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”

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”

Q&A With Author Carol Buckley – Founder of The Elephant Sanctuary & Elephant Aid International

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Earlier this year I read a few books about an elephant named Tarra. The first one I read was titled Tarra & Bella written by Carol Buckley. It’s a book about an elephant (Tarra) and the unlikely relationship she had with a dog named Bella at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. After reading it and learning about Tarra, Carol Buckley, and The Elephant Sanctuary, I had to learn more. I picked up Travels with Tarra, a book about Carol Buckley and Tarra before her life at the sanctuary, and Just For Elephants, another book about an elephant named Shirley who is retiring from a zoo and being moved to The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. If you’d like to see my original reviews/posts on these, you can click on the titles below.

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Tarra, an Asian elephant, was brought to America in 1974. Tarra was purchased to live at a tire store and the owner specifically purchased her in hope of increased sales. Not long after, Carol Buckley met Tarra for the first time. She instantly had an interest in Tarra and became a permanent fixture in Tarra’s cage.

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Carol began studying her and wanted to know everything about her. As time moved on, Carol began training Tarra and believe it or not, Tarra became a performer in the circus. At one point, she learned how to roller skate! Because of her talent, she made multiple appearances in movies like Annie and even popular TV shows. If you’d like to see a video of Carol and Tarra from 1984, Click HERE.

In 1995, Tarra was moved to The Elephant Sanctuary, founded by Carol Buckley. It’s an Elephant retirement sanctuary where elephants can live as they are meant to, with other elephants, and in the wild. In the beginning it started as 200 acres and progressed to over 2,700 acres of land where elephants can roam and be free. Since then, other elephants have been moved there.

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From Left: Bella, Carol, and Tarra.

Carol has been working with elephants for over 40 years and has developed new standards of care for elephants in captivity. She is no longer with The Elephant Sanctuary and founded Elephant Aid International in 2010. She remains a protector of elephants in captivity and works to ensure that they are being treated humanly.  Currently she is working in Asia with Mahouts (elephant handlers) and is helping them train elephants properly while keeping them out of chains. Carol has created multiple projects including:

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  • Elephant Foot Care – A program that helps owners and handlers understand elephant feet and the care they need to remain disease free.

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  • Programs to support and train Mahouts (Elephant Handlers) – Programs that help support Mahouts and their elephants by giving them tools, equipment, supplies and education for the care of their elephants. The training program uses Positive Reinforcement Target Training (PFTT) and teaches compassionate elephant training.

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“Lack of space is the reason for most of the ailments that captive elephants are suffering from.” – Carol Buckley

 

Continue for my Q&A with Carol Buckley…

Continue reading “Q&A With Author Carol Buckley – Founder of The Elephant Sanctuary & Elephant Aid International”

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.

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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…”

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.*

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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”

Surviving Straight, Inc. Q & A with Straight Survivor Christine Flannery

I recently read a book by Cyndy Drew Etler titled, The Dead Inside. The book is about Cyndy’s experience with Straight, Inc. I’d never even heard of Straight until I read this book. You can see my original post on The Dead Inside which will soon contain a Q&A with the author and  you can also see the trailer for the documentary/movie on Straight by clicking HERE.

I found this story to be incredibly disturbing and as I began searching online, I found countless cases regarding kids who were abused in this program. These programs at one point were supported by members of government including Nancy Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

After my research I met Christine Flannery, a Cincinnati Straight Survivor who was in the program from 1984-1986. You can read her story on her website by clicking HERE. I was able to speak with Christine about her experience at Straight. You can learn more about Straight and see the Q&A with Christine Flannery below.

What is Straight, Inc?

Straight, Inc. (1976-1993) publicly claimed to rehabilitate teenage drug users by using tough love and Alcoholics Anonymous principles. Straight, Inc. provided NO professional counseling: Straight, Inc.’s “treatment model” relied exclusively on “positive peer pressure” from unprofessional staff (program graduates) and from the teenage clients. Straight, Inc. claimed to have an astronomically high success rate and was supported by both the Reagan and Bush administrations. However, Straight, Inc. did not publicly reveal what many survivors will tell you. imagesi34er5667777zer.jpgThe REAL Straight, Inc. was a facility that used coercive thought reform (aka mind control, brainwashing), public humiliation, sleep & food deprivation, extremely harsh confrontational tactics, kidnapping, isolation and emotional, mental, psychological, verbal and physical abuse to forcibly break us down then remold us in the Straight, Inc. image. Straight, Inc. also operated in secrecy, just like a cult (Straight, Inc. has been listed on at least 2 cult expert websites). No outsiders were ever permitted to know what really went on. Straight’s rules and our fear of harsh punishment prevented us from talking to outsiders or from reporting abuses.- From Christine’s website

Here’s a video that Christine put together regarding Straight, Inc.

As many as 50,000 kids were in the Straight program, Straight, Inc.  is the biggest violator of human rights and civil liberties that this country has ever seen.  There are accounts of food and sleep deprivation, making kids soil their pants, beatings, spitting in kids faces, and marathon sessions where teenagers would be yelled at by many other kids for long periods of time.  Children were forbidden from reading any material including religious books.  Conditions were so deplorable that kids had to be watched 24/7, even as they wiped themselves on the toilet (reminiscent of Nazi concentration camps where Jews were made to defecate publicly like cats and dogs) to make sure they did not commit suicide.   Under such deplorable and humiliating conditions many kids resorted to carving on their bodies with a fingernail, piece of broken chair, or whatever else they could find just as a caged animal gnarls at an open sore. –From the Medical Whistleblower Advocacy Network. 

Straight, Inc. was also renamed…

As Christine mentions on her website, Straight, Inc. became Kids Helping Kids, Pathway Family Center, Life, Growing Together, KIDS (of North Jersey, El Paso, etc.), SAFE, Alberta Adolescent Recovery Center (AARC), and others. Even though most of these spin offs have been shut down, there are still similar programs for troubled teens that follow the same tactics as Straight.

In this video below regarding KIDS, which is basically the same program renamed after Straight, you will see how teens that were once in the program themselves became the counselors working with kids that have been brought into the program. These kids themselves are considered the professional staff.

Here’s another one about SAFE, another renamed Straight program. The video is old, but worth watching…

-Part 2-

Continue reading to see the Q&A with Christine Flannery…

 

Continue reading “Surviving Straight, Inc. Q & A with Straight Survivor Christine Flannery”

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.

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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.

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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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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”

This Week’s Children’s Book Favorites

This week I came across some great children’s books and can’t wait to share them with you. You can see all of my reviews below. If you want to add them on Goodreads, just click the cover.

The Bear Report

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This is such a cool book that teaches kids about polar bears in a fun way. It reminded me so much of The Polar Bear by Jenni Desmond.

Sophie has to do a book report on polar bears and all she can come up with is that they’re big, mean, and they eat things. After a visit with a real polar bear who takes her on a journey through its habitat, she learns much more.

The illustrations are amazing and the story is engaging and educational.

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The Secret Life of a Snowflake: An Up-Close Look at the Art and Science of Snowflakes

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The Secret Life of a Snowflake has to be one of the most beautiful children’s science books I’ve seen. The author, Dr. Kenneth Libbrecht, is a professor of physics and studies crystals. Not only does the book contain many photographs of Dr. Libbrecht’s snowflake finding’s, it also teaches facts about them. Many of these facts I never knew as an adult which makes this a book for everyone. Some of them include:

-Why is snow the color white?
-How are snowflakes made?
-Why are they all so different?
-Why do snowflakes all have 6 branches?

The author even covers the different states of water, clouds, the birth of a snowflake, and provides a pattern for cutting your own paper snowflake.

This is a wonderful book that would be perfect for applying in a science curriculum for kids. If you simply can’t wait to read this book, you can visit his website at www.snowcrystals.com. Here you will find countless photos of close-up snowflakes. Simply Amazing.

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Dormouse Dreams

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Dormouse Dreams is a children’s book about a little dormouse who is hibernating for the winter. There are so many things happening out in the snow. The fox will ski, the chickadees chitter, and the snow piles high, but the little dormouse is fast asleep. He dreams of adventures with his little dormouse friend, but will she ever arrive?

Fairly short sentences and an easy read makes this book perfect for younger readers. It works well as a read aloud book too. We loved the illustrations most.

4-stars Continue reading “This Week’s Children’s Book Favorites”

Carol Buckley’s Elephant Stories

I few months ago I read a book about Tarra the elephant and the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. I recently read two more books by Carol Buckley and one of them covers Tarra’s life before she was sent to the Elephant Sanctuary. The other discusses a different elephant’s journey. You can see my reviews for both books below. If you’d like to see the original post on Tarra and Bella, you can click HERE.

Travels with Tarra by Carol Buckley:

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My review

Carol Buckley is the founder of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. In this book she talks about Tarra, the Asian elephant who was brought to America in 1974. Tarra was purchased to live at a tire store and the owner specifically purchased her in hope of increased sales. It was sad reading just the first page of this book because you start to realize the horror of a baby elephant being torn away from its mother in the wild and the loss of security that Tarra will now experience.

The story takes us through Tarra’s journey and how Carol Buckley meets her for the very first time. She instantly had an interest in Tarra and became a permanent fixture in Tarra’s cage. Carol began studying her and wanted to know everything about her. Children will learn about how Tarra learned how to skate, how Carol begins training her, and how she becomes part of the circus making her famous. Readers will also learn about Tarra’s relationships that she had with other elephants and dogs before her arrival at the Elephant Sanctuary.

The photography in this book is amazing and insightful. I learned so much more about Tarra that I never knew before. She had many  experiences and relationships in her life.  I would recommend this book to anyone who has a love for elephants or just want to know more about Tarra.

This book does have a series of links and information for classroom use.

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Here’s a video of Tarra at the Elephant Sanctuary. She can really make some different sounds!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsHz2v2Bi9U Continue reading “Carol Buckley’s Elephant Stories”

Toby by Margaret Wild

I picked up a few more Margaret Wild books this week. She’s one of my favorite children’s book authors and this one really touched me. I seem to be picking some really emotional children’s books here lately. You can read my review below and see some author information as well.

My Review:

Toby by Margaret Wild is a book about a family dealing with an elderly dog named Toby. The book starts out explaining Toby at the age of fourteen and how he’s been big sister Sara’s dog his whole life. Sara is twelve now and is having a hard time dealing with the fact that old Toby just can’t do what he used to. She’s getting older too and dealing with her own stress at school, etc. It’s hard for her younger brothers to understand her as well. The children wonder why Toby can’t live forever.

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This has to be one of the most emotional children’s books I’ve read this year. The story feels genuine and anybody that’s gone through it can understand how difficult it is to say goodbye. Dogs become family and it’s hard to let them go. This story highlights the dynamics of a family dealing with loss. Each one of them deals with it differently.

stars Continue reading “Toby by Margaret Wild”

What a Waste: Where Does Garbage Go? by Claire Eamer

What a Waste: Where Does Garbage Go? is a book that teaches everything you want or need to know about garbage.

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I’m really amazed at how thorough this book is. There are so many facts even adults can learn here. The reading is probably best for older children as the book is jam-packed full of information. It covers:

-Where garbage goes
-How it’s stored
-Recycling
-Composting
-Statistics
-Smart people with smart ideas
-What we put down the drain including sewer information
-Garbage we create in the growing of crops and manufacturing process
-Problems with plastic and another big one we don’t think about-electronics
-Future plans including turning waste into energy
-Other countries and how they deal with garbage
-Greenhouse gases from trash

The book helps children understand that foods aren’t necessarily bad because of the date on the packaging. I think this is so important because best by/sell by dates and expiration dates mean different things that kids might not understand. The fact that a third of our food is tossed out yearly is alarming!

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This is a book I want to keep on my shelf. Every school should have this available for their students. I could easily see this in a classroom setting spanned out over a 4-week course. It’s just an amazing book…

stars Continue reading “What a Waste: Where Does Garbage Go? by Claire Eamer”

Children’s book Author Margaret Wild

Margaret Wild is one of my favorite children’s authors. I love the stories she writes up for children. Below you’ll find some information about Margaret Wild and learn about some of my favorite books by this author including my reviews. My hope is that every child will get the chance to enjoy some of Margaret Wild’s books.

Margaret Wild grew up in South America and moved to Australia in 1972. She worked as a journalist and a book editor and now writes books. Since then she’s written over 70 books for children. Margaret has also published two novels titled One Night and Jinx which are both books about the troubles and anxieties that teenagers can become overwhelmed with during their school life, in relationships and growing up.

Margaret wrote her first book in 1984 and it’s titled There’s a Sea in my Bedroom. 

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My Review:

David doesn’t like water and is afraid of the sea, but he loves to collect shells. One day he comes across a special conch shell and learns that he can hear the sea when he puts it up to his ear. At home that evening there’s no limit to David’s imagination. Follow along in the story with David and learn how he overcomes his fear of the sea.

I enjoyed looking at the illustrations and seeing how the story unfolds. The story sends a wonderful message to children about how they are capable of conquering their fears.

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4-stars


Here are some of my other favorite children’s book by Margaret Wild: Continue reading “Children’s book Author Margaret Wild”

T4 by Ann Clare Lezotte

I picked up this little book titled T4 by Ann Clare Lezotte at a book sale a while back and finally got a chance to read it. I wanted to see if it was age appropriate for a student as I wasn’t sure of the actual content provided considering the subject matter. T4 is a fiction novel in verse and is based on the truth about the T4 program during WWII.

You can read my review below and see some information about the author as well…

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Blurb: It is 1939. Paula Becker, thirteen years old and deaf, lives with her family in a rural German town. As rumors swirl of disabled children quietly disappearing, a priest comes to her family’s door with an offer to shield Paula from an uncertain fate. When the sanctuary he offers is fleeting, Paula needs to call upon all her strength to stay one step ahead of the Nazis. Continue reading “T4 by Ann Clare Lezotte”

Favorite Wordless Picture Books

It’s no secret that I LOVE wordless picture books. Here are some reasons why…

  1. They can promote more discussion than books with words do.
  2. For early readers, it allows them to read books on their own while retelling the story and developing new vocabulary.
  3. They help children with story structure and comprehension.
  4. They can inspire children and help develop writing skills when they write the story out on paper as to how they interpreted it.

There are so many wonderful reasons to read wordless picture books. Sometimes it’s nice to just relax and visually appreciate these books. It can give early readers a break from reading words as well.

This post highlights some of my favorite picture books I’ve read recently. You can see them below along with my reviews…


23309640.jpgFloat by Daniel Miyares is a wordless picture book about a boy and his paper boat. It’s a rainy gloomy day and he decides to head out to play in the water with his paper boat. Follow along in the story to see how his day with his paper boat unfolds.

The illustrations are dark and rich throughout most of the book. One thing I love about picture books is how they make you think and then you want to restart the book all over again. This book reminded me of how much I loved rainy days as a kid. We were pleased with the ending.

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Our absolute favorite parts in the book were the inside covers that included instructions for making a paper airplane and a paper boat. 4 stars

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Continue reading “Favorite Wordless Picture Books”

The Lost History of Stars by Dave Boling

From Goodreads: In turn-of-the-century South Africa, fourteen-year-old Lettie, her younger brother, and her mother are Dutch Afrikaner settlers who have been taken from their farm by British soldiers and are being held in a concentration camp. It is early in the Boer War, and Lettie’s father, grandfather, and brother are off fighting the British as thousands of Afrikaner women and children are detained. The camps are cramped and disease ridden; the threat of illness and starvation are ever present. Determined to dictate their own fate, Lettie and her family give each other strength and hope as they fight to survive amid increasingly dire conditions.o58600l3.jpg

Brave and defiant, Lettie finds comfort in memories of stargazing with her grandfather, in her plan to be a writer, and in surprising new friendships that will both nourish and challenge her. A beautiful testament to love, family, and sheer force of will, The Lost History of Stars was inspired by Dave Boling’s grandfather’s own experience as a soldier during the Boer War. Lettie is a figure of abiding grace, and her story is richly drawn and impossible to forget.


My Review:

The Lost History of Stars by Dave Boling is a powerful and shocking story about a family during The Second Anglo-Boer War during the early part of the 20th century in Africa. It’s a work of historical fiction inspired by true events.

Parts of the book were difficult for me to read as the horror of reality sets in. It’s unfathomable the scads of women and children that were effected, mainly due to disease. It truly was a war in opposition to children and a true picture of what it’s like when war comes to your door.

This is another book I’d recommend for older students to read. If our young generation aren’t educated on these tribulations in history, they’ll be forgotten.

I’m so glad I came across this book. I look ahead to reading more works by this author. Highly recommend this book to all.

Thanks to Netgalley for sharing a copy with me. 5 Stars

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Continue reading “The Lost History of Stars by Dave Boling”

Healing Lyme Disease Naturally: History, Analysis, and Treatments by Wolf Storl

Healing Lyme Disease Naturally  by Wolf D. Storl is a book about Lyme Disease and how to achieve a total cure naturally.

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I picked this up because we recently had a pediatric case in our family that needed attention. After visiting multiple doctors, we were told the only way to battle the disease was to take a 21 day course of antibiotics and retest a few months later. We noticed even after the antibiotics, there was still something brewing as symptoms would occasionally reappear. After researching myself and reading this book, I believe now that antibiotics are not the answer for everyone. People react differently to the disease.

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What I love about this book is that the author has a story to tell about his own experience and how he treated himself. He covers many methods of natural cures including Chinese Medicine, spiritual guidance, and plant use to name a few. There’s a section pertaining to just the healing plants with descriptions for each. Many of the plants Mr. Storl deems useful are plants that we already had growing in our gardens. Typical plants like teasel, yarrow, elderberry, coneflower, and lemon balm are just some of the plants used as powders and teas. The book also covers the history of the disease, ticks and the different diseases they transmit, and information on bacteria and how it survives. It offers methods of protecting yourself from ticks, and how to keep your body healthy with diet and exercise. Continue reading “Healing Lyme Disease Naturally: History, Analysis, and Treatments by Wolf Storl”

Eugenie Clark – The Shark Lady

9cdeab_15d46f858e57405fa4c03417eb253416.jpgWe recently came across a few books on Eugenie Clark, the ocean scientist who had a fondness for sharks. We enjoyed learning about her as her story was so inspiring.

From a very young age, Eugenie was told that her dreams of studying sharks and becoming a scientist were not possible. She was told by many that she should do something else with her life. Fortunately, Eugenie did follow her dreams and because of her courage we know more about sharks. People once believed that sharks were stupid and dangerous. Eugenie encouraged people to look at sharks differently.

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Throughout her life she received many awards and honors for her work and made many discoveries, including new species of fish. She was a scuba gear pioneer and conducted scads of submersible dives, traveling around the world and leading more than two hundred field research expeditions. She worked on television specials and even helped with creating the very first IMAX film.

Eugenie Clark continued diving well into her 90’s and conducted her last dive in 2014.

Eugenie wrote two books, Lady with a Spear (1953) and The Lady and the Sharks (1969), which I’m looking forward to reading. She also wrote well over one hundred scientific articles.  Continue reading “Eugenie Clark – The Shark Lady”

Tarra & Bella-An Unlikely Friendship

I love a good animal story and this one has to be one of the most touching animal friendship stories I’ve read. It’s a story about an elephant named Tarra, and a dog named Bella.

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Tarra in her earlier life used to be a circus performer and believe it or not, was the only roller-skating elephant in the entire world. Because of her talent, she made multiple appearances in movies like Annie and even popular TV shows.

In 1995, Tarra was moved to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. It’s a place that simulates the wild, where elephants can retire. The sanctuary that started on roughly 200 acres of land has now grown to over 2,700 acres for elephants to enjoy and live in peace. You can learn more about the Elephant Sanctuary by clicking this link:

www.elephants.com

Not long after Tarra’s arrival, it was time to pair up and find a friend. Well, this is what most elephants do, but Tarra didn’t discover a buddy like the other elephants. She was the only elephant out of the group to remain solitary, until something unusual happened.

One morning, when Tarra woke up, she saw something strange. It was a dog named Bella sleeping along her side. But, when Tarra got up, so did Bella! When Tarra started walking, Bella walked right along with her. Soon, they became inseparable.

Terra and Bella’s story begins… Continue reading “Tarra & Bella-An Unlikely Friendship”

Ivan the Gorilla (1962-2012)

I recently came across a story I find intriguing. We picked up a book called Ivan, The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla. I was shocked that I’d never learned or heard about Ivan.

Ivan was brought to Washington from the Congo in the 60’s. He was brought here with his sister Burma, IvanandBurma-B&I.jpg.838x0_q80although she passed away just a few days after arrival to the U.S. For 3 years while Ivan was young, he lived with his owners. As he grew and started to become more rambunctious, he was moved to an enclosure located in a shopping mall called B&I shopping center in Tacoma, Washington. Ivan remained here for 27 years until he was finally transferred to a zoo in Atlanta.

As I did more research, I was shocked at Ivan’s living space. It was basically a concrete enclosure which was about 40ft x 40ft. It’s no wonder animal rights groups arrived and relocated him.

In my opinion, it was easy to see how much love these people had for Ivan. They didn’t want to hurt Ivan, but they just couldn’t figure out how to give him what he needed. After watching Ivan, he seemed to be happy. He loved to paint and play, but it was thought that Ivan needed to be in a zoo enclosure, safe with other gorillas he could socialize with.  Continue reading “Ivan the Gorilla (1962-2012)”

Educating Children about the Holocaust

Why is it so important that we remember the Holocaust and how can we educate children about it so that it’s never forgotten? 

Anytime you have an atmosphere filled with hate, genocide has the potential to become a reality. We are still living in times of hate. Racism, prejudice, and cruelty to others isn’t in the past. People need to remember this hate can evolve into something much worse and a repeat of history is something we don’t want to revisit.

By introducing and educating our children about the Holocaust and other acts of cruelty, we can instill in them the importance of recognizing the difference between right and wrong. Time continues to pass and this is something we need to continue to act on now more than ever. We simply can’t pass it off like it’s a fragment of history that isn’t significant anymore. It’s crucial that we remember and reflect on it.

I’ve recently come across some wonderful children’s books to help educate about the Holocaust and WWII. You can see them below, along with my ratings. There are many other books to discover on the subject, but these are a few that I think are essential tools, some of which are newly published in 2017. Continue reading “Educating Children about the Holocaust”

Jean-Michel Basquiat – Radiant Child

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Radiant child by Javaka Steptoe, a book about artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, was awarded the Caldecott Medal as the most distinguished picture book for children earlier this year.

The book takes you through Jean-Michel’s childhood and all of his inspiration and ideas about how he wants to be an artist. He’s influenced by books, art museums and at times his mother.

We thoroughly enjoyed the story which becomes emotional at times. The illustrations were very well put together and keep the reader interested. I especially enjoyed the back biography page which has many more facts about him.

This book is the 2017 Caldecott Medal winner.

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For teens and young adults, there’s a documentary called “Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child”, which is extremely revealing and explains much more about his life. It’s excellent and worth watching for those who want to learn more about him. The documentary was directed by Tamra Davis, a friend of Jean-Michel. It’s loaded with insider interviews including Jean-Michel and gives the viewer scads of pictures of him, video of Jean-Michel working, and his art. There are also interviews with people who interacted with Jean-Michel during his career. The documentary features interviews with Julian Schnabel, Larry Gagosian, Bruno Bischofberger, Tony Shafrazi. Fab 5 Freddy, Glenn O’Brien, Maripol, Kai Eric, Nicholas Taylor, Fred Hoffman, Michael Holman, Diego Cortez, Annina Nosei, Suzanne Mallouk, and Rene Ricard, among many more. It also includes an uncut interview with the filmmaker Tamra Davis.

Continue reading “Jean-Michel Basquiat – Radiant Child”

Moonshot:The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

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BlurbSimply told, grandly shown, here is the flight of Apollo 11. Here for a new generation of readers and explorers are the steady astronauts, clicking themselves into gloves and helmets, strapping themselves into sideways seats. Here are their great machines in all their detail and monumentality, the ROAR of rockets, and the silence of the Moon. Here is a story of adventure and discovery — a story of leaving and returning during the summer of 1969, and a story of home, seen whole, from far away.

My Review:

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca is the story of the first American manned moon landing, Apollo 11 in 1969. It’s told in a simple manner and doesn’t contain too many facts for young readers.

The illustrations are very detailed and the story is written in poetic form.

From Earth to moon and back again, it’s the perfect book for young elementary readers.

For older kids, there’s the more complicated story including facts and troubles they endured on their trip toward the end. In addition, the documentary/film “Moonshot” on DVD by The History Channel, is perfect for older kids and adults. 5 stars.

stars Continue reading “Moonshot:The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca”