Wednesday, July 29, 2015

This One Is for the Moms

Yes this blog is to highlight great kid books.  But every once in a while I run across a book that is perfect for the parents!  Not a parenting book ... I have already committed to my parenting mistakes ... but one that will get you nodding in hysterical solidarity with the other moms out there.

This is your perfect summer read mom!

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Title: Happily Ali After

Author: Ali Wentworth

Target: Mom over 40

What this book is about: 
This book is Ali’s musings on parenting, marriage and wellness for a mom over 40.  From a family trip to Iceland, a “negotiation” with her husband over who will pick up their daughter at camp, to a first attempt at Botox, Ali does not hold back on the real stuff we deal with every day.  She and her husband (George Stephanopoulos) may be famous, but they are not immune to the real life ups and downs of relationships with each other and their kids.  A great look at everyday life … only a lot funnier!

Why I love this book: 
Ok, I have always had a soft spot for Ali Wentworth.  I appreciate the fact that she doesn’t always look perfect, she is not always “camera ready” and that she can laugh about just about anything.  This woman feels like the gal you really want to have as a neighbor, and frankly have a big glass of wine with at the end of the day.

The book is delightful little vignetters on life of a mom after 40.  Right up my alley.

Who this book is for: 
If you are 49, own a dog, have kids and a husband, well you just found your summer read.  Lighthearted fun.

Final thoughts: 
I was actually crying (tears of laughter) while reading about their vacation.  “Aren’t you excited to …..” when no one is just rang a little too true!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Happily Ali After: And Other Fairly True Tales  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Video of Ali Wentworth on The Talk talking about her new book!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Great Historical Fiction for Kids

I thought it would be fun to bring back a review I did about a year and half ago.  This story is so good and rarely gets the attention it deserves.  It is a page turner and if you missed it the first time ... fear not.  Here it is again.

Today I am sharing a book that won a Newbery Honor in 2011.  It isn't one I hear about that often, and that is a shame.  Margi Preus is a brilliant author and the way she makes history personal for kids will draw them into her stories immediately. 

My middle son, who is somewhat of a particular reader (ok ... picky, I was trying to be nice) was hooked on this story by the second chapter and didn't put it down until he was done.  Do you really need more convincing than that?

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Title:       Heart of a Samurai

Author:   Margi Preus

Target:    Grades 4-8

Series:     No

Newbery Honor Book

What this book is about:
Inspired by a true story, this book is about Manjiro, a fourteen year old fisherman from Japan.  He and his compatriots are stranded on a desert island after a storm.  The problem is that the year is 1841 and Japan is closed off from all contact with the rest of the world.  When an American whaling ship saves them, they are confronted with people and customs of which they have no knowledge.  Manjiro eagerly tries to learn this new culture, but even with all the new opportunities, he longs for his home.

Why I love this book:
Margi Preus writes wonderful historical fiction.  She manages to take a place and time which captures our attention and craft a story that is compelling in it’s setting.  By bringing this story to America she is able to show kids that even during the gold rush, Japan was a country completely isolated.  She even teaches kids about whaling!

I also love that her stories, while fiction, are based on real people and events.  The idea that most of what is shared in the story actually happened makes it even more compelling.  In the back of the book she shares information on the actual Manjiro and lets the reader know where she took liberties.  This story had both myself and my sons hooked from the very start.

Who this book is for:
Kids who like adventure stories will love this.  I also have to recommend her other book,  Shadow on the Mountain which my family devoured.

Final thoughts:
I really can’t wait for her next book.  Once again it is set in Norway - but I'm not biased, oh no.  I mean a book about the land of my forefathers is no reason for me to jump for joy - no not me.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Heart of a Samurai  A portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog at no cost to you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Fun Notebook Novel for Kids

We get stories about goblins and ogres, unicorns and fairies but finally ... finally the brownie gets his due.  Rejoice and well, have a brownie (the kind you eat please) to celebrate.

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Title: Diary of a Mad Brownie

Author: Bruce Coville

Target: Grades 3-6

Series: First book in a planned series

What this book is about: 
Angus is a brownie, not the kind you eat, or the kind that becomes a Girl Scout, but a magical creature that loves to do chores and cause mischief.  When an ancient curse requires Angus to travel from Scotland to America to serve Alex, a typical eleven year old girl with a room that would make any brownie shudder, things go from bad to worse.  While Alex does not appreciate Angus’ tidiness, it is the curse he brings upon the men in her family which causes the biggest problems.  Her brother and father quit all their jobs and activities to concentrate on writing prose (yes a fancy word for poetry) and their lack of talent is becoming a major problem.  Ending this curse will require Angus and Alex to work together, and discover a lasting bond in the effort.

Why I love this book: 
This book is quite funny and I caught myself laughing out loud several times.  Reading the less than stellar poems, was giggle inducing enough, but the rest of the book had plenty to smile about.  

The format of the book is a diary format with notes and and diagrams thrown in for good measure.  It made for a read that was easy to put down and pick up throughout a busy day.

Finally I grew to like Angus quite a bit.  The one problem I foresee is that his Scottish speech at the beginning of the book took some getting used to.  This might dissuade kids at the start, but they should stick with it because the book gets going fairly quickly after he lands in America.

Who this book is for: 
With it’s diary format it will appeal to kids who want  a quick read or kids who are intimidated by more dense text.

Final thoughts: 
A few errors in the flow of the book got my goat a bit, editing should have picked them up, but not really a problem for kids enjoying the story.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect with Amazon: The Enchanted Files: Diary of a Mad Brownie  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Girl Empowerment

Today I have a fun book that is based on the first female detective at the Pinkerton Detective Agency.  The heroines in this story are courageous, feisty and master's of disguise, so be prepared for dangerous exploites and daring acts of heroism. How fun is that?

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Title: The Detective’s Assistant

Author: Kate Hannigan

Target: Grades 5-7

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Eleven year old Nell is orphaned and the only relative the local reverend can find is a long lost aunt in Chicago.  Nell’s aunt wants nothing to do with her, as she is one of the only female detectives at the Pinkerton Detective Agency!  As Nell tries to become invaluable to her so she won’t be sent away, she finds she has a knack for helping her aunt solve a series of crimes.  All this happens with the backdrop of Lincoln being elected President and Nell corresponding with her best friend, a free black girl who has run away to Canada to escape the nefarious slave catchers. 

Why I love this book: 
First off this is a lovely book about female empowerment!  While the book is a work of fiction, Nell’s aunt was based on the first woman to become a detective with Pinkerton and the author’s notes in the back fill us in on the actual Kate Warne.  

I also loved the relationship between Nell and her aunt.  They are both strong headed women who grow to love and respect each other, but they never break character and get too mushy or sentimental.  

Finally, the backdrop of the election of Lincoln and the underground railroad provide a lovely history lesson for kids without shifting the main focus of the story between the two women and their crime solving escapades.

Who this book is for: 
This book will be enjoyed by kids who like historical fiction, feisty female heroines and more mystery solving.  This book reminded me of the PK Pinkerton Mysteries although the actual similarities are slight.  

Final thoughts: 
This is a fun story with spunky characters and great crime solving based on real events.  

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Detective's Assistant  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Wonderful Picture Book

It is such a delight when you open the first pages of a new picture book and know that it will be brilliant.  That is exactly how I felt when reading the book I am profiling today.  It is funny - but not in an obvious way.  The artwork is crafted - but in a way that shows sophistication.  The book is a delight - in every way.

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Title: Home

Author: Carson Ellis

Target: Preschool - Grade 3

What this book is about: 
This book is a beautiful look at a variety of different homes - some real and some fantasy.  Home can be an apartment, a wigwam and of course the ever popular shoe.  Carson Ellis shows us were a Japanese businessman might live (think angles), a Kenyan blacksmith or even my favorite, a Norse god!  

Why I love this book: 
As I told the author, (I love writing that) what I admire the most about this book is the sublime humor.  Her choices are clever, and that is what makes this book so interesting.  One of the most enjoyable things about this book is talking with kids about the various homes represented and which ones they have stayed in or would like to live in.  You may not get past the cover!

Also the artwork is gorgeous.  Her color selection and style remind me in a lovely way of Jon Klassen so if you are a fan of his work, you will be drawn to this story immediately.  

One thing not to be missed is the treasure hunt included in the book.   On the page that shows her art room, she has filled it with knick knacks that appear in all the other homes in the story.  It is fun to look back and find the inspiration for various abodes throughout.  Just another way to enjoy this story.

Who this book is for: 
Well if you live in a home, your child will totally be able to relate!  That and they have to enjoy a clever story with lots of hidden gems.  This is not a traditional narrative so it is one that you will have to “discuss” while reading, but that is where the real fun begins.

Final thoughts: 
This is one of my favorite picture books this year.  I am so excited to see where her future books will take us.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Home  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at not cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The Amazing Fly

I haven't profiled a nonfiction book in a while and this funny one came across my desk.  While I can't say that the housefly was at the top of my "must know" list, I was pleasantly surprised by the humor and how much information it contained.  Of course, hearing it from the fly's mouth made it just that much more personal!

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Title: I, Fly

Author: Bridget Heos

Target: Grades 1-3

Series: No

What this book is about:  
Well the fly of course!  Fly is bummed because the school kids are all studying the beautiful butterfly - again.  Well the fly also goes through an amazing metamorphosis and their wings make cool noises (unlike butterflies).  The good news is that flies don’t throw up all their food (Yea!  Only solids!) but they do spread disease.  However, take heart, because the fly maggots keep the world a much cleaner place by eating our trash.  The fly is really worth studying after all.

Why I love this book:  
I love that the book is narrated by our poor understudied housefly who is just trying to keep up with the all too popular butterfly. It isn’t often that the fly gets his due, but in this book kids will learn a lot about an insect that they encounter on a daily basis.

Kids will get exposed to the concept of metamorphosis, and understand where flies go in the winter … you kinda wonder  too don’t you?  I won’t spoil the surprise!  The author doesn’t shy away from the less than pleasant qualities of the fly so don’t worry that your kids will want a new pet.

Who this book is for: 
Fun book for kids interested in nonfiction. It is a clever and funny introduction to this insect.

Final thoughts: 
With 500 babies born per fly, I am thankful that the survival rate is not all that high!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: I, Fly: The Buzz About Flies and How Awesome They Are  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Your Hunt for a Great Kid's Book Is Over

I love it when I read a new book and I just know it will be a hit with your family!  I can't wait to share it ... so what are you waiting for?  Go get this one.  Your kids will thank you for it!  No ... really.

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Title: Book Scavenger

Author: Jennifer Chamliss Bertman

Target: Grade 3-7

Series: This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about: 
When Emily’s transient family moves to San Francisco, she has to change schools and make new friends.  But she has her books and the Book Scavenger treasure hunt game to keep her company no matter where she lives.  When she accidentally finds a book that appears to be related to the game, but no one has knowledge of it, it turns out she has found the new treasure hunt developed by Book Scavenger’s creator. It just may be the clue to the person who has put him unconscious in the hospital and now Emily is racing against time to solve the clues.

Why I love this book: 
Well this book was just fun with a capital F!  I can tell you that after reading the book I just so wanted the Book Scavenger game to be real - and your kids will too!  There is nothing like a treasure hunt with ciphers to get the excitement going and this book has it all - mental puzzles along with good old fashioned bad guy chases to keep everyone entertained.

Of course the fact that the book was set in San Francisco, where I grew up, was just icing on the cake.  I loved reading about all the places I grew up going to, and if you have been to the city or are planning a trip, your kids will certainly enjoy this primer.  This story also has several references to other books, so avid readers will enjoy being in the know, but if your reader is not as well versed, no worries.  They will still love the book and be inspired to read more.

Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who enjoyed books like The Gollywhopper Games, or Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.  But this is also a wonderful book for kids who like games and adventure!

Final thoughts: 
This book was one of those wonderful finds after having had a drought of good stories.  Got me excited about summer reading again - and it just may do that for your kids as well.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Book Scavenger  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.