December Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

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Decked Out for Christmas
by Ethan Long (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
It’s Christmas time and Santa’s little mice helpers are packing his sleigh. This brightly illustrated book will keep the young readers engaged. Each page is a new item that they are packing into Santa’s sleigh. They make candy cane skis and the star is made of cheese. Don’t forget the snacks, sunglasses, and a winter favorite of hot chocolate. Christmas time is always an exciting time for little children and this beautiful story will only add to the excitement of that special day. (board book)

My Little Gifts: A Book of Sharing
by Jo Witek, Christine Roussey (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
This holiday book is dedicated to the concepts of sharing from the heart. It begins with opening presents and the issue of sharing a new gift. The girls are soon comforted by their father and given permission to share their new gift. What is the sweetest gift to share? Friendship! The best gifts of all are those that are handmade. Knowledge and imagination are also precious gifts that are shared. It doesn’t matter if a gift is big or small, fancy or plain, only that it comes from the heart. I highly recommend this book to teach the importance of giving to others. (board book)

Crash! Boom! A Math Tale
by Robie H. Harris, Chris Chatterton (Candlewick) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Little blue elephants? Adorable. Building blocks that have endless possibilities for counting and
constructing? A must-have for inquiring minds. Problem-solving and persevering when things don’t go the way you want them too? A life lesson for all of us. This story embraces all of these things as a little elephant tries to build a tower (as the reader counts along) only to keep crashing into it. He keeps going though and soon realizes that determination and a positive attitude can yield great results! (Ages 2-5)

Pip and Posy: The Christmas Tree
by Axel Scheffler (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Holidays are a great time of caring and friendship. Pip and Posy are no different. Together they enjoy bringing home a Christmas tree, and bake up delightful goodies to decorate it. But in the process, Pip forgets the meaning of it all and takes everything for himself. Posy finds all their efforts gone, and Pip is left with a bellyache. Can Posy’s kindness save the holiday, and can Pip recoup from his lapse of selfishness and once again enjoy the holiday together? It’s easy to get caught up in all the good stuff and forget the real purpose of sharing. I’m glad our friends Pip and Posy gave us a timely reminder. (Ages 2-5)

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Luna and the Moon Rabbit
by Camille Whitcher (Scribblers) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Hauntingly beautiful and powerfully quiet, Luna and the Moon Rabbit will take your breath away. Floating through Luna’s personal dreams and imagination, we escape to a world of
warm evening breezes and sparkling, star-filled skies. Grounded in the natural world and traditional Asian folklore, we are carried by the possibilities of giant ghostly rabbits and magical woodland scenery. Another bedtime must-have in my household. (Ages 3+)

Cuddly Critters for Little Geniuses
by Susan Patterson, James Patterson, Hsinping Pan (Jimmy Patterson) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
An amazing story and resource that will enrapture inquisitive minds and scintillate reading fingertips as they soak up information on fascinating, lesser-known animals of our beloved planet. Packed with illustrations that are bright and eye-catching, plus awesome facts and information about these rarities, readers will be enthralled with all of the unusual and exotic creatures that are described by dream team Susan and James Patterson. A must have for animal lovers of all ages. (Ages 3-6)

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All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah
by Emily Jenkins, Paul O. Zelinsky (Schwartz & Wade) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Based on the classic books by Sydney Taylor, this is a perfect holiday story that highlights Hanukkah traditions shared by a full house of sisters and their parents. Readers will feel like they are welcomed guests as preparations for the first night are made. Equipped with a glossary of Yiddish terms, reference notes from both author and illustrator, and a link for additional information, this children’s story not only tells a special tale, but also serves as a handy reference as well. (Ages 3-7)

King Ben and Sir Rhino
by Eric Sailer (Two Lions) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Ben is King, and kings should be able to do as they please, right? Rhino is his most loyal subject, and subjects should obey the King, right? Maybe being King isn’t all about getting your way after all … a light story of friendship, sharing, and respect. (Ages 3-7)

Coming Home
by Michael Morpurgo, Kerry Hyndman (Candlewick) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This poetic tale leads us on an amazing journey. Tradition, imprinted instinct, habit or pattern, whatever it is that drives a heart on to its desired end, is powerful! It pushes, pulls, and encourages in the face of defeat. It whispers and inspires uplifting his wings. This little bird cannot rest until he is home again. (Ages 3-7)

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If You Ever Want to Bring a Pirate to Meet Santa, DON’T!
by Elise Parsley (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This New York Times bestselling series brings us a holiday heads-up! Just in case it has ever run across your mind that it might be fun to take a pirate to see Santa this holiday, Magnolia says DON’T. After all, they are on the Naughty List. This fun-loving hilarity is multiplied by its great illustrations. Sure to bring some Christmas cheer! (Ages 4-7)

Merry Myrrh, the Christmas Bat
by Regan W.H. Macaulay, Alex Zgud (Guardian Angel Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Christmas joy fills the air with a life all its own. Every year it arrives with promises of wonder, whispers of hope, and a sense of well-being for any who are open to it, whether man, or beast, or even a family of little brown barn bats. Animals develop habits and patterns in their lives much like we do. Well, certainly this sweet little family of bats does! They close every year with the enchantment of Christmas lights, smells, and happy feelings, to keep them warm through
their winter hibernation. The author and illustrator bring delightful animation, and a new awareness to these charming barn bats and their plight. More can be learned, and even help offered in preserving these little creatures. (Ages 4-7)

My Storee
by Paul Russell, Aska (EK Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a great book for adults and children alike! Creativity doesn’t seem to fall in neatly metered out portions, but dips and pours into any and all open receptacles. It stirs, tumbling into our thoughts, tickling our emotions, until it bursts boldly into our ideas, and there finds rest in our hands. Sometimes, that’s right where it ends. The young boy in our story has found himself in this very place. Can he press past perfection, ignore the snorts of limitation, and soar free with imagination? This is truly a voice of encouragement, and a reminder to those who lead. (Ages 4-7)

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It’s Not Hansel and Gretel
by Josh Funk, Edwardian Taylor (Two Lions) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is not your average, run-of-the mill fairy tale. And, even though the narrator has hilariously lost control of his story, this snicker and giggle tale is sure to delight. It’s time for these wacky siblings to take their fairy tale into their own hands. So sit back and enjoy the gingerbread! (Ages 4-8)

The Boy and the Giant
by David Litchfield (Abrams Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
There is a secret giant in Gableview who has hands the size of tabletops, legs as long as drainpipes, and feet as big as rowing boats. But little Billy thinks the Giant is just a tall tale that his granddad likes to tell. This is a delightful book all the way around. Its construction is appealing, its color scheme is inviting, and its message of acceptance is warm and much needed today. A truly great gift choice for the coming holidays. (Ages 4-8)

The Broken Ornament
by Tony DiTerlizzi (Simon & Schuster) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
The Broken Ornament is a heartwarming children’s book about finding the magic of Christmas and the spirit of giving. What will become of Jack’s wish for the best Christmas ever? Read along as award-winning author and illustrator Tony DiTerlizzi unveils a tale of holiday enchantment. This story is sure to be a treasured favorite for years to come. (Ages 4-8)

Reindolphins: A Christmas Tale
by Kevin Brougher, Lisa Santa Cruz (Missing Piece Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The beautiful artwork in this book creates a warm feeling of an old-time Christmas, with a very modern storyline. With all the world waiting in excited expectation for Santa’s arrival, what ever would he do if his reindeer came up too sick for their historic flight? With only three days till Christmas, can he find an adequate replacement? Filled with cuteness and giggles we watch as all the beasts and critters apply. This is a great story of flexibility, and how change and disappointment can often set us up for new opportunities we never imagined. (Ages 4-12)

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Hanukkah Hamster
by Michelle Markel, André Ceolin (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
The holiday was so lonely for Edgar the cabdriver until a lost hamster appears in his cab. Author Michelle Markel tells the story of Hanukkah Hamster through this circumstantial pairing as illustrator André Ceolin portrays the warmth of Edgar’s heart and the willingness he has to care for this lost pet. Readers will delight in this holiday tale of celebrating Hanukkah with a special friend who becomes like family. (Ages 5-7)

Reggie, The Burrowing Owl
by Thomas J. Wood, Derrick J. Wood (Primedia eLaunch LLC) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a fun narrative of a family’s wonderful experience in discovering a lost little Burrowing Owl. This amazing little creature drew this large family’s heart into one united beat, and captures the reader’s as well. A fun family read! (Ages 5-12)

A Flicker of Hope
by Julia Cook, MacKenzie Haley (National Center for Youth Issues) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a much-needed book! We are taught, either by silence or action, that to admit lack or need is a weakness. Sometimes the dark clouds overhead seem too heavy and you feel like giving up. Little candle knows all about this. Bad grades, blasted on social media, worried about making the team, and wondering who her real friends are make things hard to deal with. The author and illustrator beautifully remind us of our humanity, and the need for connection to shine. (Ages 5-12)

Miranda and Maude: The Princess and the Absolutely Not a Princess
by Emma Wunsch, Jessika von Innerebner (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
This is a story about how people can come from completely different worlds, perspectives, and values, but still become friends once they accept their differences and have a basic understanding of each other. Miranda is a snobbish, snooty princess and Maude is a tomboy and extroverted activist who likes chickens and hard-boiled eggs. They start out as enemies, but find common ground and become friends. (Ages 7-10)

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The Castle in the Mist
by Amy Ephron (Philomel Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Tess and her brother, Max, are sent for the summer to their aunt’s sleepy village in the English countryside, where excitement is as rare as a good wi-fi signal. So when Tess stumbles upon an old brass key that unlocks an ornately carved gate, attached to a strangely invisible wall, she jumps at the chance for adventure. And the world beyond the gate doesn’t disappoint. This story book has it all—magic, danger, and many mysteries to solve. Middle-grade readers won’t be able to put it down. (Ages 8-12)

Carnival Magic
by Amy Ephron (Philomel Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Amy Ephron returns with a companion novel to The Castle in the Mist and creates a magical tale filled with adventure, mystery, fantasy, and fun as Tess and Max are back in England for another summer with their Aunt Evie—and they’re incredibly excited about the travelling carnival that’s come to town. This story hits the ground running from the first page and doesn’t slow down until the end. A treasure with surprises at every turn! (Ages 8-12)

Wrath of the Dragon King (Dragonwatch)
by Brandon Mull (Shadow Mountain Publishing). Reviewer: Macaulay Smith, age 7
Wrath of the Dragon King is an awesome book! Wyrmroost is in trouble! Celebrant, king of dragons, and his new evil ally, Ronodin, the dark unicorn, are out to get the Dominion Stone—a powerful relic. Kendra and Seth set out on an adventure to find brave creatures in Wyrmroost to help protect the world from Celebrant and his evil ways. I liked this book because of all of the dragons and adventure! If you like books about mythical creatures, adventure, friendship, and war, too, then this is the book for you! (Ages 8-12)

You Go First
by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and 11-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a 1,000 miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—but the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch. Over the course of a week, Charlotte and Ben—online friends connected only by a Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways, as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. This book will help any young reader who is having a rough time in their life as it encourages them to talk it out with a friend and it shows that bad things can happen—it’s how you get through it that counts. (Ages 8-12)

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Speechless
by Adam P. Schmitt (Candlewick) Reviewer: Diana Perry
As if being stuffed into last year’s dress pants at his cousin’s wake weren’t uncomfortable enough, 13-year-old Jimmy has just learned that he has to say a few words at the funeral the next day. What could he possibly say about his cousin, who ruined everything they did? As Jimmy attempts to navigate the odd social norms of the wake, he draws on humor, heartfelt concern, and a good deal of angst while racking his brain and his memory for a decent and meaningful memory to share. But it’s not until faced with a microphone that the realization finally hits him: it’s not the words that are spoken that matter the most, but those that are truly heard. A must-read for kids and adults. (Ages 9-12)

Bluecrowne: A Greenglass House Story
by Kate Milford (Clarion Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Lucy Bluecrowne is beginning a new life ashore with her stepmother and half brother, though she’s certain the only place she’ll ever belong is with her father on a ship of war as part of the crew. She doesn’t care that living in a house is safer and the proper place for a 12-year-old girl; it’s boring. But then two nefarious strangers identify her little brother as the pyrotechnical prodigy they need to enact an evil plan, and it will take all Lucy’s fighting instincts to keep her family together. What a fun and adventurous book! Young readers will thrill with every discovery as they turn the pages. There are many twists and turns to this magnificent story plot. (Ages 10-12)

Path to the Stars: My Journey from Girl Scout to Rocket Scientist
by Sylvia Acevedo (Clarion Books) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
This is an inspiring book for kids, especially girls, women, and all people. What I loved about the book was that regardless of Sylvia Acevedo’s problems, she always was fiercely determined to improve herself. She didn’t give herself an excuse for not doing something because she grew up in a traditional Mexican-American family not speaking English, she instead learned English. She wasn’t great at making friends, but with the help of what she learned at Girl Scouts, she applied to her life and she succeeded and excelled, from girl scout to Stanford University to becoming a rocket scientist. (Ages 10-12)

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Game Changer
by Tommy Greenwald (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Thirteen-year-old Teddy Youngblood is in a coma fighting for his life after an unspecified football injury at training camp. His family and friends flock to his bedside to support his recovery—and to discuss the events leading up to the tragic accident. Was this an inevitable result of playing a violent sport, or was something more sinister happening on the field that day? A must-read for any parent, coach, or young football player. (Ages 10-14)

 

 

To submit your book for review, email cristy@storymonsters.com for submission guidelines.

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November Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

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What If Dinosaurs Were Pink?
by Jarrett Whitlow, Daniela Dogliani (Warren Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Many great discoveries may have started with those small, but powerful words, “What if?” They are words that provoke thought, stir imagination, and often push us to greatness. Or, maybe just provide us with moments to giggle and wonder. What If Dinosaurs Were Pink? opens possibilities, and encourages us to go beyond the common and wonder. (Ages 2-8)

Made For Me
by Zack Bush, Gregorio De Lauretis (Familius) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This tremendously sweet book will fill every empty space it finds. Love and a sense of belonging flow on every rhythmic word like a cool brook satisfies on a warm summer day. Illustrations by De Lauretis bring this loving father’s heart into full vivid view. It’s simply delightful. The stamp on the inside cover is a very special touch. (Ages 3-5)

The Best Mother
by C. M. Surrisi, Diane Goode (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Maxine is convinced that the problem is with her mother. The answer is, of course, to find a new mom—one who doesn’t bother her with hair brushing and would let her wear her slippers in the snow. But as she interviews other moms for the position, a funny thing starts to happen … she realizes that her mom just might be the best one after all. Loveable read for all ages. (Ages 3-7)

Nanna’s Button Tin
by Dianne Wolfer, Heather Potter (Candlewick) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Life is captured in moments and held in stories. And who better than Grandma to rehearse them through time? Nanna’s special button tin holds treasures from that past that just may hold the answer to today’s problem. The illustrations of Heather Potter are as heartwarming as the tale of this child and her grandma, sorting through memories and tokens past to refresh childhood treasures of the present. Bonding at its best! (Ages 4-6)

Hello, Monster!
by Clémentine Beauvais, Maisie Paradise Shearring (Thames & Hudson) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a great exercise of imagination! Its creativity and delightful rambling are sure to be a winner. It also carries a humorous and enlightening perspective of child vs. adult playground meetings. It’s quite an entertaining tale. (Ages 4-7)

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Thank You, Omu!
by Oge Mora (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
A giving heart is never left lacking. Omu’s stew smells so good! As it cooks, the wonderful aroma fills the air and brings many in search of a taste. Omu’s preparation for her own dinner brings much pleasure to a parade of visitors, leaving her big pot empty at dinnertime. However, as she sits at her table, another knock comes, and all her guests return bearing ample treats to share. A heartwarming story of sharing and community. (Ages 4-7)

Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant Of Surprise
by David Ezra Stein (Candlewick) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This story is sure to delight ALL its readers! Especially those who have held such wonderfully unforgettable conversations with a child. Chicken has misunderstood her teacher’s comment, “Every good story has an element of surprise,” and she searches for him with pure joy as Papa reads. The illustrations are fun and lively. Whatever stage of life we may occupy, this book is sure to delight! (Ages 4-8)

Lester, The Scared Little Leaf
by Nina Gardner (Certa Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Letting go and fear of the unknown can have crippling effects. Fall has arrived with all its beauty and changes. Chuckles of splendor can be heard in the air as leaves let go of their tree and soar in the breeze. But, Lester clings tighter to his branch with a fear of falling. What if he doesn’t like it on the ground? His friends assure him of the joy that’s ahead of him as he watches them sail with laughter filling the air. Can Lester let go of the life he knows so well? Can he find the excitement of change? This is a great confidence-builder as we follow this tender leaf into the exhilaration of newness. (Ages 4-8)

Super Manny Stands Up!
by Kelly DiPucchio, Stephanie Graegin (Atheneum Books) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Author Kelly DiPucchio and illustrator Stephanie Graegin unveil their brilliant picture book with a super-sized lesson, showing a raccoon that remembers he is strong, brave, and powerful at just the right moment. Super Manny Stands Up! is written to let all readers know that they have their own superpower within themselves. Rather than being a bystander when seeing injustice, they can don their invisible cape like Manny the raccoon and remind themselves that their voice can make a huge difference in a difficult situation. This story is a reminder that one person can make a world of difference in the lives of others. (Ages 4-8)

I Love Kisses
by Sheryl McFarlane, Brenna Vaughan (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Sheryl McFarlane and Brenna Vaughan shower readers with affection with their story I Love Kisses. This adorable picture book is a sweet story to read with a little one. Kisses from our pets included, youngsters will hear about lots of different kinds of kisses from the ones who love them. Children can gift this book to a parent or grandparent as a reminder that they appreciate having them in their lives. (Ages 4-8)

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My Grandfather’s War
by Glyn Harper, Jenny Cooper (EK Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This story bridges the chasm that separates young and old, and reminds us of the precious sacrifices that secure our freedom, and the aftermath of war. As a young girl innocently seeks answers to her grandfather’s grief, she unknowingly opens old wounds and discovers his sadness is a legacy of the Vietnam War and his experiences there. This is a sensitive exploration of the lingering cost of war and of the PTSD so many returned servicemen experience. (Ages 4-8)

A Tuba Christmas
by Helen L. Wilbur, Mary Reaves Uhles (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
There is so much goodness packed in these pages. My delight doesn’t know which one to address. The empowerment of Ava’s self-declaration, the hardships she must overcome to achieve it, the pure joy of success, or the history of a tuba concert and the fun and amazing facts about the tuba itself? There is just so much to enjoy in the story. And the illustrations are just as fun and lively as the content they express. (Ages 5-7)

Hannah’s Tall Order: An A to Z Sandwich
by Linda Vander Heyden, Kayla Harren (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Hannah’s Tall Order is delicious fun for parents and children alike! Adorable illustrations pull you through the sing-song storytelling at a comfortable pace while your audience is entranced by its goofy details. The mess, the wear and tear on poor Mr. McDougal, and the craziness of the food combinations are wonderfully amusing. This is among my top picks for read-aloud books this school year! (Ages 5-7)

The Things That I Love about Trees
by Chris Butterworth, Charlotte Voake (Candlewick) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Teachers rejoice! Here is a beautiful, fun, and factual book about trees that will be a treasured addition to an art or science room. From spring to winter, The Things I Love about Trees places quiet little tree factoids along the storyline for an information double dose, cleverly wrapped in soft illustration. This showcase of buds to bark makes a wonderful gift for nature lovers of any age. (Ages 5-8)

The Lying King
by Alex Beard (Greenleaf Book Group Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a quality book all the way around. Its large size, bright color, and solid binding gives an assurance it will be around for a while. And its timeless tale we’ll never outgrow. Foundation blocks that build successful lives are often found in childhood stories. This simple, well-rounded story gives full view to the multilayered effects and outcomes of liars, bullies, and those who would misuse privilege and authority, while enforcing the strength of unity sufficient to overthrow it. (Ages 6-9)

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The Boy Who Sprouted Antlers
by John Yeoman, Quentin Blake (Thames & Hudson) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This extravagantly fanciful tale brings two conflicting thoughts to mind with great hilarity. Anything is possible if you set your mind to it, but at the same time, be careful what you wish for! Great story for an encouraging good laugh! (Ages 6-9)

EZ and the Intangibles
by Bob Katz (Fitzroy Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Ethan “EZ” Zanay loves the sport of basketball and it’s really unfortunate he’s so darn bad at it. When he makes an embarrassing mistake in front of his teammates, EZ finally decides to call it quits. But he still clings to the fantasy that somehow, he might yet turn into that unheralded player who surprises everyone by coming through in the clutch. His best shot at a comeback is to specialize in those subtle moves and unseen maneuvers that don’t show up in the standard stat sheets. This story will inspire kids like Ethan, who don’t excel at sports and yet want to make their parents proud. I really love how Ethan found a great solution to make himself an important part of the team. (Ages 7-12)

Through the Barbed Wire (A Wild at Heart Mystery)
by Isabella Allen, Cynthia Meadows (Brown Books Kids) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This new mystery series will be rubbing elbows with some pretty elite writers in this genre. The author’s fresh approach to the story’s wild child heroine brings a fascinating appeal. We are welcomed in to explore the vastness of a sprawling land, and the heart of a young girl who loves it. She knows every inch of it, and every critter and creature she shares it with. It’s there where she feels most alive. And someone wants to take it from her. Can she find out whom? Can she save her land and preserve the beauty of her wildness? It’s worth the read to find out! (Ages 8-12)

The House with Chicken Legs
by Sophie Anderson (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Macaulay Smith, age 7
The House with Chicken Legs is one of the most creative books I have ever read! I can relate to the main character Marinka, even though she is 12 and I am only 7. Like me, Marinka is an only child so she does not have other kids at home to play with. Unlike me, her house has chicken legs that take her all over the world at a moment’s notice, which makes it pretty tough to make friends. In my family, we move every three years; Marinka sometimes moves three times a year! But when Marinka does finally get the chance to make a real-life friend, that is when the book really gets interesting! She must go on a mysterious journey into the afterlife to try and save her grandma, and she will need all the friends she has if she is going to succeed. If you like to use your imagination, then this is the book for you. (Ages 8-12)

The Third Mushroom
by Jennifer L. Holm (Random House) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
The Third Mushroom is a playful book that also teaches important life lessons. Ellie has a passion for science and convinces her grandpa Melvin (a famous scientist in a 14-year-old boy’s body) to do science experiments with her at the county fair. I really liked that the book includes Mellie’s Gallery of Scientists that gives you facts about notable scientists, what they achieved, invented, a little about their childhood as well as a quote. (Ages 8-12)

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Baking Class: 50 Fun Recipes Kids Will Love to Bake!
by Deanna F. Cook (Storey Publishing) Reviewers: Sherry and Jocelyn Hoffman
Baking Class is a complete compilation of over 50 child-friendly recipes equipped with stickers, stencils, and gift tags to encourage creativity. Step-by-step instruction with pictures and descriptions make this recipe book user-friendly, especially for beginners and visual learners. The setup is so welcoming, and the helpful advice incorporated throughout seems to elicit a feeling as if a good friend is right there walking the reader through each recipe. Deanna F. Cook has stirred up another delicious recipe of fun with this book. (Ages 8-12)

The Lotterys More or Less
by Emma Donoghue, Caroline Hadilaksono (Arthur A. Levine Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Sumac Lottery is the keeper of her family’s traditions—from Pow Wow to Holi, Carnival to Hogmanay, Sumac’s on guard to make sure that no Lottery celebration gets forgotten. But this winter all Sumac’s seasonal plans go awry when a Brazilian visitor overstays his welcome. A terrible ice storm grounds all flights, so one of her dads and her favorite brother can’t make it home from India. Can Sumac hang on to the spirit of the season, even if nothing is going like a Lottery holiday should? This is a great lesson that shows sometimes you must try many ideas before you finally find the one that solves your problem. Kids will love this story. (Ages 8-12)

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Short & Skinny
by Mark Tatulli (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Diana Perry
As a middle schooler, Mark finds himself on the smaller side of the physical spectrum and it has really wreaked havoc on his confidence. So to end his bullying woes and get the girl—or at least the confidence to talk to the girl—he starts to explore bulking up by way of the miracle cures in the backs of his comic books. But his obsession with beefing up is soon derailed by a new obsession: Star Wars, the hottest thing to hit the summer of 1977. As he explores his creative outlets as well as his cures to body image woes, Mark sets out to make his own stamp on the film that he loves. This is a wonderful book to inspire kids who feel left out and long to fit in and feel special. It teaches that the answer to this dilemma is closer than you think. (Ages 9-12)

Freedom for Me: A Chinese Yankee
by Stacie Haas (Melody Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
As the Civil War rages, 15-year-old Thomas Beck longs to fight for his country. He’s underage, but his brother claims there’s another reason he can’t fight: There’s no such thing as a Chinese Yankee. Assumed a slave because of his odd appearance—including his traditional Chinese queue (long braid), Thomas soon discovers that giving battle with his regiment isn’t enough to shed the Chinese label from his Yankee status. It’s not until Thomas befriends a runaway slave and the war moves toward a pivotal moment in Gettysburg that he begins to understand the true meaning of freedom in America. Young readers need to know this story and how our country, once divided, became the strong nation it is today. (Ages 10+)

The Reckless Club
by Beth Vrabel (Running Kids Press) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
The Reckless Club is a book about five middle schoolers who spend their last day of summer before school starts volunteering at Northbrook Retirement Village as a punishment from their principal. This very diverse group includes Jason (the nobody), Lilith (the drama queen), Wes (the flirt), Ally (the athlete), and Rex (the rebel), who come together and learn a lot about compassion, the meaning of friendship, the aging process and how to get along. I really loved the letter from the principal in the front of the book as well as the letter from the five kids at the end. The Reckless Club is filled with heart and humor. (Ages 10-14)

Curse of the Komodo
by M. C. Berkhousen (Progressive Rising Phoenix Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Luke and Austin Brockway can’t seem to stop arguing. Luke says he’d rather have a grizzly bear for a brother and Austin would prefer a Komodo dragon. While on a school trip to the zoo, a violent storm creates chaos in the atmosphere and their wishes are granted! Luke can’t eat the frozen rats he gets for supper, and Austin is scared of his 700-pound roommates. A mean guard with a temper and a cattle prod adds to their misery. They soon learn that they are victims of an old family curse that can’t be undone until the next violent storm. Until then, they must help each other survive. This is the ultimate field trip nightmare ... and young readers will be most entertained. (Ages 10-14)

Intrigue in Istanbul: An Agnes Kelly Mystery Adventure
by Christine Keleny (CKBooks Publishing) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Set in 1961, during a time of the Cold War and space race. But that isn’t on 12-year-old Agnes’ radar. Her dad has died and during a trip with her grandmother to Istanbul, she accidentally finds out it was under “suspicious” circumstances, but that’s just the beginning. I really enjoyed the letter from Agnes that teaches readers definitions of many of the words and phrases used in the book. True to its title, this book was very intriguing. A great bedtime read. (Ages 10-14)

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Nate Expectations
by Tim Federle (Simon & Schuster) Reviewer: Diana Perry
When the news hits that E.T.: The Musical wasn’t nominated for a single Tony Award, the show closes, leaving Nate both out of luck and out of a job. And while Nate’s castmates are eager to move on, Nate knows it’s back to square one, also known as Jankburg, Pennsylvania. Where horror—aka high school—awaits. Desperate to turn his life from flop to fabulous, Nate takes on a huge freshman English project: He’s going to make a musical out of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. But he soon realizes the only thing harder than being on Broadway is being a freshman—especially when you’ve got a secret you’re desperate to sing out about. This story teaches young readers how to be problem solvers and to utilize their talents. A very entertaining book. (Ages 10-14)

Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend
by Cheryl Carpinello (Beyond Today Educator) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Guinevere and Cedwyn find themselves embroiled in a life-or-death struggle. Not only are they in danger, but so are the kids of Cadbury Castle. Renegades—foiled in their attempt to kidnap the princess—steal the children of Cadbury Castle to sell as slaves. Guinevere and Cedwyn vow to rescue the children, but a miscalculation puts them all in more danger. Will their courage be strong enough to survive, or will one make the ultimate sacrifice? This story has everything a young reader wants: action, adventure, tests of bravery and friendship, magic, and so many twists and turns. It is quite an adventure! (Ages 10-14)

 

To submit your book for review, email cristy@storymonsters.com for submission guidelines.

Story Monsters Ink October Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

Mrs. Mole, I’m Home!
by Jarvis (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Jarvis crafts a humorous tale in Mrs. Mole, I’m Home! After losing his pair of glasses, Mr. Mole cannot seem to find his way home. Time after time, he is mistaken as he burrows his way into some interesting situations. Equipped with a map and brilliant colors, young readers will surely dig this story. Used as a teaching tool, this laugh-out-loud story would be a great read aloud to discuss responsibility, map skills, and problem-solving. (Ages 2-5)

A Typically Random Extraordinary Day
by Patrick Enders, Barbara Counsil (Snowbelt Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Story time will surely take on laughter and a snort when this delightful, rhythmic story comes to an abrupt stop with a typically random silly thought. So often, we fail to keep our thoughts corralled to the end of a conversation, and we begin to jump ahead and anticipate what is to be said. Patrick Enders’ humor is light, fun, and very insightful. (Ages 3+)

We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands
by Rafael Lopez (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
A salute to the lives of all young people with rhythmic verse and repetitive emphasis on “we” and “our” encourages inclusive communities and the celebration of unity and diverse friendships all around the world. I bet you can’t read this book without singing! Its positive message and colorful illustrations are sure to delight. (Ages 3-5)

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Sammy’s Spooktacular Halloween
by Mike Petrik (Two Lions) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Diehard Halloweenies unite! Sammy is ready for next Halloween—starting November 1st! A fun story about a little boy in love with preparing for his family’s annual haunted house. Little ghosts and ghouls will love watching Sammy getting ready for next Halloween; that is, if his family can handle a full year of tricks! (Ages 3-7)

What If Everybody Said That?
by Ellen Javernick, Colleen Madden (Two Lions) Reviewer: Julianne Black
This is a great one for bullying awareness and kind campaigns at school or difficult talks at home. Why? Because there are many situations where it makes a bigger impact to see the consequences of one’s actions or, in this case, words. In What if Everybody Said That, not only do we see the remarks that are hurtful as examples of what not to say, but they are paired with possible consequences about how they make others feel or what impact negative words have on our surroundings. Javernick and Madden let you experience what it looks like to be on the other side of unkind words and it makes an impact. Powerful but not preachy, it’s a wonderful pro-kindness tool. (Ages 3-7)

That Bear Can’t Babysit
by Ruth Quayle, Alison Friend (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Ruth Quayle and Alison Friend create a delightful tale about a family of rabbits needing a babysitter for an evening. Bear answers the call to help Mr. and Mrs. Burrow and the rabbit family. The bunnies soon find out that Bear is not quite ready to take on the task of watching seven energetic bunnies. Test after test proves Bear’s inexperience, leaving the bunnies questioning his ability to babysit. However, eventually Bear captures their attention with his imaginative ship, much to the bunnies’ delight. Children will enjoy the colorful illustrations and humorous situations which are found in this hoppy tale. (Ages 3-7)

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The Prince and the Pee
by Greg Gormley, Chris Mould (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
You never know when those trying predicaments may just lead you to greatness. Prince Freddie is off to conquer a nasty dragon after a leisurely afternoon spent sipping lemonade. He isn’t far into his task before jostling upon his faithful steed makes him have to pee! Difficulties along the way make it impossible to relieve himself, until he thinks he will burst. This giggle-worthy tale will keep your little ones wiggling in their seats right to the end. It’s sure to be a pleaser. (Ages 3-7)

Big Brown Bear’s Cave
by Yuval Zommer (Templar) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
This book made me smile from start to finish. What a beautifully clever and fun concept to share the story of a bear looking for fulfillment, discovering lots of ‘stuff’ that he likes, only to realize that his cave really feels like home when he is with his family and friends. The underlying theme of material goods versus meaningful relationships is powerful, but gently and subtly reflected in the book’s sweet story and stunning illustrations. The setting of Bear’s cave, human homes, and backdrop of the forest is exquisite. A story that will linger with readers long after it has been shared. (Ages 3-7)

The Treasure of Pirate Frank
by Mal Peet, Elspeth Graham, Jez Tuya (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Treasures, pirates, and adventures? The Treasure of Pirate Frank combines these fascinating, engaging, and high interest topics in a colorful, special and unique tale that children will find absolutely enchanting as they follow a curious boy on his quest for gold. Snowy mountains, monkey filled forests, bullfrog packed swamps, and islands filled with spice are no match for this boy and his determination to find Pirate Frank’s gold! Readers will giggle as they discover who Pirate Frank really is. A great mentor text for cumulative tales. (Ages 3-7)

Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes
by Eva Chen, Derek Desierto (Feiwel and Friends) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Trying to fit into someone else’s shoes can often be clunky and awkward. Instead of making us feel cooler, it can pinch our own bedazzling flow. Juno Valentine discovers there are some truly amazing shoes out there. But she also learns that she could take something special from each one and make her own perfect fit. Illustrations by Desierto are spunky and fun! This is a great seed planted in the field of individual style. (Ages 4-6)

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No Frogs in School
by A. LaFaye, Églantine Ceulemans (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is sure to bring a silent smile to every parent who deals with a child who follows very closely to the strict meaning of words used while being instructed them. Bartholomew Botts loves his pets, and while doing his best to follow the teacher’s rules, he determines which pets are best to share. I found this story highly enjoyable as a mom and grandma. The illustrations by Ceulemans are truly fun and entertaining. (Ages 4-7)

Mixter Twizzle’s Breakfast
by Regan W.H. Macaulay, Wei Lu (Mirror World Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The eye-catching illustrations will capture and hold the audience, while its text tugs the heart and makes one think. A glimpse into careless, selfish behaviors can be clearly seen, while hope for recovery bursts onto the scene. Love may just be the soft little thing that can turn this mischievous imp from being so mean! This is a great story to build powerful foundations of kindness and empathy, while warding off selfish behavior. (Ages 4-7)

The Frightful Ride of Michael McMichael
by Bonny Becker, Mark Fearing (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The illustrations in this spooky tale are sure to send delightful shivers up and down every word read. A clever twist unfolds, and is sure to leave its reader howling with laughter. Remember, things are not always as they appear. (Ages 4-8)

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This is a Good Story
by Adam Lehrhaupt, Magali Le Huche (S&S/Paula Wiseman Books) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
There comes a time in an educator’s life when you find a treasure on the bookshelves that will be a definite game-changer in the classroom. This is destined to be that book. This tale teaches children the important parts of a fictional story while they are reading the storyline. What a novel idea! Teachers will appreciate this as a fun, educational read-aloud to introduce and teach literary terms like: hero, heroine, protagonist, antagonist, setting, conflict, plot, and climax. Together the author and illustrator brilliantly teach readers how to take a story from boring to extraordinary by adding depth to the details. A perfect addition to help young writers flourish and build upon their writing skills. (Ages 4-8)

The Very Last Castle
by Travis Jonker, Mark Pett (Abrams) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The pictures of this story captured me, so the words could work their magic. Bravery comes in packages both big and small. There is so much to digest in this simple story! I encourage you to get hold of it, devour it, and find the satisfaction in life it can avail. If we can look beyond opinions, rise above the fear of the different or unknown, what a treat we may find! (Ages 4-8)

Best Friends in the Universe
by Stephanie Watson, Le Uyen Pham (Orchard Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a delightfully realistic depiction of childhood friendship! Or maybe friendship in general. The illustrations are adorable and lively and bring forth the best of the text’s intentions. It’s a good learning tool in preparation for beginning friendships, and a perfect reminder of the joys of old ones. (Ages 4-8)

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The Greatest Adventure
by Tony Piedra (Arthur A. Levine Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Eliot won my heart from the first page! His eyes dance with wonder and excitement. Adventure and love fills his enormous heart. That is till the world disrupts its daily routine. The story carries the joy of imagination and childhood while capturing the heart of love and relationship. A grandparent and child seem to find magic in togetherness. Truly a heartwarming tale. (Ages 4-8)

The Peculiar Possum: The Nocturnals
by Tracey Hecht, Josie Yee (Fabled Films Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Our three Nocturnal friends encounter strange sounds and smells in the valley. When an unfamiliar animal appears, Bismark is not pleased! He is put off by his new encounter with a possum. She’s different, and he tries to find fault in her. But together with his friends, they discover different isn’t bad, it’s just an opportunity to discover something or someone new! A great book on acceptance, tolerance, and inclusion. (Ages 5-7)

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Mother Ghost: Nursery Rhymes for Little Monsters
by Rachel Kolar, Roland Garrigue (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Is it Halloween yet? Get the kids ready for trick-or-treating with the cleverly adapted fairy tales from Mother Ghost! Here you will find spirited remakes of favorite nursery rhymes told with a ghoulish twist like “What are Little Bats Made of?” Along with “Hey Diddle Diddle, Black Cat with a Fiddle,” they are so much fun to read and share! Illustrator Roland Garrigue knocks it out of the park with his creepy visual pairings that give the whole book a wickedly fun appeal. (Ages 5-7)

Mission Defrostable (Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast)
by Josh Funk, Brendan Kearney (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The brightly-colored cover will grab your attention. The illustrations by Kearney will hold it, and the unique characters are sure to bring a chuckle or two. It’s a fun take on problem-solving and teamwork, dusted with understanding and compassion. It’s easy to get caught in a trap of misperception, making poor judgements, and missing out on otherwise good things. A cute story that builds lasting foundations. (Ages 5-9)

Soccer School Season 1: Where Soccer Explains (Rules) the World
by Alex Bellos, Ben Lyttleton, Spike Gerrell (Walker Books US) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
I don’t play a lot of soccer, but right when I looked at Soccer School, I knew it would be tons of fun. I noticed as I got deeper into the book that there were facts, questions, and quizzes about soccer to keep you on your toes. I learned about all the planning, effort, and hard work that goes into playing the game. I loved the funny illustrations and how the book talks about every aspect of soccer, including what meal everyone eats before a game. I had a blast reading this book and I am now interested in the culture of soccer. This is a great book to bring on a plane or road trip to quiz friends and family. (Ages 7-10)

Night Buddies: Impostors and One Far-Out Flying Machine
by Sands Hetherington, Jessica Love (Adventures After Lights Out) Reviewer: Diana Perry
For young John Degraffenreidt, a sleepless night is no reason to fret when tossing and turning brings a bright red crocodile named Crosley out from under his bed. The impostors must be stopped, and Night Buddies John and Crosley are just the guys to stop them! Racing blimp stakeouts high in the sky, impostor traps organized with the help of a friend, and a never-ending supply of pineapple cheesecake frozen yogurt make for one totally super sleepless night. I not only found this book to be completely fun and entertaining to read, but very relatable. Kids will just love this funny and adventurous story. I can’t imagine a better bedtime book! (Ages 8-10)

Breaking the Barriers: A Girl’s Dream to Play Little League with the Boys
by Robbin Miller (Pen It! Publications, LLC) Reviewer: Diana Perry
During a summer family picnic in 1974, Robbin observes a little league game being played in a nearby baseball field. Seeing how much fun the game is, she wants to play too, but soon discovers that girls are not allowed to play little league baseball with boys. Refusing to give up her dream, Robbin learns about a famous court case ruled that same year, that girls were to be allowed to play. This is a fun-to-read story of a young girl’s pathway to breaking the all-boy barrier of her hometown and showing her community that girls could play the game just as well as the boys. I see both boys and girls rooting for her as they read this delightful story. (Ages 8-11)

Rosetown
by Cynthia Rylant (Beach Lane Books) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Rosetown is about a girl named Flora who is nine years old and already has a lot changing in her life. She has to deal with the loss of her dog, starting 4th grade, and moving back and forth from her mom’s house and her dads. This is a lot for anyone to go through, especially a nine-year-old, but luckily Flora has two good friends—one old and one new, which really helps. With her friends she laughs, has fun, goes on adventures, and talks. I can really relate to Flora because she loves to read! (Ages 8-12)

The Memory of Forgotten Things
by Kat Zhang (Aladdin) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
The Memory of Forgotten Things is a heartwarming story about a kid named Sophia who lost her mom. Sophia continues to share fond detailed memories of her mom when she was 10 years old and other ages but we learn that these “event memories” never happened, because Sophia’s mom died when she was six years old. Everyone can relate to this story of losing someone, and the grief that it can cause. The good news is Sophia finds a someone that she can relate to and who also has memory events like her that never happened. I like how the book has fantasy/science elements to it as well. (Ages 8-12)

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Dewey Fairchild: Teacher Problem Solver
by Lorri Horn (Amberjack Publishing) Reviewer: Diana Perry
In this follow-up to Dewey Fairchild: Parent Problem Solver, our genius problem solver, Dewey takes up the challenge of troublesome teachers. It turns out that tons of kids have problem teachers, so he’s soon up to his neck in cases. To make matters worse, the school is rationing toilet paper to one square per student and replacing the vending machines with a garden! This sparks a student protest and Dewey may have his hands full as he tries to come up with a solution that will please both sides. Kids will enjoy all the ways Dewey tries to become the Teacher Problem Solver that everyone needs. What a fun read! (Ages 8-12)

Dilby R. Dixon’s The Dilbonary
by Tony J. Perri (BookBaby) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Dilby R. Dixon is no ordinary 10-year-old boy. He is an outcast, the odd kid in school. To occupy his time, he uses his imagination to visit the most unbelievable places and have the most amazing adventures. From these dreams, he creates a secret journal of weird words that he calls the Dilbonary. No one knew about the Dilbonary until the school bully gets a hold of it and sets off a chain of events that will alter Dilby’s life forever. Kids who relate to Dilby will find comfort in this book knowing that they are not the only ones with these experiences. Young readers will have fun creating their own secret code words on the back pages and perhaps sharing with new friends. (Ages 8-12)

Secret Scouts and the Lost Leonardo
by Mr. & Mrs. Kind (Mokum Media) Reviewer: Diana Perry
When best friends Tom, Lisa, Sophie, and Jack stumble upon a mysterious sketch that has all the hallmarks of an Old Master, they decide to investigate. Soon they discover an original 15th century codex full of Leonardo da Vinci’s sketches, writings, and calculations. Their discovery tests their friendship and their journey brings them closer to the great Leonardo da Vinci than anyone ever before. But their quest comes with risks—including death, or worse, being lost in time. Young readers will get both an adventure and a history lesson in this new fact-fiction series. (Ages 10-16)


To submit your book for review, email cristy@storymonsters.com for submission guidelines.

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Spotlight Book: Penny the Pink Nose Poodle

 

The things that make us different are the things that make us wonderful... 

            ISBN: 978-1-68401-257-2

Penny the Pink Nose Poodle is a children’s book based on the real life story of Penny, who was rescued from an animal shelter by Norina, who later introduced the poodle to the rest of her family. 

The story follows Penny on her journey from the New Castle Pound to find her perfect forever home. Penny the Pink Nose Poodle is a reminder of the importance of showing kindness to others in need. 

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2nd Place winner, Animals/Pets category, 2018 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards

Five star review: "I love this book. I read it to my grandkids and they were not only delighted, but my 5-year-old granddaughter told her parents, "being different makes you more loveable and hugable." - CDNon, Amazon Reviewer

 

Available for purchase at Amazon, BarnesandNoble, and Mascot Books 

ISBN: 978-1-68401-257-2

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Story Monsters Ink September Book Reviews


Check out our newest book reviews!

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Bear Moves
by Ben Bailey Smith and Sav Akyuz (Candlewick Entertainment) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Well, put on the music and move over, cause Bear’s got some moves and he doesn’t mind sharing them. This is a fun, feel-good read. Bear introduces the reader to music and dance, and the illustrations are sure to add laughter to the beat. (Ages 2-5)

Stick
by Irene Dickson (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The simplest of things can often bring the greatest rewards. Following all the joys a boy and his dog can share with a simple stick. You can throw it, balance with it, float it down a stream, and draw pictures in the sand. And we agree, building friendships is the very best of all. (Ages 2-5)

Try a Little Kindness
by Henry Cole (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The sweet, rhythmic flow of the text, and soft, easy appeal of the illustrations make this a great feel-good reading experience that can linger for a lifetime. Each page features a different way to be a good person, like using proper manners, telling someone they are special, or sharing a treat! The opening page will catch the heart and quickly become a childhood mantra. (Ages 3-5)

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Mae’s First Day Of School
by Kate Berube (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
I bet we all remember our first day of school. Oh, we may not remember the details, but that cold clammy feeling that stirs every time we face a new venture, reminds us. Life is never as hard when we encounter it with a friend. Mae is afraid to go to school. Riddled by the monstrous “what if” thoughts, she hides and determines not to go. But, lucky for Mae, she meets others who are just as frightened as she is. And together, they are able to overcome. A great reminder for all of us. Let’s grab a hand and do all those wonderful things we wish we could do! The illustrations are simple and sweet, and capture the heart. (Ages 3-7)

Storm
by Sam Usher (Templar) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Wind and thunderstorms can be cozy, exciting, and evoke lots of adventures—inside and outside of the house! A little boy and his grandpa go searching for a kite to fly on a windy, stormy day and throughout their search, reminisce about other experiences they had together as they bump into special mementos. A beautiful story that will inspire children to look for adventures in nooks and crannies, and most importantly, with their families. (Ages 3-7)

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I Am Actually a Penguin
by Sean Taylor, Kasia Matyjaszek (Templar) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Playing dress-up is a childhood experience that will never get old and this is a funny, sweet, and
completely relatable story about a little girl who loves this pastime. Her imagination, creativity, and perseverance is adorable (and admirable) as she really embraces becoming her costume—in this case, a penguin. The illustrations are vibrant, fun, and different with the use of mixed media and multiple picture and plot points on each page. Readers will enjoy reading this delightful story and then quickly running to their own dress-up box. (Ages 3-7)

Duck Gets a Job
by Sonny Ross (Templar) Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
This is a story about being yourself and not a carbon copy of the vast majority. Sonny Ross creates a combo of creative words and illustrations to entertain young readers with his tale. Children will delight in the silliness of Duck as he takes readers through the steps of getting a job in a big city. Duck soon discovers that spreadsheets are not his cup of tea, so he opts for a job that fits his special gifts and passion. A perfect read-aloud for discussing sequencing and introducing job skills and goals, this picture book really fits the bill! (Ages 3-7)

Little Robot Alone
by Patricia MacLachlan, Emily MacLachlan Charest, Matt Phelan (HMH Books for Young Readers)
Reviewer: Sherry L. Hoffman
Little Robot Alone is a story about a robot curing boredom by using his imagination, technical skills, and some elbow grease. The authors and illustrator have created a story that showcases the importance of friendship. The occasional rhyming text intermixed with the imagery produced from the descriptive wording allows readers to purely enjoy the robot’s surroundings and appreciate the soft, dreamlike illustrations. What a wonderful text to use with young children to bring up the topic of befriending others and discussing what it feels like to be alone. This profound story is more than the superficial idea of a robot creating a friend; digging deeper, teachers and parents can easily help readers have text connections by incorporating this story into lessons about having positive character traits and finding them in others. (Ages 3-7)

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Rock What Ya Got
by Samantha Berger, Kerascoet (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
I love the opening of this story! It opens wide the imagination and excitement rushes in. Carrying a powerful message, each page delights with its endearing illustrations. For anyone who has ever whispered, or shouted, “If only....” Happiness comes when we own who we are, and success follows when you can rock what ya got. This is a fun presentation for kids who are finding, and claiming their own unique spot in this iffy world. (Ages 4-7)

Snail Mail
by Samantha Berger, Julia Patton (Running Press Kids) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
We’ve all heard and used the term “snail mail” for ages now, but Samantha Berger and Julia Patton have adorably and brilliantly put pictures and a story to this cute term. Snails actually delivering mail! Berger captures our heart from the beginning with a little girl mailing a letter across the country, and the long and exhausting trek the determined snails must make to get it to her recipient. The story also takes the reader on a journey through special landmarks of America with sunsets and rainbows in every backdrop. Snail Mail will teach many, and remind more, of how exciting it feels to run to the mailbox and have a special delivery waiting inside. (Ages 4-8)

Energy: Physical Science for Kids
by Andi Diehn, Hui Li (Nomad Press) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
Energy, energy everywhere! This is an educational book to help young readers learn about the many forms of energy. The illustrations bring to life the concepts to engage visual learning and processing. The author has also included STEM activities to help further solidify the concepts. Energy races through your feet and is fueled by food and rest. What happens when your energy runs out? Do you get cranky, tired, or thrash about? Have a snack! Take a snooze! Keep your energy up and you’ll never lose! Energy is everywhere, you just need to look. One thing for sure, you’ll find it in this book. (Ages 4-8) 

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Matter: Physical Science for Kids
by Andi Diehn, Hui Li (Nomad Press) Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
Let’s begin to learn about matter in this science educational book. ”Birds in the sky and rocks on the ground. Things made of matter are all around! Solids and liquids and gasses, too. Make up the world including you. Matter is everything, everywhere you look. Does matter, matter? Learn how important matter is as you read through this book. The illustrations are vibrant and will keep your child’s attention as they take their first steps into science experiments. Be sure to try the STEM activities included to reinforce the learning of the science concepts. (Ages 4-8)

Ted the Friendly Frog and the Tale of the Diamond
by Scott Mcall (Brown Books Kids) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Learning can be tough, and some lessons can last a lifetime. We have much to learn growing up, and our parental guidance far outlasts that of the animal kingdom, but both share the wisdom of the aged and the benefit of a listening heart. Ted the frog learns the importance of obedience the hard way. And we the readers learn, the choice is always ours. (Ages 5-6)

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Bully
by Jennifer Sattler (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Bully’s middle name might just be Greedy. He thinks the pond and its beautiful lilies are all for his own private enjoyment. Running off all those who pass by to share in the pond’s beauty, Bully finds himself quite content all alone. Can anyone stop Bully and his bullying ways? Using humor and whimsy, authorillustrator Jennifer Sattler masterfully shows young readers that standing up together can make all the difference in the world. (Ages 5-7)

Dino
by Diego Vaisberg (Templar) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a cute lighthearted story about a mysterious find. A large egg appears in the backyard. Is it a giant canary? A large lizard? A huge turtle? Life changes when the egg hatches. It’s sure to bring giggles to little readers and maybe even secret hopes that they, too, might find such wondrous things in their own backyard. (Ages 5-8)

Squiffy and the Vine Street Boys in Shiver Me Timbers
by Steve Stinson (Muddy Boots) Reviewer: Denise A. Bloomfield
This is a really fun story about Squiffy, who builds a pirate ship on a tree and invites the Vine Street boys to come aboard. The boys learn “Pirate talk” with a hilarious and predictable ending. I loved the characters, creativity, and imagination of this story. The illustrations bring the story to life. This is a fun and laugh-out-loud type of story. (Ages 5-8)

Howl Like a Wolf!
by Kathleen Yale, Kaley McKean (Storey Publishing) Reviewer: Denise A. Bloomfield
This book has so many educational and fun activities for young children! They can learn to howl like a wolf, see like a bat, and even dance like a honey bee! You didn’t know that a honey bee can dance? Well, you better get reading! This is a wonderful book for children and they will have lots of fun while learning. Also includes a link to download animal masks. A must-read! (Ages 6-9)

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Big Foot and Little Foot
by Ellen Potter, Felicita Sala (Harry N. Abrams) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Big Foot and Little Foot is a fun, adventurous book about seeing each other’s differences and overcoming fear to become friends. Hugo, the main character, is a young curious Sasquatch who wants to adventure in the Big Wide World, but that’s off limits. The most important Sasquatch rule is to never be seen by a human. But Hugo breaks that rule when he meets a human and they become pen pals. (Ages 6-9)

Love for Logan
by Lori DeMonia, Monique Turchan (Halo Publishing) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
These two darling sisters return with another story of love and inspiration. Logan’s older sister has trouble processing sensory signals, and that can make life challenging. When one member of a family struggles, it affects them all. Leah’s family supports her with understanding and awareness and learning, but most of all with a love that can overcome those difficult obstacles most of us will never face. This story of love and compassion will inspire us all to become aware of the struggles of others, and be a positive influence with understanding. (Ages 6-12)

Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System
by Bethany Ehlmann, Jennifer Swanson (National Geographic Children’s Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This one is sure to thrill any kid with their head in the clouds, and beyond! Packed with amazing facts, awesome photographs and diagrams, famous scientists, and so much more, it is sure to please. Whether just-for-fun reading, information for reports or projects, it will fill many interests. Science is fun! (Ages 8+)

My First Book Of Quantum Physics
by Kaid-Sala Ferrón Sheddad, Eduard Altarriba (Button Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
When I hear terms like elementary particles, my mind runs to the massive crumbs left in the middle school lunchroom. Or quantum entanglements fills my mind with visions of playground altercations needing attention. But, what if the concepts of quantum physics were introduced in an easier and more entertaining way? These authors have lifted the gray haze, and brought the quantum world to our fingertips. Children (and adults) will enjoy pushing the boundaries of what we call reality, and stepping into the quantum world! (Ages 8+)

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24 Hours in Nowhere
by Dusti Bowling (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Welcome to Nowhere, Arizona, the least livable town in the United States. For Gus, a bright 13-year-old with dreams of getting out and going to college, life there is made even worse by Bo Taylor, Nowhere’s biggest, baddest bully. When Bo tries to force Gus to eat a dangerously spiny cactus, Rossi Scott comes to his rescue by giving Bo her prized dirt bike. Determined to buy it back, Gus and his friends decide to go searching for gold in Dead Frenchman Mine. As they hunt for treasure, narrowly surviving one disaster after another, they realize this adventure just might lead them somewhere. A great, actionpacked story. (Ages 8-12)

A Long Line of Cakes
by Deborah Wiles (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Emma Lane Cake has five brothers, four dogs, and a family that can’t stay put. The Cake family travels from place to place, setting up bakeries in communities that need them. Then, just when Emma feels settled in with new friends … they move again. Now the Cakes have come to Aurora County, and Emma has vowed that this time she is NOT going to get attached to anyone. Why bother, if her father’s only going to uproot her again? But fate has different plans. And so does Ruby Lavender, who is going to show Emma a thing or two about making friendships last. This is a perfect story for young readers with a very sweet ending. (Ages 8-12)

Daring Dreamers Club: Milla Takes Charge
by Erin Soderberg, Anoosha Syed (RH/Disney) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Milla loves nothing more than imagining grand adventures in the great wide somewhere, just like Belle. She dreams of traveling the world and writing about her incredible discoveries. Unfortunately, there is nothing pretend about the fifth-grade overnight and Milla’s fear that her moms won’t let her go. Enter Piper, Mariana, Zahra, and Ruby. Together with Milla, they form the Daring Dreamers Club and become best friends. But can they help Milla believe she’s ready for this real grand adventure? Kids will particularly love how the book ideally ends, then leads into a sample of the next book. I found this to be a perfect fifth grade story. (Ages 8-12)

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Kid Scientists: True Tales of Childhood from Science Superstars
by David Stabler, Anoosha Syed (Quirk Books) Reviewer: Diana Perry
What a delightful way for young readers to take more of an interest in science—by learning about our famous scientists’ childhoods. Did you know that there is one famous scientist who also invented the first pair of swim fins? Another scientist was also a genius mathematician whose calculations helped astronaut Neil Armstrong to be able to walk on the moon. Who are these people? You’ll have to read the book to find out. This is a brilliant book that will inspire and enlighten our budding future scientists. It proves to young readers that they, too, should dare to reach for the stars. (Ages 9-12)

Everything I Know About You
by Barbara Dee (Aladdin) Reviewer: Diana Perry
During a class trip to DC, 12-year-old Tally and her best friends, Sonnet and Caleb are less than thrilled when they are assigned roommates and are paired with kids who are essentially their sworn enemies. For Tally, rooming with “clonegirl” Ava Seely feels like punishment, rather than potential for fun, but Tally soon discovers several surprising things about her roommate—including the possibility of an eating disorder. This is a must-read for parents and teachers and a perfect lesson on bullying and another less-talked-about problem facing young girls today. (Ages 9-13)

The De La Cruz Diaries: Oops-A-Daisy
by Melody Delgado (Clean Reads) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
The De La Cruz Diaries: Oops-A-Daisy is a fun and captivating book. Daisy De La Cruz is a 12-year-old girl with dreams of becoming a famous singer. I liked that the book dealt with real issues including family issues, bullies, and how hard you have to work to accomplish something. This is a good book for anyone facing these life challenges. (Ages 12+)

The Crow Child
by Sherrie Todd-Beshore (CreateSpace) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Twelve-year-old Elijah Day Clearwater is not your average child. Since the death of his parents when he was three years old, he has been living with his paternal grandfather. He struggles every day with Cystic Fibrosis. What sets Elijah apart from everyone else is something … magical. Thirteen days before his 13th birthday, Elijah begins to have vivid dreams. Perhaps the dreams are just an outlet from the stress of a bully at school, or maybe they hint at a destiny that was foretold prior to his birth under the firesign. This story teaches young readers how their very lives today were formed by others who came before them. It is easy to bond with the well-developed characters. A great read. (Ages 12+)
 

To submit your book for review, email cristy@storymonsters.com for submission guidelines.

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Story Monsters Ink August Book Reviews

 

Check out this month's book reviews!

Anne’s Colors
by Kelly Hill (Tundra Books) Reviewer: Diana Fisher
For children learning colors, this unique board book is engaging and delightful to explore. The illustrations—hand-embroidered tableaus—are cozy and sweet, with enough elements in each to hold interest and entice the imaginations of little ones. Inspired by the story, Anne of Green Gables, it stands alone as a darling way to introduce and teach colors. (Ages 3+)

The Three Little Superpigs
by Claire Evans (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Have you ever wondered what happened to those three little pigs once that big bad wolf was outsmarted? Well, here’s the sequel! The wolf has had lots of time to plot his revenge while incarcerated for his dastardly deeds. The winning illustrations bring this old classic a fresh twist on its telling. It’ll be fun for all. (Ages 3-5)

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Misunderstood Shark
by Ame Dyckman, Scott Magoon (Orchard Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The filming of an underwater TV show goes awry when the crew gets interrupted by a sharrrk! Poor Shark, he wasn’t trying to scare them, he’s just misunderstood! Then he’s accused of trying to eat a fish. Will Shark ever catch a break? After all, he wasn’t going to eat the fish, he was just showing it his new tooth! Or was he? Interesting fun facts throughout the story. (Ages 3-5)

Nanny Paws
by Wendy Wahman (Two Lions) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
We take our pets seriously. They are members of our family, and a vital part of our personal community. And, they too, seem to view us with the same love and devotion. Nanny Paws is an adorable tribute to that returned loyalty. Nanny watches over her girls with pure delight. This is a bright and lively depiction of the joys that are shared growing up with our furry friends. (Ages 3-7)

What’s Next Door?
by Nicola O’Byrne (Nosy Crow) Reviewer: Julianne Black
All he wants to do is get home … or, he’ll eat you. Each page brings a problem for poor Carter the Alligator and that means a new task for the reader. With every page, your preschooler will squeal with delight watching what happens to poor Carter. Completely adorable interactive story in cheeky Mo Williams style humor paired with bright and busy illustrations. Most definitely a smile winner! (Ages 3-7)

Goodnight, Anne
by Kallie George, Genevieve Godbout (Tundra Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
I am a true fan of L.M. Montgomery’s classic novel, Anne of Green Gables, and found this sweet reminiscence of Anne’s ability to catch you up in her exuberance, a great delight. Kallie George depicts Anne’s lively ability to breathe in the very essence of life all around her, and will encourage readers everywhere to capture and release every joy with a full and thankful heart. (Ages 3-7)

Pippa & Percival, Pancake & Poppy: Four Peppy Puppies
by Deborah Diesen, Grace Zong (Sleeping Bear Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This delightful story is sure to bring shouts and pleas to read it again. Its upbeat rhythm keeps pace with these four peppy pups! It’s fun, colorful, and adventurous. (Ages 3-7)

I’m a Duck
by Eve Bunting, Will Hillenbrand (Candlewick) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This sweet, rhythmic tale rolls as easily across the heart as it does the tongue while reading aloud. The illustrations by Hillenbrand so capture Duck with endearing charm that you love him from the first page. An adorable story to remind us we are wonderfully made, and perfectly equipped to undo our fears. (Ages 3-7)

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Night Job
by Karen Hesse, G. Brian Karas (Candlewick Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a sweet story of life shared between a boy and his dad. Memories of moments embraced together in the face of daily, or in this case nightly, routine events. Passing time may rub and smudge the details, but the heart catches and holds the togetherness forever. (Ages 3-7)

The World-Famous Book of Counting
by Sarah Goodreau (Big Picture Press) Reviewer: Diana Fisher
Based on a magic show, this pop-up, lift-the-flap, pull-the-tab board book makes learning to count fun and interactive. Each page represents a number—one through ten, and additionally, zero—by way of revealing elements of the magic show, which must be discovered and then can be counted. The interactive aspect and colorful illustrations will entice children to play with this book over and over. (Ages 3-7)

A Campfire Tail
by Sarah Glenn Marsh, Ana Gómez (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Julianne Black
Playing to your strengths. Staying true to your friends. Being yourself. Acceptance. Inclusion. Celebrating differences. There are so many lessons wrapped up into this adorable picture book about a summer camp set of buddies that go through the worst and best camp life has to offer. Adorable illustrations, wonderful rhythm, and hysterical situations bring this picture book to its conclusion, a feel good reminder of what makes strangers into great friends. (Ages 4+)

The Thank You Book
by Mary Lyn Ray, Stephanie Graegin (HMH Books for Young Readers) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
I love this little book! The illustrations are heartfelt and endearing. Its message monumental. At times we look out over the horizon and our world seems to be crumbling. Coming from an older generation, I see things that once were that no longer are. Oh, the motions are the same. The words remain the same, but the heart that lit and carried them forth has dimmed its light. This little book stokes the dying embers, and reminds us that Thank You is more than good manners. More than vague responses to actions. It’s life stirring in the heart and giving a response of genuine joy. Let’s rekindle the excitement in our little ones, and bring a new beat to our steps. (Ages 4-7)

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Quiet Wyatt
by Tammi Sauer, Arthur Howard (Clarion Books) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Life would soon become boring if everything and everyone were the same. It’s the differences that supply depth and shading to the overall picture. In this story, Wyatt is quiet, and he likes it that way. Until one day, he is paired up with noisy Noreen. We all find ourselves in similar situations at some time or another. Times when the differences and contrasts pinch and bind. But, Wyatt manages to stay true to himself, and still find acceptance for those who are different. (Ages 4-7)

I am the Boss of this Chair
by Carolyn Crimi, Marisa Morea (Sterling Children’s Books) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
Having a sense of ownership and pride with certain things is a special treat and luxury as we get older and more comfortable, and that is exactly how kitty cat Oswald Minklehoff Honey Bunny III feels in his lovely and beautifully, brightly illustrated home: comfortable. Readers with siblings will make lots of personal connections to this story as Oswald’s life changes when a new member named Pom-Pom arrives. Pom-Pom especially loves Oswald’s chair, provoking Oswald to behave like a naughty little cat until they both get in trouble with their owner! Fantastic story for picture book lovers of all ages! (Ages 4-7)

See Hear: There’s magic all around you. What can you see? What can you hear? 
by Tania McCartney, Jess Racklyeft (EK Books) Reviewer: Julianne Black
A friendly and engaging explanation and illustration of situations involving the senses. The first half of the book dives into sight, but then twists in the middle to where the back cover becomes the beginning of the hearing section. Both senses meet in the middle in a clever way that invites the viewer to flip the book in order to explore the complementing side. Designed for children three and up, I think this could be used in kindergarten and even first grade as an introductory to basic sense exploration in science programs. Successful coverage of the topic plus the added bonus for being fun to flip through. (Ages 4-7)

Bitty Bot’s Big Beach Getaway
by Tim McCanna, Tad Carpenter (Simon & Schuster) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Bitty Bot doesn’t think the beach is much of a vacation. The sun is too hot and the sand is too gritty. He’d be much happier back home in Robot City. Until he makes some new friends, that is. Together, they let their imaginations play and find real adventure in Botco Bay. Fun can always be found where you allow it! (Ages 4-8 )

When a Dragon Moves In
by Jodi Moore, Howard McWilliam (Flashlight Press) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
When a Dragon Moves In is a delightful story about adventures with your dragon on the beach and all the creative things you can do with a pointy-tailed, crimson-winged friend by your side. The story starts with a little boy building a magnificent sand castle which attracts the attention of a home-seeking dragon. He comes in especially handy for keeping beach bullies away and creating the flight in a kite. Eventually the boy’s family gets a bit annoyed with all the dragon talk and the two companions part ways, until the next beach day, of course. (Ages 5-7)

When a Dragon Moves In Again
by Jodi Moore, Howard McWilliam (Flashlight Press) Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
When a Dragon Moves In Again has equally gorgeous illustrations from corner to corner and captures the human characters expressions/emotions so magically that readers will find something new to look at with each read. This sequel begins with the father building a “castle” and of course this brings our fiery friend back into the plot. I marvel at the imagination and writing of author Jodi Moore as she ties the whole story together to the dragon adventures (is he part of the boys imagination or isn’t he?) into welcoming a baby into the family and the boy changing his mind about the new addition in a heartwarming ending. (Ages 5-7)

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The Fox on the Swing
by Evelina Daciutè, Aušra Kiudulaite (Thames & Hudson) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Paul is a young boy who lives in a tree with his parents. In Paul’s world, everything wonderful is orange, especially an odd fox he meets along his routine walk. Paul always keeps his eyes wide open, hoping to find adventure in any unsuspecting place. One special day, he comes upon the oddest thing, an orange fox on a swing. This sweet story of friendship will forever keep children hoping to find adventure. (Ages 5-9)

Waves: Physical Science for Kids  
by Andi Diehn, Hui Li (Nomad Press) Reviewer: Dawn Menge
Science can be fun for your children when they try the STEM activities included in this beautifully illustrated science book about waves. If you have a ball floating in a bucket of water and you move your finger around to make waves in the water, what happens to the ball? ”Waves in water, waves in wheat. Waves at a game: ‘Stand up! Take a seat!’ Waves in your hair, waves with your hand, powerful waves under the land. Make waves in a string, then stretch it taut, Waves are everywhere, whether we see them or not!” (Ages 6-9)

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Mr. Wolf’s Class
by Aron Nels Steinke (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Mr. Wolf has just started teaching at Hazelwood Elementary. He wants the first day of school to go well, but he’s got his hands full with his new class. Some of his students include: Margot, who is new in town and is trying to make friends. Sampson, who brought something special to school for show-and-tell. Aziza, who just wants everyone to be quiet and do their work. And Penny, who is VERY sleepy because she has a new baby brother at home, goes missing! I found this book to be a funny and adventurous tale that will keep any reader’s attention. (Ages 7-10)
  
Dream Big: A True Story of Courage and Determination
by Dave McGillivray, Nancy Feehrer, Ron Himler (Nomad Press) Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a true story of heart. Life may not always play fair, challenging our dreams, testing our grit. But, if it’s a true dream of the heart, we always manage to find our way through it. Dave’s dream to be an athlete is sorely pressed upon, but he never gives up and finds his own personal way to achieve. A story of love and determination. (Ages 7-12)

Sewing School Quilts: 15 Projects Kids will Love to Make  
by Amie Petronis Plumley, Andria Lisle, Justin Fox Burks (Storey Publishing) Reviewer: Dawn Menge Quilt-making dates back to the Egyptian Pharaohs in 3400 BC. This step-by-step guide book gives you pictures and patterns for a variety of quilts, including how to make a fabric story. It even has a list of 10 uses for quilts, including keeping one in the car, using it as a bedspread, and snuggling up with your favorite handmade one. There’s a quilting dictionary that defines words such as appliqué, array, patchwork, and selvage. This how-to book will become a favorite and provide hours of fun and creativity. (Ages 8-12)

You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! 
by Alex Gino (Scholastic Press) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! is a heartfelt story of family, friendship, and discrimination. Jilly learns that every day in life she can grow and learn from her mistakes. Jilly’s baby sister is born deaf and her online friend is deaf and black. This opens her eyes to the world around her and discrimination of both deaf people and people of color. Jill is determined to stand up to bullies. (Ages 8-12)

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Making Friends
by Kristen Gusdnuk (Graphix) Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Making Friends is a comical, graphic novel. Dany moves to a new school for 7th grade, which turns out to be difficult. Especially in the area of making friends. Dany gets a magical notebook from her deceased aunt’s attic. And much to Dany’s surprise, her drawing of what her “dream best friend” would be comes alive along with other people she draws. But sometimes what we image isn’t always the case. (Ages 8-12)

Panther Creek Mountain: The Big Adventure
by Clyde McCulley (Story Night Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Clay and Luke are brothers who live in the Appalachian Mountains during the 1950s. The boys and their cousin Sally Jane are trying to come up with ways to make money. They discover a hidden cave with pots and pans inside; there is also a wooden table and a fire pit. They wonder if someone still lives there and if they’ll come back. They decide to make this cave their secret clubhouse but have no idea of what’s to come. A great book to inspire kids to turn off their video games and head outside for some wholesome outdoor adventures. The included map of the Appalachians gives great visual aid to the story. (Ages 8-12)

Hailey Queen Pranking Makes Perfect: The Alien Encounter
by Rosie. J. Pova (Spork) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Hailey Queen can’t seem to stop herself from playing pranks on everyone—her friends, her classmates, her teachers and principal, perfect strangers, and anyone one who crosses her path. Each time, she promises herself to stop as she gets in serious trouble, but she just can’t help herself when the next opportunity arises. She finally meets her match when she wakes one day to find a female alien in her room. The alien is an even worse prankster than Hailey so she must find a way to stop it from playing pranks, especially since everyone thinks they were done by her! Kids will enjoy it. (Ages 9-12)

Strays
by Jennifer Caloyeras (Ashland Creek Press) Reviewer: Diana Perry
Sixteen-year-old Iris Moody has a problem controlling her temper, but then, she has a lot to be angry about. When a note in Iris’s journal is mistaken as a threat against her English teacher, she finds herself in trouble not only with school authorities, but with the law. In addition to summer school, dog-phobic Iris is sentenced to an entire summer of community service, rehabilitating troubled dogs. This story teaches that healing can come from the last place you’d expect—which could be a frightened, three-legged pit bull named Roman. The title is fitting, not just for dogs, but for troubled teens who feel like unwanted strays. (Ages 13+)

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Upside Down in a Laura Ingalls Town
by Leslie Tall Manning. Reviewer: Diana Perry
Sixteen-year-old Brooke Decker used to be the perfect girl but since her Mom died, she’s starting to get out of control. She drinks alcohol and sneaks out to college parties. She soon learns that her dad has signed up for a reality show which includes her and her little sister. She finds herself in a pioneer town with no modern conveniences; even her clothes are pioneer outfits. How will she make it to the end? This endearing tale will make any young reader realize the importance of family, especially when one of them is no longer there. I found this book to be touching, heartwarming, humorous and inspiring. (Ages 13+)

 

To submit your book for review, email cristy@storymonsters.com for submission guidelines.

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Story Monsters Ink July Book Reviews

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Neck & Neck
by Elise Parsley (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Competition has its place in life. It can nudge us on to be our best. It can teach us the thrill of winning a prize, and reaching success. But sometimes, it can lose perspective and turn a positive into a threatening negative. Leopold, the zoo’s highlight of the fans, becomes threatened by the presence of a look-a-like balloon, and the battle begins. This comical story is sure to bring laughter, along with some clever insight. The illustrations are fun and lively, making this an all-around good time.

Scaredy Book
by Devon Sillett, Cara King (EK Books). Reviewer: Diana Fisher
Book—who has an endearing personality—loves his nook in the library, which is safe and cozy. But Book’s life is boring, until he summons up just a little courage, and then his adventure begins. Children will root for Book and applaud him in the end. His story will make you smile, and tickle your insides with warmth. The narrative is sweet, clever, inspiring, and amusing. And the whimsical illustrations complement the story wonderfully.

Anne’s Numbers
by Kelly Hill (Tundra Books). Reviewer: Diana Fisher
This charming board book, inspired by Anne of Green Gables, takes us along a walk through nature and teaches the numbers one through ten. The homey and gentle embroidered illustrations invite children to investigate and count the flowers, trees, friends, and other adorable elements of each tableau. Another in a series with Anne’s Colors—both books are captivating worlds to be in.

Roof Octopus
by Lucy Branam, Rogério Coelho (Sleeping Bear Press). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This is a lighthearted romp children will surely enjoy. It’s a delight from start to finish. A friendly giant octopus on the roof of an apartment building? Whatever could it want? The story, the colors, and the illustrations by Coelho all work hand in hand, making it truly a feel-good experience!

Animal Planet Chapter Book Series
by Animal Planet. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Animal Planet is a popular division of Discovery Communication. This fact-packed series is as enjoyable and entertaining as its TV counterpart. Each book is filled with details, education, and great facts. Perfect for kids on all levels. Great for school reports. I read Book #5 Horses!, and Book #6 Dolphins! and found them both impressive.

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Saffron Ice Cream
by Rashin Kheiriyeh (Arthur A. Levine Books). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Moving is hard. Whether it’s across town or across the big oceans, adjustments can be most uncomfortable. Excitement surrounds each new place, and each new discovery. Yet, sadness whispers in memory of old things left behind. Rashin lets herself find new joys, while she holds tenderly the old ones.

The One and Only Owen
by Nicole Evans Haumesser (Blurb). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Owen has lost sight of himself, and falls to wishing he were like others. Until he can refocus and find is own true value, his world takes on a gloomy outlook. We all have a part to play, a gift to add to the whole. Something so unique to us that it cannot be done by another. So, when we look and admire others, let it be for their special identity, and don’t let it take away from our own. Along with Owen, we learn life lessons to strengthen the heart.

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Don’t Touch My Hair!
by Sharee Miller (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
This story is a great reminder to regard the personal space of others with respect and that courteous and gracious behavior promotes strong and friendly relationships. Everyone has boundaries. A personal space we find comforting. We all may have encountered a person who stands a bit too close when they speak. As kind and considerate people, we should be aware of these unseen barriers, and do our best to respect them.

Bulldozer Dreams
by Sharon Chriscoe, John Joven (Running Press Kids). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
The illustrations will surely hold the interest of little ones as they read this story. Gentle reinforcement of nightly routines will tickle their fancy with these amazing machines. Additional titles include Race Car Dreams and Fire Truck Dreams. A great series to offer encouragement for strong and healthy bedtime habits.

Unstinky
by Andy Rash (Arthur A. Levine Books). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Living up to our name can be tough sometimes. Take Bud, he’s a stinkbug. Only thing is, he doesn’t stink! While all the others are outstinking each other, he comes up smelling like roses. Desperate to fit in, Bud tries hard to find his own personal foulness, but instead discovers a totally different talent. Sometimes, we just have to bring what we got and find our own special spot.

The Kool Kids & the Land Of the Giants
by James Tate. Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
A fresh take on an old tale. Size isn’t always necessary to win a battle, but a strong faith that dares to believe it’s winnable. The Kool Kids have that kind of faith. They have their own giant wreaking havoc in their land. His name is Obesity, and with faith and prayer, they know just how to bring him down. Tate opens the topic of fitness and health in terms and interests kids can enjoy. Positive stories told, and retold, bring confidence and strength for our children to meet all the giants of life that may cross their path.

Dust Flowers (Tales from American HerStory series)
by Lisa Gammon Olson, Kyle Olson (Eifrig Publishing). Reviewer: Darleen Wohlfeil
Everything about this touching story is soft and moving. From the illustrations by Kyle Olson, to the times in history that tore at the heart of its people. The reality of loss and hardship seen through a young child’s eyes, relates to us the dark days of drought that created the historic Dust Bowl Era of the early 1930s. This is a tender tale of love and hope, reminding us of the strength of those before us who endured and overcame, and forged the path we now travel. This is the first in a series to discover our nation’s past. I’m looking forward to the next.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Soul
by Susan Verde, Matthew Cordell (Abrams Books for Young Readers). Reviewer: Sherry L.
Hoffman
This is a book that resonates in the heart of its reader as the words by Susan Verde and illustrations by Matthew Cordell blend together in literary harmony. Told through the main character’s point of view as she poetically plans her act for the upcoming talent show at her school, readers are bound to make a connection through her love of music. This story trumpets the important message of being true to yourself and finding your inner voice. 

A Lion is a Lion 
by Polly Dunbar (Candlewick). Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
This wonderful story answers the age-old question, “Is a Lion still a lion..?” What if he’s dressed himself up and uses his manners? Has his inner self changed because he appears to be kind or is he still dangerous? Should you welcome him into your home and treat him to lunch? This book is an enchanting way to help teach children to stand up for themselves, trust their instincts, and just say “No.”

Frog and Beaver
by Simon James (Candlewick). Reviewer: Dr. Dawn Menge
Frog and his friends the ducks and voles live happily beside the beautiful river. Along comes beaver searching for a place to build his first dam. Frog kindly invites him in to share in their world. But the animal friends soon learn that beaver might not be a good fit for their community when he stops the river from flowing. What happens next is a lesson on learning from your mistakes and how they affect others. This delightful book will help teach young readers about cause and effect and how to correct your mistakes when they have hurt others.

Goodnight, Seahorse
by Carly Allen-Fletcher (Muddy Boots). Reviewer: Denise A. Bloomfield
This is a delightful picture book that is reminiscent of the famous children’s story Goodnight, Moon, but the main characters are an adorable seahorse and other wonderful animals in the ocean. It is a simple book that children will enjoy hearing over and over again. I love the brightly colored illustrations and the pages at the end that include pictures and names of the animals of the coral reef. I even learned about an animal that I had never heard of before! I highly recommend this book for ages 2-5. 

Sewing the Magic In at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
by Lisa Gammon Olson, Lauren Rutledge (Eifrig Publishing). Reviewer: Denise A. Bloomfield
This is a charming story of a little girl named Nora who is a young seamstress for the circus. Nora is unaware of her part in the grand scheme of it all but she learns that she plays a big part in creating the magic. It’s a great story and it flows well from beginning to end. It also includes interesting facts about the circus and the illustrations are delightful! I would recommend this book for ages 6-11.

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I Feel Teal
by Lauren Rille, Aimée Sicuro (Beach Lane Books). Reviewer: Julianne Black
There are so many reasons to love I Feel Teal. First, the illustrations are simply adorable, each spread creates such a deep plunge into the corresponding feeling of emotion. Second, it’s totally relatable. Each situation represented is a very solid, very real experience to which we all can connect. But I think the biggest reason is that while the book uses colors to describe emotions, it doesn’t use the same stock colors and situations with which young viewers are already familiar. This book doesn’t regurgitate “red is mad, yellow is happy,” but includes more shades and variations introducing scarlet, mauve, ecru, etc. A wonderful read for anyone, but an especially fun eye-opener for a younger crowd.
 
I’m Sad (The I’m Books)
by Michael Ian Black, Debbie Ridpath Ohi (Simon & Schuster). Reviewer: Julianne Black
I didn’t know I could feel so much love for a book about a little girl, a flamingo, and their potato friend. Wonderful quick read about not fixing feelings, but experiencing them and letting them be okay. Sometimes we are all just sad. This story is about not being cheered up, and how that is okay, too. Wonderful characters, easy to absorb dialog for younger readers, and a completely relevant and important subject for a 4 years and up audience.

Know Where You Are series
by Dennis Brown (Ricky Reader, LLC). Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
The Know Where You Are series is fantastic selection of board books intended to educate, enlighten, and explore the world around us and explains how our brain processes this invaluable knowledge. Each book includes gorgeous pictures, easy-to-understand dialogue, and topics presented in an approachable way. I just loved how topics like geography, the human brain, and thoughts and emotions are explained so clearly, with fun characters sharing extra tidbits of information in speech bubbles. The Know Where You Are series is leading the way for readers of all ages to understand and appreciate how truly amazing our mind, body, and world really are. 

Hammer and Nails
by Josh Bledsoe, Jessica Warrick (Flashlight Press). Reviewer: Larissa Juliano
This fresh and fun story begins with Darcy’s devastation over her play date cancellation and the expression on her face when Daddy tries to console her captures every emotion little children experience when they are disappointed. Darcy reluctantly agrees to have a “Darcy Daddy” day instead, but they must follow her play date plan list, of course! Dress-up? Daddy surprises Darcy in his tutu. Lawnmower turned into a carriage? Daddy had pink ribbons to spare. Hair salon time? Fancy hairdo’s coming right up! The illustrations are superbly done, and the relationship between father and daughter is perfectly captured. A must-read for every family. 

Megabat
by Anne Humphrey, Kass Reich (Tundra Books). Reviewer: Diana Perry
Daniel Misumi has just moved to a new house. It’s big and old and far away from his friends and his life before. And it’s haunted! Megabat is now living in an old house far from home, feeling sorry for himself and accidentally scaring the people who live there. Daniel realizes it’s not a ghost in his new house. It’s a bat. And he can talk. And he’s actually kind of cute. Megabat realizes that not every human wants to whack him with a broom. This one shares his smooshfruit. This is the cutest story I’ve ever read. A great book for an early reader. 

Louisiana’s Way Home
by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick). Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Louisiana’s Way Home is a sweet, heartfelt story. I can tell you I wouldn’t want to be in Louisiana Elefant’s situation, which is to leave her home and everything in the middle of the night because her Granny wants to escape a family “curse.” Louisiana ends up in a small town in Georgia. Will she make her way back home to Florida or find a new home in Georgia? Will she discover the truth of the curse?  Sometimes the most difficult situations can be the best life lessons. I’m sure Louisiana can attest to that!

Red’s Planet
by Eddie Pittman (Harry N. Abrams). Reviewer: Olivia Amiri, age 11
Red’s Planet is a quirky, imaginative and fun graphic novel! This comic-style book is engaging, especially following headstrong, adventurous 10-year-old Red. Red longs to leave her annoying foster family for her perfect world but before she does a UFO mistakenly kidnaps her. I like this book because it’s funny and you can relate to this type of story. Sometimes things don’t always turn out as you expect, but making the best of what comes is pretty much what Red must do to survive. 

The Key to Everything
by Pat Schmatz (Candlewick). Reviewer: Diana Perry
Tash didn’t want to go to camp, didn’t want to spend the summer with a bunch of strangers, didn’t want to be separated from the only two people she has ever been able to count on: her uncle Kevin, who saved her from foster care, and Cap’n Jackie, who lives next door. Camp turns out to be pretty fun, actually, but when Tash returns home, Cap’n Jackie is gone. All she has is the key Cap’n Jackie always insisted had magic in it. Jackie always said all Tash had to do was hold it tight and the magic would come. Was it true? Could the key bring her back? Young readers will be aware of the foreverness of love, especially when it’s mixed with a little magic.

Whatshisface
by Gordon Korman (Scholastic). Reviewer: Diana Perry
When 12-year-old Cooper Vega moves for the third time in five years, he receives a state-of-the-art smartphone to help him stay in touch with old friends. He’s had phones before, but this one is buggy and unpredictable. When a boy named Roderick Northrop communicates with him through the phone, Cooper realizes that his phone isn’t buggy at all; the thing is haunted! I loved the ending that transformed both Roddy and Cooper from self-imposed losers to unexpected stars.  A great read with a great ending. Kids will love it.

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Be Prepared
by Vera Brosgol (First Second). Reviewer: Diana Perry
All Vera wants to do is fit in―but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range―Russian summer camp. This is the perfect coming-of-age story for any young girl who is new at school or the most unpopular. It serves as the perfect example that when you change a few things about your character, you can become a new person and that can change how everyone else sees you, too. A most encouraging and inspiring story – I just loved it.

Doodle Journeys: A Fill-In Journal for Everyday Explorers
by Dawn DeVries Sokol (Harry N. Abrams). Reviewer: Diana Perry
This is a fun activity book that gets kids to develop and increase creativity by drawing and writing to create a story. It opens young minds to real and imaginary experiences. This is not one for a young reader to finish in a few hours—I could easily see this entertaining youngsters for a few days. This is the perfect book to take on a long ride; your little creatives will enjoy using their imaginations to complete the many pages. Not only is it fun, it is most educational as well.

Rock Log Kids (Nature Journals)
by Daniel Brandt, DeAnna Brandt (Adventure Publications). Reviewer: Diana Perry
This is a scientific and exciting read for any youngster. It contains everything you need to know to start your own rock collection. The Brandts also include games and projects and teach everyday uses of rocks and minerals. There are pages and pages of log sheets—enough to assist the weekend junior geologist in logging all their many finds. A great way to spend a weekend outside in the fresh air. I highly recommend this book to young, aspiring collectors.

Racing Manhattan
by Terence Blacker (Candlewick). Reviewer: Diana Perry
Jasmine Barton grows up hearing terrible stories about her now-deceased mother. To make things worse, Dad mysteriously disappears. She lives her early teen years with relatives who treat her more like hired help than family. She lives a lonely life until the day she meets another unwanted creature—a horse named Manhattan. Young readers who love horses will get an insider’s view on the sport of equestrian riding and particularly, life with these beautiful animals. I particularly love how Jasmine and Manhattan bring out the best in each other and the wonderful surprise ending. A fantastic read!
 

To submit your book for review, email cristy@storymonsters.com for submission guidelines.

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Story Monsters Ink June Book Reviews

 

Check out our newest book reviews!

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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.

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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!

Eraser
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.

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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!

Visiting You
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.

Albert’s Tree
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.

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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!

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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.

Love, Penelope
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.

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Front Desk
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.

To submit your book for review, email cristy@storymonsters.com for submission guidelines.

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