Friday, April 28, 2017

Light Up New York (Faithgirlz #4) by Natalie Grant

My thoughts:  These lively girls are now off to New York City where more fun and adventure await them and how the FaithGirlz get involved in the mysterious Snow Angel. Excitement and adventure await readers as the family of three girls with their father, famous mother, and their nanny - who is a powerful influence on the girls - take in New York City.

While a fun, readable story that does involve faith and prayer and while it lets the young readers glimpse the life of children whose parent is a famous entertainer, it does have the young FaithGirlz doing things children their age should not. For example: sneaking out without parent's permission (in New York, really?). Also, as with most families there is sibling arguing, and they sometimes have an "attitude."

The importance of telling the truth and of forgiveness are positives in this book and series.

I find this is still an enjoyable story, and girls just seem to love thise little books by Natalie Grant.

Preview some of book        

 Listen to some of book (click "Listen" under picture)

About the book: This is a Faithgirlz title, the 4th and final book in Award winning singer Natalie Grant's Glimmer Girls series.

Join twins Mia and Maddie and their sidekick little sister, Lulu, as they travel the country finding adventure, mystery, and sometimes mischief along the way. Together with their famous mother, singer Gloria Glimmer, and their slightly wacky nanny Miss Julia, the sisters learn lessons about being good friends, telling the truth, and a whole lot more.

In this fourth book in the Faithgirlz Glimmer Girls series, the Glimmer family is headed to the Big Apple—New York City! Gloria has been asked to perform a concert in Times Square and the whole family joins her. Miss Julia immediately starts planning a sightseeing trip for the sisters that will be better than all the rest, but plans never turn out exactly as they imagine when the Glimmer girls are involved. So what happens when sibling rivalry, random acts of kindness, and a little mystery all meet up at some of the most famous sights in New York City?

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the BookLook Reviewers Program on behalf of the publisher, Zondervan, to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Father's Road by Ji-Yun Jang & illustrated by Tan Jun from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (97808028)54728)

ISBN13: 9780802854728
Paperback - Eerdmans Publishing
My thoughts:  Introducing young children to history using stories about children their own age, is a good educational tool. The author should be careful to make certain his or her historic account is authentic and simply embellish the story with words and actions of the characters to make it suitable reading for youth.

The Trade Winds educational series publication Father's Road brings a story to the reader of what might have occurred during the period of time that was about 100 years prior to the birth of Christ. The story recounts the harshness of the journey that took over a year for the caravan to reach their destination. Not only was the terrain rugged and unforgiving, there were bandits and many dangers along the way.

Things that can be learned include the type of journey, the terrain, the terror of bandits, and the possibility of illness overtaking the traveler.

The pages in the back of the book give opportunity for the young reader to learn more about the period of history with a short history of the origin of The Silk Road, some key terms and concepts, the beginning of global exchange, merchandise from around the world, the geography of The Silk Road, and a timeline of events.

This is a children's picture book and is meant to entertain as well as educate. Hopefully, books like the Trade Winds Series will plant seeds of interest in the minds of young readers encouraging them to further explore history as the grow into adulthood.

I highly recommend.

About the book: Wong Chung is thrilled when he has the chance to join his father’s caravan and embark on a journey along the Silk Road. But with the harsh terrain, brutal sandstorms, and marauding bandits, the journey is not an easy one. With so many obstacles will they ever be able to reach the magnificent markets in Constantinople?
This book in the new Trade Winds series presents historical information about the most well-known trade route in a fun, accessible way.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Eerdmans Publishing to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Queen of the Frogs by Davide Cali & illustrated by Marco Somà from Eerdmans Publishing

ISBN:  9780802854810
My thoughts:  To me a children's book should be rich with illustrations that tell the story visually interpreting the text from the author. In The Queen of the Frogs the muted browns, greens, and reds and the charm of the frog drawings themselves, are true to the story with true merit of their own.

Looking at the story from the point of view of a child: It is a story of a group of frogs and an imaginary life that one can perceive exists in the pond. The illustrations bring hilarity and life to the simple story of finding an object that promotes the finder to queen status. Then of course they have to figure out just what it is that a queen does. Eventually, the queen's crown is lost again in the depths of the pond so the frog-queen is no longer regarded as special and therefore queen. So life in the pond returns to its previous state of blissful frog happiness.

Looking at the story from an adult viewpoint (and wondering if this deeper meaning is meant to be conveyed to the child reader/listener): The frogs living a simple life create a one in which a single individual dominates the populace simply because of a status symbol. Made up rules grant elevated rank to the holder of the crown and servitude to the remaining frogs. Then, when the status symbol is lost, the servant-frogs demote the crown wearer to their own level. Life returns to its once blissful state. 

The ending is interesting as humans are inserted into the tale and their ownership of the "crown" is shared as one of happiness.

I prefer to read the story simply on the level that a child might enjoy it without the heavy thoughts of political gain and loss. I love the illustrations and their colors so reflective of life around a pond. I love, too, the charm and liveliness of the frogs as they go about their wonderful life in the pond with a touch of whimsical charm.

About the book: 
An enchanting modern fable

The frogs enjoy their life at the pond, filling their days with fly brunches and night music. But one day a little frog finds a crown at the bottom of the pond and is instantly pronounced a queen. She starts doing what queens do: making demands and expecting others to serve her. But when her royal subjects start to question her authority, she must prove she's fit to rule—if she can.

Reminiscent of Aesop's fables, this beautifully illustrated book is sure to start a discussion about the concept of leadership and the importance of humility.

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers to facilitate a review. Opinions are my  own and are freely given.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Worthy Kids has new line of Bible Stories for Babies & Toddlers - "In the Beginning" and "Noah's Ark" [Review & Giveaway]

WorthyKids/Ideals Publishing has embarked on a new venture: to create a Bible story series fit for the youngest of children. Beginning with the Creation story, In the Beginning, and with the story of the w orld wide flood in Noah's Ark  utilizing a simple vocabulary of 100 words  combined with simple straight-forward illustrations, they have brought to these young "readers" a concrete introduction into the truth of God's Word. Not intended to replace the Bible, these little board books are intended as an introduction to learning about God and His Word.

ISBN: 9780824919924
Board book ~ Ages 1 - 3My thoughts:
"Children’s Bible stories exist in abundance, but retellings aimed at babies and young toddlers can be hard to find. Author Susana Gay discovered this problem when she couldn’t find a suitable book for a baptism gift. Her solution? She worked with her young son to create Bible story books that are perfect for christenings, baby showers, and everyday use. With bold, modern art and simple words, In the Beginning and Noah’s Ark bring a fresh perspective to classic Bible stories. " [source: Worthy/Ideals]

My thoughts: A simple presentation of the Creation story for the very young child. Told with few words and illustrated simply yet definitively, the days of creation are covered. A sturdy board book that will surely endure the rough handling that little ones tend to give books.

About the book: In the Beginning tells the story of Creation in just one hundred words, highlighting key moments for little ones. Children will learn that in the beginning, everything was dark. Then God said, “Let there be light.” He created the seas and the land, the sun and the moon, all the creatures on the earth . . . and us! And then God rested.

ISBN 9780824919917
Board book ~ Ages 1 - 3
My thoughts: The story of Noah's Ark has proven through the years to be one that young children enjoy; not because they understand the salvation message and judgment by God in the story. No, they just love the tale of lots of animals getting on board a big boat, etc.

This little board book is simply the bare bones story of the Flood and how God provided a means of saving mankind and the animals. It ends with the rainbow (a good color teaching tool).

Being a very short book for the very young child, it must be realized that the depth of the Biblical story can not be fully covered. One slight error I noticed was that all the animals entered the ark - two by two. We know that the "clean animals" were taken in sevens. This is a very good introduction to Noah's Ark for the young child. I would suggest a small "Noah's Ark" playset of little figures and an ark to enhance understanding.

About the book: Noah’s Ark Children will learn that God asked Noah to build a big boat; that it rained and rained for days; and that God saved Noah and the animals, placing a rainbow in the sky. They will learn to count the animals two by two and will discover the many colors of the rainbow.

Both books feature the vibrant artwork of Susana Gay. Uncluttered pages make a nimals and objects stand out, helping to build a child’s vocabulary as the parent or child names zebras, fish, bears, and more. These board book keepsakes are fresh, simple, and uniquely crafted for today’s families.
Begins April 24
Ends May 4 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Author: Susana Gay is an award-winning graphic designer and the owner of Threehaus, a branding and design studio in Winter Park, Florida. Susana collaborated with her seven-year-old son, Owen, to create Noah’s Ark as a gift for a family baptism. Owen retold the story and sketched some of the fun and friendly scenes. Working with Owen, Susana polished the text and created the art. They followed Noah’s Ark with In the Beginning, resulting in a series of unique and beautiful introductions to favorite childhood Bible stories.

Worthy Publishing Group ( is a privately held, independent voice in inspirational publishing, based in Nashville, Tennessee. Worthy has four imprints: Worthy Books publishes a broad spectrum of genres, including current events, pop culture, biography, fiction, spiritual growth, and specialized Bibles; WorthyKids/Ideals creates colorful, interactive children’s books, including VeggieTales and Berenstain Bears, for ages 2 to 8; Ellie Claire produces beautifully crafted journals, gifts and paper expressions; and Worthy Inspired publishes inspirational felt-need, personal growth, and devotional books.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of each book from Worthy Publishing Group to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Becky Wade’s ‘True to You’ Author Chat Party


Raise your hand if you're ready for Becky Wade's new series! Celebrate the release of book one, True to You, with Becky and other readers on Facebook on May 4th during a fun author chat party at 8:00 PM EDT (that's 7:00 Central, 6:00 Mountain, & 5:00 Pacific)! Becky will be chatting about the book and answering your questions about the new series, and of course, there will be plenty of fun giveaways too!

Pre-order your copy of True to You so you're ready for a fun book discussion. Find out more about the book here.

Hope to see you on May 4 for Becky's True to You Facebook Party

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Search and Find: Animals by Libby Walden & illustrated by Fermín Solís

ISBN13: 9781626867710
Hardcove - Ages 3 - 7
Silver Dolphin Books
My thoughts: Children absolutely love search and find books. No matter the subject matter, they become engrossed in finding the most minute detail in books of this type.

In Search and Find Animals by Libby Walden the fold out pages make this very durable book even more fun and the amount of interesting critters to find is fantastic. Going from the barnyard to the tropical forest, the young reader will be engaged in this unique opportunity to find the animals. As the books is opened, you see that on the left is a flap and the instructions direct the child to search for what is hidden under the flap. This continues with cold climate animals (penguins, etc.), jungles, the sea, the African savannah, and the forest.

And there is more than just the specific animals for which the reader is to search. There are more animals and objects that can capture the child's attention and become a focused learning point.

The colorful illustrations are cute and whimsical and easy for the child to identify. This can be a fun, entertaining, and educational exploration into the animal world.

I highly recommend for the home with young children.

About the book: Can you find a pair of birds playing badminton, a gibbon with a ribbon, and a starfish shining in the spotlight? In Search and Find: Animals, young children are prompted to search six busy foldout scenes to find theHa illustrations highlighted on the large flaps. Each colorful spread features 20 things to find, plus additional amusing animals on a farm, in the Arctic, under a jungle canopy, beneath the waves, across the savannah, and in the nighttime woods. As readers explore the pages and find the animals, they will encounter other creatures scampering about—so parents can help children identify and learn the names of even more animals.
Begins April 20
Ends May 11 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity on behalf of Silver Dolphin Books to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Harry Miller's Run by David Almond & illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

ISBN: 978-1406362244
Ages 7 - 9
My thoughts: This is an incredibly touching story written with lovely flowing words that ring true to the time, location, and era of the tale. The story is of an older man who recalls his youth and his running. But as important as the recollection of an older man is, the respect showN to him by a younger generation and the respect for the elderly it will instill in young readers is truly wonderful.

The story resonates with wonder as the joy of the older man is recalled and captures the attention and imagination of the young boy, proving that interests and goals span the generations helping young Liam see that going to help Harry proves beneficial for both Harry and Liam.

I strongly encourage adults to find ways in which their young children can engage the senior population learning their stories and finding things they can do to help the aging population. This story shows a way the generations can benefit from each other and also is a powerful story.

About the book: "That's reet, lad! Run! There's a wolf at your tail! Run for your lovely life!" A joyful, uplifting story of times gone by, from the internationally acclaimed author of Skellig. A joyful, uplifting story of times gone by from the internationally acclaimed author of Skellig, illustrated in full colour by the award-winning illustrator of A Walk in London. Liam just wants to go out running with his mates - it's not long till the Junior Great North Run, and there's training to be done. But Mam needs him today, to help old Harry clear out his house. Harry knows a thing or two about running. When he was a lad, he says, he ran all the way from Newcastle to South Shields. "But Harry," says Mam, "that's thirteen miles!" Harry grins. "Different times," he says. This is the story of that day: of sweltering heat, clattering boots, briny sea air and the heavenly taste of ice cream; the day when Harry and his pals ran and ran and ran through the blazing sunlight all the way to the sea.

GIVEAWAY - 2 Winners

Begins April 19
Ends May 11 @ 12;01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA & CANADA addresses
No P.O.Boxes
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Candlewick Press to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided directly to them by Candlewick.

Beauty and the Beast: A Coloring Book from Silver Dolphin Books [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: There has been a lot of press recently about fairy tales and specifically about "Beauty and the Beast." A recently released film has drawn interest and piqued hearts young and old with its tale of love overcoming ugliness.

There are books on Beauty and the Beast that facilitate enjoyment on various levels. And today we're looking at a beautifully drawn coloring book from Silver Dolphin Books that has quotes from the original story.

This is a quality product that older children, teens, and adults will enjoy coloring with highly detailed drawings that will fascinate and draw out the creative spark in the most avid "colorers." The designs are quite intricate and very pretty reminiscent of Walter Crane's art. Coloration will require very fine points and care to be done well.

About the book: This enchanting coloring book is full of wonderful pictures, patterns, and borders to be colored in, as budding artists immerse themselves in the story of Beauty, who goes to live with the terrifying Beast in order to save her father…and then gradually learns to love him. All the key scenes and characters are here to color in as you relive this most romantic of fairy tales.
Begins April 18
Ends May 9 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Winner's copy is provided directly winner by publicist or publisher.

One Good Thing About America by Ruth Freeman [2 different giveaways]

Welcome to Day #7 of the One Good Thing About America Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of One Good Thing About America by Ruth Freeman (3/14/17), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Ruth and 10 chances to win a copy of One Good Thing About America, as well as a chance to win a Skype visit with Ruth in the Grand Prize Giveaway!

Two Truths and a Lie with Ruth Freeman
What a fun idea this is! I haven’t played this game in years, and not often back then. Okay, it took me a while to come up with truths and lies but I think I’m ready to play. Hope it’s fun for you, too!

Two Truths and a Lie about Ruth Freeman:

  1. When I was 12 my family spent a year traveling in Europe. My father, a middle-school math teacher, took a year’s sabbatical, carefully planned out the year and rented out our house. Then we bought a Peugeot station wagon in Paris and drove from Scandinavia to Sicily and everywhere in between. I’ve loved traveling ever since.
  2. I never excelled at sports, but there was one (and only one) time when I won a diving contest at the pool where we swam in the summer. In my age group we had to do two dives. I did what we called a “pencil” dive, going in head first, arms at sides. That went pretty well. For my next dive, I was doing a swan dive. I was sure, with everyone watching, that this one would not go well. But what can you do but go for it? I jumped off and flew. I still don’t know how I won but I did. 
  3.  I was in a play with Meryl Streep. She was two years ahead of me at Vassar College and we were both drama majors. In one production, an 18th c. English tragedy, she was cast as the lead (what else?) and I got to play her maid, or to be more exact, her maid’s maid. I had no lines but I was amazing at holding her dog and peeling potatoes.

Two Truths and a Lie about One Good Thing About America:

  1. I sent the manuscript for my story to 12 different publishers and was rejected by all of them.  I stewed for a while (okay, for quite a while), because of course I thought this was the greatest book ever written, then sent it to one more publisher, Holiday House. The editor, Mary Cash, called me two weeks later with an offer.
  2. People always ask you what the title of your book is while you’re working on it. I never know, but was using a title of “Talking Funny.” There’s a place in the story where another student asks Anaïs why she talks funny, and I liked having an action verb in the title. But my editor (this is why we have editors) picked One Good Thing About America. I’m so glad she did!
  3. There really is a rare mineral from Africa that is used in cell phones and other electronics. I knew little about the mineral, called coltan, before I started writing this story. But when I needed more information about Anaïs’ father and his work with the mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, I found a lot of articles and a documentary online about this billion-dollar, and largely unregulated, industry. It is a fascinating and painful story about greed, an area’s natural resources and the miners themselves (often children). Because coltan is in so many of the devices we use everyday, I think we have a responsibility to know more about where and how it is mined.

Two Truths and a Lie about Anaïs:

  1. Next year, for Halloween, Anaïs wants to go as a Christmas tree.  She’s planning on wearing all green and wrapping herself up in strings of Christmas lights.  She’s asked Mr. Dan to please figure out how to make the lights turn on…or even better, flash!  Bingo!
  2.  Anaïs' favorite movie is Twilight because people fly up into trees and do superhuman things and there are vampires. It’s exciting and kind of romantic, too.
  3. When Anaïs grows up she wants to be a doctor, as she says in the story, but in her spare time she also wants to be a pop singer with Jenna and Brittany. She is already designing the beautiful dress she will wear.


Two Truths and a Lie about Ruth Freeman: # 2 is a lie. I did enter a diving competition because my mother was complaining I never entered any of the swimming races. I did a regular dive and then a “pencil” dive. I certainly didn’t win, but I didn’t kill myself either. I have never been much a swimmer. More the leave-me-on-the-beach-with-a-book type. Now I live in Maine, so swimming is not much of an option!

Two Truths and a Lie about One Good Thing About America: # 1 is a lie. There was a time when I sent a manuscript off to at least 12 publishers (and probably more), but it was for my first picture book, Bedtime. For One Good Thing, my editor and I worked through the several versions of it together, so I knew what she wanted and what I needed to do to get it to the final stage.

Two Truths and a Lie about Anaïs: # 2 is a lie.  So, when I knew I was going to be writing this post, I asked one of my students what her favorite movie was. She is also from Congo and about the same age as Anaïs. I was expecting her to say Frozen or something along those lines. Instead, she starts telling me about some movie, she couldn’t remember the name, but from the way she was miming the action it was full of guns and violence and I don’t know what else! I am going to put my author’s foot down here and declare that Anaïs’ favorite movie is the new Beauty and the Beast.
    Stop by Word Spelunking tomorrow for the next stop on the tour!
    Blog Tour Schedule:
    April 10th – Geo Librarian April 11thLate Bloomer's Book Blog April 12th Mrs. Mommy BookNerd April 13thKristi's Book Nook April 14thLife Naturally April 17th – Books My Kids Read April 18th – Chat with Vera April 19th Word Spelunking April 20th – Middle Grade Mafioso April 21st – The Hiding Spot

    Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound
    Follow Ruth: Website | Facebook Publisher: Holiday House
    ONE GOOD THING ABOUT AMERICA is a sweet, often funny middle-grade novel that explores differences and common ground across cultures. It's hard to start at a new school . . . especially if you're in a new country. Back home, Anaïs was the best English student in her class. Here in Crazy America she feels like she doesn't know English at all. Nothing makes sense (chicken FINGERS?), and the kids at school have some very strange ideas about Africa. Anaïs misses her family . . . so she writes lots of letters to Oma, her grandmother. She tells her she misses her and hopes the war is over soon. She tells her about Halloween, snow, mac 'n' cheese dinners, and princess sleepovers. She tells her about the weird things Crazy Americans do, and how she just might be turning into a Crazy American herself.
    About the Author: Ruth Freeman grew up in rural Pennsylvania but now lives in Maine where she teaches students who are English language learners, including many newly arrived immigrants. She is the author of several acclaimed nonfiction picture books. One Good Thing About America is her first novel..

    One (1) winner will receive a signed copy of One Good Thing About America for their personal collection, as well as a 30 minute Skype visit with Ruth Freeman to the school of their choice and a signed copy for the school's library.
    Enter via the rafflecopter below
    US Only
    Ends 4/23 at midnight ET
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Begins April 18
    Ends April 28 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
    Open to USA addresses only
    DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of  the book. Grand Prize is provided by the author and publicity group. Winner of Chat With Vera's giveaway will receive their prize from the publicity group. I was not compensated for this post which was provided by MMPublicity.

    ON DUCK POND by Caldecott winner Jane Yolen [Giveaway]

    Welcome to Day #7 of the On Duck Pond Blog Tour!

    To celebrate the release of On Duck Pond by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Bob Marstall (4/11/17), blogs across the web are featuring exclusive content from Jane and Bob, plus 10 chances to win a set of On Bird Hill and On Duck Pond !
    Duck and Ducklings by Jane Yolen
    All of you, look alert.
    Danger lurks above, below.
    Be careful everywhere you go.
    All of you, head to tail,
    Know your family, keep us straight,
    Don’t be early, never late.
    All of you, follow close,
    Do not leave our careful line.
    That the way you'll be feather fine.
    ©2017 Jane Yolen. All rights reserved.
    Stop by The Kids Did It tomorrow for Day #8 of the tour!
    Blog Tour Schedule:
    April 10th – Word Spelunking April 11th – Mrs. Mommy BookNerd April 12th Foodie Bibliophile in Wanderlust April 13th – Late Bloomer's Book Blog April 14th – Mundie Kids April 17th – Life Naturally April 18th – Chat with Vera April 19th – The Kids Did It April 20th –  Books My Kids Read April 21st – Marianna Frances

    Where to Buy: Cornell Lab Publishing
    From award-winning and NY Times bestselling children’s author of more than 350 books, Jane Yolen, and award-winning illustrator, Bob Marstall, On Duck Pond is the first sequel to the acclaimed On Bird Hill, which launched the children’s picture book series written for the esteemed Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the world authority on birds.  
    In On Bird Hill, Yolen and Marstall took readers on a surreal journey with a boy and his dog, as they stopped, looked, and noticed things along their path—ultimately discovering the miracle of the birth of a baby bird. On Duck Pond continues the journey of the boy and dog story, this time in a new place—a serene pond, filled with birds, frogs, turtles and other creatures going about their quiet business. Their intrusion stirs the pond into a cacophony of activity, reaching climactic chaos, before slowly settling back to it’s quiet equilibrium.  
    This beautiful and enchanting sequel is sure to delight On Bird Hill fans and millions of readers and fans of Jane’s popular classics.
    About the Author: Jane Yolen has authored more than 350 books, including the Caldecott-winning Owl Moon, which every budding young ornithologist owns, You Nest Here With Me, which is a popular new favorite, and the New York Times bestselling series How Do Dinosaurs. Jane Yolen’s books have been translated into over 20 languages and are popular around the world. Janes husband, David Stemple, was both a well known bird recordist and a professor of computer science and he taught the entire family how to identify birds. Many of Jane’s books are about wildlife subjects, especially the winged kind. Jane lives in Hatfield, MA. Visit her online at
    About the Illustrator: Bob Marstall is the illustrator of nine nonfiction children’s books, including the The Lady and the Spider, which sold over a quarter-of-a-million copies and was a Reading Rainbow selection. Bob has also been honored with an ALA Notable; an IRA Teachers’ Choice; a Smithsonian Magazine Notable Book for Children; and three John Burroughs selections.

    In addition, two of Bob’s books are included in the New York Times Parent’s Guide’s “1001 Best Books of the Twentieth Century.” Bob Lives in Easthamton, MA. Visit him online at

    About the Cornell Lab: The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a world leader in the study, appreciation, and conservation of birds. Our hallmarks are scientific excellence and technological innovation to advance the understanding of nature and to engage people of all ages in learning about birds and protecting the planet.


    One (1) winner will receive a set of both
    On Bird Hill and On Duck Pond -- a great Earth Day gift!
    US addresses only
    Begins April 18 & Ends April 29
    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    DISCLOSURE: Information and prize is provided by MMPublicity Group on behalf of the publisher and author to facilitate this post and giveaway. 

    Saturday, April 15, 2017

    Prince Ribbit by Jonathan Emmett with illustrations by Poly Bernatene [Review & Givaway]

    ISBN13: 9781561457618
    My thoughts: This is a beautiful picture book with characters drawn from the imagination of Jonathan Emmett and fleshed out with the colorful drawings by Poly Bernatene. Not your ordinary and run-of-the-mill Frog into a Prince fairy tale, this one allows the reader to delve deeper into conscious thought and think out of the box exploring the sense that all is not as it may seem and that one can't always trust what is written in every book.

    On the surface this is a delightful story with a twist on kissing the frog so he can become a handsome prince. It is the tale of three sisters, all princesses, two of which are engrossed with reading fairy tales and wishing for a handsome prince to marry them -  even if it meant kissing a horrid frog first.

    The young Princess Martha was more interested in real frogs simply because they were frogs and without the hope of one becoming a handsome prince. She peered at the frogs in the garden and spied a clever frog who dreamed princely dreams of soft beds, wonderful food, and a glorious crown. So he devised a plan to present himself to the young princesses. The story goes on that the two day-dreaming princesses wanted to lavish treats on the frog - of course hoping to change him into a Prince. After all, that is how the story in the book went and they wanted the same thing.

    The adorable and fun illustrations coupled with the story are a sure-fire winning combination and a great twist on the typical frog into a prince fairy tale. I like that the reader (and the person reading to the young child) can think deeper and a bit out of the box on this one. Typically, the young child is taught and expected to believe what the story says and what the adults teach him or her. So to even entertain the thought of a young child not believing something should be carefully approached. Granted, belief a real frog can change into a real human prince is far fetched and can easily be used to teach a youngster that just because it is in a book doesn't make it a truth. Discernment between fairy tales and truth can be taught at an early age. Care does need to be exercised by the adult in the leadership position to carefully maintain the leadership role in helping the child develop the ability to know the difference between that which is true and that which is not.

    I really like this book and the twist at the end. The story is cute, expressive, entertaining, and brings a bit of educational facts to the reader. The illustrations are delightful, fun, and brightly colored.I can highly recommend it for libraries and homes

    About the book: Enchanted prince or just a plain old frog? Pucker up, princesses! Theres only one way to find out.

    Fairy tales are just stories, or so Princess Martha believes. But when her sisters meet a talking frog, they're convinced that giving him the royal treatment will turn him into Prince Charming. After all, that's what happens in their story books. Martha isn't so sure. The more she sees of Prince Ribbit, the more suspicious she becomes. Armed with the facts, Martha sets out to expose Prince Ribbit and prove to her sisters that just because it's in a book doesn't mean it's true. But before The End, Princess Martha might just learn that lesson for herself!
    Begins April 16
    ENDS May 7 @ 12:01 a.m EDT
    Open to USA addresses only..
    DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the Peachtree Publishers to facilitate a review of my honest opinions which are freely given. Prize copy is provided and sent to winner by publisher.

    Pursued by Lisa Harris (Nikki Boyd Files #3)

    My thoughts:  It is always a roller coaster ride when I read a Lisa Harris novel. She packs so much adventure and suspense into the pages and the characters are so likeable - unless, of course, they are the villains.

    The Nikki Boyd series has this TBI agent pursuing the bad folks and this pursuit is colored by her own personal family history where she lost a younger sister to a terrible crime. She has deep concern and compassion to those affected by similar crimes and viciously and determinedly pursues the culprits. In Pursued the characters on the run are a mother and her young daughter who are trying to escape the clutches of the girl's father and his vast criminal involvement.

    The chase involves one terrible incident after another with Nikki barely escaping serious injury or death. Her climbing skills are again called into play as she rappels down a mountain to check on an automobile accident victim.

    This book is easy reading that is suspenseful and action packed. The Christian element is there in the moral compass of the characters and their mention of praying. No preaching or lengthy Biblical passages. A good, clean read.

    About the book: Nikki Boyd's flight into Nashville was routine--until the crash landing at the airport.

    When the dust settles, Nikki discovers that the woman who had been seated next to her on the plane is missing--and no one will admit she was ever there. When she learns that Erika Hamilton had been flying to Nashville with an air marshal as a key witness in an upcoming grand jury trial, Nikki wonders if her disappearance from the crash site means she's running from trouble--or straight into it. Before Nikki can even see her family, she and her team are pulled into a missing persons case where the motives are as unclear as the suspects.

    Bestselling and award-winning author Lisa Harris has planted danger around every turn in this can't-put-it-down thrill ride that will leave you stunned.

    Read an Excerpt of "Pursued" - PDF File

    The Nikki Boyd series by Lisa Harris. All 3 books reviewed here on Chat With Vera!.
    Check reviews out!
    DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and are freely given.

    Friday, April 14, 2017

    Flowers for Sarajevo by John McCutheon & illustrated by Kristy Caldwell (with audio CD)

    ISBN13: 9781682630006
    My thoughts: This is a powerful picture book whose impact can easily span a broad scope of ages for interest and direction into understanding the humanity of those whose lives are ruined by war and how kindness can lead the people through the darkness of the occasion.

    John McCutcheon has taken an actual place and actual event where the Serb and Croatian war led to the Siege of Sarajevo. He has brought into the story how the war impacted the family of Drasko who is a young boy whose father sold fresh flowers in Sarajevo. Father is away at war and Drasko continues to sell the flowers to support his family.

    War hits. Destruction is close and personal. The bombing was terrible.

    And then, the cellist steps from his doorway and sits down. He begins to play. Sadness but beauty and hope emanate from his piece. This continues day by day.

    The story touched my heart and I thought to myself, "Why have I never heard this story before?" The story is both sad and beautiful as the darkness is parted and the brightness that is the human spirit shines forth.

    The illustrations are poignant, yet suitable for a children's book. The colors are drab neutrals which denote the bland, unlovely world that was Bosnia in the 1990s. Small touches of bright color peek through in the beauty of the flowers.

    Included in this publication is the true back story of Cellist Vedran Smailovic who was a cellist for the Sarajevo Opera, Sarajevo Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra RTV Sarajevo, and the National Theatre of Sarajevo. Also, the history of the embattled region that includes Sarajevo spanning more than a century. And the beautiful reading of the story by the author himself. The beautiful song is sung by John McCutcheon and played by Cellist Vedran Smailovic.

    I highly recommend.

    About the book: The moving story of a young boy who discovers the power of beauty and kindness during a time of war. Drasko helps his father sell flowers in Sarajevo, but when war threatens and his father is called to the battlefront, Drasko must take over the flower stall. One morning the boys familiar routine is shattered when a mortar shell hits the bakery, killing twenty-two people. The next day, a cellist from the Sarajevo Opera Orchestra goes to the crater and plays the most beautiful music that Drasko can imagine. Inspired, he looks for ways to ease the sorrow of those around him.

    Based on real events of the Bosnian War.

    DISCLOSURE: I received a complimen tary copy from Peachtree Publishing to facilitate a review. I was not compensated and opinions are my own, alone.

    Thursday, April 13, 2017

    Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures by Newbery Medal-winning author Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess and Deanna Nikaido & photos by National Geographic Fellow, photographer Joel Sartore [Review & Giveaway]

    Just in time for National Poetry Month and Earth Day in April, National Geographic Kids Books is thrilled to debut Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures (February 2017, ages 4-8, $15.99) by Newbery Medal-winning author Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess and Deanna Nikaido, featuring photos by National Geographic Fellow and photographer Joel Sartore.

    My thoughts: These photographs are absolutely fantastic. The photographer's talent (and patience) involved in capturing the images is superb. True to National Geographic quality, the book presents a child's view of animals that National Geographic is capturing in their photographic animal ark where they are storing images of as many critters as possible. Some may in the future become extinct and these images will have  historic and naturalistic value. Children and adults alike will enjoy looking and learning from this delightful picture book. The sparse text invites the reader to "look into their eyes" and "sing our names."  And lyric lines such as.....

    "wings like a cape, ready for flight into the sweet, dark night."      
    "how many feathers.... does it take to make a wing to fly, share sky"
    About the book: A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird - pairing the stunning photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the delicate poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this lush picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and fragility of the animal world.

    Featuring more than 40 unique animal portraits, the pages invite kids to explore each creature's markings, textures, and attributes in stunning detail, while calling on all of us to help protect each and every one. Three picture-packed gatefolds inside showcase even more familiar and exotic species. These images are part of Sartore's lifelong project to photograph every animal in the world, with special attention given to disappearing and endangered species.

    Animal Ark pairs Alexander’s mix of playful and powerful poetry with more than 100 of Sartore’s most compelling images of the world’s species to create a photographic ark for children that highlights the importance of conservation and celebrates the beauty, diversity and fragility of the animal world.  Animal Ark is inspired by the National Geographic Photo Ark, a multiyear effort with Sartore and the National Geographic Society to document every species in captivity—inspiring people not just to care, but also to help protect these animals for future generations.

    This picture book is a fantastic and unique selection for National Poetry Month and contains a message that is pitch perfect for Earth Day (April 22nd).

    And those adorable photographs don't "just happen." It takes hard work and a fair amount "those won't work" snaps.

    Open to USA Addresses Only
    Begins April 13
    Ends April 30 @ 12:01 a.m EDT
    Open to USA addresses only.
    DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own alone and are freely given. Prize is provided by and shipped to winner by MM Publicity on behalf of National Geographic.

    Wednesday, April 12, 2017

    Daddy's Girl by Helen Foster James & illustrated by Estelle Corke [Review & Giveaway]

    ISBN-13: 978-0824956813
    Hardcover - Ages 3 - 7
    My thoughts: Sheer delight! This lovely picture book captures the essence of a charming little girl who dearly loves her Daddy. She is all girly with frilly clothes, beads, hats and behavior. She excitedly goes about preparing for a tea party with her Daddy so it will be ready when he arrives home.

    Having raised three girls, I know their charm and their ability to throw themselves into the business of being a little girl and lovingly looking forward to their Daddy's arrival at the end of the day.

    Illustrated in soft, yet distinct pastels the cuteness and charm of this little girl is captured. The sweet love between daughter and father is evident. She is not just going to have a tea party, she is going to party with her Daddy (and Teddy Bear).

    Not included in the story, but quite evident from the little girl having all the tools to be so girly (beads, dress, tea set, bling, boa, etc.) that she has a mother that has shown by example the joy of being a girl.

    The rhyming story simply leaps from the page with joy and the last line resonates...... 'Daddy, tea is best with you."

    About the book: What’s more fabulous than a tea party? Tea with Daddy, of course! This exuberant story begins before the honored guest arrives, with much ado—preparing, decorating, and accessorizing. And when Daddy makes his entrance, it’s clear that the little hostess couldn’t be more thrilled. Perfect for daddy-daughter reading time, this new picture book and its warm conclusion are sure to serve up smiles and tug at heartstrings.
    Begins April 12
    Ends April 30 @ 12:01 a.m EDT
    Open to Continental USA addresses only
    DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Worthy Kids Publishing to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and freely given. Prize copy is provided directly to the winner by publisher.

    Sunday, April 9, 2017

    Andi Saddles Up & Andi Under the Big Top (Circle C Stepping Stones #1 & #2) by Susan K. Marlow

    Andi Saddles Up (Circle C Stepping Stones #1) by Susan K. Marlow

    Andi Carter has just turned nine--which means she and her palomino, Taffy, are old enough to be a real horse-and-rider pair at last! With a beautiful new saddle as a birthday present, Andi's sure she's ready to learn to trick ride like her friend Riley, even if her older brother Chad doesn't agree.

    Riding to a secret spot her brother doesn't know about to practice, Andi finds a new friend to play with. But her fun friendship with Sadie is put to the test when they discover that their families are caught in a boundary dispute. Both Sadie's pa and Chad are stubborn as mules and each is convinced he's right. Can Andi and Sadie hang on to their friendship in the midst of this adult fight?

    My thoughts: This series is "spot on" for readability for ages 7 to 10. It has lively action, good conversation, characters with which children can identify, excitement, frustration, joy, and adventure.

    Young Andi is celebrating her ninth birthday and feels as though she has reached a stepping stone age where she can be allowed privileges to ride her own horse and have her own saddle. Her birthday excitement is interrupted by a blustering and rude neighbor who charges into their home disputing their property boundaries.

    A well written story for young chapter book readers and charming pen drawings make this a delightful book to place in the hands of young girls. From the Christian publisher, Kregel, you can rely on it to be a good story, clean, spiritually uplifting.

    Andi Under the Big Top (Circle C Stepping Stones #2) by Susan K. Marlow

    The summer after Andi Carter turns nine the circus comes to town. She can't wait to get in line to see the elephants, acrobats, and--most of all--the champion bareback rider. What could be more thrilling than riding your very own horse under the big top?

    When the Carters see the show, Andi meets Henry Jackson, a small boy selling concessions. Andi thinks his job must be perfect, hanging out with happy clowns, exotic animals, and excited visitors. But it's not all fun and games. Henry shares a secret with Andi: he ran away from home to join the circus--and now he's trapped. Andi wants to help him get free. But helping him may mean losing something very special to her.

    My thoughts: The author, Susan K. Marlow, has in book #2 of the series provided a good early chapter book for boys and girls who love wholesome stories and a touch of adventure. The excitement of "the circus coming to town" that small towns experienced years ago is well presented with the young characters filled with the anticipation and joy of seeing the unusual animals, tents going up, and daring acts of circus performers.

    This is truly a good series for young readers and one I can highly recommend.

    DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies of both books from Kregel Publishing to facilitate reviews of my personal opinions which are freely given.

    Monday, April 3, 2017

    Long Time Gone by Mary Connealy


    Connealy Combines Western Action and Charming Historical Romance

    My thoughts:  I read book one in the Cimarron Legacy series by Mary Connealy and enjoyed her light hearted writing style, sense of humor, touches of historical setting, and sweet romance. In book two, the Cimarron ranch folks continue to fend off evil desperadoes and wind their way into the reader's heart with their inherent goodness.

    Featured this time is basically the story of Justin and Angie. We met Angie in book one as the new comer to the town who went to live and work with her Aunt Margaret who runs the Catholic orphanage and school. Justin is the oldest of the ranching clan although Cole is the actual oldest brother. Cole prefers mining to ranching and he was college educated back east. But because their father (previously seriously injured in book one) changes his will to involve all the kids living on the ranch, Cole is available with the others to fight off those intending to take the ranch away and wipe out the Boden family.

    Long Time Gone has the earmarks of a tried and true western but will appeal to ladies because it has those lovable heroes and heroines and that touch of sweet romance.

    Looking forward to Mary Connealy's next book to see just what happens to Cimarron Ranch and the folks living there and in the nearby areas. I recommend this as it is a good, clean book you can easily place in the hands of teens or adults.

    About the book:  The Boden clan thought their problems had ended with the death of a dangerous enemy, but have they truly uncovered the real plot to take their New Mexico ranch? Rancher Justin Boden is now in charge. He is normally an unshakable and rugged man, but with his brother, Cole, shot and in mortal danger, even a tough man faces doubts. And it doesn't help that Angie DuPree, the assistant to the doctor trying to save Cole, is as distracting a woman as Justin ever laid eyes on.

    With her and the doc's timely skills, Cole looks to be on the mend, and Justin and the rest of the Bodens can turn their attention back to the dangers facing them. It's clear now that everything that's occurred is part of a much bigger plot that could date back to a decades-old secret. Can they uncover all the pieces before danger closes in on them, or is the threat to the ranch even bigger than any of the Bodens could imagine?

    Author, Mary Connealy writes "romantic comedies with cowboys" and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie's Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero. Learn more at

    DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House a division of Baker Publishing Group to facilitate a review of my personal opinion which is freely given.

    Saturday, April 1, 2017

    Life After by Katie Ganshert

    My thoughts: Reading Life After is like taking a peek into the souls, hearts, minds, and lives of people. People who have been through a massive life changing event that shatters them to their very core. It is being enveloped in the emotions and heart wrenching hurt that they experience minute by minute and day by day.

    Being the sole survivor of a horrific bomb blast in the city's train, Autumn feels and experiences the "why me" feelings of survivor guilt. And then there are those she is now learning to know, people who are now in her circle of acquantaince experiencing daily life who lost their loved ones in the same train explosion.

    As the story unfolds new friendly relationships bloom and coping mechanisms begin to fall in place. However, the story is not just about people coming to terms and accepting what has happened to those lost in the bombing, it is about the difficulties they face in living their lives with their own personal shortcomings and interacting with family and friends.

    Katie Ganshert's writing style is fresh and compelling. This is not a book to skim through. Even though it is a work of fiction, there is a wealth of wisdom and insight to be gleaned from the reading of this story.

    About the book: Snow whirls around an elevated train platform in Chicago. A distracted woman boards the train, takes her seat, and moments later a fiery explosion rips through the frigid air, tearing the car apart in a horrific attack on the city’s transit system. One life is spared. Twenty-two are lost.

    A year later, Autumn Manning can’t remember the day of the bombing and she is tormented by grief—by guilt. Twelve months of the question constantly echoing. Why? Why? Why? Searching for answers, she haunts the lives of the victims, unable to rest.

    Paul Elliott lost his wife in the train bombing and wants to let the dead rest in peace, undisturbed and unable to cause more pain for his loved ones. He wants normalcy for his twelve year-old daughter and young son, to see them move beyond the heartbreak. But when the Elliotts and Autumn are unexpectedly forced together, he fears she’ll bring more wreckage in her wake.

    In Life After, Katie Ganshert’s most complex and unforgettable novel yet, the stirring prose and authentic characters pose questions of truth, goodness, and ultimate purpose in this emotionally resonant tale.

    Quotes to ponder from Life After:

    • "We worship a God who might not give us the miracle, but He will always give us the comfort."
    • “I guess that’s what life is...a whole bunch of little moments that don’t seem significant or life-altering at the time, but when you look back...they become the most profoundly beautiful things.”
    • "I'm not the most religious man. But I do believe in God. And the last I checked, He's the one in charge."
    • “Maybe comfort wasn't to be found in the why. Maybe comfort was to be found in the who. A God who wept."
    • "You know what I've learned about God?" ... "Circumstances don't dictate who He is."
    • “I guess that’s what life if, though, isn’t it? A whole bunch of little moments that don’t seem significant or life-altering at the time but when you look back...” She shook her head. “I don’t know. They become the most profoundly beautiful things.”
    • “This man had shown her a piece of his soul. A jagged, ugly, honest piece that was raw and bleeding and unlovely. A piece of his soul that matched a piece of hers.”
    • “She was a broken woman falling for a broken man who had a broken past and two beautiful, broken children.”

    DISCLOSURE: As a member of Katie Ganshert's launch team, I received an Advance Reader's Copy to facilitate a review of the book. Opinions are simply my own and are freely given without compensation. Published by: WaterbrookMultnomah Publishing.