A Fairy AND a Princess – The Very Fairy Princess: A Spooky, Sparkly Halloween by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton. Illustrated by Christine Davenier. Book Review.

 Click here to buy The Very Fairy Princess: A Spooky, Sparkly Halloween

This book is one in a collection of Very Fairy Princess books written by Julie Andrews and her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. Yes, I already reviewed one of her books, Dumpy to the Rescue, but it was so awful I thought I’d give her another chance.

In this book, she has taken two things that little girls love, fairies and princesses, merged them together and built a business of picture books, music, a television series, and even a writing course for authors. Her books are advertised as a #1 New York Times Best-selling Series. When scanning the list of books, you immediately realized that they are all written to help children in socially difficult situations such as the end of the school year, losing the class pet, and not being chosen to sing the solo.

In this particular story, Gerry, who is a princess with actual fairy wings, uses a white sheet to dress as an angel for Halloween. When her best friend, Delilah, wears a dentist uniform that becomes covered in ketchup, Gerry uses her ingenuity and generosity to save the day. She transforms her sheet into a tooth costume for her friend. Together they morph Gerry into the tooth fairy. The girls win a big box of chocolates for creative teamwork. I love the message that friendship and compassion are more important than looking good.

If the other books are like this one, I think they would be enjoyed by little girls and beneficial to their social development. The story was suspenseful; my granddaughter was quite concerned when Delilah’s costume was ruined just before the parade. The text is longer and the vocabulary is a bit more advanced than I would have expected for the target audience, but with adult assistance shouldn’t be a problem.

The pictures are created with soft pastels with a lot of pink and purple. The one thing I noticed was that in the classroom scenes I could only find one child of color. Perhaps Christine Davenier could be more conscious of diversity in her illustrations.

I will be reviewing other books written by celebrities in January. It will be interesting to see if celebrity authors develop a series of books like Julie Andrews or just a one-shot affair and if they have a message they want to spread.

By the way, this was about as “spooky” as a week old kitten.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Is There Really a Human Race? By Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell. Book Review.

 Click here to buy Is There Really a Human Race?

I thought this book was going to be about race relations but it was actually a play on the words “human race”. It begins at a park where a little boy asks his mother, “Is there really human race.”

The next page reads, “Is it going on now all over the place? When did it start? Who said, ‘Ready, Set, Go’?”

He continues talking about warm-ups, coaches, practicing and training. He asks about location, participants, winners and losers, rules, and if they are all going to crash.

Then it reads, “Sometimes it’s better not to go fast. There are beautiful sites to be seen when you’re last. Shouldn’t it be that you just try your best? And that’s more important than beating the rest? Shouldn’t it be looking back at the end that you judge her own race by the help that you lend.” It continues in this theme until the last line says, “and make the world a better place for the whole human race.”

The words were clever, well paced, rhythmic, and important. The rhyming was flawless. The message was delivered beautifully.

The book was illustrated by Laura Cornell who used pencil and watercolor. The pictures were full of dynamic and zany movement. Many of the pages had stories within the illustrations. Some crowded double-page spreads took quite a while to absorb. She definitely got across the idea of the insanity of competition and pushing ourselves as fast as possible.

Inside the back cover is a “world yearbook” that features various pictures of children and their career choices such as tech support, circus clown, mud brick master, astronaut, career criminal, clog dancer and nuclear physicist. Every portrait is bursting with personality.

All in all, this was a wonderful surprise. Highly recommended.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Poppa’s Goat written by Gary Hutchison. Illustrated by Gordon Court. Book Review.

This picture book tells the story of a grandfather who is fed up with the mess the paperboy makes delivering flyers. Instead of coming to the front door, the boy leaves the flyers on the front lawn where they blow all over the yard. Poppa’s granddaughter, Madeleine, comes to visit and misunderstands the phrase, “paperboy really gets his goat.”

Madeleine and Poppa build a box for the paperboy’s flyers and attach it to the fence in the front yard. Unfortunately, robins come and build a nest in the box so the papers wind up everywhere again. Madeleine and Poppa pick up the papers and create a papier-mâché figure representing the paperboy. The grandfather gives it to the dog who tears it to pieces. Funny and a little bit creepy at the same time.

Finally, the grandfather takes Madeline and their dog Stanley to a farm where they purchase a goat as a pet. Poppa specifically wants Little Goat to live in the backyard and eat the grass. But every Thursday, “he will go in the front yard and eat the flyers the paperboy puts on the ground. Goats love to eat paper.” The goat performs as expected. Madeleine and her grandparents celebrate with chocolate milk. The little goat curls up with the dog to sleep.

The illustrations are excellent. Gordon Court has an interesting angular style of drawing. Although the pictures are probably done on computer they feel close to hand drawn pen and ink outlines with color and shading.

The story is cute and funny and lends itself well to discussions of idioms, problem solving, and the raising of goats. On that last subject, please be sure to explain to the child that although goats love paper, giving it to them in great bunches as a regular diet is a bad idea. The paper has no nutritional value and a kid (baby goat) with a full stomach will not be able to eat his proper food to aid in growth. Eating too much paper can cause a blockage in the goat’s bowels, a major threat to his life. Flyers often contain toxic ink and full colored glossy pages are particularly poisonous. As well it looks like Poppa lives in the city where having a goat for a pet is not ideal. Be sure to explain to your child that this story is written just in fun.

The relationship between Madeleine and grandparents is positive and heartwarming. Perhaps you and your child could brainstorm as to how the two of them could solve this problem in a different way such as putting up a “No flyers please.” sign or hanging a paper box with a lid.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Check-Up: Oldbridge Tales by Mark Daydy. Illustrated by Mike Daydy. Book Review.

Book buy link http://a.co/ixsNgfz

Because of the differences in terminology the author and the illustrator have created an American version and an English version of the story. The book still has a definitely British feel to it. For example the taxi is black, I learned recently that they’re called “black cabs” and the protagonist, Jake, who seems to be a delivery truck, is yellow like North American taxis.

The story is fairly simple. Jake has smoke coming out of his engine but is afraid to go for a check-up. His friend, Sylvester, follows him around town telling everyone that Jake needs to go for a check-up. Jake refuses to listen insisting that he is too busy. But when his engine begins to choke up he realizes the seriousness of the situation and goes to the garage. He learns that all he needs is a new air filter, a painless experience. The story ends with Sylvester starting to smoke and Jake bugging him to go for a check-up. It could be quite funny if it is read with suitable expression.

The cars are old-fashioned cars, I think from the 30s, I’m not a car person so I don’t know for sure. This gives the book a certain charm. The illustrations by Mike Daydy are computer graphics. He does a good job of giving the cars expression. I would suggest that he vary the point of view of the illustration as most of them are taken from above looking down at an angle.

I think the story has two messages, one for children and one for adults. For children, the story reassures them that going to the doctor is usually not nearly as dramatic as they expect. For adults, it’s a reminder not to ignore symptoms that could be warnings of something more serious and that checkups for breast cancer or prostate cancer should never be postponed.

Children who enjoy books about cars may not even realize this book is actually about taking care of our bodies and our health. This could be a good thing for some children who don’t like to talk about going to the doctor. Sometimes a covert approach is the best.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library by Linda Bailey. Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson. Book Review.

The Tiny Hero contains well-done black and white illustrations for each chapter.  There are 324 pages but the type is large and well spaced. This book is immediately engaging. Even though it is written for children ages seven to twelve, I was completely hooked.

The reader can’t help but love the little hero, Eddie, a tiny bug who braves the huge halls of the school, dodging a spider, a mouse, and lots of squishers (humans who stomp on bugs), in order to find his missing aunt.

Aunt Min is special. She has taught Eddie to read and told him many stories she overheard in the school library. These are books every child should experience from the works of Dr. Seuss to E.B. White. Avid readers will nod their heads with understanding whenever these books are mentioned. You may want to find those you haven’t read.

The novel supports reading and libraries at a time when many are shrinking or disappearing. Little Eddie reminds us of all the reasons we love a children’s library and why it cannot be replaced by a computer terminal.

The first quest for Eddie is to save his aunt and then protect his foolish little cousin who has followed him. The second one is to save the library from a substitute librarian (sister of a powerful administrator) who wants to board up its beautiful windows, remove all the books, and turn it into something less expensive. It seems an impossible task for a little bug to stop the demise of the beloved library when even the principal has trouble asserting himself but Eddie is committed and clever.

This endearing, suspenseful, and thoughtful book will connect with children and parents alike. There are acts of courage and sacrifice, a great deal of humor, subtle ethical topics, and tributes to our most cherished children’s books. I love how we see the world through the eyes of a small, defenseless creature who only wants to survive with his family. (A good discussion could follow about how some humans are “squishers” of small insects and how this contrasts with the compassion other people show to the small and defenseless.)

This book doesn’t touch on the topic of bullying but I believe if children are taught to show kindness to the smallest and most helpless, they are less likely to bully others or to be speciest. Little Eddie and his family are adorable ambassadors for compassion.

Highly recommended. Buy link http://a.co/bOOONR1

I was given a copy of this book for review.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

New Video – The Sense of Smell

This is the script for the video for primary/junior students.

The video is here. https://youtu.be/fLsywvtkWDY

The sense of smell

Did you watch the video on the sense of taste? Then you already know smell is an important part of tasting. But your sense of smell is also important for other reasons.

Your sense of smell can find and identify odors. Odors are things you can smell. There is a big word for this sense – olfaction.

Our sense of smell can keep us safe.

The odor of rotting or moldy food will warn us not to eat it.

Smelling food can help us decide if it is something safe to eat.

A person’s odour can also help doctors treat an illness or injury. Sometimes they can smell an infection.

Our sense of smell can warn us of dangerous gases.

The odour of smoke warns us that a fire is near.

We may not know it, but our sense of smell can also warn us if someone is angry or upset. Their odor will change.

Other people’s odours help us to decide if we want to spend more time with them.

What you eat will change the way you smell to others. You might love the taste of garlic but other people might think it makes you stink.

Every single person smells differently from everybody else. We all have a special odor. If you cover up a baby’s eyes, it will know which person is their mother just from smelling their mother’s skin.

There is a big word for the sense of smell. Olfaction.

Where does olfaction happen? Up inside your nose. There are two patches called olfactory receptors. They work with your brain to figure out smells.

People have a pretty good sense of smell. We have about five or 6 million yellowish cells on our olfactory receptors.

But many animals have a stronger sense of smell than we do.

A rabbit needs to have a good sense of smell to survive. It has about 100 million of those olfactory receptors. This helps them to smell food like wild cabbage and to smell danger like foxes.

Dogs have an amazing sense of smell. A dog has about 220 million olfactory receptors. That is why they make such excellent trackers for finding lost children by using their sense of smell.

Bears have even a much better sense of smell than dogs. That’s why they are so good at hunting food. That is why you should not keep snacks or even soap that has a yummy odour inside your tent when you’re camping. You don’t want to have a night time visit from a hungry bear!

Women and girls have a better sense of smell than men and boys.

Everyone doesn’t like the same smells. Some people are even allergic to certain smells.

Perfume and hairspray can give some people headaches, make their eyes and nose run, or even make it hard for them to breathe. If you are going to be in a crowded place, don’t wear perfume or cologne.

Some places like schools and hospitals have signs that say “scent free zone”. This means you are not allowed to wear strong smells like perfume because it might may someone sick.

People spend a lot of money trying to make themselves smell good to other people but there is no way to tell how others can smell you. However, if you do not want to smell bad, being clean is important.

Brush your teeth after every meal.

Wash your hands carefully after using the toilet or playing outside.

Shower or bathe often with warm water and soap and especially after you have been sweating.

Some people like to put herbs in their bathwater because the smell of vanilla or lavender can be very relaxing.

Smells of nature can make you feel good. Trees and other plants help to clean the air and make it smell healthy. Open your window to give your room a fresh, healthy smell.

Here is a smell experiment you can try. Have someone put a different scent on individual cotton balls by soaking up liquid or rubbing it against a solid. Keep them in separate sealed plastic bags or jars. However, if you are going to use something powdery or small, like a spice, be careful about inhaling it. Only put it in a jar with a top with tiny holes or gauze on top.

You can try vanilla, coffee, chocolate and more. I will give you a list of ideas. You try to figure out the smells or you can have two of each one and match them up. Make itsure you don’t look. Wear a blindfold.

Things can happen that makes our sense of smell weaken.

People lose much of their sense of smell when they get old and when they have certain illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease.

Head injuries can damage your sense of smell. Be sure to wear a proper helmet when playing risky sports.

You might not be able to smell very well if you have a cold. But it will return when you feel better.

Allergies, just like colds, can make it hard to smell odours.

Smoking will really damage your sense of smell.

Take care of your sense of smell and it will help to take care of you.

Ideas for Your Experiment

vanilla, coffee, chocolate, lavender, spices, dish soap, shampoo, garlic, onion, herbs, vinegar, pickle juice, ketchup, fruit peelings, sawdust or wood chips, a flower, cut grass, baby powder, cornstarch, pine needles, hay, candy, perfume, toothpaste, wet teabag, icing sugar, lemon juice, lime juice, soy sauce, butter, pepper, salt, soil.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Seasons of Joy: Every Day is For Outdoor Play written and illustrated by Claudia Marie Lenart.

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Amazon BUY LINK http://a.co/ehGY3qn 

I previously reviewed a book that was illustrated by Lenart. I loved the illustrations and was greatly impressed by its uniqueness. I gave the book 5 stars. This picture book is Lenart’s first attempt at writing as well as illustrating. I am very pleased to see that she has competence in both areas.

The book explores the four seasons, three pages dedicated to each one. The story is written in poetic prose and although there are occasional rhymes, it does not try to be a rhyming book. On each page, children participate in imaginative, child driven, outdoor activities. For example, in spring, they play like otters in the water, create a fairy bed, and pretend they can fly like the butterflies. All the activities the children do are either free or inexpensive. All they need is a safe space outside and an imagination.

The prose is lovely.

“We sway to the wind’s song under crimson showers.”

“We play until the sun paints the trees a copper hue.”

The illustrations are even lovelier. I am amazed at what this artist can do with fibers. The deer looks as though it could leap off the page. The children are innocent and adorable without being saccharine. Many of the pictures would make beautiful prints for a nursery. I especially love the winter scene with the falling snow.

Highly recommended.

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for a review.

CLICK ON THE BOOK COVERS FOR MORE INFO OR TO BUY.

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Link to Prince Preemie review http://wp.me/p1OfUU-2nF

COME BACK TOMORROW FOR AN INTERVIEW WITH Claudia Marie Lenart.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

The McVentures of Me, Morgan McFactoid – Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow! by Mark S. Waxman. Book Review.

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This is a humorous novel written for Junior grade children.

Morgan is a loner, not by choice but because he doesn’t seem to fit into the social landscape around him. He has a special relationship with his grandfather, Poppy, who encourages Morgan’s experimentation and attempts to invent new things.

Unfortunately, Morgan’s school life is dominated by a bully named Buckholtz. The bully is jealous that Morgan is already shaving and continually threatens him. This culminates in a promise to beat Morgan and shave his face and head. Morgan decides to invent a product that will remove facial hair without shaving. He believes if his red whiskers disappear, Buckholtz, who is three years older, will not feel the need to pummel him. However, because of the storm, his formula is changed and Morgan discovers something that is worth even more money than a hair removal product.

In the midst of all of this, a beautiful, smart and popular girl named Robin moves across the street. Morgan is shocked by her friendliness and her ability to spout random facts like he does. But Robin has mixed feelings about Morgan and his invention. Things get even more complicated when investors begin to bribe, woo, and threaten Morgan. In the end, Morgan has to decide what he values most.

Kids will love the humor, ethos, bumbling affection, and random facts scattered throughout this book. Morgan is a lovable and relatable character. Morgan’s final decision is sure to spark some interesting conversations. Well recommended.

Buy link. 

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Wolfie by Ame Dyckman. Book Review.

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 Click here to buy Wolfie the Bunny

Ame Dyckman answers the ever puzzling question of nature versus nurture. She comes down squarely on the side of nurture.

In this story, a wolf pup is left on the doorstep of a rabbit family. Mama and Papa instantly love the baby wolf but their daughter, Dot, lives in terror of being eaten. Wolfie, who constantly wears a pink bunny onesie, adores Dot and follows her everywhere. The wolf is raised on carrots but still grows to be more than twice the size of Dot who continues to keep her eye on him. When a bear tries to eat Wolfie, mistaking him for a pink bunny, Dot comes to her adopted brother’s rescue. After this, Wolfie adores her even more and Dot accepts and trusts him.

This is an hilarious story about the power of love and inclusion.

OHora outlines his characters in thick black lines. He uses only yellow, cream, white, green, black, red, pink, and grey in his pallet. There is no blue, purple, or brown. It gives the pictures a soft, sweet tone.

Whenever Dot is claiming, “He’s going to eat us all up!” the font changes, the letters are in bold text, and words are out of alignment. This brings home her dramatic terror.

This combination of writing and illustration has produced a book that is sure to be a family favorite.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Buddy’s New Friend by P.T. Finch. Book Review.


If you are thinking of getting a dog and already have a cat, this is the perfect book to share with your children before hand. The author understands animals and deals with them compassionately.

Buddy’s New Friend buy link

The children realize that Buddy, their cat, is lonely when everyone is away. (Although cats are not pack animals, they are mentally healthier with another animal.) The family decides to get Buddy a dog for company. When one of the children suggests a pet store the father says, “Well, the pet store is one place to get a dog. But I think it would be nice to visit an animal shelter.” I inwardly cheered. Most people don’t realize that pet stores often get their dogs from puppy mills where females are bred to death, dogs are kept in crowded dirty cages, and animals are not given veterinarian care. Mommy explains that shelters are for dogs and cats who need a good home. This makes the children even more enthusiastic.

At the shelter, the children play with the puppies. Then they notice an older dog. The caretaker explains that it is a gentle, quiet dog so they take him. How wonderful! Older dogs are usually put down because everyone wants a puppy. I love that this book encourages people to think differently.

Unfortunately, the new dog, named Sam, behaves in a way that upsets the cat. Buddy becomes distressed and afraid. The little girl cries because she thinks Sam will be sent back to the shelter but these parents know what they are doing. They work with the pets to help them accept each other. In the end, the dog and cat are friends. Fabulous.

The author then lists a page of discussion questions for families. I think they provide a valuable jumping off point for parents who will read this to their children.
The illustrations are highly professional, clearly demonstrating both the people’s and the pet’s emotions. This is also a diverse book.

This is a caring and well-informed story that children will enjoy and parents will appreciate. Excellent!