Book Review: 101 Reasons Why I'm NOT Taking a Bath by Stacy McAnulty

Summary: No one likes baths. What a waste of time! There’s so much more important stuff to do! Plus, baths are super dangerous for a number of reasons. You want me to list a few? Most household accidents happen in the bathroom. Scientific fact! A kid in Texas turned into a prune after taking a bath. Scientific fact!

If you need more evidence, allow me to point you to an excellent book called 101 Reasons Why I'm Not Taking a Bath. It’s full of insightful and logical reasons why you should definitely not be subjected to this useless ritual. Joy Ang and Stacy McAnulty really understand how dumb baths are, and have done a top-notch job of demonstrating why.

Release Date: July 2016
Age Group: Children
Source: Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

I'm NOT Dirty.
Summer has officially ended this week and this title cover is the running mantra that we hear each night from the boys. UGH. What is the deal with boys and baths? When someone sniffs your baby boy and says "oh he smells so clean" you take that to heart way more than you would if it was your little girl! Boys do not naturally smell like sunshine and roses, it takes real work.

This is a fun read and it goes over every excuse as to why a bath means doom and destruction. We got a kick out of it because the boys have claimed every single one of the injustices mentioned.

My absolute favorite one to hear from the 5 year old is "NOOOO, I can't have soap, it likes my EYE BALLS and BUUURRRNNNNSSSSS NOOOOOOOO". Yea, that bath always goes real well. By the end I'm yelling to Sweet Stuff "I am TAPPING OUT!!! You take overrrrrrr".

This is a fun book for young readers, I think pre-school and kindergarten are the ideal ages that would really enjoy this one. 

  • Good introduction to germs and hand-washing
  • Encourages hygiene
  • Very relate-able for young boys

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Book Review: Snappsy the Alligator by Julie Falatko

Summary: Snappsy the alligator is trying to go about his very ordinary day when a pesky narrator steps in to spice up the story with slanderous claims. Is Snappsy making crafty plans? Is he prowling for defenseless birds and soft, fuzzy bunnies? Is Snappsy a big, mean alligator who’s obsessed with snack foods that start with the letter P? It’s no wonder Snappsy won't invite the narrator to his party!

Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book) is an irreverent look at storytelling, friendship, and creative differences from a pair of rising stars in the picture book world.

Release Date: February 2016
Age Group: Children
Source: Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

This is a unique children's book. When it came in the mail the boys thought it looked cool and immediately liked Snappsy because he didn't want to be in the book. From the cover Snappsy is already talking to you. This story has a twist to the narration that we didn't see coming. It really added to the fun of a character that you think is irritated with you. He clearly doesn't want to be bothered by a Narrator.

The illustrations are great and have a cartoon feel that young children will enjoy. This book kept the interest of my 5 year old and had my 7 year old asking me to explain narration. I liked that there were lots of onomatopoeia's in the text. {I know you are singing the song now "onomatopoeia's where a word makes a sound"}.

I really cannot divulge anything about the story itself or I will spoil the twist and RL Stine would be very upset with people ruining a well thought out twist.

  • Recommended for young readers 
  • Identifying the letter P
  • Gives a great introduction to narration and onomatopoeia's

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Reading Interrupted #Rio2016

I have been pretty much glued to my TV since the Olympics in Rio started. I mean, the first injury I saw was freaking crazy. And then I started to really LOOK at the athletes and holy cow, these are some of the best looking Olympians I've ever seen! #helloswimming

French Gymnast, Samir Ait Said

I knew I had to put the books down and be a devoted Olympian Watcher because lets face it, when you watch the gymnastics you want to attempt a handstand. {Don't lie, you know you have}. But when you watch Simone Biles you are proud to be a TEXAN! That's right, everything is better in Texas. Plus, she has good taste. #zacefron #nuffsaid

After watching Michael Phelps make history and witnessed that only lightening might be able to beat Usain Bolt, I am now reading to get back to a good book bender.

aka Professional Olympic Watcher

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Book Review: Free Verse by Sarah Dooley

Summary: When her brother dies in a fire, Sasha Harless has no one left, and nowhere to turn. After her father died in the mines and her mother ran off, he was her last caretaker. They’d always dreamed of leaving Caboose, West Virginia together someday, but instead she’s in foster care, feeling more stuck and broken than ever.

But then Sasha discovers family she didn’t know she had, and she finally has something to hold onto, especially sweet little Mikey, who’s just as broken as she is. Sasha even makes her first friend at school, and is slowly learning to cope with her brother’s death through writing poetry, finding a new way to express herself when spoken words just won’t do. But when tragedy strikes the mine her cousin works in, Sasha fears the worst and takes Mikey and runs, with no plans to return. In this sensitive and poignant portrayal, Sarah Dooley shows us that life, like poetry, doesn’t always take the form you intend.

Release Date: March 2016
Age Group: YA
Source: Publisher
Reviewed By: Ms. Leger

Review: If you are a fan of Sharon Creech then you will love Free Verse. After a few chapters, I paused and checked the cover to make sure I hadn't made a mistake and picked up a Creech novel. The writing style is so similar and artfully written. I think it's important to know a little about the story to peak your interest but not too much.

The story starts off with Sasha a young girl who is suffering yet another loss, her firefighter brother. Set in a coal mining town of Caboose, West Virginia and left with no family Sasha is sent to live with a foster parent whereupon she meets the neighbors next door. Unbeknownst to Sasha she discovers a family connection. 

I enjoyed the first person narration and the places written in prose. Freeverse is a tender story about the struggles of loss, acceptance, friendship and family. There is also a little suspense that takes place and I had to fight the erg to skip ahead to find out what had happened. I highly recommend this book to all Sharon Creech fans. I would also recommend this book as a read-aloud for a younger audience. It would be a great way to introduce several themes in literature and definitely a beautiful example of poetry in prose.

Ms. Leger

Harry Potter as a Play {Harry Potter & the Cursed Child Release}

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

The release of the new Harry Potter installment has very mixed reviews just 24 hours after its release. Harry Potter & the Cursed Child is labeled as the 8th installment of the series but it is not a written novel like its predecessors. This new installment is the rehearsal script for a PLAY written by Rowling's and two others.  

I've never read a script and I am a little hesitant to dive in.
I want to know, did it bring back all #thefeels ? Is it still fun to read as a script? Were all the goodies you got at the midnight release epic?!?

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AW Teen Summer Reading Challenge

Join the AW Teen Summer Reading Challenge and win books!

Who: Everyone who loves reading YA!
What: Read any AW Teen title (full list here: and review it anywhere (your blog, Goodreads, Instagram, YouTube—wherever!).
When: June 15-August 31, 2016
How: Submit the link to your review here.
You will receive 1 entry for every AW Teen Book you review.
You will receive extra entries for sharing that review on Goodreads, Netgalley, Edelweiss, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or other review sites.
You will receive even more extra entries for following us on our Albert Whitman and AW Teen social media sites!
Let's Be Friends!  
Follow Albert Whitman Social Media accounts:
Prize Package: Six AW Teen ’16 titles
Future Shock (hardcover)
9780807526828 FutureShock
Elena Martinez has hidden her eidetic memory all her life—or so she thinks. When powerful tech giant Aether Corporations selects her for a top-secret project, she can’t say no. All she has to do is participate in a trip to the future, and she’ll be set for life. Elena travels with four other teens with special skills, including Adam, a science prodigy. Soon they find themselves running out of time, and deadly secrets are uncovered. Can Elena and her new friends figure out how to change their futures?
Seventeen-year-old Adam Rhodes is famous, but he’s been in a downward spiral since he lost the girl he loved, Marybeth, who went by the stage name Sunshine. Then, Adam is approached by Dr. Elloran with Project Orpheus, who wants to resurrect Sunshine. As the process sweeps Adam and Marybeth ever closer to reliving the tragedy that destroyed them, Adam must decide how far he’ll go to save her.
Two boys: One is a star athlete and top student with a deep-seated need to prove himself. The other is a chip-on-his-shoulder quarterback who will never settle for second best. When gunshots echo through the halls of Broadmeadow High School, whose finger is on the trigger? This unforgettable novel counts down the twelve months leading up to an explosive moment.
Biggie (paperback)
Biggie in paperback
At an obese 300+ pounds, Henry “Biggie” Abbott prefers classroom success to sports. As Biggie’s junior year begins, the girl of his dreams, Annabelle Rivers, starts flirting with him. He’s been told to follow in his dad’s footsteps and play baseball, but Annabelle might be the one to actually convince him to try.
Girl Last Seen (hardcover)
YouTube stars and best friends Kadence and Lauren recently had a major falling-out over Kadence’s boyfriend. Kadence launched her solo career when a nasty throat infection paralyzed Lauren’s vocal cords. And she knows how deceptive Kadence could be sometimes. But nobody believes Lauren when she claims she had nothing to do with Kady’s disappearance.
Hurricane Kiss (hardcover)
For sixteen-year-old Jillian McKay, the threat of Hurricane Danielle means a long car ride with her neighbors—including River Daughtry, the former star quarterback of Harrison High. The guy who was headed to glory until suddenly he disappeared to a West Texas juvenile detention center. Once cocky and flirtatious, he’s now silent and angry. But their evacuation route is soon gridlocked. As the teens wait out the storm, they confront the past and realize survival is more than just staying alive—it’s about fighting for yourself.
Join the fun and get your read on this summer!

Book Review: Welcome to Sortilege Falls (Grape Merriweather #1) by Libby Heily

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Grape Merriweather has just moved to Sortilege Falls and already she knows something isn't right. A small pack of teenage models, too beautiful for words, holds the town in their sway. The models have no plans on making Grape's life easy. But no matter how cruel they are to Grape and the other “Normals”, no one can stay angry with them for long.

Grape's life changes for the better, or so she thinks, when Mandy, the only “nice” model, befriends her. But that’s when the trouble truly begins. Mandy's friendship places Grape smack in the middle of a medical mystery that has the entire town on edge. One by one, the models fall ill from an incurable disease. Grape quickly realizes that the models' parents are hiding a secret, even as they watch their children die. To save her only friend, Grape will have to find the truth–and that means putting her life in danger.

Release Date: May 2016
Age Group: YA
Source: Review Copy from Author
Reviewed By: Nat

I finally found a YA series that had all #thefeels of a Goosebump mixed with the sleuthing heart of Nancy Drew!

Do not let the cover fool you. I will admit that that is the only thing that kind of turned me off. But man, you really can't judge a book by it's cover or you will really miss out on a good little story. I enjoyed such a face-paced read and really loved Grape. I mean how can you not love someone named after a fruit drink. For such a quick read I was guessing the outcome about every 5th page and then I would change my mind or find out I was totally off. I LOVED that I couldn't guess the plot. I am not going to divulge too many details because even the slightest comment could be a spoiler. But I will say that I thought of Nancy Drew with a little paranormal flare and one specific Goosebump tale.

Bravo to Libby for creating a new fun world that I am now pining for! I can't wait for Grape to come back. When Libby, when?

PS This is a CLEAN read, which I found refreshing. I didn't have to jump over any bombs or close my eyes.


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Book to Movie Review: The BFG

To simply put it, this movie exceeded all expectations! Hands down one of the best adaptations of all time.  I don't have a single complaint. I was worried I had beef'ed it up too much to my kids and feared they wouldn't get #thefeels that come when you read BFG but DANG did Spielberg bring his A-game. There are several scenes that are spitting images of the illustrations found in the BFG book but have been brought to life with incredible visual effects. 

It's a wonderful tribute to Roald Dahl's work and one of the most family friendly films of the year. 


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illustration by Quintin Blake
#theBFG #BFG #roalddahl #disney #spielberg £soratherread

What Book Made You Fall in Love with Reading?

Goodreads posed the question:

What book made you fall in love with reading?

For me it was was in different stages. 
    In elementary it was Amelia Bedelia. >Visit Here<
    In middle school it was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. It was the first time I realized that movies changed endings. I was both proud and devastated.  >Visit Here<
    #thestrugglewasreal in junior high. Sports were introduced and I figured out I could run {like Forest}.
    In high school it was the short story Desiree's Baby by Kate Chopin. It is still one of my all time favorite short stories. >Read Here<
    In college I only read what I had too. Those were very dark times... 
Listopia on GoodReads has a great list of
The Must-Have Series for Children Ages 6 to 12.

I polled all the little middle-grade readers running through my house this summer and these are the top 5 they recommend. Check out Listopia's list >HERE< for a huge variety of middle-grade series. The list is for the must-have series in a library that children ages 6 - 12 can read for themselves.
  1. Diary of a Whimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  2. Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey
  3. Jason Strange books
  4. I Survived by Lauren Tarshis
  5. Warriors by Erin Hunter

Book Review: Penguin Problems by Jory John

Have you ever considered running away to Antarctica? Of course you have! Because it’s a land free of worries and responsibilities! All of your problems will surely be blown away by the icy winds of that lawless paradise! . . . Won’t they?

Think again, my friend. This penguin has come to tell you that his life down there is no more a picnic than yours is here. For starters, it is FREEZING. Also, penguins have a ton of natural predators. Plus, can you imagine trying to find your mom in a big ol’ crowd of identical penguins? No, thank you.

Yes, it seems there is no escaping the drudgery of your daily grind, whatever it might be. Or perhaps we’ve just learned that grumps are everywhere. . . .

Release Date: September 2016
Age Group: Children
Source: Publisher
Reviewed By: Nat

"Everybody's got problems, good luck with yours." 
Bernie Packard 
This is a common quote that is repeated in our small town. It just cracks me up every time I hear it because it always reminds me of all the Negative Nancy's I meet. You know the person that always has to bring up the negative side of ANY situation. Every family has one. Currently in our house, it is #Hurricane, our middle child. 

He is our Penguin.

I sat both my boys down to read #penguinproblems to them and use my best disgruntled voice possible, I was really determined to get the point of this book across. My 5 year old ate it up and made little comments about how unhappy the Penguin was while #Hurricane laid there silent, on his face. #palmtoface

Midway through he turned over and hid his grin after I said we were reading a book about him. I told him we were changing his nickname to penguin, he frowned but kept listening.

After the book was over our conversation went like this:

Me: So, what was up with that Penguin? Did he learn anything?

5 year old: yea, I think.

Hurricane: He learned to be grateful for the things he has.
*Me thinking "Ah, so he did get the plot"

Me: So what are you grateful for?

5 year old: Hockey, yea hockey is on ice. I loooove it so much. 
*He has never seen a hockey puck in his life.

Me: okay, cool. Hurricane what about you?

Hurricane: Nothing. 

Me: What?! Nothing? Really?

Hurricane: Nope, nothing.

Me: Huh.

Hurricane: Fine, I am grateful for our house and all the other stuff I'm supposed to say. I learned to not argue and be happy mom, I just didn't want to say it right now.

Me: *internally screams and shoots daggers toward child. That's nice.

Penguin Problems is a great children's book for teaching young readers to see the good in their life instead of all the negative, because lets face it, life is SO unfair when you are 8 or younger. The text has the droll yet funny personality of a complainer with illustrations to match.  It is really easy to manipulate for reading aloud and just the right length to keep small children's attention.

I highly recommend this book for elementary teachers. There are so many areas that this book could cover: feelings, being different but yet the same, manners, animals in the arctic, predators, even technology. There is a hashtag that is attached to this book: #penguinproblems. It would be really fun to create an activity off of that, I mean I know I would eat it up but I'm odd. Any avenue to introduce technology to kids is a win in my book. #punintended

This is also a great book to gift. I will be purchasing several copies of this book when the holiday season hits! 

A special thank you to Random House for sending me this advanced reader wrapped in the cutest book bag ever! We have been sporting it to the library for the summer reading program. I have convinced my kids that when they walk in with the bag, people probably whisper how jealous they are of our penguin. Then I tell them, remember, everybody's got problems... but a sweet book bag isn't one of ours!