Tag Archives: Book Review

Book Review – The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. By Catherynne M. Valente.

Advanced language/themes: ages 10 to 14 suggested.

First book in a 5-part series.

There are lots of things to love about The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland. I’ve always been a huge fan of classic escape to fairyland stories, from Peter Pan to Harry Potter, and this book includes a lot of the best elements of those stories: fascinating magical creatures, daring adventures, and a villain worthy of hate. It’s also great because its main character is a girl, and Valente has some fun playing with the gender tropes of traditional fantasy stories. The protagonist, September, is instantly likeable. She’s smart, resourceful, and selfless, but she’s also very human – she has flaws and doubts just like every kid does.

September is spirited away to Fairyland by the Green Wind and his magic leopard. There, she meets witches, a wyverary (almost a dragon, but not quite), and a boy genie, among many other crazy creatures. They’re all under the harsh rule of a bureaucratic queen who needs September’s help. September’s adventures bring her to new friends and delightfully imaginative places.

There are jokes in here that are definitely for the parents. The language play is reminiscent of The Phantom Tollbooth, but might be a bit more advanced – younger kids aren’t likely to get it even if it’s explained. There are also a few gags – like September ending up in a town populated by perpetual grad student gnomes and being almost forced to enroll in higher education – that will be over the little people’s heads. But the scenery is cool enough, the story exciting enough, and the Evil Queen mean enough, that everyone will want to keep reading.

Just a warning: Valente doesn’t shy away from putting her heroes through a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. When September cuts herself or breaks a bone, it’s described in detail. She and her friends are also often in real danger. Although kids 10 and younger will be able to understand and like the story, I’d only recommend it if they’re okay with some moderate violence and scary stuff.


Things to love:

  • Plays with language like The Phantom Tollbooth
  • Fearless female heroine
  • Offers an escape to another land as in Harry Potter, Narnia, or Peter Pan
  • Jokes that are definitely for the parents

Things to look out for:

  • Scary moments/moderate violence

Reviewed by: Charlotte Kidd

Charge Into March Break with These Fun Reads!

March break is upon us, which means more time gallivanting through the home, or long journeys by plane and car, and more time left to young mind’s imaginings. So, as you prepare for a week of potential vacations, or staycations, here are some  books that will keep children engaged throughout the days.

1.) Harry and Clare’s Super Staycation (5-9) 
By Ted Staunton (Author); Mika Song (Illustrator) 

While some of us will be hopping on planes and flying leagues away, most of us will find ourselves spending time in our cozy abodes. But even whilst home, adventures await around the corner. Staycation is a picture book by Canadian author, Ted Staunton, which follows a young brother and sister as they concoct vivid adventures–prepare for erupting volcanos!– right in their own living room.
Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 3.08.10 PM
2.) A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785 (7-9) 
By Matthew Olshan and Blackall

This picture book astounds with compelling images, humour, and a semi-true history, (and it involves men in their underwear, so there’s that!) This is the tale of two men, British doctor Jeffies and French balloonist Blanchard, with egos as full as the air balloon, as they embark on the first international balloon journey across the English Channel in 1785. While attempting to contend with the elements, their prime challenge is working with each other.
voyage in the clouds
3.) The Terrible Two (8-12) 
By Mac Barnett and Jory John
the terrible two

The last thing children may want during the break is anything to do with school, but this is no ordinary school story; this involves Niles, the greatest prankster of all time. At least he thinks he is until he moves to a new school and encounters Niles, an even better prankster than him. At first, the duo wage war, contriving new and ingenous pranks to ruin the reputation of the other, until one day, they decide to team up against their curmudgeon principal, and pull the greatest prank heist of all time– it involves cows! A definte laugh-aloud with illustrations to top, there’s no better time to pick up the book than now.
4.) Amos & Boris (6-9) 
By William Steig 
amos and boris
Heart wrenching and beautiful, this quiet adventure between two friends will surely take you on another epic voyage with a mouse–Amos– and whale–Boris– who quickly become the best of friends. After a fateful ship wreck tosses Amos into sea, Boris appears, and soon the little mouse hitches a ride on the back of the giant whale. Both will see the world anew now that they have a special companion by their side. William Steig, who has published other such favourites as Doctor De Soto, stands as one of the eminent children’s story tellers of our time.
5.) Mr. Wuffles! (5-9) 
By David Wiesner
mr. wuffles
While it may have no words, this Silver Caldecott Medal winner delves into the vast adventure and excitement that awaits one of our oldest furry friends; cats. Mr. Wuffles is a house cat as many others, but he has just stumbled upon a secret society of aliens who have landed in the home. Through vivid observation, the black and white cat is led to a small crack in the wall, where he witnesses the ancient civilizations of ants communicate with the newcomers, unbeknownst to the human dwellers of the home. It’s a sure fun read, where words lack, imagination will weave a compelling narrative and let your child gaze at your seemingly ordinary abode walls with newfound curiosity and imagination.
6.) Harry Potter (8-12) 
By J.K. Rowling

Why not revisit, or introduce your child to the Harry Potter series. Parents and adults with young children in their lives are often looking for a series to get their kids engaged in reading for the long haul.  With the recent release of Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them, and the recent re-release of Tales of Beedle the Bard with a swanky new cover: Hogwarts awaits! Harry Potter may seem like your ordinary boy, until one day a mysterious letter comes to the door and he discovers he is in fact a wizard who has been called to the wizarding school of Hogwarts. His life is forever changed as new friends, adventure, and literal and figurative magic fills his life.
7.) Mercy Watson (6-9) 
By Kate DiCamillo (Author); Chris Van Dusen (Illustrator) 
mercy watson

This young readers’ series is filled with vivid and colourful illustrations by one of the leading illustrators, Chris Van Dusen, to help get even the most reluctant of readers into reading.  Mercy, the lovable and adorable pig, has a knack for ending up in strangely hilarious sitations. Kate DiCamillo, beloved author of such classics as The Tale of Despereaux, provides engrossing plotlines that will ease your child into chapter books and may just be added to one of their favourite series.
8.) Lift-the-Flap Picture Atlas (6-9) 
Usborne Publishing
lift the flap

This book may be non-fiction but it taps into any child’s desire for exploration. Equipped with a *giant* world poster at the back to hang on the wall, each page displays a continent with tons of flaps that reveal amazing geographic and historical information about various regions. Usborne is one of the leading non-fiction children’s publishers, and they don’t disappoint with this captivating book.
9.) The Spiderwick Chronicles; (8-12) 
By Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

Siblings Jared, Simon and Mallory move to the Spiderwick estate and discover a secret land of fairies. The New York times bestselling series follows the siblings as they stumble upon a secret library in the home accessible only through the dumbwaiter. There, Jared finds Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You; and that’s only the beginning of this adventure.

10.) Ada Twist, Scientist (6-9) 
Andrea Beaty (Author); David Roberts (Illustrator) 
Screen Shot 2017-03-12 at 3.14.20 PM

School isn’t the only place where we can teach our children to love science. Following in the surge of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) focused books, the creators of Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect introduce us to new character. Young Ada, a budding scientist who is using the power of her curiosity to explore her surroundings, even if that means making a mess at home, there is nothing that will stop this young powerhouse from discovering her world. With Beaty’s famous rhyming verse, this is a great book to read aloud to young children.

By: Nicole Abi-Najem

Review “Ivy + Bean”

One of our long-time volunteers recommended our July Book of the Month, “Ivy + Bean,” to a special friend. Below is her review and heartfelt thank you to the CBB volunteer!

“I like the books because when I read it with my Dad I like Ivy and Bean being sneaky and Bean’s sister getting mad at her. They are funny. I like them being sneaky to Bean’s sister, Nancy, because Nancy is mean to Bean. I like the names of the characters, Ivy and Bean and Nancy. I like Ivy the most – she has blonde hair and she wears dresses just like me. Ivy and Bean met because Ivy moved into the neighbourhood and they started playing together when Bean’s mother convinced her to play with Ivy. I like that Ivy and Bean are good friends and they play together. The stories always have happy endings. Thank you very much for sending the book to me and thank you for telling my Grandma about these books. They are my favourite books and my Daddy likes them also.
Love, Taya (age 7)”


Review “Ivy + Bean”

Our new Book of the Month review page offers children a space to rate the book, write a quick summary, draw your favourite scene, and tell us what they like about the book of the month. Please feel free to print off your own review page #BookBankReads and bring it in to the book bank to become a published author today!

Review of “Ivy + Bean” by Nahom Dibenh, age 9

Rating: 4/5 stars

Quick Summary:

“ivy + Bean is a story abate a girl who tried to make her sister nice. But her plan fails and she’s caught but then runs away and meets ivy and hides. then they agree to do a magic trick [see picture] on nancy and the go Beans Backyard and nancy grabs Bean and ivy’s angry and Bean threw worms and hid. nancy ran but fell in a puddle. then ivy left home. THE END”

What did you like about the book of the month?

“My favourite part is when ivy and Bean are hiding and nancy starts chasing them and does the dancing spell then falls in the worm puddle. it’s my favourite part because it’s funny”

Ivy and Bean BOM Drawing

Review “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Review by Daquan, age 9

I read, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K rowling I think this story is such a fantastic book because of all the wizarder’s and all of the games that they get to play there. All the secret rooms they have there. I think all children would want to read Harry potter so badly and I’m going to read it to.



Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone: Review by Muaj, age 9


The book of the month I have read was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s stone by J.K Rowling. Here is a brief summary of this amazing book. There was a small skinney boy named Harry Potter and he found out that he was the son of a wizard and witch. He went to a wizard school called Hogwarts. This book is a great book because it is so magical and it has a lot of magical things. I would recommend this book to people who like fantasy, fiction and magic because this book has all those things.

Review of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”

“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” Review by: Shakeelah, age 17

Greg Heffley is the main character of this series. The book is his diary where he writes about what happens in his life. Greg writes about his best friend Rowley, who acts a little childish which embarrasses Greg. Greg also writes about his big brother Roderick who is really mean and his little brother Manny who always gets away with what he wants. Basically, when you read “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” you get a glimpse into the life of a pre-teen. This book is packed with humor! It’s a great book.



Reviews of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Review by: Abrarul, age 9

“The book I am writing about is Harry Potter and The Philosiphers Stone and it is by J.K. Rowling. Firstly there is a yonng boy whose parents are dead. Before they were dead they were wizards. Whoops I forgot to tell you that they were killed by an evil wizard. But the poor boy didn’t know any of that stuff until a tall wizard came and told him. Join Harry on an epic adventure making friends as fast as enemys. This book’s strength is explaining what is happening. My personal response is when Harry got in trouble I felt like how he did. I would recommend this books to a friend who likes fantasy or magic.”



Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Review by: Jennifer, 10 years old

“There is a boy named Harry and he found out he was a wizard by his 2 wizard parents. I love how Harry is amazing wizard and he’s like an inspiration to me like he’ll never give up. There’s no bad things about the book for me. I would recommend this book to anyone who love magic and like some potions. People who like being sneaky would like this book.”

Review of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ by Prantika, Age 9

I read the book Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter is a boy that is living with his aunt and uncle. What he doesn’t know is that his mom and dad were a witch and wizard. So that means Harry is a wizard! This is a great book. I loved it all but my favourite part is the secret passageways. I like how J.K. Rowling put a lot of juicy details. I would recommend this book to a friend if they are looking for a magical, adventurous story.

-Reviewed by Prantika, Age 9


Reading Olympics Program

Back in February, in honour of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, The Children’s Book Bank hosted our own version of the games: The Reading Olympics! This program sought to encourage children to take and read books of varying formats and subjects; ones that they may not have been interested in taking off our shelves in past visits. Over the course of a month, children read books about magic, poetry books, graphic novels, and books with a number in the title (just to name a few categories). After reading these books, participants were required to orally report about what they read. Each book report warranted a stamp in the designated category and once a child had received 5 stamps in different categories they were awarded a bronze medal, 10 stamps secured them a silver medal and 15 stamps won them a gold medal!

Olympic Gold Medalist Koshin!

Olympic Gold Medalist Koshin!

Olympic Gold Medalist Jierui!

Olympic Gold Medalist Jierui!

Olympic Gold Medalist Azma!

Olympic Gold Medalist Azma!

The results are in and with over 70 participants and 12 medalists, The Children’s Book Bank’s Reading Olympics was a huge victory! The program’s measurable successes include an increase in visit frequency and more diverse inventory being checked out, for example: biographies, Canadian authors, folk tales, and books from another time or another place. Most importantly, this program showcased the Book Bank as a fun destination for literacy support in Regent Park. Having the participants recall what they had read and answer questions about the books challenged readers and ensured that books that were taken off our shelves were carefully read. The palpable spirit of competition at our storefront is something we hope to repeat with future games. See you in 2015 for the Pan Am Games!

Review of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ by Tasnuua, Age 10

I read a truly amazing and magical book called ‘Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone’ by J.K. Rowling. This book is about a boy named Harry who at first thinks he is a regular kid, but very unusual things happen to him. Then he enrolls at a special school named Hogwarts but has difficulty since he is always stared at because he could not be defeated by a dark wizard when he was younger. This book takes you on a wonderful fantasy world! I love this book because it takes you on a fantasy adventure, which is truly unforgettable. I would recommend this book to anybody who loves magic and fantasy books. Read it, and you’ll love it!

-Reviewed by Tashuua, Age 10