Thursday, August 30, 2018

I AM JANE GOODALL by Brad Meltzer / Blog Tour: Book Review + Fun Facts #IAmJaneGoodall

Welcome to the next stop in the I AM A TRAVELER blog tour, hosted by Penguin Young Readers. Today I'm thrilled to feature I AM JANE GOODALL. Jane's story is the 10th book in the Ordinary People Change The World series. This is one of our favorite series. Before I share some fun facts about Jane, here's a little bit about the book:


By: Brad Meltzer
Illustrated by: Christopher Eliopoulos
Published by: Penguin Young Readers
Released on: September 6th, 2016
Series: Ordinary People Change The World #10
Ages: 5 & up
Purchase from: Penguin Random HouseAmazon | B&N
We are a PRH partner and a copy of this book was provided in exchange for my honest review

This tenth book in the New York Times bestselling biography series profiles Jane Goodall, the scientist and conservationist who is famous for her work with chimpanzees.
This friendly, fun biography series focuses on the traits that made our heroes great--the traits that kids themselves 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.


* Jane's love of animals started when she was very young.

* Her first research she did was when she was 5 years old. She wanted to learn where eggs came from, and she crouched in the corner of her Grandmother's hen house and stayed there for hours. 

* She loved reading. She often went to the library to borrow books. 

* The book that changed her life as a kid was The Story of Doctor Dolittle. She first read it when she was 7 years old. After reading this book she vowed to go to Africa and live among the animals. 

* She started her first club at 12 years, called the Alligator Club. They were a nature group. 

* Jane has always loved being outdoors more than she does indoors.

* Jane's mother always told her, "If you really want something, work hard for it. If you don't give up, you'll find a way."

* Jane's first trip to Kenya was when she was 23 years old. It took her 21 days to get there by boat. She worked hard to save her trip to visit a friend who lived there.

* 2 months later Jane's life changed when she met Dr. Louis Leakey, who hired her as his secretary, which then lead to her job of studying chimpanzees up close. Dr. Leakey knew Jane was right for the job. 

* July 16th, 1960 was the day Jane Goodall first set foot in the Gombe National Park in Tanzania, Africa. She was 26 years old. 

* Jane's patience paid off, and her love for animals proved what no one else knew about Chimps. She patiently studied them, giving them names, and made some incredible observations about chimpanzees. The more she observed, the more she learned. 

* November 4th, 1960, Jane observes her first chimpanzee and names him, David Greybeard.

* Six years after arriving in Africa, Jane had a full research center.

* In 1977, the Jane Goodall Instituted was founded

* Jane has won numerous awards for her work and is still alive today


Another great addition to a wonderful series for kids, about real life, ordinary super heroes who have made a difference in the world. Jane Goodall is a person I greatly admired since I was a kid. I wanted to love, and study animals like she did. This book not only gives readers a glimpse into the person who changed the way the world not only viewed chimpanzees, but animals as a whole. 

This story is a brief timeline telling the story of Jane's life from when she was a child, to a much older Jane observing chimpanzees in the wilds of Africa. This story is full of illustrations, real pictures, and a timeline that compliments the story itself and all Jane has accomplished. I love the message that she never wavered on following her dreams of working with animals. She wasn't afraid to break the mold of what society told girls they could and couldn't do during the generation she grew up in. She did what she knew she could do, and her hard work and dedication paid off. 

My favorite part of this story is Jane's observations of chimpanzees. She was the first to note their individual personalities, their behaviors, and see how truly intelligent these animals area. Thankfully she didn't listen to other who told her not to name the animals. Her first observed chimpanzees she named David Greybeard. We really enjoyed this book. It's a wonderful story about an incredible person who's made a tremendous difference in the world. 

"You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make." - Jane Goodall


Sacagawea, the only Native American included in Lewis and Clark's historic expedition, joins the inspiring list of heroes whose stories are told in this New York Times Bestselling biography series.

Sacagawea was the only girl, and the only Native American, to join Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery, which explored the United States from the Mississippi River all the way to the Pacific Ocean in the early 1800s. As a translator, she helped the team communicate with members of the Shoshone tribe across the continent, carrying her child on her back the whole way. By the time the expedition arrived at the west coast, Sacagawea had proved that she truly was a trailblazer.

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.

Neil Armstrong's journey to the moon is the focus of the fifteenth picture book in the New York Times bestselling series of biographies about heroes.

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 tells the story of Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon.


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 Escape Artist. He is also the host of the History Channel television shows Brad Meltzer's Decoded and Brad Meltzer's Lost History (in which he helped find the missing 9/11 flag). 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 CommandosMonster Mayhem (Fall 2018), 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 (when the boys are home from college).

Friday, August 24, 2018

MOTHER KNOWS BEST: A TALE OF THE OLD WITCH By Serena Valentino/ Giveaway #DisneyVillainsBooks

Happy Friday! Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids is thrilled to partner with Disney Hyperion to giveaway the complete VILLAINS series. In celebration of the release of the 5th book in this series, MOTHER KNOWS BEST: A TALE OF THE OLD WITCH, one lucky winner will receive the complete Villains book series. First, here's a little bit about the newest release: 


By: Serena Valentino 
Published by: Disney Hyperion 
Released on: August 7th, 2018
Series: VILLAINS Series, Book #5
Ages: 12 & up
Purchase fromAmazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Indie Bound

The Disney VILLAINS series by Serena Valentino explores how the antagonists in Disney movies became some of storytelling's most iconic villains. In the first five VILLAINS books, we see how the Evil Queen, the Beast, Ursula, Maleficent, and Mother Gothel fall into darkness, through the instigation of the mysterious Odd Sisters: Lucinda, Martha, and Ruby.

The tale of the legendary golden flower is widely known. The story has been told many times and in many ways. But always the flower is coveted by an old witch to keep herself young and beautiful. And always the flower is used to save a dying queen, who then gives birth to a princess with magical hair. Not willing to lose the flower, the old witch steals the princess and locks her away in a high tower, raising her as her own. But the princess always finds out who she truly is and manages to defeat the old witch.

And yet this is only half the story. So what of the old witch, Mother Gothel? Where does she come from? And how does she come across the magical golden flower? 

Here is one account that recounts a version of the story that has remained untold for centuries . . . until now. It is a tale of mothers and daughters, of youth and dark magic. 

It is a tale of the old witch.



Serena Valentino has been weaving tales that combine mythos and guile for the past decade. She has earned critical acclaim in both the comic and horror domains, where she is known for her unique style of storytelling, bringing her readers into exquisitely frightening worlds filled with terror, beauty, and extraordinary protagonists. The books in her best-selling VILLAINS series are best enjoyed when read in the following order: Fairest of AllThe Beast WithinPoor Unfortunate SoulMistress of All EvilMother Knows Best.


Hashtag: #DisneyVillainsBooks
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Enter to win a WICKEDLY FUN READING pack! There’s always two sides to every story – find out for yourself. One (1) winner will receive a set of all 5 VILLAINS books!

Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizing and samples provided by Disney Book Group.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018

HOW TO CODE A SANDCASTLE by Josh Funk / Book Review #HowToCodeASandCastle

By: Josh Funk
Illustrated by: Sara Palacios
Published by: Penguin Random House 
Released on: May 15th, 2018
Ages: 4 & up
Purchase from: The Publisher | Amazon | B&N
Add it to Goodreads
We are a PRH Partner, and a copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

From the computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code comes this lively and funny story introducing kids to computer coding concepts.

All summer, Pearl has been trying to build the perfect sandcastle, but out-of-control Frisbees and mischievous puppies keep getting in the way! Pearl and her robot friend Pascal have one last chance, and this time, they’re going to use code to get the job done. Using fundamental computer coding concepts like sequences and loops, Pearl and Pascal are able to break down their sandcastle problem into small, manageable steps. If they can create working code, this could turn out to be the best beach day ever!

With renowned computer science nonprofit Girls Who Code, Josh Funk and Sara Palacios use humor, relatable situations, and bright artwork to introduce kids to the fun of coding.

A fun summer read that introduces readers to the world of coding. This diverse picture book is one that centers on a girl who loves to learn about technology, and coding. She puts that love to the test when she uses code to build the best sand castle. With humor, some girl power in the form of being technology savvy, and not giving up, make this a book young elementary school aged kids and up, will enjoy reading. 

What a cool concept for a picture book! I even learned something new about coding. The fun brightly colored illustrations and basic coding definitions found in the back of the book, are the perfect addition to engaging picture book. The forward written by Reshma Saujani, CEO of Girls Who Code, is the perfect introduction to this picture book. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

FOREST WORLD by Margarita Engle / Book Review

By: Margarita Engle
Published by: Atheneum Books
Released on: August 9th, 2017
Ages: 10+
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 3 stars
Source: book from publisher in exchange for my honest review

A middle grade novel in verse that tells the story of a Cuban-American boy who visits his family’s village in Cuba for the first time—and meets a sister he didn’t know he had.

Edver isn’t happy about being shipped off to Cuba to visit the father he barely knows. The island is a place that no one in Miami ever mentions without a sigh, but travel laws have suddenly changed, and now it’s a lot easier for divided families to be reunited. Technology in Cuba hasn’t caught up with the times, though, and Edver is expecting a long, boring summer.

He was NOT expecting to meet a sister he didn’t know he had. Luza is a year older and excited to see her little brother, until she realizes what a spoiled American he is. Looking for something—anything—they might have in common, the siblings sneak onto the Internet, despite it being forbidden in Cuba, and make up a fake butterfly. Maybe now their cryptozoologist mother will come to visit. But their message is intercepted by a dangerous poacher, and suddenly much more than their family is at stake. Edver and Luza have to find a way to overcome their differences to save the Cuban jungle that they both have grown to love.

Written in verse, this richly diverse book explores the meaning of family, conversation, and the differences one person can make. Set in Cuba, this book is rich in Cuban-American culture. Engle's mix of verse and rhyming make this book one even the most resultant of readers can enjoy. It's full of emotion, visually stunning, and allows the readers to understand both Edver and Luza's points of views, and their feelings towards to each other. What starts off as a rough first meeting, ends with a touching story of two siblings who learn to trust each other, and over come their differences, in order to save the Cuban jungle they both learn to love. 

I really appreciated Engle's exploration of both Edver and Luza's worlds. Their two worlds collide, literally in this book. There's a difference between not just their cultures and the two different countries where their were raised, both were raised in completely opposite circumstances. One in poverty in Cuba, and the other wealthier in the US. They not only learn to work through that barrier, Edver also learns how to cope with the emotions of learning about a sister and family he never knew existed. Engle doesn't shy away from the various emotions that stem from the two siblings first meeting, or their mixed feelings on getting to know each other etc.

There are definitely a lot of themes in this book. I thought Engle did a great job at tackling each of those. Themes from emotional side to all the characters learn to cope with and cover come, to the troubles in conservation and it's many dangers. While this book is marketed for younger middle grade readers, the themes and the heavier emotional themes in the book are more fitting for older readers. 

Monday, August 20, 2018


Happy Marvelous Middle Grade Monday. Today is the first Monday of school. My kids went back to school last week. For some reason they started on a Thursday. I know, it doesn't make sense, but it was kind of nice to get them readjusted from our summer schedule back to the school one. Hence why I've not been as active at posting on the blog the last two weeks. 

Today's reviews are for a middle grade series that was released a few years ago.  The Darkbeast series was Morgan Keyes debut, and that book does not disappoint. I've been meaning to read it for awhile, and I'm glad I finally did. While I found the stories to be intriguing, these covers are what really grabbed my attention. 

By: Morgan Keyes
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released on: August 28th, 2012
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 4 stars 
Source: book from publisher in exchange for my honest review

A girl’s love for her raven may put her life in jeopardy in this gripping tale.

In Keara’s world, every child has a darkbeast—a creature that takes dark emotions like anger, pride, and rebellion. Keara’s darkbeast is Caw, a raven, and Keara can be free of her worst feelings by transferring them to Caw. He is her constant companion, and they are magically bound to each other until Keara’s twelfth birthday. For on that day Keara must kill her darkbeast—that is the law. Refusing to kill a darkbeast is an offense to the gods, and such heresy is harshly punished by the feared Inquisitors.

But Keara cannot imagine life without Caw. And she finds herself drawn to the Travelers, actors who tour the country performing revels. Keara is fascinated by their hints of a grand life beyond her tiny village. As her birthday approaches, Keara readies herself to leave childhood—and Caw—behind forever. But when the time comes for the sacrifice, will she be able to kill the creature that is so close to her? And if she cannot, where will she turn, and how can she escape the Inquisitors?

Keyes's debut fantasy is rich in detail, lore, and introduces readers to a strong, courageous heroine who isn't to stand for what she believes is right. With animal companions (I loved Caw), magic and a bit of danger, this book easily sweeps you into intriguing world. This is a book that reminded me of the stories I loved reading when I was a kid. One where the story telling easily engages you, and the vivid world building whisks you away to the  world in which the story is set in. Targeted for upper elementary school & lower middle school readers, this is a book readers of all ages can enjoy. 

By: Morgan Keyes
Published by: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released on: September 24th, 2013
Add it to Goodreads
Rating: 3 stars 
Source: Purchased book 

Betrayal threatens everything Keara dreams of in this fast-paced, exciting sequel to Darkbeast.

Keara, her friend Goran, and the wily old actor, Taggart, are fleeing for their lives. They have all spared their darkbeasts, the creatures that take on their darker deeds and emotions and lift their spirits. But their actions defy the law, which dictates that all citizens must kill their darkbeasts on their twelfth birthdays.

There are rumors of safe havens, groups of people called darkers who spared their darkbeasts and live outside the law. To find the darkers, the trio must embark on a dangerous journey—and evade the Inquisitors who are searching for them everywhere. In the middle of winter, freezing and exhausted, Keara and her companions are taken to an underground encampment that seems the answer to all their hopes. But are these darkers really what they appear to be?

Picking up shortly after the first book ends, readers are quickly thrust right back into Keara's dark and magic world. Like the first book in this series, Keyes does a beautiful job at creating a vivid world in which the story easily pulls you into. Diving deeper into the dangers that govern Keara's world, this sequel is one dangerous journey that tests Keara, Goran, and Taggart. Not quite as good as the debut book in this series, this sequel is one that will leave readers wishing there was one more book in this series. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

LUCY AND THE STRING by Vanessa Roeder / Blog Tour: Book Review #LucyAndTheString

By: Vanessa Roeder
Published by: Dial Books
To Be Released on: August 7th, 2018
Ages: 3 & up
Purchase from: Penguin Random House & other online retailers 
Add it to Goodreads

A sweet and silly tale of unexpected friendship between a girl and the bear she finds at the end of a string.

When Lucy spots a string, she can't help but give it a yank, and before she knows it, she meets Hank! But this bear isn't quite sure what to make of Lucy, especially because the string is attached to his pants, and they're unraveling fast!

 Now Lucy must dream up the perfect solution to Hank's missing pants, and hopefully win this dubious bear's heart along the way.

Vanessa Roeder's picture book debut is a heart-filled tale of curiosity, innovation, and finding friendship in unexpected places.

A charming debut. This is such a cute story about friendship. With it's simple orange, gray, black and white color scheme, and simplistic illustrations, create an engaging picture book without being over stimulating. I loved the color scheme in this picture book. The story will delight young readers. It's one that will leave you pondering the possibilities of what you can find at the end of a piece of string you find. Luckily for Lucy it was a new, and unlikely friend. This is such a fun picture book. There are endless story time possibilities, and craft time ideas that can go along with this story. This is a picture book I would definitely recommend picking it up! 


Vanessa Roeder is an author and illustrator whose work has been featured in Highlights magazine and on Apartment Therapy. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and three kids.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

JUST DANCE by Patricia MacLachlan / Book Review #JustDance

By: Patrica MacLachlan
Published by: Simon Kids
Released on: September 12, 2017
Ages: 7 & up
Add it to Goodreads
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

A coming-of-age story about finding your own voice while learning to understand the people you love the most.

Sylvie Bloom wants to find something new and exciting this summer—at least more exciting than the cows, goats, and chickens on her family’s farm that she’s become accustomed to. Luckily, Sylvie’s teacher Mrs. Ludolf has the perfect idea. Sylvie can take over her husband Sheriff Ludolf’s column in the newspaper for the summer, reporting on all the important events that happen in their small Nebraska town. Sylvie is thrilled to have a new challenge, but she’s not sure she’ll actually see anything amazing. At least nothing like the things her mother saw when she traveled the world as a famous opera singer.

Sylvie can’t figure out why her mother would give up singing in front of thousands of people. Have she and her brother Nate been holding her mother back? And when her mother’s old duet partner James Grayson writes that he’s coming to perform nearby, will she be tempted to return to the stage, without them?

Another heartwarming story from Patricia MacLachlan about growing up, and the meaning of home, and family. Rich in friendship, this simplistic story is set in the open prairies of Wyoming. One of the things I enjoyed about this coming of age story is Sylvie's personal search and discovery of what it really means to be home. Home is where your family is at. 

With her cowboy father, and once famous opera singing mother, she wonders how her mother could just give it all up for them, and live on the farm. Having Sylvie's parents, and seeing their love and support of each other was wonderful to see. It was also what really set an example of Sylvie. Though she questioned and wondered if her mother would ever leave them and go back to singing on stage, she saw how happy they were, and how much they loved each other, as well as her, and her younger brother Nate. 

Having Sylvie take over the small town newspaper column for the summer made for the perfect opportunity for readers to get to know those that make up Sylvie's community, as well as explore her small country town. I loved the small Wyoming town setting in this book, and the farm this book is set in. I love this cover.

One of the things this story has a lot of is writing. Sylvie loves to write. I liked that some of her poems are included in this book. This book would be a great example in teaching younger kids about various poems, like the ones featured in this book. This is definitely another great beginning reader for those transitioning from true beginning readers, and picture books. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

GRASSHOPPER MAGIC by Lynne Jonell / Book Review #GrasshopperMagic

By: Lynne Jonell
Illustrated by: Brandon Dorman
Published by: Random House
Released on: May 28th, 2014
Series: Magical Mix Ups #3
Ages: 7 & up
Add it to Goodreads
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review

Chicken? Abner is not a chicken, no matter what his brother Derek says. But when it comes to giving a speech in front of the whole town, Abner is . . . well . . . he's more than a little nervous.

   Then his sister Tate has an idea--bravery lessons. And the first one? Eat a roasted grasshopper. But Abner forgot something important. There's magic in the ground under his family's house and grasshoppers hatch from eggs laid in the ground. So what, exactly, would happen if a kid ate a grasshopper that had been soaking up magic all year long? BOING!

   Lynne Jonell follows up her Minnesota Book Award finalist, Texas Bluebonnet Master List choice, and Junior Library Guild selection Hamster Magic with a third story of the Willow family's rowdy run-ins with mixed-up magic.

A fun beginning reader. Written for kids who are transitioning from basic beginning readers, and picture books, this book's story is one that simplistic, engaging and at times silly. Mixed with a little bit of magic, and some adventure, this story is one doesn't require any over thinking in terms of the story. That is what makes this story great for a transitional beginning readers. This simple, short story, includes illustrations that will keep young readers invested in this story. This book would work great for reading groups in 1st and 2nd grade. 


Magisterium: THE GOLDEN TOWER by Cassie Clare & Holly Black / Exclusive Excerpt + Release Day Event Info! #TheMagisteriumSeries #TheGoldenTower

Who is a fan of THE MAGISTERIUM series by Cassandra Clare & Holly Black? Their 5th book in the series, THE GOLDEN TOWER, will be out on September 11th, 2018! Recently Cassie shared an excerpt for the book in her most recent newsletter. You can read the exclusive excerpt below:

Exclusive Excerpt: The Golden Tower

Call took the path that led alongside one of the Magisterium’s many underground rivers. It glowed eerie blue in the light of the moss. On the way, he peered around, looking for Warren. He even called the little lizard’s name a few times, his voice echoing through the caverns. He was sure he’d see Warren during the short boat trip, but by the time he got to the far bank, he decided Warren was avoiding him.

When Call reached Rufus’s door, he tapped on it and heard Mr. Rajavi’s voice echo from inside: “Come in.” The office looked much as it always had. The same papers were tacked to the walls, covered in what Call now recognized as alchemical equations. The big couch was gone, replaced by more bookshelves, and the old workstation had been replaced by one made of a gleaming clear material — quartz, Call guessed. Tamara’s father sat behind Rufus’s roll-top desk.

Oh, God, Call thought. Tamara’s father. And he’d just kissed Tamara. Was that why Mr. Rajavi was here?

Don’t be totally ridiculous, said Aaron. Do you think he’s psychic or something?

Kimiya was grounded for making out with Evil Overlord Alex — Tamara had said so. Mr. Rajavi had a well-established policy of not liking his children making out with Evil Overlords.

You can pre-order your copy here. Don't miss an exciting release day event featuring Cassie, Holly Black and a few of their friends. Here's what Cassie shared is happening:

Holly Black and I will be celebrating the release of the last Magisterium book, The Golden Tower, on September 11th at 7pm. This epic group event will feature David Levithan and Scott Westerfeld as well as me and Holly. The celebration will be hosted by Odyssey Books in South Hadley, MA. Exact location is TBD—contact the store for details.
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 ~