Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Book Report: Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn

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Caterpillar Summer

Written by Gillian McDunn

Illustrations by Alisa Colburn

Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2019

 

It’s summer, and Caterpillar Summer is the perfect read! Thank you to Gillian McDunn and Natalie Aguirre at Literary Rambles for this lovely copy. If you look just close enough in the above photo, you will see a friendly butterfly snacking while I consider this perfect summer read. A nod to the main character and her name of Cat(erpillar).

Amazon Blurb:

Cat and her brother Chicken have always had a very special bond–Cat is one of the few people who can keep Chicken happy. When he has a “meltdown” she’s the one who scratches his back and reads his favorite story. She’s the one who knows what Chicken needs. Since their mom has had to work double-hard to keep their family afloat after their father passed away, Cat has been the glue holding her family together.

But even the strongest glue sometimes struggles to hold. When a summer trip doesn’t go according to plan, Cat and Chicken end up spending three weeks with grandparents they never knew. For the first time in years, Cat has the opportunity to be a kid again, and the journey she takes shows that even the most broken or strained relationships can be healed if people take the time to walk in one another’s shoes.

Why I Love This Book:

~ The names! Cat and Chicken? Fun and interesting.

~ The unique way Gillian created a mother who is an author that writes stories about her children, aka, Caterpillar and Chicken. Each section opens with an illustrated page from a story written by Cat’s mother and several other Caterpillar and Chicken illustrations are interspersed throughout the book. Stories upon stories.

~ The characters are great. I love how Cat is a caring, responsible older sister who is just finishing 5th grade. I love the uniqueness of Chicken and how Cat knows how to take care of him. The harried, busy mom, the newly met grandparents, old friends and new friends, the bad guys-the characters are fun to get to know.

~ The setting is fabulous! Who wouldn’t want to spend a summer in a huge house at the beach? On an island? I would. Cat gets to stay in her mother’s old bedroom. I love the small town community where Cat’s grandparents live.

~ The intrigue. Why has Cat never met these grandparents? What happened to Dad? Why does life have to have so many changes? How can Cat take care of Chicken but also still be a kid and enjoy life? How can Cat get her mother and grandfather to talk?

~ Fishing. This is a big hook (!) for Cat’s hopes of getting her family to reconcile.

~ Friendship, forgiveness, and family.

~ Great writing! I found Caterpillar Summer easy to read and very enjoyable. I think upper elementary and early middle grade readers will love this summer tale.

Two thumbs up for Caterpillar Summer.

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Summer Camp

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Alas, with the 4th of July and other extra activities, my guest bloggers were unable to contribute to the blog last week. Nana to the rescue!

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Summer Camp Theme of the Week: Gardening

Gardening is near and dear to my heart. Add outdoor and nature connections, and the setting and theme is just perfect.

Some activities we did during Gardening Week:

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~ We made dandelion play dough! Look on Pinterest for several different recipes. Tips from Nana: Use a LARGE blender or food processor for the boiling water and dandelions. Both of my prospects were too small and leaked. All over. Use MORE dandelions than you think you will need. We didn’t get as much yellow as we wanted, so added a bit of yellow gel food coloring. I doubled the recipe, since 5 gardeners wanted to explore.

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~ We watered. Of course. They are all quite adept at handling a variety of gardening watering implements. We also refilled the fountain numerous times. Like the grands, I’ve been enjoying the quick dip of a smaller watering can into the fountain to tend to tiny water needs. As a result, fountain water disappears much quicker than one would expect.

~ We dissected a sunflower from the Sunflower Forest. We have plenty! It was pretty neat to see baby seeds, petals, the pithy center, and other plant parts in their glory.

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~ After coloring cardboard egg carton sections, we went on a nature collecting hunt, looking for bits of nature that matched the colored sections. Rocks, flowers, petals, leaves, pine cones, bark, pottery shards, glass marbles . . . The grands did enjoy this activity even if all colors did not exactly match.

~ I’ve been wanting to have a nature loom for a long time. With freshly cut wood chunks from a recent trip to wood hunt, the oldest grand Hayden hammered in nails around the edges of one log. I looped jute around and back and forth to create a loom. I think Nana enjoyed this most, but I hope over time they will wander back and add to the nature weaving. I think next week I will have to allow them to hammer all the  nails they want into a sacrificial log. That seemed to be the biggest draw.

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~ The two girl grands, Khloe and Autumn, loved helping Papa transplant root-bound mint out in the pasture. Just for fun. Since it will be mowed with the pasture grass.

~ The youngest, Gage and Autumn, enjoyed giving hair cuts (mowing the hair) to paper plate faces.

~ Swimming! This involved puppy power and hogging of the big pool, but still, cooling fun was had by all.

~ Gardening books were read. Always books.

I had more plans, but the mid-week holiday took out a huge chunk of our Summer Camp time. Until the next week of Summer Camp (camping!), enjoy your July and the rest of this quickly evaporating summer vacation!


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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: flutter

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you flutter and flit

blossom landings, flower sip,

whispers of beauty

 

flutter by Angie Quantrell

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Even in the mountains of Central Washington, with no evidence of water, dry dusty soil, and an abundance of rocks and weeds, beauty is on display. Towering pines, blooming wildflowers, and clouds of butterflies floating and feasting on the myriad of blossoms wrap viewers in a blanket of peace. The sightings make the steep bumpy road worth enduring.

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Book Report: Remembering Joseph Chickadee by Nancy Peek Youngdahl

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Remembering Joseph Chickadee

Written and Illustrated by Nancy Peek Youngdahl

Mascot Books, 2019

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I love bird watching and travel with my falling-apart bird identification book at the ready to help me name the birds I see out car windows.

What about the birds I read about in books? Love, love, love birds!

Remembering Joseph Chickadee is a delightfully illustrated picture book telling the story of a bunch of birdy friends saying goodbye and remembering their friend, Joseph Chickadee.

It sounds sad, but it really isn’t. Instead, I enjoyed the stories of friends sharing happy memories of their friend. A Remembering Celebration was held in the woods where Joseph was a leader, helper, and friend to many feathered community members. The different birds told of their encounters with Joseph and all the ways he had helped them. As I read, I thought this picture book would be a perfect way to gently help young mourners as they face the loss of a loved one. And, of course, readers will learn about birds.

Why I Enjoyed this Book:

~ I loved the imagination in the story. A Remembering Celebration for a beloved community leader-grief and celebration in the bird world. Young readers will be able to put their imaginations to good use as they read Remembering Joseph Chickadee.

~ The illustrations are wonderful! I love the collage, watercolor, cut paper look of the different books. This book is very nicely done.

~ The availability of this book for use with grieving children is perfect. Readers can see how others grieve and remember, and perhaps, with gentle discussion, can apply the ideas to their own lives. Not that this book needs to be read only with grieving children, but all young readers can learn empathy as they hear about Joseph.

~ Birds! I learned new information about different birds. Maybe this book will spark an interest in readers to learn more about birds or encourage them to go outside and go for a bird walk.

I thoroughly enjoyed Remembering Joseph Chickadee. Thank you to Nancy Peck Youngdahl for writing this book for readers. Thank you to Mascot Books for my review copy, which I now get to share with the young readers in my family (we just focused on birds last week, one of our summer weekly themes). Thank you!

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Book Blurb:

When wise and kind Joseph Chickadee passes away, other birds of the forest come together to remember him and celebrate all that he did as a leader and friend. Follow along in this story of love, loss, and grace and Joseph’s family and friends say goodbye.

KID KANDY:

Play Dough Nest

Materials: play dough, sticks, leaves, rocks

1. Go for a bird walk. Watch for birds and peek at their nests in trees and shrubs. If you don’t find any nests, look in picture books or online for pictures of nests.

2. Warm up the play dough by playing with it. Form a nest shape on a plate.

3. Decorate the nest with sticks, leaves, or rocks. Birds often add soft materials to the bottom of the nests to protect the eggs and new hatchlings. Find something soft to place in the bottom of the nests. Let your nest dry.

4. Keep watching for birds!

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Khloe and her play dough bird nest (the rocks are eggs).

 


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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: Help Wanted

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Needed: hard workers

Duties: fly, wander, buzz, sip

Pollinate: thank you

 

Help Wanted by Angie Quantrell

 

Welcome to my Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge! Have you ever applied for a job? Followed a help wanted sign? What would it be like if bees had to fill out applications before they got to work on our flowering plants?

Tiny little pens and papers. Background check. Chat with references.

You’re hired!


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Book Report: Her Fearless Run, Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon by Kim Chaffee

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Her Fearless Run, Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon

Written by Kim Chaffee

Illustrated by Ellen Rooney

Page Street Kids, 2019

 

Blurb from the book:

“Girls weren’t supposed to sweat. Girls weren’t supposed to compete. They were too weak, too fragile, to run distances like the Boston Marathon. That’s what most people thought.

Kathrine Switzer changed their minds.”

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Thanks to Writers’ Rumpus, I received a gift copy of Kim Chaffee’s Her Fearless Run, just born this year! Thank you so much, Kim, Ellen, Carol, and Writers’ Rumpus!

 

I’ve always envied women who have the desire, drive, and determination to run long distances. I do not have those qualities, and would rather hike or walk long distances.

“I didn’t set out to make history; I was just a girl who wanted to run.” – Kathrine Switzer

Her Fearless Run is the fascinating story of Kathrine Switzer, a woman committed to opening the doors for women to run long distances during a time when it was frowned upon and not allowed. At all.

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What I love about Her Fearless Run:

~ I love how skillfully Kim Chaffee wove together real life information with the story of Kathrine standing up to the expectations of a male-dominated sport. I love that Kathrine kept plodding along, facing each obstacle with grit, just as she would in marathons and long distance running.

~ I love the vibrant and informative illustrations and how they lend the air of the past to the story.

~ I love the messages of Her Fearless Run. Girls can do anything! Hard work and perseverance pays off. Individuals can make a difference and impact others. You can do things you enjoy.

~ I love the ease of reading and interesting story that kept me glued to the pages of Her Fearless Run.

~ I love that I can share this book with other young readers and inspire them to go after their dreams and passions.

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Amazon Blurb:

Kathrine Switzer changed the world of running. This narrative biography follows Kathrine from running laps as a girl in her backyard to becoming the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with official race numbers in 1967. Her inspirational true story is for anyone willing to challenge the rules.

The compelling collage art adds to the kinetic action of the story. With tension and heart, this biography has the influential power to get readers into running. An excellent choice for sports fans, New Englanders, young dreamers, and competitive girls and boys alike.

 

KID KANDY:

Go for a Run!

Materials: chalk, running journal, drawing supplies (crayons, pencils, markers), snack

1. Read Her Fearless Run. How did Kathrine start out as a runner? Can you follow the steps she took?

2. Invite someone to run with you. Use chalk marks to count your laps.

3. Relax after your run by searching online for information about Kathrine Switzer and the Boston Marathon. Are there any marathons hosted near your home? Perhaps you could go and watch one. Our city has a race with adults and younger age groups.

4. Eat a healthy snack, drink cool water, and record your laps in a running journal. Draw a picture of yourself running.

5. Repeat!

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Welcome, Summer Guest Bloggers!

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Note: Nana Angie here. For a bit of fun, I’m challenging (urging, coercing, guiding) my grands to be guest bloggers. This first time, I typed as we discussed and they told me what to write. Perhaps the older 2 will be able to type their own posts later this summer, which I know will zoom past. I’ll probably alternate blogging families so that I can keep up with what is happening behind the scenes as two of us at a time focus on blogging…(5 kids + 1 puppy = 8).

Hope you enjoy our escapades. Happy first day of summer!

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Hi, I’m Hayden. I’m 10 years old and just finished 4th grade. Next year I’ll be in middle school. I’m so glad it’s summer.

This summer I’m spending lots of time with my Nana. Last week we were learning about birds. And we made a bird nest out of play dough and pine needles. I found a fallen bird nest at our apartment and it was just sitting on the ground. I picked it up and took it to my Nana’s house and we observed it. It was cool and stinky!

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We also went on a walk around the field and looked at birds. We found a hawk. It was cool. It was looking for food. Other bird activities we did were painting bird houses, stamping bird pictures on paper, and reading bird books.

Next we are going to learn about gardens. See you next time!

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Hi, I’m Khloe. I’m almost 8 years old and just finished 2nd grade. Next year I’ll be in 3rd grade. I always swim at the pool at my apartment in the summer. That is going to be fun!

My Nana is teaching me and my brothers French words. I know “Bonjour, Grand-mere, merci, s’il vous plait, and counting to sept (1-7). It was fun learning about French.

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We also learned about birds. My brother picked up a bird nest for us to look at and study. My favorite bird activity was making a bird nest out of play dough. I used sticks, pine needles, play dough, and leaves and rocks for my nest.

I will see you next time!

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My name is William Gage Aucutt. I’m 4. I’m going swimming. I’m going to the apartment. And I go to the RV. Then I go to the park. I liked painting my bird house. I like to paint. And I like to go everywhere. Everywhere.

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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: sunflower forest

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sunflower forest

shadowing minions below,

giant bird fodder

 

sunflower forest by Angie Quantrell

 

This year, another garden experiment. Last season, giant birds (to the minions living below) messily (and carelessly) tossed seeds as they gobbled from sunflower trees. This season, let’s see what grows.

A forest!

 


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Book Report: The Broken Bees’ Nest by Lydia Lukidis

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The Broken Bees’ Nest

Beekeeping, Makers Make It Work

By Lydia Lukidis

Illustrated by Andre Ceolin

Kane Press, Inc., 2019

 

I won a copy of Lydia’s book, The Broken Bees’ Nest, through Kathy Temean and her blog, Writing and Illustrating. Thanks to Lydia for the delightful copy and to Kathy for introducing me to The Broken Bees’ Nest.

What I like about this book:

I love bees, so this picture book is perfect for me. My current dream is to capture a swarm and put a hive out in our pasture. Guess what The Broken Bees’ Nest is about? Capturing a swarm from a broken hive!

This book is about a beekeeper and how she helps two children rescue bees from a broken hive. It’s also about family and being outdoors and engaging in fun play while enjoying nature. I loved learning more about bees-from the story, the sidebars, and the back matter pages.

This book is easy to read, includes vibrant illustrations, and provides lots of bee information in a fun, engaging way. As my granddaughter said the first time we read it, “Again!”

We’ll keep reading The Broken Bees’ Nest! I think this will help her overcome her fear of bees.

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Amazon Blurb:

Arun and Keya find the perfect tree for a tree house. Too bad it comes with a battered bees’ nest! These bees need a new home―right away! Tying into the popular Makers Movement, Makers Make It Work is a series of fun easy-to-read stories that focus on problem-solving and hands-on action. This charming story explores the Makers theme of Beekeeping and includes explanatory sidebars and an insect-related activity for young makers to try themselves!

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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: mama reversal

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a child, needing mom

for guidance, encouragement,

model to follow.

 

a mother, aging

ill, failing, needing her child,

someone to grasp hands.

 

from birth, you held me,

fed, tended, loved, taught, mothered.

reversing the care.

 

mama reversal by Angie Quantrell

 

For my mama. Missing you! Honored to reverse the care.