Children's Lit Weekly Reviews

Noodle Bear by Mark Graves: Picture Book Review

Title: Noodle Bear
Author: Mark Graves
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publishing Date: July 14, 2020
Ages: 3-7 Years Old
Sensitive Content: None
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Purchase on Amazon

Noodle Bear is a fun and entertaining book about a bear obsessed with Noodles. I enjoyed this cute story and I can see my students in early grades really enjoying this silly little bear. This is a great story to just escape into with your kids and read over and over again. I know as a child I loved pasta and would have found this little bear so silly, yet so relatable. I gave this 4 out of 5 stars and recommend to teachers and parents of 3-5 year olds.

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.


1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up Challenge

So I am taking on the challenge to read through the 1001 Children’s Books in this massive anthology of children’s books, then I will rate and review them here and if I don’t think they belong on this list I will tell why.

Here is the Link to the Book if you are interested in purchasing your own copy if you are like me and love books about books:

I am going to be dividing this list up into sections of 10 – with the last post being 11 – so that it is not too overwhelming. As of right now I have no time table. I am hoping to find most of these from libraries so I don’t have to purchase too many of them.

So what credentials do I have to validate this list – or not ? I have a bachelor’s degree in education which requires children’s literature college credits and I have my master’s in library science in which I took many children’s literature courses as well. I taught daycare (toddlers through age 3 for 2 years, 3rd grade English Language Arts for 3 years, 5th and 6th grade language arts for a year, and I am in my 3rd year of being a PreK-12th grade librarian. I also serve on the Lectio Book Award committee (this is my 3rd year serving on this committee). I dedicate most of my free time to reading Middle Grade and Young Adult novels. I love reading and educating others about reading.

I am hoping to come up, along the way, a list of my own 1001 books every child should read by coming up with alternate titles to books that I didn’t think should be included in this anthology. I will be creating a spreadsheet and tracking all the books for my own anthology which will be shared with you all – complete with buy links.

My first impressions with this anthology is that a lot of the titles are older and therefore outdated. Part of this is because the anthology was published in 2009 so we have had over a decade of publishing since then, part of it is because it truly focuses on older books. There are not many diverse reads as this is full of the “classics” – or deemed classic by white men, and probably written by white men- but that doesn’t mean that newer and diverse reads shouldn’t be among the 1001 Children’s Books to Read in a Lifetime. So I have a feeling that I will be suggesting newer books to replace many of the titles listed throughout this brick of an anthology.

Maybe someday my own anthology will be published with more diverse reads, more literature written by women, and more interesting covers because the authors of the 21st century have been more inclusive than ever before and the technology we have to print illustrations has come a long way since the ages of the “classics”.

If you are up for this ride with me, make sure you are subscribed to my posts so you can get notifications when I post new things. Look for the first ten books coming soon!

Lone Star Book Blog Tour Posts

When the Men Were Gone Blog Tour – Review


 Genre: Historical / Biographical / Sports Fiction

Publisher: William Morrow 

Date of Publication: October 2, 2018

Number of Pages: 240

Scroll down for giveaway!

A cross between Friday Night Lights and The Atomic City Girls, When The Men Were Gone is a debut historical novel based on the true story of Tylene Wilson, a woman in 1940s Texas who, in spite of extreme opposition, became a female football coach in order to keep her students from heading off to war.

Football is the heartbeat of Brownwood, Texas. Every Friday night for as long as assistant principal Tylene Wilson can remember, the entire town has gathered in the stands, cheering their boys on. Each September brings with it the hope of a good season and a sense of unity and optimism.

Now, the war has changed everything. Most of the Brownwood men over eighteen and under forty-five are off fighting, and in a small town the possibilities are limited. Could this mean a season without football? But no one counted on Tylene, who learned the game at her daddy’s knee. She knows more about it than most men, so she does the unthinkable, convincing the school to let her take on the job of coach.

Faced with extreme opposition by the press, the community, rival coaches, and referees — and even the players themselves — Tylene remains resolute. And when her boys rally around her, she leads the team — and the town — to a Friday night and a subsequent season they will never forget. 

Based on a true story, When the Men Were Gone is a powerful and vibrant novel of perseverance and personal courage.


“Sublimely ties together the drama of high school football, gender politics, and the impact of war on a small town in Texas.” – Best of Books, 2018, Sports Illustrated

“A beautiful story that stays in your heart long after you finish reading.” – Jodi Thomas, New York Times bestselling author

“Based on a true story that most people probably don’t know, readers will find plenty to love in Herrera Lewis’ debut.” — Kirkus Review


When the Men Were Gone is the perfect fall read for any Texas football fan. This book is jam packed with history, feminism, and football. As a young woman who grew up in Texas and was a fan of the Friday night lights at my own high school, this novel brought back so many good memories of the stands jammed pack with everyone from school, the black and gold uniforms from Plano East (where I graduated from) and the sounds of cheering, screaming, and dead silence at times.

The characters in this book are so well imagined that it almost seems as if I know them. Tylene is this strong woman who becomes the football coach in the 1940s. Something unheard of, especially in the conservative small towns in Texas. Even now, this is almost unheard of. But Tylene knows the game and is dedicated to the school where she is a vice principal. Based on a real life, you can feel Tylene’s up and down emotions throughout this book as she is threatened again and again by people she trusted and complete strangers.

We need more books based on the plots of women pioneers, and this is one of those books. The stories of real women doing what they “shouldn’t” or “can’t” are so necessary to inspire young women and girls in this day and age when girls are making more headway as professionals in nearly every field. This book was inspiring and so fun. A wonderful and quick read for anyone interested in history and sports.

I ended up giving this book 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to anyone who has stood in a Texas football stadium and felt the rush of love towards the team you support and anyone who loves Texas history.

Marjorie Herrera Lewis is an award-winning sportswriter, named the first female Dallas Cowboys beat writer when she was with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. She later joined the SportsDay staff of The Dallas Morning News, where she continued to cover the NFL and professional tennis. She is currently a contributing sportswriter for 

While writing When the Men Were Gone, she became inspired to try her hand at coaching football herself and was added to the Texas Wesleyan University football coaching staff in December 2016. Marjorie has degrees from Arizona State University, The University of Texas in Arlington, Southern New Hampshire University, and certificates from Southern Methodist University, and Cornell University. She is married and has two grown daughters and one son-in-law.







June 18-28, 2019


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6/18/19 Author Video Hall Ways Blog
6/18/19 Notable Quotable StoreyBook Reviews
6/19/19 Review That’s What She’s Reading
6/19/19 Review Sydney Young, Stories
6/20/19 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
6/21/19 Author Interview Chapter Break Book Blog
6/21/19 Excerpt Momma on the Rocks
6/22/19 Review All the Ups and Downs
6/23/19 Review Tangled in Text
6/23/19 Scrapbook Page Rainy Days with Amanda
6/24/19 Playlist & BONUS Review Reading by Moonlight
6/25/19 Review #Bookish
6/25/19 Guest Post Missus Gonzo
6/26/19 Review The Clueless Gent
6/27/19 Review Story Schmoozing Book Reviews

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Saving Money

Scholastic Book fair Finds

As posted in the about me, I am a school librarian and one of the busiest times of the year for me is book fair week. This is such a great week for so many reasons and for many of us who grew up in the 90s and 2000s, book fair is full of nostalgia if you loved reading as a kid, but for me, the person in charge it is also EXTREMELY stressful. 99% of my budget for the school year rests on the success of book fair so I spend weeks doing behind the scenes work and talking with our vendor, Scholastic. Setting up requires some muscle and man power, and running the fair takes volunteers, time, and my attention away from the library.

I always end up buying some things for myself, my husband, and our nieces. Even if you don’t have kids yet, you can visit many scholastic book fairs at public libraries throughout the summer and they often have books for adults and teens which may appeal to you more than the picture books and middle grade fiction.

Perhaps the best thing about book fair is finding extremely affordable, brand new books. Often times Scholastic prints books in paperback before the book is released from other publishers in paperback. They also keep their costs low and are able to mass produce so when I compare prices on Amazon, often times Scholastic is even cheaper.

Here is what I found at our fair that I bought for my family:

For fans of Marvel: I picked up Miles Morales and The Black Panther
For Fans of Kasie West: I have managed over the last couple years to get several of her books
For Fans of Victoria Schwab: City of Ghosts in paperback
I grabbed a copy of Mortal engines and Impostors by Scott Westerfeld
If you are a fan of A Dog’s Purpose, the novel is here along with the middle grade side stories

If you are a librarian or school coordinator interested in setting up a Scholastic book fair feel free to contact me at I am NOT associated with scholastic nor do I benefit in anyway to answering your questions, but I love working with Scholastic and I am happy to help other schools and libraries benefit from their reward programs through book fair.

TTT – Things that Make Me Pick up a Book

Top Ten Tuesdays are headed up by That Artsy Reader Girl

  1. Covers! I am a total cover buy person. If a book has an intriguing cover I am 1000 times more likely to pick it up even if it isn’t as good as a similar book with better reviews
  2. Blog Reviews – I read just as much about books as I do actual reading of books. If I read a really intriguing review, I will add that book to my TBR and eventually read it.
  3. Recommendation – If a friend, whose reading opinion I trust, recommends a book to me, I will likely pick that book up, if only for the point of having something new to talk about with the friend or family member.
  4. Reading Lists – I am a sucker for checking things off a list. I love reading lists. If you put one out, I will download it and print it, and try to check as many books off of it that I can. I have books full of reading lists and a binder full of printed lists. I love them!
  5. Book Subscription Boxes – It is no secret that I love my Owlcrate and Book of the Month reads. These books are curated by teams who have read more new releases than I have and have picked their top recommendations. I love this! Click here for a free book from Book of the Month and here to try Owlcrate.
  6. Bookstagram – Authors, bookstagram tours work. If I see a billion beautiful pictures of the same book I may just order it or put it on hold at the library just so I can read it. Even if I have no clue what it is about! #BookstagramMadeMeDoIt
  7. Starred Reviews – As a librarian, I know how to look for highly reviewed books on places like Kirkus. I am more likely to pick up novels that have starred reviews from websites like this.
  8. Author’s Name – Chances are, if I have read and enjoyed a book by an author, I will pick up more books by said author.
  9. Topic – I love certain topics in historical fiction including WWII and Tudor England . I usually will at least read the description of the book if I know that the topic falls under these categories.
  10. Price – Often times I will skip over books because they are too expensive or because I have set a spending limit and I cannot get it. Though this is the last on my list it is my more restricting element. My library often does not have a lot of the independent books that I would love to order.
Children's Lit Middle Grade Reads Weekly Reviews

Spindrift and the Orchid

In a world full of magic, there is only a handful of items that can grant the owner full and complete power: the Orchids. Spindrift is a girl who lives with her grandfather above his shop full of curious magical items. She knows her parents died when she was a baby in a shipwreck and somehow that she was sent away from the ship in a small boat with a glass ball. She doesn’t know much else about her parents until her grandfather pulls out a box full of letters that were written by Spindrift’s mother. Together they read the letters one by one in the evenings. As she finds out the secrets that led Sprindrift’s mother to her death, Spindrift has a decision to make: does she let the Orchid’s control her or does she let them go, once and for all?

Orchid Divider

There were many elements to this book that I absolutely loved. This world has a sense of magic that is unlike most and the ideas behind the orchids was absolutely beautiful. I liked Spindrift as a character, but most of the other characters fell flat for me. They just didn’t have much of a personality. The twins, Spindrift’s friends, could have been interchangeable because they both had the same personality which was that they didn’t have a personality. Spindrift’s grandfather as the secondary character in this novel should have had more of a presence but even he had some major flaws and conflicting story lines.

Orchid Divider

There were many moments in this book where the writing was clumsy or a little awkward. When I finished I thought for sure that this was a debut novel because the writing style just didn’t seem developed enough to be from an author who has had more than a dozen books published.

Orchid Divider

I gave this book 3 out 5 stars. I would recommend this to middle grade readers who like a fantasy adventure book with a female protagonist.

Title: Spindrift and the Orchid

Author: Emma Trevayne

Publishing Date: May 8, 2018

Amazon Purchase: Click Here

Saving Money

How To Save Money Buying Books

Sure, you know that Amazon generally beats Barnes & Noble when it comes to giant retailers but how do people on a ramen budget get a kobe beef library? Let me share some of the tricks of the trade with you so you can build your dream library for just a fraction of the cost.


  1. Read All the Books on Your Unread Shelf Before You Buy Anymore Books 
    No really. This is a lesson I am learning HARD right now at 27 years old. I have over 500 books on my TBR shelf. This past December, I purged hard and got rid of about 100 books I had had for over 3 years sitting in my TBR. There is just no need to buy all the books you *think* you might want to read maybe someday. Right now I am only purchasing books I have already read, and don’t own, or that I know I will read this year. I also get Owlcrate and Book of the Month, but I know that these are special editions and I will read them and more than likely love them and keep them. (I get rid of books that I rate 3 stars or less)
  2. Use Your Library
    Okay. So hypothetically you aren’t buying every book you see that you want to read. Use your library to borrow ebooks, audiobooks, and physical books. HELLO YOUR LIBRARY IS FREE!!! Keep a log of some sort like on Goodreads or Bookly to track what you borrow and what you love so that when you are looking for books to buy, you only buy what you have read and loved. This will also keep your bookshelf full of books that you love and want to reread, take bookstagram photos with, or lend to your friends and family (basically, whatever you do with your books you own)
  3. Get Free copies of Books
    DUH BUT HOW?! Enter giveaways, connect with authors and publishers, and utilize services like Netgalley. I have gotten a lot of great books from Goodreads giveaways, instagram giveaways, and through Netgalley. I also get Amazon first reads which is a free ebook once a month and I signed up for Bookbub to get a newsletter which often includes free ebook download links in it daily.
  4. Library Book Sales 
    Check your library for their calendar and find out when they do library book sales. My local library has two big ones a year. Often times I go to their sales on opening day to ensure I get all the books I want and then right before they close because they do a “Fill up a bag for $5” sale on the last day to clean out inventory. Often times these are not just weeded library copies, but includes donated books as well. Sometimes these books are in basically new condition but you can get them for well below the list price.
  5. Thrift Shops and Garage Sales 
    If you have any good thrift shops around make sure you frequent them often for cheap books. In the spring and summer, garage sales and yard sales are hot as people are cleaning out their homes. Sometimes I can get a whole box of books for a couple bucks.
  6. BookOutlet
    Okay I adore BookOutlet. I usually keep a running cart on the website  of books I have read from the library and don’t own, special editions of books I love, and books in series that I am missing. Then when they have a huge sale, I check out. Plus they give you points for your purchases and you can trade points in for giftcards.


Tips from Followers:

“I always go to thrift stores. I have a Savers in my area that every Monday has 50% off.” – Kelsiembookasdi

“Use eBay (found some rare books for CHEAP) and BST [Buy/Sell/Trade on Facebook] Groups” – AgesofAquarius

“For Canadians, Indigo does 30% off all hardcovers on Boxing day every year!” – VallReads

“Only buy the books you really love … or know you’ll love” – To.Read.Is.To.Breathe 

Children's Lit

Favorite Books from My Childhood

All bookworms link the magical feeling of reading to something that sparked their interest in reading at a young age. There are those  magical books that you wish you could read again for the first time and those that make you feel all the warm-fuzzy-nostalgic feels. You see the covers of those books and it takes you back in place to a time and place where you are sitting in your dad’s recliner and smelling your mom’s cooking. You pick it up and you remember exactly where you were when you read it and how it made you feel. 

These are the books from my childhood that bring back that warmth and make me want to be a kid again just so I can reread these for the first time. 

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The Chronicles of Narnia series is one of the first series of books I remember my mom reading to me. Looking at the books reminds me of how my sister and I used to clamber up into her bed and huddle around her while she read. I still remember the soft glow of the lamp beside her bed and the way my parents’ room smelled in our childhood home. I remember the floral comforter my parents had and the pink pajamas I wore. This series really ignited my love for all fantasy books. I always hoped that one day I would open my closet door and discover it had changed into a snowy landscape or an ocean full of adventure.

Little House Series

Back in the day, Scholastic Book Club was the OG subscription box service for kids. We used to sign up for a club at the beginning of each school year and each month we would get a package with a book and some other goodies. In 5th grade my mom signed me up for the Little House Club and I managed to get all of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and then some. I think each month I got one from the Little House series, a related activity book, and a non series book like her journals and some of the prequels and sequels about her mom, grandmother, and daughter (written by other authors). I still have my original set of books in this series and I remember that red and white box being delivered to my teacher each month and tearing into the goodies that came with it when I got home.


In 4th grade I was obsessed with the Dear America books. I remember loving the diary format. I started keeping my own diary then thinking that one day my thoughts might be important enough to turn into a book (HAHA). The first one I read was The Winter of Red Snow about The Revolutionary War. I still remember exactly where these were in my elementary school library and I still remember reading my favorites and putting them carefully into my backpack as the school day wound down. Someone recently told me that in Canada there was a Dear Canada series that was like the same thing. It blew my mind.

The Boxcar Children

The Boxcar Children was one of those older books that delighted me because the idea of living a life without adults seemed fantastic in some ways. I loved the first and second book enough to reread them several times in my life. The last year I taught 3rd grade, we read this as a class book. I know I read a lot more than the first 2 in this series but I don’t think the mysteries appealed to me as much as the adventure in the first 2 books.

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I saved my favorite for last. I feel like I grew up with Harry Potter in some ways. I read the first book when I first got ahold of it at the end of second grade. It had already gotten a lot of buzz in the book world because it had been published a year before in the UK. By the time my mom had put a hold on it at out library we were 135th in line to get it. When I finally got it in my hands I was so excited. I had heard so much about the magical world contained in the pages. At this time, I wasn’t reading chapter books to myself. My mom would read with me. She looked at the size of the book and told me there was NO WAY she was going to read it out loud to me. I was devastated. But then I was determined. I read Harry Potter to myself. And then with each additional publishing I read those too. I read the first book when I was 7 and the last one came out right after my 16th birthday. I had truly grown up with Harry by my side. 

What childhood books were your favorites? I cannot wait to hear your memories associated with them.



NOTE: All links are affiliate links and I get a small percentage of all sales associated with the clicking and purchasing of the links embedded in this post. 

TTT Uncategorized

Top Ten Tuesday – Places Mentioned in Books That I would like to Travel To

I love to travel. I love everything about it. I like to read in the car, I like looking out the plane on airplanes. I love to get away from home and explore a new place and the restaurants and the people.


In two weeks I will be in the city of Portland and I am PUMPED. I haven’t been on a vacation in two years!! This is also our first trip as a married couple. We are staying in a tree house with a Jacuzzi.


So Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader today is Places Mentioned in Books that I want to travel to.

So in no particular order …



  1. The Hotel in Nevermoor


2.  The world in Warcross and Wildcard

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3. Hogwarts from Harry Potter

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4. Through the Wardrobe and into Narnia

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5.The world of Fae in The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King

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6. Prythian from the ACOTAR series

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7. Camp Half-Blood in the Percy Jackson Series

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8. The world of The RavenBoys


9. The world of Furthermore


10. The World of Caraval and Legendary


Alright. I am going to go travel through some more literary worlds. Good Night Friends!