Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Blog Tour & Giveaway for Honey Girl: the Hawaiian Monk Seal


Illustrated by Shennen Bersani
Publisher’s Synopsis: Hawaiian locals and visitors always enjoy spotting endangered Hawaiian monk seals, but Honey Girl is an extra special case. She has raised seven pups, and scientists call her Super Mom. After Honey Girl is injured by a fishhook, she gets very sick. Scientists and veterinarians work to save Honey Girl until she can be released back to her beach. This true story will have readers captivated to learn more about this endangered species.
Ages 5-8 | Publisher: Arbordale Publishing | February 10, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1628559224
Barnes and Noble


Have you ever been to the beach and watched the sea life? Perhaps you've been to an aquarium or a park like Sea World and seen the animals there. In Hawaii, residents and tourists can observe the Hawaiian monk seals come up onto the beach to raise their pups each year. The most famous of these seals is Honey Girl, and this book tells her story.

The themes of conservation, protection of endangered wildlife, and man's impact on the environment are present in the book, but they are more of a subtext and do not detract from the main events. Everyone's efforts to save Honey Girl - the surfers who first reported sighting her in danger, the marine mammal experts who found her, those who were part of the teams that provided health care and rehabilitation - are all included in the narrative.

The illustrations transport readers to the islands with scenes of beautiful blue ocean, colorful fish and tropical clothing. Honey Girl is featured in every spread, but there are also sea birds, turtles, fish, whales and coral to show her habitat. The people at the beach are depicted in a variety of activities like kite surfing, paddle boarding, and sailing.

Extra information in the back matter explains the life cycle of Hawaiian monk seals, fun facts about them, and about conservation efforts. An inset map shows the locations that scientists know Honey Girl visited after her rescue (due to the tracker she wore). There is even an activity that asks readers to sequence the events in the story.

Readers who enjoy narrative nonfiction, especially animal stories in that genre (think Winter's Tale or Bella and Tarra), will have a new favorite in Honey Girl. Great for elementary school classrooms and libraries.


Jeanne Walker Harvey is the author of several award-winning books, including Astro: The Steller Sea Lion and My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey. She’s been a language arts teacher and currently gives school tours at a local museum. Jeanne lives near the Golden Gate Bridge in California and walks by the bay every day looking for sea lions. She writes with her gray tabby cat sitting on the desk next to her.



To Celebrate The Release Of Honey Girl: The Hawaiian Monk Seal, Enter To Win A 2 Book Autographed Prize Pack From Award-Winning Author Jeanne Walker Harvey, Plus 2 Plush Animals.
One (1) grand prize winner receives:
  • A copy of Honey Girl: The Hawaiian Monk Seal, autographed by Jeanne Walker Harvey
  • A copy of Astro: The Steller Sea Lion, autographed by Jeanne Walker Harvey
  • Two (2) plush toy animals
Age Range: 5-8
Hardcover: 32 pages
Giveaway begins February 22, 2017, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends March 22, 2017, at 11:59 P.M. MT.
Giveaway open to US addresses only.
Prizes and samples provided by Jeanne Walker Harvey.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


This post was created in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Jeanne Walker Harvey for the Honey Girl Blog Tour & Giveaway.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 A Crack in the Sea


This isn't a book I would have picked for myself, but it was part of the Penguin Young Readers Author Program and so I gave it a try. As usual, the folks who choose the books for the program were right. Bouwman has created a fantasy world that intersects with ours in remarkable ways. The second world (as it is called), is a cast watery place with a few islands, a large floating nation known as the Raftworld, and even Krakens. People from our world cross over through portals that appear during storms or in whirlpools out at sea. Some of the people who figure prominently in the story are from our world. One group crosses over in 1781, after begin thrown overboard from the slaveship Zong. Another group is pulled into a maelstrom after fleeing from South Vietnam in 1978. And then there are the characters from Raftworld and the Tathen Islands in the second world.

Through the magic of storytelling, the author weaves all these tales together into a whole. There are kidnappings, rescues, magical powers, pirates, sea monsters, quests, and even Amelia Earhart! Readers will have plenty of action and suspense, some humor, family loyalty, and new friends to keep their attention. A captivating ride of historical fantasy adventure.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 My Best Friend is a Viral Dancing Zombie


Fans of Frostbite Hotel, rejoice! Karin Adams has created another winning story. This one is also set in school, but deals mainly with friendship and all its ups and downs. Riley and Finn are best friends and have fun making stop action videos at Riley's house. But when a class film competition is announced, Riley sees the chance to become an award-winning filmmaker. Some accidental fame for Finn seems to have distracted his friend from helping to win the competition and Riley is not happy. How can he complete his film on time, save his friendship with Finn, and survive his sister's wrath for mutilating her Magic Rainbow Riders (pony figures)?

Anyone who has ever tried to complete a group project knows how hard it can be to get everyone working together and giving their best effort. Add the pressure of competition for a class award, jealousy over attention from a cute girl, and other frustrations - and you have a situation ready to careen out of control. Finn's zombie dance craze and Riley's obsession with the video become a clash of the titans, much like their video plot's clash between the zombies and the giant lizard. There is plenty of humor and very realistic scenes of school life, with classmates trying to ingratiate themselves with the viral dance star, issues over files on shared computers, body spray, and teasing about boyfriends and girlfriends.

Doodles along the pages make the story seem like something in an actual class notebook, while the pages of script and to-do lists break up the text and add variety. Perfect for fans of Wimpy Kid or Big Nate.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Winter Reading 2017 The Amazing Adventures of Ellie the Elephant: Ellie Camps under the Stars


Youngsters who enjoy making up stories with their own stuffed animals will feel right at home reading about Ellie and Pudgy. The two plush friends have starred in several previous books, and now they are having a camping adventure. Readers will laugh at the issues the pair have getting their tent set up, and then feel a little jealous of how cozy it looks. Different aspects of a camping experience including cooking out, looking at the stars, hiking, and seeing wildlife are included. Through it all the two friends try new things, starting off with a short hike and then taking a much longer one the next day where they even explore behind a waterfall.

The scenes have plenty of details to look for and talk about with small children who have not had the chance to go camping yet, or who would like to reminisce over a trip they have taken. There are also questions on some of the pages to encourage discussion and get readers to pay careful attention. At the end of the story there are games to play and a list of suggestions for ways to respect nature. 

This would make a good book to take along on a family camping or hiking trip. It might also inspire some of those who have been making up adventures for their own stuffed animals to begin staging some of the scenes and taking photos. They could make their own books, or perhaps share a photo on Ellie and Pudgy's Facebook page ( Recommended for preK - 1st grade.

I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Winter Reading 2017 Rice & Rocks


Have you ever worried that your family will embarrass you in front of your friends? Most of us have that feeling at one time or another. For Giovanni, it is the fear that his friends won't like 'rice and rocks" when they visit for Sunday dinner. The food is actually rice and beans, which is a traditional Jamaican dish prepared by his grandmother. Giovanni tells his Auntie that he wants his grandmother to cook something else. With the help of his special pet, Jasper, Giovanni and Auntie are able to visit the countries that his friends' families are from and see what some of their traditional dishes are like. Can you guess how the story ends?

Young readers will easily empathize with Giovanni over his concerns. It is hard sometimes to see the value in traditions when they have always been around, and easy to worry that others may not understand or approve. No one wants to be embarrassed in front of their friends. Parents and teachers can use this  book to help show that no matter how different our backgrounds, we all have things in common (like rice and beans, for example). The story makes it fun to learn about the culture of others by having Giovanni and Auntie shrink to a tiny size and fly on the back of Jasper the parrot to Puerto Rico, Japan, and New Orleans. They also get to meet the state or national birds of each place they visit.

Once readers have enjoyed the story, they will probably wish that they had a parrot like Jasper to take them exploring. Since pets like that are hard to find, they may wish for Giovanni to be in other books so they can share more of his adventures instead. Recommended for ages 5+.

I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 Argyle Fox


Alexander had the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Now Argyle Fox has, well, the same sort of day. But he doesn't decide to move to Australia, just to never play outside again. And who can blame him? No matter what he tries to do, the wind ruins it. He can't build a house of cards. He can't pretend he's a spider in a web. He can't do anything fun, so he is "never playing in the wind ever, ever, EVER again!" But when his mother encourages him to give it some thought and come up with something that he could play on a windy day, "Huzzah!"

Argyle is determined, spirited, and very imaginative in his games. He just needs to take the weather conditions into account. I'm sure many readers know how it feels to have the wind or some other outside force seem to wreck all the best plans. Letourneau's illustrations bring this frustrated little fox to whimsical life. Whether he is role playing in armor outside a cardboard castle, sporting a newspaper pirate hat and carrying a skull and crossbones flag, or looking dapper in his knee socks and soccer cleats, he gives all his favorite games a try. And when he sits down to think, I love the meditative pose with his legs crossed and his eyes closed. 

This is a character who does not believe in half measures. His persistence and ability to overcome the obstacle that the wind poses to his outdoor fun will be an inspiration to readers of all ages. Highly recommended!

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley (after seeing a copy at ALAMW17 and falling in love with the adorable little fox).

Monday, February 13, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 Be Light Like a Bird


The title of this book comes from a quote by Paul Valery, a French poet (among other accomplishments), and appears in the bird watching journal of the protagonist, Wren. The journal was a gift from her father, with whom Wren enjoyed going birding and recording their discoveries. Little does she know that the quote will have great applicability to her life when her father dies in a plane crash. Suddenly it seems that Wren is like a feather caught in a wind determined to tumble her around willy-nilly. While Wren wants time to grieve for her father, her mother gets rid of all his things and then packs the car and takes Wren up the interstate looking for a new life. A few weeks in one place, a few weeks in another, and then a third move lands them in the U.P. of Michigan. Wren decides it is time to be more of a bird, plotting her own course, rather than a windblown feather. Readers will sympathize with her desire to put down some roots and return to a more normal life.

I really enjoyed the theme of flight in all its different appearances in the story. There is the flight of the birds that Wren goes back to watching, even though it is not the same without Dad. Her mother's migration north from their home in Georgia to the town of Pyramid, Michigan is another kind of flight - leaving behind bad memories and looking for a fresh start. Her father's flying lessons lead to his fatal flight and an Icarus-like crash into the sea. And there are also the ways in which Wren and Theo, the boy from her class, choose to spread their wings and take on the cause of saving their bird-watching pond from becoming an extension of the town's landfill.

Wren and Theo are great characters, with enough in common to develop a friendship, but enough differences to keep things interesting. The sympathetic adults in town like Mrs. Russo the librarian, or Mr. Leroy at the health food store add to the story with their support and warmth. Randle Redbird is probably the most intriguing adult with his mix of Chippewa heritage, Buddhist philosophy, and owning the local junk yard "Where cars come to die." 

This is a story of a grieving child, but it involves so many other things like friendship, being the new kid, civic action, and standing up for yourself. Any middle grade reader who enjoys realistic fiction with memorable characters and a strong female protagonist will find Be Light Like a Bird a story that they will fly through.

I received a copy from the author for review purposes.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Winter Reading 2017 The Nian Monster


Anyone looking for multicultural books to add to their collections - this is one your children, students, or patrons will enjoy. In a display of cleverness reminiscent of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, the little heroine of the story, Xingling, outwits the Nian Monster and avoids being eaten up. When the monster appears during the preparations for Chinese New Year, Xingling comes up with one trick after another to prevent him from turning her into "a tasty appetizer." And while we watch and read about each of her plans, we also see the details of the festival going on around her. Everything from red decorations, fire crackers, long-life noodles, rice cakes, and dragon dancers fill the pages with color and life. 

The author's note explains the legend of the Nian Monster, and the traditions of Chinese New Year. Descriptions of the foods eaten during the celebration and other cultural tidbits help to answer questions that young readers may have after reading the story. The artwork has an anime feel to it that will also appeal to youngsters.

Winter Reading 2017 If You Were the Moon


Laura Purdie Salas is an author that I trust to deliver a quality book, and she does not disappoint in this latest endeavor. Her descriptions of the moon are accurate and yet whimsical at the same time. She has the moon correcting a child who says, "I wish I could do exactly nothing, just like you." So the moon spends the rest of the book explaining what it is so busy doing all the time - spinning (rotating), playing peek-a-boo (changing phases), pulling at the oceans (causing tides), etc. The illustrations complete the book in that wonderful synergy that happens in the best picture book pairings. Jaime Kim's beautiful pictures show the moon in a tutu pirouetting through space, playing dodgeball with space rocks, or lighting the way as baby sea turtles crawl back to the ocean after they hatch. Together, the author and illustrator convey astronomy facts (both in the main text and in side notes) and capture the mystery and allure of the moon at the same time.

A perfect introduction to the topic for young readers, and an excellent example of descriptive writing for middle grade readers.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.