baseball historian who has written his own book about baseball!

 

Meet Matt!

 

matt_nadel

Matt Nadel, age 16, is MLB.com’s youngest baseball history Pro Blogger. He was appointed a Pro Blogger in 2012 by MLB’s official historian, John Thorn. Matt blogs mainly about baseball history and his favorite era is the 40s and 50s.  His favorite team today is the Yankees.  Matt started blogging about baseball history back in April 2012, because he was finding that many of his friends knew very little about it, and he thought that a blog would be a fun way to teach kids and even some adults about it. He knows a lot about baseball history including every World Series winner (going back to 1903) by heart.

Matt’s has written almost 350 posts, in addition to a book, Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers: An Introduction To Baseball History. He has appeared in TV and in many newspapers. He hopes to one day be a baseball historian, journalist and broadcaster.

Matt has agreed to an interview with me about him, his book, and baseball. Enjoy!

Erik: There is a TON of baseball information you put forward in this book. As a book reviewer I am impressed at how clearly and well-presented it all is. Do you keep all this stuff in your head or do you have to reference your own book in remembering some of these stats?

Matt: I do know a lot of what’s in my book, but I do reference it from time to time if I’m not too sure about a specific moment, player, or team.

Erik: Makes sense – the book is a great reference! What do you feel your biggest accomplishment is – outside and unrelated to baseball?

Matt: My biggest accomplishment outside of baseball is assisting at the special needs karate class at the karate studio I used to go to for lessons, Hwang Martial Arts in Springfield, New Jersey. It really warms my heart to see those kids punch a bag or do a form. It’s really inspirational. 

Erik: That is rewarding! I help teach a younger kids class at my Dojo too. I enjoy it very much. It is awesome that you are donating your profits from the book to The Jackie Robinson Foundation, the ALS Association, the National Baseball Hall of Fame Foundation, and the Turn 2 Foundation. What was your motivation for writing the book?

Matt: I had been doing the blog for about a year when the idea for the book came to me. Basically, I wanted to put every single thing that is important to baseball’s history into one little children’s book. I wanted the book to teach kids about baseball history and I think it accomplishes this. 

Erik: It is a great book for kids to learn about and appreciate the great players in baseball history. I am a Philly guy and the Phillies are my hometown team.  In my opinion, there is nothing better than to go to an afternoon game. I’ve found that when I can’t physically be at the ballpark, I prefer to listen to the game over the internet/radio rather than watch on TV. Maybe it’s because of the announcers (Scott Franzke, Larry Anderson and Jim Jackson) and how they describe the action. Who do you think are some the best play-by-play broadcasters?

Matt: Right now in the MLB, Eric Nadel (no relation) for the Rangers and Greg Brown for the Pirates are probably at the top of my list. Of course, I have to include the legends, like Vin Scully, Bob Uecker, Mel Allen, Ernie Harwell, Red Barber, and Harry Caray.

Erik: Lets not forget Harry Kalas. ;) Do you play organized baseball?

Matt: I play for my school’s varsity team, the Golda Och Academy Roadrunners. Last year, I was placed in the outfield due to injuries, so I’ll probably be in the outfield again this year. 

Erik: I am a baseball fan and I learned a lot from your book. The text is written very well and even someone who is only a casual fan will appreciate the history in it. Name the most surprising thing you learned from doing the research for your book.

Matt: Some of the stuff on extra innings jumped out at me, like the minor league game that featured future Hall of Famers Wade Boggs and Cal Ripken Jr., but probably the most surprising thing a learned was the backstories of all the greats and how they progressed through their careers. Pure statistics don’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t talk about the lives of the legends before they entered the game and to me, that stuff is so intriguing.

Erik: Thanks for taking time to answer my questions Matt!

 

Now I’d like to tell you a bit about Matt’s book.

aaronAmazing Aaron to Zero Zippers

By Matt Nadel

112 pages – ages 10+

Published by Summer Game Books on March 23, 2015

Goodreads Summary

Matt Nadel is a 15-year-old baseball historian whose blog and media appearances are fast-propelling him to national prominence. Matt has written a thorough and accessible book on the biggest stars, greatest games, and most amazing feats in baseball history. Richly illustrated, the text includes bios of Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Jackie Robinson, and many others; descriptions of classic ballparks like Fenway and Wrigley and great franchises like Brooklyn and the Yankees; a section on the Negro Leagues and other professional leagues; and the expert lowdown on stolen bases, perfect games, triple crowns, and even the baseball uniforms!
Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers is the go-to resource for anyone looking to learn everything important about the history of America’s greatest game, and learn it in a fast, fun way. Filled with incredible, classic photos from the official Baseball Hall of Fame Archives, it is a primer for baseball beginners, a resource for developing fans, and a treat for long-time devotees who will love having so much essential baseball knowledge in one convenient place.

What I thought – This was a well-written resource for anyone interested in baseball or history in general. It is organized and flows well which is  quite a feat considering the amount of information packed into the book. The text is easy to follow and is referenced well. The reader can tell there was a lot of careful research done for the book. I liked how Matt not only included baseball stats but also glimpses into the lives and personalities of the players. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone will be writing a book about Matt in a few years! 

Five out of five bookworms! fivebooks

Want to learn more?

Check out Matt’s book on Summer Game Books website – click HERE.

Follow Matt –

Baseball with Matt – Blog

Twitter- @BaseballwMatt

Everyday Bento by Wendy Thorpe Copley

8 Apr

bentoEveryday Bento: 50 Cute and Yummy Lunches To Go

By Wendy Thorpe Copley

120 pages – ages 12+

Published by Tuttle Publishing on March 4, 2014

Synopsis- Do you know the way to make a quick, healthy, and fun lunch that looks nice? Well, if not, have you ever tried bento? You don’t know what bento means? Bento is a Japanese style meal that is packed into a box and able to be taken along with you. This book gives you simple recipes on how to make bento box meals with American items and a lot of fun!

What I Thought- This was a nice recipe book. Ms. Copley has written a comprehensive guide to making bento boxes for the beginners.  The recipes are simple and really easy to understand. This isn’t really a kids book but I bet any kid would love to get packed lunches like this!

bento2 bento3

Plus it makes a great parent kids activity – making great lunches! The book covers the basics and the tools you might want to get to make the fun shapes and molds. Some of the recipes are more complicated than others, and would take more time to make, but you can get some great ideas from it. There are easy-to-follow instructions and pictures. All in all, this is a really nice book! We (meaning mom and me) used some of the things we had around the house and the pictures and guides from the book and created a bento box lunch! How did we do?

IMG_0026

I give “Everyday Bento” four out of five bookworms!fourbooks

Check out the Every Day Bento website for ideas and video tutorials! Click HERE

Review! The Zodiac Legacy: The Convergence by Stan Lee and Stuart Moore

7 Apr

zodiacThe Zodiac Legacy: The Convergence (Book 1)
Written by Stan Lee and Stuart Moore
Illustrated by Andie Tong
480 pages – ages 8+
Published by Disney Press on January 27, 2015

Synopsis- Steven Lee had no idea what he was getting into when he stumbled upon a huge underground warehouse-thingy where some strange ceremony is taking place. He somehow gets involved in a hidden battle to stop a power-hungry man who is now one of the most powerful men on Earth. The powers of the Zodiac animals were released into the world to find their “perfect host”, and the Tiger has settled in Steven’s body. Several of the receivers of the power are agents of the evil man – a man who holds the most powerful power – the Dragon. Steven needs to think fast, harness his new powers and stop the madman’s plot.

zodiac2

What I Thought- HOLY GUACAMOLE! This was a great book! I am a HUGE fan of Stan Lee so I was all over this book when it came out. I am happy to say, this book did not disappoint! Mr. Lee and Mr. Moore have crafted a riveting story packed with comic book action, fighting, mystery and super powers.  There is just the right amount of realism in the book to keep the reader thinking this really could be happening. Mr. Tong’s red, black, and white illustrations pop-up throughout the book. They look cool, and get the story into your head more. They give the story even more depth. The characters are well-developed, and were fun to read about and get to know. There are three planned books in the series. The ending of this book is quite a cliff hanger, but there is enough wrapped up in the story that the reader is not disappointed.  A lot of kids and adults will read this just because Stan Lee wrote a middle grade book. For a kid-comic book fan like me, it was just what I would have wanted.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

WANT TO KNOW MORE?!?

You can read about the creators of the series HERE.

Check out the website HERE.

Disney has a teacher’s guide to go with the book. Click HERE to get it.

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