Posted in Book Review

REVIEW: I Got You A Present by Mike Erskine-Kellie & Susan McLennan

Title: I Got You A Present

Author: Mike Erskine-Kellie & Susan McLennan | Illustrator: Cale Atkinson

Publisher: Kids Can Press| Published: April 7, 2020

Theme: Friendship and Perseverance

Character Origin: Animal

Book Type: Picture Book  | Pages: 32

Ages: 3-7 | Book Level: — | Lexile Measure:

Book Synopsis…

A quest for the perfect birthday present leads to ever grander (and ever more imperfect) gift ideas in this clever metafiction story that’s hilarious any day of the year.

“I wanted to get you the greatest present ever, our narrator tells us. But somehow, none of the best ideas seemed to pan out. First, there was the pair of hand-knitted birthday socks (have you ever tried knitting birthday socks). Then, the ten-scoop ice cream cone (a disaster to carry), the magic kit (it disappeared, just like magic!), the apple juice-fueled jet pack (still a few kinks to work out) and the dinosaur (I couldn’t find one anywhere). And now, time has run out, and our narrator still has nothing to give. Or, maybe there is something after all. Something that contains all those awesome gifts in one. Something that can be enjoyed again and again, just by turning the pages…

In their debut picture book, Emmy Award-winning children’s television writers Mike Erskine-Kellie and Susan McLennan have created a laugh-out-loud story filled with heart. The metafiction approach (speaking directly to “you”) and fun story together with the antic exuberance of Cale Atkinson’s bold and colorful illustrations make this a lively read-aloud that will keep even the youngest children engaged. Though a book about finding the perfect birthday present is itself the perfect birthday present, it’s also simply a delightful read for any time of year. It also offers an excellent character education lesson on perseverance.

My overall thoughts…

If you are looking for an adorable book to share with your little ones, you’ve just found it. The reader goes on a humorous yet delightful adventure on every page. There is the sweetest message of perseverance and friendship that will melt your heart.  I felt all warm and fuzzy on the inside while reading this and even more so at the end. I imagine that you’ll have a similar visceral experience as well. The overall story is engaging and entertaining. I bet you’ll enjoy a snicker or two. You’ll close the book reminded of the true value of friendship.

The illustrations and text…

The illustrations were beautifully drawn in Photoshop. I loved how the pages had very little white space, and the background colors complimented the artwork nicely. The font size made the text easy to read. I enjoyed the flow of the book. The word choice was appropriate, and a new reader could handle it with ease. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be anticipating a sequel.  I Got You A Present will soon become a family favorite and have the biggest pessimist anticipating their birthday. 

I’ll give it…

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Posted in Book Review

REVIEW: The Heath Cousins and the Moonstone Cave by Eileen Hobbs

Publisher: XLIBRIS | Published: October 31, 2017

Title: The Heath Cousins and the Moonstone Cave

Author: Eileen Hobbs | Illustrator: N/A

Theme: Adventure and Teamwork

Character Origin: Human and Animal

Book Type: Chapter Book  | Pages: 74

Ages: 8-12 | Book Level: — | Lexile Measure:

Book Synopsis…

Addie B. and her cousins Jack, Beanie, and Bodie are mourning the loss of their grandmother Winnie. While visiting their grandfather’s beach house in Maine, Addie receives a mysterious treasure box once owned by her grandmother. In it is a moonstone ring and a mysterious poem from her grandmother. The poem leads Addie and her cousins to nearby Moonstone Cave where, together, they enter a secret and magical garden and embark on an adventure of a lifetime. Along the way, they meet wonderful friends like Gemma, who reminds them all of a younger version of their grandmother; Jumani, a large white wolf; and Jadira, a strange and smelly creature whom they grow to love. During the adventure, they learn the most important lesson of all: they must work together if they want to escape the dangers ahead of them and find their way back home.

My overall thoughts…

This book really brought to mind that love can heal the deepest pain and bond together those that, at first sight, are so different. Like many of us, summer is a time that we look forward to doing things we enjoy doing, not forced to do the things we dread. However, sometimes, it’s in the uncomfortable and unexpected moments that we learn the most about ourselves. Hobbs does a great job of merging this concept into a relatable experience that kids can appreciate. She also lovingly addresses loss in a very touching yet meaningful way. 

I was drawn into the story right away. Each of Hobbs’ main characters has a layer of complexity that adds to their genuineness and authenticity. It felt as though the reader was alongside the cousins on their adventure. That in itself is no small feat. I enjoyed how fantasy and reality were interwoven together, each telling its own unique story. Additionally, I enjoyed how the story started with the cousins being really separate and sort of incongruent to one another. However, through their shared experiences and individual gifts are they able to overcome the challenges ahead of them. 

The font size aligns with the recommended age group for this book. There are only a couple of pictures, but they match well with the text. The chapters are short but are filled with great content and quite descriptive. There was no lag in the story; it flowed well throughout the chapters. The Heath Cousins and the Moonstone Cave is well-written for the audience, and I look forward to reading the other books in the series.

I’ll give it…