Mud Show Monday

Happy (Mud Show) Monday!

I have so many books to review! I hope you enjoy this week’s Mud Show Memos and look for more reviews at different times throughout the week.

Bring on the books!

Armadillo in new york.png

To: Arlo the Armadillo

From: A New Yorker

Subject: Safe Travels Kid!

I just read about your New York City trip as told by Julie Kraulis in “An Armadillo in New York”. Who’d have thought an armadillo would be so well traveled! And come all the way from Brazil to see New York City!

I think the kiddos will like reading about your travels too. You sure saw a lot of stuff! There’s a lot to see in the city, lucky you had your Grandfather’s travel journal to guide you. Wouldn’t want you to get lost trying to find that Lady Liberty.

I sure learned a lot about the Big Apple and even some American History too. What a clever Armadillo you are! My favorite part was thinking about all those elephants marching across Brooklyn Bridge. Gee whiz! That must’ve been quite the sight.

Speaking of sights, Julie Kraulis sure did a fine job capturing you in all your armadillo glory. Lovely illustrations for a lovely armadillo, and she captured the magic of New York City too. I’m sure all those pretty pictures will keep the kiddos entertained!

Speaking of kiddos. I’ll probably read your tale to the littlest ones, but older ones, you know in that 6-8 year old range, they’ll enjoy it on their own. I’m thinking they might want to make their own travel journal after reading your adventure.

Oh yeah, and here’s five stars. You can put them in your passport if you’d like!

outdoor math

To: Math Enthusiasts

From: A Math Enthusiast

Subject: MATH!

Oh boy, there’s nothing I like more than a good math problem! I like to crunch those numbers, swirl ’em around in my head, really visualize them. Guess what? There are lots of math things to do outdoors.

In “Outdoor Math”, Emma AdBage describes all sorts of activities to do outside involving all the elements of nature. Rocks, sticks, leaves, snow, and more can be used to calculate and play with numbers.

I must admit some activities are a bit more fun than others. Most of them involved only things I could pluck off the ground or take from some unsuspecting slug, but a few activities needed items of the store-bought variety. Oh, and I’m a big kid (8 years old) so I could do all the stuff by myself or with my classmates’ help. My little brother needed some help, so he had to ask his teacher to guide some of the activities.

I can also count 1..2..3! 3 out of 5 stars just because some of the activities require adult help, and my mom didn’t like it when I put a snowman inside and timed how long it would take him to melt.

fourteenth goldfish book

To: Ellie

From: The Fifteenth Goldfish

Subject: Symbolism of a Goldfish

Life is short. I’m a goldfish, I should know.

Thought you had a magic goldfish didn’t you? That goldfish could have told you, life is short. Us goldfish, we know these things. That’s about all we know.

I do know a bit more after reading your story, “The Fourteenth Goldfish” by Jennifer L. Holm. Seems like you learned quite a bit too. Your grandpa he’s a smart guy. A bit kooky, but smart. He’s not always right, but then again, who is? Not your mom. Not you. Not me. I’m just a goldfish.

Kids, 10 years old and up, will like reading your book too. It’s good to talk about science stuff and experiments and how the world works. Your life is pretty interesting, with your Grandpa discovering the fountain of youth and all. He’s a teenager, your babysitter, and still your Grandpa. Like I said, kooky.

I really hope your Grandpa and you sort things out with your Mom. I’d like to be your next goldfish, but with all this stress your Grandpa’s teenage hormones have brought to the house, I don’t think your Mom will be shopping for pets anytime soon.

I’m just a goldfish. I don’t know much but I do know your story was great. I’d give you five stars if I had them, but I’m just a goldfish.

My reviews for some of the books mentioned above may also be found at Net Galley. Follow the links below to learn more about these exciting tales (and others) including publishing dates.

An Armadillo in New York by Julie Kraulis

Sheepy and the Riddle of the Occurrence by Henrietta Williams and Illustrated by Richard Berner

Outdoor Math by Emma AdBage

Are you an author or publisher? Have a book you’d like me to review? If my reviewing style appeals to you, head on over to my Book Review Submissions page and send me your query (or book). New book reviews every Sunday and Monday!

Professional Reader
I review for BookLook Bloggers

Sunday Special

I never imagined I’d have so many books to review! This is a good problem to have…I think 😉

I’m still learning how to run this blog, and it will take a bit to get in the groove of things. I’ll still have Mud Show Mondays (hooray!) but I will also post book reviews at other times during the week. Mondays will now be reserved for the books I enjoy the most.

Sunday reviews will be reserved for books with a christian influence or message.

I have joined BookLook Bloggers, operated by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, and the books I receive from them generally have a spiritual message, but not always. Sometimes the books are simply kid friendly texts published by a christian publisher.

On with the reviews!

Angels in the Bible Storybook (2016, Zonderkidz)

There are angels throughout the Bible. Some appear with song and trumpets, while others are peddlers on the road. This storybook brings to light all that angels have done for many important figures in the Bible. With a message that angels are all around us, the text carries the reader through various Bible passages where angels acted on God’s behalf to bring his love and guidance to the people.

“Angels in the Bible Storybook” written by Allia Zobel Nolan and illustrated by Alida Massari retells the Bible with an emphasis on the actions of angels, in a beautiful and loving way. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and bring to life the stories from the Bible. Each passage used in the book has been carefully paraphrased by the author. The passages selected are interesting, as some may be lesser known to children. The text is perfect for beginning and early readers to grasp many pivotal stories from the Bible.

The book itself is heavy and solid with a beautiful cover illustration. Overall, this is a treasury of stories and illustrations, sure to delight both children and adults.

Five stars!

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.


Willie Out West (2016, WestBowPress)

Willie Walrus is bored! He wants adventure in his life. When he hears about danger in the Big West he’s ready to go, and then Octopus shows up on his doorstep asking for help. Willie must go, of course! The citizens of Big West are glad to see him, until Old Walter rolls into town. When the citizens tuck tail and run, will Willie have the courage to face Old Walter on his own?

In “Willie Out West”, writer and illustrator Rhonda Walker combines two of kids’ favorite things, animals and the wild west. Children will enjoy the illustrations and the Octopus with a spur on each tentacle, but the story itself falls a bit flat. The text is too wordy for the book’s intended audience of beginning readers. The plot itself will also leave more questions than answers and the ending is less than satisfying. Also, I was expecting a christian message as this was advertised through a christian publishing company, but there is no clear christian or religious theme.

Children who enjoy pictures of animals decked out in wild West gear will enjoy this tale. They might have fun making up their own story about Willie Walrus in the Big West.

2.5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.

Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for a Mud Show Monday!

Mud Show Monday

Happy Mud Show Monday!

I know you need something to brighten your Monday…so here are some new book reviews! And these books are hot off the press 🙂

I hope you enjoy these Mud Show Memos, and let me know in the comments if you (or your children) have read any of these fabulous books.

May all your (Mon)days be circus days!


too many carrots

To: Rabbit

From: A Concerned Forest Citizen

Subject: You have a problem

I don’t know how to tell you this, but… you have a problem. I think Katy Hudson hit the nail on the head when she titled your exploits “Too Many Carrots”.

Look, it’s nice to collect things, but there comes a point in every rabbit’s life when enough is enough! At this rate you’ll end up on Hoarders.

I’ll admit, I did chuckle quite a bit at your plight. But it must be your lucky rabbit feet that you are blessed with so many wonderful friends. I do hope they help you reach a solution, or maybe you’ll think of something on your own.

Either way, I’ll give you 5 carrots stars because children of all ages will delight in your clever tale and beautifully detailed illustrations.


gator goes by bike

To: Gator

From: An Animal Lover

Subject: Where were you?

I just finished the account of your workday in “Gator Goes by Bike” by Keenan Hopson. He captured you and all the other animals brilliantly with his illustrations but I must say I was a bit disappointed by the end.

Where were you?

You were on the cover of the book. This book was supposedly about you…and you weren’t in it. What a conundrum!

Did you get lost on your way to work? Fall off your bike? Visit a friend? All perfectly reasonable excuses and exciting adventures, but that wasn’t in the book either.

It was a sweet story about animals making their way to work (and what a clever workplace it is!), but overall I missed seeing you dear Gator.

I do hope Keenan Hopson writes another tale of your adventures and you are actually in it because I do so enjoy his magnificent way of illustrating you and your friends.

I’ll give you 4 stars for appearing on the cover, and for having such lovely friends. I think children 3 to 5 years old would also find you charming.

shasha and wally watson

To: The Faker

From: Neighborhood Watch

Subject: We’re watching you!

Hey you Faker! I was going to tell you the neighborhood watch is keeping all their eyes on you, but you’re actually pretty crafty and good at hiding. So, even though we can’t keep our eyes on you, those Watson kids can!

We’ve been following Wally’s wild romp as recounted by Ted Kelsey in “Shasha and Wally Watson VS. The Faker” and you better watch out, that Wally Watson is a smart kid!

Little Wally can remember anything. So if you’re wearing a shirt with 6 buttons today and 15 buttons tomorrow…he’ll remember! You can’t fool him!

And if you think that sounds like useless information, well…it is. But that’s where his sister comes in! Those two are like two pieces of a two-piece puzzle. If Wally gets distracted with worries of imminent death or disappearing, well Shasha…errr Sasha, steps right in and straightens everything out.

So you better watch your backs, and your fronts, because those Watson kids are watching and remembering and putting this mess of a puzzle together faster than you can throw away the pieces.

We’re giving Wally 5 stars for making us laugh out loud, bite our nails and squeal with fright. We know Wally would rather have 3 stars or 6 stars but hopefully he’ll be OK with 5 stars with 5 points each.

the girl from everywhere

To: Nix

From: A Young Cartographer

Subject: Take me with you!

I am still dreaming of your life after reading Heidi Heilig’s account in “The Girl From Everywhere”. You really are from everywhere! Traveling through time like you do, I don’t know how you keep everything straight. You truly are a superb navigator. The crew is lucky to have you, even if the Captain doesn’t always show his appreciation.

I was spellbound by the fantastical descriptions and amazing locations. The Temptation sounds like one cool (and maybe a little terrifying) ship. You’re lucky to have such a great crew to travel with. Speaking of the crew…I’d like to join you!

I am a cartographer by trade, and I believe my map making skills might be useful to you on your journeys. I’m familiar with geography and history of many different places so I can produce maps of exacting accuracy for a multitude of places…and times…that’s the key right?

Give it some thought, in the mean time I’ll be waiting for Heidi Heilig’s second account of your journey and telling everyone I know about you and your incredible adventures.

Some might be concerned with the topic of drug use which recurs throughout your tale, but it is not portrayed as an admirable or desirable addiction. Thanks for limiting the romance too! I’m not too much into that mushy gushy stuff.

If I give you 5 stars will you stow them with your other treasures?

Gator Goes by Bike” and “Shasha and Wally Watson VS The Faker” provided for free by Story Cartel in exchange for my honest review.

Too Many Carrots” and “The Girl From Everywhere” provided for free by Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.

Are you an author or publisher? Have a book you’d like me to review? If my reviewing style appeals to you, head on over to my Book Review Submissions page and send me your query (or book). New book reviews every Monday!

Professional Reader
I review for BookLook Bloggers

Read, Read, Read! Review?

With the first Mud Show Monday complete, this post is also all about book reviews.

I’m assuming if you’re reading this then you probably love to read (not just my blog, but I do thank you).

So you read a book and you LOVED it? What do you do? Do you tell your neighbor? A friend? Your dog? Anyone?

You could tell everyone. How, you ask?  Just write a review! 🙂

Why Write Reviews?

Reviews encourage the author.

“Someone read my book and liked it!” Shouts every author everywhere.

Every writer (published or not) wants to know that people are reading what they write (and hopefully enjoying it).

When I worked for the circus, I loved watching the crowd. I loved the kids that bounced in their seats and squealed with joy. Families cheering and clapping always made me smile. The performers loved it too. They couldn’t watch the crowd like I could, but they could hear the applause and feel the energy. Some crowds were great, and some sat there like bumps on a log.

No cheering, no clapping, no laughing. The show was the same, but sometimes crowds didn’t like to show their enjoyment. Perhaps it was too much effort to clap and hoot and holler. Perhaps they were quiet in general.

My point is, energetic crowds made a three show Saturday far more fun than quiet crowds. The circus is full of entertainers. They want to know their crowd is being entertained. Everyone loves to know they (and their work) are appreciated.

So spread that circus love and let your favorite entertainer author know you loved their work.

What if an author doesn’t read my review?

Just because you write a review doesn’t guarantee the author will ever see it. They might, and that would be fun, but what if they don’t? Some authors might not even read reviews of their books. Ever.

So what’s the point then?

Your review might be read by a publisher or it could be read by your fellow readers. Maybe someone reads your review and decides they share your tastes so they read the book too. Reviews are a great way to help publicize a book you love.

What if the book is bad?

Hmm…now that is a conundrum. But what defines a bad book?

Poor grammar? Shoddy story line? Gaping plot holes? Rotten characters?

All of the above? None of the above?

Ok, well if you really and truly can’t find a single nice thing to say, then it probably is best to say nothing at all.

Oh, but you have to write a review for the publisher or a project or your blog or your 8th grade English Literature class?

Well in that case, here are some tips to make your review a bit more constructive as opposed to simply saying “I hated it”.

  1. Find one thing (even if it’s tiny) that you liked about the book. I have faith that you can find one little thing, but if not, then find something you sort of liked and embellish a little.
  2. Define specifically what didn’t work for you. Do you not like toads and it was “All About Toads”? Too spooky? Boring characters? If it was less about the content and more about the grammar or story construct, talk about that instead. If an author can understand what wasn’t working for you, it makes the hit to the ego a little less harsh. We all have different tastes and any reasonable person/author will understand. Not liking something and expressing why, is not the same as writing a hateful review.
  3. Try to think of someone who would like the book. Even if it’s your weird neighbor down the street who never wears pants, someone is bound to think this book is the greatest book ever written. Instead of focusing your review on why you don’t like the book, focus on who would maybe like it instead.

Something of a Club

Becoming active among the book reviewers circle can feel like you’re part of a club. A massive, amazing book club!

Have a book you want to discuss but none of your friends have read it? Write a review or comment on someone else’s review. Checking out book review blogs is a great way to find reviews of books you’ve read and bloggers LOVE comments.

Advance Reading Copies

If you decide you love, love, love to write reviews, there are a few sites you can join to get advanced reading copies for free. Even if you only like reviewing a little bit, it can still be fun. These reviews help publicize the book prior to its release and give the author and publisher some feedback.

How it works

In exchange for a free print or digital copy, you agree to leave an honest review of the book. Requirements vary by site, and some require that you have an active blog and post the review there. Others are happy with a review posted on Amazon or GoodReads. Selection varies by site and not all books are available for immediate download. Many books must be requested, and then your request may or may not be approved by the publisher.

There are many sites available, but here are a few I use:

Net Galley


Story Cartel

Blogging for Books

Use these sites as you will, I’m not paid to endorse them and I can offer no more assistance than to say I’ve registered with each of them and was able to read books for free and leave reviews.

Now, go forth my little circus fans, and read, read, read! Then Review! 

The entertainers will love you for it 🙂


Cue the applause 😉

Mud Show Monday

Welcome to the First Ever Mud Show Monday!

What is a Mud Show? 

A Mud Show is a circus show in tents. Many shows perform in arenas now, but mud shows still put up tents at fairgrounds and perform in…you guessed it…the mud. Of course it’s a bit of an exaggeration…unless it rains. Then it really lives up to its name.

What happens on a Mud Show Monday?

Book reviews!

My Mud Show Memos, as I like to call them, will cover a broad range of the latest and greatest children’s, middle grade, and young adult books on the market. Every Monday, I will post a conglomeration of reviews in one “muddy” post 😉

Hopefully my words aren’t muddied or muddled at all, but Mud Show Monday has such a nice ring to it, I couldn’t resist.

I hope you enjoy my Mud Show Memos every Mud Show Monday. Maybe enjoy a mud pie while you read!

To: The Crayons

From: A Concerned Crayon Enthusiast

Subject: The Terms of Your Strike

I was dismayed to read of your strike as recounted by Drew Daywalt in “The Day the Crayons Quit”. Poor Duncan! What’s a boy to do?

I do commend you for addressing your problems directly and succinctly. Now Duncan might have hope of rectifying the situation. I must also commend Oliver Jeffers for capturing your plight so magnificently with his illustrations.

I never imagined crayons could face such difficulties, but my eyes have been opened and I do hope the whole box of you, and Duncan, can reach an amicable resolution.

I admit I chuckled a bit (poor Peach!) but I am motivated to dig out my own box of crayons in the hopes they are not nearly as disgruntled. If they are, however, I can only hope their pleas are as eloquent and informative as yours.

I had these stars laying around, I’ll give you all 5 since you made me chuckle and I was quite surprised with your creativity. I’ll pass along your book to everyone I meet, your concerns are appropriate for children of all ages.


To: Super Heroes

From: A Citizen

Subject: Do You Have A Spare Bear?

Wow! I learned so much about what it means to be a super hero from Carmela LaVigna Coyle in “Do Super Heroes Have Teddy Bears?”. Now I’m trying to follow along with the illustrations by Mike Gordon and hoping I can become a super hero too.

I enjoyed the question and answer format. It really cleared up a lot of questions I had about super heroes and how to become one…but now I see that I may or may not need a teddy bear.

Just wanted to send you a quick memo asking if I need a specific type of teddy bear or if any old bear will do? I guess that will be my first super hero dilemma.

Speaking of dilemmas, I did expect a bit more in the villain department, but I was still amused with your super hero antics and clever illustrations. I think children ages 3 to 7 would enjoy your super story too.

Since super heroes are like super stars, here are 4 bright shiny stars for you. They’d look good on a cape…or a blankie.


To: Young Adults

From: A Fellow Reader

Subject: What would you do?

Cammie McGovern tackles tough issues with her novel “A Step Toward Falling”. Main characters, Emily, Lucas and Belinda are connected by a terrible event. Though they know little of each other at the time of the event, as the story unfolds they learn about themselves and each other as they each struggle with the consequences of their actions, or inaction, that night.

Told from both Emily and Belinda’s viewpoints, each girl reflects back on the night of the incident. They contemplate how one mistake, be it action or inaction, has grossly altered each of their lives. Courage in difficult situations is the plot’s driving force, but underlying themes of doing good, belonging, and overcoming adversity are also at the forefront.

Teens will likely connect with the characters of Emily and Lucas as they struggle to fit in with their peers while navigating the difficult and fast moving waters of high school. Guilt and the desire to do good, is a feeling readily understood, as many face regret from action, or inaction, in the face of conflict or difficult decisions.

The topics of sexual assault and people with disabilities are sensitive ones, and Cammie McGovern handles the topic with understanding and grace. Teens can gain perspective from the book’s portrayal of individuals with disabilities and may even be encouraged to seek out volunteer opportunities.

While I felt difficult topics were handled with care, I also felt some reactions by adults in the book were unbelievable. Without giving away too much of the plot, I’ll only say I feel Lucas and Emily were punished more severely and made to be more villainous than was warranted. Do I think their actions (or rather inaction) were right? No, absolutely not. But their inaction is what guides the whole plot. I think the point that bystanders must take action when witnessing a crime, could have been accomplished differently than by sentencing community service and villainizing them.

Overall, the book left me wanting more of a resolution. The initial, terrible event is eventually addressed, but there are so many other issues that the topic provides little satisfaction when it’s finally out in the open. The characters perpetually struggle internally and externally, with little headway ever being made. There is much to say about all the characters’ interpersonal relationships, but the most genuine and touching interaction between Emily and Lucas occurred in the book’s last two pages.

I do think “A Step Toward Falling” is worth a read and allows for personal reflection on how we interact with others, how others perceive us, and how we would react in a crisis. It’s a book that encourages personal growth and understanding of others, though the characters don’t always excel in these aspects.

Foul language is limited and sex is not discussed in detail. The plot has many fun elements and the alternating point of views between Belinda and Emily is an engaging story-telling format. Appropriate for teens of all ages.

3.5 stars overall

Are you an author or publisher? Have a book you’d like me to review? If my reviewing style appeals to you, head on over to my Book Review Submissions page and send me your query (or book). New book reviews every Monday!