Saturday, May 7, 2016

Bedtime Story: Graphic Novel Review of Goodnight Darth Vader by Jeffrey Brown

Synopsis: "Episode: Bedtime. Darth Vader's parenting skills are tested as young Luke and Leia won't go to sleep. Can he calm them by reading a story featuring, Han Solo, Yoda, Boba Fett, and others as they each settle down for the night?"

My Review: This is a fun book to have in any Star Wars fan library, especially those with stubborn children. I had a lot of fun with the way the various characters were written into this book and the art was fun. I will say though this isn't a great story to read to young children at bedtime, I never realized how grotesque and terrifying many of the characters could be until I had a child who suffers from horrible nightmares!
My Rating: While this doesn't work great for my Munchkin, it is still a fun one for Star Wars fans. I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Graphic Novel Review of Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan

Synopsis: "Sheila Keenan's captivating stories, paired with Nathan Fox's stunning art, bring the heroic military actions of man's best friend to life!

Some war heroes heard the wind whistling over a hidden trip wire.
Some war heroes sniffed out a sniper 1,000 yards away.
Some war heroes stood tall . . . on four legs!

DOGS OF WAR is a graphic novel that tells the stories of the canine military heroes of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. This collection of three fictional stories was inspired by historic battles and real military practice. Each story tells the remarkable adventures of a soldier and his service dog and is rendered with fascinating and beautiful detail, bringing to life the faithful dogs who braved bombs, barrages, and battles to save the lives of countless soldiers.

Based on the real-life roles of military dogs that served as Red Cross rescuers, messengers, scouts, search-and-rescue teams, sentries, and mascots, DOGS OF WAR captures both the adventure and the devastation brought on by war, as well as the celebrations of life and friendship between boys and their dogs."

My Review: This is a great graphic novel, probably one of the best I have picked up so far this year. I loved that it appeals to many ages, genders and interests alike. It contains 3 stories of dogs and handlers who have served in WWI, WWII and Vietnam. They are stories of courage and devotion as well as duty, and they aren't really along the lines of stories you have heard on the news or through main stream stories. I highly recommend this book!
My Rating: This was a fantastic graphic novel that again appeals to a wide variety of audiences, male/female, young/old. They are also stories that are based on real life stories and ones I had never heard of before.  All around fantastic, this one gets Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Graphic Novel Review of Apollo: The Brilliant One by George O'Connor

Synopsis: "From high atop Olympus, the nine Muses, or Mousai, recount the story of the powerful and quick-tempered Apollo, the Brilliant One. Born of a she-wolf and Zeus, King of Gods, Apollo is destined fro the greatest of victories and most devastating of failures as his temper, privilege, and pride take him into battle with a serpent, in pursuit of a beautiful but unattainable nymph, and into deadly competition with his beloved. Watch closely as Apollo navigates the tumultuous world in which he lives. Will he rise above the rest and fulfill his destiny as the son of Zeus, or will he falter, consumed by his flaws, and destroy all that he touches?"

My Review: Another good installment to the Olympians series of graphic novels. I am really enjoying this series. While this wasn't my favorite of them, it is still well written with great artwork. I think it is mostly that I have never been a fan of Apollo. I like that it is told by the Muses in a series of short stories highlighting the more famous myths about Apollo. Of course I think the reference information at the end is the best part of these books, it breaks down the main characters of the stories in a way for younger readers to understand, these would really be useful to those kids struggling through a mythology semester in school, draw their interests into the subject.
My Rating: This wasn't my favorite of the series but still great. I love how this series can appeal to a wide range of audiences and introduce (or expand on a love for) mythology.  I give this one a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Bedtime Story: If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff

Synopsis: "If you give a dog a donut, he’ll ask for some apple juice to go with it.

When you give him the juice, he’ll drink it all up.

Then, before you can say “Woof” . . . Dog is off on a backyard adventure!

The exuberant dog who first appeared in if you give a pig a party is now the star of his very own book. Written in the irresistible “If You Give…” tradition, if you give a dog a donut is another home run from the beloved team of Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond."

My Review: This is the first time I have read another If You Give a . . . book, other than the classic If You Give a Mouse A Cookie. It had the same style illustrations, and the same fun storyline that kids will find so entertaining and will ask you to read again and again.
My Rating: This is very similar to If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, almost to the point of being repetitive but it is still so fun to read and entertaining for kids.  I give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Review of Gone Fishing by Tamera Will Wissinger

Synopsis: "Using a wide variety of poetic forms – quatrains, ballads, iambic meter, rhyming lists, concrete poetry, tercets and free verse –this debut author tells the story of a nine-year-old boy’s day of fishing. Sibling rivalry, the bond between father and son, the excitement – and difficulty -- of fishing all add up to a day of adventure any child would want to experience.

Matthew Cordell illuminates this novel-in-verse throughout with his energetic black-and-white line drawings.

While each poem can be read and enjoyed on its own, the poems work together to create a story arc with conflict, crisis, resolution and character growth.

The back matter of this book equips the reader with a Poet's Tackle Box of tools and definitions for understanding the various poetic forms the author uses in this story."

My Review: I picked this book up completely on a whim, and was so surprised at the gem I found. It is a book full of simple poems that display the wide variety that can be used in poetry. Not only does it have that but it is also a cohesive story too, and with a wonderful message about families and making memories. It didn't stop there either, there was a whole glossary type section in the back breaking down the types of poetry and their rules, as well as terms, rhymes, etc. This book was really a wealth of information and entertainment, I really hope I can find more like it!
My Rating: This is such a great way to introduce more poetry to young readers.  Not only is it entertaining to read but it also gives so much additional information and resources in the back of the book.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Beginning Reader Review of Zeg and the Egg

Synopsis: "Can Nickelodeon's Blaze and the Monster Machines return a giant egg to its nest before it hatches? This leveled reader is perfect for kids ages 4 to 6. Leveled readers feature big type and easy words. Rhymes and rhythmic text paired with picture clues help children decode the story. For children who know the alphabet and are eager to begin reading. This Nickelodeon Read-Along contains audio narration."

My Review: I downloaded this on my Nook for Munchkin, I love the fact that not only are there Blaze books but also read to me books. This is a great level one book, it has familiar and interesting characters, simple words and sentences. While Munchkin is listening to the book being read to him, he is also looking at the page, it will help familiarize him with the words written there. Munchkin of course went nuts for this book and wants to use the nook all the time now.
My Rating: I love that Munchkin can now use my Nook for these books, it has 3 options, read to me, read with me or read on my own so kids can begin developing confidence with the same book.  Munchkin was over the moon with this book as Blaze and the Monster Machines is one of his favorite shows.  We give this book a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Bedtime Story: A Big Guy Took My Ball by Mo Willems

Synopsis: "Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.
Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.
Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.

Gerald and Piggie are best friends.

In A Big Guy Took My Ball! Piggie is devastated when a big guy takes her ball! Gerald is big, too...but is he big enough to help his best friend?"

My Review: I know that Mo Willems has been all the rage with kids and parents for a while now, but this was the first book Munchkin and I have read. It was an instant favorite, I can't tell you how many times I have read it over the past 3 days! It is a fun and simple book to read (and great if you can do different voices) but it has some great messages about taking things that aren't yours and judging other people for their looks and sizes. It also sparks great conversations with kids (I had no idea some of the kids a preschool wouldn't play with Munchkin because he is still a little uncoordinated and can't always keep up with them). It is a great book that if fun for everyone while reading.
My Rating: I really can't believe it took us so long to read this book and get into this series.  Munchkin loved it so much and I will definitely be getting more of these books! We give it a rating of Four Paws and Stump Wag!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Series Review of Beasts of Olympus Books 1-4 by Lucy Coats

I have been trying to figure out a way to share all these books I read with you but still include other non-review posts on the blog.  One method I have come up with was to share the reviews for an entire series (or pair) of books in one post.  I will do my absolute best to keep spoilers out of these posts in case you plan to read the books, but there is a slight chance that even the synopsis of a book can give away the result of the previous book. So if you don't want to know anything at all about the later books in a series that might giveaway something in the first book STOP READING NOW!
Synopsis: "Beasts of Olympus is a series of 144-page illustrated chapter books set in a magical Ancient Greece where strange things still walk the Earth. Beast Keeper tells the story of Pandemonius (a.k.a. "Demon," the half-god son of Pan) who, on his tenth birthday, is called upon to look after all the mythical creatures that belong to the stables of Olympus."

My Review: This was a fun kick off too this series. It reminds me of the MG Series Goddess Girls but geared more toward boy readers. There are hints to the myths but it isn't a direct retelling, it is more behind the scenes. It might be a little bit of a slow read and not as much excitement is some readers might prefer but it is perfect for slower readers. The hints of humor is also perfect for the target audience too. All in all a fun book to draw you into the series.

My Rating: This was a fun and quick read, Demon is a quirky character that has quite an adventure that I think many readers will enjoy.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.
Synopsis: "An exciting new illustrated chapter book series set in a magical ancient Greece filled with heroic adventures, gods and goddesses, mythical beasts, and plenty of humor.

Pandemonious is summoned by the great god Hades to the Underworld. His most-hated hero, Heracles, has just returned Cerberus the three-headed dog Guardian of the Underworld to his god master—but something is wrong with the beast and only Pandemonious can help."

My Review: This series continues with an new problem to solve, this time in the Underworld. There is plenty of excitement and adventure in this book to keep those young readers involved and coming back for more. We meet more of the gods and mythical creatures in this book keeping things interesting, some of the regulars in the stables are also gaining more personality and becoming full characters in the book.
My Rating: I didn't enjoy this one quite as much, I think mainly because Hades is one of my favorite gods and he isn't presented really well in this story.  I still give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
Synopsis: "Which mythical horse will win the race?

Beasts of Olympus is a series of illustrated chapter books set in a magical Ancient Greece where strange things still walk the Earth. In Steeds of the Gods, Demon, the official Olympian beast keeper, is caught between Helios and Poseidon, who are planning a race to see which of their steeds is the fastest. Both vengeful gods have requested Demon’s help, but he can choose only one."

My Review: The series is advancing nicely, you are really getting to know Demon, the mythical creatures he has to take care of and also many of the gods and goddesses of the myths. This book also adds in a moral dilemma Demon must face, and is possibly relatable in some way to the target audience. It continues to be entertaining and the bits of excitement will keep young readers engaged and ready for the next book.
My Rating: The steeds in this story aren't the ones you would expect but it I really like how this book continues to build up story lines, problems to solve, moral dilemmas and characters. Kids will be learning without even knowing they are.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.
Synopsis: "Demon’s abilities are put to the test!

Beasts of Olympus is a series of illustrated chapter books set in a magical Ancient Greece where strange things still walk the Earth. In the fourth book, Demon must heal Ares’s smelly dragon in time for battle. Can he heal this sick beast before Olympus chokes on the stink?"

My Review: I really love the way this series adds more to each book, before it was a moral dilemma now it is more problem solving. This particular book will definitely appeal to young boy readers, they will get a real kick out of Demon's stinky new patient. I will continue to purchase these books for the future when Munchkin can enjoy them as well.
My Rating: Another really fun book in this series, it is building even more problem solving for both Demon and the readers.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws.
Series Review: This is only a review of these four books that I have read, and they are all that have been released in this series so far (I believe there are 2 more coming in the next year or so).  I think this is a great Middle Grade series, it starts off pretty easy and builds on the difficulty as the series progresses.  I do think it may appeal more to boys but can easily be enjoyed by girls as well. It is also a great introduction to mythology without recreating the traditional stories or using the gods and goddesses. I think that a lot of young readers will be captured by this series and keep coming back for more.  I give the series a rating of Four Paws as a whole and look forward to when more books are released!

Beginning Reader Review of Pit Crew Pups

Synopsis: "The puppies from Nickelodeon’s PAW Patrol are all revved up for the Adventure Bay car race. Boys and girls ages 3 to 7 will love this Step 2 Step into Reading leveled reader. Step 2 Readers use basic vocabulary and short sentences to tell simple stories. For children who recognize familiar words and can sound out new words with help."

My Review: This is a good level two beginning reader. The familiar and much loved characters will draw even the most reluctant readers in. I do feel like this one could have been a little more complex, the sentences and words are all still very simple, almost along the lines of a level one books I have seen. With that said Munchkin is excited to read it and is picking out words so it is still encouraging reading.
My Rating: With such a huge following with the young kids, Paw Patrol made a perfect way to encourage them to read books too.  I give this book a rating of Four Paws.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bedtime Story: A New Hope - Read Along

Synopsis: "Experience Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope like never before! Fully illustrated with gorgeous images by Star Wars artist Brian Rood, this epic storybook also includes a CD with word-for-word narration, music, and character voices. Follow along as Luke Skywalker meets Obi-Wan Kenobi, rescues Princess Leia, and faces Darth Vader for the first time. "

My Review: I picked this book up to introduce my love for Star Wars to Munchkin, some of the other books I have picked up were good but not as perfect as this book. I love that it includes and audio CD to go with it, not only does it narrate the story with voices but it also includes great sound effects. The book also does a great job of condensing A New Hope without loosing any of the storyline. Munchkin really enjoyed it and now we have to pick up the rest of the books with audio CDs.
My Rating: I know the movies would be far too intense for Munchkin's young age but I still want to share this love with him and this book was perfect.  I give it a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams! And May the Fourth be with You!

Review of Jedi Academy by Jeffery Brown

Synopsis: "New York Times bestselling author/illustrator Jeffrey Brown takes readers to a middle school in a galaxy far, far away...

This incredible, original story captures all of the humor, awkwardness, fun, and frustrations of middle school--all told through one boy's comics, journal entries, letters, doodles, and newspaper clippings. The setting? A galaxy far, far away...

Roan's one dream is to leave home and attend Pilot Academy like his older brother, father, and grandfather. But just as Roan is mysteriously denied entrance to Pilot School, he is invited to attend Jedi Academy--a school that he didn't apply to and only recruits children when they are just a few years old. That is, until now...

This inventive novel follows Roan's first year at Jedi Academy where, under the tutelage of Master Yoda, he learns that he possesses more strength and potential than he could have ever dreamed. Oh, and he learns other important things too--like how to make a baking soda volcano, fence with a lightsaber, slow dance with a girl, and lift boulders with the Force."

My Review: This was really a fun book to read and would be perfect for fans of Star Wars, and those reluctant to read. It is great how the format incorporates illustrations into the book, though the handwriting font is a little distracting to read. The story also is very relatable to young readers, especially those who may be attending a new school. It was even entertaining as an adult reader, I will be getting the rest of this series for both me and Munchkin.
My Rating: As you know I am a big fan of Star Wars and if I can get my Munchkin into it at an early age, all the better. This was a great way to bring Star Wars into reading with out being exactly like the movies/books. I give it a rating of Four Paws!
May the Fourth be with You!

Beginning Reader Review of Ewoks Join the Fight

Synopsis: "Luke, Han, and Princess Leia make unlikely friends with the furry Ewoks of Endor. This level 1 early reader retells classic scenes from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi as the Ewoks join the rebellion against the evil Galactic Empire. Featuring beautiful full-color illustrations, this World of Reading book is perfect for little Star Wars fans who are ready to read on their own."

My Review: This is a good level one reader, for those fans of Star Wars. It would be good to already be familiar with the characters and terms connected with Star Wars or a young reader could become discouraged with some of the unusual words in this book. It does stick to the basic storyline of the Ewoks and their involvement in the Star Wars Saga. This would be a great way to encourage a reluctant reader who is a fan of the movies or video games to start reading.
My Rating: Young readers will definitely need their parent's help with this one due to the Star Wars terms.  I still give it a rating of Three Paws and a Stump Wag.
May the Fourth be with you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Bedtime Story: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

Synopsis: "You thought you knew the story of the “The Three Little Pigs”… You thought wrong.

In this hysterical and clever fracture fairy tale picture book that twists point of view and perspective, young readers will finally hear the other side of the story of “The Three Little Pigs."

My Review: I had been to a book convention where Jon Scieszka gave a talk and he mentioned this book, I knew I had to get it. It is a fun take on the classic story of the Three Little Pigs. I decided to read it because some of the kids were acting it out at Munchkin's preschool and he started having nightmares about the big bad wolf. This book did a great job of not really changing the story but just looking at it a different way that wasn't as scary. The illustrations are also really fun and different.
My Rating: This is a perfect retelling that worked out so well in my favor. Munchkin enjoyed it and soon after stopped having nightmares.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Review of Esio Trot by Roald Dahl

Synopsis: "Mr. Hoppy is in love with Mrs. Silver, but her heart belongs to Alfie, her pet tortoise. Mr. Hoppy is too shy to approach Mrs. Silver, until one day he comes up with a brilliant idea to win her heart. If Mr. Hoppy's plan works, Mrs. Silver will certainly fall in love with him. But it's going to take one hundred and forty tortoises, an ancient spell, and a little bit of magic."

My Review: I remember reading this book as a kid and thought I should add it to my shelves for when Munchkin gets a little older. I had forgotten how bizarre Roald Dahl's books were until I re-read this one. This is one that really needs to be read aloud to get the full effect of the growing and shrinking chant. I don't know if Munchkin will really enjoy it but I am happy to have it on my shelf for no more reason then sentimentality.
My Rating: I don't know how many kids would actually enjoy the subject matter of this book but the quirky way Dahl goes around it will definitely attract them.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Beginning Reader Review of Heavy Duty Trucks by Joyce Milton

Synopsis: "Did you know that monster dump trucks are so tall that drivers have to use ladders just to get to their seats? Or that cherry picker trucks don't pick cherries? Through easy-to-read text and realistic art, young truck enthusiasts will discover everything they ever wanted to know about their favorite mode of transportation."

My Review: This is a great level 3 book in my opinion. It is a subject matter that will really attract young readers, even reluctant ones. It had a variety of equipment, not just constructions like you would imagine looking at the cover. Developing readers will be able to read this book on their own, there isn't a lot of new words for them if they are already fans of trucks.
My Rating: This is a perfect book for Munchkin, I don't think it will take him long to work up to reading this book since he already knows what all the equipment and jobs are.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Bedtime Story: Red by Michael Hall

Synopsis: "A blue crayon mistakenly labeled as "red" suffers an identity crisis in the new picture book by the New York Times–bestselling creator of My Heart Is Like a Zoo and It's an Orange Aardvark! Funny, insightful, and colorful, Red: A Crayon's Story, by Michael Hall, is about being true to your inner self and following your own path despite obstacles that may come your way. Red will appeal to fans of Lois Ehlert, Eric Carle, and The Day the Crayons Quit, and makes a great gift for readers of any age!

Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let's draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can't be red, no matter how hard he tries! Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He's blue! This funny, heartwarming, colorful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone!"

My Review: I picked this book up because I have heard some great things about it and it has a great message. I think that it was a little above Munchkin's understanding (at 3.5 yrs old). I tried discussing it with him throughout the book and he would just look at me and say 'but Mom it the crayon is blue, not red' as if it should be clear as day for everyone. I do however think this would be an excellent book for older children and even all the way through high school, heck even after that we are still trying to figure out who we are and how we identify ourselves. It was a nice reminder as a parent though not to push our children to conform to what we think they should be.
My Rating: This book is almost more of a lesson to the adults reading it than to the children. I give it a rating of Four Paws!
Good Night! Sweet Dreams!

Magic Tree House Monday: Book 13 - Vacation Under the Volcano

Welcome to Magic Tree House Monday!

Each Monday (other than when special events are planned) I will review one book of the Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne.
In Book 13, Jack and Annie are now Master Librarians and now must use the skills they have gained during their previous adventures to aid Morgan in saving books.  They must travel to Pompeii to save a scroll before it is lost to the world forever.
My Review: I really am enjoying this next segment of books in the series. I like the historical context in this book, the adventure will really capture a young reader's interest. I also like the Jack and Annie are starting to have to think a little more and use the books as a reference too. These books are teaching kids things while making it action packed and fun.  
My Rating: These books are really doing a great job of growing with the young readers and their abilities.  I am so glad I have invested in this series for Munchkin.  I give this book a rating of Four Paws!

Monday Reading List

Its Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Shelia at Book Journey. Share what books you have finished in the last week, are currently reading and what might be coming up next!

Reviews Posted Last Week:
Links will take you to my review

There Was a Fire by Nancy Roy
One Night With You by Marie Force (After Dark)
Fishing in Narragansett Bay by Richard Grosvenor (Bedtime Story)

 Books Finished Last Week:
Reviews will be posted at a later date

The Storm = 1pt
Slam and Dunk Go to the Moon = 1pt
Jedi Academy = 5pts
Princess and the Hound = 5pts
Sworn to Transfer = 3pts
Viking Ships at Sunrise = 5pts
Currently Reading:

Princess in Training by Meg Cabot - Audio - 37%

 Books to be Read Soon:


Total Points Earned
119 points + 20 points earned - 35 point spent = 104 points

Total Points Earned this Year: 528
Total Points Spent this Year: 424

Pages Read/ Time Listened
85:45 Hours Listened (none listened this week)
18,054 Pages Read (952 this week)

Books Added to Shelves

The Empire Strikes Back with CD - 5 points spent
Return of the Jedi with CD - 5 points spent
Force Awakens with CD - 5 points spent
Today I Will Fly by Mo Willems - 5 points spent
I Will Take a Nap by Mo Willems - 5 points spent
The Siren by Kiera Cass - 10 points spent

Interesting Tidbits on the Web:



I have had to slow down a bit on my reading, I have been doing so much reading for the Month of RI Authors, which I hope you really enjoyed, and then the Dewey's Readathon.  Household chores and other plans have gotten shoved out of the way.  So I better get those done before I get too carried away with my reading again.

Anyway,  today kicks off another fun event! It is Children's Book Week!! I apologize in advance for the flood of posts that are going to be filling your feed this week. I really love encouraging young readers and I have a wide variety of books for every taste.  Each day this week I will post a beginning reader book in the morning, a first chapter book or middle grade book mid day and then a bedtime story in the evening.  The only exception will be Saturday which is Free Comic Book Day and I will have 3 different comic books that are appropriate for younger and middle grade readers.  I have picked some of the best books I could come up with to share with all of you this week.  So I hope you will check them out and hopefully find something for that young reader in your life!