Review: Graveyard Girls Scream for the Camera by Lisi Harrison & Daniel Kraus

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When we last saw the Graveyard Girls, Whisper, Sophie, Gemma, and their friend Zuzu, they had just found out that someone stole Silas Hoke’s body. In the next installment in the series, Graveyard Girls: Scream for the Camera by Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus, they are on a quest to find out who did it.

The girls try to solve the mystery by consulting a Ouija board, which lets the spirit of long-ago murdered Ginny Baker into the living world where she causes all kinds of mischief. As she sends the girls signs and speaks through Zuzu, they encounter one challenge after another. They are tested in unexpected ways, but find themselves rising to each challenge.

Scream for the Camera ends in another mystery, which sets up the story for the next book. Young readers aged 9 to 12 who like creepy mysteries will be happy to keep up in the series.

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

Review: Quest Kids and the Dark Prophecy of Doug

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The lovable troupe of adventure seekers from Quest Kids and the Dragon Pants of Gold continue their search for Ned’s parents in Quest Kids and the Dark Prophecy of Doug.

Six months after Ned, Terra, Gil, Boulder, and Ash found a creative way to save a village from a dragon, they find a clue from a shapeshifter that someone named Doug may know where to find Ned’s missing mom and dad. They follow that clue to a pirate named Helen, who tells them about Doug’s dark prophecy and offers to sail them to the Forsaken Lands to find him.

Unfortunately, Helen is better at making jewelry than she is at sailing, so she leads them into misadventures before they reach their destination. When they finally encounter Doug, he’s making plans to fulfill his prophecy. Can the Quest Kids work their magic again to save Ned’s parents and the rest of the world from his evil plans?

This installment of Quest Kids is just as delightful as the first, with a combination of graphic drawings and written narrative to move the story along. Readers will enjoy finding out more about Ned and his family’s background, as well as following the quirks of all the characters.

It ends in a bit of a cliffhanger, with a teaser about more info to come, so fans will have something to look forward to. I recommend Quest Kids and the Dark Prophecy of Doug for readers aged 9 to 12.

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

Book Review: Hello Trees by Nina Chakrabarti

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Hello Trees: A Little Guide to Nature by Nina Chakrabarti is a great little book for children about something we see every day but probably don’t give much thought to. This small-format pocket guide is handy enough to take out to the park, a stroll in the woods, or just an amble about the neighborhood.

And even though it’s small, it’s chock full of information that even adults may learn from. For instance, I think I know a lot about trees and how they grow, but I was surprised to find that leaves turn orange because of carotene, which is also found in carrots. And that the tree of heaven smells like rancid peanut butter.

Beautiful illustrations are presented in a way that’s almost like a nature journal. They show tree canopies and roots, trunks, and leaves. Readers see comparative heights for different types of trees, and they learn the difference between deciduous and evergreen trees.

There’s even suggestions for a few activities, like making leaf prints and bark rubbings. The last page lists ways we can all be friends of trees. Hello Trees is great for little naturalists aged 6 and up.

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

Book Review: Mascot by Charles Waters & Traci Sorell

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What happens when students of a public school see the sports mascot as racist and others see it as a tradition to be upheld? That’s the question asked in the middle grade novel Mascot by Charles Waters and Traci Sorell.

Told in verse from the viewpoint of six eighth-grade students and their teacher in an honors English class, Mascot looks at this often-contentious issue from multiple viewpoints. The students come from different backgrounds, representing communities that are Native American, Black, white, Latino and Indian American. They come from different socio-economic backgrounds. All have strong opinions about the school mascot and what it stands for.

The teacher assigns a research topic on the mascot and what it means to different people, and she pairs students up to argue for or against changing it. Students are assigned a viewpoint, which doesn’t necessarily match what they believe.

Reading about their process of discovery is interesting. And while the book leads readers to agree with one side more than the other, it also honestly presents both viewpoints. As the story unfolds, some students change their thinking on the issue, some do not.

Sports teams at all levels grapple with this hot-button issue, and Mascot provides a way for readers aged 10 and up to think critically about it.

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

Review: She’s a Mensch! by Rachelle Burk & Alana Barouch

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Mensch is a Yiddish word that refers to someone who has integrity, and whom others consider to be good, possibly a role model. Authors Rachelle Burk and Alana Barouch, a mother-daughter team, have highlighted several Jewish women through history who fall into this category in their picture book, She’s a Mensch!

The book features highlights and accomplishments from the lives of each woman listed. It also includes pop-outs with a “Fun Fact to Mensch’n” and questions for young readers to reflect upon. For instance, part of the fun fact about Emma Lazarus, the poet who wrote a famous poem about the Statue of Liberty, is that she was a Sephardic Jew whose ancestors came to America before the American Revolution.

Arielle Trenk’s illustrations are nicely done portraits of the mensches and what they are known for. Rhyming verse also sprinkles the text. Here’s an example:

Jewish women ’round the world have talent, strength, and smarts. They shine like stars in every field from science to the arts.

As young readers read about these women and how they have contributed to society, they also learn about history. Other mensches featured include, Shari Lewis, a beloved puppeteer, Golda Meir, former prime minister of Israel, author Judy Blume, and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The list includes athletes, spies, performers, scientists, and more. The timeline of the lives lived spans from 1883 to 2019.

She’s a Mensch! is a great book for anyone wanting to introduce their children to Jewish women’s contributions to society during this time period.

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

Review: Bees Are Our Friends by Toni D’Alia & Alice Lindstrom

Bees are so important for pollinating the food we eat and the flowers we love to smell, as well as for so many other reasons. Bees Are Our Friends, a picture book by Toni D’Alia and Alice Lindstrom, introduces young readers to the work bees do and helps them to see how bees benefit the world.

Gorgeously illustrated with paper collage using a cut-and-paste technique, the book follows a honeybee as she goes about her day. The words rhyme, and flow on the page.

“Down in the garden, up high in a tree,

is a busy beehive and one little bee.”

When the words are read out loud, the cadence matches perfectly with the flight of a bee. She flies along collecting nectar from flowers and helping to pollinate a vegetable garden so it will grow. She stores nectar to make a honeycomb in her hive.

The book ends with an illustration of happy honeybees asleep in their cells within the hive. The image makes for a great end to a bedtime book.

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

Book Review: Draw This! by Marion Deuchars

Draw This! Art Activities to Unlock the Imagination by artist Marion Deuchars, is a small book designed to help budding artists tap into their creativity and make some art. Known for her Let’s Make Some Great Art series, Deuchars helps make the process of turning simple lines and squiggles into animals, insects, and other creatures that young minds can dream up.

Simple materials like pens, pencils and colored pencils are all that’s needed to follow the instructions. Some of the instructions are open ended, like when Deuchars asks, “What’s that hiding behind the clouds?” on two pages filled with puffy white clouds in a blue sky. Others are more intentional, like the steps on how to draw a cartoon rabbit.

Draw This! is sure to provide hours of entertainment and support kids’ imaginations as well as their confidence and joy in making art. I recommend it for ages six and up.

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

Review: The Case of the Missing Tarts by Christee Curran-Bauer

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The Pigeon Private Detectives have a new case: someone stole a plate of tarts from the precinct. Crumbs and clues are dropped all over the office, and they’ll have to investigate them closely to find the culprit.

Book One of the Pigeon Private Detectives series, The Case of the Missing Tarts, finds the three sleuths hungry as they go follow the trail of clues. Their work takes them to a hot dog stand, a pond in the park, and a bakery. Readers get snippets about the tart thief that can help them figure out who did it.

The Case of the Missing Tarts is a cute story that should catch the interest of budding sleuths and beginning readers aged 6 to 8.

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

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