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.”

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Weather - Dr. Mike Goldsmith (Lift-the-Flap)

Released April 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

This “Flip the Flap” book offers an excellent way of introducing a preschooler to rain, snow, rainbows, lightning and some of the other elements of weather that the child might like to know more about.

Utilizing a question and answer format, three questions appear on each half page within a given two page spread and the answers appear on the flip side. In the “rainbow” section the child is asked “What makes a rainbow?”, “Which colors are in a rainbow?” and “How long do rainbows last?”

Flip the half page and there’s the answer – “A rainbow is made when the sun shines through raindrops in the air.”  You’ll also learn that “The colors are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.”  And that “Most rainbows last only a few minutes. They fade away as the raindrops fall to the ground.”

The attractive illustrations coupled with just the right amount of material will get a youngster interested in the weather without overpowering him or her. The Q & A approach also allows the child to test what he or she remembers about the fog, clouds, sunshine, hail and the rest of the conditions that the local weather person talks about on TV each night.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Too Purpley! - Jean Reidy (Picture Book)

Released January 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

The little fashion plate in this picture book just can’t make her mind up when it comes to selecting what to wear. She shouts, “Not these clothes!” when her mother brings in a towering pile of clothing. As she tries on various dresses, tops, pants, or sweaters, they are either too tickly, too prickly, too itchy, too stripey, too baggy or, yes, too purple!

Nothing seems to work. Remarkably, by the final page of this picture book the little girl does find something she declares is “So Comfy! Just right.”

Before you close the book, though, take a look at the opposite page because you’ll notice the rear of a school bus as it heads down the road.

Talk about a cute ending! Is the little girl on the bus OR was this just a ploy so that she would miss it?  You’ll have to decide!

A toddler will not will not grasp the significance of the little school bus illustration, but Mom or Dad might try to explain it. Or not! 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kids' Guide to Bible Animals - Jane Landreth (Non-Fiction)

Released September 2010

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

This has to be one of the most comprehensive, yet kid-friendly, resources on animals I've seen in a long time. There is definitely the Christian undertone pointing out where you'll find each animal within the pages of the Bible. However, that aspect it's not overpowering, so I feel this is a must-have for any family with school-aged children, especially when they start studying animals in school.

Kids' Guide to Bible Animals blends interesting facts, humor and general information on a range of animals including the Cuckoo, Leech (EWWW), Porcupine and the standard Lions and Tigers and Bears. I'm actually impressed by the number of animals included in this collection.

The author, Jane Landreth, does an exceptional job providing information about each animal without being too wordy. You know how some kids get bogged down in information and then stop reading as a result. The text in this is easy to follow, definitely engaging and laced with facts that kids will love. For instance:

  • Does a mule or a horse have harder hooves?
  • How much food must a pelican eat per day to survive?
  • What bird is tied with the Andean Condor for longest wingspan?

Each animal receives a page of factual information, including the type of animal, location within the Bible and a description. At the end of each animal are a few "did you know" facts for kids to ponder. Kids' Guide to Bible Animals is really a fantastic book for any child interested in animals. I'd consider it a must-own!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Princess Playtime - Elle D. Risco (Picture Book)

Released July 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Your little princess will love this board book that features numerous lift-the-flaps, slide windows and touch and feel sections. Ariel, Bella, Cinderella and Jasmine all invite the reader to participate in searching for treasures, checking out a tea party guest list, participating in a scavenger hunt, and playing hide-and seek in this beautifully illustrated volume.

With nice thick pages your youngster can flip the pages without your assistance and it won’t take long before the child learns to open the flaps or slide back the windows to see what secrets they cover.

Make it a game and ask your child to find various hidden critters or items or see if he or she can tell you what is happening on any of the two page spreads. You can even practice color recognition with questions like, “Where is the girl with red hair?” or “Can you point to a blue hat?”

Since a board book like this doesn’t feature a lot of text, the creative parent must use a little imagination to make the illustrations more interesting. This can be making up your own story and dialogue or encouraging the child to do so with a question such as “What’s Cinderella thinking here?” or “Where do you think she is going?”.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Secret of the Night Ponies - Joan Hiatt Harlow (Juvenile)

Released October 2009

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Set in Newfoundland, this novel unfolds in 1965 and deals with a young girl intent on saving a herd of wild ponies and helping a child in distress.  Thirteen-year-old Jessie Wheller loves riding her pony Raven while being accompanied by her dog Blizzard. She also has a strong sense of right and wrong and the girl insists on righting any “wrongs” she encounters.

Although her grandmother would like to see Jessie pay more attention to being “a lady,” the teenager loves being outdoors and seeking new adventures. One such “adventure” comes her way when the girl realizes that a little child named Clara is being sorely neglected. Determined to help the youngster in some way, the situation becomes more complicated when Jessie discovers a herd of wild ponies have been captured and are being held in the woods.

To save the ponies and help Clara, Jessie is going to have to go head-to-head with the small town’s bully, but the young girl refuses to back down until she’s done everything she can to help her new two legged and four legged friends.

Secret of the Night Ponies is a short novel that should mesmerize young readers eight years of age and older who love horses, the outdoors and an action packed story.  

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Warriors: Omen of the Stars Book 2 Fading Echoes - Erin Hunter (Juvenile Fiction)

Released March 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

There are so many books in the Warriors series (33 at last count!) that it is difficult to keep all the characters straight. Fortunately the author provides a six-page list of the various cat clans and all the followers. There are also two maps that define the territory the cats operate within.

In this latest installment, three Thunder Clan cats, Jaufeather, Lionblaze, and Dovepaw, are prophesied to hold the power of the stars in their paws.
Now they must work together to unravel the meaning behind this ancient prophecy.

As the three cats go about their clan duties, dark shadows that have preyed on the clan for a long time are about to disrupt the felines’ lives.  A change is on its way and it may not necessarily be for the better. And, more to the point, the duo’s special powers may be all that can save the clan disaster.

Young cat lovers have made this animal fantasy series one of the most popular in recent years. These warrior cats with the power of speech continue to attract young readers and even have their own website at

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hello, Puppy! - Jane Cowen-Fletcher (Picture Book)

Released June 2010

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Thinking about getting a puppy for your child? If so, this picture book features a youngster and his dog getting to know one another. “What’s that puppy doing?” asks the child as he looks at his new dog.

“She’s sleeping. Puppies need lots of sleep,” is the answer.

When the puppy awakens, stretches and gives a big yawn, the child greets her with, “Hello, Puppy!”

Now it’s time for the two to get to know one another. More questions follow: “What’s that puppy looking for?”, “Why is that puppy sniff, sniff, sniffing all around?” and “Now what is that puppy doing?”  The answer to each question tells the child (and the reader) a little about puppy behavior

Here’s an ideal way to introduce a youngster to what having a little dog around the house might be like. A smart parent will use this book to discuss caring for a pet and how a new dog should be introduced into the household.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Almost to Die For - Tate Hallaway (Paranormal Teen)

Released August 3, 2010

 What Anastasija Parker wants for her sixteenth birthday is certainly not what she gets. Ana's already nervous. Her mom's a witch and on this evening, Ana is supposed to show her own skills (that she knows aren't there) to become one of the inner coven. All hell breaks loose, literally, when Ana's father shows up--a father she didn't know existed.

Turns out Ana's issues with casting spells isn't so much her lack of skill, it's because she's half-vampire. Her father is a prince and Ana's a princess. He wants her to join the vampire clan and claim her rightful place at the throne. Ana's mother is bound and determined that he's not going to lure her child away so the fight begins.

These aren't the only people fighting, A handsome male witch from the coven and a vampire knight are equally determined to win Ana over. With two hunks vying for her attention, Ana's suddenly finding that turning sixteen is anything but usual.

What a fun story. First romance and vampire/witch lore are nicely blended. There's just enough romance to keep the reader wanting more, but not so much that the actual premise of witches versus vampires is overshadowed. The author's done an excellent job rounding out both aspects.

I enjoyed watch Ana struggle with some of her new found abilities. She is part vampire and her thirst for blood is there, whether she and her mother like it or not. But, I loved that those powers created new situations that heighten the problems that many teens deal with on a day-to-day basis. Because Ana is a typical teen at heart, I think many readers will fully sympathize with her. Read Almost to Die For and you'll see exactly what I mean!