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.




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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.



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White Fur Flying Book Review

White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan, introduces the reader to a young girl named Zoe.  Zoe’s family loves to rescue dogs.  Great Pyrenees dogs to be exact.  It seems that Mama always has new dogs coming in to be fostered.

Zoe’s Daddy is a veterinarian.  He loves caring for animals.  Even if it means bringing an abandoned, talkative bird home, temporarily of course.

One day, Zoe and her sister, Alice, notice new neighbors moving into the house down the road.  They soon discover that the woman’s name is Mrs. Croft and that she is caring for her nephew, Phillip.  The girls are thrilled to have a new playmate for the summer but there is one problem.  Phillip doesn’t talk.  An even bigger problem?  Mrs. Croft doesn’t like dogs.

During a terrible storm several days later, both Phillip and Jack (Mama’s newest foster dog) go missing.  Will Phillip break his silence to call for the help that he desperately needs?  Will Zoe be able to solve the mystery of their disappearance before it’s too late?  Can Mrs. Croft learn to love the animal that she fears most?

I absolutely love this book!  Being a former foster parent, I can totally relate to Mama’s struggle to place her foster dogs in forever homes.  I too, wanted to keep every dog that we fostered.  I love that this story sheds light on the importance of fostering as well as volunteer animal transporters.  I am a volunteer transporter with All American Dachshund Rescue.  Without the help of these incredible volunteers, many of these amazing dogs would still be stuck in the pound or worse, killed due to lack of space.

The characters in this story are rich and vibrant.  I love Alice’s no-holds-bar personality.  She says exactly what she feels and loves being the comedian.  Zoe is clever and very observant but is not as sure of herself as Alice.  The two make a fascinating pair.  Phillip’s character is very complex and always keeps the reader guessing.

This story beautifully highlights the special bond that dogs have with their humans.  Dogs seem to sense the way that humans are feeling long before the tears fall from our eyes or the cries of joy emit from our lips.  They seek only to make us happy and love us unconditionally.  This bond is truly priceless and deserves to be celebrated.

Overall, this is a fantastic read for animal lovers of all ages.  This book would also make a wonderful gift for the shelter/rescue worker/volunteer in your life.

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WriteOnCon 2018

As an aspiring picture book author, I am always looking for writing conferences to attend.  Improving my craft is very important to me.  I hope to author books that will truly change the way that people view and think about the world around them.

I discovered WriteOnCon while checking my Twitter feed.  Intrigued, I went to their website to learn more.  WriteOnCon is a three-day online children’s book conference for writers and illustrators of picture books, middle grade, young adult, as well as new adult.

I absolutely love online conferences!  I don’t have to worry about packing, travel arrangements or, (most importantly) leaving my fabulous fur babies.  I attended my first online conference, Picture Book Summit, in 2017 and was hooked.

As with all conferences,  there is a price for admission.  For all access to the conference, I paid $37.00.  That’s right!  Just $37.00!  The best part?  This included a manuscript critique by Clarissa Wong, Editor at Harper Collins Children’s Books.

The conference started bright and early on Friday, February 9th.  I had a stack of empty notebooks waiting to be filled with knowledge.  Extra pencils and a large eraser were positioned for easy access.  The clock struck 7:30 a.m. and the conference was on!

The day consisted of live events, (including a query critique session with an actual literary agent), recorded podcast interviews with industry experts, panel discussions with some of today’s best selling authors, and blog articles providing tips and tricks for honing the writing craft.

By the end of day one, I thought that my brain was going to explode.  I was learning so much from some of the best in the business.  The presenters were extremely nice and carefully considered each question that was asked.

I created a binder to keep all of my new knowledge organized!


Saturday and Sunday were just as epic.  One of my favorite events was a live workshop on picture book beat sheets.  Another was a live panel discussion with picture book authors.  I was beyond thrilled to see Marcie Colleen in attendance.  I definitely had a fan girl moment!

I loved the enthusiasm that the presenters exuded, especially Alexa Donne.  Everyone was happy to share their knowledge and personal experiences.  The literary agents, editors, and authors were down to earth.  It almost felt like having a conversation with my girlfriends.

I have to admit, I was sad when the conference concluded on Sunday evening.  I was exhausted but I wanted to keep learning.  One of my notebooks is now completely full.  A single pencil spent beyond sharpening.

I would highly recommend this conference to anyone who is interested in writing for the kid lit community.  WriteOnCon has certainly gained a new attendee for life!  I cannot wait to see what the 2019 conference has to offer.

To learn more about WriteOnCon, visit their website at:  www.writeoncon.org.

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The Nocturnals: The Moonlight Meeting Book Review

Tobin the pangolin awakens one evening to the smell of a sweet pomelo. Following the scent, he reaches the golden fruit and prepares to take a bite. The pangolin soon realizes that he is not alone.

A strange creature leaps down from the trees above claiming that Tobin is a thief. Feeling threatened, Tobin releases a smelly gas. The two begin to quarrel when the bushes suddenly start to rustle. Could the pair be in even bigger trouble than they thought?

I love this first installment in The Nocturnals Grow and Read Early Readers Program series. Tracey Hecht and Rumur Dowling’s characters are enchanting. I especially love how each character has his/her own distinct personality. I definitely felt a wide arrange of emotions while reading this story. My heart ached for poor Tobin. I laughed at Bismark and I could totally relate to Dawn’s serenity and wisdom.

Waymond Singleton’s illustrations are truly captivating. Each creature is beyond adorable and has his/her own specific facial expressions. While the story takes place at night, Singleton makes wonderful use of white space and does not make the illustrations too dark.

This is a wonderful read for children ages 5-9. They will fall in love with the kindly characters and the mysteriousness of a nighttime setting. I cannot wait to read the next book in The Nocturnals series.



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Don’t Forget Dexter! Book Review

Dexter T. Rexter is the coolest dinosaur around. He lives with his best friend, Jack. One day, the pair go to the doctor for a check-up.

Dexter was so into his coloring that he did not see Jack leave. He tries everything he can to get Jack to come back. Panic sets in as Dexter worries that he may be left at the doctor’s office forever!

What if Jack left Dexter behind on purpose? What if he is being replaced by other toys? Will Dexter spend the rest of his days alone?

I absolutely adore this book! I fell in love with Dexter on page one. I love how expressive his eyes and eyebrows are. I truly connected with the plot as well. When I was young, I had a stuffed bear named Curly that literally went everywhere with me. My heart would have broken if he had gone missing.

I think that showing the bond between a child and toy through the eyes of the toy is especially gripping. I was crying right along with Dexter. I believe that adult readers will also resonate with the theme of feeling forgotten.

Ward’s illustrations are simplistic yet powerful. Dexter is simply adorable! Not to mention that he is my favorite color, orange. I also love the subtle details such as Dexter’s tummy and claws looking like sheets of notebook paper that a child would draw on.

This is a fantastic book for readers of all ages. Children will love snuggling up with their favorite toy as they cheer Dexter on in his quest to find his best friend.



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Not Quite Narwhal Book Review

Kelp has always known that he is different from the other narwhals. His tusk is not as glorious as his friend’s. And he still has not mastered the art of swimming.

One day, a swift current carries Kelp far from home. He surfaces and sees an animal in the distance that looks just like him! Stepping onto land for the first time, Kelp begins his search for the magical creature.

He emerges from the forest to find a meadow filled with what must be land narwhals. Kelp is then informed that the creatures are actually unicorns and is told that he is one too! How will his underwater friends take this shocking news? Should Kelp remain on land with his unicorn kin forever?

This is one of my absolute favorite children’s picture books of all time! I love everything about the story. I can totally relate to Kelp and his feelings of being torn between two worlds. I think that everyone will be able to relate with Kelp and his journey to find out who (and what) he really is.

Sima’s illustrations are adorably fantastic! I fell in love with Kelp the moment I saw him in the clam shell. Sima is a master of facial expressions and I love the diverse color palette that she uses which can be seen throughout the book.

Readers of all ages will adore Kelp and cheer him on in his quest to find his true identity. This book is sure to become a children’s classic and will delight readers for years to come. I hope that Kelp will return to share more of his adventures with the world.


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