Check out our newest book reviews!
Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact
by Jennifer Swanson (National Geographic Kids) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a fascinating book for those with hungry minds. It’s filled with amazing facts and fun
experiments, along with the cool realization that exploring the heights of outer space and the depths of the dark blue sea have a lot in common. The photography heightens the interest level and encourages learning.
Lindie Lou Adventure Series
by Jeanne Bender, Kate Willows (Pina Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This cute series follows a sweet little puppy named Lindie Lou through her adventures. Starting out in the happy home where she was born, we see the puppies grow and get ready for their new forever homes. Each book is a new adventure, whether it’s a door left open, a fast ride in a truck, or flying high on an airplane, and each includes valuable lessons Lindie Lou must learn. This adorable puppy will have children eager to follow her in each new setting. Great introduction for young readers into chapter books and the concept of a series.
A Werewolf Named Oliver James
by Nicholas John Frith (Alison Green Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a cute story of self-actualization and belonging. No matter what perceptions or rejections may come from the outside, home is a place of understanding. When Oliver suddenly comes into the fullness of his identity as a werewolf, it is met with startling reactions from those around him. As he heads home wondering how he will ever explain his abrupt transformation, he arrives to find no explanation is needed. Home is a place of acceptance and inclusion.
I Am the Rain
by John Paterson (Dawn Publications) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Captivating! From the onset, its words compel. An unseen force pushing you forward with an irresistible effect. A voice leading deeper into its identity, until you feel a living connection in its cycle. What a great way to enjoy science, and learn the amazing cycle of water!
by Anna Kang, Christopher Weyant (Two Lions) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is truly a delightfully creative way to learn respect, and a clever way to find the importance of each individual to the corporate whole. School supplies each provide a unique quality to a task, and Eraser begins to doubt her contribution. Everyone can add to the project, but her job is only to remove things. This cute story reminds us that everyone has value, whether it’s completing a school project, or rounding out the joys of family life.
The Big Umbrella
by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates (S&S/Paula Wiseman Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Rainy days bring warm and snuggly thoughts. And what better way to describe an umbrella. It waits quietly at the door until it’s needed, then opens wide and gathers you in. This sweet depiction of kindness falls upon us as gently as the rain.
Marigold & Daisy
by Andrea Zuill (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Sibling rivalry goes back to the second child ever born in time. We can never exhaust its content. There is a story to tell in the voice of every second, and third, and fourth, and so on and so on. Every family will store such tales upon its bookshelves. Zuill’s adorable graphics will enliven the reading experience of every non-firstborn. Simple and delightful!
Rosie the Tarantula: A True Adventure in Chicago’s Field Museum
by Katie Macnamara, Peggy Macnamara (Northwestern University Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago was founded in 1893, and is one of the largest museums of its kind in the world. Along with millions of artifacts and preserved specimens, it also houses many live creatures as well. Rosie is numbered among these live creatures. In 2011, Rosie snuck off the third floor where she lived, and took a fascinating tour of the museum. Her discoveries lasted a year, and upon her return, inspired this story. Its soft, almost poetic flow, narrates her amazing adventure.
A Home For Leo
by Vin Vogel (Two Lions) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Leo finds himself caught between two really different worlds, and two loving families. Loving both, Leo also feels a bit lonely in both. Is there a remedy, a true joy for all? Today, in a world of diversity, many find themselves in such a place—multiple cultures, diverse languages, extended families. We love it all, but sometimes it can press on our emotions. Sometimes, we may find ourselves wondering where we truly belong. There are many helpful ways to find our own personal wholeness in such diversified settings, and Leo finds his.
Friends Stick Together
by Hannah E. Harrison (Dial Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The artwork alone makes this a truly enjoyable reading experience, but the storyline’s added depth of heart, and practical wisdom makes the purchase well worth the money. I think we all have run across those larger-than-life folks who press hard on the annoyance button, and at the same time, our world would truly be off kilter without them.
Sticks ‘n Stones ‘n Dinosaur Bones
by Ted Enik, G.F. Newland (Schiffer) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is truly history made fun. The whimsical rhyme turns man’s folly to laughable learning. Greed and misguided ambition are sneaky culprits that can disrupt the best of times. Competition between Edward Drinker Cope of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia, and O. Charles Marsh of the Peabody Museum of Natural History at Yale stirred quite a Bone War! Each paleontologist used less than ethical means to outdo the other, yet brought to the public the wonder of dinosaurs. The illustrations by G.F. Newland complement the great text so wonderfully, that it is a most entertaining lesson in (pre)historical events!
by Rebecka Sharpe Shelberg, Andrea Edmonds (EK Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Though there is a sweet sadness that flows lightly through this book, it brings us to a gentle reality that we all share heartache and loss. Though we may all look different, come from many different places, and seem less than engaging, once we dare to reach, to touch and be touched, a common thread can tie such sweet bonds. This is a sweet reminder to not judge harshly. To take a moment and engage that troublesome person. We might find they are carrying a burden we understand quite well, and sharing it may lighten both our loads.
Sky’s Amazing Dream
by Mark Stevens, Carol Stevens (CreateSpace) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Who says imagination is only for kids? Sky, a beautiful Golden Retriever, has some pretty big dreams of his own. Mark Stevens is a bestselling author and the very proud daddy to Sky, and he enjoys sharing his wonderful adventures. Though Sky’s dreams lead him to great success, he finds being home with those he loves best, and helping others, is the greatest adventure of all.
Neema’s Reason to Smile
by Patricia Newman, Mehrdokht Amini (Lightswitch Learning) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Brightly-colored illustrations by Mehrdokht Amini beautifully highlight the poignant story found within Neema’s Reason to Smile. While following the pages of this Kenyan tale, readers will transcend to young Neema’s journey through her life and witness her desire to attend a local school near her village. Saving each coin earned through peddling fruit, young Neema defines the perfect example of hard work and determination. Everyone should own a dream basket like Neema, and thanks to the useful appendix included with this empowering tale, teachers, parents, and students alike can follow the directions to create their own. Equipped with Depth of Knowledge questions, a handy glossary, and real-life dreams of Kenyan students, Patricia Newman inspires readers to dream and reach goals while emphasizing the necessity of education as a key to unlocking a world of opportunities.
by Jenni Desmond (Walker Books Ltd) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Albert’s Tree is a soft, fuzzy tale that young readers will be sure to love. Spring awakens Albert the bear from his slumber, making him want to seek out his favorite tree. As he settles into his favorite comfortable spot on the branches, a surprise startles the huggable, lovable bear. Continuing through the playful story are adorable forest animals helping to solve the mystery in question. Illustrations mesh perfectly to add both humor and sweetness to the tale. Easily destined to be a new favorite, readers will learn how the beauty of friendship can evolve in the most surprising ways.
Hazel and Twig: The Birthday Fortune
by Brenna Burns Yu (Candlewick) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Hazel and Twig: The Birthday Fortune is a delightful tale which incorporates Korean words and delicately illustrated characters to introduce first birthday customs for the Korean culture. Family bonds between young siblings play an important role in birthday preparations for young Twig. Along with reading for the pure enjoyment of taking in a beautiful story, this book serves as a helpful tool in discussing family and cultural traditions. Author and illustrator Brenna Burns Yu has many reasons to celebrate; this delightful birthday tale is both beautifully written and illustrated and will surely leave a lasting impact on readers.
What’s on Your Plate? Exploring the World of Food
by Whitney Stewart, Christiane Engel (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
A picture, geography, and cookbook all in one, I love everything about it. Starting with the sneak peek pictures of the world map and children enjoying dishes all across the seven continents, we are then transported to special countries, including Morocco, Brazil, Italy, Spain and more. Each page gives the reader a synopsis of the food and general culture of that country. The recipes look delicious and easy to prepare. I’m sure that after reading this beautiful book, parents and children will quickly travel to the kitchen.
Better Together: A Book of Family
by Barbara Joosse, Anneke Lisberg, Jared Schorr (Abrams Appleseed) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Family and friends fulfill our lives in so many ways and this sweet story celebrates these special
relationships between animals. Better Together appeals to kinesthetic animal lovers who will appreciate the sturdy open-the-flap pages that, when peeled back, reveal the family coming together in various scenarios (feeling lonely, scared, hungry). I like the inclusion of animals that are not your typical animal characters in books—zebras, meerkats, bats, and crows. A nice discussion for some older readers as to why the author included those families, and also a fun extension project would be to research other animals that have a tight family bond! The focus throughout this colorful and lovely illustrated story was clearly how much we are all better when we’re together.
This Zoo is Not for You
by Ross Collins (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
This sentimental story (sprinkled with some silly) starts off with a little platypus approaching the zoo gates, only to be shunned by some snooty flamingoes, entitled chameleons, dismissive pandas, and rude elephants. It’s hard not to feel sad for the platypus, but the author keeps the rhyming text fresh and readers will quickly catch on to the repetitive phrase “this zoo is not for you.” Fortunately, the animals quickly realize how rude they were and then discover an envelope the platypus left behind! Forgiveness and fun are at the heart of the story along with the powerful message … kindness matters more than anything and everyone deserves a chance at friendship.
Remy Sneakers and the Lost Treasure
by Kevin Sherry (Scholastic) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Remy Sneakers and the Lost Treasure is a fast-paced, fun cartoon book. Remy’s house gets broken into and his grandma’s journal gets stolen. That was his most important family heirloom, the journal of the Raccoon family. Remy and his critter crew set out to find the thief. Will they find the journal? Read the book to find out!
Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol: The Haunted House Next Door
by Andres Miedoso, Victor Rivas (Little Simon) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
This is an entertaining, adventurous book series. If you’re a kid or an adult, you can relate to this book because everyone has a friend who’s afraid of everything. The big difference is that the other friend, Desmond Cole, is a fearless 8-year-old who patrol’s Kersville for ghosts, monsters, and spirits. And Andres Miedoso, his new best friend is determined to go everywhere with Desmond, but he’s afraid of everything. By the way, Andres Miedoso is also the author of this book series. You might want to read up on him to see if he actually is afraid of everything!
Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School
by Julie Falatko, Colin Jack (Scholastic) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Sassy and Waldo are happy dogs who belong to their young master, Stewart, but when Stewart leaves for school, they fear that he may be heading to danger. Sassy climbs onto Waldo’s shoulders as they disguise themselves as a human by wearing a trench coat, then sneak into the school where they pass as the new kid. They’ve practiced speaking “human” and everyone but Stewart believes they are. It is up to Stewart to convince his beloved pets that he is safe and happy in school. I found the illustrations most comedic and entertaining. Younger readers will just love the escapades of these two loyal pooches. A fun read for any child.
The Disappearing Spoon
by Sam Kean (Back Bay Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
This science-based book makes learning about the Periodic Table actually fun. The author takes the huge task of learning about elements and what’s not an element and breaks it all down into manageable, understandable bits. A complete lesson, he informs readers on how the Greeks named the elements and includes the Periodic Table of Elements, an exciting glossary, and a helpful Index. This book was fun to read and I believe it will present this subject in a way that readers will enjoy learning. I also see it igniting the spark of science in future chemists, physicists, and other scientists.
My Year in the Middle
by Lila Quintero Weaver (Candlewick) Reviewer: Diana Perry
In a racially-polarized sixth-grade classroom in 1970 Alabama, Lu’s talent for running track makes her a new best friend—and tests her mettle as she navigates the school’s social cliques. Some say blacks and whites shouldn’t mix and others say we’re all the same race: human. Having just moved from Argentina, Lu feels stuck in the middle and wishes to remain invisible but she realizes she must make her stand. Teenage life is hard enough as it is, but Lu has more than most in this coming of age story. Kids will relate to her and root for her.
Rock Collecting for Kids: An Introduction to Geology
by Dan R. Lynch (Adventure Publications) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Being an avid rock collector myself, I can attest that Mr. Lynch knows his subject matter. This book includes great examples of rocks and minerals, complete instructions to teach young collectors what to take, how to be safe, where to look, and even how rocks and minerals are formed. A really fun read and a great guidebook for children to use when rock collecting. The glossary includes all kinds of terminology that will leave any reader feeling like a junior geologist.
by Joanne Rocklin, Lucy Knisley (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Diana Perry
This is the most charming example of a perfect big sister—Penelope. The book is filled with heartwarming daily letters from Penelope to her unborn sibling. She shares the trials and tribulations of being a fifth-grader and asks little questions about her sibling’s development, which leads to big questions about the world around her (like if and when her moms are ever going to get married “for real”). I was touched and found myself smiling through each page. The perfect book for any child who either is or will soon be a big brother or sister.
The Boy Who Went Magic
by A. P. Winter (Chicken House) Reviewer: Diana Perry
The mages of Ferenor were outlawed and destroyed by the royal family centuries ago for performing incredible feats and powering wondrous machines with their magic, and the world is a much duller place. Bert is a young boy who’s lived in an orphanage longer than he can remember, with no friends and a most ordinary life. He’s told that magic is just a myth. But then a chain of strange and inexplicable mishaps causes Bert’s life to spiral out of control. This book is indeed a magical adventure with many mysteries. Young readers will be caught up in all the action and suspense of this page-turner.
by Kelly Yang (Arthur A. Levine Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Ten-year-old Mia Tang lives in the motel where her parents work. They clean the rooms and she works the front desk. The owner is a horrible man who cheats them constantly. Mia makes a new friend, Lupe, and through their daily lives, they reveal to young readers how America can be the best and the worst place for a poor immigrant to be. Mia comes up with an idea that will not only help immigrants understand English phrases, but pulls many together in a plan to get them all out of poverty. A must-read.
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