Thursday, April 12, 2018

Take a Look. More Fun Together! by Liesbet Slegers


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
It’s okay to be alone. But it’s much more fun when others join along! Is the bear resting by himself? Who is hiding in the garden? Extend the pages to find out! A playful interactive slide and see book about friendship and more for toddlers ages 18 months and up, with a focus on the child’s natural world.
MY TAKE:
I think I found a new children's book publisher to add to my favorites. So far, all the books my son and I have read from Clavis Publishing have been excellent, and this one is no exception.

This book has simple but colorful and eye-catching illustrations. The content is also quite fun. With each new animal, the text starts off by saying hi to the animal, describing what it is doing and asking if it's doing that alone. When you pull the side, the page extends to show you that the animal actually wasn't alone that day.

I love interactive books like this because they make reading fun for me and my child. The book is the perfect length to read-aloud to kids because it's long enough that you don't feel like it's lacking somehow but it's short enough not to tire both you and your child out.

MY SON'S REACTION:
He loved the book. The first time he saw that the book expanded to show that there were other animals on the scene, he was surprised and thought it was funny. His favorite of the animals were the bunnies and he gamely counted all the baby bunnies.

The vocabulary used was easy enough for him to grasp. As usual, I would point to some of the words he knew and some he might know. He picked up "Take a look!" easily after seeing it a couple of times in the book. Whenever he said "Take a look!" he also put a hand to his forehead as though he was looking out to sea. That was entertaining for me and it was an easy way to keep him interested in the book.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Hello, beautiful fish.
You are swimming in the water.
Are you feeling lonely?

RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Review: My Teacher's Not Here! by Lana Button


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
As soon as she arrives at school, Kitty knows there's trouble. “Smiling Miss Seabrooke should be here to meet me. But my teacher is missing and NOT here to greet me.” With no Miss Seabrooke, everyone should be sent home, right? But no! Kitty and her classmates line up as usual and walk into the school building. Kitty's worries build as she wonders how she will get through the day without her teacher. What will she do when her Thermos gets stuck or her jacket won't zip? Miss Seabrooke is the only one who can fix these things. Or is she? Author Lana Button perfectly captures the fears and uncertainties of a kindergartner dealing with her first substitute teacher. She also models a way to cope, as Kitty steps up to help the substitute --- a “ginormously tall” giraffe named Mr. Omar --- and discovers that sometimes change can be good. Button's playful and lively cadenced rhyming text, together with Christine Battuz's friendly illustrations of a full cast of animal characters at school, make this a terrific picture book for story time. It provides an excellent lead-in to prepare a class for their first substitute, or for a discussion about how it feels when life doesn't go as expected. A celebration of self-discovery and personal development, this book also makes a wonderful choice for character education lessons on kindness, empathy and perseverance. Educators will appreciate the heartfelt depiction of a young child's warm feelings for her teachers.
MY TAKE:
This was a fun book to read.

I didn't expect it to be a rhyming book, but it was a welcome surprise for me. Most of the children's books we have at home are not rhyming books and I've been looking for more books that have rhymes. I was impressed with the rhymes because they felt natural throughout the book. 

The book was a little longer than I expected. I read this aloud to my son, and I did feel a little fatigued during the second half of the book. I liked the story a lot, though. It was very cute.

I loved the illustrations as well. They were rendered using hand drawing and digital collage, and it just works for me. The drawings are very colorful and there's a lot going on that you can discuss with your child.

MY SON'S REACTION:
 My son hasn't had the opportunity to have a stranger become his substitute teacher since the teachers at his school sub for each other if someone isn't available. He did identify Miss Seabrooke by his teacher's name as the story progressed and he saw how Kitty interacted with her teacher.

My son was also familiar with the activities the children were doing in the book because they do the same things at his school. He identified the activities the kids were doing, and even pointed out to me two children who were having a tug-of-war over the car. He was angry at the character who seemed to be taking the car from the rightful owner.

The book may be a little long for his attention span, since his attention wandered every so often, but all I had to do was ask him a question about what the characters in the illustrations were doing and he would focus on the story again.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
He comes in handy
when stacking a tower,
and knows how to
fluff tissue into a flower. 
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Review: My Bed by Anita Bijsterbosch


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
There’s a star in the sky. Bear, Rabbit, Reindeer and the other animals are tired. Time for bed! Reindeer tries every bed he sees, but which bed is really his? A funny picture book about Reindeer and his own bed. For sleepy toddlers ages 24 months and up, with a focus on the child’s daily life.
MY TAKE:
There are many things I liked about this book. For one thing, the words are simple and there are only one to three short sentences per page so it's great for beginner readers. It was a perfect read for me and my child, and the length and topic is great for bedtime reading.

The illustration style and colors used worked well with the story, and there were little details here and there that provided additional things for my son and I to talk about. For example, Hare's racecar bed and yellow car, which my son liked a lot.

This is a lift-a-flap book, I think, and since I received an e-ARC, the effect became a little confusing for me because the front flap ended up being included in the next page, so I had to scroll forward and then backward to follow the story. I imagine with a physical copy, though, the book is quite perfect.

MY SON'S REACTION:
My son had fun reading along with me, although the scrolling back and forth did slow down our momentum a little bit.

He gamely said "Good night" to all the animals, and after awhile, started getting frustrated on the reindeer's behalf. I think that's why he was so pleased with the ending. I was pretty happy with the ending myself since it made mention of the fact that not all animals have a sleeping schedule similar to humans.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
"Hoot!" Owl hoots.
"I sleep during the day.
Now it is your turn." 
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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Monday, April 2, 2018

Review: Open the Suitcase by Ruth Wielockx


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Horse, Cat, Piggy and the other animals all have important jobs to do. They carry their belongings in suitcases. Which bag belongs to whom? Open the suitcases and take a look inside. An interactive lift-the-flap book for curious readers ages 3 and up. 
MY TAKE:
I like the premise of this book. For each suitcase, you are asked to guess which of the three animals owns it. You have to lift the flap to see the contents of the suitcase and from there, you make your guess. It's easy enough for most of the animals because there are little clues in their costumes and ages.

I liked the illustration style and colors used. The background colors were just one solid color each page and it worked with the concept and the drawings because your attention is kept entirely on the characters and what they are doing.

I read this aloud with my son, and even though the paragraphs weren't too lengthy, I think the number of suitcases may have been why I felt like it was a little wordy. On the bright side, at least that means there's more suitcases for your child to explore and more for you and your child to talk about.

MY SON'S REACTION:
He enjoyed guessing which animals owned the suitcase. He wasn't interested in trying to find the items in the suitcase in the page where the owner is revealed, though. He was more interested in mimicking what the owners and other animals were doing.

Despite the number of suitcases, which made the book feel a little bit lengthy, he was able to remain attentive until the last page of the book. His favorite characters were the Dog (because he loves playing "doctor"), the Rabbit (because he likes cars), and the Piggy (because their ages are similar).

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
Watch him pull Rabbit from his hat.
"Bravo!" Cat cheers. 
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Review: Herding Cats: A Sarah's Scribbles Collection by Sarah Andersen


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
Sarah's Scribbles,  Goodreads Choice Award for 2016:  Best Graphic Novels & Comics
". . . author Sarah Andersen uses hilarious (and adorable) comics to illustrate the very specific growing pains that occur on your way to becoming a mature, put-together grownup. Andersen’s spot-on illustrations also show how to navigate this newfound adulthood once you arrive, since maturity is equally as hard to maintain as it is to find … "
--The Huffington Post
Sarah valiantly struggles with waking up in the morning, being productive, and dealing with social situations. Sarah's Scribbles is the comic strip that follows her life, finding humor in living as an adulting introvert that is at times weird, awkward, and embarrassing.
MY TAKE:
I'm a fan of Sarah Andersen's work so when I saw this book on NetGalley, I knew I just had to read it. I was not disappointed.

The comic strips are so relatable (especially the ones that talked about anxiety/introversion) and I laughed so many times. One of my favorite comic strips was the In the Future/millenial slang one. I laughed so much at that one.

It's not all jokes, though.There's one comic where Sarah looks up what her childhood heroes are doing. I'm not going to spoil that one, but it was very relatable for me. There's also one comic where a neuro-oncologist is at a press conference and instead of being asked about her work, she gets asked what it's like to being a woman in her field. The bully-nerd comic was pretty poignant as well.

I didn't expect the second part of the book which was called "Making Stuff in the Modern Era: A Guide for the Young Creative." It's directed towards artists, but even non-artists can take something away from it.

Part One is about her art journey, from when she was just a child and what it's like for her now. It's mostly text with comics interspersed throughout. She makes a lot of good points, and I'd have to agree with the part about there being a lot of jerks online. Thankfully, there are a lot of good people too. Otherwise, the internet would be unbearable.

Part Two dealt with how artists tend to view their works from before and now, as well as how to deal with criticism and harassment. It's well worth the read for any artist and any creative, as well as others who are looking for something that can make them smile and laugh.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
"Contrary to popular belief, being introverted is not about your ability to socialize. It's about what you do after."
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?



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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Review: Firefighters and What They Do by Liesbet Slegers


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
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.
MY TAKE:
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.

MY SON'S REACTION:
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.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
"Thank you! You're my heroes!" waves the driver.
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: Pilots and What They Do by Liesbet Slegers


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
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 TAKE:
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 CHILD'S REACTION:
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.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
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...
RATING:


SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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Thursday, February 1, 2018

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


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:
“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!
MY TAKE:
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.

FAVORITE QUOTE/S:
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.
RATING:

SOUNDS INTERESTING?



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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

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


SUMMARY FROM NETGALLEY.COM:

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.
MY TAKE: 
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.
.
FAVORITE QUOTE/S: 
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.

RATING:
 
SOUNDS INTERESTING?


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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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