Review! Dirt by Denise Gosliner Orenstein

24 Sep

Dirt
By Denise Gosliner Orenstein
224 pages – ages 8-12
Published by Scholastic Press on July 25, 2017

Synopsis from the Publisher- “Things are hard for eleven-year-old Yonder. Her mother died and her father has sunk into sadness. She doesn’t have a friend to her name . . . except for Dirt, the Shetland pony next door.

Dirt has problems of his own. He’s overweight, he’s always in trouble, and his owner is the mean Miss Enid, who doesn’t have the patience for a pony’s natural curiosity. His only friend is Yonder, the scrawny girl next door. So when Miss Enid makes the cruel decision to sell Dirt for horsemeat, Yonder knows she has to find a way to rescue him. Even if that means stealing Dirt away and sneaking him into her own house. What follows will make you worry, will make you cry, and will ultimately fill you with hope, love, and an unshakable belief in the power of friendship. Especially the four-legged kind. ”

What I Thought- I had mixed feelings about this book. The intended audience is ages 8-12 and I felt it was a tad heavy for that age. Unlike most young middle-grade stories, this one had no real solution to the problems to even say that they worked out in the end, even if it wasn’t the solution the reader was hoping for. Honestly, I think Orenstein is trying to tell a Young Adult story in a lower Middle Grade book – she has so many great aspects to the plot, but then throws in a lot of material suited for an older audience. Yonder has so many problems, it weighs the story down. Plus no one seems to notice and offer help to Yonder.  That being said, the story has so many wonderful aspects – a window into bonds between animals and kids with disabilities, kids in poor circumstances – I think if this novel was geared toward a bit older audience and given a bit more to the story, it would be spectacular. If you have a tween who likes sad stories or a teen who is looking for a quick read, this book is well worth a try.

I give this book three out of five bookworms.

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Love You Always by Eileen Spinelli

22 Sep

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 sweet book about a family’s love for their children.

Love You Always
Written by Eileen Spinelli
Illustrated by Gillian Flint
32 pages – ages 4+

Published by WorthyKids/Ideals on September 19, 2017

Theme/Topic- Love/Family

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Seasons come and seasons go. Mama loves you always.”

Synopsis from publisher: “A child is a treasured leaf on a family tree, surrounded by love from mom, dad, doting grandparents, aunts and uncles, and family friends too. This sweet, reassuring picture book from Eileen Spinelli acknowledges the whole tree — the many who are invested in a child’s life — with expressions of unconditional love from each.”

What I Thought- This is a really sweet book about how family always loves you, no matter what. Spinelli is a master at crafting poetry infused with messages of caring and kindness and then making it accessible to younger readers. Her picture books always make me feel better. I think other readers get that impression as well. One of the things I love about this quiet book is how it not only has a positive message, but the illustrations help share the message.

Flint reflects the soft tone of Spinelli’s writing with soft toned illustrations, being pleasant on the eyes, and making the book perfect for bedtimes.

I really think that this amazing picture book pair has an excellent chemistry, and I would definitely be interested in seeing more from the two of them!

Activities and Resources- Momentsaday.com has great activities to teach about love HERE.

Oureverydaylife.com has a great article about teaching family love to your children HERE – it also includes games you can play as a family and other activities!

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

Shiver Me Timbers – Review! Nothing Rhymes with Orange by Adam Rex

19 Sep

Avast! Today be Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Image result for talk like a pirate day

Arr – So today me review (‘n this post) be translated into Pirate-Speak t’ celebrate!

Nothing Rhymes with Orange
By Adam Rex
48 pages – ages 5+
Published by Chronicle Books on August 1, 2017

Publisher’s Synopsis- “We all know nothing rhymes with orange. But how does that make Orange feel? Well, left out! When a parade of fruit gets together to sing a song about how wonderful they are—and the song happens to rhyme—Orange can’t help but feel like it’s impossible for him to ever fit in. But when one particularly intuitive Apple notices how Orange is feeling, the entire English language begins to become a bit more inclusive.”

Wha’ I Thought- ‘Tis a really clever book from Rex, natterin’ about bein’ left out in an incredibly hilarious way that manages ta touch th’ readers as well. I be a fan o’ how Rex be usin’ real pictures o’ th’ fruit, ‘n then drew o’er th’ pictures ta create th’ characters – it really adds a nice touch t’ it all.

Cast yer eyes upon it –

The rhyme be fun an’ flows in a sing-song way like the mermaid lookin’ ta cast their spell on ye. Th’ rhyme turns into a mutiny o’ craziness that parents and scallywags will get a kick out of. Rex brin’s Nietzsche in t’ rhyme wit’ peachy ‘n soon aft that, poor wee Orange has had all he can stand.

Th’ book be a great, simple lesson on includin’ others, showin’ it in a touchin’ way.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

 

I give this book five out o’ five bookworms!

 

Review! The Shanghai Incident by Bryan Methods

18 Sep

The Shanghai Incident
Series: Master Diplexito and Mr. Scant 2 (#1)
By Bryan Methods
248 pages – ages 9+
Will be published by Carolrhoda Books on October 1, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher- “The pursuit of an international crime syndicate sends British vigilante butler Mr. Scant and his protégé Oliver Diplexito on a globe-hopping trip. After defeating a sinister secret society in Oliver’s home country of England, the unlikely pair has arrived in Paris, searching for Mr. Scant’s missing niece. What they discover are hints of a conspiracy that leads them all the way to Shanghai, China. Each clue they find only leads to more questions. That is, until Mr. Scant, Oliver, and their allies realize they’re the only hope of stopping a plot against China’s child emperor.”

What I Thought- I really liked the first book in the series, and Methods’ second book most definitely lives up to the precedent set with his debut. I love how it is all set in a believable time, where the history seems to be fairly accurate, just fitting more into the steampunk theme – but also quite subtly. The book has a lot of action, and I was so caught up in the thrill of it all that I read the book in its entirety in the span of a few hours (maybe five or six). Methods has a way of writing that showcases the thoughts of a clever young boy who understands that he has much to learn. I also like how all of the characters stay true to who they were established as being in the first book. I find that sometimes a debut author will change a personality drastically to show growth in their second book, but Methods keeps it simple  – very small changes that are noticed and appreciated by the reader. As a side note, the cover is phenomenal, just as the first – and I especially like the fabulous old-time feel – perfect for the book! This book is a great sequel, and I cannot wait to read the third book in the series!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! The Bad Seed by Jory John

15 Sep

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 book about trying to be the best you can be.

 

The Bad Seed
Written by Jory John
Illustrated by Pete Oswald
40 pages – ages 4+

Published by HarperCollins on August 29, 2017

Theme/Topic- Being kind/Change
Genre- Fiction
Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “I’m a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaaad seed.”

Synopsis from Publisher: “This is a book about a bad seed. A baaaaaaaaaad seed. How bad? Do you really want to know? He has a bad temper, bad manners, and a bad attitude. He’s been bad since he can remember!”

What I Thought- I really enjoyed this book – I like how it shows us how the seed is bad, then it tells us why he became bad, and finally how he came to the decision to be nicer. I also really appreciate how the book shows readers that it’s okay not to be perfect as soon as you decide to change; it makes sure kids know it takes time, and you just need to keep trying. It really is a great book. The illustrations are nice, simple, and have a way of drawing your eye across the page, using muted colors and stark contrast. I really enjoyed all the parts of this book!

Activities and Resources- I found a nice article with 35 seed activities HERE from Fantasticfunandlearning.com!

Check out the book’s trailer!

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

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Professional Crocodile by Giovanna Zoboli

8 Sep

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 wordless story (and I love well-done wordless stories!) about enjoying one’s life.

Professional Crocodile
Written by Giovanna Zoboli
Illustrated by  Mariachiara Di Giorgio
32 pages – ages 4+

Published by Chronicle Books on August 1, 2017

Theme/Topic- Appreciation of every day moments? I don’t know. It’s really good though!
Genre- Fiction
Opening and Synopsis- Opening: [Wordless Picturebook]

Synopsis from Publisher: “Mr. Crocodile loves his job. Every morning he gets up with an alarm. He brushes his teeth. He chooses the right tie to match his outfit, eats a quick slice of toast, and heads off to work on a crowded train. But what exactly is his job? The answer may surprise you!”

What I Thought- Zoboli and Di Giorgio have created an awesome silent picture book. The illustrations draw a lot of attention to daily life, and I like how Mr. Crocodile is not only reacted to as a human, but as a crocodile too (some people are a bit unsure of his presence, but it is generally accepted that he is a regular guy). The illustrations are immensely pleasant to look at! The muted tones play along with the setting. The illustrations have so much feeling and emotion to them. Just take a look –

The story is simple, with a delightful twist at the end. I really like how everything builds up to the ending, so that even if it is unexpected, it is still satisfying, because it all makes sense. I loved this book, and I really want to see more from this pair!

Activities and Resources- Take a bit of time to think about your daily routine and what makes it special. Think about as many of the parts as you can, and think about how you can appreciate what you do every day even more. This is best done as you are doing your routine, in my opinion.

There are also some nice crocodile activities from Childcarelounge.com HERE!

I think a cool activity is to cut out some pictures from magazines or maybe even use some photographs and arrange them to make your won wordless story! I think I am going to try that one myself! 😉

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

Blog Tour! A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale by Penny Parker Klostermann

7 Sep

LET ME OFFER A RAY OF SUNSHINE ON THIS DREARY DAY!

I am participating in a blog tour for a superlicious new picture book!

What’s even better is that the book was just released this week and you can gobble up your own copy!

A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale
Written by Penny Parker Klostermann
Illustrated by Ben Mantle
40 pages – ages 4+
Published by Random House Books for Young Readers on September 5, 2017

Synopsis from the Publisher- “In the magical land of fairy tales, William doesn’t quite fit in. He’d rather poach pears than pursue princesses, and he values gnocchi over knighthood. . . .

When he stumbles on a delivery of food destined for Fairy-Tale Headquarters (a pumpkin, apples, and a few measly beans), he decides to spice things up and whips the paltry ingredients into delectable dishes. But as you might have guessed, Snow White’s wicked stepmother doesn’t exactly want her magic apple baked and drizzled with caramel.”

What I Thought- I really liked Klostermann’s latest picture book – it is full of fairy tale whimsy. What makes this book stand out for me is that touches on a part of the fairy tales we don’t always give a second thought – the food! There were tons of subtle yet fun references to other fairy tales making the story even more enjoyable. The story is sweet and has the reader craving to turn to the next page. The text is often sprinkled about on the pages which adds to the whole feeling of the book. The story celebrates those who are different, and want to help out. It’s nice how William is able to end up following his dream, and to help people reach their “happily ever after.” Mantle’s illustrations put the icing on the cake. Have a look –

Illustration copyright c 2017 by Ben Mantle.

Mantle keeps the fanciful feeling of Klostermann’s text fresh in our eyes as we read about William’s adventures!

 

Illustration copyright c 2017 by Ben Mantle.

Mantle’s style-his use of vivid colors, bold lines, and fanciful proportions-really put the finishing touches on this delectable book.

Illustration copyright c 2017 by Ben Mantle.

I think Mantle and Klostermann have a delicious collaboration going on, and I really wish to see more from this dynamic duo! This book would be great for story time and paired with a recipe!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

 

BUT WAIT!!! THERE’S MORE!

JUST WHO IS THIS PENNY KLOSTERMANN???

Penny Parker Klostermann is the author of A Cooked-Up Fairy Tale and There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight, both from Random House Children’s Books. She loves all kinds of books, but especially loves very silly picture books that make her laugh. Penny has been known to hug her favorite picture books and seriously hopes that someday her books will gain huggable status too. You can learn more about Penny on her website at PennyKlostermann.com.

Check out all the stops on the blog tour! You have chances to win copies along the way!

Blog Tour Dates:

August 29-Tara Lazar-interview with Tricia Lawrence, Penny’s Agent

August 29-Picture Book Builders-Interview

September 4-Maria Marshall-Interview

September 5-Vivian Kirkfield-Royal Reporter Special Behind-the-Scenes Interview and Recipe

September 7- GROG Guest Post with Penny-Poetry/Picture Book Connection

September 7-This Kid Reviews Books-Book Review

September 8-Susanna Leonard Hill-Perfect Picture Book Friday

September 12 (tentative)-Jama’s Alphabet Soup-Interview and Recipe

September 18-Laura Sassi-Kid Review and 5 questions from the kids for Penny

September 19-Kirsti Call, Writer’s Rumpus-Interview

September 26-Think Quick with Carrie Charlie Brown

Review! Chester and Gus by Cammie McGovern

6 Sep

Chester and Gus
By Cammie McGovern
272 pages – ages 9+
Published by HarperCollins on April 4, 2017

Synopsis from the Publisher- “Chester has always wanted to become a service dog. When he fails his certification test, though, it seems like that dream will never come true—until a family adopts him. They want him to be a companion for their ten-year-old son, Gus, who has autism. But Gus acts so differently than anyone Chester has ever met. He never wants to pet Chester, and sometimes he doesn’t even want Chester in the room. Chester’s not sure how to help Gus since this isn’t exactly the job he trained for—but he’s determined to figure it out. Because after all, Gus is now his person.”

What I Thought- I enjoyed this book – it really brought a lot of insight into not only the background behind service dogs, but also into the lives of lower-functioning autistic kids. One thing I thought was really interesting was how McGovern explains how dogs communicate with people – I don’t want to spoil the book, but it is a central aspect, and you will love it too! The book is told from a service dog’s, point of view. Chester is a sweet dog, trained to want to help people, and he will go above and beyond to help others. I do like how McGovern has Chester, who is surprisingly a figure one can easily relate to, compare and contrast Gus for us. Chester shows us ways that he is similar to Gus (not liking loud noises, for example), and is also able to succinctly explain Gus’ other behaviors as well. This will ultimately give readers more of an understanding about lower-functioning autistic kids. As the reader learns more about Gus and why he is the way he is – Chester clears up misconceptions. Chester sees Gus for who he is and is totally accepting. The unconditional love between a dog and his human is explained beautifully. The book is well-written, flows nicely and doesn’t drag at all. I think kids will benefit from reading about two lives we don’t normally get an inside look on. Maybe it will help us all to see the world a bit more like Chester and appreciate those who are beautifully different from ourselves.  I highly recommend this book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg

29 Aug

The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match
Series: The Great Shelby Holmes (see my review of Book #1)
By Elizabeth Eulberg
240 pages – ages 9+
Will be published by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on September 12, 2017

Synopsis From Publisher- “Being friends with a super sleuth isn’t easy, especially when she’s nine years old and four feet tall, and full of attitude. But for eleven-year-old aspiring writer John Watson, being friends with Shelby Holmes is just the adventure he’s looking for.

In the few weeks since moving to Harlem with his mom, Shelby has been training John in the art of observation-a skill that comes in handy on the first day of school. John’s new teacher, Mr. Crosby, is acting suspiciously, and Shelby knows this is a mystery worth investigating. But as Shelby and John dig deeper, they discover that there may be someone unexpected involved–someone who may have Shelby beat.”

What I Thought- This was a really good sequel to the first book tin the series. I am a fan of how Eulberg explores more aspects of Shelby’s character, showing more of her relationship with her classmates. We get to know more about John, as well, and we see a lot of aspects of their friendship that are fleshed out. Eulberg crafts a fresh take on old Sherlock Holmes tales, with bits and pieces based off of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, and honestly, I cannot wait until she more references – I can only imagine what she will think up for Shelby! I really enjoyed this book and like that it is introducing the greatness of the mighty Sherlock to a new generation to enjoy. The story and characters are believable, and they remind me of instances in real life; kids will appreciate that. The mystery is fun, and I like how Eulberg adds in a lot of little details, and especially seeing how they seem to be needed later on – a mark of a great mystery! I sincerely recommend this book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder

24 Aug

Orphan Island
By Laurel Snyder
288 pages – ages 9+
Published by Walden Pond Press on May 30, 2017

Synopsis From Publisher- “On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again.

Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known?”

What I Thought- I have mixed feelings about this book. It’s not quite about responsibility, or growing up, but it is not not about them either. It’s odd. While the writing was good, it just didn’t resonate with me. I thought the plot dragged a bit, but I also loved the specific details about life on the island. As a reader, it was an odd relationship. There were times when I felt I was about to get totally immersed in the story but never got fully engaged. The story is very whimsical, and has a basic almost-utopia feel to it, and you really do begin to feel raw emotion as things twist about, but then it would get lost. I just couldn’t get into it. I think there was too much left unresolved. Overall, this is a well-written book with interesting characters, just not one I was head-over-heels for. That certainly doesn’t mean others won’t be.

I give this book three out of five bookworms.

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