Bergers Book Reviews

Dustrats: Or, The Adventures of Sir Muffin Muffinsson


Author & Illustrator: Adrià Regordosa
Publisher: POW!
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-57687-821-7
Pages: 32
Price: $16.99

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Sir Muffin Muffinsson sits beside Baby Emma, carefully watching her as she sleeps, in case her dreams get carried away. Suddenly seven dustrats, one for each day of the week, creep out from under her bed, intent on mischief. Sir Muffin chases them throughout the house with his trusty vacuum, hoping to stop them before they do too much damage. Each one has picked up on Emma’s dreams and is living the visions they contain.

Dustrats is a simple story, but the illustrations that accompany it are truly spectacular. In each, we see beautiful details of Emma’s vivid imagination. Polar regions, a fantasy forest, medieval kingdoms, and the ocean depths, as well as several other scenes come to life, as Sir Muffin chases the dustrats through the house.

Kids will enjoy playing “find the dustrat” who is hiding among each of the dream elements. Parents will have fun pointing out the picture on Emma’s wall that changes from scene to scene, as well as various stuffed animals on the shelves that move and show varying expressions. There is so much to see and notice on each page that kids will never tire of reading this book. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

July 6, 2017 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Busy on the Farm


Author: Holly Dufek
Illustrators: Paul E. Nunn and Mike Kasun
Publisher: Octane Press
Genre: Children / Farming
ISBN: 978-1937747794
Pages: 32
Price: $10.00

Publisher’s website
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It’s a beautiful morning, and Casey and her friends are ready to get to work. Baling hay, tending to the animals, and other assorted jobs keep them all busy. Casey relies on an assortment of tractors and farm equipment to maintain the farm properly. Each piece of equipment has a specific purpose, designed to make work easier and simpler for Casey.

Busy on the Farm also shares some interesting farming information that kids will be eager to read. Feed crops, hay baling techniques, precision farming, and cattle breeds, as well as other topics are briefly covered. A glossary of terms and some fun facts are also included.

Farm kids will really enjoy seeing Casey in action as she manages Happy Skies Farm. I highly recommend the Casey and Friends series of farming books.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 20, 2017 Posted by | children, farming | Leave a comment

Jilly’s Terrible Temper Tantrums and How She Outgrew Them


Author: Martha Heineman Pieper, Ph.D.
Illustrator: Jo Gershman
Publisher: Smart Love Press
Genre: Children / Parenting
ISBN: 978-0-9838664-1-1
Pages: 32
Price: $12.99

Author’s website
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Jilly is a happy kangaroo most of the time. But every once in a while she has a terrible temper tantrum. When she doesn’t get what she wants, she acts out in a big way. But mom and dad know how to talk to Jilly, as they attempt to calm her down. They offer her a hug and then reason with her demands. Jilly stops screaming and carrying on, and complies with their requests. Soon Jilly notices when she’s about to have a terrible temper tantrum, and runs to mom for a hug instead. She’s learned how to handle her frustrations on her own.

Jilly’s parents have adopted the Smart Love® approach to managing children’s behavior, which avoids both the negativity of discipline and the laxity of permissiveness. Jilly’s Terrible Temper Tantrums and How She Outgrew Them shows Jilly’s parents in action as they love her through her unacceptable behavior, serving as a model for both children and adults. This book would be a great resource for parents of young children.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 16, 2017 Posted by | children, parenting | Leave a comment

Find Mom’s Wok


Author: Jung Hee Kim
Illustrator: Jung Ah Noh
Publisher: Tantan Publishing
Genre: Children / Chinese Culture
ISBN: 978-1-939248-23-7
Pages: 38
Price: $17.95

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Shao Ming needs to bring her mother’s special wok to her uncle’s house for a feast. While walking through the streets as the people are celebrating the Zhongqiu Jie Festival, Shao Ming puts it down to watch a performing dragon. As she turns to leave, she suddenly realizes she has lost the wok.

Hoping to find the special wok, Shao Ming visits the shops and restaurants in the area that smell like food. Her mom’s wok has a dragon carved on the handle, so it should be easy to identify when she sees it. Along the way, she samples Szechuan, Shanghai, Guangdong, and Beijing cooking. Finally, Shao Ming realizes she is very late to the feast, and reluctantly and tearfully heads toward her uncle’s house. But when she arrives, she finds a very happy surprise.

Find Mom’s Wok gives kids a fun and colorful introduction to Chinese culture. Along with the story, sidebar notes explain some of the food items and vocabulary of the text. The end pages share some of China’s history and cuisine.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 6, 2017 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

I AM: 40 Reasons to Trust God


Author: Diane Stortz
Illustrator: Diane Le Feyer
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Children / Bible stories
ISBN: 978-0-5291-2066-3
Pages: 224
Price: $16.99

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God is revealed in the Bible in the many names He gives us. Creator, Good Shepherd, I AM, and Immanuel are just some of the forty names of God presented in this storybook of the Bible.

Beginning with the Genesis account of creation and ending with a white horse in the book of Revelation, short segments of the Bible are paraphrased and illustrated. Each includes some thoughts regarding the story’s meaning, plus a bridge to the next segment. Kids are also given the Bible references if they want to read the actual stories in the Bible. Illustrations are done in a style reminiscent of today’s animated movies.

Paraphrases make me uncomfortable, since so much can be lost in the author’s attempts to make Bible stories readable for kids. Thankfully, most of these stay true to the intent of the Bible passage, except for the Last Supper. The author chose to insert the word “like” in the words Jesus spoke in instituting the Eucharist. Rather than the actual spoken words of Jesus, kids will see “This bread is like my body” and “this drink is like my blood.” A heavy-duty black marker quickly solves the problem, making this a nice Bible story book for kids.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

June 2, 2017 Posted by | children, Christian | 4 Comments

Animal Adventures: Sharks


Aathor: Cynthia Stierle
Publisher: Silver Dolphin Books
Genre: Animals / Children
ISBN: 978-1-62686-487-0
Pages: 40
Price: $21.95

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Sharks are fascinating creatures, but how much do kids really know about them? How do they breathe, what do they eat, how do they reproduce, and who are their friends and enemies? In using Animal Adventures: Sharks, kids will get to read all about these dangerous ocean-dwellers and play with the materials provided. Each kit contains a 40-page reference book, six plastic sharks, four 3-D models to build, 20 fact cards, and a dramatic seven piece diorama to create and decorate with 54 reusable stickers.

Kids who enjoying learning about animals will love this kit. This is a great resource for classroom or home use.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 26, 2017 Posted by | animals, children | Leave a comment

The Hand Manual


Author: Sung Eun Kim
Illustrator: Ji Won Lee
Publisher: Tantan Publishing
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-939248-15-2
Pages: 34
Price: $17.95

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Young children may not realize just how important their hands are. The Hand Manual gives kids an overview of this fascinating body part and all the amazing things it can do.

Illustrations show how hands can be used for everyday actions like brushing their teeth, scratching their back, pressing a button, or measuring the weight of an object. Hands are also needed to play games, create art or music, communicate, and share emotions. Kids are reminded to take good care of these hands by washing them well, wearing gloves when it’s cold, and keeping fingernails neatly clipped.

Preschools and Kindergartens will enjoy having this “hands-on fun” resource in the classroom.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 24, 2017 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

How to Avoid the Fearsome Cat


Author: Yoon Jeong Choi
Illustrator: Hyun Kyeong Shim
Publisher: Tantan Publishing
Genre: Children / Mathematics
ISBN: 978-1-939248-14-5
Pages: 38
Price: $16.95

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Fifteen mice living in a storage shed on a farm watch the blizzard raging outside. Inside it’s cozy and warm, and there are boxes stacked around them, filled with food. So when the cat delivers a message that he intends to eat the mice for dinner, they are understandably upset. How can they continue to live in their cozy shed while avoiding the fearsome cat?

One elder mouse remembers a story about another cat long ago and how the mice defeated him. It involved hanging something around his neck. But what was it? As the fifteen mice debate, many ideas are discussed and they don’t all agree. So they begin to vote on their choices, recording their votes in various ways. They line up in rows, gather chestnuts into a pile, and draw chestnuts in a column. In all three discussions, it’s clear which choice is the winner. And when they do come up with a terrific plan, the fearsome cat troubles them no longer.

How to Avoid the Fearsome Cat is a great resource in teaching kids graphs and mathematical thinking. Using various techniques in the story, as well as exercises in the back pages, kids are asked to determine the results of the data they collect. Kids will have fun learning their graphs while watching the mice defeat the fearsome cat.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 18, 2017 Posted by | children, mathematics | Leave a comment

Juan’s Sweet and Spicy Memory


Author: Hee Jung Yoon
Illustrator: Christopher Corr
Publisher: Tantan Publishing
Genre: Children / Mexican culture
ISBN: 978-1-939248-12-1
Pages: 38
Price: $17.95

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Juan is excited to spend the day with his friend Pancho, celebrating Cinco de Mayo. He begins the day by eating tortillas that his mother and grandmother prepared by hand, and then goes to the plaza, where people are enjoying the festival. Soon he and Pancho meet a tourist family, and they decide to give them a tour of some of the places they enjoy.

First, they visit Juan’s father at the taco restaurant. Next stop is an art museum, followed by Tequila village. More food and a mariachi band ends their fun-filled day. When the tourists leave, Juan is sad to see them go.

Juan’s Sweet and Spicy Memory has Juan leading “tourist” readers on a colorful journey through Mexican culture. Fun facts about Mexico and its cuisine are included within the story itself and in the back pages. Kids will enjoy making this journey with Juan and the tourist family.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 10, 2017 Posted by | children | Leave a comment

Tina Nordström’s Recipes for Young Cooks


Author: Tina Nordström
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Genre: Cooking / Children
ISBN: 978-1-5107-1706-0
Pages: 112
Price: $16.99

Buy it at Amazon

Kids throughout the ages have always been able to whip up a batch of cookies, but how many have tackled an entire gourmet meal? For those who have always wanted to try, Tina Nordström’s Recipes for Young Cooks gives them the tools to do it.

Before they get started, Kitchen Basics 101 covers what kids need to know to navigate the kitchen. Tools, terminology, and techniques are provided that will help them master the 28 recipes. These are categorized by Good Morning!, Cooking Weekday Meals, Dazzle the Grownups, Hanging Out With Friends, and Sweets. Each recipe covers a two page spread with photos of the finished product as well as ingredients lists and simple step-by-step instructions.

Adults would also find this cookbook useful, since the recipes are for meals enjoyed by all. However, those who don’t have access to specialty grocery stores might be limited in finding some ingredients. Kids can do these (mostly) by themselves, but they might enjoy getting together for a cooking session with friends or preparing a meal with a parent. I highly recommend Recipes for Young Cooks.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

May 8, 2017 Posted by | children, cooking | Leave a comment