Book Giveaway & Review: This Book Is Gray by Lindsay Ward

Giveaway: I have one copy of This Book Is Gray to give away courtesy of Two Lions (U.S. addresses only, please). For a chance to win, just leave a comment about your favorite gray thing in life. Mine is our family kitty, a gray tuxedo with lots of personality.

Be sure to comment by midnight (PST), on Saturday, January 18, 2020 to be entered into the drawing.

Review: Gray just wants to help, but she’s always getting left out. The primaries—Red, Blue, and Yellow—have so much fun coloring that they don’t want to let dull, gloomy Gray play with them. So she decides to create her own story about a hippo, a wolf, and a kitten, all gray animals, of course. When the other colors find out, they want to join the action. But that’s not what Gray has in mind at all.

This Book Is Gray by Lindsay Ward introduces children to concepts about color while also telling a great story about inclusiveness and diversity. A Color Glossary on the inside front cover helps kids identify achromatic colors like black and white, primary colors, secondary colors, complementary colors and other terms.

Wards illustrations are playful and surprisingly colorful for a book named This Book Is Gray. The color comes from the characters who show up in Gray’s book wanting to change the story line. There’s lots of fun to be had by both parents and their little ones from multiple readings.

Here’s a little bit more about the author: Lindsay Ward is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series as well as Brobarians, Rosco vs. the Baby, and The Importance of Being 3. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. Lindsay lives in Peninsula, Ohio, with her family. Gray is one of her favorite colors. Learn more about her online at @lindsaymward

The publisher provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The Grossest Picture Book Ever by Derek Taylor Kent

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Once upon a time there was a town named Gross, which claimed to be the grossest place from coast to coast. It was so gross, the story of this town became a picture book by Derek Taylor Kent, called …The Grossest Picture Book Ever.

Two small residents of the town show readers around. They get to meet Larry Magoo, who has a truck made of poo, Libby Sue Groches, who has millions of roaches, and Benjamin Blott, with his house made of snot. It’s all perfectly gross, and perfectly designed to appeal to young children who are fascinated with all things socially taboo (most of them). Kids will love the story, and indulging parents will learn to like it too, when they get to laugh with their kids while reading it out loud. The last page even has a challenge: try reading the book out loud and make a video of it without laughing. It’s all a lot of fun.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Most of the Better Natural Things in the World by Dave Eggers and Angel Chang

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Dave Eggers and Angel Chang have created a picture book that shines a light on the beauty to be found in nature. Called Most of the Better Natural Things in the World, the book is sparse on words, highlighting the names of places, such as natural formations like a gorge, gulch, foothills, and fjord. Environments such as a steppe, cloud forest, estuary, and oasis, are among those also featured.

Chang’s illustrations are breathtaking, and parents will enjoy exploring the nuances of each page as they talk about the variety of places to be found on Earth. There’s even a panoramic fold-out page to illustrate a vista.

The story is also carried along through the journey of a lone tiger traveling with a chair and a rope. Readers find out his destination at the very end, when he arrives in the taiga to find what is waiting for him. A glossary of terms for each of the places visited is in the back. The whole effect makes a sweet story that parents will appreciate while they help their children learn about the natural world.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Insect Superpowers by Kate Messner

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Insect Superpowers: 18 Real Bugs That Smash, Zap, Hypnotize, Sting, and Devour! by Kate Messner is a great book to feed any kid’s budding interest in science. Jillian Nickell’s illustrations show in graphics how these often tiny creatures repel predators, find food, and more. Some of the facts seem more fit for a “believe it or not” entry, like the African bombardier bettle, which sprays a hot, noxious mist from its backside when threatened. Or the Bullet ant, which has a sting so powerful its sting hurts for a full day.

The book starts with a descriptor of the insect family tree, and how these bugs are classified scientifically. Then, six chapters focus on different bug superpowers, such as speed camouflage, size, and chemical emissions. Each profile of an insect starts with the common name, what it’s commonly known as, and the scientific name. Narrative with facts is interspersed with scenarios that read like a superhero comic book. It’s designed to keep kids turning and staying engaged as they learn.

I recommend Insect Superpowers for readers aged 9 to 12.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The Disaster Days by Rebecca Behrens

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Hannah Steele is a little nervous when she agrees to babysit her neighbor’s two school-age children. It’s only her second time babysitting, and all the adults she knows will be off the remote island where they live near Seattle. But it’s only for a few hours, so she agrees to do it. When a major earthquake hits, Hannah finds herself stranded in a wrecked home with no prospect of adults arriving for several days. Somehow she has to keep herself, the kids, and their pet hamster safe, warm, and fed until help arrives.

The Disaster Days by Rebecca Behrens is not only an interesting story about Hannah and the challenges she goes through after the earthquake, it’s also a primer on how to be prepared in the event of a major emergency. With windows shattered, the refrigerator blocked, and cold and dark settling in, Hannah must look for things that will help them survive: a flashlight, bandages, food, water, safe shelter, and warm blankets. A hand-cranked/solar radio also comes in handy so she can get news about what’s going on in the outside world. As I read, I found myself tallying up the things in my own home that I would need if disaster struck, and making a list of things for my own emergency kit.

Young readers could also enjoy reading about Hannah’s adventures, then working with their parents to assemble a kit in their own homes and talk about what they needed to troubleshoot any situation when there’s no power or cell service to rely on. Hannah finds help in old encyclopedias, a Girl Scout Handbook, and other printed materials she finds at home.

I highly recommend The Disaster Days for mother-daughter book clubs and readers aged 9 to 12.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Black Canary: Ignite by Meg Cabot

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Dinah Lance has a loud voice. She uses it when she’s mad, or excited, or worried. Her boisterous ways serve her well in the band she’s in with her two best friends. But it causes trouble other times, like when she yells at people who irritate her. What’s really strange, though, is that sometimes when she gets emotional and her voice gets loud, glass breaks all around her. Even though she lives in Gotham City, where superheroes abound, she doesn’t think much of this until she discovers a secret her mom has been holding onto. A secret that will change everything Dinah thinks she knows about herself and her family.

Black Canary: Ignite, written by Meg Cabot and illustrated by Cara McGee, is a graphic novel introducing young readers to a superhero that looks a lot like them. Dinah is in middle school, and her concerns are mostly the same as those of her friends. She wants her band to get recognition, she wants other kids in school to stop picking on her, and she wants to stop getting into trouble with the principal and her parents.

During career week she wants to sign up for a junior crime fighter’s group, because she wants to become a policeman like her dad. When Dinah discovers she has special powers, she also meets her first nemesis, a baddie named Bonfire with a grudge. That’s when she gets to find out if she’s got what it takes to fight the bad guys.

Black Canary: Ignite is fast-paced with lots of action. Dinah is a winning character sure to be a hit with readers aged 9 to 13.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid by Kirk Scroggs

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Russell isn’t like the other kids at Houma Bayou Middle School. For one thing, he’s green. And his hair is like duckweed. Plus, he’s got webbed toes and a carrot growing from his finger. As a baby, he was found in the swamp and adopted by a local couple, but no one knows where he came from. When he starts seeking answers, suddenly he notices mysterious men watching his every move. Will he ever find out the secrets of the swamp and tune into his connection with it?

The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid introduces a middle-school superhero whose special powers tend toward the vegetable side of nature. Fun and funny, the story unfolds through comic-book-like entries in Russell’s notebook. With the help of his friends, he ventures into the deep swamp for clues about his origin, which helps him discover his powers in the final showdown.

Kids aged 9 to 13 and up are sure to love this slimy green superhero. The book also has great “Boredom Relief Activities” in the back, which include lessons on drawing, a maze to navigate, and more.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: Cursed by Thomas Wheeler and Frank Miller

Nimue doesn’t know why her mother’s last act is to thrust a sword into her hands and implore her to take it to Merlin. All she knows is that the Paladins, holy men intent on destroying her kind, are wiping out villages all over the countryside. And that when she holds the sword she feels a strange power. With a price on her head and the assistance of a hired sword named Arthur, Nimue sets out on a quest to fulfill her mother’s dying wish and save her people.

Cursed, written by Thomas Wheeler with illustrations by Frank Miller, is the origin story of the sword in the stone. Told with lots of action and intrigue, the tale evolves around Nimue, but it also brings in other familiar characters from the classic story, including Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot, Gawain, and Guinevere. Readers will be surprised to find how their lives intersect and weave together, and the story holds a few tweaks from the familiar.

Cursed, which is also being developed for a Netflix series, is sure to delight readers who love action, adventure, and imaginative takes on well-known myths, but don’t mind a bit of carnage. I recommend it for ages 14 and up.

The publisher provided me with a copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.

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