Monday, May 20, 2013

Because I'm Your Dad by Ahmet Zappa, Book Review & Giveaway

Father's Day is just round the corner and I have the perfect book for little kids to give their Daddy's. BECAUSE I'M YOU DAD is a monsterific children's picture book, that is a really fun read!


Written By: Ahmet Zappa
Illustrated by: Dan Santat
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Released on: April 2nd, 2013
Source: book from publisher to review
4 Stars: We Enjoyed It!
Purchase it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

Because I'm your dad, you can have spaghetti for breakfast, French toast for dinner, and rocky road ice cream in the bathtub.In a text that's both playful and loving, a father expresses his hopes and dreams for a one-of-a-kind relationship with his child. Whimsical monster characters bring the silly and sweet scenes to life and keep the book universal. The book's ending, a moving tribute to the author's father, guarantees intergenerational appeal.

Because I'm your dad, I will do all of these things for you and more . . .
because that's what my dad did for me.

A fun read that fans of monsters, and Frank Zappa will enjoy. Ahmet Zappa, Frank Zappa's son, has written a heart warming, and fun book that readers of all ages will enjoy. Though the story is one that pays ode to his childhood, it's also a book that will resignate with many young readers. 

I loved that this book show cased some of the fun things Dad's do. Though my dad didn't take me pogo sticking in the mud, or allow me to have a bath in rocky road ice cream, nor did he buy me my own drum set to rock out with him, he made up games that were fun, made me some totally awesome Halloween costumes, and most importantly I knew he loved me and would protect me. All of these things are featured in this seriously cute, brightly colored picture book. Because I'm Your Dad is a book that is not just funny, and made for young kids to enjoy and laugh with, it's one that captures those heart warming moments that as a parent I look back on that I had as a kid with my Dad. 

This is a great picture book, and one I'd recommend picking up.  

About the author
Ahmet Zappa is the son of late rock musician/composer Frank Zappa and, as he puts it, "My awesome mother, Gail." Because I'm Your Dad is both a tribute to his happy childhood and a promise to his daughter, Halo. Ahmet grew up with a learning disability and now writes books to help children discover how wonderful reading can be. Through his production company, Monsterfoot Productions, Ahmet has developed several television shows and movies, including "The Odd Life of Timothy Green."

Link up!
The Giveaway!
Thank you to Disney, I have two copies of this fabulous book to giveaway. To enter, please leave a comment below telling me something you enjoyed doing with your dad. Don't forget to leave your email address as well.
- You must be 13 yrs & older to enter, under are required to have a parent/guardian's permission).


Sunday, May 19, 2013

New Books To My Shelves

Hello & Happy Sunday! It's been a long time since I've posted any sort of IMM/STS feature here on Mundie Kids, but today I thought I'd start back up again. There are a LOT of fabulous children's books coming out, and ones that have recently been released. Here are some books I've recently received for review and a few I've purchased.

Penguin Kids
Random House Kids
Mac Kids
Simon Kids
Harper Collins
Purchase from TLA (Texas Library Association) 
Thank you to Penguin Kids, Random House, Simon & Schuster, Mackids and Tor for these fabulous reads.

What children's book have you recently added to your shelves?

Friday, May 17, 2013

Book Review: Little Owl's Night by Divya Srinivasan

Written & Illustrated by: Divya Srinivasan
Published by: Penguin / Viking Juvenile
Released on: September 1st, 2011
Source: Purchased
5 Owlets: We Loved It
Purchase from: Book People *signed copies* Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

It's evening in the forest and Little Owl wakes up from his day-long sleep to watch his friends enjoying the night. Hedgehog sniffs for mushrooms, Skunk nibbles at berries, Frog croaks, and Cricket sings. A full moon rises and Little Owl can't understand why anyone would want to miss it. Could the daytime be nearly as wonderful? Mama Owl begins to describe it to him, but as the sun comes up, Little Owl falls fast asleep.

Putting a twist on the bedtime book, Little Owl's Night is sure to comfort any child with a curiosity about the night.

Little Owl's Night is an adorable bed time story that young children, or if you're a child at heart and love owls, will fall in love with. It's simplistic story telling and vivid illustrations make it easy to follow, and enjoy. Though the story isn't an exploration like I thought it would be, it is one of those lovely children's picture books that leaves a smile on your face. 

Readers will love following the night's journey with Little Owl as he flies through the forest on his way to his tree and mother, to get ready for bed. On his journey he sees his woodland friends, and takes in the night activities around him. One of my favorite things about the book besides Little Owl, was seeing all his woodland friends and what they were up to. Upon returning home, he asks his Mama about the fast approaching morning. I liked how Divya gives readers both the night life in the woods, and what transpires as the sun begins to rise. Baby owl is asleep before Mama Owl finishes her story and the sun is up, but readers get to see all the that happens as the woodland animals who are up all night head to bed and the morning animals awake.

As I mentioned above, I loved it! I'd definitely recommend this for young children. The story's text is perfect for toddler's who can't sit too long, and is easy for them to understand. The illustrations are just right for this age group as well. They've not overly detailed, and well suited for young ages with the bold colors and simple artwork. I'm not a toddler, and I thought the entire book was adorable.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Book Review: The Dark by Lemony Snicket

By: Lemony Snicket
Illustrated by: Jon Klassen
Published by: Little Brown
Released on: April 2nd, 2013
Source: book from publisher to review
5 Owlets: I LOVED It!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes &  Noble
Add it to Goodreads

This book is fabulous! I LOVED how the dark was it's own characters. Having read this to my kids whom are dealing with this same issue, they were able to see that the dark isn't as scary as they think it is. That's the message Lemony Snicket conveys in his brand new, fabulously illustrated, and well told children's book.

The Dark follows the story of young Laszlo who is afraid of the dark. One day Dark comes up staris when it's time for bed. The Dark leaves the basement during the night time, and comes to other parts of the house that he's not seen in during the day, including Laszlo's bedroom. That's when Laszlo takes his trek down to the basement, because dark asked him to. It's here that Dark helps Laszlo not be afarid anymore.

Thus begins Laszlo's journey on not being afraid of the dark, because he learns how to conquer is fear of the Dark, by learning what Dark is. I loved this book! Being a kid once I can relate to being freaked out of the dark, that was until I knew what was really there. That's the same thing I try to teach my kids. I loved the Lemony Snicket was able to conquer what I've been trying to teach my kids in one brilliantly told story. Not only is the story one most every kid can relate to, but the illustrations are great, and the story is lovely. It's not scary what so ever at all. I would highly recommend picking this one up. I'd recommend to ages all ages, but I think those maybe 4, but especially 5 and up will really identify with it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Ghost Hawk by Susan Cooper

Published by: Simon &  Schuster
To Be Released on: 8/27/13
Pre-Order from: IndieBound | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

From Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper, a story of adventure and friendship between a young Native American and a colonial New England settler.

On the winter day Little Hawk is sent into the woods alone, he can take only a bow and arrows, his handcrafted tomahawk, and the amazing metal knife his father traded for with the new white settlers. If Little Hawk survives three moons by himself, he will be a man.

John Wakely is only ten when his father dies, but he has already experienced the warmth and friendship of the nearby tribes. Yet his fellow colonists aren’t as accepting of the native people. When he is apprenticed to a barrel-maker, John sees how quickly the relationships between settlers and natives are deteriorating. His friendship with Little Hawk will put both boys in grave danger.

The intertwining stories of Little Hawk and John Wakely are a fascinating tale of friendship and an eye-opening look at the history of our nation. Newbery Medalist Susan Cooper also includes a timeline and an author’s note that discusses the historical context of this important and moving novel

Check out this seriously stunning cover! This book grabbed my attention at TLA, while I was visiting with Simon & Schuster's both. Once Chrissy started telling me about the book I was hooked! I can not wait for this book's release.  I'll be posting a review for it this summer! 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book Review: My Little Pony: Under the Sparking Sea by May Jane Begin

By: Mary Jane Begin
Published by: Little Brown
Released on: April 23rd, 2013
Source: book from publisher to review
4 Stars: We Enjoyed It!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

When Twilight Sparkle receives an invitation to visit the underwater city of Aquastria, she invites all her pony friends and Spike to travel with her. The ponies are welcomed by the ruler of Aquastria, King Leo, who sits on the Cosmic Council alongside his cousin, Princess Celestia. There is a long-held rivalry between the seaponies and the mermares. The two groups compete each year in a race for the grand prize, which is a beautiful pearl. Join the ponies and Spike as they confront danger, make new friends and race to the finish in this shimmering new world! This gorgeous illustrated picture book features a brand-new My Little Pony underwater adventure, and includes an exclusive art poster!

What a fabulous book for fans of My Little Pony. Perfect for fans who grew up as My Little Pony fans, and even more fitting for the new fans, Under the Sparking Sea is one exciting under sea adventure. When the Ponys receive an invitation from their cousin, the King Leo, who's ruler of Aquastria, to join him for the Annual Aquastria Races, Twilight Sparkle can't wait to go. 

Having grown up a My Little Pony fan, I loved that this story took place under the Ocean with the Pony's cousins. Staying true to all My Little Pony stories, there's a great message about helping others and friendship in this book. My little girl was so excited about this book. Not only is the story good, but the illustrations are amazing. As in BEAUTIFUL! I've not been a big fan of the "newer" My Little Pony look, but Mary Jane Begin made me love the way she illustrated the ponies in this book. 

This exciting Undersea My Little Pony adventure is a must read for fans of My Little Pony. There's even a poster included (in the back of the book). I will say I don't think those 5 and under would enjoy it as much as those who are a little bit older. I think the story might be a little too long for some to sit that long, though they may love the illustrations. 

Recently I had the privilege of being apart of Little Brown's blog tour for May Jane Begin's newest release. You can see how Mary Jane does them here.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Celebrate Children's Book Week May 13th-19th

I love that there is an entire week devoted to spreading the love of Children's Books! CBC (Children's Book Council) has kicked off their Celebrate Children's Book Week today and I'm excited to take part in this. This week you'll see an influx of children's book reviews from a variety of different levels. From picture books, to chapter books, and middle grade books series. Join in the children's book love & grab your digital tool kit stuff here.

Each review featured this week to promote and take part in Children's Book Week will feature this at the end of it's review:

Happy Reading!

Storming the Castle Blog Tour: Character Intro / Giveaway

Happy Marvelous Middle Grade Monday! Today I'm thrilled to be the next stop in Walden Pond Press's Storming the Castle blog tour! Today's stop features one of my favorite characters, SNOW!

6. Snow
Occupation: Princess, weaver of potholders
Known Allies: Frank and the Sylvarian Dwarfs
Kingdom of Origin: Yondale
Current Residence: Woodland Estate, Sylvaria
Parents: Kind Edwyn of Yondale (mother deceased, name unknown)
Longtime Foes: Mosquitos (the only animal Snow professes to hate)
Likes: Arts & crafts, apples, flute musicDislikes: Failed craft projects, poison apples, too much flute music
Signature Move: The Sure-Shot Sidearm-Fling
Quote: “Hello, Thursday Bird. I hope you had a wonderful Wednesday.”
Little Known Fact: While sewing her own clothing (everything she wears is her own creation), she dips often into her Bow Bin—a wooden bin filled to the brim with over seven thousand bows.

Here's a little bit about the sequel to one of my favorite MG series, Storming the Castle.

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You remember them, don't you? They're the Princes Charming who finally got some credit after they stepped out of the shadows of their princesses - Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, and Briar Rose - to defeat an evil witch bent on destroying all their kingdoms. 

But alas, such fame and recognition only last so long. And when the princes discover that an object of great power might fall into any number of wrong hands, they are going to have to once again band together to stop it from happening - even if no one will ever know it was they who did it. 

Christopher Healy, author of the acclaimed The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, takes us back to the hilariously fractured fairy-tale world he created for another tale of medieval mischief. Magical gemstones, bladejaw eels, a mysterious Gray Phantom, and two maniacal warlords bent on world domination - it's all in a day's work for the League of Princes

Published by: Walden Pond Press
Released on: April 30th, 2013
Purchase it from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Series: The League of Princes #2
Add it to Goodreads

The Giveaway:
 Storming the Castle Giveaway: The first THREE entrants today will receive signed copies of THE HERO’S GUIDE TO STORMING THE CASTLE and EVERYONE who enters is eligible to win a $200 gift card to the bookstore of his or her choice. You will need this SECRET CODE to enter the giveaway: Prince Charming. Enter here.

Don't miss the Twitter chat happening on June 3rd with author Christopher Healy & Marissa Meyer!  Follow #talesretold and join the 9 pm EST chat happening live! Giveaways will be had!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Loki's Wolves Blog Tour: Guest Post & Giveaway with Kelley Armstrong / Melissa Marr

One of the things I love about Middle Grade books is when two of my favorite YA (young adult) authors team up and create a middle grade series! Power house authors Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr have done just that, and today I'm thrilled to be apart of Little Brown's blog tour to promote their newest release, LOKI'S WOLVES.

“The runes have spoken. We have our champion…Matthew Thorsen.”

Matt hears the words, but he can’t believe them. He’s Thor’s representative? Destined to fight trolls, monstrous wolves and giant serpents…or the world ends? He’s only thirteen.

While Matt knew he was a modern-day descendent of Thor, he’s always lived a normal kid’s life. In fact, most people in the small town of Blackwell, South Dakota, are direct descendants of either Thor or Loki, including Matt’s classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke. No big deal.

But now Ragnarok is coming, and it’s up to the champions to fight in the place of the long-dead gods. Matt, Laurie, and Fen’s lives will never be the same as they race to put together an unstoppable team, find Thor’s hammer and shield, and prevent the end of the world.

In their middle grade debut, K.L. Armstrong and M.A. Marr begin the epic Blackwell Pages series with this action-packed adventure, filled with larger-than-life legends, gripping battles, and an engaging cast of characters who bring the myths to life. (quote from Kelley's website)

Today it's an honor to have both Kelley and Melissa on Mundie Kids to talk about their character Owen, and the God ODIN.

The descendants of Frey and Freya, Balder, and the great god Odin. They will come, and they will fight alongside our champion.

– Loki’s Wolves, page 63

Owen is a character we don't know a whole lot about in book 1, are you able to tell us a little bit more about what his role will be like in book 2?

Melissa: The second book is called ODIN’S RAVENS, so he’s definitely more present. He is the 4th character to have point of view. (I write him, Fen, and Laurie; Kelley writes Matt.)

Without getting into spoilers, I will say that we come to understand why he isn’t around in the first book and part of the second book; we also learn the secrets he’s known but been unable to share so far. His ravens, Thought and Memory, are also present in the second book—especially when Owen himself is away from the rest of the kids.

Owen is a descendent of Odin, one of the Gods featured in Loki's Wolves, in what way are these two most alike? What is one thing both of these characters can learn from each other, if anything?

Melissa: The characters won’t learn much from the gods themselves as the gods are dead.  Owen, however, is like Matt and Fen in that he was raised knowing about his great ancestor. (Laurie, Ray, Reyna, and Baldwin were unaware of their heritage.) He’s been aware of his future-seeing, of the ravens, and of the coming war. It’s made him more somber than the other kids, much like it did with the god. In the myths, that’s one of the reasons cited to explain why he’s drawn to Loki.  How that detail will play out in the books is explored further in the next book.

When you were creating Owen's character for the overall series, was it easy for you or a little challenging to write about the similarities he and Odin have? Where did you get your inspiration from in creating both of their characters?

Melissa: Writing Owen was challenging because he sees the future (Odin is often called the All-Father). Trying to make a character accessible without spoilering madly is hard. Fortunately, it was not completely unfamiliar: in the Wicked Lovely series, the queen of Faerie (Sorcha) is also able to see the future.  Owen was harder to write than Sorcha though because of his age.

The hardest part of writing Owen was that he has to endure one of Odin’s sacrifices. I won’t spoil it, but if you know the stories, you know what he loses. That was one of the trickiest things I’ve had to write because I know the series is for younger readers. I needed to include it, but I didn’t want to be graphic.

The inspiration for his character—aside from the myths—derives from his future-seeing: He’s lonely and under great pressures. His only “friends” (and they really are more support than friends) are the Berserkers, who use a modified type of parkour as the basis for their fight style.  As such, Owen’s appearance is influenced by the sort of fashions one can associate with parkour.

Thank you to Little Brown, Kelley Armstrong and Melissa Marr for stopping by Mundie Kids today!

For more information about the book, check out The Blackwell Pages website.  
Tuesday, May 7 –  Bookalicious featuring Ragnarök
Wednesday, May 8 – Mundie Kids featuring Odin
Thursday, May 9 – Novel Thoughts featuring Thor
Friday, May 10 – Charlotte's Library featuring Freya 
Saturday, May 11 – Bewitched Bookworms featuring Loki

Purchase the Book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound
Add it to Goodreads
Read the 1st two chapters

About The Blackwell Pages series from the publisher:
The Blackwell Pages combines Norse mythology, magic and adventure, and is perfect for Percy Jackson fans. There are so many kids that don't know where to turn after Rick Riordan's series and we're so excited that Melissa and Kelley created this original, larger-than-life adventure. Melissa and Kelley did a ton of research for this trilogy and were actually inspired to write it for their preteen sons. 

About The Authors:

Kelley Armstrong has been telling stories since before she could write. Her earliest written efforts were disastrous. If asked for a story about girls and dolls, hers would invariably feature undead girls and evil dolls, much to her teachers' dismay. All efforts to make her produce "normal" stories failed.

Today, she continues to spin tales of ghosts and demons and werewolves, while safely locked away in her basement writing dungeon. She's the author of the NYT-bestselling "Women of the Otherworld" paranormal suspense series and "Darkest Powers" young adult urban fantasy trilogy, as well as the Nadia Stafford crime series. Armstrong lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, kids and far too many pets. (quoted from Goodreads)

Follow Kelley via her: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr 

Melissa Marr grew up believing in faeries, ghosts, and various other creatures. After teaching college literature for a decade, she applied her fascination with folklore to writing. 

Follow Melissa via her: Website | Twitter 

The Giveaway:
Thank you to Little Brown, I have a copy of Loki's Wolves to giveaway! To enter, please fill out the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 6, 2013

Book Reviews: Pop Culture Books for Tweens; 100% Justin Bieber, Just Getting Started

By: Justin Bieber
Published by: Harper Collins Childrens
Released on: 9/13/12
Source: book from publisher to review
3 Owlets: It's A Good Read
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
"My story is something I like to share with others, to show people that with enough belief in yourself and what you can accomplish, anything is possible."—Justin Bieber
From Tel Aviv to Tokyo, over the past few years I've traveled around the world and back again. It's been amazing, but it's also hard to believe that not so long ago I was singing on the streets of Stratford, Ontario. I can honestly say that anything is possible, anyone can live the dream, and every day is a blessing.
Now everywhere I go, I'm met with so much love. It's all about you, my fans, and that's why I'm dedicating my book to everyone who's come to sing along. I want to share the stories of my life on the road with you. From the crazy highs of performing on stage to spending those precious quiet moments with my friends and family, I want to give you a personal backstage pass to my world. It's been exhausting but always eye-opening and amazing.
I know, you're probably shocked to see another pop culture book review on here. Believe me, I am. Really I wasn't going to post a review for this book, because I'm not a big Justin Bieber fan, and thankfully neither are my kids. So you're probably wondering why I even reviewed the book right? Sometimes my curiosity gets the better of me, and I want to know more about the person the media loves to rip apart, which I don't care for them either. 

While reading this book with a very closed mind, I realized I'm being judgemental toward a kid, an artist I really don't know much about other than the gossip I hear from the kids I talk to at the school and church, who all say Justin Beiber isn't much of role model, or they don't really care for him anymore. It's true no one is perfect, and you can't hear or believe everything you see/read in the news. I realized my thoughts towards Justin stem from hearing such stuff. There's always more to a person than what you see on TV or read about from the new stands. 

In reviewing this book, I learned things about Justin. One, this kid must have endless amount of energy. He has literally been all over the world. I don't know how he does it. Two, his mom keeps him grounded. Three, he has an incredible fanbase. Four, his mentor was Michael Jackson, and who doesn't love MJ. When I was growing up, that's when MJ was big, and yes, I adored him. One of the things that stood out the most to me is something neat that Justin does. In EVERY city he visits, he always tries to see at least one MAKE A WISH child! ONE. How awesome is that?! On page 56, he says,

"During the North American leg of the tour, I did 86 cities and tried to see a Wish kid at each stop along the way. A couple of hours of my time is just a small gesture I can make to give back to others, something I really love to do. It is sad and somethings really hard to see so many sick kids, but it is also motivational to see how they don't let their diseases get to them and how strong they are to be in the fight for their lives."

Wow! His mama sure raised him right, and two, WOW! This kid knows how to give back. What a great example he is to giving back. I for one can't even imagine what it's like to travel to 86 cities. I go away from traveling one city and I'm tired, but 86 is crazy. In the midst of that craziness he still makes it out visit a fan or two. Though I'm still not a fan, now I'm starting to sound like my Mom who couldn't stand my obsession with New Kids on the Block back in the day when they were big, I've got to give to a kid who can do all he can, and for the most part keep his head on straight. Now if I had read/reviewed this book during my tween years, I might have loved this book. This is one book that's being donated to my kids's school library, because these type of books don't stay on the shelves for long there. I'd definitely recommend this to those who are fans of Justin Bieber. 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Book Reviews: Pop Culture Books for Tweens; ONE DIRECTION

Oh yes, we all remember those must have books we had to have that featured our favorite tween bands or actors. Well more like magazines like Tiger Beat and those "must have" magazines, since books like this weren't around when I was a tween (back before wheels were invented). Now a days those teen bopper magazines have been replaced with tween books like the ones featured below. Two I can see why tweens love one and one I'm, um, well not so sure about, and I think that has to do with my not being a fan of him. 

By: One Direction
Published by: Harper Collins
Released on: August 1st, 2012
Source: book from publisher to review
4 Stars: We Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

One Direction are the biggest band on the planet. Celebrate their story with this official guide crammed full of exclusive interviews and never-seen-before photos.

Published by: Harper Collins
Released on: October 16th, 2012
Source: book from publisher to review
4 Stars: We Enjoyed It
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

Go behind the scenes with One Direction in this scrapbook, filled with never-before-seen pictures!

Packed with tell-all interviews, behind-the-scenes information, and fantastic full-color photographs, the first One Direction Scrapbook tells the story of the boys just starting out on the road to fame. Get to know each of the boys, and the group as a whole, as they start on tour and get accustomed to rock-star life!

One Direction is a British/Irish boy band who rose to fame after their appearance on the UK's The X Factor. Together Zayn, Niall, Liam, Harry, and Louis have been touring the globe and recording hit albums

ONE DIRECTION. I'll admit, I didn't give much attention to them until I received the books in the mail from Harper Collins. After reading through these two books, I can see why they have such a large following. They seem like genuinely nice, down to earth guys, who can also sing! Okay not to mention they're cute, and hail from the England & Ireland. Every young girls dream right? Yes, since reading through these books I have downloaded at least one of their songs off iTunes, and have listened to a few of their others ones. Before you judge them or me, their songs aren't bad at all. 

These two books are definitely MUST HAVES for ONE DIRECTION fans. You get to know these 5 fab guys just a little bit more with their behind the scenes and a year with the band books. From exclusives pictures, interviews, Q&A, fan quizzes, fans get a peek into a day in the lives of these guys. Each books offer fans a personal glimpse into Harry, Liam, Zayn, Louis and Niall's life in the band, and what these guys like. If you're a fan of ONE DIRECTION, you'll definitely want to pick up these two books. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Caldecott Honor Award Book Review: Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett

This past weekend while I was in Fort Worth I was able to spend a few hours at TLA on Saturday. If you've been to TLA you know that Saturday is the day publishers sell off all their extra books, and giveaway any arcs they have left. I feel so lucky to have been able to purchase to amazing picture books for a steal of a deal. Both of these books have won the Caldecott Honor Award and for good reason. I HIGHLY recommend adding Extra Yarn and BLACKOUT to your class room, library or home list of must have books! 

By: Mac Barnett
Illustrated by: Jon Klassen
Published by: Harper Collins Childrens
Released on: January 17th, 2012
Source: purchased from publisher at TLA '13
5 Owlets: I LOVED IT!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

This looks like an ordinary box full of ordinary yarn.

But it turns out it isn't.

I love this book! I swear this book was written for me. From the story to the illustrations, everything about this book beautiful. What an adorable, heart warming story. Young Annabelle finds a small wooden box and in that box is some magic yarn. Annabelle is able to not just knit a sweeter for herself and her pet, but the entire town, it's houses, and even for the woodland animals. Annabelle's actions don't go missed. She not only brings color to her town, she does something for everyone who lives in her small wooded town. I loved Annabelle. I loved her even more for the answer she gives a certain someone when she's offered a lot of money for her wooden box and her magic yarn.

This story is seriously one of the best illustrated children's books I've read/looked at in a long time. Not only does it provide a great story with a heartwarming message, and show case some adorable illustrations that I would totally frame, this story has provided priceless moments my little girl and I as we have spent countless time reading Annabelle's story, and looking through every illustration in this book. Extra Yarn has quickly become a household favorite. This is one book I'd highly recommend adding to  your home library, classrooms and school libraries. It's a book that's staying on my shelves for a long time to come.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Caldecott Honor Award Book Review: BLACKOUT by John Rocco

This past weekend while I was in Fort Worth I was able to spend a few hours at TLA on Saturday. If you've been to TLA you know that Saturday is the day publishers sell off all their extra books, and giveaway any arcs they have left. I feel so lucky to have been able to purchase to amazing picture books for a steal of a deal. Both of these books have won the Caldecott Honor Award and for good reason. I HIGHLY recommend adding Extra Yarn and Blackout to your class room, library or home list of must have books! 

Illustrated by: John Rocco
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Released on: May 24th, 2011
Source: purchased from publisher at TLA
4 Owlets: We Really Enjoyed It!
Purchase from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Add it to Goodreads

One hot summer night in the city, all the power goes out. The TV shuts off and a boy wails, "Mommm!" His sister can no longer use the phone, Mom can't work on her computer, and Dad can't finish cooking dinner. What's a family to do? When they go up to the roof to escape the heat, they find the lights--in stars that can be seen for a change--and so many neighbors it's like a block party in the sky! On the street below, people are having just as much fun--talking, rollerblading, and eating ice cream before it melts. The boy and his family enjoy being not so busy for once. They even have time to play a board game together. When the electricity is restored, everything can go back to normal . . . but not everyone likes normal. The boy switches off the lights, and out comes the board game again.

Using a combination of panels and full bleed illustrations that move from color to black-and-white and back to color, John Rocco shows that if we are willing to put our cares aside for a while, there is party potential in a summer blackout

What a great story with equally great illustrations. On a warm night one family who doesn't realize how plugged into other things they are vs spending time together as a family, is reminded of all the family fun they can have together when they are unplugged, all thanks to a black out that rolls through their city. With the lights off the family is free from distractions and decides to take their fun to their roof, where they star gaze. When other families start heading out doors the party is taking to the streets. When the lights come back on later that night, the family decides to keep them off and enjoy their time together, free from the hustle and bustle of daily responsibilities and electronic distractions. 

I loved the message of the story, because it is easy to forget sometimes that the "other" things going on around us aren't what matters, but the time we spend together as a family does. We really enjoyed the story's bold illustrations. They themselves illustrate the story perfectly. The hues and color tones set the mood and really brought this story to life. Over all it's a fabulous book! I can see why it won it's well deserved award. This is one book I'm glad I picked up. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Review: Possum Magic by Mem Fox

By: Mem Fox
Illustrated by: Julie Vivas
Published by: Sandpiper / Scholastic 
Released on (originally): 9/15/91, reviewed edition is the 30th Anniversary Edition
Source: gifted
4 Owlets: We Really Enjoyed It!
Purchase from: AmazonBarnes & Noble
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Grandma Poss uses her best bush magic to make Hush invisible. But when Hush longs to be able to see herself again, the two possums must make their way across Australia to find the magic food that will make Hush visible once more. “Another treat from Mem Fox that is sure to be treasured. The whimsical illustrations are a wonderful complement.”--Children’s Book Review Service

I love reading books from other countries, and this is one that's quickly become a huge hit in our house, thank you to a friend of mine from Australia. Sadly I hadn't even heard of this book until I received, but now that it's become part of our collection of picture books, it's one that's been read more than a few times.

Possum Magic follows the story of two possums, Grandma Poss and Hush, whom live in the Australian Bush. Prior to the start of the story Grandma Poss made Hush invisible to protect her from harm. Seeing as they live in the Bush, there are a lot of predators around them. As Hush begins to become curious about what she looks like, Grandma Poss can't find the recipe to turn her back, thus begins the journey of Grandma Poss and Hush traveling around Australia to find the perfect ingredients they need in order for Hush to be visible again. 

Not only is this story cute, the illustrations are amazing! I love the water colors and being able to share with my children, artwork of various animals native to Australia. I have to point out what a great job the illustrator, Julie Vivas did in showing Hush as invisible. My kids loved watching her become visible again. Possum Magic is a story we've really enjoyed reading. I don't know if there's much of a difference between the original story and the 30th Anniversary one I was given or not, but either way this is one story I wish I had discovered long ago. 
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 ~