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.


December 2017 Round-Up


Check out my reviews for the month of December! 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: The Someday Birds

The Someday BirdsReview:

The Someday Birds

Author: Sally J. Pla

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, 2017

Source: Public library

When Charlie’s father, a teacher, part-time journalist and single parent, sustains a brain injury while covering a story in Afghanistan, the lives of his four children are thrown into chaos. And chaos is something that Charlie cannot live with or understand. Charlie needs order and regularity.

Charlie’s grandmother struggles to cope, but is torn between the needs of her son and the needs of his family. When she is told that her son must be moved from the hospital in California to a world-class research hospital in Virginia where he will hopefully receive the treatment he needs in order to make a recovery, she must go with him and leave the children behind with a babysitter. Unfortunately, the babysitter fails to show and the kids are left on their own.

Charlie’s sister Davis and his twin brothers begin to run amok. Davis invites her boyfriend over and the twins go on a major gaming spree. When Gram discovers the situation, she calls in a back-up babysitter. It is Ludmila, a weird woman whom they don’t know but has been hanging around their father’s hospital room for no apparent reason. The children don’t trust her and decide to run away to Virginia to the hospital where their father has been taken.

What follows is a crazy road trip. They attempt to leave with help from Davis’s boyfriend, but he wrecks his car in an accident. Ludmila shows up on the scene again and agrees to take them to Virginia. Along the way, they will make some tourist stops, with the intention of letting the kids see some sights. Charlie plans to complete the list of “someday birds” that he and his father had hoped to observe together, Although he will learn about birds, he will learn even more about connecting with other people, including the unlikely Ludmila. He will bond with a very special dog.  His relationships with his siblings will mellow. These new experiences will force Charlie to grow in new and unexpected ways.

I don’t usually like to give spoilers, but there is one fact I feel readers should know. Although Pla never specifically labels Charlie, he is a child with Autism spectrum disorder. There are many clues in the book, but I am not sure if middle grade readers would recognize them as such. That being said, I feel that Pla’s handling of the character Charlie is excellent. Charlie is brutally honest, quirky, often frustrating to his family – and totally lovable.

Round-Up/Activity: Apples

Hi everyone,

In today’s picture book round-up, we’re going to be checking out some books about apples, and I’ll be sharing a couple of my favorite apple recipes.


Apples and Pumpkinsapples-and-pumpkins

By Anne Rockwell

Illustrated by Lizzy Rockwell

Aladdin Paperbacks, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 1989

With large, simple text, plenty of white space, and bright illustrations, this book works perfectly as an early-reader leveled text.

For more information: Anne Rockwell’s official website Lizzy Rockwell’s official website


Johnny Appleseedjohnny-appleseed

By Steven Kellogg

Scholastic Inc., 1988

Kellogg’s characteristic illustrations bring life to the classic tall tale of John Chapman, a Massachusetts man who became known as Johnny Appleseed. This book includes an informative author’s note for adult readers explaining some of Kellogg’s background research and the elements of truth in the Johnny Appleseed story.

For more information: Steven Kellogg’s official website


What’s So Terrible about Swallowing an Apple Seed?whats-so-terrible-apple-seeds

By Harriet Lerner and Susan Goldhor

Illustrated by Catharine O’Neill

HarperCollins Publisher, 1996

A play on the classic tale that swallowing an apple seed causes a tree to grow in your belly, this story has loveable characters, funny illustrations, and a predictable but sweet conclusion.

For more information: Harriet Lerner’s official website


Kellogg’s Johnny Appleseed is a great book for discussions of folktales and tall tales, especially if you’re looking for some from American history. It’s a great activity to compare American folktales to some from other countries. I also really loved What’s So Terrible about Swallowing an Apple Seed?, even though it is a little predictable and heavy-handed with its “don’t tell lies” moral. The illustrations and the characters’ reactions are still funny, and certain scenes reminded me of Imogene’s Antlers, which is another story I love.

To go along with today’s apple books, I have two recipes to share with you. They’re perfect served warm with a little vanilla ice cream on top.



One of my favorite fall things is the smell of apples and cinnamon. This recipe will give you a chunky, easy applesauce and leaves a lot of room for you to make changes to your own preferences. It’s a little tricky to write as a recipe, though, because there are really no measurements.

I would suggest that you first put a little water in the bottom of whatever pan you’re planning to use. You don’t need a lot because there’s water in the apples, but this helps to prevent burning when you first put the apples on the heat. It’s just easier to do this step before you add any apples to the pan because you can see exactly how much water you’ve got.

Next, you need to peel, core, and cut your apples. It’s totally up to you what kind and how many apples you use. I used a mix of apples for my applesauce – you’ll notice some of them are a slightly different color. I also made a pretty big pot of applesauce with this many apples, but don’t forget that they will cook down quite a bit once they’re on the heat. When you cut your apples, you can leave them in pretty big chunks to give yourself a chunkier applesauce. Just make sure you get off most of the peel and don’t have anything left from the core. I love apple peels and snack on them as I prep the rest of the apples; they are also a great addition to a compost pile!

Place your pot of chopped apple bits onto the stove top at a medium-high heat. Now you’re going to add your sugar and spices. This is the tricky part because while I can tell you what I add, I can’t tell you exactly how much. I add a lot of cinnamon and sugar and a little bit of nutmeg and allspice. This is where you have a lot of room to experiment and see what flavors you prefer. I think a good rule of thumb is that when you mix the spices into the apples, all the chunks should be covered pretty evenly with sugar and spices.

apples-9Last, you’re just going to let the applesauce cook down and become soft. It pretty much takes care of itself from that point, although you might want to add a little more cinnamon as you go. But definitely don’t leave it alone entirely! You need to stir occasionally because it will burn to the bottom of the pan. When your applesauce is done, you should still have a few distinct chunks, but they should be soft when you poke them with a fork.

This applesauce is a delicious and hearty snack on its own, but it also works as a perfect topping for our next recipe!


Apple Cake:

Confession: I really don’t like apple pie. I love the soft, cinnamon-y apples, but I just don’t like traditional pie crust. So, I make this recipe instead, which makes a soft apple cake with a little bit of crunch on top. This apple cake does come with more precise measurements and a clear recipe but is still incredibly easy to make.


2 cups of sliced and peeled apples

1½ cups of flour

1 teaspoons of baking soda

1 cup of sugar

½ cup of vegetable oil

1 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon


Mix all ingredients in a bowl. For this recipe, the apples can cut into smaller segments to make them easier to mix. It’s also easier to mix if you add all the other ingredients and mix in the apples last. Press the mixture into a 9” x 9” pan. Bake at 325˚ for 50 minutes. Use a toothpick to check that it’s done – although I always find this time to work well, the moisture in the apples and the temperature of your oven can make a difference!

For more apple-themed ideas, check out our latest Pinterest board: “For Teachers: Apples”!

What are your favorite apple recipes for fall? Have you tried either of these recipes? Let us know in the comments below!


Review Policy


Two BookWorms Blog is intended to be a resource for anyone seeking quality books for children of all ages. I review children’s literature, including picture books, early readers, middle grade, and Young Adult books – both fiction and nonfiction. I will accept adult texts only if they have strong cross-over appeal. I am also willing to review educational materials. At this time I do not accept self-published materials. All materials are accepted on a case-by-case basis.

I do not accept monetary compensation for reviews; all views expressed are our own.

I am happy to participate in author interviews, blog tours, or guest posts. Please feel free to contact me with any requests.


If you would like to have a book reviewed, please send an email request. I will respond within 48 hours.

I will do my best to read and review books within 30 days. Upon completion, I will let you know through email whether I feel it suits the blog’s purpose or when the review will appear. You will not receive the review in advance. Please let me know if there are timing concerns, and I will do my best to accommodate those requests.

I will not publish reviews if the material sent is found to be unsatisfactory, although I consider this an unlikely occurrence. In the event I decide not to review your book, you will be notified. I am not returning materials at this time.

While I try to maintain a positive attitude on this blog, I can’t promise to like every book and a negative review is certainly possible. I do my best to write fair reviews and focus on positive aspects of everything I read, but it is important to me that our reviews are also honest.

A review will typically include the following information: Publisher, Publication Date, Genre, Pages, Format, Source, and Brief Synopsis. I often include links to other resources, including the author, illustrator, or publisher’s official website or social media. Please let me know if you would like that information included with the review.


Preferred Format: I prefer physical books. Unfinished copies are fine.

I Like: Middle Grade (Any), Fiction, Non-Fiction (Any). I am happy to consider picture books or YA, but Middle Grade is my preference. I will read romance.

I Will Not Accept: Sci-Fi at any level, generally no graphic novels. Excessive violence or gore is not appreciated.


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Yes-or-No-vember: The Silver Kiss

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause


Thumbs up

Despite the fact that The Silver Kiss is a bit more gruesome than I generally prefer, I am giving it a thumbs up. The reasons behind Zoe’s actions are plausible, The ending especially brings all the elements together and points to a much deeper meaning (what happens after life) in an unexpected yet meaningful way.


I actually feel a little badly about this because I love Annette Curtis Klause, but I’m giving this thumbs downbook a thumbs down because it is. So. Incredibly. Terrifying. Christopher is such a horrible, violent character that I found his child-like actions and appearance disturbing. I don’t think it’s a book I’ll be reading again – I’ll stick to Klause’s Blood and Chocolate instead.