Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


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Having missed a week over the Christmas holidays, and I hope you all had a most wonderful time, here are my reviews for the start of the New Year. This week’s reviews cover books ranging from ages 2 to 12 years plus, most of which can also be enjoyed by adults. There is a wonderful fantasy adventure, a sweet (belated – but my fault) Christmas tale, a comical look at life from a dog’s point of view and a short rhyming picture book for very young children. Please scroll down to read my reviews of this week’s books.

Children’s Book of the Week: Escape from Hat by Adam Kline and Brian Taylor
Published on Amazon Kindle $3.28 and Hardcover $18.99

I bought this book because I was intrigued by the amount of 5 star reviews it had garnered (63 out of 64 at the last look).  Nothing can be this good, I thought. But wow, was I wrong! I was captivated from the first page. From the cute and the courageous to the mean metal Dimmer-Dammers, from the tribe of pigs led by Kadogo to Gordon, the lovable cave monster who’s afraid of the dark, this is the perfect read.

Escape from HatMy Review 

‘Escape from Hat’ tells the story of a young boy, Cecil Bean, and his faithful and devoted lucky rabbit, Leek, and a black cat called Millikin whose job it is to create misfortune in Cecil’s life. By Millikin’s machinations, Leek is drugged, kidnapped and dropped into an evil and incompetent magician’s hat, inside of which he falls into the depths of Millikin’s dark world of ‘Hat’ from which return seems unlikely. Here Leek meets a fairly mixed bag of good and bad creatures but his patience and kindness sees him through. That, and the never-ending desire to be with his human again to protect him against Millikin’s bad luck. Millikin discovers Leek has survived the other creatures and conditions of Hat, and is now wandering through his space. He vows vengeance upon him and calls on his legions of other black cats to help.  Cecil meanwhile, dogged by constant bad luck since Leek’s disappearance, meets a mysterious old man who proffers an in-depth knowledge of Cecil’s situation and much encouragement to change it. Cecil listens well, makes up his mind and sets out on a quest to find Leek. Both Cecil and Leek experience difficult and frightening times as they go on their respective, and often parallel, journeys. But neither is deterred. In fact, both are driven by the same inner need to be together again.

This is a book about duty, determination and friendship. There is plenty of action and suspense and lots of surprises. The truffle part is hilarious and almost believable. I found I had to keep on reading, wondering what may happen to Leek and his companions next, and where Cecil was, and how soon would he come to the rescue.  That is not to say he does – you will have to read the book to find that out.

The pages are interspersed with both black and white drawings and striking colour plates, of which I much preferred the latter, but that is only my opinion. Both are extremely well executed.

Overall, this is a beautifully written book which is exciting, entertaining and inventive. A book I truly enjoyed reading and would have no hesitation in recommending to anyone over the age of six. It’s an absolute 5 star treat!

Other Books I Have Read and Reviewed This Week

Dart and the Squirrels by Nicole Izmaylov
Published on Amazon Kindle $3.11 and Paperback $6.99

A world-weary old dog lies at the back of his crate in the pound thinking no-one will want to adopt a dog like him. Then along comes the wild Scribe tribe, whose son, with all the panache of a charging rhino, bizarrely decides the animal has exactly the qualities a boy needs in a dog, and chooses him above all the endearing little puppies. He promptly names him D’Artagnan Whirligig Scribe, aka Dart.  Mr Scribe (father) pays the pound, pays the vet for clearance and pays the Happy Sunshine Obedience Fun owner “fifty bucks for a measly three biscuits and a hand on his butt” and off they all go. Then the fun begins.  Dart seems to attract trouble wherever he goes, and he is especially mischievous at Show and Tell when ‘Boy’ takes him to school. But misadventure aside, and despite Dart’s perception of matters being so very far removed from that of his human owners, Dart’s life is pretty good. Until, that is, a tornado comes along and uproots a tree which ends up inside the Scribe’s house.  With it comes the bane of Dart’s life – a squirrel, promptly adopted and named Emilia Vuvuzela Scribe.  Dart finds it difficult to like Emilia.  She gets all the best food, what he thinks are his treats and most of the attention. Although he does manage to steal the treats before she gets close enough to eat them. But he still cannot like her. Then he senses she needs help in an affair of the heart and he changes his opinion of her. She doesn’t seem so bad after all. As a consequence; his romantic side takes over and he quietly plots to make her happy.
Dart is the narrator of the book and, amongst other things, treats us all to his cynical take on pet owners,  and eloquently illustrates how our pets are probably not thinking what we think they are thinking at all.
Dart and the Squirrels is intelligently written and Nicole Izmaylov’s style is quite unique. It’s also lots of fun. But what makes it exceptional is it was written when the author was in middle school. Quite remarkable! For me this is very deserving of 5 stars.

Martin the Christmas Mouse by Jane Whiteoak    
Published on Amazon Kindle $2.07 

I bought this book before Christmas and although we are now a week past the event, I still wanted to read and review it having read another book from the same author, and having enjoyed it immensely.
Martin the Christmas Mouse is a tale about a selfless little mouse who, with his family, occupies a small space in the living room wall in the house of Mr Kingsley, described as a “kind elderly man, who couldn’t see very well without his glasses” and who is entirely oblivious to the existence of Martin, Martin’s parents and Martin’s sister Maria. The myopic Mr Kingsley is also blissfully unaware as to the amount of help he receives from Martin about the house. Martin, it seems, is very fond of the kindly and often forgetful Mr Kingsley. Christmas Eve arrives, and so do the grandchildren of Mr Kingsley, and thanks to Martin, all things are in place and Mr Kingsley has all he needs. But what will Santa bring for Martin and Maria!  Or are mice even remembered at Christmas!
This is a short and very delightful read suitable for children old enough to understand the meaning of Christmas. As with Jane Whiteoak’s ‘Thomas and the Lily Pond’ there is a positive message for the children. This time it is a message about the true spirit of Christmas. All in all, with a sweet protagonist, charming illustrations and an endearing story line, Martin the Christmas Mouse adds up to worthy entertainment. I highly recommend downloading a copy and keeping it for next Christmas. Hopefully, though, this will be in paperback by then. I give Martin the Christmas Mouse 5 stars

Maggie Mouse Gets Lost by Haley Moonspur
Published on Amazon Kindle $1.65

Maggie Mouse Gets Lost is a very short rhyming tale about a little mouse called Maggie who gets lost in the long grass and calls for her mother. Maggie sensibly stays exactly where she is and waits for her mother to find her, giving out a valuable message – when you are lost, stay where you are and you will be found.
Although the images are clearly computer generated, they are adorable and will enchant any small child.  The rhyming text flows almost perfectly and gets the message across well. The book itself, however, is a little too short and I found the print, far too small.  But it is very sweet and enjoyable and I can see it being read over and over again. Nice fun book for toddlers with a great message. I give ‘Maggie Mouse Gets Lost’ 4 stars.

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

 

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Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


 

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Hi everyone, having decided to change the format of C.B.W., I am pleased to say that the highlighted Children’s Book of the Week is still here,  but there are now also three other children’s book reviews for you to read, so please don’t forget to scroll down the page.

Children’s Book of the Week: Pibbin the Small: A Tale of Friendship Bog by Gloria Repp
Published on Amazon Kindle $1.24 and Paperback $5.99

I consider this book a wonderful find. ‘Pibbin the Small’ is the sort of book any child will surely enjoy. It has all the right ingredients; a great plot, action, a hero, a villain,  loads of endearing characters, bucket loads of kindness and friendship, and marvellous illustrations by Tim Davis.

Pibbin the Small by Gloria Repp featured as Children's Book of the Week on mungaiandthegoaconstrictor.me

My Review

Pibbin the Small is the most delightful story about the reluctant adventures of a small tree frog – one filled to the brim with the sort of kindness found only in those who care deeply about others. The opening chapter finds Pibbin shocked to discover his dear friend Sheera the Turtle has been hit by a truck and her leg is badly damaged.  Various opinions are offered as to how to alleviate Sheera’s suffering. ‘The Carpenter’ even mentally sizes her up for a wooden leg. But Sheera herself tells Pibbin there is only one cure – a wrap made of Sweetberry leaves.

Unfortunately, Sweetberry leaves can only be found far away in the garden of Sheera’s friend, the Doctor, who lives near the Silver Sea, and Pibbin must make a perilous journey to get there.  The very thought of the long and hazardous trip strikes terror in Pibbin’s heart. But he is quite determined to pluck up the courage to go, and in doing so, save his friend from the terrible fate of a wooden leg that won’t bend, or, worse still, death. He is given two pieces of advice by Gaffer, an old tree frog: “Get the Doctor’s name” and “Find yourself a pal who’s quick and smart.” Both of which he does! Pibbin is only small and does not think of himself as being brave, but his friend needs the leaves or her leg will not recover. So he puts his fears behind him and concentrates on the task in hand, and he and his new-found pal go off in search of the leaves. The journey is far from uneventful, but not once does he shy away from his mission, ever motivated by the thought of his suffering friend – a friend who had been so kind to him and shielded him from harm when he was even smaller. This is the story of his journey.

I cannot imagine any child or adult not enjoying this book. I am a bit of a lover of animal stories and this ranks very highly amongst my favourites. Beautifully told with gorgeous illustrations, this would be an ideal addition to any child’s library. The author skilfully weaves the tale around the importance of friendship and throws in a pretty good plot to boot. We are taken straight into the story and soon introduced to Pibbin’s colourful friends, all of which are well enough described for the reader to imagine them, and their boggy environment, even without the illustrations. Pibbin displays tremendous courage in the face of danger and finds out he is a much braver frog than he thought and all because his love for his friend was far greater than his fear of the unknown. A marvellous lesson in courage for children! And the lesson is subtle rather than preachy – which works very well. Gloria Repp has created a story which is faultlessly written, perfectly structured and an ideal fit for the age group it is intended for, though I am quite sure older children will enjoy it just as much. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work in the future. Definitely a 5 star read!

Other books I have read this week

The Incredible Escape of the Sly Little Fox by Lily Lexington
Published on Amazon Kindle 99c

The Incredible Escape of the Sly Little Fox is a wonderful rhyming story from which many children may learn about kindness and sharing.
The little fox starts out as a very mean little fox that has no consideration for anyone but himself. Until, that is, he finds himself in a bit of bother! The only help available comes from sources the little fox would have least expected – the animals he has hurt. But, as you would imagine, the story develops and the little fox, following his wake-up call, learns to be a not-so-sly little fox.
The most delightful part of this book is the nigh perfect rhyming verse throughout. It’s clever and it flows beautifully. The same phrase is repeated as each animal moves on by, adding to the joy of the book. The lively illustrations are sweet and very well done. The moral is good and clear, and children will have no difficulty understanding it, whether a parent is reading aloud to them or they are reading by themselves. I would say this book would be most suited to 3 to 6 year olds. A fun and enjoyable read worthy of  5 stars.

Nimpentoad by Josh Herz, Henry Herz and Harrison Herz
Published on Amazon – Kindle $2.45 and Paperback $10.50

The story begins in Grunwald Forest where the Niblings live. Niblings are dexterous little creatures who love to cook. They are not, however, very popular with the others of the forest.  In fact, they are continuously picked on and pushed around. The forest is also inhabited by Orcs and Goblins and Neebles, to name but a few, and each and every one has had a go at the Niblings. The Niblings are tired of this and decide to seek help from the Goofus, the giant who lives in the castle.  Where Niblings are very nimble-fingered, Goofus is downright clumsy. They sensibly decide they each have something to offer the other.  They could help Goofus around the castle with the everyday tasks he fails at so often, and so miserably, and he in turn could protect them from the mean bullies. The challenge is to get through to the castle before anyone has them for supper. There are many tests along the way, but Niblings, it seems, are very clever and resourceful, and the large mean bullies are not.

This is a sweet little adventure story with appealing illustrations.  It is well written, original and funny. There are some great names for some of the creatures and the descriptions are wonderful. It shows how teamwork can overcome the bullies and how using your brain is often better than fighting. This is a great little book for readers aged 5 to perhaps 9 or 10 years old.  Great book! 4 stars for Nimpentoad!

Gnit Wit Gnipper and the Ferocious Fire Ants by T J Lantz
Published on Amazon Kindle 99c

This is a story about a gnome called Gnipper who longs for a ‘real’ hat to gain kudos in the community and shake off the added name of Gnit Wit.  The community is very science orientated and to gain her hat, and lose her added name, she, like all the others, must invent something which will enhance the lives of all gnomes. Gnipper’s invention (still in its experimental stages) is to be a growth potion, largely so she can reach the cookie jar, but also because she feels it will be useful to others of the same stature.  But, needless to say, the experiment backfires when she tests it on her pet ant, which does indeed grow – out of all proportion, in fact – and becomes very hostile. And if that is not enough, she is expecting lots of little ants in the very near future, hence an impending disaster is born. But can Gnipper undo what she has done!
This is a fun and imaginative read and I can see it keeping children engaged with its quirky characters, amusing dialogue and original plot. I also thought it was well-crafted and reasonably exiting.  Younger children may need a bit of help with some of the vocabulary though, but that is not a bad thing as long as there is a parent or older sibling there to help out. I would see this book appealing to ages 6 and upwards. I give Gnit Wit Gnipper and the Ferocious Ants 4 stars.

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

Woo Hoo! “Mungai” is the Main Feature This Week on The Bridge of Deaths Blog


Mungai and the Goa Constrictor - A Children's Book by Amelia E Curzon - Book CoverMUNGAI AND THE GOA CONSTRICTOR

(recommended reading age: 9 to 90)

Probably one of the best books you and your family will read this year!

Likened to both Orwell’s Animal Farm and Kipling’s Jungle Book (though a very different tale) it is hoped Mungai and the Goa Constrictor will …… Read more at: The Bridge of Deaths on Tumblr

Children’s Book of the Week: A Dog Called Dog by Harri Romney


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A Dog Called Dog, this week’s Children’s Book of the Week, is a delightful book for young children.  Filled with appealing illustrations, drawn by author Harri Romney herself, the book shows children why sharing is so much better than being selfish. Please read my full review below.

About the book                                                                                                                                                                                                 Dog goes out for his usual walk one foggy morning.  His friends come to find him, but the unsociable hound is eating his bone, and barks at them to go away until he’s ready to play.  Dog eventually realises that his friends were trying to find him to come along and share their wonderful feast, but now they won’t share…Dog must rectify this situation.

About the Author by the Author                                                                                                                           I’m from the smallest county of Rutland in the UK.  I’m the author and illustrator of quite a few children’s picture books.  My trademark seems to have become, that I  create picture books which are mostly written in narrative verse, plus do hand illustrations using traditional pencils and paint pens.

My Review of A Dog Called Dog

A Dog Called Dog is an enjoyable little rhyming book filled with very charming illustrations drawn by the author herself. Well written and easy to understand, the young reader is taken on a walk with ‘Dog’ as he goes to the park and meets his friends, one by one. Quite determined not to be interrupted by any of them whilst enjoying his bone, he refuses to play with them. He soon realises what a mistake he has made.

The short narrative is well-written, and amusingly, the same sentence is repeated throughout at the end of each page, “Leave me alone to eat my nice bone. I don’t want to play, so go away!” reinforcing Dog’s attitude.

More importantly the book demonstrates to young children that being selfish and not sharing doesn’t pay dividends, and it is possible to distance friends this way. Dog’s attitude is not acceptable.

Although this would make an excellent book to read aloud to small children, emergent readers would have no difficulty reading this on their own.

It is sweet, visually pleasing and entertaining!

Buy amazon.com       Buy amazon.co.uk     More Books by Harri Romney      Website

An image from A Dog Called Dog - Children's Book of the Week on mungaiandthegoaconstrctor.me

Three dogs sat round a table;
there was one empty place,

An image from A Dog Called Dog - Children's Book of the Week on mungaiandthegoaconstrctor.me

Reginald sniffed him out at the park,
so grumpy Dog yet again would bark.

An image from A Dog Called Dog - Children's Book of the Week on mungaiandthegoaconstrctor.me

A rude dog called Dog had a privileged life.
He was spoiled rotten by the doctor’s wife.

Children’s Book of the Week: The Adventures of the Frog Prince by J.R. Barker


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My choice for this week’s Children’s Book of the Week is the fun read, The Adventures of the Frog Prince by J.R. Barker. This is a quick and witty read which I would deem suitable for 8/9 year olds and upwards. My review is posted below.

The Adventures of the Frog Prince Book cover - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa ConstrictorAbout the Book 
The Prince had problems; he was stranded in a moat and was trying to come to terms with being small, green and surprisingly springy.
He must try to find out who wants him out of the way and why, whilst avoid being eaten by things that are bigger than him.                                                 Will he ever be human again?

About the Author

Jo Barker has been writing short stories for many years as a hobby and has now finally published. At the moment she is writing children’s tales but there are plans for other books. Read more…

My Review of The Adventures of the Frog Prince

The Adventures of the Frog Prince is a story about an arrogant, irresponsible and selfish young prince who wakes one day to find himself outside his own castle, inside his own moat, and no longer inside his own body. As the title suggests, the Prince has become a frog. Unable to comprehend why this should have happened to him, though he does have a few ideas, he sets out to find those responsible for this unwelcome transformation. Realising there are quite a few royal subjects he has offended, he starts to make a mental list of names. He surmises one of these people must be a witch. But how many witches are there? And where are they hiding? And how will he be able to tell if they really are witches or not? Finding the culprit may prove even more difficult as the castle is full of guests from all across the kingdom who have tuned up with their daughters to hear who the Prince will choose to be his bride. But then, amongst these guests, he unexpectedly finds the most unlikely supporter to help him in his quest.

This is a funny and fast-moving tale written in a style which I thoroughly enjoyed.  The characters are well-developed, likeable and, in some cases, quite comical.  I particularly liked the spider with the lisp. The scenes are nicely descriptive and it is easy to visualise the backdrop. Though the ending isn’t too much of a surprise, it is good.

My only real disappointment was the lack of illustrations. This does not make the story any less of an entertaining read, but I do feel some illustrations would enhance the experience for younger readers.  As an adult, I would happily read more books from this author.

Get Your Copy on Amazon          Visit Jo’s Website

Children’s Book of the Week: Amazing Matilda – A Monarch’s Tale by Bette A Stevens


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This week I would like to share the work of Author Bette A. Stevens. Bette has both written and illustrated her ‘amazing’ book, Amazing Matilda – A Monarch’s Tale, and here you will be able to get a taste of what to expect – a wonderful story with beautiful illustrations.

Amazing Matilda - A Monarch's Tale - Book cover - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

About the Book                                                                                                                                                             This inspirational tale of a Monarch butterfly and her meadowland friends is the second children’s book written and illustrated by Bette A. Stevens. AMAZING MATILDA becomes discouraged when she is unable to fly during the early stages of her metamorphosis. But, this amazing Monarch never gives up on her dream. Encouraged by her meadowland friends, MATILDA learns that if she tries long enough and hard enough, she can do anything that she really wants to do. AMAZING MATILDA will inspire readers and listeners alike, not only to follow their own dreams, but to encourage others to do the same! – Courtesy of  Bette A. Stevens

About the Author

Bette A. Stevens received her B.S. in Elementary Education from the University of Maine at Orono before embarking on graduate courses in Curriculum Studies at Chapman University in California. Following a rewarding career in the business world at a Maine-based construction company, she taught in elementary and middle school classrooms in California and Virginia. She and her husband are now retired and living in Central Maine, where they enjoy trips to the coast and gardening when they’re not renovating their 37-acre farmstead. They have two daughters and five grandchildren. Stevens enjoys gardening, walking, reading, writing, drawing, painting and  Read more…

My Review of  Amazing Matilda – A Monarch’s Tale                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      From the very first illustration I was hooked on this book. I am an absolute sucker for unique, hand-painted art work. The author did not disappoint here. And then came the tale; an engaging, informative and  touching tale about a caterpillar who became a beautiful, self-assured butterfly (full story from egg to imago).  When we first meet Matilda she is just emerging from her egg and her first and only wish is to fly, which, of course, she cannot do.   Her meadowland friends, seeing she has no wings, encourage her to be patient and not to give up, but to rely upon her instincts and to keep trying. They reinforce this advice by relating stories of their own efforts as youngsters. This book conveys a wonderful message to children. A message about patience and self-belief, and that if you have your heart set on something, and try hard enough, you will get there in the end. It is a beautifully written book and a worthy addition to any child’s bookshelf.

Get Your Copy on Amazon           See more books by Bette A. Stevens           Blog

Butterfly illustration from Amazing Matilda - A Monarch's Tale - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Up, up, up went Matilda, soaring high above …

Sparrow illustration from Amazing Matilda - A Monarch's Tale - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

“Why Matilda, me dear, you are amazing!”

An illustration of Matilda as an imago - from Amazing Matilda -A Monarch's Tale - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Before long, a green coverlet surrounded every bit of …

Children’s Book of the Week: A Father’s Wish – the Tale of King Big Bear the Fat by Christine Corretti


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I am extremely honoured to be able to share the work of fellow children’s author, Christine Corretti, here on my website. Christine is exceptionally talented. As well as authoring the delightful  A Father’s Wish – the Tale of King Big Bear the Fat, the first book in the King Big Bear the Fat series, she has also created all the illustrations for the same, by hand.

‘About’ – Courtesy of Christine Corretti

King Big Bear's Castle - sample image: Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa ConstrictorDiscover a unique world of fantasy, enchantment, beauty and learning for all ages in The Chronicles of King Big Bear.  Here, you will meet a royal figure who is hundreds of years old, but who never grows old!  The king will take you on a journey throughout history and even show you what his present day life is like.  As you shall see, his realm is filled with riches, and he is blessed with many animal friends and family.  It is no wonder that King Big Bear is called the Father of Nature, for he is deeply inspired by all things living and believes his duty is to protect and nurture life.  He wishes you will do the same.  Come in and explore the world of King Big Bear the Fat!

My Review of A Father’s Wish – the Tale of King Big Bear the Fat

A Father’s Wish is an enchanting tale about conservation and the protection of wolves. It is filled with adorable animal characters, save one, and beautiful illustrations. King Big Bear the Fat, our hero, starts to feel something is missing in his otherwise perfect life. With a little inadvertent help from his sister, he soon realises just what this is, and goes on to adopt a very lovable wolf cub. Unfortunately things don’t quite turn out the way he hopes. I found myself needing to read on in the hope of a happy ending here.

I would recommend this book for children of all ages. Parents are sure to enjoy reading this to smaller children and those old enough to read it themselves will, no doubt, take great delight in it. Definitely a 5 star read!

Read more reviews on Amazon                      Buy on Amazon                     Website

The King reading in his castle - An illustration by Christine Corretti

A Father's Wish - the Tale of King Big Bear the Fat - Book Cover - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor