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

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The Hula Hoopin’ Queen

The Hula Hoopin’ Queen
by Thelma Lynne Godin (Author), Vanessa Brantley-Newton (Illustrator)


Kameeka has been practicing. She knows that that evening she is going to beat her neighborhood rival Jamara. Everyone on the block will finally agree that Kameeka is the new Hula Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street! But mama reminds her that today is Miz Adeline’s birthday. Miz Adeline has cared for Kameeka since she was a baby. Mama wants the evening to be very special. And Kameeka needs to finish a lot of chores before the birthday party.

The Hula Hoopin Queen preparing cake

Kameeka and her mother set out to prepare for the birthday party. Kameeka sees the day pass her by. Eagerly, she finishes her chores. She sets the oven for baking Miz Adeline’s favorite chocolate strawberry cake. But disaster strikes when mama pulls the cake out. Kameeka set the over too low! The cake is flat!

Kameeka rushes to the grocery. They will have to bake another cake. But just as she is leaving, Kameeka grabs he hula hoop. Outside on the corner of 139th street, Jamara is hula hoopin. She calls out to Kameeka. And that’s when it happens!

Kameeka feels the itch. The hula hoopin’ itch Smile

The Hula Hoopin Queen always ready

“My fingers start snappin’ and my feet start tappin’.

My hips start tappin. My hips start swingin’ and I just know that I’m gonna beat Jamara today.”

Soon the girls are hoopin’ away! Obviously, Kameeka has completely forgotten about her little errand to the store.

This is a heartwarming story about a close knit community and kinship. Godin paints a rich story with clever lively language. Effortlessly, Godin brings together themes of healthy competition and putting one’s own wishes aside for other’s happiness. Newton’s colorful collages completes the picture with paintings of busy streets, stores and curbside scenes.

The Hula Hoopin Queen party

Full of character and spunk, this book has a wonderful ending. Find out who really is the “Hula Hoopin’ Queen” of 139th street!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Bone by Bone

Bone by Bone
by Sara Levine (Author), T.S. Spookytooth (Illustrator)

Comparing Animal Skeletons

What kind of animal would you be if your finger bones grew so long that they reached your feet?

Or what if you had no leg bones but kept your arm bones?

Have you ever wondered what we would look like if we didn’t have any bones at all????

“Bone by Bone” answers all these questions and many more! Author Sarah Levine asks some thought provoking, sometimes silly but mostly informative questions about bones. This engaging nonfiction shares some intriguing facts about how animal questions compare with ours.

Page by page, this little gem of a book, is a perfect book for ages 4+ when it comes to studying the evolution of vertebrates. Every double spread page ends with an interesting question.

Bone by Bone too many bones

This makes for a fantastic read aloud. The question at the end of the page prompts for lots of shout out guesses.. I admit we were left guessing for quite a few of those Smile

What really works for the book is the interesting font types and illustration combination. The regular type font works for informational text and explanations. The second, bolder and larger font type is reserved for the questions themselves and the answers allowing the reader to re-focus on the content.

Bone by Bone bat wings

Every page has silly, whimsical but colorful artwork. The imaginative and original illustrations are funny engaging and eye-catching. A perfect recipe for all things Kid Lit!!

The back notes come with “More About Bones” with a few interesting snippets about bones in general. The “More About Vertebrates” details the five different types of vertebrates and some interesting facts. A glossary completes the book with some definitions for a few scientific words.

Overall, this is a great nonfiction introduction to skeletons and bones for younger kids. What I love is that it also makes for a fantastic read aloud.

Educational and fun!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas
by Lynne Cox (Author), Brian Floca (Illustrator)

Seal in town!

In the town of Christchurch, all the way in New Zealand, there was once an elephant seal. This seal loved to swim in the warm waters of the Avon River. She loved to swim in the rivers sweet, shallow waters. Which was quite unusual for a typical elephant seal!

And every now and then, this seal loved to haul her huge slippery body out of the water and drag herself out to the cool grassy banks. There she would stretch herself out and lady down for a nice nap. If she got too hot, she would dig up some wet dirt and toss them on her back.

Elizabeth Queen of Seas outside

Now to the folks in town, this gentle creature was big, regal, strong and powerful. Just like the Queen of England. And that’s how she got the name “Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas”.

Elizabeth Queen of Seas Sunbathing

One day, Elizabeth dragged herself too far onto the road. Little did she realize that the screeching of the brakes would send her flying off into the water pretty soon!

Elizabeth Queen of Seas on the road

The people of Christchurch decided to send Elizabeth to a safer place.. one where she would belong with other elephant seals. So one day, when Elizabeth was in the river, a group of volunteers approached her in a motor boat. They looped a rope around her body and towed her far away, into the dark cold ocean. At last they reached a sandy beach where other elephant seals lived. There the crew set her free.

At first Elizabeth saw hundreds of seals around. They bellowed and roared, squished and belched. Finally, Elizabeth decided that maybe this was not quite the right place for her. Next day, the people of Christchurch found the friendly, familiar elephant seal back at her favorite spot on the Avon river. Smile

This is a warm tale of a friendship between humans and animals. When we opened the book, we were completely enchanted by Floca’s warm watercolor drawings of the elephant seal. Cox’s writing is straight from the heart. Being a long distance swimmer, she narrates the story of Elizabeth’s long distance swim and what hardship she would have faced in getting back to the warm waters of the Avon river.

Finally, this is a true story. And here she is.. the real Elizabeth, Queen of the seas!

Elizabeth Queen of Seas the real seal

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Stone Giant

Stone Giant
by Jane Sutcliffe (Author), John Shelley (Illustrator)

Michelangelo’s David and how he came to be!

 The enormous block of marble or “giantstood three times taller than the people of the city of Florence. It had been there for the last 40 years! It was worn out and weathered now. But it wasn’t always like that.

In the beginning, the “giant” was part of the big city plan. The people of Florence had wanted it to be the statue of David. They found that the city of Florence was like David in so many ways. Like David, the small city of Florence had fought against bigger, more powerful kingdoms to become a small proud republic.

Stone Giant figuring it out

But things didn’t really turn out as planned!

Now, Michelangelo knew about the giant. His friends from Florence wrote to him and urged him to do something about it. So Michelangelo came.  Immediately, he got to work. He started to measure and inspect. He looked at the weathered and beaten piece of stone that everyone saw. But Michelangelo saw something else. He saw David – “his” David.

Stone Giant trying

“Stone Giant” is a well written, beautifully illustrated book about how “David” came to be. As the story goes, Michelangelo worked over 3 years and chiseled the 18 foot statue until it was finished. Sutcliffe paints a fascinating historical narrative, easy to understand and follow for the youngest of readers.

John Shelley’s well detailed, pen-and-ink, watercolor illustrations add to the Renaissance flavor. And yes, the statue is depicted in its full nudity Smile Sketches of Michelangelo sculpting the various pieces, the people watching in anticipation and the final statue reveal are sure to grab readers attention.

This is a wonderful picture book as an introduction to architecture and culture to every age group. A great book to add to your home library or school library.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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by Connah Brecon (Author, Illustrator)

Late for school… Again!

Frank, a helpful bear, is ALWAYS late for school!Smile

But this is really not his fault!! This happy young bear starts off for school on time. On the way, however, he finds a “reason” to stop. He tries to explain to his teacher his many “reasons”.. but somehow they always come out as excuses!

Frank First Day

On the first day, Frank reached just as everyone was leaving from school! On the second day, he arrived soon after lunch. After all, he was helping the kitten stuck in a tree. On the third day, he reached right before lunch. He couldn’t turn down a challenge to a dance-off ! Smile Frank really is trying to get to school on time, but can he manage to get there before the school bell rings?

Frank Helping Kitty

“Frank!” is a delightful picture book from the Australian Author / Illustrator Connah Brecon.  This funny narrative of a lovable bear who is chronically late to school is immediately relatable to kids and parents both! The various excuses or reasons the bear narrates are funny and charming. The tale ends with a surprise which leads you to believe that maybe there is truth in all those unusual stories!

Frank Explain

Connah’s quirky artwork draws you in. The bright colorful artwork with dialogue talk bubbles are reminiscent of Mo Willems’ work.

Overall a nice fun read!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

FTC DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of “Frank!” 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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From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers

From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers
by Christine Paxmann (Author), Anne Ibelings  (Illustrator)

Architecture for Children

 Journey into the history of architecture. In “Mud Huts to Skyscrapers”, Author Christine Paxmann and Illustrator Anne Ibelings, give you an historical perspective on the evolution of architecture over time.

This gorgeous and enormous picture book opens with an introduction from author Christine Paxmann. Christine shares that there are buildings that every child is familiar with. Then there are structures that began as a style and became iconic in history. Other structures are more a reflection of the people who built them. No matter how you see them, these amazing structures and buildings are not just of historical significance but also a peek into culture.

From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers Ancient

What follows is a chronological introduction to architecture, from Egyptian pyramids to environment friendly Eco-architectural structures. A two full-page color spread opens with the first man made huts built around 400,000 years ago. Each double page spread focuses on a single building or structure. Detailed beautiful drawings of the buildings adorn the pages. A short narrative answers questions such us how long ago was it built and where is it on the map? Who built it and why? What purpose did these structures fulfill? Were these typical to a country or did others adopt these architectural capabilities?

From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers Caves

At the bottom of each page are bullet points that cover interesting architectural facts of the structure. Here’s an example:

From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers Details2

We fell in love with this book! “From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers” covers many iconic buildings such as the Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal and the Sydney Opera House. In terms of styles, the book covers Baroque, Gothis, Art Deco and Bauhaus. Towards the end, the book introduces how architects are looking at futuristic designs and eco-architectures such as flood houses and vertical gardens. The end pages captures the entire architectural history with a brief summary on a timeline. A glossary explains words commonly used in understanding architecture.

From Mud Huts to Skyscrapers Back

This book is a keeper. A book to keep in your home library for kids of all ages and adults too!

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World

Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World
by Steve Jenkins (Author, Illustrator)

“Eye Catching!!”

From Caldecott award winning Author-Illustrator, Steve Jenkins, comes this non-fiction picture book “Eye to Eye”. Steve Jenkins showcases some amazing animals with extraordinary eyes. Who knew the many amazing ways that different creatures actually “see” things! 

This book is a quick primer on the evolution of eyes! In “Eye to Eye”, the author dives into the many unusual, surprising ways that animals visualize the world around them. This picture book opens with a quick introduction on how vision is critical to creatures no matter what habitat they adapt to. He mentions how animals differ in their vision from just telling dark from light to a sophisticated vision of seeing colors and depth (like humans).

The earliest eyes, according to the author, were the simplest cluster of light sensitive cells called as an eyespot. These didn’t form images but could detect light. A “Pinhole” eye is a small opening which can form detail images but don’t admit much light. So the images are not very clear. “Compound” eyes (think dragon-fly) are composed of hundreds of little eyes which capture lots of detail. And finally there are the camera eyes that employ a lens to focus light on the retina and allow to capture detail as well as depth!

Eye to Eye how many eyes

Other than introducing the four types of eyes, Steve Jenkins talks about the biggest eye, moving eyes, extra eyes, independent eyes, 360 degree eyes, rainbow vision eyes and many more surprising and fascinating eyes! From jumping stick insects to buzzards, Jenkins highlights 24 amazing and diverse creatures with diverse ways to see.

Eye to Eye two way plus one

Double page spreads with realistic cut-out colorful pictures surround small snippets of information. What we really liked are the brief notes in each page, just the right amount of information which does not get overwhelming but keeps it interesting at the same time. 

At the end, the author includes an infographic about the evolution of eye, from a single eye spot to a complex sophisticated camera eye. This part was a great read for a scientific dive into the subject. A glossary of animal facts gives us a quick look at all the 24 animals/creatures covered in the book.

A masterfully done non-fiction picture book, “Eye to Eye”! DO NOT MISS! 

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books

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Erandi’s Braids

Erandi’s Braids
by Antonio Hernandez Madrigal (Author), Tomie dePaola (Illustrator)

A Mexican Folktale!

In the hills of Mexico, in the village of Patzcuaro, lives a little girl called Erandi. Erandi is excited. Tomorrow is her birthday! Erandi dreams of a lovely yellow dress that she saw at Senora Andrea’s shop. She wants to wear it for the village fiesta. Mama is going to take her there tomorrow.

Erandis Braids Mama

But she knows not to expect too much. Mama needs money for a new fishing net. Would Mama have enough to buy the new net and buy the dress? Erandi is not so sure.

Erandis Braids Yello Dress

A loudspeaker blares “Hair! Hair! We pay the best prices for your hair.” Erandi is curious and asks her Mama, “What is that about Mama?” Mama explains that the local barber pays good money for their hair. She tells Erandi that people come from the city to buy their hair. “Why do people want to buy our hair” asks Erandi. “They say it’s the longest and most beautiful hair. They use it to make wigs, eyelashes and fancy embroidery” Mama explains. The announcement gives Mama an idea..

Next day Mama takes Erandi to Senora Andrea’s shop. Right away Erandi spots the beautiful doll at the shop. Mama asks Erandi what she wants for her birthday. Erandi is in a fix. She really wants the doll but she knows she can’t have both the doll and her dress. So she points to the yellow dress instead.

As soon as they leave the shop, Mama announces to Erandi “Now we are going to the barber shop”. Erandi is surprised. She is crest-fallen thinking about the barber’s scissors on her hair. Will here Mama really sell her beautiful long braids?

Erandis Braids Barber shop

This is a touching tale of love and sacrifice. The concept of selflessness is not new. However, Madrigal captures this wonderfully in this folktale from Mexico.  In his author’s notes, Madrigal explains, that around 19950’s, the Tarascan women used to sell hair routinely for money.  Tomie dePaola’s signature art brings life to this story. The earthy hues of browns and blues captures the culture of the superbly.

A strong story of values of love and sacrifice.

Find it here: Library, Amazon, Better World Books


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