Bergers Book Reviews

Knit, Hook and Spin

Knit, Hook and Spin
Author: Laurie Carlson
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Genre: Crafts
ISBN: 978-1-61373-400-1
Pages: 144
Price: $14.99

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Fiber crafts are a fun way to use our hands to create pretty and useful objects. In Knit, Hook and Spin, author Laurie Carlson walks kids through the process of crafting several interesting projects using yarn and fabric.

Yarn crafts begin with spinning and dying, and kids are taught how to manufacture their own yarn. Felting, knotting and braiding, weaving, knitting, and crochet are introduced, with a brief description of each process. Within each section, a few fun projects are presented, so kids can turn these new techniques into hand-made objects.

Although this book is meant for kids, I felt the desire to create some of these cute items, myself. But I found the directions and pictures accompanying the projects to be skimpy and vague. While Knit, Hook and Spin may give kids the interest in exploring new fiber crafts, they may need to turn to more detailed instructions to master these intricate techniques.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 26, 2016 Posted by | art, crafts, creativity | Leave a comment

Unleashed

Unleashed
Author: Eileen Brady
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Genre: Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4642-0394-7
Pages: 255
Price: $26.95

Author’s website
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Dr. Kate Turner is surprised that Claire Birnham would commit suicide. Her beloved dog, Toto, is at the vet’s office, and Kate can’t believe she’d just abandon him. As Kate speaks to those who knew Claire well, she finds that she’s not the only one who has their doubts. Even though her friend, Luke Gianetti, a police officer, tells her to let the police handle the case, she can’t stop herself from interfering.

The case takes an unexpected turn for the worst when one of her staff is accused of murder. Now Kate is even more determined to clear him, and prove that Claire didn’t kill herself. But will the real murderer be forced to try to stop her?

As a cozy mystery, Unleashed takes liberties with civilian investigations. Kate pushes the limits of friendly discussions regarding Claire’s mysterious death, and these are simply accepted as normal. But the final conclusion was a bit obscure for my tastes, as there appears to be no real motive until the very end. Animal lovers will enjoy this latest installment in the Kate Turner, DVM mystery series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 24, 2016 Posted by | mystery | Leave a comment

Pug

Pug
Author & Illustrator: Ethan Long
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Children / Dogs
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3688-0
Pages: 24
Price: $6.99

Author’s website
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Pug sees Peg, and he wants to go out NOW! But no one is paying any attention. Finally he threatens Tad by lifting his leg, and Tad quickly responds to Pug’s wishes. Now Pug is glad, since Pug once again sees Peg.

Pug is a darling I Like to Read book that both parents and children can enjoy. Young children may not notice the subtle humor behind the leg lifting, who Peg really is, and the way both pug owners (and their dogs) secretly glance at each other at the end. But they will love Pug and fully understand that Pug needs to go out. Ethan Long is a talented author and illustrator with a great sense of humor, and he’s crafted another winner. Kids will love Pug.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 22, 2016 Posted by | animals, children, dogs | Leave a comment

Howard B. Wigglebottom Listens to a Friend

Howard B Wigglebottom Listens to a Friend
Author: Howard Binkow
Illustrator: David Cutting
Publisher: Thunderbolt Publishing
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-9910777-4-8
Pages: 32
Price: $15.00

Author’s website
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Kiki is in a very bad mood and it shows. She’s acting out toward all her friends. Howard wonders why, and finds out her puppy has died. As he and his friends brainstorm ideas to help Kiki feel better, Howard suggests they ask Kiki herself. Good thing they do, because Kiki wants someone no one has suggested.

When something breaks, stop working, or dies, children can get very sad or mad. They are troubled by this pent-up negative energy and may begin to act out. Other children don’t always understand the grieving process and may get unnecessarily angry at the child who is suffering. Howard B. Wigglebottom Listens to a Friend explores some of the emotions involved in grieving and gives good advice on how to be a kind and understanding friend. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 19, 2016 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

What’s a Banana?

What's a Banana
Author: Marilyn Singer
Illustrator: Greg Pizzoli
Publisher: Abrams Appleseed
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4197-2139-7
Pages: 24
Price: $12.95

Buy it at Amazon

Bananas may be ordinary to adults, but to children, they can be an object of wonder. In rhyming verse, this cute book describes all the many ways one can use a banana. You can unzip it, share it with a friend, and mash it with a spoon. But you can also use it as a hat, or a boat, and even dress like one for Halloween.

Preschoolers are curious about everything, and introducing bananas in such a fun and imaginative way will allow them to enjoy these fruits even more. What’s a Banana? is a delightful and delicious read.

August 16, 2016 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

The Sugar Mountain Snow Ball

The Sugar Mountain Snow Ball
Author: Elizabeth Atkinson
Publisher: Islandport Press
Genre: Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-1-939017-71-0
Pages: 210
Price: $16.95

Author’s website
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Ruby LaRue and her best friend, Eleanor, find themselves with an unexpected free afternoon together. When they spy an announcement for free dream readings with Madame Magnifique, they jump at the opportunity. Both receive readings they are sure hold great promise for their dreams.

Acting on this newfound energy, they immediately jump into action, meeting as often as possible at a spot they dub Dream Central. They plot and plan and work hard, hoping to achieve what they most hope for. Along the way, they bump up against obstacles, but they keep persevering despite setbacks. Revealing any more details about Ruby and Eleanor’s actions would spoil the delightful unfolding of this magical adventure.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these amazing girls and rooting for their success in reaching their dreams. Middle-grade girls will love The Sugar Mountain Snow Ball.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 15, 2016 Posted by | tween | Leave a comment

ABC Bunyip Saves the Big Black Boogie Swamp

ABC Bunyip Saves the Big Black Boogie Swamp
Author: Kathy Littlemore
Illustrator: Helena Crevel
Publisher: Bad Bunyip Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-9942452-0-5
Pages: 32
Price: $2.99 (Kindle)
Note: Outside of Australia, please contact the author directly to order paperback copies

Author’s website
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ABC is a big, bad bunyip who enjoys wallowing in the mud at Big Black Boogie Swamp. He’s very unhappy when he find out that Farmer Joe wants to mine all the rich, black mud from his home. Big, bad bunyips don’t let anyone mess with them, so ABC takes action to make sure Farmer Joe can’t mine the swamp.

As ABC is detaining Farmer Joe, Archie the dalmatian and Raymond the little black pig show up, looking to play in the mud. With his two new friends and Farmer Joe’s son, Joey, to help him, ABC negotiates terms with Farmer Joe, saving the swamp.

ABC Bunyip Saves the Big Black Boogie Swamp shares this frightening Australian creature with the rest of the world. The legendary bunyip has been reported to hide in swamps, giving terrifying howls to scare everyone away. However, ABC Bunyip is anything but scary for children. In fact, ABC’s biggest weapon is the ability to huff and fluff objects high into the air, inspiring smiles and giggles. Kids will enjoy reading how ABC saves his home, making some new friends in the process.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 11, 2016 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

The Hollow Ground

The Hollow Ground
Author: Natalie S. Harnett
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Historical fiction
ISBN: 978-1-250-04198-2
Pages: 320
Price: $24.99

Author’s website
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Brigid Howley lives with her family under a curse issued by a priest to her long-ago Molly Maguire relative. After being forced out of Centereach by a mine fire, the family moves back to her father’s childhood home in Barrendale, where another fire burns. But before the fire started, a tragic mine disaster badly injured her father and killed his brother.

As Brigid learns to cope with living just outside the fire zone, she also has to come to terms with the curse, which is destroying her family. And when Brigid makes a gruesome discovery in the mine, everything changes, as old buried secrets suddenly come to light. Brigid needs to know the truth, and she’s determined to get answers from the only people who can tell her. But what if her worst fears are realized?

As a Pennsylvanian fascinated with our coal mining past, and especially the mine fires in the area, I especially enjoyed the feeling of being transported back to a time of an actively raging fire. Places are renamed in this story, but most are still recognizable to locals. But although the fire and the mysterious circumstances in the mine shaft held my interest, seeing this dysfunctional family come completely undone was disappointing. History buffs will enjoy this glimpse of Pennsylvania’s past.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 9, 2016 Posted by | history | Leave a comment

What’s an Apple?

What's an Apple?
Author: Marilyn Singer
Illustrator: Greg Pizzoli
Publisher: Abrams Appleseed
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4197-2140-3
Pages: 24
Price: $12.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

This red fruit may be ordinary to adults, but to children, it can be an object of wonder. In rhyming verse, this cute book describes all the many ways one can use an apple. You can eat it, juice it, or smell it in an apple pie. But you can also use it as ball, or an object in a relay race, and even juggle it.

Preschoolers are curious about everything, and introducing apples in such a fun and imaginative way will allow them to enjoy these fruits even more. What’s an Apple? is a delightful and delicious read.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 4, 2016 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

My Friend Merlin

My Friend Merlin
Author: Joanne Lécuyer
Illustrator: Rich Lauzon
Publisher: Topsy Books
Genre: Children / Fantasy
ISBN: 978-1-927353-44-8
Pages: 121
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Merlin needs to speak to Prince Arthur regarding King Uther’s decree against magic, since he knows Arthur will listen to reason. So when Merlin sees him passing by, alone, he intercepts him. As they journey together through the kingdom, Merlin shows Arthur a little about magic and introduces him to a dragon.

The dragon’s sister needs to be rescued, and Merlin invites Arthur to accompany him. But in the process, he will need to use magic. When Arthur sees how magic can be used for good, he knows he’ll need to confront his father. But will Arthur, Merlin, and the other magical folks suffer as a result?

My Friend Merlin introduces the friendship between Arthur and Merlin, as they work to change the fate of magic in the kingdom. This fun and lighthearted fantasy will entertain kids while introducing them to Arthurian legend.

Bergers Book Reviews spent some time chatting with Joanne Lécuyer. Please be sure to read what she has to say!

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 3, 2016 Posted by | children, fantasy | Leave a comment

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