Children’s Guide to Writing a Book Review

 After you return home from a vacation or a trip, you are either excited to tell friends and family about your awesome adventure, or you are aching to complain of the disappointments. The activities that you were involved in, the food you ate, the sight-seeing and the sceneries are a few details that you may include. Your review of this trip may have an influence on your audience. Your friends may not want to experience a trip if you described how filthy the hotels were and how horrible the food tasted. They may not want to do any of the activities that you expressed as boring. If you had a great time and everything on your trip or vacation went well, your friends and family will share in that excitement, influencing them to want to take that trip. Writing a review for a book you have read is a lot like giving your ideas and opinions for a trip.

Without spoiling the outcomes, including hints of the main details and events will give your audience an overview and subtle insight on what to expect from the text. Book reviews are to convey opinions, not facts. It is a type of criticism in literature that breaks down and surveys the content and its style, along with its worthiness.

What Should Be Included in a Book Review?

Title, Genre, and Author.

Mentioning other titles by the author or in the genre may give your audience some notion as to what other literature can be compared. Providing your reader with familiar titles will lessen their need to do further research the book in question. Did you feel this book fit in with the intended genre? Does the author make the reader feel included or pulled in? Also, be fair to the author by balancing compliment and criticism. Do some research and include the author’s previous accomplishments and works.

Narrator and Tone.

No matter what point-of-view a story is told from, there is an emotional charge in the narrator’s tone. It may be positive, negative, or indifferent. There are a few things to consider when explaining narration and tone in your book review. Who narrated the story? What point of view was the story told from? What is the narrator’s attitude toward the audience and/or the characters?

Main character(s), Setting, and Plot.

Present the main character(s) and the setting without giving too much away. Remember to sparsely use direct quotes from the author’s text. Give your outlook of how you felt the character was depicted. Create an image of what the time-period was and a brief guideline to the plot, avoiding all key events or details that will ruin the reader’s curiosity.


What was the message? What can or may be learned from this book? Again, without giving away key information, grace your audience with your understanding of the book and its meaning. Also include your view on what type of audience this book is meant for and include the author’s purpose.

May include publication information, edition, ISBN, book list price, special graphs, maps, or illustrations.

Where to Begin

Here are some tips that will help get you going on the right foot:

  • Take some time and read a few book reviews from the New York Times, Amazon, or a bookstore that provides reviews.
  • While reading the book, take notes as you go along.
  • After reading the book, dissect and divide the good and the bad. A cons and pros list may be very helpful. This is a way to make sure you not only critique, but give praise where due.

Although you are the reviewer and not the author, you still need to set your own tone for your review. Your attitude towards the author, the narrator, the characters, and any other elements, play well into giving your opinion. Your beginning sentence should make your audience eager and ready for a preview. A successful book review should grab like a movie trailer. When giving your opinion, you want to express why you did or did not enjoy the book or parts of the book. Point out places where you thought the story could have been better or what you felt the author missed. You are the critic, but stay fair. Are you discouraging or encouraging the audience? Would you suggest this book to others? Would you suggest reading more from this author? Elaborate thoroughly by answering why. This opinion piece is persuasive and influential, and your audience will appreciate the heads up.

Guidelines provided by book review writing company which helps students with writing academic papers.

Grandma’s Bookshelf: 3 New Gardening Books

I received copies of these books for review. This post has affiliate links.

New gardening books for my bookshelf

New gardening books for my bookshelf

I recently received three new gardening books that I want to share with you. All three are hardcover books. They are beautifully illustrated and have tons of good information inside. 

The Winter Garden

The first book is the Winter Garden by Emma Hardy. It is published by Cicco Books. Ms. Hardy shares her expertise on creating gardens in winter using foliage, flowers, berries, blooms, herbs, and produce. Four chapters give step by step instructions on how to do 35 projects that will bring the joy of gardening to your home in the winter months. 

Learn how to plant a miniature succulent garden; grow and bloom various bulbs in glass jars and bowls; make a colorful terrarium in a glass jar; and how to grow herbs and other edible plants in winter.  This was the first year that I planted a winter garden. It did ok. This coming winter, I will be armed with information in the Winter Garden to make my garden burst with color throughout the season.

The Balcony Gardener

The Balcony Gardener by Isabelle Palmer has creative ideas for small spaces. Whether you live in an apartment with a small balcony, or in a house on five acres like I do, you will find this book useful. In addition to planting things in the yard, I like to have containers on the porch where I can see, and smell, the things planted in them when I sit out there in the evening. I also have a disability, which makes normal gardening difficult for me. Planting flowers, herbs, and vegetables in containers placed around the porch lets me do more by myself, which is rewarding in more ways than one. Isabelle Palmer’s book has some very creative ideas for using unusual containers for planting, and has given me several ideas to put to the test this spring. For instance, she uses a pallet for planting an herb garden, leaning it on its side against a balcony railing.

Lunar & Biodynamic Gardening

Lunar & Biodynamic Gardening by Matt Jackson tells us about planting a biodynamic garden by the phases of the moon. I have to confess that I had no idea what “biodynamic gardening” was, until I found this description on

…Biodynamic gardening means taking a holistic approach to the garden and being aware of the interrelatedness of the soil, plants and vegetables. The principles of biodynamics also bring a spiritual aspect to the meditative art of gardening, emphasizing the influence of invisible energies, such as the lunar cycles, on the garden…

My Mother planted by the moon phases when she was still able to garden, and her tomatoes, squash, and green beans  out produced her neighbors every year. She had about 12 tomato plants and had enough tomatoes to can for herself, and give tomatoes to all 4 of her children and to the neighbors.

Matt Jackson writes:

Like moon gardeners, biodynamic gardeners closely follow the phases of the moon, as well as the alignments of the planers, stars, and our sun. However, this is neither the beginning nor the end of the biodynamic approach, as in its purest form it is also a holistic existence tht looks at life in a different way and recognizes the farm or garden as a single living organism which is directly connected with, and powerfully related to, the moon, the planets, and the stars. In fact, so is everything that springs forth from the farm or garden, including us. We may have forgotten how o listen to this, but plants have not, and ae completely in tune with the continual rhythms of nature. 

Lunar & Biodynamic Gardening is an interesting and informative read. I believe that it can help you get a bigger, healthier  yield from your crops . It is certainly worth giving it a try.

Jack Hanna’s Big Book of Why

I received a copy of Jack Hanna’s Big Book of Why for review. 

jack hannas big book of why

At some point in every child’s life they go through an animal phase. It makes sense that most children will eventually enter this phase because as soon as our toddlers can talk we start teaching them animals sounds, and of course animals are awesome. Nothing makes me smile faster than a litter of adorable puppies.

My son fell in love with animals as a toddler, but he never really outgrew that phase. When he entered elementary school he would come home and tell me about the birds he saw at school that day, and he knew everything about them. He could name any bird we saw while out in town and he could even tell the males from the females. I have to admit, I was impressed. I don’t personally find birds that interesting so to see how much he was learning at such an early age caused me to take notice.

It wasn’t long before we were watching Animal Planet at all hours, and Shark Week was like a weeklong celebration that led to lots of online research.

My son is now in Middle School and his love for animals hasn’t waned. He’s quite a dramatic character so I often tell everyone that my dream job for my son would be an animal show host. He has both the personality and the knowledge and love of animals.

If your son is anything like mine, chances are he devours all books on animals. I can’t even tell you how many books we own. We could start our own animal library. One of the newest books we have added to our collection is Jack Hanna’s Big Book of Why.

Jack Hanna’s Big Book of Why will take you and your child on a journey through the animal kingdom answering the questions children love to ask about animals. With 176 pages, this hardcover children’s book is organized by habitat—deserts, grasslands, forests, rainforests, the ocean and poles. It features close-up beautiful color photographs and illustrations. It also contains amazing animal facts and quizzes about your child’s favorite creatures from around the world.

Wondering what kind of questions Hanna’s new book answers?  Hanna says  “This book answers some of those tough animal related questions—Why don’t fish sink?  Why can’t penguins fly?—in a format that makes learning fun and easy for children!”

Those are some pretty tough questions, and I think any child would love learning the answers to them. I know my son did!

Jack Hanna’s Big Book of Why is $19.99 and you can purchase it here. What’s your child’s favorite animal book?

Thanks to Shasta over at Faithfully Free for guest writing this post for me. 

2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Books For The DIY’er From Quarto Books

xmas_gift 125logo3This post is sponsored by Quarto Books

white box

Everyone knows the do-it-yourselfer, that girl or guy who always has a project going on. These books are perfect gifts for the D-I-Y’er on your list:

The 5-Gallon Bucket

The 5-Gallon Bucket

The ubiquitous five-gallon bucket can do more than carry things!  It can also be hacked, hot-rodded, reengineered, and upcycled to create dozens of useful DIY projects for homeowners, gardeners, and hobbyists.  Each project has simple step-by-step instructions, as well as parts lists and images of the completed projects.  The wealth of projects collected in this book includes inventions that range from useful to just plain fun, and from as simple as it gets to fairly involved. These can serve apartment dwellers (Small-Room Air Conditioner, page 12); homeowners (Cyclone Dust Collector, page 34) and their children (Air Cannon, page 94); small farmers (Chicken Feeder, page 72); hobbyists (Post-Mounted Birdhouse, page 137); and even back-to-the-land homesteaders and survivalists (Camping and Composting Toilet, page 48).  The odds are good you’ll find something to make that’s fun and handy!  Available for purchase at Quarto and retails for $19.95. It is also available at in paperback or for Kindle.

Black & Decker Home Planner & Logbook

Black & Decker Home Planner & Logbook

Every homeowner should know the answer to these questions, and many more, but keeping up with every little thing can be a challenge. It helps if you have a system! That’s where the Black & Decker Home Planner & Logbook comes in. This book tells you what you need to know, how to get the information, and gives you lots of room to keep records about everything you do to your home, including:

  • House History
  • Financial Information and Warranties
  • Scheduled Maintenance Log
  • Appliances
  • Heating & Cooling
  • Repair Projects
  • Decorative Log including Paint & Floor Coverings
  • Outdoor Areas & Home Exterior

Why not just use a blank notebook? Because the Black & Decker Home Planner & Logbook is full of photos, illustrations, and tips to help you decode every system in your house, such as how to read a water meter or estimate the shelf life of paint.

The book is organized in four segments. The first three, “Understanding Your Home”, “Your Home’s Systems”, and “Your Appliances” gives a tour of the various components and systems of a home that need ongoing vigilance, inspection and maintenance. These are organized with intuitive logic, starting from the roof, moving down to the foundations and landscape, then moving indoors to examine the structural and surface elements, like walls and floors, and examining the appliances and other add-ons. The fourth section, “Home Logbook” is the journal itself, where the homeowner can document everything that has been done to the home, or who to call when your home needs attention.

Two large pockets attached to the back cover help you securely store receipts, warranties, manuals, and other documents, so you won’t have to scramble to find your plumber’s phone number during an emergency!  Whether you’re an avid-do-it-yourselfer or a novice to the complexities of owning a home, the Black & Decker Home Planner & Logbook is the all-in-one repository for keeping track of everything that’s done to your home

Preview the book here: Available for purchase at Quarto and retails for $24.99.  Also available on in Flexbound.

Barnyard Kids: A Family Guide to Raising Animals

Barnyard Kids: A Family Guide to Raising Animals

Parents and young kids now have a go-to resource to get started on raising chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, cows, horses, and rabbits. Written so parents and kids can read the book together, it’s filled with essential information, from choosing the right ones animals, to the work, time, and space that’s needed. Each chapter on each animal has four sections. “What Makes Them Tick” discusses food and water needs, hygiene, instincts and the animals’ social needs.  “What Makes Them Sick” includes signs and causes of illness, medical supplies and vaccination info.   “Where Do They Live” covers housing the animals.  “What Can They Give” covers just that – from the various by products each animal gives – from food to milk to the usefulness of excrement.

Kids have helped take care of animals for generations, learning responsibility and self-reliance  in the process. Barnyard Kids gives kids and parents the tools to dream about and plan for raising farm animals, empowering anyone who reads it to imagine a life with farm animals and make it real.

Preview the book here: Available for purchase at Quarto and retails for $24.99. Also available at in Flexbound and for Kindle.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Children’s Books from Quarto Children’s Publishing USA

xmas_gift 125logo3

I received books from Quarto for this post. 





When my children where babies and toddlers, I read to them every day. Their favorite toy when they were pre-school age was a record player that came with books on record. They could play the record, and follow along in their book. All three of them could read before they went to kindergarten. Books have always been on gift lists at our house–for birthdays, holidays, and other important days. Giving a child a book sets them off on an adventure, and expands their world. There are books from Quarto Children’s Publishing USA for every age group, some are story books, some are picture books, some are “how to” books for kids. Here are just a few of the titles available:  (scroll down to the bottom of this post to see the fab giveaway!)

Quarto Children's Books

Quarto Children’s Books

The School of Art
Learn How to Make Great Art with 40 Simple Lessons
Teal Triggs, Daniel Frost
Wide Eyed Editions  $19.99

23 Things To Do Before You are 11 1/2
A practical step-by-step guide for things to make in your backyard
John Haslam, Mike Warren
QEB Publishing  $14.99

101 Movies to See Before You Grow Up
Be your own movie critic: the must-see movie list for kids
Suzette Valle
Walter Foster Jr  $12.95

Crazy, Zany Cartoon Characters Drawing Book & Kit
Includes everything you need to draw crazy cartoon characters
Dave Garbot
Walter Foster Jr  $8.95

Learn to Draw Disney’s Frozen
Featuring Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and all your favorite characters!
Walter Foster Jr  $9.95

How to Cook in 10 Easy Lessons
Learn how to prepare food and cook like a pro
Wendy Sweetser
Walter Foster Jr  $12.95

How to Code in 10 Easy Lessons
Learn how to design and code your very own computer game
Sean McManus
Walter Foster Jr   $12.95

First Wheels: Colors
Features 22 vehicles and showing ten different colors  (My 2.5 year old grandson loved this book!)
Susan Steggall
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books  $17.99

Field Guide: Creatures Great and Small
35 prints to color
Valeries Davies, Lucy Engelman
Wide Eyed Editions  $19.99

How to Look After Your Puppy
Find answers to all your questions
Helen Piers, Kate Sutton
Wide Eyed Editions    $9.99

How to Look After Your Kitten
Find answers to all your questions
Helen Piers, Kate Sutton
Wide Eyed Editions  $9.99

My Little Book of Sharks
Packed full of cool photos and fascinating facts! (My 8 year old grandson loves this book!)
Camilla de la Bedoyere
QEB Publishing  $15.95

My Little Book of Animals
Packed full of cool photos and fascinating facts!
Camilla de la Bedoyere
QEB Publishing   $15.95

Welcome to the Greatest Show on Earth
Adrienne Barman
Wide Eyed Editions  $22.99

Ancient Earth Journal: The Early Cretaceous
Notes, drawings, and observations from prehistory
Juan Carlos Alonso, Gregory S. Paul
Walter Foster Jr   $19.95

Tell Me a Picture
Adventures in looking at art
Quentin Blake
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books  $18.99

A Journey Through Space
Take a journey through the solar system and beyond
Steve Parker, John Haslam
QEB Publishing   £9.99

Atlas of Adventures
A collection of natural wonders, exciting experiences and fun festivities from the four corners of the
Rachel Williams, Lucy Letherland
Wide Eyed Editions  $30.00

One Thousand Things
Let Little Mouse introduce you to this collection of first words to see and say.
Anna Kovecses
Wide Eyed Editions $16.99

The Wonder Garden
Wander through the world’s wildest habitats and discover more than 80 amazing animals
Jenny Broom, Kristjana S Williams
Wide Eyed Editions  $30.00

The 50 States
Explore the U.S.A with 50 fact-filled maps!
Sol Linero, Gabrielle Balkan
Wide Eyed Editions  $30.00

How to Build a Car
A highspeed adventure of mechanics, teamwork, and friendship
Martin Sodomka, Saskia Lacey
Walter Foster Jr  $14.95

The World Famous Cheese Shop Break-in
Daddypops says it will be as easy as 123 to get into the Cheese Shop…
Sean Taylor, Hannah Shaw
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books  $17.99

The Crow’s Tale
Courage and kindness are what really matter
Naomi Howarth
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books  $18.99

The Wild Swans
A beautiful and lyrical extended version of the fairy tale ‘The Wild Swans’ by Hans Christian Andersen Jackie Morris
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books $16.99

I Love Hugs
Hugs, cuddles, snuggles all are wonderful to share
Camilla de la Bedoyere
QEB Publishing $12.95

Dreams of Freedom
In Words and Pictures in association with Amnesty International UK
Amnesty International
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books   $18.99

My Big Book of Christmas Coloring, Songs & Activities
Holiday games, puzzles & activities for kids of all ages!
Walter Foster Jr  $9.95

150 Fun Christmas Things to Doodle
An interactive adventure in drawing holiday fun!
Christmas Crafts
Everything you need to get into the holiday spirit
Danielle Lowy, Kate Riley
QEB Publishing  $14.95

Spot the Reindeer at Christmas
Packed with things to spot and facts to discover!
Tasha Percy, Krina Patel
QEB Publishing  £4.99

Elliot’s Arctic Surprise
One little boy realizes that Santa Claus’s home is under threat from oil drilling.
Catherine Barr
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books  $17.99

With few exceptions, these are really nice hardback books that your child will treasure, and will be proud to pass on to their own children someday. The exceptions are the Christmas activity books and coloring books.

BUY IT: You can purchase any of these books and more at the Quarto Children’s Publishing USA website.

WIN IT: One lucky reader will win TEN CHILDREN’S BOOKS of their choice from the ones listed in this post. To enter the giveaway, use the Giveaway Tools form below. Good luck!

The Hand on The Mirror: Book Review

Grand Central Publishing sponsored this post

The Hand on the Mirror

The Hand on the Mirror

In 1979, my youngest brother, Bobby, died from injuries received in an accident. At the time of his death, he was in a hospital in Albany, Georgia. He had been hovering between life and death for three days. All of our family was there, spending as much time as we could at the hospital, just in case he regained consciousness and might be able to speak to us.

My brother Bobby about 3 months before he died.

My brother Bobby about 3 months before he died.

I was sleeping on the sofa in the intensive care waiting room, dreaming about my brother. In my dream,  he was walking away from me, towards a wooden fence at the other side of a meadow. On the other side of the fence, there were people waiting for him, waving for him to come on over, smiling at him. Bobby turned to look at me, smiled, waved, then turned around and continued to walk away from me.

I thought when I awoke that the dream meant that he was getting better. But suddenly, an alarm went off in the intensive care unit, and several doctors, nurses, and other hospital attendants ran into the small room where Bobby lay. About a half hour later, my brother’s doctor took my Mother and me into a conference room to tell us that Bobby had died.

My Mother was, of course, inconsolable. I did not shed a tear, because I know that Bobby came to me in his dream to tell me goodbye, and that he was happy to go.

I have not told this story to many people, but  I recently came across the book, The Hand on The Mirror by Janis Heaphy Durham.Here is a synopsis of the book, taken from the book website:

In 2004, Ms.    Heaphy Durham’s husband, Max Besler, died of esophageal cancer at age 56.  Heaphy Durham soon began encountering phenomena unlike anything she had ever experienced: lights flickering, doors opening and closing, clocks stopping at 12:44, the exact time Max died.  But then something startling happened that changed Heaphy Durham’s life forever. A powdery handprint spontaneously appeared on her bathroom mirror on the first anniversary of Max’s death. Incredibly, a similar image appeared on the second and third anniversaries as well. Clearly, something otherworldly was occurring.

This launched Heaphy Durham on a journey that transformed her spiritually and altered her view of reality forever. She interviewed scientists and spiritual practitioners along the way, as she discovered that the veil between this world and the next is thin and love is what bridges the two worlds.

Have you ever experienced anything paranormal, or “other worldly?” Do you believe in life after death? If so, you really do need to read this book. Download an excerpt here.

You may purchase The Hand on the Mirror: A True Story of Life Beyond Death at, or at Barnes and Nobles; Books-A-Million; Apple ibooks;; and

You can win a copy of The Hand on the Mirror. Use the Giveaway Tools entry form to enter.