Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fairy Tale Titles In Time For Live Action Beauty and the Beast Movie ie. First Stories Fairy Tales for young hands [Review & Giveaway]

Talk about the new movie Beauty and the Beast just releasing is seemingly on all fronts. Adults, teens, and kiddies alike are talking. So here we go on Chat With Vera - a bit of fairy tale wonder for the small ones. Board books designed with push, pull, and slide features to engage the young hands and mind and traipse a bit into the different world that is "the fairy tale."

ISBN: 9781626868977

First Stories: Beauty and the Beast by Dan Taylor (Illustrations)

"Do you love me, Beauty? Will you marry me?" First Stories: Beauty and the Beast is a perfect introduction to this classic fairytale. Push, pull, and turn mechanisms bring the story to life and introduce all the main characters: Beauty, her father, and of course the Beast! This well-loved fairytale is beautifully imagined for a new generation by children's illustrator Dan Taylor.

My thoughts: Now I don't know, but I think I would be a bit fearful if I was taken by my father to a huge house (think castle) and left with a beast. A big, furry, scary beast! But not young Beauty. She relished the fancy feast and saw his kindness. Beast fell in love with Beauty because of her happiness and laughter. Then the magical kiss that changed him from Beast to Handsome Prince.

A real fairy tale ending of happy-ever-after. An unrealistic story - but then most fairy tales are. I absolutely love the push, pull, slide, turn features. The books is bright and very sturdy. Silver Dolphin Books and artist Dan Taylor have done a grand job with this little book.

ISBN: 9781626868984

First Stories: Cinderella by Dan Taylor (Illustrations)

"Cinderella, you shall go to the ball!" First Stories: Cinderella is a perfect introduction to this classic fairytale. Push, pull, and turn mechanisms bring the story to life and introduce all the main characters: Cinderella, her stepsisters, the handsome prince, and of course the fairy godmother. This well-loved fairytale is beautifully imagined for a new generation by children's illustrator Dan Taylor.

My thoughts: Ah, we all know the sweet story of Cinderella and how she was rescued from her laborious life of drudgery by the magical abilities of the Fairy Godmother and the Prince who fell in love with her. All little girls want to be beautifully dressed for the magical ball and so they can relate to Cinderella.

Beautifully done in bright, energetic colors and illustrations, this little board book will entice once again young readers into the world that was Cinderella's.

Another fairy tale well done by Silver Dolphin Books and Dan Taylor and just right for little hands.

ISBN: 9781626869004

First Stories: Rapunzel by Dan Taylor (Illustrations)

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair!" First Stories: Rapunzel is the perfect introduction for young children to this classic fairytale. Push, pull, and turn mechanisms bring the story to life and introduce all the main characters: Rapunzel, the handsome prince, and of course the wicked witch! This well-loved fairytale is beautifully imagined for a new generation by children's illustrator Dan Taylor.

My thoughts: This board book is beautifully executed with engaging push, pull, slide tabs that reveal additional action and images. The size is a seven inch square just right for young hands. Colors are bright. Illustrations detailed and lively. The story is told in a sort of rhyme and is a retelling of an old fairy tale.

Being an old fairy tale, it begins with a harshness that I find unsuitable for the youth for which this board book is intended. Hence, particular care should  be exercised in reading it to young children. My reasoning?
A baby named Rapunzel, with hair so fair and bright, Was taken by a wicked witch, one dark and stormy night. (pictured are the parents looking on as the witch snatches the baby from the crib).
Now I realize that fairy tales involve witches, bad things happening, and happy-ever-after. But I am troubled (hmmmm... a troubled tale troubles me) that a young child be worried about their own safety and the ability of their parents to protect and care for him or her.

Otherwise, an adorable book and I truly love the push, pull, slide features.

3 Board Books for 1 Winner
Begins March 21
ENDS April 10 @ 12:011 a.m EDT
Open to USA Addresses Only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


For nearly 20 years, Silver Dolphin Books has published award-winning activity, novelty, and educational nonfiction books for preschoolers to 12-year-olds. Our focus is to create books that engage and inspire children to learn more about the world around them while fostering a love of reading, exploration, and creative expression. From adorably-illustrated board books for toddlers, to interactive play and building sets, to sound books made for story time, we develop innovative books that both enlighten and entertain.

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of each of these books from the publicist on behalf of author and publisher, Silver Dolphin Books, to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own. I was not compensated.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz illustrated by Brian Floca [Review & Giveaway - USA/CANADA]

On sale March 28 2017 
ISBN: 9780763648220
Picture Book, 80 pages
Ages 4-8
My thoughts:  This is a fun book to read and children will thoroughly enjoy it. Just the right length for readers in grades three and four who are delving into the realm of early chapter books with a substantial amount of text and abundantly illustrated, the young reader will gleefully cheer the Princess on as she rebels the rigid scheduling of her life and escapes to explore the great out-of-doors on her own.

Her co-conspirator is the wickedly cute crocodile who changes places with her in exchange for some luscious cream puffs.

The illustrations will capture the attention and tickle the funnies out of every reader. Brian Floca is a Caldecott Medalist and it is easy to see why he has been so recognized because his art charms, captures the attention, entertains, and tells the story just as the author intended - with wit and clarity.

The story by Newberry Medalist author Laura Amy Schlitz is just the right length for young readers who are entering the chapter book realm. It is complete with a beginning, need, solution, and conclusion. It ends on a joyful note which is good for young readers who love (and perhaps need) a happily-ever-after story.

The problem Princess Cora faces is an over scheduled life where she doesn't have time to discover the world and life on her own. Each scheduled activity is truly good and desirable, but they leave no time for her to be a child and do what a child does so well - play and discover. It has been said, "Play is the work of children." And so it is in a child's play that the work of self-discovery, invention, adaptation, and originality come into being. The story has a lesson for parents as well as a bit of fun for children.

What I especially like:
  • The wonderful illustrations done in strong pastels and with fascinating details.
  • The part where Princess Cora is on her own exploring the out-of-doors - picking strawberries, making a bed/fort under the pines, etc.
  • The wickedly funny crocodile.
  • The facial expressions on the characters showing their reactions.
What I didn't care much for:
  • Princess Cora calling something "stupid."
  • Princess Cora rebelling against her parent's plans.
  • Princess Cora being out 'n about on her own. (Of course, she was on the castle grounds, so this was probably o.k.)
I really think the book is superb and the author and artist have done a wonderful job of putting it together to create a charming story.

About the book: A Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Medalist join forces to give an overscheduled princess a day off — and a deliciously wicked crocodile a day on.

Princess Cora is sick of boring lessons. She’s sick o  and of running in circles around the dungeon gym. She’s sick, sick, sick of taking three baths a day. And her parents won’t let her have a dog. But when she writes to her fairy godmother for help, she doesn’t expect that help to come in the form of a crocodile—a crocodile who does not behave properly. With perfectly paced dry comedy, children’s book luminaries Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca send Princess Cora on a delightful outdoor adventure — climbing trees! getting dirty! having fun! — while her alter ego wreaks utter havoc inside the castle, obliging one pair of royal helicopter parents to reconsider their ways.
Begins March 20
ENDS April 10 @ 12:01 EDT
a Rafflecopter giveaway

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Once Upon An Elephant by Linda Stanek from Arbordale Publishing [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: I tend to think of elephants as large animals that roam Africa and as gentle giants of the animal world. I've seen them in zoos and in the circus. Recently, their plight in captivity has been recognized and many have been rescued and located where they can live out the remainder of their lives.

But I recently learned that elephants are a crucial part of survival of other animals and species in the wild. They are what is considered a keystone species.

As they roam they leave deep impressions where their feet impact the earth. In these impressions, small puddles of water remain from which birds and small mammals can drink. They uproot and eat small trees that sprout in the grasslands enabling the grasslands to remain intact for those species that need such.

They use their tusks to dig and then eat the soil for nutrients and in so doing expose salts that other animals need to survive. They also dig down into the dry, hard earth and expose reservoirs of water so other animals can have water to survive.

All this and more is explained in the Arbordale picture book Once Upon An Elephant. Beautiful illustrations show how the elephant is so crucial to survival of other animals. At the end of the book are a couple of pages of additional information and activities for the Creative Mind. This is a trait of Arbordale Publishing's book and one I always look forward to seeing.

Once Upon An Elephant shows us that the elephant is important for other specices to survive and the way the elephant's life impacts these animals. Just another reason for us to help protect these magnificient creatures. The book is written as an enjoyable learning tool for preschoolers through early elementary.

About the book: From stopping wildfires to planting seeds, one animal is the true superhero that keeps the African savanna in balance. Elephants dig to find salt for animals to lick, their deep footprints collect water for everyone to drink, and they eat young trees to keep the forest from overtaking the grasslands. In every season, the elephants are there to protect the savanna and its residents but what would happen if the elephants were only "once upon a time"? Read along to discover the important role this keystone species plays in the savanna and explore what would happen if the elephants vanished. 

Begins March 20
Ends April 17 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
Open to USA Addresses Only.
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Arbordale Publishing to facilitate this review of my own opinions which are freely given.

Rain by Sam Usher Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press [Review & Giveaway]

My thoughts: The imagination of a child - well, an imaginative little boy - coupled with what you can experience on a raining day out in the rain is truly marvelous as author/artist Sam Usher has given us in his book Rain. The real winner and story teller of the book is the illustrations as they tell the story that words can't convey - a boy's imagation and desire to explore and enjoy.

It's raining. It keeps raining and the boy really wants to go explore the puddles, catch drops in his mouth, and envision and experience the imaginary as he splashes and dashes through the rain. Granddad is busy writing a letter and other things grandpops do until when finally the rain stops and he says, "let's go." 

The adventure begins. The illustrations capture ships, pirates, flags, and oh so  much more that runs through the mind of the boy as he enjoys his adventure.

A lovely hardcover book with  glorious shinny spot gloss drops on the cover and inside you’ll find the enchanting and lively illustrations by the talented Sam Usher. A sure winner.

Templar Books, an imprint of Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763692964
Picture book, 40 pages
Ages 3-7

About the book: Sam and Granddad brave the rain and floods and have the best adventure ever!

Sam wants to go out, but it's pouring rain, so Granddad says they need to stay inside until the rain stops. Sam drinks hot chocolate and reads his books and dreams of adventures while Granddad does some paperwork. When Granddad needs to mail his letter, it’s time to go out—despite the rain and floods—and Sam and Granddad have a magical adventure. The follow-up to the acclaimed Snow, this is the second title in a four-book series based on the weather from creator Sam Usher.
Open to USA & CANADA
No P.O.Boxes
Begins March 19 
Ends April 9 @ 12:01 a.m. EDT
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the pubilsher to facilitate a review. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Found by Sally Lloyd-Jones

My thoughts: Well respected and highly anticipated author, Sally Lloyd-Jones has used her unique talent to share Psalm 23 with the very young child and artfully created the message with easy to interpret pictures that the young child can understand.

The text of the beloved Psalm 23 is simply put forth in words for the very young child. To me this is not an opportunity to actually teach the Psalm to the child. No, it is a little board book for young hands and young hearts to be able to understand how God is always with the child and He will always take care of him or her.

I would strongly encourage parents and caregivers to begin teaching the actual text of Psalm 23 to the child in short phrases as soon as they are able to grasp it. Committing it to memory will surely bring comfort throughout his or her life. But for the time being and for the very young child, it is good to take an opportunity such as the book Found presents to teach the child about God's presence.

About the book: From the bestselling The Jesus Storybook Bible, with over two million products sold, comes Found based on Psalm 23. Written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Jago, little ones will fall in love with this padded cover board book that reminds them of God’s never stopping, never giving up, unbreakable, always and forever love.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher through the BookLook review program to facilitate this review. I was not compensated.

The Blue Hour by Isabelle Simler from Eerdman's Publishing

Age Range: 4 - 8 years
Hardcover: 42 pages
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13: 978-0802854889
My thoughts:  The use of a collection of hues and shades of blues by the artist author to create The Blue Hour results in an engaging sensual delight. So many and varied creatures and objects exist that are of blue colorization and yet we miss it in our daily lives. Yes, we delight when we see a Blue Bird or a Blue Jay and we love blue flowers and blue skies, but there is more, so much more.

Isabelle Simler has gathered this variety from across the globe and all climates. And then she has settled them what is known, especially in the photographic world, as "The Blue Hour." Just what is "the blue hour"?
The blue hour (from French l'heure bleue) is the period of twilight early in the dawn each morning and late in the dusk each evening when the sun is at a significant distance below the horizon and the residual, indirect sunlight takes on a predominantly blue hue. This effect is caused by the relative diffusibility of short blue wavelengths of light versus the longer red wavelengths. During the blue "hour" (typically a period about 40 minutes in length), red light passes straight into space while blue light is scattered in the atmosphere and therefore reaches the earth's surface. Many artists treasure this period because of the quality of the light. (source)
The children's picture book uses limited text with beautiful artistry predominantly in blues with vivid touches of other colors to tell the story of how the world and its creatures settle down for the night and it is such a gentle, sweet story.

Beautiful blue flowers and blue butterflies, moths, insects.
I found the book to be a treasure in that it is a gentle bedtime reading, an artistically beautiful book, educational in global placement of all the creatures, and an introduction into the "blue hour" phenomena. And there is also the two pages at the beginning with circles of named shades and hue of blue with will prove to be a great tool for identifying specific blues. A plus for any library collection which I highly recommend.
This global image shows each of the creatures featured in The Blue Hour and their location.

About the book:  A lovely and tranquil celebration of nature

The sun has set, the day has ended, but the night hasn't quite arrived yet. This magical twilight is known as the blue hour. Everything in nature—sky, water, flowers, birds, foxes—comes together in a symphony of blue to celebrate the merging of night and day.

With its soothing text and radiant artwork, this elegant picture book displays the majesty of nature and reminds readers that beauty is fleeting but also worth savoring.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Eerdmans Publishing to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and I was not compensated.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Still Life by Dani Pettrey from Bethany House Publishing

ISBN13: 9780764212956
My thoughts: The author, Dani Pettrey, has woven a multi-layered suspense story set in the Baltimore, Maryland area. Utilizing a cozy group of co-workers who probe until they find the culprits in the horrific criminal cases to which they have been assigned. Pettrey takes the reader into the world that makes up the lives of these men and women of valor.

The friendship, sense of humor, and romantic entanglements show they are human and how they cope with the grimness that is their daily world. Infused with faith that sustains and gives hope, the characters learn to overcome their past and go forth forgiven.

In Still Life the main thread dances around the photographic art show from which a main piece has been swapped out and in its place another piece depicting a posed model who appears to have been dead when the picture was taken. As the team pursues the art theft a darker, twisted crime becomes evident requiring intense probing.

While the team pursues this art crime, others of the team tackle a boating incident involving human trafficking.

Pettrey shows the reader how dark and depraved the human physic can become and yet she handles these issues with discretion. I don't care for reading about some of the elements of criminal depravity addressed in Still Life but the author writes without too much horrific detail.

About the book: Work hits too close to home for crime scene photographer Avery Tate when her best friend disappears. The only lead is a chilling photo of her--apparently dead. As Avery, her boss Parker, and his friends dig into the case, she's forced to confront her feelings for Parker when they come face-to-face with a dangerous criminal.

DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Beth House to facilitate a review of my opinions. I was not compensated.