Saturday, August 27, 2011

How do you get ready for a storm?- Saturday Snapshot

So yesterday when we were getting ready for to be stuck indoors for Hurricane Irene we of course took a trip to the library.  Yes, we went to the store and stocked up on water and made sure the flashlights were working and there was food to eat and all that, but of almost equal importance was having some good books to read if we were without power.  Can't count on TV to fill all those hours even if we do have power!

I thought about it later that that one trip went pretty far to show exactly how important books and reading are to my family.  When we go on vacation we wouldn't dream of going with out books and of course an audio book for the car.  When we bought our car we didn't even think to consider getting a minivan with a DVD player, I never even thought of it.  I am sure if we had one we would enjoy it, but audio books have been such a part of our trips that I just never even thought about movies.  Just thinking back on the books we've listened to in the car brings back to me where we were going when we listened to it.  Like being stuck in a traffic jam after going to the zoo while listening to Harry Potter or going to the beach last summer and listening to Amber Brown is Not a Crayon.  Books are the background noise of my life.  The first time we spent a whole week at the beach my older two children still napped and I was pregnant with my third child, I took along seven books and read 6 1/2 of them mostly during naps and after they went to bed.  It was such a nice relaxing way to end the day.

Who else has some wild plans to read during this time?

Don't Read This Book by Jill Lewis Illustrated by Deborah Allwright

Editorial Reviews Publishers Weekly

Snappy dialogue drives this fairy tale parody about a hapless royal story writer who's lost his notes and a self-important king who--in the tradition of The Monster at the End of This Book and Do Not Open This Book!--tries to dissuade would-be readers: "If you turn one more page of this book I will throw you in the dungeon!" The writer scrambles to reconstruct his story (it's about a princess, a pea, and 15 mattresses), while the king tries to guess the title ("Was it The Princess and the Incredibly Handsome King?... Was it The Princess and the Amazingly Wise King?"). Fairy tale characters have walk-ons throughout ("Er... my, my, Your Majesty... What a big crown you have..." says a "thoroughly confused" wolf, dressed up like Red Riding Hood's grandmother). Allwright carries through the under-construction theme with pages laid out on graph paper and digital scraps that peel back to reveal additional story elements; she draws the characters with a friendly retro touch. Lewis handles her no-story story with sparkle, and children will enjoy the feeling of having avoided the king's wrath. Ages 3 7. (Sept.)
My thoughts:
My children love books like this.  Seasame Streets There's a Monster at teh End of this Book is one of our favorite books to read and reread.  Last year I shared it with my preschool class and it became one of the most read books on our library shelf.  Because of that I was drawn immediately to this book.  The vain king keeps ordering the reader to stop reading the book, put it down, stop turning pages just like Grover in the other book.  Then once the writer reassmbles all of his notes he has to tell the whole story he meant to tell in two pages of lots of text.   It was a fun book to read and I can see us rereading it in the future.

•Pub. Date: August 2010
•Publisher: ME Media, LLC
•Format: Hardcover , 32pp
•ISBN-13: 9781589250949
•ISBN: 158925094X

Friday, August 26, 2011

Castles, Caves, and Honeycombs by Linda Ashman , Lauren Stringer (Illustrator)

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
Many places can make a home—a silent cave, a secret den, a silky web, even a sticky honeycomb. Each one is safe and snug and just right for the families who live there. Linda Ashman's spare, lyrical text and Lauren Stringer's sumptuous paintings invite you to explore some of these wonderful homes and see how different—yet alike—they can be.

Describes some of the unique places where animals build their homes such as in a heap of twigs, on a castle tower, in a cave, or in the hollow space inside a tree.
My thoughts:
They rhyming nature of the text in this picture books makes it very easy to read.  Each page features a different animal home or children at play in a home like a castle.  It would be a good book to use to discuss the different places animals live.  The illustrations are appealing.  The title and cover art are what drew me to the book in the first place.  I loved the view through the cave entrance of the green valley.
•Pub. Date: March 2001
•Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
•Format: Hardcover , 32pp
•Age Range: For infants or children in preschool
•ISBN-13: 9780152022112
•ISBN: 0152022112

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A House Called Awful End (Eddie Dickens Trilogy Series #1) by Philip Ardagh , Martin Rayner (Read by)

The first book in a hilarious, action-packed trilogy.

Eddie Dickens is sent off to stay with his aunt and uncle and a riotously funny comedy of errors ensues.

When both Eddie Dickens's parents catch a disease that makes them turn yellow, go a bit crinkly around the edges, and smell of hot water bottles, it's agreed he should go and stay with relatives at their house, Awful End. Unfortunately for Eddie, those relatives are Mad Uncle Jack and Even-Madder Aunt Maud. . . .

This hilarious historical spoof, the first in the Eddie Dickens trilogy, has been called "a scrumptious cross between Dickens and Monty Python."

When eleven-year-old Eddie Dickens's sickly parents become "a bit crinkly round the edges," he is taken in by his great-uncle and great-aunt, Mad Uncle Jack and Mad Aunt Maude, and embarks on adventures that involve strolling actors, St. Horrid's Home for Grateful Orphans, and a carnival float shaped like a giant cow.
My thoughts:
This sounded like it was going to be a really fun audio book, and I have to admit that my children really thought it was funny, but it just didn't hit the spot for me.  A lot of the time it felt like the author was trying too hard to be funny.  The story is told in parts that were sent as installments to someone who was away at school.  That gave the story a bit of a disjointed feeling.  Then the whole thing with Eddie's parents having some weird sickness and their doctor prescribing things like only being allowed to leave the bed three times a day, having to sleep on paper bag sheets and eat ice cubes shaped like people was just way bizarre in a weird not funny way.
I don't have any plans to look for the other two books in the trilogy, I really don't care what happens to Eddie from this point forward.  It filled two hours plus of driving time, but was nowhere near as enjoyable as some of the other books we've listened to.
•Pub. Date: June 2004
•Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
•Format: Compact Disc
•Series: Eddie Dickens Trilogy Series #1
•ISBN-13: 9780807219997
•ISBN: 0807219991

Meet The Author
Philip Ardagh is over 6 feet 7 inches tall with a big bushy beard. Not only is he very large and very hairy, but he has also written around sixty children's books for all ages, though nothing quite like A House Called Awful End . . . until now. Currently living as a full-time writer with a wife and two cats in a seaside town somewhere in England, he has been—among other things—an advertising copywriter, a hospital cleaner, a (highly unqualified) librarian, and a reader for the blind.

David Roberts is so busy drawing pictures that no one is really sure what he looks like. We do know that he has illustrated several books for children and lives somewhere in England, but whether his home is near the sea or not is anybody's guess

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fleabag by Helen Stephens

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
A boy without a dog and a dog without a boy meet each other in the park. But the boy’s big people don’t approve of the friendship. The dog is dirty! And he has FLEAS! Will these two friends be able to find a home together?

Helen Stephens's timeless, kid-friendly art makes this heartwarming story a winner for anyone who's ever loved a dog.

My thoughts:
I loved the illustrations in this book.  They are done in a way that reminds me of picture books when I was little, I can't even put my finger on quite what it is about them, but they seem like classic drawings.  The story is touching as well.  This little dog is lonely and wants to belong to a family, but everyone always turns away from him because he is dirty and has fleas.  He never loses his hope though and finds a family of his own by doing the right thing.

•Pub. Date: July 2010
•Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
•Format: Hardcover , 32pp
•Age Range: 4 to 8
•ISBN-13: 9780805089752
•ISBN: 0805089756

Meet The Author
Helen Stephens likes to draw in a sketch book everyday, and often these sketch book drawings lead to new picture book ideas. 'Fleabag' was inspired by a trip to Battersea Dogs Home. Helen studied illustration at Glasgow School of Art and has worked as a freelance illustrator and as an editorial illustrator. She lives in London.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella by Susan Lowell Illustrated by Jane Manning

Overview from Barnes and Noble
Once upon a time, there was a sweet cowgirl named Cindy Ellen, who lived with the orneriest stepmother west of the Mississippi and two stepsisters who were so nasty, they made rattlesnakes look nice! But when a fast-talkin' fairy godmother teaches Cindy Ellen a little lesson about gumption, Cindy lassos first place at the rodeo and the heart of Joe Prince....

You may think you've heard the story before-but you'll get a side-splittin' bellyache after you're through with this hilarious rendition told Wild West-style!

Cindy Ellen loses one of her diamond spurs at the square dance in this wild western retelling of the classic Cinderella story.

My thoughts:
This is a fun retelling of Cinderella from a Wild West point of view with diamond spurs instead of glass slippers and a rodeo and square dance instead of a ball.  The step sisters are still ugly on the inside and outside and the father is largely absent in the tale.  I think this retelling is more appealing to both boys and girls than the classic Cinderella tale sometimes is.  My two year old loved this one!

•Pub. Date: December 2001
•Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
•Format: Paperback , 40pp
•Age Range: 4 to 8
•ISBN-13: 9780064438643
•ISBN: 0064438643

Meet The Author
Susan Lowell's family has lived in the American West since Gold Rush days. She is the author of several picture books for children, including The Three Little Javelinas, a Reading Rainbow Book, and The Bookmaker and the Elves, winner of a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. Her novels for older children are I Am Lavina Cumming and The Boy with the Paper Wings. She and her husband and their two daughters divide their time between Tucson, AZ, and a ranch near the Mexican border.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Tiger Rising by Kate DiCamillo

Overview from Barnes and Noble:

Walking through the misty Florida woods one morning, twelve-year-old Rob Horton is stunned to encounter a tiger - a real-life, very large tiger - pacing back and forth in a cage. What’s more, on the same extraordinary day, he meets Sistine Bailey, a girl who shows her feelings as readily as Rob hides his. As they learn to trust each other, and ultimately, to be friends, Rob and Sistine prove that some things - like memories, and heartaches, and tigers - can’t be locked up forever.

Rob, who passes the time in his rural Florida community by wood carving, is drawn by his spunky but angry friend Sistine into a plan to free a caged tiger.

My thoughts:
More than being about the tiger found in the woods, this is a story about how we all lock things away inside of ourselves instead of dealing with them.  Feelings of loss, anger, hopelessness, despair, and more can be buried deep inside of us.  By keeping things inside we are stopping ourselves from living our current lives fully by trapping us in the past.

Rob and his father are going through the motions every day since the death of his mother, but neither of them is really living.  Sistine is angry with the whole world instead of directing her anger towards her father who is most deserving of her anger.

Sometimes we need to let things out, which can be painful and scary, so we can deal with them and move forward. 

•Pub. Date: August 2002
•Publisher: Candlewick Press
•Format: Paperback , 128pp
•Age Range: 12 and up
•ISBN-13: 9780763618988
•ISBN: 0763618985

The Biggest Fish in the Lake by Margaret Carney Illustrated by Jaent Wilson

Overview from Barnes and Noble: 
A young girl and her grandfather love spending time together fishing on the farm — talking, sharing stories or just listening to the wind as they wait for a bite. For her birthday, Grandpa gives her a brand-new fishing rod. And now, at the very beginning of bass season, they're off to the lake for her first grown-up fishing trip. She can't wait to catch a fish all by herself — maybe even the biggest fish in the lake! This lyrical tale celebrates nature, the bonds of loving, intergenerational relationships, and a child's first steps toward independence. The timeless illustrations capture the quiet pleasures and dramatic thrills of fishing. Together they serve as a reminder that there is more to life than simply landing "the big one."

My thoughts:
This was a nice book about how sometimes things can take a lot of practice and that even with a lot of practice there are things that we can't force.  Fish will bite when they bite or not bite at all, but the act of fishing and spending time in nature and with people you care about is the more important part of the activity.  I also liked how Grandpa threw some fish back so that there would be enough for everyone, he only took what they were going to eat and wasn't greedy about his catches.  One of the fish that is caught in the book is a muskie which we just saw in a tank at a sporting goods store, so it was a good tie in to a day trip we just took.

•Pub. Date: March 2003
•Publisher: Kids Can Press, Limited
•Format: Paperback , 32pp
•Age Range: 5 to 8
•ISBN-13: 9781553375289
•ISBN: 1553375289

Meet The Author
Janet Wilson is a prolific and award-winning children's book illustrator. Her books include Jasper's Day and The Biggest Fish in the Lake. She lives in Eden Mills, Ontario, with her husband, Chris.

Margaret Carney shares her deep love of nature through weekly newspaper columns as well as her books for children, which include At Grandpa's Sugar Bush and The Biggest Fish in the Lake. She wrote Where Does a Tiger-Heron Spend the Night? with the hope of turning young children into birders before they can read. She lives in Whitby, Ontario.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Have I got a book for you! by Melanie Watt

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
The bestselling author-illustrator and creator of publishing sensation Scaredy Squirrel presents a character you just can't say "no" to: salesman Mr. Al Foxword. Al can sell anything. You can't help but be impressed by his lineup of satisfied customers: he's sold an icebox to a penguin, an umbrella to a fish and a dirt vacuum to a mole. Al knows you're looking for a great book, and this is your lucky day. Say goodbye to books that leave you bored and uninspired. Research shows that 100 percent of Al's customers notice a dramatic increase in happiness after buying his book. Not totally convinced yet? Just when you think you're ready to close the book on this relentless salesman, he comes up with a clever tactic that you simply can't refuse. The retro design and the sheer absurdity of Foxword's powers of persuasion make for an off-the-wall picture book with major crossover appeal that pokes fun at our hard-sell society.

My thoughts:
This book makes my children laugh each time we read it, the main character is a fox who can talk anyone into buying anything, including his book.  He is funny and very persuasive.  It is a good jumping off point too for talking with children about how even though a pitch sounds compelling when you hear it, often times the things someone is trying to hard sell you on are things you don't need.  The harder someone is working on making the sale the less likely it is that the item is something you would really need.

•Pub. Date: August 2009
•Publisher: Kids Can Press, Limited
•Format: Hardcover , 32pp
•Age Range: 5 to 9
•ISBN-13: 9781554532896
•ISBN: 1554532892

Meet The Author
Mélanie Watt is an acclaimed children's book author and illustrator. Her books include the Scaredy Squirrel, Chester and Learning With Animals series, Augustine, Leon the Chameleon and Have I Got a Book for You! She lives near Montreal.

Mélanie Watt is an acclaimed children's book author and illustrator. Her books include the Scaredy Squirrel, Chester and Learning With Animals series, Augustine, Leon the Chameleon and Have I Got a Book for You! She lives near Montreal.

If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet by Leslie McGuirk

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
Amazing rocks, found on a stretch of beach near the author's home, comprise this unique alphabet book. A is for Addition, and there are rocks in the shape of real numbers, too. B is for Bird, and there is a bird rock on a nest with an egg. G is for Ghosts, and there is a host of rocks that look like ghosts! Children and adults alike will pore over these fascinating rocks, and will be inspired collect their own.

My thoughts:
This is such a neat alphabet book.  Over the course of ten years Leslie McGuirk collected rocks on the beach that look like letters, animals and other objects and then put them together with props to make each of the letters.  Whenever we go to the beach my children are obsessed with finding shells, but we don't think much about collecting rocks.  I think when we go for our vacation at the end of the summer they will be looking at the rocks a bit more closely.  They especially like the ghosts which are rocks with holes and cut outs that look like faces and the hearts for valentine.  This book is a unique find in itself!

•Pub. Date: May 2011
•Publisher: Random House Children's Books
•Format: Hardcover , 48pp
•ISBN-13: 9781582463704
•ISBN: 1582463700

Meet The Author
LESLIE MCGUIRK says that when she was a child she wanted to be a game warden in Africa. Instead, she grew up to become an author and illustrator whose favorite topic is the animals she loves so much.

Leslie is the author-illustrator of many children's books, including the Tucker the Dog books, Pip the Penguin, and Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ima Nobody Becomes Somebody! (Book One in the Ima Nobody Series) by Brenda Poage Illustrated by Jenna Murray

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
Do you remember the Bully in first grade? Many children face this issue on a daily basis, as Ima Nobody does in the excerpt from the book, Ima Nobody Becomes Somebody!

"Ima, I never knew a Nobody that was somebody! All you Nobodys will never amount to anything, just like your name." This made Ima feel sad. It was then and there that Ima decided that she was going to prove to that Billy Do-good that she would in fact amount to something and be somebody.

You know these issues. Dealing with differences, and dealing with the reactions of those angered by it, are tough issues for young children to face.

I encourage you and invite you to take the journey with Ima and her first grade classmates as they discover their own self worth, strengths, and weaknesses. You will find that this story does not tell children how to react to Ima's predicament. It does however show a positive way in which Ima deals with the situation.

This is Book One in the Ima Nobody Series - be sure to follow along with Ima and her friends as they discover themselves and learn important life lessons along the way. .
My thoughts:
I received this book from Bostick Communications for review purposes.  I requested this book because bullying is such a big issue with children.  Both as a teacher and as a parent I am very concerned about bullying.

Yesterday I read through the book on my own to see if I want to share it with my children.  I do think I will share it with them or give it to them to read on their own.  It put bullying into very simple and easy to see situations, unfortunately not all bullying is as easy to identify, but this is a start.  Ima has continual problems with Billy Do-good in her class and manages to overcome them and show how you can feel like a "Nobody" and through self confidence you can become a "Somebody".

The book is very simple, each character has a name that sounds just like who they are, and as an adult it felt a bit overly simple, but I think by taking out situations and names that could cause confusion it manages to focus all of its attention on bullying and Ima changing her own behavior so as not to be a victim but to be confident standing up for herself.

•Pub. Date: September 2009
•Publisher: AuthorHouse
•Format: Paperback , 88pp
•ISBN-13: 9781449001575
•ISBN: 1449001572

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Creed's Honor (Colorado Creeds Series) by Linda Lael Miller

Conner Creed knows exactly who he is: a hardworking rancher carrying on his uncle's legacy in Lonesome Bend, Colorado. Maybe a small-town cowboy's life isn't his dream, but he owes the man who took him in as a kid. Until the identical twin brother he's been estranged from for years reenters his life.

Conner struggles with identity issues as he gets to know his wilder brother. And then he meets Tricia McCall, a beautiful woman who knows a thing or two about living someone else's dreams. Together, they just might find their own dreams right here in Lonesome Bend….

My thoughts:
This is the second book in the series that was released this spring.  Conner was introduced in the last book when his cousin Stephen bought a ranch in Stone Creek.  Conner came to the rodeo, got into a fight with his twin brother Brody, and left.  Now we get to find out who Conner is and what has made him this way.

Something happened with Conner and Brody and a girl named Jolene that caused Brody to leave town for ten years and Conner to take over the running of the family ranch on his own.  Conner is responsible and hardworking and someone who can be counted on, but he still feels a lot of pain from his brother's betrayal and misses the bond they used to have as brothers and as twins.

Tricia is in in town to sell her the property left to her by her father when he passed away.  The drive-in movie theater has long been closed and the RV Park and Campground has seen better days.  She enjoys living in the apartment above her great-grandmothers house, but she misses her best friend and her dog who recently passed away.  Enter a stray dog and her god daughter who comes to spend a few weeks, add in a cowboy, a chili cook off, a rummage sale and a trail ride.  Tricia comes out of her shy shell and starts to question the long distance relationship she has been half-heartedly participating in.

Tricia and Conner have all the requisite sparks when they meet, but they do seem to connect on a deeper than physical level and are both likeable, believable and flawed individuals.  I am looking forward to diving into the last and most recent book to find out all about Brody!  His mystery and where he has been for the past ten years was just hinted at in this one.

•Pub. Date: May 2011
•Publisher: Harlequin
•Format: Mass Market Paperback , 384pp
•Series: Colorado Creeds Series
•ISBN-13: 9780373775804
•ISBN: 0373775806

Separation: Supporting Children in their Preschool Transitions by Kathe Jervis and Barbara K. Polland


Updated in 2007, this favorite book offers explanations, practical tips, and encouragement for teachers and families of preschool children facing the excitement—and stress—of separation. Discusses ambivalence about separation and attachment, the comfort of routines, understanding the child perspective, supporting cultural and linguistic diversity, and more. With accessible language and engaging vignettes set both at home and in the classroom, this little book is just right for distributing to a program's teachers and parents.

My thoughts:
This year will be my second year of teaching preschool.  One of the many issues that I dealt with last year was the issue of students separating from parents to come to school.  Most of the students did this with very few issues.  When they talked about missing their mom or dad we could simply remind them that the parent would be back soon and we had so much fun stuff to do, they would get distracted by our current activity and before they knew it pick-up time had arrived.  For some students though this was a lot harder.  Because of that this seemed like a good book to read to get ready for the school year, to get some suggestions and ideas on how to deal with this more effectively this year.  Separation is something we all go through on a regular basis throughout life, and to teach children how to do so early on will help them for their whole lives.  Hopefully some of these tips will help ease the way for the students who have problems saying good-bye to mom or dad even for a little while.

•Pub. Date: November 2007
•Publisher: National Association for the Education of Young Children
•Format: Paperback , 83pp
•ISBN-13: 9781928896449
•ISBN: 1928896448

2011 Audio Book Challenge from Teresa at Tereas's Reading Corner

I am late to jump into this challenge, but it so fits into what I already do.  It is hosted by Teresa at Teresa's Reading Corner.  I stumbled upon it by reading Shelia's challenges over at Book Journey.  The levels of participation in the challenge are from Teresa are:

Curious: 3 Audio Books

Fascinated: 6 Audio Books

Addicted: 12 Audio Books

Obsessed: 20 Audio Books

Choose your level of participation and add your name.

If you've never tried audio books I highly recommend them.  They can make being stuck in traffic fun rather than frustrating!

My books so far:
1. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
2.  Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary
3.  The Hobbit or There and Back Again by J.R.R. Tolkein
4.  Sunset of the Sabertooth by Mary Pope Osborn
5.  Midnight on the Moon by Mary Pope Osborn
6.  Afternoon on the Amazon by Mary Pope Osborne
7.  Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
8.  Night of the Ninjas by Mary Pope Osborne
9.  Pirates Past Noon by Mary Pope Osborne
10.  Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne
11.  Knight at Dawn by Mary Pope Osborne
12.  Dinosaurs before Daybreak by Mary Pope Osborne
13.  The Nixie's Song  Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
14.  The Wrath of MulgarathTony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
15.  The Ironwood Tree  Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
16.  Lucinda's Secret  Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
17.  The Seeing StoneTony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black
18. The Spiderwick Chronicles Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black  
19.  High Tide in Hawaii by Mary Pope Osborne
20.  Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride By Kate DiCamillo
21.  Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo
22.  Alice in Wonderland
23.  Diary of a Wimpy Kid
24.  Frindle by Andrew Clements
25.  Gregor and the Prophesy of Bane by Suzanne Collins
26.  Gregor the Overlander  by Suzanne Collins
27. Gregor and the Code of Claw by Suzanne Collins
28.  Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods by Suzanne Collins
29.  Puddle Jumpers by Mark Jean
30.  Gregor and the Marks of Secret by Suzanne Collins
31.  How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
32.  The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

So I guess I am already in the Obsessed category.  Most of mine our children's audio so I can listen when my children are in the car.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Amish Values for Your Family: What We Can Learn from the Simple Life by Suzanne Woods Fisher Blog Tour Review and Contest Posting

About the book:
It offers loving ways to bring your fractured home back to life-Amish style. Read it and apply generously! It's a beautiful book-funny, charming, soulful, and beautiful."

-Mary-Ann Kirkby, author of I Am Hutterite

For readers who long for strong families that know how to truly enjoy life together, there is much to learn from the Amish. Values like community, forgiveness, simple living, obedience, and more can be your family legacy--without selling your car, changing your wardrobe, or moving out to farm country.

In Amish Values for Your Family, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher shows how you can adopt the wisdom of the Amish when it comes to family matters. In this inspiring and practical book readers will find charming true stories interlaced with solid, biblical advice about parenting, marriage, and all aspects of family life. As readers get an intimate glimpse into the everyday lives of real Amish families, they will learn to prioritize what's truly important, simplify decision-making, slow down as a family, safeguard time together, and let go when the time comes.

My thoughts:
I am participating in this blog tour as part of Litfuse Blog tours.  At the end of this post is a link to the other bloggers who are also posting this month about this special book.  I really enjoyed Suzanne Woods Fishers fiction book, The Choice,  that came out this spring and I was excited to be selected to take part in this tour as well.

Whiel I cannot imagine myself or my family actually becoming Amish, I do at times feel a bit of jealousy over how teh so called simple life that Amish families live seems so much more peaceful and family oriented than a lot of us "English" folks are experiencing.  I know no one has a magic answer for making life work, but I recall one of the things I took away from the fiction book written by Woods was to value whatever it is you are putting your time and effort into right now and stop rushing for the future.  I couldn't wait to see soem of the ideas shared in this book about.  The book is broken down into four section and each one contains at least nine or ten chapters each giving one idea.  There is a lot here and, while it seems simple, each one resonates with its own idea.

I focused on the section with ideas for children as I feel that is the area I would like to find ways to improve for my whole family.  Our daily life with four children seems to involve a lot of disagreements between children, as well as whining and an unwillingness to pitch in and do each persons share.  When you read or hear about Amish families, which are often much larger than my own, they seem to have a lot less of these problems and I wondered why.  So in reading through the section on children I took some notes for some ideas to implemetn in my own home.

One idea is to teach children how to do somethign from beginning to end.  In the book a father teaches his son to make a rabbit hutch even though it would be easier to just buy one.  He teaches him how to use the tools, plan the progect and value his own work.  A lot of times it seems easier to just do things myself and I am missing out on oppertunities when my children want to help but I just want to get on to the next thing, I need to take the time to teach them now while they still want to learn and help rather than rushing, so that they can take pride in being able to contribute to our family in their own way. 

Another suggestion that came up partially in two of the chapters was the joy of simple vacations wtih family as a time to bond and spend time together and nto always a way to do soemting big and splashy.  Think about what you want your childrne to reemember in the future about those trips.  My family always went to the beach for at least a few days and I cherish those memories of playing in the sand and surf and walking on the boardwalk.  Going on some simple rides and browsing in shops.  My husband and I now take our children to the same beach for a week each summer to do the same things and we look forward to it all summer.  Our trip is almost here and we are all itching to go.  Yes I would love to take them to Disney World sometime or a lot of other destinations, but at the beach we get to spend a lot of time together without having to rush around seeing things or getting to places.  We wake, go to the beach, coem back for lunch and rest and go to the boardwalk.  Simple, yet fun and enjoyable.

I am going to have to take some time with this book and see what ideas resonate with me and might help me to make our lives more simple, but more rewarding at the same time.

About Suzanne:
Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. She has many, many Plain relatives living in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and travels back to Pennsylvania, as well as to Ohio, a couple of times each year for research.

Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world. In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don't have to "go Amish" to incorporate many of their principles--simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily-- into your life.

When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth.

Suzanne can be found on-line at:

Link to buy the book:

Suzanne Woods Fisher is thrilled to announce the release of Amish Values for Your Family, her latest non-fiction release. "It offers loving ways to bring your fractured home back to life-Amish style. Read it and apply generously! It’s a beautiful book-funny, charming, soulful, and beautiful." -Mary Ann Kirkby

To celebrate the release of Amish Values for Your Family, Suzanne has teamed up her publisher Revell Books to giveaway a Kindle, and with Bill Coleman (the amazing photographer used on Suzanne’s book covers) to give away a signed Bill Coleman original.

One Grand Prize winner will receive an Amish Values Prize Package (valued at over $200) and includes:
* A brand new KINDLE
* A Signed Bill Coleman original
* Amish Values for Your Family (for KINDLE)

Click on one of the icons to enter. Winner will be announced on 9/2 at Suzanne’s blog. Be sure to stop by the blogs on Suzanne’s blog tour – many have copies of Amish Values for Your Family to give away.

Enter 8/15 - 8/31!

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Click on one of the icons to enter. Winner will be announced on 9/2 at Suzanne’s blog. Be sure to stop by the blogs on Suzanne’s blog tour – many have copies of Amish Values for Your Family to give away.

But, wait there's more! Suzanne is running a Bill Coleman caption contest during the month of August on her blog. Title one of Bill’s gorgeous photos for a chance to win a print from Bill’s Amish Photo site and/or a copy of Amish Values for Your Family.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo , Bagram Ibatoulline (Illustrator

Overview from Barnes and Nobel:
Once, in a house on Egypt Street, there lived a china rabbit named Edward Tulane. The rabbit was very pleased with himself, and for good reason: he was owned by a girl named Abilene, who adored him completely. And then, one day, he was lost. . . .

Kate DiCamillo takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the depths of the ocean to the net of a fisherman, from the bedside of an ailing child to the bustling streets of Memphis. Along the way, we are shown a miracle — that even a heart of the most breakable kind can learn to love, to lose, and to love again.

My thoughts:
I had never read this book before, but I am familiar with Kate DiCamillo, so I picked this up on audio last week.  Yesterday we finished listening to this story.  At first when Edward was described as a china rabbit I had this picture in my mind of a rabbit like a blue and white china tea pot, I don't know why, and that stuck with me for a while even though it totally didn't make sense.  I should have asked my children how they pictured him since the idea of a china doll is even more unusual for them than it should have been for me!

Edward belongs to a little girl who loves him, but he just takes her for granted and is more concerned with his own vanity than her feelings.  The night before going on a long sea voyage Ablene's grandmother tells a tale of a princess who was unable to feel love and how it became her downfall.  Edward brushes off this tale.  On the second day of the voyage two little boys end up throwing Edward overboard and he spends almost a year on the bottom of the ocean.  Then a fisherman finds him and he has a home again, until he ends up in the dump, then with a hobo, then as a scarecrow, with a sick and dying little girl and finally in a doll shop.  Each new situation brings the chance for Edward to grow and change and to learn a little something about love and loss. 

The idea of a toy having feelings is such a good way for children to explore emotions without too much stress.  At the beginning I was wondering if it would be like the Velveteen rabbit, if Edward would get to become a real rabbit, but I was very satisfied with how it was resolved and, while I saw what was coming at the end, my children were nicely surprised by the outcome. 

This was a really nice story to listen to on audio.  It was interesting enough to hold my children's attention and not too long that it felt like we were listening to the same thing forever.

•Pub. Date: February 2006
•Publisher: Listening Library, Inc.
•Format: Compact Disc
•Age Range: 9 to 12
•ISBN-13: 9780307245953
•ISBN: 0307245950

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Henry and Beezus by Beverly Cleary

Overview from Barnes and Noble:
Henry Huggins is saving up for the bicycle of his dreams, but his plans to earn money don't work out quite as planned. From selling bubble gum on the playground to helping out with his friend Scooter's paper route, everything Henry tries seems to lead to trouble. Luckily, Henry's neighborhood friend Beezus Quimby is ready to step in and lend a hand.

The laughs continue as Henry attempts to raise money to buy a bicycle. Aiding him, to his great surprise, is none other than a girl! Beezus is different from most girls Henry knows, and readers will come to recognize her special appeal.

My thoughts:
This was our latest audio book in the car and everyone, including me, enjoyed it.  It is the first time we've read a book about Beverly Cleary's Henry, we've read a number of books about Ramona so we've met Henry but this was our first one with him as the main character.  My children are always asking about ways to make money so it was funny to listen to each of Henry's attempts and what happens to foil each one. 

I liked the innocence of the time, how kids could go walking for blocks to go to a police bicycle auction by themselves and no one thought anything of it.  I don't know if times really were safer or if people thought they were safer, but even I can recall being able to walk to friends houses and ride my bike without adult supervision.  My children don't have anywhere near as much freedom now.  If it were just me I would say it was possible I was being overprotective, but it seems to be pretty universal.  They play outside all the time, but they stay in the backyard and the ones of their friends who are nearby and I sit outside with them or step inside the kitchen and watch from the window while I get something done.  I don't want to make them afraid, but even our bus driver won't allow the children off the bus if someone isn't there to pick them up whereas I used to walk home from school alone.  Time have changed, so it is nice to read about a time when we weren't as cautious or afraid.

Some of Henry's comments and thoughts about Beezus and being a girl rubbed me the wrong way sometimes, but then she almost always proved him wrong so maybe that wasn't such a big deal.  The narrator's voice for Ramona was very whiny and annoying, I am not sure if that was on purpose or just the voice he was using, but it made her a not very appealing character.  Since we really liked Ramona in the other books we read I was disappointed by that.  All in all though, this was very enjoyable to listen to and even my two year old seemed to get it.

•Pub. Date: March 1990
•Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
•Format: Paperback , 208pp
•Age Range: 6 to 9
•Series: Henry Huggins Series
•ISBN-13: 9780380709144
•ISBN: 0380709147

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Creed in Stone Creek (Colorado Creeds Series) by Linda Lael Miller

When single attorney Steven Creed becomes guardian of an orphaned five-year-old boy, he trades his big-city law firm for a ranch near his McKettrick kin in the close-knit community of Stone Creek, Arizona. Taking care of little Matt and fixing up his run-down ranch house with its old barn loosens something tightly wound inside him. But when Steven takes on the pro bono defense of a local teen, he meets his match in the opposing counsel—beautiful, by-the-book county prosecutor Melissa O'Ballivan. It'll take one grieving little boy, a sweet adopted dog and a woman who never expected to win any man's heart to make this Creed in Stone Creek know he's truly found home. .

My thoughts:
I enjoy settling into Linda Lael Miller's series.  Spending sometime with cowboys and ranchers and small towns is relaxing and and welcome break.  I recall Melissa O'Ballivan from the other Stone Creek books where her brother and two sisters both found their respective spouses.  I always had the feeling that Melissa might leave town, that things were just a little too small and too safe for her.

Steven Creed added the elements missing from Stone Creek for Melissa.  Seeing them get to know each other and get over the emotional baggage they both had from past relationships it felt like we were really seeing them grow as people.

While I enjoyed the book there were a number of inconsistencies and mistakes in the time line and story.  One was pretty minor, the couple has dinner together on Saturday night and then on Monday everyone, including the couple themselves, is talking about how they had dinner last night.  For some reason this bugged me, I even flipped back to make sure I hadn't made the mistake, but it clearly says Saturday is the day of the dinner.  Next, Stephen serves as an advisor or counsel to two different boys in town.  Later when one of them pops up again Miller says how Stephen doesn't know Nathan as he has never met him before, but he did at the jail.  Once again I flipped back thinking maybe I had it wrong.  The mix-up with the day of the dinner doesn't really get anything out of whack, but not knowing a character that he agreed to advise in person on a legal matter got to me. 

That said, I really did enjoy t he book and stayed up too late last night to finish it.  I waited to read this first book in the Colorado Creeds series until I had the next two so I could read them back to back, or as close to back to back as I can with other review books and library books waiting for my attention!

•Pub. Date: February 2011
•Publisher: Harlequin
•Format: Mass Market Paperback , 384pp
•Series: Colorado Creeds Series
•ISBN-13: 9780373775552
•ISBN: 0373775555

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Wonder Woman Retroactive 1980s

When Wonder Woman discovers that someone has stolen her identity and is using her name to commit acts of evil, she’ll have no choice but to confront her in battle. But can she stop this criminal look-a-like before her name is completely slandered?

DC RETROACTIVE: WONDER WOMAN – THE ’80s is written by Roy Thomas and features art by Rich Buckler, Tim Smith, Carlos Rodriguez, Joe Rubinstein, Jack Purcell and Norman Lee. And don’t miss a classic ‘80s Wonder Woman story also written by Roy Thomas with accompanying art by the legendary Gene Colan. This special one-shot goes on sale August 3.

Product Details
Cover by Rich Buckler
Publisher DC Comics
Cover Price :$4.99
Release Date Wed, August 3rd, 2011

My thoughts:
I think the first Wonder Woman I ever read was in the 1980s.  I saw a cover for one of the two I recall getting for a birthday present on another blog today.  Neither of them were part of this retroactive set, but the art and story lines were similar.  I like that two whole story lines were told in this one shot book.  Rather than having to grab another comic to continue with the story, it is all there and with very few advertisements.  Not that all ads are bad, but sometimes they seem a bit distracting. 

Both stories have to do with the Silver Swan who, I am a bit embarrassed to say, I had never heard of before,  same for Doctor Psycho.  I don't know if these characters have appeared in a lot of other comics, but they were new to me.  I think the two story lines should have been reversed in the book because to me they would have made more sense the other way around.  Maybe there is a reason for the order or perhaps it is just because the cover art goes with the first story, I'm really not sure.

This is the way I remember Wonder Woman from the very brief period of time that I read her.  I don't dislike the new series at all so far (I haven't gotten around to finishing all the ones I have because I either misplaced or never got one of the issues) I like the new gritty elements and more contemporary feel, but these are a more comfortable fit.  She is similar to how she appeared on the TV series, fighting crime while hiding behind her other identity and flying around in her invisible plane.  It was a very nice way to revisit the time and made me want to look through the box of comics I have to see how many I have from the 1980s. 

Too Blessed to Be Stressed by Debra Coty -Review

About the book:
Do your to do lists have footnotes? Has your fam suggested a rabies shot because your bite has surpassed Rover’s?

Maybe it’s time for a healthy dose of truth gift-wrapped in humor. With her own offbeat brand of wit and near-wisdom, inspirational humorist Debora Coty addresses the heart-needs of desperate women drowning in the churning everyday stress-pool of busyness.

In Too Blessed to Be Stressed, you’ll find simple, practical steps for attaining the peace that you crave as you struggle with the stresses of finances, health, career, relationships, self-image and family. You’ll discover healing, refreshment, and revitalization for your own spirit, body and mind through heart-changing real life stories, biblically based insights, and short chapters for on-the-run convenience.

My thoughts:
I enjoyed reading Too Blessed to Be Stressed and I think I will be looking back at some of the chapters and questions in the future.  As I was reading this for a Litfuse Blog tour I felt like I needed to read it in its entirety to be able to give a review I would be pleased with.  I liked how it was broken down into four sections focusing on different areas we could all use help.  The book is broken down into time management, developing a sense of humor, relationships and faith.  Within each of those the topics are broken down into ten manageable chunks.  Each of the idea is sprinkled with humor and faith.  Funny quotes are interspersed throughout and each smaller section is ended with three reflection questions that go back to faith.

A lot of how we view life come from our own attitudes and the way we shape our reality.  If we are always bemoaning how hard things are and how they will never be better, then that is what we get, but if you turn the same situation around and look at it from a different perspective attitude can be changed and we can move forewords.  Children are a blessing from God, but they also try our patience in new and varied ways on a daily, hourly or even more often basis.  It is so hard to keep in perspective that they will only be little once.  One of the women Cory uses as an example is a mother of 11, with seven currently still living at home while the others have grown up and now reside on their own.  It takes so much more management to coordinate more people.  There are times when I admit that I envy friends who have only one or two children.  It is summer and I am blessed to be home with all four of my children until they return to school and I return to work in the fall, but when I have a chance to go somewhere with just one of two of them it is like a vacation.  Meanwhile I hear people with one or two complaining about how hard it is to go places and do things.  It is all perspective.  I'm sure the mom of eleven would think my four were a walk in the part compared to her outings with seven.

A quote that really stuck home with me was, "I'm not saying we should wallow in pigsties, but when we are shackled by perfectionism and controlled by pride, we become slaves to our homes.  They own us instead of us owning them.  Not good.  Not wise.  Not pleasing to God."  I struggle so much to keep my house in order, think four small kids and a lack of the organization gene, and it can feel like chaos.  It is hard to accept less than perfection, but if we waste too much time trying to attain it we are missing out on the purpose of life.

There are so many nuggets of wisdom in this book that I really don't feel like I am doing it justice.  My plan is to put this on my nightstand and go back to the beginning and do one section at a time and really reflect and try to put some of it to work in my own life.  I can't remember where I read this phrase, I think in a book I reviewed somewhere in the past, but each day one of my aims is to start with an attitude of gratitude and look for why God put a certain situation there.  Maybe the disagreeable person is to teach you patience, or the four yer old who is dragging his feet is to show me to slow down and stop rushing and enjoy each minute of the day, if there is a purpose to the traffic jam and the rainbow, the opportunity and the disappointment, then we can continue to grow and change and find our faith.

Litfuse and Debora Coty are holding some giveaways that are listed in the post right after this one.

Too Blessed to be Stressed by Debora Coty

About the book:
Do your to do lists have footnotes? Has your fam suggested a rabies shot because your bite has surpassed Rover’s?

Maybe it’s time for a healthy dose of truth gift-wrapped in humor. With her own offbeat brand of wit and near-wisdom, inspirational humorist Debora Coty addresses the heart-needs of desperate women drowning in the churning everyday stress-pool of busyness.

To celebrate the release of her latest laugh-out-loud book, Too Blessed to Be Stressed, Debora Coty is hosting the Too Blessed to Be Stressed KINDLE Giveaway!

Too Blessed to be Stressed is a fun-filled read overflowing with insights and practical tips. Perfectly delicious for living happily ever after! 

-Rhonda Rhea, best-selling author of Whatsoever Things Are Lovely

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

Debora has created a “Too Blessed” prize package worth over $150! One grand prize winner will receive:

* A brand new Latest Generation KINDLE with Wi-Fi and Pearl Screen

* Too Blessed to Be Stressed by Debora Coty (for KINDLE)

To enter just click one of the icons below. Hurry! The giveaway ends August 25th. Winner will be announced on the evening of the 18th during Debora's De-Stress Facebook Party! Debora will be hosting a "life-preserver" chat (it’s okay if you haven’t read the book – who knows, you might WIN a copy!), testing trivia skills, swapping funny stories, handing out some decom-stress tips, and giving away tons of great stuff! (Chocolate, books, and more!) Hope to see you there. Bring your friends and join the fun on August 25th at 5:00 PM PST (6 PM MDT, 7 PM CDT, & 8 PM EDT).

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Also - be sure to check out Debora's series of Stress-Buster videos at her website: She’s also hosting a photo caption contest on her blog for a chance to win a copy of Too Blessed to Be Stressed.

In Too Blessed to Be Stressed, you’ll find simple, practical steps for attaining the peace that you crave as you struggle with the stresses of finances, health, career, relationships, self-image and family. You’ll discover healing, refreshment, and revitalization for your own spirit, body and mind through heart-changing real life stories, biblically based insights, and short chapters for on-the-run convenience.

About Josh and Bob:

Debora M. Coty is a humorist, columnist, speaker, writing workshop instructor and award-winning author of over 100 internationally published articles and ten inspirational books. She has also contributed short stories and devotionals to numerous anthologies. Debora's passion is sharing her offbeat blend of humor and hope, wit and near-wisdom with women of all ages. As a piano teacher for twenty years, she acquired the skill of auditory long-suffering and has helped countless people as an occupational therapist specializing in orthopedics for over three decades. Mother of two grown children, Debora currently lives and loves in central Florida with her husband and desperately wicked pooch, Fenway.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Giveaway: The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe by Sandi Gelles-Cole

I have a copy of this book as an ARC that has been on my shelf for a while.  I thought about donating it at the library but something keeps stopping me.  It has been a very long time since I did any kind of giveaway so I decided to have one for this book.  The Memoir of Marilyn Monroe is a book I reviewed back in May for Pump Up Your Books Blog Tours.  I saw recently that they are doing another tour and thought there might be reader interest in the book again.  If you are interested in being entered in the giveaway please:

1.  Become a follower.
2.  Have a US address
3.  Leave a comment with an email address
4.  In your comment share your thoughts on Marilyn Monroe and her place in history.

I am excited to try a giveaway again.  The contest will go until Sunday, August 14.

Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain by Portia de Rossi

Overview from Barnes and Nobel:
“I didn’t decide to become anorexic. It snuck up on me disguised as a healthy diet, a professional attitude. Being as thin as possible was a way to make the job of being an actress easier . . .”

Portia de Rossi weighed only 82 pounds when she collapsed on the set of the Hollywood film in which she was playing her first leading role. This should have been the culmination of all her years of hard work—first as a child model in Australia, then as a cast member of one of the hottest shows on American television. On the outside she was thin and blond, glamorous and successful. On the inside, she was literally dying.

In this searing, unflinchingly honest book, Portia de Rossi captures the complex emotional truth of what it is like when food, weight, and body image take priority over every other human impulse or action. She recounts the elaborate rituals around eating that came to dominate hours of every day, from keeping her daily calorie intake below 300 to eating precisely measured amounts of food out of specific bowls and only with certain utensils. When this wasn’t enough, she resorted to purging and compulsive physical exercise, driving her body and spirit to the breaking point.

Even as she rose to fame as a cast member of the hit television shows Ally McBeal and Arrested Development, Portia alternately starved herself and binged, all the while terrified that the truth of her sexuality would be exposed in the tabloids. She reveals the heartache and fear that accompany a life lived in the closet, a sense of isolation that was only magnified by her unrelenting desire to be ever thinner. With the storytelling skills of a great novelist and the eye for detail of a poet, Portia makes transparent as never before the behaviors and emotions of someone living with an eating disorder.

From her lowest point, Portia began the painful climb back to a life of health and honesty, falling in love with and eventually marrying Ellen DeGeneres, and emerging as an outspoken and articulate advocate for gay rights and women’s health issues.

In this remarkable and beautifully written work, Portia shines a bright light on a dark subject. A crucial book for all those who might sometimes feel at war with themselves or their bodies, Unbearable Lightness is a story that inspires hope and nourishes the spirit.

My thoughts:
Because celebrities are in the spotlight and act confident in public, the rest of society seems to buy into the act and feel like insecurity belongs to those who haven't attained fame and money, but the thing is we are all insecure about something.  For a lot of us it is how we look and who we really are.  If people really knew us would they still like or love us?  If every single bite of food isn't calorie counted will we weigh a pound more tomorrow?  What exactly is a healthy relationship with food?
Portia became a model as a child after her father died in her quest to find validation that she was pretty, but found that in modeling she was considered a bit too heavy so she started a cycle of binging and purging to self mediate with food and then throw it up before it could be used by her body.  At a weight group meeting when she was fifteen each of the women were asked to tell some part of their body that they liked and she, as the smallest and youngest one in the group, couldn't come up with anything.  She spent years feeling that she didn't deserve to be where she was or that she wasn't getting more lines because she was too heavy.  After seeing a nutritionist she modified the eating plan and eventually ended up eating 300 calories or less a day and working out for hours a day.
Most of us never get to this extreme, but it is easy to let thoughts of food, what to eat and what not to eat, how many calories something has and how long it will take to burn them off, become a big part of our day.  For some reason we seem to have unlearned knowing when our bodies are full or maybe fast easy food is just too prevalent.  Maybe it is fast food or being more sedentary, but when I look around I see a lot more people who are at unhealthy weights.  I know in the past year I gained weight from a combination of factors.  It seems so much easier to gain than to lose.
I could feel Portia's pain in her writing.  When her joints started to hurt just from moving to when she passed out on the set, she just couldn't shut down her internal critic.  There is someone in my life who I feel has lost too much weight, who exercises to an extreme and I have mentioned it too her but not in a confrontational way.  I was hoping that through reading this I might find out how Portia came to see that she needed help, but she only recognized she needed help after she passed out and was treated by a doctor who told her the results to the test that were done that showed that she was going to die if she kept going like she was.  When Portia's mother and brother both told her she was too thin and cried that they were afraid she was going to die, she just told them what she thought they wanted to hear but didn't follow through on it.  I'm not sure what I am going to do because with issues like this it is hard to change someone else's mind and if I am too confrontational it may be more detrimental. 
•Pub. Date: November 2010
•Publisher: Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group
•Format: Hardcover , 308pp
•ISBN-13: 9781451328776
•ISBN: 145132877X

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Even today, Gertrude Chandler Warner's classic Depression-era story of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden -- four hungry children who transform an abandoned boxcar into a home -- fascinates us because, regardless of age, we all long to be on our own. This 60th Anniversary Edition of Warner's classic sports a bright new cover and many new features but retains L. Kate Deal's original silhouettes.

My thoughts:
This was one of my favorite books when I was in elementary school.  My mom found this 60th anniversary copy at a sale somewhere and bought it for me to read with my own children.  Last night we finished reading it together, but I have a feeling they may read it to themselves at some point as well.  It really is a book that holds up well, I had no idea when I read it years ago long ago it was written.  I can't recall if I read any of the other books in the series or just the first one, but I may check them out with my children.

Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny work together to create a place to live, have enough food and complete chores without having an adult caretaker.  Their parents have died and they believe that their grandfather is a grumpy man that they don't want to live with.  They find an abandoned boxcar and transform it into a house, find dishes and other useful items at the dump, create a swimming hole by damming a portion of a creek, and Henry finds a doctor to do odd jobs for for money.  The children all pitch in and work together and there is an absence of fighting.  Would children who were working together to survive really not fight or is that just how the author wrote the book.

I remember how this book captured my imagination and made me want to be one of the Boxcar children.  It was a nice daydream.  I recall writing my own story about the children.  I have no idea what ever happened to that story, my guess would be that it was thrown away or lost, but who knows, it could still be packed away in a box somewhere!  Gertrude Chandler Warner worked as a first and third grade teacher for years and even worked with publishers to develop book series that were able to hook reluctant readers and were simple enough to present few problems.  If you've never read it before I definitely recommend it as a step back to a simpler time.

Product Details
Library Binding: 163 pages
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company; 60 Anv edition (September 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0807508489
ISBN-13: 978-0807508480

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Movie Review

One of our local movie theaters does a free movie program for kids in the summer.  For eight weeks on Tuesdays and Wednesdays they show an older kids movie.  Each summer we go to at least one, sometimes more depending on what our schedules are like.  This week the movie was The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  I saw this movie when it came out last year with my two older children.  It was the first 3D movie I paid to see with them, we saw Tangled with free passes prior to that.

Last year in the spring I listened to all seven of the Narnia books on audio with my children.  They were really excited to see the movie then since we had read the book.  It was fun to see it on the big screen again.  My biggest complaint about the movie is that Prince Caspian, now King Caspian, is still young and goes on the voyage with Lucy, Edmond and Eustice.  In the book Caspian is an old man.  My complaint is the break with the story not the actor, I enjoyed having Ben Barnes in the movie.

I think that the movie did a good job with the special effects and the characters.  Now that so much time has passed since I read the book any discrepancies have faded from my memory.  That actually allowed me to enjoy the story more.  It wasn't quite right for my younger two kids, but for elementary age children I think it is fine.  The voyage is done well as is the growth and change the characters undergo during the course of the movie.

I wonder if they plan on making any of the other books into movies.  It seemed like the end of this one was setting it up for the possibility as Eustice's mother calls upstairs that Jill Pole is there to visit since they are the two that go together on the next adventure.