Books, apps and site reviews for families and kids



An ugly duckling tries to tell his story, but a ferocious crocodile derails the story from the very beginning, inviting shivers, laughs and lots of participation from readers. The author uses a unique format where the duckling narrator talks directly to the audience and encourages them to join in the hilarious antics. FOR AGES 3 TO 6.


Welcome spring and summer with this delightful poetry book featuring dynamic poems about plants and insects. Each poem has two voices and begs to be read aloud by two readers. The vivid language and format allow readers to discover the intricacies of the growing season from the perspective of the plant or insect. FOR AGES 7 TO 10.

"HOLD FAST" by Blue Balliett

Author Blue Balliet once again weaves an intelligent, intricate mystery with heart. In her newest mystery, Early Pearl is a little girl with a mission. Her father has mysteriously disappeared and as a result, Early, her mother and her little brother are forced into a homeless shelter. Early must help keep her family together while also figuring out the clues to her father's whereabouts. FOR AGES 9 TO 12.

"SERAPHINA" by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina lives in a kingdom where humans and dragons live together under a peace treaty. As the anniversary of the treaty draws near, a member of the royal family is murdered and everyone suspects a dragon is to blame. Seraphina gets wrapped up in the drama and is soon forced to confront a secret that will connect her to the human world and the dragon world and cause her to fear both. Fantasy readers will love the intriguing characters and descriptive scenes in Seraphina's complicated world. FOR TEENS.

-Angie Sharkey, Youth Services Manager, Gahanna Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library



Instead of a bedtime story, try a bedtime math word problem! Bedtime Math offers a daily math problem and then gives you ways to apply it to toddler "wee ones," school-age "little kids" and "big kids." This website is a great way to introduce math into your daily routine, start your little ones with basic math concepts and then help your older kids sharpen their skills.

-Angie Sharkey



The last name "Rogers" is ranked #61 on the list of most popular last names. Around 294,403 people share it. That's all according to Schatzisoft's iPhone and iPad app, Baby Names, which draws in U.S. Census data to help you choose and research first and last names. It's a fun way to not only pick a name for your newborn, but to find out just where it comes from and how popular it is right now. The basic version is free, but that doesn't let you learn much more than the country of origin. Pay $1.99 and you'll be able to learn meanings, pronunciations and save names to your favorites list. The app also has a fun selection of name lists based on themes. "Southern Names," for instance, pulls up 66 different boy and girl options for you to look through. Maribelle sounds nice, doesn't it?


What's for breakfast? With this iPhone and iPad app from Sunstorm Interactive, your child will learn to cook and serve up some morning basics, from French toast to pancakes and bacon. Sticky notes guide you through the process of cooking. And if you leave the toast or eggs on the skillet too long, it alerts you: "It's burning! Drag to your plate." You can sort through some plate and tablecloth options. If you want to head to the "grocery store," it's $2.99. That unlocks more food and décor options for you. Once you're done slathering your pancakes in syrup and picking your drink (juice, coffee with varying amounts of cream), you can choose to store your breakfast in the freezer or share it via Facebook or email. Watch out, though, this app also lets you place a surprise treat on your plate to send to a friend… frogs or insects.

-Taylor Rogers