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This is a book I have been meaning to read for quite some time now. The Big Splash is a book that has a constant and steady flow of readers at our school. I enjoyed it very much, but somehow I had not gotten around to reading the sequel. Boy, I'm glad I finally did!
It's only 2 weeks after the end of The Big Splash. Matt is experiencing a bit of a moment of celebrity himself, and more and more kids are interested in his services. He is a bit surprised when beautiful cheerleader Melissa Scott, girlfriend of basketball star Will Atkins, want to hire him to follow her famously sporty boyfriend around. Matt isn't exactly used to dealing with the beautiful cheerleader type, and little does he know that Melissa is just the tip of the iceberg.
Of course, Vinny is still ruling The Frank, and he isn't about to leave Matt's talents untouched. He too, wants Matt's services and doesn't give him much of a choice about the matter. Liz, who is pulling away from Matt at this point, accuses him of having a lack of moral compass. Matt is left wondering if he is any better than Vinny and his thugs.
Throw in some twists and turns of the family mystery, a super twisty path toward a romance, and wrap it all in a noir package and you have The Quick Fix. And somehow it works. Readers totally buy into Ferraiolo's world with it's rules and slang. Kids have pixy stix addictions, water guns seal their fates, basketball games are fixed, and it all makes sense. There is a sensibility to Ferraiolo's writing that oozes commitment and authenticity. Kids get this and they enjoy every moment of it. If you haven't made time to read this one yet, you should.
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…a neighbor down the block finds a dead mole in her yard and strolls down to show it to your kids. “I brought you a teachable moment!”
In truth, she brought us dozens. We examined the mole, which looked nothing like the velvety-black Wind-in-the-Willows English mole of my imagination, but really very much like a mouse. It was her exterminator who’d told her that what she thought were rats in the attic were actually a species of mole. When she found a dead one (dead how, no one is quite sure—caught by something, knocked on the head but left unmauled on the grass), she thought my gang might like a look at this surprising creature, this species that confounded expectations. She was right. Just last week, Rose completed the (virtual) owl pellet dissection at Froguts.com and assembled a mole skeleton from the virtual bones. The lab included shrew and vole skeletons as well, and we’d studied the differences in paw bones and teeth. Beautiful timing, this poor dead mole, demonstrating its digger characteristics for us: the long, pointed front teeth; the strong back paws; the sturdy front claws.
Our neighbor, whom we’ve nodded at on many a walk but hadn’t had a real conversation with until today, was fascinated to hear of these computer dissection labs Rose is doing. Our talk wandered from amazing modern technology to the many staggering innovations her grandmother, born in 1899, experienced in her long life—99 years, her lifetime spanned, a century that brought telephones, indoor plumbing, automobiles, airplanes, television, and computers. “She saw man walk on the moon,” pointed out Miss Joanie.
And more stories: of her father, graduate of a one-room schoolhouse in Kentucky, who earned two PhDs: one in physiology and one in nuclear physics. Her mother, a graduate of Cornell, who suffered a stroke her 80s and reforged her lost access to language by way of crossword puzzles and incredible perseverance. She died a year ago at age 98, solving puzzles till the last. “She was such an inspiration to me,” said Miss Joanie, holding all of us rapt, wishing we’d met her mother. “I could tell stories about her all day.”
We wanted more, all of us. Decided there are tea and stories in our future. Rose was born the year Miss Joanie’s grandmother died. Joanie’s son must be about my age, because his first computer, like mine, was a Commodore, that fabulous box with the blinking green dots. I felt extremely cutting edge—mine was the 128, not the 64. Now my cellphone could kick that old thing around the block.
Remember when people used to look at you like you had multiple heads, when they heard you were going to homeschool your kids? Nowadays they just look at you and think, there’s a person who’ll be genuinely delighted if I show up in her driveway with a dead insectivore in hand. And they’re right!
Welcome all to my first Author Spotlight feature where you will get a chance to meet a well known author and learn about the writing process.
1) What were your favorite children books, when you were growing up?
I read practically every Nancy Drew there was, plus Harriet the Spy, The Little White Horse, and I gobbled up all of Phyllis Whitney’s mysteries, A Wrinkle in Time, etc. I could go on, but I won’t. Basically, I read a book a day all during elementary school. Maybe that’s why I love writing for the middle-grade audience.
2) What was the inspiration behind writing your book?
Several things! The magical, mysterious world of butterflies . . . spooky Louisiana swamps, old plantation houses, islands in the South Pacific . . . and a girl who is connected to all those things through her Grammy Claire.
I love mysteries; too, as you can tell from my childhood favorite books, and I wanted to try my hand at writing an actual mystery that didn’t have ghosts or paranormal elements. Just a girl with a brain and secret letters and keys in a mysterious house, trying to help her grandmother who died in an untimely way and who slowly gives her secrets from beyond the grave to figure out the people who are trying to destroy these unusual butterflies.
It was also very rewarding to write about a very smart and very cool grandmother because I never knew my own grandmothers, (and I hope I can be a very cool grandma too someday!).
3) How many Drafts and rejections did you have before your book was published?
Since this isn’t my first book and it was already under contract to Scholastic through a proposal I sent to my editor, I didn’t have any rejections—but I racked up hundreds in the year’s previous to selling my first book. And, after my first three books were orphaned, and before I landed a three-book contract with Scholastic, I had a period of 8 years where I was writing like crazy, but not selling anything. Rejections come with the territory of publishing. Now I do about 3-5 drafts of a new book, and two more with my editor and one with the copy editor so each book goes through a lot of hand and eyes.
4) Why Butterflies?
Butterflies are inherently mysterious. They start out as a little tiny egg on a leaf, turn into a creepy-crawling green caterpillar, then become a white chrysalis or cocoon – and finally, almost like magic, this gorgeous, colorful creature hatches from a white blob and can FLY! And they look like dancing flowers.
Some of the most fun I had writing this novel was researching the butterfly quotes at the beginning of each chapter and putting them in a spot where they reflected what happened in a particular chapter. But two of the quotes do not come from *famous* or well known scientists or movies. One is from my daughter and the other is from Tara’s Grammy Claire herself.
5) What can "When the Butterflies Came" teach our children?
I write a lot about families with secrets; families who are going through tough times and upheavals and changes—and show how that affects my 11-12 year old main characters. The heart of every story is the knowledge that families are important and they love each other in the end. They can be crazy sometimes, but their core belief is that they work together despite difficult and heart-wrenching events. They stand up for each other, pull together, and can come through hard times stronger than ever.
6) Can you see your book on the Big Screen?
Not yet - and movie rights are still available! I’m hoping Hollywood—or even some small director—will hear my secret wish, or discover my book when his child brings it home from the library or the Scholastic Book Fair. . . a director that has always loved butterflies and falls in love with my book. I can always dream, right?
7) What future book plans do you have?
I just turned in my fourth manuscript to my editor at Scholastic for publication summer of 2014. She’s reading it now while I wait chewing my fingernails that she will like it and I won’t have to shred it and start all over (that’s actually happened to me before so I know first-hand how crazy-making it can be). This new book is middle-grade as well and has time slipping and a cursed doll and a girl who lives in an antique store.
Fall of 2014 will be my Young Adult debut with Harpercollins for a book I’ve been researching and writing for nearly ten years so I’m pretty thrilled about finally selling it. It’s an ancient Middle Eastern story about the roots of belly dance in the women’s world, including goddess temples, tribal warfare, camels, and frankincense.
Thank you so much, David, for a great interview and featuring me on your blog!
Here are a few links for your readers: http://www.kimberleygriffithslittle.com/ (I have some awesome book trailers on my website on the Home Page with on location filming in the swamps as well as original music by some friends of mine. Scholastic liked the one for The Healing Spell so well; they commissioned the music to put on their website.)
looking at baby Patty with my mom and grandmaLong, long ago, I was a seven year old girl waiting anxiously for my baby brother or sister to be born. It was a warm evening, and I had already put on my pajamas--yellow polyester ones with white eyelet trim. I wandered outside to look at the planting beds around our split level. Most of the tulips in my mother's garden had already bloomed and fallen apart.
Then came the news: my sister was born, and I could go see her! I insisted on clipping the last two tulips out of the garden. I remember one was yellow and the other was red with orange streaks. It's funny; I don't remember which adult was with me. My grandmother? My father? I do know they tried to convince me to let the tulips stay behind, that my mother would want to see them when she got home from the hospital. But I insisted.
After that argument the adult-in-charge likely didn't want to take up the issue of me wearing pajamas. So, clutching tulips and wearing a coat over my pajamas, off I went to the hospital.
They weren't supposed to let me into the baby ward--I was too young. Likely too germ-ridden. But someone sneaked me in--a pharmacist friend? A doctor friend? I don't remember that either, not exactly. I do remember he was kind and he said those tulips were beautiful. And so I got to give the flowers to my mother.
Then I got to see the baby who has become one of my very best friends: Patty. She was so little and red and already she had so much hair. I'd never seen such a beautiful baby. I couldn't wait until she came home and I could hold her.
Since then she has been my playmate, commiserater, confidant, bridesmaid, and critiquer. My sister is one of the best gifts my parents ever gave me. Even if she DOES have hair that is twice as thick as mine.
Patty celebrates her birthday in a few days. Happy birthday, Pattyricia! For an early present, I decided not to post any of the excellent family photos I have of you screaming your baby head off...maybe next year!
Yesterday we had our Journey North Mystery Class wrap-up party. Huge fun all around: each family revealed its Mystery City location and we celebrated with a feast of dishes from the far-off locales. (Even the one American city in this year’s batch is far-off from us here in San Diego.) I won’t say more about the secret locations, since I know some of you are participating in your own groups and may not have had your big reveals yet. But ohhhh, was the food good.
I’ll give this much away: Beanie’s and my contribution were these Icelandic pancakes (pönnukökur).
(Beloved Carl Larsson print hiding a snarl of electrical cords.)
Here’s the recipe we followed, and here’s a delightful video demonstration by Icelandic cook Margret:
At the end of the video she demonstrates the most common ways to serve the pancakes: sprinkled with sugar (as we did above) or spread with jam and a generous dollop of whipped cream. I didn’t think the cream would hold up at a potluck, but you can be sure we’re going to give that version a go very, very soon.
*My sweet broom is in bloom, lightening my heart not only with its sunny blossoms but also the way it puts one of my favorite Scottish ballads into my head every time I glance its direction.
Tomorrow Jane, Rose, and I are off on a new adventure—a Peterson family first: open house at the university Jane plans to attend in the fall. Talk about blinking. Seems only last week this happened:
Racing along New York City streets one March 1945 day, Linus Muller stops to catch his breath when his attention is suddenly arrested by a familiar face on a poster. Noting the address on the poster, Linus changes course and sets off for it instead.
Flashback to September 1943: Linus is 12 years old and has just inherited his older brother's shoes and his job delivering groceries for his parent's shop. In fact, with six kids and a war on, everything is a hand me down, except for Linus's older brother Albie, who is off to war now that he is old enough to enlist. Linus has also inherited Albie's bed and has been made caretaker of Albie's superhero comic books collection, a love they shared, as well as Albie drawing of his own superhero Mr. Superspeed, with whom Linus keeps a running conversation while he makes his deliveries.
As Linus begins his life as a delivery boy, he meets all the customers and quickly learns their quirky ways, like Mrs. DeWinter who always has another task waiting for Linus to do when he brings her groceries. His job takes him all over the Upper East Side of Manhattan, an area Linus knows like the back of his hand. Late in the afternoon, on his first day, his mother hands Linus a crate of oranges and tells him to deliver them to 15 East 59th Street. Little did Linus know this would be his most interesting monthly delivery.
Living there is an elderly painter with a difficult to remember name and a studio that has stark white walls, except for the groups of brightly colored squares and rectangles here and there. Linus started called the painter Mister Orange and it turns out that Mr. Orange had recently arrived from Nazi-occupied Holland to escape Hitler's oppressive control on the arts.
Meanwhile, brother Albie is still excited to go to war and ships out to Italy as soon as basic training is over. At first, Albie's letters are still filled with enthusiastic descriptions about being a new recruit and the friends he has made. From Italy, he asks Linus to play a rather harmless practical joke on a friend's mother for her birthday and leave a card from her son at the same time. Linus carries out his mission with stealth, but then Albie's next letter is more somber and sad, as he reports his friend has fallen in battle.
Linus understands how it feels to lose a friend. It appears that he is losing his best friend to an older boy who dislikes Linus as much as Linus dislikes him.
And so his visits to Mr. Orange become a bright spot in his life and it is there that the two talk about life. Angry at the reality of war that Albie describes, Linus decides that comics and superheroes are imaginary escapes from all the horrors in life and rejects them completely. Now he doesn't even have the voice of Mr. Superspeed to accompany him. But as Mr. Orange talks to him about his painting and even teaches him how to dance the boogie woogie, he also tells Linus about the importance of imagination, especially during wartime: "If imagination were as harmless as you think...then the Nazis couldn't be so scared of it." (pg 122) All the while, Mr. Orange works on his latest painting, a freedom he would not have had if he has remained in Europe.
Can Mister Orange help Linus through this difficult time?
Originally written in Dutch and skillfully translated by Laura Watkinson, Mister Orange is itself a wonderful historical fiction work of imagination that skillfully portrays the daily hustle and bustle of life in one New York City neighborhood during WW2 as Linus makes his deliveries. I grew up in Brooklyn and Manhattan at a time when Mom and Pop grocery stores were still common (my brother's first job was delivering groceries), and if you had a fight with your best friend, you just went over to their house to make up - just the way Linus does - very simple, very easy. So I know that this and more of Mister Orange is pretty spot on. And so is the Action Comic that Linus buys for Albie - November 1943 No. 66. Matti has done her research well.
But the friendship between Mister Orange and Linus would be unusual, though maybe not impossible. In a way, however, it is a nice example of how even a short lived friendship can impact our lives, in this case from September 1943 to February 1944.
Mister Orange is a nice coming-of-age story that unfolds slowly and steadily, but should still engage young readers, though probably not everyone. Linus is a thoughtful, introspective, observant boy who really loves life, at least until reality comes knocking and he finds his world terribly shaken.
I put Mister Orange on hold at the library based only on the cover and knowing it was a WW2 story because I loved the cover of the American edition. Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) is one of my favorite abstract painters, so as soon as I saw the cover, I knew he would be in the story somewhere, someway. Jenni Desmond, the illustrator of Mister Orange, has really captured both the motion of the city as Linus travels around and the sense of movement that Mondrian's painting reflect, so that it becomes such a wonderful mixture of Linus's life, and Mondrian's painting, which is as it should be. I found myself going over it again and again after I finished reading the book.
In the back on the book is a section called Mister Mondrian. This FYI section describes his life and the paintings he did while live in New York City. The painting that he was working on during Linus's visit was his never completed Victory Boogie Woogie, see here:
Victory Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian
Mondrian's studio had an immediate, deep impact on Linus and helped him realize hope for the future. Here, though, are photos of that studio, almost exactly as Linus describes them (right down to the orange crates):
(click the images to enlarge them)
There are some who think this book would not appeal to young readers, but I think they will enjoy reading about Linus and his life, and the person who helped him work things out for himself.
There was just no way a chocoholic such a myself could pass on reading a book called My Chocolate Year. And I am glad I did.
It is September 1945, the war is over and Dorrie Meyers is starting fifth grade. And the best part is that her best friend Sunny Shapiro is in her class and their teacher is the very popular Miss Fitzgerald. Popular because each year, Miss Fitzgerald has a Sweet Semester, in which each student thinks up a dessert to make, writes an essay about it and in January they all bring in their entries and a prize goes out to one winner dessert and one winning essay.
Dorrie loves chocolate passionately and is very excited about Sweet Semester, except for one problem - she has no idea how to make anything, let alone a prize winning dessert. And this year is a special Sweet Semester because not only will family members be invited, but the winners will also get their pictures in the Chicago Daily News. In addition, since there are now so many orphans in Europe as a result of the war, the class will has a donation jar set up to collect money to send to a charity which cares for the orphans.
The subject of orphans soon hits home for Dorrie. Her grandparents had all migrated to America, but there were still relatives who had remained in Lithuania. No one knew what happened to them after war. Since they were Jewish the worst was feared and Dorrie's mother has been making inquires to find them. Then, one November morning, good news arrives. Victor Dubin, son of Dorrie's Aunt Mina and Uncle Joseph and grandson of Dorrie's Bubbie, was found living in a Displaced Persons camp. No sooner found, than arrangements begin to be made to bring Victor to America. Sadly, no other family members survived.
Victor, now an orphan, and orphan jar in school get Dorrie to thinking about the Margaret O'Brien and the movie Journey for Margaret, about a young girl orphaned during the London Blitz. How, Dorrie wonders, did she play such a convincing orphan? So she writes a letter to the actress to ask.
Meanwhile, Dorrie and Sunny experiment with different possibilities for Sweet Semester. The first idea, Chocolate Covered Gum, dissolves into a chocolaty mess. Their chocolate covered nuts and raisins clusters taste delicious, but was that all chocolate in them? Oh, and when you add flour to brownies using the electric mixer, it is much easier if you turn the mixer off.
It is really beginning to look like Dorrie isn't going to win that Sweet Semester competition despite the fact that both her mother and Buddie are excellent bakers. She just doesn't seem to have a natural instinct for baking. She really needs a miracle...could that miracle come in the form of both real and movie orphans?
This is a lovely story about the strength and importance of family. It is told in Dorrie's voice and even though it is not written as a diary, it reads like on. The book follows the year though all the Jewish holidays, starting with Rosh Hashanah and Dorrie explains the story and Jewish customs for celebrating each holiday for the benefit of readers who may not be familiar with them. She also talks about the war and it's effect on her family, and when Victor comes, we hear his story in detail, but not so much detail that it would be too much for the targeted age of intended readers. This is a book, after all, that is written for kids who are beginning to learn about the Holocaust.
Now, the 12 recipes. Not all are real recipes, but some are and they are made from scratch. My 10 year old budding chef liked that idea, since she is a cooking purist. We actually make Dorrie's Sweet Semester entry, which was so good that when I went to take a picture, they were all gone. Lesson learned - don't leave good tasting stuff unattended with kids in the house and without telling them hands off.
This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was purchased for my personal library
Peanuts, Cracker Jack, cotton candy, and hot dogs! Those are my fondest memories of the ball park, and they certainly top my daughters' lists as well. But one equally hallowed tradition of baseball had been fading from the American scene, so I'm glad to see a picture book that's bringing it back.
Betsy's Day at the Game, written by Greg Bancroft and illustrated by Katherine Blackmore, describes a young girl's visit to the ballpark with her grandfather. The book captures all there is to love about baseball, and that's because author Greg Bancroft seems to be a baseball fan first and foremost. His words and Katherine Blackmore's images capture the sights, sounds, smells, and (my favorite part) tastes of the ballpark. Via their narrative, we spend a day vicarioulsy at the park. Simple enough, right?
As the story progresses and the game begins, however, we realize that much more is taking place. Betsy and Grandpa are teaching us, step by step and in plain English, how to keep score. For the those who are as clueless as me, keeping score in baseball goes way beyond tallying runs!
Codes and symbols are entered onto a scorecard, effectively chronicling every offensive and defensive play of the game. From what friends have told me, baseball fans can read a score book and see the entire game played out in their heads in the same way that musicians can read sheet music and actually "hear the song."
So while I started out as a true scoring novice, by book's end I had a pretty good idea of the whole process. And trust me, if I can figure it out, anyone can! Betsy's Day at the Game would definitely score a home run with any young baseball fan. Using the handy scorecards supplied in the back of the book, fans could easily follow along with and score their favorite team at the park or on TV.
You can enter to win a free copy of this book for your fave fan or yourself by simply emailing me at keithschoch at gmail dot com (standard email format) with PLAY BALL! in the subject line. Contest closes at 11:59 PM EST Friday, April 19, 2013.
Check out a tutorial on scoring if you want more examples, plus the formulas to figure out all the stats you would ever need. The actual scorecard isn't as nice as the one in the back of Betsy's Day at the Game, however.
Taking your child to the park for the first time? Definitely have a Plan B! We know how attention spans can dwindle as kids become hot, tired, cranky, over-sugared, and all of the above. TeachMama has a fabulous set of suggestions for surviving your outing using Kid-Friendly Learning During Baseball Games.
With 42, the Jackie Robinson movie, releasing in theaters this weekend, younger readers might interested in learning more about this courageous hero in baseball history. For readers in grades 2-5, I highly recommend Jackie Robinson: American Hero, written by the star's own daughter, Sharon Robinson. This transitional book features not only the perfect blend of images and text, but also the perfect blend of backstory and biography. Sharon Robinson provides young readers with just enough historical context to understand and appreciate what made JackieRobinson's accomplishments incredible not only for his time, but for all of time. If you're a teacher hoping to engage your reluctant readers with chapter books, this one is a winner!
I haven't posted in almost a week, but I'm blaming the gorgeous weather. I don't like to force myself to blog -- that totally takes the fun out of it -- so, if I'm not feeling like sitting down at a computer, I just don't. Instead, we've been enjoying the outdoors! My birthday is also this week (watch for a big giveaway on Friday), so look for fun posts the rest of the week.
Saturday we spent in D.C., wandering Eastern Market and eating along the way. We may have bought a pickle, hoping to get a few funny-face photos out of E, but instead, he loved the sour dill flavor. Ate the whole thing!
Sunday, Aaron ran a local 5K with a few friends, so we went out to cheer him on and ended up spending most of the morning at the race location, just enjoying the weather and letting the child tire himself out with people/dog watching. We all had a great time!
After Sunday naps, I finally ended up at a running store (literally, The Running Store) to get properly fitted for shoes, have a gait analysis done, and pick out new shoes. Apparently I'm still a Saucony girl and I never should have strayed to Mizunos. Great shoes, just not for me.
I'm going to finish out this post with a photo dump -- I can't help myself. E is just too cute to not share. Tomorrow I'll be sharing my birthday wish list in the event you all want to go shopping for me, Thursday a review of one of my favorite books of the year, and Friday a BIG giveaway in honor of my BIG birthday. See you tomorrow!
Rilla: I’ve been thinking. We should have an art club for kids who want to be artists when they grow up.
Me: I love that idea!
Rilla: I wonder what we should call it.
Me, having a Jane Andrews moment: Um, the Art Club?
(Somewhere, Anne Shirley shakes her head in disgust.)
Rilla: No…I know! How about the Art Bassoon?
Rilla: What is a bassoon, anyway?
Me: It’s a musical instrument—here, I’ll show you. *reaches for Google*
Google, beaming: You’re going to love this.
YouTube, modestly:This old thing? Why it’s just a little something I threw together.
We watch in delight as a bassoon quartet plays a Super Mario Galaxy medley. Rilla’s excitement cannot be described. She marvels over the size of the bassoons, their rollicking sound as they play the familiar melodies.
Rilla: Bassoons are awesome.
Rilla: But on second thought, I don’t think Art Bassoon is the right name for our club.
1) “Children of the Lamp(The Akhanaten Adventure)- by P.B Kerr, published by “Orchard books, and imprint of scholastic Inc.New York 2004.What if you find out that you are descendants from a long line of Dijon, human-like beings created from fire.They are able to grant wishes, and take on different animal forms.This is exactly what happens to two twelve-year-old twins, John and Phillippa, after they get their wisdom teeth pulled.The children are sent to London to their Uncle Nimrod's home where their amazing adventure begins. This venture takes the reader on a magic carpet ride through a fantasy Middle Eastern World. This journey teaches the twins that granting wishes is not only dangerous for themselves, but for people who desire wishes as well.
2) “Peter and Star Catchers”-Writtenby Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, illustrated by Greg Call.Published by Disney Hyperion paperbacks for children New York 2004.How was never-land discovered?How did Peter Pan become a boy forever?This book helps the reader find answers to those questions and many more.Peter Pan is a never aging boy, who visits children at night and takes them to fantasy island called Never-Land where magic lives.Through the use of vivid language and pencil illustrations, the authors introduce us to how Peter Pan became a part of a world, full of amazing creatures, and magic. This story reveals the mystery of magic dust and how Children can make it real by looking within and tapping into their own imagination.
3)“Infinity Ring book three the trapdoor”- written by Lisa McMann, published by Scholastic Inc.New York 2013.The next book in this interactive serious takes our heroes Dak, Sera and Riq to Maryland in 1850 just before the Civil War.The main character in this book travel back it time and fix History Breaks, that has been caused by an evil corporation with intentions to take over the world.The time period in this book describes how new law has been passed that allows any white American to report free blacks, and then make them slaves. The children's mission is to stop this law, and to save the civil right leaders from a prison Dream like landscapes, humor and adventure take the seriousness of the topic at hand, and twists it into a fun read for everyone.
4) “The 13thReality, the Journal of curious letters. - Written by James Dashner, illustrated by Bryan Beus, Published by Shadow Mountain Press an imprint of Worzalla Publishing Co.Stevens point, WI. 2008. One day a nerdy boy, Atticus Higginbottom receives a strange letter from Alaska.After this boy’s life changes from a boring one to life full of mystery and questions that, need to be answered.Twelve clues help him understand that the world he lives in is just one of many parallel worlds, which still need to be discovered and saved.If a child likes to solve problems through clues, they would love this book.A story progresses Atticus goes from zero to hero.The pencil illustrations and secrets surrounding the boy’s life will keep your middle graders turning the pages.Add a Comment
A Dash of Magic. Kathryn Littlewood. 2013. HarperCollins. 384 pages.
Well. I liked it more than the other book I recently read with a talking cat and rat.
A Dash of Magic is the sequel to Kathryn Littlewood's Bliss. Rosemary, our heroine, is trying to redeem the situation. The family's oh-so-magical cook book was stolen by "Aunt" Lily in the first novel, and this second novel is the family's attempt to get it back. Rose has challenged their nemesis Lily to participate in a world-famous French bakery contest. The family first flies to Mexico to meet their great-great-great-whatever grandfather who has another copy of the cook book, only in a language no one else seems to be able to decipher. Along with a talking cat, the Bliss family heads to Paris...
It's a playful fantasy with some coming-of-age themes. Rose does lack in confidence in both books. If I can remember to skip the recipes, I enjoy these books.
Read A Dash of Magic
If you enjoyed Bliss
If you enjoy children's fantasy novels
If you enjoy children's books with a cooking theme
I enjoyed reading Kathryn Littlewood's Bliss. This middle grade fantasy was quite fun. Bliss is set in a small town where the Bliss family has a bakery. The parents have named their children: Thyme (Ty), Rosemary (our heroine), Sage, and Parsley (Leigh). The Bliss family has a secret, a secret that Rosemary hasn't always known. The family is magical, their is a bit of magic in each recipe. These magical spells help the town run smoothly. Soon after the novel begins, the parents are called away to another town to handle an emergency. The parents leave their children and Chip in charge of the bakery. Though Rosemary has recently been trusted with a key, she's also warned by her parents NOT to look into the family's secret cookbook. "Aunt" Lily has been waiting for such an opportunity. Rose's parents haven't been gone very long at all when this new relative appears ready to help them all. Is she trustworthy? Well, Rosemary doesn't really think so. But. She sure does know how to flatter every single member of the family. NO one has ever made Rose feel so special...
Most of the book is the misadventures resulting when the children are disobedient and try to do magic on their own. Things get quite messy!
If you enjoy children's books with a cooking theme
The sisters Stephenson live in their humble vicarage with their father, brother and Stepmama. Eldest Elissa is soon to be foisted off to old Sir Neville in the name of bringing some much needed money to the family. Elissa is long suffering and realizes that this is to be her duty and her fate. Middle sister Angeline and youngest Kat don't understand why Elissa has to be so good about everything...always doing her duty, never getting into trouble. Kat constantly finds herself in trouble, as manners and ladylike things are not her forte. Angeline herself has gotten into a bit of trouble as she has been using her Mama's magic book (strictly forbidden) and has managed to cast a love spell on the unsuspecting Frederick Carlyle. Mama had been a witch, and it was clearly her downfall. One of the first things that their stepmama did when she joined the family was to lock away all of the girls' mother's things in a cabinet. Kat, being the youngest, is insatiably curious about her Mama as she was so young when she passed. One evening Kat dares to steal the key to unlock the cabinet so that she can know something of her Mama as her sisters do. If she ever had any questions about her mother's magical abilities they are answered in the darkness. Before Kat can fully address her realizations and questions about her own magical abilities, she is rounded up with her sisters by her Stepmama to attend a week long house party at Grantham Abbey where Elissa is to meet Sir Neville. Upon meeting the older gentleman, Kat is overcome with a feeling of darkness. There is simply no way she can allow her sister to marry this man. Especially when it is so clear to anyone around her that she actually has feelings for Sir Neville's brother, Mr. Collingwood. What follows is a wonderful adventure filled with magical orders, intrigue, murder, highwaymen and family loyalty and betrayal. Kat herself is a fierce and feminist character who relies on herself and takes all kinds of risks rather than succumbing to helplessness. The pacing is perfect and the cast of characters compliment each other completely. There is non-stop action and just the right amount of romance. Kat is someone readers will want to get to know further as they cheer her on. Readers of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, and The Mysterious Benedict Society will likely adore this one as well.
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Clementine and the Spring Trip. Sara Pennypacker. 2013. Hyperion. 160 pages.
Clementine has to be one of my favorite heroines. I just LOVE spending time with her. I love reading about her family life AND I love reading about her school days too. She always has an opinion, and she's always got something on her mind! In this book, Clementine is excited but nervous about an upcoming field trip to Plimoth Plantation. At first she felt comfortable about going because she was going to partner with fourth grader, Margaret. (Clementine is in third grade.) Clementine was going to help Margaret by doing all the "dirty" work, and Margaret was going to help Clementine by teaching her to eat quietly. The "rule" of the fourth graders being that no noisy foods are ever allowed. But when a new student arrives, a girl named Olive, well, plans change. The teacher assigns Olive to Clementine, and with the teacher and the principal telling Clementine that this will be a GOOD thing, she has to accept her disappointment. But noisy eating isn't the only thing worrying Clementine and her classmates, no, there is the dreaded bus number seven with "the cloud." This is the SMELLIEST bus ever, a thing of nightmares. And oh how the kids like to make comparisons as to what it smells like and why!!!
The novel is great fun focusing on Clementine at school and home. I would definitely recommend this series.
Read Clementine and the Spring Trip
If you love children's books
If you're looking for a heroine to love and adore (like Ramona, Moxy Maxwell, or Ida May, etc.)
Under our banner of Super Nifty Things to Do in the Valley, here’s a great family event coming up soon. Check it out!
2nd Annual 4GOOD Family Day
Sunday April 7, 2013 1:30 – 4:30 p.m.
3921 Laurel Canyon Boulevard Studio City, CA 91604
Please join 4GOOD, for a fantastic way to help our kids understand how important it is to give back to their community! 4GOOD will host a FREE afternoon of hands-on volunteer opportunities for ALL AGES, including:
Creating cards for service men and women over seas with Operation Gratitude
Crafting friendship bracelets sponsored by the Zimmer Museum for Children’s Hospital LA
Decorating placemats and lunch bags for seniors with Meals on Wheels sponsored by Sunnyside Preschool;
Making fleece blankets for sick & needy children with Binky Patrol and much, much more.
We are asking families, if they can, to bring items that will help numerous persons in need.
gently-used stuffed animals
gently-used teen formal attire
gently-used plastic kids toys
Families can enjoy lots of entertainment, delicious affordable food, free face painting, informational booths and fun for the entire family.
I can't believe I have a 16-month-old. I'm sure every parent says that every single month, but seriously, where does the time go? All of a sudden I have this child instead of a baby and it makes me very emotional. Then I look at this face and just laugh.
This past month, Elliott has started walking all over the place and when really excited, almost runs. He also had his first real playdate at someone's home and sat like all the other kids did for his snack. He really liked mimicking what they were doing -- almost makes me want to give him a sibling. *Almost* This quickly prompted me to pickup a used mini table and chairs set for our house.
He has 6 teeth and loves to eat. Unfortunately, he's very specific as to what he will and won't eat, so I've started being very careful about how many snacks he gets a day. The less he snacks, the less picky he seems to be. He does really love raw carrots and celery though and they last a long time. He probably chewed on this carrot for 90 minutes. Just carried it around with him all morning.
He has turned into a typical little boy, falling in love with trucks, cars, and trains. He loves to wave to the garbage trucks when they stop to pick up our trash each week and is totally obsessed with the school buses that go by every morning and afternoon. We live right across the street from an elementary school, so he gets a lot of bus time.
He got hit hard with a bad chest cold and teething all at the same time a couple of weeks ago, so there was a lot of cuddle time going on around here. Finally, everyone is well and looking forward to Spring!
16 months is so much fun and from what I see from other kids, 17-18 months will be a blast too. He has such a great personality and we're really blessed with a happy child 99% of the time.
I'm not super eloquent when it comes to talking about my love of God and how mind-boggling it is what He did for us. That's why this is mainly a blog about books and not about my faith. However, today, Good Friday, is a big day in our house. It's a day of reflection and of pure thankfulness. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.
We're in Upstate NY, enjoying time with our family and doing a lot of thanking. Two bloggers put into words what I just can't seem to:
I'll be celebrating His resurrection quietly on Sunday, as my in-laws do not have a home church and with a toddler it's difficult to just "pick one" from an area we aren't familiar with for a one-day visit. Doesn't make our day any less special though.
Have a wonderful Easter! See you either Monday or Tuesday :)
"So as that summer began, while America counted hostage days and Beth learned to swim, I thought up good lies to tell and climbed trees and lay a lot in the shade." (egalley pg 11-12)
11 year old Annie and little brother Rew live at the edge of the Zebra forest with their Gran. They keep mostly to themselves, on account of the house and on account of Gran, but Annie and Rew have each other, a battered copy of Treasure Island, the joy of making up bad jokes, and the many trees of the Zebra forest to keep them company on the hot, steamy summer days.
They are getting along in typical fashion when one summer night, a man rattles the back door and steps into the kitchen. Before Annie can process what is even happening, the man takes the key they always keep in the knob, drops it in his pocket and tells Annie to stay quiet. As Annie stands dumbfounded, Rew heads for the phone and then the door, but the man is quick and powerful. He is also covered in mud, and his clothes are torn. He has come through the forest. On the other side of the Zebra forest is the prison.
Now they must wait. Gran completely shuts down, and Annie and Rew must figure out how to be in the house with the doors shut and the windows closed, with the precarious piles and dirty dishes, with the man always there, always watching. There will be no more going into the trees to read Treasure Island, no more trips out into the shade.
Adina Rishe Gewirtz has crafted a novel that gives an inside look into mental illness and family. There is an incredible resilience to both Annie and Rew that shines through even though the two deal with their situation in vastly different ways. The importance of story (both family and books) is felt throughout. Even though some major points like the Iran Hostage Crisis and the plot of Treasure Island may be unfamiliar to today's readers, Gewirtz does a fine job of weaving them into the greater plot -- using them to give a sense of ticking time as well as examination into real life characters. This is a book that may not be for everyone, but will definitely find fierce love with the readers who love imperfect characters, finding connections, and those who don't mind feeling a bit off kilter.