Book Review: A Unicorn Named Sparkle

A Unicorn Named Sparkle

I recently read A Unicorn Named Sparkle by Amy Young and it seriously gave me a case of the giggles.

I mean, it’s a story about a little girl who orders a unicorn for 25 cents from an ad in the back of a magazine (whoever tells you that’s not a dream come true is lying), but what shows up is a goat with an ice cream cone stuck to his forehead.

How can you not love this premise?

It’s a delightful picture book that my children found to be fun and silly.  The illustrations are bright and colorful and … sparkly.

Lucy’s wild hair and polka dot shirt are painted with soft watercolors and dance across pages of wide white spreads, and the baby unicorn/goat practically dances right into your heart with his own little heart-shaped cutie mark.

Now, when Lucy imagines what kind of unicorn will be delivered to her, she pictures something perfect and pretty with a flowing mane and impeccable manners.  When the goat arrives, with his scruffy mane and tendency-to-eat-things manners, she decides to return him.

The truck arrives to take him back, but, luckily, Lucy realizes her mistake before it’s too late.

Because although he was not quite what she expected, “she had to admit:  sometimes he made her smile and sometimes he made her laugh.”  And while friends might not always be perfect, they are certainly precious.

So if you or your kids love unicorns (or goats), check out A Unicorn Named Sparkle for a fun and charming story!

Happy Reading!

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Marta Big & Small: Book Review

marta-big-and-small

I recently picked up Marta Big & Small, written by Jen Arena and illustrated by Angela Dominguez, and I just had to share it.

This bilingual book is wonderful not only for the understated yet adorable illustrations, but also because of the lyrical flow to the text.

As we follow Marta through the story, she is compared to various animals, so we are practicing opposites.  The comparisons are made in both English and Spanish, but in a way that sounds poetic as opposed to a school lesson.

For example, “To an elephant, Marta is pequeña.  Small, very small.”

This makes it fun to read while also being educational.  And my kids love to ask me how to say things in Spanish, so to have these words presented like this is something I can really appreciate.

There is also a spread where we learn the Spanish words for the animals.  For example, Marta is “fast like el caballo.”

I am also completely enchanted by the female-positive message at the end.  She is called “clever, very clever, like una niña.”  This is a fantastic way to end the tale that includes her outsmarting a snake who though she looked “sabrosa” or “tasty.”

Plus, we get another spread which lists the words in the book with the Spanish and English words side by side, as a glossary.

Fun to read and educational!  Can’t beat that.

Happy Reading!

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The Story of Diva and Flea (Book Review)

The Story of Diva and Flea

I am so happy I picked up The Story of Diva and Flea.  I may even love the book more than my kids do, and they really like it.

First of all, Mo Willems is currently my kid’s favorite author.  Seriously.  Elephant & Piggie are HUGE in our house right now.

But whereas Elephant & Piggie are more of an Easy Reader book for K-2 kids, this book is aimed at a slightly different crowd.  Not too different – if you look on Amazon, they’re both listed for ages 6-8, but this is a book that is more likely to be read TO them than BY them.

And I certainly don’t mind.

(Actually I adore reading the E&P books with all my funny voices, too, but that’s beside the point.)

Diva and Flea has a great rhythm and an excellent structure.  They meet, they both try something new, and they discover how wonderful it is to try new things – even if they seem scary at first.

There are three acts.  In the first they meet, in the second Diva expands her borders, and in the third Flea expands his.  They both face their fears head on  – with the support of each other – and come out the better for it.

What a wonderful, wonderful lesson for children.

The writing itself is peppered with so many fun details.  For example, Flea is a stray cat who considers himself a “Flâneur,” which is “someone (or somecat) who wanders the streets and bridges and alleys of the city just to see what there is to see.”  The part I like best?  “A great flâneur has seen everything, but still looks for more, because there is always more to discover.”

Little Diva has a tremendous fear of FEET because she is aware of just how “squishable” her small stature makes her.  But she loves Fleas stories, like the ones about “The Underground Rooms on Wheels” and “The People Who Drink Cough-Fee All Day.”  And those stories are part of what inspire her to explore they city.

Flea introduces Diva to the world outside of her courtyard and the “tower that could cut a cloud in half,” and helps Diva discover the bravery inside of her.  Then Diva helps Flea conquer his fears, which also grants him the gift of the thing he doesn’t have:  a home.

The illustrations by Tony DiTerlizzi are beyond charming.  I love the perspectives of the tiny dog Diva, I love the facial expressions of Flea, and I love the colors and the dazzling backdrops of the Parisian setting.

Diva and Flea by Mo Willems

And that setting!

Ah, Paris, my Paris.

Many years ago, when I was writing my Travelblog, I said that upon leaving Paris I had left part of my heart there.  And how very true that was.

Paris took me in.  There is life in the very bones of the city, deep in the foundation, in the stones, and the hum of the Seine and the glow of the Tower against a gently falling night.  It calls to me still.

But even if you don’t feel about Paris the way I do, it certainly never hurts to explore different cities and different cultures with your kids.  The Story of Diva and Flea brings many things to your children, and, at the very least, is a wonderful read-aloud to snuggle with.

Happy Reading!

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Usborne Puzzle Pad Books

puzzle pad books

These Puzzle Pad Books from Usborne have tear-off pages that are full of paper games and puzzles to keep kids entertained.

They’re really great for car rides or restaurants or when you want to keep your kids entertained without electronics.

My video review shows one that’s made for two people (“players”) and another that is made for just one person.

Plus, there’s a pocket-sized one, too, which is smaller in size and with less pages, to make it even easier to carry around.  Like in their backpacks.

Check out my video to see inside the books and get a glimpse at the puzzles and games:

Here are the direct links to the books I mentioned in the video:

Pencil & Paper Games

Busy Puzzle Pad

Pocket Puzzle Books

And, of course, there are tons of other interactive and educational puzzle books at my site BOOKS WITH ROSIE.

If you need any suggestions, feel free to contact me on Facebook!  :)

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I’m a Dirty Dinosaur Book Review

I'm a Dirty Dinosaur Book ReviewThis is a fun book to read.  It has lots of sounds, or onomatopoeias, which kids enjoy.  And you can kind of dance about while reading it, or, you know, maybe leave the dancing around to the kiddos.

Either way, this dinosaur may be dirty, but he does wind up taking a bath at the very end.  Before the bath comes along, though, the kids will have a lot of fun with the stomping and shaking and snuffing about over the pages of simple illustrations mixed with bright colors.

Real mud was used in creating the illustrations, so that’s something that would be fun to incorporate into crafts with your own kids.

Watch my video review to see inside the book:

And you can read a little more about it on my book website:

I’m a Dirty Dinosaur

Is your kid/grandkid/niece/nephew a BIG dinosaur fan?  Because then you really should check out some of these awesome titles, too:

That's Not My Dinosaur Books Great Dinosaur Search Book

The Usborne Big Book of Big Dinosaurs  Dinosaur Activity Pack

Dinosaur Excavation Kit  Dinosaur Coloring and Sticker Book 

Dinosaurs - nonfiction books   Lift the Flap Dinosaur Questions and Answers

Happy Reading!  (Roar)

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Muddle and Match Book Review

Muddle and Match Book Review by Roaming Rosie

I love these Muddle and Match books!  They make great gifts but they also keep my kids entertained during both story time and long car rides.  The reason for this is because they are SO interactive.

The concept of the books is this:  you have three sections on each “page” that are all able to be turned independently.  So the story on the left and the picture on the right can be changed over and over.  You could end up with a cowgirl head, a fairy body, and a mermaid tail – kind of like the picture on the cover.  And then you can change it up again!

Another thing I love is the alliteration.  Each page of the story focuses on one letter – which makes it easy to incorporate these books into lessons of learning the alphabet.

The books themselves are like a board book with thick pages, and they also feature rounded edges.

And, you know, they are super silly and fun!  Which is an awesome way to help kids learn to love reading.

Watch my video review to see the books in action:

And check out the whole collection on my book site:

Muddle and Match Books

  Muddle and Match Adventure Muddle and Match Imagine

 

Muddle and Match Monsters  Muddle and Match Jungle Animals

Happy Reading!

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Roaming Rosie Reads “Monsters Aren’t Real” by Kerstin Schoene {book review}

Roaming Rosie Reads

Monsters Aren’t Real by Kerstin Schoene is an enchanting picture book that my kids are absolutely in love with.

It’s 44 pages long, but many of the pages have no words at all, or only a few.  Wordless picture books are great for Little Ones.  Plus, the story is packed full of laughs, which always makes reading fun.

The book is about a monster who’s keeps hearing “monster’s aren’t real,” which leads him to wonder, “then what am I?”  He’s as big as a monster… as strong as a monster… so monsters MUST be real.  Right??

Monster's Aren't Real {picture book review}

Our gentle monster tries to prove that he’s real by attempting to scare people.  He says “boo” and he juggles cows, but nobody is scared.  He tried to spread propaganda via helium balloons and posters {my girls always giggle about the poster that’s upside down}, but nobody’s paying attention.

He gets sad and concludes that monsters aren’t, in fact, real.  But then another crazy-looking monster shows up {this one’s my 3yo’s favorite} and insists that they ARE real.

I often have to reread and reread and reread those last two pages.  My girls read them along with me, bursting into laughter every single time.

When the book is over, I always ask, “are monsters real?” and they shout, “NO!”

And then they laugh some more.

You can watch me reading the book in the video below:

And you can purchase the book from Usborne Books & More:

Monsters Aren’t Real

If you’re Little One is a big monster fan, they may also enjoy:

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Happy Reading!

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Roaming Rosie Reads “The Dog Who Loved Red” by Anitha Balachandran

Roaming Rosie Reads

The Dog Who Loved Red by Anitha Balachandran is one of my favorite Kane Miller picture books.

The illustrations are a bright and fun celebration of color.

The dog’s name is Raja and Raja loves red.  He even has “red radar.”  He chews on Mrs. Lal’s red shawl and Mr. Lal’s gray and red socks, but Raja’s favorite red thing to chew is the old red ball that he and his friend Champ play with.

The Dog Who Loved Red

But the red ball is lost.  Champ is sad.

Then Raja uses his red radar to locate their red ball in the neighbor’s backyard.  The neighbor, Mr. Mehta, doesn’t like dogs.  But Raja braves Mr. Mehta and his blue hose to retrieve the ball.

He’s quite the colorful mess at the end, which results in a bath for him and lots of laughs from your audience.

Kids love the adventurous story and there are a ton of colors mentioned for your Little Ones to find.

In the video below, you can watch me reading the book:

I’m sorry to announce that The Dog Who Loved Red is no longer available to purchase new from Usborne Books & More/Kane Miller, and but you can find many other wonderful picture books at my Usborne site, Books With Rosie.

HOWEVER, you can still buy The Dog Who Loved Red as a used book on Amazon.

You can also watch other videos of me reading story books in my Roaming Rosie Reads posts.

A few more picture books that I love:

Bears Don't Read One Night in the Zoo Acorns and Stew, Too The Children Who Loved Books

Happy Reading!

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Book Review: The Hidden Life of Wolves

The Hidden Life of Wolves

I had shared the video for The Hidden Life of Wolves on Facebook awhile back, but I just recently got a chance to read the book.

It attracted me from the first time I heard about it.  Wolves have always fascinated me.  I’ve always found them to be borderline magical and always wanted one as a friend and companion.  Even though they are wild {as the book reminds us} they are smart and their eyes are deep and their calls command the night.

Why do I love wolves so much?  I mostly attribute it to The Journey of Natty Gann, a movie released in the 80s that featured a young girl with a wolf as a traveling partner.  I don’t remember much about the movie, actually, but I remember the wolf.  I remember that the girl was going through unbelievably hard times, but I remember the wolf right there alongside her – and I wanted to be her because of that.

Maybe that sounds a little silly, but as a young child, I wanted to experience that beauty and that passion and that comfort up close.

Which has an awful lot to do with why I picked up this book the instant I caught those golden green eyes staring back at me.

And what a gorgeous book it is!

The photos are breathtakingly spectacular and are alone well worth the purchase of the book.  But there’s so much more, too.

The authors lived – day in and day out – with these wolves.  They were like family.  Like pack.

The book is a glimpse inside the personalities and habits of how these wolves lived.  How they played and hunted, how they reared and mourned.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’d had no idea that the wild wolf population was so terribly scarce.

Why have we been killing off wolves for so long?  Why have we driven them to near extinction?  Why do so many people hate them?  Is it because they are so like us?

Jim and Jamie Dutcher, the husband and wife team who wrote the book, have taken on a lifelong mission of helping this majestic cousin of Man’s Best Friend.  This effort grew from the beginnings of their incorporation into the Sawtooth Pack and blossomed into three documentaries, three Emmy Awards, and their groundbreaking nonprofit organization, Living With Wolves.  {You can also follow them on Facebook.}

They introduce us not just to the individual wolves of Sawtooth Pack, from the Alpha to the pups, but also to a history of the animal and its relationship with humans over many thousands of years.  They show us how these intelligent and compassionate creatures are so vital to our ecosystem, and how we can live peacefully side-by-side.

Truly, I think that everyone who has even a passing interest in animals or nature should read this book.

You can see a preview of the book in the video below, which includes glimpses of the stunning photography.

A portion of the proceeds of book sales goes towards helping wolves, but even if you decide not to buy the book, you should still pick it up and read it.  It will change the way you look at wolves.  It may even change you.

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Book Review: Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals by Dinah Fried

Fictitious Dishes:  An Album of Literatures Most Memorable Meals

I recently picked up Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals by Dinah Fried with the expectation that I’d soon be trying out some new recipes.

I was mistaken.

So my initial reaction to this book was one of disappointment.

But I was still intrigued, as I usually am with anything related to either novels or food {and this had both!} so I sat down and began to read it from the beginning.

I found the author’s description of her process to be quite entertaining, and I think I would have enjoyed hearing more about her story.  After all, she chose some books with which I was completely unfamiliar and some times she chose foods that I wasn’t able to identify or match to the descriptions.  So even though I enjoyed the tidbits of facts on each page, I would have liked a meatier {hehe} explanation.

There were a wide variety of books documented here, from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Secret Garden, pictured above, to others like Moby Dick, Lolita, and American Psycho.  I liked finding so many different titles, but there are so many, many more – endless, really – options for inclusion in a book like this, that I kind of found it too short.

I want to make sure that I stress that I really did like this book.  But I also want to stress that it’s a coffee table book, not a cookbook.  Gazing at the creamy chowder and crusty bread in the rustic setting of the author/photographer’s imagining of Moby Dick left me craving a warm soup to combat the dreary, rainy weather I could hear in my memory.

Which also made me realize that the book had accomplished its goals.  The author tells us that she hopes her work will “transport [us] back into fictional worlds,” and for the books we haven’t read, that her photographs are there to “offer a little taste of the stories.”

So not a cookbook.  An art book.  A photography book.  A recipe book, but not recipes of food.  Recipes of the subconscious lingerings that great books leave behind in us.

And once I understood the purpose of the book, I was able to devour it {snicker} with relish {I could do this all day…} and find amusement in the playfulness of the props and the colorful culinary interpretations.

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