Showing posts with label Children's Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Children's Books. Show all posts

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Manolito Four-Eyes Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Manolito Four-Eyes

Author: Elvira Lindo

Genre: Juv Lit ages 9-12, fiction

Publication: Two Lions, 2010

My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It

My Summary Statement: Wholesome & Funny Stories About a Boy, His Friends & Schoolmates & a Special Relationship With His Grandfather

This classic book series from Spain has been translated to English and now American children may enjoy the funny typical daily escapades of Manolito Four-Eyes, a fourth grade boy, at school and at home. Manolito is a non-stop talker and natural storyteller with an opinionated point of view on the world. Each chapter is a little story of something that happened in his life, being bullied, his girlfriend for a day, doing pranks, and a class costume contest, for example.

I especially enjoyed the special relationship Manolito had with his grandfather, who is a part of his life every day since they live and even share a bed together. Their bond is precious and wisdom is passed from the elder to the boy.

I found Manolito Four-Eyes refreshing and quirky and laugh out loud funny at some points. This is a fun book that's innocent and non-controversial in nature. While a realistic fiction novel for children it is not drivel or rude or cruel. It's pro-family yet very real and honest in that each character is flawed yet the family and friends love each other unconditionally. America's children need more books filled with hope and humor like this one.

This needs to be made into a movie and the rest in the series should be published in English as well.

I rate this book 5 stars = I Love It.

Since the main character is in fourth grade you can base the reader's interest based on that. There is nothing problematic here so it makes for a good read aloud for little ones or a good choice for precocious readers. It is a chapter book with large-ish font and a few illustrations here and there and plenty of white space on the page, making it easy for young eyes and minds to handle reading.

Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book from for the Vine program for the purpose of reviewing it on the website. I was not under obligation to review it favorably or to blog it. I was not paid for this service. See my blog's full disclosure statement for more information (near the top of sidebar).

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Angel Island Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Angel Island: Gateway to Gold Mountain

Author: Russell Freedman

My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It

My Summary Statement: Excellent Telling of Fact and Oral History About California's Angel Island and Anti-Immigration Laws 1850-1940s

I ordered (and read) this book for use in our homeschool history studies. When I read of the book I was surprised because I had never in my life heard of Angel Island and when I read the book summary I realized that although my own public school and college education skipped this topic of American History, it was not something I wanted my kids to be ignorant of.

This nonfiction book is marketed to children in grades 4-7. A short book, it has large font and plenty of white space so as to be undaunting to young readers. It is full of photographs that I feel are essential to humanize the story. Not just facts, this book has ample quotes from people who went through Angel Island which makes the history come alive and seem real to readers of all ages. The material is not pleasant and most readers would wish this was not true.

The story begins in 1848 when Chinese immigrants started arriving in California for the Gold Rush. Many Californians did not want them here and anger turned to anti-immigration laws and attempts to limit further Chinese immigration (and later the immigration of people from anywhere).

In 1910 California state opened Angel Island, like Ellis Island, it was where all immigrants were brought to live temporarily, and screened for either admission to the US or for deportation. The negative stories are bothersome but there are some positive stories (direct accounts with quotes) that directly contradict what the others said. There is also a discussion of what we now call mail order brides although it was never explained if these were to Chinese immigrants or to Caucasian Americans.

Until the end of World War II Angel Island operated. It was later turned into a state park with the building behind a fence. People concerned with preserving this piece of history worked to stop its destruction and the building is now preserved and a museum has been created.

The book contains 65 pages of text and photos (the other pages are citations). This is a swiftly moving telling that never gets boring. A lot of information and emotions are conveyed in this short book which seems just enough to get the information and to touch upon the emotions and to bring up the issues to ponder.

As an adult reader I could not help but ask questions about how we let this happen as it seems so wrong. Then the next logical thought is about the current issue of immigration and comparing how today's Mexican immigrants compare to these Chinese immigrants and what is the right and best way to handle Mexican immigration (also currently an issue in the same state of California).

I don't understand why more is not taught in schools about our history of immigration, about these anti-immigration laws of California and about the existence of Angel Island. (Or are these issues taught in California but not elsewhere in the USA?) I support a thorough teaching of American History and this book can be one way that middle schoolers can learn it.

I rate this book 5 stars = I Love It. 

Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book from for the Vine program for the purpose of reviewing it on the website. I was not under obligation to review it favorably or to blog it. I was not paid for this service. See my blog's full disclosure statement for more information (near the top of sidebar).

Friday, July 12, 2013

Little Lost Tiger Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Little Lost Tiger

Author: Jonathan London

Illustrator: Ilya Spirin

Publication: Two Lions, May 2012

My Star Rating: 4 stars out of 5 = I Like It

My Summary Statement: Gorgeously Illustrated but Too Much Focus on Endangered Status in End Note - Nothing About Siberia - Where It Is Etc.

I was curious about this children's picture book due to the illustration on the cover and ordered it sight unseen. I am a homeschooling mother who has always liked nonfiction books that educate children and inform as well as entertain. I applaud high quality nonfiction children's picture books being on the market.

The illustrations are painted with chalk pastel and gouache and they are stunning.

The story is of a Siberian Tiger cub who stays back while his mother hunts and then a forest fire occurs. There is action and fear and tension as the mother cannot find her cub. Sensitive kids may find this too much to bear. (Keeping in mind that children's picture books are for the age range of 4-8, I am considering the younger end of that for this concern.) Of course it has a good ending or no one would publish it.

All it says in the text of the story is that this is a Siberian Tiger. It never discusses geography because the focus on the story itself is the tale of separation. In the End Note there is one page of text and the status of endangerment starts off in sentence two. A major discussion here is the endangered species issue which in my experience really upsets little kids and makes them worry and feel that humans are so terrible to have hunted and done even illegal poaching to kill them off (as is stated in the End Note).

I take issue with the fact that even in the End Note there is no direct discussion of where Siberia is. Little kids have no clue about geography and those five and under even have a hard time conceptualizing the notion of Earth and the world beyond much more than their neighborhood. It is never said, for example, that Siberia is not a location inside the United States, something maybe silly to the author but a four or five year old might think that Siberian Tigers are living where they are and that their fellow American citizens are to blame for the near extinction of the species. Kids of that age will not pick out that when we say Siberian Tiger we are referencing that "Siberian" means "living in the country of Siberia". They won't even know there is a place on the other side of our planet called Siberia. There are no world maps in the book or in the End Note or on the jacket, to explain this geography.

The story is a good one with tender loving care of a mother to her cub, which I like. I like the adventure but as noted it may upset some kids. But I have an issue with putting this fear and hatred into little kid's heads, instead of filling them with wonder and love for our planet, it's PEOPLE and for its wild creatures, instead only painting humans as villains and either as self-centered jerks or evil beings.

I am torn about how to rate this book, if rating on the story and the illustrations it gets a 5 but due to the negativity and vagueness of the End Note I will bring this down to 4 stars = I Like It. Just please, adults, when reading this aloud to children, explain where Siberia is and that their family, friends and neighbors in America had no part in the role of causing this lovely creature to become nearly extinct. Or skip reading the End Note altogether.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Where the Ground Meets the Sky Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Where the Ground Meets the Sky

Author: Jacqueline Davies

Publication: Skyscape, 2013 (formerly published in 2002)

My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It

My Summary Statement: Excellent Story of a Preteen Girl About The Manhattan Project

This is a speculative fiction story, a made up 12 year old girl who is the daughter of a scientist employed by the US Government. They are suddenly moved to Los Alamos, New Mexico and the girl is not told what the project is: it is what we now refer to as The Manhattan Project and her father was a key scientist in the development of the atomic bomb which was used to help stop World War II. Throughout the story Hazel tries to figure out what “the gadget” is, which gives this story suspense.

An important element to Hazel’s story which potential readers should know is that her mother develops clinical depression which is untreated and is not formerly diagnosed. The story takes place in 1944, a time when ignoring such symptoms was common. The treatment shared at the end was also common back in that era.

Hazel is a gifted child who feels different than her same aged peers due to her superior intelligence. Her father being a brilliant scientist shows the apple does not fall far from the tree. Hazel’s mother is also gifted: a thinker and a sensitive person who has strong ethical and philosophical beliefs which leads her to feeling powerless and in despair, since she knows what the project her husband is working on is.

I felt the character development was strong in all characters except for the always-working and emotionally disconnected husband/father, who was oblivious to the fact that his daughter was living in neglect and was forced to teach herself to cook, clean, and launder her own clothes since her mother was suffering and was unable to perform basic daily living tasks. However, these brilliant inventor scientist types who achieve great things are also sometimes the same people who are weak in emotional matters, or are workaholics who wind up detached due to their dedication to their work causing them to be more absent than other fathers with different careers or passions.

I liked that the book presented ethical and philosophical things to ponder about war and the use of (what we now refer to as) weapons of mass destruction. Hazel’s family is not religious with common religions. Her mother is a pacifist and she influences Hazel to question war and to ponder how to end a war; is mass killing and a massive show of destruction power necessary to create a state of peace?

I rate this book 5 stars = I Love It. I feel this is one of the more superior pieces of speculative historical fiction for kids on the market. I see the book is rated for grades 5-8 or 6-8. This book is both entertaining and suspenseful and would give kids some things to think about. Books like this should be read in school, or used in a homeschool, which is what I plan to do with my homeschooled kids.

Disclosure: I received an unbound galley advance copy of this book from Amazon Vine for the purpose of reviewing it on I was not under obligation to review it favorably. I was not paid for that nor to blog the review.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: The Magical Car

Author: Ian Fleming

Illustrator: Joe Berger

Publication: Candlewick Press, 2013 (reprint with new illustrations)

As a 40-something mom my knowledge of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was the 1968 musical movie starring Dick Van Dyke, which I watched annually as a child. I had not read the book as a child or as an adult, although it would have been a good read aloud for my sons, I now know.

This is the only book that Ian Fleming has published for children, a story he wrote for his son, originally published in 1964. If the name is not familiar, he is the inventor of James Bond, 007. This story is typical of a boy story of its time, with a focus on action and adventure. Here the main character is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a supposedly magical car who has abilities that its inventor crackpot owner did not put into place or know about until various crises occurred. Actually the car is a genius of engineering so kids interested in cars or cool machinery will enjoy it (not far from the cool gadgets of Fleming’s James Bond character.) Two are its ability to fly and to float atop the water as a boat. The adventures occur in England and France.

Some differences with the movie are that this is about a happy, intact family with mother, father, and twins, a boy and a girl. There is no grandfather (and no pretty girlfriend named Trudy). The movie seemed to be more about the human relationships while the book with its short page count and high action and adventure focuses on that action not on getting to know any of the human characters much. In the movie the Dictator of the country of Vulgaria stole the car out of envy and in this tale there is a mobster with a gang of thieves who the Potts family discovers and leads to a kidnapping of the children, as was a feature in the movie.

I enjoyed Fleming’s storytelling style and his unique voice. Some of the terms are old-fashioned and others are England-centric, this adds to the story’s tone and style. I liked it when the chapters ended on a cliff-hanger, these are loved by boys especially and also they draw in reluctant readers (especially boys). I think this would make a fun read aloud to children. This is a good vs. evil story, the good guys versus the criminals.
Candlewick Press issued this new edition of the old story with new illustrations by Joe Berger. They also have published two sequels penned by a different author, Frank Cottrell Boyce: CCBB Flies Again and CCBB and The Race Against Time. All three are illustrated by Joe Berger. I have not read those two sequels yet.

This would be a great read-aloud or a book that kids ages 9-12 can read to themselves. I feel this would be interest to reluctant reader boys who like action tales and the idea of cars that can do cool things.

I rate this story 5 stars = I Love It.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book for the purpose of reviewing it for's Vine program. I was not paid to review it nor was I under obligation to review it favorably or to blog the review.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Warrior's Heart Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Courage and Compassion

Author: Eric Greitens

Genre: Young Adult, Memoir

Publication: Houghton Mifflin, 2012

My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It

My Summary Statement: Inspiring Memoir of a Rhodes Scholar and Navy SEAL Who Has Focused His Life on Serving – Not Just Military Stories

This memoir for kids aged 12 and up was inspirational and unlike anything I have ever seen published for young adult readers. Every kid should read this, not just boys. I was not familiar with who Eric Greitens was and I had not read his adult memoir The Heart and The Fist. I loved this book.

Greitens’ writing is easy to read and his style piques your interest as each section opens with an ethical question to the reader, asking what they would do. We want to know how he got to that place so we read the story that leads to that climax.

I had no clue what this book was about and assumed it was a book only about life as a Navy SEAL. I was wrong.

The book opens with Eric as a boy whose parents told him from early on that college was his ticket to a good job and a solid future. He thought money making was important so started a lawn cutting and snow shoveling business as a child and learned life lessons there. He then attended Duke and began doing volunteer work in third world countries; this is what opened his eyes to learning the value of serving others and how it started changing who he was. He was an amateur photographer and used photos from his trips to tell stories to Americans upon his return.

About half of the book contains stories about his experiences on these volunteer work trips. They contain stories that American teens usually are not exposed to, about genocide, ethnic cleansing, refugees, oppression, and extreme poverty.

After graduating from Duke he was granted a Rhodes Scholarship and attended Oxford. He was offered a job in academia and a white collar professional job with a high salary. Instead he decided the best way to serve people was to help protect people who were being oppressed, by serving in the US military. Many countries in the world look to the United States for protection. Greitens wanted to serve and protect. Wanting a challenge, he decided to become a Navy SEAL. There are 120 pages about the Navy and SEAL training that says tested his spirit through extreme physical tests, especially in Hell Week. He finished his Navy SEAL training just days before 9/11, so he was trained in peace time and entered the military in war.

After training, there is one story about his service in Iraq. Then the book fast forwards to the day he went home, and tells a little about seeing a need in the community to help veterans who were discharged after injuries. He founded a nonprofit organization, The Mission Continues.

This is honest and heartfelt writing that touched me deeply. I am unaware of anything like this written for young adults (but we need more). This is the story of a person who saw a need in the world and who took action to make some impact. This is the story of a real leader.

This is not a religious or spiritual book however this is a book that will get kids thinking about their possible purpose in life and wishing they had something meaningful to do with their lives. The book is free of profanity or other distasteful content, yet the discussion of ethnic cleansing and oppression of people in other countries is serious. The detail is just enough to surprise and inform yet is not going to give kids nightmares.

Greitens’ storytelling method is effective and moving. He balanced telling serious troublesome information that is there for a reason, not there to shock the reader.

I rate this book 5 stars = I Love It. I want both of my sons, aged 12 and 15, to read this book.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from's Vine program for the purpose of reviewing it on I was not under obligation to blog this or to review it favorably. I was not paid to review this book.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Diego Bigger Than Life Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Diego Bigger Than Life

Author: Carmen Bernier-Grand

Illustrator: David Diaz

Genre: Children's Books ages 9 and older (per the publisher)

My Star Rating: 3 stars out of 5 = It's Okay

Summary Statement: Publisher Says for Age 9 & Up - Some Topics Too Complex or Controversial for Young Kids

I have learned enough about the life of Diego Rivera to have been surprised to see a children’s picture book published about him given his unconventional personal life and controversial political views. Picture books are usually marketed to children aged 4-8 but this book has been flagged by the publisher as appropriate for ages 9 and up. (This does not mean it will be filed correctly in the public library or that parents or teachers will not mistakenly read this to kids under 9.) Some high schoolers do not understand enough about communism or know anything about the Mexican communist movement, or about Russia’s Leo Trotsky to put Rivera’s art and politics shown in his art into context, and children aged down to nine will have an even harder time understanding concepts in this book.  

As a homeschooling mother and a person who loves art and enjoys learning about art I have exposed my children to (age appropriate) art history and I look forward to more art history books being published for children.

Some people criticize children’s history books for sugar coating or glossing by reality in order to “whitewash” the biography to be age appropriate or to remove controversy and to praise the person. This is usually done lately in America about US History’s “dead white men” and even to complain about accomplished men who deserve praise about some thing(s) they did while also doing things that today we disapprove of. Well in this case the story of Diego Rivera has been whitewashed to be positive and to try to make it age appropriate for children, specifically his relationships, bearing a child out of wedlock, et cetera. The book is of course praising Rivera and readers may carry that positive tone through to receive a positive message about his communist beliefs. Do you want your children to receive a positive message about communism (when they probably don’t even know what it is)?

Now that I’ve brought up those issues I’ll put them to the side to get on with the review.

The book opens stating that Diego Rivera was a storyteller about his own life, and the story told is a blend of Rivera’s stories and facts. The style is told in free verse poems with a page per poem. In this way the book is able to move through his entire lifespan in a short book length.  I enjoyed these poems and think that children will enjoy them as well.

In the main portion of the book the details of the relationships such as living together and bearing a child out of wedlock are glossed over. I noticed them since I already knew about these things and was looking to see how they’d be written about. Marriage is not mentioned so kids may assume they were married when they were not. Young kids may not pick up on the detail. I know some parents may have different values than Rivera did and may not like these things, but then again the book is not advised for children under age 9 (but since usually picture books are for 4-8 people may pick it up for kids those age).

Diego Rivera was a political person, a communist, and his art and choices as to which art he would make and why were entangled with politics. As I said above these issues may confuse kids or perhaps they will gloss over it and not care that they don’t understand it, I don’t know.  In any event some parents who disagree with communism may not like the communist views discussed without any judgment, in a book with a positive tone, the child may assume that communism is therefore something praiseworthy. I doubt that kids aged 9-13 exposed to this book in school would also receive instruction in communism, Mexican and Russian communism, in order to put this information into context. Certainly if a parent reads this book to their child, they could choose to discuss it in more detail, framing it with their family’s values. As to what would happen in a school classroom, I will not speculate.

At the back of the book is a section written in more adult language that tells “the facts” of Diego Rivera’s life. Here some details are shared that make the relationship and political details clear. There is a glossary of terms. There is a timeline of his life also.

I was disappointed that the murals discussed in the book were not shown; it would have been more educational and would have made a bigger impact.

The artwork is done with airbrush painting. At first I thought it odd that a relatively new painting technique would be used but then it dawned on me that Rivera’s most famous work was done in murals on streets, art seen by the masses as they pass by on the street. Today there are few murals in the United States yet we have plenty of graffiti on our city walls and bridges. Therefore the choice to use airbrush painting references street art: today’s street art. Bravo David Diaz! I loved the paintings, although they were positive, light and uplifting even when the content on the page was serious or contained bad news (such as a child dying).

I am torn about how to rate this book. My personal anti-communist views and my fear that the book could be used as pro-communist propaganda taints the praise for other parts of the book. Further making the decision difficult is the fact that so few books exist for children about the life of Diego Rivera. If there were other better books it would be easier to discount this one.
Some topics are best addressed when children are older when the full story can be told and discussed and understood.

I rate this book 3 stars = It’s Okay due to the content and lack of showing more of Diego Rivera’s artwork.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from for the purpose of reviewing it for Amazon Vine. I was not paid to review or blog it nor was I under obligation to rate it highly.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Applied for Learning Ally

If your child has a documented learning disability they may qualify to use Learning Ally, a program formerly known as Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. My son is said to qualify, although we are waiting on the submitted application to hear if he is officially approved.

In my state students of public or charter schools get free access to these materials. I must pay $119 a year minus a 20% discount with code CERTREG2.

With this program students have access to listen to volunteers' recordings of trade books and textbooks.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Across Five Aprils Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Across Five Aprils
Author: Irene Hunt
Genre: Juvenile Literature ages 9-12, Historical Fiction, Civil War

My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It

I've heard this book recommended by many homeschoolers over the years as a must read during Civil War era history studies, and had purchased it for future use. Unfortunately when it was assigned the book was packed in boxes from our move so I bought the eBook version for the assignment! This fall I read this book aloud to my 7th grader as it was a parent-child discussion assignment. Some of it is in dialogue from people not speaking proper English so my son struggled to read that to himself. I even had a hard time figuring out what they were saying. I read it phonetically and then figured out most that way (versus analyzing the spelling). My point being this is a good read aloud, or kids may struggle with the dialect.

Set in southern Illinois, the story unfolds over five years, starting just before the Civil War and ending soon after the war ends. Jethro is the main character, a nine year old farmboy who is the baby in the family. Soon all his older brothers go off to war leaving his sister, he, and his parents to tend to the family farm which is a lot of work. Jethro's father falls ill and all the farmwork then falls to Jethro. Forced to grow up before his time given both the family's individual situation and the unrest in the country, this winds up being a coming of age tale. At the start of the story Jethro was a little boy and by the end he is a fourteen year old young man.

Issues with the Civil War are debated and discussed in the story by the characters. An early situation is one of Jethro's brothers sympathizes with the Southerners and leaves the family to fight with the Rebels. This causes discontent, anger and hatred in the community, since they live in The North. Later the Creighton family is the target of hate crimes punishing them for the crime of the traitor son.

Throughout the book we are informed of the happenings in the Civil War as the family hears news of various battles. Sometimes we read letters written by family members at the battlefront and other times we hear the opinions expressed in the newspapers. The opinions of the public about the Generals and President Lincoln are also shared as part of the story. I felt this showed that the issues were complicated and that even a family raised with the same values could not agree on which opinion was the right one. Later we wrestle with the issue of what should happen to soldiers who ran away from the battlefield and also what should happen to the traitors when the war was over.

A subplot is the romantic love that develops between the fourteen year old girl and the schoolteacher who winds up fighting in the war. Her father had banned their marriage before he left to fight saying she was too young to marry. The girl matured in the war years and in the end we hope to see them united in marriage and hope he makes it through the war alive. (I'll not spoil the story...)

One of the other threads in the story was that Jethro was going to school before the war broke out. He enjoyed learning. The teacher left him with schoolbooks to learn from while the teacher was away at war. The sister helped homeschool the boy and he taught himself; the mother was illiterate. They also read the newspaper as a family, reading it aloud, and the letters, so in that way the boy and the family learned. Lastly Jethro was offered an English grammar text by the newspaper editor and he taught himself proper English from the book over the years, so his own speaking and grammar improved far and above his family's. This thread about self-education and respect for learning was something I appreciated in the storyline.

I confess I am not a war story lover so in the parts that detailed the details of the battles my interest waned. However I was rivoted to the book and wanted to find out what happened to the Creighton family in the end. I would guess that any reader who likes battle details will be most interested in the book but honestly the story is solid and moves along quickly so even if you just want to know what happens to the individual people in the family and in the community you will enjoy the book.

Character traits and virtues are clearly present in this historical fiction story. There is a lot to talk about regarding ethics and values as well as the topic of the Civil War. The book gave me a sense for what life was like for those who were both fighing in the war and those who were left at home struggling to make ends meet with most of the men in the family gone off to war.

This is a solid, high quality historical fiction book that I think every middle school aged student should read, hopefully in conjunction with a study of The Civil War. I bet they'd learn a lot more by reading this than by reading a boring old textbook.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Author: Jules Verne
Published in: 1870

My Star Rating: 4 stars out of 4 = I Like It

My 7th grader was assigned to read the unabridged edition of this classic novel for his "not a homeschool co-op". I read this aloud or listened to the audio book with him. I had never read this classic before, nor had I seen any of the movie adaptations.

This classic novel was written by a French author, Jules Verne, and was first published in French in France. It became popular and was later translated to English. It was considered science fiction at the time.

The narrator of the story is a French scientist, Pierra Arronax, who is a trained medical doctor but who specializes in and has published scholarly books about marine biology. The story is set in 1866 with worldwide fear of a sea creature that is attacking ships and taking human lives. Arronax goes on the hunt as a marine creature expert.

As you probably know, the problem is not a whale but a submarine who caused the deaths. Arronax, his servant, and a whale hunter wind up overboard and are rescued by Captain Nemo, who takes them aboard The Nautilus. Since at that time submarines were not yet mainstream, these ideas were on the cutting edge of technology and were futuristic for the time.

Nemo is a recluse who plans to live his entire life secretly living on The Nautilus. He saved the three men's lives yet he intended to keep them prisoner there for the rest of their lives. The three men have different feelings about the unique adventure of undersea exploration, some feel free and liberated while others feel trapped and dream of escape.

Arronax spends a lot of time describing what he sees as they explore the oceans. We hear detailed descriptions of plants, coral, and all manner of sea creatures including their Latin names. Arronax is also intrigued by The Nautilus and wants to know how it works. Captain Nemo, a former engineer, designed the submarine and shares the secrets with the scientist. Things such as how clean air for human breathing is obtained and stored, what fuels the submarine and how it manages to not be crushed under pressure are discussed in detail.

The adventure and excitement of the story is long and drawn out and at times the detailed descriptions seemed like overkill. This bothered both me and my son. This book takes a long attention span, for it is a large volume. We finally start to understand more about Nemo and what is driving him: revenge. However not a lot of detail is revealed about the issue and Nemo remains a bit of a mystery even in the end.

The language in the book is old fashioned and there were many large words which may have been popular in 1870 which I have never heard used in my life. I had to use the dictionary to look up their meanings. These large words and the former style of writing long sentences that today would be labeled run-on sentences may turn off some readers, whether they are preteens, teens, or adults.

I won't tell what happens in the end lest it spoil the story.

I have a feeling that based on the focus on technology some boys would be more interested in this book than girls. Any child interested in the ocean and ocean life would enjoy this book.

Many abridged editions of this story have been published.

In reading more about this classic book I discovered that what Americans call the unabridged edition is indeed an edited version. There is a longer version which is said to have even more of a visionary environmentalist theme (save the whales and man and civilization is corrupt). I am now curious how the new translation compares to the one I just read.

This book is available for free eBook download on Many paperbound copies of the unabridged book are avaiable.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Norman Dietz and was published by Recorded Books. This edition may be out of print. See link below. Your library may carry it, or I enjoyed Dietz's reading because he had an excellent voice for Arronax showing that he was an educated and refined gentleman. Dietz also used slightly different voices for the characters which matched their personality.

Disclosure: See the link near the top of my blog's sidebar.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Freckles Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Freckles
Author: Gene Stratton-Porter
Genre: Fiction
Published: 1904

Freckles was an assigned reading for my seventh grader's "not a homeschool co-op". The program's literature study guide is intended to be done with the parent and in my opinion the only way to have legitimate parent/child discussion is if the parent has read the book also. Once I started reading it aloud to him, I could not stop my curiosity so I read it to myself over a couple of days. It hooked me and I wanted to find out what happened.

Freckles was published in 1904. The story of the female author is interesting and worthy of a few minutes of your time. A few things I will share that are important to know about her that relate to this novel are that Stratton-Porter lived near the Limberlost Swamp in Indiana, which is the setting of this story. She was a naturalist and nature lover and was concerned over loss of habitat of the swamp; her love of the birds and wild creatures is evident in this book. Some elements of her own life are idential to the books' character: "Bird Woman".

Freckles is the main character, a twenty year old man, an orphan raised in an orphanage and whose former foster parents abused him. Freckles has only one hand, a problem that makes finding paid employment difficult. Being poorly educated did not allow him to find work in certain career fields. He is homeless at the start of the story and winds up being hired by a lumber company owner to guard the Limberlost Swamp from tree poachers for a year before the trees will be harvested.

Several times daily Freckles must hike the perimeter of the fenced in swamp. He spends all his time alone and soon comes to befriend the birds and wild creatures of the swamp. He rents a room in the home of an empty nester couple and they become parent figures to Freckles, especially the woman as a positive mother figure. The lumber company owner also takes a liking to him and becomes a father figure.

Later Freckles comes to know Bird Woman, a naturalist who takes bird photographs and publishes articles about birds and a sixteen year old girl who is referred to as Angel. He falls in love with Angel. Later poachers come to the swamp to try to steal the trees. There is some action and adventure as Freckles tries to defend the property he is paid to protect. An accident occurs. Freckles is still unhappy about his past and hates thinking that his parents abused him so badly that it caused the loss of his hand. I can't tell you more or the story will be spoiled.

While the book has some progressive ideas with its two powerful and strong female characters (which is fine by me) it otherwise is an old-fashioned book with characters full of positive character traits. The Bad Guys are clearly full of sin and devoid of worthy character traits, it's all quite black and white. I can see why so many Christian homeschoolers have their children read books by Stratton-Porter. My only complaint is the romantic love part is a bit saccharine and predictable, but I let this go since I did enjoy the story. This is also a G rated tale, something else that most parents will like. The book is infused with an appreciation for wild plants, trees, and wild creatures. One unresolved problem for me was that Freckles came to love the swamp but how much destruction his father figure lumber company owner will inflict on the swamp was skirted. It was briefly stated that the land may wind up being clear cut and used for farm land, which is what happened in real life to The Limberlost Swamp. I felt that Freckles should have been angry or worried about this issue.

This book is available as a free eBook download from You probably can read it free online. It is also available in softcover book.

I rate this book 5 stars = I Love It.

Gene Stratton-Porter also wrote A Girl of the Limberlost which is about a naturalist girl. I have not read that book yet.

Note: If you do not want to read plot spoilers DO NOT read the Wikipedia article for this book.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Parent's Guide to the Best Kid's Comics Book Review

Title: A Parent's Guide to the Best Kid's Comics

Scott Robbins and Snow Wildsmith

My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It

My Summary Statement: Fantastic Book List Book for Graphic Novels - I Wish It Was Available When My Kids Were Younger

I've been saying we need a book or at least a website that provides this information for years, so I am thrilled that this book has been published. Comics and graphic novels are not all for very young readers - even though the youngest of kids is drawn to them - and with so many graphic novels on the market now parents, teachers, and librarians can use help figuring out which are appropriate for different aged readers.

This book provides a two page spread on each featured book with the left side being a summary description, if it is part of a series, possible controversial issues called "heads up" (i.e. name calling, violence, etc.), and educational tie-in themes. Similar books are briefly noted. The right side facing page is a full page color reproduction from the book which gives us a sense for the type of art or size of font or the tone of the book.

The book is divided into sections by grade level: pre-k-1, 2-3, 4-5, and 6-8.

This book covers mostly newer American books but there is a sprinkling of some of the most tame Japanese manga that has been translated to English and the oldie Adventures of Tintin.

This is a reasonably priced book for the high quality glossy paper and full color on every page book. Compared to other reference books used by librarians and teachers this is a bargain. It's affordability makes it easy for parents to access also.

When purchasing Japanese manga there is a rating system on the back cover to indicate what age range the book is intended for. Since American books do not have such a rating system, this guidebook is necessary.

I highly recommend that parents use this reference guide when trying to find graphic novels and comics for their children to read. This is very well done and better quality than I would have expected. I am grateful to Scott Robins and Snow Wildsmith for writing this excellent guide.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from's Vine program. I was under no obligation to blog it or review it favorably. I was not paid to write this review. See my full disclosure statement near the top of my blog's sidebar.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Summer of the Gypsy Moths Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Summer of the Gypsy Moths
Author: Sara Pennypacker

Genre: Juvenile Literautre ages 8-12

My Star Rating: 1 Star out of 5 = I Hate It

My Summary Statement: Main Point Could Have Been Executed Without Sicko and Amoral Action

**for spoiler scroll to the bottom**

I read lots of juvenile literature as I homeschool my kids and like to discuss books with my kids. This book was of special interest to me since it is set on Cape Cod, a place I have visited at least twice a year for the last 20 years.

Based on the marketing materials and the book jacket I thought the book sounded good but I was more than disturbed to find out what the 11 year of main character and the foster sister did to the elderly woman just to swindle $20 a week in tips for themselves. I know both girls are troubled and both are in the foster system, and the author says they do not practice religion but I refuse to believe that these two girls have no morals and risked that illegal action. It made the story unbelievable and I wound up loathing the girls rather than liking them.

Honestly I cannot believe a major publisher actually published this book. What the girls did is horrifying and the publisher is marketing this to 8 year olds? Seriously? Instead of what the girls did the author could have had the elderly lady get ill and put the girls in a position of having to help out and keep the tips, or risk being removed from her care. They could have been mentored directly yet still have taken on serious responsibility and learned the same lessons about hard work minus the illegal and immoral action and without the grossness (bug munching sounds and Febreze to hide the stink).

The fact that the main character shows more love to the blueberry bushes than the way she handled the death of her great aunt seemed just wrong to me.

SPOILER: If what happened has piqued your curiosity, it is revealed on page one that the great aunt the girls are living with dies. The girls do not report her death and she begins to rot and stink. They decide to roll her up in the area rug and bury her in the vegetable garden so they can tend to the rental cabins and keep the tips for themselves (instead of the tips going to the great aunt). They lie and deceive many people about the whereabouts of the missing great aunt for $15-20 a week in tips.

Disclosure: I received an advance reader's copy of this book from's Vine program for the purpose of reviewing it on I was not paid to write this review nor was I under obligation to blog it or to review it favorably.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wishing For Tomorrow Audio Book Review by ChristineMM

My Star Rating: 5 Stars out of 5 = I Love It

My Summary Statement: Fills in a Lot of Details Missing From A Little Princess and Updates Everything

I was wary about a sequel written by an author who did not write the original classic but this book did not disappoint.

In thinking about The Little Princess, there was a fair amount of detail lacking on the Minchin's, who they were and how the boarding school came to be, and who the other girls were and why they were there. This sequel answers all of that plus tells what happened after Sara left. As to what happens in the future of Miss Minchins', I can't and won't reveal the spoiler other than to say something does happen that tidies up everything so we readers know what would happen going forward.

I listened to the audiobook version which was well narrated by a woman with a British accent.

I enjoyed both the audiobook listening experience as well as enjoying the story. I'm an adult who read A Little Princess as a child and re-read it a few years ago. I think the sequel was well done and highly recommend it to any reader who loved A Little Princess.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this audiobook from Amazon Vine for the purpose of reviewing it on's site. I was under no obligation to review it favorably nor to blog it and I was not paid to do this. For my blog's full disclosure statement see the link near the top of my blog's sidebar.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

UnBEElievables Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: UnBEElievables

Author: Douglas Florian

Genre: Children’s Picture Book ages 4-8, poetry

Publication: Simon and Schuster, March 2012

My Star Rating: 4 Stars out of 5 = I Like It

Summary Statement: Cute and Educational Poems about Honeybees For Children


I first became acquainted with the poetry and artwork of Douglas Florian about a decade ago when my oldest child was a toddler. His poems are whimsical and kids enjoy hearing them read aloud. The first books we read over and over were just poems with artwork. Insectlopedia is our family favorite.

This volume is entirely about honeybees. Besides the poem on a topic that educates primarily and entertains secondarily, there is a paragraph at the bottom of the page with factual information to read aloud or talk to your child about. Each topic has a two page spread with artwork on one page and the poems on the other.

The last poem is about the current problem of honeybee die-off. It’s not too doomsday, but I feel it may be unnecessary. Can we let little kids be innocent little kids for just a short while? The inclusion of factual information with each poem makes it an “educational” book not just a fun book to read that you can’t help but learn from. Something more important would perhaps teach kids to not be scared to death of bees they see when they are outside and to just leave them alone rather than scream their heads off, think the bees are out to get them, and to try to kill them all. I can’t tell you how many girls and boys I see flipping out over seeing a bee flying by or on a flower gathering pollen, minding their own business. Let’s teach kids that bees are not out to harm us but irrational behavior of humans can scare them and make them sting us!

I liked the book and enjoyed the artwork. It’s a book that is perfect for a public library or school library to own so that the most kids can get the use out of it. It would be a great read aloud for any child at home or in the classroom, from toddler ages up through grade three.

P.S. If you don't want to inform your kids about the die-off you can choose to just skip the last poem!
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the Amazon Vine program for the purpose of writing a review on For my bog's full disclosure statement see the link near the top of my blog's sidebar.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Roar Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: The Road: A New Future is About to Explode

Author:  Emma Clayton

Genre: Children’s fiction, grades 5-8

Publication: Chicken House, 2009

My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It

My Summary Statement: Fast Paced Page-Turner – Dystopian Novel for Kids – Appeals to Both Girls and Boys

From the start of this book I was hooked. I’m a homeschooling mother who reads a fair share of juvenile fiction and young adult literature, whose sons enjoy dystopian literature. I couldn’t put the book down and was engaged from the beginning. Clayton did a great job creating the characters that I related to and cared about.

There is plenty of action in this fast-paced book while also having a real storyline and good character development. The main character is a boy twin and the secondary characters are the girl twin and another twelve year old girl, with other minor characters of both genders. I therefore think this book will appeal to both girls and boys, so long as they enjoy the dystopian fiction genre.

We are also curious until the end, about what The Secret is. The book was not at all predictable (thank goodness) and although we don’t find out what it is until the very end, there is enough story and action to not frustrate us due to our curiosity to know.

The book is a bit edgy for some fifth graders, especially sensitive kids, with some creepy characters and nightmares and intentional scaring and some dangerous sick things that adults do to the twelve year old characters. However if your child is already familiar with The Hunger Games this is nothing as severe as that (young adult) novel. Also if they already have read the whole Harry Potter series, this is either not as severe or equally edgy.

This dystopian novel is set in the future on Earth. Some things that happen in the book are happening in our culture today: bullying, classism, and social injustice. There are talking points here that would make for good discussion parent to child or teacher to classroom.

This may be a great book for reluctant readers too, thanks to the action, the engaging characters, the interesting topic, and the suspense.

At about 500 pages it seems daunting but the action and story pull the reader through and it seemed to me to be engaging and exciting throughout, so the long page count is fine by me.

I rate this book 5 stars = I Love It.

Note: The sequel, The Whisper, was released in February 2012. I’ve purchased that already and can’t wait to start reading it.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from the Amazon Vine program. See my blog's full disclosure statement near the top of my blog's sidebar.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Invincible Microbe Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Invincible Microbe Tuberculosis and the Never-Ending Search for a Cure

Authors: Jim Murphy and Alison Blank

Publication: Clarion, July 2012

My Star Rating: 4 Stars

Summary Statement: Gave Grim and Non-Hopeful Outlook (Even in the Title) - Could Scare Some Sensitive Kids - Marketed to Ages 9-12

I am a homeschooling mother who prefers using "real" or "living books" instead of boring textbooks, especially for the middle school and elementary grades for learning about nonfiction topics such as science and history.

I own and have read several of Jim Murphy’s books and appreciate that he writes detailed nonfiction books that educate deeply (and do not dumb down the content), that he can write in an engaging, non-boring style and that he does NOT use a patronizing tone. I also like that he sometimes chooses to write about topics that have been ignored by the children’s publishing industry (like TB).

Murphy writes deeply on topics and some may even ask, “Do kids really want to know all this detail. Do they care?” and “Who is reading these books really”? This book is marketed to children aged 9-12. This is Murphy’s first writing partnership with his wife Alison Blank who writes and edits children’s publications. I noticed a difference in the writing style of this collaborative work. I got a sense that the writing was a bit watered down in the beginning of the book. However at other parts I thought maybe not enough was done to bring this down to the level of the age of the readers. Even a labeled gifted student or any bright kid at age 9 or 10 may not know the terms disingenuous or grudgingly, to name just two. Other times large or uncommon words are used when I felt the writing could have explained things a bit more or another word could have been selected. I was torn about the book, thinking sometimes it was “just right”, sometimes it was a bit easier to read or simplified than necessary yet other times it was talking over a 9-12 year Old’s head. In the last two chapters there is an over-use of government agencies and nonprofit organizations which children of this age are usually ignorant about.

This book discusses TB starting with early man and going forward in time and telling how it affected people around the world (not just focused on the USA). Two chapters focus on the sanatorium method of treatment. Different medical treatments that were used at various times were explained and their uselessness or that they made it even worse is explained also. I appreciated the detailed information about different ideas that scientists and doctors had and how they experimented and tested them (sometimes even going directly to use on humans) and sometimes with dire results. This was treated well although some of the treatments were gruesome and some readers may be grossed out or even scared that supposedly well-intentioned doctors did things that hurt or even killed their patients due to their wrong-thinking or ignorance. (If doctors 50 years ago made terrible mistakes can’t the doctors of today also make mistakes using the current medical opinion of today?)

Once we get to the point in history where an antibiotic cure was found and an effective immunization was found, it was hopeful and good. So, at that point I still didn’t understand the title of the book INVINCIBLE MICROBE. I thought we’d beat the disease!

Then we hit chapter 10 which dives deeper into the fact that microbes mutate and adapt to become resistant to antibiotics. On page 108 it discusses a resistant form of TB discovered in 1979 then goes on to explain that AIDS was in the United States and that AIDS patients began becoming infected with TB. It then switches to discussing TB treatment in third world countries where patients are not willfully complying with antibiotic therapy so they use a system where a health care professional watches them take the pills. The last sentence of the chapter says that while TB seemed under control in the USA it was raging in other parts of the world (that’s scary).

The situation grows more dire for readers in chapter 11. It opens with a story of one airline passenger from the Ukraine infected with TB flying to the USA who winds up infecting many people on the same airplane. While readers may be worried about that, the writing turns to being cluttered with acronyms for government agencies in USA and worldwide agencies are thrown around without any explanation for what they are. Readers aged 9-12 don’t usually know about those (and many adults don’t know about them either). What child knows about the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease? WHO and the CDC are never explained. That introduces an element of confusion for the reader. What the young readers will understand is the warning on page 118 that thanks to modern (and affordable) international commercial air travel “no disease is more than 24 hours away”. So even if you live in America with good health care you are still at risk!

Sadly the book ends on that scary tone. Even the title is grim, calling TB “invincible”. I didn’t finish the book feeling hopeful. I didn’t finish the book feeling confident that humans will be able to beat this thing; I felt that it’s a constant work in progress, but knowing the past good intentions resulted in so much suffering and death I wasn’t feeling too hopeful for the future of battling super germs. Although the authors said that many scientists and agencies are trying their hardest to stay on top of this “invincible microbe”, if they were confident themselves why was this grim title chosen?

I had some issues with the way the funding of the sanatoriums was handled. When deciding to get into a certain topic such as funding of treatments and the controversial issues of race and prejudice, and how a nation is to handle requests for free treatment by illegal immigrants, it’s complicated, and hard to address in a children’s book for kids aged 9-12. I detected some guiding persuasion by what was said and also by what was left out of the book. I felt some topics were glossed over too shallowly (poor white people and all the African American citizens) and other times they went too deep (Mexican illegal immigrants). I also researched on my own and found that another option for sanatoriums existed: nonprofit organizations who gave free care to their members, why was that never mentioned? I was left thinking the best source for funding was government, to give fair and equal access to all. After reading an emotional story of suffering by TB patients when reading that some were denied care due to the color of their skin or their wealth level that it’s a crying shame.

If I try to think optimistically: I think the writing of those controversial topics was done intentionally to show how what was done in the not so recent history was imperfect and to get kids to ask how we can use lessons learned from that to apply to today’s challenge with the same issue of trying to get citizens (and illegal immigrants) equal access to the best medical care of the day. That’s a good thing. If I try to think cynically: I would accuse the authors of a veiled attempt to persuade readers to think that free health care administered by government is the best option for everyone and that Mexicans should be able to freely immigrate to America and to receive free medical care also (not just free care to US legal residents). I have not detected persuasion of this type in past books by Jim Murphy so I wonder if this is the influence of Alison Blank. I’ll not share which of these I personally suspect is true.

So, my feelings on this book were mixed. In a nutshell I appreciated the detailed book about TB to teach about the history of medicine and the history of our country and the world, yet I didn’t like the doomsday ending. I don’t know that every child would be interested in reading this book, yet the gifted kids who may gravitate to this type of deep learning who want to help save the world, are sometimes also the most sensitive and worrisome types that may become highly disturbed by the last two chapters.

Overall I do appreciate all the history in the book so I still rate this 4 stars = I Like It.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book from Amazon Vine. I was not paid to write the review nor was I under obligation to rate it favorably or to blog about it. For my blog's full disclosure statement see the link near the top of my blog's sidebar.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why We Have Day and Night Picture Book Review by ChristineMM

Title: Why We Have Day and Night

Author: Peter F. Neumeyer

Illustrator: Edward Gorey

Publication: Pomegranate, 2011 (previously published in 1970)

Genre: Children’s Picture Book ages 4-8

My Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5 = I Love It

My Summary Statement: A Peek Inside the Mind of a Child; Whimsical and Nonsense Story, Funny

The lights suddenly go out, and three children who were busy playing begin to speculate why, giving nonsensical ideas so common to the way young kid’s minds work. The fourth and oldest child chimes in and tries to explain about the Earth’s rotation and the sun and why it gets dark at night. Then they reject the notion and share another nonsense idea that they think happened.

Being a blend of real science explained in a way that kids can understand and mostly nonsense this will appeal to children and adults who have a sense of humor. Anyone wanting pure nonfiction science picture books and to only discuss things in factual serious ways will not like this book.

Perhaps some would say this book is weird, when really it’s just funny and telling realistic ways that children’s minds work. I appreciate the silliness as it’s a reminder of the fresh, uninhibited way that the minds of curious children work. Children outgrow that way of thinking and talking when they get older and begin to fear criticism or ridicule by others from what they say, so enjoy that phase while your children are in it.

As an adult, I'm thinking about this book a bit deeper. I find it funny that adults also sometimes fall prey to this line of thinking. They don't know something, they ponder on how and why it is and come up with false notions and crazy ideas sometimes a worst case scenario. When facts are shared to explain it, they sometimes don't want to believe them and go back to believing the nonsense. They hold onto their original ideas or go looking for even more explanations which are disconnected from the true facts.

Edward Gorey illustrated this children’s picture book and his style and illustrations makes the book fun. Fans of the artwork of Gorey will especially enjoy this book. Originally published in 1970, this book was reprinted in 2011.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from to publish a review on that site but was under no obligation to give it a favorable review. For my blog's full disclosure statement see the link near the top of my blog's sidebar.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Astronomy Book in Same Format as the Much Loved The Elements Book

The publisher of The Elements, a visually striking book about the periodic table of elements has published a similar book about astronomy called The Solar System. I learned about this when I saw the book on display at MIT's The Coop bookstore last week.

My very visual ninth grader loves The Elements. We own the book, the flash cards (which we purchased from and a laminated placemat (purchased from the Boston Museum of Science).

We need another space book like we need a hole in the head, but I'm making an exception to purchase this book because it truly is unparalleled in its visual beauty. The pages are black with stunning photography. The writing is engaging, to the point yet interesting. Regarding The Elements I used to think they were boring, with that ugly chart popping into my mind when I think of them, but that book shows they are gorgeous and stunning. So, how can I resist the astronomy class?

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose other than the regular stuff which can be read by clicking the link near the top of my blog's sidebar. Blah, blah, blah. (Sorry, I'm getting sick of this federal law mandated disclaimer thing.)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Kids Still Love Basher Nonfiction Children's Books

We own almost all the Basher nonfiction books.

I find them silly and funny.

My eleven year old finds them "cool not funny".

My fourteen year old (who started reading them about two years ago) loves them and thinks they are funny.

We use these as supplements to what we are learning in homeschooling. My kids also pick them up on their own and read through them for fun.

Some of the books have been read three or four times, so these are keepers for us, I'm glad to own them. (And I have never seen them in public libraries so buying is the only option I had open to our family.)

When at MIT last weekend we visited The Coop (their bookstore) and I saw a big display of all the Basher books. I am glad that others realize there is a market for nonfiction books for kids. If the book is engaging, kids will read it, and they will enjoy it.

Basher books cover: (mostly) science, English, math, and music. So far, I haven't seen any history!

Highly recommended.

I see their publisher is now making some sets of flashcards using the visuals from the book. I'll be buying the periodic table set for my kids.

From the archives: My Kids Love Basher Science Books, April 2010

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose other than the standard stuff which you can read by clicking the link near the top of my blog's sidebar.