Puckster’s Christmas Hockey Tournament by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, illustrated by Kelly Findley

Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Paperback, 24 pgs
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Puckster’s Christmas Hockey Tournament by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, illustrated by Kelly Findley, is a story about reaching your goals and remembering that family and friends are the most important parts of our lives. Puckster helps out Canada’s National Junior Team, organizing their sticks and water bottles to ensure they are prepared for the game.  He’s getting ready to travel with the team for the championship game, and his family and friends are to meet him there on Christmas day.

While the message is good and clear, children who are unable to read the story on their own may find there is too much text to follow.  While the pictures are cute, there is little action in the story and a lot of exposition.  My daughter listened to the entire story, though I would stop reading the text to have her identify the animals in the pictures to keep her attention on the book.  She said after reading it that she didn’t like when Puckster pretended to be Santa Claus by pasting wet paper towels to his face.  She said that was not nice, though she may not have understood that he was trying to do something nice for his friends.

Puckster’s Christmas Hockey Tournament by Lorna Schultz Nicholson, illustrated by Kelly Findley, is a cute little book about what family and friends mean to us and how they should always be important.  This book, however, is a little bit beyond what my daughter is ready for, but would be good for kids ages 5+.

About the Author:

Lorna Schultz Nicholson is a full-time writer who has published over 20 award-winning books, including Roughing! and Northern Star. Her nonfiction book, Home Ice, was on the Globe and Mail bestseller list for many months and was a top selling sports book during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Lorna divides her time between Calgary and Penticton, where she and her husband share their homes with their crazy Mexican dog, Poncho,and a whiny bichon-shih tzu Molly.

The Rat by Elise Gravel

Source: Tundra Books
Hardcover, 32 pages
On Amazon and on Kobo

The Rat (Disgusting Creatures) by Elise Gravel packs a lot of information in its pages and includes colorful images and punchy commentary.  My daughter enjoys looking at the fun pictures of the Rat, and some of the large words are easier for her to notice, which makes a teachable moment for her to learn new words.  While some of the information may be too much for kids in one sitting, after a few reads, kids will learn more an more about rats.  Other books in the series focus on flies, head lice, slugs, spiders, and worms.  Most kids are fascinated with bugs and creepy crawly things, probably because they are smaller and often within their field of view and touch, unlike birds and other animals.

Gravel’s images are fun, and it allows young readers to learn about the rat, his habits, and his behavior, as well as how important rats are to human research.  When the rat picks her nose with her tail, kids will laugh or say its disgusting.  It’s just one example of how these books can entertain readers as well as help them learn.  The Rat (Disgusting Creatures) by Elise Gravel is fun and informative, allowing young readers to learn new words and spellings, while also having fun with life’s more creepy creatures.

About the Author/Illustrator:

Elise Gravel is an award-winning author/illustrator from Quebec. She was the winner of the 2013 Governor General’s Award for Children’s Illustration in French, and is well-known in Quebec for her original, wacky picture books. She has published a number of books with US publisher Blue Apple and is currently working on a graphic novel for Roaring Brook Press. Having completed her studies in graphic design, Elise found herself quickly swept up into the glamorous world of illustration. Her old design habits drive her to work a little text here and there into her drawings and she loves to handle the design of her assignments from start to finish. She is inspired by social causes and is likes projects that can handle a good dose of eccentricity.

57th book for 2014 New Author Reading Challenge.

The Bambino and Me by Zachary Hyman

Source: Tundra Books and LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Hardcover, 48 pages
On Amazon and on Kobo

The Bambino and Me by Zachary Hyman, illustrated by Zachary Pullen and audio narration by Jason Alexander, is a great little book about baseball and the heroes we have as children.  While this story is completely fictionalized, the author used some of Babe Ruth’s own words to inspire the story.  A young boy, named George, receives a baseball jersey for his birthday, but its for the wrong team.  George is a New York Yankees fan, but his uncle just buys him a nice jersey to wear to his first baseball game with his father.  George’s dream to see Babe Ruth play for the Yankees is about the come true, but there’s only one catch, his mother is going to make him wear his present, a Red Sox Jersey.  And if you know anything about baseball, that’s not a good situation.

George also has another problem, he’s not very good at bat when he plays with his friends, but Babe Ruth has some great advice about that.  For ages 6-9, this book is geared mostly toward boys who struggle with their sports abilities and fitting in just as much as girls.  However, my daughter really enjoyed the audio version narrated by Jason Alexander as we followed along with the book.  She liked it so much we read it twice in a row.  When I asked her what her favorite part of the book was, she said, “The Bambino.”

The Bambino and Me by Zachary Hyman, illustrated by Zachary Pullen and audio narration by Jason Alexander, is a great story for young readers about heroes and the bravery it takes to be an individual and keep trying no matter how much we fail.  There are great messages here about perseverance, respecting the gifts we’re given, and the respect we need to show to our families and others. Jason Alexander is superb as he breathes life into the main protagonist, his mother, and the Babe. He’s a great actor and it shines through in his vibrant narration.

About the Author:

Zachary Hyman is one of North America’s top young hockey prospects and was drafted by the Florida Panthers in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. In 2011, Hockey Canada named Zachary Hyman the Canadian Junior A Player of the Year and his sweater hung in the Hockey Hall of Fame. His love of baseball and his passion for history inspired Zachary to pen The Bambino and Me. Hyman studies and plays hockey at the University of Michigan, where in 2012 he received the Freshman Academic Achievement Award.

About the Illustrator:

Zachary Pullen’s character-oriented illustrations have been seen in numerous publications including The New York Times Book Review, Sports Illustrated, Esquire, and The Wall Street Journal to name a few. He has been honored several times through the prestigious Society of Illustrators juried shows and Communication Arts Illustration Annual of the best in current illustration. Pullen lives with his wife and son in Wyoming. To see more of his work, please visit www.zacharypullen.com.

About the Narrator:

Jason Alexander is best known for his role as George Costanza on the TV series Seinfeld, but his acting credits span from the Broadway stage to film to music videos. His list of awards is long and varied, and includes a Tony Award and Magician of the Year at the esteemed Magic Castle in Los Angeles. He’s also an award-winning author, librettist and director; a noted cabaret artist and comedian; and a poker enthusiast. A true renaissance man, he lives in Los Angeles with his wife and sons.

37th book for 2014 New Author Challenge.





20th book for 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.