1001 Ants

Author & Illustrator: Joanna Rzezak
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65208-4
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

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1001 ants are off to explore the world. Leaving their hill, they visit plants, mushrooms, trees, a pond, bugs, and animals. In each nature frame, the ants learn about the creatures and vegetation around them. One little ants wears red socks, and children are encouraged to find her in each scene.

While counting the ants is certainly possible, kids might find it a little overwhelming. But they will find it fun to see what each is doing in these busy scenes. Text is placed around the items kids should take note of as they read.

1001 Ants is a great introduction to the natural world around us. Kids will enjoy this fun read.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

history, tween

So You Want to be a Viking?

Author: Georgia Amson-Bradshaw
Inspired by the book Viking by John Haywood
Illustrator: Takayo Akiyama
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Middle Grade / History
ISBN: 978-0-500-65184-1
Pages: 96
Price: 14.95

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If you’ve dreamed of sailing the northern seas of Europe, plundering the local villages, and wearing a cool horned helmet, the Viking life might be for you. But are you sure you really want to be a Viking? This handy illustrated guide shows kids exactly what’s involved in this nomadic warrior life.

Kate, Eddie, and Angus are in the library checking out a book on Viking sagas. Soon they are transported back in time to 991, and are advised by Sigurd the Skald, who explains what they can expect if they really want to be Vikings. First they’ll need to choose a leader, pick out their weapons, and shop for their gear. The various kinds of boats, sailing techniques, and shipwreck survival are important things to know if they want to travel by boat. But if land is more their choice, other options are presented. But the most important (and fun) part of any kind of Viking campaign is plunder, and the proper methods of ensuring the best and most booty are provided.

Viking life comes alive in this tongue-in-cheek look at how to be a Viking. I found it highly entertaining, and it will be a big hit with kids – especially boys – who will enjoy the gruesome humor. (Spoiler alert: yes, there are cartoon flying body parts.)  I highly recommend So You Want to be a Viking?

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Diggers

Author: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrator: Antoine Corbineau
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-68412-742-9
Pages: 32
Price: $12.99

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Moles, dogs, worms, rabbits, pirates, and mice are all digging holes. And so is the man with a plan. But he feels like a mouse or a mole because his digging is taking far too long. Finally, he calls for an excavator – the digger – that will dig the big hole he needs.

The digger goes under the city, under the river, and into the green country beyond. A train goes through the hole and through the green country, until it stops at a mountain. Then the digger is called on, once again, to dig through the mountain and let the train through.

Rhyming, repetition, and silly images fill the pages of this classic whimsical book. Kids will love reading The Diggers over and over again.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, children, Christian

Night Night Zoo

Author: Amy Parker
Illustrator: Virginia Allyn
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4003-1014-2
Pages: 20
Price: $9.99

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Illustrator’s website
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The zookeepers have locked up and gone home for the day, but the animals still have to get ready for bed. Hippos, gazelles, elephants, and many others all have a nightly routine. As each animal family prepares for bed, kids are encouraged to wish them a good night’s sleep through the repeating refrain, “Night night [animals].” A box at the bottom right corner introduces the next animals they will see.

Finally, everyone is tucked in for the night. All the animals are now asleep, and this charming bedtime board book closes with the message that God is in control, even in a zoo.  Night Night Zoo is the perfect bedtime story for children who love animals.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

history, self improvement

Our Great Responsibility

Publisher: Alcoholics Anonymous
Genre: Alcoholism / History
ISBN: 978-1-644270-52-3
Pages: 270
Price: $10.00

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Bill W. was one of the founding members of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935. Over the years, the fellowship grew, and conferences began to be held on an annual basis. Bill W. spoke at many of these conferences. Our Great Responsibility shares a selection of his conference talks from 1951 to 1970.

As of January 1, 2018, it has been estimated that there are over 61,000 groups and 1.2 million members of A.A. in the United States. Worldwide, there are more than 2 million members. Alcoholics Anonymous has been a lifesaver to many drinkers who had no hope of quitting. This spiritual program provides “twelve steps” that guide the new member to sobriety. Along with sponsors and meetings, the alcoholic finds a whole new, healthier way of living.

Those who are curious about the roots of this program will find these talks from Bill W. to be enlightening and informative. Those whose lives have been improved by working the twelve steps of A.A. will enjoy reading about the early days of this organization. And as a historical document, this book is a fascination read.

If you think you may have a drinking problem, here is a quick questionnaire that will help you decide if A.A. might help you. You can find sobriety through this program.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Farmer

Author & Illustrator: Ximo Abadia
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4158-7
Pages: 40
Price: $17.99

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Paul is a farmer. He mows, he rakes, and he digs. Then his plants begin to grow. But what happens when it doesn’t rain? Paul doesn’t despair, because he knows the rain is never very far away.

Paul’s story is shown through imaginative illustrations. Vegetation in abundance, raindrops filling the page, and a starry night along with the fullest moon tell Paul’s story in pictures. Finally, his abundant harvest is pictured in rows and rows of colorful plants.

The Farmer is a creative tale of a man who never rests. Kids will enjoy this interesting perspective of farming.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, self improvement

Freddie and Friends: Becoming Unstuck

Author: Kimberly Delude
Illustrator: Brian Martin
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-944882-42-6
Pages: 32
Price: $10.95

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Betsy has a worry bug named Murray. Whenever Betsy faces a scary situation, Murray starts asking questions like “What if you get called on in class and don’t know the answer?” and “What if no one will sit with you on the bus?” Betsy starts to sweat and can no longer function.

Freddie notices her problem and invites her to join the Worry Bug Club. In weekly meetings, the members of the club discuss their worries and how they’re dealing with them. They are also provided with a FLIP bracelet, which reminds them to: F – determine the feeling the worry bug is creating (sad, scared, etc.), L – identify the lies the worry bug is telling them, I – inhale (take a deep, calming breath), P – “Positive pop” or fighting the worry bug with a good thought so it will pop. Betsy faces situations after the club meeting where she’s able to use the FLIP technique to fight through her worries and keep Murray from getting to her.

Kids will learn from Betsy as she stops letting Murray’s worries dominate her, and starts to take control of her own life with the FLIP method. Tips for parents and educators are included at the end of this fantastic teaching story, giving some techniques to work through stress with children. I highly recommend Freddie and Friends: Becoming Unstuck.

Reviewer: Alice Berger