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 Deep and Snowy Wood by Elwyn Tate                Available on Amazon for various Kindle devices $1.99

This is just such a good children’s book. I have been trying to review it for some time, but, unfortunately, it will only download to certain devices and is not yet available in any other format. Now, armed with a Kindle Fire HD, I am delighted to say; I have finally managed to review it. Please read my full review below.

Th Deep Snowy WoodMy Review

The Deep and Snowy Wood is a rhyming book following three animals; a deer, a mole and a squirrel as they run, dig and hop their way, across, under and above the snow in search of… well…something. The question being – where are they going and why? And, only on the last few pages is there any indication of their destination, which I won’t spoil for you.

The rhyming is superior and never loses rhythm, and the illustrations are superb. This is not always so with all children’s books, but here they are perfectly partnered; with both and graphic art and written text flowing seamlessly together. With a tremendous amount of credit to the author, Elwyn Tate, it’s all very professional, which makes such a difference. I love the way all the animals are wrapped in scarves and how the little mole’s underground home looks so cosy and welcoming. There are plenty of other wonderfully depicted animals too, for little ones to point to and identify, and the winter scenes are gorgeous.

Although this book is seasonal, it is one that can be read at any time of year, and no doubt will be read over and over again at the behest of small children. It is now the absolute favourite of the youngest member of my family, aged two and a half, and the first thing she asks for at bedtime. A real must for any small child’s bookshelf and very possibly a future classic. Highly recommended. (5 stars)

The Deep and Snowy Wood would be best suited to ages 2 – 4 years

Other Books I Have Reviewed

A Voice in the NightA Voice in the Night by Ernestine Dail Available on Amazon as an eBook $7.66 and in Paperback $9.99

Three boys find themselves unexpectedly left alone in a log cabin overnight during a fierce storm. The boys are from vastly different backgrounds and have completely different personalities. Yet they are close friends. There are Brian and Josh, who come from loving, supporting homes, have more or less all they need and our diligent scholars who lead blameless lives ; and then there is Thomas, whose background is very far removed from that of his two friends. No-one is sure if he has any parents at all, and his life is nowhere near as good. He is often in trouble and has managed to earn himself a bad reputation.

Whilst Brian restlessly occupies the sofa downstairs (Josh and Thomas are asleep upstairs in the loft) there is a loud banging on the cabin door followed by a voice screaming: “Open the door! – Open the door, now!”

Brian’s thoughts drift back to a man he has seen about the town,who doesn’t seem to belong. And, there is also the recent jewel robbery in the same town; as yet unsolved. Could this be the same man and should Brian open the door? And why is everyone blaming Thomas for the robbery?

A Voice in the Night is an engaging short story for young teens. It is well-written and the plot is quite suspenseful. The characters are well-drawn and likeable – even bad boy Thomas. The in-depth background details give the reader the opportunity to get to know all those involved and to empathise with them. And, there are lessons to be learnt about friendship, doing the right thing, not prejudging others and helping those less fortunate.

This is an enjoyable short read (32 pages) and I look forward to reading more of the same from Ernestine Dail in the future. (4 stars)

A Voice in the Night would be best suited to ages 12 years plus

The Bremen Town MusiciansThe Bremen Town Musicians by Juin Bugg Available on Amazon as an eBook $2.90

Jack the donkey, Boon the dog, Kitty the house-cat and Red the rooster are all growing old and have outlived their usefulness to their masters; and are in fear of meeting an untimely death. They travel together, escaping their previous destinies, and go in search of somewhere where they can be useful again and live their lives out naturally. Needless to say, there are few challenges along the way, but these are overcome and the four animals finally find a place in life that suits them.

This is a delightful, and well-written, adaptation of the original from the brothers Grimm. Though there are many such adaptations, I found this one quite appealing. The animals find out, despite being vastly different from each other, that by working together as a team they have increased their own value and are wanted again, and are able to delight others with their collective talents.

There are some great lessons here in respect for one’s elders, teamwork and acceptance of others. Children are introduced to the age factor and can see how the animals, although previously considered to old to work by their former masters, are far wiser now than they ever were before – with age comes wisdom. The teamwork changes their ability to work completely (where alone they were weak – together they are strong) and once more they are able to do so. “Good fortune is with us and I believe that as long as we are working together, we will find our place in this world. We will be valued more that the work we do.” As animals from different species they are able to get along and enjoy each other’s company.

Not all fairy tales from the brothers Grimm are suitable for younger children, but this one certainly is. Sadly, there are no illustrations, which I feel would have really enhanced this book. More especially since there are so many other adaptations available which are filled with colourful images.

A short, but very enjoyable read. (4 stars)

The Bremen Town Musicians would be best suited to ages 6 – 8 years.

A Friend Like AnnabelA Friend like Annabel by Alan Davidson Available on Amazon as an eBook $4.63

This is an anthology comprised of five short vignettes about Alan Davidson’s heroine, Annabel. Annabel is a 13 year old cauldron of creativity, volatility, intelligence, melodrama and kindness. She lives in a very small and dull village and attends a very mediocre school (where, needless to say, she livens things up a bit). On the plus side, she has a very supportive, if eccentric, family, and an enduring best friend called Kate who follows her everywhere, hanging on to her every word.

It is difficult not to like Annabel as we are taken through her various adventures, aided by friend Kate’s narration. She is full of life, caring, funny and often quite wayward, and she doesn’t always seem to care too much for the consequences of her actions – this may not be the best message to send out – but there is also a remarkable sense of honesty about her and an inherent understanding of what is right. She is also generous of thought and does help others a great deal.

The stories in A Friend Like Annabel are original, funny and sometimes touching; my favourite being Annabel and the Duckling. To say they are well-written would be superfluous. In Alan Davidson’s writing, the plots are tight with just enough narrative, and all come full circle. Through careful thought on the author’s part, the reader is given a complete understanding of all the characters, main and secondary, without being overly wordy, filled with clichés or leaving the stories path. Excellent stuff! (5 stars)

A Friend Like Annabel would be best suited to age 12 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

Please note: Authors frequently offer their books at lower prices, and often they are free.  These prices were correct at the time of publishing, but it is worth checking for price changes.

 

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Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


 

Mungai and the Goa Constrictor banner

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

Children’s Book of the Week: The Giving Tree by David Lee Martin
Available on Amazon as an eBook $3.09

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

The Giving Tree ReviewMy Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Books I Have Reviewed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book Covers and Buy Links will also be posted on my Pinterest Board

Please note: Authors frequently offer their books at lower prices and often they are free.  These prices were correct at the time of publishing, but it is worth checking for price changes.

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

Children’s Book of the Week: The Velveteen Rabbit  by Margery Williams Bianco 
Available on Amazon in Hardcover $11.01 and in Kindle/Paperback/Audio /Board Book

I first read this book as a child and I have never forgotten it. Sadly, my original copy disappeared years ago, so I was both amazed and thrilled when I saw it had been re-released (yet again) on Amazon earlier this year. I instantly grabbed a copy of this latest reprint to give to the youngest member of the family. It was an absolute delight to read all over again, especially to a young child wrapped up in every word. How many children have actually read this book may never be known, but it has a universal appeal to young and old alike, so there must be countless numbers of enlightened folk out there.

The Velveteen Rabbit Book Cover

My Review

The Velveteen Rabbit is the story of a stuffed toy given as a Christmas gift to a boy, and then being forgotten and left to its own devices in the nursery. As the title suggests, he is made of soft velveteen and “he was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen”.

He spends his days waiting for the ‘boy’ to return to the nursery to claim him and love him, so he can become a ‘real’ rabbit. This, he is reliably informed by the skin horse, his only friend and the oldest and wisest toy in the nursery, is how toys become real.  “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” The Velveteen Rabbit’s wish to be claimed again comes true when the boy finally does come back for him, or rather Nanny does, and he and the boy become inseparable. Until, that is, the boy falls ill with scarlet fever and all things change.

This enchanting story brought heaps of memories flooding back. I am sure many a child with a favourite toy they loved more than the rest will have dreamt of it becoming ‘real’ one day. I know I did, so this touched a chord. Not only that, it really is the most endearing of tales, with touches of sadness and moments of joy.  It tells us toys have feelings too; and when you are a child, that is just what you do believe or want to believe. The writing is inspiring and the illustrations are divine, totally in keeping with the original artwork first published in 1922. No specific age can be applied to reading and enjoying this beautiful, heart-warming book; it’s suitable for both young and old. And, it is certainly a book that should grace every child’s bookshelf. (5 stars)

Other Books I Have Reviewed

A Doctor of Divinity Book CoverA Doctor of Divinity by Shelley J Reeves
Available on Amazon as an eBook $3.14  

When I first saw the title of this book, before having read the author’s note, I was not quite sure what to expect. But, as author Shelley J Reeves points out, the title is ‘merely a metaphor’. A Doctor of Divinity is, in fact, a story about a courageous and cheerful little chickadee sharing his kindness, happiness and wisdom; and his survival following particularly harsh weather, one winter in upper New England.
The winter in question has left ice on the ground and in the trees, sealing whichever ‘pantry’ Chick D.D. flies to in search of food. But then, quite unexpectedly, the loud, reverberating sound of snow shoes is heard upon the ground, and things start to look far more promising for the hungry little bird.
This is a short, touching tale which is beautifully, almost poetically written.  The descriptions of Chick D.D. and his habitat are rich, flowing and colourful. It is easy to imagine the cottony snow and the unrelenting ice; the descriptions are so alive with clarity. “The second storm had covered the soft white blanket with sparkling ice and had swept across the white-barked birch trees and their purple-brown branches, leaving them shining all over.” There is a worthy message of inspiration and hope to be found, which can be enjoyed by all.
The cover, of course, is delightful, and inside the book there are some very appealing photographs.
I would certainly recommend this book and hope it will be available in print at some point.  (5 stars)
(A Doctor of Divinity would be best suited to ages 12 years and upwards)

Buddie - The Trampolining Bear Book CoverBuddie – The Trampolining Bear by Sarah Cooper
Available on Amazon as an eBook $1.18

Summer Sault, once a champion gymnast, gives her son, Bouncer, a more than Olympic sized trampoline to practise his skills on for the forthcoming International Trampolining Event. Training for the event seems to be going extremely well until Bouncer wakes up one morning to find bear paw prints on his treasured apparatus. When he tries to tell his parents, school friends and Mrs Blossom, his teacher, they all make fun of him.  Even his best friend, Ed, finds it all somewhat amusing. Then Ed comes to Bouncer’s house for a sleepover, and both boys watch in awe from their bedroom window as one very accomplished little bear, Buddie,  appears and goes through her routine on the trampoline.
This is an imaginative little story filled with magic, friendship and kindness. It is eminently suitable for young children; especially those who like trampolines. As they now make these for the very young, safety bars and all, a great many children will be able to identify with Bouncer and Buddie.
In all, a magical story with sweet and likeable characters, and with lots of magical sparkly bits to enchant. The simple sweet drawings are also very endearing. (5 stars)
(Buddie – The Trampolining Bear would be best suited to age 5 years and upwards)

Rufus and Magic Run Amok Book CoverRufus and Magic Run Amok by Marilyn Levinson
Available on Amazon as an eBook $2.90 and in Paperback $7.99

Rufus Breckenridge is a ten-year old boy who reluctantly inherits some magical gifts. His mother, grandmother and aunt are all ‘empowered’, and he has seen it all before. In fact, he comes from a long line of witches. But he has never felt any inclination whatsoever to join the coven and share their lifestyle.
Rufus is not, however, sure when he will get to use these wonderful powers bestowed upon him, or indeed, if ever. As he ambles through his young life, ever thankful that the power, as yet, has not manifested itself, something awful happens to his long-time tormentor, Big Douggie, the school bully. And, all because the thought of getting his own back had run through Rufus’ mind!
This is the second of Marilyn Levinson’s books I have read. And this one, although aimed at a younger market, is just as enjoyable as the first. I was completely taken with it from page one. It’s one of those books you just have to keep turning the pages to see what happens next. It is a pretty short read and I’m confident that children will find it fun, fast-paced, and magical.  A thoroughly enjoyable book for anyone searching for a little magic in their day! Get ready to believe in witches again (the good sort). (5 stars)
(Rufus and Magic Run Amok would be best suited to ages 8 and upwards)

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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


Mungai and the Goa Constrictor banner

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: The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest “The Banana Tree” by Maggie van Galen – Illustrated by Joanna Lundeen
Available on Amazon: Hardcopy $19.95

Take one adorable, daring and disobedient little monkey, a very cautious, clever and ne’er do wrong elephant, throw in some rule breaking and mix with a hint of peril, and you have all the right ingredients for an utterly delightful children’s story. Please read my review below.

The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest -"The Banana Tree" - Review by Amelia CurzonMy Review

Best friends Keeno and Ernest spend much of their time together eating bananas. Day after day they go back to the same old tree.  Until one day, Keeno sees “a huge banana tree with hundreds – maybe thousands – of super yummy bananas” across the swirling river. He must have those yummy bananas at any cost, even if it means disobeying his parent’s rules to get them. He pleads with Ernest to cross the river with him, and when Ernest refuses on the premise his parents have told him not to do so without  supervision, Keeno decides to build a raft and go it alone. As you would expect with an adventurous young monkey like Keeno, terrible danger lurks around the next bend in the river. Way out of his depth, Keeno becomes very frightened. Fortunately, a mutual friend, Toucan Tom, flies by and Keeno gets him to whiz off and find Ernest – because “He always knows what to do!”

With The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest, Maggie van Galen has given us a book which is perfect for reading aloud, beautifully written and easy to understand.  And, it is not difficult to remember the object of Keeno’s desire as every page has the coveted banana tree in it. The animals are well-chosen for this particular story. Characteristically, Keeno is an impulsive and mischievous little monkey, Ernest is a sensible elephant able to heed and remember quite clearly whatever has been said to him, and Toucan Tom, the only other character in the tale, is a loud, loud bird. All perfect! I particularly liked the very vivid hand-painted illustrations by Joanna Lundeen. In fact, there is really nothing here not to like. Moreover, this is a story of friendship, and of learning that when your parents tell you not to do something, it is probably in your best interests not to do it. This is an ideal book for any young child. Highly recommended! (5 stars)

(The Adventures of Keeno and Ernest “The Banana Tree” would be best suited to 4 years and upwards)

Other Books I Have Reviewed 

We All Went on Safari by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns
Available on Amazon: Paperback $6.90 and Hardback $13.75

We All Went on Safari Review by Amelia CurzonI absolutely loved this book. We All Went on Safari is a counting picture book for young children, which also teaches them how to count to ten in another language – Swahili! It is tremendous fun, and after all, since the Maasai people are globally known; what better way of introducing young children to them and their culture than with a beautifully produced book such as this.
A group of Maasai women and children, accompanied by a Maasai warrior, take themselves on a short safari across the Serengeti where they encounter various wild animals, counting them in rhyme as they go; “We all went on safari, Among herds that intermix, We followed woolly wildebeests, Watende counted six”. The illustrations are simply gorgeous with their vibrant colours and wonderful depictions of the Maasai and their lands and wildlife.
Having learnt to count to ten (the numbers are depicted on each page thus: 1 – moja, 2 – mbili), the learning process continues at the back of the book with pictures and short facts about the animals of the Serengeti and their names in Swahili, the character’s names in Swahili with their meanings, facts about Tanzania (including a useful map) and numbers one to ten again in Swahili with an illustrated guide. Completely irresistible from beginning to end, this is a real must for any child’s bookshelf! (5 stars)
(We All Went on Safari is best suited to children ages 2 years upwards)

Little Music Lessons for Kids: Lesson 1 – A Fascinating Story about the Staff and Treble Clef by Tatiana Bandurina
Available on Amazon: eBook $4.11

Little Music Lessons for Kids Review by Amelia CurzonThis is a short and very clever introduction to sheet music for small children. And it’s fun. It begins with an unnamed musical family, all of whom play different instruments, being introduced by their puppy, the musical puppy. The puppy goes on to explain very carefully and in simple words, the basics behind the staff and the treble clef.  It counts the floors in the musical house (the staff) and compares them to the fingers on the hands.  It shows us on which floor of the house the treble clef lives. As the title suggests, the staff and the clef are the only subject matter in this lesson and are dealt with methodically using repetitive text, making the facts easy for a child to remember. At the end of the lesson there are some very helpful and concise step-by-step instructions for parents.  Even if, as a parent, you do not have any sort of background in music, but want to encourage your child, this is where to start. This is the first lesson in a series of ten. Refreshing, thoughtful, educational and very appealing! (5 stars)
(Little Music Lessons for Kids is best suited to 3 to 9 years old)

The Awkward Owl by Shawnda Blake                                                                                                             Available on Amazon: eBook $2.96 and Paperback $9.99

The Awkward Owl  Review by Amelia CurzonThis is a very sweet book about a clumsy little owl that couldn’t fly.  Hard as he tried, he always seemed to end the wrong way up and the wrong way round.  One day he crashed into the trunk of tree and fell to the ground. A small girl picked him up, took him home and loved him. She gave him some much-needed encouragement to try again, by telling him he could do it. And do it he did.
The text is well-written and enjoyable, and I loved the book cover at the beginning of the story promoting ‘Flying Basics: For the Beginner Bird’ – both funny and clever. Regrettably, the illustrations, hand-drawn in crayon, didn’t really grab me, though young children may well identify with the style and simplicity.
There is also a message here: If you try hard enough you can do anything – so always believe in yourself.
A great little book for the very young!  (4 stars)
(The Awkward Owl would be best suited to 2 years upwards)

***

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.