Review! Double Cross: Deception Techniques in War by Paul B. Janeczko

26 Apr

Double Cross: Deception Techniques in War
by Paul B. Janeczko
256 pages – ages 9+
Published by Candlewick Press on April 25th, 2017 (TODAY!)

Synopsis From Publisher- “The biblical account of Gideon. The ancient story of the Trojan horse. Deceptive techniques have been used in war through the ages. But while the principles have changed very little, the technology behind fooling the enemy has evolved dramatically. Paul B. Janeczko’s fascinating chronology focuses on the American Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf Wars to reveal evolving attitudes toward the use and effectiveness of deceptive operations. Find out the secret plan behind the invasion of Normandy and the details of General Schwarzkopf’s “Hail Mary play” during the Gulf War, among many other strategies and maneuvers designed to pull the wool over enemies’ eyes. Back matter includes source notes, a bibliography, and an index.”

What I Thought- This is a fabulous nonfiction book. Janeczko analyzes major techniques of deception throughout history, featuring medieval strategies and deceptions all the way up to the Gulf War. I learned a lot about military strategy, and the different types of deception. It was fascinating to learn about the deceptions pulled off during WWII, because those were some grand-scale deceptions! This was a very informative nonfiction novel, with real pictures and maps, and more information in the back as well. It is neat how the book takes in depth looks at major strategies, but still keeps the reading level and content for younger kids. He will spend a chapter or two on a war and major deceptions within them, making sure to explain the topics well. There are also pages of extra information scattered throughout the book that explains miscellaneous ideas about deception. Janeczko really knows how to make nonfiction intriguing, and I cannot wait to read more of his work!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! The Case of the Poached Egg by Robin Newman

24 Apr

Wilcox and Griswold: The Case of the Poached Egg
Written by Robin Newman
Illustrated by Deborah Zemke
48 pages – ages 6+
Published by Creston Books on April 2, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher- When Penny goes missing from the nest, Wilcox and Griswold are called in to track her down. Was the egg stolen by a rival for The Most Round in the Spring Egg-stravaganza? Was she used in a carrot cake or scrambled by a hungry porker? Or was she held for a hefty corn ransom? Who took Penny and can the detectives find her before trouble hatches?

What I Thought- Newman has written a nice sequel to her original book “The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake” (see my review HERE!). This early reader series is more challenging than a picture book and easier than a small novel, making it a great transition book. I like that the books introduce kids to detective processes, such as analyzing clues and using deductive reasoning, and also to mystery novels. The book has a slightly more serious mood to it compared to the first book, but does include some puns and silly situations as well. I like the feel of the story, it is more of a mystery/crime solving book for little kids. The Wilcox and Griswold characters are wonderful and will quickly become a reader’s favorite. This would be a fun read-aloud, with parents and kids trying to figure out who look Henrietta’s egg. Zemke’s illustrations have a really neat Roald Dahl-esque feel to them, with an ink-and-watercolor style, and wacky circumstances. I feel that Zemke and Newman have a rather good collaboration together. I can’t wait to see what else they can come up with!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Check out the book’s trailer!

 

Perfect Picture Book(s) Friday! Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History and How to Be a Bigger Bunny

14 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 motivating story about a man who changed history!

I actually have two book reviews here today! The second book I am going to review is How to Be a Bigger Bunny by By Wendell and Florence Minor. I did have this book scheduled for today but the great Miss Marple beat me to nominating it! I guess that means it really is a perfect picture book if everyone is nominating it! 😉

Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History
Written by Walter Dean Myers
Illustrated by Floyd Cooper
40 pages – ages 5+

Published by HarperCollins on January 24, 2017

Theme/Topic- Perseverance / Standing up for your beliefs
Genre- Nonfiction
Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “This is the story of how one man’s careful decisions and many accomplishments not only made his own life better but in many ways changed the history of America”

Synopsis from Publisher: “Frederick Douglass was a self-educated slave in the South who grew up to become an icon. He was a leader of the abolitionist movement, a celebrated writer, an esteemed speaker, and a social reformer, proving that, as he said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.””

What I Thought- Myers has written a great picture book biography. I like that it delves into the evil of slavery, but in a completely age-appropriate manner. The book mentions how it affected Douglass, and how he overcame it. It covers major points in Douglass’ life, and how he always used his words to speak up. Cooper’s illustrations are perfect for the story, making it realistic with a stunning historic quality to them. The book is a bit lengthy, seeing as it is a very informative biography, and would make a good book for an introduction to a topic in school. There is also a page in the back with information on Douglass, going into more depth than the book. Douglass was an inspiring man, and this book definitely captures his spirit!

Activities and Resources- Biography.com has a page about Frederick Douglass – if you want to learn more, you can go HERE.

Allprodad.com has a great list on ways to help your children be able to stand up for what is right HERE.

Read a sample at the publisher’s website HERE.

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

Now on to How to Be A Bigger Bunny!

How to Be a Bigger Bunny
By Wendell and Florence Minor (co-authors)
32 pages – ages 4+
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 24, 2017

Synopsis- Tickles was the smallest bunny in her family, and her siblings would always leave her behind when they went on adventures. Tickles always ended up reading in her favorite reading spot. She reads about bunnies that teach her to be brave, courageous, and persistent. So when her bunny family doesn’t come back late at night, Tickles realizes she must find them. But what can a bunny do when they’re trapped in a log with a large rock on the end?

What I thought – First off I love the name of the small bunny – Tickles! It just makes you smile! I also love that Tickles likes to read. She relies on stories to help save the day when her family is in trouble. The story is sweet and there is a lot of fun word play. The illustrations are lush and  pleasing to look at. The pacing of the story is spot on and will keep kids wanting to know what happens next. Tickles may  be the smallest bunny but she certainly leaves a big impression!

Five of five book worms!

Creative Kid Thursday – Review & Giveaway! – Vampirina at the Beach #VampirinaBallerina

13 Apr

Today is Creative Kid Thursday!

I have a packed full of wonderful post today!

First the Creative Kid of today is my sister Josie! Josie is a guest reviewer for a book she is head-over-heels in love with. After her review – stay tuned for a GREAT giveaway where you can win an AWESOME prize pack!

Thank you to Disney-Hyperion for sending the copy and providing the prize pack!

Vampirina At The Beach (Vampirina Ballerina Series)
Written by Ann Marie Pace
Illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Release: April 4th, 2017, by Disney-Hyperion
Recommended for ages 2-6

Synopsis from the Publisher-When the summer moon is full, a beach trip is an epic way to spend the night. 

With her signature poise, Vampirina and her clan gear up for a festive time at the beach. Keeping her ballet lessons in mind, Vampirina demi-pliés on a surfboard, leaps for a volleyball, and finishes each competition with style, even if she doesn’t always come out on top.”

What Josie Thought: I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! Vampirina is a very cool girl. I didn’t know about this series until I read this one and I asked my parents to get me the others. I like how Vampirina is a ballet dancer but not a “girly girl.” I like how she puts dancing into the volleyball game! It’s cool that if you were just reading the words you would think it was a “normal” beach story until you see all the characters are monsters. 😉 Almost all of them – there is one “normal” family, but they turn out to be  werewolves – that had me surprised. The pictures in the book are amazing!

There are a lot of things going on in them. I think Vampirina is cute. I am excited that Vampirina is going to be a show on Disney Junior now! Plus – because Erik won’t let me enter the giveaway, I am going to go get my own Vampirina doll. :p

I want to give this book ten bookworms but Erik only has his thing going to five so I give it five out of five!

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!!!

A week from today Josie will put all commentor’s names in a hat an pick one out at random to win ——

.

One winner receives:

  • Vampirina Ballerina
  • Vampirina Ballerina Hosts a Sleepover
  • Vampirina at the Beach
  • plus a branded beach ball and tumbler!

 Open to US addresses only.

Prizing and samples provided by Disney-Hyperion.

Visit the Official Site

Follow Disney-Hyperion on Twitter and Instagram

Hashtag #VampirinaBallerina

About the Author

Anne Marie Pace (www.annemariepace.com) is the author of Vampirina Ballerina and Vampirina Hosts a Sleepover, and has had stories, poems, and articles for kids published in such magazines as Highlights for Children, My Friend, Wee Ones, and On the Line. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with her husband and four teenagers.

Blog Tour! Prisoner of Ice and Snow by Ruth Lauren with Interview and GIVEAWAY!!!

11 Apr

Prisoner of Ice and Snow
By Ruth Lauren
288 pages – ages 9+
Published by on April 4, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher-She’ll do anything to break her sister out of prison–even get arrested on purpose.

When thirteen-year-old Valor is sent to jail, she couldn’t be happier. Demidova’s prison for criminal children is exactly where she wants to be. Valor’s twin sister, Sasha, is serving a life sentence for stealing from the royal family, and Valor is going to help her escape . . . from the inside.

Never mind that no one has escaped the prison in centuries. Valor has a master plan and resources most people could only dream about. But she didn’t count on having to outsmart both the guards and her fellow prisoners. If Valor’s plan is to succeed, she’ll need to make some unlikely allies. And if the plan fails, she and Sasha could end up with fates worse than prison.”

What I Thought- This is probably one of the best debuts I’ve read in a while! The world is beautifully crafted, and there is a fascinating culture created. I am a fan of how the country appears as a nod to ancient Russian culture, and how the characters adapt to that. Which is another thing I loved – the characters are clever and they can think their way out of a problem. The ever present love for Sasha keeping Valor going is a nice touch as well – you would think it’d get annoying sometimes, but it never does. Lauren knows how to spin words in a way that keeps you on the edge of your seat – I read this entire book in one day. It’s not often that a debut author can do that. I cannot wait to see more books from Lauren!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Now for an exclusive interview with author Ruth Lauren!

1. Congratulations on your debut novel! I really enjoyed the action in it! How long have you been writing? Is this your first book ever written?

Thank you so much! I’m thrilled you enjoyed it. I’ve been writing for just about seven years now. PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW wasn’t the first book I’ve ever written, or even the second, or third. But it was my first fantasy book and the first with action/adventure in it. I had more fun and did less worrying (and actually less planning) than I’d done before.

2. How did you get the unique plan to have the main character be very talented, but who wants to go to a prison no one has escaped from?

I was actually watching the TV show Prison Break (which starts with a man robbing a bank in order to get arrested) with my son and I wondered what that sort of story would be like if it was about two young sisters instead. The Russia inspired fantasy land part of the idea came soon after as I thought about where I could place the sisters to make their escape even more challenging.

3. As I was reading the book, I kept thinking of Russian traditions and aspects – or at least that is the imagery that popped into my head – even though I know the world you created is not that. I am wondering if you did any research for the fabulous world building you did in this book?  If you did,  how did you decide to differentiate between fact-based and artistic liberty when creating your setting: place, culture, etc.?

There is definitely a Russian feel to the book, although I did take a huge amount of artistic liberty. I never intended any of the aspects to be fact-based, but I did look at maps as inspiration for the made up place names I used. I also used mainly Russian names for characters—although I took liberties with changing their use of patronymics to matronymics (surnames based on the character’s mother’s name) to match with the matriarchal world where power is handed down from mother to daughter.

I imagined a very cold and unforgiving climate and terrain for the setting and when I looked at images on Pinterest, a lot of Russian landscape came up. I make boards for every idea that I have and I find it really helps me to visualize the world and individual scenes if can link them to a picture. For this book, I wanted a very cold, snowy, frozen world where the elements themselves could cause problems for the characters and bleed through into every part of the planning Valor has to do to try to break her sister out of prison.

4. One of the things I liked was that there is no magic prevalent in the story. I often think magic is an easy fall-back for authors when they get stuck. Instead you create quick thinking and daring characters that move the plot along. Did you enjoy the challenge of creating a world where magic is not a deus ex machina?

I enjoyed writing this book and figuring out a fast moving plot immensely, but I actually think including magic might have made it more difficult to write rather than easier. I find the idea of inventing a magic system that makes sense quite daunting!

5. Your heroine, Valor, is a wonderful character that I think both boys and girls will relate to.  How did you come up with Valor? Is she based on anyone?

Thank you! And I do hope so.

Valor was the first character I really thought about within the story, with her apprenticeship to her huntswoman mother as the reason she’s so adept with her bow and with so many other physical challenges. Her character built from her skills and her interest in being outdoors, reacting quickly to situations and therefore maybe not always thinking first—especially when it comes to saying the right thing. She’s fiercely loyal and determined but that sometimes prevents her from understanding other people’s points of view when she’s launching headlong into action. She’s not really based on anyone, but there are aspects of me in her (not the brave parts) and aspects of me in Sasha too.

6. Was there something I should have asked you but didn’t?

I don’t think so. But I would like to say thank you very much for having me!

7. Is there anything in the works you would like to tell the readers about?

I’m excited to say that there is! There’ll be a sequel to PRISONER OF ICE AND SNOW. It’s called SEEKER OF THE CROWN, coming from Bloomsbury in April 2018. No spoilers, but I can’t wait to go back to Demidova with Valor and Sasha for more adventures. I’m also currently outlining a middle grade sci-fi standalone set on another planet, which I hope you’ll get to read one day.

You can have a chance at winning a copy of this book!

Just click HERE for the Rafflecopter. (Only open to US/CAN addresses)

Only available for four more days!!

Review! The Great Sugar War by Benjamin Ellefson

11 Apr

The Great Sugar War
Written by Benjamin Ellefson
Illustrated by Kevin Cannon
168 pages – ages 9+
Published by Beaver’s Pond Press on December 28, 2016

Synopsis- We return to the Land of Color to follow the tale of Otto, who is the grandfather of Alvin, the main character of The Land Without Color (see my review HERE)! Otto was sailing on a new boat he got for a present, but went off course and ended up rescuing up a soldier whose ship had sank. The Land of Color is at war with the Land of Shapes, and Otto has got himself into the middle of it all. Using his ingenuity, Otto and the soldier work together to stop a new menace – the evil sugar soldiers. Now that the Lands of Color and Shapes have a common enemy, can they put aside their differences to stop them from taking over?

What I Thought- This is a nice prequel to The Land Without Color, andEllefson keeps the spirit of the first true to this book as well. I like that there is a message about eating good healthy foods, but it isn’t forced upon the readers – just subtly stated as the better option. That is good, so kids won’t be turned away from eating veggies as much. Ellefson has a great writing style, where you really connect with the characters. I also like that the character of Otto inspires ingenuity, because even if a problem arises he will look around and find a creative way out of the problem. This is a really neat series; I like how there are things that occur in it that have blatant disregard for the laws of reality – that makes it more fun! I cannot wait for the last book in this series!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! Touch the Earth by Julian Lennon and Bart Davis

10 Apr

Just in time for Earth Day!

Touch the Earth
Co-Written by Julian Lennon and Bart Davis
Illustrated by Smiljana Coh
pages – ages 5+
Will be Published by Sky Pony Press on April 11, 2017 (Tomorrow!)

Synopsis From Publisher- From internationally known singer, songwriter, and environmental activist Julian Lennon—along with New York Times bestselling author Bart Davis and beloved Croatian illustrator Smiljana Coh—comes TOUCH THE EARTH, an inspiring and lyrical story about how children can change the word and make it a better place.
In this debut picture book, readers will jump aboard the White Feather Flier, a magical plane that can go wherever you want, just point it up in the air, or down into the water. The White Feather Flier’s mission is to take children to places all over the world, engage them in helping to save the environment, and teach them how to keep it clean for future generations.
A passion project that comes from the heart, this stunningly illustrated book is inspired by the white feather he was given by his father when he was young. TOUCH THE EARTH is the first in a planned trilogy of similarly-themed picture books, and each will be released one year apart on Earth Day. A thrilling interactive experience à la Press Here, readers will participate in the action by pushing buttons within the book to help “fly the plane.”
Lennon has written an original poem to accompany the release of this legacy book, and all proceeds will be donated to the White Feather Foundation.”

What I Thought- This book has a really nice message of helping the Earth, and doing what you can to help out. The reader guides a plane through the story with interactive instructions on which direction the plane will fly. In addition to the book  teaches North, South, East and West directions.  Readers are asked to tilt the book and push buttons.  I love how the wings of the magical plane are feathers. The illustrations are gorgeous, and have a magical quality about them. I like how the book shows environmental troubles in the world (particularly focusing on water), but it also shows solutions. The interactive part of the book is at times a bit clunky, but it doesn’t distract from the story and mostly adds dimension to the adventure. This book would be great for kids to read with an adult. This book is a great way to broach the topic of caring for the Earth, and participating in Earth Day. Lennon’s poem an author’s note in the back of the book are wonderful additions. I think he could have used the text of the poem as a stand alone book – it’s very moving. Overall, the book is a solid collaboration of text and illustration. I am looking forward to the next two books when they come out!

Visit the White Feather Foundation’s website

I give this book four out of five bookworms.

Review! Henry and the Chalk Dragon by Jennifer Trafton

3 Apr

Henry and the Chalk Dragon
Written by Jennifer Trafton
Illustrated by Benjamin Schipper
240 pages – ages 7+
Will be Published by Rabbit Room Press on April 4, 2017 (Tomorrow!)

Synopsis from the Publisher- In the town of Squashbuckle, just about anything can happen, and when eight-year-old Henry Penwhistle draws a mighty Chalk Dragon on his door, the dragon does what Henry least expects—it runs away. Now Henry’s art is out in the world for everyone to see, and it’s causing trouble for him and his schoolmates. To vanquish the beast, Henry must do more than catch his art—he has to let his imagination run wild. And that takes bravery.

What I Thought- This was a really good book! There is a fascinating concept behind the story – what happens when creativity is suppressed until it becomes its own sentient being? I like that the book shows that everyone has dreams and that they are all worthwhile and gives insight to ourselves. The book has a nice inspiring message, along with a really entertaining story. The narration is interesting, with an ingenuous style that leans towards humorous at times.  Trafton has written a marvelous story about not worrying if you fit the mold. Schipper has a great illustration style perfect for the book as well – they add a perfect touch to the story. I think the cover is stunning too. I also want to say that Trafton has a way of making you connect characters to people you know. Many of them seem familiar as if they were people in your home town. The dialogue is believable, adding to the depth of the characters. The setting doesn’t stand out so much, just a normal town with a fairly normal school – but that what makes the story so realistic (besides the art coming to life thing 😉 ) ! All in all, Trafton has written a fabulous story. I really recommend this book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Feel free to check out Jennifer Trafton’s website HERE, where it features a curriculum and coloring sheets, along with more information about the book!

The Worst Book I’ve Ever Read

1 Apr

Dear  reader – you’ve come to know that I like to talk about books I really enjoy. In fact, if I don’t like a book, I privately tell the author that it wasn’t for me and give him/her my review but don’t publish it. I want my blog to be about celebrating really awesome books to read.

There now has come a time when I have read a book so awful that I feel that I need to warn others not to buy it.

So why didn’t I like this book?

First off there is NO plot. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. From the title I thought it was going to be a story about being lost in the wilderness – kind of a My Side of the Mountain book, but as I started reading I was totally confused.

On the first page we meet the main character – Ariens, he’s a lumberjack. The reader is told he is dangerous and could potentially cause death. So now I am figuring it’s not a My Side of the Mountain book but more of a Goosebumps eerie – creepy tale.

Well as I read on, I learn practically nothing new about Ariens other than he needs to be stabilized -okay I get it, he’s a crazy dangerous lumberjack. Through the rest of the story, he really doesn’t do ANYTHING. I don’t even think he ever leaves his garage.

I suppose it should get points for being multilingual; it comes in French and Spanish.

I seriously had to choke down the rest of the book.

So as a service to you, kind reader; I warn you:

DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK!

APRIL FOOLS!

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Image result for april fools

Perfect Picture Book Friday! I Am Not a Chair! by Ross Burach

1 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 fun story about speaking up!

I Am Not a Chair!
By Ross Burach
40 pages – ages 4+

Published by HarperCollins on February 14, 2017

Theme/Topic- Speaking up for yourself

Genre- Fiction
Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “On Giraffe’s first day in the jungle…
he felt something wasn’t right.

Synopsis from Publisher: “Grab the best seat in the house with this funny, touching picture book about a giraffe who keeps being mistaken for a chair!

From the acclaimed author-illustrator of There’s a Giraffe in My Soup, Ross Burach, comes a curious tale about finding one’s courage and standing up for oneself. Full of vibrant and playful illustrations and hilariously absurd logic, kids will want to read it again and again.

Could there be anything worse for Giraffe? Maybe being sat on by a skunk or smooshed by two hapless hippos, or worst of all—cornered by a hungry lion? No one seems to notice that Giraffe is not standing around just to be sat upon. Will he be able to find his voice and make his friends realize who he really is?”

What I Thought- Ross Burach already showed his prowess with creating picture books with “There’s a Giraffe in My Soup!” (see my review HERE!), and let me tell you – he hasn’t lost anything with his next! I like the whimsy of the story, and how it handles being assertive in a simple way. Kids will laugh at the complete improbable-ness and funny situations, and won’t even realize they are learning! Mr. Burach is a great author who really understands what kids want in a picture book. I can’t wait to see what else he comes up with!

Activities and Resources- There is a great article about why and how to encourage assertiveness HERE at Liveyourlifewithyourkids.com!

There is also a really good list at Momentsaday.com with games you can play to help build assertive qualities for children HERE!

Check out the book’s trailer!

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

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