Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bear-ly There by Rebekah Raye **Review & Blog Tour**

Bear-ly There by Rebekah Raye
Geared Towards: Ages 8-11
Published By: Tilbury House
Publication Date: September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-88448-314-4

I grew up in an area of the country where most everyone is accustomed to having black bears around. Even if you don't actually see them you know they are there, lurking in the woods waiting for the sun to go down so they can venture out to investigate the people world around them. There it's fairly common to spot one of these brave and curious creatures rifling through the garbage or sauntering around. However, now I live in the city, and while I'm still familiar with country life, my own daughters are not. That's why I really enjoyed the opportunity I was recently given by Tilbury House Publishing to review their new release Bear-ly There written and beautifully illustrated by author Rebekah Raye.

When bear awakes from his long Winter slumber, he is hungry and ready to explore. But when he suddenly smells something sweet wafting through the air, bear is no longer interested in the worms and acorns he's found buried deep in the ground. No. What he wants is what he smells, and what he smells is hidden inside a locked, wooden shed just beyond the woods.

After the bear tears in to Charlie's family's storage shed, seeking out the delicious smelling bird seed that had lured him there, Charlie is left fearing for the lives of his geese. They were safe in their own shed at the time, but another visit from the bear could end on a not so lucky note. With that, Charlie takes the opportunity to begin researching his wild visitor. Not only can his family take measures to help insure that the bear does not return, but so can their neighbors. It's a joint effort that everyone, including the bear, can benefit from.

Bear-ly There is a great story about a boy who sets out to protect his pet geese and in the process saves the bear he was protecting them from. With charming illustrations to accompany it, this story is one that children and adults both will enjoy reading. What's more is that you could even say there's a moral to the story; one that suggests that life is precious and everyone- everything has a place and purpose. Who wouldn't love that message?

OUR RATING: 4 hearts

Now for some fun...

Rebekah has graciously offered to contribute some of her beautiful wildlife artwork (see samples of her work, in addition to the signed books that Tilbury will be giving away. So that's a total of 10 fantastic prizes during this tour!

Blog Comment Prizes

Tilbury will draw 9 lucky winners from all of those who leave comments on the participating tour posts from (October 16-30) to win one of the following prizes:
- A set of four art cards (2 sets available)
- A signed wildlife art print
- An original sketch from Bear-ly There
- An original sketch from The Very Best Bed
- An original sketch from Thanks to the Animals
- A copy of Bear-ly There, The Very Best Bed, or Thanks to the Animals, signed by Rebekah Raye

Winners will be announced on Oct. 31, US/Canada addresses only, please.

Twitter Prize

Everyone that participates in the Twitter Book Party, and/or posts anything about the tour using the hashtag #Bear-ly There from October 15-30 will be entered to win a complete set of Bear-ly There, Thanks to the Animals, and The Very Best Bed, all signed by Rebekah Raye. Winners will be announced on Oct. 31, US/Canada addresses only, please.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Messy Tessy by Leah Orr

Messy Tessy by Leah Orr
Illustrated By: Josephine Lepore
Geared Towards: Ages 2-5
Published By: AuthorHouse
Publication Date: August 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4389-9398-0

When I first received an invitation to review Messy Tessy by Leah Orr I thought it sounded like it could be kind of cute. Here's the synopsis from the book's cover, "While babysitter Aunt Fran is asleep, Messy Tessy finds humorous and amusing ways to entertain herself. With every turn of the page enjoy the mischief that unfolds." What little kid doesn't get in to some mischief, right? But when I actually received and read the book, I have to say I was a little disappointed.

In the story the little girl, Messy Tessy, is left to entertain herself while mommy is out and the babysitter falls asleep. She makes do reading to her dollies, painting, playing salon, and just generally having fun. And truthfully, the story itself was cute enough. However, I really didn't like how it promoted the idea of coloring on the walls, destroying the dolls by painting on them and cutting their hair, and even the little girl cutting her own hair. These are things that little girls are likely to discover and attempt on their own, but as a mother of two little girls I'd honestly prefer not to give them any ideas. Does that make sense? Maybe I'm reading too much into things, but I just can't bring myself to read this to my daughters. I'm really sorry.

I do completely and one hundred percent though applaud the author's vision she's working towards attaining by publishing this book, as well as the two others she has written. This vision is one that goes a long way towards helping people just like her own daughter. This vision is to help find cure for the many affected by Cystic Fibrosis. While this story itself does not in any way touch on CF, the author and her family intend to put all money earned from the sale of this book directly into the hands of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. What a noble cause!

With the above in mind, I'd like to recommend the purchase of this book. Whether or not you like the book itself you'll know your contribution via your purchase has gone to a good cause.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Congratulations, Sarah_Elizabeth!

You have been randomly selected (via Limmy's Raffle King) to win your very own, fresh from the publisher, copy of The Princess and the Three Knights by Karen Kingsbury. You didn't leave a way for me to contact you, so please e-mail me ( within 7 days in order to claim your prize. Thanks!!!

And to everyone else who entered this giveaway, thank you so much! I wish I had enough copies of the book to go around, but unfortunately I do not. You really won't be disappointed with The Princess and the Three Knights though, so be sure to pick up a copy soon.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baby Owl's Rescue by Jennifer Keats Curtis

Baby Owl's Rescue by Jennifer Keats Curtis
Illustrated By: Laura Jacques
Geared Towards: Ages 4-8
Published By: Sylvan Dell
Publication Date: September 2009
ISBN: 978-1-934359-95-2

It's widely proclaimed that should you ever find a lost baby animal in the wild that you should never ever mess with it. Theories differ, but some say the parent may abandon the baby because it senses your presence. Others say that the baby could be abandoned and left for dead because the parent may be frightened by your smell on their young. But what if you found a baby bird or animal that would be in actual danger from other outside sources or predators? Is it then okay to intervene?

In her book Baby Owl's Rescue, author Jennifer Keats Curtis, offers a wonderful story and example of how you could involve yourself were you to ever stumble across a lone baby animal that looked like it could use help. The animal in question in Curtis's book, is as the title suggests, a baby owl. Fallen from his home high in the trees, the young bird is unable to fly back up to his nest. Maddie and Max know, however, that even though the baby owl appears to need help that they should never involve themselves without first consulting an adult. In this instance they go to their mother, who just so happens to be a wildlife rehabilitator.

Mom knows that every case differs and that no real plan of action should be taken until you've thoroughly looked at all the variables in each individual situation. Does it look like that baby is hurt? Is danger eminent if you don't assist the baby? Have you failed to see the parent return within a reasonable time? Is it possible mom or dad have simply gone off to forage for food and that they'll be back soon, in which case they can then assist their baby themselves? These are all great questions you must consider if and when you are trying to determine if action should be taken on behalf of a wild animal who appears to need help.

In this story, after considering all of their options, Max and Maddy's mom determines that they should help. The baby owl is too young and small to fly back up to its high nest, yet left alone on the ground it could easily become prey for a hungry predator. It's not as simple as just picking it up and plunking it in to the nest though. Even when the decision to intervene has been made, a human's involvement with a wild animal baby should still be minimal, at best. No one wants to inadvertantly cause more harm to the unsuspecting creature. However, with a little knowledge and creative planning, mom and the kids are able to rescue the baby owl and easily get it back to safety.

It's a great story with a happy ending!

But don't think the fun stops there. No, of course not. This is a Sylvan Dell publication which means there's a fantastic "Creative Minds" section to be found at the back of the book. It's full of educational owl fun facts, activities, games and more. It's so great that young readers likely won't even catch on to the fact that they're learning something until it's too late. Now if that's not a education in disguise I don't know what is!

OUR RATING: 4 hearts

Friday, October 2, 2009

*~*Princess Picture Book Giveaway*~*

Would you like to win the little princess in your life a copy of Karen Kingsbury's delightful new hardback picture book, The Princess and the Three Knights? Well, thanks to the ever so generous Lindsey R. at Zonderkidz, I am pleased to announce that you can do so right here at Ready Set Read Reviews.

To enter you can do can do some or all of the following, but you must at least do the first. Your name will go in the hat one time for each entry that I receive from you. (Please note: Due to the cost of postal prices, I'm afraid I must limit this giveaway to those with US addresses only.) Also, please make sure to include you a way to contact you with each comment.

1. Check out my previous blog post containing my review for The Princess and the Three Knights, and leave me a comment there and then again on this post confirming your entry. (This is a must for entry. Without this step, all other entries will be null and void.)

2. Leave a post here telling me what your favorite traditional romantic fairy tale is. Extra entry if you tell me why.

3. Add my button and/or a link to Ready Set Read Reviews to your sidebar, then comment here with a link back to confirm your entry.

4. Blog about this giveaway, including a link to this post, and comment back with a link to your own post.

5. Twitter about this giveaway. Be sure to leave your Twitter id in your entry comment.

6. Stumble, Digg, etc this post at least once, and link back in your entry comment.

7. Become a Ready Set Read Reviews follower. There's a box on the right sidebar on the main page. For one entry, leave a comment saying you've done so. Or if you're already a follower, just let me know.

8. Sign up for e-mail updates from Ready Set Read Reviews. Leave the e-mail address ("name at gmail dot com" format is fine) you signed up with in your comment for one entry.

That's a minimum of 10 entry options; so get to it!

I'll leave this contest posted for 2wks. That'll bring me back around to pay day so I'll have the money to put the book in the post right away after doing a random draw from all entries to select a lucky winner.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL WHO ENTER! It really is a great book, so don't let this opportunity pass you by. :)

The Princess and the Three Knights by Karen Kingsbury

The Princess and the Three Knights by Karen Kingsbury
Illustrated By: Gabrielle Grimard
Geared Towards: Ages 4-7
Published By: Zonderkidz
Publication Date: September 2009
ISBN: 978-0-3107-1641-9

As the mother of two little girls, and as a little girl once myself, I am no stranger to fairy tales. In most there's always a beautiful princess who wants to be loved and rescued by a handsome prince. He can be brave. He can be noble. Rarely, however, do the stories show us any real character on either party's behalf. Usually the prince just has to be good looking and come with a title and that automatically makes him a suitable candidate to take the hand of the princess. Or, if he's not an automatic shoe in then there's usually a duel or some other physical challenge which takes place to help narrow down the selection to a single suitor.

That is all fine and dandy, and truthfully I have enjoyed these fairy tales as much as most. Yet, I've often wondered, and have seen discussed many times online, why do fairy tales seem to never show the princess being claimed by a prince, or even just a regular guy, who sees more than just her money and beauty? They're make believe stories so no one expects them to be fully realistic, and still when little girls read these enchanting tales they get continually hit with the idea that looks and money are everything. That's a pretty deceptive message if you ask me.

What if an author was to take the bold step and write a fairy tale that still incorporates all the beauty and wonder of it's earlier counterparts but also added more substance to the characters? What if someone wrote a fable about a princess who was desired for more than just her delicate looks and heavy coin purse?

Apparently Karen Kingsbury, author of The Princess and the Three Knights, was of the same opinion because this new picture book, out in September 2009 from Zonderkidz, brings together the wonder of a princess's courtship with the idea that there's more to her than her fairness and wealth.

When the king's lovely daughter matures to the age of marriage he finds that she has many prospective suitors. But as is always the case, there are more than not who see the princess as a prize to be had not for the sake of the pleasure their unity would spark but for the benefits it would allow. The king knows his precious daughter is beauteous but unlike many he recognizes her beauty is more than skin deep. Wanting nothing less than perfect for his little girl, the king sets out to find the one knight who is most likely to love the princess for who she is and not for what she looks like or what family she comes from.

It's a refreshing point of view to see coming from fairy tale styling. It's brilliant how Kingsbury has managed to string together a romantic fable written to this particular age bracket that not only shows the importance of including God in all your relationships but also shows little girls that true love, not beauty or status, thought both of these can be wonderful to have, should be the given priority. She's taken everything that little girls find appealing in traditional romantic fairy tales, and she's blended them with these more realistic and Godly ideas to create a really good, really well rounded story!

Never mind the simply gorgeous illustrations by Gabrielle Grimmard. The cover alone will mesmerize you and call you to pick up the book. I swear, this is a book that will appeal to any little girl who dreams of one day being swept off her feet by her knight in shining armor.

OUR RATING: 5 hearts

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Winnie the Pooh is back!!

It's been almost 84 years since Winnie the Pooh made his debut. That fuzzy little tummy all stuffed with fluff has been the focus of A.A. Milne's and E.H. Shepard's two classic books, Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corners, and it's been featured in many more contemporary styled picture books and cartoons. But now after nearly 80 years, fans of the original classics can rejoice because on October 5th, 2009 Winnie the Pooh will be back in his first authorized sequel in over 80 years!

From the press release (found at the Penguin Group website) -

Michael Brown, for the Trustees of the Pooh Properties, who manage the affairs of the A. A. Milne and E.H. Shepard Estates said, "We have been hoping for a good many years that we might one day be able to offer the world a sequel which would do justice to the original Winnie-the-Pooh stories. The original books were one of the greatest celebrations of childhood in any language, but we believe that David Benedictus and Mark Burgess have captured the spirit and quality of those original books. We hope that the many millions of Pooh enthusiasts and readers around the world will embrace and cherish these new stories as if they had just emerged from the pen of A. A. Milne himself."

Don Weisberg, President of Penguin's Young Readers Group commented, "Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin are an integral part of so many children's reading experience. We are privileged to be part of this adventure to bring new tales to a generation of young people in the United States."

David Benedictus's manuscript was inspired by his familiarity with Winnie-the-Pooh's adventures after having worked on Audio CD adaptations of previous Winnie-the-Pooh stories. David has collaborated with illustrator Mark Burgess to create what is sure to become another treasured Winnie-the-Pooh book.

Is anyone else excited?! I know I certainly am. The original Winnie the Pooh books were timeless and I am very anxious to see what new author David Benedictus has to offer. If you're as excited as I am and can't wait until Monday for the book to hit the shelves, then be sure to visit the Penguin Group page here where you can learn more about the books and characters, and where you can download an exerpt from the first chapter of Return to the Hundred Acre Wood. Plus while you're there, don't forget to check out the video clip of award-winning narrator Jim Dale the Exposition to the book. It's no wonder he's won awards, his voice is perfection.

Get ready people because this is going to be great!

Before you go, how about a few random fun Winnie the Pooh facts?
  • Winnie the Pooh was brought to life on Christmas Eve in 1925 when the first Pooh story, written by AA Milne, was published in the London Evening News. The piece was based on a bedtime story read by AA Milne to his son, Christopher Robin.

  • The characters in AA Milne's stories are based on toys once owned by his son. The original stuffed toys are now kept in New York Public Library.

  • The inspiration for Hundred Acre Wood comes from Ashdown Forest in Sussex, which was near AA Milne's country home Cotchford Farm.

  • Winnie the Pooh is also called Pooh, or Pooh Bear, but never, ever, just Winnie.