Tag Archives: book review

Review! Why’d They Wear That? by Sarah Albee

26 May

whyWhy’d They Wear That?: Fashion as the Mirror of History

Written by Sarah Albee

Foreword by Tim Gunn

192 pages – ages 10+

Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on February 10, 2015

Synopsis- Have you ever wondered why the Greeks and Romans draped cloaks over themselves? Why we have “Royal Purple”? How ladies walked in gigantic hoop skirts? Well, this book tells the answers to these questions, and many more. They make you wonder, laugh, and feel sorry for the wearers (did they KNOW they were poisoning themselves???). Plunge into the history of fashion!

What I Thought- This is a really cool nonfiction book. It goes through a history of the known world, and teaches about how they made clothes or why they did them like that. I like how this book teaches kids more than they would think about a time period. The book is written in paragraphs, with little fact boxes, captions, and real photos/paintings/art. It makes it all visually interesting. The paragraphs are in columns, like a newspaper, but dotted with pictures and mini fact boxes. The book mostly focuses on the rich of the time, mostly because they were the ones with the most outrageous fashions. It explains that in Renaissance times, women would eat arsenic wafers to get that shade of deathly pale just right. Ms. Albee has written a wonderful nonfiction book that will get kids thinking about history from a different point of view. This was a really cool book that makes you really wonder about the history (and future) of the world!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Sea Bones by Bob Barner AND NEW Write Chat Episode!

22 May

Happy Friday!

Before I get to my Perfect Picture Book Pick, I wanted to ask that, after you are done here, click on over to The Write Chat, the Vlog that Felicia (kid author and creator of the Stanley and Katrina blog) and I started. We are interviewing – the Super-Folding Author Tom Angleberger!!!!!!




Now back to your regularly scheduled review.

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 fun nonfiction book for school.

saebonesSea Bones
By Bob Barner
32 pages – ages 4+
Published by Chronicle Books on April 14, 2015

Theme/Topic- Things in the sea

Genre- Nonfiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening – “Wonderful creatures live in the sea.

Synopsis – From Goodreads: “Author and illustrator Bob Barner makes waves with his signature rhyming text and colorful illustrations in this lush picture book about the sea. Filled with incredible fishy facts about vertebrates, invertebrates, endoskeletons, and exoskeletons, plus an underwater informational chart, Sea Bones will make young readers want to dive right in!

Why I liked this book- This is a really cool book that teaches you a lot of things about creatures of the sea, and their structural supports. The torn paper pictures have a cool feel to them that makes you want to look at them for ages.

Sea-Bones2The book is meant for younger kids – to introduce them to vertebrates and invertebrates that live in the sea and I think the illustrations do a lot to capture your imagination. The story has a sing-song rhyme to it that makes the text flow.

The book has a cool fact paragraph near the bottom of the page for more advanced readers/read-alouds. The book includes a mini-chart on sea animals and their structural supports. It inspired me to ask about other fish. It is a really cool nonfiction book for younger kids!

Activities and Resources- 

 You don’t have to go far for a resource – there is a handy reference chart in the back of the book to help explain the sea animals and their structures.

Why don’t you make up your own sea animal and design a structure for it? What will it look like? How will it live?

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

Review! 50 Things You Should Know About The First World War by Jim Eldridge

21 May

WWI50 Things You Should Know About The First World War

Edited by Jim Eldridge

80 pages – ages 8+

Published by QEB Publishing on July 1st 2014

Synopsis- Have you ever wondered what really happened in World War I? I mean, as a kid, I hear and learn more about World War II but a lot of what goes on in WWI sets up what goes on in WWII! Did you know that it was when poison gasses were invented, tanks were made, and it was a turning point in women’s rights? Read this book packed with 50 facts about a war that changed the face of the world.

What I Thought- This was a great nonfictional resource. The reading level, amount of information and writing are all very kid-friendly. It includes real pictures of people, places, and events. The book has fact boxes that are an easy learning tool about what happened. I learned several things that I didn’t know about the war and I am a history buff. I learned about the sinking of the Lusitania, the Christmas Truce, and how Zeppelins were used. The book made me want to look up even more information about WWI. This is a great resource book for history classes or kids interested in history.

I give this 5 out of 5 bookworms! fivebooks

Review! The Flying Burgowski by Gretchen K. Wing

20 May

flyingThe Flying Burgowski

By Gretchen K. Wing

254 pages – ages 12+

Published by Gretchen K Wing on February 25, 2014

Synopsis- 14-year-old Jocelyn Burgowski knew her life was terrible. She actually preferred her flying dreams to her real-life – getting lost in her thoughts about flying. On her next birthday, amazingly, she CAN fly! She just leaps into the air and all of a sudden, her life was perfect! Her jerk of a brother was leaving to live with their alcoholic Mom (on the main land) for the summer, she got his job, and now she really could fly! Perfect… not so much. She finds out that she’ll be going to stay with her Mom too. In the very crowded city! This means little open spaces and no room to fly and right next to all the problems she thought she was leaving behind.

What I Thought- This was a really good book! Jocelyn is a great main character whom you really feel for! Her life is extremely miserable and depressing, you just want to cheer her on especially when she realizes she can fly. The characters in the book cuss, but Jocelyn, because she is “writing” the book, translates/censors some of them. The family has some troubles – the mom is mentioned to have at some point been a druggie and alcoholic, but is (mostly) clean now. Despite these depressing points, the book has a positive feel, a happy ending and the story never seems to drag. Ms. Wing’s writing style is realistic, and feels like a written journal. She makes you feel like there is no hope left for Jocelyn, and then suddenly adds rays of hope. Bonus points for a cool cover! I hope that there is a second book, but this could be a stand alone novel.

I give this 4 out of 5 bookworms.fourbooks

Review! Gabby Duran & The Unsittables by Elise Allen & Daryle Conners

18 May
First – some undone business. My initial winner of the Isle of the Lost Prize Pack (kindly provided by Disney Publishing) never contacted me with her email address. I have randomly chosen another. Congratulations Kate Dillon – WINNER & middle school librarian!!! :) I will be contacting you to get the address you want  your prize sent to.
Prizing and samples provided by Disney Publishing.

Prizing and samples provided by Disney Publishing.


gabbyGabby Duran & The Unsittables

By Elise Allen & Daryle Conners

208 pages – ages 8+

Published by Disney Hyperion on May 12, 2015

Synopsis- Gabby Duran is a world famous babysitter. She has clients all over the world. But when Gabby gets approached by “Edwina” from the The Association Linking Intergalatics and Earthlings (A.L.I.E.N.) with a special offer, Gabby is reluctant to agree, even with the wages offered. She has other clients! Then Gabby realizes that, with this job, she will have clients that are out of this world! She learns that aliens live on Earth alongside humans. They do a great job of blending in, but they need a babysitter who can be trusted. Babysitting aliens may be more than Gabby bargained for.

What I Thought- This was a great story about how you should go all in for what you like to do, and do it well. Gabby sacrificed her own free-time (and sometimes her safety) for other people. Gabby really is a role model. She’s clever, fun, and plays an instrument in school band.  The plot is exciting and full of twists and turns. I like the character of Lee, Gabby’s best friend. She’s an eccentric, smart, geeky inventor. The authors really capture the sense of realism, even in the midst of aliens. Their writing style kept me reading and offered a fresh twist on a babysitting story. Boys and girls will like this one. The  book was funny, action-packed, and altogether a great read.

I give this 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Orangutan Houdini by Laurel Neme

17 May

orangutanOrangutan Houdini

Written by Laurel Neme

Illustrated by Kathie Kelleher

32 pages – ages 5+

Published by Bunker Hill Publishing Inc on October 8, 2014

Synopsis- Fu Manchu is the head orangutan at the Henry Doorly Zoo. And he’s an escape artist! Several times, Fu and his troop mysteriously appear in another area of the zoo, outside of an exhibit. And the people in charge are sure the door was locked… What is going on? How do they keep going out?

What I Thought- This is a cool book based on a real person – ER – Orangutan. Fu Manchu (love the name) was a real ape, who really did escape the enclosure in his zoo. The illustrations compliment the story well and add detail and some humor to the enjoyable text. They capture the feeling of cleverness, good-nature, and humor of the characters perfectly. The story is not necessarily laugh out loud funny, but it definitely has some giggle moments. This book can get kids interested in orangutans, zoos, or locks. I am thoroughly impressed with Fu’s lock-picking skills. There are some words in the text that will be difficult for smaller children to read it independently, but I think it is a wonderful read aloud for kids and adults to share together. This is a really cool book I am sure many kids will enjoy!

I give “Orangutan Houdini” four out of five bookworms!fourbooks

I love the jazzy trailer!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Yummy Stories by Lil L. Alexander

15 May

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 cute way to get kids to eat healthy!

yummyYummy Stories

By Lil L. Alexander
Illustrations by Anda Cofaru
56 pages – ages 3+
Published by CreateSpace on December 9, 2014

Theme/Topic- Nutrition / Life Lessons

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening – “Once upon a time, there was a tiny pea, merry and green, called Peachy Pea.”

Synopsis – From Goodreads: 

Why I liked this book- It’s awesome how this book multitasks – it teaches about eating veggies and fruits (they take place in the stories, and they’re in the background – often part of the scenery), but it also teaches life lessons on being kind, friendly, honest, etc. The illustrations are really cute and make you feel great inside. The mini-stories it has are told like old-time fairy tale, or are played off of one. There are six stories in all. Ms. Alexander’s style is a cute, warm story.  Not many Self-Published Books get on my Perfect Picture Book Friday posts, but I really liked it promotes healthy eating. This is a great book for bedtimes, as it can be read in several nights.

Activities and Resources- 

Get kids to be interested in healthy food by creating food art! You can make an image out of veggies and fruits! Be creative – then you get to eat it! (Images have a Creative Commons public license).

kiwi-583162_640 banana-342575_640

Make your own story involving healthy foods! Who would be in it?

I wrote mine by fracturing/retelling a fairy tale / poem (I think Mother Goose):

Jack Horn could eat no corn,

His wife could eat no bean,

So between the two of them,

They ate the garden clean.

To learn more about Yummy Stories, food art, and organic gardening, please visit Ms. Alexander’s website HERE.




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


Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco by Julie Anne Grasso

14 May

frankie2Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco

By Julie Anne Grasso

Illustrated by Alexander Avellino

100 pages – ages 8+

Published by  Julie Anne Grasso on March 29, 2015

Synopsis- Frankie Dupont, kid Private Investigator, is back in an all new adventure! When a teacher gives the head teacher at school a lemon meringue pie and he gets sick from it, Frankie Dupont gets suspicious! It all leads back to the mysterious Enderby Manor which is having a lemon festival but the lemon trees are dying! Frankie is on the case!

What I Thought- Frankie Dupont is a great series! (Read my review of book 1 HERE!)It really draws you into the book. Ms. Grasso has a whimsical writing style that makes the book fun to read. I like how she puts clues out in the story but makes the reader work to get them. The story makes a perfect mystery for young readers. It has just the right amount of twists, turns and suspense. Frankie is a great character that seems resourceful and like a good kid. This Early Chapter Book has several black-and-white illustrations scattered throughout the book. I thought they were nice, but wasn’t fond of them making Frankie look older than he is – but that was a minor thing. All in all, this book is marvelous! It is well-edited, well-written, and well-done – well, well, well! :) Looking forward to book three!

I give Frankie Dupont and the Lemon Festival Fiasco 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Andy Smithson: Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace by L.R.W. Lee

13 May

rlleeResurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace
Andy Smithson Series Book 4
By L.R.W. Lee
208 pages- ages 9+
Published by CreateSpace on April 24, 2015

Synopsis- Andy Smithson is back in an all new adventure! When the strange vulture men, henchmen/birds/things of King Abaddon, (sworn enemy of Andy, King Hercalon V, and all of the land of Oomaldee), start appearing in Earth, they appear to be searching for Andy! They even invade his house! Andy suddenly appears in Oomaldee (the teleportation always happens at bad times) and finds his friends. He gets the next clue to find the cure to the curse of Oomaldee. It then involves into a full-scale adventure against Abaddon while trying to save the legendary Phoenix!

What I Thought- I really enjoyed this book. It had everything I loved in the other books in the Andy Smithson series, plus more! Mrs. Lee writes a thrilling action-adventure story that keeps you on the edge of your bean bag chair (a very hard thing to do – you always sink into a bean bag chair…). I will admit, I stayed up a little too late finishing this book – it was that good! Mrs. Lee has a talent for writing fantasy for middle graders. She develops a world and characters that are exciting and adventurous but keeps it age-appropriate for her audience. The story flows well and has enough action to keep the reader wanting to read more. I really like how there are some new characters introduced in this book, and some old ones reunited. It made a great read.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Disney WINNER & Review! Cindercast: A Tale of Tides by Michael Blackbourn

12 May

Well, today is the day! The day that I announce the winner of the Disney Descendents: Isle of the Lost Prize Pack Giveaway!

See my review of Isle of the Lost HERE!

The prize pack, courtesy of Disney Publishing, includes:

Prizing and samples provided by Disney Publishing.

Prizing and samples provided by Disney Publishing.


a copy of The Isle of the Lost;

branded tank top, water bottle and temporary tattoos;

and a GadgetGrip smartphone home button sticker.

And the lucky winner is…

Jazmyn Franklin!!!!

[ Ms. Franklin, you forgot to leave your email! If I don’t hear from you in three days, I will pick another winner. ]

Now, onto the review!

cinderCindercast: A Tale of Tides

By Michael Blackbourn

162 pages – ages 8+

Published by CreateSpace  on February 6, 2015

Synopsis- Ollie is a Seelie. They are like humans (AKA UnSeelies), but really really small. They could fit on your pinkie fingernail. When Ollie got sucked in by a sea storm, she gets tossed, turned, and lost. She finds herself on an unknown beach, with only her best friend Snarz (a small crab) to help her. With spiders, seagulls, and angry crabs, including mysterious cubes called Cindercubes, will she ever make it home?

What I Thought- This was a nice book. Although the publisher says it’s Middle Grade, it could fit into Early Middle Grade/Late Early Chapter Book. A lot of obstacles pop up in the book, but there wasn’t as much plot development that I would have liked in a middle-grade book. The book doesn’t resolve the main problem – Ollie knows of a place to go, but doesn’t go there, but the story feels complete and leaves room for the second book. The book was well-written and Mr. Blackbourn has a fun writing style that is enjoyable to read. You really immerse yourself into the world of a traveling Seelie. I would be happy to read book 2.

I give this 4 out of 5 bookworms.fourbooks


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