Kevin the Unicorn: It’s not All Rainbows

Kevin the Unicorn:

It’s Not All Rainbows

by: Jessika von Innerebner

Dial Books for Young Readers

2019

 

Have you hopped on the unicorn bandwagon yet? It seems like unicorns are everywhere right now, and they don’t look like they’ll be leaving anytime soon. Why would they? Unicorns are beautiful, perfect, and the epitome of all things happy…right?

As Kevin the Unicorn can tell you, unicorns are just people too. Everyone has bad days. Everyone gets grumpy. Sometimes everyone needs to take a calming break; even unicorns.

In conjunction with the release and blog tour of this amazing chat about the beauty of imperfection, I have been asked to create a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) item. Using items from around the house, my daughter (7) and I created a calming bottle.

Materials:

IMG_20191013_182025

– An empty and clean bottle (We used a water bottle)

– Water

– Vegetable Oil

– Beads, Beans, Glitter, or other additives (garbanzo beans are a little too heavy)

– Food Coloring (optional)

– Glue ( To secure the lid)

Step One: 

Using the funnel, fill the bottle about 1/2 to 3/4s of the way full of vegetable oil.

IMG_20191013_182239

Step Two:

Add Beans, beads, etc to your bottle. Throw some glitter in for funsies.

IMG_20191013_182324

Step Three: 

Finish filling the bottle with water and add your food coloring.

IMG_20191013_182629

Step Four: 

Secure the lid to the bottle and shake.

 

IMG_20191013_182730

This simple to make, simple to use calming bottle can help focus energy and calm down people (and unicorns) of all ages as they watch the glitter, water, and oil come together and slowly separate again.

 

May you all have magical, awesome, super sparkly days!

 

 

Review: Does Frankenstein Get Hungry?

does frankenstein get hungry

From Penguin Random House: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/538536/does-frankenstein-get-hungry-by-john-solimine/9780399546419
About Does Frankenstein Get Hungry?
In this monstrously funny picture book, an inquisitive young girl with some pressing questions proves these creatures may not be so scary after all.

Tucked up in her bed, a little girl wonders about the creatures rumored to go bump in the night. But instead of pulling the covers over her head, she comes up with a list of important questions, like:

Does Frankenstein get hungry?

Does Dracula floss his fangs?

Does the boogeyman have boogers?

Does the thing that lives beneath my bed get lonely under there?

With each inquiry, the little girl’s confidence grows–proving monsters are no match for her imagination! From debut talent John Solimine, this laugh-out-loud picture book has all the silly and gentle reassurance kids need for a good night’s sleep.

This book is adorable, funny, and sure to make young ones (and older ones too) smile. The release of this book in mid-August set it up perfectly to be a great confidence booster for our young children who are about to be inundated with imagery of monsters and spooky things for the fall season. I love that this book draws the young readers in and they want to know what the next question will be, they want to know who will be in the next image. I received this book in mid-August and the students in my classroom (who range from pre-k – high school) have been picking it up and enjoying the message and illustrations ever since.

However, I do have one major issue with the book and that is that the rhythm of the words falls apart in a few places. A big part of children’s literacy in the early stages is the prediction of rhythm and words on the upcoming pages and when that rhythm breaks down for a second, it can cause issues for the emergent readers. While this book does have a great rhythm, the cadence in a couple of places seems to stutter and pull readers out of the story for a moment. This is not, by any means, a large detractor from the book itself and I still highly recommend that you pick this up to read with the tiny people in your lives.

I give Does Frankenstein Get Hungry a 3.75 out of 5 dragons. Munch on Frankenstein’s Monster…munch on.

**I was sent this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions in this review are my own.**

3 Middle Grade Recent New Releases: REVIEWED

Hey Everyone! It has been a long and hectic school year and I definitely let the ball drop on my blog (AGAIN…I KNOW!). However, it is now June and I’m hoping to get back into the groove of posting blogs, as well as the BookTube videos. So today, in an attempt to make do just that, I am bringing to you a quick review of THREE recent Middle Grade Releases. Each of these is now a couple of months old and definitely deserving of all the love…so let’s get in to them.

First up I want to talk to you about Sticky Notes by Dianne Touchell. This book debuted on February 20th and was published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers.
sticky notes

This book follows 10 year old Foster as he and his family deal with his father’s decent into Alzheimer’s. Fossie is used to his dad being a vibrant, story telling, suit wearer who loves his son and his dog. But then Dad starts forgetting the numbers that make up his job, and the supper that he’s got burning on the stove, and the dog.

This book takes a close look at the effect of the disease on those around the sufferer, namely the child who is confused and left to figure things out on his own (for the most part). I thought that Dianne Touchell did a wonderful job of handling this topic in a way that would appeal to readers of varying ages, from the early Middle Grade target age group to those of us who have had a smidgen more life experience. I give Sticky Notes a 3.5 out of 4 Dragons and you can find your own copy here.

The second book I want to bring to your attention is The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller.
science-of
Published on March 6th by Random House Books for Young Readers this extraordinary debut novel takes a look at Hope and Love (and depression) through the eyes of a 7th grade girl writing in her science notebook. When Natalie’s teacher Mr. Neely tells the class that they must answer an important question using the scientific method, Natalie comes up with the question
How do you grow a miracle? and is determined to solve her mother’s depression with the answer. This book is poignant, humorous, and beautiful…and will make you experience a rainbow of emotions. I read this at the very beginning of March and still find myself idly thinking of the characters and story. This book gets 5 out of 4 dragons and you can go grab your own tear jerking copy here.

Finally, I want to talk to you about an entirely different type of novel. Emma Carrol’s Strange Star was published on March 20th by Delacorte Books for Young Readers and is a spine tingling middle grade thriller.

th

This book begins at Lord Byron’s summer home where he and his guests, the Shelleys, are challenging each other to a ghost story tell-off…but as Mary Shelley is stuck for an idea, a knock on the door reveals that sometimes the truth is more frightening than any ghost story could be. Told as a tale of family, friendship, woe, redemption…and inspiration this was a quick moving and interesting read. While there were a few spots that pulled me out of the atmosphere of the story, I felt that it was over all well done and this thrilling, seat-of-your-pants book was one I read in one sitting. Ultimately, I gave 3.5 out of 4 dragons. If you’re looking for a little summer chill, grab your copy here.

I would love to hear about your favorite new releases, what you’ve been reading lately, and if you’ve read any of these three marvelous books! Until next time, may your days be blessed with books and love!

*I received these books in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and rating are my own!*

Review: Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy

 

 

61FKTKLWclL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_

Last Stop in Brooklyn
By Lawrence H. Levy

“It’s the summer of 1894, and an infidelity case has brought PI Mary Handley to a far corner of Brooklyn: Coney Island. In the midst of her investigation, Mary is contacted by a convicted man’s brother to reopen a murder case. A prostitute was killed by a Jack the Ripper copycat years ago in her New York hotel room, but her true killer was never found. Once again it’s up to Mary to make right the city’s wrongs.”

 

I wish that I could tell you I loved this book. All of the mystery, murder, retro elements are there for me and, by all right, I should have fallen in love with this story. I did not. The descriptions went overboard, the story seemed bland, and the dialogue left me cringing. I rated this a 2 stars and have happily left it behind.

 

*I was sent this book free of charge by blogging for books*

Review: The Comic Book Story of Video Games

Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Ten Speed Press (October 3, 2017)
Language: Englishvideo games

This book, full of interesting facts and great illustrations, is fantastically fun for all ages. I handed this over to the 7th and 8th grade students in my reading class, as well as showing it to the 3rd-5th grade and high school music students, and they (mostly) agreed that this book was ‘awesome!’ Although this was more about the technology behind the games and the nerdtastic amazingness of the art, the premise of teaching through graphic form instead of ‘normal’ text book type writing grasped the people in my life: students, teachers, and non-school personnel alike.

I give this book a 3.5 out of 5 stars. The visual elements were great but I feel like the writing could have flowed a little better and I would have loved more mention of the artistic side of things.

Draw 50 Sea Creatures: Review

As most of you know by now, I have a delightfully sassy little girl. Last time I was looking through Blogging for Books’ list of available titles, she excitedly exclaimed that I HAD TO GET the book on drawing sea creatures FOR HER. Well, how can you say no to that? (Especially when there really weren’t any other books I wanted to look at)

4108AJg5ODL._SX389_BO1,204,203,200_When the book arrived at our home, she immediately wiggled out of nap time and into art time, and the two artists in my family (my mother and the tiny one) are absolutely enamored with this simple, easy to follow drawing book. They even convince me to give it a go and I made a halfway decent piece of kelp (NOT as easy as you would think!) We give this book 4 out of 5 sea dragons and recommend that you go check it out!

The Story Cure: A Quick Review

The Book Doctor, Dinty W. Moore, has created this book in order to help authors break through writer’s block, rearrange stumbling blocks into creative staircases, and basically just fix whatever ails ya…or your book. As a professor of writing, and an author himself, Moore as spent years coming up with ‘diagnoses’ and ‘prescriptions’ for all sorts of common (and not quite so common) author ailments, and lays them out with charming witticisms and blunt truths. This book is a great read for authors in all phases of their walks through words.

I give it 4.5 out 5 Stars and encourage anyone who writes or thinks they might want to give it a whirl to pick up a copy.

 

*I was sent this book by Blogging for Books in return for my honest review. All opinions cited in this review are my own.*

 

Healthy Food Makes Me Sick

So I may or may not have mentioned this to you before but…I’m on a diet. I have been on a diet for over a month (again). This time, I’m doing better with it. I’m doing better with it because I’m concentrating more on making healthier choices and eating smaller portions than I am on forcing myself to eat these ‘healthy choice’ recipes that make me sick. That’s right, a lot of healthy foods actually make me S-I-C-K. No, I am not lying. Yes, this is real life.

You see, things like tomatoes make my acid reflux go through the roof. I get terrible stomach aches, the acid makes my throat hurt, and I get headaches. Bell peppers do much the same thing, although since I dislike their texture and flavor I start feeling sick a lot more quickly. The same happens with celery, asparagus, most squash, all but one eggplant recipe, etc etc and so forth. On top of that, I am literally allergic to strawberries. Yes, strawberries. Yes, it does suck. (guess what my daughter’s favorite food is?? YUP! Strawberries…which mom has to cut up for her. It’s a process and a show for anyone watching me).

My friends laugh because I am a sober person with the palate of a stoner (except for pizza honestly). So finding dishes that are HEALTHY and FILLING and YUMMY without half (sometimes over half) of the readily available vegetables can be a trial. It’s really no wonder that I’m failing every few days. But I keep working. I keep finding new recipes. I keep pinning pins to pinterest. I will keep this diet going. Even if I do sneak some beef jerky and mustard every once in a while.

Some healthy foods make me sick…but that doesn’t mean I can’t be healthy anyway.

Review: Elemental Island

elemental island

Summary: Astie has always been different. Her 12th birthday is looming and she still has not decided on her thesis. All the Learners at the Hub picked theirs years ago. If it wasn’t for her cousin, Jakob, life would be unbearable on Elemental Island. On the verge of being diagnosed with Social Syndrome, she stumbles upon Danny who has landed in a forbidden flight machine….(continued here)

Age Level: Middle Grade (ages 8-13)

Genre: Adventure (with low level Sci-Fi feels)

Pages: 224 (hardcover)

Published: December 2015 by Jessica Kingsley Publishers

This book is a celebration of differences. In a world where everyone loves logic, order, and alone time, main character Astie is on the verge of turning 12 with no scientific thesis to obsess over and an enjoyment of spending time with people, and hugs, that is going to get her shunned as having what is known as Social Syndrome. Of course, Astie winds up saving the day. But I will leave it to you to discover just how she does it.

I enjoyed this book very much. It was a quick read, coming in at only a few hours in one of my days to read it, but the storyline has stuck with me. The world Ms. Hoopmann created is a logical, scientific narrative of what an island full of fully functioning autistic humans might be like. They are secluded. They are safe. They have no contact with an outside world, because there isn’t one (as far as they know). They like it that way, and if anyone starts being too social, or illogical, or touchy feely. Well they might have to be retrained. This flip-flop of what we normally see in books made me happy and excited to read on. I really liked the interactions between our main character and her family and friends. They were written true to how someone with non-neurotypical tendencies might speak and react, which I really appreciated.

This book earned 3.5 dragons from me. Go check it out.

 

Review: The Midnight Queen

midnight queen

Summary: In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…(more here)

Pages: 417

Published: 2014 Ace

 

I’m not going to lie to you here. I requested to review this book (from Blogging for Books) because of the cover. If you’ve been around awhile, you probably already know of my obsessions with owls. Well…that explains that right? It probably wouldn’t have mattered what the book was about, honestly. However, I have happy to report that it turned out to be a fabulous historical fiction/fantasy novel.

This book delights with a beautiful mixture of historical fiction and magical elements, adventuresome bits and slow romance, and some strong leads of both female and male variety. The scholarship and work of magic delights me to no end, and Ms. Hunter’s work here is no exception. Well done, delightful, and interesting.

This book gets a 4 out of 5 dragons. If you enjoy adventure, fantasy, and historical fiction all rolled into one very European bundle, I suggest you go grab your very own copy and give it a read.