My Favourite Animal: Dogs – Victoria Marcos

With plenty of photos and several questions to test comprehension along the way My Favourite Animal: Dogs is a non-fiction book marketed towards 4 to 8 year olds. Readers will learn some interesting facts about dogs including which are the smallest and largest breeds (measurements are in feet, inches and pounds), how they communicate and how exceptional some of their senses are.

Whether you’re reading this book to a child or whether they’re going it alone they may need a little help with some of the words used. There is a glossary at the end which should help explain more difficult words such as vocalisation or threatened.

Did you know that dogs “can hear sounds from four times as far away” as people can? I knew their hearing was better than ours but didn’t realise it was that much better. This is now my favourite dog fact. My family used to joke that our dog knew when our car was several suburbs away because she’d always get up (even if she’d been snoring seconds earlier) and look through the living room blinds at the road five minutes before the car would drive up the road.

The font is suitable for young readers, with nothing swirly to add unnecessary confusion about what each letter is. There are large areas of empty space around most of the text which gave me the impression the layout may not have been finalised. I would have personally been inclined to use a larger font and/or made adjustments to the spacing to address this. Although to be fair I should acknowledge that I used to be responsible for the layout of a community newspaper so I may be looking at this from my editor’s point of view.

Stock photos are used throughout this book and feature a range of breeds. I adored the brown pup with the floppy ears and head wrinkles who’s intrigued by some daisies. I feel bad (sort of) for laughing at the dog being groomed. They seemed to be trying to get the message across to their human with very intense eyes that they never agreed to anyone putting a pink elastic band in their fur.

When I checked out Victoria Marcos’ Goodreads page I discovered that she has written plenty of other My Favourite Animal books, from sharks to groundhogs. This is the sort of book I would have borrowed from my local library to use as a reference for school projects but I don’t think it would have been part of my personal library.

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Learn all about dogs in this informational picture book. Kids ages 4-8 will enjoy learning about dogs through beautiful photos, engaging text and fun questions to test comprehension throughout the book.

Secret Agent Josephine in Paris – Brenda Ponnay

I really liked the blurb for Secret Agent Josephine in Paris but was ultimately disappointed. I was looking for some girl power, as this female spy and her daughter (codename: Bug) travel to Paris on assignment to track down Sean Slippy, a renowned smuggler of forged art and rare birds. While it had potential, Secret Agent Josephine wasn’t the role model I was hoping she’d be. Instead of using her quick wit to apprehend this international smuggler, upon reaching Paris she decides to go shopping and sightseeing.

I did like the use of a case file to provide background information about Slippy but the interesting bits of information about him found in the file had no bearing on his eventual capture. It would have been useful to know ahead of time that several conversations would be in French. I’m sure I couldn’t pronounce the names of some of the locations they visited, so had I attempted to read this book to a child they would have been laughing so hard at me that they wouldn’t have gotten anything from the story anyway.

I’m unsure why this mother is taking her daughter undercover on spying missions but it’s a good thing she did as she’d probably still be locked in Slippy’s bathroom if it wasn’t for Bug’s assistance. I expect children will enjoy searching for Slippy poking his head out behind objects in the illustrations.

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

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

There’s a new super spy in town! 

Secret Agent Josephine may not look like a super mum, but when she goes to work, bad guys better watch out for her crafty tricks. 

In this Secret Agent Josephine adventure, our heroine travels to Paris to scope out some new craft supplies and stop an infamous art thief. Donning disguises and stocking up on the tools of her trade, Secret Agent Josephine tracks the thief through the streets of Paris. But when she’s spotted, will her crafting skills be able to get her out of a jam?

The Tooth That’s On the Loose! – Chris Robertson

This was a really enjoyable read. I love the Western take on having a loose tooth. Sheriff Tex tells us the story of a wanted tooth, T.B. Wiggly. He’s wanted because he’s going to leave a big ol’ hole in your mouth but there’s a reward for handing him over to the authorities.

As a kid most of my baby teeth refused to come out by themselves so I was trotted off to the dentist so they could torture treat me. My baby teeth were removed late so I would’ve been too old for this book by the time my teeth got their act together but for those whose teeth understand the concept of a timetable, this would be a great read to quell any anxieties. With quirky, fun illustrations this would be a good book for home, school and the dentist’s office.

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When a loose tooth shows up in town, the local sheriff must do what it takes to send that wiggly tooth packing. This funny approach to the classic childhood situation of loosing a tooth is a must read for home and classroom libraries. Chris Robertson’s playful art is sure to delight young readers who can’t wait to loose a tooth.

The (Not) Sleepy Shark – Tamia Sheldon

The (Not) Sleepy Shark is a cute bedtime story for little kiddies (👶🏽). It tells the story of Amelia the shark (🦈) who is unable to sleep one night and is bored so she meets up with some of her friends and finds out why they’re not sleeping either. We meet May the seahorse (🌊 🐴), a clownfish called Jester (🤡 🐟), Ada the turtle (🐢), Hanna the crab (🦀), Sasha the seal (🌊L), a large school of fish (🐟🐠🐟🐠), Olivia the octopus (🐙) and Lucy the whale (🐳).

Each friend Amelia meets has a reason they can’t fall asleep (except Lucy who’s ready for bed), mirroring the multitude of excuses reasons why kidlets will tell their parents why they can’t sleep yet … worries about bad dreams, wanting to tell jokes, needing a drink, too cold, too hot, annoyed by someone, hungry, and wanting to play. I personally excelled at the needing a drink trick. The payoff for going to sleep now is that tomorrow you’ll be rested and will wake up with plenty of energy.

I was disappointed that we never got to find out Amelia’s excuse reason for not being able to sleep. Whether it had something to do with the fact that there were no parents in sight during the entire book could’ve had something to do with it. Maybe Amelia was wanting to hang out with each of her friends because she was scared of having to go back to her cave all by herself?

I’ve loved sharks ever since I got over the trauma of watching Jaws for the first time at about 6 years old. You want a reason to not be able to sleep, kids? Just watch Jaws as a child with an overactive imagination. It’s one of my favourite movies now though. Go figure!!

So with my shark obsession in tow I decided I had to read this book. It was cute and I enjoyed it but felt like there was something lacking. I’ve pondered this for a few days now and I think my lack of connection to this book is because of the illustrations. Don’t get me wrong; they are nice pictures. It’s just none of the animals seemed to have personalities or individual little character traits that shone through.

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

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Amelia the shark is tired but she’s not ready to sleep. In this fun bedtime book, a silly shark explores the way other sea animals get ready for bed until she’s finally ready to say goodnight. 

Chirp – Dolores Costello

Chirp, the book and the sweet little chick, are so adorable. Chirp goes on an adventure through the red fence, past a cat and some turkeys. A gust of wind deposits him in a can of blue paint before he wanders back to his siblings.

Chirp and his siblings are the sweetest little balls of fluff on scrawny stick figure legs, and in only a few lines for their eyes and beak, their expressions are priceless. There’s a lot of white space surrounding the pictures but they’re brightly coloured and I feel extra detail would have detracted from the cute factor. The illustrations are so simple, not that I think for a minute I could replicate them. Art and I aren’t on the best of terms. I like it but it doesn’t like me so much. This book would be a helpful tool to teach your little ones primary colours.

Each of the five times I’ve read this book (so far), I’ve smiled from start to finish. It’s a lovely picture book that I’d happily read over and over. This would make a great bedtime story for your own adventurous little chicks.

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

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

When a little chick leaves the flock, he stumbles on to an adventure that will change him forever. This charming picture book from Dolores Costello is a cute read for little explorers.

There’s a Dog on the Dining Room Table – Elizabeth Maginnis

Illustrations – Annie Dwyer Internicola

There’s a Dog on the Dining Room Table is an adorable children’s book. I love dogs so requesting to read this book was a no brainer for me but I enjoyed it even more than I expected to. The rhymes flow really well and the illustrations complement the words. I loved seeing the dog transformed as each scenario for why the dog is on the dining room table is explored. I can imagine children giggling as they see the dog dressed up and engaged in different activities. The illustrations are lovely and imaginative.

If I was reading this book to a child I couldn’t simply read the book and be done. I’d have to make it into a game where the child and I come up with our own explanations for why the dog is on the dining room table. I loved the introduction of a new character at the end of the book and I’d definitely be asking the child I was reading with for other reasons why that character could be where it was.

I really enjoyed this book and appreciated that it encourages children to use their imaginations. Thank you very much to NetGalley and Xist Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

In this cute rhyming story about an unexpected visitor a little girl wonders why there is a dog on her dining room table. She imagines a world of funny scenarios for the new visitor, but not everyone is happy about his arrival.

The Dream Dragon – Kathryn England

Illustrations – Valeria Issa

Spoilers Ahead!

This story shows how what we experience throughout our days can show up in our dreams at night, in particular what we’re thinking about as we fall asleep. At the beginning of this story, the boy has a book about dragons on his bedside table and while he sleeps he is protected by a dream dragon.

The dream dragon wanted to be the boy’s main dream so it would be remembered in the morning. The dream dragon chased good dreams away and breathed fire on the bad dreams, until the boy learns about dinosaurs at school. The boy then has dream protectors in the forms of a T-rex, followed by a super hero, then a pirate. The dream dragon is sad that the boy no longer dreams of it, but at the end of the book a girl has a book about dragons on her bedside table…

Bedtime stories are powerful and this one would be a great tool to help children who experience nightmares. I love the idea of teaching children that the characters in their bedtime stories can be their own dream protectors, doing battle on the child’s behalf while they’re sleeping to help keep away bad dreams.

I liked the illustrations, none of which looked scary. The dream dragon itself is quite quirky and kind of adorable in an ugly cute kind of way.

Thank you very much to NetGalley and Xist Publishing for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

A dragon protects a child’s dreams from nightmares in this picture book perfect for bedtime. Bedtime stories inspires a series of dream protectors for a little boy. The dream dragon keeps the nightmares away and is joined by dinosaurs, pirates, super heroes and more in the quest to keep nighttime safe.