Book Review: The Dragon Hunters

The Dragon Hunters (2017, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Picture Book)

dragon hunters

From the publisher:

Away across the oceans,
where few have dared to roam,
upon a wondrous island,
a family made its home.

Living on an island means life is full of adventure for brothers Flynn and Paddy. So when a dragon swoops out of the sky and nabs their beloved dog, Coco, Flynn and Paddy know it’s up to them to bring her home. That night, they pack their bags, make some terrible sandwiches, and set off on an epic adventure…

See the map in this book come alive! Includes BONUS Dragon Brothers map in 3D for your phone or tablet! Download the free AR Reads app on your Android—or iOS—compatible smartphone or tablet to see and hear dragons fly, geysers gush, and get a glimpse of your favorite characters in action!

Review:

The Dragon Hunters, written by James Russell and illustrated by Link Choi, is a tale of two brothers told in rhyme. Dragon stories are always popular with children and this story is sure to be a hit. The rhyme is well done, and the illustrations are fantastic. The book moves along quickly and will keep even the shortest of attention spans engaged. The two brothers use teamwork and ingenuity to retrieve their dog from the fire-breathing dragon, and parents will love to see a story where siblings get along and work together.

While I reviewed an e-book version and did not get to test it out, the book has interactive features which can be unlocked by using the appropriate app. This could be a fun feature for slightly older children and add to the story-telling experience.

This story will engage children in the upper range of picture books as the style feels more like a chapter book than a lower-level picture book.

If your young readers love this book, there are more to come! The Dragon Hunters is the first in a brand new series, The Dragon Brothers, with two more books scheduled for release in the coming months.

Highly recommended for children ages 5 to 8.

5 burning stars to fight a flaming dragon


Thank you to Net Galley and Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for a reading copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Boxcar Children Great Adventure: Journey on a Runaway Train

The Boxcar Children Great Adventure: Journey on a Runaway Train (2017, Albert Whitman & Company, Chapter Book/Lower Middle-Grade)

boxcar children

From the Publisher:

In this all-new very special mini-series, the Aldens have been recruited by a secret society to return lost artifacts and treasures to their rightful locations—all around the world! After finding a painted turtle figurine, the Aldens are introduced to the Silverton family and Reddimus Society, a secret guild whose mission is to return lost artifacts and treasures to the sites they were taken from. The Aldens board a private train to New Mexico to return the turtle to its original home, and they encounter enemies of Reddimus along the way! The trip is a success… but instead of returning home, there’s a last-minute change in plans. The Boxcar Children must continue the mission for the society and deliver more things, all around the globe!

Review:

The Boxcar Children were first introduced to young readers 75 years ago. To commemorate the popular, and enduring series, Albert Whitman & Company (the original publishing house for The Boxcar Children) is releasing a special five book series of new Boxcar Children Adventures. Inspired and holding true to the original characters created by Gertrude Chandler Warner, the new books are written by Dee Garetson and JM Lee and illustrated by Anthony VanArsdale.

As an avid fan of the Boxcar Children growing up, I was excited to see how the series would be carried on. Journey on a Runaway Train, finds our heroic children much unchanged from the original series, they are still adventurous, mystery-seekers living with their grandfather, and they have not aged.

Old and new fans will be pleased with this new edition. The writing is consistent with the early books, while only slight updates have been made to keep up with modern day. The children now have access to laptops and cell phones which young readers will relate to. The title is slightly misleading, as there is not runaway train, but the children do get to ride a fancy old train and that is quite interesting. At its core, the book is still about young people being independent and problem solving with little or no assistance from the adults in their lives. With new illustrations, and new, exciting adventures, a whole new generation will be introduced to the Boxcar Children.

Highly recommended for children ages 7 to 12.

5 stars, one for each of the children and, of course, their dog 🙂


Thank you to Albert Whitman & Company for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The Sheep Who Hatched An Egg

The Sheep Who Hatched An Egg (2017, Albert Whitman & Company, Picture Book)

the sheep who hatched an egg

From the publisher:

Lola the sheep has the most extraordinary wool. It’s soft and silky and is her pride and joy! But down on the farm, when the sun comes out, the wool comes off! Poor Lola is so upset by her haircut that she runs away to the far side of the farm where she sits all alone, waiting for it to grow back. And when it does, it’s no longer silky, it’s completely wild! But with it comes a wonderful surprise…

Thanks to a tiny chick, this self-obsessed sheep learns an important life lesson; that great friendships are more important than simply having great hair.

Review:

The Sheep Who Hatched An Egg, written and illustrated by Gemma Merino, is a playful tale of accepting yourself as you are and being thankful for what makes you different. Lola takes great pride in her wool, and works hard to keep it silky smooth, but when her wool grows back curly and tangled, she doesn’t know what to do. Then she discovers her new messy, wool has one tiny advantage over her previous look, and she embraces her new self. This is a cute tale, and the illustrations are fantastic, but the storyline might perplex adults.

Lola worked hard to keep her hair smooth before her haircut, but then for some reason she can’t work hard again and get the same results after it grows back. Children might not wonder on this, but I found it a bit annoying. For the story to move along, and the lesson to be learned, Lola must have tangled hair, but it seems there could have been a better way to cause her tangled hair. Overall, a fun, Spring story, with lots of great sheep illustrations and cute, entertaining scenes. Recommended for children ages 3 to 6.

3.5 stars


Thank you to Albert Whitman & Company for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Dino Riders Reviews

Welcome to another exciting book review day on the blog! Today I bring you two books in the new Dino Riders series, as well as a giveaway and an excerpt 🙂 Happy reading!

9781492646686-PR

How to Tame a Triceratops

by Will Dare

Publication date: April 2, 2017

Series: Dino Riders #1

Welcome to The Lost Plains!

A wild west frontier where dinosaurs never went extinct.

Josh Sanders wants to be the next great dinosaur cowboy! Ropin’ raptors and ridin’ bucking brontosauruses just like his hero Terrordactyl Bill.

Too bad he’s stuck working on his family’s Iguanodon ranch, riding his ancient dino, Plodder. The closest Josh has ever been to a T-Rex is reading about them in his Dino Cowboy Handbook.

To prove he has what it takes, Josh is determined to win the annual Settlement Race. But he’s gonna need one fast dino to stand a chance. With the help of his friends Sam and Abi, Josh will need to tame a wild Triceratops!

This wildly entertaining new chapter book series for ages 7 and up features exciting illustrations and real dino facts! A great way to get kids reading. And don’t miss the next book in the series: How to Rope a Giganotosaurus.

GIVEAWAY

Two bundles of the first two Dino Riders books – How to Tame Your Triceratops & How to Rope a Giganotosaurus

a Rafflecopter giveaway

REVIEWS

How to Tame a Triceratops (2017, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Chapter Book)

How to Tame a Triceratops, written and illustrated by Will Dare, is the first book in a ferocious new chapter book series. I say this a lot, but it is difficult to find an engaging and original chapter book series. There are a few good ones out there, but more often than not, the chapter book field leaves something to be desired. Then comes this new series and I am completely captivated!

Dinosaurs, a race through the desert, and a wild west theme. What more could a reader ask for?

Dinosaur stories are always fun and this one is sure to be a hit with both young readers and their parents. Josh is a likeable character and he lives an exciting life as he wrangles dinosaurs. There’s a nice combination of crazy dinosaur-roping antics and typical kid stuff, with school and friends.

The pacing is well done and allows for a decent story arc while still keeping the book length short and not sacrificing character development or plot. This is a story adults will enjoy reading with children and they won’t be bored with simple sentences or a dull plot. As a bonus, there are great illustrations sprinkled throughout as well as dinosaur facts.

Highly recommended for children ages 7 and up.


How to Rope a Gigantosaurus (2017, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, Chapter Book)

Book two in Will Dare’s Dino Riders series follows in the dino footprints of book one. How To Rope a Gigantosaurus takes readers on another fun dino-adventure with Josh and friends. With bigger dinosaurs and riskier adventures, this book does not disappoint.

Josh’s friends get more page-time and overall the characters are more developed as the series continues. Again, the plot is engaging and entertaining, and young readers won’t be able to put this book down until they have read it all.

Another fantastic addition to any home or school library. Highly recommended for children ages 7 and up.

Image_7.1.jpg

EXCERPT

Josh sat up in bed and rubbed his eyes. He’d just been dreaming about riding through the Roaring Jaws Valley when he was woken by a loud screeching noise outside. “What the…?”

It was pitch-dark—the middle of the night— but he was sure he’d heard…

Kaaaark!

“Pterodactyl!” Josh cried. He’d know that sound anywhere.

He raced to the window and looked out just in time to see one of the winged beasts swoop down low over the barn, where some newly born iguanodons were being kept. It clattered against the roof, tearing at the wood with its claws. If that thing got in the barn, those baby guanos were done for.

He leaped out of bed and jumped straight out of his window, racing for Plodder’s pen. Nothing and no one was going to snatch up one of his family’s iguanodons. There was no time to lose. The old gallimimus roared with surprise as Josh jumped on his back, then they raced out into the open, across to the barn.

“Get away from there!” Josh cried, waving his arms above his head and readying his lasso. The pterodactyl swooped down low and stretched its claws in his direction. In an instant, Plodder reared up in fright, throwing Josh off his back.

Josh hit the ground hard, knocking the wind from him. He could just make out the terrified cries of Plodder as he ran back to his pen.

“Plod!” he said and groaned. “Come back!” But it was no use. As he looked up into the sky, his eyes went wide with fear. The pterodactyl was plunging from the sky toward him. Its claws sliced through the air like knife blades.

And Josh had nowhere to run. He braced himself for impact…

Suddenly, a roar went up from his side, and a huge shadow passed over him. Three pointed horns stabbed upward at the pterodactyl.

“Charge!” Josh gasped.

The huge triceratops roared angrily as he swiped and slashed at the sky, forcing the winged dinosaur to flap higher into the air.

Josh jumped up, keeping a close eye on the ’dactyl. He felt something brush against his legs and looked down to see a large horn rising up from the ground toward him. Josh yelped in fright as he tumbled backward and then landed heavily on a pair of muscular shoulders.

Beneath him, Charge snorted, as if telling Josh to hold on. Josh grabbed the young dino’s horns just as it kicked into top gear. The ground rolled by in a blur as Charge raced after the fleeing pterodactyl—with Plodder charging back in the other direction toward the ranch.

“I guess you don’t like ’dactyls much,” Josh said and laughed, barely able to believe it. He’d hoped if he’d found something Charge liked, the triceratops would let Josh ride him. He hadn’t thought about trying to find something he didn’t like!

Up in the air, the ’dactyl took one look at the charging triceratops and flapped faster. To Josh’s amazement, Charge lowered his head and quickly began to close the gap.

“Faster than a bullet in a hurricane!” Josh cheered.

Panicked, the ’dactyl turned and tried to swipe at them with its claws, but Charge reared up onto his hind legs, stabbing at the sky with his horns.

Josh whooped excitedly and held on tight. The pterodactyl gave an angry squawk, then flew straight up into the clouds.

“You did it!” Josh called.  But as the flying dino took to the skies, Charge didn’t stop charging. Now that he was all excited, he was zooming around like a dinosaur possessed—just as Mr. Sanders came running down from the house.

“Uh-oh,” Josh said, but it was no use. Charge was heading right for the barn.

Luckily, Josh knew exactly what to do.

In an instant, he jumped up to standing on Charge’s back, just like he’d done with Plodder. This time though, he took his lasso and looped it around Charge’s huge central horn. With a yank of the rope, he shifted the dinosaur’s head to the left. Just as he was about to crash into the side of the barn, the charging dino gave a roar and came to a shuddering stop. His dad looked on wide-eyed, face-to-face with the heaving, eager dino.

“Dad! Charge saved the guanos!” Josh cheered.

“And, look, I got him under control too.” Charge gave an impatient snort. “Well, kinda!”

Mr. Sanders watched Josh, openmouthed. Eventually though, he gave him a wry smile. “Well, son, in all the years of dino wrangling, I’ve never seen anyone ride a trihorn like that. I guess you got yourself the new dino you were after,” he said.

“Does that mean I get to race him?” Josh asked. “I suppose it does,” his dad began. “But on one condition—”

“Anything!” Josh said.

His dad cast an eye over what Josh was wearing. “No racing in your pajamas!”

Image_7.1.jpg


Thank you to Sourcebooks Jabberwocky for a reading copy of these books in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Revenge of the Star Survivors

My site has a new look and I have a new book for you all today 🙂 It’s been driving me crazy having to wait to share this one with you. I LOVED this book. One of the best middle-grade books I’ve read in a while. It’s smart, funny, painfully awkward and I couldn’t put it down.

Revenge of the Star Survivors (2017, Holiday House, Middle-Grade Contemporary Fiction)

revenge of the star survivors

Clark Sherman has the unfortunate opportunity to finish out his eighth-grade year at a new school. Festus Middle School to be exact, where the natives don’t take kindly to geeky, sci-fi obsessed newcomers. Armed with only his freshly purchased, “forest ranger-green thermo-protective parka” and love of the Star Survivors, Clark is intent on finding his way in this hostile environment without the aid of his commanders, i.e. his parents. But as the stress and attacks from bullies become too much, Clark is grateful for the friendship of the librarian and two other unlikely allies. With the help of his new friends, Clark will discover an evil plot at Festus that could affect him and the school for years to come.

Revenge of the Star Survivors, written by Michael Merschel, is quirky and fun and everything a middle-grade book should be. Clark is endearing and smart, and painfully awkward in a wonderful way. I couldn’t put this book down as I was drawn into Clark’s world and loved his character. The plot is clever and puts a new twist on the old tale of middle school bullies.

It did take a moment to orient myself with the book as it is told from Clark’s point of view and he narrates as if he is on a space expedition for much of the story. At first, it can make the narration a bit hard to follow, but it’s an engaging style of story-telling and I think it will appeal to boys especially.

Overall, I loved this book. The narration and the characters are wonderful and unique. Middle-grade readers will relate to Clark as he attempts to fit in and fails. I also love how the book confronts the issues with bullies and the sense of powerlessness children often feel as they don’t know who to turn to.

There are a few references to lewd jokes and gestures, but the descriptions are vague and leave room for interpretation so young readers might not understand the insinuations. Highly recommended for ages 10 and up.

5 stars for the intrepid star survivors


Thank you to Holiday House for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Please Please the Bees

At last it feels like Spring again! Here is a fun springtime read for the aspiring bee-keeper or bear in your life 🙂

please please the bees

Please Please the Bees (2017, Albert Whitman & Company, Picture Book)

From the Publisher:

Benedict has a pretty sweet life for a bear. Every morning the bees leave a jar of honey on his doorstep, and every day he has honey for breakfast and honey in his tea. It’s an important part of his day. But all that changes when the bees go on strike. Now it’s up to Benedict to listen to the bees, and he realizes there’s a lot more he could be doing to help them. So he fixes up the hive and learns to be a better beekeeper. Will the bees be pleased?

bees inside pic

Review:

Please Please the Bees, written and illustrated by Gerald Kelley, is a cute reminder for children to both take care of nature, and not take others for granted. Benedict learns his lesson as the bees have basically been doing everything to keep him supplied with honey and he has done nothing in return. Parents might appreciate the message for their children, though whether children will make the connection between Benedict and the bees and their own relationship with their parents remains to be seen.

The title might lead one to think there will be more word play throughout, but the text is generally very straightforward, which was slightly disappointing. Overall this is a wonderfully illustrated, easy read that will be enjoyed by many young readers and is a perfect Spring-themed read.

3.5 stars

Please Please the Bees hits shelves April 11, 2017


Thank you to Albert and Whitman and Company for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World

Women’s history month might be over, but this book can be enjoyed anytime!

super women in science

Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World (2017, Holiday House, Non-Fiction Middle-Grade)

What a fantastic new selection from Holiday House. I am so excited to share this new non-fiction book for younger readers with you all. I’d say the intended age range is 9 to 12 years old, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book and learned so many new things. I think anyone, whether you have a young reader in your house or not, can appreciate this book.

From the publisher:

Super Women celebrates the scientific as well as the social significance of six incredible women who broke new ground with their research, busted through glass ceilings with their careers, and advanced humanity’s understanding of our world in the process. These amazing women defied prejudice to succeed in the sciences using genius, ambition, and perseverance.

ALA Notable Book author Laurie Lawlor deftly paints portraits of each of these pioneers who refused to take no for an answer, pursuing their passions through fieldwork, observations, laboratories, and research vessels in the face of sexism. This diverse group of women, all with awe-inspiring accomplishments, were active mentors and determined people who wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Review:

Super Women, written by Laurie Lawlor, tells the incredible stories of six different female scientists. The book is divided into six sections with each section being a mini-biography of a woman. The biographies include key discoveries, scientific merits, as well as interesting personal stories for each scientist. The text is accompanied by black and white photographs of the women as well as appropriate photographs or diagrams pertaining to their work.

Scientists featured include Katherine Coleman Johnson, a mathematician who calculated trajectories for NASA flights; Eugenie Clark, an ichthyologist who swam with sharks; Marie Tharp, a cartographer who mapped the ocean floor; Florence Hawley Ellis, an anthropologist who made significant progress in tree-ring dating; Gertrude Elion, a pharmacologist who developed treatments for deadly illnesses; Margaret Burbidge, an astrophysicist who helped create the Hubble telescope.

These women have been carefully selected for their scientific and historical importance, as well as the fact that their names might not be as well-known as other women scientists such as Marie Curie or Sally Ride. Children and adults will find the biographies engaging, interesting and eye-opening. The work these women pioneered was incredible and they were all independent, adventurous souls who make for fascinating reads.

While this book is similar in format to a non-fiction picture book, the complexity and layout of the content makes it more appropriate for children ages 9 and up. Younger children might be bored with the long biographies but there’s no reason a parent couldn’t summarize the passages for younger children while they look at the photographs.

Overall, an excellent addition to any home or school library, and a fantastic non-fiction read for anyone, whether they have a passion for science or not.

5 stars for science!


Thank you to Holiday House for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Super Women will be released April 26, 2017 and is available for pre-order now at Amazon