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, 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...