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Viewing: Blog Posts from the Reviews category, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 149,360
26. The Time Machine Audiobook Review

Title: The Time Machine Author: H.G. Wells Narrated by: Sir Derek Jacobi Publisher: Listening Library Publication Date: June 11, 2013 Listening copy via Sync H.G. Wells' The Time Machine is one of those science fiction classics that I just never got around to reading, so I thought listening to a free Sync copy would be a perfect way to finally get around to it. I've seen the Hollywood

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27. Mystery Eggs

Why do long holiday weekends go by so fast? Probably because I try and cram so much into them. And did I ever cram this weekend.

The garden is doing great. I picked so many peas this week I couldn’t keep up and had to start freezing them. This makes me very happy because I love peas so much and now even after the peas are done producing I will have some for a little longer especially since I have only just begun picking them.

Black raspberries

Black raspberries

Last week I mentioned the black raspberries were turning red, well, once they go red, they don’t take but a couple days to turn black and ripe. So I have started picking. The netting has done well to keep critters away. I have never had black raspberries before and was expecting them to be a bit tart like the red ones but they are slightly sweet, rich and kind of earthy, if that makes sense. Very tasty. Since this is only their second year there aren’t a huge amount but there will be enough to make into something, so as they get ripe I have been picking and then freezing them. Once they are all ripe we’ll see how much there is and go from there. I like them very much and may just have to plant some more in the chicken garden.

Last week I said I wasn’t going to bother to pick the elderberries but I changed my mind. I picked about a dozen very ripe berries and then froze them. The gooseberries are starting to get ripe and I even have a few

Gooseberries

Gooseberries

red currents, so I am freezing all of those too. I figure between gooseberries, currents and elderberries I might be able to cook up a tasty bit of jam. Why is it that so many berry bushes have thorns? The black raspberries have tiny ones but they will still get you if you aren’t careful. The current has very tiny ones that are just big enough to get your attention. The gooseberries have big, dangerous thorns that hurt like heck. When I am picking them I sing a little song called “Ouch” over the shrub. It has not yet drawn blood but I suspect it is only a matter of time.

I picked a bunch of radishes this week too. I had some sliced up on my tempeh sandwich today along with broccoli sprouts and a little mustard. So tasty! When picking radishes I realized I have to get better at thinning. I had thinned them but not aggressively enough which means much smaller radishes in spots where they are crammed together. If I had thinned them better I would have fewer radishes but the ones I did have would be much, much larger. I had to thin the beets and I think I did a better job at it. We shall see.

Looks like snake eggs but is really a fungus, darn

Looks like snake eggs but is really a fungus, darn

Here is the garden mystery of the week. Bookman was weeding and found a nest of eggs. They were in an especially sandy part of the garden and all together in a clutch, each one about the size of a walnut. What could have laid them? I investigated. They are white, felt firm and smooth but a little leathery. They look very much like snake eggs. So I did some snake research. Minnesota has 17 different kinds of snakes and of those only nine lay eggs. Of those nine two are very rare. Of the remaining seven because of range and habitat I was able to narrow down the possibilities to two. I decided that it wasn’t a gopher snake because they like to eat rodents, frogs and small birds and our garden isn’t exactly a prime food source for those critters. Squirrels on the other hand… So I decided the eggs must belong to a smooth green snake that solely eats insects, especially crickets of which we have an abundance. I was so excited about the prospect of having snakes in the garden that I’d go out an check on the eggs every evening to see if they had hatched.

Today when I checked on them I discovered that they aren’t eggs at all! It turns out they are a species of fungus called mutinus elegans, also known as elegant stinkhorn, dog stinkhorn, headless stinkhorn and, my favorite, devil’s dipstick. We’ve had the single red fruiting stalks pop up around the garden last year but they are in abundance this year. Turns out the red stalk grows out of the white eggs. When I checked on the “snake eggs” today, there were a number of the red stalks growing out of them. Fungi are good and this one is a rather weird, if rude looking one (Bookman says they look like a dog’s penis, which is true and which also might clue you in on why one of their common names is “devil’s dipstick” wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Still, I can’t help but be disappointed that I won’t be mothering any baby green snakes.

We’ve had a setback with the chicken garden, the area formerly known as garage. Bookman and I went out with rakes to rake up the sand into a pile and get to work on breaking up the compacted soil beneath. It turns out the one place we had dug beneath the sand is just about the only place in the entire area that has actual dirt under it. The rest really is nothing but sand. Well and so, there is more work to do to than previously thought. How does one go about turning sand into soil? One must add lots and lots and lots of organic material. To begin, we set up the old round black plastic compost bin we took down from the main garden last year when we built a two room post and wire bin. Good thing we saved the old plastic bin! We put it in a spot close to where we think we might plant a cheery tree next year. Since our two room bins are full we have already begun adding to the plastic bin.

Before the garage came down I was assuming there would be dirt beneath it that would need help and bought several different annual cover crops. I don’t know if they will grow in sand. An experiment is in order. I marked off an area and seeded some buckwheat. If it sprouts in a week or so I’ll mark off a few other areas and sow more. If the buckwheat doesn’t sprout I have some hairy vetch and winter oats I can try. If those aren’t successful then an inquiry into having topsoil delivered is in order and/or raised bed gardening until the soil in the whole area is generally improved. No matter how you look at it, those chickens are going to have their work cut out for them. Actually, all they have to do is poop, all the work falls to me.

We have the fence installation arranged but the work is 6-8 weeks out on their schedule. In the meantime, we are in the process of ordering the shed kit and arranging its delivery. Then we get to build it. Once the shed is up we’ll start work on the chicken coop. Huzzah!

Biking
I can happily report that Astrid and I are crash free this week! My scrapes are healing and my bruises have reached that oh so very colorful stage. It was nice to not add any new ones. It also made for a better ride. I am really liking “my route.” This week I thought I would add a bit more distance but instead decided to keep the same distance but just do some sprint intervals in a great section of trail that is paved, flat, fairly straight, wide, crosses no vehicular intersections for a several miles and is not crowded with slow moving cyclists or people out walking their dogs. It worked out really well and I had fun and was pleasantly tired when I got home. I’m looking forward to doing it again next week.

In spite of the summer warmth, Bookman has been getting out on evening rides with me a couple times a week. As long as he keeps moving he doesn’t overheat and doesn’t feel the fatigue (both are MS symptoms). We have a 22 mile/35 km route we’ve done a couple times that seems to work well for him.

We had been planning on doing the half-century route In October at a ride in Mankato, Minnesota but it is close to an hour and half drive to get there so we decided to do the 60-mile route at Jesse James Days in Northfield which is less than an hour’s drive from us. Plus 60 miles is a metric century so that’s something! They have a 100 mile /161 km route that we will do next year. The Mankato ride offers pie at one of their rest stations which is a great temptation, but the Jesse James ride has free massages at the end. If only there were a ride with pie and a massage that would be be oh so heavenly.


Filed under: biking, gardening Tagged: blakc raspberries, chickens, cover crops, Elegant stinkhorn, Jesse James Days, smooth green snake

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28. Backmatter

Five reasons why backmatter is important in nonfiction.

http://groggorg.blogspot.com/2015/06/five-reasons-why-back-matter-matters-in.html?spref=tw&m=1

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29. 2015 Clallam Bay Comicon

Contact: Donna Barr, phone 360 963 2935, email donnabarr01@gmail.com
CLALLAM BAY, WASHINGTON - The Clallam Bay Comicon is July 11-12, 2015, at the Lion's Club at 90 Bogachiel Way, Clallam Bay, Washington. Free admission. $25 tables. For more information: 360 963 2935 or donnabarr01@gmail.com



Donna Barr: comics * illustration * portraits * storyboards * murals * bookstore: http://www.donnabarr.com

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30. “Literary employments are so vexed with uncertainties”

“…I found the July days fly fast, and it was not until I felt myself confronted with too great pride and pleasure in the display, one night, of two dollars and twenty-seven cents which I had taken in during the day, that I remembered a long piece of writing, sadly belated now, which I was bound to do. To have been patted kindly on the shoulder and called “darlin’,” to have been offered a surprise of early mushrooms for supper, to have had all the glory of making two dollars and twenty-seven cents in a single day, and then to renounce it all and withdraw from these pleasant successes, needed much resolution. Literary employments are so vexed with uncertainties at best, and it was not until the voice of conscience sounded louder in my ears than the sea on the nearest pebble beach that I said unkind words of withdrawal to Mrs. Todd.”

—Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs

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31. #711 – What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig! by Emma J. Virján

coverWhat This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig

Written & Illustrated by Emma J. Virján
HarperCollins Children’s Books
05/12/2015
978-0-06-232724-6
32 pages      Age 1—3

“What this story needs is a pig in a wig on a boat with some friends having fun in the sun–So come on board! Join Pig on an exciting boat ride where she discovers that life is a lot more fun with more friends.”[back cover]

Review
NOTE: This review is a tad unusual. It mixes my traditional review format with interview questions asked of the pig in a wig.
What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig will instantly remind you of dear ole Dr. Seuss. The author employs fast-paced writing combined with simple, but effective, rhymes young children will love to hear and repeat. The narrator sends Pig, wearing a stunning pink wig—what is with that wig—sailing the moat in a boat. Why would a pig wear a wig? Well, I asked Pig and she said (rather emphatically),

“Wigs are fun and I’m a pig that loves to have fun!”

If you venture to Pig’s website—and I do suggest you do—you will find Pig is not simply a pink wig gal.

im5

Back to the story: One by one, the narrator adds a menagerie of interesting, kid-friendly animals to the boat in the moat. A frog, a dog, and a goat on a log join Pig in her wig. But there are more. A rat, wearing a cool hat, sits on a trunk—belonging to an elephant—with a skunk, who is with a mouse in a house. I was beginning to wonder what other animal could possibly be added to the small boat in the moat, when Pig yelled at the narrator. I asked Pig why she stopped all of the narrator’s fun. I thought it was very exciting having rhyming animals set sail. Pig had a different point of view:

“It was getting crowded, too crowded — a frog, a dog, a goat on a log,
a rat in a hat on a trunk, with a skunk, in a house, with a mouse AND
a panda in a blouse? It was more than my little, pink boat could handle.”

Pig is right, the small boat is crowded. So, beginning with the Panda—she performs a cannonball—the narrator reverses course, sending the animals out of the boat and into the moat. Once they leave, the narrator changes the story:

“What this story needs
is a pig in a wig,
on a boat,
in a moat,
having fun,
in the sun,
on her own . . .”

Now, all alone in her boat, Pig is sailing the moat. I think Pig is lonely and realizes she enjoyed her new animal friends. So the pig in a pink wig called for her new friends to return. Taking charge of the narration, Pig decides what the story needs . . .

im 1

Pig in a Wig, is a fun story young children will love to hear. The rhyming is simple, yet smart and witty. Kids will be reciting Pig in a Wig and, hopefully, figuring out their own rhyming group of friends. The illustrations are clean and engaging. Many pages hold surprises, such as a pig snout rug, Frog doing a hand-stand, and Dog and Goat holding hands. Dr. Seuss would love Pig in a Wig, which happens to be the same size as an iconic Dr. Seuss book. The simple story will charm young children during story time at school or a library. What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig is so much fun to read I hope to see Pig in new stories.

I asked one last question, wondering, with all those charismatic animals on board, who is Pig’s favorite passenger. She said,

“Well . . . none were my favorite at the beginning, as they were all getting
in my way of having fun in the sun! At the end though, ALL of them were
my favorite, with Goat on his log being my extra, extra favorite.”

WHAT THIS STORY NEEDS IS A PIG IN A WIG. Text and illustrations copyright (C) 2015 by . Reproduced by permission of the publisher, HarperCollins Children’s Books, New York, NY.

Purchase What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig at AmazonBook DepositoryApple iBooksHarperCollins Children’s Books.

Learn more about What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig HERE.
There are Coloring Sheet HERE
An Activity Guide HERE
And a Teacher’s Guide HERE

Pig in a Wig’s website:  http://emmavirjan.com/pig-in-a-wig/
Meet the author/illustrator, Emma J. Virján, at her website: http://www.emmavirjan.com
Find more engaging picture books a the HarperCollins Children’s Books website:  http://www.harpercollins.com/

x
Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

Review section word count = 453     

Full Disclosure: What This Story Needs is a Pig in a Wig, by Emma J. Virján, and received from HarperCollins Children’s Books, is in exchange NOT for a positive review, but for an HONEST review. The opinions expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: beginning readers, Dr. Seuss, Emma J. Virján, HarperCollins Children’s Books, phonetics, Pig in a Wig, repetition, rhyming picture book, swimming in a moat, What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig!

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32. Review and Giveaway: Wicked Embers by Keri Arthur

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I loved Fireborn, so I was eager to dive into Wicked Embers.  While I did enjoy it, the non-ending was a letdown for me.  I prefer at least the illusion of completeness, even if I know that the larger, more complicated plot threats won’t be wrapped up until later in the series.  I didn’t even get my faux ending here; instead, Emberly, Jackson, and Rory manage to survive a no-holds barred battle with some vampires and bam!  It’s the last page.  So the grade did take a knock for that.

Emberly has a lot to keep her busy.  She keeps having dreams about a mysterious creature with backward feet that sucks organs from corpses, there is a passel of nasty vampires after her, she’s made more werewolf enemies, and Sam, her love of this life, still hasn’t forgiven her for not being honest about what she is.  All of this keeps her on her toes and fighting for answers.  As the frequency of her dreams increase, she’s desperate to track down the creature before it moves from the recently deceased to killing its own victims.  She and Jackson are also looking for a backup of research notes, which may or may not exist, about the Crimson Death, which turns its victims into mindless killing machines.  The red cloaks, victims of the red plague, are controlled by a psycho wearing a gray cloak, who is also after Emberly for nefarious purposes. She is thrust from one precarious situation to the next, with hardly any time to catch her breath! 

Even though the book is almost 400 pages long, the pacing is such that I polished it off very quickly.  I was reluctant to put down my Kindle, and I was happy I waited until the weekend to start this, because I stayed up past my bedtime reading away.  While we learn a little more about phoenixes and the fae, I wish the world building was a bit more robust.  Details about the creatures populating the series are slowly teased out, which can occasionally be frustrating. 

I like all of the characters, especially Emberly and Sam.  Emberly is tough, and I get a real sense that she isn’t human.  She’s a spirit, a creature made of fire, and in order to survive, she needs Rory, her life mate, to recharge her energy and ensure that she reborn from one life to the next.  Because of their symbiotic relationship, phoenixes are cursed.  They need their life mate, but they will never be in love with their life mate.  Instead, there is one person that they are fated to fall in love with every lifetime, only to have their love rejected.  Emberly’s love is Sam, but he, understandably, just can’t wrap his head around the need to have Rory in the picture, too.  It didn’t help that Emberly wasn’t up front with Sam about herself, so Sam just thinks she’s cheating on him with Rory.  I can see how that would be a relationship breaker!

I’m hooked on this series, and I can hardly wait to see what happens next.  Thanks to Signet, I have a copy to give away to one of you.  Just fill out the widget below to enter!

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

Keri Arthur, New York Times bestselling author of Fireborn, presents the thrilling new Souls of Fire Novel featuring Emberly Pearson, a phoenix that can transform into a human—and is haunted by the ability to foresee death….

Crimson Death, the plague like virus spawned from a failed government experiment to isolate the enzymes that make vampires immortal, continues to spread. Emberly and her partner, Jackson Miller, are desperately seeking the stolen research for a cure before the virus becomes a pandemic.

But their mission is jeopardized by another threat uncovered in Emberly’s prophetic dreams. A creature of ash and shadow has been unleashed on a murdering spree. Now Emberly must summon all her gifts and investigative knowledge to put an end to this entity’s brutal rampage—even if it means placing herself in harm’s way….

Enter to win a copy of WICKED EMBERS!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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33. DC Comics Needs To "Up" Its Game

It seems to be a trend people are noticing.  DC Comics items get only half the views as items about Disney-Marvel Comics.  Back in the 1980s/1990s, fanzines and other news from either company got equal reactions/views but since the internet DC really does appear to have dropped down the hole more.

Ignoring the pundits who are calling the various so far not released movies "failures" Marvel comics still attracts more attention.  Interestingly, Comicgirl19 just uploaded a non-spoilers review of her viewing of the movie at the premiere of Ant Man -she loved it.

Quite obviously, DC needs to push the PR more.  Push and promote action figures, trades and so on because those you find online are VASTLY over-priced based on the fact that the Batman V Superman movie will feature Wonder Woman and might feature other DC heroes so, as with the Sub-Mariner merchandise hyped prices -I made it as clear as I could that there was NO Sub-Mariner movie in the works but ignore me. Pay incredible prices for stuff that...well, is not worth 0.2% of what you paid- so the scum traders are pushing "rumoured to be in the new Batman-Superman movie!" to sell over priced items.

DC comics never read CBO (I understand their focus is on Tales From The Kryptonian) but, guys -info!!


"Super-Man fighting is poised ready to take on the World's villains. This official licensed product from Schleich is hand painted and intricately modelled. It is the perfect gift for any DC Comics/Superman/Justice League fan or collector."

$5.14.  Yours for $17.50   In the UK new and boxed from a shop -£5.49 -on Amazon or Ebay -£9.95, £11.00, £17.00+  exploiters are drooling.  Incidentally, in the UK £9.95 -free postage" is NOT free postage because that price includes postage more than you'd need -seller extra profit.

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34. Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley, 304 pp, RL 4

Art by Diana Sudyka Circus Mirandus is the debut novel by Cassie Beasley and it comes with a lot of advance excitement, a movie deal and praise, all of which are deserved. When I first read the blurb for Circus Mirandus, I was reminded of a book that made an impression on me when I was in junior high, Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes. And, while both books are set at a

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35. 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #439: Featuring Akiko Miyakoshi


It just so happens that my very favorite medium in picture book illustration is charcoal. I get all googly-eyed when I see it done well. But that’s not the only reason I love this book from author-illustrator Akiko Miyakoshi, The Tea Party in the Woods, coming in August from Kids Can Press and originally published in Japan back in 2010. The visuals here are pure magic and filled with intriguing details, and the story is one of mystery and friendship.

A young girl, named Kikko, awakes to a “winter wonderland.” She heads out to deliver a pie to her Grandma, the one that her father, who has already set out for Grandma’s house, left behind. This is all slightly reminiscent of the classic tale “Little Red Riding Hood” in that the girl’s destination involves her grandmother, and her skirt and winter hat are bright reds (much like Red’s cape) in a sea of white snow and dark charcoals. But that’s where the similarities end: There’s no menacing wolf here.

Instead, she is fairly sure after heading out that she spots her father ahead, and in an effort to catch up to him, she falls in snow drifts and the pie box is crushed. She follows her father anyway to “a strange house. Has it always been here? Kikko wondered.”

 


“Kikko followed her father all the way to a strange house. Has it always been here? Kikko wondered. She couldn’t remember having seen it before.
She watched as her father went inside.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Her father enters the house, and when she peeks in the window, she is surprised to see, not her father, but a great big bear. A kind lamb asks Kikko, still outside, if she is there for the tea party. She goes inside with the lamb, and here is where the magic and mystery amp up. There is a fabulous spread where all the creatures at this party—forest creatures of every stripe—turn to stare at her. But Miyakoshi places readers right with Kikko, so it’s the reader who gets a stare-down too. It’s a wonderful, rather spine-tingling moment.

 


“‘Are you here for the tea party?’ asked a kind voice. Kikko turned to see a little lamb standing nearby. ‘This way,’ said the lamb,
gently taking Kikko’s hand and leading her inside.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Despite their stares, they welcome her. And the feasting begins, Kikko’s yellow hair the only spot of color in this sea of charcoals. (Later, we see a bit more color when we pan out to see the group as a whole.) I love to see happy feasts in picture books, one reason I’m a John Burningham fan. The book closes with a lovely surprise from the tea party members, one that benefits both Kikko and her grandmother. (It’s hinted at in the illustration opening this post.)

Was it all a dream or did she really feast with forest creatures? It doesn’t really matter. The adventure was worth it, either way.

 


“The woods were filled with joyful sounds as everyone paraded to Grandma’s house, singing and laughing and playing music as they went. ‘This way!’ the animals called. Kikko held the pie box tightly and walked on.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


 

Here’s the splendid cover one more time, a little bit bigger:

 



 

THE TEA PARTY IN THE WOODS. Copyright © 2010 by Akiko Miyakoshi. English translation © 2015 by Kids Can Press. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Kids Can Press, Toronto.

* * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Did I mention I love to see charcoal illustrations like this?

2) Being thanked by name by Dan Santat in his Caldecott acceptance speech last weekend. It was tremendously thoughtful of him to thank bloggers.

3) Lots of great new music to explore.

4) Alabama Shakes’ new CD really is extraordinary.

5) Brian Selznick’s drawings.

6) Sparklers.

7) Pie.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

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36. Live Blogging from #Nerdcampmi Monday and Tuesday

We know we didn't do such a great job of live blogging from All Write, as we had planned. But Franki will be at #NerdcampMi and she'll be adding live updates to the blog as the throughout the event. This is one of our favorite events of the year so we'd also recommend following it on Twitter if you are not attending.

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37. Weekend Links: Celebrating Our Wonderful Earth with Booklists (and a Giveaway!)

Welcome to Weekend Links! This is my chance to share the best-of-the-best thanks to my online travels of the course of the week. This week has been filled with wonderful booklists and activities surrounding loving and celebrating our Earth and all that inhabit it. Here are some of my top picks this week.

weekend links

This week we’ve been celebrating the planet we live on, Earth. Earlier this week I created a very Love the Earth  booklist which honors amazing people preserving and restoring areas on our planet as well as others reusing items to accomplish great feats. The great thing about this list is that I am giving it away!

Love the Earth booklist

Enter to win the Giveaway HERE and don’t delay! It ends July 13th

Seems to me it’s SharK Week on Animal Planet so I though this booklist from Brain Power Boy was very fitting :)

shark booklist

Sharks!  They can be so fascinating and just a bit scary as well. We found some great non-fiction shark books for your boys.

{just for fun}

sharkweek

Mia at PragmaticMom had a wonderful book review of a book that lets young readers readers explore the ocean floor. Explore Ocean Forests with Non Fiction eBook

Explore the Ocean Floor

Since we are looking way down low into the ocean floor, let’s look way up high at the sky. Here’s a great past JIAB post that will help get your family interested in stargazing! Stargazing & Astronomy Booklist for the whole family.

stargazing booklist

I loved encouraging kids and families to GET OUTSIDE! That’s why I adore this Backpack Nature Books and FieldGuides Booklist from KCEdventures! “Outdoor guides for kids to take on their next hike — what a fun way to encourage reading this summer!”

field guides for kids

Speaking of “getting outside”…did you know that my book A Year in the Secret Garden is filled with all sorts of outdoors activities inspired by the classic children’s book The Secret Garden?

SecretGardenCoverLeft-e1407422792456

Enjoy more month-by-month activities based on the classic children’s tale, The Secret Garden! A Year in the Secret Garden is a delightful children’s book with over 120 pages, with 150 original color illustrations and 48 activities for your family and friends to enjoy, learn, discover and play with together. AND, it’s on sale for a limited time! Grab your copy ASAP and “meet me in the garden!” More details HERE! http://amzn.to/1DTVnuX

The post Weekend Links: Celebrating Our Wonderful Earth with Booklists (and a Giveaway!) appeared first on Jump Into A Book.

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38. Stats from the Slushpile: A Decade of Dreaming

Hello again, slush fans. As anyone who's seen my Museum of Me series will attest, I like to keep hold of stuff from my past and inflict it upon share it with my loyal readers. Now that I've been writing seriously for a decade (actually slightly more, but 10 & 3/4 years didn't sound as good) it felt like time to take stock of my journey so far. And what a journey it hasn't been. Well, not in

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39. {Indie Spotlight & Free eBook} THE PRESENTING SAGA by Diana Petkovic

In the summer of 2005, while walking the shores of Lake Simcoe, and then down a woodsy trail in Jackson’s Point, Ontario, writer Diana Petkovic had a sense that she was somewhere special.  It wasn’t until a few months later, that she realized she’d been in the perfect setting for her first novel, Presenting.  Now, a decade later, the four books of The Presenting Saga are complete.  They tell

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40. {Quick-fire Review} PRETENDING TO BE ERICA by Michelle Painchaud

by andye PRETENDING TO BE ERICAby Michelle PainchaudAge Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and upHardcover: 272 pagesPublisher: Viking Books for Young Readers (July 21, 2015)Goodreads | Amazon Seventeen-year-old Violet’s entire life has revolved around one thing: becoming Erica Silverman, an heiress kidnapped at age five and never seen again. Violet’s father, the best con man in Las Vegas, has a

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41. Book Review: Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman

Book: Will Sparrow's Road
Author: Karen Cushman
Published: 2012
Source: Local Library

Sold by his father for ale, mistreated by his new master, twelve-year-old Will Sparrow takes off, vowing to care only for himself. But the world of Elizabethan England isn't known for its kindness to the young and the vulnerable, and Will is taken advantage of time and again.

When he falls in with a most unusual group - a dwarf man, a cat-faced girl, their wagon full of oddities, and Tidball, the man who owns them all - Will thinks he's found a place to belong, at least for a little while. But how long can such a life last?

I love Karen Cushman's writing for the vivid way it brings history to life, but also for its complicated, realistic, and not always likeable main characters. Will is both hardened by life and tremendously naive, taking people at face value yet unsurprised when they betray him. Both of these qualities are things he has to unlearn in the course of the book. When he meets Fitz and Grace Wyse, he dismisses them as freaks and believes in his new master's promises of food and pay. But as Tidball breaks those promises over and over, and both Fitz and Grace prove to be more than the brawler and the monster Tidball calls them, he learns both to look beyond the surface and to trust that others will be there for him.

History is generally a hard sell for kids, and the first part of this book moves somewhat slowly. It picks up when he meets Tidball, but the changes in both Will and how he sees others still unfold at a gradual, if realistic pace.While it takes place four hundred years ago, Will's loneliness and his found family will strike a chord with kids willing to dive in.

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42. ALA 2015: event recap + giveaway!

I’m back from the American Library Conference in San Francisco! Well, I’ve been back for almost a week, but was so wiped out (and still nursing minor injuries), so this post is just now going live. But here I am with tidbits and goodies to share. Fair warning that I was bad at taking photos this year, but it was for good reason–I was having such a good time that I often forgot! Last year’s trip was great, but ALA 2015 surpassed my expectations, in ways I didn’t even imagine. Stick around, since we’re also giving away TWO prizes–a box of 10 coveted ARCS to a U.S. reader, and an awesome tote “Reading is my Everything, Everthing” bag filled with swag to an international reader. The Authors There were so many great authors at ALA this year, and I trotted around like an obedient pony trying to find them all.... Read more »

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43. Meet Bess Crawford

A Duty To The Dead. (Bess Crawford #1) Charles Todd. 2009. HarperCollins. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

Bess Crawford is a war nurse during 'the Great War.' One of her dying patients, Arthur Graham, asked her to give a message to his brother, Jonathan. The message made little sense to her personally. Something about him being sorry for having lied, and, how it was to protect their mother. She doesn't know for sure if he'll understand it either, but, a promise is a promise. So several months after his death, and, just a little bit after her own close call--the ship she was on sank--she sets out with her message to visit the Graham family.

I loved, loved, LOVED A Duty to the Dead. I loved it for so many reasons. I think Bess Crawford is a great heroine--narrator. She's sympathetic, patient, and observant. She has a way of seeing right into people, and, not jumping to conclusions in the process. Always one to give the benefit of the doubt, I suppose. She has seen a lot, heard a lot that's for sure. But Bess isn't the only reason I loved the book. Far from it. For having a good "detective" only takes you so far. What I appreciated was the depth of the characterization of the other characters. Primarily of the Graham family, but, also of others in and around that community and her own. We briefly get an idea of what her own family is like. How much she loves her father, and, appreciates a close friend of the family, Simon.

So. The mystery itself I loved. It begins, of course, with her delivering the message to the Graham family. But that is just the start. She doesn't deliver the message and go, no, it turns into an at-times-very-awkward social visit. Soon Bess finds herself piecing together all the clues of a HUGE family secret. And she can't leave it alone because it's so outrageous...

The writing was excellent. I loved the setting and tone. I appreciated the characterization even if some of the characters were super-creepy. It is a great start to a series I'm eager to read all of!!!

Have you met Bess Crawford? I'd love to know what you thought!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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44. My Writing and Reading Life: Dan Scott

Dan Scott was born in Surrey, England. Growing up, he became interested in ancient Rome and his love of historical fiction provided plenty of inspiration for the adventure stories he began to write as a child. Eventually, his characters and stories developed into the action-packed Gladiator School series.

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45. Best Selling Kids Series | July 2015

This month's best selling kids series from The Children's Book Review's affiliate store is perfect for avoiding the summer slide, it's the new popular series Star Wars Workbooks.

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46. The Answer is Yes -- reflections on the power of literature, of stories, of community

My friends, we live in a time when the world is being thrown about by so many forces. There are times when I feel swept under by the prejudice and hate that still engulfs our world. But then I look at the way we are able to create good in small measures--especially through sharing stories and songs and community--and I know that we can recreate our worlds step by step.

celebrating the Coretta Scott King Awards with Emerson students and staff

Christian Robinson
& Patricia Hruby Powell
I was thrilled and honored to share the Coretta Scott King Awards celebration with two students and two staff members from my school community. The awardees' speeches are still reverberating within me. Christian Robinson spoke about how Josephine Baker had always inspired him with her courage and determination, and then he and Patricia Hruby Powell danced with delight.

Kwame Alexander, accepting the CSK honor award for The Crossover, read a poem he had written just a few nights before, filled with hope, pain, and the determination to change the world for our children.

Christopher Myers, in his acceptance speech, talked about giving up on the world:
"I can barely hear, over the silence of all those children, those lives that we have cut out of our literature. I am frightened by the possibilities that all of their voices, so long censored, can only now be heard on news broadcasts in burning cities, on endless loops of helicopter film footage."
The pain he talked about reverberates through me--as an educator, I am so disheartened by the persistent racial achievement gap in my community. And yet, Chris also talked about the power of stories to change our world, to create new worlds for our children.
"I’d just about given up on the world.

Then I remembered that I am a storyteller, and in the hands of a storyteller, we can make new worlds. Our narratives can carry the full weight of the past and build infinite futures. With pens and word processors, with paint and ink and collage, we can, like Misty, like my father, create possibilities where there weren’t any before. Rewrite reality. And there will be days I want to give up on the world as it is, but I will never give up on the worlds that I have yet to make, the worlds that my friends are making, the worlds that all of us here share and do so much to bring into reality."
Jacqueline Woodson began her speech by talking about the power of community, the power of gathering together in a room to celebrate and to share. In this age of online communication, it is so important to carve out time to be together in person.

But then she went on to talk about the strength of our broader community, both in the ancestors that walk with us every day and the people who hold us up here and now.
"We are here because of our ancestors and elders and the people who hold us up every day — thanks for helping all of us never forget them or the way each of us finds a way to make a way out of no way — every single day. Thank you so much, all of you who believe in Diverse Books, who believe in keeping young brown children — and all children — dreaming."
This community of authors, illustrators, and librarians comes together to keep our children dreaming in the possible, in making new realities. It is hard work, advocating and supporting and promoting good literature that speaks to children. But together we can.

I love how good teaching passes from one person to another, creating a life of its own. Nikki Giovanni wrote in her profile of Newbery-winning author Kwame Alexander,
"Kwame learned maybe only one thing…from me…The
Answer Is Yes…
Yes to small cities and Book Festivals around the country who needed
a writing friend…Yes to starting his own Book Festival…
His own publishing company…His own line of greeting
cards and posters…Yes to his own idea of empowering
young writers by helping them publish a Book-in-a-
Day…Yes to the excitement of life…to writing on the
road…to growing taller and stronger while trusting that
vision and strength…and every time he said Yes we all
said Yes to him…"
The Answer is Yes. That's it. I want to share that buoyancy, that power to keep afloat, with my students. And I am sure, as sure as I can be, that our stories help us not only see ourselves but also see what our world can be. The Answer is Yes.

Please take the time to read the Coretta Scott King Award acceptance speeches, published in The Horn Book and available online.

Thank you to Andrea Davis Pinkney who helped me bring my students to the CSK breakfast. Thank you to all the honored authors and artists for inspiring us to keep sharing stories with students and with each other. Thank you to my family for supporting me and helping me celebrate with the world beyond our immediate community.

©2015 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

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47. ALSC Online Courses Start in One Week!

Summer 2015 ALSC Online CoursesCheck your clock! You have one more week to sign up for ALSC online courses for summer 2015. Classes begin Monday, July 13, 2015.

Two of the courses being offered this semester are eligible for continuing education units (CEUs) by the International Association of Continuing Education and Training (IACET). ALSC online courses are designed to fit the needs of working professionals. Courses are taught by experienced librarians and academics. As participants frequently noted in post-course surveys, ALSC stresses quality and caring in its online education options. For more information on ALSC online learning, please visit: http://www.ala.org/alsced

NEW! It’s Mutual: School and Public Library Collaboration
6 weeks, July 13 – August 21, 2015

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs Made Easy
4 weeks, July 13 – August 7, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 1.2 CEUs

Storytelling with Puppets
4 weeks, July 13 – August 7, 2015
CEU Certified Course, 2.2 CEUs

Detailed descriptions and registration information is available on the ALSC Online Learning website. Fees are $115 for personal ALSC members; $165 for personal ALA members; and $185 for non-members. Questions? Please contact ALSC Program Officer for Continuing Education, Kristen Sutherland, 1 (800) 545-2433 ext 4026.

Image above provided by ALSC.

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48. Review Goodies From Bloomsbury And Allen And Unwin!



And here they are! I admit I've had the Angie Sage and Neil Gaiman books the longest, but be patient and you'll hear about them all. Most of them have come in the last few days. About a week ago, I heard from Geoffrey McSkimming, author of the Cairo Jim books and, most recently, the Phyllis Wong series, one of which I have read and enjoyed. He told me that the third book was out, in case I didn't know. I offered a review, of course, and did mention that he hadn't sent me the answers to the interview questions I had asked him a while back. Those were mostly about Cairo Jim, so it was a bit late now, but he promised that this time he would answer some questions about the current series, with a bit of Cairo Jim thrown in. I don't know if I have ever mentioned it here, but it was thanks to Geoffrey that I discovered the wonderful market of the NSW School Magazine, when he was speaking at a library conference I attended.

There are two humorous books from Bloomsbury which shouldn't take me too long to read, The Silly Book Of Weird And Wacky Words and Uncle Gobb And The Dread Shed. There's a brand new book by Louis Sachar, Fuzzy Mud. I've only read two others, Holes and one on the theme of bridge(and who would have thought that bridge would be as complex a game as chess?). Both are contemporary with a touch of fantasy, a style I like, so I'm looking forward to reading this one. 

When I emailed the lady doing publicity for Allen And Unwin to ask for the Phyllis Wong book, The Waking Of The Wizard, she told me that while she was about it, she would also send me The Skin Of A Monster, a debut novel by a Sydney writer, Kathryn Barker and, when available, the latest novels by Catherine Jinks and Garth Nix. I don't know the titles of those yet, but look forward to reading them. 

Finally, Rhiannon Hart, author of the Lharmell trilogy, sent me a copy of the final Lharmell novel, Blood Queen. It took a while getting here, but finally arrived today with the two from Allen And Unwin. I don't know if you've read the first two, but I thought them very good and have reviewed them on this site in case you want to take a look. Rhiannon has left Australia and is now living in London, which is a loss for Australian YA fiction, but hopefully there will be more for us to read in future. 

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49. Video Sunday: Living dolls, shark costumes, buried books and goats in pjs

As you may have noticed, I’ve not done a Video Sunday in a while.  It now appears that what I was waiting for all this time was Dan Santat’s parody of Serial, turning it into a reenactment of his Caldecott Award call.  I’m just ashamed that when he won it didn’t immediately occur to me that, “Wow. We’re going to get a really great video out of this.” Hindsight is 20-20.

Nice that he got to take the shark suit out of mothballs, right?

As a children’s librarian I associate American Girl dolls far more with their books than the actual dolls.  This American Girl Dolls: The Movie trailer from Funny or Die will satisfy any children’s librarian that has ever had to shelve those darn books (or struggle with the eternal question of where to shelve them).

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 4.33.30 PM

Shh! Don’t tell them Mattel owns both Barbie AND American Girls.  Thanks to Beth Banner for the link.

So this Meghan Trainor librarian parody video has garnered 77,963 views as of this posting.  And I have heard from more than one person that its creator resembles me.  Which is infinitely kind but she is (A) Younger (B) Cuter (C) Actually knows how to style hair.  Ever noticed that my hair is always a plain bob?  I don’t do hair.  This woman.  She’s all about the hair.

This next one’s a bit of a surprise. Not that it exists (tree to book, book to tree) but that I can’t think of a single American book that has gone a similar route.  Usually we just get “bury this bookmark” swag.  I think only a small publisher could get away with this.  Or an Argentinian one.  Wow.

Thanks to Gregory K for the link.

As someone who doesn’t know a thing about making book trailers, I tip my hat to anyone who is capable (or has offspring who are capable) of creating such a thing out of the ether.  With that in mind . . .

As for the off-topic video, I’m not entirely certain why I decided to go with baby goats in pajamas today.  Maybe it was something in the wind.  In any case . . .

Thanks to Aunt Judy for the link.

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50. Mecha Gorilla....One Day......

Meca Gorilla is something I think the Japanese will know!  Not that any Japanese read CBO.  But, one day, when I strike it rich with that Black Tower Super Hero movie....I'm gonna get me this toy.

Got a problem with that?

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