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

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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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Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express

Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express
by Margaret K. Wetterer (Author), Karen Ritz (Illustrator)


This is a true story of a girl who saved many lives during a raging storm in Iowa in 1881.

Kate Shelley lived with her mother and younger siblings on a farm in Iowa. Their house overlooked the railroad line which ran over a bridge built on top of Honey Creek river.

On July 6th, 1881, a terrible storm raged and hit the Des Moines River valley.  Rain poured all day long. Kate and her family watched as the river water kept rising in the Honey Creek. And soon enough the river flooded the banks and the yard.

Kate ran to help the barn animals. She let the horses go to higher grounds and rescued the piglets and led them indoors into their house. But the rain kept pouring.  Flood water kept creeping closer to their house. It was dark outside now and when the lightning flashed, Kate could see the rail tracks shining in the light. But she wondered about how the bridge itself was holding up in the storm?

Kate Shelley looking at the bridge

As the family sat down for dinner, Kate voiced her concerns. Kate knew that the Midnight Express would pass through Moingona station (near her house) and it would not stop there. She knew that it would cross the bridge over Honey Creek bridge. But was the bridge safe enough?

Shortly after 11:00pm, Kate and her mother heard the railroad men coming by on an engine to check whether the tracks and the bridges were safe for the Midnight Express. Suddenly, Kate heard a terrible crack and a splash. She knew that the bridge had broken!

Kate Shelley bridge cracking

Kate knew that the engine and the railroad men had fallen into the raging river. She knew that she simply had to go and get help to save the men. Not just that, now that the bridge had gone under, she must find a way to stop the Midnight Express carrying large number of passengers from passing the Moingona station.

But will she be able to get there in time? And how will she be able to navigate the thundering storm and pouring rain to get to the station? Kate must fight wind, rain and darkness and make her way over another bridge to get to the station.

Kate Shelley crossing bridge

This true story about bravado and courage of a 15 year old girl, should be a read aloud in every household! Written in simple narrative, the story is easy to understand for young readers.  This is a great story to talk about character development and teach about personality traits. It also makes a great conversation starter for teaching children about all the other people who build their careers around saving lives.

DD and I loved reading this story. We discussed what we could do in times of emergencies and we also talked about how we could help others during trying times.

So many lessons from one true story! 

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Red Kite, Blue Kite

Red Kite, Blue Kite
by Ji-li Jiang (Author), Greg Ruth (Illustrator)

 A tale of optimism

I first came across this book at Non Fiction Monday event hosted by a group of children’s literature bloggers. Perogyo’s lovely blog featured “Red Kite Blue Kite” as a celebration for Father’s Day this year. And since reading her review on the book, I have been waiting to read it myself.

“Red Kite, Blue Kite” is a story of a little boy, Tai Shan and his father, Baba and their love for flying kites. Their Red and Blue kites bob up and down, backwards and forwards. From the rooftops, the city looks small, the people look like ants. Up in the sky the kites fly free. Up on the rooftops, Tai Shan feels free. As they fly their kites, Baba tells Tai Shan stories.

Red Kite Blue Kite together

But hard times are coming. The Cultural Revolution sweeps the country. Tai Shan’s school is shut down and he sees people wearing red armbands everywhere. Families are broken. Tai Shan is separated from his father.

Red Kit Blue Kite going away

Baba is sent to a labor camp and Tai Shan has to go live with a granny near the labor camp. Fortunately, Baba comes to visit Tai Shan every Sunday and then they climb the hills, fly their kites and forget about their worries. Baba tells Tai Shan stories that make him proud.

Red Kite Blue Kite when will you be back

But soon things get worse and Baba is not able to visit Tai Shan anymore. As Tai Shan looks to the sky and flies his Red Kite every day, he wonders when he will be able to see his Baba again?

This is a beautiful poignant tale of family, a tale about parent and child bonding. The setting is a dark one, the Chinese Cultural Revolution was a time when millions of people were persecuted and a large number of population was displaced. But “Red Kite Blue Kite” focuses on hope, on optimism. It introduces an important event in history through Tai Shan’s point of view. Ji-li Jiang’s narrative is simple yet strong. Written in first person from Tai Shan’s point of view is an amazing way to engage an early reader into the tale.

Red Kite Blue Kite together at last

Greg Ruth’s pen and watercolor illustrations feature realistic depiction of the events. The images keep the strong negative events in the background, highlighting the more positive aspects or emotions in the foreground.

It is easy to see why this book deserves merit. Whether you read it because it is a powerful tale about a father and son bond, or because it is about a historic event, you will be moved.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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