That’s What I’d Do

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That's What I'd Do
by Jewel
written for ages 2-7 | highly recommended
published in 2012 | Simon & Schuster | 32 pages

Recently the singer-songwriter Jewel came to my son's school to present her new book. She charmed the students with her singing, so I decided to take a look at That's What I'd Do. Few books capture the deep love a mother has for her child as well as this picture book/CD set.

The rhyming couplets tell of the limitless dedication of a mother: her willingness to do whatever she can to make her child's life safe and nurturing; her joy in sacrifice; her contentment in seeing her child explore his world. Amy June Bates' illustrations are warm and comfortable, capturing the special moments mother and baby spend together throughout the day. The accompanying recording of Jewel singing the text is simply enchanting. Mothers and children will enjoy sharing this little treasure for many years.

For more information about this book, click on its image above.

Jennifer Minicus is a mother and teacher currently living in Ridgewood, NJ.

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The More the Merrier

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The More the Merrier
by Anne Fine
written for ages 13-16 | acceptable
published in 2006 (2003) | Corgi | 144 pages

A witty one-act comedy of manners, told from Ralph's point of view when his extended family come round for Christmas dinner. His parents have invited certain relatives, but others turn up anyway, and Ralph weaves his way skilfully through the chaos which ensues.The device of creating very short chapters gives the effect of Ralph moving around the house with a video camera focusing on different people as they interact within the confines of the small house.

The characters are all just slightly larger than life, offering entertainment while still being entirely recognisable. Titania is Ralph's annoying little cousin given to wearing frilly dresses and singing soppy songs about fairies in the garden. Uncle Tristam is his mother's brother and a cynical ally in the battle against Titania. Great Granny is the matriarch of the family, given to statements like, "If I had my own teeth, I'd bite you," and "By the time I was your age I had read Milton."

A… click here to read whole article and make comments



The Icarus Project

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The Icarus Project
by Laura Quimby
written for ages 9-12 | highly recommended
published in 2012 | Harry N. Abrams | 304 pages

With an anthropologist for a mother and a paleontologist for a father, thirteen-year-old Maya seems destined to follow a career in ancient studies. She has learned everything anyone needs to know about scientific digs. Her divorced parents' careers have often taken precedence over Maya. Thus, when her father is hired by the wealthy Randall Clark to help unearth a frozen wooly mammoth in the Arctic, she begs to go. What could be more educational than seeing a team of scientists in action?

Maya's skills of perception start sending up red flags before the team even reaches the dig site. There is something suspicious about all the other researchers involved with the exception of Karen, the anthropologist who has brought her son Kyle along. As the only children on the trip, Maya and Kyle quickly become friends. Snooping around the camp, they discover that Randall has ulterior motives for sponsoring the expedition. The scientists' work quickly reveals that his "mammoth" is… click here to read whole article and make comments



The Trumpeter of Krakow

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The Trumpeter of Krakow
by Eric P. Kelly
written for ages 11-14 | highly recommended
published in 1992 (1928) | Aladdin | 224 pages

Everyone admires a young, courageous hero. The Trumpeter of Krakow presents just such a hero. Love of God, country and family inspire the protagonists of Eric Kelly's story about 15th century Poland.

The tale begins in the 13th century as the Tartars invade Poland. The citizens of Krakow have always depended on the young trumpeter to sound his horn every hour of the day and night. Faithful to his post, the young man assigned to this noble task plays the traditional Heynal as the Tartars attack the city and loses his life. As a tribute to his sacrifice, the trumpeters of Krakow adopt the tradition of playing their song every hour, but stopping at the last note this young man played.

200 hundred years later, Joseph Charnetski continues this tradition. Although originally from the Ukraine, he immigrated to the city with his father and mother while escaping Tartars in his native land. His father, Andrew, is in possession of a… click here to read whole article and make comments



Fun for Animal Lovers

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written for ages 2-7 | highly recommended

Duck on a Bike by David Shannon (2002)

David Shannon is known for his exaggerated, sometimes un-becoming illustrations of chara cters in his children's stories. Yet in this story, his unique style begets animal characters with human-like personalities, with "Duck" being the story's main protagonist. The story is written from the perspective of farm animals, who do something quite comical at the story's end. This is a silly and creative story which young children and parents alike will enjoy reading together. It is especially charming to hear the audio recording narrated by Walter Mayes.

Never, Ever Shout In a Zoo  by Karma Wilson (2004)

In this charming story for preschoolers and older children, a little girl learns what happens when a child shouts in the zoo. The story is somewhat rhythmic, with different animals appearing in turn, and each appearance ending with the refrain: "and don't say I didn't warn you." It is a silly way to illustrate to… click here to read whole article and make comments



The Sleeping Sword

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The Sleeping Sword
by Michael Morpurgo
written for ages 13-16 | recommended
| Egmont Books | 160 pages

Bun, now 12 years old, tells the story of his blindness and memory loss two years prior, and of how a sword he found in a hole under their field led him to King Arthur's resting place and helped him recover his sight. Bun relates his story without self-pity, making it clear that he is to blame for trying a show-off dive without checking the water below.

Rather than becoming a stimulus for selfishness, the blindness is a way for him to come closer to his friends and especially to Anna, his sister. Despite Bun's acceptance of his blindness, at one point he is going to give up by throwing himself off a cliff in the middle of the night until Anna draws him back.

Bun's family are nothing but supportive of him despite the fact-which Bun realises-that it gives them money problems, having to provide extra facilities and teaching for him. When his parents, in all goodwill, arrange for… click here to read whole article and make comments



Pitch Your Book Australia winners

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A drama/mystery book concept entitled Knowing Olivia, which involves siblings separated by divorce, has won the inaugural Pitch Your Book Australia competition. Entrants each submitted a two-minute video presenting their idea for a book and the winner was selected from the top ten pitches. Selection criteria are ability to meet market demand, publishability and how well the pitch was presented. The judge this year was Australian publisher Pantera Press.

The aim of the Pitch Your Book Australia Competition is four-fold. Firstly, it aims to give writers with great ideas the ability to stand out in a very competitive industry. Conversely, it helps publishers find new talent. It also acts as a platform for writers to learn from one another and for ideas to spring from ideas. Finally it aims to entertain and be a fun competition for everyone who enters.

The team at Pitch Your Book Australia was thrilled with the number… click here to read whole article and make comments



Malcolm at Midnight

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Malcolm at Midnight
by W.H. Beck
written for ages 9-12 | recommended
published in 2012 | Houghton Mifflin | 272 pages

Malcolm has spent nearly all his life at the Pet Emporium. Customers looking for feeder rats tend to purchase they largest rat available, and Malcolm is small for his size. So small, in fact, that when Mr. Binney comes into the store looking for a pet for his fifth grade class, he assumes that Malcolm is a mouse.

Although Malcolm resents his mistaken identity, he knows it has saved his life. Thus, when he meets the other pets at McKenna School he allows them to think he is a mouse as well. If they knew the truth they might not admit him into the Midnight Academy, a team of school pets that patrols the classrooms and hallways after hours. Malcolm wants desperately to have friends and help the Academy in their mission. Unfortunately, H.B. the rabbit suspects the truth and seems determined to prove that Malcolm cannot be trusted. A missing iguana and devious stray cat complicate Malcolm's already precarious… click here to read whole article and make comments


Reading Matters is MercatorNet’s blog about children’s literature. Our goal is to enable parents and educators to find quality books for young people. For an explanation of our evaluation system, click here. We welcome reader input and new reviewers. We love comments on the book reviews. Write to us at

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