Note to Readers

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or print copy of the book. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Big Little Monkey by Carole Lexa Schaefer

Released September 2008

Reviewed by Bob Walch

BIG LITTLE MONKEY follows the misadventures of a little monkey who decides he wants to find some new playmates. When a sloth and parrot don't appear to be compatible choices, the monkey moves on to a big, big boa.

The snake invites the frisky little critter to join in a game of "Curl My Tail Around in Tricky Ways," and Monkey decides that's a little too tricky and way too dangerous also.

Where does Monkey finally find someone to play with? You'll have to read the book to find out! You may even be a bit surprised to see how this story ends, but it does have a warm ending.

Seabiscuit: The Wonder Horse by Meghan McCarthy

Released October 2008

Reviewed by Bob Walch

SEABISCUIT: THE WONDER HORSE is a picture book about one of the most famous horse races in history--Seabiscuit versus War Admiral.

Although he was the grandson of a great racehorse, when Seabiscuit began racing he lost virtually every race in which he was entered. Finally a new owner, a loving jockey and a clever trainer took over managing the horse. As a result, he blossomed.

Soon Seabiscuit was consistently appearing in the Winner's Circle, which meant, eventually, he would be pitted against the Triple Crown champion, War Admiral. You'll see what happened on the historic day when you read this wonderful book with its delightful cartoon-like illustrations.

Kiss Kiss! by Margaret Wild

Released December 2008

Reviewed by Bob Walch

If you are looking for a special Valentine's Day gift for a preschooler, try KISS KISS! This board book by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Bridget Stevens-Marzo is about a little hippo who wanders off into the jungle one day and keeps hearing "Kiss, kiss!"

Investigating, he sees other little wild animals kissing their moms. Little Hippo realizes he forgot to do something, so he rushes home ot his mom so he can give her a kiss, kiss!

Great illustrations and a nice message about showing child-parent affection make this little book a winner any time of the year, not just on February 14th.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kyleah's Tree by Janet Muirhead Hill

Released on August 20, 2008

Reviewed by Tracy

Here's a book that my daughter will have to read to get a younger perspective. I'm sure she'll stop by and share her feelings once she has. The heroine in the story is an eleven-year-old girl named Kyleah.

Now Kyleah lives in a foster home with a few other children, both foster kids and natural children of the foster parents. Every morning, Kyleah sneaks outside to climb a tree and make a wish as the sun rises. Eventually things escalate when Kyleah is punished and she's told she will help out with the babies, including a baby diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome.

She's young and naive. When Kyleah's foster mother tells her that the infant boy cries so much because he is suffering from withdrawal, Kyleah decides to make things better for him by adding a small amount of cooking wine to his formula. Her foster mom catches her in the act and the punishments begin.

Kyleah is taken outside, whipped and told she may not go outside. After sneaking out on morning and breaking her leg, the foster parents fence off the tree. As a result, Kyleah agrees to run away with another foster kid named Benjamin. This begins a series of events as the pair try to make their way up to Benjamin's grandmother in Canada.

From the first page, KYLEAH'S TREE did draw me into the characters, plot and action. However, as an adult, I also questioned a few things. This is where I run into a dilemma. The book is geared for ages 9 to 12. I'm not sure this age group would understand the laws regarding foster care or even parenthood for that matter. Something niggled at me, however, and I had a hard time moving on.

After Kyleah is whipped as punishment, it is later mentioned that her foster mother sees the wounds. It seems that only a day or two passes before Kyleah breaks her leg. I know the time I took my own daughter for x-rays, I was pulled out of the room while my daughter was questioned to make sure I hadn't caused the injury. It's the law here that hospitals have to ask. I was surprised that the hospital did not notice the wounds on Kyleah's back and immediately have the foster care providers checked out. It's a minor issue, however, and one that should only come to adult minds.

Would I recommend this book to 9 to 12 year olds? Most assuredly. It has subject matter that will have universal appeal with either gender. There is a brief, tasteful episode of molestation that parents should be aware of. Otherwise, I give Janet Muirhead Hill's latest a thumbs up.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Twilight - Stephenie Meyer

Published September 2006

Reviewed by Tracy


The first novel in Stephenie Meyer's highly-addicting vampire series introduces Bella, Edward and their friends and family. This is the book you need to start with and soon you'll be caught up in their romance.

When Bella's mother remarries, Bella opts to go live with her father in Forks, Washington. Known as the rainiest area in the United States, Bella gives up her life in Phoenix and settles in to what she feels will probably be a very dreary existence. Surprisingly, she is welcomed into the small town and soon has a few boys fighting for her attention.

It is one of the school's Emo's, Edward, who most captures Bella's attention. Unlike the others, Edward wants nothing to do with Bella. She soon finds out that it isn't that he hates her as she fears, it's that he can't seem to stop thinking about her and that scares him!

TWILIGHT is completely mesmerizing. I'm not usually into vampires, but Meyer's includes so many subtle differences to vampire lore that it is impossible not to fall for Edward. As a fan of romance novels, I have to say that Meyer's does a great job drawing you into the romance between Edward and Bella.

Despite what my daughter's school librarian says, this book is not full of sex and violence. Everything is very subtle and I have no problem recommending it to your 'tween reader.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Welcome To Roundtable Reviews For Kids

In 2003, a friend and I formed Roundtable Reviews to review every book genre. We read everything and anything and didn't want to leave anything out. The site exploded and soon she remarried and no longer had time to review.

Five years have passed and my own life has changed. I have several clients for whom I write articles or newsletters. I'm busier than ever. In addition, many of my long-time reviewers have moved on due to life's demands. Without pay, they can't keep reviewing, and I understand that.

Rather than give up reviewing completely, a few reviewers and myself decided to scale down the site, start fresh and focus on one specific category.

I have children. My oldest enjoys reading, but rarely finds the time now that he's in high school. My youngest hates reading. School requirements are that every child must read 20 minutes per day. Getting my youngest to read was tricky, until she discovered some of the books I had for review.

Suddenly, she found her favored genres. The "Twilight" series took her away to a new world and over Christmas vacation, she read the first two novels in a week's time. It was her suggestion, after going online to find children and teen book review sites, that I focus on that content. She was disappointed with what she found.

Many sites focus on younger readers. She's in middle school. Her librarian considers her too young for the books she wants to read. Therefore, she wasn't allowed to take out many books that intrigued her. TWILIGHT was one. More shockingly, the DIARY OF ANNE FRANK was another. The content "might disturb her" was what the librarian said. I'd run into the same issue when my 3rd grade son wanted to read THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE.

Roundtable Reviews doesn't believe in censorship or book banning. We will review many children, teen and 'tween books on this site. Should your child read them? That's strictly up to parents or guardians to truly decide.

I started reading TWILIGHT myself, and I'll admit I'm completely hooked! Plus, by reading the same books as my children, we now have something we can discuss anytime we choose.

Please enjoy the reviews and feel free to ask questions or post your own comments about the books we feature!