Monday, October 26, 2009

Book Review: Billy Bones by C. Lincoln

4.5/5 stars. Most families have a skeleton or two in their closet, but few know that the skeletons actually live in a home's Secrets Closet and guard all the fibs and secrets of a house's inhabitants. Billy Bones: A Tale from the Secrets Closet by Christopher Lincoln is an imaginative read about one family's darkest secrets.

Billy Bones is a child skeleton who lives with his skeleton parents in the tiny Secrets Closet at High Manners Manor. The Bones family has the tedious job of guarding the secrets of the Sir Barkley Braggety Biglum family, but Billy longs for adventure. He soon finds it when Sir Barkley's orphaned niece Millicent moves in.

One day the curious Millicent stumbles upon her grandmother, Dame Biglum, who has been shut away for many years. Millicent, also, discovers the hidden Secrets Closet to the surprise of the Bones family. It soon becomes obvious that there are many mysteries lurking around the Manor. Millicent joins forces with her grandmother and Billy to uncover the Biglum family secrets and Sir Barkley's latest plot to gain more wealth at any cost.

Meanwhile, Billy's parents have their own secrets to hide and come under investigation in the Afterlife. The mysteries keep getting deeper and the trio of friends must face many adversities along the way to overcome the evil lurking within the Manor. The biggest secret of all is finding out Billy's true identity. Just who is this boy skeleton? Can they find out in time?

The Bottom Line: An absolutely great read...lots of fun and action. Recommended for kids in Grades 4 - 6 and for kids who never grew up. Also, join Billy Bones in his new adventure in The Road to Nevermore.

Details: Billy Bones: A Tale from the Secrets Closet by Christopher Lincoln, 2008. ISBN: 978 -0-316-014731

Cookbook Review: Great Salads and Sides by F. Smith

4/5 stars. More than just leaf lettuce on a plate, salads have been transformed in Fiona Smith's new cookbook, Great Salads and Sides: simply delicious recipes for everyday eating and entertaining. The book offers mouth-watering recipes for both side salads and entrée salads including everything from Classic Caesar Salad to Pork & Lentil Salad. There is also a great selection of recipes for warm sides including Three Nut Pilaf and Ratatouille. Other chapters include Salsas and Dips; and Relishes, Pickles, and Sauces.

This book features gorgeous food photography in full color by Diana Miller. There is also a Glossary of Ingredients, Index, websites, and conversion charts. A beautiful addition to any cookbook collection. However, there is one area which could be improved; the font is too small and light. Bolder text would make reading the recipes much easier.

The Bottom Line: You don't need to be a vegetarian to enjoy a salad. Recommended for cooks of all levels.
Details: Great Salads and Sides: simply delicious recipes for everyday eating and entertaining by Fiona Smith, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-84597-837-2

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Cookbook Review: Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies by M. Bryan

4.5/5 stars. Mrs. Rowe's Restaurant and Bakery in Staunton, Virginia is renowned for pie...all kinds of pie. In fact, Mildred Rowe was given the nickname "the Pie Lady" by her loyal fans. Her pies have become the stuff of legend, but now readers can attempt to bake these scrumptious treats in their own ovens with the help of this cookbook.

The book includes pie making tips and techniques as well as a whole chapter dedicated to crusts and toppings. With over 50 pie recipes, chances are that you'll find your favorite in this slim culinary treat. Beautiful full color photos highlight the pies; however, more photographs would have been splendid.

Recipes include the classics: Granny Smith Apple Pie, Fresh Peach Pie, Original Coconut Cream Pie, Classic Banana Cream Pie, and Shoofly Pie. Readers can also try something different: Butternut Squash Pie, Tar Heel Pie, German Chocolate Pie, Watermelon Pie, and Lemon Chess Pie. A full index is included.

The Bottom Line: Highly recommended for both novice and advanced bakers as well as cookbook aficionados.

Details: Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies by Mollie Cox Bryan, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-58008-980-7

Friday, October 23, 2009

Book Review: Haunted Party by I. Trapani

4/5 stars. Iza Trapani's ghost host has his hands full of spooky fun in Haunted Party. This counting story in rhyme will keep little ones focused on the menagerie of ghouls and creepy creatures that attend a Halloween party "At the haunted house of the ghost." But the fun really begins when the 10 children arrive all "sunny and sweet." The party guests are frightened out of their wits to the chanting of "Trick or Treat!" All make a hasty exit as we count back down to the last remaining ghost and a surprise for readers.

This humorous picture book is vividly illustrated in watercolor, colored pencil, and ink. Simply an adorable Halloween treat for readers learning to count from 1 to 10.

The Bottom Line: Recommended for children in PreK - Gr. 1.

Details: Haunted Party written & illustrated by Iza Trapani, 2009. ISBN: 978-1-58089-246-9

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Book Review: Skelly the Skeleton Girl by J. Pickering

5/5 stars. Gothic and spooktacular illustrations, reminiscent of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, capture an eager audience in Jimmy Pickering's Skelly the Skeleton Girl.

We join Skelly as she searches for the owner of a lost bone. But who could it possibly belong to? Let's follow as she questions her skeleton fish, pet bat, man-eating plants, ghosts, the spider next door, and more. The trail seems to grow cold until she hears a noise and solves the mystery.

The Bottom Line: A charming tale beautifully rendered in full color using mixed media. For spooky, but not frightening, fun any time of the year. Sure to please children, especially girls, ages 4 - 7. Also, look for Skelly's new adventure in Skelly & Femur.

Details: Skelly the Skeleton Girl written & illustrated by Jimmy Pickering, 2007. ISBN: 978-1-4169-1192-0

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Review: The Thirteen Hours of Halloween by D. C. Regan

4.5/5 stars. Written in the tradition of The Twelve Days of Christmas, author Dian Curtis Regan presents the Halloween classic, The Thirteen Hours of Halloween.

A little girl recounts a tale of all the Halloween gifts she receives including pumpkins, bats, cats, ghosts, zombies, and more. By the time the 13th hour of Halloween arrives, she has accumulated quite a collection of whimsical beasts and ghouls. She decides to give them all away except for one. Which gift will she keep? Regan keeps us guessing until the very last page.

Lieve Baeten's lively colored pencil and watercolor drawings are fantastically executed. A classic Halloween treat for children ages 4 - 8.

Details: The Thirteen Hours of Halloween by Dian Curtis Regan, 1993. ISBN: 0-8075-7876-2

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Book Review: Ghosts in the House! by K. Kohara

4.5/5 stars. Kazuno Kohara's charming picture book, Ghosts in the House! features a little girl who moves into a splendid, old house. There's only 1 problem; the house is haunted. But this is no ordinary little girl; she is a witch whose specialty is catching ghosts. Soon the witch girl and her witch cat have rounded up every last ghost...and they all lively happily together in the house.

Strikingly illustrated in mixed media using the 3 colors of Halloween: orange, black, and white. Children ages PreK - Grade 3 will love it.

Details: Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara, 2008. ISBN: 978-1-59643-427-1