Bergers Book Reviews

Chloe by Design: Balancing Act

Balancing Act
Author: Margaret Gurevich
Illustrator: Brooke Hagel
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-1-62370-258-8
Pages: 384
Price: $14.95

Buy it at Amazon

In winning the Teen Design Diva contest in Making the Cut, Chloe is given the chance of a summer internship with a designer in New York City. She hopes that working for Stefan Meyers will hone her design skills and help her to be successful in her career.

Chloe is lucky to be rooming with other interns in an FIT dormitory, and will be able to share her joys and accomplishments with girls who have also been there. But one of the interns is jealous of Chloe’s success and tries to bring her down every chance she gets. Balancing a high-pressure job with a potential love interest proves to be more difficult than Chloe imagines, but her few dates are a source of pleasure. As Stefan Meyers guides his staff toward a successful Fashion Week, Chloe is thrown into the chaos and given the chance to shine. But is it enough to be a part of the event, or does she really want to showcase her work?

Balancing Act shows us Chloe at her very best. For such a young girl, she’s amazingly mature in how she handles her work responsibilities. She consistently shows up on time (or even early) for work, stays late, tries to always do her best, and even chooses work over dating. And outside of work, she always takes the high road when dealing with difficult personalities. Chloe is a great role model for teens, who will love her for the exciting career she’s chosen. As there is no mature material in these books, this series is appropriate for younger girls, also.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 21, 2016 Posted by | teen | Leave a comment

The Drawing Lesson: A Graphic Novel That Teaches You How to Draw

The Drawing Lesson
Author & Illustrator: Mark Crilley
Publisher: Watson-Guptill
Genre: Art / Graphic Novel
ISBN: 978-0-385-34633-7
Pages: 144
Price: $18.99

Author’s website
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David really wants to be an artist just like his classmate, Ryan Pasternak. So when he spies an artist, Becky, sitting on a park bench, drawing, he begs her to teach him. Soon he’s learning how to draw what he sees.

David pesters Becky for more lessons, showing up at the coffee shop she frequents and even at her home. Although Becky seems to get angry with him at times, she feels David is working hard and has some real talent. In a series of lessons, Becky shows David how to shade, beginning with a loose sketch, understanding light and shadow, using negative space, checking proportions, simplifying things, creating a composition, and bringing it all together. David is an eager and willing student, and by the time he completes his lessons, he’s mastered most of the basics.

Although David would love to continue learning with Becky, she needs to move out of state, and a tearful good-bye ends this tale. The Drawing Lesson is a wonderful “how to draw” book, told through a graphic novel story, that really explains how to draw what you see. I highly recommend this entertaining and educational book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 19, 2016 Posted by | art, graphic novel | Leave a comment

The Shadow of Seth

The Shadow of Seth
Author: Tom Llewellyn
Publisher: The Poisoned Pencil
Genre: Teen / Mystery
ISBN: 978-1-92934-518-2
Pages: 186
Price: $10.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Seth Anomundy lives in a small apartment in the back of a boxing gym, on the poor side of Tacoma, with his mother, a cleaning woman. And now she’s dead, apparently murdered. The cops don’t seem interested in finding out what happened to her, so Seth needs to take matters into his own hands.

On a delivery run for the clock repairman he occasionally works for, he meets one of the rich girls in school, who immediately takes an interest in him. As he speaks with his mother’s clients, he retraces her steps that fateful night, narrowing down the suspects. The cops have issued an arrest warrant for the woman he considers a second mother when she disappears after the murder, and Seth wants to clear her name. But he also needs to steer clear of King George, a teenage thug who suddenly wants him dead.

The Shadow of Seth is an interesting whodunit. Clues are carefully presented and the reader is able to follow along as Seth figures out what happened. But some of the characters’ actions don’t ring quite true, and Seth acts more like he’s researching the death of a stranger rather than his own mother. Fans of simple and straight-forward murder mysteries without too much emotional involvement will enjoy this novel.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 18, 2016 Posted by | mystery, teen | Leave a comment

Ishi: Simple Tips From a Solid Friend

Author: Akiko Yabuki
Publisher: POW!
Genre: Philosophy / Self-help
ISBN: 978-1-57687-816-3
Pages: 40
Price: $12.95

Buy it at Amazon

Ishi is a pet rock with a warm smile and words of simple wisdom. In this book, author Akiko Yabuki encourages us to listen to Ishi’s message, be happy, and share Ishi with a friend.

In the first frame of each two page spread, Ishi finds himself in an uncomfortable situation. Then in the second one, he shares some of his simple wisdom on how to deal with the situation and make himself feel better. Feel stuck? Always move forward, not backward. Sad about what’s missing? Focus on what you have and appreciate it. Feeling unhappy? Smile – happiness will follow.

Ishi is listed for Pre-school to Kindergarten aged children, but I feel that Ishi’s wisdom can also be enjoyed by adults and teenagers. As we age, we may find ourselves even more stressed than children, and Ishi’s gentle smile is a soothing balm for frazzled nerves. I highly recommend Ishi: Simple Tips From a Solid Friend for all ages.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 11, 2016 Posted by | philosophy, self improvement | Leave a comment

Smithsonian Magnetic Adventures: Jungle

Smithsonian Magnetic Adventures - Jungle
Author: Emily Rose Oachs
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
Genre: Children / Nature
ISBN: 978-1-62686-305-7
Pages: 64
Price: $22.95

Buy it at Amazon

The rain forest is a fascinating place with an unusual climate and several layers. Each of these is specially suited to certain plants and animals. These layers include the floor, understory, canopy, and emergent, plus rivers and flooded forests. The Jungle guidebook is organized by layer, highlighting some of the birds and animals that live there.

Deforestation is an ongoing problem in the world, as the rain forests shrink every year. This impact and how kids can help try to stop it is also presented. A metal case with rain forest scenes allows kids to place magnetic animals in the right layers or in a jungle panorama.

Kids who love nature and animals will enjoy learning about the jungle with this kit. Smithsonian Magnetic Adventures: Jungle would also make a great addition to classroom libraries.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 8, 2016 Posted by | animals, children, nature | Leave a comment

Camp Rolling Hills (#1)

Camp Rolling Hills
Author: Stacy Davidowitz
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Genre: Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-1-4197-1885-4
Pages: 240
Price: $8.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

After a traumatic summer the prior year, Stephanie (aka Slimey) is happy to be back at Camp Rolling Hills with her best friends. But Bobby (aka Smelly) wishes he was at baseball camp instead. After his weird cabin mates welcome him with loud singing and bestow such a lousy nickname on him, he just wants to go home. But when he meets Slimey, his outlook changes.

Slimey and Smelly are both grieving something at home, and their shared problems bring them closer together. But it all goes haywire, as their respective cabins turn on each other in an all-out raid. And things get weird when one of Slimey’s cabin mates decides she also likes Smelly, confusing everyone.

Camp Rolling Hills is a zany portrait of sleep-away camp life. Although there are too many kids to keep track of, they’re all nice in their own quirky ways. Middle-graders will enjoy this series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 30, 2016 Posted by | tween | Leave a comment

Tuesday Takes Me There: The Healing Journey of a Veteran and his Service Dog

Tuesday Takes Me There
Authors: Luis Carlos Montalván, Bret Witter
Photographer: Dan Dion
Publisher: Post Hill Press
Genre: Children / Dogs / PTSD
ISBN: 978-1-68261-106-7
Pages: 48
Price: $17.00

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Luis Carlos Montalván is a military veteran who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Living a normal life is stressful, so he relies on his service dog, Tuesday, to help him cope with difficult situations. Tuesday loves to travel and eagerly leads the way.

Luis and Tuesday travel around New York City and Washington, D.C. using a variety of transportation methods to see the sights. Tuesday loves riding on the bus, the subway, a ferry boat, and a helicopter, along with many others. Their travels are photographed, showing the many interesting places they visit.

Their final destination is a classroom, where Luis and Tuesday explain the importance of service dogs for veterans suffering from PTSD. Tuesday loves the hugs he gets from the kids. Tuesday Takes Me There is interesting on many levels, touching on transportation, tourist attractions, and the friendship between man and dog. Kids will enjoy reading about Luis and Tuesday’s travels.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 29, 2016 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Chloe by Design: Making the Cut

Making the Cut
Author: Margaret Gurevich
Illustrator: Brooke Hagel
Publisher: Capstone Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-1-62370-112-3
Pages: 384
Price: $14.95

Buy it at Amazon

Chloe Montgomery is addicted to the fashion reality show Design Diva. So when the producers announce a new contest – Teen Design Diva – Chloe knows she has to enter. But before she can make it to the TV show, she first has to pass auditions. Only 15 designers will make the cut, and she’ll have to work hard and smart.

Navigating the challenges the judges give them is difficult enough, but she also has to worry about her rival, Nina, trying to sabotage her efforts. Doubts in her own abilities surface, and she faces the very real fact that others in the contest might be better than she is. But she keeps on pushing herself, ever hopeful that she’ll be awarded the championship.

Beautiful watercolor drawings of Chloe’s and other contestants’ designs fill the pages, giving color to the descriptions of these interesting fashion pieces as they’re created. Teen girls who love fashion and reality shows will find themselves absorbed in the whirlwind of activity Chloe suddenly finds herself in. Making the Cut is a great read, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the Chloe by Design series.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 21, 2016 Posted by | fashion, teen | 1 Comment

Smithsonian Readers: Seriously Amazing Level 2

Seriously Amazing
Authors: Brenda Scott-Royce, Emily Rose Oachs, Stephen Binns, Ruth Strother
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
Genre: Children / Education
ISBN: 978-1-62686-452-8
Pages: 192
Price: 14.95

Buy it at Amazon

Science and nature are interesting for kids, and Smithsonian Readers capitalizes on this desire to learn more about these topics. Seriously Amazing covers nighttime animals, sea life, baby animals, dinosaurs, solar system, and the human body. 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 2 book, kids will read mostly familiar vocabulary balanced with new phonic structures, longer words, and compound sentences.

Smithsonian Readers: Seriously Amazing Level 2 is sure to generate some curiosity and enthusiasm in the home and classroom. I highly recommend it.

June 18, 2016 Posted by | animals, children, nature, science | Leave a comment

Hank Has a Dream

Hank Has a Dream
Author & Illustrator: Rebecca Dudley
Publisher: Peter Pauper Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4413-1572-4
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99

Buy it at Amazon

In this follow-up to Hank Finds an Egg, Hank shares his dream with his friend, a hummingbird. In the dream, Hank flies in a hot air balloon, all by himself along a path to the sea, higher and higher. As he tells about his dream, he acts out the motions on the ground, showing his friend what happened. Finally, the hummingbird begs to hear it again, and Hank begins, “Last night I dreamed we flew…”

Unlike in Hank Finds an Egg, this story is told with words. Hank is hand-made from fabric, and his environment is also hand-created to set the stage. Sharing dreams and friendship, this sweet tale is perfect for beginning readers and all those who enjoy artfully illustrated books.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 14, 2016 Posted by | children | Leave a comment


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