Review: Gamayun Tales II

Title: Gamayun Tales II
Author: Alexander Utkin
Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Nobrow
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Enter a world of magic and adventure in this stunning series based on traditional Russian folklore.

Alexander Utkin’s Gamayun Tales are fresh and modern adaptations of familiar Slavic folktales, teamed with bold and beautiful illustrations. Jam-packed with stories of magical quests and talking animals, golden chests that turn into palaces and encounters with terrifying Water Spirits, there’s no end to the adventure in these books! Utkin’s striking art style takes inspiration from classic mid-century Disney animation, drawing readers in for a colorful journey even if they have no familiarty with Russian mythology.

Review:

This graphic novel collection tells stories inspired by Russian folklore. Baba Yaga was featured in some of these stories, making deals with the characters traveling through the woods. This collection is a continuation of Gamayun Tales I.

The longest tale in this book was about a dying King who sent his sons to find a cure for him. The King promised to renounce the crown and pass it on to the son who brought him the cure. Each of the sons had a turn to search for the cure, and they encountered many adventures along the way.

I love how interconnected the tales are in these two collections, Gamayun Tales I and II. The stories aren’t told chronologically but they follow certain themes and characters in a way that makes sense. Some tales from the first collection were explained in this one, so it was nice to see the continuation from the first book.

Gamayun Tales II is a fun and beautiful graphic novel!

Thank you Nobrow for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

How to Survive in the North by Luke Healy

Other books in the series:

Have you read Gamayun Tales II? What did you think of it?

Review: Verity Fairy: Snow White

Title: Verity Fairy: Snow White
Author: Caroline Wakeman
Genre: Children’s, Fantasy
Publisher: DK Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 29, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

This sweet early chapter book provides a brand new perspective on the classic fairy tale Snow White. 

This delightful book with beautiful, illustrated characters is a magical retelling of the classic Snow White fairy tale with a twist.

In this captivating interpretation of a classic fairy tale, children can rediscover the much-loved story of Snow White while exploring the kingdom of the fairies–a place where all of the classic fairy tales coexist and intertwine. In this retelling of Snow White, youngsters can follow Verity and her fairy friends in the Fairy-tale Kingdom and see how they help good prevail over evil, making sure everyone lives happily ever after. Verity means truth, and that is exactly what she does: she tells the truth, ALL the time, and it often gets her into a lot of trouble! It’s a spellbinding behind-the-scenes look at the battle between Snow White and her evil stepmother, with an extra sprinkling of fairy dust. Gorgeous characters, simple text, and a splash of humor make Verity Fairy: The Real Story of Snow White a captivating book to share. A perfect gift for every young child to enjoy, it will spark curiosity and imagination, while gently encouraging conversation around the difference between right and wrong.

Review:

The fairy named Verity is sent into the fairytale Snow White to be the voice of her stepmother’s mirror. Verity must make sure that Snow White stays alive. However, Verity can only tell the truth, so when she’s asked who is the loveliest of them all, she answers Snow White. This makes the Wicked Queen want to kill Snow White, so Verity had to work to counteract the Wicked Queen’s attack on Snow White.

This story was a fun twist on the fairytale of Snow White. The character of the Queen’s talking mirror isn’t prominent in most adaptations. Since Verity was inside the mirror, and she could only speak the truth, she couldn’t lie to the Queen about who was the loveliest. The only potential problem with this narrative in a children’s book, is that Verity causes problems when she tells the truth. The purpose isn’t to teach kids not to tell the truth, though the truth got Verity into trouble.

I liked that some words were defined at the bottom of the pages. Words that may be new to young readers had definitions. I loved books with those kinds of learning moments when I was a kid because then I could learn words without having to stop reading and look in a dictionary. This was a great addition to this book.

Verity Fairy: Snow White is a fun children’s fairytale retelling!

Thank you DK Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Verity Fairy: Sleeping Beauty by Caroline Wakeman

Hope the Happiness Fairy by Daisy Meadows

Other books in the series:

  • Verity Fairy: Sleeping Beauty

Have you read Verity Fairy: Snow White? What did you think of it?

Review: The Tea Dragon Tapestry (Tea Dragon #3)

Title: The Tea Dragon Tapestry (Tea Dragon #3)
Author: Kay O’Neill
Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel, Fantasy, LGBT
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: June 1, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Join Greta and Minette once more for the heartwarming conclusion of the award-winning Tea Dragon series!

Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng’s care, Greta still can’t chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon. As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief. Meanwhile, Minette receives a surprise package from the monastery where she was once training to be a prophetess. Thrown into confusion about her path in life, the shy and reserved Minette finds that the more she opens her heart to others, the more clearly she can see what was always inside.

Told with the same care and charm as the previous installments of the Tea Dragon series, The Tea Dragon Tapestry welcomes old friends and new into a heartfelt story of purpose, love, and growth.

Review:

Greta’s Tea Dragon, Ginseng, is having trouble adjusting to life without her former owner. Greta tries to help Ginseng while also figuring out how to impress a master blacksmith enough to take her on as an apprentice. Her friend, Minette, receives a gift from the monastery where she used to live, which brings back some old memories of her ancestors. Greta, Minette, and their friends and family have to learn how to adjust to the changes in their lives.

This is the final book in the Tea Dragon series. This is a great series because it has so much diversity. Some characters are non-binary. Most of the characters are like humans in behavior, but some have animal-like features. This gives them a diverse variety of appearances.

An important theme in this story was adjusting to life changes. Greta had to figure out how to make her Tea Dragon feel comfortable enough with her. Minette was adjusting to her new place with this group of friends. She had to learn to accept her history to be able to move on with her future.

The Tea Dragon Tapestry is a great conclusion to this graphic novel series.

Thank you Oni Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Princess Princess Every After by Kay O’Neill

Dewdrop by Kay O’Neill

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Tea Dragon Tapestry? What did you think of it?

Review: Gamayun Tales I

Title: Gamayun Tales I
Author: Alexander Utkin
Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel, Fantasy
Publisher: Nobrow
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: March 10, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Enter a world of magic and adventure in this stunning series based on traditional Russian folklore. Collected into a beautiful new paperback edition for the first time!

Alexander Utkin’s Gamayun Tales are fresh and modern adaptations of familiar Russian folktales, teamed with bold and beautiful illustrations. Jam-packed with stories of magical quests and talking animals, golden chests that turn into palaces and encounters with terrifying Water Spirits, there’s no end to the adventure in these books!

Series Overview: The Gamayun Tales are colorful stories based on Slavic mythology.

Review:

This graphic novel is a collection of stories told by Gamayun, a bird in Russian folklore who can see the future. The tales begin with talking animals, then they tell the story of a merchant and his family and the deals he makes with kings without understanding the consequences.

Each of the tales in this book were connected but they could be read on their own as well. Sometimes folktales with a moral or a lesson can have a tragic outcomes. I found that these stories had positive endings, even if they didn’t seem so at first. Everything worked out in the end, which makes it a fun, positive story for kids.

This was a beautiful book. It is printed on thick paper, which makes it feel like an art book. The illustrations had vibrant colours that made the story a fun read. The beautiful illustrations matched the tone of the folktales perfectly.

This is such a beautiful graphic novel of Russian folktales. The story continues in Gamayun Tales II, so I’m excited to read it soon!

Thank you Nobrow for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Gamayun Tales II by Alexander Utkin

How to Survive in the North by Luke Healy

Other books in the series:

  • Gamayun Tales II

Have you read Gamayun Tales I? What did you think of it?

Review: Megabat and the Not-Happy Birthday (Megabat #4)

Title: Megabat and the Not-Happy Birthday (Megabat #4)
Author: Anna Humphrey, Kass Reich (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 2, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

It’s Daniel’s birthday, and Megabat wants to join in all the fun, but his excitement gets the best of him and suddenly the birthday celebrations are on the brink of disaster. The next laugh-out-loud book in this sweet and funny chapter book series featuring a talking bat.

Daniel isn’t in the birthday party mood. He hates his new glasses — they’re dorky, and he feels silly in them.

Megabat LOVES Daniel’s new face windows! They make him dizzy and his tummy feel funny. And he loves parties even more!

Daniel starts planning his party, and things are looking up — all of his friends are excited, and he has some fun games planned. Plus: presents!

Megabat’s party excitement is losing steam. He has to hide the whole time. He can’t eat any of the delicious buttermelon. And he can’t participate in any games, even though it’s the thing he wants most in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD.

When Megabat loses his temper and breaks Daniel’s best birthday gift, he realizes he’s been a bad friend and gives Daniel what he thinks is the best possible gift: he runs away. But being alone in the big, wide, world is harder than he thought. Kass Reich’s adorable illustrations paired with Anna Humphrey’s hilarious text make for another unforgettable Megabat adventure, one that will appeal to Megabat fans and newcomers!

Review:

Megabat is Daniel’s talking pet bat. It’s Daniel’s birthday and Megabat is excited because he’s never been to a birthday party. The problem is that no one else knows about Megabat, so he can’t take part in the party with Daniel’s friends. Megabat takes out his anger by breaking Daniel’s birthday present and running away. However, Megabat quickly realizes life isn’t as easy or fun without Daniel.

When I saw a Megabat book about a birthday coming out, I knew I had to review it on my birthday! I love Megabat. This is the third Megabat book that I’ve read and they keep getting better each time.

I don’t like bats as animals (I’ve had a couple of bats find their way into my house in the night and that wasn’t fun!) but I love Megabat! He’s not like regular bats because he can speak. He often gets his words mixed up and uses them incorrectly, which is so cute. He says “mine” and “yours” instead of “I” and “you.” One of my favourite Megabat phrases was “face windows.” I didn’t know what that meant at first, but then Daniel started talking about his glasses. I think “face windows” is such a cute way to describe eyeglasses!

This is such a fun series! I highly recommend it for young readers!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Megabat is a Fraidybat by Anna Humphrey and Kass Reich (illustrator)

Other books in the series:

Have you read Megabat and the Not-Happy Birthday? What did you think of it?

Review: Rebel Girls Lead: 25 Tales of Powerful Women

Title: Rebel Girls Lead: 25 Tales of Powerful Women
Author: Rebel Girls
Genre: Children’s, Nonfiction
Publisher: Rebel Girls
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: January 26, 2021
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Rebel Girls Lead: 25 Tales of Powerful Women celebrates the incredible and inspiring stories of 25 women leaders in politics, business, sports, activism, and more, all written in fairy tale form. It is part of the award-winning Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series.

Reach for new heights with Vice President Kamala Harris. Organize voter registration with Stacey Abrams. Spread messages of kindness with Lady Gaga. And captain a team of Olympic gymnasts with Aly Raisman.  

This collection of 25 stories includes the most beloved stories of leadership from the first three volumes of the New York Times best-selling series, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. And also features 11 brand new tales of women’s activism, bravery, and vision.

Rebel Girls Lead celebrates the leadership of women from Michelle Obama to Malala Yousafzai. It is illustrated by female artists from around the world.

Review:

This book tells the stories of 25 different women leaders in the world. These women include politicians like Kamala Harris, the Vice President of the United States, and Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. There were also entertainers, such as Lady Gaga, and athletes, such as Aly Raisman. Each of these women made an impact on their communities and the world.

I wasn’t familiar with some of the women in this book, so I learned a lot. Rigoberta Menchú Tum fought for equal rights in Guatemala, and won the Nobel Peace Prize. Pat Summitt was a basketball player and coach, who had the most wins of any coach in NCAA basketball history when she retired in 2012. I’m glad that kids today will learn about these extraordinary women, because I didn’t know about them when I was growing up.

It’s so important to have books that celebrate what women can do. Many of these women weren’t born into lives of privilege, so they became successful leaders by working hard and defying the odds. These women prove that anyone can follow their dreams and make a difference in the world.

This is a great book!

Thank you Rebel Girls for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women by Elena Favilli, Francesca Cavallo

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women who Changed the World by Elena Favilli

Have you read Rebel Girls Lead? What did you think of it?

Review: The Case of the Disappearing Pets (Mina Mistry (Sort of) Investigates #2)

Title: The Case of the Disappearing Pets (Mina Mistry (Sort of) Investigates #2)
Author: Angie Lake, Ellie O’Shea (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Mystery
Publisher: Sweet Cherry Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 4, 2021
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Disappearing hamsters? Vanishing toads? Missing snails? This needs investigating.

This looks like a case for Mina Mistry… 

An explosion at the local pet shop shows Mina that this pet palaver can’t be a coincidence. But why is someone stealing all the animals? What do they want them for?

About the Mina Mistry Investigates series: 
Introducing Mina Mistry, witty schoolgirl detective and soon-to-be Private Investigator. Mina Mistry Investigates is a fun detective series packed with comic-style illustrations and mystery-solving throughout.

Great for reluctant readers aged 7+ and fans of Planet Omar and Dork Diaries.

Review:

After a pet presentation at Mina’s school, a bunch of the pets who were brought in by students go missing. Then, there was an explosion at the pet store in town, with all the animals in the store going missing as well. Mina Mistry starts investigating the disappearance of all the pets.

This was another entertaining Mina Mistry mystery. I found some parts gross, like the bugs that children kept as pets, but young readers would probably find that funny. The illustrations were great at telling the story. They made the story a quick read. Some of the illustrations were funny, such as the way Mina’s best friend Holly would dress her hamster up in clothes and jewelry. Her hamster, Harriet, was famous on social media for all of her glamorous clothes. I loved those illustrations because they really showed how fashionable the hamster looked in clothes.

I didn’t really like the ending of the mystery. There were multiple solutions to the various different kinds of missing pets. Since they were all investigated together, I thought the different missing pets would have been connected, but they had each disappeared to a different place.

This was a great illustrated children’s book, but the solution to the mystery was disappointing.

Thank you Sweet Cherry Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Case of the Loathsome School Lunches by Angie Lake

Other books in the series:

Have you read The Case of the Disappearing Pets? What did you think of it?

Review: Maya’s Big Scene

Title: Maya’s Big Scene
Author: Isabelle Arsenault
Genre: Children’s, Picture book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Maya’s imagination sets the stage for her friends to act out her feminist play. Can she make room in her queendom for the will of the people? A funny picture book about leadership and fair play for fans of King Baby and Olivia.

Maya is a bossy, burgeoning playwright and loves to have the kids in her Mile End neighborhood bring her scenes to life. Her latest work, about a feminist revolution, is almost ready for public performance. But as her actors begin to express their costume preferences, Maya quickly learns that their visions may not match hers . . . and as both Director and Queen, Maya demands obedience and loyalty in her queendom of equality! But she soon realizes — with the help of her friends and subjects — that absolute bossiness corrupts absolutely!

Review:

Maya has invited her friends to put on a feminist play with her. She will run a queendom and they will all be equal. However, once they begin to get costumes and figure out their parts, the other kids realize there isn’t really equality for all in this play that features a queendom ruled by one person.

This story starts out with a great premise of the children creating a world with equality. They want everyone in the play to be equals. The problem with this comes up pretty quickly when Maya bosses them around. The other kids realize it isn’t an equal society if one person is in charge. This teaches them firsthand what an equal society would look like.

I loved the illustrations in this book. Most of them were black and white, with some of the costumes and props in colour. This highlighted the purples, reds, and pinks that Maya wanted them to wear in her queendom. I also liked that the children were playing in Maya’s backyard, but her neighbours’ yards were visible in the images too. This makes it more realistic, since there would be more houses beside her house in real life. It shows that there is life beyond the pages in the book.

This is a cute picture book!

Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Colette’s Lost Pet by Isabelle Arsenault

Albert’s Quiet Quest by Isabelle Arsenault

Other books in the series:

  • Colette’s Lost Pet
  • Albert’s Quiet Quest

Have you read Maya’s Big Scene? What did you think of it?

Review: Calling All Witches! The Girls Who Left Their Mark on the Wizarding World

Title: Calling All Witches! The Girls Who Left Their Mark on the Wizarding World
Author: Laurie Calkhoven, Violet Tobacco (illustrator)
Genre: Fantasy, Children’s
Publisher: Scholastic
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 28, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

For all the girls as clever as Hermione Granger, as dedicated as Tina Goldstein, and as fierce as Minerva McGonagall, this incredible compendium is packed with the stories of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts’ most amazing heroines! Complete with gorgeous, full-color illustrations on every spread, fans can relive their favorite movie moments featuring the most empowering witches of our age. Explore the many ways these women built, enriched, and saved the wizarding world, and get inspired by their stories in this compelling handbook–a must-have for fans!

Review:

This book is about all the powerful witches in the Wizarding World. The featured witches were from both the Harry Potter series and the Fantastic Beasts movies. Some were obviously powerful, like Hermione and Molly Weasley. Others were very minor characters who played an important role in the Wizarding World, like Arabella Figg and Pansy Parkinson.

Unfortunately, the wizarding fandom was let down this year with the hate speech that has been spread by the author. However, this series and world has played such an important role in my life, including inspiring my career as a writer. I was so excited to read this book, which is written by another author, because I love reading studies of my favourite books. This book showed the variety of women in the series as well as their important roles in the story.

One warning before picking up this book is that it gives away all the spoilers. Most of the major plot points in the series were used as examples throughout the book, so you shouldn’t read this if you haven’t read all the books or watched the movies. This book also focused more on the stories from the movies, rather than the books. There aren’t books to go along with the Fantastic Beasts movies, so those characters had to come from the screen. However, there were some parts that were different in the Harry Potter books and movies. For example, in the book Padma Patil was sorted into Ravenclaw but in the movies, she is in Gryffindor. For parts like this, the movie version was used.

This is a great book for fans of the Wizarding World.

What to read next:

Harry Potter’s Bookshelf by John Granger

The Unofficial Ultimate Harry Potter Spellbook by Media Lab Books

Have you read Calling All Witches? What did you think of it?

Review: A Christmas Carol (Easy Classics)

Title: A Christmas Carol (Easy Classics)
Author: Charles Dickens, Philip Gooden, Pipi Spósito (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s
Publisher: Sweet Cherry Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 15, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Who can help a mean old man to love Christmas? How about a ghost? (…or three!)

Scrooge’s heart is colder than snow, he’s richer than half the banks in England and meaner than, well, everyone. But when three seriously spooky ghosts turn up to take him on an adventure through time, he soon learns that being cold isn’t cool. Can he change his ways before it’s too late?

Review:

Ebenezer Scrooge is a grumpy old man. He doesn’t treat his employees well, and he doesn’t celebrate Christmas. On Christmas Eve, the ghost of his former colleague visits him. Scrooge will see three ghosts that night to show him his Christmas past, present, and future. These ghosts persuade Scrooge to change his ways.

This is a great children’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol. The language was simplified and easier to read for children. There were cartoon style illustrations to go along with the story, which demonstrated what was happening in the story.

This version of the story was a little more optimistic and not as depressing as the original story. Scrooge’s employee, Bob Cratchit, still struggled to give his family a happy Christmas, but their suffering wasn’t as prominent in the story. This made the story focus more on Scrooge’s transformation from a mean man to kind hearted.

I really liked this adaptation of A Christmas Carol.

Thank you Sweet Cherry Publishing for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Old Curiosity Shop (Easy Classics) by Charles Dickens, Philip Gooden, Pipi Spósito (illustrator)

Have you read A Christmas Carol? What did you think of it?