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

next page next page close

Stand Up and Sing!

Stand Up and Sing!

by Susanna Reich (Author), Adam Gustavson (Illustrator)

Pete Seeger, Folk Music and the Path to Justice

Stand up and Sing! is an interesting picture book biography of Pete Seeger, an American folk song singer and social activist. Born in the early 1900’s, Pete’s life is described as one that was full of music and fight for justice.

Pete was born with music in his bones“, claims the author Susanna Reich. Although a shy child, Pete felt the most comfortable around music. He grew up with songs being sung during dinner time and music that he heard in the woods. But Pete also grew up seeing injustice being done around him. Especially when the Great Depression hit, Pete could see that the rich had enough food on the table while millions of poor folks struggled to get a meal everyday. Pete’s father also took him through poor neighborhoods, where Pete saw first hand the suffering during such hard times.

Stand up and Sing  learning

One day Pete and his family drove to a music festival. There he heard music that went straight to his heart. He studied the various types of music and tried to imitate it. He listened to all kinds of music, love songs, lullabies, blues, game songs, blues and chants! So it wasn’t a surprise that he found a job helping a family friend sort and organize music records for the Library of Congress.

Pete went on to travel around the country with new musician friends. He tried his best to imitate to sing and play the banjo at the same time. With a group of singing friends, Pete would perform to anyone who would listen and sang his heart out. Before long, the group was traveling through the country and performing. It was hard to find a good place to stay with so little money, but Pete didn’t mind as long as he got to play. Pete went on to be part of a popular singing group and became successful. But Pete was far from being happy.

Stand up and Sing We Shall Overcome2

Pete didn’t want to sing only at high paying gigs, but wanted to sing for ordinary people. He was also singing songs that were not particularly popular in the government. But Pete  stuck to his values and beliefs. Tough times lay ahead, and he knew the price to pay for his “unpatriotic” songs. But Pete persevered…

“Stand up and Sing!” chronicles Pete Seeger’s career as a singer and activist. Author Susanna Reich documents Pete’s stead fast belief that he could move people through his music. Through simple narrative, Reich descries Pete’s passion for connecting with the common people through his folk songs and his constant struggle in speaking up for what was right despite his own suffering. Adam Gustavson’s art brings the character and his music to life.

Stand up and Sing continuing to sing

This is a great book to add to a character study material or to simply read to learn and listen to Pete’s music. I had not previously read about Pete Seeger, but was fascinated about his life’s journey after reading “Stand up and Sing!”. A lovely picture book for ages 9+.

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!

next page next page close

Motor Girls

Motor Girls

by Sue Macy (Author), Danica Patrick (Foreword)

How Women took the wheel and drove boldly into the 20th Century

Motor Girls is an thoroughly researched book about the history of women and automobiles. Author Sue Macy’s earlier book “Wheels of Change” recounts the history of how women took to the bicycle. Curious about what happened after women took to riding the bike, Sue Macy digs into the past and brings to us this brilliantly researched book on Motor Girls.

Motor Girls Fair sex at the wheel

Motor Girls chronicles the journey of how women came to be behind the wheel and the challenges they faced in getting there. The author opens with a lovely foreword by Danica Patrick who recounts her own challenges in becoming the “fastest driver” and not just the “fastest woman” of the 20th century. An introduction by Sue Macy details her own motivation into digging into the past on Motor Girls and what road the women of the early 1900’s had to undertake to become women drivers of the 20th century.

Motor Girl Amelia Walker

Motor Girls early chapters introduces the reader to a brief but engaging history of the motor car. Following which, Sue Macy dives into perception issues around women drivers in the early 1900’s to role of women during WWII. Women were believed to “not trained to think of two things at once”, a skill clearly required to drive motor cars. Other believed that driving would undermine women’s femininity, having to deal with all the dirt and dust from driving on mud ridden roads. Finally, more people believed that the independence that women might get due to driving would upset the social structure existing at the time.

Motor Girls Cars for women

Objections to driving were made from not just men but also other women. However, as Sue Macy narrates, there were enough women to take up the challenge, enough women wanting to feel the freedom of being behind the wheel and enough women who wanted to prove themselves over and over again.

And as more women drivers hit the road, women mobilized in many more ways, ultimately giving up their traditional roles and taking up newer and better opportunities to employment.

Through simple but engaging narration, Sue Macy writes about Motor Girls with lovely period photography and snippets of historical factoids sprinkled through the book. A wonderful and important read for everyone!

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!

next page next page close

Freedom in Congo Square

Freedom in Congo Square

by Carole Boston Weatherford (Author), R. Greogry Christie (Illustrator)

A story of hope

It is 1817 and the slaves in Louisiana were hard at work. They ploughed the fields, fed the hogs, chopped the logs and washed the clothes. Every day was a day of hard work and labor. Slavery was not fair, but it existed in the early 1800’s in the city of New Orleans.

Freedom In Congo Square inside 1

A new law came to pass which declared Sunday a day of rest. Even the slaves were allowed to take Sunday’s off. On this day, the day that the slaves looked forward to during the week, the slaves were allowed to gather at various locations. In New Orleans, this location came to be known as the Congo Square.

Freedom In Congo Square inside 2

Each week hundreds of slaves and free blacks gathered at Congo Square. In some city’s such gatherings were forbidden. In other city music was strictly banned. But in the city of New Orleans, the African rhythms, culture and customs came alive on that 1 day of the week. people gathered freely. They beat the African drums and danced to African music. The musicians played the violin, the drums, the gourd, marimbas and the tambourines. Local whites and visitors came to the Congo Square too, to experience the lively music and dance.

This piece of Earth was a world apart, 

Congo Square was freedom’s heart.

“Freedom in Congo Square” is a vibrant picture book written in verse captures the essence of the African culture during a difficult time. A countdown from Monday to Sunday gives us a glimpse of the hard life of slavery that this people lived. However, when Sunday arrives, the theme and emotion changes to that of hope and celebration… celebrating the day of freedom in Congo Square, when the slaves came together to greet and enjoy their culture.

They rejoiced as if they had no cares;

half day, half free in Congo Square.

The vibrant yellow and orange color spreads with the long dark silhouette figures show the toil alongside the joy. The folk tale like art work accompanied by pictures of masks, drums and other instruments capture the essence of the culture. Beautifully executed, Freedom in Congo Square showcases the powerful resilience of the people. A MUST read for every age! Highly recommended!

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!

next page next page close

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!

next page next page close

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!

next page next page close

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!

next page next page close

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!

next page next page close

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!

next page next page close

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!

next page
thumbnail Stand Up and Sing! article post
thumbnail Motor Girls article post
thumbnail Freedom in Congo Square article post
thumbnail Fancy Party Gowns article post
thumbnail Under Water, Under Earth article post
thumbnail My First Book of Hockey article post
thumbnail National Geographic Kids article post
thumbnail Be the Change article post
thumbnail Dining With Dinosaurs article post