Saturday, August 24, 2013

"I Want to Help!" by Diane Adams & illustrated by Nancy Hayashi

ISBN: 978-1-56145-630-7
Softened primary colors and captivatingly active, vigorous illustrations bring the story of young Emily to life as she cavorts in the schoolroom. She knows a lot, is brave and will face the insects, is a helper extraordinaire. However, as the illustrations point out, sometimes Emily is a bit much for everyone around her.

As the day closes and other parents arrive to pick up Emily's classmates, Emily's vulnerability peeks through and that is when Emily herself needs help. She finds it in her teacher who recognizes the situation for what it is and asks Emily to "help her" with some tasks.

This book bespeaks vividly of the exuberant child in kindergarten who is smart, active, brave, inquisitive but who also has a weak spot. That is when the superior engaging teacher steps in and provides just what the child needs.

A good read-aloud book.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Peachtree Publishers in exchange for our honest review. No compensation was received for this review.

Friday, August 23, 2013

"Little Rabbit Goes to School" by Harry Horse

Author and Illustrator Harry horse has created more than thirty  books for children including other Little Rabbit books. In Little Rabbit Goes to School we find an enchanting tale that rings true in many households each and every year as the first day of school approaches - especially for a child's very first day of school.

Little Rabbit is excited about his first day of school but insists he take along "Charlie Horse" his favorite toy. Once in the school with all the other little bunnies, Charlie Horse seems to get into all sorts of mischief making life utterly miserable for Little Rabbit and Miss Morag the teacher.

Little Rabbit learns about being a friend and having a friend. This is a good addition to any school library no matter how many other "back to school" or "first day of school" books you have on hand. It is also a good choice for parents who have a child entering school that wants to take along a favorite toy. I recommend Little Rabbit Goes to School highly.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary review copy was provided by Peachtree Publishers in exchange for our honest review. No compensation was provided for this review.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"Don't Be a Chicken" by Binks & Illustrated by Ruby Begonia

This is a fun book geared to any child who likes animals and colorful pictures. The cartoon illustrations by Ruby Begonia will entice any young reader. There are even funny captions inside the cartoons that appeal to the adult reading the book, too. 

The story is about a chicken named Hennie who was given an abandoned egg to care for. The egg was not her own. Hennie accepted the egg and sat on it until it hatched. The chickens accepted the c"hicken" that was so different than they were and embraced the spirit of adventure that the bird so nicely displays. At the end of the book, the title comes to full circle. This book made me laugh.

What can be learned? Everybody deserves to be accepted and embraced for the differences that each individual possesses.(rev. M.Hicks)

DISCLOSURE: A copy was given to the school and we reviewed.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

"Gerald R. Ford: An Honorable Life" by James Cannon

ISBN: 978-0-472-11604-1
Hardcover $35.00
Author James Cannon has given us a very interesting look into the life of President Gerald R. Ford. As one would expect, this is a well-written and informative book that details the inside story of happenings inside the White House during the administration of President Nixon. The author believed that Nixon was guilty of covering up any White House investigation.

The story of Gerald R. Ford's move into the office of  leader of the most powerful nation on Earth is presented with clarity and forthrightness. The Nation was already traumatized by the Vietnam War, rising inflation, and, of course, the Watergate crises. The author shows us why Gerald R. Ford was the perfect President to end the fear that gripped the American people during this period of fearful transition. Through Gerald Ford's honest work-ethic and humble down-to-earth character, he restored the country's trust in its government.

President Ford established government committees that continued during the next six presidencies. His Economic Policy board of "EPB" became very popular with the country and displayed Ford's economic expertise. President Ford called on Ronald Rumsfield and eventually Richard Cheney to slowly help turn around the corrupt administration that still lingered after he became president.

This is an exception read and hard-to-put-down. I highly recommend it for acquisition in any library and for a special volume in the home library of those who love history. (reviewed M.Hicks)

About the author: James Cannon was a journalist, serving notably as a war correspondent in Korea and vice president of Newsweek, as well as Domestic Policy Adviser to President Ford and Chief of Staff to Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker. He published several books, including an authorized biography of Ford, Time and Chance: Gerald Ford’s Appointment with History (University of Michigan Press, 1998). - See more at:

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Gerald R. Ford: An Honorable Life by James Cannon was provided in exchange for our honest review by the University of Michigan Press. No compensation was received for this review.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

"The Stormy Southern Ocean" by ISBN-13: 9780766040915

ISBN-13: 978076604091
The Stormy Southern Ocean is a lovely book for young readers about the Southern Ocean.  The Southern Ocean consists of waters that were once parts of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.  In 2000 scientist renamed the water that flows around the Antarctic, the Southern Ocean.  The Southern Ocean extends north to 60° south latitude.  Part of the reason for renaming this region of ocean water is that the Southern Ocean is a circumpolar ocean; its waters flow around the Antarctic in currents that distribute water, heat, plankton, wild life, and many other resources.

The Southern Ocean is believed to have great resources of oil and gas, but in 1959 many countries signed a treaty that agreed to leave most of the resources there untouched.  Despite the incredibly cold water temperature of 28° F, there are many forms of life in the Southern Ocean.  Plankton, krill, many types of bottom dwelling fish, squid, whales, seal, penguins, and sea birds all make their homes there. 

The ocean bottom is not flat, but like many other parts of the ocean floor, the Southern Ocean’s floor consists of the continental shelf. The seafloor suddenly drops into the deep sea floor.  This steep drop is called the continental slope.  The deep floor has several wide, flat basins, but the deepest parts of the Southern Ocean are in the trenches, narrow channels which is 23,736 feet deep.

The last chapters of this extremely informative book chronicle the early explorers and scientists that courageously sailed to the extreme southern part of the world to explore the waters of the Southern Ocean and the Antarctic.  Current scientists caution us about how we may be harming the inhabitants of the Southern Ocean and Antarctic by global warming, using chemicals that destroy the ozone layer, and of course by over hunting and fishing.

This book is well written.  It contains a lot of information about a part of the world that most children and adults know relatively nothing about.  (rev. S.Fincannon)

DISCLOSURE:  A complimentary copy was provided by Enslow Publishing in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"The Enchanted Attic - Wrestling with Tom Sawyeer" by L.L. Samson

ISBN-13: 9780310740575
Review: This is Book Four of The Enchanted Attic series and now that I know about them through this one about the Mark Twain classic, I must read the first three!  The books are for the middle grades, they mix humor with education and would make a great read-aloud selection because of the short chapters, usually ending with a hook!  Let's look inside the "enchanted attic"!

The three main characters that are responsible for bringing Tom Sawyer into the present world are a set of extremely intelligent twins, Ophelia and Linus and their boarding school friend from England.  The twins have been somewhat abandoned by their parents who have gone off on a butterfly study for five years, leaving them with an eccentric aunt and uncle.  They attend a boarding school in Kingscross, America, whose headmistress, Madrigal Pierce, has given strict orders that no one is to be poking around the tunnel discovered in the corner of the institution.  The twins are well aware of the tunnel, as well as an attic laboratory that has yielded several classic fictional characters already!  (The Hunchback of Notre Dame appeared in the middle of a mysterious chalk circle when Ophelia, an avid reader, dozed off and dropped her open book inside the circle.   Similarly, Captain Ahab from Moby Dick and the Three Musketeers have appeared in the circle in previous volumes.)

Ophelia and Linus's Uncle Augustus throws a soiree the eleventh day of every month.  The theme this month is Along the Mississippi - a Night with Mark Twain.  The family lives above Aunt Portia's bookstore and volumes have been disappearing inexplicably.  Others in the community have reported missing furniture, jewelry, and antiques.  In a secret search through the tunnels which are accessible from the enchanted attic, Tom Sawyer proves to have detective skills, no doubt stemming from having found secret treasure, being lost in a cave and witnessing a murder.  However, Tom has only sixty hours in this world before he must return to the circle to rejoin the characters in Mark Twain's classic.  When Injun Joe shows up, it's anyone's guess whether Tom will get out of this world alive or whether Joe will finally have his revenge on Tom.

The story is narrated by a janitor of nearby Kingscross University who thinks at times that he is more intelligent than the professors who teach there.  He adds pertinent (and non-pertinent information) to each chapter enlarging the readers' understanding of classical literature, good writing techniques and definitions of words little known to most middle school students.  The book ends with a list of discussion questions to ponder.  If reading the book aloud, I would recommend reading the questions first and asking them as the story progresses.  All in all, this was a very enjoyable book and I look forward to reading the others. (rev. C.Karns, ACS)

About the author: L. L. Samson is the author of several books, including the Christy award-winning novel, Songbird. In 2012, she debuted the Enchanted Attic series with Facing the Hunchback of Notre Dame, followed by the second book, Saving Moby Dick and this year’s Dueling with the Three Musketeers. She lives with her husband in Lexington, Kentucky.

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by ZonderKiz in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

"When Young Melissa Sweeps" by Nancy Byrd Turner & illustrated by Debrah Santini

About the book:  When young Melissa sweeps, her broom becomes her dancing partner, and together they turn a common chore into an adventure.

When young Melissa sweeps, her broom becomes her dancing partner, and together they turn a common chore into an adventure. Amidst a series of jigs and reels, a waltz, and the Highland fling, even the two cats get swept away by Melissa's boundless energy and imagination.

A poem penned by Nancy Byrd Turner and originally published in an anthology entitled Magpie Lane in 1927, When Young Melissa Sweeps comes to life with illustrator Debrah Santini's graceful and fluid artwork, capturing young Melissa's movement across the page as well as her unflinching optimism.

Review:  This lovely book is in the form of a poem and the energy of Melissa and the poem is captured by the lovely illustrations that capture each line of the story-poem beautifully.  The author, Deborah Santini, references the Bible verse Colossians 3:23 on the inside cover of the book. This Bible verse refers to doing "all for the glory of God." This story-poem shows Melissa turning an ordinary cleaning job into a time to worship God.  Melissa clearly does her best while sweeping with a broom.
"If ever you are
full of gloom,
Just watch Melissa
sweep a room!"
This is an inspiring book to all girls that clean or perhaps help their mother clean. I feel that girls ages 8-12 may enjoy this book. The illustrations will inspire any reader and the soft colors are lovely. I enjoyed the book, but the illustrations enhance this book and give it the status of "keeper" for any library.
"They caper,
With a whirl or two
They make the wainscot
shine like new;"
Author & Illustrator:  Nancy Byrd Turner was born in 1880. She published a number of poems, novels, and song lyrics for children during her lifetime. She also served on the editorial staff of Youth Companion, Atlantic Monthly, and The Independent Magazine. She died in 1971.

Debrah Santini has illustrated a number of children’s books. She holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and is a faculty member of the art department at West Georgia College.

DISCLOSURE: We received a complimentary copy of When Melissa Dances from Peachtree Publishers in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Zoom in on Body Invaders" by Richard Spilsbury

ISBN-13: 9780750267298
Grades 4 and up
Review: Zoom in on Body Invaders is one of the best children’s books I have ever read!  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Although the book is written as a children’s book, there is much to be learned and enjoyed by children, as well as adults, about the different types of creatures that can live in or on our bodies.

The book begins by exposing the reader to “the scale of things.”  It relates the size of things visible to the naked eye, to the very small things measured in microns, which we cannot see without the aid of a microscope.  It then introduces the difference between light microscopy and electron microscopy.  

The rest of the book then discusses various creatures that live in us or on us.  Each double spread page introduces one organism, relating interesting facts about that organism.  It introduces such concepts as “parasites,” feeding mouthparts called “proboscis,” and saliva proteins that are “anesthetic” in nature.  Each organism is shown using electron microscopy (SEM) so that the reader can truly enjoy each of the various monstrosities up close! 

Each double spread page also relates a “Fearsome fact” or a “Know your foe” fact.  Who would have known that we have approximately one billion bacteria living on every tooth in our mouth or that a mosquito can smell our breath or sweat from up to 100 feet away.  How disgusting to see a sneeze up close and realize that a sneeze can carry around 200 million viruses!  How shocking to discover that adults have up to 25 follicle mites living head down in our eyelash follicles!  And how repulsive to see the head of a tapeworm with its hooks and suckers!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It is educational, fascinating, and it exposes children to a whole new world of unknown creatures that may live in us or on us everyday.  (rev. S.Fincannon, Science Teacher, ACS)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy is provided us by Enslow Publishers in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Prairie Chicken Little by Jackie Mims Hopkins & illustrated by Henry Cole

  • Hardcover: $15.95
  • ISBN: 978-1-56145-694-9
Review:  This is a fun book!  Prairie Chicken is a chicken named Mary who hears a rumbling in her stomach. She thinks the rumbling is a stampede of bison and wants to warn her friends. So she runs and meets up with very cute animals. The prairie animals are gullible and follow a fox into his den. The sly fox thinks he will have a great dinner but is not prepared when Mary (Prairie Chicken Little) and her animal friends start a big ruckus.

The faithful horse and dog are close enough to the den that they hear the ruckus being made and realize that Mary and friends are in trouble. Horse and dog come and chase the fox far away and then fix a great supper after which Mary does not hear the rumbling any more.

The author has taken a famous old story of "chicken little, the sky is falling" fame and rewritten it delightfully.

The illustrations are colorful and very expressive. The action shown in the art is lively and absolutely funny. The critters "body language" and facial expressions will have readers chuckling. (rev. M.Hicks)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was given us by Peachtree Publishers in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer. No compensation was received for this review.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"The Survivor" by DiAnn Mills

About the book: Is it her next bestseller . . . Or her last words? In The Chase, award-winning author DiAnn Mills introduced you to the world of Kariss Walker, the bestselling suspense author with a nose for trouble. In The Survivor, Kariss gets the chance to tell her most powerful story yet. But will it revitalize her writing career? Or bring it to a violent end?

Kariss meets Dr. Amy Garrett, who survived a brutal childhood attack in which the assailant was never found. Now Dr. Garrett wants her story written in a novel. Kariss wishes she could seek the advice of Special Agent Tigo Harris, but she broke off the relationship a few months prior and seeing him again would be too painful. She interviews Amy and conducts her own research, stepping unaware into danger. Tigo misses Kariss and wants her back, but he understands why she broke off their relationship. Instead, he concentrates on solving a car bombing and bringing the killer to justice. As Kariss's new story attracts an onslaught of danger that she never expected, can Tigo save the woman he loves and find out who wants her dead for writing about an unsolved cold case? (from book cover)

REVIEW:  I did not enjoy this book, primarily because it dealt with a very brutal crime against a child.  There were some good characters in the book that you could easily identify with and I did like the thread that the author wove throughout the book of God’s presence being with us and his guiding hand.  If you enjoy crime shows such as CSI or Law & Order, then you may enjoy this book.  Because of the subject matter, however, I don’t think it’s appropriate for young readers at all. 

"Hide and Seek" by Kate Messner

About the book: José, Anna, and Henry are junior members of the secret Silver Jaguar Society, sworn to protect the world's most important artifacts. When they discover that the society's treasured Jaguar Cup has been replaced with a counterfeit, the trio and their families rush to the rain forests of Costa Rica in search of the real chalice. But when the trail runs dry, new mysteries emerge: Who can they trust? Is there a traitor in their midst? With danger at every turn, it will take more than they realize for José and his friends to recover the cup before it falls into the wrong hands. (inside book cover)

REVIEW:  This is the first book I have read by this particular author.  It is aimed at upper elementary.  It is a well-written book and does keep your attention from the get go. 
A fast-paced mystery that takes you into the rain forest of Costa Rica.  While the book is fiction, it has a lot of interesting facts about the animal life of the rain forest.  It’s almost like a “fun” textbook and would be a good book for any teacher to read to their class.  I like that the author is a former school teacher and has incorporated such interesting facts into her story.  I highly recommend this book. (reviewed by P.Howard)
DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy was provided by Scholastic in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"Game Changers" by Mike Lupica

About the book: Ben McBain and his friends are still living large off their incredible football season.  But almost immediately, it’s time to play basketball.  The guys must move on.  Ben is considered the best point guard in the league, and now that Shawn O’Brien has joined their team, they are a shoo-in to win it all.  Chase Braggs is the new kid in town.  He’s a point guard, like Ben.  He’s fast, strong, and determined to win, like Ben.  But Chase likes to talk on the court and show off.  Definitely NOT like Ben.  Refusing to let his team down, Ben hits the courts hard to practice.  But Ben’s revilary with Chase seems to take the fun out of playing ball with his best friends.  Can Ben become a better play maker out on the court without losing his love of the game? (inside book cover)

Review: Game Changers is aimed at the middle school reader.  This book was easy read and somewhat predictable in its ending.  It is the second book in a sports series by Mike Lupica. 

The book deals with rivalry between schools and their sports and trying to show good sportsmanship.  The author does a good job of dealing with the topic of sportsmanship and I believe any young person interested in sports will thoroughly enjoy this book.  I like the way he brought the main character to the point of realizing that he needed to be a team player and not the superstar. (reviewed by P.Howard)

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary copy of Game Changers was provided by Scholastic in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Home Run" by Travis Thrasher

Home Run grabbed my attention right from the beginning. It continued to hold it right to the very end. This is a story of redemption and the long-reaching hand of God’s grace. Home Run is a story that may hit “home” with many people who are dealing with just the hardships of life. I did like his writing style and the way he used a flash-back method to give you background on the characters.

While some of the subject matter may be difficult for some people, I felt it was very real and raw at times. I do not believe this book is necessarily appropriate for younger, middle-school readers because of the subject matter. I urge caution in allowing younger children to read it because the characters in the book are dealing with an abusive and alcoholic parent, a relationship issue that ultimate ends in an teen pregnancy, and the main character realizing that he himself has turned into what he hated about his father.

Although the author’s characters in the book had some significant life issues, he also was very clear that God was most definitely the only answer to their problems. It was not a cookie cutter spiritual transformation, but was more in line with what a daily Christian walk is – one simple step and total dependency on God’s mercy and grace. (reviewed P.Howard)

"The Letters" by Suzanne Woods Fisher

This is the first book that I’ve read in the Stoney Ridge series by Suzanne Woods Fisher and I thoroughly enjoyed it.   I found the characters very believable and easy to identify with.  Everyone has problems and trials in their lives and I appreciated the foundation of faith and dependency upon God that Ms. Fisher has woven throughout the book.
The Letters Suzanne Woods Fisher
Enter Today - 8/1--8/17
The main character, Rose Schrock, finds herself in a life situation that is not uncommon for many women.  Her husband has passed away and she is left to care for five children and her mother-in-law, who often times is very bitter and condemning of Rose and her choices.  Rose’s deceased husband Dean has made some very poor financial decisions that has left Rose in a difficult position.  Rose has begged the Lord to give her direction in how to support her family.  She believes that He has done just that when she overhears a husband & wife talking in a merchant’s shop about trying to get home before the nighttime because neither wishes to drive after dark.  Suddenly an idea begins to form in Rose’s mind and heart that she could offer them a bedroom at her home for the night and the idea of a bed and breakfast takes root from this couple’s dilemma.  Rose fully expects to meet with opposition from her mother-in-law and possibly the Bishop within the Amish community. 

She shares this bed and breakfast idea with her neighbor, Galen King, and he offers to help her renovate the basement into a small bed & breakfast.  Rose’s older daughter Bethany is not fully on board with the bed and breakfast idea, but Rose’s younger children are very supportive. 

When the first couple that stayed at Rose’s house spreads the word about the new bed and breakfast in Stoney Ridge, people begin calling and wanting to make reservations.  Rose and the children find themselves with several very interesting visitors.  Rose also realizes that she is able to share her faith with a few of the visitors.  However, near the end of the book a mystery develops which made for a very intriguing end of the story. 

I will repeat – this was a very enjoyable book and a delight to read.  I highly recommend. (reviewed P.Howard)

DISCLOSURE: A review copy was provided to us by the publisher, Revell a division of Baker Publishing Group for the purpose of our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.