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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: grandparents, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 58
1. Sharing a Read-Aloud Between Grandparents and Grandchildren

Do you have grandmother memories that you treasure? I have so many, and luckily for me, as I launch my new picture book, My Bibi Always Remembers, about a grandmother elephant and her little grandbaby, I have a reason to revisit them all!

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2. Lights, camera. . .CAKE!


I ask a lot of my kids.

I ask them to read manuscripts and give me feedback. I ply them (and their friends) with questions about the age-appropriateness of certain (sometimes embarrassing) grade school behaviors. I make them stop what they're doing and quickly write down a story idea when I'm elbow-deep in potting soil or cooking dinner (or in the shower) and can't jot it down myself.

They put up with all of it, as I imagine most offspring of children's book writers do—and I'm grateful.

Recently though, I asked more of them than ever. "Um, girls how do you feel about standing in a hot kitchen in the middle of summer for four hours while three strangers make you crack and egg nine times in a row?"

Well of course, I didn't say it like that. 

It was more like, "Guess what?! You get to be on YouTube! Eating cake!"

As it happened, the experience was much closer to the latter than the former. With the help of a brilliant group of filmmakers—writer/ producer/director Leigh Medeiros, cinematographer JJ Rok, and sound tech Tebello Rose—we created a little piece of art, for our little piece of art.

Baking Day at Grandma's is a very personal story. It's based on memories of my Grandma Rose, as well as the baking traditions my mom began with our girls. The art is inspired by the Adirondack region of New York, specifically Lake George, where I spent summers (and quite a few winters weeks) as a child. Each spread contains a nod to our families—Grandma Bear's cabin, touches of her furniture, the cookbook, the victrola—all come from the people and places we love. It's a love letter to our family, and a celebration I hope many readers and families will enjoy. As we set out to make the book trailer, we hoped to capture the personal nature of the book, to let readers know that like Grandma Rosie's chocolate cake—the book was made with love.

When the day of the shoot came, I felt confident in our concept. Like any gifted documentarian, Leigh had spent a great deal of time getting to know my story. She'd browsed old photos with me, and listened as I recounted memories of baking with my grandma. She hadn't wanted to over-script it. Sure, we had a shot list and some talking points, but the real gems were going to be found in the unscripted moments, we decided.

If I had one concern going into the day, it was about the kids. Would they freeze up? Look at the camera too much? Get grumpy? Especially my little one. She's three and generally well behaved, but...well... she's three.

Both Leigh and JJ did a wonderful job making the kids (and all of us) feel comfortable. When I asked for some direction before we began, Leigh smiled and said to me, "Just bake a cake, and don't worry about us." I wasn't sure it would be possible, with the lights and the big boom mic and the camera pointing at us, but to my amazement, once the measuring and the mixing began, we did sort of forget about the camera. I was a mom, baking with my kids. It was fun! And messy. Flour dusted every surface; there were egg shells in the sink and splatters of chocolate cake batter on our aprons. It was the the real deal, not the scrubbed up version. (Ok, I admit, I cleaned my house for two days before the crew arrived, but the baking scene was authentic.)

The kids did great! And most importantly, they enjoyed it. Now, in addition to a lovely book trailer, I have a little time capsule to help me remember the sounds, spills, giggles, bloopers and joy of baking with my girls.

It's really a pleasure to get to share this heartfelt collaboration with the you. Thanks for cheering us on, spreading the word, and making the homestretch of this book's journey to publication so delicious! I'll say thank you in every way I can think of, including offering free baking day recipe cards and gift tags if you'd like to host your own baking day at home, or make a special treat with grandparents for Grandparent's Day on September 7th.

For bookstores, libraries, classrooms and home-schoolers, I'll soon be adding a downloadable story hour kit to my website, which includes a Baking Day at Grandma's song (!!!) composed and recorded by my talented friends at Little Hands, reading prompts, activities, posters, crafts, snack suggestions—everything you'll need to get kids, reading, dancing, singing and connecting with the book.

For bloggers, I'll have an extra-special Baking Day at Grandma's giveaway (to be revealed soon)!

I hope you'll stay tuned as we cook (and bake) up new goodies and giveaways! (One great way to keep up to date and connected is to join my new mailing list.)

Until then, happy reading and baking! Here's a peek at the book trailer. . .




0 Comments on Lights, camera. . .CAKE! as of 8/7/2014 6:42:00 PM
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3. Abuelo: Arthur Dorros & Raul Colon

Book: Abuelo
Author: Arthur Dorros
Illustrator: Raul Colon
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4-8

Abuelo by Arthur Dorros, illustrated by Raul Colon, is a quiet picture book about the relationship between a boy and his grandfather. They live somewhere in the country, where they ride horses, camp, and encounter wildlife. Later, the boy and his parents move to the city, leaving Abuelo behind. However, the skills that Abuelo has taught the boy (such as standing his ground) come in handy in his new life, too. 

Dorros blends English and Spanish words in the text, including translations for key words and phrases. Like this:

"We would ride into the clouds,
with the sky, "el cielo,"
wrapped around us."

and this:

At night, we could see forever.
"Mira", look, he would tell me,
reaching his hands to the stars."

Even after the boy moves to the city, he still includes the Spanish translations for the things that he sees, though he perhaps does this a bit less. 

Colon's watercolor and colored pencil illustrations are warm and deeply textured, cast in desert palettes of browns, grays, and sage green. There's a nostalgic feel to the pictures - this is a book that could be set now or 40 years ago. My favorite illustration is that one at the end of the book. The boy rides a bike, with the shadow of his Abuelo riding alongside him. I can't describe it, but Colon captured this perfectly. 

Abuelo is about family and culture, moving away and growing up. It's a book that introduces readers to a different environment, while touching on universal truths (the fear of getting lost, the need to stand up to bullies). Abuelo is well worth a look, particularly for library purchase. 

Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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4. Three Bird Summer: Sara St. Antoine

Book: Three Bird Summer
Author: Sara St. Antoine
Pages: 256
Age Range: 10 to 14

Three Bird Summer by Sara St. Antoine is a lovely book about the summer that a 12 year old boy spends at his grandmother's cabin on Three Bird Lake in Minnesota. It's a quiet sort of book about an introspective kid, but St. Antoine manages to touch upon the challenges families face as grandparents age, the aftermath of divorce, and the tentative first steps of boy-girl relationships. There's also a small mystery, and even a treasure map. It's a coming-of-age story, though without major drama. 

In truth, the subject matter of Three Bird Summer felt a bit ... familiar, with echoes of Cynthia Lord's Half a Chance and Karen Day's A Million Miles from Boston, and even Jeanne Birdsall's The Penderwicks at Point Mouette. Summer stories all, featuring kids of a similar age range. But the sheer beauty of St. Antoine's writing, as well as her choice to feature a male protagonist, make Three Bird Summer stand out. 

Adam is a fine narrator, a little geeky, a little lazy, and baffled by the behavior of girls. His initially reluctant friendship with new neighbor Alice, and the oh-so-gradual dawning of "more than friend" feelings, is utterly believable. Alice and her parents are, perhaps, a tiny bit too good to be true, but I love that she spent the previous summer at a science camp for girls, and that she chafes under the yoke of her over-protective parents. Adam's mother and grandmother are well-drawn, too, with flaws as well as surprises. 

Three Bird Summer perfectly captures the feel of a rustic summer lake house. Like this:

"Mom lingered in the kitchen while I hauled my duffel through the main part of the cabin, breathing in the familiar smell of wood paneling and fireplace cinders. Everything was in its usual place." (Page 10)

and

"A cool breeze crossed the water. It felt like the great North was barreling through me with my every breath. Here's what slipped away: schedules, bus rides, the stale smell of the school cafeteria, algebraic equations, Mom and Dad's phone arguments, girl talk, and Grandma's interrogations. Here's what I got in exchange: water sloshing slowly and steadily against the dock like the heartbeat of a great whale. A pair of black-and-white loons swimming into view. Fresh air and a lake that, right then, felt like it was all mine." (Page 16)

Reading the above passage, I could practically feel the tension leaving Adam's shoulders. Three Bird Summer is filled with passages that I wanted to save, long and short. Like this:

"Mom turned around and we began paddling again, but not in a getting-there sort of way -- more like a being-there sort of way." (Page 199)

For the rest, you'll have to read the book. Three Bird Summer is a book to read on your front porch on a warm summer day (or, even better, on a dock floating in a lake in your bathing suit). It's about growing up, the ways that family relationships change, and young love. It's beautifully written, with a strong sense of place, and well-rounded characters. While Three Bird Summer is clearly a book that will appeal to adult readers, I hope that kids find it and love it, too. Despite the male protagonist, Three Bird Summer certainly has as much appeal for girls as for boys. Recommended! 

Publisher: Candlewick (@Candlewick)
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2014 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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5. #539 – Two Hands to Love You by Diane Adams & Paige Keiser

TWO HANDS TO LOVE YOU.

Two Hands to Love You

by Diane Adams & Paige Keiser, illustrator

Chronicle Books      2014

978-0-8118-7797-8

Age 4 to 8     36 pages

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

Opening

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

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

The Story

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

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

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

Review

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

mom

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

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

dad

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

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

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

kids

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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Also by Paige Keiser

The Little Green Pea

The Little Green Pea

One Night In Bethlehem

One Night In Bethlehem

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. I Love My Hat (October 2014)

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NEW from Chronicle Books

I Didn't Do My Homework Because . . .

I Didn’t Do My Homework Because . . .

 Peek-a Zoo

Peek-a Zoo

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2 hands to love you

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Today is National Library Workers Day

Be extras nice to those who staff your library!


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

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6. Heaven Is Paved with Oreos: Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Book: Heaven Is Paved with Oreos
Author: Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Pages: 208
Age Range: 10-14

I loved, loved, loved Catherine Gilbert Murdock's books about D.J. Schwenk (Dairy Queen, The Off Season, and Front and Center). So when I heard that Murdock had written a book called Heaven is Paved with Oreos, for a slightly younger audience, I scooped it up. I didn't even realize until reading a review at Book Nut last week that this new book is set in the Schwenk universe. What a lovely and unexpected gift!

Heaven is Paved with Oreos is told in journal fashion from the viewpoint of Sarah Zorn, best friend and science partner of D.J.'s younger brother, Curtis. It's the summer before freshman year, and Sarah and Curtis are pretending to be boyfriend and girlfriend, so that people will stop asking them if they are boyfriend and girlfriend. But Sarah is a bit concerned about another girl from their class who appears to want to be Curtis' real girlfriend, making Sarah self-conscious about, say, going to Curtis' baseball games. Meanwhile, Sarah's grandmother, who everyone calls Z, invites Sarah to accompany her on a week-long pilgrimage to Rome. The trip turns out to be a bit more than Sarah bargained for, but it certainly contributes to her emotional growth over the course of the summer.

So, basically Heaven is Paved with Oreos is a coming of age story, a book about family, and a book about taking baby steps towards boy-girl relationships. It falls to the upper end of middle grade, I think, given the 14-year-old narrator, and a storyline involving the father of Z's illegitimate child, born some 45 years earlier. But it is absolutely perfect for middle school-age readers, I think. 

I fear that some fans of the Dairy Queen books will be a bit disappointed by Heaven is Paved with Oreos, because the content is a bit less mature. But personally, I was happy to be spending time back in D.J.'s universe, however I got there. I found myself reading Heaven is Paved with Oreos slowly, because I was just so happy to be spending time with the characters. D.J. is a character in this book, someone Sarah looks up to and gets advice from. But Murdock is quite clear throughout that this is Sarah's story. It's not necessary to have read the Dairy Queen books to read this one, though it undoubtedly enhances appreciation of the book.

One thing that I especially liked about Heaven is Paved with Oreos is how Murdock handles the journal style storyline. She tells you, briefly and without taking you out of the story, where Sarah is when she's writing each journal entry. There's an entry, then she goes somewhere and writes there, then she goes home and writes there, and so on. This lends an immediacy to the narration that works well. One might think to question whether a fourteen-year-old girl would really sit in a cafe in Rome writing in her journal. But Sarah is a strong enough character to totally pull it off. 

I LOVE that Sarah is interested in science. That's the source of the bond between Sarah and Curtis, a mutual fascination with physical science (studying animal skeletons, and so on). She's also just ... secure in who she is. She has things she is working on, sure, but she's happy to eat nothing but vanilla ice cream, for instance, and work on projects that other people think are disgusting. Here are a couple of snippets, to give you a feel for Sarah's voice:

"I wanted to be sympathetic -- Paul looked so upset -- but I could not help being reasonable. Reasonableness is a byproduct of a scientific mind." (Page 11-12)

Oh, I would have been friends with Sarah when I was fourteen. And this:

"Lady Z does not eat anything made with wheat. She says the hardest part was giving up Oreos, but they are made with wheat flour, so even though they are absolutely delicious and perfect, they're out. If I ever stopped eating wheat, I would make a rule that I could only be 99% wheatless. The last 1% I would leave for Oreos." (Page 16).

Curtis is, well, Curtis. For a character who says hardly anything, he still feels completely himself. Like this: 

"I nodded. Curtis stared at the floor, but that is not unusual for him." (Page 26). 

Lady Z is more complex. I like that though she's larger-than-life (not at all a regular grandma), she's also clearly flawed. Part of Sarah's growing up throughout the book involves coming to terms with the fact that you can love someone even if they aren't perfect. As Z is not. 

Fans of Murdock's books about D.J. Schwenk will definitely want to give Heaven is Paved with Oreos a look. I loved it, and plan to keep my copy for when Baby Bookworm is older. There are spoilers for the Dairy Queen books, so even though this newest book is appropriate for a somewhat younger audience, readers unfamiliar with the series may want to wait to read the Dairy Queen books first. I think that the whole series is wonderful. 

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHBooks)
Publication Date: September 3, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

FTC Required Disclosure:

This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook

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7. National Grandparents Day Tribute

By Georgia Mierswa


Oxford University Press would like to take a moment to honor all grandparents, great-grandparents, and beyond, acknowledging the often extraordinary efforts (more are primary caregivers than ever before in history!) required to build and sustain a family. The information and statistics below have been drawn from numerous articles on the significance of grandparents in the Encyclopedia of Social Work online.

At the turn of the 20th century, only 6% of 10-year-olds had all four grandparents alive, compared with 41% in 2000 (Bengtson, Putney, & Wakeman, 2004). Accordingly, more adults are grandparents and, increasingly, great-grandparents, although they have proportionately fewer grandchildren than preceding generations.

Tanyasukhotina

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) with his granddaughter in Yasnaya Polyana.
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Among parents aged 90 and older, 90% are grandparents and nearly 50% are great-grandparents, with some women experiencing grandmotherhood for more than 40 years. This is because the transition to grandparenthood typically occurs in middle age, not old age, with about 50% of all grandparents younger than 60 years. As a result, there is wide diversity among grandparents, who vary in age from their late 30s to over 100 years old, with grandchildren ranging from newborns to retirees.

Queen Henriette Marie with her daughter

Queen Henriette Marie with her daughter, granddaughter and son in law from the Family of Louis XIV. Painting by Jean Nocret (1615-1672).
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

 

While managing conditions related to their own aging process, many older adults assume caregiving responsibilities. In fact, about half of all individuals aged 55–64 spend an average of 580 hours per year caring for family members (Johnson & Schaner, 2005a).

Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller Großmutter mit drei Enkelkindern 1854

Großmutter mit drei Enkelkindern, signiert Waldmüller - Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller (1793-1835). 
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Grandparents may have primary responsibility for raising grandchildren. About 2.5 million grandparents have responsibility for raising one or more grandchildren within the same household (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). Additionally, over 40% of grandparents in a custodial role are over 60 years of age (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010).

The First Steps 1889

“The First Steps”. Georgios Jakobides (1853-1932).
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Most grandparents derive satisfaction from their role and interaction with grandchildren (Reitzes & Mutran, 2004; Uhlenberg, 2004).

430px-The_Naughty_Grandson

The Naughty Grandson by Georgios Jakobides (1853-1932).
Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

 

With over 2.4 million custodial grandparents providing primary care, skipped-generation households—the absence of the parent generation—are currently the fastest growing type. Among the challenges are reductions in free time, limitations on housing options, increased demands on resources, and even situations where the retiree needs to return to work to support this new family situation.

India - Varanasi old food seller and granddaughter - 0604

Old food seller and his granddaughter Varanasi Benares India.
Photo by Jorge Royan. Creative Commons License. via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Grandparent caregivers have been called the “silent saviors” of the family.

Mohov Mihail Grandmother and Granddaughter

Mohov Mihail (1819-1903). Grandmother and granddaughter.
Public domain via Wikipedia Commons.

 

As a result of longer life expectancy, many of today’s families are multigenerational. Parents and children now share five or six decades of life, siblings may share eight or nine decades of life, and the grandparent–grandchild bond may last three or four decades.

As Bengston notes, longer years of shared living may offer a multigenerational kinship network to provide family continuity and stability across time as well as instrumental and emotional support in times of need.

FDR grandparents uncles

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Delano grandparents, uncles, and cousins in Newburgh, New York. Photo provided by Franklin D. Roosevelt Library (NLFDR), National Archives and Records Administration. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Georgia Mierswa is a marketing associate at Oxford University Press. She began working at OUP in September 2011.

The Encyclopedia of Social Work is the first continuously updated online collaboration between the National Association of Social Workers (NASW Press) and Oxford University Press (OUP). Building off the classic reference work, a valuable tool for social workers for over 85 years, the online resource of the same name offers the reliability of print with the accessibility of a digital platform. Over 400 overview articles, on key topics ranging from international issues to ethical standards, offer students, scholars, and practitioners a trusted foundation for a lifetime of work and research, with new articles and revisions to existing articles added regularly.

Subscribe to the OUPblog via email or RSS.
Subscribe to only social work articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.

The post National Grandparents Day Tribute appeared first on OUPblog.

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8. Intelligent reading – Comprehension in young children

Reading – we all recognise it as a core skill. By ‘intelligent reading’, I mean reading with a level of comprehension commensurate with the child’s experience of the world they inhabit. Fortunately, reading to children is now encouraged  as being supportive of  reading literacy and as a sound foundation for future learning.

Not that long ago, children were seen as passive recipients of the eager parent’s input via the quality time spent in ‘read to me’ and ‘bedtime story’ sessions.

I always felt sure my children were taking in much more than the professional opinion allowed.

Recently, I borrowed a copy of Dr. Virginia Lowe’s very excellent book, “Stories, Pictures and Reality: Two children tell” (Routlege 2007) based on the record of her own two children’s responses to books from birth to adolescence. Dr. Lowe’s book vindicates what I felt all along as a parent! This book should be set reading for students of primary, early childhood and remedial teaching, child and family psychology and for anyone with an interest in literacy!

Her children had a smorgasbord of stories proffered continuously, both Dr Lowe and her husband being librarians who were passionate advocates of children’s literature.  The children’s reactions to and responses concerning elements of story and  illustrations provide a wonderfully insightful peek into the psyche of the child. Both Lowe children clearly had a blessed and privileged childhood, but being ‘read to’ is within the reach of most children. Public libraries and school libraries are accessible to most families. Even if parental work commitments make  a nightly ‘reading’ impossible, there are weekends and visits to grandparents when  a ‘storytelling’ session can be included in the agenda.

There are other options.

Storytelling sessions are held regularly in many public libraries and are ‘free’.

And online  resources such as “Ripple Reader” and “A Story Before Bed” provide a way for even absent grandparents and parents to read to their children. In the USA and Israel, ‘bedtime stories’ are part of official early education policy. Programmes like “Reach Out and Read” and “Read to Me” do a monumental job in promoting literacy and the power of  storytime to be a deeply meaningful and bonding time in families.Virginia-Lowe-Stories-Pictures-and-reality-cover12517427738


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9. Snowy dreams and nightmares

There are not many books which give me nightmares but Snow Bear by Piers Harper is one. It was a favourite of both girls when they were toddlers, even though I couldn’t stand the sight of it (you can read more in my review here). But months, even years, after I last read that book, it recently came back to haunt me with a vengeance.

Piers Harper’s Snow Bear is about a young polar bear who has lost his mum. A young Inuit girl helps to reunite mother and cub and all live happily ever after.

Photo: ucumari

Fine.

Snow. Being lost and then reunited. Cuddly animals. All good. At least for my kids.

But can you imagine that sinking feeling in my stomach when last month a new book arrived for review, a book about a polar bear cub who has lost his mother, but who is reunited with her thanks to a young girl?

Not only that, it too is called The Snow Bear and it’s by an author I associated (without every previously having read anything by her) with soppy, girly stories full of fluff and nonsense?

Uh-uh. No Way. Hide it to the back of the cupboard. Give it away to some unsuspecting soul.

I was not going to go through another round of polar bear hell.

But then the twinkling stars conspired against me. M needed a new book to read (when J has ballet lessons on a Saturday morning we have a little routine going whereby I wrap up a new-to-M book/comic and give it to M to read – a Saturday morning treat instead of sweets) and I had nothing in the house that I could offer. Well nothing other than a book I didn’t want to share.

But aren’t I a book champion? Don’t I believe that all reading is good reading? Don’t I try to be that sort of gatekeeper where the gates are always open allowing a flood of variety through rather than thinking I know best about what ought to be locked up and kept from prying eyes? Don’t I believe, on some level, that every book has a reader somewhere out there for whom it will be just right?

All this as preamble to get to the point where I let my personal demons out of the wardrobe and gave M The Snow Bear by Holly Web.

And of course, M devoured this book. She LOVED this book. She was so excited and happy to read this book. M loves reading, but even I was a little taken aback by the enthusiasm with which she talked about this book and INSISTED that I read it.

So I read it. I read it on my own.

Uh-oh.

It looked like I was going to have to admit I was wrong. It looked like I was going to have to do that hardest of things and change my opinion.

To be doubly sure, I read it again, this time aloud as a bedtime read to J.

Double Uh-oh.

J adored the book, and even on a second read I still thought this book was really rather good.

It’s about people being kind and thoughtful, it’s about family bonds and tensions, it’s about love, loss and longing, and it’s got a real air of authenticity about it.

From the historical / geographical / social details of Inuit life to the emotional world of a young child, Holly Web has written a story which rings true (even in that final moment when you have to decide has it all been a dream or not).

For a young independent reader it’s a wonderful book. It looks and feels lovely to hold – a proper hardback, with a little bit of sparkle. Black and white illustrations every few pages help draw you in and then the magic of the tale takes over. There’s the adventure of making a real igloo and camping out in it, there’s the delight of listening to your grandpa tell what seem like impossible tales. There’s the reassurance that whenever you’re lost, you will always end up being found and reunited with those that matter to you.

So don’t let any misapprehension you might have about soppy girly stories (or polar bears) put you off picking up this book. If you need any more persuading check out Polly’s brilliant review on her blog, The Little Wooden Horse (interesting not least because she reviews as a mother of two boys) or Library Mice’s review which include a video of the author talking about her book.

Given the season, we decide we’d make some Christmas tree ornaments to remind us of Holly Webb’s Snow Bear. Like the hostess with the mostest I was able to conjure up out of General Supplies some wooden die-cut polar bears (bought several years ago from Hobbycraft) which the girls painted and then covered in sparkles.

Some drilling and thread later our first tree decorations were ready:.

Whilst making our polar bear decoration and banishing nightmares we listened to:

  • Polar Bear by The Quiet Two
  • It’s Wintertime by The Hipwaders
  • Dans notre igloo by Philippe Lhomme

  • Other activities which would be great fun to try along side reading The Snow Bear by Holly Web include:

  • Building your own indoor igloo just like we did here with icecubes!
  • Taking inspiration from the always inspirational Betsy Bird and making decorations based on children’s book illustrations using shrinkies. I can’t get onto Besty’s blog at the moment, but here’s basically the same idea on Craftster.
  • Making snow playdough, using this recipe from Cathy at NurtureStore.
  • When was the last time you had to change your mind about a book? When was the last time you came face to face with your own book prejudices?

    Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Snow Bear by Holly Web from the book’s publishers. I was under no obligation to review the book and I received no money for this post.

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    5 Comments on Snowy dreams and nightmares, last added: 12/3/2012
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    10. Crafting a Tribute Poem

    Did you read Katherine Sokolowski’s Slice of Life post this past Tuesday?  She crafted a poem that was a tribute to a dear family-friend, Vel, who passed away.  Crafting the poem was a… Read More

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    11. The Frank Show by David Mackintosh

    While I am thrilled that reports of the death of the picture book were greatly exaggerated, I have been wondering of late if there will ever be room for another William Steig or Bill Peet in this world?  Is there space on the shelf of the bookstores for this kind of book, a publisher willing to go with a picture book that does not feature a "character" sure to spawn a series and, above all

    0 Comments on The Frank Show by David Mackintosh as of 9/27/2012 6:00:00 AM
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    12. Crafts for Grandparents Day!

    Even though it isn't Grandparents Day any more, it's never too late to celebrate! Join in the fun with these Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie-inspired activities from the Mommy and Me Book Club blog.

    Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie by Laurie Jacobs was the featured selection this week for our book-inspired fun! I wanted to feature a book about Grandparents, in honor of Grandparents' Day this weekend in the US. And I ADORE this book. It was a new find for me this summer.

    Gathering Activity: Make Hand Print Pot Holders for Grandparents
    I was inspired to make these potholders with our hand prints painted on them from an idea on saw at Second Grade Sparkle.

    Materials Needed:
    Fabric solid colored pot holders
    fabric paint, coordinating ribbon
    copies of the poem to attach to the pot holders printed on cardstock
    hole punch

    We attached a great poem I discovered at Kindergarten Rocks! Make sure you go there to see all of the words! We will mail these (or hand deliver these) to our grandparents since the next Sunday is Grandparents' Day in the US.

    Circle Time

    *We read Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie by Laurie A. Jacobs.
    This is a delightful book about a grandma who comes to babysit for the evening.  She brings a bag full of fun and for each activity, Grandma Tillie changes clothes and becomes a very fun and very silly character.    For playtime, she wears a pink wig and pretends to be Tillie Vanilly who can stand on one foot and say the alphabet backwards, tell jokes, juggle and dance the Conga.  For dinner she is Chef Silly Tillie who wears a lampshade hat and makes yummy food.  At bath time she transforms into Madame Frilly Tillie who gives them glamorous makeovers during a bubble bath.    But at bedtime, their REAL grandmother comes to tuck them in and read them stories.

    My children love this book. It was actually in the top 5 of their favorites from this summer.  I love the portrayal of a Grandmother who is fun and playful.  I love the sweet relationship the girls share with their Grandmother.  I love the illustrations, too!  They are delightful.  And I LOVED sharing it with our little Mommy and Me friends today.

    *We sang a fun song about families.  “We are a happy family.”
    *Then each of the children took turns sharing the special names they call their grandparents.
    *We did the Conga to the kitchen for our next activity!

    Art Activity: Tissue Paper Hats

    In the story, Grandma Tillie wears several large and colorful hats.  Of course we had to make our own.  While searching for a poem to go with the handprints, I also found this great idea for hats at Kindergarten Rocks!  What a fun site!  Please go there for a complete tutorial.

    Supplies needed: several sheets of colorful tissue paper, heavy brown package paper, tape, ribbons, glue, materials to decorate the hats

     Creating a customized fit!After finding the perfect fit, the children decorated with stickers, markers, and tissue paper.
    We trimmed the edges of our boy hats to make them look more like Grandpa Fishing Hats.  I think they turned out so cute!
    Snack: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Pickles,  and Chocolate Milk with Straws
    In the story, Chef Silly Tillie makes the children Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.  She gives them pickles and chocolate milk.  Of course our little ones were inspired to blow bubbles in their milk, just like the children in the story.  So we made sure to give them extra tall cups with VERY little chocolate milk in the bottom.  They did an excellent job blowing bubbles until they reached the top, sipping some, and blowing again.  Believe it or not, we had ZERO chocolate milk spills!
    Lampshade Relay- As Chef Silly Tillie, Grandma wore a lampshade on her head.  We used these two fabric baskets and pretended they were lampshades.  We allowed them to take turns running with the lamp shade on their head.  They returned and gave another friend a turn.   (Some of the children enjoyed this more than others).
    Bubble Bins- As Madame Frilly Tillie, Grandma gives the girls a bubble bath.  I created 3 bubble bins for the children.  I included measuring cups, sponges, and small animals they washed with the sponges.  The children played for 30 minutes past Mommy and Me time, just enjoying the sensory bubble play.

    0 Comments on Crafts for Grandparents Day! as of 9/19/2012 8:52:00 AM
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    13. Prairie Evers, by Ellen Airgood

    Prairie is unhappy when her grandmother up and announces that it's time she moves home.  After all, Grammy is much more than simply a grandmother to Prairie; she is her friend and her teacher as well.  Especially since they moved up to New Paltz, NY from North Carolina.

    Prairie's family inherited the farm from her mama's side of the family.  New Paltz is where she grew up, and now the Evers family are trying to make a go of life by living off this small portion of land.  Folks in town seem to have lots to say about this whole situation.

    When Prairie and her mama are in town to pick up Prairie's new chicks, her mama leaves her in the malt shop while she runs some errands.  While Prairie is sitting at the counter top, she overhears some women mention her mama's name.  The women go on to talk all kinds of foolishness about her family-- how Prairie probably can't even read and isn't in school -- how her family probably doesn't have two pennies to rub together -- and it is everything Prairie can do to sit put and not give those women a piece of her mind. 

    One of those insults, however, is soon unfounded.  Prairie's folks tell her that she has to enroll in school.  Grammy has always taught Prairie before.  They were explorers, learning about things that are interesting.  How can she ever go to a school where she is trapped inside all day?  How can she ever learn to raise her hand when she has something to say?  Or not to blurt out an answer?

    School is only made bearable by the one friend that Prairie sets on making.  Her name is Ivy Blake.  She's clearly a loner and a pretty quiet one at that, but Prairie seeks her out and soon they are spending lots of time together, and Prairie actually starts to feel happy.  But as she slowly peels back the layers of Ivy's existence, Prairie realizes that things are not always as they seem.

    Ellen Airgood has written a story of family, friendship and loss that while sad in measure is buoyed by an overarching feeling of hope.  Even though Prairie and Ivy are misfits on their own, together they are strong and they even each other out.  Ivy's family story is an intense one and is buffered by the Evers' family's cohesiveness.  There is a Southern feeling to this story despite the setting, and while the idea of the importance of making family is loud and clear, the story never gets eclipsed by it.  Prairie is a strong protagonist and readers are likely to admire her even as they cringe at her adjustments to school life.

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    14. A triumphant trio of boy-friendly books

    One of the truly great discoveries for me this summer has been the Swedish author Ulf Stark. Last week I couldn’t resist telling you about his bittersweet exploration of identity, Fruitloops and Dipsticks, likely to be enjoyed most by kids in their early years at secondary school or there abouts.


    Today, however, I want to tell you about a trio of books that will delight slightly younger children, all of them about a young boy, Ulf, his friendships, school and family life. Each is packed with humour and acute observations about relationships, between friends and enemies, and children and adults. They share an unpatronising approach to their readers, mirroring aspects of their own lives in a honest and yet thoughtful, nearly always funny, and sometimes heartbreaking manner. They struck me as the next step up from the naughty and adorable Nicholas books by Goscinny and Sempe – perfect for slightly older kids, who still love getting in to trouble but who can also appreciate meatier issues.

    When we’re first introduced to Ulf, in My friend Percy’s Magical Gym Shoes, we soon discover he is chubby and poor at sports. But when a new boy, Percy, arrives at his school, Ulf finds someone he looks up to, someone he wants to emulate; Percy seems suave and full of self assurance, powers which apparently stem from his magical gym shoes. Ulf is determined to buy Percy’s shoes from him, so he too can be cool and confident. And indeed, once Ulf has the shoes, his life does become much more exciting as he and his new best friend get into all sorts of scrapes and japes. But these adventures are not appreciated by the adults around and Ulf starts to get a bad reputation. Does Ulf want to be known as a bad boy? Does he need to be so wild to gain the respect he wishes for from his peers? Will he and Percy manage to stay friends?

    In My friend Percy & The Sheik we learn that Ulf’s father is a ham radio buff, and through his hobby has made contact with a sheik (True Fact: former King Hussein of Jordan was an amateur radio hobbyist and often chatted with ‘regular’ people all around the world). The sheik promises to visit Ulf’s father but will the trip come off? Will Ulf be the laughing stock amongst his friends? This second volume sees Ulf and Percy’s friendship cemented as they deal with bullying, a first crush, and the threat that Percy’s family will have to move away.

    By the time we reach My friend Percy & Buffalo Bill the boys are 10, and 3 years into their friendship. They spend one summer together on a Swedish island at Ulf’s grandparents home and it turns out to be an amazing summer, the summer you dream of as a kid, building dens, taming wild horses, fishing and swimming around the island. But at the heart of this story is Percy and Ulf’s relationship with Ulf’s heartbroken grandfather. A curmudgeonly old so-and-so, Percy gains the grandfather’s respect by standing up to him, and gradually a friendship develops that in the end will bring tears to your eyes. I haven’t read many books which focus on male friendships that manage to be laugh out loud funny and also profoundly moving.

    My friend Percy’s M

    3 Comments on A triumphant trio of boy-friendly books, last added: 8/8/2012
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    15. Kindred Souls

    Kindred Souls. Patricia MacLachlan. 2012. HarperCollins. 119 pages.

    My grandfather, Billy, hears the talk of birds. He leans out the open bedroom window with his head tilted to listen in the warm prairie morning.

    Kindred Souls is the kind of children's book I have come to appreciate as an adult, but, the kind of book that I would NEVER have wanted to read as a child. In other words, it's one of those books. You know, the kind, the kind that introduces you to a wonderful old man AND a dog. And you have every right to be suspicious that the end will destroy your emotional well-being.

    Jake, our narrator, is ten and confident; confident that everything will stay the same, confident that life is good and will stay that way. Sure, his grandfather, Billy, is eighty-eight, sure he's moved in with them. But he will live FOREVER. Don't ask him how he knows, it's enough that he believes. The novel begins with the two going on their usual walk. Billy is talking--again--about the sod house where he was born. He is wishing--again--that it hadn't fallen into such horrible condition. He is telling Jake--again--about the old days. This time Billy seems extra-sad, so Jake asks him a simple question: "How hard is it to cut a brick of sod?" And so the idea is born that a new sod house will be built...

    And then there is the arrival of Lucy, a stray dog, that seems to be the perfect companion for Billy. Billy and Lucy seem to be best, best, best friends from the very first moment they meet.

    This book is about an unforgettable summer.

    Read Kindred Souls
    • If you like bittersweet children's books
    • If you like emotional family stories
    • If you are a fan of Patricia MacLachlan
    • If you like dog stories
    © 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    2 Comments on Kindred Souls, last added: 8/8/2012
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    16. Taking blogging too far? Torturing my kids to get a blog post…

    Sometimes this blog gives the impression that life in our home is idyllic, that I’m some sort of super mum and that our house gives off a continual pleasant, warm and loving glow.

    Well. Let me assure you that this is not the case.

    In order to get the material for this post I caused my kids to weep and scream at me. I even took photos of them yelling at me.

    And why?

    Well, I may score good marks on the glitter and glue front but I’ve failed utterly and totally when it comes to my kids and food: M is the fussiest eater I know, and J loves to copy her big sister so she too eats a hugely self-restricted diet (M will only eat 4 cooked things: sausages, egg noodles, fish fingers and, at a push, beefburgers. Yep, that’s it…).

    So when along came a really lovely picture book about being a fussy eater I was delighted. Might it provide the breakthrough I’m constantly looking for?

    One day Katharine Quarmby and Piet Grobler‘s Fussy Freya decides all the food she used to like is no longer yummy. She simply refuses to touch it. Her parents try to keep their cool but when the food they’ve lovingly prepared gets thrown on the floor they despair and decide to call on Grandma’s help.

    When Freya throws down the gauntlet and tells her granny that she want to eat giraffe and other wild animals, Grandma calls her bluff and prepares precisely what Freya has requested. Warthog stuffed with cheese, grilled giraffe with cheese or mashed monkey, any one? Will this revolting food be a hit with Freya, or will she realise that what her parents offer her is actually rather yummy and so much more appealing than the exotic dishes her grandparents prepare for her?

    Katharine Quarmby’s rolling, rhyming tale of a fussy eater is great fun. There’s a lovely little refrain that kids will quickly pick up on and join in with, and the mixture of humour, naughtiness and rather shocking dishes (most kids love a little bit of squeamishness, especially if it’s safely at arms’ length in the pages of a book) are great ingredients combined to make a satisfying tale. Piet Grobler’s illustrations are full of gorgeous colour and perfectly match the slightly grotesque story, being both full of love and warmth, and seasoned with a sharp edge.

    One final aspect I really like about Fussy Freya is that Freya’s family is a mixed race family. This isn’t commented upon at all in the story – her’s is just a normal, “unremarkable” family. It’s great to see this in a picture book as it doesn’t happen often.

    In the spirit of Fussy Freya I thought I’d offer my girls some really ghastly food in the hope that they’d realise that my offerings of “normal” food were actually quite ok.

    For starters I gave them a bowl of snot. (Can you think of a child who doesn’t pick her nose?)

    Cream cheese with a bit of food colouring, and bread st

    4 Comments on Taking blogging too far? Torturing my kids to get a blog post…, last added: 7/15/2012
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    17. Happy Mother’s Day from Flashlight Press

    Written by Laurie Jacobs, illustrated by Anne Jewett

    According to Mommy Secrets, our new book, Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie, is

    a fun Mother’s Day gift for grandmas in your life!

    Present a copy to the quirky and playful grandmas (and moms!) in your life.

    For more Silly Frilly Mother’s Day fun, check out the book trailer and our printable activity pages. You can even preview Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie here.

    Happy Mother’s Day!


    0 Comments on Happy Mother’s Day from Flashlight Press as of 5/10/2012 5:19:00 AM
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    18. Exploring outdoors and becoming a museum curator

    Sticks are super… but how to broaden our horizons when we’re out exploring? What else could we and the kids look for? How do we learn to identify what we find? Today I’ve once again got one fiction picture book and one non-fiction book that go together really well, and which could help us answer these questions.

    Lollipop and Grandpa’s Back Garden Safari by Penelope Harper and Cate James (@catetheartist) is a delightfully playful tale about a young girl and her grandfather exploring their backgarden.

    Having packed a rucksack full of sandwiches they launch themselves into the sort of knowing pretend play that my girls adore, imagining that ordinary objects in the garden are actually terrifying and dangerous safari animals. There is the croco-logus emerging from the pond, the snake-pipe slithering across the lawn and the hippo-potta-compost at the end of the vegetable patch, and young and old delight in scaring and being scared by the fates that might befall them if they were to be captured by these wild animals.

    The adrenalin filled safari is going thrillingly well until the clothes-lion roars and sends Lollipop and her grandfather rushing back to the safely of their home. With all the familiar, delicious relief that readers and listeners feel with We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury, Lollipop and her Grandfather do reach their house just in time, but then comes an unexpected twist – will they actually be safer inside?

    Lollipop and Grandpa’s Back Garden Safari is great fun! All about entering into the spirit of things, relishing imaginative play, safely being frightened, and the sheer enjoyment that’s possible when playing outside, this book has become pretty popular in our home. This book really invites you to play the story, to play by the book. My kids think it’s such a hoot when they “see” threatening animals (the apple tree, the water butt, the bamboo sticks) and I act terrified. All powerful M and J have conjured up these creatures which have the power to scare me – the girls just can’t get enough of this!

    Cate James‘ textured illustrations have a child-like quality to them, with lots of scribbles, and people with straight arms and legs rather like stick men. For a book which is all about really entering the mind of a young child, this style of illustration works really well.

    Pretend safaris (also possible indoors!) are fab! And they complement “real” safaris too. Not, unfortunately to see lions and tigers, of which there are very few roaming the streets in central England, but to explore the animals and natural environments which are on our doorstep.

    5 Comments on Exploring outdoors and becoming a museum curator, last added: 5/6/2012

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    19. Grandpa Green

    by Lane Smith   Roaring Brook Press  2011   A boy fondly remembers his great-grandfather through the topiary garden he has built over the years.   There's something missing here, something I can't quite put my finger on. Or maybe something off. We have a boy, ostensibly the main character, going through the garden and explaining the meaning behind all the various animals and objects his

    1 Comments on Grandpa Green, last added: 11/18/2011
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    20. THE PRINCESS OF BORSCHT

    by Leda Schubert

    THE PRINCESS OF BORSCHT is about Ruthie, who is afraid that her beloved grandmother will die of starvation in the hospital, where she is temporarily bedridden with pneumonia. Grandma, who is a bit of a character, says borscht—beet soup—might prevent this starvation, and when Ruthie and her father (who thinks borscht  is yucky) return to Grandma’s apartment, Ruthie searches for the recipe. All the busybody neighbors come by to help and order each other around.  Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. Why is Ruthie a princess? You’ll have to read the book! It’s filled with royalty.

    My grandmother, Sonia Broffman (nee Lerman), was a great cook. I remember her faux chopped liver, made from green beans and something (walnuts? Chime in.), and her chicken-in-a-pot. My mother was also a great cook, but she owned her own business and rarely had time to inhabit the kitchen. Not to worry; I always managed to eat and maintain my plumpness.  

    Though I myself am an only child, I have a whole lot of second cousins who are very proud of being descended from the seven Lerman brothers and sisters.  Perhaps I wrote THE PRINCESS OF BORSCHT as an homage to the women in my family, though I’m not sure I knew what it was about until I read a few of the reviews. This is not uncommon with writers, by the way. We need readers!

    I first drafted the story in a writing group many years ago. Bonnie Christensen, esteemed illustrator, joined the group and drew me a picture of Ruthie, which I loved to bits and which I treasure. We dreamed of doing the book together, and thanks to Neal Porter, we did!  Bonnie included subtle tributes to her family, mine, and to Neal himself. Look carefully. She also messed up her kitchen by throwing borscht around to get the drips just right. Ah, research.

    I don’t particularly like to cook, but I do love beets. I plant them every summer and watch them come up. Shortly thereafter they disappear. Is it the dog? A slug? Beetles? Mysterious forces from the universe? Then I go to the farmers’ market and buy some. Roasted, boiled, served in salad or in soup, they can’t be beat. The recipe on the back cover is only one of many possibilities.

    Readers, I hope you like the book.

    [Above, Bonnie throws borscht around (you can see her reflection). Photo by Bonnie Christensen]

     

     

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    21. How not to do a Book Launch?!

    When Jenny Stubbs, Festival Coordinator Extraordinaire, told me I had a slot to launch ”All in the Woods” I was ecstatic! It was my first book to be published in the UK and a launch venue at the Ipswich Festival of Children’s Literature, Woodlands, was almost too good to be true. Jenny facilitated a link to Aleesa Darlison who agreed to MC. BRILLIANT! What could go wrong?

    The Ipswich Festival is always an exciting event! It is held at Woodlands, a stunning, heritage listed venue set amongst rural fields, magnificent trees and rolling hills – what a setting for a launch! The lead up to the day, Tuesday, 13th September 2011, was a real buzz! Then the unthinkable happened… The weekend before, my throat started to get that irritating little scratch and that niggly cough that sometime precedes worse. Sunday night it started to hit! Laryngitis!

    Friends, good friends can be the saving of such worst case scenarios. I spoke (whilst I still had a voice) to Tara Hale, who designed the promo poster, would she be Guest Artist “Pink” the possum [cousin of "Ink" the animal hero of my book]. Next I contacted  Nooroa Te Hira, he has worked as a tour guide so I knew he would ace a reading of my book. Then I rang Christian Bocquee and asked would he help with nitty grittys like directing teachers and students to seats, distributing prizes and being event photographer! Bless them, they all ‘volunteered’ unstintingly!

    Result? Fun, fun, fun!  We had a ball, the book launch was a total success! The author having to use copious amounts of sign language but, hey, she has 5 kids so she speaks the  lingo with hands and fingers! :)

    You can see some of the fun in the gallery below. [Sadly, Pink, being a nocturnal creature, was shy of the  camera flash and hid!]

    And the book, which was illustrated by wonderful watercolourist Linda Gunn? It had been a truly international effort – written by an Aussie, illustrated by an American and published by a Brit! The icing on the cake was a nomination for the OPSO Award!

    Here is a recent review by Kathy Schneider!

    Where can you get it? Here!

    Tara Hales'  Promotional Poster for "All in the Woods 0 Comments on How not to do a Book Launch?! as of 2/3/2012 4:20:00 AM
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    22. Costa Rica Calls for 101 SECRETS!


    My first "review" of 1O1 SECRETS! A KNAPSACK OF INSPIRATION AND HOPE is in, and it comes from a friend who is a very independent thinker. She and her husband Ron retired to Costa Rica. They built a home and turned one of the large rooms in their home into a local library out of the goodness of their hearts. And this is what she wrote about 101 SECRETS!:


    I just read your bookand think it is very worthwhile and a book that needs to be read by every “tweenager.”We have sent it on to a couple of teacher friends. Do you see the possibilityof a Spanish translation in your future? I would love to buy one for mylibrary. This book could make the difference in so many children's lives!

    Love, to you andMarilyn,
    Suzanne Yankowski

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    23. Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip (MG/YA)

    Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip. Jordan Sonnenblick. 2012.  Scholastic. 304 pages.

    The first picture is a wide-angle shot, taken through the chain-link fence of the backstop behind home plate. There's a boy standing on a pitcher's mound in full uniform: green and gold. His cap is pulled low over his eyes, and his unruly black hair sticks out below the brim in all directions. He leans in toward home plate, his throwing arm dangling loose at his side. He must be looking in to get his sign from the catcher.

    I expected Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip to be good--really good. Why? Well, Jordan Sonnenblick rarely--if ever--disappoints. He's an amazing writer; he's great at writing characters that I just love. His stories tend to be emotional and compelling. Though almost always they have a lightness to them as well. Curveball The Year I Lost My Grip did not disappoint. While I'm not sure that it is my favorite, favorite Sonnenblick novel--he's written so many that I just love!!! It is easy to recommend this one.

    The hero of Curveball is Peter Friedman. The summer before his freshman year in high school, he plays his last baseball game. The injury in his arm is so severe that doctors tell him he'll never, ever be able to play the game he loves so much. So who is he if he's not a great pitcher and catcher? Who is he if he's not a great athlete? Well. He'll have plenty of time to figure that all out.

    One of the main characters in Curveball is Peter's grandfather. I just LOVED him. I think there aren't enough--could never be enough--YA books that highlight the special relationship between grandparent and grandchild. Inter-generational stories make me happy, very happy. Even when they're sad. Even when they're bittersweet. Peter and his grandfather are incredibly close. And so it's not all that surprising that Peter's interest in photography becomes all that much stronger. (His grandfather was a professional.)

    So Peter's interest in photography leads him to take a class where he meets a girl that wows him...

    This YA book has it all. Great characters, good storytelling. It's just an enjoyable read!

    Read Curveball The Year I Lost My Grip

    • If you're interested in baseball
    • If you're interested in photography
    • If you like realistic romances
    • If you're a fan of Jordan Sonnenblick
    • If you like coming-of-age stories with a strong emphasis on friendship

    © 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    2 Comments on Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip (MG/YA), last added: 2/28/2012
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    24. Grandparents Down Under

    Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie is written by Laurie Jacobs and illustrated by Anne Jewett.

    We are thrilled to announce that our titles featuring grandmas, grandpas, and grandkids, are featured in www.grandparentsdaymagazine.com, an Australian publication. Our five grandparent-themed books are featured on page three of the Autumn 2012 Issue now viewable in pdf.


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    25. Author Laurie A. Jacobs Spreads a Little Sunshine

    image from Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie written by Laurie A. Jacobs, illustrated by Anne Jewett

    Laurie A. Jacobs, author of Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie, participated in the Project Sunshine Book Club on March 7 at a Manhattan hospital. Laurie channeled the silly playful spirit of Grandma Tillie and did an art project with the children. 25 copies of Silly Frilly Grandma Tillie were donated by Flashlight Press to the young patients.

    Project Sunshine is a nonprofit organization bringing programming – recreational, educational, and social service – to over 60,000 children facing medical challenges in 150 major cities across the United States and in five international satellite sites: Canada, China, Israel, Kenya and Puerto Rico. For more information, visit http://www.projectsunshine.org.


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