Sunday, October 29, 2017

Fall Reading 2017 Stella Diaz Has Something to Say


For middle grade readers of realistic fiction, Stella Diaz is a wonderful character. She is smart, but shy. She worries over speaking in front of others because her words come out wrong sometimes, even though she has been in speech class for three years. Part of her confusion comes from the different sounds that letters make in Spanish and in English; even though her family moved to Chicago from Mexico City when she was very young, those sounds are still giving her trouble in the third grade. Another problem is that her best friend Jenny is in another homeroom this year, so she doesn't have that support and isn't sure how to make new friends. Of course, there is always someone unkind at school and that happens to be Jessica, who teases Stella and says she is weird or stupid.

Slowly, as the year goes by, Stella makes other friends to sit with at lunch, and even overcomes her shyness enough to talk to the new boy in class without turning bright red. Along the way we get to see her wonderful home life with a loving big brother and mom, her talent as an artist and a writer, and her attempts to speak up for herself. The final project of the year with its 5-minute presentation in front of the class offers the chance to show off her newfound confidence and let everyone hear what she has to say.

This book has many components that make it a great choice for middle grade readers. The topics of immigration, single-parent homes, teasing, and friendship are all blended into the story in a realistic and organic way. Stella is shown as a character with both strengths and weaknesses, and we can see her work to overcome her shyness and fear of public speaking while sharing her talents as an artist and writer with her family and friends. The depiction of a bilingual household is not exaggerated for comic effect, but shows a family with its own unique background and how that cultural heritage comes through in their daily lives.

Altogether a satisfying book that would work well as an independent read or as a read-aloud. I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Fall Reading 2017 The Trials of Morrigan Crow (Nevermoor, #1)


I've seen blurbs saying that fans of Harry Potter or The Mysterious Benedict Society would like this, and I can see where they are coming from in that recommendation. I would add the Charlie Bone series, since it also deals with children who are talented and recruited or trained. The idea of cursed children who are born on a certain day and always die before their twelfth birthday is very sad, and readers may have a hard time imagining how one of those children could even try to enjoy their life knowing when it would end. Morrigan is one of those children, but she is saved at the last minute and whisked off to Nevermoor. There, her patron Jupiter North enters her in the trials to become a member of the Wundrous Society. There are nearly 500 candidates, which are slowly eliminated from the competition as each trial comes. By the end of the year, only 9 will be given membership into the Society, and Morrigan is convinced that she will not be one of them. 

As readers, we get to experience all the amazement that Morrigan feels as she enters Nevermoor and takes up residence in the Hotel Deucalion. The hotel itself is amazing and magical; for instance, Morrigan's room changes as it gets to know her and adds details to make it feel like home. There is the Brolly Rail where commuters hang onto loops with their umbrellas and then jump off at their stop and float down to the ground with their umbrella acting as a sort of parachute, and don't even get me started on the duel between Father Christmas and the Queen of Yule on Christmas Eve. There are vampire dwarves (at least one), large talking cats, and tons of other odd and exotic creatures. And there is also the Wundersmith that some people say was banished 100 years ago, but may still be causing trouble in Nevermoor, along with the mysterious Mr. Jones who turns up in unexpected places and keeps telling Morrigan that his employer will take her as an apprentice if she decides to change patrons.

Middle grade readers who enjoy tales of fantasy and magical realms should definitely try out the Nevermoor series, beginning with this first book. I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fall Reading 2017 The Hidden Kingdom: The Nocturnals Book 4


In their first appearance (The Mysterious Abductions), three very different animals - Tobin the pangolin, Bismarck the sugar glider, and Dawn the fox- work together to save themselves from a hungry snake on the very first night they meet. That success leads to the formation of the Nocturnal Brigade, with the three new friends ready to help others. Now in their fourth adventure, they are up against a challenge that seems insurmountable. How can a few animals find a way to help all the creatures they know survive a drought? Bismarck's beloved pomelos are scrawny and withered, the watering holes are all drying up, and everyone feels weak and ill. The Brigade barely has the strength to investigate the odd things that are occurring in their valley. There are strange high-pitched noises, sometimes there are faint voices but no one is there, Cora (the wombat) has her den caved in by something. Weirdest of all, it seems the very sticks and plants have come alive to carry off what little water there is and keep the friends from finding it. How can that be possible? 

The Nocturnals features a wide variety of nocturnal animals - foxes, sugar gliders, pangolins, wombats, chameleons, wallabies, bilbies, and bandicoots. Bismarck, the sugar glider, continues with his antics such as flirting with Dawn, bossing everyone else around when there is work involved, and bragging about his brave exploits (which are greatly exaggerated). Tobin gets blamed for any odd odors or squeaky noises due to the pangolin's habit of releasing gas when agitated or frightened. And Dawn is still the leader of the group with her wisdom and courage. Together they face everything from quicksand to tumbleweed attacks in their efforts to find water and save the valley's inhabitants.

Readers who enjoy animal adventures should try The Nocturnals, if they haven't already done so.  The mixture of mystery, humor, and friendship is a wonderful combination. There is a website for readers and educators with plenty of resources at

I read an advanced reading copy provided by the publisher for review purposes.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library Blog Tour

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You may be familiar with Fairday Morrow and the Detective Mystery Squad (DMS) already. If not, check out this book trailer to get a feel for the series. When the first book, The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow, came out in December 2015, it was greeted with gladness by middle grade readers and their adults. "I loved the opening chapters of The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow and was immediately captivated by the characters. The writing is great and very accessible. I'm sure children and young adults will love it," said Jenny Nimmo, author of Midnight for Charlie Bone. And Publishers Weekly wrote, "The novel builds to an exciting climax that takes magic in stride and suggests further mysteries await the DMS trio." Well, PW was right - now book 2 is almost here and the DMS is on the case again. (See the summary below for story details.)

If you know some middle grade kids who enjoy paranormal mysteries with action, suspense and just the right amount of spookiness, then you should introduce them to Fairday and the rest of the Detective Mystery Squad. Readers will notice the influence of classic stories such as The Wizard of Oz and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in the first adventure. With a librarian in trouble and a bookworm actually eating the words of stories, what might happen to such childhood favorites if Fairday, Lizzy, and Marcus can't solve the mystery this time? 

Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library
Book 2: Fairday Morrow Series
By Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson
Illustrated by David SanAngelo
Middle grade mystery
Ages 8 and up
Grades 3-6
Publish Date: 10/23/17
Publisher: Willow Press
ISBN #: 978-0-9993449-0-3


Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow had no clue that moving from Manhattan to the small town of Ashpot, Connecticut, would lead to an unsolved mystery. Her parents’ dream of renovating a crumbling Victorian, called the Begonia House, into a bed and breakfast had seemed like treachery at the time. But Fairday found out that her new house kept secrets, and once inside its twisted front gates, anything was possible.

When mysterious notes start showing up warning that a librarian is in trouble and a bookworm is eating words, Fairday thinks the Begonia House has more skeletons in its closets. She notices a passage in her favorite book has been changed, and she’s certain something is dreadfully wrong. What happens to stories when their words get eaten?

The Detective Mystery Squad is ready to investigate! Fairday, Lizzy, and Marcus take off on a sticky trail and tumble into Nowhere. Like Alice in Wonderland, Fairday finds herself in a world where nothing makes sense and the lines of reality are blurred.

The three sleuths discover amazing things about themselves as they unravel more secrets within the walls of the Begonia House. Follow along with Fairday and friends as they open the next case in the DMS files to unlock the mystery of the Talking Library.

Authors/ Illustrator Bios

Jessica Haight & Stephanie Robinson, co-authors of the Fairday Morrow Series
Visit us on the web at:

Stephanie and Jess met freshman year of high school. It was in English class where they first discovered they liked the same books. Their friendship grew, and over the years they went on to work as servers together, go to the same college for a short time, and they even became roommates for a while. Many books were discussed, but none were ever written. Now, after the release of their first middle grade novel, The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow, Stephanie and Jess are excited to keep building the mystery in Fairday Morrow and the Talking Library. Anything’s possible!

David SanAngelo is an award winning illustrator, a two-time Emmy nominated director of animated shows for children and he won a kite flying contest in the fourth grade. Dave attended high school with Jessica and Stephanie and they've all been friends for a billion years. Some of Dave's favorite things are: old monster movies, superheroes and shred-a-licious rock music. Although he grew up in New England, Dave currently lives with his wife and sons in Decatur, GA.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dover Books Holiday Reading Giveaway Tour


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter to win a storybooks and crafts prize pack! Plus, everyone can use special code WHCP at Dover Publications to receive 25% off until December 31, 2017.
One (1) grand prize winner receives:
Two (2) grand prize winner receives:
Value: $98.75
Two (2) winners receive:
Value: $49.90
Giveaway begins October 11, 2017, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends November 11, 2017, at 11:59 P.M. PST.
Giveaway open to residents of Canada and the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older.
Prizes provided by Dover Publications, Inc.


Alice in Wonderland Origami

Lewis Carroll’s timeless tale comes to colorful new life in this beautifully illustrated storybook/craft guide combination. A modern retelling of Alice’s adventures is accompanied by easy-to-follow instructions for folding all the major characters: Alice herself, the White Rabbit, the Caterpillar, the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, The Queen of Hearts, and more. Plus, the book also includes 42 ready-to-fold sheets of origami paper

Beauty and the Beast Origami

After enjoying a modern retelling of the classic fairy tale, boys and girls can create many of the characters and props with the 45 sheets of pre-printed origami paper included. Features full-color and easy-to-follow instructions for folding Bella and her beautiful white horse, the Beast and his castle, the fairy, one of the wolves, a rose, the clock, and a crown.
About Pasquale D’Auria
Pasquale D’Auria has created over 300 original models, published all over the world. He has been a Guest Star at conventions in Munich (1995), Stockholm (2000), Paris (2001), Santiago de Compostela (2003), and Madrid (2011). He has published several books and is co-author of a collective volume entitled Origami Made in Italy.

Tell Me a Mitzi

“A must!” declared School Library Journal of this ALA Notable Book and National Book Award Finalist, now available in a glorious new hardcover edition. Blending fantasy and reality in a big-city setting, three unforgettable and wonderfully illustrated tales recount the adventures of Mitzi and her little brother as they attempt to visit their grandparents, recuperate from colds, and meet the president. “Thanks to Lore Segal’s antic words, and Harriet Pincus’s antic pictures, children will find Tell Me a Mitzi a hilarious picnic.” — Publishers Weekly

The Wedding Procession of the Rag Doll and the Broom Handle and Who Was in It

The Rag Doll was blessed with many friends — the Wisk Broom, the Furnace Shovel, and the Coffee Pot among them — but when it came time to marry, she chose the Broom Handle. On the day of their wedding, the bride and groom were attended by a fantastical procession of well-wishers: the Spoon Lickers, the Tin Pan Bangers, the Easy Ticklers, the Musical Soup Eaters, and other whimsical characters, all marching along in a manner befitting their extraordinary names. This tale of wedding pomp and madcap mirth comes from poet Carl Sandburg’s classic book of American fairy tales, The Rootabaga Stories. Marvelous drawings by Harriet Pincus, a noted illustrator of children’s books, enhance the tale. Out of print for years, the book is now available in a new edition that introduces the story and its gloriously antic art to a new generation of parade-lovers, wedding-goers, and everyone who enjoys a fanciful celebration.

Nine Days to Christmas: A Story of Mexico

Generations of readers have treasured this 1960 Caldecott Medal winner and its tale of a little Mexican girl’s excitement at the approach of Christmas. Ceci eagerly awaits Las Posadas, the traditional nine-day series of yuletide celebrations. This year she’ll lead the candlelight procession that reenacts Mary and Joseph’s trek to Bethlehem. Meanwhile, Mother takes her to the old marketplace to choose her very first piñata. Ceci is dazzled by the colorful array of options, and after making her choice has second thoughts about the fate of her piñata once the posada takes place. Graced by evocative illustrations, this international holiday classic is now available in a lovely hardcover edition.



The Children's Book Review
Shooting Stars Mag
A Dream Within A Dream
Lille Punkin'
Fundamental Children's Books
The Fairview Review
icefairy's Treasure Chest
Word Spelunking
Tales of A Wanna-Be SuperHero Mom
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Inspired by Savannah

The Fairview Review is participating in the giveaway tour in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Dover Publications, Inc.

Fall Reading 2017 A Sampling of Titles from Arbordale Publishing

The narrative progresses from January through December, with each month showing a different animal from the prairie ecosystem. The various shelters the animals use, the types of weather they encounter, and the groups they live in are some of the facts shared. The illustrations show the animal, details of their habitat, and the typical weather for that month. Back matter contains more details about the grassland habitat, a map of where such habitats are found around the world, a vocabulary matching game with weather and seasonal words, and two true and false games to check for understanding. 

As a family prepares for a hurricane, a young boy wonders what animals do before and during the storms. The first few pages show the family gathering supplies and putting up storm shutters, and then the following pages show various animals and how they react to the approaching hurricane. From fish sheltering deep in coral to butterflies finding a hollow tree, animals on land and in the water all find a safe place to ride out the storm. The final spread of the waves and wind hitting the beach and blowing the palm trees will remind young readers of coverage from the Weather Channel or local news. Back matter includes an description of what a hurricane is, there it a map showing locations that are affected by hurricanes around the world, an explanation of how storm winds are measured, a guide to preparation for a hurricane, and a discussion of the animal behavior shown in the book and how scientists know what animals do.  

Beginning with one wolf in January, this book builds from month to month until there are 12 wolves
singing in the December forest. Each spread shows wolves in a different activity - hunting, caring for pups, playing, napping. The way it is organized makes it easy to use the book with various grade levels. It can be a counting book, a sequencing book, or an introduction to wolves and their behavior and habitat. Back matter includes a section on interpreting wolf communication, fun facts, an explanation of the wolf life cycle, a calendar activity, details on how wolves hunt and why they are endangered. 

Based upon "The Emperor's New Clothes," this book tells of a proud Mayor Peacock who promises the town that he will protect them from tornadoes. When Mouse asks how he will do this, the mayor says he will hire a tornado tamer. When a sly weasel comes to town and promises to create a tornado cover that will surround the entire town, only Mouse has doubts. On the day of the unveiling, the Weasel announces that only those who are smart and special will be able to see and feel it. Guess what happens. Yes - and when the tornado comes, the weasel is nowhere to be found. Back matter includes a weather glossary, questions and answers about tornadoes, a discussion of tornado safety and the Fujita scale, and even directions on how to create your own tornado in a bottle. 

A good book to introduce the study of clouds and use in a weather unit, this could also be used as an example of how to write a comparison and contrast essay. Illustrations show clouds colorful with the sunset or dark and heavy with rain. The clouds are pictured at the beach, among the trees, over farmland and in other locations to emphasize their presence around the world. The photographs capture vivid blues in sea and sky, the gray of storm fronts and shadows, and even the eerie yellow of fog. Back matter includes an explanation of clouds, water cycle experiments, matching games, and pointers on how to use clouds to predict the weather.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Fall Reading 2017 The Case of the Cursed Dodo (The Endangered Files #1)


Readers who are fans of film noir will have an enjoyable time following Jake G. Panda on his first publicized case. Jake is a hotel detective at Wildlife's Last Resort, which caters to endangered animals of all sorts. When his friend the Professor (a hispid hare), is kidnapped in the middle of a phone call to Jake, the furry detective sets out to find his missing friend and stumbles into a much bigger problem than he counted on. The case is packed with shady characters, double-crosses, underground operatives, mysterious clues, and knuckle-crunching action scenes. Jake's investigation leads him from the Last Resort, to a bazaar in Marrakesh, a poachers' camp, and even to Extinction City. Along the way he meets many other endangered animals - Siberian cranes, Mexican grizzly bears, Chinese alligators, and Himalayan tahrs - among others, and he also runs into a lady from his past.

Young readers will enjoy the tough gumshoe manner of Jake and the thrilling action scenes. Whether he is parachuting from an airplane, fighting on top of a moving train, or taking on poachers, there is plenty of opportunity for Jake to throw his weight around. Adults reading along with their children or students will laugh at the many cliches, puns, and the sly references to films like "Casa Blanca." The way the story is written as if it were a screen play adds to the feeling that one is watching an old black & white detective show. If you are a mystery fan, and don't mind if the detective is a furry bamboo-eater, you should give it a try. This would also make a great way to kick off a unit on endangered animals. Each student could choose one of the characters from the story and research what has caused each of the animals to be placed on the endangered species list.

Whether you are interested in endangered animals, enjoy detective stories, or like to close your eyes and listen to someone read - The Case of the Cursed Dodo fits the bill. In the audiobook adaptation, the story of Jake Panda's investigation into a friend's disappearance comes to vivid life with skilled voice actors, sound effects, and more. Each chapter is presented as if it were an episode in an old-time radio serial. That makes it perfect for listeners, because each chapter begins with a brief recap of the previous action, bringing everyone up to speed. Whether Jake is sloshing through underground tunnels, dropping from the sky, or slugging it out on top of a moving train, there are plenty of thrills and excitement to keep listeners tuned in. There is also plenty of humor, cliffhangers, and a bit of romance. Jake's hard-boiled detective persona is perfect for this type of presentation. Readers and listeners will want to know when the next adventure will be broadcast. With nods to classic stories like "The Maltese Falcon" and "Casa Blanca," and as much globetrotting as an Indiana Jones movie, this case file is an entertaining read or listen for all ages.  

There are free activities and resources available at Jake's website: .

I received a copy from the author for review purposes.