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







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)!

IMG_2210

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.

IMG_2211

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.

IMG_2212

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.

IMG_2213

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 next page close

Elephant Man

Elephant Man
by Mariangela Di Fiore (Author), Hilde Hodnefjeld (Illustrator)

A story of courage and compassion

“Gather around—prepare to be amazed!” At a tiny little theater in London, every evening, the Elephant Man steps out from behind a curtain. One look at “The Elephant Man” makes one gasp with dismay. They scream in horror and call him “hideous” and a “monster”. But the Elephant Man , whose real name was Joseph Merrick, would rather make people laugh and laugh with them.

Joseph was not born this way. He looked like any other baby. His mother held him just as any other mother would hold her baby. But when Joseph was just a few years old, something unusual started happening to him. He started emitting an unpleasant smell. He developed unusual crumpled lumps all over his body. His mouth became heavy and he lost his ability to speak, smile and make different facial expressions. In short, his body completely transformed and became disfigured.

Elephant Man inside1

What follows is a tragic tale of heart ache and sorrow. Joseph loses his mother very early on. He is treated miserably by everyone around him on account of his disfigurement. Bullied, shunned, rejected and ridiculed, Joseph leads a life of an outcast. Finally Joseph ends up in London and on stage, which seems the only way he can earn money and live on his own.

Elephant Man inside2

Finally after a series of misfortunes, he finally meets a kind doctor who offers to host him in London hospital. Dr Fredrick makes sure Joseph lives in comfortable and has all the books that he can read. Finally Joseph has a place he can call home, a place he feels safe and most importantly a friend who he scientific study. And although Joseph never dared to leave his room, many people from London came to visit him, look at his models and listen to his stories. Joseph makes many good friends.

“Elephant Man” is an interesting biography, a story that highlights the worse and the best side of human nature. While Joseph underfoes horrendous trials at a very early age, he is also fortunate to find kindly souls who offer him comfort, friendship and solace. The author gives Joseph’s story a compassionate voice and highlights the important message to measure a person “by his soul” and not by appearances.

Engaging and highly affecting, this book is an excellent addition to your biography collection.

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!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


next page next page close

Greater Estimations

Greater Estimations
by Bruce Goldstone (Author)

How many rubber duckies are on the cover?

Every day we see objects around us. We find clumps of rocks in the backyard, a line of trees or maybe a group of birds flying in the sky. Have you ever wondered how we can use simple tricks to estimate small Estimations?

Greater Estimations opens with an army of rubber duckies marching towards you! It’s literally a quack attack J Can you count how many are there in this army? Counting one by one, the author claims, is bound to give you a headache!

Eye training” is a simple and effective way to train oneself to recognize groups of say 10 rubber duckies. Now if you can eye train 10, then let’s try looking at a 100. Goldstone shows you that by seeing a small and then large and then larger groups, you can train your eyes to estimate how many objects you can see.

Or how about this batch of skydivers?

Greater Estimations how many

 “Clumping” is a way to divide and estimate. Identify a group of 50 and then mutlitply!

Can you try to estimate how many candies fill this picture?

Greater Estimations how many2

A large part of the book focuses on different estimation techniques like eye training, clump counting and box counting and estimating items in containers. The progression is from simple techniques to some more complex ideas such as how tall things could be or how heavy.

Greater Estimations how tall

What’s not to love about “Greater Estimations”? From growing math vocabulary to having fun counting real life objects, this book is for the whole family!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


next page next page close

A Rock Can Be

A Rock Can Be
by Laura Purdie Salas (Author), Violeta Dabija (Illustrator)

Rocks are everywhere!

Laura and Violeta have done it again! The third in a series of non-fiction picture books (“Water Can Be” and “ A Leaf Can Be”), “A Rock Can Be..” is a stunningly beautiful, easy to read and fantastic non fiction reading for kids of all ages.

In “A Rock Can be”, Laura and Violeta asks the reader to imagine how and where you can find different types of rocks. A rock is not just a simple static stone lying in the backyard. It can be a Tall Mountain..

A Rock can be Tall mountain

Or a “lake skimmer

 A Rock can be cover Rock skimmer

Or even a “moon rock

 A Rock can be cover Moon Rock

This little picture book packs so much information. What is fascinating that with just a series of short rhyming couplets, the author and illustrator duo highlight that a rock can be found in so many places and can be used in so many ways. From fossilized bones and earth’s crust to a volcanic rock and cliff side home for birds, A rock can be so many many things!

The book ends with a double spread providing more detailed explanation of each of the rock presentations in the book. An absolute gem of a book, a conversation starter for classroom and home libraries!

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!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


next page next page close

Mad About Monkeys

Mad About Monkeys
by Owen Davey (Author, Illustrator)

So many Monkeys!

Making a non-fiction subject kid friendly is always a challenge. But when it comes to a topic as broad and generic as “Monkeys”, the task becomes even harder. Owen Davey tackles this very uniquely.

“Mad About Monkeys” is not just a basic introduction to the “monkey” family. The book begins with an introduction to primates and how and when this species evolved. The first double spread page covers what these monkeys eat and where you can find them.

Mad About Monkeys uncle

Having covered the basics, the author jumps into more specifics. Did you know we have “Old world monkeys” (down facing noses) and “New world monkeys”(flat noses)? Follow the page to a quick quiz on identifying which monkey belongs to the new world and which ones is an old world monkey.

Mad About Monkeys types

Owen Davey goes on to describe the social life and hierarchy. Other spreads talk about the “weird and wonderful” monkey species found in different parts of the world. Fast facts makes it fun for the reader to keep reading. Turn the page to find out about the monkey with the longest tail (the Spider monkey), or how about the “hairiest” monkey (Bearded Emperor Tamarin)?

Mad About Monkeys Featured creatures

What makes this book special is Owen Davey’s visually striking geometric patterned art work and intriguing layout of textual information and illustrations. This book was hard to put down and we loved pouring over it from front cover to the back! Highly recommend it!

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!

Find it here : Library, Amazon, Better World Books


next page next page close

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream
by Glenda Armand (Author) , Floyd Cooper (Illustrator)

Dreams DO come true!

 Ira Aldridge, born in the late 1800s, had always known that he wanted to become an actor. Specifically, he wanted a role in William Shakespeare’s plays. Standing high on the balcony, Ira would watch and memorize the lines of the current Shakespeare play. In his school, Ira would pace back and forth and recite lines from Hamlet expertly. Listeners would heartily compliment his skills and his delivery.

Ira's Shakespeare Dream reciting

Ira was convinced that he wanted to pursue a career performing. But his teacher reminded him that only white actors performed in plays in America at that time. Ira decided to share with his pa, his big Shakespeare Dream. But Pa was less than convinced about his son’s chosen path. He even called Ira’s Shakespeare dream foolish. Despite all the negativity, Ira wouldn’t give up on his dream. He would sneak out to watch plays in the new theaters nearby.

One day Ira decided to leave home in pursuit of his dream. He headed to London where he found work running errands at small theaters. He also became an understudy and finally after waiting for months, Ira got his chance.

Ira’s performance was very well received. A few scoffed and remarked that Ira needed more training. And few more insisted that Ira should not play “white actor roles”. But Ira was not to be discouraged. He knew he had to work hard, study and prove that he was an actor worthy of any Shakespeare play.

Ira's Shakespeare Dream finally

This is a well written picture book biography of an African American actor, Ira Alderidge. This is the story of an actor who didn’t receive recognition for his excellent skills in America, but he earned his stars abroad. Ira Alderidge was considered one of the best Shakespearean actor of his time.

Beautiful oil painted illustrations capture the stage and drama in its splendor. We loved reading Ira’s spellbinding delivery of Othello on stage. This is a true story of grit, determination, hard work and above all a desire to pursue a dream amongst hardships.

Ira’s Shakespeare Dream is an excellent addition to any non-fiction collection. A well-researched, African American biography, a diversity read for every age group really.. 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

If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant

If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant
by Ellen Fischer (Author), Laura Wood (Illustrator)

What DO animals eat?? Surprised

A silly, super sweet non-fiction, “If an Armadillo Went to a Restaurant” will answer this question. The picture book non-fiction gives you a peek into what different animals would order if they were to go to a restaurant.

Will they order a pizza or a sandwich? No!!

If an Armadillo went to a restaurant Giraffe

If an Armadillo went to a restaurant Ostrich

How about spaghetti with meatballs? No! No!! Smile

If an Armadillo went to a restaurant Armadillo

An Armadillo would probably prefer a plate of ants and worms (with a few beetles thrown in of course!) Wouldn’t that be delectable?? (GROSS!!)

Suited for 3+ year olds, this adorable book follows a pattern, introducing a new animal on alternate pages and asking the reader what food would best suit the palate of that animal. Find animals such as sea turtles, snake, butterflies, kangaroos and many more. We loved discovering the different types of food and playing a “guessing” game for each animal. And the “reveal” would leave the kiddo with lots of “eeeeww” and “yuuuuck” and similar sounding words!  The book ends with a question around what would the reader order if he/she went to a restaurant with a small kids menu… yum!

Gentle pacing, simple language and silly answers will keep the young readers engaged. Laura Wood’s cute kid-friendly art is colorful and eye catching. Her quirky animal renderings, pictures of various animal food on plates and adorable expressions on their faces are instantly lovable.

A great picture book non-fiction for libraries, classrooms and home reading.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books