Picture Book Review: “Numenia and the Hurricane”

“Numenia and the Hurricane” is a STUNNING book with a captivating storyline, gorgeous illustrations and a tiny whimbrel who will steal your heart forever. Inspired by a true story, young and not-so-young readers alike will be mesmerized by this brave and determined little bird. It’s a story I won’t soon forget, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Picture Book Review: You Taught Me Love

“You Taught Me Love” is a fun, vibrant story about love and all the different ways it can be declared and received. It’s the second book in the author’s “With Love” collection and is a playful expression of just how deep a parent’s love is for their children.

Picture Book Review: “BOO”

Based on a true story, “Boo” tells the tale of a classroom hamster who goes on an adventure one night after the teachers and students go home. Boo finds traveling around the school to be a joyous time of exploration and discovery, but he soon misses the familiarity and comforts of his cage and his classroom. Will he ever find his way back?

Picture Book Review: “I Like Me and I Love Me”

“I Like Me and I Love Me” is a beautiful book about liking and loving yourself. Right away the main character exudes confidence in herself in a fun and fresh manner and will captivate a young audience with her spunky attitude and style.

PICTURE BOOK REVIEW – “ANIMAL IMAGINE”

ANIMAL IMAGINE
Author: Tim Fortier
Illustrator: Kathleen Warno
Age Range: Kids of all ages!
Available at http://tfortpoetry.com

Tim Fortier describes his new book, Animal Imagine as “a whimsical take on animal stereotypes.” Whimsical indeed, this delightful, colorful picture book is a journey of tapping into your imagination to see what kind of magic you can reveal.

The story presents like a poem and readers are invited to imagine various playful scenarios of animals outside of their typical domains. Everyone knows giraffes have long necks but has anyone ever imagined a giraffe who wears neckties? What about a starfish trying on a t-shirt – can you imagine what that t-shirt might look like? And skunks? Can you imagine them spraying perfume instead of stinky stuff?

This story was so much fun to read and as I was reading I actually imagined whole classrooms full of kids giggling with delight at these hilarious and thoughtful situations and even creating their own “what-ifs” with other kinds of animals.

The illustrations are colorful and witty and complement the story, inspiring the imagination and captivating the audience. I especially loved the picture of the shark with braces.  Somehow, those silver shiny teeth made that big mouth a little less intimidating!

It’s obvious Tim puts his heart and soul into his work.  He visits schools and encourages kids to write their own poetry.  And – one dollar of every book he sells will be donated to charity, with a focus on organizations involved in pediatric cancer.

Animal Imagine is a fun story for all ages.

About the Author and Illustrator

Learn more about the author, Tim Fortier at: http://tfortpoetry.com.
Learn more about the illustrator, Kathleen Warno at: https://www.sarasotaartistkwarno.com/

Review Copy

I obtained a copy of this book to review from the author in exchange for an honest review. I’m reading my way through 500 picture books. Need a picture book review? Contact me!

Picture Book Review: “Why We Love P.E.”

WHY WE LOVE P.E.
Author: Jerome Jones
Illustrator: Jose Daniel Oviedo Galeano
ISBN: 9781643072005
Publisher: Mascot Books (2019)
Age Range: 3-9
Grade Level: Preschool/Elementary

Publisher’s Synopsis:
Abby and Tommy are back for another adventure to promote healthy living and fun for kids of all ages. Today, they are having a debate about what the best part of P.E. class is. Will Abby and Tommy agree, or are there too many fun P.E. activities to decide?

My Review

“Why We Love P.E.” by Jerome Jones is the perfect story for back-to-school days featuring siblings Abby and Tommy, as they consider all the reasons why P.E. is their favorite school activity. Kids returning to school, entering school for the first time, and even big kids whose P.E. days have long passed, will enjoy learning and celebrating the significance of physical education.

Abby and Tommy make a great team, and their excitement around all the sports and activities they enjoy in P.E. is infectious! What I love most about the duo is their interactions with each other. They are courteous and respectful to each other – they complement and build each other up, while supporting each other’s ideas and values.

They cheerfully highlight various sports such as soccer, basketball, pickleball, lacrosse, golf, and field day, discussing some of the finer elements of each game and noting the benefits of each. Through their playful discussions kids will learn how P.E. helps build new friendships, improve current skills and learn new skills and helps you take care of your body. I love that the story emphasizes how P.E. provides physical exercise as well as teaches how to control emotions (i.e., through good sportsmanship), and make healthy choices (i.e., through healthy foods) – all things used in every aspect of everyday life.

There are a couple of concepts in the book where younger (preschool/kindergarten-aged) kids will benefit from adult interpretation, such as “compare and contrast” and learning “fundamentals.” The dialogue between Abby and Tommy including these terms may not be commonplace among younger kids, however the author skillfully defines these terms through the actions of Abby and Tommy.

The illustrations are bright, colorful and cheery, just like Abby and Tommy.  There are so many fun items to note in each picture and kids will delight in finding some of their favorite sporting equipment portrayed on the pages. They may even find some new things to explore in their own P.E. classes. Beautiful illustrations – perfectly suited to the story.

Overall, “Why We Love P.E.” is wonderful story that stresses the importance of physical fitness in an uplifting and fun tone.  The best thing about P.E., as Abby and Tommy will relate – it makes you HAPPY!

About the Author

Jerome Jones has a background in teaching elementary grade students and coaching high school sports. He has taught all ages of Elementary grades in many subjects including reading, math, science and PE. He loves to help kids learn and believes that all kids can learn in many different and creative ways. Mr. Jones wants kids to have fun each and every day inside and outside of the classroom.

Learn more about Jerome Jones at: www.healthykidsbooks.com

Connect with Jerome Jones!

Facebook:        https://www.facebook.com/healthykidsbooks
Instagram:       https://www.instagram.com/healthykidsbooks/
Pinterest:         https://www.pinterest.com/hkpublishing/
Twitter:           https://twitter.com/healthykidsbook

Review Copy

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. I’m reading my way through 500 picture books. Need a picture book review? Contact me!

Picture Book Review: “Noah’s Shark”

Noah’s Shark
Author: Clare Thompson
Illustrator: Richie T. Evans
ASIN: B07MTLBYFC
Publisher: Bear With Us Productions (2019)
Age Range: 2-6
Grade Level: Preschool – 2

Amazon Synopsis
Join Noah as he learns the hard way that pets are not always easy to look after… especially if your pet is a shark! An amusing rhyming picture book that will make both children and adults smile as they see Noah navigate the difficulties of having a very unsuitable pet. With fun characters and great pictures this book is aimed at 2-6-year-olds but is one the whole family will enjoy.

My Review

Debut picture book author, Clare Thompson delivers an exciting look at the responsibilities that come with pet ownership. In the story, Noah has a shark named Mark, and he is so excited to take him to school for show-and-tell. But that’s where his troubles begin as his teacher tells him adamantly that sharks are not allowed in school. So sets the stage for adventure as Noah and Mark get push-back from nearly everyone they meet, including Noah’s mom and dad. In the end, everything works out as it should with a comfortable permanent home for Mark and a more suitable pet for Noah.

Told to a delightful rhythmic beat, the story is fun to read aloud, the witty, catchy narrative painting vivid images of Noah’s quandary. My favorite part was Dad’s reaction when Noah let Mark loose in his dad’s fishpond –

“But Noah’s Daddy shouted ‘Oi’
As Mark’s tail gave a swish,
‘Please get that shark out of my pond,
He’s eating all my fish!’”

Oi. That made me laugh out loud – good stuff! I also like that the story teaches a couple of valuable lessons without preaching. Not all animals make good pets – and the ones that do, come with responsibilities.

The illustrations are bold and colorful and spot on. Noah looks like a kid who takes his responsibilities seriously. I love his Harry-Potter-esque type glasses, and his overall determination. I didn’t catch at first glance that his backpack is not a backpack at all, but a tank of water for Mark – clever! Smart designs, sharp colors and animated expressions make the illustrations jump off the pages and kids will get a kick out of every single page.

“Noah’s Shark” is a wonderful, charming debut the entire family will enjoy!

About the Author and Illustrator

Learn more about the author, Clare Thompson at: https://www.facebook.com/clarethompsonbooks/

Learn more about the illustrator, Richie T. Evans at: https://www.rdevans.com/

Review Copy

I downloaded the Kindle edition of this book to review. I’m reading my way through 500 picture books. Need a picture book review? Contact me!

Book Review – The Eclipse Dancer

The Eclipse Dancer
Laura Koerber
Who Chains You Books (2018)
ISBN 9781946044402
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (1/19)

Soul-stirring and bewitching. “The Eclipse Dancer” by Laura Koerber is an enchanting story that carried me away to another world for just a few days but will linger in my thoughts for some time to come.

Summary

While people flock to Allenburg to catch the total eclipse of the sun, Andy is content to watch from her old family home, a single-wide trailer just outside of town. As the sky blackens to complete darkness Andy abandons her cares and loses herself in dance. Just one night of respite taken to escape her current circumstances. Home tending to her dying mother, memories of her prior life in Allenburg ignite, bringing Andy face-to-face with the moments that shaped her forever.

My thoughts.

To begin, this is one of the most captivating stories I have read recently. The author has an extraordinary talent transporting readers directly into her story. Her voice is distinct and rich with tones both inviting and unsettling at the same time. The reader floats along with Andy as she dances under the eclipse and falls quickly back to earth with her reflections of days gone by. Are the recollections are real or the wild imagination of a young girl?

It is through the recall of these memories and events, readers learn about Andy and her turbulent upbringing with an alcoholic mother, who informs Andy early on that her father was a nobody, a one-night stand. Andy finds out the truth about her father and her own heritage through her new friend Kenshi and the old lady that lives down the road, who turns out to be a relative.

The story.

The storyline is simple in that it is easy to follow. Yet, intricate as layers unwind with a seamless, melodic flow.  And, while the author excels at getting inside the heart and soul of her readers, the connection garnered by what remains unsaid is remarkable. The writing is descriptive and artistic, without being flowery or overdone. She leaves just enough room to incorporate snippets of one’s own imagination. Some things are just not taught and Koerber’s writing is one of those things–she has a gift.

The characters.

The characters are well-developed and authentic to both the fairy and human worlds. The most affecting relationship is between Andy and her mother Cindy, because it shows a strained relationship at best. Koerber clearly exhibits that volatile mother-daughter connection. Body language, facial expressions and declarations that can never be taken back. As a result, I actually had a flashback of a confrontation with my own mother many years ago–talk about haunting!

Conclusion

Overall, combining elements of fantasy with hard-core human issues relevant in today’s world, Koerber takes the reader on a magical journey as down-to-earth as it is out-of-this-world.  I highly recommend “The Eclipse Dancer” by Laura Koerber to fantasy fans and anyone wanting to lose themselves in an amazing, unforgettable story.

Let’s Talk about Star Ratings

What’s Up with Star Ratings?

Much like judging a book by its cover, I find star ratings to be highly subjective, and I really don’t like “assigning” a number to a book I’ve just read.  I find the coveted 5-Star-Review to be a bit over-rated – in my mind it’s the content of the review that matters most. 

I read and edit a substantial number of reviews each year for Reader Views, and there is nothing more baffling to me than reading a review laden with critiques that somehow scores a 4 or 5 star rating.  Gee, the plot was full of holes and the characters were like cardboard cut-outs, but I highly recommend this book as a 5-Star read!  What?  Likewise, I don’t think a book necessarily merits a 2 star review just because the reader didn’t like the story – there has to be more than that.  For me, 2 star issues include a lack of readability, numerous grammatical errors, character development issues, stagnant plot and dialogue issues, etc.

The Magic Numbers?

I personally assign star ratings based on the following scale:
5 Stars – Excellent
4 Stars – Very Good
3 Stars – Good
2 Stars – Fair
1 Star – Need a bit of work

I just want to point out that 3 stars is a good review!  I think the mind-set of everyone in the industry today is that if a book doesn’t rate 4 or 5 stars it isn’t any good. I totally disagree with this line of thinking!  A good review is a good review.  Not every book you read is going to be great or blow your mind, but there are a lot of good books that will leave an impression. 

When I read a book, whether for pure enjoyment, to learn a new skill, expand my knowledge, or for a literary contest, I want to feel a connection to that book. Be it fiction or non-fiction, humorous or biographical, when I finish a book it is the connection I make with all points of the book that will determine the number of stars.

What are your thoughts on star ratings?

Originally published for Reader Views.

Sheri Hoyte Books
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