Bergers Book Reviews

Howard B. Wigglebottom Blends in Like Chameleons

Howard B. Wigglebottom Blends in Like Chameleons
Author: Howard Binkow
Illustrator: Susan F. Cornelison
Publisher: Thunderbolt Publishing
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-9826165-5-0
Pages: 32
Price: $15.00

Author’s website
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When Joey joins Howard’s class, the peaceful atmosphere is suddenly disrupted. Joey does things differently, not sitting still, sharing, or waiting his turn. And when Joey brings chameleons to school and they get loose, Howard feels bad for Joey and tries to help him.

Joey doesn’t know how to fit in, since he doesn’t have good social skills. Howard is patient with him, as they both decide that it would be good if Joey learned from the chameleons to blend in with others. By the end of the school year, Joey is no longer a social outcast.

Howard B. Wigglebottom Blends in Like Chameleons teaches kids the importance of following social cues, in an effort to fit into groups. However, as the last picture suggests, maintaining one’s unique personality is still encouraged, and kids aren’t told to conform to the point they lose themselves in the group. A discussion guide is also provided for further classroom conversation.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 26, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

The Buccaneering Book of Pirates

The Buccaneering Book of Pirates
Author: Saviour Pirotta
Illustrator: Mark Robertson
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4549-0414-4
Pages: 24
Price: $19.95

Author’s website
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Ahoy, mates, and welcome to The Buccanneering Book of Pirates! In this children’s book, six illustrated pirate stories are accompanied by a sturdy, life-size 3-D pirate poster, suitable for hanging in a landlubber’s bedroom. [Warning: Open at your peril.] Important pirate facts are also included on the poster.

Kids who are interested in pirate lore will love this fun and unique package.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 25, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Death in the Dolomites

Death in the Dolomites
Author: David P. Wagner
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0270-4
Pages: 236
Price: $24.95

Author’s website
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Rick Montoya is all set to enjoy a week off from his translation business, skiing with his old college chum. But when Luca Albani requests Rick’s assistance investigating the disappearance of an American businessman, Rick immediately agrees. Albani is looking for more than translation help, and Rick finds himself tagging along to visit everyone Albani plans to interrogate. The case quickly turns to murder, when the body is discovered.

Each meeting reveals additional information about the suspect’s and victim’s lives, and Albani and Rick find themselves more and more puzzled. The choice of murder weapon suggests the purpose of the man’s last actions, but who was he with, and why? Someone thinks Rick is getting too close to the truth – will time run out before he can find out who that is?

Death in the Dolomites is the sequel to Cold Tuscan Stone in the Rick Montoya mystery series. Like the first book, this one is also heavy on the Italian ambiance, and fine wines and delicious food are liberally sprinkled throughout the story. The author plays fair with the reader, and all clues are revealed before the final showdown. Another delightful reading – and vicarious dining – experience. I highly recommend this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 23, 2014 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Phantom Limb

Phantom Limb
Author: Dennis Palumbo
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0254-4
Pages: 336
Price: $24.95

Author’s website
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Lisa Harland, the wife of one of Pittsburgh’s richest tycoons, shows up at Daniel Rinaldi’s office, intending to commit suicide by 7:00 that evening. But Rinaldi doesn’t anticipate Lisa being kidnapped right from under his nose as she’s leaving his office. Her husband immediately summons the FBI and police, and Rinaldi is included as the last one to see her before she was snatched.

But the kidnappers are playing hardball with the authorities, and the violence escalates. Money is their primary aim, but Rinaldi senses they may also be looking for some kind of revenge. And until he understands what motivates them, no one is safe.

Phantom Limb is a fast-paced mystery-thriller, in the same mold as the previous Daniel Rinaldi mysteries. Rinaldi and the supporting characters are well-developed for a mystery, and the intricate plot made this a book I couldn’t put down. I highly recommend this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 16, 2014 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Clucky and the Magic Kettle

Clucky and the Magic Kettle
Author: Mar Pavón
Illustrator: Mónica Carretero
Publisher: Cuento de Luz
Genre: Children
ISBN: 9788415619444
Pages: 30
Price: $15.95

Buy it at Amazon

Clucky, the mother hen, takes her three chicks to school every day. But, while learning to read and write, the chicks hear ugly things about themselves and others. As they bring these words home to repeat to Clucky, she reminds them to get that nonsense out of their heads.

After a while, Clucky uses a bit of her magic to create a bubbling brew full of the mean and nasty things others have said. Then she recycles it, turning it into love, support and gratitude instead.

Kids face harsh criticism and gossip every day at school, and it’s important for them to realize they don’t have to believe everything they hear or participate in those conversations. Clucky and the Magic Kettle shows kids that they can transform the ugly into the beautiful, making life more enjoyable for everyone.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 15, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Bitopia

Bitopia
Title: Bitopia
Author: Ari Magnusson
Publisher: Olivander Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-9848610-5-7
Pages: 240
Price: $9.99

Author’s website
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Stewart is on the run from a gang of bullies when he discovers an open manhole. Scrambling inside, he’s safe, for the moment. But when he finally escapes out the other side, he finds himself in a whole new world – a world of children hiding in a walled city to keep themselves safe from the Venators.

One child – the Princeps – holds the key to the city in a book called the Comlat. Inside, she claims, is a prophecy about the city’s Forebears who were defeated after three battles with the Venators. But Stewart doesn’t believe in prophecies, and he thinks the Forebears went home after defeating the Venators. A daring attempt to discover the truth leads to his expulsion from the city, and an unexpected chance to prove his theory correct.

What Stewart discovers is the key to understanding and defeating the powers these bullies have over the children. Once he knows what they need to do, the Venators have no power over the city, and everyone is finally free.

Understanding Bullying
Title: Understanding Bullying and Ways to Make It Stop!
Author: Ari Magnusson
Publisher: Olivander Press
Genre: Teacher guide
ISBN: 978-0984861095
Pages: 126
Price: $14.99

Buy it at Amazon

This accompanying discussion guide is meant to be used with Bitopia in schools. They are designed to empower children to understand what bullies are doing to them, and how to handle bullying situations by themselves, without relying on adult interference. While the guide suggests kids may want to ask an adult for help, it discourages adults from stepping in without being asked.

Bullying occurs at all ages, not just in childhood, and teaching kids to rely solely on adult intervention makes them powerless to deal with bullying later in life. By providing them with the tools to deal with the problem on their own, they will be able to handle it any time it happens, without waiting to be rescued.

I highly recommend Bitopia and Understanding Bullying and Ways to Make It Stop! for classroom use.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 11, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Adventures with Buster

Adventures with Buster
Author: London Lake Pickett
Illustrator: Lynda Farrington Wilson
Publisher: Self
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-615-70668-9
Pages: 35
Price: $14.95

Author’s website
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Buster is a service dog who helps guide the author, who is nearly blind. In Adventures with Buster, kids learn about how service dogs are trained and how they help the people they serve.

We meet Buster in Florida, where Pickett and he spend several weeks getting used to each other. Then it’s time for him to come home to North Carolina and an unexpected snowfall. And soon after, they take a trip to Arizona together. Travel by plane doesn’t upset Buster one bit, and he takes good care of Pickett. But along the way, she is surprised by some of Buster’s adventures.

In Adventures with Buster kids will be treated to a glimpse of life with a service dog and join in the fun of his adventures. This is a nice read for all ages.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 10, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

ABC’s / ABC is for Circus

ABC's
Author & Illustrator: Charley Harper
Publisher: AMMO Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-162326003-3
Pages: 62
Price: $16.95

Buy it at Amazon

Charley Harper is known for seeing nature in a different way, drawing animals with geometric shapes and lines to create fanciful images. In ABC’s, kids will see these unique and unusual pictures representing each of the letters of the alphabet.

ABC is for Circus
Author & Illustrator: Patrick Hruby
Publisher: AMMO Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-162326006-4
Pages: 56
Price: $16.95

Buy it at Amazon

The circus is colorful, and so are these ABC’s. Geometric shapes in vibrant hues contrast with black and white, representing many of the things kids would see at the circus, as they spell out the alphabet.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 8, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

My First Baking Book / My First Juices & Smoothies

My First Baking Book
Author: Becky Johnson
Publisher: Hamlyn
Genre: Children / Cooking
ISBN: 978-0-600-62966-5
Pages: 128
Price: $9.99

Buy it at Amazon

Baking is so enjoyable, especially when putting silly faces and sprinkles on cupcakes and cookies. Created to be a hands-on experience, these recipes allow kids to have fun in the kitchen. Parental guidance and assistance is essential, since recipes may contain many ingredients or have hard preparation steps.

My First Juices and Smoothies
Author: Amanda Cross
Publisher: Hamlyn
Genre: Children / Cooking
ISBN: 978-0-600-62967-2
Pages: 128
Price: $9.99

Buy it at Amazon

Yummy recipes for juices consisting of: all fruits; fruits & vegetables; and fruits, veggies and dairy/non-dairy milk or yogurt to make smoothies. This book is designed to get kids to eat more fruits and veggies in a way that tastes great and is easy to consume.

Snapshots of the drinks and snacks, as well as the kids enjoying them, accompany the recipes in these vibrant and colorful books.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 5, 2014 Posted by | children, cooking | Leave a comment

That Night

That Night
Author & Illustrator: S.E. Flynn
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-43896-699-1
Pages: 24
Price: $11.95

Buy it at AuthorHouse
Buy it at Amazon

That night, up on the roof, one old calico cat spotted three furry heads poking out of the chimney, and three wet noses sniffing the sweet midnight air. As they creep through the neighborhood, intent on mischief and fun, only the calico cat sees their antics.

That Night shares the adventures of three nocturnal animals as they play hide and seek, romp in the playground, and chase grasshoppers. Adorable watercolor illustrations show them in partial silhouette, adding to the enjoyment of the story, as children can try to guess what they are. They are are finally revealed to be raccoons at the end.

Any child who has wondered what goes on at night will smile at the antics of these cute critters. And maybe they will even dream of a nighttime adventure of their own. That Night would be a wonderful addition to any child’s book collection.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 4, 2014 Posted by | animals, children | Leave a comment

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