Do Fairies Bring the Spring? – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars.

Do Fairies Bring the Spring? by Liza Gardner Walsh, illustrated by Hazel Mitchell is an absolutely delightful and charming picture book about fairies and spring.

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Synopsis

Everyone knows fairies love spring flowers and summer sun, but is it the fairies who wake up the earth as the snow melts? Do they entice the trees to turn green and the flowers to grow? In this charming follow-up to Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows, Liza Gardner Walsh, acclaimed author of the Fairy House Handbook and Fairy Garden Handbook, explores the matter in a children’s picture book of rhyming questions. Combined with delightful illustrations by Hazel Mitchell this whimsical book will help children discover the world of fairies and learn to enjoy and appreciate the outdoors.

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Review

This book has wormed its way right into my heart! Now, I will admit that I love fairies anyway, but this book is absolutely charming!

The text rhymes and is nice and lyrical. The pictures are just beautiful, engaging, and full of little surprises. If you really take the time to look through all the pictures, you’ll see little ladybugs, snails, bees, other little bugs, and woodland creatures. There’s a decent amount of diversity within the fairy ranks, including a boy fairy, and our main fairy is black.

I cannot say enough about the illustrations! I’m absolutely charmed by them. They’re delightful! One page talks about using tiny brushes and oil pastels to paint the flowers and some of the fairies are holding little oil pastels that they’re clearly using to color the flowers. It’s just lovely.

The text is very lyrical. A few times the rhyming words were stretching it a bit, but they never broke the lyrical pace and flow. It’s also obvious that the illustrator really paid attention to the text when she made the illustrations.

I highly recommend this book for any fairy lover in your life! It’s just delightful!


*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. ***

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The Frog Princess Returns – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Today, I’m happy to be bringing you a review of The Return of the Frog Princess by E.D. Baker, which is a new book in the Tales of the Frog Princess series. Ms. Baker is also doing a guest post over at Nerdy Book Club today. You should check out her post about not always having to write “what you know”.

Book Cover: The Frog Princess Returns - Tales of the Frog Princess by E.D. Baker - Pink background - Vignette picture of the Princess with the Frog prince on her shoulder talking to a fairy

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Synopsis

Two weeks after Emma’s birthday, Prince Eadric — having been turned from a frog into a human again — is still in Greater Greensward. One day, a beautiful princess named Adara arrives at the castle in Greater Greensward for a visit, claiming to be Emma’s distant cousin. But Adara has other motives that threaten Emma and Eadric’s blossoming romance.

Meanwhile, something is very wrong in Greater Greensward. Crops are dying, streams are drying up, and large sections of trees in the enchanted forest are withering — all because the Fairy Queen has disappeared. Without her, there is no peace in the magical kingdom, and dangerous foes threaten to take advantage of her absence. Only brave, tenacious Emma with her knowledge of the land can restore order . . . but first she must set out on a journey unlike any before.

Brimming with lovable characters and page-turning magic, The Frog Princess Returns will bring a whole new batch of readers to E. D. Baker’s highly acclaimed, wonderfully popular world of Frog Princess series.

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Review

I’ve enjoyed the Tales of the Frog Princess series ever since I read them back shortly after they were first published so I was thrilled to hear that there was another book coming out in the series! The Frog Princess Returns doesn’t disappoint! Fans of the series will love this latest story.

While it didn’t have that extra little pizzazz I need for a 5-star rating, it’s a strong 4.5. There’s intrigue, secrets, mystery, fairies, dragons, and adventure. What more could you want in a story?

All of our favorite characters have returned and we’ve added a few new people, such as Princess Adara who’s on a mission. The characters are well-developed, fun, and easy to like. The settings are magical with just enough descriptions that you can imagine them easily.

The story line moves along at a decent pace and there’s a twist in the end that even though I didn’t necessarily like the character to begin with, I didn’t see the twist coming!

If you’ve read the series before now, this does not take place at the end of the series. This takes place earlier in the series. Emma and Eadric aren’t married yet, but they’ve had some of their early adventures. I’d place it right around the time of book three.

It’s a great addition to the series and whether you’re finding this series for the first time or are just excited about the new story, I highly recommend this one! So much fun!

*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this title. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. ***

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Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars

This is an incredibly great middle grade fiction book about a young girl with her first stirrings of a crush on a girl and all the confusion that comes with that and trying to figure things out.

Book Cover: Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee - purple background - two girls, one dressed as Romeo and the other as Juliet, dancing in the foreground

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Synopsis

Mattie, a star student and passionate reader, is delighted when her English teacher announces the eighth grade will be staging Romeo and Juliet. And she is even more excited when, after a series of events, she finds herself playing Romeo, opposite Gemma Braithwaite’s Juliet. Gemma, the new girl at school, is brilliant, pretty, outgoing—and, if all that wasn’t enough: British.

As the cast prepares for opening night, Mattie finds herself growing increasingly attracted to Gemma and confused, since, just days before, she had found herself crushing on a boy named Elijah. Is it possible to have a crush on both boys AND girls? If that wasn’t enough to deal with, things backstage at the production are starting to rival any Shakespearean drama! In this sweet and funny look at the complicated nature of middle school romance, Mattie learns how to be the lead player in her own life.

 

Review

I thought this was an absolutely wonderful book and a delightful read! I read about this book on Facebook when the author posted something about being asked to tone down her presentation in a school in a conservative town. Immediately, I sought the book out on Amazon and bought the Kindle version.

Our main character, Mattie, is a very complex character. She’s not liked by the “popular” crowd, but she doesn’t seem to mind too much. Instead, she has her friends Tessa and Lucy to hang out with and she’s okay with that. Until she meets Gemma at a costume party the “popular” crowd was having that she wasn’t actually invited to. All of a sudden there’s a change in her. She doesn’t even really see it at first; Lucy points it out to her. Even then, she’s still not sure and struggles with whether or not it’s true. I liked that the author showed us Mattie’s struggles.

The supporting characters are well-rounded and developed enough that they do not come off as flat, two-dimensional characters. The settings in this book had great descriptions without going overboard. The plot line moves along at a steady pace. At no point did I think that it was moving too slowly or too fast.

This is an incredible book for tweens and early teens who may be struggling with their sexuality and what all those feelings are inside. Yet, it’s not at all preachy or condescending. The author does a really great job keeping a balance between examining what Mattie’s feeling without the sole focus being on just her sexuality. There’s a good balance between other things in life too, her schoolwork, her play rehearsals, etc.

I highly, highly recommend this middle grade fiction for all ages really. It was incredibly well-written and a wonderful, delightful read.

Strange Fruit – REVIEW

4.5 out of 5 stars

Strange Fruit by Gary Golio (author) and Charlotte Riley-Webb (Illustrator) is an absolutely wonderful picture book about Billie Holiday’s famous song with the same title.

*** UPDATE: I’m happy to report that I have since seen a copy of the physical book and the font used and the size of the words is much easier to read that way! Yay! ***

Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday & the Power of a Protest Song by Gary Golio (author) and Charlotte Riley-Webb (illustrator) book cover - Brilliantly colored painting with Billie Holiday singing and being accompanied by musicians

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Brief Synopsis

This picture book for older readers tells the story of how the racism protest song “Strange Fruit” came into being in 1939. This is also the story of two outsiders – Billie Holiday, a young black woman raised in poverty, and Abel Meeropol, the son of Jewish immigrants – whose combined talents created a truly unforgettable song. (Source: Goodreads)

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Review

The first thing you notice in this book are the illustrations. They are vibrant and seemingly leap from the pages. They’re sort of brash and crazy, but they’re absolutely beautiful and just right for this book. I’m not sure of the medium. They appear to be either oil paint or pastels. Perhaps even oil pastels. Whatever was used, the broad strokes and vibrant colors combine just perfectly.

The story line of the book is well told and moves along at a decent pace. The prose is well written and it’s definitely a story that deserves to be, even needs to be told. It’s not a real nice story as far as “happy ever after” and making you smile all the way through, but it’s a needed story and a well written one. It will make you think. It may cause difficult discussions between you and any children you read it with, but it’s an important story to tell and an important piece of history (and unfortunately, to a point, part of current events as well) that needs to be discussed.

The only reason this picture book did not get 5 stars from me is because I felt that at times, the text was difficult to read because of the vibrant illustrations and the small font used. Now, I did read this book as an eBook and not in print format. Perhaps it is easier to read the text in the print format. Other than that small issue, this book is phenomenal and I highly recommend it to everyone. Those who are fans of Billie Holiday will certainly appreciate it, but I believe that it’s a great book for everyone, not just those who are fans.

*** I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. I was not compensated for my review. All opinions and conclusions are my own. ***

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About the Author and Illustrator

Gary Golio is an artist and acclaimed picture book author. His Jimi: Sounds Like a Rainbow was a New York Times bestseller.

Charlotte Riley-Webb, a professional visual artist with a career that spans more than 40 years, resides in the Atlanta area.

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Be Light Like a Bird – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars.

Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schröder is a stand-alone novel meant for the middle grades and it’s pretty darn awesome!

Book Cover: Be Light Like a Bird by Monika Schröder - Dark blue background with lighter blue trees and red birds on it

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Brief Synopsis

After the death of her father, twelve-year-old Wren finds her life thrown into upheaval. And when her mother decides to pack up the car and forces Wren to leave the only home she’s ever known, the family grows even more fractured. As she and her mother struggle to build a new life, Wren must confront issues with the environment, peer pressure, bullying, and most of all, the difficulty of forgiving those who don’t deserve it. A quirky, emotional middle grade novel set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Be Light Like a Bird features well-drawn, unconventional characters and explores what it means to be a family and the secrets and lies that can tear one apart.

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Review

What a wonderful book about dealing with loss, grief, and anger! I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Wren, her mother, Theo, and the rest of our cast of characters are well-rounded, complex characters who are believable and just jump off the page with their realism. Wren’s mother is running from her grief and anger and of course, Wren’s just along for the ride because she doesn’t have a choice, but she really does well with all the change considering that she’s grieving too.

Eventually, after a few stops along the way, they land in Pyramid, Michigan, a small town in the upper peninsula near the end of I-75. Wren decides she likes it there and wants to stay. She makes a new friend in Theo and together they fight against the draining of a wetland by a local landfill.

The whole time, there’s still a rift between Wren and her mother which is only increased by some terrible news her mother has to tell her about her father. Can they ever mend the rift between them?

I’m not going to provide the answer to that or to whether or not Wren and Theo win their fight against the landfill. You’ll just have to read this absolutely marvelous book to find out! I highly recommend this book. Even if you’re an adult, I believe you’ll enjoy it as well! Check it out!

** Special thanks to the author, Monika Schröder for providing me with a copy of the wonderful book. I was not compensated for this review All opinions and conclusions expressed in this review are my own. **

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Stay tuned for an interview with the author, Monika Schröder, coming later today (March 14)!!