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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: family, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 1,807
1. When aging policies can’t keep up with aging families

The very look and feel of families today is undergoing profound changes. Are public policies keeping up with the shifting definitions of “family”? Moreover, as the population ages within these new family dynamics, how will families give or receive elder care? Below, we highlight just a few social changes that are affecting the experiences of aging families.

The post When aging policies can’t keep up with aging families appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. #776 – Bear and Bunny by Daniel Pinkwater & Will Hillenbrand

This month is Picture Book Month for those who love picture books, and Picture Book Idea Month if you are on the writing or illustrating end of picture books. Continuing with that theme is a wonderful, heartfelt picture book by Daniel Pinkwater and Will Hillenbrand. Bear and Bunny Written by Daniel Pinkwater Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand …

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3. Themed art - Family

Two sisters and a step-sister, from a retelling of Cinderella published in Japan in 1994 by Hikari no Kuni.

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4. Soon (Book #5 in the Felix and Zelda family of books) by Morris Gleitzman

It's 1945 and the war is over but not the danger.  Felix, now 13, and Gabriek are hiding out in a relatively safe albeit rather wrecked building, and have one simple rule - Stay quiet and out of sight.  There are roving bands of men wearing badges that say Poland for the Poles and never hesitate to shoot anyone who is Polish, and that includes Felix, who is Polish, but he's also Jewish.

The war was hard on Gabriek and Felix who lost quite a few people they loved very much, and now Gabriek spends most of his time sleeping off the cabbage vodka he makes in his still, when not doing repair work to get food for the two of them.

Felix, who wants to become a doctor, goes how on the streets with his "medical bag" and the skills he learned from Doctor Zajak, when he and Gabriek joined the partisans before the war ended.  While out looking for people to help, Felix runs into two people - Anya, a mysterious girl wearing a filthy pink coat and carrying a gun, and Dimmi, who threatens the lives of Felix and Gabriek because the lock they fixed for him has broken.

Felix isn't out on the street long before he is kidnapped by the Poland for the Poles thugs who require his "medical services."  Luckily, Felix escapes and back on the street, a woman throws her baby to him just before she is shot to death.  Felix is immediately smitten by the baby and brings him home to an unhappy Gabriek.  

It turns out that Anya is living in an orphanage with other kids under the care of Dr. Lipzyk, who invites Felix to visit his medical library anytime he wants to.  But things happen that make Felix uncomfortable about the doctor.  First, nothing seems to be done about Anya constant vomiting, then, Felix makes a deal with Anya for an endless supply of powdered milk and other baby needs for Pavlo (yes, Felix and Gabriek name the baby a nice Ukrainian name, since his mother was from the Ukraine), and lastly, the doctor cold attitude toward him when he sees Felix without pants on.

In the post-war danger and chaos in Poland, where hate and bigotry still seem to rule the day, will Felix be able to retain his hopeful spirit that the world will someday be a safe and happy place?
I wasn't expecting a 5th book and I may have jumped the gun a little in my need to find out more about Felix's experiences during World War II when I ordered it from The Book Depository.  It's out in Australia, New Zealand and Britain, but I don't know when or if it will be published in the US.  But is is do worth reading, even though I didn't get any sense of closure when I finished it - but perhaps that is as it should.

Soon is an action packed novel, partly because Felix is able to go out among people in a way that he hasn't been about to for a long, long time.  And amazingly, Gleitzman has managed to keep Felix a consistent character in Once, Then, After, and now Soon even as he matures, and despite some of the horrific things he has witnessed (I don't count Now because it is about Felix at 80 year old and not told from his point of view).  Felix is a character who seems to understand human behavior instinctively even if he does still read some behaviors incorrectly at first, but that is just because he is an optimist.  And readers can't help but care about what happens to him.

Soon can be read as a stand alone book, but it would be a much richer experience if readers at least read the first three books.  And like all of the Felix and Zelda family of books there is violence, but not sex or bad language.

Once again, Gleitzman has explored themes of family and friendship in the worst of times and written a powerful, appealing novel and now I would really like to know what happens to Felix next, but I have a feeling it's not going to happen this time.

You can read an except of Soon on Morris Gleitzman's website HERE

This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was purchased for my personal library

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5. Meow says mother cat and her little kittens four.

November's theme is FAMILY, so here's my illustrated spread showing the cat family. This is for Over on the Farm which will feature ten animal families living on the farm. It comes out spring 2016, is written by Marianne Berkes, illustrated by me and published by Dawn Publications.

Thanks for taking a look and Happy November!

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6. Animal Families

This month's themed art is Family.  I thought I'd share some animal moms and their families.

Momma Bear soothes Baby Bear.
written and illustrated by Shennen Bersani.

Mother elephant sleeps with her baby.
written by Linda Stanek, illustrated by Shennen Bersani.

A mother garter protects her young.
written by Jerry Pallotta and Van Wallach
illustrated by Shennen Bersani.

A zebra shark and her children.
written by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Shennen Bersani.

And finally, as bats prepare to hibernate…
written by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Shennen Bersani.

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7. Family Holiday

I created this illustration years ago to reflect the "new look" of traditional family gatherings.
Inspiration from a classic Rockwell painting helped get the message across.

Steven James Petruccio
Acrylic on Paper

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There’s this book I wrote a while back, something I started in 2001 and officially set aside three years ago. It’s called CAN’T BREAK US and is loosely based on my mother’s girlhood club. The manuscript is something I love to pieces, but after years and years of work just wasn’t coming together. It was my second attempt at a novel, the one that served its purpose in teaching me to write (of course, I still have a lot to learn). I figured we’d reached our end together (the manuscript and I. Book are friends, you know).

Little Nippers

In the summer of 2013, author/editor/teacher Mike Winchell asked if I might be interested in contributing two pieces of writing — one non-fiction, one fiction — for an anthology proposal. The idea was to show students how authors can take ideas from real life and turn them into a story. My mind went immediately to CAN’T BREAK US, which initially grew from the stories my mother told me in my childhood. Using my author’s note as a starting place, I created my non-fiction piece. Then I pulled out a pivotal chapter, re-wrote it as verse, and sent it in.

The anthology sold to Penguin in a two-book deal:

“BEEN THERE, DONE THAT [is] a thematic anthology series with a kid-friendly Common Core tie in, in which a who’s who of award-winning and bestselling MG/YA authors will share a nonfiction narrative, and then write a related short story in order to show the “from-life-to-page” process of taking real-life experiences and transforming them into works of fiction.”

Been There, Done That cover (1)

I’m honored a portion of this manuscript will live again in an entirely different form. I’m thrilled to be included alongside so many talented people. And I love that my mother’s club, The Little Nippers, will finally, finally be introduced to the world at large.

Because what young person hasn’t dreamed of a little pocket of the world where the kids are in charge?

Here’s a video about the background of my story “Lemon Squeeze.” You can click through to the Been There, Done That website and find similar items from the other authors in the “teaching materials” section.

Today across Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, the Been There, Done That authors will use the hashtag #BeenThere to share one-line glimpses into the real-life event that inspired their work. We’d love if others might respond with their own #BeenThere moments!

The post BEEN THERE, DONE THAT Release Day! appeared first on Caroline Starr Rose.

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9. The Fox and the Snowman Book Blast through November 4th – $100 GC or Paypal cash giveaway

Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for our new picture book,”The Fox and the Snowman” (November 2 to 4, 2015).

The Fox and the Snowman

About the Book

Title: The Fox and the Snowman | Author: Angela Muse | Illustrator: Helen Wu | Publication Date: October 5, 2015 | Publisher: 4EYESBOOKS | Pages: 28 | Recommended Ages: 0 to 8

Summary: This is a story of a lone fox and his journey through a year of changing seasons. He discovers friendship and family in this colorful winter tale.

Also check out Lil Glimmer, The Nutt Family: An Acorny Adventure, The Pig Princess, The Bee Bully, Eager Eaglets: Birds of Play, Cactus Charlie, Suzy Snowflake, Monsters Have Mommies, The Christmas Owl, The Cat Who Lost His Meow, Caterpillar Shoes & Ten Thankful Turkeys by this author.

Grab a copy of the ebook, available for a limited time at the introductory price of 99 cents! (REG $2.99)

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo

iBooks * Createspace * Goodreads

About the Author: Angela Muse

Angela MuseAngela Muse was born in California to a military family. This meant that she got used to being the “new kid” in school every couple of years. It was hard trying to make new friends, but Angela discovered she had a knack for writing. In high school Angela began writing poetry and song lyrics. Expressing herself through writing seemed very natural. After becoming a Mom in 2003, Angela continued her storytelling to her own children. In 2009 she wrote and published her first rhyming children’s book aimed at toddlers. Since then she has released several more children’s picture books and released her first young adult romance series, The Alpha Girls.

Angela’s husband, Ben Muse writes suspense/thriller books that can also be found on Amazon.

Check out what else she’s working on by visiting www.4eyesbooks.com

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

** Book Blast Giveaway **

Prize: One winner will receive a $100 Amazon gift card or $100 PayPal cash prize, winner’s choice

Giveaway ends: November 15, 11:59 pm, 2015

Open to: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the author, Angela Muse and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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Copyright © 2015 Mother Daughter Book Reviews, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up to receive the HTML from all of the Book Blasts hosted by MDBR in the Fall, 2015.

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10. #762 – My Wild Family by Laurent Moreau

My Wild Family Written and Illustrated by Laurent Moreau Chronicle Books   11/03/2015 978-1-4521-4423-8 32 pages     Age 4—8 “Sometimes there is more to family than meets the eye . . . An older brother is strong and respected, just like an elephant. A mother is stately and beautiful, but she prefers not to …

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11. #761 – Goodnight Hockey by Michael Dahl and Christina Forshay

Goodnight Hockey (Sports Illustrated Kids) Written by Michael Dahl Illustrated by Christina E. Forshay Capstone Young Readers     8/01/2015 978-1-62370-298-4 32 pages     age 4—8 “From the first puck drop to the final buzzer, Goodnight Hockey will have every hockey fan cheering. Rhyming text and energetic art perfectly capture the excitement and thrill of …

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12. all you need is love....

doesn't matter what shape, size and/or color.

this piece was a commission from a friend of mine whose daughter i taught a few years back. a bot more about their story here.

it's always a cherished moment when someone calls upon me for a custom painting. it's an even bigger treasure when it's a friend. this piece was truly a pleasure to create. 

i am offering a LIMITED amount of prints which can be found here.

onto another commission...:)

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13. #759 – That’s (Not) Mine by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant

That’s Not Mine Written by Anna Kang Illustrated by Christopher Weyant Two Lions     9/01/2015 978-1-4778-2639-3 32 pages      Age 4—8 “Two fuzzy creatures both want to sit in the same chair. The trouble is, they can’t agree who it belongs to. “Mine. “Mine. “They get madder and madder, until . . . …

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14. One Book. Two Perspectives. My Diary from the Edge of the World, by Jodi Lynn Anderson

 Oh, twitter.  Sometimes you are a wonderful thing!  Last July I was at my daughters' swim lesson reading away, and I shared a shot of the book I was reading online.  Barbara, it turns out, was reading the same book and we began somewhat of a back and forth as you are want to do when you find out someone besides yourself is smitten.  We decided we would co-blog closer to the publishing date, and here are our thoughts!

Barbara:  Gracie Lockwood's voice immediately drew me into the story. She keeps a careful record of the family's journey in a diary, a gift from her mother. It is lovingly inscribed with these words, To Gracie, May this diary be big enough to contain your restless heart.  Gracie is a girl with strong opinions, stating from the outset that her purpose in keeping a written record is to "prove that I knew it first." Her friend Oliver's observation, "You're kind of fiery" is an understatement. In addition to Gracie's fire, readers witness her gradually evolving realization that the world is much more complex than she initially imagined it to be.  She begins to temper her original strong judgments. "I've realized I may have been completely wrong about my dad."  "I wondered about the word 'beast.' I wondered if sometimes, the way everything looks - who's the beast and who isn't - depends on where you're standing."  I love this statement of self-realization:  "Every year I realize how dumb I was the year before." 

One of this book’s striking aspects is the comparisons I made to Homer’s The Odyssey.  The book’s 416 pages is itself a reading odyssey.  It requires an investment of time, attention to storyline, and a commitment to the characters. Reading Gracie's diary becomes a personal journey for the reader.

The travelogue aspect is certainly an integral part of this family's epic saga. We follow Gracie and her family on an extended journey to known and unknown places, several described in vivid detail. The mode of travel is symbolic. The family first travels via Winnebago, a name reflecting a Native American Tribe who excel in oral storytelling. Later they board the Weeping Alexa.  Alexa is a reference to Alexander the Great, the “protector”. These modes of transportation give added meaning to the family’s quest. 

​The major characters read like the cast from a Greek drama.
We meet good guys, bad guys, both real and mythical. Sea monsters and mermaids inhabit the waters. Dragons and unicorns take flight through the skies. 
Homer’s motifs take the form of the individuals the family encounters on their journey:  an oracle (Grandma), sirens (Luck City), Penelope’s suitors (Captain Bill).
Not since the Coen brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou? have I encountered such an imaginative homage to Homer’s epic classic.

Without question, the theme which resonated with me and continues to haunt my thinking is the concept of fate. This also reflects the Greek concept of The Fates: goddesses who controlled the life of every mortal from birth to death and watched that the fate assigned to every being proceeded without obstruction.

Stacy: I read quite a few books.  Especially during the summer when I am fortunate enough to be lakeside and poolside depending on the day. So it’s not everyday that a story really makes me sit up and notice it. In the first few pages of MDFTEOTW I found myself looking up from the pages and grinning.  Reading bits aloud.  And then tweeting this to my friend Barbara -

@moonb2 thanks for the spotlight on this book, Barbara. I'm only on page 7 and I'm already delighted!”

By page 7 we know this: Cliffden Maine isn’t the Maine that we know in 2015. It is a Maine where there are the expected things like McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Wendy’s, schools and houses. But people in town are scuttering around because the dragons are on their way to hibernate and they’ve been quite destructive this year. Protagonist Gracie is out at her favorite spot (where she’s not supposed to be) on top of the hill overlooking town and writing in the journal her mom gave her for her 12th birthday.  

Dragons aren’t the only odd things in the sky in Maine. There are also Dark Clouds. These are not the storm clouds we know that release the likes of lightning and rain. Rather they come to town and take away the people who are meant to die.  And now a Dark Cloud is settling right in Gracie’s yard.  Gracie is worried about her little brother Sam, who is often ill.  Complicating family matters is the fact that Gracie’s dad’s crackpot theories about the Extraordinary World have just ousted him from his job.  So when Gracie comes home one day to see a Winnebago in the front yard, she’s not too surprised that her dad means to pack up her mom, sister, brother and Gracie and head out of town.

Obviously this is a story about a journey, but it wasn’t until I had back channeled a bunch with Barbara that I could see the Odyssey’s tracks.  For me, the Lockwood family was running from crisis and desperately grasping at possibility.

Gracie truly makes this books shine. Whether it’s seeing her witchy grandmother’s house through her eyes, feeling her affections for Sam, seeing her longing to have a relationship with older sister Millie, or having those moments of embarrassment followed by yearning to believe in her father, if Gracie’s voice was less Gracie, the story wouldn’t work half as well.

The other high point for me was Anderson’s world building. The magical mixing with the mundane is presented so matter of fact, that readers simply have to buy it.  The journey has them landing in places like Luck City, Big Tex’s Circus, The Crow’s Nest, a broken down L.A. and even Cliffden itself and of the places contain different magic, but the magic follows the same rules. 

And then there’s the idea of hope. Inextricable hope tangled up with fate. Which one rules the day?

What a pleasure it was to virtually read My Diary from the Edge of the World with Barbara across geography and time.  Clearly, both Barbara and I love this book, and though we both approached it differently, it worked for us.  I can’t wait to share this with a big cross section of readers. It works on so many levels that I am sure it will be a crowd pleaser!


A big note of thanks to Barbara Moon for co-blogging with me this time.  Barbara is a retired librarian who reads up a storm! Member of 2009-2011 Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee, 2012 Odyssey Award committee, 2014 Margaret A. Edwards Award committee. Currently servicing on the 2016 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award committee. You can find Barbara blogging at Reading Style

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15. #757 – Kerfuffle by Karla Oceanak & Karla Spanjer

Kerfuffle Series: Aldo Zelnick Comic Novels Written by Karla Oceanak Illustrated by Kendra Spanjer Bailiwick Press      9/15/2015 978-1-934649-53-4 160 pages     Age 8—12 . “HEAR YE, HEAR YE!” “The Dana Elementary 5th grade Medieval Faire approacheth! We get to dress like knights and kings and damsels, plus play games, drink from gold …

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16. Dory and the Real True Friend (2015)

Dory and the Real True Friend. Abby Hanlon. 2015. Penguin. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: My name is Dory, but everyone calls me Rascal.

Did I enjoy Dory and the Real True Friend by Abby Hanlon? Yes, definitely. Did I enjoy it more than the first book in the series? I'm not sure. Not that a second book has to be more enjoyable than the first book. Not so long as it is at least as enjoyable as the first book.

So essentially, the premise of this one is: CAN DORY MAKE A REAL BEST FRIEND? That is the challenge given to her by her older siblings. They are confident the answer is no. That their sister is just WEIRD and DIFFERENT. Who would WANT to spend time with her...as she is?! Can she do it?! Read and see for yourself!

First, I do love Dory. I still love Dory. She's pretty much the same Dory we got to know oh-so-well in the first book. That being said, if readers haven't read the first book, I don't think they'd have any problem at all just picking up the second book. It won't take long for Dory to make an impression on readers.

Second, I do love her family for the most part. Do they always "get" Dory? No, not really. Dory surprises them in this one, I must say! They "thought" they knew her so well, that they could tell the difference between reality and Dory's fantastic imagination.

Third, I really appreciate that so much of this one was set at school. Part of me wishes it had been clear what grade--if any--Dory was in. We do know that this is her second year. That could mean two years of preschool, or, one year of preschool and kindergarten, or even kindergarten and first grade. (Though Dory doesn't seem like a first grader to me.) It doesn't really matter. Dory is DORY even at school. Whether Dory is purposely bringing her imaginary best friends with her to school or not. She can't turn her imagination off. Everyone KNOWS that Dory will never make a "true" "real" friend if she keeps hanging out with her imaginary ones, right?!

Fourth, I do love the illustrations. They really add to the overall Dory experience. And these two books are to be experienced make no mistake.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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17. Thursday Q&A: Are they ALL bookworms?


I was going to make this a Monday thing, but the week ran away from me. So let’s try Thursday. I’ve enjoyed having a regular day for posting my weekly booklists—it helps keep me on track, knowing I’ve slotted the roundup for Sundays. I thought it might be nice to set aside time to answer questions from the comments on another dedicated day. Maybe not every week—every other, perhaps? When I answer questions in the comment box, I’m never sure if the original poster sees the answer (since sometimes it takes me a while to reply). So I’m going to start pulling questions into these Q&A posts. You can leave more questions (or discussion topics in general) in the comments here and I’ll tackle them in the next Q&A.

On my High Tide for Huck and Rilla post, Jen asked,

I’ve just got to jump in and ask, do your kids read a lot in their free time?  Your philosophy is very much like what I’ve done with my kids and I also have olders and youngers.  It just doesn’t seem like mine are not like I once was and couldn’t wait to have some free time to read.  I wonder if it is all of the technology available (which I greatly limited with the older kids and have, admittedly, given too much slack with the younger ones).  I am comforted that there are still really great books going into their little ears and they have book jags every once in awhile, but…am I being idealistic in our present society or simply expecting too much of a picture book image in our homeschool?

With this many kids, my answer’s going to be all over the place. :) Some of them read constantly, incessantly. One of my teens was an obsessive reader when she was younger, but now she goes in spurts—she’ll be up late many nights in a row, devouring a stack of books, and then weeks will pass where she feels sort of meh about reading and pretty much only reads things necessary for her studies. I think she gets more sleep during the meh times, so it’s probably a healthy balance.

My younger children are less book-obsessed than my older three, and I do think that has something to do with the presence of gaming devices in their world—increased options, perhaps? We have limits on game time (two hours a day), so my younger kids’ day divides roughly into morning lesson time, after-lunch gaming time, and the rest of the day is free time until evening chores. There’s a good chunk of free time in the mornings, too, most days. Whereas Jane, Rose, and Beanie were apt to spend a large portion of their free time buried in a book, my younger trio choose other activities more often—drawing, crafting, Snap Circuits, outdoor play, etc. A lot of hands-on activities. If I find them sprawled on the sofa with a book, it is probably a graphic novel or picture book. Rilla hasn’t sparked to a prose fiction series yet the way her older sisters did with Redwall, the Warriors books, Boxcar Children, and other series. She is more drawn to art books and nonfiction—specifically books about bugs, birds, and animals. :)

So my younger kids aren’t as bookwormish, but I don’t worry about it. I figure they are getting plenty of reading in their day through readalouds and audiobooks—as you say, “really great books going into their little ears and book jags every once in a while.” That’s a dead-on depiction of what I’m seeing here these days! Since our homeschooling style is literature-centric, I feel confident they are absorbing a wide range of excellent books, stories, and poems.

One more thought: I do make a habit of combing the shelves for good picture books every couple of weeks. I’ll swap out a batch in an easily accessible basket—or leave a pile on my dresser, which seems even more effective at catching their eye. For some reason everyone likes reading on my bed best. I display books face out so the covers jump out at the kids. Huck is especially attracted to these casual displays and I will often him lolling on my bed, surrounded by these little curated collections. They also jump on any library or review copy that comes through the door—it seems the novelty makes a book extra attractive. I’ve known them to check out library copies of books they’ve walked past on our own shelves a thousand times. And the review copies—oh boy. Anything that arrives in a box is a hot commodity. The magic of the brown truck?

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18. Ship of Dolls (2014)

Ship of Dolls. Shirley Parenteau. 2014. Candlewick. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Did I enjoy reading Shirley Parenteau's Ship of Dolls? Yes! I adore historical fiction, and this one was a satisfying read.

Lexie Lewis is living with her grandparents (paternal grandparents) in Portland, Oregon. She wishes she was still living with her mother, but, her mother has remarried; that in addition to their big dreams of show business makes it inconvenient to have Lexie with them. The novel is set circa 1926 and 1927.

Lexie's school is participating in the Friendship Doll Exchange with Japan. Lexie is very involved in this. She longs to be able to touch the doll, hold the doll. But, of course, this isn't allowed. The teacher can't let her students play with the doll that is to be sent to Japan later that year. When Lexie breaks a rule, she is "punished" by her teacher. (Does the teacher really view this as punishment, or is she sympathetic to young Lexie?) Her punishment is that she has to sew an outfit for the doll to pack in her trunk. True Lexie can't sew and she's never made a pattern before, but, Lexie will get to be more involved with the doll than her classmates. For anyone who sews knows that you have to take measurements and try on the garment(s) throughout the process.

In addition to being about the doll exchange, the novel is very much a coming-of-age story focused on family, friendship, longing and belonging.

Lexie learns early on in the novel that whoever writes the best letter (for the assignment) gets to travel with the doll to San Francisco. She MUST win. Not because she's obsessed with the doll. But because her mother now lives there and if she wins she could spend some time with her...

I enjoyed spending time with Lexie. But I also enjoyed spending time with her grandparents. I really did. This one was definitely a character-driven novel. It is relatively slow-paced.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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19. Come meet me and other local Authors at the Local Authors and Artists Festival in Windsor this Weekend...

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20. Thursday catch-up

Emily meets Frida

Whew! We moved Jane back up to college over the weekend and then, back here at home, got to spend an extra day visiting with my parents, who had come to stay with the rest of the gang while we were away. And then it was hustle-like-crazy to catch up from being gone. Which is to say, business as usual.

It’s too late in the day for a nice coherent post, but I wanted to toss down some stories I’ll otherwise forget. Huckisms, mostly…he’s been on a roll. Tonight he wanted me to take dictation for his Christmas list—no moss growing on this kid. I dutifully wrote down his three longed-for items and he leaned over the page, frowning anxiously at my cursive. “What if Santa doesn’t know this fancy writing?”


This morning I read aloud from Child’s History of the World—our tried-and-true first history book for the younger set. Today’s chapter was about Sparta and Athens (mainly Sparta, with a thorough description of what a young Spartan boy’s life might have been like). Huck listened intently to the plight of Spartan seven-year-olds—an age only months around the corner from him—and had lots of interjections to make along the way.

After the chapter, I asked him to narrate in the casual way I generally begin with around age six or seven. Not casual enough. He instantly froze up. My kids have been about half and half with narration: three of them taking to it like ducks to water, and three feeling shy and put on the spot. Huck is one of the latter. He actually ran out of the room and had to be coaxed back by a big sister. I cuddled him into my lap and told him not to worry, it wasn’t a test, I was just curious to know if anything in the story jumped out at him.

Huck, scowling: No.

Me: Do you wish you were a Spartan boy?

Huck, galvanized: No! Because they had to leave their moms when they turned seven, and—

—and he was off, chattering away for a good five or six minutes about all the details in the chapter. This is the way it normally works with my reluctant narrators, and I smiled secretly into the top of his sweaty little head.

Suddenly, mid-sentence, he broke off and reared back to look at me, laughing. “Hey! You tricked me! I just told you all about it!”

We all melted with giggles. He was so honestly amused. All the rest of the day I was cracking up over the shocked, almost admiring tone of his “HEY!”


The other thing that happened this week is that Rilla invented a board game. It’s called “Elemental Escape” and involves players representing Fire, Water, and Electricity (twist!) racing to the finish on a track filled with monsters. She drew a game board and mounted it on cardboard, and the game pieces are all Legos. Pretty fantastic.

board game by Rilla

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21. #747 – ROAR! by Julie Bayless

Roar! Written and illustrated by Julie Bayless Running Press Kids     10/13/2015 978-0-7624-5750-2 32 pages      Age 4—8 “It is nighttime in the savanna, which means that it is time to play for one rambunctious lion cub! The cub tries to make new friends with the hippos and the giraffes, but roaring at …

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22. Orbiting Jupiter

Orbiting Jupiter. Gary D. Schmidt. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Orbiting Jupiter is a great book: an emotional, compelling, coming-of-age story with an incredible focus on friendship and family and what it means to love someone.

Jack is the narrator of the book, and I absolutely loved, loved, loved him. I loved him from the start. Here's how the book opens: with Jack and his parents getting ready to welcome a very troubled boy into their home. Joseph, Jack's new foster brother, isn't like other eighth graders. He has a daughter he's never been allowed to see. He has a history of violence. And because of the institutions he's been in, he can freak out and overreact a bit. But Jack's family, well, they are good, solid, dependable, patient, heart-wide-open people ready to love and accept. From the day he walks into their home, they see him as family. And there's nothing Jack won't do to help his brother--sometimes that means giving him plenty of space, and not pushing him to talk, sometimes that means reassuring him that he's there for him, that he has his back, that he is not alone anymore.

But not everyone in the community is ready to welcome Joseph. In particular, some of the people at schools--some who should know better, others who probably don't--are not ready for Joseph. Some are openly hostile and just MEAN. Others treat him not as another human being, but, as a spectacle, a freak. But several teachers see through Joseph's past and come to really LOVE him and see that he's more than the choices he's made, that, he is in fact, really smart and capable of good. I both loved and hated the school scenes. There were a few times I was just so angry--like Jack--in Joseph's defense. And there were a few scenes I just found sweet.

Joseph's story slowly but surely unfolds, and, it is intense. I couldn't help liking Joseph and just caring for him and wanting the best for him.

Orbiting Jupiter is a bittersweet coming-of-age story that worked for me for the most part. But oh how I wish I could rewrite the ending! Not because this one doesn't feel good-enough or that it feels completely out-of-place, but, because it's just so achingly bittersweet.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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23. bad blogger lately....

but for a good reason. :)

have been super busy working on a special commission for the family of a little girl i once taught almost ten moons ago. (yikes, feeling old!)

the mom came to me asking for a custom painting based on the gorgeously illustrated book entitled, "motherbridge of love". in a nut shell, it's a sweet book about adoption...east meets west (u.s.a. and china).  well, i couldn't have been happier to put my spin on parts of that beautiful book.

just about wrapping up this painting this week and i'm so looking forward to presenting it to them. such a lovely mother and adorable daughter, they are....:)

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24. Nightbird (2015)

Nightbird. Alice Hoffman. 2015. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

What one word best describes Alice Hoffman's Nightbird? I'd go with atmospheric. Did I enjoy it? Yes, for the most part. It's not a perfect fit for me, I'm not the ideal reader--the ideal match--for this type of book. But I enjoyed it and can easily recommend it to others knowing that they probably will enjoy it even more than I did.

The heroine of Nightbird is a young girl named Twig. (I have to say that I quickly came to love Twig.) Twig's life is a lonely one. For her family has a super-big secret that would endanger them all if it became known. Her mom trusts her to do what is best for the whole family. She can't invite friends over to her house, and, knowing that, she doesn't feel exactly comfortable going over to other people's houses. She knows that any "friendship" she begins would only lead to frustration and disappointment and misunderstandings. But when a new family moves in next door, a new family that isn't exactly "new" to the town, a family with historical roots in the community, Twig takes a chance and makes her first friend. Her mother may not exactly approve, so some discretion is needed, but Twig's life will never be the same...

The less you know about this one, the better, in my opinion.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. The Best Friend Battle (2015)

Best Friend Battle. Lindsay Eyre. Illustrated by Charles Santoso. 2015. Scholastic. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

It was a quick read. Was it a good quick read? For the most part, yes. Though I admit I'm not the target audience for this one. Sylvie, the heroine, is having a hard time sharing her best friend, Miranda, with others. With a few boys, to be exact. And one of the boys she just can't stand. His name is Georgie. And she thinks he's awful. But her friend, Miranda, well, she's friendly with him. She even cheers him on at baseball when he's on the opposing team to Sylvie. How could she, thinks Sylvie!!! Or, perhaps, how DARE she?!?!

When the novel opens, Miranda's birthday is fast approaching, and Sylvie is quite DESPERATE. How can she prove that she is all the best friend Miranda needs, and, that there is no room for Georgie too?! Well, Sylvie's methods are a bit extreme. And the book does get a bit dramatic, more over-the-top comedy than serious drama. And some of this drama is due to Sylvie's twin brothers getting involved in the friendship war...

This one is enjoyable. I liked it.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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