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Storytime: The Not-So-Brave Penguin

Storytime: The Not-So-Brave Penguin

by Steve Smallman

The Not So Brave PenguinJoin Percy penguin and Posy penguin doing what Antarctic penguins do—and bring along some kids for a fun time together. Storytime: The Not-So-Brave Penguin is an adorable picture book written and illustrated by Steve Smallman. It tells the tale of the adventurous daredevil Percy and his timid friend Posy. When Percy’s penchant for rollicking fun takes him over the edge, Posy finds the courage to overcome her biggest fear, the dark, to rescue him.

Children can identify readily with both characters and will enjoy talking about the plot, characters, emotions, and setting. The illustrations are outstanding and such that a non-reader could retell the story. The author follows up with suggestions for discussion and activities to enhance comprehension with charts and art activities.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Quarto Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Fiction

Notes:  Age Range: 4-8 years

  Grade Level: Preschool-2

Publication:   November 15, 2018—Quarto Publishing

Memorable Lines:

Percy penguin wasn’t scared of anything. 

He loved WHIZZING down snowy slopes on his tummy.

Posy penguin was not so brave. 

She shuffled down slopes on her bottom instead.

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On the Internet: Our First Talk About Online Safety

On the Internet: Our First Talk About Online Safety

by Dr. Jillian Roberts

illustrated by Jane Heinrichs

On the InternetWhen we put technology in the hands of children, we need to do it with the awareness that social media involves a lot of concepts that children are not prepared to handle. Many parents did not participate in social media themselves as youngsters, and so they are not always prepared for the difficulties that may arise. With that in mind, Dr. Jillian Roberts, a former schoolteacher and practicing psychologist has written a book to help guide the needed discussions. The book is illustrated with both photographs and child friendly drawings. It includes questions children might ask, answers that an adult can help to interpret, and explanations for terms like “boundaries,” “inappropriate,” and “online bullying.” It also includes positive examples of using social media for good. It is a book intended to initiate discussion between parent and child.

On the Internet: Our First Talk about Online Safety is well written and illustrated, and I recommend it. My personal opinion, however, is that children in grades one through three, the suggested audience for this book, are too young to use social media independently. I suggest that it is not too early to begin the discussion as social media and its accompanying problems are pervasive in our society. Young children hear others talking about this technology and may see older siblings using it. Discussion of online issues not only prepares children for future exposure, but also opens up opportunities to discuss the basics of friendship and bullying as they occur outside of social media.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Orca Book Publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children Nonfiction, Computer and Internet

Notes: Age Range suggested by publisher: 6-9 years

Grade Level suggested by publisher: 1-3

Publication:   February 19, 2019—Orca Book Publishers

Memorable Lines:

THINK before you post:

T: Is it True?

H: Is it Helpful?

I:  Is it  Inspiring?

N: Is it Necessary?

K: Is it Kind?

Sacred Holidays–fun holidays with a Godly focus

Sacred Holidays

by Becky Kiser

Sacred HolidaysI’ll admit it: I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays. My efforts to achieve a Norman Rockwell holiday a la Pinterest are integrated into the midst of a mishmash of emotional chaos and wonderful childhood memories. Sacred Holidays caught my eye as I realized Becky Kiser had written a book dealing with some of the issues I and many others have with the holidays. She aptly subtitles her book Less Chaos, More Jesus. This is in many ways a reference book designed to be adapted to the reader’s choices about holidays. it should be written in and referred back to during the year and over the years.

First, Kiser talks to the reader about her own journey at simplifying the holidays and putting the focus on Jesus. She stresses the need to change your mindset about the holidays before you begin, in the second part, to baby step your way through individual holidays and decisions about how and why you choose to celebrate the way you do. Lastly she addresses “common struggles” people face. She discusses how to have a Jesus focus without losing the whimsy that makes a holiday special for both children and adults. Other topics include grief during the holidays, realistic expectations, and budgets and generosity. She talks openly and honestly about the Santa Claus dilemma for Christians. Spoiler alert: there is no one right answer! It’s a decision you need to prayerfully make for your family. 

As a reader preparing to review the book, it seemed top-heavy with Scriptures, BUT if I were studying a particular holiday trying to ferret out the traditions I would most like to choose for my family, I think they would be valuable. What appeals to me most about this book is the emphasis on creativity. Readers bring to the table traditions they might want to continue, but they can also use suggestions from the book or create new traditions all on their own.  The place to start your planning is probably not the 50 pins you scored on Pinterest last night. Simplifying and being able to say “no” are key tools in making memories for your family’s holidays.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to B & H Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Christian, Crafts & Hobbies

Notes: This book is not just for families, but can be used by singles equally well. It is for those with and those without kids. 

Publication:   October 16, 2018—B & H Publishing Group

Memorable Lines:

Holidays can be especially tricky to navigate as a Christian—wanting to celebrate and focus on Christ yet being pulled into the chaos or whimsy of each holiday.

Let’s stop living life in survival mode, constantly on the defense, a victim of our schedules and the expectations of others. Instead, let’s live sacred—holy and set apart—with our holidays having less chaos, and more Jesus.

I am better for the choices I’m learning to make. I am doing exactly what I feel most called to do, and it’s because I am learning to say no to all the little good things that may not be my best things.

So let’s take our eyes off of what everyone else seems to be doing and focus more on what God says we should be doing.

Stowing Away with the Vikings–learn history from a graphic novel

Stowing Away with the Vikings

written by Linda Bailey

illustrated by Bill Slavin

Stowing Away with the VikingsAuthor Linda Bailey takes us back in time to the Age of the Vikings in her graphic novel Stowing Away with the Vikings. The Binkerton children have been avoiding the Good Times Travel Agency ever since their surprise trip to Ancient Egypt, but a hailstorm leads young Libby to shelter near the shop door, owner Julian T. Pettigrew offers a guidebook to the Vikings, and the rest, as they say, is history. Stowing Away with the Vikings is a delightful way to learn things about the Vikings that Hollywood will never tell you. Part fiction (the Binkerton storyline) and part nonfiction (clearly delineated explanations accompanying the storyline), this graphic novel is all fun and fascination. Bill Slavin’s pictures in comic style are perfect for entertaining, moving the story along, and illustrating the facts.

This book will delight children as they immerse themselves in history. Just as children reread comic books until the covers fall off, kids will want to reread this book absorbing the information about a culture that no longer exists but has affected our own. Although the author honestly discusses the violence of the Viking way of life, there is no depiction of murder. The Binkerton storyline contains a lot of humor that children and adults will appreciate. I learned a lot from this graphic novel and had a great time reading it. I recommend it for homes, classrooms, and libraries. 

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Fiction, Comic & Graphic Novel

Notes: Grade level—3-7

  Age Range—8-12 years

The Time Travel Guides as a series is being republished by a new publisher. Upcoming books to be released are: On the Run in Ancient China and Game on in Ancient Greece

Publication:   October 2, 2018—Kids Can Press

Memorable Lines:

Does it seem a bit smoky in here? Hazy? Dark? Look around. There are no windows—just a hole in the thatched roof to let out the smoke. The only light comes from oil lamps. P.S. I hope you like fishy smells. The oil in those lamps comes from fish or whales.

Viking laws aren’t written down, so somebody has to remember them. That’s why they have the law-speaker, a man who memorizes all the laws and shouts them out loud for everyone to hear.

The word  “berserk” means bearskin. Berserkers are the most feared of all Viking warriors. Before going into battle, they get into a fighting rage. They howl like wolves. They leap like dogs. They grind their teeth and bite the edges of their shields…Have you ever heard the expression “going berserk”? Where do you think it came from?

Meet Me at the Farmers Market–fun event for kids

Meet Me at the Farmers Market

written by Lisa Pelto

illustrated by Paula S. Wallace

Meet Me at the Farmers MarketSophia is seven years old and one of her favorite things to do is to go to the local Farmers Market every weekend with her mom—regardless of the weather and even if they are on vacation. Meet Me at the Farmers Market has appealing, colorful line art created by Paula S. Wallace. Author Lisa Pelto has tapped into the current revived interest in buying local and organic and entertainingly walks children through what it is like to go to a farmers’ market. Sophia meets her friends there, and it is a community event complete with pets and musicians. There are fun things for kids like face painting, balloon animals, and delicious food snacks. Sophia and her mom buy fresh seasonal vegetables, eggs and meat.

This is a fast and easy read that children can enjoy as a read aloud and later read by themselves. It offers many possibilities for discussion about families, friends, community and eating clean and local.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Reading is Key Publishing  (Concierge Marketing) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Fiction, Food

Notes: 

1. Age Range: 3-7 years

    Grades: K-3

2. I wonder if it is typical for animals (besides service animals) to be allowed at a Farmers Market.

Publication:   June 8, 2018—Reading is Key Publishing  (Concierge Marketing)

Memorable Lines:

Mom always tells Farmer Dan, “Your eggs are the freshest, and that’s no yolk!”  Farmer Dan says, “You crack me up! See you next week.”

The Bagel King–don’t fall on your tuckes!

The Bagel King

written by Andrew Larsen

Illustrated by Sandy Nichols

The Bagel KingThe Bagel King is a sweet story about a grandfather who goes to the bakery every Sunday morning, rain or shine, and buys bagels to share with his grandson Eli. Then Zaida’s (grandpa’s) three friends arrive at his apartment with their assisted walking devices for a Sunday morning bagel feast. All of that changes one Sunday when Zaida slips at at the bakery and has to rest for several weeks. All are discouraged but Eli saves the day by making the bagel run himself.

The story is simple and uncomplicated. It is a short picture book so there is no opportunity for character development. There is a mini glossary of sorts defining the five Yiddish words in the book and explaining two food words. The illustrations are my favorite part of the book. They have a little bit of a comic book style to them, are gentle, humorous, and reflect the mood of the characters very well. For me, it is a good read aloud, but not a book I would treasure and pass through the generations.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Fiction

Notes: Age Range: 5-6 years

Grade Level: P-2

Publication:  May 1, 2018—Kids Can Press

Hot on the Trail in Ancient Egypt–young time travelers

Hot on the Trail in Ancient Egypt

written by Linda Bailey

illustrations by Bill Slavin

Hot on the Trail in Ancient EgyptHot on the Trail in Ancient Egypt is a juvenile graphic novel that kept this adult interested from beginning to end.  In this book, which is part of The Time Travel Guides, the bored Pinkerton twins chase after their little sister Libby who has entered the rather creepy Good Times Travel Agency. Opening the owner’s personal guide book catapults the three children into Ancient Egypt. They learn that their adventure will not end until they finish reading the book.

The layout of the book is very appealing. The fictional story is told in comic book style at the top of the page. At the bottom of the page is a drawing of an aged book (Julian T. Pettigrew’s Personal Guide to Ancient Egypt) containing nonfiction text that explains and elaborates upon what is happening in the story. For example, when an Egyptian woman invites them into her home, the nonfiction text describes the house, food, and clothing of Ancient Egypt.

I can’t stress enough the current importance of books like this to interest children in history for three reasons. First, most people are familiar with the saying attributed to George Santayana that “those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” There are many horrific events in history most can agree should never be repeated. Second, sadly to say, most children are not exposed to history in their younger years in school. The school day and curriculum in public elementary school is so regimented that the focus is reading, taught in a boring and uninspired way, math, and standardized testing. I am not kidding or exaggerating when I say that as a teacher I had to sneak in science and history and hope the principal didn’t catch me. Third, history is interesting and FUN. in an age when teachers do their best to incorporate games and movement activities called “brain breaks” (to replace the recess that was taken away), we need to restore the intrinsic fun that comes through learning interesting things. In that way we create life long learners.

In addition, a book of this type actively demonstrates reasons for reading—to learn more about something you are interested in and to be carried away by a story. I particularly appreciate that Bailey gave a belated shout out to her high school history teacher: “Great work, Mr. Visch—you made it fun!” She dedicated the book to her daughter who “once did a school project on the Sphinx and has been in love with all things Egyptian ever since.” Teachers and projects do make a difference.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Nonfiction

Notes: 1. new edition of an older book

  2. Grade Level: 3-7

  3. Age Range: 8-12 years

Publication:   May 1, 2018—Kids Can Press

Memorable Lines:

For drinks, try the national beverage—beer! It’s made from half-cooked bread and river water, and it’s thick, dark and sometimes a bit lumpy. You’re supposed to strain it well before serving, but not everyone does.

Down at the bottom are the farmers and laborers. Most people in ancient Egypt are at the bottom of the society—where there’s plenty of room!

Sightseeing in the middle of a getaway? This was a very bad idea. Emma and Josh tried to lure their little sister out of the pyramid.

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