Sunday, June 28, 2020

Spring Reading 2020 I Will Never Forget You

Miyanishi's latest book in the Tyrannosaurus series features a T-rex that learns to care for another rather than being a selfish bully. This T-rex is planning on eating a small spinosaurus when an earthquake strands them both on a small piece of ground broken off from the mainland. When the T-rex spares the smaller dinosaur so that the spinosaurus can catch fish for him, the two begin a shaky relationship. Over the days they are marooned, the admiration of the little dinosaur causes a change of heart in his large companion.

The artwork is a clear, graphic style that is fun and attractive for young readers. When the T-rex says to Wimpy that the red berries "may be even more delicious than you," youngsters will recognize the effort to reach out by someone not used to having friends. And the effects of Wimpy's compliments on the lonely bully are also emphasized. Once again, Miyanashi shows the redemptive power of love and trust.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher for review purposes. 

Spring Reading 2020 Dinosaur Lady: The Daring Discoveries of Mary Anning, the First Paleontologist

"She sells seashells on the seashore." Many of us hear that tongue twister as children, but we do not hear the story of the woman it is based on. Mary Anning's life is described for us in this lovely picture book biography. We read of her collecting fossils and shells that her family sold to tourists to support themselves. With no formal training, she taught herself what to look for and discovered the skeleton of what was named "ichthyosaurus." Although she lived at a time when women were not expected or even allowed to be scientists, Mary made amazing finds in the field of fossils and the men who were allowed to pursue their scientific dreams came to her for answers.

Illustrations show Mary climbing over cliffs and rocks, digging with her hammer and chisel in all kinds of weather. They also show "geologists, scientists, and scholars" trailing along behind her. Along with an author's note there are also a timeline of Miss Anning's life and "Bone Bits and Fossil Facts" among the back matter. Although we may feel frustrated on her behalf, at least we have the satisfaction that Mary's contributions to the field are finally being recognized. With books like these, young readers will have the chance to appreciate her perseverance and self-taught expertise.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher for review purposes.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Spring Reading 2020 Ocean Speaks: How Marie Tharp Revealed the Ocean's Biggest Secret

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Jess Keating has a knack for finding topics that kids will enjoy reading about. The World of Weird Animals series, for example, introduces them to blob fish, axolotls, and snot otters. She also loves to share the stories of female scientists that may not be commonly known, such as Shark Lady, Eugenie Clark. This time around she has put together a look at Marie Tharp's use of depth soundings to map the floor of the ocean and the amazing secrets that map revealed.

The details about Marie's early explorations with her father help to show how her curiosity became strong enough to overcome the limitations placed on girls and women of her day. The need for women to enter the work force during the war is one that appears in many stories from the past(Hidden Figures, Code Girls, etc.), and could lead to a unit of study or independent research on the topic. Her perseverance in spite of those limits and the disbelief and even being told her work was wrong is an excellent example for young people.

The text offers wonderful stylistic points for students to emulate in their own writing. The alliterative series "forests and farmhouses, boulders and birdcalls, wheat fields and waterfalls" paints a vivid mental image of her adventures with her father. A later series similarly lists all the topics she plunged into when science and math were made more open to female students. The use of figurative language  such as "she swam through bottles of pitch black ink" also makes a wonderful connection between Marie's work in the office and the ocean that she was mapping.

Scenes of a young Marie sticking together her sculpture with bubble gum contrast with her exuberance in covering a chalkboard with equations once she is allowed to study what interests her. The books stacked near the chalkboard reflect her interests as well - showing titles by Aristotle, Darwin, and Einstein. Those figurative journeys she took in her office are depicted with Marie standing on a large paper boat or surrounded by clouds of calculations. The watercolor and pencil illustrations capture the mood on every page.

Back matter includes a photo of Marie, an author's note about Marie's work and how it was initially rejected, and then finally recognized as correct. There are a few Q&A about sonar and ocean mapping, the mid-ocean ridge, and women as scientists. Several suggestions for further reading, as well as the URL to view Marie's maps on the Library of Congress website are also provided.

This is an excellent book for those looking to highlight female contributions to science; for units on mapping, geology, and plate tectonics; or as a mentor text for writing.

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

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Spring Reading 2020 The Thursday Murder Club


Most people probably think of retirement communities as rather peaceful places with everything happening at a slower pace than the outside world, and the only excitement revolving around planned social events or the arrival of new residents. But this is not an episode of "The Golden Girls." The Thursday Murder Club at Coopers Chase looks at old cold cases and tries to solve them. They are a from a variety of backgrounds - a government operative, a psychiatrist, a labor organizer, a nurse - all retired now, of course. And when the developer of Coopers Chase is murdered in front of all of them, they spring into action. Using contacts from their former jobs, their own expertise and that of their various adult offspring, and teaming up with the local police force, the club members uncover plenty of clues. With motives ranging from disgruntled business partners, protesters over the disturbance of a local cemetery, and possible involvement in illegals, they have plenty to keep them busy. 

Chapters of standard narrative are interspersed with diary entries from one of the club members, which give readers one character's thoughts and theories about the investigation. As the newest member of the club, Joyce (the diarist), also shares her opinions about the other members as well as the key players in the investigation. Along with their efforts at helping to solve the crime, readers will also see the club (Joyce, Ibrahim, Ron, and Elizabeth) dealing with friendships, spouses, families, and other residents. The murder didn't take place in a vacuum, after all.

Recommended for those who enjoy mysteries and appreciate the insight and other assets that characters who have lived long and useful lives can offer (Miss Marple comes to mind, although she is not the only mature sleuth in literature). This is a delightful story that keeps throwing out more details, and readers cannot be sure which are important and which are red herrings until the very end. We can all hope that the club has further literary outings for us to enjoy.

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

Spring Reading 2020 The Unready Queen (The Oddmire #2)

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This is the second book in William Ritter's new middle grade series within that world of magic and monsters established in his Jackaby books (for YA and adults). In the first book, Tinn and Cole are brothers raised as human twins, although one of them is actually a goblin changeling. Having found out which is which, now the boys are dealing with the fact that they are actually not identical. The changeling brother is visiting the local goblins and having lessons on the other side of his heritage, while the fully human brother is feeling a bit of jealousy over his brother going off and doing something without him. 

Still, there are bigger problems to worry the entire town. Someone has bought land near the Wild Wood and plans to employ some of the locals with his drilling, but their activities have roused the anger of the inhabitants of the wood. Explosions, destruction of the drilling rig, giants attacking workers...that is only the beginning. Fable, daughter of the Queen of the Deep Dark, is impatient with her mother's lessons on controlling her magic and would rather spend time with the twins exploring the human town. Is the vision of violence and blood proclaiming an unready queen about the present Queen being unready to deal with the conflict between town and the Wood? Or is it a foreshadowing of Fable being forced into her mother's position? Either one is frightening.

As I said of the first book, this story has wonderful fantasy elements with goblins, witches, and spriggans. There is the whole man versus nature (or in this case, the fae creatures who live in nature). But what makes the book such a wonderful read is the relationships (between the two boys, between them and their mother, between Fable and her mother), and the tension and angst of growing up. It hurts to face situations that force one to mature, to see that parents are not perfect, that adults don't have all the answers, and the world is not a safe place. Readers will be rooting for the young protagonists and turning page after page to see how everything is resolved.

Perfect for readers of Fablehaven, Harry Potter, and other fantasy books full of magical creatures and brave youngsters.

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

Spring Reading 2020 Ink & Sigil


If you've ever read any of the Iron Druid books, then you already know the world where Kevin Hearne has set this spinoff series. But while Atticus O'Sullivan is a druid with powers that most humans can't imagine and seemingly eternal youth, Al MacBharrais is a widower who is feeling his years and has to rely on carefully crafted sigils to use a bit of magic. Since each sigil requires a specific ink with very rare ingredients and time to draw it out correctly, it is not a type of magic to use without lots of advance preparation. Too bad villains never seem to give anyone time for that prep. As for the years, Al chooses "to interpret the symphony of pops and crackles in my joints as a mark of extraordinary character." The idea of travel between the planes that was part of the Iron Druid books is the same here, but Al adds his own additional twist. "I look at the Internet as a sort of plane in the sense that it has plenty of rules and one shouldn't be mucking about there without some expertise." Sounds about right to me.

When Al finds his latest apprentice dead, he also discovers a hobgoblin that shouldn't be there. Buck (the hob), learns that Gordie the apprentice is dead and asks how it happened.  Al tells him  that Gordie choked to death on a raisin scone. Buck declares it was a suicide because, "He didn't accidentally eat a raisin scone, now did he?" The two eventually come to an agreement that raisins in a scone are evil and dangerous, then they begin unraveling the situation that brought Buck to Scotland in the first place. The others in Al's life who know about his true duties as a sigil agent in policing traffic between the various planes of existence are just as unique as Buck. For instance, there is his business manager who is also a battle seer. Or the faery who tends bar at the local pub, who also sends messages to the court of Brighid, First among the Fae. And there are the other sigil agents who are stationed around the world.

The first time I read it, I went through it in one big gulp. Then I had to go back and slow down to savor all the elements that made it such a good read. There are so many things to like about this book, and to look forward to later on in the series, and not just the urban fantasy setting and the action sequences. Al's character is entertaining, but he also has a curse hanging over his head that will need to be dealt with. Buck, the hobgoblin, is good for pointing out human foibles and questioning things that we take for granted. (If you enjoyed the conversations between Oberon and Atticus, then Al and Buck will also amuse you in the same way.) When I was reading the book, I occasionally had to put it down because I was laughing too hard to see the words. Nadia is a contradiction with her diminutive size and her battle skills. Let's not even start on the librarian that Al wants to take out for coffee, or the detective who is suspicious of his activities, or his need for a new apprentice (one who won't eat raisin scones)... And I would love to visit more with the other sigil agents, especially the one in Chattanooga (since that is close to my home). I appreciate Hearne's brilliance in noticing that "the Fae preferred the Appalachians and Smoky Mountains above all else in the western hemisphere." Who doesn't?

Highly recommended for fans of Kevin Hearne, urban fantasy (especially with Druidic or Celtic ties), mysteries with magical elements, or anyone who likes their fantasy to have a mix of action, humor, and whodunit.

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

Spring Reading 2020 Puppy Kisses

I am not usually a romance reader (I prefer zombies, explosions, space battles, etc.), but my friends at Sourcebooks are devious. They periodically send out emails inviting readers to try a new book or series at a great discount. I read the second book in this series, Puppy Christmas, after one of those emails. I thought, "Cute puppy, cute single dad, dedicated dog trainer...why not give it a try?" Of course, once I read it, I had to backtrack and read the first one and then w--a--i--t for the third one because I was hooked. (Like I said, they are devious over there at Sourcebooks.)

In this third installment, the most free-spirited of the Vasquez sisters gets into a bit of trouble while on a rescue mission with her friend. Through all the twists and turns of their getaway with the rescued dog, Dawn and her cohort wind up heading for the friend's family farm and the friend's eldest brother, Adam Dearborn. Dawn and Adam seem like a totally mismatched couple, and a neglected and sickly puppy seems a poor choice for a guide dog, but readers will be rooting for everything to work out for the characters in spite of misunderstandings, creepy stalkers, fear of harnesses (that would be the dog Gigi), and cranky neighbors.

Gilmore writes characters that are complex and believable - even when they do things like discuss the time they ran off to join the circus. Both the Vasquez and the Dearborn families have siblings that are close, but very different from each other and the interplay between the brothers and sisters is as much a part of the story as the romantic relationship or the bonding with the dogs from the Vasquez business.

Highly recommended for anyone who loves a story with a good dog (or more), and who enjoys when opposites really do attract in the best way.

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

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Spring Reading 2020 Ivy Bird

Ivy Bird is a child whose surname fits her perfectly. She loves birds and her activities all day reflect her interest and affection. Just like her feathered friends, she rises with the sun. Readers can see her pet bird, the design of hummingbirds on her comforter, and bird pictures she has made that are hanging on the wall of her room. The language of the text plays with bird imagery; "Ivy takes flight" as she leaves the house. When she has a tea party in the garden, she is "foraging in cups of sweet nectar." Ivy has a cape that makes her look like a magpie and a swim cover-up that is flamingo pink. Everything about her actions, her appearance, and the images and text are woven together with bird details.

Two pages in the back matter show various birds that appear in the story and give details about them. Young readers can use these pages to go back through the story and identify the birds on each page, as well as looking at the ways Ivy mimics the birds. She gathers bits of sparkly blue treasures like the bowerbird, swims like a duck, and stuffs feathers in her belt to form a tail as fancy as a lyrebird. Just before bed she hoots like an owl in the moonlight.

If you know any youngsters who are bird lovers or you want to encourage an interest in nature among some young readers, then this book is perfect for your needs. The colorful illustrations encourage a look-and-find game of identifying all the birds, the storyline shares a young girl's joy with the feathery creatures around her, and the back matter pulls it all together and offers a chance for discussion of various bird traits. Although this is recommended for ages 3-6 (and is good for that age range due to the limited amount of text on each page), it would also be a wonderful mentor text for a writing lesson.

I was lucky enough to win a copy of this book in a giveaway. It was published April 7, 2020, so you should be able to find it wherever you shop for books.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Spring Reading 2020 The Best Burp

Author Tracey Hecht has added another Nocturnals story for younger readers.

This time around Bismark is having a burping contest with a bat named Bink. When Dawn asks who is making all those big burps and the two contestants point at each other, it seems that they have both pointed at Tobin. Will the shy pangolin get over the embarrassment? And can Dawn convince them that having a burp-off is not the best way to behave? After all, having a burp so loud that it is mistaken for thunder is not very polite. 

The Nocturnals stories show that three very different friends can cooperate, face challenges, and have fun together. Dawn has the patience and wisdom of a leader. Tobin can be timid, but is kind and willing to take risks for the sake of his friends. Bismark is small but bold, and very dramatic. Back matter in each of the books includes facts about the various nocturnal animals, and there are also downloadable activities online at

This book is a Level 1 reader, like The Tasty Treat, perfect for youngsters just beginning to read on their own - and with a topic sure to tickle their funny bones.

For youngsters who love stories with animal characters, or those whose older siblings have read the Nocturnals chapter books, these leveled readers are the perfect way to enter the nighttime adventures of these charming friends.

Friday, June 5, 2020

Grow Through It! Awareness Tour

Enter for a chance to win a copy of  Grow Through It, by Jay Dee and a group of six illustrators!

One (1) grand prize winner receives:
  • A paperback copy of Grow Through It.
  • A $50 donation will be made in the winner’s name to UNICEF for COVID-19 relief efforts.
Nine (9) winners receive:
  • A paperback copy of Grow Through It.
Giveaway begins May 25, 2020, at 12:01 A.M. MT and ends June 25, 2020, at 11:59 P.M. MT.

Written by Jay Dee
Illustrated by Jacob Chalkley, Darren Geers, Feras Khagani, Mike Shaposhnikov, Ishmam Ahmed, and Axel Schmidt
Publisher’s Synopsis: Ellen is stuck at home. There’s no school and no friends, and Mom is working all the time. It seems terrible until she learns about the choice each day offers: GET through it or GROW through it. See how starting each day with purpose and gratitude can make all the difference! Created during the CV-19 pandemic, 100% of the proceeds from sales of this book are donated to coronavirus relief efforts.
Ages 5+ | Publisher: Kraine Kreative | May 17, 2020 | ISBN-13: 978-0989810876

Ellen is like many of us - she receives the news of school closure and sheltering at home with thoughts of, "I hate this! It's not fair." Rather than try to argue that everything is fine, her mother agrees that it is unfair. Then she asks Ellen if she wants to simply get through this difficult time, or would she rather grow through it. Between her mother's guidance and her own realization that just getting by quickly becomes tiresome, Ellen tries new things and thinks of ways to help others.

The things Ellen does are well within the abilities of most children, especially those with some adult help available. Whether it is baking cookies for a neighbor, making drawings to mail to friends, or creating a special performance to share in a video chat with her grandmother - she finds ways to support others. In that way, she is much like the author and illustrators of this story. Yes, I said illustrators. You can see their various artistic styles in these images of Ellen.

Along with showing a realistic reaction to having her usual routine disrupted and being separated from her friends, Ellen's behavior throughout the rest of the story is also familiar for children in the current situation. Getting bored with too much screen time, feeling grumpy that parents have to work (even when they are at home), even having a meltdown and needing a timeout - many kids have done the same. Jay and the illustrators did a wonderful job of showing typical actions and feelings, and stressing that Ellen didn't always remember to "grow through it." That realism makes "growing through it" something anyone reading the story can try.


Jay Dee
Jay is an author, a certified coach, and the freshly crowned video chat expert for his nieces and nephews. As the coronavirus lockdown seemed to put life on pause, he was inspired to create a book that reminded kids (and himself!) that even days spent sheltering in place are opportunities to grow. Jay lives in San Francisco and is the author of the bestseller, The Night Before The Night Before Christmas. Find his other books at


May 25
The Children's Book Review
May 26
Word Spelunking
Book Review
May 27
Tales of A Wanna-Be SuperHero Mom
Guest Post
May 28
Over Coffee Conversations
Guest Post
May 29
Book Review
June 1
The Children's Book Review
Book Review
June 2
Shooting Stars Mag
June 3
Barbara Ann Mojica's Blog
Book Review
June 4
Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Guest Post
June 5
Fairview Elementary School (Library)
Book Review
June 8
Heart to Heart
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June 9
icefairy's Treasure Chest
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June 10
Younger Family Fun
Book Review
June 11
A Dream Within A Dream
Book Review
June 11
Woodpecker Books
Book Review
June 12
Confessions of a Book Addict

The Fairview Review is participating in the blog tour in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Jay Dee.