Monday, October 31, 2016

Kid Lit: An Incomplete Book of Awesome Things

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



Published on August 23, 2016.

Goodreads Summary:
A celebration some of the world s most universally awesome (but perhaps overlooked) things: masking tape, tunnels, lava, argyle, elbows, and more. The incomplete compilation -- featuring beautifully minimal, vibrant illustrations -- was designed to boost kids vocabulary, share giggles, and spark conversations. You decide what s awesome and what s not mauve? kiwis? snakes? and come up with your own additions to the never finished list.

My Thoughts:
This board book is interesting. It's full of unusual vocabulary words all collected under the pretense of being "awesome things." Some of them are pretty awesome - science, masking tape, confetti. Some weren't things I'd consider anything special - yellow, tacos, elbows - but that's the point. This book is meant to spark discussion. Do you consider these things to be awesome? What else would you add to the list?

The illustrations are simple. Some of the concepts, like wind, are hard to portray in a picture, but the book does a pretty good job with that. It's a very different kind of vocabulary book, which is kind of fun.

My Rating: 3 stars


On the blog last year...

Fiction Friday: Kindred Spirits

Month in Review: October 2015

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Kid Lit: My First Book of Hockey

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




Published on September 20, 2016.

Goodreads Summary:
The puck drops, skates flash, and sticks fly-a hockey game is underway! With a fun mix of Sports Illustrated action photography, simple text, a full glossary of terms, and cool graphics, My First Book of Hockey introduces readers to the basics. Kids (and maybe a few adults, too!) will learn how power plays work, how the three-period game flows, what a hat trick is, what's up with the referee's crease, and more.

An illustrated "rookie" character appears on every page, guiding the reader moment by moment, and helping to make My First Book of Hockey an ideal shared reading experience between parents and their young rookies before, during, and after the game.

My Thoughts:
This series is great, and this hockey book is no exception. The editors of Sports Illutsrated for Kids have done an excellent job of breaking down the rules of the game into an easy to understand yet very informative way. The book walks through the basics of the game - number of teams, number of players and positions, number of periods and minutes in the game, etc. And it also gets into the details of the rules and specific penalties. I learned a couple of things while reading this book.

During the book the two teams kind of play out a game, so there is some element of competition and cheering the two teams on, but it's all with the intent of illustrating the rules of the game more than entertaining the reader.

My favorite part of these books are the speech bubbles with funny little commentary from the players and a young boy who's tagging along throughout the book. He makes small statements about his confusion with the terminology and other humorous things. It makes the book a little lighter, and it brings up some questions that kids may have when learning these rules of the game.

This book is perfect for kids ages 5-10 who want to learn more about hockey. I will be buying this book for my son for Christmas. He's obsessed with hockey right now, but he knows almost nothing about the rules.

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.


On the blog last year...

Book Review: Love Anthony

Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cybils Fiction Picture Books - Batch 2

Between books I'd already read and books from my first batch of Cybils nominees, I already have 4 books on my shortlist. Basically, I'm putting anything that I rated as 5-stars on my shortlist, and I'll shift through them from there. I have to work with the other round 1 panelists on narrowing down our picks into one shortlist, with only 7 titles I believe. This is going to be hard work. There are a lot of good nominations.


Now on to more Cybils nominees...

My Baby Crocodile by Gaetan Doremus (ages 4-8)

This book is told from alternating perspectives - first a crocodile who thinks he's found a baby crocodile (which is really a boy in a knight's armor) and then the boy once he sheds his armor. It's funny to hear their thoughts and see their different interpretations of the situation. The end gets a little confusing because it changes perspectives rather quickly. It's a very creative book, but I'm not sure whether kids will understand what's going on.

3 Stars




Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn Ringtved (ages 6-10)

Four children live with their aging grandmother. When Death comes for her, they are not ready to let her go. They try to trick Death by giving him coffee to keep him up all night. Death tells them a story to try to illustrate that knowing death is inevitable makes life that much sweeter and that much more worth living. The children don't understand, but they eventually let Death take their grandmother. This book may help children understand death or it may just confuse them even more. I do not know. I enjoyed it.

4 Stars



Superhero Instruction Manual by Kristy Dempsey (ages 4-8)

This book is adorable! It's 7 easy steps to becoming a superhero. I can't wait to read it with my son. It's one you can kind of talk through as you're reading it - what should your superhero name be? who should be your sidekick? what super power will you have? how will you save the world? It's a really fun read that kids will definitely love. It's not classic literature or anything too profound, so I don't think it will win Cybils, but it will be a favorite with kids.

4 Stars



Ninja Baby by David Zeltser (ages 4-8)

This book started off with a cute concept - a ninja baby. But then it turned into a book about jealousy over a new baby. Nina, the older sibling, is the ninja baby, and the new baby brother is a Kung Fu Master. He comes along and steals all of the attention. There is a weird exchange that magically resolves everything - I didn't get it, and suddenly the Ninja and Master are working together. It didn't work for me.

3 Stars



Giraffes Ruin Everything by Heidi Schulz (ages 4-8)

This book is kind of nonsense, but it's one I think kids will enjoy. A little boy explains the many ways that giraffes ruin everything from birthday parties and trips to the movies to tree houses and slides at the playground. Of course, in the end the boy ends up needing the giraffes help. It's silly and cute, with fun illustrations of the giraffe in many precarious situations.

4 Stars




Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee (ages 4-8)

I'll admit, I am not a tattoo person at all. I had my doubts about this book before reading it, but it's really sweet. A dad tells his son about each of his tattoos. They all have very significant meanings, and the illustrations really help bring those stories to life because the words are fairly limited in this book. The ending is super adorable - the little boy's favorite tattoo is a small heart with his own birthdate inside of it. The father admits that that is his favorite too.

4 Stars



Real Sisters Pretend by Megan Dowd Lambert (ages 4-8)

Wow! This story is wonderful and heartbreaking. In the story two young girls, sisters, are playing pretend. The younger suggests that they pretend to be sisters. The older says they don't need to pretend that because they are sisters, through adoption. This book is based on a true story of something her own girls said while playing after a woman at a store as asked if they were "real" sisters. Even aside from the adoption stuff this is a sweet story of pretend play.

5 Stars



Normal Norman by Tara Lazar (ages 5-9)

This book is another fun story that break the fourth wall. A scientist is attempting show what it means to be "normal." She mentions being the narrator of the book and keeps asking for brief breaks when things don't go according to plan. Normal cannot be defined.

4 Stars




How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett (ages 6-10)

This book walks the reader through the process of creating a book from writing many drafts to editing to illustration to printing to delivery and finally to reading. Along the way there are some exaggerations and crazy embellishments. It's a lot of fun, and very informative, but it's definitely for older readers. Any child who's wondered where books come from or dreamed of being a writer will enjoy this book.

4 Stars



Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins (ages 4-8)

This book is silly and has some adult humor. It reminded me a little of Duck Soup and Duck at the Door. A bear loves cooking eggs recipes, but one day his goose eggs hatch, and he's stuck with 4 baby goslings. He's less than pleased, and he can't get rid of them.

4 Stars




Grandma Is a Slowpoke by Janet Halfmann (ages 4-8)

A little girl and her grandmother go for a walk. Grandma keeps stopping because she's a slowpoke. She's observing nature and telling the little girl all about the animals she sees. Sometimes it's good to slow down and look around. The little girl agrees by the end. This is a sweet story.

3 Stars



Follow Me by Ellie Sandall (ages 2-4)

This book is a great read aloud for younger kids. It has simple rhyming stanzas, and the meter works perfectly. A family of lemurs is running around busily climbing and eating when they encounter a crocodile. Luckily they escape unharmed. They sigh and head back to their tree to rest at the end of the day. Nothing amazing happens, but it's a fun introduction to the written word with great pictures.

4 Stars


Have you read any of these books? Did you nominate one of them?


On the blog last year...

Kid Lit: The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Book Review: Pedro First-Grade Hero (Easy Reader)

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.


Pedro First-Grade Hero by Fran Manushkin

Goodreads Summary:
Spend some time with Pedro, Katie Woo's fun-loving friend. From a buggy disaster to a run for class president, Pedro has what it takes to be the hero of first-grade. No matter what he's doing, Pedro is always good for some laughs and adventure.

My Review:
This easy reader book has 4 chapters, but each chapter is really a stand alone story. In chapter one, Pedro's class is studying bugs. In chapter 2, he tries out to be the goalie on a soccer team with some of his classmates. In chapter 3, he and his friends solve the mysteries of some missing objects. And in chapter 4, Pedro runs for class president. Chapter 3 was my favorite, but they're all cute. The characters are very real. They felt like some of the kids I know from my son's 1st grade class. Some of them brag a little too much. They're not always nice to each other. They're very relatable.

Pedro is a character from Manushkin's Katie Woo series. I've never read those books, but Katie is featured in this book as well. This book is engaging and fun for children who share similar interests as Pedro and his friends. There are pictures on every page, so it's an easy transition to a chapter book style for early readers. Each chapter is about 20 pages long. It's realistic to have kids consume one chapter per night with this book.

This text is at an instructional level J, which is perfect for my son, who's reading independently at level K. Unfortunately, he struggles with contemporary fiction, favoring graphic novels and fantasy. He didn't even make it through the first chapter when he tried this book.

My Rating: 3 Stars


On the blog last year...

Book Review: After You

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Struggle of Modern Motherhood: Trying to Do It All

Here's how my day went yesterday:


  • I left for work 15 minutes later than I planned to because the kitchen was such a mess in the morning that I had to unload and reload the dishwasher before there was enough counter space to make dinner in the crock pot. 
  • Then all day at work I shuffled from meeting to meeting trying to squeeze in calls to the doctor's office and finishing off my ebook, so I could write a book review of it at night.
  • When I got home from work, I frantically compiled my committee updates for the Home & School (think PTA) executive board meeting at school at 6 PM.
  • Then as soon as I finished that, I cooked some vegetables to accompany the turkey breast I'd had cooking in the slow cooker all day. (Thankfully my husband had de-skinned, de-boned, and shredded the turkey earlier in the afternoon because he works from home.)
  • I quickly made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my son for dinner because of course he doesn't like what I was cooking for my husband and me.
  • I ate a very rushed dinner with my family before dashing out the door for the HSA meeting, and I was still 2 minutes late.


Meanwhile I didn't get a blog post up for either of my blogs for yesterday. I'm still playing catch up from the incredibly busy weekend we had in which we went to a pumpkin patch, a soccer game, and a Halloween party on Saturday; and I ran a 5K, cleaned up the gardens and re-organized the garage for winter (with Jim's help), and cooked a bunch of Whole 30 food for the week on Sunday.

I am a modern-day mother. I want to cook healthy foods for myself and my family. I work full time, but I also want to spend time on my passions - reading and blogging. I want to have time to do things with my family. And I volunteer at my son's school on the Home & School board. I want to do it all. But sadly, I don't feel like I'm doing a very good job at anything right now.

Because I've been eating Whole 30 for the last 55 days, I've been cooking almost everything that I've been consuming, and that takes A LOT of time. I am now maintaining two blogs instead of one and judging picture books for Cybils, which I love. But again...tons of time. I am working full time at a job that has finally gotten busy after 4 months, so I am *gasp* actually having to work the entire time that I am at work. I really want to go to the gym to work out, but I haven't managed to do that over the last several months because I am too tired to get up at 5 AM, and I can only squeeze it in on Saturday mornings otherwise.

Lately, I've been slacking on my Home & School duties and on reading and blogging, and it sucks. I feel guilty about not pulling my weight for HSA. I don't want my fellow board members to have to pick up my slack. I hate that I can't spend as much time as I want to spend reading and writing. And the added stress of having to pick book recommendations for Country Woman magazine isn't helping even though I am beyond excited about this new opportunity.

So I guess my point is...what's giving in your life right now? Are you feeling the same desire to do it all? How do you juggle all of the roles you play in your life? I know I am not the only mom who feels this way.

How do you say no to new opportunities that come your way? How do you balance what you WANT to do with what you HAVE to do?

Being a mother/wife/worker/human being is hard work!


On the blog last year...

It's happening again

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Kid Lit: I'll Wait, Mr. Panda

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.



I'll Wait, Mr. Panda by Steve Anthony

To be published on October 25, 2016.

Goodreads Summary:
Mr. Panda's black-and-white animal friends are curious what he's making, but only one has the patience to stick around. An alpaca, an aardvark, rabbits, and a bird all wind up missing out. It's the penguin who declares, "I'll wait, Mr. Panda." The penguin is rewarded with a big SURPRISE: a giant doughnut!

I'll Wait, Mr. Panda is a graphic, kid-friendly way of teaching the value of patience and the importance of saying "thank you."

My Thoughts:
I loved Please, Mr. Panda, so I was super excited to see that Steve Anthony had written another character lesson book using Mr. Panda. In this story, Mr. Panda is mixing something up in a bowl. Various animals come along asking what he is making. He tells them they have to wait. It's a surprise. The only animal patient enough to wait is a small penguin, but he's in for a big treat at the end. It turns out Panda is making a giant donut.

This book is cute. The text is simple. The illustrations are sweet (although not as fun as Please, Mr. Panda because there aren't as many donuts). The moral is simple - if you are patient, you will be rewarded. It's an easy enough concept for kids to grasp, and it's written in a fun and engaging way. The page with the bunny features a bunch of little bunny butts disappearing into holes while they're all saying, "Good-bye." I know this page would have been the highlight when my son was younger. This book is perfect for ages 2-5.

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.


On the blog last year...

Book Review: How to Be Brave (YA)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Perfect Picture Book Friday: Strictly No Elephants

While reading fiction picture book nominees for Cybils, I came across another great book for Perfect Picture Book Friday. This weekly meme is hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill. Head on over to her blog to check out some other highly recommended picture books!


Title: Strictly No Elephants

Written By: Lisa Mantchev

Illustrated By: Taeeun Yoo

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, October 2015

Suitable For Ages: 3-8

Themes/Topics: pets, inclusion, friendship

Opening: The trouble with having a tiny elephant for a pet is that you never quite fit in.

Brief Synopsis: (from Goodreads) When the local Pet Club won’t admit a boy’s tiny pet elephant, he finds a solution—one that involves all kinds of unusual animals in this sweet and adorable picture book. 

Today is Pet Club day. There will be cats and dogs and fish, but strictly no elephants are allowed. The Pet Club doesn’t understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend. 

Imaginative and lyrical, this sweet story captures the magic of friendship and the joy of having a pet.

Why I Like This Book: This book is adorable. I loved the small lessons about friendship. A boy has a pet elephant who doesn't like walking on cracks in the sidewalk. The boy helps him over the cracks because that's what friends do. When they go to Pet Club, there is a sign saying "Strictly No Elephants." As they walk away, the elephant doesn't mind the cracks because his boy is sad, and friends are brave for each other when needed. The boy finds a girl with a pet skunk, and they decide to start their own club where everyone is welcome.

This book reminded me of The Berenstain Bears No Girls Allowed, which was one of my favorites from childhood. When I re-read that book recently, I was startled to find that it had some disturbing comments about gender roles. Strictly No Elephants is the inclusion book for a new generation. It has the same great message, and it also features a tree house, which was one of the main reasons I loved No Girls Allowed as a child.


On the blog last year...

Home Improvement: Painting

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Half Birthday Celebration: Pokemon Hunt

Tuesday was Christopher's half birthday. We have been celebrating half birthdays for a few years since he has a spring birthday, and it was hard watching his friends have birthdays at schools and having to wait so long for his own birthday. And, of course, since we started, now he expects something each year. It's partly my fault because I brought up his half birthday recently as a milestone for when we were going to start using a normal booster seat instead of the high back booster seat. But I digress.

Christopher reading the first clue.

For at least the last year, Christopher has been asking me to set up a scavenger hunt for him starting with a letter in the mailbox. He got the idea from a Hobby Kids YouTube video about a Superman hunt. I actually tried to find Superman stuff not too long after viewing the first video, so I could set something up, but Superman is really hard to find at toy stores. DC Comics is seriously under-represented.

Christopher reading the third clue.

Over time his request evolved to be a Shopkins hunt, but since he doesn't do much with Shopkins after initially opening them and because I knew he wanted some Pokemon comic books that we'd bought for a friend's birthday back in April, I made a Pokemon hunt. It was fun to FINALLY do it. And Christopher had a blast!

Checking out his final treasure.

I threw this all together yesterday because I'd kind of forgotten about getting him a gift. Originally I planned to just run to Barnes & Noble and get the comic books, but Tuesday morning I had the idea to throw a hunt. I stopped at Target on my way to work and picked up 2 Pokemon booster packs and a larger bundle that came with 3 booster packs, a special card, and a Pikachu coin.

The spoils! Pokemon cards, a Pikachu coin, and Pokemon comics.

During the day I wrote up the clue notes using fun riddles I found on the Riddles and Answers website. I had wanted to write the clues on index cards, but I forgot to take them with me to work, so I settled for ordinary paper.

All of the clues.

I snuck out of work a little early to swing by Barnes & Noble for the comic books, and so I could get home before the bus. I put the first clue in the mailbox, and then Jim and I put the treasures out around the house to match the clues: his bed, the freezer, the shower, and behind the keyboard in the playroom.

Choosing which treasure to open first.

We had to ask Christopher to go get the mail after he came in from the bus, but he compiled right away when I mentioned there might be something in the mailbox for him since it was his half birthday. As he came back to the house, Jim asked if it was all for him (Jim). Christopher excitedly said there was one item for him. He had a huge smile on his face.

Christopher was so cute reading and figuring out the riddles. He needed a little help, but he had a lot of fun and was super thankful (which is very rare). It was a fun half birthday celebration. I also let him have chocolate ice cream after dinner, and then we went to get our haircut. Super fun, I know.

Do you celebrate half birthdays?


On the blog last year...

YA Book Club: October 2015

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Kid Lit Blog Hop: Cara's Kindness

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


Cara's Kindness by Kristi Yamaguchi

Published on October 4, 2016.

Goodreads Summary:
When you pass on some kindness, it might make its way back to you...

Cara the Cat is struggling with picking the perfect song for her new ice-skating routine. But when a friend in need turns up at the rink, Cara drops everything to lend a helping hand. All she asks is that he pay it forward! Before long, Cara's kindness is passed all around...and might even make its way back home!

Kristi Yamaguchi is an ice-skating Olympic gold medalist and world champion who knows how to lend a helping hand! As founder of the Always Dream Foundation, Kristi helps promote early childhood literacy. Through her newest picture book, Kristi inspires children of all ages to pay it forward!

My Thoughts:
I grew up watching Kristi Yamaguchi skate, so I was super excited when I saw this book at BEA. I didn't get a copy there, but I was approved to review it on NetGalley. This book is adorable! We often talk to children about being kind, but it's hard to give examples sometimes. This book is full of small examples of how to be kind. 

Cara the Cat helps Darby the Dog learn how to ice skate. When he thanks her, she tells him to pass on the kindness, and he does. Darby shares his lunch with Pax, who's forgotten to bring his. Then Pax the Polar Bear helps Marky the Monkey get his ball out of the river. Each friend does a small kindness for someone else, until the kindness comes back to Cara. I loved this story. It's a sweet story that illustrates a good lesson. It's perfect for ages 4-8.

My Rating: 4 stars


I'm linking up with Reading Authors today for Kid Lit Blog Hop. This exciting, monthly hop, is where they develop an engaged group of people who love everything that has to do with children's literature. Everyone is welcome to join: bloggers, authors, publicist, and publishers!


On the blog last year...

Book Review: All the Summer Girls

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cybils Fiction Picture Books - Batch 1

When I announced that I had been selected to be a panelist for Cybils 2016: Fiction Picture Book Awards, I promised you that I be sharing books with you. To date 115 books have been nominated for this category, and my county library system had almost all of them. I am slowing wading through the HUGE stack of books in my bedroom - I had to get a basket from the library to carry them home (in addition to the large canvas bag that I'd brought with me).


I will be "reviewing" them in batches of 12, so you can see what's been nominated and what my thoughts are on these books. Some books that I have already discussed have been nominated, so I won't be re-mentioning those books, but I have 6 posts planned between now and December, so we'll see if I can highlight all of the nominated books.

Without further ado...in no particular order...here are some of the Cybils nominees.

Before I Leave by Jessixa Bagley (ages 2-6)

This book is a sweet story about a young hedgehog who is moving away. He doesn't want to leave his home or his best friend. They play together one last time like nothing is changing. This book would be great for kids in this situation. The ending is perfect. (P.S. The anteater snuck pictures and notes into his friend's suitcase.)

4 Stars


My Dog's a Chicken by Susan McElroy Montanari (ages 4-8)

Lula Mae wants a dog, but her mother thinks a dog is just another mouth to feed. She looks around the yard at all of the family's chickens and decides that maybe a chicken can be a dog. She selects the chicken who struts around like she owns the place, and Lula Mae makes her a dog. It's pretty cute. Even Mama comes around at the end.

4 Stars


Bloom by Doreen Cronin (ages 6-10)

Bloom is a fairy who's covered in mud. She maintained the kingdom until everyone wanted everything shiny and got sick of her muddy footprints. She left the kingdom to live on her own in the woods. Now the shiny kingdom is crumbling, and the king and queen coming looking for her. They don't believe that her magic is mud, so they send an ordinary girl thinking maybe Bloom is afraid to share her magic with royalty. Bloom teaches her magic to the girl and proves that there is no such thing as an ordinary girl. This book is wordy, but it's worth it if you can push through.

4 Stars

Giraffe Meets Bird by Rebecca Bender (ages 3-6)

Giraffe and Bird are unluckily friends. In an almost sibling-like way, they love and annoy each other. There is a lot of discussion about emotions in this book. The illustrations are really sweet, and there's a page that requires rotating the book. When danger comes along, Giraffe and Bird are in it together. They help each other out and decide to move on to someplace safer. Together.

4 Stars



The Water Princess by Susan Verde (ages 5-8)

Gie Gie pictures herself Princess of the African sky and the dusty earth. She can command dogs, grasses, and even the wind, but she cannot make the water come to her. Instead she and her mother journey very far every day just to bring water back for their family. This book was inspired by the life of model Georgie Badiel, and it was written to raise awareness for the number of people in the world without access to clean water. There is a great nonfiction spread in the back for parents (and children) to learn more.

4 Stars


Trainbots by Miranda Paul (ages 2-5)

This book is cute, and the train and robot aspects definitely appeal to young kids. My son wanted to read this book right away based on the cover, but this book is rhyming and does more telling about the pictures than telling an actual story. Maybe I'm just beyond that since my son is older, but I didn't enjoy this book as much.

3 Stars

The Wheels on the Tuk Tuk by Kabir & Surishtha Sehgal (ages 2-4)

This book is an Indian version of "The Wheels on the Bus." It includes some of the original items - wheels, wipers, people. But it also has other cultural items as well - Diwali fireworks, Chai tea, rupees, elephants, cows. It's cute, and it would be great for exposing young children to other cultures.

3 Stars


Extremely Cute Animals Operating Heavy Machinery by David Gordon (ages 3-6)

This book is kind of weird. Yes, there are cute animals operating machinery, and they use it to build an awesome amusement park. But there's also a story about bullying. Three mean kids keep knocking over the cute animals sandcastle, and that leads to the escalating better sandcastle building and ultimate destruction of the playground and replacement with the amusement park. It just didn't resonate with me.

3 Stars



Daniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer (ages 4-8)

This book is beautiful - both the pictures and the words. Daniel sees a sign for "Poetry at the Park" on Sunday, but he doesn't know what poetry is. He asks all of the animals at the park, and they all say something different - morning dew, cool water, etc. At the end of the story, Daniel goes to the poetry reading a shares a poem he's written of all of the animals answers. I loved it.

5 Stars



Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars by Maria Gianferrari
(ages 3-6)

Penny and her dog, Jelly, enjoy looking at the stars together, so when Penny receives an invitation to sleep out under the stars, she is super excited. Except, when she reads the invitation more carefully, she realizes she cannot bring Jelly. She tries to make a replacement Jelly - out of paper, out of yarn, out of fleece, etc., but none of them is right. Finally, she has the perfect idea - her own sleepover under the stars with all of her friends and their pets. It's a sweet friendship story.

4 Stars


Ada Twist Scientist by Andrea Beaty (ages 6-10)

Ada is a very curiuos girl. She asks loads of questions using why, what, and who, and she's trying to solve the question of a mysterious smell. Her parents get annoyed with her, but she doesn't give up. She's a determined young scientist. I really enjoy this whole series, and this book is no exception. It does a great job of explaining the scientific method along with a very amusing, rhyming story.

4 Stars




Pirate's Perfect Pet by Beth Ferry (ages 3-6)

Captain Crave is the perfect pirate captain - or so he thinks until he receives a message in a bottle from his mother. It contains a checklist for pirate captains, and Crave is missing the perfect pirate pet. He goes on a quest over land and sea to find the right pet. Can you guess what it is? This book is cute. I think kids will enjoy it, but it wasn't quite on the level with some of the other nominees.

3 Stars



Have you read any of these books? Did you nominate one of them?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Juvenile Pile: Cars & Beasts and Counting Skills

We got 2 new books in the mail last week. The new illustrated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets arrived on Tuesday afternoon, so we were able to start reading it and take it along on our trip last weekend. It's beautiful!


And then we had Dino-Racing waiting for us when we got home on Sunday. October 4th was a pretty great book release date for us.

Dino-Racing is Lisa Wheeler's latest book in the Dino Sports series. I pre-ordered it because Christopher loves racing, and I knew that this book would be a new favorite. He read it to Jim right away, and then 2 nights later he read the first half to me. It has a lot of hard words with the dinosaur names and car terminology, so I read the second half to him. There are 3 races: drag-strip, off-road, and stock-car. It's another great installment in the series. I'm happy we own it.

4 stars


I didn't like When a Dragon Moves in Again as much as the first book. This book is about the little boys parents having a new baby. The boy has to be quiet and not play with the baby's things. He's mad, and he wants his parents to "send him back."

The dragon is still there causing mayhem, and the book is written in the same style. But it didn't have the same magic, even though the ending is cute. Maybe it's because we never had to deal with a new baby in our house - since Christopher's an only child.

3 stars


The Penny Pot is part of the MathStart series, which I read about recently. It's a cute story that incorporates counting money. A little girl really wants to get her face painted at the school carnival, but she doesn't have enough money. The art teacher has a "penny pot" available at the face painting tent. When kids have extra pennies, they add them to the pot, and eventually the girl has enough money to get her face painted. It's fun, and I loved the math.

4 stars


Christopher and I read Who Would Win? Tarantula vs. Scorpion and totally creeped ourselves out. We were already grossed out by the giant spider facts and the scorpion babies, and then I accidentally brushed his leg with my hand, and he screamed and jumped. Then I laughed at him, and he started crying. It was hilarious.

The book is pretty cool, just like the others in the series, but it was a little too creepy-crawly for us I guess. The fight in this book was pretty cool. We both correctly predicted the winner.

4 stars


Monster Trucks didn't make the cut for my 8 Great Halloween Picture Books list, mainly because I could not figure out what was supposed to have happened at the end. The book is a monster truck race with an unexpected winner. Each truck is a different monster - Frankenstein, a vampire, a ghost, a werewolf, etc. The characters are cute, and the text was easy enough for Christopher to read. But it was just too confusing at the end. Has anyone read this? Please explain the ending to me.

3 stars

Then of course we read some additional books in the Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot series.

Christopher read the entire Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Voodoo Vultures from Venus last Thursday evening while my mother, my sister, and I were eating dinner. It was hard to follow completely because I wasn't able to read over his shoulder, but he was really into it, and it seemed like another really fun story. All of these books follow the same basic plot: an evil animal from another planet is trying to take over Earth, and he's created some sort of villainous monster to help him. The monsters and the Mighty Robot have a fight - in flip-o-rama. They're so fun.

5 stars



Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Mecha-Monkeys from Mars was a little different than the others. Ricky and his robot are skateboarding at the beginning, and the robot uses his parents' car and destroys it. Ricky is supposed to find a way to pay his parents back. After the classic fighting the bad guy stuff, Ricky is able to get a flying mini-van from the government for helping save the world. It's pretty cute.

Christopher read this one while driving to my sister's house and while we were staying there, so he was able to read some to his cousin, Andy, who was interested in the series first. That was pretty fun.

5 stars


Christopher struggled a bit with Ricky Ricotta's Mighty Robot vs. the Jurassic Jackrabbits from Jupiter. I don't know if he's just gotten burned out on the series or if he just didn't like this book as much. Last night I finally finished the last couple of chapter thinking we could just move on to another book or the next one in the series. He enjoyed listening to it, and he did read the flip-o-rama fight. He enjoys that part of each book the most, especially when the robot does his victory dance. Maybe we'll take a little break for a week or so and then try the next book. We'll see.

4 stars



What did your family read this week?


On the blog last year...

Book Review: Carry On (YA)