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Blog Tour! Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper by “Gusto” Dave Jackson & Janet “The Kid” Fogg

23 Jan

misfortune-annie-and-the-locomotive-reaper-1mf-annie-hi-resMisfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper
Co-Written by “Gusto” Dave Jackson & Janet “The Kid” Fogg
154 Pages – ages 8+
Published by FA LLC on October 22, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “Annabelle Fortune, the fastest gunslinger in the wild west, inadvertently stops a stranger from attacking a train — and he wears a suit that enables him to fly! — the government believes she’s the only one to have witnessed the Locomotive Reaper and survived to tell the tale.

Promising to find out what he can about her missing father, the Director of the Secret Service persuades Annie to swear in. Too soon, her detested nickname re-stakes its claim.

Partnered with Beau Slokam, whose penchant for gambling leads them straight to the Doom Gang, Misfortune Annie guides the smooth-talking Southerner in a chase through the Rockies, with her Cheyenne friend, Wontoa, rounding out their unlikely trio.

When Annie again meets the Locomotive Reaper, his gadgetry proves far more advanced — and deadly — than even top scientists could have imagined.”

What I Thought- This was a nice story that added a slight steampunk view on the Wild West, with a man who has a suit that lets him fly, and Annie slinging guns and lassoing hooligans. It works in a good way The setting is well-described and makes it feel true. The details in the story makes the entire setting picture come into focus. The characters are well fleshed out, and realistic. The dialogue is spot on for the time period (just about 15 years after the American Civil War), and makes you feel like you are actually there with Annie. The book has a lot of action and kids will like reading about Annie beating up bad guys and going on adventures. It’s a nice story, and I would like to read the second book.

…………………….

Q&A with Janet Fogg & Dave Jackson, Courtesy of the Publisher

Your protagonist was inspired by spitfire Annie Oakley, but what’s the full story behind your exciting middle grade adventure Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper?

Dave: To properly tell Misfortune Annie’s origin, we must first go back to the spark from a great machine. I make no bones about my awe of George Lucas and the Indiana Jones series. It’s widely known by most Lucas fans that the rugged archaeologist first showed up in spirit in old matinee serials until George tweaked him a little for a new generation of movie lovers. Indy’s trusty whip came from Zorro cliffhangers. So, hoping to scare up just anything that could give Indy a run for his money, I poked around in the same cinema of yesteryear and dug the cowboy genre. Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry—they were huge! So like Indy, my new star had to have a catchy name and signature duds. He was going to have a 10-gallon hat and Levi jacket.
I never got to name him though because fate threw in a wildcard that made me so grateful and stoked, I could never go back to the dude. On Christmas vacation one year, nearly sleeping behind the wheel through flat old Kansas, I passed a sign that boasted, “Annie Oakley Museum.” Jolted awake, I had my new hero. It would be a young lady known by a slick nickname.
Janet: We were chatting about his concept for Annie and what he wanted to accomplish with the book/series, and asked if I’d join him on that journey. Annie appealed to me for many reasons. First, because she was a young cowgirl struggling to excel in the man’s world of the wild, Wild West. I really liked that. Second, because I thought we could weave subtle “lessons- learned” into the books, so that young readers, especially teen girls, would have a role model with strength, courage, determination, and strong morals.

What made you decide to co-write as a team on this series – and how is it collaborating on a book?

Dave: We didn’t collaborate. Like spoiled rich kids we fought, I tell ya. Nah, actually, the writer’s journey is very lonely and I highly recommend brewing with another author, especially someone as tenacious, gracious, and creative as Janet.
Janet: Or as funny, talented, and kind as Dave. (Can you say mutual admiration society? It’s been a blast!)

Can you tell us more about the “Fun Facts” readers will find at the very back of the book?

Janet: We decided to incorporate some historic facts in each book, and the “Fun Facts” helps define certain facts versus fiction. One example is the waist overalls made by Levi Strauss that Annie wears. These were the original blue jeans, and in our Fun Facts a reader will learn that when they were first created by German-born businessman Levi Strauss and Latvian-born tailor Jacob Davis, blue jeans were actually called “waist overalls.” The duo received a patent for them on May 20, 1873, with a product that had one back pocket, a watch pocket, a cinch, and brace buttons. When a young reader reads this Fun Fact, we hope it inspires them to pause and consider the origins of other everyday items. Perhaps there are many young inventors out there, in need of inspiration and a nudge!

What is your favorite part of being an author / or the process of writing?

Dave: Hands down, it’s when I daydream of people reading our stories. After which, my imagination blossoms more to fans tossing me the keys to their Ferrari—and not to park it for them—then they offer to buy me and Janet fried chicken dinners.
Janet: What Dave said. Plus, bending my imagination 90 degrees to somewhere. Inspiring a reader. Preserving history.

What does a typical work day of writing look like for you?

Dave: There is no typical. My days are maxed with tutoring my son in algebra, playing music gigs, performing stand up, an auditing occupation, planning a convention, exercise, my lovely girlfriend, and having a good time. I truly write due to my love for it because there’s no time otherwise. Because of odd predicaments, I’ve borrowed other folks’ computers and even typewriters to get something on the page. I’ve scrawled on napkins.
Janet: I’ve never been a good sleeper, so I sneak out of bed when the Great Horned Owls are still conversing. First, I check email. (Who doesn’t?) While I used to work on manuscript drafts during those wee hours, now I work on my 359th FG posts or answer questions about the Fighter Group. After breakfast I write new words. Then I’ll edit (I can edit all day, but my brain begins to protest after writing three or four or pages of new words). That’s another reason I love collaborating on stories!

Have you ever had a mentor, or someone who sparked your passion for writing?

Dave: Yoda, but Janet wound up being better.
Janet: After I stop blushing, I’m going to work on growing long pointy ears. Really though – reading, reading and more reading.

Annie is such a trailblazer and great role model for young readers. What do you hope fans of the book will take away from the story?

Janet: That girls rock!
Dave: Misfortune Annie and the Locomotive Reaper is the really good book you’ve been looking for. Also – I do want everyone to know that I learned to crack a whip just because of the Indiana Jones movies (which influenced Misfortune Annie’s creation).

What do you feel makes your book unique from other middle grade fiction out there?

Dave: The characters are peculiar, funny, and cool.
Janet: Especially Annie.
Dave: Yes, you won’t be able to wait for Book Two.

Ah! So speaking of book two, what’s next for Misfortune Annie?

Throughout the series, we will see more problems that Annie doesn’t get credit for because she’s a girl in a ‘tough guy’ world.

A long cast of colorful crooks (think James Bond’s bullies) is waiting to take on the fastest draw in the west. Book Two leads Annie to New Orleans and face-to-face with a wicked Voodoo priest. In another episode, the Dragon Warrior shall render her six shooters useless. A sinister magician will perform the ultimate trick on her and the Secret Service. Beware pirates! Look out for creatures in the woods, Annie! Not to mention cameos by historical figures like Wyatt Earp, Baby Doe Tabor, and Teddy Roosevelt—perfect walk-ons to spark curiosity about US History.

…………………….

Janet Fogg

Janet Fogg’s focus on writing began when she was CFO and Managing Principal of OZ Architecture, one of Colorado’s largest architectural firms. Fifteen writing awards later, she resigned from the firm to follow the yellow brick road. Ten months after that, she signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for her historical romance Soliloquy a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit winner.

With husband Richard, Janet co-wrote Fogg in the Cockpit (Casemate), one of five books nominated in 2012 by the Air Force Historical Foundation for best World War II book reviewed in Air Power History.

Keeping her historical knowledge sharp, Janet manages the 359th Fighter Group’s Facebook page, sharing WWII stories and photos about the Fighter Group. She is also a proud member and 2015/16 Vice President of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. She previously served as Published Author Liaison in 2010.

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The authors sure know how to Kid around with Gusto!

Dave Jackson

Not your typical author, Dave Jackson started writing in his constant pursuit to become a renaissance man, but later fell in love with the art form. He performs stand-up and skits regularly, as Comedy remains one of his many passions and he writes and performs skits, as well as stand-up. Also a songwriter and guitarist, Dave has composed over 300 musical titles.

A country boy, Dave was raised in Oklahoma and taught 6th grade English for two years. He enjoys sharing the tale about when he climbed high into a towering black jack tree and grabbed a dead branch. Snap! He hurtled toward his death, but he held tight to the branch and it slowed his fall, saving his life.

In 2013, Dave enjoyed the release of Tattoo Rampage by Curiosity Quills Press. The novel follows Evangelina Marquez-James, a strong female heroine, who gets her first tattoo as a symbol of courage to carry on after her police officer husband dies in the line of duty.

Author Links below:

Perfect Picture Book Friday! I Am A Story by Dan Yaccarino

22 Jan

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’s a really profound story.

storyI Am A Story
By Dan Yaccarino
40 pages – ages 4+

Published by HarperCollins on Sept. 6 2016

Theme/Topic- The history of storytelling? It’s a bit hard to narrow down.

Genre- Fiction? Nonfiction?

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “I am a story. I was told along a campfire, then painted on cave walls.

Synopsis from Publisher: “Internationally acclaimed author-illustrator Dan Yaccarino presents a powerful picture book that celebrates storytelling—from the past to the present and beyond.

From cave drawings to the invention of the printing press to our digital age, discover how a story has been told in many different ways from the past to today. It’s always been around, making us happy, sad, excited, or scared and bringing people together. With simple text and delightful illustrations, Dan Yaccarino reminds us of the power of story.”

What I Thought- I really like how this book recaps the history of storytelling in a simplified manner, taking you all the way from oral storytelling, through writing, printing, electronically, and then back to oral storytelling in a nice circular ending. The book has minimal text, making it a nice read-aloud for younger kids. Mr. Yaccarino’s illustrations are both detailed and simple, and kids will like looking at them. I mean, just take a look for your self!:

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Isn’t that great? I like how there is a detail that is shared with all of the pictures as they go throughout the timeline. This book is a nice transition into a topic on writing stories, or printing books as well. I really like how Mr. Yaccarino has found a way of writing a great book that takes your breath away as you read it and look at the illustrations.

Activities and Resources- Storyarts.org has a great list of activities for school kids that involve speaking/storytelling HERE.

Mensaforkids.org has tips on storytelling (good for kids and adults!) HERE!

Check out the trailer!

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

Review! Super Gear by Jennifer Swanson

16 Jan

supergearSuper Gear: Nanotechnology and Sports Team Up
By Jennifer Swanson
80 pages – ages 8+
Published by Charlesbridge on June 7, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- How are the sports played by Michael Phelps, Serena Williams, Michelle Wie, and Usain Bolt related? Nanotechnology!

Take a close-up look at sports and nanotechnology, the cutting-edge science that manipulates objects at the atomic level. Nanotechnology is used to create high-tech swimsuits, tennis rackets, golf clubs, running shoes, and more. It is changing the face of sports as we know it.

What I Thought- You don’t have to be a sprots fan to enjoy this cool book. It is neat how  Swanson combines a topic most kids like (sports) with a topic most know little about (nanotechnology). Swanson explains the details about what makes nanotechnology work in an easy-to-understand way. She also includes science principles explained, such as drag and turbulence, as well as things such as graphene and carbon nanotubes. There is a great index and resource list at the end of the book as well. There are good illustrations throughout the book – they include real pictures of sports and athletes, and also artists’ interpretations of the theoretical molecular structures. All of this is easy to understand. Kids will also like doing the experiments in the book that help explain concepts. The book is organized into easy grouping with the chapters. Ms. Swanson does a good job of relating the two subjects. I recommend this book to science buffs and sports buffs and everyone in between!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Underground Toy Society by Jessica D. Adams

11 Jan

undergroundThe Underground Toy Society
By Jessica D. Adams
24 pages – ages 4+
Published by CreateSpace on June 8, 2015

Synopsis from the Publisher- What happens to toys when children don’t play with them? Where do toys go when their children grow up? What happens when there are too many toys in one house? Find out when Samantha goes on an exciting underground adventure as she tries to find her best friend after they were separated.

What I Thought- This was a cute story. The illustrations were done by the author’s daughters, and are a nice example of genuine “kid art.” The book is a good happy story that small kids will like listening to as a read-aloud and early readers can manage. There were one or two spots in the story that I felt could have been expanded on, but I think the book is spot on for Adams’ target audience. The story is one kids can relate to and will enjoy reading about Samantha’s adventure. The cover serves its purpose, and gives a good teaser into the book although I would have liked to seen more of the kid art. The story is a good one for introducing kids to early chapter books as it has more words and smaller pictures than a standard picture book. The story has no chapters making it an easy transitional piece from picture books to early readers.

I give this book 4 out of 5 bookworms.fourbooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp

8 Jan

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 super sweet story about trying your best and overcoming your fears with a little help from your friends.

madelineMadeline Finn and the Library Dog
By Lisa Papp
32 pages – ages 4+

Published by Peachtree Publishers on October 1, 2016

Theme/Topic-Reading/Trying Your Best

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “I do NOT like to read!

Synopsis from Publisher: “Madeline Finn DOES NOT like to read.
Not books.
Not magazines.
Not even the menu on the ice cream truck.
But Madeline Finn DOES want a gold star from her teacher.
Stars are for good readers.
Stars are for understanding words.
And saying them out loud.
Fortunately, Madeline Finn meets Bonnie, a library dog. Reading out loud to Bonnie isn’t so bad. When Madeline Finn gets stuck, Bonnie doesn’t mind. Madeline Finn can pet her until she figures the word out.
As it turns out, it’s fun to read when you’re not afraid of making mistakes. Bonnie teaches Madeline Finn that it s okay to go slow. And to keep trying. Just like the sticker says.

What I Thought- I really like how this book doesn’t attribute Madeline’s reading troubles to anything, such as dyslexia, so it can relate to any kid, whether they have dyslexia or just trouble reading. Ms. Papp has written a good story about how if you keep trying at something, and take your time, you can ultimately succeed at your goal. It’s also nice that the story teaches this all without making it obvious that you are learning. That’s skill. Ms. Papp’s soft watercolors make the story feel intimate and cheery.madeline2  The book is perfect to read with children, as it is a problem they may empathize with. Madeline Finn will remind you of that one spunky person in your life who is insistent that it is their way or the highway. She wants to read, but is certain she cannot. She realizes that with gentle, quiet support (dogs don’t judge you for making mistakes) she can keep going, and ultimately succeed.madeline3 It’s a nice story with a positive ending, and an even happier twist. Kids will like this story that encourages them to keep trying and work it out.

Activities and Resources- I found a great article that has tips to encourage reading from Readingrockets.org HERE!

There is a good article on teaching perseverance with young kids at Momentsaday.com HERE!

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

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days In Orbit by Sue Ganz-Schmitt

6 Jan

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.

planetkindergarten100Planet Kindergarten: 100 Days In Orbit
Written by Sue Ganz-Schmitt
Illustrated by Shane Prigmore
36 pages – ages 5+

Published by Chronicle Books on October 4, 2016

Theme/Topic- Teamwork/Helping others

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening:

Star Log: Day 100
Base camp is lively. I greet my crewmates and admire their work.

Synopsis from Publisher: “Star Log: Day 100. Base camp is lively. I greet my crewmates and admire their work. We have mastered many skills on our journey, but today brings a new milestone. There have been: 100 roll calls. 100 songs. 100 pledges. 100 challenging days full of exploration and triumph! Little ones will be over the moon as they celebrate school’s 100th Day with this clever, dynamically illustrated book, and eager to suit up for another daring adventure exploring and conquering Planet Kindergarten.”

What I Thought- This is a neat sequel to Planet Kindergarten (see my review HERE). I like how the way the kids are drawn creates mild confusion for the kids about whether they are human or alien.  One of the reasons I like this book is that while the text makes it seem like it is very much in outer space, but then the illustrations show plastic building bricks, a dodge ball, and other such Earthly things. The illustrations are fun to look at and have tons of details that add to the story.

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It is a really nice combination that kids will like a lot. Ms. Ganz-Schmitt is onto a really good idea, as this series teaches about friendship and other great ideas for kids. This one teaches about teamwork, and helping others.

Activities and Resources- Care.com has a great list of activities for toddlers-elementary school kids that build teamwork HERE! This list is good for teachers or parties.

Brighthorizons.com has a nice post about teaching your kids to help others by showing them an example HERE! This post is better suited towards parents.

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

Reviews! Famous Fails! and Martin McMillan and the Sacred Stones

22 Dec

fails1Famous Fails!
By Crispin Boyer
128 pages – ages 7+
Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on October 25, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- This fun book of quirky failures and famous flops will keep kids laughing while they learn the importance of messing up in order to get it right. Science, architecture, technology, entertainment — there are epic fails and hilarious goof-ups from every important field. Silly side features help to analyze the failures: “Lesson Learned,” “It Could be Worse!,” “Losing Combinations,” and a “Fail Scale” help readers navigate the different kinds and scopes of the mistakes made. Read to learn what went wrong, what went right, and what kids can learn from each failed attempt.

What I Thought- This is a really neat nonfiction book. It talks about famous ways that people have failed, and it talks about what you can learn from it. There are fun pictures in it that kids will like looking at. The book includes advice on carrying on after failing and how to avoid failing. The way the book is written, it points out that the people made a mistake, and how it happened, but in a nice way, instead looking at why they failed. There is a fun combination of text-boxes and real-life photos on each page, and kids will enjoy looking at the pages. The book is split into sections, with the last section full of advice to help with failure. This is another great book from National Geographic Kids!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

martinMartin McMillan and the Sacred Stones
Written by Elaine Russell
Illustrated by Patricia Andrews
228 pages – ages 8+
Published by Createspace on January 31, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- This is the third installment of the Martin McMillan mystery/adventures for middle grade readers (ages 9-13). A vacation to Scotland finds thirteen-year-old skateboarders Martin McMillan and his friend Isabel drawn into another exciting mystery. Gaelic verses, recently found in the lining of an old trunk, hold the key to Druid secrets on the windswept Isle of Lewis. Clues lead to the ancient Calanais Standing Stones, which rival the wonder of Stonehenge. Martin and Isabel are determined to uncover the truth before other, less scrupulous parties can beat them to it. But dark forces go to great lengths to keep the island’s secrets from the outside world.

What I Thought- This is a cool book. There is a nice level of facts and fiction mixed into the story to get readers interested. The characters are realistic, behaving and sounding like normal kids. I especially like that in the beginning, Isabel isn’t fond of her stepmother…but as the story is from Martin’s point-of-view, he reflects that she seems like a decent person. I like that because that is a completely normal reaction – you may not understand why someone doesn’t like another person, and find the other person okay. As this book is the third book in the series, it is nice that this book explains the previous stories without going into too much detail. There is a good level of action in the story, keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. The setting is neat (I’ve always liked Scotland) and it is a neat touch that the reader learns about it as the story goes on.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Bookish Holiday Gifts – Part Three!

19 Dec

Still looking for that perfect gift?

Check out my holiday gift picks for this year – part 1part 2!

and now the third installment of my gift picks!

paperJapanese Paper Toys Kit

By Andrew Dewar

(Kit) – ages 7+

Published by Tuttle Publishing on September 27, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- Origami Paper Toys Kit is a unique paper craft kit that brings together the of art paper folding and the fun of moveable toys. Amaze your friends as you watch your origami paper creations wiggle, walk, tumble, shuffle and spin right before your eyes! Renowned origami artist and teacher, Andrew Dewar has designed these origami for kids projects to be simple enough to be completed quickly and easily. No need to learn origami folding, painting or cutting—just punch fold and enjoy!

What I Thought- This is definitely a neat book! It goes beyond traditional origami/kirigami (the Japanese art of paper folding/…and with cutting too), including moving parts and a little bit of physics.

The instructions are described very well and laid out in an easy to understand manner.

paper2

The creations can be made with the kit contents as well as common items from around the house.

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The toys are unique, based off of toys the author had as a young boy. I decided to make one of the easier ones for the purpose of reviewing.

I chose to make the frog and picked the green paper – because frogs are mostly green. Don’t mind my phone, I just used it as a paper weight.

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First off, the directions were very clear. That is always, always a plus. To top things off, the paper – which has funky designs – has faint lines that indicate where you fold and when.

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I started folding the papers, following the instructions. I saw the paper go from a rectangle into a more froggy-shape.img_2472

 

The steps were mildly difficult at times, but they are explained well, and anyone can do it.

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As I put the finishing touches on, this creates the “jumper” of the frog.

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The finished product!

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Here’s a video of it working!

If you can’t tell already, I really liked this book, and think it a great holiday gift for the crafty folks in your life!

 

Next up –

 

vincentVincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories: A Children’s History of Art

Written by Michael Bird

Illustrated by Kate Evans

336 pages – ages 8+

Published by Laurence King Publishing on August 23, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- An enthralling journey through the story of world art, from early cave paintings right up to the present day. Discover artists and their art around the world, in 68 exciting and imaginative tales about artists and the way they created their work.

Written by educator and art historian Michael Bird, and beautifully illustrated by Kate Evans, the book also features reproductions of the famous artworks discussed, a comprehensive timeline of events, and extra feature spreads on places connected with art.

What I Thought- This is a gorgeous book! The entire book is visually stunning.

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The book is not just about van Gogh. It is a kid-friendly study in art history! There are little mini chapters that tell the story behind a certain piece of art that was important in making art where it is today. It includes some of the very first art from 40,000BC to more modern art from 2014 and everything in between.

vincent3

The book shows a picture of the actual art, but then includes pictures by Kate Evans to help the reader learn about it. All in all, the book is informative, and teaches you about the art in an easy-to-learn way. This is an amazing resource for parents and teachers!

And last but not least –

brambly

Adventures in Brambly Hedge

By Jill Barklem

128 pages – ages 6+

Published by HarperCollins on November 6, 2014

Synopis from Publisher- Step into the miniature world of Brambly Hedge in this exquisite slipcase containing four classic picture books!

The mice of Brambly Hedge have many adventures but they always have time for fun too. All through the year, they mark the seasons with feasts and festivities and, of course, the mice never miss an opportunity to meet and celebrate.

This beautifully designed slipcase contains four classic stories following their adventures throughout the year.

What I Thought- My very first thought was that of Beatrix Potter. My second was of Redwall (Brian Jacques). It combines the nice spirits of both. In the stories, the mice are good-role models, working together. The stories are short, and this boxed set takes four of the classic tales.

brambly2

 

There are gorgeous illustrations on almost every page, and some that are full page spreads – those ones really take your breath away! The books are all hardcover and a nice size to fit in small hands. This is a nice short story collection, and the books are a nice small size for younger hands. A great gift set for the holidays!

Bookish Holiday Gift Picks – Part Deux!

14 Dec

Check out my first round of Holiday book gifts HERE. Now on to some holiday themed picks!

First up – A HANUKKAH WITH MAZEL!

mazel
A Hanukkah with Mazel
Written by Joel Edward Stein

Illustrated by Elisa Vavouri

32 pages – ages 4+
Published by Kar-Ben Publishing on August 1, 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis- Misha, a poor artist, has no one to celebrate Hanukkah with until he discovers a hungry cat in his barn. The lucky little cat, whom Misha names Mazel, inspires Misha to turn each night of Hanukkah into something special. He doesn’t have money for Hanukkah candles, but he can use his artistic skills to bring light to his home – as Mazel brings good luck to his life.

What I Thought- This is a sweet story about selflessness, kindness and friendship. The text in the book is lengthy and is best as a read aloud. I can see families reading the story together for a story time. It shows how selfless Misha is and how he appreciates the very little he has. As the book progresses the reader is introduced to Hanukkah traditions as part of Misha’s story. The illustrations are rich and reflect the feeling of the story.

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The ending is a happy one that reinforces good things happen to those who help others. A great holiday read!

Next up – COZY CLASSICS – THE NUTCRACKER!

nutcracker

Cozy Classics: The Nutcracker
Written and Illustrated by Jack Wang and Holman Wang

Board Book

24 pages – ages 2+
Published by Chronicle Books on September 6, 2016

Publisher’s synopsis- Cuddle up with a classic! In twelve needle-felted scenes and twelve child-friendly words, each book in this ingenious series captures the essence of a literary masterpiece. Simple words, sturdy pages, and a beloved story make these books the perfect vehicle for early learning with an erudite twist. Budding bookworms will delight in this clever retelling of the classics made just for them!

In E. T. A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker, marvel at Maria’s favorite gift, cheer as she defeats the Mouse King, and journey to the magical Land of Sweets. It’s a festive first words primer for your literary little one!

What I Thought- I admit I am a fiend for Jack and Holman Wang’s Cozy Classic series. The amazing duo sum up classic books like War and Peace, Moby Dick and Pride and Prejudice in 12 words! These board books are amazing. The Wang brothers wanted to teach words to very young children and use the classics as their vehicle. The felted illustrations are incredible to look at. This time the Wang brothers take on E.T.A. Hoffmann’s The Nutcracker. Each scene in the book tells a story in itself.

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Each of the scenes has a one word description on the opposite side that perfectly describes  what the illustration is telling. The books are beautiful. From a practical standpoint, the board books are sturdy, well-made and will standup to little hands paging through them. A perfect gift for your youngest reader!

Next up – get into the wintry mood with BUNNY SLOPES!

bunnyslope
Bunny Slopes Hardcover
Written and Illustrated by Claudia Rueda

60 pages – ages 3+
Published by Chronicle Books on October 4, 2016

Publisher’s synopsis- Time to tackle the bunny slope! Shake to help Bunny make it snow, tilt to help Bunny ski down the slope, and turn to help Bunny escape a cliff in his path. Is there any obstacle Bunny can’t conquer? Bringing grins and guffaws with each turn of the page, readers will find Claudia Rueda’s innovative bookmaking as entertaining as the twists and turns of a ski slope—and as satisfying as a cozy cup of hot cocoa.

What I Thought- In the spirit of interactive books like Press HERE, Rueda has us tapping, tilting and turning this book as we read along with this adorable story. Bunny can’t get going so why don’t we tilt the book a bit? Then – whoosh – bunny skis away! Not enough snow? SHAKE the book and make it snow!

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The story is so cute and I even found myself doing what the book was asking me to as I read it for review. The illustrations are a perfect fit to the story with nice muted wintry colors and a splash of red to brighten it up. The text is easy enough for beginning readers to read independently. This is a very nice book to get anyone in the mood for wintry fun!

Now how about some kid-friendly Christmas jokes!

lolxmas
Laugh-Out-Loud Christmas Jokes for Kids
Written by Rob Elliott

Illustrated by Gearbox

144 pages – ages 6+
Publisheed by HarperCollins on September 20, 2016

Publisher’s synopsis- A must-have for your little comedian, this Christmas collection from the #1 bestselling author of Laugh-Out-Loud Jokes for Kids has hundreds of holiday- and winter-themed jokes to make the season bright. And with a special foil cover, it’s the perfect gift!

The holiday season just got a whole lot merrier now that Rob Elliott is back with another instant classic full of fresh, frosty fun to bring the whole family together. These pages are bursting with laughter to warm up the fireside, the sledding slopes, and everywhere in between.

Why don’t lobsters give Christmas presents?

Because they’re shellfish!

What I Thought- Who doesn’t like a good joke? This book is packed with kid-friendly humor that will keep them occupied for hours. Teachers could liven up their lessons with a few knock knock jokes from this book. Some of the jokes are pretty corny but what would you expect from a kid’s joke book? The jokes are clean and no “bathroom” humor. Get your kids this book and get ready to be bombarded with silly jokes!

Review! Amanda on the Danube by Darlene Foster

13 Dec

danubeAmanda on the Danube: The Sounds of Music
By Darlene Foster 
128 pages – ages 9+
Published by Central Avenue Publishing on October 1, 2016

Synopsis- Amanda Ross is back on another trip, and this time, she and her friend Leah and their families are going on a river cruise up the Danube River in Germany! All was going well, until Amanda agrees to hold onto a violin for a small boy living on the streets. That’s when it becomes apparent that someone else wants the violin too. But who? And why? Amanda and Leah are back on the case!

What I Thought- I really like this series. Ms. Foster has a neat way of writing that involves the adventure and intrigue of a mystery, but while also including information about real-life places. The book follows Amanda, Leah, and their families as they travel on the Danube River in Germany, and we learn things as they learn them. There is a neat mystery/thriller type plot, and even though I could guess what was going to come for some of the plot twists, it was still a good story that kids will like. This book is a shining example of great, well-written, age-appropriate middle-grade books! Ms. Foster has something great going on with this series, and I cannot wait to read the next book and see where Amanda goes next!

fivebooks

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

If you are looking for a great holiday gift for a middle-grade reader who likes learning about different parts of the world while getting a good mystery, I recommend the Amanda series! There are five books in all. I really like how they take place all over the world.

amandaseries

 

 

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