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1. #644 – The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #5: Lobo Goes to the Galapagos by C.L. Murphy

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The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #5: Lobo Goes to the Galapagos

Written and illustrated by C.L. Murphy
Published by C.L. Murphy         8/22/2014
978-0-9883187-5-5
Age 4 to 8        32 pages
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“Lobo returns in this adventure, sweeter and a bit salty this time. This lil’ wolf pup finds that there’s nothing like a little sea air to bring out the best in him and his unlikely tag-alongs. Take a trip to the Galapagos with Lobo and his right-hand raven, Roxy, as they help an injured, new feathered friend return home. Lobo faces some fears and witnesses the joy that comes from helping others in this “birds of a different feather DO flock together” tale.”

Opening

 “Ohh …….Rooooxxxyyyy . . . Roxy…..Roxy?”

The Story

After a stormy night, Lobo finds a bird lying upside down in the grass. It has blue feet, which worries Lobo, but it turns out the bird, named Bobby is a blue-footed booby. The storm blew Bobby all the way to Lobo’s home, hurting his wing in the process. Lobo’s friend Roxy the raven splints Bobby’s wing and then the two take Bobby home. He lives by the ocean, but none of the beaches Lobo arrives at is the correct beach. Bobby lives on Wolf Island—wolf population zero—an island of the Galapagos Islands. The islands are across the ocean rom Lobo’s forest. Lobo does not swim well and is afraid a sea creature might attack the group—or him. What does he do know? How will he get the injured Booby back home?

Review 

I have loved The Adventures of Lovable Lobo ever since Lobo ventured into a barnyard full of animals trying to make friends. He was a cool wolf pup when he refused to hunt and kill in his first adventure. Lobo was wonderful with a young Bigfoot. In Lobo Goes to Galapagos, Lobo must be maturing. He takes the lead, transporting an injured boobly bird, a depressed seagull, and a lonely crab by himself. Roxy helps by flying most of the time instead of landing on Lobo’s back for a free ride. Lobo never complains. These are his friends (even the sad seagull and the blue-footed boobly both of which he just met) so he steps out.

I loved the unexpected bits of humor, such as when Sandra popping onto the beach with the perfect timing of a great comedian One f the best lines is this one,

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“The water was so clear that if Lobo looked down he could see many things swimming around,   so he tried not to look down.”

Poor Lobo, he endures one fear to take a new friend, injured in the storm, home. The nice thing about Lobo’s stories is the lack of a message. Lobo is a good wolf, a wolf to aspire to be, and a friend to every animal without prejudice. This is Lobo’s makeup, not his message. Still, I take friendship, honesty, loyalty, and courteousness away from Lobo’s adventures.

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I was disappointed that Lobo Goes to the Galapagos was only to drop off a new friend. I thought he would go there to explore and show me creatures I did not know existed. True, I had never heard of a blue-footed boobly—and yes, it is real—but I wanted more.

The illustrations are once more fantastic. My favorite and one that Ms. Murphy will find hard to top, is her gorgeous sunset, sunrise beaches. I have been to the Caribbean many times and have seen many outstanding sunsets and rises, but none were as magnificent as the ones in Lobo Goes to the Galapagos. Ms. Murphy the magic touch. All of her illustrations are bold, bright, beautiful renditions of her stories. If the images are not hopping off the page at you, they bathe you in phenomenal patterns of color. She is a fantastic artist.

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Lobo’s latest adventure, Lobo Goes to the Galapagos, will not disappoint his loyal fans. Young children new to the lovable wolf pup will enjoy the story’s soft humor and awesome tale of friendship. As of this tale, Kindle readers can finally enjoy Lovable Lobo. Once again, Lobo and his friends captivated me. I hope one day, Lobo will make a longer trip to the Galapagos Islands. He would make the perfect ambassador.

THE ADVENTURES OF LOVABLE LOBO #5: LOBO GOES TO THE GALAPAGOS. Text and illustrations copyright © 2014 by C.L. Murphy. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, C.L. Murphy.

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Purchase Lobo Goes to the Galapagos at AmazoniTunes—Ms. Murphy’s Website.

Learn more about Lobo Goes to the Galapagos HERE

Meet the author/illustrator, C.L. Murphy, at her website:     http://lovablelobo.com/

Pop in on the author at her Twitter, Facebook, or Blog.

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Also by C.L. Murphy

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #1:  Lobo & Popo Fool the Pack

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #1: Lobo & Popo Fool the Pack

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #2:  Lobo Visits the Barnyard

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #2: Lobo Visits the Barnyard


The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #3:  Lobo Finds BigfootBarnyard

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #3: Lobo Finds BigfootBarnyard

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #4:  Lobo's Howliday

The Adventures of Lovable Lobo, #4: Lobo’s Howliday

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Review of Lobo #1

Review of Lobo #2

Review of Lobo #3

Review of Lobo #4

 

 

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Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews


Filed under: 4stars, Children's Books, Favorites, Library Donated Books, Picture Book, Series Tagged: Blue-Footed Boobly, C.L. Murphy, children's book series, childrens book review, friendship, Galapagos Islands, helping friends, Lovable Lobo, loyalty, picture book, wild creatures

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2. Feathers, Scales, Fur or Skin: Tales of Friendship and Being Yourself

The Lucky Country. That’s Australia. We embrace difference. Celebrate diversity. Stand up for what we believe in. Be ourselves. Show compassion for those in need.   The following picture books, as chosen for the 2014 Speech Pathology Australia Books of the Year shortlist, all share common themes; diversity, friendship and uniqueness.   The Short Giraffe […]

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3. The 2014 Summer Picture Book Party

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My girls were away for a couple of days last week staying on their own at their grandparents and whilst I LOVED having a bit more time to myself, I couldn’t resist a special welcome home picture book party; a day spent reading, playing, eating and dancing.

zebraOn the evening they arrived home I gave them invites inspired by the artwork in The Zebra who Ran Too Fast by Jenni Desmond. Set on the African plains, this book explores rings of friendship, how they can break and make up again – a simple, kind and non-threatening exploration of a situation many children find themselves in at one time or another. Desmond’s use of muted stone and moss colours is stylish, and the illustrations feel loose and free with lots of “scribbles” and splashes.

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I used Desmond’s sun motif to form the basis of the party invites; a round piece of watercolour paper with flamecolour centre, surrounded by drops of ink, blown outwards using a straw.

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Whilst I made these invites, the process is definitely easy enough for kids to enjoy too (if you’re worried about kids drinking up the paint/ink accidentally you could use food colouring instead).

vanillaThe following morning we started as we meant to go on. We made vanilla ice cream (without a freezer) and tested different vanilla flavoured icecreams to discover our favourite. This was inspired by Vanilla Ice Cream by Bob Graham. Graham is THE master of global perspective. He knows how to zoom in and out of scenes and stories like no other teller of tales I know, and once again he works wonders with this understated story, following a sparrow who hitches a lift on a cargo ship. Masterful picture books often include a clever “reveal” in their final pages, so I should have known something was coming. Still, I was taken by great (and joyous) surprise with the twist Graham pulls off in this colourful, delightful story endorsed by Amnesty International.

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To make icecream without a freezer you need cream, sugar, icecubes and salt. The cream and sugar go in one bag – here’s the cream, sugar (and vanilla in our case):

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And below you can see it having frozen; the cream-containing bag is put inside a larger bag full of ice and salt. Because salt lowers the freezing temperature of water, the icecubes melt, extracting heat from the cream as they do so. After about 5 minutes shaking the icecubes were mostly melted and the cream mixture was like soft icecream.

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And here’s the final result – definitely the most luxurious vanilla icecream I’ve ever eaten!

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For full details on how to make your own icecream without a freezer and in under 10 minutes, do take a look at these instructions from the National STEM centre.

helpI love a good book about books and storytelling and Herve Tullet has created a mischievous and inventive interactive piece of theatre exploring story characters, plot and the need for a title in his Help! We Need a Title!. A motley collection of characters are in need of a good storyline and a punchy title. They appeal directly to you the reader/listener for help. With plenty of surprises this book is lively and highly amusing.

If you like the sound of Tullet’s book do look for Do not open this book by Michaela Muntean, illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre, one of the funniest books in our home – an absolute must-have for families who like a bit of interaction with their books and harbour dreams of writing stories.

Taking our lead from characters who walked in and out of the pages of Help! We Need a Title! I set up a book “stage” with the help of the patio doors, a basket of dressing up costumes and a selection of liquid chalk markers (you could also use whiteboard markers).
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My girls love drawing on photos in newspapers and magazines so it was a natural extension that we then drew “on” the characters who walked into our patio-door picture-book.

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And finally the contents of our picture book were included too.
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brunoAfter lunch, for some chill-out time, we got out good old staples: lego and the wooden railway, this time brought to life by Bruno and Titch: A Tale of a boy and His Guinea Pig by Sheena Dempsey. Bruno has always wanted a guinea pig. Titch, a guinea pig, has always wanted to be taken home from the pet shop by a Big Person. One day their paths cross – but does it work out how they’ve each always imagined it would? Deadpan guinea pig humour (yes, really!) and fabulous illustrations full of new details upon each reading add something special to this tale about friendship, imagination and looking after pets. We especially loved Bruno’s passion for invention, right down to the poster of Einstein by his bed.

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Our interpretation of Bruno and Titch’s lego/railway play:

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francesNo party is complete without dancing, so following a reading of Frances Dean who Loved to Dance and Dance by Birgitta Sif we cleared the kitchen to create space for a good old boogie, aided by a prop or two.

Put your cynical adult brain to one side and remember a time when the phrase “dance like no-one’s watching” felt like something utterly joyous and liberating. Sif’s book is all about holding on to that freedom and not being afraid of a little bit of exuberance mixed in with a good shot of rhythm. It’s an encouraging story about holding on to what you care about, even when others seem to doubt you, a message I think every child deserves to hear time and time again.

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For a book bursting with so much heart and happiness, the colour scheme is particularly interesting; there are lots of natural greens and browns rather than the bright sparkly jewel tones often used by illustrators to convey intense happiness. For me this speaks of the impact being connected to the outdoors can have on feeling content and happy; indeed all of the scenes showing Frances Dean dancing take place in parks and forests surrounded by space, trees and wildlife.

We reused embroidery hoops and ribbons to create waves of colour we could dance with.

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Jumping for joy? Yes, that pretty much sums up our 2014 Picture Book Party :-) An all day festival of playing and reading – just what summer holidays are made for.

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Disclosure: All the books featured in this picture book party were sent to me a free review copies by the Walker Books, as part of the Picture Book Party blog tour. See how how more families have been partying at the following stops on the tour: 26 August: www.mummymishaps.co.uk, 27 August: www.culture-baby.net, 28 August: www.theboyandme.co.uk and 29 August: www.beingamummy.co.uk

3 Comments on The 2014 Summer Picture Book Party, last added: 8/25/2014
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4. Absolutely Almost (2014)

Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff. 2014. Penguin. 304 pages [Source: Library]

I loved Absolutely Almost. I think I loved it at least as much as Umbrella Summer. Maybe even a little bit more. I don't know. Time will tell. I don't actually have to choose between the two, right?! I can LOVE two GREAT books by one very talented middle grade author, can't I?!

Albie is the protagonist of Absolutely Almost. His narration gives the book a just right feel. It's a satisfying read about a boy who struggles with meeting expectations: his parents, his grandparents, his teachers, his own. He's never good or great, he's always only almost. Almost good at this or that. Almost ready for this or that. And this oppressive almost gets him down now and then. Not always, mind you. I don't want to give the impression that Albie is sad and depressed and unable to cope with life. Albie is more than capable of having a good time, of enjoying life, of appreciating the world around him.

I really appreciated Graff's characterization. Not only do readers come to love (in some cases I imagine love, love, love) Albie, but, all the characters are well written or well developed. Albie's parents at times seem to be disconnected, out of touch with who their son is, what life is like for him, what he wants, what he needs. But just when I get ready to dismiss them as neglectful or clueless, something would happen that would make me pause and reconsider. Readers also get to know several other characters: his nanny, Calista, his math teacher, Mr. Clifton, and his friend, Betsy. For the record, he does have more than one friend. But Betsy is his new friend, his first friend that he makes at his new school. It is their friendship that is put to the test in the novel. It is his relationship with Betsy that allows for him to progress a bit emotionally. If that makes sense. (So yes, I know that his best-best friend is Erlan. But Erlan has been his friend for as long as he can remember, probably since they were toddlers. He's completely comfortable in that friendship. Their friendship does come into the novel here and there. But for me, it wasn't the most interesting aspect of the novel.)

I loved the setting of Absolutely Almost. I loved how we get to spend time with Albie in school and out of school. I loved how we get to see him in and out of his comfort zone. I loved that we got to see his home life. We got to see for ourselves how he interacts with parents. I love how Albie is able to love his parents even if they don't really make him top priority. Especially his Dad. Albie's need for his Dad's attention, the right kind of attention, can be FELT. Albie held onto hope that one day his Dad would find time to spend with him, that one day his Dad would see him--really see him. There were moments that hope lessened a bit as Albie gave into his emotions-of-the-moment. But Albie's love for his dad always won out at the end. His hope would return.

The writing. I loved it. I did. I think the quality of the writing was amazing. There were chapters that just got to me. Their were paragraphs that just resonated with me. The writing just felt TRUE.

Absolutely, Almost is set in New York City.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Absolutely Almost (2014) as of 8/21/2014 1:45:00 PM
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5. Cakes in space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre

Imagine packing up your home, leaving Earth and setting out to travel across space to colonise a new planet.

The journey will take so long you’ll be put into a cryptobiotic state. But there is absolutely nothing to fear: You’re on sleek new spaceship, looked after by a team of well-programmed robots, and everything has been carefully thought through. When you finally arrive at Nova Mundi (it only takes 199 years to get there), you’ll be woken up to a delicious breakfast and the start of a whole new and wonderful life.

It sounds great, doesn’t it?

cakesinspacecoverAnd so it is in Cakes in Space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. Astra and her family are on their way to their new home but – you’ve guessed it – something goes wrong. Astra wakes from her suspended sleep, and feeling peckish goes off in search of a chocolate biscuit.

The Nom-O-Tron (a highly developed version of Star Trek’s Replicator) satisfies Astra’s request, but when she’s tempted to ask for something a little more outlandish (how many times have you seen the word “Ultimate” used to describe a dish?) something goes awry. Soon Astra is hurtling through space surrounded by cakes which have learned to evolve. Cakes which are fed up of being eaten themselves. Cakes which have developed a killer instinct.

Will Astra be able to save her family from the Ravenous Crispy Slices and Ferocious Fruit Cakes stalking the spaceship’s corridors? How much more complicated will things get when a second front opens up and her spaceship is raided by alien life forms known as Poglites, desperately searching for their holy grail, that technology which they haven’t been able to master: SPOONS.

Yes, this is a totally surreal and deliciously outrageous story of friendship, ingenuity and hundreds and thousands.

It’s fast-moving, exciting, just ever so slightly scary in that enjoyably adrenalin pumping way and above all it’s FUNNY! Add into the mix some genuinely beautiful writing (sometimes young fiction is all about the plot and the language – especially for an adult reading it aloud – can be somewhat unremarkable, but Reeve at times writes sentences which I found myself wanting to copy out), a plot which will enthral both boys and girls of a wide age range, and the subtle inclusion of some philosophically meatier issues (the consequences of greedy desire, the demonisation of that which we don’t know and can’t name) and you’ve got yourself a remarkable book.

Image: Sarah McIntyre. Please click on the image to be taken to the original blog post - well worth reading!

Image: Sarah McIntyre. Please click on the image to be taken to the original blog post – well worth reading!

McIntyre’s illustrations are a crazy but perfect mix of 1950s brave new world sleekness and outrageous sponge-and-icing based fantasy. I’m delighted that Astra’s family are mixed race (this isn’t mentioned in the text at all, but how great to see some diversity just as-is, without it being an issue in the book).

The top-notch content of Cakes in Space is matched by a stunningly produced physical book. Like last year’s Reeve and McIntyre production, Oliver and the Seawigs, this is first being published as a small hardback in pleasingly chunky, strokingly hand-holdable format. Everything about the book is appealing.

After indulging in a solo read, I read this book aloud to both girls over a couple of days last week. Before we’d even finished the books my girls were off to raid the cutlery draw in the kitchen for highly prized spoons to create a collection of which any Poglite would be proud.

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Carefully curated, they labelled every spoon with where it had been found in the galaxy, its rarity and its monetary value (I can see how this could develop into a Top Trumps game…)
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Spoons are one thing, but cake is another, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to host our own mini Cakes in Space party. We baked a host of fairy cakes and then turned them into KILLER CAKES…

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Lollies made great eyes on stalks…

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… as did Maltesers and Aero balls.

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We had fun making teeth out of snapped white chocolate buttons, tictacs and rice paper snipped to look like rows of sharp teeth.

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We also had some Ferocious Florentines and Sinister Swiss Rolls (helped along with edible eyes).

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Other characters from the book were also present: The Nameless Horror was a big bowl of wobbly jelly dyed black with food colouring and with licorice shoelaces reaching out across the table, and jars of purple gloop (thinned down Angel Delight, again dyed to give a good purple colour) with gummy snakes in them made perfect Poglite snacks. Alas these were guzzled before I got to take a photo!

Preparing for the party was at least as much fun as the party itself…

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Great music for a Cakes in Space party includes:

  • Cake by Mindy Hester & The Time Outs – heavily influenced by George Michael’s Faith
  • Peggy Seeger with Ewan MacColl, “The Space Girl’s Song”
  • I like Pie, I like Cake by the Four Clefs
  • To the Moon by the Mighty Buzzniks
  • Man in the Moon by The Full English. This comes from the album Sarah McIntyre listened to a lot whilst illustrating Cakes in Space.
  • Crunch munchy honey cakes by The Wiggles… not everyone’s cup of tea but it is sort of earwormy…
  • Other activities which would make for a great Cakes in Space party include:

  • COSTUMES! Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve have the most amazing Cakes in Space costumes (you can see them here), but if you want some inspiration for your own costumes you could try these: Using a bucket and plastic tray to create an astronaut costume as per Spoonful, how to create a papier-mâché helmet on StitchCraftCreations, a Pinterest board dedicated to cake costumes.
  • ROBOTS! I’d pile a load of “junk” from the recycling bin on the table and let the kids loose on designing and building their own robots or spaceships. NurtureStore has some ideas to get you going.
  • SLEEPING PODS! For the grown ups at the party if no-one else… You could use large cardboard boxes painted silver lined with duvets, and with the lids cut out and replaced with something see-through, with bottle tops/lids stuck on for the various buttons… you get the idea!
  • We’ve all heard of Death by Chocolate, but what’s the nearest you’ve come to being killed by a cake?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of Cakes in Space from the publishers.

    4 Comments on Cakes in space by Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre, last added: 8/18/2014
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    6. Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana

    May Contain Spoilers

    Review:

    I always have the urge to read a horsey book right before a horse show.  I kept seeing the Timber Ridge Riders series on Amazon, and wanted to check it out, so when I had the chance to do just that, I jumped at it.  I don’t ride hunt seat, so I always find depictions of hunter shows interesting.  The horse care details were spot on, and nothing made me cringe due to inaccuracies.  I’ll tell you what did make me cringe: the behavior of Kate’s rival, Angela.  What a spoiled, selfish girl!  If I was her coach, she would have been booted from my barn.  Her casual treatment of the animals and her teammates had me boiling mad!

    Keeping Secrets is a middle grade book, but it will appeal to horse enthusiasts of all ages.  I felt so awful for protagonist Kate.  She has spent the last six months blaming herself for the death of  a horse at her old barn.  A convenient scape goat, she was kicked out, banished for allowing the horse to escape from his stall, get into the feed room, and colic.  What a crappy thing to do to a 14 year old girl.  The old trainer earned zero respect from me, and poor Kate, heartbroken over the loss of her favorite horse, decided that horses would no longer play a part in her life.  Kate’s disinterested father didn’t help her with her grief.  The guy, a professor, was never home, and he probably didn’t even know about the horrible experience Kate was struggling to deal with.  Instead, he traipsed around the planet research butterflies. 

    With her father on a trip, she’s moved in with her aunt.  Kate wants a job, so when she hears about a babysitting job, she applies for it.  Her charge is actually her own age, and Holly has been confined to a wheelchair after an auto accident.  Kate’s job is to be her companion for the summer, so her mom can continue coaching riders at the barn behind their small house.  Barn?  Yes, barn!  So even though Kate wants nothing to do with horses, she is stuck having to deal with them every day.  Holly’s dream is to get back in the saddle again, and she drags Kate to the barn every day.  To hide her new discomfort around the animals, Kate lies and tells Holly that she’s terrified of them, and, oh, yeah, she’s allergic, too.  When her secret is outted, she has to earn back Holly’s trust, as well as help save Holly’s mom’s job.

    This is a very fast paced read, and I couldn’t put it down.  Once Kate gets back in the saddle, things accelerate even more.  She has to help win a team competition, but guess what?  Angela is out to get her, because Kate rides better than she does, so Kate has to learn quickly to avoid Angela’s attempts to sabotage her.  I loved all of the conflict Angela started.  She’s the perfect girl you love to hate, but because her mother demands constant perfection from her, you feel a smidge, just a smidge!, of pity for her.  She’s afraid that Kate will show her up in front of her mother, and all her mother cares about is that Angela is the best.  Her mother also has a lot of control over whether or not Holly’s mother will keep her job, it turns out, so there’s even greater friction between the girls.  Add in the fact that Angela is a bully and likes to pick on what she considers weaker girls, and you really have the perfect villain.

    I enjoyed Keeping Secrets, and I’m looking forward to more adventures with Kate and Holly.  I’m sure that Angela will continue to make trouble for the girls, making for more entertaining reading.

    Grade:  B/B+  (I love the cover – that gets an A)

    Review copy provided by publisher

    From Amazon:

    A valuable horse is dead, and it’s all her fault, which is why 14-year-old Kate McGregor has banished horses and riding from her life … forever!

    But her new summer job as a companion to Holly Chapman, a former riding star who’s now confined to a wheelchair, takes her back to the barn—the last place Kate wants to be. 

    Can Kate keep her terrible secret from Holly, who is fast becoming her best friend? And, more important, can she keep her secret from Angela Dean, a teenage bully who lives for only two things: winning ribbons and causing trouble? 

    Kate manages to keep her secret hidden until an accident forces it into the open … and it’s just the moment Angela has been waiting for.

    The post Review: Keeping Secrets by Maggie Dana appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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    7. Reading Aloud: It’s Not Just For Kids

    You don’t have to be a kid in elementary school to listen to a book read aloud. You don’t have to be the parent of a preschooler to read aloud.

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    8. The LIght in the Cellar (A Molly Mystery) by Sarah Masters Buckey

    Everyone at school needs to sign up to do volunteer work for the war effort of some kind and Molly McIntire really wants to join the Junior Red Cross with her friends Susan and Linda.  But Emily Bennett, an evacuee from the London Blitz who has been staying with the McIntire's since she arrived in the U.S., wants to volunteer to be a magazine delivery girl at the Oak Knoll Convalescent Hospital.  That way, she can visit her Aunt Prim, recovering from pneumonia.  Emily was supposed to live with Aunt Prim for the duration of the war, but is living with the McIntire's instead until she recovers.

    But before any magazines can be delivered, Emily needs to learn how to ride a bike, since that is their only means of transportation to Oak Knoll.  One evening, Molly, Susan and Linda take Emily to a deserted road by the old (haunted?) Greystone Manor.  While there, they notice a light in the cellar is on.

    Shortly after this, Molly's mother discovers seven 10 pound bags of sugar are missing from the Red Cross office, where they are kept.  The supplies are used to bake cookies for the soldiers on the troop trains passing through.  Sugar is rationed and can't be replaced.  Oddly, Molly overhears a conversation at Oak Knoll that supplies there are missing as well.  Could someone be stealing these valuable supplies to sell on the black market?

    Surprised, Molly finds she enjoys being a magazine delivery girl and meeting the different patients at Oak Knoll, especially Mrs. Currier, who lives in Greystone Manor.  When Mrs. Currier asks Molly to go get her reading glasses from the house, Molly agrees despite being more than a little creeped out.  While there with Emily the next day, a black truck pulls up to the house and two men start carrying in packages and putting them in the basement.  Trouble is, they forget to put the spare key to the Manor back where it belongs and must return again.

    Bringing Linda and Susan with them, Molly and Emily return to the Manor with the key.  While there, they decide to look in the basement window and, sure enough, there are the missing bags of sugar from the Red Cross and Oak Knoll.

    But who could be doing something like this?  Mr. Laurence, who delivers Oak Knoll's laundry, tells Molly to be careful are Marta, a Polish refuge with a young daughter, hinting that the missing items are because of her, but Molly refuses to believe that, especially not after what Auntie Prim says about her.

    What to do?  Can Molly and her friends actually set a trap to catch the thief before all those supplies disappear on the black market?

    The Light in the Cellar is a middle grade novel that is full of adventure and excitement, but of a kinder, gentler nature than many of the WWII books I've reviewed for young readers.  For today's readers, though, the amount of freedom 9 year old Molly enjoys to ride her bike and just hang out with her friends may surprise them.  I know it did my Kiddo when she read them.

    However, there are a few plot holes.  How long has Mrs. Currier been at Oak Knoll if Molly and her friends have always thought of Greystone Manor as haunted and falling into disrepair and why didn't Mrs. Currier have her reading glasses already if it has been so long?

    Still, the historical facts in the novel are well-researched story by an author who is very familiar with American Girl values and has written a number of books about the historical figures that were the original purpose of the Pleasant Company before it was sold to Mattel.

    And my Kiddo learned a lot because American Girl books involving historical figures like Molly McIntire are always written so that they give young readers a good idea of what life might have been like for girls their age, and the mysteries are not different.  The Light in the Cellar introduces kids to rationing and ration books, and the black market, to the work of Red Cross volunteers, to plane spotting by kids like Molly's older brother Ricky, and, of course, to scrap collecting - all so much a part of life during WWII.

    However, I did like that Molly and Emily got a little testy with each other, showing that sometimes friendships can be strained no matter what the circumstances and letting readers know that Molly, like themselves, isn't perfect.  Then again, sometimes the McIntires forgot that Emily wasn't one of them and treated her like another sister, which proved to please her very much.

    All of the American Girl historical figures have a series of mystery stories like Molly's, so if your young reader is showing an interest in mysteries and/or history, these are great starter book (and a nice prelude to novels like Nancy Drew and Harriet the Spy among others).

    This book is recommended for readers age 9+
    This book was purchased for my Kiddo's personal library


    0 Comments on The LIght in the Cellar (A Molly Mystery) by Sarah Masters Buckey as of 8/6/2014 9:52:00 PM
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    9. VIDEO: PETE THE CAT AND THE NEW GUY

    Need a little dose of positivity and acceptance today? We’re here to help you out!

    Watch this trailer for PETE THE CAT AND THE NEW GUY, which is on sale today. We guarantee it’ll make you feel groovy!

    And here’s another little bit of grooviness to take with you into the coming school year: a Common Core-aligned teaching guide to all of Pete the Cat’s picture books and I Can Read titles!

    “Keep walking along and singing your song. Because it’s all good.”

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    10. A Time to be Brave by Joan Betty Stuchner

    Ever since the Nazis invaded Denmark, David Nathan, 10, and his best friend Elsa Jensen have been hungry, despite the fact that his dad is the best baker in all of Copenhagen.  But the Nazis have been helping themselves to whatever they want since 1940, and that includes anything that they fancy in Nathan's Patisserie

    Now, it is September, 1943 and David is looking forward to Rosh Hashanah and his mother's special honey cake all month long.  The Jewish New Year is always a family celebration shared with Elsa's family.   If only he thought his sister might be there, but university studies keep her at school more and more.

    Or so David's mother tells him whenever he asks about Rachel.  But on their way home from school one afternoon, Elsa tells David her secret - Rachel and Elsa's cousin Arne are in the Resistance, doing whatever they can to sabotage the Nazis.

    That very afternoon, when he arrives at his father's bakery, David is asked to deliver 6 éclairs to Arne's house and to make sure all 6 get there.  But no sooner does David leave the shop, when he is stopped by two Nazi soldiers who insist on seeing what he has in his bakery box.  Seeing the éclairs, each soldier helps himself to one.

    Finally, David is able to deliver the remaining four éclairs to Arne, who immediately dips his finger into each, finally pulling out a piece of paper from the last one.  All David can make out is the word train.  A few days later, David's father tells him that a train has been sabotaged by the Resistance, and David proudly realizes he had actually played a role in that.

    And at last Rosh Hashanah arrives.  The longed for honey cake has been made, but when David and his father are sitting in the synagogue, the Rabbi announces that the Nazis are planning to round up Denmark's Jews that very night and advises everyone to go home and prepare for their escape.

    Well, we know the end of this story because we know that Denmark's citizens did not allow the Nazis to capture most of that nation's Jewish citizens, and so we know that David and his parents escape to Sweden with the help of their friends the Jensens.  But, of course, young readers may not know this.

    A Time to be Brave is a nice easy reader chapter book that provides a good introduction to what happened in Denmark in World War II.  It is the perfect book for a young reader who is not quite ready for Number the Stars.

    The writing is simple. never condescending, the story is straightforward and the characters well-drawn. There is nice back matter, too, including a map of Denmark and Sweden, a World War II timeline, explanations of who Victor Borge is (yes, he in mentioned in the novel), the Resistance, King Christian X (an important figure to the Danish people during the war), and a recipe for honey cake (that I may have to try making).

    If A Time to be Brave sounds vaguely familiar, it is because it was originally published in 2008 under the title Honey Cake.  I suspect it has been reissued under the new title because it now has "updated content that emphasizes Common Core and renewed interest in nonfiction" even though the story is fiction.  It is, however, based on a true story.

    This book is recommended for readers age 7+
    This book was provided by the publisher


    0 Comments on A Time to be Brave by Joan Betty Stuchner as of 7/23/2014 10:09:00 PM
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    11. Saying Goodbye

    It is hard to say goodbye to an old friend. I am currently having to do just that. Sometimes, things deteriorate beyond salvage and the relationship must end. I have had this happen before, not very often – but it has happened.

    In my younger days, I was a bridge-burner. I just moved on. I left high school and kept up with very few friends, mostly the ones who went to the same university. After four fun-filled years at college, I left those friends with every intent of doing better. I did not. Oh, I tried. For a year or two I kept up with some. But we all got scattered around the country and once-close ties severed. I predate social media, so we didn’t have that easy connection to tether me to my friends.

    I have had to end relationships since then, though not as frequently. It was much easier to end friendships when I moved cities. I have lived in the same city for twenty-five years now and have no intention of leaving. So I can’t pack up and forget to give a forwarding address. Also, the aforementioned social media makes ending a relationship a public event. You have to be sure it is the proper thing to do before you push “unfriend,” or “block.”

    What are some causes of ended friendships anyway? Here are some big ones. It isn’t an exhaustive list, you might have experienced other issues.

    A trust violation – can be major or minor, equally damaging.

    Priority shift – things become important to one and not the other.

    Lack of support – a friend has stopped being there for you.

    Selfishness – the friend who has all day to complain but has to go when it is time to listen.

    Drift – Sometimes, friends just drift apart. It isn’t a willful decision on either side.

    Friends can’t always be replaced. Depending on the length and emotional depth of the friendship, there can be a sizable void when the friendship ends. Pain. Regret. Panic, doubt, and second-guessing can even set in. Most of the time, there is even a grieving period when a friendship dies.

    So it is with this friend. We’ve been through a lot together. There were entire days we spent together and I don’t regret them. They were good days… comfortable days. Never tight or strenuous, my friend and I got along perfectly. We fit together. I felt a certain contentment with this friend that I rarely feel. In fact, besides my wife, I’ve been closer to few others.

    Why, do you ask, must this friendship end?

    Is my friend moving? Did my friend betray me?

    Loneliness_(4101974109)

     

    No, due to old age, my friend’s elastic waistband ripped through the soft, cotton fabric and my favorite pair of boxers is caput. The friendship is no longer salvageable. I could save it for a dust rag or staining cloth, but that’d be weird… unlike writing a blog post about underwear.

     

     

    Photo attribution: Bert Kaufmann from Roermond, Netherlands (Loneliness Uploaded by russavia)

     

     


    Filed under: Learned Along the Way

    5 Comments on Saying Goodbye, last added: 7/22/2014
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    12. Under the Egg, by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

    Theodora Tenpenny may live in Manhattan, but it's not a glamorous existence for her.  She lives in a ramshackle house with her absent minded math genius mother and her grandfather Jack.  But right on page 4, Jack is killed and leaves Theo only with the dying message of "Look under the egg."

    Not much for a 13 year old who is trying to keep it together to go on.  So between gardening, taking care of her chickens and pickling for food, scanning the streets for useful objects and caring for her mother, Theo needs to unravel what her grandfather's wishes were.

    Theo is up in her grandfather's art studio one day trying to figure out the mystery when a mouse runs up her leg and she jumps up and spills some rubbing alcohol on one of Jack's paintings - the painting unlike his other paintings.  The egg.  As Theo desperately tries to clean the rubbing alcohol off, the colors smear and smudge and she is devastated at losing this last bit of Jack.  But when she looks closely she realizes that under the egg, a different painting is revealing itself.  Could this be what Jack's dying words were about?

    Theo is at a neighborhood diner owned by a friend of Jack's where she forms an unlikely friendship with Bodhi - another 13 year old who has just moved down the block and happens to have Hollywood parents.  Where Theo's existence is positively Little House on the Prairie, Bodhi's is the Jetsons in comparison.  Theo surprisingly lets Bodhi in on the secret painting, and soon with Theo's art history knowledge and Bodhi's internet skills, they are on the trail to the truth.

    Woven into the text are explanations of fine art, as well as bits of history involving WWII.  There are also real life bits of NYC living including the Staten Island Ferry, Grace Church, the Met and the Jefferson Market Library.  All of these true things had me actually google Spinney Lane to see if it was one of those Manhattan streets I've walked by a million times but not walked down.

    This is a solid summer mystery with a really fantastic sense of place.

    0 Comments on Under the Egg, by Laura Marx Fitzgerald as of 7/13/2014 2:53:00 PM
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    13. Head over Heart by Colette Victor and writing outside of your experience

    Head over Heart jacketA rich and warm-hearted coming-of-age tale, Head over Heart is an impressive and important debut novel from Colette Victor.

    An adolescent girl is smitten with a boy in her class. But she fears her family would disapprove of her spending time with him. How can she balance her wishes with those of her family? How does she work out what she really feels, when whatever course of action she takes may make someone unhappy?

    Victor’s novel is finely told, with an eye for emotional complexity, but what makes it stand out for me is how very relevant it is today in Britain with all this talk of “British values”; the heroine in this story (which made me cry quietly as I reached the final pages) is a Muslim girl, trying to work out some of the issues any teenager might face to do with friendship, love, lust and just who they see themselves as, who they want to be, but she is having to do this at the same time as trying to find a comfortable place between or across two apparently very different cultures.

    Ideas of what is right or wrong, what is appropriate or not are thoughtfully explored. There are no easy answers, but there’s lots of respect and understanding, quietly woven into the pages. Whilst it is brilliant to see some publishing diversity (how many other novels for young teenagers can you think of with a Muslim main character?), I firmly believe this is story relevant to any adolescent (and indeed any parent of young people just entering that crazy time of their lives when hormones run riot), whatever their cultural or religious background.

    If you enjoyed Anne Booth‘s Girl with a White Dog I’m confident you will love this book, which also explores how life in Britain today is incredibly enriched by the many cultures that find a home here. Pertinent, moving, and at times challenging Head over Heart is a book which makes the world a little better for enabling us to walk in each others shoes and understand our neighbours and ourselves a little more.

    Perhaps the last comments of my review should go to a friend of mine: I lent my copy of Head over Heart to a Muslim friend who first warned me that it might take her ages to read the book. Within pretty much 48 hours she was back: “I couldn’t put down the book!” “Her writing is so beautiful.” “I would definitely give my daughter this.”. She also talked about how for her as a parent who didn’t grow up in the UK (but in Pakistan) it was very interesting and helpful to think about the differences between her own childhood and that of her UK born children.

    Authors write outside their experience all the time but I still felt it would be interesting to hear what Colette Victor had to say about the experience – she was born in South Africa and now lives in Belgium. Here’s what she had to say to me:

    “The magic of being a writer is being able to leave your own predictable and familiar existence to temporarily take up residence inside another person’s skin, a different set of circumstances, a new world all together. If the only viewpoint I was supposed to write from was that of a white, middle-aged South African woman living in Europe, I doubt I’d be doing any writing at all. I certainly wouldn’t have any readers.

    So why did I feel I had the authority to write from the perspective of a Muslim teenage girl living in Europe? Well, it all boils down to my job, really. I live and work as a community worker in an ex-mining city in Belgium with a large immigrant population. I’ve worked with many different groups of people over the years – children, senior citizens, ex-convicts, job seekers, resident groups and mothers. Many of the young people and mothers I work with are of either Turkish or Moroccan origin – their families came out here over fifty years ago to work in the mines. I’ve heard countless personal stories, been inside scores of homes and spent hours in the company of young Muslim girls and their mums. I also spent a lot of time interviewing some of these girls to find out their viewpoint on various issues and, I can tell you, they’re as vast and varied as any other group of women.

    One of the reasons I set out to write Head over heart was because there are so many misconceptions surrounding the headscarf. People often see it as a symbol of female oppression. Through my work I’ve met many proud, strong women who choose to wear a headscarf as a symbol of their identity, despite the opinions for or against it. I know married women, widows, single mums and emancipated university students who wear a headscarf because that’s who they are and not because there’s a man standing in the wings demanding it. On the flip side, I also know many women who would seem Westernised and wear Western clothing but live an existence of subjugation and submissiveness behind the scenes. I know Belgian women, Christian women and atheists – some lead proud, strong lives, some live in fear and submission. Ultimately it’s about looking further than cultural accessories and seeing the person underneath.

    My daughter, Stella, who’s about the same age as Zeyneb, had a Muslim best friend for all her nursery and primary school years. The two girls were always together, doing homework, dressing up, sleeping over at each other’s houses. As my daughter’s friend got older and her body started changing, she often expressed concern about the fact that soon her carefree childhood would be behind her and she’d have to make the choice of wearing a headscarf or not. This is what got me thinking about all the cultural pressures at play in making such a decision and this is what I explored through Zeyneb’s eyes in Head over heart.”

    My thanks go to Colette Victor for her thoughts on this. And thank you – this has been a long post, but I really think this book deserves the time and space I’ve devoted to it dtoday for it is an excellent, thoughtful, and highly relevant début.

    3 Comments on Head over Heart by Colette Victor and writing outside of your experience, last added: 7/11/2014
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    14. The Voice Inside My Head, by S.J. Laidlaw | Book Review

    Seventeen-year-old Luke has always relied on listening to Pat, his elder sister, to help him tackle difficult decisions in life, but when Pat goes missing from a tiny island off the coast of Honduras, Luke doesn’t expect to still have to listen to her words.

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    15. The Crew Goes Coconuts: A Captain No Beard Story: Book 6 | Dedicated Review

    Just like all of the Captain No Beard stories, The Crew Goes Coconuts is super kid-­‐ friendly with bright illustrations. It contains all of the familiar and favorite characters of books past, plus the introduction of Matie the goat, and fans of the series will enjoy boarding the Flying Dragon once again with all of their old friends.

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    16. Made by Raffi by Craig Pomranz & Margaret Chamberlain & other knitting picture books

    Indulge me: Have a quick brainstorm about picture books you know for young kids which explore what it feels like to be different?

    [Go on! Play the game!]
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    Of those you’ve come up with, how many are about emotions rather than physical characteristics?

    How many of them feature humans rather than animals?

    How many of them have a boy lead character rather than a girl?

    [I came up with very few, and even then I needed help from the ever resourceful and generous Letterbox Library. Between us we came up with Oliver by Birgitta Sif, Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero by Anne Cottringer and Alex T Smith, Weslandia by Paul Fleischman and Kevin Hawkes but that was pretty much it.]

    raffifrontcoverSo when Made by Raffi written by Craig Pomranz, illustrated by Margaret Chamberlain (@madgiemadge) appeared in my hands for the first time I sat up and noticed; it’s about a boy who feels he doesn’t quite fit in, for instead of football, his passion is knitting and sewing.

    Although he’s a curious and generous kid, he feels sidelined at school. Unlike most of his classmates, he doesn’t like noise and rough play. But thanks to a supportive teacher he discovers a new passion – making his own clothes. When it is time for the school play could this new skill help him gain the respect of his peers? Without giving the game away, the ending is upbeat, but also authentic. This isn’t a sugar-coated story. (For the really interesting background to the story, take a look at this article).

    This book deserves to be in every school and read in every family for a whole plethora of reasons. It’s bold, tackling gender issues that many adults might skirt around: I love Pomranz daring to use the word “girly“, and it certainly helped us talk about how being a girl interested in ‘boys’ things’ is often more accepted by society than a boy interested in ‘girls’ things’. It’s big hearted; not just the warm, loving family Raffi is part of, but also his supportive school. It shows all sorts of children playing together, with different skin colours and different physical abilities, as well as different interests. It’s a joyously inclusive book, which tackles big themes gently and playfully.

    raffiinside

    Margaret Chamberlain’s illustrations are delightful. She uses colour very cleverly to portray moods and to mirror how much more interesting – indeed colourful – the world is for a diverse range of characters; wouldn’t the world be a dull grey place if we all liked only the same things?

    A book about loneliness, respect, difference, and learning to trust your instincts even when it means you don’t follow the crowd, Made by Raffi is a vital, delightful and unusual book I urge you to share.

    M and J were recently shown how to knit by their Grandma, and reading Made by Raffi offered the ideal opportunity to practice their recently acquired skills. (Here are some Youtube tutorials we found helpful to refresh our memories of what Granny had taught us: Casting on, knit stitch, casting off.

    knitting2

    knitting1

    Having a ball of wool with lots of different colours on it was an effective tool in motivating the kids; each child would knit one or two colours and then hand the needles and ball over to the other. It gave them easy targets to aim for, and I’m sure this is partly why they completed a long scarf far more quickly than I was expecting.

    completedscarf

    Whilst knitting we’ve been listening to:

  • Lots of songs by Raffi (an Egyptian-born Canadian singer-songwriter who creates great kid-friendly music), – here’s a whole playlist on youtube.
  • The Knitting Song by Bill Oddie
  • Knitting by Arthur Askey. Massively old fashioned but a great rumble through all sorts of stitches and garments.

  • Other activities which would go well with reading Made by Raffi include:

  • Learning to finger knit. Here’s the youtube video we used to learn how to fingerknit.
  • Letting the kids embellish their own clothing. I found this the easiest/most satisfying way to let the kids have a go at making something themselves – they chose buttons they liked and sewed them onto a couple of pieces of clothing. Simple sewing but with a relatively big (and ‘real’) result.
  • Making a cloak as described in the story. Alternatively, if you can find a department store selling off curtain samples (eg in John Lewis or House of Fraser), you can pick up pretty much prepared cloaks – all you need to do is add something (eg a large hook and eye) so you can have the cloak safely stay on your shoulders as you zoom around wearing it.
  • If in a school or a library setting, making a display with images of clothes designed by men (Galliano, Versace, Gaultier for example, cut out from glossy magazines) and as the centre pieces place Made by Raffi and The Boy in the Dress by David Walliams. Whilst not for primary school kids, I’d also encourage you to read Boys Don’t Knit by T.S.Easton, a hilarious take on a teenage boy who loves to knit. Ben Fletcher and Raffi would definitely like to meet each other!

  • Other picture /illustrated books which feature knitting include:

  • Socks for supper by Jack Kent
  • Knitting Nell by Julie Jersild Roth
  • Mr. Nick’s knitting by Margaret Wild and Dee Huxley
  • Shall I knit you a hat? : a Christmas yarn by Kate Klise and M Sarah Klise
  • Derek, the knitting dinosaur by Mary Blackwood and Kerry Argent
  • Annie Hoot and the knitting extravaganza by Holly Clifton-Brown
  • Mrs. McDockerty’s knitting by Ruth Martinez and Catherine O’Neill
  • Noodle’s knitting by Sheryl Webster and Caroline Pedler
  • The knitting of Elizabeth Amelia by Patricia Lee Gauch and Barbara Lavallee
  • Knitty Kitty by David Elliott and Christopher Denise
  • The truly terribly horrible sweater that Grandma knit by Debbie Macomber, Mary Lou Carney and Vincent Nguyen
  • Carrie measures up! by Linda Williams Aber and Joy Allen
  • knittingpicbooks1

  • Pa Jinglebob, the fastest knitter in the West by Mary Arrigan and Korky Paul
  • Pa Jinglebob and the Grabble Gang by Mary Arrigan and Korky Paul
  • The best little knitter in the West by Sermsah Bin Saad and Samantha Cook
  • The three billy goats Fluff by Rachael Mortimer and Liz Pichon
  • The long red scarf by Nette Hilton and Margaret Power
  • It’s gone, Jac! by Rob Lewis
  • A winter’s yarn by Kathleen Cook Waldron and Deborah Turney Zagwyn
  • Love from Woolly : a lift-the-flap book of woolly gifts by Nina Michaels and Nicola Smee
  • Pelle’s New Suit by Elsa Beskow
  • Milo Armadillo by Jan Fearnley
  • knittingpicbooks2

    If you like the sound of Made by Raffi and are anywhere near Edinburgh in August, don’t miss the chance to meet author Craig Pomranz talking about his book as part of the Edinburgh Book Festival.

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book from the publishers.

    3 Comments on Made by Raffi by Craig Pomranz & Margaret Chamberlain & other knitting picture books, last added: 7/2/2014
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    17. A Soccer (or Football) Sleepover in Brazil: Sleepover at the World Cup in Brazil

    A Soccer (or Football) Sleepover in Brazil is part of the Global Sleepover series of interactive storybooks that aim to introduce young readers to different countries and cultures.

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    18. That Cat who came in off the Roof by Annie M. G. Schmidt

    Mr Tibbles – a shy reporter on the local newspaper – has been threatened with the sack. It’s perhaps no surprise: Mr Tibbles is mad about cats, and all his stories end up revolving around felines one way or another. What his editor wants, however, is news!

    Photo: Sarah

    Photo: Sarah

    An act of kindness brings Mr Tibbles into contact with Minoe, a rather strange young woman who appears to be able to talk to cats. Through the town’s network of feline pets and strays Minoe starts starts to deliver interesting titbits of exclusive news to Mr Tibbles; cats across the city overhear all sorts of conversations often revealing juicy gossip and insider information, and when Minoe learns of these pieces of news from kitty comrades, she passes them on to her friend the reporter.

    Mr Tibble’s job is looking up until he uncovers information which could lead to the downfall of a local powerful businessman. Will the reporter be brave enough to expose the evil goings on? Will he be believed, when his only witnesses are pussy cats?

    Copy_of_Cover_Cat_who_came_in_off_the_RoofA funny and yet quietly profound tale of courage, friendship and what it really means to be human, The Cat Who Came in off the Roof, by Annie M. G. Schmidt, translated by David Colmer is a gem of a story. Ideal for fans of The Hundred and One Dalmatians, or cross-species tales of identity such as Stellaluna or Croc and Bird, this book would make an especially good class read-aloud, with lots of opportunities to discuss what life looks like from different perspectives, helping readers and listeners walk in another’s shoes, as well as perhaps learning a thing or to about overcoming shyness, and how to stand up for what you believe in.

    From the mangy, feisty stray cat who you end up rooting for, to the hilarious school cat with a penchant for history lessons and a slight;y different (some might say out-dated) understanding of the term ‘news’, Schmidt has populated her story with a super array of characters. The narrative beautifully unfolds with unseen and fine tuning, climaxing with an exciting and rich ending which is deeply satisfying even though not everything is tied up neatly and not all strands end happily. Despite plenty of kittens and purring, this book never patronises its readership.

    Knowing the original Dutch language version as we do as a family, I can also comment on the gorgeous translation. Colmer has wittily and cleverly translated linguistic and cultural jokes. His phrase ‘miaow-wow’ for when the cats meet up for a big parley is genius and has now entered our family parlance. If I nitpick I might personally have chosen -thorpe rather than -thorn for the Dutch -doorn, when translating the town’s name but I feel mean mentioning this as Colmer’s voice is pitch-perfect; at no point will you notice the text as a translation for it reads authentically and smoothly.

    This must-read book will make you laugh out loud (whether you are a dog person or a cat fan). It will make you feel like for a brief moment you’ve witnessed and understood the best of humanity. It may also make you rather nervous next time you find a cat sitting ever so quietly next to you whilst you are having a private conversation!

    I do so hope Pushkin Press are now thinking about translating Schmidt’s earlier work, Ibbeltje, which shares many characteristics with The Cat Who Came in off the Roof and has the added advantage of brilliant illustrations by another glittering star in the Dutch children’s literature firmament: Fiep Westendorp.

    For reasons which will become clear upon reading this charming and magical book Minoe not only can speak the language of cats, she is also known to climb trees when dogs approach. It took about a nanosecond for M to decide she wanted to play-by-this-particular-book by climbing as many different trees as she could one afternoon at the weekend. So, armed with a local map (printed from http://www.openstreetmap.org/) we set off to map all the local trees good for climbing in.

    tree1

    Each tree we climbed we identified (it seems that around us oaks, ash and willow are the best climbing trees).

    tree2

    We remembered the last time we deliberately climbed trees in order to read on location.

    tree3

    Getting out and climbing a tree? Reading a truly terrific book? What more could you ask for as a lovely way to while a way a few hours!

    Whilst climbing we weren’t listening to music, but these tracks could go with reading The Cat Who Came in off the Roof:

  • This Cat’s On A Hot Tin Roof by Brian Setzer
  • Everybody Wants to be a Cat from The Aristocats film
  • The Cat theme from Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf

  • Other activities which you might be inspired to try alongside reading The Cat Who Came in off the Roof include:

  • Reading more books in more trees. The very first I’d have to recommend are the Toby books by Timothee de Fombelle, about an entire world of miniature people having giant adventures in an oak tree.
  • Walking around your neighbourhood and greeting the cats you come across. Could you create a backstory for each one? What are they called? What do they get up to when you’re not there?
  • Writing a family newspaper. This is potentially a super project for the summer holidays – and you can get some great tips and downloadables to get you going from this post over on Playful Learning.
  • When did you last climb a tree? What secrets might your cat be able to tell me ;-) ?

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of The Cat who Came in off the Roof from the publisher.

    And briefly…. thank you with all my heart to all of you who commented on my last post, or got in touch via email, phone, snail mail and more. Life goes on and plots are being hatched and plans being laid. As and when I can reveal more I’ll be sure to let you know the latest.

    3 Comments on That Cat who came in off the Roof by Annie M. G. Schmidt, last added: 6/29/2014
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    19. Seven Stories Up, by Laurel Snyder | Book Review

    In Seven Stories Up, Laurel Snyder combines humor and friendship to spin a rich story of adventure, sprinkled with Snyder’s signature magic and mystery.

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    20. The Blue Baboon in the Big Balloon, by Sarah Mostyn & Steven Mostyn | Dedicated Review

    The Blue Baboon in the Big Balloon by Sarah & Steven Mostyn is well suited as a read aloud book or for young readers.

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    21. Stink and the Shark Sleepover - an audiobook review

    I don't feature many early chapter books here, but I had the opportunity to review this one for the June, 2014, issue of School Library Journal.  An excerpt of my review is below.

    McDonald, Megan. 2014. Stink and the Shark Sleepover. 2 CDs.  Brilliance Audio.
    Read by Barbara Rosenblat. About 1 hour on CD or mp3 download.


    Stink's family and several of his friends have won a sleepover at the local aquarium. Everything is going swimmingly until the aquarium guide tells the story of "Bloody Mary," the undead vampire squid locked behind the door marked "Do Not Enter." Between worrying about Bloody Mary and the fact that his best friend Sophie's hermit crab is missing, Stink may never fall asleep!

    Copyright © 2014 Library Journals, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. Reprinted with permission.
    ###
    Interspersed throughout are facts on sharks and other aquatic creatures, and a brief history of the "Bloody Mary" ghost story featured in the book.

    The first few books in the Stink series were narrated by Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson).  Barbara Rosenblat is the current narrator.
    Listen to an excerpt here.
    Read a sample here.

    There are now seventeen books in the Stink series, and he even has his own website, Stink Moody. Both are testament to the popularity of the fictional Judy Moody's little brother.


    Note:
    I don't have a Nonfiction Monday post today, but you can check out all of today's offerings at the Nonfiction Monday blog, always a great resource for the latest in children's nonfiction.


    0 Comments on Stink and the Shark Sleepover - an audiobook review as of 6/16/2014 6:49:00 PM
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    22. Best Friends Fovever: A World War II Scrapbook by Beverly Patt

    I love to look at scrapbooks.  They tell so much in the words and pictures the person keeping the scrapbook chooses to use.  I always had scrapbooks for school, camp, and family when I was growing up.  The 1940s was also a time when scrapbooks were a  popular way of remembering important people, events and other things.

    Louise Krueger, 14, begins her scrapbook on April 24, 1942, the day her best friend Dottie Masuaka has just left their Seattle neighborhood with her family to be ?relocated" along with everyone else who is Japanese or Japanese American until the world war is over.   But no one knows what relocation mean and where it is.

    Through pictures, journal entries, newspaper clippings, and various mementos that Louise pastes into her scrapbook, the reader learns about how the Japanese were forced to sell homes, furniture, businesses and cars they had worked so hard to get for a fraction of their worth on very short notice;  the kinds of appalling living conditions in slapped together huts or horse stalls they were put into and the attitude of many Americans towards anyone who was Japanese.

    But the reader also gets a picture of what life was like for kids during those first few months of war.  New wartime restrictions quickly go into effect: rationing gas and a rubber shortage (tires were impossible to get) means trips are only taken when absolutely necessary; mixing yellow coloring into the white oleo to make it look like butter, the flyer from a Japanese Exclusion meeting about "keeping America for Americans."

    Louise also keeps all of Dottie's letters which talk about camp life, her grandfather's difficulty with what has happened, and many of them contain drawing she makes of camp life.  Louise also keeps the program from the May Day Performance and her confirmation, two events she and Dottie had been looking for.  And there's lots of realia - ribbons, notes from friends, flowers, movie stubs.

    And, of course, there is talk of boys.  Louise meet a young man who lied about his age to join the Army and ended up in a hospital; Dottie is surprised that a boy they had thought annoying has matured in the camp and the possibility of a camp romance is hinted at.

    But then suddenly in September 1942 the letters stop.  And no one is more surprised than Louise and Dottie when they discover why.

    This is an interesting way to look at the war.  Anyone of Japanese ancestry was sent to an internment camp aftg\er the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7, 1941.  Though the story is fiction, Beverly Patt got her idea for Best Friends Forever from a story her mother told her as a child and got the details of what it was like for Japanese Americans sent to the internment camps from a couple name Dave and Margaret Masuoka.  The Masuokas gave Patt lots of details that helped her create and give depth and a sense of authenticity to the character of Dottie.  You can read more about how Patt researched and created the scrapbook Louise keeps in an interview at Discover Nikkei.

    Be sure to read the Author's Note at the back of the book where Patt gives more background information for writing Best Friends Forever.  And she includes an interesting Bibliography for anyone who might want more information about the internment of the Japanese during WWII.

    This is a wonderful book for introducing this aspect of WWII history to young readers and to help that, you will find a very useful Teacher's Guide HERE.

    This book is recommended for readers age 9+
    This book was borrowed from the NYPL

    0 Comments on Best Friends Fovever: A World War II Scrapbook by Beverly Patt as of 6/17/2014 9:41:00 AM
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    23. #594 – Return to Canterbury by Melissa Ann Goodwin

    return to canterbury.

    Return to Canterbury

    by Melissa Ann Goodwin

    Melissa Ann Goodwin, publisher     12/20/2013

    978-1-49234887-2

    Age 8 to 12          270 pages

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    “Things have settled down for thirteen-year-old Jamie Reynolds since last Christmas. That’s when he time-traveled to 1932 and wound up in the town of Canterbury, Vermont. There he met Kelly and Christopher Pennysworth, who quickly became his best friends. Back in his own time again, he misses them every day. But as the July 4th, 2008 holiday approaches, the biggest black cloud still hovering over Jamie’s life is the mystery of what happened to his dad, who has been missing or almost a year.

    “Little does Jamie know that he will soon reunite with Kelly and Christopher for an adventure even bigger than their last. Together they’ll uncover a secret plot that threatens to destroy Canterbury. But will they be able to stop it before it’s too late? And will Jamie finally solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance? Return to Canterbury with us and find out!”

     Opening

    “Dear Jamie, writing you another letter, even though I know you’ll never get to read it. But there’s ever so much going on in Canterbury these days and it seems strange not to be able to tell you about it. I miss you awfully, and writing to you almost makes me feel like we’ve talked. Almost.”

    The Story

    Jamie returns to Canterbury after seeing a picture of himself at the time capsule during the 4th of July celebrations—in 1935. He is standing with Kelly and Christopher, who he befriended in the first story entitled The Christmas Village. Jamie also sees a photograph that looks just like his dad, also from 1935. He knows he will be time-traveling again, this time to bring back his dad. What he doesn’t know just yet is that he will help foil a plan to put Canterbury underwater to form a hydroelectric power plant. To make that happen, a big shot from New York has to buy up the local farmland from farmers who will not sell. But this new “villain” has a plan that will make that problem go away.  Jamie, Kelly, and Christopher set out to foil all of the plans, safekeeping Canterbury for future generations.

    Review

    I have not read The Christmas Village, though now I would like to read it. The sequel to that story, Return to Canterbury, can stand on its own. The author does a good job getting the reader up to speed without the reader feeling they are reading old material. It is 2008 and Jamie has meet the 88-year-old Kelly. Just last year, twelve-year-old Jamie meet ten-year-old Kelly.  Now she is 88, which is a strange situation for Jamie. Kelly knows what will happen when Jamie returns to Canterbury but cannot tell him for fear of changing the past, thus changing the present and future. This leads to one of a few holes in the story that did bother me, but did not destroy the great fun I had reading the story. It caused a momentary, “Wait. That can’t be right,” and a halt in reading.

    Jamie is now in present-day Canterbury. When he goes back to 1935 Canterbury and the prospect of Mr. Boggs—the guy from New York with plans to flood Canterbury for a hydroelectric power plant—Jamie should realize, from the current Canterbury, that the 1935 plan fails, yet the three kids put themselves in great harm to stop the plan. True, if Jamie had not helped, maybe the future would have changed, but it is odd that he doesn’t at least realize all will turn out okay based on present day Canterbury, where he had just left. I suppose this and the other two holes are the ultimate definition of suspending one’s beliefs.

    Since I am on the subject, the one hole involves the first book, The Christmas Village. In that one, it is 2007 and Jamie travels to Canterbury 1932 after staring at his grandmother’s Christmas Village. In the sequel, Return to Canterbury, Jamie tells of his father after the two return from 1935. For one, his dad learned woodworking, making his mother the Christmas Village, the same one Jamie used in 2007 to transport to 1932, but not built until 2010. The Christmas Village could not have existed in 2007. The editor should have picked up on this and request a change.

    The other involves Jamie and his dad’s returning from 1935 to the present 2008. They touch something that Jamie writes in 2008 while with Kelly’s granddaughter Kendall. The message could not have been anywhere in 1935, yet there it is. How? Suspending one’s beliefs and ignoring the inconsistencies that occasionally appear was necessary for me, yet the story of Jamie’s Return to Canterbury is very good. The writing is excellent. No typos or misspells to stall one’s reading. Editing is also good, except for the inconsistencies not caught. The story is a fun read. The three kids solving the crime and capturing the bad guys is much fun.

    I like the 1930’s Canterbury, where everyone knows everyone and people gather to help each other as much as to celebrate. Jamie learns a few secrets, which turn out to be wonderful gems. I read this in two sittings, anxious to nab the diabolical Mr. Boggs and to find out what Jamie and his dad put in the time capsule—which would be opened a mere two years after they both return home to 2008.

    Return to Canterbury felt like a gift. The story is a good old-fashioned tale about a good old-fashioned village of gentle (not genteel) people, loving and helping each other, though not legally or biologically related. Return to Canterbury gives one hope for the future—not about time travel but about the goodness of people.  It is also a story that will have some reminiscing and others longing for days as nice as in Canterbury. Return to Canterbury is an intriguing story solved by three industrious kids who each bring something different to the story.

    Kids will enjoy Return to Canterbury. It is perfect middle grade fare. Jamie, Kelly, and Christopher are a solid team. Though each is great on his own, it is not enough without the other two. Teamwork, friendship, family, community, family-by-choice, time-travel, and a simpler life are all important in Return to Canterbury. I highly recommend this story. I bet The Christmas Village,which started the series, is just as worthy of your time

    ** I apologize. I try each week to shorten these reviews, but some books I have much I want to say, mainly to convince you the book is worth your time to read. Deciding what to leave out is beyond difficult. It has become nearly impossible.

    RETURN TO CANTERBURY. Text copyright © 2013 by Melissa Ann Goodwin. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Melissa Ann Goodwin, Andover, MA.

    Buy Return to Canterbury at AmazonB&NBook DepositorySmashbooks—author’s website—your local bookstore.

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    Learn more about Return to Canterbury HERE.

    Meet the author, Melissa Ann Goodwin, at her website:  http://authormelissaanngoodwin.blogspot.com/

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    Also by Melissa Ann Goodwin

    The Christmas Village

    The Christmas Village

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    THE CHRISTMAS VILLAGE won the 2013 BLOGGER BOOK FAIR READER’S CHOICE AWARD for children’s action/adventure.

     

     

     

    return to canterbury


    Filed under: 5stars, Favorites, Historical Fiction, Library Donated Books, Middle Grade, Series Tagged: 1930's Canterbury Vermont, arson, children's book reviews, family of choice, friendship, hydroelectric power stations, Melissa Ann Goodwin, middle grade novel, time capsules, time travel

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    24. Kissing in Italian, by Lauren Henderson | Book Review

    This enchanting romp through the Italian countryside will have any girl, or girl at heart, melting with jealousy. Cute Italian boys and breathtakingly described scenery will make readers want to grab their passports.

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    25. Loot: How to Steal a Fortune - a review


    Watson, Jude. 2014. Loot: How to Steal a Fortune. New York: Scholastic.
    (Advance Reader Copy)

    After my book club meets tomorrow, my Loot will be long gone. Here's a quick preview before it's snatched up.

    It begins with a foreboding prophecy regarding stolen semiprecious moonstones:

    You will be caught tonight and made to pay.
    Death by water, before the moon is set.
    Before the passage of thirteen years, the two birthed together will die together.

    Two of the prophecies have already come true. Two thieves are dead.

    Now, 12-year-old March, son of a thief, must figure out the mystery with no other assets than a getaway bag, some cryptic clues, and remembered advice from his deceased father,

    Never trust a guy who says, "Trust me."
    Never give your real name to a cop.
    Never let someone steal your getaway car.
    If you think nothing can go wrong, you'd better think again.

    March, his twin sister, and fellow foster home escapees, Izzy and Darius, will match wits with jewel thieves, fences, cops, and millionaires in a desperate search for answers and the mysterious moonstones. This is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller with plenty of plot twists and intrigue—a globe-trotting trek with its roots in the underbelly of New York City.


    Due on a shelf near you June 24, 2014.
    For grades 3-7
    272 pages

    0 Comments on Loot: How to Steal a Fortune - a review as of 6/25/2014 9:27:00 AM
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