Monday, February 27, 2017

Book Review: If You Were Me and Lived on...Mars by Carole P. Roman, Illustrated by Mateya Arkova

This review is meant for parents, teachers, and other people that work with children to read.

If You Were Me and Lived on...Mars shows children what it can be like to live on Mars. They will learn what they will need to wear, what to bring with them, what the weather conditions would be like, what the best time to go would be, what kind of jobs their parents might have, and how long to stay before it gets closest to earth again.

This book will take children through a make-believe trip to Mars while educating them on many facts about it in an easy-to understand-way. I got the impression that a lot of work went into this book because it seems like it is filled with many facts.

I would probably skip the parts about different things about Mars being named after Greek gods if I were reading this to any children though because I don't like educating them about Greek gods.

This book helps children to see just what it might be like to live on Mars and help them discern if it is place they would enjoy living on or not. It may also help them to appreciate how much easier it is to live on earth.

My review= 4.5 out of 5 stars

I received this book free for the purpose of reviewing it.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Book Review: The Story Traveler's Bible by Tracy Madder, Illustrated by Tim Crecelius

This review is meant for parents, teachers, and other people that work with children to read.

This children's Bible story book times travels back to the ancient days of the Bible with Munch and crew, a group that is at lunch during Vacation Bible school. They have less than 20 minutes to make the journey through the Bible. Their bus follows along to places in the Bible from Scriptures in Old Testament through the New Testament, sometimes they revisit a place they have already traveled to, since those locations are the settings of more than one story in the Bible. Each section gives an introduction to where they are stopping at and at times they can see who is in the Bible stories at the beginning of some sections. There are explanations of places they are visiting and references to Bible verses that are listed in on the sidebars of the stories. At times Munch and crew want to walk into the story to talk to the people in the Bible stories but they aren't allowed to, they are only allowed to watch.

At the end of each story Scripture is given so that children can read the Bible verses themselves or have it read to them. Please note that this isn't an actual Bible, but a storybook that explains stories in the Bible so children can understand them better.

I liked how the stories followed along from the Old to the New Testaments in the order that they are listed in most Bibles. All of the stories aren't there, just most of the main ones that children often hear in Sabbath and Sunday school settings, and some that are not so common. Just as there is with a lot of children's stories there was some fiction that was brought into the story, to help visualize the Bible stories better. In my opinion, the illustrations did a great job of bringing the Bible stories more alive.

I found myself leaving stick-it notes on pages that I learned something and wanted to remember. I learned that people in ancient Jerusalem ate with their fingers, that there are five different people named Herod in the Bible that were all related, and that it must've been important to Jesus to save leftover food since the extra food was collected after he was able to feed so many people.

This book would be great for children and even for some adults!

My review = 5 out of 5 stars

I received this book free for the purpose of reviewing it.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Audio Book Review: Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray, Read by Mozhan Marno

Ondine is a young chef that is developing her cooking skills alongside her mother. Pablo Picasso is a famous painter whose paintings are worth millions. As Ondine and Picasso's worlds collide, their presence puts a mark on each other's lives. The story will take you through different generations of Ondine's family. The chapters use numbers, give a description of what the chapters are about, and give dates and times the chapters occur.

The storyteller did a great job of using many different voices and tones throughout the CDs. I liked that Ondine's family was close in this story despite the pain that she and her family endured. Their life seemed joyous to me in spite of hardships. Cooking was something that kept coming back into the story so I feel like that helped bring more joy to their lives since it was something they seemed to enjoy.

Picasso seemed like someone that was widely admired on the outside but his life up close seemed to cause a lot of pain in his and other's lives that were close to him. It helped me understand what life is like for a famous person whose life may look admirable to many but seems actually very hard to handle out behind closed doors.

This audio book was hard to listen to at times because there are some bad words / language (what I consider cussing) in some places on this audio book (there seemed to be a lot more during the second half of the book), which I wasn't expecting. Some of the descriptive language was also hard for me to bear. The story deals with some adult issues.

This story will probably tug at a lot of heartstrings, it will be real for a lot of people that have gone through similar situations (I can't really talk about the situations without giving away what happens).

This audio book comes with 11 unabridged CDs.

My review = 3 out of 5 stars

I received this audio book free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Book Review: Close to Home by Deborah Raney

This Chicory Inn series novel puts the spotlight on Bree Cordel Whitman. She is the widow of Grant and Audrey Whitman's son Tim and has been in previous novels in this series. The story will take you inside Bree's mind and how she feels about Tim's family. The whole family meets on Tuesday's for dinner. Bree decides to date one of her coworkers, although he doesn't understand why she has to stay so connected to her "ex's" family. Tim tries to connect with Bree's family and can maybe even be considered an outsider; it left me kind of on the edge to know if Tim's family would accept him and also if Tim would accept the family.

I really liked learning about Bree in this novel because I only learned a little bit about her in previous novels. I learned that she worked special events for a living and what life was like for her outside of her Tuesday night dinners with Tim's family. The story showed me that it was important for Bree to stay connected to Tim's family and that they stay connected  to her, to maybe keep Tim's memory alive. I also liked learning about a special connection she had with Tim's grandmother.

Although there was some twist and turns I could predict some of the outcome. There was some things that were kind of left in the air, like cliffhangers, and maybe those will be included in the next novel in this series.

My review - 5 out of 5 stars

I was sent this book free for the purpose of reviewing the next book in the series.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Book Review: A Concert in the Sand by Fami Shem-Tov and Rachella Sandbank, Illustrated by Avi Ofer

A Concert in the Sand
This review is meant for parents, teachers, and other people that work with children to read.

Uri is bored hanging out at the delicatessen his mom and dad operate. He spends the day with his grandmother instead. Even though there is a communication gap between them because she only speaks German, Uri discovers a little bit about what she is thinking as he spends time with her. They start out at the beach and then find themselves on the street, the park, the site of a building being constructed, and a parade they become a part of brings them to an auditorium to hear an concert by an orchestra!

This story shows that a day hanging out with a grandparent and learning about their interests can be very interesting and fun! I found it interesting that this is fictionalized story about the first ever performance of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. Bronislaw Huberman, the founder of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, makes an appearance in the orchestra as a violinist. In my opinion, this is a great way to teach children about the history behind the orchestra through the story itself, the illustrations, and the historical note in the back of the book.

My review = 5 out of 5 starsI received this book free for the purpose of reviewing it.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Book Review: A Different Kind of Passover by Linda Leopold-Strauss, Illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau

This review is meant for parents, teachers, and other people that work with children to read.

A little girl is used to celebrating Passover (Pesach) a certain way with her family. Her grandfather just got out of the hospital though and it is feeling much different. He is confined to his room and that doesn't seem right to her. She thinks of an idea of how he can be included with Passover from his room, and although Passover is not exactly the same as it was the year before, at least Grandpa can still participate.

I liked how the little girl found a way to include her grandfather in Passover and adapted to the changes. I think that helped lift her grandfather's spirit also. I also liked how the family was willing to take her suggestion.

The only thing I had a hard time with was a place in the book where it explained a teen (youth) sipped some wine. I know it's a tradition during/after bar mitzvahs but I fear that could develop into something stronger for some youth. I would feel more comfortable leaving that part of the story out if I read this story to any children.

To me this sounds like a story of hope, not just for the grandpa in the story that is trying to recover but for the whole family!

My review = 4 out of 5 stars

I received this book free for the purpose of reviewing it.


Friday, February 10, 2017

Book Review: Passover Scavenger Hunt by Shanna Silva, Illustrated by Miki Sakamoto

This review is meant for parents, teachers, and other people that work with children to read.

Great-Uncle Harry usually hides the afikomen every Passover but Rachel wants to create something new and exciting for the other children in her family. She creates a fun game that gives clues of where the afikomen is. Some of the clues seem kind of harder than others but the children always figure them out and are eventually led to the afikomen.

I think children will like learning about how Rachel turned finding the afikomen into a fun game. She gave Great-Uncle Harry a break of being in charge of hiding it and it allowed her to be more involved with Passover. This book might even prompt other families to create a fun games such as Rachel created to find the afikomen during Passover!

This story is a great way to show Passover through the eyes of a child and how it can be more fun for some children to find the afikomen!

My review = 5 out of 5 stars

I received this book free for the purpose of reviewing it.

Ages: 4-9
Grades: PreK-3

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Review: Sammy Spider's Passover Shapes by Sylvia A. Rouss, Illustrated by Katherine Janus Kahn

This review is meant for parents, teachers, and other people that work with children to read.

Sammy is hanging around the Shapiro family again, this time watching them get ready for Passover (Pesach). While they are cleaning he makes spider webs in different shapes of items that relate to Passover. After all the webs that the spider makes, Sammy wonders if spiders can celebrate Passover. The spider's mom replies in a way that will probably make many children smile.

This is a short book that will help children learn about basic shapes and also about items that are often included in Passover. I like that some words associated with Passover are highlighted in blue, I feel like that will give teachers and parents a chance to pause to explain those words better. I also like that the pages of the book are hard because I think the book will last longer in a classroom because of that.

My review = 5 out of 5 stars

I received this book free for the purpose of reviewing it.

Ages: 1-4
Grades: Pre-K

Monday, February 6, 2017

Book Review: Under the Sabbath Lamp by Michael Herman, Illustrated by Alida Massari

This review is meant for parents, teachers, and other people that work with children to read.

Izzy and Oliva Bloom are invited to Sabbath dinner by many families throughout their neighborhood. Oliva made lemon bars and Izzy brought homemade cherry cordial. Their dinners were festive times which included the lighting of two candles, a blessing for welcoming Shabbat, eating the meal, singing Shabbat songs, and eating dessert. One day they decide to invite their neighbors to a Shabbat meal at their house. Their guests are shocked that they don't light candles at the start of Shabbat. The Bloom's explain to them that they use a Hanging Sabbath Lamp instead and give the story behind how they inherited it. That store inspires their neighbors to talk about things that they inherited in their families as well.

This story gives a glimpse about how people celebrated the Sabbath in earlier times. It shows that there is another way to bring in the Sabbath with candles. The Sabbath lamp illuminated the whole dining room, which gave light to the table, the people that sat under it, and the meal. I liked the note about the Hanging Sabbath Lamp in the back of the book, which shows a picture of one. This book can be (and probably already has been to some people) a door opener about more ancient ways of celebrating Sabbath. It will help children to compare how Sabbath candle lighting is done in a lot of families today through lighting candles at the table, versus using a Hanging Sabbath Lamp in earlier times.

My review= 5 out of 5 stars

I received a hardback copy of this book free for the purpose of reviewing it.

Ages: 3-8
Grades: PreK-2

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Book Review: Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, Illustrations by Chiara Fedele

This review is meant for parents, teachers, and other people that work with children to read.

Yaffa is Jewish and Fatima is Muslim. Both love God but worship differently. One attends a synagogue and the other attends a mosque. Both of them own a date grove and spend time each week gathering dates. Hard times come and both of them worry about each other, that they won't have enough dates. Both of them find a way to get some of their dates to the other that shows a deep kindness and love towards each other.

This book shows differences and similarities in the Jewish religion versus the Muslim religion. The story and illustrations show the different ways women dress, different ways of saying "peace", different foods that they eat, different times of fasting, different religious books they read from in the morning, Teachers, parents, or anybody else that reads this book to children can look those words up ahead of time or after the story is read though.

I like how this book shows the differences and similarities of each religion to show that both want to follow God through their religions. I also like that this book showed how dates are an important food for both religions.

I wish there was a glossary in the back of the book so some of the words can be defined when reading this book to children, such as for some of the foods and holy days that are mentioned from both religions. Even though the Bible is not specifically mentioned, I can see where at least one of the groups incorporated it into their life through a Biblical holiday, while both of them were showing a love of their neighbor.

My review = 4.5 out of 5 stars

I received a paperback copy of this book free for the purpose of reviewing it.

Ages: 4-9
Grades: PreK-3