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Welcome! The ultimate luxury for me is curling up with a good book and a warm blanket. The next best thing is reviewing books and sharing them with others.

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30 01, 2016

Review: Smithsonian Young Explorers: 50 States

By | January 30th, 2016|Categories: Ages 12 and Under, Children's Books, For Kids, Gift Ideas|Tags: , |5 Comments

Rating:

smithsonian 50 states book coverReviewed by Sarah McCubbin

When you think of geography, what are the words that come to mind? When I was in elementary school, I remember it as being boring, meaningless and tedious. As a child, it didn’t connect to my small world. Other than family vacations to other states, I had no real concept that the geography of a country could vary so widely. Why could we pick apples in our backyard but not oranges? Why did the water in our lakes taste so different than the salty ocean? Don’t get me wrong, we learned the answers to these questions, but the maps filled with words were so far removed from the concrete realm of childhood that they just didn’t mean much.

So, when I saw the Smithsonian Young Explorers: 50 States, I knew I was

28 01, 2016

Review: Welcome to the Symphony by Carolyn Sloan

By | January 28th, 2016|Categories: Ages 12 and Under, Children's Books, For Kids, Gift Ideas|Tags: , |1 Comment

Rating:

welcome to the symphony book coverReviewed by Amanda Schafer

One of the best ways to get kids interested in classical music is to just expose them to it on a regular basis. Have it playing from the time they are little. But what can you do to help explain to a child who hasn’t been exposed to classical music and symphonies exactly what they are? In Welcome to the Symphony, Carolyn Sloan takes on this project by combining a love of music and a love of books and creating something that is fun, engaging, and educational.

Throughout the book there are three mice who are watching as an orchestra comes together to play a symphony. They learn about what a symphony is, how an orchestra is directed, and what instruments make up the orchestra. What makes this book even more unique

24 12, 2015

Review: The Coal Thief by Alane Adams

By | December 24th, 2015|Categories: Ages 12 and Under, Children's Books, For Kids, Gift Ideas|Tags: , |3 Comments

Rating:

the coal thief book coverReviewed by Alyssa Katanic

The morning is cold. There is no coal left to warm the stove. The 20’s were a hard time for many people, but Georgie’s friend has an idea of how to get what they need to stay warm. Georgie had his misgivings, yet he followed his friend’s lead and climbed up into the coal car of a train to throw down the coal.

Alane Adams does a beautiful job of expressing Georgie’s story with beautiful language and an excellent illustrator. Some of my favorite aspects of Adams telling of The Coal Thief is her gentle way of fleshing out peer pressure, being “caught” by Dad and how Georgie’s father handled his son’s misdeed, the father’s generosity, the Father’s love and good example set for his son, and Georgie’s admiration of his hard working

22 12, 2015

Review: Tell the Story to Its End by Simon P. Clark

By | December 22nd, 2015|Categories: Ages 12 and Under, Children's Books, For Kids, Gift Ideas|Tags: , , , |5 Comments

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tell the story to its end book coverReviewed by Sarah Lelonek

I haven’t read a middle grade book since I was in elementary school, and I’m starting to second-guess this decision. Tell the Story to Its End by Simon P. Clark surprised me with its dark story-telling approach. I was often wondering if this was geared more towards young adults while reading the novel, which says a lot about Clark’s writing abilities.

The story is about Oli, a twelve-year-old boy whose mother decided they should move from London to the countryside. Oli is not happy with this change in scenery, to say the least. That is, until he discovers Eren and his dark asphyxiation with telling stories and fables. Oli’s summer countryside retreat takes a dramatic turn as he learns about the difference between the truth and lies and what makes

15 10, 2015

Review: Sticker Creations: Under the Sea & Discover: Earth

By | October 15th, 2015|Categories: Ages 12 and Under, Children's Books, For Kids, Gift Ideas|Tags: , |3 Comments

Rating:

under the sea book coverReviewed by Alyssa Katanic

As a homeschooling mom of seven children under the age of 13, I am constantly on the look out for books that will inspire a love of learning and appeal to a wide range of ages. The Smithsonian has come out with two great new books that fulfill both of those needs for our family.

Smithsonian Sticker Creations: Under the Sea by Emily Rose Oachs is as beautiful as it is informative. My children absolutely love the aquarium section of our local zoo and are attracted to any kind of Under the Sea type of programs that they can find – they have learned a lot! This fact made me wonder if they would find much interest in Sticker Creations: Under the Sea, or if they would be bored by the same general information in

6 10, 2015

Review: Ping Ping Panda’s Bamboo Journey by Maurice Pledger

By | October 6th, 2015|Categories: Ages 12 and Under, Children's Books, For Kids, Gift Ideas|Tags: , |2 Comments

Rating:

ping ping panda book coverReviewed by Alyssa Katanic

To be honest, I have a literal bookshelf packed with board books for little hands. There are touch and feel books, lift-the-flap books, fiction, non-fiction and so on. I have come to the point where I need to be picky and weed out a few in order to make room for those that are truly worth keeping, such as Ping Ping Panda’s Bamboo Journey by Maurice Pledger.

Ping Ping is not simply another cute board book with a fuzzy panda on the cover. It is also not just another over simplified, lift-the-flap book. Pledger has done an excellent job of mixing a cute fictional story of an irresistible panda bear with a bit of information concerning different animals and their habits and diets.

As Ping-Ping Panda searches for more bamboo to eat, she runs into quite a few

29 09, 2015

Review: My Messy Body by Liza Fromer & Francine Gerstein MD

By | September 29th, 2015|Categories: Ages 12 and Under, Children's Books, For Kids, Gift Ideas|Tags: , |5 Comments

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my messy body book coverReviewed by Alyssa Katanic

My Messy Body, part of the Body Works Series, by Liza Fromer and Francine Gerstein MD is a great picture book that plays off of a child’s sense of humor while explaining various bodily functions and the messes they can make. While the illustrations by Joe Weissman are playful and comical, the information given by Fromer and Dr. Gerstein does not talk down to children in the least.

Fromer and Gerstein do a great job of explaining the way our bodies work and the various messes that result in a way that kids will be able to grasp without too much difficulty, while still working in great vocabulary and medical terms and descriptions.  They have also included a glossary that further explains more difficult terms, and many interesting facts (some I never knew I

30 11, 2014

Review: Clark the Shark Dares to Share by Bruce Hale

By | November 30th, 2014|Categories: Ages 12 and Under, Children's Books, For Kids, Gift Ideas|Tags: , |1 Comment

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clark the shark book coverReviewed by Alyssa Katanic

Clark the Shark Dares to Share by Bruce Hale is the story of a young shark who is confused about how to apply the rules of sharing. Isn’t it sharing when he awes others with his great skills? Or when he plays with someone else’s toys? Or offers to help someone eat her ice cream? Those are “sharing”, right? Obviously, Clark has a lot to understand, but younger siblings can often help with that, as my older kiddos have learned, and Clark’s little brother will show him. He will also learn that his friends enjoy his company much more once he does come to understand.

We all have a hard time sharing now and then. Hale does a great job making this lesson fun with his under water characters. My nine year old son couldn’t even

20 11, 2014

Giveaway: Thankful for Today by Roitman Trillo

By | November 20th, 2014|Categories: Ages 12 and Under, Children's Books, For Kids, Gift Ideas, Giveaways|Tags: , |6 Comments

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thankful for today book coverI have a copy of an adorable children’s book, Thankful For Today by Roitman Trillo, to give away!

Open to US residents only

About the book

Whether sunny, cloudy or rainy Little Bear is grateful and finds joy in every circumstance the day brings.

Inspired by the prayers of a three year old, this beautifully illustrated story celebrates the little blessings in the life of a child. Published by Fun With A Message.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

26 10, 2014

Books by Carole P. Roman

By | October 26th, 2014|Categories: Ages 12 and Under, Children's Books, For Kids, Gift Ideas|Tags: , |4 Comments

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carole p roman book coversReviewed by Alyssa Katanic

I was very excited to open my review package and find five new books by Carole P. Roman!
If You Were Me and Lived in France and If You Were Me and Lived In South Korea are Roman’s two latest contributions to younger elementary geography and social studies. In the same simple and sweet style as If You Were Me and Lived in Mexico (see review here), Roman introduces children to the countries of France and South Korea through typical names for boys and girls, places you would visit, and what you would call your mom, dad, money, school and more. For those of us who are not familiar with French or Korean, there are pronunciation guides in the back of the book – perhaps I should have found these before I read about South