Review: If I had a Gryphon, by Vikki VanSickle and Cale Atkinson

Sam has a hamster – a typical first pet for any child. Unfortunately Sam is a bit disillusioned with this pet and has grand dreams of something… more. Something more exciting. Something like.. a dragon! Except they would be a lot of work, always lighting things on fire, wouldn’t they.

Sam goes through a whole list of mythical creatures that may be perfect for a pet, but finds a fault with them all and in the end decides that the hamster is perfect.

This book is fantastic for parents to read to their children. It teaches them about creatures that they wouldn’t usually hear about, animals that are not your typical pet. The ending resonated particularly well with me, as Sam decides that the hamster is the perfect pet even after going through the list of mythical ones. A good lesson in the grass is always greener on the other side. I think geek parents would be particularly enthralled with this book, and highly recommend it. My version was in black and white on my e-reader, but I enjoyed the images for what they were. They’re not especially high quality, but I feel that the book doesn’t need it, the story really does speak for itself.

5/5 stars

 

The Pirate’s Bed – by Nocola Winstanley

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I won a copy of this book from a blog contest that was hosted a few months back, and I’ve been horrible about posting it, I know. After reading the Children’s hockey book I had high hopes that unfortunately fell flat where this story was concerned.

First thing that came to mind is that this book is way too advanced for the age group. I get that it’s important for kids to learn and they should be expanding their vocabulary, but for a picture book bed time story it just went too far over the top. Words like raucous. Unencumbered. Sensible. Words that I don’t even want to read at 34 before I go to bed let alone read to a small child (and then of course have to explain what those words mean to the child). The pictures were alright, and the story was OK but it all felt quite overshadowed by the vocabulary.

The story is about the bed and how it gets separated from the pirate. The bed complains about stinky pirate feet, but by the end all it wants is those smelly feet back. Eventually the bed washes ashore and gets restored and presented to a young pirate loving boy. It is a short sweet tale with a happy ending. The artwork wasn’t really my style but it was bright and colourful which should appeal to a good selection of readers even if it wasn’t for me.

3/5 stars

 

Review: The Highest Number in the World

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This book was provided to me free of charge from TundraBooks in exchange for an honest review.

I signed up to review children’s books a while ago, but this is the first time I was actually selected. I was very excited. I love books for all ages, and reading out of my ‘usual’ age group lets me learn about what others are reading and also helps me promote books to friends and family with children in that age group. Reading is reading, after all.

This book is beautiful, and resonated with me as a Canadian and of course a lover of hockey. Not just one Canadian team either, there are references throughout the book to many Canadian hockey teams and players. Hockey is something we should be proud of, and something we should learn about. I feel that this book opened up some great discussion topics about the sport in general, while also touching on some more serious topics.

Gabe (Gabriella) Murray is a young 9 year old girl, and she loves hockey. All of her life she has wanted to be just like her hero, Hayley Wickenheiser. That’s where the interest starts. Haley Wickenheiser isn’t just a made up character, she’s a real person, the first woman to play full-time professional hockey in a position other than goalie. She wears the number 22. Gabe ends up getting a different number, and she isn’t too pleased by that. She wants to quit and give up – but her grandmother comes along and shows Gabe all of the wonderful things about being the number 9, and explains the significance of numbers that have been retired.

The entire book is a lovely learning experience wrapped inside of a happy story about a young girl. The illustrations were detailed but not overpowering, I loved spending time on each page to make sure that I saw everything.

Perfect for children ages 6-10 (boy or girl), this book is a must-read for any fan of hockey or potential future fan.

4/5 stars

Review: Fire and Ice (Warriors #2) by Erin Hunter

275000Book two in the Warriors series, I actually finished reading this back in October and then forgot to write a review, dang it. We find ourselves back with Fireheart and his clan, Fireheart being promoted to warrior status. His first task (along with Graystripe) is to bring back WindClan, who have gone missing. They find them under a highway interchange, and bring them home, finding out the story of what happened along the way.

Fireheart also earns himself his first apprentice, Cinderpaw. An accident happens, and she is hurt – but readers quickly find out that this was no accident at all. Tigerclaw is anxious to become leader, and he’ll stop at nothing to get his way. Throughout the story, Fireheart also meets up with his sister, Princess, a kittypet who lives in a home not too far away from the forest. She has a batch of kits and she gives her oldest to Fireheart, hoping that the kit can become a brave warrior like he is.

The entire book is about being proud of where you come from, and accomplishing your goals no matter who you are or your background. Fireheart isn’t the most liked of cats due to the fact that he was once a kittypet, and he constantly has to prove himself to others, over and over. When he brings in Princess’ kit, the cycle begins again. Even though this is a book aimed at children ages 8-12, I enjoyed the easy read, and the morals contained within are important for everyone, no matter your age. I liked this book better than the first one to the series, and made plans to continue on with book three.

4/5 star review

 

Into the Wild – By Erin Hunter

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I’m not sure what enticed me to start reading this series. A few friends had been reading them with their kids, or their kids were interested with them. I think that combined with a great sale Amazon was having finally spurred me into action. Despite the fact that these books are written for kids around 8-10 years old, they deal with some tough subjects, and were a pleasant read.

There are four clans of cats that live side by side (separated by boundaries) in the forest. Close to these clans lives Rusty, a kittypet, owned by humans. One day he runs into the ThunderClan cats, and they invite him to join up – if he can prove himself a warrior. He has to overcome trials and tribulations while the clans are also overcoming trials and tribulations. He’s trained as a warrior, has to handle death, being made fun of for being a kittypet, and making new friends.

The book isn’t overly complex, but I did like the attention to detail that the author provides when describing life as a ThunderClan member. It’s easy to follow along, and because of the way the books are written you tend to forget that this is a clan of cats until something like grooming happens. I enjoyed the book enough to continue on with the series, and just recently learned that the name ‘Erin Hunter’ is a pseudonym for four people who are writing the novels together.

One thing that bothered me was that every single character in the book has a compound name. Lionheart, Bluestar, Tigerclaw.. you get the point. It made it difficult to figure out who was who and at the beginning all of the names just blurred together. Others have mentioned that the cats don’t actually behave anything like cats, but behave more like dogs (with bonding together, courage, etc) which I can agree with but I don’t think of these as actual cats living out in the woods, more like magical creatures on some alternate universe who are similar to what we perceive as cats. If you suspend some of that reality, it really is a pleasant read.

3/5 stars