Tag Archives: book review

Review! Cheesus Was Here by J.C. Davis

22 May

Cheesus Was Here
By J.C. Davis
272 pages – ages 13+
Published by Sky Pony Press on April 11, 2017

Synopsis– Delaney Delgado isn’t the biggest fan of God. After all, if there was a God, why would he have let her sister die? It’s just easier to think that He doesn’t exist then to think he has a vendetta against her family. When she buys a piece of cheese-a Babybel cheese wheel!-appears at a convenience store, she thinks nothing of it. Until the Baby Jesus is revealed underneath the wrapping. Suddenly her town is full of “miracles” and hopeful tourists. Delaney is sure the miracles are fake, even as more and more keep appearing. Enlisting her best friend, she sets out to prove them wrong. But can she handle the truth?

What I Thought- This was a really good book – I like how Davis has made it so it isn’t really in favor of or against religion – just a town that is receiving “miracles” and a girl trying to disprove it with a friend that hopes to prove it. The book is rather true to teenage life. The dialogue is spot on even with a bit of cuss words but it isn’t overly done. Davis has created a small town that is full of mostly religious citizens and adds the contrast of a character that has given up on God. I was drawn to the quirky story line with the deeper human story behind it. Davis balances heartbreak wonderfully with humor to make the story incredibly emotionally full. The opposing views of the townspeople and Delaney leads for an interesting read. I had an interesting time with this book. When first cracking it open, I thought I was going to love it, but was immediately put off by the atheistic main character. After delving into the book further I found that Delaney’s perspective allowed me to look introspectively at my own beliefs. I grew to appreciate the story more than if I had never disliked the character initially. Weird, I know; but true. This was a very good book, thought provoking book. I would like to read more from Davis in the future.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

My May 2017 Upper Bucks Free Press Article is out! Illustrating with the Papps

1 May

I write for the UBFP Newspaper!

 

I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press (the newspaper I write for) for the May 2017 issue! The online version was published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE (see page 17).

Hope you enjoy it!

 

Illustrating with the Papps

 

by Erik Weibel

Robert and Lisa Papp are a husband-and-wife artistic duo! They work as professional book illustrators, but also tend to work on anything that involves painting. Lisa Papp has illustrated several picture books, and written a few as well. “Madeline Finn and the Library Dog”–a book she wrote and illustrated–has been nominated for several awards, including being a 2017 finalist for the Children’s Choice Book Award. Robert Papp always liked drawing, and his love of art flows through into his work. He creates art “for almost everything. And for anyone that needs his services.” He has drawn for cookbooks, advertisements, board games, and his art will even be featured on postage stamps in 2018.  I had the wonderful opportunity to interview these Bucks County artists.

When did the two of you realize that you both wanted to be professional illustrators?

Lisa: Even though Rob and I attended the same art school, we had different paths into illustration. As Rob will tell you, he was enamored with illustration in school. I was in love with fine art, and had no real interest in illustration. If you had told me then that I would be an illustrator, I would have thought you crazy. I adored fine art. I loved painting what I wanted, the way I wanted. And though I had deadlines…art shows to create work for, there was a great sense of freedom. Though Rob was focused on illustration, he also enjoyed fine art. We would paint all week preparing for shows on the weekend. When Saturday morning came, we would pack his Mercury Capri with our homemade art stands and all the framed art we had created that week and spend the afternoon at a beautiful park selling our work. Usually we did pretty well. This was the early 90’s, Rob and I were fresh out of school and it was a good time for fine art. People appreciated original paintings and were willing to buy them. It was great and I assumed that’s what I would be doing forever. But everything changes, and you have to change with it. When fine art took a hit, we had to shift.

 

So my path to illustration was a slow and winding one. When I got my first picture book, “Rudolph Shines Again”, I found a whole new joy in illustration. And today, writing my own stories, which I then get to illustrate, is everything I could dream of.

 

Rob:  I always drew. Ever since I was little. I drew Superman and Batman. Cartoon characters, Snoopy, and always drew pictures to accompany my book reports in school.  So it was no surprise that I wanted to be an “artist”, even though I didn’t know exactly what that meant.

 

In art school, that changed when I discovered exactly what an “illustrator” was.  I learned that someone actually hires you and pays you for your art. No longer did I have to create a piece of art first and then HOPE someone will buy it. 

The two of you paint in very different styles. Do you think that being involved in each other’s work has helped you grow as an artist?

Lisa: Yes, definitely. Just when I think I’ve created something impressive, I will see a piece that Rob is working on and think, “oh, I guess I’ve got to try a little harder.” It’s wonderful that we can give each other a fresh eye, and help when one of us is struggling with a piece. I feel very lucky indeed.

Rob:  In general, being around art is always inspiring, but having someone that inspires me IN THE SAME HOUSE is really neat. It takes a lot of pressure off knowing that when I have a question, the answer can be as close as the next room over. So many times when you are completely involved in a piece, you can be blinded as to what it needs. Lisa always has a great eye for what needs to be done when I can’t see it. I don’t think my art would be as good without Lisa’s help.  

 

Other than your own or each other – who’s art work do you admire and why?

Lisa: I am a big fan of Lisbeth Zwerger, an Austrian illustrator. She has a fantastic imagination and the skills to back it up! Her watercolors are pure magic. Never overworked, and I love her color palettes as well. She’s just one of those people you describe as, “born to be an artist.” I love her whimsy, and I admire her incredible skill. It’s so inspiring to page through her work, I’m always left in awe.

 

Rob: When I stated out being an illustrator for paperback books, I learned from, and was inspired by the golden age of paperback illustrators. Not many people would know their names, but they would have been exposed to their amazing art. James Bama and Robert McGinnis produced 1000’s of covers in the 1970’s and eventually became equally amazing fine artists.  Peter Caras was my illustration instructor and not only an incredible artist, but as a teacher, I can credit him directly for teaching me how to be an illustrator.

 

Of course living here in Pennsylvania, I cannot neglect the brilliance of N.C. and Andrew Wyeth.

 

Ms. Papp, when did you decide to write a book, in addition to illustrating?

Lisa: I think I like writing more than I do illustrating. At least, it comes a bit easier to me. I have always written, though I never read books growing up. Writing seems second nature to me. As I began to illustrate other people’s stories, I realized I had my own stories I wanted to tell. Picture books seemed like a good place to start.

To learn more go to  Lisapapp.com and Robertpapp.com. For more on books and reading, visit my blog at ThisKidReviewsBooks.com

 

Blog Tour! Posted by John David Anderson

30 Apr

I have ANOTHER great book to tell you about today!

From John David Anderson, author of the acclaimed Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, comes a humorous, poignant, and original contemporary story about bullying, broken friendships, and the failures of communication between kids. In middle school, words aren’t just words. They can be weapons. They can be gifts. The right words can win you friends or make you enemies. They can come back to haunt you. Sometimes they can change things forever.

Posted
By John David Anderson
384 pages – ages 9+
Will Be Published by Walden Pond Press May 2, 2017 (Tuesday!)

Synopsis From Publisher- When cell phones are banned at Branton Middle School, Frost and his friends Deedee, Wolf, and Bench come up with a new way to communicate: leaving sticky notes for each other all around the school. It catches on, and soon all the kids in school are leaving notes—though for every kind and friendly one, there is a cutting and cruel one as well.
In the middle of this, a new girl named Rose arrives at school and sits at Frost’s lunch table. Rose is not like anyone else at Branton Middle School, and it’s clear that the close circle of friends Frost has made for himself won’t easily hold another. As the sticky-note war escalates, and the pressure to choose sides mounts, Frost soon realizes that after this year, nothing will ever be the same.

What I Thought- John David Anderson really knows how to hook your attention. He also knows how to capture the facets of teenagers in middle school and spin them into wonderful characters. The plot makes for a compelling story. The book is full of realistic bits and pieces of life that is so true you don’t even stop to think about it – it flows so easily. Anderson has a way of writing backstory in a reasonable and comprehensive way. The characters are so realistic, and I could relate to several of them. It was neat seeing how the presence of another person can alter the unspoken “system” of a group of people. Anderson is a master at making things believable, and I enjoy reading his work. It was a pleasant surprise to see that he is equally able to write realistic fiction as well as superhero and fantasy books. I cannot wait to see what else Anderson comes up with!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

CRITICAL PRAISE
“Written with understated humor and fine-tuned perception, Frost’s first-person narrative offers a riveting story as well as an uncomfortably realistic picture of middle school social dynamics.” — Booklist (starred review)
“Anderson dives into the world of middle school with a clear sense of how it works and what it needs. Kids, and the rest of the world, need more books like this one.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Anderson captures the tumultuous joys and pains of middle school with honesty, creating characters with whom readers will find common ground and insight. Words have lingering and persistent power, Anderson makes clear, but so does standing up for others and making one’s voice heard.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Acute observations about social media and school life and a smart, engaging narrator make this a journey well worth taking. Readers might even want some Post-it notes to mark the good parts.” — The Horn Book

 

WHO IS THIS JOHN DAVID ANDERSON?!?!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
John David Anderson is the author of Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, Sidekicked, Minion, and The Dungeoneers. A dedicated root beer connoisseur and chocolate fiend, he lives with his wife, two kids, and perpetually whiny cat in Indianapolis, Indiana. You can visit him online at www.johndavidanderson.org

Check out the other dates on this tour!

April 17 Librarian’s Quest
Walden Media Tumblr
April 18 Nerdy Book Club
April 19 For Those About to Mock
April 20 Teach Mentor Texts
April 21 Unleashing Readers
April 22 Next Best Book
April 23 Bluestocking Thinking
April 24 Litcoach Lou
Book Monsters
April 25 Kirsti Call
April 26 Educate-Empower-Inspire-Teach
April 27 The Haunting of Orchid Forsythia
Ms Yingling Reads
April 28 Maria’s Melange
Novel Novice
April 29 The Hiding Spot
April 30 This Kid Reviews Books

Review! Double Cross: Deception Techniques in War by Paul B. Janeczko

26 Apr

Double Cross: Deception Techniques in War
by Paul B. Janeczko
256 pages – ages 9+
Published by Candlewick Press on April 25th, 2017 (TODAY!)

Synopsis From Publisher- “The biblical account of Gideon. The ancient story of the Trojan horse. Deceptive techniques have been used in war through the ages. But while the principles have changed very little, the technology behind fooling the enemy has evolved dramatically. Paul B. Janeczko’s fascinating chronology focuses on the American Civil War, World Wars I and II, and the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf Wars to reveal evolving attitudes toward the use and effectiveness of deceptive operations. Find out the secret plan behind the invasion of Normandy and the details of General Schwarzkopf’s “Hail Mary play” during the Gulf War, among many other strategies and maneuvers designed to pull the wool over enemies’ eyes. Back matter includes source notes, a bibliography, and an index.”

What I Thought- This is a fabulous nonfiction book. Janeczko analyzes major techniques of deception throughout history, featuring medieval strategies and deceptions all the way up to the Gulf War. I learned a lot about military strategy, and the different types of deception. It was fascinating to learn about the deceptions pulled off during WWII, because those were some grand-scale deceptions! This was a very informative nonfiction novel, with real pictures and maps, and more information in the back as well. It is neat how the book takes in depth looks at major strategies, but still keeps the reading level and content for younger kids. He will spend a chapter or two on a war and major deceptions within them, making sure to explain the topics well. There are also pages of extra information scattered throughout the book that explains miscellaneous ideas about deception. Janeczko really knows how to make nonfiction intriguing, and I cannot wait to read more of his work!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! Motley Education by SA Larsen

28 Mar

Motley Education
By SA Larsen
Ages 8+
Published by Leap Books, LLC on September 15, 2016

Synopsis- Ebony Charmed is a student at Motley Junior High in Peru, Maine, and she learns how to be a medium. It’s just that she isn’t that great at speaking to ghosts. So why is it that she, of all people, are suddenly in charge of saving the world? Because now she’s finding out that the Norse mythology isn’t so much myth, and that she is a descendant of some people who guard a magical bridge. Life suddenly just got more complicated. Will Ebony and her friends succeed in saving the world before all is lost?

What I Thought- Larsen has written an entertaining novel that introduces kids to the Norse myths. I like the idea of the school as well, because it’s similar to Hogwarts, without the magic per se, and also with modern assets. The book is a fun read, and I couldn’t put it down once I started. Larsen has a way of putting a lot of emotion into the story so you just get hooked into the story. The characters act like normal kids their age, and you can believe how they react to the situations that occur. At times the phrasing seemed a little too abrupt, where figurative language could’ve eased the wording a little bit, but that was a trivial thing. This is a great debut Middle Grade novel – Larsen knows how to write a story that kids will want to read! All in all, this is a really great story, and I look forward to reading the next book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Review! Cassidy Jones and the Eternal Flame by Elise Stokes

27 Mar

Cassidy Jones and the Eternal Flame
Series: Cassidy Jones #5 (#1, #2, #3, #4)
By Elise Stokes
Word Count: 122,000 – Ages 13+
Published by JACE March 5, 2017

Synopsis- Cassidy Jones is back, and she’s got revenge on her mind. Lily White, the insane woman with indestructible metal molded to her skin, is going on a rampage: robbing banks, killing innocent people, and holding a family hostage. Why? Because she wants something called the Eternal Flame. Cassidy and her friends Emery and Jared have no idea what this Eternal Flame is, but they know that Lily must never get her metal hands on it. Their only hope is to find the object before any more people get hurt. It is also up to them to get Lily under control. After all, it takes a super-heroine to stop a super-villain, you know!

What I Thought- Stokes gives us another edge-of-your-seat adventure with one of the most amazing super-heroine’s I’ve ever read about.  I can’t tell you how much I love this series. Cassidy is a great role model for anyone, as she always tries to do what is right. Ms. Stokes has done a fabulous job of creating a strong female character and fleshing out her personality as the series goes on. The supporting characters are equally intriguing and very well developed. Stoke’s villains are wonderfully frightening – especially Lily White. This book is more written for young adults, seeing as there is some PG-13 content-type referencing. Honestly, it kind of reminds me of the way the Harry Potter books got more adult as the series went on and Harry got older. This makes sense to me because the characters and readers mature as the series goes on. The violence seems a little more real, with more consequences, but again that goes with the story seeming a bit darker – but also more realistic. I really like how the series is evolving into a world with superhero-type beings. I would elaborate, but there would be some big spoilers, so I won’t. The book contains a bit of the philosophy of the line between good/evil, and I enjoyed that. I really liked this addition to the Cassidy Jones saga, and look forward to the next book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! I Love My Grandma by Giles Andreae

26 Feb

grandmaI Love My Grandma
Written by Giles Andreae
Illustrated by Emma Dodd
32 pages – ages 3+
Published by Disney-Hyperion on December 6, 2016

Synopsis- Grandmas are great. After all, they’re like moms, but with more time for you! You can do a lot of things with your grandma, and she will be there for you to teach you about things, and to play with you too! You love your grandma, and she loves you!

What I Thought- This is a really cute book celebrating the relationship between a grandmother and her grandchild. I really like how Andreae kept the book simple, with rhyme that is great for family to read together. The book itself is large, which also lends itself to being a read-aloud book. Dodd’s illustrations are a perfect match with the artwork spilling over the two-page inside spread.

The illustrations add to the warmth of the story. It’s nice that the grandma and child are pictured doing a wide variety of things from baking to playing pirates. This would be a nice Mother’s day gift for a grandmother. This is a part of a series involving the child with titles such as “I Love My Mommy”, “I Love My Daddy”, etc.

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

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

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.

paper3

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.

vincent2

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!

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