Megabat – Anna Humphrey

Illustrations – Kass Reich

Spoilers Ahead! (in purple font)

Daniel’s family has just moved to a new town. He misses his friends and isn’t looking forward to starting a new school where he doesn’t know anyone. It doesn’t help that he’s sure his new room is haunted.

It turns out the ghost is actually a talking fruit bat, who is also a long way from home. Megabat loves smoosh-fruit, buttermelon and Star Wars.


Daniel is determined to return Megabat to Papaya Premium. These new friends are going to have to channel the Force if they’re going to succeed in their mission.

This was a really cute story for younger readers, with a focus on friendship. I loved Kass Reich’s illustrations, particularly those featuring Megabat.


It did lose me a bit at the end when Megabat asked Birdgirl, his pigeon friend, to marry him but I’m probably overthinking it.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tundra, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Daniel Misumi has just moved to a new house. It’s big and old and far away from his friends and his life before. AND it’s haunted … or is it?

Megabat was just napping on a papaya one day when he was stuffed in a box and shipped halfway across the world. Now he’s living in an old house far from home, feeling sorry for himself and accidentally scaring the people who live there. 

Daniel realises it’s not a ghost in his new house. It’s a bat. And he can talk. And he’s actually kind of cute. 

Megabat realises that not every human wants to whack him with a broom. This one shares his smooshfruit. 

Add some buttermelon, juice boxes, a lightsaber and a common enemy and you’ve got a new friendship in the making!

Red Sky at Night – Elly MacKay

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.

Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning!

I grew up knowing these by heart but it turns out there are plenty of weather sayings that have bypassed me entirely. The text in this children’s book is made up of some well known and some more obscure weather sayings, with some information about how accurate they are included at the end.

It’s only when you look at the illustrations that you learn the book’s story. A grandfather takes his grandchildren out on a boat. They fish, swim and camp overnight before returning home just before a storm.

My two favourite illustrations feature an owl

and a whale.

As I read this book I imagined the grandfather paying attention to the weather and explaining the saying that matched each weather condition to his grandkids. I know I think of my grandfather and smile whenever someone mentions the sayings associated with sailors.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight. And, the next morning, when the dew is on the grass, no rain will come to pass. These are the perfect conditions for a grandfather to take his grandchildren out on a fishing trip. Especially since, as the saying goes, when the wind is from the West, then the fishes bite the best. The family takes a boat out on the lake, fishing and swimming and eventually camping out on a nearby island, taking full advantage of the gorgeous weather. But the next day … red sky in the morning, sailors take warning! The family ventures back home just in time to avoid a rainstorm. But not to worry – the more rain, the more rest. Fair weather’s not always best.

Acclaimed paper artist Elly MacKay illustrates a lovely family narrative through the use of weather aphorisms, creating a beautiful and informational story which will appeal to children’s timeless fascination with the natural world.

The Magician’s Secret – Zachary Hyman

Illustrations – Joe Bluhm

“The imagination is the most powerful force in the world.”

Charlie loves spending time with his Grandpa, who not only used to be a magician but also lets him eat sugary treats. They have the most fun, though, when they explore the contents of the Magic Story Chest, an old wooden trunk in the attic.

Grandpa can weave the most marvellous tales from the seemingly ordinary objects in that trunk, adventures that come alive in Charlie’s imagination. An hourglass from Tut’s tomb.

The Red Baron’s scarf.

Grandpa even has an exciting story to tell about a coconut shell.

When Charlie’s father tells him that Grandpa’s stories aren’t true, Charlie isn’t sure what to believe so he asks Grandpa about it.

This is such a lovely story about the magical bond between grandparents and grandkids, and the importance of imagination. I adored Charlie’s Grandpa and wanted to keep investigating the contents of the Magic Story Chest with him. I bet he still had lots of wonderful stories left to tell. I would happily read this story over and over again.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

This action-adventure picture book featuring a grandfather and grandson duo celebrates the power of imagination and the magic of make believe.

Charlie loves when Grandpa comes to babysit because he always brings his magical imagination. Grandpa was a magician who knows the most amazing tricks; he can pull a rabbit from a hat and make a coin disappear. But what Charlie loves most are his wonderful adventure stories, and they all begin with something his grandfather has saved in his Magic Story Chest.

An hourglass is a reminder of how he defended the treasure in King Tut’s tomb from raiders. A long white scarf inspires the story about Grandpa’s dogfight with the notorious Red Baron, the great First World War fighter pilot. A coconut shell heralds the story about his encounter with a nasty Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Charlie’s parents, though, aren’t too sure they like Grandpa’s stories and warn Charlie that they’re just “tall tales.” What is Charlie to believe? How can his grandpa convince him that all you need to do is believe and a dream can be turned into something real?

Sir Simon: Super Scarer – Cale Atkinson

So many pop culture references! I love this book!

I’ve read it twice so far and I picked up so much more the second time around. I began to suspect something was up when I began to find random Stephen King references in the illustrations early on during my first read. I started specifically looking for them and found more of those and plenty of other beauties. I won’t tell you all of the references I found because that would take all the fun out of finding them yourself but some of the standouts for me were:

  • Pennywise
  • 237
  • Slimer
  • Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
  • Jason’s mask
  • Freddy Krueger’s shirt
  • Audrey II
  • A cat clock that looked suspiciously like it was borrowed from Doc Brown.

And my absolute favourite? The Proton Vac!

That’s nowhere near all of the ones I’ve found and I’m under no illusion that I’ve found them all – yet!

Oh, and the story’s a lot of fun as well. Sir Simon Spookington has haunted a lot of things in his career but this is his first time haunting a house. He’s excited to be haunting grandparents as old people are on top of The Pyramid of Haunting. With his free time (because, as we all know, old people sleep all the time! 😜) Sir Simon is looking forward to working on his novel, but things don’t exactly go to plan.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A delightful, funny story of friendship, ghost chores, a spooky house and a professional haunter.

Meet Sir Simon, Super Scarer. He’s a professional ghost who has been transferred to his first house. And just in time! He was getting tired of haunting bus stops and forests and potatoes. And to top it off, this house is occupied by an old lady – they’re the easiest to haunt!

But things don’t go as planned when it turns out a KID comes with this old lady. Chester spots Simon immediately and peppers him with questions. Simon is exasperated … until he realises he can trick Chester into doing his ghost chores. Spooky sounds, footsteps in the attic, creaks on the stairs – these things don’t happen on their own, you know!

After a long night of haunting, it seems that maybe Chester isn’t cut out to be a ghost, so Simon decides to help with Chester’s human chores. Turns out Simon isn’t cut out for human chores either.

But maybe they’re both cut out to be friends …

Trampoline Boy – Nan Forler

Illustrations – Marion Arbona

Trampoline Boy is a lovely picture book about friendship, acceptance and perspective. Trampoline Boy spends all of his time jumping up and down on his trampoline. The other children think he’s weird. Peaches stops one day and watches Trampoline Boy bouncing up and down. Each day she watches Trampoline Boy until one day when she whispers,

“Trampoline Boy, I wish I could see what you see up there in that blue, blue sky.”

Trampoline Boy stops bouncing for the first time. Taking Peaches by the hand, Trampoline Boy allows her to join him and together they bounce. Peaches finds out what the world looks like from up high and together they see what all of the people on the ground are missing out on.

The illustrations are colourful and interesting. I loved that Trampoline Boy doesn’t allow the kids who think he’s weird stop him from being himself and doing what he enjoys.

I loves Peaches’ interest in what Trampoline Boy is doing and how she quietly observes him before asking to see what he sees.

This book works as both a story about a boy who loves bouncing on his trampoline and as a deeper story about the value of friendship, accepting and seeking to understand other peoples differences, and how seeing things from a different perspective can show you points of view that you’ve never imagined seeing.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A lyrical picture book about the joy of jumping – and a springboard for discussion about unique perspectives.

Through the eyes of a character we only know as Trampoline Boy, we are invited to understand how he sees the world. His favourite thing to do is jump up and down, up and down on his trampoline. Kids walk by and tease him, but he remains steadfast and calm. One day, a quietly exuberant girl, Peaches, is fascinated by his jumping. Trampoline Boy wordlessly invites her to jump with him, and by spending this time with him, Peaches and readers get to see how important and valuable different perspectives are. 

Wolfie & Fly #2: Band on the Run – Cary Fagan

Illustrations – Zoe Si

Renata Wolfman (AKA Wolfie) is an introvert loner nerd and I adored her! She doesn’t do extra classes like pottery or drama, and detests pink and dressing up, but loves reading about helicopters, alone time and her ‘uniform’ of a white t-shirt, overalls and sneakers. She’s snarky and spends a fair amount of her time (when she’s not involved in something she’s passionate about) underwhelmed.

Wolfie’s next-door neighbour Fly (a much better name than the one his parents gave him – Livingston Flott!) is quite the opposite of Wolfie. Fly is an extrovert, could talk under water and is a bundle of energy and enthusiasm. He also has a limited grasp on boundaries: Wolfie stands by the door telling him he can’t come in so he climbs in the window instead.

Wolfie’s parents are trying to encourage her to get more involved in activities including dance class, during which Wolfie’s ingenuity mixed with her stubborn to make me laugh. Later Fly drops by (through the window) and somehow manages to convince her to become the drummer in his Hokum Street Public School talent show entry.

I loved Wolfie’s character so much and I was really enjoying the story until the imagination sequence, during which the book lost me and I wandered somewhat aimlessly until the end. Wolfie and Fly: Band on the Run is the second book in the series and I confess that I haven’t read the first. Therefore, I may be missing something vital so please don’t let my review dissuade you from giving this series a chance.

On to the section that lost me. Wolfie tells Fly she’s not sure she has an imagination. Fast forward a couple of pages and the imagination sequence begins, and is so real to both kids that they’re shocked when they wind up back in Wolfie’s kitchen once it’s finished. Then there’s an element in the story later that implies the imagination sequence was reality.

Now, I have a lot more imagination than sense and I can suspend my disbelief for all things weird and wacky. However this sequence didn’t seem to fit well with the feel of the rest of the book. It felt off to me and while I was happily immersed from the first page, as soon as the imagination sequence began I found myself surfacing, reading words rather than experiencing an adventure.

I adored Zoe Si’s illustrations. They suited the story and the expressions of Wolfie and Fly worked perfectly given their descriptions. Wolfie’s surly, pouty grimaces were as on point as Fly’s energetic bubble of happy. My favourite illustration was the adorable stuffed toy audience patiently waiting for the performance to begin.

Favourite passage:

“Hurray! At last Wolfie had the house to herself. There was nothing she liked better than being alone. Now she could read her book in peace.”

Now that’s a girl I can relate to! 😃

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A classic story of imagination, friendship, rock bands and high-speed helicopter chases. For fans of Ivy & BeanJudy Moody or Nate the Great.

Everyone’s favourite odd couple is back. Our heroine, Renata Wolfman (Wolfie) does everything by herself. Friends just get in the way, and she only has time for facts and reading. But friendship finds her in the form of Livingston Flott (Fly), the slightly weird and wordy boy from next door. This time, Fly has convinced Wolfie to join him in his one-man band. Before they know it, they’re playing live onstage in front of a stadium of screaming fans. But these fans are about to get out of control – and Wolfie and Fly have to make a daring escape!

Even though Wolfie thinks she’d rather be at home reading by herself, playing the drums in a rock band is actually pretty fun. Maybe there is something to this friend thing.

From the Heart of Africa: A Book of Wisdom – Eric Walters (compiler)

From the Heart of Africa: A Book of Wisdom comprises of aphorisms (sayings), where they originated and their meaning, every saying accompanied by an illustration. Each illustration is the work of an individual artist, all of which have brief bios at the end of the book.

The compiler of these sayings, Eric Walters, co-founded an organisation focused on the Mbooni District in Kenya called Creation of Hope. This organisation supports orphans and a portion of the proceeds of this book will be donated to assist with the childrens’ education.

My Compassion daughter lives in Kenya so I have a soft spot for the people of this country. What I particularly like about what I’ve learned about Creation of Hope is that while its co-founder is a Canadian man, it’s a Kenyan program run by Kenyan people.

I enjoyed the sayings in this book but wanted there to be so many more. There were only 15 sayings included, most I’d heard some variation of before but also a couple that were new to me. The meanings were fairly basic and easily understood.

For me this book was all about the illustrations, the majority of which were vibrant and absolutely stunning. My personal favourite illustration was by Eugenie Fernandes and depicts the saying,

“When in the middle of a river, do not insult the crocodile.”

I adored the detail of the animals and the gorgeous colours. I’m no art critic but I want a copy of this illustration and I definitely need to seek out more of this artist’s work.

My two favourite sayings in the book were

“Rain does not fall on one roof alone.”


“I pointed out to you the stars, but all you saw was the tip of my finger.”

Suitable for children and adults alike, this would make a beautiful addition to school and public libraries, and as a gift or coffee table book.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A collection of African wisdom gorgeously illustrated by artists from Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Canada, the United States and more.

Aphorisms are universal. They give guidance, context and instruction for life’s issues, and they help us understand each other and the world around us. We use them every day, yet never think about where they came from or why they exist. 

In this beautifully illustrated collection, Eric Walters brings us classic sayings from the places where this shared wisdom began. Ashanti, Sukuma, Akan and Kikuyu: all of these cultures use the portable and easily shared knowledge contained in aphorisms, and from these cultures and more this communal knowledge spread. 

This book is a celebration of art, of community and of our common history.