Archive for the ‘Children’s books’ Category

My Weird School Series came perfectly timed. Caleb had polished off several series and I was having trouble finding the next. Finally, I handed him my Kindle and asked him to search for some good books. He stumbled on the My Weird School series. It’s super-series jackpot because he consumed the entire collection of over 40 books.

New York Times bestselling Author Dan Gutman has hit a highly successful formula with this series. Which kid wouldn’t like to read about weird teachers, weird classmates and weird schools? Over 12 million books have sold.


Some of the Weird School titles


Series: My Weird School, My Weirder School, My Weird School Daze

Author: Dan Gutman

Publisher: Harper Collins

Age range: 6-9 years old

Page-count: Cannot tell on Kindle! Depends on font size!

Illustrations interspersed every few pages


What’s on the Plate?

A.J. is a regular, not-the-brightest-kid-in-class character. He takes everything literally, which makes for lots of hilarity for kids this age.

“Don’t worry, AJ,” said Mr Granite. “This test will be a piece of cake.”

It didn’t look like a piece of cake to me. It looked like a piece of paper. Which did cake have to do with taking a test anyway. Hey, maybe we were going to get cake after we finished taking the test!




What’s Delicious?

  1. The humour is right down Caleb’s corny alley. Even the book titles are hilarious.
  2. This Weird School Series is like the Seinfeld of children’s books. Dan Gutman has an ability to take a single subject and have AJ and his mates milk it till the cows come home and it’s still funny. That takes great writing chops!
  3. It is a breezy read and kept Caleb happily reading for over a month of mealtimes. That’s a huge plus for parents.
  4. It’s creative, funny and touches on highly relatable subjects for kids. Great for reluctant readers!

Read more about this series at My Weird Classroom Club.

Related Links:

Caleb’s Book Plate #9 – Balloon Goons, Forkupines & Notebook of Doom

Caleb’s Book Plate #8- Muddled Hercules, Vain Theseus …Hopeless Heroes

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Python in the Playground is out!

Python Book photo

With PK Cheng, illustrator (left) and Florence Chang, Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s Assistant Director of Education (right)

With all the not-good press that snakes have been getting lately, this creature is spotlighted in Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s local wildlife series for good reason.

  • What do you do when you spot a snake in the neighbourhood?
  • What do you not do?

These and other facts have been parsed within story in this picture book which has gone out to all the local kindergartens in Singapore. Hopefully, with more education, we (which includes me) can learn to co-exist with the wildlife in Singapore.

This is my 3rd picture book on local wildlife for Wildlife Reserves Singapore, following books 1 & 2 – Why did the Pangolin Cross the Road? and Little Otter, Litter Trouble. This series is illustrated by the talented PK Cheng, who is also illustrator of the Abbie Rose & the Magic Suitcase picture books.

All three books plus the Kai Kai & Jia Jia giant panda picture books are for sale at Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s in-stores as well as their e-store. (Limited copies of the big book format of Python in the Playground are also available at the e-store.)


Related Links:

Singapore’s favoured New Resident Little Otter meets Litter Trouble

Preschoolers meet Pangolin when book, project & outreach come together

Kai Kai & Jia Jia, Baby Panda Dreams & New Additions at River Safari

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What’s the best birthday present for a picture book fan-girl?


I selected the titles in advance and had my girlfriends hand it over as my birthday bookquet. Yah…not shy. More on these books another time.

And the best brunch venue for a hotel-executive-turned-author?


Dining in a library lounge setting in Six Senses Hotel.

Cook & Tras Social Library’s menu comes with a copyright page and in chapters.


It doesn’t take much to make me happy (a girlfriend says I shouldn’t say that out loud. 😂)

Related Links:

Fearfully & Wonderfully Made, Bear-hugged & Upliftingly Said (Part 2)

Picturing Books: Bear-Hugged, Rojak Recipe & Mo’s Elephant End


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The Notebook of Doom series is right up there as one of Caleb’s and my favourite junior chapter book series. It’s funny, clever, imaginative and full of action.


We read the entire 13-book series on my Kindle


Series: Notebook of Doom

Author: Troy Cummings

Publisher: Branches, Scholastic

Age range: 6-9 years old

100-ish pages

Illustrations interspersed every few pages


What’s on the Plate?

Alexander Bopp is the new nerdy kid in town. He is scared to death of spending his first night in a new house, going to a new school in a new town and having to make new friends.

Stermont turns out to be a much stranger town than Alexander could have expected. And when he discovers the Notebook of Doom, it sets him on a string of adventures that turn him into an unlikely hero. Rip Bonkowski, who starts off name-calling Alexandra, becomes his best friend and monster-busting partner, along with his other bestie Nikki, a mysterious kick-ass hoodie girl.



What’s Delicious?

Caleb and I lapped up this series over many moments of chortles and snortles together. I could easily devour this series a second time and still laugh out loud.

  1. I love how the story plots are smart, funny and fresh.
  2. It goes beyond the formulaic. The three main characters Alex, Rip and Nikki are extremely well-fleshed out across the books, with character development and surprises in store.
  3. Whilst each book has a standalone story, there is an underlying arc that ties the whole series together beautifully and the big reveal at the end of the series was unexpected and satisfying.
  4. The illustrations are equally brilliant and bring to life the characters of the kids and the hilarious monsters that they are fighting against.

Read more about this series at the author Troy Cummings’ website.


Related Links:

Caleb’s Book Plate #8- Muddled Hercules, Vain Theseus …Hopeless Heroes

Caleb’s Book Plate #7- Dragon & Iguana Besties, Fantastical Adventures


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It was a books jackpot when I found the entire series on Clementi public library’s shelf as they weren’t there on my last umpteen visits!

“Mum, can you borrow the rest of the series?” Caleb asked. “This is so funny.”

I googled and found that they haven’t been  published yet…haha. Isn’t that a dream for an author…when the reader cannot wait for the next book to come out?



Series: Hopeless Heroes

Author: Stella Tarakson, Illustrated by: Nick Roberts

Publisher: Sweet Cherry Publishing

Age range: 6-9 years old

200-ish pages

Black and White illustrations interspersed every few pages


What’s on the Plate?

In Book 1, Tim Baker helps with housework daily as his mum has to pull two jobs after his dad passed away. He accidentally breaks a valuable vase whilst cleaning it and frees Greek demigod Hercules, who has been trapped in the vase by his evil stepmother Hera.

Hero sperad1.jpg

Tim discovers that Hercules is mostly brawn, with little brain. Hercules turns Tim’s housekeeping efforts into a nightmare when he defeats a tiger rug, chops off the heads of Tim’s mum’s flowers, amongst other conquests.

Hero spread 3

Tim goes on to meet more hopeless heroes through the subsequent books in this laugh-out loud series, from self-loving Theseus, who cannot stop admiring himself in the mirror to trickster God Hermes who flip flops on loyalty between the evil goddess Hera and his own agenda.

Hero spread2

What’s Delicious?

I slurped up the books as quickly as Caleb did, for several reasons:

  1. It’s well-written, humorous and a pacy read.
  2. I like how Tim, the powerless kid, ends up being the real hero who saves the day whilst the Greek Gods bungle around like humans.
  3. The author has fleshed out Tim’s character well, down to his worries for his mother, fears of the school bully and other regular kid problems. And Tim’s own personal growth and family’s story progresses through the series, rather than staying static.
  4. The illustrations are an excellent complement to the text, with the Greek gods drawn as black 2D -looking cut-outs whilst Tim looks like the real deal.

Read more about this series at the author Stella Tarakson’s website.


Related Links:

Caleb’s Book Plate #3- Dragon Twins’ Hilarious Squabbles & Troubles

Caleb’s Book Plate #1- Scouring the World for Deliciously Good Books

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Today, I’m participating in author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!

My picture book selection is Ida, Always, a poignant story of loss and death, and it bears telling how this book picked me:

My dear, dear friend Hwee bought this book from the festival bookstore on Day 1 of the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2019 last week and gave it to me (autographed by the book’s illustrator Charles Santoso who was in the festival bookstore at that time).

When Hwee gave me the book over coffee, she said, “Don’t cry. I didn’t know…until Santoso told me that it is about loss of a loved one.”

I choked up. “Thanks. I won’t cry. But I need to tell you…today is my mum’s birthday.”

Mum would have turned 71 years old but she had passed away from terminal cancer 6 months earlier.


Hwee: “I asked Charles Santoso to pick his favourite book, which I planned to gift to Emily. He picked this, stopped, and said, wait, what is Emily’s background? This book is about death. Wow. I said yes, this is for Emily… “)

Ida bookcover

Title            : Ida, Always

Author        :   Caron Levis

Illustrator : Charles Santoso

Publisher   : Atheneum Simon & Shuster

Theme        :  Death, Loss, Grief

Opening line:

“Gus lived in a big park in the middle of an even bigger city. Buildings grew around him and shifted the shape of the sky. Zookeepers poked in and out. Visitors came and went.”

Ida Spread1


“Ida, Always is an exquisitely told story of two best friends – inspired by a real bear friendship – and a gentle, moving, needed reminder that loved ones lost will stay in our hearts, always.




What I loved about this book:

  1. The writing is artfully crafted and the gentle illustrations complement it well. The author paints the scenes with so much emotions and colour that you feel the depth of the friendship between the bears and Gus’ loss of his best friend Ida.
  2. It addresses death and loss in a sensitive and thoughtful way.

Gus’ loss of his best friend and longtime companion Ida reminded me of my parents’ 50 year-marriage. My parents did everything together and went everywhere together. Although they were two completely different personalities, they were very much one item. But as my dad said this week- her memory lives on in our hearts.

And Gus’ story ends the same way, with his memories of Ida with him always.


  1. Sit down with your child and write a thank you card to the loved one whom the child has lost. List down the things that you are both grateful to that loved one for.
  2. Look through family albums together and encourage your child to verbalise his/her thoughts about the loved one whom he/she has lost.






Related Links:

God Knows Leh #32 – Is Mum the Word in Finding Good Grief after Death?

Inside Out Kid #10: Mum, Grandma is already in Heaven!

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The best gauge of how much Caleb loves a particular series is if there are leftovers on the plate ie. Does he finish the series or not? When he consumes the entire series and asks for more, I know we hit book jackpot.

The Dragonbreath series was recommended by my bestie Gail. Her kids (my god-kids) relished this series. And now Caleb loves it too!


We hijacked this from my bestie’s home and downloaded the rest on my Kindle

Danny Dragonbreath is brave but not the brightest spark around. He’s lousy at blowing dragon fire, gets picked on by the school bully, day dreams excessively and runs from one strange mystical adventure to the next.



His best friend Wendell the Iguana is brilliant, total nerd, clean freak and hypochondriac.


Cristiana the crested lizard is Wendell’s fellow-brilliant nerd friend and skeptic. She doesn’t believe Danny is a dragon because he lacks all the impressive dragon qualities and doesn’t believe in anything mystical like dragons.

The trio go from one hilarious adventure to another. From busting a jackalope traffickers. To saving Danny Dragonbreath’s annoying little cousin from knights. And more.

The really fun illustrations every few pages breaks up the text and is great for Caleb who still likes seeing illustrations in the books that he reads. He consumed this entire series at 7+ years old.

We love the books and they are right up there as one of our mum-and-son favourite early chapter book series!

Related Links:

Dragonbreath Books Website

Caleb’s Book Plate #1: Scouring the world for deliciously good books



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