14 September 2014

Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood

I love describing words and this book did an excellent job describing in both illustrations and written words how this boy feels.  My little readers loved seeing the imagination in each picture and we had to stop and examine each one.  The all started coming up with descriptions of themselves, 'could jump as high as a grasshopper', 'run as fast as a horse' 'sing as a loud as a bird'.  It was sad to take this one back to the library, I may have to buy this one. :)

30 January 2014

Third Culture Kids Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock & Ruth E. Van Reken

3rd Culture Kids
In our huge world we are realizing how small it is as more and more families are moving to other parts of it.  Whether you are military, for work, missions or pleasure there are a lot of people it seems moving around the globe.  Our coming and going is fine for those who know it is temporary or are mentally prepared to adjust but what of our kids?  They adjust fine to the new culture probably because they are resilient but when they come "home" to visit family they have some 'odd' tendencies or 'say things weird'.  It is simply a reflection of the culture they have adapted to.  This book is one that was recommended to us to read as we will be doing just this very soon.  We are going to give a copy to both sides of grandparents in hopes they will read this and understand their grandchildren better, especially when they come to visit or when we Skype. 

Just wanted to recommend this resource to you parents.  Might even be a good resource for a missions pastor or pastor to read so they understand better the MKs as they are so affectionately called.

Animal Poems compiled by Jennifer Curry

I just love this book I found at a garage sale earlier this year!  I have so enjoyed the creativity of the authors of these poems.  These are just a couple examples!  It would be a great resource for homeschooling or just reading.  So many ideas of ways you can play with words!

09 August 2013

BJU Press resource

My daughter is starting 2nd grade here in just a couple weeks.  Over the summer she has read over 5 chapter books including 4 Boxcar Children, and 2 Book Links from BJU Press.  As I am trying to keep up with her hunger for books so I just purchased a bunch of books from BJU Press that I read as a child and a few new ones.  It is a trusted source for literature and I highly recommend their store.  Just a quick blurb on it, I am not employed by them or anything but have appreciated their books since I was young.

Amazing Spot What! by Nick Bryant & Rowan Summers

I had never seen this cool Find It book until recently!  I love the I Spy books but this was a little more organized and filled with things my toddler recognized.  Bright and colorful like I Spy.  I think the rhymes were very comparable also. 

Fairy Houses...Everywhere & Beyond! by Barry & Tracy Kane

 We visited Maine last year and just loved it!  We visited the L.L.Bean store and found these awesome picture books!  My daughter just flipped over the thought of making houses for bugs, fairies or her dolls.  All the different pictures have given her such great inspiration!  She takes them with her on most of our car trips and just looks through them.  We have made a fairy house out of seashells, driftwood and shells and she has made some out of sticks, leaves and flowers.  Whether you like fairies or not, these are a great way to be creative with the nature around you!

Romeo and Lou Blast Off by Derek Andrerson

My kids loved this book!  This silly polar bear and penguin have a great imagination!  I love a good book that shows imagination.  This pair goes out into the snow and builds a spaceship and then blast off into their imagination.  I love how the illustrator makes the police officer look like a shark, this children are fish and the little dog look like a mini polar bear.  I love how they end the book making a rocket out of boxes and take off...but they are on a ship headed home.

My one critic is that they use the word 'Jeesh' which in my opinion is a slang for Jesus who is my Savior so it is offensive to me. 

Overall, I think my kids liked the illustrator's work more than the authors.  They almost could have told they story without words.

22 February 2013

Come over to My House by Theo LeSieg (Dr. Seuss)

I just love Dr. Seuss. I know a lot of people say that, but let me tell you how much I love him:
Last month I came across a certain Wikipedia article that listed many of Dr. Seuss's works, and I discovered there a book I had never heard of, "Come Over to My House." It was written under the pen name Theo LeSieg, and as I soon discovered, is currently out of print.  I wondered why it ended up out of print so I checked the reviews on Amazon.com (perhaps not always the most reliable, but generally helpful for books at least.) Every single reviewer loved the book to death! Naturally my next step was to check our library, but our local system didn't have it, though it was available through inter-library loan. So what could I do? I bought it off e-bay.

This book is fabulous! Dr. Seuss covers such a wonderful variety of cultures from every corner of the globe. A few cultures I didn't even recognize. (LeAnna was pleasantly surprised to find that New Zealand's Maori culture and hot springs are represented.) Richard Erdoes illustrated the book and portrays each different house simply but distinctly.

Since "Come Over to My House" describes the houses and other aspects of cultures around the world, when my copy came I wondered if perhaps I would discover some clue as to why the book is now out of print. I assumed perhaps it contained some horrendous politically incorrect cultural stereotype.
But try as I might, I could not find anything about this book that could be offensive.  (Apparently it is out of print because some publisher out there is insane.) On the contrary, Seuss's underlying message tells us that wherever we go, we are all equal and may all be friends.

"Some houses are marble and some are just tin,
but they're all, all alike when a friend asks you in."

22 January 2013

Beating the Winter Chills

I know, I know, it is winter...I currently am up in the chilly, well bitterly cold north in Minnesota.  Wow, got to -14 last night!  So I am trying to think warm thoughts and looking ahead to summer.  My daughter is now starting to eat up books, she loves her reading class in school and she loves after school getting to put fish on her reading pond (like a reading tree but we put the name of the book on a fish to go in her pond instead of leaves on a tree).  I digress... :)  I found this blog recently that has a neat template for a summer reading log as well as some other cute reading related ideas.  I loved her bookworms label so you can put gummy worms in a bag.  She also has a list of 50 book suggestions (I do not endorse necessarily any of them).  Thought I'd give a little glimpse of summer as we brave, at least those in the north, the cold temperatures. :)


15 January 2013

Loud Emily by Alexis O'Neill

Loud Emily  tells of a little girl named Emily with a very big voice! From birth, sweet Emily's loud voice surprises and flusters her family and all those around her, but her loud voice is a part of her that she cannot seem to change. It causes nothing but trouble until one day she walks into the noisy kitchen and there finds that her loud voice can actually be helpful!  When the cook takes Emily to the wharf to buy fish, Emily takes a job on a ship requesting "Loud Help." Her voice is exactly what the ships captain needs to call out directions to his sailors over the blustery winds at sea. Emily's strong voice comes to the rescue when no other help can warn others of danger. And in the end, her parents are no longer covering their ears but are proud of their daughter for using her voice to help others in a way no one else could.

In an interview at the end of the book, the author discusses only the historical setting of the story, (a New England sea coast village,) and how important whaling was to that area. That bewildered me, as the story carries a subtle but sure message. Emily is obviously most happy being herself and helping others than when she is trying and failing to be something she was not: quiet. At first Emily is viewed by those around her as flawed, in that her voice is simply too loud. But the story takes us through the process of Emily finding a way to turn what makes her different into something useful and beneficial to others. In the end, though never stated as such, her volume is viewed as a gift.

My children both love this book, probably because I yell whenever I read Emily's lines! But someday I hope they will love embracing and using their own unique gifts to serve others, as Emily does.

Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson

Cinder Edna tells the tale of the girl living next door to Cinderella. Like Cinderella, she also is forced to work for her mean and demanding step-mother and two step-sisters. However, Cinder Edna has very different responses to her situation.  With hard work and practicality, she takes matters into her own capable hands when the ball comes along, choosing, for example, to simply take the bus to the ball instead of relying on a fairy godmother. At the ball, she meets the prince's brother, who is far more interesting to talk to than the crown prince. When the clock strikes midnight, Cinder Edna realizes she must catch the last bus, and in her haste leaves behind one of her shoes- a practical brown loafer.  Her prince comes to find her, not by trying the loafer on all the girls of the kingdom, but by asking all the Ednas in the kingdom a question only his Edna can answer. While the crown prince and Cinderella go on to lead rather dull royal lives, Edna and her prince live happily ever after working hard (together) and sharing their favorite jokes.

Although I see the point the author of Cinder Edna is trying to make, I did feel this story does somewhat of an injustice to the original Cinderella story by repainting her character as wimpy and dull. While the Cinderella in this book does indeed compare as very shallow, the original tale presents a girl up against much more difficult odds than Cinder Edna has to face, while still maintaining a sweetness of heart. As such, this book would probably be most appropriate for a child familiar with the original, and old enough to understand the differences in the setting of the story,  the humor in the contrasting Edna, and the over-all message.

The over-all message is well worth understanding. Rather than sit in the cinders and feel sorry for herself Edna takes matters into her own capable hands and makes the best of her circumstances.  The story points out elements of Edna's character, and ultimately those character points are what bring her and her "prince" together and keep them happily married in the end. Furthermore, the book's message counters the implied message of much of the princess craze of today by demonstrating that happiness is not found in the princess scene (i.e. riches and handsome guy.)

Lastly, I appreciated this book for finally addressing a particularly mystifying story-line flaw in the typical Cinderella tale: WHY didn't the Prince ever ASK Cinderella her name?!?

05 July 2012

Watch Me Throw the Ball! by Mo Willems

First of all, Mo Willems absolutely must be on your children's reading list. My children and I have liked almost all of his books so far- they are simple and fun, often revolving around the way young children actually think. Willems has written several series of children's books, but mostly in our house right now are the Elephant & Piggie books. They are usually cataloged as "early readers" because they are written at a fairly young reading level. However both of my non-readers love the books for their simplicity and humor. Munchkin Man has laughed out loud at the punch line of several of the books!

I have chosen to review Watch Me Throw the Ball! first, however, because it showcases very well another aspect of Mo Willems writing: although written for children, many of his books have a little message for the adult reader as well.

In  Watch Me Throw the Ball!, Gerald (the elephant) throws his ball, and then Piggie asks for a turn to throw. Gerald takes her request very seriously, reminding Piggie that throwing a ball takes "skill and practice" and hard work. Piggie, however, just wants to have fun! After a horrendous toss and some silly antics from Piggie, Gerald points out Piggie's poor throw, which Piggie acknowledges. But then she replies "But I had fun!" and skips happily off.

My children love the book because of Piggie's silliness. But I love the reminder to us adults: it is OK for children to just have fun, no strings attached! Certainly there is a place for learning correct techniques, etc. But if my little ones are simply enjoying the process, that too is very important.

30 May 2012

Scholastic Ideas for Reading

Here are some neat ideas of how to make reading come alive to your child that I found in an old copy of an older Scholastic's magazine Parent & Child - June/July 2011 edition:

The Magic of Stories:

  •  Read "on location" - their idea is to read a story in a location that would entice your child's imagination even more.  Read the Secret Garden or any other garden book in a garden or surrounded by flowers, even silk.  How about reading Swiss Family Robinson or a pirate book on the beach.  They even suggested to read different chapters in different spots depending on what is going on.
  • Put on a play - act out a book, have a small party where each child is assigned a character in a book, they get to dress up like that character and come over to act it out.  A great summer time activity.
  • Draw pictures from each chapter they read (non picture books of course), when they are done, they have illustrations, the book will be remembered longer because another sense was used and they even could share the story to a younger sibling who might get bored otherwise with all those words. - I love this idea, storytelling is a vanishing art and this is a great idea to spur on some great tales, they even might create their own version of the story.
Also, as I perused their site, linked above, I noticed they have a log your reading minutes challenge with prizes listed as an incentive.  GO HERE to check it out.

Just had to share these tips with you as I am constantly on the lookout to keep my reading power to my kids sharp and creative. Enjoy!


Sara Sue Learns to Yell & Tell by Debi Pearl

Sara Sue Learns to Yell & Tell is the girl version of this Yell & Tell series to help children learn to have courage to speak out against sexual predators as well as guard themselves against it.  In fun illustrations Sara Sue is teaching her little sister what she knows about this issue and she wants her sister to know the importance of yelling out against this sin.  In both books kids are encouraged to yell and not be afraid of speaking out against this sin and crime no matter how much the perpatrator encourages them not to: gifts, threats.  Kids are also told that they must speak out to protect other kids too, if they are quiet about it, how many more will have to tolerate this sinful matter.

Debi Pearl does an excellent job keeping this book moving and enticing for little ears as well as motivating them to yell and tell if they feel someone is either going to hurt them or is.  I have links to Amazon on the book cover as well as title and a link HERE to Debi Pearl's website where you can purchase them if you are interested.

Note: As stated in the review about the boy version of this book Samuel Learns to Yell & Tell, I do not agree with everything Debi Pearl writes, I believe she is too extreme in some issues that the Bible either does not state clearly or that the Bible is balanced on. 

Samuel Learns to Yell & Tell by Debi Pearl

Samuel Learns to Yell & Tell was recommended to me by a lady at a church I visited.  In this day and age in which we are raising our kids teaching them to protect themselves against sexual predators is very important.  I love how Debi Pearl writes this with such discretion and yet gets the point across.  In this book this mother not only is warning her son to protect himself from molestation but also from pornography and from general evil of making fun of which God has deemed private.  The pictures also are just so neat!  I love to see the excitement of the little boy as he shows his mother he is listening to her lesson and getting the point.  There are no naked pictures.

I ordered these books from Amazon, link on picture and title and just got them.  You can also purchase them HERE at Debi Pearl's website.  My husband and I both read them and agreed that they were material we could share with our kids as well as material they could understand clearly. 

Note: I do not agree with everything Debi Pearl writes, she is extreme in some areas that I think the Bible is more balanced on but this book is well written and well done.