Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews

Welcome to more of my children’s book reviews.  As ever, I hope you will enjoy my varied choice of books and the reviews of them. Please don’t forget to scroll down the page and read them all!

Children’s Book of the Week: Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
Available on Amazon in Hardcover $13.95 | Paperback $3.38 | Audio $8.99 | Board $6.29

Giraffes Can't Dance

Giraffes Can’t Dance is a great little rhyming book about Gerald, a clumsy Giraffe, who seems to be the only one in the jungle who can’t dance. Every year in Africa, the animals hold a jungle dance. This year, whenever that is, Gerald arrives at the event and the others immediately start laughing at him, knowing of his ineptitude in this field. Feeling “so sad and so alone”, he starts to walk home. On his way he meets a cricket, who helps him to understand that he can dance if only he listens to the right music. Thus, Gerald’s ability to dance improves beyond measure. His fickle friends, upon seeing him spiralling across the jungle floor with his new-found agility, cannot believe their eyes, and suddenly Gerald is the ‘beau’ of the ball.

I absolutely loved this book, as did the youngest member of the family, aged two. The rhyming is superb:

The warthogs started waltzing
And the rhinos rock ‘n’ rolled
The lions danced a tango
Which was elegant and bold.”  –  

The illustrations are detailed, vibrant and great fun; and will undoubtedly hold the attention of those too young to read to themselves.  In fact, it’s the ideal read aloud book anyway; being just the right length. And then there is the nice little touch of having a cricket to find on every page; which provides a certain amount of entertainment in itself. This book shows what it feels like to be different and how, by learning that we only need to “find the right music” to encourage us, things can change – a great message.  

Highly recommended (5 stars)

Giraffes Can’t Dance would be best suited to 2 to 6

Other Books I Have Reviewed

Keeno and Ernest - The Diamond MineThe Adventures of Keeno and Ernest – The Diamond Mine by Maggie van Galen
Available on Amazon  in Hardcover $19.02

This is the second book I have reviewed by Maggie van Galen, and I liked it just as much as the first. The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest – The Diamond Mine is also the second book in the Keeno and Ernest series.

Mother’s Day is approaching and Keeno, the audacious little monkey of the title, is determined to give his mother a wonderful present. He finds a shiny red rock. So far, so good. But then, from high up in the canopy, Keeno spots a cart full of diamonds in the diamond mine below. He devises a plan to get hold one of these, and give it to his mother instead of the rock.

His steadfast and sensible friend, Ernest the elephant, tries to persuade him that this would be stealing, and that his mother would be just as happy with the stone because it is something he has found all by himself.  Rationalising that if he replaces the diamond with the red rock, it would not be stealing – it would be a trade, Keeno makes a plan. Ernest is not convinced, and Keeno secretly implements the plan deciding he will tell him later.  He very swiftly gets into trouble, and it is up to Ernest (whose “always there for him”) to rescue him again.

This is another very sweet and enjoyable story from Maggie van Galen. It is well-written and well-paced, and the characters are adorable. And, with the delightful, bold and vibrant illustrations, painted by hand by Joanna Lundeen, this book is a real gem.

Then there is the lesson about stealing; “If you take something without asking, then it’s stealing and stealing is wrong”. And, when an elephant tells you that; you really should listen! An excellent message, especially for all those dear little two or three years olds we all know and love,  who think everything in the entire universe  has MINE – ALL MINE stamped all over it. There is also an added bonus here of a page of ‘can you find’ at the back, which is fun. 

In all; a very endearing little book which I am thrilled to place on my bookshelf. (5 stars)

The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest – The Diamond Mine would be best suited to ages 4 to 8

Mo The Talking DogMo – The Talking Dog by Michelle Booth
Available on Amazon as an eBook $3.08 and in Paperback $8.81

This is a delightful tale about an abused puppy who is rescued by the son of a somewhat unconventional vet. Henry Ashton, the vet, has been deeply interested in genetic engineering for some time and is hoping to find an animal to place a human voice box in; grown from tissue. When Martin, his son, rescues the puppy from the canal, and they realise the puppy is unable to bark, he becomes the ideal candidate for Henry to ‘help’. I must explain at this point, Henry is no maker of monsters, but genuinely wishes to assist the animal, despite his vested interest. Henry operates and lo; Mo has a voice box. Hence, we have Mo the talking dog. Mo is very carefully taught his words by the family, and picks up quite a few more from Mimic, the family’s African Grey parrot , who also talks, and with whom he watches children’s television. Much of their speech is gleaned from this. Needless to say, the Ashton family’s life begins to take on a whole new meaning; something they all seem to take very much in their stride. And so the adventure begins.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is funny, well put together and the characters are well-rounded and extremely likeable; well, most of them anyway. The plot is tight and clever. It reads just like any good old adventure story, which will have children routing for Mo and Martin as the tale rolls on. It’s very entertaining and in parts keeps you wondering what on earth will happen next. My only disappointment being, the animal abusers should have been dealt with more severely.

This book addresses so many issues; animal abuse, bullying, the ethics of genetic engineering and doing the right thing where others are concerned. All of which are dealt with in an empathic manner. I also loved the way Mo talked, and for those who find him hard to understand, you can find ‘Mo’s Dictionary’ at the back of the book. The book cover confused me a little. It is very sweet, but being so simplistic, I was expecting a story for much younger children. In fact, I was delighted when I found it be a chapter book of some reasonable length.

I can highly recommend this – whether you are a dog lover or not – and can see more than one generation enjoying it. (5 stars)

Mo – The Talking Dog would be best suited to ages 8 to 12 

Robbie's Quest for SeedRobbie’s Quest for Seed by D.C. Rush
Available on Amazon as an eBook $1.51 and in Paperback $6.64

Robbie’s Quest for Seed follows Robbie the Robin and his feathered friends as they leave the comfort and security of the bird bath and feeder they know so well, and fly south for the winter. Their plan is to head for Florida to enjoy the warmer weather and the plentiful supply of seed, bread, pretzels and anything else the kind residents put out on their bird tables.

They set off on their journey with all having a part to play in getting themselves and their young safely to their chosen destination. Having overcome various obstacles and dangers on the way, they finally arrive. But, it is not as they remember and there is little food and much water. They have two choices: stay and wait for the waters to subside or fly west to better pastures. They are now weak and hungry, and decisions must be made.

In Robbie’s Quest for Seed, the birds have created a very fair and democratic society for themselves They form orderly queues to eat and bathe, and share and distribute food according to need. Their lives are well-organised and gracious. Quite Utopian really; where the strength of a good team outweighs the sum of its divisions and all are happy; and things get done well by those who are pleased to do them.

This a wonderful story of true friendship, teamwork and consideration for others. Children can also learn about the migratory habits of birds and their patterns of behaviour. There is a bit of a geography lesson in there too, plus instructions on how to navigate by the stars.

In all: A lovely, well-written and enjoyable book to keep on your child’s bookshelf. (5 stars)

Robbie’s Quest for Seed would be best suited to ages 4 to 10


All my reviews can be found on Amazon and, where possible, Goodreads.

Book Covers and Buy Links will also be posted on my Pinterest Board

Please note: Authors frequently offer their books at lower prices, and often they are free.  These prices were correct at the time of publishing, but it is worth checking for price changes.

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‘Mungai’ Hits Number Seventeen in Amazon UK Best Seller Lists

New Book Cover December 2012

Wow!  Totally amazing news!  Mungai and the Goa Constrictor is currently listed in the Amazon Best Seller paid lists UK, books about the environment, at Number 17. Best news I’ve had for ages. 🙂

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop: WINNERS

Freedom to Read

Freedom to Read Giveaway Hop July 2nd to July 9th 2013

Now that this great giveaway is over, it’s time to announce the winners of the 3 paperback copies of Mungai and the Goa Constrictor. Thanks to all who visited and a special thank you to those of you who left a comment.  It was greatly appreciated.

I have tried to be fair and in the end I put all names on separate bits of paper and threw them into a bowl. One of my children drew out three names.

And the winners are: Ta Dah…. Vanessa Hancock – Bette A Stevens – Dorothy Teel – Congratulations to all of you 🙂 🙂

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Their loss, Our loss…


Watching the National Geographic “Deadly Dozen” series.  The African elephants used to roam most of Africa freely.  Between poaching and simply being forced off their territory by the advance of people, they are now relegated to a fraction of that space, mostly protected or preserve areas.

I can’t help but shake my head in frustration and disgust.  What we’ve done to this planet!  Trophy hunting and poaching and misinformed “population trimming” aside, the single-mindedness with which we’ve advanced our own species at the cost of every other species of flora and fauna on the planet is just…sad.   Destroying natural resources, destroying habitats, upsetting the ecological balance.  Even on a small scale it’s revolting.  I can’t go to my favorite local park without seeing litter everywhere.  And I think angrily at the faceless perpetrators every time , why do you get to enjoy this park and then trash it…

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Yipee! Another Wonderful 5 Star Review for Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

My heartfelt thanks to the fabulous Paul R Hewlett for this fantastic review of Mungai. Paul is a great writer himself, so I am especially moved by his words.

Mungai and the Goa Constrictor - Book CoverAwesome and insightful by Paul (USA)

I loved this book. Mungai is quite a character. An unidentified animal, I believe a little bit of Mungai is in every one of us in some way or another. His tricks and skullduggery are something to behold. I loved the message in this story and I think young and adult readers alike will enjoy it. The setting is vivid, descriptive and great (I am preferential to jungles). The way the jungle animals bonded together along with humans proves that we can coexist and work together. I loved, loved, loved the cover of this book! This ought to be a staple in family homes, schools, and libraries across the globe.



Paperback on Createspace


MJ Springett

before the stormFriends, on our recent trip to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, we found ourselves parked in front of a stampeding herd of Bison. A storm was moving in and they were leaving the high ground and moving into the ravines and gullies.  I added the lightning for a more dramatic effect.  Can you see the baby bison hurrying along, til Tomorrow MJ


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‘AMAZING MATILDA: A Monarch’s’ Tale Wins Purple Dragonfly Children’s Book Award

I was delighted when I read this post. Amazing Matilda is a book I reviewed some time ago. It is a wonderful illustrated book for young children following the life cycle of a Monarch butterfly. A very well-deserved award.

Bette A. Stevens, Maine Author

AM Look Inside NEW 2015AMAZING MATILDA: A Monarch’s Tale is a children’s picture book about a monarch caterpillar who only wants to fly. “How can a creature without wings every hope to fly?” Matilda’s friends wonder as they laugh at the tiny caterpillar. As Matilda progresses from egg to butterfly she learns that if she keeps trying, she can do anything that she really wants to do. AMAZING MATILDA’s storyline and illustrations follow the actual life cycle of the monarch butterfly and includes milkweed, an environmentally near-threatened plant. Milkweed is the only plant that monarch caterpillars will eat.

Judges of the 2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards contest, which recognizes excellence in children’s literature, have spoken, and AMAZING MATILDA: A Monarch’s Tale by Maine author/illustrator Bette A. Stevens, won Honorable Mention in the Picture Books – 6 & Older category.

“Winning any place in the Purple Dragonfly Contest is a huge honor because in order…

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