Perfect Picture Book Friday! Fannie Never Flinched by Mary Cronk Farrell

9 Dec

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 neat tale of a lady most people don’t know about, but should.

fannieFannie Never Flinched: One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights
By Mary Cronk Farrell
56 pages – ages 8+

Published by Harry N. Abrams on November 1, 2016

Theme/Topic- Social Work/Justice

Genre- Noniction/Biography

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Near suppertime, gunshots echoed among the small frame houses of Natrona, Pennsylvania. People ran out to see what was happening.

Synopsis from Publisher: “Fannie Sellins (1872–1919) lived during the Gilded Age of American Industrialization, when the Carnegies and Morgans wore jewels while their laborers wore rags. Fannie dreamed that America could achieve its ideals of equality and justice for all, and she sacrificed her life to help that dream come true. Fannie became a union activist, helping to create St. Louis, Missouri, Local 67 of the United Garment Workers of America. She traveled the nation and eventually gave her life, calling for fair wages and decent working and living conditions for workers in both the garment and mining industries. Her accomplishments live on today. This book includes an index, glossary, a timeline of unions in the United States, and end notes.

What I Thought- This is a really neat nonfiction biography of a lady who fought for equality for all. It is a great resource for children and teachers looking for an introduction on working for social justice. The book is written in a kid-friendly way that explains the horrible conditions the workers faced during this period in history. It is such an excellent read – making it easy to digest and understand. The story is set up in the sections of Ms. Sellins’ life, and has real pictures/posters from the era the book is about. This is a well-organized biography that kids will enjoy reading.

Activities and Resources- The book is a resource itself, with end notes and other information included. has a nice biography of Ms. Sellins HERE if you want more information.

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

Review! Wisdom of the Centaur’s Reason by LRW Lee

5 Dec

centaurWisdom of the Centaur’s Reason

Series: Andy Smithson #6 (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5)

By LRW Lee

212 pages – ages 9+

Published by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform on November 19, 2016

Synopsis- Andy Smithson wants to get back to Oomaldee. But he can’t. Whatever brings him there (he’s still unsure) isn’t bringing him! Thankfully, he is then given a task – find the Heart of Oomaldee, hidden in our world, in America! He finds the heart, and restarts it inside Oomaldee, finally getting back to his people. But now, with that quest done, it is time that he returns to his main quest – breaking the curse. And if he breaks the curse, it means that he must come to terms with what happens after doing so – mostly the death of his mother, the King, and Mermin, beloved wizard. Can he do it?

What I thought- Wow! This installment of the Andy Smithson series really pulls at your heartstrings! There is a lot of tension in the story as everything draws towards the final showdown between Andy and Abaddon. Lee plays on the reader’s emotions as she leads them through this exciting story. The reader is totally connected with the characters and you empathize with the pains and troubles that plague them. The characters get more realistic and personable as the series goes on, so by now, you feel as if you know each of them rather well. The progression of Andy, as the main character, throughout the series is especially satisfying. He is coming to terms with a friend dying, and also with the fact that if he breaks the curse, his mom will die, along with the King and another close friend. WOW! That’s a lot for a kid. I appreciate that Lee has a fine sense of where to draw the line at the story being too dark, because it could easily fold into a depressing story. But it doesn’t. Lee keeps the characters’ hope up, and they will not give up even if things are looking down. She definitely has her target audience in mind. Lee’s vivid description of the setting and characters play like a movie in your mind, and make it so that you don’t want to put the story down. Very much looking forward to the next book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! That’s Not Normal by Mar Pavón

2 Dec

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 good anti-bullying story.

normalThat’s Not Normal
Written by Mar Pavón
Illustrated by Laure du Faÿ
44 pages – ages 6+

Published by NubeOcho on Sept. 13 2016

Theme/Topic- Being bullied/Helping others

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Elephant had a very, very long trunk… Incredibly long!


Synopsis from Publisher: “The elephant has a very long trunk. With it he helps all his friends, but the hippopotamus always mocks him and says: “that’s not normal!’

But what is “normal”?”

What I Thought- I love that this book has Hippopotamus being nasty, but still the animals help him. It shows that you should always try to help others. There is, of course, an anti-bullying statement, ending with Hippopotamus and Elephant collaborating. It is a nice story line. The illustrations are simple, and they remind me of some comic strips. Kids will like that. Ms. Pavón has a nice, basic, easy-to-read type of writing style, and the words are formatted to accent words in a fun way. An all-around great book!😀

Activities and Resources- I found an article from on showing acceptance of others as a parental figure HERE.

There is a nice lesson plan for teachers/homeschoolers from about teaching acceptance HERE.

What’s nice about this publisher is that NubeOcho publishes this and many other titles in Spanish too!

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

Review! In the Land of Broken Time by Max and Maria Evans

30 Nov

brokentimeIn The Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey
Co-written by Max and Maria Evans
Translated by Helen Hagon
Illustrated by Maria Evans
54 pages – ages 6+
Published by Max and Maria Evans on August 2, 2016

Synopsis- Christopher was excited – the circus was in town! He sneaks out of his house and goes to the big top. There, he meets a girl named Sophie who also wanted to see the circus. They sneak in and are happy to be there. But all is not well. A creepy woman is trying to get them to leave, and they hide in a basket. It wasn’t their fault the basket is a hot air balloon, and that they float away, taken to a world where time is pretty weird. They meet a scientist who specializes in time, and he teaches them a little about science. The kids, and a circus dog who was sleeping in the basket, go to stop an evil man from taking over the country they have come to. Will they stop him in time?

What I Thought- This is a nice kids’ story, with a lot of innocent adventure. Kids will like reading about the travels and marvels in the fictitious landscape, and will learn without realizing it. There are a few illustrations scattered throughout the story, and they help make the story more engaging. The cover is gorgeous, and really sums the book up. Mr and Mrs Evans are a good team, and their writing style is a reflection of the wonder usually seen in the sciences. The book is simple, but good for a younger audience. It is a neat book, and I hope to see more from these authors!

I give the book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Guest Review by Josie! Natumi Takes the Lead by Gerry Ellis

29 Nov

natumiNatumi Takes the Lead:

The True Story of an Orphan Elephant Who Finds Family

By Gerry Ellis with Amy Novesky

32 pages – ages 4+

Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on November 8, 2016

Summary by Josie: The story tells about an elephant that was orphaned when hunters killed off the rest of her heard. The elephant was rescued by some nice people who run an elephant rescue. Natumi was very shy and wouldn’t come out from behind her human rescuer’s legs. Slowly Natumi got more and more confident and started to be a leader of all the orphaned elephants. It is a nice story about how an elephant can grow up to be a strong leader even after having something terrible happen to her.

What Josie thought: The beginning of the book made me very sad because all of the elephants but Natumi got killed. I wish that things like that didn’t happen. I was happy to see that there are people who care about the elephants enough to run an elephant orphanage. That is very cool. I really like that there are real pictures in the book for illustrations –


It was interesting to read about how the elephants are cared for at the orphanage. It was also cool to see how they can recover from loosing their family and form new ones. There were some fact pages in the back of the book that showed you where to go if you want to learn more about elephants and it had some information about Africa, the orphanage and elephants. That was a nice part of the book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Children and the Tundra by Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey

27 Nov

tundraChildren and the Tundra
Series: The Haggis-On-Whey World of Unbelievable Brilliance #5
Written by Dr. and Mr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey
Designed by Lauren LoPrete
64 pages – ages 13+
Published by McSweeney’s on April 12, 2016

Synopsis- Have you ever wanted to know about the coldest regions on Earth – the hearts of children? Have you ever wanted to get up close and personal with all of the cute and cuddly animals – who want out of the tundra life? Then, unfortunately, this is the book for you. It would have been really nice if it were two books. You see, due to horribly-prioritized budget cuts in the publishing house, these two very different topics-children and the tundra-are placed within the same covers. Even worse, people don’t treat it like the science book it is *cough cough*most definitely not*cough cough*.

What I Thought- This book is my kind of book! It is a satirical view on science books meant for children. The humor is VERY dry and you have to like that kind to really appreciate this book. I did show it to some friends and they didn’t get it/find it that funny, so I guess it depends on how you find your funny bone.  The book is completely factually inaccurate, all while saying anyone who says different is making things up. It includes a list of the main kinds of tundra, which include the same picture of a tundra with different picture styles and captions. It includes the history of the early sightings of children and how they were discovered by a French monk who liked writing in English. Then there is the girl who was too boring to write about…


This is only the beginning folks, so hold onto your hats and dive into the Haggis-On-Whey World of Unbelievable Brilliance!

Dr. Doris Haggis-On-Whey has 31 degrees from 32 institutions of higher learning – “most of them in countries better than yours.”. She an expert on everything and really distrusts the children species. Her husband Benny Haggis-On-Whey is basically completely useless and only adds to the humor with his incompetence.


Authors Benny and Doris

The  book is a clean read for all ages, but really young kids won’t “get” it. I would say it is a great read for 13+ who has a broader sense of humor.

I give this book five out of five bookworms with a caution that not everyone will appreciate the humor.fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! The Princess and the Frogs by Veronica Bartles

27 Nov

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 take on a fairytale.

frogsThe Princess and the Frogs
Written by Veronica Bartles
Illustrated by Sara Palacios
40 pages – ages 4+

Published by Balzer + Bray on November 15, 2016

Theme/Topic- Fractured Fairytale/Friendship

Genre-  Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Princess Cassandra should have been the happiest princess in the world. She had hundreds of dresses, thousands of books, and servants to bring her anything she wanted. There was only one thing she didn’t have. A best friend.

Synopsis from Publisher: “The Princess and the Frogs is a delightfully funny reinvention of the classic fairy tale “The Frog Prince,” from author Veronica Bartles and illustrator Sara Palacios.

What I Thought- I really enjoyed how Ms. Bartles has written this book. The text flows seamlessly and makes the book a perfect read-aloud. Ms. Palacio’s illustrations compliment the book perfectly. It is neat that she has drawn it so that it looks like it takes place in a medieval-ish time, but some of the details help put it into a time scene that can be anytime – the maid is dressed like an early 1900’s-late 1800’s maid, and Cassandra is wearing high top sneakers and drinking from straws. It is a nice mix. Kids will like reading this silly story about finding the perfect friend!

Activities and Resources- There is a great Fractured Fairytale lesson plan for teachers/homeschool parents at HERE.

There is a near Fractured Fairytale story generator at HERE.

For friendship activities, has a nice list HERE.

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

The Scholastic Kids Press Corps Interviews Michelle Obama!

22 Nov


As of the end of November  I will no longer be a Scholastic News Kid Press Corps Reporter. In December, I turn 15 and that’s too old for the Kid Press Corps – yup, washed up at 15!😉

So there is nothing like going out on a high note! I am very happy to announce that I and seven other Scholastic Kid Press Corps Reporters got an exclusive interview with First Lady Michelle Obama!

First Lady Michelle Obama joins Scholastic News kid reporters for a group photo following an interview in the Map Room of the White House, Oct. 6, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

First Lady Michelle Obama joins Scholastic News kid reporters for a group photo following an interview in the Map Room of the White House, Oct. 6, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

We interviewed Mrs. Obama about her last victory garden harvest at the White House, her experiences as First Lady, and what she plans to do next! We interviewed her in the Map Room in the White House.img_1842

For the entire story click over to the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps blog by clicking HERE

I was also very happy to meet some of my fellow Kid Reporters, and my Scholastic editors in person. It is an AMAZING group!

img_1935 img_1939

Review! Merlin’s Vow by Rosie Morgan

21 Nov

merlinMerlin’s Vow

Series: The Camelot Inheritance #3 (#1, #2)

By Rosie Morgan

281 pages – ages 12+

Published by Liscarret Creations on July 2, 2016

Synopsis- Arthur Penhaligon probably has the world’s best inheritance – he is the new King Arthur, in modern times, and he and his friends are the Guardians of Cornwall. This would be great, if an evil lady didn’t want to rule Cornwall. And, in this book, winter is coming, and the Lady of Clehy, lady of ice, loves the winter. So much, she gets stronger. So much, that it would take an army to stop her. An army the Guardians don’t have…

What I Thought- This was a really good installment in the Camelot Inheritance series! The characters are refined even more, and you learn more about the “legend” behind it all. I really like how Ms. Morgan has a part-time omnipresent narration style, with characters that aren’t characters – the Writer and her Watchers. They look at the story unfolding, but aren’t supposed to interfere. Of course, the narration also switches between the main characters’ points-of-view as well. This style really makes the story a joy to read. There were a few times the h*** and d*** words were used, and they didn’t really need to be put in there. The descriptions are spot-on, and the word choice really makes it an enjoyable read. I really like this, and I cannot wait to read the next book in the series!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! I Wasn’t Invited To The Birthday by Susanna Isern

18 Nov

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, quiet story.

invitedI Wasn’t Invited to The Birthday
Written by Susanna Isern
Illustrated by Adolfo Serra
40 pages – ages 6+

Published by NubeOcho on Sept. 23 2016

Theme/Topic- Dealing With Disappointment/ Being excluded

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “The children leaving school are all very excited. There is a birthday party, but Mark isn’t invited.”

Synopsis from Publisher: “The children leaving the school are all very excited.
There is a birthday party, but someone is not invited . . .
What will happen when the enormous whale with the tiny hat appears?”

What I Thought- This is a quiet, elegant book about how you won’t always be doing the “fun” thing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your own fun. The illustrations are laid back, and magical.

I thought it was neat how Mr. Serra started off with mostly black and white or sepia tones, and then it got more and more colorful.

The book is a sweet story that helps kids learn to deal with not being invited. The book is a good read at home and in the classroom!

Activities and Resources- has a nice article about how to deal with your child being left out of a party – click HERE.

Here is another great article about kids not getting invited. The article is from the Chicago Tribune. It suggests taking your child out on an adventure that would be even cooler than the party! Click HERE

What’s nice about this publisher is that NubeOcho published many titles in Spanish too!

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

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