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?

Review: Karen’s Witch (Baby-Sitters Little Sister Graphic Novels #1)

Title: Karen’s Witch (Baby-Sitters Little Sister Graphic Novels #1)
Author: Katy Farina, Ann M. Martin
Genre: Children’s, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Graphix
Source: Library
Format: Ebook
Release Date: December 26, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

A fresh and fun graphic novel series spin-off of The Baby-sitters Club, featuring Kristy’s little stepsister!
Karen Brewer lives next door to Mrs. Porter, who wears long robes and has wild gray hair. Mrs. Porter has a black cat named Midnight and always seems to be working in her garden. Karen isn’t supposed to spy on her neighbor, but she’s determined to prove that Mrs. Porter is a witch named Morbidda Destiny!

Mrs. Porter is getting ready to have a special meeting at her house, and Karen is sure the meeting is for witches. Are they going to cast a spell on Karen? Or will she be brave enough to send them away — once and for all?

Review:

Karen Brewer’s father lives next door to Mrs. Porter. Mrs. Porter has a black cat named Midnight, she grows an herb garden in her yard, and she rides a broom at night. Karen thinks that Mrs. Porter is a witch called Morbidda Destiny. When she finds out that Morbidda Destiny is planning a gathering at her house, she is sure that it is a witch meeting. Karen has to be brave and stop the witches from meeting to save her neighborhood.

I loved the Baby-Sitters Little Sisters stories when I was a kid. Karen Brewer is an imaginative girl who often misunderstands things and gets into trouble. This story was so nostalgic for me.

The illustrations were so cute and represented Karen perfectly. The only thing that I think could have been improved is introducing all of the characters. Karen has a large blended family, which can be confusing if you haven’t read the other books. It would have been helpful to describe their relationships for readers who are unfamiliar with the characters, but it was still a great adaptation.

This is a fun story! I highly recommend it!

What to read next:

Karen’s Roller Skates (Baby-Sitters Little Sister Graphic Novels #2) by Katy Farina and Ann M. Martin

Karen’s Witch (Baby-Sitters Little Sister #1) by Ann M. Martin

Other books in the series:

  • Karen’s Roller Skates
  • Karen’s Worst Day

Have you read Karen’s Witch? What did you think of it?

Review: Cone Cat

Title: Cone Cat
Author: Sarah Howden, Carmen Mok (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Picture Book
Publisher: Owlkids
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 15, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

One day, Jeremy wakes up at the vet’s with a giant cone around his head. In a momentary existential crisis, he resigns himself to his new role as clumsy, smelly Cone Cat. That is, until the cone becomes instrumental in lapping up the last few bites of cereal on the breakfast table.

Surprisingly, Cone Cat can do a lot of things old Jeremy couldn’t. He can hunt spiders with ease, collect stuffing from the couch, and disguise himself as a bowl to steal a scoop of ice cream at a birthday party. When the cone is removed the next day, Jeremy starts to miss it. Will he ever get another chance to indulge in the tricks he pulled off as Cone Cat? It doesn’t take him too long to find out …

With lively illustrations and plenty of wit, this hilarious picture book about adapting to seemingly im-paw-ssible situations is sure to please kids and cat-lovers alike.

Review:

When Jeremy wakes up at the vet’s office one day, he is wearing a cone. He realizes that he is no longer Jeremy. Now he will be known as Cone Cat. He can’t do the things he’s used to doing, like hunt bugs around the house, scratch the furniture, or eat from his dish. He feels strange in the cone, until he realizes he can do things differently with the cone. He can tip a bowl into the cone to eat inside it. He can scoop the bugs into his cone so that he doesn’t have to hunt them. Life is different with the cone, but he figures out a way to adapt to it.

This is such a cute picture book! Anyone who has a dog or cat who has had surgery or an injury, has probably had to use the cone, or as we call it in my house “the cone of shame.” It’s sad to see how depressed the animals get while wearing the cone, but it is for their own good so they can heal.

Jeremy the cat learns to adapt to his new life wearing the cone. He had to look on the bright side and figure out how to live his normal life. For example, he couldn’t drink from the cereal bowl on the table, but he could tip it into his cone and drink it like that. Jeremy didn’t know that the cone wouldn’t last forever, so once he got used to it, his owner was able to take it off and he could return to his old life as Jeremy.

I loved this adorable cat picture book!

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

What to read next:

Cracking the Case of the Missing Egg (Farm Crimes!) by Sandra Dumais

Catkwondo by Lisl H. Detlefsen, Erin Hunting (illustrator)

Have you read Cone Cat? What did you think of it?

Review: Duck Days

Title: Duck Days (Slug Days Stories #3)
Author: Sara Leach, Rebecca Bender (illustrator)
Genre: Children’s, Contemporary
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Synopsis:

The third title in the collection that began with USBBY Outstanding International Book Slug Days. Lauren, a third-grade student who has Autism Spectrum Disorder, takes on the challenges of sharing her best friend and persevering when a classmate mocks her bicycle’s training wheels.

Irma is Lauren’s best friend. Irma knows all the strategies Lauren uses when her Autism Spectrum Disorder makes it hard to “go with the flow.” Lauren helps Irma learn English words and understand unfamiliar customs. So why does Irma suddenly want to introduce Lauren to her mountain-biking, litter-dropping neighbor Jonas? Why is Irma calling Jonas her friend? 

As if sharing Irma weren’t bad enough, Lauren also has an alarming new problem at school. Their teacher has announced a mountain biking day when the students will learn to ride their bikes on an obstacle course. But Lauren still uses training wheels. She just can’t face the teasing she will get when her classmates see them. She isn’t brave like Irma. She can’t go with the flow like Dad. How can she possibly face this challenge?

Review:

Irma is Lauren’s best friend. Irma has immigrated from Sweden, and she is still learning to speak English. Lauren is on the Autism Spectrum, so while she helps Irma with her English, Irma helps Lauren with techniques to cope with her Autism. One day, Irma introduces Lauren to her new friend, Jonas. Lauren gets upset that Irma now has a new friend. Jonas wants to teach them some bike riding tricks, which intimidates Lauren because she still uses training wheels. When her teacher schedules a bike riding activity, Lauren has to find the courage to ride her bike with training wheels in front of her class.

I loved the Autism representation in this story. Lauren had a lot of visual techniques to help figure out the world around her. She would make hand signals with her father to signal how she was coping with the current situation. Her teacher taught her with flash cards with emotional cues in facial expressions so she could try to read the emotions on the faces of other people. Lauren’s Autism also meant that she liked to have everything scheduled, so when Irma brought another friend over to play with them, it threw her off. Lauren ended up liking Jonas too, so the experience wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be, even though it changed her planned schedule.

Lauren helped Irma with her English, which showed some representation of the immigrant experience. Irma had to go to school and learn a language that she wasn’t familiar with, but she had the courage to do it every day. Lauren would correct Irma’s language, but at least Irma was trying to speak, even when she got it wrong. They were both brave little girls.

This is a great children’s book!

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

What to read next:

Slug Days by Sara Leach

Megabat by Anna Humphrey and Kass Reich (illustrator)

Other books in the series:

  • Slug Days
  • Penguin Days

Have you read Duck Days? What did you think of it?