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For Readers

5 Children’s Books That Really Stood Out

By: Hidden Gems on May 26, 2020

Hidden Gems Books ARC service.

By: Hidden Gems on May 26, 2020


Each and every week, subscribers to Hidden Gems are offered FREE books to download, read, and review – from any or all of over 15 different genres. Today, we’re going to look at some of our subscribers favorite Children’s Books that were recently sent out to them. Children’s Books are one of the more challenging genres to be successful at as a self-publisher, so hopefully it’ll be valuable to take a look at these “Hidden Gems” among their ranks. 

Merlin Raj and the Santa Algorithm by D. G. Priya and illustrated by Shelley HampeMerlin Raj and the Santa Algorithm by D. G. Priya

Merlin Raj and the Santa Algorithm is one of two books in this charming series of children’s books by author D. G. Priya, who is a computer science major with a passion for helping introduce children to STEM subjects, and computational thinking. In an age in which computer science experience is considered one of the foundational skills for success in our digital economy, the theme of the book instantly stands out and appeals to parents – as does the fact that our heroic leading pup is a service animal. Shelley Hampe’s charming illustrations also make the book eye-catching and enjoyable, and that’s why it’s no surprise that it earned its high reviews.

“A heartwarming holiday tale,” wrote Travina in her 5-star review. “This book a heartwarming yet fun read in the eyes of a very smart and clever service dog. I loved reading this book to my kids who enjoyed the many fiascos of the algorithm effect through Merlin’s eyes and mind as he brought the true meaning and importance of family during the holidays.”

“A fun STEM books,” says Amazon Reviewer in their own 5-star review. “This is a cute read told from a service dog’s point of view. We follow Merlin Raj as he tries to save the family’s holiday and use algorithms to do so, while trying to stay focused despite distracting socks seemingly everywhere. I enjoyed the cute illustrations and the fun way algorithms were introduced. I can’t wait to see what Merlin is up to next!”

The Night Before Kids' Yoga Day by Teresa Anne Power and illustrated by Anna AbramskayaThe Night Before Kids’ Yoga Day by Teresa Anne Power

On the first of April every year, parents all over the world recognize “Kid’s Yoga Day” in order to help introduce the younger generation to the healing and mindfulness of yoga. The Night Before Kids’ Yoga Day is a charming children’s book about two kids poised to take part in that event, and from the moment you lay eyes on Anna Abramskaya’s beautiful cover, it should come as no surprise why this book appealed to Hidden Gems subscribers.

“Very cute twist on Night Before Christmas,” writes Edna Hill in her 5-star review. “My 6-year-old granddaughter was doing the poses as I was reading to her via FaceTime and she said afterwards that the poses helped her relax after being cooped up in the house all day due to COVID-19. My granddaughter also notice that the author of this book also included a child in a wheelchair doing the yoga poses as well which was a good lesson for her to see that just because you may have a disability doesn’t mean you can’t do something just like everyone else. Well done!”

“Inspirational,” wrote Connie Dean in her own 5-star review. “It’s engaging and creative with excellent artwork demonstrating the different poses of yoga and at the end of the book there is a page with all the different poses. This book is a partner to the international kids yoga day and also includes a link to a five minute yoga video for children. It explains how important yoga is to reducing stress and improving physical health through exercise and focus. This is a great tool for children everywhere to unplug and Center themselves. I love this book and so did my grandchildren. I highly recommend this book as the proceeds go to supporting the International Kids’ Yoga Day Administration.”

Digital Girl by B. AustinDigital Girl by B. Austin

People might know B. Austin by her other pen names, Belinda Austin or Belinda V. Garcia, and might be surprised to find a charming children’s book in among her gut-wrenching true-life biographical writing, or her science fiction or fantasy works. However, it doesn’t take more than a few pages of Digital Girl to see that B. Austin’s clever and devious imagination makes for a compelling kid’s book – along the same twisted lines as Roald Dahl or David Williams. In this tale, 12-year-old hacker Jupiter gets sucked into her computer a la Tron, and during her battle to escape, she gets a unique viewpoint and understanding of modern-day STEM foundationals like how computer programs work, where viruses come from, and how languages like Java evolve. B. Austin’s compelling writing is backed by her background in computer science and applied mathematics – making this a book that translates the language of the digital economy into something middle schoolers can understand.

Digital Girl has been an awesome read,” writes reviewer Nancy Allen in a 5-star appraisal. “I really enjoyed reading from Jupiter’s point of view as she is an amazing little girl. I really enjoyed because I also recognized all the parts of the computer and the virus’ and the programs. Digital Girl is a great way to explain how some virus’ and Trojan horses may work. Digital Girl is great fit for all ages. It would be a great book for the younger young adult, middle grade, teens and even older adults who are into computers, fantasy or maybe even science fiction. If you fit in anywhere in the above categories then I would like to suggest that you give Digital Girl a try!”

“I am not a techie person, but even I understood what was happening to her,” writes Janet Cousineau in her 5-star review – which was almost as entertaining as the book! “It’s a digital nightmare but a dream of a book. It’s well written and the story was highly enjoyable: I can see the middle-school / tween/ sci-fi and fantasy genre readers inhaling this book in no time flat! I’ve passed it on to my nephew who has already read it and will review it under his mom’s account. After saying that I looked like the pre-digital Jupiter (I don’t disagree!) he said it was #amazeballs (a word I picked up from him) means this simple directive. READ. THIS. BOOK!”

The Slug Queen Chronicles by S. O. Thomas and illustrated by Corina Alvarez Loeblich The Slug Queen Chronicles by S. O. Thomas

Hidden Gems subscribers were in for a treat when they got offered the chance to read and review the entire “First Season” of the Slug Queen Chronicles – about a 12-year-old girl forced to travel to a magical world full of cursed boogie men, female Santas, and living nightmares. The story itself is delightfully twisted and macabre – think A Nightmare Before Christmas – while the illustrations are bright, compelling, and suck you into the tale completely. These factors combine to make a really nice children’s book package and that explains the highly-ranked reviews.

MK French, who reviews as Girl Who Reads, wrote a very deep 5-star analysis of this collection of stories which perhaps explains why they resonate so deeply with readers. ” It’s never explicitly explained that Cricket has autism, but she is clearly neurodivergent. It’s not a feature about her that magically changes as it progresses. The behavior the Cricket sees as changing overnight has affected her as well. It’s not that she is angry or yelling a lot, but hallucinating a talking cat that no one else can see that she’s allergic to is a difference as well. It’s the cat that suggests her baby brother is a changeling and suggests the journey she ultimately takes.”

“It’s not exactly a nod to the Cheshire cat, but it certainly feels that way as I read the book. There is a lot of detail about the fairy world and the conflicts that exist there, especially because Cricket has to learn about it as she journeys through there as well as learn how to cope with the dangers present and her own sensory overload. This is a much larger and more detailed section of the book, with so many new characters introduced. Cricket needs to understand herself as well as her relationships with other people. It’s too easy for her initially to care about her own needs and her own sensitivities. That’s normal in young children, and even at twelve, she’s only on the cusp of tweener/teen angst. She has to be challenged in order to grow and change and to really appreciate what’s important to her. This is exactly the kind of thing that middle-grade readers are trying to navigate on their own, so seeing Cricket navigate them in faeryland might be a safer way for them to realize there are viable ways to do so.”

Captain Blownaparte and the Little Dragon by Helga Hopkins  and illustrated by David BenhamCaptain Blownaparte and the Little Dragon by Helga Hopkins

The bright cover of this book and the hilarious title make it pretty obvious why this book was one of the most popular children’s books of the month according to our subscribers. It’s the digital version of a print book, and a lot of care and attention has gone into preserving the look and feel of the book even as it’s transferred over to the Kindle process. The tale is simple, but compelling – with the wicked Captain Purplebeard stealing a dragon’s egg, and the well-intentioned Captain Blownaparte having to come to the little dragon’s rescue.

“Very cute story,” wrote Edna Hill in her 5-star review. “This book was a very cute story that teaches young children that it is never OK to steal something that does not belong to you and that there are consequences if you do so. Captain Purplebeard found that out the hard way when he stole an unhatched dragon egg. Overall a very cute story and will be sending this to the grandchildren to add to their book collection.”

“Cute, and fine illustrations,” wrote Connie Dean in her own 5-star review. “My girls and I love this book! Great illustrations and a wonderful fun story about kindness friendship and not taking what isn’t yours. Add in Pirates and an adorable baby dragon and what more could you ask for. Great book for beginning readers. We will be reading this book over and over again!”

Each and every week, subscribers to Hidden Gems get invitations to read and review kids’ books just like this – plus titles from 15 other genres. If you love books, and want to share your recommendations, you’re just the kind of reader we’re looking for. Sign up today!

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