Book Review: Quest for the Great Diamond

Hidden Gems: Quest for the Great Diamond

By H. K. Boughazian

3 out of 5 stars

Gem’s parents are made of beautiful and colorful minerals, but Gem’s skin is plain gray rock. She is teased for her gray skin and leaves mineral school to go to the rock school where she tries to fit in. But when her rock friends find out that her parents are minerals, Gem loses her only friend. She sets out on a quest to find the Great Diamond, and ask him why she was born as a rock. She is joined by other misfits searching for answers, and they travel through exciting adventures across the country, until they discover the truth about rocks and minerals.

I loved the premise of this story! The world building is phenomenal, and so detailed with plants, people, and animals all made from different stone and crystals and minerals.

The characters are cute and I liked their friendships. The plot has good pacing and a simple storyline that is just right for a children’s book.

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Picture Book Review: Over in the Woodland

Over in the Woodland by Nicole  Abreu
Over in the Woodland: A Mythological Counting Journey
by Nicole Abreu (Author),Shar Abreu (Author), Susanna Covelli (Illustrations)

5 out of 5 stars

This picture book counts up mythical creatures in a magical fairyland as they dance and fly with their parents. Each family of fairies, griffins, centaurs, and trolls grows in size as we count from 1 to 10. The rhyming text is meant to be sung to the tune of “Over in the Meadow”.

Each mystical family is in their own element. The mermaids swim in cool water. The centaurs practice archery in a forest. The dragons fly through the clouds. The dwarves carve rock and stone. The mother or father teaches their children to work together and learn the magic ways of the woodland.

The illustrations are marvelous. The art is warm, rich, and vibrant. There are tiny details in the illustrations that make each scene come alive with magic: little dew drops on a leaf, the sparkle of a waterfall, the strands of hair or fur on the mythic creatures. Each little whisker is alive with energy and movement.
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Picture Book Review: I’m NOT a Mouse!

I'm Not a Mouse! by Evgenia Golubeva
I’m Not a Mouse!
by Evgenia Golubeva

5 out of 5 stars

Olivia hates it when her mother nicknames her “Mouse”. She feels like she turns into a real mouse every time her mother says it. She turns into a mouse while holding balloons and floats away. She turns into a mouse while roller skating and she falls inside the moving skate. She turns into a mouse while playing soccer and almost gets stepped on by her teammates. But worst of all, her mother calls her “Mouse” in front of the family cat, and Olivia gets chased by the ravenous feline! Finally, she decides to put a stop to it, and refuses to answer to the nickname at all. But as she looks around at other parents who nickname their children, she begins to realize that “Mouse” isn’t such a bad nickname after all.

The cuteness factor is off the charts with this one! The story is hilarious and sweet, and so imaginative.

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Picture Book Review: My Panda Sweater

My Panda Sweater by Gillies Baum
My Panda Sweater
by Gillies Baum

5 out of 5 stars

A little girl wears her lucky panda sweater everywhere all the time, but when it gets too small, she donates it to a charity shop. She thinks carefully about the stories behind our clothing and why we might love a particular clothing item. Maybe a friend gave us that scarf, or maybe a famous relative wore that jersey. One day she sees another girl wearing her old lucky panda sweater, and the two become friends.

I loved this book! It’s so poignant and sweet. The writing style is really smooth and polished, but with a simplicity that requires only a few words to express a meaningful point. I love how this book explores the stories behind our clothing and why we attach so many feelings to our apparel. Continue reading

Picture Book Review: From My Window

From My Window by Otavio Junior
From My Window
by Otavio Junior

2 out of 5 stars

A boy looks out his window in his Brazilian neighborhood and describes what he sees; his neighbors, fireflies at night, a rainbow, the sunrise. He and his friends play a telephone game, fly kites, play soccer, sing funk music, and carry their books to school.

This book was okay. I liked the story and the rich Brazilian culture, but I did not like the art style. It’s too busy and the people look weird. Their anatomy is distorted in strange ways, and they have very awkward poses in each scene. Each scene has a background full of color and details that overwhelm the page. My eye couldn’t rest on any one thing. A lot of the background details look like they are copy and pasted onto the scene. Every bird looks the same as the other birds, just copy and pasted and zoomed to be larger or smaller. On EVERY page. Continue reading

Picture Book Review: The More We Get Together

The More We Get Together by Celeste Cortright
The More We Get Together
by Celeste Cortright,  Betania Zacarias (Illustrator)

4 out of 5 stars

This book gives new verses to the song “The More We Get Together” following themes of environmentalism. There is a verse about biking to save fuel, recycling, helping those less fortunate, getting involved in the community, keeping a garden, and having a community potluck.

I really liked that the verse about activism depicts children writing a letter to share their ideas with their leaders. The lyrics say, “Cause your voice is my voice, and my voice is your voice. The more we come together, the stronger we’ll be.” If we are all free to express our different ideas in healthy and legal ways, we will truly be stronger like the song says.

The illustrations depict a lot of diverse people from all ages and races, working together as a team to make the world a cleaner and better place. I love the positive messages in this book!
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