Monday, October 31, 2016


A review by Theresa: 

The whole town including Charlie and his friends had gathered together to celebrate the New Year and also to watch what was supposed to be an extra spectacular night viewing of the northern lights. Rodman Philbrick’s THE BIG DARK begins with the town standing out on the baseball field under a sky that is so bright that “shadows could be seen on the snow,” enjoying the intense colors and flashes of the light show. Suddenly there the sky was filled with an enormous burst of light followed by intense darkness. 

All the electric power was knocked out, no cars, no phones, no lights, no TVs or radios—nothing not even batteries or generators. Things get even worse when the area is hit by a major blizzard, an attempted take-over of the town by hate-mongers and arsonists and a medical emergency involving Charlie’s mother.  It’s up to the kids and the town’s lone volunteer policeman to save the day if they can in this very suspenseful disaster-survival story. 

The author includes some follow-up leads for the curious who want to know more about geomagnetic events.

For grades 5-8

Thursday, October 27, 2016


Have you've been looking for the perfect alphabet story to read to a child right before nap or bedtime? Well here it is! Introducing... ABZzz...A Bedtime Alphabet.

As expected, this story starts with the letter A and ends with the letter Z. but in between the pages you'll see more than just the rest of the alphabet.  The book is loaded with questions for the reader and young child to consider.  It's absolutely fun, thought-provoking, and a great way to share some memories before heading off to dreamland.

Isabel Minhos Martins and Yara Kono's delightful story and illustrations make this an ABC favorite, along with Bill Martin Jr. and Lois Ehlert's Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  

For PreK- 2nd grade.

Monday, October 24, 2016


There’s nothing worse than having someone spoil the ending to the book you’re reading. I mean, unless you’re the type that’s into that sort of thing. Spoiler alert: this reviewer is.

As it happens, the young hero of Minh LĂȘ’s picture book Let Me Finish!, illustrated by Isabel Roxas, most emphatically is not. In fact, there’s nothing he’d like more than to be left in peace to finish reading his books. This proves surprisingly difficult when every animal in the vicinity is clamoring to share very specific thoughts on his reading material.

When a long-awaited, scarlet book arrives in the mail, the exasperated boy is determined to make it to the end on his own. He’ll traverse forests, oceans, and mountains, all the while stalked by bright-eyed, garrulous, book-ruining animals. I won’t ruin the surprise ending, but spoiler alert: it’s a good one.

Ages 6+

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Ah-Choo!  A big brother wants a pet but his little sister is allergic to animals so off they go to find one that won't make her sneeze.  A silly romp through the zoo and the alphabet is what they do until they find an unusual animal from Mrs. Grey's Pet store that has no hair, feathers or fur.  Written by Lana Wayne Koehler Gloria Adams and illustrated by Ken Min.

A Hungry Lion or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins surprises us all with lion's choices. A fun and unexpected choice for everyone.  

The Sloth Slept On and on and on until he finds himself in an unfamiliar place having slept through everything. Frann Preston-Gannon's story of a "lost" sloth who through many helpful hands makes it back "home", or is it home? 

For ages 4 and up. 


Monday, October 17, 2016


A review by Theresa:

In Elizabeth’ Atkinson’s THE ISLAND OF BEYOND the reader learns immediately how big a disappointment  11-year old Martin is to his father.  So much so that Dad has decided to send Martin off for a month of his summer vacation to visit his, never met before,  great-aunt Lenore who lives on a tiny island in the middle of a remote lake in Maine to do some “boy stuff” and toughen him up.  To say that Martin hates everything about the island and the creepy house would be an understatement. There is no cell reception, no video games and no food he likes. Lacking self- confidence Martin is afraid of everything he encounters, the creaks the house makes, the rustling of the bushes, his great-aunt and most of all the lake. Eventually he meets Solo, a wild child who appears to do as he pleases with no parental supervision. Warned by the aunt’s caregiver to stay away from this boy, Martin admires his new friend’s abilities and is drawn to him even though there are trust issues. Solo does become his guide though and encourages him to try new things which Martin does hesitantly.  

For Martin, this becomes a summer of meeting challenges and self-discovery. Things on the island are not always as they seem, neither is the reason for his being sent to the island. This title is part adventure, a little mystery and a coming of age story all in one. Gary Paulsen’s fans will find much to like here. 

For grades 5-8

Thursday, October 13, 2016


The Silver Spoon for Children: Favorite Italian Recipes by Phaidon is presented in the style of the Moosewood Cookbook series, with simple text and illustrated cooking techniques easy enough for the beginning cook to follow.   There are great classic recipes like potato gnocchi, leg of lamb, and stew, just to name a few.  It's a beautiful book with photos of each finished dish so you can see what the dish will or should look like at the end of the cooking process.  It's a slim, large formatted book which will lay flat so that it is easy to read from as you cook, just put plastic over it so the next person can enjoy it stain free.   

For ages 10 and up. 

Monday, October 10, 2016


Henry laughs when he's lifted into the air by his Papa.  He enjoys playing the piano with his Grandma, and he plays fun games with his siblings.  At the end of the day, Henry gets to cuddle up with his Mama and listen to the best stories ever! With all this adventure, it's no wonder why Henry Wants More! He's truly loved by his family.  

Linda Ashman's delightful story about a young child who enjoys a variety of activities, especially with the people he loves the most. Brooke Boynton Hughes adds a sweet touch of color to this very loving family. 

Pre-K- 2nd

Thursday, October 06, 2016


Summer vacation may be drawing to a close, but here in sunny Southern California the heat rages on. It’s the perfect time to head to the pool or to share a lovely pool story with your little one.

Anna McQuinn, author of the lovable Lola series, adds a second picture book to her newest series, illustrated by Ruth Hearson, about Lola’s baby brother, Leo. In Leo Can Swim Leo and Daddy are taking baby swim lessons. The story follows the pair each step of the way as they ready themselves for the pool, from changing into a swim diaper and trunks to taking a well-deserved post-swim nap, with lots of splashy fun along the way.

There are plenty of familiar faces among the diverse group of babies and caregivers returning from Leo’s first outing, Leo Loves Baby Time. As a fun side note, to prepare for swim class Leo and Daddy read what appears to be Eric Carle’s undersea classic, Mister Seahorse; Leo later snuggles and snoozes with his own little board book version. Reading about everyday experiences helps children develop text-to-self connection. Share Leo Can Swim with your child to prepare her for her own pool playtime.

For ages 0 to preschool.

Monday, October 03, 2016


What do a princess, a scoundrel, and a farm boy have in common? There's at least one thing: a desire for adventure.  Unfortunately, deep within the Galaxy an evil Empire is gaining control over different star systems and killing off the galaxy's great peace keepers- the Jedi Knights.  

What roles will the princess, scoundrel, and farm boy play in this struggle?  Will they find ways to get along after their paths merge? Andrea Brackenberg's junior novelization of Star Wars: A New Hope is a welcome addition to the sci-fi genre.  She provides such interesting insight to each of the key characters' thoughts as they move through key scenes in the story.  Both humorous and memorable, this is best for 4th grade and up, or for budding Star Wars fans.  

For 4th grade and up.