Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Today's read... Sailing to the Stars by Amie and Marty McCracken... a bilingual read!

 When the author of today's read approached me with a bilingual read...and that in English/ reader heart went pitter-patter. And the cover...well, it reminded me instantly of some beloved cartoon characters in Germany. So, I had to take a peek. This one comes with the two languages very distinctly divided, so even readers of just one language will have no problem enjoying it.

But before I say more, let's just shoot off to the stars and see what adventures we'll find!

Sailing the Stars, Book 1
by Amie and Marty McCracken
Chapter Book
ages 5 to 10

Kiki never knew friends existed.

Until he started to explore the universe.
And someone invited him to play tag.

Kiki is an orphan, adopted by his friend Frank, and living on the spaceship Marauder. But Kiki would like to make more friends, so he begins exploring the Solar System—playing tag on Puck, space-walking Triton to watch nitrogen geysers, and getting lost in the markets of Pluto. He realizes there is an entire universe of aliens and planets at his fingertips.

But one day the Choppies, floating orb robots, show up. They don’t understand how to play nicely. They get rough. And they crack the glass of an adventure vehicle on Mars, putting Kiki’s new friend Grawfur in danger.

Making science and planets fun, 
Kiki Finds Friends explores friendship, bullying and social behavior. A space adventure you can’t ignore.


Space is a big adventure, especially for Kiki as he explores not only the universe around him but something called 'friends'.

Kiki enjoys life with his adoptive father, Frank, on the spaceship. Where else would biking around the rings of Saturn be a true possibility...although maybe a bit dangerous. Frank keeps him busy with all sorts of fun activities. One day, Kiki realizes there are others out there to meet and play with, which sounds great until he runs into a bunch of aliens, who are anything but nice. Suddenly, exploring the universe takes on an entirely new adventure.

Kiki is a fun alien has an unique flair, which makes him hard not to like. Unlike other aliens often found in kidlit, Kiki is very much a kid. He builds pillow forts, constructs all sorts of things with building blocks, and loves to explore. His attitude is cute, refreshing, and addicting. Frank is the perfect family at Kiki's side as he offers support, care, security, advice, and kindness. It's an inspiring relationship, which will resonate wonderfully with young readers. It also sets a firm basis for the rest of the tale.

The main message swings around forming friendships and dealing with bullies and other, sometimes difficult, social moments, and all of these stay right in the range of those type of situations, which readers might find themselves facing...just in space...which really keeps the atmosphere more fun and light. So, while there is a distinct message, it's an enjoyable read with quite a bit of silliness and adventure on the side.

This edition is written in German and English...yay! The translation is very well done and deserves kudos (that's not always the case). It is geared for the younger, middle grade end or more advanced, chapter book readers. I did find the formatting a bit difficult for this younger group, but it works as a great read-aloud for them. There's always something happening, propelling the story forward. Sometimes, there's a bit too much too quick, but for a read-aloud, this will also work well.

Then, there are the illustrations. I'm always a fan of illustrations, and these add just the right atmosphere at the right times. Space readers...especially those who are learning the two languages or are already bi-lingual, will enjoy visiting the stars with this one.

And here they are...

Marty and Amie live in Germany, though they were both born in the USA. They love exploring the mountains, in summer and winter, and spend all of their free time reading. One summer they had the idea to write a book together. Marty imagined the characters and what happened, and Amie filled in the holes.

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Today's read... Camping at Coyote Creek by Heather N. Quinn

Today's read comes at a moment when I'm planning a camping trip for our own family. I had to smile this morning as I read one of the character's comments (and yes, I really do read these books that last minute). When finding out the kids were sleeping in a tent in the wilderness, the character wondered how thin cloth could keep wild animals away. These were the exact same statements my own kids had, when I mentioned going camping in New Mexico. So, call this book realistic because it is!

Anyway, today's read is the third in a wholesome, chapter book series, and I, actually, have read the first two books. Since I enjoyed them, I wasn't going to turn down the chance to read this installment, too.

So grab those sleeping bags and flashlights, and let's head out into the wilderness!

My Country Cousins, Book 3
by Heather N. Quinn
Babble Garden Publishing
Chapter Book
109 pages
ages 6 to 10

The My Country Cousins series is aimed at independent readers who want a stepping stone between early chapter books and full-fledged novels.

The stories include:

    • short paragraphs and easy to read text

    • fast-paced, realistic plots

    • likeable characters with humour and empathy

    • lots of dialogue

    • new words to build vocabulary

    • illustrations to support text

    In the third book, 
    Camping at Coyote Creek, 10-year old Gemma must face her greatest fear: sleeping in a tent in bear country. Her cousins assure her she will not meet a bear. But will she?

    Join Gemma and her cousins for another fun-filled adventure today!

    You can find it...


    Camping takes on a bit of adventure and tons of fun as a girl from England learns more about living in Canada and experiences the great outdoors.

    Gemma is somewhat excited but mostly nervous about heading out with her uncles and cousins for a camping trip into the forest, especially since she doesn't want to run into any bears. Not convinced that the adventure is as safe as her uncles claim it is, she does her best to roll along with the fun and learns all sorts of things along the way.

    While this is the third book in the series and the authors hint at events in the first books, this still can be picked up without having read the first two books in the series. 

    Gemma's uncertainty shines through and is more than understandable, especially since the Canadian wilderness and its wildlife is still new to her. Those who haven't gone camping like that will feel for her, and those who have will still understand, although they will probably side more with her cousins, and smirk and smile. The adventure heads along smoothly, and there's always something happening. The tension mounts as the tale continues, although it never leaves a level, which even sensitive readers can handle.

    Along with the adventure of camping, the authors have built in tons of information, facts and tidbits. Not only do readers learn a bit about camping, but information about various plants, foraging, bear confrontations, and more flow right into the story. The facts slide in with the plot, never breaking the story flow. 

    The writing is appropriate for those, who have a pretty good grip on reading but aren't quite ready, yet, for full-fledged, middle grade reads. At the end of each chapter, there is a congratulatory message, which lets the reader know how many words they've accomplished up to that point. There's a wonderful sense of family and wholesome relationships in these pages, which makes it a great read especially for more sensitive readers and even homeschoolers. 

    Monday, August 8, 2022

    Today's read... This is a (Disaster) Birthday Cake by Andrew Cangelose (and a cave tip)!

    I'm shoving today's scheduled read, 1-2-3-4 I Declare a Thumb War, to tomorrow because... I've been baking a birthday cake! Well, among other things.

    There's only 2 more weeks until school starts up again. So, we've been trying to work in some extra fun for the kids. This weekend, we ventured down to northern Arkansas and visited a cave near Harrison. Okay, I'm going to go off a quick tangent here because this cave is pretty unknown and so-super-awesome to visit! It's called Eden Falls (remember that, you adventurers!) and is about a 2-mile hike round-trip with quite a few rock-stairs. 

    The trail leads past a natural bridge with a smaller waterfall running through (small rock climbing fans will love this, btw). Then, there's a much larger waterfall, farther down, with a very high cliff wall. Here, there's a large, natural alcove and boulders to climb between. No worries about the water. The level is usually not very high, not at all. 

    Lastly, at the very end of the trail is a cave. Now, there aren't any signs or explanations...BUT... knowers know that if you just happen to have a flashlight (a headlamp is perfect) and aren't claustrophobic, you can crawl through the cave (it's only about 3 feet high through a longer stretch) and break out into a 20 ft high cavern, which as a water fall cascading from the top. It is amazing and very much worth the visit...especially since very, very few people are prepared (or willing...or know what it truly is) to head on through. Yes, it is there to be explored. A park ranger comes by a few times a day, heads on back into the cave, and makes sure all's well. So, take this as an insider's tip because if you're in the area, you'll want to keep this one in mind.

    Okie, back to books... my father's birthday is today, and I truly did bake a cake. So, today's read is just perfect.    

    by Andrew Cangelose
    Illustrated by Josh Shipley
    Oni Press
    Picture Book
    20 pages
    ages 4 to 8

    AUGUST 23rd!!!

    Fan-favorite characters from This Is a Taco are back in this hilarious picture book tale of the ultimate birthday cake disaster!

    It's Taco the squirrel's birthday, and all of his little animal friends are planning a big surprise for him—they're going to make him a birthday cake! The only problem with their plan is that none of them know how to make a cake. So, as this sassy crew of critters is known to do, they set out to learn all they can about birthday cakes and how to make one, with spectacularly disastrous and delightful results.

    GOODREADS   /   AMAZON   /   B&N


    Birthday cakes take on an entirely new meaning as a squirrel tries to get the party started as quickly as he can.

    The squirrel is going to learn how to bake a birthday cake from the forest's best baker, but when she starts giving him history lessons along the way and insists he remain patient...well, parties won't wait forever. So, the squirrel decides to take matters into his own hands and runs off to bake the fastest, tastiest cake ever. To do it, he might just have to make some ingredient changes, though.

    Fast-paced, zany fun slams full-force into a bit of history surrounding birthday cakes, while mixing in tons and tons of hilarious moments. And all of it swirls together more than splendidly. The squirrel's whole-hearted intentions make him easy to support, even when he goes off on a ridiculous tangent, which demands raised eyebrows, snorts, shakes of the head, and giggles (tons of giggles). It's more than clear that disaster is on its way, but it's squirrel's totally unpredictable ideas, which make it impossible not to want to know what he'll come up with next.

    The patience of the baker slams a sharp contrast to squirrel's high-strung attitude, especially when the baker presents information surrounding the history of birthday cakes, facts about ingredients, and explanations over the baking process. These are even worded in a slightly 'higher language' style to throw extra emphasis between the two characters.  Plus, they are interesting facts, which readers/listeners will grab on to and remember. 

    This makes a fun read-aloud and holds tons of silliness with just the right pinch of information.

    And here they are...

    Andrew Cangelose is an elementary school principal in Kansas City, MO. He has four children who are constantly "making" him play Legos with them.

    Josh Shipley is an illustrator, designer, and animator currently living in Kansas City, MO. He has two sons who help push him to tell better stories, keep his illustration skills top notch, and remind him to always (and they mean ALWAYS) keep his silliness silly.

    Sunday, August 7, 2022

    Today's read... How Can We Be Kind? by Janet Halfmann

    Today's read slides into the animal world, while delivering a message of kindness along the way. While I'm not the hugest fan of the cover (I can be picky), I did enjoy this read quite a bit. (Don't always judge a book by its cover, they say!)

    Read on to discover the goodness and even take a peek. 

    Wisdom From the Animal Kingdom
    by Janet Halfmann
    Illustrated by Darla Okada
    Frances Lincoln Children's Books
    Picture Book
    40 pages
    ages 4 to 8

    This special book asks children a simple question: How Can We Be Kind? The answer is: by learning from the animal kingdom!

    Animals demonstrate kindness and empathy towards each other, and care and compassion can be seen all throughout the natural world.

    This book shows children the ways they can be kind just like animalsare to each other, while at the same time teaching them about the magic and the beauty of the natural world.

    They can learn to be welcoming like capybaras, who let other animals sit on top of them while they wallow in mud.

    Or perhaps they might want to be like dolphins, who guide other species to their destinations. Or maybe they would like to work together like ants and bees, share what they have like jackdaws or stick up for their friends like zebras.

    With beautiful illustrations from Darla Okada, this beautiful picture book will enchant and entertain children time and time again. There are facts at the back about how each animal lives with and looks after its fellow creatures.


    Hitting two directions at once, these pages introduce known and lesser known animals while showing how easy it is to simply 'be kind'.

    This is a nicely illustrated book, which dives into the realm of animals in a fresh way. Various animals, some well-known and others not so much, are depicted in group settings. A natural habit of each animal group is depicted, which portrays 'kindness' such as sharing, offering support, or care. Each illustration holds a positive atmosphere. The animals are portrayed in an easy-to-recognize fashion while giving off a joyful vibe. The living environment also gains a bit of attention as the background demonstrates a bit of each creature's habitat.

    The writing flows smoothly with only a short sentence on each page. It makes a lovely read-aloud and leaves room for discussions and comments along the way.  Plus, there's a 'Meet the Animals' at the end of the book to add more facts and tidbit fun.

    The message is simple and clear, but thanks to the animals, doesn't come across as overly preachy, either. I could see some young listeners 'turning' into animals themselves, afterwards, and mimicking the habits...and probably going way beyond.

    It's a cute read, which especially animal fans will enjoy. 

    A few words from Janet...


    I was inspired to write this story to add positive ways to look at the world. Since nature can be so calming and restoring, I spotlighted the positive ways animals react to one another as examples for all of us to follow

    Educational Connections:

    Empathy, compassion, caring, kindness, animal interactions, capybaras, European badgers, jackdaws, ants and bees, African elephants, prairie dogs, orangutans, blue manakins, white pelicans, emus, zebras, banded mongooses, dolphins, chimpanzees

    A "Meet the Animals" section at the back of the book has facts about how each animal lives with and looks after its fellow creatures.

    Learn more about Janet and the Illustrator, Darla Okada, on the following sites:

    Saturday, August 6, 2022

    Today's read... Sharing Joy in the Neighborhood by Alexandra Cassel Schwartz

    Today's read comes from the Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood world and features not only Daniel Tiger but Mr. McFeely, too. Of course, I'm expecting a very neighborly read with tons of good vibes and smiles. 

    Ready to take a quick look?

    by Alexandra Cassel Schwartz
    Illustrated by Jason Fruchter
    Simon Spotlight
    Board Book
    16 pages

    A new generation of children love Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, inspired by the classic series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood!

    Daniel Tiger spreads joy around the neighborhood in this 8x8 storybook that comes with twelve perforated notes little tigers can use to write to their family and friends to spread joy around their own neighborhoods.

    After receiving a special note from Grandpere, Daniel decides to write to the friends and family he misses, too! With Mr. McFeely’s help, he gets his notes off with a speedy delivery and brightens his neighbors’ days!

    © 2022 The Fred Rogers Company

    You can find this at:

    AMAZON :

    B&N :



    Neighborliness abounds in an inspiring tale, while giving kids an idea on how to make their own neighbors smile.

    Daniel Tiger is super happy to find the mailman delivering a letter to his house. After a bit of thought, he decides to send letters to his own neighbors, family, and friends. Now, to see if such an action will also make them smile.

    This comes from the more modern shoot-off of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood and includes ever-so-loved characters such as the postman, Mr. McFeely. Being a board book, it is thought for younger readers and will take a bit of abuse. The pages are bright and bold, allowing the situations and emotions to come across clearly, so readers can flip through and discover the tale also on their own.

    The entire thing is written in rhyme, which usually flows fine. There's a bit more text than in some board books, making it better as a read-aloud for slightly older audiences (3 to 5) than younger ones. But even younger ones will understand the message about sharing little things to make those around you smile.

    It's an up-lifting read and will especially please Daniel Tiger fans.

    Friday, August 5, 2022

    Today's read... Death is a Many-Splendored Thing by David Neilsen

    Today's read comes from an author, whose works I've enjoyed before. His books have a very original voice and feel...and I'm not going to say more because that would spoil some of my review. But if you're into horror-ish, weird, and all with humor...well, you're in for a treat.

    Ready for a fun and original ride?

    Chronicles of the Deadly Dead
    by David Neilsen
    Neilsen Books
    YA Paranormal / Humor
    157 pages

    The world would be a lot better off if all the dead people would stop pretending they weren’t dead.

    My name is Zachariah Thornwood, but everyone, even my parents, calls me Zack. A few months ago I was a normal fourteen year old kid obsessed with movies and baseball and girls. Not necessarily in that order. And now?

    Now I live life with the knowledge that there are a ton of dead people running around thumbing their noses at the whole idea of the Circle of Life. They could be anyone: the postman, the Mayor, the kid bagging your groceries, or the weather woman on TV. They seem perfectly normal, act perfectly normal, live perfectly normal lives, but are, in fact, perfectly dead...


    Spooks and scares creep around every corner with mysteries and secrets, but embrace it with tons of humor and a character to adore, and it warps into a fun ride.

    Zach is a pretty normal, high school kid. He loves playing for the baseball team, has friends, and is trying to figure out how to get the love of his life to go on a date with him. The only snare in his life is that his father passed away when he was young, but his step-dad isn't too bad, either. While walking home after practice, he passes a guy searching through the trees for something, but it's the hole right through the guy's head which has Zach doing a double-take. When the guy disappears into the ground and another many runs up behind, asking where the man went...and if Zach can't tell him, it's the end of the world...Zach's life swings into anything but normal. And it will never be again.

    The cover, actually, isn't only grabbing but it says it all. This book slams full-force into what should be scary, but swerves into humor to create an unique and exciting twist. Oh, and see the Indiana-Jones type in the background? Well, that eludes to even more. In other words, this is a read full of all-paranormal-horror but humor, instead, and tons and tons of adventure, too. It makes for a read, which holds tons of surprises, unexpected twists, and makes the tale hard to put down.

    Each character is as unique as the writing and plot. Especially Zach fits so well into the atmosphere, that it's hard not to want to be right there with him. He comes across as a very normal teen, a little awkward and insecure but handling life fine. And he over thinks everything. Extremely. The book is written from his perspective and allows the reader into his head, which is a very ramble-y, all-over-the-place spot to be. The hesitation, confusion, and uncertainty make him easy to root for as he encounters one impossible thing after the other. It's fun to watch as he trains to wrap his brain around things and figure it all out...and that never occurs smoothly. So, he's a great hero.

    I do recommend this one for upper middle graders and the younger end of the YA audience. Actually, even adults will smirk and smile. It's definitely a dive into fun for those who are willing to give it a go and keep an open mind.

    You can learn more about David and his other works (and he does have some other amazing reads!) at:

    Chasing Tarzan by Catherine Forster with Giveaway!




    by Catherine Forster

    YA Memoir

    In the 1960s, a relentless school bully makes Catherine's life a living hell. She retreats inward, relying on a rich fantasy life––swinging through the jungle wrapped in Tarzan’s protective arms––and fervent prayers to a God she does not trust. She fasts until she feels faint, she ties a rough rope around her waist as penance, hoping God will see her worthy of His help.

    As the second of eight children, Catherine is Mommy’s little helper, and like Mommy, Catherine is overwhelmed. The bullying and the adult responsibilities together foment her anger. She starts smacking her siblings, and becomes her younger sister’s nemesis. Spooked by who she is becoming, Catherine vows to escape for real, before she hurts someone—or herself.

    Catherine finds salvation in a high school exchange program: new town, new school, new family, new persona. A passport celebrity. In New Zealand, nobody knows her history or her fears. Except for her Kiwi “mum,” who sees through Catherine’s façade and pulls her out from her inner safe-house.

    Exposed, her sense of self implodes. Catherine must finally rethink who she is.

    Amazon * Goodreads

    Catherine Forster
    is an artist, filmmaker, and writer living in the Pacific Northwest ... at the moment. Her work and love of travel have led her to six continents, including Sub-Saharan African, the source of her childhood fantasies. She still holds a fondness for Tarzan, but when trekking in the bush, hiking mountain trails, or exploring a new city, she prefers the company of her beloved husband Kevin.

    Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads

    Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

    $10 Amazon

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Thursday, August 4, 2022

    Today's read... Wei to Go! by Lee Y. Miao

    Today's read heads to life in California and a brother and sister's adventures. I enjoyed the energy to on the front cover, and it seems to promise a more wholesome read. After reading the blurb, I am curious to see how it handles the main character's concern for her dad's job. I can't remember a book for middle graders, which tackles something like this (although I'm sure there are some out it below if you know some titles!). 

    Since it's also the beginning to a new series, I think it's worth more than a small peek. Shall we?

    WEI TO GO!
    Ellis & Co, Book 1
    by Lee Y. Miao
    Clear Fork Media Group LLC
    Middle Grade Contemporary
    298 pages
    ages 8 to 12


    Ellie Wei Pettit doesn’t know much about her middle name.
    She gets lost a lot. And loves butting heads with her lacrosse-crazed brother. He has the same middle name.
    But he’s a walking GPS. And loves butting heads with his word-nerdy sister.

    Life is good in their California neighborhood.
    Until a mysterious Asian corporation threatens her dad’s firm.
    With only a week before her family gives up all they love.

    No way that Ellie will let this happen.
    Not now. Not ever.
    Can she stop this by herself, like yesterday?




    A young girl's desire to help her family not only poses a big challenge, but teaches her just how vast the world truly is.

    Ellie is finally finding more footing in life. She's got a best friend, a good relationship with her family (well, she won't admit that where her younger brother is concerned), and is about to start her first successful softball season after a bad beginning year. When she returns home after a day's practice, she learns that her father's company is being taken over by a firm in Hong Kong. Refusing to risk moving away from her home, she convinces her mother to take her on her trip to Hong Kong (along with her brother in tow). There, she plans to find a way to save the company, and although that was already a pretty big task, now, she realizes how ridiculously large it is.

    This is a wholesome read with a girl, who has tons of determination, a love for life, spunk, and, still, isn't perfect. Little things such as her inability to immediately pick-up sports and her extreme lack of direction make her a heroine to root for. Of course, she has strengths, but these obvious problems make her easy for readers to connect with. She comes across naturally, makes understandable decisions even when they are mistakes, and has more than enough drive to do what she thinks needs to be done. Since it's written in her point of view, it's very easy to follow her reasoning and thoughts as well. 

    While the mystery and tension are well laid in these pages and drive the story forward in an exciting way, there are also tidbits of information about China and the culture. The reader comes out knowing a bit of history, habits, learning a few words, and having a better grasp for what life is like in the country, and that they discover it right along with Ellie is a plus. There's also a bit to learn about business and the professional world. While that seems like a lot of brain-food, it's never boring thanks to the the adventure and hurdles Ellie and her brother meet along the way.

    I especially enjoyed the sense of family in these pages. Ellie's relationship with her parents is warm and full of goodness. While she does sneak around them, the entire adventure is her attempt to keep their life as good as it is. Her irritation with her brother does bring more than a smile or two and is super-sweet in so far that's it's clear how much they truly like each other underneath those prickly layers. Plus, they add balance to one another in the best ways.

    This is a lovely start to what promises to be a fun series. Ellie is definitely a girl with tons of ideas and the determination to reach her goals. So, I have no doubt that her adventures will never bring a boring moment.

    And here she is...

    Lee grew up in a small Pennsylvania town with a fabulous library. After studying international relations in college, she worked for a magazine in New York City and then went on to graduate studies in business. Her California-based international banking work included a stint in Asia for a few years. Eventually, she became a freelance writer and editor for grades 6–8 English language arts and social studies and then pivoted to writing middle-grade fiction. She lives with her family in New York. 

    Contact information: Lee Y. Miao

    Instagram: @leeymiao.writer  



    Wednesday, August 3, 2022

    Today's read... Dance Stance by Once Upon a Dance

     Today's read is one, which should thrill young, ballet dreamers. Written by a ballet professional, it targets girls ages 5 to 8 (about), who want to learn ballet. The purpose is to point out things such as posture and other important aspects, which will help young dancers know exactly what they should be watching out for. I'm expecting it to be quite fun...more because of that cute little kitty on the cover. I believe this one is non-fiction (haven't read it quite yet), too.

    So put on those leotards and do a bit of stretching first because we're going to have some dancing fun.

    Dance Stance
    by Once Upon a Dance
    Chapter Book
    64 pages
    ages 5 to 9

    Once Upon a Dance donates all proceeds to charity.

    Aspiring dancers adore the clever mix of wit, wisdom, anecdotes, and how-to instruction from a professional ballerina. Throughout the award-winning debut of ballet inspiration, young readers explore posture while standing, on tiptoes, and on one leg. A tutu-wearing kitty sidekick joins Ballerina Konora and friends, adding humor and lighthearted encouragement.

    Brought to you by the mother-daugther team of Once Upon a Dance, with over 20 awards for their Dance-It-Out! and Dancing Shapes series for younger audiences. Dance Stance debuts their trilogy for kids ages 8+.

    Once Upon a Dance series also includes Dance-It-Out! Creative Movement Stories and Dancing Shapes: Ballet and Body Awareness for Young Dancers.

    Link for the book

    Posture and position with encouraging words and a personal touch are only a few nuggets of goodness inside these pages.
    This book is all about dance stance, and while that might sound simple, there's quite a bit to it. Starting with a few, personal thoughts to the reader, the chapters then dive into the various aspects and hints to create the basic stance for ballet. It describes the importance in paying attention to positioning, while explaining exactly how that is achieved and what to look out for. There are also more than a couple short letters from ballet dancers, which offer thoughts and personal insights into dancing. And there is more than a little support and enthusiasm along the way.
    This is written as if the author is directly talking to the reader, which gives it a very personal atmosphere. The reader learns exactly how to hold their feet, legs, and other parts of their body through very exact descriptions, which are accompanied by quite a few fun comparisons (zipping pants, leaning in to smell a huge pot of spaghetti). I was glad to see that it's also explained why these positions are important. The text is kept fairly short in a usual earlier chapter book style. While much of it is simple to read, there were several sections, where the writing is better geared for slightly older (lower middle grade) audiences. So, this may fit better for a slightly older audience (ages 7 to 10) in many cases.
    The illustrations are full of positive vibes, add a touch of humor, and keep a perfect-ballet-feel thanks to the pastels and soft lines. These are fun to flip through, and they do offer assistance in understanding the positions described in the text, when necessary.
    To top everything off, the letters from other ballerinas give words of encouragement and add a very, nice touch. Readers will realize that ballerinas, who have already been dancing/learning for awhile, are just like them. Plus, the thoughts and concerns are ones they themselves might have, at one time or another. The reader feels as if they're being embraced into the group and are truly welcome to the ballet realm. 

    About the authors

    Once Upon a Dance is an award-winning mother-daughter collaboration.

    Ballerina Konora climbed the ballet ladder to pro, and she's thrilled to be living her dreams dancing with Ballet Idaho. Along the way, she danced iconic roles such as Sugar Plum Fairy and Cinderella.

    Teacher Terrel taught dance for decades and was honored by her City Council for "embodying the spirit of partnership and commitment to children in our community" for her work with young dancers. She's breathed ballet from every angle and worked in early childhood education, for non-profits supporting kids, and as a university English teacher as a Peace Corps volunteer.

    Once Upon a Dance 2021/2022 Awards: Mom’s Choice Gold Award, Family Choice Award, Royal Dragonfly First Place, PenCraft Award First Place, Firebird First Place, Pinnacle: Best Book Juvenile Fiction, Independent Press Award Winner, International Impact Book Award Winner, Outstanding Creator Awards Winner, Readers Favorite Certified Great Read, Indie’s Today 5-Star Recommended, The Wishing Shelf 5-Star, Literary Titan 5-Star Award.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2022

    Today's read...Epic Myths for Fearless Girls by Claudia Martin

    I've been looking forward to finally have a chance to take a look at today's read. It's a collection of fifteen myths from around the world, spreading over a very wide variety of cultures and beliefs. The publisher insisted I see a true copy, since the artwork in this one is very well done. And they aren't wrong. 

    Oh, and each myth centers around a heroine, so we're talking girl-power pure.

    Ready to visit gods, myth, and lore?

    by Claudia Martin
    Illustrated by Khoa Le
    Arcturus Editions
    Middle Grade Myth
    128 pages
    ages 7 to 12

    OCTOBER 1st!!!

    This beautifully illustrated, full-colour hardback gift edition presents a thrilling collection of 15 myths from around the world, reinterpreted by master storyteller Claudia Martin and celebrated children's illustrator Khoa Le.

    Discover mighty goddesses and magical heroines from around the world in this inspirational collection-and unleash your own inner strength!

    This collection showcases narratives that celebrate strong, independent women. They run free and possess the qualities we would hope for in our daughters and friends: self-confidence, strength, wits, courage, fearlessness, and independence.

    Myths include:
    - Mami Wata's Golden Comb (Liberia)
    - Freyja's Necklace (Norse)
    - Durga and the Buffalo Demon (India)
    - Amaterasu and the Cave (Japan)
    - Isis Discovers the Name of Ra (Egypt)
    - Sedna of the Sea (Inuit)
    - Pandora and the Jar (Greece)
    - Nu Wa and the Pillars of Heaven (China)
    - Hina Journeys to the Moon (Polynesia)
    - The Girl and the Windigo (Ojibwe)
    - Oochigeas and the Invisible One (Mi'kmaq)
    - Pele Fights with her Sister (Hawai'i)
    - Oshun Brings Water (Yorusha)
    - The Trials of �tain (Ireland)
    - Xquic and the Empty Net (Maya)

    Ideal for children aged 8+.

    ABOUT THE SERIES: Arcturus Publishing's Inspiring Heroines series retells classic children's stories, showcasing strong female protagonists who strike out against adversity and smash stereotypes. Featuring enchanting full-colour illustrations by Khoa Le, these empowering tales will inspire young readers to dream big.

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    Gorgeous illustrations accompany ancient myths and tales to show that heroines come from all types of situations and show bravery in very different ways.

    This is a collection of fifteen myths from around the world. They spread over beliefs, cultures, and time to include a wide variety of heroines and plots. In an introduction, the author explains that each tale centers on a heroine. While some are more classic ideas of what a true heroine should be, others show that heroines can come from various backgrounds and may have been heroic in surprising ways. Plus, the idea of what heroic is also includes a wide range of possibilities. Two of the myths have changed endings so as to allow the initial 'heroines' to do more than stay at home...but it's pointed out which two these are. The rest settle close to the original tales, or at least, how they are told today.

    This is a gorgeous book, whose illustrations live up to the myths. The cultures and time frames shine through, allowing the reader to sink into the various 'worlds' and get a glimpse at the different cultures and themes. Each page includes a small design, which correlates to the tale, while each 2-page spread holds one full illustration. It is a treat to simply flip through and gaze at these, and let the various settings and situation sink in.

    I was surprised at the variety of myths and even as a myth-lover, stumbled on several I hadn't heard before. From the well-known Greek gods to Eskimo legends and tales from Asia and beyond, the entire world seems to find a place. This allows for a vast assortment on heroines and plots, making sure that none are like the others. There were a few things mentioned in the myths, which weren't really explained or shown (like a kora), but these were far and few between. The tales are easy to understand and sink into, and open up history as well as the various views of different cultures nicely. 

    While this does make a nice addition for group settings and those, who are wanting to dive into the theme of myths and legends, it also makes a very lovely read on its own. It's one of those books, which can easily be added to the shelf and enjoyed for many years to come.