Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner

3.5 stars Children’s

I’m on the fence on this one.  This is a sweet, slow story which might not capture the attention of some children (like my young grandchildren) but I liked that it actually shows how animals live in winter.  This might be a good picture book for older readers who are looking for information on animals or a good bedtime story but my little readers didn’t care for it when I read it to them.

The story is told from the point of view of a young boy who is snow-skiing with his father out on the fresh-fallen snow.  Quietly they are alone, using hand-poles and navigating around trees and up and down hillsides throughout the story.  The story begins when the boy notices a squirrel scamper by and then, it vanishes.  The boy asks his father, “Where did it go?”  The story takes off as the father explains all the different wildlife that is hiding under and around the snowy area.

There are lots of animals included in this story: from the owls on the branches which the boy can see, to the hidden tiny shrews and voles in the chilly tunnels under his feet, and the fat bullfrogs sleeping under the snow, the duo continues on their journey through the snow.  They’re thinking about all the creatures that are around them in this white landscape.  You’ll need to stop and look at the illustrations in this book as many of the pages, the illustrator has layered the landscape so the reader can see the chipmunk under the snow with his nuts and leaves, the queen bee safely sleeping under the roots of an tree, and the mice cuddling up together to stay warm (just a few of the examples).  While not a bright and colorful book, the book hues take on the warmth of the story and the quietness of the snowy day.  3.5 stars

Paradise Sands by Levi Pinfold

5+ stars Children’s

Cover Love!  I fell in love with the cover of this book while browsing the new picture books at my library.  As I thumbed through the book, I knew I had to read it as the illustrations were just spectacular!  I flipped to the back of the book, to read the author’s bio and then, I headed to my library’s website and placed all of the author’s books that they had on hold.  Levi’s debut picture book Django was the Winner of the Book Trust Best New Illustrator Award and her other book, Black Dog also won a different award.  I think Paradise Sands should also win an award as the illustrations are magnificent!  Great artist detail and I loved how the author combined real world with fantasy to create such stunning artwork.  Ok, on with the book.

The story is labeled, “A Story of Enchantment” and it definitely is.  A girl is taking a car trip with her three brothers. From the faces on the children and the tone of the book, this is a serious trip.  The siblings are visiting their mother.  Sister wants to take their mother flowers so Bill pulls the car over and they all get out. 

In the desert, this is a destination that they all recall, there’s white roses in Teller’s Hollow and they’ll take them.  I liked how the text and illustration came together to show the family’s relationship.  On foot, the four siblings climb the sandhills and rocky hills to gather flowers on this deserted rocky ledge.  They spot a building in the distant.  Sister wants to continue on their journey, they need to go see their mother while the brothers want to quench their thirst from the building.  The brother’s thirst wins and they travel toward the building. Sister refuses to get a drink from the fountain but she watches as they do.  They can’t leave now, the brothers feel the building calling them to enter, a feeling the boys can’t deny.  Sister is on edge, memories from her mother flood her head and she knows they should be leaving.  Her brothers seem to have forgotten about their original plans as they are now charmed by the paradise that this building is providing them.     

It seems a bit odd why Sister is not behaving like her siblings in the building and why do mother’s comments pop into her head.  Is there something more sinister happening here?  When Sister is approached by the Teller, he tries to understand why she’s not accepting this “wonderful, safe place” that he’s offering them. 

She tries to explain yet the Teller wants to strike up a deal with her.  As she accepts this deal, I wonder what the Teller was capable of doing?  Was Sister strong enough for this deal?  Will they see their mother, wherever she was?

The illustrations inside this book were phenomenal!  The way she captures the characters on the page was just remarkable and bringing in the element of fantasy, I was whisked away to where anything was possible.  The story comes full circle and I had to start the book over again to experience the joy all over again.  What an experience!  I need to share this book with everyone I know!  So yes, definitely pick this book up, I highly recommend it.  Pick it up for yourself and then, share it with everyone that you know.  I can’t wait to read the author’s other books! 5+ stars

The Berenstain Bears Meet the Easter Bunny by Mike Berenstain

2 stars Children’s Level 1 Reader

I was looking forward to reading this book with my grandsons but I think we all felt disappointed in the story.   I was confused with the whole story and I thought the Berenstain Bears had better storylines than this.  My grandson’s (ages 3 and 3.5) read it with me a few times and boy, they had some questions.  They wanted to know why the Easter Bunny didn’t come the first time, where the bunnies came from when the Easter Bunny needed help, and where the bunnies were taking the candy at the end of the story.   From reading the story and the looking at the illustrations, I had no idea so we just came up with some answers together.   

The story is about Easter, a holiday that the Berenstain Family loves.   It’s Easter morning and the family can’t find any Easter eggs.   They hunt around the house and no one can find any traces that the Easter Bunny has been there.  That’s ok!  Papa Bear will dress up like the Easter Bunny and hide the eggs.  If only, it was that easy.

Papa Bear tries but he can’t take the place of the Easter Bunny so the family takes off to search for the actual Easter Bunny.   They locate his house and each of the children tell him that they need him, in their own way.   Why he didn’t come earlier, I have no idea.  He must act quickly if he’s going to try to save this Easter.

My older children grew up reading the Berenstain Bears so I was excited to start my grandchildren on them but this book fell short on my expectations.  I remember reading stories to my own children and they had life lessons or principles in them.  I still have all their original books.  I felt this book was self-centered.  I love Easter, I love candy and eggs.  I didn’t get any so someone get some for me.  Daddy tried but he didn’t do a good enough job so I’m still not happy.  Find the Easter Bunny and tell him I need him to get me some candy and eggs.  He worked hard.  I got my candy and eggs and now, I am happy.   That’s just my opinion but what about individuals who didn’t get any Easter candy?  Why didn’t the Easter Bunny come earlier?  Did he oversleep?  Could they have brought something for the Easter Bunny – a carrot, a scooter so he can make faster deliveries?  Not a good fit for me  2 stars

Peppa’s New Friend adapted by Michael Petranek

4 stars Children’s Level 1 Reader

After reading this title with my grandson’s,  I realize that it’s just like the video.  It’s a great, little story staring Peppa and her friends.

While Peppa and her friends are at school, they get a visitor.  Everyone is excited to meet this new individual.  If they enjoy their day at school, they will be joining Peppa and her friends every day.  Mandy Mouse fits right in with everyone at school and her day is going great.  Having to use a wheelchair,  Mandy Mouse is used to her own independence but sometimes, it’s nice to have a friend along for the ride.  Will Mandy Mouse decide she wants to be a part of Madame Gazelle’s classroom? 

The illustrations are bright and bold which look great on the glossy pages.  The black simple text font is easy to read and reads like a Level 1 book.   Great book. 4 stars

A Starlight Trip To the Library by Andrew Katz

5 stars Children’s Picture Book

Such a sweet story.  A young girl, a forest of friends, and a trip to the library, what more do you need?  The illustrations are colorful and bright and they just pop, right off the page.  This would make an excellent bedtime story. 

As Julia settles into the forest with her friends, they’re getting cozy for the night awaiting the “night’s most eagerly awaited event.”   They love how Julia reads to them; she does such an excellent job.  Freida, the skunk enjoys how she shows them the pictures, Abigail, the   loves how softly she reads the ending and her friend Scotty Squirrel thinks she does an excellent job with all the different voices inside the books the chooses for them.  Her friends eagerly wait for Julia to take tonight’s book out of her bag.  But wait……there is no book inside the bag.  Disappointment settles in as they realize that Julia left the book at home. 

Bertrand, just so happens, to be floating down the river and is headed to the library. Julia and her friends accept Bertrand offer and join him on his journey, hoping to find a bedtime story for tonight.  It’s quite an adventure for these friends as they make their way on the water until they finally arrive at the “library rising majestically in the moonlight.”   What a beautiful sight.   Box upon box, Julia and her friends search, looking for the perfect bedtime story.  Bertrand is busy searching through the stacks also looking for his own stack of page-turners.  Will they find what they are looking for before the night is over?

I adore the relationship that Julia has with her forest friends.  They are so caring and considerate to one each other. They had such a great adventure.  What a fun book  5 stars.   


I’ve been picking up these Wonderbook’s from our library lately and I thought I’d give a shout-out to them.

These are Wonderbook’s that our library has been purchasing for the younger readers in our area. What is a Wonderbook? To me, a Wonderbook is a great resource for kids and adults alike. These books read to a child while at the same time, they allow the child to follow along with the printed text in the book. I know…….some of you might be thinking, I’ve seen books like these before, picture books or other character driven books where you’re supposed to push the colored-buttons and they’ll tell you to turn the page. Well, what I think sets these books apart is the variety and diversity that you’ll discover with these.

Not only do they cover easy picture books but you’ll find some nonfiction children books, Level books, children’s chapter books, and books for children in different languages. books. Pretty amazing, huh? Yeah, I thought so too.

These books come with easy-to-use instructions right inside the front cover and you can stop them whenever you need to and they pick right back up, where you left off. Our library charges them up when they get returned to the library to make sure they’re charged up for the next patron so we don’t have to worry about the battery dying (they can be charged with a micro-USB too). You can adjust the volume, jump forward and backward in the book using buttons also. There is a read-along mode and there is learning mode with each Wonderbook. In the read-along mode, they instruct you on how to proceed with the Wonderbook – where to start and when and what the sound will be like, when you are to turn the page. In the learning mode, they ask questions about the book: what character did you identify with the most? If you could ask the author a question, what would it be? What’s the books main idea? etc.  

These books are expensive to purchase, I’ve checked into them so I’m glad my library has this option available and I’m so excited that they brought them to my attention. 

My three-year grandson’s like to take these books and sit on our comfy furniture and listen to them on their own. I think they’re finding their independence. I like watching them as they listen as they’re scanning the pages with their eyes. It’s like their eyes are trying to follow the text and the look at the picture at the same time. The voice is slow and clear so they’re able to understand which is great. This is a good option for them and I’m glad that they’re excited to read them. They do cut into my reading time with me, as they want to do them on their own after I read through them once with them but I have plenty of other books to read with them. I find the pace rather slow but the kids like it and that’s what matters. 

 I just checked out a Wonderbook for me to listen to: Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly which is a middle school read.  This is the second book in the series and I’ve been wanting to read it.   I read a lot of middle school books and I think this will be interesting.   So, what do you think?  Have you heard of a Wonderbook? 

Here are a few links if you want further information: https://playaway.com/wonderbook/ https://www.facebook.com/playawayproducts

I Just Want To Be Super by Andrew Katz

4 stars Children’s Picture Book

The morning looked like a typical morning at Nino’s house until Jaguar the cat trotted in carrying a red mask that he had spotted in a box.   Nino decided to try the small mask on and wow, that mask transformed his whole day!  With that red mask covering his eyes, everything that Nino did was SUPER!  He had SUPER powers!  His daily tasks were done at lightning speed and when he was playing, he was outstanding and amazing!   After a while, Nino was doing activities that he typically wouldn’t and couldn’t do before but now that he was amazing, he was trying to show everyone just how SUPER he really was.  I thought Nino was showing off and was worried that he might just be taking his “Superness” too far and the individuals that Nino was showing this powers to were worried that he might get hurt but Nino just told them he wanted to be SUPER.  Nino ends up using his SUPER powers to help someone close to him and the end of the book is sweet.

There are some good lessons in the book if you want to use this book as a tool for learning or you could just use this book as a reading book.  I liked finding books that have some lessons in them that you can expand upon so kids can think about the stories rather than just say, “yup, that’s a good story.”  This is a cute story and the illustrations were very colorful and vivid.  The text was easy to read and I liked the variety of text styles and word choices (woo-hoo, shazammed, recharged, booted, wandered, snatched, bound, 4 stars

Alligator or Crocodile? : How Do You Know? by Melisssa Stewart

5 stars Children’s Nonfiction

You don’t need to love alligators or crocodiles to enjoy this educational children’s book.  I found this book fascinating as I loved how the author compared and contrasted these two different reptiles in such a easy, informative way that gives kids this information.  There is lots of different information from how and where they live, to their physical features, their babies, and then, the author wraps up the information in a few illustrations at the end. 

The author included some websites and a list of other books on this topic at the back of the book for future research, if you’d like more information.  This 24-page book wouldn’t be complete without an index and that’s in the back also.

I enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend it to any child.  I’m sure they’d learn something about these reptiles or it would refresh what they already know.  I know children would enjoy looking at the photographs inside this book as they fantastic.  The pictures inside this book aren’t drawings or cartoons but they’re photographs of real crocodiles and alligators in their environments which just adds to the enjoyment of this book.    Fantastic book!  5+ stars  

Very Good Hats by Emma Straub

4 stars Children’s Picture Book

What is a hat?   Do you typically think of a hat being something that you put on your head?  Can you think of anything that might also be labeled as a hat?  This was a fun book if you let your imagination take control and think of all the different ideas that a hat could be.  A roof could be a hat for your house.  A lid could be a hat for your cooking pot.  What about bubbles in your bathtub, if you put them on top of your head?  If that a bubble hat?  Why, yes, it is!   These are all types of hats if you think about it. 

Printed on glossy pages, this bright colorful book gives you something to think about.  A fun, entertaining book.  Very good hats by Emma Straub   4 stars

Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle: How Animals Get Ready For Winter by Paula Salas

5 stars Nonfiction Children’s

This is a very informative book and I liked that it covered more than just hibernate.    Normally when we think of animals in winter, we think of hibernate but this book talks about what other animals do beside hibernate and this is greatly appreciated.  I also liked that it covered some nontraditional animals which is always good to learn about.   The illustrations are bright and colorful and the pages weren’t too busy and disturbing.   Told in verse, this is a fun informative book.  5 stars