Category Archives: Reviews & Interviews

Book Review: There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight – by Penny Parker Klostermann

 

 

 

 

 

Book: There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight
Author: Penny Parker Klostermann
Illustrator: Ben Mantle
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Date: August 4, 2015
Genre: children's picture book; pre-school-2; age 3-7
Pages: 40
Price: $16.99
My rating: A very fun twist on an old nursery rhyme

 

I’m sure you know the nursery rhyme that starts with “there was an old woman who swallowed a fly, I don’t know why she swallowed a fly … ”  And I’m sure you’ve heard several variations of that rhyme. Well, if you haven’t read this one you really must treat yourself to this book.

There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann is a very entertaining story. She substituted the woman with a dragon and the fly with a knight. That in itself is funny, but when you see the illustrations it’s quite hilarious combined with the story-telling.

Penny‘s rhyming is fun to read and even to sing-along to, which – yes, I did, just to see how it sounded, you understand. (The rhythm is great, by the way.) She has the dragon swallowing the knight, then the knight’s royal steed – clippity, clippity, clippity, clopping around which became quite annoying to the dragon, the squire with his pants on fire, the cook with his recipe book, and more characters until he even swallowed the castle. Oh my! That was too much. The dragon had the realization he was being impolite and … well, you have to read it.  🙂  The ending has a surprise twist to it, too.

The illustrations by Ben Mantle are beautiful. The characters’ expressions and actions are so funny and in vivid rich colour. Each time I read There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight it makes me snicker, so I expect for children it’s so much fun to read and examine the pictures.

You can find There Was an Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight by Penny Parker Klostermann on my BUY THE BOOK page.

I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Goodreads, and sometimes Chapters.Indigo.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Advertisements

Book Review: The Darkest Dark – by Chris Hadfield, astronaut

 

 

 

 






Book: The Darkest Dark
Author: Astronaut Chris Hadfield with Kate Fillion
Illustrators: The Fan Brothers, Terry and Eric 
Publisher: Tundra Books (a division of Random House)
Date: September 13, 2016
Genre: children's picture book; pre-school-3; ages 4-8
Pages: 48; hardcover
Price: $17.99
My Rating: An excellent book to encourage children to dream
big and conquer their fears

I was very happy to win from Library Thing a copy of The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield. This is my honest review.

The Darkest Dark is a non-fiction picture book written by Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield – with Kate Fillion – about his dream of being an astronaut from the time he was a little boy.

Chris loved to pretend play that he was an astronaut. It was something he imagined most of the time and dreamed about at night.

It was summer vacation when the moon landing was shown on TV on July 20, 1969,  so Chris and his family went to a neighbour’s cottage to watch it. Chris was amazed to see real astronauts walking on our moon. It was then that he realized that outer space is the darkest dark there is, and he knew he had a problem. He was afraid of the dark. How could he be an astronaut if he was afraid of the dark?

That night Chris did an experiment. Instead of waking his parents or leaving his nightlight on he sat in the dark. Before that day he was afraid of any dark shadows and he imagined aliens in his room, but that night something was different. Nothing around him had changed, but Chris had changed. He realized the beauty of the dark sky and he made the decision to overcome his fear so that he could be what he most wanted … an astronaut.

This is a wonderfully told story about Chris Hadfield‘s childhood dream and his fear, the moment his life changed, and that dreams can come true. It is an encouraging story for children – anyone, really – who have hopes and dreams but fear stands in the way.

The Darkest Dark has gorgeous illustrations by The Fan Brothers, Terry and Eric. The pictures are mostly dark, which suit the story very well.

You can find The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

2 Book Reviews: Super Happy Party Bears: Gnawing Around & Super Happy Party Bears: Knock, Knock on Wood – by Marcie Colleen

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Super Happy Party Bears: Gnawing Around
Author: Marcie Colleen
Illustrator: Steve James
Publisher: Imprint
Date: September 6, 2016
Genre: children's; chapter book for K-3; age 5-8
Pages: 144; paperback
Price: $5.99
My rating: nine chapters of fun reading for young readers

Super Happy Party Bears: Gnawing Around, written by Marcie Colleen, is book one of a chapter book series for  young readers. 

In Super Happy Party Bears: Gnawing Around we are introduced to the Super Happy Party Bears who live in their own Party Patch in Grumpy Woods. They love all their neighbours but the sentiment is not appreciated nor reciprocated. The bears find a way to party for anything at all, but no one else wants to join them. Why? Because everyone else is working at being grumpy.

Mayor Quill (a porcupine) takes it upon himself to settle the situation, which leads to another problem. He goes home to take a bath when it’s discovered the water is gone. I like Marcie Colleen’s use of humour; for example, when his assistant cautiously speaks to the mayor who’s sitting in shallow water in his bathtub, “”… I just wanted to let you know there seems to be a problem with the water. It is missing, sir.” “You don’t say,” responded Mayor Quill.

It is soon discovered that the water problem was caused by an uninvited beaver family that recently moved into the neighbourhood. The Super Happy Party Bears are excited and want to have a party but no one else is thrilled. One thing leads to another and misunderstandings and funny situations abound.

Super Happy Party Bears: Gnawing Around is nine chapters of fun, laughs, and happiness trying to overcome grumpiness. Steve James has created great illustrations on every page which makes it even more enjoyable for the young reader.

You can find Super Happy Party Bears: Gnawing Around on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Chapters.Indigo, and Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Super Happy Party Bears: Knock, Knock on Wood
Author: Marcie Colleen
Illustrator: Steve James
Publisher: Imprint
Date: September 6, 2016
Genre: children's; chapter book for K-3; age 5-8
Pages: 144; paperback
Price: $5.99
My rating: nine chapters of fun reading for young readers

 

Super Happy Party Bears: Knock, Knock on Wood, written by Marcie Colleen, is book two of a chapter book series for young readers.

In Super Happy Party Bears: Knock, Knock on Wood we are re-introduced to the Super Happy Party Bears who live in their own Party Patch in Grumpy Woods.

In this book we meet Wallace the Woodpecker who is enthusiastically noisy. That does not go over well in the Grumpy Woods, but the Super Happy Party Bears find a rhythm in his constant knocking on wood. Of course, that’s reason to have a dance party!

When it is discovered that Wallace doesn’t simply peck holes in things, he creates designs, the Super Happy Party Bears hire him to fix things. Wallace gets so immersed in being creative he is soon doing things that are not appreciated, such as making a sun roof in Opal Owl’s house. Opal screeches, “I’m NOCTURNAL! I like it dark!”

Wallace decides he should leave the Grumpy Woods, but the bears don’t want him to. Of course there are lots more misunderstandings and funny things that happen before a resolution is found.

Super Happy Party Bears: Knock, Knock on Wood is nine chapters of fun, laughs, and attempts at trying to be neighbourly. Steve James has created great illustrations on every page which makes it even more enjoyable for the young reader.

You can find Super Happy Party Bears: Knock, Knock on Wood on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Chapters.Indigo, and Goodreads.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: Tadeo Turtle – by Janis Cox

tadeo-turtle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Tadeo Turtle
Author/Illustrator: Janis Cox
Publisher: Word Alive Press
Date: 2012
Genre: Children's picture book; ages 2-6
Pages: 24
Price: $12.25, paperback
My rating: A lovely book encouraging children to 
accept themselves

 

I won this book and agreed to write my honest review of it.

Tadeo Turtle by Janis Cox (Canadian author and retired school teacher) is an engaging story about a turtle not satisfied with how he was made.  He didn’t know the Scripture (quoted at the beginning of the book) from Psalm 139:13-14 that can be applied, in part, to his situation – “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it.” – New Living Translation

Tadeo (pronounced TAD-ay-OH) was a cheerful little painted turtle who loved to play. One day he met a squirrel who could run up trees, and Tadeo became sad because he couldn’t do that. Tadeo wished he didn’t have a shell that he thought was a hindrance to him.

One night he dreamed that he was free of his shell so that he could run and climb, too. Tadeo was happy about that until a cat spied him and thought he was a rat. Poor Tadeo. He tried to hide among the rocks, and then found one that smelled like home. It was his shell that looked like a rock! It was then that Tadeo realized how safe he was inside his shell, just as God intended.

This is a fun story in rhyme. The rhyme doesn’t quite make the cut in some places, but it’s not enough to throw the reader out of the story. Janis Cox illustrated her story beautifully. I especially like the face of the cat, and the colours Janis chose throughout the story are very pleasing to the eye.

Isn’t this beautiful? I’m showing this image by permission of Janis Cox, the author/illustrator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the back of the book, the author included an activities section with instructions for children on how to make a paper plate turtle, a dough turtle, a rock turtle, and a felt board with pieces to make a turtle, rocks, and water. The author has not left her teaching experience behind as this book is a great tool in a classroom.

Janis Cox also included a research page with links to how to learn more about different turtles, and other interesting information. Tadeo Turtle is a book children will enjoy.

You can find Tadeo Turtle by Janis Cox on my BUY THE BOOK page. I also post my reviews on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Chapters.Indigo, and Goodreads.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: I Thought This was a Bear Book – by Tara Lazar

 

I Thought This Was a Bear Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: I Thought This Was a Bear Book
Author: Tara Lazar
Illustrator: Benji Davies
Publisher: Aladdin
Date: August 2015
Genre: children's; picture book; pre-school - 2; age 4-7 yrs
Pages: 32; hardcover
Price: $17.99 (varies)
My rating: a fun, creative change-up of a familiar fairytale

Tara Lazar is a prolific children’s author with an imagination that is intriguing and humorous. I Thought This Was a Bear Book is her second of five books so far, with another one coming out this spring and one in 2018.

In I Thought This Was a Bear Book we meet the bear family – Papa, Mama, and Baby – out berry-picking. Overhead there is an alien spacecraft obviously in trouble and coming in for a landing. Only Baby seems to notice at first.

On those first two pages of the story the words are “Once upon a time there were three bears.” From then on those words are the only ones that are not conversation between the characters in the story, aside from onomatopoeia, such as WHOOSH and THUNK! Also, those two pages are illustrated by Benji Davies to look like the pages of an open book.

Look at what I mean; this is one page, not several.

i-thought-this-was-a-bear-book-page

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t that neat? 🙂

Apparently, the alien somehow fell out of his book and landed in theirs! Such a conundrum. He was quite bewildered and when face-to-face with the bear family he was indignant at being called a martian. “I am Prince Zilch from Planet Zero!” he informed them. They set out to try to find a way to send him back to his own book in time for him to save the planet from giant planet-eating numbers.  See what I mean about Tara’s amazing imagination? I would never have come up with an idea like that. 

This story is quite funny with the prince saying zark, zoot, zinder when he is feeling overwhelmed. A tour bus stops for tourists to take pictures of the bears and the alien, while Prince Zilch and the bears are trying to find a way to get him back to page 27 in his book. Goldilocks even makes her appearance, much to the bears’ dismay. 

There are many ideas they come up with, all the while Baby Bear is trying to get their attention so he can share his idea on how to help. Benji Davies‘ illustrations add so much to the story, some being really funny, and all bright and interesting. As you read you must pay attention to the extra activities going on in the story through the illustrations – just because it’s so much fun.

Tara even includes the reader in helping to solve the prince’s problem, making it an interactive book in that way. I Thought This Was a Bear Book is an entertaining read for which you might want to have a little extra time to enjoy and share with a young reader or pre-reader. There is so much entertainment in the story.

You can find I Thought This Was a Bear Book by Tara Lazar on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: Without Proof – by Janet Sketchley

without-proof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book: Without Proof: a Redemption's Edge novel
Author: Janet Sketchley
Publisher: Janet Sketchley
Genre: Christian suspense
Date: October 10, 2015
Pages: 308
Price: paperback, $12.99
My rating: a suspenseful story of hope

I won this book from the author and, very late, I’m posting my honest review.

Without Proof is book three of a trilogy by Canadian author Janet Sketchley. Even though it is the third in the series, the author gives enough information so that the first two books are not necessary for the reader to easily follow and enjoy the storyline. This novel can stand on its own. (I read and reviewed the first book, Heaven’s Prey, HERE, if you would like to check it out.) I haven’t read book two, Secrets and Lies, but would like to purchase it and find time to read it later.

In Without Proof a young woman, Amy, is recovering from serious injuries she suffered in a plane crash two years before. Her fiancé, Gilles, did not survive it, so she is left alone and grieving. Her fiancé’s Aunt Bay takes her in, and his best friend, Michael, helps out however he can. Michael also has an art business, so Amy helps manage it while struggling with her memories, physical pain, and emotions, including her growing feelings for Michael.

Janet Sketchley’s writing style is easy to read and enjoy. She pulls the reader right into the story, meaning that once into the story the reader doesn’t want to leave until the end. In this novel, there is suspense and enough going on to keep the reader interested in trying to figure out who is doing what to whom. Someone leads Amy to believe the plane was sabotaged, and in trying to find out the truth Amy places herself in danger. There are threats, break-ins, mysterious people, and enough drama to keep the pages turning in anticipation. And, of course, there are surprises – events that occur to keep up the level of suspense.

God is front and center in Aunt Bay’s life, and yet Amy isn’t sure how God fits in her own life or even if He does. Without Proof is written without profanity, is not preachy or “religious” – although there is a hopeful message – and is a story that leaves the reader satisfied. In the back of the book, there are even discussion questions that are great for a study group or a book club.

Without Proof was a finalist is the Word Awards (Suspense Category).

You can find Without Proof by Janet Sketchley on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: The Very Fairy Princess: Sparkles in the Snow – by Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton

the-very-fairy-princess-sparkles-in-the-snow

 

 

 

 


Book: The Very Fairy Princess: 
        Sparkles in the Snow
Authors: Julie Andrews & Emma Walton Hamilton
Illustrator: Christine Davenier
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Date: October 15, 2013
Genre: children's picture book
Pages: 32
Price: $18 - $20
My rating: delightful story that will encourage young readers

The Very Fairy Princess: Sparkles in the Snow was written by mother-daughter team, the famous Julie Andrews and her accomplished daughter Emma Walton Hamilton.

Geraldine is a little girl who believes in her heart that she is a fairy princess. She wears her tiara all the time and is cheerful and helpful (most of the time) because she has a SPARKLY feeling inside.

Gerry is excited because they are having a Winter Wonderland Festival at school. The best part is the concert when she gets to sing with the chorus.  She does everything she can to impress their music teacher so he will be persuaded  to select her as the one to sing the solo. When he announces that there is a professional singer coming to be the soloist Gerry is very disappointed.

The day of the concert is a snowy one – just right for a Winter Wonderland – and that cheers up the fairy princess. She and her family get ready to go to the school as she warms up her voice. When they finally arrive through the storm the music teacher, Mr. Higginbottom, tells them the storm has prevented the soloist from making it to the concert. He has to make a decision. That’s when Gerry discovers she’s forgotten her shoes! (She does something very creative, which, apparently, is something the author, Julie Andrews, did as a child to remedy a similar situation.)

Here are some of Geraldine’s rules of life as a fairy princess:

  • try to spread joy and wonder whenever and wherever you can
  • take a frown and turn it upside down
  • always be well prepared
  • always be happy to lend a hand in a crisis

The Very Fairy Princess: Sparkles in the Snow is entertaining, realistic, and funny in the right places. It’s easy to read and holds the reader’s attention. Children will be encouraged to believe in themselves and to have a positive attitude. (Personally, I believe this book is especially helpful to little girls who often feel insignificant.)

The illustrations by Christine Davenier are delightful and so precisely capture the heart of the story. Through the descriptive artwork the reader is given a rounded-out view of the story so that the main character is understood even better.

You can find The Very Fairy Princess: Sparkles in the Snow by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton on my BUY THE BOOK page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂