I Walk with Vanessa

by Kerascoet

 

I love wordless books because you can decide what each illustration is saying. Many times I used wordless picture books in my PreK (5-year-old) room when I was a teacher. They would write what they thought the story was about and it was already illustrated. They always had so much fun we would change the book up bi-weekly. I wish I Walk with Vanessa was around when I did this. This story is so sweet and touching. Vanessa is  having a hard time making she  is being bullied and is sad and mad and frustrated all at once. She doesn’t know how to make the situation better she is little and she shouldn’t have to experience this. Just when she thinks there is no hope of things getting better a simple act of kindness happens. A classmate ask Vanessa to walk to school with her. Throughout the book you see how this 1 simple act blossomed into more acts of kindness. This book is about acceptance, kindness and standing up for those who are being bullied! This is a MUST have picture book for homes and classrooms. Gift a teacher with a copy as an end of year gift or new school year gift. Grab a copy for your own bookworms at your local library or bookstore and open up the discussion of being kind and accepting.

This sweet picture book was inspired by a true story: Inspired by a Baylor University student who was escorted to class by 300 of her classmates after she was bullied the day before, this timeless, profound, feel-good story addresses themes of kindness and acceptance, acting as a call to action to even the youngest of children to stand up for what they know is right.

About the Book: This simple yet powerful picture book tells the story of an elementary school girl named Vanessa who is bullied and a fellow student who witnesses the act and is at first unsure of how to help. I Walk with Vanessa explores the feelings of helplessness and anger that arise in the wake of seeing a classmate treated badly, and shows how a single act of kindness can lead to an entire community joining in to help. With themes of acceptance, kindness, and strength in numbers, this timeless and profound feel-good story will resonate with readers young and old.

Thank you Schwartz and Wade and Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of I Walk with Vanessa. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

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We’ll Fly Away

by Bryan Bliss

 

I’m broken this book is so heartbreaking but a must read. I knew when I read the description this one going to be an emotional roller coaster ride but sometimes you need to read those hard-hitting books. You learn from them, grow as a reader and those characters are the ones that touch you and stay with you long after you finish the book. The author doesn’t hold back anything in this book. It deals with child abuse, poverty, justice system, friendships and so much more. This isn’t a book that you would say oh my gosh I loved it and will read it again and again. It is a very emotional book one that will never leave you after your finished. Would I recommend this to other readers: Absolutely!!! Do I think it would be a good book to read in a high school English , current events or sociology class: Absolutely!!! We’ll Fly Away needs to be read. It explores so much that goes on in day to day society that is often overlooked because it’s messy and not Instagram perfect. This book is raw and there will be tears shed. I loved reading the letters that Luke writes Toby on death row. Luke and Toby are best friends and they know everything that is going on in each other’s lives. They are there for each other and know what their home lives are really like. These two have each others back through the anger and abuse and neglect they get at home. They depend on each other and then one rash in the moment act can destroy all they are working towards.

I really hope everyone gets a chance to pick this book up and read it. The only things I might change was maybe not make the abuse and neglect in a poverty-stricken household. I really wish that he hadn’t classified it as anything let the reader decide. They are often portrayed as angry and abusive in books. When I was in high school I was friends with a boy who was abused at home till he finally told someone. Guess what: they were one of the richest families at our school. Money doesn’t mean anything people are people and abuse and neglect happens in all income ranges. I think I understand why he did it in that income range to show that they had to struggle and they couldn’t just buy their way out of their situation and life.  Either way it didn’t take away from my reading. I would rate this a 5 star book it’s heartbreaking but you will connect with Luke and Toby but don’t forget to grab some Kleenex’s. They should have a deal where you get a box of Kleenex’s free when you buy this book – since your going to need them!  I would say this is a YA book there are heavy topics and not for a middle grade reader unless you read it first and decide if it is okay for your middle grade reader.

About the book: Uniquely told through letters from death row and third-person narrative, Bryan Bliss’s hard-hitting third novel expertly unravels the string of events that landed a teenager in jail. Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back.

But during their senior year, they begin to drift apart. Luke is dealing with his unreliable mother and her new boyfriend. And Toby unwittingly begins to get drawn into his father’s world, and falls for an older woman. All their long-held dreams seem to be unraveling. Tense and emotional, this heartbreaking novel explores family, abuse, sex, love, friendship, and the lengths a person will go to protect the people they love. For fans of NPR’s Serial podcast, Jason Reynolds, and Matt de la Peña.

Thank you so much Greenwillow Books and Harper Collins Children for sending me a copy of We’ll Fly Away.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and not influenced by the free book.

Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime

by Cate Berry

illustrations by Charles Santoso

 

Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime  is a take on the traditional bedtime story. This one is all done through word bubbles like in comics and graphic novels. Penguin and Tiny Shrimp are like all little ones in the fact that they don’t want to go to bed. They think that they are going to miss out on all the fun if they go to sleep.  This one goes a little off the bedtime picture book path in the fact that includes all the fun – loud – active activities that do not go with quiet bedtime. From fireworks to singing out loud to jokes they try it all. Eventually like all little ones Penguin and Tiny Shrimp get tired and they can’t fight sleep any longer. They end the book with climbing into bed and going to sleep so they will be rested up for a another day of fun and another dreaded bedtime routine battle to end the new day. Kids will love this and laugh at Penguin and Shrimps antics. This is a really cute bedtime book that I know my girls would have loved when they were that age. The story is short and fast paced, the word bubbles make it more fun since it is all (mostly) dialogue lead. The illustrations are bold and colorful and not cluttered. This picture book is a must read for bedtime with little ones!

Cute joke from the book: ” What do you call a fish with two knee’s?” A Tunee Fish! 🙂 

About the book: Penguin and Tiny Shrimp DO NOT have a bedtime story to share with you.

There are no soft beds or cozy covers here. There are fireworks! And shark-infested waters!!

This book will never make you sleepy. Not at all. Not even a little. . .

Thank you Balzer & Bray and HarperCollins for sending me a copy of Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Amal Unbound

by Aisha Saeed

 

 

First things first I have to say it the cover is so beautiful! I mean look at it. It is display worthy and I know if reader’s are like my middle grader and I they will grab this for the cover alone. Then the reader will be in for a treat because Amal’s story is one that will grab the reader and keep them reading till the very end. Amal’s character is a strong girl who has seen much in her life. She has a best friend that is a boy that she is forbidden to see, but does anyway. He is a her best friend has been since they were little and plus he is a boy so he get’s the best books at school. Her being a girl doesn’t have as many options as boys do. She is getting to where she has had enough and that might get her into trouble and it does. Things go terribly wrong and she is now a servant for the wealthy family lives in the village as well as frightens many of the villagers.

Amal Unbound is good it exposes the reader to the way of life in another part of the world. I had a very strong middle grade girl as the lead character. Middle grade girls will really like Amal and her story I know mine did. This book reminds me alot of one of my favorite children’s classics A Little Princess. I’d maybe display them together in a library in an: if you like this you might like this setting. Maybe that would get kids to pick up the classic if they haven’t already. Overall it was a solid 4 star rating. The only complaint my middle grade reader and I had been one that I can’t really say without spoiling the book but you’ll know it when you read it. It didn’t take away from the book or star rating just didn’t really seem possible in our minds.

About the book: Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens–after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal–especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams. 

Thank you Nancy Paulson books for sending us a copy of Amal Unbound for review. All thoughts and opinions are our own and not influenced by the free book.

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.

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.

The Midnights

by Sarah Nicole Smetana

 

For me The Midnights was good and enjoyable. The cover is eye catching and makes you want to pick that book up at the bookstore or library.  I think high school teen me would have eaten this book up and loved every moment of it. Mom me was just wanting to step in and tell her stop doing some of her risky behavior stuff. It is full of family, hope, loss, grief and finding yourself again, and music. If you are not a big music lover or listener than this might not be the book for you. Susannah and her dad share a bond through the music he creates in the garage studio. She feels close to him and loves being a part of his world, even though sometimes he is so wrapped up into his own world he doesn’t even notice he has a family. The unthinkable happens and her whole live is turned upside down and she is going to have to find who Susannah is again. The Midnights is full of teen angst and learning and growing. Would I suggest this to YA readers? Absolutely, I will caution that this book is very YA and not for middle grade readers like some YA books. The book contains more adult situations that younger YA readers don’t need to read about just yet. Having said that I think that being a bit more adult YA makes this a great book for an adult who maybe wants to give YA a try but not wanting a younger feeling book. This book is perfect for John Green and/or Sarah Dessen fans. The Midnights would be a great book to read over spring or summer break, and I hope you like it. I can’t wait to see what the author writes next.

About the book: Susannah Hayes has never been in the spotlight, but she dreams of following her father, a former rock star, onto the stage. As senior year begins, she’s more interested in composing impressive chord progressions than college essays, certain that if she writes the perfect song, her father might finally look up from the past long enough to see her. But when he dies unexpectedly her dreams—and her reality—shatter.

While Susannah struggles with grief, her mother uproots them to a new city. There, Susannah realizes she can reinvent herself however she wants: a confident singer-songwriter, member of a hip band, embraced by an effortlessly cool best friend. But Susannah is not the only one keeping secrets, and soon, harsh revelations threaten to unravel her life once again.

Thank you Booksparks and HarperTeen for allowing me to read The Midnights. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.