Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


 

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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: The Giving Tree by David Lee Martin
Available on Amazon as an eBook $3.09

‘The Giving Tree’ by David Lee Martin is not to be confused with the best-selling, and once controversial, ‘The Giving Tree’ by Shel Silverstein, first published in 1964.  Mr Martin’s book is far less provocative, but no less profound and leans more towards the sharing than the simple take, take, take. I have to say the book of the same title by Silverstein was never one of my favourite reads, even in younger days; seeing the boy grow from child to elderly man, stripping his benefactor of all and giving nothing in return with dire consequences.  Although there are many opposing interpretations of this plot, to me it was simply disheartening; whereas David Lee Martin’s story is far more child-friendly, loving, and uplifting, and has great illustrations to boot. Please read my full review below.

The Giving Tree ReviewMy Review

A very selfish and greedy dragon, Ethel the Red (love that!), lives in a small cave where she keeps all her treasured possessions. Ethel is a great hoarder and lives amongst a mountain of goodies purloined from others. She also has a real problem sharing anything with anyone. Terrified of someone else benefitting from her belongings, which are now spilling from her cave, she decides to move the whole caboodle to a larger and safer place.

Her new choice of residence is a beautiful oasis furnished with nothing more than a small picket fence with a sign saying “The Giving Tree – Please Do Not Cross” So determined is the wilful Ethel to do whatever she wants to do, and never what anyone else asks her to do or not do, she decides this is just the spot for her. “It shall be mine, mine, mine!”, she selfishly cries.

Having made her decision she flies back to her cave to collect her goodies. Dumping them on the lush green grass, with no regard whatsoever for the poor little sapling beneath them, Ethel then goes about her usual business of grabbing and snatching anything she has taken a fancy to; this time it is a small child’s teddy bear. Ethel flies back with her booty to her mountain of plunder only to find a storm has scattered all her possessions so far they can no longer be seen. The only thing she can see is the grateful, but withered, sapling. Then after spending a year in a huge sulk, dragons are apparently prone to long sulks, life begins to take on a whole new meaning as the sapling, having been left free to grow, has turned into a beautiful and bountiful tree. Thus begins Ethel’s conversion.

I like this book, a lot.  It is well-written and fun.  I enjoyed the descriptions and phrases used. The illustrations are colourful and endearing and the message is delivered in a simple and easy to understand way. David Lee Martin does a great job here with this by showing children just how important it is to both give and share, and to forgive and be nice to others. He takes the most self-centred creature of its kind and transforms it into a loving, giving animal, thus showing how even the toughest hearts can be won over.

In all; an inspiring and hugely readable book illustrating some true values. (5 stars)

(The Giving Tree would be best suited to ages 4 years and upwards)

Other Books I Have Reviewed

The Magical World of Twigshire ReviewThe Magical World of Twigshire by Judi Light
Available on Amazon as an eBook $3.96 and in Paperback $10.30

The Magical World of Twigshire is a collection of vignettes revolving around the enchanting occupants of Twigshire village. We meet such characters as Hortense, Emelda Flapjacket, Mr Bumberdorn and Scrum and Angelo, as they go about their daily lives doing wonderful things.

We can even learn how to make ‘Limp Imp Soup’.  That was one of my favourites.  It seems, after you have made your soup, you can dry out the imps, the main ingredient, and re-use them time and time again, and…they don’t mind a bit.

Gifted author and artist Judi Light has created a work filled with whimsical and entrancing illustrations, which are really more like lovable caricatures, and which I personally found reminiscent of the great (late) satirical cartoonist Ronald Searle. Ms Light’s illustrations are glorious; vibrant, highly detailed and so beautifully drawn that you can look at them forever and still keep seeing more. In fact, the whole book is absolutely charming; loaded with touches of magic and sweet little messages about feeling good inside.  Beautifully written in a mixture of text and poetry, the reader is transported into a captivating world of happiness, kindness and the enjoyment of life. There is just so much for young children to enjoy (and adults too) and so many lessons for them to learn. Utter magic! (5 stars)

(The Magical World of Twigshire would be best suited to ages 5 years and upwards)

Green Kitty ReviewGreen Kitty by Alexandra Faer Bryan
Available on Amazon in Paperback $24.74

This book took me completely by surprise. I was expecting a book about a cat.  Instead I found myself reading a wonderful story about a beautiful and much loved grandmother suffering from Alzheimer’s. Our young narrator, with her family, visits her grandmother continuously in the assisted living home where she lives. Grandma is also a great story teller, and upon each visit she promises to tell the story of the Green Kitty.  Each time she fails to remember the details, and instead tells another story, often involving the family themselves or their animals. Until, one day Grandma remembers all about the Green Kitty and the tale is told.

The little girl didn’t mind waiting for the story; she adored her grandmother and was totally aware of her illness; her parents had explained the symptoms to her very carefully. A kindly aunt even likened the grandmother’s continued repetition of things to reading a good book more than once or watching re-runs on television.  Indeed, within the family, all aspects of the Grandmother’s illness are accepted and life carries on with one or two slight adjustments.

I loved this book – in fact, I read it twice. It is brimming over with love and compassion, and filled with subtle ideas for approaching the subject of dementia and telling children exactly what it is. Sometimes the sufferer’s pattern of behaviour can be quite upsetting, not in an offensive way, but in an emotional way, and often children do not understand this.  They can become extremely confused when someone so precious as a grandparent, or any loved one for that matter, succumbs to such an illness. It must be very difficult to explain why the one they love is not behaving the way they know so well, and hiding the truth may not be the way forward. Alexandra Faer Bryan has done a marvellous job here in The Green Kitty, showing that the lives of those with dementia are still filled with purpose and there are ways to deal with it. And… the animal stories are very enjoyable too. (5 stars)

(The Green Kitty would be best suited to children old enough to understand)

Katy, The One-eyed Cat ReviewKaty – The One-Eyed Cat by Tony Dunne
Available on Amazon as an eBook $4.68

Loosely based on a true story, this is sweet, nicely illustrated book telling the sequence of events from Katy, a neglected and abused cat,  being found by an elderly couple who are unable to keep her, to her eventually being adopted by another couple who put aside their original needs and think first of Katy’s.

The book’s merit lies in illustrating how we should look beyond an animal’s disabilities when considering adoption. It shows children the process involved in re-homing an animal and enforces the idea that no creature should be discriminated against because of any special needs they may have; that all deserve the same chances and the same amount of love. What is also great is that the author does explain why the first (very responsible) couple decide not to keep Katy.

This is an enjoyable and heart-warming little book with some lovely illustrations, and one which should strike a chord with many. (4 stars)

(Katy – The One-Eyed Cat would be best suited to ages 4 years plus)

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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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Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


Mungai and the Goa Constrictor banner

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: Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney
Available on Amazon in Hardcover $9.71 – Paperback $9.22 – Board Book $6.90

There is very little not to like about this book.  Though some critics seem to have found it lacking (very few, I might add), I think it deserves a place amongst the very best of children’s books. It has a great message and an unusual combination of father and son as the two characters involved. Above all, it illustrates the scale of how great a parent’s love for a child can be. 

Guess How Much I Love You - Book CoverMy Review

When I first saw the cover of this book, I automatically, and wrongly,  surmised the two hares were mother and daughter. But having now read it, I see both are male, by which I am going to assume, though not once is it stated, that they are father and son; which must make this book fairly unique! Whatever their relationship, this is a tale concerning two hares who clearly adore each other. Big and Little Nutbrown Hare both try and outdo each other with statements of how much love they feel for one another. Little Nutbrown Hare is the first with the challenge: “Guess how much I love you”, holding tightly on to his doting father’s ears. Having carefully listened to just how much, Big Nutbrown Hare tops it with another declaration of how much he loves him back. In fact, whenever Little Nutbrown Hare does tell Big Nutbrown Hare how much he does love him, Big Nutbrown Hare always manages to go one better.  Until that is, just before going to sleep, Little Nutbrown Hare gets in the finest avowal yet, which Big Nutbrown Hare struggles to best. But, as Little Nutbrown Hare closes his eyes, Big Nutbrown Hare comes up with the best of all, which he whispers to his sleeping son.

This could all sound rather sentimental and treacly, which some may find it, but it is also incredibly endearing, and so many parents will be able to identify with this when saying these words to their own child or children.

This beautiful bedtime story shows very small children how to express themselves in the best possible way, and parents how to respond – though I doubt many parents will need much tuition with this one. The words are so natural and familiar to us all.

This is an absolute gem of a book.  The illustrations are perfect and the dialogue a delight. I highly recommend it. That is, if you don’t already own a copy! (5 stars)

(Guess How Much I Love You would be best suited to an early a start as possible to parenthood)

Other Books I Have Reviewed

 The Open Pillow Book CoverThe Open Pillow by David Rowinski
Available on Amazon as an eBook $2.95 and in Paperback $9.89

The pillow in the title begins life as a very small pillow with an inherent awareness of its own opportunities. The pillow also has big dreams, and steadfastly fulfils them, thus realising its own potential. Lying in a flower bed, various creatures visit pillow, each larger than the one before. Forever embracing the challenge, unfolding and doubling in size, pillow attempts to accommodate them all. He continues to grow until eventually he is fit for the purpose he was meant for; his place in life being found.

When first asked to review this book, I was not quite sure what to expect. What I found upon reading was the most delightful and beautifully written book, akin to a modern fairy tale. It conveys a terrific message about persevering until you reach your goal. I have never read anything quite like this before, at least not in modern literature – in fact, David Rowinski seems to have created a story that is really quite unique. And, to add to the joy, there are the fabulous, near magical illustrations by artist Dea Lenihan, which bring the book to life.

I highly recommend The Open Pillow. I have no doubt it will one day become a children’s classic, or at least I hope it will.  (5 stars)

(The Open Pillow would be best suited to 2 years and upwards)

Daisy Cooper and the Sisters of the Black Night BookCoverDaisy Cooper and the Sisters of the Black Night by Robert Dee
Available on Amazon as an eBook $3.04 and in Paperback $10.99

Daisy, unhappy at her ordinary, run-of-the-mill  junior school, and far from looking forward to the transition to the next stage of education,  wins a place at an unconventional boarding school, Darlington School for Girls. Here all sorts of bizarre opportunities present themselves and education moves to a whole new level. Pupils are taught maths using poker games, rockets are fired in science and biology involves real live animals from the school’s zoo.

Having managed to get lost in the school’s maze, Daisy discovers a secret society known as the Sisters of the Black Night. All activities of the Sister’s take place under cover of darkness, presumably hence the name, and Daisy becomes highly suspicious of their activities.  But she must make a few decisions first before choosing her way forward. Should she follow her dream of becoming an International reporter with the school magazine or should she expose the dark secret of the Sisters of the Black Night.

Daisy Cooper and the Sisters of the Black Night is a wonderfully old-fashioned girl’s adventure story of the sort not often found at the moment.  And, not a single vampire or werewolf in sight!

Robert Dee clearly has a great imagination, and has put it all down here moving flawlessly from one escapade to the next. With a tight, highly entertaining and engaging plot, one very likeable heroine and some solid female supporting characters, this story is well worth reading.  And, you certainly won’t be bored with it.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to all who enjoy fun-filled fantasy and adventure. (5 stars)

(Daisy Cooper and the Sisters of the Black Night would be best suited to 10 years and upwards)

Brownie Runs Away Book CoverBrownie Runs Away by Nana B
Available on Amazon as an eBook $1.17

This is a sweet little book about a bear cub, a very spoilt one, who disobeys his mother and finds out the hard way what a great error of judgement that was.

Winter comes and the bear family ready themselves for hibernation, but the little bear, Brownie, wants none of it.  He has no intention of being cooped up in a cave all winter when he could be outside playing. So Brownie runs away. And slowly, as the snow starts to fall and he becomes cold and hungry, it begins to dawn upon him he has made a big mistake. He finds shelter in a log for the first night away from home, but is then seen off by a small creature he thinks is a cat.  Then he meets a huge, fearsome beast, but the result is far better.

This is a well-written and very appealing story which teaches children the wisdom of listening to their parents and doing as they are told, employing the familiar adage – “Parents Know Best”.  It is also quite touching when, not to give too much away, Brownie forms a lasting friendship with another bear for the winter months. Children can also learn a little about hibernation in the book, which is quite valuable.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this.  It is a great little read aloud book, though I was not so smitten with the illustrations. They were a tad too simplistic for me, but they were very cute. I will certainly be checking out more of Nana B’s books.  (4 stars)

(Brownie Runs Away would be best suited to 3 years plus)

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

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.