Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows, written by Asia Citro and illustrated by Marion Lindsay

What the Magic Tree House series does for historical topics, this series does for science.

Fall in love with an atypical main character as she explores the world of science -- with a little dose of magic thrown in to make everything more fun and exciting!

Author Asia Citro weaves learning into the story line so effortlessly, kids won't even realize it because they're just having fun!

Read more about this fantastic new STEM-focused fiction book!

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I received a free copy of this product from Innovation Press in exchange for writing a review.  All opinions are my own.

OhMyGoodness, this book is hands-down our favorite thing in the world right now -- our enthusiasm over it has honestly lasted for days!

Gv and I seriously can't stop raving about it to everyone we see - she even wore her Thinking Goggles to a meeting I had at the bank today and proceeded to go on and on (and on!) when the lady noticed them perched upon her head.

Even though you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, when this book arrived for my review, I was immediately excited -- the colorful artwork adorning the front and back are incredibly enticing.

Not only is the writing fantastic, but the illustrations are incredible - so lively and fun!

Then I flipped through the pages a bit and saw not only plenty of these same fantastic illustrations on each page, but a larger font size being used for the text, which is just perfect for younger readers!

Larger font size and tons of great illustrations make this a fabulous early chapter book!

We were quickly introduced to Zoey and her feline pal Sassafras (whom Gv immediately associated with some of her other favorite characters, Peg + Cat!) 

Zoey is not your typical little girl, however. The opening scene of the book has her down in the dirt and searching for bugs, which she quickly creates a bug circus for.

This little tomboy loves science and is constantly conducting experiments and filling out a science journal with her findings. She wears a set of safety goggles on her head like a headband (when she's not using them to protect her eyes, of course), which she refers to as her Thinking Goggles because they help her come up with great ideas and solutions to problems.

I love how the items Zoey enters into her science journal are written in a different, handwriting-style font!

Those qualities alone make Zoey an appealing character to connect to, but it is when she goes inside to speak to her mom (also a scientist, by the way!), that the book really draws you in.

Turns out, Zoey's mom has a secret. She can see magical creatures -- and has been helping them out since she was a little girl. But that's not all. Zoey can see them, too!

Thus the torch is passed from mother to daughter and when a sick baby dragon appears one day, it's up to Zoey and Sassafras to figure out what's wrong with the little creature.

Not only could we not put this book down when reading it together, but Gv has "read" it over and over again by herself, too!

The rest of the book is an exciting journey of discovery as Zoey employs the scientific method to get to the root of the problem.

She realizes that part of the issue relates to whether the dragon is warm- or cold-blooded, then further fine-tunes things when she explores whether the little guy is an herbivore, carnivore, or omnivore.

The cool thing is, these science concepts are woven so seamlessly throughout the book, you never even realize you're being taught this new information and vocabulary.

I've been telling people that this book is like the Magic Tree House series for science, but even though I always enjoyed those books in my classroom, I think author Asia Citro does a better job with her Zoey books in conveying new information in a natural, flowing way.

Zoey makes a connection to prior knowledge (she does this often, which is wonderful)

Since Gv's only 3, I'd planned to read only a chapter a day to her, but cry after cry of "another one!" continued right up until we'd reached the final page -- all in a single sitting!

Aside from the fact that my voice was croaky from all that reading, Gv and I were both bouncing off the walls after we finished because it was just so dang exciting.

The back cover showed the other two books in the series that are available and Gv begged me to read the next one right then.

You guys, she had just sat perfectly still right next to me for almost two hours while I read this thing, start to finish.

And she still wanted more!

I tried explaining that we only had the first book of the series, but that didn't stop me from jumping online and requesting that our local library purchase all three immediately, along with my contacting the author personally just so I could let her know that she had a couple of new head cheerleaders down here in Florida.

She's my new best friend, and I just hope my getting all fan-girl on her doesn't scare her away too much, because someone cool enough to write such a fabulous book has got to be just great to get to know better.

Each chapter is introduced with Sassafras advancing in his quest to catch this butterfly -- it's a fun little detail to look for when you read it!

This book is an absolute must-have for everyone. (Buy it not only for yourself, but for your local library and school classrooms!) The main character is such a fantastic and unique role model and the story is so engaging, I enjoyed it just as much as Gv.

How much? Well, poor G walked in the door after work (this was hours after we'd finished the book, mind you) and I blabbered on about the thing for way longer than his patience should have allowed. But since he could see how excited I was about it (and having an adorable little goggle-wearing girl chiming in with her two cents didn't hurt), he let me go on and on until I'd pretty much recounted the whole entire thing to him, including all the details about what Gv and I did once we finished the book earlier in the day.

And just what did the rest of our day entail?

Along with the book, we'd been sent a few promotional items.

Gv now had her very own set of Thinking Goggles, so you know that meant that for the rest of the day, I heard "Hmmm, let me put my Thinking Goggles on and figure this out" coming from her room.

Modeling her new Thinking Goggles

Also, we'd been sent a few character stickers and tattoos. The whole time we were reading the book, Gv asked if she could make her own science journal, so I knew that would be the perfect use for all those great stickers:

Step 1: Cover a composition book with a cut-open paper bag or newsprint (just like you might have done with schoolbooks growing up).

Step 2: Add title (Gv used a postcard we'd received, but you could easily write this in with markers)
Step 3: Decorate the rest of the cover with stickers, drawings, or cut-out pictures from magazines.
Enjoy your new, personalized science journal!

We'll use this notebook next year for its intended purpose during our Latticed Learning time. Gv might not be able to write yet, but she can dictate what she wants to say to me and draw pictures, which will be a great start to the practice of journaling.

Next, she brought out every doll she owns to model the book's tattoos (we enjoy tattoos on dolls, not skin around here).

Bonus tip: if you're like us and don't want tattoo chemicals seeping into your child's skin, find a doll to share them with. Your child can still enjoy them, chemical-free!

Finally, she spent so much time throwing around the terms in the book's glossary (another fantastic feature!) all afternoon, I came up with the idea to create a sorting activity for her to go along with the herbivore/carnivore/omnivore concept.

The book's glossary highlights the main learning points of the book.

You can download your own copy of this free printable here and find other great freebies at the book's website, www.zoeyandsassafras.com.

Grab this free printable here to apply concepts learned from the book!

Even though this is a chapter book, don't let this book's size intimidate you. It makes a great read aloud (Gv's 3, remember?) for a preschooler and it's definitely one most every elementary student will enjoy reading alone.

So zip on over and grab your own copy of the book here -- and while you're at it, pick up books two and three in the series as well (trust me on this one). Then, grab your pom poms, because I know you'll be joining me as Asia Citro's biggest cheerleaders to rah-rah her into writing more of this fantastic series!

Still not convinced? Take a look at this fun promo video and see illustrator Marion Lindsay's genius come alive on your screen.

Have you been looking for a fun children's book series that focuses on STEM topics like this one?  I'd love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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  1. This book sounds great, so much fun! I need to add it to the collection of books I have for my grandkids.

  2. It sounds great, I think I have to look if I can find it in Spanish for my daughters. Gv looks so concentrated reading it!!

  3. What a sweet book! I love that it is multicultural too. Stopping by from the Blogger Pit Stop!

  4. This would definitely delight a child. Thanks for sharing with us at the Bloggers Pits Stop Very Informative. Much appreciated!
    Pit Stop Crew

  5. This sounds so cute! We love the Magic Tree House series. We'll have to check this out. Pinned.

  6. What a great little book and your daughter looks like she loved it

  7. I love how engaged your daughter looks to be in her book even though you are taking her picture. This book looks so fun and colorful - my kids are in their 20's but they would have loved this for sure. Thanks for linking up with #TuneInThursday last week. Hope to see you tomorrow too.

  8. Such sweet photos of your daughter! My daughter and I are loving Zoey and Sassafras too. Thanks for the fun activity to go along with the book. I saw your comment this morning, so I know you already realized that you are being featured at this week's link party. http://www.thelifeofjenniferdawn.com/2017/05/super-fun-activities-to-keep-kids-busy.html Have a great week!