Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Maggie McGillicuddy's eye for trouble

by Susan Hughes
illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
age range: 3 to 5 years old
Kids Can Press

Old Maggie McGillicuddy has an eye for trouble, and that's why she is always on alert for whatever might happen in the neighborhood. Is that cat actually a fierce tiger? And isn't really that tree's root a dangerous snake? But one Saturday Charlie, her new neighbor, is certainly running straight for trouble! Chasing his ball, Charlie didn't realize a car is coming up the street. Thankfully Maggie McGillicuddy has always an eye for trouble! She shouts to Charlie making him stop. From that moment Charlie and Mrs. Gullicuddy start spending time together, always having an eye for trouble: an elephant stampede,a  hungry crocodile, a UFO. After all, one never knows how much trouble might happen in this very street.

How not to like Mrs. McGillicuddy? She is very nosy, it's true, but she is also friendly and incredibly imaginative, and Charlie enjoys her company. I think it is a great idea to bring the kids attention to the fact that elderly people can be cool too.
Entertaining story that vividly dialogs with the reader. I find the illustrations absolutely catch the essence of the story. I kept wanting to know more Mrs. M and Charlie adventures.

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

Take a look at another beautiful story portraying the friendship between a young kid and his elderly neighbor: Harry and Walter

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The bear who couldn't sleep

by Caroline Nastro
illustrated by Vanya Nastanlieva
age range:
NorthSouth Books

It's winter and despite his mother and brothers sleep, Bear can't sleep. He watches the leaves fall, and the snow to cover everything, but he still can't sleep. He decides to look for someone to make him company, but all his neighbors are sleeping too. He walks, and walks until he arrives to the city that never sleeps, and that's is exactly what he needs! He visits museums and famous landscapes. He meets people and eats delicious food. He also gets sleepy... So he tries to sleep in a bus stop bench, in a corner at the museum and even in Central Park, but he can't. He comes back to snuggle with his mother and brothers to wait, eyes closed, for he spring to come.

Lovely illustrated bedtime story for those days when kids have lots of energy left and don't want to sleep. The book's pace slows down a little more each page, and at the end you fell like curl up among the bears to sleep. Another great addition to our bedtime collection.

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

Monday, June 27, 2016

Me and my cat

by Michael Dahl
age range: 2 to 5 years old
Capstone Young Readers

Having a pet is wonderful, and cats make awesome pets. However, it is important to know that cats and kids not always enjoy the same things. While lying in the sun together is fun for both of them, go into the pool isn't something a kitty usually enjoys.
The book explains in a very simple way the differences between the things kids and cats like to do, highlighting the importance to be considerate and respectful with your cat. With pretty illustrations, the book makes a great resource to build responsibility toward pets. It also counts with a companion book, Me and my dog, that I expect to read soon. 

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

Friday, June 24, 2016

I won a what?

by Audrey Vernick
illustrated by Robert Neubecker
Alfred A. Knopf

Mom and dad won't let him have a fluffy, shaggy or feathery pet, but they promised the boy he could keep anything him wins at the goldfish booth. That's why the boy is so excited when he finally holed the ball. He won the goldfish! But actually, he didn't win the goldfish, he won Nuncio, the whale. Now the boy has the hard job of persuade his parents about the advantages of having a whale.

Funny story with lovely illustrations. Great for a reading aloud time, to make voices and exaggerate expressions. 

You might want to read another story about how to handle a whale: The whale in my swimming pool

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The seventh wish

by Kate Messner
age range: 8 to 12 years old
Bloomsbury Children's Books

Charlie feels like she's always coming in last. From her Mom's new job to her sister's life at college, everything seems more important than Charlie. Then one day while ice fishing, Charlie makes a discovery that will change everything . . . in the form of a floppy fish offering to grant a wish in exchange for freedom. Charlie can't believe her luck but soon realizes that this fish has a very odd way of granting wishes as even her best intentions go awry. But when her family faces a challenge bigger than any they've ever experienced, Charlie wonders if some things might be too important to risk on a wish fish. 

The description above is taken from the blurb of the book, and to be honest it doesn't make justice to this marvelous book. I tried to write my own description, as usual, but there are so many things I want to say about this book that I felt overwhelmed, and decided to put this task aside, at least for now.

The seventh wish took me by surprise. I liked Charlie from the very beginning. She is sweet, smart, loves Irish dance, and deeply misses her sister who is a freshman in college. She is doing ice fishing with her friend Drew and his grandma, to save money for a sparkling solo dress for her next Irish dance feis, when a green eyed fish grants her a wish in exchange for its freedom. This is the little pinch of fantasy in the book, and although the wish fish will do a few more appearances in the story, this book can't be labeled as a fantasy. It is pure realistic fiction.

The beginning of the book is light and amusing. Charlie has a beautiful family, and adorable friends. And funny things happen, such as although Charlie wishes for Roberto Sullivan to fall in love with her, Robert O'Sullivan is actually the one "affected". Or Charlie's friend Catherine taking care of a flour-bag-baby for a project, and forgetting it (actually her, she named the bag Meredith) everywhere. I remember thinking this was the kind of book that makes you want to be a kid again. But at some point Charlie's family discovers Abby, her older sister, has an addiction to heroin, and their world totally changes. She can't understand how her smart sister, always academically outstanding, skillful at sports, and socially successful is now in this situation. The story goes on as Abby is put under a drug addict program, but after a short time "clean" she relapses, and this time suffering an overdose.

Messner chose on a tough topic, and developed it in the best way possible. The explanation of what is happening is age appropriate and respectful. The way the family including Abby, but specially Charlie, suffers because of this addiction is displayed without lies, but full of hope too.

All this things Charlie has to go through makes her grow in some way, but at the same time she is a girl who would like to just make things right again by wishing it to a green eyed fish. I would give ten stars to this book if it were possible.

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Lucy & company

by Marianne Dubuc
age range: 2 to 5 years old
Kids Can Press

Lucy & Company is a very cute picture book for little kids. It consists of three very short stories about Lucy and her friends' adventures, such as going on a treasure hunt, surprising a friend with a birthday party, watching chicks hatch, and sharing a snack among friends. The stories are simple and uncomplicated in their plot, and give kind of comfort in their resolution, making them ideal for the age range. As in all Dubuc's works, the art is beautiful and the best part or the book.

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

Another Marianne Dubuc's picture book we read: Mr. Postmouse's Rounds

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Madeline Finn and the library dog

text and illustrations by Lisa Papp
age range: 3 years old and up
Peachtree Publishers

Madeline Finn doesn't like to read. And reading aloud is even worse. She just hates it. Many times she can't figure out the words in the page, or they just get stuck in her mouth when she tries to say them. Madeline would like to earn a star at school for being a star-reader, but she only gets keep-on-trying stickers, plus some giggles from her classmates when she makes a mistake.
One day when she visits the library she is offered to read a book to Bonnie, a big, white, flurry dog. Bonnie is a great listener. She doesn't giggle, she is patient when Madeline Finn's words come out all wrong, and she doesn't mind about slow reading. After many Saturdays reading to Bonnie, Madeline Finn is ready to try at school. It's difficult at the beginning, but she takes a deep breath and just pretends to be reading to Bonnie.

Beautiful, beautiful, book about being patient and keep on trying when we fail in doing something. Madeline's dislike for reading is nothing more than her anger for not being able to do it right. She is being too hard on herself, and that only make things more difficult. But Madeline learns from Bonnie to be patient and forgiving. The illustrations are marvelous. There is something so calm and vivid at the same time in them. Highly recommended.

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

Monday, June 20, 2016


by Tracy Edward Wymer
age range: 8 to 12 years old
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Eddie inherited his dad's passion for birds, and he also learned from him all there is to know about that feathered creatures. His dad was so lucky he once got to see the Golden Eagle, although the location and the time of the year were very unlikely for the eagle to appear. That's why nobody but Eddie ever believed him. Dad never gave up trying to see such magnificent bird again, and that's why now that he has "flew away", it's up to Eddie to see it again. Eddie is planning to win the blue ribbon in the Science Symposium doing a project about the Golden Eagle, and this despite the fact Mouton, the school bully, is his partner in the project, and Mr. Dover, his Science teacher, was Dad's birding rival.

There are many interesting things is the story I would like to mention: the hard time Lisa, Eddie's mom, is having to keep things going as normal as possible after become a widower; the changes happening in Eddie because of his age, how at some moments he is a defiant teenager with a crush on a girl new in town, while in others he is still a boy wearing a ninja costume; Gabriella's efforts for making this new place her home; Mouton's struggles, and the amazing things he is able to do but hides from everyone, showing himself only as a bully; how we get to know Dad through the rest of the character's voices; how even we as readers doubt about the Golden Eagle's existence, but Eddie never doubts. He is a sweet character feeling lonely after his dad passed away, and trying to keep him close waiting for the Golden Eagle to appear again.The text is engaging, funny, and a little emotional at some points. Besides a great story, I can envision this book awaking kids' interest in knowing more about birds, what is a great plus. I'm glad I crossed paths with this author.

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The toad

by Elise Gravel
age range: 4 to 6 years old
Tundra Books

The toad is part of the Disgusting critters Series. It is a non-fiction picture book about all you want to know about toads: how are they related to frogs, where they live and what they eat, the different kind of toads that exist, what are those bumps in their skin, tadpoles, and more. It also brings to the reader attention the fact that toads are useful for we human since they eat pests, and the fact that pollution is putting their existence at risk. 

This is the first book in the series we have read, and we really enjoyed it. It is not easy to find non-fiction picture books addressed to this age range, which are not boring or too difficult. In this case the text is accessible, with clear and concise facts shown in a funny way. The illustrations are a great accompaniment without distracting the attention from the text.

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

Monday, June 13, 2016

Counting with barefoot critters

text and illustrations by Teagan White
age range: 3 to 6 years old
Tundra books

Some activities, like a quiet reading, is perfect for one barefoot critter. Cooking pancakes is great for a pair. But a race is better with five, and nine is the best number to play in the fort. And what about when crossing the dark spooky forest? Better if the whole dozen of them is there, so there is nothing to be scared of!

Counting with barefoot critters is a counting book in beautiful rhymed prose and full of cute illustrations. At the beginning for the book there is a amazing map to follow the critters adventures. It is a great option for a read aloud time. I'm interested in read a previous book in this series, Adventures with barefoot critters, which plays with the letters and seasons.

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

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Poo Poo Fairy

by Mary Harper Dick
illustrated by Joseph Cowman
age range: 2 to 5 years old

This is the story of how Paulina became a poo poo fairy after failing in other fairy fields such as take care of lost teeth, or help kids to fall sleep on Christmas Eve, or the challenging Godmothering. When Paulina meets a boy struggling with the use of the toilet, she discovers her skill for making things go smoothly with potty training.

The story is funny, and Paulina is a gorgeous character. I'm not sure it's accurate to call this book a "resource" to potty training, since Paulina's methods are never reveled during the story to the kids. I guess it would help to low the kid's stress to know a fairy is overseeing him/her to make sure everything goes fine, like many other fairies are used. There is a letter to the parents at the beginning of the books with ideas, suggestions, etc. to survive that stressing moment. That said, it is a amusing book, with incredible good illustrations, and it might be used as a trigger to introduce potty training to beginners. I got the box set which comes with a beautiful stuffed Paulina doll to accompany while waiting for "something to happen".

Visit Paulina:

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

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What would it be like?

by McArthur Krishna
illustrated by Ayeshe Sadr & Ishaan Dasgupta
age range: 6 to 10 years old
Amberjack Publishing

An adventurous, creative and determined girl once wondered "What would it be like... to be a cowgirl? What about an astronaut? A  Physicist? Or a spy?" So she went to the library to find out, and there she learned about adventurous, creative and determined women like Sarah Day O'Connor, Mae Carol Jemison, Marie Curie, and Virginia Hall.

More than ten women are portrayed in the book, accompanied by wonderful illustrations in bright colors. At the end of the book there is a very short biography for each one, to learn more about who they were and what they did. I liked the fact that "moms" where included in the list of great things women can chose to do, since it is an bold occupation too. Girls are also encouraged to be themselves, and make faithful choices everyday.
I don't think this is a book only for girls. I'm sure it would be also positive for boys to know about the wonderful things these women did, and women in general can do. I think not only girls have to be encouraged to accomplish their dreams, but boys should be taught that expecting women being capable of doing great things is something as natural as expecting the same from men.

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

Similar title you might be interested in: Seven brave women

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

High in the Sky

by Kathleen Gauer
illustrated by Sari Richter
age range: 5 to 8 years old

Some times the world seems too small for this boy... He then hops on his tire swing, and dreams of different places. After a few swings he is in a jungle in Africa, or in a rocket ship. Or maybe skating on ice, or riding a surf board, or even in a roller coaster. Everything is possible.

High in the Sky is a celebration of dreams written in verse. The text flows smoothly, and contains a good amount of vocabulary, but it is easy to understand at the same time. The illustrations are pretty, in watercolor which adds to the "dreamy" atmosphere of the book. Beautiful option for reading aloud. 

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

Monday, June 6, 2016

Thorfinn and the Gruesome Games

Thorfinn the nicest viking Series
by Davidd MacPhail
illustrated by Richard Morgan
age range: 8 to 12 years old
Floris Books

Thornfinn is a viking in the viking village of Indgar. Although he is the chief's son, everybody thinks there is something wrong with Thorfinn. He is nice, polite, and well mannered. He have earned himself the name of "Thorfinn the Very-very-nice-indeed". His behavior is absolutely unacceptable for a viking.
When the time for the International Gruesome Games comes, and all the competitors from Indgar happen to be incapable for the competition, it is up to Thorfinn to win and bring Sword-Blunter, the ceremonial shield, back to the village. The shield is meant to be with Whirlwind, the ceremonial sword, which was lost in previous games  to Magnus, chief of a neighboring village.  But would be Thorfinn able to fight all these ruthless barbarians?

Thorfinn and the Gruesome Game is an amusing middle grade novel about how being nice and amicable is always a win. The characters are enjoyable. Velda, the energetic girl who wants to help bring Thorfinn's inner fury out, is just unforgettable. The illustrations are funny, and a great complement to the story. I see great potential in this series. 

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