Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Having fun with Candlewick children's books [Review & Giveaway]

The Princess and the (Greedy) Pea by Leigh Hodgkinson (ages 3-7)

My thoughts:
  The cover of this book is delightfully cute and the colors a palette of happiness. Throughout the book the illustrations are cute, colorful, and funny.

The storyline is that of a fractured nursery rhyme or fairy tale and it is told along the lines of a cumulative tale/rhyme. The "voice" changes a bit when the princess enters the story. The rhyme bounces along nicely.

The text itself..... The font is cute, kind of swirly but just absolutely too small. It is presented as black ink on a white background which is appropriate. However, some pages have the colored text on dark backgrounds which are hard to read. All in all, the text loses on this one.

The "pea" is a gluttonous character that gets fatter and fatter. He ends up being devoured by the princess in the end. These two elements are key to the story but I didn't care for them.

About the book: A gluttonous pea runs afoul of a very hungry princess in this playful cautionary tale inspired by a favorite cumulative rhyme and a classic fairy tale.

There was a green pea who swallowed a sprout. Without a doubt, a brussels sprout. What’s that about?

I am concerned about the small type font and also about the small
type on dark background. Difficult to read but cute illustrations.

This little pea is hungry! So hungry it swallows a sprout, slurps up some soup, munches the bread, gobbles the cake, noshes the pickle, guzzles the cheese, drinks all the tea, and even chomps down the table it’s all served on. After all that, it needs to sleep. But whose dinner did it steal? And whose mattress is the now-humungous pea resting under? With bold, delightfully detailed illustrations and a bouncy verse perfect for reading aloud, this wickedly funny mash-up of “The Princess and the Pea” and “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” will have little listeners clamoring for multiple helpings.

Taxi, Go! Hardcover by Patricia Toht & illustrated by Maria Karipidou (Ages 3-5)


My thoughts:
  Such a cute book and the Taxi takes on a personality of its own. Reminds me of books when my children were small about personable cars and trucks. Also, the cute story takes the reader all around town and the countryside as Taxi goes about taking riders ("fares") from place to place.

Young children who have never experienced a taxi ride learn about this special mode of getting about town.

I think this one is a winner!

About the book: With energy and exuberance, the author of Pick a Pine Tree and the illustrator of Angry Cookie pair up for a bustling day in the life of a big-city taxicab.

Today will be a busy day for Taxi! There are plenty of passengers to pick up, and they all need a ride—to a football game, a play, a business meeting, the airport, and more. Whizzing left, right, and through traffic, Taxi has to STOP for red lights and emergency vehicles. But after every stop, stop, stop, it’s Taxi . . . go, go, GO! Humming with musical rhyme and clever sound play, this vibrant take on a classic read-aloud theme radiates adventure and good fun. Brightly illustrated spreads of a happy urban world teem with details that vehicle-loving tots will pore over as they follow winsome Taxi through the work day and throughout the town until it’s time for bed.

Today Is for You! by Sally Lloyd-Jones & illustrated by Kevin Waldron (ages 3-7)

My thoughts:
  The rhyming text is chock full of cheerful, positivity, and enthusiasm as it encourages young children - especially "you" - to live life to the fullest, engage in the things you see and hear, be active, be engaging, be positive.

I really enjoyed reading the rhyme through from beginning to end as it started with the start of the day and ended at bedtime. Just full of enthusiastic encouragement.

The illustrations didn't focus on just one individual child, but had a variety of children busy filling the pages. There is a happy "circus" style and sense to the illustrations though no circus is actually pictured. I did not care for some of the text such as dark purple background and font in another lighter shade of purple. This seems to be a trend in children's books and I find it unwelcome. Overall, though, the book is quite readable and quite enjoyable.

I also found this to be different from previous books by this author as she typically writes for the Christian publishing houses. I have never seen a book by Sally Lloyd-Jones I did not like and this one is no exception.

About the book: Sheer exuberance fills the pages of this picture book celebration of the promise every day brings.

Where will you go on those traveling feet?
Who will you love? Who will you meet?
Be a little seed. Get carried away!
Go WILD into the brand-new day.

From the bustle of the morning to the quiet of bedtime, every new day is filled with possibility. Follow a group of children as they find fun at every turn—dancing, playing games, picnicking, reading a book, climbing a mountain, or just shouting out their enthusiasm to the world. Sally Lloyd-Jones’s upbeat text integrates with Kevin Waldron’s high-energy mixed-media illustrations for a story that exudes unabashed joy.

Little Green Donkey by Anuska Allepuz  (Ages 3-7)

My thoughts:
This is a simply told story of a picky eater. He fixates on a food (green grass) and eats it to excess. The result is he turns green. His mother despairs of convincing him to eat a variety of colorful foods, so he picks through a few. He settles on crunchy carrots. And then, alas, he turns orange as a carrot.

The purpose of the story is to show that our bodies need a variety of food and that we should not just pick one that we prefer. 

The illustrations are cute and capture the mood of the story quite well. 

About the book: Little Donkey loves eating grass. Grass is so juicy, zingy, sweet, and tangy! Mom asks him to please have a tiny taste of something else — oranges, watermelon, broccoli? — but a life of eating grass is just fine with Little Donkey. Until one day he spies his reflection in the watering hole and sees that he has turned green. Mom resumes her persuasion with new urgency. Apples and grapes? Yuck! No thank you! But carrots — carrots are crunchy, crispy, and delicious! Little Donkey is delighted with his new carrot-only diet and happy to transform from his all-green self to — oops! Pictures full of color and movement bring to life a charming story that will resonate with choosy eaters. Secret word: Tree

Winner's Choice of 1 Book
Begins March 27
Ends April 25 @ 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 prize is provided and mailed directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Chasing the Horizon (A Western Light #1) by Mary Connealy (Romantic, historical fiction) [Review]


Purchase 30% off
Reg. $16.99
ISBN: 9780764242656
My thoughts: This new historical fiction handles several subjects. One, the plight of women (and sometimes men) being wrongfully committed to insane asylums and the atrocious, inhumane treatment they received. Two, evil men who treated women under their care brutally. And three, the courage of pioneers along the wagon trail from east to west and dangers encountered.

As the author weaves this story, her characters are fleshed out giving the reader insight into their character and behavior. We love some and truly hate others. They show strength to overcome and the ability to adjust. Their astounding compassion toward others. And, yes, there is a sweet, budding romance. And the twisted mind, character, and deeds of the main protagonist show the depth of a man's evil.

At the end of their journey across the pages of this book, we find that perils still persist and this makes us as readers anticipate the author's next tale in the Western Light Series.

A book I highly recommend. 

About the book: Her only chance at freedom waits across the horizon...

Upon uncovering her tyrannical father's malevolent plot to commit her to an asylum, Beth Rutledge fabricates a plan of her own. She will rescue her mother, who had already been sent to the asylum, and escape together on a wagon train heading west. Posing as sisters, Beth and her mother travel with the pioneers in hopes of making it to Idaho before the others start asking too many questions.

Wagon-train scout Jake Holt senses that the mysterious women in his caravan are running from something. When rumors begin to spread of Pinkerton agents searching relentlessly for wanted criminals who match the description of those on his wagon train, including Beth, she begins to open up to him, and he learns something more sinister is at hand. Can they risk trusting each other with their lives--and their hearts--when danger threatens their every step? Secret word: Chase

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy the book to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. 

Thursday, March 21, 2024

The Girl Who Loves Bugs by Lily Murray & illustrated by Jenny Løvlie [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781682636558
Hardcover $17.99
Peachtree Books

My thoughts:
 Oh this is a delightful book! I'm a grand mommy that simply can not stand bugs - any kind of bug! And this little golden haired sweetheart of a girl simply loves bugs. Her golden hair and sweet smile reminds me of a great-granddaughter that is like her grand mommy - can't stand bugs!

As little Evie romps through the beautiful world she encounters critters - buggy critters. And she finds them delightful. Her parents and friends don't find bugs fun to be around. NO. They find them disgusting, scary, squirmy, and dirty. Evie is sneaky and slips her entourage of bugs inside the house and hides them from the others who have trouble being around bugs. And then the excitement begins.

Cheerfully illustrated with happiness, delight, and charming pictures, I love the book and the story about Evie and her bugs and their buggy "happening." 

There are elements in the book that are contradictory to my personal beliefs so I can not fully endorse the book. I do find it fun, charming, pretty, and a good story.

About the book: A humorous, sweet story about what happens when a passionate girl brings her outside interest indoors. Secret word: happiness

From the author-illustrator team of A Dress With Pockets comes The Girl Who Loves Bugs.

Evie LOVES bugs, but no one around her seems to understand. While Evie would rather spend all her time outside studying insects, her moms hurry her indoors to prepare the house for company. Everything needs to be PERFECT for her Great-Gran and the rest of their extended family.

But Evie doesn’t want the fun to be over, and she has a great idea... to bring her bugs inside! Despite her best efforts to keep her little friends hidden, before she knows it the family reunion is totally ruined! With the unexpected help of Great-Gran –who turns out to be a bug-enthusiast too—Evie learns that her interest in bugs is what makes her special (and that the happiest place for bugs to be is outside where they belong).

Begins March 22
Ends April 11 @ 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 prize is provided and sent directly to the winner by Peachtree Books. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes. NOTE: There are elements of this books that I can not endorse, though the story and illustrations are excellent.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Animals in hiding, potty training, and things fishy in Candlewick's children's books [Review & Giveaway]

Find Out About Animal Camouflage by Martin Jenkins & illustrated by Jane McGuinness

My thoughts: Pretty easy to understand and extensive coverage of how insects and animals have the ability to camouflage themselves for protection as well as aggression.

It even helps the child to learn that they must be careful what they touch and where they step to avoid being hurt themselves by camouflaged critters.

I think this will be a fun and educational book for children.

About the book: Discover some of the brilliant ways animals disguise themselves in this engaging introduction for young children from a conservation biologist.
Some animals hide in the sand, like the desert lizard, whose scales can resemble pebbles and stones. Others hide in the sea, like the peacock flounder, who can also change color. And some, like poison dart frogs and the scarlet king snake, don’t try to hide at all! Most animals have developed clever tricks to survive, but not all excel at camouflage the way these animals do. From moths whose wings resemble dead leaves to eponymous stick insects, from a lizard that looks like a tree stump to the ghost pipefish you’d mistake for a coral reef, the range of colors, patterns, and techniques captured here demonstrates how animals across myriad environments can disguise themselves. Melding a simple narration with more detailed facts on a variety of creatures—including sandgrouses, gerbils, Arctic foxes, and butterflies—this fascinating picture book also offers a brief note on animal camouflage in the back matter.

Goldilocks and the Just Right Potty by Leigh Hodgkinson

My thoughts:
  While I don't usually care for "potty" or "poop" books for children, I found this fairy tale take on potty training cute and of much value. It takes a sometimes stressful period of a young child's training and makes it fun and totally believable for a "fairy tale."

Little girls will love a book about themselves during this stressful training time when they are learning to use potty successfully. 

About the book: Little Goldilocks wants to wear underwear -- big-girl underwear that's not too silly and not too frilly, but just right. But that means she also needs to find the "just right" potty. Will she know when she needs to go? And will she get to the potty in time? Find out in this lighthearted story that will have parents and their little ones feeling ready to tackle toilet training.

Fish Everywhere by Britta Teckentrup

My thoughts: This book is packed with easy to understand information about water creatures - not just fish. I love the information and how it is presented on an easy to understand level for children.

However, I found the book sorely lacking in usability or readability. The pages are absolutely too dark as well as the dark overlaying text. Much of the text is also very tiny. Not good for a children's book. Dark on dark is not suitable for any age. I am seeing this method of printing being utilized rather frequently in children's books and it does not bode well for the printing industry.

Again, the book's information and even simplistic illustrations are very good. I just don't care for the dark on dark printing of text.

About the book: Best-selling illustrator Britta Teckentrup explores the world of fish in a sumptuously illustrated nonfiction book.
There are fish everywhere! Some of them live in fresh water, some of them live under ice, and some even live in the desert. Fish Everywhere is the first in a series of nonfiction books from Britta Teckentrup. Young readers will learn where in the world all sorts of animals can be found and all the weird and wonderful things that they never imagined were true. This is nonfiction with spark and personality from a much-loved illustrator. Secret word: dark.

Begins March 18
Ends April 17 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine, alone and are freely given. Winner's prize is provided and mailed directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes.

Monday, March 4, 2024

"Jesus Moments: David" & "The God Contest" young children's Bible stories [Review & Giveaway]

Jesus Moments: David: Finding Jesus in the Story of David by Alison Mitchell

ISBN: 9781784989408

My thoughts: 
The concept of this new children's story book line is promising. Teaching children when Jesus is pictured in Old Testament characters is pretty new. Usually, that bit of theology isn't taught until later years.

The story of David is nicely told in clear text. It begins with the selection of Israel's next King by the Prophet Samuel from among the sons of Jesse. The anointment of David with oil takes place and later in the book Jesus is identified as "the anointed one." David doesn't become king immediately as Saul is currently king of Israel.

As the story progresses through highlights of David's life, the reader is given the opportunity to find crowns hidden in the art work. These denote special "Jesus Moments" and provide interesting teaching moments and a fun exercise.

I don't care for the overall dark illustrations and the text also being dark on a dark background. The illustrations will catch children's attention, I think, but the dark colors may be a deterrent.

Overall, this is a high quality and theologically sound children's book. I look forward to more "Jesus Moments" story books.

About the book: Help 4-7s learn how David points to Jesus with this beautifully illustrated Old Testament storybook from Alison Mitchell, the award-winning author of Jesus and the Lions’ Den and The One O’Clock Miracle.

Moments in David’s story when David is a little bit like Jesus are signposted with symbols that children need to spot, helping them to understand the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.

This fun, interactive resource will give children skills to read the Bible as they connect the stories and learn that the whole Bible is about Jesus. Great for parents or grandparents to give children aged 4-7. Can also be used as a homeschool resource or for children’s ministry in church.

This is the first book in a series called "Jesus Moments," which looks at how Old Testament characters point to Jesus.

The God Contest Board Book by Carl Laferton

ISBN: 9781784989507

My thoughts:
  A small board book just right for toddlers and young children's hands.  This Bible story was a favorite of my children when they were young. I'm delighted to see it in a children's book so they can learn how the prophet Elijah stood up to the priests of Baal let God demonstrate His power and Supreme Being.

The fire from God to light the altar really gets the attention of story listeners and they learn how God won the "contest" against the other people's god, Baal.

About the book: Jesus Is the Real God!

Using simple sentences and stunning illustrations, this board book shows toddlers that Jesus has proved in history that he is the real God, who rules everything and loves everyone.

The God Contest Board Book features:

  • a robust board-book format.
  • stunning illustrations by Catalina Echeverri that will delight young children.
  • simple sentences that will communicate truths in a way toddlers can understand.
  • content that helps children aged 1-3 be confident that in Elijah's time, and in coming as Jesus, God has proved who he really is.

Ends April 5 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA residents/addresses only
DISCLOSURE: I received complimentary copies from the publisher, The Good Book Company, to facilitate a review. Winner's prize is provided and mailed directly to the winner by publisher or publicist. Chat With Vera is not responsible for lost or misdirected prizes. Secret word: Bible 

Friday, March 1, 2024

Fatal Witness (Pearl River #2) by Patricia Bradley

My thoughts:  For a suspense story, this book has been a pretty relaxed read for me. I loved the small town vibe, friendliness of characters to other townies and to newcomers, and the believability of their daily lives. Their care for each other is becoming a lost treasure in today's society, so it is totally enjoyable to read about it in  Fatal Witness.

The now-grown-up child that witnessed her parents murder has no memory of what she saw and heard though she realizes that memories of her early life are missing. Danger seems to have found her soon after the beginning of this story, and she and others in the story experience fears and wounds.

Dani has a strong, loving, fearless mop of a dog and Mark has his K-9 dog, and both dogs play loving roles and defend their masters against the bad guys. Love it!

I found this an enjoyable read and the plotting of the storyline kept me guessing throughout.

About the book: As a child, artist and potter Dani Bennett witnessed the brutal murder of her parents. With no memory of the incident or her true identity, she was forced to take on a new name and a new life, hidden away in Montana for the past 25 years.

Mae Richmond has spent the same stretch of time searching for her granddaughter, who went missing the night her daughter and son-in-law were murdered. Convinced the woman she saw in a pottery magazine feature is the woman she's been searching for, she enlists the help of K-9 officer Mark Lassiter of Pearl Springs, Tennessee, who tracks Dani down.

Skeptical but curious, Dani sets out on a journey to uncover the secrets of her past and reclaim her true identity. But someone close to her is determined to keep the truth of what happened all those years ago hidden.

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