Bookscoops Fall 2013 Giveaway and Review: Only Cows Allowed by Lynn Plourde illustrated by Rebecca Harrison Reed




only cows allowed


Children will enjoy the vivid watercolor illustrations and the puns that fill the pages of this down-home country book. Adults will love it too- it’s especially perfect for those country romantics who think that moving to the country and starting up a farm are the ultimate dream. If you know someone like this, Only Cows Allowed by Lynn Plourde would make a great house-warming gift! Illustrator, Rebecca Harrison Reed, captures the joy of a brand-new ‘real’ farmer and all the new animals that make up his farm. The first ones to take over the red barn are the cows, who decide they are the best thing that happened to country living and no other animal is needed- much less allowed.


As all the other animals prove they have a place on the farm and make themselves at home in the barn, the cows are not happy. When the cows begin to feel outnumbered, they skip out. Check out the book to find out where the cows make their new home. Or… check out this video by Author Lynn Plourde on her fabulous website, Lynn!


At illustrator Rebecca Harrison Reed’s website you can see the awards she won for her wonderful illustrations in Only Cows Allowed in 2012!

Rebecca Harrison Reed, illustrator of Only Cows Allowed!

Bookscoops is running a giveaway of one hardback copy of Only Cows Allowed! generously provided by publisher Down East Enterprise, Inc. To enter, please leave a comment about your craziest life dream- whether it’s to start a farm or run a marthon. Leave your answer in a comment on this post, or on our facebook page, for one entry each place. You can also share this review and giveaway via facebook, twitter or instagram. Please leave a comment letting us know what you did, so we can enter you as many times as you deserve! Entries are limited to continental United states only, and our giveaway closes at midnight, MST, October 25, 2013.



Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendac

Where the Wild Things Are has long been one of my favorite children’s books. My family and I own copies in both Spanish and English (although I must admit, I prefer the original English version). In fact, I love this book so much, that a few years ago, my friends and I entered a sidewalk chalk art contest and re-created one of our favorite scenes. We had a great time hearing all the comments as people walked by. . . Almost without fail recognizing and reminiscing about reading this book at school, at home, or at the library. Kids were universally excited to relate to a famous piece of art and literature outside of a typical literary setting.

Holly (in the purple shirt) and friends with Max

Needless to say, I was super excited when I heard about the movie, which was shown in theatres during the fall of 2009, and is now being released on DVD. I had heard great reviews, and convinced my sweetie that we should go on a date to watch the movie so I could include it in my review of the book. As you can tell, I obviously didn’t post a review right away. Part of that was due to moving at the same time, and part of that was due to the fact that I really didn’t like the movie.

We’ve had this discussion before in the kidlit world with Chronicles of Narnia. I continue to hold to my opinion that it is very difficult to produce a movie of a book that truly satisfies the literature loving world. So, my reasons for not liking the movie? Well, let’s start with what I did like: the costumes/animation and the creation of the Wild Thing’s world were all phenomenal. The ‘Wild Things’ were true to form and very accurately portrayed physically. What really caused me discomfort was the level of dysfunction and anger in Max and his family. Maybe I’ve lived too sheltered of a life, but the book, in my opinion, wasn’t about a dysfunctional, hurting boy. The book was meant for a much larger audience- one that understands that little boys are sometimes wild and do crazy things that get them sent to time out. And, having spent a fair number of hours in time out as a child, I also know that time out is often a place where your imagination takes over to entertain you. Even for minor infractions of the ‘law’, timeout can inspire wild imaginings of running away to a place where everyone thinks you are wonderful and you can do no wrong.

Apparently, when Maurice Sendak first published this book, he was criticized for creating too dark of a children’s book. Some people think that the movie will eventually enjoy the same degree of fame and appreciation. I disagree. I do, however, believe that English teachers will use it in the classroom and come up with assignments to get kids thinking about what deep things Max is really struggling with. I hope that kids will learn to love and appreciate the book long before they ever see the movie, because I think the movie will be likely to change their perception of the book. I also don’t recommend the movie for young children- the target audience of the book. It’s simply inappropriate for young children, but of course, that is also a matter of opinion.

What do you think?

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson

hattie big skyHattie Brooks is full of hard work and determination. Orphaned at a young age and forced to bounce among relatives, Hattie is surprised when an uncle’s will appears and offers her a new start- on her own in Vida, Montana. Hattie rolls up her sleeves and digs into the dirt to prove up her uncle’s claim. I always love a good pioneer story and this one did not disappoint. I was amazed by the fact that Hattie’s story is based on the author’s own step great grandmother. What an amazing woman!

Well researched and superbly written, Hattie Big Sky is a pleasure to read. What a disappointment to turn the last page and realize the story was over. I found myself wishing that there was a sequel! I’m pretty sure I will be reading this one at least one more time. I didn’t even know it was a Newberry Honor book until I was writing the review- it definitely deserves the recognition! This book would be a great family audio book for a trip, I think I just might get my second reading in that way. . . I’m off to put a hold on the audio. . . yeah!

Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce –winner of the Carnegie Medal

tom's midnight garden

1958 winner of the Carnegie Medal in Literature. I thought originally that I had a hard time getting into this book because it was old, and then I realized I liked a lot of old books, so I started thinking about what was wrong. I finally figured out that the Carnegie Medal is the UK’s prestigious literary medal, and so, I simply needed to turn my brain towards England, instead of Canada, and the book started to make more sense to me.

When Tom’s brother is taken ill with measles, Tom has to go live with Aunt Gwen and Uncle Alan in a small apartment, in quarantine. As Tom yearns for the outdoors and playmates, he stumbles upon a secret world as he travels back in time each night to when the ancient estate was a home with a garden. Tom gets more and more entwined in the friendship he forms with a girl named Hatty until he is determined to change times forever and live in the past.

I enjoyed this read, although I think that young readers of today, especially American, might have a hard time making the transition to this foreign and byegone era. I realized how much immunizations have changed the way we live. When was the last time you heard of someone being in quarantine? I’m sure glad that I’ve never had to be in quarantine, but it really makes you think about flu epidemics and other things that could lead to the return of quarantines. I guess it’s best to be prepared to not be able to always get everything we want right when we want it. Boy what a change that would be for our immediate gratification society!

As an interesting note, I read this book and wrote this review before H1N1 quarantines at the beginning of the summer, but believe me I sure was thinking about this book when the virus first became known. How do you think books can prepare us for major health epidemics, as some scientists have predicted will inevitably occur?

Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley by Sally M. Walker


I absolutely love this book! Imagine, a secret weapon so new and dangerous that many of the first several people who tried to use it died. Knowing this would you be willing to risk your life for such a weapon? This is what George Dixon did when he led a crew on the Civil War submarine, the H.L. Hunley a submarine of the Confederate States of America to sink a United States ship. Tragically, they never made it home and the submarine was discovered in August of 2000. Sally M. Walker painstakingly interviewed researchers, submarine veterans and combed through thousands of records in creating the book. Beautiful colored photographs and charts of the submarine help reader’s understand the text and help the reader feel like they are on board the submarine. In addition, an extensive glossary of terms and logical explanations of archeological research and its risks and rewards, help the reader learn more about this fascinating piece of history.

Walker accurately depicts the innovation and bravery of the Hunley’s makers and crew using both primary and secondary sources. This excellent book engages readers with a love of science, math, history, archeology and even modern forensics science. When I taught the Civil War I had students read a book from this era that and this was one of the few picture books I would allow my 8th graders to read – it is amazing! I highly recommend it.

What’s the scariest thing you have ever done or what would you be willing to risk your life for? For me I would definitely risk my life to save my family and I might even risk my life to teach reading – if I lived somewhere were it wasn’t allowed – like educating women in some areas of the world. It’s easy for me to say that because I am allowed to read, and teaching reading is not illegal where I live. I like to think that I that passionate about reading and promoting literacy so I hope I would.

nonfictionmondayThis review is part of Nonfiction Monday, which we are hosting! If you would like to participate click on our Nonfiction Monday Post.

Cybils and the Graphic Novel Winner and Finalists

rapunzels-revengebyshannonhaleExactly one month ago the Cybils awards were announced for 2008. My sister and I were thrilled to learn that Rapunzel’s Revenge won the prize for the graphic novel/elementary – middle grade category, but I had also read every graphic novel in the category as part of the Children’s Literature Book Club. I liked several of them and thought I would do a quick review of each one, except for Our review of Rapunzel’s Revenge since that was our first Double Scoop, where my sister and I review books together.

I also suggest that if your looking for some good books to buy and/or give as gifts these would make some theresawolfatthedoorbyzoealleygreat gifts.

There’s a Wolf at the Door: Five Classic Tales by Zoë B. Alley, Illustrated by R.W. Alley

This graphic novel almost was my top pick. Yes even over Rapunzel’s Revenge. Written and illustrated by the wife/husband team of Zoë B. Alley, Illustrated by R.W. Alley. There’s a Wolf at the Door is is  five fairy tales that feature ‘The Wolf’ as he attempts to get his meal including The Three Little Pigs, The Boy who Cried Wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf in Sheep’s clothing and The Wolf and the Seven Little Goslings. Cleverly written and witty it’s a great read, my daughter and I love this book. It is great with young readers, but I think even older elementary kids would like this book, especially if they like fairy tales.R.W. Alley’s illustrations are fantastic and they complement the text well making you laugh as the poor wolf fails again and again.

intothevolcanobydonwoodInto the Volcano written and illustrated by Don Wood

Two brothers, Duffy and Sumo are sent on a ‘trip’ by their father and pulled out of school to visit relatives on a Hawaiin Island. Of course when they arrive there are some strange things going on and really what is is a trip to locate their mother who is supposedly doing research in Borneo. However, she is underground in a volcano hidden away. Follow these two brothers on an adventure you will not forget.

Now for me this book was okay, I had a hard time keeping the two brothers straight as it is not clear who is who for a while and it took me several trips back to the beginning of the book to figure out who was who. I didn’t like that. I thought that could have been clearer. The storyline did not appeal to me either, but I think though that Don Wood’s illustrations and story plot would appeal to lots of elementary aged kids, especially boys. On the other hand my pre-schooler wasn’t much interested in the book. We didn’t finish it together, so maybe first grade would be better.

jellabybykeansooJellaby written and illustrated by Kean Soo

My daughter desperately wanted to read Jellaby since it had a purple dinosaur on the cover. She didn’t make it through this one either, but she did like Kean Soo’s illustrations a lot. Set in Canada, Jellaby is a mysterious creature aka the purple dinosaur that appears in the woods near Portia Bennett’s home. Portia’s mom has secrets and her dad is missing. She decides to help Jellaby return home and along the way she makes  new friend of the human variety and scary stranger. That’s where the story ends. You have to read the next book to find out what happens to Portia and Jellaby. I liked the book, the illustrations are done in a purple hue, most of the time except for Portia’s friend Jason who wears an orange shirt with a carrot on it. Apparently Jason likes carrots a lot and so does Kean Soo so they are in the book along with tuna sandwiches. It’s a fun read.

thesavagebydavidalmond1The Savage written by David Almond, Illustrated by Dave McKean

I really liked The Savage. It’s not a light-hearted read because the main character, Blue is learning to cope with grief of losing his father, which as the title suggests brings out the savage in him. Instead of writing down Blue’s feelings as the school counselor, he begins to write a story about a Savage who lives in the woods, who watches Blue and occasionally eats people. Through watching Blue and his younger sister the savage learns to be more human and Blue learns to deal with his grief. Now as far as the  illustrations this book is more like a combination of chapter book and graphic novel – not that I’m an expert on graphic novels, but it did seem like a combination of genres. I would recommend this book for older elementary age children or at least read the book with them because of the topic.

chiggersbyhopelarsonChiggers by written and illustrated by Hope Larson

Abby returns to summer camp only to find her camp best friend is too busy to really spend time with her. Then there is the new girl, Shasta, who is strange. She can’t participate in lots of the activities because well she got hit by lightning. Abby also has her first crush on on the guy counselors and it appears he might just like her back.

I had a hard time with the illustrations just because they were in black and white, which made it harder for me to initially tell who was who. Same thing with black and white movies or shows, sometimes it can be harder to tell who is who when everyone has either white or black hair. I also though this fit better for girls above age10, just because it also deals with periods, crushes, first kisses, and references to dungeons and dragons, etc so probably not for kindergarteners as it would go over their head.

Non-fiction Monday – Nic Bishop Frogs

nicbishopfrogsNic Bishop is a gifted nature photographer and writer. Not only that this book received the Cybils award on Valentine’s day for non-fiction picture book and I can see why. It is stunning, the pictures even breath-taking and yes I am saying that about pictures of frogs. My five-year old loved this book and was extremely fascinated with the Glass Frog and the poison dart frogs. She informed me she would save her baby sister from one if she ever saw one, but not to worry she wouldn’t touch it with her bare skin. . . not even her pinky toe.

Now any picture book can not stand on pictures alone and Nic Bishops’ text will not disappoint you. Lots of fun facts and information about the life cycle of frogs. You will learn the difference between frogs and toads, that some frogs eat rodents and why frogs need to live near water.

Nic Bishop’s website

Now my sister and I will be featuring Nic Bishop Spiders for our Doublescoop, which is when we review a book together,  for next month. The pictures are also incredible, although I won’t say breathtaking. . .maybe breathless, especially if you are bit scared of spiders.