Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


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Welcome to another week of children’s book reviews.  As ever, I hope you will enjoy my 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 Tales of Big and Little: Doom of the Three Stones by Josh Kilen
Available on Amazon: eBook $3.07 and in Paperback $7.99

I never imagined I would like a story containing Ninja Pizza crusts and cheese.  It all sounded rather, well quite frankly, cheesy to me.  But no! Josh Kilen’s masterful story-telling makes this all work really well, providing a story that is captivating, highly entertaining and extremely imaginative. Please read my review below.

Big and Little featured Children's Book of the Week on Mungai and the Goa ConstrictorMy Review

Big and Little are two dogs hooked on cheese, and anything else that lists it as an ingredient. This inordinate addiction takes them on a wild adventure to a magical world where beleaguered gnomes battle against dynamic Ninja Pizza crusts, and other edible adversaries, all led by a power-hungry and destructive cat called Shir. Shir’s ultimate aim is to take over the Worlds.

Whilst unsuccessfully trying to steal some cheese (two vicious guard dogs are in attendance), Big and Little come across a gnome. After bribing Big and Little with the promise of help to access the cheese, the gnome persuades them to help him with his own problem. Blinded by greed, they both hastily agree to do just that. Having done so, they follow the gnome down a hole into a magical tunnel and back into his world where the adventure begins. Here they encounter all manner of scary things, such as evil forests and swamp monsters and, of course, the terrifying and wicked Shir.

This book is lots of fun and quite hard to put down, especially as every episode ends with a cliff-hanger. There are no pictures, but the storyline is gripping enough to keep children interested. The characters are, to say the least, unusual, but also enjoyable. And our heroes practise the perfect ethics of: Whatever they start; they finish. When it comes to others; they apply the Golden Rule. Both excellent ideals for children!

Despite there are a few deaths in this, I don’t think it makes it sad for young children. At least some deaths should not. After all, who can lament the passing of a pizza crust? The battle scenes, however, may be a tad scary for some younger readers.

This book is part one of the series and I can’t wait to read the others. In all, this is a highly entertaining and worthwhile read. My only criticism; this book is listed as a ‘bedtime’ read.  I think it is an ‘anytime’ read.  (5 stars)

(The Tales of Big and Little would be ideally suited to ages 6 and upwards)

Other Books I Have Reviewed

Sock Full of Pennies by Danny Dean   
Available on Amazon: eBook $3.01 and in Paperback $13.91

This book is about a boy, incessantly bullied at school and perpetually and brutally abused by his father at home, who progresses from being one of the poorest boys in the community to an impossibly rich coal magnate.  All of which is achieved with hard work, persistence, kindness to others and a good deal of foresight.
Rusty Sledge, the protagonist, begins his life in a small town in West Virginia.  He is of above average intelligence, and as a result does well at school, but due to extreme poverty and his father’s treatment of him, he arrives there each day shabbily dressed, tired and often bruised. He also has unkempt red hair and spots, and is small for his age. This all leads to an unwarranted amount of bullying by Barry Buckley, the wealthy son of a local coal mine owner whose father Rusty’s father works for.  Barry is privileged, spoilt, not very bright, over-weight and has a very nasty streak in him. He is also of the impression that whatever he does, right or wrong, his father will bail him out. Sadly this is often the case. Barry bullies and torments Rusty year after year until Rusty fills his only good sock (there are no holes in it!) with the 446 pennies he has saved from his odd jobs. He then retaliates, inflicting a great deal of pain upon Barry. From here begins a story which spans three continents. It is a story about peaceful retribution, honesty in all things, determination and taking care of those who mean the most to you. But above all, it is a story of inherent goodness conquering deep-rooted evil.
This is a book which is very difficult to put down. It is clear author Danny Dean has a vast, in-depth knowledge of the coal mining industry, and has shared much of this with the reader, but not in an overly technical or long-winded way, but instead has created an interesting and enjoyable learn-as-you-go text (for those of us unfamiliar with the running of and workings of mines – personally, I gleaned quite a lot from this).
I would also like to stress this book does contain violence. It is definitely not for young children. However, the story is beautifully told, and the violence is far from gratuitous and, indeed, very pertinent to the overall narrative. Though I did notice a (very) few mistakes, it in no way spoilt my enjoyment of this book. (5 stars)
(Sock Full of Pennies would be best suited to 14 years plus)

Raindrop’s World by Carl Pettit
Available on Amazon: eBook $1.22 and in Paperback $9.99

Raindrop’s World is a collection of short interwoven stories about some of the smaller creatures that inhabit the Amazonian Rainforest – several ants, a dung beetle who lives amongst them, and a sage old tree frog. Led on by Pollen (a leafcutter ant), Little Clay (the dung beetle) goes on an adventure into another part of the rainforest to meet Raindrop (another leafcutter) at the bottom of the Giant Kapok tree.  Raindrop wants to climb to the top of the Kapok tree to find a wise and very elusive old tree frog known as the Guru. She has many questions for him and is expecting him to have all the answers. They set off up the tree together. Unfortunately, due to the lateness of the day, Pollen and Raindrop abandon Little Clay half way up the tree. They find a unique way of getting to the bottom quickly, and he is left all alone in unfamiliar surroundings. Not to be phased by this, Little Clay braves it out and continues with some adventures of his own.
This book is wonderful, and it is so good to read a book about the smaller creatures of the rainforest. Though, we do get to briefly meet a jaguar, a finch and an imaginary armadillo!
The characters are sweet and funny and there are some great little maps of the rainforest and cute illustrations of the characters.  I highly recommend this book for young readers. (4 stars)
(Raindrop’s World would be best suited to ages 5 and upwards)

My T-Rex Has a Toothache by Elwyn Tate
Available on Amazon: eBook $2.10

This is a short rhyming book about a little boy’s pet dinosaur and how he takes him to the dentist to cure his toothache. When the dentist is unable to cure him, he takes his T-Rex to school. Still no luck! So the little boy then has an idea of his own.
This is engaging and fun, and the illustrations are colourful and captivating. I do not own a Kindle Fire, so I cannot speak first hand, but I am told they work very well on it. The smallest member of my family (2 years) loved this little book and insisted on my reading it over and over again. She also took great delight in roaring with the dinosaur. (4 stars)
(My T-Rex Has a Toothache would be best suited to 2 -6 years)

***

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.

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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.

 

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.