Sunday, August 18, 2019

Simon & Schuster Back-to-School 2019 New Children's Books Round-Up (Review)

Disclosure:  I was sent review copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Is school back in session for your kids?  I have been seeing a lot of people online posting their kids' Back to School photos, and it is jut a reminder that summer is almost over, and soon enough my girls will be back to homeschooling.  This year, they will be entering 5th grade, and soon enough will be packing up and heading off to college.  It is crazy how in a blink of an eye they go from babies being rocked to sleep in your arms, to little people wanting to grow up already and do adult things. :-)  One way I try and slow their desire to be "bigger" and "older than they are" is to make a point to read to each of my girls separately, at bedtime.  It gives us one-on-one time to talk about the day, and week ahead, as well as spend quality time together enjoying a favorite or new book.  Thanks to a recent shipment of books from Simon & Schuster, I have been looking forward to bedtime reading with the girls, to share these fun "Back to School" themed books with them.  While some of the books are for younger kids, my girls humored me and sat and listened to the stories.  When I was done, they surprised me and said they really enjoyed the books, especially when I was changing up my voice to give each character their own persona. :-)

I wanted to share some of these recently released "Back to School" books from Simon & Schuster, for those who are looking for books to wrap up summer with and get kids excited about returning back to school.  

Jump into the first day of school with these picture books about kindness and friendship for Ages 4-8!

(Also available in Kindle format)

 About the Book:

"After his best friend Sarah leaves for her first day of school, a tortoise named Truman goes on an adventure across the living room and learns to be brave in this thoughtful and heartwarming twist on a first experience story.

Truman the tortoise lives with his Sarah, high above the taxis and the trash trucks and the number eleven bus, which travels south. He never worries about the world below…until one day, when Sarah straps on a big backpack and does something Truman has never seen before. She boards the bus!

Truman waits for her to return.
He waits.
And waits.
And waits.
And when he can wait no longer, he knows what he must do.

Even if it seems…impossible!"

7/9/19 | ISBN 9781534416642 | Ages 4-8

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this picture book, as it not only had a cute story that kids of all ages will enjoy, but will also help ease nerves of kids who may be going off to school for the first time, attending a new school, or just experiencing something new and unknown to them.  These feelings are really difficult for young children to process and talk about, but thanks to well-written picture books like this, they will help open up the lines of communication between a parent and a child, to talk about how kids are feelings, and any nervousness or anxiety they may be feeling., especially with school starting back soon.  My girls really enjoyed having me read this book to them, and they thought that Truman was just the cutest tortoise.  Not only was he cute, but through his adventure across the living room floor, he also showed that he was brave, too!

(Also available in Kindle format)

 About the Book:

"For fans of Fred Rogers in Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Be Kind, a little bunny, who dreams of being a superhero, proves to her know-it-all older sister that kindness really is a superpower.

Some superheroes can leap tall buildings in a single bound, some can crawl up a wall, some grow wolfsharp claws, and some have superhuman speed. And Superbuns? Her superpower is being kind. Super kind. She can’t help but be kind: watering a neighbor’s daisies; helping a friend cross the street; feeding a hungry goldfish.

Superbuns’s older sister Blossom is a super know-it-all who doesn’t believe kindness is a superpower. Not one bit. And all this kindness is slowing them down on their way to Grammy’s house, where a yummy carrot cobbler awaits.

But the sisters are being followed by a little fox, and when Blossom learns the fox is not after their cobbler but is lost, she discovers kindness really is a superpower after all.

7/2/19 | ISBN 9781481490689 | Ages 4-8

My Thoughts:

Just the name alone of this new children's picture book will have you smiling, and curious to see what the book is about.  When I showed my girls this book for the first time, they both had the same reaction...they giggled as they said the title, but then commented on how cute the bunny on the cover was.  This book, as the cover states is all about kindness, a great quality we should all instill in our children. If there was more kindness in this world and less bullying, it would truly be a great place.

The story itself is cute, in that Blossom and Superbun stumble across a lost fox.  By showing the fox kindness and helping him get back home safely, Blossom realized that she didn't know everything about everything, and that kindness was kind of "super" power to have.  My girls really enjoyed this book, and said the colorful and playful illustrations really helped to bring the cute story to life.  They both highly recommend this new picture book, and I couldn't agree with the more! 

For ages 7-10, discover the school-time adventures of Frankie Sparks!

(Also available in hardcover, audiobook and Kindle formats)

About the Book:

"Ivy and Bean meets Aliens in my Pocket in this start to a brand-new chapter book series about Frankie Sparks, a third grader who uses her love for science and math to help her solve problems she comes across in her daily life.

The best thing EVER is happening in Frankie Sparks’s third grade class: They are getting a class pet! Their teacher, Miss Cupid, tells them they will vote on their pet, but it has to meet some “parameters.” Their pet must:

1. Fit in aquarium.
2. Cost less than $50.
3. Be easily portable.
4. Be able to be left alone for the weekend.

Frankie thinks that a rat—just like the rats in her beloved Aunt Gina’s lab—would be the perfect fit. But her best friend, Maya, doesn’t think a rat would be great at all. They are kind of gross and not as cool as a hermit crab, which is Maya’s top choice. Using her special workshop, can Frankie find a way to convince her teacher and her best friend that Team Rat is the way to go?"

6/18/19 | ISBN 9781534430440 | Ages 7-10

(Also available in hardcover, audiobook and Kindle formats)

About the Book:

"Frankie Sparks uses her inventing skills to help her friend overcome stage fright in this second chapter book in the STEM inspired Frankie Sparks, Third-Grade Inventor series.

It’s time for the annual school talent show, and Frankie is excited to audition with her magic act! She wants to be just like her idol, Adelaide Herrmann, Queen of Magic. But on the day of the audition, Frankie’s best friend and Magician’s Assistant, Maya, gets a big, scary case of stage fright! How can Maya be Frankie’s helper on stage if she can’t bring herself to speak in front of their audience? It’s up to Frankie Sparks to invent just the perfect thing to help her best friend cope with the spotlight!"

6/18/19 | ISBN 9781534430471 | Ages 7-10

 My Thoughts:

My oldest saw the first book in this new series at the bookstore last month, and wanted to pick it up and read it.  She said it reminded her of Ivy and Bean, one series she loves to read.  So, when she saw not only the first book, but also the second book in the new Frankie Sparks series arrive in the mail, she couldn't wait to grab the books and dive right in.  They were so good, she was able to read both books in one day.  And, then when she was done, she passed them along to her sister to read, and then when she was done, they talked about their favorite.  I ended up reading the first book in the series, as I was hearing my girls talk excitedly about the book and characters, that I wanted to see what the book was all about.

The chapters in this book are short, and there are black and white illustrations throughout, to keep reluctant readers engaged.  I have to say, I love how this book is all about a girl and her creative inventions.  Both of my girls are crafty and like making things with their hands, so I could see why, after having read the first book myself, why they liked this new series.  My girls are hoping there are many more books in this series, and can't wait for #3 to come out, so that they can read it.  But, in the meantime, they have read these two Frankie Sparks books a few times each, as they can't get enough of them.

For ages 8 and up, dive right into learning!

About the Book:

"Dr. Joanne Settel has all the answers to our most burning questions in this wacky and informative book of poems about our digestive systems

Have you ever wondered…
Why spicy foods can make you sweat?
Why garlic makes your breath so stinky?
Just how long your long intestine is?
What a pizza slice looks like…going down?
Why food tastes different when you have a cold?

With fascinating details, catchy rhymes, and quirky illustrations by Steve Bj√∂rkman, acclaimed author Joanne Settel answers all of these questions (and more!) in this engrossing, fun exploration of the science of our digestive systems. When she’s through, you won’t believe what your guts can do—or what you can stomach!"

7/2/19 | ISBN 9781481486880 | Ages 8 and up

My Thoughts:

Last year we spent a whole month studying the human body.  We talked about the different systems in the body and their functions.  Oh, how I wish this book about the digestive system was around them, as it would have been teaching my girls about it that much more fun.

With the use of rhyming text and playful illustrations, kids will learn all about the digestive systems.  There is even a part that talks about the "Cool Facts About Vomiting."  Now I would never expect myself to find a benefit to vomiting, but this book let me see how it can help, especially with animals who do this to keep predators away.  There are so many fun facts about the digestive system in this book, that it will be hard for you and your kids to put it down.  You will want to keep reading, to learn more, more and more! :-)

Ready-to-Reads for your young readers heading back to school!             

(Also available in hardcover)

About the Book:

"From acclaimed, prolific author Jane Yolen comes a Level 1 Ready-to-Read story bursting with all the excitement and a little bit of the nervousness that color a fish’s first day at a new school.

I look around.
What do I see?
Another fish who’s just like me!
A little scared.
A little new.
All alone and feeling blue.

Starting at a new school is never easy, but it can also be really exciting. Beginning readers can follow along as one intrepid little fish goes through the many emotions associated with a new school experience!"

7/2/19 | ISBN 9781534438897 | Ages 4-6

My Thoughts:

If your kids are reading level one "Ready to Read" book from Simon & Schuster, then they will love this new book, all about the emotions one feels when they are in a new situation, like a new school, or new classroom with a new teacher and new students.  Even though my girls are homeschooled, they still take outside classes, and experience the same new school year jitters, as they have no idea who their teacher for a particular class with me, or if any of their other homeschool friends will be joining them.  This book was great to read with my girls, and talk to them about ways to ease their uneasiness about the upcoming school year, while also reminding them about the fun they will be having, and all the new friends they will make.

I highly recommend this book for parents to pick up and share with their kids, as the new school year approaches.  It helped my girls feel better about the "unknowns" and they are more open to seeing what is in store for them.

And, just for fun for little ones is this cute touch and feel board book from Maria Putri..

About the Book:

"Sharpen your claws—and scratching skills—with this adorable touch-and-feel book about a cat who loves to scratch everything…and wants you to join the fun!

Hi there, human!
I’m Scratchie the Cat
and I like to scratch stuff
to keep my claws super sharp.

Let’s scratch things together!

Join Scratchie the Cat to scratch touch-and-feel elements throughout this story. Rough door mats, grainy wooden tables, paper towels, cardboard boxes, and more give readers a claws-on experience as they innocently wreck Scratchie’s owner’s house (just like real cats)!

With touch-and-feel elements on every page, Scratchie even has the perfect ending, because there’s one more thing that loves to be scratched…Scratchie the Cat!"

  • Publisher: Little Simon (May 2019)
  • Length: 24 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781534437654
  • Grades: P - K
  • Ages: 3 - 5

My Thoughts:

As mentioned above, I shared a couple books that were intended for younger audiences, including this one.  But, the book turned out to be one of their favorites! My oldest, who is all about cats, was especially happy to see this book in the stack of books we were sent from Simon & Schuster.  They both liked the touch and feel aspect of the book, as well as the cute illustrations.  We had fun taking turns reading this book and emphasizing different "uh oh" parts of the story, making it silly and even more enjoyable to read.  If you have a toddler or preschooler, who likes touch and feel books (what little one doesn't), then you will want to pick up this fun new board book.  It is the perfect size to through in your diaper bag, or bring along in the car, to keep little ones entertained.  And, when they start learning how to read, this is one of those beginner books they will be able to read in no time, all by themselves.


Don't these look like all great books to get kids excited about Back to School where they will learn new things and grow?  I, for one, am loving these new books, and had a blast reading them with my girls, especially the YOUR AMAZING DIGESTION FROM MOUTH THROUGH INTESTINEWho knew learning about the digestive system could be so much fun?! :-)  And, as always my girls loved checking out the new picture and chapter books, which they enjoyed with me, and then read again on their own.  So, now that most of your Back to School shopping for clothes and school supplies for your kids is hopefully done, why not consider picking up a few books to read to them as you get your kids back on a bedtime schedule, just in time for their first day of school?  Summer is a busy time for many families, and bedtime reading may have fallen to the waist side.  But, with the help of these new books from Simon & Schuster, you and your kids will get in a few extra snuggles and quiet time together, as you both wind down from your busy end of summer days.  

You can learn more about the new books mentioned above, as well as other recent and upcoming releases from Simon & Schuster by visiting their website  And, stay tuned as I will be sharing a wonderful selection of "Halloween" titles soon to be released, that will get your kids excited about trick or treating, pumpkin picking and carving, and all the other fun stuff fall and Halloween brings. So, be on the look out for that post soon.

Disclosure:  I was sent review copies from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

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