The Perfect Birthday Recipe – Katy Hudson

I absolutely fell in love with A Loud Winter’s Nap and The Golden Acorn, and I have read this one so many times now that I’ve lost count. Some of the most adorable children’s book illustrations I’ve come across are from this series. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even care what a Katy Hudson story is about anymore; I need it in my life regardless.

Beaver is a perfectionist. His latest project, which he’s been planning very carefully, is a birthday cake. Not content with anything less, this will be a “PERFECT birthday cake”. Beaver’s friends, Tortoise, Rabbit, Bird and Squirrel, decide to help. Only they don’t have Beaver’s attention to detail.

Rather than the perfect layers of sugary goodness Beaver had imagined, his friends’ help has instead resulted in layers of panic, frustration and ultimately a perfectly dramatic temper tantrum for Beaver. Beaver finally decides that if you want something done right you have to do it yourself but ultimately discovers it’s a perfectly lonely way to celebrate a birthday if you have alienated all of your friends.

I understand Beaver’s perfectionism, possibly too well. After spending so long reading and rereading this book, and agonising over finding the perfect words to include in this review, my advanced copy of this book has morphed into an ‘oops, this book has now been published’. Apparently I still need to read this book a few more times.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Capstone Editions for the opportunity to read this book. Now all I need to do is find a copy of Too Many Carrots and I’ll have a go to book for every season. I wish there was a fifth season so I could look forward to another book in this series.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Summer birthdays can be lonely, but not when you have great friends like Beavers! This year Tortoise, Bird, Rabbit, and Squirrel insist on baking Beaver’s birthday cake, but Beaver isn’t so sure. He is the ultimate perfectionist and would rather do it himself, following the recipe exactly. Will Beaver’s nitpicky ways ruin his birthday and his friendships?

The Perfect Birthday Recipe is the fourth and final story in Katy Hudson’s best-selling set of seasonal picture books, including Too Many Carrots, A Loud Winter’s Nap, and The Golden Acorn.

A Many Feathered Thing – Lisa Gerlits

I would have talked about the wings. His and mine and everybody’s.

In order to become tortured enough to consider herself to be a real artist Clara decides she needs to do hard things. She begins by doing the hardest thing she can imagine, talking to a stranger, Mr Vogelman, who is rumoured to collect teeth.

Knocking on Mr Vogelman’s door isn’t the only scary thing Clara needs to face. There’s a new girl in her class, her friendship with Orion (who she’s known her entire life) is changing and, possibly scariest of all, she needs to find her voice so she can deliver a presentation at school.

Drawing had saved me where my voice failed.

I had planned on reading this book sooner but put it off for several weeks. From the first sentence I knew that no matter what else I found in this book, an ugly cry was certain and I wasn’t in the right head space at the time. Now I’m on the other side of my ugly cry and I can say that although there were several times where it hurt to read this book, hope was also threaded through it.

I loved Clara’s best friend, Orion. His integrity and loyalty endeared him to me and I wanted to watch him as he focused on making things and worked on his intricate knots. I liked Clara most of the time but was anxious for her to pay more attention to other peoples’ struggles and be a better friend. I’d like to spend more time with Elise, the new girl in Clara’s class, who sometimes behaved as though she was much older than eleven.

“You’ve got to have something inside you that no one can take away”

Birdman, as we come to know Mr Vogelman as, teaches Clara about much more than art.

“Every effort is valuable. We must not rub out our failures. They are most important to our success.”

Although I managed to catch a few glimpses of his life outside of his friendship with Clara, I would have liked to have learned more about him. He had a complexity that I wanted to be explored further.

While I understood why this was the case, Frouke’s character felt two dimensional until very near the end of the story. Even now I’m not entirely sure what her relationship was to Birdman … Housekeeper? Friend?

At its heart this is a book about friendships and having the courage to face the hard things. It’s also about finding ways to connect with people, even if it’s through failed knock-knock jokes. It’s about tying knots and unravelling them. It’s about seeing, truly seeing, by looking deeper and continuing to look even when you think you’ve understood all there is to see. It’s about hope and love.

“Love is not one shape. It is not always a red heart. Sometimes it is a tree. Or a bird. Or a bicycle bell.”

I’m always drawn to books where children connect with and learn from older people. I’m especially keen when I get the opportunity to peek into the lives of the people who live in the neighbourhood’s scary house. You know the one. It’s the house that children avoid on Halloween. There are rumours about the horrors that may befall you if you wind up on the wrong side of the door. The outcasts, the recluses, the mysterious. Birdman is one of those people. I dare you not to fall in love with him.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Capstone Editions, an imprint of Capstone, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Eleven-year-old Clara is known as the girl who draws, but she’s not tortured enough to become a real artist. Her only suffering, besides embarrassment over her real name Clarity Kartoffel, German for Clarity Potato is a crippling inability to speak in public. When Clara and her oldest friend, Orion break their neighbor’s glass gazing ball, Clara decides that in order to suffer like a true artist, she will do every hard thing in her path … starting with knocking on scary old Mr. Vogelman’s door. That’s when she meets Birdman. That’s when she sees his swirling painting. And that’s when everything changes.

To pay for the broken glass ball, Clara begins working for Birdman in his atelier. He challenges her to throw away her eraser and draw what she sees, not what she wants to see. But as Clara discovers, seeing, really seeing is hard. Almost as difficult as befriending the new girl at school, or navigating awkward feelings for Orion or finding the courage to speak in front of the entire class. But little does Clara know, the biggest challenges are yet to come. To cope with tragedy, she will have to do more than be brave. As Birdman teaches her, she will have to bring the hope. 

Help Wanted, Must Love Books – Janet Sumner Johnson

Illustrations – Courtney Dawson

Shailey loves reading bedtime stories with her father but since he started his new job he’s been too busy.

Shailey’s solution?

Fire her father and advertise for a new bedtime storyteller.

A host of fairytale characters apply for the job but none of them are quite right. Shailey begins to wonder if she’ll ever be able to find a suitable replacement for her father.

Some of my fondest childhood memories include trips to my local library to find new treasures. I always love books about books! I appreciated the inclusion of fairytale characters as it was a reminder that books are always there for you, even when you feel like you’re alone.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Capstone Editions for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When Shailey’s dad gets a new job, she loses her bedtime reading partner. She immediately starts interviews to fill the position and is thrilled when her favourite fairy tale characters line up to apply. But Sleeping Beauty can’t stay awake, the Gingerbread Man steals her book, and Snow White brings her whole team. Shailey is running out of options. Is bedtime ruined forever? 

Rating Your Bunkmates and Other Camp Crimes – Jennifer Orr

I need to preface everything I say about this book with: I’m not the target audience. Sometimes this doesn’t matter as I consistently read books that are intended for readers born in a different century than I was. However, I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older my tolerance for friendship drama has decreased exponentially.

Socially awkward twelve year old Abigail Hensley may have skipped three grades at school but she’s never had a friend. It’s not from lack of rigorous anthropological research on her part. Unfortunately other girls her age simply don’t share her interests – fencing, time travel, anthropology and French cuisine. They also have a bad habit of intruding in her personal space bubble, even though she has generously narrowed the recommended four feet to three and a half.

No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to successfully befriend a girl my age. It’s like I’m helium, physically unable to mix with any other chemical element. Bonding with girls my age just doesn’t seem part of my atomic makeup.

Joining Abigail in Clovis Cabin are:

  • Sofia, Fia, Fia, with her impractical bejewelled fingernails
  • Quinn, who speaks like she’s a Magic 8 ball
  • Rachel, with her crooked name sticker and rule breaking tendencies
  • Mary Elizabeth George (Meg), who lives in the shadows of her perfect older sister
  • Gabby, who’s enthusiastic and agreeable. She’s Abigail’s roommate.

Despite being oblivious to social cues Abigail is trying her hardest to figure out the science of making friends. She’s determined to crack the code this week and will be making extensive Field Notes to help her navigate the process.

I plan to use these notes to help me with my ongoing experiment: finding a friend.

Unfortunately for Abigail this social experiment may not be as easy to implement as she hopes. Shortly after arriving at Hollyhock something is stolen from another Clovis camper and she’s the prime suspect.

While I’m always drawn to books where I get to attend summer camp vicariously (this was not something that was available when I was growing up and I’ve always felt I missed out on a rite of passage), too many of the conversations in this book revolve around accusations for my liking, so I didn’t enjoy my time at Camp Hollyhock as much as I had anticipated. I hope (and expect) younger readers will disagree wholeheartedly with me.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Capstone Editions for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Twelve-year-old Abigail Hensley is a socially awkward aspiring anthropologist who has always had trouble connecting with her peers. Abigail is hopeful that a week at sleepaway camp is the answer to finally making a friend. After all, her extensive research shows that summer camp is the best place to make lifelong connections. Using her tried-and-true research methods, Abigail begins to study her cabinmates for friendship potential. But just when it seems that she is off to a good start, her bunkmate’s phone gets stolen, and Abigail is the main suspect. Can she clear her name, find the real culprit, and make a friend before the week is done?

My Footprints – Bao Phi

Illustrations – Basia Tran

I’ve read this book so many times that I’ve lost count but each time I’ve tried to write my review I haven’t known what I wanted to say about it.

Thuy has been bullied at school again. She is angry and upset, but on her way home she notices her “jagged footprints”.

When she sees a lone bird, she imagines what it would be like to be able to fly away from danger and recreates its footprints in the snow. She continues to imagine other animals and makes their footprints her own as she arrives home.

“I want to be the biggest and strongest and scariest monster,” Thuy says, “so that if kids at school make fun of me for having two moms, or tell me to go back to where I come from, or call me names, or bother me because I’m a girl, I can make them stop!”

Together Momma Arti, Momma Ngoc and Thuy talk about which animals are strong and which are their favourites. Then Thuy imagines the best animal of all.

I loved Basia Tran’s illustrations, particularly Thuy’s Arti-Thuy-Ngoc-osaurus.

This imagined creature has footprints shaped like hearts, which I absolutely adored.

While I don’t think I would have appreciated this book as a child, adult me loves its messages. Thuy’s story tackles the impacts of bullying but also highlights the importance of having a supportive family. She is learning about courage and perseverance, and the power of her imagination, and I love her and her family more with each reread.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Every child feels different in some way, but Thuy feels “double different.” She is Vietnamese American and she has two mums. Thuy walks home one winter afternoon, angry and lonely after a bully’s taunts. Then a bird catches her attention and sets Thuy on an imaginary exploration. What if she could fly away like a bird? What if she could sprint like a deer, or roar like a bear? Mimicking the footprints of each creature in the snow, she makes her way home to the arms of her moms. Together, the three of them imagine beautiful and powerful creatures who always have courage – just like Thuy.

The Friendship Lie – Rebecca Donnelly

Cora is 11 years old and has a twin, Kyle. She also used to have a best friend, Sybella, who she met on the first day of second grade. The twins’ parents both work in environmental science.

Their dad ran a garbology project that studied what happened to peoples’ trash and recycling after they put it all in their curbside bins. Their mother worked on the technology that tracked each lucky piece of garbage that was part of the project.

Now it’s the fifth grade and Cora and Kyle’s parents are divorcing. Their parents are so separated, in fact, that their mother is working in Belgium for a year while she thinks about the future. Meanwhile her kids are still in California and Cora thinks her life is garbage, what with her mother on the other side of the world and in the wrong time zone to be able to give Cora much needed advice about her friendship problems.

Their father wants to “show the world what happened to the things it tried to get rid of.” However he appears positively clueless about how sad both of his kids are; while Cora is obviously sad throughout the book, Kyle hides his sadness behind a wall of positivity. I wasn’t a fan of either parent and found some of the father’s garbage related behaviour downright creepy.

I know it was all about the ongoing environmental message but the twins’ father continually bringing all of their neighbours’ garbage into their apartment and sorting through it in their bathtub horrified me. If I discovered my neighbour had been regularly stealing my trash and rummaging through it I would send them my own message, likely in the form of some very expired dairy product poured all over whatever I was discarding that week.

While there was some diversity included in story, with a teenage girl who has girlfriends and another character whose mother is white and father is black, it felt like its inclusion was token rather than having any bearing on the plot. Both topics were barely mentioned before disappearing from the narrative. Homelessness is also included in this story, mostly as a way to track a specific item’s movements through the book, and the opportunities to either make a point about homelessness or provide resolution for this specific character were missed.

I loved everything about Aquafaba and how it fit into the story, and I liked Auntie Lake. I wanted to hang out with Auntie Lake more. I think I would have really liked Kyle if his personality extended beyond loving dogs, and being the nicest and most positive person on the planet. On the flip side, I detested new girl Marnie from the first time I met her, both because she was so irritating but also because she was practically two dimensional and didn’t appear to have a back story.

The first half of the book is told exclusively from Cora’s point of view, starting with ‘After’ and then catching up to now with ‘Before’ chapters. There are a couple of chapters in the second half of the book from Sybella’s perspective, a character I liked much more than Cora. There are also diary entries from 1974 written by a then-seventh grade Penny and odd little public service announcements Cora leaves on her mother’s voicemail.

Since everyone is so garbage conscious in this book I wasn’t sure why the research assistants were setting up the Trashlympics in a way that created more trash, like using duct tape to mark the lanes for the relay race Trash and Dash. Given the other clubs the school was offering focused on art, robotics and gaming, I was surprised there was enough interest from elementary school aged kids for there to be a Trash Team in the first place.

Although there’s also some friendship drama thrown in as well, big chunks of the early part of this book felt like extended public service announcements for all things environmental – sustainability, making sure you put your trash in the correct bins, the problem of plastic in the ocean. I found the second half of the book interesting and this mostly made up for the parts in the first half where I really struggled to want to continue reading. However, had I not committed to reviewing this book I wouldn’t have continued reading long enough to get to the parts I enjoyed.

I expect if I was reading this book as an environmentally conscious 9 to 12 year old this could be an entirely different review. Maybe I’ve forgotten what is considered fun at that age. Maybe Trashlympics are one of those things. I’m interested to see what the actual target audience think about The Friendship Lie.

Thank you to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Cora Davis’s life is garbage. Literally. Her professor parents study what happens to trash after it gets thrown away, and Cora knows exactly how it feels to be thrown away. Between her mum and dad separating and a fallout with her best friend, fifth grade for Cora has been a year of feeling like being tossed into the dumpster.

But Cora has learned a couple of things from her parents’ trash-tracking studies: things don’t always go where they’re supposed to and sometimes the things you thought you got rid of come back. And occasionally, one person’s trash is another’s treasure, which Cora and Sybella learn when they come across a diary detailing best-friendship problems.

Told in two intertwining points of view, comes a warm, wry story of friendship, growing up, and being true to yourself. The Friendship Lie will speak to any reader who has struggled with what to hold on to and what to throw away.

The Golden Acorn – Katy Hudson

When Squirrel learns that the Golden Acorn Hunt is going to be a team event this year she’s not happy. Squirrel has won the competition for the past eight years and wants to add another trophy to her collection. Beaver, Rabbit, Tortoise and Bird eagerly join her team but Squirrel doesn’t think her friends will be fast enough to win. The day of the race arrives and Squirrel finds herself in a position where she needs to decide what is more important to her: winning or her friends.

I adored Katy Hudson’s A Loud Winter’s Nap so I was keen to get my hands on this book, especially after I fell in love with its gorgeous cover.

This picture book was written with 3 to 6 year olds in mind. There are plenty of themes to discuss with children, including the importance of teamwork and the value of friendships. If I was reading this to a child I’d also be talking to them about Squirrel’s competitive nature and that, while winning can be fun, it’s not everything.

I loved the illustrations, particularly the ones showing all of the different teams scurrying around the tress in search of the elusive golden acorn. While I smiled my way through all of the images my favourite was this one, showing the friends enjoying a picnic together.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Whoosh! Squirrel takes off at full speed through the autumn leaves. But pump the breaks, because this year the Golden Nut Hunt race is a team event. Squirrel reluctantly enlists his friends and is not impressed. Will Squirrel’s competitive spirit take over or will he learn how to be a team player?

Best-selling author Katy Hudson (Too Many Carrots and A Loud Winter’s Nap) proves that winning isn’t everything in this energetic picture book about friendship, teamwork, and forgiveness – and that’s something to go nuts about!

Scream Site – Justina Ireland

Scream Site reminded me a little of the Point Horror books I loved as a kid, only with more introspection and fewer scares. I adored the front cover art and the blurb made it sound as though danger would be lurking around every corner.

While it was an okay read it felt like it was a victim of its own marketing in a way. It’s marketed (depending on where you look) towards readers between 12 and 15 years or 12 and 18 years. I think 12 would be towards the higher end of the age group that would enjoy this book most.

I can trace a lot of the problems I had with this book back to its blurb. We’re told very clearly that Faith, Sabrina’s sister, goes missing so I assumed this would happen fairly early in the story and then we’d spend the rest of the book chasing down clues to try to save her before its too late.

As a result of this (wrong) assumption each time I read Faith’s name I was looking for clues and getting ready to learn of her disappearance and potential demise. Then I got bored waiting for the inevitable. By the time it finally happens I was already 85% of the way through the book and I don’t think I’ll be so happy to learn that someone may have been kidnapped ever again.

It’s difficult to know what spoiler territory looks like in a book whose blurb is possibly the biggest spoiler of all so let’s just say there are potential spoilers in my review. Consider yourself warned.

Sabrina is a 14 year old wannabe investigative journalist. She like super wants to apply for a summer internship at a newspaper. If that last sentence annoyed you then this is probably not the book for you. People are “super busy”, things are “super creepy” or “super weird”, and “it was super illegal”. “He, like, volunteers” and is “like the nicest guy in the entire school”.

Why does our main character, who loves documentaries and romantic comedies, decide to investigate a website hosted by horror movie makers? Because she hasn’t come up with a good lead for her internship application and her best (and possibly only) friend thinks it’s a good idea. After watching one video and suitably freaking herself out Sabrina decides there’s more to the story and continues her own personal scare fest for the rest of the book.

Sabrina scares herself when the lights suddenly go out in her home a couple of times but as it’s already established early on that this happens all the time I never expected any jump scares to come as a result of rooms plunging into darkness.

Besides the too much information blurb I found myself questioning too many elements to really enjoy much of the read.

With her sister missing and this website being pretty much her only clue I doubt that Lupe would have handed over her sister’s login information to a 14 year old investigative journalist wannabe she’d just met.

I would have thought that a horror video competition would encourage originality but most of the videos seem to be of girls being chased through the woods. “Everyone shot their videos in the woods.”

We hear about “creepy nursery rhyme recitations” but the vagueness of this detracts from any potential creepiness.

If Evelyn (Sabrina’s best and maybe only friend) was so concerned about Sabrina’s safety while meeting some random person from the internet then why didn’t she go with her? Originally I thought I might like Evelyn with her dyed streak in her hair and somewhat rebellious attitude. I was wrong.

“I care about popularity, and I need you to pull it together, Sabrina. We are perfectly positioned to be in the mid-tier of cool next year, which means we will at least be popular enough to get invited to the good parties. But that’s not going to happen if you keep up with running around like this.”

When it seems as though Sabrina is in actual danger she lies to her mother. I spent most of the book wondering why Sabrina didn’t tell her mother what she was investigating and then I found out. Sabrina finally tells her Mum and she’s not believed. Okay, question answered.

I wasn’t sure why Sabrina didn’t try to warn her sister that she feared she’d be the next victim. Even with the adults of the world in collective disbelief and the risk of not being believed by Faith either, I still would have been warning her to be “super” careful.

Do sophomores and seniors have classes together? They do in this book.

I found it odd that Sabrina didn’t know that the guy her best friend had a crush on last summer is the same guy she has a crush on now; the one she gushes over in the coffee shop in the first chapter. The page after this confusion Evelyn seems to get confused about why Sabrina would be mentioning her uncle in relation to the missing girl. You know, the only uncle that’s mentioned in the book; the police detective.

I doubt detective uncle would be revealing details of an open case to his 14 year old niece. It was also fairly convenient that both times his niece dropped by the police station Uncle John just so happened to be working and sitting at his desk.

While I loved the front cover image and it’s part of the reason why I wanted to read this book in the first place there’s no mention in the entire book of a ferris wheel. Funland “featured go karts, an arcade, and mini-golf”. I had really hoped for a clichéd but fun final scene atop the ferris wheel or on some other unseen but amusement type ride. I was quite disappointed in the big reveal and the explanation that followed.

I came across plenty of typos but as I read an ARC I expect/hope they would have been corrected prior to publication. There was a fair bit of time spent recounting information the characters and reader already know. There were also some sentences that didn’t exactly fit well with what followed, e.g., “Sabrina didn’t sleep at all that night.” The rest of the paragraph talks about her waking up from nightmares.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read this book. Had the blurb not given away too much I expect I would have enjoyed it more.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Sabrina Sebastian’s goal in life is to be an investigative reporter. For her first big story, she researches a popular website called Scream Site, where people post scary videos and compete for the most “screams.” While Sabrina’s friends and her sister, Faith, talk nonstop about the creepy viral videos, Sabrina just hopes that covering this trend will get her the internship she’s wishing for. But as she digs into the truth behind the website, she begins to suspect that these aren’t only aspiring actors and videographers at work. Some clips seem a little too real. And when Faith goes missing, Sabrina must race against time to save her sister from becoming the next video “star.”

The Kiddie Table – Colleen Madden

I’ve read this book so many times over the past couple of months, trying in vain to change my opinion about it. I’m sorry; I just don’t get it. Part of it may be that I come from a small family and everyone fit around one table when we had meals with extended family. We also don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia but I don’t think that has any relevance to the way I feel about this book.

This story recounts the tale of an eight year old girl who is relegated to sitting at the kiddie table during her family’s Thanksgiving meal. She’s surrounded by babies and toddlers. For some reason she’s given a bowl of food and a spoon to eat with, and she’s supposed to be drinking out of a sippy cup. I’m not sure what bright spark thought that was a good idea but possibly her parents as the meal is at their home. Throughout the meal our already cranky eight year old becomes increasingly angry until she explodes at the indignity she’s had to suffer.

During her tirade she makes the argument that she knows how to behave and winds up her tantrum with a defiant, “I DESERVE A SPOT AT THE ADULT TABLE!” Now this may well be an indication of why I should never be a parent but if this little brat was my kid I would quite cheerfully explain to her that her dummy spit had proven exactly why she’s not ready to sit at the adult table yet. Like it or not she’d be apologising to the other guests, including all of the kids she freaked out and we’d be having a long chat about her behaviour and acceptable ways to ask for what you want once the guests left.

This kid’s mother is not me. This kid’s mother empathises with her daughter about how she was feeling (that would have been part of my after dinner chat) but then she lets the tantrum kid sit at the adult table! This kid gets rewarded for her bad behaviour! I’m not okay with that.

I liked the illustrations. They’re colourful and make our tantrum thrower’s discontent very clear from the get go.

The rhymes didn’t work for me as the meter was off, so the rhythm would feel awkward if read out loud.

I’ve put off writing this review because I hate it when books and I don’t connect. Just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean you won’t though so please don’t just take my word for it. I’d encourage you to check it out for yourself or at least read some 4 or 5 star reviews before deciding if it’s the book for you or not.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read this book. I really wanted to love it.

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

At every Thanksgiving there are two tables — the kiddie table and the adult table. So why in the world would an 8-year-old girl be stuck at the kiddie table? She is NOT a baby. She is NOT a toddler. She is a grown-up! She can do two-digit multiplication and knows how to cut her own food. She deserves to be at the adult table! And after an empowered speech and mini-breakdown, the girl is moved to the adult table. Growing up is never easy, and author Colleen Madden brilliantly tackles that issue in this delightful picture book.

A Loud Winter’s Nap – Katy Hudson

This book is so adorable! With a lovely story and gorgeous, detailed illustrations, it’s sure to be a hit with children and parents alike. While Tortoise just wants to go to sleep until spring, his friends want to include him in their fun winter activities. When Tortoise accidentally joins in he realises that maybe some tortoises do like winter after all.

I loved Tortoise’s teddy bear and I enjoyed seeing all of the different facial expressions of the animals in this story. This story would be fantastic to help teach children about friendship and could also be used to help them understand how people are feeling by their facial expressions.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read this book. I adore everything about this book and hope it finds its way into homes and libraries everywhere. I’ll be revisiting this book many times. It’s one of those books you read with a smile on your face.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Every year Tortoise sleeps through winter. He assumes he isn’t missing much. However, his friends are determined to prove otherwise! Will Tortoise sleep through another winter, or will his friends convince him to stay awake and experience the frosty fun of winter? Best-selling author Katy Hudson’s charming picture book, now in a board book format, will convince even the biggest winter grouche that winter can be magical if you have friends by your side.