Review: No Bears Allowed

no bears allowedReview:

No Bears Allowed

Author: Lydia Lukidis

Illustrator: Tara J. Hannon

Publisher:  Blue Whale Press, 2019

Ages: 4-7

Rabbit is a bit of a scared-y cat (scared-y rabbit, I guess I should say). He’s frightened of things like thunder, things that go bump in the night, and of, course, BEARS! With pointy teeth and long sharp claws to wave about, who wouldn’t be afraid of a bear? Certainly, Bear will want Rabbit for dinner – won’t he?

I love the messages imparted by this book. We can all find friends in unexpected places, especially when we let go of our personal prejudices. It’s important for everyone to be safe, but equally important to recognize the difference between being safe and being fearful simply because we are confronted by something new. By taking some time to consider someone else’s point of view, readers realize that maybe, just maybe, they might be wrong about that scary-looking bear.

The illustrations help keep the pages turning. Rabbit is lovable, Bear is a bit scary, and together the two characters help get the message across in a nice, subtle way.

While some of the 4-7 crowd may be able to read this on their own, I think it’s a great “sharing” book. It opens up reading time for some real honest dialogue – always a plus with me.


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review: The Pirate Captain’s Daughter


The Pirate Captain’s Daughter

Author: Eve Bunting

Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press, 2010

Catherine has always known her father’s real occupation. He’s a pirate. When her mother dies, Catherine convinces him to let her join his band of buccaneers. She cuts off her hair and becomes “Charlie.”

Charlie may be a newbie when it comes to being a pirate, but she’s spunky, resourceful, and small enough to eavesdrop without being discovered. She learns of a plot to steal a valuable gemstone from her father. Although he has sworn not to give her any special attention, she manages to warn him that there is danger afoot, apart from the usual kind of danger involved in attacking other ships.

The plot of The Pirate Captain’s Daughter is pretty thin and not terribly original. However, from the perspective of historical fiction, it does give a lot of information about what a pirate’s life would truly be like. (Personally, a pirate’s life would NOT be for me. Too unhygienic in every way.) It dispels myths and gives an accurate picture of life on a ship. Charlie, her father, and the cabin boy, William (who, by the way, is the one who discovers Charlie’s little secret) are all likeable enough characters. Despite the fact that it is hardly a unique story, it’s still a pleasantly vicarious read.



*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review: Lucky Little Things

lucky little thingsReview:

Lucky Little Things

Author: Janice Erlbaum

Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2019

Source: Personal Purchase

Things have been difficult and sad for Emma Macintyre ever since her beloved Aunt Jenny died. Aunt Jenny was the kind of person who made everything seem brighter and better. No problem was insurmountable with the support of Aunt Jenny. Now she is gone and both Emma and her mom are swamped with grief.

When a mysterious letter arrives, containing a $20 bill and the message that Emma’s luck has changed for the better, Emma doesn’t know what to think. She is to make a list of ten lucky things she wants to happen and then at the end of thirty days, she is to check it to see what her luck has brought her. In addition, she is not to tell anyone about the letter. Despite her skepticism, she makes a list.

What follows is a month of unexpected happenings. Always on the look-out for her “secret pal,” Emma learns a lot about luck, herself, and the items on her list. It seems everyone has a different view of luck. Is it something you are born with? Is it something you attract or make? Or is life just a series of coincidences?

Unfortunately, none of these investigations give Emma a clue as to who the sender of the letter is. Some of the things on her list do happen. Some don’t. Sometimes Emma realizes that an item isn’t really what she wants, so she changes her list. However, the final item on her list – bring Aunt Jenny back – can’t possibly come true.

Lucky Little Things is a poignant story that will bring tears and hope and joy into the lives of readers. Aunt Jenny’s belief – that to be alive is to be lucky – rings true throughout the entire story.

Review: Maybe He Just Likes You

maybe he just likes youReview:

Maybe He Just Likes You

Author:  Barbara Dee

Publisher: Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2019

It starts very subtly. Some boys touch Mila in a way that makes her uncomfortable. It begins with an unwanted hug. It seems a bit weird, but, after all, is a friendly hug so bad? And initially, Mila thinks it was just one odd, isolated incident.

Then “incidents” keep happening. It’s not like Mila doesn’t speak up for herself, but the boys won’t stop and her friends don’t understand. Mila hasn’t done anything to attract this attention and she doesn’t want it.

When Mila enrolls in a karate class, it seems like the perfect way to learn to defend herself. Yet even this brings her problems, for her effort to defend herself lands her in the principal’s office. It’s too difficult and too embarrassing to explain – especially to a man – what is going on.  And what is going on? Is it simple bullying, like her friend Max suggests? Or is there something more to this?

This book made me so angry. Not because it was poorly written or far-fetched. It made me angry because it is true. It’s honest, real-life, and though not overly explicit, raw. It certainly is a story that is going to raise powerful emotions.

I liked that the ending was realistic. It is not too goody-two-shoes but instead leaves room for hope, change, and reconciliation.

Having just admitted that this wasn’t the typical feel-good book, do I recommend it? Absolutely. I think it should replace some of the other school required reading choices, be a book that is discussed in book clubs, and be brought to readers’ attention at libraries in as many ways as possible.

And though these early days back to school are busy ones, expect to see discussion questions in the upcoming weeks!


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review: North America


North America: A Fold-Out Graphic History

Authors: Sarah Albee and William Exley

Publisher: Smithsonian, 2019

I loved this fold-out history book! It’s a little bit like a map (which I don’t think we use or teach enough about any longer) and a little bit like a mini trivia-style history book. It’s also a timeline, but far more graphic than most timelines I have seen.

The information isn’t the same-old same-old facts presented so frequently in kids’ history books. Here are a couple sample items:

9000 BCE – Wild Potatoes

Early North Americans gather and eat a kind of wild potato in what is now the midwestern part of the United States, and probably elsewhere, too.

1600s – Dying Cloth with Insects

The Aztecs and other nearby peoples dry and powder the cochineal insect and use the powder to dye cloth a brilliant red hue. Later the Spanish will steal this secret, and the sale of red dye will help make Spain a world power.

Who knew? That’s what makes this book so wonderfully interesting. There are many, many of these unique and fascinating facts.

The illustrations are done in muted tones, much like we think of the colors used on old maps. The drawings are a bit more like cartoons than I would have expected. I wondered if more realistic drawings might be more appealing. However, I shared this book with my fifth-grade class and they loved it. I wouldn’t change a thing.

While this book is a great reference resource, it’s interesting enough to simply be a pleasure reading book. It’s a nice alternative for nonfiction fans and for those whom big blocks of text may be overwhelming.


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


Review: 1,000 Facts About Ancient Egypt

1000 Facts About EgyptReview:

1,000 Facts About Ancient Egypt

Author: Nancy Honovich

Publisher: National Geographic Kids, 2019

OK, time for a little quiz! (Yes, yes, we are back to school and it’s time for quizzes again. I promise – this one won’t be painful.)

Did you know…..

  1. …… that ancient Egyptians used the same hieroglyph for ZERO as they did for BEAUTY? (13)
  2. …… that the amount of linen it takes to wrap a single mummy could cover three-quarters of a professional basketball court? (21)
  3. …….that most Egyptian men and women wore triangular linen loincloths as underwear? (25)
  4. …..that ancient Egyptian cats were similar to modern-day tabby cats? (42)
  5. ……that ancient Egyptian mummy makers were the first people known to use stitches? (51)

I could go on and on with this kind of information. This new offering by Honovich and National Geographic is simply packed with interesting, little known facts about ancient Egyptian life. There are plenty of visuals, too, depicting everything from the jewelry the Egyptians wore to some of the beastly animals of the land.

This is one of those books that provides hours of entertainment. The facts are presented in little trivia-style nuggets with the photos and other graphics giving relief from solid pages of facts.


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Review: Explorer Academy Code-Breaking Activity Adventure


National Geographic Explorer Academy Code-Breaking Activity Adventure

Author: Dr. Gareth Moore

Publisher: National Geographic, 2019

For readers who loved National Geographic’s Explorer Academy series, The Nebula Secret and The Falcon’s Feather, this new activity book is going to be a hit (and even those who aren’t familiar with the books – yet – will enjoy it!).

Right away we start cracking codes: secret words or letters, scrambled words, Morse code or the semaphore alphabet. Some of these codes are pretty challenging, so readers can expect hours of entertainment.

If readers are familiar with the series, favorite characters reappear and make this code book more than just a book of puzzles. Everything adds up to lots of fun. It could even get kids to break away, for a bit, from the electronics.


*Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.


August 2019 Round-Up

Check out my reviews for the month of August! You can find links to all of these reviews in the Index!

Let me know in the comments below what books you want me to review next!