Review: Go, Dog. Go!


        Go, Dog. Go! is P.D. Eastman’s classic tale of dogs doing stuff. Lots of stuff. They work, they play, they attend parties. Lots of parties. They go up and down. They come in many different colors, including green and blue. Unlike many tales, there is no central character, although many of the dogs reappear throughout the story. There is also a “Do you like my hat?” subplot between two unnamed dogs.

        Go, Dog. Go! is one of the often read books from my childhood. I like it because it is a simple story that younger children can easily follow, but there are lots of details that keep it interesting. For instance, on the page “Three dogs at a party on a boat at night.” The dogs are playing checkers and a banjo. P.D. Eastman draws nice cartoons, simple, but detailed enough that motion and lights are reflected in the water’s ripples. The shadows are also done nicely, and use a consistent light source.


5 stars!

Review: P.B. Bear's Birthday Party


        P.B. Bear’s Birthday Party by Lee Davis is about a stuffed bear who has a birthday adventure. He receives a big box in the mail, and his friends come for a birthday party. They bake a cake, open the big box, and set off for a picnic. It’s a nice afternoon outing out in the country.

        The art is photographs of stuffies, all placed in a scene like stop-motion characters. The text is interspersed with pictures, so instead of reading “P.B. Bear” there will be a little picture of P.B. Bear. The pictures are simple objects, so it was pretty easy to follow. It took me a couple times to remember all the animal names instead of just saying “the dog,” but there is a glossary of labeled pictures on both of the inside covers.

        This is the book to read again and again and again, according to an adorable two-year-old. 

5 stars!

If you need more, the four original books are:
  • P.B. Bear's Birthday Surprise
  • P.B. Bear's Treasure Hunt
  • P.B. Bear's School Day
  • P.B. Bear's Christmas
All follow the same general plot. P.B. Bear’s Treasure Hunt has more puzzles with things to find. P.B. Bear’s School Day has a lot of arts and crafts related objects. Lee Davis wrote more P.B. Books, and there was also a short T.V. series.

Review: Pepper and Carrot




Review of Pepper & Carrot


        Pepper and Carrot by David Revoy is an open source webcomic which is also published as a series of comic books. Pepper is a student witch studying the magic of Chaosah under the tutorage of her three godmothers. They all live together in an idyllic cottage surrounded by a strange garden turned wacky by a profusion of conflicting and cast-off potions. Carrot is her loyal cat. He enjoys naps and has a tendency to get into things.

        The magic is a mix of potion and spell-casting, and both require a great deal of study from the library. Pepper’s magic seems to be based in a karma-directed chaos. Her friends have different sources for their magic. The world-building is excellent and remains remarkably consistent throughout. Revoy has taken a very creative artistic approach, so multiple magics mix, cities float, and a robot sits at the door to a medieval-style castle.



The drawings are truly a work of art. It’s very obvious that a lot of work has gone into each panel, as the landscapes are breathtaking, and the characters are very detailed. Revoy used digital art, and has paid exceptional attention to light and shadows. Pepper and Carrot live in a gorgeous fantasy world.

        I love it. It’s original and innovative, with outstanding art and a creative plot. Five of five stars. I will be reading this one again. There are currently 33 episodes, with more on the way.

        No gore. No one dies, except possibly some of the undead (if undead can die? Re-die?). I would recommend this for teenagers through adults.

5 stars!

Review: Mia and Nattie



Review of Mia and Nattie: 

One Great Team


        Mia and Nattie: One Great Team is a children’s picture book about a little girl and her lamb by Marlene M. Bell. When a little newborn sheep is abandoned in the barn, Mia brings her into her Grandmother’s house, and bottle feeds her. Eventually she grows big enough to live outside. Mia loves Nattie, and wants to keep her as a pet. Nattie is a very small sheep, too small to flock with the rest of the herd. She needs to find her a way to be useful so she can stay on the working farm with Mia.

        Mia and Nattie is an honest depiction of raising livestock, which is a little sad at times, although it all works out for the little sheep in a very nice way.

        The art is digital cartooning done in a two-dimensional style. Grace Sandford uses thick outlines, and pencil-thin lines for details and textures. There are lots of details in the scenes, there are wood swirls on the fences, and the fleece is fluffy. Lots of soft colors complement the natural colors of sheep’s wool. I liked all the drawings of the little lambs. They look very soft and friendly.

4 Stars!

Review: Merren and the Heron


Review of Merren and the Heron

        Merron and the Heron by Tony Dow is a delightful rhyming story about a trip to the zoo. The children set out to “photograph an animal that sounds just like your name!” The children set out to do just that, and meet an adorable array of animals cutely camouflaged into their environments.

        The art here is just, wow. Darya Shch uses a soft-edged digital art that blends bold colors into gentle pastels. It’s cartoon style, and the characters are shown naturally moving from multiple angles. The scenes have been set up very nicely, so the animals are right there, even though it’s clear they are in defined spaces. The heron is an exception to this, as you see Merron and the heron having a captivating adventure throughout the book, and their story moves in the background of the other children’s adventures. Every child in the book does have a turn seeing their zoo animals. It’s very entertaining, and definitely something I would reread. Five stars.

        Obligatory note: Merren and the Heron is a cute story, and the heron seems to be in on the fun. However, please be aware that wild birds may attack if they feel threatened or if you come too close to their nests.
5 stars!

*Disclosure: I was given a review copy of the e-book by the author.

Review: Feelu: Explore your feelings



Review of Feelu: Explore your feelings

        Feelu: Explore your feelings by Nilofar Shafiei is a children’s book on basic emotional expression and meditation. This is a nice introduction to teaching children how to define and communicate the emotions they are feeling. The meditations are suitable for young, school-aged children. Feelu is more of a supplement to therapy or an educational book, not an entertainment piece (although the illustrations are very engaging). Shafiei did a good job with the research, and Feelu does a good job covering age-appropriate grounding techniques and strategies. While it provides some basic advice for handling bullies, action should be taken if bullies are an issue for the child, as being bullied can cause problematic behaviors and poor health (Lin & Lin, 2017). For normal situations, Feelu is great.

        The art is cute. It’s done in a simplistic cartoon style, with nice bright colors that will appeal to children, and there are many different and interesting animals. Fazel has drawn a charming baby elephant who is the main character in the book, and is featured in a visual mood chart for identifying feelings. I really like the frog in particular, as he looks very happy.

        There is an app that goes along with the book, which I have not tried.

4 stars!

*Disclosure: I was given a review copy of the e-book by the author.

Review: Lleydrin


Review of Lleydrin

 
       Lleydrin by J.B. Moran is a fun sci-fi fantasy novel. On a dinosaur-infested planet, a city keeps the forest dangers at bay with a shield. Danger looms as the intergalactic company Devcorp begins a blockade to force Lleydrin’s ruling family to sell the planet. A ranger core banished to the jungle long ago now finds mercenaries hunting them. Luckily, the city has been quietly building its own space program, and now needs teen recruits to learn piloting from a space pirate marooned on Lleydrin. The rangers send a martial-arts-expert teen girl to infiltrate the program, and find out who controls the mercenaries.

        Pretty much all the most popular tropes in 21st century science fiction, but Lleydrin is well put together. Moran keeps a fast, entertaining pace throughout. It made me laugh. Lots of action, and multiple characters working at cross purposes.  Every chapter is strewn with action and adventure. Tactical research was used for space battles, so there are some nice dogfights.

        The characters are fairly standard action heroes and villains, cliched but consistent. Good stock character archetypes, and they interact well. They are not deep, but they are fun. Most of them are kind. Moran tends to dwell on the good in people, and a few characters are able to make positive changes in their lives. Lleydrin is a nice light engaging read. I didn’t want to put it down. 

        Clean language, minimal fantasy violence, focuses on friendships instead of romances. There is a set-up for a second book, but the Moran ends this one nicely and it feels complete. (I am looking forward to reading the next one, of course!)

Four stars!

*Disclosure: I was given a review copy of the e-book by the author.


Review: Melody Finch


Melody Finch cover

Review of Melody Finch


       In Melody Finch, by Ian Boyd and Gary Luck, an Australian girl named Melody Klomp turns into a finch. In bird form, she travels upriver, meeting a diverse range of Australian animals. Melody learns about a lot of different animals, and sees how they are struggling with drought. While the different creatures are the main focus of the book, there is also an interesting plot to keep it moving. Melody must reach her grandmother to tell her of the coming rains so she will not sell her tourist boat. There are villains: A fisherman with abysmally bad gun safety standards, and his carnivorous pet Osprey.

      Melody Finch is politically pro-environment, pro-animal rights, and anti-gun. Mild language.

      I enjoyed Melody Finch because there is such a variety of Australian wildlife shown in detail. Boyd and Luck include a lot of information on each animal, including what they eat, and details like the Rainbow Bee-Eaters build their nests in the riverbanks instead of in trees. It’s informative, and the story moves at a nice pace. Melody turns into a Diamond Firetail Finch, which is a very beautiful bird, and meets a Rainbow Bee-Eater, who is just gorgeous.

Four stars!

*Disclosure: I was given a review copy of the e-book by the author.

Diamond Firetail
Diamond Firetail. Image Credit:
Francesco Veronesi from Italy / CC BY-SA 


Rainbow Bee Eaters
Rainbow Bee-Eaters.
Aviceda / CC BY-SA 

Review: Celdric Kane: The Unwished



Review of Celdric Kane: The Unwished


        I really enjoyed reading this Celdric Kane: The Unwished, by Nina Mofme. In a magical world, the leaves of the magical Sphiere tree can grant magical wishes to deserving children. Celdric Kane and his brother, Dyl, witness the theft of the tree’s only seed. In their haste to escape the burglars, they cause a magical accident, and Dyl is flung into the realm of non-humans clutching the seed. It’s up to Celdric, his sister Sera, and their grandmother to bring Dyl back safely and solve the theft.

        The Unwished is really well-written. The magical system is very clearly defined, and presents a variety of different magical wishes and objects consistently. Celdric Kane’s family are supportive of each other, and go to great lengths to keep each other safe. Some of the magic is a bit convenient to the situation, but it’s always set up earlier in the book, so the magical gifts are not just flying out of nowhere.

        What is most impressive about this book is how there is almost always someone watching or protecting the children. There is danger and suspense, and Celdric gets in a mess of trouble, but it is a nice worry-free story, and the plot focuses on how they will evade the villains and save the Sphiere Tree seed. Excellent for the middle grade audience it is intended for. Plenty of action, monsters and fairies.

        This is book one, but is fairly self-contained, as Mofme wraps up most of the important plot points by the end of the book. However, it is very clear that the story continues. Only book one is out right now, and I am very eager to read book two.

        Needs proofreading, mostly use of plurals that should be singular and vice versa. It’s well worth rereading, and I really enjoyed this one, which puts it at five stars, minus half a point because it needs proofreading throughout, so four and a half stars. First time author, and proofreading is fixable.

4.5 stars!

*Disclosure: I was given a review copy of the ebook by the author.


Review: The Jolly Bupbup


Review of The Jolly Bupbup


        In a fantasy land inhabited by tea-drinking Twinkles, a small Bupbup lives in a cozy cottage with two cats. A Bupbup appears to be a small, cat-size humanoid. It is raining, and the rain washed away the Jolly Bupbup’s boat. She has to wait for the rain to stop so she can go find it, because she doesn’t have an umbrella, and the cats do not want to get their feet wet. While she is looking for her boat she meets a duck who likes to splash in puddles. It is an engaging story, with lots of charming descriptions.

        What makes The Jolly Bupbup by Ann P. Borrmann stand out is a unique incorporation of fantasy characters and poetry. Borrmann starts with an excellent poem about the Twinkles. I would reread this just for that poem. It is a delightful rhyme advising how to meet the reclusive, tea-drinking creatures. The Twinkles are never shown, but are described as shy but friendly beings. They are larger than Bupbups, but still small enough to hide behind trees. I like the choice not to show the Twinkles. I’m curious to know what they look like, but having an unknown fantasy creature pushes the reader’s imagination.

        Cute illustrations by Bonnie LeMarie. Good color choices. LeMarie used digital art, with soft color and texture choices that resemble watercolor. There are only nine illustrations, but they are full-page, and the story is printed opposite each picture. The duck in particular is very well-done, and looks delighted.

5 stars!

*Disclosure: I was given a review copy of the ebook by the author.