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Welcome to Donna M. McDine’s – Children’s Book Reviews
Book reviews are an important promotional tool for all authors.Not only will the review of your book be posted here for two months (the review will then be placed in the archives and archives2 for future access) and I will also place it at:
If you are interested in sending a book for review, I am happy to accept fiction from picture books through young adult. My acceptance of a review copy does not guarantee I will write a review, or my review will be positive (though I rarely review titles I dislike). I also cannot guarantee I will review the book within a particular time frame.
I donate review copies to libraries or charities who will share them with young readers.
If you are interested in having your soon-to-be released or recently released book reviewed please contact Donna directly.
Recent book reviews are included below.
Title:Sea Turtle Summer: Bella and Britt Beach Series
Written by:Nancy Stewart
Illustrated by:Samantha Bell
Soft cover:26 pages
Publisher:Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. / Academic Wings
Hardcover ISBN 13:978-1-61633-206-8
Soft Cover ISBN 13:978-1-61633-207-5
eBook ISBN 13:978-1-61633-208-2 Published:November 2011
Best friends, Bella and Britt live in a beach side community and take every chance they get to explore the beauty of the beach. Never bored the girls continually find surprises during their adventures. On one particular day they witness the unique opportunity of a sea turtle laying her eggs.
“We have to stand guard until she’s back in the water. Then let’s get the ranger.”
After safely covering the egg nest the mama sea turtle ventured back to the sea. Bella and Britt immediately jumped to action and sought out the beach ranger in hopes of securing a barricade around the nest. To no avail, the ranger could not be found. Not discouraged the girls vowed to return early the next day to prevent anyone from disturbing the egg nest.
Early that morning they were confronted by the sand cleaner operator and the volleyball competition committee to clear the way. Do Bella and Britt hold tight to their convictions of protecting the sea turtle nest or do they falter under pressure? Find out in Nancy Stewart’s uplifting story of the importance of protecting our sea life.
Nancy Stewart’s expert style of teaching and not preaching to our children about the wonders of sea life are presented in a glorious written adventure that the reader will surely cherish for many years to come.
Samantha Bell does it again with her welcoming illustrations depicting the beauty of beaches and the love of our environment through the eyes and actions of Bella and Britt.
Visit with Nancy Stewart and learn what other adventures she has in store for her readers:
Title:My Sister Is My Best Friend, a Trilingual Story
Written by:Nicole Weaver
Illustrated by:Clara Batton Smith
Soft cover:16 pages
Publisher:Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
Print ISBN 13:978-1616332099
eBook ISBN 13:978-1616332105
Come explore the wonderful world of sisterhood both together and with mother in Nicole Weaver’s latest children’s book, My Sister Is My Best Friend. The playful antics of the sisters along with the vibrant illustrations brings their lives into focus. The security of knowing that neither is alone in this vast world with the companionship and love of a sister is heartwarming.
My Sister Is My Best Friend is a trilingual story told in English, Spanish, and French making for a delightful reading and learning experience. Nicole Weaver tells a story of the simplicities of enjoying one’s sister with gratitude, bringing back fond memories of my own childhood with my twin sister and our unique shared experiences.
Clara Batton Smith’s delightful illustrations show the love of both sisters making the heart glow.
Publisher:Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. / January 2011
e-Book ISBN: 978-1-61633-131-3
The fear of the unknown sends Taconi’s mind into the darkest corners of his imagination. Will his ever changing life continue to spiral out of control? Finding his one true place while saddling the life as an aboriginal in the Australian outback and then as a Jackaroo in the white man’s world is a constant struggle. With the anticipation of his man ceremony, Taconi fights his inner thoughts to be worthy of his aboriginal customs; all the while, striving to understand his father’s need to become the head cook on the Coorparoo Cattle Station.
The fight for balance becomes quite confusing for young Taconi in his determination not to forget his heritage and accepting the need to live in the white man’s world. Along the way he finds comfort and direction in an unlikely companion, the outspoken Claude the cockatoo. This unlikely and heartwarming friendship is wise beyond their years and will have the reader cheering for Taconi’s one true quest, acceptance. Will Taconi be able to weave customs from both worlds into a comfortable fit?
Author, M.E. Finke expertly brings forth her expertise of the Australian outback in this fast paced fictional story transporting the reader with the perfect blend of description and dialogue. For a deeper understanding of the Australian, author M.E. Finke provides a glossary of Australian terms, which will surely bring out the love of reading to the most reluctant reader.
eBook ISBN 13:978-1-61633-094.1 Published: September 2010
Not to judge someone by their appearance is an important life lesson and a difficult one at that. For if you do you may miss out on a special individual.
Marta the Pegasus is confronted by the narrow thinking Aljor the bird who believes that Marta’s enormous wings make her a freak. Contrary to Aljor’s belief system, Stajon the monkey comes to Marta’s defense. “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Keep your beak shut. Stajon stuck his tongue out at Aljor.” What ensues between Marta and Stajon is a genuine friendship of accepting others for who they are and not by their looks.
Their friendship is put to the test as a disaster occurs in the woods and the time for self discovery and courage is thrust upon Marta. Will she overcome the negativity towards her and save the day? Find out in Marta’s Gargantuan Wings.
J. Aday Kennedy’s delightful story of finding one’s place in society is a heartwarming story of acceptance. A must have children’s book for classrooms, libraries, and homes to invoke non-judgment and anti-bullying conversations with our young muses.
Eugene Ruble’s illustrations makes Marta’s the Pegasus’ story come to life with enchantment.
Publisher:Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. / August 2010
Wise beyond his years, young Obed has become a seasoned shepherd boy. Acutely aware of the hillside surroundings while tending his flock Obed stares at the sky in wonderment. A single bright light fills the sky. At first afraid, Obed felt a calmness wash over him as the beautiful angels descend, proclaiming “A Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
Unsure what their message means, Obed looks to his father for guidance. With reassurances from his father, Obed and the older shepherds journey to Bethlehem to meet the newborn King. Their journey and meeting Christ the Lord is nothing less than miraculous.
Your fist reaction may be, oh goodness another story on the birth of Christ. Toss those thoughts away and immerse yourself and your children into the magical arrival of Christ the Lord. Children’s author, Cheryl C. Malandrinos has re-explored and created a beautiful re-enactment of Christ the Lord’s birth in a unique and awe inspiring rendition which surely will become classical reading in Christian religious school studies and home libraries.
The old time illustrations expertly created by illustrator, Eugene Ruble will leave you feeling that you journeyed through the countryside with Obed and his fellow shepherds.
Visit children’s author, Cheryl C. Malandrinos at:
Teaching our young muses how to count in a creative environment presents its challenges. Not sure where to start to overcome this obstacle? Look no further. Lightning Strikes combines the elements of Science and Math into an ingenious thunderstorm adventure with counting forwards and backwards.
Come along and learn what one young child does to comfort himself as a thunderstorm rages outside. The reader and child will surely laugh out loud at the antics that ensue. All the while learning the basic fundamentals of counting to ten and down again.
Eugene Ruble’s illustrations bring the thunderstorm and counting strategy to life, making it an enjoyable learning experience.
Kevin McNamee is an accomplished children’s author with several books to his credit, If I Could Be Anything, The Sister Exchange, and The Soggy Town of Hilltop.Learn more about Kevin’s illustrious career at:
Publisher:Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. / August 2010
The old expression, “things are they way they are meant to be” stands true for Animal Sound Mix-up. Chaos would certainly ensue if animals suddenly made different noises than what they always have. Could you imagine the looks on humans faces if this happened? Eyes would bulge and jaws would drop when encountering:
“What if you were at the park and a nearby horse began to bark?”
Amazingly so, chaos does not ensue in animal language, because by the grace of God each animal has their own unique and special voice.
Children’s author, Connie Arnold takes the reader on a fun and thought provoking adventure of “what if” through Animal Sound Mix-up, which will surely have child and adult laughing out loud.
“What if” questions are one of the most profound ways to get children to develop inductive reasoning. How can teachers and parents bring this process seamlessly into the articulation process of our young muses without making it feel like work? Through reading of course.
Come along on a “what if” adventure in If Babies Went to School. Siblings, Brian and Amanda start off their day wondering how it would be possible to bring their baby brother, Luke, to school with them. Brian and Amanda start to toss around a broad range of scenarios on how to make this possible. Coupled with their remarkable inductive reasoning with Brian’s “what if” statements and Amanda’s inquisitive questions bring them to their answers and soon learn why it is not possible for babies to attend school.
Author, Barbara Lock expertly brings the story of If Babies Went to School, to the forefront of prediction and critical thinking without preaching. A must have for the youngest school age children. Visit Barbara at http://www.ifbabies.com.
Illustrator, Gus Tarantino’s real life illustrations make the character come alive in the humorous scenes.
Title:If Wishes Were Fishes
Written by:NA Sharpe
Illustrated by:Ginger Nielson
Soft cover:24 pages
Publisher:4RV Publishing LLC
ISBN 13:9780982588673 Published:May 2010
From generation to generation statements may take on their own meanings for each generation to interpret. What is 6-year-old JT to do when he takes each statement by his grandparents literally and miscommunication ensues at a hysterical level?
Politeness always at the top of his list to impress his grandparents, JT is determined to stay out of trouble and does what they say no matter what. At times Grandma’s apparent frustration with JT bothers him until a little birdie clears it all up with Grandpa.
Nancy Sharpe’s stroll down memory lane of old sayings through her whimsical storytelling will have the reader laughing their head off (no not literally), opening up the perfect opportunity to talk with our young children of our fond childhood memories.
Ms. Sharpe has always had a deep rooted love of storytelling and children's literature. This is her first picture book. She has one fantasy book published and is currently writing a Young Adult fantasy adventure series in collaboration with her son.
The promise to his dying mother intertwined with the talk of a treasure and one’s destiny at first intrigues Drew, until mysterious events plague Drew and his friends. Sent to his Grandpa Ian’s for his own safety, Drew convinces his friends to tag along for what he believes will be the chance to uncover a long ago lost treasure.
“I guess Dad is going to ship me off to Grandpa Ian’s. He lives close to the island where the treasure is, so maybe I can hunt for it.” His face brightened as a thought occurred. “You know what? Mom didn’t say I had to hunt alone. Why don’t you guys come along?”
En-route via ferry to Grandpa Ian’s and upon their arrival bizarre occurrences continue and Drew’s doubts grow. What is he to do? Forgot about his promise to his dying mother and return home or discover the lost treasure and his true destiny? Good versus evil is at every turn. Knowing who to trust and who to be wary of is a constant struggle for Drew and his companions. The internal dilemma of trusting ones instincts above what the Guardian says and what the Brother says sends Drew into a tailspin. Who wins out, good or evil? Find out in this fast pace fantasy within reality.
Come along for this roller coaster ride through the mysterious old age sect and discover who is truthful and Drew’s true destiny.
Brigitta longs to find her place in the White Forest. Always one to daydream and to question authority her progress to achieve changes to her wings to mark her destiny does not come easy for Brigitta. Coupled with her endless responsibility to look out for her younger sister, Himalette, Brigitta struggles to break free.
Until the day while on an errand with Himalette on the outskirts of the White Forest an eerie hush blankets the White Forest turning all fairies and creatures to stone. Except for Brigitta and Himalette and the Hourglass, which protects the White Forest. With the sands of time slipping away, Brigitta wishes she could just turn the Hourglass over to continue the protection to the White Forest. Alas, this was not to be for the Ancients long ago set the law in place that only the Elder’s had the knowledge and power to do so.
Forced to seek help outside the White Forest, Brigitta and Himalette embark on their journey to save all within the White Forest. Will Brigitta and Himalette be able to decipher the legends and folklore as they come to life with good versus evil intertwined? For all is not as it appears. Who is friend? Who is foe? One does not know until decisions are made and actions are set in place.
Come along on this magical journey of discovering ones true destiny in most unusual circumstances.
14-year-old Shanna Bailey’s life never seems to change for the better. Always the target for school bullies, Home is no solace for Shanna’s mother dishes out mental and physical abuse, daily. Shanna’s only escape is found in the pages of her daily writings. Resolved to her unhappy life, Shanna dreads the beginning of high school, until the day she meets Jonah Leighton at high school. The only drawback, Jonah is an outcast himself. Ignoring comments to stay away from Jonah, Shanna finds herself drawn to Jonah and him to her. This shocks Shanna, for she does not feel worthy of anyone’s friendship.
Reluctant at first, what Shanna learns through their new friendship leaves her spellbound. It begins to make sense to Shanna, her writings and her need for “imaginary” friends. Not imaginary at all, but her spiritual guides. This is where reality and spiritual worlds come together for Shanna.
Along with Jonah, they witness bizarre behavior from the resident “mean girl”, Kaylie Sturbridge at their high school. For some bizarre, but not to Jonah. With the trust they have developed Jonah explains to Shanna the dark forces attempting to penetrate Kaylie and how they may help her. Shanna believes him immediately; however will the duo gain Kaylie’s trust in time?
Come along for this fascinating story of finding one’s self and accepting our differences are what make us special.
The year 1863 finds outspoken, 14-year-old, Lizzie Stamford at a crossroads of what her parents believe to be acceptable behavior for a young lady, and secret desire to join the Confederate Army disguised as a boy. Her two brothers, Willie and Joseph willingly joined the Confederacy to defend Vicksburg from the Yankees and Lizzie longs to be part of the glory. Her blind courage brings her into the midst of a battleground at nighttime. Much to her dismay war is not what she believed it to be. The horrific acts of violence overwhelm her and she runs away as quickly as she arrived.
Her emotions and beliefs that all Yankees are evil is put to the test when an unexpected encounter with a Yankee soldier has her doubting her belief system. Will Lizzie come to terms of the ever changing world and circumstances which surround her? And what is to become of her beloved brothers and the city of Vicksburg?
McClure balances the emotions of the Confederate and Yankee characters with such in-depth feeling the reader will find themselves switching sides throughout the perilous journey of Lizzie Stamford and her family, and their quest to reclaim Vicksburg.
Katy approaches many of her days only doing what she wants and not playing what others enjoy. She becomes frustrated with her lonesome days and her siblings lack of interaction with her. Not knowing who to turn to, Katy takes the mature approach of praying to Jesus and asking for help. Will she heed the spiritual guidance or will she continue in a downward spiral of loneliness?
Immerse yourself in this beautifully written story by children’s author, Colleen L. Reece of Katy and her six siblings and discover Katy’s journey through her thoughts and actions. Reece’s expertly written story of faith enlightens the reader, leaving one with the feeling of renewal and what it means to be part of a family.
The vibrant illustrations from the creative mind of K.C. Snider add to the story telling in this colorful and compelling story of finding ones place within the family circle.
Growing up on a horse farm, 15-year-old Meg naturally loves horses and the beauty surrounding her on the farm. Her life takes an unexpected twit when due to financial problems her mom is forced to work away from the farm, resulting in them taking in a boarder, who will be trained in foaling. Meg is heartbroken by this intrusion, since she can help in the foaling. To make matters worse the boarder is a beautiful Swedish girl who unknowingly comes between Meg and her intended crush. Can Meg discourage Katrina and send her packing before all is ruined between Meg and Derek before it even gets started?
Nancy Famolari blends her years of operating a Standardbred breeding farm with love and intrigue into a heartwarming story of discovery and acceptance.
Breeze Brannigan has high hopes for her last year at Whispering Springs Middle School. It becomes quite clear on the first day nothing has changed, except for her grade level. Unable to tame her wild curly red hair she feels her awkwardness of her height and large feet as she navigates the school hallways and social scene.
Several new students arrive and life changes quickly. For better or worse is the question. The new girl, Allison, becomes the nemesis of Breeze’s best friend, Amy and the new boy, Cam, befriends Breeze. Compared to the other boys at school, Cam stands out with his polite behavior. Breeze is swept away by this unusual boy. Can boys actually behave like humans? He must be from a different country, more like another planet.
Current circumstances and history collide and what Breeze believes to be true is the farthest thing from the truth. Will Breeze be able to keep Cam’s deepest concerns a secret for his protection or will outside forces uncover what should not be revealed?
Step into Breeze’s shoes and delve into her inner most thoughts, her family and friends, and why she is truly blessed. Beverly Stowe McClure provides the reader with such detail and conversation throughout Just Breeze the reader will feel has if they are walking the halls with Breeze and feeling the essence of her life pouring through their veins.
The balance of friendship can be a difficult one to understand. At times one may feel they are overshadowed by a friend and become frustrated. Poodle and Doodle by Donna J. Shepherd explores an unexpected friendship in this delightful rhyming story of two distinctly different dogs.
What comes forth through the eyes of one fancy poodle pup, Angel, is her own insecurities of having another dog around. When Scruffy, a cross between Poodle and Labrador is brought home by their owner, Leah, havoc ensues wherever Scruffy goes. His less than stellar manners appall Angel until the “ah-ha” moment that Scruffy is not so bad and is actually fun to have around.
Shepherd wonderfully brings to life real life issues all humans contend with in finding their place with friends. Most of all, we are all individuals whether canine or human and should appreciate the positives in all we meet.
Illustrator, Jack Foster brings the canine characters to life with their young owner, Leah, making it an adventure to read over and over again.
Title:Shoo Cat Written by:Shari Lyle-Soffe Illustrated by: Jack Foster Soft cover:16 pages Ages:4-8 Publisher:Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc. ISBN:13: 978-161633-0 eBook ISBN:13: 978-1-61633-0 Published:March 2010 Price:$9.95
Ethan dreams of the day when he’ll own his very own dog, a constant companion to romp through the neighborhood with. He envisions his days filled with adventure and excitement where visiting the park and strolling through town would take on a whole new meaning of fun, fun, fun. Ethan shares his desires with his cat, telling him you could never do what a dog does. Even though Ethan shoos his cat away constantly his cat stays true to Ethan even when he trades his cat for a dog. Will Ethan realize in time the constant companion he always longed for was right there all along before it’s too late? Come along on this whimsical journey of thinking outside the box and discovering not everything or everyone needs to conform to the usual standards. Children’s author, Shari Lyle-Soffe magically brings to life the playful antics of one cat to be accepted by his owner for who he is a loyal cat indeed. Visit Shari Lyle-Soffe at http://sharilyle-soffe.blogspot.com. Visit the vibrant world of illustrator, Jack Foster at http://jacktoon.blogspot.com.