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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: dystopia, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 223
1. THE AUGUST FIVE Sadly Did Not Get a Five From Me

Review by Leydy THE AUGUST FIVEby Jenna HellandAge Range: 12 - 18 yearsHardcover: 320 pagesPublisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (November 10, 2015)Goodreads | Amazon In a world rocked by revolt, your worst enemy can become your greatest hopeFourteen-year-old Tommy Shore lives a life of privilege: he has the finest clothing, food, and education available and servants to take care of his

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2. MARTians

MARTians. Blythe Woolston. 2015. Candlewick. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Did I enjoy reading Blythe Woolston's MARTians? Yes, for the most part. Not wholeheartedly perhaps. But I can see some definite strengths, which is a reason to recommend it, in my opinion!

MARTians is a YA novel that will appeal to lovers of dystopian novels mainly. Also to those perhaps who really enjoyed Ray Bradbury's science fiction. Though don't expect MARTians to be as amazingly wonderful and as complex as Bradbury's fiction. I definitely got the feeling that the author was inspired by several of Bradbury's stories. And since I love Bradbury too, I felt at times a kindred spirit with the author.

The heroine of MARTians is a young teen girl named Zoe Zindleman. The novel practically throws you right into the action, for better or worse. On the day the novel opens, Zoe learns that she--and her whole class, the whole school, I believe--is being graduated early, several years early in fact. She is curious as to why. But is trying to adapt as best she can. She knows that in a day or two, she'll hopefully be offered a job, start training, and go to work. She's not sure what job she'll be offered--though she knows she'll have a choice between two jobs, a rare treat in this futuristic society. But that's not the only change in her life--school to full-time job. No, her mom received news as well. And as a result, essentially abandons Zoe, trusting that Zoe is now old enough to be on her own. Zoe, for a few days at least, will be all on her own in a house that won't sell, in a neighborhood that's been abandoned--none of the houses will sell--and trashed. She feels very much alone. Until she meets someone who offers to help her so long as she agrees to always lend a helping hand to others. She agrees, and her new life begins...for better or worse.

Much world-building is done in MARTians, but, still enough is left mysterious and shadowy. Readers definitely get the impression that this society is not all-happy despite the focus on materialism and shopping.

I definitely found this a compelling read, and, a quick read.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Review: The Scorpion Rules

The Scorpion Rules (Prisoners of Peace) by Erin Bow. Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Books. 2015. Review copy from publisher.

The Plot: Our world, about 400 years in the future. For various reasons (wars, water shortage, environmental changes) an AI (artificial intelligence) named Talis seized control of, well, everything, and first forced peace on the world by blasting a few cities.

Then Talis realized there was a better way. That destroying towns wouldn't create world peace. But hostages would. Child hostages, to be specific. It's simple: take a child of each leader. Hold onto them until they are 18. If the leader declares war, the child hostage's life is forfeit.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart is the Duchess of Halifax and the Crown Princess of Pan Polar Confederacy. She has been a hostage since the age of five. She is now sixteen; if she can make it until eighteen....

But her country has water. And others don't. And she knows that one day, sooner rather than later, war may be declared and her life may be forfeit.

The Good: Alright, let's cut to the chase: this is a Favorite Book of 2015. Hell, I'll go on record and say this is easily a top ten book. I'll go even further: I'll be damn disappointed if this isn't on awards lists and best lists at the end of the year.

And to say why this is so, why I am so passionate about this book, I'll be talking spoilers. So fair warning: stop now if that bothers you, read The Scorpion Rules, then come back.

The Scorpion Rules is a dystopia, or, at least, a dystopia for those children of rules and leaders who are sent away to be held hostage, knowing that if their parents pick country over blood they will die. They have been taught history to understand their role and their history, including ancient history to give a broader, perhaps colder, perspective on people and war and violence.

Greta, like her friends and fellow hostages, have been taught about their role; have been taught to accept it; have been taught to not fight back. To not resist. To not escape.

And then a boy comes to their school, a boy whose grandmother just gained power so he's been sent as hostage, a bit older than most, and less royal, so less prepared. Elian.


Yes, it's dystopian; but like I said, at least for this book, it shifts the burden of the dystopia to the upper class, to the privileged. And the Children of Peace, the hostages, realize both their burden and their privilege. And it's grounded in real history -- the exchanging and taking of hostages has historic basis. (Fans of the TV show Reign will remember King Henry saying he and his brothers where hostages in the Spanish Court. That was true.) I say at least for this book, because we haven't seen much of life beyond where Greta lives, so I can't be sure of how others live. There is a hint that Talis controls and meddles with the lives of others, but it's unclear just how much of an impact that has.

This dystopia also makes sense; it's coherent, enough is given to explain why and how this system was accepted and evolved. It's also thoughtfully and realistically diverse. The Children of Peace come from all over the world, from all types of countries. Some, like Greta, are their for hereditary reasons -- she is the crown princess, born into this world, born to be a hostage. Others, like the Children from what was the United States, are there because parents have been voted into/taken charge by other means. They have no titles; they may arrive at the school older, with their status sudden and unprepared for. That is Elian.

And it's also grounded in science fiction, not fantasy -- the AI that controls the world, Talis, and the link between humans and computers is a scientific element of the story, not a fantastical one, and it's not just the push for the story. Talis is present throughout, lurking in the background, moving to the forefront.

Also, the threats are real. The Scorpion Rules starts with a child hostage being taken away because his country declared war. There is a graveyard by the school. There is torture, there is manipulation, not nice things happen again and again.

Now, on to the love triangle. Which isn't. There is new boy Elian and there is some sort of connection or attraction between him and Greta, but more important than that, is that Elian shows Greta another way. That submission and acceptance is not the only path in life. That no matter what, there is choice.

And then there is Greta's best friend and roommate, Xie. Greta has not just accepted the way she has been raised, the future she's been told to expect. She has also buried most of her emotions and feelings, avoiding emotional risk. And yet when Elian helps provide the catalyst for her to open up, and change, and question, it also helps her unlock her frozen feelings for Xie.

See? It sounds like a triangle because there are two people -- but it isn't. It so, so isn't.

One last thing: Greta may have accepted her part in life and politics; she may have tried to avoid certain deep attachments; but she is also a royal. Born to be a hostage, born to live a role, but also born to take her place if she lives past 18. Born to be a leader, and at her school, she is a leader. She's not a follower. She's not passive, even if to someone like Elian, the Children of Peace hostages look passive and accepting.

So, go, read it, and like me, look forward to the next book. Because I have no idea what will happen next -- and that? That is a great feeling to have.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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Review by Leydy AN INHERITANCE OF ASHES by Leah BobetAge Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and upHardcover: 400 pagesPublisher: Clarion Books (October 6, 2015)Goodreads | Amazon The strange war down south—with its rumors of gods and monsters—is over. And while sixteen-year-old Hallie and her sister wait to see who will return from the distant battlefield, they struggle to maintain their family

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5. In Which Becca & Andye Argue Over THE REVOLUTION OF IVY by Amy Engel, or The Many Ways Andye Would Like to Throttle Ivy

By Becca & Andye THE REVOLUTION OF IVYby Amy EngelAge Range: 12 and up Paperback: 400 pages Publisher: Entangled: Teen (November 3, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon Beyond the fence. I am still alive. Barely. My name is Ivy Westfall. I am sixteen years old and a traitor. Three months ago, I was forced to marry the president's son, Bishop Lattimer-as all daughters of the losing side

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6. Is this Abuse Acceptable? NAMELESS by Jennifer Jenkin

Discussion by Andye NAMELESSby Jennifer JenkinAge Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and upSeries: NamelessPaperback: 336 pagesPublisher: Month9Books, LLC (October 6, 2015)Amazon | Goodreads Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf, and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.

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7. Lizard Radio: Review

Do you want to read a dystopian novel with a genderqueer protagonist who may or may not be part lizard? If this sounds like something you didn’t know you wanted, Lizard Radio is the book for you. It’s a hard book to describe. Our protagonist, Kivali – familiarly known as Lizard, was abandoned as a baby  (wrapped in a lizard t-shirt!). Lizard is adopted by Sheila, a human woman who becomes her foster mom and sends her, at the opening of the novel, to CropCamp. The novel takes off from there – CropCamp is all about teaching teenagers how to be good citizens of an oppressive totalitarian government; teens have to attend CropCamp or one of the many other strictly regimented government-run camps and, if they fail, risk being sent to Blight. At CropCamp, a camp focused on developing agricultural workers, group conformity is prized; state-sanctioned heterosexual relationships are supposed to emerge... Read more »

The post Lizard Radio: Review appeared first on The Midnight Garden.

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8. Archivist Wasp

Archivist Wasp. Nicole Kornher-Stace. 2015. Big Mouth House. 268 pages. [Source: Library]

Two words describe Archivist Wasp, in my opinion, confusing and compelling. It's not often a book is equal parts confusing and compelling. Even though I found myself with more questions than answers and lingering confusion, I couldn't stop reading Archivist Wasp. Two more words to describe the book? How about post-apocalyptic and ghosts?

Our heroine is an archivist calling herself "Wasp." I'll be honest, Wasp doesn't have the best of lives, even, when she's not fighting for her life, fighting to stay the Archivist. (She's challenged every year by three Upstarts. That's how she got the job as well, by killing the previous Archivist.) Archivists have a marginally better life than Upstarts. But essentially, no one in this post-apocalyptic world has a happy, easy life. The villagers, well, they have their problems too. But at least they aren't tortured/tormented by the Catchkeep's Priest and brainwashed into a life of hate and violence.

So what does an Archivist do? She hunts ghosts, recording what she learns from each ghost, disposes of ghosts after studying, except, for when a villager wants to buy a ghost for whatever reason. It's a bleak, lonely life. And Wasp does spend a good bit of the book recovering from various injuries.

So the book is about what happens when Wasp meets an out-of-the-ordinary ghost, one that is actually able to communicate with her, one that has a tragic tale to tell and a huge request for her. This nameless ghost (he can't remember his identity, I believe) wants her help in finding another ghost, Catherine Foster. He wants them both to travel to the underworld and search the spirit-world. She agrees, and, in the process learns that life below isn't any more bleak than life above. In fact, in some ways it might even be slightly better. But the search won't be easy. And it will have its own dangers.

The book is about what she learns through this search, it will change her certainly....

Do I understand everything that happened in Archivist Wasp? Not really. The quest was really confusing in places, and, she is thrown in and out of other people's memories. She sees the past on her quest, in bits and pieces, and probably not sequential flashbacks either. She has to piece it all together. And she does a much better job than I did with that!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. THE SCORPION RULES \\ The Sting is Real (but not in a good way)

by Paola THE SCORPION RULESby Erin BowSeries: Prisoners of PeaceHardcover: 384 pagesPublisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (September 22, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon In the future, the UN has brought back an ancient way to keep the peace. The children of world leaders are held hostage—if a war begins, they pay with their lives. Greta is the Crown Princess of the Pan Polar

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10. An Ember in the Ashes (2015)

An Ember in the Ashes. Sabaa Tahir. 2015. Penguin. 446 pages. [Source: Library]

I definitely enjoyed reading Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes. This young adult fantasy is a quick, compelling read with two narrators. Laia is a slave from the conquered Scholars tribe. Elias is a Mask, a soldier from the dominant (conquering) Martials tribe. The chapters alternate points of view. Which is good and bad. Good in that both narrators have action-packed stories that sometimes happen to collide. Bad in that the action is interrupted oh-so-often. And when you're all caught up in the moment, the last thing you want to do is switch narrators! Even if you know that in just a page or two you'll be swept right back up again. But at least both stories are fast-paced and action-packed. It could be a lot worse.

So. The world building is interesting. And the world-building is gradual in a way. You keep learning more about the world as the plot unfolds. It is never so unsettling that you're completely confused. But you know that the world is unique from the start.

So what is this one about? Laia turns to the rebel resistance when her brother is arrested and put in prison. She has no spy-skills to speak of, but, she's determined to do whatever it takes, no matter how hard, no matter how risky, to free him. She's placed as a spy within Blackcliff, the soldier-school, and her mistress is cruel. (She's also the Commandant.)

Elias is planning an escape of his own. He may have trained as a soldier--as a mask--but he's never bonded with his mask. He doesn't see himself as a cruel, heartless soldier who rapes and kills and follows orders. But he hesitates at the last minute, and decides to become an Aspirant instead. There were four named. Two will die. One will be the new emperor. One will take an oath to serve the new emperor until death. And the four trials will be more challenging, more risky, than anything he's ever faced before.

Both Elias and Laia are absolutely miserable and are facing huge challenges daily...

I liked it because sometimes you just need an intense, compelling read.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. MATERIAL GIRLS by Elaine Dimopoulos // This needs to be a TV show!

Review by Paola  MATERIAL GIRLSby Elaine DimopoulosHardcover: 336 pagesPublisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (May 5, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon In Marla Klein and Ivy Wilde’s world, teens are the gatekeepers of culture. A top fashion label employs sixteen-year-old Marla to dictate hot new clothing trends, while Ivy, a teen pop star, popularizes the garments that Marla approves.

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12. Artist of the Day: Wakana Yamazaki

Discover the work of Wakana Yamazaki, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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13. Rook (2015)

Rook. Sharon Cameron. 2015. Scholastic. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The heavy blade hung high above the prisoners, glinting against the stars, and then the Razor came down, a wedge of falling darkness cutting through the torchlight. One solid thump, and four more heads had been shaved from their bodies. The mob around the scaffold roared, a sudden deluge of cheers and mockery that broke like a wave against the viewing box, where the officials of the Sunken City watched from velvet chairs. The noise gushed on, over the coffins, around bare and booted feet crowding thick across the flagstones, pouring down the drains and into the deep tunnels beneath the prison yard like filth overflowing the street gutters. The city was bloodthirsty tonight.

If you love The Scarlet Pimpernel, Rook may appeal to you. Though I can't promise you'll love of it, of course. Rook is a loose retelling of The Scarlet Pimpernel. It's not set in France and England, but in the "Sunken City" and the "Commonwealth." Also, it's not historical fiction set during the days of the French Revolution, but, is set at least eight hundred years in the future. Perhaps a love of dystopia would add to the book's appeal. But for those readers who happen to love both, well, this one has a great premise.

Did I LOVE everything about Rook? I'll be honest, I didn't LOVE, LOVE, LOVE every little thing about it. I thought, however, that it worked more often than not. That overall, it was an enjoyable, mostly compelling romantic adventure.

Sophia Bellamy is the heroine of Rook. She keeps herself very busy, mainly by saving as many as she can from the Razor, all undercover, of course. Her father has arranged a marriage for her, not that he's concerned with her happiness or her future. But a good marriage will bring in enough money to pay off his debts and keep the property out of the hands of the Commonwealth. I don't often want to boo, hiss characters, but I must say that I was oh-so-tempted here. For he not only hurts his daughter, but, his son, as well by his words and actions. Rene Hasard has his own reasons for wanting the marriage.... Both Rene and Sophia have a few secrets they'd like to keep secret until they know the other person much, much better.

One thing, however, is obvious. Rene's cousin, Albert LeBlanc, is TROUBLE for Sophia. For it is his main goal in life to find the Red Rook...and bring "him" to justice.

Action, adventure, intrigue, betrayal, drama, and ROMANCE. I wouldn't mind a good adaptation of this one!

Here's how Scarlet Pimpernel begins so that you can compare:
A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate. The hour, some little time before sunset, and the place, the West Barricade, at the very spot where, a decade later, a proud tyrant raised an undying monument to the nation's glory and his own vanity.
During the greater part of the day the guillotine had been kept busy at its ghastly work: all that France had boasted of in the past centuries, of ancient names, and blue blood, had paid toll to her desire for liberty and for fraternity. The carnage had only ceased at this late hour of the day because there were other more interesting sights for the people to witness, a little while before the final closing of the barricades for the night.
And so the crowd rushed away from the Place de la Greve and made for the various barricades in order to watch this interesting and amusing sight.
It was to be seen every day, for those aristos were such fools! They were traitors to the people of course, all of them, men, women, and children, who happened to be descendants of the great men who since the Crusades had made the glory of France: her old NOBLESSE. Their ancestors had oppressed the people, had crushed them under the scarlet heels of their dainty buckled shoes, and now the people had become the rulers of France and crushed their former masters—not beneath their heel, for they went shoeless mostly in these days—but a more effectual weight, the knife of the guillotine.
And daily, hourly, the hideous instrument of torture claimed its many victims—old men, young women, tiny children until the day when it would finally demand the head of a King and of a beautiful young Queen.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. Nil Unlocked by Lynne Matson

Review by Meghann Title: Nil Unlocked Series: Nil #2Author: Lynne MatsonPublisher: Henry Holt and Co., an imprint of MacmillanGenre: Young Adult Fiction - Science Fiction, DystopianRelease Date: May 12, 2015Source: ARC provided by the publisher, opinions are honest and my own. On the island of Nil, the rules are set. You have exactly 365 days to escape—or you die. Rives is now the

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15. A Little Hate Mail...

From Becca THE MEMORY KEYby Liana LiuHardcover: 368 pagesPublisher: HarperTeen (March 3, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon Lora Mint is determined not to forget. Though her mother's been dead for five years, Lora struggles to remember every detail about her—most important, the specific events that occurred the night she sped off in her car, never to return. But in a world ravaged by

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16. TRACKED by Jenny Martin

by Andye TRACKEDby Jenny MartinAge Range: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 and upHardcover: 400 pagesPublisher: Dial Books (May 5, 2015)Goodreads | Amazon The Fast and the Furious gets a futuristic twist in this action-packed debut! On corporately controlled Castra, rally racing is a high-stakes game that seventeen-year-old Phoebe Van Zant knows all too well. Phee’s legendary racer father

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17. Super Quick Reviews on RED QUEEN and SEEKER

Reviews by Andye RED QUEENRed Queen #1by Victoria AveyardHardcover: 400 pagesPublisher: HarperTeen (February 10, 2015)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood—those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her

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18. JANUARY- The Stories Never End, Kids, Books, Movies and Dogs


  Töölö 2015 012

     Folklore from Germany, Fairy Tales for the World

It was an era that began with the turmoil of the Napoleonic wars. The years that followed were marked by internal conflict and political disagreement. 

Life was hard. Wealthy land owners and nobility controlled nearly all of the land. Most Jean-FrançoisMillet_Gleaners_people were farmers, living in rural areas. Books were few and few people could read them. Serfdom kept many people poor.

This was the time of the cumbersome German Confederation, created by German princes to retain their control in a time of growing upheaval and conflict.

The shifting sands of power lay in 37 principalities and four cities. Uncertainty reigned.

Folklore and folk tales were an integral part of people's awareness. Forests played a major role in these stories. The forests were deep and often dangerous.

We know that stories -- folk tales --  were often told by country women when several
GrimmTalesWalterCranegathered together in a neighbor's farm home while sewing, weaving and cooking.This was their social life. Perhaps men told these stories in markets, or taverns, or around a campfire.

 The stories that were told were collected by the Brothers Grimm and remain today the foundation of our children's fairy tale literature.

Next month, on February 24, we will see the publication in English of over 70 tales collected in Bavaria by a contempoary of the Grimm Brothers, Franz Xaver von Schönwerth. The Grimm's admired Schönwerth and his work.

The collection is now entitled The Turnip Princess, The book has been translated by Maria Tatar, author of many books on children's literature, blogger (Breezes from Wonderland), and chair of the Program on Folklore and Mythology at Harvard. 

The painting is by Jean- Francois Millet. The bookcover is by Walter Crane; the translation from German is by Lucy Crane.


The Stories Never End

“It has generally been assumed that fairy tales were first created for children and are largely the domain of children. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Rackham-tree+girlFrom the very beginning, thousands of years ago, when tales were told to create communal bonds in face of the inexplicable forces of nature, to the present, when fairy tales are written and told to provide hope in a world seemingly on the brink of catastrophe, mature men and women have been the creators and cultivators of the fairy tale tradition...."

Inevitably they find  their way into the forest. It is there that they lose and find themselves. It is there that they gain a sense of what is to be done. The forest is always large, immense, great and mysterious. No one ever gains power over the forest, but the forest posses the power to change lives and alter destinies....”

The illustration is by Arthur Rackham

The above quotations are by Jack Zipes,  the author of many books on myths, folklore, and children's literature including The Brothers Grimm, From Enchanted Forests to the Modern World. 

OriginalFolkandFairyTalesBrothersGrimmZipesRecognized as a pioneer in the field of children's literature, Zipes latest publication is a translation of the first edition (1812-1815) of the The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (see the Guardian article below). The first edition (Volumes One and Two), of 156 tales, had previously never before been translated into English. By the time of the Grimm's final edition in 1857, "immense changes had taken place".

The original edition of the Grimm's fairy tales incorporated oral tales, legends, myths, fables and pagan beliefs. The book was intended for adult readers. This edition is illustratrd by Andrea Dezso.




TheGuardianWriter for the Guardian create leading edge articles on fairy tales, folklore, and children's literature. 
 Philip Oltermann  recently wrote about von Schoenwerth, The Turnip Princess and Maria Tartar. Alison Flood  wrote about Jack Zipe's translation of the first edition of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales: The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. 

Both of these books are major events in the world of folklore, fairy tales, and children's literature..

Illustration by Alexander Zwick

Tatar's Translation

Here is an excerpt from Oltermann's article:Forgotten Fairytales Slay the Cinderella Stereotype...

The stash of stories compiled by the 19th-century folklorist Franz Xaver von Schönwerth – JohnBatten_hanselgrizzle1recently rediscovered in an archive in Regensburg and now to be published in English for the first time this spring – challenges preconceptions about many of the most commonly known fairytales... 

Harvard academic Maria Tatar argues that they reveal the extent to which the most influential collectors of fairytales, the Brothers Grimm, often purged their stories of surreal and risque elements to make them more palatable for children. 

“Here at last is a transformation that promises real change in our understanding of fairytale magic,” says Tatar, who has translated Schönwerth’s stories for a new Penguin edition called The Turnip Princess. “Suddenly we discover that the divide between passive princesses and dragon-slaying heroes may be little more than a figment of the Grimm imagination.” 

Zipes' Translation

Here is the headline from Alison Flood's article: Grimm Brothers’ Fairy Tales Have Blood and Horror Restored in New Translation....

ByCarkOfterdingerTownMusiciansBremenThe original stories, according to the academic (Zipes), are closer to the oral tradition, as well as being “more brusque, dynamic, and scintillating”. In his introduction to The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, in which Marina Warner says he has “redrawn the map we thought we knew”, and made the Grimms’ tales “wonderfully strange again”, Zipes writes that the originals “retain the pungent and naive flavour of the oral tradition”, and that they are “stunning narratives precisely because they are so blunt and unpretentious”, with the Grimms yet to add their “sentimental Christianity and puritanical ideology”.


The Frog King or Iron Henry...an Excerpt from the new Jack Zipes translation of the Brothers Grimm... 

Frog king


"The princess became terrified when she heard this, for she was afraid of the cold frog. She didn't dare to touch him, and now he was to lie in her bed next to her. She began to weep and didn't want to comply with his wishes at all. But the king became angry and ordered her to do what she had promised, or she'd be held in disgrace. Nothing helped. She had to do what her father wanted, but she was bitterly angry in her heart. So she picked up the frog with two fingers, carried him upstairs into her room, lay down in her bed, and instead of setting him down next to her, she threw him crash! against the wall. "Now you'll leave me in peace, you nasty frog!" 


"The fairy tale is in a perpetual state of becoming and alteration. To keep to one version or one translation alone is to put a robin redbreast in a cage. A fairy tale is not a text..."- Author Phillip Pullman



 Wonder Tale...An alternative term for “fairytale” is “wonder tale”, from the Germanwundermärchen, which catches a quality of the genre more eloquently than “fairytale” or “folk tale” because it acknowledges the defining activity of magic in the stories. The suspension of natural physical laws produces a heightened and impossible state of reality, which leads to wonder, astonishment, the ’ajaib(astonishing things) sought in Arabic literary ideas of fairytale... An excerpt from How Fairy Tales Grew Up, by Marina Warner, author, critic, in the Guardian




D186df_a1ad551d7b1540eea43367a1daaf45da.png_srz_p_258_108_75_22_0.50_1.20_0A Fair Shake for Youth..uses therapy dogs to help disadvantaged children "build empathy, self-esteem and reduce bullying...

"31% of New York City youth are living in poverty - often facing challenges of inadequate housing, under-performing schools, violence and fractured families.  Many kids see few possibilities for the future...  

A Fair Shake for Youth partners with schools and community organizations to bring therapy dog teams to disadvantaged and vulnerable middle school-aged youth...The kids discover (the) social tools and build a view of themselves that enables them to envision greater possibilities for their lives... 

Hands On and a Curriculum that Resonates 

FairshakeThe Fair Shake program can be integrated into the school day, after school, weekend or summer camp programming.  The ten-week curriculum includes hands-on work with the dogs and dog-related topics covered by speakers, demonstrations"...read more about this excellent, results-oriented program at Fair Shake

Video: See Fair Shake in action 
when Isabella and Samantha, two young girls, tell us, in their own words, of their experiences with the dogs and the Fair Shake for Youth program.

A Fair Shake for Youth has been the recipient of a grant from the Planet Dog Foundation



 The following is by librarian Liz Burns, excerpted from her outstanding blog, A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy 

"I read for fun. Not for enlightenment, not to be a better person, not to learn about the universal 20141128_183146_resizedhuman experience. I read to get scared, I read to fall in love, I read to feel less alone, I read for adventure, I read for so many reasons that all fall under.... because I want to.

And if that's why I read, why shouldn't that be OK for teens and kids?

Oh, I get that just like I have things to read with a purpose for work, they have things they have to read with a purpose for school.

But that's not the only way or reason to read. And, especially outside the school environment, reading for fun, rather than reading "because", should be championed.

It shouldn't be a guilty pleasure.

It should just be ... a pleasure."

A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy was founded on April 2, 2005 with a welcome post that set forth a mission statement: to write about "story. Because it's all about story: the stories we tell, the ones we believe, the ones we read, the ones we watch. The ones we want to believe in; the ones we're afraid of. The stories we tell because we're afraid. While the majority of my posts are about children's and young adult books, I also write about television and film, sometimes adult books, as well as publishing and library news." - Liz Burns

In the photo by Susan Purser, Chase reads with his friend, therapy dog Rose


Aesop's Fables Never End

WalterCraneCover"No author has been so intimately and extensively associated with children's literature as Aesop. His fables have been accepted as the core of childhood reading
and instruction since Plato, and they have found their place in political and social satire and moral teaching throughout medieval, Renaissance, and modern cultures...

...Fables have long ago escaped the confines of the nursery and the schoolroom. Their readerships have included parents as well as children, masters as well as slaves. rulers as well as subjects..." 

Seth Lerer writing on Aesop's Fables and Their Afterlives in his book, Children's Literature, A Reader's History From Aesop to Harry Potter



The Loyal Dog and Her Not-So-Loyal Owner

Ann Staub, a former vet tech, caring person, mother, and blogger on Pawsitively Pets (dedicated to all things animal), wrote a touching account of finding a lost dog, and the sad aftermath. Here is an excertpt and link:

My hopes and dreams of a spectacular reunion were destroyed with what I learned next. The family member I was helping didn't want the dog back. He "wanted his friends to adopt her from where ever she was at"...

There would be no reunion between loyal dog and not-so-loyal owner. And I find it both depressing and infuriating.

I'm not an emotional person. I don't get teary-eyed over things that most people do. Perhaps this is one of the "strengths" that allowed me to become a good veterinary technician. This, however, made me cry.

This dog was adopted from the animal shelter about 3 years ago. After about a year, those people no longer wanted her so my family member took her in. Now, he no longer wants her so someone else will take her. How many more times will she face this same situation? Will she be thrown out like trash again when she's old and sick?...This is a good dog and she deserves so much better than this. 

 So I guess it's up to the people who know better to educate those who don't. If you have a friend or family member that wants to get a new pet, tell them that pets are a lifelong commitment. Ask them if they are prepared to care for that animal during the entire duration of their life.

 Here is a link to read the entire article and see photos...Ann Staub   


 Stories Never End --  If You Can Read

WRADSurinameWorld Read Aloud Day is coming this year on March 5, 2015

LitWorld celebrated World Read Aloud Day with disadvantaged children in over 75 countries last year..." motivating children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words and creating communities of readers...showing the world that the right to literacy belongs to all people."

The photo was taken in Suriname.


Kidlit_centralKidLitosphere has helped many readers find their way to these pages. Here is an excerpt from their home page...   


POD-The bear-blog size"Some of the best books being published today are children’s and young adult titles, well-written and engaging books that capture the imagination. Many of us can enjoy them as adults, but more importantly, can pass along our appreciation for books to the next generation by helping parents, teachers, librarians and others to find wonderful books, promote lifelong reading, and present literacy ideas."  Here is a link to Kidlitosphere. 

The illustration from Planet Of The Dogs is by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty 


Our story begins long, long ago, before there were dogs on Planet Earth. 

POD-The map-blog sizeThere was plenty of space in those days for people to settle and grow things. Many of the places where people lived were very beautiful. There were clear lakes and cool streams with lots of fish. There were fields and woods with game to hunt. And there were rolling hills and open plains with plants growing everywhere. Many people settled in these places of abundance and prospered.

And then, invaders came. Where once there had been harmony and friendship, there was now fear, anger, and unhappiness. Something had to be done -- but what could anybody do? No one knew it at that time, but help would come from the Planet of the Dogs. 

                                        Read Sample Chapters of the Planet Of The Dogs Series.

POD-Stone castle-blog sizeOur books are available through your favorite independent bookstore or via Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Powell's and many more...

Librarians, teachers, bookstores...Order Planet Of The Dogs, Castle In The Mist, and Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, through Ingram with a full professional discount.

Therapy reading dog owners, librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs -- you can write us at planetofthedogs@gmail.com and we will send you free reader copies from the Planet of the Dogs Series...Read Dog Books to Dogs...

The map of Green Vally and the illustration of Stone City are by Stella Mustanoja-McCarty

"Any one of these books would make for a delightful—and one would assume cherished—gift for any child.  All three would be an amazing reading adventure." Darlene Arden, educator, dog expert, and author of Small Dogs Big Hearts. 


A Master of Childhood Dreams...His Stories never End   Miyazaki Wins Again, After 11 Animated Features

By  in the New York Times.

Hayao Miyazaki was given an honorary Oscar on Nov. 8 at the Governors Awards ceremony,
one that he can put on the shelf next to the statuette he won in 2003 when his masterpiece, “Spirited Away,” was named best animated feature... 

Spirited-away GirlStoneIdol-2What makes his films so memorable — from the great ones, like “Spirited Away,” which is a coming-of-age tale, and the ecological fables “Princess Mononoke” and “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,” to less profound but still captivating works like“Kiki’s Delivery Service” and the mesmerizing “My Neighbor Totoro” — is something that’s harder to label. You know it when you feel it: the mastery of tone and emotion, embodied in every gesture, expression, movement and setting, that give the films a watchfulness, a thoughtfulness, an unaffected gravity. To watch a Miyazaki movie is to remember what it was like to be a smart and curious child..." 


 The Hunger Games-Mockingjay Part One

This third episode of Hunger Games is relevant to disturbing real world events. Like like the to
earlier films it is entertaining . However, this episode has more substance as Andrew Lapin writes in his excellent and thoughtful review for NPR, "all of these images have resonance in real events of this year." The film has grossed over $700 million worldwide thus far and still drawing audiences. 
Here is an excerpt from his Andrew Lapin's review:

Mockingjay2"When producers were laying track for the Hunger Games series years ago, they couldn't have foreseen how discomforting author Suzanne Collins' descriptions of a war-torn authoritarian state would look on the big screen in 2014. In The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part One, Jennifer Lawrence witnesses and/or learns of: towns reduced to rubble, refugee camps next to mass graves, public executions of innocents with burlap sacks over their heads, law enforcement gunning down protesters in the street, and a military bombing a hospital filled with civilians. All of these images have resonance in real events of this year, generations before Collins predicted civilization would devolve into a regime that maintains control over its citizens with televised death matches..

Here is a link to this insightful review:Andrew Lapin's review for NPR 


Into The Woods:

Fairy tales are combined in this Walt Disney adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's broadway musical hit...71% of the critics (Rotten Tomatoes) wrote favorable reviews. However, there were often reservations in the reviewer's responses.

Here is an insightful excerpt from Jerry Griswold's article on Maria Tartar's Breezes from Wonderland blog:

IntoWoodsLRRHood"It is rated PG. But kids watching the film in my local theater seemed dampened by the mopey second half. They laughed at the cleverness of the first act, as well known storybook characters crossed into each other’s stories and interacted; still, it should be said that when it comes to clever fairy-tale mash-ups, “Shrek” does it better. But as for the second act’s dreary sharing of existential facts (regarding mortality, adultery, etc.), all in the name of growing-up and becoming undeceived, well, kids aren’t big on Weltschmerz. And that’s because, as James Barrie complained in “Peter Pan,” the young are gay and heartless."

Here is a link to the trailer:Into The Woods 


The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Peter Jackson has had enormous box office success with films inspired by Tolkien's Middle Earth books. It seems, however, that Tolkien's ideas have again been overcome by Jackson's computer generated violence. Here is the opening of Andrew O'Hehir's review in Salon...

The-Battle-of-Five-Armies-Comic-Con-Poster-570x846"Presumably everyone now understands that Peter Jackson’s bloated “Hobbit” trilogy has only an arm’s-length, tangential relationship with the classic children’s novel that J.R.R. Tolkien first published in 1937, essentially launching the epic fantasy genre that now dominates so much of popular culture...

And here is an excerpt from Nicolas Rapold's review in the New York Times....

"What this adaptation of “The Hobbit” can’t avoid by its final installment is its predictability and hollow foundations. It’s been said before, but Mr. Jackson himself is still haunted by the past: For all the craft, there’s nothing here like the unity and force of “The Lord of the Rings,” which is positively steeped in mythology and features (wonder of wonders) rounder characterization than the scheduled revelations on display here..."

Here is a link to the trailer: Five Armies




Nancy Houser, has several posts on her Way Cool Dogs blog about puppies, from "Taming Puppy Aggresion" to "Wonderful Small Puppies for Children". Here is an excerpt and link from : 6 Incredible Reasons to Get a Rescue Puppy 

"When you save a rescue puppy, you are saving its life. Many shelters have to put dogs to sleep because they can’t afford to keep them. When you decide to take a rescue animal home with you, you are giving it a second chance in life. Many rescue dogs used to have owners, but their owners treated them poorly or abandoned them. Pets deserve better than that. You have a chance to make a real difference to an animal’s life, and so you should take it..."

Read more: http://www.waycooldogs.com#ixzz3OW6latfA



The Giver


I haven't seen The Giver (released in theaters last year) nor read Lois Lowry's YA book, The Giver (1993). However, it was favorably cited by Jerry Griswold, Director of the National Center for the Study of Children's Literature, and author of Feeling Like a Kid, Childhood and Children's Literature. Therefore, I did some research...

GiverSkyI found enough information on the internet to be intrigued. The Giver is a different take on a dystopian future; relying more on concept than violence. The trailer and descriptions/synopsis provide a provocative look at a different approach to dystopia, quite at variance from the strife ridden simplicity of YA films like Divergent and the Labyrinth.  

The book of The Giver was well received as a young adult book, winning a Newberry Award in 1994 as well as awards from the ALA, the NEA, and the School Library Journal. It has sold over 10,000 copies. The film, however, didn't fare well at the box office and has already been released as a DVD. Here is the Film Critics Consensus according to Rotten Tomatoes: "Phillip Noyce directs The Giver with visual grace, but the movie doesn't dig deep enough into the classic source material's thought-provoking ideas."

 Here is the trailer forThe Giver...


Empowerment for Animal Advocates in C.A. Wulff's Book 

How to Change the World in Thirty Seconds, is empowering...it's  the internet
made easy, the internet as a tool, the internet as a dog's best friend... a book  and a way to make a difference...  for dog lovers, animal advocates and anyone who wants to make the world a better place.

Arielrocket-boyHere is an unedited Amazon review excerpt by Johanna:"This is probably the best "how-to" book I have ever seen. It is written in a very conversational manner while being extremely educational. Along with giving step-by-step instructions on how to use each advocacy tool, Cayr gives some background on each website, organization, and group, and explains how each is set up and how the different helping processes work. She walks you through the necessary steps and gives tips... 

Rocket Boy, the dog in the photo by C.A. Wulff, one of her pack of rescued dogs.


YA Book Preview of The Motherless Child Project by Janie McQeen  and Robin Karr.


MotherlessChildProjectI don't often discuss YA books. However, I have long admired Janie McQueen's previous Magic Bookshelf books and I am currently reading (report coming in my next blog) her poignant new book The Motherless Child Project. 

Meanwhile, I am posting an excerpt from Midwest Book Review:

"To say that The Motherless Child Project is a book about change and self-discovery would be doing it an injustice: it's so much more... Any teen reader looking for a powerful, compelling story--especially those who are motherless themselves, whatever the reason--will find The Motherless Child Project a powerful saga worthy of attention and acclaim."--
D. Donovan, eBook Reviewer, Midwest Book Review


Jingles...a book, a toy, and dog rescue

The Story of Jingles is the first book in the newly launched Operation ResCUTE series. Each Book comes with a Stuffed Animal Set. And each purchase helps to rescue a dog!

Here's the review by C.A. Wulff in the Examiner...

Jinglesdog-box"The book, authored by Jingles, is 24 pages long, with full color illustrations. It comes adorably packaged in a window box with a stuffed animal of Jingles and an “I am a ResCuter!” Operation ResCute sticker for the child. The second book in the series will feature a rescue dog named Tanner. Operation ResCute has a contest underway to find a third dog and his/her story.

Kids will love the book and the toy, and parents will love the message. Giving this as a gift will make you feel great, too, because 100% of the proceeds go directly to animal rescues."

The ResCUTE books and stuffed animals are not available in retail stores, but can be purchased on amazon and through the organization’s website." 


The Hugging Bears  (from the Guardian)

HuggingBears"Inspired by the delightful statue of two bears on display in Kensington Gardens in London, "The Hugging Bears" is the story of two bear cubs, Ruggley and Teddi, who live with their mother in the wintry wilderness. A sudden and violent encounter with humankind changes the cubs' lives forever.

Told with great simplicity and much heart by Carol Butcher, and featuring charming colour illustrations by Sue Turner, "The Hugging Bears" will be enjoyed by young children everywhere. The book also has a useful message about human's often unkind treatment of wild animals."

The profits from this book will go to the charity Happy Child International, which supports the street children of Brazil.




FFF "Fences for Fido is a group of volunteers who get together to build fences for dogs in Oregon who are currently living out their lives on a chain. They do fundraisers and accept donations in order to make this work possible. On their facebook page, Fences for Fido share many inspirational photos and videos of the building process, and especially the happy dogs taking their first off-chain run in their brand new yard- always great! I love how this organization focuses on the positive aspects of what they are doing, and come from a non-judgmental approach. I believe these two things are the key to their success so far..."

The above information is from She Speaks Bark, Kaitlin Jenkins dog-loving blog. Kaitlin wrote about this being National Unchain a Dog month; as part of the article, she wrote about Fences for Fido. I, too,  much admire the work they do, having previously written about them in this blog. Here is the link to read more of her excellent post about the wonderful work of Fences For Fido: KaitlinJenkins


When Library Time Means Screen Time

EbooksBy ...The Stories Do End and the Games Begin: this is the experience of Lisa Colon as reported in Motherlode in the New York Times.  
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19. THE BOOK OF IVY {Book & Audiobook Review}

Review by Andye THE BOOK OF IVYThe Book of Ivy #1by Amy EngelAge Range: 12 - 18 yearsGrade Level: 7 - 12 Audiobook Publisher: Random House AudioPublisher: Entangled: Teen (November 11, 2014) Goodreads | Amazon | Audiobook What would you kill for? After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more

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20. A Letter to CAPTIVE by Aimee Carter

Review by Becca  CAPTIVEby Aimee Carter Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion (Book 2)Hardcover: 304 pagesPublisher: Harlequin HQN (November 25, 2014)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon The truth can set her free For the past two months, Kitty Doe's life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, in a hostile meritocracy on the verge of revolution, Kitty sees

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21. A Letter to THE WALLED CITY by Ryan Graudin

by Becca THE WALLED CITYby Ryan GraudinHardcover: 448 pagesPublisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (November 4, 2014)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon 730. That's how many days I've been trapped.18. That's how many days I have left to find a way out. DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin in the Walled City. But in order to find the key

0 Comments on A Letter to THE WALLED CITY by Ryan Graudin as of 11/24/2014 2:36:00 AM
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22. December - Holidays Are Forever, Books, Movies, Kids and Dogs

                                             Best Wishes To All


  Holiday Dogs, Biscuit and Gravy, are courtesy of Richard Bradley's website, A Rock In My SHoe   



Holiday Turning Point...

It was Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol that transformed Christmas, first in Victorian TinyTimchristmascarolJohnLeechEngland as the industrial age was barreling ahead, and then throughout Europe. Dicken's notion that the true Christmas spirit embodied caring and generouisity -- especially for those less fortunate --  influenced the thinking of multitudes and transformed the holiday.

The ancient orgins of Christmas and of Santa Claus have been traced to many cultures including Scandanavian (especially Danish), Germanic, Dutch and British. 

The legend of Santa Claus, himself, was greatly enhanced by the poem  A Visit from St Nicholas, written for his children, by the American, Clement Clarke Moore, in 1823.

Images by some of the great illustrators have deeply influenced perceptions of Santa and Chistmas. Nast-visit-st-nick This is especially true for children. However, significant impressions in the minds of adults were also made by the Dicken's illustrations of John Leech (and later by Arthur Rackham) in Great Britain, and the yearly illustrations by Thomas Nast of A Visit From St Nicholas in the USA.  

With the passing of time, the spirit of Christmas has changed. The idea of gifts for children, and then others, has evolved with stories, TV, films, merchants, and ceaseless marketing into an often overwhelming distortion of the original spirit of A Christmas Carol. But the spirit does live on.

A Christmas Carol

"Few works in the history of popular culture have had as much pronounced effect as Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, first published in 1843.  While Christmas Day had always been a sacred, Scroogesolemn feast day within the Christian faith (just as the Winter Solstice had been in many pagan cultures before it), it wasn’t until the middle part of the 1800s that many began to see it less as a site of religious devotion than as a holiday to be celebrated, and to be celebrated most specifically through the act of giving.  While A Christmas Carol didn’t spawn this tradition itself, it, more than any other force, popularized it throughout the western world.  Through its powerful, secular story of redemption through charity and love, Dickens imparted to all that Christmas was a time to celebrate all that was worthwhile about the human race, most specifically our love for one another, and our compassion for those less fortunate."...


To read the rest of this excellent article by Jonathan Morris, the Antiscribe, follow this link  It will take you to his comprehensive and instghtful article on the significance and lasting
Downloadimpact of Charles Dicken's and A Christmas Carol. 
Morris also provides, in this article, informed reviews of multiple film and TV versions of A Christmas Carol through the years; he includes photos and video links.
This link will enable you to download/read the original version of            A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens"

This link will take you to the 1971 Annimated version of A Christmas Carol produced by Chuck Jones, directed by Richard Williams, and with the voice of Alister Sim as Ebeneezer Scrooge. This is a classic and a favorite of Jonathan Morris: Annimated Christmas Carol

The top two illustrations on the left are by John leech. The illustration, on the right, is by Thomas Nast. The illustrator of the bottom left Christmas scene is unknown. 

Happy Holidays! 


Vxp2_2"I don't know what to do.' cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings. `I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody. A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here. Whoop. Hallo.' "--

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens



   A Foxwoods Holiday Celebration


This wonderful illustration is by Brian Fox-Patterson for a series of children's books by Brian and his wife, Cynthia. To see more of his delightful illustrations, visit  Foxwood Tales Illustrations.

ChristmasTreeBunnies"Their first story was published in 1985, and seven more followed. SnowmanCrittersSince then the series of eight children's books have become modern classics. Over 1.3 million copies have been sold across 18 countries." (Wikipedia)  
For summaries of six of the books, visit  loveReading4Kids. A compilation of four of the Tales can be found in the book, A Foxwood Treasury.

I discovered the Foxwood Tales through the illustrations. I haven't read the books, but I wanted to share the superb illustrations.


Kwanzaa- A Holiday Celebration 

by Holly Hartman  

"The year 2014 will see the 48th annual Kwanzaa, the African American holiday Kwanzaacelebrated from December 26 to January 1. It is estimated that some 18 million African Americans take part in Kwanzaa.

 Kwanzaa is not a religious holiday, nor is it meant to replace Christmas. KwanzaaKids2It was created by Dr. Maulana "Ron" Karenga, a professor of Black Studies, in 1966. At this time of great social change for African Americans, Karenga sought to design a celebration that would honor the values of ancient African cultures and inspire African Americans who were working for progress. 

Kwanzaa is based on the year-end harvest festivals that have taken place throughout Africa for thousands of years."...Kwanzaa ends with a feast and gift giving... Holidays are forever


One can never have enough socks," said Dumbledore. "Another Christmas has come and gone and I didn't get a single pair. People will insist on giving me books.” 
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone



 The Spirit of Christmas Embodied in a Therapy Dog

This is about Susan and Rose. That's Rose in the photos. It is also about the thousands of therapy dogs bringing unconditional love to young and old. Susan Purser is a retired teacher and has been working for several years with Rose in schools , hospitals, nursing homes and hospices. These are Susan's comments about working with Rose. 

“No matter who you are or why you do pet therapy, it is the dog that opens the door…doors that RoseBig4would otherwise be closed to a well meaning human...

“I consider myself a facilitator…if my dog could drive, she would not need me. Rose seems to enjoy seeing people multiple times and developing a relationship with the people… She is a working dog by nature and she just loves these jobs.  I am constantly amazed at the doors that Rose opens…she goes to places I could never get without her…reaches beyond my reach, touches a person deeper than my touch.  The restless or agitated patient who is calmed by Rose’s touch...the child in the classroom who won’t settle down and get to work but when Rose sits by them, they quiet right down and the hyperactivity seems to dissipate.  The child getting excited about reading to Rose every week; they wouldn’t do that for me, but they do it for Rose...

It is their touch or look that gives people that inner peace when their world is shrinking or spinning so fast they have lost control.  When doors begin the final closing, there is that one last smile, nod, a hand that reaches for a dog that allows some of them to say good bye and close their eyes in peace.”
The photos of Rose are courtesy of Susan Purser.



LitWorldGroupHappyKidsThe Gift of Reading from LitWorld

Here is a joyous video from Litworld, celebrating the joy of reading, the joy of being somebody, the joy of hope. LitWorld gives the gift of reading to disadvantaged and at-risk children around the world...and they do this not only during the Christmas season, but throughout the year! 


LitWorld supports hopes, possibilities and lives in fourteen countries around the world! This link will take you to an interactive map of where Litworld works, from Columbia to India and from Kosovo to California. Interactive Map.


Interview With Santa

Santa-397KBThis interview was conducted as part of a program to determine the truth behind the incredible story of The Snow Valley Heroes....


Interviewer: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions and clarifying things. 

Santa: I’m happy that the story is finally coming out. 

Interviewer: Is it a true story? 

Santa:  Absolutely. 

Interviewer: Why haven’t we known about it before? 

Santa:  I think it was lost in the mists of time…It took place hundreds and hundreds of years ago. 

Interviewer: Is it true that there was to be no more Christmas?  Pauli&Sledge-397KB

Santa: I’m sorry to say that it’s true. Until the dogs arrived. 

Interviewer: The dogs? 

Santa: It was a surprise to all of us in Santa Claus village. None of us, and that includes all the elves,had even heard of dogs. 

Interviewer: Is that because you were so far North and rather isolated? 

Santa: Well, that and the fact that dogs has just started arriving on planet earth. Prior to that time, there had been no dogs on Earth. 

Interviewer: Really! Where did they come from? And how did they find you? 

Santa: They had started coming down from their own planet – the Planet of the Dogs. They came down to help people. Somehow, they had heard we were in trouble, and one day, there they were, just like that...

 To read all of the Interview With Santa, click this link:  Interview with Santa 

The illustrations from Snow Valley Heroes, A Christmas Tale, are by Stella Mustanoja McCarty


Podmeme2Free copies of Snow Valley Heroes, a Christmas Tale; Planet Of The Dogs; and Castle In The Mist  are available  for therapy dog owners and organizations, as well as librarians and teachers with therapy reading dog programs. Simply email us at planetofthedogs@gmail.com with your postal address.

All of the Planet Of The Dogs series of books are available through your favorite independent bookstore and online through Barnes&Noble, Amazon, and many other sources.  

 Here is a link to sample chapters of  Snow Valley Heroes 




We're on Holiday...The Beagle Freedom Project found us a new home after life in a cage as a test animal....wow!


"The Beagle Freedom Project is a mission to rescue beagles used in animal experimentation in research laboratories and give them a chance at life in a loving forever home." 

This wonderful organization has several excellent, touching, videos and clear, basic information: The Beagle Freedom project 




"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

―Dr Seuss, How The Grinch Stole Christmas




FindingFidoFinding Fido for Doglovers

"Finding Fido is a book that we believe each and every PetParent should not only read, but own. Finding Fido is a PetParent’s guide to: preventing the loss of their pets in the first place & also serves as a guide to PetParents for essential steps to recovering their pets if they ever are lost. If you’re a first time Pet Parent or a long time, seasoned Pet Parent, there are tips and tricks in here that will be helpful to you!...

As great as this book truly is, we’ve got one detail to share that completely sweetens the pot…the cherry on top if you will. All proceeds from the sale of Finding Fido are donated toward the Beagle Freedom Project Kaitlin Jenkins- PetParent  The cover design and content are by author and dog advocate C.A. Wulff 


 Holiday Season at the Movies

Fun stories.fantasy and imaginative annimation characterize the holiday movies for children...while dystopia, conflict and bloodshed continue to pour out of YA films.

My hope is that children will see the films intended for them, and stay away from the violence of current YA movies, designed, as Christopher Tolkien says below, as action movies for young people 15 to 25.

Chriestopher Tolkien

 JRR Tolkien's son, Christopher, believes that the quest for commercial success by Peter Hobbit-raft-elvesJackson and the movie industry has destoyed the essence of what his father wrote about the world of Middle Earth in the Hobbit books. Here are excerpts from a post regarding Christopher Tolkien's deep disappointment that appeared on Worldcrunch. The quotes by Tolkien are from an interview he gave to le Monde. 

"Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? 'They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25,' Christopher says regretfully. 'And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.'.. 

This divorce has been systematically driven by the logic of Hollywood. 'Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,' Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. 'The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing' "....

Read the full article on Worldcrunch: My Father's "Eviscerated" Work - Son Of Hobbit Scribe J.R.R. Tolkien Finally Speaks Out 

The illustration,"Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raftelves, is by JRR Tolkien.

The Hobbit, Battle of the Five Armies, opens Dec 17. Here is a link to the trailer: Five Armies:


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay1


The story of the Hunger Games continues through the Holiday Season and beyond, with Mockingjay 1. It opened in late November and is off to becoming another huge financial success. Audiences seem to like the film despite the fact that many critics were dissapointed.


Here is an excerpt from the review in the Atlantic by Christopher Orr entitled, Hunger Games: Mockingjay1, Darker, More Relentles than Ever.

 "Is the film a bit baggy in places? Sure. Might it have been better if they’d squeezed the whole book into one movie? Probably. Nonetheless, Mockingjay Part 1 is a fine entertainment, shot through with moments of surprising emotional impact."

Here is a link to the Mockingjay1 trailer.


The Dystopian Formula 

The dystopian story appears to be a theme for success in today's YA film market. In reviewing MazeRunner3The Maze Runner, Jack Cole wrote that The Maze Runner doesn't separate itself from its YA dystopian bretheren. Here is the headline and an excerpt from Cole's insightful review:In 'The Maze Runner,' the maze itself is a letdown and the film presents boring explanations to the plot's mysteries. By Jake Coyle, Associated Press.

Has a cottage industry ever sprung up as fast as the YA land rush brought on by "Twilight" and "The Hunger Games"? I'd like to use a mortal instrument to put an ender to this game. Please, giver me a break.

But to be fair, there isn't anything inherently wrong with "The Maze Runner," directed by special effects-veteran Wes Ball. It's just that it does so little to find its own path separate from its dystopia brethren. All of the recent young-adult formulas are adhered to here: the teenage rebellion against tradition, the coming-of-age metaphors, the heavy sequel-baiting.

Here is a link to the trailer for The Maze Runner. The film has grossed over one hundred million dollars and continues to play. It was not expensive to produce. There will be a sequel.


Movie Violence and Children...

I believe that films with relentless violence, surround sound, fearful images and often in 3-D, will HobbitsSworddisturb children. How many children, twelve and under, are seeing the current crop of violent dyustopian films?

I presume the producers of these films, and to a lesser extent, the writers of the book series on which they are based, see violence as an important aspect of marketing and audience appeal.

Perhaps, many young adult viewers, after watching the Hunger Games, are more appreciative of the world they live in and of the fact that they are not one of the 25 million refugee children across the world.


 The Giver 

GiverSkyAfter reading Jerry Griswold's enthusiastic comments about The Giver in the Unjournal of Children's Literature, I decided to research the movie and write about it. The film was based on a controversial, but well received book by Lois Lowry.The book was published in 1993 and the movie was released in July, 2014. The Giver had a different take on dystopia and the use of violence. 

I have now decided to see the movie before writing further about The Giver. To be continued...


Into The Woods

Into-the-woodsLRRHoodInto the Woods, which seems to be a Disney family film for children, YA, and parents, is now opening on Christmas Day, 2014. The film's slogan, "Be careful what you wish for", relates to the witch, a central character, played by Meryl Streep. Music by Stephen Sondheim, adds to the story, as it did in the original long running Broadway production.

In the story, the witch uses her magical powers to teach lessons in living to Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Rapunzel and Jack and the Beanstalk. The original production was a big hit with audiences. 

Here is a link to the trailer for Into the Woods.



Opens Dec 18... Annie, a family movie, is based on the hit Broadway musical. The cast Annie-Movie-includes Jamie Fox, Quvenzhane Wallis and Cameron Diaz...Here is a summary from IMDB where you will also find more information, photos and trailers.

Annie looks joyous and entertaining in the trailer preview.

"Annie is a young, happy foster kid who's also tough enough to make her way on the streets of New York in 2014. Originally left by her parents as a baby with the promise that they'd be back for her someday, it's been a hard knock life ever since with her mean foster mom Miss Hannigan. But everything's about to change..." 


 Holiday Children's Movies Galore

Here are three more kid's films that look good in their trailers and have been generally well received by reviewers. I have previously posted good notices for the following recently opened movies: Box Trolls, Book of Life, and Hero of Color City -

 Big Hero 6 

Critics Consensus from Rotten Tomatoes :  "Agreeably entertaining and brilliantly animated, Big Hero 6 is briskly-paced, action-packed, and often touching." In 3D. Now Playing. Box office: 200 million thus far. Here is the trailer for Big Hero 6 ...Looks like fun.



 Paddington Review...Here is an excerpt from the 3 star review by Xan Brooks in the Guardian
"Paddington, directed by Paul King from the original Michael Bond stories, spins the tale of a small bear (voiced very ably by Ben Whishaw) weaned on marmalade jars and idealised notions of England. The film is as warm as an eiderdown and as fluffy as its feathers. Cast out of his forest home, Paddington hops a cargo ship and comes to London, where his decorous dreams bump up against modern reality"
Opening December 12. Here is the trailer: Paddington Adopted from a classic children's book.
Penquins of Madagascar
This is one I missed before...Opened in mid-November. Here is the trailer: Penguins of Madagascar
Critics Consensus from Rotten Tomatoes: "Penguins of Madagascar is fast and brightly colored enough to entertain small children, but too frantically silly to offer real filmgoing fun for the whole family."


LightsSheepSheepdogsChristmas Lights Moving Through the Hills

A Holiday treat, and a wonder to behold, the moving lights are on hundreds of sheep, running in the darkness, guided by sheepdogs...this is a classic video...Moving Lights




From Rescue to Reading...A Holiday Salute

Brigadoon-grantee-picWe Salute the Planet Dog Foundation for their years of support for "the exemplary work of non-profit organizations training and placing dogs working to help people in need all over the country."

Through the years, they have given over one million dollars; in 2014, alone, they have given over one hundred thousand dollars.

For more information, here is a link to the Planet Dog website 

The photo is from Brigadoon Youth and Service Dog Programs in Bellingham,WA


Circling The Waggins at Christmas

Here is an an excerpt from the doglover's book, Circling the Waggins, by CA Wulff. The dogs seen in the ebook cover (below) are the current residents of the cabin in the woods wherein this saga of a life with rescued dogs takes place.

"I feel like we are haunted by the ghost dog of Christmas past. The season brings a million reminders of our Troll, a dog who had loved Christmas more than any other time of year. He would get excited at the first signs of holiday decorations, and his eyes would shine with a child’s wonder. On Christmas morning, he would race to be the first dog under the tree, to tear at the packages full of biscuits and rawhides. Each of the dogs would tear at a package, but Troll unwrapped with such gusto and fervor, that they would all abandon their presents to stand back and watch him, and then make off with whatever treats he had revealed." 

CA Wullf also created the cover for her book.



Way Cool Dogs On Finding a Puppy That's Good for Kids 

Choosing the right puppy is a critical decision...here is an excerpt from a helpful article on Way Cool Dogs.

POD-Miss Merrie-blog size"How do you choose a puppy that is good for your children? It is a question every parent should ask before deciding to adopt one of the small puppy breeds for their child. Toy puppies can make great companions for kids if they are chosen properly, and the child is trained to handle small puppies properly. And to be fair, a child is the only one who can keep up with the boost of energy that puppies seem to be born with!

The good news is that you have a variety of small puppy breeds to choose from: mini Yorkies, Maltese, Havanese, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and many others. Smaller dogs seem to be less intimidating around children. If the puppies are small, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be aggressive with children. You just need to be careful when choosing a perfect small puppy for your home...

The illustration, from Planet Of The Dogs, is by Stella Mustanoja McCarty




Sunbear Squad guides good hearted people like those who sent Sunbear this post.... 

Christmas Rescue of a Lost Rescue Dog


scooter (5K)Are you ready for a sweet Christmas story about a little lost doggy? We were walking our two dogs a few days ago and saw a little scared pup that looked like a Shitzu/Llasa Apso mix. He was limping, his hair was shaved, he had no collar. We scooped the little guy up and brought him home with us. We drove to Petco and Petsmart to ask if they recognized him. No one did. So we had him scanned to see if he was microchipped. He wasn't. So we listed the little fella on Craigslist and a lost and found pup website also. No luck. We called around to a few vet clinics in our area ... to no avail. So we took care of this little lost boy in our home for a few days.


We named the little guy Buddy. He was so sweet. He stayed with us and my two little dogs who played and slept and ate along with him. He seemed to limp a little less as the days went by. We wondered how his life was before he met us. We wondered if he was limping because he may have been a caged dog used for breeding because he was not neutered. We wondered if he came from a loving home or an abusive home. We were getting worried after our fourth day of loving on the little guy...


Here is the link to read the complete post on Sunbear Christmas Rescue. 


  Charles-DickensTree"Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart." -Washington Irving



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23. The 5th Wave (2013)

The 5th Wave. Rick Yancey. 2013. Penguin. 457 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Why reread The 5th Wave? Well, I wanted to reread The 5th Wave before beginning the second book in the series, The Infinite Sea. Also, it made sense to reread it for the Sci-Fi Experience!!!

If you're considering reading it for yourself in the near future, you might want to skip this review. Not because I'm planning on including spoilers. I'm not. But because some books should just be experienced as they are--no expectations, no hype.

So what is it about? Alien invasion. Humanity's fight to survive. It's a sci-fi thriller. It's intense and action-packed. Yet not without heart and soul and substance. It's action-packed and emotional. (Not always easy to balance the two to every reader's satisfaction.)

What else should you expect? Well. It's told through multiple narrators. Cassie, "Zombie," and "Nugget" to name a few. Normally this tends to irritate me. But I actually really enjoyed it in The 5th Wave. Yes, it was a bit disconcerting the first transition or two. But overall, it adds to the suspense and tension. The novel is better because of it.

Choices. To trust or not to trust. That is what The 5th Wave is about. Human survivors forced into difficult situations. Should they trust any survivor they come across? Should they assume the worst, and kill before they can be killed. Kill without question, without thinking, no exceptions. Or should they risk their own lives by clinging to hope that their are other survivors out there--survivors that are very much still human? Misplaced trust could prove deadly after all. But becoming a killer robs you of who you were.
This is what the Others have done to us. You can't band together to fight without trust. And without trust, there was no hope. How do you rid the Earth of humans? Rid the humans of their humanity. 
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. A Letter to THE JEWEL by Amy Ewing

by Becca THE JEWELby Amy EwingSeries: Jewel (Book 1)Hardcover: 368 pagesPublisher: HarperTeen (September 2, 2014)Goodreads | Amazon The Jewel means wealth, the Jewel means beauty—but for Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Born and raised in the Marsh, Violet finds herself living in the Jewel as a servant at the estate of the Duchess of the Lake. Addressed only by her number—#197—Violet is

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25. THE WALLED CITY {Audiobook Review}

by Andye The Walled City UNABRIDGED By Ryan Graudin Narrated By Eugene Kim, Kim Mai Guest, Janet Song Length: 10 hrs and 28 mins Release Date: 11-04-14 Publisher: Hachette Audio Goodreads | Audible | Amazon 730. That's how many days I've been trapped.18. That's how many days I have left to find a way out. DAI, trying to escape a haunting past, traffics drugs for the most ruthless kingpin

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