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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: All Systems Red by Martha Wells

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DAY 25

Cover of "All Systems Red" by Martha Wells.

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Science Fiction
Series: The Murderbot Diaries #1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: “As a heartless killing machine, I was a complete failure.”

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

 

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All Systems Red was an excellent, fast-paced, captivating story with perhaps one of the best/unique main characters I’ve ever read. I don’t read sci-fi often and it’s rare to find a gem like what Martha Wells has created.

Could you ever imagine a robot built for mass murder turn out to be a socially awkward turtle who just wants to watch serials (media) all day? I couldn’t. Murderbot’s clients can be a hit or miss on the quality scale (not that it cares).

Murderbot is currently working as a SecUnit for a group of scientists studying an uninhabited and mostly unexplored planet. It does it’s job (for the most part) but keeps itself separate from the humans unless needed. The scientists view Murderbot in varying degrees, from a person with thoughts and feelings to an object/tool to be used as directed. As unknown danger mounts, it’s interesting how far it is willing to go to protect it’s clients (a curious thing for Murderbot to feel towards humans).

Murderbot has a fascinating personality despite it’s indifference and frankness. It is independent and has wants and needs, but stays within the human expectations of a robot. It is courteous in different ways towards humans to make it’s life easier and keep clients satisfied.

The ending was surprisingly emotional. I did not expect – even though I should have – Murderbot to make the choices it did. But I’m really intrigued about where Murderbot’s journey takes it next as it continues to discover itself. All Systems Red lived up to the hype and I would highly recommend it as well.


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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: Welcome to the Ballroom by Tomo Takeuchi (vol. 1)

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DAY 12

Cover for Welcome to the Ballroom volume 1.

Image via Goodreads

Genre: Sports Manga, Graphic Novel
Series: Welcome to the Ballroom vol. 1
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐1/2
Recommend to Others?: Yes

ABOUT: THE BALLROOM BECKONS Feckless high school student Tatara Fujita wants to be good at something – anything. Unfortunately, he’s about as average as a slouchy teen can be. The local bullies know this, and make it a habit to hit him up for cash, but all that changes when the debonair Kaname Sengoku sends them packing. Sengoku’s not the neighborhood watch, though. He’s a professional ballroom dancer. And once Tatara Fujita gets pulled into the world of the ballroom, his life will nevver be the same.

 

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A good story with a likable cast of quirky characters. I think many people can relate to the main character, Tatara Fujita, in some way. He’s just your average high school student who is unfortunately being bullied at school. Tatara feels adrift with a purpose or something to be good at that would make him special.

But in volume 1, you see him start to come alive, slowly finding himself and a passion to his surprise through ballroom dance. The dancing shown looks really great on the page. There’s life/expression in each dancer’s eyes, body language, and athleticism. I have seen the anime for this story and I think I like it better. But this is still a solid start and the story does get more interesting as it progresses. I really like where this volume ended because it gets you excited with anticipation for the next volume.