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An Evil Princess and a Brave Knight Book Review

An Evil Princess and a Brave Knight Book Review

They say that play is the “work” of children and from those experiences they can learn a great deal — including “resilience.” Yet I remember, during my education coursework, that the way we were told to distinguish between fighting and friendly roughhousing was to check the expressions on the children’s faces. If they looked happy, it was all fun and games; if they looked upset, it was time to step in. So, sometimes, the most important thing for children to learn about their playtime is to basically lighten up and regard their back-and-forth as part of developing friendships and camaraderie.

I can see that the Holm’s both learned this lesson in childhood as they’ve grown to work together creating many wonderful books, like this one. Here, the “evil” witch sister and “brave” knight brother share medieval power struggles, time outs, painful realizations, and some good old fashioned fun. The binding and printing it first-rate. The illustrations and text share a breezy freshness that alone should help communicate that even when play is “work,” they don’t have to take it all too seriously.

Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! Book Review

Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! Book Review

What a delightful book! An instant classic, “Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend!” is a warm and loving introduction to letting go of the past to embrace the possibilities of the future, or as the narrator tells explains, “Goodbye to today… is hello to tomorrow. Because every goodbye… leads to a hello.” The book is lovely, with darling crayon-like illustrations. It is well bound, with a hardcover and deluxe dustjacket, with top quality paper and full-color printing throughout.

In each two-page spread, we see colorful scenes of before’s and after’s, as a child lets go of one thing, only to discover something new on the next. The beauty of the book is only surpassed by its poignant message. Struggles both simple and complex are covered eloquently and with sensitivity — including moving, starting school, the death of a pet. These challenges merge with exploring the on-going flow of time, as the night follows day, the seasons come and go, and as the joys of each new possibility are discovered — and enjoyed!

I love this endearingly simple yet profound book! It’s a must for your children’s library!

Amazing Asian Kids Book Reviews

Amazing Asian Kids Book Reviews

Sometimes, kids have a tough time reconciling what they can do, or are expected to do, with what they actually want to do. This book addresses those issues very well. In a society that is, rather than being very conservative or something, are instead, a village of ninjas, where school focuses on ninja skills, and where his very name is “Ninja Boy.”

Instead, he wants to play the violin. When he finally musters the courage to tell his dad, the father wisely just asks the boy to play for him. Here, the hand-drawn illustrations and text shine, flowing across the page with the music he plays. There is a lot of wisdom in this simple tale that, I think, is needed in many children’s lives, around our country, and the world.

I remember doing a study on school curricula — not of what was supposed to studied, but rather, what actually was taught. And one popular area that shown out as exceeding the standards in terms of what was actually taught was an overview of festivals, holidays, and other traditions. There is a wealth of information conveyed in a simple seasonal ceremony that helps bridge cultures and bring people together. This delightful book encompasses all that and more.

Especially for families and schools where a Korean presence is part of the everyday, this book could help bridge the gaps that can keep people from engaging with one another happily and healthily. The very well-made book includes brief summaries of specific festivals, alongside colorful painted illustrations, holiday recipes, crafts, folktales, and more. It’s a wonderful book for anyone with an interest in traditional Korean culture.

I remember when, off and on when I was quite young, my parents started going on exotic trips and vacations. Of all the treats and toys they brought back with them, my favorite was a simple children’s book of Thai folktales. This wonderful book, with quality binding, paper, and printing, tells nine such stories, each one soon to be another child’s favorite.

Many of them answer a basic question that children ask the world over, such as “Why do we have thunder and lightning?” or “How the tiger got its stripes.” The illustrations are lovely, the writing engaging, and the stories delightful.

This book is wonderful — as in, full of wonders! The beautiful painted illustrations are rendered vintage Asian style yet with a modern sensibility and sense of humor. The text for each fairy tale is very well written, each long enough to be the perfect bedtime story. The three stories all answer a timeless question: Why do cats and dogs fight? Why do roosters crow at sunrise? And, why is reward better than revenge? The book offers delightful insights into both traditional Korean society and the wonderful worlds of fairy tales which span the globe with their magic.

Don’t Let Them Disappear Review

Don’t Let Them Disappear Review

I thought I knew all the facts about all the exciting animals the world has to offer. You probably do, too. But quick, what is the world’s largest cat? Are you sure? This simple fact had me stumped, just like so many of the facts — featuring endangered animals — included in this delightful book.

Each full-color, two-page spread, explains intriguing facts about each species. But this isn’t a simple fact book. Rather, each factoid is nestled within a framework about each part of the day, with each animal entering at a different part of the day.

The information given offers overarching information, yet often focuses on how a family unit would spend their days. The approach may seem forthright yet this gentle shift in perspective helps the reader, however young, see themselves, and their day-to-day lives, reflected in these magnificent animals’ own behaviors, without anthropomorphizing them. It’s both inspired — and inspiring.

The book’s brief introduction explains the differences between the various terms which describe the dangers faced by the animals harmed by man’s intrusions, including those featured in this inspired and inspiring book: Nearly Vulnerable, Vulnerable, Endangered, Critically Endangered, Extinct in the Wild, and finally, Extinct.

The animals focused on here, though, are all still very much a part of our world, and perhaps, play an even larger part in our imaginations and visualizing the animal world. The 12 species include giraffes, gorillas, blue whales, rhinoceros, giant pandas, whale sharks, polar bears, lions, sea otters, orangutans, tigers, and elephants.

Written in an engaging and informative manner, yet with a welcoming and friendly tone, by Chelsea Clinton, well laid out aside lovely painted illustrations by Gianna Marino, and printed and bound with high quality paper, the book is a masterwork in children’s nonfiction picture books, by any measure. The book transforms information that could have (and often is) portrayed as dusty facts and figures into a warm and endearing portrayals that will intrigue children of all ages. It also helps convey why we should care for their fates, too, which is a genius achievement in itself.

Chelsea Clinton is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World; She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History; It’s Your World: Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going!; Start Now!: You Can Make a Difference and, with Devi Sridhar, Governing Global Health: Who Runs the World and Why? She is also the Vice Chair of the Clinton Foundation, where she works on many initiatives, including those that help empower the next generation of leaders. She lives in New York City with her husband, Marc, their daughter, Charlotte, their son, Aidan, and their dog, Soren. You can follow Chelsea Clinton on Twitter @ChelseaClinton.

Gianna Marino ( was born in San Francisco and spent her early years galloping horses through Golden Gate Park. She’s made a living as an apprentice to a muralist, a jewelry designer, a product designer and a horse carriage driver. Addicted to foreign adventure, Gianna has traveled worldwide, including Europe, Asia, Australia and Central and South America. Between explorations, she lives and works in Northern California and still gallops on horses.

Children’s Book Reviews

Children’s Book Reviews

What a delight! It is very well written with a warm and engaging story, driven by a central question of what would a village of snowmen would do for fun on Halloween? As revealed in the charming illustrations, filled with wonderful scenarios, is they’d make an ideal small town society living Its-A-Wonderful-Life-levels of nostalgic bliss. I love the painted illustrations, which are filled with delightful details — from the colorful shadows, to the clever Halloween costumes, to the wondrous expressions on each snowman’s face. An instant classic, this may be my favorite illustrated children’s book of the year!

Professionally, I’ve always been amazed at how strange it is that people with modest differences, who are “in the same boat” through life, can still decide that the other represents their polar opposite, even while they work, love, and live side-by-side. Until I saw my two daughters do exactly the same thing. They both love Peppa Pig, they both live together, yet they can so often be at odds with one another, even while they share so much in common.

So, I found this to be such a delightful book — especially for any other young sisters out there who may (or may not) get along, while they each find their own unique path in a great big world. Here, one sister loves to stage tea parties as a pretty princess, and the other, pretending to be a deadly ninja ready to spring into action, say, by raiding a nearby tea party. The illustrations are a delight, especially all the humorous toys’ expressions as they “watch” the goings-on. The book offers top-notch printing and binding as well, with full-color illustrations throughout. It’s all great fun with a wonderful lesson, too. This would be ideal for any home, school, or public library.

This fast-moving chapter book, for middle readers and up, jumps right into the action. So your young readers may want to read the first book in the series beforehand (titled “Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans”) where children are bequeathed some great gifts — including a map to a secret transit system that takes them to little-known landmarks around the world. On their journeys to find their missing benefactor, they encounter numerous clues — and secret evil organizations — along the way. Can they solve the puzzles and mysteries along the way? It’s all good, fast-paced fun, with clever integration of breezy dialog, silly and real life moments, and clues and hints, that may mystify and/or empower young readers as they know something the characters don’t.

They’ll be helped by the explanatory sections on the geography and monuments the children encounter, all of which exist in real life, and which run from roadside attractions to ancient temples in the Far East and Africa. Each location offers clues and entry and exit points to their worldwide travel network (be aware if the use of real religious monuments might offend you for cultural or religious reasons). There is a welcome answer key at the end of the book to many of the puzzles along the way. The book itself is well-bound on quality paper and is easy to read, with nice illustrations here and there throughout. I really admire the author’s writing style which neither condescends or belabors pointless details while reveling in delightful fun throughout its super-brief chapters. It’s a fast 400 pages of a true page-turner that kids will be surprised at how many pages they’ll read time they revisit this exciting story!

Confronting loss, separation, and tragedy may be difficult for anyone to manage and even more so for those who are non-verbal or autistic. This compelling book bravely confronts these challenges from the point of view of one such girl who becomes separated from her older sister, who knows “Nova” isn’t mentally handicapped, as those around her often suppose. They plan to meet together again when the next space shuttle takes off — Challenger.

This is an intriguing and warm book from a child whose mind is alive with memories and insights even though she cannot express them verbally. It is well-written in an engaging and polished style that seems truly expert, yet from a first-time author. The book itself is lovely with fine binding and occasional visual borders, aligning with the events of the story. Particularly if you know children who have met with loss, have been in foster care, or who interact with the autistic, this would a wonderful book to share with them.

You’re Missing It!  – Book Review

You’re Missing It! – Book Review

I recently saw a study reported which said that, more and more, children resent their parent’s smartphone use. And, voila, here is a wonderful children’s book which illustrates the frustration of children and all of life’s enjoyments that their parents are missing out on.

A trip to the park escalates into a whimsical stampede of fun before the parent begin to realize what’s really happening around them. The vividly colorful illustrations are an absolute delight, and the hand-lettered typography is fun and engaging. Judging from the survey, I think many children would appreciate this charming book — I know my own kids do! — and is a must-buy for libraries catering to children.