Tag Archives: children books

Book Review: Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh

Published July 25, 2017
288 Pages

“Harper doesn’t trust her new how from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of deja vu but she can’t remember why.

She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in the hours, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?”- Goodreads

Before I give my thoughts on this book, I need to explain why I picked it up. I don’t follow Ms. Ellen Oh on Twitter but someone I follow does and she happened to liked a tweet that caught my attention.

Just based off that my curious its was peaked. So I requested the book from the library that same day. I didn’t have a lot of thought or even a pressing need to read this book. I just wanted to see what the fuss was about. But let me tell you once I started this book, I did not put it down until well after 1 a.m. This book was fantastic from beginning to end.

Harper is what I would picture of a child having to deal with something paranormal when you family doesn’t believe you and also sent you away for help. It was such a realistic viewpoint of not a disobedient loner child but of a little girl, who loves her family but is struggling to deal with her own past and keeping it all together. I’ve always wondered what if the child that can see things, no one else can see, actually said something to her family as opposed to hiding it and dealing with it on her own. For anyone that has ever wanted to know that, this book is the answered.

It touches on a lot of subjects such as family and doing what you feel is best for that family. It touches upon family ancestry and the divide that can cause. It touches upon racism and diversity without it feeling as if the author is trying to hard. This book flowed extremely easy with these topics and of course the paranormal aspect of it.

But what I liked most about Harper, herself, was her ability to face her fears. It’s cliche I know but she literally faces the worst head on and keeps pushing through until she has done what she set out to do. She wasn’t bratty, mean or even desperate. She was a little girl that wanted to be with her family and make some friends in a new town.

Beyond all of this, what sold me was how freaking creepy this book was. Whatever resource Ms. Ellen Oh used as a reference to help her write this book was on point. Every scene, every time Harper felt something or saw something, it was so visual it was as if I was watching a movie. As a grown woman, there were things in this book that creeped me out and I loved every moment of it. Harper stood tall and faced all of that and I have nothing but respect for her.

The pace was great. The down time didn’t even feel like down time because there was so much going on emotional as well as physically. The imagery was pure talent actually the entire book was and I hope and pray that there will be a book two.

5 Pickles.

Book Review: The Song From Somewhere Else by A.F. Harrold, Levi Pinfold (Illustrator)

Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Published Nov. 10, 2016
216 Pages

Frank doesn’t know how to feel when Nick Underbridge rescues her from bullies one afternoon. No one likes Nick. He’s big, he’s weird and he smells – or so everyone in Frank’s class thinks.

And yet, there’s something nice about Nick’s house. There’s strange music playing there, and it feels light and good and makes Frank feel happy for the first time in forever.

But there’s more to Nick, and to his house, than meets the eye, and soon Frank realises she isn’t the only one keeping secrets. Or the only one who needs help …-Goodreads

This will be a short review and mainly because I am not sure how I feel about this book. To begin this book was not what you think it is. Although I would consider this a coming of age story it isn’t a typical coming of age story. Frank is a difficult character to love. I say that because there was no real personality to her. She was a very shy girl that was being bullied and cared  a lot about her reputation. But beyond that there was not a lot to her. I couldn’t say she was strong, noisy a bit but she was truthful as much as she could has been. She was very unsure of herself but there was some growth, especially towards the end, which is why I consider this a coming of age story.

However, what shifted in this book was the magical element. It came out of nowhere…nothing lead up to it. I liked that aspect of the book. But I didn’t feel that the magic was the best route for this book. I am not the author, obviously, therefore, I had no right to say that but something was off, maybe misplaced about Nick and his secrets. Maybe it was Frank and the lack of life she brought to the book. I am not exactly sure.

But the entire book felt monotone and it was slow; even when thing were happening. I love this author but this was not the strongest book.


2 Pickles

NetGalley Review: Hope is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera

      Amulet Books     To Be Published March 11,2014        272 Page
Amulet Books
To Be Published March 11,2014
272 Page

* I received this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Star Mackie is 10-years-old and lives in a trailer park with her mom and her sister Winter. The three moved to a new town after Winter is expelled from school.

Things are hard enough at home for Star but trying to make friends in a new town when you hair is blue and cut like a mullet is a bit hard. But when Star starts a poetry club begins to fall in love with the works of Emily Dickerson, she begins to see what life is really about.

This book was incredibly sad as well as cute. Star is a rebel with a cause. I loved her and the fact that she was very conscious of the things happening around. She wasn’t insecure, she didn’t have a lot of problems within her herself but there were  issues around her.

I really loved the fact that she adored her sister.  Winter wasn’t a bad girl she was just frustrated and upset at her mother for quite a bit of things. She loved her sister but she was going through issues and needed space; for a while Star wasn’t okay with that.

But what I really liked about the book was the diversity of the characters. Star makes friends with kids whom you would not think would love poetry and they actually get along with each other even when Star was being a jerk.

I didn’t like her mother so much. It didn’t feel like she cared enough. Don’t get me wrong she cared but not enough for me to feel it passionately. I felt something missing from the mother . . . she was way to bitter for me.

But overall the story was well written and it is a good read for children trying to fit in as well as handling things at home. It was descriptive without being too much but I do wish it was longer. With the climax it ended too short and easily. Overall this book gets 3.5 Pickles.

Quick Five© with Chris Grabenstein

Courtesy of Chris Grabenstein
Courtesy of Chris Grabenstein

Name: Chris Grabenstein

Who is Chris? Award winning author of both children and adult fiction with a love of all things library.

Website: http://www.ChrisGrabenstein.com

Books: John Ceepak Mystery (Books 1-8), Haunted Mystery (Books 1-4), Christopher Miller Holiday Thrillers (Books 1 &2), Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Itunes

Meet my new favorite author. There are no words to describe when you meet and author who writes exactly what you need and how you need it. From his adult books to his children books, this writer feeds my horror and mystery addiction at the same time. In this interview Chris explains how he is able to be so specific in his books and how he is able to keep both his adult and children audiences entertained.


You write both Adult and Children mysteries; how are you able to stay pure to each genre without crossing the line into the other?

Well, at their heart, all mysteries are puzzles, where the reader gets to play along and solve a crime or figure something out before the characters in the story do.   The conventions of the genre work for both young and old.  You just have to watch your subject matter and language choices when writing for kids.  And, of course, realize that they have a much shorter attention span than even me!

     Random House Books for Young Readers         Published June 25, 2013            304 Pages
Random House Books for Young Readers
Published June 25, 2013
304 Pages


Your books are very involved with specific details about a person’s past or an event in history. What usually inspires these details for you?

I think that comes from the time I spent as a stage actor.  When you are creating a character for a play, you always build a “back story,” a history that would justify why the character is acting the way they are when the curtain goes up.  Details make anything more believable.   A lot of the details come from memories or my own.  For instance, the character of Kyle Keeley, the game fanatic in ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY, is based on my own memories of being the third child in a family of boys.  The only time I could beat my older brothers was when we played board games!

 In your latest book Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library  you’re putting the spotlight on those who completely love the library and have dreamed of spending the ultimate sleepover in the library. What made you decide to write a book about that?

Growing up, I didn’t have access to great (or even good) libraries at school or in my small Tennessee town.  Now that I have been visiting about 40 schools a year to talk about books and writing, I spend a lot of time with awesome librarians and media specialists.  I marvel at how enthusiastic they are about getting their students reading, always standing by with a fresh recommendation.  “Oh, it you liked X, you’ll love Y!”   I sure wish those librarians had been around when I was in middle school.   Then, maybe, I would’ve read more books instead of just a lot of Mad magazines (which, I think are also great).   I wanted this book to be a celebration of libraries and the democratic notion of shared knowledge.   That’s why Mr. Lemoncello’s motto is “Knowledge Not Shared Remains Unknown.”

How would you describe your success as a writer?

Well, it depends on how you define success.  For me, the greatest joy and sense of achievement comes when I hear from parents who tell me that their son or daughter “hasn’t a read a book in years” and “couldn’t put yours down.”  And, when I go into a school and get an assembly of 300 kids jazzed about reading and writing?  That’s a very good and successful day.

         Carroll & Graf   Published Sept. 20, 2005            321 Pages
Carroll & Graf
Published Sept. 20, 2005
321 Pages

Finally, out of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?

Whichever one I just finished!   Actually, I have a few.   THE CROSSROADS, because it was the first book I wrote for middle grades readers after doing five mysteries and thrillers for adults.   I LOVE writing for kids.   Next up, is I FUNNY, a book I co-authored with James Patterson.  When I first moved to New York City, I wanted to become a stand up comic.  Now, thanks to Jamie Grimm and James Patterson, I get to do it — on the page, anyway.  Finally I am thrilled with ESCAPE FROM MR. LEMONCELLO’S LIBRARY.  The response from teachers, librarians, and, most importantly, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders has been phenomenal!


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R.I.P. Barbara Park

    Courtesy of Google images
Courtesy of Google images

Today is such a sad day. Not just for children authors but for authors every where. Barbara Park, author of the Junie B. Jones, passed away November 15, 2013 at the age of 66 from her long battle of ovarian cancer.

This touches home so much because not because I’ve been a fan and have been reading her stories since I was a child but I share these stories with my six-year old nieces. They are obsessed with these stories and normally I wouldn’t think much about the author but reading a series you’ve come to share something with the author.

Although she is completely known for her Junie B. Jones series, Park wrote other books such as the Geek Chronicles, The Graduation of Jake Moon, Mick Harte was Here, Operations: Dump the Chump, and Ma! There is nothing to do here.

May you rest in peace Ms. Park.

For the Kids Book Review: Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

Flora Belle Buckman is a cynic. She also happens to love superhero

   Candlewick Press (MA)   Published Sept. 24, 2013              155 Pages
Candlewick Press (MA)
Published Sept. 24, 2013
155 Pages

comic books, which agitates her romance writer mother. However, when Flora sees a squirrel getting sucked up by a vacuum she knows that she must do something.

Unexpected series of events begin to happen when Flora saves this squirrel’s life. I’m sure no one is prepared for.

This book was adorable. Told in words and illustrations, the reader sees the point of view from Flora and Ulysses (the squirrel; she named him).  I thought this added more to the book. It did because it wasn’t just all about Flora and how she thinks the animal can understand her and what he did for her. It was what Ulysses thought and what they did for each other.

I love how Flora is a reader and not blonde hair, with the perfect parents. Her parents are divorced but her father is in her life. Her mother is sucky . . . neglectful and selfish. Her father is weird but she loves her father and that is pretty clear.

I also love the fact that no one thought she was crazy and they believed her about Ulysses and his abilities.  It’s a breath of fresh air when I see this.

Overall the book gets 10 out of 10. It’s a quick read, zero clichés, completely creative and at the same time inspiring.



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Children’s Book Highlight: Because I’m Your Dad by Ahmet Zappa



This book was the cutest thing I have read in a while. Its about a monster and his monster son or maybe daughter and all the things his father will do for him. What makes this book is the illustrations, which is a given for any children’s book.  Perfect for those bed time stories.

No rating is needed for this book because I highly recommend it for father’s to read to their children.


Happy Birthday Ella Fitzgerald!

google images
google images

The “First Lady of Song” was born today and Motif Ink is going to honor her by focusing on a children’s book written in her honor as well as a mini bio for those who do not know her. Ella was born in Newport News, Virginia, which is also called Bad News, Virginia. Her parents were married by common-law but once they separated Ella and her mother moved to Yonkers, New York. From her Ella would help out her family doing odd jobs for money.

When her mother passed away Ella started living on the streets. What started out as a dream to be a dancer turned to be a singer when she entered an amateur contest at Harlem’s Apollo Theater.  After winning firs place, Ella’s career instantly took off.

Ella’s voice is distinct; you can pick it out in a room full of voices. She recorded more than 200 albums, and has won 13 Grammy Awards and although she passed away in 1996, she is constantly honored. For instance, Google created a home page in honor for her birthday today.

The children’s book “Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald” is a colorful book that tells how Ella was an orphan and with the small amount of change she received from people in the street she was able to change her life. What I think makes this book a great children’s book is it is fun but it is informative and uplifting. Granted it is going to take more than small change for people to reach their dreams but it gives children hope at a young age which is great.

google images
google images

The author uses prose to create a tone that is upbeat and rhythmic. The illustration followed as such, with great detail and bright colors. As for biography for children it is a good resource.


Happy Birthday Ella!

R.I.P. E L Konigsburg

google images
google images

E. L. Konigsburg passed away on April 19, 2013 at 83 years old. She was an award winner from the start. Her first book “Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth” won a Newbery honor in 1968.  Almost all her books are requirements for students in middle school. That is because her books were based on her children; especially her daughter and the fact that she taught at an all girls school.

Her life is fairly guarded. Unlike a lot of writers, she didn’t have controversy surrounding her; she lived her life and wrote her books. In total she wrote 16 children novels and illustrated three picture books.

I always see her books whenever I walk through the children’s section. I am a bit sad that I didn’t read her book when she was alive. However, these books are going to keep her legacy alive and I have every intentions of reading them.

A sad day in the literature world. R.I.P.