Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, Good Night, Earth by Linda Bondestam!

Today's read takes a slightly quirky twist on a bedtime read...and doesn't forget animal friends, either. See those green, little aliens peering down? They caught my attention. Plus, the animals included take on a few lesser known ones. It's definitely not your usual, goodnight read. 

by Linda Bondestam
Illustrated by Galit Hasan-Rokem
Picture Book
46 pages ages 4 to 8

From the savanna to the city to outer space, celebrated Nordic children’s book illustrator Linda Bondestam offers a charming peek at the many ways we settle in for sleep, with gorgeous, dreamlike illustrations full of offbeat humor.

From the savanna to the city to outer space, celebrated Nordic children’s book illustrator Linda Bondestam offers a charming peek at the many ways we settle in for sleep, with gorgeous, dreamlike illustrations full of offbeat humor.

Discover the bedtime routines of animals all over the world through the eyes of an alien family on a faraway planet. Little monkey needs his mama to play at least seventy-three songs on the ukulele to fall asleep. A meerkat family enjoys some stretches together as the sun goes down, while baby sloth is a bedtime expert—she’s already snoozing soundly in the trees. Die-cut pages invite little ones to help new animal friends get cozy under the covers.

With unconventional illustrations full of wit and tenderness, Good Night Earth is a sweetly silly exploration of how all kinds of creatures find peaceful and playful ways to end the day.



Animals around the world are headed to bed in this beautifully illustrated books, which adds an odd twist of quirkiness to make it an intriguing read.

Far away on an alien planet, a small green family is watching the animals on Earth as they settle into bed. Lesser known animals such as meerkats and monkeys aren't necessarily as ready to fall into sleep as their parents. But at one point, even they fall asleep.

This is an original book with a strange dash of quirky humor thrown in...and that just not through the text. The idea of aliens watching the Earth from afar is sweet and exactly something little space and science fiction fans will enjoy. But this one goes a strange step further by shifting it toward animal fans as well. Animal 'families' are presented with the little ones not ready to go to sleep. While some of these situations hold a gentle humor, others pack clear leans toward silliness. The aliens presence just tops all of it off like a cherry on whipped cream and rounds off the read nicely in a strange sort of way.

The illustrations match this combination perfectly. The animals are depicted in a wonderful artistic manner, which adds even a dash of sophistication. In other words, these are simply well done and beautiful in their style and flair. The animals are easy to recognize and remain natural even when the younger ones have humorous antics. The aliens carry a more cartoony style, which clashes with the artistic atmosphere to create a wonderful contradiction.

This is a book, which will catch listeners' attentions and hits with enough unexpectedness to make them pay attention. It's sure to even become a favorite for more than just some.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, Aven Green Sleuthing Machine by Dusti Bowling!


by Dusti Bowling
Illustrated by Gina Perry
Sterling's Children's Books
Chapter Book Mystery
128 pages
ages 6 to 9

Third-grader Aven Green has been solving mysteries for a whole month—cracking such cases as The Mystery of the Cranky Mom. But can this perceptive detective solve two cases at the same time? First her teacher’s lunch bag disappears. Then Aven’s great-grandma’s dog goes missing. Fortunately, since Aven was born without arms, all the “arm” cells went to her super-powered brain instead. (That’s her theory.) This hilarious chapter book showcases a new side to Dusti Bowling’s unforgettable protagonist.

GOODREADS   /    AMAZON    /    B&N    /    BOOK DEPOSITORY   


                                     * Aven Green as present in Bowling's Cactus books
                                     * well done, easy going mystery
                                     * importance of family and friends
                                     * diverse characters


With humor, determination, and a heart in the right place, this third grader is ready to solve any mystery thrown at her.

Third-grader, Aven Green, is a true sleuth, and that already for an entire month. She's solved several cases already and is ready to hit more, but she never expected to head-up two at once. But when her teacher's lunch bag disappears, and then, her great-grandma's dog is no where to be found...well, she has no choice but to double down and find out what's going on.

Aven Green comes from Dusti Bowling's Life of a Cactus books. Unlike these books, which are for upper middle grade/tween readers, this one slides into the chapter book direction and targets a younger audience. Aven Green herself fits the age group well and comes across as a very normal, third grader. She's got a wonderful attitude, deals with situations the best she can, and has an inspiring personality. But then, there's a lovely bunch of family and friends around her. Some of these even expand on the already diverse bunch.

The writing is for those who are very sure of their words but aren't quite ready for full-fledged middle grade novels. The mystery is very fitting to the age group and keeps the twists and turns interesting without leaving the wholesome range. There's a good amount of humor packed in as well. Add the fun illustrations, and this one makes for a fun mix.

And here they are...

The Author...
Dusti Bowling grew up in Scottsdale, AZ, where, as her family will tell you, she always had her nose in a book. Dusti holds a Bachelor of Psychology and a Master of Education, but she eventually realized that her true passion was writing. She lives in AZ with her husband and three daughters.

The Illustrator...
Gina Perry graduated from Syracuse University, worked as a compositor in animation, then an art director for a stationery manufacturer, before discovering her true passion—writing and illustrating children's books. She lives with her family in NH.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Review: Bitsy Bop Hold Your Head Up High by Takisha Payne

Today's read steers into hip-hop dreams and fun. This is the second book in a series (the first, I didn't read). The spunk of the main character with her bright pink hairstyle caught my interest. Plus, I can't remember ever reading a picture book, which centers around the dreams of becoming a hip-hop dancer. 
This one did surprise me, and you can see why below. 

by Takisha Payne
Illustrated by Agus Prajogo
Mascot Books
Picture Book
38 pages
ages 4 to 8

This book continues the story of Bitsy Bop, a young hip-hop dancer. Inside these pages, learn how Bitsy Bop uses her skills on a reality television contest, Kids on the Groove. Will she succeed in winning the competition? You’ll have to read to see what happens!

MASCOT BOOKS    /     AMAZON    /     B&N


                                              * main character full of determination
                                              * bright and well-done illustrations
                                              * rhymes nicely
                                              * allows tension to come across well


Hip-hop dreams come to life in an inspiring and yet realistic way, and will leave listeners wishing they could join Bitsy Bop on stage.

Bitsy Bop can't believe she's been chosen for the reality show contest on TV. The competition won't be easy, but Bitsy Bop is ready to give her all.

Bitsy Bop is a girl to love. Not only does her hair style set her apart from usual picture book characters, but she shares a dream not often hit upon for this age group. Bitsy Bop wants to be a hip-hop dancer...the best one in the world. I didn't read the first book in this series, but that wasn't a problem. It was simple to immediately root for Bitsy Bop and understand how nervous she was. Her determination is inspiring and it's fun to watch her get up on stage and give her all.

The text is easy enough for the age group to understand, is kept short and sweet, and even rhymes without feeling forced. It's easy to connect with the tale and feel a connection to Bitsy Bop. But then, it's the illustrations which really help Bitsy Bop shine. Her family's support, her moves, and the amazing stage all come across clearly and weave together to form a fun read.

I was surprised how well done this one is and can recommend Bitsy Bop to young hip-hop fans.

Sneak Peek: The Other Side of Magic by Ester Manzini with Giveaway!

The Other Side of Magic
by Ester Manzini
Parliament House
Publication date: April 6th 2021
YA Fantasy


For fans of Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

In a world inspired by 16th century Italy, magic is a common occurrence. Everyone in the realms of Epidalio and Zafiria is gifted with it at birth, but with every spell cast, their power wanes.

Gaiane Asares is the result of an accurate selection by her mother, the queen of Zafiria. She’s infinitely powerful; a weapon of mass destruction kept segregated in a tower and used against her will to conquer Epidalio.

Meanwhile, in Epidalio, Leo was born with no magic at all, a rarity. She lost her home and family when Zafiria attacked, and her resentment toward the invaders still burns.

Gaiane manages to escape her gilded cage, and the two girls cross paths. But when war threatens the land again, their loyalty will be put to the test. Will they manage to overcome their differences in the name of freedom?

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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Review: If Dominican Were a Color by Sili Recio


by Sili Recio
Illustrated by Brianna McCarthy
Denene Millner Books
Picture Book
32 pages 
ages 4 to 8

The colors of Hispaniola burst into life in this striking, evocative debut picture book that celebrates the joy of being Dominican.

If Dominican were a color, it would be the sunset in the sky, blazing red and burning bright.
If Dominican were a color, it’d be the roar of the ocean in the deep of the night,
With the moon beaming down rays of sheer delight.

The palette of the Dominican Republic is exuberant and unlimited. Maiz comes up amarillo, the blue-black of dreams washes over sandy shores, and people’s skin can be the shade of cinnamon in cocoa or of mahogany. This exuberantly colorful, softly rhyming picture book is a gentle reminder that a nation’s hues are as wide as nature itself.

GOODREADS   /    KOBO    /    BOOK DEPOSITORY    /    B&N    /     AMAZON


With simple text, the vibrant life of Dominican Republic unfolds in a celebration of colors.

Colors are bright and bold, and portray the country as exactly that. Each page illustrates the joy not only of the nature found in Dominican Republic but of the people as well. Each page introduces the young reader to something, which can be found in the country. These are simple things from trees to drums. While the words are, for the most part, very easy for listeners to understand, the author also weaves in an occasional new term from the language. This allows the listener to get a taste for the words and learn something new without ever becoming too unfamiliar or difficult.

The illustrations are a rainbow treat and present everything with energy and positivity. Small glimpses of the landscape, people, customs and culture are presented, just a few at a time. It opens up the culture and people wonderfully and in a simple, enjoyable way.

And here they are...

The Author...
Sili Recio has been calling herself a writer since she won a trophy in a poetry contest in the sixth grade. She is an Afro-Dominican storyteller, disruptor, and Mami. Sili earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rollins College. She entered the world of social media via her blog in 2010, and has never looked back. Sili lives in Florida with her daughter, the Frog Princess, and tries not to pass on her love of café con leche to her child. She is failing. You can visit her at

The Illustrator...
Brianna McCarthy is a mixed media visual communicator working and living in Trinidad and Tobago. She is a self-taught artist and aims to create a new discourse examining issues of beauty, stereotypes, and representation as well as the documenting...