Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32

by B.C.R. Fegan

illustrated by Lenny Wen

 

I wish I had this picture book when I was little. Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32 kinda had a fun Addams Family / Munsters vibe to me. That is what made me love this book even more than I already did. It’s a fun counting book that can be read at anytime and would be a great addition to a October book reading collection. This book has it all from clowns to vampire mermaids to evil fairies and goblins. Two of my favorite’s were the tea loving monsters and the adorable wingless dragons. The pages of full of bright vibrant illustrations to go along with the text. The story reads fast even though it does go higher than most counting books. The mystery behind the forbidden door 32 is fun for the listener’s and readers. You can really build up the making guesses about what could possibly be behind that door. The kindergarten and first graders that I read this to really enjoyed it and wanted me to read it again and again!

About the book: The magical Hotel of Hoo is a mysterious place with some very unusual occupants. As our guests explore the strange hotel, they are invited to experience everything it has to offer with just one warning… don’t ever look behind door 32.

Thank you TaleBlade Press for sending me a copy of Don’t Ever Look Behind Door 32. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

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Strange Star

by Emma Carroll

 

 

Strange Star is such an enchanting tale. It is like you’re getting 2 stories in one book. The book is divided into 3 parts. Part 1 sets the ground work for part 2. In part one you meet most of the cast of characters included in Strange Star. What really intrigued me is the inclusion of the Mary Shelley. She is the writer of Frankenstein, one of the all time horror classics. The author even includes some history of the author and book and why it inspired her to write this book. In the first section of the book (Part 1) the characters are all together for a dinner and ghost story session. The only requirement for the storytelling is to tell a story that will freeze your blood. They are all telling stories, interesting enough Mary Shelley has a problem coming up with one and passes. Then something very strange and mysterious happens and in walks Lizzie. Now you begin the middle section (Part 2), in this you learn all about Peg, Lizzie and the mysterious scientist. This story is very mysterious and fast paced. This section is full of adventure and testing one’s will to not only do what’s right but reunite family. It is also full of all kinds of mad science as they would call it. That scientist lady was mad crazy and definitely the idea behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein I think. The last section is thinner and from here the reader will be  back at Villa Diodati and the dinner party that Lizzie was able to locate and crash. She is a very strong-willed girl to travel from England to Switzerland not only by herself but also she was blinded by the lightning strike that happened in part 1. Her bond and love for her sister Peg is what gave her the will to never give up. The last little section and the epilogue wraps everything up quick and fast, maybe a little to fast but it was still a great book and ending. This book was really enjoyable and one I’d recommend to upper elementary and middle school readers looking for a good book with a tiny bit of creepy but a great story of sister bonds that can’t be broken, as well as a semi introduction into a classic: Frankenstein. My middle grader (6th grade) read Frankenstein recently and really enjoyed it. Maybe gift your middle grader with Strange Star and Frankenstein this summer for something different for their summer reading.

About the book: 

They were coming tonight to tell ghost stories. ‘A tale to freeze the blood,’ was the only rule.

Switzerland, 1816. On a stormy summer night, Lord Byron and his guests are gathered round the fire. Felix, their serving boy, can’t wait to hear their creepy tales. Yet real life is about to take a chilling turn- more chilling than any tale. Frantic pounding at the front door reveals a stranger, a girl covered in the most unusual scars. She claims to be looking for her sister, supposedly snatched from England by a woman called Mary Shelley. Someone else has followed her here too, she says. And the girl is terrified.

 

Thank you so very much Delacorte Books for Young Readers and Emma Carroll for allowing my middle grade reader and I read this wonderful book. All thoughts and opinions are our own and not influenced by the free book.

A Hippy Hoppy Toad

written and illustrated by Peggy Archer

 

What a fun read aloud! Hippy Hoppy Toad is full of fun tongue twisting, rhyming story. Follow cute little toad as he goes on quite an adventure. Toad will travel from a puddle to a tree branch to a flower and more. Readers and listeners will enjoy not only the text but the sound effects that are included in the dialogue from a whoosh to a snap. This is such a fun story to read and perfect for any spring and summer read alouds. The rhyming and predictable text would make this a fun book for newly independent readers. With some help a beginning reader could read this as well making it a fun tag team reading experience.

About the book: It’s hard to be a tiny toad minding your own business on a twig. First a bird pecks at him. . . . Then a bee buzzes. . . . Then a dog barks . . . and so on. And each time the toad is surprised by a buzz or a woof (or the toe of a sneaker!), he hops to a new location farther down the road. With fun sounds, clever rhymes, and an irresistible rhythm making this a perfect story to read one on one or as a group. 

Thank you Schwartz & Wade books  and Peggy Archer for sending me a copy of Hippy Hoppy Toad. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

The Science of Breakable Things

by Tae Keller

The science nerd in me loved that each chapter was set up like a middle grade science notebook. STEM and girls is a huge movement right now. This book is more than a book about STEM it tackles a subject that some middle grade books haven’t touched on much: depression. Depression in a parent is one I’m not sure I’ve read about in middle grade lit. So I was interested to see how it was handled in this book. I feel in love with this book, it was heartwarming and touched me.

The main character Natalie’s science teacher has assigned a big school year-long science project. They have to create a scientific question and use all that they learn to research it and present everything they have learned in their science notebooks.  Natalie isn’t sure here question really counts as scientific inquiry but she is going to try because she really does want to know:  How do you grow a miracle? See she needs a miracle to get back the mom she use to have before the sadness took over. Natalie’s scientist mom is very sad and doesn’t get out of bed. She is suffering from depression and no one is addressing it. Natalie is going to do everything she can to get her family back to the way they were before. Natalie has 2 great friends that will do anything to help their friend. Twig and Dari are just who Natalie needs right now and sometimes just having great friends can help more than you realize. Depression is a hard thing to understand for anyone who doesn’t have it, even harder for kids to understand why does their parent not want to be with them. The author Tae Keller does an amazing job at showing how the depression of a parent can effect a child and family. Yes The Science of Breakable Things was sad but it wasn’t unbelievably sad. It shows sometimes families can’t be happy go lucky and sometimes we need to heal before we can get back to where we were before. She has created a well written book that might show a child who is also experiencing the same thing Natalie is that it is alright and it will be Okay. The Science of Breakable Things tackles family members depression,  the challenges of friendship in middle school, not giving up hope when you really feel like there is nothing you can do.  I really loved this book and I think and hope it helps a reader who might just need a glimmer of hope in a trying time.

About the book: How do you grow a miracle? 


For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific method. But Natalie’s botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that’s important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has hope.

Eggs are breakable. Hope is not. 
Natalie has a secret plan for the prize money. She’s going to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids–flowers that survive against impossible odds. The magical flowers are sure to inspire her mother to love life again. Because when parents are breakable, it’s up to kids to save them, right?

Thank you so much Random House and Tae Keller for sending me a copy of The Science of Breakable Things. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

The Amazing Collection of Joey Cornell

Based on the childhood of a Great American Artist

by Candace Fleming

illustrated by Gerard Dubois

 

I love going to the art gallery and checking out new artist and favorite artist. In all my years I’ve never heard of this amazing unique artist. Joey Cornell started his art life at a young age he just wasn’t sure what or where it was going to take him. At first it was just collecting things that he thought was pretty. His mom and dad while they thought his ever-growing collection was a bit weird. They also that it was wonderful and were always on the look out for things he could add and would bring home things when they found that certain something. His father gets sick and sadly doesn’t make it. His family is sad and he retreats to his art shed. There he gets inspiration to create collection boxes. He creates his very own. His collection is pretty and full of memories for the family.

This picture book will introduce the reader and listener to a new artist and way of art. So many times we think of paint, colored pencil, clay and more as art. Joey Cornell was a different kind of artist. I looked up his art after reading this book since he was new to me. I loved his shadow boxes and art form. A really fun activity to go with the book would be to go around and collect some fun and interesting items, a box ( it could be a recycled box or paper mache box from craft stores) and create their own Joey Cornell inspired art.

About the book: A stunning picture-book based on the childhood of artist and sculptor Joseph Cornell, sure to beguile aspiring artists and collectors of all ages. 

Joey Cornell collected everything — anything that sparked his imagination or delighted his eye. His collection grew and grew until he realized that certain pieces just looked right together. He assembled his doodads to create wonderful, magical creations out of once ordinary objects.

Thank you Schwartz and Wade for sending me The Amazing Collection of Joseph Cornell. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Poppy, Buttercup, Bluebell and Dandy

written and illustrated by Fiona Woodcock

 

 

 

This picture book from the cover reminded me of the flower fairy chapter books my youngest loved when she was in kindergarten and first grade.  The illustrations are the strength in this picture book they are so beautiful and I love them. They are frame worthy works of art. The story was good and has a good message. They are on a mission to bring back color and happiness in the world – in this case New York City.  They spread their bold bright flower colors all over the city making it come alive with fresh fragrant flowers.  This would be a fun book to read at the beginning of spring when everything is starting to brighten up with color. Pair the book with some poppy, buttercup, bluebell and yellow flower seeds since I don’t think you can buy dandelion seeds 🙂 . Read the book – plant some flower seeds or plants or even better spread your own color by gifting some family and friends with the planted seeds on May-day and your little bookworm can be like these sweet little flowers!

About the book: A group of beautiful and feisty young wildflowers on skateboards and scooters zoom through the pages of this stunning book, spreading flower seeds as they go. Together they transform their urban environment into a place that is no longer gray, but filled with color and scent. Nature’s magic is revealed in all its glory, embodying Ralph Waldo Emerson’s idea that a weed is “a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” Budding environmentalists will respond to the underlying themes of conservation and stewardship of the earth.

Thank you Random House Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of Poppy, Buttercup, Bluebell and Dandy. All thoughts are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Grandma’s Purse

written and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton

 

All little kids love purses, yes even boys. There is something magical about a purse to them. There are so many treasures to be found. Plus every now and then they find candy or gum! 🙂 My girls always loved going through my purse and especially the grandma’s purses. Grandma’s Purse of course has the common things like wallet, lipstick, pictures. Grandma also carries a scarf, glasses and other items that are special for Mimi’s grandma. Each item is explored and explained. There is even a special something just for Mimi in the purse. The illustrations are great, they are big and bold and cover the whole page making them the focal with not a lot of background. The one that will make the mom or grandma reading this sweet little picture book smile is the messy lipstick all over Mimi as she had put in on after finding in in the purse. Be ready to share your purse with your little bookworms after reading this one.

About the book: Spend the day with Mimi and her granddaughter in this charming picture book about the magic found in Mimi’s favorite accessory, perfect for readers who love How to Babysit a Grandma!

When Grandma Mimi comes to visit, she always brings warm hugs, sweet treats…and her purse. You never know what she’ll have in there–fancy jewelry, tokens from around the world, or something special just for her granddaughter. It might look like a normal bag from the outside, but Mimi and her granddaughter know that it’s pure magic!

Thank you Alfred A Knopf for sending me a copy of Grandma’s Purse. All thoughts and opinions are mine and not influenced by the free book.