Saturday, January 6, 2018

Review: Caillou: Happy Holidays! by Marilyn Pleau-Murissi


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Caillou’s Daddy helps him be patient until Christmas with a special Advent calendar that counts down the days left before Christmas. Each day Caillou gets to open a window on the calendar and discover a story about holiday customs around the world. Caillou finds out about the first Christmas tree and about the man who became known as St. Nick. He also takes part in his own family traditions, and learns about giving and sharing along the way. A book that celebrates the festivities, traditions and meaning of Caillou’s favorite holiday!  ++HARDCOVER EDITION WITH FOIL++
MY TAKE:
I meant to read this with my child during the holidays but we got busy and only got around to it recently.

I liked the book's concept. Caillou's dad gives him an Advent calendar and each window has a Christmas story or information about Christmas traditions in other countries. It's really a good holiday read, especially if you and your children love all things Christmas-related.

I already knew some of the things mentioned in the book, but I did learn a few things from the book. For example, I didn't know that in Puerto Rico, children leave vegetables under their bed for the three kings' camels.

The illustrations are very colorful and cute. My only quibble with this book is that there is no mention of stories, traditions or customs from Asia; aside from Turkey which is in Eurasia. This makes me a little bit sad, especially since my country has one of the longest Christmas seasons in the world and Christmas is always a huge celebration here. I didn't really go into this expecting to see my country but it would have been nice to be included.

MY SON'S REACTION:
The book is a little too advanced for my son, who is still just learning to read, so I read the book to him. The book was a little long for him and his attention started to wander about halfway through the book.

I wondered if it could work to read the book over the course of 12 days, just like Caillou did, but that may get too confusing and some of the entries were too short and were combined (5-3 are about traditions around the world).

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
In Spain they eat fish called besugo, and they have a roasted duck in Norway. 
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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Friday, December 29, 2017

Review: Home Sweet Home by Mia Cassany


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Kids will have their imaginations captured by this beautiful, non-fiction picture book that looks at home from around the world. Home from Home celebrates the wide diversity of living quarters people around the world live in.
Find out who lives in a Brooklyn brownstone or a Tokyo apartment! What about a London townhouse, or a cabin in Reykjavik?
Up and coming talent Paula Blumen illustrates all of these great views of home. There’s never been a better time to remember the importance of home for everyone.

MY TAKE:
I really enjoyed this book. To be honest, I actually thought this would have minimal text and would be suited to my son who is just learning to read. It turns out, it's more suited to somewhere in between early readers and middle grade readers. However, the topics and the illustrations make this book work for kids of any age.

I love the concept of this book. I was surprised to find that there were a lot of places (17) included in the book. Some were in the US, Canada, and Mexico; several in Europe, and three in Asia. The houses were of different styles and sizes, and the places they were in ranged from cities to suburbs to small villages.

What makes this book unique is the voices in the narration belong to pets living in those areas. There are different pets too. While most are dogs and cats, some of the pets narrating included a tortoise and a bird.

I really liked the illustration style used in the book. The colors were very beautiful and vibrant as well. It makes every location feel like a place you would want to live in, or at least visit for a while.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
People don't have fur, though, so the roofs of the houses are covered in grass to keep them warm. 
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Review: 365 Weird & Wonderful Science Experiments by Elizabeth Snoke Harris


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
This fact- and fun-filled book includes hundreds of simple, kid-tested science experiments. All of which can be done with items from around the house, and require little to no supervision!

Whether you're making your own slime, rockets, crystals, and hovercrafts or performing magic (science!) tricks and using science to become a secret agent, this book has something for every type of curious kid. Each experiment features safety precautions, materials needed, step-by-step instructions with illustrations, fun facts, and further explorations.

With this book, you will:
- Create a drinkable rainbow
- Make a bowling bowl float
- Capture a cloud
- Build furniture out of newspapers
- Blow bouncing bubbles that don’t burst
- Plus 360 other weird and wonderful experiments.

At once engaging, encouraging, and inspiring, 365 Weird & Wonderful Science Experiments is every budding scientists go-to, hands-on guide for learning the fundamentals of science and exploring the fascinating world around them.

MY TAKE:
I am always on the lookout for interesting science books, since my son has shown an inclination to science, and I would love to nurture that.

This book certainly fit the bill. The variety of experiments was very impressive to me. For example, there were your usual science experiments (rockets, etc.), then there were cooking experiments, outdoor experiments, and magic tricks. Seriously, there's something here for everyone. Sure, there are several experiments here that you've probable tried or at least seen before, but kids and adults, even those who are only a little bit interested in science, will still have a ton of fun with this book.

Why am I so confident? Because I spotted several cool experiments like making a lava lamp, creating different kinds of ink (hot invisible ink, glowing ink, etc.), and the tea bag rocket. My personal favorite, though, is the food scrap garden because I've been meaning to start a food garden for awhile now and seeing the process here makes it seem so easy to do.

Most of the experiments don't need a lot of items, and most are easy to find or which you probably already have at home. The steps are easy to follow, even if there's at most only two small illustrations for each experiment. For most of the experiments, there are also explanations and occasionally, there are "What If?" scenarios to get you thinking. The pages are also colorful, which is a huge plus for me.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
The water crawls up the tiny gaps in the fibers of the paper towel. This is the same method plants use to get water from their roots to the tips of their leaves.
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?



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Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review: Inside Out Human Body: Explore the World's Most Amazing Machine! by Luann Columbo


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
What do you think is the most amazing machine in the universe? A superconductor? The modern computer? A rocket ship? Think again: It’s the human body!
Astonishingly intricate and complex, your body grows, heals itself, and performs a mind-boggling number of complex functions all at the same time! Discover the amazing human body, system by system and layer by layer, in this fascinating book.
Inside Out: Human Body takes you on an incredible journey through the powerful muscular system, the "bone zone," the long and windy road of the digestive system, the blood-pumping circulatory system, the forty-seven-mile long nervous system, and beyond! A unique layered model of the human body serves as the center point of each section, revealing key body parts and functions, while entertaining and informative text explains how the body works.
Each section is fully illustrated with colorful diagrams and includes fun, interactive lessons for you to try yourself. You can learn how to take your own pulse, how to make your arms float, and even what the color of your urine means! Sometimes the most incredible wonders are right under our noses.


MY TAKE:
This is my favorite book in the series.

I already learned all the trivia in the book during college, but I still enjoyed reviewing it. There are really good analogies here that make it easier to understand concepts. I liked that aside from facts, there are try-this activities. It makes it easier for people to retain knowledge when they get to learn by doing.

The information in the book is a little advanced, so it's best for pre-teens and teens in junior high and high school. Younger kids can still appreciate the illustrations and diagrams, though.

I wondered near the start why the diagrams were only half. As it turns out, it was half because the book is divided by system, and that particular system had several pages devoted to it. That system is the skeletal system, and those pages were quite worth it because it included explanations on things like how bones heal when they are broken. There were also other systems that were two pages each.

It's a really good book, and my only real quibble with it is that the background color for the digestive system is dark and the font color is black so it's hard to read the text.

MY SON'S REACTION:
My son is too young to retain most of the terms in the book, but he is familiar with most body parts and he had fun looking at the pictures in the book.

I pointed out the internal organs and tried my best to simplify the functions of each in an effort to explain it to him, and he seemed to understand it. At the very least, he was fascinated by it, so this is definitely a book I can see us reading again and again until he is old enough to read and understand it on his own.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Your body absorbs nutrients like sponge soaks up water. Sugar molecules are like small drops of water, and proteins and starches are like large puddles. Your body can absorb the smaller sugar molecules quickly. But energy from sugar is also used up quickly. 
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Review: Inside Out Sharks: Look inside a great white in three dimensions! by David George Gordon


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Journey inside a shark and live to tell the tale! With Inside Out: Shark, you’ll take a three-dimensional tour through a great white to learn about the unique bodies of these eating machines.
Why are shark eggs called “mermaid purses”? What in the world are “skin-teeth”? Do sharks deserve the nickname “man-eater”? Find the answers to these questions and more in this action-packed book, which dives deep under the surface to explore the world of these astounding animals.
From the eerie goblin shark to the wide-eyed hammerhead to the most feared shark of them all, the great white, see the world from a shark’s-eye-view—and get an in-depth look at these most mysterious and misunderstood predators.

MY TAKE:
I really like this series, and this book lives up to my expectations.

The book's format is the same as others in the Inside Out series. The pages are divided by system (skeletal, dermal, etc.) and you can see the insides of the shark in the middle of the book. Each page also contains plenty of shark-related trivia.

There is a lot of information in the book, some of which I already knew while the others are new to me, but I liked that the way in which the information was presented kept in from being overwhelming. One of my favorite things I read in the book was about shark teeth. I knew that sharks had plenty of teeth, but I didn't know that different sharks had differently-shaped teeth. It was very cool to see the illustrations of the teeth.

MY SON'S REACTION:
I wasn't sure how my son would react to this because I thought there was a chance he might find the drawings scary. As it turns out, he actually liked this book a lot.

When he saw the cover, he wanted to read it right away. He also started singing the Baby Shark song from Pinkfong. He couldn't read the information yet, so I just told him about some of it. He reacted to some of the things I told him, but he was more interested in the illustrations.

I think this is another good buy for when he's older.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Great whites are prone to eat things made of metal. 
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Review: Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures: Step Into a Prehistoric World by Emily Hawkins


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
From the team behind the best-selling Atlas of Adventures comes this prehistoric journey of discovery. You’ll get to embark on over thirty dinosaur adventures that will take you all around the world! Travel back in time to lock horns with a triceratops, stalk prey with a T-Rex, and learn to fly with a baby Pteranodon. With hundreds of things to spot and facts to learn, this is the biggest Atlas adventure yet!
MY TAKE:
My son has recently taken a liking to dinosaurs so it was a given that when I saw this book on NetGalley that I would request it so we could review it.

The copy I received from NetGalley was only a few pages, so basically a sampler, but it was enough for me to get a good idea of what the rest of the book is like.

There's a two-page spread for each "main" dinosaur. There's an introduction for each dinosaur which describes what would have been a typical moment for that particular dinosaur (prey getting hunted, etc.). The illustration is one whole picture spanning the two pages and includes not only the main dinosaur but other animals and dinosaurs that might have been in that area/time period and interacted with the main dinosaur. There are trivia scattered all over the page related to the dinosaurs and animals. There's also a small box containing information on the dinosaur, specifically: name meaning, where the first fossil was found, period, family, diet, and size.

I love the anecdotes and the trivia I learned, such as how one dinosaur fossil was found by a child and another was found by a sheep farmer.

The illustration style and colors are not my cup of tea but they are a good fit with the topic. I did like that there are little Easter eggs in the illustrations. I first noticed it in the Pterodaustro page and thought I might be mistaken until I saw another in the Pteranodon page. I went back to the other pages and sure enough there are little funny things in other dinosaurs' pages as well.

MY SON'S REACTION:
My son loved this one of course. He's familiar with the Tyrannosaurus, Triceratops, and Baby Pteranodon, but not the others yet.

He liked observing and noting what was going on in the drawings. I think this will be a good reference book for when he's older.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
The terrifying Velociraptors in the film Jurassic Park were actually based on Deinonychus; real Velociraptors are much smaller. 
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Review: The Snowbear by Sean Taylor


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Snow comes in the night, and Iggy and Martina make a snowbear. But then a sledge ride takes them deep into the woods. How will they get back home again? The Snowbear is a spellbinding story about the magic of snow and the power of a child's imagination. With a simple text and beautiful illlustrations, it will be read again and again. Themes of friendship, loyalty, and bravery make it a great choice for story time, as a bedtime read or on car trips. Children will love the crisp, wintry setting brought to life by Claire Alexander’s art. 
MY TAKE:
There's so much to love about this book.

First of all, there's the story. We don't get snow in my country, but my son and I enjoyed the story anyway. (He's seen snow in books before so it wasn't a foreign idea to him.) I liked how the story played out. Some may find the plot twist a little predictable, but I liked how it gave you (the adult) that Did-it-really-happen feeling while kids will mostly find it cool and plausible. The ending was A+ too. It feels hopeful and beautiful.

I really liked the illustration style of this book. Maybe it was because of the topic, but it reminded me of the cover (both front and back) of The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes. The media used looks a lot like a mix of colored pencils and watercolor, which are my two favorite coloring materials because I love the look they produce. The effect is something soft and somehow nostalgic, which is so fitting for this book.

MY SON'S REACTION:
By now, I've gotten really good at picking books I know he'll like, and as I expected, he loved the book.

He really liked the bear, and he empathized easily with Martina and Iggy who appeared to be close in age to him. Plus, the length of the text and the placing of the line/paragraph breaks were just right for him.

His favorite scene was easily the one where they were sledding downhill. His next favorite scene was the one with the wolf.

Overall, I think he liked the illustration style as well. He took time looking at the pages, which he doesn't really do when the illustrations aren't to his taste.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
And maybe he was right about that. 
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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