Category Archives: Book Review

It’s Raining Cats! It’s Raining Dogs! It’s Raining Bats! And Pollywogs! by Sherry West

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It’s Raining Cats! It’s Raining Dogs! It’s Raining Bats! And Pollywogs! written by Sherry West and illustrated by Sherry West and Larkin Stephen-Avery, picture e-book, published by Morgan James Publishing in 2019.

The rain began with cats, followed by dogs, but then things just got crazy! A zoo of animals begins raining from the sky in this fun picture book.

This really is a laugh out loud silly rhyming story book full of  gorgeously rendered animals in pastel colours.

Each page contained just a few lines of easy to read text. Most of the text is printed in black, but a selection of words are brightly coloured, which draws the eye to them. The lyrical story flows well, making it perfect for reading aloud. And overall, it was such a fun book to read.

The illustrations are whimsical and stylised, and perfect for little readers. I love the herd of guinea pigs, and the mice, and the penguins, and… oh, really I just adored all of the illustrations; they are so cute!

It’s Raining Cats! It’s Raining Dogs! It’s Raining Bats! And Pollywogs! is most suitable for toddlers and preschoolers. Lower primary school children may also enjoy reading this by themselves.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

 

Hurricane Vacation by Heather L. Beal

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Hurricane Vacation by Dr. Heather L. Beal and illustrated by Jasmine Mills, picture e-book, published in 2019.

Lily and Niko are visiting with their aunt and uncle when a hurricane watch is issued. They have never experienced a hurricane before, so Uncle Brian, Aunt Sarah and cousin Emma explain all about them.

Hurricane Vacation is an educational picture book designed to explain hurricanes to young children. It does this through the explanations given to Niko and Lily, and the actions that the characters need to undertake in order to prepare for the storm.

As well as being nicely integrated into the story, all of the information presented is clear and logical. The level of detail given is suitable for young children, including explanations of evacuation and storm shelters. A short song about shelters is included in the text, making it easy to remember that the shelters are the safest places to be during a hurricane.

It’s wonderful to see that even though something quite scary is happening in the story, the characters are all helping each other, and being happy to be together. The character’s reactions to the oncoming storm are calm and reasonable; there is no hysteria or anxiety, just the need to complete the preparations and get to the shelter safely. This helps remind us that we need to keep our heads in an emergency.

At the end of the story there are questions and activity suggestions, which will help to reinforce the knowledge gained via the story. There is also a list of resources for further investigation. Reading this story and trying some of the activities is a great way to prepare children for the possibility of a hurricane.

I really like the cover art for this book, it is clever and appealing, something that I would want to pick up and have a look at. The illustrations throughout the story are colourful and realistic. I like that the eye of the storm is drawn literally!

Hurricane Vacation is suitable for preschool children and primary school children, and would make an excellent tool for use in hurricane prone areas.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

The Booger Hunter’s Apprentice by Benoit Chartier

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The Booger Hunter’s Apprentice by Benoit Chartier and illustrated by JuanBJuan Oliver, picture e-book, published by Trode Publications in 2019.

Flintebetty Flonagan (Flin Flon for short) responds to a poster advertising for the position of Booger Hunter’s Apprentice. Flin Flon is not sure what the position will entail, but she accompanies the current Booger Hunter on her nightly rounds to find out.

When I saw the title had the word “booger” in it, I was prepared to read something gross, and probably funny, in a disgusting way. So I was pleasantly surprised when the story turned out to be about helping others rather than about snot wrestling. Of course, there are many ways to help and be kind to others, but the Booger Hunter works in a unique and niche role, not suited to many. Never had I considered that beasties would require help to remove the boogers from their offspring’s noses!

The story was nice enough, and certainly creative, but some of the word selection seemed forced. Parts rhymed, parts didn’t, and overall I found the flow of the story to be a bit stilted. The illustrations were detailed and colourful, and covered the entirety of the pages. I liked the owl on the first page, the length of the Booger Hunter’s nose and the feathery house the most. Due to the extensive pictures, the text was printed in white on the coloured illustrations, which I find more difficult to read. The text was also much smaller than I like to see in picture books.

I think that generally kids will like this story, first attracted by the word “booger”, and then fascinated by the illustrations, and the idea of a job removing boogers! And it does help to highlight that even small acts of kindness can make a difference.

The Booger Hunter’s Apprentice is most suited to preschool and lower primary school children.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made by Fiona Katauskas

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The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made by Fiona Katauskas, hardback picture book, published by ABC Books in 2015.

This is a cute and comprehensive aid for helping parents explain human reproduction to younger children. It covers basic anatomy, puberty changes, sexual intercourse, IVF, sperm donation, fertilisation, gestation, birth and breastfeeding.

We are very open in our family, with no topic off limits for discussion. We adjust the depth and detail of information as well as our language to suit the kids’ ages, but we never avoid their questions. I’d much rather they hear about some things from us, then get a grossly twisted version on the playground! So The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made really suited us. It provides all of the necessary information respectfully, with appropriate language and a little humour. I have used it with my three younger children when they were each around the age of five. We read it together and I answered any questions they had. They were all engaged and curious.

I really liked the way that gestation is explained, using a fruit analogy along illustrations of the growing baby inside its mother. The kids wanted to know if it actually felt like carrying a watermelon by eight months along. And my son did a wonderful impression of a caesarean birth, where he was the mother behind the sheet having her tummy cut open!

In the Feeding Baby section, the two pictures depict women breastfeeding. This is great, but I would have liked to see a picture of a baby being bottle-fed too. Fed is best, irrespective of whether that is from breast or bottle. (Trying not to rant here, just thinking about how I was made to feel like a failure when my baby needed formula, and I feel strongly that no one should be shamed for feeding their baby milk in whatever form they need).

The Amazing True Story of How Babies Are Made is suitable for lower primary school children and above. It is best read together!

 

The Bad Guys: Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey

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The Bad Guys: Episode 1 by Aaron Blabey, paperback chapter book, 144 pages, published by Scholastic Australia in 2015.

Mr Wolf is known for trying to eat old ladies and their relatives, but does that make him a “Bad Guy”? To change his image, Mr Wolf starts a good guys club with Mr Shark, Mr Piranha and Mr Snake, with the aim to help people, and to become heroes. Mr Wolf has plans to make this band of stereotypical baddies be seen in a better light, through rescuing cats in trees and freeing dogs from the pound. But, will his plan work?

The Bad Guys is an easy to read chapter book, fantastic for those just moving up from first readers. The book had a comic book feel to it, with the story told through the extensive black and white illustrations and character dialogue.

I read the first episode to my kindergartener, who absolutely loved it (and I did too!). I think my son could have read it himself, but at 144 pages, he was a little intimidated by the physical size of the book. However, with all of the illustrations, and only a small amount of text on any one page, it was quite a quick read.

All of the characters have some quirky traits, but I particularly liked Mr Wolf’s upbeat nature and his unwillingness to accept defeat. My son liked Mr Shark’s ability (and desire) to eat anything and everything, even his own hat! The group dynamic and the interaction between the individual characters was excellent. It was easy to believe that this group could turn their bad ways over for good with Mr Wolf’s leadership and some great teamwork.

Be prepared for a good laugh whilst reading The Bad Guys; just about everything in this story was funny. The reactions to being rescued by a wolf, a shark, a snake and a piranha are great, and of course, my son thought Mr Piranha’s gassy little problem in the car was hilarious! How sceptical of Mr Wolf’s plans the others are, and how completely committed to his mission Mr Wolf is, even how they dress, it is all funny. Overall, we just really enjoyed this turned backwards tale.

The Bad Guys series is now up to, as I write this, I believe, episode 9, so there is a lot more laughter and joy to be had from these four formerly dangerous pals. We are looking forward to their next mission.

The Bad Guys: Episode 1 is suitable for lower and middle primary school children.

Could a Whale Swim to the Moon? … and other questions by Camilla de la Bédoyère

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Could a Whale Swim to the Moon? … and other questions by Camilla de la Bédoyère and Aleksei Bitskoff, hardback junior non-fiction, published by QEB Publishing in 2015.

Want to learn about blue whales? This book will help to answer some of your questions, such as what if a blue whale came to stay, or tried synchronised swimming!

In Could a Whale Swim to the Moon? facts about blue whales are presented in a fun and quirky way, perfect for younger readers. The text was nice and big, and clear, making it easy to read. The amount of information on each page was not overwhelming, and the illustrations were lovely. My 5yo was fascinated by the baby whale being pushed in a pram with a milk bottle and I liked the whale strapped to the jumbo jet.

At the back of the book, there were some bonus facts, along with a map of the world showing where blue whales live. I found all these facts to be quite interesting and I enjoyed sharing them with my sons. I did have to do some quick calculations into metric lengths and weights, but that was just an extra brain workout for me!

Could a Whale Swim to the Moon? is suitable for preschool and lower primary school students. There are a number of other animal fact books in this series which I think will be worth taking a look at. I want to try Could a Tiger Walk a Tightrope? or Could a Penguin Ride a Bike? next.

The Truth According to Arthur by Tim Hopgood

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The Truth According to Arthur by Tim Hopgood and illustrated by David Tazzyman, hardback picture book, published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2016.

Arthur has had a little accident involving his brother’s bike and his mum’s car. He knows it was wrong and he really doesn’t want to get into trouble, so he has a go at bending, stretching and even ignoring the truth.

The Truth According to Arthur is a funny book about telling lies, and how the truth will usually come out. The Truth has been personified and appears beside Arthur throughout the book. When Arthur is modifying the truth, he is in fact performing that action on The Truth, which is a great visual for kids. The stories Arthur tells to cover up what has happened are very funny, as are the accompanying illustrations. I really liked the style of illustration; it was colourful, not overly busy, and conveyed the story in an appealing way for younger children.

I read The Truth According to Arthur to both of my sons, one of whom has a propensity for lying. No situation is too big or too small for him to lie about; he even lies about obvious things, such as telling us he put his toy away when it is clearly clutched in his hand… But he has his Arthur moments too. Most recently pretending to have a concussion at school because he liked the fuss and attention, and he got to come home early. So when I came across this book I thought it might be a great book to share with him. Both boys greatly enjoyed the story. It was excellent that they saw that no matter what Arthur did to The Truth, it was still there, waiting to be acknowledged fully. They also saw that when Arthur admitted the truth, his mother wasn’t too angry after all, even pleased that he had told the truth. I think this will help them to understand that telling the truth is the best strategy; there’s no need to have all the worry and upset that comes with lying.

The Truth According to Arthur is suitable for preschoolers and lower primary school children. I think it is best as a shared read with children to help encourage a discussion about being brave and telling the truth. We will be reading The Truth According to Arthur again, repeating the lesson, as I feel that it will have a positive effect on my boys.

 

Have You Ever Seen? by Sarah Mazor

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Have You Ever Seen? by Sarah Mazor and illustrated by Abira Das, picture e-book, published by MazorBooks in 2018.

Auntie Lily has conjured up some very silly rhymes for the children before bedtime.

I believe that rhymes and rhythm are important for early literacy. Not only are they pleasant to listen to, they are also important for early speech development, and for reading and spelling later on. Silly rhymes are lots of fun and can even help to encourage reluctant readers to get involved. And Have You Ever Seen? is definitely full of silly rhymes.

For me, there were a few things that I struggled with when reading this book. Firstly, the presentation of the mobi. file I was reviewing was awful. The edges of the pages were cut-off, so I adjusted the page size so that I could read all of the text, but then each page of the book was spread across two pages on my reader, as well as being slightly distorted. This is one of the reasons why I prefer to read a physical book, especially in the case of picture books. Have You Ever Seen? is available as a physical book as well as the Kindle edition.

Reader difficulties aside, the story was going along fine until donkey was rhymed with monkey. Yes they both have the same finishing sound, but these words do not rhyme. And to me, an almost rhyme is worse than no rhyme. There were a few examples of this, such as swan and lawn, hippo and depot.

What exactly is the Yak spreading his ketchup on? I think it’s supposed to be a burger, possibly ‘mac’ refers to the fast food burger chain, but I think this rhyme is just forced. The dove “raining pee pee from above”, well, that is actually how birds pee, so this page didn’t really fit with the rest of the silly rhymes, unless the author just wanted to use the words “pee pee” for the laughs.

The rest of the rhymes were just the right sort of funny and silly. I liked the sheep sleeping in the melon and the goat gardening on a boat. The illustrations were quite nice too, capturing the text extremely well. The mouse was super cute, but my favourite picture was the dancing lion.

At the end of the Kindle edition there are a number of rhyme riddles for the kids to solve. This was a nice addition to the story, and a great way to get kids practicing their rhyming skills.

Have You Ever Seen? is suitable for preschool and lower primary school children.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

My Dino Ate My Homework by Ingrid Sawubona

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My Dino Ate My Homework: a story about the fun of learning by Ingrid Sawubona, picture e-book, published in 2019.

Instead of helping the boy with his homework, the dinosaur eats it all up as a tasty afternoon snack. The dinosaur absorbs all the information, making him very smart, and he passes this new knowledge onto the boy.

I’m a little partial to dinosaur books, so I wanted to read this one as soon as I saw it. I enjoyed reading it and sharing it with my kids.

The text rhymes throughout the story, and contains some interesting factoids. My five year olds thought it was pretty funny, especially when the dino did the eating! I learnt that Maine only has one state neighbour, New Hampshire, which I did not know before.

The illustrations are really good. There are pictures on every page, which are detailed and clear, with great use of colour and shading. The boy’s hair and freckles are great! The pictures are also relevant to the adjacent text. My only complaint is that the picture of the food chain is incorrectly depicted as a cycle, rather than an hierarchy.

My Dino Ate My Homework is suitable for preschool and lower primary school children. It was enjoyable to read aloud with my little fellas, and has already been requested for a re-read at bed-time.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.

Princess Bella and the Dragon’s Charm by Pete Planisek

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Princess Bella and the Dragon’s Charm by Pete Planisek, illustrated by Elizabeth Nordquest, chapter e-book, 42 pages, published by Enceladus Literary in 2016.

Princess Bella is beautiful and kind, but she does not laugh. Eventually the people in her kingdom begin to refer to her as the Ice Princess because no one has ever heard her laugh. One evening after a particularly bad day, Princess Bella is dragonapped from the highest tower of the castle, and removed to a treasure-filled cave high in a distant mountain. Princess Bella quickly befriends the lonely dragon, Spurlock, and they enjoy each other’s company. After a while Princess Bella begins to feel homesick. She can’t stay in a dragon’s cave forever, can she?

A whimsical tale of friendship and acceptance, I quite enjoyed Princess Bella and the Dragon’s Charm. It was a quick and easy read, with short sentences and simple phrasing perfect for young readers starting out with chapter books.

Each chapter had a colourful illustration at the start showing an image from the story. These were not only cute, but also helpful in making the text less daunting for younger readers.

The story was heart-warming, and it made me laugh, especially when Prince Himmasnob was about! Even his hair was amusing. I have a soft spot for dragons, and I really liked Spurlock. The concept of an ice-skating, skiing, snow-ball tossing dragon just delighted me.

Princess Bella and the Dragon’s Charm is most suitable for lower to middle primary school children to read themselves, but it would also be a lovely story to share aloud.

 

*I received this book as a digital copy from the author, who asked me for an honest review of this book. I did not receive any other remuneration, and the review is composed entirely of my own opinions.