Monday, February 29, 2016

Princesses don't wear glasses

by Jacqueline Waterhouse
illustrations by Gabi Carr
age range: 4 to 7 years old
Waterhouse Books

Eight years old Charlie-Marie has to wear glasses, but she doesn't want to. She understands she will see better with her glasses, and that her eyes would only get worse if she doesn't use them, but she can't stop thinking nobody at school wears glasses. And even worst, princesses don't wear glasses!
Then Charlie-Marie is visited by Jamey, a little fairy from the Land of Beauty, and a fantastic trip begins. Jamey leads Charlie-Marie to the Land of Beauty so she can discover Princesses do wear glasses. She specially asks Charlie-Marie to wear her glasses during their trip, so she doesn't miss any of all the incredible things out there. At the end of this adventure, Charlie-Marie meets Princess Spectacle, the most beautiful princess, with the most beautiful sparkling dress, wearing the most beautiful pair of glasses.

This story won't work for every girl, since it is addressed to girls who are interested in princesses. But if the girl you are thinking in reading this loves princesses and would like to be like one, then she probably would feel bad about having to wear glasses, because it's true, princesses in movies don't wear glasses. I think Charlie-Marie's fantastic adventure would be helpful to ease the experience of starting wearing glasses.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

ETA: a new book in the series, this time addressed to superheroes' fans, it's being published soon: Superheroes don't wear glasses

Friday, February 26, 2016

Harry and Walter

by Kathy Stinson
illustrated by Qin Leng
Age range: 2 to 5 years old

This sweet book tells the story of Harry, four and three-quarters years old, and Walter, ninety-two and a half, who are neighbors and best friends despite the difference in their ages. They enjoy being together, playing, mowing the lawn, taking care of Walter's vegetable garden, raking leaves, making snowmen. But one day Harry has to move away from the neighborhood. Harry cried. "Things change", Walter explained. 
Harry felt so bored and lonely in the new house... But a surprise was waiting for him. Walter moves to the apartment building up the street. They are still the best of the friends. Some things don't change after all...

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The last great adventure of the PB & J society.

The Last Great Adventure of the PB & J Society - Janet Sumner Johnson
by Janet Sumner Johnson
age range: middle grade

Annie and Jason are best friends:

"He and I had been best friends, since birth (well, at least his birth - those two hours in the hospital nursery before Jason arrived were the loneliest two hours of my life)".

They are spies:

"For a lesser spy, the pressure might have been too much, but Jason and I had been working on our technique for three years now. Ever since he got that spy kit for his seventh birthday".

And they are the only two members of the PB & J Society, which serves the important mission of burying smashed PB & J sandwiches in a solemn ceremony:

"We are saddened by the loss of our favorite food and think on happier times before it was smushed and became gross. We are grateful for the many times it saved us from the evils of broccoli casserole and bid it farewell on its new journey to feed the worms. May it rest in peace".

But one day they found out Jason's family needs to sell their house and move to California due to foreclosure. Annie would do anything to keep her friend from moving away: sell her appendix on eBay, win the lottery, sell cookies, ask the bank for more time, beg in a street corner, get a job, and even find a pirate treasure!

I just loved this book. The characters are absolutely lovely, and the plot is funny at the same time it touches some hard topics. A beautiful story about friendship, persistence and the changes that are always waiting for us.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A tattle-tell tale. A story about getting help.

A Tattle-Tell Tale: A story about getting help (I'm a Great Little Kid) - Kathryn Cole, Qin Leng
by Kathryn Cole
illustrated by Qin Leng
Age range: 6 to 10 years old.

Joseph had a terrible week at school. A seven grader has been bulling him every day at lunch time. He took Joseph's brownie on Monday, and his sandwich and cookies on Tuesday. He found Joseph hiding in the boy's restroom on Wednesday and took his lunch again. On Thursday Joseph ate his lunch in the schoolyard. He even tried to explain his problem to the yard-duty teacher, but it didn't work. She was too busy solving other problems there. His friends would like to help Joseph, but they are scared too.
Now he is standing at the principal's office door. He knows he must do something to stop being bullied, and Mr. Tate has told the students many times that they could come to him anytime. He finally knocks at the door and tells Mr. Tate the whole story. He is afraid of being in more trouble since he tattled, but Mr. Tate explains to him the difference between tattle and tell, and helps him to fix the situation.

Once again a difficult topic has an excellent approach in this series. The situation is clearly explained, specially how Joseph feels and how difficult could seem to ask for help, but how everything starts moving in the right direction once he shares his problems with someone who can help him. At the end of the book there's a guide for grown ups with tips on how to help kids feeling comfortable asking for help.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 22, 2016

This book just ate my dog!

This Book Just Ate My Dog! - Richard Byrne
by Richard Byrne
Age range: up to 5 o 6 years old.

Bella was walking her dog across the pages of this book when suddenly the dog disappeared through the gutter where the pages join together. The book just ate Bella's dog! And it also ate Ben when he tried to help, and the dog rescue van, and the police car, and the fire truck. Also Bella was swallowed when she went check by herself what was going on.
Then, a note to the reader appears. In the note Bella asks the reader to turn the book around and shake it. And with a lot of shaking and some wiggle, everyone and everything appears again. Some evident sequela might be linked to the episode, though...

We had a great time reading this book (many times) last week. It's funny, interactive, and colorfully illustrated. A complete success. I'm really interested in try more Richard Byrne's books soon.
Warning: some times you can be just swallowed by a book!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The sandwich thief

The Sandwich Thief - André Marois, Patrick Doyon
by André Marois
illustrated by Patrick Doyon
Age range: middle grade

Funny story about Marin, a friendly boy who is decided to find the thief who has stolen his favorites sandwiches form his lunch box in the last few days. Everybody is a suspect: classmates, teachers, janitor, even the principal! A relatable character in a amusing story any middle grader would enjoy.
The illustrations are very creative and cartoon-like, in black, white, yellow and orange only.
Marin's mom sandwiches made me very hungry!

I received an uncorrected copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Kittysaurus Rex

KITTYSAURUS REX - Book One of the Kittysaurus Series - Judge Kludge
by Judge Kludge
Age range: middle grade.

Is there a greater dream for an aspiring paleontologist than find a new dinosaur?
Clara and Seke discover the fossils of an unknown dinosaur they called Kittisaurus Rex. But of course, nobody believes them, they are only 10 years old after all. The last chance they have to prove their theory is right seems to be to travel 145 millions of years ago and take a picture of Kittisaurus. But of course, dinosaurs' bones are safer than real, giant, fierce, alive ones!

Kittysaurus Rex is a funny story that counts with lots of action. Clara and Seke will have to not only face a real dinosaur, but also endure public disbelief, escape from an unscrupulous trillionaire, deal with ghosts, fight angry dogs, overcome a unconscionable brother, drive a travel machine/merry-go-round, and more.

The characters are adorable. You'll find names like Mr. Vulture, Dr. Hyberbole, Dr. Onomatopoeia, Mrs. Techty, and have an idea what to expect from them.

The end left me wanting to read more of this series. I'm glad to know Tri-pizza-tops, the second book in the series, is on its way!

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The uh-oh feeling. A story about touch.

That Uh-Oh Feeling: A story about touch (I'm a Great Little Kid) - Kathryn Cole, Qin Leng
by Kathryn Cole
illustrated by Qin Leng
Age range: 6 to 10 years old.

The way coach Ian behaves towards Claire makes her feel uneasy. She can't point exactly why, but he triggers that "uh-oh" feeling in her. He touches and tickles her. He says she is the star of the team, but Claire knows she is really bad at soccer. He calls her "pretty", but what does "pretty" have to do with playing soccer? He even blames Claire for all this physical contact, since she looks so sad that he has to tickle her. The worst thing is he asks Claire to keep all this situation between them as a secret. Claire knows that secrets about touching are wrong, but what to do?
Claire is not sure about talking to an adult. What if coach Ian is just being nice? She decides to talk to her friends first, and encouraged by their support she talks to her older sister, who persuades Claire to speak to her mom.

I find the approach of the story to this delicate subject just excellent. The emphasis in listening to your feelings, to that weird sensation that it's like a fire alarm and it's trying to tell us something's not right.
I liked that coach Ian actually looks like a nice guy (in the text and in the illustrations), because that's how abusers usually look like. That probably makes harder to suspect of them, but it shouldn't.
There's a message in this story not only to victims and potential victims, but to friends, schoolmates and siblings who might be asked for help.
A decided 5 stars!

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Another great tittles in this series: The uh-oh feeling. A story about touch and A tattle-tell tale. A story about getting help.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


Animachines - Deborah Pearson
by Deborah Pearson
illustrated by Nora Hilb
Age range: up to 3 years old

Beautiful and sweet book which combines animals and machines. Whales and submarines dive. Eagles and planes fly. Animals can do the same amazing things that machines do. Even the super powers of some machines might be inspired in some animals' wondrous skills.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A baby's guide to surviving dad.

A Baby's Guide to Surviving Dad (Baby Survival Guides) - Benjamin Bird, Tiago Americo
by Benjamin Bird
illustration by Tiago Americo
Age range: 2 to 5 years old

Some useful and absolutely necessary tips for a brand new baby with a brand new dad. If this baby expects to survive, he better begins training his dad in vital aspects like being feed, having baths, having diapers changed, and a well deserved sleep time!
The story is humorous and sweet, and the illustrations are amazingly colorful. There's a companion book, A baby's guide to surviving mom, that I expect to read soon.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Gargoyle in the Dump

The Gargoyle in the Dump (Kindle Single) - John Bellairs
by John Bellaris
Short story.
Age range: middle grade

I wasn't familiar with Mr. Bellaris's work, and I enjoyed this short story very much. It tells the story of three brothers, Michael, David and Fonsy, who one summer find an old gargoyle in a nearby dump. The gargoyle happens to be magic, and starts talking to them. The kids decide to bring it home, where a few adventures take place. The most interesting part is when the gargoyle dreams about the things it has seen, and the kids are able to see the images of when the gargoyle was ripped out from the St. Denis Basilica in Paris during the French Revolution, at the same time that the bodies of many monarchs were removed from the crypt too.
Only a few pages but totally enjoyable.

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

gargoyle1     gargoyle2

Basilica of Saint Denis gargoyles. Images source.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Labyrinth Society: the Versailles Vendetta

Labyrinth Society: The Versailles Vendetta - Angie Kelly
by Angie Kelly
Age range: middle grade

When Mia Cornell is sent to her new foster home at the Tarpley Estate, with Mrs. T. and her other three foster daughters: Tomi, Lily and Devon, she never guessed the adventures that were waiting for her. Before she could figure out what's going on in this house, where evidently everybody is keeping a big secret from her, she finds herself traveling through a labyrinth to the Versailles Palace in the hunt for a necklace which had belonged to Marie Antoniette. And this is only the beginning of a great adventure and, hopefully, a great series.

This is a fantastic story for middle grade kids, full of action, some historical info, and funny characters. Although the girls are supposed to be 12 years old, I couldn't stop thinking about them as 14 or 15 years old. But this didn't disturb the story at all. The book proved to be a page turner, and I'd be interested in know where the labyrinth takes those girls next time!

I received this book from the author via Pump up your Book in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A fine dessert

A Fine Dessert - Emily Jenkins
Four centuries,
four families,
one delicious treat
by Emily Jenkins
illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Age range: 4 to 8 years old

Along the story the same delicious dessert, Blackberry Fool, is prepared by four different families in four different historical moments. Starting in England more than three hundred years ago and ending in California in present times, the reader can see how things changed and developed. Not only the way the characters get the ingredients, the tools they used in the preparation and the types of refrigeration available at each moment are clearly shown, but also the familiar and social differences, as well as buildings, environment, clothes, furniture, etc. The only thing that remains unchanged is the delicious flavor of this old dessert. I bet you will want to lick the bowl too!

Historical fictions stories are not very common for this age range, so I'm really glad I found this book. The story is interesting, the text is easy to understand and engaging, the illustrations are fine and beautiful. A precious story to read and reread.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Otter in space

Otter in Space (I Am Otter) - Sam Garton, Sam Garton
by Sam Garton
Age range: 3 to 7 years old

Otter liked many thing he saw in this visit to the museum with Teddy and Otter Keeper, but the best of all of them was the Outer Space Room. All he can think about now is in having a moon rock to play with! The only solution seems to be going to the Moon and bring a rock. Time to get prepared! There are space suits to design, a spaceship to build, and some training to do. Finally Otter and Teddy are ready to go. They launch from the top to the slide, and they land on the backyard. The perfect moon rock is right there, waiting for being dug out and brought back to Earth. Otter Keeper is not really happy with the outcome, but Otter and Teddy are ready for more adventures at the Moon!

Otter is the most adorable character I have seen in a long time. I love all the (screen free) fun he has using only his imagination, his toys, and some "help" from his friends. It made me feel like making a spaceship with my kids this weekend. All I need now is an appropriate box and some delicious treats. Going to outer space needs a lot of extra energy.
I'm glad to know this book is part of a series, because I really want to join Otter in more adventures!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Being a captain is hard work

Being a Captain is Hard Work: A Captain No Beard Story - Carole P. Roman, Bonnie Lemaire
A Captain No Beard story
by Carole Roman
illustrated by Bonnie Lamaire

Captain No Beard's ship, the Flying Dragon, is headed to Dew Rite Volcano. Captain No Beard is so excited about this trip that he won't hear when his crew tells him about the dark clouds, or the rough waves, or the whipping winds. He even thinks Dew Rite Volcano is to the North instead of West. He is the captain, so he knows better about seas, and clouds, and winds, and ships, and crews!
Only when things get really bad, Captain No Beard understands why we have two ears and one mouth: so we listen twice as much as we speak!

A smart story about how we can learn from others, and how team work make things easier and better. Captain No Beard is an adorable character. The tale benefits from the illustrations, which are colorful and vivid. I'm really interested in read more in this series.

I received this book from the author via Bostick Communications in exchange for an honest review.