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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: gift recommendations, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 15 of 15
1. Jane Austen Cover to Cover

Jane Austen Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Book Covers. Margaret C. Sullivan. Quirk Publishing. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

Love Jane Austen? You should read Jane Austen Cover to Cover. The book is about Jane Austen, her books, her book covers--a history of their many publications over the past two hundred years. For the most part, the book follows a certain chronology providing readers with context. (For example, covers with teens or tweens in mind differ from covers with adult collectors in mind differ from covers with scholars in mind.) Each edition has a spread. And it's just a joy to see all the covers. There are great covers. There are horrible covers. I liked it best when Sullivan talked about the horrible covers!!! I laughed out loud so many times reading this book!!! [See also: "5 Ridiculous Jane Austen Book Covers, Explained in Hilarious "Deleted Scenes."

I definitely recommend this one. I read it all in one sitting. It was just so satisfying--a real delight. If you want a preview of sorts, read this Guardian piece. And for more book cover fun--specifically P&P--this NY Times slide show is fun too.

You should read Jane Austen Cover to Cover
  • If you are a fan of Jane Austen
  • If you have an interest or fascination with book covers
  • If you have an interest in publishing, book design, illustration, or book collecting
  • If you like to laugh
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. Kids’ Books for Gifting

Kids' Books

I’m a little late with this list, but there’s still some time to shop for Christmas, if not Thanksgivvukah.

Our family reads a lot. I tried to come up with a list of kids’ books we love that you might not have heard of. These have all been extensively road-tested.

The first two are novels for elementary-age kids. In this age of Harry Potter, my daughter is not a big fantasy fan. Not sure why, but realistic fiction is her bag. Maybe that’s because it’s what her mom writes. Haha!

First up is The Year of the Dog, the first in a series of three (I think, unless there’s a new one?) about a Chinese-American girl and her friends and family. I love these, and was so happy my daughter did, too. In fact, she re-reads them often. I’d say they’re for ages 7 and up, most likely. They’re written by Newbery honor winner Grace Lin. (BTW, Ms. Lin used to work in Harvard Square with my good friend Jamie. So there! I’m tangentially famous).

Summer of the Wolves is the first in a series written by my friend Lisa Williams Kline. The books follow two newly-minted stepsisters in their adventures together, and my daughter doesn’t know it yet, but she’s getting two more of them for Christmas. She has read and re-read the ones she already owns. If you live here in Charlotte, you can get   Lisa’s books (usually signed ones) at Park Road Books.

Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell is a picture book biography of Jane Goodall. I love a good picture book bio, and this one has all the ingredients of a winner: great illustrations, engaging text (but brief enough for small kids) and real-life snippets that kids can really relate to. My six-year-old has often asked for this one over the last year.

If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen is the first book my son tried to memorize, he loved it so much. It’s full of zany flights of fancy and imaginary gadgetry, which is perfect for someone who likes machinery, as my boy does.

Tumble Me Tumbily is excellent for toddlers, and I can honestly say it holds up after nightly readings for a looong period of time. This was my son’s first favorite book, from the time he was one.

Finally, The Buffalo are Back by the great Jean Craighead George (she of Julie of the Wolves and My Side of the Mountain fame) is the true story of buffalo in America. It gets very sad, but there’s a hopeful ending. It totally made me want to go out west to see buffalo in the wild. The illustrations are lovely.

For more recommendations, you can check out some kids’ craft books we love in this post.

If you value bookstores and want them to stick around, please consider buying from your local shop, or ordering them from an independent retailer.

And by the way, my own books are available at Park Road Books in Charlotte, as well as online! Have a great weekend.

3 Comments on Kids’ Books for Gifting, last added: 12/15/2013
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3. Baby's Book Tower

Baby's Book Tower. By Leslie Patricelli. 2010. August 2010. Candlewick. 96 pages.

The book contains four board books (book blocks) by Leslie Patricelli:Yummy Yucky, Baby Happy Baby Sad, No No Yes Yes, Quiet Loud.

I love, love, love Leslie Patricelli's board books. She is such a great writer and great illustrator! And these four books are among her best. They're simple. They're fun. They're true-to-life.

Aren't the illustrations fun? I just love them!

From Yummy Yucky:

Spaghetti is yummy.
Worms are yucky.
Blueberries are yummy.
Blue crayons are yucky.
From Quiet Loud:
Whispering is quiet.
Screaming is loud.
Crayons are quiet.
Pots and pans are loud.
No No Yes Yes and Baby Happy Baby Sad rely on the illustrations to tell the story. For example, in Baby Happy Baby Sad, we learn that baby is happy when he's hugging the cat and sad when the cat runs away. Or my favorite, the baby is happy to be naked and sad to be bundled up in a snowsuit. And in No No Yes Yes, readers learn that baby drawing on the wall gets a No No while baby drawing on a piece of paper gets a Yes Yes.

Other book towers include The Very Best Mother Goose Book Tower and Maisy's Book Tower.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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4. Here Fishy Fishy: Fun Gift Ideas 2008

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss (also board book)
Fabulous Fishes by Susan Stockdale*
Ten Little Fish by Audrey Wood
Hooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins
This Little Fish (board book) by R. Powell
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
What's It Like To Be A Fish by Wendy Pfeffer
How Many Fish? by Caron Lee Cohen
A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer
Papa Fish's Lullaby by Patricia Hubbell
Feed Matisse's Fish by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo*
Fish Eyes: A Book You Can Count On by Lois Ehlert
Big Fish, Little Fish by Ed Heck
Not Norman by Kelly Bennett
The Birthday Fish by Dan Yaccarino
Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Dear Fish by Chris Gall
The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen
The Fish Who Cried Wolf by Julia Donaldson
Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark by Will Grace
Fidgety Fish by Ruth Galloway
Fidgety Fish and Friends by Paul Bright
Ugly Fish by Kara LaReau
The Little Fish That Got Away by Bernadine Cook (illustrated by Crockett Johnson)
Pattern Fish by Trudy Harris
Fish Wish by Bob Barner

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

1 Comments on Here Fishy Fishy: Fun Gift Ideas 2008, last added: 11/17/2008
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5. Give the Gift of Demon Lovers

This holiday season, why not give the gift of a demon lover? (or more accurately, wanna-be lover). It's been a great year for them! Here are four that I enjoyed. Please note: none of the people described as "fairies" in these books are in any way "pink" or "glittery." Or "nice." Any of these would make a great gift for a teenage girl who likes Twilight, but is perhaps ready to more on...Forget about vampires--bad-ass fairy books are much cooler.

Impossible, by Nancy Werlin (Here's are reviews from my co-Cybilians at The Puck In the Midden, and at The Compulsive Reader).

I loved this novelization of the lyrics of Scarborough Fair. Lucy must complete three impossible tasks (as given in the song), or go mad and end up enslaved to a vengeful fairy lover...

Lament, by Maggie Stiefvater (reviewed by me, and The Compulsive Reader)

The people who published this story of a teen-aged girl becoming entangled with the fairy realm called it the "soulless fairy assassin book." But the assassin has much more to offer than his ability to kill...

Ink Exchange, by Melissa Marr (reviewed at Em's Bookshelf, and at Becky's Book Reviews)

Another fairy entanglement, with complexity of plot and character that impressed me. This is the sequel, in a way, to Wicked Lovely, but it focuses on a different character and is, after a first bit of awkwardness, a stand alone read.

Need, by Carrie Jones (here are a few reviews--by Kate Messner, by The Story Siren, and me)

And finally, here's one that isn't even quite out yet, but you can still get it in time for Christmas. I especially recommend this one for gift giving because of the festive gold sparkle lip gloss. The setting--cold snowy woods of Maine--is also seasonally appropriate, and provides an interesting background to the scheming of a baaddd pixie...

Did I miss any 2008 demon lovers? Let me know!

All these books but Need have been nominated for the Cybils in the Science Fiction/Fantasy Category (Need has to wait till next year). I'll be offering more gift recommendations from our list of nominees in the next week or so... Read the rest of this post

4 Comments on Give the Gift of Demon Lovers, last added: 12/15/2008
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6. Give the gift of a very different New York

Maybe you have a someone on your present buying list who just happens to be from New York City. Maybe they might like to look at their home in a whole new way...and here are three 2008 books, all excellent reads in their own ways, that do just that.

Masterpiece by Elise Broach, is a lovely book about a young beetle who shares a New York apartment with a lonely boy. On his birthday, the boy gets a pen and ink set, but has no interest in drawing...not so the beetle, whose new found artistic talent leads not only to friendship with the boy, but to an exiting adventure in the dangerous world of art theft! For the younger reader (say, 6th grade-ish), this would make a lovely present, an even better one paired with a pen and ink set, with possible add-ons including a book of Old Master etchings, a promise of a trip to the local gallery, an original pen and ink sketch by Da Vinci, etc. Or perhaps a book about beetles!

Maybe you think you know Manhattan. But this book, by Scott Mebus, offers a New York that will knock your socks off, because it is filled with gods--hence the title, Gods of Manhattan! Small gods, like the God of the Good China, and big gods, like seventeenth-century Dutch governors, 19th-century socialites, and the spirits of the Native Americans, cruelly imprisoned as part of the plot of one particularly nasty divinity to take total control of the city...and standing against that evil god is a young boy, who can see things most kids can't. Like small warriors disguised as cockroaches. Great fun, and a very good one for the 12+ year old who likes action-packed fantasy.

Maybe you've wondered what New York City would be like if there were fewer people in it. Maybe, after you read this book--The Dead and the Gone, by Susan Beth Pfeffer, you will be glad for all the people whose shoulders you bump on your morning subway ride. Because (as the title, um, subtly hints at) most of the folks are not there anymore. Leaving one teenage boy struggling to look after his sisters and to stay alive in a post apocalyptic nightmare. This is a follow up to Life as We Knew It, but since it tells of different characters in a different place, it is a true stand alone. Not exactly festive reading (Young Adult rated, on account of death, disease, and destruction), but it should make your giftee appreciate having family, which is, after all, one of the points of the holiday season.

And here is a Free Wrapping Tip, Worthy of Martha Stewart, if I say so who shouldn't--you could use an old tourist map of the city, with an apple ornament tied festively to the ribbon! Or not.

All three of these books have been nominated for the Cybils in Science Fiction and Fantasy--please feel free to use the Amazon link thingy at right, to support these wonderful blog-given awards.

4 Comments on Give the gift of a very different New York, last added: 12/12/2008
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7. The books my boys are getting as presents

What books are you buying your children for Christmas? Here's what my two boys are getting.

For my 8-year-old, almost taking off into reading, history loving boy:

The Vikings (Lost Worlds), by J.M Clements. I haven't actually read it myself yet, but it sure is handsome.

Moomin, the Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip, Book Two. I myself find the comics strange, but he likes volume one very much.

Harry the Poisonous Centipede Goes to Sea, by Lynne Reid Banks. For him to read to himself.

For my five-year old, who likes birds and mythical creatures:

The United Tweets of America. Educational bird fun for the whole family.

Monsterology, by Dr. E. Drake So they are each getting a beautiful big book.

And finally, Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett. He loves Gingerbread Baby--partly because, like the boy in the book, he is named Mattie, and he looks so much like the book boy that he could have been Jan Brett's model.

My list of books seems a rather short to me, but they get so many books throughout the year--borrowed from our book sale sorting work at the library, books that I get here from publishers, books I buy when we walk up the hill to the bookstore as a treat (we also like our chocolate chip cookies). So I don't want to overwhelm them.

And I am getting them new journals, so they can write their own.

I would also list the seven books I've bought for my husband, but he reads this so I shan't. I don't, quite, trust him not to peak...

So, what are your kids getting?????

6 Comments on The books my boys are getting as presents, last added: 12/24/2008
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8. The Sound of Music

A Classic Collectible Pop-Up: The Sound of Music. By Rodgers & Hammerstein and Lindsay & Crouse. Adapted by Bert Fink. Illustrated by Dan Andreasen. Paper Engineering by Bruce Foster. 2009. Simon & Schuster. October 2009. 14 pages.

If you love the Sound of Music, then this really is a must-have. I love, love, love the Sound of Music. So this book made me giddy. Very, very giddy. In the must-show-to-all-my-friends way. This book brings all your favorite movie scenes to life. Each scene pops-up to reveal in wonderful detail the oh-so-magical story of Maria. (It would be hard to pick a favorite spread. Though the twirling Maria from the opening spread is a wonderful representation of how right this one is.) The story has been adapted and is told within the book--very cleverly in my opinion--in the mini-pop-ups/flaps. All the lyrics are included as well. Which was very nice.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

1 Comments on The Sound of Music, last added: 12/25/2009
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9. Oh The Places You'll Go!

Oh the Places You'll Go! by Dr. Seuss. 1990/2010. Random House. 56 pages.

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.

It has been years since I last read Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go. I had forgotten how good, how true this little picture book is. It is not one that often comes to mind when I think of Seuss--though that may seem silly. Since it comes back around each and every year at graduation time. In many ways, this is classic Seuss. Silly-looking people and creatures, silly but oh-so-rhythmic text. But there is a good dose of reality in this oh-so-silly book.

Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
that Bang-ups
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.
It is good at balancing everything. I'll admit that if it kept going in that wow, you'll get everything you've ever wanted, ever dreamed of, because you deserve it line of thought--I would have been sickened. I couldn't recommend a book like that. Life is life. It's not all good, it's not all bad. This book I can recommend quite easily.

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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10. Heartwarming Children's Lit Story

Margie Goldsmith contributes a heartwarming tale of how a letter and drawing from Ludwig Bemelmans (Madeline) brightened her dark childhood. (Washington Post)

3 Comments on Heartwarming Children's Lit Story, last added: 3/27/2007
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11. The Cat in the Hat & Cat in the Hat Comes Back

The Cat In the Hat (1957) is a great Seuss book. Probably a fan favorite in many ways. And if you're honest, it's probably one of the Seuss's that pop in mind first when asked what he wrote. How does a reviewer review such a well-known book? This reviewer is going to share some favorite quotes and side-step evaluating it. Here's how it begins: "The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day." The book--as you know--is about a stranger--a Cat in the Hat--who comes to visit, to tempt, to play with two young children on a rainy day when they're mother is gone for the day. The other memorable character? The fish who did NOT like the Cat in the Hat at all. Why do I love Cat in the Hat? Thing One and Thing Two! But as much as I enjoyed it, I think I enjoyed The Cat in the Hat Comes Back even more.

The Cat In The Hat Comes Back (1958) is a really great book.

"This was no time for play. This was no time for fun. This was no time for games. There was work to be done. All that deep, deep, deep snow, all that snow had to go. When our mother went down to the town for the day, She said, "Somebody has to clean all this away. Somebody, Somebody has to, you see." Then she picked out two Somebodies. Sally and me."

I can't begin to tell you how many times someone has quoted that around the house "Somebody, somebody has to you, you see." Who should approach these home-alone children once more? None other than the Cat in the Hat. He leaves them to their work while he goes in to take a nice soak in their tub. But he leaves a ring in the tub.
"A ring in the tub!
And, oh boy! What a thing!
A big long pink cat ring!
It looked like pink ink!"

Then begins a long, dramatic attempt to clean up one mess after the other after the other after the other. Before it's all done, we meet many new characters beginning with Little Cat A. It was a fun book that is just a delight to read. Much more fun than the original.

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12. The Sneetches And Other Stories

The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite, favorite books. It contains "The Sneetches", of course, but it also includes such wonderful stories as, "The Zax" , "Too Many Daves" and "What Was I Scared Of." I grew up with Dr. Seuss, of course, it would be hard for me to imagine a kid who hasn't been exposed to at least some Dr. Seuss in those early years. But to get back on track, I grew up with the record of The Sneetches and Other Stories. Records were wonderful things. Me and my fisher price record player had some great times. Perhaps because of the record, or perhaps just because this book is among the best of the best, the stories have stayed with me through the years. Especially 'The Zax' and 'What Was I Scared Of'. I think this collection perhaps more than any other captures something about humanity, about human nature. This collection is for children, but in some ways it is even more for adults. It is humorous, yes, but it is also very wise.

The Sneetches: "Now, the Star-Belly Sneetches had bellies with stars. The Plain-Belly Sneetches had none upon thars. Those stars weren't so big. They were really so small you might think such a thing wouldn't matter at all." What a great beginning for this little tale about judging others based on their appearances, a tale about labeling yourself 'superior' and everyone else 'inferior.' Sylvester McMonkey McBean arrives on the scene with his star-off, star-on machine. He thinks that Sneetches are too stubborn, too stupid to learn...you'll have to read for yourself to see if his maxim of "you can't teach a Sneetch" rings true.

The Zax is another tale about stubborn people who are unwilling to compromise. (Of course this never ever ever happens in real life). "One day, making tracks in the prairie of Prax, came a North-Going Zax and a South-Going Zax." This one makes for some fun reenactment.

Too Many Davies is just too too much fun. I love it. It is perhaps one of the funnest poems I've ever come across. It's such fun, such joy to read aloud, to listen to the sounds, the rhythms. What's your favorite name? Do you have one? Mine has to be Oliver Boliver Butt.

What Was I Scared Of? This one along with the Zax often gets quoted--or was often quoted at my house. The three of us (mom, sis, and me) had it practically memorized. And not just the text. We had the record--the narrator--memorized as well so we could mimic his style. It's a very clear memory! This story, this parable, is very relevant. I think it will always, always be relevant. It is about fear. About fearing 'the unknown.' About fearing those that are 'different' or 'strange.' If you're familiar with this one, feel free to share your favorite lines. But if I had to pick, I'd choose "I ran and found a Brickel bush. I hid myself away. I got brickels in my britches but I stayed there anyway" as my favorite. But on second thoughts, maybe this would have a slight edge, "I said, "I do not fear those pants with nobody inside them." I said, and said, and said those words. I said them. But I lied them." I can't choose. I can't. Every word, every syllable is genius.

Do you have memories of reading The Sneetches and Other Stories? Do you have a favorite story? A favorite quote? I'd love to hear about it!

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13. A Beatrix Potter Treasury

Potter, Beatrix. 2007 (this edition). A Beatrix Potter Treasury: The Original and Authorized Editions by Beatrix Potter. New colour reproductions by Frederick Warne.

This treasury contains eleven of Beatrix Potter's animal stories and a nice little introduction that places them all in context. (This little introduction is "The Story of Beatrix Potter" and features plenty of pictures as well as reproducing the original letter to Noel Moore with the first "story" of Peter Rabbit. The intro focuses on her life and her books and the publishing process--their success and reception by the world.) Each of the eleven stories has a one page "about this book" introduction.

The stories include Peter Rabbit (1902), The Tale of Benjamin Bunny (1904), The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909), The Tale of Mr. Tod (1912), The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit (1906, 1916), The Tale of Tom Kitten (1907), The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck (1908), The Tale of Samuel Whiskers or the Roly Poly Pudding (1908), The Tale of the Pie and the Patty Pan (1905), The Tale of Ginger and Pickles (1909).

The stories of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny were not new to me. I grew up with them. In fact, perhaps they were a bit too well known to me. Unless it's a common phrase for families to talk about "getting put in a pie" all the time. (Let me know if it is!) The phrase in full was a lecture to Peter Rabbit especially (Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail not really needing to be told twice) to stay out of Mr. McGregor's garden. "Your Father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs. McGregor."

Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny (and many of the other stories as well) show that there are consequences to every action. If you're a good little bunny, then nice things happen to you. If you're a bad little bunny, then they don't.

I enjoyed almost all the stories in A Beatrix Potter Treasury. I can't say that Ginger and Pickles would ever be my choice as a read aloud, in fact, I don't quite "get it." Why an economic story disguised as a children's book?

I do wish this collection had more stories. I would have loved to see it have The Tale of Two Bad Mice, The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin, and The Tailor of Gloucester to name a few. But I suppose for those looking for that thorough an introduction could order The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter which came out the year before by the same publisher. (One is 400 pages and $40 retail, the other is 190 pages and $20 retail.)

1 Comments on A Beatrix Potter Treasury, last added: 8/4/2008
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14. Gift Ideas 2008: Monster-Size Gifts

Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
The Monster At The End of This Book by Jon Stone
Go To Bed, Monster by Natasha Wing
Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley
Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Anne Miranda and Ed Emberley
Bye-Bye, Big Bad Bullyburg by Ed Emberley
There's A Wocket In My Pocket by Dr. Seuss
When A Monster Is Born by Sean Taylor
My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck
There's A Nightmare In My Closet by Mercer Mayer
There Are Monsters Everywhere by Mercer Mayer
There's Something In My Attic by Mercer Mayer
Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
Jitterbug Jam by Barbara Jean Hicks
Hungry Monsters: A Pop-Up Book of Colors by Matt Mitter
Monster Hug by David Ezra Stein
Little Monsters by Jan Pienkowski
Hungry Monster ABC: An Alphabet Book by Susan Heyboer O'Keefe
One Hungry Monster: A Counting Book in Rhyme by Susan Heyboer O'Keefe
Monster Goose by Judy Sierra
Monster Motel by Douglas Florian

For older children:

Monsterology: The Complete Book of Monstrous Beasts by Ernest Dr. Drake
Monster Mad Libs by Roger Price

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

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15. Walk Like An Egyptian: Fun Gift Ideas 2008

Fun With Hieroglyphs by Catharine Roehrig. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Includes 24 rubber stamps, ink pad, and full-color book.)

Pyramids and Mummies by Anne Bolton.


Egyptology Code-Writing Kit.

50 Hands On Activities to Experience Ancient Egypt by Avery Hart and Paul Mantell

Mummies Made In Egypt by Aliki.

Pyramid by David Macaulay

© Becky Laney of Young Readers

1 Comments on Walk Like An Egyptian: Fun Gift Ideas 2008, last added: 11/7/2008
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