November 2019 Round-Up

Check out my reviews for the months of November! 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!

Review: Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

everyday stuffReview:

Surprising Stories Behind Everyday Stuff

Author: Stephanie Warren Drimmer

Publisher: National Geographic Kids, 2019

Ever wonder how everyday stuff – like neckties or lipstick or pockets – came to be invented?  This new selection from National Geographic Kids has your answers.

Some of the trivia you learn is going to be pretty surprising. Did you know:

  • Some lipsticks contain fish scales (180)?
  • High heels were first worn by ancient Egyptian butchers to keep their feet out of blood (67)?
  • The first toothbrushes had bristles made from hogs’ hair (198)?
  • During the Middle Ages, everyone brought his or her own knife to dinner (55)?
  • Marbles were probably first used to tell fortunes (17)?

These are just a few of the fun facts readers can use to entertain friends and family. OK, some of the facts, like those found in the toilet paper and table manners sections, are a bit gross, but I am sure young readers won’t mind that a bit. They will probably think they are the perfect thing to bring up to get rid of that weird, old relative at one of the upcoming holiday dinners.

Seriously, this book contains a lot to interest everyone. It would make a long car ride seem faster, entertain visiting youngsters, and even ignite some people’s creative spark. After all, there are still plenty of things out there that have room for improvement!


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

Review: All Around Bustletown Winter


All Around Bustletown Winter

Author/Illustrator: Rotraut Susanne Berner

Publisher: Prestel, 2019

All Around Bustletown Winter is an oversized board book. I like the sturdy construction, for this is a book that will provide hours of entertainment and will be able to stand up to the pressures of lots of use from little hands.

There is plenty going on in Bustletown this winter. The illustrations are filled with  things to observe and things to talk about. Who is waiting at the bus stop and where might they be going? The bus passes a farmer’s market. What are some of the things the farmer is selling? What is happening at the garage? What are some of the other buildings and what are the people doing?  Even though there are no words in this book, just talking with children helps them develop language. This book gives us many subjects to talk about. It would also be great if used to help write stories. So much is happening on each page that even young writers would be able to find a story to tell.

Additionally, it can be used like an I Spy type of book.  On the back cover are some characters to find. Look to see where Bonnie the cat is hiding. Find the lost wallet and key. Search for Niko the parrot and discover what plans he has. This book would be ideal to purchase if you have travel in your plans for the upcoming months and need to provide entertainment during long travel times.

The illustrations are detailed, colorful, and a bit whimsical. However, the pictures are not so complex or involved that only older readers will be able to enjoy them. The pictures are a bit more laid-back that those in a book like Where’s Waldo, which is why I like this book so much. It’s a little easier to use to begin a conversation or as a story starter.


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


Review: Adventures on Earth


Adventures on Earth

Author: Simon Tyler

Publisher: Pavilion Children’s Books, 2019

Do you have a young reader at home who thirsts for adventure and perhaps prefers nonfiction? This new book, Adventures on Earth, will provide plenty of entertaining reading.

In this book, we visit places few of us ever really see (and many of us don’t want to). We explore the polar regions, learn about the Trans-Arctic Expedition, and discover interesting facts about animals of the region, like penguins and Arctic terns. Did you know that Antarctica has never had indigenous people living on it?

After visiting the coldest regions on Earth, readers can jump right into – you guessed it – volcanoes! (You did guess that, right?) Volcanic exploration is filled with huge risks. Yes, there is all that hot lava to worry about. Volcanoes also release highly toxic gases that overwhelm humans within minutes. Plus, there is also the potential for pyroclastic flows, which sweep down the volcano at high speeds, obliterating everything in their way (think Pompeii).

And the fun doesn’t stop there! Readers can vicariously visit the oceans, the deserts, some of the world’s wildest rivers, the jungle, mountains, and  underground caves and chasms.  Each section provides interesting details about the terrain, the weather, animals of the region, and adaptations that people have made in order to survive.

While the illustrations in this book were fine, I would have really liked to see some photographs included. They would have made this book truly extraordinary. I did, however, think the maps were great. I will repeat myself: we don’t study enough geography any longer! Here’s a great way to get started.


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

Review: The Girl in the Locked Room

girl locked in the roomReview:

The Girl in the Locked Room

Author: Mary Downing Hahn

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018

Source: Personal Purchase

Sorry, readers. I meant to have this post up before Halloween, but new work assignments are challenging and keeping me exceptionally busy of late. Even though I have missed my anticipated date, it is still too good of a story to simply pass. Since scary stories are perennially popular and those dark and dreary winter nights are also perfect for snuggling under the covers with a good ghost story, I am going ahead with my review.

I particularly wanted to select a ghost story and when thinking about authors, Mary Downing Hahn immediately sprang to mind. This new book gets it just right. Of course, there is a ghost. She was a young girl involved in a tragic historical incident. There is also a present-day girl, who has abilities to connect with the paranormal.  Jules’ father restores historic houses, which is what brings her to be living right alongside the haunted house. Past and present collide and Jules and her friend Maisie may be just the ones to help a long-imprisoned girl who holds the key to mysteries of the past.