Reviews in Chalk

What I am currently reading (8/26)

 

 

The bonesetter's daughter - Amy Tan's prose feels so good... I can't find a better way to say this. It is soothing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Armstrong: A Mouse on the Moon by Torben Khulmann. You won't believe how beautifully illustrated this book is.

 

 

 

 

 

The story of a new name by Elena Ferrante. I plan to start this one this weekend. I read My brilliant friend a few weeks ago, and it happened to be a great character study, so I'm really looking to reading this sequel.

Never follow a dinosaur

Never Follow a Dinosaur - Alex Latimer, Alex Latimer
by Alex Latimer
age range: 4 years old and up
Peachtree Publishers
 
Joe and Sally found some strange footprints in the kitchen floor, and all the evidence points to a hungry, heavy, dancing and swimming dinosaur. They have worked very hard building a perfect dinosaur trap. Will it work?
 
Lovely story with lovely characters. They know the footprints were made by a dinosaur despite their father saying dinosaurs are extinct, and they are confident of being capable of catching it if they succeed in making the perfect trap. So when the unthinkable happens none of them are surprised. They knew it all along, didn't they? Wonderful illustrations and refreshing text make a funny story about curiosity, perseverance and imagination. 
 
I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

The green umbrella

The Green Umbrella - Jackie AzĂșa Kramer, Maral Sassouni

by Jackie Azúa Kramer

illustrated by Maral Sassouni

age range: 3 years old and up

NorthSouth Books

 

Elephant loves his green umbrella. He perfectly remembers all the times it has sheltered him from the rain and from the sun, and also all the times he has pretended the umbrella was a sword, a baseball bat, or a balancing pole. But now hedgehog believes the umbrella is his boat. Cat believes it is his tent. And bear believes it is his flying machine. Elephant is sure they are wrong, but he doesn't mind to share his umbrella with them.

 

Delightful pictures illustrate this cute story about friendship and sharing. All the animals claim to own the green umbrella, but at the same time all of them are quick to share it. Gathered under the umbrella they drink tea, share stories, and build a strong friendship. Sweet story, beautiful message, excellent book. I will keep an eye for sure on future works by this author and this illustrator!

 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Groundhog's runaway shadow

Groundhog's Runaway Shadow - David Biedrzycki, David Biedrzycki

by David Biedrzycki

age range: 3 years old and up

Charlesbridge

 

 

Phil Groundhog used to think that having a shadow was cool. Shadow jumped with him, laughed with him, sang with him. But now that Phil grew up, he and Shadow don't seem to have too much in common anymore. Phil likes to eat dandelions, Shadow tacos. Phil like to spend his vacations in a local beach, Shadow wants to see the world. The worst is that sometimes Shadow embarrasses Phil in front of his friends. Why can't Shadow be like any other shadow? Phil has had enough. He is so angry he wished Shadow would go away. And Shadow went away. Phil feels so alone... Searching for Shadow around the world sounds scary, but Phil has to find him.

 

This book is so silly and funny! A serious and responsible groundhog trying to hold at bay his irreverent shadow makes a totally enjoyable read. It makes you want to play with your shadow again. The characters are lovable. The story is told with short sentences and few words, the illustrations playing an important role. A great read if you are looking to just have some fun.

 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Ficticious Meals

"Weaving the link between literature, food and photography, Fictitious Feasts is based upon food scenes in fiction texts". (from Charles Roux's website)

The branch

The Branch - Mireille Messier, Pierre Pratt

by Mireille Messier

illustrated by Pierre Pratt

age range: 3 years old and up

Kids Can Press

 

It wasn't just a branch. It was her ship, a castle, her throne, her spy base. That's why when the branch falls during a heavy storm, the girl doesn't want to let it go. She wants to keep it for ever. Mom doesn't like the idea. Thankfully Mr. Frank, her next door neighbor, sees the branch's potential. Her branch can become something great after all. Together they work for a long time on the branch until it is ready to be again a ship, a castle, a throne, a spy base.

 

I liked many things about this story. I liked all the imagination involved in the girl's (screen free) games, and the love she has for those memories. I liked all the talk about potential, finding a new purpose for the branch, transform it in something great, new but still her branch. I liked the beautiful relationship that grows between her and Mr. Frank. I find cute and important to recognize what elderly people has to give to little kids. They have the time and knowledge to share, and this story, like others I have read recently such as Harry and Walter and Maggie McGillicuddy's eye for trouble, make a point of it. The illustrations are colorful and bright, and in them the branch never looks like just a branch. 

 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Almost a full moon

Almost a Full Moon - Hawksley Workman, Jensine Eckwall

by Hawksley Workman

illustrated by Jensine Eckwall

age range: 3 years old and up

Tundra Books - Penguin Random House Canada

 

It's a cold and wintry night. The almost full moon reflects in the snow making everything bright. A boy and his grandma are preparing soup in their cabin to fight the cold. There are sticks to pick, a fire to light, and vegetables to cut. Lots of soup are needed, since it is going to be shared with all the people they know, and all they don't.

 

This picture book is based on the lyrics of a Workman's song "Almost a Full Moon" from his holiday album with the same name. The rhymed text reads fluid and effortless, and the illustrations are delicate and cozy. Beautiful bedtime story.

 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Back this great project!

Have you ever seen this NovelTeas tins? They are tea tins shaped like a book and inspired in three amazing classic novels.

 

 

 

 

The creators of this project are working on a British series to come out later this year. This new collection includes: Pride and Peppermint, Oliver Lemon Twist, and Matcha Do About Nothing.

 

 

 

Back this project!! You can back this project on Kickstarter now making a donation or pre-ordering one or more tins to be received in November. It is a great addition to your library, or a beautiful gift for books and tea lovers. There's only a few days left! In the Kickstarter page we can also know more about the project, its creators, the illustrators, and more.

 

You can also find the original series here.

 

Disclaimer: I'm not part of this project, nor I personally know any of its creators. I just fell in love with the tins and thought the project is worth supporting!

 

The three muske-tea-ers.

 

 

 

 

Ocean animals from head to tail

Ocean Animals from Head to Tail - Stacey Roderick, Kwanchai Moriya

by Stacey Roderick

illustrated by Kwanchai Moriya

age range: up to 7 years old

Kids Can Press

 

Each of the eight ocean animals portrayed in this book are presented first just showing an interesting part of its body, and the reader is asked to say which animal is it. Only then the whole animal is introduced, and information about it, specially the purpose of its body part, is given. That's how you get to know the hammerhead shark, colossal squid, blue whale, eel, sailfish, sea turtle, sea anemone and seahorse, from head to tail. 

The text is very accessible, and the facts interesting. The reader learns how all those "weird" looking eyes, tails, tentacles, etc., are of great use for hiding, swimming, hunting, or scaring predators. The collage like illustrations are very appropriate for the age range.

Very interesting non fiction picture book which includes animals, science and art.

There is a previous book in the series, Dinosaurs from head to tail, that I plan to read soon, and I really hope to see more books in this series in the future.

 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Braxton Woods Mystique

Braxton Woods Mystique - Adam Furgang

by Adam Furgang

age range: middle graders

Howling Wolf

 

Leo and his mom has just moved to their new house, after loosing their old one and everything else in a fire. This new house is one of five houses in an isolated cul de sac that were part of an unfinished development. Summer is just starting and Leo hopes to have some fun with his new neighbor friends Nora, and the twins Albert and Oliver. Maybe even explore the extensive woods behind their houses. What looks like a boring vacation turns out to be the most exciting summer ever when the gang finds sinkholes, fantastic creatures, and even a buried one hundred year old carnival.

 

This middle grade novel was an enjoyable read. The plot is consistent and intriguing. the characters are funny and I got engage to them quickly. Even Colin, a friend from Leo's old neighborhood who you only get to know through his texts adds to the cast. Creepy at some moments, the story has lots of action and a very satisfying ending.

 

I received this book from the author via LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review.

Puppy mind

Puppy Mind - Andrew Jordan Nance, Jim Durk

by Andrew Jordan Nance

illustrated by Jim Durk

age range: up to 6 years old

Plum Blossom Books - Parallax Press

 

Sometimes our minds are like untrained puppies, who likes to explore, and if you are not careful, she will go through any open door she finds. Sometimes our minds like to wander to the past or the future, making hard to pay attention when we are being talked. And sometimes we get mad at our puppy minds, but it is better to be kind, take a few deep breaths, and try to focus again.

 

Many kids get really upset when they are not able to focus, and get distracted easily. This cute story is a good way to help them put the situation in words, and give some simple advice to start training a puppy mind.The illustrations are colorful and funny. I'm glad some topics related to mental health of little kids are starting to be addressed in picture books.

 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Inside your insides

Inside Your Insides: A Guide to the Microbes That Call You Home - Claire Eamer, Marie-Eve Tremblay

A guide to the microbes that call you home.

by Claire Eamer

illustrated by Marie-Eve Tremblay

age range: 7 years old and up

Kids Can Press

 

Interesting and entertaining non-fiction picture book about the microbes that live in our body. With a text easy to understand, this books explains what are microbes and microbiomes, microbes that are good for us, and other that make us sick, antibiotics and antibacterial soaps, etc. The illustrations are funny, and there are also many jokes along the book microbe related. Very interesting option to explore science and our bodies.

 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

Baby bear's not hibernating

Baby Bear's Not Hibernating - Lynn Plourde, Teri Weidner

by Lynn Plourde

illustrated by Teri Weidner

age range: up to 5 years old

Rowman and Littlefield Books

 

Baby Black Bear is planning to stay awake the who-o-o-o-o-le winter. To be prepared he asks his friends for smarts way to survive. How does owl stay awake all winter? What does moose eat when all the leaves are gone? How does hare keep himself warm? When the first snow comes Baby bear says goodbye to his parents and gets himself ready for the adventure. But the branch breaks when he tries to lie on it. And frozen twigs for dinner is not what he was expecting. He also is too big to fit in hare's burrow, nor he has the same thick fur for keeping him warm. Thankfully Papa bear is taking care of him from a safe distance.

Maybe taking a short nap before spring is not such a bad idea after all...

 

This is a cute bed time story. Any kid can relate with the fascinating idea of skipping sleep and staying awake the whole night, even it that means yawning endlessly. Baby bear is incredibly sweet. The beautiful illustrations make you want to touch the soft bear's fur, and to roll on the snow. At the end of the book there are a couple of pages with interesting facts about black bears to add some learning to the experience. We really enjoyed this book!

 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Click here to start

Click Here to Start (A Novel) - Denis Markell

by Denise Markell

Age range: 8 to 12 years old

Delacorte Books

 

Ted is a twelve years old boy who loves to play escape-the-room games in his computer. And he is really good at them. When his great uncle dies leaving a treasure for him to find, Ted will need all his skills to solve this real life challenge.

 

This book was such an enjoyable reading! It has lots of action, a trio of adorable friends, mysterious characters, treasure hunting, computer games, and literary quotes. It also approaches the topic of American soldiers of Japanese ancestry who fought during WWII in the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Infantry Regiment, as well as the internment of Japanese American in camps during that period. The plot is dynamic and consistent. The writing is very engaging, and I found myself widely smiling in many occasions. It also made me want to read some classic literary works mentioned in it, to learn more about this specific historic events, and, why no, try some escape-the-room computer games. (No. I have never played them).

 

The cover art by Octavi Navarro is wonderful, and I also liked the pages layout, which mirrors a computer game. If it looks so good in an e-book I guess the printed edition has to be just awesome.

There is a hint at the end of the book that suggest this might be the first one in a series. Am I right? I hope so!

 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Lila and the crow

Lila and the Crow - Gabrielle Grimard

by Gabrielle Grimard

age range: 3 to 7 years old

Annick Press

 

Lila has recently moved to a new city and she is really looking forward to start school to meet new friends. But things don't go as she expected. The very first day the bully of her class teases her saying her hair and eyes are black as a crow. Lila starts using a hat, dark glasses, and even a high neck sweater to cover her body as much as possible. This don't stop the bullying, and Lila is terribly sad. One afternoon running home from school Lila trips and falls. A crow comes near her. She can then observe how beautiful its black feather are, so black they seems to have kind of a purple gloss. Lila also sees how soft and bright its eyes are. She follows the crow to where hundreds of crows are. The sight is magnificent. When they fly away thousands of black feathers "rain" from the trees. Lila stuffs her backpack with them. At home she uses them to make a crow costume for the Great Autumn Festival at school. When she enters her classroom in her beautiful, black dress, all the kids run to her, to admire her costume and touch the soft feathers. Lila feels happy to be a crow.

 

Gorgeous illustrations accompany this sweet story. Lila, like any other kid, is avid to fit, to be accepted by her peers. She had never thought there was something wrong with the color of her hair or eyes. What others say makes her feel ashamed of it, but hiding who she is doesn't make things better. She makes the journey of finding back her own beauty, and this makes her feel strong and confident again. Lila is beautiful, and she knows it.

 

Gabrielle Grimard has illustrated many other picture books, but as far as I know this is the first time she authors the text too. Very promising. I'm interested in take a look to her future works. And another great read from Annick Press.

 

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

What I'm currently reading (7/11)

 

The Dinner by Herman Kock - I'm very excited about it. It was picked by my RL book club last year, but I couldn't join that meeting. I know everyone liked it, so my expectations are high for this one.

 

 

 

 

Click here to start by Denis Markell - I'm reading this as an ARC through NetGalley. I'm 75% done with it, and so far so good. I expect to review it at some point this week.

 

 

 

The cherry orchard by Anton Pavlov Chekhov - I hope to have time this week to squeeze this play. I read The Summer Guest recently, and although it wasn't a remarkable read, it made me want to read of Chekhov's works.





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