Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year's

image found on google

I hope you all have a fabulous New Year's Eve & a HAPPY New Year this weekend!

I wanted to take a moment and say THANK YOU to everyone who's been apart of Mundie Kids this year. It's been such a fabulous year and I'm truly grateful to have worked with some fabulous authors and publishers. I've really enjoyed being able to feature the large variety of children's and tweens books this year on the blog. Though the holidays, Mundie Moms and just life in general kept me away from the blog for most of the month, I do have a lot of great reviews already lined up for January. I'm looking forward to all the upcoming releases in 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Top 11 Favorite Middle Grade Reads for 2011

For the past two weeks over on Mundie Moms I've been featuring a variety of favorite books that we've read this past year. It's been a lot of fun talking about all the fabulous books that have been released over the course of this past year. Today's feature is my Top 11 Favorite MG Reads from 2011.

There has been a number of amazing middle grade as well as children book releases this year, and only a fraction of those have been featured here on Mundie Kids. Here are my top 11 favorite Middle Grade Reads from 2011:
  1. The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
  2. Wildwood by Colin Meloy
  3. Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
  4. The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
  5. Liesel & Po by Lauren Oliver
  6. The Secret War by Matt Myklusch
  7. The Familiars, Secrets of the Crown by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrea Jacobson
  8. Nicholas ST. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King by William Joyce & Laure Geringer
  9. Kat the Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
  10. A True Princess by Diane Zahler
  11. Vordak The Incomprehensible Rule the School
Other favorites:

I'd love to know what some of your favorites are. If you haven't already, I highly recommend picking up these fabulous Middle Grade reads.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We want to take a moment and wish you all a wonderful Christmas & Holiday season. Thank you so much for being apart of Mundie Kids. We're looking forward to the upcoming new year and sharing many more book reviews with each of you. We wish you all the joy and happiness of this time of year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's WINTER & Book Review: Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara

It's officially the 1st day of Winter! I love this time of year. It's not only the time of year to celebrate the joy of Christmas and the holiday season, but the time of year when the nights are longer, and the days are colder which makes it perfect reading weather!! I love reading weather. Despite the fact I've slacked off a bit on Mundie Kids, it's been crazy busy on Mundie Moms. Luckily this next week or so will be a time for me to catch up on here. There's some fabulous children's books I'll be sharing with you guys and I'll also be listing my favorite books of 2011 as well.

Speaking of books, I've got a children's book I want to share with you:

By & Illustrated by: Kazuno Kohara
1st Released on: October 27th, 2009 by Scholastic/Roaring Brook Press
Re-released on: October 25th, 2011 by Square Fish for Scholastic book fair
Source: Bought via Scholastic Book Fair
Ages: 5 & up
4 stars: We Really Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

One cold morning a lonely boy wishes for something to do. His animal friends are hibernating, and he has nobody to play with-even all the birds have flown south. When he meets Jack Frost, the last thing he expects is to make a new friend... or to discover how enchanting winter can be! -quoted from Goodreads

Celebrate the first day of Winter by reading this delightful story about Jack Frost. What little kid wouldn't want to spend the winter playing with Jack Frost, skating on the ice, building snowmen and having snowball fights? That would have been a dream come true for my son. The little boy in this story really lucks out when he meets Jack Frost and is able to do all that with them. That is until Spring makes her first appearance. Once that happens, Jack Frost has to leave until next year.

I love the simple illustrations and the way the blue & white colors brought the story to life. It provided a really inviting winter feel to it. The writing itself is very easy and I think those who are past beginner reader books will be able to sit and read this story by themselves. This is a book I'd recommend picking up. It's one that caught my eye at my son's most recent Scholastic Book Fair, and we've already enjoyed reading it a few times since bringing it home.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blog Tour: Author Interview with Ryan Jacobson

I'm thrilled to have author Ryan Jacobson on Mundie Kids today! Recently I had the chance to reviewe his newest release, Sir Author Conan Doyles Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. You can read my glowing review here.

He's the world's most famous detective, and thanks to this brilliantly adapted book, he's you! The cases, the clues, the suspects, they're yours to sort through in this exciting Choose Your Path book. You are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. You make the choices. But be careful; the wrong decision could lead to your doom. -quoted from Goodreads

Hi Ryan! Thank you so much for stopping by Mundie Kids today. If you were a character in your book Can You Survive: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, what is one thing you'd want to have with you in order to survive your adventure?

I’d want a copy of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Since the stories are
adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original book, I’d read it and always
know just what to do.

What's one of your favorite Sherlock Holmes adventures?

I have a special place in my heart for The Hound of the Baskervilles. It’s both a
mystery and a scary story at the same time. Plus, when I was in high school, our
theater department performed it as a play. I remember getting a real kick out of
hearing my classmates talk with British accents.

I loved reading choose your own adventure stories when I was in middle school. What
inspired you to write a choose your own adventure story for Sherlock Holmes?

This is my fourth Choose Your Path book, and I chose Sherlock Holmes for this
one because I found out I could. I love, love, love Sherlock Holmes stories! When
I learned that other writers were allowed to use his character and his old stories, I
jumped at the chance. I couldn’t wait to get this book written and share it with the

What was one of your favorite children's books to growing up?

I actually didn’t read many books as a child. Mostly, I read comic books and
Sports Illustrated. My very favorite was a graphic novel called Batman vs. The
Incredible Hulk (DC Special Series #27). I read it so many times that it fell apart.
My mom had to buy me a second copy.

Do you have any other books in the works you can tell us about?

I usually have four or five projects going at once (I like to jump back and forth
between them), but I just finished three Choose Your Path books: Sherlock
Holmes, Call of the Wild and Storm at the Summit of Mount Everest. So my
workload is lighter than normal. My five-year-old son loves Indiana Jones, so I’m
writing a book called Kruse Jasper and the Legend of the Dreamcatcher. I’m also
doing a Choose Your Path adaptation of Dracula. After that, I keep telling my
wife that I’m going to take a break from writing. Maybe I actually will. But there
is a comic book series I’d like to tackle…


Thank you Ryan for stopping by Mundie Kids today! We're looking forward to reading more of your upcoming releases.

Be sure to check out the rest of the Blog Tour here

Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Be sure to visit Ryan on his Website, follow him on Twitter & like him on Facebook

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Review/Blog Tour: Sir Arthur Conan Doyles' Adventures of Sherlock Holmes By Ryan Jacobson

Published by: Lake 7 Creative
Released on: November 1st, 2011
Source: book from author to review for blog tour
Ages: 8 & up
4 stars: I enjoyed it
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

He's the world's most famous detective, and thanks to this brilliantly adapted book, he's you! The cases, the clues, the suspects, they're yours to sort through in this exciting Choose Your Path book. You are Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes. You make the choices. But be careful; the wrong decision could lead to your doom. -quoted from Goodreads

I've been a fan of choose your own adventures books since I started reading them back in 5th grade. I'll admit, it's been years since I've read one, but reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, reminded me of how much fun these books are. They're exciting, action filled reads and completely engaging, as readers get to choose what "they would do next" as they act as though they're the main character.

The exciting thing about this choose your own adventure is the fact the reader becomes Sherlock Holmes. How much more exciting can that be. I've always been fascinated by clue solving Sherlock Holmes, and I really enjoyed getting to become him in this story. It was a lot of fun to make the decisions I thought he should make. Sometimes that lead me to disastrous paths and other times I succeeded and lasted longer than I thought I could in this book. I swear I was like a pre-teen again in reading this adventure book.

This is a great story for young readers and especially reluctant readers, as it invites them to be apart of the story. There's plenty of mystery, clues and twists to keep young readers invested in this story. You don't necessarily need to be a huge Sherlock Holmes fan to enjoy this read. The adventure and mystery that unravel as readers choose their own path are what fans will enjoy the most. I'm excited to see a new Choose Your Own Adventure Book and I really think readers 8 yrs old and older will enjoy jumping into this fun adventure. This is one book I'd recommend picking up!

Be sure to check out the rest of the Blog Tour here, and visit us on the 16th when we have author Ryan Jacobson on for an interview.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Review: Nicholas St. North And The Battle of the Nightmare King (The Guardians Book 1) by WIlliam Joyce & Laura Geringer

By: William Joyce & Laura Geringer
Published by: Simon & Schuster Kids
Released on: October 4th, 2011
Source: book from publisher to review
Ages: 8 & up
5 stars: This is a MUST HAVE MG!

Before SANTA was SANTA, he was North, Nicholas St. North—a daredevil swordsman whose prowess with double scimitars was legendary. Like any swashbuckling young warrior, North seeks treasure and adventure, leading him to the fiercely guarded village of Santoff Claussen, said to be home to the greatest treasure in all the East, and to an even greater wizard, Ombric Shalazar. But when North arrives, legends of riches have given way to terrors of epic proportions! North must decide whether to seek his fortune…or save the village.

When our rebellious hero gets sucked into the chaos (literally), the fight becomes very personal. The Nightmare King and his evil Fearlings are ruling the night, owning the shadows, and sending waves of fear through all of Santoff Clausen. For North, this is a battle worth fighting...and, he’s not alone. There are five other Guardians out there. He only has to find them in time. -quoted from Goodreads

I reviewed this book yesterday on Mundie Moms, but it's such a fabulous book for readers 8 and up, that I felt the need to share my review here on Mundie Kids. You can also enter to win a copy of the book on Mundie Moms, here.

Nicholas St. North and The Battle of the Nightmare King is an enchanting story with a rich mythology and is set in a world that's full of legend, adventure and action. This is a story that will appeal to adult readers and engage young readers as they meet mythological creatures, learn about ancient legends and experience the magic of Nicholas St. North's story. This fascinating world will allow young reader's imaginations to run wild as they are introduced to old world forklore that has a bit of Russian tradition mixed into it.

This is a book I think that will be most appealing to younger readers. It's an exciting read, with beautiful illustrations, and has a bit of a old fashion feel to it. William Joyce and Laura Geringer's writing is fabulous. It's easy to read and has a poetic feel to it. I didn't need to feel a connection to their characters to fall in love with this story. Their writing and world building are what made this book for me. To put it simply, I was captivated by the book. I swear I turned into a little kid again, as the excitement of this story came to life for me.

The only compliant I have, and this is the adult reader side of me saying this, I didn't like that it took so long to introduce the the heroine of the story. Had I been a preteen reading this, it wouldn't have bothered me at all. It's still a 5 star book for me, as this is one MG book I'd highly recommend picking up for Christmas/the holiday season. It's such a fun, action packed, quick read that even a reluctant reader will enjoy it. I'd be surprised if this book wasn't made into a movie. I'm definitely looking forward to more of William Joyce's MG/YA books.

Be sure to visit The Guardians of Childhood website to learn more this book and the next 5 books that will follow it. I'm looking forward to reading this series! You can read an excerpt here

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Picture Book Month

This month we had the privilege of taking part in the Picture Book Month, A Celebration! Through out the entire month of November my reviews were focused solely on the fabulous picture books that you can find around the book world. I'm not even sure how I came across the Picture Book Month blog, but I'm glad I did. I love what they're doing and strongly believe in the power of picture books.

I personally feel that picture books leave a profound impact on young children. I started reading picture books to my children as new borns and they've grown up with a love of readings and books. I know not every child will grow up loving books, but the importance of reading to your children while they're young does wonders for them. Aside from the developmental and educational benefits, reading picture books to your children also creates bounding moments for you and will leave a lasting impression on them.

Though the month is over, we'll continue to include picture book reviews on Mundie Kids like we have from the beginning of the site. It's the reason why I started Mundie Kids, so I could help promote the picture books I was reading with my children. You can read the more than 25 picture reviews that were featured this month on the blog here. You can learn more about Picture Book Month here.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Book Review: The Best Kind of Kiss by Margaret Allum

By: Margaret Allum
Illustrated by: Jonathan Bently
To Be Released on: December 6th, 2011
Ages: 3 & up
Source: book from publisher to review
5 stars: We Loved It
Pre-Order from: Amazon | Barnes & Nobles

A little girl likes all kinds of kisses, including a fluffy kiss from a cat and a fluttery kiss from a butterfly. And she gets a smelly-yelly brother kiss. But her favorite kiss of all is a bristly, growly, daddy kiss. Full of whimsy and charm, readers will agree: this is the best kind of book. -quoted from Goodreads

This is one of those stories that's just plain CUTE! The Best Kind of Kiss is a story about a little girls favorite kisses, from grandma kisses, to butterfly kisses, big kisses, slobbery baby brother kisses, to mom kisses and her favorite, kisses from her dad. Some of our favorite kisses mentioned are the "dandelions for a whispery kiss and snowflakes for a frosty kiss". This an adorable story with equally adorable illustrations. If you're looking for a fun, heart warming story, I'd definitely recommend picking this one up when it's released next week!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Book Review: Quincy Moves to the Desert by Camille Matthews

By: Camille Matthews
Illustrated by: Michelle Black
Published by: Pathfinder Equine Publications
Released on: June 15th, 2011
Ages: 5 & up
Source: book to review from the publisher
5 stars: We Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon

Author/illustrator team Camille Matthews and Michelle Black have created a new series of children's horse books for ages 5-10.

The stories introduce a red horse named Quincy and follow his exploits. Quincy Moves To The Desert, the second book of the series, is a story of self-discovery. Quincy and his trusted friend, Beau, leave the comforts of home and go on a big trip West to find trails as far as you can see. Though hesitant at first, Quincy is soon soaking up the sights. To his amazement, Quincy discovers that Horses are everywhere. He learns about all the jobs horses do and begins to dream about his own possibilities.

Full of energy and imagination, the beautifully illustrated book includes a map of the US with highlighted states. The sensitive descriptions of Quincy s feelings and experiences provide an environment of warmth and comfort. The striking oil paintings bring Quincy and his world to life for young readers. Matthews' and Black's knowledge and love of horses and attention to details of horse life instill the series with joy and authenticity- quoted from Goodreads

This is a book horse fans will love and non horse fans will enjoy reading about. Camille Matthews introduces readers to a red horse named Quincy. Quincy and his friend Beau are off on a new adventure as they're moving from their home in NY to a new one out in the West. On their journey Quincy learns a lot about the different horses and what they do. I loved the brief history Camille gives, along with the map that shows the route of Quincy's journey and talks about the different horses found along the way.

Camille writes Quincy's story is such a unique way that I think young readers will really enjoy meeting Quincy. The story after all is told from his point of view. I love that Camille gives the right amount of information away to make Quincy's story engaging, educational and fun to the readers. Both Camille and Michelle's passion for horses shines through in their details about horses both in their writing and artwork. Michelle Black's illustrations are beautiful! Her illustrations by themselves make the book worth picking up. This is a book I'd definitely recommend picking up for elementary school libraries, class rooms and to have at home.

To learn more about Quincy, please visit his site here.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Book Review: The Three Snow Bears

By: Jan Brett
Published by: Putnam & Sons, review edition (paperback edition) by Scholastic
Released on: September 13th, 2007
Source: Bought at Scholastic Book Fair
Ages: 3 & up
5 Stars: We Loved It
Purchase from: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Aloo-ki glances up from fishing and sees her sled dogs floating off on an ice floe. She races after them and comes upon an igloo. Being a curious girl, she goes inside only to find no one home. That’s because the polar bear family who lives there is out walking while their breakfast cools off. Aloo-ki eats some soup, tries on their boots, and finally crawls into the smallest bed for a nap. Meanwhile, Papa, Mama, and Baby Bear see her dogs adrift, swim out to rescue them and return home to find Aloo-ki fast asleep in Baby Bear’s bed.

Jan traveled to the far North to meet the Inuit people and see the amazing land where they live. Dramatic illustrations capture the shimmering ice, snow and deep blue seas of the Arctic, and when Jan adds a raven-haired Inuit girl and her appealing huskies, an endearing family of polar bears, and playful Arctic animals in the borders, the result is one of her most beautiful picture books.

The decorative Inuit patterns and clothing Jan uses throughout are sure to attract adult fans and collectors while children will want to listen to and look at this exciting version of a well-loved story over and over again. -quoted from Goodreads

A wonderful re-telling of the children's classic, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jan Brett takes her readers to a beautiful Arctic world where a young Inuit stumbles upon the huge Igloo of three polar bears while looking for her dogsled team. Young Aloo-ki can't resist trying the warm soup, comfy boots and the warm beds of the three bears. The artwork in this story is beautiful! I love the way Jan paid respect to the culture and artwork of the Inuit culture. If you're a fan of Jan Brett's and story re-tellings, I highly recommend picking this book up.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Book Review: Ten on The Sled by Kim Norman

By: Kim Norman
Illustrated by: Liza Woodruff
Published by: Sterling
Released on: September 30th, 2010, released for Scholastic Book Fairs 2011
Source: Bought
Ages: 3 yrs old & older
5 stars: We LOVE This Book! It's a MUST HAVE!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Kim Norman (Crocodaddy) and illustrator Liza Woodruff have whipped up a rollicking, jolly, snow-filled adventure!

In the land of the midnight sun, all the animals are having fun speeding down the hill on Caribou's sled. But as they go faster and faster, Seal, Hare, Walrus, and the others all fall off…until just Caribou's left, only and lonely. Now, a reindeer likes flying-but never alone, so…one through ten, all leap on again!

An ideal picture book for reading-and singing along with-over and over. -quoted from Goodreads

If there is one children's picture book you buy this year, this should be it! I picked this up last week while working at my son's school's Scholastic Book Fair and it's been a hit ever since! This story has been read numerous times since coming home. It's funny, it's engaging, and it can be read to the tune of "There Were 10 In The Bed". In fact, I usually sing the story to my kids to that tune.

This story is not only highly entertaining, as hysterical laughing ensues, but it's bright illustrations are great for toddlers as well. If I gave out 10 stars, this book would get that. I love the way the story rhythms, how easy to read it is and the memories that are being built each time we sit down to read this story. I HIGHLY recommend picking this book up! This year it's been re-released in paperback format to be distributed at the Scholastic book fairs, which also makes it a very inexpensive purchase.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Book Review: Hibernation Station by Michelle Meadows

By: Michelle Meadows
Illustrated by: Kurt Cyrus
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Released on: June 24th, 2010, released for Scholastic Book Fairs 2011
Source: Bought from Scholastic book fair
Ages: 2-5
4 stars: We Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Simon & Schuster | Amazon


With room for all kinds of critters from big burly bears and clamoring chipmunks to grumpy groundhogs and fidgety frogs, this train is filled to capacity and ready to go!

The final destination?
-quoted from Goodreads

Have you ever wondered what the animals do when they prepare to take their long winter naps? In Hibernation Station Michelle Meadows reveals what the forest animals do. They hunker down for a long winter's nap in the hollowed out tree log train cars. Things go wrong with the woodland animals are put into wrong cars, eventually leading them to all snuggle together in a nice warm log together.

With cute illustrations and fun rhyming words, Hibernation Stations is a story that's great for reading at nap time or bed time. This is a story my little girl enjoyed. She loves seeing the animals in their pjs. I think this is a story that's great for toddlers and pre-school ages kids. I like that the author, Michelle Meadows included a helpful note about hibernation in the back of the book.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you so much for being apart of Mundie Kids. We hope you all have a wonderful & safe Thanksgiving!

Book Review: The Story of Thanksgiving by Nancy J. Skarmeas

By: Nancy J. Skarmeas
Illustrated by: Stacy Venturi-Pickett
Published by: Candy Cane Press
Released on: September 1st, 1999
Ages: 0 & up
Source: bought
5 stars: It's A Fabulous Boardbook
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

This book tells the story of the first Thanksgiving-how the pilgrims came to America on the Mayflower in search of religious freedom, how they landed at Plymouth Rock, and how the Native Americans taught them to plant and then joined them in a Thanksgiving feast. Parents can use the simple text and the bright illustrations of this book to introduce a very young child to this holiday

This is a fabulous story to have for infants and young children. The Story of Thanksgiving tells the story of why we celebrate this day, as well as the history of the 1st Thanksgiving, starting with why the Pilgrims left England, their journey to America, their first year in America and the hardships they endured, meeting Squanto and how he helped them, to their first Thanksgiving. If you want to have a Thanksgiving story for young kids, I highly recommend picking up this sturdy board book. The story is written in a way that educates and teaches young children the importance of why we celebrate Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Book Review: Nothing Like A Puffin by Sue Soltis

By: Sue Soltis
Illustrated by: Bob Kolar
Published by: Candlewick Press
Released on: September 13th, 2011
Source: book from author to review
4 stars: I Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

There’s nothing like this book! Bold, charming artwork enlivens a fun and clever game of compare-and-contrast for curious kids and puffin lovers alike.

A puffin is an amazing creature. It’s completely unique and one-of-akind. A ladder is nothing like a puffin. A house is nothing like a puffin. A newspaper is nothing like a puffin. . . . But wait! Who would have guessed? Could these things be more alike than you think? Young children will love following this mischievous puffin in an entertaining exercise in creative classification— and are guaranteed to start looking at everyday things in a whole new way -quoted from Goodreads

There isn't anything quite like a puffin. This cute little puffin gives a range of examples from other animals, to objects who aren't quite like him. In comparing himself to other things, he sees just how unique he is. There is nothing else quite like him. I like the message this story gives. The reader/the story's audience can easily relate themselves to the puffin, as there's no one else quite like them.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Review/Giveaway: The Family Storybook Treasury

Released on: October 25th, 2011
Source: book from publisher to review
Pages: 304
Ages: 4 & up
5 stars: It's A Must Have
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Family, friends, your favorite characters…bring them all together at story time! Share the book that is sure to entertain, delight, and make the whole gang laugh. The Family Storybook Treasury is a collection of your most well-loved picture books and poetry, now available in one beautiful keepsake volume with bonus audio CD! Includes eight complete picture books:

* Curious George and the Firefighters by Margret and H. A. Rey

* Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh

* Lyle Walks the Dogs by Bernard Waber, illustrated by Paulis Waber

*Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw, illustrated by Margo Apple

* Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

* Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow

* The Great Doughnut Parade by Rebecca Bond

* Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton

A beautiful treasure to give, receive, and pass down.

This is a fabulous collection of some of the most beloved children's books. When this arrived in the mail my youngest was so excited about this book that we sat down the moment the package was open and started to read it. This is an ideal read for story time and bedtime. I love that this book comes with a CD, which is great for those families who are always on the go! This CD features all 8 stories included in the book.

Mixed in with these classic stories are beautiful poems that kids will enjoy. Each poem is featured at the end of the stories. This hard cover collection of treasured stories makes a wonderful gift for Christmas, the holidays and birthdays. If you're like me, you never need an excuse to pick up a great children's story. This book will ensure hours of quality reading time with your little ones. The Family Storybook Treasury has already been a huge hit in our household, and it's one I'd recommend adding to yours.

Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, we have 2 copies we're giving away!! To enter, please fill out the form below:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review/Giveaway: Can You See What I See? Toyland Express by Walter Wick

Published by: Scholastic
Released on: October 1st, 2011
Ages: 4-8
Source: book from publisher to review
5 star: We Loved It!
Purchase from: Scholastic | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

CAN YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? TOYLAND EXPRESS, the eighth title in the bestselling search-and-find series, follows the life of a toy train from the workshop to the attic, only to be rescued at a yard sale and brought to life once again in a new home. As readers search for more than 250 hidden objects, they will also notice how the train takes on various transformations along its journey.

Have you ever read a book that made you wish you could jump into it's pages? While reading this book with my kids, it made me wish I had an attic to go into to, so that I could pull out a box of toys and set up a Toyland Express train set like the one featured in the story, and allow my children endless hours of imaginary fun. Luckily Walter Wick's stunning photos and engaging story provide those hours of entertainment for my kids with his newest release.

The Toyland Express is a fabulous book for readers ages preK through 2nd, as they take a journey with the Toyland Express from when it's first hand crafted, to it being giving as a gift for a birthday party, played with, stored in an attic, reclaimed, and played with once again. My son's a 1st grader and he loved being able to read the book and looking for the different objects in each picture. This book is the PERFECT gift for train fans. The photography is beautiful, and the story and puzzle search is entraining, as well as engaging. I highly recommend picking this book up this Christmas/holiday season.

Don't miss this behind the scenes video with Walter:

About the author:

Walter Wick has opened millions of eyes to a world of treasures big and small in his award-winning, bestselling I SPY and CAN YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? picture-puzzle books. Walter discovered his passion for building picture puzzles by accident. One day when cleaning out a drawer, he scattered odds and ends on a glass tabletop and photographed them. The photo appeared in a magazine and caught the eye of Jean Marzollo, editor of Scholastic’s Let’s Find Out. This photo inspired the first I SPY book, with riddles by Jean Marzollo, and led to their long collaboration.

In his more recent CAN YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? series, Walter’s detailed photographs convey subtle hidden stories. Walter meticulously constructs 3-D sets for CAN YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? in his Connecticut studio. For videos and more photos, visit or


Thank you to Scholastic, we have 1 SIGNED copy of Can You See What I See? Toyland Express to giveaway. To enter, please fill out the form below:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Book Review: Ricky's Christmas Tree by Guido Van Genechten

By: Guido Van Genechten
Published by: Clavis Publishing
Released on: September 1st, 2011
Source: book from publisher to review
Ages: 5 & up
4 stars: It's A Great Read
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Ricky is wishing for a Christmas tree to light up his family’s house, but Dad has been too busy—until today. Dad tries to pick out the first tree they come across at the market, but Ricky convinces him to buy the biggest tree they can find instead. While they’re trying to tie it onto their sled, the rope snaps and they tumble backward into the snow. Rather than getting angry, Dad starts a snowball fight with Ricky, and as they play together, Dad is reminded how much fun winter can be. A touching story about the strength of a bond between father and son, this colorful book featuring the lovable Ricky delivers an important message about what really matters during the holidays. -quoted from Goodreads

Ricky really wants to have a Christmas tree in time for Christmas, but his dad has been to busy working. In hurry, Ricky's dad wants to get the tree and get back to work, but something happens along the way that causes his dad to be covered in snow. From this misfortune, Ricky and his dad end up spending a fun filled day together. I really like the message that spending time together is a gift itself. We enjoyed reading about all the fun things Ricky and his dad do, from snowball fights to making snow angels and getting home in time to decorate the tree. Fans of Ricky will enjoy this fun Christmas story.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book Review: Birdie's Big-Girl Dress by Sujean Rim

By: Sujean Rim
Published by: Little Brown Kids
Released on: September 5th, 2011
Ages: 4 & up
Source: book from publisher to review
3 stars: An Adorable Picture Book
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

In this follow-up to Birdie's Big-Girl Shoes, our favorite pint-sized fashionista is looking forward to a very BIG day—her birthday. But when Birdie tries on her favorite party dress, she realizes that - oh no! - it's too small. Mommy takes her to the boutique, where she tries on dress after dress, but Birdie realizes that none of these gowns will allow her to run and jump, make messes, and eat cake. Only when she takes a trip up to her favorite thinking place, the attic, does she realize that all it takes the find the perfect "Birdie dress" is a little imagination.

-quoted from Goodreads

Birdie is an adorable little girl who's so excited to celebrate her upcoming party. This pint size fashionista has a problem, she doesn't know what to wear to her party. Her mother takes her shopping at a local boutique, but Birdie can't find what she's looking for. It's until she rummages through the attic does she find the perfect outfit. The attic scenes were my favorite! I can only imagine the hours that could be spent playing dress up there.

The only problem I had with the story is found on a page where the little girl won't get a dress because it would be too snug after eating cake. For whatever reason that rubbed me the wrong way, and it bothers me that this was mentioned in a children's book. It sends the wrong message to kids, especially little girls who should be able to enjoy a dress not matter their size. Aside from that page, this story has some extremely adorable illustrations, that I couldn't get enough of. I'd recommend getting it for the illustrations alone.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Book Review: Not Inside This House! by Kevin Lewis

By: Kevin Lewis
Illustrated by: David Ercolini
Published by: Orchard Books/Scholastic
Released on: August 1st, 2011
Source: unbound book from publisher to review
Ages: 4 & up
4 stars: A Fun Read
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Meet Livingstone Columbus Magellan Crouse, a curious boy who loves to explore!

You'd expect a boy with a name like Livingstone Columbus Magellan Crouse to explore. But Livingstone Columbus Magellan Crouse doesn't stop there. He comes home with specimens from his travels! First a bug, and then a moose-what will Livingstone Columbus Magellan Crouse show up with next? Curious readers are in for a fun adventure.

"Livingstone Columbus Magellan Crouse,

why is that hog inside this house?"- quoted from Goodreads

Livingstone Columbus Magellan Crouse is like many young boys, he's curious, and in search of the perfect thing to bring home from his various adventures. From a moose, to a whale, to a pig, to bugs and everything in between. Livingstone can't help himself. His poor mom sure has an awful mess to clean up each time he brings something home.

This is an extremely fun book to read it. It's written in an easy to read way that my first grader could read a lot of the book himself, and the rhyming makes the story that much more engaging. This is a great book to have at home and in the classroom.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Review: A Starlit Snowfall by Nancy Willard

By: Nancy Willdard
Illustrated by: Jerry Pinkney
Published by: Little Brown Kids
Released on: November 7th, 2011
Source: book from publisher to review
Ages: 5 & up
4 stars: It's A Good Read
Purchase from: Amazon

"My cave is big enough for two!" a bear declares to a rabbit, inviting his small friend to share his den through the longest, coldest season. The rabbit readily accepts the bear's offer, but no sooner have the two curled up than the lively rabbit jumps up to wonder: Wouldn't it be better to be out in the crisp winter air, free to leap through the starlight and the sparkling snow?

In this paperback reissue of a long out-of-print winter tale (originally titled A Starlit Somersault Downhill),Caldecott Medal winner Jerry Pinkney's rich watercolors create a cozy winter world that perfectly complements Newbery Medal winner Nancy Willard's charming poetry.- quoted from Goodreads

This is a beautiful illustrated story that follows a hare who wants nothing more than to run and hop through theapproaching winter, rather than laying in a cave with his friend bear. While I was reading this, I swear this is a story I read when I was younger, and in looking into this story I found this is a re-issue of a long out of print classic tale. It's a wonderful story with some fabulous illustrations.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review: Every-Day Dress-Up by Selina Alko

By: Selina Alko
Published by: Alfred A. Knopf
Released on: October 11th, 2011
Source: book from publisher to review
Ages: 4 & up
3.5 stars: It's A Good Read
Purchase from: Amazon

It's no secret that little girls love playing dress up, but the little girl in this book ditches her princess duds in favor of costumes inspired by great women in history.

Now dressing up is an adventure
When, every day of the week,
I am a daring new dame!

From Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to chef extraordinaire Julia Child to queen of jazz Ella Fitzgerald, our protagonist pays homage to the women who came before her and imagines herself in their shoes. Maybe someday she'll inspire little girls with her own gown of greatness.
-quoted from Goodreads

Being a mother of a little girl who loves to dress up, I loved the concept of this book. The little girl dresses up each of the week and pretends to go on the adventures of the prestige women she's pretending to be. While as I grown up, I knew who these amazing women are, they were totally lost to my little girl. Young girls would know more about these women than young preschool aged girls. I do love the concept that dress can be more than just Disney princesses. I'm a little torn on how to recommend this book. It's geared towards preschool aged kids, yet the content of the book is more of girls in elementary school. I like that the respected women through out history who are mentioned in this story are included in a biography in the back of the book.

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 ~