Tuesday, January 31, 2017

IF I HAD A LITTLE DREAM by Nina Laden / Book Review

By: Nina Laden
Illustrated by: Melissa Castrillon
Published by: Paula Wisemen Books (Simon & Schuster)
To Be Released on: February 7th, 2017
Ages: 4 & up
Purchase from: Simon & Schuster | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - We Loved It
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Nina Laden’s warm and lyrical picture book sees and appreciates through a child’s eyes how fortunate we are to live in the world we do.

Celebrate the wonder of the world in this reassuring picture book about the joy, love, and beauty that is part of each and every day. Our world is full of possibilities if you look for them.

A wonderful mix of heartfelt writing and whimsical illustrations, we loved this book.

Heartwarming rhyming, and whimsical illustrations capture the joy, wonder and love that exists within the world around us. This book is like a old soul. It's a perfect reminder to enjoy the wonder that exists around us daily, no matter how old we are. Mixed with beautiful illustrations, we not only loved reading this book (and have read it many times since it arrived), we've enjoyed searching each pages illustrations for treasures hidden on each page's illustrations. This is a touching, heartfelt, sweet, read. It's one we'd highly recommend picking up. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

LET'S PRETEND WE NEVER MET by Melissa Walker / Author Interview

I am so thrilled to have Melissa Walker, author of the upcoming release, Let's Pretend We Never Met, on the blog today. Recently Harper Collins revealed the cover for her book, and it's adorable! Yes, I would totally pick up this book based on the cover alone. Melissa is here to talk about this adorable cover.

Melissa's Thoughts On the Cover

Photo credit: Jolene Siana

When my editor and I started talking about the cover for Let’s Pretend We Never Met, we agreed totally on what some of our favorite recent Middle Grade covers have been. A few examples are Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu, Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead and The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando (all books I love the insides of too, btw). 

With these images, I wrote this to my editor about what I was thinking: “Illustrated, somewhere between twee/cute and literary, feels right to me. Something with girls, somehow conveying both a friendship vibe and a hesitation/wedge…”

Looking back on those words, I think the illustrator, Lucy Truman (lucytruman.com), nailed it. I loved her sketches from the beginning. Here are a few versions where we hadn’t quite sorted out the colors. The first one is a rough sketch and the other two are with color schemes we were considering. They played with the font a little too, but we all decided we liked the original font best.

The girls—Mattie and Agnes—were always right on. Agnes, the blonde new friend next-door, is in her own kooky world, unconcerned what people think of her. Mattie, the brunette main character, is nervous, biting her lip. Worrying about being judged for her friendship with Agnes. This is all so well conveyed!

I wanted the colors to be more muted than the versions I saw, and so the art department at HarperCollins was completely wonderful and went back to do more. Finally we ended up with the final cover, with these colors that feel fun and bold and refined to me all at once. I love where we ended up, and I hope readers do too!

Thanks for hosting me!


By: Melissa Walker
Published by: Harper Collins
To Be Released on: June 13, 2017
Pre-Order from: Publisher | IndieBound | B&N | Amazon 

If it were up to Mattie Markham, there would be a law that said your family wasn’t allowed to move in the middle of the school year. After all, sixth grade is hard enough without wondering if you’ll be able to make new friends or worrying that the kids in Pennsylvania won’t like your North Carolina accent.

But when Mattie meets her next-door neighbor and classmate, she begins to think maybe she was silly to fear being the “new girl.” Agnes is like no one Mattie has ever met—she’s curious, hilarious, smart, and makes up the best games. If winter break is anything to go by, the rest of the school year should be a breeze.

Only it isn’t, because when vacation ends and school starts, Mattie realizes something: At school Agnes is known as the weird girl who no one likes. All Mattie wants is to fit in (okay, and maybe be a little popular too), but is that worth ending her friendship with Agnes?


“Mattie Markham is sweet and winning, very real, and a sixth-grade heroine. Add this book to your treasure shelf.” 
- Natalie Standiford, author of The Secret Tree

“A heartwarming and completely charming story about moving on, growing up, and being yourself.” 
- Sarah Mlynowski, New York Times bestselling author of the Whatever After series


Melissa Walker is the author of Ashes to AshesUnbreak My HeartSmall Town SinnersLovestruck Summer, and the Violet on the Runway series. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

Author LINKS: Twitter | Website | Facebook 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

THIS BOOK IS MAGIC by Ashley Evanson / Book Review

Written and Illustrated By: Ashley Evanson
Published by: Penguin Young Readers 
Released on: January 17th, 2017 
Ages: 3-7
Pages: 32
Purchase from: PenguinAmazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - We Loved It!
A copy of this book was provided from the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Make some magic in this colorful, interactive picture book from the author/illustrator of the Hello, World board book series!

Do you know that you’re a magician? In this interactive book, use your fingers to perform all kinds of magic tricks. Tap a hat to make a bunny appear, recite a spell to make books bigger, say “Gone-zo!” to make a ship disappear, and much more. But beware: the clever magic tricks don’t always turn out the way you’d expect! 

Reminiscent of HervĂ© Tullet’s Press Here, kids—and adults!—are sure to want to read this book again and again as they perfect their magic skills.

A fantastic interactive book for kids. Lots of laughs, and imaginative magic are in store. Perfect for reading out loud, this book requires the use of magical words like "Abracadabra! and Shazam!", imaginative, fun participation. 

I wish I had, had this book back when I taught pre-school. It's perfect for preschool and kindergarten classrooms. This book is great for toddlers, through kindergarten age kids. Though I'll be honest, I read this with my elementary school aged daughter, and we both have fun reading it. 

We definitely recommend picking this book up! 

*items featured are not included with book purchase*

This book would also make a great gift paired with a magic wand, and some playing cards. You can also have a fun interactive story time with this book, and a few magical wands, and a top hat.

Friday, January 20, 2017

STAR WARS Book Reviews: Galactic Maps: An Illustrated Atlas of the Star Wars Universe / Rogue One: Rebel Dossier-Info & Intel on the Rebellion's Bravest Band of Spies / Rogue One: Color Book

You've seen the movie, and now you can relive the action, suspense, and all things that make a great Star Wars movie, with these recent releases from Disney/Lucas Film Press. 

By: Lucas Film Book Group
Published by: Disney Press
Released on: 12/20/16
Ages: 8 & up
Pages: 80
Purchase from: DisneyAmazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - We Loved It
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for my honest review

Learn about all of the various planets of the Star Wars universe with Galactic Maps! With detailed maps showing the different worlds and characters, this is the perfect book for any avid Star Wars reader. Fans will be delighted to find a spread introducing them to the planet and characters featured in Rogue One!

This book is a must have for Star Wars fans. Filled with various maps of the entire Star Wars universe, fans will enjoy a detailed look into each of the worlds they've come to love. Also featured on the maps are the characters who came from each world. We absolutely love having this book in our in home library and apart of our Star Wars book collection. 

By: Jason Fry
Published by: Disney Press
Released on: 12/16/16
Ages: 9 & up
Purchase fromDisney | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for my honest review

A Rebel Dossier for Rogue One.

Great for fans for who have seen the movie, this book is everything you want and need to know about the movie, in book form. With pictures, and descriptions written in intel-form, readers will feel like they're getting a look inside classified Rogue One information. This book is one even reluctant readers will want to pick up. 

By: Disney Book Group 
Published by: Disney Editions
Released on: 12/16/16
Ages: 9 & up
Purchase fromDisney | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for my honest review

Bring the new galactic adventure to life with this coloring book for young adults and adults that includes scenes and characters from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

This is another must have book for Star Wars fans. With hours of coloring fun, this is a Star Wars book you can't go wrong on owning. The pages are very detailed, and are perfect for Star Wars fans of all ages. This book also makes the perfect 'adult' coloring book.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

WHEN YOU'RE FEELING SICK by Coy Bowles / Blog Tour: Book Review

By: Coy Bowles

Illustrated by: Andy Elkerton
Published by: Random House Kids
Released on: January 10th, 2017
Ages: 3 & up
Rating: 3 Owlets - It's a Good Read
Purchase from: The PublisherAmazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher, in exchange for my honest review

This laugh-out-loud picture book from Coy Bowles, guitarist for the Grammy Award–winning Zac Brown Band, will have sick kids feeling better in no time!

Sneezing? Coughing? Taking a sick day? Don’t worry, you’ll be feeling better soon thanks to this hilarious picture book from Coy Bowles, guitarist of the Grammy Award–winning Zac Brown Band. Full of encouraging—and super-silly—rhyming advice on how to face sick days with courage and a positive attitude, When You’re Feeling Sick is just what the doctor ordered! Comes with a sheet of stickers to bring a smile to every sick kid’s face.

A fun, cute book that will uplift the spirits of sick kids. Full of fun illustrations, rhymes, and silliness, this book will be a much needed distraction for sick kids. It's a fun interactive read as well. Ironically enough, it's one that I read with my daughter when she wasn't feeling well. It definitely earned a few laughs from her. 

Music definitely makes everything better. We may have laughed at the 'Sickness Song', 

"I feel sick and I feel poopy. 

All this medicine makes me feel loopy. 
So, sickness, sickness go away, 
Don't come again another day!"

Coy, who's apart of the Zac Brown Band, also has wrote & recored two songs that go along with this book. You can find both the songs here. We highly recommend checking them out. 

Written to bring hope, and happiness to kids when they're ill, Coy hit his mark with this book. I think this book is great for young kids, especially toddler and earlier elementary school aged kids. Coy also includes an author's note at the end of this book, and talks about the inspiration behind this story. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Watch Free on Amazon (TODAY): An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win #MLKDay

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Amazon will be airing an original special for FREE. Their AN AMERICAN GIRL STORY - MELODY 1963 will be free TODAY, only, for all to watch. Please read what Amazon shared with us, below:

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Amazon Original Special An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win will be free to stream on Prime Video in the US beginning today and ending at 11:59 p.m. PST on Monday, January 16; no Prime membership required. 

The first of four original American Girl specials for Prime Video stars Marsai Martin(Black-ish) as the title character Melody, Frances Fisher (Titanic) as Miss Abbot, Frankie Faison (The Wire) as Melody’s grandfather Frank Ellison, and Idara Victor (TURN: Washington’s Spies) as Melody’s mother Frances Ellison. Executive produced by Alison McDonald (Roots), Oscar winner Common’s Freedom Road Productions, and Christopher Keenan and Melinda McCrocklin from American Girl, the special is directed and produced by Tina Mabry (Mississippi Damned, Queen Sugar). 

Based in 1963 Detroit during the civil rights movement, An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win centers around 10-year-old Melody whose eyes are opened to the racial inequality surrounding her, including the 1963 Birmingham Church Bombing. As a result, her belief in the “indivisible” promise of our country’s Pledge of Allegiance comes into question as she challenges her teacher on the validity of this given the horrific tragedy. After an emotional journey of self-reflection, her mother gives her the courage she needs by instilling in her that love brings out the best in everyone; reminding Melody that it’s important to “stand up for what’s right, even when it’s hard or scary.”

An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win recently received 2 NAACP Image Award nominations, including Outstanding Children’s Program and Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture, Television (Alison McDonald). The series also garnered a Directors Guild of America nomination for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Children’s Programming (Tina Mabry). Additionally, the special is a Humanitas Prize Finalist in the Children’s Live Action Category (Alison McDonald).

The Amazon Original Special has an average customer rating of 4.7 stars. Here is what customers have been saying:

  • “My children and I LOVED this…it included history, challenge and determination to overcome injustice, family, friendships, great music!”
  • “It provides a great lesson in the power of humanity and the need to believe in one's dreams.”
  • “The main character is brave, compassionate, resourceful, and courageous. My girls loved her character.”
  • “Great to see diversity on amazon. They're breaking barriers and dispelling fear. We are all human, we all belong, and together we are at our greatest.”

An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win is part of Prime Video’s growing line-up of award-winning and critically-acclaimed Originals for kids and families. Amazon Original Series and Specials are available to stream and enjoy using the Amazon Video app for compatible TVs, connected devices, including Amazon Fire TV and mobile devices, or online at www.amazon.com/originals, at no additional cost to their membership. Prime members can also download select titles to mobile devices for offline viewing. Eligible customers who are not already Prime members can sign up for a free trial at www.amazon.com/prime. For a list of all Amazon Video compatible devices, visit www.amazon.com/howtostream

An American Girl Story—Melody 1963: Love Has to Win is also available as part of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, the all-you-can-eat subscription service designed from the ground up for kids. FreeTime Unlimited is available exclusively on Amazon devices, including Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets, and a year-long subscription is included with every Fire Kids Edition.

*Images and post content are courtesy of Amazon, and used with their permission.

Friday, January 13, 2017

PENGUINS LOVE COLORS by Sara Aspinall / Book Review

By: Sarah Spinall 
Published by: Blue Sky Press
Released on: November 26th, 2016
Ages: 4 & up
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 4 Owlets - We Enjoyed 

With colors as bright as sunshine, six little penguins paint a bold, cheerful surprise for Mama Penguin on a beautiful snowy-white landscape.

Mama loves brightly colored flowers and her little penguins too! Tulip, Tiger Lily, Dandelion, Bluebell, Violet and Broccoli use red, orange, yellow, blue, purple, and green to color in their snowy world and paint a colorful surprise for Mama. Will she know who painted what? Of course she will! But will YOU know?

Simple language and arresting, graphic illustrations introduce readers to the six primary and secondary colors and the adorable antics of six creative little penguins. A lively text, asking children to participate by answering questions, makes this an engaging, heartwarming story that is perfect for bedtime, story time, or anytime.

A fun, colorful, and engaging picture book for toddlers. 

PENGUINS LOVE COLORS is fun way for kids to learn the colors of the rainbow. I really liked the way Aspinall uses the penguins, and their names to help kids identify them with each color of the rainbow. Aspinall definitely knows her targeted reader audience. Her illustrations, and narration are engaging. The illustrations are colorful, and fun. Plus, what's not cute about penguins?! Especially ones who love to draw cute, colorful pictures for their mom. 

This is a great book to pick up if you're teaching colors to your child. It's also great for pre-school, and kindergarten classrooms. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

MY PEN by Christopher Myers / Book Review

By: Christopher Myers
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Released on: March 10th, 2015
Ages: 4 & up
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets - We Loved It

My pen rides dinosaurs
and hides an elephant in a teacup.
What can your pen do?

Acclaimed author and illustrator Christopher Myers uses rich black-and-white illustrations to bring a sketchbook to life, showing that with a simple pen, a kid can do anything!

Imagination is priceless. Myers's book is proof that when you have a pen, the possibilities of storytelling through art, are endless. Anything can become a picture. There is now end to imagination. Anything is possible. I love the creative message Myers shares in his book, as much as I did the illustrations. This book is like getting a sneak peak into Myer's sketchbook. 

"There are a million pens in the world, and each one has a million worlds inside it. So if you have a pen, see what you can do- let those worlds inside your pen out!"

Monday, January 9, 2017

WE FORGOT BROCK! by Carter Goodrich / Book Review

By: Carter Goodrich
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Released on: August 25th, 2015
Ages: 4 & up
Purchase from: Simon & Schuster | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 4 Owlets - We Enjoyed It
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

The importance of imaginary friends is very real in this picture book adventure from the author of Say Hello to Zorro! and lead character designer for Despicable MeFinding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc.

Phillip and Brock are best friends. Everyone can see Phillip, but only Phillip can see Brock.

A night at the Big Fair is all fun and games until Phillip gets sleepy, heads home, and forgets Brock!

Brock misses Phillip. And Phillip misses Brock. Will they reunite? With the help of another pair of pals, they just might. Because even imaginary friends get lost sometimes. Finding them is part of the adventure.

Really cute story, with equally cute illustrations. This story is one that's full of friendship, imagination, heart, and adventure. Goodrich has captured the essence of childhood in both his story telling and illustration. Kids, and old readers who are kids at heart will enjoy this heartwarming story. We'd recommend this one to picture book readers of all ages. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

ONE SNOWY NIGHT by M. Christina Butler / Book Review

By: M. Christina Butler
Illustrated by: Tina Macnaughton
Published by: Good Books
Released on: May 1st, 2013
Ages: 3 & up
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads

Caught unprepared by a chilly wind, Little Hedgehog sets out to remedy his situation. He has plenty of friends -- and an unexpected Christmas gift -- but lost and alone, he tries to warm up in a snowbank. Imagination saves him and warms him and brings him back to his circle of friends -- and then Christmas is complete. Jewel-like colors, animals with unmistakable character, and a flocked woolly hat, perfect for stroking, will bring young readers back to this book.

An adorable story with a great a message about sharing with others. What starts off as a gift for Hedgehog, the red, cozy hat ends up being gifted to each of his animal friends who could use the hat. Filled with friendships, giving, and cute woodland animals, this book made for a great read aloud on a cold winter's day. I read this out loud to a kindergarten class, and they not only enjoyed the story, and seeing which animal friends received the hat next, they loved that the hat is a velvet touch and feel. This book is great for pre-school and kindergarten age readers. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

I LOVE MY GRANDMA by Giles Andreae / Book Review

By: Giles Andreae

Illustrated by: Emma Dodd
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Released on: December 6th, 2016
Ages: 3 & up 
Rating: 4 Owlets
Purchase from: Disney | Amazon | B&N 
Add it to Goodreads
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

From train rides to playtime, this book illustrates the love between grandmother and grandchild, and all the exciting things they can do together! Joyful and heartwarming, it will be a treasured addition to any grandchild’s collection.

Simply adorable. This is a heartwarming story about a grandchild's love for their grandmother and all the adventures, and fun things they do. This is a sweet story that captures the special bond a grandmother has with their grandchild.

We really enjoyed this heartfelt story, and it's adorable illustrations. The rhyming make for a fun read aloud. The wordage length is perfect for toddlers. This book would also make for the perfect gift for any grandmother and grandchild. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

THE LITTLE ELEPHANT WHO WANTS TO FALL SLEEP by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin / Book Review

By: Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin
Illustrated by: Sydney Hanson
Published by: Crown Books For Young Readers
Released on: October 4th, 2016
Ages: 6 & up
Purchase fromAmazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Add variety to your child’s bedtime routine with the latest book from the author of The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep, the New York Times and international bestseller that parents have been raving about! Features all-new child-tested, parent-approved techniques to reclaim bedtime and provide a sweet and tender end to each day.
Your child joins Ellen the Elephant on a journey through a magical forest that leads to sleep. Along the way, children meet different fantastical characters and have calming experiences that help them relax and slip into slumber quickly. The story works perfectly for either naptime or bedtime.

Children will love switching between stories about both Roger the Rabbit (The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep) and Ellen the Elephant (The Little Elephant Who Wants to Fall Asleep), and parents will appreciate the diverse ways each character will help their loved ones fall asleep quickly and easily. 

Includes never-before-seen material that will make a difference at bedtime, including insightful sleep tips and answers to frequently asked questions to help guide families to an even more satisfying nighttime routine!

Cute illustrations and a good story concept. This book is great for older readers (7 & up), but falls short for young children. The word length on each page is too long to keep young attention spans. If the pages were half the length, it would have been perfect for toddlers-kindergarten age kids. While I get the concept of this book is to help readers understand sleep, and why our bodies need rest, it's not a good bedtime story like it's marketed for, for really young kids.

This book is a much better fit for children 6 & up. With having a longer word length than the average picture book, it will hold their attention spans longer than younger children. There is a calming effect that the author uses in the story that does seem to work towards the end of the story. The author also includes notes at both the beginning and end of the book to help readers better understand his strategy for his story. 

Over all, we felt this story needed to be a little less wordy for us to like it as much as we wanted to. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017


Happy New Year! It's a new year, a new day, a new page in the story of your life. Here's to making today be the start of something new. We hope y'all have a wonderful New Year! MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU! *pic credit: Star Wars

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 ~