Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


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

“Children’s Book of the Week – The Story of Solomon Bear by Phillip Laird
Available as an eBook $6.69 and in Paperback $8.99

The Story of Solomon Bear

Solomon Bear is the adored teddy bear of an unnamed young girl growing up in a house where she is neither loved nor wanted.  The bear and the child are devoted to each other in this warm, feel-good story for children.  The little girl is never allowed ‘outside’ and she and Solomon spend hours together playing hide-and-seek, dancing, and expressing their deep, never-to-end love for each other.  Then, sadly, the cold-hearted step-mother makes a decision; the little girl has grown too old for such nonsense and the bear has to go.  What worse fate for a young child than to be threatened with the loss of something she loves so much.

The distraught little girl runs away and Solomon is left alone.  His last glimpse of his dearest friend, his kindred soul, sees her running towards the forbidding forest.  When she doesn’t return, his heart is broken and he begins to ask himself if their love was as real and as lasting, and as unforgettable as they had both said it would be.  Eventually, unable to bear (please forgive the pun) her loss any longer, Solomon seeks the advice of the other toys, toys he has never mixed with before, to find a way to leave the house and go in search of his beloved companion.

Phillip Laird’s The Story of Solomon Bear is a beautifully, poetically written tale about the strength of an innocent, enduring love and a bond which cannot be broken.  In parts it may be a little too gushy for some, but it is still undoubtedly a wonderful read, which I think which will become a classic one day.  Claudia Gadotti’s illustrations, in black and white, are simply gorgeous, too.

Whatever your age, if you have ever loved a teddy bear, you will be enthralled by this emotive book.  It is a total delight to read, either quietly or out loud.  There are a few good lessons in there, too.  I highly recommend this story and am giving it five solid stars.

The Story of Solomon Bear would ideally be suited to ages five and over.

Other books I have reviewed

Surprise in Auntie’s Garden! by Ann Morris
Available as an eBook $7.57 and in Hardcover $12.34

Surprise in Auntie's GardenWhat a beautiful ‘surprise’ this book turned out to be.  It tells the story of an aunt and the very special relationship she has with her niece, Erin.  Together they share an interest in the garden and its flowers. Discovering a new inhabitant one day, Erin learns how to identify a particular caterpillar, or worm as she thinks it is, and slowly sees it develop into a beautiful monarch butterfly.

The extremely colourful illustrations are stunning and the text well-written and educational.  Children are able to learn about the monarch’s feeding and migratory habits, and how its life develops – all in very simple, easy-to-read sentences.  For those not yet old enough to read, most adults will probably enjoy reading this aloud, at least I did.

According to the book’s introduction, Erin is the niece and God-daughter of the author, so this is in its way a true story, making it all the more endearing.

I couldn’t fault this book.  Well done to author Ann Morris.  An excellent book for any child interested in nature.  I am giving it a positive five stars.

Surprise in Auntie’s Garden! would be best suited to ages four and over.

The Water Lily Fairy by Mary Ann Vitale
Available as an eBook $2.06 and in Paperback $12.60

The Water Lily FairyWhen a group of fairies fly over a village, one fairy elects not to fly on, but stay and hide amongst the water lilies.  Cleverly camouflaged as a lily bud, she is able to hear the conversations of the children nearby. Later she leaves the safety of the lily pond to look around.  She flies over the village and notices how poor the people are.  She then makes a kind, conscious decision to help them.   But, after the first gift of rose petals, which lifts their day, the children want more. After which, the adults have a suggestion too.

This short little book is well-written and nicely illustrated.   For young children who believe in fairies (and I am assuming all do), this is just right – short enough and bright enough to hold their attention to the end.  I am not sure about the message of giving someone everything they ask for, but there is certainly a good message about helping those less fortunate and how giving has its own rewards.  

This is a sweet little book and I can imagine it will be enjoyed by a lot of children.  Five stars for the kind fairy.

The Water Lily Fairy would be best suited to ages three to five years.

Prince Avian Rules the Pool by Scarlett Raines
Available as an eBook $4.10

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAPrince Avian Rules the Pool revolves around the young Prince Avian of the title.  A seemingly ordinary little boy in all other things  (kind, obedient and helpful) he takes on a whole new persona when he visits the pool to play with his friends.  There we see a selfish, high-handed, uncaring boy determined everyone should play by his rules.

“Well, I make the rules and that’s the rule.  You have to do it my way,”  is one of his favourite sayings.

Avian’s friends, tired of his imperious attitude, stop playing with him.  One friend tries to tell him about his bad behaviour, but he doesn’t want to listen.  As a result, he is left lonely and bored at the side of the pool, watching everyone else having fun.

All of this is witnessed by Avian’s grandmother, sitting quietly by the pool, who offers a few long-overdue words of wisdom, allowing him to see where he is going wrong.  Had his grandmother not intervened then, the potential for Avian to turn into a long-term bully may well have developed.  But, instead he learned his lesson and became more receptive to the needs of others, and began to listen and share.  This brought about another awakening – second chances do come along.

This is a well-written, easy-to-read and enjoyable book highlighting the need for learning the right social skills;  showing how one’s conduct towards others is so important when it comes to making friends.  Skilfully woven into this are the lessons of acknowledging and respecting the needs of others and doing unto them as you would have them do unto you – the Golden Rule we would all do far better to live by.

All in all, a great little read to which I am giving five stars, and I shall be looking forward to reading more in this series from Scarlett Raines.

Prince Avian Rules the Pool would be best suited to ages five and upwards.

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All my reviews can be found on Amazon and, where possible, Goodreads.
Book Covers with links can also be found on my Pinterest  account on the board ‘Books I Have Reviewed’
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 any changes.

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Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


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

Children’s Book of the Week – Sir Stan the Bogeyman by Stacie Morrell
Available as an eBook $3.13 and in Paperback $8.16

Sir Stan the BogeymanThe age-old story of the bogeyman is one most of us will be very familiar with.  Here, the author weaves a delightful tale, telling us how the bogeyman first became the man he is.  The man, many generations of children know so well and fear so much.  And, how, with a little help from the right source, the misunderstood bogeyman would be able to find his much-needed change in his life.

Sir Stan the Bogeyman is desperate to tell his own story.  Under normal circumstances, few wish to listen to him.  Upon first sight, children either hide under the covers or run away.  But, one little girl, kindly and willingly, sits still long enough to hear what he has to say.  And, by having overcome her fear and doing this, she helps the bogeyman to redeem himself for past misdeeds.

Ms Morrell has written a beautiful, enveloping short story, told in rhyme, which keeps the reader entranced to the end.  The rhyming is mostly excellent, though, I did think it faltered just a tad in places.  This did not, however, detract from my enjoyment of this enchanting little book.

The story is well told and the exceptional illustrations, by Elizabeth Berg, are a joy.  The moral is worthy: take the time to listen to others; open your mind and give them a chance, and your fears of the unknown may well be alleviated.  There is a lesson in the possible consequences of good and bad behaviour subtly woven in, too.

All-in-all this is an original and fun read, which I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone. (5 stars)   
Sir Stan the Bogeyman would be best suited to ages 5 years and upwards. 

Other books I have reviewed

The March of the Toymakers by Julianne Victoria
Available on Amazon as an eBook $3.13 and in Paperback $8.99

The March of the Toymakers coverSanta’s workshop, far away at the North Pole, is suffering from a severe shortage of elves.  With the start of the New Year preparations for the following Christmas getting dangerously close to being underway, Santa is beginning to panic.  Now, as anyone knows, this is entirely the wrong time of year for such a dearth.  Toys need making for all the children in the world to open and enjoy at Christmas next, and without sufficient toy makers there will not be enough toys to go round.  The burden is placed upon Chief Toymaker, Nissa, to solve the problem.

Armed only with some lines of enigmatic verse and a magic sword, and accompanied by his favourite reindeer, Rudolph, Nissa gathers his chosen companions as they ready to embark on their quest to find the Fair Feather Maid.   She is the only one who can  provide the much-needed extra workforce.  Forewarned of the journey’s dangers, the elves set out aware that to save Christmas, not only must they overcome these perils, but, they must meet Santa’s deadline and be back at the North Pole by Midsummer’s Eve.  The fierce opposition, however, is clearly determined not to let them do this.

The March of the Toymakers is an action-filled adventure story involving a whole cornucopia of evil, fabled creatures such as ugly trolls, wailing banshees and gruesome ogres.  Throw in a few secret gates, scary forests and long, blood-curdling battles, and you have the ideal adventure story for children.

This is a very enjoyable book which I would have no hesitation in recommending.  The plot is tight, well-written and contains just enough ‘scare’ to keep children interested without frightening them too much.  This is a perfect Christmas book, but, I wouldn’t describe it as just a book for Christmas.  Although it does focus on the spirit of Christmas giving, and Santa does feature at the beginning and end, it stands up on its own as a tale which can be read at any time of year.

The characters are well-developed and on the whole likeable.  The descriptions of the mythological creatures are clever – not too long, just enough to get the right mental image.  The scenes are depicted in a creative manner, and there is plenty of action, too.

In all, a delightful little fairy tale and lots fun. (5 stars)
The March of the Toymakers would be best suited to ages 5 years and upwards

An Unexpected Adventure by D. X. Dunn
Available on Amazon as an eBook $1.26 and in Paperback $3.75

An Unexpected AdventureAn Unexpected Adventure is the story of two young boys who, having grown up together, are now living hundreds of miles apart.  Christmas is here and Chris is missing his life-long friend Alex.  Bored with the same old round of family activities, Chris goes to his room to check his email for messages.  Just as he hoped, there is one from his dear friend.

Alex is a whiz with computers, in particular interactive computer games, and he has just discovered a new website offering more interaction than usual.   Via his computer, Alex found himself transported to the land of Distania and back.  A land filled with adventure, mystery, magic and dragons, and a young prince who is hard to trust.  Having come this far, he is more than anxious that the cautious Chris comes with him on his next trip.

Unsure of the wisdom of this adventure, and having been told by his mother he has only thirty minutes before leaving the house to visit a relative, Chris reluctantly follows Alex’s online instructions and finds himself on the same journey his friend had taken earlier. Alex travels the same route again.  The two boys meet up for the first time since Alex and his family moved away.  The adventure opens up before them.

An Unexpected Adventure is a sort of good old-fashioned adventure story, brought up-to-date with the introduction of modern technology.  This is a great book with just the right amount of everything.  Action, excitement, not too scary surprises, a few mysterious characters and a non true-to-type dragon.  It is short, well-written and keeps the reader’s attention throughout the whole book.  The scenes are well-described, as are the dragons.  The idea may not be entirely original, but it is very well-executed.  Both boys behave just as you would like innocent ten-year-olds to do; which is very refreshing, to say the least.

The ending of An Unexpected Adventure left me wanting to read more.  So hopefully, the next book, in what I presume must be a series, will be out soon. (5 stars)
An Unexpected Adventure would be best suited to ages 9 to 12 years

Journey to Jazzland by Gia Volterra de Saulnier
Available on Amazon as an eBook $5.20 – In Hardcover $14.36 and in Paperback $8.52

Journey to JazzlandBored with playing the same music over and over again in the same orchestra, and wanting the freedom to play her own music from the heart, Windy Flute makes a huge decision. Having heard of the legendary Jazzland, where instruments are free to ad lib, Windy decides to go there.

But, getting there alone is not an option.  She needs friends, other instruments, to go with her to make her sounds ‘fuller’.  When Windy finds these willing instruments, they team up and head for Jazzland together.

Journey to Jazzland provides an opportunity for children, and adults, to learn a little about jazz and other music.  It is well-written and very readable, and the illustrations by Emily Zierothare are an absolute delight. There are some nice moments when the instruments learn, when finding a bridge they need to cross, that they can only cross it with team work.

Short, sweet and instructive and well deserving of five stars.  (5 Stars)
Journey to Jazzland would be well-suited to any child with an interest in music.

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

Book Covers with links can also be found on my Pinterest Board – ‘Books I Have Reviewed’

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 any changes.

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Book Blast: The Trouble with Toads by Danyelle Leafty


 

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trouble with toads book cover

Once upon a time a young girl wanted revenge. But first, she wanted to be beautiful.

Twelve-year-old Bettony has read enough stories that begin with ‘Once upon a time’ to know what happens to the ugly stepsisters at the end, and she’s determined to escape that fate by any means necessary—even by magic.

Unfortunately, when it comes to magic, there is no place for regret, refunds, or exchanges. Even if you accidentally turn your older sister into a toad.

If Bettony wants her Happily Ever After to end well, she’s going to have to find a way to turn her sister back into a person before their mother finds out she’s been dabbling with magic and grounds her for life.

Tracking down the family magic turns out to be surprisingly easy. Now, if only it came with directions . . .

THE TROUBLE WITH TOADS (45,000 words) is the first book in a new upper MG series The Secret Stepsister Society. The second book will be released Summer 2013.

Amazon

danyelleAuthor Danyelle Leafty

Danyelle Leafty writes upper MG and YA fantasy, and is the author of THE FAIRY GODMOTHER DILEMMA series. Danyelle has always loved fairy tales, and prefers stories where someone gets eaten, or at the very least, transmogrified. Much of her inspiration has come from fairy tales, because as G.K. Chesterton so aptly states, “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

In her spare time, she collects dragons, talking frogs, and fairy godmothers. She also collects books, and one day hopes to make a house out of them. She enjoys learning languages, fiddling with her harp, and perfecting the fine art of mothering. (It’s a lot like trying to herd chickens during a lightning storm while a goat stampede is going on.)

One of her heroes is Albert Einstein, particularly for the following quote: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The most important thing is not to stop questioning.”

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Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 6/10/13

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. Prize value $50 US.

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