Friday, July 29, 2016

Ocean animals from head to tail

by Stacey Roderick
illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya
age range: up to 7 years old
Kids Can Press

Each of the eight ocean animals portrayed in this book are presented first just showing an interesting part of its body, and the reader is asked to say which animal is it. Only then the whole animal is introduced, and information about it, specially the purpose of its body part, is given. That's how you get to know the hammerhead shark, colossal squid, blue whale, eel, sailfish, sea turtle, sea anemone and seahorse, from head to tail.
The text is very accessible, and the facts interesting. The reader learns how all those "weird" looking eyes, tails, tentacles, etc., are of great use for hiding, swimming, hunting, or scaring predators. The collage like illustrations are very appropriate for the age range.
Very interesting non fiction picture book which includes animals, science and art.
There is a previous book in the series, Dinosaurs from head to tail, that I plan to read soon, and I really hope to see more books in this series in the future.

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

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Braxton Woods Mystique

by Adam Furgang
age range: middle graders
Howling Wolf

Leo and his mom has just moved to their new house, after loosing their old one and everything else in a fire. This new house is one of five houses in an isolated cul de sac that were part of an unfinished development. Summer is just starting and Leo hopes to have some fun with his new neighbor friends Nora, and the twins Albert and Oliver. Maybe even explore the extensive woods behind their houses. What looks like a boring vacation turns out to be the most exciting summer ever when the gang finds sinkholes, fantastic creatures, and even a buried one hundred year old carnival.

This middle grade novel was an enjoyable read. The plot is consistent and intriguing. the characters are funny and I got engage to them quickly. Even Colin, a friend from Leo's old neighborhood who you only get to know through his texts adds to the cast. Creepy at some moments, the story has lots of action and a very satisfying ending.

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

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Puppy mind

by Andrew Jordan Nance
illustrated by Jim Durk
age range: up to 6 years old
Plum Blossom Books - Parallax Press

Sometimes our minds are like untrained puppies, who likes to explore, and if you are not careful, she will go through any open door she finds. Sometimes our minds like to wander to the past or the future, making hard to pay attention when we are being talked. And sometimes we get mad at our puppy minds, but it is better to be kind, take a few deep breaths, and try to focus again.

Many kids get really upset when they are not able to focus, and get distracted easily. This cute story is a good way to help them put the situation in words, and give some simple advice to start training a puppy mind.The illustrations are colorful and funny. I'm glad some topics related to mental health of little kids are starting to be addressed in picture books.

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

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Inside your Insides

A guide to the microbes that call you home.
by Claire Eamer
illustrated by Marie-Eve Tremblay
age range: 7 years old and up
Kids Can Press

Interesting and entertaining non-fiction picture book about the microbes that live in our body. With a text easy to understand, this books explains what are microbes and microbiomes, microbes that are good for us, and other that make us sick, antibiotics and antibacterial soaps, etc. The illustrations are funny, and there are also many jokes along the book microbe related. Very interesting option to explore science and our bodies.

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

Friday, July 15, 2016

Baby bear's not hibernating

by Lynn Plourde
illustrated by Teri Weidner
age range: up to 5 years old
Rowman and Littlefield Books

Baby Black Bear is planning to stay awake the who-o-o-o-o-le winter. To be prepared he asks his friends for smarts way to survive. How does owl stay awake all winter? What does moose eat when all the leaves are gone? How does hare keep himself warm? When the first snow comes Baby bear says goodbye to his parents and gets himself ready for the adventure. But the branch breaks when he tries to lie on it. And frozen twigs for dinner is not what he was expecting. He also is too big to fit in hare's burrow, nor he has the same thick fur for keeping him warm. Thankfully Papa bear is taking care of him from a safe distance.
Maybe taking a short nap before spring is not such a bad idea after all...

This is a cute bed time story. Any kid can relate with the fascinating idea of skipping sleep and staying awake the whole night, even it that means yawning endlessly. Baby bear is incredibly sweet. The beautiful illustrations make you want to touch the soft bear's fur, and to roll on the snow. At the end of the book there are a couple of pages with interesting facts about black bears to add some learning to the experience. We really enjoyed this book!

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

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Click here to start

by Denise Markell
Age range: 8 to 12 years old
Delacorte Books

Ted is a twelve years old boy who loves to play escape-the-room games in his computer. And he is really good at them. When his great uncle dies leaving a treasure for him to find, Ted will need all his skills to solve this real life challenge.

This book was such an enjoyable reading! It has lots of action, a trio of adorable friends, mysterious characters, treasure hunting, computer games, and literary quotes. It also approaches the topic of American soldiers of Japanese ancestry who fought during WWII in the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Infantry Regiment, as well as the internment of Japanese American in camps during that period. The plot is dynamic and consistent. The writing is very engaging, and I found myself widely smiling in many occasions. It also made me want to read some classic literary works mentioned in it, to learn more about this specific historic events, and, why no, try some escape-the-room computer games. (No. I have never played them).

The cover art by Octavi Navarro is wonderful, and I also liked the pages layout, which mirrors a computer game. If it looks so good in an e-book I guess the printed edition has to be just awesome.
There is a hint at the end of the book that suggest this might be the first one in a series. Am I right? I hope so!

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

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Lila and the crow

by Gabrielle Grimard
age range: 3 to 7 years old
Annick Press

Lila has recently moved to a new city and she is really looking forward to start school to meet new friends. But things don't go as she expected. The very first day the bully of her class teases her saying her hair and eyes are black as a crow. Lila starts using a hat, dark glasses, and even a high neck sweater to cover her body as much as possible. This don't stop the bullying, and Lila is terribly sad. One afternoon running home from school Lila trips and falls. A crow comes near her. She can then observe how beautiful its black feather are, so black they seems to have kind of a purple gloss. Lila also sees how soft and bright its eyes are. She follows the crow to where hundreds of crows are. The sight is magnificent. When they fly away thousands of black feathers "rain" from the trees. Lila stuffs her backpack with them. At home she uses them to make a crow costume for the Great Autumn Festival at school. When she enters her classroom in her beautiful, black dress, all the kids run to her, to admire her costume and touch the soft feathers. Lila feels happy to be a crow.

Gorgeous illustrations accompany this sweet story. Lila, like any other kid, is avid to fit, to be accepted by her peers. She had never thought there was something wrong with the color of her hair or eyes. What others say makes her feel ashamed of it, but hiding who she is doesn't make things better. She makes the journey of finding back her own beauty, and this makes her feel strong and confident again. Lila is beautiful, and she knows it.

Gabrielle Grimard has illustrated many other picture books, but as far as I know this is the first time she authors the text too. Very promising. I'm interested in take a look to her future works. And another great read from Annick Press.

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

Friday, July 8, 2016

I will always be happy to see you

by Ellen DeLange & Jenny Meilihove
age range: up to 4 or 5 years old
Clavis Books

It doesn't matter how much trouble the little doggy gets into, the girl is always happy to see him. Very cute story to let little kids know about their parents' unconditional love, while reading the dog's monkeyshines. Bright and beautiful pictures. An excellent bedtime story to go to sleep feeling loved.

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

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Monster Science

Could monsters survive (and thrive!) in the real world?
by Helaine Becker
illustrated by Phil McAndrew
age range: 8 and up
Kids Can Press

This book was fantastic! Each chapter is dedicated to a different well known monster: Frankenstein, Vampire, Bigfoot, Zombie, Werewolf and Sea Monster, and for each of them the science, and also historic and cultural backgrounds, are analyzed in order to try to figure out if their existence could be possible. 
As an example, in Frankenstein's chapter (which is also my favorite) the reader will find the story of when Mary Shelly wrote the first draft of the novel, the Enlightenment as the background, what is electricity and if it really can wake the dead, neurons, organ transplantation, genetic engineering, monsters as lonely creatures, mad scientists, body snatchers, and more.
Going through all the six chapters you will read about an incredibly amount of topics such as blood diseases, scientific revolution, metamorphosis, hypnosis, species classification, evolution, plagues,  hybrids, Sonar, Tsunamis, and an endless etc.

The text is accessible for the age range, and the book is thoroughly illustrated with funny pictures, not scary at all. Most of the kids are interested, or at least curious, about monsters, and Monster Science is a great option to stimulate their interest in science.

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

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Everywhere and all around

by Pimm van Hest
illustrated by Sassafras De Bruyn
Clavis Books

Yolanda's mom has died, and she misses her so much. Yolanda wants to know where her mom is, so she goes looking for her. When she sees her little bother talking to his stuffed bunny, she understands her mom is in the bunny. When she asks her father, he says for him Yolanda's mom is in many things around the house that remind him of her. For her Aunt Christina mom is in the stories we share about her. Grandpa finds mom in nature, specially in roses. Grandma sees mom in Yolanda. For Willa, mom's best friend, mom is in the wind. Mom is also in the stars which light the dark night, as Yolanda's teacher says. Yolanda understands that mom is everywhere.

Everywhere and all around is at the same time sad and full of hope and love. Yolanda makes the hard trip from sorrow because of her mom's death, to the comfort and confidence of knowing mom will still be there if she remembers and looks for her. The illustrations accompany perfectly the story, from dark and sad at the beginning, to colorful and illuminated at the end. Death is a hard topic to talk to a kid who has lost a beloved one, and I think this story faces it in a respectful and appropriate way. This is a 5 stars book for me.

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

Friday, July 1, 2016


by Sassafras de Bruyn
age range: 5 years old and up
Clavis Books

Cleo feels overwhelmed because all that is expected from her. She is also sad since she doesn't seem to fit among her peers. Is in these moments that she sails to explore and conquer her imagination, bringing with her only her cat Amadeus. She visits many places, and somewhere she meets a boy who becomes her friend. He is not an imaginary friend, but another dreamy kid who found Cleo in some magical land. They fight monsters and face storms. They tell stories to the sea animals and climb to the sky. And they keep company to each other when the magic trip comes to an end.

Cleo's story is touching, and  I am sure many kids will relate with her experiences. The illustrations are incredibly beautiful. The only thing that prevents me of giving this book 5 stars is the font, which I found hard to help kids to read. I am eager to check for more of this author's work.

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