Thursday, September 16, 2021

Birthdays, the Galaxies, and Engineering books to tickle a girl's fancy [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA 2 winners]

How to Have a Birthday by Mary Lyn Ray & illustrated by Cindy Derby 

My thoughts: 
Essentially the story celebrates the ways and joys of celebrating one's birthday. It is uniquely one's own. This is a cheerful story of ways (vaguely presented) one celebrates a birthday.

Key to the whole book is that it is a day, it is your day, it is your birthday. So while some don't celebrate with cake, presents, recording one's height, or blowing out candles, one can look forward to and celebrate the day they are one year older.

Sweet, cheerful book.

About the book: Joyful and utterly unique, this vibrant picture book celebrates the best birthday gift of all: a whole day that is yours to unwrap.

Wise and infinitely cozy, Mary Lyn Ray’s simple text and Cindy Derby’s fluid, playful illustrations invite readers of all ages to view that most extraordinary of ordinary days in a simple but festive new light, as if for the first time. What makes birthdays special? Whether you are turning three or one hundred and three, whether you are feted by others or sing yourself happy, the anticipation and surprise of the day you were born never fail to deliver “that shivery feeling that belongs only to a birthday.” An ideal gift for new and expectant parents, for children marking a birthday or attending their first party—for everyone who was ever born! This exuberant celebration in words and pictures will leave you feeling a warm connection to the cycle of life and growth.

Ada and the Galaxies by authors Alan Lightman & Olga Pastuchiv. Illustrated by Susanna Chapman

My thoughts: 
Ada is certainly a precocious little girl, quite lively, inquisitive, and loveable. I love the interaction between Ada and her grandparents who live on an island in Maine. Ada goes to visit them and wants to see and learn about the stars. She can't see stars in the night sky in New York because of all the lights. Maine is different  and the opportunity will hopefully present itself.

The book is a product of MIT Press and is the first children's book by MIT Professor Alan Lightman who draws from his personal family background for this book. We are told numbers given in the book are accurate as is the assumption that there are "people" on planets in other galaxies. 

I realize this is a story for preschool and early elementary age children, but I truly expected more "star" and "galaxy" in the book. There are pictures taken from the Hubble space telescope camera which brings authenticity to the story. 

All-in-all, the book is charming, a delightful read for little ones, a grand multi-generational story, and a bit of science to whet one's interest. 

About the book: Stargazers rejoice! In his first book for children, renowned physicist Alan Lightman and collaborators, with help from the Hubble telescope, light up the night sky.

New York Times best-selling author Alan Lightman, in collaboration with Olga Pastuchiv, brings galaxies close in a stunning picture-book tribute to the interconnectedness of the natural world. Layering photographs taken from the Hubble telescope into charming and expressive art, illustrator Susanna Chapman zooms in on one child's experiences: Ada knows that the best place for star-gazing is on the island in Maine where she vacations with her grandparents. By day, she tracks osprey in the trees, paddles a kayak, and hunts for shells. But she's most in her element when the sun goes down and the stars blink to life. Will the fog this year foil her plans, or will her grandfather find a way to shine a spotlight on the vast puzzle of the universe . . . until the weather turns?

The Girl Who Could Fix Anything: Beatrice Shilling, World War II Engineer by Mara Rockliff & illustrated by Daniel Duncan 

My thoughts: 
I absolutely love this biographic picture book. I knew women's roles during World War II were significant and important in a variety of fields. I had not heard of Beatrice Shilling and her achievements as an engineer.

This well written and enjoyable read coupled with the wonderful illustrations, will definitely encourage young readers to pursue reading about the accomplishments of real people doing really important things. And of course, the achievements of women in fields typically not attributed to women's accomplishments.

I highly endorse this book for public and school libraries as well as private collections. 

About the book: This true story of a woman whose brilliance and mechanical expertise helped Britain win World War II is sure to inspire STEM readers and fans of amazing women in history.

Beatrice Shilling wasn't quite like other children. She could make anything. She could fix anything. And when she took a thing apart, she put it back together better than before.

When Beatrice left home to study engineering, she knew that as a girl she wouldn't be quite like the other engineers--and she wasn't. She was better. Still, it took hard work and perseverance to persuade the Royal Aircraft Establishment to give her a chance.

But when World War II broke out and British fighter pilots took to the skies in a desperate struggle for survival against Hitler's bombers, it was clearly time for new ideas. Could Beatrice solve an engine puzzle and help Britain win the war? American author Mara Rockliff and British illustrator Daniel Duncan team up for a fresh look at a turning point in modern history--and the role of a remarkable woman whose ingenuity, persistence, and way with a wrench (or spanner) made her quite unlike anyone else. An author's note and a list of selective sources provide additional information for curious readers.

Begins September 16
Ends October 9 at 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open USA/CANADA. NO P.O. Boxes.
Canadian winner's must provide phone number.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prize is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.


  1. I sent a 'good morning' text to someone.

  2. I would put the books in Little Library at an elementary school.

  3. I babysat my niece's kids for a few hours today.

  4. I picked up groceries for my neighbor

  5. I am donating household and clothing items to the Salvation Army today

  6. We are Red Cross Disaster Responders. Did 3 fires this weekend.

  7. I let a stranger go in front of me in line today at the grocery store.

  8. I went to the orchard and got apples for my dad and my niece.


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