Saturday, April 27, 2013

"DJ's Lullaby" by Lucy Rivas Enriquez and Illustrated by M.A. Moisa

This book is so nice it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  It speaks of a woman who is waiting for her baby.  She has all the characteristics of a great mom.  It's even humorous when an illustration has the mother in a box that is labeled "mom parts."  The mother has arms for hugging, lips for kissing, legs for running / playing, etc.  There is a cute part where the author explains where babies come from.  It is essentially explained that children are angels from heaven.  That was nice and should make children feel special.  To be honest, I didn't realize this book was about an adopted child until I read the last page.  And I think that's the best part of this book.  If someone is reading this book with their adopted child, the child will feel all the love from the book and realize that an adopted child is just like a birth child when it comes to love.  I also liked how the illustrations were a mix of artistic mediums.  Sometimes it looked like there was marker, other times watercolor paint.  Overall, this is a great book that will touch the hearts of readers with a story of love and belonging.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Kathryn the Grape's Piece of Love" by Kathryn Cloward (illustrated by Christine Winscott)

This children's book features a young girl Kathryn the Grape who has a school assignment to write a short answer about how she helps the world.  Kathryn gets extremely nervous and is worried she won't have anything to write by the time the teacher asks everyone to share.  Then her magical butterfly friend Maggie helps her not to worry.  Negative thought are compared to dams built by beavers.  Kathryn meditates and then uses her magical devices to push her worry away.  She eventually comes up with something to share with the class on how she helps the world.  What other students write is also included in the book.  The illustrations are nice, and the book holds your attention.  There is a nice theme of love and kindness and even equality (there is great gender and ethnic diversity in the book).  However, another theme--which I'm sure you've already picked up on--is magic.  Some do not want their children reading anything that refers to magic or new-age concepts.  Others think it's no big deal.  Decide for yourself.     

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

"Better Days" by Rachel Hamilton

This small book of poetry will give readers a nice break in their busy lives.  There are poems about love, life, struggles, and so much more.  There is even a humorous poem about fixing copier jams thrown in.  What I liked best about this book is how honest it is.  When reading this, I could tell Hamilton was not trying to please anyone--readers, publishers, publicists, you name it.  Rather, she was just telling the story of her life how she does best--through lyrical expression.  From the beginning of the book, you will  be drawn in.  On page 6, we read, "When was the last time you listened and really heard?  When was the last time you looked through your eyes and really say?"  In terms of audience, I will say this book is not for very young readers but for young adults and up.  While there is nothing graphic in the book, there are references to romanticism and one instance of the word "shit."  In terms of religious undertones, this book used the words "God" and "Lord" and "Universe" every now and then, but it wasn't a main theme in the book.  As a professional book reviewer, I tend to read books fast.  I read Hamilton's book in one sitting, but I could imagine myself reading it on a lawn chair on a porch on a nice breezy day.  It's that kind of book.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Freefall to Fly" by Rebekah Lyons

This book is written in a quasi-journal, quasi-memoir fashion.  Rebekah, the author, tells a tale of her early adulthood to her current life situation.  We read about her early marriage, her children, her ambitions, and her life-altering move to New York City.  Readers will not always feel all warm and fuzzy reading this.  The book talks about death and also about the struggles of raising a special-needs child.  You will read about Lyons' transformation into the woman she is today, but you will also read about the pain of who she was.  This book is raw.  However, I would like to say that the main audience for this book is young wives or young mothers.  Those who do not fit those categories may not like this book, may find it boring, and may even find it whiny.  This book has a specific audience.    

Monday, April 15, 2013

"If you were me and lived in Mexico" by Carole P. Roman

This book is just one in a series about different world countries.  This one focuses on Mexico.  It is simple enough for children to understand, but, to be honest, people of all ages can learn from this book series.  The book goes over the country's capital, geographic location, popular tourism sites, sports, and a major national / cultural holiday of that nation.  Readers will also learn some words in the native language of that country.  For this book, since we are in Mexico, reads learn some Spanish terms for names, monetary units, food, and more.  There is even a page in the very back of the book that helps readers with pronunciations if they are unsure how to say certain phrases that are used in the book.  As a children's book, I like how this book was geared to both girls and boys.  As we turn the pages, we see both the boy and girl characters getting involved in learning about Mexico.  This series is great in that it not only educates children on social studies but that it promotes peace and cultural / ethnic equality.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

"Learn to Tie a Tie with the Rabbit and the Fox" by Sybrina Durant and Illustrated by Donna Marie Naval

This book is a cute little story for teaching young ones how to tie ties.  Got a young boy who thinks ties are annoying?  Show him that ties are fun with this adventurous story.  While the main audience is little children, I must admit that people of all ages can learn how to tie a tie with this book.  I am past childhood but have been asked by friends to help them get ready for formal events and help them tie their ties.  Much to my chagrin, I did not know how to tie a tie properly.  Now I can use this book to quickly remember how to tie a tie.  In this book, the story is fun, the font is playful, and the illustrations are emotional.  There is even a free song that goes along with the book.  You can find the catchy tune at, which the author sings with a nice crisp voice.  I liked this book very much and thought it was cute.  It's one of a kind.    

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"Stuck in the Doldrums" by Carole P. Roman

This children's book has a pirate theme and teaches young ones valuable lessons.  While the title says the book focuses on sharing, there is really more to it than that.  Ideas such as cooperation, friendship, altruism, and kindness in the face of adversity are also covered.  I also thought it was cute that there was the title "a captain no-beard story" throughout.  The story will hold readers' attention, and the end is quite surprising.  Even though it is a children's book and not a suspense novel, I was pleasantly surprised to get to the last page of the story and read something I was not expecting.  The illustrations are lovely in this book, and they resemble vibrant watercolor artwork.  I also liked how the text pages had illustrations and graphic designs on them and were not just plain white (as some children's books are).  The font was also fun and appropriate for this pirate story.