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The Dollmaker of Krakow

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The Dollmaker of Krakow is a middle grade novel written by R.M. Romero. My three girls are in the middle grade range, and so I always end up reading the children’s fiction I receive with them because their feedback is invaluable.

Karolina lived quite happily in the Land of the Dolls until the rats invaded. Her peaceful existence was shattered as the rats began a reign of terror. When things are looking their bleakest, Karolina awakens in a toy shop in the city of Krakow. She meets Mr. Brzezick, the Dollmaker who brought her to life. At first, the Dollmaker is shocked that Karolina can speak to him, but he quickly accepts the magic for what it is. Continue reading

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Sam the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World by Mo Willems

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Sam the Most Scaredy-Cat Kid in the Whole World is a picture book written and illustrated by Mo Willems. It’s somewhat of a sequel to Leonardo the Terrible Monster, which has always been one of our favorite Willems books. I preordered this book six months ago, and everybody was so excited when it finally arrived.

Sam is a little boy who is afraid of everything except for his monster friend Leonardo. One day, Sam and Leonardo meet Kerry and Frankenthaler, who are a girl and monster duo. Both children are scared, and it is quickly established that they are not afraid of the unfamiliar monster- they are afraid of the unfamiliar child. What can Leonardo and Frankenthaler do to help their kids see that they might have more in common than they thought? Continue reading

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The Adventures of King Rollo by David McKee

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I remember watching King Rollo on Nickelodeon back in the 1980s. We also had a couple of the books. It seems like a lot of people don’t remember it, so I was very excited when I saw a set of King Rollo books on Amazon.

The Adventures of King Rollo is a set of four little hardcover books written and illustrated by David McKee. They come packaged nicely in a sturdy cardboard slipcase.

King Rollo and the Bread shows King Rollo trying to improve upon a farmer’s simple meal of bread by having his Magician change the bread into many different foods. The moral of this story is that simple is sometimes best. Continue reading

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The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

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I have been looking forward to The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue for several months. I had it preordered on Amazon, and I was very excited to finally read it. I read the whole book yesterday, alternating between the Kindle version and the Audible version- thank you, Whispersync for allowing me to “read” and fold laundry at the same time.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is a YA novel written by Mackenzi Lee. Its protagonist is Henry Montague, a young 18th century aristocrat who is generally perceived to be a rake and a wastrel. As the story begins, Monty is about to embark on his Grand Tour, accompanied by his best friend Percy and his annoying younger sister Felicity. Monty is looking forward to a year of debauchery, but his hopes are dashed when he finds out that this is strictly an educational experience. Monty’s father also issues a clear warning that Monty will be cut off if he doesn’t stop cavorting with other boys. The biggest problem with this sword of Damocles is that Monty is desperately and unequivocally in love with Percy.   Continue reading

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Unicorn Crossing (Phoebe and Her Unicorn) by Dana Simpson

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Unicorn Crossing is the fifth book in the Phoebe and her Unicorn Adventure series by Dana Simpson. My three girls- especially my oldest- are big fans of this comic, so I was very excited about the opportunity to share this with them.

Phoebe is a fairly average girl, with one notable exception: her pet unicorn Marigold. Phoebe and Marigold navigate a fairly typical American childhood with a good sense of humor. This dynamic duo experiences seasons, holidays, school, friendship, and more. A fairly small ensemble rounds out the cast: Phoebe’s parents, her friend Max, and her frenemy Dakota. There are plenty of pop culture references, with a notable geeky slant. Continue reading

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Perennials by Mandy Berman

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Perennials is author Mandy Berman’s debut novel. I was looking forward to reading this book because I spent seven summers at sleepaway camp as both a camper and a counselor, so I could relate to the subject matter and wanted to see how this (albeit fictional) account compared to my own experiences.

Rachel lives in an apartment in the city with her single mother and Fiona lives in a big house in Westchester with her family. But when they meet at summer camp as girls, they find that they have a lot in common.   Continue reading

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The Lost History of Stars by Dave Boling

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I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Lost History of Stars is a novel by Dave Boling. I was looking forward to reading this book because it is set in South Africa, just like one of my all-time favorites- The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. Almost immediately, I realized there was a connection between the books: in The Power of One, the English protagonist is severely bullied by Boer boys at his boarding school as punishment for the abuse their grandparents suffered in concentration camps at the hands of the English. The Lost History of Stars is an account of life in those camps as seen by a teenage girl.

Lettie is sent to a concentration camp along with her brother and mother after their farm is burned to the ground by the English. Her father, older brother, grandfather, and uncles are all conducting guerilla operations against the English. Conditions in the camp are bleak, and disease is rampant. Lettie is rather stoic about her experience, and tries to find pleasure in small moments. One of her most treasured possessions is her English dictionary, which she reads for comfort and to pass the time. Continue reading