Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review: 999 Frogs and a Little Brother by Ken Kimura


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Everybody's favorite frogs are back in Ken Kimura and Yasunari Murakami's ticklish tale about size! "Are you my big brother?" The last (and littlest) tadpole to be born is thrilled to hear that anyone thinks he's BIG—even if it's a baby crayfish. And the two form a fast friendship, until deep in the night Mommy crayfish finds her baby and takes him home. But when the little tadpole finally becomes a frog, he doesn't forget his little brother and it all pays off when the little frog meets a BIG snake! Who will save the 999 frog brothers? Never underestimate the size of true friendship!
MY TAKE:
I'm not fond of frogs or tadpoles, or crayfish, for that matter, but I enjoyed this book a lot.

In 999 Frogs and a Little Brother, a frog that develops slower than the rest of his brothers forms a friendship with a tiny baby crayfish who mistakes him as his big brother. When Big Brother frog is chased by a snake while looking for Little Brother crayfish, who will be able to save him?

I thought this story was very cute, charming and sweet. I had a smile on my face almost the entire time I was reading this. The baby crayfish was an endearing thing, and so was the big brother frog. I think that kids who are feeling left out by their older siblings or peers will empathize with the frog. I think mothers, on the other hand, will be able to relate to the mommy crayfish and her protective, caring nature. I certainly did.

Thanks to NetGalley and NorthSouth for the e-ARC. Publication date of 999 Frogs and a Little Brother is on March 1, 2015.

THE GOOD:

  1. It is a sweet story.
  2. Kids who are feeling left out may be able to relate and find hope in the story of the frog and crayfish.
  3. It teaches a good lesson about friendship.

THE BAD:

  1. I would have liked it more if the colors used for the illustrations were brighter and more eye-catching. 

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child is feeling left out.
  2. Your child likes frogs.
  3. Your child likes funny stories about friendship. 

RATING:
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Friday, February 27, 2015

Review: Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked by Jen Calonita


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Would you send a villain to do a hero’s job?
Flunked is an exciting new twisted fairy tale from the award-winning author of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series. “Charming fairy-tale fun.” —Sarah Mlynowski, author of the New York Times bestselling Whatever After series.
Gilly wouldn’t call herself wicked, exactly…but when you have five little brothers and sisters and live in a run-down boot, you have to get creative to make ends meet. Gilly’s a pretty good thief (if she does say so herself).
Until she gets caught.
Gilly’s sentenced to three months at Fairy Tale Reform School where all of the teachers are former (super-scary) villains like the Big Bad Wolf, the Evil Queen, and Cinderella’s Wicked Stepmother. Harsh. But when she meets fellow students Jax and Kayla, she learns there’s more to this school than its heroic mission. There’s a battle brewing and Gilly has to wonder: can a villain really change?

MY TAKE:
I found the description for this book quite intriguing, so I just had to have it.

In Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked, Gilly's family has fallen on hard times since business at her father's shop has slowed down considerably. To put food on the table, Gilly resorts to stealing from royals. However, she ends up getting caught and sent to Fairy Tale Reform School. The school aims to reform wayward kids and fairy tale creatures and is run by former fairy tale baddies like Cinderella's stepmother. Ginny settles in okay at the school, however, things aren't as they seem, and all of Enchantasia may be in danger.

I liked the premise of the book. It could be a cartoon show on Disney Channel or Nickelodeon. I can definitely see young kids enjoying the adventures of Gilly and her friends. Since it's a middle-grade book, the story is not too complex, but there's enough twists here to appeal to slightly older kids. I can't think of a similar book to this one, but if pressed, I'd say there's elements here of Harry Potter mixed with Disney and Shrek.

The world of Enchantsia was interesting too. It reminded me of a PC game I used to play around 8 years ago. There's all sorts of fairy tale creatures and references to rhymes, like Gilly who lives in a boot with her family.

The kingdom is ruled by royals, with Princesses Ella (Cinderella), Rose, Snow, and Rapunzel. Obviously a strange way to rule a kingdom, but hey, it's a fairy tale kingdom. Despite being a fairy tale kingdom, life isn't a fairy tale for everyone. As sad as it is, it's nice to see that this book doesn't ignore the reality that life isn't rosy for everyone.

I liked a lot of the characters in this book. Maxine was an underdog who's easy to root for, and Jax and his roommate Ollie were mischievous but not annoyingly so. Gilly's roommate Kayla was a flake for a huge portion of the book, so I didn't really care for her. As for Gilly, I didn't really like her for most of the book. Her boyishness was okay and helped her seem more realistic and easy to relate to. However, I disliked how she just shrugged off the bad things she was doing on the basis that it was for her siblings. Her heart was in the right place, but she was very misguided and stubbornly refused to acknowledge it. I really only warmed up to her during the last part of the book when she became a little bit more mature.

Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for the e-ARC. Publication date of Fairy Tale Reform School: Flunked is on March 3, 2015.

THE GOOD:

  1. The world is fun to imagine.
  2. The premise is interesting.
  3. Gilly and her friends are easy to root for.

THE BAD:

  1. Gilly can be too stubborn for her own good sometimes.

READ IT IF:

  1. You like fairy tales.
  2. You're intrigued by stories of villains becoming heroes.
  3. You like stories with magical creatures in them. 

RATING:
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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Rodeo Red by Maripat Perkins


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
A rip-roaring new sibling story illustrated by Caldecott Honor winner Molly Idle. Rodeo Red and her hound dog Rusty are happier than two buttons on a new shirt… until Side Swiping Slim shows up. Red is sure that anyone who hollers that much will be hauled to the edge of town and told to skedaddle, but her parents seem smitten. When that scallywag sets his eye on Rusty, Rodeo Red had better figure out a way to save her best friend in all the world. Can she make a bargain with a varmint?
MY TAKE:
I never went through a country/cowgirl phase, but I loved this book nevertheless.

In Rodeo Red, Red is a young girl who pretends she's a cowgirl. She has a stuffed toy named Rusty, which her little brother swipes one day. What's a cowgirl to do?

I liked the book's use of country slang. It injects personality into the story and makes Red fun to watch. I don't think I've ever read a children's book written this way, so this was a new experience for me.

I thought it was clever of Red to imagine her parents as a Sheriff and her Deputy, and to imagine her little brother as an outlaw. I'm sure older siblings have felt like their parents have favored their younger siblings at one time or another, so young kids with younger siblings will be find this interesting and be able to relate.

Red seems like a clever girl, and her brother is pretty cute. The illustrations are done in a way that really fits the Old West theme.

Overall, this is a very cute, sweet story, and it has the potential to be a series.

Thanks to NetGalley and Peachtree Publishers for the e-ARC. Publication date of Rodeo Red is on March 1, 2015.

THE GOOD:

  1. It's fun to read aloud.
  2. The illustrations are charming and fit well with the story.
  3. The characters are likable.

THE BAD:

  1. Some children may find the muted colors used to be unappealing.

READ IT IF:

  1. Your child likes anything to do with cowboys.
  2. You're looking for something that's fun to read aloud.
  3. You're looking for a children's book that has something new.

RATING:
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Positive Discipline: The First Three Years, Revised and Updated Edition: From Infant to Toddler--Laying the Foundation for Raising a Capable, Confident Child by Jane Nelsen, Cheryl Erwin, Roslyn Duffy


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
The celebrated Positive Discipline brand of parenting books presents the revised and updated third edition of their readable and practical guide to communicating boundaries to very young children and solving early discipline problems to set children up for success.
Over the years millions of parents have used the amazingly effective strategies of Positive Discipline to raise happy, well-behaved, and successful children. Research has shown that the first three years in a child's life are a critical moment in their development, and that behavior patterns instilled during that time can have profound implications for the rest of a child's life. Hundreds of thousands of parents have already used the advice in Positive Discipline: The First Three Years to help set effective boundaries, forge strong foundations for healthy communication, and lay the groundwork for happy and respectful relationships with their young children. Now this classic title has been revised and updated to reflect the latest neuroscientific research and developments in positive discipline parenting techniques.

MY TAKE:
One of the hardest things about being a parent is finding the right way to discipline your child and get him or her to listen and obey you.

Positive Discipline: The First Three Years, Revised and Updated Edition: From Infant to Toddler--Laying the Foundation for Raising a Capable, Confident Child covers topics and discusses techniques that can help parents understand their child's temperament and needs, and how to use that in disciplining and teaching them. The focus is on positive discipline, as opposed to punishing the child.

I was intrigued by the concept of this book, as I'm more used to seeing parents use punishment or similar techniques to discipline their child. The book discusses positive discipline, which involves a lot of things, but in a nutshell, it's not allowing your child to do everything they want, but at the same time, not saying no to everything either. It uses techniques like distracting kids or offering alternatives when they do things or touch things they shouldn't, and also giving the child more autonomy and giving them more choices to help them become more involved in the process and feel like they're not being ordered to do something.

The book was a bit of a paradigm shift for me. There were things I did instinctively that I was pleased to find out where things the authors recommend, but at the same time, I never really thought about why I did this things. When I get frustrated because my son doesn't do what I say or keeps doing things even though I told him not to, it never occurred to me to look at things from his point-of-view. This is an idea that the authors repeat, and it makes sense. Depending on the child's age and developmental needs, he sees the world differently from us, and what makes sense to him and what he feels like doing, may not be what we think is acceptable socially, but it doesn't mean its wrong.

I found a number of useful tips here that I'll be trying soon. One of which is, when children keep hitting you or someone, try catching their hand and then guiding them while saying "touch nicely". It seemed to work for the person in the given example, and I think it may work with my son, who seems to be starting his hitting phase already. There are plenty of tips and tricks here that parents can try on their kids, and they're all pretty easy to do. The trick is to remember them and put them to use, and to not get frustrated if they don't work the first time.

If you're a new parent or you have a toddler that seems to never listen to you or obey you, you should consider giving this book a try.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harmony for the e-ARC.

THE GOOD:

  1. It presents interesting ideas that may make it easier for parents to understand their kids' perspectives.
  2. The tips and tricks mentioned are easy to do.
  3. It emphasizes thinking in the long-term, how discipline affects your child in the future. 

THE BAD:

  1. It would be even better if there was a summary of key concepts at the end of each chapter. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You're having a hard time disciplining your child.
  2. You're a new parent.
  3. You wonder why some kids are so easy to handle, while others are so difficult to deal with. 

RATING:
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

When parents understand developmental appropriateness, Erikson's social and emotional stages of development, and temperament, eve the definition of "mischief" will shrink.

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant by Joanna Wiebe


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
“Even when readers think they have it all figured out, Wiebe delivers a blow that will keep them energized and panting for the next installment.” -- Voya Magazine
***
So many secrets for such a small island. From the moment Anne Merchant arrives at Cania Christy, a boarding school for the world’s wealthiest teens, the hushed truths of this strange, unfamiliar land begin calling to her—sometimes as lulling drumbeats in the night, sometimes as piercing shrieks.
One by one, unanswered questions rise. No one will tell her why a line is painted across the island or why she is forbidden to cross it. Her every move—even her performance at the school dance—is graded as part of a competition to become valedictorian, a title that brings rewards no one will talk about. And Anne discovers that the parents of her peers surrender million-dollar possessions to enroll their kids in Cania Christy, leaving her to wonder what her lowly funeral director father could have paid to get her in… and why.
As a beautiful senior struggles to help Anne make sense of this cloak-and-dagger world without breaking the rules that bind him, she must summon the courage to face the impossible truth—and change it—before she and everyone she loves is destroyed by it.

MY TAKE:
I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I read the summary for this book.

In The Unseemly Education of Anne Merchant, Anne is sent to a Preparatory Academy in a small island in Maine, in the hopes that she'll be able to do well and earn a full scholarship to Brown. However, everyone in her class seems to be aiming to be valedictorian, which is not necessarily unusual in itself. There are, however, some odd things about the people and the island itself. Anne makes it her mission to find out the truth, but once she does, will she be ready the answer?

I usually figure out plot twists in books right away, so it was a nice feeling that while I was able to guess a few things here, at least a couple of the bigger plot twists were a surprise to me. These plot twists didn't come entirely out of left field, either. There were clues in the earlier chapters, but their significance was glossed over so while you might get a niggling feeling, you'll probably quickly dismiss it anyway.

While I was reading, I tried to classify this book. At first, I figured it was a gothic novel, then a mystery book. After finishing the book, I'd say that it definitely has gothic fiction elements, with a some supernatural and mystery elements thrown in.

I enjoyed the parts wherein Anne was figuring out what's going on in the island and Cania Christy. For those who are used to the fast-paced action in most novels these days, they may find the reveal too slow. Personally, I think the pace is perfect because it keeps you guessing along with Anne.

Anne was a fun heroine, mostly because her comebacks to mean comments were sharp. She started out pretty strong to me, but near the end, when she and Ben were on almost-romantic terms already and her decisions were even more motivated by love, she started to lose me a bit. Ben is an okay guy, but I kinda wish he wasn't so perfect physically. Very few guys are, and the emphasis on Ben's looks were kind of a turnoff for me after awhile.

Thanks to NetGalley and BenBella Books for the e-copy.

THE GOOD:

  1. The plot twists are interesting.
  2. You're kept guessing.
  3. It's a creative plot. 

THE BAD:

  1. Ben may be a little too perfect. 

READ IT IF:

  1. You like books about the supernatural.
  2. You're looking for original concepts.
  3. You like books set in boarding schools.

RATING:
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Sunday, February 22, 2015

In My Mailbox


In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

FREE FROM BUQO:



Vern and Verniece A Life and Style Diary by Vern and Verniece Enciso

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