Are you really a unicorn? (A book review)

I’ve been following author Jess Hernandez on Twitter for a while and was so excited to see her debut picture book, First Day of Unicorn School (available for pre-order now!), is out on NetGalley. Sooo I logged in for the first time in two years (yikes), requested the book, and was thrilled to be approved within the hour. I sat down to read it with my four-year-old this afternoon and I was NOT disappointed.

First of all, look at that gorgeous cover! The whole book is full of bright, fun illustrations just like the cover art. My daughter loved them, and we spent a while just looking at the pictures and talking about the animals.

So, does the content live up to the expectation set by the cover? Yes! Milly is a donkey with a party hat (NOT a Unicorn), but gets accepted to Unicorn School anyway. She’s so nervous on her first day that her classmates are going to discover she’s not actually a unicorn and she won’t fit in, but it turns out her classmates all have a secret of their own . . . My four-year-old caught on quickly to what was happening (“Mom, she’s not a unicorn!”), and had a great time pointing out all the different “unicorn horns” throughout the book.

Ultimately, it’s a feel-good picture book showing kids that everyone has something they’re worried about, something they fear will keep them from fitting in — which actually means we’re all more similar than we thought, and really have nothing to fear. It’s about accepting ourselves and each other, and gets that message across in a totally kid-friendly, non-preachy way. I think it’s fabulous!

The book is actually geared for kids in grades K-2, so I’m looking forward to reading it to my first grader, too, and seeing how well she picks up the message. I give this one five stars, and recommend it to everyone with little kids at home.

Thanks to the author and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy!

New Release: Scaredy Bat and the Sunscreen Snatcher

My oldest read and really enjoyed Marina J. Bowman’s two Legends of Pineapple Cove books, and so I joined the Code Pineapple email list on her behalf. Not too long later, I got an email inviting people to apply to part of the Scaredy Bat #2 Launch Team; I applied, was accepted, and read the e-ARC with my 8 and 6 year old daughters. And today, on Launch Day, I’m sharing it with you! Get your copy FREE or $0.99 from today through May 31!

Scaredy Bat and the Sunscreen Snatcher (Scaredy Bat: A Vampire Detective Series Book 2) by [Marina J. Bowman]

“Scaredy Bat” is actually a 12 year old vampire named Ellie, who loves solving mysteries. But she scares easily, and when she does, she turns into a bat. Each installment of the book follows Ellie as she both solves a mystery and overcomes a fear, while working closely with a group of supportive friends. In Scaredy Bat and the Sunscreen Snatcher, Ellie overcomes her fear of clowns, learns not to judge people by appearance (or, rather, smell), and remembers the importance of working closely with others as a team.

My kids LOVED it, and each gave it five stars. My rating is more like a three – it was a fun book for the kids, with some wholesome and important lessons. It made a great read-aloud and bridged the age difference between my girls, which is hard to do sometimes. The publishers describe the book as an early chapter book geared for kids ages 8-12, but it feels more appropriate to me for the 6-8 crowd, and kids who are ready to move up to early chapter books like the early Magic Treehouse series. Advanced readers and older kids will likely find it simplistic to read on their own, but the storyline will hold their interest as a read-aloud.

I guess to be fair I have to average the ratings, which gives us four stars!

Eternally captivating – the circus, with a dragon! Book review

Calico Thunder Rides AgainThere’s something eternally captivating about the circus, and Calico Thunder Rides Again finds a new twist – magic and mythical creatures. It’s an interesting take, and an engaging story. The alternative reality is very believable and well-constructed, so much so that I kept forgetting references to a character being an ogre meant he was ACTUALLY AN OGRE and weren’t metaphorical (ha!). Perhaps my favorite part of the book is when supporting character Grace sees the reality behind the magic business and what it means for the animals – this had echoes of reality and should be a wake-up call for people to pay attention to the industry behind many everyday things judged “harmless.” I give the book 3 stars because it was a solid, enjoyable read but it didn’t “wow” me. *I received a free e-ARC of this book in exchange for participating in the cover reveal!