Category: Children’s Book Review

The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story by Judy Sierra | Children’s Book Review

Posted September 18, 2017 by Jana in Children's Book Review / 0 Comments

The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story by Judy Sierra | Children’s Book ReviewThe Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story by Judy Sierra
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers on November 1, 2000
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover
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5 Stars

In the Spice Islands, where clove and nutmeg trees grow,
a girl named Damura lived long ago.

Damura is a beautiful girl, as kind and lovely as the little green parrot that perches on the nutmeg tree. But Damura's stepmother and stepsister mistreat her. They force her to rise before dawn, carry out all the chores, and sleep on the floor. One day, while down by the river, Damura calls out to the creatures of the wild for help. Rising from the waters, an ancient crocodile answers the call. This unusual fairy godmother, aptly named Grandmother Crocodile, outfits Damura in a sarong of gold, with slippers to match, and sends her to the palace to dance for the prince. Once he sees her, the prince knows that she will be his bride.

But the fairy tale isn't quite over. Damura's wicked stepmother and stepsister are so jealous that they push Damura into the river, where she is swallowed by a crocodile. Too bad they didn't know about Grandmother Crocodile....

The Gift of the Crocodile, a tale from the Spice Islands in Indonesia, offers a colorful and dramatic twist on the universally adored Cinderella story.

*spoilers, because I’m basically telling you the entire story because I love it so much!*

This version of Cinderella takes place in the Spice Islands in Indonesia. Cinderella’s name is Damura in this tale, the fairy godmother is actually an ancient crocodile named Grandmother Crocodile, and Damura talks to her animal friends like the little green parrot who sits on the branches of the nutmeg trees. In this tale, a widow gives Damura a doll with the stipulation that she talk her father into marrying the widow. She is successful. Her life becomes miserable, though, as she begins to realize she traded her happiness for a doll. She becomes a servant and is very badly mistreated. One day when she is washing her family’s clothes in the river she loses her sarong and calls upon the wild animals to help her. Grandmother Crocodile surfaces and agrees to get her the lost sarong if she agrees to watch her baby crocodile.

Grandmother Crocodile comes back with an even more beautiful sarong because Damura deserves that one and not the old, ragged one. She returns home with her new sarong, but her stepmother takes it away and demands to know how she got it. The stepsister decides to try and get her own and goes down to the river to summon Grandmother. She is rude and mistreats the baby crocodile while Grandmother goes to find her sarong. The crocodile returns with a sarong filled with leeches, which sends the stepsister running home in tears.

When the prince invites all the young women to dance for him, Damura is forbidden to go. But… with the help of Grandmother Crocodile, she goes clothed in a beautiful gold sarong and riding in a horse and carriage. She was to return these things to Grandmother before she went home. She danced beautifully, but then had to rush out when the rooster crowed. The prince tries to follow her, but is left only with one of her slippers. A messenger comes to try the slipper on the young ladies, and it flew right onto Damura’s foot. Even though she is shabby and poor, the prince selects her to be his bride. The next day her stepmother and stepsister, both very jealous, offer to reconcile with Damura over a boat ride on the river. They are not sincere, though, and push her overboard in to the mouth of a crocodile. They run back to the palace and shout that Damura has been eaten, in the hopes that the prince would marry the stepsister. The prince runs to the river to summon Grandmother Crocodile. He tells her what happened, and she scolds her crocodiles, insisting that the guilty party spit Damura out. Grandmother licks Damura’s face and brings her back to life. She tells all the other crocodiles to never touch Damura, the prince, or their children, but instructs them to eat the stepmother or stepsister if they ever see them. The two flee into the forest, never to be seen again. Damura and her husband lived happily ever after.


The Indonesian style illustrations are very pretty, and there is an author’s note about the origins of this tale at the back of the book, as well as the history of the island it takes place on. This adds credibility to the story, and makes it of high quality. I love this blend of Cinderella and a traditional Indonesian folk tale. It’s a very unique, entertaining, and culturally educational story that would make a wonderful addition to anyone’s fairytale library.

5 Stars

Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter by Diane Stanley | Children’s Book Review

Posted September 15, 2017 by Jana in Children's Book Review, Inner Child / 0 Comments

Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter by Diane Stanley | Children’s Book ReviewRumpelstiltskin's Daughter by Diane Stanley
Published by HarperCollins on May 28, 2002
Genres: Fairy Tale, Retelling
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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4 Stars

Once upon a time a miller's daughter was given an impossible task by a cruel and greedy king. She had to spin straw into gold. And who should show up to help her but an odd little man named Rumpelstiltskin.

According to tradition, the gold-bedazzled king and the miller's daughter are wed. But wait just a minute! This king is definitely not husband material, and there's someone else who is -- a hardworking guy who's supportive and nice looking, and who really comes through in a pinch.

Why not marry Rumpelstiltskin?

In Diane Stanley's merry rethinking of the traditional tale, Rumpelstiltskin and the miller's daughter are wed...and then sixteen years later their only daughter is stuck in the same dilemma: She's been locked in a room full of straw to spin for a greedy king! She could call for help from her father, but this fairy-tale heroine has some canny plans of her own.

How Rumpelstiltskin's daughter sets things to rights in the troubled kingdom, while achieving a unique place for herself, makes for a wise and witty tale of kindness and cleverness rewarded. Diane Stanley's wickedly funny text and zesty illustrations put a delightful new spin on a classic fairy tale.

Rumpelstiltskin's daughter may not be able to spin straw into gold, but she is more than a match for a monarch whose greed has blighted an entire kingdom.

We learn that Rumpelstiltskin’s daughter’s name is Hope, which is such a fitting name for her because of what she does for the kingdom. She brings them hope in the form of golden coins so that they can make their own living. When Hope is kidnapped by the king and forced to turn straw into gold in her mother’s old tower, she decides to be smart instead. She knows the kingdom is poor and struggling, so she tricks the king into hiring the townspeople to “grow” or “knit” gold for him. The fields fill up with wheat and the townspeople end up bundled up in golden clothing. These people end up loving the king so much that he discovers that is better than gold. He tears down the protective wall around the castle and builds houses for the poor. All of a sudden, the kingdom is prospering. The king is so happy that he decides to make Hope his wife. She suggests the alternative of becoming Prime Minister instead, so that she can keep an eye on everyone. A feminist fairytale, indeed.

The illustrations are very fun, and sometimes even funny. I really enjoyed read this story, and love the unique spin that was placed on it. I’ve never been much of a fan of the traditional tale of Rumpelstiltskin, but I did find this fractured version to be fresh and fun, with teachable moments and good messages. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fresh spin on an old classic.

4 Stars

The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep | Children’s Book Review

Posted March 16, 2017 by Jana in Children's Book Review, Inner Child / 5 Comments

The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep | Children’s Book ReviewThe Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep
Published by HarperCollins on January 9, 1999
Genres: Classic Novel, Fairy Tale, Retelling
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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5 Stars

When a poor farmer falls into the clutches of a dragon, only Seven, his youngest daughter, will save him—by marrying the beast.

Publishers Weekly praised "Yep's elegant, carefully crafted storytelling" and Mak's "skillfully and radiantly rendered illustrations" in this captivating and luminous Chinese variation of the beauty and the beast tale.

The Dragon Prince by Laurence Yep is the Chinese version of Beauty and the Beast, and is so rich in culture. Inside the book the author includes his source notes, explaining that this tale is a Southern Chinese version of the classic. He also thanks Truly Shay for helping him translate several tales for him. Immediately, I felt confident that this book would be of very high quality because of the proof of research.

This tale is written in a way that sounds natural when read aloud, and the text is very traditional and stylistically magical. The story includes cultural elements that seem true to the area in which it takes place, including the fact that it’s about a rice farmer and his daughters, a serpent for a beast (that becomes a dragon), the term bride prince is used, and the palace is located in an underwater garden under the ocean’s surface. The story takes an interesting spin, and Seven’s (the Beauty equivalent) sister attempts to drown her and take her place. The prince can tell, though, and searches to find his lost Seven. They live happily ever after.

Elegant silk robes, jade cups, and gold plates are illustrated. The illustrations themselves are reminiscent of Chinese style, with bright colors, Chinese architecture and clothing, and a stylized dragon. The prince speaks of the traditional Chinese custom of brides visiting their families after their wedding.


Oh my goodness, I love this version of Beauty and the Beast so much. The Chinese culture, colors, and design influences make it not only entertaining, but a rich, educational, vibrant tale that anyone would love. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves China, Beauty and the Beast, beautiful illustrations, and learning about other cultures!

5 Stars

Beauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer | Children’s Book Review

Posted March 15, 2017 by Jana in Children's Book Review, Inner Child / 2 Comments

Beauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer | Children’s Book ReviewBeauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer
Published by Aladdin Paperbacks on September 1978
Genres: Classic Novel, Fairy Tale
Pages: 48
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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5 Stars

Generations of children have been fascinated by the story of the girl named Beauty, who grows to love a fearsome beast by learning to see and cherish his kindness, generosity, and intelligence. In this acclaimed, best-selling version of the classic tale, first published in 1978, Marianna Mayer's evocative imagery and Mercer Mayer's exquisite paintings transport readers into a world of pure magic and mystery.

I really, really loved this beautifully illustrated version of the classic Beauty and the Beast tale. I can’t believe it’s out of print because I would LOVE to own a copy for my personal library. Anyway, this book was actually the very first time I read what the traditional tale was like rather than the Disney version. I felt that it was nicely simplified into a storybook for young children, although it might be a bit too long for the tiny littles to focus on. The story starts off with the words, “There once was a…”, reflecting traditional oral storytelling style. There are repeated refrains in this story of the beast pleading Beauty to marry him, and her refusing. There are also repeated story elements of Beauty having various dreams. The words are traditional in nature, and are not like how people speak today, so even though it’s a picture book I think readers of all ages would be drawn to it for one reason or another.

What really set this book apart for me, though, were the illustrations. I can’t believe the same person who wrote and illustrated the Little Critter books also illustrated this one! Mercer Mayer is truly a chameleon. The illustrations are very detailed and ornate, and match the colorful vocabulary and magical tone of the writing. Here are a few of my favorites. It was hard to not share more!

All in all, I loved this version of the story! I found the text to be more enjoyable than the original French tale, and the illustrations made for a very enjoyable reading experience. I’d definitely recommend this to fans of Beauty and the Beast, both young and old. It’s a lovely edition that I’m sure any collector would love to own as well.

5 Stars

The Very Fluffy Kitty, Papillon by A.N. Kang | Children’s Book Review (Blog Tour + Giveaway)

Posted September 7, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Children's Book Review, Giveaway, Inner Child / 3 Comments


Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for The Very Fluffy Kitty, Papillon, hosted by The Irish Banana Review!

The Very Fluffy Kitty, Papillon by A.N. Kang
Illustrated by: A.N. Kang
Published by: Disney-Hyperion on September 6, 2016
Pages: 40
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the publisher
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Amazon | B&N


Papillon is a very fluffy kitty. So fluffy that he’s lighter than air! His owner tries to weigh him down, but Papillon just wants to fly.

One particularly sunny day, he floats right out the window! Exploring the wide world is exhilarating, but it’s also a little scary. Will his new friend, a bird, be able to help him find his way home?

Whimsical art and airy text come together seamlessly in this delightful debut by A. N. Kang.

You. Guys. This book is ADORABLE. I honestly just can’t even handle the cuteness that is fluffy (but not fat) little Papillon. After being weighed down (literally) by food and intricate costumes to keep him from floating away, Papillon decides he’s tired of it all (cats are like that). He doesn’t even like hats! So out the window he floats, and readers young and old will delight in seeing where he goes and how he makes his way home.

This is a very simple, adorable story with hints of humor that will have little ones giggling. It is a quick read, perfect for a bedtime story or for emerging readers looking to practice their reading skills. The words are easy to read, presented in easy-to-read fonts, and surrounded by an entire page of white space (for the most part). Opposing pages are filled with adorable images in soft, muted colors. Papillon is a very cute kitty. I love how big and fluffy and cuddly he looks (seriously, if they make a stuffed Papillon I will buy him. I’m not even kidding), and his facial expressions are perfection. Readers will also have fun spotting his bright red little bird friend, who makes an appearance on nearly every spread.

Bottom line, this book is a welcomed addition to my children’s book collection and is a new favorite go-to for a feel-good story that I will recommend over and over again. Any kitty-loving reader, no matter their age, will find a brand new friend in the fluffiest kitty ever: Papillon. Goodreads and Amazon both mention that this is book #1, so you better believe that I’ll be keeping tabs on Papillon and his next adventure. I’m hoping for many more books about him in the future!

About A.N. Kang

 A. N. Kang ( was born in a little town in South Korea, with endless rice fields around her house. She grew up entertaining herself with picturebooks, and drew constantly. After moving to the United States as a teenager, she graduated from art school and began to design jewelry, greeting cards, and holiday installations all over New York City. She now lives and works in New Jersey with her sassy cat, Papillon. This is Kang’s debut.

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Tour Schedule:
9/4: The Irish Banana Review
9/5: Addicted 2 Novels
9/6: Mundie Kids
9/7: That Artsy Reader Girl
9/8: Vi3tbabe
9/9: FangirlConfessions
9/10: Owl Always Be Reading

Pigs and a Blanket by James Burks | Children’s Book Review

Posted April 6, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Children's Book Review / 1 Comment

Welcome to by stop along the Pigs and a Blanket blog tour, hosted by The Irish Banana Review!

Pigs and a Blanket by James Burks
Illustrated by: James Burks
Published by: Disney-Hyperion on April 5, 2016
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Source: From the publisher for the blog tour
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Pig siblings Henry and Henrietta love their green blanket. It is soft, it smells good, and it makes a great cape! As much as they each love playing with the blanket, they don’t love sharing it. Will ripping it in two solve all their problems?

Author/illustrator James Burks has created a funny, relatable, sweet story about two pigs who, despite their individual interests pulling them in different directions, really prefer to remain side by side.

Pigs and a Blanket is a very sweet, simple story about sharing, getting along, and loving your siblings. I loved the illustrations. The two pigs have some of the cutest facial expressions! The colors are also bright and vivid, with lots of details that are fun to point out with a child. The story is very short, so it makes a great bedtime read.

There are very few words on each page, so emergent readers will not be intimidated. There is some repetition of phrases, and the font is large, black, and easy to read. The illustrations essentially tell the story on their own, so children who are experiencing reading for the first time will be delighted when they discover that they can make up the story as they go. For this reason, Pigs and a Blanket is a wonderful book talk book.

I really loved the ending. This book subtly teaches a lesson on sharing without preaching to the child or shoving the message down their throats. It simply alludes to the fact that playtime is more fun if you’re playing together. I would definitely recommend this story.

Tour Schedule:
4/4: Vi3tbabe

Bug Zoo Illustrated by Andy Harkness | Children’s Book Review (Blog Tour)

Posted March 8, 2016 by Jana in Blog Tour, Children's Book Review, Inner Child / 0 Comments

Welcome to my stop along the blog tour for Bug Zoo, hosted by The Irish Banana Review!

bug zoo

Bug Zoo by Lisa Wheeler
Series: Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase
Illustrated by: Andy Harkness
Published by: Disney-Hyperion on February 16, 2016
Pages: 40
Source: From the publisher for the blog tour
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Ben loves bugs: armored, teeny, leggy, greenie, floaty, wingy, jumpy, springy bugs! After a trip to the city zoo, Ben collects all of the bugs he can find and sets up a bug zoo. He couldn’t be happier–but what about his bugs?

As soon as I received this book, I noticed that it is part of a series called Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase. Being an artist myself, I was curious about what this series is all about and did a little research. Here is what I found, from an article on Publishers Weekly:

The Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios have teamed up with Disney Worldwide Publishing to launch a series of children’s books created by animation artists and storytellers at each studio. The Animation Studios Artist Showcase program gives employees the opportunity to bring their artistic talents to the page in picture books featuring original art and characters.

I thought this was really cool, and knowing the whys of the series really changed my reading experience. According to Amazon, Lisa Wheeler wrote this story and Andy Harkness, who has worked on many of my favorite Disney movies (Mulan, Tangled, and Frozen to name a few), dreamed it up and designed the illustrations using sculpture. You can tell that the focus is meant to be on the magical illustrations and not the story, as the story is very simple. Ben’s love of bugs drives him to create a bug zoo, but nobody comes. He slowly begins to realize that the bugs are not happy, and that maybe keeping them in jars is not the best idea. While the story is simple, the illustrations are quite the opposite.

Andy’s style is striking and vivid, and the colors are amazing. The extreme detail and the three-dimensionality makes each page feel like an extension of your own world. I felt myself wanting to reach out and touch the tree bark or the grass. These same details also tell the story on their own, which is wonderful for emergent readers because they can “read” without assistance. I can just imagine a little child ooing and ahhing over the illustrations and making up their own story to go along with them. Personally, I really hate bugs, but these ones don’t make me squeamish. You don’t have to love bugs to love the illustrations, but if you have a child in your life who does love bugs this book is a treat. The words in the story are simple and easy to sound out, and the font choice does not hinder from the readability of those words. The moral of the story is simple, and reminds us all that nature is truly magical and needs to be left alone sometimes. Picture books for boys can be harder to come by, and this is definitely one that can be added to the pile. Girls will appreciate and enjoy it as well, though, and parents will be pleased with a bedtime story that is not overly wordy. It’s a win for all, but especially for the little bug lover in your life.

Read more about Andy’s creative process and inspiration for Bug Zoo on Disney Insider.
Follow him on Instagram to see more of his artwork, including some of the illustrations from Bug Zoo.

Visit the rest of the tour stops for more reviews!

3/7: Reads All the Books
3/8: That Artsy Reader Girl
3/9: Gun In Act One
3/10: Such A Novel Idea
3/11: Reading Is Better With Cupcakes

Tales from Christmas Wood by Suzy Senior | Children’s Book Review

Posted December 2, 2015 by Jana in Children's Book Review, Inner Child / 1 Comment

Tales from Christmas Wood by Suzy Senior
Illustrated by:
James Newman Gray
Published by: Lion Hudson PLC on September 18, 2015
Pages: 32
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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Christmas wood is full of animals: Badger, Fidgety Fox, Owl (not Wise Old Owl, just Owl), the Rabbit family, Tiny Mouse, and Robin. It’s nearly Christmas and all the animals are getting ready to celebrate – Badger is looking for new friends, Tiny is making (or is that eating…) gingerbread, and Rosie Rabbit just can’t get ANY peace and quiet! Five festive stories from the animals in the wood all come together in a fantastically Christmassy finale in a barn with some rather special guests…

This book is a cute anthology of five very short stories about different animals who live in Christmas Wood. Each animal is looking for something, and each story has a lesson. Badger is bigger than all the other animals, and is having a hard time making friends. She asks the owl for advice, and while he feels ill-equipped to help her, she leaves very happy. The second story is about a mouse who made gingerbread for his friends, but somehow lost all of it in his tummy. He felt bad, but grandma always makes things better. The third story is about a rabbit named Rosie whose brothers are making it very hard for her to concentrate on making Christmas cards. She throws a tantrum and storms out into the snow, concerning her brothers and making them realize how much they love having her around. Then we have Robin, who loves playing make believe. He wants to be a hero more than anything, and Rosie the Rabbit gives him that opportunity. Robin realizes he does not have to he a super hero to be special. All the animals come together in the end for a festive Christmas Eve adventure. They each learn the true meaning of Christmas at a very festive Christmas party, with gifts, friends, and singing.

My favorite thing about this book are the illustrations. They are adorable and so warm and cheerful. The animals have such sweet faces, and the illustrator is able to paint light in a way that reminds me of Thomas Kincaid (although simpler). I only wish the type had been given as much attention. A very generic font was used for the story itself, and the thin black letters get lost in the illustrations. I would have loved to see a more whimsical font and more thought put into the placement and size of the words. I also think there were too many words on a page. Perhaps this will be fixed before printing, though.

All in all, I really enjoyed this sweet Christmas book. The stories all feel very short and disjointed on their own, so they should be read back to back in one story time experience. I would not recommend reading one a night unless your child is old enough to remember each one and tie them together in the end. I think it’s a great addition to any family’s Christmas book collection, and I know I’d love to snuggle in bed with my littles someday and read this cozy tale.

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Canada and Queensland | Children’s Book Reviews and Giveaway

Posted November 30, 2015 by Jana in Blog Tour, Children's Book Review, Giveaway, Inner Child / 2 Comments

Welcome to my stop along the The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse blog tour, hosted by iRead Book Tours. These books are very cute (and educational!), and I’m excited to share my reviews of them with you today!

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Canada by Gwyneth Jane Page
Illustrated by Megan Elizabeth
Series: The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse #1
Published by First Choice Books
Pages: 42
Source: From the author
Amazon • • Barnes & Noble

PJ Mouse, an adorable little stuffed animal, was lost and alone until young Emily heard his cries for help. Now, along with his new family, PJ gets to travel the world-discovering exciting new places and people along the way!

Come join PJ on his first adventure across Canada as he hikes on a glacier in the Rockies, finds a salt lake in the prairies, and walks on the ocean floor in Nova Scotia.

I love books about travel, but I particularly love children’s travel books because they open young minds to other countries and cultures. While Canada is not at all far away from those of us in the USA, this book transports you there and takes you on an exciting adventure. PJ is a very cute mouse, who comes to life with the sweet, childlike illustrations, filled with color. The book is laid out in easy-to-manage chapters, so struggling readers do not have to worry about taking on too much at one time.

PJ has a very sweet voice, and I loved reading his thoughts and dialogue. He says some funny things. I love the magical moment when he is found by Emily, wet and soggy under a park bench. She heard his cries for help when no grown-ups could, and she can talk to him when nobody else can. This book is filled with complex vocabulary words, which will create wonderful learning experiences for children, especially if their parent is reading with them and can further explain the concepts behind these words. Emily gets to explain to PJ what the word “conceited” means, and she explained it in a way that children will understand and absorb. He also learns what a fifth-wheel is, as well as a glacier. The two have wonderful experiences together, and their excitement is infectious. Readers will learn how long and tall the Rocky Mountains are, that snow lasts in very high elevations even during the summertime, what a crevasse is, what it’s like swimming in salt water, waterfalls and erosion, some French words, a little history, that it’s ok to be short, and more. PJ gets into some sticky situations, but always come out learning from them.

All in all, I really enjoyed this cute, educational story and think it would be a wonderful way to teach youngsters a little something, while having fun at the same time!

The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse in Queensland by Gwyneth Jane Page
Illustrated by Megan Elizabeth
Series: The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse #2
Published by First Choice Books
Pages: 42
Source: From the author
Amazon • • Barnes & Noble

Come join PJ on this, his second adventure, along the coast of Queensland, as he snorkels at the Great Barrier Reef, chats with a Loggerhead turtle in the midst of a great undertaking, and explores the tropical rainforest – until he ha to be rescued by one of the local friendly wildlife.

This was another cute installment of The Travel Adventures of PJ Mouse! Pretty much everything I said about the first book applies to this one as well. The illustrations are very cute and colorful, the book is organized into small chapters, PJ is a funny little guy (although he rambles a bit too much at times), and the story not only entertains, but teaches readers about a new place. This time, we visited Queensland, Australia. Lucky PJ! I’ve always wanted to visit Australia. Readers pack their suitcases (much bigger than PJ’s, of course) and board the plane with PJ and Emily.

During his second adventure, PJ learns what a kangaroo is (he thinks it’s an Australian mouse!), that just because you go to the opposite side of the world does not mean you have to walk on your hands, why you can’t breathe underwater, some more vocabulary words, how trees can grow to be REALLY old, and more! He gets to ride the rides at Dreamworld, go boogie-boarding at the beach, go snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef (and talk to the fish–this chapter was my favorite. Very magical! I love the descriptions of the sea life underwater), get some help from a sea turtle and a lorikeet, explore the rainforest, watch loggerhead turtles lay eggs on the beach, and go four wheeling.

I really enjoyed this adventure with little PJ, and think readers young and old will as well!

Make sure you enter this tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win the first book (Canada), your very own stuffed PJ, and a passport sticker book!

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Winnie by Sally M. Walker | Children’s Book Review

Posted January 28, 2015 by Jana in Children's Book Review / 1 Comment

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M. Walker
Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
Published by: Henry Holt and Co.
Pages: 40
Source: From the publisher
Buy the BookAdd to Goodreads

Who could care for a bear? When Harry Colebourn saw a baby bear for sale at the train station, he knew he could care for it. Harry was a veterinarian. But he was also a soldier in training for World War I. Harry named the bear Winnie, short for Winnipeg, his company’s home town, and he brought her along to the training camp in England. Winnie followed Harry everywhere and slept under his cot every night. Before long, she became the regiment’s much-loved mascot. But who could care for the bear when Harry had to go to the battleground in France? Harry found just the right place for Winnie while he was away—the London Zoo. There a little boy named Christopher Robin came along and played with Winnie—he could care for this bear too!

Sally Walker’s heartwarming story, paired with Jonathan Voss’s evocative illustrations, brings to life the story of the real bear who inspired Winnie the Pooh.

This book warmed my heart. I absolutely loved Winnie the Pooh as a child. To be honest, I still do. I had heard Winnie the Pooh was inspired by true events, but I had never heard the story. And honestly, it’s one of the sweetest stories I’ve read in a long time.

The story takes place during WWI times, and just enough information is provided to the reader to understand what’s going on without scaring them. The focus is entirely on Harry and his bear. Harry met little Winnie at the train station, where she climbed into his lap and licked his chin. He bought her for $20. From the beginning, her relationship with Harry was so sweet. Readers learn what Winnie and Harry did together, how Winnie played, what she ate, where she lived, and where she slept. She nuzzled the muzzles of horses, and then needed cuddle time if they scared her. How cute is that? It is no question at all that little Winnie was a unique and special bear. She was brought to the London zoo when Harry and the other soldiers could no longer care for her (they went to war), and little children played with her there (one of them was named Christopher Robin). They even rode on her back! She was so happy. And the story has a happy ending with a bit of a twist that will make you smile. :)

The illustrations are simply beautiful. The tenderness between Harry and Winnie is so perfectly illustrated with soft watercolor tones. As a bonus, black and white photos of the real Harry and the real Winnie are included as well, and they are such a wonderful addition to the story. We get to see Winnie sitting in Harry’s lap for the regiment’s group picture and we get to see her do tricks for apples. There’s an author’s note at the end of the book, which provides more information about Harry’s and Winnie’s lives. Sources are also cited.

I love this story. It’s perfect for lovers of animals, Winnie the Pooh, history, and magical stories. People today would never buy a baby bear, much less take it on a transatlantic voyage to England. This gives the story a sense of fantasy, but children will be delighted to hear it’s true! Definitely pick up a copy of Winnie. It’s one of the best children’s books I’ve read in a while.