Review: Willa the Wisp (The Fabled Stables #1)

Title: Willa the Wisp (The Fabled Stables #1)
Author: Jonathan Auxier, Olga Demidova (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Fantasy
Publisher: Puffin Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: October 20, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The first book in a magical chapter-book adventure series by the Governor General Award-winning author of Sweep.

Auggie Pound is eight years old and has the greatest job of all time: he cares for all the animals in the Fabled Stables. The Fabled Stables house the rarest creatures in existence–all of them one-of-a-kind. Auggie’s job is to care for these creatures, as well as track down and safely capture endangered magical beasts in the wild. Some mornings, he arrives to find an empty stall with the name of a new creature to rescue. One day, the Stables rearrange themselves out of the blue, creating a new stall. The sign over the gate says, “Wisp.” But what is a wisp and where is it? All Auggie can see is a moonlit swamp stretching out before him. Then a hungry HOWLLLLLLL rings out in the darkness. It’s up to Auggie to go into the swamp to find the wisp before it’s too late.

Review:

Auggie is a little boy who is in charge of The Fabled Stables. The Fabled Stables holds many one-of-a-kind creatures. One day, a new stall appears for an unknown creature. Auggie ventures into the swamp in the new stall and discovers a Wisp named Willa. He has to protect her from hunters, who are trying to capture Willa before she disappears when the sun rises.

I loved the variety of magical creatures in this story. There were some creatures who were based on things in real life, such as a tarantula who was as big as a person named a Garantula. There was a stick-in-the-mud named Fen, who could transform into any item that Auggie needed at the moment, such as a rake. There was also Willa who was a wisp, a creature that is born one day but disappears when the moon sets.

In an author’s note at the beginning of the book, the author says that he wrote this book to be read out loud to children. Some books may read well, but don’t sound the same when they’re read aloud. Sometimes in stories with magical creatures, their names can be complicated and difficult to pronounce. Though there are made-up creatures in this story, their names are easy to say. Some of the dialogue rhymed, which makes it fun to read as well.

This is the great first story in the Fabled Stables series!

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

What to read next:

Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

Have you read Willa the Wisp? What did you think of it?

Review: Princesses Versus Dinosaurs

Title: Princesses Versus Dinosaurs
Author: Linda Bailey, Joy Ang (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 15, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Two popular storybook titans, princesses and dinosaurs, battle to determine who should star in this laugh-out-loud picture book for fans of Shark vs Train and The Book With No Pictures.

This is a princess book!

No, it’s a dinosaur book!

No, it’s . . . a T. rex book? A dragon book? A rubber ducky book?!

From Linda Bailey, award-winning and critically acclaimed author, and Joy Ang, Adventure Time-artist and illustrator of the Mustache Baby series, comes an irresistibly irreverent picture book in which plucky princesses and determined dinosaurs have a battle royale over whose book this is. When they start calling in the big guns — or rather, the big carnivores — and decide to build a wall to resolve their differences, princesses and dinosaurs alike learn a thing or two about open-mindedness and sharing. 

Review:

This book starts out with some princesses singing and dancing. The next page has dinosaurs roaring. Is it a princess book or a dinosaur book? They can’t decide so they have to bring in their friends to figure out what kind of book it is. Eventually they separate the book with a wall, but it may be more fun for everyone if they can all play together.

As soon as I saw the title of this book, I knew it would be adorable. The characters break the fourth wall by talking about what the book is about. It was also funny when they brought in some friends who took over the story.

This book defies the stereotypical gendered children’s stories. Princess stories are usually targeted towards girl readers, while dinosaur books are targeted towards boys. This book has both princesses and dinosaurs, so it is for everyone. There was also a princess who looked like a boy, so any child can see themselves in the princess characters.

This is a fun 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:

If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur by Linda Bailey, Colin Jack (illustrator)

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (illustrator)

Have you read Princesses Versus Dinosaurs? What did you think of it?

Review: Cracking the Case of the Missing Egg (Farm Crimes!)

Title: Cracking the Case of the Missing Egg
Author: Sandra Dumais
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Owlkids Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 15, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A peaceful day on the farm turns to panic when Hen discovers her egg has been stolen! The only one who can crack the case? Billiam Van Hoof, the world’s number one goat detective (at least, that’s what he calls himself).

As Van Hoof questions the animals and collects clues—a piece of eggshell, a yellow feather, and some tiny footprints—the answer to the mystery becomes obvious to everyone except the bumbling inspector.

Review:

When Hen wakes up to discover that her egg is missing, goat detective Billiam Van Hoof has to investigate. He interviews the other animals and searches for clues, on his search for the missing egg.

I loved the details in the illustrations. All of the animals were wearing clothes. Hen had just woken up and was rushing around, so she was wearing bunny slippers and pearls. The detailed images added to the humour of the story.

Billiam van Hoof wasn’t a very good detective. He found a cracked shell, a feather, and tiny footprints, but he still couldn’t guess what happened. Even though he couldn’t solve the mystery very quickly, young readers will figure out what happened to Hen’s egg.

This is an adorable children’s book.

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

What to read next:

Cone Cat by Sarah Howden, Carmen Mok (illustrator)

Do Lizards Eat Ice Cream? How Animals Beat the Hear by Etta Kaner

Have you read Cracking the Case of the Missing Egg? What did you think of it?

Review: Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen Children’s Stories)

Title: Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen Children’s Stories)
Author: Jane Austen, Gemma Barder
Genre: Children’s
Publisher: Sweet Cherry Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 9, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Mrs Bennet is desperate to find rich husbands for her daughters, so the arrival of a charming new neighbour is welcome indeed. Sadly, the friend he brings with him is not. Mr Darcy seems to have even more pride than money. Nobody likes him – least of all Elizabeth Bennet. But not everyone is who they seem.

A beautifully illustrated adapted classic that will introduce children to the works of Jane Austen.

Review:

Mrs. Bennet wants to marry each of her five daughters to rich men. When Mr. Bingley moves into their town, she thinks he will be perfect for one of her daughters. Mr. Bingley brought his wealthy friend Mr. Darcy, who is very proud. Elizabeth Bennet instantly doesn’t like Mr. Darcy, when she overhears him speaking about her and her family. However, people aren’t always what they seem at first sight.

This story is an abbreviated version of Pride and Prejudice for children. It tells the story in simpler language that children would be able to understand. All of the major plot points were in the story. Many of the memorable quotes were also used, though in different places in the story, including the famous first line.

There were some beautiful illustrations to go along with the story. Most of the girls were drawn in the same style, so they all looked the same. Since the pictures usually illustrated the current scene, I could figure out which characters were in the picture. It would have been easier to differentiate if the five sisters had different appearances.

This is a great children’s version of Jane Austen’s classic novel.

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

What to read next:

Emma (Jane Austen Children’s Stories) by Jane Austen, Gemma Barder

Have you read Pride and Prejudice? What did you think of it?

Review: Catkwondo

Title: Catkwondo
Author: Lisl H. Detlefsen, Erin Hunting (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Capstone
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 1, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Kitten wants to a break a board, and she wants to do it now. But Tae Kwon Do is not easy. Kitten must focus. She must practice. And above all, she must be patient. Will Kitten’s determination and dedication pay off when it’s finally time to break a board? Author Lisl Detlefsen delivers a turbo-charged story filled with action, fun, and encouragement. Korean phrases are intermixed throughout Catkwondo, and the Tae Kwon Do Oath and a Tae Kwon Do glossary complete this energetic picture book.

Review:

Kitten goes to a Tae Kwon Do class. She wants to break a board right away. Before she can break the board, she has to practice and learn the rules of Tae Kwon Do. With practice and determination, Kitten can break the board.

I have never done Tae Kwon Do but I had friends who did when I was a kid. I remember how they were so excited about breaking a board. It was one of their biggest goals, and they were so proud when they could finally do it.

There was a great glossary of Korean terms at the back of the book. There were Korean terms that are used in Tae Kwon Do in the story. I wasn’t familiar with these words, so it was great to see this glossary with pronunciations.

I loved the message of this story. Kitten was able to reach her goal of breaking a board through lots of practice and focus. Even though Kitten wanted to break the board immediately, she came to realize that she needed to do the work before she could break the board. This can be applied to any goals you may have, which is an inspiring message for children.

This is a great children’s book!

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

What to read next:

1, 2, 3 Jump! by Lisl H. Detlefsen, Madeline Valentine (illustrator)

Cone Cat by Sarah Howden, Carmen Mok (illustrator)

Have you read Catkwondo? What did you think of it?

Review: Monsters 101

Title: Monsters 101
Author: Cale Atkinson
Genre: Children’s
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 4, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Readers who loved Unicorns 101 will love this laugh-out-loud picture book that finally sets the record straight about monsters! 

Monsters! They’re so much more than just that scary thing under your bed. Join Professors Vampire, Blob and Werewolf, and their trusty lab assistant–a zombie named Tina–as they reveal eerie and frankly ridiculous monsters facts never uttered outside a crypt! For example:

 Monsters love competitive board game nights!
 Favorite monster foods include clam pudding with fish heads and pickled ant ice cream!
 In addition to cauldrons and spider gardens, monster homes often include homemade collages!
 Werewolves hate the sound of vacuum cleaners!
 Monsters aren’t all scary! Try being nice to one for a change! Offer them a compliment!

Full of eye-popping illustrations and a story with nonstop sidesplitting laughs, plus a removable Professor of Monstrology diploma at the end of the book, Monsters 101 will have children–and adults–eager to enroll, time and time again!

Review:

This is a reference book about monsters. It talks about different kinds of monsters, and includes sections on what monsters eat and what they do in their day to day lives.

This would be a great book for kids who love monsters. There were tons of fun facts about different monsters, including vampires, werewolves, and zombies. This would also be a great book to teach kids not to be afraid of monsters. It shows what monsters do when they hide under a bed, and they are actually more afraid of humans than humans are of them.

The book ends with a diploma to show that the reader has completed the Monsters 101 book. This is such a cute book for kids.

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

What to read next:

Unicorns 101 by Cale Atkinson

Have you read Monsters 101? What did you think of it?

Review: Terry Fox and Me

Title: Terry Fox and Me
Author: Mary Beth Leatherdale and Milan Pavlović
Genre: Children’s, Nonfiction, Picture Book
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 4, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope, this picture book biography tells the story of a friendship defined by strength and love.

Before Terry Fox become a national hero and icon, he was just a regular kid. But even then, his characteristic strength, determination and loyalty were apparent and were the foundation for his friendship with Doug. The two first met at basketball tryouts in grammar school. Terry was the smallest – and worst – basketball player on the court. But that didn’t stop him. With Doug’s help, Terry practiced and practiced until he earned a spot on the team. As they grew up, the best friends supported each other, challenged each other, helped each other become better athletes and better people. Doug was by Terry’s side every step of the way: when Terry received a diagnosis of cancer in his leg, when he was learning to walk – then run – with a prosthetic leg and while he was training for the race of his life, his Marathon of Hope.

Written from Doug’s perspective, this story shows that Terry Fox’s legacy goes beyond the physical and individual accomplishments of a disabled athlete and honors the true value of friendship.

Review:

When the new boy, Terry, wants to befriend Doug after he didn’t do well at basketball tryouts, Doug is reluctant to hang out with him. Doug quickly learns that Terry is willing to work hard to get better at the sport. Terry becomes a great basketball player and athlete, though he won’t run cross-country with Doug. Everything changes when Terry is diagnosed with cancer and has 80% of his leg amputated. Suddenly Terry is motivated to start running, creating the Marathon of Hope to raise money for cancer research. His best friend Doug stays by his side the whole time.

Terry Fox is a Canadian icon and hero. Every year, Canadians across the country participate in the Terry Fox Run in September. The run that Terry started in 1980 is honored every year with donations to cancer research. Unfortunately, Terry had to stop his run halfway through his cross country marathon. He started in St. John’s, Newfoundland and ended in Thunder Bay, Ontario. He passed away the following year though his memory lives on today.

I wasn’t familiar with Doug’s story before reading this book. He was a wonderful friend to Terry, who encouraged him throughout his recovery and training.

This is a great story for children because it teaches about the power of friendship. It could also teach young children who Terry Fox was and why he is such an important historical figure that we continue to honour today.

I loved this Canadian story!

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

What to read next:

Terry Fox: A Story of Hope by Maxine Trottier

Have you read Terry Fox and Me? What did you think of it?

Review: Dewdrop

Title: Dewdrop
Author: Katie O’Neill
Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Oni Press
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The tale of an axolotl who cheers on his underwater friends as they each bring their talents to the pond’s sports fair! 

Dewdrop is an easygoing, gentle axolotl who enjoys naps, worm pie, and cheerleading. When the yearly sports fair nears, he and his friends—Mia the weightlifting turtle, Newman the musical newt, and three minnows who love to cook—get ready to showcase their skills to the whole pond! However, as the day of the fair gets closer, Dewdrop’s friends can’t help putting pressure on themselves to be the best. It’s up to Dewdrop to remind them how to be mindful, go at their own pace, and find joy in their own achievements.

Review:

Dewdrop is an axolotl who is attending the pond’s fair with his friends. Dewdrop will be the cheerleader, while his friends do other activities, such as songwriting, weight lifting, and cooking. When Dewdrop’s friends get discouraged while they struggle with their activities, he is there to cheer them on.

This was a cute story about doing your best. When Dewdrop’s friend struggled with their activities, he pointed out that they were doing the best they could do. Even though the turtle couldn’t lift the heaviest weight, he could still lift more than he could before. When the fish felt like their food wouldn’t appeal to everyone, they realized that they wouldn’t be able to please everyone, but some would like it. The newt couldn’t find inspiration for a song, so Dewdrop told him that he finds inspiration by relaxing and taking the pressure off. Dewdrop had great solutions for all of his friends.

I wish the story talked more about the kinds of animals in the story. Dewdrop was an axolotl, which I had never heard of before. I had to google axolotl while reading. The illustrations look exactly like the fish. Sometimes children’s books have some information about the animals featured at the end of the book. That wasn’t in my copy, and I’m not sure if it was in the final book, but that would have been helpful to read.

This is a cute children’s book!

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

What to read next:

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

Cat’s Café: A Comics Collection by Matt Tarpley

Have you read Dewdrop? What did you think of it?

Review: King Mouse

Title: King Mouse
Author: Cary Fagan, Dena Seiferling (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Books
Publisher: Tundra Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: September 24, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

King Mouse finds his authority in question when his subjects find crowns of their own. A gentle and humorous modern fable about imaginative play and kindness in the tradition of classics like Little Bear and Frog and Toad.

A sweet, thoughtful tale of friendship, sharing and play, King Mouse begins when a mouse comes upon a tiny crown in the grass. The mouse puts the crown on his head, and when a bear subsequently comes upon him and asks if he’s king, the mouse responds “Yes.”

This diminutive monarch settles into his new role very comfortably . . . until a snake comes upon a crown and claims she is queen. The mouse is not amused, especially when one by one the other animals find crowns and claim they are kings too. But when the bear can’t find a crown, King Mouse make a most surprising decision.

This inspired collaboration between an award-winning author and debut picture book illustrator Dena Seiferling is quietly profound in its simplicity and has the feeling of a modern classic. 

Review:

One day, Mouse finds a crown on the ground. He puts it on and becomes King Mouse. The other animals, like a crow and a bear, bow down to him and do things for him, such as bring him food and entertain him. Then, a snake finds a crown and puts it on, becoming Queen Snake. Now, all of the animals are finding crowns, except for the bear, who is left out of being a King or Queen. King Mouse is left to decide what to do to help the bear.

This is such a great teaching story for kids. It shows how it feels to be left out, since the bear was very sad that he didn’t have a crown when everyone else did. It also shows that just because someone has something that makes them popular, doesn’t mean they deserve it. Mouse became a king just because he found the crown. The crown was important when there was only one but it became meaningless when everyone else had a crown.

The illustrations in this story were beautiful. They looked like sketches in monochromatic colours. The illustrations told the story along with the words. It would be easy for children learning to read to follow the story by the pictures without reading the words.

I loved this children’s 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:

Mouseton Abbey: The Missing Diamond by Nick Page, Tim Hutchinson (illustrator)

Ho’onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale, Mika Song (illustrator)

Have you read King Mouse? What did you think of it?

Review: Twisted Fairy Tales: The Three Little Narwhals

Title: Twisted Fairy Tales: The Three Little Narwhals
Author: Stewart Ross, Chris Jevons (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Arcturus Publishing
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: March 15, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this whale of a tale, the Big Bad Shark is looking for a tasty snack… when he comes across three delicious-looking narwhals! The loveable, pointy-horned creatures-show-off Spike, arty Spiral, and shy Stubby-discover a sunken pirate ship, and are using the parts to build their own homes. Now they are out of their depth, locked in a battle of wits with the munching, crunching villain.

Review:

This story is a twist on the tale of the Three Little Pigs. Instead of pigs, the characters are the three little narwhals. They decide to build houses out of the parts of a shipwreck. The first house was made of ropes and sails, the second was made of wood, and the third was made of metal. Their homes are then destroyed by the big bad shark.

Narwhals are a popular animal for kids books. They’re the unicorns of the sea. There were also dolphins in this story, which were so cute. The dolphins pointed out the problems with the narwhals’ homes before they were attacked, so they explained to the reader why the homes were flawed.

I liked the twist on the traditional big bad wolf, which is the big bad shark. He said “I’ll crunch, and I’ll munch, and I’ll have this house for lunch.” This was a great way to change the wolf into a sea creature.

I really enjoyed this retelling of the Three Little Pigs.

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

What to read next:

Twisted Fairy Tales: Little Rude Riding Hood by Jo Franklin, Chris Jevons (illustrator)

Twisted Fairy Tales: The Ninjabread Man by Stewart Ross, Chris Jevons (illustrator)

Have you read The Three Little Narwhals? What did you think of it?