The Very Stuffed Turkey by Katharine Kenah


The Very Stuffed Turkey by Katharine Kenah
Publisher: Cartwheel Books
Genre: Children’s, Holiday, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (36 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

A Thanksgiving story featuring a large turkey with a big problem…

…he’s been invited to EVERYONE’S home for dinner!

With five homes to visit — Horse’s, Pig’s, Sheep and Goat’s, Cow’s, and Mouse’s –Turkey knows there’ll be a ton of food to eat. But there’ll also be friends and their families who can’t wait to celebrate the holiday with Turkey! Can this very plump bird make it through every meal without bursting?

A silly, read-aloud story featuring food, friends, and one hilarious turkey!

Turkey’s eyes are much bigger than his stomach. How will he ever be able to eat five Thanksgiving dinners in one day?

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this tale was that the menu at every friend’s house depended on what kind of animal they were. For example, the horses served foods like oat cakes and carrots because those are things that real horses eat. It was a lot of fun to see what each animal’s version of Thanksgiving dinner would be. Some of the dishes they served were pretty creative, and it made me grin to think of them baking such special meals for themselves and for Turkey.

I would have liked to see the main character feel able to say no to more food when he was completely full. He ate to the point where it was physically uncomfortable for him. While I’m all for enjoying good food over the holidays, I also think kids should be encouraged to listen to their bodies and wait before they eat more if their stomachs begin to hurt. There will always be leftovers on holidays like this one!

The friendships between all of the animals were so sweet and supportive. I especially liked seeing the kinds of games they played after one meal ended but before the next one began. Everyone played very nicely together and were great role models for the audience. This is something I really like finding in stories for preschoolers and young children.

I’d recommend The Very Stuffed Turkey to anyone who is looking forward to Thanksgiving this year.

Which is p and Which is q? by Gita V. Reddy


Which is p and Which is q? by Gita V. Reddy
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Childrens, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 3 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Grandpa brings a box of wooden letters for Minki to practice her ABCs. He spells out words and Minki picks out the letters from the set. She enjoys doing this except that she isn’t able to tell p and q apart. So when Grandpa spells out p-i-g, she picks q, i, and g. For q-u-e-e-n she picks p,u,e,e,n and for q-u-i-l-t, she takes out the letters p,u,i,l,t.

Because Minki has so much trouble with p and q, she throws them out of the window. Angry and hurt, p and q stomp away to Word Fairy and announce they are never going back.

With p and q missing, many words become meaningless. Now nobody can say ‘please’ because it has turned into ‘lease.’ The police station and the post office can’t function and the queen must go into hiding!

Which is p and Which is q? is a fun story about an important issue.

Children between the ages 3 to 7 make occasional letter reversals while reading or writing. This is more likely to happen with letters that are mirror images of each other – like p and q, b and d, n and u. It doesn’t mean the child is dyslexic or has a learning ability. With practice and some clues, as the letter shapes become more familiar, children get over the confusion.

Learning the letters of the alphabet isn’t always easy.

My favorite scenes happened after the letters p and q ran away to go live with Word Fairy. They were so determined to stay with her forever that I couldn’t wait to see how the fairy would respond to them once she realized that they never wanted to go back to Earth. This was a very creative spin on the topic, and it made me smile.

Minka mentioned some letters other than p and q that are easy to mix up. I would have liked to see her either spend more time talking about how to tell the difference between those other letter or save them for a sequel. Talking about them without going into detail seemed like it could be confusing for young readers. With that being said, exploring those letters would be a very good place to begin with a sequel if the author is hoping turn this into a series.

The memory trick that Minka’s grandfather shared at the end of this story to help her remember the difference between these two letters was a smart one. He made it easy to remember by turning that trick into something a kid can easily imagine happening. It’s not something I’d ever heard of before, but it made a lot of sense.

Which Is p and Which Is q? is an adorable picture book that I’d recommend to anyone who has a young child in their life who needs help remembering the differences between similar letters like these.

Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson


Pecan Pie Baby by Jacqueline Woodson
Publisher: Puffin Books
Genre: Childrens, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (38 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

All anyone wants to talk about with Mama is the new “ding-dang baby” that’s on the way, and Gia is getting sick of it! If her new sibling is already such a big deal, what’s going to happen to Gia’s nice, cozy life with Mama once the baby is born?

Adding a baby to the family changes everything, and who’s to say it will be for the better?

The main character was such a sweet and adorable kid. I enjoyed seeing how she reacted to the excitement of her family as they all prepared for the new arrival. One of my favorite scenes involved a cousin asking this character if she wanted to hold that relative’s baby. Mia definitely had strong opinions on this topic, and she wasn’t at all afraid to share them with anyone who was listening.

I was a little surprised by how long it took Mia’s mom to realize that her daughter was feeling jealous and uncertain of the baby that was on the way. She was such a loving and attentive parent in general that I wondered why she didn’t notice the first time Mia was uneasy around this topic. With that being said, she was still a doting mom and this is a minor criticism of a story that I otherwise thought was really well written.

Jealousy is a tough emotion to deal with no matter how old someone is. It can be even more difficult for young children who haven’t much experience managing it yet. This topic was handled with humor and sensitivity in this tale. What made the storyline even better was that it gave such a positive example of how to handle this feeling without feeling overwhelmed by it.

I’d recommend Pecan Pie Baby to any family who is expecting a new addition soon.

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies


Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Genre: Children’s, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Another inky evening’s here— The air is cool and calm and clear.
Can it be true? Oh, can it be?
Yes!—Bat Night at the library!

Join the free-for-all fun at the public library with these book-loving bats! Shape shadows on walls, frolic in the water fountain, and roam the book-filled halls until it’s time for everyone, young and old, to settle down into the enchantment of story time. Brian Lies’ joyful critters and their nocturnal celebration cast library visits in a new light. Even the youngest of readers will want to join the batty book-fest!

Not everyone who goes to the library is human.

This is one of the cutest picture books I’ve read in a long time. As soon as I saw the blurb, I couldn’t wait to see what bats would do when they somehow managed to visit a library. Somehow the idea of them flying around in there was even more delightful once I was able to see for myself what these bats thought of their experience there. The description of their evening was completely accurate, but it also left plenty of details to be discovered later on by the audience.

Wow, what great storytelling! I don’t want to give away any spoilers for the bats’ adventures, but I will say that I was completely charmed by how they decided to spend their time. They were excited like many youngsters would be in this situation, but they were also gentle and sweet little creatures,. Even the youngest bats who had never been on this trip before and didn’t really know what to expect knew just how special this visit was.

The rhymes that described the bats’ activities were creative and lovely as well. They were written in ways that appeal to both adults and young children because of how many different things the bats did to amuse themselves in the library overnight. Some scenes were silly, and others were serious. They were all beautifully written, though, and I enjoyed them even more the second time I read them.

Bats at the Library is a fantastic bedtime story for readers of all ages. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Hop and Chomp: A Caterpillar Story by Gita V. Reddy


Hop and Chomp: A Caterpillar Story by Gita V. Reddy
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Childrens, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (32 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 4 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Hop, a young grasshopper, makes a new friend. He is Chomp, the caterpillar. Chomp is not like Hop at all. While Hop likes to explore the world around him, and to play in the grass, Chomp only eats. But Hop doesn’t mind because Chomp is a good listener. He visits him often and tells him all about his day.

One day, Chomp stops eating. And then he disappears!

Hop and Chomp: A Caterpillar Story is a simple story children will relate to, while learning about the life cycle of a butterfly.

It is also about friendship, and about accepting differences.

Both boys and girls will enjoy the book.

The illustrations are hand drawn and will appeal to young readers.

You’re never too young to make a new friend.

I’d never thought about the idea of insects having personalities before, but Hop and Chomp changed my mind about this. They were both unique little bugs that had strong opinions about how they wanted to spend their time and who they wanted to spend it with. I’ve been a fan of Ms. Reddy’s stories for a while now, but getting to know these characters so well only made me more interested in seeing what she comes up with next. She had such a creative spin on what grasshoppers and caterpillars would be like if they could speak.

I would have liked to see Hop’s mother spend a little more time explaining what a pupa was and why Chomp was inside of it. Her explanation of it was so brief that I’m not sure it would make complete sense to preschoolers. With that being said, I still enjoyed this book quite a bit and wouldn’t hesitate to read it to my relatives who are in this age group.

The friendship between Chomp and Hop was adorable. Hop’s interest in spending time with his friend only seemed to grow stronger over time, and that made me smile. I also loved the fact that they were such good buddies even though a baby grasshopper’s idea of a good time often isn’t the same as what a caterpillar would want to do.

Hop and Chomp: A Caterpillar Story was a gentle tale that I’d recommend to anyone who is in the market for something new to read at bedtime.

Princess Rosalinda and the Color Pink by Marcel Szenessy


Princess Rosalinda and the Color Pink by Marcel Szenessy
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Children’s Fiction, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical
Length: Short Story (31 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe

Rosalinda is a young energetic princess with lots of ideas. Her parents support her in every way to let her live her dreams even if it means to completely redesign their kingdom. However, one day Rosalinda makes an amazing eye-opening discovery that changes the way she sees the world…

There is such a thing as having too much of something you love.

I liked the fact that the king and queen were so patient with all of Princess Rosalinda’s requests to make everything in their life pink. It was adorable to see them do everything from order the royal painter to paint her bedroom walls to change the color of the trees outside of their castle. They seemed like they were very loving and warm parents because of how much attention they gave to the things that mattered most to their daughter.

Some of the items that Rosalinda wanted to turn pink made me grin. I’ve never looked at a lake and wondered why it wasn’t pink, so seeing how unlikely stuff like that happened was amusing. The magical elements of this fairy tale world were simply delightful.

One of my favorite parts of the plot was how it used repetition to give kids hints about what would happen next. Repeating the same phrases over and over again is a great way to make a children’s book sound like it really happened once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away.

The ending was what really made me fall in love with Rosalinda’s adventures. It was the perfect capstone to all of the things she learned after she asked her parents to make everything on their property pink. I couldn’t have imagined a better ending for her or for her family.

Princess Rosalinda and the Color Pink was a sweet and gentle story that I’d strongly recommend to princesses of all ages.

Elphie and Dad Go on an Epic Adventure by Hagit R. Oron and Or Oron


Elphie and Dad Go on an Epic Adventure by Hagit R. Oron and Or Oron

Publisher: Self-Published
enre: Children’s Fiction, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (25 pages)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 5 stars
Review by: Astilbe

BoM LASR YA copy

For Elphie, everything is an adventure.

But dad is cautious.

Is dad going to join Elphie on his quest or is the trip to the shop going to be dull and boring?

Join Elphie and dad to find out!

Anything can be an adventure if you think about it the right way.

This was such an imaginative tale. Not everyone can notice a cat sitting in a tree or a cloud floating through the sky and picture how those things could be transformed into something magical. Seeing the world through these characters’ eyes was a real treat due to of this. I’m going to think of my next walk in a completely different way because of how easy it was for Elphie to see dragons and treasures around every single corner.

The relationship between Elphie and his dad was so sweet. You could tell they really loved each other and enjoyed spending time together. I especially enjoyed seeing how attentive the dad was during their walk to the store. He wanted to make sure his son had fun while they ran their errand, and it showed.

There were a few lessons included in the plot about listening to your parents and avoiding some of the common dangers that exist when you’re walking by a road. I liked the fact that the father in this tale reminded his son to stay safe without making a big production out of it.

The dialogue was delightfully funny as well. Elphie was going through a stage where he liked to repeat certain words that his father used, so there were a few times when I grinned at how this little guy spoke. They weren’t the kind of words that I’d typically expect someone his age to use. I wouldn’t even expect him to know what some of them mean, but that only made it more adorable to see him use them.

If you’re looking for a cute picture book, look no further than Elphie and Dad Go on an Epic Adventure. It was a beautiful story that I can’t recommend highly enough!

One to Ten, Squirrel’s Bad Day by Carole P Roman


One to Ten, Squirrel’s Bad Day by Carole P Roman
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Length: Short (37 Pgs)
Rating: 5 Stars
Age Recommendation: 3+
Review by: Stephanotis

Squirrel is rushing along a tree limb when she trips, losing all her acorns into the rushing water of the river below. Angry and frustrated, she doesn’t know what to do. Her good friend, Rabbit, lends both a sympathetic ear as well as a solution.

Rather than get angry, Rabbit tells her, rate the problem on a scale of one-to-ten. By identifying and realizing the true importance of the issue, the issue may not seem so overwhelming.

Adorable forest creatures help the sad squirrel put everything into perspective so he does not to get stuck in a rut over something that may not be a big deal after all.

What a fun book! It has a wonderful message and is beautifully illustrated by Mateya Arkova.

The story is about a squirrel that slips and drops all the acorns he’s gathered. He watches them slowly float down the river and becomes sad. Along comes his friend, a rabbit, who tries to cheer him up and offers him a way to compare this disaster to others in his life. He has to rate certain things on a scale of one to ten with ten being very bad.

What I loved most about this book is the author chose situations that most children can relate to like getting bad grades at school, grandparents moving away, parents divorcing, and even bad weather ruining your outdoor games.

While reading it I thought that its theme isn’t just for children but actually for all of us. When you’re having a bad day or something terrible happens if you put it on a scale of one to ten it doesn’t seem so bad.

I’d recommend this book to parents to read with their children and maybe use it as a tool to open up a discussion about feeling down or how to get over something bad happening in your life.

If You Were Me and Lived In…Ancient Greece by Carole P. Roman

If You Were Me and Lived In…Ancient Greece by Carole P. RomanIf You Were Me and Lived In…Ancient Greece by Carole P. Roman
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Children’s Illustrated Book
Length: Short Story (54 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Age Recommendation: 3+
Review by: Stephanotis

Join Carole P. Roman and travel through time to visit the most interesting civilizations throughout history in the first four books of her new series. Learn what kind of food you might eat in Ancient Greece, the type of clothing you might wear what your name could be, and what children in the olden days did for fun. If You Were Me and Lived in…does for history what her other award-winning series did for culture. So get on-board this time-travel machine and discover the world through the eyes of a young person just like you.

As a fan of history books, I was eager to read all four books written by Carole Roman. This first one is all about Ancient Greece and illustrated by Mateya Arkova. Each book puts you into the world of a child who would have lived during each period and allows you to pretend what day to day life would have been all about. This book takes place around 350 B.C. It not only gives you a social history of the times, but a geography lesson too.

In this book there’s mention of the Olympics, Greek philosophers, democracy, and even mythology. The illustrations compliment it perfectly, and there’s a nicely detailed who’s who and glossary at the end of the book for further learning and exploring.

A great book for summer reading for children and parents alike.

Rocket-Bye by Carole P. Roman

Rocket-Bye by Carole P. Roman
Rocket-Bye by Carole P. Roman
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Length: Short Story (31 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 3+
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by: Stephanotis

Carole P. Roman travels to the stars, orbiting the moon and rocketing past planets in this adorable journey to the far reaches of the galaxy. A beautiful bedtime poem, this verse is sure to delight any child before they go to sleep.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a children’s picture book and happy to report that Rocket-Bye reminded me of the special quality that only this type of book offers.

It’s a cute story about two children who take a rocket to explore space and conclude their evening safely tucked up in bed. While it’s short on words, each one conveys their journey through the universe perfectly. The book is beautifully illustrated by Mateya Arkova and has you smiling as you turn each page.

I think this is the perfect book to not only teach young children about all the planets but makes for wonderful bedtime story to read to your children or grandchildren.