Poor Penelope Rex. It's hard enough starting at a new school, but then to be told all of your classmates are children and that it's socially unacceptable to eat them? Well, those slobbered up kids aren't excited about their new dinosaur classmate, either. Ultimately, Penelope learns a very important lesson about making friends from the class goldfish, Walter: it isn't fun to be seen as someone else's snack.
In Sleeping Queens, all of the world's queens have fallen under a spell forcing them to stay asleep. You will have to send your kings out to help the queens awaken, but be careful other players have knights and potions to steal your queens or to put them back to sleep. You will have to be cunning to keep all your queens awake and safe.
One of my favorite things about Sleeping Queens (2015) is that an 8-year-old created it, and the fun way it plays shows that incredible passion a child has for games and silly happenstance. This is a favorite game to play with my friends. We all enjoy how quickly the game plays, and with simple rules, there are still some great play strategies. The game is played with a single deck of cards and is quick to learn with no reading involved past the directions. Some shape matching skills are needed to play; suitable for ages 6 and up.
Explore the colorful and magical world of Mary Blair in this junior biography told with beautiful pictures. While we can now find Blair listed among top Disney artists, animators, and designers, we get to see how her childhood love of colors and sketching led to that future working with Walt Disney himself. It is not an easy journey, trying to compete with men as well as color cynics (perhaps somewhat surprising for the world of Disney we know today). Ultimately, though, Blair receives an invitation to help create arguably the most recognizable and nostalgic theme park ride of all time—and my personal favorite—It's a Small World, truly epitomizing Blair's talent and vibrant imagination.
Check out Pocket Full of Colors: The Magical World of Mary Blair, Disney Artist Extraordinaire (2017) by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville. For more information, visit Oh My Disney for The World Behind "It's a Small World" and The Life and Work of Mary Blair.
Disney+ has finally arrived! Based on cast alone, my first viewing selection was Noelle (2019, G) which was originally intended for theatrical release, but was later reserved for the launch of Disney+. It stars Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader as Kris Kringle's kids, Noelle and Nick. Also in the cast are long-time actors Shirley MacLaine and Julie Hagerty, with comedians, Billy Eichner and Ron Funches.
Nick has trained his whole life to take over for his father as Santa, but as the pressure builds, he takes a vacation on his sister's recommendation. Unfortunately, Nick took that to mean a one-way trip to the southwest. Noelle has to venture out from the North Pole to find him, all while learning that Christmas is more meaningful when you focus on giving instead of getting.
Overall, this light-hearted film, albeit slightly predictable, will bring laughter and maybe even some tears to you and your family. Find other Christmas movies to watch with the family on our website.
View Noelle and everything else Disney you can imagine with a Roku featuring Disney+.
I read this book in one sitting with a three year old: I'd call that an accomplishment and give a lot of that credit to author Aaron Blabey. We follow Mr. Wolf and his associates, Mr. Snake, Mr. Piranha, and Mr. Shark, on a mission to turn around their longtime reputations as bad guys. They hit just a couple bumps along the way, but are determined to make amends.
Have you ever wanted to plunder all the treasures on the open sea? If you find that the letter "R" rolls off your tongue as "Arrr," then Loot is the game for you.
In Loot, take on the role of a pirate captain and guide your crew to merchant ships full of treasure, but watch out for your pirate friends who want some loot too and will fight you for every bit of it.
The objective of the card game is simple, collect the most gold by the end of the game. The gameplay is quick and takes about 20 minutes. The game is for ages 6 and up, some simple math skills and color matching are needed. If you want the thrill of the high seas matched with the fun of playing with friends, check out Loot.
If you are a devoted Disney fan like me, you may be reluctant about the company's recent foray into live-action remakes of their classic animated movies. In this 2019 live-action version of Aladdin (rated PG), I went in with low expectations, especially for Will Smith in the role of Genie, because Robin Williams' performance as the 1992 animated Genie was so outstanding. Smith ultimately does not try to mimic Williams' style and interpretation, but rather adds his own flair to the part. Genie even gets an expanded storyline in the live-action. I also appreciated that Jasmine was a more developed character, expressing a desire to break down the oppression of her society and voice her opinions as a leader.
Composer and songwriter Alan Menken returns to score the live-action film, enhancing his original music and adding additional songs not part of the 1992 version. So perhaps Disney can, in fact, be successful in livening up their animated classics after all!
Fellow parents and Star Wars fans, this is sure to please! Adam Rex writes this book in a conversational style, so I highly encourage reading in your best Darth Vader voice for an extra fun experience. Parents (and Star Wars buff kiddos) will appreciate nods to the movies and characters throughout.
All in all, Are You Scared, Darth Vader? (2019) is a hilarious book with a special twist ending. So, are you ready to find out if there is actually something frightening enough to scare Darth Vader?
Check out this book in print or digitally via Hoopla.
This delightful album focused on being kind will fill you up with happiness! Grownups might recognize covers of popular songs on a couple of tracks, but the majority are fresh new tunes for your family to enjoy together. My son and I have already listened to Under the Big Umbrella several times, and our favorite songs are "Under the Big Umbrella" and "Drop in the Bucket."
Check out this 2019 release from Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could.
In order to enjoy this series, the reader should be a fan of the Justice League stories. There are seven Super characters in the Justice League, and they work together to protect the Universe! Many books and movies feature the Justice League.
The You Choose Stories—Justice League series engages the reader by requiring them to make decisions. The reader will notice as they start reading the book that…there, on the lower right corner of the right side page…in red…are choices to make:
If Batman goes after Black Manta, turn to page 23.
If Batman stays to help save the island, turn to page 29.
Throughout the book, the reader will make choices to continue the story.
Although this sounds complicated – and it will be too complicated for some readers – for those children who enjoy the "game" with the story – this will be an enjoyable book. Choose from Cosmic Conquest, The League of Laughs, The Portal of Doom, and The Ultimate Weapon.
Each book has 105 pages, and there are several full-page color, cartoon-style illustrations throughout the book. At the end, there is a glossary with pronunciations and definitions. There are four titles in the series – so far. The Lexile is 640-710.
The cat, Peachy, and the dog, Keen, are best friends. The series, Peachy and Keen, feature the two friends in stories of their school adventures at Happy Trails School.
In the first book, A School Tail (2018), Peachy wants to work on the school newspaper but discovers there is no longer a print newspaper. Peachy has the idea to replace the newspaper with an online magazine. With Keen's help, Peachy finds four classmates to work on the PURRFECT9: Rue, the high fashion kitty, Connie the octopus, Nanner the monkey, and Gertie the unicorn. Of course, they need a faculty sponsor and recruit Rocco the llama, who is the janitor. Principal Trunx, an elephant, is not helpful to Peachy but in the end… the PURRFECT9 staff wins him over.
These books by Jason Tharp are full of puns. To enjoy the stories, a reader will need to understand (and enjoy) puns. Even the title – Peachy Keen – is a pun.
Each book is 96 pages. There are full color, cartoon-style illustrations on each page and these add to the story and are fun in themselves. There is a significant amount of text, which makes the books look harder than they are. The Lexile is 590-770.
In this story, we follow a free spirit who can't help but want to tame all of the beautiful colors she sees. We join her wild and wonderful world and hunt for colors along with her. Swatch soon encounters an ethical challenge and we see how our heroine resolves her dilemma.
As picture books go, I think Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color is a perfect example of the power of illustrations and how beautifully and creatively they help tell a lovely story. Additionally, the overall layout and design of the book is great and helps capture the energy of it all.
This is the first book both written and illustrated by Julia Denos. She also wrote and illustrated Windows.
I first read From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler in fifth grade, so when my son, now a fifth-grader himself, said he needed a Newbery Prize winner for his book report, I was quick to suggest it to him. The adventures of Claudia and her younger brother Jamie are what childhood dreams are made of. After running away from home, the siblings live on their own in a strange and wonderful new city. They uncover a mystery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that they're determined to solve. Their clever sleuthing leads them to discover much more than clues however — it leads them back home.
I enjoyed reading this classic children's book by E. L. Konigsburg just as much as an adult as I had as a child. The audiobook would be great to listen to on a family road trip as well. Check out this article from Smithsonian Magazine for a glimpse behind the story and its author.
Four friends – Amy, Ellie, Marion, Liz – have created a club to help "critters" such as pigs, puppies, mice, chickens, and cats. Amy's mother, a veterinarian, is instrumental in helping the girls with their adventures at the Animal Rescue Center in Santa Vista.
Each book features one of the four friends but all four girls are in each book. The Critter Club has problems to solve and they always find a good solution. In Amy on Park Patrol, the girls work to keep the town park for animals—not more stores. The girls help find a home for Plum the Pig in Ellie and the Good-Luck Pig. The girls start a pet sitting service – Critter Sitters – in Liz Learns a Lesson.
This is a great series for a reader who loves helping animals! Each book in the series of 18 books (so far!) is about 120 pages with black and white illustrations on most pages (book 1 is Amy and the Missing Puppy). Sparkles on some of the paperback covers add to the charm of the stories. The Lexile scores range from 460-630.