[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] Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

[Book Review] Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

 Blurb:

“In August 1914, Ernest Shackleton and 27 men sailed from England in an attempt to become the first team of explorers to cross Antarctica. Five months later and still 100 miles from land, their ship, Endurance, became trapped in ice. When Endurance broke apart and sank, the expedition survived another five months camping on ice floes, followed by a perilous journey through stormy seas to remote and unvisited Elephant Island. In a dramatic climax to this amazing survival story, Shackleton and five others navigated 800 miles of treacherous open ocean in a 20-foot boat to fetch a rescue ship. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World vividly re-creates one of the most extraordinary adventure stories in history. Jennifer Armstrong narrates this unbelievable story with vigor, and eye for detail, and an appreciation of the marvelous leadership of Ernest Shackleton, who brought home every one of his men alive. With them survived a remarkable archive of photographs of the expedition, more than 40 of which are reported here.”
 

My Review:

I love this book! It is an amazing story! Seriously amazing, and I think it teaches wonderful lessons about hard work, determination, working together, and great leadership. It is so well written that it reads as fiction. I love the format with the pictures and the maps. I love to just look at the pictures because they capture the moment so well. I look up to Ernest Shackleton because of his great leadership ability. As you’re reading, you know that no one dies, but you can’t believe it!  These men go through so many trials and hardships, and not one of them dies. It is incredible! Ms. Armstrong did a great job with this book and I highly recommend it! I recommend it as a read-aloud and also as a personal read. This book is one of my all-time-favorite nonfiction reads!
 Content Rating PG+

Rating: PG+ (It is clean, but they do suffer through a lot of hardships, some of which are not pleasant to read.)

Age Recommendation: Fifth Grade and up. It is a great read-aloud for home or school, and is also a wonderful book for kids and adults alike to sit down and read. Parents may want to read it first just so they know if it is appropriate for their child.


Similar Titles You May Be Interested In:

 
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown   1776 by David McCullough  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
 
 
 
*This post was first published on 8/8/12, and was updated on 1/10/18.

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

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.

[Book Review] Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution (Book #2) by J. Scott Savage

Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution (Book #2) 
by 
J. Scott Savage

Blurb:
“After finding a compass and clues left by Kallista’s father, Leo Babbage, Trenton and Kalista head west aboard their homemade mechanical dragon to search for the missing inventor. The teenagers hope to find answers about their mountain city of Cove, but instead, they find only a blackened forest, ruined buildings, and a small underground city. Almost immediately, Trenton and Kallista are caught up in a civil war between a clan of scavengers called Whipjacks and the Order of the Beast, people who believe that dragons are immortal and divine. Stranded in a new city, the two friends meet Plucky, a Whipjack girl with mechanical legs, and Ander, a young member of the Order who claims humans are able to communicate with dragons. Can they trust anyone, or have they unknowingly stepped into a trap? And high above in the sky, the dragons are gathering…”

My Review:

I enjoyed the first book in this series, Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention, so I was excited to read this second book. It did not disappoint! Trenton and Kallista may have been the same, there was that same feeling of searching for answers, and yes, the mechanical dragon is there too, but other than that, this book is very different from the first one. I liked that we really got to know Trenton in this book. We get to see his strengths, weaknesses, successes, and failures, and we get to see him using his creative/mechanical abilities. There are a few new characters in this book that we get to know quite well. Plucky, Ander, and Cochrane are a few of the new characters. These new characters definitely have different names! There is a lot of tension in this book because Trenton and Kallista are constantly wondering who they can trust, and they’re somewhat at odds with each other as well. There are some surprises in this book that totally threw me off, and then there were parts that were a bit predictable. I loved it when Trenton and Kallista were able to fly the mechanical dragon together. What a neat thing for them to be able to experience. Too bad there’s not a “Build a Mechanical Dragon That Flies” kit I could purchase my boys for Christmas! Overall, this book is well written. There were a few parts that I saw as a little superficial, and a couple of places that I didn’t think fit well, but other than that this book is well done. The characters are done well and the story is exciting and full of action. I didn’t love the place where they found themselves, I thought it was a bit off, but because I enjoyed the first book I’ll give it some leeway. I did enjoy the book and would recommend it, especially if you enjoyed the first book.

This book is clean, thank goodness! There isn’t any profanity and there isn’t any “intimacy” at all. There is some violence though. The people are attacked by dragons and at least one character dies.

Rating: PG (There isn’t any profanity or “intimacy.” There is a little more violence in this book, but it is not too bad. The dragons attack and at least one character dies.)

Recommendation: Third grade and up. (Great for Middle Graders and YA)

*This post was originally posted on 10/24/16, and was updated on 11/3/17.

Mysteries of Cove Trilogy:


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


Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention Book 1 by J. Scott Savage
Book #1

Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution Book 2 by J. Scott Savage
Book #2

Westly: A Spider’s Tale

Westly: A Spider’s Tale by Bryan Beus

Blurb: 
“This is the tale of a caterpillar named Westly, destined to become a Monarch butterfly–and the next king. But sometimes things don’t turn out the way we plan. When Westly emerges from his cocoon, not as a beautiful butterfly, but as a spider, he is rejected by the butterfly kingdom and undertakes a journey to discover who he really is. Adopted by the other bugs, the ‘dirt eaters,’ Westly is determined to make a difference, to belong, to be loved, and most importantly, to become who he was born to be. Delightfully illustrated by the author, Westly: A Spider’s Tale is a story about discovering one’s true potential, learning that being different is not a bad thing, and that even misfits can grow up to be heroes.”
My Review:
Move over Aesop, here comes Westly! This is a modern-day fable; it is a fast, easy read, and has many great lessons in it. Westly is so surprised when he emerges from his cocoon, and so is everyone else. He doesn’t know what to think, and neither does anyone else. He runs away from his lifetime home, and while he is out and about, he learns a lot about himself. Westly is a good, real character. He isn’t perfect, but he tries really hard. He has realistic emotions and reactions to different situations. The other characters around him are also well developed. You can easily picture all the different personalities and stereotypes, and you can almost pick someone out from your past to play all the parts in the story. The book is well written. It has an interesting story line with some surprises along the way. I love all the different lessons that Westly learns along his journey. It’s ok to be different. Being different gives you individual strengths and weaknesses, which is a good thing. You won’t always fit in, and that’s ok; don’t let that bring you down. Bloom where you are planted. Do the best you can wherever you are. Family is important. Be wary of those around you who want to deceive you. (You know, the wolves in sheep’s clothing.)  Have a positive attitude. Do your best. Sometimes we make mistakes, and that’s ok; what is important is learning from those mistakes and doing better next time. Take responsibility for your actions, even if it’s hard. I liked the book and think my kids will enjoy it. I’d say it a good middle-grader read. This book would elicit a great discussion in a classroom. 
This story does get a little scary in a few parts. It doesn’t have any profanity or “intimacy,” (thank you!), but it does have some minor violence. There is a “bad guy,” and there are some characters that are lost (killed). There is some fighting against the bad guy.  

Rating: PG+ (No profanity or “intimacy,” but there is some violence with fighting and the death of some characters.)

Recommendation: 4th grade and up.

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

[Book Review] Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention (Book #1) by J. Scott Savage

Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Invention (Book #1)
 by 
J. Scott Savage

Blurb:
“Trenton Coleman is a creative thirteen-year-old boy with a knack for all things mechanical. But his talents are viewed with suspicion in Cove, a steam-powered city build inside a mountain. In Cove, creativity is a crime and “invention” is a curse word. Kallista Babbage is a repair technician and daughter of the notorious Leo Babbage, who died in an explosion–an event the leaders of Cove point to as an example of the danger of creativity. Working together, Trenton and Kallista learn that Leo Babbage was developing a secret project before he perished. Following clues he left behind, they begin to assemble a strange machine that is unlike anything they’ve ever seen before. They soon discover that what they are building may threaten every truth their city is founded on–and quite possibly their lives”

My Review:

What a fun book! This story just comes to life on the pages. The characters are well developed and really great. I especially liked Trenton, Kallista, and Simoni. Trenton is the main character, and I feel so bad for him! He doesn’t end up where he wants to end up, job-wise, and he feels like he’s been betrayed and like he is missing a huge part of himself. However, he finds ways to use his……gasp! creativity (creativity is frowned upon in this story), and he might even make an…..gasp! invention or two (the word “invention” is considered profanity in Cove). He’s a very likable character who is easy to relate to. He may make me nervous in some situations, because I’m definitely a rule-follower, but he has a cute personality and reminds you of your best friend growing up. Simoni is a cute character as well. She is more like me, a rule-follower, but she is a cute character. Kallista is a little more on the wild side, you may say. She is a bit of a rebel and is…..don’t say it! creative. She may bring out a different side of Trenton, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. She is smart and thinks outside of the box, or mountain, in this case. The story line is fun and adventurous, and has enough action to satisfy the boys and enough girly stuff to capture the girls. Both Trenton and Kallista are strong characters, and each have their own abilities that they bring to the table. The history of Cove is interesting, and I enjoyed hearing how the whole city-in-a-mountain works. There’s a bit of mystery to the story, and I liked how Trenton and Kallista worked together to solve each of the pieces of the puzzle. This is a fun middle-grader story, that I think both boys and girls will enjoy. I love the message of this book as well. Creativity and invention are wonderful things; learning to think outside of the box is an excellent skill to have.

I love that this is a great story, and it’s completely clean! There is no profanity (thank you!!), no “intimacy” except for 13 year-old crushes, and very little violence. It is a fantastic middle-grader story that boys and girls will enjoy. I was hooked from the beginning! It’s a fast, easy read, and I recommend it. It would make a great read-aloud as well.

Rating: PG (No profanity or “intimacy,” and very little violence.)

Recommendation: 3rd grade and up.

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

*This post was originally posted 9/28/15 and updated on 11/3/17.

Mysteries of Cove Trilogy:

Mysteries of Cove: Fires of Revolution Book 1 by J. Scott Savage
Book #1
Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution Book 2 by J. Scott Savage
Book #2

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….. 🙂

Princess Academy

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale

Blurb:
“High on the slopes of rocky Mount Eskel, Miri’s family pounds a living from the stone of the mountain itself. But Miri’s life will change forever when word comes that her small village is the home of the future princess. All eligible girls must attend a makeshift academy to prepare for royal life. At the school, Miri finds herself confronting bitter competition among the girls and her own conflicted desires to be chosen. Yet when danger comes to the academy, it is Miri, named for a tiny mountain flower, who must find a way to save her classmates–and the future of their beloved village.”
My Review:
My sister is always complaining that because my boys are oldest, I don’t have enough good middle grade/YA book ideas for girls. I try to keep up with my boys, and so I haven’t really read any good books in that age group for girls. Well, this review is just for her! I read it with my book group this month, and I am pretty sure we all enjoyed it. This book is well written. It’s easy to read and understand, the character development is really good, there are some fun surprises along the way, and I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Hale’s writing style. What girl doesn’t dream of being a princess someday? This academy will give one lucky girl just that chance. I loved the individual personalities of the girls. It definitely took me back to my school days. The characters reminded me so much of my friends growing up. There are some that are extremely competitive, some that are loud, some that are timid, some that are angry no matter what, some are very studious, and some are always getting into trouble. I did not like Olana at all. She was the teacher at the academy, and she wasn’t very nice. Miri drove me crazy at times, but at other times she was so strong and brave and courageous. She is a great character for these girls to be reading about because she has a lot of good, strong qualities. She has her moments, as do we all, but she is smart, fun, a little mischievous, courageous, and a good friend. I loved it when she took the information back to her village! There is some drama with other girls, but it’s not the main story. There is a scene that is tense and may bring out the nail-biting, but it’s not overly dramatic. It adds a different dimension to the story and spices things up a bit. I also loved the quarry-speech. It’s very clever, and I loved how Miri studied, tried, learned, experimented, and ended up including all the girls. The ending is a bit of a surprise, and there are some fun moments. I really enjoyed this book! 
I loved especially that this book is clean! There is no profanity, no “intimacy,” except for maybe a small kiss, and although there is a little bit of violence, it isn’t gory or graphic. Nothing inappropriate happens. (Yay! Thank you!!!) It is great for fifth and sixth grade girls for sure. The fourth grade girls may be a little young, so I would recommend that the parents read it to make sure it is ok for their daughter. 
Rating: PG (Some very minor violence, and maybe a tiny peck of a kiss.)
Recommendation: Fourth Grade Girlies and up (If your daughter is in fourth grade then I recommend that you read it first to make sure you feel it is ok for her. If you have a daughter in fifth grade or above then she should be fine reading this book.)