Book Reviews

1024 628 theory14

Foreword Reviews Preteen Novel Piranhas Like S’mores: 5 Stars

Foreword Reviews: Juvenile Fiction
Piranhas Like S’mores
JZ Bingham
Balcony 7 Media and Publishing
Pub Date: November 4, 2014




Piranhas Like S’mores will strike a chord with all readers as it portrays life events that are as funny as they are sad.


Inside Piranhas Like S’mores by JZ Bingham, young readers find a fun caper that navigates the tricky landscape of adolescence as characters explore lessons in honesty, compassion, and grief.

Eleven-year-old Klyde is involved in a little shady entrepreneurship, doing classmates’ homework in exchange for cash. His partner in crime is his cousin Bonney, who soon schemes with him on the ultimate science fair project. Using the resources of a rich friend, Seldon, the preteens acquire an elaborate fish tank and create a documentary on the feeding habits of piranhas.

Bingham illustrates productive problem-solving as the three characters execute their ambitious science project idea. They even get permission to import the Amazonian fish that are banned in their home state. “I know we were just a bunch of kids and all,” Bingham writes as Klyde, “but with the help of all the adults around us, encouraging us and stuff, we were doing something pretty cool. We were on a mission, and we were getting it done.”

On a deeper level, the author sprinkles in more serious obstacles to show young readers how to handle tough emotions. Firstly, there is Seldon, who is dealing with the death of his mother; Bingham uses Klyde and Bonney to show how to relate to a truly grieving friend. Secondly, Klyde’s beloved dog passes away, and Bingham presents a touching scene in which the parents lovingly comfort Klyde. Thirdly, Bonney suffers a horrible accident that lands her in intensive care, and Klyde and Seldon must confront their own fear of losing a close friend.

Bingham should be commended for managing to address life’s harsh realities within a comic tale sometimes so ridiculous that piranhas dine on s’mores. But what really stands out is the author’s knack for conveying an authentic preteen voice. Klyde’s mix of awareness and innocence is a dead-on portrait of the confusing jumble of emotions in those formative years. His voice and the cultural references he uses make him a believable protagonist.

Whether Bingham’s characters are trying to get piranhas into a fish tank or visiting their comatose friend in the hospital, they call on personal strength, kindness, and the support of others to find their way. As Bingham writes, “Some things go bad without you ever seeing them coming. And some things go bad because you made them happen. Either way, you can try to make things right again.”

Piranhas Like S’mores will strike a chord with all readers as it portrays life events that are as funny as they are sad. In the book’s final line, Klyde concludes:

“Bittersweet: It’s what life tastes like. And if you can handle the bitter, the sweet will come later.”

Amanda McCorquodale



5 Stars Foreword Review of Piranhas Like S'mores by JZ BinghamAvailable wherever books are sold, in print and eBook formats. Convenient links: AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE

Channel Blue by JZ Bingham, 5 Stars Foreword Reviews Juvenile Fiction
1024 384 theory14

Foreword Reviews Juvenile Fiction: 5 Stars For Channel Blue


Foreword Reviews Juvenile Fiction
Channel Blue: Riders of the Storm
by JZ Bingham | Jason Buhagiar, Illustrator
Balcony 7 Media and Publishing
Pub Date: April 30, 2014



Pulled in by standout illustrations, kids are introduced to life lessons such as perseverance, sportsmanship, and overcoming adversity.

For once, judging a book by its cover will serve teachers, students, and parents well.

Illustrated by Jason Buhagiar, JZ Bingham’s Channel Blue is as riveting in its text as it is in its animation-style visuals. The fourth in the award-winning Salty Splashes Collection, Bingham uses clever rhyming couplets to create a picture book about an alluring cast of surf-loving animals and the sea creatures under the waves.

The adventure story is superbly packaged in hardcover with a sleek front-cover design and truly beautiful illustrations, with layouts reminiscent of Disney storyboards.

On the morning of Heat Wave, a surf contest, cartoon animals Stump and Crump attempt to thwart the feline Beardsley so that their boss, Diggy, has a better shot at winning the Golden Fin trophy. The duo enlists the aid of dolphins and sharks as furry beach babes Oola and Kat look on to see which surfer will come out on top. Through Bingham’s metered verse, Beardsley overcomes a broken surfboard, rocks outside his cave, and sinister sharks to not only win the contest but also to exercise supreme sportsmanship in befriending his rival in the end.

“In spite of all his scheming and in spite of all his tricks,” Bingham writes, “the mighty Diggy hit a wall with quite a lot of bricks. ‘We made it, man. Here, take my hand.’ The bobcat took a stand. This humbled Diggy mightily. He grinned and took his hand.”

Pulled in by Buhagiar’s standout illustrations, kids are introduced to life lessons such as perseverance, sportsmanship, and overcoming adversity. Rhymes make the narrative fun to read aloud and will also benefit new readers as they work through Bingham’s mix of easy and slightly advanced vocabulary.

Bingham also packs in the action: the furry cartoon cast has a beachside dance party, snorkels through reefs, rides sting rays, conspires with sharks by moonlight, and surfs the white- crested swells. Meanwhile, Buhagiar adds intensity through highly expressive characters drawn to capture the drama and excitement of the Heat Wave competition.

Channel Blue will undoubtedly stand out on any bookshelf, and once cracked open, it will likely become a favorite at group story times or in the hands of a young beginner reader.

Amanda McCorquodale



channel-blue-book-review 5 Stars Foreword Reviews Juvenile FictionAvailable wherever books are sold and in select libraries. AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLE 

Salty Splashes eBooks by Balcony 7
1024 791 theory14

Digital Book World QED Gold Seal for Salty Splashes Ebooks

December 2013

Santa Barbara, CA: Digital Book World QED Gold Seal Awarded to Salty Splashes Ebooks

Salty Splashes Collection Ebooks and Read To Me Ebooks receive the Digital Book World QED Gold Seal of Approval. QED stands for for Quality, Excellence and Design. It’s the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for ebooks and enhanced ebooks.

All recipients of the QED have passed a thorough, independent 13-point quality assurance test across multiple formats and devices. Developed by Digital Book World, with support from leading ebook retailers and industry associations, the QED is a signal to the readers of ebooks that the book will render beautifully on any screen on which they are chosen to be read.

Digital Book World (DBW) started as a conference to address the radically changing commercial publishing environment. It has since evolved into a year-round platform offering educational and networking resources for consumer publishing professionals and their partners. Their informative annual conference in New York City is widely attended and often news-breaking. DBW also offers monthly WEBcasts, articles, research and white papers for professionals in the publishing industry.

Digital Book World QED for Salty Splashes eBooksSalty Splashes Read To Me Ebooks offer full-on audio productions and word light-up; excellent reading tools for beginning and intermediate readers. Available for iOS and Nook devices, Salty Splashes enhanced ebooks have cartoon voice overs and continuous sound effects that play with automatic read-aloud and page-turn.

Developed with Aptara Corp., these books also offer synchronized word light-up as the audio plays, offering EduTainment at its finest: Phonics and Word Recognition make learning to read easier. Salty Splashes cartoon adventure stories make learning to read fun and state-of-the-art.

Learn more about the QED Gold Seal:

Learn more about the cartoon stories and digital products, where to buy

1024 590 theory14

Foreword Reviews Juvenile Fiction: 5 Stars for Dreamy Drums

Foreword Reviews Juvenile Fiction
Dreamy Drums: Trouble in Paradise
JZ Bingham
Balcony 7 Media and Publishing
Pub Date: November 1, 2013



Fun illustrations and animal characters, combined with a pleasing rhyming scheme, make this a book that parents and children will want to read over and over again.

[mks_separator style=”blank” height=”20″]

Dreamy Drums, Trouble in Paradise, is a high-quality, eye-catching, colorful picture book with a cast of animal characters that children will enjoy. The first book in the Salty Splashes Collection™, this book introduces a cast of animal pals and the hijinks they get themselves into. From Sammy, the young puppy learning the family rules, to a day spent at the beach with his sister Kat and friends, the group manages to fall asleep on a small boat and drift off in a storm until they beach at an island.

JZ Bingham’s rhyming text excels at using both prose and spoken words to define the characters’ personalities, such as when Kat dreams of being back to the only child, thinking, “She imagined ‘Prisoner Sammy’/ and she grinned from ear to ear.” The rhyme is simple to moderate, good for lower elementary school students.

There is an abundance of text in Dreamy Drums, some pages having five stanzas—quite a bit for a thirty-two-page picture book. There is one logic error: when Sammy learns the rules, he discovers that he has some ‘no-nos’ hidden in his room that he needs to put in a bag and hide, but in the list of his rules, there is nothing noted that would make sense to bag, hide, or keep. The book gets part of its title from a picturesque stanza: “The thunder claps were distant, dreamy drums in their heads.”

Dreamy Drums, Trouble in Paradise, of the Salty Splashes Collection, has an ensemble of fun animal characters written in a rhyming scheme that parents and children will want to read over and over again.

Illustrator Curt Walstead has drawn cartoon characters that fit the personalities Bingham created for them. According to the book’s introduction, Walstead hand-drew the illustrations onto Balcony 7 Studios storyboard designs. His illustrations are fun and colorfully bright, with movement, direction, and appropriate amount of details. Walstead has an impressive resume, including Dragon Tales, Men in Black, Dora the Explorer, and Go Diego Go, just to name a few.

The cover illustration is eye-catching, with emotion on the characters’ faces during the storm. The title is printed large and bold at the top, with the author’s and illustrator’s names at the bottom. The book is a durable hardcover with dust jacket with quality paper inside. There are one or two pages where part of the illustration and storyboard seem slightly fuzzy, but it doesn’t affect the overall feel of the book.

Beth VanHouten




Learn more about the entire cartoon eBook and book collection

Available in print, eBook, audiobook and Read-To-Me Audio Ebook formats wherever books, eBooks and audiobooks are sold.
Salty Splashes Cartoons Books, Audio eBooks for Kids
1024 791 theory14

Enhanced Audio eBooks for Kids: Salty Splashes Cartoons

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

[insert sound cloud trilogy audiobook image]

Enhanced Audio eBooks for Kids

With Word Light-Up, Continuous Sound Effects and Voiceovers
SALTY SPLASHES CARTOONS, with Voiceovers by: Author JZ Bingham and Voice Actor Shawn Willms


Kids and adults love adventure, humor, sound effects and great visuals. We’ve got that. During the inception of Salty Splashes books and ebooks, the elements of fiction and art began to take shape in a balanced way, each component complementing the other. We didn’t want to restrict this creative growth by commanding a set, traditional format. We let the format develop organically. The result was a combination of words, voice over, sound effects and pictures that captivates kids and adults alike. We don’t know many people who don’t like cartoons or books; but we also didn’t realize just how many people would be so enamored by this very natural concept.

It seems the simplest things, done well, can be very powerful, indeed.

This natural concept is: Movies On Paper. The best of both worlds. Entertainment and education. ( Edutainment) Screenplays with storyboards. They grab the attention of children and adults, and they compel them to read. What can be better than that? This: When adults like the concept, they’re more willing to engage with their children in the powerful act of reading together.

If ever there was a good time to use an over-used cliche, this would be it: It’s A Win-Win Situation.



Find Salty Splashes Audio eBooks on iTunes

Find the Salty Splashes Trilogy Audiobook on AMAZON | Downpour and wherever audiobooks are sold.

Learn more about the cartoon characters, licensing rights, heirloom hardcovers and more on