Review! The Fallen Star by Tracey Hecht

19 Jun

The Fallen Star
Series: The Nocturnals #3 (#1, #2)
Written by Tracey Hecht
Illustrated by Kate Liebman
208 pages – ages 7+
Published by Fabled Films Press on May 2, 2017

Synopsis- It was a nice night out, and the Night Brigade (Dawn the fox, Tobin the Pangolin, and Bismarck the sugar glider) were out watching shooting stars. That is, until one star keeps coming towards them. After a big explosion, a big rock is found in a crater – but that’s not the only change! Whenever animals are eating the fruit, they are getting sick to their stomachs, and something is taking the only cure! It is up to the Night Brigade to solve this mystery before it’s too late!

What I Thought- Hecht has a really great series going on here, and this book is no different. The story is one that little kids can read with no problem, while still possessing a conflict – a good bridge into chapter book stories. I definitely like how Hecht includes endangered nocturnal animals in her books, which inspire kids to look them up. There are really nice watercolor illustrations by Liebman at the beginning of each chapter that add to the story. The story is simple and age-appropriate for young kids, and Hecht’s writing style is perfect for an early chapter book. I can’t wait for the next book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes by Kimberly and James Dean

16 Jun

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 story about forgiving others!

Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes
By Kimberly and James Dean
40 pages – ages 3+
Will be Published by Chronicle Books on May 9, 2017

Theme/Topic- Forgiving
Genre- Fiction
Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Pete and Gus were as busy as could be. They were getting ready for the cupcake party. It started at three!”

Synopsis from Publisher: “Pete makes the best cupcakes!

Join Pete the Cat in a brand-new story and help him and his friends find the missing cupcakes! Pete the Cat and his friends are busy as can be baking cupcakes for a cupcake party, and Pete can’t wait to perform with his groovy band. But some of the cupcakes have gone missing. Who could have taken them? In this latest Pete the Cat picture book adventure, by New York Times bestselling authors James and Kimberly Dean, Pete and the gang solve the mystery of the missing cupcakes and learn that it’s cool to be kind.”

What I Thought- The Pete the Cat books are always top-notch, introducing great themes while having a great story and a groovy rhyme!  The Deans work well together, having created a nice book that talks about how you should always give others a second chance. The illustrations are the trademark groovy images that are always present in the Pete the Cat books, full of bright colors and funky patterns. I like that even though the cupcake thief is guilty, and knew not to eat the cupcakes, the other characters were a bit mad/upset, but then realized to give the thief another chance. It’s a great message, and it’s nice that the cupcake thief feels and looks happy after being forgiven. This is a really great series, and I cannot wait to see what else the Deans come up with!

Activities and Resources- Carmelmountainpreschool.com has a cute Pete The Cat cupcake craft HERE!

There are some cool cupcake coloring sheets at the Pete The Cat website – click HERE!

Check out the book’s trailer!

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

Review! Blaze of Embers by Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz

14 Jun

Blaze of Embers
Series: The Third Book of Ore #3 (1, 2)
Cowritten by Cam Baity and Benny Zelkowicz
313 pages – ages 9+
Published by Disney Hyperion on April 11, 2017

Synopsis- Phoebe Plumm, our young hero, is dead. That is an obvious fact. The Foundry, the company that profits off of seemingly original products (but with a sinister origin), is losing all hold on Mehk, the world of living metal. The country of Meridian is facing an inevitable war. And now the Mehkan deity has returned, prepared to unleash her fury on the Foundry and raze the human world to right the injustices to her people. Micah Tanner, Phoebe’s companion and peer, feels a bit over his head. It is up to him alone to figure out how to stop all of this from occurring, and to try to mesh these worlds seamlessly back together. And he thought school was stressful.

What I Thought- This was very good. Baity and Zelkowicz really know how to create suspense and throw the odds against their characters. The descriptions of the scenery, of the actions of the personas both Mehkan and human, of the prevailing thoughts of the main characters; they are all top-notch excellence – you really feel as if all of this is possible. As the conclusion to the Books of Ore, this book ties up all the loose ends that came through in the story. There is a great deal of action and several mini-stories going on, as several of the characters are scattered, and all of this provides for a fascinating read. There are subtle aspects to the story about doing the right thing, good versus evil, and how people can change, or how they aren’t who you thought they were. It is a thought-provoking story, especially because these themes are present but not really spotlighted. The world Baity and Zelkowicz created is one I gladly got lost in. The imagery created in their words, took me to Mehk and I enjoyed every minute of it. At the base of all of this is a truly well-written story that draws readers in and makes them think. I really enjoyed this conclusion-and, in fact, the entire series-and I wish to read more from this creative duo.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress

6 Jun


Illustrated by Matthew C. Rockefeller
320 pages – ages 9+
Published by Delacorte Press on April 25, 2017

Synopsis- Sebastian was a brilliant kid, going to a school for math and science. He always planned everything out, and disliked change and trying new things. Then he met a pig in a teeny hat. And everything changed. Now he’s helping a girl find her presumed dead (but apparently still living) grandfather. That’s not so bad, except that two creepy thugs are trying to find him too. Things are starting to look interesting…

What I Thought- This book is pretty funny – the narration is very tongue-in-cheek, with humorous chapter names, and the story is full of wacky events that are somehow believable.  Sebastian and Evie are two very different characters, but they both make the book complete. Sebastian wants to stay out of trouble, but he also wants to do what’s right. Evie doesn’t want to be alone in this world, and will do anything to be get her family back. This is a really great combo! Kress’ writing style is very light-hearted, having written a book where having a character ride a llama across a zoo and having a tree grow in the middle of a building seem like completely natural things. Kress uses all the creative room in her plot line, and keeps the reader wondering what will happen next. There are neat black-and-white illustrations from Rockefeller throughout the book that really bring all of the aspects together. Kids will love to read this book! Kress has written a wonderful beginning to a new series, and I cannot wait to read the next book! I also think I will definitely check out some of the other books by Kress, considering how much I enjoyed this one.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story by Tara Lazar

3 Jun

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 involving numbers and word play!

7 Ate 9: The Untold Story
Written by Tara Lazar
Illustrated by Ross MacDonald
32 pages – ages 4+

Published by Disney-Hyperion on May 16, 2017

Theme/Topic- Numbers
Genre- Fiction
Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “I was dozing in my chair when an urgent banging on my office door bolted me awake.

‘7 is coming to get me,’ said 6.”

Synopsis from Publisher:

 “6 has a problem.

Everyone knows that 7 is always after him. Word on the street is that 7 ate 9. If that’s true, 6’s days are numbered. Lucky for him, Private I is on the case. But the facts just don’t add up.
 
It’s odd.
 
Will Private I put two and two together and solve the problem . . . or is 6 next in line to be subtracted?”

What I Thought- This is a great picture book collaboration from two great picture book creators! Lazar has a wacky sense for writing scenes kids will love, and MacDonald knows just how to bring those scenes to life. Lazar cleverly weaves the story with plenty of fun play-on-words, puns, idioms, irony, etc.  The illustrations utilize a lot of white-space, creating an old-timey feel; perfect for the detective-themed book.

The end pages are even really cool.

The story could teach kids a little bit about identifying numbers, and could introduce them to detective/private-eye stories too! The story is fun to read and I think adults will get a chuckle out of it as well as kids. I really like this picture book, and hope to see more from this great duo!

Activities and Resources- Handsonaswegrow.com has a nice list of number-activities for preschoolers HERE!

Learning4kids.net also has a good list of number activities HERE!

Check out the book’s trailer!

Want to learn more? Visit Tara Lazar’s website!
 

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

Review! The Eldridge Conspiracy by Don M. Winn

1 Jun

The Eldridge Conspiracy
Series: Sir Kaye the Boy Knight 4 (1, 2, 3)
Written by Don M. Winn
Illustrated by Dave Allred
167 pages – ages 8+
Will be Published by Progressive Rising Phoenix Press, LLC on June 16, 2017

Synopsis- There is a plot of treasonous measures being taken against the neighboring kingdom of Eldridge, and Sir Kaye the Boy Knight has uncovered the horrid conspiracy! It could lead to the invasion of his country of Knox, and even more – to the death of Eldridge’s king and Kaye’s father, Sir Henry! Kaye and his friends, Reggie and Beau, set out to do what they can to prevent it. But time is of the essence, and with an evil baron trying to get them all out of the picture, it isn’t certain they even have a chance!

What I Thought- I really enjoyed this fabulous conclusion to the Sir Kaye series. Winn knows how to bring the tension up in the series, raising the stakes in the book to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. It is interesting to see Kaye unfold as a character; he fluctuates, learning and then forgetting as he lets pride or guilt or some other emotion take control of his actions. Altogether, this makes for a maximum learning experience for both Kaye and the reader. Winn writes a good story for younger kids who have progressed from early chapter books, but aren’t quite ready for another step up – the chapters are short, with a mildly challenging age-appropriate vocabulary, and neat black-and-white illustrations throughout the story. The series is good for kids who like knights and medieval times, and show that sometimes it is hard to do what is right, but having honor is a good thing to strive for. Morals are taught in the books, as well as just plain old essential character traits. Winn has written a good series about a kid who strives to do his best even when times are hard, and a lot of things can be learned from that. I am sad to see this series come to a finish, but I look forward to seeing more come from Mr. Winn!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Creative Kid Thursday! Josie Reviews #PETERRIFIC!

1 Jun

Today is Creative Kid Thursday! YAAAAAAY! A day where I feature other Creative Kids. Today I have a guest reviewer – Josie! I happen to be Josie’s big brother. Josie was excited to review Peterrific as she is a big fan of Pinkalicious and was happy to see Peter get his own book.

Peterrific
By Victoria Kann
40 pages – ages 4 – 8
Series: Pinkalicious
Published by HarperCollins on May 2, 2017

Summary from the Publisher: In Peterrific, readers can follow Peter’s own adventures as he builds a tower of blocks all the way to the moon. Peter loves to build with blocks. One day, he decides to build a tower that will reach the moon, and he wants to do it all by himself. Will the moon be made of cheese? Can he catch a shooting star? As Peter climbs higher and higher into space, he discovers he doesn’t have a way down! He’ll have to figure out what to do next—all by himself.

What Josie Thought:  I really like Pincalicious and am happy that Peter gets his own book! I liked how in the story Pinkalicious is helping Peter build his tower and they are working together. I also like how Peterrific is in gold sparkly letters on the cover of the book. The inside pictures are nice. I really like the ones that show outer space and the one where Peter is looking at the moon is really cool! I think I would have liked to have seen more of Peter in space trying to get a star for his mom. I like that Peter thinks to design his tower before building it. That is smart. I hope Peter gets another book!

I give this book four out of five bookworms!

Go to the Pinkalicious website to find some Peterrific downloadable activities.

You can get a sneak peek of the inside of the book HERE

For those of you in the Philadelphia Area, Victoria Kann will be at the Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown PA on June 3rd at 2pm for a PETERRIFIC storytime!

 

WOO! I’m giving away a #CaptainUnderpants prize pack thanks to @Scholastic!

30 May

Captain Underpants – (the name elicits giggles – doesn’t it?) is the very first series I read when I was a kid. I begged my mom to pick them up for me when I saw the first three books in the series at a yard sale – The Adventures of Captain Underpants – Captain Underpants and the Attack of the Talking Toilets – Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds) – Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants. Although Mom kind of looked at me a little funny with the Professor Poopypants one, she knows fine literature and got it for me anyway.  I read and re-read these books until they literally fell apart.  I then sought out new additions to the series and loved every one of them. I still am a strong advocate for Captain Underpants. It is a great series to get kids to start reading independently. It is a fun series that will engage all kinds of readers.

I was THRILLED to see that DreamWorks is making a Captain Underpants movie!!! The movie hits theaters on June 2nd. It is my hope that kids will see the movie and want to start reading about Captain Underpants other adventures! To celebrate this Earth shattering event, Scholastic sent me new Captain Underpants books, AND is offering a prize pack for one of you!

One randomly picked commenter from this post will receive:

The Adventures of Captain Underpants (Book 1, now in full color!)

Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie Official Handbook

Captain Underpants: Wacky Word Wedgies and Flushable Fill-Ins

That’s right – just comment below to be entered to win! Winner will be selected randomly and announced one week from today.

One of the giveaways is the original Captain Underpants book (with some additional content) but in full color!

The illustrations are the same but the color really makes them come alive!

The other two books are complimentary to the movie. These books feature the CGI images of Captain Underpants, Harold and George.

 

I know you all are saying”ERIK, WE NEED TO KNOW MORE!”

So check this out – Visit PilkeyPower.Scholastic.com

Follow Scholastic on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Check out the movie’s trailer!

Review! Motor Girls by Sue Macy

30 May

Motor Girls: How Women Took the Wheel and Drove Boldly Into the Twentieth Century
Written by Sue Macy, Foreword by Danica Patrick
96 pages – ages 9+
Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on February 7, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher- Come along for a joy ride in this enthralling tribute to the daring women – Motor Girls, as they were called at the turn of the century – who got behind the wheel of the first cars and paved the way for change. The automobile has always symbolized freedom, and in this book we meet the first generation of female motorists who drove cars for fun, profit, and to make a statement about the evolving role of women. From the advent of the auto in the 1890s to the 1920s when the breaking down of barriers for women was in full swing, readers will be delighted to see historical photos, art, and artifacts and to discover the many ways these progressive females influenced fashion, the economy, politics, and the world around them.

What I Thought- This was a fun nonfiction story about how the motor car evolved, and how women have played a part in its history. It was neat to see how women got involved, and how the industry reacted to that. There are plenty of real images from the time periods represented, and little news clippings from the time. It features girls and women who improved or changed the view on motor cars and women in general. The information in the book is given in an entertaining way that keeps the reader engaged.  The book gives the reader a great perspective that shows many of the things history books leave out. The book is well-organized, and takes you through the years of automobiles. The foreword by Danica Patrick is a great touch of a modern “Motor Girl.” I really enjoyed reading this nonfiction piece from National Geographic.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

 

I especially appreciated this book because my little sister is a Motor Girl 😉 She races go karts and is very impressive at it! I gave the book to her after I read it. She enjoyed it also.

Josie out in front

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Mine! by Jeff Mack

26 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 nice story about sharing!

Mine!
By Jeff Mack
40 pages – ages 3+

Will be Published by Chronicle Books on May 9, 2017

Theme/Topic- Sharing
Genre- Fiction
Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Mine!”

Synopsis from Publisher: “Start with one rock. Add two mice. The end result? A never-ending battle! Or is it? Using only one word, along with many brightly colored and lively illustrations, Jeff Mack brings his hallmark humor to this rollicking book that will have readers of every age reconsidering whether “Mine!” is the best answer.”

What I Thought- This was a fun book that had a theme on sharing. Mack has a way of using very few words to tell a story – in “Mine!”, he only uses the title word with varying repetition and punctuation to create the story. His illustrations are also very light-hearted, and read like a comic. Mack has a way of writing a wacky story that kids will enjoy reading.

Activities and Resources- There is a nice list of activities to teach sharing at Connectability.ca HERE!

Raisingchildren.net.au has a nice article with ideas on encouraging sharing HERE!

There is a good informational article from Handinhandparenting.org explaining about the psychological why kids want to share and act the way they do HERE!

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

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