Friday, October 24, 2014

Another Halloween Intermission! Review: I am a Witch's Cat by Harriet Muncaster

I Am a Witch's Cat
9780062229144

There are very few times when you can get away with calling your mother a witch, but as this adorable kitty says, "I know my mom is a witch because she keeps lots of strange potion bottles in the bathroom that I am not allowed to touch." Mommy can also magic away hurts, and when she and her friends get together they cackle. Must be true! And what is more fun than being a good witch's cat? 

We looooooove Halloween here, at home and at the library, and I am always happy to find a new read-aloud. This one is going to the top of the list. Kids and parents will enjoy the sweet text, and the illustrations - photographs of a mixture of "paper, fabric, and mixed media" - are fantastic. I wanted to reach though and touch Mommy Witch's fuzzy scarf. You could have a great time with a little on on your lap, picking out which parts of the pictures are 'real', and which parts are drawings.

Definitely one to add to your collection!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

63 Shopping Days Left! Review: Mr. Tweed's Good Deeds by Jim Stoten

Mr. Tweed's Good Deeds
9781909263352

Mr. Tweed sets out on his afternoon stroll but soon finds some friends in need. Before you know it, everyone is calling upon Mr. Tweed's kind eye and generosity. Come to his aid and help him find what they are looking for! Hidden in pages of vibrant color and detailed illustrations lie objects waiting to be discovered! 

Well...if you are at all connected with children in any way, I do not have to tell you that seek-and-find books are popular. New copies quickly become dog-eared, and even though I automatically order multiple copies, i find myself having to replace them frequently.

Most don't come with much of a story, though, which sets this one apart slightly. A few phrases betray Stoten's London roots ("over the page"), and I found myself reading it in a mental British accent, but it's perfectly understandable. The hidden pictures are a little on the easy side, but not so much so that there is no challenge. Just right for Sheridan, and even Logan can spot a few (when he isn't distracted by everything else going on in the scene). A good addition to our collection, and I look forward to seeing more from this publisher (Flying Eye Books).

Some gifting suggestions...in keeping with the puzzle theme, include a book of puzzles, or these cute story cards


(Sheridan has a different set of eeBoo story cards, and they are very well made, sturdy and just the right size for small hands.)

Plan a scavenger hunt throughout your house for one of those still-on-Christmas-break-and-driving-me-crazy days.

Go with the good deed angle instead, and plan a day to run around town, doing good deeds. Brainstorm a list of things you can do that won't break the bank or take all day, like paying for someone's meal at the drive-through, dropping off treats at the animal shelter, or hanging out at the Bountiful Baskets pick-up with your cart, and carrying everyone's baskets to their cars for them. What a fun way to spend the day together! (Don't forget to bring cookies to your favorite library staff!)


Monday, October 20, 2014

65 Shopping Days Left! Review: Malala Yousafzai by Matt Doeden

Malala Yousafzai: Shot by the Taliban, Still Fighting for Equal Education
9781467749077

Who isn't fascinated by this articulate and determined young lady? I don't review too many biographies, but I was eager to read this one.

The attack on Yousafzai and other actions by the Taliban are not a topic you can address by glossing it over, and Doeden never seeks to do so. At the same time, these events are presented simply and straightforwardly, surrounded by more positive events in Yousafzai's life, so that the overall tone is one of hope and encouragement. The support she has always received from her parents, as well as the example they have shown her, give a clear indication of how she became the person she is. There is much fodder for discussion here. 

The photographs were interesting, but the pull-out quotes - often placed right next to the same sentences in the text body - were more distracting than anything. A good introduction for someone who is not ready for her whole autobiography, and appropriate for those ubiquitous read-a-biography-and-report-on-it assignments.

Gift accompaniments: Pledge a certain amount of money to a charity - The Malala Fund, or any other charity your reader chooses.
Books about other children who have stood up to make a difference:

or about Pakistan:

   

Books to go with a book? What a fantastic idea!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Another Halloween Intermission! Review: Lulu and the Witch Baby

Lulu and the Witch Baby
9780062305176


I was pleased to meet Lulu and her extremely squishable little sister last year. As you can guess from the title, little sister is front and center in this one, but Lulu is NOT finding her nearly as adorable as I am. Of course, I do not have Witch Baby spitting food at me and tearing up my best drawings. Then again, I also do not have a book of spells for making things disappear...

Anyone with a little sibling will appreciate Lulu's frustrations, and Sinclair's illustrations are, again, just too darn cute! You may be seeing this soon at a story time near you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Halloween Intermission: Monster Buddies Series by Shannon Knudson

A slight intermission from our Christmas gift-giving series to highlight some books perfect for Halloween - or any other time!

I'm All Wrapped Up!: Meet a Mummy   I'm a Fire Breather!: Meet a Dragon   Pull Ahead Biographies Set Iv Character Cards

As the name implies, these are not meant to be terribly scary books. I would give them to children who are curious about scary creatures, but who still need the reassurance that they are not real. Text and pictures are just on the edge of gory - Roscoe the zombie talks about eating brains, but all we see on the table are glasses of bubbly red liquid, which we can presume is blood (looks more like Fanta), and closed take-out containers of "Brain Nuggets". Each has a little bit of historical information (Egyptian mummies, Chinese dragons), but focuses on the movie versions. At the end you'll find a simple art project (mostly drawing), a glossary, index, and further resources.

Other titles in the series cover ghosts, vampires, witches, werewolves, and aliens. We will be getting them all soon!

P.S. The mummy and I share the same first name. She even spells it right!

Monday, October 13, 2014

72 Shopping Days Left! Review: Party Time Series

Okay, look, we can't all be the queen of Pinterest. Most of us aren't ridiculously rich, either. Our kids' birthday parties can't all involve pony rides and bouncy houses and rock bands. Fortunately, my kids and their friends all being mountain kids means I can put out a cake, fill a trash can outside with water, and say, "Have a ball. Don't bite the mountain lion."

As kids get older, though, they start to want something a bit different. Fortunately, at that stage they can start doing some of the planning themselves! This series from Lerner, aimed at teens/preteens, gives some great ideas to start the brainstorming and get the creative juices flowing.

Plan a Birthday Party
9781467738354

In "Plan a Birthday Party", Stephanie Watson gives suggestions for locations (from mundane to unusual), cake alternatives (sundae bar!), and entertainment (henna!). A simple checklist helps really put the responsibility on the party planner. A few etiquette tips are mentioned gently, but can't go amiss. 

Plan an Outdoor Party
9781467738330

I was hoping this one would have ideas for all seasons, but it focuses on summer time. Again, there are suggestions for food (to BBQ or not to BBQ?), creating a guest list without drama, and the helpful checklist. Pest control (including pets and siblings) is addressed, as well as house rules, and not overscheduling - things that might not be first on a teen's mind, but which can help things run SO much more smoothly!

Other titles in the series include Holiday and Sleepover parties, and we will be purchasing those as well. My only concern is that I may have to hand sell them at first, simply because it's not a section teens think to look at. A good collection for a special display!

Gift accompaniment? A party, of course! If you have a birthday coming up, you are all set (Shane's and Sheridan's are both around Christmas, but so far they are in the earlier, easy to please category!). Or, plan a party together for Christmas break - something to beat the post-holiday, miss-my-friends doldrums. And make sure to invite me!


Saturday, October 11, 2014

500? Seriously??

Would you believe this is my 500th post? Who would have thought I would have that much to say?

Don't answer that.

What can I do to celebrate? 
I don't have $500 to give away. I don't have $5.00.
List my 500 favorite books? Maybe not.

Let's do an internet search for "500"and see if we get any ideas...

According to Wikipedia, 500 is  "the natural number following 499 and preceding 501" Gee, thanks for that news flash. Very helpful.

Wikipedia also lists the year 500 as a leap year. Did they have leap years back then? Must check Wikipedia to find out...

500 years ago, around this date, Mary Tudor wed King Louis XII of France. Not sure what to do with that information. I'm already married.

Try to get on the Fortune 500 list? I'll keep working on that.

Wax poetical about the Indy 500? Um...

Pledge to run 500 miles this year? 500 yards? 500 feet? Never mind.

500 appears to be the name of a card game...which looks way too complicated for my brain to grasp right now. "Go Fish" is too complicated for my brain these days.

Ooh, this is a Harley 500:
I wonder if that comes with car seats?

Go golfing at the 500 Club? Or stick a fork in my eye 500 times? Decisions, decisions...

Ooh, here's another 500 Club that looks to be a little more lively. Quite a drive for a drink, though (even if it does promise 'ne'er-do-wells')

Post 500 pictures of cute kittens? (This is the internet, after all.)


Apparently, 500 degrees is "the optimal temperature of a burger-ready cooking surface". Who knew? Perhaps I should make burgers tonight?

This internet searching isn't helping me much...think I could sneak time to read for 500 minutes straight? Nap for 500 minutes straight? What could I eat 500 of (not burgers)? 

Type 500 words amounting to basically nothing, but qualifying somehow as a blog post anyway? Hey, I can do that!*



*Did you seriously just count the words? Seriously?? You are even worse than I am at wasting time, aren't you? And you came up with too few words and you are about to call me out on it. Well, guess what, buddy: at the end of this next sentence it will be 500 words, and you will have to say that you are really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really really sorry for doubting me. So there.