Mini Reviews / Dork Diaries #2 – #4

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Tales from a Not-So-Popular Party Girl (Dork Diaries #2) / Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star (Dork Diaries #3) / Skating Sensation (Dork Diaries #4) by Rachel Renee Russell

Following my initial review of Dork Diaries, I just couldn’t help myself. My sister started reading book #2 and wouldn’t shut up about it that I continued reading and… I couldn’t stop. I read it one after another and only came to a stop because I couldn’t find book #5 at the library.


If you recall, I wasn’t too crazy about the language used in this book. I don’t agree with the use of the word ‘retard’ and I didn’t like the way she treated her family. I had my fair share of concerns about this book but I’m happy to report that the series does indeed get better.

Nikki does a fair bit of growing up. She gains perspective about her parents and in particular, her father. Nikki becomes grateful towards her father for scoring her a scholarship at the school, despite her initial hatred for him because he is a pest exterminator. Sure she’s still embarrassed about the giant cockroach above his van and the fact that she needs to ride in it occasionally, but she’s not such a brat about it anymore. As far as I can remember, the language has improved a little bit, though I’m still not too crazy about it. Perhaps its written as such to make it believable that a teenager is writing this diary instead of a grown woman, but still.

My favourite so far is book 3 and 4, but I’m leaning more towards 4 because I feel that that’s where Nikki grows up the most. She becomes kind and compassionate towards other people and feels apologetic for her behaviour towards her family and other people in her life.

Is this series worth reading? Yes, yes, absolutely yes. Suitable for children aged 6 and above — but be aware: parental guidance and discussions may be required. As always, proceed with caution and do what you feel is best for your children and students.



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!



Look Where We Live! By Scot Ritchie

Look Where We Live! By Scot Ritchie
Published 1 April 2015 By Kids Can Press

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o the publisher via Netgalley.


Summary: This fun and informational picture book follows five friends as they explore their community during a street fair. The children find adventure close to home while learning about the businesses, public spaces and people in their neighborhood. Young readers will be inspired to re-create the fun-filled day in their own communities.

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Look Where We Live is interactive, fun and refreshing.

Look Where We Live discusses about our local community and regardless of where you live in the world, this is certainly something that most people can relate to. There are different aspects that this book takes you through, such as different occupations, different locations and so on.

Look Where We Live really allowed both my younger sister and I to integrate ourselves into the community and really allowed us to have a discussion about our own local community and what we see on a day to day basis. Books like Look Where We Live are important, and its great for daily discussions and reflections. It helps us to really see our community as it is, and how different people, big or small can really play their part in the community.

This book is great for character building as well. I believe there was a page that discusses cutting queues, which is something I’m sure most of us dislike but have to put up with. Again, Look Where We Live is really a simple book about the surrounding community, but there is a lot more to the book than meets the eye.

I particularly love books that are interactive and can set discussions going. To me, those are the elements that I am looking for when reading books to my younger sister and the kind of books that I want to bring into my classroom.

Overall, a wonderful read. Recommended for young children, but could certainly see the worth in bringing such a simple book into a middle grade class or to be read to slightly older kids.

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Max the Brave By Ed Vere

Max the Brave By Ed Vere
Published 5 June 2014 By Puffin Books

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o the publisher via Netgalley.


Summary: Are You My Mother? meets I Want My Hat Back in this hilarious picture book featuring your new favorite kitty

Max is a fearless kitten. Max is a brave kitten. Max is a kitten who chases mice. There’s only one problem—Max doesn’t know what a mouse looks like! With a little bit of bad advice, Max finds himself facing a much bigger challenge. Maybe Max doesn’t have to be Max the Brave all the time…

Join this adventurous black cat as he very politely asks a variety of animals for help in finding a mouse. Young readers will delight in Max’s mistakes, while adults will love the subtle, tongue-in-cheek humor of this new children’s classic.

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I loved Max the Brave.

I’m always on the lookout for children’s books for my younger sister and trying to get her to be more interested in books. Max the Brave was perfect.

In some ways, Max the Brave was very interactive. Max is a cat who is trying to be more brave and catch a mouse — the thing is, he doesn’t know what a mouse looks like. So off we go following Max and his journey to look for a mouse. He travels, meeting an array of different animals, big and small, in his hunt to catch a mouse.

Max is always asking: are you a mouse? Which really gets the interactive part going. My sister is consistently responding to the book, yelling out answers — which is when I know a book is great for kids and for use in class. It also gets a discussion going: is Max brave?

The story that Max the Brave tells is so simple. Yet, it is so interactive and enabled me to have a lovely discussion with my sister about bravery and animals. I love it so much that I’m considering borrowing a copy from my local library to bring it into my classroom for my students to enjoy.

Definitely recommend Max the Brave for the younger ones — and would definitely be great in the classroom!

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