Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Book Review for Nancy Drew The New Case Files #2: The Vampire’s Kiss by Stefan Petrucha and Sarah Kinney

Nancy Drew The New Case Files #2: The Vampire’s Kiss by Stefan Petrucha and Sarah Kinney

December 21, 2010
64 Pages
Ages 9–12
Fiction/Graphic Novels/Series

The Vampire’s Kiss is a combination of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight, but without real vampires, blood, or age-inappropriate material.

Nancy Drew’s story is once again remade and given a fresh twist as a graphic novel. There are at least 20 Nancy Drew graphic novels by Papercutz, but now they have created new case files for her.

Nancy Drew is now a Vampire Slayer—or is she?

The Vampire’s Kiss is a continuation of part one of this series, The Vampire Slayer. In part one, Nancy is caught up in River Heights vampire movie mania. She is dressed as a vampire slayer, but is really not one. She and her friends run into a mysterious man who exhibits clues that suggest he might be a vampire. His name is Gregor Coffson and he has recently moved into the old Benson Estate. He is a man shrouded by unknowns.

When Gregor learns about Nancy being a detective, his interest in her grows more apparent, which bothers Nancy’s boyfriend, Ned. Nancy meets with Gregor many times, learns a lot about him, and finds that she has become his friend.

Over time it becomes apparent that Gregor is not really a vampire, but a person who has a terrible condition that forces him to live a life of seclusion. He is very pale and can only come out at night. His secret, and what he needs some major help with, is for Nancy to run interference with a person who thinks Gregor really is a vampire. This person has been stalking him and won’t leave him alone. He wants Nancy to help him.

In the process of Nancy attempting to help Gregor, the villain gets access to the house and locks Nancy and Gregor inside. She confronts the intruder. The Vampire’s Kiss is the conclusion to this case.

In part two, Nancy’s friends are trying to get back into the house, which has been locked down for protection when the villain triggers the alarm. Nancy and Gregor are confronted by the villain, who is ready to kill Gregor. As Gregor becomes weaker and more scared, Nancy steps in. And the drama begins!

Gregor reveals that he is in love with Nancy, but does she share the same feelings? Has the time she spent with him made her feel so sympathetic toward him that she will return his feelings? Or is she still in love with jealous Ned? Her decisions seal her fate.

The Vampire’s Kiss is definitely filled with the kind of suspense that will captivate readers. Fans of Nancy Drew and graphic novels are going to love her new cases. She’s still the same perky girl, but as she is a bit out of her element in these stories, revealing a refreshing versatility and even more ingenuity than we have already come to expect from this junior detective.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4: The Chest of Mystery.

Book Review for Discover Science Animal Disguises by Belinda Weber

Discover Science Animal Disguises by Belinda Weber

December 21, 2010
56 Pages
Ages 9–12

Animal Disguises is a book filled with a plethora of information about the cleverness of animals and how they survive and protect themselves in the wild.

Similar to the other books in the Discover Series, Animal Disguises has a table of contents in the beginning of the book for easy reference. Each topic is broken down individually. The first main topic covered is camouflage. From explaining what camouflage is, from how animals blend in with their environments, whether by patterns on their coats or skin, or their color, or their size. It also includes pictures of various animals that perfectly complement the text.

Then we explore animals that match in their environments so seamlessly that one would never know they were there until stumbled upon. Some animals live in leaves, hide themselves in fruit and flowers, disguise themselves within rocks, or even imitate tree branches.

Camouflage can be achieved in various ways. Some animals use counter shading as an element of surprise, especially those animals that can be seen from the sky as well as from the water. Certain animals undergo a color-change phase. In the summer certain animals are brown to match their dry environments, while in winter their coats will change to white to match the snow.

We cannot forget the animals that are color shifters. These critters can change color to match their environment in a matter of seconds. When changing color or shape will not do, some animals will cleverly disguise themselves by adding their shape whatever happens to be around them.

There are many animals whose bodies were designed to trick a predator or prey, whether it is to save themselves, or to get food. Some animals play dead, inflate, display color, or set traps. Snakes, turtles, and fish all have their own ways of tricking prey into being their next meal, while others copy the adaptations of poisonous animals to keep them safe.

At the end of the book, there is also a crafts section, a glossary, parent and teacher notes, a section on factoids, and an animal disguises quiz to check on reading comprehension.

Overall, this book did an excellent job adding just the right amount of information to appeal to readers enough to keep their interest without bogging them down with too much detail about one specific animal. The photographs provided images sufficient for allowing the reader to see some of the changes or adaptations discussed. Children who have enjoyed the other books in the Discover Science Series will not be disappointed with this one.

Though this series is meant for children within the ages of 9–12, younger children in grades K–3 will also enjoy this book. Animal lovers will be amazed at how these creatures can adapt to their environments, increasingly appreciating the diversity and ingenuity in the animal kingdom.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4: The Chest of Mystery.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Book Review for My Penguin Osbert In Love by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

My Penguin Osbert In Love by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

December 14, 2010
48 Pages
Ages 4–8
Fiction/Children’s/Picture Book/Series Fiction
Sent by Candlewick

My Penguin Osbert in Love is a delightful story filled with friendship, devotion and love.

My Penguin Osbert in Love is the second book in this series. In the first book, My Penguin Osbert, which came out in 2004, Joe receives a real live penguin for Christmas. However, Joe obviously cannot keep a penguin at home, so he places Osbert in the local zoo, where the bird is much happier.

My Penguin Osbert In love features the return of Osbert. After leaving the safety of the zoo, along with 22 penguin friends, Osbert goes over to Joe’s house to ask him to take him to the South Pole. You see, Osbert has received an invitation to come to a “Once-in-a-Century South Pole Extravaganza” to see the southern lights. Osbert and his friends really don’t want to miss this rare event, but there is a problem—penguins don’t fly—so Osbert thinks that Joe could take him.

Joe, however, is expected to be at the Midwinter Bash his mother is throwing that day but, thinking that the South Pole is a straight shot, decides to take the real helicopter that Santa gave him this Christmas to take the tuxedo wearing bunch to their event. The story then deviates with some stops here and there, including bathroom breaks and a stop with a T-shirt-selling girl, before actually reaching the South Pole.

Once there Joe and the penguins see the southern lights, which are better than watching fireworks on the 4th of July. But that isn’t all that Osbert is staring at. He is captivated by Aurora Australis, a female penguin. From that point on Osbert is in love. The two penguins spend some time together until Joe has to return home. Twenty-three penguins returned with Joe, including Aurora, but does Joe make it to the Midwinter Bash on time?

This is a very cute story. The artwork with the colorful pastels really brings out each detail of the characters and the landscape, making it feel believable. The story was filled with humor and some fanciful exaggeration.

Osbert and Aurora’s encounter was brief and near the end of the story; it could have been further developed. Though children will be left with a curiosity about what will happen with Aurora and Osbert, they will also enjoy the illustrations and humor. Children ages 4–8, who loved the first picture book, will be excited to read this 48-page sequel.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Book Review for How George Washington Saved The American Revolution (The Crossing) by Jim Murphy

How George Washington Saved The American Revolution (The Crossing) by Jim Murphy
Scholastic Press
December 1, 2010
96 Pages
Ages 9-12
Nonfiction/George Washington/Historical

The Crossing is a delightful recounting of George Washington’s journey into becoming one of the most memorable men that has ever lived.

The Crossing begins with the battles at Lexington and Concord in Boston where the American forces triumphed over the British. This was the infancy of the Revolutionary War. Knowing that the British would come back from their great loss, retaliating with a vengeance, the colonies needed a strong leader to command. John Adams suggested George Washington. At that time he already had an illustrious career as a military man. Washington accepted the position, but with reservation. He soon learned that he would have to fight with an army that was inexperienced and raw. Most were farmers and had little training.

Washington would go up against General William Howe, who was a fierce and courageous fighter. Defeating him was going to be almost impossible—especially with the men Washington had under his command. They were undisciplined and unruly. When the sign of battle came, most of the men fled for their lives. When the battles became tougher, many of his men deserted. Washington was sure they were going to lose. Howe was outfoxing him at every turn. But then certain blessings came to Washington, fates of luck concerning the weather.

Fog hid his men from view when they had retreated to a place of safety. Rain was also a factor that helped Washington. He soon realized that he could not defeat Howe the old conventional way: Howe had a more experienced army, well disciplined soldiers, and the respect of his men. Washington definitely had some work to do.

But Washington was crafty beyond his years. He went to more of a hit-and-run approach in taking out the British. It was working splendidly for him. Without having to face his enemy in a head on battle this approach saved more of his men’s lives and brought confidence to his army.

With the cunning and bravery of Washington, and with the help of some of his valiant generals, Washington was able to beat the British. The British signed a peace treaty that officially recognized the United States as a free and independent country. As for George Washington, he changed during the war. He started out as a man who could have failed at any moment, to a man who would lead our country toward what it is today.

The Crossing retells in detail every battle and hardship that Washington had to endure during the Revolutionary War. It is a very interesting historical accounting. It shows George Washington’s ability to overcome the odds against an army that should have beaten him. With a ragtag amateur army, George Washington bested the enemy several times. This story speaks of George Washington’s leadership, strength and determination. He was indeed an amazing man.

Though this story is a very serious accounting about George Washington’s journey through the Revolutionary War, it would have been interesting to see his other side as well. George Washington was a lover of animals. He had many pets. During the war, General Howe had lost his dog; it had wandered where Washington’s men had found it. Instead of hurting the animal, Washington returned it to its owner along with a letter. His kindness brought him some respect from the English people. After the war, George Washington was a well-liked man, which obviously led him into becoming our nation’s first president. He had definitely proven himself during the war, not just in his tactical abilities but in his humanity.

The author, Jim Murphy, is celebrated for his engaging and carefully researched nonfiction for young readers, winning many awards for his works.

Even children older than the targeted ages of 9–12 will love the history the story provides. The Crossing also shows many pictures, the famous one being on the cover, Washington crossing the Delaware. In the back of the book is an explanation of the painting. There is also a brief timeline of the Revolutionary War, along with websites to further discussion. Overall, a great historical read of one of our nations great men.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4: The Chest of Mystery.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Review for Who Will Be My Valentine This Year? by Jerry Pallotta and David Biedrzycki

Who Will Be My Valentine This Year? by Jerry Pallotta and David Biedrzycki
December 1, 2010
32 Pages
Ages 4-8
Fiction/Children’s Books/Valentine’s Day/Animals

Who Will Be My Valentine This Year? is a cute Valentine’s Day tale that will delight children of picture-book age.

Who Will Be My Valentine This Year? stars a huge pink hippo who wonders, “Who will be my Valentine?” Will it be the leopard? No, he drives a car and Hippo rides a bike. Could it be the butterfly? No, he reads a book and Hippo likes the movies. Will it be the lion? No, he doesn’t even want to discuss the possibilities and, besides, he roars all the time.

There are several animals that hippo talks to about being her Valentine throughout the story, but each of them say no, refusing because of their differences in interests. This saddens Hippo, but she doesn’t give up on finding her perfect match. She knows she is different than other animals, but surely there is some animal out there who will suit her. She is big, pink, and has a beautiful smile. Will she find that one true love?

The authors of Who Will Be My Valentine This Year? are also the authors of Who Will Haunt My House on Halloween? and Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight? This story follows the pattern of their other books, bringing in unique animals and outrageous possibilities. Fans will be reassured with their similarities. Who Will Be My Valentine This Year? is a story that speaks of differences, friendship, and acceptance. Children between the ages of 4–8 will be mightily entertained by Hippo’s quest.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Book Review for World of Wonders: The Most Mesmerizing Natural Phenomena on Earth by Elisabeth Roman

World of Wonders: The Most Mesmerizing Natural Phenomena on Earth by Elisabeth Roman

Abrams Books for Young Readers
December 1, 2010
192 Pages
Ages 9-12
Nonfiction/World of Wonders/Earth Sciences/Zoology
Sent by Abrams Books

World of Wonders is an amazing voyage through stunning images that depict life and planet Earth in its most natural and awe-inspiring form.

Have you ever wondered what the heaviest flower is? Or which fish lays the most eggs? Or what volcano is the most active? The one discussed here has an eruption that lasts for decades. Cool, huh?

World of Wonders is a collection of the most unusual and unique animals, natural wonders, and plant and/or tree species. Each of the pages asks a question, then right below it, flipped upside down, is the answer. Below that is a detailed explanation that reveals the truth about some of the world’s mysteries. Full-page pictures of each topic enhance the experience.

There are around 90 facts. Some, many readers will have learned and or heard about at some point in their lives. But there are several facts about everyday objects, animals, and phenomena that many people may have never heard about before, and certainly have never seen, which makes the reading experience a more intriguing one. The table of contents is at the end of the book, instead of the beginning under the specific questions for easy identification.

The World of Wonders is a tremendous book of amazing facts from around the world. It doesn’t focus on one topic but varies into length, distance, time, temperature, growth, age, danger, animals, caves, sand, mountains, and much more. There is a lot to learn and enjoy throughout the pages. Children between the ages of 9–12, as well as adults, will enjoy reading this book.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review for Banana! by Ed Vere

Banana! by Ed Vere

Henry Holt and Co.
November 23, 2010
32 Pages
Ages 4-8
Fiction/Children’s Books/Bananas/Animals

Banana! Is a nearly wordless tale about two monkeys and their battle for a banana.

Banana! Begins with two monkeys walking and seeing each other. One of the monkeys is holding a banana. The other monkey spies the banana and decides that he would like it, but the other monkey refuses to give it up. When the monkey demands it, the other monkey refuses, waiting for the proper words. The monkey then goes into various versions of trying to get it.

First, we have the demand. Doesn’t work. Then he goes for the tantrum with the tears, sprawling out onto the ground like a child in a toy store. The performance doesn’t quite get it done. The other monkey merely places his finger to his ear, waiting patiently for the proper words. After some time, they’re finally said. When the monkey hands over the banana, the other monkey takes it and begins to walk away. Now the original owner of the banana is left with none. So he asks the monkey politely if he could have the banana back. Does it work? Do we have another episode? Or, can the monkeys find an equitable compromise?

The artwork in this story really hits spot on with the preschool and kindergarten level. With the spare text the child can figure out in his or her own way what is going on in the story and what that compromise might comprise.

Ed Vere is also the author and illustrator of various children’s books including Chick, Everyone’s Elephant, Getaway, and Everyone’s Hungry. They are all illustrated and written in the same manner as this one.

Banana! has a larger format than most picture books, perfect for a child or students to view the simple, intense, and expressive illustrations. Young children will enjoy this 32-page hardcover picture book teaching them about manners in a subtle but powerful manner.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Review for Care of Creation by Christy Baldwin

Care of Creation by Christy Baldwin
Tribute Books

Care of Creation is a children’s view of how to respect and take care of the Earth for a healthier future for all.

Care of Creation is a story of Christian influence, which tells of our obligation to take care of the earth and all that is on it. Each page is filled with ways to protect and take care of the environment while incorporating verses from the bible. Topics discussed include pollution, recycling, cleaning up in our communities, transportation, water conservation, using alternate sources of energy, energy conservation, and much more. The author even includes an interactive guide in the back of the book to further discussion.

This story is an easy way to talk with children about their responsibilities in taking care of the environment. Children will find there are many things that can be done in each state or country; but there is also much that can be done right in our own homes, cities or towns, which can ease our impact on the environment. Every effort, no matter how small, can help the environment in some way. The author shares her passion and love of the earth, teaching the reader much about how we can combat serious environmental concerns and problems that will make our world a safer and healthier place to live, if we do it together.

Children between the ages of 4–8 will especially enjoy the colorful illustrations of this informative and educational story. To learn more about the author and her works or about her publisher, check out the following links:

Book web site:  http://www.careforcreationbook.com/

Christy Baldwin Facebook:


Tribute Books website:


Tribute Books Facebook:


Tribute Books Twitter:

Christy Baldwin Bio:  

Writing has been a passion of Christy's since she was very young. As a child, she loved to write stories for her grandfather and poems just for fun. She lives in Mason, Ohio with her family and is active in church, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts and volunteering with various organizations. Christy has a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Cedarville University and a master's degree in Special Education from the University of Scranton. She is a stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her kids and being involved in their schools. Her previous children's titles include Nine Things Nathan Noticed at Night and Remembering Wilma.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Book Interview for my Crypto-Capers Series

Come and check out Katie Hines blog at http://katiehines.blogspot.com/
She has interviewed me about my writing, my books and much more. Look forward to reading any comments or questions anyone has.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Upcoming Events for the Month of November

Here are some of the locations I will be during the month of November. During these events I will be offering some great deals on the purchasing of my Crypto-Capers series for the holidays. Readers will be able to buy all 4 books in the series in a set for $40. Saving quite a bit a money per book, normally selling for about $12.95 a piece in the stores, which is still a reasonable price. I look forward to signing these books for you. It is my holiday special. See you there!

November 11th
I will be at Gerych's in Fenton Michigan celebrating Ladies Night Out from 6-9pm. There are going to be lots of great things for women to enjoy in this wonderful store. Much pampering to be had. http://www.gerychsflowers.com/

November 15th
I will be at Huckleberry Railroad at Crossroads Village from 4-9pm for Ladies Night Out. For more information please check out the following link. http://www.geneseecountyparks.org/christmas_LNO.htm

November 20th
I will be at Royal Oak High School PTSA Holiday Arts & Crafts Fair from 10-5pm.

November 26 & 27
I will be at the Chesaning Craft Show right after Thanksgiving from 10-5pm both days. Great Christmas shopping opportunities.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Book Review for Discover Science Insects by Barbara Taylor

Discover Science Insects by Barbara Taylor

November 9, 2010
56 Pages
Ages 9–12
Nonfiction/Children’s Books/Science/Insects

Discover Science Insects is one of six books in the Discover Science Series. This book gives a close up look into the lives of insects and how they function, adapt and survive.

The table of contents provides a great breakdown of what to expect in the book. It begins by covering what an insect is, insect senses, insect hunters, life cycles, and much more. Each page has close-up pictures of the insects discussed along with good detailed explanations. Even some of the insect mouthparts that are very rarely seen without a microscope because of their extremely small size, are pictured and discussed, creating a good understanding of the function of these parts and how the insects use them in different ways to get what they need to eat.

The book covers various types of insects including ones that fly, live on plants or land, live on humans or animals, and ones that live or utilize the water. There is a broad range for the interested reader to learn about.

At the end of the book are lots of great features that parents and teachers will find useful and beneficial. The first part is a craft section that teaches children how to study the insects in their own backyard, how to create a butterfly, and how to make insect models and mobiles. There is a section that includes a glossary discussing the terms used throughout the book.

Another section includes a note for parents and teachers. This section is to help teach and reinforce various elements of the science and language arts curricula. It also provides cross curricular lessons in geography, art, and math. This is superb for a teacher in a regular school or home school setting. It offers a lot of great ideas that will get children thinking about the information and applying it at the same time.

An added element is an insect quiz that maximizes reading comprehension with chances to refer back to the text for the answers. At the end of the book there is also a further research section informing the reader of other books, websites, or places to visit to learn more.

Overall, this book is an excellent source for children to learn about insects. It briefly covers enough information to interest the reader and getting them into wanting to learn more about these underrated—and often dismissed as disgusting—creatures, which, as this book proves, are really very interesting.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4: The Chest of Mystery.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Book Review for Mummy Mazes: A Monumental Book by Elizabeth Carpenter

Mummy Mazes: A Monumental Book by Elizabeth Carpenter

(Workman Publishing, November 4, 2010)
ISBN 10: 0761160744
ISBN 13: 978-0761160748
36 Pages
Ages 9-12
Fiction/Children’s Books/Mazes/Ancient Egypt

Mummy Mazes is an amazing amalgamation of history, meticulously designed mazes, and archeology.

Mummy Mazes is an oversized book that takes the reader on an exciting expedition along with Professor Archie Ologist to uncover the history and mystery surrounding ancient Egypt.

Readers will have to crawl through dark and eerie passageways to find false doors that lead to hidden chambers and long-lost tombs filled with Egyptian treasure. They must sift through the sands of the pyramids and drift precariously through the Nile, learning and exploring as they go.

Readers will learn about astronomy, various symbols of importance, and about arcane information such as why Egyptians wore such luxurious wigs. The book also features facts about mummies and monuments, ancient Gods, and the meaning of a pharaoh mask. A plethora of information fills each and every page, tantalizing the reader into wanting to know more.

What makes this book unique is the layout. Each page is poster sized at 12 x 17½ inches, folding neatly in half into a convenient, portable size that will fit in any bag. The pages tear out so when the reader has completed the mazes, they can decorate and color them. On each page is a picture of a monument, artifact, or Egyptian object. Inside each object, and sometimes around the pages in other areas, are intricately designed mazes that whisk the reader all over the page in search of the right path.

Hieroglyphs also abound. These symbols are used in many ways. There are three passages near the start and about three at the finish areas to challenge the reader to figure out which is the correct hieroglyph to begin their journey into the maze —and to finish it. The hieroglyph at the correct endpoint, along with its page number, is used in the back of the book to decode a secret mummy’s message using a cartouche translator.

And just in case it is needed, the back of the book also contains the answers to all of the wonderful mazes.

Overall, this book was well researched and designed to incorporate many educational skills, including a plethora of fun elements that will captivate the reader while satisfying their love of solving mazes. This book is perfect for children the ages of 9–12.

With its tremendous amount of information, Mummy Mazes satisfies the social studies requirement for the national U.S. elementary school curriculum. Author Elizabeth Carpenter is also the author of Dinomazes and is the founder of Mazeology.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4: The Chest of Mystery.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Book Releases and Updates

Good Morning,

I just wanted to send everyone updates about my new releases. Just released in September was Book 4 of The Crypto-Capers Series: The Chest of Mystery. This is the long awaited other half to Book 3 The Legend of the Golden Monkey. The summary of the book is below. Also released this year was my new lower elementary series. It is about animal detectives. The reader will be learning about animals and animal tracks. My website is full of great information. More is going to be added. Books are available through Barnes and Nobles, Amazon .com, my website of course, and other bookstores. Thank you and hope everyone is doing well.

Book 4: The Crypto-Capers in The Chest of Mystery


In the conclusion of the search for the Golden Monkey, the Crypto-Capers, Granny, Max, Mia and Morris, find more than what they bargained for. From the very beginning, their resolve will be tested. Having found two of the pieces to open the treasure room in book 3, they soon come to realize they only have half of the puzzle solved. Their search for the other two pieces, will become more exigent. The Panther is hot on their trail, sabotaging them at every turn, like they had done to him in Chichen Itza. Feeling like he is close to finding the Golden Monkey, the Panther sends every accomplice he knows to thwart the detective team from finding the pieces, while at the same time, using their talents and knowledge for his own gain.

In The Chest of Mystery the team will travel across the globe to Pisa, Italy where they will have to fight for their freedom, or be captured by the enemy. They must be one step ahead, but can it be done when the man who holds all the answers disappears without a trace? The Crypto-Capers list of friends begins to dwindle until they realize the answers are right in front of them, all they have to do is look, and believe. Their fate drops in the hands of one boy, Emmanuel Watson, whose history is tied to the chest, but can he find the strength to do what he must, especially when the world is against him? When so close to accomplishing their goal, obstacles arise, and the scent of betrayal is in the air. Come join the Crypto-Capers in the closure of the Golden Monkey. Good luck!


The Adventures of Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill in Case#1 The Great Pie Catastrophe 
Down in Acorn Valley just before the 42nd annual Pie Festival could begin, a crime was committed. Someone stole Miss Cluck’s blueberry pie that she was going to enter into the pie contest. Who did she call to come toher aid? She called the best detectives in the valley of course—Joe-Joe Nut and Biscuit Bill animal detectives. As they discover clues and gather facts, the hunt begins and Joe-Joe and Biscuit follow animal tracks that lead them to four different suspects. Bears, ducks, frogs, raccoons…oh my! But who committed the crime? Use your deduction and reasoning skills to solve the case along with Joe-Joe and Biscuit. Learn about animaltracks and some of the animals who make them. Can the case be solved before the judging of the pies? Come find out in Book #1: The Great Pie Catastrophe.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Signing Event at Durand Middle School

I will be at Durand Middle School for their Craft Show signing and discussing all of my wonderful books on Saturday October 23 from 10-4pm. Feel free to stop by and enjoy the 75 other crafters. See you there.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Book Review for National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals by Catherine D. Hughes

National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Animals by Catherine D. Hughes

(National Geographic Children’s Books, October 12, 2010)
ISBN 10: 1426307047
ISBN 13: 978-1426307041
128 Pages       Ages 4-8        Nonfiction/Children’s Books/Animals/Reference

National Geographic Little Kids’ First Big Book of Animals is a wonderful animal reference that will delight children and will entertain them for years to come.

Inspired by the National Geographic Little Kids magazine comes an exhilarating new reference book for children between the ages of 4–8. It is a 128-page book filled with various types of information about some well-known animals of the world and some more obscure ones as well.

The table of contents is broken down by habitat plus a few of the animals that live in that particular habitat. It is an easy guide to help readers find their way through the pages. Each spread is filled with wonderful up-close photographs of animals and their babies in their natural habitat.

What was an excellent addition to this book was the Facts section on each page. Each Facts section includes: kind of animal, where it lives, the size of the animal, the types of food it eats, the sounds it makes, and how many babies the animal typically has. Children will find this information really interesting, as well as the facts about some of the various species of certain animals. The added pictures help compare the different species so the reader can see the differences or similarities. The text is simple enough not to be intimidating.

Children and parents will love the section in the back of the book that includes parent tips for extending the reader’s experience beyond the pages of the book. The activities relate to majority of the animals, helping children picture themselves in that animal’s world. An animal map in the back of the book color codes each continent, showing the reader where each animal discussed can be found. There is also a glossary and an index.

The only quibble was that not all babies of the animals were shown, or all the names of what they were called. With majority of the animals in the book shown taking care of their young, and how the baby animals grow and change, this felt like a misstep in the text.

Overall, this book was well developed, bringing many unique features to the younger age group, keeping them fascinated with animals and the world around them. Children of all ages will enjoy this hardcover book and will learn a ton.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4: The Chest of Mystery.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Book Review for G.W. Frog and the Circus Lion by George W. Everett

G.W. Frog and the Circus Lion by George W. Everett

(West Bow Press, August 2010)

G.W. Frog and the Circus Lion is a cute story about friendship and helping others.

G.W. Frog and the Circus Lion begins with G.W. Frog being woken from his sleep by loud noises coming from the town of Frog Holler. G.W. and several of the other animals of the wood, soon come to realize that a circus has come to town. Curiosity, getting the better of them, caused the animals of the woods to walk around and look at all of the amazing animals of the circus. There was one animal, however, that caught their attention the most—a sobbing lion. A lion, who was usually the king of all beasts, brave and strong, was sad about something. G.W. Frog wanted to know why.

So, he asked him. The lion replied that he was sad because he was old and had lost all of his teeth. He felt he was more of a laughing stock to children instead of the proud lion he was before. It is because of this that the circus boss won’t let the lion travel with them during the parade in town. G.W. Frog, along with his friend, Gerald the Grasshopper, feels sorry for the lion. Naturally they also feel compelled to help him by finding him some new teeth. But can it be done before the parade starts at 2pm? What will they try to use for teeth?

The bright and colorful illustrations, really accentuates the words of the story. The book is bigger than most children books and is paperback, but works well with children’s hands, the pictures large enough for children to analyze and admire.

Children between the ages of 4–8 will especially enjoy the simple and cute story that speaks of how strangers can help someone in need, bringing them happiness, in this 32-page picture book.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4: The Chest of Mystery.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book Signing for Kapnicks Orchard

Hello Everyone,

I am going to be at Kapnicks Orchard for their fall festival this weekend on the 9th and 10th of October. I will be signing all copies of my books and discussing them. It should be a great time with hay rides, picking pumpkins and buying apples. Hope to see everyone there.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review for Me, Frida by Amy Novesky

Me, Frida

Me, Frida by Amy Novesky

(Abrams Books for Young Readers, October 1, 2010)

Me, Frida is an exhilarating true story about an amazing artist who changed the way people saw her and inspired many others to not forget their own dreams.

Me, Frida is about Frida Kahlo. She married a great Mexican painter named Diego Rivera. To Diego, his wife was as bright as the stars in the sky, but Frida felt small and unimportant in comparison to him. It was how she saw herself—and the way others had also seen her.

Frida and Diego were both artists, Diego more well-known. Frida was still trying to find herself as an artist and a woman when they moved from Mexico to San Francisco during the 1930s. And though Frida was at first intimidated by the big city, it was there that she found her muse.

Frida discovered the beauty, diversity, and exuberance of America. She found her hidden talents as an artist and was soon working diligently to become better. At parties, Frida would cling to Diego’s arm and it was there, in the public eye, that no one ever saw her. People would ignore her existence. It was at one such party, after Frida found her inner strength, that she was tired of being silent. She began to sing the most inspiring song, and it was her husband who cheered the loudest, believing all along in her abilities, but just waiting for her to express them.

She created a painting called Frieda and Diego Rivera. It was this painting that expressed how the world saw them as a couple. Her husband was painted big while she was painted smaller. But it was not how Frida felt anymore. She knew she was more than this, and she began to put herself first.

This is an inspiring story for young children encouraging them to believe in themselves and never settle for something less than what they truly deserve. Frida found herself in San Francisco, and she will forever be remembered as a woman who changed the art world. She is now one of the most celebrated artists of all time.

Children between the ages of 4–8 will especially enjoy the colorful artwork throughout this 32-page picture book, as well as the meaningful message.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4: The Chest of Mystery.

Book Review for The Legend of the Golden Snail by Graeme Base

The Legend of the Golden Snail
The Legend of the Golden Snail by Graeme Base

(Abrams Books for Young Readers, October 1, 2010)

The Legend of the Golden Snail is an amazing adventure that will sail into reader’s hearts.

In Wilbur’s favorite picture book, there is a legend about a Golden Snail sailing through a magical realm to its home in the Spiral Isles. A Grand Enchanter banished it there to the Ends of the Earth until a new master came to claim it, reciting a spell that will awaken it from its slumber.

Wilbur feels he is destined to be the next Grand Enchanter, so he sets off for the Ends of the Earth where he tells his mother that he will be gone for a hundred years. Her only request? To make sure he wears his captain’s hat.

On his adventure he runs across a bush of blossoming butterflies that are wilting—so he waters them. He then comes across a monstrous sea creature and begins to fight him, until he realizes that the monster is ensnared in a net and is just upset. He then comes across a motley crew of earwig pirates who are catching lantern fish and stealing their light bulbs—so he frees them.

Not feeling much like a Grand Enchanter, he becomes sad as his sails begin to lose the wind—until the butterflies he had helped whisk by and generate a tremendous wind. He then became ensnared in the Slithering Sea, until the sea monster comes to free him. A storm blows him into the Maze of Madness where he thinks he would be lost forever, until he sees the avenue of lights from the lantern fish to guide him safely along his way.

As Wilbur reaches the Ends of the Earth, saying the magic spell that will awaken the Golden Snail, he soon finds that his desire to be the Grand Enchanter wanes. It’s not what he wants anymore. He then commands the Golden Snail to take him to the Spiral Isles where he does something unexpected. It is there that he begins his next journey. What will Wilbur be in search of next? And what miraculous treasure will he find?

The author, Graeme Base, is well known for his vibrant and bold images that make the reader feel a part of the adventure. He has authored and illustrated many books that are equally as charming, such as Uno’s Garden, Jungle Drums, and Enigma: A Magical Mystery. Base’s fanciful locations create a smile as they draw the reader into Wilbur’s adventure, watching him unknowingly be the best captain that ever was.

Children between the ages of 4–8 will especially enjoy trying to find the hidden snail and crossbones that are hidden throughout this 48-page picture book.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4: The Chest of Mystery.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review for The Golden Pathway by Donna McDine

The Golden Pathway by Donna McDine

(Guardian Angel Publishing, August 12, 2010)

The Golden Pathway is a historical fiction book that talks about slavery and the Underground Railroad.

People who were alive during the time of slavery, believed in two things in the south. They either believed in slavery or did not. David is the boy in this story, who did not believe in slavery. He did not agree that another person should be owned, and he certainly did not believe in the abuse and bad treatment that a slave sometimes had to endure. David’s Pa is a man with little qualm about beating slaves. He, on occasion, especially when he had a little too much to drink, would take his frustrations out on the family's slave, Jenkins. After hearing Pa whip Jenkins for the umpteenth time—he had enough. David was tired of his father’s drunken outbursts of insanity, and he often had prayed that Pa wouldn’t find another target for his temper.

So, he waited. David waited until the chaos was over to try and comfort his friend. It made him sick to see the whip lashes on Jenkins back. Wanting to do something to save Jenkins, and yet also fearing what would happen to him, David decides that Jenkins must be set free. The only way to do that was to take him to a Quaker, who was someone who did not believe in slavery. A Quaker would help slaves escape to the north to freedom via the Underground Railroad. It was considered the golden pathway to freedom.

The Quaker tells David where to meet him with Jenkins. Do they get caught? Will David be punished for aiding a slave? On the other hand, will Jenkins finally be free?

The Golden Pathway is a story about courage and friendship. Children will be able to learn a little more about this time period. Mrs. McDine adds a bibliography page to the back of her book where readers can learn more about slavery. She also adds an Author’s Note page that provides further information for the reader.

Children who like historical fiction between the ages of 8–12 will enjoy this 26-page picture book, which is available in hardcover, paperback and e-book.

This book was reviewed for Pump Up Your Books Blog Tour for Donna McDine. For more info on the other places, she will be visiting, please check out her website at www.donnamcdine.com

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review for Nat Geo Wild Animal Atlas: Earth's Astonishing Animals and Where They Live by National Geographic

Nat Geo Wild Animal Atlas: Earth's Astonishing Animals and Where They Live by National Geographic

(National Geographic Children's Books, September 28, 2010)

Nat Geo Wild Animal Atlas: Earth’s Astonishing Animals and Where They Live is a perfect tool for introducing young readers to amazing animals across the globe.

Readers learn about various continents and regions where certain animals live. The book incorporates fact-filled essays that encourage children to read on and discover more. The maps are big, bright, and easy to read, and are custom designed for young readers, introducing them to the physical features of each continent. Animal icons show where animals live on land, also providing information about their habitats, diets, survival skills, and much more.

This atlas is truly unique in design, using maps and photographs to complement each other, creating images that will capture kids’ natural curiosity. It creates a fun-filled learning experience.

The book is 13.7 inches tall, which is perfect to be read and used in a classroom. The Table of Contents breaks information up by continents as well as where animals live, a look at their ecosystems, and spotlights on specific animals for discussion.

Pictures of each ecosystem are also provided. This book is great for learning about geography, endangered species, habitats, continents, map reading, and how these all connect.

Fans of other National Geographic books will soon add this to their list. Nat Geo Wild Animal Atlas: Earth’s Astonishing Animals and Where They Live is a step above the rest, combining a plethora of information and beautiful pictures that will ignite a passion in children for animals and the world they live in, making them want to be a part of this confluence, which has always been National Geographic’s goal.

Children ages 4–8 will enjoy this 64-page, hardcover, nonfiction picture book.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4: The Chest of Mystery.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Interview with Les Berman author of The Power of the Blue Medallion

“The Power of the Blue Medallion”

By Les Berman


This Captivating novel follows the wild adventures of three charismatic young aliens from the distant planet Hebutar, and their companion on Earth. Zytor, the son of the ruler of Hebutar, is determined to stop a group
of terrorists from causing chaos in the United States. Against his father’s wishes, Zytor travels to Earth and meets a young girl, Tandy, whose father was killed by terrorists. Zytor’s sister Phelena, a Captain in the Hebutarian Military and a fellow soldier, are dispatched by her father to bring Zytor back to Hebutar before he mingles into the affairs of Planet Earth. While tracking down the terrorist, Zytor gets his medallion stolen (a powerful weapon), forcing him to team up with his sister and devise plans to retrieve the medallion, and help authorities stop the evil terrorists from executing a terrible attack in Washington D.C.

Joining us today is Les Berman, author of The Power of the Blue Medallion. We’re going to talk to Les about his new book The Power of the Blue Medallion and learn how it can help educate teens.

Welcome, Les. It’s great to have you with us.

Thanks for inviting me, Renee.

Q: Please tell our readers a bit about yourself.

A: Well, I’m in my third years as a retired math teacher. I’m keeping busy coaching high school track and field athletes, one of which received a full scholarship from UC Berkley. I coached many International and Olympic Athletes of the years. I am also in the process in writing another action thriller with math problems related to the story.

Q: When did you decide to start writing?

A: I was teaching seventh grade math at Haskell Middle School in Cerritos, California, trying different ways in which to motivate my students. One day I just came up with the thought that if I could relate math problems to an exciting story, students would be more apt to think about math in their everyday lives. And that was the start of my writing career.

Q: Where did the idea for The Power of the Blue Medallion come from?

A: That’s a good question, Renee. I very much enjoy reading action thrillers, and after reading a couple of Harry Potter novels, I came up with the idea of combing fantasy with adventure and intrigue.

Q: Can you tell us about your book?

A: This novel follows the wild adventures of three charismatic young aliens from the distant planet Hebutar, and their companion on Earth. Zytor, the son of the ruler of Hebutar, is determined to stop a group of terrorists from causing chaos in the United States. Against his father’s wishes, Zytor travels to Earth and meets a young girl, Tandy, whose father was killed by terrorists. Zytor’s sister Phelena, a Captain in the Hebutarian Military and a fellow soldier, are dispatched by her father to bring Zytor back to Hebutar before he mingles into the affairs of Planet Earth. While tracking down the terrorist, Zytor gets his medallion stolen (a powerful weapon), forcing him to team up with his sister and devise plans to retrieve the medallion, and help authorities stop the evil terrorists from executing a terrible attack in Washington D.C.

Q: Tell us about your main characters. How can readers relate to them? What will they like about them?

A: Zytor is a stubborn, yet good-hearted young boy who contently has disagreements with his father. His fascination with planet earth and helping their people deal with terrorist elicit continual conflict within his family. Readers will easily relate to this age-old conflict within families.Tandy is a very smart, determined teenage earth girl whose father was killed by terrorist. Realizing Zyor is her only hope to avenge her father’s death, she teams up with him in search of the terroris. Phelena, the sister of Zytor is a young military officer whose close relationship had changed in the recent years. Brought together in the search for the Blue Medallion, their relationship matures and respect grows between them. Everyone has dreams of being heroic at one time or another. I am sure the read will be completely absorbed in this adventure these teenagers experience.

Q: What age group is your book aimed for?

A: I wrote the novel for sixth grade through high school. But I’m finding many adults have told me they really have enjoyed the book.

Q: Readers come with a variety of likes and dislikes. What did you do to make The Power of the Blue Medallion appeal to a diverse audience? What is unique about it?

A: Both male and female readers can relate to the protagonists in the story. I also attempted to keep the reader in suspense as the adventure develops. I believe the story is unique by having young aliens in the pursuit of terrorist on earth. Also adding math problems related to the story and relating problems to the High School Exit Exam would be different and a valuable tool for students.

Q: Where can readers purchase copies of The Power of the Blue Medallion?

A: Readers can purchase the novel from my Website: www.ThePowerOfTheBlueMedallion.com or http://www.novelwithmath.com/. Readers can also download the novel with the Amazon Kendle or the Apple ipad with an Amazon App.

Q: In what ways is your book available to the public? Hardcover, soft cover, etc…

A: The book is available in soft cover or as a download.

Q: Do you have a website, facebook and/or blog, twitter page that fans of your book can follow you on?

A: Readers can follow me on facebook and twitter.

Q: What is next for you? Any new books in the works?

A: I’m currently in the process in writing a mystery with students attempting to solve a complicated plot twisting jewel robbery.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

A: I hope readers will leave comments on my website after reading the book. I especially would like to here comments from student needing help on the math section of the High School Exit Exam.

Thank you for speaking with us today, Les. We hope to hear more about The Power of the Blue Medallion soon.

Thank you for inviting me to talk about my novel. I’m looking forward to reading the comments on my website.

Les is on Pump Up Your Book Blog Tours. To find out more about where he will be touring please check out his tour schedule at the following link. Thanks Everyone!


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Signing Event

I am going to be at the wonderful Clinton Fall Festival on September 24th, 25th, and 26th from 9-6pm each day signing and discussing all of my books including my new release, The Chest of Mystery. The festivial is located in the town of Clinton. I hope to see you there.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Book Signing Event

I am going to be at the Perry Festival in Perry Michigan today from 9-2pm to sign all of my books including my new release, The Chest of Mystery in front of the city hall. Stop by and say hello. Thanks!

Book Review for My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? by Jennifer Fosberry

My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream? by Jennifer Fosberry

(Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; Reprint edition, September 1, 2010)

My Name is Not Isabella is a 32-page hardcover picture book about a girl named Isabella who has a very interesting imagination. She loves to pretend she is someone else.

As soon as Isabella wakes up in the morning she is Sally, the greatest, toughest astronaut that ever was. Then when she goes down stairs to eat breakfast she is Annie, the greatest fastest sharpshooter that ever was. Her day continues like this up till the time she goes to bed where she is just Isabella, a combination of all of the people’s best qualities she had portrayed that day.

But what will she be tomorrow?

My Name is Not Isabella is a sweet, nicely illustrated tale that speaks of the strength and the courage of well-known women throughout history, such as Sally Ride, Annie Oakley, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, and Elizabeth Blackwell. These women definitely made their marks in history.

Isabella is a confident young girl who will inspire other little girls to go for their dreams, no matter how big or hard the road may be to get there. At the end of the book the author provides great information about each woman that Isabella pretends to be. My Name Is Not Isabella is a great way to start a discussion about history and to learn about historically significant figures.

The story also speaks loudly about knowing one’s self. Isabella knows who she is, and her mother understands her and encourages her to dream big. There are no limitations. This is a perfect read for young children between the ages of 4–8.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4: The Chest of Mystery.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review for Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown

(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, September 7, 2010)

Children Make Terrible Pets is a 40-page hardcover picture book about a bear cub named Lucy who, when on a walk through the woods dancing and frolicking about, runs across someone admiring her from behind a bush—someone who is alone and frightened.

When Lucy yells at the intruder to reveal itself, a young boy steps into the clearing, relinquishing his hiding spot and squeaking in fear. Falling instantly in love with the cute boy, Lucy brings the youngster home to show her mother, begging her to keep him as a pet. Her mother tells Lucy that children make terrible pets, but Lucy is determined to prove her mother wrong. She names him Squeaker because he makes funny squeaking noises and takes full responsibility for his upkeep and care.

Lucy is true to her word and is very attentive to Squeaker. They play together, eat together, and even take naps together.

But not everything is fun and games. They have issues. Squeaker plays with food, gets dirty, throws tantrums, tears apart furniture, and more. Just when Lucy thinks things couldn’t possibly get worse, Squeaker disappears. Lucy must search high and low to find her lost pet.

Children Make Terrible Pets is an interesting twist on how children find their pets and discover each other’s idiosyncracies. Youngsters will enjoy the simple text and detailed illustrations. The irony and humor in the story will bring a smile to the reader’s face—the ending providing an especially good chuckle.

Children Make Terrible Pets is based on the author’s experiences. Of the many pets he coveted, frogs were a favorite. After collecting a few and bringing them home, Peter gets all set up to keep the frogs as pets. His wise mother asks him if he would want a wild animal to make him its pet. Can you guess Mr. Brown’s answer? This is a perfect read for children between the ages of 4–8.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4: The Chest of Mystery.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Book Review for The Elves’ First Christmas by Atsuko Morozumi

The Elves’ First Christmas by Atsuko Morozumi

(Mathew Price Ltd, September 1, 2010)

The Elves’ First Christmas is a 32-page picture book that begins with the elves living happily in the forest, enjoying life, and respecting nature and what it has provided for them.

Then men come—woodcutters—who begin to destroy the elves homes, forcing them to leave. The elves travel far and wide trying to stay away from humans. But they are soon forced to find shelter when a blustery winter storm hits. They come upon a barn that protects them, and they fall fast asleep.

And guess what? The barn belongs to Santa Claus and his wife! They find the elves and make them feel welcome, soon convincing them to build homes and create their own Elfin Village.

Having lots of work to do, yet too busy helping the elves to finish the toys for Christmas, Santa falls ill. Appreciating all the time Santa has put into helping them, the elves want to repay his kindness, so they finish making the toys. When Santa is well again, the elves show him all the work they have accomplished. Santa is pleased, happy with how well the job is done.

The illustrations bring the words to life, creating realistic images of the elves and their journey. The story is simply written and easy to understand; children will enjoy it.

A minor quibble: The story lacked adventure or suspense, which many children today expect, but was otherwise entertaining. This book is perfect for children between the ages of 4–8.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Book Review for Pobble's Way by Simon Van Booy

Pobble’s Way by Simon Van Booy

(Flashlight Press, September 1, 2010)

Pobble’s Way is a picture book about a young girl named Pobble and her father as they go on an adventure through the woods in the wintertime.

On their walk, the pair come across many wondrous things. The father spies a leaf floating peacefully in the water. By using their imaginations it is now a butterfly raft taking the butterfly anywhere it wishes to go.

As their walk continues, they see nature at its best, twisting what is real and bringing it to life, laughing and having fun all the while.

As Pobble’s father hoists Pobble onto his shoulders, a soft pink mitten falls from her pocket onto the ground. It is then that many woodland creatures come upon the mitten wondering what it could be. Could it be a carrot carrier? What about cotton candy? Maybe a mouse’s house? When Pobble returns to pick up her mitten, she has her own take on what it could be too.

This is a wonderful bedtime tale that fathers especially will love to read to their children. The inventive naming games throughout the story will encourage children to look around them and to use their own imaginations on their next outdoor adventure.

The illustrations in this hardcover, 32-page book, were charming and detailed, giving the reader a warm, realistic feeling that complements the narrative.

Overall, this is a fantastic story children will be able to relax to before going to bed. Peaceful dreaming . . .

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series for children. Look for her new release in the Crypto-Capers Series: Book 4- The Chest of Mystery.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book Review for Liam the Leprechaun by Charles A. Wilkinson

Liam the Leprechaun by Charles A. Wilkinson

Liam the Leprechaun is an interesting Irish tale full of meaning and self worth

Liam is a leprechaun that is much tinier than the rest of the leprechauns which live in Shillelagh. He gets bumped and ignored because of his size. He is poor and feels worthless. Tired of feeling and being this way, Liam visits the wisest of all leprechauns. His name is O’ Hoolihan. After spending some time with O’ Hoolihan, Liam learns a lot of lessons about many things, and he starts to feel better about himself. Opportunities start coming his way, and he sees how his size can be useful. He gets a job as a Special Investigator for lost and found things, which leads him to deal with a certain Gloccamoora McShaughnessy. A woman, who is loud and very difficult to deal with, yet is kind to Liam because he tries his best to help her. Needless to say, Liam begins to have confidence and has many successes from there, surprising the reader with what happens next.

Liam the Leprechaun is an interesting way to show children that size doesn’t matter. It reminds this reviewer of Thomas the Tank Engine; even if you are small you can be really useful. This book is filled with lots of good meaning that children and parents will enjoy. It is written in English but has many Irish names and lore that will entertain the reader. Overall, a good story.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series and the Joe-Joe Nut Series for children. Look for her new release The Crypto-Capers in: The Chest of Mystery in September 2010.

Book Review for Ice is Nice by Bonnie Worth for the The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library Series

Ice is Nice by Bonnie Worth

(Random House, August 10th, 2010)

The Cat in the Hat’s Learning Library shows young readers that books can be entertaining and educational at the same time.

Ice is Nice is the latest book in this wonderful series, which talks to readers about the North and South Poles. The Cat in the Hat travels first to the North Pole then to the South, both of which are similar, yet are two very different places. On this journey, the reader will learn about many things, like why the North and South poles are so cold. As well as about the many people and wildlife that thrive in such frosty and unpredictable weather and how they are able to do so. The story has a bit of rhyme to it that will delight readers and is common to The Cat in The Hat books. The information provided is excellent for teachers and parents to help supplement what a child may already know about the North and South poles and about the environment.

Overall, this book was an enjoyable read and holds up to the educational value The Cat in the Hat Learning Library Series' instills.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Book by Paula Deen titled, Paula Deen's Savannah Style

Her latest book is Paula Deen’s Savannah Style. Being a fan of Paula Deen's cookbooks, this reviewer was very excited to take a look at her new release. It is filled with amazing ideas on how to turn an ordinary space into something beautiful with just a little effort. Paula's charm, elegance and style consume the pages to the point where the reader will want to read it to the very end. For more information about Paula Deen, visit her website at http://www.pauladeen.com/ where readers will find recipes and lots more information.

More about Paula Deen’s Savannah Style:

With its lush gardens, stately town houses, and sprawling plantations, Savannah is the epitome of old Southern style, and who better to give you the grand tour than Paula Deen, the city’s most famous resident and anointed Queen of Southern Cuisine?

In this gorgeous, richly illustrated book, Paula Deen shares a full year of Southern living. Whether it’s time to put out your best china and make a real fuss, or you’re just gathering for some sweet tea on the porch at dusk, Savannah style is about making folks feel welcome in your home. With the help of decorator and stylist Brandon Branch, you’ll learn how to bring a bit of Southern charm into homes from Minnesota to Mississippi. For each season, there are tips on decorating and entertaining. In the spring, you’ll learn how to make the most of your outdoor spaces, spruce up your porch, and make your garden inviting. In the summer, things get more casual with a dock party. Sleeping spaces, including, of course, the sleeping porch, are the focal point of this chapter. In the fall, cooler weather brings a return to more formal entertaining in the dining room, and in the winter, attention returns to the hearth, as Paula and her neighbors put out their best silver and show you how they celebrate the holidays.

Paula loves getting a peek at her neighbors’ parlors, so she’s included photographs of some of Savannah’s grandest homes. From the vast grounds of Lebanon Plantation to the whimsically restored cottages on Tybee Island, you’ll see the unique blend of old-world elegance and laid-back hospitality that charmed Paula the moment she arrived from Albany, Georgia, with nothing but two hundred dollars and a pair of mouths to feed. And she isn’t shy about giving you a window into her own world, either. From her farmhouse kitchen to her luxurious powder room, you’ll see how Paula lives when she’s not in front of the camera.

Packed with advice and nostalgia, Paula Deen’s Savannah Style makes it easy to bring gracious Southern living to homes north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

About Paula Deen

She is the quintessential American success story, a best-selling author and a television show host, a tastemaker to the stars and to the everyday housewife and family. She is Paula Deen, a down-home, strong willed mom who overcame personal tragedy, long odds, financial and physical challenges to carve one of the most effective and wide ranging entertainment brands that exists today. A brand that is idyllic, inspiring, fun and very much American.

For all her success, the Albany, Georgia native has remained very grounded, in part due to her down home Southern upbringing. She married her high school sweetheart, became a young mom to two sons, and appeared to be living the life she desired, before a series of tragedies, from the death of her parents and the failure of her marriage to a prolonged battle with agoraphobia changed the course of her life forever.

However out of those changes came the success that laid the foundation for the Paula Deen of today, someone who inspires millions through her regular appearances on Oprah, cooks for world leaders, is a best-selling author, and is seen concurrently on three shows running on The Food Network.

The one constant in Deen’s life has always been cooking. It was a staple of her young upbringing, and when times became difficult it was what she knew and could turn back to. In June of 1989, with a $200 budget and the help of sons Jamie and Bobby, she became “The Bag Lady,” creating a home-based meal delivery service in Savannah, Georgia that started the rise. From there, Deen moved to preparing meals at a Savannah Best Western, and followed that five years later by opening her first restaurant, The Lady and Sons, in Savannah.

The popularity of the restaurant led Deen into publishing. Her 1997 cookbook, The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook, gave her growing fan base the opportunity to try Deen’s recipes at home for the first time, and led to her first appearance on QVC, which took the brand from regional to national and began a stretch of consecutive New York Times best selling cookbooks. The growth continued unabated, and in 1999 USA Today food critic Jerry Shriver named The Lady and Sons International Meal of the year.

Deen’s success in publishing, where she has sold over eight million books, then translated into the magazine world, and Cooking with Paula Deen, her bi-monthly title, launched shortly thereafter, growing to a circulation of over one million.

Not to be outdone with print and restaurant success, the Deen brand then moved to television. “Paula’s Home Cooking” premiered on The Food Network in November of 2002, to huge audience success, and spawned her second show, “Paula’s Party” in 2006. Today Deen has four shows running concurrently on the Food Network, including the latest, “Paula’s Best Dishes“, which launched in 2008.

The next evolution of the brand took place in March of 2008, when Meyer Corp launched the line of Paula Deen signature cookware, bakeware, kitchen tools and accessories both online and at retail, continuing the immersion experience for the brand with consumers.

In 2009, the Deen brand underwent further expansion with an added group of quality strategic partners. Wal-mart launched a new, exclusive line of affordable baked goods, while Smithfield, Kaleen, Nitches, Meyer, Universal, B. Lloyd’s, GOBO, Harrah’s, Quality foods, International Greeting and Cooking.com also began new or expanded partnerships in a host of categories. A compete digital relaunch, the expansion of special edition publications featuring both herself and her brand partners also came into play, making sure the Paula Deen name stayed fresh, relevant, and timely with a growing and more diverse consumer.

Even with the continued expansion, and more planned on a global level in 2010, Paula Deen has remained true to her fans, viewers and readers that look to her name for style, taste and inspiration in the kitchen and the home, all reflective of a climate where quality does not have to be sacrificed due to a challenging economy.

Join Paula Deen, author of the home and garden decorating book, Paula Deen’s Savannah Style (Simon & Schuster), as she virtually tours the blogosphere in August ‘10 on her first virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Book Review for You Wish by Mandy Hubbard

You Wish by Mandy Hubbard

(Razorbill, August 5, 2010)

You Wish is a whimsical twist on the movie Sixteen Candles with the hilarity of Liar Liar in this birthday wish scenario.

Kayla McHenry has a typical high-school life full of stress and many misunderstandings. She is in love with Ben, who is the boyfriend of her best friend, Nicole. For years she has loved Ben but has never shared her feelings for him with anyone, including Nicole. Having to be around Nicole and the boy she loves gets to be unbearable, but the promise of Nicole spending more time with her brings Kayla hope. Nicole is her best friend, her other half that makes her life a little more bearable, and she does not want a boy to come between their friendship.

But Kayla soon realizes that everyone changes; even Nicole is beginning to go her own way, leaving Kayla in the dust. At her sweet 16 party, Kayla is left with much disappointment: not only does Nicole show up way late because of her date with Ben, but her mother throws her a party she doesn’t really want so she can impress some clients. It is a total disaster. It is then, in front of a bunch of strangers, that she makes a birthday wish; she wishes that all her birthday wishes actually came true.

The following day strange things begin to happen. She finds a large, bright pink My Little Pony walking around in her backyard. For the next fifteen days more wishes seem to spring up, all causing problems in her life, especially on the certain occasions when she actually gets to spend time with Ben. Her wishes range from her Raggedy Ann doll coming to life and becoming her new best friend, to an enhancement in her body structure. Think of what one wishes for as a child. If all of those wishes came true, disaster would surely ensue.

Kayla cannot remember all of her wishes, but does recall the wish for Ben to kiss her. Not so good when Kayla’s friendship with Nicole is already teetering on collapse. Each day becomes a new adventure; waiting to see what wish is going to come true next. Kayla tries many things to reverse her birthday wishes, but will she be able to stop her wishes from unfolding before the one where Ben kisses her comes true?

Mandy Hubbard definitely has a knack for these “what if” scenarios. The story is filled with typical high-school drama, problems, and feelings, yet mixed with hilarity. Fans of Ms. Hubbard’s Prada and Prejudice will enjoy You Wish. She does not disappoint. Teenagers will be able to relate to Kayla’s plight and possibly learn from her experiences.

The one thing that readers should get out of this story is that what we do in our lives is a choice. We are not forced to go down the wrong or right path; we choose that path and as often, as a result, cause our own strife. Kayla chooses to be a loner. She chooses to not talk to her father after he deserts her family. She chooses not to tell Ben of her true feelings—all of which lead to many stressful moments. In being a teenager and wanting to be older, more beautiful, and accepted by her peers, she loses herself. This is typical of many teenagers in their journey through high school. They feel immense pressure to be what they perceive as better. Readers, especially girls, will enjoy this 284-page young adult novel.

Reviewer Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers series and the Joe-Joe Nut Series for children. Look for her new release The Crypto-Capers in: The Chest of Mystery in September 2010.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Reading Rocks in Rockford Event with Renee Hand

I am going to be at a Reading Rocks in Rockford Author Event on Saturday August 7th from 10-4pm signing all of my books in the Crypto-Capers Series and Joe-Joe Nut Series. This is a great event which is set in downtown Rockford, Michigan. Come join the fun.

Renee Hand

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Book Signing Event at Crossroads Village and the Huckleberry Railroad

I am going to be at the wonderful Huckleberry Railroad in Crossroads Village on July 31 from 1-4pm signing copies of all of my award-winning books in my Crypto-Capers Series and my Joe-Joe Nut Series, for one of there events for children called Puppets and Playtime. They're going to be activites going on the entire day so come on down and check it out. It is going to be a lot of fun. We are going to make sock puppets and watch a puppet show.

Crossroads Village and the Huckleberry Railroad

6140 Bray Rd., Flint, MI 48505

Puppets and Playtime

July 28-August 1
“Use and reuse” is our motto at Crossroads Village, and you may leave wanting to clean out your sock drawer! Explore playtime of years gone by. Meet the Village puppets and make your own sock puppet. On Saturday and Sunday, watch a puppet play.

Renee Hand

Sunday, July 25, 2010

New Book Review for The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere, Vol. 1) by Jacqueline West

The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere, Vol. 1) by Jacqueline West

(Dial, June 30, 2010)

What do you find when you place a curious girl in a house full of secrets? Olive Dunwoody is an awkward and clumsy eleven-year-old girl who moves into a ghostly old mansion with her parents, who are more absorbed in their own mathematical lives than with Olive, leaving her frequently alone. The house was once owned by a Ms. McMartin who recently died, leaving behind her many secrets—secrets that Olive is determined to uncover.

The McMartins’ outcast family had lived in the house for years, their goings-on hidden from the neighbors. The Dunwoodys have bought the house for a good price, making it their first real home, as they have always lived in apartments. When moving in, the Dunwoodys keep the dead woman’s belongings in the house, removing nothing, mixing it up with a few of their own belongings. This allows bored Olive to do some exploring while learning about the history of the McMartins. She cannot believe what she discovers.

There is no mistake that something peculiar is going on when Olive meets three talking cats who are protecting her from an unknown evil that wants the house back. Among Olive’s discoveries are a pair of old glasses that were once Ms. McMartin’s. When Olive puts on the glasses she discovers another world. The glasses manage to bring many things to life—especially antique paintings, which talk and move. The glasses also allow Olive to travel back and forth into the twenty-plus paintings that are secured so tightly to the walls as to be irremovable parts of the creepy house.

Despite the cats’ warnings, Olive becomes careless. On one wandering trip Olive meets an annoying boy named Morton who is trapped in the painting world and cannot get out. Olive is determined to know why. She also wants to find out who exactly wants the house back. The people in the paintings warn her of an evil man, but no one is ever very specific. Olive can tell they are afraid of him. All that she can figure out is that he is willing to destroy her and her family to accomplish his goal. He feels the house belongs to him and that Olive and her family are intruding. The evil is in the shadows that lurk in the dark and in the paintings. It appears like it is everwhere and all consuming no matter which painting Olive is in. The evil arrives as if it were listening and observing. What Olive unearths will not only test her resolve, but will also uncover a family’s lost history—a history better left undiscovered.

The Shadows is a well-written debut book by Jacqueline West that offers many fantasy elements to intrigue the reader. The storyline is similar to the 100 Cupboards because of the paintings that lead to other places, and the Spiderwick Chronicles because of the glasses that can make things come to life. Ms. West has a wonderful and funny writing style that will delight the target audience.

The story does start off slowly, not sucking the reader into it until past chapter five where it begins to exhibit more action. Once the action really takes off—closer to the middle of the book—it is hard to put down. Because of the fantasy elements, the story does become dark. It also mentions witches—a subject that some parents may not approve of their children reading about. Yet the less puritan will enjoy the magical elements in the story.

Overall, this 256-page book for middle-school readers between the ages of 9–12 was a good read. The few illustrations helped the reader visualize what Olive was seeing or going through. The glasses were the only jarring anachronism. An older woman’s glasses should not fit Olive’s face so perfectly nor seem so modern and fashionable in the illustrations, considering that the shenanigans of the old paintings have been occurring for over a hundred years.