Childrens Book Reviews
Every parent is looking for a book to inspire their children, and this book is special in so many ways.
For starters, the entire book is presented with beautiful graphics. Graphics are a part of every childrens book, or at least they should be, but the graphics often are an after thought. These graphics actually paint the picture that the story is telling. It's easy for a child to focus on the book because of these well presented graphics. Not too "slick", not to goofy, just right to speak to your child.
To further aid in your childs development, the book is written in two languages...showing side by side. Coming from south Florida this is invaluable. But should be considered valuable by anyone interested in language skills. Exposing a child (as well as the parent) to multiple lanaguages as early as possible is a great way to help insure an open mind, for language, as well as various cultures. And obviously a primarily spanish speaking family will be thrilled to have a well written childrens book written in english and spanish...by the original author!
But there is no doubt that the true value of this book is it's message. I would actually say there are two distinct messages within the book. One is showing that any child that has difficulty finding friends or mixing in should realize that they are not alone. This simple fact can put your child at ease, and allow them to feel less alone and awkward. The second message suggests that the child find things in common with others, and build relationships based on the commonality. A message that should speak to children as well as adults, but too often doesn't.
I have had the opportunity to meet this author, as well as to "fight" with her, as she is a 3rd degree black belt in Aikido, and I am a shodan (1st degree). When Isabel is not swimming, running or pursuing other physical challenges, she teaches Aikido to children and exhibits great patience training the children to be respectful and controlled, but have fun. She and her family are amazing people, and their children are a testament to her ability to speak to and inspire children.
Title:This is Belle
Publication Date: 13 April 2017
For ages: 5 - 12
From the moment she landed in Tasmania, Louisa feels she would have rather stayed home in her hometown, Toronto, California playing her violin for her music audition.
A her experiences in the Talkine rainforests become more mysterious and exhilarating, she learns the importance of nature and the survival of endangered species. She also learns that the supposedly extinct Tasmanian Tigers have interesting taste in music.
Once she returns home, she will never think of music in the same way again. Join her on her exciting musical journey in the Talkines, with a music-loving Tasmanian Tiger called Ellie; a new friend, Collin who is struggling in school; a wild conservationist Mel and two small devil joeys called Waltz and Matilda. Welcome to Australia.
I enjoyed this book so much. Michelle Kadarusman has captured the essence and detail of the Australian bush in every word and detail of the story. Her magnificent writing makes it easy to imagine the imagery of the Talkine rainforests. Once you start to read her book you can not stop.
I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in music or wildlife, especially endangered and extinct animals such as the Tasmanian Tigers. I was disappointed when I finished the book because I wanted to continue reading about Louisa’s exceptional journey in the Talkine rainforests. I recommend this book for ages 9 and up.
Title: Music for Tigers
Author: Michelle Kadarusman
Illustrator: Rebecca Bender
Publisher: Pajama Press, $34.16
Publication date: March 2021
For ages: 8 - 14
Type: Junior Fiction
We’ll count your fingers and your toes
And marvel at your button nose.
We’ll sing and read and talk to you
And make you smile at peekaboo!
Written in flawless rhyme, the rhythm and flow of this picture book is just delightful. It’s soothing and soft, and a wonderful bedtime read for littlies to celebrate those beautiful first days, months and years of baby life.
With gorgeous pastels and cute baby animals throughout, it’s also a joy to explore. Unwin’s story and Robaard’s illustrations perfectly entwine to deliver a picture book that I predict will quickly become a favourite.
With a special place at the start to write your name and baby’s name, it’s the perfect gift for brand new bundles of joy. But I love that it’s also a book that will continue to give as they grow. When baby is a little older, they will have so much fun learning and pointing to the wide variety of animals featured. Unwin has also weaved in brilliant repetition so kids can join in with the storytelling. It’s truly a treat.
At the back of the book there is also a place to stick in baby’s first photo, so the book can become a keepsake for children to hold onto over the years.
I really love this book. I’m sure every parent knows new babies bring challenges and frustrations, and there are bad days as well as good. But Hello, Baby! is here to remind us that every second of baby chaos is worth it — that there really is nothing as magical as new life and the joy and wonder it brings to our world.
For more amazing picture books by Shelly Unwin, make sure you check out There's a Baddie Running Through This Book and Blast Off!. And for more stunning illustrations from Jedda Robaard, you simply must take a look at I'm Ready for Christmas and I'm Ready for Preschool.
Title: Hello, Baby!
Author: Shelly Unwin
Illustrator: Jedda Robaard
Publisher: Allen and Unwin, $19.99
Publication Date: March 2021
For ages: 0 - 5
Type: Picture Book
Uncle Evert is in jail for killing Gabriel Winterborne’s family and trying to take over his fortune. The five children, Colin, Sadie, Tim, Violet and April, living in the Mansion with Gabriel as their guardian, discover Gabriel is also the Sentinel, a vigilante that protects the city with skill, swords and knives.
Isabella, head of the Winterborne Foundation, can’t be found. This is not the only disturbing mystery. Who is the fake vigilante dressed in identical clothing to Gabriel, that breaks into the Mansion looking for something or someone? The scariest part is the level of destruction they leave behind.
Someone from Child Protective Services arrives with accusation that Gabriel is an unsuitable guardian, especially with Isabella’s absence. She is determined to remove the children from the Mansion.
But these extraordinary children haven’t been chosen at random to become part of the Winterborne family. They are intelligent, sharp, courageous and proactive. Can they solve the surge of mysteries that envelope them?
Through chases and near misses, explosions and escapes, April and the other children search for Gabriel. Their home and safety depend on their finding him soon, as their absolute belief is he would never willingly abandon them. April believes he is either dead or seriously wounded.
Who is the strange woman that shows up after ten years claiming to be April’s mother? Then there is Reggie Dupree who claims to be her father!
No one is who they claim to be. What other secrets lay hidden in and beneath the Winterborne Mansion? No one is to be trusted, for Gabriel’s billions are a magnet for every con artist.
What connection, if any, does April have to the Winterbornes? Does the key worn for years around her neck hold the answer? What about the woman who claims to be her mother? What role does she play amidst all the mystery and mayhem?
Title: Winterborne Home for Mayhem and Mystery
Author: Ally Carter
Publisher: Hachette, $ 14.99
Publication Date: 23 February 2021
For ages: 10+
Type: Middle Grade Fiction
by Gregory Mone
Published by Amulet Books
Self-described, "novelist, science writer, and storyteller," Gregory Mone is the perfect person to deliver a contemporary telling of an ancient myth (or is it?). Set in the future, Mone creates two worlds, each with intriguing technology, and each experiencing the dangerous consequences of climate change and pollution brought on by humans.
Initially told in alternating, third-person points of view, we first meet Kaya, a fourteen year-old Atalantean. Fearless, largely unsupervised and equipped with elite equipment like gravity gear and a deepwater dive suit, Kaya is determined to discover for herself if the People of the Sun (humans living on land) are real, or the stuff of stories, as the leaders of Atlantis would like their citizens to believe. At the same time, twelve-year-old Lewis Merriweather Gates is just trying to find a way to spend a few days camping with his dad. Unfortunately, Lewis' dad, Dr. Richard Gates, is a scientist who has been abandoned by his community due to his unstoppable quest to prove the existence of the underwater city of Atlantis. Thinking he is just stowing away in his dad's hovercar, Lewis instead finds himself aboard a submarine built by Hanna, a fourteen-year-old college graduate up for the engineering challenge (and looking to rebel against her parents) and piloted by his father as it is swept into the ocean by one of the increasingly frequent tidal waves plaguing the Earth. Kaya and Lewis' worlds collide in a place that puts everyone in danger.
Mone's fast paced story stands out for his seamless incorporation of the many consequences of climate change and the drastic rate at which human are polluting the oceans of the world, particularly with plastic. In back matter titled, "The Science of the Accidental Invasion," Mone expands on this, giving readers facts and numbers, as well as meaningful encouragement from himself, scientists and environmental activists that, "Individual efforts matter," and kids really can make a difference. With the legend of Atlantis, Mone has chosen the perfect way to get young readers thinking, and hopefully acting. In Mone's world, human pollution directly impacts other humans, even if they live in a secret city miles below the surface of the ocean. And, rather than suffer in silence, the Atlanteans retaliate in a big (tidal) way.
Add to this secret government machinations in both worlds and the suspense of Atlantis: The Accidental Invasion will have readers racing ahead to and ending that promises more to come. . .
Written by Gregory Mone
Published by Candlewick Press