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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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 World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney
Available on Amazon as an eBook $4.66 | Paperback $5.39 | Hardcover $12.08 | Audio $17.99

When I first opened this book, I wasn’t expecting anything quite so good. What a wonderful surprise. It’s funny, sometimes moving, very entertaining and filled with the sort of wisdom both children and adults will surely benefit from. A great little book! Please read my full review below.

Thec World According to HumphreyMy Review

Written from Humphrey the hamster’s perspective, The World According to Humphrey tells the story of his ‘liberation’ from a pet store to his life in the classroom, where he resides as a classroom pet in Room 26 at Longfellow School. Humphrey is totally besotted with Ms. Mac, his kind-hearted rescuer, not knowing that her post at the school is only a temporary one. Inevitably the day arrives when she must leave and the dreaded and hostile Mrs Brisbane returns. Unfortunately for Humphrey, the stone-hearted Mrs Brisbane “can’t stand rodents”.

Following the departure of his beloved Ms. Mac, Humphrey is left to go home each weekend with a different child or member of staff, an arrangement which changes his and their lives. Each home he visits is not without its share of problems; a mother cannot speak English, the Head Teacher is unable to command the same respect from his own children as he enjoys at school, the TV in one household is never switched off, and another child’s mother is sick. Humphrey puts his thinking cap on and helps these families to resolve their various issues. Needless to say, he is much-loved by all who meet him and even the ones who don’t take to him straight away are eventually won over. While all this is taking place, Humphrey is slipping in and out of his cage, by opening the “lock-that-doesn’t-lock”, and at the same time managing to get an education.

I really did like this book. The humour is intelligent and innocent. I particularly like the way Humphrey has named the children – after the teacher’s commands – “Repeat-That-Please-Richie”, “Stop-Giggling-Gail” and “Pay-Attention-Art” are just some of them – very clever. This is fast-paced, witty and highly entertaining. Humphrey’s understanding of his human counterparts and their problems is refreshing and insightful, ranging from the emotions of falling in love to the despair of having a sick parent, and being reticent about speaking out in class because of a language barrier. In most cases, as in life, the children’s behaviour in school reflects their situation at home, which here is sensitively dealt with.

This is an extremely enjoyable, well-written book which is loaded with lessons, all subtly woven in. “After all, you can learn a lot about yourself by getting to know another species” being Humphrey’s favourite  dictum. There is also a great deal to be learnt about caring for hamsters. Humphrey himself is adorable, compassionate, perceptive and funny. A great book which I highly recommend. (5 stars)

The World According to Humphrey would be best suited to ages 7 to 9

Other Books I Have Reviewed

There Are No Such Things As Dragons – Or Are There? By V. J. Wells
Available on Amazon as an eBook $3.19 and in Paperback $3.55

Amy and Argyle – There Are No Such Things As Dragons – Or Are ThereAmy, the tale’s protagonist, is eight years old when she is taken by her father to spend the summer with Aunt Morag and Uncle Angus, who live in ‘a real castle’ in Scotland. After arriving at their destination and eating dinner together, Uncle Angus lets slip that there may be a ‘wee dragon’ somewhere in the castle.

This is a captivating story of friendship and trust. Amy learns she can ‘speak dragon’ and how easy it is to form lasting friendships. It carries just the right amount of suspense to keep children on the edge without scaring them too much. The illustrations are delightful, the book is well-written, the descriptions are well-thought out, and it is short enough to keep the interest of all, whether reading or listening.

I enjoyed the storyline and the setting (Scotland being the perfect location, of course, for dragons). The story is quite poignant, since it involves two lonely subjects, and the ending is endearing; as are the characters. I read this to the youngest member of the family who is already asking for more of the same (are there any children who are NOT intrigued by stories of dragons?), so hopefully there will be more of the adventures of Amy and Argyll soon. Highly recommended (5 stars)

There Are No Such Things As Dragons – Or Are There? would be best suited to ages 4 to 7

Magical Stories by Annemarie Nikolaus
Available on Amazon as an eBook $2.96 and in Paperback $4.74

Magical StoriesMagical Stories is a book consisting of four short stories involving magicians, ghosts, animals, doing what is right, Santa Claus and more. Although one or two minor bits suggest English is not the first language of the author, it adds to the charm and I would consider this book intelligently and thoughtfully written. The vocabulary is excellent, though not geared toward the very young child. These are proper ‘fablish’ bedtime stories, like the ones many of us read as children – and many of the ones I read had also been translated into English. The tales are endearing and absorbing, and do indeed feel magical. My favourite was The Christmas Story with its lesson on consumerism and how Christmas has lost its true meaning. Well done to author Annemaria Nikolaus for offering something so utterly enchanting and beguiling, and refreshingly different. (5 stars)

Magical Stories would be best suited to ages 9 years and upwards

The Adventures of Brackenbelly – All in a Day’s Work by Gareth Baker
Available on Amazon as an eBook $1.53 and in Paperback $5.53

The Adventures of Brackenbelly

The much put upon Isomee Hogg-Bottom lives with her despicable uncle at Hogg-Bottom farm. Here she is happily going about her chores one day when a stranger, a legendary uma, arrives on their doorstep in the hope of buying one the uncle’s, again legendary, flying chostri. However, the uma – Brackenbelly, finds the uncle is not willing to sell him a chostri unless he is willing to help him in return. At night things have been happening outside the barn, indicating someone or something may be trying to get to the chostri on the inside of the barn. Whatever is afoot sounds extremely frightening and dangerous and the lazy uncle is not willing to investigate the matter himself. From here the reader is taken into the even darker side of the uncle’s nature and the good and kind side of the uma, as the adventure begins.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a short chapter book. Each chapter ending is equipped with its own cliffhanger urging the reader to continue. As the story progresses we learn more about Isomee’s relationship with her uncle and just how loathsome he really is (nothing here unsuitable for children – he’s just as mean as they get). We also see how deeply intelligent and compassionate the uma is and watch as his friendship with Isomee develops.

This is very well-written with excellent character descriptions, including the one of the chostri. It’s exciting, original and imaginative. Since this is the only one I have read, I am assuming in the next one we will learn of Isomee’s fate. Highly recommended.(5 stars)

The Adventures of Brackenbelly – All in a Day’s Work would be best suited to ages 10 plus

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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 price changes.

 

Book Blast: John William and the Bandits of Basswood


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banditsJohn William and the Bandits of Basswood

We already know Alexander Drake’s story. His father, John William started it all years before when he entered Azra’s Pith. This is his story. John William was born an explorer; just like his dad before him. His adventure really began with the worst year of his life. He lived everyday in misery until his twelfth birthday. He set out to turn things around and find his smile again. A new friend gave him an invitation he could not turn down… follow me and change your destiny. He never imagined being captured by bandits and taken to a ship riddled with river rats was part of his fate. Not just any bandits – the Bandits of Basswood; known to be a ruthless and wild crew of thieves. Trying to escape would be a ridiculous idea. No one has ever escaped and lived to tell about it. Someone should have mentioned that to John William before he snuck off the ship. The chase out of Basswood was on. He took a chance to change his destiny and ended up on a wild ride to save his life.

Amazon

lizzieAuthor Elizabeth Parkinson-Bellows

Being the frizzy-haired tomboy with buck teeth gave me a slight case of shyness as a kid. A colorful imagination meant escape and adventure at the drop of a hat.

Over the years I learned that the insecurities I carried around were a waste of time. I still prefer a football game to a manicure any day of the week. That indispensable imagination has found its way into my writing providing a sense of joy and a true purpose.

Website * Twitter * Facebook

Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 7/10/13

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 authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Spotlight: Matt Archer | Legend


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Matt Archer Legend - SpotlightMatt Archer | Legend
When Matt Archer was fourteen, he was chosen—by a magic, spirit-inhabited knife—to hunt monsters with a special paranormal division of the Army. When he was fifteen, he was thrown into a global war the rest of the world didn’t know existed.

Now Matt’s sixteen and the war has cost him more than he ever thought it would. He’s also learned that the knife-spirits have an agenda he doesn’t totally agree with. The only problem? The spirits have the upper hand, and they plan to control the fight—and Matt.

Then things get worse: the next lunar eclipse cycle is starting, a prominent physicist has gone missing, and Matt’s best friend is thinking about quitting the team. If he loses Will—after everyone else he’s lost—Matt’s not sure how he’ll fight alone.

As the source of his nightmares starts to creep out of the shadows, Matt knows he’ll need all the help he can get…because being alone could prove deadly.

Buy Links for Matt Archer: Legend

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Matt Archer: Blades Edge - Spotlight

Matt Archer: Blade’s Edge
When Matt Archer was fourteen, he discovered monsters are real. As if that wasn’t enough to go on for a few decades, Matt also found out that he’d been chosen to hunt those monsters–with a sentient, supernatural knife. Now fifteen, Matt has spent the last year working with a clandestine military unit, trying to rid the world of monsters, demons and other vicious creatures, all while keeping it a secret from nearly everyone he knows back home in Billings.

Including his mom.

Add in a new girlfriend, family secrets, sibling drama and enough homework to sink an aircraft carrier, and Matt’s life has become more complicated than he ever imagined. Worse, the knife has developed some very definite opinions about Matt’s personal life and it interferes in his business whenever it wants. More and more, Matt’s coming to realize that sharing brain-space with a spirit kind of sucks.

When stories of decimated towns and hordes of zombies start pouring into the Pentagon from Afghanistan, Matt knows he’ll be called up soon. Between the new mission and the knife’s increasing control over his mind, Matt wonders if he’ll survive long enough to take his driver’s exam.

Buy Links for Matt Archer: Blade’s Edge
Matt Archer: Monster Hunter - SpotlightMatt Archer: Monster Hunter

Fourteen-year-old Matt Archer spends his days studying Algebra, hanging out with his best friend and crushing on the Goddess of Greenhill High, Ella Mitchell. To be honest, he thinks his life is pretty lame until he discovers something terrifying on a weekend camping trip at the local state park.

Monsters are real. And living in his backyard.

But that’s not the half of it. After Matt is forced to kill a strange creature to save his uncle, he finds out that the weird knife he took from his uncle’s bag has a secret, one that will change Matt’s life. The knife was designed with one purpose: to hunt monsters. And it’s chosen Matt as its wielder.

Now Matt’s part of a world he didn’t know existed, working with a covert military unit dedicated to eliminating walking nightmares. Faced with a prophecy about a looming dark war, Matt soon realizes his upcoming Algebra test is the least of his worries.

His new double life leaves Matt wondering which is tougher: hunting monsters or asking Ella Mitchell for a date?

Buy Links for Matt Archer: Monster Hunter

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Author Kendra C. Highley

Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to two self-important and high-powered cats. This, according to the cats, is her most important job. She believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick-shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica.

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Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 7/9/13

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 authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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: 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.

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 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: Dragonasaurus Tales by Josephine Young
Each available on Amazon as an eBook  $3.04 and in Paperback $7.49

This week’s book of the week is in fact a series of five short books, and each one of them is just as good as the one before, if not better. The books are written in rhyme and each one tells a story, so I feel it is best to offer a short description of each book along with a few lines of text.

My Reviews

Baffin's Curiois Consequence - Review featured on Mungai and the Goa ConstrictorBaffin’s Curious Consequence (Dragonasaurus Tales)
Whilst asleep beneath a tree, Baffin, a young dragonasaurus, is woken by the great roar of his friend Dex; his idea of fun being, to sneak up on his pals and make them jump.  Baffin, like all the other dragonasaurus, is becoming rather fed up of Dex, and resolves to teach him a lesson. The final straw for Baffin had been when Dex had jumped out on his little sister Floss and made her cry.
“Baffin decided, “Enough is enough.
It’s clearly time someone got tough.
I think it might be time to fix,
naughty Dex with his frightening tricks.””
Baffin develops a master plan to lure Dex into a nearby cave and scare him. What follows surprises and frightens them both.

Baffin's Desire for Fire - Review featured on Mungai and the Goa ConstrictorBaffin’s Desire for Fire: Dragonasaurus Tales (Volume 1)
Baffin, anxious to grow up far faster than he should, has an uncontrollable desire to breathe fire, just like the older dragonasaurus do. His need is so great he is prepared to risk his own safety and travel through Trembly Wood and on to Fire Mountain, in search of the Great Fire Bird whom he believes will be able to help him. Unaware of the Grong, the terrible creature that wanders the woods, Baffin begins his journey.
“This monstrous creature had been stricken
with claws of a wolf and feet of a chicken!
These feet might look odd but mean it can race
right after its prey at a lightening pace.”
Inevitably Baffin comes face to face with the creature and needs to use all his wits to save himself.

Baffin's Sister Swap Scandal - Review featured on Mungai and the Goa ConstrictorBaffin’s Sister Swap Scandal: Dragonasaurus Tales
Baffin has built a sandcastle and is terribly proud of it. However, as he steps back to admire his work, his sister Floss comes bounding over in his direction and lands smack in the middle of his treasured display. Baffin is so mad he grabs her paw and strides off towards home with her. Then a stork crosses their path.  Upon which Floss declares, having learnt such things from her Uncle Max,  that storks deliver new babies to their new mums. Baffin immediately decides that this could be how to rid himself of Floss and swap her for a brother.
“Of course! Baffin screeched to a stop.
That stork could give him a sister swap!
In a flash he could see clear as day,
the storks were where the answer lay.”
But how much does he really value his little sister!

Bella's Dancing Dilemma - Review featured on Mungai and the Goa ConstrictorBella’s Dancing Dilemma: Dragonasaurus Tales
As you would expect, Dragonasaurus are not the most delicate of creatures. In fact, they are downright clumsy. Many of their kind accept this fact, except for Bella.  Bella’s greatest ambition is to become a dancer. Her friends tell her about a talent show which they are all going to enter – their special talents being focused upon stomping and breathing fire.  Bella sees her chance, but she must first learn how to dance. Whilst practising her simple steps she meets various new friends, all of whom give her heaps of encouragement and show her different dances and beats to try. But Bella, hard as she does try, is unable to dance and comes very close to giving up.
““That’s nonsense Bella you can’t quit now.
You can dance, you just need to know how.
If you relax, your body will find its own beat
then you can strut on your funky feet.””
But, will Bella eventually get the hang of it and feel confident enough to enter the talent contest!

 Izzy's Flying Disaster - Review featured on Mungai and the Goa ConstrictorIzzy’s Flying Disaster: Dragonasaurus Tales
As everyone knows, dragonasaurus were born to breathe fire and fly. But, of course, they also need to be old enough and big enough to do so. Little Izzy is not convinced she is too young or too small to fly, and hatches a series of ingenious ways to do so. Needless to say, her success rate is notably low. She does not, however, give up trying. In fact, she is so determined to succeed, she ends up unwittingly placing the life of her friend Mouse in the balance.
“Uncurling from his hiding place, Mouse did spy
the eagle peering at him with its beady eye.
“I’m not so sure Izzy, in fact I have a hunch,
MICE are what eagles like to eat for their lunch!””
Can Izzy save Mouse! Will she ever learn to fly! Or does this friendship end here!

Josephine Young has taken two all-time children’s favourites, the dragon and the dinosaur, and given us the dragonasaurus. These endearing little creatures fill the series with their captivating and comical adventures.
All the Dragonasaurus books are written in rhyme. The rhyme is excellent and works extremely well. The illustrations are cartoon-like and very colourful.  The books are great fun, but quite long; so I feel younger listeners and readers may need more than one sitting. Something I very much liked was the language. It does not patronise young children, which is good. Instead it offers new words to learn in a diverting way. There is plenty of excitement throughout the stories and the endings to all are a surprise. And, of course, each tale has a message.  I can definitely recommend these books to be read to or by any child.  I read them to the youngest member of the family (aged two) and she was totally entranced by the poetry, loved the pictures and giggled a lot. They are sweet, funny, charming, imaginative and entertaining. I must say, I did have a favourite – Baffin’s Desire for Fire.  Here the description of the Grong is hilarious, and the end has an enjoyable twist.  I hope author Josephine Young will be giving us more of these wonderful, original and well-written tales. Highly recommended! (5 stars to all)

(Dragonasaurus Tales would be best suited to ages 2/3 and upwards)

Other Books I Have Reviewed

Oceanheart (The Enchanted Pages) by Pen Clements
Available on Amazon as an eBook $2.85

As Wynn sits by the bed of her dying sister, she is overwhelmed by guilt and her heart is filled with sorrow.  Stella is lying in a coma and Wynn believes it is all her fault and longs to make amends, but cannot think how. Unexpectedly, help manifests itself from a surprising source, the strange and much feared school councillor, Mr (Crazy) Connor.  “Crazy” Connor gives Wynn a pen and a journal, and some words of advice – ‘Write your thoughts. Write your dreams’.

Unbeknown to Wynn, the journal is enchanted. When she takes out the pen and the journal, the pen takes on a life of its own and words appear on the page – “If wish to restore what was lost, Find the Oceanheart. No matter the cost.”

As she starts to write her own words in the journal her world changes, and she finds herself transported from the safety of her sister’s hospital room to the depths of the ocean where she is rescued by the Saltwater People and taken to their tropical home. Not all the islanders are friendly though, and she finds herself pursued by the “Teeth”, poison masters and outcasts, across water and through forests. They too seek the Oceanheart and Wynn is the key. Then there is the mysterious Sorrowmaker patrolling the surrounding waters bringing doom and despair to all.

Wynn’s extraordinary journey causes her to reach deep into her soul where she discovers an inner strength and tenacity she hadn’t known she possessed. Spurred on by the need to help her sister, seemingly impossible tasks become surmountable challenges, and our heroine successfully rises to face each and every one of them.

In Pen Clements “Oceanheart”, a beautifully written, original and captivating story is to be found. From the imaginative narrative to the often surreal locations, from the strong and enjoyable characters of the Saltwater People with their living tattoos to the vile grey-skinned ‘Teeth’, each chapter lures you enticingly towards the next. And the latter part of the book is loaded with just the right amount of tension and suspense to take the reader right through to the end.

I hadn’t realised this was the first of a series until I reached the final page, but I will certainly be reading the next one when it is available. Mystery, adventure, fantasy! Oceanheart can be any of these; and I highly recommend it to anyone who reads any of those genres. (5 stars)

(Oceanheart (The Enchanted Pages) would be best suited to ages 9 years to adult)

Burly & Grum and the Tiger’s Tale (The Burly & Grum Tales) by Kate Tenbeth
Available on Amazon as an eBook $1.48

This is a simple little story about the animals of the forest. The main characters are Grum the groblin, Burlington the bear and Titan the tiger. The three are playing twister in the forest when a man is sighted.  At the same time Hamish the porcupine rushes past with news of his daughter Morag being ill. Titan instantly mistrusts the man, Professor Simon Clutterbug, drawing upon past experience, but then Morag is diagnosed with forest fever and the only one who can help is the Professor.
Simple and sweet, this book tells of tigers and their diminishing numbers, and provides a short insight into their plight. The black and white illustrations are lovely and quite comical, and the story is easy to understand, especially for smaller children. (4 stars)
(Burly & Grum and the Tiger’s Tale would be best suited to ages 4 and upwards)

[Any profits from the sale of this book will go to the charity ‘Save the Wild Tiger’]

***

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.

 

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 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: No Boys Allowed by Marilyn Levinson
Available on Amazon: eBook $4.08 and in Paperback

I am very pleased to introduce this week’s Children’s Book of the Week, which addresses the subject of divorce and children, from a child’s point of view. A very enjoyable read for both child and adult alike!  Please read my review below.

No boys Allowed by Marilyn Levinson featured on mungaiandthegoaconstrictor.meMy Review

Eleven year old Cassie finds herself loathing all men following her father’s departure from home. He has left her mother for a younger woman and has moved to another state. In Cassie’s young mind he has abandoned them all without further thought.  She is both hurt and angry. Her first response is to clear out anything he has left behind.  This she does with the exception of one item, a stamp album her father was given as a boy. Her second is to try and ban all boys and men from the house.

After suffering such an enormous loss and then being left in a state of bewilderment as her mother starts to see other men, Cassie finds herself experiencing all sorts of emotions – few of which she understands. But all of which have impacted on her progress at school and her fledgling social life. Her cosy world, torn apart by her parent’s separation, has become unfamiliar to her. She needs to apportion the blame, and who better for the role than her father. Nothing is right in Cassie’s world anymore – and she firmly believes it is entirely his fault. To add to her distress, and intrude upon her new policy of ‘No Boys Allowed’, her Great Uncle Harry, recovering from a heart attack, moves in with them, taking over her bedroom and forcing her to share with her sister, thus depriving her of her highly treasured privacy.

It goes without saying, knowing of Marilyn Levinson’s reputation as a writer, that the book is well-written, but it is worth noting how truly well she portrays the judgement of an eleven year old child. There are lots of different ways of dealing with and sharing uncertainties, and the introduction of Great Uncle Harry, who quietly puts everything into perspective, presents Cassie with all the right opportunities. She is able to move away from her anger and frustration to a place where life becomes more bearable and enjoyable. Cassie is not the only one coping with the effects of her father’s parting, and each character is shown to be dealing with their feelings in their own individual way.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story – it is a good story with a worthy true-to-life plot. It is sympathetic, poignant and convincing. The writing flows beautifully and I personally felt compelled to keep reading on regardless of other commitments.  The subject of divorce and children is treated in a subtle and sensitive way here and will no doubt strike a chord with young readers in the same, not uncommon, situation. Perhaps they will be able to draw something beneficial from Cassie’s feelings and experiences. All-in-all, an excellent read! (5 stars)

(No Boys Allowed would be best suited to 9 years and upwards)

Other Books I Have Reviewed

The Exciting Adventures of Percy the Pig by Tori Gilbert
Available on Amazon Kindle only: eBook $3.03

Percy the Pig lives at Fiddlewood Farm with his friends, the other animals. Their lives are nigh on perfect, until one of them, Lotti the lamb, goes missing. They search the farm thoroughly, and when Lotti isn’t found, they decide he must have been taken by someone.  Percy promises the distraught Matilda, Lotti’s mother, that he will go in search of him. His friends rally round and two of them offer to go with him on his mission. They hitch a lift into the nearby market town of Butterfly Creek by sneaking on to the back of Farmer Jones’ truck and hiding between the bales of hay.  In the town they meet a cat, Alley, whom Percy takes an instant dislike to. Here begins their adventure.
I liked this book. It starts with the names and types of the animals written in bold letters, instantly allowing children to identify them throughout the story. It is well-written, fun and has a few good lessons – none of which are laboured, but instead just quietly slipped into the text. It is a book about loyalty, team work, keeping promises, friendship and not judging others too quickly. Some lovely colourful illustrations too! There is also the opportunity for some interaction at the end. All in all, a great little book! (4 stars)
(The Exciting Adventures of Percy would be best suited to 4 – 9 years)

Wolf Facts and Pictures by P.K.Miller
Available on Amazon Kindle only: eBook $1.19

The book was offered free, and being an avid supporter of the wolf population, I took advantage of the offer. I am so pleased I did. It is absolutely filled with interesting information about the species, such as how they care for their cubs, how they stay warm in such cold conditions and what is behind that beautifully haunting sound.
In today’s current climate, wolves and their welfare are often at the forefront of the news. This book is very timely in that respect.
It is not a long dreary textbook; it is more entertaining than that. It is fun and easy to read and has some wonderful images of these beautiful, majestic creatures at home in the wild. Both factual and enjoyable, it seeks to dispel the myth surrounding wolves; they do not prey upon man, often they are the prey. If you too are a wolf-lover – this is for you. A neat little reference book right there on your Kindle (4 stars)
(Wolf Facts and Pictures would be best suited to 7 years to adult)

The Adventures of Frosty (The Strange Thing) by Waide Marshall
Available on Amazon Kindle only: eBook $3.33

This is a very appealing and funny little book involving an endearing little penguin, Frosty, who finds a strange object which arouses his curiosity. He uses all his senses to find out what it is.
The story is made up of simple words, sweet and easy to understand.  The illustrations, which are executed using arcs, circles and other basic shapes, are perfect. The eyes depicted in the story are terrific – at one point, as the pages are turned, they get bigger and bigger! I had to go through this book 5 times in a row for the youngest member of the family.  She so delighted in those eyes.
This book is adorable, well worth the price and it is bound to appeal to small children!  (4 stars)
(The Adventures of Frosty (The Strange Thing) would be best suited to 2 – 5 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.

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.

Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


Mungai and the Goa Constrictor - A Children's Book by Amelia E Curzon - Banner
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: Wise Bear William – A New Beginning by Arthur Wooten
Available on Amazon: eBook $3.09 and Paperback $8.99

I am delighted to have been asked to review Wise Bear William.  It is the perfect combination of skilful story telling by Arthur Wooten and delightful illustrations by Bud Santora. Every page is a gem. Please read my review below

Wise Bear WilliamMy Review

Wise Bear William is the story about the tattered old toys that live in the Campbell’s attic. Traditionally generations of children, when visiting the house, have come into the attic to choose one toy each; one that they would love until they are too old for it, at which time the toy would be returned to the attic. The toys currently residing in the attic are a floppy-eared rabbit called Bean Bag Bunny, a one-eyed cat aptly named Calico Kitty and a very shabby rag doll known as Rag Doll Rose. When they hear there will be children visiting the house, they all want to be chosen, but soon realise they are a bit the worse for wear.  They turn to Wise Bear William, Captain of the attic, for suggestions and advice on how to make themselves more personable and lovable. William helps them all, but also tells them that no matter how much they spruce themselves up on the outside, it will always be the inside that matters.

I had heard good things of Wise Bear William before I was asked by the author to review it. When I did read it, it passed all expectations – It is simply sublime. Just opening this book took me straight back to my childhood. Both the sumptuous illustrations and the divine storyline seemed to leap straight off the pages of the old-fashioned story books I used to read.

I adored the little mouse with spectacles which appeared in so many of the glorious illustrations!  In fact the youngest member of the family spent quite some time scouring all the illustrations hoping to find him on every page – which, although she didn’t, was great fun.

The characters are expertly drawn and extremely lovable and the reader is taken through a range of emotions, from joy and hope to sadness and back again, in a very short space of time. I found Wise Bear William to be especially sweet with his spectacles and waistcoat, and his exquisite caring demeanour. I think most of us can relate to this story. After all, who doesn’t have a care-worn old teddy stored away somewhere, or perhaps a doll or a stuffed cat or dog.

This book is one to keep and cannot fail to appeal to children of all ages. I will certainly be putting it on my to-be-read-again-soon shelf.  (5 stars)

(Wise Bear William would be best suited to ages 4 years and upwards)

Warriors: Book 1 – Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
Available in Amazon:  eBook  $6.39 – Paperback $6.99 – Hardcover $11.55 

This is a story about a domestic cat, Rusty, who wants nothing more than to eat a live mouse.  Having plucked up the courage to venture beyond his (human) home and into the forest, he encounters a young feral apprentice warrior. The two fight and then become friends. The Thunderclan, the ‘family’ of the young apprentice, desperate to replenish their numbers with new stock, recruit Rusty into the clan and rename him Firepaw.  In all, four Clans of the forest battle against each other for survival, each protecting its own territory and competing for food, and the Thunderclan need all the help they can get.
The story is told from the cat’s point of view. It is a tale of talking and warring cats with their own structured society based loosely on that of our own.  A sweet added touch from the author is the naming of the cats.  The ordinary warriors all have ‘paw’ in their names, and the leaders all have ‘star’ in their names, allowing for easy identification, which I thought was rather clever.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is well-written with some very descriptive scenes, though some may be a bit upsetting for children. However, it has plenty of action and adventure and an assortment of good and bad, and some clever twists here and there.  In fact, there is always something to route for.  (4 stars)
(Warriors: Book 1 – Into the Wild would be best suited to ages 9/10 years and upwards)

Magic Molly Book 1: Mirror Maze by Trevor Forest
Available on Amazon:  eBook $2.40 and Paperback S5.50

Born the child of a High Witch and a Magician who uses real magic, Molly Miggins lives in an enchanted world many would envy. Molly’s parents, The Great Rudolpho and the High Witch, are preparing for a live vanishing act at the funfair when – whoosh! They actually do vanish!
Molly looks backstage in the hope of finding them. Suddenly out of the mist appears a wizard, from The Magic Council, who tells her she is the only who can rescue her parents and bring them back. But, for this purpose Molly must become a witch. The wizard issues Molly with a deadline to complete her task. The problem is, although it is Molly’s ninth birthday in the morning, to enter the Witches Academy and take the Witches Promise, she must be ten. At the wizard’s behest, arrangements are hastily made and Molly is given special dispensation to enter the Academy a year early. She attends the Witches Promise ceremony wearing full uniform, including the wrong colour tunic, her own choice of bright yellow, and a bent hat, and armed with ‘the oldest spell known to witch kind’ – a birthday present from her grandma. To add to this mixed bag of fortune, at the Academy she is given a crooked wand, which proves quite difficult to aim when casting spells.
Will Molly ever be able to master the wand and complete the task before the wizard’s deadline, or will she lose her parents forever!  Without spoiling it, that is as far as I can go, but I can tell you it is certainly worth reading the whole story.
Mr Forest seems to have an inherent aptitude for connecting with his young readers. The story has bags of humour and the narrative is well-constructed. There is also the nice little sub-plot involving Molly’s antagonist, Henrietta, whose taunting and bragging Molly has been subjected to for far too long.  It seems Henrietta thinks daddy’s money can buy just about everything she desires. A lesson is subtlety thrown in here.
I adored Granny Whitewand with all her foibles, and Molly’s first clumsy attempts at magic were engaging and comical.  All in all, a fun and entertaining read.  (5 stars)
(Magic Molly Mirror Maze would be best suited to ages 8 years and upwards)

I Love My ABCs by Mary Lee
Available on Amazon Kindle $3.02 and in Paperback $8.99

This is a very sweet little book about, as you would suppose, learning the letters of the alphabet. It is a cut above the average A is for Apple – B is for Bat. On each page, short sentences begin repeatedly with “I love”, and the word corresponding with the specific letter has to be searched for (a nice simple exercise as there are no more than five words on the page). The words chosen are imaginative and the illustrations are creative. Though, I did think the page with the letter Z might be confusing for small children.  (4 stars)
(I Love My ABCs would be best suited to pre-school children)

***

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

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 Issy Books by Pat “Gigi” Calfee – Illustrated by Isybilla Gee
Available from issy.com

I am delighted to have had the opportunity to review these books, which were recently sent to me. The Issy Books are, in fact, a series of eleven short books for emergent readers. They are written by Pat Calfee and illustrated by her very creative granddaughter, 5-year-old Isybilla Gee. Pat, now an educational consultant, previously spent 15 years teaching both 2nd and 3rd grade students.

My Review

The series opens with the picture book “Meet Issy”, the talented five-year old illustrator, and we learn about her likes, her pets and her family. The series then continues with tales of Harry the Hippo, Webster the Spider and a host of other animals, each with their own little book.

Every page of every book in the series has its own simplistic illustration and a short sentence to describe it. The illustrations and the well-ordered vocabulary go hand in hand, making the meaning of every page clear, easy to follow and fun, with just enough words to help the young reader grow confidence. Specific keywords go with each  book, and are clearly listed at the start below the ‘suggestions’ for using the book. I have no doubt parents teaching their children to develop their reading skills will find these extremely helpful. The books are also produced in a nice handy size for small hands.

The fact that a young child, herself an emergent reader, has illustrated these books makes them all the more endearing, and other young children will so easily be able identify with the naïve style.
Each book is a delight in itself, but I particularly liked Oscar the Octopus where numbers are cleverly introduced, counting backwards from 8 to 1. And then there was Flossie the Flamingo where the words for different shapes were presented.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Issy Books, and I especially delighted in introducing the youngest member of the family to them, who, albeit she is not quite at the emergent reader stage, was able to instantly identify the animals in the books, and the short sentences on each page held her interest. So much so, she was happy to repeat the words and point to the pictures.  An excellent start for any child!  In my opinion, this is a fairly strong indicator of the success of the books.

It can be very difficult at first for young children to decipher the written word, therefore the vocabulary must flow and the accompanying illustrations need to speak out in a way which adds value.  It is my opinion that The Issy Books do precisely that. Added to this, there is the parental guidance factor which can only enhance the reading satisfaction and ability of both parent and child.  I am giving The Issy Books a very solid 5 stars!

Switch by Karen Prince     
Available on Amazon Kindle $1.24

The story is set in Zimbabwe and opens with the High Priest, Drogba, looking for a person to provide him with a new body. This opens the door for the introduction to the wicked and very comical witch, Gogo Maya, who is being pursued by someone unknown in the forest that she would rather avoid.  Her only escape it to ‘switch’. Through pure miscalculation she finds herself inadvertently linked to a very average young boy named Joe. Joe has an overly precious cousin, called Ethan, who is better suited to the city than the bush. Ethan is spoilt, highly germaphobic, asthmatic, snobbish, cowardly, and definitely not a risk taker. He does, however, feel able to give Gogo Maya CPR, and manages to suck in what is left of her magical powers. The witch’s leopard familiar, Salih, for some unfathomable reason, chooses him in order to telepathically communicate the witch’s needs. Throw in the very bizarre Tokeloshe tribe, some possibly helpful crocodiles, a few hyenas, a host of African children and lashings of magic, and the book has you wanting to read on.
The opening chapter of this book grabbed me instantly. I also love books about Africa, and this one did not disappoint. I felt absolutely filled with the sound and smells of the continent just reading it. The evocative settings make it quite clear the author knows the terrain well. The plot is very imaginative and highly original and the characters are well-drawn and credible.  I would definitely read this book again and am giving it 5 stars.
(This book would be best suited to ages 11 years and over)

Kiwi in Cat City by Vickie Johnstone   
Available on Amazon Kindle $1.22 and in Paperback $7.50

Kiwi in Cat City is about a little girl called Amy, her brother James and their cat Kiwi.  After waking one night and seeing Kiwi leap out of the window, Amy rouses James to go with her to follow Kiwi to see where she goes and what she does at night.
Kiwi, who spots them tailing her, turns around and addresses them in their own human speak and subsequently invites them along on her nocturnal journey. After getting over the shock of hearing their cat talking to them, both children decide to do just that and tag along. Then, an even more surprising thing happens as they both turn onto cats themselves.
This book is beautifully written, with a great poetic prologue, and heaps of action, intrigue and fun. Ms. Johnstone’s vivid imagination does her a great deal of credit. I am also assuming, by the not entirely complete ending, that another book will be following soon, which I will look forward to reading as well.  5 stars for Kiwi in Cat City!
(This book would be best suited to ages 10 years and over)

A Tale of Four Birds and Their Quest for Food and Happiness by Gramps Doodlebug    
Available from Amazon Kindle $1.22

Four hungry birds set out together in search of food. Though of different species, their combined voices garner a lot of attention. No-one, however, rewards them with the food they are singing for. On their rounds they visit the house of a rich man who, although he has no suitable food to give them, offers them directions to find a man with a straw hat who will provide for them. Their next port of call is the house of a poor man, with a straw hat, who turns out not to be the one they are seeking, and who has nothing to offer them either. At this point one of the birds leaves the quartet thinking he will do better by himself. The others travel on. At different points two others go their separate ways leaving the last bird to carry on the mission alone.
The simple, beautiful illustrations drew me to this book and the story reminded of some of those I had read as a child. The descriptions of the birds and their voices are quite charming, and I am sure will enthral many a bird-loving child. There are both facts and lessons to be learnt here, all of which are meaningful and easy to understand. I give A Tale of Four Birds 4 stars.
(This book would be best suited to ages 5 years and over)

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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.