Category Archives: Sourcebooks

Guest Review: Surfing with Turtles: Bindi Wildlife Adventures by Bindi Irwin

  • Reading level: Ages 7 and up
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (March 5, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1402280947
  • Source: Publisher

Bindi Irwin is the thirteen-year-old daughter of wildlife conservationists Steve and Terri Irwin. Although her father passed away a few years ago while working with wildlife, his life-long passion, Bindi and her brother continue his legacy.

In Surfing With Turtles, the eight book in the Bindi Wildlife Adventures series, a host of young readers are introduced to an exciting wildlife adventure with Bindi and friends. Off the coast of Mexico and California, Bindi and her American friend Kelly are on a surf-ari, catching some pretty amazing waves along the way.  One day, a green sea turtle joins them while surfing. The two girls learn about a volunteer turtle restoration team and are given the opportunity to participate themselves in a night watch to protect the turtle nests from poachers.  It is then they see a fellow surfer acting strangely, disturbing a nest of green sea turtles. Bindi realizes he has more than surfing on his mind and decides to keep an eye on him. Her instincts are correct; Bindi is able to prevent the man from transporting a captured animal across the border!

I am excited to have the opportunity to review this book with my youngest soon, Justin. At seven years old, Justin is an avid reader. When I was pitched this book for review, I enjoyed having the opportunity to read this book with him. Our family has been fans of Bindi since she first appeared on her father’s show at just three years old! Over the years, we have enjoyed watching her grow up and continue her father’s great work.

Following are Justin’s thoughts on the book, followed by mine. Other than correcting his spelling, the following review is Justin’s in its entirety:

Hello everyone! My Mom said I should tell you if I liked this book or not. I DID! Bindi is a little girl who goes on adventures, learning about animals I have only seen at the zoo. Even though she is a girl, she is fun because she does things that girls in my class would never do. Like in this book, she picks up a snake with her own hands! Also, she goes surfing and even though a wave crashes into her, she doesn’t freak out and just knows what to do.  I also really liked this book because it sort of had a mystery to it. I wanted to know what the bad surfer guy was going to do next. I also learned a lot about sea turtles and how to protect them. I really think you should read this book, if you are a boy or a girl. I really liked it and want to read more about Bindi’s adventures.

My review:

Like Justin, I appreciated reading about a little girl who was strong and able to step outside of what is expected of a young girl. She’s witty, intelligent, and has a great sense of humor. Her excitement about animal conservation helps educate children her age and younger about what can be done to protect the wildlife around us.  While this book is geared for children ages seven and up, I do believe some of the language is a bit above that age level. Fortunately, I was able to read it alongside Justin and provide him an explanation of what some of the terms meant. So, with the caveat that the book be read with a parent, I do agree with the age range used to describe this book. Overall, I do think it would be an excellent addition to any home or school library. Like Justin, I look forward to reading more of Bindi’s adventures!

Did you know that BINDI WILDLIFE ADVENTURES series donates a portion of all proceeds to the Australia Zoo Conservation Projects? Each book is a new adventure for Wildlife Warrior Bindi Irwin and a chance for children to experience new places and new ideas.

Bindi is starring in Return to Nim’s Island, based on the Nim books by Australian author Wendy Or.  The movie will premiere in the U.S. this March on the Hallmark Channel and will be available on DVD March 19.


Mx3 Review: The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide by Stacey Graham


  • Reading level: Ages 9 and up
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (May 1, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 140226612X
  • Source: Publisher

With Halloween just around the corner and weekend sleepovers are being planned, the topics of ghost stories and the supernatural are certain to be raised. The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide is a must-have item for any teen or pre-teen’s sleepover preparedness kit!

Starting with information about the existence of spirits, the science behind ghosts, The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide is a witty and entertaining novel chock-full of information.  It provides tips for fans of the supernatural of all levels. Interested in writing a ghost story? Graham provides excellent tips and an outline for doing so. For extreme fans of the supernatural and ghost-hunting, she provides tips on forming a ghost-hunting team from the sort of individuals and roles that should be included to designing your ghost hunting team logo.

Interspersed throughout the novel are stories of urban legends and interviews with actual female ghost hunters to get readers in the supernatural mood. Fun recipes, quizzes, and more round out the fun. While obviously targeted for girls, I think this is certainly a book that would appeal to boys (if they can get over the pink cover & cutesy ghost).

Bottom line: The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide is a must-have addition to the library of any young middle-grade or teen. Highly recommended.


Mx3 Review: Horrid Henry’s Monster Movie by Francesca Simon

  • Reading level: Ages 7 and up
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (September 1, 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1402277377
  • Source: Publisher

Today I’m pleased to welcome my youngest son, Justin, as a guest reviewer. Justin is seven years old and an avid reader. The review that follows is his in its entirety:

My big brother John used to read Horrid Henry books when he was a little bit younger. When my Mom told me I was old enough to try to read them, I was very happy. Especially when I saw that this book was about a monster movie. I like monster movies and scary things like my Mom. My brother doesn’t so it is probably a good thing that I am reviewing this and not him.

Anyway, this book is made up of four stories, the first about a monster movie that Horrid Henry and his friends want to make. They hear about this super scary movie that they all want to see but when they do see it, it’s not scary at all. So they decide to make their own videos. They are so obsessed with making their own movies and nothing else. This is bad because they end up destroying the video cameras so no monster movie for them!  I think this was my favorite story because it was about a monster movie called The Vampire Zombie Werewolf. Too bad the movie was bad because that is a very good title. The movie actually sounded a lot like it was making fun of Twilight which is pretty awesome.

My other favorite story wasHorrid Henry’s Grump Card. Basically, Horrid Henry is always in trouble and he never earns Grump Cards, which are rewards for good behavior. My brother says I’m a lot like Horrid Henry because I get in trouble a lot. That is true sometimes but most of the time I’m a pretty good kid so I would definitely earn Grump Cards.  Anyway, Henry is made because he doesn’t have any Grump Cards, so he tricks his brother Perfect Peter, into trading him the cards for playing with him. The Grump Cards can be used to get out of anything: doing chores, watching TV, talking bad to your parents so obviously Henry wants a lot of these. So, he gets them and uses them until he runs out. The bad thing is he runs out right after doing something he should of, so he gets punished even more! This is what happens when you trick someone to do something!

I think these stories are pretty fun. I especially like to read about what sort of trouble Henry gets in (and no, John, not because I want to do them myself!). If Henry was a smart kid he would learn a lesson from all of this and not get in trouble, but he doesn’t. So, to normal kids like me, the stories teach a great lesson about what NOT to do.

The only thing I didn’t like about the book was how Henry treated his parents. He told them to shut up a lot. This is a bad word in our house. Mom says I’m allowed to say it because I’m talking about it happening in a book. Hopefully, other kids won’t read this and think they can say it!

My mom asked me if I would tell my friends about his book and I definitely will. The stories are nice and short, the drawings are funny, and they make it fun to read! So buy it please!

Thank you, Justin!  Yes, I agree with his statement about the way Henry treats this parents. Luckily, my boys have a bit more respect, but this aspect of the story would be a great teachable moment for kids reading along with their parents. Bottom line, our entire family as a whole are huge fans of Horrid Henry! It’s great to see my youngest son picking up where my oldest left off!


Tales of a (Formerly) Reluctant Reader: The Tighty Whitey Spider by Kenn Nesbitt

  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; Pap/Com edition (April 1, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 1402238339
  • Source: Publisher

Summary: a collection of over dozens of humorous and outrageous poems about animals!

The portion of this review listed in italics was written by my oldest son, John, as part of his “Tales of a Formerly Reluctant Reader” feature.  All the ideas and comments are his own. My review follows his.

John’s Review: When my mom told me that we were going to read a book of poems before I went to bed, I wasn’t very excited.  Poems are about love and stuff like that, things I totally don’t want to read about!  But then my mom told me they were different kinds of poems.  I didn’t believe her until I saw the cover of the book.  A spider…in underwear?!  I had to read this!

The Tighty Whitey Spider: And More Wacky Animal Poems I Totally Made Up is the funniest book of poems I have EVER read.  Kenn Nesbitt, the author, is so crazy!  The poems aren’t dull and boring, they are full of action and fun.  A few of my favorites include I Bought a New Tank for My Goldfish and My Hamster Has a Skateboard.   If all poetry was this exciting, I’d definitely read more!

My review: What can I say? Anything that gets my son excited about reading poetry has to be good!  John was very skeptical when I told him about the book but instantly opened up after seeing the cover and reading the first two poems.  They are full of wit and fun, I was honestly laughing a bit myself.  There are several poems that should be read to the tune of popular children’s songs  nursery rhymes.  Those were a real hit! Let’s face it, little boys like it when they think they’re making fun of another song or rhyme!

The only thing I should mention is that some of the poems are a little on the crude side and do discuss bodily functions.  Nothing totally off the wall or completely repulsive. Just something I thought worth mentioning. Still this book is still worth checking out!  Exclusive audio is available online, including Kenn singing and reading many of these hilarious poems!

I’m excited to announce a special feature to celebrate National Poetry Month: Followers of Jenn’s Bookshelves can download/view online Kenn’s previous book, My Hippo Has the Hiccups for free at until April 30th!

Following  is a list of other blogs participating in the National Poetry Month 2010 Blog Tour for the next few weeks.  The tour runs all month and covers a wide range of poetry subjects, be sure to check them out! For a complete listing of blogs participating in the tour, please check out Savvy Verse & Wit.

April 1:  Savvy Verse & Wit Welcome Post, Maw Books showcases her old poetry, Semicolon‘s Favorite Classic Poems Survey

April 2:  Diary of an Eccentric on Emily Dickinson, 32 Poems Interview with Geoffrey Brock

April 3:  Regular Rumination on poet Claudia Emerson

April 4:  Indextrous Reader interviews poetry publisher Brick Books

April 5:   West of Mars introduces the Roadie Poet

April 6:  Janel’s Jumble showcases Estrella Azul, The Betty and Boo Chronicles showcases Poems from the Women’s Movement

April 7:  Reading Frenzy features Edgar Allan Poe

April 8:  Books and Movies features Billy Collins

April 9:  Rhapsody in Books features W.B. Yeats

April 10:  Booking Mama will review Poetry Speaks Who I Am, Write Meg! features Kim Addonzinio

April 11:  Tea Leaves will review “Song of two worlds” by Alan Lightman

April 12:  Monniblog will highlight British Columbia, Canada, poets/poetry

April 13:  Life Is a Patchwork Quilt features poetry for the deaf

April 14:  SMS Book Reviews will surprise us with a poetry book review, Author Ru Freeman will talk about poetry’s cross-cultural presence, such as Palestinian poet Dharwish

April 15:  KCBooks will discuss Robert Frost’s The Outsider and how it impacted her.

April 16:  the life (and lies) of an inanimate flying object will review Poetry Speaks Who I Am and host a giveaway for 2 books

April 17:  She Is Too Fond of Books will review Tighty Whitey Spider, A Circle of Books will review a small illustrated Poetry anthology, Wordsworth The Eternal Romantic.

Mini-Review: Merlin’s Harp by Anne Eliot Crompton

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (March 1, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 1402237839
  • Source: Publisher

Back of the book summary:

Nivienne never thought she’d be in direct contact with barbaric Humans-let alone help them  She’s only heard stories of the evil that occurs outside the forest.  But her dear friend Merli has brought word that Arthur’s kingdom-where Humans dwell- is threatened by the Saxons.  If Nivienne doesn’t help, it could be the end for her own peaceful home.  Nivienne must now learn to trust the Humans and her heart.  Even more difficult than going to war alongside your enemies is discovering you are falling in love with them.  Anne Eliot Crompton will immerse you in a world of fantasy, passion, and adventure.

My review:

Let me start off by saying I really wanted to enjoy this book.  I love to read tales about Arthurian legends and the like, and after reading the summary, I was instantly drawn to the book.  Unfortunately, that attraction waned within a few pages.  Crompton’s writing is beautiful, I grant her that.  But it’s so exceedingly flowery and complicated it was very difficult to understand and get interested in.  I found myself rereading passages in attempt to gain understanding of what the author was trying to say. I probably comprehended one sentence out of every paragraph and unfortunately I don’t feel that it’s going to keep the attention of the intended audience. The complicated prose also prevented me from really meshing with any of the characters.

Following is an excerpt of the writing so you can form your own opinion:

Merlin’s Harp Chapter 1 Excerpt

In the end, I don’t know if I could honestly recommend this book to anyone, other than someone who isn’t restricted by excessively complicated writing.  It’s unfortunate as I was hoping this book would make the world of King Arthur exciting again to youth.  The intent was there, but perhaps not the follow-through.

Following is a list of other blog stops on this tour:

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire (March 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402237839

Review: Beautiful Dead, Book 1-Jonas, by Eden Maguire

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire, March 2010
  • ISBN-10: 781402239441
  • Source: Publisher

Four teenagers from Ellerton High have died in the past year: Jonas, Summer, Arizona and Phoenix. All have died under mysterious circumstances. Darina, Phoenix’s girlfriend, is trying to deal with the loss of her boyfriend. She begins to hear the sound of wings beating in her head and then one day, Phoenix appears before her. He tells her about the Beautiful Dead: souls that are unable to pass on to the afterlife. Their bodies are in limbo until they can right the wrong that caused their deaths. They each have one year to solve the mysteries of their death before passing on. Each of the Beautiful Dead have superhuman powers, including the power to erase the memories of those that are living. They are also all marked by a tattoo of angel wings. Darina has been given the special privilege of helping each of them find the answers to the questions surrounding their deaths. But as Darina begins to investigate their deaths, she unveils information that might be best left undiscovered.

This is the first in a series of four books by Eden Maguire; each will focus on one of the Beautiful Dead. Overall, I enjoyed this book. It started off a little slow but the intensity picked up as I continued reading. While the focus of this book is Jonas, we learn a great deal about the relationship between Darina and Phoenix. The character of Hunter, the watcher of the Beautiful Dead, has a bit of mystery surrounding him. I look forward to learning more about his character and of the rest of the Beautiful Dead, in the subsequent books.  Maguire’s writing style is very readable and flows well.   I’d be remiss not to mention the gorgeous cover, it alone will make you want to pick up the book and read it! Beautiful Dead: Jonas Bk.1 (v. 1) is a short and quick read. I recommend it to fans of YA and the paranormal.

In Which My Son and I Review Horrid Henry & the Mummy’s Curse


  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (July 1, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1402217765
  • Source: Publisher
  • As with the other Horrid Henry books, Horrid Henry and the Mummy’s Curse is made up of four hilarious stories about Horrid Henry’s antics.

    My ten-year old, John, and I decided to do a joint review of the title story The Mummy’s Curse.

    In Horrid Henry and the Mummy’s Curse, Henry is doing what he does best-being horrid and getting into trouble.  Since he is unable to share his toys with his younger brother, Perfect Peter, Henry has been banned from playing with Peter’s toys. Typically, that’s not a problem for Henry.  Who wants to play with Peter’s childish, baby toys?  Well, that changed when Peter won a “Curse of the Mummy” kit from the museum.  It came with a plastic body to mummify, mummy wrapping gauze,  a curse book, amulets, and removable mummy organs!  What little boy wouldn’t love this !?

    Perfect Peter soon finds Horrid Henry in his room and threatens to tell on him. But Henry convinces Peter that he’s not stealing his toy, but trying to protect him from the Mummy’s Curse, the curse that turns people into a mummy.  At first Peter doesn’t believe Henry, but he is convinced after a hilarious exchange with his Mom:

    “Mom, ” said Peter, “Henry says you are a mummy.”

    Mom looked puzzled.  “Of course I’m a mummy,” she said.

    “What?” said Peter

    “I’m your mummy,” said Mom,  with a smile.

    Peter too a step back.

    “I don’t want you to be a mummy,” said Peter

    “But I am one,” said Mom.  “Now come and give me a hug.”

    “No!” said Peter

    “Let me wrap my arms around you,” said Mom

    Peter is certain his Mom has been mummified. He asks Henry to help him remove the curse.  Henry insists they must wrap Fluffy, the cat, in the sacred bandages (toilet paper) so he can be a messanger between this world and the next.   Peter, too, must be wrapped and remain silent for thirty minutes. Henry begins chanting the “sacred spell”

    “By the powers of Horus, Morus, Borus and Stegosaurus!”

    But before the spell can be completed, Henry is discovered by his Mummy, I mean, Mom.  He is grounded from the TV for a month, but since Peter no longer wanted anything to do with his mummy kit, Peter had free reign!

    My Review:

    Francesca Simon, author of the Horrid Henry series, does another outstanding job with this one! Each of the four stories are long enough to tell a good story, but short enough to keep the attention of my two boys.  They love to hear about what sort of trouble is getting into next.  My oldest, John, is still convinced he’s Perfect Peter and his younger brother, Justin, is Horrid Henry.  Justin doesn’t seem to mind!

    As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Horrid Henry books are perfect for any child, boy or girl, in the 7-10 age range. But they are particularly great for reluctant readers. The stories and characters engage them and the text isn’t challenging.

    So, like in the past, I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend this, or any of the Horrid Henry series!

    John’s Review:

    I think Henry is a little crazy for telling Peter that their Mom was a Mummy!  He acts like Justin (John’s younger brother), telling you things that are not true.   Horrid Henry was so good at convincing Peter that he was telling the truth. When his Mom said that she was a mummy, she really meant a “Mommy” so that was a little confusing.  Henry was so rude to wrap up Peter and Fluffy!

    I liked this story because I think mummies are interesting.  But I don’t think Henry’s punishment was good. It was a good punishment for Henry to lose his TV privileges, but it wasn’t fair that he still got to play with the mummy kit!  If I had done something like this to Justin (I wouldn’t Mom, I promise) I would definitely get in a lot more trouble! I’d like lose my privileges for a MONTH!

    Stay tuned for more reviews from John!  He’s starting to receive his own review requests, so he’s pretty excited!

    Book Review & Blog Tour: Thirteen Days of Halloween by Carol Greene



  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks
  • ISBN-10: 0816769656
  • Source: Publisher


    Halloween is a popular holiday in our household, so when I was approached by Sourcebooks about reviewing a children’s Halloween book I jumped at the opportunity!

    Everyone is familiar with the Twelve Days of Christmas, right?  What about the Thirteen Days of Halloween?  In this hilarious story, a ghoul tries to win the heart of his beloved.  He does so by presenting her with a slew of outrageous and ghoulish gifts, including bats, cooked worms, and hissing cats.

    My boys demanded to read this book as soon as we received it (back in the summer!).  They fell in love with the silly and lyrical language.   They loved counting down the days and  would both call out each gift as we went along.  They enjoyed screaming the first gift “A VULTURE IN A DEAD TREE!!!” The elaborate illustrations, done by Tim Raglin, were a perfect complement to the engaging text.  As we read along with the text, my boys made a game of finding each of the “gifts” in the illustrations.  We all had a great time guessing what the final gift was; the final consensus was “an ugly zombie!”  What can I say, they’re my boys!  We all have an obsession with zombies!

    This book will definitely be making a reappearance as we get closer to Halloween and a treasured book for years to come!  This is a must read for any ghoul this Halloween season!  Thank you to Sourcebooks for providing me a copy of this book for review.