children, creativity, science

This Book Thinks You’re an Inventor

Author: Jon Milton
Illustrator: Harriet Russell
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children / Science
ISBN: 978-0-500-65176-6
Pages: 96
Price: $14.95

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Kids may not realize it, but they might be able to think like an inventor. If they’ve ever thought there was a better, faster, or smarter way to do something, or if they’ve ever thought about creating a useful tool to make their lives easier, they just might be an inventor. This Book Thinks You’re an Inventor taps into kids’ creativity to explore this concept.

This is no boring science book that kids will read cover to cover. Instead, they dive right in with exercises and experiments that teach them how to see things differently. Are they a doer, a refiner, or a dreamer? They can take the quiz to find out their own inventor style. Tinkering with bridges, engineering a new hairdo, or building paper skyscrapers with minimal tools are just some of the experiments they will enjoy.

Kids love to be creative, and they will have loads of fun with This Book Thinks You’re an Inventor. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

animals, children, nature


Author & Illustrator: Gail Gibbons
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Nature / Children
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4354-3
Pages: 32
Price: $18.99

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Bats are amazing creatures, but many people are afraid of them. They are harmless animals that care for their young, help control the insect population, and pollinate plants. And right now they are in danger.

Since people don’t understand much about these mammals, they destroy their habitats. Pollution and pesticides also threaten bats. And now, they face a terrible disease called white-nose syndrome that has killed many bats.

Bats may be associated with Count Dracula but they’re not scary at all. In fact, they will probably never come near you. Bats provides a wealth of information so kids can learn all about these nocturnal animals and develop a healthy respect for them. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, nature

Hoot and Howl Across the Desert

Author & Illustrator: Vassiliki Tzomaka
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children / Nature
ISBN: 978-0-500-65198-8
Pages: 56
Price: $19.95

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It’s hard to survive in harsh desert conditions, but many animals and plants not only survive, but thrive. They’ve adapted to fit into their environments. Hoot and Howl Across the Desert shows us some of these deserts and the animals and plants that live there.

First, kids learn the definition of a desert, and may be surprised to learn about Antarctica. While focusing on each of the deserts, certain plants and animals are featured, as the author shows us some of their unique characteristics. Illustrations draw on indigenous and folk art local to each featured desert.

There is a wealth of information about the inhabitants of the world’s worst living conditions, and kids will enjoy reading about them all. They may even be inspired to learn more about these intrepid creatures. I highly recommend Hoot and Howl Across the Desert.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Hope of Glory

Author: Jon Meacham
Publisher: Convergent Books
Genre: Christian
ISBN: 978-0-593-23666-6
Pages: 144
Price: $22.00

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In commemorating the Passion of Christ, Christians often focus on the last seven words of Jesus. Taken from the Gospels, these last words express essential Christian truths. The Hope of Glory is a collection of meditations on each of these last words, beginning with an explanation of their significance.

These words are:
The First Word: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
The Second Word: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
The Third Word: “Woman, behond thy son!” “Behold thy mother.”
The Fourth Word: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
The Fifth Word: “I thirst.”
The Sixth Word: “It is finished.”
The Seventh Word: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”

These meditations originally were spoken from the pulpit in 2013, and focus on the Jesus’s message of love, grace, and extraordinary mercy. The Hope of Glory would be a great read during the Lenten season.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

food & drink

Wine: A Beginner’s Guide

Author: Ken Fredrickson, Master Sommelier
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Genre: Food & Drink
ISBN: 978-1-64611-04-4
Pages: 160
Price: $14.99

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Wine is simple to drink, but complicated to understand. Why do people recommend white wine with some foods, and red wine with others? How does wine pairing really work? If you’ve always been curious, Wine: A Beginner’s Guide will answer these and many other questions for you.

First, the author explains the wine-making process from harvest to bottling. Then he touches on the various flavor elements in wine that give them their distinct tastes. Various reds, whites, sparkling and dessert wines are described in detail, along with regions where they may be found. Once we understand what we’re looking for, he explains the tasting process. Finally, we learn how to pair food and wine in combinations that will work best for us.

Ultimately, how we taste and perceive a wine is up to our own individual taste. But with Wine: A Beginner’s Guide, we’ll be ready to select our favorites quickly and easily. This book is a perfect guide for the wannabe sommelier.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Essential Air Fryer Cookbook for Beginners

Author: Laurie Fleming
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Genre: Cooking
ISBN: 978-1-64611-151-0
Pages: 142
Price: $16.99

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Air fryers are fun kitchen tools, but you need good recipes to make them work. The Essential Air Fryer Cookbook for Beginners offers explanations on how the air fryer works, tips and tricks to make every meal a success, and lots of good recipes to try.

These recipes include breakfast, snacks and appetizers, seafood, poultry, beef, pork, lamb, vegetables, sides, and desserts. A general cooking chart also gives cooking times and temperatures for various meats, frozen items, fruits, and vegetables.

The author enjoys highly seasoned food, and I had to modify some recipes to suit my palate. But if you’re looking for a good cookbook to guide you into air fryer cooking, this would be a great place to start.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


The Word Pirates

Author: Susan Cooper
Illustrator: Steven Kellogg
Publisher: Neal Porter Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4359-8
Pages: 40
Price: $18.99

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The pirates are hungry, and what they love to eat is words! So they let their flock of Bumblebirds loose and wait for them to bring back some tasty morsels. As the birds collect words for the pirates, books are left empty of their stories.

But one day the Bumblebirds lift the words from the Word Wizard’s book. She won’t let them steal her stories, and she fights back with a magic pen. The pirates are no match for the powerful Wizard, and soon find themselves stranded on a island, planting vegetables to eat, and learning how to read.

The Word Pirates is a fun story that kids will read over and over again. They’ll be giggling at the fate of the pirates as they learn how to appreciate words, rather than eat them.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


I’m Brave! I’m Strong! I’m Five!

Author: Cari Best
Illustrator: Boris Kulikov
Publisher: Margaret Ferguson Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4362-8
Pages: 32
Price: $18.99

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It’s time for bed, but this little girl isn’t sleepy. She peeks out her window, notices what’s going on around her, and shuts the drapes. She could have asked Mom and Dad for help, but she’s brave, strong, and five, and she can handle it herself.

Next she sees a menacing shadow and turns on the light to see what it is. Proud of her bravery once again, she climbs back into bed only to hear a big crash. But she also handles this problem herself, without calling Mom and Dad. A third incident is handled in the same way.

I’m Brave! I’m Strong! I’m Five! celebrates a young girl’s steps toward independence, as she confronts nighttime problems and fears by herself. This cute bedtime story would be a great addition to any youngster’s collection.

Reviewer: Alice Berger


It’s Over (Status Updates #2)

Author: Laura L. Smith
Publisher: Birch House Press
Genre: Young Adult
ISBN: 978-0-9962770-0-6
Pages: 304
Price: $11.99

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How do you hang on when the most terrible tragedy strikes? For four college roommates, their faith in God, family, and friendship are the pillars they lean on. Each of these girls faces the fact that “it’s over” in some way in their lives, and they will need to deal with their issues in order to move past them and grow from them. It’s a story of real life, and nothing is sugar-coated.

This is the second book in the Status Updates series, and even though I didn’t read book one, I was able to pick up this story quickly with no worrying that I’ve missed something. The girls’ reactions to the problems they faced are convincing and real, and teen girls will easily identify with how they felt about life and each other. I highly recommend It’s Over.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

fantasy, teen, tween

The Thorn Queen

Author: Elise Holland
Publisher: SparkPress
Genre: Fantasy / Young adult
ISBN: 978-1-943006-79-3
Pages: 256
Price: $16.95

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Meylyne has done something she’s not allowed to do in her world, and she is going to be punished for it. But before she accepts her fate, she visits the Well for advice. Surprisingly, she is encouraged to do something unexpected, which will force her to leave home. But the Well has provided her with a companion for her travels.

Her journey is not easy, and Meylyne meets some interesting characters along the way. Learning who to trust is a challenge, and she is suspicious of everyone. But as she grows stronger in her knowledge of what must be done to save the world that she knows and loves, her determination grows just as strong. And when she faces the final test, her life changes in more ways than she could ever imagine.

The Thorn Queen draws the reader in quickly, as they hope Meylyne can extricate herself from the difficult situation she finds herself in. And her perilous journey is a quick wild ride to its climax. I really enjoyed this book and I hope to see more from this very talented new author.

Reviewer: Alice Berger