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Book Review: A Home Again by Colleen Rowan Kosinski, Illustrated by Valeria Docampo

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Cover of "A Home Again" by Colleen Rowan Kosinski, Illustrated by Valeria Docampo

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: After the last brick is laid, a family moves into a brand-new house. As the family grows, the house delights in the sound of laughter echoing in its halls and the pitter-patter of little feet traversing its floors and realizes it is no longer just a house. It has become a home—their home. One day, the family packs up, and with tears in their eyes, they say goodbye. The house doesn’t know if it can ever be happy again until two men appear. It begins to feel a sliver of hope about this new family…perhaps it can become a home once more.

Told from the perspective of a house, this story’s heartfelt text and beautiful illustrations convey a warmth of feeling as two families change and grow at different times within the same four walls.

 

REVIEW: A Home Again is a cozy story about how a house becomes a home that warmed my heart.

I love that this story is told from the perspective of the house. The people, the laughter, the smells, the sounds, the personal touches all work in concert to create a beautiful, loving home.

I felt every emotion the house was feeling: from happy to confused, from sad to joy and love again. The house’s journey is mesmerizing and well developed.

I really loved this book! The rich vocabulary and smooth, bright illustrations made the story come to life. Things ended so satisfyingly hopeful. I would certainly recommend A Home Again!


AS ALWAYS, HAPPY READING!!!
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Book Review: Restart by Gordon Korman

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Cover of "Restart" by Gordon Korman

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Middle Grade
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Chase’s memory just went out the window.

Chase doesn’t remember falling off the roof. He doesn’t remember hitting his head. He doesn’t, in fact, remember anything. He wakes up in a hospital room and suddenly has to learn his whole life all over again . . . starting with his own name.

He knows he’s Chase. But who is Chase? When he gets back to school, he sees that different kids have very different reactions to his return.

Some kids treat him like a hero. Some kids are clearly afraid of him.

One girl in particular is so angry with him that she pours her frozen yogurt on his head the first chance she gets.

Pretty soon, it’s not only a question of who Chase is–it’s a question of who he was . . . and who he’s going to be.

 

REVIEW: Restart is a remarkable story and another reason why I practically devour and adore anything by Gordon Korman. Every book of his I’ve read has been 5 well-deserved stars and Restart is no exception.

Chase Ambrose is a football star, an all-around athlete, and a huge bully until one fall from a roof gives him amnesia, forgetting everything prior to waking up. Who he is now is a complete 180 on who he was, so it’s difficult for every character (kids and adults) to reconcile with. It’s a precarious fine line Chase walks, which hooked me into the story.

I was as fascinated as I was conflicted by Chase’s story because 1) he has a second chance to be a better person than he was (a precious gift) and 2) at times I wondered if the amnesia was …too convenient? But I think Korman did a great job presenting varying, realistic reactions towards Chase. While I had misgivings and worried about how Chase would cope with this divided, contrary existence, I was rooting for Chase to do better and be better and be happy.

Restart has a lot of exceptional character development and I loved the varying points of view in each chapter. I think that was crucial to the conundrum the story presents because other characters’ thoughts and feelings would provide the reader with necessary insight and influence how the story ended. There were good times, bad times, sad times, and surprisingly funny times that all balanced well together. I also loved the relationships that formed and the satisfying conclusion to the story.

Restart was amazing, thought-provoking, entertaining, and enjoyable.

CW: bullying (see resources below)


24/7 Support That’s Here For You

Stop Bullying
www.stopbullying.gov/

Crisis Text Line
www.crisistextline.org
US and Canada – Text HOME to 741741
United Kingdom – Text HOME to 85258
Ireland – Text HOME to 50808

The Trevor Project
https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
1-866-488-7386
TrevorChat available
Text START to 678678


More by Gordon Korman

Ungifted

The Unteachables

Unplugged


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Book Review: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Clement Hurd

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DAY 23

Cover of "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by Clement Hurd

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a little bunny. “Goodnight room, goodnight moon.” And to all the familiar things in the softly lit room — to the picture of the three little bears sitting on chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to the mittens and the kittens, to everything one by one — the little bunny says goodnight.

 

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A classic that never gets old! Goodnight Moon is the ideal bedtime story to wind down the night with.

It’s a slow, gentle, peaceful descent, grounding the reader into the story. It’s incredibly engaging as the cute, little bunny says goodnight to various things and sounds. I like how the story pretty much gives a room tour to the reader and allows the reader to take in every detail of the illustrations. My favorite lines: “Goodnight stars/ Goodnight air/Goodnight noises everywhere.”

Goodnight Moon is a must-have for one’s personal library.


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Book Review: I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb, Illustrated by Suzie Mason

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DAY 22

Cover of "I’ve Loved You Since Forever" by Hoda Kotb, Illustrated by Suzie Mason

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: I’ve Loved You Since Forever is a celebratory and poetic testament to the timeless love felt between parent and child. This beautiful picture book is inspired by Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb’s heartwarming adoption of her baby girl, Haley Joy.

With Kotb’s lyrical text and stunning pictures by Suzie Mason, young ones and parents will want to snuggle up and read the pages of this book together, over and over again.

 

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This book was really well illustrated. I was blown away by the art and colors from the very first page. It’s a visually appealing and beautiful story about a parent/guardian/care-giver’s deep love for their child. The tone is relaxed, gentle, and peaceful. All the animals were so cute but I have a deep love for pictures of a starry night sky. Really enjoyable story!


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Book Review: Dragon’s Breath by Michael Gordon

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DAY 21

Cover of "Dragon's Breath" by Michael Gordon

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: What happens when a Dragon doesn’t brush his teeth? Well…we all heard about the ”dragon’s breath’’. That’s why learning proper dental care is really important for a little boy and his friend Dragon Joe.

 

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A delightful story that teaches young readers the importance of dental hygiene in a fun and creative way. It’s a creative take on the idiom “dragon’s breath” by having a dragon as one of the main characters. Dragons are awesome so I found myself very interested in the story. The story is short and to the point, which I liked.

I wish George (the boy) was a little less blunt about Joe’s (the dragon) bad breath as teeth insecurity (such as braces, gaps, crooked alignment, etc.) impacts one’s self-esteem. So I personally connected with what Joe was feeling having felt the same growing up. But I do like George’s solution to help his friend Joe.

Dragon’s Breath was a good story. The illustrations were nice and I liked that it rhymed. I think it will encourage kids to build healthy habits in an accessible way.


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Book Review: We Are (Not) Friends by Anna Kang, Illustrated by Christopher Weyant

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DAY 18

Cover of "We Are (Not) Friends" by Anna Kang, Illustrated by Christopher Weyant

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Series: You Are (Not) Small #4
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Two fuzzy friends are having a fun playdate when a new pal hops in. As the day continues, each friend feels left out at times. It isn’t so easy to figure out how to act when everything seems to change. With humor and heart, the beloved characters from Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small navigate a friendship triangle as only they can.

 

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What happens when a two-friend group becomes three? I really liked this book because friendships change and grow or cease to be as you get older, and this can be a hard life lesson to cope with and navigate. You can see how the main characters have a difficult time playing altogether with a third fuzzy friend. They feel sad, unsure, and left out. But things come together nicely in the end. I like how much movement there is to the illustrations. The art is fun, delightful, and expressive. A good addition to a kid’s personal library.


More by Anna Kang

You Are (Not) Small
You Are (Not) Small (#1)
I Am (Not) Scared (#2)


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Book Review: I Am (Not) Scared by Anna Kang, Illustrated by Christopher Weyant

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DAY 17

Cover of "I Am (Not) Scared) by Anna Kang, Illustrated by Christopher Weyant.

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Series: You Are (Not) Small #2
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Two fuzzy friends go to an amusement park. They try to convince each other that there are much scarier things than the roller coaster. Hairy spiders! Aliens! Fried ants! They soon discover that sometimes being scared isn’t as “scary” as they thought. With expressive illustrations and simple text, this giggle-inducing tale about (not) being scared features the endearing characters from the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small.

 

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Our two fuzzy friends don’t want to admit they’re scared to ride a roller coaster. Right away I connected with these two because roller coasters scare me. I will (maybe) go on very small ones (maybe). Sometimes it’s easy for the mind to blow our fears out of proportion. I like how the two friends work through their fear together, discovering that it’s okay to be scared, which is a nice message for young readers to learn. As simple as they are, I really like the illustrations, especially when they are on the roller coasters. Overall, a good read.


More by Anna Kang

You Are (Not) Small
You Are (Not) Small (#1)


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Book Review: Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

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DAY 14

Cover of Red: A Crayon's Story

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Red has a bright red label, but he is, in fact, blue. His teacher tries to help him be red (let’s draw strawberries!), his mother tries to help him be red by sending him out on a playdate with a yellow classmate (go draw a nice orange!), and the scissors try to help him be red by snipping his label so that he has room to breathe. But Red is miserable. He just can’t be red, no matter how hard he tries! Finally, a brand-new friend offers a brand-new perspective, and Red discovers what readers have known all along. He’s blue! This funny, heartwarming, colorful picture book about finding the courage to be true to your inner self can be read on multiple levels, and it offers something for everyone!

 

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The emotional depth of this story is astounding!

A crayon was made/labeled red but he doesn’t feel like a red crayon. Instead, he feels blue. But the other crayons think there’s something wrong with him because he can’t draw/color things that are red like a red crayon should be able to. The crayon feels sad he’s not living up to others’ expectations. But once he stops being what people say he should be and begins to start drawing blue things does this crayon truly shine.

I love how the author used crayons to talk about the struggles to fit the one’s we’re born with and finding one’s identity that makes them feel like their true authentic self. I felt a great empathy for the main character and definitely could relate to his struggles.

Red: A Crayon’s Story is whimsical and heartwarming; worth the read.


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Book Review: Gratitude is My Superpower: A children’s book about giving thanks and practicing positivity by Alicia Ortego

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DAY 13

Cover of Gratitude Is My Superpower

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Little Betsy will learn that happiness is made up of simple things in life, both small and big. With the help of the magic stone, she will begin to feel gratitude for her parents, friends, and toys. But what happens when little Betsy forgets to use the magic of her stone? She will realize that the power of gratitude is hidden in her heart.

 

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Gratitude Is My Superpower is a cute story to teach kids about gratitude and how to find it in their own lives. Betsy’s mom gives her a Gratitude stone and how to use its magic to turn negatives into positives.

“But then I remember the children who aren’t as lucky as me, / To have a healthy, warm meal, cooked by their mummy.”

Betsy quickly learns to be thankful for what she has and that things happen for a reason. I love how she’s able to shift her mindset and apply what she’s learned to real world situations a kid would find themselves in.

This book would make a great read aloud or addition to a classroom library. Sometimes it’s hard to remember the good when life gets tough or isn’t going your way, even as adults. The magic in this book is a helpful reminder to exercise gratitude daily and be thankful.


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Book Review: The Cool Bean by Jory John, Illustrated by Pete Oswald

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DAY 5

Cover of The Cool Bean by Jory John and illustrated by Pete Oswald

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Picture Book
Series: Bad Seed #3
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: Everyone knows the cool beans. They’re sooooo cool.

And then there’s the uncool has-bean . . .

Always on the sidelines, one bean unsuccessfully tries everything he can to fit in with the crowd—until one day the cool beans show him how it’s done.

 

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Another great read from Jory John and Pete Oswald!

I adored the main character before I even started reading. Just look at the lil bean’s stylish blue tie! But compared to his estranged friends – the “cooooool beans” – lil bean is eh. The bean clearly misses its friends who unexpectedly changed and they no longer hang out – so sad!

The Cool Bean is a tale as old as time that’s hard to process sometimes. Friendships change, people change, and sometimes you just grow apart. Then there’s the overwhelming challenge of trying to fit in to not be alone. Readers will connect with the bean on a personal level to what the bean is experiencing. That’s what makes this story (and series) so good, fun to read, and accessible.

I really loved the illustrations and colors used. I thought it was funny when the bean was reading “The Great Gatsbean.” The end of the story made me so happy, too.

The Cool Bean was adorably cool and reminds us that the coolest thing you can be is yourself.


More by Jory John

Bad Seed
The Bad Seed (#1)
The Good Egg (#2)