Book, site and app reviews from the Parent staff


"DIVE IN!" by April Jones Prince

It's a tough job to sail the open seas, but these mice are busy working the night shift. It's all hands on deck with construction equipment, ships and tugboats. The mice can complete their project with some help from little readers' hands. This board book's interactive moving parts and simple rhymes will grab toddlers' attention right from the start. FOR AGES 1 TO 4

"BRIEF THIEF" by Michael Escoffier

Uh oh…Leon has to go, but there is no toilet paper. Surely no one will mind if he just uses this old, ratty pair of underwear he finds hanging nearby. But when Leon's conscience kicks in, will he be able to make up for swiping the skivvies? And who did those briefs belong to, anyway? Whimsical illustrations and a surprise ending teach kids about that "little voice" in their heads that helps them to tell right from wrong. FOR AGES 4 TO 8


Written by scientist and former NASA employee Mark Brake, "The Alien Hunter's Handbook" takes readers on a fast-paced and amusing search for alien life. Short, illustrated entries on everything from recognizing new life forms to communicating with alien beings can be read front to back or flipped through by more casual readers. The cartoon styling makes for an entertaining introduction to astronomy and astrobiology. FOR AGES 9 TO 12

"WONDER SHOW" by Hannah Barnaby

After her blood relatives abandon her one by one, Portia finds herself at a home for wayward girls, run by the ominous Mister. When she escapes to track down her father, Portia joins up with the Wonder Show, a traveling circus whose "freaks" become Portia's friends and family. Combining elements of mystery, suspense, and historical fiction, "Wonder Show" is ultimately about a girl finding herself - in a world where "home" can mean many different things. FOR TEENS

-Chase Gartland, Information Services Specialist, Karl Road Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library



Today's kids will happily spend hours in front of a computer, phone or game console, but how many really understand how the software works? Happy Nerds ( compiles numerous resources to introduce kids to programming for Windows, Mac and Linux. "Nerds" of all ages can play around with creating their own games and animations or learning the basics of common programming languages like Python. Tools are specifically designed for beginners and speak to kids' natural playfulness and curiosity.

-Chase Gartland



It's farmers' market season, and with locally grown food becoming more and more popular in households, the Mostly Brothers' Farmstand app makes it much easier to find and shop at your nearest market. After you download the app on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch and allow for it to determine your location, it'll tell you your nearest market and when it closes on that particular day. Pulling up a list of local markets is easy, too. Just tap the button in the upper left and choose "Find a Market." It'll begin searching immediately, and it will show you a map with all of your area markets pinned. Choose the one you want, and you'll often find that other users have posted photos at the markets and information on what's good to buy that day. You can save your favorites and share your own posts on social media, if you wish. The app is free, and it's really more of a farmers' market social platform than anything else. Local produce lovers, unite!


American Girl Brands has a few fun and free game apps for the iPhone and iPad, including Secret Wardrobe, rated 4+. The goal is to get American Girl's newest historical characters, Marie-Grace and Cécile, ready for a ball. Costume items drop, and you have a limited amount of time to swipe them to the right or left side - whichever has the matching item. Level up after you swipe a full outfit for one of the girls. But it's harder than it sounds. The game gives you about a minute, and it drops items quickly and in multiples to confuse you. If you incorrectly swipe an item, that's one strike, and you only get three. Quick thumbs have an advantage.

-Taylor Rogers