Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


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Welcome to this week’s children’s book reviews.  I hope you enjoy my choice of books and the reviews of them.

Book of the Week: Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
Published on Amazon:  Hardcover  $12.40   Paperback  $6.99  Audio $13.26  Board book  $6.99                     

I couldn’t resist buying Room on the Broom having already read another book by the same creators, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler – namely The Gruffalo, and I had high expectations.  I was not disappointed. Nor was the smallest member of the family (aged almost 2) for whom it was intended. This book is simply adorable.

Room on the Broom Book CoverMy Review of Room on the Broom

A kind old witch with a purry cat loses her hat, her bow and her wand to the wind.  As they both go in search of these items, various different animals find them first – a dog with brown spots, a very green bird and an extremely fastidious frog – all of whom want to know if there is room on the broom for an animal like them.  The amiable, though  far from stereotypical, witch smiles and makes room for them one by one, until the broom bends beneath their weight.  Things begin to look bleak as the broom falls to the ground. At this point the animals are given the chance to be heroes.  As a reward for their actions, the witch ‘magics up’ a spectacular new broom to accommodate all their individual needs.

The illustrations are superb. The expressions on the animal’s faces are priceless and the first-rate rhyming prose was such a pleasure to read aloud.  It is a really fun book about friendship and team work, and, although this is a story about a witch, I don’t think it needs to be limited to Halloween only – it is more of an anytime-of-the-year book. I can highly recommend this for children aged 2 to 8. Without doubt, a five star treasure to keep for years to come!

Fing – A Modern Fairy Tale by Papa G   
Published on Amazon:  Kindle $1.24  Paperback $3.99

This is a terrific story about six-year old Ulrich Von Strudel, a determined little boy born without knees.  And, as if that were not enough, he has just been told his parents have been eaten by pygmies and his very mean great-aunt, Mrs Lipstick, is on her way to collect him from boarding school and look after him. When the evil Mrs Lipstick takes Ulrich home, she banishes him to the distant and inhospitable attic.  Mrs Lipstick not only dislikes little boys, she is also totally aware that if anything happens to Ulrich, she will inherit the entire Von Strudel family estate. All she has to do is find a way to “accident” Ulrich and all will be hers. But, unbeknown to the evil great-aunt, Ulrich finds a sock-loving, one-eyed monster in the closet, who soon becomes his only friend, and who encourages him to heed his mother’s advice – “If you stay positive, things will always get better.”
This is a book which can be read in one sitting or, since it is chaptered, can be read as a bedtime story a bit at a time. Either way, it is filled with humour, touched with sadness and a little bit scary in parts. Children will love it! The writing is excellent and the black and white drawings are extremely good. Recommended age 6 years plus.  I give Fing 5 stars!

I’ll Follow the Moon by Stephanie Lisa Tara 
Published on Amazon:  Kindle $3.09   Paperback $12.95

The illustrations first drew me to this book – they are delightful!  Although, with the exception of the line which is repeated on every page, I did find the rhyming a little hard to read since it didn’t entirely flow. I have read some of the reviews which argue the point that this tale is far from factual in terms of the beginning of life as a turtle. Although I have to agree with this, it is worth bearing in mind that this will probably be read to very small children who won’t be too worried about the minor details. It is just a charming story about a baby turtle hatching and vowing to find its mummy, which I am sure both parents and children (possibly 2 – 6) will find very appealing. This book deserves a solid 4 stars.

The Adventures of Loafy Lion and Friends by Richard Bullivant 
Available on Amazon : Kindle $1.24

Loafy Lion is so named because of his supposed idleness, and the fact that “He never went out to hunt… ever!” This eventually prompts the pride to lose respect for him and ask him to leave.  This he does with heavy heart and wanders off into the distance. Then Loafy sees a friend in trouble. In fact, he is not lazy at all, just a bit deaf with perfect eyesight – all a bit topsy-turvy for a lion. As it also happens, Loafy is not into eating other animals, most of them are his friends. And when friends are in trouble – you just have to get up and do something about it.
This is the best short story I have read for a long time.  The characters are comical and it would have been great to see some images of them. The story itself is well-written and very funny, though a little too short for a book.  More than one adventure in the same book would have done more for me. Nevertheless, Loafy Lion is really enjoyable, and teaches children a bit about animals on the Continent (not country as the author would have us believe) of Africa.  There are also a couple of lessons in there too. I was a bit disappointed at the lack of illustrations, which I thought would work very well here.  But, all in all, this is a great read and well deserving of 4 good stars. It would be suited to 5 years and upwards.

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

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Children’s Book of the Week and Other Book Reviews


 

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Hi everyone, having decided to change the format of C.B.W., I am pleased to say that the highlighted Children’s Book of the Week is still here,  but there are now also three other children’s book reviews for you to read, so please don’t forget to scroll down the page.

Children’s Book of the Week: Pibbin the Small: A Tale of Friendship Bog by Gloria Repp
Published on Amazon Kindle $1.24 and Paperback $5.99

I consider this book a wonderful find. ‘Pibbin the Small’ is the sort of book any child will surely enjoy. It has all the right ingredients; a great plot, action, a hero, a villain,  loads of endearing characters, bucket loads of kindness and friendship, and marvellous illustrations by Tim Davis.

Pibbin the Small by Gloria Repp featured as Children's Book of the Week on mungaiandthegoaconstrictor.me

My Review

Pibbin the Small is the most delightful story about the reluctant adventures of a small tree frog – one filled to the brim with the sort of kindness found only in those who care deeply about others. The opening chapter finds Pibbin shocked to discover his dear friend Sheera the Turtle has been hit by a truck and her leg is badly damaged.  Various opinions are offered as to how to alleviate Sheera’s suffering. ‘The Carpenter’ even mentally sizes her up for a wooden leg. But Sheera herself tells Pibbin there is only one cure – a wrap made of Sweetberry leaves.

Unfortunately, Sweetberry leaves can only be found far away in the garden of Sheera’s friend, the Doctor, who lives near the Silver Sea, and Pibbin must make a perilous journey to get there.  The very thought of the long and hazardous trip strikes terror in Pibbin’s heart. But he is quite determined to pluck up the courage to go, and in doing so, save his friend from the terrible fate of a wooden leg that won’t bend, or, worse still, death. He is given two pieces of advice by Gaffer, an old tree frog: “Get the Doctor’s name” and “Find yourself a pal who’s quick and smart.” Both of which he does! Pibbin is only small and does not think of himself as being brave, but his friend needs the leaves or her leg will not recover. So he puts his fears behind him and concentrates on the task in hand, and he and his new-found pal go off in search of the leaves. The journey is far from uneventful, but not once does he shy away from his mission, ever motivated by the thought of his suffering friend – a friend who had been so kind to him and shielded him from harm when he was even smaller. This is the story of his journey.

I cannot imagine any child or adult not enjoying this book. I am a bit of a lover of animal stories and this ranks very highly amongst my favourites. Beautifully told with gorgeous illustrations, this would be an ideal addition to any child’s library. The author skilfully weaves the tale around the importance of friendship and throws in a pretty good plot to boot. We are taken straight into the story and soon introduced to Pibbin’s colourful friends, all of which are well enough described for the reader to imagine them, and their boggy environment, even without the illustrations. Pibbin displays tremendous courage in the face of danger and finds out he is a much braver frog than he thought and all because his love for his friend was far greater than his fear of the unknown. A marvellous lesson in courage for children! And the lesson is subtle rather than preachy – which works very well. Gloria Repp has created a story which is faultlessly written, perfectly structured and an ideal fit for the age group it is intended for, though I am quite sure older children will enjoy it just as much. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work in the future. Definitely a 5 star read!

Other books I have read this week

The Incredible Escape of the Sly Little Fox by Lily Lexington
Published on Amazon Kindle 99c

The Incredible Escape of the Sly Little Fox is a wonderful rhyming story from which many children may learn about kindness and sharing.
The little fox starts out as a very mean little fox that has no consideration for anyone but himself. Until, that is, he finds himself in a bit of bother! The only help available comes from sources the little fox would have least expected – the animals he has hurt. But, as you would imagine, the story develops and the little fox, following his wake-up call, learns to be a not-so-sly little fox.
The most delightful part of this book is the nigh perfect rhyming verse throughout. It’s clever and it flows beautifully. The same phrase is repeated as each animal moves on by, adding to the joy of the book. The lively illustrations are sweet and very well done. The moral is good and clear, and children will have no difficulty understanding it, whether a parent is reading aloud to them or they are reading by themselves. I would say this book would be most suited to 3 to 6 year olds. A fun and enjoyable read worthy of  5 stars.

Nimpentoad by Josh Herz, Henry Herz and Harrison Herz
Published on Amazon – Kindle $2.45 and Paperback $10.50

The story begins in Grunwald Forest where the Niblings live. Niblings are dexterous little creatures who love to cook. They are not, however, very popular with the others of the forest.  In fact, they are continuously picked on and pushed around. The forest is also inhabited by Orcs and Goblins and Neebles, to name but a few, and each and every one has had a go at the Niblings. The Niblings are tired of this and decide to seek help from the Goofus, the giant who lives in the castle.  Where Niblings are very nimble-fingered, Goofus is downright clumsy. They sensibly decide they each have something to offer the other.  They could help Goofus around the castle with the everyday tasks he fails at so often, and so miserably, and he in turn could protect them from the mean bullies. The challenge is to get through to the castle before anyone has them for supper. There are many tests along the way, but Niblings, it seems, are very clever and resourceful, and the large mean bullies are not.

This is a sweet little adventure story with appealing illustrations.  It is well written, original and funny. There are some great names for some of the creatures and the descriptions are wonderful. It shows how teamwork can overcome the bullies and how using your brain is often better than fighting. This is a great little book for readers aged 5 to perhaps 9 or 10 years old.  Great book! 4 stars for Nimpentoad!

Gnit Wit Gnipper and the Ferocious Fire Ants by T J Lantz
Published on Amazon Kindle 99c

This is a story about a gnome called Gnipper who longs for a ‘real’ hat to gain kudos in the community and shake off the added name of Gnit Wit.  The community is very science orientated and to gain her hat, and lose her added name, she, like all the others, must invent something which will enhance the lives of all gnomes. Gnipper’s invention (still in its experimental stages) is to be a growth potion, largely so she can reach the cookie jar, but also because she feels it will be useful to others of the same stature.  But, needless to say, the experiment backfires when she tests it on her pet ant, which does indeed grow – out of all proportion, in fact – and becomes very hostile. And if that is not enough, she is expecting lots of little ants in the very near future, hence an impending disaster is born. But can Gnipper undo what she has done!
This is a fun and imaginative read and I can see it keeping children engaged with its quirky characters, amusing dialogue and original plot. I also thought it was well-crafted and reasonably exiting.  Younger children may need a bit of help with some of the vocabulary though, but that is not a bad thing as long as there is a parent or older sibling there to help out. I would see this book appealing to ages 6 and upwards. I give Gnit Wit Gnipper and the Ferocious Ants 4 stars.

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

Children’s Book of the Week: Thomas and the Lily Pond by Jane Whiteoak


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I am thrilled to introduce this week’s Children’s Book of the Week, Thomas and the Lily Pond by Jane Whiteoak. With enchanting animal characters, charming illustrations and a fast pace this enjoyable little book shows children how friendship ultimately will triumph over bullying tactics. Please read my review below.

Thomas and the Lily Pond - Book cover: Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

About the Book                                                   Thomas and the Lily Pond is a book about bullying for children ages 4-6 yrs. old. A group of animals are living very contentedly in a forest until the arrival of a large outspoken frog, named Bruno. He attempts to manipulate the group through flattery and ultimately directs his insults at a docile, hardworking Turtle named Thomas. The group follow the directive of the bullying frog due to peer pressure, ultimately getting involved in a food heist at night! Bruno’s ultimate goal is to take over the lily pond completely for himself; he is almost successful! Chaos erupts when a huge storm arrives and most of them end up fighting for their lives in the water. Thomas does not hesitate to try and save them.                                                                                                                                About the Author                                                                                                         Jane Whiteoak has worked in media and communications for over thirty years. After her son had completed University, she changed careers, went back to school and became a Montessori teacher. She has always had a great respect and love for children and had started writing books for children, in health related areas, for a Company when she first started working, years ago. Thomas and the Lily Pond is Jane’s first e-book. Martin the Christmas Mouse, will be on Amazon KDP within the next few weeks. It is her second e-book. The illustrator for Jane’s books was a former amateur and pro-boxer. Interestingly, Ray Henderson was also a professional graphic artist and did work in advertising. His father was a professional artist from Kent, England. Jane and Ray collaborate on books together; he has a unique style with  animated animal characters.

My Review of Thomas and the Lily Pond
Thomas the turtle has a life that verges on perfection.  Idyllic home, lots of good things to eat and wonderful friends. Until, that is, the arrival of Bruno; an over-sized, overbearing and overtly Machiavellian frog.
Bruno arrives unannounced at Thomas’ lily pond one day, and with much blandishment and no small amount of  intimidation, manages to draft all the other animals onto his team, with each soon vying for his attention. But sadly, he turns on Thomas, whose friends, eager to stay in Bruno’s good books, and slightly overwhelmed by him, side with Bruno against Thomas and drive him away from the pond he loves so much. Bruno’s motivation is two-fold. He not only wants the pond for himself but he also wants the little animals to do his sneaky bidding. Thomas, he declares, is too ‘pokey’ to be bothered with.
I am pleased to say, Bruno does get his comeuppance and there is a happy ending.
Aside of the well-written narrative, another notable thing about Thomas and the Lily Pond are the illustrations by artist Ray Henderson. Original, colourful and bold, they complement the story beautifully – and there are plenty of them. There are some lovely descriptions by the author of the various animals too, making it easy for children to learn about different species.
At a time when we hear so much about bullying, Jane Whiteoak’s delightful book would be a most appropriate addition to any child’s bookshelf.  But it is not only about bullying – the story is also about friendship and how doing the right thing usually wins through in the end. It is a great little book to read aloud to small children, and I can just see them all cheering in Thomas’ corner. Nobody likes a bully!
Whilst the book is perfectly suited to the age group it is aimed at, I also feel children up to ten or more will enjoy it too.
I highly recommend this book and hope to be able read more of this author’s work soon.

Buy on Amazon    Flurries of Words    Author Page-Amazon    Under The Whiteoak Tree

Thomas and the Lily Pond - sample image- Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

GO away Thomas, let our new friend live here on his own.

Thomas and the Lily Pond - sample image - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

They stuffed themselves so much that they could hardly move…

Thomas and the Lily Pond - sample image - Children's Book Review on Mungai and the Goa Constrictor

Everyone returned to the peaceful life they had once known, deep inside the forest.