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BUTTERBALL Gets Lost

BUTTERBALL Gets Lost (Butterball the Poodle Book 2) by [Julia Seaborn]

Butterball Gets Lost by Julia Seaborn is a children’s picture book about a poodle named Butterball, with illustrations by Toby Mikle. After Butterball is left home alone when her owner goes shopping she digs under the fence and goes exploring. Butterball then sees an interesting hole and looks inside where she gets stuck. This is when the cute little bunny named Binky helps set her free. After Binky helps her get free, Butterball continues on and meets JillaRoo, a kangaroo. Later, Butterball ends up at the circus and realizes she doesn’t know the way home. Will someone be able to help her find her way home?

Butterball Gets Lost is able to capture the feel of adventure and exploration in a short picture book. The artwork was beautiful, with a soft color pallete and simple art, it easily captures your attention and inspires the imagination. I liked the illustrations, especially the colorful lizards and other animals that Butterball meets along the way. These creatures were all emotive and usually happy. This book teaches young readers about animals and counting while entertaining children with a fun story. The questions at the end of the story help children practice counting and assess comprehension. I appreciated the Fun Facts at the end of the book which provides more information about owls, although this section might require a slightly more advanced reading level than the story.

Butterball Gets Lost is the second book in the Butterball the Poodle series. This is a fantastic continuation in Jualia Seaborn’s children’s literature series. Beginning readers will be entertained and educated all in one book.

Pages: 32 | ASIN: B08863JHJW

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Learn To Read From Sounds

Learn to Read from Sounds by [Barnes Florence]

Learn to Read from Sounds by Florence Barnes is an enriching children’s book that aims to help young kids learn how to read using the phonics system. It also includes an insightful question and answer portion at the beginning to clarify frequently asked questions regarding the phonics system and its effectiveness. This book serves as a very useful tool for teachers or parents looking to teach a child how to read. This is due to the numerous exercises on reading using the phonic system in the book. The reading exercises are also fun and are suitable for children.

Although I found this book to be educational and informative, I thought that the book was a little plain. I thought an addition of brightly colored illustrations or animals would help capture children’s attention. Otherwise this book does an excellent job of relaying educational information in a straightforward and easy to understand manner. I think that this book will significantly help children, or really anyone, who is learning to read. If you’re looking for a book that stays focused on the material then Learn to Read from Sounds is a perfect choice.

Pages: 60 | ASIN: B07P6MVW6M

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“Bottom Down, Penelope Brown!”

"Bottom Down, Penelope Brown!" by [Pulliam, April B.]

For as long as she can remember Penelope Brown can’t stay sitting down. She wiggles and worms, dances and turns, and every teacher she’s had will insist throughout class that she remain in her seat. As Penelope enters the third grade, she dreads the new teacher, knowing exactly what she will say – or will she?

April Pulliam delivers a touching message with a simple story. The characters are kept to a minimum to focus on the issues at hand. Penelope is likable and relatable; she is described in good light with age-appropriate language. I appreciate how Pulliam never outright stated Penelope’s difficulties as a problem. She consistently views the characters through a young child’s perspective.

Penelope struggles, like many children, to stay in her seat. Like many young children she wriggles and squirms and is brimming with energy. How do children handle this? How do they handle the teachers that constantly tell them to put their ‘bottom down’? These are lessons that I think many elementary school children can relate to and one that is presented in a fun and understanding manner in this book.

Pulliam and Grantham team up to craft a wonderful opportunity to introduce and validate a child’s woes comparable to Penelope. I would highly recommend Bottom Down, Penelope Brown for the modern classroom.

Pages: 23 | ASIN: B07SRX418X

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An Ambition To Belong

An Ambition to Belong (Leaving Home Trilogy Book 2) by [Sniechowski, James]

Young Jim has reached adolescence and is struggling with where he fits in life. Mostly because he doesn’t know himself well enough at this point to figure out where he feels most at home. He doesn’t fit in school. He joins a gang where he can only hope to belong, but never really does. His home is more house than home with both his parents living almost separate lives. Will the relationships he fosters be meaningful enough to withstand the tumult of adolescent existence?

Jim’s story is quite representative of what teens go through. The author has woven an almost poignant tale of Jim’s struggle to find a home. The story is thoughtfully narrated with an evocative plot and colored with insightful observations. Most of all, it is candid. All has been bared for the reader to see and experience. The reader is pulled into this abyss of raw emotion and overwhelming teenage confusion from the minute Jim celebrates his entrance into the Lancers (the gang) to the point where he loses his friend.

The book makes sparing use of dialogue and utilizes mostly internal dialogues between Jim and the ‘Voice’. The reader gets in depth peeks into Jim’s mind. This helps carry the story and paints a clearer picture of what Jim must have been going through. It is actually easy to lose oneself in Jim’s mind as it is a web of unanswered questions, self-doubt and all-around uncertainty. This is brilliantly executed and is well suited to the plot.

The book is written in plain language that is easy to understand, utilizing simple language to create striking imagery. Keeping the focus on the intriguing characters rather than on some grand literary design. Each character represents some form of human insecurity or peculiarity. Almost every reader will recognize themselves in one or more of the characters. Thereby enhancing the bond between the reader and characters for a more fulfilling experience.

This book left me feeling… haunted (I suppose that’s the right word). Although in the end Jim seems to be settling down, I felt that his questions of where he really belongs and his purpose have not been fully covered. This begs the question; will human beings always carry a degree of uncertainty with them?

This is an exceptional installment in the Leaving Home Trilogy. The first one was an absolute delight, the second one is undeniably beautiful and I am positively giddy for the third.

Pages: 234 | ASIN: B07CPDY81Y

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Weepy The Dragon

Weepy the Dragon by [Hebert, J. J.]

Weepy the Dragon has proven to be a big hit in my household. I bought this book as a bedtime storybook for my two children, and having read this book (several times), I have nothing but good things to say about it. This book is full of illuminating pictures and cute dragon images which creates a very interesting plot line. J.J. Hebert does an exceptional job at captivating a young reader.

The characters were well drawn and my children loved them. I thought the plot about the dragon world was solid and teaches children about the importance of not judging a book by its cover.

The only negative thing I have to say, which is more constructive than negative, is that the writing could have been written in a larger font. Trying to get my two children to read along was a bit of a struggle due to the small font. But, other than that, the writing itself was clear and intriguing. I highly recommend this book to anyone with young children who love a good story! “Weepy the Dragon: the happiest, friendliest, and kindest dragon in the world” – a story for every child!

Pages: 36 | ASIN: B008CRVNKE

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Strength That Lies Within

April Pulliam Author Interview

April Pulliam Author Interview

Strong Is…” shows that children can be strong in their own way when they’re up against tough challenges. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I began writing “Strong Is…” when my friend, Kathy, was battling breast cancer and had her in mind the entire time I was planning the path the story would take. It was important to me to convey her strength and at the same time write a book her young daughter and other children could understand and find relatable.

I thought the art was cute and fitting for the story. What was the art collaboration like between you and the illustrator Amy Grantham?

Amy is a phenomenal artist. We work together on a daily basis, so discussing the story and our ideas for the illustrations was simple. Once we decided we wanted the entire book to slowly reveal the character’s point of view, the rest was easy. Over the years, I have seen enough of Amy’s artwork to know what look I wanted for the illustrations, and Amy listened to my descriptions and more than delivered.

I thought you handled this sensitive topic with respect while also making it accessible. What do you hope readers take away from your story?

It’s my hope that readers of all ages realize that no matter the challenges they face, there is a strength that lies within each of us. Overall, I want the book to be a bright spot during difficult times for those struggling with cancer, their families, and their friends.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

Our next book is “Bottom Down, Penelope Brown” and should be available in the next 2-3 months. I won’t give anything away about it–my mom wants to be surprised.

Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

Strong Is . . . by [Pulliam, April B.]Author April B. Pulliam explores what “Strong Is” through a child’s eyes. Nothing defines strength like a battle, and there is no battle like the one presented by cancer. This book is for anyone touched by cancer and amazed by the strength found within during the darkest of days.

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Strong Is…

Strong Is . . . by [Pulliam, April B.]

What is strong? According to Merriam-Webster, strong is not mild or weak. But what exactly does that mean? To determine if someone or something is strong you need to look at it in context and compare it to other things that are similar. Strong Is… by April Pulliam and illustrated by Amy Grantham looks at the situation through the eyes of a child. The child is relaying all the ways they have heard the word strong used to describe people and things. Each situation gives a new view on what makes something strong or not. As you go through the book you encounter funny images like a stinky dog or a hungry lion, but then it starts to focus more on people and the images become more serious; a hospital, a distraught mother. It all leads up to the end with a picture of a small child. While the book never says cancer in the story line, it is implied with the imagery and by reading up on the author’s page at the end.

This is a challenging subject and this book is a great way to introduce a young child to what might be going on. Learning that it’s okay and even when you’re little you can be strong in your own way. I think this is a great book for siblings or even a child that may be going through this to read and gain some confidence. It’s an emotional topic that is handled with dignity and simplified for young readers. I recommend this book to anyone that knows someone going through an illness and trying to explain it to a young child.

Pages: 15 | ASIN: B07NKH1FNC

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The Tribulations of August Barton

The Tribulations of August Barton by [LeBlanc, Jennifer]

The Tribulations of August Barton by Jennifer LeBlanc follows the somewhat unwilling adventures of a young man who feels as if the world is on his shoulders. August Barton is a  nerdy college freshman with growing anxiety not helped by the declaration of his parent’s decision to divorce. Never mind first-year classes, his growing independence, or even girls, the struggles within his own family becomes almost too much for him to bear. At a time in his life when he should be stepping out into the world and spreading his wings, the worries of his life pull him back into the safe confines of his residence hall where he can be with his Star Wars collection in peace. However, his charismatic grandmother (a woman who really has lived life to the fullest) has other ideas for her grandson, which leads to a series of adventures where August can finally learn to live out his own epic saga and find his own happy endings outside of the ones he’s seen in the science-fiction stories he loves.

This story compares to the classic coming-of-age tale Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger in its overall themes like loss of innocence and personal growth of a young man. However, I will say that August Barton is a more likable protagonist than Holden Caulfield! August “Augie” Barton’s altruism for his loved ones and his quirky charm make him a lovable character to follow throughout the book. Other interesting characters in Augie’s life enhance the quality of this book, one in particular: his grandmother! Gertie is such a wild and fun lady. I wish I could know her in real life! I honestly would read a whole spin-off novel about her life because seeing the world through her eyes sounds like a treat. The overall humor and grace of this novel as Jennifer LeBlanc’s authentic characters deal with very real  problems that we all can face in life. The Tribulations of August Barton just proves how there can be such wondrous beauty in the everyday and in the hardships we all face. No doubt, Jennifer LeBlanc earns a full five stars, and one new permanent fan of her works.

Pages: 176 | ASIN: B01M7TF1N1

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