Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Book Review: 'Secret Valentine' by Catherine Stock

✰✰✰✰½ From author and illustrator Catherine Stock comes a gentle story of a mother and child making cards to celebrate Valentine's Day. The little girl's mother explains that "'s a day to tell people that you love them." Together they make paper hearts and decorate the cards. When Valentine's Day arrives the little girl discovers that receiving cards is fun too, especially when one of the cards is a surprise.

The Bottom Line: As part of the The Festive Year collection of  holiday stories, this picture book about celebrating Valentine's Day is a winner. Stock's illustrations in watercolors and colored pencils are soft and engaging. With a focus of thinking of others and making cards instead of buying them, this sweet and tender story is perfect for classroom and library storytimes. Highly recommended for little ones ages 3 - 6.

Details: Secret Valentine written & illustrated by Catherine Stock. Hardcover picture book published by Bradbury Press in 1991. 26 p. ISBN: 0-02-788372-8

Friday, February 2, 2018

Book Review: 'The Secret of the First One Up' by Iris Hiskey Arno

✰✰✰✰ Little Lila is a groundhog with a problem. It's winter, but she's not sleepy. Everyone else has already gone to bed. Lila wonders about what happens all winter long. She also wants to know about the secret of the first one up.

Uncle Wilber isn't telling, but he challenges Lila to be up earlier than anyone else. When Lila finally wakes up, she races Above Ground and finds all of the neighbor animals waiting for her. They all want to know if she sees it. Sees what? Lila looks around. What's the secret? Check out this charming tale about weather folklore to find out.

The Bottom Line: With notes about the tradition of Groundhog Day, this picture book is a gentle and fun read for kids in preschool to grade 2. The tale is engaging, and the pages are filled with lovely, soft illustrations in acrylic, colored pencil, and gouache. Enthusiastically recommended for storytime or bedtime reading.

Details: The Secret of the First One Up written by Iris Hiskey Arno & illustrated by Renée Graef. Hardcover picture book published by NorthWord Press in 2003. 32 p. ISBN: 1-55971-867-6

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Review: 'Counting on Snow' by Maxwell Newhouse

✰✰✰✰ This visually powerful and stunning board book features unusual arctic animals in the winter snow. Readers count backwards from ten caribou down to nothing as the light snowfall becomes a blizzard.

The Bottom Line: Besides the engaging folk art in oil and linen, the beauty and cleverness of this book is in its simplicity. Newhouse uses a very limited color palette to illustrate the arctic landscape, and the text is large. This sturdy book is perfect for classroom or library story times for tots in preschool. Little ones will be fascinated as the animals blend into the snowy background just like they do in real life.

Details: Counting on Snow written & illustrated by Maxwell Newhouse. Hardcover board book published by Tundra Books in 2017. 24 p. ISBN: 978-77049-992-8 NOTE: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Book Review: 'Little Penguins' by Cynthia Rylant

✰✰✰½ Snowflakes are falling, and winter is coming. Five little penguins prepare for winter fun by finding their mittens, boots, and scarves before venturing out into the snow. After playing in the cold, warm cookies await before snuggling into bed. Hurrah! Winter is here. 

The Bottom Line: The use of large type and simple words that repeat make this a winner for beginning readers. Soft illustrations convey the story well, and the use of a limited color palette will keep little ones focused on the story. Recommended for storytime or bedtime reading for kids in preschool.

Details: Little Penguins words by Cynthia Rylant & pictures by Christian Robinson. Hardcover picture book published by Schwartz & Wade Boks in 2016. 40 p. ISBN: 978-0-553-50770-6 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Book Review: 'The Book of Pearl' by Timothée de Fombelle

✰✰✰½ A young man suddenly finds himself transported to a strange world in a different time. It is just before WWII in Paris, and a couple takes him in. He eventually takes their name and as Joshua Pearl, he sets out to make his way in the world. Along the way he begins to lose his memories of this fairy tale beginnings. Pearl spends his free time seeking out objects to prove the existence of his other life and his long lost love. With time running out, Joshua and his true love must find a way to break the curse that was placed on them long, long ago.

The Bottom Line: This is a strange and wonderful adventure set in another time. It is a pleasure to read and absorb; however, the shifting points of view are confusing at times. If you dare to pick this book up and start reading, you will be swept away by this poetic tale of first love. Recommended for teens and adults who enjoy literary fiction, fairy tales,and romance.

Details: The Book of Pearl written by Timothée de Fombelle and translated by Sarah Ardizzone & Sam Gordon. Advance Reading Copy published by Candlewick Press in 2017. 368 p. ISBN: 978-0-7636-9126-4   NOTE:  I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018


I don't know where the time has gone, but it's the beginning of another wonderful New Year! Hurray! I am so happy to say goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018. This year is a new beginning filled with lots of opportunities, new adventures, and good books to read. 

One of my goals for 2018 is to get back on track with my reading and complete the 50 Book Challenge again. I'm starting off with two books Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd by Alan Bradley and The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. With two book clubs this year, I should have plenty to read. Please stop by my blog from time to time to check out my reviews and share your thoughts.

Happy New Year to All!

P.S. The free clip art is from Happy Day Ideas. Also, just in case you want to keep track of my 50 book challenge with me, here's my counter: 

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Book Review: 'The Christmas Cat' by Maryann Macdonald

✰✰✰✰✰ The Baby Jesus was just like all babies. He cried. On the night Jesus was born, the manger animals took turns trying to lull Him to sleep. Nothing worked until a curious kitten nuzzled Jesus's neck and began to purr. Soon the crying stopped, and Jesus and the kitten bonded. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The Bottom Line: This refreshing and tender take on the traditional Christmas story was inspired by one of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings of La Madonna del Gatto. Soft and beautiful watercolor, gouache, and pencil illustrations by Any June Bates set the tone perfectly. This picture book about friendship is one you will treasure with your child for years to come. Very highly recommended for bedtime or storytime reading with kids ages 4 – 8.

Details: The Christmas Cat written by Maryann Macdonald & illustrated by Amy June Bates. Hardcover picture book published by Dial Books for Young Readers in 2013. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-8037-3498-2