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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Owly and Wormy Bright Lights and Starry Nights! Book Review

Owly and Wormy Bright Lights and Starry Nights! is a stunning wordless picture book by author/illustrator Andy Runton. Owly and his friend Wormy cannot wait to use their telescope to see the stars. No matter how hard they try, they cannot seem to find anything in the night sky.

Owly decides that in order to see stars, they should go camping. The pair soon get stuck in a rain storm and must take cover in a spooky, dark cave. Strange noises are coming from the back of the cave and Wormy does not want to stick around to see who or what it could be.

Racing from the cave, Owly accidentally drops his telescope in the forest. Will he be able to recover it in time to show Wormy the stars? Have Owly and Wormy truly escaped the cave monster?

This is a stunning book from start to finish. Children will fall in love with Runton’s adorable characters. Instead of words, Runton makes use of speech bubbles that communicate Owly and Wormy’s thoughts. The story reads like a comic book which children will absolutely enjoy.

I highly recommend this book to readers of all ages. I cannot wait to read more of Owly and Wormy’s adventures.

 

Owly

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A Different Pond Book Review

A Different Pond by Bao Phi introduces the reader to a young, nameless boy. His father wakes him up early every Saturday to fish in a nearby pond. The boy loves getting to spend time with his father.

The pond has become like a second home to the boy. He has made many friends who also come to fish in the early morning. As the boy and his father fish, he learns about his homeland of Vietnam.

I found this to be a touching story with a focus on family. I love that the story is told from the little boy’s point of view. Also, I like the fact that the boy remains nameless. This could be the story of any young boy whose family has moved to the United States from Vietnam.

Additionally, I love how descriptive and beautiful Phi’s text is. With such lines as “…my dad’s English sounds like a thick, dirty river” to “…to me his English sounds like gentle rain.” I really get an in depth sense of the father’s character. His description of minnows as “…silver arrows” in another stunning line. Children will definitely be drawn to the exquisite language of the story.

Thi Bui’s illustrations are wonderful. Most of the story takes place during very early morning while it is still dark outside. The illustrations are saturated in deep, dark colors without being overly done or completely pitch back. I love how each illustration depicts multiple things going on at once.

Overall, this is a wonderful story about immigrants trying to create a new life for their families in the United States. Readers ages 4-8 will enjoy this book.

 

Pond

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Bulldozer Helps Out Book Review

In Bulldozer Helps Out by Candance Fleming, Bulldozer would give anything to help out on the construction site. Cement Mixer was stirring; Crane Truck was lifting. Even Digger Truck was scooping. What was Bulldozer doing? Watching.

He asked his fellow trucks what he could do to be part of the project. Dump Truck told him he was too little to help. The other trucks agreed that construction work is only for rough and tough trucks.

Feeling sorry for Bulldozer, Crane gives him a special task. He must clear away a pile of rubble and flatten out a new construction site. Will Bulldozer be able to prove that he has what it takes to get the job done?

I think this is a wonderful story that is full of action and heart. Children will definitely be able to relate to Bulldozer and his passion for helping others.

Additionally, Eric Rohmann’s illustrations are outstanding. Each character is large and vibrant and will certainly capture the reader’s attention. I also love the subtle details that provide clues as to what will happen next in the story.

This is a fantastic read for children ages 4-7.

 

Bulldozer

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Hubble Bubble: The Super-Spooky Fright Night Book Review

Hubble Bubble: The Super-Spooky Fright Night! by Tracey Corderoy is the first installment in the Hubble Bubble series and includes three stories. Pandora is a young witch who spends a lot of time with Granny Crow. Granny is also a witch and loves to use her magic to help. However, her spells do not always go as planned.

In The Super-Spooky Fright Night, Granny Crow and Granny Podmore are helping Pandora create a Halloween party to remember. Granny Podmore is prime and proper while Granny Crow is more free-spirited. Neither granny can agree on how the party should be run. Could Granny Crow’s magic be just what the party needs?

In Teddy Trouble, Granny Crow accompanies Pandora to her friend Nellie’s birthday party at Fluffy Friends. Everyone is having a wonderful time creating their own stuffed bears. But when it’s Pandora’s turn to get her bear stuffed, the machine stops working. Will she ever get to make her own fluffy friend?

In Granny Makes a Splash, Granny Crow assists Pandora’s class with their swimming lessons. While on their way to the pool, the bus gets a flat tire. Granny knows just what to do! A little magic is surly the answer, right? The shenanigans continue when the children reach the pool and discover that Granny’s magic may be running amok. Can Granny reign in the spells before it’s too late?

I absolutely love this book! I was surprised to see three wonderful stories in one amazing collection. Granny Crow’s character is reminiscent of the classic Amelia Bedelia. She also reminds me of bumbling Aunt Clara from one of my favorite television shows, Bewitched. Granny means well, but she has not yet mastered the art of magic.

I also love the names of the characters: Pandora, Granny Crow, Moonbeam (Pandora’s mother). Each name evokes a sense of magic and definitely makes me think of Halloween. The layout of the book is stunning and makes heavy use of the color orange (my favorite!). The words literally pop off of the page. Additionally, I love the intricate details that can be seen throughout the book, such as the tiny spider that hides on every other page corner. This would be a great opportunity for a counting game to see how many spiders the reader can find.

Joe Berger’s illustrations are outstanding. From the spiders on Pandora’s dress to the orange flower earrings that Granny Crow wears, these subtle details make all the difference. Some pages are even illustrated with a black background and white text that add to the spookiness of the illustrations and story.

This is a fantastic read for magic lovers of all ages. Children will laugh at Granny Crow and all of her magical mishaps. I cannot wait to read more from this wonderful series.

 

Bubble

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Ella and Owen The Evil Pumpkin Pie Fight Book Review

Ella and Owen The Evil Pumpkin Pie Fight by Jaden Kent follows twin dragons Ella and Owen on an adventure of spooky proportions. The dragons tricked two sneaky trolls out of treasure and are now stuck in Terror Swamp. Running for their lives, the pair unknowingly enter the home of the great Pumpkin King.

The king captures the twins and refuses to release them unless they defeat the evil witch who has stolen his body. Accepting the challenge, Ella and Owen head deeper into Terror Swamp. Ghosts, ghouls and goblins await at every turn.

Will Ella and Owen be able to conquer the clever witch and maintain their freedom? Will they ever get back to Dragon Patch?

While I love Halloween stories, this book didn’t quite deliver. I felt that Ella and Owen’s characters were poorly developed. Neither one had his/her own characteristics that made him/her unique. The content of the story mostly consisted of the twins arguing. I would have liked to have seen more character development in addition to the twins actually working together to regain their freedom.

I also found the other characters to be a bit flat. I would have loved for the characters to have more original names than “Pumpkin King” and “Rainbow Sparkles.” It appears that Kent was attempting to be humorous, but I feel that the story doesn’t hit the mark.

The plot was not very gripping nor spooky. I feel that the story comes to a conclusion quickly with very haphazard resolutions to all of the characters’ issues. What I like the least about this book is the fact that it ends on a cliffhanger. I purchased the book because I love Halloween stories, however, this is apparently the fourth book in the series and you cannot read them out of order.

Since I have not read any of the other books, I have no idea how the twins came to leave Dragon Patch and become stuck in Terror Swamp. The ending of this story forces the reader to buy subsequent books to find the true conclusion to the story. I feel that this is a poor way to write a series. If the books need to be read in chronological order, the book cover or the introductory page should state this so that new readers to the series are not caught off guard.

I did enjoy Iryna Bodnaruk’s comical illustrations. Ella and Owen and their ghastly new friends are humerously drawn with fine detail. I also loved the comic book style vignettes featured on several pages.

Overall, this is a lighthearted read that is suitable for children ages 6-9.

 

Ella

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Here’s Hank: A Short Tale About a Long Dog Book Review

Here’s Hank: A Short Tale About a Long Dog by Henry Winkler sets Hank on his most important mission yet: to get a dog of his own. He knows that his grades are not the best, but he is willing to do whatever it takes to make his dog dreams a reality.

Entering into a deal with his dad, Hank must improve all of his grades in order to earn a trip to the animal shelter. He is definitely up for the challenge! From studying to creating interactive book reports, Hank is determined to make his grades soar.

When his latest report card falls short, Hank fears that he will never be able to adopt a furry friend. Can he prove to his father that he is responsible enough to handle the challenges of owning a pet? Will he be able to raise his grades and sharpen his focus?

I love this story! I was surprised to discover that the book is written in a font called Dyslexie. This font was created specifically for dyslexic readers by a Dutch graphic designer, Christian Boer, who himself is dyslexic. I found the font very easy to read. I feel that it compliments the story well and looks like a font that a child would have created. This discrete font change will also help dyslexic children read with confidence.

I also found the character of Hank to be charming and hilarious. He mentions to the reader numerous times that he has trouble focusing. I feel like many children (as well as adults) will be able to relate to Hank and his focusing issues. I especially feel that children with ADD and ADHD will gravitate toward Hank and cheer him on in his quest for good grades.

This story also touches my heart because it sheds light on the importance of adopting animals from local shelters. All of my dogs and cats are rescues that have come from various rescue groups and animal shelters. One of my dogs is also Dachshund, so I can definitely relate to Hank’s heart-melting moment the day he met Cheerio.

Overall, this is a wonderful read for animal lovers of all ages. I would highly recommend gifting this book to any child who is in the process of adopting a dog.

 

Hank

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