Archive for ‘Books by Topic’

October 16, 2015

It’s Raining Bats & Frogs

raining batsTitle: It’s Raining Bats & Frogs

Author: Rebecca Colby
Illustrator: Steven Henry
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends, 2015
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 3-6
Themes: Witches, Halloween


The raining and pouring
may have been quite boring,
but cats and dogs, they just don’t work.
They hiss and bark and go BERSERK.
So, change what’s falling on my head.
Make it HATS and CLOGS instead!


Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

A little witch named Delia has been looking forward all year to flying in the annual Witch Parade. When the rumors of rain come true and the other witches start complaining, Delia takes action. Using her best magic, Delia changes the rain to cats and dogs. At first this goes over quite well, but she quickly realizes the animals cause a few issues. She must change the rain again! This time to hats and clogs. And finally, she tries bats and frogs. But each new type of rain brings its own set of problems. How will Delia save the day?



  • Teacher’s Guide – English Language Arts & Math exercises, Frog facts, songs, and more!


Why I Like This Book:

Cute charming tale about a young witch trying to save the Halloween parade with a lovely theme subtly woven in that parents will appreciate.

In the story Delia a young witch tries to prevent the rain from ruining their Halloween parade by changing the rain to cats and dog, then hats and clogs and so on. Each changes brings on it’s own set of issues which the other witches complain about. Eventually Delia realizes the best way to solve the problem — this was completely satisfying.

My favorite part of the book was the cumulative refrain that is done in rhyme. So fun and catchy. It is sure to elicit recitations and re-enactments by the youngest readers.

The artwork is as equally charming as the text. Loved the roundness of the witches making them appear kid-like. The color palette of a gray backdrop with spots of muted greens, purples, and oranges was just the right look for this adorable Halloween story.


This is a good book for pre-school thru KG classroom storytime or lap-reading at home.

Find It’s Raining Bats & Frogs at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 125004992X
ISBN-13: 978-1250049926

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the author. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

October 9, 2015

Star Wars Epic Yarns – plus Giveaway

People throughout the galaxy will be celebrating reading this Saturday, October 10th for the 4th annual Star Wars Reads Day. So grab your young padawans and experience together the power of reading.

If you are a Star Wars geek like me, then check-out the Star Wars Epic Yarn books from Chronicle. They’re not your average board books.

Star Wars series

These 12-paged books are word primers. Each spread contains a single word paired with an iconic scene from the movie, helping the adult reader narrate the story to the child. The scenes are amazing from the meticulous handcrafted felt characters to the onsite shooting. It may even trigger reader a (re-)watching of the movies.

Here are some interior spreads.

SW Epic Yarns_A New Hope_10_Swing spread © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

SW Epic Yarns_Empire Strikes Back_4_Force spread © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.SW Epic Yarns_Return of the Jedi_Team spread © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

A perfect gift for any Star Wars fan.


You are in luck. I have an extra set of books to GIVEAWAY, courtesy of Chronicle Books. Leave a comment below telling us your favorite character and why (anyone from Episodes 1-6, but picking Jar Jar Binks is automatic disqualification, j/k :-) ). Deadline to enter is Thursday, October 15th. May the force be with you!

Read my interview with the creators Jack and Holman Wang and learn about their creative process.


Find the Star Wars Epic Yarns series at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads

Disclosure: I received my copies of this series from the publisher Chronicle Books. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

September 11, 2015

Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine – plus Giveaway!

Growing up I was a math and science girl. I completed two degrees in engineering and my day job is in the computer industry. It is my pleasure to bring to you today’s book review about Ada Lovelace. Ada is recognized as having created the first algorithm (“computer program”) to be carried out on a mechanical machine. Can you believe it the first programmer was a woman! What is sad is that even though I studied computer programming, I had never heard of Ada Lovelace until a few years ago when I saw a Google Doodle about her. I am thrilled to see this children’s biography about her life and contributions and hope it will inspire today’s girls.

Check-out my interview with author Laurie Wallmark.

Ada coverTitle: Ada Lovelace and the Thinking Machine

Author: Laurie Wallmark
Illustrator: April Chu
Publisher: Creston Books (October 13, 2015)
Book Type: Non-Fiction
Ages: 6-10
Themes: Women in Science, Mathematics

Opening Lines:

Ada was born into a world of poetry, but numbers, not words, captured her imagination.

Her mother, Lady Byron, had a passion for geometry. In fact, her nickname was “The Princess of Parallelograms.”

But her famous father dominated the household. Beloved for his Romantic poems, Lord Byron was a celebrity throughout the world.

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Ada Lovelace, the daughter of the famous romantic poet, Lord Byron, develops her creativity through science and math. When she meets Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first mechanical computer, Ada understands the machine better than anyone else and writes the world’s first computer program in order to demonstrate its capabilities.


Why I Like this Book:

A story about one girl’s love for numbers. Numbers were Ada’s friends, they kept her occupied and engaged. They even kept her mind sharp when she temporarily blind due to illness. The author beautifully shows us Ada’s inquiring nature as she progresses from sketching models for flying machines to computing the wings’ power, leading her to eventually collaborating with Charles Babbage on the Analytical Engine. Unfortunately this complex machine was not completed so Ada never got to see her program run but her influence lives on in modern computing.

I was surprised to learn that she was the daughter of the famous poet, Lord Byron, and that her mother loved geometry. I was also intrigued by the fact that there were women that studied math, such as Ada’s tutor Mary Fairfax Somerville. You just don’t learn about women in scientific pursuits for that time period in general history courses. While we do see Ada’s mom encouraging her in analytical thinking, the disparaging opinions of the Nanny give the reader a sense of what was considered appropriate pursuits for girls.

The pencil and paper drawing with the lush digital coloring are gorgeous. I do like the subtle shows of humor by the artist such as the cat hiding in Ada’s bag or the frog in the bathroom. Ms. Chu has elegantly captured Ada’s inquisitiveness and love for science. On one spread Ada is looking at a flock of birds taking flight and the bird that is right over her head is drawn as a mechanical bird, showing us Ada’s curiosity. Click here to see the mechanical bird image plus others from the book.

A detailed author’s note, timeline, and bibliography will help facilitate further investigation. This book is good for use in upper elementary classrooms.


For a chance to win this book, leave a comment. Deadline to enter is Thursday, September 17th at 9pm PST. Winner will receive the book at time of release in October. Contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

Find Ada Lovelace and the Thinking Machine at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1939547202
ISBN-13: 978-1939547200

This review is part of Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book series. Visit her site to see the other books recommended.

Disclosure: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.

August 27, 2015

Mummy Cat

Can’t believe summer has come to an end. Hope you have had a great one. Here is my final classroom pick for this month. Here are the other classroom picks from this past month. Water is Water, It’s a Seashell Day, Nature Books for the Classroom, and Marvelous Cornelius.

I’ve got a lot more new titles to tell you about in the Fall. Stay Tuned!

mummy_catTitle: Mummy Cat

Author: Marcus Ewert
Illustrator: Lisa Brown (interview at 7 Imp’)
Publisher: Clarion Books, 2015
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Themes: Ancient Egypt, Mummies, Cats, Friendship


And one cold night, each century,
he gets up, and he checks to see

if she’s come back, his loving friend …
so that this lonely time can end.

Synopsis (from Amazon’s website):

Mummy Cat prowls his pyramid home, longing for his beloved owner. As he roams the tomb, lavish murals above his head display scenes of the cat with his young Egyptian queen, creating a story-within-a-story about the events of centuries past. Hidden hieroglyphs deepen the tale and are explained in an informative author’s note.



  • Informational website for kids on everything Ancient Egypt
  • National Geographic Kids website with fast facts on Ancient Egypt, plus more in-depth links on pyramid building, hieroglyphs, and mummification.
  • Printables coloring sheets, word searches, and mazes.
  • Pinterest board – links to crafts, printables, books, games, and more.


Why I Like This Book:

In a market filled with all sorts of friendship stories (realistic, imaginary creatures, animal stand-ins), this story of a cat and her beloved queen truly stand out. This is a tender friendship story set against the backdrop of Ancient Egypt. Readers will get a taste of Egyptian life, rituals, afterlife, mummification, and art. This dynamic duo has made learning about history and cultures engaging and heartfelt. Perceptive readers will be rewarded with extra story information when they decode the hieroglyphs. The extensive back matter can be used as a good starting point for learning more about Ancient Egypt.

Check-out this behind the scenes look

MUMMY CAT at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0544340825
ISBN-13: 978-0544340824

August 12, 2015

Nature Books for the Classroom

Welcome back for another classroom pick. Today is a lovely series from author Dianna Hutts Aston. A lady who I have personally met and radiates inner beauty just as her books do.  Be sure to check-out last week’s picks for the classroom Water is Water and It’s a Seashell Enjoy!

Science Book Collage


Author Dianna Hutts Aston and illustrator Sylvia Long have created a series of gorgeous science books. The author’s captivating language pulls the reader through the story while the watercolor and ink art challenges the reader to linger just a little longer and soak up some facts. A wonderful combination. These books don’t feel like typical science books, they feel like a work of art trying to capture the beauty of nature. These books are good to have in a home or classroom library, where a kid can hunker down with it and become engrossed.

An Egg is Quiet – Introduction to the vast and amazing world of eggs.

A Seed is Sleepy – Informative look at the intricate, complex, and often surprising world of seeds.

A Butterfly is Patient – Introduction to the world of butterflies. From iridescent blue swallowtails and brilliant orange monarchs to the worlds tiniest butterfly (Western Pygmy Blue) and the largest (Queen Alexandra’s Birdwing), an incredible variety of butterflies are celebrated here in all of their beauty and wonder.

A Rock is Lively – Fascinating world of rocks. From dazzling blue lapis lazuli to volcanic snowflake obsidian, an incredible variety of rocks are showcased in all their splendor.

A Nest is Noisy – Gorgeous and informative look at the fascinating world of nests. From tiny bee hummingbird nests to orangutan nests high in the rainforest canopy, an incredible variety of nests are showcased here.

Common-Core aligned teacher’s guide for all five books.

Here are some interior images.


From a NEST IS NOISY. Click for a larger view.


From a ROCK IS LIVELY. Click for a larger view.


Find these Dianna Aston & Sylvia Long science books at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads


Disclosure: I received a review copy of A Nest is Noisy from the publisher Chronicle Books. The other titles I have purchased or borrowed from the library. This review reflects my own honest opinion about the book.


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