Tag Archives: children’s books

Book Review: Michael Recycle Meets Borat the Space Cat – Early Reader with a Powerful Message

Michael Recycle Meets Borat the Space Cat

By Ellie Patterson

Illustrated by: Alexandra Colombo

Michael Recycle Meets Borat the Space Cat is the fifth book in the Michael Recycle series. Recommended for 6 to 8-year-old children, the characters champion recycling and eco-friendly practices for children and adults.

Borat, the Space Cat, arrives on earth to tell the woes of his planet, Splearth, that is doomed due to global warming and overuse of natural resources. Now there is a countdown clock telling readers about the eminent demise of planet earth if things don’t change.

Children need to know about these serious issues, and Patterson writes a fun adventure with a serious undertone. The characters working hard to save planet earth is admirable. Kids love a page-turning adventure.

I liked the characters and loved the colorful illustrations. The rhyming felt forced to me, the story would have been fine without it. The target age group, if mature enough to hear about the very serious subject of global warming is most likely past rhyming text found in books for younger children.

This is the first book in the series that I have read. I recommend reading it with your child in case he or she has questions or fears about the heavy subject matter.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Remembering Ethan – Beautiful Book that Helps Children Work Through Grief

Remembering Ethan

By Leslea Newman

Illustrated by Tracy Nishimura Bishop

Sarah’s big brother Ethan died. She thinks about him and misses him all of the time. Her Mommy and Daddy won’t talk about him, so she thinks they do not miss him. Buttons, her cat, is the only one that seems to understand how sad she is.

One day she is so lonely and frustrated, she goes into Ethan’s room and sits down at his desk. She writes his name all over a paper and then draws a picture of Ethan giving Buttons and her a double piggy-back ride. But when she puts the picture on the fridge, her mommy and daddy get really upset.

Later, Mommy and Daddy are sitting on the couch and have placed the picture she drew on the wall over the fireplace. Daddy explained that they were very sad, but her picture helps them remember Ethan. Then they looked at pictures of their whole family, especially Ethan and remember how much they love him.

This touching picture book is heartbreakingly beautiful. The feelings that Sarah has as well as her parents are gently there for the reader to think about, especially if they have lost a loved one. Telling the story from Sarah’s point of view gives a voice to the feelings children may have after losing a sibling or other special person.

After the story is a section for parents or caregivers about dealing with and processing the grief of a child after the loss of a sibling. I sincerely hope you don’t have to deal with this reality in your life, but if you do, this book will help.

I highly recommend this book for all children and parents. Unfortunately, death touches all people and coping can be especially difficult. Be it the loss of a pet, a grandparent, neighbor or someone else your child is connected to, Remembering Ethan will help you help them and you cope with the loss.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Oldest Student – How Mary Walker Learned to Read

The Oldest Student,

How Mary Walker Learned to Read

By Rita Lorraine Hubbard

Illustrations by Oge Mora

Mary Walker was born into slavery in 1848 and always dreamed to be free. At fifteen, she and her family were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. As fabulous as freedom was, she still worked long hard days for very little money.

She really wanted to learn how to read, but there was no time for that. She received a Bible that she cherished but could not read. The time she would have spent learning to read was taken up with working and raising her family. She still longed to make sense of the squiggles she saw in books.

At age 114, she was living in a retirement home. A new reading class was announced in her building and Mary was determined to follow her dream of learning to read. She studied long and hard and finally the scribbles turned into words. She could read her beloved Bible. The US Department of Education proclaimed she was officially the nation’s oldest student.

The Oldest Student shares the true-life story of an amazing American, Mary Walker. The easy to read story is perfect for children ages 5 to 9, but not limited to this age group. It will spark inspiration to children who may be having trouble with reading or learning to do something else they are struggling with and inspire them to never give up just like Ms. Walker.

Award winning author Rita Lorraine Hubbard is also the author of several other books. One of which, Hammering for Freedom, I have read and enjoyed.

Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Never Talk to Ravens: Perfect Life Lessons Without Preaching for Young Readers

Never Talk To Ravens

By M. L. Furry

After a bit of teasing from his friends about how big his feet grew over the summer, Xavion snapped. He knew better than to fight with his friends, but he was tired of the comments. Giant feet were great for jumping, but people were always tripping over them and Xavion was super tired of hearing about them. So, when his friend shouted names at him on the playground, he fought back by yelling “four-eyes” at one of his friends with glasses.

Xavion felt bad as soon as he said it, but Mrs. Barnes heard him, so he is stuck in time-out for five recesses in a row. He got tired of watching the other kids play and decided to rest. Falling asleep quickly, he was awakened by a kangaroo tugging on his sleeve. Confused, Xavion thought the he might be dreaming.

Soon he finds out the kangaroo’s name is Jamieson; he is straight from Australia and needs Xavion’s help. Each day, during recess, Jamieson returns to Xavion and tells him about how he got tricked by some Ravens and really wants to get back home. Between the two of them, they hatch a plan.

Never Talk To Ravens is an engaging and entertaining illustrated chapter book for kids ages 7 to 10 to enjoy. The focus on kindness, helping others and actions leading to consequences are important issues for children to understand and work through. I really love that Never Talk to Ravens allows children to understand the concepts of the issues, yet does not bonk them over the head “do this, not that”. It allows kindness and helping others to subtly sink in as children read the story.

I really enjoyed the story, characters and message in Never Talk to Ravens. It is perfect for the age group intended. If you have younger children, they would most likely enjoy you reading it to them. I am excited to see it is the first book in the Xavion and Jamieson Adventure Series.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Back to Christmas – A Fun Holiday Frolic Full of Love and Redemption

Back to Christmas

By Dennis Canfield

The Krumwerth family is in deep trouble but they don’t even know it. Why you ask? Because they are on Santa’s naughty list for what will be the third year in a row. And everyone knows that that means they got on each other’s last nerve with bad behavior for the last time. After three years on the naughty list in a row, you are destined to be on it for all eternity. No more Christmas spirit and no way to get back on the nice list.

The head sorting elf, Marmel, gives Santa the bad news. But Santa is a compassionate man, he wants Marmel to give the Krumwerth’s one last chance for redemption, even though Marmel thinks it is futile.

The family is comprised of twelve-year-old Amanda, her younger brother Patrick and her always busy parents. All four of them are plugged in to electronics and tuned out of each other’s lives. Marmel appears to Amanda foretelling their future of hating Christmas due to landing on the forever naughty list. She is afraid, but what can a kid do to save Christmas? With the help of Santa’s younger brother RC, Marmel just might be able to help the Krumwerth Family and save himself while doing so.

Written as a children’s book, Back to Christmas brings the spirit of Christmas to all ages. Canfield reminds readers that the true gift of Christmas is the love, hope and charity surrounding the season, not the newest electronics or gift cards from the mall.

The characters are true to life and fun. Especially the elves and Santa’s younger brother. I would love to have some of his magic green cinnamon to help me wrangle penguins and get where I am going faster.

This adorable Christmas tale should be on everyone’s bookshelf or wish list. It will undoubtedly become a Christmas classic. Be sure to read the book before the movie (which will be fabulous) is optioned for the big screen.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: There is a Fighter in My Room – Perfect Bedtime Picture Book

There is a Fighter in My Room

By Megan Kjarbo

Illustrations by Penny Weber

Matthew is afraid to go to sleep because there is a fighter in his room. First, he asks his big brother to help him, but he cannot help because he says he is too small. Then his father cannot help him because he has to take out the garbage. Hopefully his mother can help him, she is the only one left to come to his rescue.

This is a cute bedtime story. The fear of a “monster” in the bedroom is real for some children. By reading about it, children may be comforted in the fact that someone they love can help them if they are afraid. There is a Fighter in My Room has a surprise ending that younger children will enjoy.

This is definitely “a read to me” story for preschoolers.  Some of the words are too difficult for early readers to read themselves, such as “approached” and “cautiously”. But that being said, it is a great way to introduce words to expand their vocabulary.

The illustrations are delightfully adorable, they bring the words alive for children and the adults that read to them. I recommend this book for young children. Especially those that have trouble going to sleep at night.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman  https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/there-s-a-fighter-in-my-room-megan-kjarbo

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Book Reviews: Game On! Fun Word Games for Kids

3.12.19Game On! More Awesome Activities for Clever Kids

By: Patrick Merrell

Over 100 pages of learning fun awaits the children that grab a pencil and open this book. Game On! Is a compilation of all types of wordy games and puzzles to challenge and delight the young people in your lives. It includes crossword puzzles, mazes, brainteasers, hidden puzzles and much, much more.

Colorful illustrations and the variety of activities encourage kids to see which type of puzzles they choose first. This type of book lends itself to be browsed through and completed in any order. Maybe your child is the type to want to do the pages in order, maybe not. Either way it is his or her choice.

This would not be appropriate for children that are too young to read and spell. But it is absolutely perfect for the 8 to 10 year-old age group. I suggest taking this on a road trip. You only need a pencil and eraser and your child will have hours of entertainment that doesn’t require headphones or a battery.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy from Dover Publications in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: What if an Octopus Followed Me Home? – Learn About Putting Others First in this Charming Picture Book

What if An Octopus Followed Me Home?

By Pamela D. Beverly

Illustrated by Dirceu Veiga

Julius has a new friend, Mack the octopus. Even though mom isn’t sure about letting Mack, stay she agrees to one overnight visit to see how it goes. They have a great time playing hide and seek, building with blocks and swimming in the bathtub.

When Julius goes to school the next day all he can do is think about his friend at home in the swimming pool. But something is wrong with Mack. He needs salt water, not water in a backyard pool.

Even though Julius loves Mack and Mack loves Julius, they both realize they need to do what is best for each other. That means they cannot live together but can still be friends.

Beverly’s delightful children’s book is perfect to teach children that it is great to be friends with others that are different. It will also reinforce thinking of the needs of other people or octopuses before themselves. Like all good children’s books, it is a great springboard for more discussions with your children.

I loved this book. The story is cute, yet has underlying values that all children need. The illustrations are colorful and cute. It is a book that is likely to be read over and over again, each time the child and reader will love it.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and Buzzbooks in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: The Boy from Tomorrow – Outstanding Middle Grade Fiction

The Boy from Tomorrow

By Camille DeAngelis

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Netgalley and the publisher.

Josie Clifford didn’t really have any friends. It was hard being the daughter of a mother who did “readings” for a living. Believers came to their house so that Mrs. Clifford could talk to their dead relatives. All of the children in town were either afraid of Josie and her younger sister Cassie or made fun of them because of their mother.

Alec Frost had to find some new friends. His parents divorced and now he and his mother moved to a very old house in a new town to start a new beginning. Unlike Josie, Alec did find a few friends and he also found a “talking board” secreted away in his new home. Similar to Ouija Boards, it was used in the early 1900’s to communicate with the dead.

When Alec and his friends started playing around with the board, they found it was more than a game. Somehow it was allowing them to communicate with Josie and Cass, residents of Alec’s new house a century ago. Alec now slept in the bedroom once occupied by the girls and their beloved Nanny and teacher, Emily.

When Mrs. Clifford found out what her daughters were doing she was furious. Unfortunately, the cruel and conniving Mrs. Clifford found a way to use her children and Alec for her own gain by having him tell her about events in the future. When life became more and more dangerous for the girls, could Alec figure out a way to save them even though they exist 100 years apart?

This fast paced children’s book is sure to become a classic. The intricate story draws the reader in making it impossible to put down. It is written for middle grade children but as an adult I quite enjoyed it.

The artful switching from the girls’ point of view to the present time point of view of Alec and his friends pulls the reader into the thoughts and feelings of the characters. I have to admit that I sniffled more than once. It is impossible not to get emotionally attached to Alec, Josie and Cassie.

The ending of this book was magnificent. It tied up all of the loose ends. It is important to not leave things hanging in books such as these, and The Boy from Tomorrow did not disappoint.

Copyright © 2018 Laura Hartman

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Children’s Book Review: A Morning with Grandpa – Delightful Story with Beautiful Illustrations

A Morning with Grandpa

http://inkygirl.com/inkygirl-main/2016/5/2/advice-for-writers-taxidermied-piranhas-and-family-memoriest.html

Author: Sylvia Liu

Illustrator: Christina Forshay

Reading level: Pre-K – 2nd grade

(picture source: http://inkygirl.com/inkygirl-main/2016/5/2/advice-for-writers-taxidermied-piranhas-and-family-memoriest.html)

Mei Mei (little sister) and Gong Gong (Grandpa) spend the morning together in the garden, both of them learning new things. Gong Gong is practicing Tai chi. He slowly goes through the motions, just as this form of martial arts requires. Mei Mei tries to follow Gong Gong’s motions, but can’t help putting her own spin on his moves.

Then Mei Mei shows her grandpa the yoga poses she has learned in school. This are more difficult for Gong Gong as he isn’t as limber as his young granddaughter. But that is okay, he does his best.

This delightful tale of the love between generations and the value of the time they spend with each other. Neither requires perfection, and that is the treasure of sharing something you love with a person you love.

Sylvia Liu’s story brings us into the garden with Mei Mei and her Gong Gong. The beauty of the morning shines through her words as well as the love her characters have for each other. It is obvious Liu has put her heart and soul into A Morning with Grandpa, making it a story that your children will love to have you to read them over and over and you will enjoy it as much as they do.

Christina Forshay’s created exquisite works of art to accompany each page of A Morning with Grandpa.  Her colorful illustrations are mesh perfectly with Liu’s story, both children and adults will enjoy them.

Before the story begins, Liu gives the reader translations of words so everything is clear before you start to read. This picture book also has a section in the back with simple instructions for  yoga and  Tai chi moves as well as pictures of the poses.

Sylvia Liu’s award winning book (Lee & Low Books New Voices Award 2016) will become a well-loved book by preschoolers and early readers alike. It is the perfect book for teachers to read to their classes.

I was very excited to win a copy of A Morning with Grandpa from Kathy Temean’s blog “Writing and Illustrating”. You can check it out here:  https://kathytemean.wordpress.com/. On a personal note, my first grandchild is scheduled to arrive in October and A Morning with Grandpa is one of the first books for his or her library. All children should have a library of fabulous books and I don’t think it could be complete without this book.

 

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