Posts Tagged: book review. children’s books

The Code Busters Club: Case 1 by Penny Warner

05 Nov, 2011 by in middle grade reader Leave a comment

The Code Busters Club
Case #1: The Secret of the Skeleton Key
by Penny Warner
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 13th 2011
by EgmontUSA
ISBN 1606841629
Source: BEA
Rating: 4 stars

Cody, Quinn, Luke, and M.E. may be really different, but they all share one thing in common: they love playing around with codes. In fact, they love codes so much, they have their own private club, with a super-secret hideout and passwords that change every single day.

When Cody and Quinn notice what could be a code on the window of a nearby house, the one owned by their strange neighbor, the guy they call Skeleton Man, the club gets to work. And it is a cry for help!

Now the Code Busters are on the case—and nothing will stop them from solving the mystery and finding the secret treasure that seems to be the cause of it all!

This exciting interactive mystery offers more than fifteen codes for you to decipher, including the Consonant code, Morse code, and American Sign Language. Test your brain with the Code Busters and solve the mystery along with them. Answers are in the back, if you ever get stuck.

For more code-breaking fun, visit and join the club! Ages 8–12

This is a fun middle grade book. Cody, Quinn, Luke and M.E. love codes and have created the Code Busters Club. They have a secret club house and communicate with each other using different codes, including sign language (which they learned because Cody’s little sister is deaf). Noticing a coded message from a neighbor, calling for help, the Code Busters use coded messages to solve a crime.

I love how this book encourages kids to learn different ways to communicate (it even embraces the language of children today, texting). Mixed in with the story we find codes for the readers to unravel (don’t worry, there is a key at the back of the book) so the story becomes interactive. Kids will easily be able to relate with the characters, and enjoy sharing their adventures by helping crack the codes.

The idea of communicating via code brought back memories for me. Back in High School, a good friend created a code (utilizing small shapes and images in place of the alphabet) and we used it to pass notes back and forth. Our logic was that if we got caught passing notes, our teachers would have no idea what we were saying! (Honestly, we were pretty good kids who had to find our own little ways to rebel. Our notes usually related to pretty tame things like where we were going to meet at lunch or when the next church dance was taking place). It was so much fun to have our own coded means of communication. We got pretty good at both writing and reading it with out our answer keys (which we, much less creatively than the characters in the Code Busters, had written down on 3X5 cards).

If you are looking for a fun book (and soon to be series, the next adventure being alluded to at the end of this book) for your middle grade reader, look no farther than The Code Busters Club.

Content: Clean

Mom’s Monday

24 Jan, 2011 by in Uncategorized Leave a comment

Clara Lee and The Apple Pie Dream
by Jenny Han and Julia Kuo
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published January 4th 2011
by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN 0316070386
3.5 stars

Clara Lee likes her best friends, her grandpa, kimchi, candy necklaces (her signature look!), and the idea of winning the Little Miss Apple Pie contest.

Clara Lee doesn’t like her mom’s fish soup, bad dreams (but Grandpa says they mean good luck!), speaking in public, or when her little sister is being annoying.

One day, after a bad dream, Clara Lee is thrilled to have a whole day of luck (Like!). But then, bad luck starts to follow (Dislike!). When will Clara Lee’s luck change again? Will it change in time for the Little Miss Apple Pie contest?

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream is a cute, fun read for 2nd and 3rd graders with whimsical pencil sketches, a dazzling cover complete with glitter letters, and a story of self-confidence. Clara Lee is an every day girl who has bad dreams. Grandfather says her dreams will bring her good luck. And they do! A candy necklace, ginger snaps, plus her favorite seat on the bus. But when life takes a terrible turn including an unwanted Valentine and teasing from her friends she has to find the courage in her heart to follow her apple pie dream. The themesin Clara Lee and The Apple Pie Dream include what it means to be American, cultural diversity, and facing your fears. I would recommend it to elementary schoolers who like Ivy Bean or Judy Moody. A great pick for early readers!

Learn more about the book at

Children’s Book Review: Sunny Bunnies

02 Nov, 2010 by in margie blumberg, sunny bunnies 9 comments

Margie Blumberg (Author)
June Goulding (Illustrator)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: MB Publishing, LLC
First edition June 15, 2008
ISBN-10: 0962416649
4 stars

Summer’s here and these two sunny bunnies can’t wait to dig their toes into the sandiest spot in Carrot Cake Park. There, with the big sister leading the way, they’ll build a castle, fly a kite and, of course, jump the waves! This endearing rhyming tale with its cheerful illustrations captures their day perfectly–from the moment they fling their flip-flops until, home again, they say good night . . . almost

Sunny Bunnies is an ideal winter diversion for those of us who wish we were at the beach eating fudgesicles, catching waves or having a picnic in the sand. The rhyming verse is perfect for our seven year old who read it aloud without difficulty. June Goulding’s illustrations include soft colors and detailed scenes with plenty to see and find. The front and back inside cover pages are a map, which makes the trip to the shore seem even more real. My family’s favorite page was the final depiction of brother and sister playing go fish in their scuba gear with mom and dad fast asleep. This book is one they read over and over again. Hope you enjoy Sunny Bunnies as much as we did!

Head on over to Margie’s site for a Sunny Bunnies coloring page and iphone app

We are giving away a hardcover copy of Sunny Bunnies to our readers. Simply comment below and you are entered to win. Contest Ends December 2, 2010

Mom’s Monday Begin Smart Board Books

21 Jun, 2010 by in Uncategorized 8 comments

Today’s Mom’s Monday are the Begin Smart Board Books sent to us by the publisher for review. When they arrived in the mail my four children fought over them. They held each of their attention which is saying a lot because they range in age between 2-7 years old! I even had to put them away to prevent fighting. We scoured the chunky books which are indestructible and the touch and feel pictures. Pages are full of shimmery raised illustrations, flaps to lift and furry, bumpy textures. The text varied between Newborn-six months, six-months-twelve months, twelve-eighteen months and two- three years. I have to say that “Pete’s Potty” is a big hit for mom who is trying to potty train a two year old! Five stars from a mom who knows!!

We are giving away two board books… “Round, Balls, Round Balls” and “Counting Duckies” !

To Enter to win
leave your name and email address below. Contest ends July 21, 2010 and is open to U.S. residents and International residents willing to pay shipping upon winning. Good Luck!!

Wonderland Revisited Book Review

06 May, 2010 by in wonderland revisited and the games alice played there 1 comment

published November 1st 2009 by Evertype (first published 2009)
details Paperback, 136 pages
isbn 1904808344
3 stars
Excerpt from Goodreads…“Excuse me,” said Alice to a small grey Mouse in red shorts. “What precisely is a custard race?” — Did Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass leave you yearning for more? Join Alice on a new journey and meet the extraordinary inhabitants of Wonderland, both familiar and new. If your bed turned into a boat, and you found yourself “drifting off” in an entirely unexpected manner, how would you find your way home? The Jack of Diamonds says it’s Alice’s own fault for being fast asleep — had she slept more slowly, she wouldn’t be so far from home! The Red Queen, the Mah-jong Dragons, even the Red King’s Gamekeeper, all seem helpful enough at first — but things never quite turn out the way Alice hopes! Brimming with word-play, nonsense verse, and a cast of eccentric characters each with a unique and peculiar logic, this tale is faithful to the style of the originals, picking up the pen where Lewis Carroll put it down. Be swept away on a torrent of humour and madness. Alice is back!
Most of you can probably guess from my past giveaways, that I am a big Alice in Wonderland fan! Keith Sheppard contacted me about reviewing his book, a take off from the Lewis Carroll series. Mr. Sheppard wrote Wonderland revisited and the Games Alice played there” for his daughter who was forever asking him more about ALice and her world. He takes us to Wonderland via a bed with a spoon and her pet puppy comes along. I enjoyed all of the plays on words and sharp humor. The reader will meet a unicorn, owl, dragons, frogs, a mole, the Queen of Hearts and a gardener along the journey. And will be taught old and new games. Now if she could only figure our how to get back home…Nothing is quite the same in twisted Wonderland! I would recommend it for Alice fans and gave it three stars!

Mom’s Monday "One Tree"

29 Mar, 2010 by in Uncategorized Leave a comment

published April 4th 2009
by Innovative Kids
details Hardcover, 20 pages
isbn 1584768118
5 stars
Synopsis from Goodreads: This earth-friendly series is made from 98% post consumer recycled materials and printed with eco friendly inks. Each hardcover book’s simple,nonfiction content inspires children to love and respect the natural world and the parent spread at the back of each book shows how easy it is to practice (and teach!) earth-friendly habits right at home.From the insects that nibble on its leaves to the tiny creatures that call its branches home, one tree is the center for a whole world of life.
This series of books and garden kits is absolutely perfect for any little one. I LOVE that the books are printed on cardboard and still have bright beautiful illustrations. The little woodsy creatures in One Tree are so adorable! The binding is stitched with string and the whole line is earth friendly. By far one of my favorite creations ever!

Mom’s Monday-Since We’re Friends

15 Mar, 2010 by in Since we're Friends Leave a comment

Author: Celeste Shally
Perfect Paperback: 32 pages
Release date: September 1, 2007
Awaken Specialty Press
ISBN: 0979471303 From School Library Journal
5 Stars
PreSchool-Grade 2

Product Description
Children with autism struggle to make friends and navigate social situations. However, one child can make a significant difference in the life of a child with autism by offering compassion, understanding and friendship.

Since We re Friends is about two boys. One has autism, the other does not. The story of their relationship provides practical examples of how to make such a friendship work. It will help children see that their peers with autism can make a fun, genuine contribution to friendship.

From the publisher:
The prevalence of autism has skyrocketed in recent years. One in every 150 children is now living with this pervasive developmental disorder. The handful of autism children’s books on the market represents the most severe cases of autism. However, most children with autism are much less severe. These misunderstood children struggle in social situations and have difficulty making friends. Since We re Friends will appeal to family members, friends, teachers, therapists, doctors, neighbors, and anyone who seeks to know and understand more about children with autism.

I purchased this book a few years ago when our second child was diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. I wanted to be able to explain to him and his sister (also diagnosed with ASD) what makes them special. And I serched for hands on tools to teach them how to be compassionate towards each other and their friends. I think books are a great conduit to help young ones understand behaviors that are hard to explain. My son absolutely adores this book and we read it together often. It helps him to see that he is not the only one who struggles with social situations and transitions. His best friend has been by his side since pre-school and both boys have special needs. Seeing interactions in the book and illustrations helps my son, be a better buddy. I like that “Since We’re Friends teaches accepting one another and offering support. I would recommend it to all parents since Autism is on the rise and often misunderstood. 5 stars from this momma!

Mom’s Monday-How To Find Flower Fairies

22 Feb, 2010 by in pop up book 2 comments

published October 4th 2007 by Warne
details Hardcover, 14 pages
isbn 0723258902

“Children, the knowledge that I am passing to you is precious and must be carefully guarded…”

After centuries of being hidden from human sight, the Flower Fairies allowed Cicely Mary Barker a glimpse into their enchanted fairy world in Fairyopolis. Now you can continue the adventure with this spectacular new novelty book where every page unlocks the secrets behind the magical places the fairies call home. Five eye-popping spreads include intricate three-dimensional pop-up images of flowers and trees that magically open up to reveal the secret homes of the fairies. Lift-the- flaps, booklets, maps and other ephemera provide interactive fun on every page leading up to a stunning surprise on the final spread.
This book is a favorite at our home as are the others in Cicely Mary Barker’s Fairyopolis series. With holographic pictures, pop ups, hidden letters, glitter embellishments and raised graphics it is a multi sensory experience which leaves the reader feeling like they have stepped into the fairy realm. Her illustrations, handwritten notes and photographs are enchanting. It is a book that will not gather dust on your shelves and will remain a keepsake in our homes! Five stars.

Mom’s Monday "Purplicious"

08 Feb, 2010 by in purplicious, Victoria Kann 3 comments

Product Details
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (October 16, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0061244058
5 stars

Product Description
It’s purple Pinkalicious!

Pinkalicious loves the color pink, but all the girls at school like black. They tease her, saying that pink stinks and pink is for babies. But Pinkalicious doesn’t think so…that is, until her friends stop playing with her. Now Pinkalicious has a case of the blues. But could she ever turn her back on her favorite color?

In the follow-up to the bestselling Pinkalicious, a young girl remains true to herself and discovers that pink isn’t only a pretty color, but also a powerful one.

About the Author
Victoria Kann’s award-winning artwork has graced the covers and pages of many magazines, newspapers, and books. She is the illustrator and coauthor with Elizabeth Kann of Pinkalicious and Purplicious, which were both New York Times bestsellers. They also wrote Pinkalicious: The Musical, which premiered in New York City to sold-out audiences. Victoria teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Recently she built a tree house for her Princess Pinkerbelles. She often hears galloping in the house and wonders if it’s Goldilicious or just her Pinkerbelles.

The first book we read by Victoria Kann was the prequel, “Pinkaliacious.” When we saw a new Purple sister edition in the series, we scooped it right up at our school book fair. The cover has raised glitter lettering and the inside treats readers to a tale about true friendship and fitting in. It’s okay not to love black! Popularity and confroming to the crowd does not = happiness. Be who you are and explore new things. My girls LOVE this book and we gave it 5 stars!