Food Fun

As you may have noticed, I have been focusing more on making videos and writing than on reviewing books. This is temporary as I am focusing on my creative projects before Parkinson’s makes them impossible. It is becoming a more difficult struggle and so I am feeling a time constraint. However, I am still open to accepting print books for review and will post my review other places as well if so requested. Here is the information you need to submit a book for review.

https://bferrante.wordpress.com/2016/07/09/get-featured-on-my-blog/

Check out my latest endeavor  on my YouTube channel. If you haven’t subscribed to my Channel, please do and share it with your friends.

Rhymes and Songs About Food

Traditional rhymes with a new twist using Lego and graphics.

Suitable for ages 3 and up.

Fairy in Waiting by Sophie Kinsella. Illustrated by Marta Kissi. Book Review.

 This  popular humor writer now has two children’s books. Both feature a girl whose mother is a fairy and father is  a mortal. This isn’t your typical fairy story however, as she uses a computerized wand and presents herself as a normal woman most of the time. The husband is reminiscent of the early Bewitched  television series. He’s not too crazy about her using magic.

  Kinsella  uses humor and suspense  effectively and engages a young audience from the first page. My almost six year old granddaughter listened eagerly as I read this book to her in four sittings.  This early chapter book is supplemented with many pictures.

 If you are a traveler to resorts, you’ll chuckle at the scene where two fairy mothers have a wand battle over reserving poolside seats with their towels. There is also a chapter with wacky monkeys that children will love.

All in all, this is a light-hearted romp through modern magic and family dynamics.

Pushball A Game That’s Tasty to Eat! by Thomas Leavey. Illustrated by John Buck. Book review.

 

I procrastinated reviewing this book for quite some time because I was unsure what to  say about it. I read it a few times to my granddaughter and  solicited feedback from others.

The storyline is quite peculiar. A duck tries to get a groundhog to play Pushball with a giant ball. The groundhog dislikes the game and wants to eat the ball. The game does not go very well; the groundhog thinks it is too rough. At the end the groundhog eats the entire ball which swells him to four times his natural size.

The story is written in humorous rhyme abcb. Each page has from 1 to 3 quatrains. Here’s an example.

 The groundhog was puzzled

And stopped in his tracks.

He said, *that’s what I get (sic)

 for playing with quacks!”

 There are 42 quatrains in total which seems more than necessary for such a simple story.

The author explains on the last two pages that the moral of the story is “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.” Then he explains  each animal’s secret for success.  This felt a little awkward.

However, the other reviews on Amazon  are all five stars. But the people I shared this with felt more like I did. My granddaughter thought it was funny and strange but long and wasn’t interested in subsequent readings.

 The illustrations are great. Vivid, lively and funny.

I have mixed feelings about this book.

Toy Review – 48 Lego Compatible Homecoming Community Figures

Durability Four stars. They are made out of hard plastic. Only time will tell if the paint is durable or not.
 
Play quality Three stars. A big part of the fun of Lego characters is taking them apart and creating new characters. My granddaughter loves to switch heads, bodies, capes and accessories. Unfortunately, these are brutally difficult to put together and probably just as hard to get apart. Switching the pieces is not something a child will be able to do.  They are also quite stiff and it is very difficult to move the arms. Needs even more diversity.
 
Safety  Five stars. They seem pretty safe but are definitely not for children under 3 years of age.
 
Age interest Three stars. Children will definitely miss the fun of taking them apart and be frustrated by their rigidity. Accessories seem random. Where’s the torch for the statue of liberty and the paint brush for the artist?
Storage and portability Four stars.  They are small enough to put in a pocket or packsack however they should be stored in their own little bag. Small pieces would be easy to lose.
Price Five stars. At less than $2 each for the final cost they are a steal.
 
Cautiously recommended.
For pictures of all the characters and how they are assembled please go to my short YouTube video here. https://youtu.be/OBkl1I8nkGs

Mich and Moose Adventures by Vince Cleghorne. Book Review.

BUY LINK

This 8 by 10 picture book is a humorous take on problem solving and helping others. Mich is a girl and Moose is, well, a moose. They are best friends and love snowy days. At the beginning of the book they show us all the wonderful ways they enjoy winter snow. Note: the child is not dressed for winter. As a northerner,  I snorted at the picture of her with bare legs and no coat or hat making a snow angel. Point out to children that this is not reality and they do have to dress for the weather.

Anyway, Moose and Mich find someone who is not enjoying winter at all. Spinner the spider is unable to stick her web anywhere because everything is icy. Mich and Moose try to attach it to a dozen places, each more zany and imaginative than the last. At this point the author changed the writing style to rhyme. At first I thought this wasn’t necessary but on subsequent reads I realized it adds a sense of fun and adventure to the quest even though some rhymes are a bit of a stretch. At the end, they find the perfect spot for the web.

This book is a  fun journey into silliness but can also be used as a jumping off point to learn about spiders. Where are spiders in the winter? Why don’t children see their webs anywhere?

The illustrations are cheerful and expressive. Some will make children laugh out loud. If you have a  reluctant reader who has a taste for silliness, this is a book that will grab their attention.

Best Books I’ve Reviewed in 2018

These were my favorite books I reviewed in 2018. Click on the titles to go to the complete review.

Adult Books

When by Daniel H. Pink. 

It will give you insights into time that you never considered and strategies that will make your days more successful.

The Sherrif’s Catch by James Valla-Bardon. The Sassana Stone Pentalogy. 

This is a robust and gruesome tale of a Spanish soldier, Abel de Santiago, a gifted sharpshooter, seeking revenge for the murder of his wife. Anything and everything horrible that can happen to this man, does.

Young Adult/Junior Grade Books

Laura Monster Crusher by Wesley King. 

This will be a favorite with readers who love fantasy and unusual female heroes.

Picture Books

Bloom – A Story of Fashion Designer Elsa Schiaparelli by Kyo Maclear and Julie Morstad.

This is a 8X10 picture book that tells the story of a fascinating and unique individual, Elsa Schiaparelli. It begins in early childhood where we learned that Elsa was a disappointment to her parents because they wanted a boy and she wasn’t as pretty as her sister. This compelled Elsa her to examine the concept of beauty.

Davy’s Pirate Ship Adventure by Danual Berkley. Illustrated by Amariah Rauscher. 

I knew I’d like this author the moment I read the dedication. Simple words with a powerful, important message.

Backyard Fairies by Phoebe Wahl. 

This is a delightful picture book for the imaginative child. There are only a few words on each page; the detailed and intriguing gardens filled with secretive hidden fairies dominate.

Duck, Duck, Moose by Joy Heyer.

This is a delightful picture book about missing a friend.My granddaughter found this book very engaging and loved the humorous bits as well as the emotional moments. Highly recommended.

Good Morning, Snowplow! by Deborah Bruss. Illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson. Book Review.

 

Buy link http://a.co/d/0IgU5rc

Good Morning Snowplow! is a gently engaging and reassuring picture book about a snow plow operator clearing the streets at night while everyone else sleeps. It has a poetic rhythm with rhyming couplets and smooth cadence.

It begins with a snowplow worker leaving his home. He carries a small lunch box and is accompanied by a doleful looking brown dog. The worker carefully checks his machinery before moving the vehicle and then step by step begins his methodical, important  routine.

The lines are beautifully poetic as the plow breakthrough obstacles.

“Waves of white curl off the blade.

 In its wake, a trail is  laid.”

As someone who has spent a great deal of time driving after dark through snow, I can connect easily with the text, but anyone who has never experienced a northern winter would feel as though they were sitting in the passenger seat.

I especially like that this book draws attention to an overlooked but essential job. Sometimes the snowplow worker is vilified instead of honored for his/her tremendously important work. Children should be taught to appreciate everyone who contributes to the safety and well-being of others.

The illustrations are an ideal match to the text. You can almost reach out and catch a snowflake. The muted colors and a dominant blue portray a silent winter evening perfectly.

I like that when the snowplow worker exited the truck to see what was happening, he kept his dog on a leash. Small details like that are important in children’s books.

One thing that struck me as odd was the necessary use of commas  in parts.

“Goodnight, homes, and goodnight, cars.”

The words and the pictures worked together to slow the pace and give the other world sensation of a night job. Extra commas just seemed awkward.

 All in all, this is a wonderful book to add to a child’s library. A different take on that fierce and fascinating season called winter.

Little Miss History Travels to the North Pole by Barbara Mojica. Book Review.

This is another picture book in the series by Barbara Ann Mojica where a character named Little Miss History journeys to interesting places in the United States and around the world. She doesn’t just focus on history but also explores  the environment, culture, and more. In this book she shares the factual and the mythic facets of the North Pole.

Children will be fascinated by some of the facts in this text. For example, unlike Antarctica the North Pole has no land mass. It also has no time  Zone. There are a surprising number of living creatures in this frigid place. Kids who like to learn unusual information will enjoy this book.

No one owns the North Pole. Mojica examines the history and politics in a simple and informative way.

Mojica writes: “Sunrise and sunset come once a year. The North Pole receives six months of daylight and six months of darkness.” You will have to explain that this is not the same in the entire Arctic Circle. There, people experience months of Twilight where it is halfway between night and day. There is even some disagreement between scientists as to whether the North Pole has full darkness for 6 months and full light for 6 months.

 Of course, since this is a picture book for small children, the inevitable question of Santa Claus will come up. Mojica talks about the various Saint Nicks through history and in different cultures without damaging a child’s belief.

The book ends with the one-page glossary of words such as indigenous and mammals.

Another fun and informative book that would make a great gift.

BUY LINK http://a.co/d/gWxCyP1

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Check out my video with your child.

A Christmas wonderland made from Legos tells short visual stories while the music for We Wish You a Merry Christmas plays. Words appear on the screen. Then the music takes a more lively twist while the history of the song is revealed. Lego enthusiasts will be inspired to make their own winter town.

 

Notice that the carollers have the actual words to the song on the booklets.