Saturday, May 18, 2024

Snoopy's Beagle Scout Tales by Charles M. Schulz

Today's read isn't really anything new but heads into a much-loved direction. The Peanuts gang was well-known to me and my siblings, and my kids still enjoy watching some of their seasonal shows. I'll admit that I'm always a bit skeptical when it comes to the continuation of such series once the author is no longer creating them. So, I'm hitting this one with mixed expectations.

Peanuts Graphic Novels
by Charles M. Schulz
Simon Spotlight
Middle Grade Fiction
ages 8 and up
160 pages

Enjoy nature with the Peanuts gang in this graphic novel that features classic Schulz comic strips, previously published stories, and an all-new original camping-themed story!

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the rest of the gang spend time in the great outdoors in this collection of graphic novel short stories that includes the classic Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown! 

GOODREADS     /     B&N      /       AMAZON      /      BLUE BIRD CROZET


The Peanuts gang heads to outdoor-camp adventure with all of their quirks and ideas to face new obstacles in their very own way.

This is a collection of five stories, each one heading outdoors to the realm of summer camp. At the beginning, there is a table of contents to help readers quickly locate the tale they want to visit. While one of these is written by Schulz (not illustrated, though), the other four originate from other authors but remain true to Schulz's general style. Between each one, there are short, original comic snippets from Mr. Schulz.

This is an endearing collection with the gang as they're known and loved. Charlie Brown is his usual, awkward self as he tries to overcome new obstacles. While even normal life aspects tend to give him trouble, he faces bullies and more in these adventures, always with his friends at his side. Of course, the Peanuts' gang has their inner-ripples, which lead to all sorts of funny situations. And Snoopy is underway with his troop of birds to sneak in that extra zest at all the right moments.

The stories are grabbing and hit a bitter-sweet note of truth, while keeping humor high. But that's also one of the reasons this gang is so enjoyed. Young readers will find many situations they can identify with and giggle (or roll their eyes) most of the way through. There are more than a few life lessons and times to groan right along with Charlie Brown, making it a relevant read to still enjoy. Some of these do come across with a tiny bit more bite than Schulz had, but it still remains very much along the lines Peanuts has embodied.

It was interesting to compare the artwork from the original to the 'new'. The artists have remained mostly true to Schulz's style but with clearer lines and brighter colors. This does make the reading easier/clearer for the intended age group. The wonderful personalities of the characters also guarantees that the reading skills are gently pushed thanks to the, sometimes, broader vocabulary in the dialogue. 

It's a fun collection for young Peanut fans or those who enjoy well-done, situation humor. 

Friday, May 17, 2024

Movies Showing Nowhere by Yorick Goldewijk

 I might be jumping things a bit with today's doesn't hit the shelves until October. Well, that's if you don't speak Dutch. This book was released in 2021 and was suppose to hit the English speaking world the beginning of last month...but didn't make it thanks to a shifting schedule. Whoever thinks the publishing realm is easy or predictable, has simply missed the mark. So now, it appears to be hitting the world this coming Fall, but I couldn't wait to read it until then because it really looks that good.

by Yorick Goldewijk
Translated by Laura Watkinson
Pushkin Children's Books
Middle Grade Fantasy
256 pages
ages 8 to 12

OCTOBER 1st!!!

A prizewinning middle grade fantasy adventure about memories, loss and time travel.

On the day Cato came into the world, her mother left it. Cato's dad has been a mere shadow of a person ever since, and Cato has given up reaching out to him. When she finds a mysterious card from an abandoned movie theatre and discovers it has reopened, Cato decides to go take a look. There appears to be something strange about the cinema. The movies showing there are no ordinary movies and somehow the cinema seems to be in connection with the past...

Looking for adventure and the truth about her mother, Cato is swept into a dangerous journey through time and memories, straight to a place deep within her heart. A place she had always managed to keep locked away. And then she faces a choice that will change her life, and that of her father, forever.



The mysterious atmosphere of old theaters meets a fantastical journey into memories to create an adventurous read with tons of heart.

The day Cato was born, her mother died, and this has hung over her and her father's heads their entire lives. He barely recognizes her existence and the only reason things run somewhat smoothly is thanks to the busy-body neighbor, who seems to think she's part of the family. Cato wishes everything could change. When she discovers a card announcing the opening of the old cinema, her curiosity leads her to the theater where she meets the new owner. Cato agrees to work for cinema and soon learns that only one visitor comes each day, and that the movie screen isn't what it appears to be. Instead, it's the portal into memories...and the owner of the cinema claims it's part of Cato's job to step into it.

It's no wonder that this book has won several prizes. The writing flows very well (kudos to the translator). The story carries that magical touch to invite to dreams. Cato is a kind girl, who is at odds with the world around her. She's a bit prickly because of that but in a way which makes her easy to sympathize with.  The characters around her don't really gain as much depth in the same way, but this is also the heart of the plot. It's a tale of discovery as she learns more about the people around her and, therefore, about herself.

Everything about this read carries a lightly mysterious and magical flair. From the secretive neighbor, who seems to be hiding an agenda, to the odd old woman on the street, nothing is as it seems. Then, there's the old cinema with its amazing eerie atmosphere. Even without tons of descriptions, the author brings the dusty, historic building across vividly, creating a setting which invites to adventure. Readers will wish they could visit it themselves and wonder why anyone would be willing to drink squash juice served with popcorn. 

The story rounds off very well by the end and creates a read with tons of heart, which surrounds loss and how circumstances can change a person's view on life. There were a couple hiccups on the logic end, but these barely surface thanks to the smoothness of the rest of the read. It's a lovely, fantastical journey with heart, which touches on a difficult theme and offers hope.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Your Throne Volume One by Sam

This month, I seem to be hitting quite a few graphic novels, especially in the young adult direction...which is fine by me, since time is tight this time of year. We planted corn this week and now, I have to hit my upper garden beds, since my tomatoes are slowly taking up my living room windows and really, really, really need to make it outdoors. And then, there's the zucchini. 

I'm going off on a tangent here...zucchini is usually a plant that can feed a village. But not here. We have squash bugs, which destroy the plants right before they produce. (Stupid bugs!) BUT I finally got my hands on diatomaceous earth. This contains 80-90% silica, which is said to dry out the bugs and make it impossible for them to chomp away at the stem and roots. So, I'm praying for tons of zucchini this year. I'll get back to you on how that all works out. 

Anyway, graphic novels fly by faster on the reading end than traditional ones, so I was happy to see so many in my pile. Today's looks like one I'll either love or hate...and if I hate it, then I'll try the diatomaceous earth on it? Maybe not.

Do any of you know how to pronounce diatomaceous?

by Sam
WEBTOON Unscrolled
Young Adult Fantasy
288 pages

OCTOBER 1st!!!

A powerful noblewoman has to rewrite her entire revenge plan when she wakes up in the body of her sworn rival. Your Throne Vol. 1 collects the first 12 episodes of the stunning fantasy WEBTOON comic by SAM, which has over 830 million reads worldwide.

Tensions are brewing under the seemingly calm surface of the Vasilios Empire, a kingdom ruled by the Imperial Family and the Temple. Lady Medea Solon has lost her place next to Crown Prince Eros but resolves to do whatever it takes to win back what's rightfully hers. However, she’ll have to rewrite her entire revenge plan when she wakes up in the body of her sworn rival.


Revenge and evil-queen-vibes sink into an unexpected game, where everyone plays their own strategy while unknowingly taking the role of someone else's pawn.

Medea should have been queen but lost her place when the prince chose the other girl instead. Now, she's out for revenge, but before she can take it, the craziest thing happens, and she wakes up to find herself in her rival's body. While she quickly regains her footing and has all intentions to continue with her initial goal, her new and different perspective of the situation reveals a much more complicated scheme. What started as a simple plan to destroy one person has warped into a battle to save the entire kingdom.

I went into this hoping for a darker, cliche story, which would offer a bit of expectations weren't high. But this gives quite a bit more and promises to lead into an exciting series of intrigue and many hidden agendas. The beginning shows Medea in a terrible light as a vengeful young woman, who embodies the villain. It made her very hard to like or connect with, especially when juxtaposed with the angelic rival. During the first pages, I did wonder if I'd made a bad grab. Also, not much time is spent sinking into the situation or world, leaving a bit of confusion especially since Medea's hate seems very unfounded. But this ill-balanced beginning does end up setting off the tale better than first appears.

While this starts with an overly cliche atmosphere, the twists and turns flip everything on its head to create an original and grabbing read. There is a lot of room for character growth, and even in this first volume, that arc comes across well. To say that there's quite a bit going on is an understatement, and that guarantees quick pacing throughout. With all of the webbed intentions, this could quickly grow confusing but flashbacks root the background and keep things from flying out of control. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of such back-and-forth, but it works well because the reader gets hit with a truckload of information in this first volume. While it seems to border on confusing at times, it manages not to go too far, but instead, sets the base for so much more to come during the upcoming volumes.

The art style fits the story. The color tones match the atmosphere and subtly portray each 'queen' in a way, which supports how the reader is supposed to see them at that moment. The visual changes match the plot and balance well with the text.

I am looking forward to the next volume, especially since this beginning has laid such an intricate base. There are more than a few questions as to the intent and goals of several characters, and it will be exciting to see where this all might lead.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook for Kids by David Borgenicht and Justin Heimberg

Today's read caught my attention right away.  I loved such reads as a kid, my siblings enjoyed them, and my own kids would have gobbled up survival facts. I am curious to see how detailed this read gets and hope it's a lot of fun, too. 

by David Borgenicht and Justin Heimberg
Illustrated by Wenke Kramp
Quirk Books
Middle Grade Nonfiction
128 pages
ages 8 to 12


The best-selling (and wildly hilarious) Worst-Case Scenario series is back with 40 extreme survival tips for kids ages 8-12, great for adventurous fans of the I Survived books.

Erupting volcanoes. Ravenous sharks. Pooping in the woods. The great outdoors is a weird, wonderful, and scare-your-pants-off terrifying place. Whether you’re freezing in the Arctic, escaping quicksand in the jungle, or befriending tarantulas in the desert, this guide has you covered. (Figuratively, not literally. We didn’t have the budget for a blanket-sized book.) Bust this guide open and discover step-by-step instructions for surviving the most extreme situations that Planet Earth can throw at you. 

Learn how  Dodge a charging rhinoceros, ride out a sandstorm, navigate by the stars, build a snow cave, cross piranha-infested waters…and much more. Yeah, the outdoors can be scary, but big deal. You’ve got this indispensable, laugh-out-loud survival guide. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get out there.



Survivalist and adventure fans hit information for hardcore situations, and that with tons of humor tossed in.

From ice landscapes to jungles...from Africa to South America and more, this read visits dangerous and sticky situations, which readers may or may not ever face, from all ends of the globe. Surviving a shipwreck on an island, facing down a mountain lion, or even understanding the first hints of a tsunami no longer count to secret skills after hitting these pages. The chapters divide up the possible predicaments by settings (jungle, ice, etc.), give a one paragraph introduction, and then dive into several scenarios and how to deal with them with short tips and hints. 

Some skills are useful and good-to-know. Others are interesting but probably will never arise...which doesn't mean the information is useless, though. Each situation is delivered with a sense of adventure and humor, which never underplays the true danger but keeps it light-hearted and fun. The information holds general, easy tips (nothing overly technical) and will have readers proud that they know some things others probably don't. The information is also correct, which does add to the all-around-knowledge aspect and really can help out if the need arises. It's an extremely varied mix, which adds to the fun.

The writing is very fitting for the middle grade audience. The reader is directly addressed, and while the authors 'play' with each scenario and add jokes, they never talk down to the readers, either. It guarantees smiles and also helps the information sit better in the memory. There are added questions toward the end of each chapter, which hold a bit of real information checking but also offer ridiculous answer possibilities to bring snorts and giggles. The illustrations also add humor but do help readers understand the information given in the text (like how to construct emergency shelters). 

It's a fun read with tons of information, too, and I do see readers enjoying this one quite a bit.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Morgana and Oz Vol. 1 by Miyuli

Today's read doesn't hit until September, but I've been too curious to see if it's any good to wait that long. It's a graphic novel for the teen audience and should be a light, fun read. This one is going to play around the relationship between a witch and a vampire...and now that I think about it, I haven't read a vampire story for a very long time! Wow. It was just a couple years ago that vampires and witches were all over YA literature. Interesting how things constantly change.

Anyway, I'm hoping this one isn't all gushy and swoony but rather packs some humor, adventure or something along those lines, too. So, off we go!

Volume 1
by Miyuli
WEBTOON Unscrolled
YA Paranormal
320 pages


What happens when a struggling witch meets an angsty vampire? Either love or war.

Morgana belongs to a long line of witches, and Oz to the rival vampire clan. After a chance encounter . . . and maybe a few stray spells . . . these two need to find a way to work together, or risk all-out war between coven and clan.

It's a Romeo and Juliet story where a boy and a girl from two rival clans, one a vampire and one a witch, meet cute, like each other, but then the girl makes a serious mistake and turns the boy into a cute kitty.

Collecting episodes 1-19 of the hit fantasy WEBTOON series



Take a accident-prone witch, a lost vampire turned cat, and a coven/clan war, and chaos is guaranteed.

The witches are determined to finally find peace with the rival vampire clan after generations of fighting and invite them over for a first dinner. No magic is allowed, but Morgana can't stand the color of the dress her mother chose for her. When her magic backfires—again—, it doesn't unleash chaos but she does run across someone lurking outside on her way to the dumpster. As her and the vampire, Oz, exchange first greetings as awkwardly as possible, the dinner inside erupts into chaos. Soon, the house is standing in flames, the vampires swear deadly war, and Morgana ends up with a vampire-turned-kitty in her arms. Somehow, everything needs to be fixed, but Morgana is the last witch, who can be expected to achieve that job.

I was expecting quite a bit more romance, and I'm so glad that this aspect didn't hit nearly as strong as it might have. Instead, this read takes on a sweet, funny, and chaotic tone with just a touch of secret agendas to add a dash of mystery...but very slight. The tale concentrates more on Morgana and her inability to control of her magic as she desperately wants to meet expectations and become a good witch. Her super kind personality and willingness to overlook others' negative points, makes her a heroine to root for. She's naive but not stupid and has quite a bit of potential for growth during the series. Oz doesn't come across as strongly in this first volume, which works fine and simply lays the groundwork for more to come on his end. He does add the needed grit to create smile-worthy situations, though.

This is a fun, easy read with quick and even pacing the entire way through. While the tensions between the coven and clan members are obvious, darker moments are held at bay by the lighter humor and quirky situations. The over-the-top personalities of most of the characters is endearing, and yet, it's clear that a couple might not hold the genuine intentions as they appear to have. But this side is only hinted at and, I'm assuming, will carry much more importance as the series continues. 

The graphics tend to take darker hues (not always but overall), while the characters...especially Morgana...remain wide-eyed and more open in their style. This fits well with the story's atmosphere, and also allows the hints of darker aspects to maintain present without gaining too much footing against the sillier side. Many scenes also hang toward the individual characters rather than fuller settings and surroundings. This allows the personalities and emotions to shine. When more is needed, the backgrounds are well done, making it easy to slip into every moment. 

It's a fun read, and I am looking forward to seeing where it goes from here because there promises to be several unexpected twists and turns...and tons of character growth.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Happy Book Birthday, Monet Chases the Light by Jenny Gahan!

Happy book birthday! I might be a day early on this one, but the pre-party is always the most fun. Today's read heads in a non-fiction direction and takes a peek at Monet. I don't believe this one will be a boring look at his life, accomplishments, dates, and such. Instead, I'm expecting something a little more general about him and his works. Obviously, it will have, at least, a little bit to do with light. And him running?

Anyway, let's just open the cover and find out.

by Jenny Gahan & Patricia Ward
Little Pink Dog Books
Picture Book
32 pages
ages 6 to 10

COMING MAY 14th!!!

Monet, a French artist, is fascinated by light. He paints at all times of the day, in all seasons, and in all kinds of weather. He chases the light as it frolics through the fields, dances in the treetops, and skips across the water. Eventually the light comes to rest in Monets beautiful waterlily pond.

Monet Chases the Light is a creative non-fiction picture book for children aged 4-6 years. Claude Monet, a French artist, produced paintings that glowed with light and colour.

Monet was fascinated by light and painted at all times of the day, in all seasons, and in all kinds of weather in his endeavour to capture the light in his work. This book introduces children to Monets fascination with light in a playful manner. He chases the light as it frolics through the corn fields, dances in the treetops, and skips across the shimmering water. Monet paints quickly, as the light never stays still for long. When the light is soft and silky, he uses gentle flowing strokes. When the light is harsh and bright, he uses rough, choppy strokes. Monet sometimes paints the same thing over and over, from dawn until dusk, watching the colours and light change as the sun drifts across the sky.

At his home in Giverny Monet creates a splendid waterlily pond. He paints magical pictures of his pond as the light prances through the waterlilies. Then, as an old man, Monet grows tired of chasing the light. He sits quietly beside his pond. Monet has spent his life chasing the light, but now at last the light finds him.

AMAZON    /     PUBLISHER   /    B&N   /    OBLONG BOOKS


Light and art play on every page as Monets' works are portrayed in each scene.

This book is a light, flowing homage to Monet and his works. The reader meets him when he's already older, and he's running with canvas and art supplies across a field as it artistically merges from a painted image of violet to a colorful landscape. This sets a playful tone, which holds throughout the read. But then, this isn't a read about the facts surrounding Monet, but rather, brings across his art style and works in a natural manner, which especially takes a view at his use of light...hence, the title. Every page shows a colorful landscape, which expresses how light changes the appearance. At the same time, Monet is shown as he paints the same scene on his canvas. 

The illustrations are done in watercolor and carry the same colorful style as Monet's works. The scenes keep a very light atmosphere and allow the colorful landscapes to hit with a slightly fantastical impression, which invites to dreaming.

Especially the younger end of the intended age group will enjoy this one, and it works well as a read-a-loud. The light, rhythmic tone leads the reader through the different settings, which even include Monet him painting while sitting on a boat. The entire thing rounds off to a comforting and peaceful end to form a calming read. This would work nicely as an introduction to an art theme or when learning more about Monet. 

And here they are...

Jenny Gahan is an experienced primary and special education teacher, passionate 
about sharing her love of reading and writing with children. She writes picture books, 
both fiction and non-fiction, that encourage children to use their imagination, build 
their language skills, ask questions, and engage with the world around them.
Jenny's first fiction picture book, A Rainbow of Feathers, was published in 2020. This 
beautifully illustrated book features Australian birds including a Rainbow Lorikeet, 
a blue Fairy Wren, a Scarlet Honeyeater, a Yellow Robin, and a green Fig Parrot, and 
tells the story of a baby lorikeet finding her colours.
Jenny lives in Brisbane, and in addition to reading and writing, Jenny's interests include 
photography and painting. In the future she plans to visit more of the places that inspire 
her creativity.

Patricia Ward has a B.A Design and is an emerging children's book illustrator, who is 
currently working on her fourth children's book. Patricia is an art director and illustrator 
whose work spans television, magazines and publishing. Her illustrations have 
appeared on CD artworks, magazine and book covers, in television series and her 
animations have won awards both at home in Australia and in New York in the New York 
Festivals TV & Film Awards.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

The Buddy System by Matthew Cody

Happy Mother's Day! 

Time Buddies Book 1
by Matthew Cody,
Colleen A.F. Venable
Illustrated by Chad Thomas
Epic! Creations, Inc.
Middle Grade Science Fiction  /   Graphic Novel
ages 8 to 12


Buckle up your chrono-belt and get ready to explore another dimension of the Cat Ninja story! Time Buddies is a history-smashing, humor-packed new graphic novel from Epic Originals!

When Hoot, an adorable, impulsive owlet from the future, meets Bentley, a studious, rule-following kid from the present, neither one quite fits into their own time. But with the accidental click of a sparkly button (or is it a snazzy one?), the two are off on an adventure that winds through ancient Egypt, the Wild West, and even the Renaissance!

Will the history-hopping duo make it back to when they belong, or are these buddies officially out of time?



Time travel mixes facts with fun twists to create a humorous and adventurous ride.

Hoot is ready to travel with his classmates for a field trip back in time to witness one of Cat Ninja's famous battles, but something goes wrong. Instead, Hoot finds himself landing a day or two after the event and runs into Bentley, a kid who never seeks adventure of any kind. Hoot wants to find his classmates and zips back through time again, but this time accidentally takes Bentley with him. From dinosaurs to Egypt to the Wild West and more, the two hit one adventure after the other, and it doesn't seem they'll ever get back to where they're supposed to be.

While this tale branches off of the popular Cat Ninja series, it's not necessary to have visited the Cat Ninja books before diving into this new series, since it swings off in a very independent direction. 

Hoot is a cute owl, who strongly believes in his abilities and doesn't quite live up to his own expectations. It makes him easy to connect with and root for as he steers through sticky situations, while never giving up and shaking his mistakes off to immediately try again. His self-assurance clashes against Bentley's tendency to be overly careful. This not only leads to fun back-and-forth dialogue and humor but helps each to learn from the other and form an interesting friendship.

The tale enjoyably weaves historic fact with silly fiction to create one grabbing moment after the other. But to make sure the reader learns a bit of history along the way, each historical moment is revisited at the end of the book to point out where facts end and fiction begins. All of this is done in an exciting manner, keeping the adventure and humor front and center.

It's an easy read and the graphics bring every moment to life. The moments run by pretty quickly, keeping the pace high and boredom away. It's especially good for those middle grade readers, who might still need a bit more reading practice before diving into larger novels.

And here they are...

Matthew Cody is the author of several popular books, including the award-winning Supers of Noble’s Green trilogy: PowerlessSuper, and Villainous. He is also the author of Will in Scarlet and The Dead Gentleman, as well as the graphic novels Zatanna and the House of Secrets from DC Comics and The Bright Family from Epic/Andrews McMeel. He lives in Manhattan, New York, with his wife and son.

Colleen AF Venable is the author of the National Book Award long-listed Kiss Number 8, a graphic novel co-created with Ellen T. Crenshaw. Her other books include Mervin the Sloth is About to Do the Best Thing in The World with Ruth Chan, The Oboe Goes Boom Boom Boom with Lian Cho, and the Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye series, illustrated by Stephanie Yue and nominated for the Best Publication for Kids Eisner.
When not bingeing old Twilight Zone episodes, Marcie Colleen is busy writing children's books. She is the author of numerous titles, among them Love, Triangle, Penguinaut!, The Bear's Garden, and the Super Happy Party Bears chapter book series. She lives in San Diego, California. Visit her at
Chad Thomas is an illustrator and cartoonist living with his family in McKinney, Texas. He’s worked on books such as TMNTStar Wars Adventures, and Mega Man and also illustrates activity and educational titles. He loves his family, comic books, and Star Wars and will let his children beat him in checkers, but never in Mario Kart.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Guardians of Mother Earth by Zea Perez

One of my favorite things about reviewing kidlit is discovering original reads, which draw in. Today's book hits this category wonderfully. It is a collection of tales, which surround plants...and interesting ones, which I haven't run across in children's fiction as of yet. It takes an environmental twist, but one that doesn't come across as overly preachy. 

But before I say more, let's just open it up and take a look.

by Zea Perez
Guest Author - Rowel Perante
Illustrated by JC Sobrevilla, JM Garcia, JV Ignacio
Ukiyoto Press
Children's Fiction
59 pages
ages 8 and up

Meet Ki the mountain, Pitchy the pitcher plant, Mawu the tarsier, Vanda the Orchid flower, Venus the flytrap plant and Bon the bonsai tree, the central characters in this new story anthology from Philippine children's author Zea Perez. Each character is involved in a quest to save their beautiful homelands from destruction at the hands of the intruders. These inspiring tales will reveal to each reader that no matter how big or small they are, they too can help make their world a better place in which to live and grow!



This is a collection of short stories for middle grade readers, which takes an unique turn toward nature in an entertaining and thoughtful way.

There are six tales, each carrying a very own plot, message, and twist. Even the characters include everything from a mountain to plants to insects to humans and more. But these tales do share the common thread of strengthening awareness for nature, especially in the realm of logging, deforestation, and more. The author is Philippine and this is wonderfully mirrored in the setting and scenes to create a rich and inviting backdrop.

I think this is the first time I've read tales which surround main characters such as a Venus Fly Trap or a pitcher plant. Keeping the younger age group in mind, the author weaves the carnivorous aspects of the characters in with clever finesse, adding a taunting allure, while still making them sympathetic and kind. Even the environmental messages, for the most part, slide right in, make their point, and do so without overpowering the magic of the story.

There text heads toward the lower end of the middle grade realm and works well as a read-aloud for younger ages in calm settings. There a simple yet cute illustrations built in to help readers picture the characters or situations, which add a nice visual touch as well. It an original collection and a refreshing way to visit nature and take along some food for thought.

And here she is...

This is a collection of short stories for middle grade readers, which takes an unique turn toward nature in an entertaining and thoughtful way.

There are six tales, each carrying a very own plot, message, and twist. Even the characters include everything from a mountain to plants to insects to humans and more. But these tales do share the common thread of strengthening awareness for nature, especially in the realm of logging, deforestation, and more. The author is Philippine and this is wonderfully mirrored in the setting and scenes to create a rich and inviting backdrop.

I think this is the first time I've read tales which surround main characters such as a Venus Fly Trap or a pitcher plant. Keeping the younger age group in mind, the author weaves the carnivorous aspects of the characters in with clever finesse, adding a taunting allure, while still making them sympathetic and kind. Even the environmental messages, for the most part, slide right in, make their point, and do so without overpowering the magic of the story.

There text heads toward the lower end of the middle grade realm and works well as a read-aloud for younger ages in calm settings. There a simple yet cute illustrations built in to help readers picture the characters or situations, which add a nice visual touch as well. It an original collection and a refreshing way to visit nature and take along some food for thought.


Friday, May 10, 2024

Oddbird's Chosen Family by Derek Desierto

Ugh! We lost our internet for several days...welcome to living out in the I'm a bit behind on sharing the reads I've collected for this month. 

Today's read follows the popular book about the same character, Oddbird. I didn't read the first book but am excited about diving into this one. So, let's take a peek.

by Derek Desierto
Feiwel & Friends
Picture Book
ages 4 to 8

COMING MAY 28th!!!

Oddbird has always been on his own. And he’s managed pretty well. But that’s changing – now, he wishes for a family.

When Oddbird’s friends plan a big surprise for him, he realizes he’s surrounded by those who accept and care for him. All families don’t look the same, and sometimes the families we choose are where we belong.



Between dad jokes, colorful friends, and the desire to belong, this is a read to enjoy from beginning to end.

Oddbird is off to visit his friend, meets the family, and has a really good time. When he leaves and walks home alone, he realizes that he doesn't have a family and is alone. Just when he realizes how sad he is, something amazing happens.

This book is the second surrounding Oddbird stories and works perfectly fine as a stand alone. Oddbird is a small, gray bird, who has a good heart, is kind, and values his friends. His 'drab' coloring clashes with the colorful birds surrounding him, but he's adorable in his uniqueness. 

It's easy to identify with him as he visits his friend's family, especially thanks to the awkward beginning moments. This will ring familiar with many readers, who go to their friends' houses for the first time. The addition of terrible Dad jokes slides in a fun quirkiness to add smiles. But then, even the sadder, loneliness Oddbird feels afterwards doesn't last long before the positive atmosphere kicks in again. 

The text is age appropriate and makes a nice read-aloud, while the illustrations are bright and bold and enjoyable. It's a cute read with a lovely message.

And here he is...

Derek Desierto, illustrator of Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes, is a Vancouver-based illustrator, designer, and overall nice guy from a nice family. His animation work has been recognized by the Ottawa International Animation Festival, the National Cartoonist Society, and 9 Story Media Group. Currently, he is living the dream as a freelance artist for animated TV shows and picture books. His ultimate goal in life is to meet Oprah and become one of her Favorite Things.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Happy Book Birthday, You Are Loved by Sujean Rim!

Happy Book Birthday! It's been a while, since I've been able to scream that out, and it feels good to celebrate a new release today. 

This read screams simple wonderfulness...but then, I do enjoy a positive read with no hidden agendas or messages outside of simple goodness, sometimes. I'm hoping that's what this one is. Plus, those bunny ears are so adorable! (My youngest daughter always loved to wear little animal accessories all the way up into elementary school). I also love the play of colors against black and white on the cover, since it makes those flowers pop that much more.

Anyway, let's dive in and see if this book is worth celebrating.

by Sujean Rim
Caitlyn Dloughy Books
Picture Book
40 pages
ages 3 to 5

GOODREADS    /     AMAZON     /    B&N

A young child learns all the ways they are loved by nature and, most of all, by the person reading to them in this gentle and lyrical picture book reminiscent of Love from the Crayons and Alison McGee’s Someday .

You are loved…by the grass...
As it softens your path...
You are loved…by the wind...
How it plays with your hair.

A little tyke wanders through a welcoming world of sun, grass, and flowers, dancing to bird chirps, spying new friends in the clouds, and waving to waves. After hello-ing stars and giving a hello-there to the moon, the explorer finally returns to someone who loves them as deeply as all the world.

Simple but potent, this read invites to warmth, snuggles, and embraces the positive wonder of love and life.

A child heads outside, ready to experience whatever comes its way and finds joy in every moment. It's the little things, which make the difference in this read and demonstrate how amazing these things can be. From the grass under the feet to the clouds in the sky, the child simply enjoys the moments. 

The text flows along in calming rhyme, adding to the warm atmosphere. The first phrase of each verse is printed large and flowy on one side of the page, using repetition to draw in the comfort of familiarity and giving something for listeners to 'read along with' if desired. The second phrase adds a bit of action and emotion, but this is where the illustrations take the lead with their simple and inviting style. The child is kept in basic outlines with general details, allowing listeners to easily identify with it. (And the bunny ears is such a nice touch!) The scenes, however, are colorful and dreamily artistic. These only take up an area of the white page, keeping attention centered on the colorful scene. These hold familiar moments almost every listener can identify with and solidify the positive theme.

Everything fits very well to the intended age group and makes a nice read-aloud for a calmer, group setting or for a one-to-one bedtime/snuggle moment. It offers a very supportive and uplifting message of love and leaves a off with a sense of security and warmth. Simply said, it's a lovely, feel-good read.

And here she is...

Sujean Rim is the author and illustrator of Take a BreathTake a ChanceBirdie’s Big-Girl ShoesBirdie’s Big-Girl DressBirdie’s Big-Girl HairZoogie Boogie Fever!Chee-Kee: A Panda in Bearland, and more. She has illustrated for clients including Tiffany & Co., Target, and the website DailyCandy. Sujean lives in New York with her favorite artist and husband Bob, and their son, Charlie. Find her online at

Monday, May 6, 2024

The City Beyond the Stars by Zohra Nabi

Today's read is the 2nd in a duology, and I did read the first one (yay!). I remember enjoying the very rich world building and lovely flow of magic in verse...not the entire novel. Just the spells, and these were a nice touch. Since there was still quite a bit to be cleared up at the end of that book, I am looking forward to seeing what happens next. I'm expecting more world-building richness, wonderful relationships, and a heroine with tons of determination.

So, let's see if this second book spins its spell as well as the first book did.

by Zohra Nabi
Illustrated by Fredrica Frenna
Margaret K. McElderry Books
Middle Grade Fantasy
320 pages
ages 8 to 12

MAY 14th!!!

The captivating sequel to “perfect for fans of Philip Pullman and Tahereh Mafi” ( Booklist ) The Kingdom Over the Sea follows Yara and her friends as they change the fate of the kingdom and their magic forever.

Yara may have stopped the magical plague spreading its way through her new home, but to do so, she had to leave her mother in the hands of the sinister alchemists.

Now Yara longs to return to Zehaira and free her mother from her prison. Yet when her mother’s familiar arrives, close to death and bearing a message, Yara must put aside her plans to rescue her and instead set off with her friends to the official residence of the Grand High Sorceress, convinced it holds magic powerful enough to defeat the alchemists.

After a treacherous journey, Yara finds her mother’s house, and in it, a girl claiming to be the daughter of the Grand High Sorceress—a sister Yara didn’t know she had. Meanwhile, the alchemists are circling ever closer, and the magic that Yara’s mother was working threatens the foundations of their world.

Yara is unsure if her newfound sister can be trusted, but she is going to need all the help she can get if she wants to save their mother and take back Zehaira from the alchemists’ rule.



Magic and adventure hit with every page, while friendship, family, and determination create drive and heart.

Yara wants to put an end to the problems, which are killing magic, and free her mother from prison, especially since nobody else seems to be doing much about it. After an argument with her friend, she stumbles across the injured familiar of her mother. It carries a message from her mother, telling her to return home. Clutching to the hope that she'll find a powerful magic to defeat the Grand High Sorceress, she sets off with her friends on a dangerous journey. What she discovers isn't only very unexpected, but threatens magic as they know it.

This takes off where book one left. So, it is important to read this one as a series, and that best with one shortly after the other.

From the very first page, the troubles facing the magical world and Yara take off. The first scenes unveil Yara's concerns and frustrations, and display the dire need she and the others around her are facing as the magic slowly dims. Her personality hits like a whirlwind, especially when unfolding with her friend, Leyla. The relationship between the two is something to enjoy in these pages, but then, many of the characters bring personality and heart. 

There is quite a bit going on. Not only do several plot threads continue from book one, but new ones layer in, too. It keeps the story moving along and something happening on every page, and yet, it wasn't quite as smooth as book one. Still, it is an enjoyable, rich read. Yara's facing quite a bit more and has several new things to learn. Her sister brings an unexpected and tale-changing twist, which slides into another unexpected direction toward the end. All of this seemed as if a book three were underway, but the entire tale rounds off at the end in a quick way. 

There is quite a bit of richness in the story, not only in the magical setting with clashing sides and intrigue, but family and friends bring warmth, rough moments, and heart. The lyrical magic continues to spin with enjoyable flair, and even takes on a slightly different direction than book two. Then, there's the growth of Yara, who is a character to root for from beginning to end, and has her own issues to overcome underway.

Fantasy friends, who enjoy adventure, tons of magic, and slightly darkish intrigue, will enjoy this duology, and I'm looking forward to see what the author produces next.

And here they are...

Zohra Nabi grew up inventing stories for her two younger sisters. She studied law at Cambridge and Oxford universities, but secretly dreamed of being an author. Now she lives in London, browsing bookshops and writing magical adventures. She’s the author of The Kingdom Over the Sea series. 

A little something more...

I adore book trailers and ran across the one to the first book in this series. So, I though I'd share that, too.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Cloud Puppy by Kelly Leigh Miller

The pastel burst of joy on hyper-drive is what caught my attention on this one. And the idea of a cloud puppy. What in the world is a cloud puppy? I see this read as either being good or terrible, and can't wait to see what direction it goes. 

by Kelly Leigh Miller
Atheneum Books
Chapter Book  /   Graphic Novel
160 pages
ages 6 to 9 

MAY 28th!!!

Narwhal and Jelly meets The Amazing World of Gumball in this first book in a delightful graphic novel chapter book series about Cloud Puppy—part puppy, part cloud, and all adorable—and her forays into friendship, adventure, and all things geeky!

Meet Cloud Puppy! Her hobbies include making rainbows, super sniffing, and, of course, reading the Pretty Princess Warrior Dragonetta series with her best friend, Berry Rose. After Cloud Puppy finds out that her favorite author will be a guest at the local comic book convention, she and Berry Rose decide to attend in homemade costumes.

But when they both insist on dressing up as the same character, Cloud Puppy and Berry Rose have their first fight ever! Now, they’re going to the convention separately. Will these feuding friends be able to make amends?


Adorable characters wrapped up in a cloud of sweetness invite with friendship and fun in the most delightful ways.

Cloud Puppy is a huge Pretty Princess Warrior Dragonetta fan and can't believe that the author is going to be at a comic convention in town. Berry Rose is ready to go with her, and the two quickly create their costumes. But there's a misunderstanding and both are going to go as the princess warrior. There can't be two of the same character! Neither wants to give up on their costume idea, and the two refuse to speak to each other, but this might not be as great as either of them thinks.

Cloud Puppy is part cloud, part puppy, which might sound odd but makes her into a super cute character, especially since every ounce of her seems to be bursting with excitement and good vibes. Her best friend, Berry Rose, isn't much lower on the adorable-scale, and the two ensure a read bursting with happiness. This all-around-cheerfulness remains humming along in the background even when the two friends can't reach a compromise and refuse to speak to one another. It keeps the argument between the two from weighing down the tale, while allowing the message to come across loud and clear.

The text flows along nicely with the graphics, providing enough to keep the story going but allowing the illustrations to do their job as well. The vocabulary hits the intended reading level and does push the word skills to foster improvement. The chapter breaks are well placed to give the necessary pauses. The illustrations lean toward the light and colorful side, fitting to the atmosphere, and add the sweet, over-the-top emotional outbursts to keep the story fun and humorful.

It's a cute tale with messages to connect with and characters to enjoy. It will be fun to see where the adventures head next.

And here she is...

Kelly Leigh Miller is an illustrator and author who loves everything cute and whimsical. She is the author of I Love My Fangs!I Love My Fur!I Love My Magic!, and many more books. Visit her online at