Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kid Lit Blog Hop: Count Your Chickens

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Count Your Chickens by Jo Ellen Bogart

To be published on February 7, 2017.

Goodreads Summary:
For fans of Richard Scarry, a cute-as-a-button picture book featuring dozens of chickens as they set out for the county fair!

Chickens, chickens everywhere -- going to the county fair! Follow a family of chickens as they prepare for their big outing. You'll see chickens wondering what to wear, baking pies, painting their toes and knitting socks. A stroll through town reveals that everyone else is excited for the festivities too. There are so many sights to see! Over there we see racers sprinting to the finish line. Over here, farmers showing off their best crops. Clowns, entertainers and musicians take the stage. And don't forget the rides: the Ferris wheel, super slide and merry-go-round. Grab some cotton candy and popcorn, because this very silly book will entertain and challenge young readers with searching and counting elements. 

My Thoughts:
This book is an impressive rhyming tale about tons of chickens going to the county fair. The illustrations are adorable, and the chickens are truly doing everything in this fictional world. My favorite part is that at the back of the book there are questions for each page, so you can flip back and count how many chickens are knitting or are dressed as clowns, etc.

Perfect for children ages 3-6, this book is one that would be fun to read over and over again. There is so much going on on each page, the reader is very likely to find new details with each read. And you could easily make up your own questions - for counting or whatever else you're inclined to ask your children while reading.

My Rating: 4 Stars

I'm linking up with Reading Authors today for Kid Lit Blog Hop.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Review: Wolfie and Fly (Chapter Book)

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Wolfie & Fly by Cary Fagan

Published on January 10, 2017.

Goodreads Summary:
A classic story of imagination, friendship, adventure and speeding through the ocean in a cardboard box. For fans of Ivy & Bean, Judy Moody or Nate the Great

Wolfie and Fly is an early chapter book at its simplest and best. Our heroine, Renata Wolfman (Wolfie) does everything by herself. Friends just get in the way, and she only has time for facts and reading. But friendship finds her in the form of Livingston Flott (Fly), the slightly weird and wordy boy from next door. Before she knows it, Wolfie is motoring through deep water with Fly as her second in command in a submarine made from a cardboard box. 

Out on a solo swim to retrieve a baseball vital to the mission, Wolfie is finally by herself again, but for the first time, she finds it a little lonely. Maybe there is something to this friend thing...

My Thoughts:
This book is a really chapter book, the first in a new series. Renata Wolfman (Wolfie) is happy without friends. She loves being alone and reading about life in the ocean. She doesn't know how to play pretend. She's very logical. When she's forced to play with Livingston Flott (Fly) from next door, they create an excellent submarine out of a refrigerator box. Fly teaches Wolfie how to play pretend, but they're in for a surprise when they take the submarine on its maiden voyage. Somehow they're in the real ocean!

With short chapters and great adventure, this book is a perfect read for children ages 5-8 who enjoy contemporary or fantasy stories - it's kind of a mix of both. It's a great story for boys and girls. Wolfie is a little sassy to her parents in the beginning of the book, but otherwise it's just pure fun. A great friendship story and a great beginning to a fun new series.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Great Reads from December 2016

I am still behind on writing reviews, but here are some of the 4- and 5-star books I've read recently. Click on the book title to open my full review from Opinionated Book Lover.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Ruth, a nurse, begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

This book was hard to read but SO good. Such an important read.

4 Stars

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Just out of the orphanage, Solara Brooks needs a fresh start. She's so desperate to reach the outer realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback. He and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest.

This book was a great hard-turned-love romance with fun squad goals. It reminded me of Firefly.

4 Stars

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

I don't normally like character-driven novels, but there were so many great characters in this book, and the suspense of finding out all of the secrets made this book one that I couldn't put down.

4 Stars

What Light by Jay Asher

Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon. Every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot. Sierra lives two lives. And leaving one always means missing the other. Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

This holiday romance is super cute. It was full of great characters and just the right amount of Christmas cheer.

4 Stars

Today's post will be linked up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for her Quick Lit series.

Have you read any great books recently?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Kid Lit: Little Blue Chair

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Little Blue Chair by Cary Fagan

To be published on January 24, 2017.

Goodreads Summary:
A sweet, whimsical tale that chronicles the journey of a chair as it changes hands and uses. Perfect for fans of The Good Little Book, Something for Nothing and Virginia Lee Burton's The Little House.

Boo's favorite chair is little and blue. He sits in it, reads in it and makes a tent around it...until the day he grows too big for it. His mother puts the little blue chair out on the lawn where a truck driver picks it up. The truck driver sells it to a lady in a junk store where it sits for many years until it's sold and put to use as a plant stand. In the years that follow, the little blue chair is used in many other ways -- on an elephant ride, in a contest, on a Ferris wheel, in a tree...until the day it flies away, borne aloft by balloons, and lands in a garden of daffodils where a familiar face finds it. 
A charming, beautifully illustrated read-aloud that follows the adventures of a little chair, beginning as the seat of a small child who loves books and circling back to that child's child many years (and bottoms) later." 

My Thoughts:
This book is super cute. A little boy named Boo has a little blue chair. It's his favorite. He sits in it all the time, until he outgrows the chair. Then his mother puts at on the side of the road with a sign, and someone comes along and takes it. Thus begins the chair's life. The book follows the chair across the world from owner to owner. All of the owners think the chair is perfect for their intended purpose. The chair does its job well over and over again, until it finally comes home to Boo.

The illustrations in this book are very vintage looking. It's a sweet story and very clever. I enjoyed seeing all of the potential uses for the chair. It is an especially great story for me as we have a little chair that came from my husband's family's old church's grade school. It too has had many uses throughout its life.

Ages 4-8

My Rating: 4 Stars

I'm linking up with Booking Mama today for Kid Konnection. Every Saturday Julie hosts this link up for all things relating to children's books.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Reading Parties - a parenting dream come true

When my twin sister and I were about 12 years old, we used to have "Reading Parties" with our mother in my parents' king size bed. Each of us would read our own book quietly, but we'd all be together. Since having Christopher I realized that this was my mother's way of getting her own reading time in, and I have been looking forward to that the time when Christopher would be old enough for us to have our own reading party.

Guess what? That time is here!

On 12/22 Christopher and I had our very first reading party. We had been talking on the way home from wrestling practice about when we could buy some Junie B. Jones books. I told him when he finished a whole Junie B. book, then we could go to the book store and buy a couple to keep. He had borrowed Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus from the school library that day.

When we got home, he took his shower quickly, and then we got comfy in my bed. He read 4 chapters of Junie B. while I read Heartless. It was wonderful!

He finished the book by the end of the next week, so we went to Barnes and Noble last weekend, and he picked out 3 Junie B. books to keep. I see plenty more reading parties in our future!

Have you ever had a reading party?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kid Lit: My Name is Zedonk

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

My Name is Zedonk by Jia Han

Published on January 10, 2017.

Goodreads Summary:
In the 2010 Census, almost 10 million Americans identified as multiracial. As our population grows, more and more families will be made up of people who may not look just like one another. 

My Name is Zedonk is a charming children's book celebrating diverse and multiracial families or just a little story about a zedonk, read into it what you wish. Originally published in Korea, the story is for ages 3 to 8 and illustrated with full color, mixed media drawings that will resonate across ages, races, and genders. This story captures love, acceptance, and the mystery and magic of family. 

"My mama is a donkey, 
my papa is a zebra, 
and I am a zedonk.
Each of us is a bit different and 
we are all happy together. "

My Thoughts:
This book is so sweet. It's the story of a zebra and a donkey who fell in love. While zebras and donkeys don't usually live together, they decided they didn't care. They were in love and that is what mattered. The story is told by their child, Zedonk (a zedonk - "ze" from zebra and "donk" from donkey). 

The text of this story is pretty simplistic, but the message is huge. Differences don't have to mean that people cannot love each other. Different people can be happy together. 

The illustrations in this book are perfect. They look like watercolors or perhaps even crayon. They're very childlike, but also professional looking. Some pages just have stripes or yarn - small elements that add to the story. I very much enjoyed this book.

Ages 3-6

My Rating: 4 stars

Monday, January 9, 2017

Book Review: Word of Mouse (MG)

I received this book for free from the publisher at BEA 2016. That fact in no way influenced my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Published on December 12, 2016.

Goodreads Summary:
James Patterson's newest illustrated middle grade story follows the illuminating journey of a very special mouse, and the unexpected friendships that he makes along the way. 

What makes Isaiah so unique? First, his fur is as blue as the sky--which until recently was something he'd never seen, but had read all about. That's right--Isaiah can read, and write. He can also talk to humans...if any of them are willing to listen! After a dramatic escape from a mysterious laboratory, Isaiah is separated from his "mischief" (which is the word for a mouse family), and has to use his special skills to survive in the dangerous outdoors, and hopefully find his missing family. But in a world of cruel cats, hungry owls, and terrified people, it's hard for a young, lone mouse to make it alone. When he meets an equally unusual and lonely human girl named Hailey, the two soon learn that true friendship can transcend all barriers.

My Review:
This book is really fun. Isaiah is a blue mouse who has always dreamed of having a grand adventure, like the ones he's read about in books. He escapes from a test lab and is determined to rescue his 96 brothers and sisters. After finding a couple of good friends, one of them a human girl named Hailey, he manages to achieve his goal.

Written in short chapters, this book is told in Isaiah's voice with a lot of humor. Patterson has done an excellent job of imagining life as a mouse. Sure Isaiah has some advantages - he's super smart, he can read, and he can type to communicate with Hailey. There are plenty of villains - a hawk, a hairless cat, and the scientists.

The illustrations by Joe Sutphin are such a wonderful addition to this story. Each pen and ink drawing was more adorable than the last. He perfectly captured the characters and situations from the story. 

I cannot wait to read this book aloud with my son. It's a perfect read for kids ages 7-11.

My Rating: 4 Stars