Dork Diaries Book 1 by Rachel Renee Russell

6054449Dork Diaries Book 1: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell
Dork Diaries #1

Published 2nd June 2009 by Aladdin



It’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid for girls in this hilarious novel!
Meet Nikki Maxwell! She’s starting eighth grade at a new school—and her very first diary packed with hilarious stories and art in Book One of the #1 New York Times bestselling Dork Diaries series!

New school. New mean girl. New crush. New diary so I can spill about all of it…

I put a lot of really personal stuff in this diary along with my sketches and doodles.

But, mostly it’s about how TRAUMATIC it was transferring to my new private middle school, Westchester Country Day.

And, how a lot of the CCP (Cool, Cute & Popular) kids were really SNOBBY and made my life TOTALLY miserable. People like, oh, I don’t know, maybe…


And, it just so happened that I got stuck with a locker right next to hers. I could NOT believe I had such CRAPPY luck. I knew right then and there it was going to be a VERY, VERY long school year 😦 !


My little sister has been reading the Dork Diaries series and I’ve always wondered about the content of these. My brother is a huge Wimpy Kid fan, and seeing how both Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries are constantly on the best sellers list, I finally decided to give it a go too.

I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting Dork Diaries is. The main character Nikki, is incredibly believable as a tween protagonist. I reminisced a lot about my own youth, and how I behaved when I wanted certain things and my own great sense of entitlement at the time. Dork Diaries has a lot of plus points: there’s so many things that we could discuss to kids about in this book, both as an educator and as a parent. It makes for good conversation, and its a book that is bound to be enjoyable for both boys and girls (albeit, leaning towards girls).

I did have my fair share of concerns, one being the use of the word retarded to describe herself, whenever she does something that’s silly. It’s not excusable. Its derogatory, its hurtful and its just not necessary. I would have preferred if she just stuck to the word “silly” to describe her own silly behaviour. Another concern is the fact that Nikki describes her parents are brain dead, for the simple reason that they do not buy her a phone despite her constant hints. Again, the language used here is very coarse and something that I don’t want younger children to use. They are not ok and it will not ever be okay.

I get the perspective that these are important key points that educators and parents can pick up and explain to them the dangers of using such hurtful words, or the concept of being rude and inappropriate but if we continually expose them in situations that “should be” taken as humour, it might be taken lightly to them too.

While I do have my concerns, Dork Diaries is still overall a very good and enjoyable book. As always, with children books, exercise with caution and always educate, educate, educate!



#metoo by Lori Perkins

36531293#MeToo Essays About how and Why This Happened, What It Means and How to Make Sure It Never Happens by Lori Perkins

Published 3 November 2017 by Riverdale Avenue Books


Summary: #MeToo: Essays About How and Why This Happened,

What It Means and How To Make Sure It Never Happens Again

More than 16 million people had posted their #MeToo story and support against sexual harassment by mid-October as a reaction to Rose McGowan’s brave admission that she had allegedly been raped by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. A groundswell of reaction to and exposure of this sexual predation was unleashed that has spread throughout Europe and beyond. New revelations of unacceptable behavior in every industry break every day as people come forward in response to the viral #MeToo posts. Protests are scheduled such as the “Take back the Workplace” Hollywood march in November of 2017, and legislation is being drafted in New York and California to finally change the way things have been for far too long.

This is the turning point. Things are going to change.

This is a historic moment and it needs to be memorialized, passed around and passed on. Although social media is a fantastic means of igniting a fire, it needs to keep burning, like a torch.

So Riverdale Avenue Books, a woman-owned leading hybrid publisher, is putting its money, words and power, behind this and publishing this collection of 26 essays from people who understand want to make this change, and we, as a society, have got to figure out a way to drive that change forward.

So pass this book around. Share it with your sons, brothers, fathers, your daughters, sisters and mothers, your co-workers and friends. Read passages to them, if they won’t read it for themselves. Leave it on the desk of someone who should know better.

Help us make this movement more than a hashtag.


#metoo, #metoo, #metoo.

I’ve been following the discussion on #metoo and honestly, this is one of the more important conversations we need to be having with each other. As I followed the news, I felt myself getting angrier and angrier. At a tender age of 13/14, I met a boy. And in the span on those turbulent 9 months, those were the most difficult times of my life. Back then I didn’t think of the word for it — I didn’t see it for what it was, but I knew that whatever happened wasn’t right. It wasn’t then, and when I think about it now, it’s not okay now either. At that age, I thought it was my fault, that maybe I brought it upon myself for being too forward with a boy a year older than me. That maybe I had led him on into thinking that this was okay.

I was wrong, and I want to tell my 13 year old self that whatever happened to me then, was not and will never be my mistake. #metoo taught me a lot — about sexual harassment, the different types of; the fact that sexual predators can be so sly and cunning and be as young as kids in high school. It’s something that’s been going on for centuries long, one that I hadn’t put my finger on or a name on it — until now.

I think the saddest part of reading this is that most people didn’t have an adult or person they could trust. The people they trusted betrayed them the most, and in search for help, they found themselves stuck in a cycle of hurt and distrust. Sexual harassment and abuse does a lot to a person’s psych. It damages them in some form and sadly… the predator usually doesn’t realise he’s in the wrong. Then there’s the people who are aware and don’t do anything, or the people who minimise the situation by telling you “it’s your own fault”.

I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t. It just happened when a boy gave me the ultimatum of a negative and a negative. I lost, no matter my decision.

I need you to read this. I need you to.

I want you to know that I’m here for you.

We need to change the system and make it safer for our children.

Please, I pray it will never be you too.



Krista Kim-Bap by Angela Ahn

35801649Krista Kim-Bap by Angela Ahn
Published 18 Apr 2018 by Second Story Press

Disclaimer: I received an advanced readers copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Summary: Krista and Jason have been best friends since preschool. It never mattered that he was a boy with reddish brown hair and she was “the Korean girl” at school. Now in fifth grade, everyone in their class is preparing their Heritage Month projects. Jason has always loved Krista’s Korean family, and particularly her mom’s cooking, but Krista is conflicted about being her school’s “Korean Ambassador.” She’s also worried about asking her intimidating grandma to teach the class how to cook their traditional kim-bap. Combine that with her new friends pulling her away from Jason, and Krista has a lot to deal with this year!


Let’s talk about Krista Kim-bap.

No, seriously. Let’s talk about it.

This book is such a conversation starter. There are so many good morals within this book that the Middle Grade book world just doesn’t have enough of. Let’s start with the very obvious: the title of the book. Krista Kim-bap follows a titular character called Krista Kim. She’s a Korean-Canadian girl who knows little to nothing about her culture except that they eat Korean food and lots of kimchi.

Krista goes on a journey to find out more about her culture, the intimate story behind the Koreans love for food and rediscovers what it means to love yourself, being confident and breaking the status quo.

I love this book. For starters, this is a diverse book. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t see that many books about Korean culture, period. It’s pretty exciting to see the different aspects of their culture, told by a Korean and seeing it through the eyes of a child and how they’re raised by their parents and grandparents. I think there’s a lot of importance for kids to be learning about other’s cultures and traditions; learning how to respect people who are different than us and celebrate their differences. Its completely excellent how Krista loves being Korean and doesn’t necessarily want to change anything about herself.

Middle grade books are targeted mostly to children aged 8 – 12, so some of the topics discussed here may be a little heavy for younger children; so if you are a parent or a teacher, this is your call. You’re gonna have to decide what is appropriate and what isn’t and filter accordingly — but: this book does talk a little bit about plastic surgery.

The discussion about plastic surgery is a short one, but the aftermath of that short discussion creates something we need to talk about. Krista’s grandmother is pretty big on plastic surgery, and admittedly, from what we’ve seen in Korean dramas or read on the gossip news, it seems like a pretty big thing in Korea too. She has a discussion with Krista and her older sister Tori about getting double eyelid surgery when they’re older in Korea, which leads to Krista’s eventual experiment with eyelid tape. This is of course met with disapproval from her mother, who finds it completely okay to have “Korean eyes” and not have the need to look like anyone in the magazines.

Krista Kim-bap is a bit of a fresh breath of air. I do think its an interesting book with a lot room for discussion and maintains its relevance to our current society. Filter this book or not, discuss it or not, but Krista Kim-bap can teach you so many things even as a grown adult.

Because loving yourself, being respectful to other people and walking to the beat of your own drums will never go out of style.



Home Sweet Home By Mia Cassany

cover124280-mediumHome Sweet Home by Mia Cassany

Published 3 Oct 2017 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Summary: Kids will have their imaginations captured by this beautiful, non-fiction picture book that looks at home from around the world. Home from Home celebrates the wide diversity of living quarters people around the world live in.

Find out who lives in a Brooklyn brownstone or a Tokyo apartment! What about a London townhouse, or a cabin in Reykjavik?

Up and coming talent Paula Blumen illustrates all of these great views of home. There’s never been a better time to remember the importance of home for everyone.


I love this book! From the illustrations to the cute little stories, it is fantastic! This book is great for discussions, interactive games and is suitable for children aged 3 and above. What I particularly like is that it is written from the point of view of the pets living in a particular home. We get to learn about the type of place it lives in, the people they live with and so on.

The illustrations are beautiful and captivating. I did a reading with my 7 year old sister and she loved it. She was into the colours, trying to spot different animals and we also did a discussion about the differences of all the houses. I loved that we got to travel to places we’ve ever been and see the houses and civilisation in that area.

We’re also exposed to different languages, where for example, when the book heads to China we get to see Chinese characters written everywhere in the streets and that easily opens up another conversation with children about languages and text.

It can be so difficult to find a book that’s engaging and interactive as this, all while being educational. I would love to have a copy of this in my classroom and just talk to the children about people, animals, cultures, languages and lifestyles.

One of the best new children’s book that I’ve discovered this year, hands down.



The Girl Who Said Sorry By Hayoung Yim

cover122335-mediumThe Girl Who Said Sorry by Hayoung Yim

Published 5 Oct 2017 by Rhyming Reason Books

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Summary: Too girly or too boyish. Too thin or too fat. Too quiet, too loud. Be ambitious, but don’t hurt feelings. Be inquisitive, but don’t interrupt. Be outspoken, but don’t be bossy. Most of all, be yourself–but be a lady.

What’s a girl to do in a world filled with contradicting gender expectations, aside from saying sorry?

The way we teach politeness norms to children is often confusing, changing based on gender–and can have lasting effects. And while everyone should be courteous and accountable for their actions, apologetic language out of context can undermine confidence and perceived capability.

Within the subtle yet beautiful illustrations and powerful rhyme of “The Girl Who Said Sorry,” developing girls will learn that self-expression and personal choices can be made without apology, and with confidence.

50% of profits from this book is donated to Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation campaign dedicated to empowering young girls to take action on global issues.



Parents and educators: this is the one book you REALLY NEED ON YOUR SHELF FOR YOUR KIDS.

I found myself nodding while I read this because I could relate so much to this. Growing up, I heard a lot of stereotypes about being a girl. I should do this, not that, but you know… don’t be too girly, as if it was possible to measure the level of your feminism on any form of scale. It baffled me, that being a “tomboy” was seen as not raising your girls right, but then chastised for being too soft or quiet.

As a kid I always wondered: what is it that these adults actually want from me?

Our main character is often saying sorry, because she never seems to meet anyone’s expectations. She is neither here nor there, she cannot be this or that. The ending summaries it so well:

Words and choices that don’t hurt anybody else, I will not say “Sorry” — They’re an expression of myself

And that is exactly it.

This book is going to teach kids that they shouldn’t say sorry for being expressive and themselves. That they can be whatever they want to be, without judgement, if they aren’t hurting anyone else.

The book is short and simple to read and also has very nice accompanying illustrations.

Please buy this for your little girls (and even boys)! Teach them not to undermine themselves and to stand tall and proud of who they are without apology.

50% of profits from this book is donated to Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation campaign dedicated to empowering young girls to take action on global issues. I urge you to buy the book and contribute to a great cause for young girls everywhere.



Don’t Dangle Your Participle By Vanita Oelschlager

18143322Don’t Dangle Your Participle by Vanita Oelschlager

Published 1 May 2014 by Vanita Books

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Summary: Words and pictures show children what a dangling participle is all about. Young readers are shown an incorrect sentence that has in it a dangling participle. They are then taught how to make the sentence read correctly. It is done in a cute and humorous way. The dangling participle loses its way and the children learns how to help it find its way back to the correct spot in the sentence. This is followed by some comical examples of sentences with dangling participles and their funny illustrations, followed by an illustration of the corrected sentence. Young readers will have fun recognizing this problem in sentence construction and learning how to fix it.



Being in preschool education, I’m always on the look out for books that’s going to help us in the classroom and THIS IS IT. To most, this may be quite advanced for a 6 year old, but living in Singapore, this is exactly the thing we need to prepare the children for at age 6. My centre’s preschool curriculum is pretty tough, once they turn 6 and begin to prepare for their entrance to Primary schools. Teaching and helping them understand can be a struggle sometimes.

I love this book so much. The illustrations make it so clear for children to understand and helps us as educators to explain the concept of participles to them. English can be quite vague and it can be tough to explain to children using only words. The illustrations explain the concept perfectly through a fun and humorous way.

Colourful and short enough to gain attention, illustrated well to understand. A must have in every teacher’s arsenal. Get it, get it, get it now!



The Most Magnificent Thing By Ashley Spires


18383325The Most Magnificent Thing By Ashley Spires

Published 1 Apr 2014 By Kids Can Press

Disclaimer: I received a review copy through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Summary: A little girl and her canine assistant set out to make the most magnificent thing. But after much hard work, the end result is not what the girl had in mind. Frustrated, she quits. Her assistant suggests a long walk, and as they walk, it slowly becomes clear what the girl needs to do to succeed. A charming story that will give kids the most magnificent thing: perspective!

What a cute little dream of a book! The Most Magnificent Thing features a girl and her pet dog who is on a mission to create the most magnificent thing. In her journey, she discovers what it means to explore creativity and the power of perseverance.

I loved this. As a preschool teacher, this is a book that I would definitely love to place in our centre’s library and introduce to my class. I loved that the main character is a girl who is an inventor. Often enough, I tend to hear the boys in my classroom say “but you’re a girl and that’s for boys”. After putting an end to that, I would always tell the children that gender should’t be a reason why you can and cannot do something.

I love simple little books like this that focuses on gender, different types of occupations and the use of imagination. I noticed that as the years go by the children in my class are more afraid to experiment be it with colours, or journal writings. This is a great book that shows the children that you don’t need something “perfect”, and that you should’t give up whenever things don’t go your way. It is always the journey, and never the destination.

The writing is simple enough for children aged 4 and above and good for those who are emergent readers. Teachers and parents, this is one for the shelves!