The Last Panther by Todd Mitchell – Book Review & Author Interview

A few weeks ago I read The Last Panther by Todd Mitchell. I was lucky to also  get an interview with the author to share with everyone. You can see my review of the book and the author interview below. I do hope you enjoy!

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The Last Panther

by Todd Mitchell

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The Last Panther

Blurb: For fans of “The One and Only Ivan” and “Hoot, ” this is the uplifting story of a girl who discovers a family of panthers that were thought to be extinct, and her journey to save the species.

Eleven-year-old Kiri has a secret: wild things call to her. More than anyone else, she’s always had a special connection to animals.

But when Kiri has an encounter with the last known Florida panther, her life is quickly turned on end. Caught between her conservationist father, who wants to send the panther to a zoo, and the village poachers, who want to sell it to feed their families, Kiri must embark on a journey that will take her deep into the wilderness.

There has to be some way to save the panther, and for her da and the villagers to understand each other. If Kiri can’t figure out what it is, she’ll lose far more than the panthers she’ll lose the only home she s ever known, and the only family she has left.

My Review:

Kiri lives with her father, who is a conservationist, in the ghost forest near a dangerous swamp. He’s considered a waller (city dweller) and not far from their home are the fugees, the original habitants of the forest. Wallers are considered the wealthy ones and have what they need to survive while tending to preserve the environment and the species that are still living, while fugees consistently need to search for food so they won’t die of starvation or sickness. Fugees will do whatever it takes to feed their community and that includes killing whatever they can catch, including animals that are endangered, if need be. They don’t have much of a choice as the damaged ecosystem they live in has left them with little resources.

Kiri’s mother, who has previously passed away, was once a fugee and Kiri is now caught between two worlds having a waller for a father. The fugees detest the wallers and they simply don’t agree on anything. For this reason, Kiri doesn’t want to be considered a waller and would rather keep the peace between both groups. She doesn’t necessarily agree that the fugees should be hunting these ‘once-were’ creatures, but she understands them concurrently. When Kiri surprisingly discovers a panther she’s never seen before–a beautiful creature she connects with and knows she must protect–not only does she need to protect the panther, but she has to find a way to keep her cubs safe too. From this point, Kiri goes into survivor mode and does all that she can to stop the hunters and trappers from killing the panther, even it means she must go against her father’s wishes. What will Kiri do? She’s a courageous and spirited young girl, always standing up for what she believes in, but will she alone be enough to protect the last panther and its cubs?

After seeing the beautiful cover and reading the blurb, I took a chance and bought a copy for our home library. I’m always in search of stories that I can read with my children, especially those I can enjoy myself. I particularly relished the sweet parts in the story from Kiri’s companionship with Snowflake, her pet rat, to her friendship with Paulo. I found it compelling and full of action and adventure. The mystical world and rich plot that Todd Mitchell has created draws you in and makes you feel like you’re part of Kiri’s journey. It’s un-predictable and written well. I also appreciated that the story provokes questions about climate change and brings attention to the importance of caring for our environment now, as animals are experiencing high levels of endangerment as our world is ever-changing.

This is one I’m pleased to have for my family and I’m overjoyed that it turned out to be such an awesome read. This is a perfect middle-grade read for classrooms and libraries, but essentially, it’s great for all ages. I honestly can’t wait to see what other books Todd Mitchell writes in the future.

My rating: 5*****

Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (August 22, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399555587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399555589

Continue reading “The Last Panther by Todd Mitchell – Book Review & Author Interview”

Shabby Sunday: The Call of the Wild Illustrated Classics by Jack London (Mitsu Yamamoto) 1989

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Shabby Sunday

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

The Call of the Wild (Great Illustrated Classics)

by Mitsu Yamamoto (Adapter)Jack LondonPablo Marcos Studio(Illustrator)
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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: The Call of the Wild Illustrated Classics by Jack London (Mitsu Yamamoto) 1989”

A Bear’s Life by Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read – Children’s Book Review – #NGEW2018

A Bear’s Life

by Ian McAllister (Photographs)Nicholas Read (Contributor)
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Blurb: Black bears, grizzly bears, and spirit bears all make their home in the Great Bear Rainforest. A Bear’s Life uses Ian McAllister’s stunning photographs to follow these beautiful animals through a year in the British Columbia wilderness–catching fish, eating berries, climbing trees and taking long naps.

 

My Review:

A Bear’s Life had my children and me captivated from the very first pages. The book is an adventure from start to finish, containing photographs from the Great Bear Rainforest including black bears, grizzlies, spirit bears, wolves, and other wildlife.

This is a simple read for elementary students and easy enough for three to four year olds to understand when reading aloud. Along with each photograph, facts are shared and readers will learn what the bears eat, how they socialize, what other animals live there, how they hibernate, and much more beginning with spring and following through to winter again. Our most favorite parts in the book included facts about spirit bears (black bears with cream-colored fur) and how special they are with roughly a 1 to 10 ratio compared with black bears.

I appreciated that even the location of the rainforest was shared in the beginning of the book so young ones can get an idea where it is on the map. I think the map would’ve been better located on an actual page versus the front inside cover because it’s easy to miss.

Overall, we loved A Bear’s Life and can’t wait to read other books in the My Great Bear Rainforest series.

5*****

Continue reading “A Bear’s Life by Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read – Children’s Book Review – #NGEW2018”

Shabby Sunday: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr – 1987

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Shabby Sunday

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

Owl Moon 

by Jane YolenJohn Schoenherr (Illustrator) 

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Blurb: Late one winter night a little girl and her father go owling. The trees stand still as statues and the world is silent as a dream. Whoo-whoo-whoo, the father calls to the mysterious nighttime bird.

But there is no answer.

Wordlessly the two companions walk along, for when you go owling you don’t need words. You don’t need anything but hope. Sometimes there isn’t an owl, but sometimes there is.

Distinguished author Jane Yolen has created a gentle, poetic story that lovingly depicts the special companionship of a young child and her father as well as humankind’s close relationship to the natural world. Wonderfully complemented by award-winning John Schoenherr’s soft, exquisite watercolor illustrations, this is a verbal and visual treasure, perfect for reading aloud and sharing at bedtime.

My Thoughts:

I chose this book because it’s one of my personal favorites from when I was a child and now its cherished by my children as well.

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Owl Moon is a striking story that takes you on a journey through the winter woods in search of owls. The little child has been waiting to go owling with Pa for a very long time. The story rather reads like poetry.

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Our feet crunched over the crisp snow and little gray footprints followed us. Pa made a long shadow, but mine was short and round. I had to run after him every now and then to keep up, and my short, round, shadow bumped after me.”

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John Schoenherr’s illustrated imagery paints the perfect winter impression and this is a ideal book for bedtime that highlights the companionship between parent and child.

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Our copy is an old Scholastic paperback edition from 1988. It’s in fairly good shape with clean pages.

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This is surely one we’ll keep…

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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr – 1987”

The Super Bowl: Chasing Football Mortality by Matt Doeden – Book Review – #NGEW2018

The Super Bowl: Chasing Football Immortality

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Blurb: The Super Bowl is the most popular US sporting event. This book features the greatest plays and most incredible moments, as well as the pomp and spectacle associated with the biggest game of the year.

My Thoughts:

It’s that time again. The Super Bowl is rolling in soon and will mark the end of the football season. It’s one of my favorite times of the year, but it’s also bittersweet as the season comes to a close.

When I first saw this book, I requested it right away because I wanted to share it with my children. They have an interest and I thought it would be a good book for them to learn more about football. I really liked the cover when I first saw it and I was pleasantly surprised with the content once we got into it. I learned many new facts about some of my favorite teams like the Chicago Bears, and the New England Patriots.

The book begins with how football got its start and continues on to explain the NFL, AFL, and how they formed–including the merge of the two. Children will learn about how the Super Bowl was born and even how it got its name. We particularly enjoyed the pages that highlighted special and memorable events like Super Bowl LI where the Patriots had the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. There’s a ton of history here and many historical photographs to enjoy.

I think this is a wonderful book for children on up to adults who enjoy football. It may be a little overwhelming for younger kids due to all the facts, history, and reading level, so it’s probably best for ages 10 and up as it’s listed. Overall, we found it interesting, informative, and entertaining. This is definitely one for any football fan to have on the shelf.

5*****

Find this on Goodreads and Amazon.

  • Age Range: 10 – 18 years
  • Grade Level: 4 – 12
  • Series: Spectacular Sports
  • Library Binding: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Millbrook Press (August 1, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1512427543
  • ISBN-13: 978-1512427547

Continue reading “The Super Bowl: Chasing Football Mortality by Matt Doeden – Book Review – #NGEW2018”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Last Panther by Todd Mitchell – Raw Cookies & Homemade Almond Milk

Hello everyone! How’s your week going? Are you reading anything good? I’m back today with a book I’ve started this week and a recipe I’ve been wanting to share since last year! Hope you enjoy 🙂

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I decided yesterday that I wanted to have raw cookies for breakfast this morning. It’s been some time since I made these because my dehydrator was in the process of being fixed. I have a love hate relationship with my Sedona dehydrator because it functions very well, but it’s required repair three times since I got it five years ago! When I say fixed, I mean they send me the part and I fix it, haha. So, my warranty is up now and I’m hoping that I’ll at least get another good year out of it.

This particular raw cookie is my own creation. I’ve made so many different recipes and finally just decided to make them the way I want, with the ingredients I enjoy. Here’s what I did.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups Almonds
  • 5 Dates (Pitted)
  • 2 TB Raw Honey
  • Half cup soaked raisins (soaked overnight in water – save the water)
  • 2 TB Coconut Oil
  • Half tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • Cacao nibs (roughly 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • Chopped dark chocolate (roughly 1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

The first thing you do is put your almonds into a processor and give a few pulses until you get a course meal.

Now add in your coconut oil, honey, a few tablespoons of your raisin water, and the dates. Blend this up until it gets nice and sticky.

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Dump this into a bowl and add in everything else until well blended. I use a microplane to grind up fresh nutmeg. Also, Bob’s Red Mill has a nice shredded coconut that doesn’t contain sulfites.

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – The Last Panther by Todd Mitchell – Raw Cookies & Homemade Almond Milk”

One For Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn: Book Review #NGEW2018 #3

One for Sorrow

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Blurb: Against the ominous backdrop of the influenza epidemic of 1918, Annie, a new girl at school, is claimed as best friend by Elsie, a classmate who is a tattletale, a liar, and a thief. Soon Annie makes other friends and finds herself joining them in teasing and tormenting Elsie. Elsie dies from influenza, but then she returns to reclaim Annie’s friendship and punish all the girls who bullied her. Young readers who revel in spooky stories will relish this chilling tale of a girl haunted by a vengeful ghost.

My Thoughts:

One For Sorrow is a middle grade, chilling ghost story. It takes place around 1918 during the deadliest influenza pandemic that killed millions of people.

Annie Browne has just moved to a new town with her mother and father. She’s a bit timid and she’s nervous about making friends at her new school, the Pearce Academy for Girls. The first girl she meets is Elsie, and Elsie doesn’t waste any time filling her in on how horrible the girls at Pearce are. None of the girls like Elsie and she convinces Annie that they won’t like her either. Every day, Annie can’t seem to get away from Elsie as she’s consistently holding her hand and inviting herself over to her house. She tells everyone that Annie is her best friend and because of this, nobody else wants anything to do with Annie. They begin making fun of her too and Annie becomes miserable. Elsie is bossy, pushy, and just not fun to be around. Annie can’t even seem to convince her parents that there’s something not right about Elsie. She has to find away to get away from her.

One day, Elsie doesn’t show up for school and Annie finally gets a chance to gain the friendship of some of the other girls, especially Rosie, the most popular. She becomes friends with the very group of girls that hate Elsie, including Rosie. A few more days pass and Annie wonders how Elsie will take the news when she returns. Will she be mad at Annie or will they stay friends? Will Annie take on the same bullying behaviors her classmates have bestowed on Elsie?

I just have to say–I couldn’t put this book down. From start to finish, the narrative had me completely enthralled. I had to know how this story would end and what would come of Annie. The characters are well developed and the book is written well with perfect pacing. There’s just enough to keep you turning page after page. I also loved the mention of multiple classic books by Charles Dickens and Lucy Maud Montgomery to name a few.

With that said, I was disturbed and uncomfortable at times.  I found this middle grade book a bit scary and Elsie pretty much drove me crazy from the start. It’s known that Elsie has demons from her past, some that she hasn’t been able to exterminate, which makes her very unstable and evil at times. It was almost more than I could bear. Rosie was also difficult to deal with. She’s very cruel and tends to cause problems by calling names and bullying others by chasing them. She’s pretty wound up, yet interesting. Some of the girls realize that what Rosie’s doing is wrong, but many of them keep their mouths shut because they don’t want to deal with the repercussions from her and they want her to remain their friend. They feel pressured to join in and all the while, the teacher doesn’t seem to be on top of things and doesn’t do anything to put a stop to the behaviors besides making simple commands like, “I won’t tolerate this behavior.” It’s really annoying. While all of this is happening, the flu of 1918 is making rounds. People are dying left and right. Everyone fears that they’ll be taken next, but who will it be?

Overall, I think this is a 5-star read that I highly recommend. It kept me interested from start to finish and I was really pleased with the ending. The Afterword was such a nice addition because the author explains where she got some of the ideas for the story which are inspired by true events. I’m excited to check out some other books by Mary Downing Hahn as this was my first.

Thanks to Netgalley for sharing a copy of One For Sorrow in exchange for a review.

5*****


  • Age Range: 10 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 – 7
  • Lexile Measure: 660 (What’s this?)
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (July 18, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0544818091
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544818095

Find it on Goodreads and Amazon


Continue reading “One For Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn: Book Review #NGEW2018 #3”

Animals at Night by Anne Jankeliowitch and Delphine Chedru: Children’s Book Review #NGEW2018 #2

Animals at Night

by Anne JankeliowitchDelphine Chedru (illustrator)Eve Bodeux (translator)
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BlurbWhat do animals do at night?

For humans, the setting sun marks the end of the day and signals to us that it’s time to go to sleep. But while people are quietly dreaming in their beds, there’s a whole world of animals that’s just waking up! Who are they, what do they do until morning, and how do they move, see, and hunt in the dark?

Features glow-in-the-dark content on all 32 pages!

 My Thoughts:

Animals At Night is a glow-in-the-dark book about nocturnal animals and their activities at night. It covers nocturnal animals in the forest, rivers, beaches, ponds, mountains, fields and orchards, and even animals you might find in your local neighborhood, on country roads, or on a farm.

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This is a perfect bedtime book due to the glow-in-the-dark pages. It’s also jam-packed with facts about animals with short descriptions for each. Kids will learn about the mysteries of some of these animals like why birds sing when they do, why these animals like the night in the first place, how they see in the dark, and why owls are such good hunters.

The book has an interactive feel as each section asks a question about something in that section and the answers to those questions can be found in the back of the book.

The age level for this book is listed at grades 3-7 which seems about right. The text is pretty easy to read, but might be more difficult for preschool through first graders to read all by themselves depending on their reading level. We loved the illustrations and using the book in the dark. Because I’m reviewing this one late, we were able to get a hardcover version to enjoy.

Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author’s for a review copy in exchange for a review.

4****

Continue reading “Animals at Night by Anne Jankeliowitch and Delphine Chedru: Children’s Book Review #NGEW2018 #2”

Shabby Sunday: Favorite Stories Old and New by Sidonie Matsner Gruenberg – 1955

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Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

Favorite Stories Old and New

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Blurb: This revised edition is enlarged by twenty-six stories. The divisions are as follows: Real children and real things, Stories about animals, Stories of make-believe, Fairy tales, Folk tales, Myths and fables, Bible stories and Tales of laughter.
*I apologize for the cramming of content. WordPress is not cooperating today.*

My Thoughts:

This book is a really special one! It belonged to my grandfather and is one of the only books I have left from him. This one sat on the shelf in our living room the whole time I was growing up and now it sits on mine.
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It’s a book of short stories that were compiled for children to read. Some are about real people and events, animals, make-believe, folk tales, and even some Bible stories. There are also a few fables included. Many are stories that are well known, like Cinderella, The Three Bears, David and Goliath, Davy Crockett, and Pandora’s Box. They’re short enough that young readers won’t lose interest.
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Some of my favorites include: The Middle Bear, Indians in the House, The Coyote and the Fox, Black Face, The Lion-Hearted Kitten, Snow White, Cinderella, The Snow Maiden, and The Wind and the Sun. This isn’t just a book for children and can be enjoyed by all ages.
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My version is a hardcover Doubleday edition from 1955. It lacks the dust jacket and has very bad wear to the fabric cover. The pages are still fairly clean and crisp to read with only minor smudging.
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There really aren’t a lot of illustrations in the book, but the sketches that are included are whimsical and interesting.
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Without the dust jacket, the cover is very plain with only a few black illustrations on the front cover and binding.
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I’m very happy to have this book and won’t ever part with it. It’s not just limited to children! Even with it’s age, my children and I are still interested in these classic stories that boost their imagination. It’s a real gem of a book to have.

Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Favorite Stories Old and New by Sidonie Matsner Gruenberg – 1955”

Puppy: 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles by Patricia Furstenberg – Children’s Book Review and Author Interview

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Puppy: 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles

by Patricia Furstenberg

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Blurb:

From the author of “Joyful Trouble”, No.1 Bestseller Children’s Historical Fiction, No.1 Most Gifted Young Adult and Top reviewed Kindle Storyteller book.

A puppy’s first year is filled with findings, wiggles and laughter.
Puppies squirm in all the odd places, sniff all the strange objects, lick everything they can and find something to splash into even when we don’t want them to!
This book of poems explores the first year of a puppy’s life, going through an adventure after the other, one month at a time.
Puppy’s first days, puppy’s first weeks in a new home, puppy’s encounters with snow and the school bag, puppy’s duty to protect… What happens when puppy is full of good intentions, yet his actions go wrong?
Read the rhymes and laugh with your little one.

“Puppy, 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles: is an auditory feast for children, a fun read-aloud for parents, and treat for dog-lovers, young and old.

From the author of “Joyful Trouble”, No.1 Bestseller Children’s Historical Fiction, No.1 Most Gifted Young Adult and Top reviewed Kindle Storyteller book. – Goodreads

My Thoughts:

This cute little children’s book follows a puppy through its first 12 months of life, through all the seasons, through Christmas and the New Year, and back to spring again. The story is told from the puppy’s point of view and includes colorful illustrations throughout.

We enjoyed reading this sweet book that highlights the importance of family and will influence children to cherish and care for their pets. It’s educational, and the format is easy enough for young readers, yet perfect for reading out loud with your kids as well. Children will love following along in the story through each month and learning of puppy’s adventures with his ‘human pup’ friend. With the story coming from the puppy’s POV, my children began to ask themselves if our new little puppy might be thinking some of these same thoughts in the morning when the house is still quiet, or when it’s time to protect the house when strangers arrive, and even when they leave for the day. What goes on inside their little heads?

We enjoyed this book so much and we’re looking forward to reading more children’s books by Patricia Furstenberg.

5****

You can find this book on Goodreads and also at the sites below:

Continue reading “Puppy: 12 Months of Rhymes and Smiles by Patricia Furstenberg – Children’s Book Review and Author Interview”

Shabby Sunday: Christmas Trees and How They Grow by Glenn O. Blough – 1961

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Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


 

Today’s shabby share is:

Christmas Trees and How They Grow

by Glenn O. BloughJeanne Bendick (Illustrator)
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Blurb: The characteristics of the various kinds of trees used as Christmas trees with information on where they grow and how to make a Christmas tree for the birds.

My Thoughts:

This is such an interesting book for kids to read about Christmas trees. The beginning narrative tells about a family who are out looking for the perfect Christmas tree and along the way the children learn facts about which trees are best, how they grow, the different types of Christmas trees and how to sprout pine tree seeds. The book contains interesting illustrations throughout to help kids identify the different types of trees.

Christmas Trees and How They Grow is very educational and might even teach adults a thing or two. Do you know how to find a pine tree’s seeds? How can you grow your own Christmas tree and how long will it take? How to people around the United States celebrate their Christmas trees? How can you set up a Christmas tree outside for the birds in the winter for feeding? Pick up this book to find out and settle in for a journey to learn about our truly amazing Mother Nature. Children will appreciate trees and forests  and understand how important they are after reading this book.

My edition is from 1961 and apparantly the only edition that’s available. It’s a previous library book, but it’s in fairly good shape for it’s age. It has a hard fabric cover. I ended up picking this up from a library book sale and what a find it is! You can find some real gems at sales which is why I love going to these sales so much. You never know what you’ll find.

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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Christmas Trees and How They Grow by Glenn O. Blough – 1961”

Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy – Book Review & Author Interview!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year again! We are reading all of our favorite Christmas books and introducing some new ones as well. We had the pleasure of reading Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy over the last few days and I have our official review for you and an interview with the author as well!

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Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy

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Blurb:

Ronaldo is the top flying cadet at the prestigious Reindeer Flying Academy. He dreams of getting his flying license, just like his hero, Vixen.
In this first exciting chapter in the ‘Ronaldo’ series, our hero is faced with his toughest flying test ever – The Endurance Challenge!
Can Ronaldo triumph over mean bully, Dasher, and win the ‘Golden Wings’ medal? Spurred on by Rudi, his quirky, loyal best friend and with a belly full of his favourite carrot pancakes, Ronaldo takes on the challenge of his life!

My Thoughts:

This is the first book of three in the ‘Reindeer flying Academy’ series. I read this with my children in one sitting and we all enjoyed it very much.

Ronaldo is a reindeer who dreams of being just like his hero Vixen–part of the North Pole Reindeer Team. Only the best reindeer will be chosen by Santa for the team. When it comes time for the Endurance Challenge during Saturday’s Flying School, Ronaldo dreams to win. He remembers his grandad’s advice,

“Don’t just think it! Imagine! See it, feel it, believe it!”

Will Ronaldo win the challenge and receive the Golden Wings?

Ronaldo has strong family support and a best friend named Rudi who became one of four favorite characters. Everyone could use a friend like Rudi! Ronaldo is nearly reluctant to heed his families advice at times, but may learn that they’re smarter than he thinks!

I thought this book was very inspiring and appreciated all the important lessons that influence young readers about standing up for yourself, trusting your loved ones, following your dreams, and believing in yourself. The story is well written, cute, and comical. The illustrations are perfect and offer breaks in the reading. When paired with the short chapters, this makes it an easy read for early chapter book readers.

Overall, I personally found this to be an encouraging book for all ages that my children adored. We’re looking forward to reading the other two books including the full-color illustrated edition. 4****

4-stars

 


 

  • Print Length: 109 pages
  • Publisher: Maxine Sylvester; 1 edition (December 16, 2015)
  • Publication Date: December 16, 2015
  • Ages: 5-10
  • Grades: 2-5

You can find this book on Amazon and Goodreads.

If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read this book for free!


 

Author Interview with Maxine Sylvester

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Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

A: I wrote my first book in the Ronaldo series, The Reindeer Flying Academy, three years ago. I followed up with The Phantom Carrot Snatcher one year later, and self-published Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza a few months ago. Some reviewers for the first book commented that they would have preferred colour illustrations. I liked the suggestion so recently published a second edition of The Reindeer Flying Academy in glorious colour. I think children will love the colour illustrations. The book is a perfect Christmas read.

(Click the covers to find these on Amazon)

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Q: What made you decide to write children’s books?

A: I’m still a child myself! I get as excited as a five-year-old every time a new Disney film comes out. My illustrations are inspired by animation. My niece says I am in touch with my inner child. I think it’s an advantage as I naturally write for children.

Q: What are some of your favorite childhood books? (or one favorite)

A: My first reading books were Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, and Paddington by Michael Bond. As I grew up I read anything by Enid Blyton, The Famous Five and Secret Seven books. I also loved The Railway Children by E. Nesbitt.

Q: What influenced you to write Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy, and are any of your books influenced by your childhood?

A: I have to admit, I stole an idea from A.A. Milne! He wrote about the toys in Christopher Robin’s playroom. I wanted a reason to illustrate so decided to write a short story. I looked around my bedroom, and my favourite toy was a plush reindeer. I took it from there. Some incidents in the book were inspired by my childhood. Ronaldo has a different name to all the other reindeer and gets teased because of it. I was teased about my name. He also has to wear a hideous hat. I had one of those as well. Furry and with pom poms!

Q: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

A: I have written three Ronaldo adventures, but there are four books. Two editions of The Reindeer Flying Academy are available, one has colour illustrations, the other has black and white.

I think my favourite book is the last one, Rudi’s Birthday Extravaganza. The characters are well-developed now, and I had a lot of fun with them. The book still makes me laugh even though I know what’s going to happen. I also have a soft spot for the ending of The Reindeer Flying Academy.

Q: What do you think makes a great children’s book?

A: I think values should be in there, but it’s important not to preach. Children are smart; you never want to talk down to them. I try to get a message across in a fun way. Ronaldo is a good role model for children. He’s kind, conscientious and brave, but never boring. He also has to overcome adversity and I think it’s good for children to see how he handles things. Needless to say, the stories need to be entertaining with lots of laughs and fun illustrations. The Ronaldo books have heart and I hope that children feel they are picking up a friend in a Ronaldo book. You never know what is going on in a child’s life, and books can provide comfort and inspiration.

Q: Do you create all of your own illustrations?

A: Yes, they take longer than the actual writing of the story. I trained in “cartoon art’ and was mentored by British cartoonist/, caricaturist, Steve Chadburn. I did further studies in children’s book illustration with talented artist/illustrator, Jan Nesbitt.

Q: What’s the publishing process been like for you and how do you market your books?

A: As a self-published author on Amazon, it was quite easy; especially as my partner Mark does most of the technical stuff! I am hopeless. He say’s Facebook and Twitter are great tools for reaching people. We have had varying success with promotions. A lot of it is trial and error, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

Q: Do you like to read a lot? If so, who are some of your favorite authors and are there any that heavily influence your writing?

A: I read every night before going to sleep. I read all sorts! I’ve read all of Sidney Sheldon’s books and most of Lee Childs, Jack Reacher series. If ever I feel anxious or wracked with self-doubt, I read Dr. Wayne Dyer. His gentle words always encourage me. I think he’s a must for anyone in this industry!

I loved the Harry Potter books; they were like picking up old friends. I have so much respect for J.K. Rowling. The whole world waited with baited breath for her books and she never disappointed.

I am a total Disney geek and have just finished a book on Walt Disney. What a visionary! Walt Disney has always been my biggest inspiration. I think my stories come from a lifetime of watching Disney movies.

Q: Are you working on anything now and do you have any future projects planned?

A: I have just started writing the fourth book in the Ronaldo series – The Vixen Pederson Workshop. It will be ready by Christmas 2018.

Q: Can we expect more books in this children’s series?

A: Absolutely. I find as one book evolves, ideas for another book come to the surface. Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is limitless!”

I’d like to thank Maxine Sylvester for participating in this interview.

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Continue reading “Ronaldo: The Reindeer Flying Academy – Book Review & Author Interview!”

Shabby Sunday: The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore 1983

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Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

The Night Before Christmas

by Clement C. MooreLeonard Weisgard (Illustrator)

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Blurb: Not a creature was stirring when jolly St. Nicholas came down the chimney…except the narrator of this well-loved rhyme. His eyewitness account of the arrival of the toy-filled sleigh and eight reindeer is beautifully illustrated by Leonard Weisgard’s warm and glowing pictures, while soft-to-touch pages make this book as special as the season.


 

My Thoughts:

This is one of my most treasured Christmas books to read over the holiday season, particularly on Christmas Eve. I believe most people already know the classic poem “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement C. Moore, and I couldn’t tell you how many different editions we have of this one, but what makes this edition so special to me are the classic vintage illustrations by Leonard Weisgard that take me back in time to my childhood. I think I cherish this version more than my kids do for that reason alone.

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My edition is the 1983 printing by Grosset & Dunlap. The cover is in bad shape and I’ve had to hot glue the pages back in already.

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The pages, however, are in near perfect condition! They’re crisp and clean for their age and the illustrations are still as vivid as ever.

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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore 1983”

The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais – Children’s Book Review

The Little Red Wolf

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Blurb: Lose yourself in in the dark forests of Amelie Flechais’ spectacular artwork. A young wolf, on a journey to bring his grandmother a rabbit, is charmed by the nice little girl who offers to help him… but nice is not the same as good. A haunting fairy tale for children and adults alike.

My Review:

I found this book on Edelweiss and became instantly intrigued. I love fairy tale retellings and the beautiful cover and title were all I needed. I was lucky to get approved for it, then after reading the ebook I went straight to Amazon and bought a copy.

This is similar to Little Red Riding Hood, but the roles are switched. The story follows a little wolf pup in a red coat who’s heading to Grandma’s to deliver a rabbit. Grandma’s lost her teeth and can no longer hunt. Before Little Red Wolf sets out on his journey, his mother warns him.

“Be careful to avoid the forest of dead wood where the hunter and his daughter live. They are vile and cruel and hate wolves! I don’t want anything bad to happen to you, so make sure to stay away from there!”

Little Red Wolf is carefree and sings along his journey. As he walks he finds interesting things like a little beetle, a little mouse, and a cloud of pollen. He strays from the trail and becomes lost. At first, he isn’t scared and tells himself,

“I am a wolf, the forest is my home, I’m sure I can find my way on my own, even without the dumb trail!”

What will Little Red Wolf do? Will he find his way to grandmother’s house and what other encounters will he experience?

I absolutely loved this book. It reminds me of Grimm’s Fairy Tales with beautiful atmospheric artwork. The messages conveyed here are strong ones–never judge without knowing the truth, and never trust someone based on how they look. I think this is a stunningly beautiful book that will help children learn both of these lessons. People of any age will enjoy this twisted tale, especially those who love fairy tales and retellings.

Thanks to Edelweiss, the publisher, and the author for allowing me to preview this book in exchange for a review.

5 Sterne


You can find this book on Goodreads and Amazon as well as other retailers.

  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Lion Forge (October 3, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1941302459
  • ISBN-13: 978-1941302453

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Continue reading “The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais – Children’s Book Review”

Halloween Reads for Children – Happy Halloween!

When I first started posting about our favorite children’s Halloween reads, I had big plans to share as many as possible. Last week we were so busy and things didn’t go as planned. So, I missed out on a few posts. Today I thought I’d share a bunch of our favorite Halloween reads for this season!

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First, let’s start with the board books. Of course, this was hard to pick just a few Halloween board books because there are so many adorable board books for toddlers, but we chose these two.

The Best Classic Halloween Stories – Board Book Collection

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We picked up this set from Costco last month. It contains eight different favorite Halloween stories in board book format for toddlers. You get all of these stories:

  • Little Blue Truck’s Halloween
  • Hooray for Halloween
  • Five Little Monkeys
  • Halloween Mice!
  • Ollie’s Halloween
  • Sheep Trick or Treat
  • Trick or Treat
  • Boo, Bunny!

It’s a very nice collection for your little ones. The books are good quality and have gorgeous illustrations!

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B is for BOO – A Halloween Alphabet

by Greg Paprocki

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A great introduction to the alphabet for babies and toddlers. The illustrations are perfect and have a vintage children’s book feel. There are twenty-six different illustrations throughout the book to teach all about Halloween to our little ones while they visualize the alphabet and learn the sounds as you read. A perfect addition to the Halloween shelf that I plan on keeping even when my little ones are grown!


Halloween Cats

by Jean Marzollo and Hans Wilhelm

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This is a super simple rhyming read for young readers with beautiful, colorful illustrations. It’s all about trick-or-treating cats causing trouble. There isn’t much of a story, but we still enjoy reading this one every year.


The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin
by Joe Troiano, Susan Banta (Illustrator)

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Spookley was different than all the other pumpkins. He was square, and the other pumpkins made fun of him and thought that he was worthless. Spookley finally gets the chance to prove that he’s just as good as all the others. Will he prevail?

This one is certainly a keeper. It’s a cute story that sends a strong message to children about the importance of kindness and that it’s not right to make fun of others. A cute story with colorful illustrations! The movie is also a family favorite.


 

I Like Pumpkins

by Jerry Smath (Illustrations)

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A cute Halloween story about the different sizes of pumpkins. Some are big, some are small, some are scary, some aren’t at all. The story shows many different ways we use pumpkins during the Halloween season. Easy to read for young ones and the end of the book has a few seek and finds.


We’re Going on a Spooky Ghost Hunt (A StoryPlay Book)

by Ken Geist
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This is a new Halloween book that I purchased from Scholastic. It’s our first Story Play book yet. The story can be read to the song “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.” The story contains little questions along the way that inspire young readers to count and answer questions about the story. It really gets them thinking about the story. The illustrations are detailed and interesting. I’m happy with this one and I think it’s best for preschoolers.

The Pumpkin Smasher

Anita Benarde
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It’s October, and the people of Cranbury are getting reading for Halloween. Scarecrows, big black cats, ghosts, and jack-o-lanterns adorn the town, until Halloween comes and a pumpkin smasher smashes all of the beautiful pumpkins. Who would do such a thing?
Next year, signs are posted and police are on the lookout. Unfortunately, the pumpkin smasher strikes again. The people of Cranbury are ready to cancel Halloween. They come up with a plan, but will Halloween be ruined again?
Our copy of this one is very old. It’s from 1972 and falling apart, but it’s still a favorite. The illustrations are black and white with a bit of orange for color.

Love Monster and the Scary Something (Love Monster)

by Rachel Bright

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Love Monster just can’t sleep and the night becomes spookier. Is something out there to get him? Love Monster must be brave. Follow along to see if he can overcome his fears.

Although this isn’t technically a Halloween book, we love this one for this time of year. The best illustrations!


Franklin’s Halloween

by Paulette Bourgeois, Brenda Clark (Illustrations)
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Franklin has always been a favorite show in our house and my kids would watch it on PBS all the time. In this book, Franklin dresses up as Frankenstein for Halloween and prepares for a Halloween party, parade, haunted house and games. It’s a cute book for Franklin fans complete with a wonderful story and detailed illustrations.

Happy Halloween, Snoopy!

by Charles M. Schulz, Jack C. Harris, Art Ellis, Kim Ellis
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Better than candy, “Happy Halloween, Great Pumpkin!” is a great gift-giving opportunity, coinciding as it does with the Great Pumpkin TV special, the most popular of the Peanuts cartoon specials. Full color.


There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bat!

by Lucille Colandro, Jared Lee (Illustrator)
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What won’t this old lady swallow? This time around, a bat, an owl, a cat, a ghost, a goblin, some bones, and a wizard are all on the menu! This Halloween-themed twist on the classic “little old lady” books will delight and entertain all brave readers who dare to read it!

Room on the Broom

by Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler
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The witch and her cat are happily flying through the sky on a broomstick when the wind picks up and blows away the witch’s hat, then her bow, and then her wand!  Luckily, three helpful animals find the missing items, and all they want in return is a ride on the broom.  But is there room on the broom for so many friends?  And when disaster strikes, will they be able to save the witch from a hungry dragon.

Gus And The Baby Ghost (Gus the Ghost)

by Jane Thayer, Seymour Fleishman (Illustrator)
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Gus, Cora the cat, a mouse named Mouse, and Mr. Frizzle all live in the Historical Museum. They have a fairly symbiotic relationship, until the arrival of this baby ghost that is left on the doorstep. Frizzle who has a terrible temper and is reminiscent of most bad-tempered excessively rigid old men overreacts a number of times in most theatrical and entertaining ways before the mild-mannered Gus stands his ground, puts Frizzle in his place, and restores order to the emotional state of the household.

 


It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

by Charles M. Schulz

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We read this book every year and even when it’s not Halloween. Ours is a 1972 printing and a Charles Schulz favorite all about Linus and his belief in the Great Pumpkin. He gives up trick-or-treating to wait for the Great Pumpkin on Halloween night and just about the only person who believes he might be on to something is Sally.

“Dear Great Pumpkin, I am looking forward to your arrival on Halloween Night. ” – Linus

Will the Great Pumpkin bring toys and visit Linus this year? Follow along to find out!


Continue reading “Halloween Reads for Children – Happy Halloween!”

Halloween Reads for Children #5 – Octavius Grimwood’s Graveyard Guide by Rod Green

Every day or so, until Halloween, I’ll post one of our favorite children’s reads for the fall and Halloween season which will end with a grand finale on Halloween!

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Today’s pick is:

Octavius Grimwood’s Graveyard Guide

by Rod Green

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Blurb: Boys and girls who relish scary stories and macabre movies will love this coffin-shaped book. It’s an illustrated collection of short articles that present thumbnail descriptions of vampire bats, the Frankenstein monster, the spooky tunnels beneath the streets of Paris, the Dracula legend, and much more. Each two-page spread is devoted to a separate category of factual or fictitious creature, such as Vampires, Skeletons, Werewolves, Zombies, and others. Kids will also find fact lists of descriptive details about terrifying beings, and even ghoulish jokes, such as: ” Why doesn’t Dracula have any friends? Because he’s a pain in the neck. ” The color illustrations on every page are comically creepy.


My Thoughts:

Leave it to Rod Green to come up with the coolest children’s books. We already have a few Christmas books written by him that are forever favorites. This one is for Halloween and it’s titled Octavius Grimwood’s Graveyard Guide. It’s shaped like a coffin! So cool.

The book starts with an introduction of Octavius Grimwood, an investigator of the supernatural, spooky, and weird. Octavius Grimwood is the guide as he takes readers on an exploration retelling stories about ghosts, witches, skeletons, werewolves, vampires, mummies, and zombies. Each page contains true facts and some events as well. It even covers some fairly spooky legends and places like a few different haunted houses, Highgate Cemetery, and Borley Rectory in England to name a few.

“Borley Rectory was one of the most famous haunted houses in England. It was built near the ruins of Borley Hall, once home to the wealthy Waldegrave family. Its most famous ghost was a nun, and she was the figure I met there one chilly night in 1939. The specter told me she ran away to marry one of the Waldegrave sons. However, her fiance killed her in a violent argument. The rectory burned down shortly after my visit, and the bones of a young woman were discovered.”

The book finishes with an explanation of Halloween and how it all got started. It may not seem like it, but it’s actually quite educational. I even learned a few things myself about safety coffins and the story of “Stingy Jack.” Overall, it’s fun and we love the format. The illustrations are both creepy and interesting. We look forward to pulling it off the Halloween shelf every year!

5 Sterne

  • Age Range: 8 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 – 7
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Barron’s Educational Series (August 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0764163779
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764163777

Find this book on Goodreads and Amazon


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Continue reading “Halloween Reads for Children #5 – Octavius Grimwood’s Graveyard Guide by Rod Green”

Halloween Reads for Children #4 – Happy Troll-o-ween! by Mary Man-Kong – Random House

Every day until Halloween I’ll post one of our favorite children’s reads for the fall and Halloween season which will end with a grand finale on Halloween!

 

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Today’s pick is:

Happy Troll-o-ween! (DreamWorks Trolls)

by Mary Man-Kong –  Random House

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Blurb: Trolls—the most magical creatures with the wildest hair—go on a hair-raising adventure just in time for Halloween.

Poppy and Branch and their Bergen friends King Gristle and Bridget from DreamWorks Trolls have a scary good time when they learn about things that go bump in the dark forest. Boys and girls ages 3 to 7 will love this adventure-filled book that comes just in time for Halloween!

My Thoughts:

This book really doesn’t have much of a story, but for kids who love Trolls, this will be one of their favorite Halloween books. Branch tells readers all about how they used to be scared of the Bergens, but now they’re not. There are plenty of spooky things that live in the dark forest though, like Tarantapuffs (spiders) and other creatures.

It comes with a few pages of stickers and a Poppy and Branch pop out mask. It’s a cute book at a good price that Troll fans will enjoy.

4-stars

  • Age Range: 3 – 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 2
  • Series: Pictureback(R)
  • Paperback: 16 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers; Stk edition (July 25, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1524769584
  • ISBN-13: 978-1524769581

Find it on Amazon and Goodreads


 

 

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Pop-out Poppy and Branch Masks

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Continue reading “Halloween Reads for Children #4 – Happy Troll-o-ween! by Mary Man-Kong – Random House”

Halloween Reads for Children #3 – Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman and S.D. Schindler

Every day until Halloween I’ll post one of our favorite children’s reads for the fall and Halloween season which will end with a grand finale on Halloween!

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Today’s pick is:

Big Pumpkin

by Erica SilvermanS.D. Schindler (Illustrator)

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Blurb: The witch has grown the biggest pumpkin ever, and now she wants to make herself a pumpkin pie for Halloween. But the pumpkin is so big she can’t get it off the vine.

It’s so big the ghost can’t move it, either. Neither can the vampire, nor the mummy. It looks as if there’ll be no pumpkin pie for Halloween, until along comes the bat with an idea to save the day.

How can the tiny bat succeed where bigger and strong spooky creatures have failed? You’ll be surprised!

Book Details:

Format: Paperback Publication Date: 9/1/1995 Pages: 32 Reading Level: Age 4 and Up

  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Aladdin; Reprint edition (September 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689801297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689801297

Find on Amazon and Goodreads


My Thoughts:

As soon as we saw this on the Halloween table at Barnes and Noble, we had to grab it. It a book about a witch who grows a giant pumpkin! She plants the seed and watches it grow with plans to make a pumpkin pie, but the pumpkin is so gigantic, she can’t even remove it from the vine. The ghost thinks he can help, then the vampire, then the mummy, but not one of them is strong enough. Will a little bat be the answer? Follow along in the story to see if they can devise a plan as a team and finally enjoy some delicious pumpkin pie and good company.

We loved the story and colorful illustrations which aren’t scary at all. It has the perfect amount of text per page for young readers. It’s great with or without the audio and if you’d like, you can see and hear the book on YouTube. The ending is a wonderful surprise.

My rating on this one is 4****

4-stars


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Continue reading “Halloween Reads for Children #3 – Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman and S.D. Schindler”

Shabby Sunday: Witch Poems by Daisy Wallace and Trina Schart Hyman – 1976

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To see all the Shabby Sunday books that I’ve chosen, please click on ‘Shabby Sunday’ under categories.


Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

Witch Poems

by Daisy Wallace (Editor)Trina Schart Hyman (Illustrator)

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Blurb: Small, tall, nasty, nice, old, and young witches by prominent poets. Eighteen poems about witches by L. Frank Baum, E.E. Cummings, Eleanor Farjeon, and others.

I chose this book because it’s a childhood favorite from 1976 and definitely in shabby shape. My edition is very worn and a previous library book with stickers and markings. This is another book that my dog Winston got to when he was a puppy. He ate the corner and I had to do a duct tape repair on it.


My Thoughts:

This book is one of our favorites to read around Halloween time. There are witch poems from multiple poets including Shakespeare, L.Frank Baum, Myra Cohn Livingston and a few anonymous.

One of our favorites is written by Myra Cohn Livingston. It’s titled “Lazy Witch.”

Lazy Witch

Lazy witch
What’s wrong with you?
Get up and stir your magic brew.
Here’s candlelight to chase the gloom.
Jump up and mount your flying broom
And muster up your charms and spells
And wicked grins and piercing yells.
It’s Halloween! There’s work to do!
Lazy witch,
What’s wrong with you?

–Myra Cohn Livingston

What makes this book so atmospheric are the illustrations. They’re all black and white and remind me of Pam Smy’s illustrations in Thornhill.

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It sets the mood and makes this a perfect book for Halloween. There is actually one semi-nude illustration in the beginning of the book, but the book is labeled for children ages 3 and up. We enjoy all eighteen poems.

My rating on this one is 5-stars.

5 Sterne


Add it on Goodreads or find this edition on Amazon

  • Age Range: 3 and up
  • Hardcover: 30 pages
  • Publisher: Holiday House; First Edition edition (December 1976)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823402819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823402816

 


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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Witch Poems by Daisy Wallace and Trina Schart Hyman – 1976”

Halloween Reads For Children #2 – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 1-3

Every day until Halloween I’ll post one of our favorite children’s reads for the fall and Halloween season which will end with a grand finale on Halloween!

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Today’s pick is:

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark:

Books 1-3

1- Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Collected from American Folklore (Scary Stories #1)

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Blurb: This spooky addition to Alvin Schwartz’s popular books on American folklore is filled with tales of eerie horror and dark revenge that will make you jump with fright.

There is a story here for everyone — skeletons with torn and tangled flesh who roam the earth; a ghost who takes revenge on her murderer; and a haunted house where every night a bloody head falls down the chimney.

Stephen Gammell’s splendidly creepy drawings perfectly capture the mood of more than two dozen scary stories — and even scary songs — all just right for reading alone or for telling aloud in the dark. If You Dare!

Find on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: Scary Stories Scary Stories
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: HarperColl; 1st edition (January 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0397319266
  • ISBN-13: 978-0397319268

My Thoughts:

This is a great collection of short scary stories for kids to enjoy. It’s a book that I enjoyed as a child and can now share with my own kids. Some of the stories are pretty scary and best for older readers, but a few of them can be read to younger readers as well. There are plenty of traditional ghost stories, retellings and folklore to enjoy. The black and white illustrations add even more eeriness!

A few of our favorites include The White Wolf, The Guests, The Wendigo, The Girl Who Stood on a Grave, and The Attic.

I really enjoyed reading the references in the back of the book which explain the tales and where they originated.

5 Sterne


2- More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Scary Stories #2)

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Blurb: All those who enjoyed shuddering their way through Alvin Schwartz’s first volume of Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark will find a satisfyingly spooky sequel in this new collection of the macabre, the funny, and the fantastic.Is it possible to die — and not know it? What if a person is buried too soon? What happens to a thief foolish enough to rob a corpse, or to a murderer whose victim returns from the grave? Read about these terrifying predicaments as well as what happens when practical jokes produce gruesome consequences and initiations go awry.Stephen Gammell’s splendidly creepy drawings perfectly capture the mood of more than two dozen scary stories — and even a scary song — all just right for reading alone or for telling aloud in the dark. If You Dare!

Find on Amazon and Goodreads

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Series: Scary Stories Scary Stories
  • Library Binding: 112 pages
  • Publisher: HarperColl (August 21, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0397320825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0397320820

My Thoughts:

Here’s another scary story collection that’s perfect for this time of year. Some of these are downright horrifying, but so much fun.

A few of our favorites are: Something was Wrong, The Cat’s Paw, Ba-Rooom!, which includes the simple sheet music we enjoy playing on the piano, Wonderful Sausage, and One Sunday Morning.

One of my favorite sections in the book contains the sources which explain the tales, adaptations, retellings and even different variations. Some even have a little history with them which explains where these tales were heard and when. The illustrations by Stephen Gammell are perfect and never disappoint!

5 Sterne

Irish Washerman Tune – “Ba-Room”

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The Cat’s Paw

Continue reading “Halloween Reads For Children #2 – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark 1-3”

Halloween Reads For Children #1 – Creepy Pair of Underwear!

Every day until Halloween I’ll post one of our favorite children’s reads for the fall and Halloween season which will end with a grand finale on Halloween!

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Today’s pick is:

Creepy Pair of Underwear!

by Aaron ReynoldsPeter Brown (Illustrator)

 

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Blurb: Jasper Rabbit is NOT a little bunny anymore. He’s not afraid of the dark, and he’s definitely not afraid of something as silly as underwear. But when the lights go out, suddenly his new big rabbit underwear glows in the dark. A ghoulish, greenish glow. If Jasper didn’t know any better he’d say his undies were a little, well, creepy. Jasper’s not scared obviously, he’s just done with creepy underwear. But after trying everything to get rid of them, they keep coming back!

My Thoughts:

We loved Creepy Carrots, so when we saw that Creepy Pair of Underwear came out, we couldn’t resist and had to grab it!

The story begins with Jasper Rabbit as he heads to the store with his mom to pick up some new underwear. He notices a new underwear section featuring creepy underwear and mom agrees that he can purchase them. He’s feeling so grown up and can’t wait to wear them to bed that night.

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When his mom shuts off the light, he notices that the underwear actually glows in the dark. He realizes that they are a little TOO creepy and becomes afraid! Jasper is a big rabbit and convinces himself that he’s not scared, or is he? He tries to hide the creepy underwear with the ghoulish glow in multiple places and even sends them to China, but they keep coming back.

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Follow along in the story and discover if Jasper can find a way to overcome his fear of the creepy pair of underwear.

We loved the illustrations and the story is adorable. Our rating on this one is 5-stars.

5 Sterne

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Continue reading “Halloween Reads For Children #1 – Creepy Pair of Underwear!”

Shabby Sunday: Frankenstein by Ian Thorne – Monster Series 1977

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Today is my 8th Shabby Sunday! To see all the Shabby Sunday books that I’ve chosen, please click on ‘Shabby Sunday’ under categories.


Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


 

Today’s shabby share is:

Frankenstein (Monsters Series)

by Ian Thorne

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The cover on this one features Lon Chaney Jr. as the monster in “Ghost of Frankenstein.”
Blurb: Briefly discusses the origin of the Frankenstein legend and the portrayal of Dr. Frankenstein and his creation in films. Also presents a synopsis of the 1931 film starring Boris Karloff.

I chose this book because it’s a childhood favorite from 1977, my birth year. This entire series is actually quite rare and expensive to build. As of now, I only have two of the entire set which includes King Kong and this Frankenstein book featured here. I’m not even sure how many there are in the set, but so far, these are the titles I’ve located online.

The Blob
Frankenstein
Frankenstein meets wolfman
The Wolfman
King Kong
Mad Scientists
The Creature from the Black Lagoon
Dracula
The Mummy
The Deadly Mantis
It Came from Outer Space
The Murder in the Rue Morgue
The Invisible Man
Godzilla

My Thoughts:

The Frankenstein installment in the “Monsters Series” begins with a fairly complete summary of the very first “Frankenstein” movie from 1910. There are many photos from the original film with captions that explain what’s happening in the picture and also gives the character names. It even explains facts about the original creator of “Frankenstein” –  Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin aka Mary Shelley, and how the story came about.

As the story moves on, readers learn about subsequent Frankenstein movies, the actors who played the roles in the films, and even a little bit about “The Munsters” – one of my favorite shows when I was a kid. It ends with a synopsis of the 1974 TV version “Frankenstein: The True Story.”

Overall, I love this “Monsters Series” edition and I’m happy to have it. My edition is really shabby with markings and stickers as it was a previous library book that I picked up at a sale. I can still remember reading this series in grade school and we always called them “the orange monster books.” I hope to complete the entire set in the future. My rating for this edition is 5-stars.


Add it on Goodreads or find this edition on Amazon

  • Series: Monsters Series
  • Library Binding: 46 pages
  • Publisher: Crestwood House; Library Binding edition (June 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0913940666
  • ISBN-13: 978-0913940662

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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Frankenstein by Ian Thorne – Monster Series 1977”

The Frightened Little Flower Bud by Renée Paule and Godfrey R. Hewitt – Book Review and Author Interviews

I had the pleasure of reading The Frightened Little Flower Bud last month, a children’s book by Renée Paule and Godfrey R. Hewitt. Below, you can see my thoughts on the book and also read the interviews with  Renée and Godfrey.

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The Frightened Little Flower Bud

by Renée Paule (Author/Illustrator)G.R. Hewitt(Author/Illustrator)

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Blurb: The story begins with a seed landing in a pretty garden where it begins to grow and eventually forms a little flower bud. But, the little flower bud becomes frightened of things she ‘hears on the wind’; such as the sun that might scorch her petals, the rain that might spoil them, the wind that might blow them away – so the flower doesn’t want to bloom. However, all flowers must bloom, and as the little flower bud opens her petals she overcomes her fears one by one.

The more we think about our fears, the more they overwhelm us. This book teaches children (of all ages) that fear is just a feeling that holds them back from living their lives to the full.

To add to the fun and develop observational skills there’s a ‘Did You See’ activity page at the back with objects from the book that children may not have noticed whilst reading it. There are also some simple questions that can be asked of children, encouraging them to think about what they’ve read. The skill level required is ‘easy’.

My Thoughts:

The story is about a little flower bud who is afraid to bloom because of the rumors she’s heard “on the wind” about how she might be scorched by the sun, drenched by the rain, blown by the wind, and stung by bees. She also worries if she’ll be good enough and asks herself, “Will I be beautiful like the other flowers?” As time moves on and she continues to change, everything that she worried about becomes a thing of the past and she blooms into a beautiful flower until it’s time for her to pass on her seeds for new flowers the following season.

The book’s crucial message couldn’t have come at a better time. In this day and age, our children are becoming more influenced by their peers, the media, and even family. Passing some of our own negative fears and beliefs to our children is also possible as we ourselves, at times, are dealing with our own set of stresses and negative emotions. The story reminds us that we don’t need to harbor these negative thoughts at all. By the time I got to the end of the book, I realized this has to be one of the best children’s books I’ve read with powerful messages for all ages. What were some of the messages we took away from the book? Don’t ever be afraid because of something you hear. No matter what somebody else says, don’t let it get in the way of your goals and live your life to the fullest. Most importantly, be yourself!

The book can be read by children entirely on their own, but really strikes up good conversation and for younger children, I believe it’s best read with an adult. It’s very thought-provoking and children will begin to think about some of their own fears. I think school teachers can incorporate this into their curriculum as well. My children who are ages four, six, nine, and eleven, all enjoyed it and even my 17-year-old enjoyed discussing it with us.

We thoroughly admired the bright, colorful, and detailed illustrations. These illustrations give us a nice sense of nature which is something many of us have lost touch with as our lives have become electronic and sometimes disconnected from Earth. There’s even a section for young readers to go back throughout the book with a ‘look and find’ list of animals and children will learn about a what type of flower the frightened flower bud is.

I appreciated the addition of the authors’ notes in the back of the book where you can read about the authors’ thoughts on the book and also learn a little bit about them. I’m so pleased to have this added to my home library and believe this book should be in every school and library so that all can enjoy it, not just children, as it’s a book for all ages!

My rating for this book is 5*****

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You can find this book on Goodreads and Amazon. There are two different spellings. Find the British spelling book HERE and the American spelling HERE.

  • Paperback: 40 pages
  • Publisher: RPG Publishing; American Spelling edition (September 27, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0993509843
  • ISBN-13: 978-0993509841

A few illustrations from the book:

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Did you enjoy reading as a child? What are some of your childhood favorites?

Renée I never read much as a child – I found the task tedious and preferred to remain with my own thoughts.

Godfrey I enjoyed reading Enid Blyton amongst others. My favourite children’s books have always been ‘The Wind in the Willows’ by Kenneth Grahame and ‘Winnie the Pooh’ by A. A. Milne.


What influenced you to write this book?

Renée Like with most people, the idea just popped into my head and Godfrey and I developed it from there. There are some beautiful places to see in Co. Leitrim and lots of flowers coming and going. The symbology is always clear (life is a cycle).

Godfrey I was invited to co-write and illustrate it – so I thought ‘Why not?’


What was the hardest part about writing this book?

Renée – As you know, I usually write for adults so had to start thinking about how a child would receive this book and whether or not the ‘bees’ or ‘dying’ image would scare them.

After speaking to teachers, we were reminded of the horrors that our children read all the time – such as ‘The Three Little Pigs’ and ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ – so what we were tackling was mild in comparison.

Godfrey– Knowing when it was finished and needed no more tweaking.


How long did it take you to write it?

Renée – It took six months to get it just the way we wanted it – the illustrations are intricate.


What message would you like people to take away from The Frightened Little Flower Bud?

Renée – Never be afraid of anything, particularly your own thoughts.

Godfrey– Things are never as bad as they appear to be.


What do you think makes a great children’s book?

Renée One that can reach them and encourage them to think for themselves – better still, a book that encourages them to think for themselves and leaves them feeling happier than they were before.

Godfrey– One that children can get lost in – the return to reality is a disappointment. One that stays with you all day and you look forward to getting back to reading it. One that leaves you with a great sense of loss when you turn the last page.


Was anything edited out and did you have alternate endings for the book?

Renée – An image of a mole was removed because we wanted to keep the book Irish and there are no moles in Ireland – we replaced it with a rabbit.

Godfrey– There was no possible alternative ending.

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Who designed the illustrations and cover?

Renée – we worked on the illustrations together. Godfrey did most of the landscapes but also helped me with expressions and ideas. We work very well together. Godfrey designed the cover.


Do you have future plans to write more children’s books and can we expect more illustrations?

Renée – Yes … saying no more at this stage. I am, however, also working on another adult’s book so time is precious right now.


Do you have any favorite children’s book authors and do any influence your writing?

Renée – We’re influenced by everything we read whether we want to be or not.

Godfrey– As I said above, I always loved Enid Blyton’s books – also Roald Dahl, Kenneth Grahame, Philip Pullman and others too numerous to mention.


How do you publish and market your books?

Renée – We are taking it into garden centres, schools and book shops – and anywhere else we can think of – and pushing it ourselves. It’s a hard slog and why time is precious right now. This book was rejected by 16 odd publishers and also by distributors, even though they enjoyed reading it. We still have a lot to do.


Do you have any advice for others on publishing and marketing?

Renée – Never give up. Never take ‘No’ for an answer. If you believe in what you’re doing don’t allow others to reject it in your own mind.

Godfrey– I agree with Renée. It’s also important to have your book edited. If you self-publish be prepared to work hard and get your book known – there’s a lot of competition!


Do you have anything else you’d like to add?

Renée and Godfrey – Thanks for the chance to talk about our book. We had a lot of fun putting it together.

I’d like to thank Renée and Godfrey for taking the time to complete this Q&A.

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Continue reading “The Frightened Little Flower Bud by Renée Paule and Godfrey R. Hewitt – Book Review and Author Interviews”

Shabby Sunday: A Child’s Garden of Delights – 1987

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Today is my 7th Shabby Sunday! To see all the Shabby Sunday books that I’ve chosen, please click on ‘Shabby Sunday’ under categories.


Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

A Child’s Garden of Delights

by Bernard McTigue

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Blurb: Eighty-five selections from the collections of the New York Public Library. Includes Mother Goose, “Wind in the Willows,” Pinocchio, fairy tales, Mark Twain, Tolstoy, Blakely, and other treasures.

I chose this book because it’s a childhood favorite from 1987. It seems to be quite rare and not very popular. I think anyone who has children around or who are interested in children’s literature would enjoy this book.


My Thoughts

A Child’s Garden of Delights: Pictures, Poems, and Stories for Children is an anthology of children’s stories and more from the collections of the New York Public Library.

“The Charm of the anonymous early English and American selections proves that in the field of children’s literature there was a genius shared by all its practitioners, from the humblest to the most illustrious. To browse through this collection will be a voyage of discovery for young readers and a happy voyage of rediscovery of beloved favorites for older ones.”

This treasure trove has over 80 stories, poems, fables, and nursery rhymes with original illustrations. The illustrations are a mix of color and black and white. It’s an enchanting book. I love that it begins with selections for the youngest readers and progresses on to more difficult readings for older children.

There are tons of authors and great artists including: Rudyard Kipling, Alexander Calder, Charles Kingsley, Leo Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Nathanial Hawthorne, Clement Clark Moore, Louisa May Alcott, William Blake, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Pushkin, and many more.

Stories include some of our favorites like: Pinocchio, Old Mother Hubbard, Humpty Dumpty, The Elephants Child, The Ugly Little Duck, Millions of Cats, Aesop’s Fables, A Visit from St. Nicholas, The Wolf and the Dog, The Lion and the Puppy, The Selfish Giant, The Woodcutters Dog, and so many more.

I know well that only the rarest kind of best can be good enough for the young. – Walter De La Mare

This is a book I’ll never part with. It’s such a gem. I feel so lucky to have it!

My rating on this book is 5*****


 

Add it on Goodreads or find this edition on Amazon

  • Hardcover: 271 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N Abrams; First Edition edition (September 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810907917
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810907911

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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: A Child’s Garden of Delights – 1987”

Thornhill by Pam Smy – Book Review

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Thornhill

by Pam Smy

Blurb: Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as Ella unravels the mystery of the girl next door.

1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.

2016: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.

  • Age Range: 10 – 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 – 9
  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press (August 29, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 162672654X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1626726543

My Review:

I’ve been pondering about what to say about this book for days. It took me awhile to see how I felt about the book and I ended up reading it twice. I could feel myself frowning the entire way all the way to the end.

There are two different storylines parallel to each other. The prose is the story of Mary in 1982, while the haunting, interlaced, black and white illustrations are Ella’s story in the present.

Mary is an orphan living at Thornhill in 1982 and is waiting to be adopted. She’s one of the only girls left along with a very mean girl who enjoys tormenting and bullying Mary to the point that Mary remains locked in her room most days.

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She dreads even coming out to eat and spends all of her time in her room making dolls or reading The Secret Garden. Mary’s story is told from her diary pages. I found it emotional and really couldn’t understand why something wasn’t being done to control the behavior of these girls who were treating her wrongly and bullying her. There are spoilers/hints along the way which gives you an idea about the end. I thought that was almost too much.

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Ella’s story is quite different. Told in the present, she’s moved into a house right next door to Thornhill and deals with her own set of problems. Her mother is absent for whatever reason, and her father is busy with work-related engagements, so Ella is left alone most of the time. Thornhill is viewed from right outside her window and she becomes curious when she sees a girl in the garden there, even though Thornhill has been shut down since 1982.  It’s abandoned, but Ella is curious and begins to wonder about the girl she sees from time to time. She begins exploring the garden because, what else is there for her do?

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This is a fairly large book at about 540 pages, but many of the pages are illustrations which make it a fairly quick read. I found the illustrations paired with Mary’s diary haunting and I didn’t want to put it down until I could find out what was going to happen with these two girls. I found the book unique, chilling, and atmospheric, but honestly, I wasn’t happy with parts of the story, especially the unexplained abrupt ending. Overall, it’s good and even though it’s juvenile fiction, it kept me engaged until the end.

My rating is 4.5****

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Continue reading “Thornhill by Pam Smy – Book Review”

The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline K. Ogburn – Book Review and Author Interview

Last month, we took a trip to Barnes and Noble and picked up The Unicorn in the Barn. We were instantly attracted to the title, cover, and blurb. I had the pleasure of reading The Unicorn in the Barn with my younger children and you can see my review and author interview with Jacqueline K. Ogburn below.

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The Unicorn in the Barn

by Jacqueline K. Ogburn, and Rebecca Green (Illustrations)

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   For years people have claimed to see a mysterious white deer in the woods around Chinaberry Creek. It always gets away.
One evening, Eric Harper thinks he spots it. But a deer doesn’t have a coat that shimmers like a pearl. And a deer certainly isn’t born with an ivory horn curling from its forehead.
When Eric discovers the unicorn is hurt and being taken care of by the vet next door and her daughter, Allegra, his life is transformed.
A tender tale of love, loss, and the connections we make, The Unicorn in the Barn shows us that sometimes ordinary life takes extraordinary turns. – Goodreads

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 My Review

Have you ever seen a Unicorn? Eric has, and now his life may be changed forever.

Eric’s grandmother isn’t well and has been put into a nursing home. Her house is now being occupied by someone new, a girl named Allegra, and her mother, a veterinarian. One day, Eric stumbles upon Allegra pounding in a “No Trespassing” sign on the tree where his treehouse resides: his favorite place to be. They don’t seem to like each other, but Eric doesn’t know yet that Allegra may not be as awful as she seems.

As Eric spends more time around the woods and farmhouse, he begins to discover magical creatures, including a white and glowing animal he first thinks is a pony. Soon, he realizes this beautiful pony-like animal is a unicorn: the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. He soon observes that she’s living in the old barn near the farmhouse which has been converted into a vet practice by Allegra’s mother. The unicorn was meant to remain a secret, but Eric is inquisitive and must find out everything he can about this magnificent creature.

We absolutely loved all the magical creatures in the book, especially Moonpearl, the majestic unicorn. The talking animals reminded us of another favorite children’s story-Charlotte’s Web. The human characters are memorable and even though it’s an imaginary story, it felt real. The relationship between Eric and his grandmother is heartwarming and we admired how Eric and Allegra’s friendship developed over time.

There were a few events in the book that we needed to stop and discuss that dealt with loss and mourning and not everything unfolded the way we wanted it to. Overall, this story was beautiful and something I would’ve loved reading as a child. We fell in love with all of the illustrations and found ourselves wanting more. My kids did enjoy it and I’m happy to have it as part of our home library.

My rating on this book is 5*****

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You can find this book on Goodreads and Amazon as well as many other bookstores.

  • Age Range: 10 – 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 – 7
  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (July 4, 2017)
  • ISBN-10: 054476112X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0544761124

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Author Interview with Jacqueline K. Ogburn

 

Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

A: I didn’t really start calling myself a writer until after about my third picture book. By then I began to believe it was something I was good at, not just a fluke. I had always written things – poetry, journals, letters – starting when I was around 8 or 9.

Q: What made you decide to write children’s books?

A: My path was a bit unusual. I had moved to New York City in my early 20s because I wanted to work in book publishing. My first job was in children’s books, and it made me remember how I fell in love with reading. I wrote my first picture book when I misunderstood a book title. I thought it was The Noise Lullaby, but it turned out to be The Norse Lullaby. Not nearly as intriguing a title, so I wrote a manuscript to go along with the incorrect one.

 

Q: What is your favorite childhood book?

A: Lots of favorites: From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and A Wrinkle in Time, also Harriet the Spy and It’s Like This, Cat were some I read and reread. Looking at that list, it is not surprising I moved to New York City. I also loved Black Beauty and Bambi, both which had very sad and harsh scenes. And lots of fairy tales, mostly the one from the Grimm Brothers. I hated most of the Hans Christian Anderson stories. I especially loathed The Little Match Girl. His stories seemed so cruel.

Q: Have you always enjoyed writing? 

A: Like many people, I started with poetry. I like playing with the rhythms and how intricate they could be. Writing a poem can be like solving a puzzle, finding how the pieces fit.

Q: What influenced you to write The Unicorn in the Barn and are any of your books influenced by your childhood?

A: My daughter sparked the idea, when she mentioned that unicorns might be hard for a vet to treat. The setting of the story is based on the farm in North Carolina near Charlotte where my grandmother and my mother grew up, and my uncle still lives. I tried to give it a Southern feel, but not in a stereotypical way.

My book The Jukebox Man was based on my grandfather, who had jukeboxes and pool tables at bars and restaurants throughout North Carolina. The illustrator, James Ransome, also used my house in one of the pictures.

Q: How does writing make you feel and does it come easy for you?

A: I hate starting a piece. Starting is so hard, trying to find a way in. Those first fewwriting-center-1024x692.jpg sentences set up so much. Once I get past that, it is very absorbing. Picture books are so short that I can usually write a full draft in a day or two. I can hold the whole picture book in my head while I research and work out the plot or the structure.

Novels are hard because they have so much middle. Some many possible blind alleys and it seems to magically expand. Or you get stuck and aren’t sure how to keep it building towards the end.

Q: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

A: That’s like asking who is your favorite child. I love them all. I have published 10 picture books and one middle-grade novel. I love The Reptile Ball because it was a collection of poems. The Magic Nesting Doll was an original fairy tale. The Bake Shop Ghost because it is about cakes and a cranky ghost. Also because I got to write a musical based on it and see it performed, and it was made into a short film, which I got to see being made.

Q: What makes a great children’s book?

A: It’s easier to say what makes a bad one – a didactic approach, condescending tone, sugary sweet sentimentality, not respecting that children are people, stories that rote, routine and boring.

Q: Why don’t you illustrate your own books and what’s the process like for finding illustrators?

A: While I like to draw, I haven’t developed that talent. There are so many incredible artists out there, and I have been lucky in the ones who had illustrated my books. I don’t find the illustrators, the publisher does that, because they give a separate contract to the artist. I usually discuss the style of art the story needs with the publisher. Lots of artists have turned down my stories, for all sorts of reason – they didn’t like it, didn’t fit their schedule, etc. Once I met an illustrator years after he turned down my story. He did wonderful, realistic illustrations of children that were beautiful and intense. He remembered my story. He explained that he didn’t do it because the action took place inside, and he hated drawing interiors. He loved illustrating outdoor scenes.

 

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Illustrations from The Unicorn in the Barn by Rebecca Green

 

Q: What’s the publishing process been like for you and how do you market your books?

A: I have been very lucky in my publishing career. I don’t have an agent, but have worked with several editors at three different houses. I have had several books rejected, and probably don’t market those enough. I do some online marketing for my published, but that is changing so rapidly that it is hard to keep up. I do some school visits, but I have a day job, so I’m not a true road warrior.

Q: Do you like to read a lot? If so, who are some of your favorite authors and are there any that heavily influence your writing?2839.jpg

A: I read constantly. I’m the type of person who reads the cereal box if there is nothing else around. For picture books, Margaret Mahy was an influence – she is very funny and whimsical and playful with language. For a novel, The Bridge to Terabithia was an influence.

Q: When it comes to writing, what tools do you use?

A: Pen for poetry, computer for prose.

Q: How long did it take you to write The Unicorn in the Barn?

A: More years than it should have – about 10. I didn’t work on it consistently. I would put it away for months at a time, then find myself thinking about the characters and work on it until I got stuck again.

Q: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?

A: The middle kept growing, that there were more things I realized I needed to put in that weren’t part of the original outline.

Q: Will there be any other books regarding Moonpearl or the characters in this book in the future?

A: I have some chapters of a sequel, told from Allegra’s point of view. The main magical creature is a griffin, because I love the hybrid of lion and eagle.

Q: How did you come up with the character names in the book and are any characters or events based on anything true?

A: My daughter who gave me the spark, her middle name is Harper, so I used that for Eric’s family name. I did research by volunteering at the Piedmont Wildlife Center, so some of the details about the clinic are drawn from that, and the farm is based on the one where my grandmother and mother grew up.

Q: I appreciated that the book dealt with some harder topics like aging, death, and mourning which can be difficult for children to cope with. Did you make any major edits to the book or have other endings for the story?

A: I changed an important scene. Originally Eric tried to take the unicorn to his grandmother and Moonpearl ran away after being frightened by a car. My editor and husband thought it made Eric seem too selfish and unsympathetic. So I had to change a lot and ended up with the wampus cat.

If you tell a story about a hospital or a doctor, about healing, then death is always a possibility. I called a friend crying once, because I realized I needed to include the death of an animal if it was going to be a fantasy grounded in reality.

Being the parent or grandparent of a children’s book protagonist is risky business – they die off at an alarming rate. The loss of a grandparent or a pet are frequently a child’s first experience of death, and the initial setting I created made them almost inevitable. I tried to do it in a way that was emotionally true, but not crushing. To show that these things can be faced, especially with help.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?images.jpg

A: Read a lot, and be persistent. Dr. Seuss was famously rejected over 30 times before he found a publisher for his first book, And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street.

Q: Do you have any advice for parents who are dealing with struggling readers?

A: That is a bit outside my expertise, but modeling reading is one. Anything that appeals to an interest they have, don’t worry about if it’s “good” just something that they want to figure out. Reading out loud, just as sharing, not as pressure.

Q: Are you working on anything now and do you have any future projects planned?

A: The possible sequels and I have an idea for a series, maybe a bit younger than this.

Q: What else do you like to do outside of writing?

A: I live in Durham, North Carolina, which is now a foodie town. I like to cook and eat well. I grow herbs and flowers and tomatoes, because not even the farmer’s market has tomatoes as good as the ones in your own backyard.

I’d like to thank Jacqueline K. Ogburn for her time in completing this interview.

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Continue reading “The Unicorn in the Barn by Jacqueline K. Ogburn – Book Review and Author Interview”

Shabby Sunday: The Tall Book of Mother Goose – 1942

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Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

The Tall Book of Mother Goose

by Feodor Rojankovsky (Illustrator)

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I’ve had this book since I was very young and can still remember climbing up on the couch to read it with my grandfather. It was published in 1942 and was a part of the school library where my grandfather worked as a teacher and principal. The book was even used by my mother and her siblings. It’s now a part of my home library.

There are over 100 nursery rhymes in this book. Some of my favorites are “The House That Jack Built,” “Old Mother Hubbard,” and “Old King Cole.” My absolute favorite in the entire book is “Sing a Song of Sixpence.”

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My grandfather wouldn’t just read this one, he would sing it. We didn’t even have to be reading the book; we would dance around singing it. It’s a wonderful memory and I’m happy to have this book to share with my kids.

Some of the illustrations are in color and some in black and white. The book is definitely tall at about 12 inches. This 1942 edition is about 120 pages.

My rating is 5-stars.

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Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: The Tall Book of Mother Goose – 1942”

Shabby Sunday: Thidwick The Big-Hearted Moose by Dr. Seuss – 1948

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Shabby Sunday Meme

I have a lot of old vintage books and one of my plans when I first started blogging was to do a post every week or so that shared one of my cherished vintage books. Then, I thought that maybe there might be other book bloggers out there that have some vintage books, heirlooms, or maybe some old books from childhood that they might want to share. I decided to start a weekly meme titled ‘Shabby Sunday’ for those who would like to participate and share some of their old vintage books. Do you have some shabby books you’d like to share? Please feel free to participate. Feel free to use the picture I’ve provided if you’d like to. If you decide to do this meme, please consider linking back to me so that I can see the book you’re sharing.


Today’s shabby share is:

Thidwick The Big-Hearted Moose

by: Dr. Seuss

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My review:

Thidwick spends most of his days munching on tender moose-moss, until a Bingle Bug comes along and expects a ride. Of course, Thidwick can’t turn him down and offers him a home on his antlers. Then comes a tree spider, Zinn-a-zu Bird, a squirrel family, and many more creatures expecting a ride. Thidwick’s virtue of kindness takes over.

“A host has to put up with all kinds of pests. For a host, above all, must be kind to his guests.”

Thidwick is stuck in a dangerous situation and must go it alone, but his guests don’t want to leave. What should Thidwick do?

This story reminds me of Aesop’s Fables and has a moral lesson of kindness. Children will ask, “Why did Thidwick toss his antlers with all the creatures still on them?” They’ll learn that kindness can only go so far. When kindness starts to hurt you, the kind-hearted person, physically or emotionally, you may need to walk away from the situation and start caring about yourself.

My hardback copy is the 1948 edition and a previous library book stamped in Chicago, IL. I bought it at a used book sale years ago. The book is colorful and written with the familiar rhyming poetry as other Dr. Seuss books. This is a great book to add to your children’s collection!

My rating on this one is 5-stars.

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Continue for more book information and where to find it…

Continue reading “Shabby Sunday: Thidwick The Big-Hearted Moose by Dr. Seuss – 1948”