Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks. ~ Dr. Seuss

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Fancy Party Gowns

Fancy Party Gowns

by Deborah Blumenthal (Author), Laura Freeman (Illustrator)

The Story of Fashion designed Ann Cole Lowe

No one knew this designer of Jacqueline Bouvier’s (President John F Kennedy’s wife) wedding gown. Who designed Academy Award winner Olivia de Havilland’s gown in 1947?  And who was designing those lovely one-of-a-kind designer dresses for society women such as the DuPont’s, Posts and the Lodges in the 1960’s?

Ann Cole Lowe grew up helping her mother sew dresses for the elite in the town of Alabama. But when her grandmother died when Ann was 16, she was forced to step in and take over the sewing business. Later, Ann had the opportunity to go to New York to study design.  But she found herself alone in a segregated classroom. This didn’t stop Ann.

When Ann saw obstacles, she thought about what she COULD do, not what she couldn’t change.

Fancy Party Gowns segregated classroom

Ann was able to save enough money to start her own salon in Manhattan. She didn’t always have enough to cover her bills, but she kept on sewing!

One day a special order came from Washington. Ann had a opportunity to design and create dresses for a special bride and her wedding party. The bride was none other than Jacqueline Bouvier, who was to become Jacqueline Kennedy. But just 10 days before the wedding, her salon got flooded and ruined all her dresses. But,

Ann though what she could do, not what she couldn’t change!

Fancy Party Gowns kennedy wedding Fancy Party Gowns kennedy wedding gown

Finally she delivered her dresses although no one knew who the designer was. Why?

Because Ann Cole Lowe was an African American and life wasn’t fair!

Ann went on to make many more fancy party gowns. One day she was awarded “Official Couturier” for designing 33 Cinderella gowns for a fancy ball. Finally, Ann had gotten the much deserved recognition for a lifetime of work.

Fancy Party Gowns ann-cole-lowe

“Fancy Party Gowns” is a wonderful picture book biography of a Ann Cole Lowe, filled with fun filled facts and told simply but drawing inspiration. The untold story is beautifully illustrated bringing to life Ann’s colorful designs and gowns. The inside back and front covers have card layouts of Ann’s lovely gowns to ogle at. This is a perfect book for any young reader and teaches the never give up spirit, inspiring the readers to challenge yourself to look beyond what can’t be done.

“Fancy Party gowns” is a perfect book of an untold heroine, a un-celebrated but inspiring tale of a person who followed her life’s calling!


Find it here: LibraryAmazon

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

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Under Water, Under Earth

Under Water, Under Earth

by Aleksandra Mizielinska, Daniel Mizielinski

A Big Book!

Authors Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski have done it again. After writing “Maps” in a large book format, the duo author / illustrator bring to us “Under Water, Under Earth“.

“Under Water, Under Earth” is a stunningly illustrated journey into what lies beneath! In their trademark style of alternating between brief text and detailed illustrations, the author & illustrator duo, introduces a “whole world to explore just below the surface”.

The book format is very unique. It opens horizontally like a calendar and reads from both “ends”. I love the creativity behind the contents page illustration.

Under Water Under Earth inside6

The calendar format to flip through the book really works well for the way the information is lined out. Each double page spread takes a theme such as “coral reefs” or “sinkholes” and does a visual description of the topic. Here’s an example of “A history of diving suits” from the “Under Water” part of the book.

Under Water Under Earth inside 7

This page lays out the history of diving suits literally as a timeline from left to right. The leftmost diving suit runs all the way to the bottom of the page and the others are chronologically laid out with “call outs” of info texts alongside these.

Here is another interesting example from the “Under Earth” section. “Mponeng” is the world’s deepest mine, a gold mine in South Africa. This spread visually lays out information as a mine and each little section of the “mine” provides snippets of interesting information about this unique mine.

Under Water Under Earth inside5

The two sections work wonderfully together giving the reader a look of what lies underneath. Thematically the book feels unique, looks absolutely delightful and is packed with easy to read information. The Under Water section covers topics ranging from coral reefs to Titanic to underwater chimneys. The Under Earth section covers topics such as Caves and tectonic plates as well as Earth’s layers and underground utilities.  This 112 pages long book is worth its weight and is a great book for your home library, school library and makes a perfect book for gifting for a variety of age groups.


Find it here: LibraryAmazon

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

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My First Book of Hockey

My First Book of Hockey

by Editors of Sports Illustrated for Kids

A Sports Book for Rookies!

My First Book of Hockey is an non fiction children’s books introducing the little readers to the game. Editors of Sports Illustrated for Kids also have a “My First Book of Baseball” and “My First Book of Football” in the same series which follow the same pattern.

Imagine a little sports enthusiast wanting to understand what the game of Hockey is all about. What is the goal of the game? What are the specific rules? Who are the players and how many? What is the language used in the game? These are some of the questions that “My First Book of Hockey” tries to answer.

My First Book of Hockey inside 1


This introductory sports book, is cleverly laid out for the “rookie” reader. Taken from the many SI photographs, the editors choose players in various positions such as face-off, check, pass or slap-shot. A little character who probably represents the rookie reader, travels through the pages along side the cut outs of the actual players chosen to explain the game of hockey.

My First Book of Hockey inside 2

While I really like the idea of how simple language, limited text and use of cut out photography is used to make the game understandable to the newest of readers; I wondered why the editors seem to add the call out bubbles to either the players or the little character on the pages. The call-outs through out the book have nothing to do with the text on each page and are often just imaginary thoughts from the people seen on the page. This was quite distracting and sometimes even annoying.

I would have loved to see some more “game” language or strategy talk among players to make it more relevant.

I was excited to pick up these books. I think the layout and the simplicity works. However I what seemed to be an attempt at humor through the call-outs, fail in my opinion and I wish that this was done a little more cleverly or subtly. Overall, a good introductory start for the under 5 years age group.


Find it here: LibraryAmazon

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

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National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids

SIX Nat Geo Kids to gift this year!

Do you have a National Geographic Kids books on your Christmas gift list? If not, here are six National Geographic Kids books that will entertain, delight and educate everyone around you!


National Geographic Kids Science Encyclopedia divides its content into two main parts:

  • Part 1: Physical Science (Matter, Forces & Machines, Energy and Electronics)
  • Part 2: Life Science (Universe, Life on Earth, Planet Earth and Human Body)

The book opens with a brief introduction page “What is Science?” defining what science means, who the first “scientists” were  and how they work and concluding with “What is a scientific theory?“.

Science Encylcopedia Inside 1-horz

Each sub-section that follows has a introduction to the section followed by call out boxes of information with pictures. The trademark Nat Geo colored photography, style or presentation, thick glossy paper and the sheer amount of topics covered, make this book a 10 /10 for gift giving this season!


Have you watched a movie set in a time period few hundred years ago and wondered “Why’d they wear that?” Then this book is for you! National Geographic Kids Why’d they wear that asks you to step back in time and look at the choices people made in their attire.

Why'd they wear that inside 1-tile

This book is divided into 9 chapters primarily following a timeline from 10,000 BC to the 20th century. Tim Gunn, the renowned Project Runway host, says this in the Foreword

Clothing is a reflection of a time and a place, but it is also self expression. The clothes we wear send a message, and those who see us out in the world respond accordingly.”

Each chapter focuses on a specific time period, providing context, conditions and imagery showing the type of clothing people wore. Remarkably interesting, fascinating for history buffs, do not judge THIS book by its cover! National Geographic Kids “Why’d they wear that?” will absorb you in and make you take a look in what is in your wardrobe!


In the western African country of Zambia, poaching and war have taken a toll on population on lions in the area. As a matter of fact, the damage is so severe, that there is only one lioness left, named “Lady”!

Author Bradley Hague chronicles Lady’s fight to survive and the struggle to restore the balance in the land and to bring back the lioness.

Rise of the Lioness Lady-horz

National Geographic Kids “Rise of the Lioness” is a true introduction to Life Sciences. The author begins by introducing to us to a complete ecosystem and the various interconnections between animals and plants. The author documents how the ecosystem felt into ruin and how scientists are striving to revive it. Introducing various scientific methods, the author highlights human kinds responsibility and role in nurturing our environment and protecting those beings around us. An amazing documentary and absolutely gorgeous illustrations. This book is not to miss!


Nothing fascinates the young reader that space exploration. Mars has always been that fascinating final frontier for us and still remains a primary source of planetary investigation. Author and popular astronaut Buzz Aldrin challenges the young reader to think about what it would take to make the planet Mars your next home!

Welcome to Mars inside1-vert

A brief introduction page titles “Why Mars? ” highlights how earth-like the planet is and how it offers the best livable conditions for human kind. What would it take to make Mars your next home? What will you wear? How will you get there? Once you get there, how will you live? What will you eat for breakfast? These are just a few of the questions that Buzz quizzes you on.

This book is well laid out and has various activities including directions to work through them. For example:”Where is the Red Planet?” asks you to look out into the sky and find Mars using the ecliptic. Another favorite part was the timeline of Mars exploration followed by a map of Mars. “Welcome to Mars” is a book that will blast you into space!


If you have curious kids around you, National Geographic Kids “How Things Work” is THE book to gift.

How things work inside 1-tile

How Things Work is divided into six mega section.. yes this sure is a mega book sizing 9 by 12 inches with a whooping 200 plus pages of content. Topics covered range from hover-boards, refrigerators, post it notes to roller coaster inventions, rockets and hybrid cars. Each sections calls out “Just the facts”, “Fun Facts” and “Myth v/s Facts” sections to break up layout in an interesting manner. We love the way the book is organized and laid out in easy digestible section. This book will keep you wanting to explore more!


National Geographic Kids “Brain Games” is all about “mind-blowing science for your amazing brain“! With a title like that, this one is a easy choice for ANY house hold or library.

Brain Games inside 1-tile

Brain Games is a companion book to the hit TV show “Brain Games”. Inside the book are fun challenges, illusions and puzzles from the show followed by snippets of highlights on how to solve for the challenges. Borrowed from the tv show format, Brain Games book explores different parts of your brain and how it works.

This book is eye catching with various fonts, colorful illustrations and photographs and fun info pop ups that make it easy for kids to read. There is no specific order and one can jump right into the book and start reading. This is a fun book to take along for short trips, to gift to readers 8+ and for anyone interested in learning more about our brain. Kudos to the authors in making this an easy read, yet packed with information and fascinating for adults and kids alike. Brain games is a MUST NOT MISS!

So which one(s) will you pick this Christmas??

Find it here: Amazon

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

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Be the Change

Be the Change

by Arun Gandhi, Bethany Hegedus (Author), Evan Turk (Illustrator) 

A Grandfather Gandhi Story

Arun is spending time on Grandfather Gandhi’s aashram to learn and complete the 11 vows of aashram living. Among the 11, the one Arun found the hardest to follow was the vow “Not to Waste”.

Be the Change eleven vows

Grandfather Gandhi preached a non-violent life. But Arun struggled to understand how “not wasting” had anything to contribute towards living a non-violent life! So Grandfather asks Arun to accompany him on one of his trips where thousands of people would come to listen to Gandhi speak. Arun would listen but not fully understand his lectures.

Be the Change Grandfather speaks

One afternoon, as Arun walked back after Grandfather’s lectures, his thoughts grew clouded and muddy.  In frustration, he tosses a nubby pencil, tired of his vow of not wasting anything and tired of not understanding and getting the point.

When bapuji finds out, he asks Arun to go back and look for it. When Arun returns, bapuji  explains the significance of wasting. He introduces to him how “waste” is a violent action. He asks Arun to draw a tree of waste. As days pass, Arun works hard at adding to the tree and is shocked at the results.

“Be the Change” is the second book in the Grandfather Gandhi series of picture books for kids. This one particularly was exciting and interesting to read. What bapuji teaches to little Arun is fully relevant and completely relatable to today’s world. In fact, “waste” as a form of violence seems more relevant today than before.  Indeed, the concepts introduced in this series can be particularly heavy. However, author Bethany Hegedus writes in simple language and the dramatic collage style art by Evan Turk cleverly simplifies the “tree of waste” for children. Shifting perspectives, double spread illustrations, collage work portraying Gandhiji’s form of life all work excellently in this power packed, heavy yet necessary read for children.

Needless to say this one is a book i will read , re-read, read to my little one, read to others, gift to friends and family for a long time to come! More importantly, the book has encouraged active dialogue to me personally as well as a household conversation. Can’t wait to read the third in this series.

Highly recommended!

Find it here: Library, Amazon

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

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Dining With Dinosaurs

Dining With Dinosaurs

by Hannah Bonner (Author)

A Tasty guide to Mesozoic munching

We have read so many books on dinosaurs. From a toddler books to middle graders, there are a ton of books featuring dinosaurs. Nothing fascinates us more than this specific extinct species. National Geographic’s publication, called “Dining with Dinosaurs” takes a look at the different food groups that the various dinosaur species dined on.

Dining with Dinosaurs inside

The book is sectioned into the many “vores” from the mesozoic food web. For example the “Dinovores” were meat eaters and ate other dinosaurs for food. The double spread lists the largest dino in this category ( 2 crocodiles: Deinosuchus, Sarcosuchus) , the strangest (snake called Sanajeh), the smallest (fossil fleas and a microscopic parasite) and the furriest (mammal called Repenomamus)!


Other sections have interesting snippets called “Ask a Scientist“. This comic strip presentation gives us an opportunity to find out a scientist’s answer to interesting questions or discover some fun facts.


Each section of “Dining with Dinosaur” is unique in the facts presented about the dining habits of that category of dinosaurs. What we enjoyed most was the easy flow from section to section and the sketch diagram illustration style that is very eye catching.  The author / illustrator Hannah Bonner keeps things interesting and breaks the monotony by scattering comic book style call outs and dialogues.


Extra Helpings” glossary items educate us on further readings and background information such as a chart of the food web for dinosaurs and what photosynthesis means.


I would recommend “Dining with Dinosaurs” for advanced elementary readers, middle graders and above.

Find out how the dino’s dined and what was on their plate a long long time ago

Find it here: Library, Amazon

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

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Tales from the Arabian Nights

Tales from the Arabian Nights

by Donna Jo Napoli (Author), Christina Balit (Illustrator) 

Blast from the past

One of the earliest memories of stories from my childhood were from the Arabian nights. The charm and mystic around Scheherzade’s 1001 stories enchant and enthrall kids today. So when I came across National Geo’s publication of Donna Naploi’s collection from the”Tales from the Arabian Night”, I was delighted to read this one to my little one. And to my pleasure our little one read it cover to cover!


This rendition of the “Tales from the Arabian Nights” is a selection of the 1001 stories. This book has the popular Sinbad, Aladin and Ali Baba stories and a few other interesting stories. Author Donna Napoli does the stories justice by weaving them into one another seamlessly. The stories within the story is superbly executed, keeping the reader wanting to find out “what happens next”! Christina Balit brings these beloved stories to life with beautiful bright and colorful illustrations. The double spread of pages alternating between text and illustrations makes this book a great addition to the home library.


What makes this book extra special are all the “extras” in the book. Side notes and snippets educate to various cultural aspects of the original stories.  The glossary has a a beautiful map of the middle east with a detail on the time period for these stories. The author has also tried to identify various cities and places that were highlighted in the original stories.


I would recommend for middle graders and above. The stories although selective, flow very well and make this book a very gift worthy, library worthy book.

Highly recommended!

Find it here: Library, Amazon

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

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The Storybook Knight

The Storybook Knight

by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty (Author, Illustrator) 

A gentle Knight

Leo was a gentle knight! He liked to mostly sit and read. But that is not what Knights are “supposed” to do, is it? So Leo’s parents decide to “encourage” him to go out into the world and fight some dragons and win some fame and glory!

The Storybook Knight Parents

So Leo packs his bags, carries all the books he will need on his journey and his new shiny sword and shield. First he meets a beautiful griffin! Leo is unafraid and “reads” his way out of a fight. Next he meets a troll. Leo manages to charm him with his story telling skills. Finally, Leo reaches a town stinking and filthy. Scared faces look out of the window. A ferocious dragon approaches Leo. Will Leo be able to escape this one without any harm?

The Storybook Knight fierce dragon

Written in verse, “The Storybook Knight” is a wonderful tale about courage viewed from a different lens. The message for little ones if very strong: look for different ways to solve the problem! or one need not “fight” to be brave! We loved reading this book by ourselves as well as aloud many times. The beautiful detailed artwork with lovely kid friendly shades of colors are eye catching to say the least. The Storybook Knight will delight all ages, but is ideal for ages 3-5. Highly recommend for your home or school libraries!

And finally, here’s your chance to win a copy of art!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of the above books from the publishers for an honest opinion. I have NOT received any compensation for this review. All reviews and opinions are entirely my own!

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