Bergers Book Reviews

Viku and the Ivory Thieves

Viku and the Ivory Thieves
Author: Debu Majumdar
Illustrator: Lynn Wolfe
Publisher: Bo-Tree House
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-9832227-3-6
Pages: 52
Price: $12.99

Author’s website
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In this sequel to Viku and the Elephant and Viku to the Rescue, Viku and his elephant friend, Haatee, are back again to protect the forest. Although two of the ivory thieves have been stranded on an island surrounded by crocodiles, some are still on the loose. With the help of the police, all of the poachers are rounded up and sent to prison.

But the dangers to the elephants and the forest continue, and Viku and the police must step up their efforts to protect them. When an evil scheme is uncovered, Viku and Haatee help to thwart it. One of the ivory thieves has now completely reformed and assists them in their efforts.

The forces of good and evil are portrayed very strongly in this series, with good always triumphing over evil. And in Viku and the Ivory Thieves, evil is even transformed to goodness. Kids will cheer for Viku and Haatee, wanting to see them succeed in stopping the thieves once again. I highly recommend this series for the positive values demonstrated.

Debu Majumdar shared his thoughts with us in an interview. Please be sure to read what he has to say!

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 16, 2014 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Blue and Other Stories

Blue and Other Stories

Author: Suniti Namjoshi
Illustrator: Nilima Sheikh
Publisher: Spinifex
Genre: Children / Fables
ISBN: 174219839-2
Pages: 36
Price: $24.95

Available at:
http://spinifexpress.com.au/Bookstore/book/id=239/ (US & Canada)
http://www.ipgbook.com/ (US & Canada)
http://www.gazellebookservices.co.uk/ (UK)
http://www.gardners.com/ (UK)
http://www.wheelers.co.nz/ (New Zealand)

Suniti Namjoshi is internationally acclaimed as a poet, and Nilima Sheikh’s paintings hang in galleries all over the world. These two talented artists combine their skills to bring us Blue and Other Stories, a collection of myths and fables.

Five short stories are included in this book. “The Unloved Queen” tells the tale of a girl named Suniti questioning how she received her name. “Blue” shares her love of the color blue and the reactions of those around her to this obsession. “Kingfisher” is a tale of a smart bird and his quirky answers to those seeking his wisdom. “Frog Life” shows us vanity at its highest. And “Bird Woman” presents a girl’s unusual problem and her parents’ creative solution.

These interesting and unique stories are colorfully illustrated to complement the text. Blue and Other Stories is a beautiful work of art, both in words and pictures.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Mud and Rainbows

Howard B Wigglebottom Learns About Mud and Rainbows
Author: Howard Binkow
Illustrator: Susan F. Cornelison
Publisher: Thunderbolt Publishing
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-9715390-5-1
Pages: 32
Price: $15.00

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Howard B. Wigglebottom likes to fix things. So when his friend, Ali, is sad, he wants to fix her problems. But he learns from his mom that some things simply can’t be fixed.

Ali’s problem is that her parents are fighting and she is upset. But in this book, Ali never actually says this. We learn it from Howard’s mom when she explains why he can’t do anything about it. And when Howard finally does try to talk to Ali, he immediately falls in the mud and starts splashing around.

Kids certainly are not at fault when their parents are fighting, but that message doesn’t come across very clearly in Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns About Mud and Rainbows. I would have preferred to see Ali actually tell Howard some of the specifics about her problems, and Howard to respond with careful consideration, rather than simply talking to his mom and declaring, “It’s not your fault.” The discussion section at the end of the book might be helpful to fully explain the concepts in this story, and adult explanations will most likely be necessary.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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

Birds & Words

Birds & Words
Author & Illustrator: Charles Harper
Publisher: AMMO Books
Genre: Art / Nature
ISBN: 978-162326016-3
Pages: 152
Price: $34.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Charley Harper liked to say, “I could never get close enough to count the feathers in the wings, so I just count the wings.” His colorful bird illustrations are shown in minimal realism that hints more than it shows in this reprint of the 1974 classic.

Long feather tendrils grace a snowy egret’s head and back. Barn swallows are long and elegant, with sharply pointed wings. The cardinal is a study in bright red with a sharply pronounced black bib. A flock of starlings is a blur of black, green and purple with white spots.

Along with these and other bird illustrations, Harper provides his own unique commentary about each species. Although this is no carefully detailed Audubon book, Birds & Words will make any bird lover smile at these lovely creations.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

April 4, 2014 Posted by | art, nature | Leave a comment

The Oldest Bedtime Story Ever (Bible Beautiful)

The Oldest Bedtime Story Ever
Author & Illustrator: Benjamin Morse
Publisher: Orson & Co.
Genre: Jewish / Christian (Bible Old Testament)
ISBN: 978-0-9858135-0-5
Pages: 77
Price: $30.00

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Reading the Old Testament from start to finish is a monumental undertaking which few kids would ever consider. But The Oldest Bedtime Story Ever presents much of the story in an abbreviated and fun read.

Using paper cutout images, author Benjamin Morse crafts a unique book that highlights many of the more interesting Biblical stories. Beginning with Adam and Eve, Noah, and the patriarchs in Genesis, he takes us through the Exodus, the time of the judges, the Davidic and divided kingdoms, the exile, and the return from exile. Other important figures like Esther, Jonah, Samson, and Ruth are also featured.

This unique book is told with lightness and humor. For example, in the story of Adam and Eve, Morse states, “Life was so perfect and free of any troubles, they hardly knew what to do with themselves.” These brief commentaries made me chuckle, but also think more deeply about the scenes presented. Since no vignette is fully developed, this book might also encourage youngsters to delve into the actual Bible story for a better understanding of what happened.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but I was pleasantly surprised at its substance and accuracy. Anyone (not just kids!) who wants a nice overview of Bible history would do well to pick up a copy of The Oldest Bedtime Story Ever. It’s not only an enjoyable read, but also a great study book, since all scripture references are listed in the appendix. For those with hand-held devices, there is also an app available.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

March 28, 2014 Posted by | Christian, Jewish | Leave a comment

Cake

Cake
Author: Joyce Magnin
Publisher: Zonderkidz
Genre: Middle-grade / Christian
ISBN: 978-0310733331
Pages: 224
Price: $14.99
Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Wilma Sue has been shuffled around the foster care system ever since she was born, spending time with various families and at the Daylily Home for Children. Now that her most recent home is no longer available, she finds herself staying with Ruth and Naomi, two missionaries who have recently returned from Africa.

If she expected a hum-drum life at Gray House, as she calls it, Wilma Sue is very mistaken. She’s expected to take care of the chickens, be nice to Penny Pigsworthy, and attend church with Ruth and Naomi. And she also helps Naomi bake cakes – those mysterious cakes that do unusual things to the recipients. Wilma Sue is determined to learn the secret ingredient. Will she ever find out?

In Cake, kids are gently reminded of how important it is to love and forgive others. This cute story will enchant middle-grade readers with love, chickens and a taste of peculiar.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

March 24, 2014 Posted by | children, Christian, tween | Leave a comment

God’s Little Princess Bedtime Devotional

God's Little Princess Bedtime Devotional
Author: Sheila Walsh
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Children / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4003-2293-0
Pages: 224
Price: $14.99

Buy it at Amazon

After a long day of school, friends, chores and play, a little girl needs to curl up in bed and be reminded of God’s love for her. Sharing God’s Little Princess Bedtime Devotional with mom or dad is the perfect ending to her busy day.

Topics like doing good for others, being obedient, being kind, and sharing God’s love, as well as many others are covered in each two-page devotional message. Bible verses in simple language introduce the topic, followed by a short message and a fun night-time activity, and then a closing prayer.

It’s hard growing up, and a girl needs a constant reminder that she is a child of God – our King’s little princess. This cute devotional book gives her a daily reminder that how she lives her life matters, and that she should always strive to act in a way that pleases God. I highly recommend God’s Little Princess Bedtime Devotional.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

March 21, 2014 Posted by | children, Christian | Leave a comment

The Donkey That No One Could Ride

The Donkey That No One Could Ride
Author: Anthony DeStefano
Illustrator: Richard Cowdrey
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
Genre: Children / Christian
ISBN: 978-0-7369-4851-7
Pages:32
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

A young donkey is weak and small, and no one is able to ride him. His owner gets frustrated at his uselessness, and ties him up on the edge of town. Then two men arrive and untie him, bringing him with them away from town. Worried and scared, he follows reluctantly.

The donkey has no idea that he has been chosen for a mighty purpose, and that Jesus intends to heal him first. Filled with renewed energy from the miracle he has received, the donkey proudly carries Jesus into Jerusalem.

The Donkey That No One Could Ride is a dramatized fictional tale told in rhyming verse from the donkey’s perspective. Kids will recall the events of Palm Sunday as they cheer for this poor outcast donkey. This book would make a great addition to any child’s Easter book collection.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

March 19, 2014 Posted by | children, Christian | Leave a comment

The Summer of Letting Go

The Summer of Letting Go
Author: Gae Polisner
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Teen
ISBN: 978-1-61620-256-9
Pages: 320
Price: $16.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Francesca “Frankie” Schnell has been living in guilt for the last four years, since her brother, Simon, drowned. After all, her parents had asked her to watch him, and it was all her fault. Her family life has gone from bad to worse, and she wonders if they will ever let go of the past.

Now her mother is withdrawn, consumed with the anti-drowning foundation she’s created, and her father is spending too much time with the woman next door. And to make matters even more miserable, her best friend is dating her dream guy. How will she ever get through the summer?

A chance encounter with the Schyler family introduces her to Frankie Sky, a little boy whose uncanny resemblance to Simon seems like no coincidence. Can Frankie Sky help her heal her past and finally let go?

Frankie is a very courageous and strong girl, determined to move through her painful past and find peace. No longer content with the status quo, she does what she needs to do to finally heal. The reader will really relate to Frankie’s feelings and cheer for her to find happiness. I highly recommend The Summer of Letting Go.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

March 18, 2014 Posted by | teen | Leave a comment

Leave Tomorrow Behind (A Stella Crown Mystery: Book 6)

Leave Tomorrow Behind
Author: Judy Clemens
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0202-5
Pages: 250
Price: $24.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Stella Crown is busy avoiding her future sister-in-law’s wedding planning schemes when she visits the county fair. She has more interest in the cows than the up and coming local country singer she pulls out of a pile of manure. But since she’s the one who discovered Rikki’s body, she suddenly finds herself in the middle of the investigation, if only to clear her name.

Her best friend, the veterinarian covering the fair, is now a suspect, due to some misplaced logic by the local police, and Stella is worried about someone deliberately hurting the cows. A cheater is attempting to buy himself a prize, and a teenage girl has had enough cosmetic surgery to look more like a clown than the future Lovely Miss Pennsylvania. Are all these unusual facts somehow related to Rikki’s death?

Although I have not read the first five books in this series, I very happily and easily immersed myself in this story and these characters’ lives. However, Leave Tomorrow Behind is so good, I intend to read the earlier books as soon as possible. I highly recommend this enjoyable mystery.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

March 14, 2014 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

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