Willodeen by Katherine Applegate

5 stars Children’s Fantasy

I enjoyed this fantasy world with Willodeen.  Not under the best of circumstances, I liked how Willodeen discovered a problem and was persistent as she worked to solve it. A strong, determined character, she was compassionate to others and I felt that although she alone, she knew she wasn’t lonely. 

After a fire claimed the lives of her parents and a sibling, Willodeen lives with 2 older women who were healers. Willodeen is a quiet girl who prefers to spend her time in the great outdoors; observing nature and taking notes.  Willodeen likes to search for Screechers.  Although, they’re not the adorable hummingbears (small bear with wings) that the villagers all loved, to Willodeen, they were her favorite. Her father had taught her to love all things including unlovable things which to some individuals included the Screechers.  Yes, these Screechers produced a loud screech but they also were grumpy, smelly creatures that were definitely unwelcomed by the villagers. 

The villagers are aware of Willodeen’s passion for the Screechers and I couldn’t believe how cruel and immature some of them were towards her.  She was an 11-year-old girl for cripes sake!  I was glad when Connor was introduced to Willodeen. Connor and Willodeen are both reserved and smart individuals and they both also needed a friend.  I enjoyed reading how their friendship evolved. 

As the Autumn Faire date approaches, the village starts to plan the annual celebration.  This year though, it isn’t looking good financially for the town.  As the village’s huge moneymaker, the hummingbears haven’t made their annual return yet.  They know, if they don’t return, neither will the tourists.  The villagers need this revenue to survive.  What can they do to get them back?  Why have they suddenly stopped coming?  Where are they?  Lots of questions are hanging in the air and there seems to be only one person who has all the answers.  One person with a notebook full of notes.  Another great read by Katherine Applegate.  5 stars

The Bat Book by Charlotte Milner

5 stars Nonfiction

I’m not bat savvy so I needed this book.  I thought I knew a few things about them and I knew I had some “deceptions” about them but now, I feel knowledgeable.  In our neighborhood at night, you can see a few bats soaring in the sky come dusk.  I’m grateful that they’re eating the insects yet, I’m also thinking how dirty those little guys are and how I don’t want them to get tangled up in my hair.  At least now, after reading this book, I feel educated and grateful that they picked our air space to do their hunting.

I have to share this eye-opening moment for me first.  I never realized that bats pollinate. Bees, yes but bats?  It makes sense but I never really thought about it until I read about it in the book.  A few pages were focused on this topic and I guess looking back over the years, pollination was always about bees and birds. 

I enjoyed this book immensely as I do with most DK books.  The paper is the thick matte finish which compliments the illustrations/text.  I think the paper provides a richness to the book and will hold up better over time.  The illustrations are fantastic, with their convincing drawings that pull your eyes in to pagefuls of helpful information.  I liked the contrasting text colors and the use of graphs, text boxes, and the how everything is labeled and arranged. 

I found plenty of information inside this book which was presented in an easy-to-read format.   From different types of bats and their body types, to why they are so important, to myths about them, the author gives us plenty to think about.  A great book! 5 stars    

Oh No, George! By Chris Haughton

4.5 stars Children’s

I think everyone, children and adults, can relate to George. He has the best intentions but sometimes, he just can’t resist going against them. This was a funny story and George’s expressions and eyes captured my attention on each page and just knowing some background information about dogs made the story more entertaining.

George lives with Harry and George told Harry he would be very good as Harry is headed out the door. Left alone, Harry hopes he’ll be good but eyeing that big cake sitting on the kitchen counter is just too much for George. Oh, George thinks about what he told Harry but he knows how he feels about cake and “What will George do?” Yep! I hope Harry didn’t have special plans for that cake. As I walked along with George in the house, I heard about all the other things that George loved in the house (all the other temptations that were lingering in the house for him) and how George actually managed being home by himself.

I loved the excitement on George’s face when Harry returns! You could feel the love and enthusiasm. As Harry made his way around the house with George right beside him, the look on both of their faces, priceless. The rest of the story is cute and George tries so hard as he loves Harry so much. A cute story with bright simple illustrations. 4.5 stars

Baby Shark by Stevie Lewis

3 stars Children’s

I was very excited to find this book at the library but it was short-lived when I saw the reaction of my 2-year old grandson. My grandson loves Baby Shark, I mean he LOVES Baby Shark! He can sing the song, he has multiple sets of the sharks, he has some of their clothing, and of course, he has us all singing, dancing, and acting out the song.

When he saw this book, he was totally confused because, “this is not Baby Shark,” he told me as Baby Shark is yellow and in this book Baby Shark is blue. They missed the mark on this one for him. They got the colors all wrong for him and well, the book was a no for him. I had to chuckle as I tried to read/sing the book to him but he was not buying it. “This is not right,” was all I heard as I tried to read him the rest of the book and he’s not interested in this book at all. This was a huge disappointment for me at first but it’s okay as he loves so many other books. The text in the book pretty much follows the song except for the last refrain, which is different, “Bye-bye, sharks! doo doo doo doo doo doo!” I did like the illustrations (except for the colors of the sharks – ha), as they were bold, colorful, and simple for younger children. You should checkout the Hungry Sharks page, as they do look like they’re hungry but the children aren’t reacting to them, they don’t look scared/afraid.

The Bee Book by Charlotte Miler

5 stars Children’s Nonfiction

Let’s talk about bees.  What do you really know about bees and what do you think you know about bees?  I think that most people know that bees make honey and that there’s a queen bee, a drone bee and worker bees in a hive.  Did you know that there’s hundreds of drone bees in a hive and that they only live a few weeks?  Did you know that the queen bee typically lives 5 years and that she’s the mother to most of the bees in the hive? I thought the worker bees were busy, but the queen bee, she lays about 2,000 eggs a day!  Welcome to just one page inside this fantastic book by Charlotte Milner.  With the bee population dwindling, reading about these fascinating creatures made me realize just how important they really are. 

With bright colorful illustrations this book is full and I mean, full of information!!  Upon opening the book, there is a Table of Content which consists of a list of comments or questions pertaining to bees with a corresponding page number.  Thumbing through the book, I love just looking at all the different illustrations on the pages and reading the text that accompanies them.  Some of these are just fast-facts about bees and some provided more detailed reading but they’re not long reports on bees that slow me down or overwhelm me.  At the back of the book, there’s a great index too.  Did I mention how wonderful the illustrations are and how bright and colorful the pages are?

I can learn about pollination, why pollination is important, what a honeybee is, where honey comes from, and tons of information on the honeybee’s hives.  I can learn about the different types of bees that are needed inside a hive, why the bee population is dying and what I can do to help the bees survive.  I can also read about bee swarms which sound like a horrible thing but according to the brief summary, they usually aren’t.

This is a wonderful book.  It’s a book worth keeping and definitely, one worth sharing.  I’m sure that everyone will learn something from this book unless of course, you’ve been studying bees for years.  So, where does a honeybee store the nectar that it collects before he goes back to the nest?  How many eyes does the honeybee have?  Why does he have so many?   Can the female honeybee sting you?  Better get reading to find these answers.

Ship in a Bottle by Andrew Prahin

5 stars Children’s

Living together, cat and mouse had some issues.  Mouse had some things that she liked to do yet she never could do them alone.  Cat, on the other hand, had only one thing on his mind, he wanted to eat mouse! This was hilarious in the book, as I loved how the author made this contrast stand out.  Cat was constantly watching and spying on Mouse, making Mouse feel uncomfortable and scared.  Searching for a better life, Mouse set sail in her ship in a bottle. 

In the beginning, this new life was fantastic for Mouse. The river was quiet and tranquil, and Cat was not there watching her every move.  Then, they dropped out the sky!  Seagulls!  Her quiet ride down the river was gone and Mouse’s hunt for a new home is underway. 

I thought this was a cute book as Mouse goes on quite an adventure for the perfect home.  The illustrations are fantastic and you will love Mouse by the end of the book as she finds her perfect home and she adjusts to her new friends.  “And whenever the sun’s rays warmed the ground, Mouse would find a tiny little spot of her own and stretch out, without a care in the world.”  Make sure you check out the last illustration in the book, it was adorable.  A really fun read.      

The Whale in My Swimming Pool by Joyce Wan

5 stars Children’s

I had to laugh when I saw this book in the library, for what do you do when you have a whale in your swimming pool? For this little boy, he does about everything he can to get the whale out but eventually, he makes the best of the situation. Definitely a book to read in the summer as it will bring smiles to those who have the pleasure to hear it.

“Whoa…a whale?!” What a reaction to have as you arrive at your backyard pool ready to cool off. Right in front of this little boy is a humongous blue whale sitting on his little polka-dotted pool. There are also a few birds perched on the whale’s tail and a small squirrel who is behind the whale, staring up at him with a look of amazement on his face. With his mother in the backyard with him, he tries to tell his mother about the whale but his mother, deeply involved inside her book on her lawn chair, he doesn’t get the respond he was expecting. She mentioned sunscreen and well, the little boy is now taking matters into his own hands.

I laughed at all the different methods he used to get the whale out of his pool. He’s very creative. Finally, when he thinks he’s had enough and the whale can just have his pool, he comes up with a solution that both of them can be winners. But wait, is his day really over? The last page will put a huge smile on your face. Fantastic book – I’m glad I found this at the library!!

Rookie Toddler Board Books

5 stars Toddler Board Book

This is a cute board book that will fit perfectly into the hands of little toddlers. There is a lot to love about this book starting with the little half-circle tabs on the side of the book, to help little fingers turn each of the pages. The animals featured inside the book, are realisitcally portrayed. They’re not cartoon pictures or outline drawing of the animals but they include quite a bit of detail.

If the child is just learning their animals sounds or if they are experts, this is a great book for them to read. It’s a funny book to read as the main animal on each 2-page spread makes a sound, they typically should not be making. The correctt animal, whose sound was just emitted, tells the main animal that they do not make that sound. I enjoyed the repeated structure of the book with only the sound and the animals name being changed throughout the book. I like a toddler’s book that isn’t cluttered and this one fits that criteria. The illustrations are bright, simple, and the use of text font sizes was used to get their point across. I really like this series of books as they have a great variety and their books are interesting and engaging- thanks Rookie Toddler. There’s also a bee that’s flying around on each two-page spread that the reader is supposed to find.

Page Example:
On left side of page, a cow – “Quack, quack, QUACK!
I quack all day.
Quack, quack, quack.
Is that what cows say? “
On the right hand corner two ducks – “No! Cows say Moo.”

5 star Children’s board book

I thought this was another cute book by Rookie Toddler.  They will be reading about how their smile compares to a crocodile and I believe that both, boys and girls will enjoy this book.

The half-circle edges along the side, really helps little toddlers turn the thick pages of this board book.  On each 2-page spread, a toddler is showcased on one side and on the other, a crocodile.  There is a lot of diversity in the toddlers featured.  I liked the simplicity of the book, the large font size, the illustrations (all but one), and the information presented.   As the author closes out the book, there is no right or wrong answer, the author allows the reader to figure things out on their own which is a great bonus.

The book features clear, realistic illustrations which is fantastic!  Using a large black font, this book is perfect for little ones learning to read and to read to children interested in animals and themselves.  As you’re comparing a child’s smile to a crocodile, you’re considering some interesting concepts.  Ideas like brushing their teeth, baby teeth, chewing, and how their mouths look when you’re not using them. It’s a fun, entertaining book that toddlers and beginning readers will enjoy.

Example:

“You brush your teeth to keep them clean.” (Picture of a toddler brushing his teeth)

“A crocodile never brushes its teeth!” (Picture of a crocodile’s mouth- I think this was a gross picture- yuck!)

3.5 Toddler Board Book

 

Again, I like these half-stars on the side of the book, for little toddlers to use to help turn the pages of their board books.   The illustrations inside are colorful, realistic-looking and they will capture the attention of young readers.   There is variety inside this book from eggs, to a pistachio, a seashell, an apple, and also an avocado. 

On each 2-page spread, a young child is holding one of the objects in their hands and on the other page, you see the same object, but now you see what’s inside or what could be inside that object.  I thought this book was a bit too simple and I thought that the author should have include different items than the ones that they had included.  I feel that an apple and an egg are too common and should have been left out which would have left room for something more interesting.    Cute book though from Rookie Toddler.

The Only (Endling #3) by Katherine Applegate

5 stars Middle School

Is this really the end? This is the third book in this series, supposedly the last book, yet I feel that the journey is far from over for some of the species in this book.  It has been quite an adventure and as I read this book, the struggle became more intense and determined than it had ever been.  Assigned to a mission, they knew that success was the only answer, and drawing from all sources, they gave it all they had.

I feel Byx and Tobble have come a long way from when I first met them in The Last and now, they’re responsible for gathering recruitments for the Army of Peace. The Army hopes that a peaceful agreement can be obtained amongst all the world’s species before the two most powerful groups come head-to-head and engage in war.  I thought this was a lot of responsibility for these two friends to take on, considering their lack of experience and all the risk that was assigned to this task.  They each had a skill but would that keep them alive?

I enjoyed this series and I would like to reread it now, that all the books have been written. I did cry reading this last book (it wasn’t when I closed the last page), it was when the two friends were with one another and their friends were close by, and that is all I am saying about that moment.  This was a wonderful journey, created with great imagination and unique characters.  I enjoyed the friendships that were created and how they developed.  The characters encouraged one another and they believed in teamwork.  I was surprised though, in this final book, at the difficult vocabulary used and the way that the author described the last scene.  I thought the author used some challenging words in this book which, if you’re able to decipher words, is fine. Sometimes though, it was hard to decipher a few of those words and I had to use the dictionary.  This is not a bad thing, it’s just something that caught me off guard.  The final scene though, I thought it might contain too many details for some students.  The confrontation that occurs gives some descripted details which to some students might be okay while to others, they would be fine with, “his xxxxx would never be the same.”  A great series that I highly recommend.

“I think being brave means being afraid and still doing what you must do.”

Links to trailers for Book 1 and Book 2

BOOK 1
BOOK 2

If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall

5 stars Children’s Book

This book is beautiful!  This book says it all.  If you were to buy one book to have in your library, this should be the one!  It’s almost brought tears to my eyes as the author explains how we are all unite on this one big planet. 

I really enjoyed the illustrations inside this book, from how much detail was included, to the color choice, to how much there was to look at, these illustrations were wonderfully done.  I was impressed with how the author used an assortment of each topic to get her point across.  When she addressed how individuals traveled:  she included a rowboat, tugboat, skateboard, taxi, tractor, airplane, hot air balloon, camper, police car, ambulance, race car, wheelchair, pickup, bus, etc.  The two pages were full.  The author covers a variety of subjects in this book including families, weather, food, what people do, feelings, etc.   There was this feeling of love and community that came over me as I read this book, that we all are together on this planet, breathing and hopefully working together. 

This is an oversized book (11.25 x9 approx.) with 74 pages.  This is not one book that will be read once and put away as the illustrations again, are interesting and many of them have lots of look at.  I think this one is a keeper.  I highly recommend this one and make sure you read the last page of the book as the author talks about how she arrived at writing this book. 

” There are lots of things we don’t know.  We don’t know where we were before we were born or where we go when we die.  But right this minute, we are here together on this beautiful planet.”

“We humans define ourselves be where we are born, where we live, what we believe, by the clothes we wear, and the languages we speak.  But there is no “typical” person.  We are all different.”