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

Avians by Timothy Gwyn. Book Review.

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Timothy Gwyn has built a fascinating and completely believable world in his first 416 page young adult science-fiction novel. His expertise with flying gives authenticity to the events without overwhelming the reader with technical jargon. Girls whose lives are miserable may be able to escape by joining the avians, an aeronautical group of young women fiercely loyal to each other and in love with flying glider planes used for commercial delivery and rescue missions.

The girls are as unique as their reasons for joining. However, not everyone will make it through training. So many girls are washed out or killed that the older flyers don’t bother to learn their names until the recruits have proven themselves. Even experienced aviators can fall victim to an accident. Then, they may be “converted”, a mysterious and frightening prospect.

Gwyn juxtapositions two girls from the same household, Raisa, heiress to a rich and influential silk empire and Mel, a servant in her household who detests Raisa. Both girls wind up in the same squad. The opportunity to sabotage Raisa is not lost on Mel. It seems likely that only one of these girls will make it, but which one?

Girls and women are the heroes of this novel and, not for a moment, are they dependent on men to reach their true potential. The rivalries are genuine as is the sisterhood. Science fiction readers of all ages will enjoy this book but it will especially connect with those who are interested in flight or empowering young women.

Buy links

Barnes and Noble 

Amazon

Timothy Gwyn will be interviewed tomorrow on this blog.

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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

 

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

When Grandma Climbed the Magic Ladder by Priya Narayanan. Book Review.

 

This is a unusual story about what happens after death. When a little boy named Shashi’s  grandmother dies, we follow her journey up the magic ladder into the sky to become a star with herpreviously deceased husband. Although the story begins with tears and grieving, once we switch to the Grandma’s point of view it is sweet, peaceful and reassuring.

Grandma is an amazing woman, kind, courageous, appreciative, and positive, so much so that as she journeys, all who encounter want her to stay. But even though the journey is long and somewhat arduous she continues to climb the ladder for three days to reach her husband and become a star. The reader cheers Grandmother on as she travels believing in her success and anxious to see Grandma’s dream to become a star a reality.

There were two points in the story that brought tears to my eyes. One was when the little boy was told that his grandmother would have to journey for three days on the magic ladder.

“Wouldn’t grandma feel hungry by the time she reached the sky? So, when no one was looking, he hid three of his favorite cream-filled cookies amongst the pleats of her sari.”

Those cookies soaked in love gave the grandmother so much endurance as she climbed that she did not need the food offered to her by the monkey, the cloud, or the moon.

The second moment was when the grandmother was reunited with the grandfather.

“As Grandma put her arms around Grandpa and hugged him tight, a blinding flash tore through the night sky. Exactly at the place in the sky where there had been only a lone star all these years, there was suddenly two.

If you have definite beliefs as to what happens after death, this would still be a good book to share with your child to explain that different religions and cultures have different beliefs. If you are unsure or uncommitted as to what happens after death, this book will encourage some interesting discussions.

Suitable to be read with parents for children ages 4 to 10.

CLICK ON THE COVER FOR MORE INFO OR TO BUY THE BOOK

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

 

 

Why I Love Canada. Illustrated by Daniel Howarth. Book Review.

buy link – Why I Love Canada: Celebrating Canada, in children’s very own words 

Why I love Canada… How would you finish that sentence with a simple phrase? There are so many possibilities.

This is the last book in my celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. Fittingly, it is entitled “Why I Love Canada.” Also, it is a picture book which is the general focus of my blog.

This is a square board book with double-page full-color spreads. There are 13 pages plus the inside back and front covers are used for the story.

On each page is printed, “I love Canada because…”. What follows is a simple completion such as, “we have wide-open spaces, we welcome all different kinds of people, we have all the seasons, and we speak many languages.” However, the clever thing is that each page it is illustrated using authentic representation of animals, except for human-like smiles. For example, “we welcome all different kinds of people” features a cardinal, a robin, a redheaded woodpecker, and a black and white bird I can’t identify, in the same tree. The page reading, “we have a great national anthem” is cleverly illustrated by a pack of wolves howling to the moon, done mostly in blue and white. The illustrations are fabulous. The last page is especially delightful with all the animals meeting up together at the river.

I really liked this book until I researched it because of a small notation on the cover. Now I love it. Each of the sentences was written by a child in Alberta. (That explains the buffalo.) The illustrator then took the sentences and created the book. This is the kind of think I loved doing when I was a primary teacher. Children has a wonderful way of noticing the beautiful.

Most pages feature an animal parent and child in the wild. Besides the previously mentioned birds and animals, there are puffins, otters, beavers, brown bears, loons, mountain goats, salmon, polar bears, and cardinals. On the page “we find nature everywhere” we see a park bench in a city with a robin, chipmunk, squirrel, and raccoon.

This is a cozy, feel good book. It makes you grateful for this beautiful country and protective of its animals. What a wonderful text to the read while cuddled with your child. What a perfect ending to a month of Canadian books.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Only in Canada! From the Colossal to the Kooky by Vivien Bowers. Book Review.


buy link – Only in Canada!: From the Colossal to the Kooky (Wow Canada!)

This hefty, nonfiction 95 page book has a humorous approach to engaging the reader. Scattered throughout the book are the narrators, a Canada goose and the moose, dressed in full clothing and making comments, some helpful and some silly.

There are six chapters in the book. The first is “Amazing Facts about How Canada Was Bashed, Pummelled, Scrunched, and Scraped into the Shape It’s in Today”. The humour and hyperbole draw the reader in to learn about tectonic plates, the Great Lakes, earthquakes, volcanoes, ice and more.

Chapter 2 is “Naturally and Wildly Canadian”. The author promises to share the “weird, intriguing, obnoxious, badly behaved, and utterly improbable plants and animals that exist in Canada.” I was not at all surprised to learn that Canada has one million square kilometers of muskeg.” Just try digging anywhere in my neighbourhood. I was surprised to learn puffins have a regular beak underneath their big fancy one, which they drop off after they win the female. Hmmm. Typical.

The only thing I must warn you about is if you need reading glasses, make sure you have them when you open this book. It is jampacked with tiny print. You won’t want to miss any of the fascinating facts and crazy tidbits. I had heard of Gray Owl but not Billy Miner or Two-gun Cohen. There’s even a paragraph about the lines down the middle of the road.

Chapter 3 focuses on the arrival of people. Chapter 4 is about Canada’s modern growth such as the canals, bridges, and buildings. Chapter 5 is about our weather. Yes it does deserve an entire chapter of its own. Chapter 6 is about interesting Canadians and I’m sure you’ll find some you’ve never heard of before.

This is a fun and informative book that may engage children (and adults) in Canadiana who otherwise would not be interested.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Canada Celebrates Multiculturalism by Bobby Kalman. The Lands, Peoples, and Cultures Series. Book Review.

Canada Celebrates Multiculturalism (Lands, Peoples, & Cultures) buy link

The topics covered in this nonfiction book are:

  • Beginnings of multiculturalism
  • Celebrating Canada’s history
  • Heritage days
  • Caribana
  • Cross-cultural festivals
  • Harvest festivals
  • Christmas customs
  • New year celebrations
  • Religion
  • Holidays
  • Family days
  • Festivals
  • Recipes

It also Includes a Glossary and an Index.

This is a lot of things to tackle in such a small book of 32 pages. Basically, it just whets the appetite.

The beginnings of multiculturalism is a two-page spread, three-quarters of which is a photograph. In the text bar there is a short paragraph written on native cultures, French and British, more people came, and celebrating multiculturalism. At the bottom, in italics, is a caption for the picture that reads, “Many cultures can be found in Canada. People in this picture represent the Native, German, Ukrainian, Filipino, and Engine populations in Canada. Can you identify them by their costumes?” I’m not sure about the other cultures, but First Nations people do not like their regalia to be called a costume. This is a disrespectful term.

In the “Celebrating Canada’s history”, there are paragraphs on Canada Day, Victoria day, Labor Day, and Remembrance Day. It does mention the alternative holiday celebrated by the French Canadians in Quebec. There is a small text box below the fireworks picture and a sketch about Louis Riel. It is entitled “remembering a hero.”

Under heritage days, the author gives a short blurb on the powwow. The entire second part of the two-page spread is about African Canadians. Turn the page and you’ll find paragraphs on the national Ukrainian Festival, Fete National, Festival du Voyageur, Klondike Days, Oktoberfest, Highland games, and Icelandic Festival. The entire next double-page spread is devoted Caribana.

Under harvest vegetables, Canadian Thanksgiving is described. The Green Festival celebrated by the Iroquois, harvest fall fairs, and the wild rice harvest by the Algonquin, Cree, and Ojibwa are explained. There is a flashback about the order of good cheer. A short paragraph explains the Chinese Moon Festival.

For such a short book, it shares a great of information on unfamiliar holidays. Well worth a read or for stocking your class library.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

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buy link Fall Leaf Window Clings (4 Sheets with 10 Stickers Each – Total of 40 Stickers)

buy link – Amscan Festive Kwanzaa Celebration Table Cover, Multicolor, 54″ x 102″

buy link – 25 Fortune Teller Fish, Old Time Party Favorite

buy link – Marionette Style Puppet – Chinese New Year Dragon – For Play or Display Any Time of Year! by Asia Overstock