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Children's Books from Schiffer Publishing, Inc Review by Christine Hindle

4880 Lower Valley Rd
Atglen, PA 19310

I received 10 children’s books from Schiffer to review:

Shirley’s Cakes
Shirley’s Cakes is a hardback book with about 32 glossy pages. The illustrations are nice, but the story was a little odd. Shirley doesn’t like cake because it is too dry, and the frosting doesn’t suit her. Plus, she objects to just about every use of cakes. After going around and foisting her opinions on everyone else, she finally has an “Aha!” moment and decides to make a cake herself. Predictably, it turns out just wonderful and everyone loves it.  There are a few recipes tacked on to the end of the story.

On page 10, I found this:  “Shirley was causing a raucous.”  Raucous is an adjective meaning “rowdy” or “disorderly.  I believe Shirley was causing a “ruckus.”  Ruckus is a noun meaning a “disturbance” or a “commotion.”  How did this get past the proofreaders?

In a bookstore, I would not be attracted to the cover of this book.  It could have been a lot more interesting. If I thumbed through it, I would not buy it. The story was not very engaging. I wanted to like this book, but did not.

Boomer Explores Annapolis
This book is a hardback with approximately 30 pages. The illustrations are cute and engaging. The reading level is about a 1st or 2nd grade level, so this book is suitable for a child reading it themselves.

Boomer is a little dog who explores his hometown of Annapolis, MD, where the Naval Academy and other historic landmarks are located. His owner Bridget is not far behind him in her hunt for the wandering little dog. Locals keep her informed as they spot Boomer on his explorations.

The story line is fun and it mixes in a little Geography and History lesson. This would be nice extra reading for an Elementary School aged homeschooler. My 6-year-old granddaughter loved it.

Are You Sure That Was a Rabbit?
This is a hardback book of approximately 32 pages. The illustrations are a little quirky, and not really something that would draw me to the book.

The story is mostly a front for a “green” agenda. A public school class does Yoga, and then goes on a nature walk to an organic garden, where a little mention of “global warming” is inserted. Recycling is also featured. The “hook” in the story is that the class sees a rabbit, thinks it is a rat, and the teacher explains the difference.  Then they see a squirrel, think it is a rat, and again the teacher explains it. At the end, they do see a rat, and the teacher runs off in terror leaving her class behind.

I will not be using this book with my homeschoolers.

Wild Colt
This book is a hardback with approximately 40 pages. It is beautifully illustrated. The pages look like oil paintings on canvas.

The story is simple, but compelling, as it follows the life of a colt from birth until it becomes the friend of a child. The beautiful illustrations contain pictures of a lot of gorgeous wetland creatures, which are all identified after the story on two extra pages. Following are facts about the wetlands and some discussion topics.

My young granddaughter loved the book, and so did my teenage granddaughter who loves to draw animals, specifically horses.

I think this book would go hand in hand with an Elementary-aged child’s study of nature. I recommend it to homeschoolers for use with their science programs.

Bugs in Shoes
This book is an easy-to-read hardback with approximately 50 pages. Each two pages have a 3-word phrase on one side, and an illustration on the facing page. The illustrations are supposedly “bugs”, but they look more like people. On each page, they are sporting a different pair of shoes.  Some of the phrases are “bugs in bows,” “bugs in shirts,” and “bugs in skirts.”

Other than being a book a young child can read by themselves, I did not find it all that entertaining, and I am not sure what the point was. I will not be keeping this book in my permanent collection.

Double-Talk – Word Sense & Nonsense
This book is a hardback of approximately 30 pages with fun, whimsical illustrations. It explores compound words and meanings of words. For instance, one two-page spread has a wonderful illustration of a cat and mouse sitting on the banks of a pond, and the story reads, “One cat tail twitches, As kitty cat hides. A row of cattails, Stands tall alongside.” Another illustration shows a man enjoying a lunch of fried chicken as a band marches by. The story reads, “One drumstick plays drums, To help keep the beat. One drumstick tastes good, A big treat to eat.”

This book will be wonderful along with a reading / language curriculum. The cover says it is for age groups Pre-K to 3. I am definitely using it with my 6-year-old’s homeschool curriculum.

The Tale of Strawberry Snow
This book is a hardback with approximately 45 pages. The layout of each two-page spread is a story on one side and a full page illustration on the other. The inside cover says it is for age groups Pre-K – 3.

This is the story of a new filly’s foray out into the world. The filly was born in Chincoteague on the Chesapeake Bay, but in a barn – not one of the wild horses the area is famous for. She goes out for her first exploration around the barnyard, and makes friends with a spider in a wood bin. She does not want to go back in the barn when her playtime is over, but the spider encourages her to do so.  She is happy to discover that he is still there the next morning.

This is a nice story that will be enjoyed during story time in our homeschool.

Big Billy and the Ice Cream Truck That Wouldn’t Stop
This book is a hardback with approximately 46 pages, intended for grades K-4. The illustrations are nice.

The story in this book just doesn’t make sense. It starts out with an ice cream truck driver described as “The world’s most evil, sinister, and wicked ice cream truck driver.” That is a no-go right there. This ice cream truck driver goes through the neighborhood, kids beg their parents for money, and the parents give it to them (apparently to get the kids out of their hair). However, when the kids go to buy ice cream, the driver speeds off.  He does this every time. What would be the point of speeding off, if you are in the business of selling ice cream? So “Big Billy”, who really likes ice cream to the point of gluttony (he can eat “24 ice cream sandwiches, 16 rocket pops, 15 cherry bombs, 5 hot fudge sundaes, and still have room for a banana split with whip cream and a cherry on top”), devises a plan.  The next day the kids all hide, and then pursue the ice cream truck on their bikes (not recommended). Then Big Billy stands in the middle of the street, and the driver has to slam on his brakes, which deploys his airbag. All the ice cream falls out of the truck, and the kids begin to gorge themselves on it. At this point the kids notice that Big Billy is still standing there, so they start piling melting ice cream bars at his feet. He then offers one to the driver. Wow! Not only is this unentertaining, but it is just obnoxious. My child will never come near this book.

Bertie the Bumble Bee – Troubled by the Letter “b”
This is a hardback book of approximately 40 pages with bright, stylized illustrations.
This is your basic starting to school book. Bertie Bumblebee has trouble keeping his b’s and d’s straight.  He keeps writing “b” backwards and getting “d.” The other kids make fun of him, but his mom and his teacher persevere, and he soon learns a trick to get it straight. He remembers that bees make honey and honey starts with “h.” He has no trouble with “h” so his teacher says just make an “h” and close off the bottom to make your “b.” Soon he is successful at knowing his letter sounds and how to write them.

In the back of the book are parental helps for teaching the letter sounds and a song (to the tune of “Skip to My Lou”) that goes through all the letter sounds. Also, there is a sample worksheet and instructions on how to make them for your student.

This book will be a very helpful supplement to phonics instruction, and encouraging to a young child who is just starting to learn. It will be a part of my homeschool library.

Mallory the Forgetful Duck
This book is a hardback with approximately 36 pages. The inside cover says it is for grade levels K-3. The illustrations are very nice and depict a lot of wild birds.

This is a fun story of a duck named Mallory that forgets things all the time. She even forgets if she has taken a nap yet or not. One day she forgets where her nest and eggs are. She goes looking and finds several different kinds of nests with different kinds of eggs. Each time the mother bird appears and tells Mallory that those are not Mallory’s eggs, and Mallory inquires how she knows.  Each mother thinks her eggs are the finest ever. Finally, Mallory finds her nest and her ducklings hatch. She wonders if she will forget her babies next, but she realizes that she will not because her babies are the finest ever!

This will make a great story time book for our homeschool and will be a part of our permanent collection.

Product Review by Christine Hindle, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2012