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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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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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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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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BeFunky Design

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****

4-stars

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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BeFunky Design

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”

This Week’s Children’s Books – Winter Candle – This House, once – Behind the Legend: Bigfoot – Nutik, the Wolf Pup – We Forgot Brock!

I have five new children’s books to share with you this week!

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Winter Candle

by Jeron FrameStacey Schuett (Illustrations)

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Blurb: When each family at the diverse Juniper Court apartment complex needs something to light up the dark of winter, the stumpy, lumpy candle provides a glow brighter than the fanciest taper, revealing the true spirit of each holiday it illuminates.

  • Age Range: 4 – 11 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 6
  • Hardcover: 28 pages
  • Publisher: Creston Books (November 11, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1939547105
  • ISBN-13: 978-1939547101

My Review

Multiple residents at the Juniper Court Apartment complex are celebrating their family traditions during the holidays. As each family begins their celebration, they realize they are missing an important component- a candle. As the candle is passed from family to family, children will learn about Havdalah, Saint Lucia Day, and Kwanzaa.

We enjoyed the vivid and detailed illustrations. The authors note at the end explains these traditions and what each holiday means as well as why they are celebrated. It’s an interesting and educational book for elementary readers. 4****

Star_rating_4_of_5

Find Winter Candle on Amazon


This House, once

by Deborah Freedman

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Blurb: Deborah Freedman’s masterful new picture book is at once an introduction to the pieces of a house, a cozy story to share and explore, and a dreamy meditation on the magic of our homes and our world.

Before there was this house,
there were stones,
and mud,
and a colossal oak tree—
three hugs around
and as high as the blue.

What was your home, once?

This poetically simple, thought-provoking, and gorgeously illustrated book invites readers to think about where things come from and what nature provides.

  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (February 28, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1481442848
  • ISBN-13: 978-1481442848

My Review

This beautifully illustrated book is a powerful and poetic story about a house that was, at one point, only stones and bricks. Children will discover that every piece of the house came from the earth. It’s a thought-provoking and beautiful story.

We especially enjoyed the illustrations including all the little animals pictured all around in nature. This is a very simple read and I appreciated the note to readers at the end which provokes discussion. 4****

Star_rating_4_of_5

Watch Emily Arrow sing the song “This House, once” in this video:

 

Find This House, once on Amazon

 


Nutik, the Wolf Pup

by Jean Craighead GeorgeTed Rand (Illustrations

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Blurb: In an Eskimo village at the top of the world lived a little boy whose name was Amaroq. Named for the great wolf leader who saved the life of his big sister, Julie, Amaroq loved wolves as much as his big sister did.

One day Julie brings home a sickly wolf pup named Nutik for Amaroq to feed and tend. “Don’t fall in love with Nutik,” Julie warns, “or your heart will break when the wolves come to take their pup home.” Amaroq feeds and cares for Nutik, and soon the fuzzy little pup is romping and playing and following Amaroq everywhere. Amaroq and Nutik become best friends, but soon it’s time for Nutik to rejoin his wolf family. Will Amaroq be strong like the great wolf leader he was named after and be able to let Nutik go?

In this adventure-first told in Julie’s Wolf Pack, the sequel to the Newbery Medal-winning Julie of the Wolves Jean Craighead George brings the Arctic world of Julie and her family to a picturebook audience.

  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Library Binding: 40 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (January 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060281650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060281656

My Review

A boy named Amaroq is introduced to a wolf pup named Nutik after his sister finds the sick pup and brings him home for care. Amaroq is responsible for caring for Nutik and his sister tells him from the start not to get attached because he’ll be leaving to return to his old pack once he’s stronger. Amaroq can’t help himself and Nutik becomes his best friend. Follow along in the story to see if Amaroq can remain brave when the time comes for Nutik to move on.

This book is part of our curriculum this week as we’re learning about wolves in the wild. The illustrations felt so authentic to us and it’s no wonder after reading that the illustrator, Ted Rand, traveled to Alaska to observe the arctic tundra first hand. It’s visually stunning and the story is powerful and emotional at the same time. 5*****

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Find Nutik, the Wolf Pup on Amazon

Here’s a program that we are watching below on BBC.


 

We Forgot Brock!

by Carter Goodrich

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BlurbThe importance of imaginary friends is very real in this picture book adventure from the author of Say Hello to Zorro! and lead character designer for Despicable MeFinding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc.

Phillip and Brock are best friends. Everyone can see Phillip, but only Phillip can see Brock.

A night at the Big Fair is all fun and games until Phillip gets sleepy, heads home, and forgets Brock!

Brock misses Phillip. And Phillip misses Brock. Will they reunite? With the help of another pair of pals, they just might. Because even imaginary friends get lost sometimes. Finding them is part of the adventure.

  • Age Range: 4 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 25, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1442480904
  • ISBN-13: 978-1442480902

My Review

A little boy named Phillip enjoys spending time with his imaginary friend named Brock. They play together, eat together, and pretty much do everything together. The strange thing is that nobody else can see Brock, so when they visit the fair, Brock accidentally gets left behind. Follow along in the story to see if Phillip will find Broch and if his parents might make an amazing discovery themselves.

The imaginary friends are drawn which gives them a different look from the other realistic characters. This is a really fun book but also scary and emotional. It’s the worst nightmare for Phillip, but we enjoyed the story and conclusion. 4****

Star_rating_4_of_5

Find We Forgot Brock! on Amazon

Continue reading “This Week’s Children’s Books – Winter Candle – This House, once – Behind the Legend: Bigfoot – Nutik, the Wolf Pup – We Forgot Brock!”

TAG: Summer Book Tag

I was tagged this week by sister book blogger Alex@coffeelovingbookoholic for the Summer Book Tag. I’d like to thank her for nominating me! As I’ve said before, please check out her blog as she has tons of content including awards, challenges, book reviews and more! I’ve never done this tag and it looks like fun so let’s get started!

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-Click the covers to add to Goodreads-

What book cover makes you think of summer?

It Starts With L by Cassandra Fear

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Much of the plot was in summer and just look at the cover!


What book has brightened your day?

Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan

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Jim Gaffigan makes me laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. I love his books and stand up shows. Much of what he talks about resonates with me.


Find a book cover with yellow on it.

Barkley Five Oh

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This is a short story by Logan Keys about a robot’s journey. You just have to read it…


What is your favorite summer beach read?

The Wing Man by Natasha Anders

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Yup. A fairly steamy romance that I enjoyed.


What action book had you running for the ice cream man?

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult

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Another favorite by Jodi Picoult. This one I devoured and couldn’t put down…


(Sunburn) What book has left you with a bad and/or painful ending?

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

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I loved this book, but painful end. Period.


(Sunset) what book gave you the happiest feelings when it ended? 

Hearts Are Like Balloons by Candace Robinson

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I enjoyed the ending with this one. I loved reading about May’s journey throughout the book and I was elated with the ending…


What book cover reminds you of a sunset?

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

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This book is so twisty and even hard to read at times. It’s one of my cherished books by Jodi Picoult despite the content. She’s definitely a favorite author.


What is one book or series you hope to read this summer?

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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We read the children’s book this summer and I just purchased this a few weeks ago. I’m hoping to buddy read it with my oldest daughter…

Continue reading “TAG: Summer Book Tag”

Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Unicorn in the Barn – See What I have Done – Dairy Free Biscuits & Gravy

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope everyone is having a wonderful week so far. I have two new books to share and an interesting recipe for dairy free biscuits and gravy that’s quite delicious! 25-Inspiring-Happy-Wednesday-Quotes-To-Share-6338-9.jpg

This is a recipe that I can eat any time of the day or night. I’ve even made biscuits & Gravy for dinner recently and it’s always so delicious!

Let’s get started…

I learned how to make biscuits & Gravy from my Stepmother Laurie. Just a few weeks before she passed away, she told me she wanted to show me how to make her biscuits and gravy recipe so that I would always know how. I’ve made this recipe ever since and my family loves it. I’m going to give you both recipe versions so that you can choose which one you’d like to try.

Laurie’s Biscuits & Gravy Recipe

My Stepmom loved using Grand’s Butter Tastin’ Biscuits with her gravy. Her gravy recipe is as follows:

1 – TB Bacon Lard

1 tube of hot ground sausage

1 tube of regular ground sausage

1 cup of whole milk

1/2 cup of flour

Salt and Pepper

Additional milk for thickening

So, my version of the recipe is made the same way as Laurie’s biscuits & gravy, but using almond milk. I used to make this with traditional cow’s milk, and in my opinion, it does taste best with real whole milk and even a splash of cream. I’m always searching for dairy free versions when it comes to cooking because as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not supposed to be eating dairy and do much better without it.

My dairy free version…

Ingredients:

My favorite biscuit recipe which you will find HERE. (Omit the butter and use Crisco for dairy free! Also use almond milk which works great)

1 TB oil or lard – whichever you like

2 tubes of ground sausage of your choice (I like Farmland MSG Free)

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1 cup of almond milk (or milk of your choice)

1/2 cup of flour

Salt, pepper, and a dash of ground cayenne pepper to taste (Farmland doesn’t make hot sausage that I can find so I use a little dash of cayenne pepper)

Additional milk to use with thickening

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Directions: 

Heat your pan to medium and begin breaking up the sausage while frying until cooked through. I love using cast iron for this…

As the sausage is frying, prepare your milk by adding it to a jar or bowl. I like to shake my milk and flour in a jar because it makes it easy. You can also whisk it.

1 Cup of Milk

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1/2 Cup of Flour

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Shake it up real good!

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Once the sausage is cooked through – Drain the fat

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Now you’re ready to add your milk mixture to your drained sausage over medium heat. Pour it in and start stirring it up until it gets thick which is almost instantly.

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Add in more milk. I don’t measure on this. I just add a little slowly over time until I get to the desired thickness.

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Just keep stirring and adding in small amounts of milk over high heat. Once it starts to boil turn it down to a simmer. Don’t forget to add in your spices!

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This is why I love cast iron – It’s naturally non-stick as you can see in the picture below.

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After simmering for roughly 10-15 minutes, it’s done.

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Serve with your fresh biscuits!

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Delicious!

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Continue reading for this week’s books!

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Breakfast and a Book – Unicorn in the Barn – See What I have Done – Dairy Free Biscuits & Gravy”

Stump The Grown-Up Book Review

Stump the Grown – Up

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In June we made a trip to the book store searching for some fun summer reads. My kids picked out this book titled Stump The Grown-Up and I was instantly intrigued. It’s chock-full of questions regarding math, science, food, history, reading, pop culture and more. The book is so much fun to read with kids because they ask you the questions to see just how smart you are! They are learning and they don’t even know it. This isn’t just fun for the kids, it’s fun for the whole family.

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Some questions are multiple choice, whereas some are matching. There are regular questions that offer no hints at all. A few examples are:

  •  What was the first food grown in space?
  • George Washington Carver discovered more than 300 uses for what food?
  • In Tuck Everlasting, what secret power does the Tuck family possess?

Other matching questions ask fun facts regarding fast food catchphrases and even cover the 50 states and capitals of the United States! Answers are on the bottom of the page and appear upside down so they’re not easy to read.

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This is a great read for anytime of the year. It’s been fun keeping our brains stimulated over summer vacation and I can still see us reading this book throughout the school year. Hands down it’s one of the most fun and best educational books we found. 5*****

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Continue reading “Stump The Grown-Up Book Review”

Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books – Birdsong – The Adventures of Polo – Sidewalk Circus

I picked up three new wordless picture books to share with you this week. We enjoyed all three. I hope that you find a few of these interesting!

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Birdsong by James Sturm

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Blurb: Bring the thrilling story of one red bird to life. When an innocent bird meets two cruel kids, their world is forever changed. But exactly how that change unfolds is up to you, in the tradition of Kamishibai—Japanese paper theater. The wordless story by master cartoonist James Sturm is like a haiku—the elegant images leave space for children to inhabit this timeless tale—and make it their own, leading them to learn an ultimate lesson they’ll never forget.

James Sturm is the author of several books for kids including the Adventures in Cartooning series (with Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost) and the forthcoming Ape and Armadillo. James also helped start a college for cartoonists, The Center for Cartoon Studies, in the small railroad village of White River Junction, Vermont.

  • Age Range: 5 and up
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Series: Toon Books
  • Hardcover: 60 pages
  • Publisher: TOON Books (April 5, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1935179942
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935179948

My Review:

When we first started reading this book we were shocked. It begins with two children abusing some wildlife and it’s uncertain where the story is going to go. As they chase a bird far away, they are met by an angry man who wants to teach them a lesson they will never forget. The message is powerful and children will understand that there are consequences to their actions. This is a wordless picture book that can have many endings and children will have to think about what the actual conclusion means.

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What I loved most about the book was the history in the back. Readers learn about e-toki which means “picture-explaining” and kamishibai which means “paper theater.” Children learn about the importance of these picture stories from Japan and why they were started in the first place. This is a powerful picture book with detailed, yet simple illustrations that kids will certainly enjoy.

Star_rating_4_of_5

 


Sidewalk Circus by Paul Fleischman & Kevin Hawkes

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Blurb: “This delightful book will fascinate children and help them to see their world with new eyes.” — SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL (starred review)
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! Step right up and witness an astounding assemblage of tightrope walkers, strong men, sword swallowers, and clowns. The Garibaldi Circus is coming soon, but for those with clear eyes, the performers may already be in the ring. So get ready to sharpen your vision and look very closely — a show like you’ve never seen is about to begin! The creators of WESLANDIA are back in the spotlight with a spectacular, wordless picture book that shows the transformative power of imagination.

  • Age Range: 5 – 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten – 4
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; Reprint edition (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076362795X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763627959

My Review

This picture story begins in the city streets with regular everyday people going about their day while observing others around them. The Garibaldi Circus will soon be coming to the city, but what’s really happening in the shadows might be more interesting than you think. Children will notice that our ordinary lives are more interesting than we think and all we need to do is pay attention to what’s happening around us.

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We enjoyed the book and ended up starting it over twice. You really have to pay attention to the shadows to see what’s going on. It’s a really unique book and we loved the illustrations.

Star_rating_4_of_5

 

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books – Birdsong – The Adventures of Polo – Sidewalk Circus”

Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books – David Wiesner – Leo Timmers – Matthew Cordell

 

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I have three new wordless picture books to share this week! I hope that everyone who has children in their lives will get to read a few wordless picture books with them this year. It’s such a joyous experience! You might find a few of these interesting.


Tuesday by David Wiesner

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Blurb: A Caldecott classic celebrating twenty years in print.

David Wiesner received the 1991 Caldecott Medal for Tuesday. In the years that followed, he went on to receive two more Caldecotts, and Tuesday went on to sell half a million copies in the United States and to be published in a dozen foreign countries. Now, with remarkable advances in the technology of color reproduction, the original artwork for Tuesday is being reproduced anew, for an edition even more faithful to the palette and texture of David Wiesner’s watercolor paintings. The whimsical account of a Tuesday when frogs were airborne on their lily pads will continue to enchant readers of all ages.

My review

David Wiesner is a favorite as you know from some of my previous reviews. He never ceases to amaze me and this book is such a beautiful and magical addition to our collection.

The story begins in the early evening on a Tuesday and all is quiet at the pond. All of a sudden, the frogs begin to levitate on their lily pads and travel into a nearby town. They visit a woman watching TV, a man having a snack, and a dog running through a yard.

The only text in the book is the indication that it’s Tuesday with the time. Children love the watercolor illustrations and their imaginations can run wild with this story because it’s surreal.

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The idea of frogs traveling on lily pads is so magical and mysterious. How did they do it, and will they be back again next Tuesday?

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Continue reading “Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books – David Wiesner – Leo Timmers – Matthew Cordell”

This Week’s Children’s Books – Despicable Me 3 – Out of Wonder Poems – Luna’s Red Hat – Sleep Like a Tiger and more…

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I have a handful of children’s books to share with you this week and hope you’ll enjoy my reviews for them below. As always, if you’d like to add them on Goodreads, just click the cover to be redirected.


Despicable Me 3 – Agnes Loves Unicorns by Universal

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Blurb: The Minions are back! Join your favorite yellow friends, along with Agnes, Edith, and Margo, on a new, hilarious adventure in this beautiful hardcover picture book that is based on the highly anticipated blockbuster movie Despicable Me 3!

Agnes has two lifelong dreams:
One is to be adopted into a loving family (completed!) and the other is to have a pet unicorn. Explore Agnes’s love of unicorns inside this lovely picture book–and join her as she goes on her biggest adventure yet–to capture a unicorn!

  • Age Range: 5 – 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool – 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: LB Kids; Mti edition (May 23, 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316507474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316507479

My review

I was surprised when we first started reading Agnes Loves Unicorns because the story goes all the way back to the beginning of the first “Despicable Me” movie with the girls still in their orphan home. Agnes dreams of having a family and a pet unicorn too.

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Her first dream comes true and she’s adopted by Gru. Then, she gets her very own stuffed unicorn, but soon learns that she must make a sacrifice for her family. She decides its time to find a real life unicorn and the adventure begins.

We loved the full color pages in this picture book. It’s easy to read and perfect for all children because it’s told in chronological order from the first movie. I’m going with 4 stars on this one because it felt choppy at times.

Star_rating_4_of_5


Luna’s Red Hat by Emmi Smid

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Blurb: It is a beautiful spring day, and Luna is having a picnic in the park with her family, wearing her Mum’s red hat. Luna’s Mum died one year ago and she still finds it difficult to understand why. She feels that it may have been her fault and worries that her Dad might leave her in the same way. Her Dad talks to her to explain what happened and together they think about all the happy memories they have of Mum.

This beautifully-illustrated storybook is designed as a tool to be read with children aged 6+ who have experienced the loss of a loved one by suicide. Suicide always causes shock, not just for the family members but for everyone around them, and children also have to deal with these feelings. The book approaches the subject sensitively and includes a guide for parents and professionals by bereavement expert, Dr Riet Fiddelaers-Jaspers. It will be of interest to anyone working with, or caring for, children bereaved by suicide, including bereavement counsellors, social workers and school staff, as well as parents, carers and other family members.

  • Age Range: 6 – 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 – 4
  • Hardcover: 34 pages
  • Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers; Ill edition (April 21, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849056293
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849056298

My review

This story begins with Luna, a little girl who lost her mother to suicide a year ago and is still dealing with anger and sadness. Her dad tries to help her understand that her mother’s suicide wasn’t anybody’s fault, and it wasn’t her mother’s fault either. She has lots of questions she needs answered and her dad is there to help her through.

Suicide is something you hear about often and many have experienced first hand with a family member or friend. It’s never easy and explaining it to children can be challenge as they have many questions in their little heads.  Why? How? Didn’t they love me? It’s never easy to explain or understand, even as an adult.

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In the past, I lost a friend to suicide. Recently, the death of Chris Cornell became known to my family. I’ve been listening to Chris since I was a young teen and his death hit me hard. My kids, knowing who he is, had questions as well. They didn’t understand. It’s hard to explain to them, especially when they start asking questions about how he did it. Help for parents is found in the back of the book as a bereavement specialist writes to briefly explain how to handle these questions from children.

I found the book very helpful. I thought the illustrations were powerful with showing the emotions of the characters and I believe this book would be good for many parents, teachers, counselors, and children dealing with a loss due to suicide.

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Continue reading “This Week’s Children’s Books – Despicable Me 3 – Out of Wonder Poems – Luna’s Red Hat – Sleep Like a Tiger and more…”

Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books

 

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Lights Out by Arthur Geisert

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I came across this wordless picture book and had to get it because I love Arthur Geisert’s pig stories and illustrations. If you visit my wordless picture book posts, you probably remember the book The Giant Seed that I reviewed awhile back. You can see that one by clicking HERE.

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The story begins with one page of text about a poor little piglet who is told by his parents that the lights must be out by eight o’clock. Little piglet begins to wonder how in the world he’s going to get that light to shut off after he falls asleep, rather than before. He has a big imagination and puts it to work. He devises a plan that includes an assortment of contraptions working together with the goal to turn the light off after he’s fallen to sleep. He uses a series of Dominoes, balls, bats, water, toys and pretty much anything he can use to make his plan work.

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The etched illustrations are very colorful and detailed. It’s so much fun for kids to see his experiment in action as they turn from page to page. Will it work for piglet? Follow along in the story to find out!

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Continue reading “Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books”

Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books

 

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I’m back this Wednesday with three more wordless picture books for you guys. I had to take a few weeks off from this post because I was running out of books! I’m pleased with these and hope you’ll enjoy them along with the children in your life too.

To add these on Goodreads, just click the cover and you’ll be redirected.

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson & Sydney Smith

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In this picture book, a little girl takes a walk through the city with her father and while on the journey, she decides to start collecting little wildflowers she discovers along the way. Her father is busy doing his own thing and is quite distracted. By the time they’re about ready to head home, she has collected a beautiful bouquet of flowers. What she decides to do with the flowers on her way back home is touching. Follow along in this beautiful picture book to see how sweet, caring, and creative she can be.

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The story is touching and will help children understand the importance of giving and thinking about others. The illustrations were eye catching with the majority of the pages being black and white with splashes of color throughout. It’s definitely a keeper.

Star_rating_4_of_5

 

Continue reading “Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books”

An Interview with Bret Witter – Author of Dewey – Monument’s Men – Until Tuesday and more…

Bret Witter is an author of many books including 8 New York Times bestsellers including The Monument’s Men, Stronger (Jeff Bauman’s story), Dewey, Until Tuesday and more. He’s a full-time professional writer. Children recognize Bret Witter from reading about Dewey, the famous library cat in these popular children’s books.

 

Adult cat lovers can read about Dewey in these New York Times bestselling books…

 

I recently read Until Tuesday, Tuesday Tucks Me in, and Tuesday Takes Me There.

These stories are about Luis Carlos Montalván, an Iraq war veteran and his service dog Tuesday. To see my original reviews for Until Tuesday, Tuesday Tucks Me In and Tuesday Takes Me There, please click the links below.

Luis Carlos Montalván – A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him

Tuesday’s Promise and Tuesday Takes Me There by Luis Carlos Montalván

I was lucky to get an interview with this author to ask him some questions about himself and a few about the book Until Tuesday. You can see the Q&A with the author below.

 

Continue reading “An Interview with Bret Witter – Author of Dewey – Monument’s Men – Until Tuesday and more…”

Tuesday’s Promise and Tuesday Takes Me There by Luis Carlos Montalván

Many of you have probably seen my previous post regarding Luis & Tuesday. I’ve now finished the last two books and will have my reviews posted below. I’ve been in contact with Lu Picard at ECAD and found out that every Tuesday, they post updates on their Facebook page regarding Tuesday and what he’s doing now. I was so excited to learn this and I have the link below for those that would like to take a look.

I feel like after reading these books that I’ve been on an adventure with Luis & Tuesday and don’t want it to end. All four of these books are beautiful and I hope that more people will read them. The children’s books are wonderful as well. If you’d like to see my previous posts on Until Tuesday and Tuesday Tucks Me In, you can click HERE. 

Tuesday’s Promise by Luis Carlos Montalván & Ellis Henican

31932889Tuesday’s promise is the final book written about Luis Montalván and his service dog, Tuesday. I recently read the previous book Until Tuesday. One nice thing about this book is that people who haven’t read Until Tuesday can go right into this one as he covers his story again for new readers. I didn’t mind the repetition at all and it never became boring to me.

I found this second book to be even more heartbreaking. I already knew the outcome beforehand, but there was so much more that happened with Luis from the last book until now. Luis, broken by war, became even more courageous and started traveling more and putting himself out there for others who needed him including the wounded, those suffering from PTSD, and others. As he healed even more, he wasn’t 100 percent, but he was changing and learning to live his life in the best way possible, even with the trials and tribulations of his mental illness and injuries. The most heartbreaking part of the book for me was chapter 22, thinking about aging Tuesday. Luis had said more than once that he would outlive Tuesday. Let’s face it, dogs don’t live as long as humans do. It seemed as if he was having a difficult time coping with the thoughts of losing Tuesday and I wonder if this was something he just couldn’t take.

“When it happens, it will feel like a piece of my heart has been ripped out and handed to me. You’re never supposed to see your heart. It’s in your chest. Being handed your own heart is a thoroughly unnatural experience, so vulnerable. But it will be real, and nothing in the world can change it.”

I think about my own dogs who are considered family and the thought of losing them makes me very sad, even though I understand this is part of life. The thought of Luis losing Tuesday is almost unfathomable because Tuesday is the reason Luis was able to live again. He helped him heal and was his best friend for many years. You can feel the emotion and fear Luis is experiencing as the words pour out of him in the book.

As far as the writing and structure, the book is written well just like the first, the added photos were great, and I appreciated the afterward by Ellis Henican. It was, for the most part, told in chronological order this time. I loved the title, and readers will learn about the true meaning of the title as they read on in the book.

If you haven’t read about Luis & Tuesday yet, I suggest you read this book, or read them all. I can’t even express how much this story has touched me. I even enjoyed the children’s books. I’ve spent the last few weeks living and breathing Luis and Tuesday and they’ve been on my mind a lot. It’s a story I’ll never forget. I’m sad that the journey has ended, but I know that Luis is in a better place and I pray that he is at peace.

*Our veterans are important-they need our support, and these service dogs like Tuesday are integral in order for them to carry on with life.*

stars

 


Blurb

Luis and Tuesday are winning hearts again. With his captivating New York Times bestseller Until Tuesday, Iraq War veteran Luis Carlos Montalván furthered America’s conversation about the need to care for first responders suffering from the effects of PTSD, especially highlighting the near-miraculous benefit of service dog companionship.

Now, in this spectacular follow-up, Luis and Tuesday rescue a forgotten Tuskegee airman, battle obstinate VA bureaucrats and bring solace for troubled war heroes coast-to-coast. All this, while Luis’ personal battle intensifies; while Tuesday has helped him make immense mental strides, the chronic pain of his injuries threaten to leave him wheelchair-bound. In a grave decision, Luis opts to amputate his leg, and learn how to live with a prosthetic.

As Luis regains his athleticism, 10-year-old Tuesday enters new phase in life; due to his growing age he will soon need to retire. Together, these two friends begin the tender process of welcoming a new puppy into their pack. SINCE TUESDAY is an inspiring story with an unforgettable message about love, service, and teamwork.

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Continue reading “Tuesday’s Promise and Tuesday Takes Me There by Luis Carlos Montalván”

Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books

I picked up three new wordless picture books this week. I can’t express enough about how much I LOVE viewing books like these with children. It really makes them think and use their imagination.

If you’d like to add any of these on Goodreads, just click the title in the review…

Carl’s Christmas by Alexandra Day

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Carl’s Christmas is a story about a dog named Carl and a sweet little baby. Carl is left to be responsible for the baby on Christmas Eve and they go on a little adventure together. This book has text on the very first page and the rest of the book is strictly pictures.

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What I liked about the story was the idea of a dog taking care of a baby. It’s unrealistic, but so adorable. Carl knows how to care for the baby and their adventure consists of strolling around town visiting stores, carolers, and finally a visit with Santa.

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We really enjoyed the classic painted illustrations and couldn’t wait to find out how the story would end. Follow along to see if Carl receives a gift of his own this year.

4-stars

 


Sector 7 by David Wiesner

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Sector 7 by David Wiesner is one of the most imaginative wordless books I’ve read. A boy takes a school trip to the Empire State Building and winds up taking a whole different trip to Sector 7, a cloud dispatch station in the sky. He’s taken there by a little cloud who becomes his friend. He has ideas of his own for what he thinks clouds should look like and he isn’t afraid to share them.

Children will love this picture book as it’s easy to follow with beautiful illustrations. We loved it and talked about it for quite a bit of time. We were surprised to see this author again as we recently read Free Fall. This is definitely a keeper.

stars


Continue reading “Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books”

Luis Carlos Montalván – A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him

Last week I came across a children’s book titled, Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between a Soldier and a Service dog. I was intrigued as I’d never heard this story before. After reading it and falling in love with Tuesday, I had to learn more about him and his owner. I checked out the author’s page on Goodreads and saw that he co-wrote a few other books about Tuesday and couldn’t wait to read them. I just finished reading Until Tuesday and you can read both of my reviews for these books below.

18465502.jpgTuesday Tucks me In is a true story about a service dog and his owner, Luis. The story is told from Tuesday’s point of view as he explains their typical day together in NYC.

“Luis is a disabled veteran. He went to war, and he came back home in so much pain that he couldn’t live a normal life. So I do tasks for him. I even sleep with him which helps control his nightmares.”

Luis has issues like PTSD that cause him to have flashbacks. He doesn’t like crowds or being too close to people and Tuesday has the training to keep him calm and collected. He’s exceptionally smart and senses when Luis is having issues by feeling his heartbeat-he can tell when a panic attack is about to happen. They do everything together and are inseparable. They take care of each other and they even pray together.

I enjoyed the end note from Luis which explains more about service dogs and the organization that trains them. This book will help children understand roles that service dogs play as well as an understanding about people with disabilities. They will also gain insight into the sacrifices that people make for their country. I loved it.

stars


 


Until-Tuesday-Book-Cover.jpgI recently read Tuesday Tucks Me In which was the first time I’d heard about Luis and Tuesday. After seeing that he co-wrote more books on Tuesday, I couldn’t wait to read more. Until Tuesday was just the book I was looking for to to gain insight into the relationship he built with Tuesday, his service dog, while learning more about Luis and his experiences in the military and after.

The book begins with Tuesday and describes his training and first few years of his life before he met Luis. He started his training at just 3 days old and spent time in a prisoner puppy training program as well as ECAD. Tuesday made bonds with a few different people that he had to let go. This made him sensitive and he’d developed issues getting close with people.

Luis, a captain in the U.S. Army, had multiple tours in Iraq and received awards including two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, and the Combat Action Badge. During the time he was stationed at a border crossing at Al-Waleed, he was injured after an attack by two men that left him with multiple injuries including a traumatic brain injury. After 17 years of service he finally came back to the U.S., and he had a hard time adapting to civilian life. He was suffering from PTSD, anxiety, flashbacks, you name it.

“This is especially true for PTSD. Most soldiers spend years denying they have it, or being told by loved ones it’s all in their heads. It is in their heads, but it’s a real wound nonetheless. Even if they accept the diagnosis, most veterans assume PTSD is temporary. I’m going to beat this, they say. In a year, I’ll be fine. Everyone knows you don’t grown back a leg that’s been blown off by an IED, but everyone assumes you can heal a brain that’s been scarred. You can’t. You can restore trust. You can reconnect with the world. You can live a full life. But the experience is with you forever.”

He also had a balance disorder that caused him to have horrible migraines as well as vertigo which resulted in easy falling. The trauma and violence of war were still upon him and the future was looking Grimm for Luis until he met a service dog by the name of Tuesday. Little did Luis know, Tuesday would help him live again.

I couldn’t wait for the weekend so I could read this book uninterrupted. I devoured it and it nearly tore my heart out. I was shocked at all Luis had been through and yet, he was still so courageous. He was relentless giving to his country and wanted to stay in Iraq where he felt he was needed. Once back in the U.S., even with the disabilities and troubles he experienced, he went on to obtain a masters degree. Not only that, he was involved in public speaking including appearances all over the place while dealing with grief, anger, anxiety, sorrow and a host of other emotions. I was amazed with his bravery and fell in love with the relationship between Luis and Tuesday. The work that Tuesday put in for Luis is remarkable. He never left his side. It was as if they were healing each other.

Overall, this is one of the best books I’ve read in 2017. It’s written well and kept me engaged from beginning to end. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the pictures in the back. It was nice to see Mary, Rick, Lu Picard (founder and director of ECAD where Tuesday was trained), and some of the pictures of Luis while in Iraq. Luis was someone willing to give everything he had for his country and sacrificed everything.  I’m glad that I read it and I’m reading Tuesday’s Promise next.

stars

I’m not sure why, but at around 72% of the book I decided to check out his author page again because it seemed like a fairly active page when I’d first looked at it. I wanted to see what he was doing now being that another book was just released in 2017. I happened to notice up at the top by his name that he had passed away in December 2016 at the age of 43. I was shocked and saddened and had to find out why. It turns out that he left Tuesday with some friends and committed suicide. He was found in his hotel room with drugs in his system. I just couldn’t get over the tragedy. I instantly thought of Tuesday. He had to let go of others before, but all I could think about was how bad this must’ve been for him and wonder how he’s doing now. I did read that Tuesday’s being cared for by loved ones.

Luis had Tuesday from 2008 to 2016, the majority of Tuesday’s life.  I pray that after all Luis endured, he is at peace and that Tuesday is able to find some happiness even with the loss of his best friend, Luis. Our veterans are important-they need our support and these service dogs are integral in order for them to carry on with life.

Continue reading “Luis Carlos Montalván – A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him”

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

My review

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The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires is a children’s book about a girl with an imagination and teaches about the importance of never giving up on yourself.

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A girl has a vision of creating something magnificent. She starts building things with her little dog assistant. As she builds one thing after another, she isn’t happy with any of her new creations. They just didn’t come out like she imagined they would. Disgusted, she walks away from all of her creations to take her dog for a walk and finally she realizes that there’s something great about each and every one of them.

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Children will stay engaged with the story while viewing and enjoying the colorful illustrations on a black and white background. The author does an amazing job with teaching children about the emotions that we feel and how sometimes it’s good to take a break and rehash it at a later time. I love the message that it sends and think every child should read it. This is a perfect character building book for schools and even for reading with a child.

I’d like to thank Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for sharing this book with me.

5*****

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stars


Blurb

Award-winning author and illustrator Ashley Spires has created a charming picture book about an unnamed girl and her very best friend, who happens to be a dog. The girl has a wonderful idea. She is going to make the most MAGNIFICENT thing! She knows just how it will look. She knows just how it will work. All she has to do is make it, and she makes things all the time. Easy-peasy!? But making her magnificent thing is anything but easy, and the girl tries and fails, repeatedly. Eventually, the girl gets really, really mad. She is so mad, in fact, that she quits. But after her dog convinces her to take a walk, she comes back to her project with renewed enthusiasm and manages to get it just right.

For the early grades’ exploration of character education, this funny book offers a perfect example of the rewards of perseverance and creativity. The girl’s frustration and anger are vividly depicted in the detailed art, and the story offers good options for dealing honestly with these feelings, while at the same time reassuring children that it’s okay to make mistakes. The clever use of verbs in groups of threes is both fun and functional, offering opportunities for wonderful vocabulary enrichment. The girl doesn’t just make her magnificent thing — “she tinkers and hammers and measures, she smoothes and wrenches and fiddles, she twists and tweaks and fastens.” These precise action words are likely to fire up the imaginations of youngsters eager to create their own inventions and is a great tie-in to learning about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. –Goodreads

Continue reading “The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires”

Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books

This week I have four different wordless picture books to share with you that we really enjoyed. Like most, these are all perfect wordless picture books for parent child reading and enjoyment.

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You can read on to see my reviews on each. If  you’d like to view last weeks picture books and learn some benefits to reading wordless books, you can see my previous post HERE. If you’d like to add some of these wonderful books on Goodreads, just click the title.


The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

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Blurb: Illustrated in full color, this is a wordless story. The pictures have “the hazy softness of air in snow.” A little boy rushes out into the wintry day to build a snowman, which comes alive in his dreams that night. The boy invites him home and in return is taken on a flight high above the countryside.

My review

The Snowman is a wonderful wordless book for children. The story starts with a young boy who sees the snow outside and rushes out of his home to build a snowman. As the boy sleeps, the snowman comes alive and is welcomed into the boy’s home to discover what it’s like inside. In return, the snowman will show him his home as well. A dream to be remembered forever.

This book is packed full of sketched illustrations in color. This is a beautiful Christmas book that can be read by all ages and any time of the year.

stars

Check out this short movie based on The Snowman by Raymond Briggs. It’s introduced by David Bowie!


The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert

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Blurb: In this follow up to the magnificently inventive Ice, Arthur Geisert once again charms us with his porcine world. This time his pigs must get creative when a volcano destroys their home. Fortunately they got busybefore trouble hit by planting a huge mysterious seed, for it’s the seed plus imagination, as well as a good dose of can-do spirit, that save the day! Illustrated with inventive, sensitive, and unusually lovely etchings that seem to come from an old cherished album, The Big Seed is a worthy successor to Geisert’s Ice.

Award-winning children’s book author Arthur Geisert‘s pigs are legendary in the world of children’s books. They carve ice sculptures, teach Roman numerals, create ingenious machines, and get up to all kinds of antics. Did Arthur grow up on a farm? No. He grew up in Los Angeles and claims not to have seen a pig until he was an adult. Trained as a sculptor in college, Geisert learned to etch at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. He has published just about a book a year for the past thirty years and every one of his books has been illustrated with etchings. In 1996 (as well as once previous to that) he won The New York Times Best Illustrated Award. Geisert lives in Bernard, Iowa.

My review

The Giant Seed by Arthur Geisert is a story about a community of pigs that live near a volcano. They are blessed with the arrival of a giant dandelion seed which they decide to plant and grow. Little do they know, this seed that will soon grow into a new plant just might be a life saver for them all.

We loved the author’s adorable pig illustrations. The ending was left wide open which made me think there might be another book to continue the story, but I haven’t found one yet. This is the first book we’ve read by this author and I’m definitely interested in reading more about this pig community. This one strikes up a lot of conversation!

4-stars


Here I Am by Patti Kim – Pictures by Sonia Sanchez

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Blurb: Newly arrived from their faraway homeland, a boy and his family enter into the lights, noise, and traffic of a busy American city in this dazzling wordless picture book. The language is unfamiliar. Food, habits, games, and gestures are puzzling. They boy clings tightly to his special keepsake from home and wonders how he will find his way. How will he once again become the happy, confident kid he used to be? Walk in his shoes as he takes the first tentative steps toward discovering joy in his new world. A poignant and affirming view of the immigrant experience.

Because this book is based on the author’s experience, here is some author information: Patti Kim was born in Pusan, Korea, and immigrated to the United States on Christmas of 1974 with her mother, father, and older sister. At the age of five, she thought she was a writer and scribbled gibberish all over the pages of her mother’s Korean-English dictionary and got in big trouble for it. Her scribbling eventually paid off. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Maryland. She lives with her husband and two daughters who give her plenty to write about every day.

You can visit her blog HERE

My review

Here I Am is a wordless children’s picture book of one incredibly inspiring story of a child’s immigration to the United States.

A child and his family leave their home and move into a busy city in the United States. This is difficult for him and he struggles getting used to his new life in the city. He has a new school, new house, and is surrounded by new people. In his hand he carries a keepsake from his homeland which helps him along the way. He accidentally drops it out of a window and down into the street. He realizes in order to get it back he’s going to have to go outside and explore which might just be the best thing for him.

This is a story about starting a new life and overcoming fear of the unknown. We enjoyed all the rich, detailed illustrations and the author’s note at the end.

stars


Continue reading “Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books”

Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books

I really love reading wordless picture books, especially with children. Children love them and it really sparks their imagination while giving them a break from reading. Here are a few benefits to reading wordless picture books.

Some Benefits to reading Wordless Picture Books

  • helps the reader gain an understanding of story structure
  • develops new vocabulary
  • aids in creative writing expression
  • increases vocabulary skills
  • inspires storytelling
  • helps struggling readers gain confidence
  • helps teach sequencing and narration

In this post I will highlight five wordless picture books that we read this week. You can read my reviews for each one below.


Chalk by Bill Thomson

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Chalk by Bill Thomson is a story about three little girls out and about on a rainy day. They stumble upon a T-rex in a large paved area. The T-rex has a bag in his mouth and the children soon discover that the bag contains an assortment of colored chalk. They decide to draw pictures on the pavement and their drawn pictures begin to come alive! Each child creates their own art on the pavement until another little boy shows up. He decides to draw a gigantic T-rex. Follow along in the story to see if the children can figure out what to do with this giant creation!

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The book illustrations appear animated while the children have lifelike features. The illustrations have the characteristics of creation by digital computer equipment, but they’re not.  Bill Thomson used painting techniques and each illustration is created by hand, using acrylic paint and colored pencils.

stars


Hank Finds An Egg by Rebecca Dudley

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Hank is strolling along the forest floor when he comes upon a little white egg. He’s very curious and begins searching for where the egg came from. After finding that the egg’s home is high in a tree, he must get creative to return the egg to it’s nest. Will Hank succeed?

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I was thoroughly impressed with the illustrations. Each page is a diorama of handmade creations. Rebecca Dudley creates every single item with precise detail. This is one of my favorite wordless picture books this year.

stars


Spot, the Cat by Henry Cole

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Spot, the Cat, is about to embark on an outdoor adventure when he suddenly leaps out his apartment window and into the world. Each page takes the reader on a exploration of the city and Spot is located on each page if you only look. Follow Spot’s journey through a farmer’s market, across a bridge, through a park and beyond as he weaves through the city. Spot’s owner is worried. Will he ever return?

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This is very similar to a Look and Find book in that you have to search for Spot on each page. All the illustrations are black and white and Spot is somewhere new each time. Children will spend a little time finding him as some pages are more difficult than others with trick illustrations added in. It’s a great book for conversation and children love it. I think it’s great for parent-child reading.

stars


Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

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Flashlight by Lizi Boyd is a wordless picture book highlighting a journey through the dark. A child has his flashlight and will make new discoveries in the dark while camping in the forest. There’s a lot to discover in nature if you’ll only take the time to look.

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We enjoyed the dark illustrations with the hidden objects in the stream of the light beam. The boy finds all sorts of night-time creatures, plants, trees, insects and streams which offers insight to everything that’s going on in the dark of night. Children will learn that nighttime offers the opportunity to discover nocturnal creatures while getting a calm feel of nature. This is a perfect bedtime book.

4-stars Continue reading “Wednesday’s Wordless Picture Books”

Lessons from Grandpa #1

My grandfather was a very prominent figure in my life as I was growing up. He was a teacher, school principal, and father to five children. Everyday I learned something from him whether it be something I should eat, something I should do, how I should act, or how I should think. He always had something interesting to say.

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Me and GP just before my baptism

My grandfather was a serious conservative. He lived by the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and if it is, just put some duct tape on it!” I’m not even joking. Have you seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and witnessed how Toula’s father would put Windex on everything? Well, that’s my grandfather, except with him it was simply, “Put some duct tape on it.”

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I remember one day he came home from the golf course and when he pulled up in the driveway, his car was missing the driver’s side mirror. I asked him what happened and he told me, “I think I sideswiped a truck.” I couldn’t believe it and I know that if he had that mirror in his hand, he’d be duct taping it back on.

Another repair was on his left boot. He had visited a doctor for hip pain and learned that one of his legs was longer than the other. He brainstormed about how he could fix the issue without having to wear a brace of some sort. He wound up making a platform for the bottom of his boot and duct taped it on. Voila! When the zipper broke on one of his other shoes, he taped that too. He would put duct tape on vacuum hoses, tools, shoes, furniture, and even books. He didn’t care what anyone thought either. When I was a kid I thought it was silly. Now that I’m older, I love that he was like that and wish that I could be more carefree about what people think.

The one duct taped object that I have from my grandfather is his Bible. He read his Bible every day. Once the binding started to break down, he fixed it so that he could use it for many years to come.  It’s a large print and fairly big Bible. Here’s a picture of it here with his tape repairs.

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Continue reading “Lessons from Grandpa #1”