Phew! I'm Glad That's Done

asslep at desk000008789020XSmallWell, after going through two years worth of book reviews, I think I finally have moved all the books for younger readers to this blog.  So, going forward, all reviews of children’s, middle grade, YA and teen books will appear here, in addition to a few books for parents from time to time.

We hope you like what we’ve done so far.  Feel free to leave us some feedback on what would make visiting The Kids Book Connection more fun for you.

Our family leaves tomorrow for a two-week vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, so The Kids Book Connection will be on hiatus.  Believe it or not, I am leaving the laptop at home.  Our other blog, The Book Connection, will continue to be updated if technology and Blogger works correctly.

Have fun!  See you in two weeks.

Cheryl

Miss L'eau Inspires Little Hands to Do Big Things by T. Katz

Miss_L'eauTwo young boys in a coastal town discover a secret about their mysterious elementary school teacher, Miss L’eau. James and David had always known there was something unusual about her, but they could never quite put their finger on it. David discovered their first clue had been there all along, in her eyes.

The boys lived their whole lives near the ocean, but had never thought about how important it was or how vulnerable it might be. Through Miss L’eau, and her unexpected relationship to the sea, they develop a deeper love and understanding of the ocean and become involved with the nearby aquarium to organize an annual seaside clean-up.

The author of Miss L’eau, T. Katz, wrote an article on how her book inspires young people to get involved.

Miss L’eau Inspires Little Hands To Do Big Things
by T. Katz, author of Miss L’eau

Having been born in Santa Cruz, CA only blocks from the beach, I always said that I had saltwater in my veins and have never liked being too far from the sea. Years ago, I moved to the high desert area of California and would run away to the shore whenever I could. As years passed, I noticed more and more trash on the beaches and knew how it was affecting the world at large. Water covers nearly 75% of earth’s surface and is critical to the balance of the planet, so I wrote Miss L’eau to help kids understand that everyone can pitch in to take care of it, no matter how small their hands are.

Miss L’eau tells the tale of two kids in a coastal town who discover a secret about their elementary school teacher, which changes their lives forever. The boys had always known there was something unusual about Miss L’eau, but they could never quite put their finger on it. Even though David and James have always lived near the ocean, they never thought about its importance, power and certainly never its vulnerability. Thanks to their teacher and her unexpected relationship to the sea, the boys develop a love and understanding for the great body of water covering most of the earth’s surface.

While it seems that most kids embrace the idea of taking care of the planet, it has been my experience that they also find the task of cleaning their own room overwhelming. In my children’s chapter book, Miss L’eau I wanted kids to relate to the boys in the story and how they, too felt that organizing a community clean-up might be too much for them. James and David initially ask for help, but come to realize they are more capable than they originally thought they were.

It is my hope that Miss L’eau inspires kids to want to protect and preserve our oceans and research more about how to do just that. In the book, James tells his teacher his ideas for an annual seaside clean-up and begins to write out a plan to do so (work with a local aquarium, speak to city officials, etc.). The main goal of Miss L’eau is to motivate readers to start thinking about how they might follow the example of the kids in the story and after, they can visit the Miss L’eau webpage for step-by-step instructions on organizing their own clean-up in their community. Parents and educators can utilize an on-line study guide (located at http://www.tkatz.com) to further encourage conversation and help children research more about ocean conservation and preservation.

Miss L’eau is a fictional story with a factual heart and if one page makes a young reader want to investigate more about protecting and preserving the water surrounding us, then I think a good deed was done.

T. Katz is the author of the children’s chapter book, Miss L’eau. You can visit her website at www.TKatz.com or her blog at www.TKatz.typepad.com.

Too Many Visitors for One Little House by Susan Chodakiewitz

Too_Many_Visitors_for_One_Little_HouseYou’ll find a funny and delightful story of offbeat neighbors making a big splash when they move into a quiet community in Too Many Visitors for One Little House by Susan Chodakiewitz.

The neighbors of El Camino Street don’t seem to like anything: pets, kids or big families. They hate babies, huggy-kissy families and music. So when the new neighbors move in, they are not happy at all. They pull up in a huge camper and out comes teens with tons of stuff, grown-ups, a toddler, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins. They zip on skateboards, play music and clatter around the kitchen.

The people of El Camino Street must do something…but none of them expects what comes next.

Too Many Visitors for One Little House is a charming and funny story of being included, making new friends and accepting our differences. Author Susan Chodakiewitz does an excellent job of creating quirky characters who come together at a new house for a family reunion, much to the dismay of the older residents of the street.

Children may relate one of these cranky neighbors to someone they know; and they will certainly find at least one character who reminds them of a family member. Based upon the back cover blurb, it’s possible that Chodakiewitz used her own big family as inspiration for this story.

Illustrator Veronica Walsh makes her debut with Too Many Visitors for One Little House. From cover to cover her digital color illustrations perfectly compliment the story and her attention to detail brings these fictional characters to life for young readers.

Perhaps the best part of Too Many Visitors for One Little House is that children will be learning while enjoying a humorous and engaging story.

You and your child will love to read this story over and again.

Rating:   :) :) :) :) :)

  • Publisher: Booksicals
  • ISBN: 978-1-4196-5470-1
  • SRP: $13.99 (U.S)

Wenda the Wacky Wiggler by Christopher Aslan

Wenda the Wacky WigglerWenda loves to laugh and dance and feel herself move. The grumpy and grey people in her town, however, did not like her to do any of those things. So, they figure if they stop the music and the singing, Wenda will go away. Wenda and the townsfolk soon learn, however, the love and joy that comes from inside is something that can never be stopped, and sharing it changes people forever.

What a wonderful way to show children how to listen to their own voice! Wenda the Wacky Wiggler is a charming and beautifully illustrated picture book that both entertains and educates.

Published by Benjamin Brown Books, Christopher Aslan one of the company’s founders, has found his voice in a planned series of books that both inspire, educate and entertain. Wenda the Wacky Wiggler is the second book in the publisher’s Rainbow Collection. The first book, Lilly and Lucy’s Shadow, encourages children to overcome their fears.

Kudos go out to illustrator Emily Mullock, whose colorful and stunning illustrations bring Wenda and her town to life. This is Mullock’s first book project and I look forward to more from her.

Every child needs to know what they have to offer to this world; and Wenda the Wacky Wiggler is an excellent way to teach them this lesson while enjoying a fun book.

Rating:   :) :) :) :) :)

  • Publisher: Benjamin Brown Books
  • ISBN-10: 0978255321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0978255329
  • SRP:  $19.95 (U.S.)
  • Miss L'eau by T. Katz

    Miss_L'eauMiss L’eau by T. Katz is a delightful chapter book with an excellent message.

    James and David like their teacher, Miss L’eau. She’s a lot like the other teachers at their school, yet, there’s something different about her too. And she has the most amazing eyes. One day, James seeks shelter from a storm in the boys’ secret hiding place by the old lighthouse. James thinks he sees something, but certainly that can’t really be what he saw. Suddenly Miss L’eau is more mysterious than ever. The boys are determined to figure out her secret. They don’t know, however, how much that secret will change their lives..and perhaps, the world.

    In this exciting and fun short chapter book, the story focuses on two young boys and their teacher. While there are other characters popping in from time to time, in true chapter book format the number of characters is limited, allowing young readers to easily grasp everything that is going on.

    The mystery surrounding Miss L’eau and why she is in Grant Harbor keeps readers turning the pages. In a short amount of time, James and David go from giving little consideration to the ocean that they have lived next to all their lives, to strong proponents of protecting the ocean and marine life.

    The soothing cover art works well with the topic of the book, a mixture of darker and paler oceanic blues; though I have to admit that the one big eye in the middle of the cover creeps me out. Perhaps an animated version of an eye or a smaller picture of two eyes might have made it less jarring.

    Miss L’eau will show young readers how easy and fun it can be to take care of the world around them and to encourage others to do the same.

    Rating:   :) :) :) :)

  • Publisher: Windstorm Creative
  • ISBN-10: 1590924045
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590924044
  • SRP:  $9.99 (U.S.)
  • The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Middle School by David Borgenicht, et al.

    Middle_School_Survival_HandbookYou’ve finally made it out of elementary school. How cool is that? But now you’re headed off to middle school and things might be way different than they used to be. How will you survive?

    Well, if you pick up a copy of The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Middle School, you’ll certainly be off to a better start than most.

    This quick read is full of advice on how to survive:

    The First Day,
    Homework Overload,
    Bullies and Cliques,
    Getting in Trouble,

    and so much more, including special “Girls Only” and “Boys Only” sections.

    You’ll find tips on how to:

    memorize your locker combination,
    fix a problem with a teacher,
    rescue a sinking grade,
    challenge a cheater,
    prep for a test in your toughest class,
    try out without freaking out,

    and so many tips that will make your journey through middle school easier and more enjoyable.

    One of the topics I paid close attention to is “How to Survive a Bully”. While I think it is slightly misplaced being in the “Boys Only” section, the tips found here could really make a difference for a young person trying to deal with a bully. The “Girls Only” section does cover the topic of “How to Survive Mean Girls” and those tips are great, but there are enough girl bullies out there that I felt surviving bullies should be in Chapter 3, titled “The Social Scene”.

    While reading this book, all I could think was, “Where was this book when I was entering middle school?”

    The hip cover and fun illustrations provided by Chuck Gonzales definitely get an “A” in my book, and by using silly names like “Miss Mean Jeans” the authors get their points across in a lighthearted and entertaining way.

    Buy it for yourself. Buy it for a friend. Buy it for someone you love. But make sure you buy it before that person enters middle school.

    Rating:   :) :) :) :) :)

  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • ISBN-10: 0811868648
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811868648
  • SRP:  $10.99
  • Horse Crazy (Book 1) – The Silver Horse Switch by Alison Lester

    Horse_Crazy_Book_1Young horse lovers are going to get a kick out of Horse Crazy, the new series by Australian author Alison Lester.

    In Book 1, The Silver Horse Switch, we meet best friends Bonnie and Sam (her real name is Samantha). These girls know all the horses in Currawong Creek: Whale, Biscuit, Bella, Blondie and Tex, just to name a few. Bonnie whispers to horses and Sam always knows how a horse feels.

    The Silver Horse Switch finds Sam’s dad, Sergeant Bill Cooper in possession of Drover, a young brumby who had been captured and broken in. Drover is afraid of trains, but makes a good work horse for Bill, even though she won’t let the girls ride her. Drover hates being locked up in the small paddock each night and she longs to be free to roam with the other wild horses.

    One day, the girls notice that Drover has changed. She doesn’t pace in the paddock anymore and even though she a bit afraid of the girls, she seems to like them. And then they notice that Drover’s crescent-shaped scar is gone. This isn’t Drover at all, but a horse that looks just like her.

    How was the switch made? And how can they keep the horse’s secret so that they can keep her?

    Geared for readers ages 5 to 8, The Silver Horse Switch is an engaging story that will be enjoyed by young readers everywhere. Lester has created two girls who love and know horses like no one else in Currawong Creek.

    Even though Currawong Creek is in Australia, based upon the illustrations and the storylines you could mistake Currawong Creek for an American mid-western prairie town, which makes the book appealing to a wider audience.

    Speaking of the illustrations, Roland Harvey did an excellent job of bringing this story to life with his pictures. The inside cover has a colored map of all the places in town, including where each horse mentioned in the book resides. Harvey’s illustrations are so charming and sometimes funny–like the time the new Drover pressed her mane right up against Mick Daly’s face–that they truly compliment and complete the story. I’m glad to see that Harvey returns to illustrate the other books in this series.

    Also included is a short list of Australian terms found in the book.

    Whether your young reader is a lover of horses or just enjoys a good story with interesting characters and delightful illustrations, The Silver Horse Switch is sure to please.

    I can’t wait to read the next Horse Crazy books!

    Rating:   :) :) :) :) :)

  • Publisher: Chronicle Books
  • ISBN-10: 0811865541
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811865548
  • SRP:  $4.99