Sunday, April 30, 2023

What's Coming in May?

April showers bring May flowers! This year, the saying seems to hold some truth. Last year, we entered a drought when May hit, but these last weeks, it's been raining right along. 

I am sliding my reading in as I can while enjoying the sunshine, when it peeks through. Which is great because I have quite a few interesting books coming up this month. My pile holds two books, which feature main characters pretending to be vampires (which made me go 'huh'), and there are several tales with darker tones...but several humorous ones, too. Then, I'm going to be hitting an entire run of picture books at the end of the month, so anyone interested in reads for ages 4 to 8 is going to want to tune in during those days. Plus, I have more graphic novels than usual coming up. Add all of the other odds and ends thrown in between, and it should be as colorful as those buds popping up in my garden.


I'm so ready for some nitty-gritty scifi, and this one appears to offer adventure pure. A girl uses a chance to be on the 1st space colony as an escape from the problems on Earth, only to have life wiped out after she leaves. Now, her and the crew are fighting to survive on their own. I'm hoping for tons of tension in this one, and I'll find out if it keeps me on the edge of my seat or not on the 4th.

Young Adult Science Fiction


I found this cover adorable! It's about a freshly hatched bird's adventures as she falls out of the nest and gets lost in a wide world, which she had no clue existed. I'm thinking themes like friendship and courage are going to be in this one. We'll find out on the 6th.

Picture Book


Sold as Ghost Squad meets Hotel Transylvania, I'm expecting this one to be quite the wild ride. It centers around a girl, who pretends to be a vampire and is thrilled about attending a LARPing summer camp only to discover that it's for real monsters. Doesn't that sound fun? Find out with me on the 12th how creepily thrilling this one is.

Middle Grade Paranormal Humor


I'm expecting this bright, green read to harbor mystery and heart. It rotates around the loss of a beloved grandmother, dealing with her passing, and weaving a mystery in with hints of a ghost...or not. This one seems to walk a border between reality and imagination. I'll find out more on the 7th.

Middle Grade Contemporary


This one sounded so interesting! It centers around a teen boy, who enters a new school where the kids are vampire crazy. So, he takes the chance to become uber popular by claiming he's a vampire...which is going to be quite interesting since this is sold as a pure contemporary read. No magic. Not really. I'll let you know what I think on the 15th.

Young Adult Contemporary


This is the 1st in a brand new series from Scott Reintgen (I do enjoy his books!) and is sold as a One of Us is Lying meets A Deadly Education but tossed into a fantasy world with wizards, magic, portals, and tons of danger.
It sounds dark, thrilling, and I'm taking a peek on the 18th.

Young Adult Fantasy


When I read the blurb on this one, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to take a peek. It takes a boy on a wild ride through time, meeting historical figures and events but all with the twist that something is amiss. It sounds like adventure, action, heart, and maybe a little humor, too? Considering there's a talking dinosaur involved, this could go in many directions. I'm jumping in on the 19th.

Middle Grade Historical / Adventure


The flowery, good-vibes radiating from this cover are what caught my attention. Plus, this one is about a sweet dog, new friendships, and the hunt for a lost treasure. It sounds like it could be a winning mix and find out if it is with me on the 20th.

Picture Book


I know so many readers, who adore horses. So when I saw that this book is coming out this coming October, I was thrilled to get an early peek. It promises tons of beautiful photos of horses in the wild. I'm betting it will offer some information and facts about them as well. We're going to gallop into this one on the 25th.

Middle Grade Non-Fiction Picture Book

This read was a nominee to the Goodread's list for Young Adult Fantasy of the year (2022). It's the first in a series and book two will be coming out soon, too. Centering around Shanghai, spies, and the 1930's, I'm hoping this one is as exciting as it sounds.

Young Adult Historical Fantasy

Every month, I find myself staring down a humongous to-be-read pile, and there's no way I can get to every book. So, I choose one book, which I'm determined to squeeze into my packed schedule, somehow. This month's joker falls into the picture book category!


When I saw this one, I wanted to dive right in. It has such a Spring atmosphere to it, and with the child and grandparent (?), it seemed like one with tons of heart, too. I'm expecting warm feelings, family relationships, and all sorts of goodness in these pages. OH, and I hope that little doggie adds some fun, too. I can't say when I'll get to it, yet, but I am definitely going to wiggle it in.

Picture Book

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Today's read... Lincoln's Big Adventure by Jordan Saez

It's time to hit a bit of information, while enjoying a fun tale...or so I hope. Today's read comes from a teacher and addresses the theme of money, spending, and finances. I found the billon the front cover inviting and was curious to see where he would go and what he would do. So, let's take a peek and see how this money flows.

by Jordan Saez
Illustrated by Layla Davis
Picture Book
46 pages
ages 4 to 8

How do dollars count in our everyday lives? Lincoln, an eager and outgoing dollar bill, wants to make a difference in his community. But how? He comes across several opportunities as he visits the hands of multiple community members who also want to make a big difference. Lincoln travels from one hand to the next, being a hero to the homeless, a big help to the sick, and even makes friends along the way.



Written with a little adventure, this book dives into the world of simple finances in a fun way.

Lincoln, named after the President Lincoln on the $5 bill, is excited to travel around and discover the world around him. Not only does he get to see quite a few things, but he learns a bit about finance and how people spend in various ways.

This book takes a cute dive into the world of money by following a likeable character on his journey. Lincoln is a bill with a sympathetic personality, who is simply curious and ready to learn. If bill's had a heart, his would be golden, and this makes him easy to follow as he goes from one situation to the next. Listeners and readers are drawn into the small adventures and will be eager to see how each one continues as Lincoln meets various characters and learns quite a bit along the way.

Simple finances are addressed in a fun way, which draws in but still keeps the information clear. Not only are themes such as counting and spending addressed, but the author goes further and addresses the social side as well. It's a well-rounded read, which does a nice job at introducing young readers/listeners to money and spending, while keeping things entertaining as well.

Friday, April 28, 2023

Today's read... A Work in Progress by Jarrett Lerner

After yesterday's quick break from reading, I'm diving into a more serious read. Today's read comes out early next week and is the latest in a huge pile of works from a well-known author. I do look forward to seeing Mr. Lerner's tales. Anyway, this one leans more toward the graphic novel direction (think Wimpy Kid) but should carry tons and tons of bite. At least, the blurb makes it clear that this one surrounds insecurities on weight, bullying, and other problems.

So, let's buckle down because this one promises food for thought.

by Jarrett Lerner
Middle Grade Contemporary / Poetry / Graphic Novel
368 pages
ages 8 to 12

MAY 2nd!!!

A young boy struggles with body image in this poignant middle grade journey to self-acceptance told through prose, verse, and illustration.

Will is the only round kid in a school full of string beans. So he hides…in baggy jeans and oversized hoodies, in the back row during class, and anywhere but the cafeteria during lunch. But shame isn’t the only feeling that dominates Will’s life. He’s also got a crush on a girl named Jules who knows he doesn’t have a chance with—string beans only date string beans—but he can’t help wondering what if?

Will’s best shot at attracting Jules’s attention is by slaying the Will Monster inside him by changing his eating habits and getting more exercise. But the results are either frustratingly slow or infuriatingly unsuccessful, and Will’s shame begins to morph into self-loathing.

As he resorts to increasingly drastic measures to transform his appearance, Will meets skateboarder Markus, who helps him see his body and all it contains as an ever-evolving work in progress.



Written in verse, this read creates a powerful and emotional atmosphere as a young boy deals with self-image issues surrounding his weight.

When someone teases Will for being overweight, the cruel comment digs deep and festers. At first, he only tries to hide the problem, but it eats at him as he isolates himself from everyone. His mind whirls around his weight until he decides to diet, which he has really no clue how to handle. One day, a new kid enters school, and Will seems to have found a possible friend...not that he really believes anyone wants to be his friend. As Markus opens up to Will, Will is already in a bad place and in an unhealthy spiral, which he doesn't see...and doesn't know how to break.

This is a graphic novel and takes a form reminding of Wimpy Kid. The tale is written in poetic, short verse/phrases and carries a font to give the atmosphere of being written by Will on notebook paper with his doodles and scribbled art mixed in. This creates a potent and quick read. The artwork slides right in with fitting emotions so that both text and imagery work hand-in-hand to carry the message home. Will's fears, frustration, panic, depression, and frantic moods come across vividly and demand attention.

The entire thing stays in Will's head, and he is obsessed with his weight the entire way through. He goes through emotional extremes and takes the reader right along with him. It does a fantastic job at portraying the insecurities surrounding self-image problems and how they can spiral out of control. Still, it leads everything into a healthier direction by the end and offers a wholesome conclusion. So, the message hits loud, clear and with impactful emotions...and yet, I wish there would have been a little relief here and there (other concerns/thoughts/tiny sub-plots or a teensy bit of humor), since 350+ pages at this level of seriousness is heavy for certain middle grade readers and might not be a great fit for more sensitive readers. But for the right readers, it carries heart and food for thought.

It was nice to see Will's struggles with weight and dieting from a boy's perspective, since this is a problem for both genders. However, I do wish there would have been other pressures/issues involved outside of the school atmosphere and sheer body-imaging problems. Due to the number of heavier kids in schools today, weight isn't going to be the sole cause of bullying or mental turmoil as seen in Will's case. There is much more at play, and that's ignored here. But then, that's a complicated can of worms, and this read hits Will's weight, self struggles, and developing friendships with well-done craft, grit, and tons emotion. For the right reader, it leaves with an impact.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Today's read... BridgeKeeper by L.S. Moore

We're taking a walk into the paranormal realm with today's read. This one heads toward the young adult audience and promises ghosts, chills, and thrills. I haven't gotten to thriller spirit tale in awhile and was looking forward to diving into graveyards, murderers, and a little mystery...with spooks included? We'll find out. Oh, and this one doesn't hit the shelves until August, so there's plenty of time to get excited about it if it's good. Which we're about to find out.

by L.S. Moore
The Big Fig
YA Paranormal
382 pages

AUGUST 1st!!!

On a night when the veil between the living and the dead is thin as a soap bubble, sixteen-year-old Will McCurty discovers his dark destiny.

An ability passes from firstborn to firstborn in Will's family. His older brother will become a medium, a Bridge across the veil between the living and the dead.
To survive, every Bridge needs a Keeper - someone to control the invading spirits, figure out why they’ve come, and help right their wrongs.

If Will becomes a Keeper, he'll have to harbor secrets, lie to friends and break his mother’s heart. That night he has a choice, accept his destiny and become his brother’s protector. . .

Or abandon him to the desperate dead.



Reminding a bit of that famous series, Supernatural, this tale takes two brothers into the realm of ghosts, murderers, and action pure.

Will is sixteen, talented at martial arts, and despite some family issues due to his dad's death years before, okay with life and takes it how it comes. That is, until one night his older brother is nearly hit by a car thanks to the appearance of their grandmother's ghost. Will's nineteen-year-old brother has known about their destiny to deal with the dead, but to say that Will is totally broad-sided is an understatement. His brother is a Bridge, a very strong medium, and needs a Keeper, a person to physically protect him by every means...which Will agrees to be, since he'd never fail his own brother. As Bridge and Keeper, they are to help the dead with problems, which keep them from crossing over into the afterlife. But while other Bridges and Keepers deal with 'easy' things such as finding wedding rings, fate has something else in mind for the brothers.

I enjoyed this read so much more than I thought I would. The story is pretty straight-forward but still carries the needed twists and turns to keep those pages turning. The author does a good job at bringing across Will's situation naturally and lets his uncertainty, mistakes, and frustrations shine...without demeaning him as a character. He has a lot on his plate, especially with his brother's life as his main responsibility. This causes issues with friends, already-stressed family, and daily life. But this isn't a book about teen drama, by any means. 

There are several plot layers running at once, and these weave in and out with each other nicely. Many characters are involved, but this never grows confusing. Each one has its purpose and place, and fits right in. The beginning of a large arc, which will, obviously, run through the series, is also set, and this neatly umbrellas the main plot of this first book, which is tense and gripping all on its own. There's danger, tons of tension, mystery, spooky moments, magic, ghosts, family issues, brotherly love, a touch of romance, and so much more. All of this forms an easy read, which flows by quickly and draws in from beginning to end, while keeping the reader at the edge of their seat. There are some items, which popped in with a bit of thin backing, but with so much going on and speeding along, these didn't hurt the fun in the least. I read this one in one sitting because I didn't want to put it down.

I'm very much looking forward to see what adventures this pair of brothers will have next.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Today's read... Saving Snakes by Jessica Lee Anderson

My youngest daughter is a huge animal fan and has her sights set on working with animals as her future career. So, today's read was something, which immediately caught my eye. Plus, isn't that girl on the cover inviting and friendly? Paired with the snake in her hands, it draws attention and does a great job at setting the stage for this read. 
This is a chapter book for sure readers and should include animal facts and tons of wholesome fun.

by Jessica Lee Andersen
Illustrated by Alejandra Barajas
Capstone Publishing
Chapter Book
95 pages
Reading level 1-3
ages 6 to 9

When Mom brings home a new houseguest from the exotic animal hospital, it sparks a great idea. Naomi decides to form a snake rescue club with her best friend, Emma, and her brother, Nolan. But tensions arise with her next-door neighbor Taylor, who hates snakes. Will the snakes bring them together or drive them apart? One thing is for certain: rescuing snakes leads to adventures—and even friendships—that Naomi never imagined!



Animal fans will enjoy this read as they accompany a friendly girl and her desire to help any animal she can, especially snakes.

Naomi is excited when her mother brings home an exotic snake to heal after a surgery at the rescue. As she helps to care for Beauty, she has an idea—there are snakes in the neighborhood, who might need help too. So, she forms a snake rescue club with the support of her parents, best friend and b
rother. All's going great except for the neighbor girl, who not only hates snakes but seems to have a difficult attitude in general. Still, Naomi is determined to do the best she can.

This is a book in a series, which centers around various animals and a girl's love for each and every one. The author does a terrific job at creating a familiar setting with a character to like and wish was a reader's friend. Readers will have no trouble identifying with her, and not only her love for animals but the relationships with her family and friends. She's simply a normal girl, and it's this which will have readers wanting to help the animals around them as well.

The text is great for those readers, who are very sure of their words but not quite ready to dive into a longer, middle grade novel. There are bright and colorful illustrations strewn in and the font is slightly larger for easier reading. There are snake facts peppered in, which allow readers to learn more about the reptiles. At the end of the book, there are several activities such as snake facts, questions, writing suggestions, and more. 

Rescuing animals is kept down at a very realistic level, making sure readers are aware of the dangers, problems, and benefits Naomi faces when heading on this venture. Not only does this rotate around the animals, but also hits on the fears and reactions people have, and what influence this has on the situations. To round it off, there's the side-plot concerning rockier relationships and forming friendships. So, there is quite a bit of goodness in these pages, and I'm excited to see what Naomi will be up to in the future.

Here she is...

I've attached my photo, a photo of the series, and here is my bio: Jessica Lee Anderson is an award-winning author of over fifty books for young readers. She once was afraid of snakes, but now has a deep appreciation for these misunderstood and often misidentified creatures. You can learn more about Jessica by visiting


Monday, April 24, 2023

Today's read... I Am a Tornado by Drew Beckmeyer

Today's read addresses a theme, which, I'll admit, sometimes makes me a little nervous. Like many of you, my thoughts on tornadoes carry a slightly more serious edge, thanks to living much of life in higher tornado zones. Even today, we have our spot in the basement, where we head, at least, a couple times each year. We even lost power two years ago for a week because a tornado took out the power lines (tons of trees, barns and a home or two) only a few miles down the road (like 3-4). Still, there's the lighter side to these amazing things as well, and I giggle when I think of some of the 'tornado' tendencies my own kids embody. I was curious to see where this tornado leads...and am thankful that it's not my cow that is spinning above its eyes!

by Drew Beckmeyer
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Picture Book
40 pages 
ages 4 to 8

MAY 9th!!! 

An emotionally unaware tornado carves a path of destruction until it picks up a very empathetic cow in this quirky and sweet picture book about compassion and navigating negative emotions.

Tornado is on a rampage. It tosses cars and knocks over barns. Tornado is also angry, only it doesn’t know that or want to admit it. Then Tornado picks up Cow. Oh, no! Cow would like to be put down. Fortunately, Cow is a good listener. And sometimes Tornado just needs to be heard.



With thought and heart, this is a cute tale, which leaves a smile on the face and a tiny spin of thoughts to think about.

This tornado is ready to destroy everything in its path. Violent and moody, it heads down its path, but when it runs into a cow, an unexpected conversation starts. The cow takes the time and patience to listen to the tornado...and might even be able to calm it down.

These pages take a spot-on-glance at raging emotions, one which listeners/readers will have no problem identifying with. After all, who doesn't want to rip everything around them to shreds, at times? On the same hand, it's very easy to sympathize with the poor cow as it's caught up in the fury...completely innocent and in a very dangerous situation. This contrast is a clever way to have readers/listeners understanding both sides right away. Also, the cow takes the time and patience (despite being in a life-threatening position) to listen to the tornado and truly understand its position, which calms the tornado down to demonstrate how an open ear can work wonders. It's a powerful image with a clear message that sits. And just as important, it holds enough humor and fun to make it more than an enjoyable read.

The illustrations and text balance into a lovey read-aloud. The text is simple. direct, and allows the person reading it out loud to a group to have quite a bit of fun (if desired). The images support the humor, while making the situations clear. It keeps everything entertaining and grabbing the entire way through. To top it off, there is a tiny bit of information about tornados woven in, too.

It's a fun read aloud, which makes a good point.

And here he is...

Drew Beckmeyer is an author-illustrator and schoolteacher based in Los Angeles who definitely and absolutely never gets upset and never has a hard time admitting something is wrong. Never ever. He is the author-illustrator of I Am a Tornado and The Long Island, which was longlisted for the Klauss Flugge Prize, and the illustrator of Dear Wild Child. Visit him online at 

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Today's review... Skydance by Faith Hubley

Today's read caught my eye due to the creative direction. Plus, it pays homage to a short film produced in the early 1980's, and I'm always a fan of promoting a bit of the this case art/film history and a renowned illustrator. Science fiction is, actually, the theme in these pages, which also surprised me and spiked my curiosity. But before I ramble on more, let's just head on in. Oh, and I added a link to the original film if you're curious.

by Faith Hubley
Illustrated by Elizabeth Swados
Anthology Editions
Picture Book / Science Fiction
32 pages 
ages 4 to 8

We are the creatures of the sky
We jump
We whirl
O dancing
We are dancing
Belly floating
Sky swimming
Crackle crackle zing hello

The sky creatures reach out and invite a child to join them in a swirling, joyous, celestial celebration. A tribute to life on other planets is brought to life in Faith Hubley’s full-color illustrations and Elizabeth Swados’s evocative sounds and rhythm. Anthology is honored to publish Skydance, adapted from Faith Hubley’s now-classic animated film and reprinted for the first time since its release in 1981.

GOODREADS   /    AMAZON   /    B&N   /    ABE BOOKS


The short film, Sky Dance, which released in 1981, was said to be a celebration of animation and jazz music as it portrayed a playful meeting of life in space. This book brings the artistic animation into picture book form, while adding a poetic flair.

I did take a peek at the original film when diving into this book, which isn't necessary in order to enjoy the read but does bring some insight for an adult reader. The poetry/text added to the book is very well done. It sets a positive atmosphere and is interesting as well as fun to read. There are a few repeated phrases, which will get listeners to join in a tiny bit, and the entire thing as a playful touch. The vocabulary is well fit for the intended age group and slides right in with the illustrations. It's a nicely done read.

The illustrations reflect excerpts from the film, which is also the purpose of this read. These will be a question of taste. They take a modern and very artistic direction. I thought they were interesting, but my kids said they weren't their thing. So, that side will have to be decided from reader to reader. I do, however, see this as a great way to introduce young audiences to a more time orientated direction in the art world. It'd make a nice read for groups, classrooms, or homeschoolers before jumping into a new art theme and will inspire them to make creations of their own.

Here's the original film:

You can learn more here:

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Today's read... Going Dark by Melissa de la Cruz

Today's read is one I've been looking forward to diving into but couldn't get to until now (so many books, so little time!) This one came out end of January and promises tons of thrills and tension pure. The characters are in college, which does make me wonder if it works as a YA read, but I've been told that it does and that's enough for me...because this one does look exciting. 

by Melissa de la Cruz
Union Square Kids
YA Thriller
338 pages

In this ripped-from-the-headlines Gone Girl meets A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz weaves a white-knuckle YA thriller about a beautiful young influencer who vanishes after going on vacation with her boyfriend.


The Influencer
Amelia Ashley shares everything with her followers – her favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, her best fashion tips, and her European trip-of-a-lifetime with her hot boyfriend.

The Boyfriend
Josh has no choice but to return home without Amelia after she abandons him in Rome. He has no clue where she went or how her blood got in his suitcase. Why won’t anyone believe him?

The Hacker
To Harper Delgado, Amelia Ashley is just another missing white girl whipping up a media frenzy. But with each digital knot she untangles about the influencer, Harper wonders: who is Amelia Ashley?

The Other Girl
Two years ago, another girl went missing, one who never made headlines or had a trending hashtag.

The Truth
Amelia’s disappearance has captured the world’s attention. What comes next? Watch this space…

Told through a mixture of social media posts, diary entries, and firsthand accounts, Going Dark is a gripping, suspenseful thriller about all the missing girls who fall off the radar, perfect for true crime fans and readers of One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus.

GOODREADS  /   B&N   /   KOBO   /   AMAZON


Reminding, in some ways, of the recent missing case surrounding Gaby Petito, this is a dark and thrilling delve into murderers, victims, and the cloak social media provides.

In a short time, Amelia has it all. She's not only reached near celebrity status with her restaurant review blog, but she has an amazing relationship with her boyfriend, Josh. So, the last thing anyone expects is for her to suddenly to missing. Josh returned from their dream trip to Europe alone and doesn't even realize Amelia has disappeared until he's hit by a social media storm. He has no idea where she is but knows that everyone expects him to, especially since they were supposed to take the return flight together. He's innocent and plans on cooperating with the police, but it soon becomes clear that he's the main suspect...that is, if there was a murder. Amelia's body, evidence of her death, or even clear evidence of violence is nowhere to be found, but that doesn't keep suspicion away. Plus, there's more at play than meets the eye. A dangerous game has begun, and no one is as innocent as they seem. Not even close.

Weaving and twisting around secrets and lies, nothing in this story is as it appears. Social media provides the first layer of shadows, illustrating how created, false fronts can be used to manipulate and deceive. This hits close to home and already brings an uncomfortable familiarity, but it doesn't stop there. The author lets the more traditional form of deception also mix in, and that with vicious cleverness. Add mental illness, and the truth is warped in every form. 

While this takes place in the characters' college years, it is very fitting for the young adult audience. There's nothing inappropriate, and the situations still ring true. The plot is enhanced with blog, email, text, and even diary excerpts. The timeline does bounce around a bit thanks to flashbacks told from various points of view, and these also build the tension while exposing the lies, little-by-little and one at a time. The reader is kept guessing but also hits the emotional side of the characters as the mental end gains clout. I did find myself skimming through more than a few paragraphs of Amelia's going-ons and, later, even some from Josh. But then, I had a little trouble connecting with the characters, anyway. Still, it'd be wrong to say I didn't enjoy the read. Once the stage was set, I had to know what had happened to Amelia, what had truly set off the string of events, and what horrible secrets several characters were hiding. It's a book that demands to be read until the end...and even that exposes something very unexpected.

And here she is...

Melissa de la Cruz is the #1 New York Times, #1 Publishers Weekly, and #1 IndieBound bestselling author of Isle of the Lost and Return to the Isle of the Lost, as well as many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for readers of all ages. Her books have also topped the USA TODAY, Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists and have been published in more than twenty countries. Today she lives in Los Angeles with her family.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Today's read... Build Your Own Space Museum by Claudia Martin

I was excited to discover to today's read! Not only is space a happily seen theme in our household but activities are a definite treat. Even my husband went giddy when he saw this book on the kitchen counter. So, I'll just dive in and let you know how...and works.

by Claudia Martin
Illustrated by Mike Love
Lonely Planet Kids
Children's Nonfiction  /   Activity
23 pages
ages 6 to 8

You have received a crate of rare space objects from around the world, and it's up to you to place them in the correct rooms! Follow the instructions to create five amazing pop-ups and assemble the objects in exhibitions throughout the museum. From Mars rovers to Moon rockets, this hand-on book combines STEAM and creativity in a fun-packed package.


Not only space fans will enjoy the goodness packed into these pages as it lures in with facts, interesting illustrations, and constructions on every other page.

It's off to space and beyond in this colorful, fact-packed read, which allows readers to pretend that they're in a museum...and build their own displays in the process. When opening the cover, the reader immediately discovers a giant flap with a note on it, which explains that the exhibits are inside. These are various space objects (from planets to ships and more), which are to be punched out and used to construct the displays on the correct pages. There is a detailed and illustrated two-page description on how this is done to make sure everything is clearly understood. It's straight-forward and really not overly difficult.

Each two-page spread symbolizes a museum room and rotates around a certain theme. This is broken down into boxes with titles and facts. Everything from themes such as 'Where is Space?' to planet facts to space capsules is explored, each with interesting tidbits, which aren't found in the usual science classes at school. The breakdown invites the reader to return time and again, and visit the sections however they'd like. At the end, there is a page with questions so readers can see if they remember some of the details. 

Everything about this book screams space fun. The self-construction of pop-ups works very well, and while taking a little finger finesse, isn't overly difficult. The pop-ups do need to be handled with a little care when reading the book after they've been constructed. But then, a drop of glue in the slots goes a long way to make sure they don't slide out with use. Each page radiates excitement for the topic with clear illustrations. The text is kept short for each topic (although it is quite a bit for each room), sliding in a couple of facts and fun. The vocabulary does hit the lower end of the  middle grade level. So readers need to be sure of their words.

This one makes a great present, for homeschooling, or for space and construction fans.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Today's read... The Revenge of Dr. von Naysayer by Ada Hopper

Some days, it's just time for some ridiculous, adventurous fun, and today's read promises to do exactly that. Set for the higher end of chapter book readers, today's read is the tenth in a series. Nope, I have not read any of the other books in this one before (because why would I do something like that?) It swings around science fiction and invention fun, while packing tons of illustrations (yes, I did take a quick peek).

The Data Set #10
by Ada Hopper
Illustrated by Glass House Graphics & Rafael Kirschner
Little Simon
Chapter Book Science Fiction
128 pages
ages 5 to 9

In the tenth DATA Set adventure, the kids must choose sides in the battle between Dr. Bunsen and Dr. Von Naysayer!

Dr. Bunsen goes up against his ultimate nemesis, Dr. Von Naysayer to settle their long-standing feud, once and for all. May the best mad scientist win!

With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the DATA Set chapter books are perfect for emerging readers.



Inventions and adventure take a quirky and high-tension twist in a story with many surprises and humor, too.

The DATA Set kids pay a visit to Dr. Bunsen's secret lab, but he's no where to be found...just his usual mess. When he does appear and invites them to the Invention Convention, they are amazed to see him presented on a main banner. Right next to it is the banner of his ex-partner, Dr. Von Naysayer. The kids wonder about this but are too drawn in by the amazing inventions around them to give it much thought. When the presentations on the stage begin, Dr. Von Naysayer displays a plasma orb, which is a huge break-through on energy sourcing. Everyone is awed by the electricity and light it produces...until everything goes dark. When the lights return, the Data Set kids are trapped in the orb and Dr. Von Naysayer's evil plan unfolds.

This is the tenth book in the series, but it was no problem to settle right into the adventure. There are mentions of situations from the earlier books, but these do not create any holes. So, this can be read as a stand alone.

Those readers, who are well-grounded in their words, but not quite ready to dive into a heavier, middle grade novel, will enjoy this one. The font and spacing is larger sized, allowing for reading ease. The vocabulary urges readers to push forward while still remaining enjoyable and at the right level. There are illustrations on every page, which keep boredom away and add to the sense of adventure, while making the imaginative scenes easier to visualize and understand. Not that this tale could ever be considered boring.

Science fiction and inventions mix with the imagination to open up a whole realm of possibilities, and these do defy logic. While reading, it seems as if there's no rhyme or reason as to why things happen as they do, but the huge leaps of imagination, which keep the plot very unexpected and surprising, slap right back together with an interesting and unexpected twist at the end. 

Of course, there are wholesome messages, too. This read is much more grounded in that direction then it first appears. While there are very dangerous situations, evil intentions, and high-stakes to keep readers on the edge of their seats, the resolution to the disagreement between the two scientists does a sudden 180`, which while making perfect sense, leaves a sense of whiplash. This isn't bad just unexpected.

Readers who crave adventure, action, and invention fantasy (without forgetting a big dose of humor) are in for some very imaginative fun.

And here she is...

Ada Hopper has been extremely inventive ever since she was little. There was nothing that a rubber band and some tweezers couldn’t fix, no question that couldn’t be answered by scouring the library, and no way she wasn’t escaping over that backyard fence! Ada loves reading and writing because of all the fantastical worlds a good book can bring you to. When not working, Ada enjoys karaoke, spending time with her family, and going on the occasional adventure or two.

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Today's read... Can We Play Baseball, Mr. DeMille? by Mark Angelo

Today's read hits a favorite, American sport while incorporating a real life tale. I don't run across many historical picture books and was more than a little curious to see how this one would do.

Ready to see if it's a home run? 

by Mark Angelo
Illustrated by Patricia and Robin DeWitt
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 4 to 8

Set in 1958, a young boy and his friends want to be baseball players just like their Dodger idols. There’s just one problem: they don’t have a field to play in.
Luckily, the kids know a secret. There’s a mansion around the corner with a yard big enough for an entire ball field and the hedge surrounding it has a gap just big enough to crawl through. Apparently, the owner is a big-time Hollywood mogul. He won’t mind a few ball games, right?
This sensational true story of a young boy’s encounter with a Hollywood legend is rich with youthful determination and summer fun, highlighting how every child needs space to play.



Not only baseball fans will find themselves caught up in this story and feel victory at the end.

A boy and his friends love to play baseball, but there isn't an open area large enough for them to truly play a game. Except for the yard of a rich man's house down the street, that is. When they peer through a hole in the bushes and find no one around, they sneak in and cautiously play a game. As time goes on and no one ever notices them, they grow bolder and are soon playing without a second thought...until someone finally catches them and asks them to leave.

I'll admit when I first saw this book, I was a little skeptical on whether or not it would ring true to modern young readers. It's set in the mid-1950's and includes a powerful gentleman in Hollywood, Cecil DeMille, who I was more than sure kids had never heard anything about. But this tale manages to bring history to life in a way, which today's readers will identify with even when not being aware of the identity of the characters involved.

There is more text in this one, making it ideal as a read-aloud or for those readers, who have a better grip on their words. The tale flows smoothly and lures in as the kids chase their desire to simply play ball. The characters come across naturally and the vocabulary fits the age group nicely. Most importantly, it's never boring.

The desire to play is something almost every kid can identify, and it's very easy to feel nervous right along with the boy as he tries to find a way to continue doing what he loves. This may be set in the past, but the situation will ring true and familiar. Baseball fans will recognize a name or two, and those who aren't baseball fans won't have the story daunted with these mentions. As to the Hollywood big-shot, it doesn't matter who he is as far as the story goes. It's the atmosphere surrounding him, which is palpable and creates the tension. This will have listeners wondering if the boy can succeed or not.  

Finally, there are the illustrations. These are well done and bring across the time period nicely, while keeping it familiar. The situations drawn in and allow the emotions to come across clearly. It is fun just to slide through these and see the story, too. 

And here he is...               

MARK ANGELO has been a baseball fan since he was a little boy! He is also a globally renowned river conservationist and the founder of World Rivers Day, now celebrated by millions of people in over one hundred countries. Among his many accolades, Mark is a recipient of the Order of Canada, the country’s highest honor. His acclaimed debut children’s book, The Little Creek that Could, is the true story of a stream that came back to life. Through his work with groups such as the Outdoor Recreation Council of BC, Mark has been a long-time advocate for outdoor spaces for all to enjoy. Can We Play Baseball, Mr. DeMille?, about a young boy’s search for a place to play ball, recounts an actual experience from his childhood. Mark lives in Burnaby, British Columbia, with his wife, Kathie.


Monday, April 17, 2023

Today's read... The Abdication by Justin Newland

by Justin Newland
Historical Fantasy
328 pages

The town of Unity sits perched on the edge of a yawning ravine where, long ago, a charisma of angels provided spiritual succour to a fledgeling human race. Then mankind was granted the gift of free will and had to find its own way, albeit with the guidance of the angels. The people’s first conscious act was to make an exodus from Unity. They built a rope bridge across the ravine and founded the town of Topeth. For a time, the union between the people of Topeth and the angels of Unity was one of mutual benefit. After that early spring advance, there had been a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a crumpled, fading autumnal leaf.

Following the promptings of an inner voice, Tula, a young woman from the city, trudges into Topeth. Her quest is to abide with the angels and thereby discover the right and proper exercise of free will. To do that, she has to cross the bridge – and overcome her vertigo. Topeth is in upheaval; the townsfolk blame the death of a child on dust from the nearby copper mines. The priests have convinced them that a horde of devils have thrown the angels out of Unity and now occupy the bridge, possessing anyone who trespasses on it.

Then there’s the heinous Temple of Moloch!

The Abdication is the story of Tula’s endeavour to step upon the path of a destiny far greater than she could ever have imagined.




A rich world awaits in this grabbing tale of a town, which has not only been  divided but grown as far apart as heaven and hell.

Tula has left her home on the plains to venture up the mountains in search of the city of angels, but what she finds is anything but angelic. Across the deadly ravine from what had been the wondrous city of Unity, another town has formed. This one holds the people, who broke away from the angels and insisted they follow their own course through life. As time has progressed, the angels seem to have completely disappeared. Instead, demons have taken their place, and they have a thirst for death. Every so often, they trick someone to walk across the dangerous, rope bridge dividing the towns and ensure that person plunges to their death. But Tula refuses to give up hope, and as she gets to know the citizens and their history, she realizes that the situation is darker than she'd assumed.

The author has created a rich and original world, and with Tula, it's no problem to sink into it. There isn't much background given about her. The reader just knows that she's made this journey with the hope to enter Unity and meet the angels. And that's enough. The characters she meets bring the spice, each one vibrant and unique. They have their own thoughts, goals, and history, which adds lovely depth and makes Tula easy to root for as she slowly figures out what the true situation in the town is. The pacing isn't quite a fast as I usually like, but there's more than enough going on to keep the reader in the pages.

This is a book, whose food-for-thought deepens as the tale goes on. There are several messages in the pages and quite a bit to chew and digest. As Tula uncovers more and more dark secrets, the reader is cleverly lead to consider questions surrounding difficulties and issues found in people and society today. All of this happens without leaving the fantasy world and the adventure Tula is up against. It is a grabbing read, which stays with a reader even after the last page is finished. 

And here he is...