Thursday, December 13, 2018

Fox Is Late by Corey R. Tabor

- Fox Is Zooming Home, But Why? -

When this says "My First Shared Reading" I would completely agree. While not all publishers rate the same, this is a fun story for the new reader.

Fox is late. / Fox is late for lunch.
Go Fox! Go!
Fox does a kick flip. / Fox does a big kick flip.
The above example should help parents determine if their child is at this reading level.

As you can see fox is heading home at break-neck speed on his skateboard. We now know he's headed home for lunch, but what's the hurry? (That's the cute surprise!)

The illustrations are quite useful as a resource in helping the reader determine what the text might say.

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Nothing

What I Liked Most: While the text is extremely simple it's still a fun story and ending. So far, I really like this series and would highly recommend it for a new reader.


Author: Corey R. Tabor
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (August 2018)
Approx. Word Count: 94
Pages: 32
Level: I Can Read! My First Reading (Pre-Level 1) Ideal for emergent readers.


Plush Animals 

That Young and Old Will Fall In Love With!


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams

A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After

#NetGalley #TheUnwindingOfTheMiracle Publication Date: January 8, 2019

This well-written story chronicles the author's struggles with metastatic colon cancer. Julie Yip-Williams was born in Vietnam to Chinese parents. Because she had extremely poor eyesight, her grandmother instructed the parents to do the right thing and end Julie's life. According to Grandmother, a blind baby would be most unhappy and a drag on the family.

Though the parents half-heartedly followed this advice, Julie's life was spared by circumstances and soon the family moved to the United States, where they find Julie has severe cataracts. She gets some medical help correcting her eyes, but is still left with extremely bad sight.

In time she earns a law degree at Harvard, travels, and hikes in Europe by herself (mostly to prove her independence and self-worth), and eventually marries. 

Her diagnosis of cancer comes in 2013. A time when she has only enjoyed her marriage for a few years and has two very young girls. Because of Julie's determination, she immediately takes charge of the situation by doing research to fight her disease. 

Her story takes the reader in all directions: religion, emotions, family, regrets, and much more. 

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: While the book is extremely well written, it did feel a little too long for the content.

What I Liked Most: Though Julie writes about the depth of her grief and unhappiness, she also manages to include things that cause the story to be uplifting and inspirational. 

She demonstrates such determination during her short life, that her actions and attitude alone should help many of her readers, myself included, step out of their comfort zone and occasionally pity parties.

Author: Julie Yip-Williams
Publisher: Random House (January 2019)
Hardcover: 336 pages

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Missile Toe by Devin Scillian

A Very Confused Christmas

This is a collection of funny poems that are about classic Christmas carols and traditions reflected through the eyes of a very confused kid. One who doesn't always hear the words correctly, such as
I know Dasher and Dancer, Comet and Cupid."
And the song Deck the Halls can be confusing since the boy in this book can't quite figure out the meaning.
Do they mean a deck of cards? Like Go Fish or some other game?
The hall that leads to the bathroom? Or is it the Hall of Fame? 
He also wonders why Santa never delivers Sugarplums?

Some of the titles of the poems:

Johnny Oats Ate Nicholas
The Wee Three Kings of Orientar
Wild Shepherd Washed Their Flocks by Night

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Though this is a very cute book, I'm not sure kids will appreciate the humor as much as adults.

What I Liked Most: It's a unique twist on Christmas and quite creative. The illustrations are entertaining and fun.

Author: Devin Scillian
Illustrator: Marty Kelley
Publisher:  Sleeping Bear Press (September 2017)

Pages: 32
Ages: 5 - 8 (per publisher)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Let's Celebrate Christmas by J. Patrick Lewis

- From The Series: Rookie Poetry: Holidays -

This is a very short, yet informative book that contains examples of poetry as well as holiday facts. Below is an example:
donner and blitzen
Two famous reindeer are thinking, 'We're getting ready to fly
'cause Santa's sleigh keeps on blinking, which means let's fill the sky."
On the opposite side of this spread is a fact:
A reindeer's nose warms cold air before it reaches the animal's lungs.
Each spread has a Christmas related poem on the left and the right side contains an interesting fact with a related picture.

The back part of the book shows Christmas facts from around the world: Austria, Kenya, Indonesia, Kenya, Argentina, Bahamas, and Australia. It also contains a glossary and a few more facts.

My Thoughts


What Concerned Me: In all honesty, I was concerned by the size of the book, and that it contained poetry. (Ok, neither of those facts make me overly proud.) But my preconceived thoughts were quickly forgotten as I started reading.

What I Liked Most:  This is a terrific book to introduce simple poetry and some interesting facts about Christmas.

Author: J. Patrick Lewis
Publisher: Children's Press - Scholastic (February 2018) 

Approx. Word Count: 587
Pages: 24 donates a portion of every Plushible sale to The Toy Foundation whose mission is to bring joy to needy children through toys. Give a gift, they get a gift. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Come Home Already! by Jory John

- Bear And Duck Have Unique Personalities -

This is the third book in a very cute series. 
  • Goodnight Already!
  • I Love You Already!
  • Come Home Already!
  • All Right Already!: A Snowy Story
When Duck waddles up to Bear's door, ready to embark on fun times, he finds a note posted:
"Gone fishin' 
Back next week" 

Duck can’t believe his friend left him behind. 
"FISHING?! What am I going to do with myself until then?!"
We see Bear's map as he happily stomps through the woods, eager to enjoy some freedom from his pesky neighbors who knock on his door at all hours.

Meanwhile, Duck is making up everything he can think of to keep himself busy and not think about Bear. Unfortunately, nothing seems to work. He continues to wonder what Bear is doing and if he's having lots of fun.

By now Bear is having trouble setting up the tent, it's starting to rain, he hasn't caught a single fish, he forgot to bring snacks, and he's over-all tired. And SCARED!

What will happen with these two sad friends?

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Nothing

What I Liked Most: The text and illustrations complement each other beautifully. The expressions on Bear's face pretty much tell how he feels about certain things. Both this
story as well as the others in the series are worth taking a look at.

Author: Jory John
Illustrator: Benji Davies
Publisher: HarperCollins (December 2017)

Approx. Word Count: 609
Pages: 32

A Plushible is more than just a stuffed animal. Each one embodies the spirit of giving in the classic, lovable form of a plush toy. Their motto: “Bridging Miles with Smiles.” Each animal carries with it warm thoughts to loved ones near and far—the gift-ready packaging makes your job easy. Everything about Plushibles makes them the cuddliest way to show someone you care.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

Captures Your Interest Almost Immediately!

#NetGalley #HerOneMistake  Available January 8, 2019

Most would agree that Harriet hovers over Alice, her only child, to a fault. When she finally entrusts her best friend Charlotte to take Alice to a school fair, the worst happens. Alice disappears! 

Charlotte, of course, panics. How could something so devastating have happened to 4-year-old Alice? After all, her three children are fine, only Alice has disappeared.

Emotions are high as the police interrogate everyone. The reader vacillates as the story moves along at a rapid pace. It's a whodunit that will keep you guessing to the very end. 

My Thoughts

What My Concerns Were: Nothing

What I Liked Most: If you've read many of my posts, you know I like a book to hook me from the get-go. This book certainly meets that criteria. You will be hooked and guessing up until the end.

Author: Heidi Perks
Publisher: Gallery Books Gallery Books (January 2019)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc.
  • Print Length: 320 pages

Monday, December 3, 2018

I Think I Can by Karen S. Robbins

Aardvark and Mouse Can Help You Learn To Read!

#NetGalley #IThinkICan   Available March 2019

This is a very simple interactive book that needs to be read with a partner. "The major reader reads the Aardvark's blue words while the new reader reads Mouse's black words.

It's almost a copied response, but one that should help the early reader begin to recognize sounds and words.

Each new spread slowly advances the story until the reader finds out what Aardvark thinks he can do.

The illustrations are comprised of only Aardvark and Mouse with the addition of a chair toward the end.

My Thoughts: 

What My Concerns Were: It is extremely sparse in both text and illustrations.

What I Liked Most: Though it is very repetitive and simple, the new reader is apt to feel excited about being able to "read."
Author: Karen S. Robbins
Illustrator: Rachael Brunson
Publisher: Schiffer (March 2019)

Over The River And Through The Wood illustrated by Emma Randall

Interpretation Of A Nostalgic Thanksgiving Song

I saw no indication that the words are from a traditional song that was once a poem written by Lydia Maria Child in 1844. If you are familiar with that original poem then you know the text in this book, though it has one change of wording. They are going to Grandmother's house, not Grandfather's house as in the original poem. 

The illustrations show two children in a sleigh and their parents preparing to follow them in another. As they travel through the snow to Grandmother's house for Thanksgiving they cross
"Over the river and through the wood, to Grandmother's house away!"
but the horse knows the way.
"We would not stop for doll or top, for 'tis Thanksgiving Day."
The heavy pages should easily withstand the little hands that might like to look at these colorful illustrations.

My Thoughts


What My Concerns Were: If you're interested in teaching this traditional song/poem, then this is a fun way to share that. Otherwise, I'm a little concerned about this story holding a child's interest.

What I Liked Most: The illustrations are bright and show several curious animals watching the sleigh as it travels through the woods.

Illustrator: Emma Randall
Publisher: Penguin Workshop (August 2018)

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book

16 Designs To Spread Holiday Cheer!

Volume 2

If you're looking for fun family projects to work on before Christmas, look no further. This heavy-duty hardback book has 16 fun ornaments to create. Each ornament begins with a list of the size and number of Lego pieces required. The instructions aren't rushed in any way and show precisely how to construct each piece.


Mr. Snow
Mrs. Snow
Gingerbread Man
Gingerbread House
Confetti Tree
Crane Game
'90s PC

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Since I'm not all that familiar with Lego pieces, I have no idea if the ones needed for each project are easy to obtain.

What I Liked Most: The ornaments are cute and the instructions look incredibly simple. If your family has a healthy supply of Lego pieces, I would heartily recommend this Christmas activity book.

Author: Chris McVeigh
Publisher: No Starch Press (October 2018)
  • Pages: 216  
  • More Information from the author, Chris McVeigh  
  • Click to view some of the pages of the book   

Convertible Multi Way Dresses


Friday, November 30, 2018

Team Steve by Kelly Collier

Steve The Horse May Have A Problem? 

Steve returns in his second picture book, the first being A Horse Named Steve

Steve loves spring since that means it's time for the annual Race-a-Thon. As he anticipates the upcoming race he admires the wall hangings showing the various races that he came in 1st place. 

Because Steve is who he is, he doesn't hold back on listing his wonderful qualities.

But . . . holy cow the Race-a-Thon rules have changed according to a sign that's posted on a tree! This year the race is to be a relay race. Steve doesn't panic, not yet anyway.
Not so fast, Steve the horse. To make the race fair, names were chosen to determine who would be assigned to each team. Steve's team will consist of himself, a duck, turtle, and snail.

Looks like this proud, winning horse might have a problem to deal with. But, wait a minute, Steve might possibly have come up with a brilliant idea, or is he just repeating what his teammates have been trying to tell him?

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: This definitely has a different feel than many picture books, since the illustrations are not colorful but rather a simple ink and watercolor. Amazon lists the age range from 4 - 8, however, I would lean toward the upper portion of that range.

What I Liked Most: These illustrations and tex have such humor and emotions conveyed even though they are quite simple. The story provides lots of discussion points:
  • Steve's pridefulness
  • Characteristics of a team
  • Teammates tolerance of Steve
  • Opportunity to discuss new vocabulary words
  • Winning and Losing attitudes (sportsmanship)
It's a fun story for both adults and kids.

Author/Illustrator: Kelly Collier
Publisher: Kids Can Press (2018)

Ruffle Hayes Sweater

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Super Simple Christmas Activities by Megan Borgert-Spaniol

Fun and Easy Holiday Projects For Kids

There is a short introduction to Christmas, a list of materials needed for the activities, then 9 chapters of fun holiday projects in this short 32-page book. The step by step instructions, complete with illustrations are for a
  • Button Ornament Card,
  • Bright Lights,
  • Banana Santas,
  • Tabletop Snowball Toss,
  • You're The Angel Ornament,
  • Handprint Wreath, 
  • Mini Christmas Trees,
  • Christmas Magnets, and 
  • Sled Ornament
There is one Key Symbol: Sharp!
"You will be working with a sharp object. Get help!"

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Nothing


What I Liked Most: All of the crafts require very little in the way of materials, are not complicated, and look nice.

Author: Megan Borgert-Spaniol
Publisher: Super Sandcastle (December 2017)

Lark Adventure Wear for Kids

Monday, November 19, 2018

Duck and Hippo Give Thanks by Jonathan London

- A Bit Of A Thanksgiving Mix Up -

Hippo is raking leaves and dreaming of a good, old-fashioned Thanksgiving. Who should land in his leaf pile but Duck? When an apple falls on Hippo's head, he hands it to duck and receives a nice, 
"Thanks, Hippo!" 
from Duck.
"Speaking of giving thanks," said Hippo, "tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Let's celebrate together!" 
Both Duck and Hippo continue meeting kind friends and inviting them to Hippo'sThanksgiving meal. Hippo and Duck decorate the table with leaves, squashes and little pumpkins. Then Duck heads home and Hippo heads to bed dreaming of a good, old-fashioned Thanksgiving.

But Duck doesn't head directly home, he first meets with all the friends who were invited for Thanksgiving and suggests that they make something special for Hippo!

The day of Thanksgiving Hippo hops out of bed and starts preparing his good, old-fashioned Thanksgiving meal for his friends. But where are his friends? He sits at the beautifully decorated table complete with holiday dishes.
"But it was getting late. Hippo looked out the window. The full harvest moon was rising over the trees. Night had some. But where, OH WHERE, were Hippo's friends?"
Finally, they all arrive bearing egg rolls sushi, pizza, and peanut-butter-and-jelly tacos for the holiday meal. Hippo is taken aback. Is this the traditional meal he was wanting? And what about the meal he's prepared.

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: While I was fine with this rather long picture book at the beginning, I became very concerned with the ending. Due to lack of communication Hippo sat alone all day until evening. He had worked hard decorating and planning the meal. Yet, lack of communication caused his friends to disrespect his wishes and hard work. All they would have had to do was bring their special dishes to share with Hippo at the appointed time.

What I Liked Most: The illustrations are very cute.

Author: Jonathan London
Illustrator: Andrew Joyner
Two Lions (August 21, 2018)
2 Stars 
May need a Fairy Godmother. 
Feels like it needs a rewrite or at the least to fix some bothersome places.
Too many things that don't work for me.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Elmore by Holly Hobbie

Emore Has A Rather Sticky Problem

Elmore is mostly happy living alone in an ancient maple tree.
"Every few days he would climb down the huge tree trunk as darkness fell to graze on his favorite leaves and twigs. Then back he would go to his snug hollow in the ancient tree."
At times, however, he feels a bit lonely and bored.

So one day he posts a sign on his tree trunk asking for friends. But he overhears:
"He's too prickly. It's hard to be around him."
Elmore has to admit that if animals get too close to him they might get pricked by one of his quills, but he never intends that to happen. When Elmore talks to his uncle about this problem, he is told to treasure his quills, they are a part of who he is.

But that advice doesn't help his situation, or does it?

The soft-colored illustrations complement the story beautifully.

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Nothing

What I Liked Most:  The illustrations and words make this a soothing, quiet story for bedtime. I loved the fact that Elmore didn't make himself a victim, but rather went into a problem-solving mode.

Author/Illustrator: Holly Hobbie
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers (January 2018)

Approx. Word Count: 490

Pages: 40

                       Cents of Style 

Will Keep You Looking Great at Affordable Prices

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Cooking With The Grinch by Tish Rabe

What Are Grinch and Cindy-Lou Up To?

The Grinch hears bells ringing and the Whos singing as he heads to town to do some cooking with Cindy-Lou Who.
"He likes to mix.
She likes to stir.
She cooks with him.
He cooks with her."
But when Max, the dog, happens by he is quickly shooed out the door. Finally, the treats are cooked and on a plate, but what have Grinch and Cindy-Lou whipped up?

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Nothing

What I Liked Most: Though the story doesn't have many words and there is lots of repetition, Tish Rabe and Tom Brannon manages to present a fun story that kids will enjoy.

Author: Tish Rabe
Illustrator: Tom Brannon
Publisher: Random House For Young Readers (September 2017)

Approx. Word Count: 131
*ATOS Book Level:  .8
**Step 1 Reading Book
Pages: 32

* What is ATOS Book Level?

ATOS Book Levels use the ATOS readability formula and represent the difficulty of the text. For instance, a book level of 1.5 means the text could likely be read independently by a student whose reading skills are at the level of a typical first grader during the fifth month of school. 
 **Step 1 Ready to Read Books
  • Books with large type and easy words. 
  • Picture Clues
  • Rhyme & Rhythm

Safari Science
Mini scientists will learn about the different types of safari habitats through scratch art boards and safari stencils, create their own set of safari animal tracking ID cards, explore animal migration with an animal tracking kit, and discover the dangers of quicksand by mixing up a real quicksand pit and "rescuing" African animals from it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Super Simple Thanksgiving Activities by Megan Borgert-Spaniol

9 Thanksgiving Projects For Kids

There is a short introduction to Thanksgiving, a list of materials needed for the activities, then 9 chapters of fun holiday projects in this short 32-page book. The step by step instructions, complete with illustrations are for a
  • Thumbprint Turkey Card,
  • Thanksgiving Garland,
  • Turkey Treats, Goofy Gobbler Charades,
  • Gratitude Wreath,
  • Autumn Glow Jar,
  • Colorful Corn Bouquet, Yarn Napkin Rings, and
  • Plump Paper Pumpkin.
There are two Key Symbols: One of a flame, indicating that the project requires the use of a stove or oven. The other is a symbol of a peanut, which means the project includes the use of nuts.

My Thoughts

What Concerned Me: Nothing

What I Liked Most: All of the crafts require very little in the way of materials, are not complicated, and look nice.

Author: Megan Borgert-Spaniol
Publisher: Super Sandcastle (December 2017)