Posts Tagged ‘book review’

Write a Review Wednesday: Snappy Sounds Space

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed DK‘s The Most Brilliant Boldly Going Book of Exploration Ever. This week we’re going young again with Silver Dolphin Books’ Snappy Sounds Space (age 0-3), by Derik Matthews. I have to thank Crystal at Raincoast Books for my review copy.

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With a 3-year-old in the house, we have seen our fair share of sound books as well as pop-ups. Snappy Sounds is a series that combines both of these entertaining elements.

Snappy Sounds: Space follows Kitty and Mouse on a super adventure in their handmade rocket ship. They discover weightlessness in space, visit a strange new planet and even make some new friends. As you open each page, Kitty and Mouse jump out at you in fun and exciting ways, like when their rocket ships blasts off right out of the page. With each pop-up surprise, kids are also greeted with crazy space sound effects.

For a pop-up sound book the story is still quite entertaining, telling the tale of Kitty and Mouse’s journey. The pages are made of a thicker stock to hold the pop-up images. The images themselves are bright and colourful. Along with the story, kids will find a visual reference to key space terms on the side of the book, like helmet, gauge, crater.

My 3-year-old loves this book, especially because it has a Kitty. She loves opening and closing the pages to make it look as though the ship is blasting off or Kitty is floating in space. The sounds aren’t sound effects; you won’t hear a rocket or jetpack noise as you open the pages. The sounds are more silly space sounds, like computer instruments, but that didn’t stop my 3-year-old from going through the pages again and again (though after a while I had my fill of them). My daughter still loves to sit in her room and look at Snappy Sounds: Space on her own.

There are a number of different books in the Snappy Sounds series such as Snappy Sounds: Robots, Snappy Sounds: Moo, Snappy Sounds: Woof , Snappy Sounds: Surprise Party and even some holiday themed ones like Snappy Sounds: Boo and Snappy Sounds: Ho Ho Ho (I love holiday themed books).

You can add Snappy Sounds: Space to your library by visiting your local book seller or Raincoast Books. For other great book recommendations for kids, read through some of the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: The Secret Lives of Princesses

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Tundra BooksSo Close. This week we’re thinking about one of our favourite topics, Princesses, and had a chance to review Sterling Publishing‘s The Secret Lives of Princesses (age 7+), written by Philippe Lechermeier and illustrated by Rebecca Dautremer. I have to thank Derry at Sterling Publishing for my review copy.

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You’ve probably heard of Cinderella or the princess in The Princess and the Pea story, but what about Princess Oblivia or Princess Miss Hap? You may not know them by name but after reading The Secret Lives of Princesses you may recognize some of them.

The Secret Lives of Princesses explores the lives of the lesser known and sometimes funnier princesses. These stories aren’t your typical princess stories. Like Princess Miss Hap who leaps before she looks, knocking things over and always having accidents. Or Princess Anne Phibian who believes her prince is out there, disquised as a frog, and spends countless hours standing in a pond kissing every green creature she encounters.

My eight-year-old daughter and I enjoyed the witty and often tongue-in-cheek tales of these princesses. I sometimes had to explain things to my 5-year-old and 3-year-old; they were oblivious to the humour but enjoyed looking at the images just the same. And the images are wonderful, filling the pages with colourful representations of the princesses. Even my husband, who’s not a huge princess fan, loved the look of this book.

The Secret Lives of Princesses isn’t so much a story but a guide book to the different princesses. Along with information on the various princesses you’ll find pages on the types of pets princesses own, types of dwellings and more things that pertain to the princesses lives. And there are wonderful side notes, like on stones (did you know each princess posses at least 1 precious stone) or veils (princesses practice walking around the palace wearing them).

Like a reference book, there are notes to other related items found in the book. We would read about one princess and flip to a note on how princesses travel, then on to another princess. My kids loved flipping around the book discovering secrets and marvelling over the illustrations. There’s even a wonderful quizz at the back of the book to discover what type of princess you are: a tender princess, a mysterious princess, a whimsical princess or (gasp) a fake princess.

The book would entertain anyone interested in princesses but the true humour of the stories would probably be lost on the younger set; my 8-year-old  could see the wit in most of the stories.

For added fun, visit http://secretlivesofprincesses.com/ for princess games, a royal portrait gallery of the princesses, even find out your princess name. The Secret Lives of Princesses is by far one of my favourite books I’ve reviewed so far.

You can add a copy of The Secret Lives of Princesses to your own personal library by visiting your local bookstore or visit Sterling Publishing. For more great books for kids, take a look at the previous Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Topsy-Turvy Town

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Scholastic Canada‘s The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge. This week we ventured into the mind of a child in Tundra Books Topsy-Turvy Town (age 2-5) written and illustrated by Luc Melanson. I have to thank Sylvia at Tundra Books for my review copy.

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A young boy takes a trip through Topsy-Turvy town, where cars are made of chocolate, dogs play the tuba instead of barking and broccoli rains from the sky. His sister thinks he’s silly. His aunt thinks he’s making it up. His dad pretends to ignore it all. Nobody believes him; nobody but his mom.

Luc Melanson‘s Topsy-Turvy Town gives us a peek into the wonderful and creative imagination of a child through he delightful words and whimsical images filling the pages before you.

I’ll admit, the first time I read Topy-Turvy Town I didn’t fall in love with the book. But reading it again (and again) with my kids has given me a new appreciation and perspective. My 3-year-old and 5-year-old loved the little boy’s world. You could see in their faces that they too had stepped into that world while we were reading the story. Although this particular world isn’t like any they have imagined, they were quick to explain how Topsy-Turvy Town was similar to or different from their own imaginative worlds. Reading the story  got my two youngest excited about fantasy worlds and the ideas poured out. A book that extends my children’s interest beyond just the pages we’re reading is certainly worth adding to our collection.

You can add Topsy-Turvy Town to your own personal collection by visiting your independent bookstore or Tundra Books. If you’re looking for other great books for kids, take a read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed Sterling Publishing‘s EcoMazes. 12 Earth Adventures (age 7+ ) by Roxie Munro. Still in an Earth Day mindset we’re reviewing The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge (age ) written by Joanna Cole and illustrated by Bruce Degen. I have to thank Nikole at Scholastic Canada for my review copy.

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The kids at Walkerville Elementary School are studying global warming, but if you’re familiar with Mrs. Frizzle, you know she likes to give her class a unique hands-on perspective to what they’re learning. So starts the latest classroom learning experience in The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge.

The kids travel around the Earth to see the changes global warming is having on the planet: ice melting in the Arctic, sea levels rising, changes in weather conditions. They also observe first hand, by turning into rays from the sun, how heat-trapping gasses are causing the planet to warm itself. And special goggles enable them to see how much CO2 (a heat-trapping gas) is floating around and what’s causing so much of it.

But the book isn’t all about how bad things are. The kids also explore ways they can help cut down on CO2 emissions through alternative energy sources and simple things like waking, turning off lights and more.

My kids love The Magic School Bus series as do I. The premise of kids taking a fantastic field trip to learn and see first hand how things work fascinates even my youngest. The subject matter of Global Warming can be overwhelming to kids, but breaking out key facts in little digestible chucks makes it easier for kids to absorb, especially when they’re written like project notes from the kids in the story.

The pages in The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge cover a lot of material but you can choose what to read; the message isn’t lost if you just read the story content and only add in one or two of the side notes, depending on what is interesting to your kids, but I think you’ll find they’ll want to read it all.

We try to make environmental choices every day at  home, but Earth Day approaching has given us a chance to talk more about the topic. I love that The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge shows kids that they can affect change to: recycling, walking more, writing letters to local government. There are a lot of ways kids can help. I love how the author extends the story and adds realism to the kids by including an email question and answer at the end.

You can discover more about The Magic School Bus series and some online activities by visiting Scholastic Canada‘s website.

You can add The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge to your own library by visiting your local bookstore or Amazon.ca. Looking for other great kids books? Checkout the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

What will you be doing with your family on Earth Day?

Write a Review Wednesday: EcoMazes. 12 Earth Adventures

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed reviewed Key Porter BooksThe Mischievous Mom at the Art Gallery by Erica Ehm and Rebecca Eckler. This week we’re reviewing Sterling Publishing‘s EcoMazes. 12 Earth Adventures (age 7+ ) by Roxie Munro, a fitting read with Earth Day’s arrival later this month. I have to thank Derry at Sterling Publishing for my review copy.

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Earth Day is April 22, a perfect time to talk about the Earth and the environment around us. In EcoMazes: 12 Earth Activities, Roxie gives children a chance to explore the different ecosystems on our planet, in the form of 12 interactive mazes. Kids are asked to help divers swim through the coral reef to get to the beach or help a beaver find his way through the Coniferous forest to his dam. Kids trace a path with the finger through the detailed illustrated mazes.

Beyond the mazes themselves, kids are asked to locate a variety of animals in each ecosystem. At the end of the book you’ll find answers to the maze and animal locations, in case you get stuck, as well as a little more information on each ecosystem.

Although the book is listed for kids 7+, all 3 of mine loved this book (age 3,5,7). Each one choose an ecomaze to solve and they all took turns finding the animals. It was great working as a team since not one person could find all the animals on their own; I even discovered some animals unfamiliar to myself.

Along with the research she did at home, Roxie Munro also had the opportunity to visit each of the ecosystems she included in her book. You can read more about her experience with her travel writer husband as well as see some fantastic photos.

You can add a copy of EcoMazes:12 Earth Adventures to your personal collection by visiting your independent book seller or Amazon.ca. Or you can ENTER TO WIN your own copy of EcoMazes by leaving a comment below. Contest is open to both Canadian and US residents but leave your comment before April 14, 2010. After that date I will randomly choose a winners name.

If you’re looking for other great books for kids, take a read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Spring, Earth Day, and Gardening: Guest Post on NTFFC

Spring officially arrived at the end of March and now the weather is catching up too. This means we’ll be spending more time outside, getting the yard and garden ready for Earth Day and the summer. My April guest post on Allie’s fantastic site, No Time for Flashcards is about plants and gardens. So if you’re looking for some books to get your kids excited about the gardening season and developing an appreciation for plants, be sure to jump over. And if you have a garden or plant book you enjoy reading, please add it in the comments so others can enjoy it too.

You can find my book reviews every first Saturday of the month over on No Time for Flash Cards. I hope you’ll pop by and check out some great books to share with your kids.

Write a Review Wednesday: The Mischievous Mom at the Art Gallery

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed In My Meadow and In My Flower from Chronicle Books. This week, as a follow-up to last Thursday’s book launch party, we’re reviewing Key Porter Books’ The Mischievous Mom at the Art Gallery by Erica Ehm and Rebecca Eckler. I have to thank Kelly at Key Porter Books (and of course Erica) for my review copy.

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Mom is invited to a fancy party at the Art Gallery and decides to take as her special guests, her two children Josh and Jessie. Surrounded by paintings that looked like scribbles and sculptures that looked like donuts, the kids quickly become bored. ‘We could do this in our sleep,’ Josh whispers to his sister Jessie.

Then across the room they notice a door with the sign: ‘Do Not Enter: V.I.P Only’

That’s when the fun begins. But it’s not Josh and Jessie who instigate the mischievous behaviour, but rather their mother. Before they can stop her, she’s across the room and through the V.I.P. door. The two kids follow their mom. In the room they are surrounded by colourful paints and crayons, beads and feathers. Josh and Jessie know what their mom is thinking and try to stop her. I mean, they’re just regular people and shouldn’t even be in the special V.I.P. room; they don’t belong.

‘Of course we’re V.I.P.s! You’re the most Very Important People in my life. Plus, it’s an adventure!’ was their mom’s response. Then she proceeded to cover a large piece of paper with colour paint. Encouraged by their mom’s enthusiasm and fun, Josh and Jessie join in.

I think as adults we become so grounded in following the rules and patterns that we forget to be mischievous. And kids learn from us. If we’re constantly telling our kids to not take chances and try new things, their inherent mischievous and free-spirited behaviour will disappear. Having the roles reversed in The Mischievous Mom at the Art Gallery allow us to laugh at our behaviour. Having mom, an authority figure questioning authority shows kids that it’s okay. Plus I think kids just love seeing adults do things that aren’t very adult.

Now this book isn’t advocating that you shouldn’t follow rules but rather that some ‘rules’ can be broken or bent. It also shows that you shouldn’t assume you can’t do something and taking chances can sometimes lead to great rewards. After reading The Mischievous Mom at the Art Gallery to my own three kids, we talked about taking chances, bending rules and not making assumptions. Although this book is aimed at kids, I think parents will benefit from the free-spirited message too. We’re our kids’ best example. If you want your kids to take chances and not be afraid, you have to do that too. It’s hard, but I’m trying.

You can add a copy of The Mischievous Mom at the Art Gallery to your personal collection by visiting  your local bookstore or visit Key Porter Books for more information. For other great kid book recommendation visit the past Write a Review Wednesday post.

Write a Review Wednesday: Boo Hoo Bird

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed a new program launched by Sterling Publishing called Listen-Along Storybooks. I’m still running a giveaway on eight of the Listen-Along books. This week we’re looking at Jeremy Tankard‘s Boo Hoo Bird (3-5 ) from Scholastic Press. I have to thank Nikole at Scholastic Canada for my review copy.

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Bird is playing ball with Raccoon. Everything is fine, until Bird gets bonked on the head and starts to cry. Raccoon tries unsuccessfully to make Bird feel better. When that doesn’t work Rabbit, Beaver, Sheep and Fox all make attempts to stop Bird from crying. But nothing seems to work, which makes all of Bird’s friends upset. Seeing his friends upset makes Bird realizes that he actually doesn’t feel so bad.

My kids love Bird. Jeremy Tankard‘s Grumpy Bird was actually one of my first Write a Review Wednesday posts. And all the reasons we like bird in Grumpy Bird, still hold true in Boo Hoo Bird. The wonderful mix of illustration and photography, the bright colours and simple animal drawings, the repetitive text, even the fact that the animals are all referred to by their type (fox is fox, sheep is sheep, and so on); all these things make Boo Hoo Bird a delightful story to read.

I think kids and parents will be able to relate to Bird’s incident; his being hurt and none of the standard ‘make it feel better’ tactics seem to work (a hug, a kiss, a cookie). I think we’ve all been there or witnessed it with our own kids. I love the innocent and pure friendship that Bird’s friends have. When all their efforts fail to make Bird feel better, they are so distraught. It’s only then that Bird realizes his pain isn’t so bad, certainly not bad enough to upset his friends. Boo Hoo Bird is a beautiful story about friendship.

My kids enjoyed the repetitive text. They could anticipate what would come next. They loved to talk about what things in the story (or outside of the story) would make them feel better.

You can add Boo Hoo Bird to your home library by visiting your local bookstore or from Amazon.ca. If you’re looking for other great books for kids, check out the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: I Know Here

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week we reviewed OwlKids The Pirate and the Penguin (age 4-8 ) written and illustrated by Patricia Storms. Still buzzing from Canadian pride after the Olympics, we’re reviewing the very Canadian feeling book I Know Here (age 4-7) written by Laurel Croza and illustrated by Matt James. I have to thank Trish at Groundwood Books for my review copy.

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We’re moving to Toronto.

These words uttered by her brother meant everything was about to change. Her family lived in a trailer park in Saskatchewan with other families who’s parents were working on building the dam. The dam would soon be complete and they would have to move. But this was her home. She didn’t know Toronto. She knew here. The trees, the animals, the trailer where she went to school with nine other children, these were what she knew. She wondered if the people in Toronto have seen the slights she has seen. The move was inevitable so to remember all of her favourite things, she drew a picture. She kept this picture folded up small and safe in her pocket so even when she was there, in Toronto, she would still be here.

My kids loved I Know Here. We live in the big city and have talked about leaving, relocating to the country. They could relate to the little girls feelings of leaving behind the world she knew and love for something foreign and maybe a little scary. Laurel‘s words spoke the thoughts of a child in a beautiful way; the sense of missing the road or the grocery delivery truck. There’s not a lot of dialog, mainly the thoughts going through the little girl’s head as she observes everything around her familiar surroundings. Accompanied by Matt‘s folky-Canadian illustrations, you are transported to a small trailer town in the prairies. My oldest daughter loved the illustrations and would spend quiet moments in her room just looking at the pages.

If you’re around the Toronto area, you can drop into the book launch of I Know Here on Saturday, March 6 (2-5pm, reading at 3:30pm) at TYPE Books on Queen Street West.

You can add a copy of I Know Here to your personal library by visiting your local bookstore or from Groundwood Books. For other children’s book reviews, have a read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts.

Write a Review Wednesday: Nana’s Getting Married

Welcome to another Write a Review Wednesday, a meme started by Tara Lazar as a way to show support to authors of kids literature. Last week my seven-year-old daughter has been working on a school research project, which she has since finished, so I a reviewed DK‘s reference book Pick Me Up. This week we’re reviewing Tundra’s Books’ new release Nana’s Getting Married (age 4-7), written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Georgia Graham . Thanks goes to Sylvia at Tundra Books for my review copy.

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Nana use to bake chocolate chip cookies, knit mittens and read bedtime stories. Nana was the best grandma in the world. Then she met Bob and now she wears her hair differently, takes long bubble baths, and even puts on makeup. Everyone seems happy with Nana’s new love interest, everyone that is but her grandson. He, for one, does not approve. He tries everything from pretending to be sick to trying to scare Bob away, anything that might keep Nana all to himself. But nothing works. Then something awful happens, Nana and Bob plan on getting married. But maybe this news isn’t as bad as it sounds and maybe Bob isn’t as awful as the little boy imagines.

Nana’s Getting Married is a delightful story about the relationship between an adult and a child. We tend to develop strong attachments to others in our lives, whether that’s a grandma or a child or a best friend. Sometimes that relationship can feel threatened when others try to join our bond and we’ll do anything to protect it, to keep it the same, just like the little boy trying to preserve his relationship with his Nana. Heather Hartt-Sussman does a wonderful job portraying this young boy’s struggle. Even though the boy thinks some of the things his Nana does are gross, you can read his underlining love for her.

I love Georgia Graham‘s artwork in the Wanda books and she does another amazing job in Nana’s Getting Married. I especially love the facial expressions she gives the characters.

My kids enjoyed Nana’s Getting Married as much as I did. Reading the story they could really empathise with the little boy’s feelings. They thought about having to share their Grandma or Nana. My son went so far as to think of other ways the little boy could have scared Bob away (I think that must be a boy thing, creating booby trap plans).

Nana’s Getting Married is a great story about the bond we create with people. It also shows that although change can be scary, sometimes change leads to great things if we’re open to the alternatives. I think this is a great story even if you don’t have a Nana getting married.

If you’re in or around the Toronto area, Heather Hartt-Sussman will be reading from Nana’s Getting Married at the Indigo bookstore in the Yorkdale Shopping Centre this Saturday, February 20, 2010 at noon. She’ll be signing copies afterward. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Can’t make it out to the reading but are interested in adding a copy of Nana’s Getting Married to your personal library, checkout your local bookstore or visit Amazon.ca. You can read through the past Write a Review Wednesday posts for other great book suggestions.