Tag Archives: bookworm

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

The Worst Book I’ve Ever Read

1 Apr

Dear  reader – you’ve come to know that I like to talk about books I really enjoy. In fact, if I don’t like a book, I privately tell the author that it wasn’t for me and give him/her my review but don’t publish it. I want my blog to be about celebrating really awesome books to read.

There now has come a time when I have read a book so awful that I feel that I need to warn others not to buy it.

So why didn’t I like this book?

First off there is NO plot. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. From the title I thought it was going to be a story about being lost in the wilderness – kind of a My Side of the Mountain book, but as I started reading I was totally confused.

On the first page we meet the main character – Ariens, he’s a lumberjack. The reader is told he is dangerous and could potentially cause death. So now I am figuring it’s not a My Side of the Mountain book but more of a Goosebumps eerie – creepy tale.

Well as I read on, I learn practically nothing new about Ariens other than he needs to be stabilized -okay I get it, he’s a crazy dangerous lumberjack. Through the rest of the story, he really doesn’t do ANYTHING. I don’t even think he ever leaves his garage.

I suppose it should get points for being multilingual; it comes in French and Spanish.

I seriously had to choke down the rest of the book.

So as a service to you, kind reader; I warn you:

DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK!

APRIL FOOLS!

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Image result for april fools

Review! Isaac The Alchemist By Mary Losure

28 Feb

isaacIsaac The Alchemist: Secrets of Isaac Newton, Reveal’d
By Mary Losure
176 pages – ages 9+
Published by Candlewick on February 1, 2017

Synopsis From the Publisher- A surprising true story of Isaac Newton’s boyhood suggests an intellectual development owing as much to magic as science.

Before Isaac Newton became the father of physics, an accomplished mathematician, or a leader of the scientific revolution, he was a boy living in an apothecary’s house, observing and experimenting, recording his observations of the world in a tiny notebook. As a young genius living in a time before science as we know it existed, Isaac studied the few books he could get his hands on, built handmade machines, and experimented with alchemy—a process of chemical reactions that seemed, at the time, to be magical. Mary Losure’s riveting narrative nonfiction account of Isaac’s early life traces his development as a thinker from his childhood, in friendly prose that will capture the attention of today’s budding scientists—as if by magic. Back matter includes an afterword, an author’s note, source notes, a bibliography, and an index.

What I Thought- This was a neat nonfiction book. It is an in-depth look at Sir Isaac Newton’s youth and beginnings as his famous physicist/mathematician. Some of the text is challenging to read, usually being copied directly from Newton’s notebook or a book that he learned from. It makes it a great choice for young advanced readers. Losure does a good job of explaining what the text means. There are illustrations and pictures of real paintings, books, and journal entries – adding to the text. I especially enjoyed these additions. Losure has written a fascinating nonfiction novel. I like how it says that in the time “magic” was considered science, because they knew so little of the world, so Newton did magical experiments. That added a bit of flavor to the story. This is a neat biography of a time in Newton’s life that we don’t know a lot about. I really liked this book, and would recommend it to history buffs and science lovers.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Creative Kid Thursday! Guest Review by Josie: Red-Tail Recovery by Emma J Homes

16 Feb

Happy Thursday!

Today my sister Josie is reviewing a book that she really enjoyed!

What is more awesome is that you can pick up a FREE copy of the kindle book on Amazon TODAY – click HERE!

redtailRed-Tail Recovery

series: Ruthie’s wildlife (Book 3)
by Emma J Homes

55 pages – ages 6+
Published by Spark Street Communications Pty Ltd on December 14, 2016

Publishers summary: Ruthie’s wildlife scientist parents are taking on a new challenge – saving the endangered red-tailed black-cockatoo. For Ruthie this means a lot of exciting firsts: living in a house, and not a bus, starting at a ‘real’ school, and the chance to make some friends. As always, Ruthie will be helping her parents with their work, but will it be enough to make a difference for these rare and beautiful birds? And what will Ruthie and her family find themselves up against this time?

What Josie Thought: I really like this book. I liked the other book in this series I read (The Vanishing Frogs of Cascade Creek) and I want to get the first book too. Ruthie is a nice character. Her parents are scientists they travel around Australia in a bus and study wildlife and figure out how to help them. Ruthie and her brother and sister get to go too. That sounds like a pretty cool life. I like science and nature and this book teaches you about the Red-Tail Cockatoo and their habitat. There is a link in the back of the book for a website where there are people actually doing the work of saving the Red-Tail talked about in the book. This is what a Red-Tail looks like –

redtail2

The chapters in the book aren’t very long so it is a great book for kids who have trouble reading or are starting out. The story is fun to read and I like Ruthie’s smart solution to help the birds when their environment is being destroyed.

I give this book five bookwormsfivebooks

Thank you Josie!

Don’t forget to grab a FREE kindle copy of this book CLICK HERE!

To learn more about Emma J Homes, go to her website – click HERE

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.

mazel1

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

Next up – COZY CLASSICS – THE NUTCRACKER!

nutcracker

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

Board Book

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

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

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

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

nutcracker2

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

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

bunnyslope
Bunny Slopes Hardcover
Written and Illustrated by Claudia Rueda

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

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

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

slope2

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!

guinness20172

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!

toilet1
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:

toilet

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!

encyclo
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.

science2 science1

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.

Guest Review by Josie! Natumi Takes the Lead by Gerry Ellis

29 Nov

natumiNatumi Takes the Lead:

The True Story of an Orphan Elephant Who Finds Family

By Gerry Ellis with Amy Novesky

32 pages – ages 4+

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

Summary by Josie: The story tells about an elephant that was orphaned when hunters killed off the rest of her heard. The elephant was rescued by some nice people who run an elephant rescue. Natumi was very shy and wouldn’t come out from behind her human rescuer’s legs. Slowly Natumi got more and more confident and started to be a leader of all the orphaned elephants. It is a nice story about how an elephant can grow up to be a strong leader even after having something terrible happen to her.

What Josie thought: The beginning of the book made me very sad because all of the elephants but Natumi got killed. I wish that things like that didn’t happen. I was happy to see that there are people who care about the elephants enough to run an elephant orphanage. That is very cool. I really like that there are real pictures in the book for illustrations –

natumi2

It was interesting to read about how the elephants are cared for at the orphanage. It was also cool to see how they can recover from loosing their family and form new ones. There were some fact pages in the back of the book that showed you where to go if you want to learn more about elephants and it had some information about Africa, the orphanage and elephants. That was a nice part of the book.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Best Man by Richard Peck

15 Nov

bestmanThe Best Man

By Richard Peck

240 pages – ages 9+

Published by Dial Books on September 20, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school with one eye out in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer,; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be. Along the way he finds a fourth—Mr. McLeod, a teacher. In fact, the first male teacher in the history of the school.
But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn’t see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he’s the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story.”

What I Thought- This was an interesting and very complex story. It is interesting that the subject of gay marriage is seen from a more innocent view-type, instead of jaded – one way or the other. It is complex because it really isn’t a story about gay marriage, it is a coming of age story of a boy trying to define himself  – as all kids do as they hit puberty. It is a story about family relationships, bullies at school and dealing with siblings. I liked it that the marriage wasn’t used as a tool but rather shown as a part of life. It is a reflection of the world we live in.  There were a ton of supporting characters, all which brought an interesting angle to the story. Although there was a lot going on (in terms of characters), the story was easy to follow, as if the reader is just another character in the story.  The one thing I didn’t like really, though was just the obliviousness of Archer – that just seemed a tad unrealistic for a fifth grader. This isn’t the action/adventure story that usually has me turning pages at a furious pace. It is a heartwarming look into a family that connects the reader with the characters and one that you can get lost in.

I give this book five out of five bookworms.fivebooks

Review! The Bowl and the Stone by Bish Denham

20 Oct

bowlThe Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands

By Bish Denham

109 pages – ages 8+

Published by Bound Post Publishing on October 3, 2016

Synopsis- from the author –
It’s 1962. Sam and her best friend, Nick, have the whole island of St. John, in the U. S. Virgin Islands, as their playground. They’ve got 240 year-old sugar plantation ruins to explore, beaches to swim, and trails to hike.

But when a man disappears like a vapor right in front of them, they must confront a scary new reality. They’re being haunted. By whom? And why? He’s even creeping into Nick’s dreams.

They need help, but the one who might be able to give it is Trumps, a reclusive hunchback who doesn’t like people, especially kids. Are Sam and Nick brave enough to face him? And if they do, will he listen to them?

Their carefree summer games turn into eerie hauntings, and Sam and Nick learn more about themselves and life than they could ever have imagined.

What I Thought- This was a really good book with a solid story-line. I really love the setting and Denham’s description of the Caribbean. The story also teaches you about the culture in the Virgin Islands. The friendship between Sam and Nick (and Trumps) is a highlight of the story. It rings true to the reader and is enjoyable to read about. The story is an intriguing ghost story and mystery that is written well for Denham’s young audience.   The story is slightly scary, with the right amount of tension for a young person’s mystery. This is a good clean read.

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I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Who is Bish Denham?

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Bish Denham, whose mother’s side of the family has been in the Caribbean for over one hundred years, was raised in the U. S. Virgin Islands. She still has lots of family living there whom she visits regularly.

She says, “Growing up in the islands was like living inside a history book. Columbus named the islands, Sir Francis Drake sailed through the area, and Alexander Hamilton was raised on St. Croix. The ruins of hundreds of sugar plantations, built with the sweat and blood of slave labor, litter the islands. Then there were the pirates who plied the waters. It is within this atmosphere of wonder and mystery, that I grew up. Life for me was magical, and through my writing I hope to pass on some of that magic.”

The Bowl and the Stone: A Haunting Tale from the Virgin Islands, is her third book and second novel. You can find Anansi and Company: Retold Jamaican Tales and A Lizard’s Tail, at Amazon.com.

To learn more about Bish, you can visit her blog, Random Thoughts, at www.http:/bish-randomthoughts.blogspot.com.

She can also be found on Facebook: www.facebook.com/BishDenham/Author

Twitter @BishDenham

And Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6439315.Bish_Denham

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