Children & YA Reviews

Walk Two MoonsWalk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Don't judge a book by its cover is something I always say, but I must admit, I almost didn't read this book because I didn't find the cover too appealing. Then I read the back of the book and to be honest, I really didn't find the names of the characters too interesting. Despite that, the story-line itself intrigued me and I decided to give Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech a chance, and I am very glad I did!

Sharon Creech tells a gripping story that will take you in from the beginning. Salamanca Tree Hiddle's mom is gone and Salamanca sets out with her grandparents in search of her. Sal's becomes friends with a girl named Phoebe and realizes they have more in common than she thought.

I loved Sal's relationship with her grandparents. I loved how her grandparents acted, well...like grandparents. This is a tightly woven story that I think many people can relate too. This book brought back some childhood memories for me, as well as, lessons I will use in my classroom when teaching my students.

I love the author's writing style.

Definitely a book worth reading!

 The Day I Met Dr. SeussThe Day I Met Dr. Seuss by Anne Emerick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Dr. Suess fans will appreciate Anne Emerick's story, The Day I Met Dr. Seuss. Though it is historical fiction, there are enough facts that make the story ring true. It's entertaining and teaches an important message too. Children will love it because it rhymes and it's a fun story!



Hiding CarlyHiding Carly by Ann Eisenstein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Sean is dealing with the death of his dad, a former FBI agent, and when the word on the street is that Sean's dad was dirty, he just couldn't accept that. Not his dad. His dad always played by the rules and "followed the evidence". When Sean sees his dad's former partner at school for the Junior Special Agent Program he is not very forthcoming with answers. Is the information classified, or is something more sinister going on? On top of this, 11 year old Sean has to deal with Andy his classroom nemesis and Carly the new girl who infatuates him. Sean definitely takes after his dad and will stop short of nothing to follow the evidence leading to the truth and the realization that people aren't always what they seem.

As a teacher, I know children in middle school will enjoy this book!

 Brian's Winter (Brian's Saga, #3)Brian's Winter by Gary Paulsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading Hatchet and The River by Gary Paulsen, I was intrigued to see what would have happened if Brian was not rescued when he was. Paulsen does a fine job describing Brian's trials and successes while stuck in the Canadian wilderness in the winter. This story shows us how much Brian how matured from when the story Hatchet began and how necessity is certainly the mother of invention.




 Holly Horse and the Great QuestHolly Horse and the Great Quest by Jenny Loveless
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holly Horse and the Great Quest by Jenny Loveless is a children's book with a message that transcends the ages...the grass is always greener...or is it? Join Molly on her quest to find out!




 Bob Beetle Book Bug: The Magical World of BooksBob Beetle Book Bug: The Magical World of Books by Phyllis M. Griggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a great book to inspire a love of reading! Bob Beetle Book Bug by Phyllis M. Griggs is a book to surely capture the interest of young children. There is rhyme used throughout the story that always makes reading easier and more fun. The pictures are terrific too capturing the excitement one can experience when reading. Most importantly is the message that reading opens up a new and magical world that should be shared with others.

Read Bob Beetle Book Bug with a budding reader today and help them become a voracious reader of tomorrow.

 The Day My Parents Got LostThe Day My Parents Got Lost by Susette Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Day My Parents Got Lost by Susette Williams is a fun story with a serious message. What a great way to open up a discussion with children about the importance on sticking together and not wandering away from adults. The illustrations really add to the book with the bright colors and the exaggerated expressions on the characters' faces. This book is a win-win-win...for children, parents, and teachers!

 Heart of a HeroHeart of a Hero by Billi Tiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a nice story. Heart of a Hero by Billi Tiner was a heart-warming story that gives an insight into WWII and the pain and difficulties some of the soldiers had to endure, while sharing the story of Lady, the Irish Setter. There was enough information given to help children understand about the war without getting so detailed that it would be difficult for them.

Nate Rocks the World (Nate Rocks, #1)Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading Nate Rocks the World by Karen Pokras Toz. As a teacher, I can see many students being interested in Nate and his story even reluctant readers. Nathan Rockledge is a boy who does okay in school, has some friends, but he also loves to draw. Many children will be able to relate to Nathan as his drawings and doodles set him on a course of day-dreams that turn Nathan Rockledge into Nate Rocks where nothing can go wrong.

This story also shows a good family dynamic between Nathan and his older sister who always seems to be "going through a phase".

A very entertaining read!


The Winter RoomThe Winter Room by Gary Paulsen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the Winter Room, Gary Paulsen weaves a story from the viewpoint of 11 year-old Eldon. He shares with the readers how life on his family farm changes with the seasons. As his uncle David tells him, "With all the summer light it makes us work harder. In the winter it gets dark earlier and the days are short enough to rest." It's during those long winter evenings when there is time to rest that Uncle David shares stories with the family. Some they have heard time and again and others not so much. When Uncle David tells the story of The Woodcutter Eldon comes to learn that sometimes a story is just a story and other times it is so much more!

 MudsharkMudshark by Gary Paulsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gary Paulsen's Mudshark is a fun story for both boys and girls. I like that the cool, popular, main character is a boy who likes to think. Lyle Williams (better known as Mudshark) is great at solving problems and, boy oh boy, do they have an infinite amount of problems at his school. This story will keep kids laughing and thinking and laughing some more!

As a teacher, one of my favorite quotes from the book is, "The principal genuinely believed that his job was simply getting out of the way to allow teachers to teach." :)

 Classroom At The End Of The HallClassroom At The End Of The Hall by Douglas Evans
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Classroom at the End of the Hall by Douglas Evans is a fun chapter book that will even get reluctant readers to keep turning the pages. As a teacher, I saw some of my students in these characters and I am sure children will be able to identify with them as well. Whether they see themselves or someone in their class, there is enough fun, exaggeration, and peculiarities in the room at the end of the hall for everyone. This story would be great as a read aloud too!


Clarinda Cloud  Clarinda Cloud by Jodi Desautels
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Clarinda Cloud is a creative story that is good for young children to help them open up and share their feelings. The repetitive phrases can also help young children learn to read. My favorite part is the turtle, but you'll have to read Jodi Desautels' book to find out why!


 Johnny's Adventure Makes Reading FunJohnny's Adventure Makes Reading Fun by Jodi Desautels
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's been said that reading is FUNdamental and Jodi Desautels proves that the emphasis should definitely by on the FUN! Join Johnny in Johnny's Adventure Makes Reading Fun to see how his mom helps him to overcome his reluctance to reading!



 Adventures with Samantha Fellows (the Big Move!)Adventures with Samantha Fellows by Ginae Lee Scott/ Ginny Karoub
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Excited by her family's move from California to the mid-west, Samantha shares her newest adventures with us! Ginae Lea Scott wrote a very nice story. I usually think the word nice is trite and overused, but not here. Samantha is truly a nice girl. She has a younger brother that she loves and is not afraid to show it by playing with him and sticking up for him. Samantha is an optimistic child who is willing to help those who may not always seem worthy of it.

I found myself wanting to know more about Samantha and you will too!

 Louis Braille: The Boy Who Invented Books for the BlindLouis Braille: The Boy Who Invented Books for the Blind by Margaret Davidson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This Scholastic biography is a simple read that will give young people a good understanding of who Louis Braille was and the great contribution he made to help the blind be able to read books.

I learned many interesting facts about Louis Braille, the first of which was that he was not born blind. The most impressive part of his story was his dedication to the idea of finding a way to help blind people read...not just short texts, or school books, but to be able to enjoy a variety of reading. Louis had such a passion that even when faced with obstacles (and not just the obstacle of being blind)he was determined not to give up!

Louis Braille's success was a success for all those who cannot see!


Bisbosishas the Hot-Headed PenguinBisbosishas the Hot-Headed Penguin by Raina Angelier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though this book is for smaller children, I thought of my 6th grade students when reading the story of Bisbosishas the Hot-Headed Penguin. 6th graders often need a reminder that keeping your cool is more than half the battle.

Author Rainer Angelier tells an exciting story of a young penguin that can't keep his cool despite the cold temperatures that surround him.
I was perplexed by the name of the penguin, but delighted to discover its meaning. You will be too when you travel with Bisbosishas and learn how to keep your cool when things don't go your way.

A great story for children to learn how to handle the realities of life.

Extra Note: I love some of the names that were chosen! Read Bisbosishas the Hot-Headed Penguin and to see why.

View all my reviews The River (Brian's Saga, #2)The River by Gary Paulsen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading Hatchet with my class this year, they showed a great interest in learning more about the character of Brian Robeson. This prompted me to read The River with my class as well. Gary Paulsen does an excellent job sharing the trials and triumphs Brian encounters when he is asked to go back to the wilderness to show government psychologist Derek Holtzer how he survived. Brian is convinced of two things: going back in the wilderness is insane and he has no choice about going back in the wilderness if it may help someone else in the future.

Once they arrive, Brian feels that this time everything is too staged and too perfect until Derek ends up being struck by lightening which results in him being in a coma. Brian now has to think on his feet not only for his survival, but for that of Derek's as well. Paulsen captures the reader with his story and details and makes you feel like you are right along side Brian in his quest to survive!

The character of Brian Robeson is one that middle school students can identify with and the lessons Brian learns and teaches the readers throughout his stories are timeless.

 Lionel's Christmas Adventure: Lionel Learns the True Meaning of Christmas (Lionel's Grand Adventure)Lionel's Christmas Adventure: Lionel Learns the True Meaning of Christmas by Paul R. Hewlett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Paul R. Hewlett has written a real winner with his latest book Lionel's Christmas Adventure. I have enjoyed reading about Lionel and his adventures in his first two books, and Lionel's character just keeps getting better. Lionel is the awkward kid, the one who others enjoy making the punch line to their jokes. In this adventure, Lionel wishes for something special for Christmas but knows there is little to no chance he'll really get what he wants. That is until he makes a wish with his magical Three-Toed-Potbellied Walbaun and realizes what he wishes for and what he really wants might not be the same thing. Join Lionel on his latest adventure and come to know the real meaning of Christmas in a fun and loving way!


 When Grandma's False Teeth FlyWhen Grandma's False Teeth Fly by Mary Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mary Lee writes a cute story with an important message: Life is easier if we can look at the funny side of things. Though this is a children's story, the message is true for both the young and the young at heart.





Lionel Turns the Other Cheek (Lionel's Grand Adventure, #2)Lionel Turns the Other Cheek by Paul R. Hewlett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Lionel's Grand Adventure: Lionel Turns the Other Cheek, Paul Hewlett writes another entertaining story that teaches an important lesson. I find the character of Lionel very endearing because he is not a perfect kid. Actually, he is a bit awkward, and though he wishes he were better at certain things, he's okay with himself. It's nice when a character reflects an "everyday kid" that most readers can relate too.

In this adventure, Lionel finally gets his wish to go to summer camp! He is thrilled to be away from his mom and brother. He is thrilled to get to camp. He is not so thrilled when he finds out Tad, a fellow classmate and tormentor, is one of his roommates. While at camp, Tad is up to his old tricks. Lionel almost falls prey to this bad behavior, but catches himself just in time. Lionel learns that by turning the other cheek he is the real winner!



Easter Is About Jesus: Family Devotions for the Easter Season
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Easter is About Jesus-by Mukkove Johnson is a book of family devotions for the Easter season.  Johnson does a great job making the devotions meaningful, interactive, and fun.  She takes common Easter themes like eggs and bunnies and shows how these symbols can remind us of Jesus.  All devotions begin with a scripture followed by an explanation. Then to make a deeper personal connection there is a section with discussion questions and activity ideas.  This is a wonderful book to use each Easter season to help set the focus that Easter is About Jesus. 

Though Easter is About Jesus is a stand-alone book, it makes a great companion to Mukkove Johnson's Advent devotional - Christmas is About Jesus!



Christmas Is about Jesus: An Advent DevotionalChristmas Is about Jesus: An Advent Devotional by Mukkove Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always loved the quote, "Jesus is the reason for the season" and one of my favorite images is Santa Claus kneeling over baby Jesus in the manger showing that even he knows the real reason Christmas is celebrated. These thoughts came to mind while reading Mukkove Johnson's book Christmas is About Jesus-An Advent Devotional. These devotions begin on December 1st and continue through Christmas Eve. For each devotional, Johnson takes traditional Christmas items like holly, Christmas lights, and cookies (just to name a few) and shares how each of these symbols can remind us of Jesus. She does this through scripture, prayer, and thought-provoking questions that are good to promote family discussions. I recommend Christmas is About Jesus for families who want to keep Christ in Christmas!

View all my reviews Jake & JesusJake & Jesus by Kelly Hagen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kelly Hagen's story Jake and Jesus is an inspirational and lovely way for young children to get to know Jesus. Young Jake explains in a heartfelt way how wonderful it is that Jesus is his best friend and how much that means to him. The illustrations in Jake and Jesus are precious and add to the uplifting tone of the story. An enjoyable book with a great message! This would make an excellent read-aloud too!


Til the Cows Come Home: An Udderly Imaginative TaleTil the Cows Come Home: An Udderly Imaginative Tale by Judy Perry Drewett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

'Til The Cows Come Home by Judy Perry Drewett is an udderly adorable and creative book with wonderful illustrations. Thomas is introduced to the phrase "'til the cows come home". As a literal thinker, each time it is repeated, he imagines those cows right there with him from his bedroom to the lunchroom.

Drewett does a fine job using the art of repetition in her story. This will surely keep younger children interested and help them learn to read too. This is also a good way to introduce children to idioms.

The illustrations add a great deal to the story making it that much more fun to read! I recommend you get this story now and do not wait 'til the cows come home!


The Miracle of RainThe Miracle of Rain by Sherry Rossman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nora used to be so afraid of thunderstorms that she hid under her bed until they were over. That is until one day during a terrible storm when she and her cat Molly met Smickett, a friendly raccoon. Smickett takes Nora and Molly to a special place and teaches them an important lesson. Nora realizes now that what she thought was so scary is really a miracle...The Miracle of Rain.

Sherry Rossman weaves a cute and educational story. The Miracle of Rain is a great book for parents to read with children to show them a positive way to overcome their fears. Great illustrations too!

Lisa Tortorello- author of My Hero, My Ding and The Moose at the Manger


Lionel's Grand AdventureLionel's Grand Adventure by Paul R. Hewlett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Both children and adults will appreciate Lionel's Grand Adventure!

Author Paul R. Hewlett does an amusing and fun job telling the story of Lionel and his adventures while teaching an important lesson at the same time. Lionel could be any child today - sometimes people make fun of him (even his own brother), he is not as coordinated as some of his friends but loves to play baseball, and he's a bit chubby.

Lionel finds himself moving from a big city to a much smaller town. It is not until he is searching around in his new bedroom closet that he finds a secret weapon that will help him in ways he never imagined including learning the importance of living by The Golden Rule. What is that secret weapon? A three-toed pot bellied walbaun foot. I know, you're dying to know what that is, but you'll have to read Lionel's story to find out!


View all my reviews Henny & Penny: A Story of Sharing and CaringHenny & Penny: A Story of Sharing and Caring by Vivian Higginbotham Nichols
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Henny and Penny is a delightful read that will help to plant an important seed.
Sharing and caring is the way to go, instead of fighting and bickering and saying no.

Vivian Higginbotham Nichols wrote a wonderful rhyming story with an important message. Children will enjoy listening to the story of Henny and Penny, as well as, having fun reading it themselves. Both teachers and parents will appreciate the positive values taught in Henny and Penny and the creative poetic style of writing.

Night of the CossackNight of the Cossack by Tom Blubaugh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Follow Nathan Hertzfield as he journeys physically, emotionally, and spiritually along the road of life. While historical fiction is not my first choice when reading a book, I found myself captivated by Nathan's struggles and the decisions he was forced to make. From the moment he was kidnapped, Nathan's life changed forever. You will find yourself cheering for him until the very last page. In Night of the Cossack Tom Blubaugh does a fine job weaving history and fiction into a gripping story. I was so intrigued I even looked on a map to follow Nathan on his journey!


But What If I Don't Understand?But What If I Don't Understand? by C.P. Siebenhuener
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very simple solution to a problem that students of all ages encounter at one time or another. In "But What if I DON'T Understand" author C.P.Siebenhuener shows the importance of letting children know it's okay to admit you don't understand something and ask for help. As an educator myself, I have seen students both young and old refuse to ask questions for a variety of reasons. This story is a great way to broach the subject with your students or children and let them know that teachers and adults DO understand and are willing to help!

Hatchet (Brian's Saga, #1)Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book with my students. I am happy to see most of them enjoy the story. Since the first time I read Hatchet, I thought it had a great message.

After surviving almost 2 months in the wilderness Brian comes to appreciate all that he has and never takes things for granted anymore. A story of survival on many levels.


A Little Yellow StarA Little Yellow Star by Faith H. Tydings
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the story "A Little Yellow Star" author Faith H. Tydings shares a timeless message in a heart-warming, uplifting way... Just like the light from a star extends across the universe, so does Jesus' love. We may not fully understand where it comes from and how it reaches us, but God's love is with us each and every day. A lovely story for readers of all ages.



Fern Valley: A Collection of Short StoriesFern Valley: A Collection of Short Stories by Aileen Stewart
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Aileen Stewart certainly brings her animals to life in Fern Valley! Children will find themselves captivated by the talking animals and their escapades, while adults will appreciate the tried and true lessons that are taught in each story.

I'm a middle school teacher and always try to see how I can incorporate new things in my classroom. At first I thought these stories would be a little on the "young" side for my students, but as soon as I finished the first one I had teaching ideas popping in my head!

I like that there are separate short stories because I can use these as read-alouds to my students. Discussions on theme will follow and with each unique lesson a unique writing prompt.
Aileen did a great job, not just writing a book for children to enjoy but a book of timeless lessons both parents and teachers will want for themselves.


My Finny Fin Fin My Finny Fin Fin by Judi Chesshir
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In “My Finny, Fin, Fin”, Judi Chesshir tells a fun story of three little dolphins and their quest to live on their own. The pictures add a lot to the story too making it all that much more enjoyable. Listening to the audio e-Live download while I read the story was truly charming. The shark’s voice was great! Children will just eat this story up!
View all my reviews

2 comments:

  1. What a great collection of children's books! Your reviews are very helpful. Thanks for posting, these are some really great reads that I'd like to help spread the word.

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    1. Thanks! I read your response in my email and couldn't figure out where it was on the blog..."duh" on my part, huh. Well, I hope the reviews I do help spread the word about good children's books that are on the market!

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