Monday, June 30, 2014

The Cat Who Lost His Meow

The Cat Who Lost His Meow by Angela Muse

About the Book

Title: The Cat Who Lost His Meow | Author: Angela Muse | Illustrator: Helen H. Wu | Publication Date: June 1, 2014 | Publisher: Independent | Pages: 32 | Recommended Ages: 3+ Summary: Chester the lazy calico cat has suddenly lost his meow. He’s looking everywhere, but can’t seem to find his voice. When Chester puts himself in a frightening situation he not only finds his voice return, but he also finds his courage. This experience makes Chester appreciate things a little bit more than he had before. Amazon    

About the Author: Angela Muse

Angela Muse, Author Angela Muse was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to being the "new kid" in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends, but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first rhyming children's book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children's picture books and released her first young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls, in 2012.

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* $50 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift Card Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: July 29, 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, Angela Muse 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, June 27, 2014

Flashback Friday: Caddie Woodlawn


Eleven-year-old Caddie Woodlawn is a tomboy growing up in the 1860s who would rather plow than sew, and she spends the bulk of her time chasing her brothers around the farm, having escapades in the woods. Her mother and sisters do not understand, nor approve, of her rough-and-tumble life. She spends her time stringing one adventure to the next, adventures filled with practical jokes and heartfelt events too. Despite the fun that Caddie has with her brothers, it is eye-opening to see how often death was a part of life back then, between a fall through the ice, settlers planning an attack on the Indians, and a prairie fire. When Caddie's "perfect" cousin Annabelle visits from Boston, Caddie must face her future and the growing up she's always resisted.

Set during the same time period as Little House in the Prairie, there are many parallels to be drawn here. Although the Woodlawns do not face the same suffering that the Ingalls do, from lack of funds, crop failure, and settling in the wrong territory, the pioneering spirit and work ethics are nearly identical. Rather than being a story of survival, like the Little House books, Caddie Woodlawn is more a story of a tomboy's adventure toward adulthood. Caddie Woodlawn is the author's grandmother, who raised her through childhood, and it's easy to see that the author admires Caddie's spirit.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mysteries of the Grand Canyon

Mysteries of the Grand Canyon by Marie von Minden  

About the Book

Title: Mysteries of the Grand Canyon | Author: Marie von Minden | Publication Date: March 21, 2013 | Publisher: | Adventures of Discovery: Independent | Pages: 110 | Recommended Ages: 5 to 12 (read-aloud for younger children) Summary: The author of the first interactive Grand Canyon ebook for children takes her readers on an exciting journey as a lively little dog befriends a California condor and an Abert’s squirrel, and together they explore the canyon. What child wouldn’t want to go on the adventure of a lifetime with a great pup like Kristi Kay and follow her on a multimedia journey that is both fun and educational? Amazing stories told by her new friends keep you wondering what surprising new secrets they will reveal next. What happened to the people that lived in the canyon? Will the condors in the rescue program survive? This adventure story for elementary grade children offers an engaging way to experience the Grand Canyon. For those who would like to learn more about the issues touched upon in the story, additional information is provided in the Kristi Kay Talks with a Ranger section at the end of the book via interactive media, photo galleries, maps, charts, and links to external websites. This interactive ebook is especially appropriate for children 7-11 years old, and as a read aloud for younger children, and it would also be well-suited for an educational setting. Divided into 12 chapters, the book lends itself to be read in several sessions at the age appropriate pace. “Mysteries of the Grand Canyon” is the first book in the A Cairn Terrier Travels to National Parks series, a series of educational adventure stories created to inspire appreciation and stewardship of our precious parks.  

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"Mysteries of the Grand Canyon is educational, exciting, and entertaining all rolled into one. Marie Von Minden gives readers a fascinating glimpse into the canyon's past as well as the creatures that still call the Grand Canyon home. The interactive function allows for further learning and the brilliant photos visually stimulate children and help instill the knowledge found within the story." I highly recommend picking up a copy of Mysteries of the Grand Canyon." ~ BeachBoundBooks
"A must have experience for young people. With its cute, intelligent looking dog, and a bird that looks like it was conceived by Dr. Seuss, it puts us into an animal society - so beautifully conceived in its civility, generosity, and interest and care for the world - that it is reminescent of books like Winnie the Pooh. These elements, set in the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, beautifully brought out by magnificent photographs and videos, make it a compelling book from both parents' and teachers' points of view. ~ Mr. Naturally, iBookstore Review
"Overall, this iBook provides a great introduction to the Grand Canyon to children who are about to visit it or who just want to learn more about this important National Park. It includes lots of beautiful photographs, the story is engaging and there is a huge wealth of information included. I found it a great opportunity to talk about the Grand Canyon with my son, and tell him about my own experiences visiting the park and hiking into the crater. I also really enjoyed learning about the California Condor and all the effort that has gone into the Recovery Program; it provided a great opportunity to talk about Endangered Species and our responsibility to help preserve them." ~ iMum
"More than just a story, the book has incredible imagery that appears to lift off the page – a true photographic journey." ~ Mom's Lifesavers
"Readers of all ages will enjoy this engaging story to discover one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World at the Grand Canyon National Park. This photographically rich and entertaining ebook is especially appropriate for 7-11 year olds and as a read aloud for younger children, and it would also be well suited for an educational setting." ~ The Appy Ladies
"As a teacher, I am grateful to use this amazing book with my class! My students loved learning about the Grand Canyon from precious Kristi Kay's point of view, and they were excited to participate in the interactive aspects of the book; they didn't want to put it down!" ~ A. Gillette, iBookstore Review
 

About the Author: Marie von Minden

KK and Marie for websiteJPGWould you like to live each day surrounded by unsurpassed beauty and deeply connected to nature? Marie finds it hard to believe, but this is now her lifestyle and she wants to share it through her photography and stories. Marie von Minden was born and raised in Poland. She immigrated to Canada in 1982 and in 1999 she and her husband relocated to the United States. Like many Europeans, she was overwhelmed by the vastness and the beauty of North America and she developed a passion for landscape photography. They began camping in the wilderness and connecting with nature on weekends and holidays, first in a tent and later in a cap-over camper. It was during those camping trips that a dream of full-time traveling and living in an RV evolved. In 2002 that dream became reality and they have been traveling in a 34 foot Airstream trailer ever since. America’s National Parks continue to be one of their favorite places to visit. When Kristi Kay, a Cairn Terrier, joined them, the idea of a children’s book series about America’s National Parks as seen through Kristi Kay’s eyes grew as a natural extension of their lifestyle and love of nature. Through interactive adventure stories enhanced by photography selected from her vast photographic library, animation, sounds, videos, and unique graphics Marie hopes to express her gratitude for what has become her home, and to help cultivate appreciation and stewardship of these precious resources.

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* $100 Book Blast Giveaway *

Amazon $50 Gift CardAmazon $50 Gift Card           Prize: 2 x $50 Amazon Gift Cards or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: July 25, 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, Marie von Minden 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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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Half a Chance


Lucy's father is a photographer who travels frequently for his job. He heads out on assignment just as her family is getting settled into their new little red cottage on a New Hampshire lake. Lucy quickly meets the family in the cottage next door, one of the summer families. As Lucy gets to know them, she becomes fast friends with Nate, about her age, and often goes with him on Loon Patrol, where she learns a great deal about the lake's feathered residents. As Lucy tells Nate about a youth photography contest her father is judging, they decide to enter the contest which Lucy hopes will help her understand her father's true opinion of her own photography. As Lucy is taking photos, she realizes that her photos are telling a story of Nate's grandmother. A story that Nate is not keen to see or admit.

Half a Chance is a perfect slow summer read. It begs you to find a shady hammock where you can hear the crickets chirping, or perhaps the loons calling, and fully immerse yourself in a quiet summer story. The author, Cynthia Lord, has such a gift for storytelling. She handles the difficulty of dementia, especially from a child's perspective, with the same grace that she handled autism in Rules. The best part is that while the story revolves around Nate's grandmother's slip into dementia, the photography contest, forming new friendships, even the education about loons rounds the novel out so nicely that the reader doesn't feel like the story is just about Nate's grandmother and her illness. I do admit that I wasn't fond of Lucy's father. He felt quite self-centered, and I found myself wanting to shake him into awareness of how much he was hurting his daughter. The intermittent storyline of Megan, a character who was a tad bit jealous of Lucy and treated her unkindly, was lovely though. Lucy negotiated that situation beautifully by ignoring Megan then later reaching out to her; a fine example of how to treat unkind people without making Lucy into a glaringly obvious goody-goody.

You can find Half a Chance in the Middle Grade Books section of The Book Children Store.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Woodland Litter Critters


Woodland Litter Critters ABC, written by Patience Mason and published by her own Patience Press, only came to my attention in the last month. Oh, how I wish I would've had this when my littles were just learning their ABCs! Many ABC books are loud and chaotic. These little litter critters though have such charm and cleverness that you can't wait to turn the page to see which critter will represent the next letter!

From Andy Acorncap and the Bird babies to Zippy the Zygodactyl, each page contains an amazing litter critter to examine and a sweet or humorous bit of text to accompany. The critters alone are stunning in their detail and ingenuity. And the text is a nice accompaniment but doesn't overshadow the little critters. My personal favorite page is probably the hooty owls of the O page. Just look at those acorn cap-eyed sweet fellows!


I'd recommend the book on artwork alone! It makes me want to take a walk in the woods immediately to find my own litter critters. What lucky preschoolers to have such a fine ABC reference now available to them!

You can find Woodland Litter Critters ABC in the Picture Books section of The Book Children Store.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Maps


After spying Maps at a boutique bookshop in NYC this spring, I knew this lovely children's atlas must become part of our family. Maps is decidedly NOT your parents' atlas. With only 52 countries, it wouldn't be considered comprehensive, but oh, the countries presented are a visual treat. Each country is introduced with the cultural bit and pieces that make it stand out in the world. For example, Germany pictures The Brothers Grimm, the Bauhaus building, the Mercedes-Benz museum, various castles, Kant, Gutenberg, Beethoven, a beer stein, and a slew of other German-identifying people, animals, places, and things.


The Mizielinskis have created an amazing niche with their Maps book. The artwork is simple, yet sophisticated, modern, and while each page is loaded with information (capital, language, population, among the other pictured items) the pages are perfectly balanced and manage to avoid chaos. The colors are muted but competently utilized. Cooler tones tend to represent Russian and the northern European countries, warmer tones are featured in South American and African countries. Scattered with charming illustrations and delightful insights, this is truly a perfect first atlas for children.


You can find Maps in the Picture Books - Nonfiction section of The Book Children Store.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Flashback Friday: Frog and Toad


My kids have enjoyed many iterations of the Frog and Toad collection over the years. My older kids read the individual early reader books. Somewhere along the way, we picked up the Frog and Toad Treasury, containing 3 books, and the CD with all four books read by Arnold Lobel himself. I can safely say that all four of my children enjoyed these sweet and optimistic books at various times. 


The beauty of Frog and Toad is that while they are early readers, the stories are simple and mimic every day life. Each book contains 5 stories about what could be considered mundane life events, but somehow under Lobel's pen, they become joyous and relatable. Flying a kite, waiting for the seasons to change, wishing to receive mail, and above all, maintaining friendships, these simple occurrences of every day life are so easy for children to connect to their own lives. Sprinkled with humor, Frog and Toad manage to win the affection of nearly every preschooler to early elementary schooler who immerse themselves in these pages. That beginning readers can read these for themselves is surely a bonus!


You can find the Frog and Toad Treasury in the Early Readers section of The Book Children Store.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Under the Egg


Laura Marx Fitzgerald's debut novel, Under the Egg, delightfully weaves NYC childhood with urban farming, WWII history, and art history. I'm not sure any other middle grade novels have ever hit quite as many of my own personal interests. Needless to say, Under the Egg was a captivating read that I could not put down until I finished every last chapter. 

Under the Egg begins with Theodora Tenpenny (Theo) relying on her resourcefulness and grit to manage the large NYC house, and accompanying garden, she inherited following her grandfather's death. Theo's mother lives with her, but she clearly has some mental or emotional challenges that prevent her from truly mothering Theo. When Theo accidentally spills rubbing alcohol on one of her grandfather's paintings, a painting that easily rubs off to reveal another older, Renaissance-style painting, Theo's curiosity kicks into high gear. That curiosity leads her on an adventure involving providential new friends, pretentious art experts, Nazi internment camp research, and ultimately, the secret her grandfather was desperate for her to uncover.

Under the Egg blends equal parts mystery and adventure in an engaging romp through NYC with a most clever protagonist. Theo's self-reliance is remarkable, and her determination is admirable. Fitzgerald's writing shines, and the language, content, and dialogue ring with an advanced tone. Despite being marketed as a middle grade read, I thought 11-14 would probably be the ideal ages to read this novel, and it would make a perfect accompaniment to a middle school WWII unit study. I truly wish I could've read Under the Egg to my own 13 year old when she studied WWII last fall.

Under the Egg can be found in the Middle Grade Books section of The Book Children Store.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Emily Rose's Day at the Farm


Emily-Rose's Day at the Farm is a sweet story about a little girl who loves to visit her Grammy at the farm. Every visit, she watches her Grammy feed the animals and wishes that she could feed them as well. Her Grammy remarks that the animals are too rambunctious for Emily-Rose to help. Emily-Rose isn't quite sure what rambunctious means, but one day when she visits the farm her Grammy finally agrees to let Emily-Rose help feed the animals. Hooray! When the chicks try to peck her boots, the pigs splash slop on her, and the ducks chase her, Emily-Rose finally understands what her Grammy means when she says the animals are rambunctious!


Emily-Rose's Day at the Farm is a heart-warming story of a little girl who admires her grandmother. Emily-Rose is a likable character, and her Grammy is very loving. The story moves along nicely, and the illustrations are rather cartoonish, but very sweet. Children will delight in the mishaps that befall Emily as she moves about the farm feeding the animals. These tales are filled with humor, and Emily-Rose's good attitude. Overall Emily-Rose's Day at the Farm is a great story for pre-school through kindergarten aged children who will identify with and understand Emily-Rose's antics.

You can find Emily-Rose's Day at the Farm in the Picture Books section of The Book Children Store.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

10 Books for Space-Loving Kids




Mousetronaut is the tale of a little mouse who has a great desire to travel into space. He studies hard and prepares well, and he is finally chosen for an important mission. While in space, disaster strikes and the little mouse is the only crew member who can save the mission. Mousetronaut is written by actual astronaut, Mark Kelly! For preschool through grade 2.

Fly Guy Presents Space contains accessible bites of space information for grades pre-K-3. Fans of the Fly Guy books will appreciate the narration provided by Fly Guy and Buzz while they visit a space museum. Fly Guy and Buzz learn about planets, stars, comets and asteroids, sharing that information sprinkled their customary humor. Striking photographs enhance this humorous presentation.

There's No Place Like Space is part of The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library. With rhythmic text and silly adventure, The Cat in the Hat presents each of the eight planets in the solar system. There's No Place Like Space is a fun way for grades K-3 to begin learning about concepts such as the solar system, telescopes, constellations, and satellites.







Moonshot depicts the historic mission of Apollo 11 with gorgeous illustrations from Brian Floca, this year's Caldecott winning artist. Floca depicts the entire mission from getting the astronauts snapped into their uniform and gear to the ROAR of the rockets and the hushed tones of the moon. Filled with greater detail than most picture books, Moonshot is perfect for kindergarten through grade 5.


Planets, by National Geographic Kids, is a lovely early reader with an appropriate reading level for grades 1-3. Illustrated with vivid photographs, Planets introduces the reader to the solar system, particularly the planets and dwarf planets, with plenty of intriguing facts sprinkled among the lovely photos.


Another title by National Geographic Kids, the First Big Book of Space is an amazing large book meant to satiate the appetite of the elementary kid who is obsessed with learning more about space. Plenty of large photographs liberally sprinkled with age-appropriate bits of info, any space-loving 1st through 4th grader with a passion for learning more about space.


The Smart Kids series presents Space, the perfect first glimpse into the solar system for early elementary kids who long to learn about everything from planets to UFOs to space shuttles. Full of impressive photography and smaller bits of informational text, Space is sure to be a hit for grades K-3.

Zoo in the Sky
captures the sparkling twinkle of the stars above us, matching them with the animals that have long been associated with each constellation. Each animal comes to life in beautiful painting over-layed with the stars that will help them identify the constellation in the night sky. The rich text accompanying these paintings brings the night sky to life in this book of legends intended for grades 1-5.



A Black Hole is NOT a Hole covers new territory in lively and humorous text appropriate for grades 2-6. Beginning with introduction to gravity and moving to the complex scientific concept of black holes, A Black Hole is NOT a Hole uses humor and excellent illustrations to keep the reader engaged. Even adults may learn something new at the hands of this witty book.

Space Encyclopedia, another National Geographic Kids title, is for the kid who has blown through all of our other space books and still has the yearning to know more. Intended for upper elementary through middle school, Space Encyclopedia is similar to the Big Book of Space in that it cover a wide variety of space topics, but decidedly more in depth than the Big Book. Space Encyclopedia will be your go-to resource for space-obsessed children and solar system school reports for years to come.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Counting by 7s


Willow Chance is a genius 12 year old obsessed with counting in multiples of 7, studying and caring for plants, observing and diagnosing medical conditions, and trying to navigate the social complexities of middle school. Shortly after beginning the school year, and being forced to visit the school counselor for suspicion of cheating, Willow's parents are killed in a car accident. Reeling from her loss, Willow is taken in by Vietnamese acquaintances she knows only slightly through her counselor. And in their little one-room garage behind a nail salon, she begins to put her life back together under their care. When her social worker finds a permanent foster home for her, Willow braces for yet more upheaval in her life.

My first thought about Willow Chance after reading only the first couple of chapters was that listening to her narration was often like listening to the younger sister of Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory. She is highly intelligent and remarkably self-aware, regularly commenting to herself that she understands she must follow social conventions rather than speak every assertion that she recognizes as truth. A perfect example of this is when she's riding in a cab and spots a concerning nevus (mole) on the driver's neck. She wrestles internally with the social convention of a 12 year old telling an adult that he should get a mole checked. Further, each of the supporting characters in this novel were fully developed with strengths and flaws that felt authentic. Holly Goldberg Sloan did a remarkable job of providing characters that I could care about while I still grimaced at their failings. The ending did feel a little odd to me, especially where Jairo was concerned. (If you haven't read the book, I don't want to spoil it so I'll leave my remark at that.) Either way, the ending did not detract from my personal feelings about this book, which is that I'm actually shocked it was not at least a Newbery Honor book. Willow's voice was consistently strong, and the dialog was perfect. Although this novel falls into the middle grade category, I would highly recommend this novel to anyone over the age of 10 (adults included). It's truly that good.

You can find Counting by 7s in the Middle Grade Books section of The Book Children Store.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Flashback Friday: Tuck Everlasting


Blessed with—or cursed with—everlasting life after drinking from an enchanted spring, the Tuck family spent the last 80 years surreptitiously moving from home to home to avoid the public's notice that they never age. Once 10-year-old Winnie discovers their secret, however, they bring her home with them to help her understand why the ability to live forever isn't the blessing it might initially seem. Winnie's parents, of course, assume she's been kidnapped, and the Tucks inconspicuous life spirals out of control once the authorities are summoned to retrieve Winnie.

Winnie's story begins on a hot summer day, and much like the sluggish heat, the book moves slowly and quietly, even at its most dramatic points. It's hard not to like the Tucks despite, maybe because of, their predicament, and Winnie's character is quite relatable as the fiercely independent young girl eager to protect her new friends. A short and somewhat sad read, Tuck Everlasting will leave you rooting for Winnie while you yearn to discover her ultimate decision: join the Tucks with everlasting life, or continue in this mortal, yet beautiful, life.

Tuck Everlasting can be found in the Middle Grade Books - Classics section of The Book Children Store.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Flora and the Flamingo


I must admit that I never even heard of Flora and the Flamingo before the names of the Caldecott winners were released. What a travesty it would have been if this little gem had not been included among the Caldecott Honors! While this pictoral ode to ballet might be simple, the illustrations are exquisitely crafted, covering a wide range of poses. The flamingo's grace and beauty are remarkable. (And I've never thought of flamingoes as particularly graceful. They usually appear more awkward and knobby-kneed.) Flora's earnest mimicry will make you fall in love beginning on the first page. The flamingo begins by haughtily performing the most difficult dance moves for Flora to follow. By the end, their synchronicity becomes fluid, and the flamingo appears to be enjoying his little dancing shadow.


Artistically, Flora and the Flamingo is a fascinating study. From the contrast in characters, long, lean flamingo and small plump child, to the tree blossom framing, each page is perfectly balanced and more striking than the previous. In addition to the lovely illustration, the lift-the-flap aspect of many pages will thrill many-a young child, and will add additional storytelling options to this dynamic work. It might have taken me a few years to fully appreciate the wordless children's book, but this is a fine example of that genre's ability to shine.


You can find Flora and the Flamingo in the Picture Books - Summer section of The Book Children Store.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Monsters and Legends


If you know a little one who enjoys reading both fantasy and nonfiction, I know the perfect book for them! This marvelous little cryptozoological treasure, Monsters and Legends, is a splendid introductory book to the mythological creatures of past and present, along with historical background about how those legends became popularized. Lo and behold, when you turn the page, you'll find even more material about alternative explanations, such as animals who were not widely known possibly starting legends of many monsters. Including explanations of older references, such as the camelopard (a giraffe) and sea pig (a walrus), kids will also recognize some current favorites like mermaids, werewolves, zombies, and Bigfoot.


The illustrations of Monsters and Legends are a perfect accompaniment to the text. The hand-drawn pictures in soft, yet bold, colors lend a vintage children's book vibe. With the printed cloth cover and large size, Monsters and Legends almost feels like the perfect coffee table book for a children's playroom—if playrooms had coffee tables.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Snicker of Magic


A Snicker of Magic first caught my eye, before it was even released, because of the magically fun cover. I can tell you now that the story is even sweeter than its ice cream-laden cover. Felicity Pickle just arrived in Midnight Gulch, a town formerly full of magic, after spending years tagging along with her nomadic mother in the Jalapeño Pickle, the family van. Felicity is a word collector; she sees words floating over people, items, even falling from speech, but Midnight Gulch is the first place that she's seen the word "home". Felicity quickly makes a best friend in Jonah, a quirky, wheelchair-bound, local-hero-in-disguise. Jonah encourages Felicity to participate in a school talent competition, sharing her words, something that Felicity has struggled with for a very long time. It might take more than a "snicker of magic" to help Felicity share her words, and at the same time, help Midnight Gulch overcome its past, breaking the spell that has long been troubling the entire town. 

A Snicker of Magic is a factofabulous read from beginning to end. The quirky characters, the mysterious pall cast over the town, the sprinkling of made-up (spindiddly!) words, the beautiful language...every morsel made Snicker all the more difficult to put down. Natalie Lloyd's enchanting personality beams from behind every corner. I wanted to hug Felicity's friend Jonah every time he appeared. Aside from wishing to snuff the chain-smoking aunt's cigarette every few pages, I loved every minute of toe-tapping, ice cream-tasting, word-catching, banjo-dueling delight between these pages. I couldn't imagine a more magical way to begin summer than with this sparkling masterpiece.

In addition to masterful storytelling, Natalie Lloyd left me with a few favorite quotes that I've read as of late. I'll share just a few here.

"And I think if you're lucky, a sister is the same as a friend, but better. A sister is like a super-forever-infinity friend."

"And if you say 'I love you,' and you mean it, then love makes up for a whole lifetime of mistakes. That's some kind of magic."

"I guess it doesn't matter who reached out first, though. What matters is that one of them reached out. What matters is that the other one held on."

This is Natalie Lloyd's first novel. I hope we'll be reading another one very soon.

You can find A Snicker of Magic in the Middle Grade Books section of The Book Children's Store.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Sparky


“You can have any pet you want as long as it doesn’t need to be walked or bathed or fed," the little girl's mother said after listening to relentless begging for a pet. The little girl did what any would-be pet owner might do...she set off for the library to find a book of animals to see which pet might fall into that category. "A promise is a promise." And the little girl gets her pet. A sloth! She receives her sloth, which she promptly names Sparky, via expedited mail, and with the cheery zeal of any new pet owner, she begins to teach him tricks and try to play with him. Very slowly, of course. The little girl doesn't seem to care that a pet sloth isn't quite like other pets. He's the perfect pet for her.


Neither overly wordy nor a fast-paced tale, Jenny Offill's text perfectly narrates the story of a slow-moving sloth. Despite the measured pace, Offill offers a heroine with a sweet demeanor and hopeful disposition that you can't help but root for. Chris Appelhans' illustrations of Sparky capture every bit of the adorable features of a sloth. I want to hug him and squeeze him and take him home with me too. The watercolor backgrounds in muted shades provide the perfect subdued setting for Sparky. There are plenty of adorable pet ownership picture books in the world, but an unusual animal with charming illustrations pushes Sparky into a league of his own.


You can find Sparky in the Picture Books - Books with Strong Females section of The Book Children Store.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Flashback Friday: Moominsummer Madness


Although Moominsummer Madness is the fourth title in Tove Jansson's Moomin series of novels, each of the books stands alone beautifully, and Moominsummer Madness is the perfect choice now that summer is upon us. In Moominsummer Madness, a large wave rises up from the sea and comes crashing through the valley. Their house now flooded, the Moomins must move, and as this is Moominland, of course, a new one comes floating by. They quickly move into the cave-like home but discover that their new abode contains many oddities, such as a merry-go-round drawing room, lamps that light exactly at sunset, and curtains in place of a wall. And in true Moomin fashion, hilarity ensues.

The Moomin books are classic works of children's literature by Finnish author, Tove Jansson. I can't remember exactly how many years ago we stumbled upon the Moomins, but they quickly became a universal favorite in our household. I won't pretend that I completely understand the appeal to these hippopotamus-looking creatures, but my children love the Moomins dearly...and Snufkin, and The Hemulen, and Thingumy and Bob. I do know that the characters are beautifully written. Moominpapa and Moominmama are warm and patient parents. For example, when the house floods, Moominpapa puts a positive spin by saying, "I've often thought that one ought to look at one's abode sometimes from the ceiling instead of from the floor." And when no one remembered to take the hammock in, and it's washed away in the flood, he says, "Good. It was a horrid color." Overall the entire flock of Moomins are joyful and full of positivity, in contrast to a few of the other characters, and this might be one of the most endearing qualities.


You can find Moominsummer Madness, and other Moomin titles, in the Early Elementary Read Alouds section of The Book Children Store.

PS. You can read a lovely article about Tove Jansson posted just this week at The Guardian.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer

Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer

About the Book

Title: Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer | Author: Aldo Fynn | Illustrator: Richie Vicencio | Publication Date: November 5,2013 | Publisher: Boa Press, LLC. | Pages: 156 | Recommended Ages: 8 to 12 Summary: All Iggy Rose wants is for the kids at the Naysayer Academy to like him, and one special girl in particular. But instead, he gets teased and taunted. Every day, he eats alone in the cafeteria and gets beaten up after school on the playground. But when a cruel prank leads to Iggy's escape from the academy, a wild, unimaginable adventure begins. Why is King Naysayer offering a hefty reward for Iggy's capture? When Iggy joins forces with an eclectic cast of characters, he discovers the answer. But before he can escape from the kingdom of Naysayer, Iggy must first reclaim what is rightfully his. Does this sad, lonely boy have the courage to battle the biggest school bully, a mean headmistress, and a greedy, cruel king? Will Iggy finally believe in himself and discover his true destiny?  

Purchase

Amazon (Kindle) | Amazon (Print)

 

The Buzz

“An entertaining fantasy with a quirky, inventive storyline that shows how things invariably turn out badly for bullies.” Kirkus Reviews
“The book is going to be devoured by readers of any type, whether they're looking for some fun fiction, a comical read, or a page-turner.” 5 Star Review, San Francisco Book Review
"Fynn's book reminded me a bit of Harry Potter, but he adds his own cast of characters and a boy (Iggy), fun dialogue, and an amazing story that you can't help but root for. If you are looking for a great book to get your kids hooked on, then I recommend the Prince Iggy series." 5 Star Review, The Pen and Muse Book Reviews, Amazon
“Has the flavor of a Dickens and a Harry Potter story while remaining wholly original. It just shares those characteristics that make it such an enjoyable read. This book should be on every child's must read list and if I'm to be perfectly honest it should be on every adults list too. It has enough subtle adult humor well within its boundaries to make it an entertaining read for the parents too. It certainly has a modern message. It shows just how heartbreaking bullying can be by children as well as adults. It's a story about losing yourself and finding yourself. It shows being a bully doesn't pay off but believing in yourself does." 5 Star Review, April S., Amazon
 

About the Author: Aldo Fynn

Aldo FynnAldo Fynn enjoys writing wacky, fantastical stories. Prince Iggy and the Kingdom of Naysayer is his debut novel. It's the first book in the Adventures of Prince Iggy Series. He's also written two wacky, laugh-out-loud picture books. He lives under his desk and promises he won't come out until Book 3 in the series is complete. Which is a shame because his desk is based in Los Angeles, where it's sunny and 70 degrees most of the year.

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* $50 Book Blast Giveaway

Amazon $50 Gift Card Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card or PayPal cash (winner’s choice) Contest ends: June 4, 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 publisher, Boa Press, LLC. 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.
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