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.”

Friday, December 31, 2010

Tiny Little Fly - Michael Rosen

Released November 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Big bold illustrations are featured in this picture book about a pesky little fly who manages to irritate and then elude some rather large creatures. Whether it is an elephant, hippo or tiger, the little fly buzzes right up and lands on a paw, trunk or ear.  Although each animal is determined to “do something” about the little insect, none of them succeeds in dealing with the irritating visitor.

A playful rhymed text follows the fly’s actions while the illustrations provide a fly’s eye view of the large critters visited by the little fellow as he flies from one animal to another.

Read this book aloud a few times with your preschoolers and then let the child share in the narration chores.  The text is simple enough, with repetition and action words (“tramp, crush, tramp” and “roll, squash, roll”), that your little one will want to blurt out some of the key words as you move through the book.

Michael Rosen is a recent British Children’s Laureate and you’ll see why he received this honor when you page through Tiny Little Fly

Monday, December 27, 2010

Post-Holiday Catch Up

For Christmas, there was only one thing on my list. I was dying to own a Kindle. Despite my attempts, the Kindle became a challenge to order. Because I had Best Buy Rewards and Gift Cards to use up, we went there to order the Kindle in mid-December. Sure, I could have ordered from Amazon, but I had $40 in certificates so it made sense to shop local.

Our Best Buy was sold out, but promised they could get one in by Wednesday, so we went ahead and paid for it. Turns out that was a HORRIBLE mistake. Amazon told area stores (I checked Best Buy here and in neighboring states and Staples in Vermont and neighboring states) that the Kindles were in high demand again this year and they had orders to fill before they could accept additional orders. Shipping delays until after New Year's were guaranteed. I honestly didn't want to wait and opted for the Nook.

Now, I do understand the Nook doesn't have the same storage capacity, though I can add an SD card, so that's not a problem. The Nook also has a much shorter battery-life, but I work on the computer daily, so I don't mind charging it as needed. I've used about a third of the battery right now between my kids playing games on it (comes with Sudoku and Chess), my daughter reading her book one night and downloading books to it and checking everything out. It's better than my laptop, so I won't complain.

What does amaze me is the screen. My teen son compared it to an Etch-a-Sketch. He's right, it does have that quality. Words are crisp on the page. Controls are easy, including the touchscreen that I'd heard others complain about. It doubles as an MP3 player, so that's never a bad thing. Best of all, I took it out into sunlight and didn't have any problem reading outside (though it's downright cold and blizzard-like right now, so I won't do that until summer.) Day three with my Nook and I'm overjoyed.

One thing I really like is how easy it is to use a site most publishers are now using for review copies (NetGalley). It takes seconds to move a book from NetGalley to my Nook. It was easy to figure it out and in a matter of seconds a book is ready for reading. I'm hooked.

I've played with my friend's Kindle and my Nook and honestly they're both great, but the Nook being readily available locally gives it the edge in my opinion.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Royal Christmas: Four Enchanting Holiday Stories - Lisa Ann Marsoli

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Celebrate the holidays with these stories featuring four of Disney’s most beloved princesses. Ariel, Aurora, Cinderella and Tina each have a unique way of ushering in Christmas.

Cinderella throws a party but there’s a merry mix-up when her Fairy Godmother tries to help out. Aurora and the three good fairies attempt to whip up a homemade holiday. Tina hosts a yuletide celebration and meets a jolly, unexpected guest. And, finally, Ariel surprises everyone with a Christmas morning treasure hunt.

Filled with magic and good cheer, these delightful stories are accompanied by beautiful illustrations and a foil-stamped jacket.  Bound to become a family favorite for many years to come, your little princess will love reading this collection of tales over and over again.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Guinea Pigs Add Up - Margery Cuyler

Released June 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

This rhymed picture books proves you can have too much of a good thing. At least, that’s what Mr. Gilbert discovers when he lets his students talk him into getting a “companion” for the class guinea pig.

Soon two guinea pigs become five and then, eight weeks later, fifteen more are added so they have twenty little hairy critters running around. The only way to subtract from this total is to start sending the individual guinea pigs home with students until the brood is manageable.

Fortunately, Mr. Gilbert gets the situation under control. He then decides to switch the class pet to a rabbit! Now that’s a good idea isn’t it? Not really!
Guess who is pregnant!

Here’s an amusing story that has the added benefit of allowing your child to practice addition and subtraction. You might also wish to address animal reproduction too!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Life of Rice: From Seedling to Supper - Richard Sobol

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Using the color photos he took when he researched the subject in Thailand, Richard Sobol takes the reader through the cycle of growing rice. He begins with the planting and corresponding Royal Plowing Ceremony, follows the crop as it matures in wet paddies, and then shows how the rice is harvested.

A labor intensive crop in Asia, a combination of men and machines makes sure the rice survives from field to table. Once harvested, the nourishing kernels make it to family dinner tables while the remaining stalks are recycled for animal fodder.

As you read this book you’ll learn interesting facts, such as there are 40,000 different varieties of rice grown around the world. More than 600 million tons of rice are grown internationally each year and rice is the basic daily food for over half the people on earth.

Nicely designed with a good balance of pictures and text, The Life of Rice would make an excellent introduction to this basic food source. Every school library should have a copy of this book and many families would probably like to own one for home use too.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Montooth and the Canfield Witch - Robert Jay

Released August 2009

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Montooth and the Canfield Witch offers a glimpse into life during the 1950s. The heroine of the story, Carty Andersson, discovers a mystery in the Florida swamps near her home and decides to do a little investigating.

While walking home from her aunt's house, she passes the home of Sally Canfield, last of the Canfield family accused of witchcraft is Salem, Massachussetts. There she spies two shady men discussing if the witch lived alone. Carty's not sure what they're up to, but she's determined to find out.

A school project gives her the perfect opportunity. In her botany class, the students are asked to team up, take a list of Latin plant names and spend the weekend finding samples of as many of the plants as possible. The more you find, the higher your grade. With her friends, known as The Crew, in her group, the teens set out to find the plants and see what the shady guys are up to.

This is the main plot of the book. Yet, this is really only the beginning. There are other intervening plots, including that of a dangerous man known as Cruz Cruz or the "Cuban," who joins the shady guys in their attempt to steal a possession from the witch.

There's also the story of Montooth, a huge alligator living in the lake near the Canfield home. Montooth's story is told as a book within a book. A different font and print size makes it clear when Montooth's story is being told.

I enjoyed Carty's story. The characters were engaging, the pacing kept me intrigued with the story and I wanted to see how Carty would get out of certain predicaments. The other sub-plots played an integral role in Carty's story, yet I found they distracted me. When I reached those story lines, particularly the background of the Cuban, I found I really just wanted to get back to Carty.

Parents with younger children should note that the story does contain some violence and use of alcohol. While I think teens should be exposed to that side of life, I do realize some parents prefer to limit their child's exposure to it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fantasy: An Artist's Realm - Ben Boos

Released October 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Young readers are invited to immerse themselves in the world of New Perigord created by illustrator Ben Boos. This lavish volume is filled with detailed sketches of fantastical creatures from hobgoblins, minotaurs and dwarves to the inhabitants of the realm of the dead (vampires, zombies, etc.)

Maps, numerous weapons, armor, and structures are also pictured here to give the reader a full picture of New Perigord. Boos’ descriptive text adds to the book’s enchantment and describes the features of each venue – windy forests where elves and healers dwell, coastal fortresses inhabited by Paladinsl, the magnificent libraries of the Mages and the dark, boding territory of the dead.

From start to finish, this is a picture book that will fire the imagination of any person, young or old, who is interested by the world of fantasy. With Ben Boos as your guide, you’ll discover new, grand worlds to explore and, perhaps, be inspired to try creating your own make-believe lands.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lightning Was Here: A Road Trip Through the World of Cars - Calliope Glass

Released November 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Youngsters three and older are invited to join Lightning McQueen on a tour of Radiator Springs. The popular CARS character raced his way into the hearts of children who enjoyed the Pixar movies and this picture book gives them a chance to see more of the places and characters that made the film so popular.

After a stop at the speedway where it all began for Lightning, it’s off to the Cozy Cone Motel, Mater’s Tow Yard, Flo’s V8 Café, and other popular hangouts around town.

The illustrations with little sidebar boxes pointing out special features on the full page spreads and the narrative combine to offer a total picture of what makes this car Mecca tick.

If your child has enjoyed this series of books and the movies, this book is a must purchase. They’ll be thrilled with the 56-page tour of this very cool town!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Hole in the Wall - Lisa Rowe Fraustino

Released November 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

For Sebastian "Sebby" Daniels, life's tough and getting tougher by the minute. His family is poor and rely heavily on the income from their chickens. The problem is their chickens have been disappearing or laying eggs that are as hard as stone.

Sebby believes everything ties into a company that's strip mining their area. When he finds a stone that magically changes color and whirls around whenever it likes. Sebby and his twin sister, Barbie, wonder just what is going on. They decide to investigate and see if they can understand what is causing all these unusual events.

The Hole in the Wall kept me glued to the pages. It's pretty easy to sympathize with Sebby. Though he's a pre-teen, Sebby is forced to act older than he is at times. The author poignantly captures his love for most of his family and his disgust with their living situation incredibly well.

Lisa Rowe Fraustino's books is a mix of adventure, mystery and fantasy. It's fast-paced and characters are strong and likable. I think a number of children will find themselves able to relate to many of the situations Sebby and his sister experience both in and out of school.

Parents should probably be aware that Sebby's father is a drunk. There are brief episodes of verbal abuse and mention of some physical abuse. Other than being prepared to discuss that tragic aspect of some children's lives, I highly recommend this book to any adventurous child.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Brownie & Pearl See the Sights - Cynthia Rylant

Released October 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Young beginning readers are invited to accompany Brownie and her cat, Pearl, as they are off to do some Christmas shopping. They’ll visit a hat shop, a shoe store and then a cute little place that sells cupcakes. After they devour some delicious cupcakes, the little girl and her pet are tired so they head home for some hot chocolate and a little nap.

This is a very simple story with vibrant, adorable illustrations. The picture book’s appeal is that the large type and manageable vocabulary make it an ideal book for youngsters who are just beginning to read by themselves. With a little assistance from mom or dad, the child should quickly be able to handle this story.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

O Christmas Tree - Jacqueline Farmer

Released July 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Filled with the history and lore of the Christmas tree, this picture book begins with a look at ancient times and how the Egyptians and Greeks used evergreens to celebrate the winter solstice. Then, as the author moves through the centuries, one sees how the fir tree tradition emerged until the Christmas tree became one of the icons of the holiday season.

Along with a cursory glimpse at various types of natural and artificial trees (remember the horrid aluminum and the plastic trees of the 1960s?) and the decorative options that have developed over the years, the author also offers a close look at the firs themselves.

Besides a guide that pictures the six most popular types of firs used during the holidays, you’ll also discover how tree farms function and what types of natural problems (insects, etc.) the tree growers must cope with.

From start to finish, this beautifully illustrated picture book offers an excellent look at the history and tradition that has grown up around the Christmas tree. I think every member of the family will enjoy this book and you’ll probably want to make reading it a holiday reading tradition for years to come.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea - Michael Ian Black

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

If you didn’t think so already, after reading this humorous picture book you’ll be convinced that staging a pig parade is not a stellar idea. In fact, it is the type of event that can only end in disaster.

You and your child will have fun reading about all the things that can go wrong if you try to include pigs in your parade plans. These problems range from the pigs’ refusal to wear their marching uniforms properly and not giving an “oink” about floats to their inability to help tether the large balloons that are the centerpiece of any cool parade.

No, after you’ve giggled your way through this hilarious picture book, you’ll agree with the author that pigs and parades just do not mix.

If your child enjoyed reading The Purple Kangaroo and/or Chicken Cheeks, you are already familiar with Michael Ian Black’s brand of silliness. The art and story line here reinforce the author’s laugh provoking tradition of finding humor in some very unlikely situations.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Absolute Value of -1 - Steve Brezenoff (Young Adult)

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

The Absolute Value of -1 revolves around the life of three misfit teens. Lily Feinstein, her friends Noah and Simon. All three share a common pastime--smoking cigarettes and smoking weed. Lily is head over heels for Simon, yet he rarely even looks at her face when talking to her. Noah is nuts for Lily, but she's so infatuated with Simon that she never truly notices Noah. Much of the story becomes a triangle with the three teens trying to find their place in each others' lives while coming to terms with their own personal lives too.

The novel opens with a character, Suzanne, who is only introduced in the opening and ending of the story. It does become clear once you've started reading Lily's story.

Should every kid read The Absolute Value of -1? I'd wholeheartedly say yes, after all to me this is a modern day look at the angst some teenagers feel. It's powerfully written and completely mesmerizing. The author captures each characters' individuality perfectly. However, a recent book banning of two Jodi Picoult novels due to "graphic content" makes me wonder how the majority of parents would feel about the drug and alcohol use within Steve Brezenoff's book. I find it absurd that parents think blocking scenes of rape and bullying/violence (the main complaints with Picoult's books) make the world a better place.

The fact of the matter is that there is rape, there is violence, there is substance abuse. All the book banning in the world won't make it go away. Chances are your teen is already well exposed to the brutalities out there. Why not take the time to read the book with your teen so that you're ready to talk about it? I fully believe that The Absolute Value of -1 is destined to become a long-remembered entry into the minds and lives of today's teens. It's an amazing read and one I am so glad I did not miss.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Miles to Go - Jamie Harper (Picture Book)

Released October 2010

Reviewed By Bob Walch

Miles loves to take his little yellow car to school each day. He jumps in and lets his feet provide the power as his mother walks behind him. Along the way the preschooler greets the neighbor’s dog, mails some letters and is careful to avoid a collision with other people on the sidewalk.

Once at school, Miles parks his little car next to the other children's bikes and vehicles. When school is out, Miles and his good friend Otto work on the car because it has a broken horn. Once the horn is fixed, Beep! Beep!, the child is ready to roll again.

The bright illustrations and simple storyline of this picture book will capture the attention of any young car enthusiast who loves to zoom around in his toy auto. Of course, Miles is a careful driver and he’s a good example of how to follow road safety rules or, in this case, sidewalk courtesy.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Don't Want to Go! - Shirley Hughes (Picture Book)

Released October 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Lily’s mom is feeling sick so the little girl’s dad arranges for Lily to spend the day with a neighbor. Not thrilled with the situation, Lily announces she doesn’t want to go to Melanie’s house.

Unfortunately she has no choice, so her dad bundles the child up and off they go. When she sees that Melanie has a small dog and a toddler, Lily is a little appeased, but her favorite response to everything still is “Don’t want to!”

Of course, as the day wears on, Lily adjusts to her new friend and the household she is spending the day in. By the time her father arrives to take the little girl home, she is so comfortable in her new surroundings with her new friends that she tells him, of course, she doesn’t want to go home.

This is a cute story with illustrations that are reminiscent of some of Norman Rockwell’s work. The picture book has quite a lot of text so this is definitely a read aloud book rather than one a beginning reader can cut his or her literary teeth on.

Also, given its content, this is a story that will help convince a youngster that new experiences need not be scary. Hopefully, after reading this a few times your youngster won’t balk at trying something different or new.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Draw the Dark - Ilsa Bick (Young Adult)

Released October 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

When he was a young boy, Christian Cage's father disappeared. His mother simply spent hours staring at a book claiming he'd "gone into the sideways place." Two years later, she vanished too. Christian's grown up with his Uncle Hank and Aunt Jean. Years later, he's painting things that come true and it's frightening him.

After he's accused of spray painting swastikas on an old barn, Christian is assigned community service, including repainting the barn and volunteering at an elderly care facility. Soon Christian finds himself slipping into the past, into the body and mind of a young boy witnessing the use of POWs, shipped to Wisconsin from Germany, to perform menial labor for a wealthy business owner. That young boy witnesses a crime and it's now up to Christian to solve the mystery and reveal the truth decades later.

Draw the Dark is creepy, mesmerizing and striking. It took me a while to get a feel for the plot and where things were headed. Once the characters were clear and relationships were drawn, I was hooked.

The story delves a bit into history regarding WWII and the transport of Jewish POWs to be forced to work in the U.S. under the supervision of the Germans they greatly feared. That aspect of the Holocaust was new to me and how horrible that shipment to the U.S. was not the salvation many would have hoped for.

There's a touch of paranormal to this story. In fact, the ending is going to leave many people on the edge of their seat. I won't delve into much of the ending, but suffice it to say there had better be a sequel in the works!

There's also a minor plot regarding bullying. Christian's experiences with bullies helps readers sympathize with his character.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pukka: The Pup After Merle - Ted Kerasote (Animal)

Released October 27, 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Technically, Pukka: The Pup After Merle is an animal-themed non-fiction offering for all ages. It's not specifically for children. However, I think it's a great choice for parents who are pondering getting their child a puppy because it shows a good deal about puppies' habits and the ins and outs of pet ownership.

Sure, puppies are cute, soft and cuddly, but they do like to get into mischief. They can get into squabbles with other dogs, veterinary care is important, they do chew things and potty breaks are essential. All of that is touched upon in Pukka.

What makes Pukka so great is the photography. Not only is the reader treated to the story of Pukka, but you also see a good deal of Wyoming's scenery, as well as places where the author travels with Pukka.

I didn't read Merle, however after a quick online glance at a portion of the popular book that led to this offering, I can tell readers that Merle was an actual chapter book.  Pukka is more pictures that narrative, so those expecting a full-length book should note this is shorter and much more childlike in length and text.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Annexed - Sharon Dogar (Teen Fiction)

Released October 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Most everyone is familiar with The Diary of Anne Frank. Whether you've learned about the diary in school, watched one of the movie versions or have read the bestseller, you know the story of Anne Frank and her family who remained holed up in an attic along with a few other individuals for two years hoping to escape the Nazis.

Annexed shares the same story but from Peter's eyes. Until now, no one has really stopped to consider Peter's feelings during this long event. He was suddenly stuck in a small area with two teen girls and his conflicting hormonal urges. While Annexed is a piece of fiction, it does follow events from The Diary of Anne Frank very closely, yet offers a unique perspective on those events. The author includes notes in the ending to share what happened to each member hiding in the attic and details into aspects of the story that are made up.

In Annexed, Peter van Pels longs for his girlfriend Liese. He has no idea where she is or if she's even alive. His longing helps flesh out his character. I don't want to give away details, but one scene when Peter wakes up and bumps into his mother was so touchingly honest, I was very impressed by the interactions with Peter and his mom.

I think it's truly impossible to read this story without tearing up at the end. The story continues to Peter's eventual death. It's beautifully written, but I desperately needed Kleenex. I'll still never understand how humans could do that to one another, but the Holocaust did occur and this is an outstanding story capturing the hope, desperation, loss and fear as seen through Peter van Pels' eyes.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Princesses Are Not Perfect - Kate Lum (Picture Book)

Released March 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Princesses Allie, Mellie and Libby all possess special skills. While Allie loves to bake, Mellie is a fine gardener and Libby can build anything in her workshop.

Unfortunately, one day the princesses decide to try to something different. A bit bored, they elect to switch jobs. With a children’s summer party scheduled, this doesn’t seem to be a very good idea. But convinced that “a princess can do anything”, the girls make the switch.

As you might guess, the results are a disaster but the three princesses are able to correct the problem before the children start arriving at the castle. And, at the story’s end, they conclude that “You don’t have to be good at everything to be a princess.”

Here’s a story that has a nice message embedded in it – you don’t have to excel at everything you do! In a society where we often push our children to do too much and be involved in too many activities/sports it soon becomes apparent that they can’t be all-stars or A students in every situation. It is important that we, as parents, and our children accept this simple fact! 

Focus on the things you are best at and you’ll be happier!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Day Ray Got Away - Angela Johnson (Picture Book)

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Picture, if you will, a huge warehouse where inflatable parade balloons are stored. One of the balloons, a gigantic sun balloon named Ray, has always dreamed that one day he would escape from his handlers and fly free.

As the story opens Ray tells his fellow balloons that “This is the day!”.  And, sure enough, as the parade the balloons are a part of unfolds, Ray’s dream is realized. With a resounding “SNAP!”, Ray’s lines begin breaking and he floats up, up, up and away. Not even his handlers can stop his escape.

Young readers will cheer for the determined balloon with the smile on his bright yellow face as he finally soars aloft, achieves new heights and disappears over the horizon.

With the traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade not far off, this is a picture book that youngsters five and older won’t forget. As they watch the parade on TV or in person, don’t be surprised if they wonder where Ray is or keeping hoping one of the huge balloons breaks free!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

It Started with a Dare - Lindsay Faith Rech (Teen Fiction)

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Cynthia Gene Silverman is in a new town, new school and shocked when the popular clique invites her to sit with them at lunch. Not used to being the center of attention, Cynthia gives herself a new name, C.G., and creates a persona that is far from her true self.

At a sleep over, C.G. makes up a more adventurous version of Truth or Dare that she claims she and her friends played back in Philadelphia. This game leads to C.G. flirting online with one of her teachers, making out with her new best friend's brother, underaged drinking and eventually hurting the one person who really gets C.G.

Soon C.G. finds that being in the popular crowd isn't all it's cracked up to be. As her lies spiral out of control, C.G. must learn that life eventually catches up with you and the consequences can be dire.

It Started with a Dare is a fun read. It's a chick-lit for teens with a good dose of drama added in. The writing style flows well and keeps you hooked to the story from start to finish. Things switch around wheter C.G. is sending instant messages, emails or simply narrating from her point of view.

Sadly, I know how hard it is to fit in, especially in middle and high school, so many readers will fully understand why C.G. makes the choices she does. As an adult who's been through all that nastiness, I found myself rooting for C.G. to do the right thing and grew disappointed with each new lie.

I'm certain teens will get a lot from this book. We've all had our experiences with the Alona and Grace's of the high school set. Pay close attention to the end. I don't want to give away a spoiler so you'll have to read to the end yourself. But, there's one thing that C.G. says about the popular versus unpopular crowds that is so simple yet extremely profound and makes me wish more kids realized it!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Don't Call Me Pruneface - Janet Reed Ahearn (Picture Book)

Released August 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Paul is a very good little boy, but he is thoroughly tested when a new little girl moves in next door. Prudence has tons of attitude and even when Paul tries to be friendly and a good neighbor, Prudence tries his patience.

Prudence’s nastiness takes many forms. She refers to Paul as “Pill," “Four Eyes” and ”Cootie Cockroach Four-Eyes Frogface  Peahead”.  She calls Paul’s dog “Oops” instead of  “Bobo." And she taunts Paul by sticking her tongue out at him.

Finally Paul retaliates and starts calling his new neighbor “Pruneface." Although that’s perhaps not the best way of dealing with the situation, giving, Prudence a taste of her own medicine seems to work wonders. A truce is signed and by the story’s conclusion the two are on their way to becoming the best of friends.

This picture book for children three or older puts an interesting spin on standing up to someone who is bullying you. Mild mannered  Paul finally “pushes back” and his bullying neighbor folds. This never goes beyond name calling and the names are all rather silly, but I’m thinking that there might have been a better way of dealing with the situation.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Adios, Nirvana - Conrad Wesselhoeft (Teen Fiction)

Released October 25, 2010

After his brother's death, Jonathan's struggled to keep his sanity. He's gone from being an award-winning poet and talented guitarist to a kid that rarely goes to school, loathes his mom's attempted intervention and can't stand living. His friends and his principal refuse to let him slip away so easily.

To save his education, Jonathan is asked to pen former journalist and WWII veteran David O.H. Cosgrove II's memoir. Jonathan's a mixed-up kid and he's not sure he's ready, emotionally or physically, to spend his day talking to an elderly man trapped in a facility where death is his only destination.

"She senses me leaving forever. And I am. I'll never come back. Not to this place, where death and spinach and piss sit side by side on your dinner tray."

At heart, Adios, Nirvana is everything I'd hoped The Catcher in the Rye would be. As a teen and even as an adult, I never understood why people raved over Holden Caufield's story. He whines, he seems to have a limited vocabulary repeating certain terms over and over again. I'd always wished Holden could tell his story without being so obnoxious. In a nutshell, I think Conrad Wesselhoeft's debut novel is brilliant.

Conrad Wesselhoeft fixes everything I ever hated about Holden in that classic coming-of-age story. Adios, Nirvana is fresh, it's impossible not to feel sympathy for Jonathan and I find myself really wanting to keep reading to see if he can successfully battle his demons. Laced with details into things teens are exposed to on a regular basis--drinking, suicidal thoughts, depression and music, most of all the music--I really loved every minute of Jonathan's coming-of-age tale.

Poetry is woven into the story. It would be silly not to incorporate poems as they are the heart and soul of Jonathan. Teens who loathe poems will likely discover that poetry isn't so bad. This isn't the flowery poetry that teachers forced you to read. They're gritty and often dark, painting vivid images of a depressed teen's mind.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Adventures in Booga Booga Land - Scott Nichol (Video)

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

The Adventures in Booga Booga Land DVD is based on the popular children's book of the same name by Robert Milner. It's kind of bittersweet that this book made it to DVD because the author vanished while hiking around Cream Lake on Vancouver Island in 2003, before the book was even published,. He had never been seen or heard from again. However, I'm certain he'd be thrilled with both the book and the video version.

Adventures in Booga Booga Land retells the parables of Jesus in a kid-friendly manner. The main characters, Marty the Monkey and Gerard the Giraffe, are lively and enjoyable. True of many cartoon characters, they have their mishaps, including the classic crushed by falling rock scenarios. Children will enjoy watching Marty and Gerard on their many adventures and often laugh at their antics. Catchy Caribbean music starts off the video and should get  younger children out of their seat and dancing to the beat.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Haint Misbehavin' - Maureen Hardegree (Young Adult)

Released June 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Haint Misbehavin', part one of Maureen Hardegree's Ghost Handler Series, introduces fourteen-year-old Heather Tildy. When she finally gets her period, she develops the ability to see and communicate with ghosts.

Her first ghost is a ten-year-old girl named Amy. Amy's full of mischief and gets Heather into trouble more than once. Amy bores easily and loves meddling. Ghost Amy spends her time playing matchmaker or harassing Heather's sister's best friend. Worse, Amy will not tell Heather what she wants or needs in order to go away for good.

While Amazon lists the book for children ages 9 to 12, I have to disagree. The book's heroine is 14 and situations like teen drinking and dating do appear in the story. Haint Misbehavin' is definitely better suited to the 13 and older crowd.

The debut in this series is a great start. It sets the stage for potential high school romance, develops a strong bond between Heather and her sisters. Best of all, it creates a series that is perfect for teens who loved Ghost Whisperer. It's the same premise, but the younger characters make it easier for teens to relate to.

I had to laugh at the description of their Beagle, Roquefort's, extreme dislike of hats. I had a Beagle who was terrified of people wearing hats. Put a hat on and she'd bark and growl non-stop until the hat came off. I also laughed at the description of the "crazy Beagle runs" because ours did that after baths, running like crazy around the living room. Little details of that nature made the book very endearing.

Draw Plus Math: Enhance Math Learning Through Art Activities - Freddie Levin

Draw Plus Math
Enhance Math Learning
Through Art Activities
Draw Math Cover

written and illustrated by
Freddie Levin

64 pages full color
8.5 x 11 · 200+ drawings
For ages 6 and up
ISBN: 978-0-939217-90-8
$8.99 trade paperback
Publication Date: October 2010

Published by Peel Productions, Inc. Vancouver, WA.

Distributed by North Light Books,
a division of F&W Publications.

Available at bookstores, libraries, online, or call 800-345-6665.
Meet Freddie Levin

Feddie Levin
Freddie Levin has been making art since the sky was yellow and there were witches and dinosaurs, and no TV. She has a studio in Chicago that she shares with two noisy, colorful birds and a fish named Seabiscuit.

She has illustrated picture books, readers, workbooks, greeting cards, and game boards. She is the author/illustrator of an award winning series called 1-2-3 Draw. Books in this series include 1-2-3 Draw Ocean Life, 1-2-3 Draw Horses, 1-2-3 Draw Pets and Farm Animals, 1-2-3 Draw Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals, 1-2-3 Draw Wild Animals, 1-2-3 Draw Knights, Castles, and Dragons, 1-2-3 Draw Cars, Trucks and Other Vehicles, and 1-2-3 Draw Mythical Creatures. Over a million and a half copies have been sold worldwide.

Her licensing company, Polkadot Pie, produces images for paper goods, greeting cards, holiday decorations, home decor, stickers, window clings, puzzles, and much, much more.

Levin also loves to make puppets, tiny stages, and fine giclee prints. Besides art, she is also interested in ballet, yoga, gardens, birds, and anything with frosting.

Enhance Math Learning
Through Art Activities

Studies consistently show that when it comes to mathematics, American students don't come close to the level of achievement reached by their peers around the world. A hot new book promises to solve that problem using art activities to explore basic math concepts.

DrawMathPlusPG5In her 12th title from Peel Productions, (1-2-3 Draw series total: 23 titles; over 1.5 million sold), Freddie Levin uses her proven, step-by-step drawing instructions to offer lessons that supplement math learning in an innovative way. Draw Plus Math: Enhance Math Learning Through Art Activities presents lessons based on learning goals outlined by the Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM;

By enhancing math learning through art activities with exercises and games, Levin turns the sometimes frightening and often challenging concepts of math into something fun and approachable. Colorful robots, critters, odd creatures, and more all play an active role in teaching beginning math concepts.

Veteran teacher Kathy Teitelman comments, "This activity book contains how-to-draw lessons cleverly woven with major math concepts. It's an entertaining way for new math concepts to be introduced to younger students or reviewed by older students."

Story ideas that could be developed using Draw Plus Math
- Math Is All Around Us...Let's Count the Ways
- Shape Up Your Math Skills With Drawings
- Numbers Can Be Fun When You Add a Pencil &
  Some Crayons

Monday, September 27, 2010

Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch - Mary Peterson & Jennifer Rofe (Picture Book)

Released July 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

While their mother takes a little snooze in the pumpkin patch her two mischievous little ones are off on an exploring trek around the farm. They sneak under the farmer’s wife’s sheets drying on the line, tromp over the green beans in the garden, pass some sheep out in the field and frolic in the clover.

But wait, they aren’t done quite yet. The piggies tease the barn cats and slip into the big bull’s pen where there’s plenty of mud in which to play.

Unfortunately, the bull isn’t much of a host and with some loud squeals the duo dashes off to the stream where the geese hang out. Once again they wear out their welcome and, then, after an encounter with some bees, they scurry back to the pumpkin patch for a nice nap.

As young readers follow the silly antics of these two, little piggies the children will be introduced to prepositions of direction, rhyme and assonance. From start to finish, this entertaining, nicely illustrated read aloud book will delight preschoolers and move them closer to mastering basic deciphering skills.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Petunia Pepper's Picture Day - Cathy Breisacher (Picture Book)

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Every year Petunia Pepper has her school picture taken. Her mom "proudly placed Petunia's picture on the piano in the parlor."

In the past, Petunia's had issues ranging from a missing tooth to pink eye. This year, she is determined to come home with a picture everyone will want. With ribbons, nail polish and polished shoes, Petunia's certain nothing will go wrong this year. What happens if the unexpected spoils her plans?

The use of alliteration turns this story into one every household needs! Petunia Pepper's Picture Day is perfect for younger readers. Reading the story out loud allows the frequent "P" words to pop. The story is short enough than a beginning reader will easily power through it, while the story remains lighthearted and enjoyable from start to finish. Best of all, Petunia's story offers a great message that will help de-stress some kids on that dreaded day!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Air Show - Treat Williams (Picture Book)

Released June 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Filled with illustrations of all types of private, commercial and military aircraft, this picture book will delight any youngster who loves airplanes. Ellie and her brother Gill are off to see an air show with their father.

The children fly in their father’s airplane into the airport where the show is being held and then spend the day looking at all the displays. After an air show performed by the Blue Angels, Ellie has a marvelous experience when she is taken up for a ride in a stunt airplane.

The woman pilot gives the child a ride she’ll never forget. Afterward, Ellie knows that some day she wants to get her pilot’s license and do stunts like the lady in the little red airplane.

Not only does this book provide a good idea of what happens at an air show but it also opens with a section on what it is like to fly in a small, two engine airplane. It won’t take but a few readings before this book becomes your little pilot’s favorite story!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World) - Mac Barnett

Released June 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Featuring big, bold illustrations, this picture book tells the story of a little girl whose fifth grade science fair project gets way out of hand. Although she wins first place, the youngster’s robot turns out to have a mind of its own.

When it goes on a rampage the young scientist realizes she didn’t fully think her project through and the robot has some major design flaws. Because she forgot to give it ears, when the child tells the robot to “Knock it off!” and behave, it doesn’t respond because it can’t hear her.

Finally the girl comes up with a “solution” to the problem of the out-of-control robot but, alas, she solves one problem only to create another.

A clever story with a comical twist, this is a book that older children will enjoy. Although the suggested age group begins with three year olds, I would read the book to youngsters five and older.

Book News - I See the Sun in China

Six weeks before the official publication (October) of I See the Sun in China written by Dedie King and illustrated by Judith Inglese, this book has received a 2010 PREFERRED CHOICE AWARD - Books for Kids category - from the Creative Child Awards Program.
As the world becomes "smaller", it is increasingly necessary for children to get a global perspective from a very young age. Addressing this need, Satya House Publications is pleased to be releasing the first title in a new series of books for children age 5 and up about different countries. Each book in the I See the Sun series will portray the essential cultural elements of one country through the eyes of a child, providing the reader or listener with an understanding "a day in the life" of that child.

Young readers will quickly perceive that children of the world really share a mutual existence even though they speak varied languages, write in diverse alphabets and have contrasting national and regional attire, foods and traditions. They all have family, friends, games and daily routines that make childhood similar at the core. The differences are not so strange, rather, there is beauty and creative power in the diversity. I See the Sun books will help to honor human individuality and at the same time acknowledge our common ground.

Each book in the series will be written in English as well as the primary language of the country, with a glossary providing information about the dozen or so "foreign" words such as those for mother, father, local foods, etc. This will enable children to begin comprehending cultures other than their own, as well as offering an introduction to the concept of foreign languages. A country overview is also included for parents and teachers who want to go beyond just reading the story so they can talk a bit more about the country with a child.

I See the Sun in China is bilingual, written in English and Mandarin Chinese, and beautifully illustrated with colorful collages. The 40-page perfect-bound book is priced at $12.95 and will be available after October 1 from bookstores, Amazon, other online retailers, and directly from the publisher.

I See the Sun in Nepal will be published in November 2010 and I See the Sun in Afghanistan is scheduled for an early 2011 release, followed by I See the Sun in India and I See the Sun in Russia.
I See the Sun in China - Overview
I See the Sun in China follows a young child as she travels from a small town to the city of Shanghai, portraying the events that take place from dawn until night over the course of that one day. The unspoken message of this book is the movement from the old to the new, while still maintaining some connections with the past. Written in both English and Mandarin Chinese, I See the Sun in China is beautifully illustrated with warm, engaging collages made from photographs, paper cut-outs, and drawings. Children will be able to recognize the similarities as well as the differences between their own culture and the culture of modern China.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Who Stole Mona Lisa - Ruthie Knapp (Picture Book)

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

In 1911 Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, the Mona Lisa, was stolen from the Louvre by an Italian housepainter named Vincenzo Perguia. Two years after the theft Perguia tried to sell the work of art. He was captured by the police and the painting was returned to Paris.

This story, narrated by the legendary lady pictured in the painting, tells the complete tale of the theft and art work’s eventual return. This is a unique way to introduce a child to not only de Vinci’s masterpiece but art in general. It is a story that I imagine very few adults are aware of also so everyone in the family will benefit from reading this book.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Big Stink (Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie) - David Lubar

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

David Lubar's series, Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie, easily suits the advancing reader with a nice blend of easy vocabulary with some tougher words thrown in. As a bit of a zombie fanatic, I admit to finding this series to be utterly delightful and have shared my passion with my nephew. It's easy to say how much I love these books, but his willingness to go curl up with one of these zombie books and read it start to finish in one sitting says more than I ever could.

In The Big Stink, Nathan has a new problem. His school is in the midst of a problem with mold, so everyone's been moved to Borloff Lower Elementary School. The fifth graders are shoved into tiny little seats and desks and, worse, joined by the 8th graders, including feared bully Ridley.

With the appearance of the 8th graders, Nathan finds that no matter where he goes, there's a horrible stench following him around. What is the stench and how on earth can he and his friends get rid of it. With this new, very smelly problem at hand, Nathan's definitely eager to find an answer FAST!

With a nice mix of humor and mystery-solving, there's a lot children will enjoy with David Lubar's series. The book is less than 200 pages, so not taxing, but definitely long enough to provide solid story. Reading discussion questions fill up the final few pages of the book so parents and children will have topics they can discuss together.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Elephant Soup - Ingrid and Dieter Schubert (Picture Book)

Released April 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Feeling blue, Mouse knows that only one thing will cheer him up – some elephant soup. Rounding up all his friends, Mouse gets all the ingredients for the soup and a huge pot to heat them in.

Now it is time to catch an elephant and pop it in the pot. Successful in his quest for the soup’s main ingredient, Mouse and his friends get the huge elephant in the pot. But when it comes time to lower the lid onto the pot they run into a problem – a big problem!

The unexpected ending of this picture book is sure to elicit some laughter from youngsters two or three years of age and older. You didn’t really expect them to cook the elephant did you? But you’ll be surprised at how this quirky tale ends. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Betti on the High Wire - Lisa Railsback (Juvenile Fiction)

Released July 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

I love reading, that's not surprising, but when reading children's literature, I often find it hard to push aside the adult reactions. Betti on the High Wire probably touched me more deeply than it would the average 'tween reader. Simply because there's that "mom" side of me that wanted to reach out, hug Babo/Betti close and never let go.

Babo lives in a war torn country on a former circus site. Her parents are long gone, but she knows they'll return for her. Babo spends her time telling the younger children vivid stories about her life in the circus. That is until the day a American couple decide Babo is the perfect addition to their family. Suddenly, Babo has a new name, Betti, and is moving to a country that terrifies her.

What Babo knows of America is that the people--she refers to them as Melons because of their round faces--replace broke or lost items. So if she says the wrong thing or acts badly, she knows they'll leave her behind. Plus, how can her parents find her if she's half a world away.

Babo/Bettis prepared to hate her new life. She slowly realizes there may be more to living in America than she could have ever believed.

I loved every moment of Betti on the High Wire. The story is told from Babo's point of view. Because she is still learning English, she makes language mistakes that endear her to the reader. As she learns more about the misconceptions she learned from villagers in her native land, it's fascinating watching her grow and become more trusting.

I highly recommend this novel because it has an emotional appeal that many books miss. Lisa Railsback nailed it and I really hope she will share more from Babo's new life in a future novel.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Chrissie's Shell - Brooke Keith (Picture Book)

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Chrissie's sad; she wishes she was more like other creatures in the forest. She's not quick like the field mouse who races through the forest at top speed. She's not nimble like the squirrel who races up the side of a tree carrying acorns. She's definitely not spikey like the hedgehog who keeps predators away simply by having spikes.

Miserable that her shell doesn't contain any special power, Chrissie turns to God. Her wish is simple, she wants God to make her like the others. Instead, God shares a secret about Chrissie that she never realized.

Chrissie's Shell is a Christian child's novel filled with colorful illustrations and a powerful message. Children will relate with Chrissie's insecurities and delight in what she learns.

This is a perfect book for young Christian readers. The text isn't too challenging, but still poses a solid mix of words for the advancing reader.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Little Prince - Joann Sfar (Graphic Novel)

Released October 18, 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

In this retelling of the famous Antoine de Saint-Exupery novel, Joann Sfar turns the story into a graphic novel that pre-teens will enjoy. Set in comic book fashion, readers learn the story of an aviator who crashes in the desert with little food or water. He's visited by a young blonde boy who comes from a distant star. The boy asks the aviator to draw him a sheep, a hobby the aviator avoids because adults told him his artwork was not "serious stuff."

The prince was happy on his planet until he discovered a new, albeit extremely beautiful flower. When the flower turns out to be pretty in looks only, the prince decides to leave. He sets off on a journey that takes him to many planets including earth.

I am probably one of the rare few adults who never read The Little Prince as a child. As hard as I tried to get the story, it came off for me as little more than a hallucination that I didn't want to be part of. However, Joann Sfar didn't write the story, he's simply putting it to picture.

His pictures are quite vivid. The illustrations draw your attention and definitely help with the plot. Had I not had the pictures, I wonder if I could have made it through the entire story. Having the visual helped push the plot along as the story bounced from the aviator to the little prince and back.

That said, I'm not sure how The Little Prince fans, and I know they're out there, will receive this new adaptation. It's unique and very trendy. I liked it and, best of all, the story seems to follow the original perfectly. I do dislike when someone changes key aspects of a plot to suit their needs. Joann Sfar doesn't do that with this adaptation. However, I know from years of reviewing that graphic novels are not always well received...

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Don't Slam the Door! - Dori Chaconas (Picture Book)

Released August 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

This humorous picture book shows what can happen when someone ignores the admonition to “Don’t slam that screen door!” It may not seem like a big deal, but when the narrator’s dog ignores her warning, it sets off a chain of events that will have preschooler giggling with glee.

A mischievous cat makes a mess of the mother’s yarn balls, which means the narrator’s father ends up with knitted socks with lumps and knots in them. This means he is unsteady on his feet, so naturally he takes a tumble into the beehive outside the house.

The bees chase a bear that, in turn, scares the family’s cows and they make a beeline for the house. The resulting chaos just illustrates that it is never a good idea, whether it is done accidentally or on purpose, to slam a door!

An ideal read out loud book, your pre-schooler will love this rollicking tale of a family’s misadventures that all result from a slammed door.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Capstone Publishes Oil Spills Book Proceeds to Benefit Gulf Mammal Rescue Program

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Aug. 25, 2010 – Capstone imprint Capstone Press, children’s publisher of accessible, engaging nonfiction for beginning, struggling, and reluctant readers, is developing a new book to help kids understand the 2010 oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil Spills, written for young elementary grade students, will answer kids’ questions about how oil spills happen, their effects on animals and the environment, and how people work to clean them up.

Partial proceeds from the book will be donated to the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program (LMMSTRP), coordinated by the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas based in New Orleans, La. LMMSTRP is the primary responder for the state of Louisiana for rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing marine mammals (dolphins, whales and manatees) and sea turtles affected by the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

“The Gulf oil spill has captured the interest and concern of students across the country. It’s important to us to give educators and parents a resource to help address kids’ questions and calm their fears. It’s also important to us to give back to the communities forever changed by the disaster,” said Matt Keller, President of Capstone Nonfiction.

“Helping young people understand what happened in the Gulf of Mexico has enormous implications for our future,” said Ron Forman, President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans. “Through telling the story of the spill, we can engage kids and give them hope that there can be some success stories to emerge out of tragedies when people pull together for a common cause.”

Consulting on the book is noted oceanographer and professor at Florida State University Dr. Ian R. MacDonald, who was among the first scientists to question the size of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill initially reported by the government and became an advocate for more accurate, scientific estimates.

“Kids have a lot of questions about the oil spill and our book is specifically written at their level. It offers them accessible information, to help alleviate their fears and maybe even inspire them into action. With many curriculum tie-ins, Oil Spills will be a useful resource for educators to incorporate into lesson plans about this and other environmental disasters,” said Nick Healy, Editorial Director of Capstone Nonfiction.

Oil Spills will debut Oct. 15, but is available now for pre-purchase through the publisher’s website under its Capstone Press imprint in the First Facts brand. Later in the fall, the title will also be available in Capstone Digital’s Capstone Interactive LibraryTM as part of Capstone’s commitment to making titles available in multiple formats so that all types of readers can find the information they need. Oil Spills will be available in the school library and trade markets.

Oil Spills
By Christine A. Caputo
Publication Date: Oct. 15, 2010
Pre-purchase at
ISBN: 978-1-4296-6658-9
Pages: 24
Hardcover List: $23.99
Hardcover S/L: $17.99
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4296-6765-4
Paperback: $6.95
Interest Level: Grades 1 – 3 (Ages 6-9)
Reading Level: Grades 1-2 (Ages 6-8)
Trim Size: 8 1/8 x 8

About the Author
Christine A. Caputo is a Florida-based writer who has written educational materials for more than 20 years. She works to make scientific concepts accessible to children and relate the significance of scientific principles to their everyday lives. Her writing has been published in numerous earth, life, and physical textbooks and extensively in online educational materials.

About the Consultant
Dr. Ian R. MacDonald is a Professor of Biological Oceanography at Florida State University. In his research, he uses imaging and GIS techniques to investigate the ecology of deep-sea hydrocarbon seeps, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico. He was among the scientists to question the size of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest oil spill in U.S. history. Dr. MacDonald used satellite imagery to challenge estimates of the size of the spill by BP and U.S. governmental scientists, and to produce independent scientific evidence of the spill's significance, which BP and the U.S. governmental scientists eventually confirmed. He holds a Ph.D. in Oceanography from Texas A&M University.

About Capstone
Capstone is the leading publisher of children’s books and digital products and services, offering everything from nonfiction, fiction, and picture books to interactive books, audio books, and literacy programs. Imprints and divisions include Capstone Press, Compass Point Books, Picture Window Books, Stone Arch Books, Red Brick Learning, Capstone Digital, and Heinemann-Raintree. Visit us at

About Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program
Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program (LMMSTRP) is a volunteer organization based out of Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. It is funded in part through the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Prescott Grant Program. LMMSTRP is the primary responder for the state of Louisiana for rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing marine mammals (dolphins, whales and manatees) and sea turtles affected by the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Audubon and LMMSTRP are collaborating with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, and the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure that the most up to date information about the oil spill and any possible animals in its path. For more information, visit 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Princess and the Frog - Annie Auerbach (Read-Along Book)

Released July 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

This read-along book which features a CD of the movie voices and sound effects brings to life the enchanting story of “The Princess and the Frog”. Set in Jazz Age New Orleans, the tale introduces Tiana, a young African- American girl who dreams of owning her own restaurant.

As you following along in this 32-page story, you hear how Tiana works to make her dream come true. Yes, the little girl does “wish upon a star," but it takes awhile before that wish is fulfilled.

Of course there’s also a handsome prince (Prince Naveen of Maldonia) and an evil villain (Dr. Facilier). But first and foremost, there are some delightful frogs and their friend (a jazz loving alligator named Naveen) who play major roles in this story.

There’s plenty of adventure which makes this a picture book that youngsters three and older should enjoy hearing over and over again. Probably slightly older children who are ready for reading instruction would benefit more from the read-along aspect of this story and its extended length.