[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

Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

[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] 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

[Book Review] Mysteries of Cove: Embers of Destruction (Book 3)

Mysteries of Cove: 
Embers of Destruction (Book #3)
by
J. Scott Savage

Blurb:
“After the battle of Seattle, Trenton and Kallista–along with their friends, Plucky, Simoni, Angus, and Clyde–fly their mechanical dragons south toward San Francisco, looking for any sign of Kallista’s father, Leo Babbage. Arriving in a new city, the young riders investigate the area in secret, only to be reunited with Leo Babbage, who reveals that the humans in the city are working as slaves to the dragons. What’s more, the humans don’t want to be rescued–himself included. He says they are being protected by their new master: a huge, powerful white dragon who lives in an impenetrable tower fortress overlooking the city. Kallista is stunned by the news. Why would her father ever willingly work for dragons? With the white dragon watching their every move, Trenton and Kallista will need every bit of creativity and ingenuity they can manage to find a way to enter the dragon’s tower fortress and break its hold over the city–and the world–once and for all.”
My Review:
This has been such a fun series to read! My boys both got to this book before I did (they’re now 16 and 14), and they loved it. I enjoyed it too, which I love because then we can talk about it together. We have our own in-house book group going on! Love it! Trenton is just such a great kid (and character). I love his humility, his creativity, and his ability to think and act appropriately under pressure. He has his flaws, he’s not perfect, but that’s one thing I like about his character. Kallista is a great character as well. She’s a little more complex than Trenton is, and may be strong-willed, but I love her ingenuity, her work ethic, and I love that she’s a strong female character. The descriptions in this book are very good. I loved reading all about the different dragons, especially the white one; you could just feel the evil dripping out of him! I love that the kids need to use their brains and skills, and that it’s difficult, but they are determined and work hard. Some of those qualities are hard to find in kids these days, so it’s a great example of what working hard and being smart can get you! This book is very well written, it’s engaging, and I couldn’t put it down! There are a few surprises, and a bunch of new characters. It’s a great ending to a very fun trilogy. At our house we are sad that this is the last book in the series. I highly recommend this book and series for middle-graders and YA.
Rating: PG+ (I marked this one a little higher than I did the other two because there is quite a bit of fighting (they’re fighting dragons, mostly), and a character dies in this one. There is no profanity or “intimacy.”
Recommendation: 3rd grade and up! (Middle Graders and Young Adults)
Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Mysteries of Cove Trilogy:
Book One Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention by J. Scott SavageBook Three Mysteries of Cove: Embers of Destruction by J. Scott SavageBook Two Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution by J. Scott Savage

      Book #1                                                       Book #2                                           Book #3
Also by J. Scott Savage:
Far World: Air Keep Book 3 by J. Scott Savage   Far World: Water Keep Book 1 by J. Scott Savage   Far World: Land Keep Book 2 by J. Scott Savage
                                  Book #1                       Book #2                      Book #3

The Dark Talent (Book #5 in Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians)

The Dark Talent
(Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians: Book #5 )
by
Brandon Sanderson

Blurb:
“For years, the Evil Librarians have managed to keep this book under wraps–but Alcatraz is back at last with an all-new adventure! Alcatraz Smedry has successfully defeated the army of Evil Librarians and saved the kingdom of Mokia. Too bad he managed to break the Smedry Talents in the process. Even worse, his father is trying to enact a scheme that could ruin the world, and his friend Bastille is in a coma. To revive her, Alcatraz must infiltrate the Highbrary–known as the Library of Congress to Hushlanders–the seat of Evil Librarian power. Without his Talent to draw upon, can Alcatraz figure out a way to save Bastille and defeat the Evil Librarians once and for all?”

My Review:

So here it is-the last book! Sad! I always get mixed emotions when I read the last book in a series; I’m excited to see how it ends, but I don’t want it to end. This has been such a fun series, and I enjoyed every book. So what did I think about this book? You need to read it! Someone please read it and then email me so we can talk! Did this book answer all my questions? Sadly, no!! What?? I know. Seriously. I’m left hanging. Did Alcatraz end up like he said he would? Sadly, yes. 🙁 Mr. Sanderson (aka Alcatraz) did discover footnotes though, that was awesome. The cover art is great, the story is action-packed and full of surprises, and even though I still had questions, it was a great final book. If you have read the first four, go get on amazon (my affiliate link is at the bottom of the review so it’s very convenient to click right now…) and order it right now!! If it’s daytime when you read this then the library is also a good option. Just please someone read it and let me know so we can discuss!

Rating: PG+ (This one is rated a little bit higher because a few prominent characters die. It’s not overly graphic, but it is a bit more graphic than the other books. There is fighting. There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.”)

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up

Alcatraz vs The Shattered Lens (Book #4)

The Shattered Lens 
(Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians: Book #4)

by
Brandon Sanderson

Blurb:

“Alcatraz Smedry is on a mission to save the day! The boy with all the wrong Talents has a lot to prove and, as always, little time in which to do it. In this final adventure, Alcatraz faces an army of librarians–and their giant librarian robots–as they battle to win the kingdom of Mokia. If the librarians win the war, everything that Alcatraz has fought so hard for could end in disaster. With his incredible Talent for breaking things, some explosive teddy bears, and the help of his friends, Alcatraz must face the glass-shattering gigantic robots, an entire army of evil librarians, and even his own manipulative mother! But will he be able to save the kingdom of Mokia and the Free Kingdoms from the wrath of the librarians before everything comes crashing down?”

My Review:

This series has definitely become one of my all-time favorites! I love the humor, wit, and creativity in these books, and this one is no different. For example, this is part of the Author’s Forward: “This is my story. Or, well, part four of it. Otherwise known as ‘The part where everything goes wrong, and then Alcatraz has a cheese sandwich.'” Hahaha!!! Seriously. I haven’t ever laughed out loud so much in a book before. Explosive teddy bears? Magic glasses? Dragons as cabs? The wrong Talents that actually wished for and celebrated? Who comes up with this stuff? So fun! As usual, there is trouble in the world and Alcatraz feels the need to save the day. Sitting back and letting things play out is not his strong suit. This book is a continuation of all the fun that happens in the first three books, and I thought it was great. There are a few surprises, and definitely some creative uses of magic and lenses. There are, of course, lots of evil librarians, but there are lots of good guys too. If you want lots of action, fun, humor, wit, giant robots, and lots of breaking things, this book is for you! If you enjoyed the first three then you for sure need to read this one! If you haven’t read any of these books yet, go brave the evil librarian at your local library and pick up book #1. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

This book contains quite a bit of fighting because it’s a war. It’s not overly graphic, though. There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” Alcatraz may be naked for a short while; however, it’s not because of anything inappropriate. There might be a small kiss?

Rating: PG (For minor fighting of those evil librarians.)

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up

The Knights of Crystallia (Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians Book #3)

The Knights of Crystallia
(Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians Book #3)
by
Brandon Sanderson

Blurb (Taken from goodreads.com):
When Alcatraz and Grandpa Smedry make a pilgrimage to the Free Kingdom city of Crystallia, the Smedry home base, Alcatraz is shocked to see that he is, in fact, a legend. When he was a baby he was stolen by the Evil Librarians, and his mother, a Librarian herself, was behind the whole scheme. Now, with his estranged father, who is acting indeed strange, Bastille, who has been stripped of her armor, and Grandpa Smedry, who is, as always, late to everything (that’s his Talent), Alcatraz tries to save a city under siege. From who? Why, the Librarians of course!


My Review:

Seriously! These books are so much fun! I love the humor and wit, the creativity, and the imagination in these books, and this one is no different. It starts out different from the other books, saying that he’s awesome; in the other books he makes it very clear that he is not a hero, that he’s a liar, etc. I was intrigued from the get-go. It seems that fame has gotten to our non-hero in this book. Alcatraz begins to be just a bit arrogant and cocky. He lets the pride go to his head, and there are definitely consequences to that. The capital city of Nalhalla seems like such a cool place! I loved the descriptions of the buildings, the dragons that climb on buildings and act as taxis, and the technology they have there. Of course, there’s trouble, and Alcatraz’ mom is involved somehow. This time, however, the gang is not at the top of their game. They have to be doubly creative to make up for what they’re lacking. This book has lots of action, danger, librarian schemes, surprises, books that sing, and more amazing Talents. If you enjoyed the first two you will love this one! My family always ends up hearing a lot of these books because I’ll be sitting there reading and will burst out laughing; then they’ll want to know why and I’ll have to read it to them. It’s awesome! I can’t remember the last books that I actually laughed out loud at while reading. I love it; it’s definitely a breath of fresh air!

Rating: PG (There’s no profanity or “intimacy.” There is some minor violence as they fight off those evil librarians.)

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up! This book would also make a great read-aloud!


The Scrivener’s Bones (Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians Book #2)

The Scrivener’s Bones
(Alcatraz vs the Evil Librarians Book #2)
by
Brandon Sanderson

Blurb:
“Grandpa Smedry is in trouble–Alcatraz to the Rescue! In his second skirmish against the Evil Librarians who rule the world, Alcatraz and his ragtag crew of freedom fighters track Grandpa Smedry to the ancient and mysterious Library of Alexandria. Hushlanders–people who live in the Librarian-controlled lands, such as Canada, Europe, and the United States–believe the library was destroyed long ago. Free Kingdomers know the truth: the Library of Alexandria is still around, and it’s one of the most dangerous places on the planet. For it is the home of the scariest Librarians of them all: a secret sect of soul-stealing undead Curators. Can Alcatraz and his friends rescue Grandpa Smedry and make it out of there alive?”
My Review:
Have I told you how much I love this series? Well, let me tell you again–I love this series! I cannot remember the last time I laughed out loud this much reading a book. Seriously! I love the wit, the humor, the puns, the dialogue, the sarcasm, and the writing in this book. I was in the faculty room at school, eating lunch, and the other teachers kept asking me what I was reading because I was laughing so hard. I read a few parts to them, and I read parts to my husband because it’s so funny. The part about the bazooka-wielding bunny is hilarious. I love how the author addresses the reader. I love how he inserts random comments throughout. The characters are very well done. Alcatraz learns and grows a lot during this book, and Bastille is…Bastille. We meet a few new characters in book two, and I like them as well. The bad guy is even more scary than the bad guy in the first book, but the way he is done is very clever. There’s a lot of action in this book, and some cool new lenses are introduced. I like that the characters can’t just use physical force to overcome their enemies, they also need to use knowledge. This is a great second book, and I highly recommend it! If you liked the first one, you NEED to pick this one up today!
Rating: PG (There’s no profanity or “intimacy.” There is some violence as they fight the bad guy. There are some injured characters as well, but none of it is too graphic or too scary.)
Recommendation: 3rd grade and up (It’s a great middle-grade/YA book!!)