Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Book Report: Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact by Jennifer Swanson

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Astronaut-Aquanaut: How Space Science and Sea Science Interact

Written by Jennifer Swanson

Published by National Geographic Partners, LLC; 2018

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I received two copies of Astronaut-Aquanaut by Jennifer Swanson, one to keep and one to give to my grandson’s school. We made the delivery in January, giving the book to his teacher. Thanks so much to Jennifer!

You can learn more about Jennifer and her books by visiting her web site.

 

AMAZON BLURB:

Journey from the deepest trenches in the oceans to the farthest humans have ventured into space and learn what it takes to explore the extremes. You might just be surprised by how similar the domains of ASTRONAUTS and AQUANAUTS really are.

Space and the ocean. If you don’t think they go together, think again! Both deep-sea and space explorers have to worry about pressure, temperature, climate, and most importantly, how to survive in a remote and hostile environment. Join us on an amazing journey as we go up in space with astronauts and dive deep down in the ocean with aquanauts to explore the far-off places of our planet and the solar system.

With a strong tie into STEM topics–such as making connections, making comparisons, and recognizing patterns across content areas–readers will discover the amazing science and incredible innovations that allow humans (and sometimes only machines) to survive in these harsh environments.

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WHAT I LIKE ABOUT THIS BOOK:

Astronaut-Aquanaut is a gorgeous book! Colorful illustrations, photos, graphs, and detailed information fill the pages. Despite ample pictures to look at, the text is skillfully written and explains so many space and ocean concepts! I learned many new ideas and information. I had no idea how similar deep sea science and deep space science are to each other.

This book really is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to learn about becoming an astronaut or an aquanaut. The pages are filled with so many cool tidbits, factoids, and real life experiences of those individuals who have pursued careers in both fields.

STEM based, Astronaut-Aquanaut is primed for leading young explorers to delve far and wide and learn more about both areas.

This nonfiction picture book, geared for older readers, is an excellent example of a text that instructs, entertains and informs.

Way to go, Jennifer Swanson!

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Book Report: How to Walk an Ant by Cindy Derby

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How to Walk an Ant

Written and illustrated by Cindy Derby

Roaring Brook Press, 2019

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Cindy Derby, Roaring Brook Press, and KidLit411 gifted me with a copy of How to Walk an Ant. Thank you for such a delightful book!

Opening lines:

“My name is Amariyah, and I am an Expert Walker.

No, I don’t mean I walk perfect,

I mean I walk things.”

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Amazon Blurb:

There are nine steps to becoming an ant walker, and Amariyah, the expert ant walker, is here to show you how it’s done.

This irreverent and quirky picture book, How to Walk an Ant, follows a young girl as she goes through the process of walking ants, from polite introductions to tragic leash entanglements.

In the end, this unique book from author-illustrator Cindy Derby shows that as long as you’re doing what you’re best at, you may find a like-minded friend to tag along.

*Zero ants were harmed in the making of this book.
**Oops, 7 ants were harmed in the making of this book.

 

Why I Like This Book:

Quirky and irreverent is correct! I loved reading about Amariyah and her efforts to educate me in the best ways to walk ants (always carry plenty of thread, …). The illustrations perfectly match the story and I had to laugh loud and giggle to myself several times as I read. Seriously, which picture book do you know where FUNERAL plans are a part of the appendix?

The writing is clear and entertaining. Amariyah has a unique voice and I love her personality and adventures. A limited palette for the illustrations allows images to pop into life. Add diagrams and insets, and anyone who reads How to Walk an Ant will quickly reach expert level. This book is a fun read.

Spring is here, the best time to practice walking newly emerged ants. Read How to Walk an Ant and then head outside to practice walking ants.

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KID KANDY:

Ants on a Log

Ingredients: celery, peanut butter (or other nut butter if you can’t eat peanuts), raisins

4 Steps to Eating Ants

1. With an adult, wash and cut celery sticks into 3-4 inch pieces

2. Spread peanut butter in the celery (log) trough.

3. Plop ants (raisins) on the peanut butter.

4. Eat ants on a log. Now you are an expert eater of ants.

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Picture Books of the Moment: Gage & Autumn Picks

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Meet Gage (3 going on 4) and Autumn (2 going on 16). Gigi is also featured above, all 3 of them enjoying a Babybel cheese break.

Preschoolers have discerning tastes and interests. I’d like to add that both of these magnificent grands are eloquent, opinionated, book afficionados. Here are their current favorite picture books. And why I think each has preschool staying power.

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“Again!”

This remark nearly guarantees a great picture book. They should call it the AGAIN Award. SPOILER ALERT: Both grands love Peter and his adventures in the snow, though Gage is convinced the snowball did not melt, but is in fact, tucked beneath Peter’s chin as he sleeps. Don’t believe me? Look at that page. The background white section looks exactly like a snowball. They both love the snow adventures.

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

Simplicity of text, universal preschool and young reader experiences, nature focus, playfulness of a child’s day in the snow

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Froggy and his silly antics keep Gage and Autumn glued to the story. They love me to read this to them as they eat lunch. They love jumping to the conclusion before I even get there. The laughing portions of the book have great child appeal.

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

Humor, age-appropriate excitement and desire to enjoy life, Froggy’s disregard for reality (hibernate in winter), repetitive language

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Of all the books we read, this one surprises me. Not that it’s a bad book, but, you know, she dies at the end. Despite that, Gage LOVES this book. He knows the ending and he loves how the old lady gets larger and larger. I always use a sing-song voice when I read it, so music complements the retelling. Who knew?

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

Illustrations, musical options, repetitive, cumulative, silly, full of exaggeration, contains extra details that can be shared as readers mature

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This book was a hit the very first time I read it, with both Gage and Autumn. They love memorizing the story and retelling it themselves. I did hear that older brother, Donavyn, was purposely saying the wrong thing as she was reading to herself. This made her very angry! (This might have happened with the next book instead…). Preschoolers love reading about the caterpillar.

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

Nature aspects of change, life cycle, eating, growing, overeating; days of the week; interesting pages and features like holes and different-sized pages; simple text and easy to recall story; classic picture book tale

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This was one of the first books I dug out to share with Gage and Autumn. They loved it and immediately memorized the pattern of text and wanted to read it alone. This book is easy to figure out by simply turning the pages. The bright colorful illustrations help readers retell and enjoy the story.

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

Predictable, patterned, colorful illustrations, teaches colors, simple text, imaginative (blue horse?!), fun to read, readers enjoy being in control and being the ‘teacher’ as they read

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Anything with a flap is award-winning for preschoolers. This simple book has repetitive text and involves visual and textual clues to use to guess the answer. Fill-in-the-blank reading is lots of fun and both Gage and Autumn love shouting the answers. Animals, flaps, mystery! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taped this book back together.

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

Lift the flaps, simplicity, animal connections, emotions, cause and effect, thinking skills to figure out which pet is best

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Three words: Hug, Bobo, Mommy. Who says you can’t tell a story with only 3 words? Everybody knows about hugs and mommy’s. Gage and Autumn love this book because of the mommy factor. Mommy’s are important and it would be horrible if she went missing. All the animals work together to help Bobo. So many good things in three words and great illustrations.

Why I think this book deserves the AGAIN Award:

The mommy factor, hugs, friends, helping, simple text, universal needs and desires, family, being lost and getting found

Introducing the AGAIN Award. You heard it here first, friends.

Let’s find other books that deserve the AGAIN Award. For in those beloved books, we will find the joy of reading and the shared experiences of lap time.

 

 

 

 


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Book Report: Porcupine’s Pie by Laura Renauld

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Porcupine’s Pie

Written by Laura Renauld

Illustrated by Jennie Poh

Beaming Books, 2018

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I’ve never used Capri Sun in a recipe before reading this book. Yes, that has something to do with the adorable Porcupine’s Pie!

Porcupine is getting ready for Fall Feast Day. She checks her cupboard for ingredients for her famous Cranberry Pie and heads to the river to wash cranberries. Along the way she meets her friends who have famous recipes as well, but these friend are missing ingredients. By the time Porcupine gets to the river, circumstances have changed and she is no longer able to make Cranberry Pie.

Instead, once her friends arrive at her home, Porcupine makes a new treat, Friendship Pie (recipe included).

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Porcupine’s Pie is full of sharing, kindness, and friendship. I’ve wanted to read it since it was born, but had to wait for it to arrive at my library. (Let me tell you a trick: Most libraries have a way to request new titles. I LOVE this feature. I requested Porcupine’s Pie a few months ago. Now I have a brand new copy in my hands to enjoy.)

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I read Porcupine’s Pie with my grands the other day. My granddaughter immediately jumped up, ready to bake a Friendship Pie. But alas, their larder did not have all necessary ingredients. So Nana went shopping and last night we made Friendship Pie.

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Where does Capri Sun fit in? The recipe calls for cranberry juice (or a favorite juice). On the first night when we first looked in the fridge, there was a big container of apple juice. So Nana did not purchase more juice. ONE DAY later, when we prepped the recipe, the juice was all gone! That happens in families with three kids. The only similar ingredient to be found was Capri Sun. Well then. I can now say I’ve cooked with Capri Sun!

Porcupine’s Pie gets two thumbs up! Add this one to your fall/friendship/sharing themes.

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Book Report: BRIGHTLY BURNING by Alexa Donne

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Brightly Burning

By Alexa Donne

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018

 

Excerpt from book jacket:

“Stella Ainsley leaves poverty behind when she quits her engineering job aboard the Stalwart to become a governess on a private ship…But no one warned Stella that the ship seems to be haunted, nor that it may be involved in a conspiracy that could topple the entire interstellar fleet.”

Add to that nineteen-year-old Captain Hugo (aka love interest/person of interest), murder attempts, possible marriage, and personal risk for Stella, and you have an excellent mystery adventure set in space. Post ice age space, where all humans have jettisoned from Planet Earth to live in spaceships above the frozen landscape.

I was hooked from the beginning chapter to the final words. Brightly Burning is a fast read. At least I read it quickly! Memorable characters, mysteries and escalating tension, and a unique setting kept me glued to the pages. Though Brightly Burning is written for teens, readers of all ages will enjoy the captivating world created by Alexa Donne.

I received a copy of Brightly Burning from Alexa Donne, through Literary Rambles  and Natalie Aguirre. Thank you both very much for a great read!

 


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via School Visit Resources

Writerly Tip:

When I discover a blog post that I know will be very helpful, now or in the future, and need to keep the information, I often repost it to my blog. I’m not always good recalling which blog posted the article I want to revisit, especially when I only remember the gist. But when I repost to my blog and tag it for my categories, I can refer back to it as needed.

Plus, unlike a printout of the post, the live post gives me access to the live links. Instant gratification!

Thanks so much, Writers Rumpus!

Does you have any tips for organizing online resources?


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If you know me from my teaching days, or kid-caring days, or church days, you know I’m all about books, language, and literacy. Not too long ago, a friend introduced me to Barefoot Books. My grands LOVE the little videos and songs that go with the different stories.

Barefoot Books is coming out with another great tool for story building, language, and literature: Build-a-Story Cards. I love these! Characters, settings, and objects cover wordless adorable colorful cards. Some characters show emotions to help create story conflict. Playing with these will be loads of fun!

Head on over to Tara Lazar’s blog to see photos and more explanation of these new literacy tools. The first set is a fairy tale theme. Fun times ahead!

Thanks, Tara, for giving us the heads-up on these Build-a-Story Cards!

via How Do You Build a Story? Play Cards! (plus a giveaway)


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Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

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Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus

By Dusti Bowling

(Sterling Children’s Books, 2017)

 

I won a copy of Dusti Bowling’s chapter book Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus from Literary Rambles.

What first attracted me to this book was the title. I could just imagine what type of events a cactus would stoically attend, though I knew the book was not about those fascinating plants.

What attracted me next were the characters and the setting. Having grown up in Arizona, I looked forward to reading a book set in the starkly dry and hot desert. The book has a captivating cast of diverse characters. I loved reading of friends Aven (born without arms) and Conner (spits at people when he eats) and how they manage their disabilities. The strength and courage of Aven compelled me to cheer for her and will inspire others who struggle with any type of disability. Family issues, a mystery discovered in an old out building, and facing ones’ own fears come together in a nicely written page-turner.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus is a great read for any young (or old) person. Compassion, understanding, and acceptance of diversity will develop as readers live alongside Aven and Conner. I found that Bowlings’ book gave me the viewpoint of someone living with challenges and how they faced daily life and difficult situations. Readers will see that they can do anything if they put their mind to it!

Well done and great read!


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Reading for Pleasure

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How many of you read for pleasure? (“Me, me!” she shouts while waving her hand crazily in the air.)

A paper book? An e-reader story? A tale that lets you escape to a new land, new people, new problems? (Yes, please!)

Oh, the books we can read! Too many books, not enough time, right?

Consider this poem I wrote for a course:

This pleasure,

While reading,

Gives me a poetic mind.

Gobbled, devoured,

Digested words and tale.

Spit out to be

Read again.

Again.

And again.

Dissected, applied to life,

Reassembled with

New understanding.

Reading for pleasure;

A necessity as is

Air, water, food.

I pick up again

The feast of words

To consume the story

Each book tells.

 

Tell me, tell me please!

What book are you reading right now? What’s your favorite book? What chores have you neglected to read just. one. more. page? (…dishes, laundry, vacuuming, dusting)

I’d love to hear the tale of the words that let you escape.


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Terrific Tongues! Picture Book Review

Vivian Kirkfield recently shared a great post about this wonderful book, Terrific Tongues! Written by Maria Gianferrari and illustrated by Jia Liu, Terrific Tongues! is sure to engage, amuse, and educate young readers.

I mean, really, what child do you know who doesn’t love playing with or sticking out his or her tongue? I can’t wait get my hands on this one. Thanks, Vivian, Maria, and Jia! Congratulations!

Click here to visit Vivian Kirkfield’s blog and read more about Terrific Tongues!