Thursday, May 24, 2012

Scaredy Squirrel at Night: silly, fun, want more

Scaredy Squirrel at Night
By Mélanie Watt
Hardcover,  32 pages
Kids Can Press, March 2009


I LOVE Scaredy Squirrel. It's creative. It's cute. It's funny. The best thing-there are many other Scaredy Squirrel books. My son was confused about why Scaredy Squirrel was scared of fairies. And maybe unicorns too. And there is a part about horoscopes that kids may not get or you'll have to explain it to them...(shouldn't be too difficult?) But seriously, it's fun to read. You can get the 1st one if the series here on amazon.

Rated: 5 Bites

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom: You're gonna clean that up right?

Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom
By Eric Wight
Hardcover, 96 pages
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009
Ages 7-10

Like most kids, Frankie Pickle hates cleaning his room. But what happens when his Mom says he never has to clean it again! Frankie and his unstoppable imagination mean fun. He and his side-kick Argyle become explorers swinging on vines, forging paths through piles of clothes, and scooting past lava pits! They perform flawless surgery on a broken action figure! They spend time in the big house. They even become superheroes. But will all this imagining be enough to conquer... the closet of DOOM?

I was recommended this book by Matt David of (By the way have you checked out his artwork for us on Well I guess "thanks" to Matt, my son tried (successfully) to read this book at 11-something AT NIGHT after we had come back from a weekend trip... and he had school the next day (in which I let him sleep in and miss a little school). When my husband told me that our son was reading in bed and that I should be proud/happy? about that, I didn't realize he was serious! I mean, it was 11-something. Possibly midnight-something. I eventually realized the truth and placed it on the bookshelf to stay there and not to be read further at that time.

Well I suppose it was a winner book for my son. For me-it was alright. Not horrible. Not wonderful. It was alright. But this morning my son picked up Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000 and started to read that just before we left to school and ended up reading it while on the way to school. So winner, right?

The book is also told with many pictures and some comic strip like pages in there as well. Great for reluctant readers, I'd say.

Rated: 5 Bites because the child liked it and went for another book in the series!

You can buy Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom and his other stories on

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Monster Calls: with a bittersweet answer

A Monster Calls
By Patrick Ness (Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd)
Hardcover, 215 pages
Candlewick Press, September 2011

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting — he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. 

The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. 

From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd — whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself — Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

If you like Jeffers' The Heart and the Bottle (Check out our review here), you may enjoy this one too. It's a similar message but on a larger, more insightful scale.

A Monster Calls is a deep and beautiful tale which I almost didn't read because of the title and cover; I tend to shy away from "scary" stories and not really knowing anything about the book, from the looks of the cover and title, I wasn't sure if I wanted to read it.

Well, the title describes it perfectly and yet it does not. And the story is scary and yet it isn't.

This is one story that I hesitant to share too much about because the story is so beautifully written and the themes so true. Everyone can relate because we all have monsters. We may not all be in Connor's specific story, but we all share similar stories of sadness, pain, fear, and truth. It's a story both sweet and bitter.

There was only one part that I didn't fully understand; the monster wanted to make a point about spoiler (invisibility--but Why did the monster need to instigate such brutality on the bully? Was it just an extension of Conor's inner anger?)

Overall, such a deep deep reflection on the fragility of our souls and the healing power of truth.

Note: Patrick Ness took inspiration for this story from Siobhan Dowd, who recently passed away. I appreciated that the story was written by Ness and not a mimic of Dowd's writing. It makes it more real this way.

Note #2: Make sure you have a box of tissues with you....

Rated 5 Bittersweet Bites

The Heart and the Bottle: A story for grieving

The Heart and the Bottle
By Oliver Jeffers
Hardcover, 32 pages
Philomel, March 2010
Ages 4+

There is a wonder and magic to childhood. We don't realize it at the time, of course...yet the adults in our lives do. They encourage us to see things in the stars, to find joy in colors and laughter as we play.

But what happens when that special someone who encourages such a wonder and magic is no longer around? We can hide, we can place our heart in a bottle and grow up...or we can find another special someone who understands the magic. And we can encourage them to see things in the stars, find joy among colors and laughter as they play.

Oliver Jeffers delivers a remarkable book, a tale of poignancy and resonance reminiscent of The Giving Tree that will speak to the hearts of children and parents alike.

Reviews with Robot and Midnite

Robot's Review: The first book I read from Oliver Jeffers was The Book Eating Boy. That one I absolutely LOVED! This one was different, but I still liked it. The Book Eating Boy was funny and so I think I set myself up thinking this book would be similar. But, The Heart and the Bottle is rather serious. Well, we still had fun reading it because of the pictures. Jeffers is a fantastic illustrator. The Heart and the Bottle is about a girl who's father died and it breaks her heart. At least that's how I saw it. And it takes her a while to heal. And she is ready to put her heart back in its place but doesn't know how to get it out and needs help.

Though it was a nice book, it seemed a little sad to be reading. I don't know if it's a great bedtime read. A bit depressing. Even though it turns out well, it's still sad. Maybe it's a good book for those who are grieving the death of a loved one. The kids enjoyed the illustrations too though.

I would like to continue reading more of Oliver Jeffers books.   
Rated 3.5 Bites

Midnite's Review: The thing I love about Jeffers is that he can deliver a deep message with such simple imagery and words. Like Robot said, this one delivers a punch to the heart...but it also gives hope. The girl's heart breaks so she locks it up. And while she doesn't feel pain anymore, it comes with a price: emptiness. Eventually it is but a child that teaches her to hope again.

I love the symbolism here. While it may not be a typical "bedtime" story, it's still worth sharing. And it is sad. Because what's more heartbreaking than losing a loved one. And we will all lose someone at some point. C.S. Lewis once said, "We read to know we are not alone." With this, I know I'm not alone.  
Rated 4 Bites

Book available on here.

Children's Book Week Giveaway Winner

Congrats to Tracy J. and Donna L. for winning our giveaways for Children's Book Week.

From our rafflecopter, we asked what your favorite children's author is. Here are the responses we got.
  • Stan & Jan Berenstein
  • Judy Blume 
  • Beverly Cleary 
  • Eoin Colfer
  • Catherine Cooper
  • Roald Dahl
  • Victoria and Elizabeth Kann
  • A.A. Milne
  • Robert N. Munsch 
  • Dr. Suess
  • Peggy Parish
  • Ul de Rico
  • J.K Rowling 
  • Maurice Sendak
  • Pete Sprankle
  • Nancy Tillman
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Mo Willems
  • Karma Wilson
Thanks for visiting! We hope you enjoy our reviews!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Chicken Thief: a case of the Stockholm Syndrome

The Chicken Thief (Stories Without Words)
By Beatrice Rodriguez
Hardcover, 32 pages
Gecko Press, 2009
Ages: 3+

When a fox steals a chicken from her friends, her friends set out to rescue her. They negotiate forests, climb mountains and cross the sea to get her back. But it becomes perfectly clear that chicken and fox love each other, as chicken explains most eloquently—in a book entirely without words.

The first time I read this, I thought "Awww...what a cute story about a fox and a chicken who become friends...How sweet." Then I read it again. After the third time, I realized something just didn't seem right. Wait a minute here...This isn't a story about a fox befriending a chicken, this is a story about a hostage who befriends her captor!

So without any words, this is a story about a fox who kidnaps a chicken, is chased by the chicken's friends...and somewhere along the chase, the chicken begins to play chess, wear sunglasses, and relax with the fox. I can only assume chicken had a psychological melt-down and empathized with the "misunderstood" kidnapper fox.

For a wordless picture book that clearly describes the Stockholm Syndrome, this author is pure genius. For a wordless picture book for children, you may want to think ahead on how you'll be telling the story.

Rated 3 Bites

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Candy Shop War: Deliciously Fun

The Candy Shop War
By Brandon Mull
Hardcover, 404 pages
Shadow Mountain, September 11, 2007
Age level: 8+

Four young friends are befriended by the owner of a new candy shop. However, the gray-haired, grandmotherly Mrs. White is not an ordinary candy maker. Her confections have magical side effects. Purposefully, she invites the kids on a special mission to retrieve a hidden talisman under Mt. Diablo Elementary School.

In honor of Children's Book Week (yay!), plus the fact that The Candy Shop War is currently in our Book Giveaway, I wanted to let you all know how sweet and magical this book is!

First I just love love Brandon Mull. His stories are sophisticated, filled with imagination and suspense. His plots seem to have many twists and turns and yet it somehow gets resolved logically and in unexpected ways.

I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to read something besides his first series, Fablehaven. I thought it would be just another variation of that story. While Candy Shop does have similar themes, it was a completely different story with different magical elements. Not only does Mull's stories captivate, he has superb writing skills and witty conversation.

Note to parents: While there are some mild elements that may need a parent's caution (i.e., a scene with a weapon or combat), the scenes are not graphic.

Rated: 4 Bites
Enter The Candy Shop War Book Giveaway: 

Book 2: Arcade Catastrophe is expected to be published October 2012.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Magritte's Marvelous Hat: is lacking in story

Magritte's Marvelous Hat
By D.B. Johnson
Hardcover, 32 pgs
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, April 2012

"Everything we see hides another thing, we always want to see what is hidden by what we see." —Rene Magritte 

D.B. Johnson writes and illustrates the surreal story of famous surrealist painter Rene Magritte and his very mysterious (and mischievous!) hat. While the art reflects some of Magritte's own work, the text sets readers on a fun and accessible path to learning about the simpler concepts behind Mr. Magritte's work. 

This delightful picture book captures the playfulness and the wonderment of surrealist art. Four transparent pages add yet another level of surrealism to the illustrations as pictures can be altered with the turn of a page.

Like the summary above says, there are some pretty cool transparent pages. There are pictures on them and on one side it looks like one thing and when you flip it it changes the other side of the page. That did make the story a little more fun to read.

I wasn't too impressed with the storyline. The pictures were confusing at times-like how is Margritte invisible when he walked through the woods.

But you may just have to check out a copy because the transparent pages sort of make up for the story.

Rated: 2 Bites

Children's Book Week Giveaway!

Because it's Children's Book Week and because it's Spring, we've decided to make it a Spring Cleaning Children's Book Giveaway! So let's get some books into our children's hands!

The Supernaturalist By Eoin Colfer
The Candy Shop War By Brandon Mull. Read review here.

Books range from Like New to used.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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For more giveaways to the blog hop click below to see other websites.

Z is for Moose: Ages you-should-know-your-alphabet-already-and-its-sounds and up

Z Is for Moose

By Kelly Bingham, Illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
Hardcover, 32 pages
Harper Collins Childrens, January 2012

Z is for Zebra.
Zebra is absolutely certain he’ll be able to direct everyone to appear on the correct page, at the appropriate time, without any mishaps, unnecessary drama, or hurt feelings. It’s the ABCs, for goodness’ sake. How difficult can it be?
Oh, dear.
Zebra forgot about moose. 

If you haven't picked up this book yet to read with your child, you MUST get it! Not your typical ABC book- because the moose is a "little" crazy and wants to show up when it isn't his turn!

This one will not disappoint. This is one I could read over and over! I'd suggest that you wait until your child knows their ABCs and the sounds it makes. Such as knowing that A is for Apple, etc. Or if they know some and you think they'll understand the sillyness of the book, then go get yourself a copy of this book!

Rated: 5 Bites

Saturday, May 5, 2012

One Cool Friend: One cool book

One Cool Friend
By Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by David Small
Hardcover, 32 pages
Dial Books for Young Readers, January 2012

On a momentous visit to the aquarium, Elliot discovers his dream pet: a penguin. It's just proper enough for a straight-laced boy like him. And when he asks his father if he may have one (please and thank you), his father says yes. Elliot should have realized that Dad probably thought he meant a stuffed penguin and not a real one . . . Clever illustrations and a wild surprise ending make this sly, silly tale of friendship and wish fulfillment a kid-pleaser from start to finish.

One Cool Friend is one cool book. My child had picked this one up from his school library and I'm glad he did! The story was cute. The illustrations were awesome. The little details with the speech bubbles were unique. I loved the ending.

I'd suggest this for kids aged 4-8. And what's wonderful is that Toni Buzzeo provides a curriculum guide and a reader's theater script to go along with this book on her website.

Rated: 5 Bites