Guest Review by Josie – Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: The Sea Pony by Ellen Potter

31 Jul

Today my little sister Josie is here with a review on a book she really enjoyed! Take it away Josie!

seaponyThe Sea Pony

Series: Piper Green and the Fairy Tree

by Ellen Potter

Illustrated by Qin Leng

128 pages – ages 7 – 9
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young People

Will be published on August 16, 2016

Publishers summary: Piper Green is in for another adventure when she finds an unusual whistle hidden inside the Fairy Tree in her front yard. But Piper doesn’t want a whistle… she wants a pony! On a trip with her dad to check the family’s lobster traps, the whistle attracts the attention of an unexpected friend. Could the fairy whistle working its magic after all?

What Josie Thought: The story in the book was very cute. I liked that the chapters were small but I got a good story out of them. I think books like that are good for kids who like to read but sometimes have trouble reading. Piper’s big brother’s name is Erik – I thought that was funny because my big brother’s name is Erik.:) There was a lot of funny lines in the book. I really like Piper and want to read more about her. I liked that Piper was wishing for something and didn’t get exactly what she thought she would but it turned out even better. I liked the other characters in the book too and the town (or the island) Piper lives in. I really like the idea of the fairy tree. I want to read more about that too. The pictures in each chapter were nice. I liked seeing the pictures that go with the story.

I would read the other books in this series!

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms. fivebooks

Review! Who Wins? by Clay Swartz

31 Jul

whowinsWho Wins?: 100 Historical Figures Go Head-to-Head and You Decide the Winner!

Written by Clay Swartz

Illustrated by Tom Booth

104 pages – ages 7+

Published by Workman Publishing Company on July 12, 2016

Synopsis from the Publisher- “Let’s say Charles Dickens challenges Mother Teresa to a lightsaber duel—they’re both equally fit, so will his superior artistry overcome her advantage in bravery and leadership? Or who wins karaoke—Nelson Mandela or Jane Austen? They certainly both have a way with words, but Mandela’s over-the-top courage might take the day.

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Mixing and matching 100 historical figures in 50 competitive categories, from Ping-Pong to climbing Mount Everest, Who Wins? turns history into a compelling game, which means kids learn while having fun in the process. Each of the famous people is given a short bio and ranked in six categories—bravery, leadership, artistry, wealth, wisdom, and fitness.

And because there are no right answers, the reader decides, and in the very act of deciding and justifying the answer, real learning has taken place.”

What I Thought- This was a really neat nonfiction book! There are three columns of flip-able papers, with the outer two being the historical figures, and the middle one being the event they are competing in. Kids will love flipping through the pages and matching up the real-life figures. Here is a picture of the book I have –

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I like that there is a short biographical paragraph for each figure, along with fun facts. Swartz notes that the categories (such as wealth, leadership and intelligence) that each historical figure is ranked on a scale of 1-10 are his take on the people he chose to put in the book. He points out that the reader can feel free to argue about his rankings and they are meant as a reference point. I definitely found some that I would argue on – Abraham Lincoln only getting a 6 for intelligence – Sacagawea only gets an 8 for leadership – seriously? Seeing as how the rankings are meant for fun I won’t file a formal complaint. ;)  I think that I disagree with some of the rankings makes the point of the book – it gets a person thinking about who these people were and brings them to life. Each informational section on the historical figures is meant to give a brief overview of the person. While I found some prime information a bit glossed over in some instances (Josephine Baker being a spy for the French revolution), the majority of the bio’s were enough to give the reader an understanding on who the people are. I found quite a few people I have never heard of and found it enjoyable to learn about them.  Booth’s illustrations gave the book an extra kick. They really make the people come to life, giving a glimpse of the personality of these people.  The “Who Wins” game itself was fun and as I said before it really makes the reader think about who these people are. I love the uniqueness of this book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms! fivebooks

Review! Herobrine’s Message by Sean Fay Wolfe

30 Jul

minecraft3Herobrine’s Message

Series: The Elementia Chronicles (see reviews for #1, #2)

By Sean Fay Wolfe

784 pages – ages 8+

Published by HarperCollins on January 26, 2016

Synopsis- President Stan is still missing, Councilman Charlie and Commander Crunch are still captured, and the war between the Republic of Elementia and the Noctem Alliance is not looking bright for the Republic. Add into the fact that they do not know the extent of the mysterious evil Lord Tenebris’ powers, and that there is an even more mysterious unknown player that nobody has ever seen before. The war is reaching the final battle, but the scales could tip either way.

What I Thought- This is a thrilling conclusion to the Elementia Chronicles. I loved the first two books, which honestly really surprised me – I don’t really like Minecraft.  I think that that goes to show that the series is not just for the Minecraft player. Wolfe’s story telling is excellent. The book is well written – there is the right amount of detail, and you really begin to care for the characters. Wolfe is a master at tying up loose plot ends that occurred during the trilogy. I really enjoyed the conclusion of the series. I often get disappointed in the last book of a series but Wolfe keeps up the same level of writing throughout the series. As a reader I can see this, and I appreciate that effort. I will be looking for more novels from Wolfe!

I give this book five out of five bookworms! fivebooks

Double Review! Animal Bites from Animal Planet by Laaren Brown

26 Jul

wildanimalsWild Animals
Series: Animal Bites
Written by Laaren Brown
Photography from Various Artists
80 pages – ages 6+
Published by Animal Planet on June 21, 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis- “With more than 200 gorgeous animal photos of lions, giraffes, ibexes, flamingos, hippopotamuses, and many others, Animal Planet Wild Animals is a fun, habitat-by-habitat guide that provides kids in the first years of schooling with the perfect bite-sized view of their favorite wild animals. Arranged thematically with focus on animal behavior and family relationships, young readers will explore sections about animal bodies, baby animals, food, play time, conservation and more. Special book features designed for this age group include Quick Bites sidebars with cool animal facts, simple infographics, and illustrated maps of life in the African savannah and Amazon rain forest.”

 

farmanimalsFarm Animals
Series: Animal Bites
Written by Laaren Brown
Photography from Various Artists
80 pages – ages 6+
Published by Animal Planet on June 21, 2016

Publisher’s Synopsis- “With more than 200 gorgeous animal photos of cows, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, llamas, and many others, Animal Planet Farm Animals is a fun, habitat-by-habitat guide that provides kids in the first years of schooling with the perfect bite-sized view of their favorite farm animals. Arranged thematically with focus on animal behavior and family relationships, young readers will explore sections about animal bodies, baby animals, food, play time, conservation and more. Special book features designed for this age group include Quick Bites sidebars with cool animal facts, simple infographics, and illustrated maps of life in on the farm and at the petting zoo.”

What I Thought about these books- This was a nice look into basic farm animals that kids know and love and wild animals that some kids may never have heard of. The books are organized very well, and are eye-pleasing. Kids will love looking at the fact boxes and realizing that baby ostriches are as big as chickens when hatched and that a Valais Blacknose Sheep is about as tall as a skateboard. It includes ways that kids are similar to the animals, and things you can do to help the animals. The photos are big, bright, and capture the spirit of the animals! The author has a way of writing nonfiction while still making it interesting to kids, keeping them reading. I recommend these books to kids that want to know about these types of animals, and to classrooms to open a unit.

I give these books five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Swatch by Julia Denos

23 Jul

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 visually stunning.

swatchSwatch; The Girl Who Loved Color
By Julia Denos
40 pages – ages 5+

Published by Balzer + Bray on March 15, 2016

Theme/Topic- Art/Creativity

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “In a place where colors ran wild, there lived a girl who was wilder still.

Her name was Swatch, and she was a color tamer.”

Publisher’s Synopsis: “In a place where color ran wild, there lived a girl who was wilder still. Her name was Swatch, and color was her passion. From brave green to in-between gray to rumble-tumble pink . . . Swatch wanted to collect them all. But colors don’t always like to be tamed. . . “

What I Thought- The art in this book is phenomenal! It really does seem as if the colors are alive! It is a very unique idea, and I think one that has several subtle, underlying messages as well, such as it not being right to cage wild animals. Ms. Denos has a great writing style, reminding me of a fairytale. I enjoyed this book very much, and hope to read more by Ms. Denos!

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Activities and Resources- Funathomewithkids.com has a great activity on ways to finger paint with children HERE. I think the activity will go great with the book!

For a full preview of the book, visit the HarperCollins website HERE.

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

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 –

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For a full preview visit the HarperCollins website HERE

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Thief’s Apprentice by Bryan Methods

19 Jul

theifapprenticeMaster Diplexito and Mr. Scant: The Thief’s Apprentice

By Bryan Methods

272 pages – ages 9+

Will be published by Carolrhoda Books on October 1, 2016

Synopsis- The Ruminating Claw. A name with no face behind it. The greatest thief London – perhaps all of England, even – has ever know. The butler at Oliver Diplexito’s house. Of course, Oliver Diplexito (and his family) didn’t know this at the time. That is, Oliver didn’t know until the Claw was in their gallery battling a man with a sword. The Claw, AKA Mr. Scant, soon figures out that Oliver knows, and through some chain of events, Oliver gets caught up in the Claw’s thieving schemes. That is, if the Claw was the actual thief. It appears as if an elitist society has been trying to steal the priceless artifacts, which the Ruminating Claw steals back, and returns. An honorable ploy, yes, but one that doesn’t leave one with no enemies…

What I Thought- This was an awesome book! It is set in the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, and has a fair amount of steampunk mixed in – most of the world is average, but the claw that Mr. Scant wears is very steampunky, along with a few other details. I like that sort of mix. The plot is very thrilling, and keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting more. The small details really make the book, as you can really imagine as if this took place yesterday, or 100 years ago, which creates a timeless sort of feel. I really enjoyed this debut from Mr. Methods, and wish to read more of the series (of course, when they come out!)

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.

ParrotFish

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.

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

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

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

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Then it was time to fill the dumplings.

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

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Next we cooked the dumplings!

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YUM!!!

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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!

Review! Slinky Steps Out by Meg Welch Dendler

12 Jul

slinkySlinky Steps Out
Series: Cats in the Mirror #4 (#1, #2, #3, Companion Book #1)
By Meg Welch Dendler
122 pages – ages 8+
Published by Serenity Mountain Publishing on March 22, 2016

Summary- In our world, all is not what it seems, especially when it comes to kitties! Did you know cats are actually space aliens living among us? Some realize their origin, while others just want ears scratched and tuna treats. Little do we humans realize there is a kitty command ship orbiting Earth watching some of the inhabitants…

Every family that has cats has always, at least once, had that one cat who would hide under the bed, and only come out for one person. Slinky is that type of cat. She is also one of those cats that know they are aliens. When her owner is leaving home for college, and decides to bring Slinky to the apartment that she’s renting. This will be a perfect opportunity to learn about this style of human living! That is, until a repairman comes while Slinky’s owner is away at school, and accidentally leaves the door open. Slinky gets scared and bolts outside… and it’s up to Kimba and the space cats to find and rescue her!

What I like about it- This was a good book. The book has a good deal of suspense and thrill. The writing is spot on for Dendler’s audience. I liked that it kept you reading and wondering what was going to happen next. The characters were believable, perhaps because the book is roughly based on real-life events in the author’s life (minus the alien cats… or not?). I think kids will like the books because they have probably noticed that cats act weird, and this book tells them why!😉 I found that in this story, the plot was a lot simpler than her other books and although I enjoyed the writing and action, I felt it needed a little more “meat” to the plot. Kids will also probably like looking at the real photos in the book of the cats in the book. Overall – a nice addition to this series! I really like the series and cannot wait to read more from Ms. Dendler!

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

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