Monday, September 21, 2020

#BookReview - Big Wishes for Little Feat

 



Big Wishes for Little Feat

By: Cheryl Olsten
Illustrated by: Paolo d'Altan
Publication Date: October 2020
ISBN: 978-1733955102
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: September 2020

Debut author Cheryl Olsten has penned a magical book about a little girl, a very special horse, and an adventure that will have every child who reads the story looking to the stars.

Lafitte De Muze is a little horse with big dreams. He was born on a beautiful horse farm in Belgium and while he had a happy upbringing, he was smaller than the other foals and had to work twice as hard to keep up. But with encouragement from his mother and father, he kept trying and never gave up. He hoped to one day find his perfect rider, and the best way to do that, he thought, was to grow big, fast, and strong.

When Lafitte was four years old, it was time to go to the annual horse sale where the horses expected to find their perfect new owners. Sadly, while all the other horses did find new owners, Lafitte wasn't purchased. He was too small. Would he ever find that perfect person to love him?

Meanwhile, far, far away, lived a little girl named Ella. She loved to look at the stars and study the constellations with her dad. But when her parents fell on hard times, she was sent to live with her aunt in Belgium. Ella's Aunt Anastasia was kind, and loving, but Ella was homesick. While Anastasia's passion was gardening, she did once, long ago, spend some time riding horses. Perhaps horses would help Ella...a trip to the nearby stable begins an adventure that both Ella and Lafitte will never forget.

Big Wishes for Little Feat is a lovely story about a little girl's dreams coming true. The story is based in the "real world" but has a slight magical twist, just enough to make young readers believe in the magic. The special bond that Ella and Lafitte develop is wonderful and while Lafitte thought he was too small, he learned that he was the perfect size for young Ella. What a great message. And as the story continues, Ella, along with readers, learn that "Sometimes wishes do come true." At over 40 pages of text, the story would be a bit too long for very young readers, but would be perfect for readers in the 7 to 8 (and a bit older) range. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous and really add a dreamy feel to the whole story. Any child who loves horses will certainly adore this story as will any child that loves to dream.

Quill says: From the story, to the message it conveys, and the beautiful artwork, Big Wishes for Little Feat is a wonderful book that should be added to your child's bookshelf!

For more information on Big Wishes for Little Feat, please visit the author's website at: cherylolsten.com

 

Saturday, September 12, 2020

#BookReview - Limerick Comics


Limerick Comics

By: Robert Hoyman
Illustrated by: Steve Feldman
Publisher: Pony Express Publications
Publication Date: March 2019
ISBN: 978-1732818606
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: September 10, 2020

Debut author Robert Hoyman has hit the proverbial ball out of the park with his first book, Limerick Comics.

Limerick Comics is an absolutely unique blend of a comic-style format (and illustrations!) and catchy limericks that tell short and witty tales. Kids love comics so the format is a natural draw for them, and while not all children are drawn to poetry, limericks offer a lighthearted introduction to the genre through short and goofy rhymes. Combine the two and kids who are averse to poetry won't even realize they're falling in love with the genre. Now add in fantastic illustrations, in the comic format (kudos to Steve Feldman, the illustrator), and this book is certain to be a hit with readers age 8 and up.

The book follows the standard format of limericks which is a stanza of five lines, with one limerick/tale per page. Every page has six blocks, five of which are for a portion of the limerick and an illustration. Below that is a block of text that explains the science, or history, behind the topic.

One of the most interesting aspects of this book is that the topics are so varied. Limerick Comics tackles science, history, and even some general knowledge topics (food fight anyone?) so there's sure to be something for everyone. First you're reading about jesters in the Middle Ages, and then, turn the page...and you're reading about slugs:

A popular slug known as Saul,
Staged marathon climbs up the wall.
He didn't win races,
Though charming and gracious,
Encouraged and favored by all.

This is followed by the block of text which gives all sorts of information on slugs. I admit that I didn't know slugs have green blood and only one lung. Move on to the next page where you'll learn about the first person to perform the flying trapeze act, Jules Leotard. Does that last name sound familiar? Yes, the tight-fitting leotard outfits that trapeze artists wear were named after him. I admit that I learned something on almost every page. Some of the other topics covered in this fantastically fun book are the pony express, ants, food fights, cavemen, cement, blobfish, clowns and chimpanzees. Yes, the topics are that varied. Finally, on the last page is a glossary of terms that readers may not be familiar with.

When I was first given this book to review, I was a bit hesitant as I thought it might be difficult to write a review about limericks. But then I started to explore the book and fall in love with every page. It's that good. The author has done a great job of creating funny limericks that follow the five-line rhyme format in which the first, second and fifth lines rhyme, and the third and fourth lines rhyme. Nothing is forced; they all flow freely. As mentioned above, the illustrations are a perfect fit for this book - bright, somewhat silly, and with a comic-style appeal. The "factoid" section of each page isn't just a few lines of related text but instead gives useful information. In fact, they can certainly be used as a starting point for doing research on any of the topics in the book. In short, Limerick Comics is a perfect book for engaging kids and getting them to learn in a creative and enjoyable way.

Quill says: Limerick Comics is such a fun, and surprisingly informative book! You really need to add this one to your child's reading list and while you're at it, read it yourself - it's so much fun you don't want to miss it!

For more information on Limerick Comics, please visit the book's website at: www.limerickcomics.com

 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

#BookReview - Henry's New Glasses


Henry's New Glasses

By: Katie Specht
Illustrated by: Creative Illustrations Studio
Publication Date: August 2020
ISBN: 978-8666850596
Reviewed by: Holly Connors
Review Date: September 9, 2020

Getting your first pair of glasses can be quite scary for any child. Recognizing this common fear, author Katie Specht set out to help ease the anxiety with her charming new book, Henry's New Glasses.

Henry is a young man who loves doing puzzles, they're fun and challenge his creativity. As the story opens, Henry is working on an awesome puzzle that has lots of brightly-marked fish, as well as sharks and jellyfish swimming about. Henry has done the puzzle before and enjoyed watching the picture come to life, but today is different. Today he can't seem to get the pieces to come together. As he struggles with the puzzle, he asks his dad, "...why do these pieces not fit together today?" Henry's dad realizes that his son may need glasses and it's time for a trip to the eye doctor.

Henry's father sits down next to Henry and does his best to allay his son's fears about getting glasses. However, Henry isn't convinced that a trip to the doctor is a good thing. After his dad explains what the doctor will do, Henry agrees to go, but he's still nervous about the visit.

The day of Henry's eye doctor appointment arrives and off he goes with his dad to the doctor's office. There he sees all sorts of cool equipment. Trying his best to hide his nervousness, he soon becomes excited to see how all that neat equipment works. After Henry's appointment, it's time to get his glasses, and then go to school. But nobody in Henry's class wears glasses so what will happen when the young man shows up with his new, gray-framed glasses?

Henry's New Glasses is a sweet story about an issue that many youngsters are faced with - glasses. The author handles the fears that come with new glasses - will they help, what happens at the doctor's, will my friends make fun of me - with the understanding of someone who has guided her own child through the process. Watching Henry go to the doctor's office, and following along as he looks through lenses, and read letters from a chart, will help alleviate fears of children who don't know what to expect. And the author manages to slip in little things that kids will love, such as discovering that the chair Henry sits in goes up and down. There's a minor issue with the editing of dialogue (dialogue between Henry and his dad all in one paragraph), but it's not anything that would keep children from enjoying the story. Henry's New Glasses is a perfect story for parents to share with their children who need to start wearing glasses.

Quill says: A delightful story that will likely help ease youngsters fears about getting glasses.

 

#BookReview - Sing Some More!


Sing Some More!

By: Deborah Diesen
Illustrated by: Howard Gray
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: August 2020
ISBN: 978-1534110526
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: September 9, 2020

The sweet songs of birds - who doesn't enjoy the music of our feathered friends? In Sing Some More!, author Deborah Diesen takes the harmonies of birds to a whole new level.

Four adorable, and very energetic birds are the central characters in this charming children's story. All very different - a cardinal, a bluejay, a robin, and a sparrow - they share a common love, the love of singing. As soon as the sun comes up, these four friends start up with a song, and they go all day long!

We begin our day ahead of dawn
Before a hint of light.
As the sun begins to show itself
We sing with all our might.

As the morning turns into afternoon, the bird friends are still quite busy singing their songs. They perch on a tree branch directly above a family enjoying a picnic. As they sing, the squirrels that were in the tree scuttle down the trunk and dash through the picnic festivities. Havoc ensues but the birds continue their song.

Sing Some More! is a fantastic book that will appeal to all animal lovers. As a bird lover myself (I have several very tame pet birds, one of whom is singing to me while I write this), I grabbed this book from the review stack as soon as I saw it. The rhyming story flows well and the illustrations of the four feathered friends are fabulous. Kudos to both the author and illustrator for creating a delightful book that will no doubt find its way onto many favorite bedtime story lists.

Quill says: Sing Some More! is a high-energy, silly, and fun book with gorgeous illustrations that will put a smile on every bird lover's face who is lucky enough to get their hands on a copy of this book.

 

#BookReview - Raccoon's Perfect Snowman


Raccoon's Perfect Snowman

Written and Illustrated by: Katia Wish
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: August 2020
ISBN: 978-1534110670
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: September 9, 2020

What will happen when one very determined raccoon wants to make the perfect snowman and decides to share his techniques with his friends but forgets to share his tools and supplies?

Raccoon loves winter! And the best part of winter? Making snowmen! Raccoon knows that making snowmen isn't a simple process. He designs, and plans, and gets just the right tools to get the job done. He spends the whole winter practicing and finally he's ready to make the perfect snowman. Raccoon's friends are watching and so he decides to invite them to make their own snowmen, under his guidance, of course.

Raccoon instructs his friends as they work. "Only use clean snow," he tells Rabbit, but poor Rabbit has no choice but to use dirty snow because all the good, clean snow was used by Raccoon. "Make the snowman perfectly level," he tells Fox, but Raccoon is so busy using his tools that he forgets to share them with Fox. Poor Fox winds up with a rather lop-sided snowman.

When all the snowmen are completed, Raccoon has created a snowman that is beyond compare. But is it perfect? When he looks at his friends' snowmen, he sees three rather dirty, lop-sided, and goofy-looking snowmen. It's then that Raccoon realizes he was so busy making his own snowman, that he forgot to share his tools and supplies with his friends. Will they be able to work together to create a perfect snowman?

Raccoon's Perfect Snowman is a fun story that teaches an important lesson in a very subtle way. By watching Raccoon's process of making a snowman, and seeing what happens because he's so busy with his own snowman that he forgets about helping his friends, children will see the outcome of not sharing. The story isn't preachy but rather simply tells a fun story. And the outcome of their efforts when they all work together is delightful (and a bit goofy too which children will love). Wrapped up with the lovely illustrations created by the author, this is a cool winter story that will warm the heart.

Quill says: Raccoon's Perfect Snowman is a sweet story that very cleverly wraps a lesson about sharing into the exploits of a raccoon and his friends.

 

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

#BookReview - American Brush-Off


American Brush-Off

By: Max Willi Fischer
Publication Date: January 2020
AISN: B084C377TP
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: September 1, 2020

Readers, in this book the author has given me two things I absolutely treasure: Great characters who I want to see end up happy; and, the backdrop of WWII. Enough said? Of course not. I know all of you aren’t like me. (You silly people, you.)

Lud Mueller is one of those uber-popular senior high school students who are chosen to be in at least 75% of the pictures in any yearbook. Great in sports, nice to look at, and even has a “true love” that’s just about the best marrying material you can possibly find. In other words, Lud is the epitome of ‘All-American.’

Now, Lud’s parents emigrated from Germany. They are also about to be utilized in a government war strategy in this year of 1942. Lud is seventeen-years-old with his whole future ahead of him. Suddenly, however, the world begins to turn and Lud is suddenly surrounded by the worst aspects of humanity one can find (and can still find, unfortunately). Lies and gossip stand where due process and the law once held office; everyone hates everyone and innuendo is what people use to base the bigotry and needless violence on that crops up across the nation. This is most assuredly not what Lud thought his next step in life would entail.

Even Lud, himself, has turned in the eyes of his hometown. Simply because of the generations of his family that came before, Lud has transformed from a great guy into a “dangerous enemy alien” in the eyes of his friends and neighbors. Now, exceling on a sports field just doesn’t matter anymore. What Lud will have to do is use that brain of his to get out of the situation the world’s mindset has placed him in.

Thrown and interned in the desert of Texas, those annoying, frustrating Nazi fans want to make Lud and his family absolutely miserable. Lud even opens his heart in the Lone Star State to someone and ends up having it all come crashing down because of government influence. When Hitler is finally trounced and America is considered one of the heroes who’ll make life good again, Lud should see a new path to walk down when it comes to his future, career, and restoring his broken heart. Unfortunately, just because Lud has a new outlook on life doesn’t mean the government shares that same sentiment.

Remember, this is not a new ‘occurrence’ in our government...the higher-ups separating loved ones just to then ‘brush the incident’ under a carpet and forget all about it. Not only is this powerful book based on the very real-life internment of thousands of absolutely legal German aliens and German-Americans during WWII, but it’s also written by a gentleman whose own parents emigrated to America after Hitler was shown to be exactly what he was—a natural-born loser.

The story kept me enthralled through the entirety of the book. There was a point where I was deeply saddened (but won't give away the plot point), and I was rooting through this whole thing to see Lud gain the strength and wit he needed to overcome what the government and others were unfairly doing to his family. I do have to say one of the greatest moments I’ve experienced in a book in a long time came about when Lud set his eyes on a very great icon—a perfect greeter for those who wanted nothing more than to live in this amazing country. At this moment, Lud was truly emotional, and it’s a given that any reader’s heart will be struck by the compelling, brutal, and riveting moments this book possesses throughout.

Quill says: A striking read making you a bit frustrated that time has moved forward, yet games are still being played.

For more information on American Brush-Off, please visit the author's website at: maxwilli.weebly.com

 

#BookReview - Letters From My Tooth Fairy


Letters From My Tooth Fairy

By: Brooke Hecker
Illustrated by: Deborah Melmon
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Publication Date: August 2020
ISBN: 978-1534110557
Reviewed by: Gina Montanha
Review Date: August 25, 2020

What happens when a six year old little girl loses her first tooth? She gets a surprising new pen pal of course...her Tooth Fairy! This adorable exchange of letters spans the 6 years of a growing little girl named Natalie, and is quite a clever mix of a dreamy fairy tale and a series of real life scenarios. 

From Tooth 1 to Tooth 20, Natalie’s spirited little Tooth Fairy leaves the most creative notes and Natalie often responds with questions like “There will be a blizzard. Will you still be able to get here?” and, “What would happen if I swallowed my tooth?” The six year journey is a roller-coaster of tears and joys, with tales of a tooth knocked out at recess to the birth of Natalie’s baby sister. They share many milestones together and the Tooth Fairy cunningly weaves life lessons into each of her thoughtful notes, like when a frightened Natalie learns she needs braces and is told “I won’t lie to you-braces are annoying. It will be worth it though, when you get that million-dollar smile at the end.”

I think this is a great book for children who are losing teeth, especially if they are apprehensive or a little scared. The author addresses so many things that can arise and the Tooth Fairy gives tons of practical advice! But my favorite part of the book are the illustrations by Deborah Melmon! And not just the flighty fairy and the awkward little girl with all the missing teeth...but each page displays a drawing of teeth, laid out in the shape of a wide open mouth, and specifically names each tooth that is lost: from “Bottom Central Incisor 1” to “Top Second Primary Molars A and B.” It’s ingenious and sneaks in a bit of education with a whole lot of fun!

Quill says: Letters From My Tooth Fairy is flighty and fun and will even teach you a thing or two about teeth and the human body.