Sunday, July 31, 2011

Book Review: The Year We Were Famous

By: Carole Estby Dagg
Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt CHildren's Book
Released on: April 4th, 2011
Ages: 12 & up
Source: ARC from publisher to review
5 stars- An Exciting Adventure

With their family home facing foreclosure, seventeen-year-old Clara Estby and her mother, Helga, need to raise a lot of money fast—no easy feat for two women in 1896. Helga wants to tackle the problem with her usual loud and flashy style, while Clara favors a less showy approach. Together they come up with a plan to walk the 4,600 miles from Mica Creek, Washington, to New York City—and if they can do it in only seven months, a publisher has agreed to give them $10,000. Based on the true story of the author’s great-aunt and great-grandmother, this is a fast-paced historical adventure that sets the drama of Around the World in Eighty Days against an American backdrop during the time of the suffragist movement, the 1896 presidential campaign, and the changing perception of “a woman’s place” in society.

I absolutely loved this incredible journey. Inspired by true events, The Year We Were Famous is a story that is full of hope, courage, and never giving up. Following the journey of the mother-daughter team of Helga and Clara, who in hopes of saving their farm and making money from their story, walked from Mica Creek, WA clear across the country to New York City, New York.

During the story's era of 1896, these two courageous women were armed with very little as they set out on a trek that was either admired or frowned upon, because they were women traveling alone. Not to mention the fact Helga left behind a husband and seven younger children. Together Helga and Clara battled getting lost, down pours, blizzards, little food, worn out shoes and so much more. Their adventures of joy, heartache, sorrow, discourage, courage and struggles were captured with letters home, journals they wrote to document their trip and letters they wrote to major news papers along the way.

Being a relative Helga, I loved that the author Carole Estby Dagg was able to include some real life notes about Helga, Clara, their trip and family, at the end of this fabulous fictionalized story. This is fantastic debut novel! I love how realistic this story felt. I enjoyed the encounters the women had with the local Native Americans in various parts of the West, the different descriptions of the towns/settlements they journey through, and I loved getting to know these two women. They had to endure so much and I really admire the inner strength both women had. Though they were at times at odds with each other and their story doesn't end on the note they had hoped, it's such a fascinating story to read. The setting, the dialogue and the whole feel of the book felt like I was reading a journal from 1896. I highly recommend picking this book up!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Book Review: Kat, Incorrigible

Published by: Atheneum
Released on: April 5th, 2011
Source: Bought
5 stars: A Magical Read

Katherine Ann Stephenson has just discovered that she's inherited her mother's magical talents, and despite Stepmama's stern objections, she's determined to learn how to use them. But with her eldest sister Elissa's intended fiancé, the sinister Sir Neville, showing a dangerous interest in Kat's magical potential; her other sister, Angeline, wreaking romantic havoc with her own witchcraft; and a highwayman lurking in the forest, even Kat's reckless heroism will be tested to the upmost. If she can learn to control her new powers, will Kat be able to rescue her family and win her sisters their true love?

Take some magic, sprinkle in an old fashion English society that I adore, and add an unforgettable character and you've got a recipe for a fantastic read that will be appealing to both middle graders and adults, or maybe adults who are really just kids at heart.

There's something about Kat Stephenson that will have you falling in love with her. She's a memorable character who's fresh voice and sweet innocence had me cheering for her through out the book, because no matter what her consequences are she always did what she thought was right. In an era where girls are suppose to do what they are told, and be prim and proper, twelve year old Kat is an spunky, do it yourself, strong willed, fun loving girl. Not one to always follow the rules or do what she's told to, Kat is adventurous, loyal and despite always have the best intentions for her actions, she often finds herself in a bit of mischief. How can you not love a character who's opening line is,

"I was twelve years of age when I chopped off my hair, dressed as a boy, and set off to save my family from impending doom."

One of the things I loved about Kat is she doesn't give up. She wants nothing more than to find out more about the mother she never knew, and help her older sisters, who in the story's time period are about to be married off, unwillingly I might add. Through Kat's mishaps of trying to save her sisters, she discovers she's inherited her mother's magic powers. Upon picking up a mirror that belonged to her mother Kat finds herself teleported into a world that may give her the answers she's looking for. This magical discovery is just the beginning of Kat's adventures, as she discovers her powers, and what she's capable of.

Aside from a cast of great characters is a beautiful setting that I couldn't help but picture in my mind. Stephanie did such a wonderful job at describing not only the 1800's English society, what it was like to attend a ravishing English house party, the attire, and what it was like to be a girl then. I felt like I was visiting this time period, and I loved every moment of it. Kat, Incorrigible is a charming, delightful read, and I'm looking forward to reading about many more of her adventures.

Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to our recent Giveaway Winners!

#19- Grace Soledad

#14- Kathy Tope

All winners have been notified. Thank you to everyone who has entered and we'll be posting more giveaways shortly!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Book Review: Pirates Go To School

By: Corinne Demas
Illustrated by: John Manders
Published by: Orchard Books/Scholastic
Released on: July 1st, 2011
Source: book from publisher to review
Ages: 5 & up
4 stars- A Really Fun Read

A funny rhyming story about the silly things pirates do when they go to school.

Pirates and their parrots go to school, and it's time to hang up their swords and have fun. They learn reading and math, and they bring pirate treasure for show-and-tell. For pirates, going to school is as much fun as a game of "walk the plank"!

Who would have ever thought pirates would like to go to school. They themselves sing, "Yo ho ho, we are so cool. We are pirates and we love school." I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed this book, as did my kids. It's a fun read with rhyming words and great illustrations. I'm a fan of any book that is not only hilarious, but one that receives a lot non stop laughs from my kids. Best of all, these pirates are FUN, enjoy learning and will make your kids wish they could go to school with pirates.

Whether you're looking for a book for your young pirate fan, wanting a fun book to read at home or school, I'd recommend picking this fantastic book up.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Review: Race The Wild Wind, A Story of the Sable Island Horses

By: Sandra Markle
Paintings by: Layne Johnson
Published by: Bloomsbury Kids
Released on: July 19th, 2011
Source: from publisher to review
Ages: 6 & up
3 stars- It's A Good Read

From acclaimed science writer Sandra Markle comes a fascinating survival story about the wild horses of Sable Island. During a shipwreck, a young stallion leads a band of horses to safety on an arc of golden land-Sable Island, off the coast of Nova Scotia. In gorgeously illustrated panoramic views, readers will see how the herd quickly adapted to harsh winters before the warmth of spring brought new life and new foals. But when a severe summer storm puts the horses in danger once again, only by racing the wild wind can they survive the trials of nature in their new home.

This is a book that horse lovers will really enjoy. Inspired by the real life Sable Island horses (which you can read more about here), author Saundra Markle does a wonderful job at telling the story of what it must have been like for the first horses on the Island.

Unlike domesticated horses, the Sable Island horses roam freely with no human contact. It's a fascinating story to read about the diverse weather conditions on the island and to see how resilient these animals are. Along with the story are some amazing pictures by artist Layne Johnson. This book is both an informative read, it's also a fantastic picture book. I think this book is a great read to have at home and a great fit for teachers who are studying horses or Island life for animals.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Book Review: Vanished

By: Sheela Chari
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Released on: July 26th, 2011
Source: ARC from TLA
Ages: 8-12
3 stars- It's A Good Read

Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument. Her particular instrument used to be her grandmother’s—made of warm, rich wood, and intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon. When this special family heirloom vanishes from a local church, Neela is devastated. As she searches for it, strange clues surface: a teakettle ornamented with a familiar-looking dragon, a threatening note, a connection to a famous dead musician, and even a legendary curse. The clues point all the way to India, where it seems that Neela's intrument has a long history of vanishing and reappearing. If she is able to track it down, will she be able to stop it from disappearing again?

Vanished is a story that blends both American & Indian cultures, mystery, family relationships, music, and centers around eleven year old Neela who's aspiring dreams and daily struggles make her a relatable, endearing character. Neela has a gift, she can play the veena a rare Indian musical instrument, which is also a beloved family heirloom her Grandmother gave to her. As Neela dreams of playing her veena in front of large crowds, her beautiful instrument goes missing and a mystery ensues.

Neela is a typical eleven year old girl who's trying to find her place in the world. I found her to be very relatable as she's learning how to deal with the struggle between doing what her parents want her to do and wanting to follow her own ambitions. I was a little frustrated at times with Neela for not speaking up more, but I understood her desire to both try and figure out the mystery surrounding her stolen veena and to please her parents. I felt Sheela did a great job at portraying what it's like for Neela in school with her friends, her rivals and trying to discover were she fits in. Through the course of the book Neela grows out of her insecurities and becomes much more of a confident tween.

I really liked the way Neela's Indian and American cultures were interwoven together. I felt like Sheela gives the reader a realistic portrayal of how Neela learns to embrace both. I adored her closest friend Pavi, and how the mystery surrounding the missing veena and it's curse are revealed through Neela's Indian heritage. I love the cover and I liked how each chapter alternated between a picture of the veena and a picture of the dragon, which also plays a symbolic role in the story. Overall I felt Vanished was a good story, and I liked the unique, diverse elements that really brought the story together.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Review: Ava the Sunset Fairy, The Night Fairies

By: Daisy Meadows
Published by: Scholastic
Released on: July 1st, 2011
Series: Book 1 in The Night Fairies, Rainbow Magic series
Source: book from publisher to review
Ages: 4 & up
Rating: 5 stars, An Enjoyable Read

The Night Fairies' magic is missing --- and now Fairyland is in the dark!

Night is not right!

Nothing is more magical than nighttime! The Night Fairies are careful to keep it that way . . . until their special bags of magic dust go missing. Jack Frost and his goblins are surely causing trouble again. Now Fairyland and the human world are in the dark!

During Rachel and Kirsty's first night at Camp Stargaze, they notice that the sunset is . . . green! Can they help Ava the Sunset Fairy set things right?

Find the missing bag of magic dust in each book and help save the nighttime magic!

Ava the Sunset Fairy is the first book in The Night Fairies series that will engage young readers as their follow the adventures of Rachel & Kirsty, who are out to help their Fairy friends against Jack Frost and his goblins. This time Jack and his goblins have stolen 7 bags with magic dust, and each one needs to be found. Without her special bag Ava isn't able to control the sunset, and it's up to Rachel & Kirsty to get it back.

This is a fun book that even my young daughter who doesn't yet read by herself, loved having me read to her. I find the book's cute illustrations and length to be perfect for 1st & 2nd grade readers, as well as for those younger kids who aren't reading by themselves.

The Rainbow Magic series is a great collection of twelve individual fairy series that include The Rainbow Fairies, The Weather Fairies, The Ocean Fairies and many more. Each series takes beginning readers on fun, quick, engaging adventures. We're looking forward to reading many more books from this series.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Book Review: Get Happy

By Malachy Doyle
Illustrated by Caroline Uff
Published by Bloomsbury Kids
Released on: June 7, 2011
Source: publisher
Ages 3 & up
Purchase from: Amazon
5 stars- A Wonderful Read

Tease less . . . tickle more!
Shout less . . . sing more!
Worry less . . . wonder more!

With a cheerful message about sharing, giving, and being kind to others,Get Happy will show any child how to turn a frown into a giggle, spread the joy around, and live life to the fullest. Perfect for the youngest of readers, it won't be long before everyone knows how to get happy!

Get Happy is a wonderful story that teaches kids how they can be happier by turing their frowns into giggles, squabbling to sharing, shouting to sharing, worrying to wondering and so much. This brightly colored, cutely illustrated book will capture the attention of toddlers and younger children. It's a fabulous teaching tool for parents, teachers and just about anyone who is around younger children. I adore the illustrations and the simple words and highly recommend picking this book up today!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Book Review: Hugo The Happy Starfish Wants To Be Different

Written & Illustrated By Susanne Liebermann
Published by Happy Language Kids LLC
Released on November 1st, 2010
Source- book from author for review
Ages 3 & up
3.5 stars- It's A Good Read

Happiness Begins Within
... a story about self-esteemHugo the Happy Starfish Learns to Love HimselfHugo is a little starfish living in the big green ocean. Every day Hugo smiles and makes other creatures happy—and doing that makes Hugo happy. But one day Hugo stops smiling. He begins to feel small and ugly, convinced that nobody likes him. Hugo decides that he should try to be more like the Magic Manta so that everyone will like him. Join Hugo on his journey as he discovers that being himself is the best way to be—and the only way to be happy.

Hugo's story is a good way to teach kids about having a good self-esteem and to be happy with the way they are. Hugo is a happy star fish who likes making others feel happy, but when he's granted a few wishes he decides he wants to change a few thing he doesn't like about himself. Hugo learns a great lesson and once those changes are made he wishes he could be himself again.

With it's cute, brightly colored pages, Hugo will teach kids to be happy just being themselves. The only compliant I have is I felt the Spanish translation were really random through out the story. I would have loved to see the translations on every page and not just in the middle of some of the sentences or on certain pages. This is a great story that will each kids to have a good self-esteem and like Hugo learned, they too will realize they're special just the way they are.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review: Eddie Gets Ready For School

By David Milgrim
Published by Cartwheel Books
Released on July 1st, 2011
Ages: 4-7
Source: unbound book from publisher to review
Purchase from: Scholastic's store
4 stars- A Really Fun Read

Fall in love with Eddie as he gets ready for school!

Now that Eddie can get ready all by himself, his morning routine is anything but ordinary!

[ ] wake up (with a megaphone)

[ ] get dressed (up in a costume)

[ ] pack a snack (a watermelon's perfect)

[ ] find something for show-and-tell (No, not the TV!)

[ ] run like mad to catch bus!

With understated humor and uproarious illustrations, David Milgrim's first checklist book gets you to school on time, and in a great mood.

With it's humor and equally fun illustrations, Eddie Gets Ready For School is an entertaining read that not only received 2 thumbs up from my kids, but lots of giggles.

Eddie's a cheerful character who is excited about getting ready for school. He wakes and creates his very own checklist for getting ready, complete with drinking root beer while watching cartoons, putting a whole watermelon in his lunch, and trying to sneak out the door with his cat in his backpack. Despite the fact his mother doesn't approve of things, Eddie successfully gets himself ready all by himself.

This is a surprisingly humorous read and I enjoyed the laughs that ensured with my kids. I'd recommend this for ages 4 & up. Please note, if you read this before bedtime it might take a little bit for the giggles to die down.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Book Review: Love You Back

Illustrated by Andras Balogh
Self published
Released on June 28th, 2011
Source: from author for review
4 stars- A Beautiful, Heartfelt Story

Grandmothers are an essential part of all our lives. This book is gifted to our grandmothers as an acknowledgment of the love, caring and generosity they shower us with in our childhood and always.

A wonderful, touching story about the love of a Grandmother and grandchild. With it's bright, beautiful colors, this short and simple book illustrates the special love and bond that a Grandmother and her grandchild have.

This is one of those books I would have bought for Grandmother when I was younger and one my kids will share with their Grandma. This story is written in such a way that is both meaningful and insightful for both the reader and the person giving this one of kind, unique gift from the heart. The warm illustrations compliment this story perfectly, and it's one of those books that will be cherished for it's story, illustrations, and personal letter than can be written on the last page of the book.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Upcoming Reviews on Mundie Kids

Inspired by the In My Mailbox meme we take part in Mundie Moms, this feature show cases the books we've recently received from the publisher, author or bought that will be reviewed on here on the blog. I've broken down the books by age group.

Young Readers (Ages 4-7)
* Ava the Sunset Fairy, The Night Fairies book 1 by Daisy Meadows, published by Scholastic
* Zara the Starlight Fairy, The Night Fairies book 3 by Daisy Meadows, published by Scholastic
* Nia the Night Owl Fairy, The Night Fairies book 5 by Daisy Meadows, published by Scholastic
* Halloween Surprise by Corinne Demas, published by Walker Childrens
* Chuckling Ducklings and Baby Animal Friends by Aaron Zenz, published by Walker Childrens
* I Am Small by Emma Dodd, published by Scholastic
* The Great Race by Kevin O'Malley, published by Walker Childrens
* Prudence Wants A Pet by Cathleen Daly, published by Roaring Brook Press

Middle Grade Reads (Ages 8-12)
* The Secret Prince, A Knightly Academy Book by Violet Haberdasher, published by Aladdin
* Petal Pushers, Flower Feud by Catherine R Daly, published by Scholastic
* Petal Pushers, Best Buds by Catherine R Daly, published by Scholastic
* Petal Pushers, Coming Up Roses by Catherine R Daly, published by Scholastic
* BFF Breakup by Taylor Morris, published by Aladdin
* Blowout, Hello Gorgeous! Book 1 by Taylor Morris, published by Grosset & Dunlap
* Foiled, Hello Gorgeous! Book 2 by Taylor Morris, published by Grosset & Dunlap

* Corduroy by Don Freeman
* Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
* The Little Island by Margaret Wise Brown & Leonard Weisgard
* Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
* The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
* Mercy Waston Thinks Like A Pig by Kate DiCamillo

Thank you to Scholastic, Walker/Bloomsbury, Simon & Schuster and Taylor Morris for this week's wonderful reads.

Book Review: Wiener Wolf

Illustrated by Jeff Crosby
Published by Disney Hyperion
Released on July 5th, 2011
Ages 4-7
5 stars- A Stellar Book
Source Bought

This is one of those rare treasures I stumbled across when I was sitting with my kids this past week waiting for story time at our local Barnes & Noble to start. I quickly snatched it off the shelf and read it to my kids. I'm not sure who enjoyed it more, them or me. I have no idea how I hadn't heard of this book until this moment. Not only is Jeff a local author/illustrated, but this story is fabulous!

I fell in love with Jeff's illustrations before I even read the book. These are some of the best illustrations I've seen. I've never been a huge wiener dog fan, not that they're not cute, I'm just more of big dog fan, but this adorable story won me over. It's a fun adventure story about a wiener dog who yearns for a little bit more adventure, when one day he discovers there's more beyond his quiet little house her shares with granny. Wiener dog becomes Wiener Wolf! No matter matter how much fun he has, he realizes that this may not be all he thought it was cracked up to be either.

This is not only a story with some of the most captivating illustrations, it's a fun adventure with a lovable character. When a book captures not only my attention, my children's attention and the attention of other younger kids that were seated near us, than you know it's a hit. I HIGHLY recommend picking this book up today! This is the perfect book for ages 4-7.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Review: The Six Crowns, Trundle's Quest

By Allan Jones
Illustrated by Gary Chalk
Released on April 1st, 2011
Ages: 8 & up
Source: ARC from publisher to review
4 Stars- An Exciting Adventure

Trundle doesn't think he's an adventurer. He's a lamplighter. He likes everything safe and cozy, and that's the way things are in his peaceful part of the Sundered Lands.

Until Esmeralda barrels through his door.

Esmeralda, a princess with a knack for magic and for finding trouble, is convinced that Trundle is the only one who can help her find the six crowns. Lost and scattered long ago, the crowns could unite the Sundered Lands once again. But not if the pirates find them first.

Suddenly, Trundle is on the run. He becomes a stowaway, a drifter, a thief's accomplice, and a swordsman.Trundle may find that he is a true hero, after all . . . and that this is only the beginning of an epic journey.

An exiting adventure set in magical land where ships fly and two unlikely heroes set out to fulfill an ancient prophecy and find the six crowns. Can Trundle and Esmeralda fend off the evil pirates and overcome unforeseen obstacles in time to save their world?

Young readers will enjoy jumping aboard the sky boats with these two courageous hedgehogs as they set out on an unforgettable journey full of danger, and action. Trundle's Quest is set in a world unlike any I've read about before. It's a unique, exciting place I enjoyed visiting, where animals are like humans, and the pirates are just as ruthless as any other pirate story I've read.

Esmeralda is a feisty, brave, doesn't stand down in the face of danger character I liked getting to read about. Trundle who starts off a little more timid, when he comes face to face with danger he becomes a brave young hero who stands his ground. Both of these characters were fun to meet and I'm really looking forward to reading more about their adventures.

Based on Trundle's Quest alone, this series is already off on the right direction. With it's thrilling adventure, unforgettable characters, and must see illustrations, Trundle's Quest is a fantastic fantasy chapter book I recommend picking up. I'd recommend this book to younger readers who like fantasy, animals, adventure, and pirates.
Be sure to visit the Six Crowns website to find our more information about the series, play games, get downloads, meet the characters and more.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Interview with Matt Myklusch, Author of The Accidental Hero & The Secret War

Today we're excited to have Matt Myklusch, author of the Jack Blank Adventure series. If you haven't already, I highly recommend picking up The Accidental Hero, which was released last year. Next month it's sequel, The Secret War will be released. This is a fantastic series!

Congratulations on the upcoming release of your sequel, The Secret War. What is one thing you and Jack have in common?
I like to think that I have some of Jack's determination. There is really no "quit" in Jack. No matter how much trouble gets piled on top of his shoulders, he just sucks it up and keeps moving forward. He doesn't always make the right decisions (which I suppose is something else we have in common), but he doesn't crawl up in a ball and wait to die either. You can't beat the guy who never gives up. That's Jack, and that's something I try my best to be as well.

What has been your favorite part of Jack's world to create?
This one is easy. I love Cognito. It's a part of the Imagine Nation that is entirely filled with superhero hideouts and secret lairs. Every day at a different time, the streets in Cognito rearrange themselves into a fresh new labyrinth, and the whole borough shuffles like a deck of cards to make sure everything stays hidden. Fans of Jack Blank can expect to see more of Cognito in and the THE SECRET WAR.

You have some great character twists in The Secret War. Which of your characters has changed the most since you first started writing the series?
The biggest change was Jazen Knight, who started out as two different people. I had Jazen, who brings Jack to the Imagine Nation, and a separate robotic butler character whose job it was to help Jack around once he got there. At the end of the first draft, it was clear that there wasn't enough room for both characters in the book. They both needed more "page time," so I consolidated them. Jazen's personality didn't change, but his biology did-- he became an android. In the end, Jazen was a much stronger character as a result. Absolutely one of those instances where I felt like I struck gold during the revision process.

If you could spend a day in the Imagine Nation, which super hero would you want to spend it with?
I would hang out with Blue, the super strong, giant blue hero who helps bring Jack to the Imagine Nation in Book 1. I just like him. He's a fun guy, doesn't take himself too seriously, and he's fiercely loyal and protective of his friends. Whatever trouble we got into (and I'm sure there would be some), I know Blue would have my back. In Book 2, Jack is "sidekicking" for Blue, who has left his job with Empire City's Super Police Dept., after finally getting fed up with all the paperwork.

Readers can click here to get a look at Blue, and check out the rest of the site for some other character images too.

What was your favorite book to read growing up and why?
In addition to the tons of X-Men comic books I read (and re-read, and re-read) growing up, I really enjoyed and was inspired by JURASSIC PARK. I was probably about 12 or 13 when that book came out. I remember thinking what an awesome "lightning-in-a-bottle" kind of idea it was, and then being struck by how intelligently that idea was executed. I just wanted to step into that world Michael Chricton had created-- at least until the dinosaurs got loose. Seeing the movie a few yeas later helped make that possible somewhat, but I was always glad that I had read the book first. Books like JURASSIC PARK made me want to get in the game and create something of my own.

If you could give young writers any advice, what would you say to them?
There is so much that can be said on this subject, but the big one, I think, is don’t give up. You only fail at something when you give up. If you’re still trying and you haven’t quit, then you haven’t failed, no matter how long you’ve been at it. A screenwriter named Josh Olson wrote, “You can’t discourage a writer. If I can talk you out of being a writer, then you’re not a writer.” I like that. Life is going to present you with no shortage of excuses for giving up.… The important thing to remember is that they are excuses. Not reasons.

Be sure to visit:
Jack Blank website for all the latest news, where to the books and more.
Jack Blank blog to see sketches of the characters and more.
Simon & Schuster's site for more information on the series, and to buy the books.
Follow Matt on Twitter.

You can read my 5 star reviews for Accidental Hero (formerly titled Jack Blank & The Imagine Nation), and The Secret War , and enter to win our giveaway for an ARC of The Secret War.
Read our interview with Jack Blank here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Book Review: Razzle-Dazzle Ruby

Published by Scholastic Press
To Be Released September 1st, 2011
Ages 4 & up
Source- book from publisher to review
5 stars- A Dazzling, Interactive Read

A regular day becomes a magical adventure in this stunning novelty picture book from an amazing new talent!

Ruby can make the ordinary extraordinary! Come skate on a shimmering pond, roll a giant snowball, sled down a snowy hill, and create soaring snow angels with her as she becomes a snow queen and transforms a typical winter day into a gleaming-beaming fairy tale.

Combining glorious watercolors, elegant paper engineering, and whimsical storytelling, this joyful novelty picture book is sure to enchant children and adults. Ten beautiful interactive spreads sparkle, spin, pop, and whirly-twirl, inviting readers to join in Ruby's razzle-dazzle fun.

A dazzling, interactive read that will take readers into Ruby's magical world full of color and imagination.

Ruby is a young girl who's adventures begin one morning when she awakes to find it's snowing. With her dog Rocket by her side they venture out into a world blanketed by snow to play. Ruby's lovely imagination makes this short, eye catching book a memorable read.

With it's beautiful colors, pull tabs and moving wheels on different pages, Razzle-Dazzle Ruby is simply a must have book. I would definitely recommend this for ages 4 and up, and even then 4 yr olds may need help with the pull tabs.

*I'd like to note that this cover may not be the final cover.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Book Review: Beyonders, A World Without Heros

Published by Aladdin
Released On March 15th, 2011
Ages 8-12
Source: Bought
4.5 stars - A Fantastic Adventure

Jason Walker has often wished his life could be less predictable—until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank into a strange, imperiled world. Lyrian holds dangers and challenges unlike anyplace Jason has ever known. The people all live in fear of their malicious wizard emperor, Maldor. The brave resistors who once opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.

In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes (quoted from Brandon's Site).

A World Without Heroes takes readers to an incredible, mesmerizing world for an epic adventure and introduces them to some fantastic, unforgettable characters.

I wish I had a fraction of the imagination talent Brandon Mull has. Beyonders takes world building to a whole new level. I've not read anything quite like this before. It's world full of possibilities, danger, adventure and a place where choices determine your outcome. Aside from the characters, one of things I really enjoyed about this story was how the character's choices always have consequences and impact their journey. Coming from an outside world, the story's main characters Jason and Rachel are bit naive to the new world they've accidentally come into, but smart enough to withstand some of the temptations that come their way. In an unfamiliar place full of strong, indepth characters it's hard to decide who they should trust.

I really like Jason and Rachel. They are true heros and characters readers will be able to relate to. They're brave, they both of an inner strength I admire, they're smart and courageous, but at the same time they make mistakes, which makes them feel realistic. I also really enjoyed their sense of humor and snarkiness. That's one of the things I felt really drew me to their characters. There are a lot of characters Brandon introduces into the story, and normally I find it hard to follow along when this happens, but I felt it really worked for A World Without Heros and the journey Jason and Rachel are on. The other thing I liked about some of the creative characters Brandon comes up with is how he allowed me as a reader to imagine what they looked like.

With it's unforgettable adventure, and unlikely heros, A World Without Heros is a magical story that will appeal to not just middle grade readers, but readers of all ages. There's something for everyone to enjoy and take away from the story. I love that Brandon introduces not one, but two strong characters that both boys and girls will admire. I really liked where this first story ended and I can't wait to pick up the sequel, Seeds of Rebellion.

You can read our interview about Beyonders with Brandon Mull here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Book Review: The Very Fairy Princess Takes The Stage

Illustrated by Christine Davenier
Published by Little Brown Kids
Released on: May 3rd, 2011
Source: Book from publisher to review
Ages: 4 & up
4 stars- A Delightful Read

Everyone's favorite fairy princess is back and just in time for her ballet recital in this new picture book addition to the Julie Andrews Collection. At first, when Gerry is cast as the Court Jester and not the Crystal Princess, she is dismayed -- nothing is pink and no one can see her crown under her silly jester hat! But just as the recital looks like it's headed for disaster, our ever-energetic very fairy princess swoops in to save the day!

This is such a delightful series and one my little girl adores. What's not to love about Gerry. She loves to dress up, do nice things for others, help people out and she enjoys letting her sparkle out when she sings and dances. She such a fun, relatable character to read about.

Gerry wants nothing more than to be the Crystal Princess, a coveted spot in her ballet class's up coming performance. When she loses it to Tiffany, and instead becomes the Jester, not surprisingly she becomes upset. But in a true fairy princess manner, Gerry ends up stealing the show when she does something to help Crystal out and saves the performance. Not only does Gerry feel happy about what she's done, but her parent's and brother are very proud of her as well.

This is a great sequel to the beloved book A Very Fairy Princess and I highly recommend picking these books up. They have such a great message in their fun, elegant stories, and the illustrations are adorable.
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~