Bergers Book Reviews

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
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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

Esther the Eaglet

Esther the Eaglet
Author: Christie Gove-Berg
Publisher: Adventure Publications
Genre: Children / Nature / Birds
ISBN: 978-1-59193-542-1
Pages: 32
Price: $12.95

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Esther the Eaglet longs to test out her wings and fly, but the wind is strong and she lands with a crash. Esther is lucky that people are there who know how to care for her. Her injured wing is x-rayed and she’s kept safe in a cage until it heals. Esther’s injury is not serious, so it only takes a few days before she’s ready to be released into the wild. Soon she’s reunited with her parents and back in the nest.

Esther’s story has a happy ending, and children will enjoy seeing her in the many photographs that fill this book, as they learn about animal rehabilitation. Kids who love animals will enjoy reading Esther the Eaglet.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 13, 2016 Posted by | animals, birds, children, nature | Leave a comment

Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions: Gorilla Tactics

Gorilla Tactics
Author: Sheila Grau
Illustrator: Joe Sutphin
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Genre: Fantasy / Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-1-4197-1371-2
Pages: 304
Price: $14.95

Buy it at Amazon

Runt Higgins needs to know where he came from when he was dropped at Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions. He’s been cursed to die on his sixteenth birthday and needs to find out how to break the curse. One of his professors has been searching for the Great Library, and now Runt knows where he may find some answers. But Runt isn’t the only one who wants access to this mysterious place.

Dr. Critchlore is being threatened with a minion school takeover, so he devises a scheme to foil this dastardly plan. He decides to hold a fashion show, throwing the school into chaos for two weeks. At every attempt to do the right thing, Runt finds himself in trouble in his classes, with his classmates, and with his headmaster, as the clock continues to tick on the curse. Will Runt save the school and himself before time runs out?

Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions is similar to Hogwarts, but with monsters training to serve Evil Overlords instead of wizards learning to manage their powers. Ogres, giants, imps, and zombies, as well as other living and undead beings populate this unique university, where being evil is not only good – it’s expected. Runt and his friends are really cool characters with lots of personality, and kids will relate well to them. I absolutely loved this book, and I can’t wait for the next book in this series.

June 7, 2016 Posted by | fantasy, tween | Leave a comment

5 Minutes with Jesus: Peace for Today

Peace for Today
Author: Sheila Walsh
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-0-7180-3255-5
Pages: 192
Price: $9.99

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Jesus wants us to know His peace, but our busy lives often lead to frazzled nerves instead. 5 Minutes with Jesus: Peace for Today offers us a gentle reminder to keep our focus on Jesus and not our day to day problems.

Each brief meditation shares an application story, followed by a summary message and five Bible verses in support of the message. These meditations will take less than five minutes to read and absorb. In slowing down for this short period of time, the reader can relax and feel the peace Jesus wants to offer us.

Sheila Walsh has compiled many wonderful messages that the reader can turn to whenever needed. One thing that would be nice to have, though, is an index of topics to make it easier to find a reading that will most help with our current problems. But overall, I really liked this book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 1, 2016 Posted by | Christian | Leave a comment