Archive for the 'children’s books' Category

This is Not a Valentine by Carter Higgins Illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

This is Not a Valentine
We received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for our honest review.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and it’s a fun day for many, but the day might also inspire awkward feelings in children and adults alike. We live during a time where we need to reconsider our ideas about what is romantic and appropriate behavior in light of the fact that we now realize some of our older ideas aren’t working. The best place to truly effect change is with children! So it’s encouraging to discover this lovely children’s book This is Not a Valentine that lays the foundation for respect in a relationship. Even if the relationship isn’t romantic in nature, This is Not a Valentine establishes the essential cornerstones of what makes a healthy and functional relationship.

In This is Not a Valentine, the young boy fancies a little girl but he makes sure to emphasize that this is not a valentine, because of all the reasons Valentine’s Day doesn’t work for him. Instead, it’s an expression of friendship. As he explains why it’s not a Valentine, he replaces some of the romantic ideas of Valentine’s (like fancy jewels or sugary sweets) with an emphasis on genuine friendship, acts of respect, and little moments that matter.

The illustrations are adorable and suitable to convey the story. The text itself is a step above, a lovely collection of words that work to portray the genuine affection the boy has for the little girl.

I enjoyed this book quite a lot, and I think it’s a suitable read for children and adults alike. It’s sweet and good natured and a perfect addition to any Valentine collection in schools or the home. But it can certainly be used and enjoyed at any other time of year as well. I also enjoy the diversity of the book, it’s nice to see!


Mikey and the Swamp Monster by Jeanne Moran illustrated by Michael Rausch

Saturday, October 8th, 2016


When the stinky Swamp Monster returns, an imaginative boy uses his monster-stopper kit to protect his home and family. A humorous picture book which celebrates the blurry lines between inventiveness and reality.

My Comments: My second graders and I enjoyed this book. It has a small twist which made us laugh. At first it seems like possibly a Halloween book, but really it could be read all year. The artwork is kid-friendly. It made my students think about their siblings and cousins. I recommend this book — very cute!

I received a free copy from the author in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy (A San Francisco Story) by Elisa Kleven

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016


For this gingerbread boy, it’s eat or be eaten!

When Shirley bakes herself a gingerbread treat to bring to school, the last thing she expects is for him to leap out of her lunchbox and begin gobbling everything in sight. A wild chase ensues—on foot and by cable car—through iconic San Francisco neighborhoods including the Mission, Chinatown, North Beach, and Fisherman’s Wharf. Will Shirley be able to catch the gingerbread boy before he eats up the whole city? Friendship is at the heart of this retelling of the classic folktale. A recipe for (non-magical) gingerbread treats is included.

My Comments:  This is a fun book with great illustrations, and it will make a great addition to my Gingerbread Boy collection. The story is very different AND it has a happy ending! The gingerbread boy goes all throughout San Francisco and tastes the treats–FUN!

Kangaroo Kisses by Nandana Dev Sen

Monday, September 12th, 2016


It’s time for… BED!

Not yet!

ELEPHANT must floss,

to make his teeth gloss!

Then I’ll brush furry BEAR.

Please brush your own HAIR!

Follow one mischievous child as she delays getting ready for bed, and has some amazing wildlife encounters along the way!

A perfect picture book for reading aloud at bedtime – or any time.

My Comments: This is a very sweet book Even though it is perfect for very young children (preschool or Kindergarten), my second graders loved it! The illustrations by  Pippa Curnick are very kid-friendly and striking. I can’t wait to read it to my grandsons!

Flossopher and the Brushing Trees by Dr. Mike King

Sunday, March 6th, 2016


An adventure book for young Tooth Brushers. A children’s book that teaches the importance of taking care of your teeth. The Brite Forest is where Flossopher, who knows everything there is to know about teeth, lives with his friends. The evil Cavidorg plots to steal the magic Brushing Crown from, Sparkla, the mother of all Brushing Trees. Without the toothbrushes that the Brushing Trees grow, no one will brush, and everyone’s teeth will turn rotten. That way Cavidorg’s plant, Denture-Con, can make even more fake teeth for the world. Flossopher must find a way to save the Brite Forest from Cavidorg’s army of cavity bugs.

My Comments: What a fun book! I read this book to my second graders last week and they were completely engaged. The story is cute, the characters are darling, and the message is clear. STAY away from candy and sweets and make sure you brush your teeth at least twice a day—or else you may lose your teeth 🙂 Another completely fun thing about the book is that a you need to search for a tooth care kit. We could only find 6 of the 7. Five are easy to find and one is just about impossible (at least for us, maybe you will have better luck). I would say this is a great book for primary-aged children. My class of second-graders is about 7 or 8 years old. Maybe even up to fourth grade would enjoy this book. The illustrations are colorful as well. I will read this every year now!

Sharks and Dolphins (A Compare and Contrast Book) by Kevin Kurtz

Sunday, February 7th, 2016


Sharks and dolphins both have torpedo-shaped bodies with fins on their backs. They slice through the water to grab their prey with sharp teeth. But despite their similarities, sharks and dolphins belong to different animal classes: one is a fish and gets oxygen from the water and the other is a mammal and gets oxygen from the air. Marine educator Kevin Kurtz guides early readers to compare and contrast these ocean predators through stunning photographs and simple, nonfiction text.

My Comments: This is a beautiful read for children. The pictures are outstanding. The text is simple enough for my second graders to enjoy. We used this book as part of our research for informational writing on sharks, and it gave us some good information. I like the way it is a compare/contrast book discussing the similarities and differences between the two animals. Different types of the two animals were highlighted. In the back of the book there is a sections entitled, “For Creative Minds.” This section gives even more information about sharks and dolphins. Arboreal provides great non-fiction texts for children. I highly recommend them!

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

Pub in Wheels by Linda Simon

Sunday, January 3rd, 2016

pug in wheels

About the book: Five-year-old Josh loves dogs. He lives in a cozy house with a pretty garden, but the one thing that’s missing is a doggie! One day, Josh’s Auntie Lise brings over a homeless dog for him but forgets to mention: Sadie cannot use her back legs, so she has a cart with wheels to help her get around. When Josh sees Sadie, he is confused. He has a never seen a dog with wheels before. Auntie Lise and Mommy explain Sadie’s challenge to Josh. Acceptance is Josh’s first lesson. From the very first meeting, Sadie and Josh become close friends. Josh does not expect too much from Sadie, but he is pleasantly surprised when she happily retrieves the ball and gobbles up biscuits like any fun-loving dog. Sadie brings many questions to the surface, such as fostering, adoption, disability, and care giving. Mommy and Auntie Lise answer all Josh’s questions until he and young readers thoroughly understand that these issues are an everyday part of life. It’s not all smooth sailing for Josh and Sadie. When they face a problem, Josh takes responsibly and saves the day. Soon enough, Josh and Sadie realize the can rely on each other.

My Comments: What a great read! Children and dogs are a natural duo and this book is a good way to introduce disabilities as well as pet adoption to children. Sadie is a dog with a weak back and legs. She needs a “wheelchair” in order to function as any other dog, but she does par excellence. This book provides a natural avenue of discussion of several issues for families.

The Midwife of Bethlehem by Shad Driggs

Sunday, October 25th, 2015



From the back: The Christmas Nativity is ‘the greatest story every told’. Every year, it is shared and performed a million times in a wide variety of settings and languages. While pondering what part of the story hasn’t been told, I thought of the women who might have been called on to help Mary that night. I wondered about the spiritual experience they might have had. While the Bible doesn’t say others were present, it is reasonable to think that they might have been.

About the author: Shad Driggs is a businessman who lives in Naperville, Illinois. He and his wife Darla, and their six children dedicate many hours in service to their church and community.

My comments: When I think that there isn’t another way the Christmas story can be told, lo and behold there IS – by the viewpoint of midwives–and two of them – Rebecca and Rachel. I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to share it with my granddaughters and grandson during the holiday season.  A book like this can be used to begin new holiday traditions. I never really thought about midwives being present at the birth of Jesus, but why not? They are not mentioned at all. I always thought Joseph delivered the baby, but maybe not? The illustrations in this book are very nostalgic, so I like them for that reason. This is a great addition to any child’s Christmas library.

I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.

The Beavers’ Busy Year by Mary Holland

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014


Along a stream a dam pops out of the water. Beavers are busy at work! These aquatic mammals have unique traits that aid them in building the perfect lodge to raise young beavers and keep predators away. Mary Holland’s vibrant photographs document the beavers’ activities through the course of a year. Do these beavers ever take a break? Follow along as they pop through the winter ice to begin the busy year of eating bark, building dams and gathering food just in time for winter to come again.


My Comments:  Another great non-fiction text from Sylvan Dell.  My second graders and I enjoyed learning about beavers while reading this together.  What interesting creatures!  The illustrations, also by Mary Holland, are real-life and quite amazing.  The book includes a section to extend information as well as the web site has a 15-30 page teaching activities guide to go along with the story. Most Sylvan Dell books are AR leveled as well as Lexile leveled and Fountas and Pinnell DRA leveled.  This is a great non-fiction and fun resource for children grades K-4.

This book was released on March 1, 2014.  I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Kali’s Story (An Orphaned Polar Bear Rescue) – by Jennifer Keats Curtis Illustrated by John Gomes

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

kali's story



Kali’s Story

Click above to get a preview video of Kali!



 Follow the rescue of orphaned polar bear Kali (pronounced Cully) from the Inupiat village of Kali (Point Lay in English) to the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage to his new home at the Buffalo Zoo in New York with Luna, a female polar bear. This photographic journey beautifully captures the remarkable development of the cub, who initially drinks from a baby bottle, sucks his paw for comfort, and sleeps with a “blankie” as he rapidly grows into the largest land carnivore on earth.

My Comments:  My second graders and I LOVED this book.  The illustrations and writing is engaging and captivating to young children.  Kali is adorable, soft, and fuzzy!  We fell in love!  As always there are very interesting teaching pages at the end of the book which extends the story. With the Common Core State Standards emphasizing non-fiction reading, Sylvan Dell should be the first place teachers look for interesting, child-friendly, and age appropriate material!

This book was released on March 1, 2014.  I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.