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.


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!


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.


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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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.



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…


“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!”


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


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.


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 

Book Review: Under Water, Under Earth

Under Water, Under Earth (2016, Big Picture Press, Non-Fiction Picture Book)

under water under earth

Journey deep beneath the sea or to the center of the world in this over-sized picture book. One side delves into the deep, dark waters of our world, while the other side looks at all that goes on just beneath the earth’s surface. From utilities to sink holes, and sharks to worms, this book covers everything on land and sea.

under water under earth inside page

Under Water, Under Earth written and illustrated by Aleksandra Mizielinksa and Daniel Mizielinski, is an incredible non-fiction journey through our world. Also, this book is big! The size and weight is a lot of fun, and makes it a great book for gifting. Children will love the over-sized format and feel like they are getting two books in one when they flip the book over to read each part.

I was not expecting the level of detail that is found within this book. This is definitely one that can be read again and again, and will take quite a while to get through. While I’m sometimes not a fan of illustrated non-fiction books, the style works for me in this one. With the landscape formatting and each page showing a dissection of the natural world, it offers an otherwise impossible glimpse into the world around us.

This book would be most fun for ages 6 and up as it does go into quite a bit of detail about different processes, both mechanical and natural. Younger children may become bored with all the facts, but older children and adults are sure to find this book fascinating and informational. A fun and educational read for all ages!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Rain by Sam Usher

What better day to share a book about rain than on this rainy Spring day? If it’s not raining where you are, you will surely feel like you’ve experienced a rainy day after reading this book (in the most magical way) 🙂


Rain (2017, Templar Books/Candlewick Press, Picture Book)

From the Publisher

Sam and Granddad brave the rain and floods and have the best adventure ever!

Sam wants to go out, but it’s pouring rain, so Granddad says they need to stay inside until the rain stops. Sam drinks hot chocolate and reads his books and dreams of adventures while Granddad does some paperwork. When Granddad needs to mail his letter, it’s time to go out—despite the rain and floods—and Sam and Granddad have a magical adventure. The follow-up to the acclaimed Snow, this is the second title in a four-book series based on the weather from creator Sam Usher.


Rain, written and illustrated by Sam Usher, is part of a picture book series based on weather elements. Having not read the other book, Snow, I can only imagine it is as charming as this book. The first thing that will catch the reader’s attention is the cover of this book. The design is beautiful and has been created with a three-dimensional element so that it appears to have raindrops on the cover. The illustrations throughout are absolutely lovely and bursting with emotion as Sam watches the rain and waits for his Granddad to finish his small tasks around the house.

The most surprising twist comes right at the beginning, when Sam is so excited to play outside in the rain. Many books often look at rain as something that ruins a child’s day, so it was refreshing and inspiring to see a book celebrating a rainy day and all the fun a child can have. In the age of electronics and indoor entertainment, letting a child play outside even if it means getting a bit wet is a wonderful concept.

Sam and his Granddad’s adventures in the rain are fun and imaginative and way over the top, but it is a picture book after all, so such craziness is allowed. I might have hoped for a bit more realistic adventures in the rain, but the illustrations made up for any fleeting disappointment I felt at the abrupt change in setting.

The change in mood and tempo from a dreary day spent indoors to an exuberant day in the wet weather was certainly refreshing.

Overall, a beautifully illustrated, adventurous text sure to have every child wanting to go out on a rainy day adventure. Highly recommended for children ages 3 and up.

5 stars to shine through rainy days and nights

Rain hits shelves March 28, 2017

You can pre-order Rain at Amazon

Thank you to Candlewick Press for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Who Run the World?

Happy International Women’s Day!

It’s been far too long since I last posted. While I have been keeping up each week with my newspaper column and sharing lots of reviews there, I have not been keeping up with my blog. Sad day.

To make up for my absence, I am sharing THREE book reviews with you today!

Get excited.

And as a bonus, and in honor of International Women’s Day, these books all feature strong female protagonists!

Happy Reading and Happy International Women’s Day! 🙂

carolines comets

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story (2017, Holiday House, Picture Book Non-Fiction)

Caroline Herschel made history in 1786 when she became the first woman to discover a comet. But her journey began long before that, and it was not an easy road to becoming a highly respected scientist and astronomer. Caroline’s journey is inspiring and incredible, as she worked hard to achieve her goals at a time when women were afforded few opportunities.

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story, written and illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully, is a fascinating account of Caroline Hershel, who not only discovered comets, but became the first female professional scientist, earning a salary from the King of England. Filled with interesting facts, detailed illustrations, and even excerpts from Caroline’s own journals, this is a beautiful book to share with young readers. Caroline’s journey is inspiring as she overcame many obstacles in her life before she even dreamed of becoming an astronomer. Young readers will look up to Caroline and all she accomplished as a woman and a scientist.

Highly recommended for ages 6 and up.

5 stars shooting across the sky!

runs with courage

Runs With Courage (2016, Sleeping Bear Press, Middle Grade Historical Fiction)

When ten-year-old Four Winds is taken from her Lakota tribe and sent to a white boarding school, she doesn’t understand the new world that surrounds her. She imagines she might be a bridge for her people and learn the ways of the white people, but as she learns more, she realizes the white ways are meant to replace all the things she’s ever known. Four Winds wants to run. She wants to run away from the white school and home to her people, but there are bigger things at stake than just what she wants.

Runs With Courage, written by Joan M. Wolf, is a touching, and heart-wrenching portrayal of life for Native Americans in the late 1800’s. This book is written with care and thoughtful consideration of all that was done during this period. Though the story is fiction, readers will gain knowledge of the how the Lakota tribes lived, as well as the actions of the U.S. Government during this time.

The story is written in first person, and delivered in a straightforward manner as fits the main character’s personality. Four Winds is strong and brave, and young readers will look up to her and root for her. The fictional life of Four Winds represents so many young girls who did face her harsh reality. While the girls might starve with their tribes, boarding schools offered food if only they would give up all they had ever known.

Thought-provoking and extraordinary, the story of Four Winds will stay with the reader long after her book has ended. Highly recommended for children ages 10 and up.

5 stars to guide Four Winds

future threat

Future Threat (2017, Albert Whitman & Company, Young Adult Science Fiction)

From the publisher:

The second book in the New York Times bestselling Future Shock trilogy!

Six months ago Aether Corporation sent Elena, Adam, and three other recruits on a trip to the future where they brought back secret information–but not everyone made it back to the present alive. Now Elena’s dealing with her survivor’s guilt and trying to make her relationship with Adam work. All she knows for sure is that she’s done with time travel and Aether Corporation.

But Aether’s not done with her–or Adam, or fellow survivor Chris. The travelers on Aether’s latest mission to the future have gone missing, and Elena and her friends are drafted into the rescue effort. They arrive in a future that’s amazingly advanced, thanks to Aether Corporation’s reverse-engineered technology. The mission has deadly consequences, though, and they return to the future to try to alter the course of events.

But the future is different yet again. Now every trip through time reveals new complications, and more lives lost–or never born. Elena and Adam must risk everything–including their relationship–to save their friends.


Future Threat, written by Elizabeth Briggs, is the second book in the Future Shock trilogy. Last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing Future Shock and so I was eager to review this book at well. As with the first book, the pace is quick and the plot moves right along as Elena and the others zip back and forth through time once more. As with the first book, the fast pace makes both character and relationship development difficult, but at the same time, the characters don’t feel exceptionally flat. Elena is still an interesting, engaging and daring main character, while other characters fill their roles and provide support to the plot.

This science fiction adventure is lots of fun to read, and once again, the time travel aspect is very well written. This is a sequel that definitely builds off the first book, and keeps the twists and energy going. I enjoyed this book just as much, if not more, than the first, and I look forward to the third installment in this trilogy.

This book is a fast read, and written in a straightforward style that will appeal to many readers. Readers who enjoyed Future Shock are likely to enjoy Future Threat, as well as fans of science fiction, action, and teenage angst. This would be a good one to add to the summer reading list!

Best for ages 13 and up due to some scenes of violence and adult situations.

4 stars for Elena traveling through time.

Thank you to Holiday House, Sleeping Bear Press, and Albert Whitman & Co. for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review.

You can find each of these books at your local book retailer or online.

At Amazon:

Caroline’s Comets: A True Story

Runs With Courage

Future Threat

Sunday Special: Berenstain Bears Bedtime Devotional

The Berenstain Bears Bedtime Devotional


Once again, I get to review a fun Berenstain Bears book 🙂

Growing up with the Bear family makes me nostalgic every time I review one of these new books from Zonderkidz. I love that there is a whole new series of Bear stories that can be enjoyed by our youngest generation.

As you know from previous reviews, the new Berenstain Bears books have a Christian theme to them. The messages focus on love, kindness, working together, and solving disagreements. All the same messages the original books encouraged, but now with a Bible verse tied in.

The Bedtime Devotional book is a great compilation of 90 devotions to be shared with your child at bedtime. Each page includes a Bible verse, a short Bear family story or reflection, and a small prayer. Some pages also include a paragraph encouraging children to think about something in particular as they fall asleep. Accompanied by an illustration featuring the Berenstain Bears, this book is perfect for short attention spans and for a quick read before bed.

Bound in a small hardback format with an attached ribbon for book marking pages, the size and format is perfect for small hands.

The book opens with a longer bedtime prayer and then the book is divided into nine chapters, each with a specific focus. For example, in the “Be A Good Friend” chapter, each of the devotionals relates in some way to being a good friend to others. If your child has had a trying day, the chapters make it easy to locate a devotion that might resonate particularly well.

Overall, a beautiful book that would make a great gift for little ones.

Thank you to Book Look Bloggers and Zonderkidz for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Book Reviews!

I am so behind on book reviews.

I have been reviewing books for my column every week, but then the week gets away from me and those reviews don’t make it to the blog. Sad day.

Anyway, I am trying to play catch up by posting a several reviews in one post. This is like a giant food baby book review post. Your head might actually explode, or implode…I’m not really sure.

Also, I went to a writing conference last weekend and it was glorious! I met so many wonderful, wonderful people and I have been feeling INSPIRED!

That is a topic for another day. Today is about books! I did get some good books at the conference too 🙂

Mostly picture book reviews today with a chapter book thrown in. I saved my favorites for the end 🙂  I hope you find something you like or let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you thought.

Happy Reading!


Last-But-Not-Least Lola: Going Green (2013, Boyds Mills Press, Chapter Book)

Lola Zuckerman seems to come in last at everything. Her last name does start with a “Z” after all. But Lola is tired of being last and sets out to win her classroom’s Going Green contest. There’s just one problem, Amanda Anderson, her former best friend, is first in the alphabet and first in most other things. Lola needs to win the contest but she needs to beat Amanda to do it.

Last-But-Not-Least Lola: Going Green is the first in a new chapter book series written by Christine Pakkala and illustrated by Paul Hoppe. While the story is cute, Lola’s narration feels a bit immature for her being in second grade. The classroom contest is fun and might give readers some great ideas for going green in their own lives, but Lola comes across as a poor sport and even rude at times. The dynamics with her former friend leave Lola looking like the worst friend in the world, and I don’t know that readers will have much sympathy for her at times. The story does get better toward the end, and nearly redeems itself. While adults will likely not find Lola amusing, first and second grade readers might enjoy Lola’s antics. This would be a fun read for Earth Day or to tie in with some other activity or celebration about caring for the Earth.

3 stars for Lola’s going green idea.

Look for reviews of other books in this series coming soon!


Cat Knit (2016, Fiewel and Friends, Picture Book)

Cat and Girl have always been friends. Then Girl brings home Yarn and Cat has a new friend! Cat and Yarn do everything together but Girl wants to play with Yarn too. Cat doesn’t like this new friendship between Girl and Yarn. He just wants his Yarn back.

Cat Knit, written and illustrated by Jacob Grant, is a cute tale of friendship and change. The crayon and charcoal illustrations are lovely and help move the story forward. The story is absolutely charming until about three quarters of the way through, then the pace suddenly picks up and the story is over just as Cat decides maybe the new Yarn is okay. While the ending is satisfying, and the plot is both slightly predictable while also being clever, the change in pacing really throws off the whole feel of the story. Children will likely enjoy this story and it’s a fun winter tale, but adults may be left feeling a bit let down.

3 stars – one each for Cat and Yarn and Girl


The Night the Stars Went Out (2016, Capstone, Picture Book)

Alien has an important job. He must shine all the stars every night. His job is so important he never has time for fun, but that’s OK because Alien loves his job. Then one night, the unthinkable happens….all the stars go out! Alien tries everything he can think of but the stars stay out. How will Alien ever turn the stars back on?

The Night the Stars Went Out, written and illustrated by Suz Hughes, reiterates the message that all work and no play makes for a dull life. The tale starts out beautifully with the unique world of Alien polishing stars and hilariously trying to fix them, but then Alien leaves for Earth and the story loses a bit of its magic. The story wraps up a bit too neatly after such a brilliant set up and, while the ending is cute, the reader might feel a bit dissatisfied.

4 stars to keep Alien busy


The Quiet Book (2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Picture Book)

Whimsical animals quietly come together in this charming book as the reader learns there are many kinds of quiet.

In, The Quiet Book, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Renata Liwska, the reader goes on a wonderfully quiet journey through many everyday activities. With fun twists on kinds of “quiet” the reader will look at the world in a new way. From “Making a wish quiet” to “top of the roller coaster quiet”, adults and children will think of silent moments, and emotions, in new and fun descriptive terms. Brilliant and beautiful, this book is sure to be a favorite at bed time. Gorgeous illustrations add weight and charm to the clever text, creating a book that needs to be read again and again. Highly recommended for children of all ages.

5 stars hanging in the sky quiet


Solutions for Cold Feet and Other Little Problems (2016, Penguin Random House Canada, Picture Book)

A girl and her dog run into all sorts of problems as they go about their day. Luckily they have solutions too! Some solutions are better than others but as long as they are together they can handle cold feet and other little problems.

Solutions for Cold Feet and Other Little Problems, written and illustrated by Carey Sookocheff, is delivered in simple, short sentences and carried by the illustrations. The text is perfect for beginning readers to tackle alone, while the story is engaging enough for parents to enjoy reading it with their children too. This is a great read as winter approaches and the weather gets chilly. The story is soft and lovely, and will warm your heart and your feet.

5 stars to shine on a cold winter night


Books Do Not Have Wings (2016, Sleeping Bear Press, Picture Book)

A book is more than just a book…because books do not have wings. Take a wild ride where anything is possible and climb ladders into the clouds. Sail a ship, see a dragon, and fly high with your imagination. Where will this book take you?

Books Do Not Have Wings, written by Brynne Barnes and illustrated by Rogerio Coelho, is simply stunning in words and in pictures. The text of the story will carry the reader away on a magical journey made even greater by the fantastic and whimsical illustrations. With bold strokes and an incredibly imaginative flair, each spread of this book is breath-taking.

The premise of this book about books, is that a book is just a book until the reader picks it up. Once a book is read, it becomes so much more than just a book. Books are flat objects of paper and ink, but the stories on their pages have wings to carry the reader anywhere. And this book fulfills that promise and will carry the reader far.

Children and adults will linger on every page taking in the elaborate and intricate illustrations or reading the poetic lines again and again.

With nods to fairy tales and traditional characters, this book touches on a multitude of children’s literary staples. If any book could inspire a child to seek out other books, this one will.

5 beautiful, brilliant stars to light the reader’s way

Thank you to all the publishers for copies of these books in exchange for my honest review. Each of these reviews also appeared within my newspaper column sometime in the past month.