children's, Fiction, halloween, holiday

Halloween Story Time Books

If you’re looking for some great Halloween story time books to pick up from the Library before the big day, here are some favorites in my house.

Little Goblins Ten, written by Pamela Jane and illustrated by Jane Manning, has been a nightly read for my toddler all of October. The rhyme and rhythm are infectious and the illustrations are fun. This is perfect for ages 2-5.

This Is the House That Monsters Built, written by Steve Metzger and illustrated by Jared Lee, is a progressively building story similar to the tale of This Is the House That Jack Built with both vivid illustrations and word choices. It is a great read for ages 3-6.

Monster Academy, written Jane Yolen & Helen E.Y. Stemple and illustrated by John McKinley, is a loosely rhyming book that is geared toward early elementary and has delightful illustrations. Best for ages 4-7.

Fiction, middle grade fiction, Young Adult Fiction

Middle grade fiction with strong female characters and cyber security education

The Web Paige Chronicles (available on Amazon and direct from the publisher) by Emilio Iasiello is a delightful and refreshing mix of an endearing female hero, a family with realistically supportive relationships, and the harsh difficulties of being a teen and preteen today. The chapters are set up to make it easily accessible to the 4th and 5th grade crowd, but the material is deep and engaging enough for older middle schoolers.

The main character Web Paige solves a series of problems for strangers and friends alike, all related to cyber bullying, cyber stalking, or just plain poor cyber security. This is a great way to introduce how to be safe online with children. And the characters easily have the staying power to make this the first in a series of Web Paige Chronicles books.

I’d highly recommend this for late elementary through early high schoolers both for personal reading or in the classroom. The layout lends itself easily to create an engaging lesson in handling online predators and related issues.

I received my copy in exchange for an honest review. This review is also posted on Amazon, Goodreads, Librarything, and Instagram. The hard copy has been donated to a little free library.

bilingual, children's, Fiction

English-Chinese Children’s Book Done Right

I am a huge fan of bilingual children’s books. I love them for languages that I work with my child to learn or for other languages, just for exposure. A common pitfall for these books is that they fall into two unhelpful categories: flashcard style books that just show vocabulary with pictures or story books showing the story separately in both languages, with no way to intermingle them unless you repeat the story in the other language. If you’ve ever sought out bilingual English-Chinese children’s books, they usually have the added issue of only having either the characters or the pinyin (and sometimes worse: a third pronunciation form).

Brandon Makes Jiǎo Zi (餃子) is one of those rare exceptions that incorporates both pinyin, characters (traditional), and a delightful story. The best part is that the pinyin/character elements are woven into the story, so you aren’t just either reading in Chinese or English but all together, like you would if both languages are used in the house. This was such a pleasant surprise that I bought a second copy of the book, so I could keep the first to read with my daughter and still give away the second to a little free library.

The story itself covers familial relations with a loving grandmother and her grandson, the passing of culinary traditions, and also how to be resilient in the face of mistakes. The illustrations are simple, but compliment the story well. The publishing style leaves a lot of blank space on the page, but it’s not particularly distracting. Looking forward to more books like this from the author.

This review may be found online at Amazon, Goodreads, and LibraryThing. A paperback copy of the book was also placed in a Little Free Library for others to enjoy.