Picture Book Mini-Reviews #3

karate-kidsKarate Kids // by Holly Sterling
Release Date: May 5, 2020

This would be a perfect gift for any kid who is interested in taking karate! You can join the main character, Maya, and the rest of the karate kids as they go to their lesson. Illustrations are adorable! And I love the little author blurb at the end with a photo of Holly Sterling all decked out in her karate gear. [4 stars]

mars-first-friendsMars’ First Friends // by Susanna Leonard Hill
Release Date: June 1, 2020

What a fun story about the planets! I like how Pluto was brought in as the planetary-family pet. This story is all about Mars who wants a pet/friend of his own. He tries to play with his brothers and sisters, but they are all too busy.

The solution comes in a gift from his sister, Earth. You can probably guess it (I know I did), but it’s a nice way to introduce the space program and what’s currently happening. I also really liked all the information at the back of the book. [4 stars]

how-selfishHow Selfish! // by Clare Helen Wels and Olivier Tallec
Release Date: April 21, 2020

Cute story about a kid who doesn’t want to share anything. The fact that it features a human kid and a duck makes the story seem less didactic, which is good. I liked the little switch at the end (with the duck and the sword). And also the solution. Great story to help teach kids about sharing. [4 stars]

**Note: I received a free copy of these titles from the people at NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.**

Picture Book Mini-Reviews #2

earth-hourEarth Hour // by Nanette Heffernan
Illustrated by Bao Luu
Release Date: January 21, 2020

I loved all the different cultures from around the world that are featured in this book.  Scenes of famous landmarks (like the Sydney Opera House, the Pyramids, the Great Wall, and Christ the Redeemer Statue to name a few) are mixed in with quiet home scenes. There’s even a scene from Antarctica!

I really enjoyed the illustrations by Bao Luu. All the dark, nighttime blues⁠—just gorgeous!⁠—as we revisit the same landmarks. The text is simple and beautiful. This book introduces this as a celebration of sorts (albeit a quiet one!). It’s also a reminder that there are ways for our families to conserve energy. And sometimes that means shutting off the devices in our lives to spend some time just talking and enjoying each other’s company.  [4 stars]


Marie’s Big Adieu // by Tamara Rittershaus
Illustrated by Giulia Iacopini
Release Date: February 1, 2020

Moving to a new place is so hard. I love how this book explores keeping the old friendships, but that making new ones is okay. I want such a wise friend like Lorelei!

My favourite line is when the dad helps Marie with trying to cope: “I’m sure there’s something we will love.” This is something my own mom did whenever we would move to a new place… try to find something about the house that was new and different and exciting. (One of our houses had its very own clothes-chute! Oh, the fun we had with that.) [4 stars]

going-upGoing Up! // by Sherry J. Lee
Illustrated by Charlene Chua
Release Date: April 7, 2020

This is a fun story about a girl and her dad who have been invited to a birthday party on the top floor of their apartment building. As they ride the elevator, more and more friends get on. There’s a little twist at the end (which I figured out, but kids probably won’t see it coming).

The only thing about this book for me was the fact that there seemed to be too many people on that elevator! Maybe it’s because I have a slight fear of elevators… Anyhow, I did like the neighbourliness of the people in the apartment. [3.5 stars]

**Note: I received a free copy of these titles from the people at NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.**

Picture Book Mini-Reviews #1

Today I’m posting a list of mini-reviews for picture books I’ve read recently. These all happen to be ARCs from Netgalley.

Help Wanted, Must Love Books // by Janet Sumner Johnson
Release Date: March 2, 2020

I loved this story! I loved the blend of realism with the world of fairy tales. The fact that this is a story about bedtime stories is pure bonus. Love how the story ends. A good reminder for all of us busy grownups! [5 stars]


A Stopwatch from Grampa // by Loretta Garbutt
Release Date: April 7, 2020

This is a beautiful story about a kid and the memories of a beloved grandfather. I love how it all revolves around the stopwatch. And while it seems obvious that the grandfather has died, the book doesn’t make a big deal about it. So, it could be read of the level of having a dear one who is no longer around, whether it be in a far-away country or at a nursing home. I loved all the onomatopoeia sounds incorporated into this book. [5 stars]


A Little Courage // by Taltal Levi
Release Date: February 4, 2020

This picture book has a Borrowers-vibe to it. I like when the dark shadow is introduced (and how it progressively gets a little more obvious as to what it is!) Has a cute ending with the new shadow introduced on the final page. [4 stars]


A Grizzly Itch // by Victoria Cassanell
Release Date: May 5, 2020

The illustrations for this picture book are delightful! Love the friendship between Bear and Beaver. Although, Beaver, WHY did you cut down that one perfect tree for scratching! [4 stars]

**Note: I received a free copy of these titles from the people at NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.**

ARC Review: The Sound of Silence

sound-of-silenceThe Sound of Silence // by Myron Uhlberg
Release Date: May 1, 2019
Genre: MG, Memoir

**Note: I received a free copy of this title from the people at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

My Thoughts: What an interesting read! I found this book fascinating. The subtitle is: Growing Up Hearing with Deaf Parents. And that’s pretty much the book in a nutshell. The story takes place in Brooklyn in the 1930s and 40s.

This is not your typical middle-grade read, however. The book is not plot-driven and is episodic in nature. Basically, it’s a slice of life. One of my favourite scenes was when he teaches his classmates how to sign.

I personally really enjoyed this book; not sure how kids will take it, though. I would probably recommend it for older kids who are interested in memoir, and also the subject of deafness and what it means to be deaf.

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5)

ARC Review: Earthrise

earthriseEarthrise // by James Gladstone
Release Date: October 15, 2018
Genre: Picture Book, Non-Fiction (Space)

**Note: I received a free copy of this title from the people at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Basic Plot: This is the story behind the photograph of the earth taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts back in 1968; and how such a photo led to a different view of our world.


1) I love that the illustrations evoke the 1960s. They are wonderfully done!

2) I love photography, so I found this story particularly interesting. It’s a little behind-the-scenes “snapshot” at how one of the most famous photographs of all time came to be.

3) The story juxtaposes a tumultuous time (1968) with a photograph that is anything but tumultuous. It’s simple and beautiful and serene.


1) I feel like this could be made for older children with a little more text. Maybe explaining a few things. History-wise. This was the year that Martin Luther King was shot. And Robert Kennedy. And a war in Vietnam. They didn’t have to go into extreme detail, but maybe at least mention MLK.


My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – A wonderfully illustrated book about this moment in history. I’d recommend for 1st through 3rd grade. Maybe Kindergarten?

ARC Review: Anne Arrives

anne-arrivesAnne Arrives // by Kallie George
Release Date: September 25, 2018
Genre: MG Picture Book
My Rating: 4 Stars

**Note: I received a free copy of this title from the people at NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Basic Plot: Mrs. Lynde is surprised when she sees her neighbour, Matthew Cuthbert, going to town. She discovers from Marilla that the Cuthberts are adopting a boy. Except, when Matthew gets to the train station, there’s only a girl. He brings her home, because what else can he do?


1) The illustrations by Abigail Halpin are absolutely delightful. I adore them! I like how she captured Anne herself. She looks like Anne! I particularly like some of the illustrations that have just Anne in them. Like when she’s looking (sadly) out the window at the cherry blossom tree (the Snow Queen). Such a beautiful two-page spread!

2) This would make a wonderful introduction to Anne of Green Gables, especially for children who are ready for Chapter Books. This book is rather like a Chapter Book, in fact.

3) Oh, I teared up at the scene where Matthew comes to speak to Anne in the bedroom. (When she’s in big trouble with Marilla.)


1) The title is a little weird. Why not Anne Comes to Green Gables, or something like that?

2) I know I raved about the illustrations. But it can be a hard thing to capture characters we love in drawings. Matthew and Marilla were a little off for me. Matthew’s long grey hair and brown beard were a little weird. And Marilla… Ah well, just personal opinion here. No major criticism.


My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I don’t often review picture books, but when I saw this one was about Anne of Green Gables, I was inspired to request it. It’d be a wonderful introduction to the world of Anne! I’d recommend it for Grade 2-3. And really, for any fan of Anne of ANY age.

ARC Review: Skyward

skywardSkyward // by Sally Deng
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Genre: MG Picture Book, Non-Fiction (WWII)
Basic Plot: This is the story of three Allied pilots during World War II… who all happen to be women. Hazel is from the U.S., Marlene is from England, Lilya is from the Soviet Union.


1) I loved the illustrations! Nicely done.

2) This is a history book that tells you the little things about history. (Like the fact that the women were given uniforms that were too big for them. Makes sense since the uniforms would have been originally made for men.) They had to use their sewing skills to make the uniforms wearable!

3) None of these women are famous. And while I like reading about famous people who did great things, I also love reading about the regular people who did their part to win the war. (According to the author’s note, Hazel from the U.S. seems to have been a real person. Not sure about the other two. But I’m sure she did her research to get their experiences.)

4) I did like that we get three different experiences with these three different women, each from a different part of the world.


1) At times I was a little confused about which woman was from where. Especially at the beginning of the story. It starts with Hazel and then moves on to Marlene and for some reason, I thought they were the same girl. I wish there had been tags or something to remind us that Hazel was from the U.S., Marlene was from England, etc.

2) Hazel is of Chinese heritage, however, this wasn’t very clear in the book. It’s only hinted at when she and her friend (who happens to be black) are thinking of  joining the WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots). One of them says: “A Chinese American and an African American want to join? They will think us crazy and laugh in our faces.” I’m pretty sure the term African American would not have been used in 1942-3. Little things like that do bother me, especially since it’s in dialogue of people from the era. If it had been the narrator, I’d be okay with it.


My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I enjoyed this look into the history of women pilots in World War II. I’m pretty much a sucker for anything to do with WWII, so this was right up my alley. It’s a picture book, but it’s definitely meant for older kids (as there’s a lot of text).