Tag: First Time Readers

HOW KING MONTEZUMA GOT HIS REVENGE
ANNALISA NASH FERNANDEZ
ILLUSTRATOR PILAR CASTILLO LAYOS

SUMMARY

Montezuma’s revenge is more than just a legend; it’s legendary for its stinky curse. Centuries after King Montezuma was defeated by Hernán Cortés and his Spanish army, a strange illness befalls legions of people arriving to his land. But this illness isn’t anything ordinary. It leaves a putrid smell in the air and gassy people racing for  el baño . It is a battle – a battle your butt won’t win!

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

It has many names because it happens in many places. For me, I had Mummy’s Tummy in Egypt and I’m not sure what they call it in France, but I had it there too. In Mexico, it’s called Montezuma’s Revenge. That bellyache and gas that sends you rushing to the bathroom when you eat the food in another country. Now you may wonder what’s this got to do with How King Montezuma Got His Revenge. Well, you know it’s a legend don’t you? You don’t!? Stop everything right now and get this book, because the story behind the legend is astounding.

The UNIQUE thing about How King Montezuma Got His Revenge was how the illustrator incorporated historical pictures (gathered from public media) into her illustrations in the form of a book. This book was being shared by the book’s main character, a little girl of Mexican heritage.  Thus, How Montezuma Got His Revenge is also an ETHNIC read.

RECOMMENDATION

This book is recommended for First Time Readers (7-8) and Middle Grader Readers (9-10). However, it a great read-to book for any child.

BUY IT HERE: Amazon

BIO

Annalisa Nash Fernandez is an intercultural specialist and mother of three children.  She lives in Riverside, CT.

EVEN MUMMY CRIES
NAOMI HUNTER
ILLUSTRATED BY KAREN ERASMUS

SUMMARY

Even Mummy Cries is a gentle book which explores issues surrounding mental health and wellbeing. It is reassuring in nature, explaining to children that they are not to blame for any sadness experienced by their parents. In addition, it encourages parents to openly express their sadness with their kids without feeling guilt or shame.

This important book is the sophomore release from ABIA nominated author Naomi Hunter.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

Sometimes it’s hard to understand how your mother or father is playful and fun with you one moment and then screaming, hollering, or crying the next. It’s hard to understand because it’s scary and you don’t know what you’ve done wrong. Even Mummy Cries that addresses the issue that it’s not your fault. Sometimes, as we have things that bothers us, making us sad, angry or frustrated, we lash out or cry.

It is the same thing for our parents. It’s just that they try not to do it in front of us. But, when things happen that they can’t fix away from our eyes, they break down; and Even Mummy Cries shows you some of the things you can do to help them. What makes Even Mummy Cries a UNIQUE read is that it gives parents an opportunity to explain a scary situation.

RECOMMENDATION

I wrote this review primarily for kids who might be experiencing a confusing situation with their parent. However, I really feel that this is a book that parents should read with their children in the hope that is opens the door for conversation and/or help. That being said, this book is recommended for All Ages.

BUY IT HERE:  Empowering Resources

BIO

Naomi Hunter’s debut picture book, ‘A Secret Safe to Tell’, was released in 2014 and earned her a nomination in the Australian Book Industry Award (ABIA) as well as the Australian Speech Pathology Awards.  She has an Honours Bachelor Degree in Primary Education and enjoys writing about sensitive topics in a way to bring about freedom, love and warmth, empowering readers with effective communication and dialogue in which to discuss difficult issues.

Karen Erasmus is a freelance illustrator based in Melbourne. Other books include You’re Different Jemima, Annabel s Chewy-Gooey Birthday Cake and Five Little Platypuses.

LET’S GO BUNGEES
NAVA ALMOG
ILLUSTRATED BY KEREN ALMOG

SUMMARY

We are so happy to have you with us on this marvelous adventure to explore the world. 

Together we will go places, see new faces, learn a lot, and have tons of fun.

Hidden in our books are secret links. Find them, and with one click you will be up high, looking out at new horizons.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

Let’s Go Bungees is the first in a series of interactive books that take children on an adventure around the world. As they learn about different places, people, and cultures, children will be able to get an animated version of their journey through links that are hidden (in plain sight) throughout the book. For me it was an exhilarating experience and a UNIQUE way to see the world. Your tour guides in Let’s Go Bungees are Ming, his wife Sheen, and their friend Yoga. Because they are Japanese ladybugs, Let’s Go Bungees is also an ETHNIC read.

RECOMMENDATION

Primarily, Let’s Go Bungees would be recommended for First Time Readers (0 – 8), but with the interactive links, I also recommend this book for Middle Grade Readers (9 – 12).

BUY IT HERE: AMAZON

BIOS

Nava Almog was born in Italy, raised in France, Israel, and Africa. She spent her childhood traveling the world in the company of her parents, Nava fell in love with the wonder and adventure of discovering new people, places, and cultures.
As far back as she can remember, Nava has written or drawn the stories of her journeys, and she has passed on these passions to her children.
Nava and her daughter Keren (who also loves to travel) have written and illustrated stories based on their own experiences so that children all over the world can discover new places, cultures, and friends through the adventures of the BuggeesBunch.

Keren Almog-Shalem came into the word in a whirlwind of happy enthusiasm. She has been a creative adventurer since she was a child, and loves to travel the world searching for the most unique, special and daring experiences. She climbs the highest mountains, bungee jumps, sky dives, and generally seeks the most daunting challenges.
As an artist, Keren is a marvel at transforming an idea into a project or product, and it is she who has infused the Buggees with such humor and joy.
Like her mother, Keren loves to cook and to paint. She also plays beach volleyball and tennis and loves a day in the sun.

LORETTA’S PET CATERPILLAR
LOIS WICKSTROM
ILLUSTRATOR FRANCIE MION

SUMMARY

 

Loretta finds a caterpillar egg on a milkweed plant. She breaks off the leaf and brings it home. Mom won’t let Loretta keep it in the house, so she tapes the leaf back on the plant, and watches over the egg. It hatches. It eats the leaf, and more leaves. As the caterpillar grows and molts, Loretta shoos away a bird that wants to eat it. Then a wasp, and  even a ladybug. The caterpillar survives. When it forms a chrysalis, a lizard bites it. It heals and eventually a monarch butterfly emerges . In a mixture of pride and sadness, Loretta watches her friend fly away. Plus information on migration, obtaining milkweed seeds for your area, and how to recognize male and female monarch butterflies.

 

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

 

Loretta’s Pet Caterpillar is a fascinating adventure about the transition of a caterpillar from egg to butterfly. Egg? Yeah an egg!, I did not know that. You see, I thought I knew everything there was to know about a butterfly. But it turns out, I know very little. As you will see when you read Loretta’s Pet Caterpillar. But, you know, an amazing thing is how they determine… Wait! I’ll let you find that out for yourself. The UNIQUE thing about Loretta’s Pet Caterpillar is that it’s a picture book that reads like a chapter book. Older kids like pictures too, and these are done quite nicely.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

Loretta’s Pet Caterpillar is recommended for First Time Readers (1-8) and makes a good bed time story. But, don’t exclude your Middle Grade Readers (9-12) who love nature, science, or pictures in their books.

 

WHERE TO BUY:  Amazon

 

BIO

Every morning and evening, my husband and I walk our dogs and pick up trash around the neighborhood. We live many miles away from our children and grandchildren, so we don’t see them very often. We have an organic garden, and a make-shift greenhouse in the basement for starting seeds. We live in the inner city, so there’s no place to park a car. We ride our bikes everywhere that’s practical and we belong to a car co-op. When we want a car, we rent it by the hour. We only need a car about once a month.

At the moment, I’m taking a screen-writing class which I’m loving. I also belong to Toastmasters to improve my oral storytelling skills.

Francie Mion and I just put out a color edition of Ladybugs for Loretta and Bees in Loretta’s Bonnet. Francie is currently making the illustrations for Loretta’s Pet Caterpillar.

I’m working with Lucrecia Darling (co-author of Reluctant Spy) on Xenia and the Deekatoo, a book about undocumented aliens and mythical creatures.

 

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WONDERWORLD: THE MUSICAL
BRETT SCHIEBER

SUMMARY

Wonderworld: The Musical is a Tim Burton style fairytale about Max, a lonely and confused boy who struggles with distinguishing reality from fiction. An outcast, he is picked on in school and his only solace is found in his art (his “Wonderworld”). At his lowest moments, his creations come to life to sing to him. Can his art save him?

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

Have you ever felt that you didn’t belong? That no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t make friends or people found you weird? That was Max’s world. He always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. To end his confusion and loneliness, he discovered Wonderworld, an imaginary place created solely by his imagination, and a box of colored pencils.

Now the thing about Max is that—. Oh, I can’t tell you that part. I don’t want to spoil it for you. In fact that part, that thing I can’t tell you about is what makes this a UNIQUE read. It also shows that the evil person and the good person are—oops, almost.

RECOMMENDATION

Wonderworld: The Musical is recommended for Middle Grade Readers. However, the musical version of the book is a great teacher for First Time readers or as a bedtime story for those children that can’t read yet.

BUY IT HERE   Amazon  (Book)  Amazon Music (Musical Version)

BIO

Brett Schieber is the musical half of the electro-acoustic duo Arcanum. He also records solo music and gigs frequently. In addition to being an in demand writer, producer, and session musician for other artists, he writes and records popular educational music for children under the name of Mark D. Pencil and Friends with his friend, Ace. He loves all animals, Duran Duran, and Star Wars. Tree, the narrator and vocalist of “Wonderworld: The Musical”, is the lead singer of the critically acclaimed electro-acoustic duo Arcanum. He produces solo music, art, and writings under the moniker of Kobritz. He does not own a computer.

The Land Without Color

THE LAND WITHOUT COLOR
BENJAMIN ELLEFSON
ILLUSTRATED BY KEVIN CANNON

SUMMARY

Lost in a strange land where everything is gray, Alvin must find the true color thieves to save the princesses and restore the color to the kingdom.

Floating into the air with an enormous gum bubble, Alvin lands in a strange world where everything is gray. The trees, the flowers, the dirt, the sky, the animals, and even the people are all missing their color.

Confronted with the mystery of the missing color, Alvin teams up with some unexpected friends to battle man-eating plants, outsmart the bumbling Crimson Guards, cross the Sugar Desert, overcome the two-headed dragon, and find the color-stealing goblins to restore color to the kingdom.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

It starts off with a simple game of kick the can. but with Brandon and Steven being the only ones free, it was bound to end in a tie. And…it almost did. You see they both reached the can at the same time, they both kicked it up into the air at the same time, but when it came down, somehow it landed in front of Steven making Brandon and all the other kids the winners.

As they celebrate the win, Paul and Derek, two brothers, drop by and asked them to go fishing. However, they can’t find anything to cut the spool of fishing line. Wait! Brandon’s grandfather lives near the pond, They can get something from him to cut fishing lines for each of them.

Grandpa Alvin, pulls out a pocket knife and not since the Wizard of Oz has such an adventure been told. A wad of Never Pop bubble gum lands twelve-year old Alvin son of Jack in a place that is all gray. The grass, the road, the sky, everything, Well not Permy of course, but everything else is gray. Together, Alvin and Permy set out on a trek across THE LAND WITHOUT COLOR simply to find out what happened and change everything back to its normal self.

Did I say simply. Nothing is ever simple and THE LAND WITHOUT COLOR doesn’t disappoint. First there’s…, then… well next… Shucks, I can’t tell you about any of that. You’ll just have to find out for yourself as you read THE LAND WITHOUT COLOR. I can say that there is one wicked twist that will have every parent cheering.

Another thing that I really enjoyed about THE LAND WITHOUT COLOR and which makes the story UNIQUE is that it had lots and lots of pictures. Something that is very rare in a Middle Grade Book. However, its main character, which turns out to be Alvin, provides an ETHNIC read.

RECOMMENDATION

THE LAND WITHOUT COLOR is primarily recommended for Middle Grade Readers (9-12) especially those boys and girls who are reluctant to read. However, because of the illustrations, I also recommend this book for first time readers who show advanced reading skills.

WHERE TO BUY:  Amazon

BIO  Benjamin Ellefson loves writing whimsical adventures for children of all ages.

61w9TZl00GL._UX250_Childhood was a magical time for him. Benjamin grew up in a neighborhood full of kids. Every day was filled with imagination, adventures, fantasy, and wonderful stories. In school he loved any project that let him explore his creativity.

When Benjamin was older, he traveled across the country to study story telling at the University of Southern California in their school of Cinema/Television. While in school, he had the amazing opportunity to work on several film productions and saw stories coming to life first hand.

Over several years after school, Benjamin had four beautiful daughters. When they were little, he spent all of his creative energy giving them the magical childhood that he had when he was small. There was nothing as exciting to Benjamin as watching their imaginations flourish as they explored the world.

Now that they are older, he wants to give that magic to all of the children of the world. Benjamin focuses his writing on modern fairy tales that are fun for kids and thought provoking for adults. Each adventure celebrates important values of self-reliance, preparedness, and diversity. He hopes with each book to spark imagination in each reader.

 

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IN THE LAND OF BROKEN TIME: THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY
MAX EVAN AND MARIA EVAN
Illustrated by MARIA EVAN

SUMMARY

This book is about the adventures of the boy named Christopher, the girl named Sophia and golden retriever Duke. By chance they find themselves in a balloon, that took them into a fairyland, where mysterious events happen.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ (REVIEW)

Now according to the authors, In The Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey is about the journey of a boy, a girl, and a dog in a fairyland.

They tried to make a story about the different ways of measuring time and about friendship. In fact, In The Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey, there are many facts about how to construct different clocks (not only mechanical, but also sundials, water clocks, hourglasses, and aromatic clocks). They also tell readers how the human eye responds to light and about the animals that never get old. Were they successful, yes.

But most kids aren’t going to pick up on that. They’re going to love the adventure of the balloon ride, the unusual characterization of Temporus Certus, who is a professor concerned about time which is broken, the gentleness of Merula, the giant gnome who once lived underground, and the gut wrenching humor involving Duke when he finds out that— Ahhh, I can’t tell you what he finds out. I don’t want to spoil it for you.

The UNIQUE thing about In The Land of Broken Time: The Incredible Journey is the story itself. Its complexity was made so simple that it was just a joy to read.

RECOMMENDATION

In The Land of BrokenTime: The Incredible Journey is recommended for both FIRST (0-8) and MIDDLE GRADE (9-12) readers.

BUY IT HERE: AMAZON – Ebook
AMAZON – Paperback

BIO MAX EVAN

Once, when I was 11, I walked past the library. It was a special library for adults who worked at the metallurgical plant. My father worked at this plant as well. Through the narrow window I saw shelves full of books. Usually there were no people inside. Workers rarely read. I was a smart kid, but did not read the books too.

Nevertheless the books in the Soviet Union were a rarity. You could not freely come to the store and buy them there. It is hard to believe today, but it’s true. Books have been a deficit. You could easily buy the works of Marx and Lenin, but could not reach, for example, Jack London or J. D. Salinger.

I went inside. I do not remember exactlyMax Evans what we talked about with the librarian. It was a middle-aged woman. As a result, she enrolled me in the library under the name of my father, went down somewhere in the basement, and brought a thick volume. It was a novel by Jules Verne ”The Mysterious Island”. I read this book avidly. A whole new world opened before me. And so ever since I came to this library and I was given more and more new books.

I grew up, graduated with honors from the University. I am currently working as an editor at the largest Russian TV channel and writing books.

If this had not happened then, perhaps I would have to be working at the plant, which today due to the economic crisis no longer exists. So the only one book changed my life. So when someone says that reading can dramatically change a person, I believe in it, because I know it from my experience.

 

Maria EvansBIO MARIA EVAN  – The idea to write a fairy tale came at the time when our son was 5 years old. He was sick, and I really wanted to please him with something. Our son has learned to read at a very early age. In two years he already knew how to do it. All the children’s books that we had at home, he had already read several times. That’s why I had a desire to come up with something new. It was a story about how our son travels with our boxer dog. They flew in a hot air balloon. It was very exciting for me too. I saw how my son’s eyes light up and thus he gave faith that my compositions are interesting. Thanks to the writer’s talent of my spouse, Maxim Evan, the idea was realized. I am an artist. And I really like to make illustrations for our books. I really hope that our first children’s book translated into English will please young readers.

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JAY-JAY THE SUPERSONIC BUS

SUE WICKSTEAD

ILLUSTRATION BY ARTFUL DOODLERS

 

SUMMARY

Jay-Jay the bus was rescued from the scrap yard where he was sadly gathering dust and cobwebs. He is taken to an airport where he is magically transformed into a ‘Playbus’ full of toys, games and adventure.

Jay-Jay – The Supersonic Bus is a fictional tale based on a real life bus ‘Supersonic’ which flew in the imagination of the many young children who visited him.’

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ (REVIEW)

Imagine, your favorite toy being taken away from you and broken down into pieces. You’d be upset right. Well put that on a larger scale and you have Jay-Jay, a bus. Recently, he had begun to feel tired and old. So, he was sent to a scrap yard and left to be taken apart (piece by piece) and turned into scrap metal. Scrap, how embarrassing. Sadly, he waited in the scrap yard with only a spider for company until something amazing happened.

What happened you ask? Come on, you know I can’t tell you that. It would spoil your chance to read this wonderfully illustrated and beautifully told story.

The UNIQUE thing about Jay-Jay, The Supersonic Bus is that in this age of recycling, it shows how something as large as a bus can be repurposed without being torn apart.

RECOMMENDATION

This book is recommended for First Time Readers (0 – 8) with in some cases a parental assist, and a great bedtime story. It would also be great for some nine-year-olds.

BUY IT HERE:   Amazon

Sue Wickstead Bio

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OKI AND HARLO
FAIRYTALE FRIENDS

CAS MESTEROM

 

SUMMARY

Oki, a little orphaned goat meets Harlo, a shooting star, who falls to earth and ends up in the field where Oki is asleep. They become instant best friends and together they go on a quest to find Oki’s momma.

On their adventure, the little friends encounter wise old, Mr. Owl, Wobbly, the chicken, and a little girl named Ellie and her family.

Enter a world where children can safely go and learn about making friends, being honest, and believing in dreams, as well as healthy eating and the REAL purpose of rainbows!

“Oki and Harlo, fairytale friends” is the first ever draw freely e-book.
The story invites the readers to make their own illustrations. There are free-draw pages that have clear instructions on what to draw.

“Oki and Harlo, fairytale friends” is written for children aged 5 to 10 years, but is suitable for older children and adult kids too! It is a fun fairytale to read to your children and it is equally fun for children who are discovering the world of reading and imagination.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ (REVIEW)

Life is good for Oki as he plays in the pasture with his mother and the other farm animals. Yes, life is good until that faithful day, that farmer Barbic takes his mother away. His mother tells him not to be alarmed because she is only going to the farm and she’ll see him later. But, when winter ends and the other animals return from the farm, his mother is nowhere to be found.

He is sad, especially since Mrs. Sheep who cared for him during the winter months, now has her own family to care for. That night, as he struggles to fall asleep, he hears a noise not far away. It turns out to be Harlo, a star who has just fallen from Heaven.

After meeting and greeting each other, the two become fast friends and Harlo offer’s to help Oki find his mother. Thus the adventure begins as the two set out the next morning. Of course they had a little guidance from the—oh, you’ll have to find that out for yourself.

The UNIQUE thing about Oki and Harlo, Fairytale Friends is that it’s interactive. That means YOU CAN WRITE IN THE BOOK! EXCITTTTING!

RECOMMENDATION

Oki and Harlo Fairytale Friends is a bedtime story written in the form of a chapter book for First Time Readers (1-8), but I feel that the interactive part will also appeal to Middle Grade Readers through age 10.

BUY IT HERE: Amazon

BIO: Cas Mesterom is a Dutch born author, poet, model and actor. Although Dutch is his native language, he feels more at ease writing his ideas to life in English.

Oki and Harlo is his first children’s book, and has taken seventeen years to breath life into the characters so that they live in print.

the-tree-talks-back

THE TREE TALKS BACK

BILL GRIGSBY

Illustrated by ESA GRIGSBY

 

SUMMARY

Summary: A plucky girl encounters an enormous tree, discovers it includes all fruits, and decides, much to the chagrin of its current animal and insect inhabitants (no epiphytes, sorry!), to climb to the top to retrieve a prized tropical fruit, the mangosteen. On the way she makes a mess, though, and well to continue would be to spoil the reader’s adventure.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF READ REVIEW

The Tree Talks Back starts with a girl walking into the forest. A little ways in, she sees a huge, no gigantic, no humongous tree. The tree is so big that it takes her half a day to walk around it. Now the most interesting thing about this tree is that it contained a lot of…. Well there were a lot of…. And then…

You know it was a really big tree and I can’t tell you what was going on because I don’t want to spoil the story for you.

The Tree Talks Back is a beautifully illustrated, very, very funny adventure story. Interestingly, the play on words is what makes this a UNIQUE read.

Sssh–another thing that is unusual about The Tree Talks Back is that the tree…zzzzzzz.

Can you believe that girl. She was about to give you a secret. I had to put her to sleep. Ahem! No spoilers here!

RECOMMENDATION

This book is primarily recommended for First Time Readers (5-8) and Middle Grade Readers (9 – 12). But I think all tiny readers and some not so tiny ones will enjoy reading it.

BUY IT HERE:  Amazon

bgrigsby1BIO  Bill Grigsby leads the glamorous life of a small college professor. ‘I could never write. I went to a ex-pharmacist-turned-handwriting analyst, and she said I should have been a doctor. At the time I didn’t know that simply meant my handwriting was illegible, so I went back to school. I found out the hard way that illegible handwriting and a PhD don’t grant a license to perform surgery. They don’t tell you that til you’ve defaulted on your student loans and lost your first malpractice suit.’

Speaking of student loans, his oldest daughter Esa announced after graduating with a degree in foreign languages that her true passion was illustration. ‘I told her I’d write up an old bedtime story and she could illustrate it. How hard can children’s books be to pen? Complete sentences, right?’

That’s how No egrets Publishing was born. Bill keeps his day job teaching sociology at Eastern Oregon University. ‘Lots of people are locked in to pretty narrow ways of thinking about the world, society, and their places in it. Some of what I do is trying to disrupt intellectual entropy. It’s not a great marketing strategy, but it’s therapeutic.’

esagrigsbyEsa keeps her day job in the Portland schools, but her talent at translating stories into pictures, scenes and side stories comes out pretty clearly on the page.

Their stories are full of sociological themes. ‘Kids are a tougher audience than college students. You can’t hold a final exam over their heads. The subtext in The Tree Talks Back is subtle but universal, the visual adornments extravagant, and it will never be mistaken for an academic report.’

At the time I made up this story, I had been working and researching in Africa, and as part of that studying tropical trees and fruits. Our daughters were unimpressed with my day job exploits, and parents intuitively know that none of that matters to young readers at bedtime. Subtext is there for those with an interest, but the story always comes first, and this one–mind you the illustrator was part of that original bedtime audience–was a labor of love.’

This story is best read to a younger audience, older children will appreciate following the meter and rhyme (and the subplots hiding in plain sight in the pictures).