Mom’s Day Out at the Great Valley Bookfest – it was awesome!

Two weekends ago I had the awesome opportunity (thank you, my dear husband!) to go to a local book festival for a few hours BY MYSELF and it was amazing. I truly could have stayed there ALL DAY LONG. I met and chatted with some interesting local authors, bought some indie books (I’ve already finished two of them!), and picked up some used books from the Friends of the Library sale (I was there for the closing of the Bookfest and all the used books were free!). I also have some ideas for next year’s Bookfest: 1) bring business cards (duh!) – I missed out on some great opportunities to leave my info with authors; 2) sign up to offer a workshop on editing; 3) block off the whole day and go earlier so I can sit in on some of the speakers. So much potential!

I took some pictures, but then my phone broke and I got a new one soooo they’re not accessible at the moment. Instead, I will share some links! First, the Bookfest itself:

GVBF logo The mission of the Great Valley Bookfest is to create a family-friendly festival that celebrates literacy and promotes the written word in the heart of California’s Central Valley. It benefits the following local literacy organizations: Friends of the LibraryGreat Valley Writing CampsGive Every Child A Chance; and San Joaquin County Office of Education (SCHOOLS)

Next, some of the books I picked up and authors I met:

Britt Nunes – Etched  – I met Britt Nunes, her twin sister, and her adorable baby nephew at the Bookfest and bought her first book, Etched. While it wasn’t flawlessly executed–it read like a first book–it was interesting and engaging, and I enjoyed it very much. When I finished it, I bought myself the e-book versions of the sequel and the prequel, and I look forward to reading more from Britt Nunes in the future! Find her here: brittnunes.com

Britt Nunes  33844215. sy475

Susan Lowe – Josie – I met Susan Lowe and her husband, and just had to buy the book — which I read in one day! It is the story of Josie, Susan’s mother, and her experiences as an ethnic German in post-WWII Yugoslavia. It’s spectacularly well done and I’m thankful to have met Susan and had the opportunity to read her book. Find more info here.

Susan A.  Lowe Josie: A Story of Faith and Survival

Major Mitchell – The Dona (historical fiction)

The Doña

Kathy Goosev Howell – The Perfectly Purple Sneakers (picture book)

The Perfectly Purple Sneakers

Brian Weisfeld – The Startup Squad – Find Brian here: www.thestartupsquad.com

The Startup Squad

 

I met a lot of other authors whose books I did not buy that day, but I’ll certainly be looking out for – and maybe I’ll see them again at next year’s Bookfest! 🙂

Kidlit Book Review: The Day That A Ran Away

I was offered a review copy and asked to review this charming kids’ book by the
40498837publisher, TaleBlade Press, which was kind enough to send me an actual hard copy of the book (remember my aversion to ebook copies of picture books?). My kids were a little confused as to why the kids’ book that came in the mail was for ME and not them, haha!

Written by B.C.R. Fegan and illustrated by Lenny Wen, The Day that A Ran Away–published just yesterday, September 1, 2018!–is an alphabet picture book with simple, approachable text and engaging illustrations. It tells the tale of why Jet doesn’t have his homework – all the letters ran away! As one of a plethora of alphabet books for young kids, the text itself doesn’t really stand out to me. It’s not bad, but it’s not amazing either. What I DO like about it is the moral lesson–Jet’s teacher plays along with his “the letters ran away” ruse but tells him at the end that now the letters need to be punished for their crime… and Jet has to write them all 20 times instead of one! That’ll teach kids to lie about their homework, right?

The illustrations are what bring the book to the next level. They’re not perfect–for instance, my kids did not recognize that the “O” was, in fact, an “O” (“What’s THAT, Mommy?”), and I can’t say I blame them for that. Overall, though, each page is dedicated to one letter and is filled with little details to spark conversation and reinforce the letter: for instance, the “U” is a unicorn, sitting under an umbrella, with a ukulele on the ground next to her.

It’s a book I’m happy to add to our collection. For my almost-2-year-old it’s a great way to repeat the alphabet while the colorful illustrations hold her attention; for my almost-5-year-old, the complexity of the illustrations will give us a lot of practice matching objects with their beginning letters.

3 stars!

Thank you to TaleBlade Press for the review copy; check out Amazon to buy yourself a copy!

Two Picture Book Reviews – Starring Rainbow Fish and DC Monsters

I got both of these books last year sometime via NetGalley and had skimmed them myself but hadn’t read them to my kids until just this week. I can’t say I was super impressed with either, unfortunately. Now, let me say that I do think some of that comes from reading picture books on my Kindle – I’ve done it a handful of times now and I’m not planning to continue. It’s just not a format conducive to enjoying a picture book, in my opinion. I would LOVE to review more kids books, but they have to be hard copy or I can’t get into them. To my kids it’s “special” to read on Mommy’s Kindle, so they want to do more of it but… ugh.

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So, everybody loves Rainbow Fish, right? What’s NOT to love about the original? You Can’t Win Them All, Rainbow Fish is a new(ish) (2017) book in the Rainbow Fish series and aims to teach another moral lesson — in this case, how not to be a sore loser, basically. Most kids are familiar with Rainbow Fish (I think each of my kids has come home from school with Rainbow Fish artwork at least once), so it’s a great way to keep them engaged and learning through a familiar character, but to me this one lacked the charm of the original. Worse, to me it seemed a little forced. Perhaps I’m remembering the original too rosily (is that a word?), but this just didn’t measure up for me. The kids were engaged, but haven’t asked to read it again. So, I give it two stars and I think I’d get a similar opinion from the kids.

33510848The concept behind this book is fantastic – but at the risk of sounding repetitive, reading it on a Kindle is NOT. We live near DC, and though we don’t take the kids downtown much they were familiar enough with the landmarks to recognize them and get excited about places they’d been. They were especially thrilled with the page about the National History Museum because my husband took them there last week. That said, black and white pictures on a tiny screen made it virtually impossible to find the monsters in the pictures. The text, to me, was, well… fine. It’s a great introduction to DC landmarks and a potentially fun and engaging format for teaching young kids, but to me it falls into that very big basket of kids books that are just so-so and don’t particularly need to be revisited. Another two-star read.

So, on that cheery note I’m going to wrap up. I usually don’t post negative reviews because why? But these came from NetGalley and I figured it’s better to follow through and review even if it’s negative… so there you have it. Next time I write I’ll have something more positive to say.