Bergers Book Reviews

Camp Dork (Pack of Dorks)

Camp Dork
Author: Beth Vrabel
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-1-63450-181-1
Pages: 240
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
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Sheldon really wants to go to Camp Paleo for the summer, so he convinces Lucy, Sam, April, and Amanda to join him. Lucy is excited to be spending time away at camp with Sam, until his plans suddenly change. Now she’s stuck eating caveman food and digging up fossils without him.

But if she thought Camp Paleo’s strict diet and strange activities hard to deal with, the sudden loss of her friends is even worse. April has changed and decides to hang out with Kira, and Amanda wants nothing to do with Lucy, while Sheldon is obsessed with the fossils. So what does Lucy try to do? Regain her pack, anyway she can. Even if it means creating imaginary romances that cause havoc in camp.

Camp Dork reaches middle grade kids exactly where they are, caught between close friendships and raging hormones. Girls will relate to Lucy’s predicament, while maybe wishing she handled things a wee bit better. This sequel to Pack of Dorks is a fun and engaging read.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 31, 2016 Posted by | tween | Leave a comment

Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear

Author: Scott Sauls
Publisher: Tyndale House
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4964-0094-9
Pages: 240
Price: $15.99

Author’s website
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Those of us who attend church regularly might find we belong to a sort of clique. Without meaning to, we’ve surrounded ourselves with like-minded people and don’t really associate with those outside that inner circle. Befriend challenges us to look outside the circle and include the others we’ve unintentionally excluded.

In each chapter dedicated to a specific group of people, Scott Sauls presents challenges and opportunities in getting to know them. Some of these people include prodigals and pharisees, those grieving and dying, children, the other race, and people with disabilities and special needs. Sauls asks us to see them and reach out to them as Jesus would. Each chapter closes with a summary, Scripture verse, and a question to consider. A discussion guide is also available for book clubs and church groups.

Sauls reminds us that we live in a digital age, where we may have many so-called “friends” online, but only a handful of real friends we can call on when we need them. Befriend provides an insightful look at those we don’t normally associate with, and a timely reminder that we’re all God’s children. My only disappointment with this book was that I was expecting more of a “how to” develop closer friendships, while Sauls only touches on this concept in the context of reaching out to these specific groups.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 26, 2016 Posted by | Christian | Leave a comment

That’s Not the Monster We Ordered

That's Not the Monster We Ordered
Author: Tara Black
Illustrators: Richard Fairgray and Terry Jones
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-5107-1136-5
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99

Buy it at Amazon

Everyone is excited when the Turners get their very own monster. He can roar like a lion, tumble down the steps like a slinky, and even carry all the kids home on his back. So the children ask their parents if they can have a monster, too. Finally, after much deliberation and debate, the order is placed. But when the monster arrives… he’s not at all what they expected.

As they live with the monster for the next few days, they discover he can’t do any neat tricks. His stomach gets upset when he eats the grass they expected him to keep trimmed. And he isn’t very good at baking. He’s not the monster they ordered and will just have to be shipped back. But what if the monster they received is really the right one for them after all?

That’s Not the Monster We Ordered is a lighthearted story with a nice message of acceptance. Rather than simply giving up on their defective monster, the family learns to love him just as he is. In this day and age of disposable relationships, kids will learn that there are redeeming qualities in all of us and we’re all lovable in our own unique way. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 21, 2016 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Miles is the Boss of His Body

Miles is the Boss of His Body
Authors: Samantha Kurtzman-Counter and Abbie Schiller
Illustrator: Valentina Ventimiglia
Publisher: The Mother Company
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-9894071-3-7
Pages: 32
Price: $12.95

Author’s website
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Miles is excited to be celebrating his 6th birthday, but he has no idea how frustrating the day will turn out to be. Grandpa pinches his cheeks as he wishes him a happy birthday. His brother, Scotty, gives him birthday noogies. Mom gives Miles an extra-tight squeeze. Dad lifts him high in the air. And baby Max grabs his shirt. But the thing that really set Miles off is getting a birthday tickle – from the birthday chicken!

Miles is really frustrated and sits his family down to listen to him. He explains that he doesn’t like being pinched, noogied, squeezed too tight, lifted up, grabbed, or tickled. Miles declares that he’s the “boss of his body” and stomps off to his room. But when mom comes to get him, she isn’t mad. Instead she tells him that she’s very proud of him for standing up for himself and not letting others touch him in ways he doesn’t like.

Kids don’t always understand that they don’t need to put up with inappropriate touching from others. Miles is the Boss of His Body shows them that they have the right to stand up for themselves, and even make a scene if necessary, to stop others from doing something they don’t like. I highly recommend this book for home and classrooms.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 19, 2016 Posted by | children, parenting | Leave a comment

The Magic Hat Shop

The Magic Hat Shop
Author & Illustrator: Sonja Wimmer
Publisher: Cuento de Luz
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-84-16147-19-9
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

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One day a mysterious hat shop appears in the middle of the town. Nobody knows where it came from or how it got there. But one day, Timid Tim ventures inside and emerges completely transformed, wearing a new hat. Instead of walking with his head down, looking to go unnoticed, he’s now walking tall, smiling and greeting people with a friendly “Hello!”

Soon other townsfolk explore the unusual shop, coming out not only with new hats, but new attitudes, as well. People begin to whisper that the hats are magic because they bring out the most surprising features in the people wearing them and make all their problems disappear. But one day a storm blows through town, sending the hats flying away. Will the magic of the hats remain?

The Magic Hat Shop is an adorable story of the awesome power of positive change. As the town’s residents get used to their new and improved attitudes, they realize they like who they have become. And maybe they no longer need the magic of the hats to be their very best selves.

October 17, 2016 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning

Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning
Author: A.J. Low
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Genre: Mystery / Children
ISBN: 978-1-4494-7788-2
Pages: 120
Price: $7.99

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After solving the mystery in Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong, Sherlock Sam is looking for another case as Singapore’s Greatest Kid Detective. In this latest mystery, Sam and his faithful robot companion, Watson, visit Fort Canning and find a previously undiscovered sally port. But when he, Watson, and his friends approach, they all hear loud, ghostly moans coming from inside.

Sam doesn’t believe in ghosts, but can he prove the strange sounds he hears aren’t ghoulish in origin? Taking his father and Watson along for another visit, he determines to crack this case. Using Watson’s superior computer skills, he will attempt to gather evidence. But will the moans chase them all off, as before?

Sherlock Sam and Watson make a terrific comic duo, as Watson’s sarcasm adds humor to this delightful mystery. Kids will love Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 13, 2016 Posted by | children, mystery | Leave a comment

The Kraken’s Rules for Making Friends

The Kraken's Rules for Making Friends
Author & Illustrator: Brittany R. Jacobs
Publisher: POW!
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-57687-814-9
Pages: 40
Price: $18.95

Author’s website
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The Kraken is a scary beast and nearly everyone in the ocean is afraid of him. Poor Kraken is tired of being lonely, so he devises a scheme to fool the others. When his plan backfires, he turns to the Great White Shark for advice.

Even though the Great White Shark is also scary, he has lots of friends. Sharing six rules for making friends, the Great White Shark explains to the Kraken how he needs to change, but the results are not immediately successful. Fortunately, the shark would like to be his friend.

The Kraken’s Rules for Making Friends is a humorous story with a great message. Kids who want to make more friends can learn from the Great White Shark, just as Kraken did. Lasting change takes time, and immediate results are not always possible, as Kraken discovered. But if children continue to make a positive attempt, their efforts will be rewarded. I highly recommend this cute and helpful book.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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

Tracks Count: A Guide to Counting Animal Prints (The Little Naturalist Series)

Tracks Count
Author: Steve Engel
Illustrator: Alexander Peterson
Publisher: Craigmore Creations
Genre: Children / Nature
ISBN: 978-1-940052-07-6
Pages: 32
Price: $17.99

Buy it at Amazon

It’s time to learn how to count – animals tracks. Using tracks from various birds and animals, kids will learn their numbers from zero to ten.

First, mom and dad are given a short tour guide of the trail ahead. Claw marks, toe pads, heel pads, and dewclaws are explained, as well as how the number of each will be determined. Then, beginning with a wide open space with no tracks, kids will start to identify the marks left behind by various animals. One hoof print left by a horse. Two toe prints of a moose. Three toe prints of a rhinoceros. Each two-page spread shows the track(s) with the number associated with it on one side. The opposite side shows the animal in its natural habitat. The final pages show all the numbers and tracks together, along with descriptions of each of the animals featured.

Budding naturalists will eagerly bring the knowledge they’ve received from Tracks Count into the wilderness, as they search for tracks of their own to identify. I highly recommend this interesting and educational counting guide.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 10, 2016 Posted by | children, nature | Leave a comment

Dot to Dot NYC

Dot to Dot NYC
Author: Narae Kim
Publisher: powerHouse Books
Genre: Art / Meditation
ISBN: 978-1-57687-815-6
Pages: 48
Price: $14.95

Buy it at Amazon

Have you fallen in love with adult coloring books? Have you started eyeing your kids’ connect-the-dots books, thinking of how much fun it might be to do one, yourself? And once it’s completed, it would be great to give it some color.

Dot to Dot NYC is the adult connect-the-dots book you’ve been waiting for. This unique art-meditation book contains 23 hidden pictures, just waiting for a few moments of your time alone with a pencil and your imagination. Since each design has several hundred dots to connect, each group of one hundred is printed in a different color, making it easier to find them. However, those who have difficulty with small print will need to break out the reading glasses to see the tiny numbers. It would spoil the fun if I told you what’s pictured, but these completed images are well-known landmarks from around New York City.

Dot to Dot NYC captures the spirit of the Big Apple in a fun and creative way. This unique book would make a great gift.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

October 6, 2016 Posted by | art, meditation | Leave a comment