Monday, October 31, 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Book Review: Happy Halloween!

By: Liesbet Slegers
Published by: Clavis Publishing
Released on: September 1st, 2011
Source: book from publisher to review
Ages: 5 & up
4 Stars: It's A Good Read
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

The fun traditions of Halloween are celebrated in this engaging picture book in which the whole family prepares for the big day. Daddy carves the pumpkin into a scary monster face, while Mommy makes pumpkin soup and pumpkin cakes with the trimmings. Everyone makes scary costumes for the neighborhood Halloween party. After bobbing for apples, the children travel door to door collecting sweets and singing scary songs. When the excitement is over, the makeup and costumes come off, and it is time to crawl into bed, forget about the ghosts and goblins, and dream of next year's celebration. Simple shapes and just the right amount of spooky suspense introduce youngsters to a favorite holiday. -quoted from Goodreads

This is a great story for parents or teachers who are wanting to introduce their kids to the various activities that take place on Halloween. It's fun, informative read with bright, colorful, and simple illustrations. My kids related to this story well, and got really excited when we'd read about some of the things we do. This story is one that could even be read to preschool age kids, as there's nothing scary about this story at all. This is one I'd recommend picking up if you're looking for a clean, fun Halloween read for your kids.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Book Review: Frangoline and the Midnight Dream

By: Clemency Pearce
Illustrated by: Rebecca Elliott
Published by: The Chicken House/Scholastic
Source: from publisher to review
Ages: 5 & up
4 stars: A Fangtastic Read
Purchase from: Barnes & Noble

Good Girl Gone Bad! An adorably dark picture book about the naughty midnight exploits of an impish litttle girl.

During the day, Frangoline's a perfect little angel. But in the darkest shadows of night, when all good children are sleeping tight, this little imp dons her jet-black cape and makes a break for it! Out the window, across the grass, screeching like a banshee, twirling like a dervish! The worried Moon looks down, warning, "Little ones should be in bed!"

"You can't tell me what to do. I'm Frangoline!" she says.

But when Frangoline's dancing antics wake the dead and they chase her to the tippy-top of the church steeple, how will she escape? And will she learn her lesson?

For every parent who has faced a fight at bedtime, and for every child just beginning to assert her independence, this is an adorably dark storybook about a (sweet but) wicked girl. The perfect rhyming Halloween read for all the little angels with a little devil inside! -quoted from Goodreads

This is cute Halloween read with some charming illustrations that both my kids and I enjoyed reading. It's about a little girl who's really good during the day and at night after midnight she becomes opposite of what she's like during the day. One night on Halloween, she doesn't listen to the warnings the moon keeps giving her about the choices her makes and she ends up learning her lesson, at least for that night. It's not that she's bad, she's just a bit adventurous and wants to do whatever she wants. It's appealing rhyming words, engaging illustrations and that fun, exciting Halloween feel the story has, make this a book I'd recommend picking up for Halloween.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Blog Tour/Book Review: A Christmas Secret

By: Candace Hall
Published by: Tate Publishing
Released on: July 5th, 2011
Source: Book from author to review
Ages: 8 & up
4 stars: I Really Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Tate Publishing

When Santa's reindeer discover a lost kitten named O'Malley, they have no choice but to rescue him and bring him back to the North Pole. Soon all the residents of the North Pole are doing their part to save O'Malley, including Broome, the head elf, and Wilma the mouse. Because only those who were born in the North Pole can live there, everyone decides to keep O'Malley a secret-until O'Malley goes missing. Will O'Malley be able to stay in the North Pole? What will Santa think about A Christmas Secret? -quoted from Goodreads

A cute, festive short story that will get kids in the Christmas Spirit, A Christmas Secret is about an adorable little black kitten O'Malley who finds himself lost at the North Pole. This charming story is about friendship and love, and allows readers to get a glimpse into life at the North Pole for Santa and his reindeers. The story does a great job at reminding readers that the over all meaning of this time of year is about love.

While the black & white illustrations are simple and fit the story well, I think they'd be more appealing to younger kids if they had been in color. This by no means takes away from the cuteness of the story. This book is the perfect size for kids who are at an intermediate level for reading, though I found some of the words to be a bit out of the targeted reading ages level. I think with the help of an adult, kids would find it easier to read. This adorable book is the perfect size to fit into any stocking. It's a book I'd recommend picking up for the upcoming holiday season.

Be sure to go to Candace's website to find out more about this story and find out more about the cute cat that inspired O'Malley's story HERE.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Book Review: The Runaway Pumpkin

Written by: Kevin Lewis
Illustrated by: S.D. Schindler
Published by: Orchard
Release Date: September 1, 2003
Ages: 4-8
Source: Bought

Synopsis: When Buck, Billy, and little sister Lil spy the biggest pumpkin they're ever seen, they can't resist. Buck and billy try to roll it down the hill, but the giant pumpkin barrels its way through the family farm and no one can stop it! Kids and families will have a thumpin' bumpin' good time with this rollicking tale of a pumpkin on the run.

This is a book that I bought at a Scholastic Book Fair many years ago and it serves as a reminder to me to remember the wonderful fairs that are upcoming at our local schools. I know that Mundie Moms and Mundie Kids check those out faithfully and if you're like me you spend way too much money there. But consider the quality of books you purchase like this one.

A pumpkin that runs away from two little boys and their baby sister. The words are so rhythmic that you'll find yourself repeating them just for fun:
Round and 'round
across the ground
making a
bumpin sound
came that
round and roll-y
Don't you want to find out what happens to this giant, out-of-control, rolling pumpkin? I know I do...every October. Another must-have, Halloween classic for your children's book shelves.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Random House Kid's Must Have Halloween Reads

Looking for that perfect Halloween book for your kiddos? Random House Kids shared a great list of their must have books for Halloween. Here's a sample of just some of the books you'll find here.

Be sure to visit Random House Kids to read the entire list, find out where you can purchase of each of these books and more. Don't forget to sign up for their free read & play newsletter, which how I heard out about this fabulous list.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Book Review: Where is Baby's Pumpkin?

Written and Illustrated by: Karen Katz
Published by: Little Simon
Release Date: August 8, 2006
Ages: Baby - Preschool
Source: Bought

Synopsis: In Karen Katz's distinctive style, an adorable baby searches throughout the house for her pumpkin. Is the pumpkin under the leaves, behind the curtain, under the bed? NO! But Baby finds many other surprises as a ghost, a witch's hat, cute-as-a-button bats, and candy apples are found beneath each flap. Finally after Baby finds her pumpkin, she's ready to go trick-or-treating and the final flap reveals a Halloween extravaganza.

I absolutely fell in love with Karen Katz' illustrations when my kids were babies and preschoolers. So much so, that there is hardly a book of hers that we didn't own. I'm so glad that this one's still being sold.

If you have a baby or a preschooler in the house, this is a perfect book to read with them. I used to tell my kids when to lift the flap (or just plain tear it off...lots of these books are gently taped up) as I read the easily told tale.

The story uses every day words like -- curtain, closet, bowls, bed and door. I loved that because I'd walk around after reading it and point out the same objects in our house. The brightly colored, happy drawings and the fuzzy feel of the cat costume makes this book a perfect gift for anyone with a baby or a preschooler.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Book Review: The Apple Pie Tree

Written by: Zoe Hall
Illustrated by: Shari Halpern
Published by: Blue Sky Press
Release Date: September 1, 1996
Age: 4-8
Source: Bought

Synopsis: The changing seasons bring a tasty surprise in this bright picture book from the author/illustrator team of It's Pumpkin Time!. Two young sisters watch in fascination as their apple tree changes, from bare in winter to bursting with pink blossoms in spring, and as robins build a nest. When autumn comes, the small green apples have grown big enough for picking--and for pie!

I adore well illustrated picture books and Shari Halpern's gorgeous paintings make Zoe Hall's story literally come to life. I know that my three kids spent a lot of their preschool, Kindergarten and first grade years learning about seasons and how they affect everything around us -- plants, animals and humans. This book is a wonderful companion to those lessons.

It starts off with a great first sentence: "My sister and I have a tree that grows the best part of apple pie. Can you guess what that is?"

Oh, I think every three year old up can guess and guess correctly. The story follows two sisters through the seasons as they watch an apple tree in their back yard grow and provide a home for birds, a place for a little waterplay and food for the nearby deer.

My kids read this every year as we head out to the orchard to pick apples and more importantly, they read it when that apple pie is in the oven. This serves as a great reminder that no, our food doesn't come from the store.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Book Review: The Night Before Halloween

Written by: Natasha Wing
Illustrated by: Cynthia Fisher
Published by: Grosset & Dunlap
Release Date: August 16, 1999
Source: Bought.
Ages: 4-8

Synopsis: "'Twas the night before Halloween, and all through the house,
All the creatures were stirring, except for the mouse.
The monsters had gathered to plan and prepare,
For the trick-or-treaters who soon would be there...."
Little monsters and goofy goblins take center stage in this silly, spooky spin on Clement C. Moore's beloved poem. But what will happen on Halloween when the monsters come face to face with human trick-or-treaters in this fun-filled book by the author of The Night Before Easter?

I have to admit that we have a TON of these books. Okay, not a ton, but at least a dozen. Who can resist the familiar rhyme made famous by Clement C. Moore's poem. We all know it and can recite it by heart.

Well, imagine a Halloween-themed version where the monsters are getting ready for trick-or-treaters to visit their house. I think I love this story as much as my kids.

Count Dracula grinned
and slicked back his hair.
Frankenstein's bride cried,
"I've nothing to wear!"

And just as the children (all tucked and nestled indeed) are going out trick-or-treating, they happen upon a real haunted house filled with actual monsters all decked out for them. I promise you the ending is far from scary and yes, it's in fact, awfully sweet.

This book was first published twelve years ago and it's still popular. Be sure to check out why by picking it up at your favorite bookstore.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Book Review: The Not-So-Scary Monster Handbook

Written and Illustrated by: Dave Ross
Published by: HarperFestival
Release Date: August 5, 2003
Source: Bought.
Ages: 4-8
Purchase: amazon | Barnes and Noble | AbeBooks

Have vampires turned your life upside down?
Are you tired of mischief-making mummies?
Fed up with Frankenstein?

If so, this book is for you!

Finally, a handy how-to guide for dealing with pesky monsters. Lift the flaps and learn where monsters play and how to send them away!

When my son was in preschool, I kept trying to find monster-friendly books for him to read during the weeks before Halloween. You see, he was the kid who would pout/cry/scream as we walked through the Halloween aisles in stores. Imagine the fun I had shopping for Halloween decorations and candy. Well, now I can laugh but then I kept thinking there has to be a way to show him the fun in all this instead of just the sheer terror.

This is the book for those kids who find monsters to be beyond frightening. The story pokes fun in a gentle and silly way reminding us that monsters are not all around us, after all. Here's a quote:

It's easy to tell if King Kong is hiding under your bed. (lift the flap)
Your nose will be touching the ceiling. (pictured is a King Kong sweet-faced monster saying "Nightey-night.")

So, if there's a kid in your house who is just plain scared of Halloween costumes, be sure to check out this book. It's out-of-print now, but the links above have it for a good price. It's worth the investment in not having to get up with a nightmarish little one this time of year.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Review: Wanda Witch and the Bullies

Written by:  Rose Impey
Illustrated by: Katharine McEwen
Published by: Cartwheel Books
Release Date: August 1, 2005
Ages: 4-8
Source: Bought.

Synopsis: When Wanda Witch arrives at school with Cat-a-Bogus, she gets picked on by Gobby-goblin and his mean brother! She turns their faces into sausages and cabbages, and they set their slimy, mean boggart cousins loose on her. But Wanda uses her very special powers to turn them all into boggart-fairies.

My kids have  a special basket by the fireplace where we put all of the current holiday books. With autumn leaves turning orange/yellow/red and Starbucks pouring my favorite drink, yes, that pumpkin spiced latte that signals "Fall is here" in my brain, my kids have placed all the Halloween/Autumn books in our special basket. Over the next few weeks, I thought I'd take a moment to review some of our favorites.

Wanda Witch and the Bullies is a Scholastic Level 3 Reader story and one that is unforunately out-of-print, however, the links above all have used copies for sale. Most of you know that October is National Bullying Prevention month and what better tale than this one for our youngest students.

Wanda wakes up with a tummy ache and her mom is too busy with the new baby to drive her to school so much to her embarassment her cat walks her to school. Once there, she's  tripped by Gobby and bullied by Gobby's brother. After school, Gobby's goblin cousins start calling her names on her walk home. And then Wanda Witch gets the greatest idea of all.

I won't spoil her solution for you, but she does devise a sweet form of retaliation -- the kind that goblins will surely dislike. I think that this book is a solid read for the month of October. It teaches kids that they should listen to an adult's instructions and well, in the face of bullies, to use the right words and walk away. It doesn't teach them the proper bullying ettiquette (i.e. to report the incident to an adult), but this does open up dialogue for the parent/caretaker reading this with the child to remind them what they should do. For me, it's a good read for my first grader especially because she has her older brother and sister close by who inevitably chirp in with the "remember to also do this..." part.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Razzle-Dazzle Ruby Giveaway!

I am excited to spot light an adorable story called Razzle-Dazzle Ruby. This is one of those fun, heart warming stories that kids and parent's alike will enjoy. You can read my 5 star review for it here.

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.

Here's a sneak peak into the adorable, whimsical world of Ruby's:

You can find out more about Razzle Dazzle Ruby by visiting the book's site here. Don't miss this fun sneak peak into the story.

About the author:

Masha D’yans is an award-winning artist. Her line of greeting cards, clothing, and home d├ęcor, featuring her alluring artwork, are sold at Target, Macy’s, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom, as well as other major retailers and smaller specialty shops. Originally from St. Petersburg, Russia, and classically trained at the St. Petersburg Academy of Art Lyceum and subsequently at Cooper Union in New York City, she now lives and works in Manhattan. Razzle-Dazzle Ruby is her first book. Vist her at .

Thank you to the Scholastic, we've got two copies to GIVEAWAY!!!

To enter, please fill out the form below:

* If you are under 13 yrs of age, you do need to have your parent's/guardian's permission before entering * 1 entry per person
* Open to residents of the US
* This giveaway ends on November 1st, 2011

Giveaway Winners!

CONGRATULATIONS to the following winners:

#18- Stephanie M

#2- Kristen
#3- Booklady

#2- Anne U
#7- Kaya H
#11- Gayahtri
#9- Beth R
#15- Justine W

#14- Melissa Clark
#22- Nancy D

Congratulations to all of our winners! All winners have been notified via email.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Book Review: The Apothecary

Illustrations by: Ian Schoenherr
Released on: October 4th, 2011
Source: ARC from publisher to review
4.5 stars: I Really Enjoyed It

It's 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows - a fascinating boy who's not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin's father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary's sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies - Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons. Discovering and testing potions they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending disaster.

Together with Ian Schoenherr's breathtaking illustrations, this is a truly stunning package from cover to cover. -quoted from Goodreads

The Apothecary is an exciting story with a beautiful blend of fiction and historical references, set in London during the early 1950's. In a world that's still reeling from WWII, Maile Meloy takes readers into a world full of spies, danger, suspense, and has a thrilling adventure laced with magic. This story's enticing plot line starts out in LA, California with young Janie and her parents and soon after the story begins follows them to London. Here Janie befriends an Apothecary's son, Benjamin and the two of them soon find themselves in the middle of a secret world full of spies, betrayal, murder, magic and danger as they race to save Benjamin's kidnapped father. The era, and the setting really set the tone for this intriguing story.

I'm a huge sucker for historical settings and events, and I was so mesmerized by the way Maile was able to blend those together with both historical and fictional events to bring her story to life. She created this exciting, suspenseful story that was believable and one I really enjoyed reading. Life in London after WWII is not all blissful, and Maile allows readers to see what life was like contrasting life in CA vs London for Janie. It was a bit of an eye opening experience for Janie, as she left behind the comforts of home and now she's moved into a run down flat with food rations, to dealing with bomb drills at school, to kid's who's parents are deemed as spies, to the suspicions that arise with foreign students. It's really whole different world for her.

There's a fabulous cast of characters from Janie, to her parents, Benjamin, his father, Pip the pick pocketer they befriend, schoolmates, the gardener and of course some great spies. Each character is written in a very realistic way, which really added to the story's "real life" feel. I really enjoyed getting to read about each of them, including Mr. Danby, who's character really surprised me. I was most intrigued by the apothecary elements of the story. I found the whole secret "underground" world that Benjamin's father is apart completing fascinating. Much of the story is centered around this.

The Apothecary is one of those well written stories that both middle and YA readers will really enjoy. It's a story that reads like watching a movie. It's enticing, exciting, and suspenseful. The magical elements of this story are very appealing and fit perfectly into the story line. The illustrations in the ARC are amazing and tie the story together perfectly. I'm really looking forward to seeing what they look like in the published copy of the book. The ending wraps up nicely, though I'm secretly hoping there will be more books in this series. I have to say the cover is a perfect fit for this story! Once you read the book, you'll know what I'm talking about. I highly recommend picking this book up. It's an awesome read!

**My review was originally posted on Mundie Moms, but since this is such a fabulous read for both YA and MG readers, I wanted to post about it on here as well.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Under The Weather

I apologize for my absence this past week, I've been feeling under the weather. I'll make up for it next week with some great reviews and I'll be posting the winners of our current giveaways!! I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

*image found on google

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Review: Halloween Surprise

By: Corrine Demas
Illustrated by: R.W. Alley
Published by: Bloomsbury Kids
Released on: July 19th, 2011
Source: book from publisher to review
Ages: 3-6
5 stars: A wonderful Halloween Treat
Purchase from: Amazon

Halloween is almost here and Lily wants to make her own costume for trick-or-treating. Should she be a scary ghost? Or maybe a roly-poly pumpkin? Perhaps a glittery princess! After many ideas and a few wrong turns, Lily finally settles on a costume that will be perfect for a Halloween surprise with her cuddly kittens.

The new book from the duo behind Valentine Surprise is sure to capture readers' hearts once again with its sweet celebration of creativity, as Lily enjoys the fun of homemade costumes and Halloween traditions.
- quoted from Goodreads

A delightful, non scary Halloween story that kids will enjoy!

This is an adorably illustrated, cute Halloween story about a young girl who, with a little help from her two cats comes up with the perfect costume for Halloween. Will she be a princess, a pirate, a ghost, a pumpkin or a ballerina. With all the endless possibilities, Lily not only uses her imagination to come up with her costume ideas, but she creates them, until at last she finds the right one. You'll have to pick up this sweet Halloween story to find out what Lily dressed up as.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Book Review: The Leaves on the Trees

By: Thom Wiley
Illustrated by: Andrew Day
Released on: July 1st, 2011
Ages: preschool aged & older
Source: book from publisher to review
4 stars: It's A Wonderful Read
Purchase from: Scholastic

The leaves in the trees are falling down in this autumn-themed 8x10 picture book!

THE LEAVES ON THE TREES revels in the sights, sounds, smells, and general feeling of the autumn leaves.

Based on the classic song, "The Wheels on the Bus," THE LEAVES ON THE TREES explores all types of trees making the magical transformation from the green leaves of summer to fascinating foliage of fall. - quoted from Goodreads

Just in time for Fall, this adorably illustrated story shows kids about the variety of brightly colored leaves that fall from the various trees around them. This is a fun story that engages kids as the story can easily be sang or read to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus. This is a great addition for any home, preschool or early elementary school classes, as kids learn more about fall, their colors and different types of leaves.
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 ~