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Sunday Book Review: “Magic Tree House #37: Dragon of the Red Dawn,” by Mary Pope Osbourne & Sal Murdocca; “One-Third Nerd,” by Gennifer Choldenko & Eglantine Ceulemans; and “Dragons in a Bag,” by Zetta Elliott

March 17th, 2019

March 2019

March 2019

March 2019

(Pix by N. Row Rawley)

“Magic Tree House #37: Dragon of the Red Dawn,” by Mary Pope Osbourne, illustrated by Sal Murdocca (A Stepping Stone Book/Random House, 2007, 108 pages). Ah, the genius of Mary Pope Osbourne. My kids loved this series, the fiction and non-fiction titles alike.

It must be rough, I’m thinking, having a librarian as a mommy. One minute, you have this amazing set of Magic Tree House books, the next minute, she’s given them all to one of her third-grade classes because why? Because I said so. Lol. “Because they needed them more than you two did.” (In my own defense… they really did. They only had a few of the titles, and they were tattered and worn.)

But the other day, going through boxes containing Nerf darts, random coasters for the coffee table, misplaced board games and Tonka trucks, what should I come across? My daughter’s pretty necklace, for one. And an overlooked Magic Tree House book — “Dragon of the Red Dawn.” Such a great series. If I’m ever blessed enough to have grandkids, I’m buying the whole series all over again. (I won’t give it away this time. Promise.)

Check out some of Osbourne’s other work, too — the mythology books and science titles are great.

Next up: new releases.

“One-Third Nerd,” written by Gennifer Choldenko, illustrated by Eglantine Ceulemans (Random House Children’s Books, 2019, ages 8012, 211 pages, $16.99). Loved this book. “One-Third Nerd” introduces us to a cool cast of characters: Cupcake, the dog that won’t stop peeing on the carpet; a family that has recently gone through a divorce, but are dealing; a big brother, Liam, who doesn’t want any extra attention called to himself; Dakota, the middle sis, a science geek who struggles making and keeping friends; and Izzy, the little sis, who has Down Sydrome and is the huggingest kid in America.

This is an awesome chapter book. Reviewers have compared “One-Third Nerd” to Judy Blume’s books, and it is that good. The drawings by Eglantine Ceulemans remind me of Hilary Knight’s work, they’re very sweet.

“Dragons in a Bag” is the latest from author, playwright and poet Zetta Elliott. (Her books for young readers include “The Girl Who Swallowed the Sun” and “Melena’s Jubilee.”) Geneva B. did the charming, detailed illustrations. This is a cool book, and a lot of fun, with some seriousness added to the mix.

Jaxon’s mom, worried that they are going to lose their apartment due to eviction, drops him at his Ma’s house. Only… she’s not really his granny, she’s kind of a witch.

Not a mean old lady — a witch. And she needs Jaxon’s help with some baby dragons.

Well-written, engaging, and go, Brooklyn!

xo and bon appetit,

your girl,

Wacky Mommy, aka Nancy

Thursday Book Reviews: “Where Did You Come From, Baby Dear?” by George MacDonald & Jane Dyer; “William Wakes Up,” by Linda Ashman & Chuck Groenink; “Rosie and Rasmus,” by Serena Geddes; and “The New Neighbors,” by Sarah McIntyre

March 14th, 2019

2019

2019

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Reviewing this week:

“Where Did You Come From, Baby Dear?” by George MacDonald, drawings by Jane Dyer (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2018, ages 3-7, 32 pages, $17.99). How is baby? British author MacDonald (1824-1905), a Scottish author, poet and minister, wrote this lovely story about babies touched by cherubs’ wings, made out of love, brought by God. Beautiful, airy pastels by artist Dyer, who has illustrated more than fifty picture books. This one would be a nice gift for new parents.

“William Wakes Up,” written by Linda Ashman, illustrated by Chuck Groenink (Disney-Hyperion, 2019, ages 3-5, 40 pages, $17.99). William, c’mon now. You and your buddies need to wake up. C’mon. You can do it. It’s spring, and it’s time to bake the Welcome Cake. Lovely art, a nice story, and a sweet welcome to spring. (Tell chipmunk, Get. Up!)

“Rosie and Rasmus,” by Serena Geddes (Aladdin, 2019, ages 4-8, $16.99). This one is due for release April 2nd and I cannot wait for the latest from this Australian writer and artist. We have an independent dragon, and a lonely little girl, and let’s see how this friendship will go. It’ll be good. #bffsAnd4ever #dragonsrock #girlpower The copy I have is review only, but the colors, the words — beautiful. Final copy will be even better, I’m sure. (The author dedicated it to her younger self, with an inscription that says, “This is us.” #love)

“The New Neighbors,” by Sarah McIntyre (Penguin Workshop, 2019, ages 3-7, $17.99). Well hello, rats! say the bunnies upstairs. They wanna tell Lettuce (their big sis) all about it. But… uh… wait. Who moved in? Will they be friendly? Let’s all go find out. Sweet art, nice use of repetition while the story builds, and funny, funny ending. (There will be cake.)

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

Saturday Book Review — for the grown-ups: “Olive Kitteridge,” by Elizabeth Strout; “Son of a Gun,” by Justin St. Germain; ” “Dreaming in Cuban,” by Cristina Garcia; “The Sum of Our Days,” by Isabel Allende

March 2nd, 2019

2019

I’m late to the game for Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize winner, “Olive Kitteridge” (Random House, 2008, 270 pages). Thirteen stories = one amazing novel. Olive is a retired school teacher who lives in Crosby, Maine, with her husband, Henry. Olives weaves and dodges throughout the stories. The stories are heartbreaking, beautiful, stripped down, spare, lush and rich. It’s a lot, this book. I’ll finish it and I’ll start it again. It’s that kind of book. xo

2019

If you’re looking for an extraordinary memoir to read, check out “Son of a Gun” by Justin St. Germain (Random House, 2013, 242 pages). It’s his story about the murder of his mother, Debbie St. Germain, and the fall-out in his life, before and after.

2019

(Winter 2019, all photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Just started “Dreaming in Cuban,” by Cristina Garcia (Alfred A. Knopf, 1992, 245 pages). This is one I missed when it was first released. It’s a magical book.

“The Sum of Our Days,” by Isabel Allende, (HarperCollins, 2008, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden, 301 pages) is the sequel to “Paula,” Allende’s memoir about the loss of her daughter. Just like all of Allende’s work, it’s brilliant.

Bon appetit, babies. Happy winter, happy reading.

WM

Thursday Book Review — for the little kids: “How Do Apples Grow?” and “Ocean Life,” by Jill McDonald; “Vampirina in the Snow,” by Anne Marie Pace & LeUyen Pham

February 28th, 2019

2019

Hello, folks, and thanks for your patience. Meanwhile, my dining room table is ready to topple over cuz so many books!

Jill McDonald and Hello, World! have released two cute new titles, “Ocean Life” and “How Do Apples Grow?” (Random House Children’s Books, 2019, 0-3 years old, $7.99 apiece). Both have beautiful illustrations and extra tidbits of knowledge tucked into the edges. For example, from “Ocean Life”: “A sea horse father carries eggs in a pouch until they are ready to hatch” and “Sea turtles have lived since the time of dinosaurs!” Cool. Apples, apples, apples: “There are more than 7,000 types of apples!” Beautiful.

2019

“Vampirina in the Snow,” by Countess Anne Marie Pace, illustrated by Mistress of the Night LeUyen Pham, is the latest in the Vampirina series (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, $17.99). The Vampirina books are funny and sweet, and you can catch it on Disney Junior, too. Vampirina and her ghoulish friends are catching snow flakes on their tongues, building snowmen and making snow angels. Here’s to winter.

2019

2019

(All photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley.)

Tuesday Book Review: Happy (belated) Christmas! “The Chicken Chronicles,” by Alice Walker; “Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets,” by Sara O’Leary & Jacob Grant; “Where Do Diggers Celebrate Christmas?” by Brianna Caplan Sayres & Christian Slade; and “God Bless America: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin,” by Adah Nuchi & Rob Polivka and other delights

January 15th, 2019

Untitled

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Those are the newest bok-boks, who turn one year old next month. We’ve lost one, but the other four are alive and well. Chickens = heartbreak, it turns out. Which I knew, but didn’t really know, until they were part of our family.

I started this post a long time ago, thought I hit publish and didn’t, so here we are. So happy-after-Christmas reviews.

I’m reading Alice Walker’s book about life, love, family and chickens. It’s called “The Chicken Chronicles: Sitting with the Angels Who Have Returned with My Memories: Glorious, Rufus, Gertrude Stein, Splendor, Hortensia, Agnes of God, the Gladyses, & Babe: A Memoir,” and I’m liking it. The title alone makes it worth the price of admission. I’ve always liked Walker’s writing, though, and her attitude. Like many of us, I discovered her in college when we read “The Color Purple.” If you don’t know her writing, or haven’t checked in with her lately, please do.

I have some other chicken books (that I received as Christmas presents) that I will review later. Bok-bok.

“Owls Are Good at Keeping Secrets: An Unusual Alphabet,” written by Sara O’Leary, with pictures by Jacob Grant (Random House Children’s Books, 2018, ages 3-7, 40 pages, $17.99). Pretty art, sweet words.

“Aa: Alligators think you’d like them/if you got to know them” (I believe we all feel this way, at times…) and…

“Ee: Elephants are happiest at bathtime” are my two favorite pages.

Awesome book.

“Owl Babies,” by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson, was one of my children’s favorites, and mine as well, back in the day. And the “Little Bear” books, by Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak. So. Many. Cool and sweet animal books.

“Where Do Diggers Celebrate Christmas?” (by Brianna Caplan Sayres, illustrated by Christian Slade, Random House, 2018, $16.99) These Digger books are funny.

“Where do food trucks celebrate Christmas after serving lots of meals? Are there special Christmas menus at these restaurants on wheels?” (With art of daddy snowman and kids, with their pink frosted cupcakes, by the cupcake dessert truck.)

Trucks, kids and gifts — winning combination.

Also recommending “God Bless America: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin,” written by Adah Nuchi, illustrated by Rob Polivka (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, $18.99). Great bio of an incredible songwriter who has come to symbolize America. The book includes a list of websites and a bibliography in the back, but the song list? That’s all for me. It’s ten of his best-known songs, and includes “Blue Skies,” “Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” and my favorite, “White Christmas,” which my dad taught me to play on the piano when I was a little bitty girl.

Lots of love, more reviews soon, and bon appetit, babies!

WM

Saturday Book Review: Rick Riordan Presents “Aru Shah and the End of Time,” by Roshani Chokshi; plus “The Isle of the Lost,” by Melissa de la Cruz, Robert Venditti & Kat Fajardo; and “Tim Burton’s ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas: A Petrifying Pop-Up for the Holidays’”

December 8th, 2018

Halloween Books

(That dog loves to be read to. Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Book reviews! Fun stuff.

This is part of the Rick Riordan Presents series. “Aru Shah and the End of Time: A Pandava Novel, Book One” by Roshani Chokshi (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, 355 pages, $16.99). Chokshi, who also wrote “The Star-Touched Queen” and “A Crown of Wishes,” has written a great young adult novel that I’m hoping is turned into a film someday. Oh, wait! Looks like Paramount Pictures landed the rights.

Our heroine, Aru, plays kind of fast and loose with the truth. Her schoolmates find her out when they discover she’s working at the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture (where her mother is curator) and not taking a fancy vacation like she told them she was. They don’t believe that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed and here, our story begins. Great to read a book that focuses on Hindu mythology, with an Indian girl as the main character.

The next book in the series, “Aru Shah and the Song of Death” will be released in April, 2019.

“The Isle of the Lost,” by Melissa de la Cruz, adapted by Robert Venditti, with art by Kat Fajardo, and lettering by Leigh Luna (it’s a labor of love, this one) is a very cool graphic novel. (Based on the “Descendants” novel, from Disney-Hyperion, but of course, 2018, $21.99). Nice art — all purples, greens and reds — that rises off the pages and invites you in. The plot is a little all over the place, but I think I’m the only one who’s going to have a problem with that, not Disney fans. A lost scepter; a big cast of familiar characters; Diablo (Maleficent’s evil raven); Dr. Facilier, the strange MC — it’s good fun. The story: Disney villains and their family members are given the heave-ho from the Kingdom of Auradon and sent to the Isle of the Lost.

Things get weird.

Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas: A Petrifying Pop-Up for the Holidays” was just released (Disney Editions, 2018, $65). Matthew Reinhart worked hard on this one, and it’s amazing. Save it for the teenagers and grown-up “Nightmare” buffs; keep it on the shelf and only let the babies admire it under supervision. It’s an outstanding work of art.

Bon appetit, babies.

WM

Saturday Book Review: Scary Stuff! (not-so-scary… for the little tykes) — Disney “Mickey Mouse: The Scariest Halloween Story Ever!”; “The Nightmare Before Christmas”; “H is For Halloween: A Book of First Words & ABCs”; “5-Minute Halloween Stories”

November 17th, 2018

Books! Halloween Books! Even though it’s almost Thanksgiving. Work with me people, I didn’t get a chance to review these until now.

Bon appetit, babies.

WM

(All photos by moi, Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Halloween Books

Halloween Books

“Mickey Mouse: The Scariest Halloween Story Ever!”

“The Nightmare Before Christmas”

These two slim paperbacks include CDs with sound effects and narration, and that is pretty, pretty cool (Disney Press, 2018, $6.99 each).

I’m aware that Donald Duck has nephews (Huey/Dewey/Louie) but Mickey has nephews, too? Well, they’re cute, and so is this book. It’s all purple and green and you know Wacky Mommy likes those colors best. Story is good, too. Thumbs up for this one.

And “Nightmare Before Christmas, because it’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” and I heart Sally. Jack Skellington is OK, he has a lot of personality for someone so boney. But that creepy Mayor can get to steppin’. (Disney sent me this amazing “Nightmare Before Christmas” pop-up book, too (Disney, 2018), but I have to review it later.)

Halloween Books

“H is for Halloween: A Book of First Words and ABCs” (Disney Press, 2018, $12.99)
“A” is for Abu and Aladdin juggling apples, “B” is for Belle and the Beast brushing bats from the attic, “C” is for Lilo and Stitch collecting candy in a cauldron, and so on. Super pretty big board book, heavy and with nice thick pages for the littles to work with. They can open the flaps, and trace the sunken letters with their fingers.

Halloween Books

“5-Minute Halloween Stories” (Disney, 2018, 188 pages, $12.99)
“Spooktacular” stories, again in an oversized format. There are a dozen total, all with a Halloween theme, from “Wreck-It Ralph” to “Inside Out” to “Alice in Wonderland.” This is the kind of collection they’ll pore over by themselves, to enjoy the art and play at reading, and will like to read again and again with their older siblings and parents. Candy colors and, of course, big, beautiful art. It’s Disney.

Friday Book Review: “Heartwood Hotel: Home Again,” by Kallie George & Stephanie Graegin; “The Adventurers Guild,” by Zack Loran Clark & Nick Eliopulos

November 16th, 2018

Good Life

“Heartwood Hotel: Home Again,” written by Kallie George and illustrated by Stephanie Graegin (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, ages 4-8, 170 pages, $14.99). Ms. Prickles is marrying Mr. Quillson in the fourth and final book in the “Heartwood Hotel” series. (“Heartwood Hotel: A True Home,” “Heartwood Hotel: The Greatest Gift” and “Heartwood Hotel: Better Together” are the earlier titles.) Acorn souffles, beds lined with moss, and “the grandest hotel in Fernwood Forest” provide a sweet way for young readers to escape.

These critters, Mona the Mouse; Mr. Heartwood, the badger owner; Tilly, the squirrel maid; hedgehogs Mr. and Mrs. Higgins, the gardener and head housekeeper, respectively; and the rest, will warm the heart for sure. Break out the Calico Critters and Rabbit Family, I’m just saying. J

“The Adventurers Guild,” by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos (Disney-Hyperion, 2017, grades 5-8, 306 pages, $16.99). This is a cool dystopian-style novel for the younger set, and is more Rick Riordan than Suzanne Collins. Best friends Zed Kagari and Brock Dunderfel live in the city of Freestone, where the two of them and the other young people of their city, one of the last standing after monster attack, wait to be assigned to a craft union.

The book is fast-paced, lively and with interesting characters.

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

Sunday Book Review: Scary Stuff! “#murdertrending,” by Gretchen McNeil; “The Mortification of Fovea Munson,” Mary Winn Heider; “The Life and Death Parade,” Eliza Wass; “Part of Your World: A Twisted Tale,” by Liz Braswell

October 28th, 2018

Wacky Mommy Book Reviews

Wacky Mommy Book Reviews

(Pictures by me, in my own inimitable style. NERR)

OK, y’all. Here are some creepy-cool-scary new young adult novels that I don’t wanna talk about. Because they’re scary is why. But they are all four excellent books, but gifted new writers, and you’ll like them. I promise.

Boo!

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

“#murdertrending,” by Gretchen McNeil (Freeform Books, 2018, pages, 339 pages, $17.99.) I’m hearing a lot of good buzz around this book, it looks good. Haven’t started it yet because, hello, it looks super creepy, too. #notabadthing

“The Mortification of Fovea Munson,” by Mary Winn Heider (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, 328 pages, $16.99.) She’s not Igor, she’s Fovea Munson, and yes, her parents run their own cadaver lab. What? You think that’s weird? (OK, it’s pretty weird.) Funny, grim, kinda kooky book about a girl making the best of a nutty situation. #love

“Part of Your World: A Twisted Tale,” by Liz Braswell (Disney Press, 2018, 475 pages, $17.99.) Ursula: alive and well and living on land, running Prince Eric’s kingdom. Ariel: in trouble. Is her father still alive? I like this one, it’s like yummy, yummy, Disney fan fic.

“The Life and Death Parade,” Eliza Wass () This one is spooky-scary-sad-good. I have been freaking out reading this one. It’s well-written, with well-developed characters and a good plotline. (Art? The cover and inside pages are beautiful, gold and black. Perfecto.)

Sunday Book Review: “Sanity & Tallulah,” by Molly Brooks; “Anne Frank’s Diary,” graphic novel by Ari Folman & David Polonsky; “Maus” by Art Spiegelman

October 14th, 2018

Book reviews/sunshine

Book reviews/sunshine

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

* Debut! The first book from author Molly Brooks, “Sanity & Tallulah” (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, ages 8-12, 240 pages, $12.99). Geeky-smart girl scientists Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega run the show in this brand-new graphic novel. They live in a beat-up space station on Wilnick, with other scientist families. The girls pull off an amazing experiment, but when it goes wild (literally), they have to scramble before the situation gets worse. The mod art is a lot of fun, and the story is good.

* “Anne Frank’s Diary,” the graphic novel version, adapted by Ari Folman, with illustrations by David Polonsky (Pantheon Books, 2018, $16.48). This is a lovely adaption of Frank’s story and will no doubt be appreciated by readers of all ages.

* It makes me want to revisit “Maus,” Art Spiegelman’s World War II classic (Pantheon Books, 1991, 296 pages, $28.40). This was the first novel I ever read and revolutionized the genre.

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