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Children's Lit Weekly Reviews

Catkwondo by Lisl H. Detlefsen: Picture Book Review

Title: Catkwondo
Author: Lisl H. Detlefsen
Publisher: Capstone
Publishing Date: September 1, 2020
For Ages: 4-7
Sensitive Content: None
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Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with an E-ARC of this cute book!

I picked out Catkwondo to request because of the adorable little kitty on the cover. While I did enjoy the illustrations throughout, I found the storyline a little lacking. This isn’t a book that all children will enjoy, but it is a book that children interested in martial arts will enjoy. I did appreciate the Korean words thrown throughout the story as well as the glossary of these words in the back of the book. This type type of diversity is needed in stories. Overall I gave this book a 3/5 just because it wasn’t a story for me, or for any child that I know as well as for being a little flat in the storyline. The pictures are adorable and I know if I ever have a child in my life that loves Karate or Taekwondo that I will get this book for them.

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Children's Lit Weekly Reviews

The Lady with the Books by Kathy Stinson – Children’s Book Review

Title: The Lady with the Books
Author: Kathy Stinson
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publishing Date: October 6, 2020
Sensitive Content: Mention of a dead father (killed in WWII)
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The Lady with the Books is the tale of children after World War II in Germany. Their city is destroyed and they are starving. But they find solace in a book display at a nearby museum and leave inspired to perhaps change the world. I loved this little slice of history that hardly anyone talks about. After WWII, German children were the victims of so much hate, a poor economy, and lost parents. This book reminds us that there is hope out there in the world with the next generation and that we can always find hope and solace in books.

I was happy to read in the footnotes of the book who “The Lady with the Books” actually was and how she brought this exhibit to cities around Germany. I was also happy to learn about what happened to the collection and the Book Castle.

I would recommend this book to my early non fiction readers, anyone who adores children’s literature, and to students learning about the aftermath of WWII.

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Children's Lit Weekly Reviews

Through the Night Sky by DK: Children’s Book Review

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Title: Through the Night Sky
Author: DK
Publisher: DK
Publishing Date: September 8, 2020
Sensitive Content: None
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Through the Night Sky offers a non-fiction narrative of different short entries about things that happen in the night. From what animals do, to bits and pieces about space to solar eclipses, comets, and the northern lights. This is the perfect book for young readers who love little snippets of facts about different subjects, especially science.

Perhaps my favorite part of this book is the way the pictures are laid out throughout this book. They are a mix of layered media art with photographs, painted collages similar to Eric Carle’s work, and splatter paints. I was amazed by the beauty in these pages and could look through them over and over again.

A solid 4.5 stars for this non fiction children’s book. Perfect for little scientists in the making ages 6 – 10.

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Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat: MG Book Review

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Title: A Wish in the Dark
Author: Christina Soontornvat
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publishing Date: March 24, 2020
For Ages: 9-12
Sensitive Topics: Racial injustice, prison, children born out of an affair
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This beautifully written fantasy novel weaves together a narrative about social injustice which is both timely to our current race climate as well as a good way to broach this subject with MG readers in a fun way. This book is about systemic classism taken to an extreme in a city where if a mother gives birth in a prison, that child is forced to grow up in prison. The system is set up where those who are poor can never make their way up in society.

The story focuses around three characters: Pong, who escapes prison at a young age, but still has a prison tattoo so he isn’t really free, Nok, who is the daughter of the prison warden, who find herself in a situation where she has to question what she has been taught to believe her entire life, and Somkit – who grew up alongside Pong in the prison, orchestrated his escape, and then helps him when Pong returns to the city.

I gave this story 5 out of 5 stars. I highly recommend this as a diverse read by a diverse author, for students who love fantasy novels as they will find the subtle magic fun, and for those learning about social justice. What an important book to be published this year!

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Children's Lit Weekly Reviews

Fussy Flamingo – Picture Book Review

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Fussy Flamingo by Shelly Vaughan James, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, for Grades PreK – 2

Fussy Flamingo is about a tiny child flamingo named Lola who lives in South America. Much like kids we all know and love, Lola is a PICKY eater. She does NOT want shrimp for dinner.

Throughout repetitive storytelling, Lola eats many different types of food that are not shrimp, and turns different colors that are not flamingo pink. Lola is sneaky and funny and her antics will make you giggle. There is a little spanish thrown in since this story takes place in Chile. In the back there are also some fact sheets on real flamingos which give this book more of an educational purpose as well.

I enjoyed Lola’s story and I think most kids will get a kick out of Lola and her silly story. I highly recommend this story to preschool and kindergarten students.

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eARC provided by Netgalley

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Children's Lit Weekly Reviews

Mars’ First Friends – Picture Book Review

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Mars’ First Friends, Come on Over, Rovers! by Susanna Leonard Hill, Published by Sourcebooks Wonderland, for grades PreK through 3rd

Mars’ First Friends is a super cute informative picture books perfect for all the little readers you know that love stories about space. This book not only helps recount the eight different planets in our solar system, but also introduces the Mars space rovers to children.

The back pages offer quite a bit more information to readers which is helpful, but I wish that this book was more focused on the actual rovers and what they did on Mars. Most of the book seems focused on Mars being lonely, and while I like that his journey around the solar system introduces us to all planets and a fun fact about them, this title implies that most of the story would be about the Mars rovers.

While this story is fun and adorable, I wish it had been more focused. I still recommend it for Pre-K and Kindergarten, especially if they are doing space units, but would recommend maybe having a fun video or something to supplement if you are trying to learn about Mars rovers.

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Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a review eARC

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Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Don’t Check Out This Book by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise

Don’t Check Out This Book is the perfect title for reluctant readers in 2nd through 5th grade. This novel is full of hilarious puns in a wild format of letters, emails, newspapers, post it notes and pictures. I found myself laughing out loud and not able to put this one down until I had finished it.

My favorite character in the novel is the librarian, who doesn’t follow the rules and always manages to get everyone to read more books. She is the perfect example of “librarians are the rebels of schools”.

I gave this book a 5 out of 5 for its clever antics. Go ahead, pick it up, just don’t check it out. Recommended for grades 2-5, for the young rebels, the reluctant readers, the kids who are a little different, and for those who enjoy hilarious stories.

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Weekly Reviews

A Child Lost by Michelle Cox – Review

A Child Lost by Michelle Cox is the 5th in her Henrietta and Clive mystery novels, yet works perfectly as a stand alone story. This fun mystery novel will have you turning the pages to see what happens next. Clive and Henrietta are a fun loving couple in Chicago during the great depression, although well off so this story has more of a glamourous feel to it. The story of Rose and Billy which is interwoven throughout the plot gives this story a little more grit than just glamour. This novel touches on domestic/familiar abuse, miscarriages, mental health, seances, loss, and more.

Throughout the mysteries in this novel, a sad and scary psych hospital is brought to the attention of Henrietta and Clive. I found these parts of this novel hard to read because of my current situation with my own husband’s mental health battle, but this did shine a light onto early 20th century mental health care and how little was understood, which lead to mass mistreatment of many people who suffered from mental afflictions.

I absolutely enjoyed this mystery novel even when mysteries are rarely my favorite. I ended up giving this one a solid 4 stars and would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good mystery or historical fiction novel.

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bookstagram Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Closer to Nowhere by Ellen Hopkins – Review

Thank you to Penguin Classroom for providing me with an ARC to read and review.

Closer to Nowhere follows Ellen Hopkins writing patterns to a T in her debut middle grade novel. Like her YA novels and adult novels, this books is about the hard topics and is a novel written in verse. This story is told side by side by the two main characters: a boy who is grieving the loss of his mother, has PTSD, was homeless for a time, and his father is in prison for violence and drugs. He is living with his cousin and aunt, his cousin is perfect in each in every way: the popular girl, a perfectionist, but now she is dealing with the separation of her parents and trying to figure out how to deal with her not so perfect cousin living in her home.

Like most Ellen Hopkins’ books, I got completely sucked into this story and the characters. I love the way their stories are told side by side. This book has humor in it despite the hard topics it covers. This is considered middle grade which often includes upper elementary school, but I highly recommend that this book be used in middle schools or early high schools. The topics are important, but may be harder to explain to younger students. 

Out in October 2020 – Add to GoodReadsPreOrder Here
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Lone Star Book Blog Tour Posts Weekly Reviews

The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell – Review

THE CARETAKERS
by
ELIZA MAXWELL
Genre:  Psychological Thriller / Gothic Fiction / Sisters Fiction  Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of Publication: April 14, 2020
Number of Pages: 317 Scroll down for the giveaway!
In the isolated estate she’s found the perfect getaway. But there’s no escaping the past in this chilling novel from the bestselling author of The Unremembered Girl.
Filmmaker Tessa Shepherd helped free a man she believed was wrongly imprisoned for murder. When he kills again, Tessa’s life is upended. She’s reeling with guilt, her reputation destroyed. Worse, Tessa’s mother has unexpectedly passed away, and her sister, Margot, turns on her after tensions from their past escalate. Hounded by a bullying press, Tessa needs an escape. That’s when she learns of a strange inheritance bequeathed by her mother: a derelict and isolated estate known as Fallbrook. It seems like the perfect refuge. A crumbling monument to a gruesome history, the mansion has been abandoned by all but two elderly sisters retained as caretakers. They are also guardians of all its mysteries. As the house starts revealing its dark secrets, Tessa must face her fears and right the wrongs of her past to save herself and her relationship with Margot. But nothing and no one at Fallbrook are what they seem.  “Suspense fans will be satisfied.” —Publishers Weekly
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AMAZONINDIEBOUND
Eliza Maxwell has become an automatic-read-author for me. I jumped at the chance when I heard she was looking for reviewers for her newest novel, The Caretakers. This book did not disappoint my highest of expectations. Another 5 star rated psychological thriller from Maxwell had me on the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading it. The mystery surrounding the Fallbrook manor make this story mostly psychological thriller, part mystery, with a little historical fiction thrown in with the back story. Sometimes you don’t know if you are dealing with ghosts, crazy people, murderers, or something else entirely.
Maxwell always writes her main character to be so empathetic to the reader of the story. Tessa, the main character of The Caretakers ,and I have almost nothing in common, but I felt myself relating to her in the ways that she was thinking and feeling throughout the entirety of the story. Something that was unique to this story was the complicated relationship between Tessa and Margoe and the parallel relationship between the older sisters, Kitty and Dierdre. I found these complicated, but strong relationships easy to relate to because of my own relationship with my sister. We are very different people, but we are always there for each other.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a thriller novel that they cannot guess the ending to. I always have a hard time reviewing Eliza Maxwell’s novels because I don’t want to give anything away that might spoil the ending of the books or any of the twists and turns throughout. This is a great thriller as well if you like historical fiction but haven’t delved into the world of thrillers yet. While this isn’t historical at all, the recounting of the past storyline might appeal to those who are normally historical fiction readers.
Eliza Maxwell is the author of The Shadow Writer, The Widow’s Watcher, The Unremembered Girl, The Grave Tender, and The Kinfolk. She writes fiction from her home in Texas, which she shares with her ever-patient husband, two impatient kids, a ridiculous English setter, and a bird named Sarah. An artist and writer, a dedicated introvert, and a British-cop-drama addict, she enjoys nothing more than sitting on the front porch with a good cup of coffee. For more information, visit www.elizamaxwell.net.
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THREE WINNERS!  ONE WINNER: Signed Copy + $25 Amazon Gift Card TWO WINNERS: Signed Copy 
APRIL 14-25, 2020
(U.S. Only)
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