Archive for ‘Books by Type’

September 25, 2015

The Perfect Percival Priggs – plus Giveaway!

percivalTitle: The Perfect Percival Priggs
Author & Illustrator: Julie-Anne Graham

Publisher: Running Press Kids, 2015
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-7
Themes: Unconditional love, Individuality

Opening Lines:

Percival Priggs was perfect.
His parents were perfect.
His grandparents were perfect.
Even his pets were perfect.


Synopsis (from Amazon website):

Percival Priggs wants to be the perfect child in order to please his seemingly perfect parents.
But even when Percy gets his family into a mess of a situation, his parents’ love for him remains absolute perfection.



  • Activity Guide – discussion questions, coloring sheets, games, and more.


Why I Like This Book:

A delightful book with a quirky cast of characters in a sweet story about pursuing the things you love and not having to be perfect at it with a dollop of unconditional family love. Perfect story for kids who too often notice the trophy/prize someone has won without realizing the hard work and failures that came prior.

The art shines brightly in this book. Check-out the trophy shelf below. Unfortunately, Percival doesn’t enjoy most of his activities they are b-o-r-i-n-g, which most young readers will likely agree with.


One day Percival comes up with an ingenious plan to finish his to-do list faster. Unfortunately, his plan literally blows up and creates havoc in the household. This is where the unconditional loves comes in, but wait this isn’t the end of the story. Now we find out all about the parents’ past failures. It’s a real treat, sorry no hints.


Since the charm of the book is in the detailed art, probably not a good book for story time but definitely one to keep in a home or classroom library.



For a chance to win this book, let us know your quirky talent in the comments below. (my quirky talent is i can catch spiders) Deadline to enter is Thursday, October 1st at 9pm PST. Contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.


Find The Perfect Percival Priggs at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0762455063
ISBN-13: 978-0762455065

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 publisher Running Press Kids. This review nevertheless reflects my own and honest opinion about the book.


September 21, 2015

Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco

barrioTitle: Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco
Author: Judith Robbins Rose
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2015
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary, Multicultural
Themes: Immigrant Experience, Mentorship
Ages: 10 and up

Synopsis (Amazon website):

“Miss, will you be my Amiga?”
Amiga means “friend” in Spanish, but at the youth center, it meant a lady to take you places.
I never asked myself if two people as different as Miss and me could ever really be amigas.

When Jacinta Juarez is paired with a rich, famous mentor, she is swept away from the diapers and dishes of her own daily life into a world of new experiences. But crossing la linea into Miss’s world is scary. Half of Jacinta aches for the comfort of Mamá and the familiar safety of the barrio, while the other half longs to embrace a future that offers more than cleaning stuff for white people. When her family is torn apart, Jacinta needs to bring the two halves of herself together to win back everything she’s lost. Can she channel the power she’s gained from her mentor and the strength she’s inherited from Mamá to save her shattered home life?

Why I Like This Book:

A richly detailed story giving readers a glimpse of life in the barrio. The plot centers around 12-yr old Jacinta who has one foot in barrio world and one foot in Miss’s (mentor) world which offers new experiences likes gymnastics, swimming pools and French classes. The reader sees Jacinta being torn between doing the things she wants to do with Miss and her responsibilities to the family. The author has done a wonderful job of showing the raw, honest truth about the views of the people and the trials they face. I did enjoy the misconceptions that Jacinta had about Miss, they did add to lighten the story. While their mentorship-mentee relationship was filled with ups and downs, it was a richer experience in the end.

Not just a multi-cultural book but one about socio-economic diversity as well. The book moves along at a good clip with obstacles and conflict around every corner, though at times it did seem a bit much. I enjoyed this book serving as a window into another cultural society however I would’ve liked a little bit more something to help me understand the decisions the parents made for their family. Why did they choose to live in America if it meant living in fear of the police and barely making ends meet? At times the existence of Jacinta’s family seemed so dismal and bleak, I just wanted to see the warmness of the familial bonds instead of what just appeared to be obligations. There is a very nice line near the end of the story which did give me some closure on this aspect.

It’s what families do. And it’s not because we have to. It’s because we choose to do.

The author does a nice job in tying up the story and giving the reader hope that Jacinta has gotten strong from having one foot in each world and is better because of it.

This book has sparked my curiosity about the immigrant experience. Here are some other titles in this genre:
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
La Línea by Ann Jaramillo
Star in the Forest by Laura Resau
For additional books checkout the wonderful list at Pragmatic Mom website.

Find Look Both Ways in the Barrio Blanco at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0763672351
ISBN-13: 978-0763672355

Disclosure: I received my copy of this book from the publisher Candlewick Press. 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 19, 2015

Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

Welcome back! Hope you have been enjoying my classroom picks. Be sure to check-out the past reviews from this month.

corneliusTitle: Marvelous Cornelius: Hurricane Katrina and the Spirit of New Orleans

Author: Phil Bildner
Illustrator: John Parra (interview at 7’imp)
Publisher: Chronicle Books, 2015
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 5-8
Themes: Community


At each home, Cornelius sashayed to the curb and shimmied to the hopper. Unloading the garbage, not a single praline wrapper ever stayed on the streets. And those spotless streets, oh, how they sparkled.

Synopsis (from Chronicle’s website):

In New Orleans, there lived a man who saw the streets as his calling, and he swept them clean. He danced up one avenue and down another and everyone danced along. The old ladies whistled and whirled. The old men hooted and hollered. The barbers, bead twirlers, and beignet bakers bounded behind that one-man parade. But then came the rising Mississippi—and a storm greater than anyone had seen before. In this heartwarming book about a real garbage man, Phil Bildner and John Parra tell the inspiring story of a humble man and the heroic difference he made in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


Why I Like It:

The is a beautiful book celebrating the human spirit in a modern-day folk hero style. I love that this book shows how a single, humble man who just took pride in his work was able to spread joy in his community. Even in the Katrina aftermath, Cornelius’s spirit was still strong and so was the spirit of New Orleans. The text brings to life Cornelius’s energy by using lyrical phrases such as “sashyaed to the curb” and “clapped the covers like cymbals and twirled the tins like tops“. Also be sure to checkout the Author’s Note where the author explains how he came upon this regional story.

The combination of evocative language with bold, colorful folk art style, and the theme of community make this a winning trifecta. One which I hope will keep this book around for a long time.

PB writers take note of the extensive repetition, alliteration, and exaggeration techniques used in this tall tale style of writing.

Enjoy this trailer made by a group of 4th graders from Swenke Elementary School from Cypress-Fairbanks ISD in Texas.

Find MARVELOUS CORNELIUS at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 1452125783
ISBN-13: 978-1452125787

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


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