Children's Lit Weekly Reviews

#Bookaday – June 3 – Twenty-One Steps

Twenty- One Steps Book Review:

Finding picture books that are non-fiction and as beautiful as fiction books is sort of one of my joyful librarian wins. Twenty-One Steps promised to be thoughtful, beautiful, informational, and emotional – and it fulfilled those things.

The history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier isn’t known by children, unless they perhaps have a military family member or have visited it. This little-known history is both sad and beautiful. The story behind it haunting, yet necessary to our country’s history. This book was so well written and captured these feelings perfectly. The illustrations were gorgeous and I took my time flipping through this book to really soak up these thoughts.

I gave this book 5/5 stars for its uniqueness and for the beautiful writing accompanied by equally beautiful illustrations. The powerful message, fantastic vocabulary, and stunning verse will keep kids engaged with this text more than once. A perfect read aloud for teachers, librarians and parents. Recommended by me for grades 3 to 7.

Children's Lit

#BookaDay June 2 – Code Breaker, Spy Hunter

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Picture book biographies are always on my radar because I think they make good read-alouds for all grade levels and they are such a great way for me to learn nuggets of information about people I have never heard of. I have read other picture book biographies by Laurie Wallmark and really enjoyed them so I was really glad to get this one and be able to read it.

Elizabeth Friedman was a code cracker during WWI and WWII when women really weren’t present in the organizations that used code breakers. I didn’t know her story until I read this lovely picture book. The art is so much fun with codes woven into the illustrations throughout the story. This story was just another reminder that women can do anything, even when its something that is suppose to be for boys.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for grades 3 to 7. This is a perfect read aloud for Classroom Book a Day for educators and a great bedtime story for parents. This will grab the attention of kids who love history.

Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

#BookaDay June 1 – Unsettled by Reem Faruqi

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This beautiful immigration story told in prose is one for every middle grade bookshelf, whether at home, in the library or in the classroom. Nurah, the main character, is just trying to blend in and find her place in her new school in Georgia after moving from Pakistan.

The characters weave this story together in ways that everyone reading it can relate to someone along the way, whether or not they have experienced moving across the world. I related to Nurah so much, because I had moved across the US at her age and felt so different in my new school in Texas. I loved reading Nurah’s story as she found her voice, and found a place to fit in , in her new world.

I highly recommend this to readers who love novels in verse, quick, beautiful reads, and realistic fiction. Recommended for grades 4-6 specifically. Nothing stood out to me as content to be aware of, but this is a good book to read about tackling bullying as well.

bookstagram Weekly Reviews

#BookaDay Day 2 – May 31 – When You Ask Me Where I’m Going


When I picked this up on May 31, I was already most of the way through this collection as I had started it in February and had slowly been making my way through it.

Jasmin Kaur has a beautiful way with words and art to make this amazing collection of poems and prose. There were a lot of poems I bookmarked because they had such a deep meaning to me and I understood them so well because of things I had personally experienced.

Throughout this book Jasmin explores what it means to be a young woman in today’s society and what it means to be a minority woman in today’s society. Her points of view are powerful and meaningful. I think there is something in this collection that will speak to every young woman who reads this.

I gave this book 5/5 stars because I know I will pick this up again and find something new to love about it. This is definitely a collection for adults, anyone who has enjoyed collections such as The Princess Will Save Herself in This One, and The Sun and Her Flowers.

You can order this collection from Amazon in Paperback for $9.99 or from for $10.11 (10% goes back to support Indie bookstores). Both links give me a little kickback which I use to add books to our school library!

This is the bookmark that I designed based on this book. Preorders are open on my website.

I am Ava, Seeker in the Snow – Review – LSBBT

A Dog’s Day Series, Books 1 and 2
Illustrated by Francesca Rosa
Animals / Adventure / Farm Life / Ranch Life / Chapter Books 
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 96
Scroll down for the giveaway!
Spend a day in the life of a livestock guardian dog! Jax the Great Pyrenees has a big job. After the Texas sun goes down, it’s up to him and two other LGDs to protect their ranch from predators. But when the lead dog gets hurt, Jax and a young pup are the only ones left to protect the flock through the night. Told from the dog’s perspective, this story also includes back matter about the breed and role of the working dog.
Spend a day in the life of an avalanche rescue dog! Ava is a chocolate Labrador retriever with a big job. She and her handler have trained for years to be ready to help people at their ski resort if an unexpected avalanche hits. But Ava quickly finds out there’s much more to being an avy dog than daring rescues. Told from the dog’s perspective, this riveting story also includes back matter about the breed and the role of the working dog.

I Am Ava is a short and sweet beginner Chapter Book that is both entertaining and informative. I spent 2 years of college working with the Aggie Service Dogs program that raises puppies, like Ava, to go and be service animals. Almost all of our service dogs went on to be companions to those with special needs. I knew there were other “jobs” for dogs, including search and rescue, but I didn’t know – and in Texas, never really thought about – that there are dogs specifically trained to help find people in the snow. Learning about Avalanche Search and Rescue dogs through the eyes of Ava was so fun!
Since this small chapter book is less than 100 pages, this will appeal to kids who both love reading, and those that are a little more hesitant. I love that this book is fiction through the eyes of a dog, because this will appeal to all the fiction loving kids, but at the same time this book is heavy on the information as well, which will appeal to the non-fiction loving kids. There is just a little something for everyone.
I gave this book a 4 out of 5 stars because I was intrigued enough to finish it in just one sitting! Something that doesn’t happen very often, even with the shortest of books. I would recommend this to my 2nd and 3rd graders who love animals, especially dog lovers, and anyone who loves to know more about dog workers and helpers!

Catherine Stier, a former Midwesterner, now lives deep in the heart of Southwest Texas, on the edge of the beautiful Hill Country. Her children’s books have received honors and awards from the Society of School Librarians International, the International Reading Association, and the Bank Street College of Education. Stier has served as a frequent contributor to Woman’s Day Magazine and as a newspaper columnist. Her work has also appeared in Highlights for Children, My Friend, Child Life, and several newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times and the San Antonio Express-News. Stier’s lively and interactive Author’s Visit programs have entertained, educated, and inspired thousands of children. Visit Catherine Stier’s website at for more information, activities, and free curriculum guides.
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ONE WINNER: Hardcover copy of I Am Jax, Protector of the Ranch (Book 1), hardcover copy of I Am Ava, Seeker in the Snow (Book 2), $15 gift card to The Twig Book Shop, stuffed animal – adorable “Ava” Lab dog toy, dog stickers, dog socks.  
September 17-27, 2020 
or visit the blogs directly:
Review Jax
Character Interview
Review Ava + BONUS Jax Review
Jax Scrapbook
Ava Scrapbook
Review Jax
Review Ava
Sneak Peek Jax
Review Jax
Review Ava
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Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Curse of the Night Witch (Emblem Island #1) by Alex Aster

Title:Curse of the Night Witch
Author: Alex Aster
Publisher: Sourcebooks Young Readers
Publishing Date: June 9, 2020
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In the spirit of Percy Jackson, this epic fantasy adventure novel had me turning the pages as fast as I could! Emblem Island is a place of magic, but none like we have read about before. And when a young boy wishes for a future different that what he has been given, he ends up cursed along with his best friend, and a girl from his class. They must break the curse by finding the Night Witch.

What I found the most lovable about this trio is that they reminded me so much of Harry, Ron and Hermione from the Harry Potter franchise. Tor, born with the leadership emblem, is our fearless hero, his best friend, Engle, is the lovable side kick, and Melda, is witty, brave, and sometimes annoying, but overall a wonderful friend to have by Tor’s side. This type of trio is often found in epic fantasies and is one of my favorite parts of the structure of these types of middle grade literature.

The most frustrating part was the ending… WHAT A CLIFF HANGER! I cannot wait to see what happens in book 2! I highly recommend this to fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, For readers ages 9- 14, and for anyone who needs a little magic and a little adventure in their lives.

Children's Lit Weekly Reviews

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

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.

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

YA Reviews

The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter Review

Oh hey I’m baaaackkkk! I have been in a reading/writing slump this summer and that makes me SO SAD. I did finish The Evil Queen in June ) and it was fantastic. (ARC provided by InkyardPress at the TLA 2019 conference

Title: The Evil Queen
Author: Gena Showalter
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Publishing Date: June 25, 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Buy It: Amazon
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The Evil Queen is a Snow White retelling from, you guessed it, The Evil Queen’s point of view. This book is set in modern day America at the beginning of the novel, but the two main characters soon learn that they are from an alternate universe where magic is real . They also learn of a prophecy involving them and several others their age which makes them the characters of the fairytale, Snow White.

Everly discovers on accident that she can communicate through mirrors, a very powerful magic that allows her to see what is happening in other places, and communicate with a different version of herself, Foreverly. When she is told that she actually has to take power from others to gain her own she realizes that this could be used for good or evil. Is she destined to become The Evil Queen from the fairytale, or can she make her own destiny?


I LOVED this book. The beginning was a little slow, but I couldn’t set this down after I reached the midway point. I ended up staying up until 2 am to finish. Everly was a complicated character which I loved. She seemed to swing between Evil and Good as most people do, but had trouble accepting that she could be both and didn’t have to be one or the other.

I absolutely LOVED the world building in this novel. While most first in series spend so much time on setting up the characters for the series OR setting up the world for the characters Showalter did a good job doing both. We got to know the main cast really well and each character had a unique personality. While some characters had similar names that could be confusing, the characteristics of each one stood out.

The world was well built as magical and beautiful. I loved this setting with the castles and of course the magic forest. The setting played such an important role in the plot and it was nice that it was set up so well and easy to imagine as I read.

This is a YA fantasy but does have some references to sex and some light curse words. I recommend for 16+, for any fans of fairytale retellings, and for those in the mood for a somewhat dark fantasy tale.

The Evil Queen Bookstagram Props

I thought I might start adding some fun things to my reviews, like free downloads that go with them, some lists of fun things that go with book, If you liked this, read this lists etc. So today I found some perfect props for your bookstagram photos to go with this book and I have a free desktop wall paper at the end of this post for you to download with my favorite quote from the novel. Enjoy and thanks for reading!

This vintage hand mirror which you could use for multiple photos. I love the look of this one!

These golden apples!

This Evil Queen crown which looks like it came straight from the forest.

Here is a full look at my amazon affiliates page to show you everything I recommend and like on Amazon. Feel free to take a look around. Amazon affiliates get paid on purchases from their links. You don’t pay any extra, affiliates just get a small cut of Amazon’s profit.

If you made it this far CONGRATS. Here is a link to the download for this desktop quote wallpaper.

Download Here

YA Reviews

Book Review : Scythe by Neal Schusterman

Title: Scythe
Author: Neal Schusterman
Publisher: Simon Schuster for Young Readers
Publishing Date: November 22, 2016
Series: Arc of a Scythe #1
Genre: YA Dystopian
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Purchase: Amazon


In a perfect world, people have overcome hunger, disease, accidents and therefore death. Just turn back the clock whenever you want and *poof* you are back in your 20s. There is only one problem, if no one ever dies, then the world will be over populated. Therefore the Scythdom is born completely separate from society. The Scythes are the ones who are chosen to be the killers in this seemingly Utopia version of the world. They are charged with the task of deciding who lives and who dies. In this novel we follow two young Scythe apprentices who have been taken under the wing of a very moral scythe. But when he disappears the 2 apprentices are separated for the remained of the apprenticeship to two very different Scythe mentors. One will become a scythe, and one will be killed by the other.

I LOVED this book. There are so many interesting concepts to discuss around this novel which made me wistful for the days I was an English teacher. I recommended this to our high school English teacher as a companion study to The Hunger Games which she reads with our 9th graders. This novel is an amazing answer to the question: What if we could all live forever? What would happen?

The characters in this novel are all so different and unique and all though Scythe Goddard is the ultimate villain in this story, we can all see in him the terror we feel from those people on the news that cause mass murders. He is someone to fear in total awe. The two apprentices are different yet understand what the meaning of a scythe has to mean sometimes. I really related to Citra throughout the novel who lives mostly in fear of becoming a Scythe, but feels the duty of what she has been chosen to do. I cannot imagine being tasked with an awful and powerful, yet necessary (in this fictional world) job.

I would recommend this to fans of The Hunger Games and other dystopian novels as well as to fans of clean YA books. Would advise against to those sensitive to violence. There is nothing grisly visual in here like in a Stephen King novel, but there are several described mass shootings which I know can be a trigger to those who have experienced one.