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

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Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth

Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth
by Joan Schottler (Author), Jessica Lanan (Illustrator)

A Historical Fiction from Korea!

Little Ji-su’s mother Eomma is a seamstress. She is so good that she has been chosen to work in the king’s palace. This is a matter of great honor for Eomma and her family. But little Ji-su is heartbroken. Eomma will have to leave her village and family. Eomma will be staying and working at the palace. She cries and begs her mother to take her along. But Eomma must go alone, leaving her daughter, little Ji-su in the care of an aunt Gomo.

Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth Don't Leave

Before leaving, Eomma has left Ji-su a gift covered in bojagi (a square hemmed wrapping cloth). It is believed that wrapping a package with bojagi will send good luck to the person receiving the package. As Ji-su sees the vanishing figure of her mother, she sits down to open the parcel. She carefully unfolds the bojagi and opens a box. Inside, she finds Eomma’s 7 close companions: a needle, thread, a thimble, a ruler, a pair of scissors, a small iron called indoo and a iron with a bowl to hold charcoal called darimi. “Someday I am going to sew a bojagi as fine as Eomma’s” says Ji-su.

With her aunt’s help and training, Ji-su starts to learn the art of sewing. A skill that will test her patience. She must do all her chores in the house and then sit down to sew. But Ji-su is steadfast and relentless. She has only one goal in mind. To be noticed by the Sanguiwon master (overseer of the sewing needs of the palace). That is the only way she will be united with her Eomma.

As the seasons pass, Ji-su sews on. She sews the beautiful colors of the seasons in her bojagi. She sews the pomegranate red and pine greens. She works at her crooked stitches to make them right. As spring turns into summer, Ji-su sews the colors of summer fruits peach, plum and cherry into her bojagi. She practices to stitch smaller and more intricately than before.

Good Frotune in a Wrapping Cloth Summer

Each stitch is a step closer to Eomma” 

Finally the Sanguiwon master arrives at her village. Ji-su has worked hard the last month to make her best bojagi. Will the master see her work as worthy? Will her Eomma’s bojagi bring good fortune to Ji-su? Will she be able to see her Eomma again?

This is a tale that weaves the threads of culture, art, custom and history. This is also the tale of Ji-su’s determination and hard work to re-unite with her mother Eomma. Joan Schottler’s story telling is gentle and heartwarming. But what sets this book apart is the delicate and beautiful watercolor illustrations. Jessica Lanan ‘s art really completes this book.

We loved reading how hard Ji-su would work and how she never left sight or gave up on meeting her mother Eomma. Whether you read “Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth” for its culture, history or art or whether you read it for little Ji-su’s love for her mother, you will not be disappointed!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Two Piano Tuners

Two Piano Tuners
by M.B. Goffstein (Author, Illustrator)

Simple and Engaging!

“To Debbie Weinstock,
            an alert and persistent little girl, the sound of a piano being tuned by a good piano tuner is better than any kind of music.”

So opens the story of grandfather Reuben Weinstock, the best piano tuner in the world.

Rueben Weinstock has been tuning pianos for a very long time. He has tuned pianos for all great pianists and has even traveled with Issac Lipman, one of the most renowned pianist at the time. He is a good man and is well respected and known for his hard work and extraordinary talent.

But the master piano tuner’s life is taking a different turn as he suddenly finds himself being responsible for his orphaned granddaughter Debbie Weinstock. Slowly but steadily they settle into a routine. As grandfather Weisntock sets the morning breakfast table, the middle c hum-mm-mming little Debbie gets up and puts on her clothes. She jumps off her bed and rushes to the piano C! C! she checks to see whether she was off.

Grandpa Rueben loves Debbie’s enthusiasm and aspires that little Debbie grows up one day to become a great concert pianist. But Debbie has other plans. She wants to be a piano tuner, just like her grandpa!

Two Piano Tuners practise

Matters come to a head, when one day Rueben is called to tune Issac Lipman’s piano. He plans to enlist his friend’s help to teach and inspire Debbie to become a pianist.

Two Piano Tuners meet Issac

Two Piano Tuners tuning

But exactly what will inspire Debbie? The piano played by the maestro Issac Lipman or the way it was tuned to begin with? Smile

This is such a lovely story. A classic struggle of a parent’s aspirations and a child’s struggle at finding out what they really love to do. Goffstein’s writes brilliantly as he captures the emotions and weaves the tale with humor and warmth and  affection. The characters feel real and their emotions true to the character. And what the book lacks in its illustrations, it more than makes up by the gentle pace of the story.

We loved reading this tale for its charm. Debbie’s energy and enthusiasm for tuning the piano captured our hearts. We had a wonderful discussion  around finding your inner talent and discovering what you simply love to do every day.

A tale to read in every household!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World books

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
by Ian Fleming (Author), Andrew Sachs (Reader)

Story of a Magical Car!

Ian Fleming is best known for his world famous James Bond novels. But he wrote one children’s book– Just One! And he called it “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”!

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the name of a very special car. A car that can drive by itself, fly in the air and float in the water! When the Pott family first happened upon this magical car, they weren’t sure if it would be the right car for them. But the Pott family kids knew something was different about this automobile. After all its license plate read “GEN ii” (read: “genie”)

Then one day Mr Pott, the inventor and retired from the royal Navy, decides to take his family on a road trip. As the car fires up, it makes a “chitty chitty bang bang” sound. The kids immediately decide to call their new car after the sound she so often makes.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Name

But soon enough the family finds itself stuck in an enormous traffic jam! Suddenly a knob on the dashboard of the car lights up saying “Pull the knob!”. Mr.Potts is speechless but obedient. As he pulls the knob, something magical happens!

As the family continue on their vacation, little did they know what surprises lay in store for them and how valuable this clever little car would prove to be. In typical “Ian Fleming” style, this adventure novel will take you to an isolated island, to a gangster’s lair and get you caught in their web! Will Chitty Chitty Bang Bang come to the rescue?

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flying Car

Widely known for his role as a Spanish waiter in “Fawlty Towers” (sitcom), Andrew Sachs is a brilliant reader of this classic tale. His clear narrative is perfect for this story telling. His delivery heightens the humor and adds to the fun factor! Listen to an excerpt here.

If you love a good tale spun around gadgets, gangsters and some action, then this is a story for you! Ian Fleming’s humorous tale is imaginative and timeless! A classic really.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Gandhi: A March to the Sea

Gandhi: A March to the Sea
by Alice B. McGinty (Author), Thomas Gonzalez (Illsutrator)

“Next to air and water, salt is perhaps the greatest necessity of life” – Gandhi.

This was the time when Great Britain ruled over India. They had passed an unfair law. A law the banned Indians from making their own salt from the sea. A law that meant every Indian had to buy salt from the British and pay high taxes on it. Most Indians could barely afford to. The high taxes and the laws were clearly unfair.

So just before sunrise on March 12th, 1930, a small brown skinned man got up and began his journey  towards the sea. Followed by 70 marchers, seen by thousands of villagers and watched by many British officers, one man decided to break the law. The law that banned any and every Indian from taking salt from the sea.

People watched and worried. Will he get arrested? Will he go to jail? But the marchers followed this man, singing and praising God in their song “Rahupati raghav Raaja Ram“.

Gandhi A March to the Sea March

With every step he took, with every stride he made, he marched towards uniting the country, gathering his countrymen in a silent non-violent fight – a fight for freedom.

He crossed many villages and towns. Along the way he rested. He stopped and washed himself among the waters from the Untouchables. The Untouchables who were frowned upon, the lowest class of the society who were looked upon with disgust. But this lone man welcomed them with his warm gaze.

Gandhi A March to the Sea Untouchables

But the distances were long and the journey was tiring. Will the country men follow? Will they tire and stop in their quest? Can this one man give them the courage, the strength required to show them the path?

Will Gandhi break the law and make salt from the sea water? And can he take his country towards a better life and freedom?

Gandhi A March to the Sea Salt

In this beautifully written, almost poetic picture book, Alice Mc.Ginty gives us a glimpse into the life of one of the most important men in the history of Independence of  India, Mahatama Gandhi. In “Gandhi: A March to the Sea” she describes the historic event of The Salt March (also called “Dandi Yatra” or “Salt Satyagraha”).

Gandhi firmly believed that the fight to freedom should be one which is non-violent. By marching to the sea and breaking the law, he demonstrated to the world the power of non-violent movement. His enormous courage and strong sense of justice for all lead the country towards freedom.

“Gandhi: A March to the Sea” is a re-telling of the event and is exquisitely illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. His brilliant pencil and pastel illustrations adds drama and substance to this poignant tale. Thomas Gonzalez shows Gandhi in different settings. Sometimes deep in thought, sometimes walking alone. My favorite was this image of Gandhi by himself on the banks of the sea at Dandi.

A beautifully written and illustrated historic tale of one man’s perspective on the struggle for freedom.

Find it here: Library, Amazon,

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Dodsworth in Tokyo

Dodsworth in Tokyo
by Tim Egan (Author, Illustrator)

Adventures of  Dodsworth and duck!

Dodsworth could see the top of Mount Fuji. He could see the sparkling city of Tokyo beyond. But he was a little nervous.  Japan was known for its customs and manner. And his “pet” duck was known for his mischief and “accidents“.  So Dodsworth promises duck a nice wagashi desert if duck promised to stay out of trouble.

Dodsworth in Tokyo Wagashi

So after landing, Dodsworth keeps a keen eye on duck. Surprisingly, duck is on his best behavior! They take a bus tour through the city. They tour the Imperial Palace and visit the Museum of Imperial Collections. Duck gets into “little accidents” but overall, he is doing very well! And Dodsworth was starting to let his guard down. Finally they arrive at the temple at Asakusa. The Sanja Festival had attracted quiet a crowd there. And as duck started to sway to the beats of the drums, Dodsworth has become alert again! Will duck end up in trouble after all? 

Dodsworth in Tokyo Museum

This is a delightful series of chapter books by Tim Egan. His illustrations are colorful and engaging. Tim Egan has successfully crafted a series of adventures of the globetrotting duo, Dodsworth and his accident prone pet duck.

Dodsworth in Tokyo temple trouble

In this book, Dodsworth and duck visit Japan. The chapters follow their travels to important places of interest in and around the city of Tokyo. Some of the words are harder for early readers, but it is a fantastic introduction to arts and culture of a different country. Great conversations to have and learn about new places, people and food!

We enjoyed reading this book for its good story telling as well as a cleverly crafted travelogue. Where will they go next? New York, Paris, London and Rome!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Papa’s Mechanical Fish

Papa’s Mechanical Fish
by Candace Fleming (author), Boris Kulikov (Illustrator)

“Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a Fish?”

 Clink! Clankety-bang! Thump-whirr!” That was the sound of Papa working. Papa is an inventor but he has never really made anything that works perfectly. That is because he is looking for a truly fantastic idea!

So Papa twiddles his tools and pulls his hair! And he thinks a lot. But no “fantastic” idea will come to him! So he decides “Enough thinking! Let’s go fishing!”

Papa's Mechanical Fish Frustrated

As the family drop their fishing lines into Lake Michigan, the oldest daughter of the family, Vierna, asks him, “Papa, have you wondered what it is to be a fish?” And then a brilliant idea pops into Papa’s head and off he goes, rushing back to his workshop..

Clink! Clankety-bang! Thump-whirr!” Papa is working hard in his workshop and out comes an “underwater vessel“!

Papa's Mechanical Fish Inventing

 But will it work??Frown

Papa's Mechanical Fish Ideas

Almost! Virena thinks again, and asks ” Papa, how does fish stay dry?” This makes Papa think and off he goes, back to his workshop and this time he comes up with many more improvements… and after many more questions from Virena and many more tries, Papa finally gets it right!

Papa's Mechanical Fish Finally

As the family sits down to celebrate, Virena wonders aloud “Papa,  have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a bird?”

Clink! Clankety-bang! Thump-whirr!”Wink

This is a fictional story based on the early work done on submarines by the real life inventor Lodner Phillips. In the summer of 1851, Papa (Lodner Phillips), the eccentric inventor, took his family on an expedition to Lake Michigan. But no one really knows what drove him to become “obsessed” with building a submarine.

“Papa’s Mechanical Fish” is a FUN story straight from the author’s imagination about what must have transpired during that time. The story reads well with simple language that flows with slight repetition to keep the story interesting. The Horn Book review says “Fleming’s telling is lively, humorous, and specific.” I couldn’t agree more!

The art work is remarkable. Bright and colorful, Kulikov’s playful and detailed illustrations draws you in. The play on perspectives and the full bleed drawings make for a fantastic picture book read.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Blucy : The Blue Cat

Blucy : The Blue Cat
by Julia Dweck (Author), Erika LeBarre (Illustrator)

A Blue cat? 

Little Mandy wants to adopt a “special” cat. But in a roomful of cats, Mandy is confused. They all look the same, how is she ever going to choose a “special” cat? But then she spies a cat snoozing on a blue mat. And blue being her favorite color, she chooses “Blucy” for her new pet!


Like all other cats, Blucy is mischievous, adventurous and spontaneous. But little did Mandy know that “Blucy” is really special! She has a talent that no other cat has. Smile

At first Mandy tries hard to figure out what would make Blucy happy. She tries training this stubborn cat, but Blucy was on her own! However will Mandy and Blucy become friends? Did Mandy make a mistake in picking Blucy for her pet?


Blucy is a wonderful read aloud rhyming book by Julia Dweck. The pace of the book is gentle for the very little ones. The illustrations are gorgeous and bright, just right for younger audiences. The rhyme and rhythm of the story is engaging and fun!

“Although she hated pudding, Blucy loved a Jello mold,
She wanted only BLUE – the other colors left her cold!
Now Mandy didn’t laugh or think that she was acting cute,
When Blucy dove right into the bowl and swam among the fruit!” 

We loved reading this story over and over again. DD loves cats and she had a ton of fun reading through all the shenanigans that Blucy is up to. Cat owners will instantly relate to the “first” days of having a cat at home. I like the fact that there is a “Cat Fact” section for beginning “cat lovers” Smile and a lovely “cat activity” for kids to do as well.  Also, the author/illustrator team have thought about the format for the book. This book is a kindle book and hence the format of the book needs to be intuitive to the young readers or parents for that screen size. A job well done!

* Where’s Blucy? *
Before we get to the $100 Book Blast Giveaway, we have a special treat for you.  If you head on over to Julia Dweck’s Facebook Fan Page, you will find the “Where’s Blucy?” contest.  Julia Dweck fans are invited to post suggestions of “blue” places Blucy could be hiding, (e.g., near Elvis’ blue suede shoes). The most creative answer will win a print of the Blucy cover by the artist, Erika LeBarre.  Head on over to Julia Dweck’s Facebook Fan Page to enter and…

Pssssttt… if you enter the contest before August 20th, 2013, you gain 5 entries in the $100 Book Blast Giveaway below!
Find it here: Amazon

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The Tale of Despereaux

The Tale of Despereaux

Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread

by Kate DiCamillo (Author), Graeme Malcolm (Reader)

This is the story of Desperaux Tilling, a mouse in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl with a simple, impossible wish. These characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and ultimately, into each other’s lives.

And what happens then? Listeners, it is your destiny to find out. ” (listen a sample here.)

So begins Graeme Malcolm, in his deep, rich voice as he narrates the story of a tiny mouse born with extraordinarily large ears. Malcolm’s narration is inviting and appealing. His voice has the quality of drawing you in and keeping you there with his story. His narration is nuanced and almost lyrical as he moves from one character to another and smoothly transitions his style accordingly. With such powerful opening paragraph and superb narration, we were HOOKED!

There are four important central characters to this story, but the story begins with the birth of Despereaux Tilling, the mouse.

Tale of Desperaux reading

Despereaux Tilling is a small but smart mouse with large ears. But it wasn’t the ears that were his problem, it was his intelligence. Because like all other mice, Despereaux, wasn’t interested in just eating things and hiding away.. Despereaux wanted to read and become an adventurer. Little does he know that his love for finer things, will lead him to fall in love with a real princess, get him thrown into a dungeon full of evil rats and finally put his love and honor to test in a dangerous situation.

Tale of Desperaux Miggery Sow

This is also the tale of a slow minded girl called Miggery Sow who has been “clouted” so many times on her ears that she is nearly deaf. Miggery is a peasant girl whose one dream is to be a real princess on day. Her ambition will take her on a comic yet frightening journey into the dungeons where she will need to decide who is a friend and who is a foe.

Tale of Desperaux Princess Pea

Then there is the tale of the Princess Pea. A clever little girl who has lost her mother to an accident caused by rats. From the day her mother passed away, rats and soups (which was her mother’s favorite food) were banned in the kingdom. Princess Pea will be tested for her kind and forgiving heart and her love for all things good.

Tale of Desperaux Roscuro

And finally there is the villain, the rat named Roscuro, who like Despereaux was “different” than the other rats, but in a more evil way! He will find a way to take his revenge, but you must read this tale to know how and why!

In this tale of intrigue and adventure, the paths of these four characters will cross in the most unusual way. Kate DiCamillo masterfully weaves this tale of desire, honor and love! Ultimately you cannot but help fall in love with these characters. You will truly find yourself in an adventure to seek the truth amidst treachery, deceit and temptations.

A classic tale NOT to be missed!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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