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, September 30, 2011

Princess Mix & Match - Disney Staff

Released July 2011

Disney Books

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Create over 200 different outfits for the princesses featured in this picture book. Simply flip the panels on each page to create a fantastic outfit for Tiana, Ariel, Rapunzel or Snow White.
Not only can you alter what the girls are wearing, but when you flip a panel you also change the text.  For example, the text might read “Cinderella imagines the ball and twirls dreamily while the mice admire her new dress”.

Flip the bottom panel and Cinderella’s dress changes from blue to green and the text reads “…and twirls dreamily as her friends join in the fun.”

Each page has three interchangeable panels which allow for a lot of variations and some fun as well. “Tiana laughs merrily and claps to a jazzy beat while searching for the Dwarfs” will elicit a few laughs, as will “Tiana laughs merrily and twirls dreamily while exploring the town”.

Young readers can dress the princesses as they wish and alter the text to create a silly story as they use this novelty book to make their own fairy tales. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spellbound - Cara Lynn Shultz

Released June 21, 2011

Cara Lynn Shultz

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

After her drunk step-father crashes his car with her in the passenger seat, Emma Conner agrees to live with her aunt Christine. She has her cousin by her side so starting in prestigious prep school won't be too bad. AFter one day, it's clear that the popular girl has it out for her, but otherwise Emma's day isn't too bad.

Soon, Emma finds herself falling head over heels for Brendan Salinger, the school's mysterious hottie. As much as she'd like to become Brendan's girlfriend, dreams of her dead brother warn her to stay away from him, and other dreams show Emma in past eras facing horrible fates.  Soon, street lamps explode when she walks past. Are these dreams all a coincident or is there a valid reason that she should avoid Brendan? With the help of the school's "witch," Emma begins to investigate the meanings of her dreams and the other warnings she's receiving.

Spellbound is a fun read. Once you understand what's going on, the story's action really becomes intense. For sensitive readers, themes of abuse and alcoholism (the step-dad) may be a difficult to read, but they are handled amazingly well and in a realistic manner.

The romance between Brendan and Emma is certain to please teen girls, especially those who loved the Twilight novels. The chemistry between the pair is amazing. The bullying that teen girls face is also very clear and extremely realistic.

This is apparently the first novel in the series. The next book, Spellcaster, focuses on Emma's friend, Angelique, from the looks of things. I can't wait to see what's in store for her.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Extreme Weather - Michael Mogill and Barbara Levine

Released July 2011

Simon and Schuster

Reviewed by Bob Walch

From tornadoes and hurricanes to blizzards and drought, this fascinating book delves into the various aspects of extreme weather conditions. The authors begin by explaining what “weather” is and the role of the sun, wind and clouds.

Once the basics are out of the way then the focus changes to “Weather Goes Wild”.  Here you’ll find some basic information about a number of extreme conditions and what causes them.

In the “focus” part of the book there are specific discussions of actual events that fall under the headings of either “Wild Winds," “Falling Water” or “Feeling the Heat." The youngster will find two page spreads about a dust storm in the Gobi Desert, a mudslide in Peru, a Canadian ice storm and a killer drought in Ethiopia.

Filled with lots of pictures and diagrams, this book offers an excellent overview but doesn’t go into great detail about extreme weather conditions. It does introduce the concepts the authors wish to highlight in an understandable manner and thus is an excellent starting point for further study.  After this introduction to extreme weather, the youngster can find more detailed books and information about each of the conditions mentioned online or at the library. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Me! Me! Mine! - Alan Katz

Released July 2011

Alan Katz
Pascal Lemaitre
Simon and Schuster

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Anyone with a young child has probably heard the scream “MINE!” when it comes to one toddler sharing with another. Alan Katz takes this all too familiar situation and turns it into a cute board book for preschoolers.

Rocky Dachshund refuses to share with either his brother or his classmates. He hogs all the space in the bedroom he shares with A.J. and won’t let his teammates on the school’s basketball team touch the ball. Since the ball hog takes all the shots, it is no wonder the team doesn’t win any games.

Totally out of control, Rocky is on his way to not having any friends and even his family is getting fed up with his selfishness. Then his mom comes up with a clever idea to make her son realize that “sharing” is much better than hogging everything in sight.

I’m not going to ruin the ending by telling you what she does, but if you have a child like Rocky, you might want to try Mama Dachshund’s approach. It certainly turned Rocky around and now he believes that “it is good to share!"

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Crypto-Capers Series - Renee Hand

A quick note from author Renee Hand. In addition to her Cryto-Capers book series, she runs a radio show for children's authors.

If you'd like to learn more about the show or Renee's Crytpo-Capers book series, visit:

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Little Chicken's Big Day - Jerry Davis

Released April 2011

Simon and Schuster

Reviewed by Bob Walch

The minimalist approach to the text and illustrations of this picture book for children one and older is actually quite effective. Little Chicken’s day is pretty much dictated by his mother’s commands. From the time he gets up and has breakfast to when mother and son leave the chicken coop, Little Chicken hears a series of commands.

“Wash your face! Get dressed! Finish your food! “Time to go!” The litany goes on and on. And Little Chicken’s response is always the same, “I hear you cluckin’, Big Chicken!”

But then Little Chicken becomes distracted by a butterfly and becomes separated from his mother.  The pair are soon reunited so the story ends happily, but there seems to be a message here. Unfortunately, I have to admit I’m not sure what it might be, though. 

Since I was a little put off  by Big Chicken’s series of abrupt commands to her little one, I felt Little Chicken had a good reason to stray from his mama. That, though, is not the idea I think the author hoped to convey.

Because the illustrations are cute and certainly some youngsters can relate to an overprotective parent or an overbearing mother, this is a book that will engage a child on one level or another. So enjoy the pictures and don’t worry about any issues the text may present.

I think there are times we all hear the Big Chicken cluckin’ and, for our own peace of mind, tend to ignore her (or him)!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Bugs That Go - David Carter

Released May 2011

David A. Carter
Simon and Schuster

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Here’s another in the delightful “Bugs” pop-up series by David Carter. This time we see the ingenious way Carter devises various types of transportation pop-ups into this cleverly engineered novelty book.

You’ll find a jet airplane bug and bicycle bug with turning wheels, along with a hot air balloon bug lifting off and a fire engine bug spraying water on an out-of- control fire.  Other bugs are on skateboards, race cars, and sailboats.

For the grand finale, the last two pages open out into a construction site with all sorts of bug equipment from a crane and dump truck to a back-hoe, pile driver and forklift. 

Certain to please the toddler set, this new pop-up book is also guaranteed to put a smile on the faces of collectors who have amassed a pop-up book library. Get moving and buy a copy of this book before they are all gone because Bugs That Go! will soon be gone!