Laura Monster Crusher by Wesley King. Book Review.

This book is suitable for middle-grade to early young adult. This will be a favorite with readers who love fantasy and unusual female heroes.

Laura is a big girl who has been bullied since childhood about her size. Her family moves to a new town and enrolls her in a different school to give her a fresh start. Unfortunately the bullying begins again but this time two other victims befriend her. When Laura fails to stand up for one of them, her new relationship is at risk.

But the real challenge is navigating the secret world Laura can only access through a hidden elevator in her closet. She discovers she is destined to be a monster crusher and without her rising to the challenge, her family, friends, and world are in great danger. Laura, however, is neither athletic nor nimble. Night after night, for this is when she can secretly train, Laura fails to acquire the necessary skills of a monster crusher.

The danger rises to the point of crisis when her beloved blind little brother is kidnapped by the monsters. Betrayed and vastly outnumbered, Laura must pull off a miracle in order to save her family.

The affectionate relationship between Laura and her humorous little brother, her struggle with self-identity and confidence, her desire for friends, and her reluctant courage make her an endearing and interesting hero. An enjoyable read that picks up pace and increases in suspense as it progresses. Although it has a satisfying ending, the danger is still imminent and a sequel or series is possible.

BUY LINK

Advertisements

Lego Friends – Emma’s Photo Shop 41305

 
Durability four stars  The pieces do not stay together very well. For example, whenever you try to put the pet in or on the flowerpot as suggested in the pictures everything around it collapses including the pot.
 
Play quality three and a half stars The pets are adorable as are the little attachments you can put on them. The pictures and the camera are really cool but everything is so small and precariously connected that, whenever you try to play with it, things fall over and fall apart.
 
Safety five stars Definitely for children past the age of putting things in their mouths. Unfortunately, kids tend to bite the pieces apart. Don’t leave them on the floor where you walk.
 
Age interest four stars. My four-year-old granddaughter has been able to put together Legos in the past but this is definitely for five and up. The instruction book did not have enough detail. I found some pieces were challenging especially the light reflector and the photo printer. Small children will be fascinated by the little pieces but frustrated by the fragility.
Storage and portability four stars  It can all fit back in the box if you take it apart but you’ll have to put an elastic around it. In all likelihood the pieces will most likely mix in with all your other Legos. It’s small enough to fit in your purse if you’re bringing it to a special event to keep a child busy. If you want to keep it all together, I suggest putting the pieces in a ziplock bag before putting them in the box.
Price four stars $13.94 USD on Amazon.
$12.99 CAD at the lego store.
$11.17 CAD at Target.
$10.00 USD at ToysRUs.
 
Somewhat recommended.

Friends Emmas photo
Durability
Play quality.
Safety
Eight interest. I thought
We
This was affordable and worth the price.

​ Duck, Duck, Moose by Joy Heyer. Book review.

This is a delightful picture book about missing a friend. Duck is lonely because goose has gone away for winter. The other animals try to cheer him up by engaging him in games such as duck, duck, pig. However duck does not find this enjoyable nor does he like playing with the fish, snakes, porcupine, or moose. After feeling dejected for a while, duck decides a different game might work and so all the animals engage in hide and seek. On the last page, goose returns.
The book is written in rhyme and it holds quite well throughout. I specially enjoyed the onomatopoeia pages where Jack played with each animal. For example, Ooey, Gooey, Icky, Sticky, Quack, Quack, Quack when he was playing with the pig and the fish sounds were Sploosh, Splash, Blub, Glub.
The pictures alternate between full page colour, double page spreads, and single characters on a page but all are sweet, charming watercolors.
My granddaughter found this book very engaging and loved the humorous bits as well as the emotional moments. Highly recommended.

The Road to Ever After by Moira Young. Book Review.

This highly unusual book is told from the point of view of a 13-year-old orphaned street boy named Davey David. Lizzie, an elderly woman dubbed as a witch and a child who has the fascinating talent of drawing angels in the dirt go on an incredible journey together. Lizzie, to say the least, has unconventional expectations of a young man who seems destined to fill her last request.

During their flight across the country, they encounter an hard collection of situations and people. My favourite was their mad-cap release of doomed turkeys on their way for slaughter. This little scene echos a major theme of breaking free and going beyond death.

The writing style and the themes of regret, guilt, and death, however, will interest YA and adults equally. The book can be read at many levels.The story is poignant, sad, mysterious, and funny.

The two protagonists are at opposite ends of the age scale. Readers will connect differently and the takeaways will be as varied as their own personal experiences. The tone of this book is somewhat like the Ocean at the End of the Lane and The Midnight Circus but it also has the feel of a buddy road trip. It’s sure to be enjoyed by readers who like books that make them think, feel, and laugh.

Buy link http://a.co/jcVjfpj

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Digby of the Dinosaurs by Linda Yiannakis. Book Review.

I don’t think I can actually do this remarkable book justice.

Summarizing the plot, a little boy inadvertently finds himself in a secluded world where some species of dinosaurs still exist and have evolved to a higher level. But it is so much more than that.

Told mostly from the point of view of Digby, a orphan who feels unloved, the book strikes at the core of personal identity and need for family. The author avoids the trap of info dump even though the culture she is portraying is complex and rich. She allows the background to unfold slowly through the eyes of the little boy who wants, so badly, to fit in. The reader becomes deeply attached to this child and wonders how he is going to possibly survive in this world.

The concept of unconditional love is beautifully portrayed by the mother dinosaur who adopts her foster child without giving into any reservations. In many ways, the dinosaur culture is far superior to that of human culture and give us much pause for thought. This would be a discussion stimulating book to share with your child or class.

The story is not all serious message though, as there are many humorous moments. The ending is exactly what it needs to be and we are left with a full heart and a satisfied sense of completion. Linda Yannakis shows herself to be a superior writer and storyteller in this masterpiece.

Strongly recommended for readers aged nine and up.

Buy link http://a.co/0mb8M48

smilesmilesmilesmilesmile

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

An Attitude of Gratitude Creates Happiness

The second edition of Rayne Shines is now published. The characters are people instead of frogs and the text has been tightened. Here are the first few pages.

Rayne is bored with life, until a new family moves in next door. Why do they look so happy? Rayne wants to know their secret. Rayne Shines is a humorous and thought-provoking picture book for ages 5-7.

In a subtle and humorous way, the story shows how attitude and perception create either happiness or misery. Rayne learns that gratitude, playfulness, optimism, and simplicity bring joy.

Buy link http://a.co/agCf1sP

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

 

 

 

The Smartest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson. Illustrated by Axel Scheffler.

You may misinterpret the title of this wonderful picture book. I thought it had to do with intelligence but it actually means stylish or well-dressed. I see others made the same mistake since the title has been changed to “Spiffiest.”

George is a giant who wears the same pair of old brown sandals in the same old patched up gown. We see from the illustrations that the townsfolk are quite blasé about George and other giants. The story begins with George deciding to spruce up. He buys “a smart shirt, a smart belt, a smart pair of trousers, a smart stripy tie, some smart socks with diamonds up the sides, and a pair of smart shiny shoes.” He declares that he is now the smartest giant in town. He leaves his old clothes behind and heads for home.

Here the story unfolds of George’s compassionate heart. He gives a giraffe his necktie to keep his long cold neck warm. As he goes on his way, George sings a happy song about giving away his tie but still being the smartest giant in town. George gives his shirt away to a goat who needs a new sail for his boat. He gives a shoe to a homeless mouse family. He gives a sock to a fox that needs a sleeping bag. He puts his belt across the bog to help the dog travel safely. But then, as George hops, his pants fall down. In the end he returns back to town and puts on his old clothes. All the creatures he helped get together and make a gold paper crown and a thank you card that lists all the generous acts and ends with “the kindest giant in town.”

What a wonderful book to lead into discussion of generosity, compassion, and sharing. This would be a great book to motivate children to participate in charitable events and to give up something so that others might have the necessities of life. It also promotes minimalism and non-attachment.

The illustrations are nicely done. The text is threaded throughout the variety of pictures. Some are double spreads, some full-page, and some two or three small illustrations on the page. They are bright, detailed, and colourful. The paper is glossy and good quality which makes the illustrations pop. Highly recommended.

thumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tiny

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Other great books by Julia Donaldson. Click on the covers for more information or to purchase the books.

Thank You Bear by Greg Foley. Book Review.

 Click here to buy Thank You Bear Board Book

Here’s a lovely little book to read any time but it would suit Thanksgiving Day beautifully. Greg Foley has written and illustrated a charming and meaningful picture book. The layout is simple, text on the left page and an illustration on the right. The pictures are line drawings with little and muted color. This simplicity helps to portray the character of Bear, a sensitive, well-meaning, and unsure little guy.

Bear finds a little box and says, “Why, it’s the greatest thing ever! Mouse will love this.” On the way to find mouse he shows the gift to Monkey, Owl , Fox, Elephant, Squirrel, and Bunny. Each one deflates bears confidence and enthusiasm. By the time Little bear reaches mouse his sense of joy and excitement has been diminished. But, Mouse crawls inside and says, “It’s the greatest thing ever! Thank you, Bear.”

There are so many important messages in this uncomplicated, sweet story. A gift from the heart, given with understanding, is the best gift of all. We shouldn’t let others destroy our enthusiasm but should trust in our own understanding of a relationship. Gratitude is the best gift given in return. And friendship, respect, confidence, and more. This is the kind of book you can read over and over and find something new to discuss each time.

A timeless book that both parents and children will love.

thumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tinythumb-up-smile-tiny

If you are looking for more books on gratitude, check out Rayne Shines. You can listen to the author read the book here. https://youtu.be/z_liqNXy07k

41jrlrh2b95l-_sx260_Click here to buy Rayne Shines

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Rocky the Cat Who Barks by Joanna Joe Napoli and Marie Kane. Illustrated by Tamara Petrosino. Book Review.

 

This is a simple picture book story for early readers that is completely believable. Rocky is a dog, possibly a beagle, who lives with an elderly lady. One day she has to move into an apartment building with her son. This part I didn’t understand because it said no dogs were allowed. But Rocky moved in with the family of two wild children and five cats.

The cats were hilarious. Misha, the big mean mother looks like she could fight a pitbull. Cappuccino has fur like a lamb, Crystal has long hair like a fashion model, Latte is lean with blue eyes, and Cally is the only one smaller than Rocky. When Rocky has the audacity to bark at the cats, they surround him, unsheathe their claws, arch their backs and hiss. From that point on, the cats bully the dog mercilessly.

The two children are worse than the cats. They rollerskate around the house, knock over furniture, squirt water guns, and swing on the curtains. The cats ignore them but the dog is terrified until, one day, things turn around. The naughty children decide to dress two of the cats up in doll clothes. Rocky and the other three cats are terrified. But when the children try to stuff the two cats into their backpacks, Rocky comes to their rescue barking louder than he ever had. The children’s mother intervenes and the cats are rescued. From that point on, Rocky is welcomed as part of the group. He is treated like a cat, hence the title of the book “Rocky the Cat Who Barks.”

The pictures are hilarious and if you have ever owned cats or seen them around the smaller dog intruding on their territory, you know they are a force to be reckoned with. There are one or two framed pictures on each  page with words beside her below. The style is cartoonish.

This is a fun, funny book especially if you love cats.

Some interesting discussions should arise from reading this book. The children, referred to as monsters, mistreat the pets. At the beginning, Rocky expects to be the boss of the home and is quickly informed of his mistake. When he comes to the aid of his new family, it is then that he is accepted. A good reminded that we need to give before we receive.

Click on the book covers for more information or to purchase the book.

 

  

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages