Posted in Book Review

The Magic of Rainspell Island and Ruby the Red Fairy

We had a thirty minute drive to the local harvest festival, so we brought along a book from our local library – Ruby the Red Fairy. Even though the book was sixty-five pages, we finished the whole story prior to our arrival. I was reading the book out loud to my three kids. I am sure it would have taken my 8 year old way longer to read the whole book by herself.

Ruby the Red Fairy by Daisy Meadows is the first book in the Rainbow is Magic: Rainbow Fairies series. This book is very simplistic which makes it ideal for a little girl who is just starting to make the transition to reading chapter books.

Ruby the Red Fairy introduces the reader to the storyline for the next few books. In this book, Kirsty and Rachel are two little girls who meet on their way to Rainspell Island. Upon their arrival, they go on a treasure hunt for a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Instead of finding gold, they meet Ruby the Red Fairy. Ruby had become trapped under a heavy pot while fleeing from Jack Frost.

Kirsty and Rachel promise Ruby that they will find the other missing rainbow fairies. Without the rainbow fairies uniting, Ruby’s homeland will remain under Jack’s spell forever.

In my opinion, there were both positives and negatives with this book. First, the writing style was very simplistic. On one hand, this is a positive for new readers who are transitioning to chapter books. Conversely, the simplistic style of this book made it highly predictable. As a parent reading this book, you will most likely be bored.

Second, the book contains pictures throughout which helps ease the transition to chapter books. The illustrations are quite simplistic. The illustrations are essentially glorified black and white stick figures. My girls were not particularly impressed with the illustrations. My eight year old said she could have drawn prettier pictures.

Third, the book felt like it was a trailer designed to lure you into buying book two. It just did not feel like much happened in this book. As soon as you started to feel like the story was truly beginning, the book ended.

Fourth, the book itself is made out of flimsy materials. The cover and pages are thin. The spine is not particularly durable either. I highly recommend obtaining these books from the library rather than spending your money to buy these books.

After we finished reading this book, I asked the girls if we should start book two. Both of my girls, voted to read book five of The Magic Treehouse series instead. My kids did, however, say they think we should read book two of The Rainbow Fairies series.

Overall, I think this book is best for children ages 4 to 8 years old. This book is ideal if you have a little girl who is going through the fairy phase.

On an unrelated note, as of today we have read 578 books. We are getting closer and closer to our goal of 1,000 books!

Posted in Book Review

Throwing Cats and Other Bad Ideas

I will start off by acknowledging that I am conflicted in my feelings about today’s book. Today we read How do Dinosaurs Love their Cats? which was written by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague. I will provide my positive feedback before moving onto some of my more negative critiques.

This fourteen page board book is full of colorful well-illustrated cartoon dinosaurs. The dinosaurs in this book display a wide variety of personality and spunk. I give the book high praise in terms of the illustrations.

There were 139 words in this book which makes the length of the book better suited to a toddler rather than my 10 month old. The cute pictures did, however, manage to keep my son’s attention. I thought the length of the book would be perfect for a toddler.

Unfortunately, I think the content of the first half of this book makes it better suited to children who are 6 to 8 years old. Why do I say that? Well, the entire first half of the story depicts dinosaurs acting “like a brat.” For example, on page four the book asks “If the kitty complains, does she give it a throw?” On that particular page, the dinosaur is shown throwing the cat.

Based on the content of the first half of this book, I think a toddler might get the wrong kind of ideas. Now the second half of the book clarifies that dinosaurs actually love and care for their cats. I would just be concerned that a toddler would miss the point that we do NOT want to act like the mean dinosaurs! In fact, I could see a toddler deciding that it looks way more fun to throw the pet kitty than it does to “give it fresh water.”

This book would be perfect for a child who is in the 6 to 8 year old age range because they would understand the story. An older child would be able to recognize that the book is not suggesting you act like a “brat.”

The issue I have with recommending this book to a school age child is based on the book’s format. The book that I checked out is a board book. Now my 6 and 8 year old are not offended by the idea of reading board books to their baby brother. They do, however, feel strongly that board books are for babies not big kids.

One other odd aspect of this book involved the fact that every dinosaur was a girl dinosaur. I could see a little boy being disappointed by this book because it only has girl dinosaurs.

Lastly, I know some parents have certain words that they do not want their young children to use. This book does include the word “brat,” which I know some parents have on their list of words they do not use in their house.

I would suggest reading this book prior to reading it with your child. As a parent, you will be best able to determine if this book would inspire your toddler or child in all the wrong ways.

Posted in Book Review

Never Touch a Dinosaur!

I am always searching for board books that have lots of textures for my son to explore. Today, I discovered a board book with incredible, textured pages!

Never Touch a Dinosaur by Rosie Greening is the perfect book for a baby or toddler to explore. Each of the dinosaurs in this book have silicone designs. These silicone designs are highly textured and provided my son with endless entertainment today. It was an instant new favorite!

In addition to being a tactile delight, this book has vibrant multicolored words. The pages contain words that are in different colors, fonts, and sizes.

I will note that some of the words are written in cursive in this book. My six year old kept having to chase me around with the book to ask for help with reading the cursive words. I decided this was a great opportunity for her to practice reading cursive, but I could see it being a feature that frustrated a parent.

Stuart Lynch did an excellent job bringing to life the colorful dinosaurs with his illustrations. The dinosaurs are not scary, rather they are downright adorable. The dinosaurs in this book are smiling or making silly faces. They are brightly colored and have different patterns as well.

In addition to its fantastic visual and tactile design, this book is fun for kids to read. The book does not contain a storyline. Instead, each page features a unique set of instructions and warnings about the dangers of petting various types of dinosaurs.

The book also rhymes which makes it fun for kids as well. I will note, however, that some of the rhymes fall a little short of my expectations. For example, the book tries to count “good-bye” and “by” as a rhyming pair.

Never Touch a Dinosaur is approximately 116 words long, so it might be more challenging for a young infant or toddler to sit through. My son seemed amused enough with touching the pages to listen to the whole book. I could see a child potentially getting antsy though.

I would caution that this book does seem to be cheaply constructed. I do not anticipate that the binding on this book would last for a particularly long time. Also, while the silicone textures on the dinosaurs are great to touch, I doubt they are particularly durable. I recommend supervising a young child while they have this book to ensure they do not tear off a piece of silicone. It would concern me as a possible choking hazard.

Despite some of the drawbacks of this book, I still recommend reading this book with your child if they are between 0 to 5 years old. It is a silly book with a sensational design that draws kids in.

After finishing this book, we have now read 492 books of our 1,000 book goal.

Goodnight everyone!

Posted in Book Review

Terrific Toucans!!!!

My kids are obsessed with animal books, so we are always on the hunt for new animal books. Lately, I have been on the prowl to find more non-fiction animal books that the girls can read on their own. Today, I found a fantastic book that was perfect for my six and eight year old to read – Toucans by Rob Ryndak.

This twenty-four page book is part of the Jungle Animals series. These early readers are perfect for children who are between ages five and eight. Specifically this book is designed to be for an early reader.

Every time the reader turns a page, they are greeted with one page containing easy to read text and an adjacent page featuring a stunning toucan photograph. Most of the pages contain four to six words, which makes this an ideal book for practicing reading.

This is a non-fiction book that introduces very basic facts, such as toucans live in groups called flocks. This book focuses more on being easy enough for an early reader to tackle, then it does on presenting a wealth of information about toucans. This book would be ideal if your child wanted to read a book about toucans on their own; however, this would not be the book you would get for a child who wanted to learn a lot about toucans.

At the end of the book, there is a section listing words the reader should know. While there were only two words in this word bank, it did provide my girls with an extra opportunity to practice their reading. I also quizzed them by asking them to define these two words.

As an added bonus, even my ten month old son was captivated by the photographs in this book. My son listened to the whole book, although it was a battle to keep him from eating the pages! Because the entire book only contains sixty-seven words, you could easily read this book to a baby or toddler. You just have to protect the book from teething and page tearing.

I would highly recommend this book to any parents searching for a non-fiction animal book for their early reader!

Posted in Uncategorized

Our 1,000 Books Journey

After my son was born, I was inspired by the idea of the 1,000 books before kindergarten challenge. The premise of that challenge is to read 1,000 books with your child before they begin kindergarten.

I decided to create a modified challenge for myself – read 1,000 books to my son BEFORE his first birthday. We started the challenge May of this year and we have until November 24 to complete our challenge. As of right now, we have read 310 books.

As part of our journey, I wanted to help other parents be inspired to create their own literary challenges. Also I wanted to help other parents by sharing some of the best books we discover along our journey.

Happy reading!