Tag Archives: this kid reviews books

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Wonderfall by Michael Hall

21 Oct

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 just a wonderfulfall book!

By Michael Hall
40 pages – ages 5+

Published by Greenwillow on September 6, 2016

Theme/Topic- Beauty in life / Environment

Genre-  Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening:Peacefall. A gentle breeze is jiggling me.”

Synopsis from Publisher: “Wonderfall follows a single tree through the changing of the seasons. People, animals, and vehicles pass in front of the tree, celebrating holidays, playing in its leaves, and getting ready for winter. Fifteen combined words (thankful + fall = thankFALL, plentiful + fall = plentiFALL) underscore the themes and concepts of the season, while the main attraction—the beautiful tree—drops acorns, loses leaves, and provides food and a home for a pair of scurrying squirrels. Two full spreads at the back of the book offer additional information about the animals featured in the book, as well as the science behind squirrels, acorns, and saplings.”

What I Thought- This is a really neat poetry book. It shows the coming and passing of fall from a tree’s point of view. The poems are mostly free verse, with the occasional rhyming word (probably just coincidence). The illustrations are really neat, as you can see the subtle changes as fall progresses.


I also really like the collage illustrations. The colors are bold and contrast well. There is also a lot going on in the illustrations. The reader can pick out new details when re-reading the book. The text is easy enough for early readers to read and the book also makes a great read aloud.  I really enjoyed this book.

Activities and Resources- 

I love it when books have their own resources built in! This book has a great end-section with notes on  wildlife and how they get ready for winter.  There is also a description of what happens to trees during the winter. A great addition to the book!

There are some great tree related activities at Fantasticfunandlearning.com HERE.

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

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.


I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Who is Bish Denham?


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

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Enzo’s Very Scary Halloween by Garth Stein

14 Oct

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 nice not too spooky book for Halloween.

enzoEnzo’s Very Scary Halloween 
Written by Garth Stein
Illustrated by R.W. Alley
40 pages – ages 5+

Published by HarperCollins on July 26, 2016

Theme/Topic- Halloween

Genre- Realistic Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “‘Tell us about Halloween, Daddy,’ Zoë says one fall evening. ‘But tell it the scary way!'”

Synopsis from publisher: “When Halloween comes around, Enzo doesn’t know what to expect. Jack-o’-lanterns light up the streets, giant spiders weave webs on porches, and ordinary lawns become creepy graveyards while every child and dog transforms into a creature of some kind—including Enzo!

Enzo the dragon is determined to protect fairy princess Zoë from the monsters and goblins in their neighborhood, but when things get a little too scary, his family is there to reassure him that everything is make-believe and only meant to be fun—just like the wonderful trick-or-treat parade that ends this spook-tastic night! R. W. Alley’s fantastic illustrations bring Enzo to life as he discovers the frightful fun of Halloween. “

What I Thought- I really like the Enzo books and this one is a nice addition. They are nice stories that have the innocence of a young puppy learning about a holiday. Young kids will like how Enzo misinterprets the idea of Halloween, and is very frightened because of it. The illustrations are perfect for the story, with a sweet almost-cartoon feel. Stein’s writing style is nice for read-alouds, and teachers could use this book to talk with kindergartners or preschoolers. I’ve enjoyed Stein’s middle-grade books and am finding I enjoy is picture books just as much.

Activities and Resources- Activityvillage.co.uk has a good list of Halloween activities and resources HERE.

FamilyEducation.com has a list of Not-Too-Spooky Halloween activities for kids – click HERE.

Read a sample from the book at the publisher’s website HERE.

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

Review! 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up By Bianca Schulze Blog Tour! AND GIVEAWAY!!!

12 Oct


101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up

Series: 101 series for Kids

By Bianca Schulze

Published by Walter Foster Jr on October 1, 2016

144 pages / ages 8-12

Synopsis from the publisher: 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up provides a comprehensive list of kid-friendly books for children to read before they grow up. This must-read review list acts as an interactive journal where kids can document the books they read, why they like them, and how they rate them. Divided into sections by subject, from fairy tales and fantasy to sports and nonfiction, 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up celebrates the importance of reading and encourages family participation to develop lifelong readers. The perfect reference guide for book lovers of all ages, 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up helps both kids and parents decide which books to read next!

What I thought: This is a nice addition to the 101 Series for Kids. When I first saw the title of this – 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up – I immediately thought – come on, how can you possibly come up with this list? There are SO MANY books you should read before you grow up! Then I read the following author’s note –

“There are so many amazing books to be discovered and read—and far too many to list in one fun book. The 101 awesome books contained in these pages have one collective message: Be kind, be brave, and make good choices. Remember the struggles of those that came before you and those who will come after you. Be true to yourself, and with every page you turn, live your life like an epic adventure.”

Makes sense.

Plus, Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review so she knows what she is talking about. Scanning through the table of contents, yes I did see some books I think should have been listed, but I can’t argue against any of the books Schulze lists (well maybe one). And, she only got to name 101 (although in the “What to Read Next?” section following each book description Schulze got to list a few more).


As with all the books in the 101 Series for Kids, the pages are well-organized and colorful. Schulze gives a brief synopsis of each book and some comments as to why the book belongs on the list. There is also a section below each book named for kids to record that they read it and write what they thought of it. The variety of books Schulze suggests is wonderful – ranging from classics to adventure, humor to historical fiction. Schulze even gives a nod to graphic novels. There is a nice selection of culturally diverse books and I was happy with the mix of classic and more modern titles represented.



Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review, a resource devoted to children’s literature and recognized by the American Library Association as a “Great Website for Kids.” She is a reader, reviewer, mother, and children’s book lover. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s bookseller, Bianca’s goal is to share her passion to help grow readers.


To enter the giveaway to win this book, all you need to do is comment telling us what book you think everyone should read!

Review! Bioengineering by Christine Burillo-Kirch

5 Oct

bioengineerBioengineering: Discover How Nature Inspires Human Designs

Series: Build It Yourself

Written by Christine Burillo-Kirch

Illustrated by Alexis Cornell

128 pages – ages 7+

Published by Nomad Press on August 9, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher- “In Bioengineering: Discover How Nature Inspires Human Designs, young readers explore designs and innovations that come from nature. Leonardo da Vinci studied birds’ wings to draw his design of a man-made flying machine and engineers still look to birds when attempting to make planes more aerodynamic. And a burr on your shirt from walking through a field sticks like Velcro, doesn’t it? The plant and animal world provides engineers and scientists with a host of ideas to apply to the human world to make it a better place to live.

Bioengineering explores different fields, including communication, transportation, and construction, and follows the process of engineering from the raw material of the natural world to the products we use in the human world every day. Activities such as building cantilevers and inventing a new fabric that mimics pinecone behavior require kids to think critically about their own needs and find creative ideas to fulfill those needs using designs from nature. Essential questions and links to digital and primary resources make this book an engaging and illuminating experience.”

What I Thought- This is a really neat nonfiction book. It explains the core concepts of bioengineering in terms that kids can understand. I really enjoyed how it simplified the theories, which I’m sure are actually quite complex, and also included projects to help the reader understand the topics even more. The projects are simple, and use everyday objects that would cost little to nothing to make. There are neat illustrations that help teach the topics and break up the text in an enjoyable way. This is a really nice introduction to bioengineering and its major ideas. The text is not overly complicated which is amazing because of the complex topics it is covering. This is a very well thought out and written book! The binding of the book reminds me of a school workbook, but the colorful illustrations, projects and engaging text makes it so much better than a textbook! Kids and teachers will like reading this book!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review and book birthday! The Ominous Eye by Tracey Hecht

20 Sep

nocturnals2The Ominous Eye

Series: The Nocturnals #2 (#1)

Written by Tracey Hecht

208 pages – ages 7+

Published by Fabled Films Press on September 20, 2016 (TODAY!)

Synopsis- “Join Dawn, Bismark and Tobin as they set out to investigate the source of a violent jolt that fractures the earth! Along their journey, the Nocturnal Brigade meets an unfamiliar reptile—a tuatara named Polyphema—who reveals that a giant beast caused the destruction and will soon strike again. Polyphema with her special insights, is the only one who can help the Nocturnal Brigade stop this fearsome predator… but can she be trusted? With help from an owl, the jerboas, and some kiwis, the animals set a trap since surrender is not an option against this relentless beast.”

What I Thought- This was a nice sequel to the first Nocturnals book. It still has the same feel, but it also shows the characters changed just a bit, and become more mature. The book gives enough background so that the reader doesn’t have to have read the first book (but do because it was good!). I like that it has a friendship message that kids can follow, while still being an enjoyable book and not preachy. The friends that make up the Nocturnal Brigade are fun and a but zany. The characters are funny and personable, and their personalities develop throughout the story. There are nice watercolor illustrations throughout the book that really add to the overall feeling of the book. Hecht’s writing really sets the readers imagination on fire! I think that this is a great series, and I hope the next books are as great as the first two!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! There’s a Giraffe in My Soup by Ross Burach

16 Sep

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 fun story.

giraffesoupThere’s a Giraffe in My Soup
By Ross Burach
32 pages – ages 4+

Published by HarperCollins on February 23, 2016

Theme/Topic- Humor/Table manners

Genre-  Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening: “‘Excuse me, Waiter?

There’s a giraffe in my soup!'”

Synopsis from Publisher: “What if you found a giraffe in your soup, an alligator in your entreé, an elephant on the table, or even an ostrich in your dish?

In this debut picture book from author-illustrator Ross Burach, an assortment of hairy, scary animals pop out from under the lid at a restaurant!”

What I Thought- This is a good, classic, everything-goes-wrong-but-in-a-good-way book. It is a hilarious spin off of the “There’s a fly in my soup!” jokes, starting big, and getting zanier as the book progresses. Kids will beg to have the book reread to them, if the fact that I just read the book five times in a row it is that good! The illustrations are perfect for the story. They are zany and fit in with the mixed-up story.  The book is a perfect read-aloud, particularly for two people (or a teacher and their class) to read the boy’s and the waiter’s lines. Funny voices would be perfect too! I can’t wait to read more from this debut author!

Activities and Resources- Because the book takes place in a “fine-restaurant,” you can talk about table manners with your kids, with topic ideas to discuss at Emilypost.com HERE!

If you want to lead into a discussion about manners with activities, at Childfun.com HERE!
Check out the book’s trailer –

You can read a sample of the book at the publisher’s website HERE

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

Blog Tour! Bjorn’s Gift by Sandy Brehl

14 Sep

bjornBjorn’s Gift

Sequel to Odin’s Promise

By Sandy Brehl

272 pages – ages 8+

Will be published by Crispin Books on October 5th, 2016

Synopsis from Publisher-Set in Norway during World War II, Bjorn’s Gift continues the adventures of Mari, a young Norwegian girl who faces growing hardships and dangers in her small village in a western fjord.
German occupation troops and local Nazi supporters move closer to her family’s daily life, and her classmate Leif becomes active in the Norwegian Nazi youth party. Mari struggles to live up to her brother Bjorn’s faith in her, as she becomes more involved in risky resistance activities, trusting only her family and a few close friends.
Across Norway, oppressive laws are imposed in the months from Fall 1941 to early 1943, with dire local consequences. Difficult decisions force Mari to admit that many things in life are not easily sorted into good or bad, and she begins to wonder if Hitler will ever be defeated and . . . whether the occupation of Norway will ever end.

What I Thought- Odin’s Promise was a wonderful historical fiction novel that I thoroughly enjoyed. I was excited to see a sequel and was equally impressed with Brehl’s writing in this novel. Ms. Brehl’s way of writing down the events makes it very personal, and you can really feel the turmoil that Mari, the main character, is going through. The book is set during WWII in Norway. I really enjoy this because the Norwegian occupation is something glossed over in the history classes I have had so far. It is a part of history that I want to know more about. The imagery Brehl uses is amazing. She paints vivid images in sentences that really makes the reading experience enjoyable. The beautiful descriptions of Norway set against the ugliness of the political time is a striking contrast. This is a riveting historical fiction novel, and I think it really brings to light a different side of the German invasion of Norway. The book is completely appropriate for younger readers.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

author-brehl-copy-1 Sandy Brehl is a retired educator and active member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). When she’s not reading and writing, she enjoys gardening. She lives in the Milwaukee area and invites you to visit her website (www.SandyBrehl.com) to learn more about ODIN’S PROMISE and BJORN’S GIFT. Sign up for quarterly newsletters to stay informed about future releases (including MARI’S HOPE), and special events and offers.


Crispin Books, an imprint of Crickhollow

Twitter: @SandyBrehl
Email: Sandy@sandybrehl.com
Sandy shares a blog about middle grade historical novels with three other authors: TheStoriedPast.org
Also blogs about picture books at UnpackingPictureBookPower.com and @PBWorkshop on Twitter

Blog tour schedule:

September 1– Interview with Todd Burleson at GROG blog:


September 7- Review: Stephanie Lowden at golowd, a blog about teaching and books:


September 11- Guest post Unleashing Readers


September 14- (TODAY!!!)- Review by Erik at This Kid Reviews Books,


September 19- Review, Suzanne Warr, at Tales from the Raven, for MMGM:


September 20- Olivia and Oscar- review of ODIN’S PROMISE at Kid Book Reviewer:


September 27- Olivia and Oscar- review of BJORN’S GIFT at Kid Book Reviewer:


September 29- Alex Baugh review at The Children’s War


October 3- Jenni Enzor MMGM with review and interview:


October 5- MomReadIt- Review by Rosemary


October 7- Trisha P at Mindjacked


October 11- Guest post Rochelle Melander


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!

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