Archive for the ‘Children's Books’ Category


You Review: I Lived on Butterfly Hill – Marjorie Agosin

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Reviewed by Laura Baaijens

I Lived on Butterfly Hill is nothing short of a cute book. Set in the time of a dictatorship, there are hardships, of course, but the characters are all so likeable and inspiring that it nicely balances out the nerve-wracking situation they are all in. It may be a fictional girl living under a fictional government, but as Marjorie Agosín, the author, grew up during the real Chilean dictatorship, we can assume that she paints quite an accurate picture. At least from a child’s point of view.

We first see Celeste in her hometown, with her family and friends, going to the school she’s always gone too, enjoying all the beautiful parts of the Chilean culture. Yet things begin to change. Strange ships show up, classmates disappear, books are burned and eventually the grown-ups around her can not keep the truth of the situation from her anymore.

Her parents run a free clinic to help the poor and as the dictator does not agree with any sort of charity or free-thinking, they have to go into hiding. Eventually Celeste herself is forced to go live with her aunt in the United States until all is safe again.

How long will she stay there? Will she even be able to go back? And if so what will she find when she gets home? Can she blend in and feel at home in the States until then?

Everything is very uncertain. Not just for the characters in the book, the plot is quite unpredictable for the reader as well. It keeps this YA novel really interesting and will have you read quickly.

The story is accompanied by illustrations by Lee White. They were added after the copies for reviewers were printed.  Judging by the cover, however, they will be amazing and will help lift this story to a whole new level. All in all, I Lived on Butterfly Hill is quite a unique book. It is poetic, a tiny bit spiritual, but most of all a compelling story about a girl growing up and finding her place in the world.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

You Review a Local Author: In the Children’s Country – Bryna Hellmann

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Reviewed by Sheila Schenkel

Such a sweet story!

Danny and Rosie are fed up with staying at home whilst Mom and Dad go out for the evening. “They always go places where you can’t take children,” Danny complains. When the siblings decide to go to a country just for children, they end up exactly there…

In In the Children’s Country, there’s no hunger, no rain and… no television! The kids eat fruit growing on trees, drink water from a stream and spend their days playing outdoors. Still, there’s something odd about the place. What is it about the queen, living beyond the forest? How come everything around them is so perfect? Where do the children living here come from?

When something awful happens, Rosie has to do her utmost to try and solve it. Together with Milo, the eldest kid in the Country, Rosie shows that love is stronger than anything. They prove that when you work together, and just don’t give up, you can accomplish a whole lot.

Bryna Hellmann pushes the story forward with dialogue, which makes it perfect to read to children. On that note; it would have been nice if the chapters had been shorter. Much shorter. Just to give you a chance to catch your breath! The adventure revolves primarily around Milo and Rosie — the moment they’re off to save the situation, their story is the only one we follow.

Leslie Browne’s illustrations are worthy of a predominant place on the wall. I’d love to see more of her work in books to follow—or in a second edition, even.

The wrapping up of the plot feels a bit abrupt; so many things unfolding at once. Perhaps it’s more of a compliment to the world Hellmann’s created than anything else. Either way, I wouldn’t mind a sequel.

You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.

Bryna Hellmann presented her book at the first Meet My Book! event in January.  She has also written two novels, The Time Between and This is Me, Becca.  Both these novels are self-published on our Espresso Book Machines.

You Review: Us Minus Mum – Heather Butler

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Reviewed by Ana Chen Liao

Cancer.  This one word can turn a person’s world upside down. This disease does not just shake one person, but also his or her family in profound ways. It is especially challenging for children to face death at such a young age. Us Minus Mum is about how a mother’s terminal brain cancer affects her husband and two young sons. You can’t help but fall in love with this adorable family and empathize with their struggles.

The book is narrated by the older son, George, and the author has perfectly captured the musings of a young child’s mind. His life is normal, filled with things such as best friends, bullies, art class – until he finds out about his mother’s diagnosis. In the span of a few days, his happy days become tainted by dark thoughts. George’s family tries to continue a level of normalcy and there are many funny moments involving the family dog, Goffo.

Despite the deterioration of his mother’s health, George’s last memories of his mother are filled with happiness such as a trip to the zoo and a pet competition. Make sure you have a box of tissues ready because the ending is truly heart-breaking. Heather Butler perfectly captures the process young children go through while coping with cancer and death.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Besides books, Ana Chen Liao also loves to review restaurants on Yelp.

Ebook available for Us Minus Mum.

You Review: Allies & Assassins – Justin Somper

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Reviewed by Jonathan de Souza

Fantasy is not my cup of tea. That being said I tried not to let that have any bearing on my reading of Justin Somper’s Allies & Assassins, because I want to remain as objective as possible in my reviews, regardless of genre.

Allies & Assassins follows the story of Jared, a prince in the fictional realm of Archenfeld, who is thrust into the leader’s position of the princedom when his older brother Anders is poisoned. The story focuses both on finding Anders’s killer as well as Jared getting used to his late brother’s duties to the court and the people of Archenfeld. It soon becomes clear, though, that Jared is as much in danger as his brother was, and it falls upon him, as well as a few trusted companions, to find out who is after him and perhaps more importantly, the throne.

The novel has somewhat of a Game of Thrones vibe, which I enjoyed. I am not a big fan of Fantasy novels – I’m much more of a Sci-Fi geek. Many a time have I heard people say that Sci-Fi and Fantasy are the same thing. It’s one of my pet peeves and I usually take it upon myself to get up from where I’m sitting, insert myself into their conversation, and while they’re dumbstruck by this complete stranger suddenly sitting next to them, I proceed to explain that there really is a difference between the two – but enough about my dysfunctional social life and back to the story. And while this story didn’t really sway me into liking the genre more, I do have to say that I enjoyed it. There is an air of politics and ceremony that add very much to the narrative. Though many of the characters are not very animated, some seem downright shoddy, the story progresses fairly smoothly so it helps where the lack of character growth does not. It’s an okay read, though I’m not sure I’d read a sequel, but I never say never.

(Blogmistress’s note: my apologies for the delay in posting.  The Gift Ideas took over most of my time in October and November.)

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.


This Just In: Children’s Books + Young Adult Fiction

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

A Whole Lot of Recently-Arrived Titles from the Children’s Books and Young Adult Fiction Sections (grouped by age):

Please be sure to contact our stores for an exact stock check!

Young Children (story books):


You can find more Dutch children’s books translated into English here.

9 to 12 Years:


Ebooks available for Wilma Tenderfoot and the Case of the Fatal Phantom and Other Worlds.

Young Adults:


Ebooks available for Monsters, Revealed, The Eye of Minds, Perfect Ruin, The Royal Ranger, Just One Year, War of the Werelords and Allies & Assassins.

E-books (not available in print editions):