Note about my Reviews

Dear Authors: The reviews in this blog are only personal opinions. I have absolutely no background in literature, writing or reviewing. I am a Librarian (actually a Library Technician for those who care OR know the difference) with a love for a good story. The opinions in the reviews are ONLY my OPINIONS. I am not commenting on the writers ability since well -- I am not a writer and never will be. If you are the author of any of the books reviewed here, my opinion is just that and not a judgment against you!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mommy and Me Monday (Early this week due to other circumstances) - Silver Birch Edition

A Bear in War
Stephanie Innes and Harry Endrulat
Illustrated by Brian Deines
Publisher:Key Porter Books Ltd
ISBN : 9781554700974
40 Pages
Ages 4-8 (+Teachers and crybaby moms)

Publisher Description:  In 1916, at the height of the First World War, a Canadian teddy bear travelled all the way to France in a care package destined for Lawrence Browning Rogers--a gift from his ten-year-old daughter, Aileen. When Teddy returned from the front lines, more than a year later, he did so alone: Lieutenant Rogers, along with many other Canadian soldiers, died at the battle of Passchendaele. Today, Teddy resides in a glass display case at the Canadian War Museum--one of the most beloved exhibits in the building. Small and brown and nothing at all like a modern stuffed bear, Teddy has an amazing story to tell. In 2002 Lawrence''s granddaughter, Roberta Rogers Innes, found Teddy, the letters and other war memorabilia inside a large family briefcase. As she delved deeper, Roberta discovered how a Canadian family''s strength was tested during the First World War and how a tiny bear became an enduring memento of their love. Now, in A Bear in War , Stephanie Innes (Roberta''s daughter) and Harry Endrulat share Teddy''s remarkable story--from his life in East Farnham, Quebec, and his voyage overseas to his eventual journey home. Each chapter in Teddy''s tale is brought to life through Brian Deines'' poignant art. The result is a powerful, moving piece of literature--a picture book destined to become a Canadian classic.

Jake, Jeff and I all very much disagree on this book.

Jake's Review: I don't like this book. It is about war which is bad. The story is sad and I don't want to read it again. (Mom's note -- I saw him with a few tears in his eyes while reading it).
Rating: 1/10

Mom's Review: What a beautiful and poignant story and I totally cried while reading it.  The story is told from the eyes of a Teddy bear on the day he is given to a little Quebec girl with polio during WWI .  It is based on the true story of a Canadian soldier who was sent his daughters teddy bear to keep him company in the trenches and when he died it was returned to his daughter (Hmm, you're understanding why I cried). Through Teddy and Aileen's eyes you learn about family life, polio and war in a touching and sensitive manner.  It was a great story for starting a dialogue about war with Jake. Jeff and I discussed it with Jake and I explained to him about how his great grandfather Porter fought in the war and some of his experiences.  This may be a hard read for sensitive children (and crybaby mommies) so I advise you to read it with your children so that you can talk about it.  The illustrations are lovely to look at and really bring the story to life.  I highly recommend this for Teachers, as it is a sensitively done introduction to WW1 and how it affected family life in Canada. 
Rating: 9/10

Jeff's Comments: Why do they make kids read this sad crap.  Life is hard enough as it is and they should be reading fun escapism stuff instead (This started a lively discussion between us -- Don't even get me started about our differences on the holocaust movies we watched in high school)

The Insecto-Files
Helaine Becker
Maple Tree Press
64 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-897349-46-5
Ages: 8-12

Publisher Description: Most experts believe there are over 10 quintillion (10,000,000,000,000,000,000) individual insects digging, boring, flying, crawling, and excreting their way in and around the Earth. That’s about a billion billion bugs for every single person. And that’s not even counting their close relatives, the arachnids, which include spiders, lice, ticks, scorpions, and mites. So, if we humans really are that outnumbered, wouldn’t it be a good idea to learn a little more about our insect overlords? Helaine Becker’s latest activities guide does just that. Following the same format as her critically acclaimed Science on the Loose, which demystified science through fun and silly experiments, The Insecto-Files investigates the hidden lives of insects. It blends little-known facts about bugs with a wealth of easy-to-do activities that are as entertaining as they are educational. Packed with Becker’s trademark blend of energy, irreverence, and information, The Insecto-Files offers budding entomologists a gleeful guerrilla approach to learning about the wonderful world of bugs.

 Jake's Review: This book is totally wicked!! I think its cool to learn about what is inside and outside the books. The pictures are really funny, especially the one with the T-Rex holding a fly swatter and swatting at the dragon fly.  Also liked the picture and the facts about the "periodical cicadas". They can get a certain fanny-loving fungus that causes their bums to fall off (said with the typical grin of an 8 yr old boy when he says bum). I liked that they had experiments that we can do at home. Jake: Mom, can we do some of the experiments.  Mom: Jake its 9:00pm and the book is due back to the library tomorrow. Jake: So can we do one of the experiments? Mom: Jake go to bed!
Rating: 9/10

Mom's Review: I liked this book, just for the simple fact that my kid WANTED to read it.  That's pretty much enough for me to give it a good review.  However, that won't help you guys decide whether you want to read it or not so here is a bit more.  This book is a perfect introduction to insects for boys (and for the less squeamish of us girls).  The illustrations are funny and the facts are stated in simple and fun terminology (Fanny-loving fungus -- I love it!!!) The collection of original experiments and activities encourages kids in an entertaining way to think, do and learn, and the little buggers don't even know it. For fellow parents concerns -- each experiment can be safely performed at home using everyday equipment and ingredients with minimum fuss. If we had more time with the book, I definitely would have done some of the experiments. 
Rating: 9/10

The above books are from the Albion Bolton Public Library and nobody paid us nothing for either of us to review them. In fact it is Jake's homework!


  1. Thanks for the Review! Do you mind if I repost it on my own blog? - Helaine, author of Insectofiles.

  2. I love this feature. I like seeing how kids feel about the books. The insect one sounds like one my daughter would love.

  3. You have an award waiting for you here.