Posted in Book Review

The Magic of Rainspell Island and Ruby the Red Fairy

We had a thirty minute drive to the local harvest festival, so we brought along a book from our local library – Ruby the Red Fairy. Even though the book was sixty-five pages, we finished the whole story prior to our arrival. I was reading the book out loud to my three kids. I am sure it would have taken my 8 year old way longer to read the whole book by herself.

Ruby the Red Fairy by Daisy Meadows is the first book in the Rainbow is Magic: Rainbow Fairies series. This book is very simplistic which makes it ideal for a little girl who is just starting to make the transition to reading chapter books.

Ruby the Red Fairy introduces the reader to the storyline for the next few books. In this book, Kirsty and Rachel are two little girls who meet on their way to Rainspell Island. Upon their arrival, they go on a treasure hunt for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Instead of finding gold, they meet Ruby the Red Fairy. Ruby had become trapped under a heavy pot while fleeing from Jack Frost.

Kirsty and Rachel promise Ruby that they will find the other missing rainbow fairies. Without the rainbow fairies uniting, Ruby’s homeland will remain under Jack’s spell forever.

In my opinion, there were both positives and negatives with this book. First, the writing style was very simplistic. On one hand, this is a positive for new readers who are transitioning to chapter books. Conversely, the simplistic style of this book made it highly predictable. As a parent reading this book, you will most likely be bored.

Second, the book contains pictures throughout which helps ease the transition to chapter books. The illustrations are quite simplistic. The illustrations are essentially glorified black and white stick figures. My girls were not particularly impressed with the illustrations. My eight year old said she could have drawn prettier pictures.

Third, the book felt like it was a trailer designed to lure you into buying book two. It just did not feel like much happened in this book. As soon as you started to feel like the story was truly beginning, the book ended.

Fourth, the book itself is made out of flimsy materials. The cover and pages are thin. The spine is not particularly durable either. I highly recommend obtaining these books from the library rather than spending your money to buy these books.

After we finished reading this book, I asked the girls if we should start book two. Both of my girls, voted to read book five of The Magic Treehouse series instead. My kids did, however, say they think we should read book two of The Rainbow Fairies series.

Overall, I think this book is best for children ages 4 to 8 years old. This book is ideal if you have a little girl who is going through the fairy phase.

On an unrelated note, as of today we have read 578 books. We are getting closer and closer to our goal of 1,000 books!

Posted in Book Review

Finding Beauty in Mistakes

Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg is a truly unique and creative children’s book. The twenty-eight pages in this book have a special layout. The book features exquisite colors, interactive pages, and tactile experiences galore.

This book uses flaps, bent corners, torn pages, and crumpled paper to showcase the beauty of artistic creativity. The book’s message is minimalistic yet powerful. Through its design, this book tries to inspire readers to seek out creative ways to turn their mistakes into something beautiful.

For example, a tear in a piece of paper is transformed into an alligator’s smile. Later, a bent corner of paper becomes the beak of a penguin. As the book unfolds, several other transformations emerge on the pages.

Beautiful Oops! is only eighty-nine words long; however, its simplicity is powerful. The words are there to transition the reader through the interactive illustrations.

My kiddos who are 10 months, 6 years, and 8 years old are obsessed with this book. This book is unlike any other book in our personal collection. My oldest is particularly enamored with this book because of her love of the arts. My youngest son adores how interactive this book is.

I highly recommend that you check this book out if you have a child between 0 to 8 years of age. There are some potentially negative aspects of this book that are worth noting.

First, this book is short which might disappoint some parents. The main focus of this book is the artwork and the interactive layout. Second, this book does not tell a story. This book contains a life lesson rather than telling a story. Third, if you are looking for a crafting book this is NOT the book for you. Fourth, if your little one is not the artistic type, they may find this book boring. Lastly, the flaps and other interactive elements of this book are not durable enough to withstand the rough handling of a toddler.

Despite the possible drawbacks of this book, I still give this book the highest praise.

Posted in Book Review

Introducing Bruce the Grumpy Bear

1 Grumpy Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins is a fantastic counting board book. This twenty-four page book is filled with adorable animals, high quality illustrations, and vivid colors.

This book makes all three of my kids laugh and smile. They particularly love the fact that Bruce stays true to his grumpy ways throughout the entire book. The illustrations really bring the animals to life for kids.

The book only has thirty-eight words which makes it perfect for reading over and over again. (Trust me I know). I have re-read the book so many times that 1 Grumpy Bruce is now in our Amazon cart. The good news is right now the book is only $4 if you have Amazon Prime.

The only criticism I can find with this book is it might be hard for a child to count the animals in this book if they were just learning how to count. The animals are not laid out in neat orderly rows, and some of the animals do overlap each other in the illustrations. Personally I do not view this as a negative but I could see other parents taking issue with the layout.

I highly recommend this adorable counting book if you have kids between ages 0 to 5 years. This book is perfect for a child who is working on learning to read.

Posted in Book Review

Throwing Cats and Other Bad Ideas

I will start off by acknowledging that I am conflicted in my feelings about today’s book. Today we read How do Dinosaurs Love their Cats? which was written by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. I will provide my positive feedback before moving onto some of my more negative critiques.

This fourteen page board book is full of colorful well-illustrated cartoon dinosaurs. The dinosaurs in this book display a wide variety of personality and spunk. I give the book high praise in terms of the illustrations.

There were 139 words in this book which makes the length of the book better suited to a toddler rather than my 10 month old. The cute pictures did, however, manage to keep my son’s attention. I thought the length of the book would be perfect for a toddler.

Unfortunately, I think the content of the first half of this book makes it better suited to children who are 6 to 8 years old. Why do I say that? Well, the entire first half of the story depicts dinosaurs acting “like a brat.” For example, on page four the book asks “If the kitty complains, does she give it a throw?” On that particular page, the dinosaur is shown throwing the cat.

Based on the content of the first half of this book, I think a toddler might get the wrong kind of ideas. Now the second half of the book clarifies that dinosaurs actually love and care for their cats. I would just be concerned that a toddler would miss the point that we do NOT want to act like the mean dinosaurs! In fact, I could see a toddler deciding that it looks way more fun to throw the pet kitty than it does to “give it fresh water.”

This book would be perfect for a child who is in the 6 to 8 year old age range because they would understand the story. An older child would be able to recognize that the book is not suggesting you act like a “brat.”

The issue I have with recommending this book to a school age child is based on the book’s format. The book that I checked out is a board book. Now my 6 and 8 year old are not offended by the idea of reading board books to their baby brother. They do, however, feel strongly that board books are for babies not big kids.

One other odd aspect of this book involved the fact that every dinosaur was a girl dinosaur. I could see a little boy being disappointed by this book because it only has girl dinosaurs.

Lastly, I know some parents have certain words that they do not want their young children to use. This book does include the word “brat,” which I know some parents have on their list of words they do not use in their house.

I would suggest reading this book prior to reading it with your child. As a parent, you will be best able to determine if this book would inspire your toddler or child in all the wrong ways.

Posted in Book Review

Never Touch a Dinosaur!

I am always searching for board books that have lots of textures for my son to explore. Today, I discovered a board book with incredible, textured pages!

Never Touch a Dinosaur by Rosie Greening is the perfect book for a baby or toddler to explore. Each of the dinosaurs in this book have silicone designs. These silicone designs are highly textured and provided my son with endless entertainment today. It was an instant new favorite!

In addition to being a tactile delight, this book has vibrant multicolored words. The pages contain words that are in different colors, fonts, and sizes.

I will note that some of the words are written in cursive in this book. My six year old kept having to chase me around with the book to ask for help with reading the cursive words. I decided this was a great opportunity for her to practice reading cursive, but I could see it being a feature that frustrated a parent.

Stuart Lynch did an excellent job bringing to life the colorful dinosaurs with his illustrations. The dinosaurs are not scary, rather they are downright adorable. The dinosaurs in this book are smiling or making silly faces. They are brightly colored and have different patterns as well.

In addition to its fantastic visual and tactile design, this book is fun for kids to read. The book does not contain a storyline. Instead, each page features a unique set of instructions and warnings about the dangers of petting various types of dinosaurs.

The book also rhymes which makes it fun for kids as well. I will note, however, that some of the rhymes fall a little short of my expectations. For example, the book tries to count “good-bye” and “by” as a rhyming pair.

Never Touch a Dinosaur is approximately 116 words long, so it might be more challenging for a young infant or toddler to sit through. My son seemed amused enough with touching the pages to listen to the whole book. I could see a child potentially getting antsy though.

I would caution that this book does seem to be cheaply constructed. I do not anticipate that the binding on this book would last for a particularly long time. Also, while the silicone textures on the dinosaurs are great to touch, I doubt they are particularly durable. I recommend supervising a young child while they have this book to ensure they do not tear off a piece of silicone. It would concern me as a possible choking hazard.

Despite some of the drawbacks of this book, I still recommend reading this book with your child if they are between 0 to 5 years old. It is a silly book with a sensational design that draws kids in.

After finishing this book, we have now read 492 books of our 1,000 book goal.

Goodnight everyone!

Posted in Book Review

Charlotte Brontë for Babies!

Thanks to Jennifer Adams, the author of Jane Eyre A Counting Primer, you can introduce your baby or toddler to a Charlotte Brontë inspired counting book! If you are a literature nerd like me, this discovery will clearly excite your soul.

This twenty page board book covers numbers one to ten. This book contains approximately seventy words. Despite being a short counting book, it incorporates three direct quotes from the book Jane Eyre. The book also includes words, such as Thornfield Hall and Mr. Rochester.

Overall the book features a much darker color palette than I normally look for in a board book; however, neon colors would have ruined the beauty of this book. The colors while dark are still intense. My son was intrigued by this book despite the dark colors. I thought the illustrations by Alison Oliver were beautifully executed.

Now, I do feel it is necessary to highlight that this book does NOT contain a simplified baby version of the Jane Eyre novel. It merely includes some random words and quotes from the Jane Eyre book. The book has a Jane Eyre vibe, but will give your child ZERO insight into the actual story contained in Jane Eyre.

It is challenging for me to identify the appropriate age range for this particular book. At first glance, it is a simplistic counting book that contains short lines such as “1 governess. ” This makes it an ideal book for a child who is 0 to 3 years old. Upon further reflection though, my 8 year old daughter had no idea what a governess was. Both my 6 and 8 year old also needed help understanding two of the three quotes that were included from the actual Jane Eyre novel. The inclusion of more advanced words, like peruse, means that this book can still challenge a child who is a newer reader.

Ultimately, I used this book as a stepping stone to get my two older children interested in learning about Charlotte Brontë and her novel, Jane Eyre. We are now heading back to the library to find an illustrated and abridged children’s version of Jane Eyre.

Overall, if you were a fan of Jane Eyre, I would recommend reading this book with your child if they are between ages 0 to 5. Just please remember I warned you this book will NOT teach your child the Jane Eyre story.

Posted in Book Review

In the Woods

I will readily admit that I would have never picked In the Woods up from the library shelf if my son had not personally handed it to me. At first glance, this book’s cover did not contain the elements I look for when selecting our board books. The cover does not contain the bold, high contrast, and colorful imagery I gravitate towards; rather, it features a more subtle color palette. Even the title uses a muted yellow and not the big bold fonts I usually select.

My son, however, had unmistakably crawled over to the book cubes, looked over several books, and emerged victorious with THIS book. Clearly, this meant the book was coming home with us.

Once we arrived home, we cuddled up to read this twenty-two page board book. The first four pages did not contain any story line, rather each page simply had pictures and two words. For example, page one featured a picture of trees on a hill. The only words on page one are “sky” and “hills.” After these initial four pages, the story begins to unfold.

In the Woods by Elizabeth Spurr uses basic two word sentences, such as “Fish wiggles.” to tell the story of a boy who goes fishing. After catching a fish, the boy and his father roast the fish over a campfire. Afterwards they both enjoy other camping activities before falling asleep in their tent.

The story was perfect for my ten month old because it was incredibly short. The whole book is only forty-five words long. Each page contains only two to four words, which meant we were able to move through each page easily without my son losing interest.

After reading this book, I acknowledge that it contains a charming, sweet story about a son and his father bonding together beside a river. This book would be an excellent choice for a father and his young son to read together. The illustrations by Manelle Oliphant while subdued are picturesque and match the tone of the story beautifully.

I would recommend this book for children who are 0-3 years. This book would also be a perfect option for a child who is just starting to learn how to read.