Book Reviews Children’s Book Reviews

  • My Uncle Martin’s Words for America

    My Uncle Martin’s Words for America

    Martin Luther King, Jr.’s niece pays homage to her courageous uncle. She tells readers how he used the power of free speech to protest oppression and discrimination against African Americans. Angela Farris Watkins explains “Jim Crow” laws and segregation, and how “Uncle Martin” would speak out against such practices. Highlighted in bold throughout the text are words that Dr. King lived by, such as “love,” “nonviolence,” “freedom” and “justice.” Dr. Watkins touches upon key civil rights moments, including the Montgomery bus boycott, Dr.…

  • Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets

    Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets

    This picture book biography tells the story of Jim Henson, a boy with an extraordinary mind living an ordinary life in Mississippi. Jim liked using the arts to make people laugh rather than playing sports like most boys his age. Inspired by Edgar Bergen’s puppet, Charlie McCarthy, and L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz, Jim published his first cartoon at the age of 13. At 16, he secured a job on a local Saturday morning television puppet show. By the time he was in college, he launched his first TV show, Sam and Friends. He was among the first puppeteers to make puppets using cloth rather than wood so that his…

  • At This Very Moment

    At This Very Moment

    As the title hints, at every moment, everywhere in the world, life and nature is happening. While we go through our daily activities, the wonders of nature continue to unfold. At the same time we are brushing our teeth, sharks are swimming in the ocean and polar bears are darting across the icy tundra. While we are having dinner, a flock of puffins are feeding on fish off the coast of Maine. This book, released earlier this year, takes readers on a wildlife tour featuring a wide variety of animals in their natural habitats and reminds us of Earth’s marvels.

  • The Night Before Christmas Round-Up

    The Night Before Christmas Round-Up

    Like many of us, “The Night Before Christmas” has been one of my favorites since I was a child. My family’s favorite version is one illustrated by Jan Brett (see last year’s review), and I have to admit that I have never felt the need to read any other edition. While strolling through the annual publishing industry’s trade show earlier this year, I couldn’t help but notice many different books featuring the classic poem, by Clement C. Moore, and decided to open my mind. Following are some editions that are very worth a look:

  • The Velveteen Rabbit

    The Velveteen Rabbit

    This is a newer edition of the classic tale about a young boy who receives a cuddly toy rabbit in his Christmas stocking. The boy takes the rabbit everywhere, including outside to play, where the toy meets real live rabbits. The “real” rabbits tease the toy because he can’t run and play. The rabbit feels sad because he believes that he is “real.” One day, the boy comes down with Scarlet Fever and anything that touched his bed, including the rabbit, must be burned to get rid of the dangerous virus. The rabbit gets tossed into a sack with other items and put in the garden shed. That night,…

  • Holiday 2011 Round-Up

    Holiday 2011 Round-Up

    A true joy for this time of year is snuggling up with the kids and reading some favorite holiday stories. Every family has books that they cherish and reread many times throughout the season. While it’s fun to rediscover holiday books that have been packed away for the past eleven months, it’s also a great time to pick up some new ones at the library or bookstore. Following are some books we’ve recently discovered, plus an all-time favorite. For even more choices, check out last year’s list as well. Here’s to a joyous holiday season and healthy New Year to all!

  • The Nutcracker Ballet by Aleksandra

    The Nutcracker Ballet by Aleksandra

    This new release is a picture book adaptation of the classical ballet, “The Nutcracker.” The traditional story has been abridged, and the authors have added a feature that is designed to stimulate conversation between parents and children on the themes within the story. With that in mind, the book has been designed for co-reading the story, and adults are encouraged to open dialogue with their children about various character building themes, including manners, showing respect and helping others, among others. This can help young people to appreciate and understand the story on a deeper level, whether or…

  • Milly And The Macy’s Parade

    Milly And The Macy’s Parade

    Young Milly’s father worked at Macy’s Herald Square department store, one of the most exciting places in New York City back in 1924. “Papa” emigrated with his family from Poland and missed his country’s holiday traditions. It turns out that many of the immigrant workers had the same homesick feelings. Milly had an idea to cure the workers’ homesickness and bravely barges into Mr. Macy’s office to share her thoughts. Her idea was a parade that would be put on by Macy’s workers, who could each incorporate some of their homeland traditions. Mr. Macy liked the idea and…

  • The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories

    The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories

    This newly released collection of seven Dr. Seuss stories were originally published in magazines in 1950-1951, but never in book form. As such, they were “lost” over the years as magazine copies were simply thrown away. (Remember, the Internet and PCs did not exist then!) Each of the seven stories is unmistakably Dr. Seuss, with his trademark rhyming tempo, unique vocabulary, wild beasts and animals, imaginative kids and outlandish events.

  • Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School

    Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School

    As the title implies, Marshall Armstrong is a new student, and he looks very different from the other students. Marshall’s ears look like seashells, his freckles look like birdseed and he’s filled with mosquito bites. Marshall also eats “space food” that’s packaged in silver wrappers and uses slide rulers and ink pens. When Marshall invites the class to his house for a birthday party, the narrator is very apprehensive about attending, but goes on his mother’s orders. He is pleasantly surprised that Marshall’s house is so big, kids can run around and play hide-and-seek inside,…