Saturday, February 16, 2019

Kid Konnection: Make This!

Every weekend, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekly feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you another great book from National Geographic Kids.

Summary: Create your maker space with this fun and instructive book, chock-full of hands-on activities and cool experiments to get kids thinking and tinkering.

This book is designed to inspire the next generation of engineers and supports all kinds of kid creators: those who prefer guided instruction, those who prefer to dream up and design objects on their own, and everyone in between. With thoughtful text and bright illustrations, kids get the tools and the know-how to tackle all kinds of exciting projects: building a kaleidoscope, designing a fidget spinner, planting a rain forest, creating a musical instrument, and more. Unconventional scenarios inspired by real National Geographic explorers give kids a chance to think outside the box and apply their maker skills to real life. Chapters are divided up by scientific principle, such as simple machines, energy, and forces. In each chapter, kids can start by following step-by-step activities, or get creative by tackling an open-ended challenge. Helpful sidebars explain the science behind what's happening every step of the way.

Make This! is perfect for curious and STEM-loving kids, families looking for a fun way to play together, and anyone else who's ready to get creative and start tinkering! -- National Geographic Kids

I bet you didn't know that tomorrow is the beginning of National Engineers Week, did you? Eweek was created in 1951 and "is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers." So it's perfect timing (if I do say so myself) to share with you the National Geographic Kids book, MAKE THIS!: BUILDING, THINKING, AND TINKERING PROJECTS FOR THE AMAZING MAKER IN YOU by Ella Schwartz with photographs by Matthew Rakola.

MAKE THIS! is a wonderful book for budding engineers ages 8 - 12. With almost 160 pages, this book has instructions for lots of interesting projects that encourage creativity. For example, there are step-by-step instructions for making a skee-ball challenge using an inclined plane as well as a rain forest in a bottle. Other projects that caught my eye include a Sound Wave Stethoscope, a Color Kaleidoscope, a Water Balloon Helmet, and a Fidget Spinner. I was truly impressed with all of the fun projects and just how educational they are. In addition to the easy-to-follow instructions, there are ratings for difficulty levels, items you'll need to complete the project, and how many people it will take.

I sound like a broken record telling you every few weeks just how great National Geographic Kids books are, and MAKE THIS! is no exception. This book truly gives new meaning to the words "fun and educational." As a mom, I loved the project ideas and instructions, but there are also text boxes with explanations (What's Going On?) and questions for that require some additional thought (Think About It). These elements really bring this book to the next level by relating these various projects to real-world applications.

I even liked how this book was designed. The chapters are broken into different scientific principles like Simple Machines, Materials, Systems, Optics, Energy, Acoustics, Forces, and Motion. Each chapter has between six and nine projects so kids will have plenty of projects to try. And of course, this book has amazing photographs and illustrations which really makes it even more enticing for middle grade readers.

All in all, MAKE THIS! is an excellent book for students interested in STEM. I highly recommend it for both home and school libraries.

Thanks to Media Masters for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Review: 99 Percent Mine

Summary: Crush (n.): a strong and often short-lived infatuation, particularly for someone beyond your reach…

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers. -- William Morrow

I'm not sure that I would have picked up 99 PERCENT MINE by Sally Thorne except that my sister asked to borrow it. She enjoyed the author's first novel, THE HATING GAME, and asked if I could hand it over after I read it. That gave me the push I needed to read it... plus I was in the mood for something fun.

Well, 99 PERCENT MINE was definitely fun, albeit not a typical read for me. While I was expecting chick-lit and a light-hearted romance, this novel ended up being pretty hot. I can say with certainty that I am not a good judge of these types of stories, but I suspect this novel will appeal to fans of this genre. The author created some interesting characters and a fun story, and the sexual tension between them was off the charts!

99 PERCENT MINE tells the story of Darcy Bennett, a woman who has been crushing on the "perfect" Tom Valeska for her entire life. Darcy and her twin brother Jamie befriended Tom years ago, and Darcy has been trying to win him over ever since. Unfortunately, Tom "belongs" to her brother and is, therefore, "off limits."

However, when Tom shows up to help fix up Darcy and Jamie's grandmother's cottage, all bets are off. Jamie is out of the picture and Tom is newly single. Darcy can sense the chemistry between them... and she's hoping to make Tom 99 percent hers!

I found 99 PERCENT MINE to be entertaining and pure escapism. It was definitely a cute story with lots of sparks between the characters. I liked all of the characters (even Jamie although he was a bit of a pain in the butt at times), and I especially enjoyed Tom and Darcy's romantic dalliance. I appreciated that Darcy was a complicated character, given her past and her heart condition; and I loved her spunk and witty commentary.

99 PERCENT MINE is a sweet friends to lovers story that's perfect for the Valentine Day holiday. Recommended to fans of light rom-com books!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I had a great book week! It was a fabulous mix of mysteries, historical fiction, women's fiction and children's books.
LADY DERRING TAKES A LOVER by Julie Anne Long came from Avon Books

AMERICAN DUCHESS by Karen Harper came from William Morrow

KILLER THRILLER by Lee Goldberg came from Thomas Mercer

BROKEN BONE CHINA by Laura Childs came from Berkley

A BEND IN THE STARS by Rachel Barenbaum came from Grand Central Publishing

SUNNY'S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY! by Anne Marie Pace and illustrated by Christopher Lee came from Abrams Books for Young Readers

TOMORROW MOST LIKELY by Dave Eggers and illustrated by Lane Smith came from Chronicle Books

DANCING THROUGH FIELDS OF COLOR: THE STORY OF HELEN FRANKENTHALER by Elizabeth Brown and illustrated by Aimee Sicuro came from Abrams Books for Young Readers

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Kid Konnection: It's Up to You, Abe Lincoln

Every weekend, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekly feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a terrific book that's perfect for the President's Day holiday.

Summary: History gets hilarious in this interactive Abraham Lincoln biography that will have readers laughing while they learn. Perfect for readers of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales.

Abraham Lincoln was one of the greatest presidents of all time. But what did it take to rise from frontier poverty? To lead his country through the Civil War? To alter the course of history forever?

Father-daughter team Tom and Leila Hirschfeld’s tongue-in-cheek biography explores ten crucial decisions in one amazing life. With over one hundred pieces of archival and original art, fun facts, sidebars, historical trivia, and more, this book follows Abe’s footsteps through the close calls that defined his leadership and shaped America as we know it today. -- Crown Books for Young Readers

IT'S UP TO YOU, ABE LINCOLN: HOW I MADE THE BIGGEST DECISIONS OF MY LIFE by Tom & Lelia Hirschfeld is a fantastic biography of one of our country's best (if not the best) presidents. It's a unique look at President Lincoln's life and the difficult choices he made along the way. The book focuses on how ten of Lincoln's decisions forever changed the course of his life... and our country.

IT'S UP TO YOU, ABE LINCOLN isn't your typical biography and that's why it's so fun for readers ages eight to twelve years old (but if I'm being honest, I think high school kids will appreciate this book too.) While the book includes all this important historical aspects of his life, it presents the information in an almost casual and fun way. There are photographs and pictures with little speech bubbles that make the history lessons humorous as well as sidebars with interesting tidbits.

But what I really liked about this book was that it was more than just a history lesson. I was pleasantly surprised by how much information was in this almost 300 page book, but it was presented in such a way to make readers realize just how much Lincoln's choices mattered. For every turning point in Lincoln's life (or at least the ten major ones), readers are given four options that he could have made. Even one different decision could have been detrimental to the future of the United States. It also makes young readers see history in a different light... while also making learning fun.

IT'S UP TO YOU, ABE LINCOLN is just terrific for so many reasons. Highly recommended for President's Day and every day!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Review: Duck and Hippo The Secret Valentine

Summary: Join Duck, Hippo, and their friends as they uncover their secret valentines!

It’s Valentine’s Day, and something curious is going on. As the birds tweet their love songs, Hippo and his friends Elephant, Pig, and Turtle each receive mysterious, unsigned Valentine’s Day cards. Hippo wonders if his is from Duck; Elephant and Turtle think theirs are from Pig; and Pig dreams that hers is from Turtle. The cards tell the friends to come to the park at four o’clock to meet their valentines—so they’ll find out soon enough! As the clock ticks away, the friends wonder—and dream—about their valentines and make special preparations. But when they arrive…SURPRISE!

This Valentine’s Day might not go exactly the way they expected, but one thing is certain: being friends with Duck and Hippo is always a special treat! -- Two Lions

Valentine's Day is almost here so it's a great time to share the adorable picture book DUCK AND HIPPO: THE SECRET VALENTINE by Jonathan London and illustrated by Andrew Joyner. This book, starring the famous duo Duck and Hippo, is perfect for fans of this series... and also perfect for those kids who are new to these books.

DUCK AND HIPPO: THE SECRET VALENTINE is so cute. Love is definitely in the air as Hippo, Turtle, Pig, and Elephant all receive Valentine's Day cards from a mysterious someone requesting their presence in the park at 4:00. Of course, Hippo is hoping the card is from Duck while the others are busy guessing who their secret admirer is.

Each of the characters loves the anticipation as they get ready for the secret rendezvous; however, the best treat is what they find when they get to the park!

I love the Duck and Hippo books and I especially love what these books represent. Duck and Hippo are an unlikely duo, but they represent the real meaning of friendship. DUCK AND HIPPO: THE SECRET VALENTINE is extremely cute because it builds anticipation for readers. The characters are obviously thrilled to be given the Valentine invitation, and they all prepare something extra-special for each other. As the time approaches when they can finally meet their secret Valentine, the characters (and the readers) can feel the excitement. It's a sweet story with a little surprise and a fantastic message about friendship!

Check out this adorable book trailer:

If you still want more Duck and Hippo, you can find a downloadable activity page here.

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this book.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Mailbox Monday

Welcome back to another Mailbox Monday post! I had a big children's book week so that's a good thing for my Kid Konnection feature. 

THE WORLD'S BEST JOKES FOR KIDS: VOLUME 2 by Swerling & Lazar came from Andrew McMeel Publishing

TAKING COVER: ONE GIRL'S STORY OF GROWING UP DURING THE IRANIAN REVOLUTION by Nioucha Homayoonfar came from National Geographic

ONE THING I KNOW by Kara Isaac came from Howard Books

YOU ARE NEW by Lucy Knisley came from Chronicle Books

SCAMPERS THINKS LIKE A SCIENTIST by Mike Allega and illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel came from Dawn Books

WHY SHOULD I WALK? I CAN FLY! by Ann Ingalls and illustrated by Rebecca Evans came from Dawn Books

MAKE THIS! BUILDING, THINKING, AND TINKERING PROJECTS FOR THE AMAZING MAKER IN YOU came from National Geographic Kids

GUITAR GENIUS: HOW LES PAUL ENGINEERED THE SOLID-BODY ELECTRIC GUITAR AND ROCKED THE WORK by Kim Tomsic and illustrated by Brett Helquist came from Chronicle Books

What was in your mailbox?

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Kid Konnection: Heart Day Books!

Every weekend, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekly feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you two picture books that are perfect for Valentine's Day!

Summary: A charming, chunky book filled with more than 150 works we love from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The book is divided into different themes for readers to explore, including people, animals, transportation, and places. Accompanying text provides readers with insight into each piece without distracting from the beauty of the work. From paintings to collages to sculptures to photographs, I (Heart) Art helps readers discover the best that the museum has to offer. Among the artists included are Jennifer Bartlett, Romare Bearden, Rosa Bonheur, Canaletto, Mary Cassatt, Marc Chagall, Jean-HonorĂ© Fragonard, Hokusai, Winslow Homer, Edmonia Lewis, Claude Monet, Georgia O’Keeffe, Alfred Stieglitz, and Andy Warhol. -- Abrams Books for Young Readers

I am featuring I (HEART) ART: WORK WE LOVE FROM THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART for Kid Konnection; however, it's truly a "picture" books for kids of all ages. When you first pick up this chunky book, you might think it's a board book for little ones. Not so fast! It's a mini coffee table book full of gorgeous art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art!

I (HEART) ART has eleven chapters (twelve if you include the index) with different art themes. For example, there is a chapter titled I (HEART) Music and another titled I (HEART) Singing and Dancing. Within each chapter, there are gorgeous works of art including paintings, photographs, sculptures, and more. Each page also has accompanying text information about the art such as dates, artists, and titles.

I really (heart) this book... and it makes me want to visit the "Met" the next time I'm in New York and see some of these gorgeous works of art in person!

Summary: How do animals show their love? By touching trunks, beaks, and noses! Toddlers will delight in adorable pairs of fish, ducklings, elephants, and monkeys as they splash, swim, dance, and swing, all while showing affection. Author-illustrator Taro Miura brings a playfulness and verve to this love-affirming board book, which culminates in the ultimate celebration of love: a child embraced by loving parents. -- Chronicle Books

HELLO, LOVE! by Taro Miura is another book to keep in mind as a gift for Valentine's Day. This book is definitely geared towards toddlers, and it features pairs of animals celebrating love. The illustrations are simple, but colorful; and the text is even simpler -- about three words per page. HELLO, LOVE! is super sweet.

What I loved the most about this book is the way the author showed how these animals show affections. For example, fish touch noses, monkeys hold hands, and parents and kids cuddle. I'm telling you... this book is adorable! Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publishers for providing review copies of these picture books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!