Video Reviews


When my oldest son, now 13, was a little boy, one of his favorite books for the two of us to read together was Dr. Seuss’s first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street. The imagination of Marco, the story’s main character, appealed to my creative kid, and we would pull it out time and time again to enjoy together.

My youngest son, now five, has also enjoyed this book, but being a true kid of the digital age, I had a feeling he’d enjoy the newest version even more. And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street is now available as an interactive omBook, with apps for both Apple and Android devices.

We had the opportunity to try out the iPad app version of this classic children’s book, and we both thoroughly enjoyed it. As with other interactive omBooks, the app provides three options, or reading modes:

  • “Auto Play” reads and turns pages automatically.
  • “Read to Me” reads each page aloud, but allows the child to swipe pages when they’re ready and to interact with each page as desired before swiping.
  • “Read It Myself” gives kids full control over reading, interacting, and turning pages.

The three modes really make the app versatile, and suitable to a broad age range. A younger child might benefit from the Auto Play mode, while a beginning reader could use the Read It Myself mode to practice reading skills and enjoy the other fun aspects of the app at his or her own pace.

In addition to the story-reading, each page has some fun extra features. Kids can tap on words to repeat them or tap and hold on a paragraph to have the entire paragraph read to them (great for early readers!). Each page also has illustrations that are “tap-able” — kids can tap on every part of the picture to have objects identified (both audibly and with the identifying word appearing on the screen). I was amazed at how many different objects on each page could be tapped, providing even more for kids to learn.

One thing I really appreciated about the omBook version of And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street is that they used the exact same illustrations as the original book, first published in 1937. In fact, when we initially started up the app, my five-year-old immediately ran to get his hard copy so he could compare, and was delighted to find that the familiar and well-loved pictures matched.

If you’re unfamiliar with this classic Seuss story, it’s a brief tale about a little boy who sees a horse and cart plodding along Mulberry Street as he walks home from school. But being full of imagination, he can’t stop there, and his mind embellishes the scene to include all kinds of outlandish and fun additions. My son relates well to the creativity and giggles at the silliness. And I believe the interactive omBook enhances and complements the book that has long been a staple in our home.

Guest contributor Katrina shares her love of Dr. Seuss — and her ipad — with her two sons. She blogs at Callapidder Days about faith, family, and random thoughts that fill her mind. She has hosted the Spring Reading Thing since 2007.

Guest Posting opportunity: Do you have an apple device such as an ipad, iphone, or ipod touch that you use to occupy your toddler or preschooler? Please send me an email at 5minutesforbooks (at) gmail dot com if you’d be interested in posting some guest reviews here for these types of apps. We get offers with free download codes, but we either don’t have apple devices, or don’t have young preschoolers, and I’d love to feature more of these reviews. Put “book apps” as the subject of your email, and in the body give me your name and let me know the age and sex of your children.


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Illusions: Aprilynne Pike’s “Wings” series

My daughter Amanda and I first read Wings when it first came out. It’s the story of 15-year-old Laurel in the year that her life changes a lot: she goes from being homeschooled to public high school, and oh yeah, after she sprouts a blossom on her back, she finds out that she’s actually a faery.
We somehow missed the second book, Spells, but when we found out that the third book Illusions was coming out, we quickly caught up.
I had not re-read Wings in the last 2 years, but Amanda had. I didn’t have any trouble picking up Spells, which takes Laurel from the California setting to spell school in Avalon. Amanda found this to be the weakest of the 3, but I

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Divergent: A YA Video Review

My 12 1/2 year old daughter Amanda recently read Divergent by Veronica Roth, a hotly anticipated new YA book. It’s part of Harper Teen’s Dark Days of Supernatural summer releases. If you click through the link, you can enter to win all 7 releases! The giveaway closes Wednesday June 15, so don’t delay.
Since I haven’t read this book (yet), but Amanda devoured it, I wanted to get her thoughts up before the giveaway ended.
This book has gotten quite a lot of buzz, and I think it’s interesting to see that Amanda sort of nailed the dystopian/not dystopian genre debate.
It does sound like an interesting book and would make for a good summer read for teens and adults.
I know she’s my daughter,

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The year is 2060. Maddie has been going about her life, doing and experiencing everything on screens — chats, school, study groups, even exercise — until she meets Justin in a study chat room. He invites her to come to a face to face study group, and gradually Maddie begins to question her lifestyle that has practically eliminated face to face interactions.
Her father is the head of DS (Digital School) and advocates this lifestyle of staying inside and online where people can be tracked, monitored, and protected from bodily harm, whereas her mother clings to some of the old ways and introduces them to Maddie as well, by giving her a journal, with real paper and in which she has to use old-fashioned longhand

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Meg Cabot’s Abandon: Review and Author Interview

I am so excited to share this post with you for so many reasons. We were privileged to be able to ask the wildly successful author Meg Cabot some questions, and I love what she has to say about writing, about teens, and about her own growing-up years.
But can I be honest? The thing that really excites me is to be able to share this fun video review of Abandon that my 12-year-old daughter I did together, since we both read the book. She enjoyed it so much that she wants to do more, and I like that having a partner helped me to loosen up, so we’ll have to keep our eyes open for that, right?
We also have a fantastic giveaway to

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This is Just Exactly Like You

Sustaining a happy and healthy marriage over a lifetime is difficult under any circumstance, but add in some challenges such as Hendrick, a 6-year-old child on the autism spectrum, and a husband who keeps starting — but not finishing — home improvement projects and someone’s bound to crack.
In This Is Just Exactly Like You, author Drew Perry introduces us to the fictional Lang family, and it is Beth Lang who decides she needs a break from it all — from her husband, Jack, her son Hen, and the ever-improving home, so she moves out. She doesn’t ever seem to be saying that she’s ending the marriage, but instead continues to maintain that she just “needs a break.” That break takes her to Jack’s best

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The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness

In February of 2009, Brianna Karp lost her job, found out her estranged father had committed suicide, and her boyfriend broke up with her for good. These events, along with a lifetime of a dysfunctional and abusive relationship with her parents and the Jehovah’s Witness kingdom, factored into the many circumstances that resulted in her becoming one of the many homeless in America, living in an old trailer with no electric hookups in a Wal Mart parking lot.
The Girl’s Guide to Homelessness is a memoir that Brianna Karp wrote while she was homeless. She actually kept a blog with the same name, but this book doesn’t read like a blog, as I feared it might, since I’ve read other projects like this that ended

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This Life is In Your Hands

I picked up This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone one afternoon, planning to read just a little bit in a few minutes of downtime. Instead, I was drawn in and kept reading and reading and reading — through baseball practice, and into the evening.
When I think of going “off the grid,” I immediately think of something going wrong. Not to make a blanket judgment, but generally those who exercise such an extreme divergence from “normal life” end up facing some disappointment. And indeed, as the subtitle hints, it involves “a family undone.”
This is not a typical memoir. For one thing, Melissa Coleman starts the story of her parents and their life trying to live off

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Video “Review” and Excerpt: The Wilder Life

Jennifer’s attempt at Video Reviews, take two (I’m getting better!). This one features me actually looking at the camera and talking, not reading (except when I’m reading the excerpt of the book). It’s completely different content from my written review of The Wilder Life (These are really just random thoughts, supporting my review). Hop over and enter the giveaway if you haven’t already.

If you want to be sure you don’t miss any video reviews, you can subscribe to our 5 Minutes for Books channel on YouTube. You can also check out our current giveaways. Subscribe to our feed. Follow us @5M4B on Twitter or on Facebook.
Jennifer Donovan can tell she’s grown up. The sound of her voice on tape still surprises her, but

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Video Review: The Raising

This is our first attempt (maybe last??) to share some reviews via video. We won’t double up on all reviews, and I’m sure the learning curve will be steep, but we’ll give it a try.
I know that some of you will have no interest in these, but perhaps they will grab some attention on twitter or on youtube. If you ARE interested, you can subscribe to our 5 Minutes for Books channel on youtube.
This isn’t my best effort, but it’s a start. Next time I’ll figure out how not to READ my review and look at the camera and sound natural instead, not smack my lips, and get it shorter!

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