Note to Readers

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or print copy of the book. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

River of Dreams (Picture Book)



Released January 2009

www.hudsontalbott.com

Reviewed by Deb Fowler

When Hudson Talbott was a young boy, he often dreamed of going to New York to actually see the Hudson River. It was a magical place for him, so much so that he actually ended his prayers with “God bless Mommy and Daddy, may I please have a horse and go to New York? Amen.” Dreams really do come true. Little Hudson not only grew up and went to visit the river, but later wrote a history of the Hudson River for other children to learn and dream about.

During the Ice Age thousands of years ago the Hudson began to form, fed by the waters flowing down from the Adirondack Mountains and supplemented by the Atlantic waters. The Indians were the first to settle along the river in the Hudson Valley, later to be joined by settlers coming from across the wide expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. Henry Hudson, a British explorer and “one of the greatest dreamers of all time,” was hired by the Dutch to sail the Half Moon in search of a quicker route to China. Of course he failed them, but his quest to the New World more than made up for the loss.

This concise history of the Hudson River covers everything from the Mahican Indians to the immigrant influx to Ellis Island to present day environmental concerns. The illustrations are variable and seem to catch the spirit of the moment on each page. They range from nostalgic realism to whimsical. There is an illustrated time line in the shape of a river that meanders through the book. There is a very large wallop of history contained in this book and the numerous, busy illustrations compliment it perfectly. Hudson (both the river and the man) can make history fun!

The Wheat Doll (Picture Book)



Released September 2008

www.peachtree-online.com
www.billfarnsworth.com

Reviewed by Deb Fowler

Every little girl needs someone special in their life. Mary Ann did and her special someone was named Betty. Now Betty wasn’t the usual type of friend you might expect because she was a doll, but that didn’t make her any less special. She was filled with wheat, but also filled with Mary Ann’s love. One day, after Mary Ann finished talking to her, she left her on a stump and couldn’t fetch her because she was so busy taking freshly harvested carrots into the root cellar for the winter and she had to help her family prepare for a storm. After the storm Mary Ann went out, but “her best friend was gone!”

Winter came and there were always things for little girls to be tending to. Schoolwork, chores, sewing . . . but, things just weren’t the same without Betty. When the long winter was over her search would begin anew, but would she find her best friend? Things would never be the same if Mary Ann never heard the swish-shush of Betty’s little body again.

This is the wonderfully retold factual story of Mary Ann Winters who lived in the Utah territory during the late 1800s. Bill Farnsworth’s illustrations are beautiful and somehow bring the name Wyeth to mind. Of course Mary Ann’s special friend Betty reminded me of Charlotte, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s special doll. Somehow stories retold through generations can be especially heartwarming and this one is no exception!

Face to Face with Frogs (Nature)



Released February 2008

www.doctorbugs.com
www.nationalgeographic.com

Reviewed by Deb Fowler

Mark Moffet’s nickname is “Doctor Bugs” because he just loves small critters. He often goes on special assignment for National Geographic to photograph frogs. He loves his “frog adventures” and has learned a lot about them from herpetologists. Herpetologists are people who study reptiles and amphibians. One time he went to Brazil to look for the world’s smallest frog. According to Mark it took him and his friends “three muddy days, just to find a single frog the size of the tip of your nose.” It wasn’t easy for them to pore through dead leaves one by one!

Scientists have discovered many interesting frog facts. Did you know that there are more than 5,400 different kinds of frogs? Did you know that when it gets to be more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit there is an African Frog, who attaches himself to plants, turns white and stays as hard as a rock until the rains come? When the rains finally arrive, the frog “absorbs water and hops away! Did you know there is a GIANT frog that can weigh in more than six pounds? These are only a few of the many frog facts you will find in this amazing book.

Of course there is little doubt that any National Geographic book for children is superb and this book is no exception. There are frog facts and/or marvelous photographs on every page. There are additional resources listed in the back of the book from additional book recommendations to numerous web sites. In addition to the stunning photography Mark Moffet is a great storyteller. This book would be an excellent classroom or homeschool tool for any budding Doctor Bugs.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Minji's Salon (Picture Book)



March 2008

www.kanemiller.com

Reviewed by Deb Fowler

Minji’s mother is going to the beauty salon to get a make over and while she is gone Minji decides that she can open her own play salon at the same time. She takes a look at her little dog and says, “Good morning, madam. What would you like today?” She imagines that is just what the stylist is asking her mother at the salon. It’s going to be a great day at Minji’s Salon!

She offers different styles, wigs and even offers the choice of hair coloring for her dog to think about. It’s getting messier by the minute, but the end product will be superb. “What do you think?” Of course the dog isn’t going to answer, but Minji is proud of her work. Her mother will be home soon and what will she think?

This is an adorable imaginary playtime story. Minji wants to be just like her mother and, like many little girls, reenacts things her mother does or things that happen to them (even if there is a huge mess in the process). On one side of the page we see Minji’s mother at the salon and on the opposite we see Minji pretending to be the stylist. It is a wonderful story of playtime and patience on the part of a parent. If your child has a Barbie styling head, this book would be the perfect accompaniment!

All God's Critters (Picture Book)



Released January 2009

www.simonsayskids.com

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Some sing low, some sing high, some sing very loud, some can barely be heard, and some just clap their paws, but no matter how they join in, all these critters have a place in this special choir.

With a bullfrog and hippo providing the bass, a dog and cat handling the middle notes and the birds of all sorts filling in at the top of the scale, this is definitely an equal opportunity musical group.

With an alligator, ox, grizzly bear, possum and a score of other creatures contributing, each in his own unique way, this choir may seem out of tune, but there's no disharmony here. Although the notes may vary, everyone is on the same page as they sing this song.

You can join in, too, if you wish because the author includes the music and lyrics at the end of the book.

Although the "song" is kind of catchy, what makes this book soar above other animal picture books is the artwork of Kadir Nelson. His big, bold, and decidedly kid-friendly illustrations alone are worth the price of admission!

When all the singers take a bow at the story's end, you and your youngster may well want to give them a rousing round of applause. And, perhaps, you’ll flip back to page one for an encore!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Truancy Origins (Young Adult)



Released March 2009

www.tor.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Twenty years have passed since I was in high school. After reading TRUANCY ORIGINS, I realize things really don't change. Teen novelist Isamu Fukui blew me away with his insightful, gripping and action-packed novel about twin brothers who discover the truth about their home, Education City.

Infants Zen and Umasi are handed to the Mayor of Education City to raise. The Mayor realizes there may be problems later on. The strict education system he's created to control children is something he will be sending his children to in the future.

Fifteen years later, Zen and Umasi overhear their father plotting new methods of control. With the truth made clear, Zen decides it is time to rebel against the rules and regulations set forth in Education City. He'll destroy anyone who gets in his way. Meanwhile, Umasi realizes changes must be made but that there are more constructive ways to do it.

Soon it's brother versus brother in a battle that only one can win.

Completely gripping. I couldn't help but snicker at some of the methods of control that are used. This is where I realize how little high school has changed. Limited bathroom trips--in my small Vermont high school bathrooms were locked and we had to be escorted by a teacher in between classes. Teachers punishing entire classrooms for the acts of one student. Banning the use of anything unnecessary for education (MP3 players, cell phones, etc.)

This is not the first novel by Fukui. I missed his first novel, TRUANCY, and plan to purchase a copy. His writing shows incredible wisdom for someone of that age. Wisdom and insight that I wish more teens displayed! I also find myself eager to see how his writing advances as he enters adulthood following high school and college.

It's Just My Imagination (Picture Book)



Released February 2009

www.blackrosewriting.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

In Rick Keeling's colorful picture book, the author reinforces the fact that it is perfectly acceptable to have an active imagination. The main character, a young boy, demonstrates this as he sets off on adventures throughout the day. From being a world-class chef to a popular singer on stage in front of hundreds, the young boy isn't ashamed of his actions.

The message is upbeat and positive, definitely something every child should experience. Artwork by Christan Hellen is colorful, catchy and easily captures the essence of childhood.

There were two minor issues I found. First, on page four the top line of text was partially cut off. Moving the line down a space or resizing the page would be helpful. The other issue occurred on page five. The black text is set over a dark blue background making the text difficult to see.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this as a perfect addition to a child's library.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Odd Egg (Picture Book)



Released March 2009

www.emilygravett.com

Reviewed by Bob Walch

The creative picture book uses different size pages to tell the story, of a group of birds who lay their eggs and then await the hatchlings.

Unfortunately, Duck does not have his own egg to hatch, so he goes out and finds the biggest egg he possibly can. All the other birds think he's being silly but, as you will see, Duck gets the last laugh, as what emerges from his egg is a real surprise.

The author uses quarter and half size pages to reveal what each egg holds, from the small robin's egg to the much larger owl and flamingo eggs. But when the Duck's egg begins to crack, you'll need to turn almost a full page to see what emerges.

Intended for children ages 4 to 8, THE ODD EGG will elicit a few laughs when the youngster turns the final page of this clever picture book.

The Yankee At The Seder (Picture Book)



Released March 2009

www.tricyclepress.com

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Set during the Civil War period and based on a true story, this picture book, with its fairly extensive text, relates the tale of a Union soldier who shares a Passover meal with a Confederate family.

General Lee has just surrendered and although the war is officially ended, the long healing process has yet to begin. Even in these trying times the Josephson family is determined to celebrate Passover as they have always done.

Little do they expect a Yankee soldier to show up on their doorstep at this time, but when Mrs. Josephson learns that the young man, Myer Levy, is Jewish she insists (with perhaps mixed emotions) that he has his Seder with her family that evening.

What follows is a story that transcends the senseless horror of war, reaffirms the ties that bond people and emphasizes the importance of personal freedom.

The discussion around the Seder table not only touches on the significance of the meal but also brings into focus the core issues that caused the conflict between North and South.

This nicely illustrated book also contains extensive notes at the end of the story that feature information about the real life Myer Levy, Jews during the Civil War, and the Passover festival.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Journey to the Well



Released March 2009

www.revellbooks.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Though an adult fiction novel, I'm convinced that JOURNEY TO THE WELL is suited to teens. My son's freshman Honors English class recently read a book about arranged marriages. It is for that reason that I think teens may find Diana Wallis Taylor's book to be a rewarding read.

At the age of 13, orphaned Marah's marriage is arranged by her aunt. Unfortunately, the aunt does not have Marah's best interests in heart. Marah dreams of marrying her childhood friend, but instead she is forced to marry a man twice her age. His abusive nature is quickly apparent.

After giving birth to a stillborn son and losing her husband to disease, Marah's life spins in a new direction. She's reunited with her friend, also widowed, and a marriage is arranged. With Jesse by her side, Marah hopes for a lifetime of happiness.

The research into this book is apparent. The setting and culture shines. Readers are taken on an imaginative journey through Marah's life, including her trips to the Well of Jacob where Marah encounters Jesus himself.

The book takes the reader back in time. I loved every minute of this book and think it's a great way to teach history without becoming dull. Sexual encounters are never graphic so concerned parents shouldn't have reservations with their teens picking up this novel.

My First Garden



Released January 2009

www.simonsayskids.com

Reviewed by Bob Walch

You are invited to join a mother and her child as they make their first garden. The first step involves clearing the weeds, turning the soil and planting their vegetable seeds. Next, mother and daughter watch their cabbages, turnips, carrots, yellow squash and tomatoes grow in their outdoor plot. Once harvested, the fresh veggies go into a big pot to make a delicious soup the whole family can enjoy.

Although I like the fact that this novelty book is made from recycled paper and is shaped like a garden basket, a few “issues” detract from its over-all attractiveness.

Because the narrative appears on the curved handle of the die-cut basket handle, the type is, of necessity, somewhat small. Since the limited text's purpose is to reinforce the pictures perhaps that's not a major concern.

A greater problem is the that the book's muddy, brown background and muted color pictures lack the visual "pop" that one usually finds in a picture book for preschoolers.

The book purportedly offers an opportunity to teach your child some basic colors (green, purple, red, orange, yellow) but the washed-out illustrations frankly don't do much for me. Perhaps, a two or three-year-old won’t be as critical of this "little green book for green readers" as I am, but I'd suggest you let your child look through "My First Garden" before buying it.

Perhaps the fact the child can carry the book by its "basket handle" will outweigh the faded colors!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Just Another Girl



Released January 2009

www.revellbooks.com

Reviewed by Tracy Farnsworth

Seventeen-year-old Aster Flynn spends her days and evenings caring for her younger sister Lily, a young woman with a mental disability. Though her sister is really just two years younger, Aster's sister has the attention span and attitude of a toddler trapped in a woman's body.

Aster's father walked out on the family. Her mother works all the time and leaves care of Lily to Aster. Her older sister, Rose, just wants to get out of their house and on with her own life. Aster's really stuck as main caregiver and she's tired of it.

When one of the popular boys from school shows interest in dating Aster, she decides it is time to force her mother to become a mother to Lily. However, Aster's taken care of Lily for so long that Aster's mom seems unable to even try.

Melody Carlson's written many Christian novels for both children and adults. I know that some people remain wary of these novels thinking they are preachy. This is not the case and I urge you to pick up a copy of JUST ANOTHER GIRL.

Aster's character aptly portrays that age where you are ready to become an adult and are just testing out your wings. I found her character to be riveting and cheered her on. She's in a tough situation and like any girl, makes wise choices as well as a few misguided ones.

Nobody Here But Me



Released September 2008

us.macmillan.com

Reviewed by Deb Fowler

There were people in the house, but you’d never know it. There was mom, there was dad and there were his big sister Katie and her dumb friend. Dad was busy with his e-mail, mom was on the phone and Katie was getting ready to play a board game with her friend and sure didn’t want her little brother hanging around. He was so sad and thought, “It’s just as if there’s nobody here but me.”

He began to get busy making messes in the kitchen, pretending to hide from everyone (as if anyone noticed) and imagining all sorts of things. Would anyone ever be interested in playing with him? Little brother finally gave up, put on his pjs and tucked himself into bed. “It’s just as if there’s nobody here but me.” Suddenly his bedroom came to life . . .

I loved reading this little story and the pictures fully illustrate the fun and mischief a little boy can get into all by himself. This is a fun read alone book or one of those great books to read to a child before you tuck them into bed.

My People



Released January 2009

www.simonsays.com

Reviewed by Deb Fowler

There are only thirty-two short words in Langston Hughes poem, My People, a poem he used to celebrate his black heritage. Charles R. Smith, Jr. stunning visual translation “capture(s) the glory, the beauty and the soul of being a black American today.”



My People

The night is beautiful,

So the faces of my people.

The stars are beautiful,

So the eyes of my people.

Beautiful, also, is the sun.

Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.


I loved the visual effect of the sepia photographs set against a black background. The thought that Smith put into this book is obvious, the result breathtaking. This book is a page turner for young and old alike and one to be revisited time and time again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Blast Off, Baby Bundt




Released February 2009

www.candlewick.com

Reviewed by Bob Walch


Take a lively child and mix in a red wagon, a sandbox, some snacks, a bucket of sidewalk chalk and a bottle of bubbles and what do you have? Hopefully, the ingredients for a recipe of "fun stuff" that will keep Baby Bundt happy all afternoon

The instructions: Load the wagon with the child and toys for a transfer to the nearest park.

Whip up some sand to build a castle in the sandbox.

Head to the nearest springy rocket playground apparatus when baby gets bored, put baby on the seat and bounce for ten minutes.

After a quick snack, take out bubble bottle and begin blowing.

Return to play set for additional swinging, climbing and sliding.

Finally, toss in a little coloring time on the sidewalk and then head for home!

Not only does this clever board book illustrate the perfect recipe for playtime, but it will also have your active toddler wanting to turn the pages to see what the next fun activity will be.

Try this for reading aloud at bedtime or before a play session. In fact, it might be fun to ask your child which activity he or she might like to engage in that day.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Generation Dead




Released April 2009

www.hyperionbooksforchildren.com/

Reviewed by Tracy

Throughout the U.S. a new phenomenon is overtaking and actually frightening the majority. Teenagers who die are coming back to life as the "living challenged" or becoming "differently biotic." In Oakvale High, Phoebe Kendall is trying to deal with her attraction to Tommy Williams, one of the living dead.

Phoebe's friend Adam has spent years hiding his true feelings. When Phoebe's attraction to Tommy becomes evident, Adam realizes there is trouble on the horizon. You see, many people are uncomfortable with the idea of having zombies in their school. In fact, a few students would like to have the zombies eliminated.

When Tommy decides he wants to be part of the football team, things escalate. The entire school is about to be subjected to bigotry and hatred on a whole new scale.

Wow! There have been many fictional books (S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders) and movies (The West Side Story) on bigotry and racism. GENERATION DEAD is going to be the book that teens talk about for years to come. Just like my generation did with The Outsiders.

I was hooked from the start and found myself intrigued with some of the references that date back to my own high school days. Listening to This Mortal Coil and dealing with the cruel attitudes of jocks. It all brought me back.

Amazon lists this book for 9 to 12 year olds. I disagree and bow to the book's own recommendation that this book is suitable to ages 12 and up. It's a fantastic book and one that I hope parents will read and discuss with their children.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Ghosts of Lone Jack



Released July 2008

www.ghostsoflonejack.com

Reviewed by Tracy

Ready for a spooky story that blends fiction with a bit of history? THE GHOSTS OF LONE JACK delivers a fun, slightly creepy read, that 'tweens will enjoy.

Jared Millhouse is not your typical ten year old. After the death of his mother, Jared's father retreated into himself and has developed a bit of a drinking problem. Every summer, Jared heads to his ailing grandfather's farm in Lone Jack, Missouri.

Now, Jared's grandfather may have emphysema, but he's wise enough to realize that Jared needs the chance to act like a child. In Lone Jack, Jared soon forms friendships with many area kids and they all find themselves wrapped up in a frightening mystery.

Ghosts of Rebel and Confederate soldiers are haunting the town. With every passing day, the ghosts become more and more like zombies rather than ghosts. No one knows why the ghosts are taking on a new form and demanding "the key," but it's obvious that someone needs to solve the puzzle! When the ghosts gain the ability to injure people with their ghostly bayonets, it's clear that Jared, his friends and a few of the older residents are running out of time.

Though details of the Civil War are included in this page-turner, kids will not feel like the book is a history lesson. The author skillfully blends fiction with scattered facts drawing you into the story.

I did notice a few spelling errors in my final copy of the book, but quickly discovered many were intentional. Parents may want to remind their younger readers that the characters' dialects are behind the oddly spelled words. There are a few other typoes like like 'till instead of till and girgling instead of gurgling. Hopefully in additional printings, those errors will be fixed.

Otherwise, if you have a child who loves ghost stories, they will get a kick out of THE GHOSTS OF LONE JACK.

The Little Hermit



Released November 2008

www.highlandpress.org

Reviewed by Tracy

Hermy the Hermit is an adventurous character. Life in Hermitville is cozy and relaxing, but he can't help but wonder about the world beyond the edge of the horizon. Despite warnings from the town's elder, Hermy decides to voyage to the outside world.

What Hermy discovers in this unknown land isn't quite what he expects. It is through this journey that he discovers a lot about his small town.

THE LITTLE HERMIT tackles the topic about the world you know and how sometimes wishing for a change isn't the greatest idea. There's a subtle message about responsibility and how our actions affect our environment.

Illustrations are the work of the author, a former barber. I immediately thought of Captain Caveman from my childhood cartoons. The drawings aren't horribly details, but they are warm and endearing. Plus, I think children with artistic interests will find it fun to create their own "Hermy." All in all, this is a fun book that is well suited to the younger crowd.

On The Move



Released January 2009

www.simonsayskids.com

Reviewed by Bob Walch

Another in the series of the Trucktown novelty books, ON THE MOVE! features Rita, Rosie, Dan, Max and Ted doing what they do best - work.

The moveable parts in each section of the board book allow the preschooler to join in the fun. For example, you can shift Wrecker Rosie's red iron ball back and forth to knock down a building. Flip the page and turn Monster Truck Max's big wheel as he climbs over a pile of steel drums. Next, it is time to dump a load of gravel for Dump Truck Dan and then help Tow Truck Ted attach his towing chain to a disabled ambulance that has gone off the road.

A hit with young truckers, this series makes taking to the road fun with sturdy, interactive book like this. The moving parts are also great for letting little fingers work on hand-eye coordination!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chicken Cheeks



Released January 2009

www.simonsayskids.com

Reviewed by Bob Walch

This is a story with a simple beginning, a funny middle and a whole lot of ends!

When bear sees a beehive high up in a tree, he just has to find a way to get to the delicious honey. Being a clever creature, bear decides to elicit the help of all his animal friends to form a human totem pole that will reach up to the sticky treasure.

From a penguin and gnu to a rhinoceros and duck-billed platypus, over a dozen creatures form a "stack" of animals that take bear closer to his goal.

But the "recruits" quickly discover that they are treated to an "up-close-and-personal" view of the backside of the creature standing on their shoulders. The result is a silly rhyming, hilarious picture book that features animal derrieres.

Primary grade youngsters will find Kevin Hawkes' illustrations a stitch and by the time they have finished paging through CHICKEN CHEEKS, they'll know 17 different ways of saying "gluteus maximus"!

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Suburban Dragon



Released April 2007

www.garasamomaccagnone.com

Reviewed by Deb Fowler

Rainy days are always boring and children can seldom think of fun things to do. Garrett, Anthony and Aimee lived in Chippewa Valley and going outside was out of the question. Their mother decided that reading them a story might help, but listening to a tale they heard many times before made them even more bored (if there was such a thing!). YAWN!

It wasn’t long before some real excitement began. All of a sudden a big dragon seemed to come out of nowhere, grabbed their mother and ran out of the room. “Help! Help! Save me, Save me!” There was no time to waste. The children had to act fast to rescue their mother. They had to make a plan and Aimee wrote it out for Garrett and Anthony, who wasn’t even old enough to talk.

1. DISGUYZZ

2. TRAP

3. RESQ MOMMY

They loved Mommy, but would they be able to rescue her from the dragon? Oh, boy, living in Chippewa wasn’t boring any more!

This little book is fun and engaging and the artwork is very appealing, especially the expressiveness of the imaginary dragon. This is an endearing work, but the high price of this paperback will deter many who otherwise might be interested.

Doom Lake Holiday



Released January 2009

www.dundurn.com

Reviewed by Tracy

Tom Henighan lures the reader with a somewhat sinister tale of the Mallory family and their vacation nightmare. Mr. Mallory's spent a lot of hours at work and realizes that his family life is taking the toll. When he's offered a lakeside cottage in Ontario's Rideau Lake area, he takes up the offer. His teens, Chip and Lee, are not as excited, but they agree to this spontaneous getaway.

Problems begin as soon as they hit the road. Mr. Mallory becomes lost and finally has to ask for directions. There he learns that the woman renting him the cottage has been dead for two years. Something is obviously amiss.

The family arrives to find the cottage is falling apart and the lake is disgusting. Plus, they meet two hillbillies who tell them to stay off their property or face the wrath of their trained dogs. Next, a teenage girl shows up having fled capture by the hillbillies and scared to return to her home, where her uncle is just as evil.

After one night, the Mallory's receive an unusual invitation to stay on a private island in Mr. Mallory's employer's home. There they are warned to ignore the creepy noises and unusual sights. This is only the beginning of the weirdness to follow.

Now, per Amazon.com, the book is supposedly geared for the 9 to 12 age group. I will disagree with that. DOOM LAKE HOLIDAY is an intriguing story, but given the more difficult vocabulary (words like spurious, rankled and sepulchral) I would put it more towards 13 and up.

Henighan's novel is creepy and suspenseful. I definitely enjoyed it and know others will.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Battle of the Red Hot Pepper Weenies



Released March 2009

www.davidlubar.com
www.tor-forge.com

Reviewed by Tracy

Within the pages of THE BATTLE OF THE RED HOT PEPPER WEENIES are a number of Stephen King-ish stories that are certain to amuse younger horror/suspense fans. I found myself chuckling along at times and feeling tingles creep up the spine at others.

Standouts from this collection of short stories include:

“Frankendance” tells the tale of a father’s quest to create a dream date for his daughter’s first school dance.

“What’s Eating The Vegans?” is simply hilarious. I know a few vegans, many who feel it should be their way or the highway, and loved this take on Thanksgiving!

“Into the Wild Blue Yonder” is best summed up with a simple EWWWWW.

Finally, the first story in this book, “All The Rage” is an interesting spin on what happens to those who are able to avoid becoming angry.

In all, there are over thirty stories in this collection. Most are only two or three pages long, so children will find it easy to enjoy stories in between tasks. I do warn that I meant to only read a couple stories before getting dinner prepped and wound up finding half an hour had passed.

THE BATTLE OF THE RED HOT WEENIES is highly addictive, completely mesmerizing and definitely one for the keeper shelf!

What's Under The Bed?



Released September 2008

www.simonsayskids.com

Reviewed by Bob Walch

It is time for Fred to jump in bed, but… But there's something under the little boy's bed that has him worried. No, not just worried, Fred's actually afraid of what's under his bed!

Perhaps it is red. Perhaps it is green. Maybe it is tall or maybe it is quite small. It might have long nails but then again, Fred thinks he may see two heads too!

What is this thing beneath his bed? Gosh, Fred hopes it has been fed.

Well, sooner or later he'll have to bend down and take a look to see what is hidden under his mattress.

One…two…three…four, Fred finally takes a peek to see what's there and guess what?

No! I won't tell you what it is hiding under the little boy's bed. You'll have to take a look yourself!

Although Fred's dilemma is sort of funny the black and white illustration are a little scary. Will they cause any nightmares? I don't think so but one never knows!

This gothic bedtime story will probably appeal to little boys more than girls, but that may not be true either! You'll have to decide for yourself.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Day After Tomorrow



Released February 2009

www.4give4peace.com

Reviewed by Tracy & Jess

This time, my daughter beat me to the book. Now, those who are familiar with my reviews know that I can be a stickler on editing. I'm trying to be a little less picky, but it was my daughter who put the book down and said, "If I am supposed to have grammar free papers at school, why are publishers allowed to release books that have obvious errors?"

I can't fault that logic. In this economy, if I were paying for a final copy of a book, I'd expect a level of perfection. Quite honestly, I'd at least expect spellcheck to have been used. A couple of pages into this book, is the About the Author, only it is spelled "Authur." On page 69, the line "did he day Dr. Krimshaw" obviously the word "say" was intended. Also names of games are often not capitalized, though my grammar books state trademarked names are proper nouns, therefore things like Monopoly should be capitalized. If my 'tween can catch those errors, editors/proofreaders should have!

I know from experience that as soon as this review posts, the next printing of this book will have the errors fixed, so I'd still consider purchasing it for your teen.

Realistically, the book is not bad apart from errors. The story revolves around high schooler Julia Monroe who is facing typical teen issues such as strict parents, dating, pressure to become sexually active and the likes. Towards the end, the story did become a little preachy. My daughter then asked if this was a Christian book. I see nothing that says it is, however I do feel it would fit in that sub-genre.

THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW is short at 77 pages. It doesn't take long to reach the conclusion. The author has set this up nicely to become a series.

I think there is merit in these books. I am not sure, realistically, if teens or their parents would be willing to pay the asking price given the length, but if you can, it's definitely worthwhile.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Shade and Shadow



Released November 2008

www.lldreamspell.com

Reviewed by Tracy

Sixteen-year-old Randy Smith is dreading spending a month at the home of family members she's never met. Her father is remarrying and while the new couple is on their honeymoon, Randy will meet her deceased mother's family.

In the Low Country of South Carolina, Randy quickly discovers how hard it is to fit in at her mother's family's estate. Her Aunt Amanda is particularly strict enforcing dress codes and activities. Unhappy, Randy soon discovers that the family's odd behavior involves the mysterious disappearance of Amanda's twin sister forty years ago and then the subsequent suicide of Randy's uncle's wife.

After a visit from a ghostly figure, Randy decides enough is enough. With the help of her somewhat hesitant cousin, Randy decides to investigate the disappearance and suicide.

SHADE AND SHADOW draws the reader into the story. From the start, Randy's very formal, strict family members have you wondering how she will make it through an entire month. Randy battles to do everything from go to the ocean/beach even on the hottest days. They also hesitate to let her go into town by herself, instead sending her with an uncle. It all seemed overprotective, but they have their reasons which the reader learns as the story progresses.

I think this is a nice choice for children who enjoy mysteries and ghost lore. Stated for the age group of 9 to 12, I would wholeheartedly agree.