Book review: Ebenezer Has a Word for Everything, by Chelsea H. Rowe, illustrated by Frank Dormer

Rowe, Chelsea H. Ebenezer Has a Word for Everything. Illustrated by Frank Dormer. Peachtree, 2018. 32 pages. $17.95. ISBN 978-1561458486. Ages 5-8. P9 Q9

Ebenezer loves words. He writes them all down and tries to share them with his family, who are not very interested. He keeps adding to his vocabulary, and each page shows the word and also the illustration. Finally, he finds someone who loves words as much as he does, and then they share many words, slong with the companionship of sharing this interest. The text is fun and has a great sense of humor, and shows how much fun unusual words can be.

VERDICT- This was immensely fun. I enjoyed the great sense of humor on the pages, which made learning the words fun and interesting. I think inquisitive children who enjoy words and exploring new things will find this book interesting and will learn some new words. There is even a list of Ebenezer’s words used in the book on the final page.

January 2020 review by Lynne Wright.

Book review: The Moonflower, by Peter Loewer, illustrated by Jean Loewer

Loewer, Peter. The Moonflower. Illustrated by Jean Loewer. Peachtree Publishers, 2019. $7.95 (paperback). ISBN 9781682631010. Unpaged. Ages 6-10 P7Q8

This children’s nonfiction book exploring nature’s nocturnal behavior is full of beautiful artwork and fun amazing facts. Originally released in 1997, the colorful acrylic pictures illustrate both plant and animal life accurately and vividly. The book begins with the Sun setting in the West, and allows the reader to stay up all night, watching the blooming of the moonflower.  Each page features a separate, updated sidebar with fascinating nature facts. There is an informative glossary and back matter at the end of the book, including instructions on how to plant your own moonflower.

Verdict: Perfect for the classroom, especially when studying life cycles. This book would be a great addition to the library as well. Science minded children would love to have this at home, but might need parent’s assistance with some of the vocabulary.

September 2019 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: Carter Reads the Newspaper, by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Don Tate

Hopkinson, Deborah. Carter Reads the Newspaper. Illustrated by Don Tate. Peachtree Publishers, 2019. $17.95. ISBN 9781561459346. Unpaged. Ages 6-10. P9Q9

Black History Month celebrates famous black heroes; in this book the author shares an important story of a hero we often forget. This biography highlights the “father of Black History” – Carter G. Woodson. Born just after the Civil War to parents who had both been enslaved, Carter faced hardships growing up, but also learned hope and pride from his parents. Only able to go to school four months a year, Carter learned to read, which became a foundation for his life. At 16, while working in the mines of West Virginia, Carter shared his reading skills with the men after a hard day at work, reading the daily newspapers aloud. He was inspired with knowledge, and the shared history of his co-workers. Carter had the chance to continue his education three years later, and eventually earned a Ph.D. from Harvard, this first and only Black American whose parents had been slaves to receive a doctorate in history. He led a life of finding, preserving, and teaching the whole truth about American History. In 1926 Woodson established Negro History Week, now known as Black History Month.

Verdict: A fascinating piece of history everyone should know is featured in this outstanding book. Open the book and find endpapers featuring little portraits of a number of black leaders with mini biographies in the backmatter, from Taharqa, an Egyptian pharaoh of 664 BC, to the Obamas, and even Colin Kaepernick. The illustrations are bold with soft colors, often using newsprint as a background. Libraries, classrooms, and homes would benefit from having this book and its important historical and timeless message for all to read.

September 2019 review by Denyse Marsh.

Book review: Away with Words: The Daring Story of Isabella Bird, by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Kristy Caldwell

Mortensen, Lori. Away with Words: The Daring Story of Isabella Bird. Illus. by Kristy Caldwell. Peachtree, 2019. Unp. $17.95. ISBN 978-1-68263-005-1. Ages 7-10. P8Q8

In 19th century England, girls were supposed to be married at an early age, but stubborn Isabella, frequently ill, refused to fit in that mold. Only when she broke free from the confinement of her home and expectations for women, did she escape the strange malaise she suffered. She bloomed when her father taught her to ride a horse, and then went out into the world in her early 20s, taking a voyage to the United States and traveled through the rural areas to the West. Throughout her life she visited other faraway places in Australia, Hawaii, and Asia. After her adventures she wrote a dozen books and several articles about her journeys.

Verdict: The digital illustrations seem a bit flat, but the narrative, sometimes using excerpts from Bird’s books, is spirited. One flaw is the confusion of her last name because the narration doesn’t mention her marriage; another is her imperialist writing.

June 2019 review by Nel Ward.

Book review: Izzy Gizmo, by Pip Jones, illustrated by Sara Ogilvie

Jones, Pip. Izzy Gizmo. Illustrator Sara Ogilvie. Peachtree, 2017. $16.95. ISBN 9781682630211. Unpaged. Ages 5-8. P8Q8.

Izzy Gizmo loved to invent, but didn’t have much success until she met a crow who needed her help to fly.  Through her grandpa’s support and crow’s belief in her ingenuity, Izzy learned perseverance and enjoyed friendship and success. The rhyme and rhythm of the text glides the reader from page to page and from one invention to another. Illustrations focus the reader on specific inventions with calm, monochromatic background colors setting the mood from failures to success. Verdict: This book is an inspiration for young readers and reminds us all not to give up on dreams, curiosity, and inventions. It would be a great addition to any K-2 library.

September 2018 review by Marcy Doyle.

Book review: About Fish: A Guide for Children, by Cathryn Sill, illustrated by John Sill

Sill, Cathryn. About Fish: A Guide for Children. Illustrated by John Sill. (About … for Children series.) Peachtree, 2017. $7.95. ISBN 9781561459889. Unp. Ages 3-6 . P7 Q8

About Fish: A Guide for Children is a member of the About Series by wife/husband team Cathryn and John Sill. This is a reprint of the original, first published in 2002. Like the rest of the books in this series, accurate, full-color illustrations are accompanied by limited text. Most of the text is devoted to describing the diversity found among the world’s fish species. The common name of each fish depicted in the illustrations is provided on the opposite page. Additionally, there is an afterword that includes much more detail about the fish found in each plate. There is also a glossary and further reading. I recommend this introductory guide for classroom use.

Verdict: This visual guide with limited text is a very general introduction to the wide variety of fish found on the planet. It will be a useful resource in Pre-K and Kindergarten classes.

September 2018 review by Lillian Curanzy.

Book review: Leaf Litter Critters, by Leslie Bulion, illustrated by Robert Meganck

Bulion, Leslie. Leaf Litter Critters. Ill. by Robert Meganck. Peachtree, 2018. $14.95. 55p. ISBN 978-1-56145-950-6. Ages 8-12. P8Q8

In this small, easy-to-hold book, Bulion introduces the reader to creatures from beetles to bacteria that break down the duff—the decaying plant parts and animal wastes under new fallen leaves on top of the humus layer. Each two-page spread about a different “recycler” in the “brown food web” provides a whimsical poem, colorful drawings, and factual science notes.

Verdict: Highly colored illustrations are delightful, and verbal details are geared to the audience, for example comparing the size of some organisms to a comma or period. Readers can spend hours pouring over the details of the book.


May 2018 review by Nel Ward.