[Book Review] The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman

The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman

[Book Review] The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman

My Book Review:

Oh, how I love this book! The Best Nest by P.D. Eastman is one of my all-time childhood favorites, and I love that my kids enjoy it now! Mrs. Bird is expecting a baby, and decides she wants a new home. She and Mr. Bird travel everywhere looking for a new house. They find a few they like, but unfortunately, those homes  already have occupants, and they have some close calls. Finally, it begins to rain and Mr. and Mrs. Bird get separated. They are sad and wonder if they’ll ever see each other again. The sky is filled with lightning and thunder, and suddenly Mr. Bird crashes into something! What is it? Well, you’ll have to read to find out!

The Best Nest is a beginning reader, and my first grader can read it well. It’s a fun, fun read-aloud, and it also makes a great silent read. I like this book because it is easy enough for the beginners to read by themselves.  Children enjoy guessing where the birds will end up, and it’s fun to see the places they thought would be good homes. I love the illustrations, and I love that the kids love reading it. Next time you’re at the library or a book store, check this one out, you won’t be disappointed!

Content Rating GRating: G (Clean!!! Yay!)

Recommendation: Everyone!

4 Star Rating

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood Remember the Ladies by Callista Gingrich  Nina the Neighborhood Ninja by Sonia Panigrahy
  

This post was originally published on 1/7/15; updated on 2/21/18.

[Book Review] The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

[Book Review] The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

My girls’ elementary school decided to read The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks for their “One School. One Book.” program this year. I was super excited because I’ve been meaning to read it to them for awhile anyway. It was one of the first books I read to my boys when they were little, but for some reason I haven’t read it to my girls yet. Since I read it with them I decided I might as well review it!

Blurb:

“It’s Omri’s birthday, but all he gets from his best friend, Patrick, is a little plastic Indian brave. Trying to hide his disappointment, Omri puts the Indian in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that once belonged to his great-grandmother. Little does Omri know that by turning the key, he will transform his ordinary plastic Indian into a real, live man from an altogether different time and place! Omri and the tiny warrior called Little Bear could hardly be more different, yet soon the two forge a very special friendship. Will Omri be able to keep Little Bear without anyone finding out and taking his precious Indian from him?

My Review:

This is such a fun book; it plays to every kid’s wildest dream! How awesome would it be to put a plastic figure into a cabinet and have it come out alive? When my sister and I were little we dreamed that our Cabbage Patch kids would come to life so we could take care of real babies. Haha! Thankfully it never happened. I love how caring Omri becomes. He risks getting into big trouble in order to do things to help Little Bear. His creativity is the best: getting the seed tray for dirt, lighting the tops of matches so Little Bear could have a fire, looking through the toy bin to find the perfect horse and wife. He’s so protective of Little Bear, too. Omri becomes this little parent, and it’s endearing. Patrick drives me crazy at the beginning, but by the end he pulls around.

The writing style of this book makes it great for either a silent read or a read-aloud. My girls are twelve and nine, and they both enjoyed having me read it to them, but could easily read it themselves. The Indian in the Cupboard was published in 1980, so there are a few things that are not quite politically correct now.  Words like “Injun” and “red man” are commonly used. A cowboy comes in at one point, and Little Bear wants to scalp him. I spent quite awhile discussing with my girls how those words are not okay to use anymore. Although it’s a little uncomfortable, it actually provides a very good opening for discussions about race, unkind words, and stereotypes.

I’m so glad that I was able to read The Indian in the Cupboard with my girls. I love that time we get to spend together, and the adventures we get to have. Plus, it allows me to add a review to my list! If you’re looking for a fun read with your kids, or a good silent read, this is a great book for either. One thing I would do, though, if your kids read it silently, is to still have the discussions and talk about the non-p.c. terms used, and how offensive they are now.

Content Rating PGRating: PG (There might be a word or two, but there’s no “intimacy;” there is some minor violence, and some old and non-p.c. terms are used.) 

Age Recommendation: As a silent read, third grade and up, but as a read-aloud, Kindergarten and up.

4 Star Rating

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[Book Review] Snow Crystals by W.A. Bentley and W.J. Humphreys

Snow Crystals by W.A. Bentley

[Book Review] Snow Crystals by W.A. Bentley and W.J. Humphreys

Blurb:

“Did you ever try to photograph a snow flake? The procedure is very tricky. The work must be done rapidly in extreme cold, for even body heat can melt a rare specimen that has been painstakingly mounted. The lighting must be just right to reveal all the nuances of design without producing heat. But the results can be rewarding, as the work of W.A. Bentley proved. For almost half a century, Bentley caught and photographed thousands of snow flakes in his workshop at Jericho, Vermont, and made available to scientists and art instructors samples of his remarkable work. In 1931, the American Meteorological Society gathered together the best of these photomicrographs, plus some slides of frost, glaze, dew on vegetation and spider webs, sleet, and soft hail, and a text by W.J. Humphreys, and had them published. That book is here reproduced, unaltered and unabridged. Over 2,000 beautiful crystals on these pages reveal the wonder of nature’s diversity in uniformity: no two are alike, yet all are based on a common hexagon.”

 My Review:

Since I woke up to at least six inches of snow this morning, I thought this book would be very fitting for today. I love any nonfiction book that captivates and intrigues the reader, especially if that reader is a child. This book does just that. The text at the beginning is too difficult and technical for my girls (9 and 6), but that has not stopped them from pouring over each and every snowflake pictured in this book. When it was due at the library they begged me to renew it because they didn’t want to let it go. It is fascinating! The beginning text is very interesting, yet a bit technical. It talks about the different types of snowflakes and how they are formed, it talks about how Mr. Bentley painstakingly photographed each and every snowflake, and it talks about different natural phenomena like dew, sleet, hail, and frost. I found it intriguing, but I read through it quickly because I couldn’t wait to see all the beautiful pictures. It is amazing how intricate and detailed some of the snowflakes are! I had no idea that some snowflakes look like columns. Yes, they look like actual Roman columns, 3D and everything. There are many different shapes and configurations. No two in the book are the same. My favorite ones are the ones you think of when you think of snowflakes, with many delicate and intricate details. Frost is beautiful too! After reading this book, I can now look outside at all the snow this morning and not only see, but appreciate the beauty in it as well. This book would be fabulous for science teachers, art teachers, photography teachers, and all teachers looking to introduce more nonfiction books into the classroom. It would also be a great addition to any home library. I highly recommend this book.

Content Rating G

Rating: G (Clean!)

Age Recommendation: Everyone! (For a silent read I would say 5th or 6th grade and up to be able to understand the text, but everyone can enjoy the photographs.)

 

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong   I'm Possible by Jeff Griffin   Focused by Noelle Pikus Pace
 
 
*This post was originally published on 12/29/14; updated on 1/5/18.

[Book Review] Christmas Jars-The Collector’s Edition by Jason F. Wright

Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright

[Book Review] Christmas Jars: The Collector's Edition by Jason F. Wright

Blurb:

“Hope Jensen is a young, single woman and an aspiring newspaper writer, and when she receives a much-needed but anonymous Christmas gift, she’s determined to find her benefactor. That search leads her to an unusual family with a longstanding Christmas tradition. Sensing a front-page feature article, Hope desperately wants to publish their story, but doing so would be a breach of trust. What she decides to do will changer her life forever. Destined to become a classic Christmas tale, Christmas Jars is a heartwarming story that will restore your faith in mankind and make you want to start your own Christmas Jar tradition.”
 

My Review:

Over the years I have read a lot of Christmas books, and have loved many of them. This book is definitely somewhere at the top of my favorite list! It’s well written and engaging, and the characters come to life on the page. I felt as if I were there with them; we are best friends now, and I’d love to meet them! Not only that, but the story serves a larger purpose in that it explains what a Christmas Jar is and how Christmas Jars help both giver and receiver. I’d never heard of this before, but what an amazing idea! At the beginning of the year you take an old, empty jar and put it in a safe spot. Then each day when you get home from school or work, you take the change out of your pockets and you put it in the jar. You do this every day all year long. Then the week before Christmas, you take your now-full jar, and you secretly deliver it to someone in need (you could also put a copy of the book with the jar to explain it, but it’s not necessary).
 
You could give the jar to someone with a financial need, but it could also be someone who needs a gift of hope or love. Sometimes the receiver could be someone who needs to know she’s not alone. The possibilities are endless! I love this idea so much! I’ve already talked to my husband about starting our own jar for next Christmas. I’m going to read this book to my kids after Christmas, and we’re going to start a new tradition of a Christmas Jar. My only problem is that I never have cash or change on me, so maybe I’ll need to begin using cash more.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The story is heartwarming, and the real experiences at the back of the book are just as good! I loved reading them. You’ll need a box of Kleenexes handy, but it’s worth it! And who knows? Maybe you’ll want to start your own Christmas Jar tradition!
 
If you want to read more about this book, learn about the author, or read more amazing Christmas Jar stories, head over to: http://christmasjars.com/
Or you may go to the Christmas Jars Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/christmasjars/ 
 
 
Content Rating G

Rating: G (There’s no profanity, “intimacy,” or violence.)

Recommendation: Everyone!

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
 
 

Other Christmas Titles You May Enjoy:

Celebrating a Christ-Centered Christmas by Emily Belle Freeman and David Butler   The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson   A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
 
 
 
 
 

[Book Review] Remember the Ladies by Callista Gingrich

Remember the Ladies by Callista Gingrich
Remember the Ladies
by
Callista Gingrich

Blurb:
Ellis the Elephant is headed back to the White House! In Remember the Ladies, the seventh in Callista Gingrich’s New York Times bestselling series, Ellis meets some of America’s greatest first ladies and discovers their many contributions to American history. Join Ellis as he travels back in time to encounter:
  • Martha Washington as she invents what it means to be a first lady
  • Dolley Madison as she saves a portrait of George Washington from a burning White House
  • Mary Todd Lincoln as she supports Union troops throughout the Civil War
  • Eleanor Roosevelt as she redefines and strengthens the role of first lady
  • Jackie Kennedy as she brings style and glamour to the White House
With beautiful illustrations and charming rhymes, Remember the Ladies will delight young and old alike with a look at the first ladies who helped make America an exceptional nation.
My Review:
This book is so cute! The illustrations are adorable, and I love that it’s teaching the children about the first ladies. I think the first ladies sometimes get overlooked, but many of them have done some great things, and have championed some very important causes. I actually learned a lot! I didn’t know about many of the middle first ladies. I know quite a bit about Martha Washington and Abigail Adams, and then I know quite a bit about the more current first ladies, but I learned a great deal about some of those first ladies in the middle. For example, did you know that Abigail Fillmore added a library to the White House? I’d love to see the library in the White House! And I didn’t know that Jackie Kennedy gave Americans the first televised tour of the White House, or that Lady Bird Johnson worked to clean up America’s highways. This book highlights many of the first ladies, and I love that the title is based on Abigail Adams telling her husband to “remember the ladies!” I think this book does a good job of covering first ladies from both parties. At the end there is a little snippet on each first lady. I was surprised to know that in a few cases the presidents’ wives didn’t want the role, so a daughter or someone else would fill the position. I enjoyed this book and do recommend it.
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: Everyone
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

[Book Review] Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown
Mustaches for Maddie
by
Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Blurb:
“Twelve-year-old Maddie has a quirky sense of humor and a fondness for spotting fake mustaches–a neon pink handlebar, a green fuzzy chevron, a blue pencil mustache–her fake mustaches always seem to get a laugh. Being funny gets her noticed by class queen Cassie and things are looking up when Maddie is cast as the lead in the school play. When strange things start to happen to her body, like tripping when she walks and having her hand curl up by her side, she blames it on growing pains, but her mom isn’t so sure. The doctor confirms Maddie has a brain tumor and in an instant her world is turned upside down. With scary medical tests and surgery ahead of her, as well as typical sixth-grade problems–including the class queen who quickly turns into a bully–Maddie uses her friendliness, positive attitude, imagination, and her fake mustaches to battle her challenges. Maddie even gets an unexpected surprise when she receives hundreds of photos from friends, family members, and even complete strangers wearing fake mustaches to cheer her on. Based on a true story, Mustaches for Maddie teaches that everyone is going through somethings hard and everyone needs a compassionate friend and maybe a little bit of laughter from a mustache.”
My Review:

I loved this book! This is such an inspirational story!  I love Maddie’s voice in this book; her humor and wit are refreshing and so much fun, and her positive attitude during such a difficult time is truly admirable. Although this book is based on a true story, a big portion of the story is fictional. Part of the fictional story is about Cassie. She is a bully in Maddie’s class, and the way that Maddie decides to handle the situation makes her an example to all children in similar situations. Instead of being mean back to Cassie, or turning inward and becoming depressed, Maddie decides to use her wit, her kindness, and her sense of humor to change the dynamics. I loved that part of the book! Maddie is actually the daughter of the authors, and she really did have a brain tumor. Neighbors, friends, and even strangers, sent her pictures of them with silly mustaches to cheer Maddie up after her surgery. How sweet is that? Seriously! That is how we should always treat each other; building up and doing everything we can to help during difficult situations. It’s heart breaking to hear stories of children battling cancer, and to hear of such an amazing outcome is truly inspirational. The author was in the hospital with his daughter when his debut novel The Inventor’s Secret was published. I did not know that at the time, but I was lucky enough to participate in his book tour, and his book has turned into one of my all-time favorite middle-grader reads! Mustaches for Maddie is well written, it flows well, the voice in the book is witty, charming, and so cute, and the character development is great. Another fabulous thing about this book are the lessons that it teaches. They are very powerful: standing up for yourself, anti-bullying, being yourself, enjoying life, and doing things that you love are just a few. So great! This is a fast, easy read that will leave you wanting to hear more from cute Maddie. I laughed and cried, and couldn’t put it down. I highly recommend this book for kids and adults alike! It’ll make a great read aloud too! My copy came with these cute “Compassion in Action” postcards as well.

Compassion in Action postcards from Mustaches for Maddie by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

Rating: PG (Clean!! There is a bully in the book, and she does some mean things. It also discusses Maddie’s medical issues. There isn’t any profanity, “intimacy,” or violence.)

Recommendation: As a silent read I’d say 2nd or 3rd grade and up, and as a read aloud I’d say K or 1st grade and up. All children should read this book to see how their actions affect those around them, and to see how Maddie handles the situation. I’m going to have all four of my kids read it!

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Also by Chad Morris:

Cragbridge Hall: The Inventor's Secret (Book #1) by Chad Morris
Book #1

Cragbridge Hall: The Avatar Battle (Book #2) by Chad Morris
Book #2
Cragbridge Hall: The Impossible Race (Book #3) by Chad Morris
Book #3

Hail to the Chief (An Ellis the Elephant Story)

Hail to the Chief
(An Ellis the Elephant Story)
by
Callista Gingrich

Blurb:
“Ellis the elephant is back, and he’s headed to the White House! In Hail to the Chief, the sixth in Callista Gingrich’s New York Times bestselling series, Ellis meets some of America’s greatest presidents and discovers how they have led our country throughout American history. Join Ellis as he travels back in time to encounter:
  • George Washington as he is sworn in as our first president.
  • Andrew Jackson as he welcomes thousands of Americans to the White House.
  • Abraham Lincoln as he delivers the Gettysburg Address.
  • Theodore Roosevelt as he builds our national park system.
  • Lyndon Johnson as he signs the Civil Rights Act.
With beautiful illustrations and charming rhymes, Hail to the Chief will delight young and old alike with a glimpse at the leaders who helped make America an exceptional nation.”
My Review:
What a great book! I love that it’s a darling picture book with colorful illustrations, and yet it’s packed with information! Children will think they’re reading about a cute little elephant, and yet they’re learning about American presidents and history. You know me, I hate it when authors push their agenda onto children through books and movies, and I was worried that this book might do that; it did not, thankfully! It is an unbiased look at several of America’s former presidents; Republican and Democratic alike. The only agenda in this book is to get children excited about American history by helping them learn about former presidents. I even learned a few things! It’s written in poem format, which is great because learning to rhyme is also an important skill for children to have. It’s not forced rhyming, either. It flows well and is easy to read and understand. My copy is hardback, which I love for its durability. The illustrations are very well done. They’re colorful, interesting, and full of great details. Not all the former presidents are highlighted in the book, but there is a little blurb on each of the presidents in the back of the book. (*Update 1/6/17: I had a reader contact me regarding the blurbs. She felt like the blurbs were biased, so I read through them. I think most of them are unbiased and informational. There are a few, especially with the more current presidents,  that are slightly biased. I didn’t feel like they were extremely biased, but there was a hint. Still, I think the benefits of the book outweigh the negative. If you feel the blurbs are biased then you could take those pages out, since they are not a part of the actual story. The story itself is unbiased.*)  I highly recommend this book for old and young alike! This book should be in every elementary school library in the United States!
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: Everyone!
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!

I know it’s past Christmas, but……
Merry Christmas!!!!
I have been completely preoccupied for the last six weeks! (You could probably tell that I have not posted as much as I usually do.) I have been subbing full-time for my daughter’s class at school. Her teacher had a baby and asked me if I would sub her class for the next 12 weeks. Wow. It has been crazy! I haven’t worked full-time in 14 years, since I had my first baby. That was when I taught first grade, but it has been 14 years! Let’s just say that jumping back into it has been a HUGE adjustment for all of us. I’m halfway through! Six more weeks to go and then hopefully I can get back to my usual routine! I usually do my reading at night when everyone is asleep and I can’t sleep. However, the last six weeks I have fallen asleep so fast that I haven’t been able to do much reading. I did, however,  manage to read this book. I love this book! I have read it many times, but it’s been a few years; so I was excited to pick it up again. 

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Blurb (from amazon.com):

The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.

None of the Herdmans has ever heard the Christmas story before. Their interpretation of the tale — the Wise Men are a bunch of dirty spies and Herod needs a good beating — has a lot of people up in arms. But it will make this year’s pageant the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever.”

My Review:

I love this book! It’s so cute and full of wonderful lessons; for Christmas time and all year long. The narrator is hilarious and engaging. She has a funny personality that makes you care about her and her story. The mom is so patient and usually has a positive outlook. The Herdmans are awful. I read this to the kids and I had to stop and talk about how unhealthy smoking is, and how stealing and setting fire to things are bad choices. However, it sets a great stage for what is to come in the story. Their bad behavior makes the change that much more poignant. I won’t give it away, but some of the lessons learned are to actually think about the things we do, instead of just going through the motions, and to really think about the things we believe in. It also teaches the importance of not judging others, and to not gossip. It’s a quick read, yet it is such a great book to read at this time of year. Reading this book helps put things in perspective. 

Rating: PG+ (It does talk about the kids smoking, burning things, and doing all sorts of bad things. It does have a religious overtone to it-just fyi.)

Recommendation: As long as mom or dad are sitting there discussing the poor choices that the kids are making, this book is fine for about first grade and up. As a silent read I would say third grade (but I would still recommend that a parent discusses it with them).


The Chocolate Touch

The Chocolate Touch by Patrick Skene Catling

Blurb: 
“John Midas loves chocolate. He loves it so much that he’ll eat it any hour of any day. He doesn’t care if he ruins his appetite. He thinks chocolate is better than any other food! But one day, after wandering into a candy store and buying a piece of their best chocolate, John finds out that there might just be such a thing as too much chocolate…..”

My Review:

Too much chocolate? No! I don’t think so! Or, at least I didn’t think so….until I read this book! Unfortunately, John has to learn the hard way that there is such a thing as too much chocolate! Bummer, right? I mean, who wants to eat broccoli instead of chocolate? No one! This is a cute story. It’s so fun, and it teaches a good lesson too. It’s well written, engaging, has good character development, and my kids loved it (I started reading it to my girls-7 and 9, and my boys, 13 and 11, joined us…they loved it too!). It’s a great read-aloud! And, I guess even the big kiddos enjoy it! I loved the descriptions in this book; I could just picture the expressions on the characters’ faces, and almost taste that delectable chocolate. And what is even better? This book is totally clean; there is no profanity, violence, or “intimacy” (Yay!).

Rating: G (Totally clean!!!)

Recommendation: Everyone! This book is especially great for all the chocoholics out there….. 🙂

Animal Motions

Animal Motions by Melissa Pilgrim
(This summary is taken from an email the author sent to me.) “Animal Motions” is a fun, easy to follow, low-impact movement routine told as a story in a colorful picture book for ages 3-6.  Follow Eric as he stretches and moves his body at the start of his day by using his imagination to become some of his favorite animals.  Travel with him to the jungle, the desert, the forest, the ocean—-and don’t forget to keep your body moving!  It’s inspired by the theatre games I used to play with my young actors in Chicago at my theatre there, and I’m hoping it helps all children everywhere stay “creatively fit!” 


The beautiful, full-page watercolor illustrations are done by the very talented Ira V. Gates.”


This is a fun new children’s book! I read it to my kids this morning. My six-year-old laughed and loved it, my eight-year-old said it was ok, and my eleven-year-old just shrugged. So there you go. It says ages 3-6 and that’s spot on. Eric wakes up in the morning and stretches his body. He moves like many different animals, and each animal is a different position or stretch. My kids were eating breakfast when I read it to them, but if we had all been sitting together I would have made them follow along. I think this is a fun concept. It gives kids a more exciting way to stretch and move. Not only is it great for families, it would also be great for preschool, kindergarten, or first grade classrooms. (There are lesson plans to go along with the book on her website, which I will give below.) It would also be great for a younger dance or gymnastics class as well. The illustrations are so bright and colorful. They are captivating and really bring the story together.  
The website that coincides with this book is a great resource for parents and teachers. The website is: www.animalmotions.com . There are lesson plans and a mini poster that you can print for kids to color. Also, there is an app that goes along with the book! It goes through all the animal motions and the kids can follow along. So fun! (It’s FREE on amazon.com for android today, Sept. 4th, so grab it while you can! It’s also FREE on itunes today!!!)
Rating: G (Clean!)
Recommendation: It is recommended for ages 3-6. I think even toddlers could do it.
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Here is the link to the app on amazon:
Here is the link to the book: