Kid Fic Roundup: 2 months

I have a child. You probably know this, as my brand is basically “poor nerds trying to raise a child with minimal psychological damage.” I read a lot, as does my husband. Proving that children learn by example, our child reads a lot as well.

What does this mean? It means that the median grade level of my reading materials has dropped significantly. That while sorting my Kindle alphabetically I end up with a hardcore menage erotica sandwiched in between a book about Abraham Lincoln and penguins… (Pun totally intended.)

But that’s okay. Actually, that’s better than okay. Because, truth is, there is some awesome fiction out there for kids and middle graders. So once every other month (the odd months, this time) I’ll be reviewing picture books, children’s chapter books, and middle grade fiction. I’ll let you know how I felt about them not only as art that my child consumes, but as a title I might have to read aloud.

Or that she might read aloud to me…

(In case you were wondering… this can be painful. I’m looking at you Go Dog, Go.)

So without further adieu…

Kid Fic Roundup, 4 months


Beauty and the Beast by An Leysen

Synopsis: Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a merchant with his two daughters. The eldest daughter was spoiled and vain, and the youngest preferred to read all day. She was so pretty everyone called her -Belle-. One day, the merchant got lost in the forest and stumbled upon a castle that looked enchanted. Suddenly, he stood face-to-face with the castle’s sole inhabitant: a beast! The Beast would spare the merchant’s life on one condition: he must send one of his daughters to live in the castle. Against her father’s will, Belle went to the Beast’s castle…. The cheerful Belle and the good-natured Beast come to life in this beautiful picture book by An Leysen. For everyone who loves timeless fairy tales.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 29 pages
Publication Date: October 1, 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Content Level: Picture Book
Rating: pass

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I’ve read a lot of failed reimagining of fairy tales, but usually the retellings are pretty okay. There always has to be an exception to the rule, though, and I fear this is it. The prose feels choppy and rushed in this version. So while the artwork is stunning, I’d recommend other versions of the story over this one.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Riley Can Be Anything by Davina Hamilton, Elena Reinoso

Synopsis: The inspiring rhyming story follows Riley as he discovers some of the wonderful things he can do when he grows up. With the help of his big cousin Joe, Riley is taken on a series of imaginative journeys that allow him to realise he can be anything he wants to be.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 24 pages
Publication Date: May 25, 2017
Genre: Inspirational rhyming… I don’t know. Why do I even have this here?
Content Level: Picture book
Trigger Warnings: no… why do I have THIS here?
Rating: fonts are serious business.

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I love this art style and the message that you can do or be whatever you want. I dug the rhyming scheme used in the book. My only complaint would be that the text wasn’t always easy to read against the artwork. In a market that is full of super awesome picture books, having text that stands out against the artwork is a must.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


(psst… when I saw the thumbnail of this next cover I thought the second word was “toast”)


Poetry for Kids: Robert Frost (Poetry for Kids) by Robert Frost, Jay Parini (Editor), Michael Paraskevas (Illustrations)

Synopsis:A collection to be read, experienced, and treasured.

Whether capturing a cold New England winter’s evening, or the beauty of an old, abandoned house, four-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Frost left an indelible mark on our consciousness. This stunning celebration of his best-loved work includes 35 poems specially chosen for children ages 8 to 14 by author and historian Jay Parini.

Illustrator Michael Paraskevas brings the poems to life with his pitch-perfect scenes, infused with majestic color and quiet simplicity. Poems include “Mending Wall,” “Birches,” “The Road Not Taken,” “Fire and Ice,” and “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,”

This gentle introduction also includes commentary, definitions of key words, and an introduction to the poet’s life.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 48 pages
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Genre: Poetry
Content Level: ages 9-12
Rating: look at me… enjoying Robert Frost and shit…

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I have a long and sordid history with Robert Frost… like many kids from New Hampshire who were forced to memorize too many of his poems and spend hours listening to every possible interpretation of his works and shut up Ian, no one cares what your mother’s college professor said about it. It’s not about suicide. It was about his friend taking the harder path because he was an idiot. Friend took the poem as approval, took the harder path, and died.

We literally just listened to that story.

So much of my life was spent in that particular argument that I remember it twenty years later…

But I’m older now, and wiser… so I can probably appreciate Frost’s work more than when I was a teenager. At the very least, I can ruin Frost for my daughter before school does.

At least, this was my reasoning when I requested the book…

And when I first opened it, my god the art. I thought for sure it was a wise choice. The art work is just great and I was blown away with the effort they put into illustrating a book of Frost’s poetry. Because I was apparently still biased.

And then I read the first poem and I knew for sure that I was still biased. I also had not mutured, did not understand poetry, and actually kind of hated Robert Frost.

Quickly! To his farm to spit on his name!!

…thankfully I read the next poem before venturing out (not on a snowy evening… though that would have been fitting.) It turned out it was just that poem I did not like. I mean, I still don’t appreciate poetry enough to go to a jam, or anything, but the lyrical way that most of Frost’s poems flow is actually quite pleasant. He’s far more talented (and moving) than I previously gave him credit for. I actually found myself enjoying Frost and poetry.

Maybe I am grown up after all…

They also include definitions of words that kids might not know on the pages in italics. Which I appreciated more than the inclusion of the two poems I have talked to death.

The Road Not Taken (actually my favorite, but still not about suicide) as well as Stopping by Woods on A Snowy Evening (also not about suicide, Ian…)

All in all, I’m glad I picked it up.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Where Are You, Wilbert? by Bardur Oskarsson

Synopsis: A small gray rat and her large gray friend, Wilbert, are playing hide-and-seek. Wilbert is tough to find, so the rat asks a passing crocodile for help. Together, they hunt behind every tree they can see, and finally, the rat spots Wilbert. But the crocodile can’t see Wilbert — even when he’s standing right in front of them. Why not?

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 36 pages
Publication Date: October 15, 2017
Genre: Silly?
Content Level: Picture book
Rating: why are you laughing? that’s not funny… I raised you better than this…

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: So this was my least favorite of Owl Kids’ offerings this time around. It was, allegedly, about everyone seeing the world differently. I actually suspect it’s designed to confuse parents when their children laugh.

And also give them panic attacks that their children do not understand humor…

But the art was cute and it used ellipsis for text. And you all clearly know how much I love my ellipsises. Elipsi? Whatever. I love them. And by teaching them to children young…

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Her Majesty: An Illustrated Guide to the Women who Ruled the World (Women in History) by Lisa Graves

Synopsis: This illustrated guide to famous (and infamous) queens tells us that power isn’t everything. Each of the extraordinary women featured in this book have impacted world history. Featuring the bold and beautiful style of Lisa Graves’ Women in History series, this book is sure to become a classroom, library and household favorite for parents and educators who want to show that being a princess or a queen means much more than fancy dresses and fairy tale endings.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 32 pages
Publication Date: February 17, 2017
Genre: History
Content Level: Picture Book Plus?
Trigger Warnings: It’s history…
Rating: It’s… history…

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: As someone who is both a history nerd and a feminist who happens to have a young daughter, this is currently on my wish list. (Twice, because we’re bad at sharing…)

This is full of female rulers, both good and bad. It gives a good idea of what women had to go through to get and maintain power. Also, how shitty rulers could be. Combined with facts, anecdotes, and great art, it’s a wonderful addition to any budding feminist’s collection.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Shadow Warrior: Based on the True Story of a Fearless Ninja and Her Network of Female Spies by Tanya Lloyd Kyi (Goodreads Author), Celia Krampien (Illustrator)

Synopsis: It’s 1558, and warlords across Japan are battling for territory and control. Into this setting, Tanya Lloyd Kyi weaves the stories of three people: Mochizuki Chiyome, a young woman determined to become a ninja whose plans are thwarted by an arranged marriage; Takeda Shingen (The Tiger), a fierce warlord seeking a new weapon to outsmart his enemies; and Aki, an orphaned tavern girl whose destiny is changed by a mysterious woman. As their stories intersect, the three characters become key players in an elaborate network of undercover female ninjas who will eventually shift the balance of power in Japan. Based on the true story of Mochizuki Chiyome and her all-female spy network.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 64 pages
Publication Date: September 12, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
Content Level: Middle Grade
Rating: highly enjoyable

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: More feminist history, this is the (probably) true story of a woman who opened a spy school for female ninjas and ended up becoming one of the most powerful and unknown figures at the end of the shogun era of Japanese history.

It’s told in a slightly halting narrative, but with incredible Asian art and Asian inspired illustrations.

And it’s incredible and inspirational, knowing that women (probably) managed to become some of the most powerful people in Japan. That they were able to overcome their status as orphans and women in an era where both were seen as black marks against your character to become … everything.

If they could then… just imagine what we could do now.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


The Dream Dragon by Kathryn England, Valeria Issa (illustrator)

Synopsis: 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.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 32 pages
Publication Date: February 19, 2015
Genre: Fantasy
Content Level: Picture Book
Rating: Can I have a dream dragon instead of my dream zombie?

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: In thirty two pages, the narrative managed to be both soul crushingly sad (I’m not crying, you are) and yet full of hope for new beginnings.

It also managed to be adorable with an important idea to share. I would share this with any kid who is having trouble with bad dreams or is scared to go to sleep. Fuck, I’m tempted to get a copy for my husband just because he has nightmares…

Oh, a copy of this and a stuffed dragon would make an adorable gift! And…

…wait…

…I just realized this implies that other people might see my dreams…

…I’ve gotta…

*smoke cloud*

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


101 Video Games to Play Before You Grow Up: The unofficial must-play video game list for kids
by Ben Bertoli

Synopsis: Have you got game? 101 Video Games to Play Before You Grow Up is the unofficial, definitive guide for the best video games ever made!

Each page in this interactive handbook offers behind-the-scenes tidbits and trivia about the games that belong on your bucket list, along with parental rating guidelines, series background information, and storyline previews. Gamers can record their personal ratings of each series as they play their way through the list, making notes and critiquing the best and worst parts of each game.

All different types of video games are featured, including adventure, puzzle, platform, racing, and role-playing games. Both gaming newbies and more experienced players can learn tips and tricks about the best games out there, and discover new genres of games to explore next.

No matter what gaming system you have, this handy guide will help parents and kids alike choose the next best game to play.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 144 pages
Publication Date: October 1, 2017
Genre: Non-fiction
Content Level: Ages 8-11 years
Rating: afk… playing Donkey Kong

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: It’s a solid list with well thought out opinions and justifications on why games are essential. I flipped through with my husband and there was a round of “oh I loved that,” and “I still need to play that,” followed by “oh, so good…”

So while I might not have played all the games personally, I can tell you that nearly all of them are on my list, well suited for both children and adults, and a great place to start if you’re looking to get into gaming and see what it’s all about.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


The Long-Lost Secret Diary of the World’s Worst Pirate (The Long-Lost Secret Diary) by Tim Collins

Synopsis: Meet Thomas—a young man sailing with his parents aboard a merchant ship in the 18th century and prone to daydreaming about living an exciting life as a pirate on the high seas. When a pirate crew led by Captain Bartholomew Morgan takes over the ship, Thomas stows away and is accepted into their motley gang. However, life as a pirate proves far less romantic than what he was expecting. The hilarious Long Lost Secret Diary series put readers inside the heads of hapless figures from history struggling to carry out their roles and getting things horribly wrong. The accessible, irreverent stories will keep young readers laughing as they learn the importance of not being afraid to learn from one’s mistakes.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 218 pages
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Genre: Historical Fiction
Content Level: ages 9-11 years
Trigger Warnings: THAT’S WHAT KEELHAUL MEANS?
Rating: so very good

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: Oh you tricky book, I see what you did… you tricked kids into learning about actual piracy via clever text and images making a mock diary. As someone who was forced into reading more of the magic treehouse series than anyone ever should, I can tell you this was actually a pretty cute way to go about learning. A little gruesome in places, of course, but cute none-the-less.

If you’ve got a kid who’s into pirates, you’re into pirates and don’t want to read a dry text book, or just have a kid who is into bedtime stories, check this one out. Informative and fun, always a great combination.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Max and Bird by Ed Vere

Synopsis: Meet Max – the mighty kitten and New York Times bestseller.

When Max meets Bird, Max thinks he’d like to be friends with Bird. He would also like to chase Bird and maybe eat him as a tasty snack.

But that’s not what friendship is all about . . . Is it?

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 32 pages
Publication Date: June 02, 2016
Genre: Animals
Content Level: Picture Book
Rating: I think I can get that tattoo on my hip…

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: I’m going to recommend any book that suggests children go to libraries. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’m sort of a library fangirl. And then Max made a pros and cons list and I started sketching out a Max tattoo, because that kitten is my hero.

There’s friendship, dedication to learning, libraries, lists, and learning to fly. All while being freaking adorable. Definitely something I’ll be encouraging my child to read.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Jammie Day! by Carrie Snyder

Synopsis: Cliffy is a middle child: a little less loud, a little less messy, and a little less conspicuous than his four siblings. One cold, winter morning, Cliffy doesn’t feel like getting dressed. So he tells his mom it’s jammie day and heads to school in his favorite footy pajamas.
His mom might not have been paying attention. His teacher and his dad are distracted, too. So Cliffy gets away with it for a day… then a week… then a month. The other kids at school catch on quickly and start making every day jammie day, too! This playful read-aloud pokes fun at preoccupied adults and lets the kids win. Adorable, nuanced artwork elevates the story with a true-to-life depiction of family chaos, emotion, and warmth. The illustrations especially show off Cliffy’s jammies, which become more worn, torn, and beloved as the months go by.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 32 pages
Publication Date: October 15, 2017
Genre: ADORABLE
Content Level: Picture book
Rating: I wonder if I can get away with this…

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: you don’t know this about me, but pajamas are my favorite thing in the entire world. (Actually, they’re like my sixth favorite thing… but still…) A book about Jammie Day? I am so there.

When the book is adorable with a sweet story and cute art? It’s the freaking best. The. Freaking. Best.

I’d recommend getting this book as a present for a child paired with a comfy and/or snazzy pair of pajamas. Especially for middle children. Or children who feel ignored. Or any child. Or, fuck, even any pajama enthusiast.

Well, as long as they’re not stubborn as fuck and will insist on wearing pajamas every day…

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


Tricky by Kari Rust

Synopsis: The Duke and his dog, Tricky, spend their days making trouble. They cheat, steal, and play cruel-hearted pranks on their neighbors, just for fun. But one day, somebody new comes to town and gives Tricky a treat that melts his mischievous heart — and sets him thinking about the effect his actions have on others.
Inspired to change his ways, Tricky decides to set things right the only way he knows how… with tricks! Tricky’s ploy might just lead The Duke to reconsider his ways. Stylized cartoon-inspired art adds a distinctive mood and humor to this fun debut picture book about empathy, revenge, and reform.

Meta Details and Rating:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 40 pages
Publication Date: October 15, 2017
Genre: life lessons?
Content Level: Picture book
Rating: fucking right, Tricky.

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: Another super adorable book from Owl Kids. This one teaching a valuable lesson about not being a giant dick by lying, cheating, stealing, and playing mean tricks. I wish there were adequate words for how much I loved Trick’s glowing heart and his burning rage. I don’t have them, though, so instead I’ll encourage you to pick this book up for any child. Or even an adult you care about that’s kind of a dick…

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.


That’s all I got this time around. Come back for another Kid Fic Roundup on November 10, 2017.

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