children

Herring Hotel


Author: Didier Lévy
Illustrator: Serge Bloch
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 978-0-500-65212-1
Pages: 40
Price: $14.95

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There once was a very nice hotel called the Sherrington Hotel, but some time ago, it lost a few letters, so now it’s the Herring Hotel. But along with the missing letters, it’s also fallen into disrepair. Water leaks through the ceiling in dozens of places, but the guests don’t seem to care. They’ve been there forever, and they really don’t want to leave.

Gabriel lives there with his parents, and he likes to spend time with their unusual guests, especially Mrs. Kettle, also known as Tina the 23rd, exiled Queen of Kettlippia. One day the damage to the hotel is much too bad, and they will all need to pack their things and find someplace else to live. But Mrs. Kettle has a big surprise for them all.

The guests of the Herring Hotel are an eccentric bunch, but they form a lovable family. When forced to leave, they struggle to control their tears. Kids will love Gabriel’s interactions with them all, especially Mrs. Kettle. I highly recommend Herring Hotel.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, Christian

Night Night Devotions


Author: Amy Parker
Illustrator: Virginia Allyn
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Children / Christian
ISBN: 978-1-4002-0890-6
Pages: 208
Price: $16.99

Author’s website
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Bedtime is a great time to ponder the goodness of God. Night Night Devotions is a collection of 90 devotions for children to meditate upon as they fall asleep.

Devotions are broken into two sections – Old Testament and New Testament. The table of contents provides the topic along with the Bible verse, so kids can choose the appropriate devotion to fit their day. Each devotion is two pages long, and includes a Bible verse, the devotion itself, and a four line rhyming prayer. Then the devotion closes with “Night Night, God” along with a message for kids that builds on the devotional topic.

Like all of Amy Parker’s Night Night books, Night Night Devotions shares positive messages about God and his love for children. This book would be a wonderful additional to every child’s bedtime routine.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children

Henry and Bea


Author & Illustrator: Jessixa Bagley
Publisher: Neal Porter Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-8234-4284-3
Pages: 32
Price: $18.99

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Henry and Bea are best friends. They love to play together, and they always seem to know just what the other is thinking. But one day, Henry doesn’t want to talk to Bea anymore. Instead, he sits alone in silence, avoiding everyone. Bea doesn’t know what happened, or if she did something wrong, but she keeps reaching out to see if there is anything she can do.

Finally, on a field trip to a farm, Henry tells Bea why he’s upset. His cat, Buddy, died, and he’s very sad. Bea gently comforts him, and they share a companionable silence. Then they decide on a symbolic act to honor Buddy’s memory, just as a storm begins. They both hope they will see a rainbow.

Children are understandably sad when a pet crosses the rainbow bridge. Henry and Bea demonstrates how to handle a friend’s grief in a positive and supportive manner, even when it appears that the person no longer wants to be friends. This touching and sweet book would be a perfect addition to any child’s collection.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

acting, children, tween

Monologues for Kids and Tweens


Author: Mike Kimmel
Publisher: Ben Rose Creative Arts
Genre: Acting / Children / Middle-grade
ISBN: 978-0998151328
Pages: 150
Price: $14.99

Author’s website
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Practice makes perfect in the world of acting, so it’s no surprise that kids are always looking for good pieces to perform. Monologues for Kids and Tweens gives them some great new material to work with.

Kids think and speak differently from adults, and these monologues are written with that concept in mind. But young actors are also encouraged to personalize the monologues if they want, to make them truly their own. Most of the monologues are designed to be around one minute long, although some could run two to three minutes. They contain humor and drama, as well as some really good advice for kids. All contain positive messages, and there is no inappropriate humor or vulgarity.

Monologues for Kids and Tweens would be perfect for young actors looking to improve their skills. I highly recommend it.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children

The Seed Who Was Afraid to Be Planted


Author: Anthony DeStefano
Illustrator: Erwin Madrid
Publisher: Sophia Institute Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1622828289
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

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A little seed lives in a drawer with other seeds. Sometimes a man comes and opens the drawer, taking one away with him, and no one ever sees it again. The seed lives in fear that the man will come for him and something terrible will happen.

One day, the dreaded moment arrives, and the seed is carried away. He feels sad and lonely when he’s planted, and contemplates his fate. But a miraculous transformation starts taking place. He begins to grow, and soon he’s a tall tree. Now he can see the sun, the blue sky, and all the people and animals around him. He is happy because he has fulfilled his destiny.

The rhyming text of this story is perfect, and the illustrations are stunning. While there is no direct religious message presented in the story, Bible quotes are provided at the end of the book. These include a reference to the parable of the seed that must fall to the ground and die in order to bear fruit.

Kids find change frightening, and they will relate to the seed feeling fearful of leaving the safety and comfort of the drawer. Seeing the seed accept and finally embrace his transformation will help them see that sometimes change can be very good. I highly recommend The Seed Who Was Afraid to Be Planted.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children

Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales


Author: Jen Campbell
Illustrator: Katie Harnett
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65175-9
Pages: 32
Price: $17.95

Author’s website
Illustrator’s website
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Luna is planning a surprise birthday party for her dragon, Franklin. To distract him while the guests arrive, she takes him to a magical bookstore. While they browse, her pet tortoise, Neil, opens up a very dangerous looking, locked book. In a flash, he disappears inside.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Franklin and Luna dive inside the book, looking for Neil. They run into three pigs, a witch, a knight, and others, and pass a glass slipper shop. No one has seen Neil. After nearly colliding with a wolf, they ask once again about Neil, and the wolf leads them to a race between her tortoise and a hare. Finally, a giant shows up on the scene, alerting them to the fact that the book is closing, and they’d better get out soon before they’re trapped for good.

Everyone wants to join Franklin and Luna on their trip back to the real world, and soon everyone tumbles out of the book. Franklin’s birthday party bash is the best ever, as new friends join old ones. Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales is a creative spin on the classics, and is highly recommended.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children

Stress Stinks


Author: Bryan Smith
Illustrator: Lisa M. Griffin
Publisher: Boys Town Press
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-944882-46-4
Pages: 32
Price: $10.95

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Amelia is seriously stressed out. School homework and tests, friend issues, and softball practice are upsetting her and she’s ready to snap. Her mom realizes she’s feeling too much stress, and encourages her to do something to change her thinking from negative to positive. Counting to ten, having a healthy snack, listening to some good music, and tensing and releasing are some of the methods she shows Amelia. Soon Amelia is handling stress so much better and she can demonstrate these helpful ideas to her classmates.

Stress Stinks shows children positive ways to manage the stress in their lives. Tips for parents and educators are included in the appendix. I highly recommend this helpful book for kids.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children, history

So You Want to be a Roman Soldier?


Author: Georgia Amson-Bradshaw
Illustrator: Takayo Akiyama
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
ISBN: 978-0-500-65183-4
Pages: 96
Price: $14.95

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If you’ve dreamed of being powerful, earning lots of money, traveling the world, and retiring rich, the life of a Roman soldier might be for you. But are you sure you really want to be a Roman soldier? This handy illustrated guide shows kids exactly what’s involved in this dangerous warrior life.

Kate, Eddie, and Angus are in a museum, looking at the display on ancient Rome. Soon they are transported back in time to the year 100, and are advised by Junia, who explains what they can expect if they really want to be Roman soldiers. First they’ll need to fill out their application form, pass the entrance exam, and take the military oath. Military gear needs to be selected and cleaned carefully, along with their weapons. Finally they’ll need to decide on joining the cavalry, the auxilia, the navy, or the Praetorian guard. Avoiding punishment and knowing their enemies will be useful skills to ensure survival on military campaigns.

The Roman military life comes alive in this tongue-in-cheek look at how to be a Roman soldier. 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 severed body parts and smelly things.) I highly recommend So You Want to be a Roman Soldier?

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children

Little Fish



Author & Illustrator: Emily Rand
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65162-9
Pages: 10
Price: $24.95

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Two tiny orange goby fish are frolicking in the waves when suddenly a giant shoal swims by and sweeps one fish away. Little fish is alone on an adventure, visiting a turtle, avoiding a hungry grouper, darting quickly away from a shark, and finally arriving safely back at his home.

This unique carousel picture book actually folds out completely, anchored by a ribbon that holds the two covers together, inside out. Children can follow the scenes in 3-D, as animals and scenery pop out from the page. (See image above.)

Bright colors, a happy ending, and a fun cut-out pop-up book will delight small children, as they follow the little fish around and around each scene. I highly recommend Little Fish.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

children

Button & Popper


Author & Illustrator: Oili Tanninen
Publisher: Thames & Hudson
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-0-500-65201-5
Pages: 32
Price: $16.95

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Button and Popper live in an apple tree with their parents and ten siblings. But the weather is turning colder and there are no more apples to eat. The pixie family must find a new home. Mother and Father try to find a new place to live, but no one wants to let a pixie family with twelve children stay there.

Taking matters into their own hands, Button and Popper set out to tackle the problem themselves. After nearly exhausting all the possibilities, they spy Professor Prilli at the fish market. A basket switcheroo lands them in Professor Prilli’s home – a very nice home that would make the pixies happy. They’re shocked when the Professor announces he’s going on a long journey, and the pixie family is most welcome to stay there while he’s gone.

Button & Popper was originally published in Finland in 1964, during a time the author despaired of finding a suitable place to rent with two small children. She only used three colors in illustrating it, so it would be cheaper to print, and therefore more affordable to people who wanted to buy it. The cute story and happy ending will leave children smiling.

Reviewer: Alice Berger