Tag Archives: bibliophile

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!

Creative Kid Thursday! Tanner Walling

19 Jan

Hi everyone! Today on Creative Kid Thursday, I am spotlighting kid author Tanner Walling, author of Fury of the Storm.

Tanner was nice enough to write a guest post, so I’m going to stop talking/typing and hand the mic/blog-space over to Tanner. Take it away, Tanner!

Hey everyone! My name is Tanner Walling and I am a teen author and science writer. Erik asked me to do a guest post about myself, my books, and what I want to do in the future and I gladly accepted. So, here’s the post!

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Here’s a little about myself. Outside of writing, publishing, and that kind of stuff, I maintain my science website, Science All Around, where I create articles and videos explaining science in an easy-to- understand way, since most science websites don’t do that. I’ve been writing for Science All Around for over three years. I also row for my school’s crew team, am a member of my school’s Model UN team, and enjoy traveling with my family.

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Now, to the meat of the post: BOOKS! I write action adventure novels for middle-school (ages 10-14) and young adult readers. The general theme in my books is action adventure that often has a survival element to it. Think Roland Smith and Gary Paulsen with a bit of James Dashner thrown in the mix. My books are also very-action packed, which my readers seem to really enjoy. The current series I’m writing is my Fury of the Storm series, which is a disaster survival series featuring Isaac Tohver, a fourteen year old who, in each book, fights to survive the largest disasters nature can throw at him. Here’s the description of the first book in the series, Fury of the Storm:

A Category 6 hurricane of massive proportions.
One private jet carrying two teens and their pilot.
They weather the plane crash.
But now they must survive.

After Isaac’s plane is torn to shreds in a grisly crash that he’ll never forget, he’s faced with the disastrous realization that his plane has crashed over a mile from the shore and the only link from them to the mainland is a string of small islands so small the waves threaten to spill over and drown them beneath their dark crests.

Faced with either death or attempting to make it to the mainland, they set off on a grueling journey to make it to the mainland and be rescued in the largest and most furious hurricane the world has ever seen.

Fury of the Storm was the first book I ever wrote. I started it back when I was eleven, but really didn’t write it until I was twelve. Then, it went through editing and was published about a year later, in February 2016. The second book, tentatively titled Foreshock, is being edited, the third book is currently being written, and the fourth book is in the planning stages. For the future outside of writing, I plan to go into a science or technology field for a career.

If you have questions about writing, publishing, or anything like that, I’d be glad to answer them. You can find me online through the links below. Thanks to all of you for reading! I especially want to thank Erik for offering me the guest post!

Thank you Tanner for stopping by and writing this post!

Check out Tanner’s links below!

Website: http://tannerwalling.weebly.com
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tanner-Walling/e/B0136W8STI
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tannerwauthor
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tannerwauthor/

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!

Review! The Warden’s Daughter by Jerry Spinelli

3 Jan

wardensdaughterThe Warden’s Daughter
By Jerry Spinelli
352 pages – ages 9+
Will be published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on January 3rd, 2017

Synopsis- Cammie O’Reilly is in prison. But not serving a crime. You see, her father is the warden of the jail, and she lives in an apartment above it. It’s a good life, though. The one thing that she really doesn’t have is a mother. Yeah, her dad is a good father, but he just doesn’t have that motherly vibe. So that’s why Cammie decides to make Eloda, one of the trustees (prisoners with privileges) in charge of housekeeping, her mother. Cammie sets about trying to win her over. Except that Eloda wants nothing to do with her. After all, inmates should keep their distance from the warden’s daughter. But Cammie can be very persistent. It’s going to be an interesting summer.

What I Thought This was a really neat historical fiction novel. It’s set in 1959, with an introduction and epilogue set in 2017 from Cammie’s point-of-view. Mr. Spinelli has a way of writing that makes it seem like a close friend telling a story, with a whole lot of little details that remind you of life in its fullest. Things like getting how people would act in a situation to a point where the reader thinks, even sometimes reluctantly, “Yeah, I’d do that.” I think it’s really cool that in Mr. Spinelli’s Acknowledgements he points out that he actually knows a lady who was an actual warden’s daughter, and that gave Mr. Spinelli the idea to write this book. Cammie is a great character that you really route for as she is figuring out her problems and coming to terms with her mom’s death. The characters and relationships between them are fully developed.The reader really gets to know them. I especially liked the unusual prison setting and the twist that a warden’s daughter was seeking something she needed on an emotional level from an inmate. It’s a great hook for the story. Mr. Spinelli breathed life into both Cammie and Eloda and made the readers care for them. This is a really beautiful coming-of-age story.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

14 Year Old Erik This Kid Reviews Books Will No Longer Be Reviewing Books

24 Dec

Yes, you read that right. 14-year old Erik will no longer be reviewing books.

Why?

Because today I am fifteen!

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What better way to celebrate than with a review of a REALLY great book I recently picked up at the Lititz Kid Lit Festival in Lititz PA. If you’ve never been, you should check it out (it’s held every fall) – click HERE for details.

The festival is organized by a great family owned bookstore – Aaron’s books – visit their website HERE

I interviewed the author of AbrakaPOW, Isaiah Campbell for Scholastic News at the festival. We talked about the challenges of writing books for middle grade readers.

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To read that interview, click HERE to go to the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps site.

Now on to the review!

abrakapowAbrakaPOW
Written by Isaiah Campbell
Illustrated by Dave Perillo
400 pages – ages 8+
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 8, 2016

Synopsis- It’s WWII and Max’s father is in charge of a Prisoner-Of-War camp in Texas that is harboring several Nazis. Max doesn’t like living there, having just moved from Brooklyn and dealing with culture shock, but when her father asks her if she wants to put on a magic show for the prisoners, she is thrilled. Until the prisoners escape during her show. That kind of puts a damper on excitement. The escaped Nazis plan on making it across the border into Mexico and catching a ride back to Germany, and Max and her friends are the only ones able to stop them. Will they get the prisoners back before they get away for good?

What I Thought- I really like this historical fiction novel – taking an actual event that happened near the end of World War II, and reasoning that the only way it possibly could have happened was with the help of magic. They say truth is stranger than fiction and knowing that there were actually Nazi prisoners of war in Texas during WWII is a part of history I knew nothing about! It is a rather neat story – even though the real-life facts are almost unbelievable – and the characters are portrayed in convincing ways. Because of the time period, there is some prejudice (slight sexism at time, where the boys in the group of friends would insist on doing something, with the girls groaning about the boys acting like that; along with some racial prejudice, such as a Japanese boy being teased for how he speaks, along with the fact that Max and her family are Jewish). These details speak to the truth of what was going on at the time but in a kid-friendly way. There are illustrated diagrams of how to do magic tricks at the end of some of the chapters, mostly of magic tricks mentioned in the book. I really enjoyed reading the book, and I couldn’t put it down!

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.

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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.

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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 –

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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.

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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!

Review! Snow Fright by Amie and Bethanie Borst

15 Dec

snowfrightSnow Fright
Series: Scarily Ever Laughter #3 (#1, #2)
Written by Amie & Bethanie Borst
325 pages – ages 9+
Published by Jolly Fish Press on October 4, 2016

Synopsis- Sarah White knows she’s gorgeous. And she won’t let you forget it either. So you can imagine what it’s like when she gets teleported into the Underworld, finds out she has worms in her brain, and ends up turning into a zombie. So uncool. Eventually she gets out, but by then, her friends have gone down to rescue her, and they get captured by a horrible evil. Will Sarah, in all her undeadness, be able to rescue them? And what’s with her sudden craving for brains?

What I Thought- The Scarily ever After series is an interesting concept. It’s not that scary, really. It has monsters as characters, but it’s more a mesh of monster/human worlds. It provides an interesting twist. The stories are also takes on fairy tale characters – the typical princess characters take on a monster persona. It isn’t really a horror story, just a little bit of creepy. They are more about the adventure and friendship. The Snow Fright story is a thrilling conclusion to this very enjoyable series.  The Borsts are a good writing team, and their writing style is well-developed, and shows great collaboration between mother and daughter. The characters and their actions are believable, acting how normal tweens would act in such situations (even though they are monsters). I like how Sarah reflects the vanity of many teens (boys and girls) and also the turmoil teens go through. It’s a nice modern fractured fairy tale, with a pinch (okay, a scoop) of undead.

I give this book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

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!

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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!

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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!

Bookish Holiday Gift Picks – Part one!

12 Dec

Hello Blogosphere!

Well, it’s that time again! The snow is falling on my blog and people are wondering what gift to get that book-loving kids in their life. Well, I am here to help!

I have some great gift suggestions for you!

First up – THE 2017 GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS!

guinness2017

By Guinness World Records

With an introduction by Chris Hadfield and forward by Buzz Aldrin

256 pages – ages 7 – 12
Series: Guinness World Records
Published by Guinness World Records on August 30, 2016

Publisher’s synopsis: The ultimate annual book of records is back and crammed with more than ever before! Guinness World Records 2017 is bursting with all-new records on topics as diverse as black holes, domes, owls, and killer plants. Want to know the highest anyone has travelled on a skateboard, or the largest loop-the-loop completed in a car? Dying to know just how many tricks a cat can do in one minute? The answers to these questions and so much more are right inside.

New in this year’s edition are exciting infographic features exploring the fascinating details on topics such as animals, the human body, sports, and explorations. And of course all your favorite record categories are updated for 2017, such as the world’s new tallest dog! And as ever, our team of world-class photographers have traveled the globe to capture amazing images of the year’s most impressive record holders. Let us know your favorite!

WHAT I THOUGHT: The Guinness Book of World Records has been on my Christmas wish-list for as long as I can remember. Each year I look forward to cracking open the giant book and spending hours reading about cool, unusual and sometimes mind-blowing records. I help out out Toys for Tots each year and kids have this book on their wish-lists so I know lots of kids look forward to this!

The Guinness Book of World Records is an excellent way to get kids reading non-fiction without them realizing they are doing it! I love the layout of the books – lots of pictures and fact boxes. The book is perfect for reluctant readers and kids who can’t get enough of facts!

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This year’s book is packed with cool records. I really enjoyed the extra content by astronauts Chris Hadfield and Buzz Aldrin.  With America’s push to go to Mars, this material is especially interesting to me at this time. The book is indexed very well and organized so you can browse for specific records or just enjoy going page by page. They colorful pictures tat are splashed across the pages make it even more enjoyable. You can’t go wrong with this book!

Next up – PETE THE CAT!

petedraw

Pete the Cat: My First I Can Draw

Written and Illustrated by James Dean

160 pages – ages 4-8
Series: Pete the Cat
Published by HarperFestival on October 4, 2016

Publisher’s synopsis: For the first time, New York Times bestselling author and artist James Dean brings us a fun drawing guide for young artists to enjoy.

Kids will enjoy following the easy step-by-step diagrams to re-create Pete and their favorite stories. The diagrams become appropriately a little more challenging as the pages go on. This 160-page activity book is packed with everything from the world of Pete the Cat that aspiring artists will want to draw, from Pete, his rockin’ band of friends, dinosaurs, trains, surfboards, and even Pete’s famous shoes!

With this fun paperback activity book, young fans and budding artists will master how to draw the grooviest cat around!

WHAT I THOUGHT: What could be more groovy than a Pete the Cat story? A book in which James Dean, Pete the Cat’s author/illustrator, teaches kids how to draw Pete and his friends! The colorful book teaches kids step-by-step how to draw Pete, his friends and different objects like truck, trees and flowers. The book is easy to use and kids will be drawing in no time! The drawings are very simple lines young kids can follow. The pages have graph-paper grids on them to help in drawing. There are also scene pages so kids can draw different scenes and make up a story. Kids will love to draw along with Pete!

Next up – BATHROOM SCIENCE!

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Bathroom Science: 70 Fun and Wacky Science Experiments
by Christine Taylor-Butler

144 pages – ages 8+
Published by Portable Press on September 13, 2016

Publisher’s synopsis: Create exploding toilet volcanoes, oozing sink slime, and bubbling bathtub cauldrons…all in the name of science! Each step-by-step experiment uses household and other easy-to-find materials so the young scientist’s lab can be equipped quickly, inexpensively, and—for those who might worry—safely. Bathroom Science highlights the materials, the method, and the scientific “why” behind every experiment. It’s spiral bound to stay open while young scientists-in-training measure and mix. And, best of all, Bathroom Science makes science as simple (and occasionally explosive) as going to the bathroom.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I know what you are thinking, “Erik why would you encourage my children to explode our toilet?”

BECAUSE IT’S SCIENCE! Mwah ha ha ha haaaa!

Despite the name the experiments outlined in the book do not have to be done in a bathroom. Early on in the book it is explained that the bathroom is a good place to do the experiments because you can make the room hot or cold by running the shower – there’s water near by (for experiments and cleaning up) and the bathtub is a great place for doing messy things.

I like the experiments because they use things that you have laying around the house so they can be done inexpensively. The experiments I tried out worked really well (I tried glowing goo, bathroom tornado, zero-g H2O, and “Now Watch This Clip”). The directions are clearly written out:

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There are plenty of experiments kids can do on their own but the book tell kids when to ask for help from parents. There are diagrams to help understand directions. The book will provide hours of fun!

Next up – NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SCIENCE!

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Science Encyclopedia: Atom Smashing, Food Chemistry, Animals, Space, and More!
by National Geographic Kids

304 pages – ages 8+
Published by National Geographic Children’s Books on October 11, 2016

Publisher’s synopsis: Food chemistry, atom crashing, wave power, food chemistry, and robots! These are just a few of the topics covered in this fantastic new science encyclopedia, which presents a comprehensive overview of physical and life sciences from A to Z. Super smart and kid-friendly, it’s packed with full-color photographs, weird but true facts, amazing statistics, do-it-yourself experiments, plus profiles of scientists and National Geographic’s explorers who rock the world of science. Keep up with the changes happening all around us with this stellar science reference book.

WHAT I THOUGHT: THIS BOOK IS AWESOME! First the book is as large as all the stuff packed into it. The book itself measures about 9.5 by 12 inches so it is impressive when you hold it. The inside is packed with science! It gives an easy to understand description of  matter, energy, the universe, electronics, the human body and much more. It not only gives a basic understanding of these topics but then also dives further into each subject to give a better understanding. The book uses real-life situations to teach – like car tires to teach about friction. The pages are laid out with bright colorful pictures and fact boxes.

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I really like that there are time line pages – to give kids an idea about the history of the science topic being talked about. There are some experiments suggested throughout the book in “Try This” boxes. The back matter includes a handy glossary, suggested websites for additional information and an easy to use index.

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