Posted in Book Reviews, Homeschooling

#Sponsored Book Spotlight: Wilderness: Earth’s Amazing Habitats by Mia Cassany

SYNOPSIS:
This captivating book brings the natural world into sharp focus. Beautifully colored and intricately detailed illustrations depict places as exotic and wide-ranging as Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba National Park, Russia’s Sikhote-Alin mountain range, the Sinharaja Forest Reserve in Sri Lanka, Daintree National Park in Australia, the Mexican desert, and China’s bamboo forests. The animals that live in these remote places, cleverly hidden in the trees, plants, and flowers, create a marvelous challenge for young readers to find and identify. Each spread contains more than twenty different species including birds, snakes, frogs, iguanas, leopards, tigers, gorillas, pandas, and wolves. The back of the book is filled with additional information about the animals and their habitats. Young readers will find much to discover, explore, and learn in this absorbing celebration of our planet and the amazing creatures we share it with.

MY THOUGHTS: This is an absolute must-have for homeschool classrooms. Each page contains intricate detail of animals, habitats, and geography. It is one of those nonfiction books which can be used for multiple classes: geography, science, and Language Arts. It could also be utilized for an incredible book report.
I was amazed at the level of information that our author packed into each paragraph. In fact, I felt ready for Jeopardy after I finished it!

Marcus Navarro has done an exquisite job with the pictures, allowing the specific animals to ‘come to life’ from the pages. I enjoyed the little smiles on some of their faces. While showcasing nature’s beauty, the illustrations don’t distract from the point of the book. They enhance it.

I appreciate that the author took time to explain larger, more complex terms. She also was careful to explain how & why the endangered species came to be endangered while not scaring younger readers. She makes the point without being graphic. All in all, it’s a brilliantly done book. I give it 5 stars with a high recommendation.
Illustrated by Marcos Navarro (ISBN: 978-3791373720; April 2019; Ages 6-9; Hardcover $19.95; 48 pages)

MIA CASSANY is the author of numerous books for children including Atlas of Imaginary Places and Great Ports of the World (both by Prestel). She is the co-founder of Mosquito Books. She lives in Barcelona, Spain.

MARCUS NAVARRO is an illustrator living in Spain. This is his first book.

I RECEIVED THE TITLE IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW. ALL OPINIONS ARE MINE. PIC & SYNOPSIS 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

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Neeka and the Squirrel Highway: Charlie Wes Harris


SYNOPSIS: Educator and author Charlie Wes Harris has recently released “Neeka and the Squirrel Highway,” a children’s story based on a real-life event his daughter experienced.

The book describes what happens when Neeka comes home from school and finds a furry surprise on her parents’ bed. What she thinks is a pair of brown socks turns out to be a sleeping squirrel.

When the squirrel sees Neeka, he is terribly frightened and tries to find a way to escape. Neeka is also afraid, but with her family’s help, she faces her fears and sets the squirrel free—after he’s had a good time exploring their house.

“The book is designed as an easy reader for elementary school kids but may also be used for the preliterate,” Harris said. “I knew this would make a fascinating story for children, as it actually happened to my daughters Neeka and Angela during their childhood.”

The book has received critical acclaim, with Foreword and Clarion Reviews describing the book as “an enjoyable and inventive story, offering an amusing reaction to a startling event, that will certainly appeal to young audiences.”

“Neeka and the Squirrel Highway” will not only entertain children, but also teach them how to face their fears and overcome them.

MY THOUGHTS: I can’t stress enough how much I loved this book!
The illustrations are simply gorgeous. Each page is beautifully drawn with incredible detail and realism. Every reader can truly feel a connection to the story through these amazing depictions.

As for the story itself, Mr. Harris has done an incredible job of writing from the viewpoints of both the child and her parents. Both see the world differently and Mr. Harris nailed those differences. Here, we see a family, filled with love, who are guiding their children through the obstacles of the rights and wrongs in life. Instead of simply discarding one squirrel, they take the time to show their children the value of that one life. It’s a beautiful message.

Through the squirrel’s adventure into their home, Neeka learns that she can make a difference, as an individual, by showing compassion and thinking of others’ feelings. Her parents teach her that she shouldn’t let her fears keep her from doing the right thing. It’s a powerful life lesson and such an important one for today’s children.

Hopefully, Mr. Harris will pen many more books whether they be about Neeka or other, thoughtful children. We need more of these books in the hands of young readers. Fabulous! I give it 5 stars and a round of applause.

About the author
Charlie Wes Harris was born and grew up in Auburn, Alabama. His career has been divided between academic and US Government service in Washington, DC. He was Senior Specialist (GS-18, prior SES) and Division Chief at the Congressional Research Service. He is former professor and associate dean at Howard University along with part-time professor at Georgetown University. Harris has authored five scholarly books and monographs and a lead article in the Catholic University Law Review. This is his first book of fiction and his first book for children. He is the father of two adult daughters and has five grandchildren.

**Pic & synopsis belong solely to the author/publisher
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.