Double Review! Animal Bites from Animal Planet by Laaren Brown

26 Jul

wildanimalsWild Animals
Series: Animal Bites
Written by Laaren Brown
Photography from Various Artists
80 pages – ages 6+
Published by Animal Planet on June 21, 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis- “With more than 200 gorgeous animal photos of lions, giraffes, ibexes, flamingos, hippopotamuses, and many others, Animal Planet Wild Animals is a fun, habitat-by-habitat guide that provides kids in the first years of schooling with the perfect bite-sized view of their favorite wild animals. Arranged thematically with focus on animal behavior and family relationships, young readers will explore sections about animal bodies, baby animals, food, play time, conservation and more. Special book features designed for this age group include Quick Bites sidebars with cool animal facts, simple infographics, and illustrated maps of life in the African savannah and Amazon rain forest.”

 

farmanimalsFarm Animals
Series: Animal Bites
Written by Laaren Brown
Photography from Various Artists
80 pages – ages 6+
Published by Animal Planet on June 21, 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis- “With more than 200 gorgeous animal photos of cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, llamas, and many others, Animal Planet Farm Animals is a fun, habitat-by-habitat guide that provides kids in the first years of schooling with the perfect bite-sized view of their favorite farm animals. Arranged thematically with focus on animal behavior and family relationships, young readers will explore sections about animal bodies, baby animals, food, play time, conservation and more. Special book features designed for this age group include Quick Bites sidebars with cool animal facts, simple infographics, and illustrated maps of life in on the farm and at the petting zoo.”

What I Thought about these books- This was a nice look into basic farm animals that kids know and love and wild animals that some kids may never have heard of. The books are organized very well, and are eye-pleasing. Kids will love looking at the fact boxes and realizing that baby ostriches are as big as chickens when hatched and that a Valais Blacknose Sheep is about as tall as a skateboard. It includes ways that kids are similar to the animals, and things you can do to help the animals. The photos are big, bright, and capture the spirit of the animals! The author has a way of writing nonfiction while still making it interesting to kids, keeping them reading. I recommend these books to kids that want to know about these types of animals, and to classrooms to open a unit.

I give these books five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Swatch by Julia Denos

23 Jul

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 visually stunning.

swatchSwatch; The Girl Who Loved Color
By Julia Denos
40 pages – ages 5+

Published by Balzer + Bray on March 15, 2016

Theme/Topic- Art/Creativity

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “In a place where colors ran wild, there lived a girl who was wilder still.

Her name was Swatch, and she was a color tamer.”

Publisher’s Synopsis: “In a place where color ran wild, there lived a girl who was wilder still. Her name was Swatch, and color was her passion. From brave green to in-between gray to rumble-tumble pink . . . Swatch wanted to collect them all. But colors don’t always like to be tamed. . . “

What I Thought- The art in this book is phenomenal! It really does seem as if the colors are alive! It is a very unique idea, and I think one that has several subtle, underlying messages as well, such as it not being right to cage wild animals. Ms. Denos has a great writing style, reminding me of a fairytale. I enjoyed this book very much, and hope to read more by Ms. Denos!

swatch

Activities and Resources- Funathomewithkids.com has a great activity on ways to finger paint with children HERE. I think the activity will go great with the book!

For a full preview of the book, visit the HarperCollins website HERE.

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

Review! This is the Earth by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander

20 Jul

thisisThis is the Earth

Written by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander

Illustrated by Wendell Minor

40 pages – ages 5+

Published by HarperCollins on February 23, 2016

Synopsis- This is the Earth, where we all live. Only, humans aren’t the only things living on the Earth. We share this planet with all of the animals, the birds, and the fishes. If we ruin it, we will not have a world to live in. We need to change, for this is our Earth.

What I Thought- This is a gorgeous picture book about keeping the Earth clean. Shore and Alexander’s rhyming scheme is wonderfully subtle, in a sing-song way. The book shows the land getting more and more changed from humans. It introduces everything as “This is the…” such as “This is the land…This is the river…” etc. finally introducing “This is the landfill…This is the pipe”. I think that this was a great way of teaching about pollution and being green, as it then goes into things you can do. Minor’s illustrations are absolutely stunning, and are perfect for the book.

Here is a peek –

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For a full preview visit the HarperCollins website HERE

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Thief’s Apprentice by Bryan Methods

19 Jul

theifapprenticeMaster Diplexito and Mr. Scant: The Thief’s Apprentice

By Bryan Methods

272 pages – ages 9+

Will be published by Carolrhoda Books on October 1, 2016

Synopsis- The Ruminating Claw. A name with no face behind it. The greatest thief London – perhaps all of England, even – has ever know. The butler at Oliver Diplexito’s house. Of course, Oliver Diplexito (and his family) didn’t know this at the time. That is, Oliver didn’t know until the Claw was in their gallery battling a man with a sword. The Claw, AKA Mr. Scant, soon figures out that Oliver knows, and through some chain of events, Oliver gets caught up in the Claw’s thieving schemes. That is, if the Claw was the actual thief. It appears as if an elitist society has been trying to steal the priceless artifacts, which the Ruminating Claw steals back, and returns. An honorable ploy, yes, but one that doesn’t leave one with no enemies…

What I Thought- This was an awesome book! It is set in the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, and has a fair amount of steampunk mixed in – most of the world is average, but the claw that Mr. Scant wears is very steampunky, along with a few other details. I like that sort of mix. The plot is very thrilling, and keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting more. The small details really make the book, as you can really imagine as if this took place yesterday, or 100 years ago, which creates a timeless sort of feel. I really enjoyed this debut from Mr. Methods, and wish to read more of the series (of course, when they come out!)

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

My latest Scholastic News Article! Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea

18 Jul

My latest Scholastic News Article came out recently. It is about the Washed Ashore Art Project, a project where trash was collected from beaches in the northwest US to create sculptures of wildlife effected by trash.

Here is the opening: “An estimated 315 billion pounds of plastic trash are swimming in our oceans today. This mass of garbage is deadly to creatures that call the ocean their home. Yet many people are unaware of how immense the problem is.

ParrotFish

Click HERE to go the Scholastic Kid Press Corps Notebook and read the rest of the article!

Review and Taste Test! Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook by Katie Chin

13 Jul

katiechinKatie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen
Written by Katie Chin, recipes by Leeann Chin and Katie Chin
Photography by Masano Kawana
Foreword by Raghavan Iyer
160 pages – ages 12+
Published by Tuttle Publishing on April 26, 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis – “Author Katie Chin’s love of cooking blossomed at an early age—watching and later helping her renowned mother, Leeann Chin, prepare delicious Chinese dishes in her popular restaurants. Born in China, Leeann was an award-winning restaurateur and author revered for her ability to demystify Chinese cooking for the American home cook. Katie inherited her mom’s passion and talent, and has become a respected food writer and television personality in her own right. Sadly, Leeann passed away in 2010, but her recipes live on. Katie is eager to share her mother’s food legacy with you in this book—an homage to Leeann’s mastery of all that Chinese cooking has to offer.
This treasury of family recipes includes many unique dishes that Leeann developed during a six-decade career in the food business, including time-honored classics that she herself learned from her mother in China. Some dishes reflect Leeann’s Chinese-American childhood or are recipes which Katie and Leeann developed while together. Others are creations that Katie has developed more recently. Woven throughout the book are fond memories and anecdotes from Katie’s childhood, always involving cooking and eating with her mom.”

What I Thought- First, I just want to say that the reason I suggested ages 12+ for this book is just because that is around the age where I think it is reasonable to start cooking without omnipresent supervision (of course, this is up to the parents). These recipes can be made by younger kids, but parental supervision should be present throughout the cooking. That being said, the book is an excellent cookbook, with clear instructions. I liked that Ms. Chin did not assume that the reader/cook already knew information, including things such as “Basic Cooking Techniques and Tips” and “Understanding Chinese Ingredients” so the reader/cook is not left in the dark. All of the back material was very interesting and is a great help in learning to cook Chinese food. The recipes themselves are easy to read, and include simple ways to cook and prepare the food. The anecdotes into Ms. Chin, her mother, and how she gets her kids to eat things like mushrooms and spinach really make the book more personal. The book is filled with great color photos of the steps and finished dishes. This was a great cookbook!

I give this book five out of five bookworms! fivebooks

Knowing me, you probably aren’t surprised that I decided to cook something with my family from the cookbook. We chose to make the “Crystal Shrimp Dumplings” found on page 30-31. My sister Josie helped make the dumplings too.

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We started by making the filling with cilantro, egg white, cornstarch, sugar, pepper and sesame oil.

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We prepared the shrimp as it said in the cookbook so it won’t taste “fishy.”

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We minced the shrimp in a food processor and added it to the filling mix.

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Then it was time to fill the dumplings.

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I don’t think our wrap job was as pretty as the ones in the book – but pretty good for beginners!

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Next we cooked the dumplings!

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YUM!!!

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They were delicious! The soy sauce had balsamic vinegar in it, and it gave it a nice citrus-y flavor somehow. Ms. Chin really knows how to make a meal!

Review! Slinky Steps Out by Meg Welch Dendler

12 Jul

slinkySlinky Steps Out
Series: Cats in the Mirror #4 (#1, #2, #3, Companion Book #1)
By Meg Welch Dendler
122 pages – ages 8+
Published by Serenity Mountain Publishing on March 22, 2016

Summary- In our world, all is not what it seems, especially when it comes to kitties! Did you know cats are actually space aliens living among us? Some realize their origin, while others just want ears scratched and tuna treats. Little do we humans realize there is a kitty command ship orbiting Earth watching some of the inhabitants…

Every family that has cats has always, at least once, had that one cat who would hide under the bed, and only come out for one person. Slinky is that type of cat. She is also one of those cats that know they are aliens. When her owner is leaving home for college, and decides to bring Slinky to the apartment that she’s renting. This will be a perfect opportunity to learn about this style of human living! That is, until a repairman comes while Slinky’s owner is away at school, and accidentally leaves the door open. Slinky gets scared and bolts outside… and it’s up to Kimba and the space cats to find and rescue her!

What I like about it- This was a good book. The book has a good deal of suspense and thrill. The writing is spot on for Dendler’s audience. I liked that it kept you reading and wondering what was going to happen next. The characters were believable, perhaps because the book is roughly based on real-life events in the author’s life (minus the alien cats… or not?). I think kids will like the books because they have probably noticed that cats act weird, and this book tells them why!😉 I found that in this story, the plot was a lot simpler than her other books and although I enjoyed the writing and action, I felt it needed a little more “meat” to the plot. Kids will also probably like looking at the real photos in the book of the cats in the book. Overall – a nice addition to this series! I really like the series and cannot wait to read more from Ms. Dendler!

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Reaching for Mars – My Latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Article!

8 Jul

Check out my latest Scholastic News Kid Press Corps article about the RS-25 rocket engine and America’s planned mission to Mars!

Here – is the opening: “What does it take to get humans to Mars? First, you need a rocket engine that can propel a 77-ton vehicle 142 million miles. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is nearing completion of that engine.”

CLICK HERE to go the Scholastic Kid Press Corps Notebook and read the rest of the article!

NASA engineers conduct a successful test-firing of the RS-25 rocket engine earlier this year at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

NASA engineers conduct a successful test-firing of the RS-25 rocket engine earlier this year at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Creative Kid Thursday! Monster Realm Stories by Nara Duffie

7 Jul

Hello Readers! Today Creative Kid Thursday is featuring Nara Duffie, a 13-year-old who wrote her first book when she was 10, and her second book when she was 12. Here are my reviews!

nara1The Monster Realm

Series: Monster Realm Stories Book 1

Written by Nara Duffie

Illustrated by Elisabeth Alba

272 pages – ages 8+

Published by Roam & Ramble by April 2, 2014

Synopsis from Amazon – “Medusa aimed her poisoned arrow right at Lillian …

Lillian always loved stories about myths and monsters–until she found herself inside one, fighting for her life!

Joined by her best friends, Katy and Maisy, Lillian must cross a sea guarded by Krakens and sirens, race through a dark forest haunted by elves and chimeras, and cross mountains ruled by griffins and rocs.

Where in this world is Lillian’s sister? Who is the mysterious boy with the stone medallion? Why do the monsters hold an ancient grudge against humanity? And what is the secret hiding at the heart of it all?”

What I Thought- This was really good! Nara has written a great debut book that kids will enjoy reading! The story did seem a little abrupt at times, as in the flow was a little choppy. Honestly, that didn’t really bother me so much, mostly because it was only a small thing on a wonderful first book. The setting she creates is perfect for the plot, and really brings the story to life. Lillian is a good main character, who must come to terms with what her sister is doing. Her two friends bring comic relief, while you also feel empathy for what they’re going through. The descriptions throughout the book really paint the picture for the adventure, just as well as Ms. Alba’s illustrated map in the beginning.

nara2The Three Worlds

Series: Monster Realm Stories Book 2

Written by Nara Duffie

Illustrated by Elisabeth Alba

382 pages – ages 8+

Published by Roam & Ramble by March 16, 2016

Synopsis from Amazon- “Lillian and her best friends, Katy and Maisy, barely survived their first adventure in the Monster Realm. Now they have only days to stop a war between the worlds, a war in which the mythical creatures of Lanodeka plan to reclaim the earth as their own.

But this time, the girls have to face more than dragons and griffins, sirens and elves, rocs and harpies. They discover the real power behind the war, a power that is using the Creation Stone to build an army unlike anything they could have imagined. Worlds are about to change.”

What I Thought- This book was even better than book one! You could see the growth as Nara as a writer from the first to the second. The characters are well-rounded and thought-out by this point, and we see them change in their mentality as the story goes on, most notable in Katy, who has become less of a girly-girl (although she’s still not a tomboy). Ms. Alba’s map is extended in this book, now taking up two pages – it looks pretty cool, and puts things into perspective. Nara has written an enjoyable conclusion to the Monster Realm series, leaving you feeling content and happy.

I give both of these books five out of five bookworms!

fivebooks

To learn more about the books and Nara, go HERE!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Sophie’s Squash Go to School by Pat Zietlow Miller

1 Jul

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 sometimes it takes a bit of work to grow a friend.

squash2Sophie’s Squash Go to School
Written by Pat Zietlow Miller
Illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
40 pages – ages 5+

Published by Schwartz & Wade on June 28, 2016

Theme/Topic- Making friends

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “On the first day of school, Sophie peeked into her classroom.”

Synopsis from publisher: “This charming sequel to the beloved Sophie’s Squash is the perfect antidote to the back-to-school jitters. Sophie goes to school for the first time and has no interest in making friends that aren’t squash. Here’s a gently humorous read-aloud that proves that making friends, just like growing squash, takes time.

On Sophie’s first day of school, nobody appreciates her two best friends, Bonnie and Baxter, baby squash that she grew in her garden. Even worse, one classmate, Steven Green, won’t leave Sophie alone. He sits by her at circle time. He plays near her during recess. And he breathes on her while she paints. Steven just wants to be friends, but Sophie isn’t interested. Still, Sophie knows that her squash friends won’t last forever. Maybe it would be nice to have some human friends after all. . . .”

What I Thought- Ms. Miller did a fabulous job with this sequel to Sophie’s Squash! I enjoyed the way it dealt with making new friends, showing the Sophie was perfectly fine without human friends (or so she thought), but when Bonnie and Baxter need to get planted in the ground, she gets lonely. I thought that that was a marvelous idea. Ms. Wilsdorf’s illustrations are perfect for the book, with a soft glow created from the watercolors. This is a great picture book about friendship!

Activities and Resources- You can visit Parentingscience.com to read an article about helping your kids make friends HERE.

You can visit Vegetable-gardening-online.com to read an article about growing your own butternut squash HERE!

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

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