Showing posts with label educational. Show all posts
Showing posts with label educational. Show all posts

Friday, November 2, 2018

ABC for Me: ABC What Can She Be? by Jessie Ford

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This was a sweet and fun (and full of color in more ways than one) book for young children about a girl dreaming of what profession she might follow when she grows up, and unlike for far too many women of older generations, everything is open to her, but it's curiously in alphabetical order! So two ways to teach!

She imagines one thing after another and appropriately she doesn't shun traditional feminine occupations, but neither is she afraid of exploring professions where women have been scarce or absent in times thankfully past. This is entirely how it should be because in the end, it is her choice what to do with her life! That's the whole point: she can be anything she chooses. She's not afraid to take charge of that choice, and no one has any right to condemn or even judge her for what she chooses.

This is a great book for young girls who might appreciate having some cool ideas put into their heads and any possibly perceived limitations shredded. I commend it as a worthy read.

STEAM Stories: The Great Go-Kart Race (Science) by Jonathan Litton, Magalí Mansilla

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Written simply by Jonathan Litton, and colorfully illustrated by Magalí Mansilla, this is another in a series aimed at promoting young people's interest in the sciences, technology, engineering, and math, and this one takes an engineering and a problem-solving approach, teaching a little physics and intelligent thinking along the way. Girls are sadly underrepresented in these fields and the professions suffer from that, so anything that serves to promote an interest in these subjects as a path to a profession, is to be welcomed.

It's the big go-kart race and our diverse boy-girl team are competing, but it's not simply a matter of steering the vehicle around a track! There are unexpected problems along the way and some very inventive and thoughtful efforts at solving them are required. Our boy and girl are equal though, and equal to the challenge, both of them contributing to the solutions. It's this team work, even in the midst of this highly-competitive race, that pays off, as it always will. I commend this as a worthy read for young children of both genders and all shades.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Hair by Leslie Patricelli

Rating: WORTHY!

This was an amusingly written and colorfully illustrated young children's pasteboard-style book about hair, which I found amusing. I can't speak to whether young kids will find it the same, but my best guess is they will enjoy it. It's the perfect read when you're readying to take them to the hairdresser for the first time. It was actually in a hairdresser's that I found this in a rack for the very purpose of entertaining young visitors. It covers several aspects of haircare and hair interests and I thought it was fun and a worthy read for the intended audience.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

O is for Old School by James Tyler

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

A is for apple is old school. This new look at children's ABC's is da biz! I loved it. There's no reason you can't have fun educating your kids, so why not start with this new look, where A is for 'all good', D is for 'dawg', H is for 'hood' and so on?! The book is colorful, amusingly illustrated, and spot on with the alphabet! I commend it as an original, amusing, and a welcome and different take on your ABC's! Word, Bro!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

I Spy the 50 States by Sharyn Rosart, Sol Linero

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Fifty States in Fifty Pages! This is intended as a print book, but all I merit as an amateur reviewer is the ebook, which is fine because I love trees far more than I love print books, but it doesn't quite work as the author intended because one of the treats of the print version is a spy-hole through which you get a glimpse of the next page so you can try to guess at your next destination. These spy-holes are represented by little red circles in the ebook.

The tour begins in New England and proceeds from there and a linear and switchback fashion. On each double-page, a state is represented with many small and colorful pictures by artist Sol Linero, and the author writes a few words. I think she had the easier job! The words are a tease because you have to find three things she names, each starting with the same letter. This worked fine until we reached Vermont, the third state in the trip, where I was told to find a Sugar Shack, a snowshoe, and a sleigh. I found the first two, but there ain't no sleigh in Vermont! I had to wonder if the fishing lure was mistaken for a sleigh up in the top right corner, or if a snowboard was mistaken for one at lower left?

The rest of the pages I checked (not all of them!) I didn't see any such issue with, and maybe I'm blind that I can't see the sleigh. There are so many pictures, it might be easy to miss something. I haven't been to all fifty states, but I've visited many and lived in several, and it was nice to be reminded of some of the things I'd seen there. The book is fun, and colorful, and offers a lot of things to keep a child's interest. I commend it as a worthy read and a great distraction on a long trip!

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

It Takes a Village by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Marla Frazee

Rating: WORTHY!

I have to say that yet again, Goodreads screwed up royally with a book blurb. Here's how it begins: "In Mrs. Clinton book..." - way to denigrate a female author by making her an appendage of a guy. Not 'Hillary Clinton', but Mrs (Bill) Clinton. Seriously? She might have forgiven him for his shameful conduct in the White Wash Ovum office, but I never will.

I know this illiterate blurb was more than likely hand-crafted by a reviewer whose doesn't know how to cut and paste from the publisher's book description, but isn't this kind of thing what the world's most useless librarians (Goodreads style) need to fix? Oh right, that's not what they do. Frankly, I have no idea what they do do, but I do know for a fact that it ain't much.

Finally comes the only one of the collection of young children's books by celebrities that I looked at today, that sent any kind of a decent message or had any kind of respectability to it.

Told in gentle, community-building tones and illustrated sweetly and diversely by Marla Frazee, whose work I enjoyed when I favorably reviewed Clementine and the Family Meeting by Sara Pennypacker back in January of 2017, this book does the job it sets out to do and I commend it. Ignore the professional Clinton-haters and naysayers, take a look at it online and make up your own mind!

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

They say Blue by Jillian Tamaki

Rating: WORTHY!

I commend this book! Reading it was like reading a series of haikus. The theme is color and it meanders all over the world and the seasons, starting with the blue sky and ocean in summer, and drifting through the seasons. It was beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated and I fell completely in love with it. I enjoyed Jillian Tamaki's drawings in Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley, which I favorably reviewed back in June of 2016. It's nice to see her out on her own. I recommend this nook, even if you don't have children!

Hedge Hog by Ashlyn Anstee

Rating: WORTHY!

I used to keep pet hedgehogs when I was a kid and I adored them. Naturally when I saw this book I was interested in reading it. The key to how this is going to play out is in the fact that in the title, hedgehog isn't one word!

Hedgehogs are known fro balling up, but no hedgehog balls up like this one did. The animals are all getting ready for winter (unnaturally it must be said, if verisimilitude is your goal in children's books!) and are bunking up together to stay warm, unlikely bedfellows snuggling down for winter. The only one who seems to be antisocial is the hedgehog who frankly is rather prickly, and who refuses to let anyone share his hedge.

Well things go south - and it's not the animals. Hedgehog suddenly finds himself without a bunk and the other animals are kind enough to forgive him and let him in. Lesson learned.

This was a fun and playful book with amusing images and I commend it for any child who might need to learn a little about sharing, or who might just like a sweet, fun book that can open up a great discussion about selfishness.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

We Love the Library by Mike Berenstain

Rating: WORTHY!

This was a short, fun, colorful children's book about a trip to the library. There's not much to say about that, except that anything which encourages kids to read is to be encouraged itself! Reading is truly an important thing in a child's growth, and that;s why I think books like this are a good reading tool. I recommend it.

Round is a Tortilla by Roseanne Greenfield Thong

Rating: WORTHY!

This was a small format, short, fun book with a strong Latin influence, aimed at teaching young children simple shapes and encouraging them to find shapes in things they see. It was colorful with illustrations by John Parra that were unsophisticated, but without being too simplistic, and the text was an easy read, warmly written, and offered a look at Latin life as well at common shapes. I think this is a fun read for children and educational to boot. I recommend it.

Sloppy Takes the Plunge by Sean Julian

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Sloppy is a tree dragon, and as anyone who knows anything can tell you: tree dragons love being mucky and do not mix well with water. Unless it's well water...well, maybe. But. Dewdrop is a fairy and as anyone who knows anything will also tell you, fairies do not hug mucky tree dragons. So maybe Sloppy will take a bath? But what about sharks and crocodiles? But what about baby ducklings who are afraid of the water? Maybe sloppy can help?

This was a fun book designed to lure kids into the bathtub, and anything that can do that is worth a read! I liked the book. it was fun and boisterous, and colorful and playful. I also liked the characters, and I consider this a very worthy read.

Riley Knows He Can by Davina Hamilton, Elena Reinoso

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

This is a great children's story by Davina Hamilton told in poetry, and remarkably illustrated by Elena Reinoso in an almost 3D effect. It was really nice to see a good mix of children - not all white folks - for a change. Riley is acting in the school play. He plays a benevolent king, but the real life Riley has nerves. Fortunately, his supportive family are there, and his big sister tells him that whenever he has doubts he should remind himself that he can do it. He takes her advice, and it works!

This was a nice, breezy, upbeat and supportive story that moved fast, made its mark, and was a pleasure to read. I recommend it.

Don't Dangle Your Participle by Vanita Oelschlager, Mike DeSantis

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Vanita Oelschlager taught school for two decades and now teaches children via books! I've favorably reviewed at least two of hers before: A Tale of Two Daddies and A Tale of Two Mommies. This one is precisely one of those teaching books - aimed at something that's really quite important for any writer who doesn't want to look like a complete goofball! Or perhaps more accurately, an incomplete goofball?! I've noticed errors of the type demonstrated here in published books which I've reviewed, so no one is free of this pitfall.

I can never think of 'dangling participle' without thinking of Tim Curry in the Sylvester Stallone comedy movie Oscar. He plays a speech therapist, Doctor Pool...oh wait! I need to re-arrange that sentence! Curry plays a speech therapist, Doctor pool, who is being employed by Stallone's gangster character, "Snaps" Provolone, who is trying to go legit. At one point, Connie, Snaps's henchman, says, "Congratulations Doc! Will there be a honeymoon following?" and Dr Pool replies, "Watch it there Connie, you've got a dangling participle!" which Connie completely misinterprets of course.

That movie didn't do so well, although I love it, but there's nothing naughty or risqué in this book. Using examples of everyday children's activities: going to the zoo, eating ice cream (hopefully not an everyday activity!), skateboarding and so on, we get to see the error and then the correction, supported by some amusing and colorful illustrations by Mike DeSantis and there's even a page at the end showing how to draw and color a lion! I liked this book and think it well worth sharing with your children.

Foam Crafts for Kids by Suzanne McNeil

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

Subtitled: Over 100 Colorful Craft Foam Projects to Make with Your Kids, this book was a fun read. I have to say up front that i personally am not a fan of foam crafts, nor have iI ever indulged in any, but I read this book through and I looked up the details of making these things (everything you need to know is in this book!), and I have no doubt that if you follow the author's instructions, you will make these items successfully, and take a joy in doing them, especially if you're a young kid.

Some of the items have a practical use, others are decorative (which is also practical when you think about it!). There were some really fun items. I particularly found the finger puppets amusing. I'm in process of putting out a series of amateur children's books called The Little Rattuses, which is mainly done with drawings and photographs, but I can see myself putting out one of these books featuring images made purely from foam-crafted rats after reading this. I'm not kidding!

I can see kids having a ton of fun with these items (finger puppets I'm looking at you!), and with the satisfaction of knowing you can make your own toys! Working with one's hands has the advantage of somewhat rewiring one's brain and allowing you to see things differently. That's never a bad thing, and it prepares children for other challenges later in life.

I think the book is well done. It's a blaze of color, with examples and templates for cutting out shapes (not sure how those work in the ebook version, quite honestly!), as well as many tips and hints for success. This author is serious about this craft and it shows in her advice, safety tips, and hints and examples. I recommend this for anyone interested in crafting and in teaching kids a craft.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Catalina and the King's Wall by Patty Costello, Diana Cojocaru

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

A dear friend recommended this to me and I was glad she did. She has a knack for finding cute children's books, and this is one of the cutest. Illustrated colorfully and prettily by Diana Cojocaru, and written wittily and with a great delight in making choice puns by Patty Costello, it tells the story of a young woman's quiet determination to undermine the isolationist policy of the king.

Catalina is cookie-maker to the king and when she learns of his plan to build a wall between his nation and the nation next door (because they're 'different'), she cannot bear the thought of being separated from her family and concocts a series of seditious subterfuges to sabotage the king's plan - and she succeeds!

I loved the story, and adored the art. The book is short and very telling, and is most enjoyable. I fully recommend it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

VBQ—The Ultimate Vegan Barbecue Cookbook by Nadine Horn; Jörg Mayer

Rating: WORTHY!

This is from an advance review copy for which I thank the publisher.

It's been a long time since I've been a vegan, but as a vegetarian I still keep my eye on what's happening and this is why I requested this for review purposes, because it's a topic you don't often see: a barbecue cookbook for vegans! Lots of recipe books, but nary a barbecue book amongst them!

This one was full of tasty and useful suggestions, hints and tips, including information about selecting a maintaining a Barbecue grill - even if you live in an apartment (assuming you have access to some outdoor balcony or something where you could grill). It begins with a lengthy section on barbecuing in general, followed by an introduction to barbecuing vegan style with lots of useful pointers about grilling just right, including retaining moisture and not over-grilling.

The next few sections cover burgers, sandwiches and patties, then "steaks" (including Seitan style!), "sausages", and skewers, stuffed, braised, and grilled veggies, grilled "cheese" sandwich, chapatis, veggie chili, sweet potato buns, pizza (including Vietnamese style!), wraps, and so on. The last time I grilled a wrap my wife refused to wear it and made me buy her a new one! I could probably have used the advice in this book right then! But seriously, the book goes on to cover salads (including Sichuan style!) and sauces, basics, bread, and more, so it's pretty darned comprehensive.

The only complaint I would have is one which I have about all ebooks which contain photos. It's nothing to do with these authors or this book in particular. Actually you could blame me, because I read my books in 'night' mode which saves on battery power because it lights up only the text, leaving the screen background black. The problem with this is that all images show negative, so you have to put it back into daytime mode to see the image as the author(s) intended. I'm not sure anything can be done about that - although you'd think it oughtn't to be beyond today's technology. So this is a ebook reader/ebook app issue, not a problem with this book per se.

That aside, I recommend this book for a refreshing variety of ideas, food preparation tips and tasty meals! Grilling ain't just for carnivores any more!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Where is Baby's Belly Button? by Karen Katz

Rating: WORTHY!

Talking of stimulating a child's mind, which I was in my last few reviews as it happens, here's another fun book that's aimed at very young children, which can do just that. It also teaches about parts of the body such as eyes, feet, hands, and of course, navel gazing! Each page asks a simple question and on the color illustration lies a flap that can be lifted and which will, I promise you, answer the question! The cute pictures of the children are wonderfully diverse, so no child will feel left out. I thought this was fun and appropriate for young children and I recommend it.

Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai, Kerascoët

Rating: WORTHY!

I favorably reviewed Malala Yousafzai's I Am Malala back in August of 2015, and also Raphaële Frier's book about her, aimed at young children, back in October of 2016. This is a book for younger children still, and was penned by Yousafzai and illustrated by Kerascoët, which is the joint nom de plume of artists Marie Pommepuy and Sébastien Cosset.

Beautifully written and gorgeously illustrated, it tells an autobiographical story of Malala's childhood fancy and dream, and of what she wished for in a world which was and still is extremely hostile to half the population. I think it makes a worthy read for anyone. I'm truly sorry that it may not reach those children who are most in need of hearing these words.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Wnaethom Ni Ddim Rhoi'r Gorau Iddi by Richard Carlson

Rating: WORTHY!

This is a book that's currently free on barnes and Noble. The English title is We Didn't Give Up. It's described as a "Children's Picture Book" although the pictures are few, and are simple black and white line drawings that look more like chickens than ducks! That aside, the text is in English and then Welsh. There are other versions, such as Dutch, Haitian Creole, Italian, Spanish, Thai, and so on. The author also has other books created along these same lines, but this is the only one of his I've read.

The story tells of a mom and her three ducklings heading to the pond for a swim, being repeatedly interrupted by a very strong wind, but the mom and her ducklings do not give up and of course eventually are blown into oblivion. April Fool! I'm kidding, Of course they make it to the pond. I think this is a great idea for kids who want to learn English - or a second language, but there's no pronunciation guide given to the lingo either for the English version or the foreign (to me!) language version interspersed with it.

That said I still think it's a fun simple story that can help learn a new language and so I recommend it. Learning another language - and it doesn't matter which, or even if it's a computer language or music, which is another language, or math, which is yet another language - can really improve a child's mind and help them to think outside the box, so it's worth the effort.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mr Hoopeyloops and His Amazing Glass by Andi Cann, Fabrice Bertolotto

Rating: WORTHY!

I wasn't sure what to expect from this title, but it intrigued me! Was this a children;s book about a drunk for goodness sakes? Or was it more likely about someone who had an awesome spyglass? Wrong on both counts, but this was a fun children's book with a good story told on one page and a colorful illustration on the next, and so it went.

Mr Hoopeyloops was an odd sort of a guy who liked to retreat into his barn with bags of sand, and sometimes pipes. At other times he would drive around and make comments about the details of places he visited in town - like nice windows or pretty bowls. When other people weren't pointing at him they were ignoring him. But he certainly was up to something and they were about to find out what!

This was a nice, educational read about a topic rarely covered in children's books, and it had plenty to interest and intrigue young readers. You can play guessing games about what Mr Hoopeyloops is up to. I recommend it.