Saturday, October 27, 2018

Cozy, Snowy Cuddles illustrated by Fransesca Pesci

Cozy, Snowy Cuddles is a 10-page touch and feel board book featuring a young polar bear. Each spread, the polar bear interacts with a child and adult animal of a different species that has a touch and feel element (narwhals, huskies, seals, moose, and finally other polar bears at the end). Each spread has a four line rhyming stanza. Most of the text is white, but key words pop out in a different color on each spread.

The text itself is just okay. It uses lots of different words within the snowy, cuddly theme about keeping warm and companionship. The ending spread says, "Thank God for cozy kisses! [...] We snuggle up with good night / hugs and whisper, 'I love you.'" This spread is the only one that doesn't rhyme. It's also the only one to mention God, and it's not a particularly strong use. I would have preferred a stronger Christian message from this book rather than something that can be brushed off as an insincere "thank God." Working it in to the I love you part, for example, would have been a better use. I've seen this pattern with putting God at the end just on one spread in a few of these Christian touch and feel style books, and it just feels like an afterthought rather than a focus.

The touch and feel of this book though is really well done. The textures are all actually different and really feel like the animal they represent. The cover even has some bonus glitter-texture snow.

Overall, this book is a good touch and feel book for young children. The illustrations are very cute, and though the text isn't anything spectacular, it does function just fine.  I'd still recommend this book especially for children who love winter or who are reluctant about it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice Coloring Book illustrated by Julianne St. Clair

The Pumpkin Spice & Everything Nice Coloring Book is wonderful, even the cat loves it!

The book has two features that really set it apart from any other coloring book: perforated pages (perfect for hanging up your art or sharing coloring time with others) and a wide variety of types of pictures to color. For example, there's word heavy pages that feature Bible verses, famous quotes, and fall themed word pages that require little more than filling in words and filling in a small border. My favorite of these even rolls over two pages and has a vertical orientation--two unique features all on one spread! Others have sprawling landscapes: a barn with a fence and trees, a river running through the forest with a mountain/sun in the background (two very similar pages, my only complaint), and pumpkins and apples at orchards. Indoor scenes such as books with hot cider, a fire place with a mantel decorated in pumpkins, and a door wreath. There are more abstract arrangements of leaves and mushrooms into a heart shape, intricate designs inside a giant leaf, and berries and blooms. There are a few animals featured including birds and owls, as well as one close up deer head. 

This coloring book also has a to and from page at the beginning, ideal for a thoughtful gift. The cover has some nice metallic green shine that make it look fancy enough to give as a gift, too. However, I think the truly special thing about this book is that with the perforated pages, you can color with family and friends, so it's really a gift to all!

Get your oranges, browns, and all of your dark yellows and reds ready--this book is all fall!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Candy Apple Blessings illustrated by Maddie Frost

Candy Apple Blessings celebrates all of the fun things that happen in the fall. It is a 20-page board book with shiny foil accents on the cover.

Each spread covers a different fall topic and a five line stanza where the first three lines rhyme. The fourth line is a single word repeated three times, usually a sound associated with the topic, and the fifth is specifically says what the fall activity is.

Beginning with candy apples, as the title suggests, the other themes that follow are going back to school, getting bundled up in warm clothing, decorating the house, going on a hayride, playing in the leaves, picking pumpkins, navigating a corn maze, and visiting a fair with a petting zoo and games. The final spread follows the three rhyming lines pattern about praying before eating, but then deviates for the fourth and fifth line: "God, thank you for fall blessings!"

The illustrations are cute and have solid, distinct lines. However, within the illustration there is a lot of texture to the design, like lightly rubbing the side of a crayon on construction paper. The main featured animals are a cat, dog, and mouse that appear on each spread and on the cover. Other animals are sometimes repeated from activity to activity, but most appear only once.

Overall, the rhymes are decent, the topics are spot-on, and the illustrations are very pleasant. This book would be great for children who love fall, or even children who need some convincing to love fall.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi

Big Trucks Getting the Job Done Together is a Touch-and-Feel Trucks book, published by Tommy Nelson, the children's imprint of the Christian publisher Thomas Nelson. It is a 12-page board book illustrated by Sergio De Giorgi.

The front cover features Tipper, the dump truck with rubber wheels to feel. The cover theme of construction is clear from the yellow and black stripes with industrial-looking screws. Tipper's jolly smile and eyes, plus bunnies and a bird keep things light and cheerful.

Inside, we meet three additional trucks, Dozer, Diggit, and Stretch the crane. Each page features easy-to-read rhyming text. Touch-and-Feel features include gritty sand (actually more of a non-shiny glitter glue, not like sand paper), more rubber wheels like the cover, reflective mirror windshields, shiny blue silver foil, shiny silver foil, and a final gritty roadway (same as the gritty sand earlier).

The text features lots of onomatopoeia: "Thud! Whomp! Crash!" Themes include helping each other, working fast, and getting the job done. The last line says, "God bless...Good night to each of you," which is the only Christian element of this book. It also doesn't rhyme with the last stanza. The animals from the cover show up on the last page, but are not mentioned in the text and are background as opposed to prominently featured.

Overall, this book had a decent variety of feels to touch and the variety of trucks was good. The rhymes were easy and fun to read, especially the onomatopoeia. I would recommend this to children who like trucks.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Create! A Girl’s Guide to DIY, Doodles, & Design

True to its name, Create! A Girl’s Guide to DIY, Doodles, & Design breaks it’s content up into those three categories. The 28 DIYs include Pom Pom garland, felt-flowered mirror, cross string art, and my favorite, book page embroidery. The 11 doodles include how to create your own hand-lettering style, Bible verse poster, and one I find particularly interesting, progressive drawing. The 15 designs include glitter button earrings, silverware organizer jewelry holder, and several duct tape projects.

Each project has at least one full color photo, a description of the project, a materials list, and step by step instructions. Some include additional elements such as helpful hints, ways to jazz it up, and rarely, Bible verses.

The Christian projects include steps instructing prayer during the process as well.

In the back of the book there is an index of materials that lists each project that uses the material underneath. Because each uses multiple materials, I think this would mostly be helpful for shopping and knowing, for example, if you find a deal on picture frames that two different projects use them.

The book is a good suze, brightly colored, and would make a really fun gift for a child who loves crafting, but for parents who need a little help with ideas. This book is a great way to express creativity, but most would require heavy adult participation, at least until the reader is in her teens.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but I was not required to post a positive review.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Breath of Hope by Lauraine Snelling

A Breath of Hope is the second book of the Under Northern Skies series by Lauraine Snelling. It continues the story of the Carlson family—Rune, Signe, Bjorn, Knute, Leif, and Kirstin—who are still adapting to their new life after leaving Norway for America in the first book. Challenges continue with the difficult uncle they had moved there to help, as their relationship with the aunt and their new community continues to grow.

At first, the book is divided between their story and a story back in Norway where other relatives put plans in motion to join them in America. Raising money for the voyage was difficult, but eventually Rune's younger siblings Nilda and Ivar were able to save enough for one ticket, the other paid on credit from uncle Einar.

When they arrive, they quickly learn about Einar's terrible temper and how the community had been pushed away. Through the book though, the family learns to stand up for themselves more and more, while still trying to be loving to their family members no matter how difficult. When Einar suffers an injury, things become even more tense with him around the house all the time. The Carlson begin to work on their new house and the community steps into help, too.

This book is called A Breath of Hope for the way that despite everything that has happened, the family works to repair relationships and support one another and the community.

The story itself is pretty slow moving, with most just telling about everyday work around the house, farm, and in the woods cutting down trees. There is some drama and scandal early on, hints of future love interests for Nilda, and things do pick up in the last three chapters. Overall, the family is an interesting one to read about, but it really drug on in the middle for me. Sometimes it seemed hastily put together, as my mother pointed out when she read it in a minor plot line of Rune attempting to make skis, he mentioned that his father had made some in Norway, but then soon after says that his father hadn't made skis.

"You made skis before?"
Rune shook his head. "We used the ones my far made but could not bring them along. I know he used hickory..." (51)

"Rune checked in the press he had build to turn up the tips of the skis after he had soaked the planes and smoothed black ash. How would he know when it was dry? If only here were someone he could ask for advice. His far had not made skis, although he made anything else that was needed out of wood." (88)

Though it doesn't affect the story at all, this and other instances made the story feel as though it were rushed. I often felt that details were provided were completely unnecessary and slowed he story down.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the first in the series, as I felt it was very true to the series. Though this book was a little disappointing for me, I would still look forward to reading the next in the series because of the set up this book provided for future stories.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Go to Sleep, Sheep illustrated by Sydney Hanson

“The silly sheep in Bedtime Barnn don’t want to go to bed! Will they ever tire out?”
Go to Sleep, Sheep is described as being a book to relax children who insist they are not sleepy. The pages describe in cute rhyming stanzas how the four young sheep delayed bedtime by asking for more playtime, snacks, eater, stories, and finally praying before snuggling into the hazy for the night. Most pages end with, “Go to sleep, Sheep!” Though two pages break from that trend to say “Ready for sleep, Sheep?” At the beginning and s”Sweet dreams, sheep” at the end.

The illustrations by Sydney Hanson are curr and fit the calming mood of the book. Other animals from the barn are also included in the illustrations, though not mentioned in the text. These include a curled up cat, anright eyed baby pig, a foal and it’s mother, a calf and it’s mother, and even a baby goat with it’s mother. The pokey hay are the only sharp lines in the book, everything is rounded without texture. Each of the sheep hVe a different accessory to make them unique: one with glasses, one with a scarf, one with a hair bow, and one that has one, matching the mother sheep.

The cutest moment is when a little sheep tells her mother that she loves her most of all.

This is a sturdy board book cut out in the shape of a barn.  The moon on the cover is glittery. This story is just the right length for bedtime.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review.