Tag Archives: Kidlit

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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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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Book Review: Armstrong & Charlie – Great Middle Grade Novel

Armstrong & Charlie

By Steven B. Frank

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

Armstrong and Charlie are sixth graders this year. Both of them have reservations about the coming school year for very different reasons.

Armstrong is going to be bussed to a new school that is much better than the one in his neighborhood, so he will be leaving all of his friends. Everyone knows that friends are very important, and Armstrong is worried he won’t fit it.

Charlie will be losing some of his friends. Their parents aren’t as excepting as Charlie’s are about integrating his school. He also has a deeper problem. His brother died not too long ago and once he completes sixth grade, Charlie will be older than his brother ever was.

The school year starts out rocky, but soon the boys begin an awkward kind of friendship. It is shaky at best, and they don’t see each other out of school because Armstrong lives so far away.

Charlie’s mom and dad are not the same as before. The death of his brother has changed their family dynamic. Armstrong has a bustling family that includes four sisters and his parents. His mom is a nurse and his father was injured in the military.

The boy’s personal lives do not mingle – until a weekend trip with their class. The question is – will the boys grow closer or will they make choices that will cause their differences to explode?

This is a great book for kids in middle school. It is a time of changes and sometimes they feel like they are the only ones feeling left out or different. Armstrong & Charlie shows them they are like other kids their age.

I really like where this book ended up. At first it seemed a bit cliché with the racial issue of the white family being from the “better” area of town and the black family being from the “worse” side of town. For a few chapters I almost wished it had been flipped, with Charlie being bussed.

But as the story unfolds, the author squashes all of my doubts. It is an interesting plot with enough surprises to keep me turning the pages to see what happens next. The choices the boys make have consequences, both good and bad. The author isn’t afraid to let the reader know what could and does happen as the boys grow up during the school year.

I highly recommend this book.

Copyright © 2017 Laura Hartman

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