The Shelter by Céline Claire

cover114627-mediumThe Shelter by Céline Claire is a beautiful and wonderful story that teaches about goodness. A big storm is brewing and all the animals are headed inside for safety. But two lone bears are out and about. They knock door to door looking for shelter from the storm. They offer their tea in exchange, but no one opens their doors. Once snow starts to fall the bears make their own shelter, and are able to be the help someone else needs when the time arrives.

The reader is introduced to a small group of animals who are preparing for a storm. Two polar bear brother are stuck in the storm. They try to find shelter from other animals but as they go door to door no one lets them in. While the fox den turns the bears away because of size, the foxes helped the bears with a small gift. Eventually the bears find their own shelter and when the fox family finds themselves in the cold when their den collapses the bears invite the foxes in to their shelter.

The story has a great message of goodness and helping other when possible. The pictures are done by watercolor illustrations, which shows the mood and atmosphere of the story.  It brings the beauty of the forest, it’s inhabitants, their hidden houses and families to the reader. A true story of friendship, caring, compassion, sharing and love.

I received this ARC from NetGalley and Kids Can Press in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: animals, book review, children, Children's Nonfiction, family, french, friendships, kids, Kids Can Press, NetGalley, picture books, Watercolor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Little Miss Liberty by Chris Robertson

cover109862-mediumLittle Miss Liberty by Chris Robertson is is fictional story with wonderful illustrations how Lady Liberty came to live in New York Harbor.

From the moment Little Miss Liberty comes into the world, it’s apparent that she is special. As a young girl in Paris, she realizes she is different from her classmates. For one thing she’s green and she grows in leaps and bounds towering over her friends. She is also kindhearted to all those she meets. Eventually, she outgrows pretty much everything and sets out on an adventure to find the place she has always known she was meant to be.

Even though this is obviously a story of fiction, it is a wonderful and creative way to introduce little ones to The Statue of Liberty and all that she symbolizes. As with his other stories, Chris Robertson’s talent as an illustrated shines through. His choice of simple drawings and cool colors are the perfect mix for this charming story.

I received this book from Xist Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: book review, books, children, Children's Fiction, Children's literature, france, friendships, historical fiction, history, NetGalley, Statue of Liberty, Xist Publishing | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Banana-Leaf Ball by Katie Smith Milway

cover100356-mediumThe Banana-Leaf Ball by Katie Smith Milway is book is based on a real refuge camp in East Africa and a boy whose life got better when the sport of soccer was introduced to the children. The coaches from the organization Right to Play taught kids how to get along by playing together.

The main character, Deo Rukundo, an East African boy is forced to flee his home because of a war in his country. He ends up separated from his family and keeps running deep into the forest for safety. After many weeks where he lives on dew drops, wild fruits and leaves he finds his way to a refugee camp in Northwest Tanzania. Frightened, homesick and alone, he prays for the well-being of the rest of his family.

With little resources in the refugee camp bullies emerge and vandalize those living there. They steal and intimidate everyone and they especially target Deo. Remy the gang leader is menacing and poses threats to all those he encounters.

One day a coach arrives and gathers up the children to play a game of soccer.  He hesitates about joining in the game but his excitement overcomes him and he touts his excellent soccer skills in front of the coach. Very impressed, the coach makes Deo captain of the “shirts” team. As the game progresses brand new feelings of comradery and acceptance emerge from the players as they work together as a team to score that winning goal. The kids start to laugh, forget their worries and relax. They area transformed into” kids” once again.

In the following days the kids gather at Deo’s house and he teaches them his soccer moves and how to make a ball out of dried banana leaves. Most importantly they open up to each other about their feelings and share their experiences both before refugee camp and the life they are living now.

This book is based upon a true story. It is heartwarming and inspiring. It points out that truly frightening, seemingly hopeless situations can indeed be turned around into something positive and bearable for those caught in such tragic circumstances.

The book is a perfect catalyst to get kids talking about others less fortunate and the social justice issues that surround refugees all over the world. It allows them to discuss the handling of bullies and the value of sports, teamwork, sharing with each other and acceptance.

I received this ARC book from Kids Can press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Adventure, Africa, African American Literature, book review, books, bullying, children, Children's literature, Children's Nonfiction, culture, friendships, Katie Smith Milway, Luke Refugee Camp, Lukole, Lukole refugee camp, Middle grade, NetGalley, refugee, refugee camp, Relationships, Review, The Banana-Leaf Ball, true story | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally

cover103991-mediumComing Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally is a fantastic book in the Hundred Oaks series. This is the 5th book I’ve read in the series. I love getting lost in the sporty world that Miranda Kenneally has created. I love that each book features a different girl with a different sport.

In Coming Up for Air the main character is Maggie. Maggie is a devoted swimmer. Swimming is her entire life, she is passionate about it. Maggie hopes that one day she’ll get into the Olympics. Swimming is not something that is forced rather it is something she loves.

Coming Up for Air is light, funny and cute. Maggie has four great friends, who all have sports that they love more than life itself. Levi is her best friend, and he swims with her. They are great characters, and have a great romance. They are best friends first. They don’t let anything come in the way of their friendship; however, when Maggie feels she needs experience in certain areas before she heads off to college, Levi is the one person she feels most comfortable asking for help.

Maggie wanting experience before going to college causes their relationship to go through a period of being a awkward and emotional. Eventually they both begin to see the other in a new way, and to start feeling emotions. The new direction of the friendship does not feel forced; but, rather natural. The strong bond between Maggie and Levi and their friendship was more important than anything else, and that was the one thing they wanted to save.

This book was such a worthy edition to the Hundred Oaks series. I also loved that Jordan Woods got a bigger speaking role as Maggie’s school coach.

Categories: book review, books, first reads, friendships, Miranda Kenneally, NetGalley, Relationships, Review, romance, Sourcebooks, Sports, swimming, Teens, YA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mae and June and the Wonder Wheel by Charise Mericle Harper

cover87336-mediumMae and June and the Wonder Wheel by Charise Mericle Harper is about June who loves to play with her dog Sam, especially since she is the only one to whom the dog can talk. When her grandmother sends her a big chalkboard on a wheel, with detailed instructions on how to use it, June is thrilled, and she and Sam have a lot of fun completing the suggested tasks. It’s even more fun when a new girl moves in next door and ends up in June’s class. Mae seems really nice, but classmate April is bound and determined that Mae will be her friend. The girls have to learn to get along, and eventually Mae and June become fast friends.

This is a very positive, fun story for beginning readers. The illustrations are very helpful in showing what is going on in the story and add a lot to it. Other nice touches are June’s sometimes cranky teenage sister, the fact that Mae is a character of color without this fact taking over the story, and the adventure of the wonder wheel. This was a cute book about friendship, about pets, about family. June was a fabulous little kid, though a bit too much over the top at times. Still I liked how she stayed true to herself

Thank you NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group and HMH Books for Young Readers for the advanced readers copy in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Adventure, book review, books, children, Children's Fiction, friendships, HMH Books for Young Readers, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group, NetGalley, Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sisters One, Two and Three by Nancy Star

29806089Sisters One, Two and Three by Nancy Star is a story told from Ginger’s perspective. The plot moves between the 1970s and today. Ginger is the oldest of four siblings, and in the 1970s a tragic event redefined her family.

The three sisters, all very different, come together after the death of their mother.  Ginger is the the eldest who is the overanxious hypochondriac. Mimi is the laissez-faire soccer Mom extraordinaire. Lastly, Callie is the youngest and the wanderer whom, as of late, has been on one of her famous disappearing acts. The three finally converge at their Martha’s Vineyard home and, finally, are forced to confront the tragedy from their childhood that has plagued them all for years.

The characters in this novel are well thought out and unique, as well as realistic and flawed. This novel has great style, flow and is very easy to read. I was overjoyed when the format on my E-reader copy was clear, and I could easily engage.

Thank you to Netgalley and the Lake Union Publishing for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

Categories: book review, books, family, fiction, friendships, Lake Union Publishing, Nancy Star, NetGalley, Review, Women's Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jerry’s Madness by W.W. Rowe

21488312Jerry’s Madness by W.W. Rowe is the second book in the series.  In this book, Jerry is having issues keeping his anger under control, but what 11 year old doesn’t have that problem. He gets his first kiss, deals with his friend being bullied to the point he wants to commit suicide, and learns how to be nice to even his enemies.

Jerry is growing up. He has a friend, Monty that has bullied so much by schoolmates that he tries to kill himself. Jerry was caught kissing his girlfriend and is being teased about it. Jerry comes home one day to find an intruder in his home. He is knocked out into unconsciousness and tied up. Jerry finds out that a man who has been searching for this man ( the assailant) as he has mental problems. Jerry learns much from Wilcox besides leaning “The Look” and how to use it appropriately in this book. He learns about how empathy can make his world a better place to live in.

It is a fast-paced novel that gives the read messages of what bullying can do to a person, how to be forgiving and understanding of others. It is a book of hope. This book, like the first one, has a lot of talk of the Higher Self, meditation and karmic spirituality with his homeless friend Wilcox.

I received this book from Larson Publications via NetGalley for an honest review.

Categories: book review, books, bullying, children, Children's Fiction, friendships, Larson Publications, Middle grade, NetGalley | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

From Depths We Rise by Sarah Rodriguez

28956769From Depths We Rise by Sarah Rodriguez is a story where the author recounts her husband Joel’s battle with cancer, their struggle to conceive, his eventual death, and her attempts at IVF afterward.

Sarah was writing about incredibly emotional experiences but rather than allowing the reader to see her emotion, she told the reader that she was sad, angry, etc. As a reader I did not feel that I was able to experience the emotions with the author.

This book is about a man of faith named Joel and his baby girl Ellis; both of their names mean ‘Jehovah is God’. Joel’s hope was that as a result of every crisis, others would come to believe in Jehovah. It is also about Joel’s wife Sarah, mother to Ellis as well as their son Milo. Sarah and Joel Rodriguez believed that the Lord’s hand was on their family; they never imagined how many and how severe trials could be in their lives. Sarah is a young woman whose life after she married Joel Rodriguez became a roller-coaster ride, from despair to joy, from joy to mourning, from mourning to beauty. She could only have endured through close communion with her Savior and the support of family and close friends. This book may be appreciated by those who are going through severe trials as they may find encouragement. It can also be appreciated by those whose loved ones are going through trials as they may find a way to encourage them. The Lord showed Sarah how to see beauty each time she rose through the ashes of intense pain which speaks volumes for her choice of tenacious faith.

Sarah met the love of her life, Joel Rodriguez, in NYC in 2004, and they were married just over a year later. They were both Christians and had similar hopes as they grew their marriage. This included their desire for children; the natural step they saw toward that goal was to move to Sarah’s home state of Oklahoma. Pregnancy was not something easily obtained by the couple, however, and after various tests, surgery, and medications, they agreed to submit to in vitro fertilization. Before they could begin the IVF process they learned that Joel had cancer, a football-size tumor that engulfed one of his kidneys. Prior to his treatments and surgery, they began IVF procedures so she could have healthy embryos implanted at a better time.

Each step along the way, God was preparing them for the next crisis. They endured what many couldn’t by doing the next right thing, even when their cries were interspersed with screaming, weeping, and asking “why”. The author speaks from her heart with raw vulnerability and authenticity. She doesn’t sugarcoat the challenges in their lives, nor does she seek pity. She has determined to tell their story.

This very well-written story of the Rodriguez family will inspire and encourage readers, although one might keep a box of tissues nearby. I highly recommend ‘From Depths We Rise’ to readers and church libraries. Whatever one is going through, this book will ultimately bring hope in the God who brings us beauty from the ashes of our lives.

I received this book from Barbour Publishing, Inc. and Shiloh Run Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Barbour Publishing, Bible, biography, book review, books, Christian, death, devotional, family, friendships, From Depths We Rise, inspiration, literature, love, memoir, NetGalley, pregnancy, Relationships, Review, Sarah Rodriguez, Shiloh Run Press | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Christmas Secret by Wanda E. Brunstetter

28956754The Christmas Secret by Wanda E. Brunstetter is a wonderful Christmas Novella to get the reader in the holiday/Christmas mood.This book is the perfect example of how a lie can have devastating consequences many years later. Beautiful story of how a God hears and answers our prayers. Don’t miss this one, as you will not be disappointed.

The Christmas Secret is set in 1880 and the town sounds simply enchanting in its simplicity. The little cabin they plan to live in for sentimental reasons intrigues others but many of them don’t understand their decision. They know they could live in a more modern cabin. They plan to marry there as well even though her best friend, Helen, doesn’t think it is a wise choice. Unfortunately for the happy couple, Elizabeth discovers her aunt’s secret diary as she is cleaning the cabin and when she reads it, she finds a horrible, horrible truth that means she can never marry David. In her shock and grief, she hastily writes a letter to David to cancel their marriage and flees without even talking with him first. He is confused and upset and all he wants is to find her and bring her home for their wedding. He may never find her though and when he does, the secret may indeed end their chance of a lifetime of married bliss together. But David isn’t giving up on this beautiful, wonderful young woman and God isn’t giving up on either of them. If only Elizabeth would trust God to shape their future.

This is the perfect time of year to spend time reading The Christmas Secret as we approach the Christmas holiday. Of course, any time of year is the right time to read books in my opinion, but I love to read Christmas books at this time of year. Wanda has tackled this historical fiction piece with as much style and grace as she does with her Amish works. The story has a shocking element that leads to a mystery for David as he searches to bring his bride-to-be home. I love a good shocking bit of a mystery when I read and I think that other readers will enjoy it too.

I received this book from Barbour Publishing, Inc. and Shiloh Run Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Categories: Barbour Publishing, Bible, book review, books, Christian, christian fiction, culture, family, friendships, historical fiction, history, inspiration, love, NetGalley, Shiloh Run Press, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Women's Fiction | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Biggest Poutine in the World by Andrée Poulin

cover77777-mediumThe Biggest Poutine in the World by Andrée Poulin is a cute, enjoyable, surprisingly emotional book about poutine and a world record attempt. I wish that the book had not ended so abruptly but it has a fantastic message and sympathetic and well-developed characters.

Our hero is twelve year old Thomas. His Mom disappeared on his fifth birthday. Dad has become withdrawn. Thomas feels abandoned. He develops a plan to put together the biggest poutine in the world in the hope that the attention that will draw will somehow lure his Mom back into his life. Three things gave me pause.

The book is loaded with sympathetic, supportive, decent real people who help and guide Thomas in the right direction. Thomas has a best friend, Sam, who is a real kid but is in fact a best friend. Thomas is extorted into taking on lonely Elie as a poutine project partner, and she turns out to be a lively, no-nonsense breath of fresh air. Sam’s Mom, the city’s mayor, Elie’s Mom, and even the French Fry Guy are all adults who can see what’s going on and provide gentle guidance and support. Finally, even Dad shows some spine. The effect of all of this is never sappy; it’s upbeat and kind.

Thomas is insightful and the tale is told with great humor. As to Thomas, who narrates, we get a kid who may not be “real”, but he feels real. I would suspect almost any middle grade reader would like and identify with this kid, which is most of the battle right there. Thomas has been dealt a bad hand, (his sense of abandonment, misplaced guilt, and anger is palpable, but he soldiers on pretty gamely and you root for him to get it together when his resolve wavers.

And, there is some very funny stuff that keeps us out of grim and depressing territory. The whole poutine project is a goof. Thomas and Sam have some great exchanges. Elie has a dry and deadpan style that keeps Thomas honest. A subplot involving the mayor’s parrot, (don’t ask), adds some slapstick. And behind it all you sense an author with a great command of the light and the dark and a good sense of how to ration them both out.

The upshot is that this is an honest, entertaining and very engaging story that I think would challenge, amuse and possibly touch a young reader. That’s a nice combination.

I received this book from Annick Press via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Categories: Adventure, Andrée Poulin, Annick Press, book review, books, children, Children's Fiction, Children's literature, family, fiction, friendships, funny, literature, NetGalley, Review, The Biggest Poutine in the World | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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