Tag Archives: Kidlit

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 Off-Beat Cinder Ella Who Wants Her Shoe Back…Without the Prince

The Off-Beat Cinder Ella Who Wants Her Shoe Back…Without the Prince

By Anne Murray

This modern-day fairy tale is all about Cinder Ella AKA Cheyenne and her mean stepmother and stepsisters. She has the same troubles as the old version of the story, has to clean up after the awful new wife and new siblings her father brings into the house, there is a dance, a shoe and a prince-ish guy that comes looking for her. She also seems to have figured life out by the end and will live happily ever after without the prince.

Moving through the story at breakneck speed, Cheyenne/Cinder Ella is much more mature than the suggested age group. It is written for 7 to 12-year-olds and is more suited for the older end of this age group due to the vocabulary. Let me make it perfectly clear that there is nothing inappropriate at all, but the maturity level to understand words such as obligatory, endorsed, drudgery and taffeta would be lost on most 7-year-olds.

The illustrations are enchantingly beautiful, bringing the characters to life. It isn’t a graphic novel, nor is it a picture book. The 7 and 8-year-olds would love the illustrations, but most 12-year-olds don’t need illustrated books.

The conclusion of The Off-Bead Cinder Ella Who Wants Her Shoe Back…Without the Prince is my favorite part of this book. She lives happily ever after on her terms, which is the best way for anyone to be truly happy.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from Reedsy Discovery (https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/the-off-beat-cinder-ella-who-wants-her-shoe-back-without-the-prince-anne-murray) in exchange for a fair and honest review. Copyright © 2020 Laura Hartman

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Book Review: Coming Home for Christmas – Heartwarming Story of Love and Redemption

Coming Home for Christmas

By RaeAnne Thayne

Luke Hamilton is going to jail unless he can prove he did not murder his missing wife. Ironically, he has recently found her. The good news is she is alive and well so he cannot be arrested. The bad news is the woman he has loved for years chose to leave him and her two young children behind seven years ago without a word. A private investigator confirmed that Elizabeth is alive and Luke was going to leave her alone until he realized he had to bring her home long enough to prove she is not dead and he is not a murderer.

Elizabeth understands, but is terrified. Many things have changed in her life since she walked out on her family. She has another life, but has secretly caught glimpses of her family during the last few years. She would love nothing more than spending time with her children, but understands Luke’s protectiveness because of the pain she has caused by leaving them.

Luke is determined to get the entire situation taken care of in a few days. Unfortunately, Christmas is just around the corner and the feelings that he has for his wife have never really changed. Yes, he is angry, but he loves her. It will take a Christmas miracle to bring this broken family back together after all they have been through.

Coming Home for Christmas is a heartwarming story of love and redemption. The holiday setting enhances the sense of magic in the air. The underlying mystery of where and why Elizabeth has been for the last seven years is woven throughout the pages until the reader finally gets the last pieces of the puzzle in the final chapters. The mystery of her disappearance adds another layer to an already interesting plot that I thoroughly enjoyed.

This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Thayne, who is a prolific romance writer. She has written several different romance series, including the Haven Point series, of which Coming Home for Christmas is #10. Even though I had not read the previous books in the series, I was never confused or lost. It works well as a stand-alone novel. I really enjoyed this Christmas romance with a bit of mystery. If you are a fan of Debbie Macomber, you will love this book and author.

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: Parker Bell and the Science of Friendship – Making School and Experiments Fun

Parker Bell and the Science of Friendship

By Cynthia Platt

Illustrations by Rea Zhai

Parker Bell is super excited. Today is going to be the biggest science announcement at school ever. She loves everything about science and cannot wait to grow up to be a famous scientist like one of her science heroes. Jane Goodall, famous for her work with gorillas and Mae Jamison, the amazing astronaut are her two favorites. She has pictures of them in her bedroom, which doubles as her Mad Science Lab. She loves making things like the automatic feeder for her guinea pig, Algebra. But sometimes gets in trouble with her experiments. One time she took the toaster apart to see how it worked and couldn’t put it back together.

Soon the best day ever turned sour from the start. Why is Theo sitting in her seat on the bus instead of her best friend Cassie? She hasn’t liked Theo since he messed up an experiment in class with her and she got the lowest points ever. The science announcement doesn’t happen until the very end of the school day. And then, they announce that three kids have to be on a team for the Science Triathlon instead of two. Why can’t it be just her and Cassie, they would crush it. But now what will happen now that Cassie adds Theo to the team without even asking her?

The three children will have to get along to win this competition, but Theo will hardly speak to Parker. Strangely, he talks to Cassie all the time. Is Parker going to lose her best friend? She is determined to not only win the Triathlon, but also run a side experiment to see if she can become a better friend with Theo in the process.

This chapter book has great ideas and lessons for grade school kids. It encourages science, friendship and learning. The examples of great scientists such as Goodall and Jamison will spark further interest and discussions with your child. There are nods to sharing, not always coming in first as well as recycling. Youngsters will also enjoy the guinea pig and chicken facts. The overall information at just the right level for a chapter book is perfect.

I hope Ms. Platt plans to bring back Parker and her friends. A new series starring these characters would delight me as well as countless kids and the adults that care about them.

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

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman.

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Book Review: Foiled – Kid’s Action and Adventure Book Not to be Missed

Foiled

By Carey Fessler

Best friends cannot keep secrets from each other. That is why Billy has to show Kate, his next door neighbor and bestie what his dad brought him home from work. Kate is interested, but she is in trouble for not doing her chores and has to wait until later to see it. When she finally gets to see the pieces of foil Billy has, she is amazed that it flattens out by itself when either of them crumple it up. Billy’s dad is in the military, and swears Billy to secrecy because he wasn’t supposed to bring the foil home with him.

Little did they know those tiny pieces of foil would lead them on a wild adventure. They have to escape capture from an agent with the CIA, drive cars and fly an airplane. Will they ever be reunited with their families? Will the CIA agent catch them and take away the magic foil? Are there aliens involved?  There are so many questions, and all of them are answered in due time in this action filled story that will have kids and grownups cheering for the good guys and happy with the ending.

Foiled is set in the late 1940’s near Roswell, New Mexico. It is based on facts and spiced up with fiction. As a kid, I remember them talking about Roswell, the UFO and the aliens that everyone speculated had landed in the 40’s. It was still a mystery when I was a kid in the 1960’s. Today, it is still a mystery of sorts and the author explains the true facts she includes in her story and the things that are fiction at the end of the book.

I am far past 9 years old, but thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was interesting and fun to read. The throwback to party line phones, 4 digit phone numbers (yes, I remember my 4 digit number from those days) makes you realize you have traveled back in history. The lack of computers, cell phones, tracking devices and all other things that ruin good action novels these days are not included because they did not exist.

Per Ms. Fessler’s website, her books are action adventure books for children 9 and older. It is fabulous that she puts an approximate age range as a guide for parents and others who love and buy books for the young people in their lives. It makes it so much easier to choose a great book that the kids will enjoy.

This is Carey Fessler’s fourth book, but the first that I’ve read. I highly recommend it for the youngsters in your lives (be sure to borrow it after they are done).  Just imagine the great conversations you can have about history and what the world was like when you were growing up after you have both read it.

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: The Princess and the Pickup Truck – Not Your Typical Princess!

The Princess and the Pickup Truck

By Bil Lepp

Illustrations by Lottie Looney

This fractured fairy tale is an adorably southern version of the Princess and the Pea. Like the classic tale, a prince is on the hunt for his perfect princess. But he has troubles from the get go.

Traveling from mountain top to mountain top, he searches for the perfect bride. And once he finds her, how can he be sure she is really a princess?

The adorable and humorous pictures help bring this tale to life. The southern flair is evident throughout each page as the story unfolds. Princesses can come in many shapes and sizes and thanks to Bil Lepp calico is as cool as a ball gown, hiking boots are as graceful as glass slippers and hairdos can be messy instead of perfectly piled on a princess’s head.

You know you are in the southern United States when a book starts out with “Y’all”.  The book is written in southern vernacular, but it is truly part of the charm of the story, so don’t let it put you off if you are from the North. Even if you are not from the south, just go with it and enjoy the sweet southern ride.

Clever and colorful, your kids will love this fun take on a classic. If you and the little ones you read to are fans of Joshua Funks’ books, you will love The Princess and the Pickup Truck. Move over perfect princesses, there’s a new girl in town!

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from the publisher 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: A Place to Start a Family – Kidlit Poems – Cute, Creative and Informative!

A Place to Start a Family

Creatures that Build

By David L. Harrison

Illustrated by Giles Laroche

David L. Harrison has created beautiful poems to entertain and enlighten children and adults about animals, insects and birds and where they live. From the black-tailed prairie dog to the European paper wasp, each creature was spotlighted with their own poem describing their habitat and habits.

It is fun to read and informative.  Tucked next to beautiful illustrations, which make the creatures come to life, are nuggets of knowledge that I find fascinating. Did you know baby yellow garden spiders are the size of dust?  Or that King Cobras are the only serpents that makes a nest of leaves?

At the end of the book is a section of more information on each of the creatures featured in the book. There is a page for underground, land, water and air creatures as well as places to learn more about your favorites.

Harrison has published over ninety books for children. He has even had an elementary school named after him! You can find more of his work on his website: www.davidlharrison.com

If you are a fan of children’s books, writing and illustrating, you need to go to visit Kathy Temean’s blog or website. There are so many tips from this fabulous illustrator as well as frequent book give-aways you will learn something every day.  I want to thank Kathy Temean for all the the information she has shared and because I won this book from entering on her website  http://www.kathytemean.com/

If it wasn’t for Kathy I would never have known about this fabulous author and book. Now I cannot wait to read more of his treasures.

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