Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Book Review: Ice Magic

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share children’s product and book reviews.

Today’s post is a book review, however it is not a book that I read to my son. It’s one that I came across in a huge bag of old middle grade books. One that I would have loved to have read as a little girl. And what better time for a book about figuring skating than in the month that the world is competing at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China!

Ice Magic
(Silver Blades, 16)
By: Melissa Lowell

Book Cover

Published: April 1996
Published by: Skylark
Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Middle Grade, Series

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

Dreaming of becoming a famous skater, Martina Nemo is delighted when she lands a skating role in a television movie but is devastated when she discovers that someone is out to sabotage her performance.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Ice Magic is the 16th installment of the Silver Blades series, about a group of young figure skaters. In this book readers follow Martina, who is cast as the skating double for a made-for-tv movie about a famous ice skater.

I came across this book when I purchased a big bag of middle grade books. It was the first time I had heard of this series, which is a shame because I know I would have loved it, if I read it as a pre-teen.

Thankfully reading it now as an adult was still enjoyable. Melissa Lowell presents an accurate depiction of the dedication and talent required for a young skater to become successful athletes in this sport. Ice Magic was also a fun behind the scene look at the entertainment business.

Released in 1996, this book does make reference to some points that would be considered outdated by todays standards i.e; fashions and technology. However it is diverse in that it features a Latina main character, with a sister who has Down Syndrome. Readers today will be able to relate to the themes of friendships, jealousy and big dreams.

Ice Magic is still relevant for current day readers and I would recommend it to fans of middle grade fiction centered around competitive sports. Hopefully I will come across more books in the Silver Blades series, as I would be interested in reading on.

Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Waiting for Snow by Marsha Diane Arnold

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share children’s product and book reviews.

Waiting for Snow
By: Marsha Diane Arnold
Illustrated by: Renata Liwska

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Published: November 2016
Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers
Format Read: eBook, Library book, Libby App.
Genre: Children’s fiction, Picture Book

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis

Badger cannot wait one more minute for it to snow. When his friend Hedgehog explains that everything comes in its time, Badger is as unconvinced and impatient as ever. But Badger’s friends have a few tricks up their sleeve to try to get the snow’s attention and distract their pal in the meantime. In the end, Badger sees there’s no trick—only waiting—until at last, it’s time. 

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Badger can’t wait for snow so he and his animal friends try to think of ways they can bring on the weather. In this cute picture books, children are taught the importance of patients. Waiting for Snow by Marsha Diane Arnold and illustrated by Renata Liwska is the perfect read for those little ones who can’t wait to get out and build a snowman or go for a sled ride.

Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Berenstain Bears on Audio

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share children’s product and book reviews.

Charlie and I have enjoyed reading books from The Berenstain Bears series for a couple of years now. However discovering that there were books about one of our favourite bear families in audio format gave us access to titles we had not heard of before. At approximately 7 minutes in length, we borrowed these audiobooks from our library using the Libby App. Charlie loved being able to hear the different voices and actually retained the stories as he played with his toys while listening to book after book. After listening to the entire catalogue of audio books in this series, he was eager to start again. This Mommy sure hopes more will be added soon. As an adult it was nice to take a trip down memory lane with the same characters from my own childhood, but with all new stories. As an adult, I found some of the voices, which were narrated by Lance Rubin to be over the top, but they only served to make my son laugh and enjoy it even more. I think that children would also enjoy the audio books in this series even more, if they are able to follow along with a physical book to assist them.

Here are some of the The Berenstain Bears audio books we enjoyed the most:

Book Cover
Rating: 4/5

In The Berenstain Bears and the Wishing Star, Mama teaches the Cubs that the first star in the night sky is the wishing star. Sister makes a wish, but does it come true? This story teaches children that they can’t always get what they wish for.

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Rating: 4/5

In the Berenstain Bears and the Shaggy Little Pony, Brother Bear and Sister Bear help take care of an old shaggy pony named Oscar. They even get to ride him in a show.

Book Cover
Rating: 5/5

In the Berenstain Bears Out West, the Bear family take a plane to go visit their Uncle Tex on his ranch. The rhyming humour made this story one of our favourite Berenstain Bears audio books.

We also enjoyed:

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Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Catla and the Vikings by: Mary Elizabeth Nelson

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share children’s product and book reviews.

Catla and the Vikings
By: Mary Elizabeth Nelson

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Published: March 2012
Published by: Orca Book Publishers
Format Read: eBook, Libby App
Genre: Historical Fiction, Middle Grade

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

In the fall of 1066, a thirteen-year-old Anglo-Saxon girl named Catla watches from afar as Viking raiders burn her village and imprison her family and the other villagers. No one sees her as she flees toward Aigber, the closest village, praying the people there will help.

Catla must ignore her terror as she makes her way to the standing stones, a place of refuge, where she meets Sven, an older boy from her village. Together, they continue toward Aigber and are able to alert the village of the coming peril. Catla and Sven rally the villagers of Aigber, and with Catla’s help, a plan is put in place that will save both villages from the Nord-devils.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Catla and the Vikings introduces young readers to a brave girl as she attempts to save her Saxon village from a Viking invasion. Mary Elizabeth Nelson presents an exciting adventure about a time in history I had not yet explored. While I appreciated how women were portrayed as warriors amoung men, I was disappointed by how abruptly the book ended. Another aspect of this book that I found to be well done, was in the way such a violent event as an invasion, was presented, so that it was appropriate for its younger audience.

Although it didn’t conclude to my satisfaction, I would still recommend Catla and the Vikings to fans of middle grade historical fiction.

Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: The Missing Potty

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share children’s product and book reviews.

Forgive me if this topic is TMI for anyone reading this post, but today we are going to talk about that time in every toddlers life where its time to crack down on potty training. That time is upon us in my household and I am hoping that some fun picture books about the topic will help to encourage Charlie in this endeavor. Today I’d like to share Anita Bijsterbosch’s The Missing Potty.

The Missing Potty
By: Anita Bijsterbosch

The Missing Potty
Source: Barnes & Nobel

To be Published: May 2021
Published by: Clavis
Format Read: ARC, eBook, Kindle
Genre: Children’s Books, Picture Books

NOTE: I was sent a copy of The Missing Potty by Anita Bijsterbosch, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

A happy book to help toddlers with potty training, with surprising flaps! For toddlers ages 30 months and up.
Bunny loves her potty. She likes to sit on it all the time. But one day, Bunny can’t find it. And Bunny really needs to go potty! What will she do now? She can’t hold it anymore! Will using the real potty be as scary as it looks?

Source: Barnes & Nobel

My Thoughts

While perusing NetGalley one day I came across Anita Bijesterbosch’s The Missing Potty and it couldn’t have caught my eye at a better time. As the mother of a very stubborn toddler, I am looking for any way to encourage my little boy to ditch the diapers. The fact that this picture book follows his favourite animal; a bunny, made me jump at the chance to share this with him.

As Bunny goes around searching for her potty at the houses of her friends, she asks “Are you using the potty?” and readers are asked to open a flap to see who is there. Although this is a cute idea to show children that they aren’t the only one who has to go, I think that this might give them the idea that they can barge in on anyone using the facilities. However I liked that Bunny’s friends encourage her to use the toilet instead because as they say in the story “You can never lose a real potty.”

Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: Hit and Run by Norah McClintock

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share children’s product and book reviews.

Hit and Run
(Mike and Riel, 1)
By: Norah McClintock

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Published: May 2003
Published by: Scholastic Canada
Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction, Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Canadian Fiction

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

Fifteen-year-old Mike McGill has lived with his Uncle Billy since his mother’s death. Only ten years older than Mike, Billy loves to party, and he doesn’t pay much attention when Mike starts getting in trouble. But nothing gets by Mike’s history teacher, an ex-cop named Riel especially not long-hidden information about Mike’s mother. Her death might not have been an accident after all! 

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

Recently I came across a listing online for a large bag of books for sale. It included over 50 middle grade- early young adult books. Most of which were from the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Norah McClintock’s Hit and Run was the first book I pulled from that bag.

This first installment in the Mike and Riel series follows a young teenage boy as he navigates life in the years following his mother’s tragic death. This story instantly felt familiar but, I can’t recall if I’ve read it before or not.

I enjoyed the Toronto setting and the pop culture references from thee time period. As a winner of the Red Maple Award, Hit and Run felt very Canadian. Even the character names i.e,: Riel, McGill etc. were symbolic.

This series is a great introduction to thrillers for the middle grade audience. I would highly recommend it to fans of the genre and I hope to be able to track down book two.

Charlie's Corner · Memes · TBR

Charlie’s Corner: Waiting on Wednesday: All You Knead Is Love

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share children’s product and book reviews.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine, that shines a spotlight on the books we can’t wait to be released in the near future.

Today I would like to share a middle grade fiction that has caught my eye. Tanya Guerrero’s All You Knead is Love has a 2021 release date.

All You Knead is Love by Tanya Guerrero

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Twelve-year-old Alba doesn’t want to live with her estranged grandmother in Barcelona.
But her mother needs her to be far, far away from their home in New York City. Because this is the year that her mother is going to leave Alba’s abusive father. Hopefully. If she’s strong enough to finally, finally do it.
Alba is surprised to find that she loves Barcelona, forming a close relationship with her grandmother, meeting a supportive father figure, and making new friends. Most of all, she discovers a passion and talent for bread baking. When her beloved bakery is threatened with closure, Alba is determined to find a way to save it—and at the same time, she may just come up with a plan to make their family whole again.From the author of How to Make Friends with the Sea comes a heartfelt story of finding one’s chosen family, healing, and baking.

Source: Goodreads
Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Recommendations

Charlie’s Corner: A Scandal in Bohemia (The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection 11)

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share baby/children’s product and book reviews.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of A Scandal in Bohemia by Stephanie Baudet, from the publisher via Net Galley, in exchange for an honest review.

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A Scandal in Bohemia
(The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection, 11)

By: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Adapted by: Stephanie Baudet
Illustrated by: Adrianna Bellucci

Published: March 2020
Published by: Sweet Cherry Publishing
Format Read: eBook, ARC, Net Galley
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adaptation, Middle Grade, Young Adult, Mystery, Series

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis

About Sweet Cherry Easy Classics: From Shakespeare to Austen, Sweet Cherry Easy Classics adapts classic literature into stories for children, introducing these timeless tales to a new generation. All titles in the series are leveled for classroom use, including GRLs. The books target early readers ages 6-8, including early school-age children looking for exciting stories, as well as reluctant readers. Popular books in the series include Pride and Prejudice, A Christmas Carol and Othello.

At quarter to eight o’clock tonight a gentleman will call. He would like to ask you about a very important matter. Do not think it odd if your visitor wears a mask.

When Sherlock Holmes is asked for help by a powerful yet dim king, it seems that he cannot refuse. But the detective has no idea that this case will bring him up against a woman just as clever, cunning and quick as he is. Has Holmes finally met his match?

My Thoughts

A Scandal in Bohemia is a mystery where our favourite fictional detective may have met his match. This is the second book I have read and reviewed in this collection. I found this installment had less of the pictures and historical definitions geared toward the target audience than the first book did. However I did feel that the premise of a Scandal in Bohemia was more simple than that of a Study in Scarlet. Still I feel that the reveal was quite clever. I recommend the Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection to younger readers who are interested in a lighter introduction to classic literature. I look forward to going back to the previous 10 books in the series that I have yet to read.

Additional Notes:

  1. A Study in Scarlet (Book 1)
Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Read-a-thons · Recommendations

Charlie's Corner: Book Reviews: A to Z Mysteries

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share baby/children’s product and book reviews.

A to Z Mysteries
Books C, D & E
By: Ron Roy
Illustrated by: John Steven Gurney

Published: March 1998
Published by: Turtleback Books
Format Read: Paperback
Genre: Middle-grade fiction, series, mystery, children’s books, chapter books

The Canary Caper (Book 3)

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C is for Canary…Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose get an urgent call from Mrs.
Davis. Her canary is missing! The little bird has vanished without a trace, and
he’s not the only one. Two other pets are missing. The kids suspect a
pet-napper, and now that Ruth Rose’s cat, Tiger, has turned up missing too,
it’s become personal!

The Deadly Dungeon (Book 4)

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Dink’s favorite mystery writer, Wallis Wallace, has invited Dink, Josh, and
Ruth Rose for a sleepover – in a haunted castle! But as soon as the young
detectives arrive, they start hearing screams behind the walls. Will they
discover who – or what – is haunting Moose Manor?

The Empty Envelope (Book 5)

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E is for Envelope…Dink keeps getting envelopes in the mail addressed to “D. Duncan.” But the letters inside all start with “Dear Doris” and don’t make any sense! Josh and Ruth Rose think someone’s playing a trick on Dink. But Dink is sure there’s more to it than that, especially after Doris herself shows up and demands her letters!

My Thoughts

One day while helping my mom sort through some boxes, I came across a pile of books that belonged to my brother and I, when we were kids. Among these old treasures included three books from the A to Z mystery series. They made a good addition to my Middle Grade March TBR.

The A to Z Mysteries are a great way to introduce kids to short chapter books, as well as the mystery genre. Each installment begins with a map and includes pictures too. Readers follow three friends as they solve simple cases they uncover, in their community and on their journeys.

I would recommend the A to Z Mystery series by Ron Roy to children in grades 2-4.


Book Reviews · Charlie's Corner · Read-a-thons · Recommendations

Charlie's Corner: Book Review: A Study in Scarlet (The Sherlock Holmes Children's Collection 1)

Welcome to Charlie’s Corner, named after my little boy. Here I will share baby/children’s product and book reviews.
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A Study in Scarlet
(The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection 1)
By: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Adapted by: Stephanie Baudet
Illustrated by: Arianna Bellucci

Published: November 2019
Published by: Sweet Cherry Publishing
Format Read: eBook, ARC, Kindle
Genre: Middle Grade, Adapted Classics, Mystery

Rating: 3/5

NOTE: I was sent a copy of A Study in Scarlet, adapted by Stephanie Baudet, from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis

Body thought to be that of E.J. Drebber discovered last night in empty London house. No obvious cause of death. Address given as Cleveland Ohio. Any information would be appreciated.

After a mysterious murder leaves the police baffled, the world’s best amateur detective is asked to investigate. Along with his fellow lodger, Dr Watson, Sherlock Holmes sets about uncovering a quest for revenge that runs far deeper than anybody suspected.

About The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection

Elementary-age reading, my dear Watson! This fun series adapts the classic mysteries of Holmes & Watson for young readers, and makes the perfect introduction to whodunit fun for ages 7 and up. All titles are also leveled for classroom use, including GRLs.

Source: Goodreads

My Thoughts

It has been quite a while since I read any of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, so this was a great refresher. I was excited to see that these stories are being adapted for a younger audience. My hope is that it will encourage young readers to appreciate classic literature.

Although it follows the basic plot of the original A Study in Scarlet, this book has simplified sentences and side notes that describe terms used that might not be familiar to kids today. An example of these side notes include the description of words like; hansome cab. Illustrations are also included.

Sherlock Holmes himself, has even been adapted for the younger audience. He is portrayed as more chipper and whimsical than the well-known character Arthur Conan Doyle created.

This version of A Study in Scarlet is being promoted as Middle Grade, however the story does center around a murder. Therefore I would recommend it to slightly older ages or even those who fall under the ages of young adult. I look forward to reading more of the Sherlock Holmes adaptations in the future.