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May The Fourth Be With You! – Double Review! The Thornton Burgess Library

4 May

Today I welcome back a special guest reviewer that takes over graces my blog once a year!

Welcome back Darth Vader and May the Fourth Be With You!

shhhhhh skaaaahh shhhhhh skaaaahh shhhhhh skaaaahh


shhhhhh skaaaahh shhhhhh skaaaahh shhhhhh skaaaahh

Darth why are you just standing there breathing?


Really? What kind of disturbance? I thought we were here to review the Thornton Burgess books – you know Peter Cotton Tail and Jimmy Skunk?


Which one?

shhhhhh skaaaahh shhhhhh skaaaahh shhhhhh skaaaahh

Okay- never mind I will just get on with the reviews. 


The Adventures of Peter Cottontail
Series: The Thornton Burgess Library
By Thornton W. Burgess
128 pages – ages 6+
Published by Seagrass Press on March 1, 2017

Synopsis from the Publisher- Introduce a new generation to Thornton Burgess’ Peter Cottontail in The Adventures of Peter Cottontail.
The Adventures of Peter Cottontail recounts the hijinks of one of the most endearing and beloved creatures in children’s literature. Full of mischief (and then remorse), Peter has exploits that are delightfully recognizable to anyone who has children and will surely tickle yet another generation of young readers.
Peter Cottontail’s efforts to outwit the ever-hungry Reddy Fox lead to a number of whisker-thin escapes, and his fascination with the hibernation of some of his neighbors, such as Johnny Chuck, leads to his decision to hibernate . . . with riotous consequences.
This reprint of the classic that was originally published in 1914 presents Burgess’ classic style of telling a terrific tale while imparting information about the environment and its creatures.

The Adventures of Jimmy Skunk
Series: The Thornton Burgess Library
By Thornton W. Burgess
128 pages – ages 6+
Published by Seagrass Press on March 1, 2017

Synopsis from the Publisher- Introduce a new generation to Thornton Burgess’ Jimmy Skunk, the good-natured character who is usually left alone because of his potent “perfume.”
Like all of Thornton Burgess’ characters, Jimmy Skunk’s natural instincts are completely accurate, but his personality is easily relatable!
Jimmy Skunk thinks that the old barrel at the top of the hill will be a perfect place for a restful nap. But mischievous Peter Rabbit thinks up a way to upend this plan, very literally, and even arranges that Reddy Fox will get the blame – and a dose of Jimmy’s “perfume.” But Jimmy figures out the truth and makes sure that Peter gets his comeuppance with the help of a nest of yellow-jackets. Later, when Jimmy gets a hankering for some fresh eggs, he and Unc’ Billy Possum wind up in a pretty pickle in Farmer Brown’s henhouse.
Originally published in 1918, this book will inspire giggles and gasps from another generation as readers and listeners will learn about skunks, opossums, and life in the meadow through the eyes of Jimmy Skunk.

What I Thought About the Series- I really enjoyed reading these; they have a way of transporting you to another time. The storied are timeless, and actually took me a bit to realize they were written early 20th century. As a kid, I knew the stories of Peter Cottontail but never really knew who Thornton Burgess was and that there were more stories of his out there! I am glad to know now. – Burgess wrote stories similar to Beatrice Potter, but also charmingly different. The books are accompanied by what appears to be original illustrations. They tell neat short stories with chapters, good for a beginning reader or installments at bedtime. Burgess’ writing is timeless and will connect with any child today. The stories show good clean fun with tricksters, friendships, consequences, and also forgiveness. The book also talks about nature and creates an appreciation for the animals that live outside. I am extremely excited that Seagrass Press is bringing these classics back into print! I love the updated covers – very eye-catching!

I give these books five out of five bookworms!

Now for Darth Vader’s take on the books –

Darth- what do you think about Peter Cotton Tail?


Huh? No Peter Cotton Tail just tries to fool Reddy Fox…


Umm – okay. Well what about Jimmy Skunk? What do you think about him?


What emperor? There’s only Farmer Brown.


Darth, I need you to focus. I’ve got a blog to run here and… ahk ahk gasp

Darth that was uncool. You need to stop force chocking me. Every year it’s the same thing. Just tell me how many book worms you’d give the books.


Nice Darth but my rating scale is in bookworms and it only goes to five



Okay you win, 10,000 Death Stars. Any last words Darth?



Poetry Month Wrap up!

1 May

As we say good-bye to April and poetry month – I have some great title suggestions that you may want to pick up and keep the poetry going!

Poetry for Kids: Carl Sandburg
Written by Carl Sandburg
Edited by Kathryn Benzel, PhD
Illustrated by Robert Crawford
48 pages – ages 8+
Published by MoonDance Press on April 3, 2017

Synopsis from Publisher- Professor and scholar Kate Benzel has carefully chosen 35 poems of interest to children and their families. Carl Sandburg divides the poems into poems about people, and poems about people. You’ll find classics including “Young Bullfrogs,” “Shenandoah”, “Jazz Fantasia”, “Fog”, and 31 more of Sandburg’s favorite and most accessible works. Each poem is beautifully illustrated by the award-winning Robert Crawford. This gentle introduction includes commentary, definitions of key words, and an introduction to the poet’s life, plus a final synopsis of the author’s interpretation of the pieces.

What I Thought- I really liked how this book was laid out. I was introduced to Sandburg and his poems, which is a plus, as I appreciate learning more about his works. The illustrations are also gorgeous, full of so much life and emotion.

I also like that the book includes definitions for some words that younger readers may not know, such as “shrewd” and “cornsilk”. This is a fabulous idea, and kids will have a nice way to learn about a great person in poetry’s history. There is also so extra information at the beginning and end of the book about Sandburg. This is a fine introduction to Sandburg’s poetry.

Poetry for Kids: Walt Whitman
Written by Walt Whitman
Edited by Karen Karbiener, PhD
Illustrated by Kate Evans
48 pages – ages 8+
Will be Published by MoonDance Press on May 1, 2017 (TODAY!)

Synopsis from the Publisher- Carefully chosen for kids, 35 illustrated poems are presented and explained by New York University professor Karen Karbenier, PhD, a Whitman expert. Walt Whitman includes enlightening commentary for each poem, definitions of key words, and a foreword by the expert. Vibrant illustrations invigorate the poetry.

Starting off with “I Hear America Singing,” the collection includes excerpts from “Song of Myself,” “O Captain! My Captain!”, poems from Leaves of Grass, and many more thought-provoking, descriptive, and kid-friendly selections.

What I Thought- This book is very cool. The illustrations evoke a lot of emotion to go along with the poems. I think it is great to pair illustrations with poems especially for younger kids who may not get the meaning of the words but the illustrations really help convey the message.


I really like how Karbiener goes into depth about what each poem means in the section “What Walt Was Thinking.” This section is a great addition for older kids (or even adults) who are curious about the meaning of the poems or what  may have been going on in Whitman’s head as he wrote them. This is an excellent introductory book for kids to a legendary American Poet.

The Poet’s Dog

by Patricia MacLachlan 

96 pages – ages 6+
Published by Katherine Tegen on September 13, 2016

Synopsis for the Publisher:

From Newbery Medal winner Patricia MacLachlan comes a poignant story about two children, a poet, and a dog and how they help one another survive loss and recapture love. “Just what I needed,” raves “It’s a heart-warming story of loss and love that filled me with hope for a better future and renewed my belief in good.”

Teddy is a gifted dog. Raised in a cabin by a poet named Sylvan, he grew up listening to sonnets read aloud and the comforting clicking of a keyboard. Although Teddy understands words, Sylvan always told him there are only two kinds of people in the world who can hear Teddy speak: poets and children.

Then one day Teddy learns that Sylvan was right. When Teddy finds Nickel and Flora trapped in a snowstorm, he tells them that he will bring them home—and they understand him. The children are afraid of the howling wind, but not of Teddy’s words. They follow him to a cabin in the woods, where the dog used to live with Sylvan . . . only now his owner is gone.

As they hole up in the cabin for shelter, Teddy is flooded with memories of Sylvan. What will Teddy do when his new friends go home? Can they help one another find what they have lost?

What I thought: Wow. I have to say I am a sucker for a well written prose book and also books told from a dog’s point of view  as long as it is told well. MacLachlan nailed this one. There are so many emotions pulled out of you in this book – from the dog loosing it’s owner to the lost children to the uncertainty of what will happen when the kids leave. There is a sweetness about the story too. The book is only 96 pages and the words are easy to read. This is a perfect book for young children who may be seeking more meaning out of stories. I think it would make a wonderful read aloud for a class or family. MacLachlan has crafted  an incredibly moving story that is completely accessible for younger kids. A book like this can spark an interest in children to seek out more meaty stories.


All of these book get a five out of five on my scale!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Animal Ark by Kwame Alexander and by Joel Sartore

30 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 an awesome story about caring for animals in the wild.

Animal Ark
Written by Kwame Alexander
Photography by Joel Sartore
48 pages – ages 4+

Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on February 14, 2017

Theme/Topic- Animals/Endangered Animals
Genre- Nonfiction
Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “chorus of creatures/singing our names/see what we can save-together

Synopsis from Publisher: “A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird – pairing the stunning photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the delicate poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this lush picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and fragility of the animal world.
Featuring more than 40 unique animal portraits, the pages invite kids to explore each creature’s markings, textures, and attributes in stunning detail, while calling on all of us to help protect each and every one. Three picture-packed gatefolds inside showcase even more familiar and exotic species. These images are part of Sartore’s lifelong project to photograph every animal in the world, with special attention given to disappearing and endangered species.”

What I Thought- This is a fascinating book. There is a poem that Alexander wrote that is throughout the book, that weaves together with the stunning photographs Sartore took of animals around the world. The reader easily gets lost in this wonderful visual spectacular and moving poetry! The poetry is all in haiku which (I think) makes it especially fun to read. There are a couple fold out pages where the photography spills out in an even larger visual display. The book will most certainly spark discussions about animal species and endangered species.There are author and illustrator notes in the back of the book which add to the meaning of the whole package  – also a section that lists the endangered species in the book as a summary. The book is a must read!

Activities and Resources- There is a good lesson plan for teachers on endangered species at HERE!

There is also a good lesson plan for teachers on endangered species at HERE!

Check out this video!

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

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- has a page about Frederick Douglass – if you want to learn more, you can go HERE. 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!

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!

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Bogo, The Fox Who Wanted Everything by Susanna Isern

10 Mar

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 story about being yourself!

Bogo, The Fox Who Wanted Everything
Written by Susanna Isern
Illustrated by Sonja Wimmer
40 pages – ages 4+

Published by NubeOcho on October 11, 2016

Theme/Topic- Nature/Being Yourself

Genre- Fiction
Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Bogo the fox lived in the branches of a great big tree. This is quite unusual for a fox, but he was a very curious fox and from up there he could see everything much better.”

Synopsis from Publisher: “Bogo watched many animals around him. Some of them were so incredible that they made him feel less special. One day he decided to invent amazing things so that he could have everything he wanted.
A pair of wings to fly like a bird. It never worked.
A pair of night glasses to see like an owl. It never worked . . .”

What I Thought- This is a fabulous book celebrating individuality. Bogo is a lovable character who wants to be special and doesn’t give up. Well, he does, but that ends up being the turning point of the book where he realizes how special he is by himself. Isern’s writing has qualities kids will love – there are repeated phrases and everyone feels like they know a Bogo. Wimmer’s illustrations go with the writing marvelously – they create that sense of whimsy. I really like the variety of animals – and the fact that they wear old-style clothing! This is a wonderful story, and I think kids will enjoy having this read to them!

Activities and Resources- There is a great list of ways to encourage creativity from HERE!

There is also a post on self-esteem building from HERE!

The book is also available in Spanish!

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

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Are We There Yet? by Nina Laden

24 Feb

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 great story.

areweAre We There Yet?
Written by Nina Laden
Illustrated by Adam McCauley
36 pages – ages 4+

Published by Chronicle Books on March 1, 2016

Theme/Topic- Using Imagination

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Are you ready?

Synopsis from Publisher: “We’ve all been there. Or more accurately, we’ve all been with kids in the backseat clamoring (over and over!) “Are we there yet?” In this genius of a picture book, bestselling author Nina Laden combines forces with dynamic illustrator Adam McCauley to turn that dilemma on its head. Fun for kids and adults, the book is filled with details that readers will want to hunt for (over and over!). Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

What I Thought- I think that this book is a great tribute to the imagination. The book never goes out and states that the kid is imagining the things outside the car, but it can lead into a great conversation between parent and child! A great concept story, the book has minimal text, consisting mostly of the child asking the question “Are we there yet?” (and what parent hasn’t experienced this!) and his mother answering “No” – along with a few other word bubbles. The main focus is definitely the illustrations. The illustrations are a feast for the eyes. They are whimsical, having the essence of reality intertwined with the marvel of imagination.

arewe2 arewe3 The book is a fabulous collaboration between two very creative individuals, and I hope to see them working together again!

Activities and Resources- I found a great post about the importance of imagination, along with activities to spark it HERE at!

There is also a fabulous list of imaginative games you can play from HERE!

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

Creative Kid Thursday! Guest Review by Josie: Red-Tail Recovery by Emma J Homes

16 Feb

Happy Thursday!

Today my sister Josie is reviewing a book that she really enjoyed!

What is more awesome is that you can pick up a FREE copy of the kindle book on Amazon TODAY – click HERE!

redtailRed-Tail Recovery

series: Ruthie’s wildlife (Book 3)
by Emma J Homes

55 pages – ages 6+
Published by Spark Street Communications Pty Ltd on December 14, 2016

Publishers summary: Ruthie’s wildlife scientist parents are taking on a new challenge – saving the endangered red-tailed black-cockatoo. For Ruthie this means a lot of exciting firsts: living in a house, and not a bus, starting at a ‘real’ school, and the chance to make some friends. As always, Ruthie will be helping her parents with their work, but will it be enough to make a difference for these rare and beautiful birds? And what will Ruthie and her family find themselves up against this time?

What Josie Thought: I really like this book. I liked the other book in this series I read (The Vanishing Frogs of Cascade Creek) and I want to get the first book too. Ruthie is a nice character. Her parents are scientists they travel around Australia in a bus and study wildlife and figure out how to help them. Ruthie and her brother and sister get to go too. That sounds like a pretty cool life. I like science and nature and this book teaches you about the Red-Tail Cockatoo and their habitat. There is a link in the back of the book for a website where there are people actually doing the work of saving the Red-Tail talked about in the book. This is what a Red-Tail looks like –


The chapters in the book aren’t very long so it is a great book for kids who have trouble reading or are starting out. The story is fun to read and I like Ruthie’s smart solution to help the birds when their environment is being destroyed.

I give this book five bookwormsfivebooks

Thank you Josie!

Don’t forget to grab a FREE kindle copy of this book CLICK HERE!

To learn more about Emma J Homes, go to her website – click HERE

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