Tag Archives: this kid reviews books

Review! 101 Things to Do Outside

17 Aug

101outside101 Things to Do Outside

by Susan Hayes

Illustrated by  Shahid Mahmood

Editors Fay Evans, Lydia Halliday

144 pages – ages 8-12

Published by  Walter Foster Jr, (Division of Quatro) on March 1, 2016 (Published by Weldon Owen in  Great Britain 2015)

Synopsis from Publisher- “From animal tracking and survival skills to using a compass and growing vegetables, 101 Things to Do Outside is the perfect guide for young explorers and aspiring adventurers longing for a taste of the great outdoors. Right outside your front door, there’s a world bursting with adventures just waiting to be explored. This pocket-sized book is overflowing with things to try, do, learn, and remember (plus it has a handy checklist!). Includes helpful step-by-step illustrations and plenty of activities and lessons. Actvities include: Outdoor games such as beach basketball and giant chess; Outdoor art projects such as build a hammock and making bark rubbings; Outdoor nature activities such as bug hunting and fossil hunting; Outdoor gardening activities such as planting a boot garden and creating an herb window box; Outdoor exploring activities such as cooking on a campfire and sending message with a flashlight. The fourth installment of the 101 Things series encourages children to step away from the computer screen and experience nature firsthand from their very own backyards.”

What I Thought- This is a decent guide to doing things outside. The instructions are thorough and easy to understand. I really liked the format of the book – it’s spiral bound like a notebook. Each page has a description of an activity along with illustrations to help and a list of materials.  There is also a little check box at the bottom of each activity so you can mark that you’ve done it – nice feature.


The pages are colored and have an “outdoorsy” feel about them.  The instructions also point out good times to ask an adult for help. There are games, crafts and some science based activities. Most of the activities are probably good for third graders and younger, with a few things for older kids. I took the book camping with us last week and read it. It gave us some ideas of things to do! I can see parents handing the book to kids who say “I’m bored” or using it as a way to get their kids outside more.  Overall a fun book that is a great boredom buster!

For a full preview of the book, visit the publisher’s website by clicking HERE.

I give this book four out of five bookworms!fourbooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Swatch by Julia Denos

23 Jul

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is visually stunning.

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

Published by Balzer + Bray on March 15, 2016

Theme/Topic- Art/Creativity

Genre- Fiction

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Blog Tour! Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson

8 Jun
bixbyMs. Bixby’s Last Day
By John David Anderson
320 pages – ages 8+
Will be Published by Walden Pond Press on June 21, 2016
Synopsis from Publisher- “John David Anderson, author of Sidekicked and The Dungeoneers, returns with a funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking contemporary story about three boys, one teacher, and a day none of them will ever forget.
Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard, the ones who stopped trying long ago. The ones you’ll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. Ms. Bixby is none of these. She’s the sort of teacher who makes you feel like school is somehow worthwhile. Who recognizes something in you that sometimes you don’t even see in yourself. Who you never want to disappoint. What Ms. Bixby is, is one of a kind.
Topher, Brand, and Steve know this better than anyone. And so when Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a risky plan—more of a quest, really—to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand what Ms. Bixby means to each of them—and what the three of them mean to each other.”
What I Thought- This was an interesting take for a new genre from Mr. Anderson – he normally writes in a fantasy/superhero genre, not a realistic fiction. AND… this book was pretty darn good. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, I agreed to read it because I liked Mr. Anderson’s other books. I am glad I did so. Mr. Anderson gets into the minds of the three main characters, and he makes them extremely life-like, so much that you believe that they could exist. They act like normal elementary school boys, and that made the book so much more enjoyable. The story is actually quite sad and reserved, but it also has a way of making you feel good about yourself at the same time. Mr. Anderson has written a marvelous foray into realistic fiction, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good read.
I give this five out of five bookworms!fivebooks


John David AndersonAuthor Bio:
John David Anderson is the author of many books for young readers, including Sidekicked (See my review HERE) and The Dungeoneers (See my review HERE). 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 http://www.johndavidanderson.org.





There is an excerpt that you can read from the novel HERE.

You can also see a video featuring the book HERE.

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Review! Great Americans: The Founders by Michael T. Best

6 Jun

greatamericansGreat Americans: The Founders; A Quick and Patriotic Tour Through the Lives of Those Who Changed History

Series: Great Americans Volume 1

By Michael T. Best

132 pages – ages 7+

Published by Crosswick Books on December 17, 2015

Synopsis- Have you ever wondered how our country became what it is? More specifically, who laid the foundation for our nation to rise on? There were several people who did a lot of amazing things, and it took a lot to kick start this country.

What I Thought- It was pretty cool that I didn’t know who everyone was mentioned – I knew a lot, but not all. There are real stories included in the book of real Americans who plotted the course of the country, people such as Benjamin Franklin, Abigail Adams, Robert Fulton, Daniel Boone, and others. The blurbs on each person are quick, and simply sum-up the main points of why they are so important, and also include some fun facts about the person and what they did. The book would make a good addition to classrooms talking about America right after the Revolutionary War (or in that time period, really). It’s a good nonfiction book that is organized rather well. Kids will like reading about important women from this time period in the book too. Although the information in the book makes me think of a history text book, the information is presented in a way that the reader isn’t bogged down with fact after fact. I found it a highly enjoyable read!

I give this bookfivebooks five out of five bookworms.

Review! Leaf and Echo Peak by Jo Marshall

5 Jun

leaf#4Leaf and Echo Peak
Series: Twig Stories #4 (#1, 2, 3)
Written by Jo Marshall
Illustrated by D.W. Murray
258 pages – ages 8+
Published by CreateSpace on February 20, 2016

Synopsis- Leaf and the Twigs are back! Twigs are creatures made from living wood that take care of their birth tree, and are gentle, peace-loving “people”. When their entire homeland is threatened by a force that they had never even heard of, it is a desperate dash to get all of the Twigs and animals out of the forest before Echo Peak explodes and erupts with lava. Will they all make it out in time?

What I Thought- The story was good, and kept me wanting to finish the book. The characters are all realistic, and have you cheering them on as their world erupts around them (quite literally). It’s great that there are actual animals represented in the book, with Twigs being the only “unproven” existing creature. There are really neat black-and-white drawings at the beginning of each chapter that really add another dimension to the book. This is a fun story with a unique and subtle way to teach kids about environmental issues. It is able to do so without sounding preachy. It’s important for kids to be able to learn without being pushed away, and Ms. Marshall does a great job of accomplishing this. One thing that threw me off my reading rate was editing mistakes scattered throughout the book. I didn’t see this with Marshall previous books. Errors aside, the Twig Story series is a worthwhile read for kids of any age because of the book’s fun story-lines and environmental message. The book is a nice continuation of the series, and I highly recommend this book!

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Butterflies Keep Flying by Ali Pfautz

3 Jun

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 book with a nice hidden lesson on accepting others.

butterflyButterflies Keep Flying
Written by Ali Pfautz
Illustrated by Sara Grier
44 pages – ages 5+
Published by Artistic Endeavors Press on March 29, 2016

Theme/Topic- Realizing/finding your inner strength / accepting others

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “Sometimes I imagine I’m an elephant…

…with a huge body that shakes the houses in my neighborhood as I walk to school.”

Synopsis:  Sometimes, the gentle butterfly imagines what it might be like to be other creatures–big, strong, loud animals–those without fragile wings. Those who don’t have to fly. But when she stops daydreaming and starts thinking about how her wings carry her through life’s challenges, the butterfly reminds herself of the great strength within her colorful, breakable wings.  

This tender story was inspired by the courageous spirit and tenacity of the “butterfly children,” the boys and girls battling a rare disease known as Epidermolysis Bullosa, or EB. Children with EB have skin as delicate as butterfly wings. They often have tears and blisters all over their bodies. Many live in constant pain, yet they get up each day and keep flying. In the back of BUTTERFLIES KEEP FLYING, the author lists information about EB and a nonprofit group serving EB families called debra of America. (debra.org)

What I Thought- This is a really sweet story about how sometimes being delicate can create strength you didn’t know you had. The butterfly is easily hurt and damaged, but it must fly, or else its position gets worse. The book is very symbolic, but is a great way to teach kids about what it is like to have to keep going on, similar to what those with EB must do. The illustrations are gorgeous, and full of color. The words are written in such a way that they bounce across the page, bringing the story to life.

Activities and Resources- To find out more about EB, go HERE (The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne and HERE (EBkids.org).

For ideas on how to teach others acceptance go HERE (kidsofintegrity.com) and HERE (Scholastic.com).

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

Everything Robotics by Jennifer Swanson

2 Jun

everythingrobotsEverything Robotics

By Jennifer Swanson (with Shah Selbe)

64 pages – ages 8+

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

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

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

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Art of the Possible by Edward Keenan

28 May

artpossibleThe Art of the Possible: An Everyday Guide to Politics

Written by Edward Keenan

Illustrated by Julie McLaughlin

64 pages – ages 7+

Published by Owlkids Books on September 15, 2015

Synopsis- When I say “Politician”, a certain image pops into your mind.  But a politician is so much more than an old guy in a suit. What if that word also described you? Politics is “how people get along” – in other words, politics is people going about their lives interacting with each other. If you’re curious as to what you can do, and need advice, The Art of the Possible helps you understand all that is truly politics.

What I Thought- This is a great book that sums up politics for kids to understand. It even challenges their way of thinking, as being a politician isn’t just for Senators, Representatives, and others. Everyone who interacts with others is a politician, just like anyone who plays a sport is an athlete. There are nice illustrations throughout the book to help you visualize the points that Mr. Keenan is making. The book is inspirational, providing examples of real-life politicians who are actually everyday people. It is also informative, telling of how governments are run. All in all, this is a good read and would be a great classroom and home companion book when trying to explain politics to children!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Bob The Artist by Marion Deuchars

27 May

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 unique take on the traditional “bully book”.

bobBob The Artist
By Marion Deuchars
32 pages – ages 6+

Published by Laurence King Publishing on April 26, 2016

Theme/Topic- Bullies / Expressing Yourself

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “‘What a beautiful day for a walk on my FINE legs,’ said Bob.”

Publisher’s Synopsis: Bob the bird is just like all his friends, apart from his skinny legs. When Bob is teased, he decides to try to change himself to fit in. But little does he know where all his efforts will lead him…

What I Thought- This is a nice book with a neat take on a bullying problem – Bob has skinny legs and they make him self-conscious after hearing some of the things to other birds say.


After realizing he can’t change his legs, Bob tries a different approach to divert attention away from his legs. That’s a really smart plan, and it leads into discussions about expressing yourself. It’s a neat book, with an interesting shape, and sized paper – another testimony to expressing yourself.


The illustrations looked like they were done with a fountain pen (or a dip pen) – giving it a nice feeling as you read it. I really enjoyed this nontraditional bully-book!

Activities and Resources- I’ve found a few websites with lesson plans for teachers about their kids expressing themselves. One at The Teacher’s Lounge, another at Treasures, and one more at Education.com.


I think some art lessons could go along with the book too. Bob painted his beak in style of Matisse and Jackson Pollock. That could lead to a discussion of artwork from these artists.

You can see Henry Matisse’s artwork at www.henri-matisse.net

and Jackson Pollock art work at www.jackson-pollock.org

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

Review! The Dragon Whistler by Kimberly J. Smith

26 May

dragonwhistThe Dragon Whistler

Series: The Secrets of the Soul Treasures

By Kimberly J. Smith

222 pages – ages 9+

Published by Lulu.com on October 18, 2015

Synopsis- Willow McLain knew she had found a whistle. What she didn’t know is that when she played one song she had found with it, a dragon would burst out of the nearby mountain. Or that she was the only one who could put it back. Or that it would start a ginormous chain of events that involved riding a dragon to England to stop a crazed relative from taking over the world. Obviously, Willow knew none of that, so she played the whistle.

What I Thought- I loved the plot of the book, but one thing really threw me off at the beginning – Willow, the main character, was a really big brat – so much so it made it hard to keep reading. I found myself with an utter disdain for the main character. Granted, that changed slowly over the course of the story, so much that if you read the first and last chapter, you wouldn’t believe that they are the same person. Looking back at it, it now seems like a great way to flesh out Willow as a character but it just originally made it a harder book to pick up. Other than that, it was a great story, with a believable adventure. There was an excellent amount of foreshadowing – so much that I knew that there was something off with one of the characters, but I had no idea what they would do! It is a nice story, and a fun read. The book is a quick read, but a good one – makes me think what great things Smith would come up with if she expanded the story.

I give this book four out of five bookworms.fourbooks


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