‘The Good Daughter’ by Karin Slaughter Is a Stay-Up-All-Night Read


Reading “The Good Daughter” by Karin Slaughter is like finding a nugget of gold after slogging through acres of mud. It’s that good.

Slaughter’s narrative grabs the reader from the first few pages. The story revolves around two sisters, Charlotte and Samantha (Charlie and Sam). Almost immediately, the reader learns about the horrible tragedy that tears apart their family, resulting in the death of their mother. Their family will never again be the same, and neither will Sam and Charlie’s relationship.

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Picture Books Perfect for Pupils Preparing for Perfectly Pleasant Reading

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It’s back to school time, and for parents and teachers who want to inspire a love of reading, there are some fabulous new picture books for children of every interest and age.

simpsons sheep just want“Simpson’s Sheep Just Want to Sleep” by Bruce Arant is a fine picture book about animals as well as animal and human behaviors. Farmer Simpson is up at dawn working the farm and caring for the animals. But he has a problem — the sheep won’t wake up. He does everything he can think of to wake them. He bangs pots and pans, blows horns and pops balloons. Nothing wakes the sleepy sheep. Finally, the clever farmer has an idea. He goes to the rescue pound and adopts a puppy. He tells the puppy that he will be barking and waking up the sheep. But the puppy has a different idea. Sometimes, a gentle touch works when force does not. The language is lovely, the rhyme and meter fabulous. Perfect for sharing thoughts and morals about friendship and behavior. And for promoting the adoption of animals. (Peter Pauper Press)

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‘Heartwood Hotel’ A Perfect Series for Young Chapter Book Readers

“Heartwood Hotel: A True Home” and “Heartwood Hotel: The Greatest Gift” by Kallie George is the start of a series that young chapter book readers will love. Especially if they love animals.

In the first book, Mona, the young orphan mouse protagonist, falls into an adventure. After losing her home in a storm, she explores the forest and comes across the Heartwood Hotel. There she meets Gilles, the lizard who “mans” the front desk. She also meets the badger, Mr. Heartwood, who owns the hotel, conveniently located inside a forest tree. And she also meets Tilly, who starts as an enemy but is not necessarily what she appears to be at first.

The second book expands on Mona’s story. The hotel faces a problem with an upcoming celebration, the St. Slumber Supper, and Mona is the only one who is able to solve the problem. Their food supply is suspiciously dwindlingm and no one knows who the thief is, so Mona and Tilly go off on an adventure to try the help the hotel. During their adventure, Tilly finds a long-lost family member, and they must figure out how to defeat the wolves’ dastardly plan.

Mona’s ability to make friends and obtain their loyalty make her a great main character. She is intelligent, caring, and loyal, and she doesn’t give up.

Sofia Perkins, assistant reviewer, gives this book 4 stars. She says, “It’s really good!”

There aren’t many good books for that age where kids like reading chapter books but may not be ready for more sophisticated reads. For advanced second graders and third through fifth graders, this is a series that certainly fills a gap.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover books provided by Disney-Hyperion, the publisher, for review purposes.

‘Chester and Gus’ by Cammie McGovern is the Quintessential Book about a Boy and his Dog — Perfectly Beautiful


Cammie McGovern knows a lot about autistic children. As she explains in the Author’s Note, she has an autistic son. She also knows a lot about children and their dogs. She had a dog, Buddy, who was her son’s companion. Although Buddy wasn’t a trained service dog, he and her son had a special connection, and that was the basis for her new brilliant novel, “Chester and Gus.”

“Chester and Gus” is about Chester, a dog whose fear of loud noises flunked him out of “service dog school.” His trainer, Penny, noticed Chester’s brilliance, his ability to learn commands and vocabulary words, his willingness to please. She had high hopes for him and was devastated when he was basically sold to a family who wanted Chester as a companion for their autistic son.

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Sea Creatures, Outer Space, and a Percy Jackson Coloring Book All Perfect for Last Days of Summer

Are the kids getting antsy about going back to school? Get them a drawing or coloring book to keep them busy while you and they get ready.

“Draw 50 Sea Creatures” by Lee J. Ames gives instructions for artists-in-training on how to sketch animals found in water, including crabs, clownfish, lionfish, sharks, salmon, oysters and more. The figures all begin with simple shapes and show how to add more shapes, refine those shapes, and then add details. Along with a sketchbook for practicing, it’s a perfect tool to keep kids active without watching a screen. Continue reading

‘The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals’


With “The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals” by Joel Sartore, National Geographic has created an album of incredibly beautiful — stunning, actually — photos of animals, many of which are critically endangered. But it’s not just a compendium of animal photographs. This book goes much further.

Each page and placement of the animal species is carefully considered and artistically placed. Just leafing through the pages, the reader immediately notices that the pictures are paired in artistically and visually pleasing ways.

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Some Great Nonfiction Picture Books Perfect for Getting Kids Ready to Start the School Year

Who doesn’t love elephants? After reading “How to Be an Elephant” by Katherine Roy, kids (and adults) will love elephants even more. The book is beautifully illustrated with watercolor scenes and filled with interesting information about elephants from birth on. ElephantFinalCoverThe first page of information is “Family Matters,” and Roy explains that African elephants are “one of the species on Earth that live in permanent social groups.” She compares what a baby elephant needs to learn to what a baby human needs to learn. Readers learn about how elephants walk with their huge bodies and what makes their nose so important and powerful. It’s fascinating! Included are diagrams that clarify the text and make it visually appealing. The life-like sketches almost seem to move at times as Roy shows a baby through different stages growing up and learning to behave. Kids will really enjoy this book as a read aloud and later as a book to peruse and learn from. (Roaring Brook Press)

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‘Collared’ Is Another Masterpiece of Mystery and Mayhem in the ‘Andy Carpenter’ series by David Rosenfelt


Reading the “Andy Carpenter” series by David Rosenfelt is dangerous.  The books should come with warnings: “Read with Caution, Extremely Addicting.” The latest book in the series, “Collared,” is no exception.

In this case, Carpenter must uncover the mystery of what happened to an abducted baby. It all starts with a dog — of course. A border collie is dropped off at Carpenter’s animal rescue, and the dog’s microchip connects the dog to a woman whose child was abducted, with the dog, three years before. Carpenter’s wife, Laurie, is friends with Jill Hickman, the woman whose adopted baby was kidnapped, so he gets involved.

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‘Picasso Loves Shapes’ Is a Picture Book for Young Children about Shapes and Art and Picasso


“Picasso Loves Shapes” by Judiee is a great picture book to use to teach children about shapes and all the wonderful things that can be done with shapes. The book is written and illustrated with simple text and simple line illustrations.

When the shapes are introduced at the beginning, with brightly colored squares, triangles, trapezoids and more, Picasso also appears. He expresses his love of shapes in both English and Spanish. Picasso spoke Spanish because he was from Spain.

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