Sunday, August 31, 2008
-a brand new blog design
-a RSS feed
-a whole bunch of giveaways (YAY!!!!)
-the continuation of Picture Book Saturday
I've also enrolled in the Amazon Associates program, after a lot of thought. Though I realize that Amazon needs customers like I need more books on my shelves, I am trying to find any tiny bit of income that will help offset some of the traveling costs we have accumulated over the past three months of living 4 hours from home. Amazon won't pay my rent, but it may help towards our outrageous gas bills. Just keep me in mind when you know you may want to make a purchase of one of the books I review and click through to Amazon. I'll make an itsy-bitsy portion of your purchase.
So come back each day this week and check in to see how my progress is coming. Though my new blog design may debut before Wednesday, that's the day giveaways will start. There will be at least each one, each day for awhile, so make sure you keep coming back!
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Just as a final note for today, I will not be posting many updates on Jacob on the blog, though my husband and I do send out a weekly update email to anyone interested. At this time I think we have 97 family and friends on the list, so if you would like to be added, just email me your address and we'll add you on.
Don't forget the BIG announcement tomorrow!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
This book is an must have for all library and school collections, never have I come across a better description of how the Statue of Liberty was created and the emotions it evoked in the many different people connected with her. I loved reading each page and savored the lovely illustrations. Though the size of a picture book and about the same length in pages, I think I involved myself for close to an hour while reviewing it. I really believe kids will love to read this book, especially if they’ve seen the Lady up close, and adults will enjoy it in the same way I have, savoring the facts and the illustrations alike. A lot of other bloggers have posted about this title, all positively as far as I can tell, and I'm certainly in agreement with them. Definitely a must-have!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
God Gave Us Heaven is part of author Lisa Tawn Bergen’s famous “God Gave Us” series, God Gave Us You probably being the most popular. In her own beautiful way, Bergen tells us the story of a little polar bear cub that begins asking her Papa questions about heaven. Some of the questions are difficult for Papa to answer, such as “How do we get to heaven?” and “Will I get to see you in heaven?,” though he tries to answer in the best manner that a Daddy possibly can. Little Cub is, as most children are, very curious and wants to know all she can about that great place called Heaven.
The manner in which Bergen produced such a simply written story about such a complex subject is amazing to me. I loved how innocent Little Cub was and how real her Papa’s answers were. They were given to Little Cub in a true and honest form. Papa wasn’t afraid to use phrases such as “I think,” letting his daughter and the reader know that he wasn’t trying to have exact answers.
Illustrator Laura J. Bryant did a great job as well, bringing soft, simple artwork to a beautiful story.
When God Created My Toes, written by Dandi Daley Mackall and illustrated by David Hohn is a cute rhyming story about just what God was thinking when he created each of us. Told in whimsical and playful tone, with lines such as “When God created my nose, did he know I’d sneeze in a wintry breeze? Did we kiss like Eskimos when God created my nose?”
Though definitely not serious in topic or the best in rhymes, the book is silly and fun, with great illustrations. Kids will take one look at the pages referring to God creating our hands and laugh out loud!
I think this one is a good choice for helping to explain to children that God created each part of us specifically and for a purpose, though sometimes we can have fun with each part!
My favorite choice this week, story-wise, is another by the team of Mackall and Hohn, titled God Loves Me More Than That. Hohn’s great illustrations accompany the telling of just how much God loves us…much more than we could ever think! The reader gets to see God loving us higher than the moon, deeper than a treasure chest at sea, and louder than a cheering football crowd.
If looked at critically, the writing may not be considered fabulous and the librarian side of me probably wouldn’t be recommending it to those parents that want an excellent picture book to teach about God, but in my own opinion as a mom, this is a very nice telling of how God always loves us more than we could ever imagine. The mom side of me loves it, the librarian side (and critical side) thinks it’s just ok.
My final choice for this week is my favorite in the category of illustration. Fire Fish is written and illustrated by Davy Liu and part of “The Invisible Tails” series, which are all based on biblical stories and told by an animal’s perspective.
In this specific story, we meet three little fish that take on a quest to become Fire Fish, which they believe is the ultimate goal (though the Fire Fish are not what the three little fish imagine). With the help of the omnipotent Finmaker, they triumph over danger and lots of frightening moments on their journey, finally coming to the conclusion that they really don’t need to become Fire Fish after all. The three little fish realize that they were made to be the fish they are and as long as they have a home and family, they are perfectly happy.
Now, here’s my thing. Liu has worked for Disney Feature Animation, as well as Warner Bros. and you can definitely tell. His illustrations are flawless, beautiful, and almost indescribable. The underwater landscape in the book is magnificent and the fish have that quirky, silly, Disney-style to them that children will love. However…I think the story may be a bit over little one’s heads. The book is really one huge metaphor, the Finmaker being God and with His help we can all accept ourselves as we are. I just think this message is told in such a complex manner that it may be missed. It will probably need to be explained just what the Fire Fish are, just where Momma and Pappa disappear to, and who the Finmaker really is supposed to be.
That being said, if you have the time to read Fire Fish with your children and proceed to have a discussion with them about it, then it’s a great choice. Ask them questions about who they believe the Finmaker represents and what they think the three little fish are trying to accomplish on their journey. Talk about self-esteem and how God made each of us to be exactly our own and not to be like everyone else. According to the last page, the story is loosely based on the events in Exodus, so maybe bringing in the family Bible and reading through some of that specific book would be a good idea as well. In this manner, Liu’s story can be very successful, especially accompanied by such amazing illustrations. Older children can read it on their own and will be able to appreciate not only the illustrations, but also the message.
Friday, August 15, 2008
1. The last meal I had at a restaurant was a grilled veggie salad at California Pizza Kitchen. SOOO good!! I love Albuquerque restuarants.
2. Low-rise pants are something I intensely dislike. Who invented those? Seriously!
3. The full moon is beautiful. Other than that, it doesn't mean a whole lot to me.
4. It's a dry heat is one of my favorite local expressions. It's still darn hot!
5. Sometimes it's best to just smile and nod. People can be very....um...slow...but calling attention to it isn't very nice.
6. As much as I hate to admit it, the new Batman is the best movie I've seen so far this year!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to holding my baby boy, tomorrow my plans include spending the day at the hospital and Sunday, I want to be told we can be released. Not gonna happen, but it would be nice!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Listed as a young adult novel, The Hanging Woods is definitely not a book for the younger, juvenile crowd. Adult situations and language, as well as frightening images fill the pages of this book, though seem necessary for the effect Sanders is attempting to achieve. You will connect with the characters in a way that doesn't come often (the last time I felt the connection was with Liesel and Rudy in the The Book Thief, well over a year ago). Enjoyable, though heartbreakingly so, both young men and women will enjoy this possible classic-in-the-making.
Monday, August 11, 2008
The reader gets to learn about sports such as cheerleading (I’m a bit partial to that one myself), skateboarding, racing a sled dog, and snowboarding, among others, through photographs, text descriptions, trivia boxes, and sections for learning that particular sport’s “lingo.” The pages are bright and engaging, the information straight to the point, yet still interesting enough to hold a young one’s attention, and presented in the ever-popular almanac style.
It's really refreshing to see a book that focuses on sports that aren't often mentioned in the media today. Perfect timing with the Olympic Games going on! We see so much baseball and basketball, that things such as skateboarding and mountain climbing are overlooked. This would be a nice addition to school and public library shelves.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
The latest book that has followed my love of the Greek myths is a work written by Charles R. Smith Jr. and illustrated by P. Craig Russell entitled The Mighty 12: Superheroes of Greek Myth. The book is presented as almost an anthology of the different Greek Gods, what they represent, their powers, and appearance. Both the font and the illustrations are done in a recognizable comic book style format, which I'm not typically a huge fan of, but works very well in this particular book. The coverage of the mythological characters is extensive and interesting, as well as entertaining, and a good choice for adding to collections of this nature.
The Mighty 12 would be a great companion to the infamous "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series by Rick Riordan or Anne Ursu's "Cronus Chronicles."
Monday, August 4, 2008
High Dive is the story of Arden, an incredibly mixed up and lonely girl that is incredibly talented at putting on a happy face. Her father died in a car accident and her mother has recently been deployed to Iraq to fight the war, leaving Arden to take on the task of closing up the family vacation home in Sardinia. The house holds some of Arden's best memories of her family when they were still whole, together, and happy and she is having a difficult time allowing herself to begin the letting go process. While on the plane to Sardinia, she meets three girls from Texas, traveling to Paris for a vacation and Arden decides to join them, a very non-Arden thing to do. The girls learn about each other while exploring Paris, though Arden often feels like a fourth wheel. She can't decide if these girls are helping her to let go of the thoughts of her old family life or if they are only making her long for it more. By the end, not only does Arden get the answer to this question, she also learns more about herself, her strength, and her ability to grow than she ever thought possible.
The country descriptions alone will grab the reader, but Arden's fragile emotional state is the true shining star in this book. I felt connected to her immediately and wanted to know everything she knew. Strong, yet vulnerable characters that come across as beautifully lost as Arden do not come along nearly as often as we would all like, but if you pick High Dive up for yourself or a teen, you will not be sorry. I loved it and know a lot of you will as well.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Truck Stuck, written by Sallie Wolf and illustrated by Andy Robert Davies is a very cute, very simple book, with the potential to be a bit hit with the younger crowd. When a truck gets stuck under a bridge, the accident turns into a huge block party with all sorts of people, as well as trucks, getting together to watch crews try to get the truck out. The illustrations are great…and I love the lemonade stand in the background. You’ll have to read it to see what I mean!
In The House That Max Built by Maxwell Newhouse, the reader is taken on a complete construction journey. We get to learn all the major steps in building a house, from pouring the foundation and putting up walls to installing insulation and tiling the floor, this is the perfect picture books for boys (or girls) that are interested in building.
Finally, my favorite of the week is The Sandman written by Ralph Fletcher and illustrated by Richard Cowdrey. A retelling of the famous “Sandman” story, Fletcher shows the reader how an ordinary man who can’t sleep finds the scale of a dragon and realizes it holds the power to allow sleep to come. He becomes the Sandman and brings sleep to many, using dragon scales. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful (what a cover!!) and this will definitely be used as a bedtime story in my house!