Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Book Review: 'Boris and Bella' by Carolyn Crimi

✰✰✰✰✰ Everyone in Booville seems to get along. Everyone, that is, except for neighbors Bella and Boris. Bella Legrossi is the messiest creature in town, while Boris Kleanitoff is the tidiest.

Bella and Boris argue all the time. As Halloween rolls around, each tries to outdo the other with a spectacular party. When all the other monsters turn them down to attend Harry Beastie’s party, Bella and Boris are left out and all alone again. Together they decide to find out what all the other creatures are shrieking about. And together they stumble upon a nice surprise.

The Bottom Line: This tale of two opposites is witty and clever. This spooky tale of friendship is one of my favorites this year. Kids in lower grade school will love Gris Grimly’s spooktacular illustrations in ink and watercolor. This Halloween treat is sure to be a winner for story time reading as well.

Details: Boris and Bella written by Carolyn Crimi & illustrated by Gris Grimly. Hardcover picture book published by Harcourt, Inc. in 2004. 32 p. ISBN: 0-15-202528-6 

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Book Review: 'Trick or Treat?' by Bill Martin Jr. & Michael Sampson

✰✰✰✰ A little boy goes trick-or-treating in his apartment building. He goes from floor to floor and door to door, asking, “Trick or Treat?” Each person answers, “Treat!” and hands out candy. However, when the little boy reaches the tenth floor, Merlin answers, “Trick!” Magic Merlin waves his wand and suddenly everything is WackBards! On the way back down to his apartment, the little boy’s treat bag is filled with backwards treats. When he gets home, his daddy knows just the trick to undo Merlin’s spell.

The Bottom Line: This Halloween-themed counting book is recommended for kids in grades PreK – 1. Meisel’s whimsical drawings will make kids laugh. Also, recommended for story time.

Details: Trick or Treat? written by Bill Martin Jr. & Michael Sampson, & illustrated by Paul Meisel. Hardcover picture book published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers in 2002. 40 p. ISBN: 0-689-84968-0 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Book Review: 'How to Make Friends with a Ghost' by Rebecca Green

✰✰✰✰½  Ghosts need friends just like we do. It might be a bit scary at first to be friends with a ghost, but this helpful guide will show you how. The tricky part is finding a ghost. Rather then looking for one, it's better to let the ghost find you.

Once you are acquainted with your ghost let the fun begin. Ghosts have special needs, and this how-to book will help you care for your new friend. You can make snacks for it, take walks with it, and tell it funny jokes. If you move or when you grow older, your ghost will still be there for you. Your ghost is your true friend to the end...forever.   

The Bottom Line: Rebecca Green's debut picture book is a delightful winner. This quirky and sweet tale of everlasting friendship is great for kids who are a little bit shy. This ghostly tale is not scary at all. Green used a soothing, limited color palette resulting in charming illustrations with gothic, retro feel. Highly recommended for kids in grades K – 2. This is the perfect seasonal reading for kids interested in fantasy and make-believe.

Details: How to Make Friends with a Ghost written & illustrated by Rebecca Green. Hardcover picture book published by Tundra Books in 2017. 40 p. ISBN: 978-1-101-91901-9  NOTE: I received a free copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This was made possible via the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Book Review: 'How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?' by Margaret McNamara

✰✰✰✰✰ Charlie is the smallest kid in class. One day his teacher brings in three pumpkins in three different sizes and asks, "How many seeds in a pumpkin?" Everyone guesses that the largest has the most. Maybe, but not so fast. The class sets out to count the seeds in groups of twos, fives, and tens. When everyone is finished, the class is surprised by the results. It just goes to prove that sometimes good things come in small packages.

The Bottom Line: This book is enthusiastically recommended for story time reading for kids in grades K – 2. The children work together in teams and learn about counting and perception. The engaging illustrations rendered in gouache, acrylic, and pencil help drive the concepts home. Finally, the book includes some cool facts about pumpkins too.

Details: How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? (Mr. Tiffin's Classroom series) written by Margaret McNamara & illustrated by G. Brian Karas. Hardcover picture book published by Schwartz & Wade Books in 2007. 40 p. ISBN: 978-0-375-84014-2 

Monday, October 23, 2017

Book Review: 'Ollie's Halloween' by Olivier Dunrea

✰✰✰✰ It’s Halloween and the goslings are out prowling. Each is dressed up for the festivities as they hoot like owls, scare frogs, and gobble up treats. But Ollie is too busy to eat. When lightning flashes in the dark sky, the goslings run into the barn. There they find one last feast of treats. Will the others share with Ollie? Check out this Halloween treat to find out.

The Bottom Line: This tiny tale of big Halloween adventure is sure to please little ones familiar with Gossie, Gertie, Peedie, BooBoo, & Ollie. Delightful pen and ink and gouache illustrations set a festive tone. The large print is perfect for beginning readers. Enthusiastically recommended for little ones in preschool. Includes a fold-out poster.

Details: Ollie’s Halloween written & illustrated by Olivier Dunrea. Hardcover picture book published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children in 2010. 32 p. ISBN: 978-0-618-53241-4

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Book Review: 'It Takes a Witch' by Heather Blake

✰✰✰✰ After the recent death of their father, Darcy Merriweather and her little sister, Harper, need a change. When their only living relative, Aunt Ve, invites them to live with her in the Enchanted Village in Salem, Massachusetts, they jump at the opportunity. It seems they never got to know their mom very well and after joining the family business, Darcy and Harper learn a family secret. They come from a long line of witches known as Wishcrafters, who have the power to grant wishes with spells. What could possibly be better?

As Darcy and Harper take new jobs and get to know the residents, they quickly discover that things aren't so rosy in this magic-themed tourist town. With a pickpocketer running amok, more trouble soon arrives in the form of a dead body. When the obvious clues point to Aunt Ve and her beau, Darcy pushes her newfound abilities to the max. Meanwhile, a handsome widower mysteriously appears every step of the way as Darcy follows the twists and turns of this charming mystery to a surprising conclusion.

The Bottom Line: This supernatural cozy mystery is a quick read. After finishing the first installment, I can't wait to read the rest. Highly recommended for fans of cozy mysteries who enjoy a little romance as well. This would be fun to take to the beach or on vacation.

Details: It Takes a Witch: A Wishcraft Mystery by Heather Blake. Paperback published by OBSIDIAN in 2012. 320 p. ISBN: 978-0-451-23552-7 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Book Review: 'Night of the Living Deed' by E. J. Copperman

✰✰✰½ Alison Kerby is a recently divorced, single mom looking for a change. Deciding to follow her dream, she purchases a large Victorian house on the Jersey shore. With lots of hard work and determination, she plans to turn it into a guesthouse. However, when an accident leaves Alison with the ability to see and talk to ghosts, Alison suddenly has a problem. Her house is haunted!

The ghosts that occupy Alison's house insist they were murdered, and they won't leave Alison alone until she solves the mystery. As the deadline for completing the renovations looms near, Alison starts receiving threatening emails. With the safety of her daughter and herself at risk, will Alison be able to solve the mystery in time? Check out this quirky, spooky mystery to find out.

The Bottom Line: This is the first book of the entertaining Haunted Guesthouse Mysteries. It's the perfect pick for weekend or beach reading. Recommended for fans of cozy mysteries with a paranormal twist.

Details: Night of the Living Deed (A Haunted Guesthouse Mystery) by E. J. Copperman. Paperback published by Berkley in 2010. 336 p. ISBN: 978-0-425-23523-2