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Review! This is the Earth by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander

20 Jul

thisisThis is the Earth

Written by Diane Z. Shore and Jessica Alexander

Illustrated by Wendell Minor

40 pages – ages 5+

Published by HarperCollins on February 23, 2016

Synopsis- This is the Earth, where we all live. Only, humans aren’t the only things living on the Earth. We share this planet with all of the animals, the birds, and the fishes. If we ruin it, we will not have a world to live in. We need to change, for this is our Earth.

What I Thought- This is a gorgeous picture book about keeping the Earth clean. Shore and Alexander’s rhyming scheme is wonderfully subtle, in a sing-song way. The book shows the land getting more and more changed from humans. It introduces everything as “This is the…” such as “This is the land…This is the river…” etc. finally introducing “This is the landfill…This is the pipe”. I think that this was a great way of teaching about pollution and being green, as it then goes into things you can do. Minor’s illustrations are absolutely stunning, and are perfect for the book.

Here is a peek –


For a full preview visit the HarperCollins website HERE

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

My latest Scholastic News Article! Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea

18 Jul

My latest Scholastic News Article came out recently. It is about the Washed Ashore Art Project, a project where trash was collected from beaches in the northwest US to create sculptures of wildlife effected by trash.

Here is the opening: “An estimated 315 billion pounds of plastic trash are swimming in our oceans today. This mass of garbage is deadly to creatures that call the ocean their home. Yet many people are unaware of how immense the problem is.


Click HERE to go the Scholastic Kid Press Corps Notebook and read the rest of the article!

Review and Taste Test! Katie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook by Katie Chin

13 Jul

katiechinKatie Chin’s Everyday Chinese Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes from My Mother’s Kitchen
Written by Katie Chin, recipes by Leeann Chin and Katie Chin
Photography by Masano Kawana
Foreword by Raghavan Iyer
160 pages – ages 12+
Published by Tuttle Publishing on April 26, 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis – “Author Katie Chin’s love of cooking blossomed at an early age—watching and later helping her renowned mother, Leeann Chin, prepare delicious Chinese dishes in her popular restaurants. Born in China, Leeann was an award-winning restaurateur and author revered for her ability to demystify Chinese cooking for the American home cook. Katie inherited her mom’s passion and talent, and has become a respected food writer and television personality in her own right. Sadly, Leeann passed away in 2010, but her recipes live on. Katie is eager to share her mother’s food legacy with you in this book—an homage to Leeann’s mastery of all that Chinese cooking has to offer.
This treasury of family recipes includes many unique dishes that Leeann developed during a six-decade career in the food business, including time-honored classics that she herself learned from her mother in China. Some dishes reflect Leeann’s Chinese-American childhood or are recipes which Katie and Leeann developed while together. Others are creations that Katie has developed more recently. Woven throughout the book are fond memories and anecdotes from Katie’s childhood, always involving cooking and eating with her mom.”

What I Thought- First, I just want to say that the reason I suggested ages 12+ for this book is just because that is around the age where I think it is reasonable to start cooking without omnipresent supervision (of course, this is up to the parents). These recipes can be made by younger kids, but parental supervision should be present throughout the cooking. That being said, the book is an excellent cookbook, with clear instructions. I liked that Ms. Chin did not assume that the reader/cook already knew information, including things such as “Basic Cooking Techniques and Tips” and “Understanding Chinese Ingredients” so the reader/cook is not left in the dark. All of the back material was very interesting and is a great help in learning to cook Chinese food. The recipes themselves are easy to read, and include simple ways to cook and prepare the food. The anecdotes into Ms. Chin, her mother, and how she gets her kids to eat things like mushrooms and spinach really make the book more personal. The book is filled with great color photos of the steps and finished dishes. This was a great cookbook!

I give this book five out of five bookworms! fivebooks

Knowing me, you probably aren’t surprised that I decided to cook something with my family from the cookbook. We chose to make the “Crystal Shrimp Dumplings” found on page 30-31. My sister Josie helped make the dumplings too.



We started by making the filling with cilantro, egg white, cornstarch, sugar, pepper and sesame oil.


We prepared the shrimp as it said in the cookbook so it won’t taste “fishy.”


We minced the shrimp in a food processor and added it to the filling mix.


Then it was time to fill the dumplings.


I don’t think our wrap job was as pretty as the ones in the book – but pretty good for beginners!



Next we cooked the dumplings!





They were delicious! The soy sauce had balsamic vinegar in it, and it gave it a nice citrus-y flavor somehow. Ms. Chin really knows how to make a meal!

Reaching for Mars – My Latest Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Article!

8 Jul

Check out my latest Scholastic News Kid Press Corps article about the RS-25 rocket engine and America’s planned mission to Mars!

Here – is the opening: “What does it take to get humans to Mars? First, you need a rocket engine that can propel a 77-ton vehicle 142 million miles. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is nearing completion of that engine.”

CLICK HERE to go the Scholastic Kid Press Corps Notebook and read the rest of the article!

NASA engineers conduct a successful test-firing of the RS-25 rocket engine earlier this year at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

NASA engineers conduct a successful test-firing of the RS-25 rocket engine earlier this year at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Creative Kid Thursday! Monster Realm Stories by Nara Duffie

7 Jul

Hello Readers! Today Creative Kid Thursday is featuring Nara Duffie, a 13-year-old who wrote her first book when she was 10, and her second book when she was 12. Here are my reviews!

nara1The Monster Realm

Series: Monster Realm Stories Book 1

Written by Nara Duffie

Illustrated by Elisabeth Alba

272 pages – ages 8+

Published by Roam & Ramble by April 2, 2014

Synopsis from Amazon – “Medusa aimed her poisoned arrow right at Lillian …

Lillian always loved stories about myths and monsters–until she found herself inside one, fighting for her life!

Joined by her best friends, Katy and Maisy, Lillian must cross a sea guarded by Krakens and sirens, race through a dark forest haunted by elves and chimeras, and cross mountains ruled by griffins and rocs.

Where in this world is Lillian’s sister? Who is the mysterious boy with the stone medallion? Why do the monsters hold an ancient grudge against humanity? And what is the secret hiding at the heart of it all?”

What I Thought- This was really good! Nara has written a great debut book that kids will enjoy reading! The story did seem a little abrupt at times, as in the flow was a little choppy. Honestly, that didn’t really bother me so much, mostly because it was only a small thing on a wonderful first book. The setting she creates is perfect for the plot, and really brings the story to life. Lillian is a good main character, who must come to terms with what her sister is doing. Her two friends bring comic relief, while you also feel empathy for what they’re going through. The descriptions throughout the book really paint the picture for the adventure, just as well as Ms. Alba’s illustrated map in the beginning.

nara2The Three Worlds

Series: Monster Realm Stories Book 2

Written by Nara Duffie

Illustrated by Elisabeth Alba

382 pages – ages 8+

Published by Roam & Ramble by March 16, 2016

Synopsis from Amazon- “Lillian and her best friends, Katy and Maisy, barely survived their first adventure in the Monster Realm. Now they have only days to stop a war between the worlds, a war in which the mythical creatures of Lanodeka plan to reclaim the earth as their own.

But this time, the girls have to face more than dragons and griffins, sirens and elves, rocs and harpies. They discover the real power behind the war, a power that is using the Creation Stone to build an army unlike anything they could have imagined. Worlds are about to change.”

What I Thought- This book was even better than book one! You could see the growth as Nara as a writer from the first to the second. The characters are well-rounded and thought-out by this point, and we see them change in their mentality as the story goes on, most notable in Katy, who has become less of a girly-girl (although she’s still not a tomboy). Ms. Alba’s map is extended in this book, now taking up two pages – it looks pretty cool, and puts things into perspective. Nara has written an enjoyable conclusion to the Monster Realm series, leaving you feeling content and happy.

I give both of these books five out of five bookworms!


To learn more about the books and Nara, go HERE!

Everything Robotics by Jennifer Swanson

2 Jun

everythingrobotsEverything Robotics

By Jennifer Swanson (with Shah Selbe)

64 pages – ages 8+

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

Synopsis- Have you ever wondered what makes robots work? Or even, for those that don’t want to say it out loud, what a robot really is? How has robotics progressed? When was it even thought up? If you’ve wondered these questions, then you are in luck, because this book from National Geographic Kids answers these – and more!

What I Thought- This was really cool! I learned a lot about modern robotics, including what makes up robots, along with older robotics of the past. There are several different ways that make robots robots, and Ms. Swanson explained them all very well. I thought it was cool how far robotics has progressed as of late. Ms. Swanson informs what kids can do with robotics, and how scientists, astronauts, and other professionals use robots, or plan to use robots. The format of the book is pretty cool, with real pictures, and fact boxes throughout it. This is another great nonfiction book from National Geographic Kids!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Rosemary Spell by Virginia Zimmerman

1 Jun

Rosemary-coverThe Rosemary Spell

By Virginia Zimmerman

280 pages – ages 12+

Published by Clarion Books on December 1, 2015

Synopsis- When Rosemary and her best friend Adam discover an old journal in Rosemary’s house, they didn’t think much of it. Until they read a line from it out loud, and Adam’s older sister just disappears from existence. Now Rosemary and Adam must race against time to get her back, before she is gone – and forgotten – forever.

What I Thought- This was a really suspenseful book, with a lot going on. I couldn’t put the book down, and read it within a day or two. This is Ms. Zimmerman’s first novel in a genre like this, and she does a great job of drawing the reader into the story. Rosemary is a believable character, and one that the reader will sympathize with. The story is more that a great fantasy, it is a very thought-provoking book. It makes you wonder what it would be like to forget a loved one forever – have their memory fade as if they never existed. I enjoyed how Zimmerman intertwined Shakespeare within the story. The book is rated as YA but middle grade readers will enjoy this. At 280 pages, it is a quick story but it feels complete. Very cool cover too.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Creative Kid Thursday! Guest review by Molly Johnson

19 May

Hello readers! Today I have a special guest review for you all!:) Meet Molly Johnson fellow kid book blogger! Be sure to check out Molly’s blog after you get done this post!

Hi guys!  My name is Molly Johnson, and I am most definitely a bibliophile.  I just started a book-reviewing blog, Locked in My Library (, and I am so grateful to Erik for giving me the chance to write a guest post on This Kid Reviews Books!  The book I’m reviewing today is by one of my favorite authors, ND Wilson, and it came out last month.  I would like to once again thank Erik for giving me this chance.
Thanks for reading,

  • Title: Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle
  • Age Range: 8+
  • Grade Level: 3+
  • Series: Outlaws of Time (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (April 19, 2016)
Back Cover Description:
    Sam Miracle’s life is made up of dreams, dreams where he’s a courageous, legendary hero instead of a foster kid with two bad arms that can barely move. Sometimes these dreams feel so real, they seem like forgotten memories. And sometimes they make him believe that his arms might come alive again.

    But Sam is about to discover that the world he knows and the world he imagines are separated by only one thing: time. And that separation is only an illusion. The laws of time can be bent and shifted by people with special magic that allows them to travel through the past, present, and future. But not all of these “time walkers” can be trusted. One is out to protect Sam so that he can accept his greatest destiny, and another is out to kill him so that a prophecy will never be fulfilled. However, it’s an adventurous girl named Glory and two peculiar snakes who show Sam the way through the dark paths of yesterday to help him make sure there will be a tomorrow for every last person on earth.

What I thought:

ND Wilson’s style and prose are engaging and alluring, and he really drew me into the story.  In the first two sentences of chapter one, I could actually feel the heat rising from the page: “There’s a kind of heat that can peel lizards, even in the shade.  Heat that sends every creeping thing slithering under rocks and into graves, heat that floats the crows up and away to find whatever cool whispers of mountain air might be trickling in over the painted mesas.”  Though the book is 330 pages long, the story moved very rapidly.  There is a lot of action, and it starts almost right away.  I was definitely rooting for Sam (the main character), even though there wasn’t a lot of him that I could relate to.  Glory, his sidekick, is an amazing girl with an adventuresome spirit who gets shot on the day she meets him (because of him) and then decides to help him rescue his sister and save the world anyway.  And it’s clear soon after they meet that he certainly could not succeed without her help.  The plot is interesting, but it is a bit complicated.  I really needed to think my way through portions of the book, and don’t think it would have been as enjoyable if I was tired.  However, this book definitely passes the most important test, which is:  Would I read it again?

The answer, most emphatically, is YES!

Thank you very much for stopping by, Molly! I really appreciate you doing so!

My Other Love – Music

11 May

HELLO blog readers!

I very rarely post about anything other than books, writing, literacy, and libraries.

I also have only ever once posted about raising money for a cause.

I have something I care a lot about that I wanted to put out in the blogosphere. I go to a small rural school in Pennsylvania. We don’t have a lot of money for things like Smartboards, iPads, or masking tape (seriously – our librarian ran out of masking tape one year…) BUT OUR TEACHERS ROCK! They are the best of the best and with them we don’t need a bunch of technology (well maybe we do need the tape, but we did eventually get that).

One of the programs at my school that I really enjoy is our band program. I find music challenging. It makes a different part of my brain fire up when I listen to or try to play it.

“Erik, why are you telling us this?” – you ask (well maybe you didn’t but let’s pretend you did).

The marching band program at our school is in dire need. The school is able to give us some money each year but that has to go towards instruments and repairs. We don’t have a lot of money left over to get uniforms.

The uniforms we have right now are over 20 years old. No offense, but I look like Harold Hill from the Music Man in them – which is an awesome musical and I am not insulting it – but let’s be real:


The uniforms are wool and uncomfortable and pretty much falling apart after being altered, re-altered, and repaired for over 20 years. It is to the point we can’t wear them in parades or at other functions.

My band teacher set up a Go Fund me account to help raise some of the money we need to replace the uniforms.

If you are a believer in the good music programs at schools can do, please think about helping.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE GO FUND ME – you can also see a picture of the new uniforms there:)

Thank you and we will return to our regularly scheduled book blog tomorrow.😉



“Inspiring Future Scientists” – my latest Scholastic News article

21 Apr


My latest Scholastic News article is out! In it I travel to the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington DC and interview retired astronaut Stephen Frick and Jennifer Sirangelo, President and CEO of the National 4-H Council. I also got to take a trip to MARS!

Check it out by clicking HERE!


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