Sunday, October 31, 2021

Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep (Barbour Publishing)

My thoughts:  Set in 1815 London, the story is that of a naval surgeon who seeks a medical practice and so joins with experienced Mr. Peckwood. (Note: doctors of this era are referred to as Mr. and not Dr.). Soon after he has invested his entire fortune in the practice, he discovers that Mr. Peckwood is not the sort of doctor with which he wishes to be involved. 

 And then there is the "spinster," Amelia, who is a writer about travels and destinations. Her brother is a recluse because of a major physical impairment. Their lives change direction when Amelia receives news her father has died.

The connection between surgeon Graham Lambert and Amelia is made when Amelia's brother, Colin, becomes a patient of Mr. Peckwood.

Peckwood is an unsavory man with misguided intentions and unearthly scruples. We must remember this was 1815 and the practice of medicine was often quite barbaric. 

A couple of other delightful characters..... the little boy, "Nemo," the bossy maid, and the sickly "Ms. Bog." They all add  delight to this story.

I really enjoy the writing style of Michelle Griep and she did not disappoint in Lost in Darkeness. I do not consider this a "Gothic" tale as much as I do a story of misguided intentions and unscrupulous character. The darkness is there in the story, but it is not horrific such as a true Frankenstein story. It is interesting that the author has placed a neighbor to Amelia as the namesake of the author of the famous Frankenstien stories.

About the Book: Enchanting Regency-Era Gothic Romance Intertwined with Inspiration from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. 

Travel writer Amelia Balfour’s dream of touring Egypt is halted when she receives news of a revolutionary new surgery for her grotesquely disfigured brother. This could change everything, and it does. . .in the worst possible way.

Surgeon Graham Lambert has suspicions about the doctor he’s gone into practice with, but he can’t stop him from operating on Amelia’s brother. Will he be too late to prevent the man’s death? Or to reveal his true feelings for Amelia before she sails to Cairo?

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

"Christmas, Here I Come" [Review & Giveaway-USA/CANADA]


My sweater’s just ridiculous
with pictures of Saint Nicholas.
The right sleeve sports a massive hole.
It smells like green bean casserole.
It’s so big, it’s preposterous.
It might fit a rhinoceros.
But my sweater’s still the snuggliest—
who cares if it’s the ugliest?!
It's the most wonderful time of the year, and everyone is getting into the Christmas spirit! From writing letters to Santa to picking the perfect tree, these heartwarming poems -- plus a page of stickers! -- from author D. J. Steinber are sure to delight even the most sullen Scrooge.

My thoughts:  This is a decidedly secular Christmas book for children. There is absolutely no mention of the religious foundation that underlies the real meaning of Christmas. A small, budget friendly, little book of fun for leading up to the Christmas holidays. Kiddies will love the page of stickers in the back. A real buy at $5.99 for a paperback copy.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and mailed directly to the winner by publisher or publicist.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Candlewick Christmas books: "Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of Christmas" & "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore & illustrations by P.J. Lynch

My thoughts: 
The traditional text that is "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" is again retold with all it's charm. The cadence in the telling of the mystery that is the visit of Santa, is captured in the artistry of P. J. Lynch whose renderings are evocative of classic and timelessness revelations of the period in which this beloved traditional poem was first written.

Swaths of blues, black, browns, greys wash over the pages; and under these shadows of the night, the story's characters enact the story. The kids in their bed (shown three to a bed as might often have been the way things were done in Clement Moore's time), mice asleep behind the walls with their nest of clutter, reindeer barely visible in the night sky.

Beautiful detail in the illustrations are softly rendered and worth seeking out under the wash of darkness that bespeaks night.

For those who love new versions and editions of Mr. Moore's famous Christmas time poem, you might want to have your copy of this one, too. A lovely book.

About the book: The classic Christmas verse in an elegant new gift edition--breathtakingly illustrated by P.J. Lynch.

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house . . .

P.J. Lynch brings his rich and atmospheric art to the well-loved holiday poem. Children will pore over every cozy detail in these warm, sweeping watercolor illustrations--from snug mice to stockings hung by the chimney with care to toys in the bundle flung over merry St. Nicholas's back. A glowing interpretation of a favorite read-aloud, this is a keepsake volume to cherish and return to year after year

Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of Christmas by Mark Lee & illustrated by Kurt Cyrus

My thoughts: 
Little boys (well, girls too) love trucks. And in today's world we all know the importance of trucks carrying our treasures, our food, aiding in building and construction. 

In this book the whole town is working together to decorate for Christmas and trucks bring the different items for the decorations to the center of town. All is going well, all working together, until a mishap occurs and the star being placed atop the huge town Christmas tree falls.

This is a cute book and all the trucks will delight toddlers.

About the book: Add a big dose of Christmas cheer to an array of trucks for counting and you have the components of read-aloud holiday magic.

One doughnut truck, on a cold winter day, drives into town and parks and stays.

The snowy town is filling up with a procession of trucks of all shapes and sizes, including a snowplow, a crane, a digger, a semitrailer transporting the town's majestic Christmas tree, and even a flatbed carrying Santa's sleigh. All in all, twenty trucks roll in full of sparkle and anticipation, ready to set up the holiday festivities. But when the star being hoisted to the top of the Christmas tree wobbles and crashes to the ground, what could possibly be used to replace it? Thankfully, a pair of siblings scan the scene and come up with the perfect solution. Author Mark Lee and illustrator Kurt Cyrus team up again for a buoyant story delivering satisfying rhymes, holiday spirit, and most importantly, twenty trucks for counting.

Both books for 2 winners
Begins October 26
Ends November 16 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA/Canada addresses. NO P.O. Boxes
Canadians phone required.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prizes are provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Bedtime With Mommy by Nancy I Sanders & illustrated by Felia Hanakata [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: 
Sweetness and cuteness in adorable abundance.

Children will love how all the baby animals cuddle up to their own mommy as night approaches and sleep-time draws nigh. This will set the emotional mood for human little ones to drift off to comfortable, confident, assured sleep knowing mommy has tucked them in.

Precious and lovable. Pictures are charming and the text is gentle with simple rhyme.

References to prayer, hymns, Psalms classify this as Christian. I highly recommend this sweet, softly padded board book for little one.

About the book: All around the world, it’s bedtime, and Mommies are tucking little ones into bed.

From the elephants on the grasslands to the camels in the desert to the polar bears in the Arctic, it’s time for snuggles, prayers, and bedtime kisses. This adorable boardbook features a Mommy and baby animal in 8 different habitats getting ready for bed. And the final spread is when Mommy tucks a child into bed. 

“I love bedtime with Mommy.  When we turn off the light. Her kisses, snuggles, prayers, and hugs Are special every night!”

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Giveaway is hosted independently of Chat With Vera.

Friday, October 22, 2021

Labyrinth of Lies (Triple Threat #2) by Irene Hannon

My thoughts:
As the title indicates, the story is a labyrinth. Complex. Twisting. Elusive identities. The author has developed likable characters whose individual complexities befuddle the reader lending to the intricately woven plot.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and the setting of a posh St. Louis boarding school was really nice. It takes place during a very cold Winter. Undercover detectives working as a teacher and a student were fun to imagine. 

The three Reilly sisters' loving bond is evidenced as two interact with their sister,  Detective Cate, in Labyrinth of Lies. When I read and reviewed Triple Threat #1, Point of Danger, I first met the three sisters and Eve was the main character. 

Murder. Missing students. Drugs. Mexican cartel. Innocent bystanders. Romance that is sweet but has a back story that classifies the story (in my opinion) for older teens and adults. 

The convoluted path through the story was not discoverable until near the end of the book. I thoroughly enjoy this book and Irene Hannon continues to be a favorite author. I look forward to Triple Threat #3 to see what happens next to the other Reilly sister.

About the book: When the daughter of a high-profile businessman disappears from an exclusive girls' boarding school, police detective Cate Reilly is tapped for an undercover assignment. It doesn't take her long to realize that beneath the veneer of polish and wealth, things are not as they seem at Ivy Hill Academy. But the biggest surprise of all? The only man she ever loved is also working at the school.

Zeke Sloan has never forgotten Cate, but now isn't the best time for their paths to cross again. When their two seemingly disparate agendas begin to intertwine--and startling connections emerge among the players--the danger escalates significantly. But who is the mastermind behind the elaborate ruse? And how far will they go to protect their house of cards?

Queen of romantic suspense Irene Hannon invites you to scale the heights of human folly and plumb the depths of the human heart in this second gripping book in the Triple Threat series.

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

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

"We Are One: How the World Adds Up" by Susan Hood & "Moose's Book Bus" by Inga Moore [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

Moose’s Book Bus

My thoughts:  This is a wonderful book. The illustrations are an absolute delight. I just love that all the forest critters walk around on two legs. They've been given some very human characteristics as well.

So much truth and absolutes in this sweet story. Literacy. Sharing. Helping. Providing. Kindness. Generosity. Ingenuity. Creativity.

I highly recommend this book. Children will love to have it read and re-read to them. You'll want to make sure your school and public libraries have copies as well.

About the book: In Inga Moore's charming companion to A House in the Woods, Moose's library outing soon has the whole woodland community crowding into his house to read together. Leave it to Moose to find a solution--on wheels!

Distinguished author-illustrator Inga Moore reunites the cast of A House in the Woods for another tale of friendship and ingenuity. When Moose runs out of stories to tell his family after dinner, he ventures to the town library for books. No sooner is he settled in at home to read them aloud than Bear, Badger, Fox, Hare, Mole, the Three Wild Pigs, and even the Beavers crowd in to listen. Soon everyone is packed in like sardines. What's a clever Moose to do? With its warm, whimsical cast and a snug woodland setting evoked by earthy illustrations, this playful nod to the power of books and libraries to create community will reward new and returning fans alike.

We Are One: How the World Adds Up by Susan Hood 

My thoughts: 
This is not a typical count to 10 book for very young children. Though it is designed to appeal to the young child, the thought processes involve more than one apple and add one apple to equal two apples. 

It begins with.... "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts." ("credited to Aristotle, ancient Greek philosopher.") And then the small print explanatory text gives an example that a pile of sticks built into a campfire is greater as a whole (the fire) than the sum of all the sticks.

So this mind expanding children's book goes on to serve up a variety of informational tidbits along with the math concepts. 
  • A compass always points North and is caused by the Earth's magnetic force draw. A compass has 4 points pointing directions North, East, South, West
  • For the number 5, we learn that ballet has 5 basic positions
  • 7 is a great number. There are 7 colors in visible light. 7 seas on Earth. 
  • Baseball lovers will love the number 9. Example: 9 players, 9 innings, 9 positions
  • And 10 is special as numeric systems are on a base of 10. Think, 10 years = a decade; 10 decades = a century; 10 centuries = a millennium. And we often learn to count on our 10 fingers and 10 toes.
Truly an interesting book to read and ponder.

About the book: One can be one thing all on its own—one star, one stream, one stick, one stone. But those on their toes, those using their smarts, know one can be more than the sum of its parts.

Consider the two slices of bread that make up one sandwich, or the three lines of poetry that form one haiku, or even the ten years that form one decade. From one to ten, from sandwiches to centuries, every part is necessary to the whole. In this fascinating concept book, a simple rhyming narration aimed at younger children is complemented by informational panels about subjects like the four compass points, the five acts in Shakespeare, the seven colors of a rainbow, or the nine innings in baseball. Award-winning author Susan Hood and debut children’s book illustrator Linda Yan offer a mind-expanding look at early math concepts such as part/whole relationships, fractions, and addition—while underlying themes of cooperation, peace, and kindness make this beautiful volume one to be enjoyed by anyone at any age.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts—and unity and connection are most important of all—in a beautifully illustrated counting book with a timely message.
Begins October 20
Ends November 13 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA & CANADA addresses
No P.O.Boxes, Canada phone required
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' prize is provided and sent directly to the winners by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

My Israel and Me by Alice McGinty + The Rabbi & the Painter by Shoshana Weiss [Review & Giveaway USA]

Kalaniot Books, an imprint of Endless Mountains Publishing, aims to introduce young readers to the rich mosaic of Jewish culture and history with books by Jewish authors and artists from around the world.

My Israel and Me by Alice McGinty and illustrated by Rotem Teplow (ISBN: 978-1-735087535; Hardcover $19.99; Ages 4-11; 32 pages) 

My thoughts:
This sweet book takes the young reader across the tiny land of Israel showing the diversity of peoples and features of the land itself.

I really enjoyed the light poetic story of My Israel and Me as it is told from a child's point of view. Along side the poetic story on facing pages is another storyline. This one is a textual biographic and geographic telling about Israel.

I like the simple story and pictures that this book brings to the young reader. I especially like that there is not a political or specific religious thread or platform espoused. It simply talks about Israel.

I recommend.

About the book: In recent history, Israel’s role in the world’s consciousness has been one of conflict, but over the centuries, millions of people have also traced their history, culture, and religion back to this tiny desert land. The result is a country with an incredible variety of peoples and traditions, and a diaspora that still feels connected to that homeland, thinking of it as “My Israel.”

Told in verse, the book introduces readers to the diversity of Israel’s people from a child’s perspective. Explanatory text sheds light on the varied cultures and traditions that inspire the special connection many feel with “their Israel.” Though coincidental, this book has arrived at a critical time and Kalaniot Books hopes it proves useful to parents and educators in starting thoughtful conversations and sharing their own insights about the complicated feelings surrounding modern day Israel.

The Rabbi and the Painter by Shoshana Weiss, illustrated by Jennifer Kirkham (ISBN: 978-0998852782)

My thoughts: 
 This is an interesting story from the Renaissance time (1500s). Much great art was created during this time period and one of those artists was Tintoretto. 

Commissioned to create a painting for a Venetian Christian church, he began the task of planning, sketching, and painting. 

Some years prior, Tintoretto had met a young Jewish boy and a friendship was formed. During this historic period, the Jews were required by law to live in a ghetto isolated from the rest of the city. However, some were free to come and go. When outside the ghetto they were required to wear a yellow circle on their clothes. And this young boy was outside the ghetto when he made acquaintance with Tintoretto.

Desiring to make his art as authentic as possible, Tintoretto remembered his Jewish friend who was now a Rabbi. He sought him out and they worked together to make the details authentic.

A rare friendship. A rare undertaking to study and work together. 

And a nice story. It might be real and it might just be a story. But it gives children an opportunity to learn of how Jews were made to separate themselves from other peoples. An opportunity to learn of a famous artist who created famous, long lasting works of Christian art. And to gain a vision of diverse people working together toward a common goal.

About the book: Based on stories handed down from the past, this is the tale of a unique relationship between the 16th Century Venetian painter Tintoretto and Rabbi Leon Modena also known as Yahuda Araya.

Both men push at the boundaries of convention. Tintoretto breaks all the artistic rules of the Renaissance with his mannerist painting style while Rabbi Modena's interests extend far beyond the typical confines of the ghetto's synagogue life to the secular world around him.

In The Rabbi and the Painter we are transported to a place where cultures mix to create breathtaking masterpieces.
Begins October 18
Ends November 6 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
Disclosure: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's books are provided and shipped directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

Approaching Anger, Microbes, and Mazes from a child's mindset [3-book review]

When I See Red by Britta Teckentrup (ISBN: 978-3-7913-7494-9; Hardcover $14.95; Ages 4+; 40 pages)

My thoughts:  I have mixed feelings about this book. The first half has a young girl absolutely raging in anger. Storming. Yelling. Red and black with anger. Spewing forth that anger on the World at large.

A lot of pages of anger.

Then the emotional climate begins to calm, settle, and the anger is overcome. All well and good and as it should be. 

But I just wonder if there is too much of the outrageous, raging anger in the story and in the images. Does this heavily implant in the child's mind that it is ok to rant and rage to stomp and screech? So long as you settle down afterwards?

I can see using this with a group of teens or adults to show them the utter wrongness that such outbursts of anger are. And you can't make up after all that anger and be nice and calm.

The use of anger to engage and result in correcting wrongs can be good or it can be bad. The idea behind this book is to use the anger constructively. But I'm afraid there is too much allowance for raging anger. 

We see mobs raging in anger because of ills of society, unjust issues, misuse of power. Mob anger is not a source of good. 

So what I'm essentially saying is that much care needs to be used in using this book with children.  

About the book: The heroine of this beautifully illustrated story feels her anger like a storm in a dark forest. It sweeps her away, and she thunders and howls. She pours down her emotions like sheets of rain; rage surges like a wind whipping angry waves. Her anger takes her on a wild ride.

Appropriate for a wide variety of ages, this book illustrates many aspects of anger that are often hard to articulate— how overwhelming it is, how isolating, even scary. But it also shows anger to be a source of power and an agent for change. Teckentrup’s impactful, boldly colored paintings skillfully evoke the way intense anger can take us on an emotional journey, one that can be both exhausting and affirming. This beautiful tribute to one girl’s experience of anger offers readers the opportunity to make sense of, and talk about their own feelings of rage in a time when that kind of understanding is more important than ever.

Is There Life on Your Nose? by Christian Bortslap (ISBN: 978-3-7913-7497-0; Hardcover $17.95; Ages 6+; 56 pages)

My thoughts:  This nonfiction book is funny and simple in its explanation of the tiny microbe world that lives all around us. There is not a lot of focus on the "germ" aspect as there is focus on the ever present and everywhere existence of all types of microbes. 

The end pages have more detailed information associated with each page previously stated in simplistic terms.

The book is simply and brightly illustrated. 

About the book: Germs, microbes, bacteria—these days those words are fraught with fear and uncertainty. But they’re not all bad. In fact, most of them make life and nature possible. Christian Borstlap’s playful, boldly colored illustrations and cheerful text will help kids understand that microbes are everywhere—in our noses and tummies, in the food we eat, in the air we breathe. From the world’s largest organism in Oregon’s Blue Mountains, to the bacteria that started life on earth; from microbes that help recycle plastic, to yeast that makes bread taste good—this book shows the incredible diversity of these tiny beings and how they affect every aspect of our lives. Borstlap uses both science and humor to demystify a potentially scary subject, and closes with double-page spreads that are packed with information to satisfy the most curious readers.

The Book of Labyrinths and Mazes by Silke Vry and illustrated by Finn Dean (ISBN: 978-3-7913-7474-1; Hardcover $19.95; Ages 7+; 96 pages)

My thoughts:  I'm not a "puzzle, labyrinth, or maze" person. So this books doesn't entice me or draw me into its pages.

However, it is informative and I did learn that there is a difference between a labyrinth and a maze.  I also learned that they have been around since man's early history. They have played a role in religions as well as entertainment.

I think the book would be quite interesting to those who already have a liking or love for  the complexities of labyrinths and mazes. I think that the illustrations are nice but would have been better had the images been more defined in nature rather than the soft tonal drawings.

This is a good book for a library so older children and adults can borrow and ponder.

About the book: This brilliant book on mazes and labyrinths in history and the modern world encourages young readers to really think about why these puzzles are so appealing. Filled with photographs, drawings, artwork, illustrations, and puzzles, it takes a thematic approach to these enigmatic works. Why are we sometimes afraid to get lost—and why does the idea excite us? How do mazes and labyrinths figure in history and mythology? What can nature tell us about humankind’s obsession with lines, spirals, and patterns? Along the way children will learn about the labyrinth designed by Daedalus for King Minos in the ancient city of Crete; the mystery of the Hemet Maze Stone in southern California; and the magnificent labyrinth at the Cathedral of Chartres. They are encouraged to trace their fingers along a labyrinth to experience its soothing effect, to solve maze-related number puzzles, and to create their own mazes and labyrinths. Packed with fun facts and engaging ideas, this book will help children understand why mazes and labyrinths are so popular, while inspiring them to identify and create these fascinating puzzles in their own world.

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

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

You Are Revolutionary by Author Cindy Wang Brandt & Illustrated by Lynnor Bontigao [Review & Giveaway - USA]

My thoughts:  This is really a lovely, joyful, exciting, well written and well illustrated book. I really like it. I like, too, the concept that children should learn early that they can be an instrument to further the betterment for people and society in general. They can exemplify kindness, gentleness, love, caring, and help in the world in which they live.

So why am I conflicted about the book?

I wouldn't hesitate to have it in my home for my children (if they were still children); but then, I would moderate the book's underlying current of promoting elements of today's social mores that I believe are inappropriate. (But that is for discussion at a different time.)

I don't think children should be part of mass gatherings - no matter what the adults are promoting. This is especially true in today's climate when a mass gathering can easily become violent. I also don't think children should be out going door to door or standing on street corners handing out promotional information sheets. 

I think children should be at home playing. I think that "play is the work of children." I think their time should be spent learning and exercising.

Now that doesn't say their very existence is not revolutionary because I agree with the book's author that a child changes things and they are uniquely revolutionary.

I can endorse this book with the understanding that there is good in it but there are also elements* that will take care in handling.

About the book: A wonderful new Children’s Book by Author Cindy Wang Brandt, Kid Activists, and activities to encourage empathy and creativity in kids.  

Parenting expert and Author Cindy Wang Brandt has written a beautiful children’s book - vibrantly illustrated by Artist Lynnor Bontigao. You Are Revolutionary features a diverse group of children taking up a call to action and using their individual gifts to change the world.

“You Are Revolutionary is beautifully written and is accompanied by such thoughtful and engaging illustrations. This book is such a powerful way of igniting the path to self-empowerment for our youngest leaders and change makers.” — Nora Mata, New York Times bestselling illustrator of I Promise by Lebron James

You Are Revolutionary is an inspiring picture book that speaks to every child who sees injustice in the world, revealing they have everything they need inside themselves to make big, transformative change - just as they are. Every kid is a revolutionary! Kids who are loud, kids who are quiet, kids who make art, kids who are good at math, kids with lots of energy, kids who are good listeners - all kids have what it takes to make a difference.

“In the lyrical style of You Are So Wonderful (Beaming Books), Cindy Wang Brandt’s You Are Revolutionary reminds children of their inherent place and that they are not too young to be revolutionaries.”  — The Reverend Jacqueline J. Lewis, Ph.D., Senior Minister of Middle Collegiate Church in New York City

Begins October 14
Ends October 28 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by publicist or publisher. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.
*Near end of book... child's T-shirt says "I take Naps and I'm WOKE." - Group of shouting, fists in air children with signs.... "Housing is a human right," "Homes for All!", "End Evictions," "Homes Not Jails," "Homelessness is not a crime." 

Fall National Geographic treasures for kids 8-12 - African Animals, Zeus the Mighty, & Kid's World Atlas

Ultimate Book of African Animals by Emmy Award-Winning Filmmakers Beverly and Dereck Joubert (ages 8-12, hardcover)

My thoughts: 
This beautiful large (oversized) hardcover book is home to spectacular photographs, drawings, and information about the enormously varied animal life of Africa. 

The book groups the animals. The extinct animals of Africa are shown - even those who became extinct prior to man's impact on animals.

If you want an armchair safari or just want to learn about the varied creatures on Earth and specifically Africa, this is a magnificent book to own.

I recommend.

About the book: Ready for an adventure of a lifetime? With National Geographic photographer-filmmaker duo Beverly and Dereck Joubert as their guides, readers are transported to the plains of the Serengeti, the sands of the Sahara and the shaded nooks of the rainforest. Dereck and Beverly are eight-time Emmy award-winning filmmakers, National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence and wildlife conservationists who have been filming, researching and exploring Africa for over 35 years.  By sharing their stories of life on safari and Beverly's jaw-dropping photography, this dynamic duo gives the reader unique, behind-the-lens access to Africa's wildlife, how they live, play and hunt and how they have adapted to their wild, one-of-a-kind environments.  A big, beautiful guide to animals that roar, race and "totally rule," this gift-worthy book is overflowing with facts, stats and photos of animals of all behaviors, shapes and sizes -- including the tiny bombardier beetle, the sneaky desert viper, mischievous monkeys, elusive Ethiopian wolves, as well as fan favorites like lions, elephants, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, hippos, gorillas, rhinos, and so many more.    

Zeus the Mighty Book 3: The Trials of Hairy-Clees by Crispin Boyer (ages 8-12, hardcover, National Geographic Kids Under the Stars fiction imprint)  

"Readers will appreciate the overlay of this mythological world atop the real-life operations of a pet rescue center and how Boyer manages to fit all the plot pieces together perfectly. Great characters, action, adventure, and lots of humor" -- School Library Connection

"A treat for proto–Percy Jackson fans.” — Kirkus Reviews

My thoughts: 
I think this is a fun book for kids 8 years and up who are reading chapter books. It will give them a glimpse into Greek mythology and even provides some end pages of real information.

The story is a "take" on the Greek myths in today's vernacular and the setting is Athens, Georgia and it's a bunch of animals. The tone of the story from the snippet I read is light and fun to read.

I think it would be a lot of fun for a middle-elementary to young middle-school child to read.

About the book: Get your Greek mythology fix!  Welcome to Mount Olympus, a pet supply and rescue center that sits high on a hill in Athens, Georgia. The overconfident hamster Zeus, wise cat Athena, and other rescued pets live there under the watchful eye of their caretaker, Artie, who's obsessed with Greek mythology. The pets overhear her favorite podcast, Greeking Out, and now believe themselves to be the actual megastars of mythology!  Book 3 begins with a challenge: The Trials of Hairy-Clees are only for the bravest and most awesome gods of all. Who among them will become the ultimate champion? The pets of Mount Olympus Pet Center are a true team: They conquer epic quests as easily as Ares the pug scarfs down Mutt Nuggets and they vanquish enemies who are pricklier than the spines on Poseidon the pufferfish. But when a chicken named Hermes shows up one day, things take a turn, and before the team knows it, the Oracle has spoken and the mysterious Trials of Hairy-Clees begin! Who will become top god? And can Zeus learn to share the limelight to fight alongside Hermes? More info about all the titles in the series and its characters, a book trailer, printables, "Truth Behind the Fiction," Greeking Out podcast  (yes, it's real!), games and the Educators Guide, click HERE.  

NG Kids World Atlas 6th Edition (ages 10+, hardcover and paperback)

"No one does maps or atlases with as much panache and knowledge as National Geographic" - Washington Post

My thoughts:
What's not to love about this beautiful book about our wonderful world. It's an atlas so it tells and shows us places, how to get there, what's there, etc. Lots of grand information.

The pictures are absolutely awesome. The scope of material covered, fantastic. The treasure that is this book is on a grand scale topping wonderful.

As people, we need to know and understand our world on a global scale and as people have not understood or had access to information previously. This book gives young people the opportunity to have at their fingertips information to help them understand and work together for a preserved world.

I highly recommend.

About the book: This Fall, the map experts at National Geographic debuts the sixth edition of their Kids World Atlas -- the perfect reference for kids to learn about lands close to home or oceans away. This title is an authoritative and well-designed with completely updated maps, stats, and facts about the people, places, trends, and developments of our world.  Highlights include the latest geographic and political information, a new map on global migration that introduces kids to the movement of people around the world, new graphics that present facts in an easy-to-read format, a place-name index with more than 3,000 locations, colorful photography that shows the beauty and diversity of our world and more than 120 maps, each one telling a story.   Now more than ever, kids need to understand the world from a global perspective -- this is an invaluable resource for using in the classroom or reading at home.

3 National Geographic Kid's books
Begins October 13
Ends November 5 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize books are provided and shipped directly to the winner by publicist or publisher. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Saturday, October 9, 2021

"Time For Bed, Old House" & "The Sun Shines On the Sea" [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

Time for Bed, Old House by Janet Costa Bates & illustrated by A.G. Ford 

My thoughts: 
This sweet book shows the care that man puts into closing up his home for the night. A home is a living place when caring people live within its walls.

As Grandpop goes about getting ready for bed and getting his grandson into his pajamas, he tells his "I'm not sleepy" grandson that "'s time to put the house to bed."

So they go through the motions of pulling the shades, turning off lights, tip toeing up the stairs.

A sweet and beautifully illustrated book.

About the book: Isaac is excited about having a sleepover at Grandpop’s house, but he’s a little nervous about being away from home for the first time. Luckily, his knowing Grandpop tells him it’s not quite time to go to bed yet—first, he needs Isaac’s help in putting the house to bed. Quietly and slowly, they move from room to room, turning out lights and pulling down shades, as Grandpop gently explains the nighttime sounds that Isaac finds unfamiliar. Now it’s time to read the house a bedtime story (Isaac is good at reading the pictures). By the time the house is settled in for the night, Isaac and Grandpop are ready for bed, too. Janet Costa Bates’s tender story and A. G. Ford’s cozy illustrations will have families—and extended families or friends—eager to take a wise Grandpop’s cue and embrace a new nighttime tradition.

The Sun Shines on the Sea by Michael Slack

My thoughts: 
I'd say this board picture book is multileveled in application for the young child. 

It is simply a fun book to see the layers of life in the sea.

It is a life-cycle of the sea book showing how each life is dependent on another.

It shows the circular food-chain of creatures of the sea.

It shows that all this life is dependent on the Sun.

It is also an ideal book that can show the child that every creature eats - even young children. You can address as you read which of the sea creatures you might have for dinner.

I like that it is not too dumbed-down for young listeners.

About the book: A gentle introduction to the food chain for the preschool set, this eye-catching lift-the-flap book has a fun twist ending.

The sun shines on the sea. Phytoplankton soak up the sun. Hungry krill feast on the plankton. Next, a shoal of fish swirl around the krill. Then along comes some squid . . . And on it goes, up the oceanic food chain, from squid to tuna to shark and, finally, to whale. But what is the whale hungry for? Little ones will delight in lifting the flaps to discover what's in each creature's belly--and will enjoy the unexpected twist of the largest animal feasting on one of the smallest. With enticing flaps, simple language, and brightly stylized illustrations, Michael Slack takes very young children on a sea journey up the food chain and around in a circle for a final surprise.
Begins October 9
Ends November 1 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA/CANADA addresses. No P.O.Boxes.
Canadian winners must provide phone number.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winners' copies are provided and shipped directly to the winner by Candlewick Press Publishing, publicist, or author. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Pandemics and Survival


Global illness. No known treatment. 

Non-discriminate on who becomes ill or who dies.

Covid-19. Spanish Flu or Flu Pandemic of 1918. Black plague. "The Pox." Polio.

Man's battle against microscopic enemy has waged war in epic proportions and sometimes won and sometimes lost. But man, being an intelligent being and vying for the continuation of humanity, fights on.

My family,  those through history and currently living, have been touched ever so lightly by pandemics. We've been so thankful to have been spared. 

I recall stories my husband's father told of how as a young army man during WWI the Spanish Flu waged rampant. So many young, strong men were sick and dying. My father-in-law, a young man at the time, unmarried, and in the army became ill. 

He was a "strapping" strong young man who had grown up on a southern farm. It was a 2-mule farm and his father worked his sons as hard as he worked the mules. Each son inherited a portion of the farm, but my father-in-law went into the army. 

He didn't get to fight in the traditional sense of a country at war. But he fought. He fought the Spanish Flu. There were so many sick and only the ones expected to survive were cared for. The others were placed in the "dead room."

My father-in-law was placed in the "dead room" where he remained for two weeks.

As he told and re-told this story, his face would become slack and a faraway gaze would come into his eyes. It was undoubtedly a terrible experience. But he lived.

He lived. Married. Fathered six children (one died in infancy). Raised his family during the great depression and fed them by working hard at various jobs. He was a hard working, strong man that lived 97 years.

Pandemics. They come. They go. They destroy. They spare. But man must fight with every tool available to be certain that mankind does survive. That our young don't perish nor our weakened older generation suffer.

I am thankful for the Smallpox vaccination, the Polio vaccination, the Measles-Mumps-Rubella vaccination. Others that have either eradicated or controlled the pandemics and despicable illnesses that man faces.

Friday, October 1, 2021

"189 Canaries", "I Can Help," & "Black & White" are superb fall releases from Eerdmans Young Readers Books

Eerdmans BYR

189 Canaries by Dieter Böge & illustrated by Elsa Klever

My thoughts:
The tiny Canary has brought joy and comfort to many as they sing their tiny hearts out while captured in their cages and placed in homes of many. 

I wondered when I saw the book title just why such a specific number. As the story unfolded I understood.

Illustrated in dirty, dark colors the spot of brightness comes from the gaiety that is the cheerful bird - the Canary. The author tells the story of the single canary's journey along with that of 188 other canaries across the ocean to find a new home. The end pages give history and details of canaries, their cages, their journey, and also how used in mines to determine safe breathing air.

A good book.

About the book: In a cozy room in northern Germany, a yellow canary sings rolling melodies to the miners and carpenters of the Harz mountains. But today a bird dealer has come, and he will take the canary far, far away from everything he knows. The journey leads onto trains and steamships, across Europe and even the Atlantic. At last the canary arrives in a room in New York where he hears a strangely familiar song…

This beautiful, poignant book introduces readers to the little-known history of a beloved songbird. Lushly illustrated in rich colors, 189 Canaries is an unforgettable story about music, migration, and the search for home.

I Can Help by Reem Faruqi & illustrated by Mikela Prevost

My thoughts:
  This is quite an interesting take on the elementary classroom and student-helping-student activity. It begins with a multi-ethnic/racial classroom and shows good and bad interactions between children.

This interaction doesn't seem to be based on ethnical or racial issues, but just on human behavior. The little girl just simply wants to be a helper. And Kyle, the little white boy who constantly needs help, needs someone. Finally, she is chosen by the teacher to help. Delighted, she and Kyle work well together.

Then on the playground her girl classmates (strangely, they seem caucasian - she is dark skinned) belittle her helpful activities and she feels shame. Then she stops helping Kyle much to her own distress.

A year passes, and then strangely she gets another chance, but not with Kyle.

A good story of getting along together, helping, and the effect of attitudes on one another.

About the book: When Ms. Underwood asks if anyone wants to help Kyle, Zahra always volunteers. She loves spending time with Kyle—he’s creative and generous, and he makes the funniest jokes at lunch. But when Zahra’s other classmates start teasing her for helping him, she starts making choices she regrets.

I Can Help is a gentle, sensitive portrayal of reaching out, facing peer pressure, and learning from past mistakes. With thoughtful storytelling and poignant illustrations, this book will open discussions about choosing kindness in the classroom and beyond.

Black and White by Debora Vogrig & illustrated by Pia Valentinis

My thoughts:
 This book of stark contrasts uses the absolute difference that is black and white to show that in life there are contrasts and differences.

Black is the night or darkness. White is the sunlight, day, or light. But they go on either enveloping each the other or complimenting and creating beauty in design. 

Across the day and the globe, the two persist in discovering their ability to work together to show the compliment design of that which is.
About the book: Black and White are so different—how can they ever get along? White wants to explore the world, but Black would rather stay under the bed. Black is playful and creative; White wants everything neat and tidy. But when Black and White work together, they can go on the most amazing adventures . . .

Perfect for teaching colors and opposites, Black and White is an imaginative exploration of the joys of diversity.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of each book to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Books provided by Eerdmans Publishing.