Thursday, April 15, 2021

Celebrate "Earth Day" April 22 with beautiful middle-grade children's books from Candlewick Press [Review & Giveaway]


When "Earth Day" was first pitched to the world in 1970s it was viewed with skepticism and considered "peacenik" or "hippy" politics. Today we recognize that we must be good stewards of this globe suspended in the Universe that we call home - Earth. We must care for the bees, birds, animals, plants, water, air. Conservation and prudence of use are vital. We need to teach the children about bees, about plants and living things on the ground, in the ground, in the air, in the water.


Bruno the Beekeeper: A Honey Primer by Aneta Frantiska Holasov√° (Author, Illustrator)



My thoughts:
At first glance, one might think this a little kiddie book.  While it can most certainly be read to them to teach about bees and the value they are to our World's plant life, it is frankly an older children's book.

Originally published in the Czech Republic in 2013, this English translation by Andrew Lass and first USA printing is a book well worth purchasing and placing in personal, public, and school libraries. The book is educational with information about various bees and flying insects, drawings of bees, their life cycle, and the equipment a beekeeper needs. Then some detail about the seasons of beekeeping and how they follow Earth's seasons.

The book ends with a gingerbread cookie recipe that uses honey as the sweetner. These would be a real treat.

About the book: Follow a beekeeping bear through the seasons—and learn about the life cycle and ecology of bees—in this folksy step-by-step guide to caring for hives and harvesting honey.

With glowing, honey-hued illustrations and friendly text, this homespun year-in-the-life of a busy beekeeper and his bees is a definitive picture book primer—whether for families contemplating a new hobby or for readers just curious to know how bees make honey. Follow Bruno the bear through the seasons, beginning in late summer, as he demonstrates how he keeps his bees healthy and happy, from housing and maintaining the hive to harvesting honey and beeswax. Learn the anatomy and life cycle of bees, the difference between workers and queens, what flowers bees pollinate, and what predators they avoid. Gracefully translated from the original Czech—and paired with charming folk-style art that evokes the rural setting and cozy kitchen of a blended beekeeping family (complete with Grandma’s recipe for homemade honey-gingerbread cookies)—this charming ode to sustainability and fostering nature’s small wonders will delight readers of every stripe.


A World of Plants by Martin Jenkins & illustrated by James Brown  


My thoughts: 
There is so much more to the world of plants than vases of flowers, trees (how many can you identify?), corn and other veggies. So much about how plants adapt themselves and manage to proliferate season by season.

This book tells us about plants that we eat and the 10 most eaten plants in the World. Information in this large book with well written text suitable for the older elementary and middle school child will provide hours and days of captivating reading and study. Well, actually, adults will find much to enjoy in the information and illustrations.

Early in the book the statement, "We are totally reliant on plants for food and energy" is made. That is because the air we breath is dependent on photogenesis. The soil, the sun, the rain are used by plants to provide shade, clean the air, make food for all living creatures. They do what they are created to do - make Earth a beautiful habitable place to live.

A beautiful, information packed book that is a true winner.

About the book: A conservation biologist and a printmaker team up for a fascinating, visually arresting guide to botanical history, biodiversity, and the rich inner lives of plants. A must-read for budding gardeners!

Covering more than twenty-five subjects, from photosynthesis and permaculture to the hidden world of Victorian plant hunters, this stylish illustrated guide is packed with scientific insight into the critical role plants play in the drama of life on Earth. Did you know that some plants steal while others defend themselves against attack? That the largest cacti can reach sixty-six feet tall and weigh more than a car? That there are meat-eating plants the size of footballs? Readers young and old will marvel at the wondrous diversity and adaptability of plants, from trees and tropical species to those that have evolved to master extreme conditions. A brisk narrative bursting with facts—all carefully organized with maps and charts in richly patterned vintage-style illustrations—make for a vivid guide to all that grows . . . and a beautiful gift book for anyone interested in the environment.


Fungarium: Welcome to the Museum by Ester Gaya & illustrated by Katie Scott


My thoughts: 
What a pleasure to have another of the "Welcome to the Museum" books. This series is simply marvelous. Large books, packed with wonderful illustrations and informative text that entertains and educates.

Fungarium: Welcome to the Museum is a wonderful introduction for older elementary and middle school students to fungi. 

Frankly, the book covers an amazing amount of information that, in my opinion, would give superb educational facts for older students in the study of biology. I was really surprised to learn a bit about the complexity of the plant, animal, and fungi world and dependence on each other and especially the intricate association of fungi to the others.

A fine book to grace library shelves of all types.

About the book: Welcome to the Fungarium! Step into the world of fungi and learn all about these strange and fascinating life-forms.

Illustrator Katie Scott returns to the Welcome to the Museum series with exquisite, detailed images of some of the most fascinating living organisms on this planet—fungi. Exploring every sort of fungi, from the kinds we see on supermarket shelves to those like penicillium that have shaped human history, this collection is the definitive introduction to what fungi are and just how vital they are to the world's ecosystem.

GIVEAWAY
Begins April 15
Ends May 12 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open USA/Canada. No P.O.Boxes
Canadian winners must provide phone #
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a reviw. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' books/prizes are provided and shipped directly to the winner by pubisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

"Mona Lisa in New York", "Pie for Breakfast: Simple Baking Recipes for Kids", & "Veggie Power" from Prestel Publishing

Mona Lisa in New York by Yevgenia Nayberg (ISBN: 978-3791374451; Hardcover $14.95; Ages 4-8; 32 pages)


My thoughts:   
Although the famous, beloved painting of The Mona Lisa is strictly conventional art at its finest; however, in this book Mona Lisa in New York the illustrations take a distinctly modern, abstract, cubicist style. "Mona" is flitting about New York visiting  places that make New York famous and a true tourist attraction.

She slips out of her frame and ventures forth to see NYC for herself. But outside her frame, no one noticed her. "Mona" continues to keep her smile whilst she enjoys NYC.  She meets "Tag" (which is street art murials) and he takes her all about the city. 

A whimsical story that in an artsy way shows conventional and modern art styles in a fun story.

About the book: Mona Lisa is a tourist in New York City who experiences the city for the first time, and finds art, love, and inspiration in unexpected places.

Mona Lisa is taking a trip to New York from the Louvre. Yes, that Mona Lisa. The one with the knowing smile. After hanging in the museum for a while she decides to explore the city. She slips out of her painting and meets Tag, a street art figure. He takes her on an adventure from the Bronx to the Brooklyn Bridge and it turns out Mona Lisa doesn't know as much as she thought. In this beautiful and charming book, artist Yevgenia Nayberg, an immigrant to New York herself, shows young readers the city she has fallen in love with. Cleverly portraying da Vinci's iconic subject as a world-weary, know-it-all, Nayberg takes readers on a tour of New York. Mona Lisa and Tag eat pizza in the Bronx, listen to jazz in Harlem, dance to salsa music on the High Line, and swim at Brighton Beach. As Mona Lisa says goodbye to her new friend, she--and the readers--come away with a profound appreciation of the city and its wonders.


Pie for Breakfast: Simple Baking Recipes for Kids by Cynthia Cliff (ISBN: 978-3791374604; Hardcover $16.95; Ages 5-9; 40 pages)


My thoughts:
I just love children's recipe books. This "love" goes back to a cooking class that I, as a child, took and received my own children's starter cookbook. Many years later, my own children used that same cookbook as they ventured into the world of cooking. I have acquired children's cookbooks for my children and grands through the years. 

In Pie for Breakfast: Simple Baking Recipes for Kids children venture into baking as activity in a community effort to raise funding for the library. The setting is a variety of kitchens and peoples showing a bit of the diversity of life and of their diverse baking recipes.

They are having a bake sale for the benefit of the library. Children are joyfully involved baking a variety of items to sell at the bake sale. Some are making extra for sharing with family. 

One father says it is o.k. to have pie for breakfast as long as you don't do it too often.

Definitely a fun "cookbook."

About the book: A beautifully illustrated baking book for children featuring recipes for delicious treats along with a powerful message about family, diversity, and helping others.

When Hazel and her father bake together, her mother says they make the whole house smell like a fancy bakery. And when they bake in the morning, they get to eat their goods as a special treat--even if it's for breakfast. One day Hazel decides to organize a morning bake sale for her school and encourages her friends to contribute to the effort. The results take readers all over the world, from strawberry mochi and pumpkin empanadas to Indian-spiced shortbread and Egyptian basbousa cake. Best of all, each of these treats including with muffins, carrot cake, scones, and vegan and gluten-free items--comes with its own easy-to-follow recipe. Cynthia Cliff's charming illustrations combine the simplicity of folk art with a sophisticated flair. Her down-to-earth baking accommodate all sorts of substitutions and skill levels. The perfect book for satisfying baking, Pie for Breakfast introduces children to new flavors and treats, opening their palates and their eyes to the delicious ways that baking can bring us together.antarctica.jpg


Veggie Power by Olaf Hajek (ISBN: 978-3791374789; Hardcover $19.95; Ages 8-12; 40 pages)


My thoughts: 
As the season changes to warmer days and nights, many people are envisioning their own garden plots and the succulent vegetables they plan to grow. Others are looking forward to grocers and markets abounding in a verdant abundance of colorful vegetables.

But just how much do we all actually know about vegetables? What about their history? What about the good and the not-so-good aspects of each of the plants?

In Veggie Power the author writes information that will whet one's mental appetite and create a sense of gastric desire. The illustrations are coloful, detailed, robust and tend toward a festive and whimsical or magical glimpse into the world of veggies.

There is so much to capture one's interest in this beautiful, oversize book. I recommend.

About the book: An illustrated garden of vegetable delights that will make children interested in learning about what's on their plates.

As more and more families focus on local and organic eating, this delightful introduction to common vegetables offers a delectable serving of uncommonly beautiful illustrations and fascinating information. As in his previous book, Flower Power, Olaf Hajek's wondrously imaginative and detailed illustrations of vegetables are paired with engaging and eye-opening texts. Organized by season, the book tells how each vegetable is grown, how it can be enjoyed on our plates, its health benefits, historical tidbits, and botanical fun facts. From the first spring onion to pumpkins harvested just before the frost, this inviting journey through the growing seasons celebrates the artistic, historical, and culinary bounty that awaits us in the garden and at the table.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copies to facilitate reviews. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

"My Red Hat" and "I Am a Bird" for ages 3-7 from Candlewick Press [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

I Am a Bird by Hope Lim & illustrated by Hyewon Yum (Hardcover ISBN: 9781536208917 - Ages 3-7)


My thoughts:  
This lovely parent/child daily excursion on dad's bicycle to take the young child to "school" (perhaps preschool) speaks to Asian culture where going about one's daily activities is done via bicycle. Signs show an Asian text. People depict slight "Asian" characteristics but are not "stereotyped" nor cartoonish. I like the gentle art done in watercolors that show this loving relationship between parent and child.

Now the story is simple. Daily bicycle ride to school with child behaving in typical young child manner and making bird calls as he spots sea gulls and other birds and he says, "I am a bird." Of course, he isn't but he is play-acting as children do.

A happy scene until he spots a lady in a blue coat and a big purse on the daily ride. He begins to take note that she doesn't smile. She doesn't take notice of him. He says, "I don't like her."

He has noticed a difference. He is happy and she does not appear to be. She doesn't respond to him as she plods along. But at the end he does see her at a distance and she is feeding the birds and making bird calls.

So he sees they are not so different after all.

A lovely peek into the daily joy of being a young child. The discovery of differences. And the realization that we are not so different after all. A sweet book that is well illustrated and has a powerful yet subtle message about differences.

About the book: Every day, a little girl rides to school on the back of her father's bike. As they twist and turn through the streets, the little girl spreads her arms like wings and sings her birdsong for all to hear. But when they pass a strange woman in blue who carries a mysterious bag, the girl goes quiet until the woman is out of sight. One day, when they’re running late, the little girl discovers what the woman does with her bag each morning—a surprise that transforms her wariness into a feeling of kinship to be celebrated. Hope Lim’s simple text and Hyewon Yum’s delicate, expressive illustrations create a touching story that encourages readers to embrace our similarities rather than focus on our differences.


My Red Hat by Rachel Stubbs (Hardcover ISBN: 9781536212716 - Ages 3-7)


My thoughts:  
This is a sweet generational book that shows a loving relationship between a grandchild and grandfather. The red hat symbolizes passing along the possibilities that life can bring and the strengths of pursuit and accomplishment. The red hat is a cover and protection from fear and other of life's onslaughts.

I love the illustrations and bright spots of red in washes of darkness. I like that the pictures show the two engaged in a variety of activities inside and outside. Not simply seated in an overstuffed armchair. 

It shows generational love. It depicts the strength of a "cover" when the mantle is passed generation to generation along with a knowledge of inner strengths to confront life head on. 

It begs the questions, "Do you have a red hat?"

About the book:  A hat can do many things. It can keep you warm and dry. It can help you stand out in a crowd, or it can help you blend in. It can hold your dreams or your secrets, and it can hide your fears. In a debut picture book, Rachel Stubbs pairs winsomely expressive artwork with a gentle meditation on family connection and memory, as a grandfather offers his grandchild the anticipation of a life lived with wonder and openness . . . and a very special hat.

GIVEAWAY
Both books each for 2 winners
Begins April 8
Ends May 1 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA addresses
NO P.O.Boxes & Canada phone number required
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate reviews. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prizes are provided and shipped directly to the winner/s by publisher, author, or publicist. Chat With Vera  is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Night Fall (The Quantico Files #1) by Nancy Mehl [Review & Giveaway]


My thoughts: 
Tagging along with the FBI and the Behavioral Analysys specialists the reader is dragged into the deeply disturbed, sordid, unbelievable psychosis of serial killers. Not only is the reader aghast at the throught processes uncovered as this individual moves through his/her plan to bring death and destruction to the forefront, but an unbelievably twisted religious cult and their secretative behavior and is at the root.

I, personally, don't like to engage mentally with deeply disturbed people on any level - in reality or in fiction. However, Nancy Mehl has woven a series of characters whose personalities, revealing their strengths and their weaknesses, so that I was figuratively able to ride upon their shouldters through the pages of this suspenseful thriller.

There is no "preaching" but there is a strong Christian presence manifested in the character's personal beliefs. But there is also a revelation of how destructive some cultic impositions by individuals in a family can be even when the child or adult manages to "escape" the constraints of the cult.

I look forward to reading future stories in The Quantico Files, but hope they are not involved in situations quite as raw as Night Fall.

About the book: 

For any little boy or girl who hears the Train Man speak,
Who feels his rancid breath caress their pretty cheek,
Must close their eyes, pretend to sleep, and very softly pray,
Or else the evil Train Man may carry them away.

Finally free of her troubled upbringing, Alex Donovan is able to live out her childhood dream of working for the FBI. But soon after she becomes a member of the FBI's elite Behavioral Analysis Unit, authorities in Missouri contact them about bodies found on freight trains--all killed in the same way.

Alex never expected to be forced to confront her past in this new job, but she immediately recognizes the graffiti messages the killer is leaving on the train cars. When the BAU sends her to gather information about the messages from her aunt in Wichita, Kansas, Alex is haunted by the struggles she thought she'd left behind forever.

In a race against time to solve the case and recover a deadly virus sample the killer intends to spread, Alex must face how far she'll go--and what she's willing to risk--to put a stop to the Train Man.

GIVEAWAY
Begins April 7
Ends April 30 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and mailed directly to the winner by publisher or author. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

The Indebted Earl (Serendipity & Secrets #3) by Erica Vetsch [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: As a conclusion to the triology, Serenity and Secrets by Erica Vetsch, The Indebted Earl was a joy to read. The characters are well-drawn, the scenes verbally constructed to settle one's mind in place, and the emotional draw warm, or fierce, or sad, or happy. The reader can entrench their mind firmly in place for total enjoyment.

As Charles returns from naval warfare and gross injuries, he has to heal as does his friend's fiance to whom to delivers a letter and chest of items from her deceased fiance. Charles discovers he has now inherited a title, Earl, with property and land-locked responsibilities all of which he does not want as his heart has been captured by the sea.

Sophia and the older lady that is her fiance's mother find themselves cast away from their property by a head-strong inheritor (not Charles). No home. No funds. Nothing.

And the story begins. A gentle romance as Charles and Sophia are drawn to each other. A kindness beyond measure. A marriage of convenience. And in the mix there are 3 orphaned girls to win the reader's heart as well as the sweet older lady.

A charming read and terrific conclusion to the series.
  

About the book: Can Captain Wyvern keep his new marriage of convenience all business--or will it turn into something more? 

Captain Charles Wyvern owes a great debt to the man who saved his life--especially since Major Richardson lost his own life in the process. The best way to honor that hero's dying wish is for Wyvern to escort the man's grieving fiance and mother safely to a new cottage home by the sea. But along the way, he learns of another obligation that has fallen on his shoulders: his uncle has died and the captain is now the Earl of Rothwell.

When he and the ladies arrive at his new manor house in Devon, they discover an estate in need of a leader and a gaggle of girls, all wards of the former earl. War the new earl knows; young ladies and properties he does not. Still wishing to provide for the bereaved Lady Sophia Haverly, Charles proposes a marriage of convenience.

Sophie is surprised to find she isn't opposed to the idea. It will help her care for her betrothed's elderly mother, and she's already fallen in love with the wayward girls on the Rothwell estate. This alliance is a chance to repay the captain who has done so much for her care, as well as divert her attention from her grief. When Wyvern returns to his sea commission, she'll stay behind to oversee his property and wards.

It sounds so simple. Until the stalwart captain is arrested on suspicion of smuggling, and Sophie realizes how much he's come to mean to her. Now she'll have to learn to fight, not only for his freedom but also for his love.

About the Author: Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling author and ACFW Carol Award winner, and has been a Romantic Times top pick for her previous books. She loves Jesus, history, romance, and watching sports. This transplanted Kansan now makes her home in Rochester, Minnesota. Learn more about Erica at www.ericavetsch.com or find her on Facebook.


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Friday, April 2, 2021

Best Friend in the Whole World" & The Smile Shop" from Peachtree Publishing

Best Friend in the Whole World by Sandra Salsbury

ISBN: 9781682632505
Hardcover $17.99

My thoughts: 
Get ready for a full load of sweetness and joy. The story addresses loneliness, finding a friend, another's need, and the sharing of friendships. 

Charming illustrations portray a cheerful forest and sweet critters and also the feelings of Roland the rabbit, his pine cone friend, and even newer friend, Roland the kitten. 

Tea parties. Lonely strolls through forest. Finding friends. Sharing. The story offers lots of joy in reading and lessons to learn in a delightfully sweet manner.

About the book: Have you ever had an imaginary friend? Then you'll love the heartwarming story of Roland, a lonely rabbit, and his beloved best friend, a pine cone named Milton. A charming debut from author-illustrator Sandra Salsbury.

Roland lives a quiet life filled with books, music, and tea parties for one, but sometimes he feels rather lonely. When Roland finds the perfect companion in Milton (Good listener! Enjoys music! Also alone!), he is overjoyed. It's okay that Milton is just a pine cone; they have so much in common. But clues start popping up in the woods, suggesting someone else might be missing their best pine cone friend. Roland must decide if it's worth leaving someone else in their loneliness to keep Milton in his life.

In this sweet and moving picture book about loneliness, friendship, and compassion, debut author-illustrator Sandra Salsbury celebrates the transformative power of connection and the painful melancholy of loss. Endearingly classic illustrations bring a charming forest world to life.


The Smile Shop by Satoshi Kitamura

ISBN: 9781682632550
Hardcover $17.99

My thoughts: 
This sweet story brought back a precious memory to me, the memory of one of my own sweet boys who took his first earnings to buy me, his mother, a gift. Very special for him. And very, very special memory for me.

So in the story the little boy has saved some coins and thinks he has enough to go shopping for something. He doesn't have any idea what he'd like to purchase, but he believes he now has enough to buy something.

He goes to the market place (illustrations are reminenscent of an Eastern bazzar or market place) and meanders throughout looking for something special. He drops and loses some of his coins and now doesn't know if he has enough to buy anything.

Perchance, he sees the "Smile Shop" sign and then the meat of the story ensues.

A lovely story of a boy growing up and trying to buy something with his own money. The anticipation. The excitement. The many choices. And the loss of some of his coins by misshap. 

The illustrations are really rather busy and minutely detailed. The young readers, or listeners, will have lots of opportunity to point out a plethora of interesting items.

A nice addition for libraries and classroom bookshelves.

About the book: Critically-acclaimed author-illustrator Satoshi Kitamura (Hat Tricks) celebrates the value of human connection in this hopeful picture book about the effect of a smile shared between people.

A small boy has saved all his pocket money and visits the market with high expectations. When disaster strikes and he loses his money, he feels very devastated. But wait, what’s that? A Smile Shop? He could really do with a smile. What will happen if he goes in?

Featuring charming, classic illustrations reminiscent of Maurice Sendak and Tomie dePaola, Satoshi Kitamura’s The Smile Shop is an absorbing setting for readers to explore themes of independence, self-worth, and the effect of a smile shared between people.

DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies from Peachtree Publishing to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Bring the richness of Dead Sea properties to your skin with Pacha's Dead Sea Mud Whipped Soap and Scrub

PACHA SOAP'S DEAD SEA MUD WHIPPED SOAP + EXTRA SCRUB

My thoughts: I have used several of the Pacha Bar Soaps and the Lavender Vanilla Whipped Soap Scrub; and everytime I have been so pleased with the feel of these products on my skin, the lathering capabilities, the scent. Knowing that the Pacha brand is supporting clean health initiatives and "green" products simply adds an extra special dimension of goodness to these products.

Find it on GoodEarthBeauty.com

I am currently using the Dead Sea Mud Whipped Soap and Extra Scrub. While it contains various oils, it does not leave my skin feeling as though it has been rubbed down with oils (you know, that "greasy" feel some products leave on your skin). 

The lathering properties are lovely. The pumice exfoilation is light-grained and effective. My skin feels softened, lightly scented, and clean.

The "flip lid" is great for shower or bath enabling one-hand opening. I am totally enjoying this lovely product.

Product information: Deeply exfoliate and cleanse skin with our Dead Sea Mud Whipped Soap + Extra Scrub. Crafted with natural exfoliants and balancing Dead Sea clay for an intensely rejuvenating scrub.

Great for use in the shower as a body wash or foot scrub. Make Whipped Soap + Scrub a part of your everyday bath routine!

Made by Pacha Soap, 8 oz Tub Price: $17.00

Ingredients: Vegetable Glycerin, Water, Sodium Chloride (Sea Salt, Pacific Salt, Peruvian Pink Salt), Sorbitol, Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Pumice, Santalum Spicata (Sandalwood) Wood Oil, Salvia Sclarea (Sage Clary) Oil, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil, Vetiveria Zizanoides (Vetiver) Root Oil, Natural Fragrance (Non-Synthetic scent derived from essential oils and plant extracts), Disodium Lauryl Sulfosuccinate, Kaolin (Sea Clay), Volcanic Ash, Clay (Illite), Levulinic Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Mineral Pigments

Buy it at Good Earth Beauty
USA orders Ship FREE
Discount Code: VERA10 = 10% off


DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary product to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. I only recommend products that I or a member of my family has used.