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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Fiona’s Luck: a Book Review

Fiona's Luck

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I’ve seen a few book recommendation lists that include Fiona’s Luck, which is written by Teresa Bateman and illustrated by Kelly Murphy.

I love seeing this book recommended at any time of year, however, because it is simply one of my very favorite picture books.

Both of my children love it, but of course it is my eldest, Fiona, who gets especially excited about it.  My girls love to find their names in books or movies, as most children do, and that was what attracted me to Fiona’s Luck in the first place.

And I am so happy I decided to buy it.

Not only does it give me a chance to have fun playing around with my horrible Irish accent (which is possibly more entertaining to me than my kids), but it delivers a wonderful lesson in the form of a fun and engaging story.

Fiona is a young woman in Ireland, living in a time after the Leprechaun King has stolen all the luck that used to be floating freely around the country, and locked it away in a big wooden chest.  He was upset that all of the luck floating around out there was getting attached to the Big Folk, and so he decided to keep it all for himself.

But he took ALL of the luck, every bit of it, and with no luck left floating around Ireland, a famine developed.  The cows wouldn’t let down milk, the hens weren’t laying eggs, and the potatoes rotted in the ground.

Fiona uses her wits to trick everyone into thinking that she is in fact very lucky by pretending to harvest potatoes and be overloaded with baskets of eggs and buckets of milk.

Her ruse works, and the Leprechaun King magically transports her to his throne room to demand that she return the luck.  Since she knows she is not lucky, she uses that to her advantage when he challenges her to tests of luck.  And though she fails all of his tests, she wins something much greater:  a little bit of the luck that he had locked away.  And as it turns out, a little bit is enough.

Fiona's Luck

Illustrations © Kelly Murphy

Amidst this tale of a woman who would rather have her “wits about her” than all the luck in the world, are gorgeously painted illustrations.  While reading the story, there is so much for kids to look at, and so many beautiful details for their eyes to peruse (like tiny sparkles of luck or hidden leprechauns).

The mood of the story comes alive against the soft natural colors, with the gloomier parts reflected by more subdued shades, and the lighter moments highlighted by the playful twinkling of the luck.  The friendly faces set against the sprawling Irish countryside makes for gorgeous viewing for adults and kids alike.

I highly recommend this book.  You won’t regret sharing the brave and spirited Fiona with your own amazing kids!

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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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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Spreading a Love of Reading This Valentine’s Day

Spread a Love of Reading This Valentine's Day!

I love Usborne Books & More, and so for Valentine’s Day, I’d like to share some of that love with you!

This company has done amazing things in my life, and since I’ve been a part of it, I’ve found my kids reading and asking me to read to them even MORE than they used to!

I’ve been able to witness kids who were unable to keep their hands off of these gorgeous books.  I’ve seen kids hug them.  Cling to them.  I watched children just today who picked out some books from my booth at a craft fair, and barely make it to the next booth before sitting down on the grass to read and play with their new books while their mother shopped for hair bows.

Kids love these books.

And, so, to celebrate this love, I wanted to share a few books with you that are great reads for Valentine’s Day…… and all year long!

The Best Children's Books for Valentine's Day

Cuddle Bear

The Children Who Loved Books

The Dog Who Loved Red

The Big Snuggle Up

East of the Sun, West of the Moon {Read my review here}

Beauty and the Beast

I Love Words

I Love People

Children’s Cupcake Kit

Decorations to Cut, Fold, & Stick

Choose Your Own Ever After:  A Hot, Cold Summer

Illustrated Fairy Tales

Illustrated Stories of Princes and Princesses

Singing to the Sun

The Key to My Heart

What Comes After a Thousand?

The Big Little Book of Happy Sadness

Wilfrid Gordon Mcdonald Partridge

But if you’d rather just browse the entire catalog of over 1,800 books yourself, you can start at BooksWithRosie.com!

Teach Your Kids to LOVE Books!

My experience has shown that if you expose kids to awesome books, the love blossoms all on it’s own.

But you can help that process along by surrounding kids with amazing books!  :)

Teach Your Kids to LOVE Books!

Happy Valentine’s Day – and Happy Reading!!

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Images copyright Usborne Publishing