Dr. Fauci: How a Boy from Brooklyn Became America’s Doctor by Kate Messner

3.5 stars Children’s Nonfiction

The illustrations inside this book are what makes this book for me. I like everything about them from the color selection, to the details included in them, to how simple the designs really are.  I also liked how the book addressed Covid-19. When I think of Anthony Fauci, I think of Covid-19, for he was the one who talked to me on the news about this pandemic and he seemed to know what was really happening. Many pages of this book addressed Anthony’s part in the Covid-19 crisis.

I thought this book was okay.  I was hoping it would have a lot more personal or entertaining information about Anthony than it did.  I thought the book contained a majority of general information about him.  Information that seemed boring or trivial.  I did find a few pieces of information that I thought, gave me an inside look at who Anthony really was. 

The book mentions some of Anthony’s attributes that began when he was child which have helped him as an adult.  Anthony loved playing basketball but he was short individual.  Determined to play, Anthony found that his speed and his ability to communicate would be his way to contribute to this game.  Anthony’s determination was also a huge asset.  Having these qualities also helped Anthony survive in the tough neighborhood that he lived in.

The book in general, gives general information and walks the reader through how Anthony found his way working on some of the toughest diseases in our nation.  It’s a book that shows children where it all began for Anthony and that anyone, can reach for the stars, if you keep reaching.

There is a lot of other pages full of added material, in the back of the book.  There are some pages dedicated to “How Do Vaccines Work?” Are Vaccines Safe?’  “Dr. Faucis’ Five Tips for Future Scientists.”  There’s also a timeline of some of Fauci’s milestones, a page of recommended reading, and a sources page.  A few pages of black-n-white photos of Anthony with a short author’s notes and acknowledgements, rounds out this book. 3.5 stars    

Princesses Are Not …….. by Kate Lum

4 stars Children’s

I’m reviewing three different books about three princesses. These are children’s books and you don’t need to read them in any specific order but they do feature the same princesses in all the books. I found the books funny, cute, and I liked how they each had a different lesson(s) attached to them.

Princesses Are Not Perfect

Let me introduce the three princesses that are featured in this book series: Princess Allie, Princess Mellie, and Princess Libby.  Princess Allie has blond hair and she likes to bake.  Princess Libby has red/pink hair and she likes to build things.  Princess Libby has purple hair and she likes to garden.   With their own special talents, they think of nothing else but what they’re good at. 

Let me introduce the three princesses that are featured in this book series: Princess Allie, Princess Mellie, and Princess Libby.  Princess Allie has blond hair and she likes to bake.  Princess Libby has red/pink hair and she likes to build things.  Princess Libby has purple hair and she likes to garden.   With their own special talents, they think of nothing else but what they’re good at. 

Allie is the happiest when she’s baking and her cakes are delicious.  Mellie can make anything grow and like Allie, when she’s gardening, this is her happy place.  Princess Libby can build anything you ask her to and she loves doing it. 

Some children are coming for the Summer Party tomorrow at the palace and the princesses are now making plans.  Suddenly, Mellie decides that she’s had enough gardening and she wants to try baking.  What?!?  Mellie explains that “princesses are good at everything,” so she wants to do something different now.   Allie doesn’t know what to think about Mellie taking over her what she loves to do plus…….what was she supposed to do now?   Mellie explains to the other princesses that Allie can now build things and Libby will now do the gardening.  Everyone will do something different and it all be great. 

Informing their housekeeper of their new roles, the princesses inform the housekeeper that they’re excited about their new responsibilities and they get their first list of jobs.  Boy, what a list!!  It’s time to get working for the summer party is tomorrow! 

The princesses definitely worked.  They tried but the end result, looked nothing like the 100 small baskets of berries, the 100 little chairs, or the 100 cupcakes with pink roses that they needed for the party.  You need to sit in chairs, right?  As they get ready for dinner, the princesses aren’t their cheerful selves and after eating, they drag themselves to bed. 

In the morning, the princesses awoke, excited for the party.   At lunchtime, the children arrive and everything was perfect.  What?! From the treats, to the chairs, to the little baskets of fruit.  It was as if magic had occurred overnight and transformed the items the princesses had originally created.   The magic of love.

This was a cute story.  I liked how the princesses tried to do something different, for they at least tried.  They also didn’t brag or criticize each other during the process.   The princesses did what needed to be done and they moved on.   The illustrations are funny and complete this book.   5 stars

Princesses Are Not Just Pretty

I laughed when I read this book as it reminded me of some elementary students.  Some elementary students always seem to want to compare things: which one writes better, who is faster, who can jump higher, who is taller, who colors better?  In this children’s story, we again have the three princesses, Princess Mellie, Princess Libby, and Princess Allie from the previous book.  Each of them feel that they’re the prettiest.  They each have different attributes to claim the title and to me, I guess it all depends on what you’re looking for in a princess, to give her that title but in this story, they’re going to have a beauty contest to decide the winner.

Four clever girls get to judge the princesses and zoom, off the princesses go to get ready!  They prep and they pamper themselves getting ready and when they’re finally ready, each of them sets off for the contest.  As they make their way, they each discover someone that’s dealing with a crisis that needs their immediate help.  Not wasting a minute, each of the princesses jumps in and assists.  Mud, smoke, water, the princesses tackle them all.  Each emergency is a success but the princesses do not fare so well.   Again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I say.  Arriving at the contest, the princesses take the stage.

In all, being pretty isn’t everything.   There are other qualities that should be admired and respected and the judges take that approach.  I enjoyed the last illustration as there are some of the individuals/animals that the princesses assisted in their cries for help with them on the stage.  I think that by showing this, it helps emphasize one of the books main ideas.    The illustrations in this book are super cute too.

5 stars Childrens

Princesses Are Not Quittes!

Once again, we’re in the huge silver palace with Princess Mellie, Princess Libby, and Princess Allie. I like that in this book, we actually get to see on the beginning pages, just how huge their palace is. I don’t think huge accurately describe it, I would use words like enormous or gigantic.

Eating their breakfast in the garden, one of the princesses mentions how boring being a princess really is. As a group of girls now moved past the princesses, the princesses notice that these girls were again having all the fun! They were out in the fresh air and they were again doing something interesting. It just wasn’t fair! Calling these girls over, the princesses tell the girls that they’re going to switch places with them. They immediately, exchange clothing.

When the housekeeper hears of this switch, she questions the princesses but they’re determined to keep their new roles. From now on, the princesses will be the servants and the servants will be princesses. How funny!! The princesses can’t wait to get to work but by lunch time, they’re already behind schedule and I’m exhausted even thinking of them doing everything on the list the housekeeper gave them. I liked how the princesses kept going even though they were exhausted and I loved the amount of work that was included on the list. The illustrations were cute and entertaining too. There were some good points in the book and I liked how they were presented.

This is a fun series and I like how there are ideas/lessons in each of the stories. I thought the ending of the book was excellent and I really enjoyed this book.

My Nana’s Garden by Dawn Casey

5 stars Childrens

With tears in my eyes, I write.  Reluctant to stay with her Nana, she soon realizes how special her Nana really is.  As the little girl spends time with her Nana in her garden, she begins to understand that the overgrown garden is actually an exceptional place.  A place where Nana lets things happen. Where the wildflowers grow for the insects and the critters can run freely, where the apple tree brings forth fruit for harvesting, and that old tree is called home to some animal friends.  The garden is also a special place where Nana and the little girl can spend some quality time together, enjoying each other’s company while appreciating the world around them.  It isn’t long before she starts to enjoy visiting her Nana and tending to the garden space alongside her.   

The book progresses quickly and Nana has moved into a wheelchair.  It is my assumption that this little girl is her granddaughter and she has also grown up quickly.  The daughter now accompanies her granddaughter on the visits to Nana’s.  The three of them now visit the garden together, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.

“In my nana’s garden,

I curl up and cry.

The sun doesn’t shine

in the winter sky.” 

The tone of the book changes after this quote and my mood does also for, I feel that life has changed for this family.  The garden is cold and bare all winter long as the granddaughter looks out the window remembering her Nana.  Come spring, the daughter and granddaughter get to work in Nana’s garden tending to it, just like Nana did. The garden springs to life and there is energy within the book again.  The daughter is changing too and as I flip the page, there are now 3 individuals surrounding the tree in Nana’s garden, “We think of Nana by the trees.”

What a sweet book.  I loved looking at the illustrations and seeing how they changed without any mention of it in the text. I felt the author did an excellent job addressing the relationship of the little girl and her Nana, Nana’s passing, and how they honored Nana by caring for her garden.  With a rhyming text, the words did not feel forced but were smooth and flowing.  This Nana truly enjoyed this book.  5 stars

I am the Storm by Jane Yolen

5 stars Children’s

Mother Nature throws at us some fierce storms, whether that be hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, or blizzards but as humans we are fierce too. Jane Yolan does an excellent job showing that although we have no control over Mother Nature, we can control how we react to what happens in our area.  Each of these situations are unpredictable, yet in this children’s book we find comfort and strength to weather any storm that should come our way.

The illustrations inside this book are just wonderful. From the purple-orange swirl of the tornado to the burning marshmallow, for each of these little details brings this book to life.  I enjoyed the diversity as each of the families as they dealt with their disaster.  Although their situations weren’t as devasting as we witness on the news, there was still work to be done and emotions that need to be addressed, after their event had passed.  Yolan text is soothing and instills with her readers that the disaster will eventually end and they too, will survive.  Things might look different outside for them but “It’s okay to be scared” for they are “strong and powerful” and each of them have characteristics of the storms within them.  In the back of the book, Yolan gives a brief description about each type of storm. 5 stars

“And when the storm passes,

as it always does,

I am the calm, too.”

The Invisible Alphabet by Joshua David Stein

3 stars Children’s

This book is very creative.  By itself, I don’t think the book is a hit but grouped with other books, I liked it.  I think by itself, it’s boring and I don’t think most young children will find it appealing yet if you group this book with other ABC books or other black/white books or other books with a theme, you’ll have something.  On the other hand, older teens might like the book and find it humorous.   

The author created this ABC’s children’s book with mainly black and white illustrations.  Adding just a bit of orange color to each illustration, the author gives each letter of the alphabet at least one page in this book.  The words selected for each letter are what sets this book apart from other ABC books, as his concepts are centered around “gone.”  Whether that be physically gone, permanently gone, or just the concept of being gone, something on the page is missing.  N is for Nothing and that blank page says it all.  S is for Secret and by the look on the children’s faces on this page, that secret was a good one.     

While flipping through this book, I thought of a great activity to use with this book.  How about having your students/child create their own ABC book, using the opposites of this book. This would be a fun, entertaining challenging for you also as there are plenty of different words you could use for each letter in this book.  Example: O if for Out in this book. For your own book, you could use P is for Plenty, E is for Enough, T is for Too much, etc.  I think this would be an interesting activity for an extension on this book. 3 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    

What! Cried Granny an Almost Bedtime Story by Kate Lum

5 + stars Children’s

This book is hilarious!  Granny is amazing and Patrick innocence is charming.   I didn’t like the illustrations when I first read the book but after looking at them, they fit the book.  The illustrations are quirky and different.  It most definitely should be read at bedtime and then, read it anytime!

Patrick is spending the night at his Granny’s house for the very first time.  It’s getting dark so Patrick is asked to get ready for bed.   But there is a problem.  Remember, this is Patrick’s first time staying over with his Granny, so he doesn’t have a bed.  Big problem?  Nope!  Granny runs out the door, chops down one of the tall trees growing in the yard, takes it to her workroom and creates Patrick a bed with her tools.  Wowza!  She did all that while carrying her purse on her arm.  Granny now has blue paint splattered on her apron from painting the bed but with the red mattress on it, Patrick is ready! 

But wait, Granny mentions a pillow and Patrick doesn’t have one.  WHAT?   Yep, Granny to the rescue!  Granny does have some chickens, some cloth, thread and a needle.  A little later, Patrick has a pillow!    Do you see how this book is set up?  It’s so comical.  Granny is running around getting things ready so Patrick can go to sleep and Patrick, well he’s playing with a variety of toys and watching TV., waiting for Granny. Now, that Patrick has a pillow, Granny tells Patrick to climb into his bed (has that now), lay his head on his pillow (got that now), pull the blanket up (WHAT, no blanket yet), AND ……. (off we go again)

This is a hoot!  Granny is amazing, she can do almost anything!  Patrick is so lucky to have her.  I’m going to have to find a copy of this book.  It’s a keeper. 

To listen to the story:

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.