A Review of I’m Undead and Hungry by Shannon Knudsen

What’s it about?

Meet Roscoe. He’s a zombie! Roscoe came back from the dead. He likes to snack on brains. But don’t be scared. Roscoe’s not real. He’s one of the monsters you meet in stories. He just wants to tell you about zombies. Find out what turns people into zombies. Learn about different kinds of zombies around the world. And discover where zombie stories come from. You’ll have a spooky time with this monster buddy! – Synopsis from Amazon

(Our) Review of I’m Undead and  Hungry by Shannon Knudsen 

Miss L’s Review:  

I really liked this book. It was funny.  We learned that people all over the world tell stories about zombies even though zombies are not real. I liked the Chinese zombies best. They are scared of their own faces. I would not be scared of Chinese zombies. Roscoe was a good zombie because he wasn’t a picky eater. He seemed nice. He even tried to learn to dance, but everyone was afraid of him. I liked the pictures. They were cute and not scary at all.

Adult Review:

It was obvious that my 7-year-old loved this book. She giggled frequently while reading it out loud and excitedly repeated bits and pieces of it to me. I read it, and didn’t quite see the appeal, but I appreciated that it emphasized the fact that zombies are not real even while it gave the reader tidbits of lore from around the world. I have to admit that the Chinese zombie thing was pretty interesting.  The illustrations were cute and simple, which is exactly what a topic like this needed.

This would be a good beginner book for a young child who is interested in monsters and the like to cut their reading teeth on, though I think that I Want to Eat Your Books by Karen LeFranc (cute illustrations, rhyming words) is probably the better of the two to start with. Then maybe step up to this one. Regardless of my feelings, it made my child laugh and it was something besides Junie B. Jones that she wanted to read independently, so I’m all for it.


Find I’m Undead and Hungry now on Amazon.

Title: I’m Undead and Hungry | Series: Monster Buddies | Author: Shannon Knudsen | Illustrator: Chiara Buccheri (site) | Publisher: Millbrook Press (site) | Pub. Date: 2014-10-1 | Pages: 24 | ASIN: B0173LJ0C2 | Genre: Children’s Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Date Read: 2016-4-2 | Source: Kindle FreeTime Book

A Review of ¡HOLA! Let’s Learn Spanish by Judy Martialay

What’s it about?

An introduction to Spanish for ages 6-10, Hola! Let’s Learn Spanish is a simple, easy to understand book with accompanying audio that can be used to start children on the path to learning a second language. Parents can participate, too.

¡HOLA! Let's Learn Spanish: Visit New Places and Make New Friends

My Review of ¡HOLA! Let’s Learn Spanish by Judy Martialay

My 7-year-old and I read this book together, listening to the accompanying audio that’s found (for free) on www.polyglotkidz.com .  I found the book to be perfectly suited for the age range, with simple illustrations that add color to the page without distracting the reader from what they’re reading. The small story about Panchito is written in an easy, flowing way, that help the kids figure out the Spanish words by context and mostly subtle repetitions or hints in English.

The book contains the aforementioned Panchito story, some activities like making masks, vocabulary words, and a skit. My child had an easy time following along, liked going through some of the activities with me, such as responding where she would find certain things (by Spanish name, location), and enjoyed the Panchito story more than I thought she would.

Overall, this was a good read and having the free audio was nice. However, the natural pauses the narrators gave could have been a bit longer. Oftentimes, my child would be in the middle of trying to repeat one of the Spanish words, and the story was already moving on. Even an extra second or two would have been nice. (I got in the habit of pressing pause myself, which isn’t a big deal, but still. Independently, that would have been a pain for my child.)  It was interesting, and definitely kept the 7-year-old’s attention.

Kid’s Review:

Well, I really liked it. Panchito was a really funny name. Panchito was a jumping bean.  I liked the little jumping bean story and the activities too! We looked around the house for stuff, and pretended we were at the grocery store!  The pinata song was fun.

It teaches you about Spanish. If someone, like me, didn’t know how to speak Spanish they should get this book. They would be able to look up how to say words in it. The audio portion mommy played on the computer was pretty cool and I liked that Judy Martialay had us repeating the words, but it went a little fast sometimes.

I do want to visit Mexico one day.


Look for Hola! Let’s Learn Spanish now on Amazon.

Title: ¡HOLA! Let’s Learn Spanish | Author: Judy Martialay (site) | Publisher: Bookbaby | Pub. Date: 2015-11-30 | Pages: 36 | ISBN13: 9780991132409 | Genre: Children’s Non-Fiction (Educational) | Language(s): English & Spanish | Triggers: None | Rating: 4 out of 5 | Date Read: 2016-3-31 | Source: Received a copy from the author free in exchange for an honest review.

A Review of Xander & the Lost Island of Monsters

What’s it about?

Xander Miyamoto would rather do almost anything than listen to his sixth grade teacher, Mr. Stedman, drone on about weather disasters happening around the globe. If Xander could do stuff he’s good at instead, like draw comics and create computer programs, and if Lovey would stop harassing him for being half Asian, he might not be counting the minutes until the dismissal bell.

When spring break begins at last, Xander plans to spend it playing computer games with his best friend, Peyton. Xander’s father briefly distracts him with a comic book about some samurai warrior that pops out of a peach pit. Xander tosses it aside, but Peyton finds it more interesting.

Little does either boy know that the comic is a warning. They are about to be thrust into the biggest adventure of their lives-a journey wilder than any Xander has ever imagined, full of weird monsters even worse than Lovey. To win at this deadly serious game they will have to rely on their wits, courage, faith, and especially, each other. Maybe Xander should have listened to Mr Stedman about the weather after all. . . . – Goodreads SynopsisBook Cover for Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Momotaro, #1)

My Review of Xander & the Lost Island of Monsters

Xander & the Lost Island of Monsters was, at least for the first part, a calm and comfortable read. The writing style is such that it invites you to get comfy and curl up with a book. This might not be what the writer was going for, as it’s an adventure story, but I don’t see it as a bad thing. It’s an easy read, aimed at middle-graders, which meant I flew through the pages. When things did finally shift into high gear, I was fully immersed in the story and couldn’t wait to see what happened.4 Star Rating

The main character is a 6th grade boy so obviously there was a bit of a lack of connection between myself and Xander, still, I found myself smiling at some of the conversations that Xander and his side-kick, Peyton, had. I mean, how many times have we all had a conversation that goes something like the (paraphrased) following:

“Dude, that was awesome.”

“Dude,” I say back. “Dude.”

-Margaret Dilloway, Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters

Some conversations just cross gender and age lines.

The relationships between all the characters were interesting. Xander is pretty much the exact opposite of every boy hero you’d hear of. His special talents are out of his control. He’s so weak his friend has to help him out constantly. Peyton, on the other hand, is tall, muscular, and athletic in every sense of the word. They have that sort of best-friendship that we all want to have. The grandma, small though her role is, is every good grandma in existence. Stern, yet loving, and a tad snarky. Even Jinx is – if not likable – at least a character you can sympathize with.

In fact, one of the most powerful lines in the book comes regarding Xander’s thoughts towards Jinx. The author deftly touches upon something that all children who have been in unpleasant situations with people that should love them. She touches on other topics that matter, too, but this one is by far the most impactful.

The book is interspersed with pages from the comic book mentioned in the synopsis. The lines from that ready very choppy, and simple. I’ve never been able to read a comic book, so I’ll assume its written that way for a reason. The way Xander also gripes about how if he’s supposed to be a Chosen One, where’s the x,y, and z associated with being a Chosen one elicited a snicker on more than one occasion.

Overall, Xander & the Lost Island of Monsters is a well-written middle-grade work that even adults can enjoy. An easy take on a classic story, this first book in the Momotaro series has the easy-going engagement with distinctive characters that signifies a book that is sure to capture the imagination. I will say to please don’t blame your child if they hit the last page, gape, and suddenly throw the book in frustration. I did!

Click here to find Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Momotaro #1) now on Amazon.

Title: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters | Series: Momotaro #1 | Author: Margaret Dilloway (site) | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (site) | Pub. Date: 2016-4-5 | Pages: 320 | ISBN13: 9781484724873 | Genre: Children’s Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: None | Date Read: 2016-3-28 | Source: Received a copy free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.