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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Family, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,507
1. A Single Red Sock

There was a young husband who took a young wife to live in a shoebox beside a busy thoroughfare. The young man attempted to treat his wife with utmost sincerity and kindness, but often found that his tongue got in his way. Dull and ill-advised words suitable only for bachelorhood unfortunately found their way from his mouth to his young bride’s ear.

While the ever-patient bride overlooked most of the offenses, the stupid young husband constantly felt it necessary to pay penance for his outbursts by aiding his wife in her chores. After one particular peccadillo, the husband took it upon himself to do the laundry.

Knowing at least that colors and whites must go separately, he sorted the clothes into piles and decided to begin with the whites. In went the slightly dingy load while the hopeful husband added soap and waited nearby. When the buzzer rang, he jumped to his feet expecting to pull out gleaming white clothes. What to his wondering eyes did appear, but a washer full of pink. Pink, the color of panic. Nothing was the same as it had gone in.

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With his bride due home soon, he frantically searched the load to find an offending single red sock. Casting it aside, he loaded the machine with bleach and ran the whites through once more. Bing – cycle over, no change. Pink panic.

A key at the door

A smiling bride

A kiss before the confession

Disappointment, accusation, regret

“My favorite shirt!” she exclaimed as she held up a blushing blouse. “Ruined!”

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” pled the husband. “I’ll buy you another. What else can I do, my darling?”

“I will tell you what you can do,” she fumed. “You can promise you will never, ever, ever do the laundry again!”

“I swear it, my love,” promised the young man on bended knee. “I will never touch dirty clothes for as long as you’ll have me.”

One score and two years later, the older husband is still bound by his oath and forbidden to use the washing machine with the following exception: his rag towels.

With a family so large, the machine seems to run day and night, but can he help? Not besides folding.

I ask you the following, was the young naïve husband really so foolish decades ago, or did he craft a cunning plan sure to guarantee a life of marital slackness? Could you place that much credit for forethought on the brash youth who couldn’t keep his pie-hole closed? Would the wife’s version tell a different tale?


9 Comments on A Single Red Sock, last added: 4/17/2014
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2. It was a wild, wild wood…

furfamily

Here’s a little moment in time. Right after I read The Little Fur Family to Huck (for the first time!) the other day, he wanted to read it himself. This is one of my favorite picture books to read with very young kids, and I can’t imagine how it slipped past Huck until now—I found this copy of the book at the bottom of a box of toys earlier in the week. Of course the very best edition is the tiny one with the faux-fur cover. It’s around here somewhere, but I don’t recall seeing it in ages. It’s probably under a bed.

Anyway, when I grabbed my boy for the read-aloud, he was reluctant to listen, as he very often is right at the beginning. And then, as nearly always happens, before I finish the first page, he’s hooked. It went double this time around. He fell hard for the little fur child in the wild, wild wood, like so many before him.

I caught a good chunk of his reading on video. There’s background noise from his big sisters and brother, but you can hear him pretty well. I love watching the leaps kids make at this age—the substitutions where they think they see where the word is going and plug in one they know, like his “fun children” for “fur child” and “mom” for “mother.”

I don’t know if I caught this stage on video with any of the other kids. I have a pretty young Rilla reading an Ariel speech from The Tempest—you can’t hear much in the recording but it melts me to see the confidence with which she attacks some quite challenging text—but nothing, as far as I can recall, of the others at Huck’s stage. I’m glad I captured this much. Those sneezes!

(Vimeo link)

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3. Look Who is Moving & Shaking

Bee Movers and Shakers 041614

 

We are so proud of our children’s book, The Bee Bully.  He is being featured currently on Bookbub.com through April 17th and he is being very well received.  He is currently #4 on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers List for kindle and he is #1 in the Children’s Ebook category.  He has been reduced to $.99 during this promotion period and has over 80 five-star reviews.  Be sure to get a copy today and see what all the buzz is about!

 

beecover

 

 


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4. Photo: Cat Eyes

I took this photo of my fat cat.

For an author of a series called “Scary Tales,” it impossible not to feel a little inspired.

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5. Tax Day – But I’m not Bitter

I think April 15th would be the worst birthday to have. There are two kinds of people as it relates to taxes – those who get a check and those who have to send a check. If you have to send a check (like me), you grudgingly hold onto it until the last minute and mail it on April 14th, leaving you broke and unable to buy a present for your friend with a birthday the following day. If you get a check, you filed in early February. Since you considered the return a sudden windfall, you blew it on something frivolous like a snowcone maker, leaving you no residual to buy a present for your friend with the worst birthday of the year.

Conversely, there would be something extremely cool about being a leap baby and having February 29th as your birthday.

1040_formThat tidbit is irrelevant today since I just had to write a check to the United States Treasury! Oh, I understand that it costs to provide government services. I know it has to come from the citizens. I just hate filling that out on the check – and then they want me to Fed X it or pay extra for a return confirmation. I’m sorry, but aren’t I paying for the postal service to be sufficient to deliver your money to you? If you have any doubts whether the man in blue who just took my envelop can discharge his duty properly, shouldn’t you institute a better employee screening process instead of charging me another $4.50?

I’m not bitter, though. Not at all.

But while I’m on the subject, I remember when I took my first baby home from the hospital in mid-December. When I did my taxes, I felt like I had cheated the world since I got a deduction for the entire year and she only cost me for two weeks. That was eighteen years ago. So this year I lost the tax credit for her because she turned eighteen. I love her dearly, but like most children, she is complete financial dead weight – all cost, little contribution. And let me tell you Mr. United States Treasury, she costs considerably more now at eighteen than she did at one. I’d trade diapers and formula for cell phones, clothes, gas and car insurance any day.The_taxes_by_Orlov

I’m not bitter, though. Not at all.

I could go on, about paying into a social security system that I am assured will not exist when I am of age to need it. That’s why I had four kids, they are a kind of a retirement plan for me. I figure I can rotate a week a month at each of their houses and mooch off them just to pay them back. I’ll refuse to wear pants, make odd noises and smells, and sit on the front porch complaining about the government all day.

I’m not bitter, though. Not at all…

Man_in_a_Rocking_Chair,_from_Robert_N._Dennis_collection_of_stereoscopic_views

Photo credit: Robert N. Dennis Collection of Stereoscopic Views
Artwork: The Taxes by Orlov

10 Comments on Tax Day – But I’m not Bitter, last added: 4/15/2014
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6. #539 – Two Hands to Love You by Diane Adams & Paige Keiser

TWO HANDS TO LOVE YOU.

Two Hands to Love You

by Diane Adams & Paige Keiser, illustrator

Chronicle Books      2014

978-0-8118-7797-8

Age 4 to 8     36 pages

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“With two loving hands, an adoring mother cradles her baby after bath time and a devoted father introduces his toddler to the wonders of he world. Sister, brother, grandma, and grandpa all can’t wait to share what they love best about the world with their newest family member. And when it is time to step ot into the world, this caring family is right there alongside. In simple, heartfelt language, this soothing picture book for the very young will tug at the heartstrings and remind us all of the caring hands that helped us along our way.”

Opening

“When the world is a strange place, unfamiliar and new,

my two hands will hold you, will carry you through.”

The Story

In a nutshell, the story is about a couple who begin a family and the paths they take with their children as they grow and become a family of five—plus two involved grandparents. The first baby is gently cared for, everything new for everyone, not just the baby. As he grows, mom plays outside with her toddler, pulling him in a wagon after an afternoon bath in the sun.

Dad takes over, playing airplane with his son, then cradles the new baby and pledges his love. The first-born cares for the second-born, a girl as curious as her brother. Then the third arrives and the three kids guide and love each other.

Grandparents read to their grandson and blow bubbles for this newest child. The joys of childhood and a mother who races to her crying child. This all is part of this family of five, who love each other.

Review

My loyal readers know what I will write in this space and it will not be that I hated this book. The story is composed of fragments of time, caught like photographs. A mother holds her first-born close, never wanting to let go, but she does. With dad, the toddler continues to grow and this happy family of three thrives. Then enters child number two, a girl. It is daddy’s turn to hold the baby close, his little girl. The images that accompany each frame of time softly plays the scene out for us.

mom

Using watercolors and ink, the artist catches these tender moments, making them precious and tenderer, if that is even possible. Her images could tell this story without the text, which is what a good illustrated picture book should do—words for adults and kids, images for little ones, not yet a reader. I tended to pick up this book and turn its pages carefully, feeling the fragility of family, and the joys of one so close.

Children have real childhoods, playing with each other, guiding each other. Along the way, various hands help the children to grow: mom, dad, grandma and grandpa, and many more not shown.The sweetness is palatable. Two Hands to Love You may well have you thinking about your own little ones, whether they are still little or grown and on their own, maybe starting families. Alternatively, of your own childhood and what that meant to you.

dad

I love the rhyming text. The words fit together perfectly, meaning I did not immediately recognize the rhyme, just the smooth flow of words that belonged together in that precise order. I think this story can help others remember what a family needs to be—a shelter in the storm and a place to learn and grow without ridicule and maybe a little rhyme.

I love the inherent gentleness the illustrations give us. I love the extended family all involved in raising a child. I guess I simply love Two Hands to Love You, which is an ideal baby shower gift. This is also an, “Oh, my, gosh, you’re pregnant” gift. New parents will cherish Two Hands to Love You. It would be the couple’s first, How to Raise Baby book.

For children Two Hands to Love You reinforces that parents will always be there for them, no matter the distance. That home is a shelter from the storm. A place to recharge before heading back into the world. Children want to know their parents will also be there for them. That message rings loudly through the tender pages of Two Hands to Love You.

kids

TWO HANDS TO LOVE YOU. Text copyright © 2014 by Diane Adams. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Paige Keiser. Reproduce by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.

To learn more about Two Hands to Love You, click HERE.

Make Two Hands to Love You yours by going to AmazonB&NChronicle Books—or your local bookstore.

 

Meet the author, Diane Adams at her website:   http://www.dianeadams.net/

Meet the illustrator, Paige Keiser at her website:   http://www.paigekeiser.com/

Find other incredible books at the Chronicle Books website:   http://www.chroniclebooks.com/

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Also by Paige Keiser

The Little Green Pea

The Little Green Pea

One Night In Bethlehem

One Night In Bethlehem

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. I Love My Hat (October 2014)

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NEW from Chronicle Books

I Didn't Do My Homework Because . . .

I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . .

 Peek-a Zoo

Peek-a Zoo

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2 hands to love you

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Today is National Library Workers Day

Be extras nice to those who staff your library!


Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Debut Author, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: children, children's book reviews, Chronicle Books, Diane Adams, family, family relationships, grandparents, growing up, Paige Keiser, parents, raising children

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7. Magical Eight

eight  flowersinthehair

Eight. I’m not alone in feeling like this year passed in five minutes, right? This child was practically born on this blog, and I just. can’t. believe. she’s eight years old.

Read today:

The Little Fur Family (Huck’s first time)
The Secret Garden

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8. Grandpa's Third Drawer: Unlocking Holocaust Memories written and illustrated by Judy Tal Kopelman

Young Uri loves to visit his grandparents.  He sees his vacations there as a quiet respite from the daily routines and annoyances of life at home, especially his nagging sister.  Grandpa Yuda always has time to play with him, and Grandma Genia loves to pamper him with hot chocolate and homemade cookies.

But Uri's favorite spot in his grandparent's home is Grandpa Yuda's study.  In the study, Uri tells the reader, his Grandpa has a desk with three drawers and he is allowed to keep his pencil case and crayons in the first drawer.   Grandpa  keeps all kinds of little toys he used to play with when he was a boy before the war in the second drawer, and now, he lets Uri play with them.  But the third drawer is always kept locked.  No one, not even Uri, is allowed to open it and Grandpa never talks about what's inside.

Naturally, Uri can't help but wonder about that third drawer - what's in there and why it is a secret.

Then, one cold, rainy winter day, Uri finds himself home alone for a little while and decides to color.  He goes into Grandpa's study to get his crayons, and there in the first drawer is a key, one he is certain would open the third drawer.

Sure enough, when he puts the key into the keyhole and turns it, the drawer opens.  But just then, Grandpa Yuda walks into the room and catches him holding a yellow star with a safety pin, just one of the things Uri found in the drawer.   At first, Grandpa is angry at Uri, but then he decides to tell him about the contents of the locked drawer.

Grandpa tells Uri about being sent to live in a ghetto with his parents and sister Anna, about how hungry he was there, because they were allowed so little food with their ration stamps.  In the drawer, is the doll his mother made for Anna from rags, and the dominoes he made himself from wooden scraps while in the ghetto.

And he tells Uri about the day his family was separated by the Nazis, never to be seen again.   His grandparents were sent to a concentrations camp, while his sister and parents sent somewhere else on trains.  Grandpa Yuda was sent to a labor camp.

Uri tells us they stayed up late that night talking about these events and even afterwards, Uri had lots of questions which Grandpa always took the time to answer while they played with the homemade wooden dominoes.

The Holocaust is a delicate subject and it is hard to know when to talk to young children about it.  For the children, grandchildren and now even the great grandchildren of survivors, that may happen sooner than for other kids, because they may hear things being said, or noticed the number on a grandparent's arm.

Whatever your reasons for starting a conversation about the Holocaust with a younger child, this gentlest of stories would be an ideal way to begin, just as Uri's Grandpa did.  As Grandpa explains what happened to his family, he keeps the focus on his them and not on the Nazis.

The story is told in clear, simple language, and enough details are given for a child to understand what happened to Grandpa's and his family without becoming too graphic to frighten.  This focus on Uri's family history also helps him to feel more connected to them and his Grandfather and is more emotionally age appropriate for a child around Uri's age (which is probably 6 or &).  Details of Nazi atrocities will come later in Uri's life, when he can emotionally handle them better.

Grandpa's Third Drawer was originally published in Israel in 2003, where it won the Ze'ev Prize for Children's Literature.  It is newly translated picture book has now been published for young readers in English.  The artifacts and illustrations used by Kopelman were used courtesy of Beit Theresienstadt Archives, in Givat-Haim Ichud, Israel.

Grandpa's Third Drawer will be available on May 1, 2014.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was an eARC received from Edelweiss

0 Comments on Grandpa's Third Drawer: Unlocking Holocaust Memories written and illustrated by Judy Tal Kopelman as of 4/12/2014 11:37:00 AM
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9. Where were you?

Where were you when you first heard the sound? Good sounds – your husband’s voice, your baby’s giggle, the words “I love you?” Do you remember? Can you picture the scene and surroundings?

I experienced a condensed courtship with my wife because I was briefly called back to service during Desert Storm. I don’t recall the first expression of the four- letter L word in our relationship. I know it came, and stuck. I have said it to her every day for nearly twenty-two years. I say it every night to my girls and sometimes in front of other people, much to their chagrin.

I wish I remembered the first time I said it, though.

I will never forget the first time I heard the word Cancer as it related to my family. I was in the hospital just a week ago when it was introduced to me, while my little girl lay sleeping nearby. The doctor actually used the words “oncological event” before I made him dumb it down for me. Cancer.

I held my wife in my arms as she collapsed into a puddle. Doesn’t cancer affect other families? Why would he be saying this word? I felt an instant dislike for this man, but my mind clouded to nothing. My wife’s head heaved in my chest. I couldn’t think in more than three word bursts. I have no idea how long we stood that way. I was roused only by the sound of a man pushing a cart way down at the end of the hall. The wheel squeaked as he carried out his task and I remember thinking, “How can he be pushing that? Doesn’t he know? It doesn’t matter where that squeaky cart is! Why isn’t he stopping?”

It was then I realized this isn’t everyone’s diagnosis. It is Kylie’s and ours: our family’s, our friends and network of support. But the rest of the world will continue to march on around us.

I will add a link to Kylie’s Caring Bridge at the end of this post because I won’t allow cancer to dominate my writing. It will peak its evil head in from time to time, I have no doubt. But I won’t allow it to take over my life, steal my joy, soil my faith, or crush my little girl.

It took a while to determine the enemy. Until then, we’ve been punching at shadows. Now we start to take it out. We are at the beginning of a long road, but there is hope. Kylie knows what is going on, she is scared. We cried together and prayed. She has decided that this is happening because God must have a really big, great plan for her. I don’t know if I could have gotten to those words so quickly at twelve – she’s just chock-full of amazing.

image

The picture I added is one of Kylie as Annie in her school play a couple of years ago. She is an incredible actress and I can’t wait to see her on stage again.

Because our minds are reeling right now, the verse we’ve been holding onto is Romans 8:26

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement, friends. I have to go now, the bell just sounded for round one…

 

http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kyliemyers

 


11 Comments on Where were you?, last added: 4/10/2014
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10. Enter to Win a Paperback Copy of Flutura

 

We are giving away three paperback copies of  Flutura (The Alpha Girls Series, book one) from now until April 18th. Book one of The Alpha Girls series introduces you to Alexis, Brittany and Caitlin who have grown up together since birth. Caitlin is ready to become a woman, but she’s fourteen and has yet to experience her first French kiss or her first period. The summer before high school will change all of that.

Caitlin is taken by surprise when Joshua reveals his feelings for her. As Caitlin sorts out her own feelings toward Josh the memory of the kiss she shared with Trick on the beach continues to invade her thoughts.

Good thing she’ll never see Trick again or things could get complicated.

You can also find Larva (The Alpha Girls Series, book two) available now on Amazon kindle and paperback.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Flutura by Angela Muse

Flutura

by Angela Muse

Giveaway ends April 18, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


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11. Here Comes Peter Cottontail – Easter Reviews

Is your freezer full of hot cross buns? Are you feeling bilious after over-eroding the stash of chocolate eggs you’ve had hidden for weeks from the kids? If so, you may already be over Easter. But wait. There’s more! While you won’t find a great deal of religious meaning in the following titles, they do bubble and burst with frivolity and interactive verve, perfect for sharing with your family, which for me, ticks at least one of my Easter boxes.

Easter Egg expressFirst egg out of the basket – Easter Egg Express by Susannah McFarlane and Caroline Keys, is part of the cute and clever Little Mates A-Z series. Unashamedly Australian, abundant with alliteration and more colour than you’d find in a rainbow, Little Mates rarely fail to deliver. Fortunately, thanks to the help of their bush mates, Easter bilbies Ellie and Eric deliver as well, just in time for an Easter extravaganza. Easter Egg Express epitomises Easter eggactly; egg hunts, egg painting, egg eating and eggceptionally tasty hot cross buns. Eggcellent! (Sorry for the lame yolks)

10 Hopping bunnies10 Hopping Bunnies by winning team, Ed Allen and Simon Williams, serves up more frantic fun for 3 year olds. As with other titles in the series, including 10 Smiley Crocs, this is a zany rendition of the popular ditty, Ten Green Bottles. Counting to ten has never been so energetic and hilarious. William’s illustrations race, hop, bound, swing and bounce across the pages in a riotous countdown that is never boring but plenty bonkers. There’s a touch of Graeme Base on every page too, as readers are encouraged to spot hidden numbers. Practical, merry good fun.

There was an old Bloke who Swallowed a BunnyHow about another well-known tune, now that your vocal chords are all limbered up? There was an Old Bloke who Swallowed a Bunny! by series duo P Crumble and Louis Shea, will keep you singing. It seems incredible that, that old bloke and lady are able to look at another morsel after stuffing themselves silly with stars, thongs, chooks, mozzies and spiders. But these non-sensical characters in this nonsense nursery rhyme appear to have plenty of life and room in them yet.

Our old bloke finds himself famished whilst on the farm. The usual gastronomic gobbling ensues until ‘kapow!’ farmyard calm is restored. Again, it’s the in-your-face, brighter than day illustrations that steal the show. Simultaneous bonsai stories blossom on every page guaranteeing repeated readings and plenty of contemplative pausing and pointing out. But that’s okay because ‘Crikey!’ it’s funny.

We're going on an Egg HuntFinally, because Easter is slightly prone to exploitation, We’re Going on an Egg Hunt by Laine Mitchell and Louis Shea, is included in this fun and frivolous round-up for pre-schoolers. You’ll recognise the rhyme from the title and appreciate the vibrant illustrations accompanying the playful text as you sing along with the kids.

The look on our big-eyed, baby animal friends’ faces as they finally end their hunt in a choc-egg induced stupor is priceless; one we are all familiar with I’m sure. High energy plus high interactive potential = very morish. (There’s even a CD by Jay Laga’aia)

Bounce over here for more great Easter titles for young and old.

Scholastic Australia March 2014

 

 

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12. Hidden Like Anne Frank: Fourteen True Stories of Survival by Marcel Prins and Peter Henk Steenhuis

Most people are familiar with the story about how and why Anne Frank and her family went into hiding in the attic of her father's business in Amsterdam after Adolf Hitler's army invaded Holland.  The diary she wrote as a young teenager is a priceless artifact of those terrible times.  Anne, her sister Margot, and her mother did not survive after they were captured by the Nazis, only her father lived.  But Anne diary has become a symbol of courage, innocence, and one of the most tragic periods in recent history.

But if you knew Anne and her family were hidden away from the Nazis, you also probably figured that there were more, many, many more that we haven't heard much about.  Indeed, according to Marcel Prins, author of  Hidden Like Anne Frtank, approximately 28,000 Jews went into hiding during the Nazi occupation of Holland.  Of those, around 16,000 survived, and 12,000 did not.  Fascinated by his own mother's story of hiding and surviving, Prins collected stories of other children like her, and the result is Hidden Like Anne Frank, fourteen true stories of surviving the Holocaust by Jewish youths, both boys and girls, stories that are all different, all dangerous, all told in their own words.

Prins begins the book with his own mother's account of going into hiding.  Only 5 at the time, Rita Degen was forced to lie about her age and say she only going on 5, not 6, so that she wouldn't have to wear the required Yellow Star that marked her as Jewish.   She was quickly removed from her first foster family when someone recognized her, but luckily placed by the resistance in another home, where she was wanted.

Frightened by the deportations, Bloeme Emden, 16, was one of the people to be called up.  Her father managed to get it delayed, but that didn't last long.  She was told that if she didn't show up, her parents and younger sister would be taken.  Bloeme managed to get away again, but ultimately ended up in Auschwitz, where she ran into friends from school - Margot and Anne Frank.  Her parents and sister did not survive the Holocaust.

Hiding, constantly needing to change your identity, both name and religion, forced to lie and to live in fear are all part of the stories by these fourteen survivors.  At times, most of these youths managed to survive with the help of the Dutch Resistance, at other times, they simply survived by their own wits using creativity, stealth, craftiness.  Some found themselves in situations where they welcomed and cared for, others were taken advantage of, or terribly mistreated.  They were separated from their families and many never saw them again.  All of their individual stories attest to the horrors of the Holocaust.

Hidden Like Anne Frank is a fascinating, compellingly poignant collection of true stories.  The individual accounts are not very long, but they certainly convey the fear and danger that al Jews in hiding were forced to live with day by day, never knowing if they would see tomorrow or not, if they would see their loved ones again or not.  Prins has included lots of old photographs from the times before and after the children were hidden and at the end of the book, there are recent photographs of each person who contributed their story.

Hidden Like Anne Frank book should have lots of appeal for young readers, many, no doubt, will be drawn to it by Anne's name on the cover.  But it is also a perfect collection for any classroom when students begin studying World War II and the Holocaust.

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was received as an eARC from NetGalley

Be sure to visit the website devoted to Hidden like Anne Frank to hear more stories of survival told by these and other survivors.

This is book 1 of my European Reading Challenge hosted by Rose City Reader

0 Comments on Hidden Like Anne Frank: Fourteen True Stories of Survival by Marcel Prins and Peter Henk Steenhuis as of 4/5/2014 12:07:00 PM
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13. I Won’t Do That!

The season my first daughter was born, Kentucky won the NCAA championship. Two years later, along came daughter number two and, lo and behold, UK hoisted another banner. I joked with my lovely wife at the time that with all of the rich basketball fanatics in my home state, we could surely find a patron who would sponsor future babies if Kentucky kept cutting down nets. Alas, no such luck with numbers three and four.

Kentucky_Wallpaper

You’d have to know my wife, though. She loves babies. She would have started looking for real estate in Lexington had they won with our third. Her baby wanter gets turned on just by the smell of hospital soap. If she gets to hold one, I practically have to pry the child out of her hands. I came home not too long ago and she was holding a baby I had never seen with a contented smile on her face. I looked around…no one else in the house. For the briefest of moments I truly thought she had finally stolen one. (It turned out we were babysitting a teacher’s baby for a night.) Me, I like ‘em okay. I liked watching a game with one sleeping on my chest, but they always felt too fragile in my oversized mitts. I preferred the toddler years where we could wrestle and play.

Much to my delight, my beloved Wildcats have made it to the Final Four again this year. I said at the outset of the tourney that I wouldn’t be surprised if they got beat in the first round and I wouldn’t be surprised if they won it all. It’s been just that type of up and down year. I don’t keep up with sports like I used to, but I still watch my Cats when I can.

I’m sorry Cats. I love you and want you to win with all of my heart. But my baby days are behind me. I won’t do that!

(A little Meatloaf just for fun!)

 

Good luck to the Wildcats this weekend. I hope you cut the nets down on Monday. You just have to do it without my progeny this time.

 

Speaking of my progeny, I was set to post this yesterday until we got news related to the health of our youngest. We haven’t gotten an exact diagnosis yet, but have further tests next week. I appreciate the prayers and words of affirmation from my friends here. We’re hanging in there and she has meds now to make her feel better…  


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14. Larva is Live on Amazon

 

Larva Kindle Cover

We are pleased to announce the release of our second young adult book in our Alpha Girls series, Larva.  Book two of The Alpha Girls series follows Caitlin and her friends during their freshman year of high school.

Caitlin has been dating Josh most of the summer, but she finds herself torn between Josh and the new man on campus, Trick. Trick shared a passionate kiss with Caitlin over the summer on a Florida beach, but she never thought she’d see him again.

High school is full of choices. Some more difficult than others.

 


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15. I Need a Verse

Isn’t God good? We got some cloudy, murky news yesterday that left me muddled. We don’t have enough information to worry yet. But the mind tends to wander through potential – all of the worse-case scenarios. When I finally got home, I sat thinking, “I need a verse.” But nothing would come to mind. My mind was literally empty. Tabula Rasa. Clean slate.

God didn’t let me flounder long. He reached into the blankness nearly instantly through a text message of an old friend who was praying with us.

Philippians 4:6-7

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 

The lovely wife and I are rallying to get more testing today. We have made our requests known to Him. If you are a praying friend, I covet a word for my littlest, Kylie. She is a little worried and just wants her leg to stop hurting.

Otto_Greiner_Betende_Hände

 

Artwork credit: Otto Greiner [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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16. Day in the Life

IMG_4123

The weekend: Jane headed back to college, the rest of the kids succumbed one by one to a fairly-short-lived-but-obnoxious-in-the-short-term cold, and I cleaned house all day Saturday to avoid finishing my taxes. And then gardened all day Sunday to avoid same. Did not read much, in part because sitting still and doing something besides taxes was harder to justify than, say, scrubbing floors or mowing the lawn. I mean, I can’t possibly be faulted for procrastinating going through expense receipts when I’m washing walls, can I? You guys, I was even washing walls. My ability to be intensely industrious at all the wrong tasks is unparalleled.

Monday: all but one of the kids have kicked their cold. We’re still in high tide, have got a very groovy groove going, in fact. Rose, Beanie, and I are all enjoying the books we’re reading together, and Latin has been really fun lately. Also, it happened that the episode of Cosmos everyone watched the night before Jane left was all about Sir Isaac Newton, about whom we’ve been reading in The Story of Science. Extremely considerate of the show to time things so conveniently.

I’ve been getting some questions about scheduling lately, both from real-life friends and blog readers, and since I’ve completely dropped the ball on my separate homeschooling blog (if you’ve asked for the login info and I haven’t replied, it isn’t that you’re not welcome; it’s simply that I’ve dropped that ball too, and I haven’t posted there in weeks anyway so you aren’t missing a thing…but feel free to ping me again for the info!) maybe I can give a quick sketch here of a “typical day”—of course we all know there isn’t any such thing, really; they’re all a little different. But we do keep the same rough structure four days a week. The fifth day, which falls in the middle, is for piano lessons and errands and (for Beanie) volunteering at Wonderboy’s school.

6:30ish—the boys wake up, Scott turns on a show for them to watch.

7am—Scott and I get up (sometimes he’s up already). He fixes breakfast for the boys and cocoa for me, and I take my laptop to the couch where the lads are watching their show. Email, etc while I come alive.

7:35—supposed to be 7:30 but I always push it as long as possible. I get up to get dressed, put my contacts in, pack Wonderboy’s lunch. By now he has already gotten dressed and getting ready for school.

8am—I’m in my bathroom brushing my hair and I hear the first bell ring on the other side of our back fence. I jump into my shoes and walk WB around the corner just in time for school.

8:15 (is this too granular? LOL)—I’m back home and now Scott and I leave for our walk. Beanie and Rilla are by now up and dressed (well, Beanie’s dressed), finished with breakfast most likely, and the TV is off. Rose waits for us to leave before dragging herself out of bed. Usually someone is playing piano when we leave and someone else is playing when we get back.

8:45ish—the teens have done their morning chores, Scott and I are back home after our walk (we call it our daily staff meeting), and I grab a yogurt and Scott makes a cup of coffee and we drift to our separate computers to eat/drink/read.

9am sharp—Scott starts work, back in the boys’ bedroom, which doubles as his office during the day. Rilla will likely spend the next hour puttering through her morning chores, which are few and simple but easily interruptible, it seems. Huck is dressed and running around. Mostly he’s counting down the minutes until 9:30, when (after two rounds of breakfast) he gets a snack. Rose and Bean join me in the living room for our lesson time. Now, the sequence of the next 3 hours varies day by day, but here was today’s. 9:00, we started with Poetry. First Poetry 180, two poems today because after we’d read Roethke’s “The Bat” they saw what came next and remembered especially liking that one when we did a chunk of this series with Jane, a couple of years ago: Tom Wayman’s “Did I Miss Anything.” Then John Donne, Meditation XVII (No man is an island…), in our continuing exploration of the metaphysical poets.

9:30? more or less?—Story of Science, the Newton chapters continued. I read aloud, we discuss. 1666, “The Year of Wonders” (Dryden’s Annus Mirabilis designation for the year of the Great Fire, which later came to be applied by scientists to that same year when Newton developed his theory of gravitation, oh and invented calculus, oh and figured out about color and light—that little old year), is a perfect choice for one of our history cards. Have I talked about this here, or only on Facebook? It’s pretty much the most successful idea I’ve ever had, history-wise. We used to keep a giant timeline on one wall, but in this house there’s no perfect spot for it; it was up too high; we never added anything new. A couple of months (?) ago, on a whim, I grabbed index cards and started writing down events or people we’d been reading about, in all our various books. Science stuff, history, literature, music, art, anything I could think of that we’d recently discussed. Person or event on the front, the year on the back. We have had such fun with these cards! Once or twice a week we play a game with them—Rose likes the competition—where I hold up a card and the girls take turns calling out the date and arranging them in sequence. We’ve all nailed down a great many dates that were quite fuzzy even for me before. My original goal was simply to have them be able to identify events in rough sequence, and there were only a few major dates I said they had to absolutely memorize. But the game has hammered  nearly all the dates into our heads, mine included. And the cards themselves provide an excellent record of what we’ve studied, and how the different eras we’ve read about this year (19th century American history, Renaissance science, Elizabethan literature) fit together. We’ll be able to keep on adding to the stack: a game without end. Rose was pretty lukewarm on history before, and now she says she wants to minor in it at college.

Anyway, no cards today, I just got onto the subject because we remarked upon 1666 as an important year to make a card for.

All right, so now it’s around 10am, I think?—or a little before? I think next we did math. Beanie watched a MUS video and since Rose didn’t remember that bit, she watched too. By now Rilla and Huck are outside playing, having consumed their snack. Rose likes me to go over the new lessons with her, so we did that. She’s only got two more in this book (geometry), hurrah! (We made cards for geometry last week, too, since she has found them so useful for history. Wrote out all the postulates and properties, with matching cards containing examples. And one very cool thing was that after she’d spread them all out and matched them up, we realized she’d just done all of geometry right there. I mean, all of it that’s covered in this book. The last few lessons are a preview of trig. It was gratifying for her to see the scope of her accomplishment.)

Beanie didn’t need help with her math, so once Rose got on to working her problems, I went out to mow the front lawn. Beanie finished and practiced piano.

10:30—Rilla and Huck went in to get their half-hour on the iPad. I usually reserve this for when I’m reading with the older girls, but today I was still finishing the yard. Rose finished math and did some Memrise.

11am—littles are off iPad, back to playing. Rose downloaded a metronome she needs for a song she’s learning in 5/4 time, but I don’t think she had much time to practice before I called her for the next thing. (She plays for a good bit most afternoons while I’m working, though.) Beanie did 15 minutes of freewriting while I read through a lesson with Rose in an essay-writing book we’re going through. Then Rose went to do the exercise for that chapter while I looked over Beanie’s freewrite.

11:30.—Latin with all three girls. We’ve been using a different book for new vocab but right now we’re using the rather old Latin Book One for some real reading and translation practice. We’re all really enjoying this.

12pm.—Lunch. Huck begged to watch Ponyo. Generally we don’t do any TV or videos at this time of day, but he’s been on a real Ponyo kick lately and was still getting over that cold, so I said yes. He ate his lunch and then fell asleep on the couch, watching the movie. I sat on the front stoop with Rilla, doing a subtraction lesson. Then she went in to eat, and Rose was eating, and Beanie had already finished. Bean and I went into the backyard and dug out a dead plant, and talked about Romeo and Juliet, which she was about to begin reading.

12:30ish?—Somewhere in there, I ate my own lunch. Then Rose and I started Gulliver’s Travels. I gave a bit of background and we read the first chunk together. She’ll continue on her own, but she really likes doing things in tandem. Beanie was reading R&J by this time, and Rilla was doing magical Rilla things.

1:15pm—Rilla’s turn. She was itching to garden, because Mary Lennox. We weeded the front-yard flowerbed and found a snail. After about a half hour, we were both hot and thirsty. Went in for a drink and then read two chapters. Met Dickon! The roses are wick!

2:30—time to pick up Wonderboy. Rilla walked with me, Huck was just waking up. Got home, unpacked, Beanie was doing her afternoon tidy and Rose had the dishes ready. I wash, she rinses. Wonderboy and I chatted, and then he turned on Word Girl.

3pm—Scott came out, and it was time for me to go to work.

Things unusual about this day:

• the Ponyo viewing and Huck’s nap, which meant I didn’t read to him at all!

• gardening with Rilla and reading an extra chapter of Secret Garden meant I didn’t do any of my own reading, which I usually try to squeeze in during the last half hour before Wonderboy gets home. But then I never read as much in spring, do I?

• Most mornings, Rilla sets up camp at the kitchen table with all her drawing supplies while I’m reading to her sisters. She absorbs quite a lot of history and lit that way. :) But today she was very busy with Huck all morning.

• No German for Beanie, and barely any piano time for Rose. Usually Rose is pounding away every time I turn around. She likes short bursts of practice throughout the day, whereas Beanie will sit down for one long concentrated session.

I imagine any day I picked for this exercise would have about the same number of (totally different) “things that are different about this day.” An orthodontist appointment, a Journey North meeting, a muddy little boy in need of a bath.

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17. The Girl with a Brave Heart: A Tale from Tehran, by Rita Jahanforuz | Book Review

Set in Tehran, Iran, this quite original tale is a reminder that story themes are universal. At times it has the feel of Cinderella with a cultural twist. Other times, it is reminiscent of Charles Perrault’s tale of the kindly sister and the bad-tempered sister, whose deeds have different outcomes.

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18. The Mark of the Dragonfly, by Jaleigh Johnson | Book Giveaway

Enter to win a copy of The Mark of the Dragonfly, written by Jaleigh Johnson. Giveaway begins March 29, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends April 28, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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19. Molly Takes Flight by Valerie Tripp, illustrated by Nick Backes

Ever since the war began, Molly has been having a hard time dealing with all the changes it brought in her family.  Her dad is still in Europe with the army, her mom is busy with her Red Cross work, Jill has been volunteering at the Veteran's Hospital, even Ricky has a job mowing lawns in the neighborhood and younger brother Brad is off to camp every day.

Now, it is August and Molly is visiting her grandparents farm by herself for the first time.  Now, here with grandpa, grammy and the familiar smells of her grandmother's kitchen, it feels more like old times to Molly.  Until she realizes that her favorite Aunt Eleanor isn't there and when she asked where she is, Molly is told she is away, "as usual" according to grandpa.

But when Molly and grandpa return to the house after picking a melon from the garden, Aunt Eleanor is home.  Still, Molly's excitement that she will be able to do the same things with Aunt Eleanor this year that they have always done together on the farm quickly turns to disappointment when she is told that her aunt won't be home the next day.

Later that night, while stargazing, Aunt Eleanor tells Molly she has applied to join the WASPS, or Women Airforce Service Pilots, and that, if accepted, she will be testing and transporting planes for the Air Force, and even helping to train pilots.  Molly is not quite as happy about this as Aunt Eleanor would have liked.

Aunt Eleanor leaves early every morning, returning home at suppertime.  Molly spends the next few days alone, feeling lonely without her family at the farm,  angry at the war and now angry at her aunt, and maybe even a little jealous that she wants to spend Molly visit flying instead of with her.  Then, one night, Aunt Eleanor doesn't get home until Molly is already in bed.  When she goes in to see if Molly is awake, Molly's anger gets the best of her and she snaps at her aunt, accusing her of not caring about anything anymore, except flying.

The next morning, Aunt Eleanor wakes Molly up very early and tells her to get dressed.  In the car, when Molly asks where they are going, all she is told is that she'll see.  Arriving at the airfield, Molly and Aunt Eleanor walk over to the plane her aunt has been practicing with.  To her surprise, Molly is handed a helmet, told to put it one and the next thing she knows, she and Aunt Eleanor are flying over grandpa's farm.


Can Molly and Aunt Eleanor be reconciled, now that Molly has had a taste of the exhilaration that flying gives her aunt?

Molly Takes Flight is actually a very small book (just 47 pages), one of five separate short stories that were originally published by the Pleasant Company in 1998 about Molly McIntire, an American girl growing up in WWII (the stories has since been combined into a single book, one for each historical doll).

Written by Valerie Tripp, and illustrated by Nick Backes, who have done a number of the original American Girl stories together, Molly Takes Flight is a well written, well researched short story.   It follows the same format that all the stories about the American Girl historical dolls have - a story followed by several pages giving information about the main theme - in the case the WASP program begun in 1942 and organized by Jacqueline Cochran.

Stars also play an important part in this story.  Molly looks at the North Star each night, just as her dad told her to, and thinks about him.  And she and her aunt star gaze whenever Molly visits the farm.  At the end of Molly Takes Flight, there is a simple, but fun craft project for making a star gazer out of a round oatmeal container.

This copy of Molly Takes Flight is my Kiddo's original one, and it doesn't feel like that long ago we were reading it together, but now I have it put away with her Molly doll and her other American Girl books for the next generation, whenever that happens.  And even though Molly has been retired, her books are still available.

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was purchased for my Kiddo's personal library

0 Comments on Molly Takes Flight by Valerie Tripp, illustrated by Nick Backes as of 3/24/2014 12:09:00 PM
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20. In Praise of the Mom-Traffic Controller

Yesterday was one of those days. It is beyond my man-sized mind how everything fit together. I had nothing to do with its success or organization. But like a giant fuel-guzzling puzzle, the last piece set in perfectly about nine o’clock. Until then, my family ranged in different directions all across the metro area. The amazing thing is that the MTC (Mom-Traffic Controller) was absent for a good portion of it.

I had business on the other side of the city that kept me away until most of the flights were filed and done. If you know Atlanta traffic, you know that being on the other side of it on a weekday means that, while only thirty miles away, I may as well have been in Guatemala in case of an emergency. Sometimes, there is just no getting home. But the MTC needed me not.

flights

The Grandaddy taxi (my kids’ favorite ride because it often stops for a milkshake) had a few trips, she called in a favor from another middle-school parent, my nephew’s girlfriend made a pick-up, and I think there were two dog sleds and a rickshaw involved. Of course, this day involved multiple after school activities for every child that required extra commutes. Here is where I think the MTC was just showing off – she drove an hour north of the city on a college visit and took the only other driver of the house with her. So she wasn’t even around to oversee her masterpiece!

Through some mystery of mother magic, everything worked out. I counted two children when I got home and the other two trudged through the door soon after. They looked haggard but familiar, so I’m fairly certain they are mine.

Men, lest you think you could handle this task, let me recount for you my experience on Saturday (Car Day). I had one assigned job, ONE: pick up dancer daughter at 12:30. The brakes took a little longer than expected, but I finished and went inside to wipe the grime off of my fingertips so I could handle food. While at the sink, my phone lit up with a missed text. Instantly, I had that “Oh Crap!” moment when I saw the digital readout. You guessed it, 12:40. I forgot my one job, along with my daughter who sat waiting twenty minutes away. The forgotten child’s next text went to the MTC, who was at a play. I had planned to bribe my daughter’s silence with ice cream. But on the frantic trip to get her, I received from the MTC saying, “Nice job, Dad.” Exposed.

 

So, all hail the MTC! I don’t know where you received your degree in family flight management, but the entire (and somehow intact) family is glad you have it!


10 Comments on In Praise of the Mom-Traffic Controller, last added: 3/25/2014
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21. Billy and the Monsters Who Ate All the Easter Eggs Giveaway

Today, I’d like to share with you the chance to win a signed copy of the Amazon Best-seller ‘Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs’ by British Author David Chuka who is a friend of mine.Billy and the Monster who Ate All the Easter Eggs

With Easter around the corner, this book will be a welcome addition to your loved ones library.

This is the third book in the Billy and Monster series and it has gotten about 48 glowing reviews on the Amazon website.

Before I reveal how you can enter to win a signed copy, let’s find out what happens with Billy and Monster in this Easter edition.

Billy and Monster love all the holidays as they get to spend quality time together. However, their best holiday is Easter as they get to eat their favorite food…CHOCOLATE!

This year, they’re spending Easter with Grandma Chocalicious who loves Chocolate even more than Billy. She’s an expert at making chocolate cake, chocolate waffles and even chocolate pasta.

This year Grandma Chocalicious has made a pyramid of Easter eggs for her party on Easter Sunday. Billy and Monster want one of the Easter eggs but Grandma says they have to wait till Easter Sunday.

What happens when Billy and Monster tip toe downstairs and the pyramid of Easter eggs comes falling down?

For a chance to find out what happens simply click the link below and you could very well have your signed copy just in time for Easter.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs by David Chuka

Billy and the Monster Who Ate All the Easter Eggs

by David Chuka

Giveaway ends April 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


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22. #522 – Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome by Bill Harley

charlie bumpers nice gnome.

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome

by Bill Harley & Adam Gustavson, illustrator

Peachtree Publishers     3/01/2014

978-1-56145-740-3

Age 7 to 10   167 pages

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“Charlie Bumpers has his heart set on playing the role of the evil Sorcerer in the fourth grade play. He’s even got the laugh down pat: Mwa-ha-ha-ha! But his dreams of villainous stardom go up in smoke when he finds out that Mrs. Burke has cast him as the Nice Gnome! Determined to rectify this terrible injustice, Charlie concocts one plan after another, but nothing seems to work.

“To make matters worse, his dad has assigned chores to all the kids in the family and Charlie’s job is walking Ginger – the diggiest, sniffiest, and poopiest dog in the universe. Can Charlie deal with these challenges without causing havoc all around him?”

Opening

“Are you ready, thespians?” Mrs. Burke asked. “Are your desks cleared?”

The Story

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome is the second book in this early reader series. The first was Charlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year, who happened to be Mrs. Burke. This time around Mrs. Burke’s Empire—her term—will be acting out a play for parents and others . . . at night! Since Mrs. aaa use2Burke read The Sorcerer’s Castle t the class, Charlie has been set on playing Kragon, the evil sorcerer. Kragon has the best line in the whole play.

“You horrible people! My plans are ruined! My dreams are ruined! I am ruined!”

Mrs. Burke handed out the scripts. At the top was your role. Charlie couldn’t believe his eyes. Mrs. Burke gave him the role of The Nice Gnome. Charlie would rather be on the stage crew and move sets around than be The Nice Gnome. The problem, as Charlie saw it, The Nice Gnome was ridiculously nice and Charlie does not want to be a nice guy. He did not want anyone laughing at him. He had to get out of this role.

Review

Charlie has a dilemma. Playing The Nice Gnome in Mrs. Burke’s fourth grade class play would be horrible. He tries to ask for a new part. Charlie even tries rewriting his role. Just as in book one, Charlie must somehow make it through Mrs. Burke. Last time he was afraid she would remember the shoe that almost hit her. Now, he must face her about a terrible part. Mrs. Burke is the perfect character to deal with Charlie’s angst. She is stern, maybe a little too s21tern, but tempers this with kindness that the kids rarely see. Mrs. Burke is a good teacher and a good role model. She also reminds me of most every elementary teacher I ever had. Except for maybe her exploding fingers that get everyone’s immediate attention.

Charlie also has some aggravation at home. Charlie thinks it is unfair that his job means walking Ginger first thing after school, while older brother Matt can read a video game magazine. Little sister Mabel—AKA Squid—wants to walk Ginger but is too young and unable to control the dog. Matt refuses to help or switch jobs with Charlie, but he does make a point of reminding him to walk the dog. The three siblings are realistic in their attitudes toward one another. They pick on and at each other, but run to the rescue if someone else picks on them.

The actual play is the best part of the story, as it should be. At times silly and then hilarious, Charlie comaaa use doges to an understanding about The Nice Gnome and Mrs. Burke. Charlie’s part has him on stage as Samantha Grunsky’s helper. Samantha is bossy and a know-it-all, and she sits in the chair behind Charlie. Charlie’s best friend, Tommy, has the other fourth grade teacher.

I enjoyed Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome. The story is a fast read, due mainly to my refusing to stop turning pages. Getting to the play was worth the wait. Kids will enjoy Charlie and will be able to identify with him. Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome has several scenes kids will find hilarious such as Charlie dealing with a neighbor woman whose lawn Ginger prefers to use for “his business.” The illustrations wonderfully capture Charlie’s fourth grade frustrations. Included are the first six pages to the next book in the series: Charlie Bumpers vs. the Squeaking Skull.

.Learn more about Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome HERE.

Buy Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome orCharlie Bumpers vs. The Teacher of the Year at AmazonB&NPeachtreeyour local bookstore.

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Meet the author, Bill Harley at his website:  http://www.billharley.com/

Meet the illustrator, Adam Gustavson at his website:   http://www.adamgustavson.com/

Find other early readers at the Peachtree Publisher website:   http://peachtree-online.com/

CHARLIE BUMPERS VS. THE REALLY NICE GNOME. Text copyright © 2014 by Bill Harley. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Adam Gustavson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Peachtree Publishers, Atlanta, GA.

COMING FALL 2014
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charlie bumpers nice gnome

 Peachtree Publisher’s Book Blog Tour

Charlie Bumpers vs. the Really Nice Gnome

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Monday, 3/24 

Sally’s Bookshelf

Tuesday, 3/25

 The World of Peachtree Publishers
Wednesday, 3/26 

Shelf Media Group
Thursday, 3/27

 Kid Lit Reviews     YOU ARE HERE!
Friday, 3/28 

Geo Librarian


Filed under: 5stars, Books for Boys, Early Reader, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Series Tagged: Adam Gustavson, Bill Harley, children's book reviews, family, Fourth grade, gnomes, Peachtree Publishers, relationships, school plays

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23. 7 Things You Don't Know About Micol Ostow

http://www.micolostow.com/

7 Things You Don't Know about readergirlz diva Micol Ostow
1. I've been an avid horror reader my whole life, but it took 30 books under my belt (including ghostwriting gigs) before I was ready to try a scary story of my own. That book, Amity, releases this August! (Pre-order your copy now!)

2. I have a French Bulldog named Bridget Jones -- after the book, not the movie! You'd be surprised how many people totally forget that the book came first! Grr.

3. I can sing along to all of the songs from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical episode. By heart. No judgements, thanks.

4. I got my start in kidlit writing as an editor. The very first book I edited on my own was celebrity bio of Jim Carrey.

5. I recently sold a chapter book series called LOUISE TRAPEZE to Random House. The only thing more terrifying than writing horror will be trying to conquer the 5-7 year-old market!

6. The house I live in in Brooklyn is over 100 years old and thus the floors are all slanted. My daughter will grow up with no true concept of physics or gravity.

7. I ran the NYC marathon in 2003 (26.2 miles). These days, a typical run for me is 3 miles or so. And when I'm not running, I am the most sedentary creature around. Just one of the reasons I love reading so much!

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24. Across a War-Tossed Sea by L.M. Elliott

It's September 1943 near Richmond, Virginia and Bishop brothers, Wesley, 10, and Charles, 14, have been living with the Ratcliff family for over three years now, after being evacuated from war-torn London.  And there is nothing Charles, called Chuck by his American family, would like more than to return home and do his bit for the war, but his parents still refuse to let him.  Besides, Wesley still has frequent nightmares about firebombs hitting their home during the Blitz and about the possibility of being torpedoed by Nazi submarines while crossing the U-boat infested waters of the Atlantic and Charles feels responsible for taking care of him when they happen.

The Ratcliffs are a large farming family.  Patsy, the only girl, is 16 and has a boyfriend named Henry flying missions overseas, next is Bobby, 15, who has become a great pal of Chuck's, followed by Ron, 12, Wesley's real nightmare, and lastly are the twins, Jamie and Johnny, 7.  The war is a constant presence in this novel, making it truly a home front story.

Life isn't always easy for the Bishop brothers.  Ron has always jumped at every opportunity to bully Wesley.  So when Wes ends up skipping two grades and, much to Ron's annoyance, lands in his 7th grade class, the bullying only intensifies.  Charles, who has become quite muscular from farm work, has made it onto the football team along with Bobby.  Everyone must help out on the farm and the work is long and difficult, because of a dWes has a fascination for Native Americans that he has read about and longs to meet one, but when he does, much to his surprise, Mr. Johns is nothing like what he expected.  Wes also befriends a young African American boy, and learns first hand about segregation and prejudice.

And Chuck must come to terms with his feelings about the German POWs that are brought into the area and used to help on the farms, and, ultimately, on the Ratcliff farm as well.  The more he sees them, the angrier he becomes and the more he wants to go home and help.  Chuck is also dealing with a crush he has on Patsy, which is especially hard on him, since he knows that her heart belongs to someone doing just what he wishes he could do.

Across a War-Tossed Sea follows the Bishop boys and the Ratcliff family through the year up to and a little beyond the D-Day invasion at Normandy, France in June 1944.  It is a nice home front book that gives a good idea of what life was like for people in the United States, interspersed with letters exchanged between the boys and their parents, giving the reader a good picture of life in England under siege.  In fact, this is really like a series of vignettes all connected to each other.

Given all the things that happened in this novel, I thought it was odd that after living with the Ratcliffs for over three years, the boys would feel like new arrivals and make the kind of mistakes that would most likely happen in their first year.  But that didn't diminish my feelings about the story.

I thought Across a War-Tossed Sea was an exciting, interesting, thought provoking novel documenting life on the home front and the adjustments that had to be made by everyone during World War II.  At the end of the book, there is a very informative Afterword giving a short recap of what was going on in Europe, the evacuation of children overseas that sometimes ended in tragedy and further explaining many of the things referred to in the novel, such as U-boats, V-bombs and secret air bases (a particularly amusing part of the novel, even though it involves a runaway German POW).

Across a War-Tossed Sea is a companion book to Across a War-Torn Sky, which follows what happens to Patsy Ratcliff's boyfriend, Henry Forester, after he is shot down over France on a flying mission for the Air Force.  And, bringing things full circle, they are both companion pieces to A Troubled Peace, and the end of the war.  Luckily, I have not read the two companion books yet, so I have them to look forward to.

This book is recommended for readers age 10+
This book was an eARC received from Net Galley

Across a War-Tossed Sea will be available on April 1, 2014, meantime have a look at this very nicely done trailer:

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25. Grandpa Nick and his Accordion – half tone screen print

Nick playing accordion ©Sparky FirepantsIt’s sometime in the 1940s. A guy plays an accordion in the yard of a Chicago brick walkup. Chin up, with a cocky grin on his face, a cigarette dangles from his lip. He’s hamming it up for the camera, you can see he loves the attention.

This is my Grandpa Nick.

Sifting through old photos today, this one jumped out at me for all the reasons above. It was so iconic, I decided to make a halftone print. Sometimes we don’t choose what the art will be, it chooses us.

©Sparky Firepants Nick screen

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