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Alice’s Magic Garden Book Review

Alice’s Magic Garden by Henry Herz introduces readers to Alice long before she ever went to Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass.  Alice is miserable living in a stuffy, grey boarding house.  The food is terrible and none of the girls like her.

One day, Alice finds a secret garden hidden on the grounds of the boarding house.  She delights in tending to the garden every day.  Little does she know that her small acts of kindness are about to change her life in big and colorful ways.

This book is a magically fun read, especially for those who are already in love with Lewis Carroll’s cast of creative characters.  I enjoyed getting to see Alice’s character blossom, much like her enchanted garden.  Once mild and meek, she emerges as a bold and confident young lady.

I also liked seeing the White Rabbit and Caterpillar take on a more serious and mindful role.  Instead of being absent minded and silly, they are totally present in the moment and even show signs of being thoughtful and caring instead of cantankerous.  To me, this gives the characters more depth as well as a more prominent purpose for being in the story.

Natalie Hoopes’ illustrations are stunning.  I love how the illustrations have a Wizard of Oz feel to them.  Before Alice finds the garden, her world is black, white, and grey.  After continuously tending the garden, only her world bursts into color.  This is a great visualization of how her world is to change even further once she finds the Rabbit’s hole.

I love Hoopes’ artistic style.  She puts so much detail into every page.  Her color palate is remarkable.  The cool blues coupled with the pink and purple pastels really pop against the lush greenery of the garden.

Readers of all ages will delight in this magical prequel.  Children will especially be captivated by the gorgeous illustrations and hilarious characters.  Parents will also enjoy hunting for literary Easter eggs from Carroll’s original classic hidden throughout the book.

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Sterling, Best Dog Ever Book Review

Sterling, Best Dog Ever by Aidan Cassie follows the adventures of one very confused Dachshund.  Sterling hasn’t had very good luck in finding a forever home.  His owners seem to always lose interest, sending him back to the streets.

One night, Sterling notices a sign at the Butlery Cutlery Company.  Their utensils are being shipped to “all the best homes.”  He decides to hide in one of the boxes where he waits to be delivered to his perfect home.

The Gilberts are surprised to see the pup inside their box of forks.  Yet, Sterling has a plan.  He won’t just be any fork; he’s going to be the best fork ever!  But when his plan starts to unravel, will he find the courage to be what the family really needs?

I absolutely adore this book!  This is definitely one of my favorite picture books of all time.  Sterling’s character is beyond adorable.  He reminds me of my own dachshund, Hope.  Young and old alike will relate to his struggle of feeling like he needs to be something other than himself.

This story is full of emotion and heart.  I loved watching Sterling’s silly antics, yet my heart broke when he kept trying to be what he thought everyone wanted.  I definitely shed tears at the end.

The character of the little girl reminds me of myself.  I noticed that her bedroom wall is covered in dog posters and drawings.  She also has numerous stuffed dogs tucked away under her night stand.  I can totally relate to her passion for pooches (especially dachshunds).

I also love that this story sheds light on the importance of animal adoption.  As the proud pet parent to five rescue dogs, I know that many of them have a story similar to Sterling’s.  They were loved for a time, yet dumped when the owners became “bored” with them.  This book would be a great addition to the humane education curriculum at animal shelters and rescue groups across the country.

Cassie’s illustrations are truly stunning.  Sterling’s expressions are priceless.  I was in love with his character the moment I saw the book cover.  I also love the spotlight illustrations at the beginning of the book that show Sterling trying to imitate numerous items.  My favorite was the curling iron (my husband favored the jackhammer).

This book is a fantastic read for animal lovers of all ages.  Readers will cheer Sterling on in his quest to find his true purpose.  I hope to see more books featuring the best dog ever.

 

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Wolf in the Snow Book Review

Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell, follows one little girl on her journey home from school. A blizzard is suddenly upon her. She does her best to move in the direction of her house, but is blinded by the snow.

At the same time, a young wolf pup is having difficulty keeping up with his pack. They are much older than he is and are used to the harsh weather. The pup struggles to keep his feet moving as the snow continues to pile up around him.

Suddenly, the girl and pup meet. She can see that he is scared and lonely. Picking him up, the girl attempts to send him on his way, but the snow has become too deep. The pup simply sinks.

The girl is now faced with a difficult dilemma. Should she help reunite the pup with his pack or continue her treacherous trek home?

This is one of my all-time favorite children’s books! Being a nearly wordless picture book, this story relies heavily on illustrations. Cordell knocks it out of the park with stunning hand drawn images that will leave the reader speechless.

Each turn of the page conveys strong emotions. Empathy, fear, and courage are on display in Cordell’s story. Children will delight at the detailed illustrations and will fall in love with the characters.

This is a wonderful book for readers of all ages. I could definitely see this being used for humane education classes at local shelters and rescue groups.

 

Wolf

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The Nocturnals Easy Reader #2: The Slithery Shakedown Book Review

The Nocturnal Brigade is back in an all new adventure!  In the second installment of the Nocturnals Easy Reader Series, The Slithery Shakedown, Bismark has a problem.  His friends are late for their nightly rendezvous.

When Dawn and Tobin finally arrive, they see that they are not alone.  A blue bellied snake has slithered his way into the group.  He is not interested in making friends.  Instead, he wants to have Bismark as a snack!

Will Tobin and Dawn be able to save Bismark?  Has the spunky sugar glider finally met his match?

I absolutely love The Nocturnals series!  Whether early reader or chapter book, the stories are always original and the characters are unforgettable.  Bismark’s attitude makes me laugh every time.  His facial expressions are simply hilarious.

I also love that in addition to teaching a moral lesson, the stories are also packed with educational facts.  I find myself learning something new with each book that I read.

This is a wonderful story for children ages 5-7.

 

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Harriet Gets Carried Away Book Review

Harriet loves wearing costumes. Whether she is going to the store, the park or the dentist, Harriet has the perfect costume for every occasion. The day of her dress-up birthday party has arrived. Her dads ask her to get ready to go to the grocery store in preparation.

Donning her penguin costume, Harriet heads to the store. Her dads go to the deli and Harriet waddles off in search of party hats. On her way to the party aisle, she sees a group of penguins getting bags of ice in the frozen section!

Curious Harriet follows the penguin pack to a group of hot air balloons waiting outside. The penguins quickly accept her as one of their own and begin to head back to the arctic. Will Harriet be able to find her way back home? Will she miss her own birthday party?

I absolutely love this book! Harriet is a delightful character full of spunk and heart. I love that Harriet expresses herself through costumes. She doesn’t appear to care what others think of her. Harriet is unique and she owns it!

I also love that Sima embraces different family units. Harriet has two dads, unlike your typical children’s picture book. I am reminded of a similar family dynamic in the picture book Honey and Leon. Children definitely need to be exposed to the ever expanding family types and Sima conveys this beautifully through her illustrations and text.

Sima’s illustrations are simply stunning. The cool color palate gives off a chilly vibe, perfect for reading about penguins. Children will fall in love with Harriet and her tuxedo clad friends.

I greatly admire Sima’s attention to detail along with hints of foreshadowing in her illustrations. I love that Harriet’s dog enjoys playing dress-up too. If you look closely, you will see that Harriet has a poster of Kelp, the unicorn turned narwhal from Sima’s first picture book, Not Quite Narwhal. See what other things you and your child can find as you read together!

I had the great honor of meeting Jessie Sima at the book release event for this book at The Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves, Missouri. Sima is extremely down to earth and one of the friendliest people on the planet. I cannot wait to see what she works on next.

This is a fantastic read for children ages 4-8.

 

Harriet

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Jessie Sima Author Event

I screamed when I read my Facebook notification.  My favorite children’s picture book author/illustrator, Jessie Sima, would be coming to The Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves, Missouri!  She would be celebrating the release of her second book Harriet Gets Carried Away.

My fingers could not dial the phone fast enough.  I immediately called and asked my mom to come along.  We decided to leave early on the day of the event to avoid any rush hour traffic.  What we were not expecting was the freak and sudden snow storm that we encountered the further we drove into Missouri.

We reached The Novel Neighbor and I excitedly exited the car.  I could not believe that I was about to meet Jessie Sima!  Of course, mom and I turned out to be the first ones there.  Better early than late, we always say.

Jessie was still setting up.  My heart raced as we entered the room.

“Hi, guys!  Welcome and thank you for coming!” she greeted.

I immediately had a fan out moment.  I gushed and told her that Not Quite Narwhal is my favorite children’s book of all time.

Aww!  Thank you so much!” Jessie said.

She stopped setting up and posed for selfies, autographed my copy of Not Quite Narwhal that I snuck in and graciously accepted the copy of Priceless Penny that I handed to her.

Selfie time with Jessie Sima!

 

“This is for me?” she asked.  “Thank you so much!  I love it!”

Mom then returned with two copies of Sima’s newest book, Harriet Gets Carried Away.  Jessie happily autographed both books and then took the time to speak with my mother about her career as an elementary school teacher.

 

Love this autograph from Jessie!

 

I am beyond touched that Jessie liked Priceless Penny!

 

Jessie was beyond down to earth.  Speaking with her was like being with an old friend.  I am glad that she didn’t think my fanning out was too crazy.

The event was great fun.  Jessie read Not Quite Narwhal and Harriet Gets Carried Away aloud.  She then drew a narwhal for the children in attendance to color.  Jessie also answered any questions that the children (and their parents) had.

This was truly one of the best days of my life.  I hope that Jessie will come back to Missouri for future book releases.  To learn more about this amazing author/illustrator, visit her official website at:  jessiesima.com.

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Mercy Watson Princess in Disguise Book Review

In Mercy Watson Princess in Disguise by Kate DiCamillo, Mrs. Watson has a wonderful idea.  She wants Mercy to dress up and go trick-or-treating on Halloween.  Mr. Watson agrees and offers his opinions about what costume Mercy should wear.

That is when Mrs. Watson announces the Mercy will be a princess.  Mrs. Watson works tirelessly on creating the perfect princess dress.  There is just one problem.  Mercy is refusing to wear the costume.

Will Mercy’s stubbornness cause her to miss out on the fun of Halloween?  Can a pig really become a princess?

I absolutely love this book!  Halloween stories are my favorite and this one definitely delivers.  DiCamillo has created a cast of humorously quirky and memorable characters.  Mercy’s spunky spirit is can be seen in everything that she does.  Children will cheer Mercy on in her quest to become the first trick-or-treating pig.

Chris Van Dusen’s illustrations are fantastic.  The colors are vibrant and bold, which will certainly captivate young readers.  Each scene had me chuckling while Mercy got into more and more mischief.

This is a wonderful Halloween read for children ages 5-8.  I cannot wait to read more books in the Mercy Watson series.

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