Bergers Book Reviews

Larry Saves the Prairie

larry-saves-the-prairie
Author: Matt Bergles
Illustrator: Rob Peters
Publisher: Merry Dissonance Press
Genre: Children / Nature
ISBN: 978-1-939919-29-8
Pages: 68
Price: $12.95

Author’s website
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When Larry Haverfield received a notice that he had to poison the black-tailed prairie dogs on his land, he knew it wasn’t a good idea. These creatures are an important part of prairie life, and without them, the whole prairie would suffer. So Larry found a lawyer and began to defend the rights of the prairie dogs.

Endangered black-footed ferrets depend on the prairie dogs, as do many other species. The prairie dogs dig tunnels that other animals use, and predators need them for food. And instead of harming cattle and horses, prairie dogs keep their grazing grasses shorter and more nutritious. If they were no longer a part of the prairie, all the other animals would suffer.

Larry Saves the Prairie is an educational and inspiring tale of one man who took on an unjust law and helped preserve prairie life. Kids will enjoy cheering for Larry Haverfield in his efforts to save the black-tailed prairie dog and the prairie.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 23, 2016 Posted by | animals, children, nature | Leave a comment

Circles

circles
Author: David A. Adler
Illustrator: Edward Miller
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Children / Mathematics
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3642-2
Pages: 32
Price: $17.95

Author’s website
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Circles are everywhere. But when is a circle not a circle? When it’s a sphere, cylinder, or cone. In this geometry book for kids, author David A. Adler shows how circles have a diameter, radius, circumference, and area. And they have tangents, arcs, chords, major and minor sectors.

Using simple tools – ruler, paper plate, and tin can – Adler demonstrates each of these concepts. He shows how two diameters of a circle intersect in the center, and all of the circle’s radii are equal in length. Tangents, arcs, and chords are demonstrated, identifying the circle’s major and minor sectors. The circumference of a circle is determined by rolling a tin can and measuring the distance it rolls. Pi is calculated, using the radius and circumference of this circle, and kids then calculate the area of several circles, using pi.

Geometry is easy if explained in a method kids understand. This hands-on approach to circles and their characteristics should appeal to all kids, not just those naturally drawn to mathematics.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 20, 2016 Posted by | children, mathematics | Leave a comment

Writing With Rosie: You Can Write a Story Too

Writing With Rosie
Author: Patricia Reilly Giff
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Writing / Children
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3656-9
Pages: 80
Price: $15.95

Buy it at Amazon

After reading novels that captivate their attention and transport them to new worlds, kids may wonder what, exactly, is involved in writing – and if they might be able to do it, too. Patricia Reilly Giff addresses these budding novelists in Writing With Rosie: You Can Write a Story Too.

Beginning with the story’s main character, she takes kids through the process of putting him in a place and creating a problem for him. Since he’ll be talking to the other characters, she shows kids how to create dialogue while juggling action and description around the conversation. His problem needs to be huge, so he’s going to worry about it, and it needs to keep getting worse. Finally, the main character should solve the problem by himself, changing in the process.

Using examples from her own novels, along with amusing anecdotes involving Rosie, her golden retriever, Giff provides an entertaining and informative guide to writing a story. The step by step structure with breaks for kids to try out the techniques makes it perfect for classroom use. Kids with a desire to begin writing their own stories will enjoy Giff’s laid-back style and encouragement.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 15, 2016 Posted by | children, writing | Leave a comment

No Ordinary Owl (S.A.V.E. Squad: Book 4)

no-ordinary-owl
Authors: Lauraine Snelling and Kathleen Damp Wright
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
Genre: Children / Wildlife
ISBN: 978-1-61626-570-0
Pages: 160
Price: $5.99

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This sequel to Dog Daze , The Great Cat Cape, and Secondhand Horses features Esther, who has just found out her family is moving. When the S.A.V.E. Squad finds two injured owls, they jump right in to help. And since this is the last rescue Esther expects to have with the Squad, she wants it to be the best.

Wildlife rescue is meant to help the injured owls return to the wild, and this means the girls aren’t allowed to get close to them. So instead, they turn their focus to finding out who tried to hurt them. As Esther grows increasingly frustrated by her impending move and their lack of success in their efforts, she and the Squad start to bicker. Will the S.A.V.E. Squad break up, just in time to add a new member – someone Esther doesn’t even trust?

The S.A.V.E. Squad series features four girls from different backgrounds who have become best friends and work together for good causes. Although they have their squabbles, they stick with each other, no matter what. Modeling faith, friendship, and service, this series is a fun read for young girls.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 14, 2016 Posted by | animals, children | Leave a comment

Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong

sherlock-sam-and-the-missing-heirloom-in-katong
Author: A.J. Low
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Children / Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4494-7789-9
Pages: 112
Price: $7.99

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Samuel Tan Cher Lock (aka Sherlock Sam) is hungry, and Auntie Kim Lian’s heirloom cookbook is missing. If Sherlock Sam is going to enjoy ayam buah keluak for dinner, she needs to find it – and quickly! Since Auntie has no idea where she last had it, Sherlock Sam is determined to retrace her steps.

Checking all the cabinets in the kitchen fails to turn up the cookbook, so the group heads out to various places, attempting to figure out where the missing heirloom might be hiding. With the help of his sarcastic and very humorous computer and some of his friends, Sherlock Sam uses deductive reasoning and finally locates the missing cookbook.

Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong is a fun mystery with a taste of Singapore. Featuring a great kid detective and his gang of helpers, this story is logical from beginning to end. Children will enjoy solving this mystery along with Sherlock Sam. But, unfortunately, they will only be able to imagine the yummy food Sam is enjoying.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 9, 2016 Posted by | children, mystery | Leave a comment

Museum Mysteries: The Case of the Stolen Sculpture

the-case-of-the-stolen-sculpture
Author: Steve Brezenoff
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Genre: Middle grade / Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-4342-9690-0
Pages: 128
Price: $6.95

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Clementine Wim is devastated when the statue of Gudea turns up missing. Luckily for the Capitol City Art Museum, the insurance policy will reimburse them well for the statue. In fact, the reimbursement is so large it will pay for a new education wing that Dr. Carbony has been wishing for. But Dr. Carbony and the others seem a bit too happy about the insurance money.

Calling on her friends Raining, Wilson, and Amal, Clementine investigates what might have happened to the statue, and who last saw it before it disappeared. When the security camera footage fails to identify the thief, they try to reason out an alternative theory. And if they’re successful, they just might return the statue to its rightful place.

The Case of the Missing Museum Archives is part of the Museum Mysteries series. The story features a diversified cast of characters that bands together to solve mysteries. Children will enjoy hunting for the missing Gudea along with Clementine and her friends.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

September 6, 2016 Posted by | mystery, tween | Leave a comment

Surprise in the Meadow

Surprise in the Meadow
Author & Illustrator: Anna Vojtech
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3556-2
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

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Little Chipmunk remembers the wonderful seeds he buried last fall and eagerly searches for them in the spring. But instead of seeds, he finds a mysterious plant. As spring turns to summer, the plant grows taller and taller. One day, a brilliant yellow head forms – a sunflower! And when the plant dies, Little Chipmunk harvests an abundance of yummy seeds.

Beautiful watercolor drawings accompany this adorable text. Kids will smile as they visit with Little Chipmunk and his friends, and discover the life cycle of plants. I highly recommend Surprise in the Meadow.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 31, 2016 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Smithsonian Readers: World of Wonder Level 3

Smithsonian World of Wonder
Authors: Brenda Scott-Royce, Courtney Acampora, Kaitlyn DiPerna, Emily Rose Oachs
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
Genre: Children / Education
ISBN: 978-1-62686-453-5
Pages: 192
Price: $14.95

Buy it at Amazon

Science, ancient history and nature are interesting for kids, and Smithsonian Readers capitalizes on this desire to learn more about these topics. World of Wonder covers the planets, rain forest animals, wild weather, the United States, ancient Egypt, and sharks. Beautiful photos fill each page, bringing the text alive and making it more engaging. Each section closes with a multiple choice quiz to determine reading comprehension.

The Smithsonian Readers series is designed for early, developing, engaged and fluent readers. In this level 3 book, kids will read new high-interest content, longer sentences, and more complex spelling patterns.

Smithsonian Readers: Early Adventures Level 3 is sure to generate some curiosity and enthusiasm in the home and classroom. However, in this volume, I discovered some inaccuracies in the ancient Egypt section. Some assumptions are presented as fact, when Egyptologists actually still speculate on these questions. Other statements are simply incorrect. I’m not as knowledgeable about the other topics, but knowing there are errors in this section makes me question how well this whole series has been checked for accuracy. These books may be good for reading comprehension, but I’d recommend that the facts be verified.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

August 29, 2016 Posted by | education | Leave a comment

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

Buy it at Amazon

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