Tag: non fiction

Citlali and the Day of the Dead: Citlali y el Día de Muertos

Citlali and the Day of the Dead: Citlali y el Día de Muertos
Author:  Berta de Llano
Illustrator: Jamie Rivera Contreras
Published: August 11, 2020
32 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: September 21, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 3 stars     

Book Description:

GRADES PK–3: This 32 page storybook follows Citlali through her Day of the Dead celebration. Readers will get a glimpse of the festivities and traditions associated with the important holiday.

CULTURAL STORYTELLING: This traditional Hispanic folktale with original illustrations, told in bold English and Spanish, captures a child’s interest while engaging them with a story that fosters reading and cultural literacy.

FEATURES: With English and Spanish translations, this storybook is a great resource for strengthening reading skills and foreign language comprehension.

Jessica’s Review:

This colorful children’s picture book talks about the real Mexican holiday Day of the Dead. This year it runs from October 31- November 2.  The story shows Citali and getting ready for Day of the Dead in school as her class is in charge of the ofrenda (offering) this year.  The Day of the Dead is where families fondly remember those who have passed away. It is a happy remembrance. 

This is Citali’s first year honoring Mama Elena and she is having the most difficult time picking an item to bring to the ofrenda to remember her. Citali wants her remembrance of Mama Elena to be a special one. 

The pictures are very colorful as is the Day of the Dead holiday. It is a very basic introduction to the holiday, though to me it does not explain much. I had to look up what the meaning of what ofrenda was, which was the purpose of the story.  I had to look up the Day of the Dead in general as I have no knowledge of the holiday.  This would be a good story for children who already have knowledge of the Day of the Dead holiday, but not an introduction to it. 

I did like that the children’s book is in both Spanish and English.  That way if a child is working on learning a second language, they do have a reference point to their original language, be it Spanish or English.  

Many thanks to the publisher for granting me a review copy via Amazon Vine.

Purchase Link:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan

The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home
Author: Denise Kiernan
Published: September 26, 2017

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

The fascinating true story behind the magnificent Gilded Age mansion Biltmore—the largest, grandest residence ever built in the United States.

The story of Biltmore spans World Wars, the Jazz Age, the Depression, and generations of the famous Vanderbilt family, and features a captivating cast of real-life characters including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, Teddy Roosevelt, John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, Henry James, and Edith Wharton.

Orphaned at a young age, Edith Stuyvesant Dresser claimed lineage from one of New York’s best-known families. She grew up in Newport and Paris, and her engagement and marriage to George Vanderbilt was one of the most watched events of Gilded Age society. But none of this prepared her to be mistress of Biltmore House.

Before their marriage, the wealthy and bookish Vanderbilt had dedicated his life to creating a spectacular European-style estate on 125,000 acres of North Carolina wilderness. He summoned the famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted to tame the grounds, collaborated with celebrated architect Richard Morris Hunt to build a 175,000-square-foot chateau, filled it with priceless art and antiques, and erected a charming village beyond the gates. Newlywed Edith was now mistress of an estate nearly three times the size of Washington, DC and benefactress of the village and surrounding rural area. When fortunes shifted and changing times threatened her family, her home, and her community, it was up to Edith to save Biltmore—and secure the future of the region and her husband’s legacy.

The Last Castle is the uniquely American story of how the largest house in America flourished, faltered, and ultimately endured to this day.

Kim’s Review:

This is a great history book! I listened to the audiobook, read by the author, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Biltmore has a special place in my heart; I’ve been visiting since I was a kid and it ignited my imagination as a place of finery and magnificence! I’ve said many times that if you haven’t been to visit, you should and I hold to that.

Kiernan laid out not just the history of the house, but the people who built her. George Vanderbilt is the height of refinement and education and Ivan and I have already decided that we need more dapper gentlemen like him. Edith was a classy, yet humble woman who accomplish much. I grew to love them the more I learned and I’m so happy that their legacy survives in that estate.

As a historian, I was happy with the way Kiernan presented the facts. She did extensive research and put all kinds of resources throughout the book. The personal letters were fascinating. I also loved how she focused on the trailblazing that happened at Biltmore. The National Park Service practically started on the estate and the agricultural and forestry development procedures were revolutionary. Overall, this was a great and easy read and I learned a lot!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Here a few pictures of Kim and Ivan at Biltmore:


Why Do I Feel So Sad? A Grief Book for Children

Why Do I Feel So Sad? A Grief Book for Children
Tracey Lambert- Prater, LPC
Illustrator: Elena Napoli

Published: July 14, 2020
50 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Date Read: August 9, 2020
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

Why Do I Feel So Sad? is an inclusive, age-appropriate, illustrated kid’s book designed to help young children understand their own grief. The examples and beautiful illustrations are rooted in real life, exploring the truth of loss and change, while remaining comforting and hopeful.

Broad enough to encompass many forms of grief, this book reassures kids that they are not alone in their feelings and even suggests simple things they can do to feel better, like drawing, dancing, and talking to friends and family.

Why Do I Feel So Sad? is:

  • Practical and compassionate—Written for early childhood-aged kids, this book touches on common sources of grief—everything from death to divorce or changing schools.
  • Different for everyone—This book normalizes the confusing thoughts and physical symptoms that come with grief, so kids know there’s no one right way to feel or heal.
  • Tips for grownups—Find expert advice and simple strategies for supporting grieving kids in your life.

Children don’t have to go through grief alone; this book provides the tools to help them.

Jessica’s Review:

This children’s picture book is THE resource aimed for children ages 5-7.  It is beautifully and brightly illustrated that enhances each sentence on the page.  This is one book I could see a parent reading with a child and also discussing the pictures.  Fortunately, this is also another picture book that shows a variety of diversity in the people shown on the pages. 

The sentences are simple and also bring about full understanding for the aimed age group.  This book shows that children, and yes, also adults can experience grief for a variety of reasons: From death, to the loss of a pet, a move, and possible changes in life such as divorce.  The book also shows children that they may feel a variety of different ways with their grief and that is ok. 

Throughout the book there are even questions posed to the child that they can answer, which in turn may help the adult they are reading the story with know how to help. It also shows how children can deal with their grief in a positive way. At the end there are resources given for both kids and adults to help with the grieving process.

This is a very well done children’s book that will help all children as they will at some point in life experience some kind of grief. 

I received a copy from the publisher via Amazon Vine.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK