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.”

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

After School Sports Club: Let's Go Skating - Alyson Heller (Picture Book)

Released December 2009

Reviewed by Bob Walch

The conditions are perfect for an afternoon outing to the neighborhood ice rink. All the members of the After School Sports Club are excited about the prospect of skating except Alysia, who isn’t sure she really wants to try something new and get out on the ice.

When Mr. Mac notices Alysia is sitting on a ringside bench, he skates over and offers to help her master the sport. Still not sure she really wants to have a go at the ice, Alysia reluctantly agrees. Once she's laced into her skates, and with Mr. Mac's help, the little girl soon is able to make it around the ice. By the end of the afternoon guess who can't wait to come back and skate again ?

This Level One Ready-to-Read book is ideal for beginning readers who are also reluctant to try something new. Like Alysia, your child might discover that when he tries something that he fears he might not like, he might be in for a big surprise.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Clearing - Heather Davis (Young Adult)

Released April 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

After ending things with her abusive boyfriend, Amy leaves Seattle and moves in with her elderly Aunt Mae in a quiet town in the North Cascade Mountains. Amy's hoping to leave boys behind and finish her high school years while healing from emotional toll the abuse took.

On Aunt Mae's property, Amy discovers a mist that never disappears. Curious, she enters the mist and finds herself in what seems like another world. The weather's always perfect and little ever changes. Teen Henry is fascinated by Amy and quickly finds himself falling in love. Amy brings life to his family, but at the same time, her very presence threatens to ruin them.

The Clearing seriously took my breath away. To me, it held that same magic that The Time Traveler's Wife had years ago when I read it, long before it became a blockbuster movie. In essence, I think The Clearing is even better. I had more sympathy towards the characters and loved the shift between Henry and Amy's narration.

Abuse plays a part in the storyline, and I think it's important for teens to understand, as Amy does, that abuse is never okay. I enjoy how Amy progressed the more time she spent with Henry and her new friends in Rockville.

As is true in time-travel stories, each characters' actions will affect other people's lives. The same is true in this story and while I've read other readers simply don't get that idea, it makes sense to me. If you change the past, the future must also change. Just remember that principle as you read this story.

This book is romantic, touching and evoked a few tears. Teen girls will love it and I think a few moms will be just as pleased by the storyline. It's been a while since I've had a book I couldn't wait for my daughter to also read, and this one definitely comes to the top of the list. It's one of the best books I've read this year.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cake Keeper Cakes - Lauren Chattman (Cookbook)

Released October 2009

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

It's always been my firm belief that every child should learn how to cook. Beginners can help the adult with measuring, stirring and gathering ingredients. As a child ages, teach fraction based math skills by doubling recipes, chopping is easy for pre-teens and teens. My children are now teens and both can prepare their own meals following any recipe. This is an essential basic life skill that I think too many overlook.

Cake Keeper Cakes is great for adults and children. The recipes are easy to follow, I love the addition of color photos, but more than that, children simply love cake so they'll be excited to help in the kitchen. And, cake as an occasional treat is good for the soul.

Lauren Chattman has worked as a pastry chef. The book covers the essentials you need for your kitchen, including pans, ingredients and various other equipment. She also includes a breakdown of techniques to use when making the 100 cake recipes within Cake Keeper Cakes. Overall, the text is thorough and will suit beginners.

Cake Keeper Cakes is divided into sections that include:
  • Snacking Cakes
  • Round Cakes
  • Loaf Cakes
  • Bundt Cakes
  • Crumb Cakes
  • Springform Cakes
I love pudding cakes. I have a collection of recipes from chocolate to maple to lemon. When I spotted Lauren Chattman's recipe for Cinnamon Pudding Cake, I was overjoyed. That's the first cake we made and it was amazing! If you want something a little healthier, the Super-Delicious Whole-Wheat Carrot Cake is equally delectable.

Lavender and Lemon Pound Cake-It's a yearly Easter tradition here. I make a similar pound cake for breakfast and we all enjoy slices along side platters of fresh fruit for a light Easter breakfast.

There are dozens of recipes and all of them look intriguing. If you want to learn to bake or simply enjoy cook books, this is a great collection to own!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Chronicle Books Contest

Enjoy two contests from Chronicle Books.

Enter to win a $100 Chronicle Books Library of Books

For more info:


Get a free month of Readeo by using the promo code CHRONICLE at checkout.

For more info:


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stone Arch Books Reveals Sports Star Contest Finalists

Stone Arch Books Reveals Sports Star Contest Finalists
Kids Encouraged to Vote Online for Winner

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – March 22, 2010 – Capstone imprint Stone Arch Books, children's fiction publisher, announces the top five finalists in its Create Your Own Sports Star nationwide contest, inspired by the publisher’s partnership with Sports Illustrated KIDS. The contest invited students in grades 3-6 to create their own fictional sports super star to be the featured character in an upcoming Sports Illustrated KIDS Graphic Novel.

The five finalists were selected from the more than 840 entries featuring 57 different sports. Descriptions of the finalists’ characters, as well as professionally-illustrated sketches are available at Kids are encouraged to visit the site and vote for their favorite character. Voting runs through April 11, 2010, with the winner revealed April 15.

“We learned so much about these kids through their writing and the underlying themes of their stories – family struggles, being an underdog, mean girls, fierce competition, and the quest to succeed,” said Lori Benton, General Manager/Publisher of Capstone Fiction. “Now it’s up to our young sports fans to decide. Kids can voice their opinion, vote for their favorite character, and choose our winner!” 

The winning character will appear in a Sports Illustrated Kids Graphic Novel book available Jan. 1, 2011. The winning student, along with his/her school, will be included in a page at the back of the book.

Contest finalists are:
·         Brock, a 3rd grader from Sycamore, Ill.
·         Emily, a 6th grader from Carver, Minn.
·         Emily, a 5th grader from Newington, Conn.
·         Jane, a 6th grader from Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.
·         Justin, a 4th grader from Pflugerville, Texas

Capstone partnered with Sports Illustrated KIDS in 2009 to create a new line of high-interest fiction and nonfiction sports stories for elementary and middle school grades, especially for struggling and reluctant readers. Sports Illustrated KIDS Graphic Novels, Greatest Sports Stars, and The Science of Sports debuted in January 2010 under the publishers’ imprints Capstone Press and Stone Arch Books. For more information on these series, visit or call 800-747-4992.


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 SI Kids:Sports Illustrated Kids, the first sports magazine written for kids ages 8 and up, connects with its readers through their passion for sports.  The magazine offers kids the access to athletes and sports information that they want with in-depth reporting, action photography, first-person athlete accounts and other features.  The magazine, books and website, promote positive values, good sportsmanship and the fun of reading.

Skid & the too Tiny Tunnel - Jeffery Stoddard (Picture Book)

Released January 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Skid lives between Mt. Grimly and Mt. Granite where he does his best to stay out of the way of the larger construction machinery. While the bulldozer named Pillar tells him that his work is important, Skid isn't convinced.

One day, while the bigger trucks and equipment were digging a tunnel in the mountain, the tunnel collapses. Everyone makes it out in time except for Pillar who is now trapped. Skid is the only piece of equipment small enough to fit into the tunnel. It's up to him to see if he has the strength to save Pillar.

Cute illustrations and a likable story kept this reader involved with the story. It's kind of a retelling of The Little Engine that Could that both boys and girls will love. I liked that while the basic premise of following through no matter how scary it may seem remained true, but Skid faced a little more adversity with his challenge.

The illustrations suit the story beautifully, they aren't too showy, but are colorful enough to capture the feel of the setting. Bulldozers and other construction equipment aren't clean and shiny, and I, for one, appreciate that the illustrator stayed true to that fact. The machines are dusty and the tunnel does come across as dark and spooky, without being too spooky for the younger reader.

All in all, I definitely think Skid and the Too Tiny Tunnel is a great read and one that parents should consider adding to their child's book shelf.

Monday, March 22, 2010

B is for Bufflehead - Steve Hutchcraft (Picture Book)

Released November 2009

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

I enjoy watching birds in action and, as a result, my children have picked up on my interest. B is for Bufflehead offers vivid photography while providing a lesson about birds with which children, and some adults, may not be familiar.

Blending the photographs with engaging text, suitable for young readers, Steve Hutchcraft introduces a full list of birds from A to Z, usually two birds for each letter. "A" starts with Auklet and Avocet. I found myself learning a lot about birds I've not seen before. Others like Mourning Doves and Great Blue Herons often frequent my area. Regardless, I was entranced by the easy-to-follow writing and the outstanding photos.

A sampling of birds you'll find in this book includes:

  • Great Kiskadee
  • Green Jay
  • Loon
  • Roseate Spoonbill
  • Rufous Hummingbird
  • Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
Kids of all ages will enjoy B is for Bufflehead. While the writing is geared towards the younger crowd, I feel that ages 6 to 12 will learn plenty. The final quiz on identifying a few of the birds certainly appeals to curious children and should prove fun. Final informative facts about each bird will help kids doing research projects. In addition, adults may find themselves equally interested by the photography of these feathered friends.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Easter Egg Dash - Sonia Sander (Lift-a-Flap Book)

Released January 26, 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Another in the Jon Scieszka Trucktown series, this lift-the-flap board book finds Izzy the ice cream truck taking special Easter ice-cream eggs to all her friends in Trucktown.

Peek behind the flaps to see what "creative" flavors Izzy has come up with for Rosie, Melvin, Max and the firehouse gang. You'll find some reusable  stickers which come with the book and can be used to make some of your own special ice-cream concoctions.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise - Erica Rodgers (Middle Reader/Christian)

Released March 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

The next installment in the Camp Club Girls mystery series brings readers to Alexis's home in Sacramento, California. Her camp friend, Kate, comes to visit and the pair find themselves hired to investigate some weird occurrences at a local park that's not doing well.

The park's owner brought in some animated replica dinosaurs to bring in business, but some how the dinosaurs are moving around at night. The case seems easy enough, after all, how hard is it going to be to catch someone moving huge dinosaurs. The problem is there are never any shoe prints and cameras they set up catch nothing but the dinosaurs moving around. Could they be coming to life when the sun sets?

For an advancing reader, Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise is going to keep them hooked until the final page. I solved the mystery early on, but I'm pretty sure kids will be baffled unless they pay particularly close attention to the clues.

This is a Christian novel, but the references to religion are very subtle. I think any female reader between the ages of 8 to 12 will be delighted by the latest offering in this series. It's got a great blend of intriguing characters and a solid mystery that keeps you involved with the story.

Monday, March 15, 2010

WONDER WOMAN Debuts as Newest Super Hero in Children’s Book Series

WONDER WOMAN Debuts as Newest Super Hero in Children’s Book Series

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – March 12, 2010 – Capstone imprint Stone Arch Books, children's fiction publisher, announces the addition of WONDER WOMAN to its best-selling DC SUPER HEROES chapter-book series, based on DC Comic’s iconic characters. The first female super hero appears in four new titles from the publisher which are available now in hardcover and paperback formats.

WONDER WOMAN joins iconic characters BATMAN and SUPERMAN as a featured character on the publisher’s free resource The site allows readers to learn more about the characters, their friends and villains. The DC SUPER HEROES page is the most visited page on the site.

“It’s exciting to bring hungry readers new stories, new villains, and more adventures starring the world’s most popular female super hero,” said Lori Benton, General Manager/Publisher of Capstone Fiction.

Stone Arch Books also extends the DC SUPER HEROES series with four new BATMAN and SUPERMAN titles apiece. All titles in the series pair new stories with original illustrations, and has been well received by reviewers since its launch in 2008, calling them “fast moving and entertaining” (School Library Journal), “an ideal launching pad into the vast world of Superman comics” (Booklist), and “a gateway to greater comic exploration” (Graphic Novel Reporter).

Attack of the Cheetah
Creature of Chaos
Monster Magic
Trial of the Amazons

56 pages each
$18.99 (S/L hardcover)
$25.32 (List)
$5.95 (Paperback)
Interest Level: Grades 3-6
Reading Level: Grades 2-3

DC SUPER HEROES and all related characters and elements are trademarks of DC Comics Ó2010. All Rights Reserved.


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

About DC Comics
DC Comics, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is the largest English-language publisher of comics in the world and home to such iconic characters as SUPERMAN, BATMAN, WONDER WOMAN, and the SANDMAN. These DC super heroes and others have starred in comic books, movies, television series (both animated and live-action) and cyberspace, thrilling audiences of all ages for generations. Visit DC Comics’ website at for more information.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Louise the Big Cheese and the La-Di-Da Shoes - Elisa Primavera (Picture Book)

Released February 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Little Louise Cheese is not enamored of her old, drab, brown tie shoes. They lack pizazz and are boring beyond words. What Louise really, desperately wants is a pair of sparkly shoes with class. She wants a pair of la-di-da shoes that will make other kids think she lives in a mansion, wears gold underwear, and has two ponies in her backyard.

What Louise wants is a pair of shoes that will make those who see her wearing them think she is "a big cheese"! When her mother takes her shopping for some new shoes, Louise finally gets her chance to buy some la-di-da shoes - or so she thinks!

Louise's mother has other plans and they come home with a nice pair of practical, everyday, brown laced shoes with sticky rubber soles. Ugh! Louise is not a happy camper! But things get even worse. Louise's best friend, Fern, shows up at school the next day and guess what? Yup, she's wearing a pair of new la-di-da shoes!

The situation is about to really test the limits of the girl's friendship. Fern is now acting like a big cheese and by the middle of the day the two former friends are not even talking to one another. When it comes time to walk home, the story takes a rather surprising turn of events that brings the girls back together again. Perhaps la-di-da shoes aren't as wonderful as Louise thought! In fact, perhaps they can be a real pain - especially if they rub the wearer wrong!

A cute story about glamorous shoes, friendship and envy, this picture book will provoke a little laughter and perhaps a discussion about wanting something for the wrong reason and the consequences of one's actions.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Stomach Bugs, etc.

Have a stomach bug that isn't a quick 24 or 48 hour deal going around the house, so reading for the past week or so has been problematic to say the least.Throw in a birthday and nothing's gotten done around here.  I'm finally over it. Postings will resume tomorrow.