Thursday, September 18, 2014

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods

A wave of Percy Jackson fandom has swept over our house in the last month. The last time this happened, my oldest was finishing 5th grade, and the first Percy Jackson movie was hitting the theaters. He read every book, raved about the movie, but our other boys were quite young then and the fire dwindled as he grew a little older.

Always on the lookout for new audiobooks for our two younger boys, I purchased Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief last month, and it has been on auto-repeat in their bedroom ever since. I admit to having a slight ulterior motive for this move. In addition to beginning a series, insuring fresh audio material for the next few months to come, I also managed to score a signed copy of Percy Jackson's Greek Gods when it hit bookstores last month. A perfect birthday present for my middle boy's upcoming birthday; the same boy who slept with d'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths for months last year!

Percy Jackson's Greek Gods is an imposing, grand book with a fabulously illustrated cover. For a Percy Jackson lover, the language, from Percy's own perspective and with his signature sarcasm, is highly descriptive and a perfect touch to lends an air of authenticity to the Greek mythology. Told from Percy's point of view, these stories will entice many young readers who might not otherwise read Greek mythology and will bring a fresh retelling to children who enjoy hearing the tales again and again.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

El Deafo

A new category of memoir has appeared on stage in children's literature: graphic novel memoirs. I first saw what an effective medium this could be in Raina Telgemeier's Sisters. El Deafo is another perfect example of how fascinating and funny a memoir can be when it's delivered in graphic novel form.

El Deafo narrates author Cece Bell's childhood from age 4, when she loses her hearing as a result of meningitis, to about 5th grade. Bell uses anthropomorphic bunnies to represent herself, her family and friends. This is really a fabulous idea as bunny ears are very noticeable, and Bell clearly feels similarly about her hearing aids. As Bell begins school and realizes that lip-reading is not quite adequate, she receives a phonic ear which allows her to hear the teacher through a special microphone around the teacher's neck. Bell spends the next few years with a secret: she can hear every conversation, every action of her teacher while the microphone is turned on, including her teacher's private discussions with other teachers in the hall and her teacher's um...bathroom activity. Bell clearly finds this amusing, and because of her newly discovered superpower, she nicknames herself El Deafo. Intertwined in her story is her struggle to feel normal and to find true friends. Many children who feel different in a variety of ways will identify strongly with Bell's feelings here. Parts of Bell's story are difficult and sad, but her strength and perseverance shines. You will not be able to resist rooting for El Deafo!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Brown Girl Dreaming

Jacqueline Woodson's expertly written memoir of a young African American girl's journey through a childhood in Ohio, South Carolina, and eventually Brooklyn during the Civil Right's movement should be in every 5th to 8th grade classroom, every school library, every "Must Read" shelf at the local library, every family bookshelf. Initially I was surprised by her choice to write Brown Girl Dreaming in free verse, but the quiet simplicity creates stark contrasts. Each verse explodes in turn with joy, heartbreak, circumspection, nostalgia. Even the briefest statement can have huge impact in this form. The entire book is amazing, but part of the beauty of Woodson's book is that individual chapters, verses, even lone sentences could easily fit alongside many Language Arts or American History curricula. In today's world of Common Core with snippets of a variety of texts, many teachers will rejoice to include Woodson's work among the required reading.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


After reading Journey, the Caldecott Honor-winning wordless picture book by Aaron Becker, I was certain there would never be another wordless picture book as beautiful and captivating as Journey is. And then Becker came along and released a sequel. If possible, Quest is even more captivating than Journey. Oh sure, there are far less lovely, quiet scenes of sparkling streams and rolling hills, deep forests beckoning our adventurer. But there are more majestic cities, amazingly detailed architecture, for which Becker is quickly becoming known, and breathtaking scenery. Quest is truly an epic sequel. (I don't often toss around the word "epic", especially for a picture book, but there is no other description for this incredible work of art.) is an appropriate title for Becker's website; the story breathing he manages with pen, ink, and watercolor is simply remarkable.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

365 Days of Wonder

Although R.J. Palacio's Wonder remains one of my favorite children's novels, and The Julian Chapter provided a satisfying glimpse into the bully's perspective, I wasn't sure about the 365 Days of Wonder when I heard that Mr. Browne's Book of Precepts was being published. Sure, a book of thoughtful sayings to ponder sounds nice, but not exactly the kind of book kids are likely to pick up for pleasure reading.

When I actually saw 365 Days of Wonder in my local bookstore last week, I changed my mind. I still don't think that most kids will pick this book up just to read it. It actually wouldn't take very long! But I really fell in love with the notion of a precept a day. At my own home, I'm keeping our copy near the kitchen table so that most mornings we can read the precept before scattering about our day. I think many teachers could find usefulness in the quick lessons taught here, or use them as writing prompts. My favorite parts though are the pages of precepts written by other children. Their ages and cities are noted in the contribution section at the end of the book. I'm thrilled to see the evidence that Wonder has impacted so many children and will continue through these variations on choose kind. Another nice touch that Palacio included are the essays by Mr. Browne at the end of each month. Each essay provides another insight to the story or to a character quality mentioned.

I'm eagerly waiting to see what Palacio's next work might be. She really has a talent for developing the Wonder story. I have every expectation that her next project will be a winner as well.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Flashback Friday: 26 Fairmount Avenue

Tomie dePaola has long been a favorite children's picture book author of mine. His Streganona series is hilarious and sweet. We've read dozens of his books from his Bible stories to his Native American legends. I'm almost ashamed to admit that I never even knew about his 26 Fairmount series until several months ago when I stumbled upon the first one at our local used bookstore.

26 Fairmount Avenue is the first book in dePaola's autobiographical early chapter book readers series. The story begins with the hurricane that hit his hometown of Meriden, CT in 1938 and continues through his kindergarten year until his family finally moves into their long awaited new house at 26 Fairmount Avenue. Each chapter contains a nearly independent story of an event that happened in dePaola's life during that period from spending time with his great grandmother, Nana Upstairs, to watching Disney's Snow White on the big screen and is woven with updates to the house that dePaola's family was building during that time. These events are relayed with dePaola's knack for beautiful storytelling. His ability to tell historical events through the lens of a young child brims with charm. My 7-year-old and I couldn't put the story down, and he's already asking for other books in the series to read on his own.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Fourteenth Goldfish

Ellie, beginning middle school with a best friend who has just found a passion in volleyball, is dismayed over the changes happening in her life when a surly, grouchy teenager steps into her life. This teenager happens to be her grandfather, a scientist made young again as the result of an anti-aging experiment. Forced to attend school with Ellie, Melvin, her grandfather, has a contentious relationship with Ellie's mother, despite their reversed roles. Worse, he's been kicked out of his own scientific laboratory as a trespassing teenager! As Ellie tries to help her grandfather retrieve his scientific formula, she learns about famous scientists, her mother's rebellion in choosing the arts over science, and even her own proclivity toward scientific thinking.

This is the first book I've read by Jennifer L. Holm. The cover art is eye-catching and cute in this fun and engaging middle grade read. The story is charming while departing astute observations on family dynamics. Ellie's divorce parents not only parent without dysfunction, but they are actually friendly toward each other. And Ellie discovers that despite her grandfather's and mother's oil-and-water relationship, she actually identifies with her grandfather's scientific obsession. The Fourteenth Goldfish is a humorous, enjoyable, speedy read, not laden with heavy vocabulary, and filled with realistic, identifiable characters. I hope we'll see more middle grade books coming from Jennifer L. Holm!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

Mercy Watson arrived in our family via my now 8th grade daughter. She was in 1st grade when she discovered the humorous porcine wonder at a book fair. There were only 3 Mercy Watson tales back then, but she devoured them with gusto. Needless to say, Mercy Watson entered my youngest son's life much earlier; one of the benefits of being the youngest sibling. He's heard Mercy Watson stories via audiobook or older siblings reading to him since he was a toddler. 

When I first showed him the ARC copy of Leroy Ninker Saddles Up, he didn't immediately make the connection. Once I informed him of the Mercy Watson connection, he gobbled up Leroy Ninker in one evening growing giddy at the sight of his beloved Mercy who makes a guest appearance.

As spin-offs go, the Deckawoo Drive characters have great promise. Under DiCamillo's skilled pen, Leroy Ninker develops a full-fledged personality, a maybe a bit of a mid-life crisis. Leroy Ninker decides that there must be more to life than working at the Bijou Drive-In Theater. He concludes that he is destined for greatness as a cowboy, and along with his hat, lasso, and boots, he works to acquire a horse, the inimitable, and highly sensitive, Maybelline. As always, DiCamillo uses fantastic vocabulary. (In what other early reader chapter book might you find both splendiferous and cogitate within pages of one another.) And Chris Van Dusen's sharp, humorous, and ever expressive illustrations are the perfect compliment to DiCamillo's storytelling.

Yippie-i-oh! We have a winner from Deckawoo Drive! Leroy Ninker Saddles Up hits bookstores tomorrow.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Flashback Friday: Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go

The first time I stumbled upon Richard Scarry was way back in my babysitting days about 25 years ago. I remember that whichever small child I was watching at the time was completely mesmerized by all the bits of action, intricate details, and many, many captions attached to the various objects. I remember thinking, even at age 13ish, what a brilliant concept for a young children's book. Tiny vehicles, animals that drive, labels on everything...a perfect reading companion for nearly any toddler or preschooler.

Fast forward 20 years to my youngest child's toddlerhood, a child whose first word was car, who played with Matchbox cars religiously from less than one year old. Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go arrived for his second birthday and remained close at hand for years. I can't even tell you how many times I read that long, long book at bedtime. (It takes serious time to read ALL. those. labels.) Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go is still a favorite that makes a frequent appearance. And I can definitely foresee it being one of those beloved books that remains on his teenage bookshelf and eventually is carried off to his adulthood to be saved for his own children someday.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild

Mr. Tiger is tired of his prim and proper position in the city and begins showing a few of his stripes. First by walking on all fours, soon progressing to shedding his clothes and...ROARing. *shudder* The upstanding members of his community suggest that perhaps he would be more comfortable acting wildly out in the wilderness. Mr. Tiger obliges, and although he finds the wilderness a freeing place to be wild, he soon finds that he misses his friends back in the city. He is welcomed back to town, in clothes, of course, and to his delight, he finds that some changes have occurred in his absence.

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild. The anthem of of children everywhere. Where do they go to unleash the wild bottled inside them? Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is an entertaining look at our desire to be recognized for who we are inside. I'm quite a fan of the dapper animals depicted in the beginning of the book, and an even bigger fan of their language, a perfectly appropriate level for children, yet indicative of the level of snootiness rampant in Mr. Tiger's city. Indeed. Unacceptable! Peter Brown's illustrations are a perfect compliment for the story. This dichromatic, rather simple style of artwork has taken off recently in children's picture books, and the results are very engaging. Mr. Tiger is no exception; from the rooftops to the buttoned up characters to the wilderness, the results are bold, bright, and humorous.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Young Knights of the Round Table

Young Knights of the Round Table:  The King's Ransom by Cheryl Carpinello  

About the Book

Title: Young Knights of the Round Table: The King's Ransom | Author: Cheryl Carpinello | Year published: April 17, 2013 | Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing | Number of pages: 120 | Recommended age: 9+
Summary: Three Friends. Three Quests. Three Mysterious Predictions.
At Pembroke Castle in medieval Wales,11-year-old Prince Gavin, 13-year-old orphan Philip, and 15-year-old blacksmith's apprentice Bryan, brought together in friendship by the one they call The Wild Man, embark upon a quest to save The Wild Man's life when he is accused of murder and robbery. If they have any hope of succeeding, the three will have to confront their fears and insecurities, and one of them will have to disclose the biggest secret of all. But it is the arrival of King Arthur and what he reveals that surprises characters and readers.  


2013 EVVY Finalist and EVVY Merit Award for Juvenile/Young Adult from Colorado Independent Publishers Assoc.
2013 Ariana Cover Finalist
2012 Silver Award Recipient for YA Fiction from Children's Literary Classics and the CLC's 2012 Seal of Approval.
2012 Finalist E-Book Children from USA 2012 Best Book Awards


Amazon * Barnes & Noble * iBookstore

Smashwords * MuseItUp Publishing


Free Educational Supplement

Visit the Wise Owl Factory for a FREE study guide. Click on the image below.
Young Knights Teaching Supplement - Wise Owl Factory  

The Buzz About the Book

"Young Knights of the Round Table is a short, fast-paced adventure set in Arthurian times which features great character development, an intriguing and engaging plot, and a surprise ending (in more ways than one!). I would highly recommend this book to tween and teen boys and girls who love mysteries or stories set in the time of King Arthur." ~ Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews
"I so enjoyed the factual information about weapons, clothing, daily life, and places, cleverly interspersed in the text and dialogue to inform without overwhelming young readers. The author has a gift for delving into the depths of each young hero’s psyche. The way each one of the trio faces their fears, learns to believe in themselves, and finds their true meaning and path in life is moving. This is a superb coming-of-age story, set in a time of chivalry and pageantry, and harking back to an age when a hero was truly a hero. Five stars! " ~ Fiona Ingram, Author
"There is much to rave about this book, and I don’t want to give anything away because it’s a quick paced, thrilling, new classic about the knights. Witches, white stags, and a Wild Man make the plot exciting, along with cheering along the young knights. There are quite a few surprises at the end that really make the book a great read. We highly recommend this book for any young reader; sure, boys might convinced by the action and title, but I’m positive all young readers will enjoy the mystery and chivalry of Young Knights of the Round Table: The King’s Ransom! " ~ Tales of a Bookworm
"I absolutely loved this book... [T]his book has just enough Arthurian legend to tie it to and draw from that period of history while being jam-packed with fantastic new characters and fresh plot twists. I am rarely surprised by things in books, but this book really surprised me with a few events I totally did not see coming! I highly recommend this book for young readers! It would be an excellent tie-in to a unit study about King Arthur." ~ Mommynificent
"This is a fast-paced story that children and adults will both enjoy! It's well-written and exciting as we read about the fears each boy faces and how they are able to triumph. It's a great story about loyalty, friendship and overcoming obstacles. Because of the length, it doesn't drag or slow down at all, so it's fun to read and hard to put down. And the ending is full of surprises! I highly recommend reading this book! " ~ Mel's Shelves

About the Author: Cheryl Carpinello

Cheryl Carpinello, Author
 I love the Ancient and Medieval Worlds! As a retired English teacher, I hope to inspire young readers to read more andto reach reluctant readers with my Arthurian Tales and soon a series of stories from ancient lands and legends that will take readers on adventurous quests throughout history.

Author Website * Author Blog * Facebook

Goodreads * Twitter * Google+

Book Buzzer * Amazon Author Page



* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift CardPrize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: September 9, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Cheryl Carpinello and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway MDBR Book Promotion Services

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I Kill the Mockingbird

If there was ever a novel written for the spark of a 12 year old who remains inside me, it might be I Kill the Mockingbird. A book written about a classic with references to many other books in nearly every chapter, love. I Kill the Mockingbird details the rather ordinary lives of 3 young teens. The each love classic literature; a love not shared by many in their English class especially when the summer reading list is delivered. In homage to a former (deceased) English teacher who planned to only assign To Kill a Mockingbird for summer reading, they search for ways to bring the spotlight back to this beloved American classic, including reshelving copies of the book in their local bookstores and libraries and starting a website titled Once social media begins chattering about I Kill the Mockingbird, their scheming moves like wildfire beyond the borders of their state and through various parts of the country. Ultimately, these young teens must decide how to handle the firestorm they've created and keep To Kill a Mockingbird from disappearing from bookstores altogether.

I Kill the Mockingbird perfectly blends humor and thoughtfulness bringing alive young teens in a novel that's not quite middle grade and not quite YA, a nice bridge actually for 7th-9th graders who might have moved beyond standard MG but not be quite ready for the heady topics often present in YA novels. The two quotes I'm posting below are perfect examples of the witty, intelligent writing that make IKM a page-turning, fun read:

"We will speak for the books." 
"Like the Lorax?" 
"The Lorax speaks for the trees," I remind her. 
"Books are made out of paper. Paper is made out of trees." 
"What about e-books?" 
"We can speak for them too." 
"Audiobooks speak for themselves." She grins. "Get it?" 

"Where did you hide your Mockingbirds?" he asks. 
"Ornithology," she replies. 
"You hid TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD with the bird books?" I ask. 
Elena shrugs. "I was being ironic."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Pen Pieyu Adventures

Pen Pieyu Diane Mae Robinson


About the Books

Book 1:

Sir princess petra pen pieyu adventures
Title: Sir Princess Petra (The Pen Pieyu Adventures Book #1) | Author: Diane Mae Robinson | Year published: 2012 | Publisher: Tate Publishing | Number of pages: 68 | Recommended age: 5+
Summary: Princess Petra's unusual birthday request sends the royal court into a frenzy, but when she agrees to undertake a knight's quest they can't stop her. Armed with a cake knife and outfitted in the best royal pots and pans, Petra sets off to face a dragon and win her real armor before encountering a bog witch, and an army of the kingdom's worst enemies. Will Petra's kindness and acceptance prove to be more valuable than weapons and armor?
Awards for book one, Sir Princess Petra:
2012 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award (Literary Arts). 2012 First Runner Up in the Purple Dragonfly Book Award in the Children's Chapter Book category 2013 Honorable Mention in the Reader's Favorite International Book Awards 2013 Finalist in the “50 Great Writers You Should be Reading” Award

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Tate Publishing * Goodreads

  Video Preview (Book 1):  

Book 2:

Sir Princess Petra's Talent by Diane Mae Robinson
Title: Sir Princess Petra's Talent (The Pen Pieyu Adventures Book 2) | Author: Diane Mae Robinson | Publication Date: September 24, 2013 | Publisher: Tate Publishing | Number of pages: 92 | Recommended age: Read-aloud ~ 5+
Summary: Sir Princess Petra has already proven she is a kind and noble knight. This, however, does not please the king and queen---they want her to behave like a princess and forget this silly knight nonsense of hers! But when the king writes a new rule in the royal rule book that requires her to attend Talent School and acquire a princess talent certificate or suffer the spell of the royal magician, Petra, reluctantly, agrees to go. But who could have guessed what Sir Princess Petra’s Talent would be?
Awards for book two, Sir Princess Petra's Talent:
2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Awards, finalist in three categories:
Children's Fantasy SciFi Children's Grade K - 3rd Children's Grade 4- 6th

Amazon * Barnes and Noble * Tate Publishing * Goodreads

  Video Preview Book 2:  

The Buzz About the Books

Book 1: "I really feel that this little book is a gem. It is a relatively short book (70-ish pages) that can easily be read aloud to children in one sitting. My kids and I were completely captivated by this fun, adventure-filled tale about a very charming and unorthodox princess. I highly recommend this book to families with children under the age of 10 and as young as 5 who love a good tale filled with fairy-tale characters such as dragons, witches, princesses, and knights." ~ Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews
Book 1: "I liked this book because it has a great story line and a great message about believing in yourself. Petra proves that she and all girls can be daring, adventurous and brave. I think Petra was a great character and I liked Snarls (the dragon) even better because he had good sense and dragons are just cool. The book is a beginning chapter book so there isn't a lot of details in it but it tells a complete story. The black and white illustrations in the book are really great too. The book is part of "The Pen Pieyu Adventures." I hope that means there will be more books about Petra coming out! This book is an awesome beginning chapter book and a great read aloud." ~ Erik @ This Kid Reviews Books
Book 1: "Sir Princess Petra is one of those stories that will appeal to most everyone. It is charmingly funny. Petra sets out to prove she has what it takes to be a royal knight and proves she can do nearly anything. Snarls, the howling dragon, is endearing and lovable. If stuffed, sitting on a toy store shelf, every kid would want him. The story is short enough to be read in one sitting, say at bedtime. There are many opportunities for humorous, wacky, high-pitched voices, making Sir Princess Petra fun to read aloud. The author's imagination is appropriately childlike. Petra is a child every parent will love. I know a child would have sweet, funny dreams after hearing mom or dad read this at bedtime."~ Sue M. @ Kid Lit Reviews
Book 2: "Sir Princess Petra's Talent is precisely everything an early middle grade book should be with a multi-dimensional main character who is a great role model for young girls; a great supporting cast of unique and quirky characters; a plot largely driven through clever dialogue amongst the characters and involving much adventure and folly; and unexpected turns and twists that willleave parents and their children laughing out loud. " ~ Renee @ Mother Daughter Book Reviews
Book 2: "This is an adventurous story, which gets going from the very first page and doesn't stop. The characters are all enjoyable, and the situations, although sometimes challenging for Princess Petra, are very appropriate for the age group." ~ Tonja @ Bookworm for Kids
Book 2: "The[se books] are early chapter books, fun and suitable for children ages six and up. They move very quickly and are quite short, so I think they’d be particularly suitable for reluctant readers. I also think boys would enjoy these books as Sir Princess Petra thinks and behaves in the way I imagine most boys wish girls would think and behave – kind, down-to-earth, adventurous, and never squeamish or manipulative." ~ Tina @ Mommynificent

About the Author: Diane Mae Robinson

Diane Mae Robinson
 Diane lives in a small hilltop castle nestled amongst a very old and magical forest. In this mystical forest, all the fantasy creatures one can imagine live and audition for parts in the author’s next book. Diane has a journalism diploma from the Schools of Montreal and an advanced diploma from the Institute of Children’s Literature. The author also teaches acrylic and watercolor art to children, and is a writing instructor at the Creative Writing Institute. The author’s first book in this series, Sir Princess Petra, has won three prestigious awards, and was a finalist for another award. The author recently acquired an agent with Gotham Artists Agency in New York.

Website * Blog * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads * LinkedIn * Google+


* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card
  Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) + BONUS SECOND PRIZE = Hardcover copies of both The Pen Pieyu Adventures Books by Diane Mae Robinson Contest ends: August 28, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winners will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winners will then have 72 hours to respond. If a winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Diane Mae Robinson and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway MDBR Book Promotion Services

Friday, July 25, 2014

Flashback Friday: Bunnicula

My youngest fell under the spell of Bunnicula a few months ago, just as his brothers did when they were about his age. It took a bit of convincing as the cover art made him nervous. (I think I remember similar expressions from his older brothers.) Once we'd read a chapter or two together, he was hooked.

Bunnicula is the story of Chester, the cat, and Howard, the dog, who live a rather charmed life with their human family. The father is a professor, and Chester enjoys listening to his lectures. The family's sons are kind and fun to play with. Into the mix comes a new pet, a bunny with fangs, named Bunnicula. Shortly after the new bunny arrives, the family finds a white tomato on the table one morning. The family seems dismissive of the bunny's juice-sucking skills, but Chester is determined to catch Bunnicula in the matter the cost! Predictably, various hijinks ensue in this effort.

Bunnicula is a classic read for those just beginning to read chapter books independently. Bunnicula is also a great introduction to the genre of mystery and scary stories for 1st to 3rd graders who need to take baby steps into that pool.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Red Knit Cap Girl and the Reading Tree

The latest in the Red Knit Cap Girl series might just be my favorite! As a knitter, each of the Red Knit Cap Girl books are dear to my heart, but when Red Knit Cap Girl finds the perfect hollow tree to read with her forest heart can hardly take it. Each of Red Knit Cap Girl's forest friends brings a book to leave in the hollow tree, except beaver who has no book to bring. He decides to bring his wood-working skills and make bookshelves for inside the tree. With the addition of a few cozy blankets, Red Knit Cap Girl and all of her animal friends have a snug spot for their reading.

Not officially available until September, Red Knit Cap Girl and the Reading Tree is sure to be a new favorite in the series. As always, Stoop's illustrations are simple, lovely, and exceedingly sweet. The community spirit, particularly around sharing books, featured in this story reminds me of the Little Free Libraries that are springing up everywhere. If you've missed the first two installments in this series (Red Knit Cap Girl and Red Knit Cap Girl to the Rescue), you should find a copy in your local library immediately!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Have You Seen My Tail?

Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for the adorable picture book "Have You Seen My Tail?" by Kathryn Harper.

Have You Seen My Tail? by Kathryn Harper

About the Book

Title: Have You Seen My Tail? (Katie-Jane, Book #2) | Author & Illustrator: Kathryn Harper | Publication Date: July, 2014 | Publisher: Green Cup Publishing | Pages: 36 | Recommended Ages: 3 to 8 Summary: Anyone who has ever struggled to accept - or longed to experience - change of any kind will be able to relate to Katie-Jane's second story, "Have You Seen My Tail?" Using rhyming verse, and laugh-out-loud moments, Katie-Jane begins this story feeling bored. She is surprised and shocked as she meets a butterfly, a frog and a snake; who are all struggling to accept the recent big changes in their lives. Different perspectives help all four characters to accept their own situations, and embrace change in the way life offers it to them. "Have You Seen My Tail?" is the second book in the six-part Katie-Jane series, designed to encourage the reader to 'be the very best version of you.'  

Sneak Peek

Have You Seen My Tail? by Kathrn Harper - Inside Page  


Amazon | Book Website

You can also purchase the first book in the Katie-Jane Series, "Am I a Chameleon?" by clicking the book cover below:
Am I a Chameleon by Kathrn Harper  

Early Buzz About the Book

"Author Kathryn Harper offers insightful questions and answers at the end of the book explaining how she feels about change. I love how these insightful thoughts give the reader a chance to verbalize their own feelings. Like her other books, the illustrations are beautiful and vivid. Each of the animals has a wonderfully rich texture, color, and personality. The Katie-Jane books continue to not disappoint, I look forward to seeing the next books in the series." ~ 5 Star Review, Katherine R., Amazon
"Katie-Jane is a very sweet character in "Have You Seen My Tail?" She helps to explain change in a gentle and unsuspecting way. This is the second book in the series for Author, Kathryn Harper. She writes a relatable story that children all over the world can grasp and understand. " ~ 5 Star Review, Mary Jo P., Amazon

About the Author: Kathryn Harper

Kathryn Harper
I have always loved to write, draw and create, but my books are inspired by more than my love for their medium. As a child I was selective mute. Both my struggles and my breakthroughs are a source of inspiration toward creating Katie-Jane and her stories. I grew up in the UK, after living in Johannesburg between the ages of two and five. Today I live in Wanaka, New Zealand, with my two gorgeous children and partner, Simon. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to call this place home, where an adventure can begin every time we step outside.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads


* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card
  Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: August 21, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Kathryn Harper and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway MDBR Book Promotion Services

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Absolutely Almost

Albie is a fifth grader living in NYC, a boy who is almost good at many things. Almost, but not quite. Albie regularly miscalculates the tip for the man who delivers his Chinese food. Albie only wants to read Captain Underpants, not the more literary books written for fifth graders. Albie struggles with his spelling list each week. Albie also possesses one of the kindest, most compassionate, most sincere hearts recently depicted in children's literature. He knows that he doesn't live up to his parents expectations and that the cool kids in school ridicule him. Albie's best friend still attends his former school, leaving Albie to forge his own way this school year. All of these regular life struggles form a story of a simple boy endeavoring to find his way during the oft-turbulent pre-teen years.

Absolutely Almost provides an interesting narration for today's middle grade reader: the plight of the average child. Albie is not really good at anything. He's not a stellar student; he doesn't have any outstanding hobbies. He is kind and compassionate, but those traits are often overlooked in the search for a tangible talent. His parents are not particularly understanding and often push him to "do better". As a parent of 4 myself, Albie's perspective of his parents demands, even their relative lack of involvement in his education and the detail of his days, resonated heavily with me. Albie's new babysitter, Calista, appears to be his savior, and while most kids reading this novel will fall in love with her, I found her sugar-enabling, school-skipping, Peter Pan-type behavior to be a bit over the line. That said, she is sympathetic toward Albie in a manner he desperately needs, and she frequently points out life truths that help him along the way. One of my favorite exchanges between them occurs while they are discussing the fact that Albie may never find something in life that he's good at:
"I want to be something I'm good at." [Albie] said.
Calista...looked more serious than normal. "You should do something because you love it, not just because you're good at it."
"But you're good at art, and you love it." [Albie] told her.
She nodded. "Did you ever think maybe the love part comes first? Find something you want to keep doing forever, even if you stink at it. And then, if you're lucky, with lots of practice, then one day you won't stink so much."
"But what if I'm not lucky?" [Albie] asked her. "What if I do find something I love, and then I always stink at it?"
Calista smiled her thoughtful smile. "Then won't you be glad you found something you love?"
Albie's struggle does not reach a tidy conclusion by the end of the novel. Although Albie does have a better sense of self, I could easily see Albie's story being open for a sequel. Either way, Albie will leave many children identifying with his plight and even more children rooting for his success.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Flight of the Mite

Flight of the Mite 
  Title: Flight of the Mite | Author: Grayson Smith | Illustrator: Alana Kyle | Publication Date: 2013 | Publisher: Peppermint Toast Publishing: Independent | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 3 to 8 | Reviewed by: Renee and Dominic (Mother and Son) Information About The Book: A tale of wonder and imagination, Flight of the Mite is a children's read-aloud picture book, written by Grayson Smith and illustrated by Alana Kyle. As a tiny mite stares in wonder at the nighttime stars, she becomes certain that if she were only able to travel to them, she would meet a world of wondrous creatures. She determines to build a flying contraption, and through persistence, ingenuity, and wise counsel, journeys to the nearest star. There she encounters the Others of her dreams and finds herself on an adventure where she learns that her imagination is her most important tool! This story of imagination, courage, and determination is perfect for the little mite in your life! Flight of the Mite is the first book published by the independent small press, Peppermint Toast Publishing, out of New Westminster, British Columbia. Peppermint Toast Publishing strives to work with emerging authors and artists towards the high-quality and environmentally-friendly publication of children's picture books and literature, in profit-sharing partnership with local charitable organizations.  


Peppermint Toast Publishing is happy to be contributing $3 from the sales for each copy of Flight of the Mite sold, going to help sick kids get better at BC Children’s Hospital. Visit their Online Store to purchase your copy!

Peppermint Toast Publishing | Amazon (Canada)


The Buzz About the Book

Mother and Son Review by MDBR: "Flight of the Mite is a delightful, rhyming picture book featuring an adorable little mite who dreams big as the main character; a magical story underscoring the importance of imagination in children's development; and absolutely gorgeous and whimsical illustrations. I highly recommend this book to children ages 3 to 8 and I think it would be a great choice for reading aloud to children in a classroom or library setting."
"This is our new favourite story to read and will be a book that we will be keeping to pass down to future member of our family." ~ Raincity Parent
"This wonderful piece of children’s literature is well crafted and appropriate for children and adults, the message is clear, embrace diversity, ones weakness may actually be strength. The most interesting and entertaining part is that there is a consistent rhythm and rhyme to the story, keeping the powerful message light and playful." ~ Active Lee Dadding
" I have read the sweetest story!...The combination of these two talents [i.e., the author and illustrator] working together has left us with a sweet rhyming story about a little mites big imagination." ~ Moments in Mommyland
"I recently received a new children’s book to review called Flight of the Mite. So of course I went to the best critic in the house – my 4 year old son[...]. We sat down to read the story together and discovered a delightful tale about imagination and discovery... The illustrations are delightful and [my son] insisted that we stop to discuss some of them along the way. There was more than one “wow!” over a picture of the mite climbing a dandelion." ~ Prenatal to Parenting

About the Author: Grayson Smith

Grayson Smith
Grayson Smith was born in Alberta, but attended a boarding school in Germany for 11 years. After high school, he attended SFU, where he obtained a degree in Criminology and met his beautiful wife, Linda. Throughout university, Grayson wrote stories when he should have been paying attention in class. After completing his degree, he became a police officer, and still enjoys that job thoroughly. As of 2012, Grayson gets to re-envision the world through the eyes of his baby son, Josiah. Writing is a wonderful way for Grayson to express the silliness and vagary that simmers beneath his well-practiced outer layer of respectability and professionalism.    

About the Illustrator: Alana Kyle

Alana Kyle, Illustrator
Alana Kyle was born and raised in the Lower Mainland. As a small child, she was sweet, quiet, and frequently lost inside her own head. Ever since she was young, she was motivated by her love of artistic creativity and attention to detail, and remains captivated by storybooks and imagination. Alana attended and graduated from Emily Carr University of Art + Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and also obtained a three-year diploma of Illustration and Design from Capilano University. She works as an illustrator and graphic designer, and lives in Coquitlam.  

Links to More Information

Peppermint Toast Publishing | Twitter | Goodreads

Facebook (Peppermint Toast Publishing) | Facebook (Flight of the Mite)


* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

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  Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: August 19, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Grayson Smith and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Flashback Friday: Ginger Pye

Ginger Pye is the name of the sweet and playful pup that Jerry Pye cleaned church pews saving his hard earned coins until he finally had saved a dollar to buy her. Jerry brings Ginger home, and he becomes part of the family, following Jerry around town. On Thanksgiving Day, Ginger disappears from the Pye's backyard. Jerry makes every effort to find Ginger, while also trying to figure out who the mysterious figure is who's been following them. 

Ginger Pye won the 1952 Newbery Award, and it's fascinating to see the reaction to it now. If you look at the reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, you'll find as many negative or mediocre reviews as positive ones. The story is definitely set in a different time, but the writing is from that time too. If you need high excitement or wild adventure, this probably isn't the book for you, but if you want a sweet story from an earlier era, Ginger Pye is a beautiful read. In reading it aloud to my own kids a couple of years ago, I found that it took a few chapters to captivate them, but they all loved it by the end. I think kids really do appreciate a simple and sweet story as much as a highly adventurous one. They sometimes just have to be exposed to them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Electric Ben

The life of Benjamin Franklin is covered in many-a children's book, some I've even posted about previously. But never has Ben Franklin been presented to children quite like this: bold, unconventional, witty, and decisive. From Ben's boyhood in Massachusetts through his various jobs as a printer, publisher, editor, writer, thinker, inventor, statesman, and diplomat, Electric Ben journeys through Ben's life in great detail infusing bits of information not generally found in other children's biographies about him. Covered in these oversized pages are many of Ben's inventions, depicted through text and illustration, as well as his many contributions to the formation of our country, including his many trips abroad and the letters and pamphlets he wrote to aid the cause.

This book is recommended for K-3, although I'm not quite sure I agree with that assessment. The text is rather dense for a kindergartener, even if it is read aloud. My first grader enjoyed listening to it read aloud last year, although not all first graders would. My fifth grader chose this, at my urging, for a biography last year, and he very much enjoyed that he found plenty of information that he needed, while the illustrations kept his interest visually. Whatever ages decide to read this will definitely find a gem of a biography, and I foresee Electric Ben being read often in our household for many years to come!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jack the Boogey is My Real Name

Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for "Jack the Boogey is My Real Name" by Davon Washington & Chase Washington, a delightful bedtime picture book for children who are afraid of the dark.

Jack the Boogey is my Name by Davon Washington

About the Book

Title: Jack the Boogey is my Real Name: The Truth about "The Boogeyman" | Authors: Davon Washington & Chase Washington | Illustrator: Ana-Gabriela Stroe | Publication Date: January 1, 2014 | Publisher: Bedford House Books | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 3 to 8 Summary: Have a child that's afraid of the dark? Are you a little curious about what happens when the lights go out? This delightful children's picture book will not only enhance the night time reading experience but bedtime in itself will never be the same. Jack The Boogey encourages kids to push through their fears, persevere and always do the right thing. One of the world's most feared creatures may have just become the most loved.  

Sneak Peek

Jack the Boogey - Inside Page - Davon Washington  


Amazon | Book Website | Goodreads

Receive a FREE "Monster Repellent" Sticker with the purchase of "Jack the Boogey is my Real Name". Just click the image below for more information.

Monster Repellent Sticker Davon Washington

The Buzz

"I highly recommend this adorable tale to children who don't want to go to sleep at night because they are afraid the Boogeyman will get them! They just might discover that this isn't true. " ~ 5 Star Review, Amy G., Amazon
"My little one and I thoroughly enjoyed the story (he made me read it twice as soon as I took it out of the package and I had to distract him with Monsters University to get away to write a review), but the real treat to me was stashed in the cover blurb hidden away in the back of the book. It's written by Davon Washington and his son, Chase. Davon wanted to help young Chase understand how much work and effort went into providing the nice things he had, so he let Chase make this a project in which they could collaborate and Chase could get an idea of the value of hard work. To me, that's the best part of the story! " ~ 5 Star Review, Breeni B., Amazon
"I loved this book! The illustrations were such a big pull for me. It almost felt like watching a tv show in the sense that you are brought into the world of Jack the Boogey instead of trying to imagine the scariest non-monster possible. I do think that this is a great read for Young Readers because of the conflict and resolution. I enjoyed that Jack showed vulnerability (being upset over the children's misunderstanding that he was actually a helpful GOOD monster) and that it was OK to show emotion. This is a great lesson for all young readers. Sometimes when they see life lessons happening via forms of entertainment (books, movies, tv, et al) vs. just hearing about it from their parents, it sinks in a bit more." ~ 5 Star Review, LaToya, Amazon

About the Authors: Davon & Chase Washington

Davon Washington
Davon Washington is an entertainment executive who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Davon has made a career out of helping people bring their artistic dreams to fruition. The same people who more often than not do very little to enhance the tender minds of the culture that supports them. Creative thinking isn't a skill that you learn as an adult. It starts with that same imagination that we let run wild after we've mastered harder tasks like walking, talking and using the bathroom ourselves. It's Davon's mission to build a nation of creative thinkers one book at a time. Davon and his six-year old son, Chase collaborated to bring Jack the Boogey is My Real Name to life. This is their first book.  

Book Website | Tumblr | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram


* $25 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon 25 gift card Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: August 12, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Davon Washington and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. a Rafflecopter giveaway MDBR Book Promotion Services