Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


Leave a comment

Book Report: Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners

3CEC998C-2078-441A-9A0B-3060BB2276C9

Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners

by Natalie Rompella

Sky Pony Press, 2017

 

What’s a girl to do when she is suddenly placed in a class WITH the hard-nosed teacher and WITHOUT her best friend and co-chef? The project they have been planning for years is swept off the table and the friends are paired with new partners.

Ana is devastated to learn she must partner with Dasher, a new kid from Alaska. All the new girl talks about is sled dogs. Worse, she has no culinary skills! Even worse, best friend Lily is paired with Via, another non-cook but super cool girl.

AND only Lily knows the truth about Ana. OCD dogs her every waking minute, leading Ana to obsess over germs and wash her hands to the point of cracked, chapped skin.

There are so many great things about Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners! I loved the characters and the middle school angst. The finer details of friendship, making new friends, OCD, school, projects, hobbies, teamwork, trying something new – all of these important issues play together in this engaging chapter book.

I learned new information about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and treatment for this disorder. I also learned many new things about racing sled dogs and creating unique recipes. Readers will find at least one thing to identify with through the characters in Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners. Readers looking for books about dogs, friends, cooking and creating, going to school, or OCD will love this book.

Two thumbs up for Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners by Natalie Rompella.

P.S. ACTUAL recipes are shared in this book, creations by the main characters.

02C7EA96-A1DE-4001-9129-31A99B161ED9

I won a copy of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners after reading an interview with Natalie Rompella and commenting about her new book at groggorg.blogspot.com. You can read the interview here.

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Book Report: I Am NOT a Chair!

88C45D27-831E-4458-9E2E-348DCA63F875

I Am NOT A Chair!

By Ross Burach

HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2017

 

I Am NOT A Chair! is hysterical!

I love the simple but hilarious tale of a giraffe who is continuously mistaken for a chair by other jungle animals. He is extremely creative as he tries to educate others about their misdirected assumptions so he can stop being a chair.

Brilliantly colored illustrations add depth and life to the story and will attract young readers as they see life on the wild side (though recognizable as sort of like going to school). Well done, Ross Burach, in story telling through words and images.

This book is great for young and old readers.

9EAE1D49-8BAD-4591-A1FA-32DE845A2B84

KID KANDY

Make a Chair

Materials: whatever you find in your jungle environment

1. Search your jungle.

2. Find interesting items that look comfy and sturdy.

3. Make a chair. Does it look like Giraffe? Or a different jungle animal, like a pillow monster or box creature? Give your chair a name. Have someone take a picture of you sitting on your chair.

4. Read a book while sitting on your chair. 🙂

 


Leave a comment

Book Report: The Bird and the Blade

6008B788-BF92-468A-B9C8-AD0418DA90A8

The Bird and the Blade

by Megan Bannen

(Balzer + Bray, An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2018)

 

I recently received a free copy of The Bird and the Blade from Literary Rambles,  Natalie Aguirre, and Megan Bannen.

I was interested in reading The Bird and The Blade because of the title. I like birds. The blade, I could only assume, was sword like and sharp. I was correct on one count. The blade was an actual blade, though I will not spoil the ending by telling you much more about it. The bird was not an actual bird, but the main character, Jinghua.

Without giving too much away, this story is about love, war, families, dynasties, refugees, stations in life, relationships, and courage. The tale begins with a young female slave, Jinghua. But that is not the whole of her.

Through careful revelation and continually going back in time while moving forward, readers learn about Jinghua and how her life has changed. I didn’t know before I read, but this tale was inspired by the opera Turandot and is a retelling of
“Prince Khalaf and the Princess of China.” Despite the ancient beginnings of the story, it is worth every century!

I enjoyed The Bird and the Blade. I loved how the story is organized, with flashbacks to share important details. As I read the “current” portions of the story, I eagerly anticipated the next travel back in time to find out more details. And there are some very juicy details!

Young adults and adults will enjoy this well-written tale, The Bird and the Blade. Thank you, Literary Rambles, for introducing me to this book and author.


2 Comments

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

29C6460A-AD3E-4668-B378-1AF04CDCB741

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!


Leave a comment

The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

6F87690A-42DD-468B-B26A-4C0804B663FC

The Girl with the Red Balloon

Written by Katherine Locke

(Albert Whitman & Company, 2017)

 

Last fall, I won a copy of The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke from Natalie Aguirre’s Literary Rambles.

I immediately read The Girl with the Red Balloon. Who can not read a book with a tag that says The wall keeps us in. Magic gets us out.?

The tale is told of Ellie, a girl who visits the Berlin Wall Memorial during a school field trip. Ellie has family ties to World War II and Germany, as her grandfather miraculously escaped from a death camp. As Ellie considers the impact of that horrible time period, she notices a red balloon. Innocently, she grabs the string and is immediately deposited in East Berlin in 1988, where she is found by Kai, a member of an underground society. Ellie, Kai, and several others must work to figure out how and why Ellie was transported back in time when the purpose of the red balloons was to take death camp members over the wall and away from a certain terrible fate.

Much history is shared in the telling of this story. I loved the mixture of magical realism, history, teen relationships, family heritage, and mystery. Danger, high stakes, death, and good versus evil all blend together in this great story. Ellie is stuck in the past and must find a way to return to her own time. But this is complicated by magical developments and a budding romance.

Locke tells the story from different viewpoints, but the switch off is easy to follow as every chapter is clearly labeled with the point of view character. I had to focus a bit to understand the historical connections, but the book is well written and engaging.

The Girl with the Red Balloon is a great read for anyone who enjoys history hooked together with a bit of magic.

P.S. Look what comes out this fall!

7C34D4E4-5BAF-4257-B170-9A6D32971F22


2 Comments

Reading for Pleasure

6E1CE3F1-2F19-4D77-BCC9-A7A85DCB285A

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.


1 Comment

With You Always, Orphan Train Book 1 by Jody Hedlund

By Angie Quantrell

66607FBB-2CEF-465B-932E-160811102B68

WITH YOU ALWAYS, ORPHAN TRAIN BOOK 1

By Jody Hedlund

Bethany House, 2017

 

I was gifted a copy of WITH YOU ALWAYS, ORPHAN TRAIN BOOK 1 from Jody Hedlund.

Set in New York City, 1857, Elise found herself an orphan with younger siblings. Befriended and helped out by Miss Pendleton, Elise and her remaining family took a room in a renovation-in-progress future home (instead of living on the streets). As circumstances changed and the need arose, Elise took a seat on an orphan train and headed out to work far from the city.

Danger, disaster, determination, foreboding, friendship, and romance fill the pages of WITH YOU ALWAYS. Before reading this book, I had not heard of orphan trains, but was fascinated to learn how they were used to gather orphans from the city and send them out into surrounding areas to work and become a part of new families. Some orphans had good experiences, but not all.

I loved the writing and setting. Hedlund did a fantastic job of building up characters and tensions between those characters. The events felt very realistic, both in the feeling of New York during that time period and the new situation and location Elise lived and worked. Hard work and a growing spark between Elise and Thornton fill the pages of this book.

WITH YOU ALWAYS is a very good read. Well done, Jody Hedlund. Thank you!

6A2E51DF-695F-4FD4-999E-0EA76CB07DDD


Leave a comment

How to Use Goodreads

Source: How to Use Goodreads

I love Goodreads, but I have only the barest understanding of how it works. And, according to this post, I know just a sprinkling of things that one can do while visiting Goodreads! Now there is no excuse.

Thank you, Marcia Strykowski, from Writers’ Rumpus! http://Www.writersrumpuus.com


Leave a comment

You Nest Here With Me ~ Picture Book & KID KANDY

DSC_0776

by Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell

 

You Nest Here With Me

Written by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple

Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

(Boyds Mills Press, An Imprint of Highlights; 2015)

 

I recently was given a copy of You Nest Here With Me. Thanks, Heidi Stemple!

That free gift, however, did not influence the fact that I had already fallen in love with the lyrical story and gorgeous illustrations of this picture book, having borrowed it from the library.

I see You Nest Here With Me as a good night story told by a mother to her daughter. The mother shares the nesting habits of many fascinating and captivating birds. Eggs, nests, habitats, birds, nestlings (is that a real word?) – and a human mama and her little girl. This is a perfect, calming, getting-ready-for-bed book.

While this picture book does not read like a science text, readers will still learn amazing bird facts. Readers can learn even more when they take the time to peruse the final pages where the authors share interesting information about each type of bird.

Readers will love You Nest Here With Me. I love You Nest Here With Me. Birds of a feather flock together. Tweet tweet!

KID KANDY

Look for Nests & Build a Nest

  1. Go on a nest hunting walk with your family. Spy high and peek low to find nests. Trees, shrubs, empty containers, bird houses, grasses…birds are very creative when they build a nest. How many nests can you find?
  2. Pull out some blankets and wrap them around yourself to build a nest. Grab some books, curl up in your snug nest, and read away!

DSC_0777


12 Comments

Library Culture

IMG_2226

I spend time at the library. MUCH time.

Because I love books. The smell, the feel, the sight, and the anticipation of opening the pages and jumping into an adventure pull me in. Every. Single. Time.

So I live, I mean visit my library. Actually, I patronize nearly all of my libraries, the ones in the Yakima Valley. Plus I have connections with other libraries not in my area, which is perfect when I need resources or just want to snoop and see what is out there.

Really you can’t lose when you visit the library. Free books! Free help, internet, bathrooms, AC (or heating), gathering place, information, friends…The library is community.

In my much library time, I’ve noticed several different groups frequenting the hallowed halls of bookdom.

Story Time. If I pull up and the lot is full, I know it’s story time. Stories, songs, games, crafts, and fun times for the kiddos be going on. During the summer, libraries gain a larger audience in the form of kids and adults on break. Reading incentive programs keep readers involved and active with the printed word.

Computer Users. In the olden days, there were no computers. Period. But patrons can now log on to banks of computers to research, read, and check email. Library users can even log in with personal computers and use the internet free of charge (at least at our libraries). Electronic resources are available for check out and the card catalog can be searched from the comfort of home. While the term card catalog is out of date, library resources are still present and much easier to access. One of my favorite library features is the ability to reserve books from home and pick them up when they arrive at the nearest library.

Homeschoolers. The homeschool population is growing. I see homeschool families return to the library on a regular basis. Wonderful resources and reading materials are ready for the picking, so why not?

Book Clubs. What better place is there to have a book club than the library? Our library sometimes hosts a community read with a local author. Most times, the author does a guest visit where readers can meet and greet. Special programs are provided for different age groups, complete with authors, books, and activities.

Study Groups. High school and college students are often working collaboratively around large tables at the library. The library design has planned for this activity by including both small and large tables and seating areas which are perfect for meeting and working.

Retirees. These folks have it going on! Unlimited books to read, books on CD to listen to, computers to use, help on hand if necessary, and interactions with others make the library the place to be.

The Homeless. The library is free and climate-controlled, provides restrooms and drinking fountains, and offers multiple forms of entertainment and resources. While I’ve noticed several incidents of improper behavior, most of the homeless patrons seem to enjoy library benefits without causing any trouble.

Teachers. Yes, teachers, the library is an invaluable resource! During my teaching years, I made weekly trips to check out and return books. Lots of books. I became quite good at gleaning themed picture books (both fiction and nonfiction) for my students. In fact, there was one librarian who watched my shelf and request list so she could make her own book list.

Writers. I fit into several of the above groups, but the writing group is the closest fit. I regularly research different topics and locations around the world. I research picture books and check out stacks of them for my studies. I even haul my computer to the library and set up camp on one of the bigger tables when I need to work on deadlines. Love my library!

Readers. Of course. Why else? Book addicts. Adventurers. Researchers. Learners.

As the plant in the above photo illustrates layers of leaves, stacked and connected by a network of roots, libraries also connect information to people, layers of knowledge spread through the network of libraries – full of words.

I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card. ~ Laura Bush