Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Parker Plum and the Rotten Egg Thoughts: A Story about Learning to Look on the Bright Side: Billie Pavicic

SYNOPSIS: Parker Plum wakes up to find a little green egg filled with rotten egg thoughts on his pillow and he must learn to unscramble his self-defeating thoughts before it explodes.

MY THOUGHTS: I love this book. I combines all the best elements of children’s storytelling. First, we have a strong, relevant, moral message. ‘Be positive’. In a society bombarded by negativity, it is so easy for children to dread the start of every day. Regardless if your readers attend a brick-and-mortar school or are at home, they will no doubt face every situation Parker does. Parker himself is an easily relatable character. He isn’t too in-depth as to cause a switch in focus for younger readers. He is simply a boy, dealing with a real-world situation.
It is a completely clean book. No risky business. No violence, etc. Beginning readers will expand their vocabulary while older readers won’t be bored with overly simplistic language. Illustrator Susan Garber has nailed it with her drawings. Each one adds to the story without being overwhelming or distracting. Billie Pavicic adds humor with a young man with a flatulence issue (without it being too gross or too important to the story) and with a very wise lunch lady.
Also of note, Parker has surrounded himself with quality friends. They don’t judge. They encourage him to change his view for his own good as well as those around him. That’s a very good underlying message for today’s youth. Bottom line: ‘Parker Plum’ is a 5 star children’s book worth purchasing and adding to your classroom library.

About Boys Town Press:
Boys Town Press publishes children’s and educational books, and produces resources for educators, parents, and youth-serving professionals, all in line with Boys Town’s goal of “Saving Children, Healing Families.” Boys Town Press is a division of Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home, a mission-driven organization that works in diverse communities with the highest-need kids and their families. Its publications are based on the proven techniques used in Boys Town programs.

Learn more about Boys Town Press and its titles at http://www.boystownpress.org.

https://www.facebook.com/BoysTownMission
I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. Synopsis & pic belong solely to the author/publisher.

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Posted in Book Reviews, Holidays

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Love Big: Kat Kronenberg

I received the title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Pic/Synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.

SYNOPSIS: “Set in the heart of the African Savanna, Love Big follows moody Baboon as he discovers another powerful secret.

The once lush, thriving, African savanna has turned dry and desolate. Hungry, miserable, and mean animals seek only their own interests. Baboon watches as, one by one, Rhinoceros destroys Termite’s castle in his race to find food, Hare chooses not to share food with her family, and Lion steals food from his pride.

But after Baboon sees Rhinoceros give Hare his snack-on-a-stick, everything changes! Baboon realizes that a transformative power exists between the animals and the star-dust that surrounds them once they share smiles and truly believe in themselves and each other. When Baboon tries out this secret by helping Lion, they share a smile, and CATCH-M, The Magical, Mystical, Miraculous Star-dust that surrounds them, whooshes into their lives to wham! ignite the courage in their chests too. Read on to see if Baboon can save the savanna with this new secret and a very stinky, unlikely hero . . . ”

MY THOUGHTS: Today is a day to celebrate love. Unfortunately, I did not love this book. In all honesty, I didn’t like much about it. Understanding that the author is highly acclaimed, I expected a home run, out-of-the-park hit. What I got was a book I didn’t want to finish.

As always, I encourage readers to experience books for themselves. Apparently, some readers did enjoy it. I found it muddled and confusing, especially being that it is geared toward younger readers. The main character, despite those mentioned in the synopsis, is a literal piece of poop. In fact, there is a lot of talk about this poop. Termite uses it for his home and it becomes a main character.

Another issue I had with it were the ‘transformative’ powers of the star-dust. While I understood this to me a ‘mythological’ story, which is fine, this felt more new age, evolutionary to me. As a Christian parent, that’s a no-go. I hoped to find happiness in the illustrations, but found them to be a huge left-down as well.

I appreciate the message of kindness and the message of a strong community. But, the author tried to jam-pack a host of public service messages into one book. It didn’t work. I give it 2 generous stars.

Learn more about Kronenberg at http://www.katkronenberg.com

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: The Enchanted Sonata: Heather Dixon Wallwork


SYNOPSIS:Clara Stahlbaum has her future perfectly planned: to marry the handsome pianist, Johann Kahler (ah!) and settle down to a life full of music. But all that changes on Christmas Eve, when Clara receives a mysterious and magical nutcracker.

Whisked away to his world—an enchanted empire of beautiful palaces, fickle fairies, enormous rats, and a prince—Clara must face a magician who uses music as spells…and the future she thought she wanted.

The Enchanted Sonata, a retelling of The Nutcracker Ballet with a dash of The Pied Piper, will captivate readers of all ages.

MY THOUGHTS:Don’t dismiss this one as ‘just another person’s Nutcracker redo’. Yes, it’s a retelling of the original. However, it’s an AMAZING retelling of the original. Heather Dixon Wallwork has utilized her amazing imagination to add all the right things into the story.
It is just so darn cute. It has all the elements that YA readers adore: Love, War, and the fight of good versus evil. Romance fans will flip for the Clara’s love life elements. Action & suspense fans will really get into the whole kids-turned-into-toys plot. Fantasy fans will love just about everything as the Nutcracker is basically a fantasy tale.

It’s a timely retelling with Christmas being so close and a new Nutcracker movie debuting. But, I have a feeling that this book will be better than the movie. I give it 4 stars.
*Pic/Synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.
**I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Ara the Star Engineer: Komal Singh


SYNOPSIS: Ara the Star Engineer inspires kids – especially girls and children of color – to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as it follows a 6-year old girl, Ara, on a quest to build an algorithm to solve a big problem (suspense!).

During her adventure, Ara is helped by a diverse set of real-life women engineering leaders of color — a Tenacious Troubleshooter, Code Commander, Prolific Problem Solver, Intrepid Innovator. The book teaches basic problem solving & computer science concepts along the way in a whimsical manner. Ara also includes an attached mini-booklet with a deeper tech dive, and online activity sheets with hands-on tech activities.

All profits from the book sales will be donated to charities encouraging women’s and girls’ participation in STEM fields. This book is not an official Google product; but a grassroots, passion project of Google employees in their personal capacity striving for an equitable future for all girls.

MY THOUGHTS: First and foremost, I love this book! It isn’t just for girls. Boys can gain just as much knowledge from it as their female counterparts can. I love that the cast of characters Ara visits are real-life, superwomen. Their jobs aren’t just described. They are elaborated on so that ages 5+ can understand completely what each job entails. I’ll readily admit it- I learned a lot from this book! Anyone who has ever gone cross-eyed when someone mentioned ‘algorithms’ needs to read this too!

This is the PERFECT STEM book. But, it goes far beyond that label. It’s also a career guide. Readers who are already interested in tech can pinpoint career possibilities based off the descriptions given. It has a strong message, too. Never give up. Ara faces obstacles in her quest, but, she continues to work hard, no shortcuts, and perseveres. Yes, it’s also a female empowerment anthem. Female readers, especially impressionable ages, need role models. They need to know that it’s ok to be feminine, intelligent, and successful as a total package like the women in this book. It can also be incorporated into homeschool curriculums with classes such as math & tech.

This is the type of children’s book we need more of. Entertaining, educational, and with an outstanding message, it is 5 stars for our Star Engineer!

About the Author:
Komal Singh works at Google as a Program Manager in Engineering. As a techie, a mother, and an immigrant, she’s passionate about using technology as an enabler and an equalizer for all. She takes part in kids’ coding clubs, sits on hackathon judge panels, and volunteers with nonprofits on technology development.
ISBN: 978-1-989025-05-5 • Hardcover • $15.95 USD • $19.95 CDN
*The pic & synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.
**I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: THE BOOK OF INGENIOUSLY DARING CHEMISTRY: 24 Experiments for Young Scientists : Sean Connolly

National STEM day is November 8th

SYNOPSIS: THE BOOK OF INGENIOUSLY DARING CHEMISTRY: 24 Experiments for Young Scientists (Workman Publishing; On-sale: October 30, 2018; Ages 9 and up; $14.95) turns questions like “Why does helium make balloons float?” and “How does fluoride protect teeth?” into learning opportunities. It’s a journey through the periodic table of elements with the master of daring STEM books, Sean Connolly. Ingeniously marrying science and fun, it is a perfect introduction to chemistry for curious kids as well as those who might prefer a more engaging approach to science. It’s like having a miniature science lab between two covers!
THE BOOK OF INGENIOUSLY DARING CHEMISTRY puts knowledge into action using household ingredients to conduct 24 awesome, hands-on experiments, including:
Sodium: Make “hot ice” by crystallizing vinegar and baking soda into sodium acetate.
Neon: See how this gas emits light by powering a light bulb with static electricity.
Iron: Submerge steel wool in vinegar to see how this metal oxidizes.
Phosphorus: Play cat detective by using ultraviolet light to locate bad cat smells!

MY THOUGHTS: One of the best ways to review a book such as this is to try one of the experiments. My 15 year-old son & I did just that! We re-created Experiment #19 which involved vinegar & eggs. Not only did he learn about acid’s effect on the eggshell, but, the experiment coincided with what he’s learning in his Biology class.

What I loved about the experiment was, well, everything! It gave clear, concise directions that were difficult to screw up (Hooray!). The ‘ingredients’ were inexpensive and, actually, on-hand. But, it went way beyond a typical experiment. After the directions, it told us exactly what we were seeing, what was happening, and why. We won’t tell the textbook company, but, we learned more from this book than we did from the textbook! Plus, it was way more fun!

I was stunned by the wealth of information this book packs in. Gone are the bland, business-as-usual experiments. This brings modern takes on chemistry that entertain while they teach. We will be utilizing this book OFTEN throughout the rest of his academic career. I just wish it had been published sooner. It’s a full 5 star rating from us!

Recommended for ages 9+

*Pic & Synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.
**I received a copy of the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: One Day, So Many Ways: Laura Hall



SYNOPSIS:Discover what daily life is like for kids all around the world! Meet children from over 40 countries and explore the differences and similarities between their daily routines. Over 24 hours, follow a wide variety of children as they wake up, eat, go to school, play, talk, learn and go about their everyday routine in this stunning retro-style illustrated picture book that celebrates different cultures.

MY THOUGHTS: The idea behind this book is really sweet. I love the thought of children learning about different cultures by reading about their peers in different countries. The illustrations are simplistic, but in a good way. They didn’t need to be complicated.
My only issue is with the amount of text. Although it would be for younger children, say younger than 3rd grade, there isn’t a ton of information given. It’s just a sentence or two. I’d have loved to see a little more elaboration. All in all, it reminded me of the Richard Scarry books. It’s a good weekend/bedtime book. I give it 3 stars.

Laura Hall is a travel writer from the UK who now lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark, with her husband and two daughters. Laura was one of the founding team of award-winning family-friendly travel firm Kid & Coe. One Day, So Many Ways is her first book for children.

Loris Lora is a Los Angeles based illustrator & designer. Her illustration style is largely inspired by Mid Century illustration & design, pop culture and her Mexican upbringing. In addition, her work largely reflects the humour and humility of everyday life with her colourful approach. Her clients include NoBrow Press, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
*Pic & Synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.
**I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.
https://www.quartoknows.com/books/9781847809742/One-Day-So-Many-Ways.html?direct=1

Posted in Book Reviews

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Famous Family Trees: Kari Hauge



SYNOPSIS:Explore the fascinating family histories of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., Charlotte Bronte, John F Kennedy, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Maria Tallchief, and many more with 30 family trees from around the world.
This accessible, visually-stunning compendium of family trees features some of history’s most loved — and loathed — famous faces and is great fun for the whole family to explore.
Genealogy and history combine to make a fascinating, fact-filled treasury of family trees belonging to famous people throughout the ages.
Here are some samples:



MY THOUGHTS: OH MY GOODNESS! How I Love This Book!! From the first page, I was smitten. It is the most comprehensive, engaging genealogy book I’ve come across- adult or children’s. It’s not simply a book full of family tree pictures, either. Each family tree contains historical information about the family members and explanations of often used genealogical terms.

This is, simply put, a must-have for every homeschool library. The illustrations are adorable and will keep even early-elementary readers entertained. Older students can follow the examples in order to create their own family’s tree. Homeschoolers can create a lesson off each family given in the book for endless discussions and learning. I give it an absolute 5 stars! Bravo!

*Pic & synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher.
**I received the aforementioned title in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.

ISBN: 9781786032263

https://www.quartoknows.com/books/9781786032263/The-Famous-Family-Trees.html