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Turtle Walk by Matt Phelan

Published by Greenwillow Books

Turtle Walk: Phelan, Matt, Phelan, Matt: 9780062934130: Books
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast » Blog Archive » Matt Phelan on Turtle Walk

Summary:  A family of turtles sets off for a walk one spring morning.  “Turtle walk. Nice and slow. Here we go. Are we there yet? No.”  This refrain is repeated as they continue to travel through a landscape that turns into summer, fall, and then a snowy winter.  On each page that says “No” they stop for a rest.  Finally, after a long climb up a snowy hill, the answer is “Yes”.  The turtle walk is no longer nice and slow, as they all slide down the hill on their bellies.  They wind up in a cave: “Turtle rest. Nice and long. Here we…zzzzz.”  32 pages; ages 2-7.

Pros:  Even the youngest kids will be able to chant along with the repeating refrain of this book, and the watercolor illustrations provide a delightful feast of details that can be found in each season.  The final page makes it a perfect bedtime story.

Cons:  Speaking of bed, it looks like an exhausting journey.

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Becoming Muhammad Ali by James Patterson and Kwame Alexander

Published by Jimmy Patterson Books (Little, Brown)

Becoming Muhammad Ali - Kindle edition by Patterson, James, Alexander, Kwame, Anyabwile, Dawud. Children Kindle eBooks @

Summary:  Round One: Cassius Clay’s friend Lucky and the rest of Cassius’s friends and family are awaiting the results of the 1958 Golden Gloves championship.  16-year-old Cassius is in Chicago, 300 miles from his home in Louisville, KY.  The phone rings, and the story shifts to Cassius’s voice, told in verse.  Clay didn’t win that championship, but he relates how he got there: the friends and relatives who influenced him, the events that led him to boxing, the unflagging discipline and confidence that helped him in his training.  By the time we get to Round Nine, Cassius is ready to return to the Golden Gloves competition and become a champion.  Lucky introduces each round, then finishes with a Final Round, in which he tells what happened to Cassius Clay, later Muhammad Ali, during the rest of his career.  320 pages; grades 4-7.

Pros:  Apparently, Kwame Alexander has been a Muhammad Ali fan since he read Ali’s autobiography as a kid, and he uses his considerable poetic talents to bring the boxer life.  I wasn’t sure I liked Lucky’s prose sections at first, but they did flesh out the story, setting up the action for the poetry parts. This is sure to be an enormously popular choice for kids.

Cons:  I’m curious about the collaboration James Patterson, who seems more like a brand than an actual author these days.  I would have preferred this to be the sole work of Kwame Alexander, whom I’m sure could have pulled it off without any help.

If you would like to buy this on Amazon, click here.

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Review: Ten Sleepy Sheep

ten sleepy sheep

Ten Sleepy Sheep is an adorable board book set on a farm in the Australian bush.

Gently counting animals who are ready for bed down from ten sheep to one snuggly, sleepy joey, this new book from Renée Treml is as sweet as they come. Each spread features a group of gorgeous, very sleepy animals to count, including puppies, foals, calves, ducklings, lizards and more.

I adore the Australian farm themed illustrations, featuring delicately drawn line art of flora and fauna with soft pastel background colours, they set a dreamy sense of open space and rich night skies.

Ten Sleepy Sheep is perfect for babies and toddlers learning about counting, animals, farms, Australia and of course those who are or should be sleepy. With durable board pages, it’s strong and ready for repeated use by tiny hands.

Renée Treml is an Australian author and illustrator, some of her other books include Roo Knows Blue, Sleep Tight, Platypup, and The Great Garden Mystery.

Title: Ten Sleepy Sheep
Author/Illustrator :  Renée Treml
Publisher: Penguin, $14.99
Publication Date: 4 August 2020
Format: Board Book
ISBN: 9781760896768
For ages: 0 – 3
Type: Board Book

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Letters from Bear by Gauthier David, illustrated by Marie Caudry


Published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Let's Talk Picture Books: LETTERS FROM BEAR

Summary:  Bear is sad that his friend Bird has migrated south for the winter.  He plans to write her a letter each day, but by day two, he’s decided to travel to be with her.  Each letter describes a different adventure, with an illustration to go with it.  Bear journeys to the top of a volcano, the desert, a cave filled with drawings, and the sea.  He meets a mermaid and several friendly animals, and witnesses all kinds of marvels.  When he finally arrives at his destination, he learns that Bird missed him, too, and has headed back north so they can be together.  The other birds have an idea: they build a giant nest and carry it back with Bear inside.  The last page shows Bear and Bird embracing, reunited at last.  56 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  A dreamy and imaginative book which could be used as a mentor text for letter-writing.  The illustrations are filled with enchanting details, and could be used as inspiring writing prompts.

Cons:  There’s no way ten birds could carry a bear in a nest all that distance.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

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Review: We Love You, Magoo


Dogs are practically human, aren’t they?

Magoo seems to think so.
Magoo is a dog, and he’s a crazy, loveable hound.
Unfortunately for Magoo, much as he’d like to do the things his humans do (like eating eggs for breakfast), there always seems to be a canine alternative.
No chewing the toys for Magoo. He gets his own ball instead.
And there’s no creating havoc in the mud or toilet water. It’s a soapy bath and a dog bowl for Magoo.
We Love You, Magoo is a book with a character that anyone with a dog will recognise.
Magoo’s ‘puppy dog eyes’ will grab you from the first page. He gets into mischief typical for a dog, but his family loves him, and he will wind his way into your heart as well.
The text is short and simple, and rhyme and repetition are put to good use. Reading the story aloud, kids will be quickly reading along with you, especially the refrain, ‘No, Magoo. This is for you.
Author and illustrator, Briony Stewart has captured Magoo in all his active glory. He looks about ready to leap off the page.

The illustrations are bright and simple with use of colours kept to just a few. Blue, yellow and white are spread across the pages, setting the scenes, with Magoo himself an orangey-brown.

We Love You, Magoo is a great story to share with children who are pre-readers and beginning readers.

Title: We Love You, Magoo
Author/Illustrator: Briony Stewart
Publisher: Puffin, $ 19.99
Publication Date: September 2020
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781760896904
For ages: 3+
Type: Picture Book

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The Whale Child by Keith Egawa and Chenoa Egawa

the whale child
by Keith Egawa
and Chenda Egawa
North Atlantic Books
Middle Grade Environmental

An inspiring middle-grade chapter book that introduces young readers to the environmental challenges facing the planet through the eyes of Coast Salish characters and authors.

“You have family on land as you do in the sea. . . being a caretaker of the earth begins with taking care of the water that all life depends on.”

Shiny is a whale child. One day his mother teaches him about the harm facing the world’s oceans because of human carelessness. Shiny agrees to be turned into a boy by the ocean’s water spirit so he can visit the land and alert people to these dangers. He meets Alex, a young Coast Salish girl who learns from Shiny that the living spirit of water exists in everything–glaciers, rivers, oceans, rain, plants, and all living creatures. Together the two travel the earth, confronting the realities of a planet threatened by an uncertain future. Inspired by Shiny’s hope, humor, and wisdom, Alex makes the promise to become a teacher for future generations. She realizes that the timeless Indigenous value of environmental stewardship is needed now more than ever and that we must all stand up on behalf of Mother Earth.

Written and illustrated by Indigenous authors Keith Egawa and Chenoa Egawa, The Whale Child introduces children ages 7 to 12 to existing environmental issues with a message of hope, education, sharing, and action. Ideal for middle-grade readers who are beginning to read chapter books on their own, this book also includes resources for students and teachers to facilitate learning about Pacific Northwest Indigenous cultures and the environment.

These pages pack a powerful message with a focus on environmental issues facing the world’s oceans and the importance of them to our planet.
Shiny is born as a very intuitive and caring whale, who learns all about life in the ocean and the balance of nature from his mother. His destiny has him then turning into a human, where he becomes the brother of a girl and teaches her about the importance of life in the ocean and exposes the troubles the underwater world faces thanks to pollution and more.
While this book is advertised for middle graders, I see this one for slightly younger readers, ages 6 to 9.
The traditional storytelling of Indigenous lore flows beautifully through these pages. Nature, spirits and life are interlinked in a wondrous way, which opens up a different view to the world around us and the balance between man and nature. In this book, the importance of the ocean and life in it take center stage as the impact modern life has had is discussed. The authors manage to bring all of this across in a way young readers/listeners will be able to understand and open up the door to discussions surrounding water pollution and such.
Bright illustrations accompany the text, allowing listeners to sink into the described scenes visually and gain a better understanding of what is being described. This is a great book for groups to open up environmental topics, especially those relating to seas and oceans. The text is rather heavy four younger listeners, but on the other hand, a bit light and short for older ones. So, I’m placing this one somewhere in the middle and see it as a good read-aloud.
The relationship between Shiny and ‘his sister’ is one readers will be able to connect with…and it introduces them to the thoughts of this type of storytelling and beliefs as well. Of course, this one is very message driven, and that’s what makes it great for classrooms and homeschoolers as well.
And here they are…

KEITH T. A. EGAWA is a novelist who focuses on both adult and children’s literature. He is a Washington native and a member of the Lummi Indian Nation. Egawa’s extensive experience in the field of child welfare has provided him with both inspiration and insight into his subject matter.

CHENOA T. Y. EGAWA is Coast Salish of the Lummi and S’Klallam Nations of Washington State. She is a medicine woman, singer, writer, illustrator, photographer, and teacher dedicated to bringing healing to our Mother Earth and to people of all origins. She is a voice to bring Native wisdom and perspectives to the world when these teachings are particularly poignant reminders of our shared responsibility to live with respect for ourselves, one another, and all that gives us life.


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Monster and Boy by Hannah Barnaby, illustrated by Anoosha Syed

Published by Henry Holt and Co. Monster and Boy (Monster and Boy (1)) (9781250217837): Barnaby, Hannah, Syed, Anoosha: Books
Monster and Boy | Hannah Barnaby | Macmillan

Summary:  A monster who lives under a boy’s bed loves the boy.  When he hears the boy’s mother tell him there’s no such thing as monsters, he decides to reveal himself.  After Mom leaves, he comes out and introduces himself.  He sees that the boy is about to scream, so he panics and does the first thing he thinks of…swallows the boy.  There seems to be no way of getting the boy out again, but finally they both fall asleep.  When they awaken, the boy is out of the monster, but he’s tiny.  Can he get back to his full size again?  Many adventures await as the two of them try to figure out how to do this.  144 pages; grades K-3.

Pros:  A fun, quirky early chapter book with plenty of illustrations, and even some bathroom humor (although maybe not what you’re expecting).  This is sure to find lots of fans, and they can look forward to a second book in March.

Cons:  Although the author (sort of) explains this, I didn’t like that the boy and the monster didn’t have names.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

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How (Not) To Annoy Dad

how%2Bnot%2Bto%2Bannoy%2BdadThis hilarious, laugh out loud story by Australian comedian Dave Hughes and his wife Holly Ife is the perfect way to celebrate Father’s Day.

Like many of us, Father’s Day is a chance to show Dad how much we love and appreciate everything he does for us.


The story focusses on a Koala Dad and his three children who are spending the day together – what could possibly go wrong . . .


The children plan all the things that will make Dad happy and enjoy his special day.

Firstly, they start the day with a healthy breakfast created by the kids. Cue the disaster zone and some questionable food combinations and the day is off to great start.

Then its off to the park to enjoy some fresh air, not the park with the café as Dad wouldn’t need another coffee. Instead they insist on visiting the one with the giant climbing apparatus that is the furthest away from the toilets, and then Dad can help them collect rocks and cool big sticks that they want to add to the growing collection at home.

After the park, there are always great games to play at home, naturally Dad wouldn’t expect to win. Nor would he want to watch anything on TV that the children wouldn’t like, that is if they can find the remote control that is currently playing its own game of hide and seek.

Heath McKenzie’s funny and bright illustrations capture the children’s antics perfectly adding that extra layer of parental understanding to the story.

These adorable situations that play out on Father’s Day are ones that are mirrored in other families and are totally relatable.

As all parents know the perks of having children means no sleep, no privacy and certainly no peace and quiet. Especially when they are in places where they should be quiet or if you are trying to answer the endless stream of questions.

This story is of for all ages and I can already hear parents chuckling as they read this story to their children. One can only wonder how much is based on real life . . .

Title: How (Not) To Annoy Dad
Author: Dave Huges and Holly Ife
Illustrator: Heath McKenzie
Publisher: Scholastic Australia, $17.99
Publication Date: 1 August 2020
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 9781760663735
For ages: 3 – 7
Type: Picture Book

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We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade

Published by Roaring Brook Press

We Are Water Protectors - Kindle edition by Lindstrom, Carole ...
We Are Water Protectors | Carole Lindstrom | Macmillan

Summary:  The Ojibwe narrator has been taught by her Nokomis (grandmother) that water is sacred, “the first medicine”.  A prophecy tells of a black snake that will destroy the land, poisoning the water and killing plants and animals.  Now it seems as though that prophecy has come true, and the girl wants to fight the black snake and save the water.  She’s fighting for the plants and animals that can’t protect themselves and for Mother Earth herself.  The last page shows the protest at Standing Rock: “We are water protectors.  WE STAND!  The black snake is in for the fight of its life.”  Includes author’s and illustrator’s notes with more information about Standing Rock; a glossary of six words from various indigenous languages from the text; and an “Earth Steward and Water Protector Pledge” to sign.  40 pages; grades K-3.

Pros:  A brief but powerful message about the importance of protecting water and other natural resources.  The illustrations are amazing; some of them would make beautiful posters all on their own.

Cons:  Despite the determination of this girl and others like her, the author’s note reports that the Dakota Access Pipeline (the construction of which was being protested at Standing Rock) has been given the green light, and that leaks were reported even before construction was completed.

Click here to buy this book on Amazon.

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Ninja Kid 6

ninja kid 6 ah doIt is October, which means Halloween is coming and the Fair is in town. 

This year Nelson and Kenny will be tall enough to go on all the new, scary rides after many years of stretching and growing. 

But after testing their Grandma’s invention without permission, they are abruptly too small to go on any of the new rides. 

They are even too small for the merry-go-round and Grandma will not have the invention fixed until this AFTERNOON!

Unless they think of good reasons (and disguises) to be small, their hero identities will be discovered. 

Luckily, with the help of friends Sarah and Tiffany, Nelson and Kenny have a plan to defeat Doctor Kane and his giant robot minions and stop them ruining the Fair. They also have a plan to get taller again but end up way taller than they had intended.

This book was really entertaining, and I enjoyed it. I really liked the illustrations and the style of writing Anh Do uses in his books. My brother, who is a big fan of Anh Do’s work, says he really enjoys the two characters Nelson and Kenny getting into mischief. Each new book has a similar plot but a different problem, which I think is a creative way to create a series.

I recommend this book for ages 7+ because it is easy to read and has almost no violent content – only creative humor and funny problems for your entertainment. Anh Do you have done it again!

Title: Ninja Kid 6
Author: Anh Do
Illustrator: Anton Emdin
Publisher: Scholastic, $15.99
Publication Date: August 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781743835135
For ages: 7 – 12
Type:  Junior Fiction

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Review: The Strangeworlds Travel Agency


Have you ever dreamt of travelling to another world? I certainly have, but 12-year-old Flick really hasn’t. She’s a no-nonsense kid who doesn’t need bedtime stories and knows magic isn’t real.

But when Flick discovers a strange travel agency while exploring her new town, everything changes.
Flick discovers she can see magical tears in the universe (or multiverse to be more accurate), and the Head Custodian of the Strangeworlds Travel Agency, 18-year-old Jonathan Mercator, invites her to join the Strangeworlds Society.

As strange as it sounds, this means jumping in and out of suitcases to travel to other worlds — fantastical, magical, enthralling worlds where you must be careful not to tell fairies your true name and being a thief is an actual profession.
But amongst the fun and curiosities of the multiverse, a threat is looming. Streets are disappearing, outposts have been ransacked and something has happened to Jonathan’s father.
Flick wasn’t even sure she was ready to accept the existence of other worlds, how can she be ready to face dangers she doesn’t even understand? But face them she must, or she may never make it home again and her home may not even be there when she does.
The Strangeworlds Travel Agency is a magical middle grade novel for other world adventurers. Truly stunning and uber engaging, this story pulls you into a suitcase and makes you never want to return.
Mysteries throughout keep you guessing until the end, and twists and turns keep you on the edge of your seat. If you love a fantastical adventure, you must check this one out.
Title: The Strangeworlds Travel Agency
Author: L D Lapinski
Publisher: Hachette, $16.99
Publication Date: 28 April 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781510105942
For ages: 8+
Type: Junior Fiction, Middle Fiction 

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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Isn’t it a delight when one of your favorite movies gets recreated as a storybook and that too a gorgeous one? It’s been a joy reading this picture book adaptation of the film “E.T.” directed Steven Spielberg with my 8-year-old. And if you think it from his perspective – alien, spaceship, adventure, and sci-fi, what’s there to not like about it :)? It’s one of those books that perhaps would be hit with many 5-9 years old.

It’s a story you can’t help but love :).

E.T., the Extra Terrestrial is stranded on Earth. He takes refuge with Elliott, a boy in need of a friend. Together they find a way to help E.T. get back home. Along the way, both the child and the alien learn important lessons about courage, friendship, and the power of imagination. This is the perfect read-along story for children, their parents, and E.T. fans across the universe.

Overall, a wonderful book that celebrates unconventional friendship and ignites curiosity and imagination in kids. This one is a must-read for the love of space, planets, aliens, and more. This book also does a fabulous job of simplifying the story presented in the movie. The less child-friendly parts are omitted, making this a perfect read for young readers.

The illustrations by Kim Smith are brilliant, doing absolute justice to the movie.

In fact, after reading this, we also watched this movie and we’re planning to watch Koi Mil Gaya, the Hindi adaptation of this movie as well soon :).

Do give this one a try and let us know if you liked the movie.

In case you would like to listen to the read-aloud version of this book, you may find a good version by The Story Time Family here.

If your little one enjoys doodling, you can find an alien prompt done by us here or here.

We post doodle prompts and tutorials every week on our social pages. If you would like to keep receiving these prompts in your feed, you may follow us on Instagram or Facebook, or subscribe to our monthly newsletter here.

As we always say,

Read everyday, doodle everyday, and keep the boredom away :).

Title: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Author: Based on the movie directed by Steven Spielberg, and written by Melissa Mathison.

Illustrator: Kim Smith

Suitable for: 5-9 years

Available on Amazon here.

The post E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – Children’s Book Review appeared first on Kiddingly.

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Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz

Published by Dial Books

Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer (Shirley & Jamila): Goerz ...
Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer (Shirley & Jamila): Goerz ...

Summary:  Jamila wants to spend the summer playing basketball, but her mother plans to sign her up for science camp.  A chance encounter with a slightly odd girl named Shirley at a yard sale changes the course of her vacation.  Shirley and her mother come to visit the next day, and the moms agree to let them spend their days together on the basketball court.  Shirley seems to spend her days reading, but she gradually reveals her amazing powers of observation to Jamila.  One day an 8-year-old boy named Oliver comes to the court to ask Shirley for help.  It turns out she has a reputation as the neighborhood detective, and his gecko has been stolen from the local pool.  Shirley gets to work, with Jamila tagging along.  Solving the case almost ends their budding friendship, but in the end, each one sees how she needs the other.  Shirley pulls a grand reveal to all involved in the case, as she unmasks the culprit, but also manages to plant seeds of friendships with the kids involved in the case.  224 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  A clever graphic mystery with a bit of a nod to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: Shirley has Sherlock’s astute powers of observation and lack of social skills, while Jamila serves as a Watson-like narrator and assistant.  The characters are well-developed, and most readers will have to wait for Shirley’s grand reveal to figure out who stole the gecko.  I also liked that both characters have just turned 10, as most middle grade novels seem to feature slightly older characters.  This seems like a perfect series opener, so we can keep our fingers crossed there will be more mysterious fun to come.

Cons:  I was hoping all the kids would become friends at the end, but Jamila and Shirley seemed like they were moving on.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

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Nat Enough by Maria Scriven

Published by Graphix

Nat Enough (Nat Enough #1) - Kindle edition by Scrivan, Maria ...
mariascrivan Instagram posts -

Summary:  Natalie is pretty nervous for the first day of middle school, and grateful to have her best friend Lily by her side.  Lily moved over the summer and has been somewhat uncommunicative, but Natalie is sure everything will be fine once they’re back in school together.  But on the first day, Lily’s hanging out with cool and popular Alex, and dismisses Natalie as a nerd.  Fortunately, Natalie quickly makes a new friend, Zoe, but she still wants her best friend back, and spends weeks trying to figure out how to be cooler so Lily will like her again.  Slowly, Natalie starts to discover her artistic talents, and to listen when Zoe points out that Lily isn’t acting like a friend.  Winning a contest with her graphic story turns things around for Natalie, and she learns the importance of discovering what she can do versus focusing on what she can’t do.  Book 2 is due out September 1.  240 pages; grades 3-6.

Pros:  The latest graphic series from Graphix is sure to be a hit, checking all the boxes for a tried-and-true middle school series:  the end of a friendship, the beginning of another, a first crush, and learning to be yourself.  Appealing to reluctant and avid readers alike.

Cons:  The plot was a little too tried-and-true for this reviewer, who has read many, many books with similar stories.  Hopefully, kids will bring a fresher perspective to the story.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

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Doodleville by Chad Sell

Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Doodleville — Chad Sell Doodleville (9781984894700): Sell, Chad: Books

Summary:  Drew has always loved to draw and is excited to become part of a kids’ art club.  Her doodles come to life, and she considers the characters she’s created to be some of her closest friends.  As she becomes friends with the kids in the club, her doodles also get to interact with their creations.  One night, Drew creates a new doodle called Leviathan, or Levi for short.  Before long, Levi has turned into a monster and become a threat to the other doodles.  Drew’s new friends try to help defeat Levi with their own creations, but it soon becomes clear that only Drew has the power to destroy Levi…or maybe to transform him.  She discovers a unique solution, and there’s a promise of more adventures ahead for the entire art club.  Includes an author’s note; an annotated history of the doodles that tells how the author created the doodles that appear in Drew’s drawings; and instructions on how to draw a doodle.  288 pages; grades 3-6.

Pros:  Aspiring artists will be inspired by all the kids’ artwork and will also enjoy the magical world in which their drawings come to life.  Looks as though there will definitely be a sequel to look forward to.

Cons:  The story bogged down somewhat when Levi came on the scene, and I had trouble distinguishing the different kids’ personalities and drawings as they each tried to help Drew.

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.