Category Archives: Reviews & Interviews

Book Review: Saving Thunder the Great: the true story – by Leanne Shirtliffe

 

 

 

 


Title: Saving Thunder the Great: the true story of a gerbil's 
rescue from the Fort McMurray wildfire
Author: Leanne Shirtliffe
Illustrator: Georgia Graham
Publisher: Boulder Publications
Date: November 2, 2016
Genre: nonfiction picture book; ages 4-8
Pages: 32, hardcover
Price: $21.95
My rating: A child-friendly telling of a traumatic true event 

Saving Thunder the Great: a true story of a gerbil’s rescue from the Fort McMurray wildfire, written by Leanne Shirtliffe is a story children will enjoy reading.

It was May 1, 2016, when a fire started outside the northern city of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada.

Jackson was visiting his grandparents in Newfoundland, the farthest eastern province of Canada, and had left his pet gerbil – Thunder the Great – in the care of his mother in Fort McMurray. His mother, Julie, was a young woman working nightshifts, trying to support herself and her son.

On the afternoon of May 3 Julie was wakened by a friend urgently telling her they had to get out of there, the wildfire was spreading so that all 88,000 residents of Fort McMurray had to be evacuated immediately. The fire was moving so quickly she had time only to throw some clothes into a suitcase, grab the gerbil in his cage, and head her car – low on gas – out of the city.

It was a terrifying experience. Along the way Julie stopped to pick up a few people who were walking in the choking smoke and let them out where they needed to go. Julie is the person who took a photo of a woman, Karley, riding her horse and leading her two others to get them out safely. That photo went “viral.” Georgia Graham‘s illustrations makes the reader feel the urgency.

The Fort McMurray wildfires were very dangerous and destructive. Author Leanne Shirtliffe, talked with Julie several times to get her personal story of the events, and through Saving Thunder the Great: the true story of a gerbil’s rescue from the Fort McMurray wildfire, her story is told on a level suitable for children to read while not ignoring the real-life drama. 

Although the beautiful illustrations by Georgia Graham show how close the fire was to the thousands of people escaping to save their lives, they do not make this book too scary for young readers. Her work is impressive and realistic.

In the back of the book you’ll find two pages of Author’s Notes about Fort McMurray and Julie, who is referred to as Mama through the story. Also, in case you read the publisher’s information on the last page and wonder about it … when I inquired about Saving Thunder the Great: the true story of a gerbil’s rescue from the Fort McMurray wildfire being listed as a fiction I was informed by the publisher “The book is non-fiction; the cataloguing citation is an error.”

You can find Saving Thunder the Great: the true story of a gerbil’s rescue from the Fort McMurray wildfire by Leanne Shirtliffe on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by authors, illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

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Book Review: Tuktuk: Tundra Tale – by Robin Currie

 

 

 

 

Book: Tuktuk: Tundra Tale
Author: Robin Currie
Illustrator: Phyllis Saroff
Publisher: Arbordale Publishing
Date: August 25, 2016
Genre: picture book; age 8-12, gr K-3
Pages: 32
Price: $17.95
My rating: educational entertaining story with life-like
 illustrations

 

Tuktuk: Tundra Tale by Robin Currie is educational in disguise, and children will love the accurate illustrations by Phyllis Saroff.

This story is set in the Arctic, “at the top of the world”, and on the first double spread we see an Inuit driver controlling his dog sled over the snow and ice. What we also see, that he does not, is one of his waterproof boots – a kamik – fall off the sled and land right beside a furry little animal named Tuktuk. Tuktuk is a collard lemming and he decides the kamik with its warm fur will be just right to help keep him warm as the colder weather of winter sets in. 

As Tuktuk is dragging the kamik the long way to his burrow, Putak the polar bear sees it and wants it. Tuktuk knows he can’t win against a polar bear so he comes up with a silly idea, convincing the bear the kamik is for his nose. The bear tries it on his nose but it makes him sneeze so ambles away without the boot. 

Using the rule of threes, Robin Currie brings two more animals who try to take the kamik from Tuktuk. Tuktuk has silly ideas for each of them and they leave without his find.

The rich, bold illustrations are amazing in Tuktuk: Tundra Tale. Each page is a feast for the eyes and adds great detail to the description in the story of the northern clime. “Polaris appeared in the expanding night sky …”  “The Northern Lights shone …”

In the back of the book is a section (that can be photocopied or printed from the website for educational use) called For Creative Minds, in which the reader will find very interesting information – Polar Seasons, Arctic Skies, Arctic Vocabulary, Life in the Cold: Animal Fun Facts – with illustrations from the book coinciding with the information. Beautifully done!

Tuktuk: Tundra Tale by Robin Currie is a book to treasure, both for its amusing adventure of a clever collard lemming and for the information revealed in its fabulous illustrations by Phyllis Saroff. Readers will discover more details with each read through.

You can find Tuktuk: Tundra Tale by Robin Currie on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by authors, illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

Book Review: You’re Here! – by Karla Oceanak

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: You're Here!
Author: Karla Oceanak
Illustrator: Julie Rowan-Zoch
Publisher: Bailiwick Press
Date: October 7, 2014
Genre: children's board book, year-by-year series 
Pages: 16
Price: $7.99
My rating: sweet story for baby and the whole family

You’re Here! by Karla Oceanak is a little board book heralding the arrival of a long-awaited new baby. Illustrated in subtle hues by Julie Rowan-Zoch, it is gentle and pleasing to the eye.

In only sixteen pages of a book made small enough for little hands to manage well, Baby is told how special his/her arrival is to the family. Baby’s milestone events are noted, such as first smile, first tooth, first time to crawl, and so on throughout the first year of Baby’s life. Presented in an endearing way, You’re Here! shows how much Baby has already grown, or will develop.

For other young children in the family, Julie Rowan-Zoch‘s illustrations in You’re Here! are sweet and fun to help them understand and recognize how their new sibling will change and grow just as they did.

You’re Here! by Karla Oceanak is ideal as a baby shower gift for the expected birth of a baby. At the end of the story, the parents express their joy in being selected by Baby, which also makes it a very suitable book for the adopted child.

You can find You’re Here! by Karla Oceanak on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by authors, illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

Book Review: Mae and the Moon – by Jami Gigot

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Mae and the Moon
Author-Illustrator: Jami Gigot
Publisher: Ripple Grove Press
Date: September 8, 2015
Genre: children's picture book; age 5-7; gr K-2
Pages: 36
Price: $16.99
My rating: A beautiful way to introduce children to 
the wonders of the moon

Mae and the Moon, written and illustrated by Jami Gigot, is a beautiful way to introduce children to the wonders of the moon.

Mae is a little girl who discovered the moon seems to be following her. Mae likes that because she really enjoys playing in the early evening when the moon is brightest. (If you look at the wonderful illustrations you will notice Mae is never far from her family, and her evening strolls are with her father, mother, little brother, and her dog who is always close.)

Mae and the moon like to play hide-and-seek, until one night the moon disappears entirely! Mae is quite upset and wonders if it will ever come back. When her mother tells her that even the moon needs to rest, Mae can’t wait for its return. She gets her dad to help her build a rocketship out of cardboard boxes, and her imagination takes her on a search into the starry sky to find the moon. Right when she imagines being able to hug the moon her dad says it’s time to come in. Then Mae makes another discovery!

Mae and the Moon will inspire curiosity about the moon’s phases as children read about Mae and her love of the moon. The illustrations are enjoyable, with only two pages showing Mae in the daytime when she can’t see the moon – when she’s busily planning her excursion to find it.

Young children will learn that the moon goes through phases to where it is only a sliver of light in the sky before it disappears until the new phase begins. On the inside of the back cover Jami has the phases illustrated, which will help children figure out what phase the moon is in – if they are in an area where city lights don’t inhibit that wondrous experience. This is a beautiful book to read over and over with many details to find. 

You can find Mae and the Moon by Jami Gigot on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by authors, illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

Book Review: Pirates in the Library – by Nadia Ali

 

 

 

 

Book: Pirates in the Library
Author: Nadia Ali
Illustrator: Jake Tebbit
Publisher: Star Bright Books
Date: November 30, 2016
Genre: children's picture book; age 5-8; Pre-school-3
Pages: 40
Price: $16.83 hardcover
My rating: a delightful story to encourage interest in the 
library

Pirates in the Library by Nadia Ali is a delightful story to encourage interest in the library, starting with that title.

Ms. Benitez, the librarian, thought of a way to get people interested in visiting the library. She sketched out a treasure map, made copies of it, and stacked them on her desk by an open window. The map was the Dread Pirate Dewey’s decimal map and showed how to find his treasure. 

A storm came up and out the window blew many of her maps! Out on the wild waves was Captain Jake, and one of Ms. Benitez’s maps stuck right on his face.  Of course, once he saw what it was, he was determined to find the treasure.

Fierce Captain Jake, his bold pirate crew, and their parrot too, came looking for the treasure. Ms. Benitez happily welcomed them, warning them not to shout or squawk, but to be quiet, and then directed them to rows and rows of “treasure.” Captain Jake was aghast that there were no rubies or diamonds or doubloons! Only books! Many books. When he realized all his crew had disappeared Captain Jake suspected the Dread Pirate Dewey had captured them, but then he found them all reading books about things that interested them, such as … cooking, navigating by the stars, learning to take charge, biographies, fiction, sports, and even the parrot was looking at a book of pictures of birds.

At the very end of the story … well, that’s funny, too. You’ll have to read it for yourself.

The fabulous illustrations for Pirates in the Library were created by Jake Tebbit and add depth to the story. The way Nadia Ali told the story is entertaining, with repetition in such a way that adds to the humour. 

Pirates in the Library is an enjoyable book for children and the adults who read to them. In the back of the book is the Dewey decimal system – which shows how it is worked out. Also, the end pages are fun with maps and X marking the spot where the treasure can be found.

You can find Pirates in the Library by Nadia Ali on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by authors, illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book review: Two Speckled Eggs – by Jennifer K. Mann

 

 

 

 

Book: Two Speckled Eggs
Author/Illustrator: Jennifer K. Mann
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Date: April 22, 2014
Genre: children's picture book; 5-8 yr; K-3
Pages: 32
Price: $14.99
My Rating: a wonderful story about enjoying being oneself

Two Speckled Eggs, written and illustrated by Jennifer K. Mann, is a story to encourage uniqueness, showing it’s okay to not follow the crowd.

Ginger was having a birthday party to which she wanted to invite all the girls in her class at school – all except Lyla. Lyla smelled like old leaves all the time and she didn’t talk much. Ginger thought Lyla was weird. But, Ginger’s mother wisely said to invite Lyla too or she could invite none of them. Ginger invited Lyla, too.

Lyla was the first guest to arrive at the party. — Here’s where you begin really appreciating Jennifer’s illustrations, because you see what Lyla’s interests are and how she sets herself apart. — When all the other girls came they started playing the party games. Ginger soon began feeling disappointed. The other girls didn’t play any of the games right, but kind of took over and did things their own way. When it came time for cake, all the girls, except for Lyla, were fussy and thought they didn’t like it so wouldn’t eat any. They left Ginger and Lyla sitting at the table while they ran off to play. The two girls start to connect when a funny thing happens while they are enjoying cake together.

When Ginger opens her presents later, her favourite one was from Lyla who’d obviously put thought into what she wanted to give her. Ginger discovered that, even though Lyla didn’t care about being like everybody else, she was more fun and a better friend than all the other girls Ginger had thought she wanted to be around.

Two Speckled Eggs by Jennifer K. Mann is a story to which many children can relate. (And adults, too.) The illustrations are adorable and wonderfully expressive in their simplicity. In fact, the reader can appreciate the story just through the illustrations and not miss anything. It’s beautifully done.

Two Speckled Eggsand don’t you love the title? – takes the reader from the hopeful anticipation of a little girl, through her disappointment, and into the realization of a new and unexpected friendship. That friendship shows her it’s not a bad thing to be different.

You can find Two Speckled Eggs by Jennifer K. Mann on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by authors, illustrators, and this blogger. ♥

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: Dear Santasaurus – by Stacy McAnulty

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Dear Santasaurus
Author: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrator: Jef Kaminsky
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press 
Date: October 1, 2013
Genre: children's picture book; age 5-7; K-3
Pages: 32
Price: $15.37
My rating: a fun and funny read

Dear Santasaurus by Stacy McAnulty is unlike any dinosaur book – or santa book – you’re likely to read.

Dear Santasaurus is a funny story about Ernest B. Spinosaurus, a young dinosaur who starts early in the year writing letters to Santasaurus. In fact, January 1 his first note is a thank you for his Christmas present – even though he already broke it. Every month he writes to Santasaurus, sometimes twice, and more in December just so he can try to be on the nice list.

 The notes also serve as his wish list which changes and grows throughout the year. In March, what starts out as a scooter, by April has increased to a Jurassic Turbo Scooter x9. In May is it a sea serpent blue Jurassic Turbo Scooter x9 and a raging raptor action figure. In June, it is now a Jurassic Turbo Scooter x9 with a working headlight, and never mind the raging raptor action figure – he now wants tar pit goo. Amusingly for the reader, Ernest B. Spinosaurus’s request gets more elaborate almost every month, and the bold creative illustrations by Jef Kaminsky add to the humour.

On Christmas Eve Ernest leaves a note for Santasaurus, just to remind him of the long list of features he wants his scooter to have. The description is so detailed (and changed) it’s quite funny.

The illustrations by Jef Kaminsky are very well-suited to the story, as Ernest B. Spinosaurus tries to do more nice things than naughty ones – a hard task for a mischievous young dinosaur to accomplish. Children will love the antics Ernest gets up to, and his attempts to convince Santasaurus he had good reasons for everything.

Children are sure to enjoy Dear Santasaurus by Stacy McAnulty. It’s a fun story for adults to read to them, too.

You can find Dear Santasaurus by Stacy McAnulty on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Goodreads, and when available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and Chapters.Indigo.

Your comments are greatly appreciated by authors, illustrators, and this blogger.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂