Wednesday, February 28, 2018

THE RABBIT LISTENED by Cori Doerrfeld / Book Review #TheRabbitListened

Written & Illustrated by: Cori Doerrfeld
Published by: Penguin Kids / Dial
Released on: February 20th, 2018
Ages: 3 & up
Purchase from: Penguin | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets
Thank you to PRH for sending a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

A universal, deeply moving exploration of grief and empathy

With its spare, poignant text and irresistibly sweet illustrations, The Rabbit Listened is a tender meditation on loss.

When something terrible happens, Taylor doesn’t know where to turn. All the animals are sure they have the answer. The chicken wants to talk it out, but Taylor doesn’t feel like chatting. The bear thinks Taylor should get angry, but that’s not quite right either. One by one, the animals try to tell Taylor how to process this loss, and one by one they fail. Then the rabbit arrives. All the rabbit does is listen, which is just what Taylor needs.  
Whether read in the wake of tragedy or as a primer for comforting others, this is a deeply moving and unforgettable story sure to soothe heartache of all sizes.

THE RABBIT LISTENED is a moving, beautiful story about the different stages of grief, loss, sadness, and frustration, hope, and more. It's about a young child who just needed someone to listen to them. Unlike the other animals, Rabbit is just there to listen to everything Taylor says. Sometimes just being there, and just listening is all that's needed. This book is a powerful, yet gentle reminder that sometimes what a person needs most is a listen ear. 

Written and illustrated with a young reader audience, having a child's destruction of a huge castle they built out of blocks, and the various emotions they feel from that, makes it easier for young kids to related to Taylor's reaction. This book is the perfect aid in helping young kids understand the different emotions that they feel. It's a story that will have readers of all ages feeling the range of emotions Taylor does. 

Sometimes all we need is someone to just listen to us. To listen and not tell us how to think or how to feel, but to just be there. To be there and listen to all the different things we're feeling and thinking. To listen to us work through how we're feeling. This book is that gentle reminder that more often than not, we need to take the time to just listen, and just be there. This book is also a comforting one. It's also a reminder that no one is alone in how they're feeling. The illustrations, and soft neutral colors also provide a soothing feel to this story.

This is definitely one of those picture books I would highly recommend picking up. It's moving, beautifully written, and one that will leave you thinking about it, and how you can be what the rabbit was for Taylor; a listening ear, and comfort, for someone you care about. This book is great for kids, and adults alike. 

Monday, February 26, 2018

WHICHWOOD By Tahereh Mafi / Book Review #Whichwood

By: Tahereh Mafi
Published by: Dutton Books
Released on: November 14th, 2017
Series: Furthermore #2
Ages: 10 & up 
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Source: Purchased copy / copy from publisher to review
Rating: 4 Owlets - We Enjoyed It!

A new adventure about a girl who is fated to wash the bodies of the dead in this companion to Furthermore.

Our story begins on a frosty night…

Laylee can barely remember the happier times before her beloved mother died. Before her father, driven by grief, lost his wits (and his way). Before she was left as the sole remaining mordeshoor in the village of Whichwood, destined to spend her days washing the bodies of the dead and preparing their souls for the afterlife. It’s become easy to forget and easier still to ignore the way her hands are stiffening and turning silver, just like her hair, and her own ever-increasing loneliness and fear.

But soon, a pair of familiar strangers appears, and Laylee’s world is turned upside down as she rediscovers color, magic, and the healing power of friendship.

A fantastic adventure! Mafi has once again created a whimsical, enchanting that effortlessly invites readers in, and introduces them to an unforgettable world, and characters. The perfect companion to Furthermore, this magical story about friendship, and over coming hardships, is the kind of middle grade book I would have loved as a kid. As an adult, I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

With diverse characters, a dark and mesmerizing world, Whichwood had my attention from the moment I started it. This was a book I breezed through in one sitting, and wanted more of the story when I was finished. Even with it's darker undertones, which to me were much lighter than some of the middle grade books that sat on my school's library shelves when I was in middle grade, this book is one I can see a lot of readers connecting to. 

There's a longing that Laylee has as a character, that makes her relatable. Her quest, and her discovering the healing power that friendship has, makes her feel more like an in-depth, realistic character, than just a character you're reading on the pages of a book. Between her characters and her dazzling world building, Mafi has proven yet again why her books, both YA and MG have a place on my favorites shelves.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

STEAM TRAIN, DREAM TRAIN by Sherri Duskey Rinker / Book Review

By:  Sherri Duskey Rinker
Illustrated By: Tom Lichtenheld
Published By: Chronicle Books
Released On: January 2018
Ages: All Ages
Purchase From: Publisher B&N
Add it to  Goodreads
Rating:  5 Owlets-We Loved It!
Thank you to Chronicle Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

An unabridged board book version of the bestselling hardcover, perfect for small hands! The dream train pulls into the station, and one by one the train cars are loaded: polar bears pack the reefer car with ice cream, elephants fill the tanker cars with paints, tortoises stock the auto rack with race cars, and kangaroos stuff the hopper car with balls (while zebras referee). Dreamy illustrations and gentle rhyming text make this a beloved bedtime favorite for budding train enthusiasts everywhere.

This New York Times Bestseller is back and now it is available as a board book! We love this book and we are excited that little readers can now add it their library collection.

Steam Train, Dream Train is full of imagination, silly fun and wonderful writing. Each page is not only rhyming, but the mixture of sounds and descriptive action words help this book to just flow right out of your mouth. Everyone will enjoy reading it over and over again!

Watching the different animals load up the train with bouncy balls, pogo sticks,  and ice cream (to name a few) is like watching a child's imagination come to life in a book. The monkeys, dinosaurs, elephants all know what to do and it is as silly as it is delightful to turn each page and discover what they are loading on the train.

This book is the perfect length to keep children's attention but the story will keep anyone captivated. This is the perfect nighttime story to read with your young readers!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

KNOCKOUT by K.A. Holt / Book Review #Knockout

By: K.A. Holt
Published by: Chronicle Books
To Be Released on: March 6th, 2018
Ages: 10 & up
Pre-Order from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 3 Owlets
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Levi just wants to be treated like a typical kid. As a baby, he had a serious disease that caused him respiratory issues. He's fine now, but his mom and overprotective brother still think of him as damaged, and his schoolmates see him as the same class clown he's always been. He feels stuck. So when his dad—divorced from his mom—suggests he take up boxing, he falls in love with the sport. And when he finds out about a school with a killer boxing team and a free-study curriculum, it feels like he's found a ticket to a new Levi. But how can he tell his mom about boxing? And how can he convince his family to set him free?

A gripping, humor filled story about one boy's fight for life, and what it means to live. Written in prose, this story's narrative is upfront and direct. Levi's life isn't an easy one, and this story doesn't sugar coat what Levi deals with both personally with his health, or his far from perfect home life. His strength, and will to live a normal life the best he came, is fueled by the person he is when he enters the ring. 

Levi is the kind of character who had me rooting for him from page one. He's the kind of character who feels incredibly real. He's vulnerable, strong, makes mistakes, learns from them, and in the chaos of the world around him, tries to figure out how he can achieve the dreams he wants, regardless of how impossible they may be. I think a lot of readers will be able to relate to Levi.

While I liked the way this book was written, I really enjoyed the way the dialogue between Levi and his brother Timothy, were written. Written as journal entries to each other, it allowed both boys to express themselves in ways they had troubles verbalizing in person. It also solidified the kind of the relationship the brothers had. Levi was able to understand Timothy more, and why he made the choices he did. Timothy is also able to understand where Levi is coming from, and why he feels the way he does. As a reader, I enjoyed seeing both boys work through their frustrations, their fears, explain their actions, and the love they had for each other. 

There's a lot that this book talks about, and I appreciated how each of the topics were handled. Some of the issues where wrapped up a little too neatly at the end of the book, but that didn't hinder my liking this book. It's still a solid, good read. I like that this book is written in a way that even the most reluctant reader will enjoy reading it. Definitely a read I like early middle grade readers will like. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

MOTHER GOOSE'S PAJAMA PARTY by Danna Smith / Book Review #MotherGoosesPJParty

By: Danna Smith
Illustrated by: Virginia Allyn
Published by: Penguin Random House
Released on: October 27th, 2015
Ages: 3 & up
Purchase from: The Publisher | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets
Thank you to PRH for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review 

Star light, star bright, come to story time tonight. 
You’re invited to a magical pajama party with all your nursery rhyme friends! Join Little Bo-Peep, Georgie Porgie, Miss Muffet, the cow that jumped over the moon, and all their pals as they march merrily toward Mother Goose’s house for a cozy slumber party full of stories. And after they are all tucked in, continue to the back of the book and find a special section with your favorite nursery rhymes. 
 It's a pajama party at Mother Gooses's houses, and all the favorite nursery rhyme characters are invited! Who wouldn't want to go to this memorable party? With Little Bo-Peep, and the cow who jumped over the moon, and so many more, kids will love snuggling into bed like their favorite nursery rhymes, and hear what Mother Goose is going to read to them. 

We loved that all of our favorite nursery rhymes were gathered together for a fun pj party at Mother's Gooses's house. Just as you'd except, Mother Goose's pj parties are not to be missed! This fun bed time story is full of rhyming and great illustrations. The illustrations have a classic, charming, and diverse appeal that we really liked. This is sure to become a new favorite bedtime story.

* Be sure to check out Danna Smith's website, here, for activities that go along with this book. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

OUR COUNTRY'S PRESIDENTS: A Complete Encyclopedia of The U.S. Presidency by National Geographic / Book Review

In honor of President's day, today's marvelous middle grade feature is for a National Geographic Kids book we highly recommend checking out. OUR COUNTRY'S PRESIDENTS book is an unbiased, historical reference for each of our country's presidents, as well as a brief history at what happened during their era of presidency. 


By: Ann Bausum
Published by: National Geographic Kids
Released on: January 10th, 2017 
Ages: 10 & up
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N | Penguin Random House
Add it to Goodreads

National Geographic presents the 43 individuals who have led the U.S., plus America's newest commander-in-chief, in this up-to-date, authoritative, and lavishly illustrated family, school, and library reference. It features comprehensive profiles of the 43 former presidents along with timelines and descriptions of crucial events during their terms. Information about the 2016 president-elect is also included.

Thematic spreads cover a variety of topics from the history of voting rights to writing a presidential letter. Full-page portraits, famous quotes, and fascinating facts help kids get to know each leader. This new volume is a fascinating read and excellent reference for students and kids of all ages.

Beginning from 1789 through the 2016 presidential election, this book is a chronological, historical reference book perfect for all educational environments. Written for kids 10 years old & up, this book gives readers a comprehensive look into the history of our countries individual presidencies from it's very beginning through the our most recent elections. Great for teachers too, this book also includes an introduction About The Presidency of the USA, and a How To when using this book for classroom settings. 

One of the things I liked about this book, is that the chronological presidencies are broken into eras. Not only is there a brief overview about what was happening within each era, ie: America Takes Center Stage 1897-1933, which features WWII, the sinking of the Titanic, and more, there are also pictures featured as well. With each individual President, a brief timeline of their presidency, their lives, what they did as a President, a quote they were known for and pictures are included. All of which make this book and unbiased, educational, historical reference book perfect for at home or school classrooms. 

Additional information like Former Presidents; Experienced Elders With a Lasting Influence and a chart of Presidential Election Results from 1789-present also add to the educational appeal of this book. At only 224 pages, this book is chalk full of comprehensive information that students of all ages can use for reports, biographies, and other school work. It's also a great resource for in home, and classroom libraries. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

THIS IS NOT A VALENTINE by Carter Higgins / Book Review #ThisIsNOTAValentine

By: Carter Higgins
Illustrated by: Lucy Ruth Cummins
Published by: Chronicle Books
Released on: December 26th, 2017
Ages: 4 & older 
Purchase from: The Publisher | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 4 Owlets 
Thank you to the publisher for sending us a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review 

This book is not a valentine. It doesn't have lacey edges or sugary hearts. But it is full of lucky rocks, secret hiding spots, and gumball machine treasures. This is a book about waiting in line and wishing for cinnamon buns. About recognizing that if you care so much about someone not thinking you care, maybe you really do. But wait—isn't that exactly what love is about? Maybe this book is sort of a valentine after all. A testament to handmade, wacky, bashful, honest love—sure to win over the hearts of all readers—this offering from debut picture book author Carter Higgins and children's book veteran Lucy Ruth Cummins is the perfect gift to celebrate every relationship, from parent to child, sibling to sibling, partner to partner, crush to crush.

This is the perfect, NOT a Valentine, Valentine. It's the kind of not a Valentine that isn't store bought, or glamorized. Instead it's the real, every day kind of non-Valentine Day things that show you care about that certain someone. It's in the little details, and the things you notice about the other person likes. It's a book about friendship, giggles, secrets, imaginative play, having fun with that certain someone, sharing, and realizing that the feelings you have for someone you really care about go beyond just one day. It's every day. Whether in friendship or when you really fall in love with someone. 

This is the perfect NOT a Valentine, because this book isn't a Valentine book. It's a fun story with cute illustrations that makes you realize loving someone goes beyond what Valentine's Day has become. It's in the little, every day things you do with that someone special. Loving and deeply caring about someone goes beyond one day, though there isn't anything wrong with making them feel special on one day. That's not what this book is about. It's NOT about Valentine's Day, but it's definitely worth picking up on Valentine's Day, or any day after it. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

I AM HARRIET TUBMAN by Brad Meltzer / Blog Tour: Book Review #OrdinaryPeopleChangeTheWorld

Welcome to the first stop in the I AM HARRIET TUBMAN blog tour, hosted by Penguin Kids. The, Ordinary People Change The World series is a fantastic series for young readers. It teaches them about iconic, historical people, and makes it relatable for their age. The newest releases in a series I highly recommend picking up, is one of our favorite historical heroines. 


Harriet Tubman's heroic and pivotal role in the fight against slavery is the subject of the fourteenth picture book in this New York Times bestselling biography series
This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great--the traits that kids can aspire to in order to live heroically themselves. Each book tells the story of one of America's icons in a lively, conversational way that works well for the youngest nonfiction readers and that always includes the hero's childhood influences. At the back are an excellent timeline and photos. This volume focuses on Harriet Tubman's brave heroism as part of the movement to abolish slavery. As one of the key players in the Underground Railroad, she helped enslaved African Americans escape and find freedom.

Another fantastic book is a series that's perfect for young readers, as much as it is for older readers. Like the rest of the books in this series, it takes readers back into the time period each of these iconic heroes lived in. It introduces readers to historical figures who were ordinary people, just like them, that did extraordinary things, just like they can do. 

I AM Harriet Tubman is one of our favorites. That may have to do with the fact that this is a women both my daughter and I greatly admired. She is the kind of woman that you want to aspire to be. Her story is one I am glad to see apart of this series. It's one that will hopefully inspire young readers to make the change they want to see made. Regardless of how scary that may be. 

Harriet Tubman is a woman who did extraordinary things. Her story is one that needs to be read, and taught. She's a true example of courage. She over came horrendous things, and did some of the most extraordinary things. She changed the world in which is was apart of, even if no one else thought it was possible. She's proof at how one person can and does make a difference. She never gave up, and in doing something so extraordinary, she saved countless people. 

Like the other books in this series, this is another incredible story that should be included in libraries, whether at home or school. Young readers will fall in love with history, and discover heroes and heroines who have done some really extraordinary thing. This is one book I highly recommend picking up!

Two of my favorite quotes from this book is:

"... You must follow your heart - your own North Star. It will always point you in the right direction."

"In every life, we face hard decisions. At those times, we can make the safe choice... or the right choice." 


Find out more about the series here. Later today, and through out the week I'll be spotlighting more of the books in this series, that I've not already reviewed. You can check out our 5 star reviews for the entire series here



Brad Meltzer is the New York Times bestselling author of Heroes for My SonHeroes for My Daughter, and a number of suspense novels like The House of Secrets. He is also the host of the History Channel television shows Brad Meltzer's Decoded and Brad Meltzer's Lost History. He lives in Florida with his wife and their three children.


Christopher Eliopoulos began his illustration career at Marvel Comics, and has worked on thousands of comics, including Cosmic Commandos (Summer 2017), Franklin Richards: Son of a GeniusPet Avengers, and Cow Boy, all of which he wrote and illustrated. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and their identical twin sons. 

February 12 – Mundie Moms – Review and Series Spotlight
February 13 – All Done Monkey – Learning Activity
February 14 – Payne Lover Reviews – Review
February 15 – Books and Giggles – Creative
February 16 – How Useful It Is – Review 
February 19 – InRandom – Review
February 20 – Gravity Bread – Review with language and learning tips and free printable for vocabulary expansion
February 21 – Coquette Maman – Review
February 22 – Swoony Boys Podcast – Mini Swoon: Kid's Review and Mom Review
February 23 – As We Bloom – Review

Friday, February 9, 2018

THE UNICORN QUEST by Kamilla Benko / Blog Tour: Book Review #TheUnicornQuest


By: Kamilla Benko
Published by: Bloomsbury
Released on: February 6th, 2018
Series: The Unicorn Quest #1
Ages: 8 & up
Purchase from: Amazon
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 4 Owlets
Thank you to Bloomsbury for providing an arc of this book in exchange for my honest review

Claire Martinson still worries about her older sister Sophie, who battled a mysterious illness last year. But things are back to normal as they move into Windermere Manor... until the sisters climb a strange ladder in a fireplace and enter the magical land of Arden. 

There, they find a world in turmoil. The four guilds of magic no longer trust each other. The beloved unicorns have gone, and terrible wraiths roam freely. Scared, the girls return home. But when Sophie vanishes, it will take all of Claire's courage to climb back up the ladder, find her sister, and uncover the unicorns' greatest secret.

An unforgettable, magical adventure. This is a fantasy story perfect for fans of magic, sibling relationships, and an unforgettable adventure to a whole new world. With mystery, danger, and betrayal, this is one middle grade fantasy readers will quickly fall in love with. 

This is the kind of story that makes you think 'what-if', and leave you wishing you had your own portal door to magical world. Benko's rich world building, paired with her heartbreakingly beautiful sister bond, adds a layer to this story that makes it feel real, and that anything is possible. With the unlikeliest of friends, terrible danger, a quest for answers, and unicorns, this story will keep readers hooked. 

This is a story that will leave readers feeling as though they themselves have emerged into a world that could be, and introduced them in characters who feel more like they could become your friends. This is the kind of book that keeps readers reading. We can hardly wait to read the next book in this series. 


"Fans of magic and fantasy, especially those who love Madeleine L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME or the dark, creepy atmosphere of Neil Gaiman's CORALINE can't miss this debut."  - Booklist, Starred Review 

"Hand to readers who love NARNIA." - School Library Journal 

"An adventure-quest brimming with magic and heart, Benko reaches the child in all of us who secretly hopes that door is never just a door. Mesmerizing." - Roshani Chokshi, NYT bestselling author 

Friday, February 2, 2018

GROUNDHUG DAY by Anne Marie Pace / Book Review #GroundHugDay

By: Anne Marie Pace
Illustrated by: Christopher Denise
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Released on: December 5th, 2017
Ages: 3 & up
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Moose is having a Valentine’s Day party, and all his friends are so excited! Everyone except Groundhog, that is. If Groundhog sees his shadow outside, he’ll hide in his hole for six more weeks and miss the party! Determined to help their friend join them, Moose, Squirrel, Bunny, and Porcupine put their heads together and come up with a plan. But will it be enough to get Groundhog out to play? This heartwarming picture book by the author of Vampirina Ballerina, with adorable illustrations by Christopher Denise, is sure to be a hit, whether readers are bursting for spring or snuggling up for six more weeks of winter.

A delightful mix match of holidays, this picture book is simply adorable! With lush and colorful illustrations, Groundhug Day is makes you feel as though you've gained some wonderful woodland friends. This is definitely a new favorite picture book of ours. 

Moose wants to have a Valentine's Day party, but worries about Groundhug seeing his shadow. As the woodland animals learn to work together, they discover there is a lot of fun in helping each other, and their friend, Groundhog. They throw party they won't forget, complete with fun activities even young readers can do. In the process, the woodland friends also help Groundhog over come his fear of shadows. Shadows can be a lot of fun, especially when making finger puppets. 

This picture book is a charming story about friendship, and one we absolutely loved reading. Paired with Pace's cute story, and Denise's adorable illustrations, readers will fall in love with a book they can enjoy on a cold winter's night as well as on a beautiful spring day. Definitely a must have! I'm not sure which I loved more, the story or the illustrations. Together they make this a book I'd highly recommend reading. 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

FESTIVAL OF COLORS by Surishtha Sehgal & Kabir Sehgal / Book Review #FestivalOfColors

By: Surishtha Sehgal & Kabir Sehgal
Illustrated by: Vashti Harrison
Published by: Beach Lane Books
Released on: January 30th, 2018
Ages: 3 & up
Purchase from: Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 5 Owlets
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review 

Learn all about Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors, in this lush picture book from bestselling mother/son duo Surishtha Sehgal and Kabir Sehgal.

Spring is here, and it’s almost time for Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors. Siblings Mintoo and Chintoo are busy gathering flowers to make into colorful powders to toss during the festival. And when at last the big day comes, they gather with their friends, family, and neighbors for a vibrant celebration of fresh starts, friendship, forgiveness, and, of course, fun!

This is a diverse, educational, and entertaining picture book for readers of all ages. It's adorable, brightly colored illustrations help create a book that leaves you feeling happier after reading it. It's incredibly easy to feel happy while reading a book about colors, flowers, family, and festivities. 

The Festival of Colors is a picture book about Holi, the Indian festival of colors. I knew nothing of this festival prior to reading this book, but love all that this festival represents. What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful festival. 

What a great read. This book is also great for pre-K to 2nd grade classroom use. Also helpful, included at the end this book are the author's notes telling readers more about the Festival of Colors. This is one picture book I'd recommend picking up.

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 ~