Sunday, November 19, 2017

Fall Reading 2017 Hidden Women: The African-American Mathematicians of NASA Who Helped America Win the Space Race


With the box office success of "Hidden Figures" and the demand for more books such as Hidden Human Computers (by Duchess Harris), it is not surprising to see that publishers have stepped up to fulfill the need. Hidden Women tells the story of six African-American women who worked with NASA and its predecessor NACA, to help win the Space Race. Their stories are interwoven with historical events such as Gagarin's first orbit of the Earth, Civil Rights sit-ins, and JFK's dream to have America be the first to land a man on the moon.

Katherine Johnson, Miriam Mann (grandmother of Duchess Harris), Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Annie Easley, and Christine Darden are included in this discussion of the role African-American women played in the country's space program. Through the details of their careers, readers learn of the many challenges facing these women. While other workers were given paid leave to attend college, or received funds from NASA to pay their tuition, these ladies had to take unpaid leave and find their own way to finance college degrees. Even if they did have degrees, they were still assigned to pools of workers, rather than being given the same pay and projects that the white men at NASA enjoyed. There were also segregation issues such as not being allowed to live in the dorms on base, having to sit at separate tables in the lunchroom, or use separate restrooms. 

Despite all the negative aspects of their jobs, these women still accomplished remarkable things. Some calculated trajectories to safely get astronauts to the moon and back again, others plotted out the safe rendezvous between two spacecraft or made rockets flying with extremely volatile fuel safe to use. Some tested aircraft and spacecraft designs in wind tunnels, or developed new computer code to use with the FORTRAN they had already learned. They all exceeded the expectations of everyone around them in the work place, proving that women and people from diverse racial backgrounds were just as capable as the white men on the job.

A final chapter visits with three women who are currently working in the space industry and contrasts their experiences with those of the early pioneers like Johnson and Easley. Back matter includes a timeline, glossary, bibliography, source notes, and index. There is a list of books for those who wish to read more about the topic, and also critical thinking questions that would be useful for a book group or class book study. The archival photos throughout the book show all the featured women, as well as several of the astronauts and rockets mentioned.

Recommended for middle grades and up.

Fall Reading 2017 A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks out for Women's Rights


If you are looking for nonfiction read-alouds to introduce events and historical figures to young readers, add this book to your collection. Belva Lockwood was a determined woman and fought for parity and justice all her life. Whether is was the unfairness of female teachers receiving half the pay of male teachers, girls and women being denied entry to law school, or female lawyers being unable to argue cases in court, Belva was convinced that things needed to change. 

Kate Hannigan has written an account of Belva's life that highlights the battles she fought for equality. Sprinkled throughout the book are quotes from Belva's letters and speeches so that her authentic voice comes through. Alison Jay's crackle finish artwork fits so well with the text that is is hard to imagine anyone else doing the illustrations. The folk art style captures the setting of Belva's struggles in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. 

There are pages devoted to her days as a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse, her work with Susan B. Anthony, and her appeal to President Grant to receive her law school diploma. Illustrations show the fashions of the times, early bicycles with their enormous front wheels, the backless benches used in school rooms, and other period details.

Back matter includes an archival photo of Belva, an author's note, a timeline, bibliography, and source notes. This is a wonderful book to use when studying the suffrage movement, Women's History Month, or American historical figures in general.

I received an advance copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2017 Lunchbox Words


Author Tracey West has written hundreds of books; you may recognize the name from the covers of Pokemon chapter books, the Dragon Masters series, or Pixie Tricks. But you may not know that she has a book designed to help your child master spelling words and increase their vocabulary. Put together as a collection of fun notes that can be torn out and slipped into a lunchbox, each page has a message on the front that features a spelling word. On the back of the page is listed the pronunciation, part of speech, definition, and often some tips on how to remember the correct spelling. Some pages feature a quote from a famous person that uses the word, other pages have "punny" jokes and riddles. Here's one - "Why do so many teachers use whiteboards? They're really re-markable!" 

Whether you want to use the book to supply you with lunchtime notes, or prefer to give the entire book to a child who could use some spelling encouragement, it is well thought out and has very good strategies to help with tricky words straight from the Scripps National Spelling Bee. So pick up a copy and start sharing the vocabulary love.

Fall Reading 2017 Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!


Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hard-Core Lady Types. The campers in Roanoke cabin (April, Ripley, Jo, Mal, and Molly), are ready for adventure. While working on their Living the Plant Life Badge, they discover a field full of unicorns near a strange pink and purple mountain. And when the girls decide to climb the mountain and earn an Extraordinary Explorer Medal, things really get crazy. That's right, crazier than wearing a live raccoon on your head the way Molly does. Even crazier than unicorns smelling "like sweat sock stew." So prepare to be taken for a ride that includes things like the Sound of Muesli badge, accordion music, and inventions for toasting multiple marshmallows over a campfire. The girls all have their own style and strengths - inventing, leading, enthusiasm, etc. - but they all know the first rule of Lumberjanes; "Friendship to the max!"

For those looking for diversity and LGBTQ titles, Unicorn Power includes a camper named Barney who were previously a Scouting Lad, but "being a Lumberjane was a WAY better fit because Barney did not feel like they were a lad." (Barney uses they rather than he or she.) And Jo has two dads, who have made her a wonderful workshop for all her tinkering an inventing. The dads are mentioned a couple of times, but not do not appear as characters in the story.

Recommended for middle grades and up. I received an ARC in a giveaway by the publisher.

Fall Reading 2017 Bound By Ice: A True North Pole Survival Story


Have you ever wondered about the explorers who tried to find the North Pole before Henson and Peary succeeded? This book takes you on an adventure of over two years as the crew of the Jeannette tried to reach the top of the world. In the days after the end of the Civil War, the Navy helped to set up an expedition sponsored by a wealthy newspaper tycoon. The crew packed supplies - including telephone and telegraph wires and electric light bulbs (from Edison himself) - and planned to return within a year and share all the knowledge they had gained with the world. Instead, the new inventions could not be made to work, their ship was trapped in ice, and they were pushed further and further from land and any hope of rescue. Read all about the emergencies, the celebrations, the fights between polar bears and sled dogs, and everything else the crew endured in their efforts to get back home to their loved ones.

Filled with excerpts from the journals of the captain and crew, along with newspaper clippings and photos, this detailed account of the expedition is supported by the primary sources worked into the text. Back matter includes an author's note, bibliography, source notes, and picture credits. Perfect for fans of the I Survived... series. Recommended for middle grades and up.

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Fall Reading 2017 The Blue Pool of Questions


Those looking for cultural diversity in children's books will be glad to discover this title. It is written by "an award-winning Palestinian novelist, poet, and children's book writer." The illustrator "won an Etisalat Award for best illustration for the Palestinian edition" of the book. And the translator is a Palestinian-American photographer. 

All credentials aside, the book tells the story of a man who comes to a city where he doesn't fit in. Everyone thinks he is odd because "He sang strange tunes. Dried flowers fell from his sleeves. Books slept inside his coat like shoes in a closet." The city dwellers are too busy to deal with someone so different, especially with all his questions that gather into a big blue pool in the streets. "They knew everyday answers so well that they had forgotten what questions looked like, and the pool of questions frightened them." Isn't that what most people do? They are so busy with their everyday lives that they forget to sing a song or arrange flowers or ask questions, and when someone else does those things, it is unnerving and makes them uncomfortable. The ending illustration with the man a part of a starry constellation leaves us with the admonition "to ask more questions, throw them into the blue pool, be brave, and dive in."

In a funny twist, I was thinking that the lyrical text reminded me of Naomi Shihab-Nye's writing. When I went to Amazon to post a review, I saw that Naomi was quoted in the editorial review section for the book. She recommends giving "it to all your friends, big and little." Good idea.

Fall Reading 2017 My First Book of Soccer: A Rookie Book: Mostly Everything Explained About the Game


Sports are not my thing. When my knee gives me trouble, I let everyone know that it is a marching band injury. But the Sports Illustrated Kids Rookie Books make sports easy to understand for everyone. My First Books of Soccer begins with a description of team size, the object of the game, and a diagram of the field. Photographs of players and officials are used to illustrate each concept that is discussed. Two cartoon kids comment on things they notice and make jokes. One says, "Dribble? Here, take a bib." The other replies, "Oh, sheesh."Speech bubbles are added to the photographs to create even more humor. In a spread showing a player taking a shot at the goal, she thinks "I hope I don't stub my toe" and the goalie thinks, "I hope she stubs her toe." Or when a player fouls another she says, "Sorry! My bad!" and the player who was fouled says, "So not cool!"

A set of these books would be constantly checked out in a library setting, since even those who don't have an ambition to play the spot will still enjoy the funny characters and speech or thought bubbles. It might be an interesting activity to read some of the books in class, and then have students create their own guide books - complete with the additional bubble comments. 

If you have a young reader that is into sports and enjoys learning the rules and playing positions, then find this series for them. You will score for sure!

Fall Reading 2017 Revolutionary Rogues: John Andre and Benedict Arnold


Looking for a great piece of writing to compare and contrast two characters? Look no further - Revolutionary Rogues does just that. Read along as the bruised pride and and disappointment of Benedict Arnold lead him to betray his country. See how he schemes and plots, even tricking his own men into becoming British prisoners. And in comparison, see the loyal British officer Major John Andre as he deals with Arnold to try and end the war. While Arnold manages to escape to safety with the British, Andre is not so lucky.

There are many points that can be discussed as this story is read. What are the motivations of each man? Were they correct in the way they acted? The name of Benedict Arnold has become synonymous with a traitor; is that historically accurate? Should General Washington have listened to the pleas of Sir Henry? Which of the men was the bravest and why? What would you have done in their place?

After this brief introduction to the time period, young readers may begin looking for more information about the Revolutionary War and the figures on both sides. 

A good addition to library and classroom collections about the time period. Great for personal reading or a read-aloud to a class.

Fall Reading 2017 Recess Warriors: Hero Is a Four-letter Word


Does it ever seem to you that a school playground is its own little world? Well, actually, it is many small worlds side by side and sometimes they overlap. Scrap just wants to defend the meek from having their lunch money stolen, but when zombiefying cooties get loose in the yard, he calls for help. His best friend Yoshi has mad jumprope skills (imagine Jackie Chan with a rope in "Shanghai Noon"), and Clinton leaves the Badlands (his side of the yard), to lend a hand. But even if they survive the zombie apocalypse, there is always another threat out there. It might be the pirates from the Wreck Yard kidnapping Yoshi, or perhaps the strange group of kids who always play house have wandered into the wrong area. You just never know. 

With all the entertaining groups out there - cowboys, pirates, superheroes, etc. - and the complicated relationships between the main characters, readers must pay close attention to make sure they don't miss important clues about what is really going on. Does Scrap see Yoshi as a sidekick or a best friend? What happened between Scrap and Clinton to end their friendship? Who is the Pirate Capt'n? Where did the cooties of doom come from?

The action is nonstop and cleverly blends the real playground with the imagined landscapes of the different groups. Each character is distinctive and unique, whether it is Juliet and her perfect hair or Clinton with his cowboy hat and John Wayne accent. And the kids have all this fun without any devices or technology - pure power of imagination.

Great for graphic novel fans of Doug Ten Napel or similar creators.

Fall Reading 2017 Monster Itch: Ghost Attack


David Lubar is known for his often wacky and offbeat sense of humor in books like Attack of the Vampire Weenies or Beware the Ninja Weenies. This time he has a chapter book perfect for middle grade readers who want fun with a little ghostly action and not too many pages. Monster Itch: Ghost Attack tells the story of Alex and his cousin Sarah as they visit their grandparents' new home. Alex's mom is a doctor, so she is extra careful of his health, but even she could never have imagined that Alex would develop allergies during his visit - allergies to ghosts!

I have weekly allergy shots, so I know what living with allergies can be like. But poor Alex has it much worse than I do. When the ghost comes near him the symptoms begin, and before long his arms are "bathed in an itch so fierce it felt like I'd tried to embrace a bonfire." As it turns out, the ghost has a mystery that he needs help solving before he can rest in peace, so he has chosen Alex and Sarah to help find the truth. Their explorations take them around the house, into the barn, and even into town to visit the historical society. Can two kids really solve a bank robbery that happened long before they were born?

Along with the humor and haunting, there are also some lessons to be learned about making assumptions and judging someone before you know all the facts. A quick, fun read.

Fall Reading 2017 Garvey's Choice


Nikki Grimes just continues to amaze me, although by now I expect it to happen. In Garvey's Choice, she tells the story of an overweight boy whose father pressures him to try sports when he would rather read. It is a novel in verse, using the tanka form. Some pages have a single tanka, others have several which serve as separate stanzas. The book is from Garvey's point of view, so readers know his thoughts and feelings as kids at school call him names, his father complains to his mother about his lack of interest in football, and even his sister calls him "Chocolate Chunk" or "Sweet Chunk." But he has his friend Joe, and then he meets a new kid at school named Manny and they become friends, too.

The poetry captures the impressions of each moment perfectly.
"Over breakfast, Dad
eyes me like an alien
never seen before.
Sometimes,  I swear that he's
hoping to make first contact."

Highly recommended for middle grade readers and up. At once a story of growing up, finding yourself, and also finding a way to connect and learning that maybe connection is what your parent was after all along.

I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dynomike: Magical Space Giveaway Tour


Enter to win an autographed copy of Dynomike: Magical Space, signed by Frankie B. Rabbit, and a $100 Amazon gift card.
One (1) grand prize winner receives:
  • A copy of Dynomike: Magical Space, signed by Frankie B. Rabbit
  • A $100 Amazon gift card
Four (4) winners receive:
  • A copy of Dynomike: Magical Space, signed by Frankie B. Rabbit
Age Range: 4 and up
Paperback: 58 pages
Giveaway begins November 6, 2017, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends December 6, 2017, at 11:59 P.M. MT.
Giveaway open to international mailing addresses and residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.
Prizes provided by Frankie B. Rabbit


Dynomike: Magical Space 

Written by Frankie B. Rabbit
Illustrated by Don Suratos
Publisher’s Synopsis: Dynomike’s day is off to a rough start, and it only seems to be getting worse by the minute. A series of early-morning mishaps and nearly being late for school leaves him stressed and worried that the entire day will be a disaster. Luckily, the bus driver senses Dynomike’s distress and gives him a magic tool to calm down, refocus, and start thinking his way to a better day.
All of us have bad days from time to time. But Dynomike “Magical Space” uses engaging illustrations and fun language to teach kids how to be mindful and shift their thinking to ease stress in any situation.
Dynomike: Magical Space is available on Amazon.
Ages 4+ | Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform | 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1548097318


Frankie B. Rabbit was an underground rap musician born and raised out of New Jersey. After dragging his rap career longer than it should have, he decided to take his talent’s into writing children’s books. Check out some of his latest work:


The Children's Book Review
Word Spelunking
Tales of A Wanna-Be SuperHero Mom
The Fairview Review
Confessions of a Book Addict
My Momma's Heart
icefairy's Treasure Chest
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

The Fairview Review is participating in the blog tour and giveaway in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Frankie B. Rabbit.

Fall Reading 2017 Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win

Arranged chronologically by the year each athlete was born, the profiles in this book show the progression of females being accepted in the world of sports. Of course, it also shows the many obstacles they have had to overcome, and some that are still in place today - like the problem of equal pay. For those looking for role models, women from around the world are included, as well as a wide range of sports. Everything from ice skating, to cricket, to mixed martial arts appears somewhere in the book. And the title is a bit of a misnomer, because there are additional athletes in the book besides the 50 main profiles. Fifteen shorter blurbs are added just before the conclusion, and there are also 4 influential sports teams that are discussed. A couple of infographics cover muscle anatomy, a timeline of sports from the ancient Olympic Games until now, and a spread on pay and media statistics which shows the inequity between the genders. Back matter includes a list of sources, an index, and information about the author.

A good read for young sports enthusiasts, those interested in gender equality, or anyone who enjoys hearing or reading about people who don't accept arbitrary limitations on their dreams. Would be a good addition to any school or classroom library. Visit the publisher's website for more information about the book, or the author.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Fall Reading 2017 Spiders: Strange and Wonderful


For kids who are fascinated with bugs of all sorts, this is a fact-filled book with plenty of detailed illustrations. There are explanations of what type of creatures are in the arachnid group and  the difficulty of finding spider fossils because they don't have skeletons. The book begins with the observation that "As you read these words, there is probably a spider nearby." It is amazing to think that spiders exist on every continent but Antarctica, and the wide variety of sizes, habitats, and adaptations that help them survive around the world are incredible. Everything from trapdoor spiders to diving bell spiders are depicted, along with descriptions of various webs, how spiders lay their eggs, and how they catch their prey. There is also a discussion of arachnophobia, the place of spiders in food chains, and predators that eat spiders.

The watercolor illustrations show the shape of the webs, the various parts of the spider's leg, different arrangements of their eyes, and some of the amazing camouflage (disguised as poop, of all things!). There is a spread that shows a closeup of a spider with all the body parts and their functions described. Back matter includes a glossary, and a list of suggested books and websites to learn more.

Recommended for young naturalists who enjoy narrative descriptions of animals. I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.

Fall Reading 2017 Space Boy and the Snow Monster


Niko takes his copilot Radar (a toy robot) and his faithful dog Tag, to inspect their spaceship which is buried in snow. While they try to dig it out, they notice a Snow Monster and also realize that Radar is missing. Has the snow monster captured him? They get the ship loose and pursue the monster, but it is hard to find Radar in all the snow and ice. (As readers we can see his feet sticking out of a snow drift with a thought bubble, "This is SO NOT the Planet Ice adventure I had in mind...")

The illustrations transition from the backyard to the surface of Planet Ice. We can see that the Snow Monster looks a lot like Niko's sister, Posh - so much so that Tag deserts Niko and lets the monster pet him. A double-page spread shows the ship taking off as the Snow Monster and a Killer Bunny Spy lob dangerous snowballs at them while fierce-looking snowmen glare at the crew. When the ship finally approaches Planet Home, we can see Niko and Tag both concentrating so hard that their tongues are sticking out the corners of their mouths. And as the story ends, we can see the crew inside the warm house while Posh, the bunny, and the snowman are outside the window stockpiling more snowballs. Could our heroes still be in danger?

This is a perfect story for children who enjoy make-believe and outer space. I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes

Fall Reading 2017 Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen


Most of us can remember a time when we were told, "You're not old enough to do that." It didn't matter what it was that we wanted to do, the feeling of being denied was awful. And that is exactly what Jasmine is going through. As preparations are made for the big New Year's celebration with her family, Jasmine is frustrated that she won't get to help make the mochi because it is tradition to wait until you are 10. Her sister Sophie will get to help this year, and her annoying cousin Eddie will be working with the men, but Jasmine will be stuck in the house with the babies unless she can convince her parents that she is old enough to be included. 

If you are looking for a story about families, holiday traditions, and growing up - Jasmine's adventures are a good place to start. The fact that the Toguchi family are Japanese American helps to provide some diversity in chapter books for middle grade readers. Jasmine is an entertaining character and the black & white illustrations bring her to life, showing her dangling from a tree in an effort to strengthen her arms, scowling at her sister, or slinging spaghetti sauce across the dinner table when she stirs her noodles too enthusiastically.

Recommended for readers who enjoy realistic fiction with believable characters.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk Giveaway Tour

WISHAPICK TICKETY BOO AND THE BLACK TRUNK, an acclaimed Middle Grade Fantasy, awaits its MUSICAL DEBUT.
Enter this giveaway in Celebration of Children’s Musical Theater with MM Allen and Deborah Wynne.
Root for Jack! He enters the land of Wishapick through his father’s trunk, and meets his foe O’Sirus. Jack’s thought; Courage I need some!
One (1) winner receives the grand prize:
  • An autographed copy of Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk
  • A CD of the Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk soundtrack
  • An Echo Dot
Value: $73.77
One (1) winner receives:
  • An autographed copy of Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk
  • A CD of the Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk soundtrack
Giveaway open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.
Prizes provided by M. M. Allen and Deborah Wynne.


Written by M. M. Allen
Highly praised classic fairy tale Wishapick, Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk written by author M. M. Allen; and a CD of Wishapick Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk soundtrack composed by the talented Deborah Wynne. Moonbeam Gold Medal Award and 5 Star Readers Favorite.
Darkness -utter blackness. Was this why his mother had refused to let Jack unlock his father’s old trunk? It had been two years since his dad had died, and all Jack could think about was examining whatever treasures were stored inside the beloved trunk. But when he finally lifted the lid, he didn’t just fall in-he fell through it into a pit of rattlesnakes!
Trying to recall his mother’s stories about the Breath of All Good Things – anything to help him out of his dangerous predicament – Jack wished he had paid attention rather than mock the tales as childish myths… and that he’d waited to enter the trunk with his sister, Lilly. They could at least face this together.
“… a breathy and fantastical storytelling style, imaginations will flourish and the tale will be enjoyed by kids ages 8-12 who enjoy the genre of fantasy.”—The Children’s Book Review
Wishapick: Tickety Boo and the Black Trunk is available on Amazon.
Ages 8-13 | CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform | 2015 | 978-1508437178

About M. M. Allen

M.M. Allen author of the acclaimed children’s picture book Let’s Play Ball is the mother of two adult children and aunt to twenty-three nieces and nephews, including ten great-nieces and great-nephews. MM is a former teacher. She has also worked extensively in marketing and communications with varied businesses, including Walt Disney’s Buena Vista records, as well as several non-profits. MM lives in a picturesque northern California town where she enjoys writing, tending to her rose garden, and caring for her West Highland terriers, Pip & Peaches.

About Deborah Wynne

MM Allen collaborated with composer Deborah Wynne, who created a companion CD of songs to accompany the novel. Wynne’s primary interests lie in choral singing, and song composition. Her musical projects include the 2013 album Strands of Gold and 2007 musical Moment of Truth. For many years, Deborah sang with the well-known a cappella ensemble, Quire of Voices. She also sang with the female quartet, Champagne. She continues as an active singer and composer in Santa Barbara, California, where she lives with her husband and their sheltie Gracie.


The Children's Book Review
Nonperfect Parenting
To Read, or Not To Read
A Dream Within A Dream
icefairy's Treasure Chest
Word Spelunking
Crafty Moms Share
Tales of A Wanna-Be SuperHero Mom
The Fairview Review
LitPick Student Book Reviews

The Fairview Review is participating in this blog tour and giveaway in partnership with The Children’s Book Review, M. M. Allen and Deborah Wynne.