Children’s Review: Rosa and Moses

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In celebration of Black History Month here a few wonderful Children’s Books that will leave you and your children thinking about the past, the present and the future…

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni
Illustrated by Bryan Collier
Publisher:  Henry Holt and Co.
Published:  October 1st 2005
Hardcover, 40 pages
Reading Level: 4 and Up

 She had not sought this moment but she was ready for it. When the policeman bent down to ask “Auntie, are you going to move?” all the strength of all the people through all those many years joined in her. She said, “No.”

An inspiring account of an event that shaped American history

Fifty years after her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, city bus, Mrs. Rosa Parks is still one of the most important figures in the American civil rights movement. This picture- book tribute to Mrs. Parks is a celebration of her courageous action and the events that followed.

Award-winning poet, writer, and activist Nikki Giovanni’s evocative text combines with Bryan Collier’s striking cut-paper images to retell the story of this historic event from a wholly unique and original perspective.

With unique images and a story of bravery and strength, readers are treated to one of the most important women in history: Rosa Parks. Rosa’s Story is universally known, refusing to give up her seat on the bus. Little did Rosa Parks know she would go from being a seamstress to a timeless figure of history.  By standing up for what she believed in and what is right, Rosa finds strengths and courage, giving all those around her the same. 


Bryan Collier’s images are nothing like any other.  Using a patchwork style, there is something wholesome about each images, with rich colors and multidimensional effects.  For those looking to inspire children with courage and inner strength, this is a wonderful book to add to any collection.

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Moses by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Publisher:  Hyperion Books for Children
Published:  September 28th 2006
Hardcover, 48 pages
Reading Level: 4 and Up

This poetic book is a resounding tribute to Tubman’s strength, humility, and devotion. With proper reverence, Weatherford and Nelson do justice to the woman who, long ago, earned over and over the name Moses.

I don’t think I have ever come across a more gorgeous Children’s Book ever.  Not only are you given a rare gift from the amazing and talented Kadir Nelson, with his gorgeous pictures, but you become entranced with Carole Weatherford’s words.

Follow Harriet Tubman’s journey in escaping slavery.  Whether you are religious or not you find peace and comfort in the relationship presented between Harriet and God, in which she gains strength to continue her hard journey to freedom.  You are then taken on a journey with Tubman in her involvement with the Underground Railroad. 

As I’ve already said, Kadir Nelson helps make this book unique and special.  All you need to do is look at the cover to get a sample of what the rest of the book will give you: perfection through images.  As a huge fan of Kadir Nelson I cannot say anything wrong about his contribution to this book.  His images literally leave you speechless while finding you’ve lost quite a bit of time just starting at their beauty. 

While this book focuses on Harriet Tubman’s spiritual side, this is a perfect book for anyone to read to gain a better understanding and view of not just Tubman’s hardships but of all slaves of the time, giving you an even better understanding of perseverance and hope (something that is not restricted by the color of one’s skin). 

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Children’s Review: Mr. Badger and His Rose Petal Cake by Francesca Ariadne Harvey Lilley

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Mr. Badger and His Rose Petal Cake by Francesca Ariadne Harvey Lilley
Illustrated by John Watling
Publisher:  Chess Publications
Published:  April 4th 2011
Paperback, 24 pages
Reading Level: 4 and Up

 Mr. Badger and His Rose Petal Cake is a fast paced story featuring a busy badger who, whilst making a cake takes a bump to his head and imagines himself as a snail, pony, and lastly a frog. As the badger slithers, gallops and jumps through the countryside bewildered and confused, his friends try to help him, and bring him home to his set. (But can they rescue the badger? without waking the creature who sleeps, who must never be disturbed!) This beautifully illustrated book is a pleasure to read, with a exciting twist in the tail, and recipe for Rose Petal Cake at the end too.

Mr. Badger and His Rose Petal Cake is a fun adventurous book that any child would love. Mr. Badger lives in Dingley Dell, a place that is peaceful and quiet. That is, until one day Mr. Badger bumps his head and causes the peaceful balance to waver. After bumping his head Mr. Badger believes he is a snail, a horse and a frog. However, along the way the other residents of Dingley Dell help Mr. Badger return home to safety. Meanwhile, this wavering peaceful balance causes the towns’ monster to wake and stir until a faerie casts a spell to save the day.

Mr. Badger and His Rose Petal Cake almost has 3 plots going on at once: Mr. Badger is making a cake, getting help from his friends, and the towns’ monster awakes. For adults this is easy to understand; however, for children there might be too much going on at once for complete comprehension. However, readers are engaged by being asked questions and gorgeous drawings that are relateable to children as they look like crayon drawings.

There is even a nice surprise at the end – a recipe for for Rose Petal Cake, the same cake Mr. Badger makes!

Children’s Review: A Kiss Goodbye and Chester & The Big Bad Bully

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A Kiss Goodbye by Audrey Penn
Illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson
Publisher:  Tanglewood Press
Published:  April 15th 2007
Hardcover, 32 pages
Reading Level: 3 and Up
Source: NetGalley

Chester Raccoon, whom readers have come to know and love through The Kissing Hand and its sequel, A Pocket Full of Kisses, is facing antoher dilemma common to the lives of many children: he and his family are moving.

Chester has to move, and he is not happy about it at all… in fact he is distraught.  Not only does he have to move out of the home he loves he has to move away from all of his friends.  Mrs. Raccoon tries to sooth Chester’s sadness by telling him that he will make new friends and have new adventures at their new home.  Chester is not convinced but begrudgingly says to goodbye to him home.  At their new home Chester does indeed meet a new friend, a girl Raccoon….

Audrey Penn focuses on a topic that most children experience at least once in their lives: moving away from what they know, for many different reasons.  While moving is always hard, Audrey Penn shows that sometimes hard things are for the best (in this case Chester makes a new friend in the end and they have a home).  At the same time, Audrey Penn does a beautiful job in showing that even though in the end everything worked out, Chester’s feelings were still important.  A Kiss Goodbye is a great book for all children to read, as they find that their emotions are normal, important and that sometimes things do work out. 



Chester and the Big Bad Bully by Audrey Penn
Illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson
Publisher:  Scholastic
Published:  2009
Reading Level: 3 and Up
Source: NetGalley

How do you change a bully into a friend? Chester Raccoon learns how in this sweet addition to the Kissing Hand collection of books.

Chester and the Big Bad Bully is a wonderful book for all children to learn how to deal with bullies who may be picking on them. Because of a mean badger bully, Chester and his friends are afraid to play on the playground at school.  Mrs. Raccoon comes to the rescue with words of wisdom and advice for Chester and how to ‘deal’ with his bully.  Mrs. Raccoon does this in the way she does best: by telling a story.  Mrs. Raccoon compares the bully to a rough blue stone, with many rough edges, amongst many smooth yellow stones.  Because this stone was different it wasn’t desired like the other ones… that is until all of its’ rough edges were smoothed out.  After hearing this story Chester and his friends go back to school armed with courage and understanding.  Instead of being afraid, Chester invites the badger bully to play with them instead of alone.

While this is not the first book in the much loved Chester series, like the rest, Audrey Penn takes an issue that most children (and even adults) have (in this case bullying) and turns it into a life lesson that its’ readers can take with them.  Not only does Audrey Penn focus on bullying but she also presents another side of the conflict, one that is not usually understand until we are adults: people act out when they are different from others.  In this way Audrey Penn uses Mrs. Racoon’s story to show that while one might be different (blue with rough edges) after accepting these differences (smoothing out the rough edges) life is better (you get to play together), even though you are still different (the stone is still blue). 

One cannot forget Barbara L. Gibson’s wonderful illustrations that compliment Audrey Penn’s story perfectly.  Gibson gives you plenty to look at while making sure to not detract from the main point of the story on each page.  Another wonderful book to add to any children’s shelf. 

Children’s Review: Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport

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Martin’s Big Words: The Life & Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport
Illustrated by Byran Collier
Publisher:  Jump At The Sun
Published:  October 1st 2001
Hardcover, 40 pages
Reading Level: 5 and Up
Awards: Caldecott Honor, Coretta Scott King

Acclaimed author Doreen Rappaport and Coretta Scott King Award winner Bryan Collier, who previously collaborated on Freedom River, have pooled their talents yet again in a stunning tribute to civil rights activist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. An extraordinary picture-book biography, Martin’s Big Words consists of Rappaport’s own words interwoven with quotes from Dr. King…all powerfully brought to life by Collier’s striking, glorious art. 

Martin’s Big Words is a great introduction for children into Martin Luther King Jr.’s impact and mission.  Doreen Rappaport includes quotes directly from Martin Luther King Jr. throughout the book while Bryan Collier offers gorgeous images to look at, both working together to creating an affecting impact on its readers.

For those looking for more information about Martin Luther King Jr. this book would not be for you – this book is perfect as an introduction.  This aspect would really be the only aspect lacking.  I do which that more about Martin Luther King Jr. was given, but at the same time I can see how doing so would negate the purpose this book serves.  Either way this is a rare find, and having won many awards, a must to sit on your bookshelf.

Children’s Review: Sweet Land of Liberty by Callista Gingrich

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Sweet Land of Liberty by Callista Gingrich
Illustrated by Susan Acriero
Publisher:  Regnery Publishing
Published:  September 27th 2011
Hardcover, 28 pages
Reading Level: 4 and Up

GoodReads | Amazon

Many kids know the song, “My Country Tis of Thee,” but they probably don’t know why America is the sweet land of liberty. Enter author Callista Gingrich and illustrator Susan Aciero with their new children’s book, Sweet Land of Liberty. Featuring full color illustrations throughout and told through the eyes of Ellis the Elephant, Sweet Land of Liberty takes children on an entertaining and educational tour through American history, revealing exactly what makes our nation exceptional and unique. Beginning at Ellis Island, Ellis the Elephant travels back through time, partaking in the pivotal events that shaped our nation’s unique history and character. Along the way, Ellis meets historical figures such as the Pilgrims, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, and Martin Luther King, who teach Ellis why America is great. Ellis, and his young readers, learn why the Boston Tea Party was important, what the Constitution means, the value of hard work and innovation, and more. Sweet Land of Liberty will delight young and adult readers alike while explaining why America is the greatest country on earth.
Sweet Land of Liberty is about a curious Elephant named Ellis and his adventures in learning about America and it’s history and how it became free. To do this he goes to library and reads as many books about the key moments in America’s past that made it a free place to live today.

One thing about this book is how for every major event, Ellis is there himself, partaking in helping to shape America’s future. For me, at least, I see this as he is presently learning about America’s past to help with it’s future, thus he is partaking. This makes it perfect for children to see themselves having a part in shaping America’s future. 


Children’s Review: Llama Llama Holiday Drama & Aliens Love Panta Claus

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Llama Llama Holiday drama by Anna Dewdney
Publisher:  Viking Juvenile
Published: September 1st 2009
Hardcover, 40 pages
Reading Level: 4 and Up

GoodReads | Amazon

Llama Llama holidays.

Jingle music. Lights ablaze.

How long till that special date?

Llama Llama has to wait.

If there’s one thing Llama Llama doesn’t like, it’s waiting. He and Mama Llama rush around, shopping for presents, baking cookies, decorating the tree . . . but how long is it until Christmas? Will it ever come? Finally, Llama Llama just can’t wait any more! It takes a cuddle from Mama Llama to remind him that “Gifts are nice, but there’s another: The true gift is, we have each other.”

Like so many children, Llama Llama cannot wait for Christmas to come!  But there is still a lot that needs to be done before Christmas Day.  The stockings must be unpacked, the cookies must be baked, the shopping must be done – – there is much to do but no matter what the time doesn’t go by faster!!  Poor Llama Llama, so much HOLIDRAMA! Then he learns that while all of it is a great gift, the best gift is the gift of relationship. 

Anna Dewdney rhyming sentences makes this book come alive with the spirit of the Holiday.  You can feel Llama Llama’s uneasiness and eagerness for the Holiday through her words and rhyming.  This is perfect book to read with your children, especially those that may be caught up in the busyness of the Holiday and even for children who may forget that family and friends is what makes the Holidays what they are.  This is even perfect for adults to read.  A book every collection should have.


Aliens Love Panta Claus by Claire Freedman & Ben Cort
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
Published: October 1st 2010
Hardcover, 32 pages
Reading Level: 4 and Up

The aliens are excited, As tomorrow’s Christmas day, So instead of stealing underpants, They’re giving then away! Yes, it’s true! Everyone’s favourite aliens are full of the festive spirit and so they are giving away their beloved underpants – shock, horror! Join them as they help out in Santa’s busy workshop, put neon pants on Rudolph and tie knickers up in the place of stockings. But remember to hold on to your pants – this special pants giveaway is for one day only. Ho-ho-ho! Merry Christmas!

What a fun book!  Continuing within the Aliens Love Underpants, Claire Freedman & Ben Cort have created a fun and joyful Christmas book, great for any child.  In spirit with the Christmas Holiday and what is means, the Aliens give underpants away instead of stealing in.  They even put underpants in Santa Clause’s toy bag!  


With fun and witty rhymes, the Aliens have created another unforgettable story for all children.  I love the images and paintings.  Each Alien is different from each other, done so in bright and mischievous colors.  You find yourself smiling and laughing at all their antics!  A must addition for every Children’s Books collection.  A perfect light-hearted read for the Holidays.

Children’s Review: The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson

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The Christmas Magic by Lauren Thompson
Illustrated by Jon J. Muth
Publisher:  Scholastic Press
Published: September 1st 2009
Hardcover, 40 pages
Reading Level: 4 and Up

 Far, far North, when the nights are longest and the stars shine brightest, Santa begins to prepare for his big night of giving. He gathers his reindeer, feeds them parsnips and berries, and polishes his bells and his sled. Then lovingly, he chooses toys for every child in the world. For Santa loves them all, and he knows what each child at heart wants most. Then, with the thrum of magic that makes reindeers fly, he spreads the Christmas joy and warmth throughout the world–as he always has — and always will until the end of time.
Lauren Thompson is known for her uncanny ability to reach the hearts and minds of the youngest readers.
Jon J Muth’s luminescent watercolor strike all the perfect chords in this warm, reassuring Christmas story.

Santa Clause patiently awaits for the Christmas Magic to arrive. From the moment he feels a little tingle in his whiskers, he prepares. Santa Clause cleans his red sleigh until it shines, brushes and feeds his reindeer, checks on the toys and finds joy in reading all the names of the boys and girls, knowing what each one wants the most for Christmas.  And of course, Santa Clause fills his bag with all the toys, until he can barely close it.

Jon Muth’s watercolor images are absolutely gorgeous, and one could spend hours just staring at them.  Muth’s watercolors convey the love and excitement that Santa Clause has for Christmas and every little detail it takes to make it a joyful day for all the little kids.  You can even feel the love his loyal reindeer have for him, following him dutifully.  With a country twist (a red barn, country stars), Santa Clause may seem to be alone in his preparations, but Muth’s images and Thompson’s writing makes him anything but a lone character, touching every hear that reads this book, spreading the Christmas spirit. 

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