Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: Firefighters and What They Do by Liesbet Slegers

Fires are really dangerous. Luckily there are firefighters! They jump into their special suits, and within minutes they are at the fire. But they also help people in other ways. An informative book for toddlers about firefighters and what they do. Now in a simplified and fun pocket-sized edition.
This book is from the same series as the book I reviewed yesterday (Pilots and What They Do) and my son and I loved this book as well.

The illustration style and coloring are very eye-catching and age-appropriate (this book is aimed at toddlers).

I liked that aside from showing that firefighters fight fires, the book also included another task that firemen do. There's also a mini activity on the last two pages, wherein children can trace hoses to find out which one leads to the fire.

The vocabulary is mostly simple, although like Pilots and What They Do, there are some words that may not be familiar to younger kids yet and there are several relatively long sentences every other page so this works best as a read-aloud book. Of course, this also means that you'll get a lot of use out of this book since your child will probably still find it interesting and challenging even when he/she is in elementary school already.

When we were deciding which book to read, my son saw the cover of this book and said, "Oh, I like Fireman Sam, Mommy!"

We read the book together, and when I pointed to words he knew, he would sound them out with joy. Plus, he learned a new word ("fire").

He was very excited while reading the book, jumping in his seat and pointing at the words and pictures throughout the book. The book was able to maintain his interest until the last pages, which is pretty impressive because unless he really likes the book, he starts getting bored as the book nears the last few pages.

"Thank you! You're my heroes!" waves the driver.


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Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: Pilots and What They Do by Liesbet Slegers

The pilot flies the airplane along with his copilot. He has to make sure he and his passengers arrive safely. That’s why he keeps a close eye on things during the flight. A playful and informative book for toddlers about pilots and what they do. Now in a simplified and fun pocket-sized edition.
My son and I enjoyed reading this book. It had brightly-colored, cute illustrations. I'm not sure what medium was used. It looks like paint, but there are some spots here and there where the blending of the colors made me think of oil pastels.

Some of the illustrations have little notes/captions ("what a beautiful view") and labels ("landing gear"), which I appreciated since it added an interesting element to the drawings.

The illustrations are also able to convey well what the text is saying so even if the child just browses by his/her lonesome, they can still more or less see what's going on.

I felt that this is more of a read-along/aloud book than a early-readers book, though, because there are some words here and there that beginner readers may not be familiar with yet ("direction," "column," "splendid," etc.) and there are 3-5 sentences on each page so depending on how easily your child gets bored/loses focus, it may be best to read this together first.

My son likes airplanes and actually enjoys flying so he recognized the pilot on the cover right away.
He could easily identify with the child in the book and when I asked him who it was, he said it was him.

He also had no trouble identifying the objects in the drawings (house, bag, tree, etc.). The only object he asked me to identify was the fuel nozzle, but that's understandable since we don't go the gas station very often.

My favorite reaction of his while we were reading was when he saw one of the first pictures in the book, which was a child in vacation clothes,and he said "Look, the baby is going swimming!"

Overall, I'm pretty sure he liked the book's illustrations because when he doesn't like a book's drawings, he wants to flip through the pages quickly or he just ends up abandoning the book.
He also seemed to like the story. Even though he can only sight-read a few words now, he was able to follow along with the story when I read it aloud and his attention didn't wander.

Both girls and boys can be pilots, of course! 
The clouds sparkle in the sun. He can see snow-covered mountains, islands in the ocean...


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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Review: Bible Answers for Parents of Curious Kids 101 Kid-Friendly Q&As by Ed Strauss

“Mom, how big is God?
“Dad, why do people get old and die?”

Kids have questions—important questions. And they expect their parents to have all the answers. But what do you do when your children come at you with those head-scratchers that are sometimes hard even for adults to understand?

Bible Answers for Parents of Curious Kids is a fantastic resource for moms and dads of 5- to 8-year olds. This book includes 101 questions and answers written for parents, giving you the tools you need to engage your children in kid-friendly, faith-building conversations.

Other questions and answers include:How could Jesus walk on water?Why do we pray if God already knows everything?Does God have a mom and a dad?What will people do in heaven?How did so many animals fit on Noah’s Ark?How could a fish be big enough to swallow Jonah?Why did God make germs? Every answer is backed up with scripture and includes questions for further discussion, making this little book perfect for families with curious young minds!
The summary of this intrigued me. Sometimes, kids ask questions that are hard to answer, and I thought this would be an interesting and useful read.

The book is pretty straightforward. There's one page of introduction, before it goes straight to the questions, which are the headings, and each question gets 1-2 pages of answers, which are all simple, easy-to-understand explanations. The answers also include quotations from the Bible and include the specific books and numbers.

I liked that after each answer, there are follow-up questions you can ask your child to keep the discussion going. It could lead to some very interesting conversations. Plus, this is one of those books which you can either read in one sitting or just when a particular question comes up.

Some questions in the book are:
Did God have a mom and a dad?
What does God look like?
Why did Jesus pick Judas to be his disciple?
Why did God make germs?
Why doesn't God answer all my prayers?
Do I have to forgive everyone who hurts me?

Some of the questions, like Why did Jacob trick Isaac and Why Joseph's brothers sold him as a slave, I was already familiar with the answer before reading the book.

I actually learned quite a few things from this book, such as that God once made an iron axe head float (2 Kings 6:1-7) and that the Bible may have talked about dinosaurs (Psalm 104:26).

There are some questions, though, like How Could Jesus Walk on Water? wherein the answers aren't as definitive.

I would also have loved it if there had been some illustrations, even just small ones.

The book was good overall. However, I'm Catholic and love learning about other religions, and I saw a statement or two that I didn't agree with, such as Jesus being the only way to heaven. Also, in the answer to the question about reincarnation, there is mention of Hinduism and how millions of Hindus have become unhappy with their religion and have converted to Christianity. I don't know how accurate this is, but the inclusion of the statement about their conversion and how they once believed in reincarnation and now they don't so why should you believe it, made me a little uneasy. Maybe it was the way it was phrased?

Perhaps, I'm just not the target audience for this book, but if the other things I said about the book are to your liking, you should consider giving the book a try.

But what if you're a tiger cub, and that ferocious Siberian tiger is your dad? Well now, that changes everything. And you have that kind of relationship with God.


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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Review: The Last Time I'll Write About You by Dawn Lanuza


The Last Time I’ll Write About You is popular Filipino YA and romance writer Dawn Lanuza’s debut collection of poetry. Featuring beautiful, relatable poems about first love, this book is the perfect companion for anyone who has loved, lost, and emerged anew.
I'm a #romanceclass fan, so Dawn Lanuza is not a new author to me. I've also seen screenshots of some of the poems in this book from other #romanceclass readers who purchased the back when it was first published. I was very intrigued then but I had a long TBR list already.

A couple or so weeks after deciding to blog again, I got a pleasant surprise when I saw this on NetGalley and I knew I had to get it right away. 

The book is divided into several sections: THE FIRST, THE PULL, THE KISS, THE TALK, THE HURT, and THE LAST. The poems vary in length and rhyming pattern, with a lot of the poems not containing rhymes.

The poems in this book are very relatable. Some of the poems brought back memories for me, although of course I'm so far removed from those memories already that they don't hurt anymore and there's just this strange sort of nostalgia left. Sort of like what was described at the end of ACCEPTANCE.

I had a really hard time choosing a favorite quote for this book. I also loved the questions in THE HURT section. Usually with poetry books, I'd have maybe 3 or so poems I really liked. Here I had 9: TRUTH, HH, HABITS, THE WORST SLEEPOVER, UNASKED QUESTION, RESUSCITATE, LESSON, EPILOGUE, and PS. Not all of the poems worked for me, but quite a number did which is saying something since I can be hard to please.
You keep coming back to him
To convince yourself that
You still feel,
You still hurt,
Your heart still works.
But that's not love,
Don't hang on to that.


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Saturday, January 6, 2018

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

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++
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.

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).

In Spain they eat fish called besugo, and they have a roasted duck in Norway. 


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Friday, December 29, 2017

Review: Home Sweet Home by Mia Cassany

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.

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.

People don't have fur, though, so the roofs of the houses are covered in grass to keep them warm. 


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Thursday, December 14, 2017

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

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.

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.

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.


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