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...

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Review: Oddity by Eli Brown

Today's read is one I've been super-excited to share with you, since I found out I was getting my hands on it. I'm a strong advocate of imagination in kidlit, and this book packs in tons of that, while spinning a very engaging tale. It's placed in the US around the time of the Louisiana Purchase. While it does have aspects which are historically accurate, others take the sure line of fantasy to form an alternate history. But it was the magical objects, which caught my attention on this one. A teapot that always pours hot, fresh tea? Seriously, how could I not wish that something like that were possible. So, this was a must read for me. 

And did I enjoy it? Well, if you don't know the answer to that yet, read on...or just read on even if you do.

by Eli Brown
Walker Books US
Middle Grade Fantasy
368 pages
ages 9 to 12

The daughter of a murdered physician vows to protect the magical Oddity he left behind—if only she knew what it was—in an alternate nineteenth century where the United States is at war with France.

It’s the early 1800s, and Clover travels the impoverished borderlands of the Unified States with her father, a physician. See to the body before you, he teaches her, but Clover can’t help becoming distracted by bigger things, including the coming war between the US and France, ignited by a failed Louisiana Purchase, and the terrifying vermin, cobbled together from dead animals and spare parts, who patrol the woods. Most of all, she is consumed with interest for Oddities, ordinary objects with extraordinary abilities, such as a Teapot that makes endless amounts of tea and an Ice Hook that freezes everything it touches. Clover’s father has always disapproved of Oddities, but when he is murdered, Clover embarks on a perilous mission to protect the one secret Oddity he left behind. And as she uncovers the truth about her parents and her past, Clover emerges as a powerful agent of history. Here is an action-filled American fantasy of alternate history to rival the great British fantasies in ideas and scope.

GOODREADS   /     B&N    /     AMAZON    /     KOBO    /     AUDIBLE


                                     * alternate historical setting
                                     * packed with adventure and whimsical magical objects
                                     * darker tones
                                     * friendship and family bonds key


This one is immediately hitting my favorite middle grade reads list for 2021. There are simply so many wonderful aspects at every twist and turn: the writing sits, the pacing sits, the characters are amazing, tension is high, and imagination fills every page. In other words, this one has everything needed to make an amazing middle grade read.

Clover works with her very talented father and travels the border areas of the United States around the time period of the Louisiana Purchase to heal, whoever is in need. Clover is clever and hard working, and has become a noteworthy physician herself even at a young age. But there's one thing her father refuses to teach her or even talk about: Oddities. These magical objects are hidden through-out the world and caused her mother's death. But Clover secretly is more than curious about the Oddities, and when she stumbles across one left in the brush, she's over-joyed. But it's exactly these Oddities which are about to turn her world upside-down.

The idea of Oddities caught my attention right away: a tea pot always pouring hot tea, a rag doll coming to life, a hat to steal all secrets stored in someone's head...the imagination is endless, and this tale lets exactly that soar. We meet Clover right smack-dab in her life as her father's assistant. Her life isn't easy, and while she does have a whimper or two about some aspects, she's proud of him and the job they both perform. Her respect for her father is inspiring, and from her thoughts, it's clear she sees the world through pretty realistic and down-to-earth eyes. She does dream, too, but her asperations are nothing extreme. Add the sad death of her mother, and she's definitely a character root for all the way through. But then, all of the characters in this one are rich and carry enough quirks and corners to make them more than interesting.

This is one of those reads which is hard to put down. Right away, Clover is thrust into an exciting adventure. It's impossible to guess what will come next and what dangers she'll have to face. And there are tons of those. Here, I'll put in a little warning for those more sensitive readers. Clover's adventure is definitely not an easy one, and the evil she's up against shows no mercy. There are several darker moments as vermin are sewn together, deadly shots are fired, and dark creatures attack. None of this is out of range for the middle grade audience, though. 

Most importantly, Clover finds the meaning of friendship and family along the way. There is hope even in the darkest corners, and surprises make it clear that not everything is as awful as it might seem (although many things are truly terrible). It's a lovely round-up for an exciting read, and one I can highly recommend.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Review: Silver Dawn Afire by Sonja J. Breckon

A couple weeks ago, I posted a sneak peek at this evening's review (here if you want to take a quick glance) and promised I'd be doing a review soon. Well, it's time for me to keep that promise! 

This one is for the young adults out there, who love fantasy, a bit of magic, and some romance too. It's the first book in a series, and...well... oh, let's just dive in, okay?

The Seventh Age Saga #1
by Sonja J. Breckon
Young Adult Fantasy
505 pages

Myridians are coming, each wielding one of Six Cataclysmic Powers that will lay waste to the world and wake the God of Neutrality. What happens when one refuses to succumb to her myridian nature and sets out to save the world instead?

SIDRA ANATOLA will soon die a human death and be reborn as one of the myridian, beings destined to destroy the World of Aetheria. In a desperate attempt to change her dark fate, she flees home and the young man she loves to seek help from a powerful entity who has lived through all the ages. But she may not make it in time before she is killed by hunters—or by the love of her life, also a myridian, who fights every day to hold onto the emotions that made him human.

BRESEIS ERISWEN was expelled from the academy and failed her father who expected her to carry on her late mother’s profession as a myridian hunter. But Breseis never wanted to be a hunter—she refused to kill, and she never believed in myridians, to begin with. She leaves home with big dreams, lacking experience, and a broken heart, to prove that she is more than a failed hunter.

Two contrasting paths converge to become a turbulent one. A mouthy intellect with a colorful personality, and a skilled warrior with a frosty attitude, put their differences aside and travel the rest of the way together, robbing temples, angering false gods, and escaping numerous predicaments with their lives. Amid the chaos, they form a friendship despite a gut feeling that both hide dangerous secrets that can save or destroy the world and each other.

GOODREADS   /    AMAZON   /    B&N    /    KOBO    /    BETTER WORLD BOOKS 


With the magic born of true friendship, this is an exciting tale with action and emotions from the first page to the last.

This story follows two heroines, who couldn't be more different. Sidra, a Myridian, was born with the destiny to end the world and wake the God of Neutrality...a fate she wants nothing to do with. On the other end, Breseis is a Myridian hunter, who wants more for her life than what she's expected to do as well. The two meet and things take off from there. 

Just by reading the blurb, it's clear that this one is packed with tension pure from every angle. And it is. The forming friendship between Breseis and Sidra is amazing to follow and makes both a great pair to cheer for...and, of course, this doesn't run smoothly or easily but is sure and solid as an awesome friendship should be when they do come together. There is a slight romance mixed, but this flows on the side and doesn't overpower the main plot or the girls' friendship. Throw in the adventure and the entire idea of the world coming to the end, and there really isn't much time to be bored in this one.

The plot flows well and draws in, especially with something happening at every twist and turn. I did find it a bit slow at times in the middle, but it wasn't enough to make me loose interest. These characters grab too much for that. I did find the writing not the easiest read, but again, not enough to hurt the tale. This is a solid beginning to a new series, which promises tons of goodness to come. The worst part is waiting for book two to hit the world and find out what happens next.

Review: The Chuña by Nadia Khan

Today's book steps back from the busy life of computers, cell phones, and video games, and takes readers into nature. This one even goes a bit further, heading to South America. There, it introduces a lesser known bird and teaches a few things about it...and all of that while telling the story of a boy. But I'd be lying if I claimed this was the only reason this one grabbed my attention. Honestly, I found the bird pretty and majestic that I had to share this one with you.

The Chuña
Tales From the Yungas
by Nadia Khan
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

It’s a jungle out there, tucked away in the foothills of the Andes. One of South America’s largest terrestrial birds has jumped onto the roof of a house! It’s a curious behavior as we truly don’t know why he does this. We can come up with many scenarios. Why do you think the chuña does this? Let’s look at animals in their natural habitat and take pleasure in the wonder, mystery, and fascination of nature in its pure form.The Chuña is a picture book showing the observation of a bird by a young boy. The reader will be engaged by watching the story unfold while simultaneously learning about the bird and its behavior. There is a playful calmness transmitted through the book accompanied by illustrations that use “soft” colors. The author aspires to spark an interest in children and their parents to go observe and connect with nature. We are indeed part of nature and the more we remind ourselves of this the more we will care for it.

    AMAZON   /    LULU        


Listeners are not only transported to a boy in South America but discover an interesting bird (and fun adventure) along the way.

A young boy is in his bedroom, when he hears a strange noise on the roof. Suddenly, a bird pokes its head toward the window. The boy finds the behavior strange and heads outside to investigate. But the more he watches the bird, the more curious he becomes as to what it's doing. By watching it, he learns not only more about the bird but discovers a little more about the nature around him.

The bird on the front cover caught my attention, and it's this bird which remains at the center of this book. Not only is the listener/reader taken to a home in South America, but they are introduced to a boy, who isn't really much different than they are themselves. His curiosity is understandable as this strange bird not only makes odd noises but does the silliest things. His reactions are natural, and it's hard not to wish that one could accompany him as he learns more about this bird.

While the listener/reader learns more about this creature, there are other great messages in these pages. The idea that heading outside might lead to an unexpected adventure inspires listeners to do the same. It also shows that while some things are obvious, there are many other things to discover, which require a little time and patience. And these might be the most special of all.

The illustrations of the bird and nature are well done and radiate a sense of calmness thanks to the pastel coloring and gentle lines. The boy and his sister didn't come across quite as well, but it still was easy to enjoy the scenes and deepen the understanding of what was happening. It makes a great read aloud for group settings and does help introduce themes surrounding nature nicely.

And here she is...

Nadia Khan, is a writer, and multi-disciplinary artist. She is passionate about writing books that portray animals in their natural habitat, and encouraging children through these stories to explore and observe nature. She has co-founded Villa Monte Reserve, a private nature reserve in the northwest region of Argentina that contributes to the conservation of the native forest. Her books raise awareness about the area and its wildlife, which is pivotal in conservation work. The Chuña is the first of the companion book series, Tales From the Yungas. Part of the proceeds go to the conservation of the native forest in Argentina. 

Instagram: @nadiakgallery

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Review: Babushka is Homesick by Carola Schmidt

Today's read is the last in my row of books, which have found their influence from Russia and its surrounding areas—this time, Ukraine. This one is another picture book, and it raises awareness for those living in a foreign country. When I read the blurb on this one, I was immediately curious, since it might hit home for me and my family. But either way, it definitely is a timely read in so far that it opens up understanding for others and includes diversity. 

 Let's take a peek, shall we?

by Carola Schmidt
Illustrated by Vinicius Milo
Picture Book
28 pages
ages 4 to 8

Babushka hadn't been in her homeland since she was a child. She went to the church with a suitcase, and the whole way, Babushka thought about how she would feel in Ukraine after so many years. She sang, and then she prayed. Amen. But Babushka was thinking of her trip instead of the Lord's grace. After a long time pondering what to expect-if she would feel a sense of belonging-Babushka arrived in her homeland. Babushka had a lot of fun, but she felt like something was missing. She was homesick. "Babushka is Homesick" is a story about memories, family, and the true meaning of the word "home."

"Babushka is Homesick" is the second children's book in the Babushka Series. Everyone has their own stories, history, and the desire to belong. The first book, "Tell me a story, Babushka," is a best-selling new release in Children's Multicultural Literature on Amazon USA (Aug 2019), in which kids and adults will enjoy fun adventures and identify their own stories.

This folktale is ideal for ages 4-11, and perfect for teachers.

You can purchase it here

or find it on....    Goodreads   /   Amazon


This is a partner book to Tell Me a Story, Babushka, and while it is not necessary to read that one before diving into this one, I would recommend it, since it allows the reader to get to know Babushka before this next story begins.

Babushka hasn't been back to her home in Ukraine for years and is excited when she finally has the chance to return. While she enjoys being there and seeing everything again, she soon notices that she's missing something. And it could be that 'home' might have a different meaning than what is usually expected.

This tale explores the idea of homesickness, especially among those who have moved far away from their own countries. The author does a nice job at explaining Babushka's situation in a way listeners can understand and sympathize with. And it's easy to feel happy as Babushka's excitement grows. The listener also gets a tiny glimpse at Babushka's earlier home and setting (learning a bit about Ukraine along the way). 

The text and subject matter is a bit heavy for the youngest readers but those up the first grade will have no trouble understanding what's happening. I do recommend reading the first book, since this one doesn't take the time for the reader to get to know Babushka first, but the main messages will still be understandable even if only this book is read. It definitely makes a nice addition for teachers or guardians wanting listeners to learn more about the Ukraine.

And here she is...

Carola Schmidt is a pediatric oncology pharmacist, scientific writer and children’s book writer.

Author of several books in pediatric oncology published by Springer Nature. Her scientific books are present in lists such as BookAuthority’s Best Pharmacy Books of All Time, Best New Pharmacy Books and Best New Pharmacy eBooks, and Springer Highlights 2020. Author of several kids’ books about cancer, such as Bald is Beautiful: A letter for a fabulous girl, Cancer Daily Life, Chubby’s Tale: The true story of a teddy bear who beat cancer (listed by BookAuthority as one of the “81 Best Leukemia Books of All Time”.) Belonging is a subject that is present in her writing, and the two books in the Babushka Series are her first books that are not about cancer. 

Media links:




Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, Take Three Girls by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, and Fiona Wood

Today's book is girl power pure. Written by three amazing authors, this one was sure to be a treat. I do like the cover...isn't it all over the place? And with three different main characters (by the three authors), it's one of those reads which seemed impossible to pass up on. 

by Cath Crowley, Simmone Howell, and Fiona Wood
Sterling Kids
YA Contemporary
432 pages

Three authors. Three appealing and relatable characters. One smart YA novel about a trio of unlikely friends who team up to take down the school cyberbully. 
“Mean stuff spreads so fast. One click. Post. Send. Share. Online bullying = sometimes suicides, so all the private schools have strategies for dealing with it. At St Hilda’s, it’s Wellness classes. We greeted the idea with genuine enthusiasm. Why not? Everyone loves the chance to slack off.”
Popular Ady seems cool and confident at school, but at home her family is falling apart. Brainiac Kate wants to pursue her dreams of playing music, even if it jeopardizes her academic scholarship. And swim champ Clem finds herself disenchanted with the sport . . . and falling for a very wrong boy. When these three very different girls are forced to team up in a wellness class, they’re not too pleased. But over time, they bond—and when they’re all targeted by PSST, a website that dishes out malicious gossip and lies, they decide to take a stand, uncover the culprits, and fight back. But can they really fix a broken system? With each girl’s story told by a different author, as well as intriguing questionnaires from the wellness class included throughout, this empowering novel explores today’s most relevant topics— from cyberbullying and fat shaming to drug abuse and financial stress.   

Take Three Girls is the winner of Australia's 2018 Children's Book Council YA Book of the YearKirkus calls it “Compelling and relevant” and School Library Journal says “readers who are experiencing tough times will connect with the characters, who are strong and resilient. Each girl’s character growth, interests, and how she overcomes challenges is relatable.”



                                  * written by three very powerful authors
                                  * three main characters, each with a distinct personality and voice
                                  * touches upon issues age group and relate to
                                  * entertaining, grabbing and emotional


Tons of heart, emotion and honesty marks the tale of three very different girls, who although coming from very differing paths, manage to find strength through each other.

This one is written from three different perspectives, each character as different as different can be. One is popular, one is smart and the other is athletic. Each one has a distinct voice, dreams, hopes and personality, problems, and none of their lives cross. Until they do. 

Right away, the voices of the characters demand attention. They are written in a true to life manner, allowing the reader to immediately feel as if they are getting to know each girl personally. While there are raw thoughts, emotions and character depth, all of these things flow along in a nicely paced tale. There's always something going on, and the moments are touching, disheartening, tense or even slightly humorous. But every single one comes across with a naturalness, which makes it easy to sink into each of the girls' stories.

It was very easy to keep track of the character switches and hard not to get lost in each one. The authors start each chapter with a 'worksheet', including an inspirational quote, discussion thoughts, and a task, which hits a certain wellness topic. Then, the characters come in. Some are written like journal entries, other pages hold social media posts. This not only allows the girls' situation and lives to come across in an intriguing way, but also gives the reader reason to dive into the topics themselves. 

The characters are interesting, but it's their problems which give this whole thing depth. Tough issues such as family, romance, finding oneself, weight, and cyberbullying hit hard and make an impact, especially on readers who might experience similar issues themselves. And yet, there's tons of heart as the three learn to bond in an odd but wonderful friendship. It's an inspiring read which packs a punch and shows how powerful friendship, hope, and determination can be.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Happy Book Birthday, Edmund the Elephant Who Forgot by Kate Dalgleish!

It's time for a bit of fun! Today's review packs tons of humor and is sure to draw more than a couple giggles from listeners. Plus, there's something to search for in the vibrant, active illustrations. I had fun with this one, but you can read all about that below.

by Kate Dalgleish
Illustrated by Isobel Lundie
Sterling Kids
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

An elephant never forgets . . . except Edmund! Join this silly elephant on the funniest shopping spree ever.
“Elephants always remember. Elephants don’t get it wrong.
Elephants always remember. As long as they sing this song!”
Edmund isn’t like other elephants: he forgets. A lot. Then, one day, his mother sends him to the store to pick up some things for his little brother’s birthday party. To help him remember what they need, mama gives him a fun little song to sing . . . and a shopping list. But Edmund even forgets the list! Soon his purchases get sillier and sillier—like seven sassy dancing cats instead of 20 pointy party hats. Kids will laugh out loud at this delightful story and its humorous, dynamic art.



                                       * humor reigns
                                       * a little counting
                                       * a few objects to search for
                                       * vibrant illustrations


Being a forgetful elephant has never been as hilarious as Edmund and how he prepares for his younger brother's birthday party.

Edmund is a very forgetful elephant, which isn't helpful when his mother sends him out to get several items for his little brother's birthday party. Of course, she gives him some help: a song and a list. When the list is forgotten as soon as he leaves the apartment door, a tiny friend tries to help him out. But his help might turn out to be a disaster.

Humor hits every page as Edmund tries his serious best to get everything his mother asked him to. It's impossible not to feel for him as he first loses the list, and then, can't seem to get everything right. After all, he is trying so hard and really has only the best intentions in mind. His mistakes are so out there, that giggles are guaranteed. It was super fun to see what mistake he would make next because it was bound to be more ridiculous than anything that could be imagined. 

The illustrations in this one aren't only fun, but they guarantee being gazed  at again and again. There are tons of details to discover, and if that wasn't enough, the illustrator has hidden two characters to search for in each one. 

And to round things off, there is a bit of a message in this one, too. It's just a nice twist to leave a last smile on the face and keep the good feelings high.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Review: Tell Me A Story, Babushka by Carola Schmidt

It's time for another dive into a historical read. Saturday's review of Vasilisa took a fairy tale with it as it went back into history, whereas today's read takes history and allows Babushka to tell it like a fairy tale. 
Curious? Then, let's take a peek!

by Carola Schmidt
Illustrated by Vinicius Melo
Picture Book
27 pages
ages 4 to 11

When Karina asks Babushka to tell her a story about a princess and monsters, Babushka surprises her granddaughter, and even herself, telling a story about her life in Ukraine and how she had to run away to another country during the Holodomor. This folktale about memories and family is a sweet story about immigration and how history brought us to where we live today.

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With the love and tenderness of a grandma telling her grandchild a tale, this book teaches a bit about history and awakens empathy for those at that time.

Karina watches her Babushka knead dough and asks her to tell her a fairy tale about princesses and monsters. The tale follows a little girl as her village is raided by monsters, and she's taken captive with many other children. But there is more to the tale than Karina first knows.

I'm always thrilled to take a dive into the history and culture of other countries, especially when it hits upon a little known event. This tale addresses Ukraine during 1932-1933 and the Holodomor, a man-made famine which killed millions. The monsters in this tale are the Russian soldiers as they invaded the villages and took many captive. It's not an easy topic, and I was surprised to have something like this hit the pages of a picture book, but the author handled the theme with wonderful care.

The illustrations are well done and change style along with the atmosphere and emotions. Karina and the little girl in the story are portrayed with an ample amount of cuteness to keep things light. I enjoyed these quite a bit.

As to the text, this is a bit of a longer tale and suitable more for first graders and up. It does rotate around a very serious event, and it's clear from the illustrations that the monsters are soldiers, although these are kept more as silhouettes. Still, sensitive readers might find it too much. Also, the text does include several terms, which young listeners will not recognize unless the reader takes the time to explain what is happening. In other words, this book is best used in connection with the topic of Ukraine and the region.

For anyone wanting to expose young readers to this interesting and sad part of Ukrainian history, this book is well worth grabbing up.

And here she is...

Carola Schmidt is a pediatric oncology pharmacist, scientific writer and children’s book writer.

Author of several books in pediatric oncology published by Springer Nature. Her scientific books are present in lists such as BookAuthority’s Best Pharmacy Books of All Time, Best New Pharmacy Books and Best New Pharmacy eBooks, and Springer Highlights 2020. Author of several kids’ books about cancer, such as Bald is Beautiful: A letter for a fabulous girl, Cancer Daily Life, Chubby’s Tale: The true story of a teddy bear who beat cancer (listed by BookAuthority as one of the “81 Best Leukemia Books of All Time”.) Belonging is a subject that is present in her writing, and the two books in the Babushka Series are her first books that are not about cancer. 

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