Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Adventures of Geo the Pebble


The Adventures of Geo the Pebble by Jay Gerald

Summary:

"Have you ever picked up a pebble and wondered where it came from and the adventures it has had? This is the story of Geo, who was born at the top of a mountain and traveled all around the world to end up in the palm of your hand."

My Review:

This is a cute story. It is fun to see what happens to Geo on his travels, and it definitely makes you think more about the rocks in parking lots and up in the mountains. It's too bad that rocks don't have some sort of tracking device so you can see where they have been. There is some humor, and a little potty humor (which isn't my favorite, but the boys and little ones will love it). The illustrations are bright and colorful. They aren't my favorite style, but they are well done. This book would be fun for a social studies class to read. This book is also great for boys because it's about rocks and it's not frilly or princessy. It would be fun to use this book as a kick-off to a rock unit. It would also be fun to have a class rock that children could take on vacations and such, and take their pictures with it all the different places they go. Then they could each write about it a class rock journal. 

Rating: G (Clean! There is that one little potty word, but even though it's not clean, it's clean-hahaha!)

Recommendation: Everyone!

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.



Monday, November 17, 2014

Raising A Reader: The Power of Reading

Raising A Reader:
The Power of Reading

I recently heard this story and thought I should share. It's an amazing success story, and 
kudos to his mom for realizing the importance of reading!

Ben Carson

Ben Carson said of himself, “I was the worst student in my whole fifth-grade class.” One day Ben took a math test with 30 problems. The student behind him corrected it and handed it back. The teacher, Mrs. Williamson, started calling each student’s name for the score. Finally, she got to Ben. Out of embarrassment, he mumbled the answer. Mrs. Williamson, thinking he had said “9,” replied that for Ben to score 9 out of 30 was a wonderful improvement. The student behind Ben then yelled out, “Not nine! … He got none … right.” Ben said he wanted to drop through the floor.

At the same time, Ben’s mother, Sonya, faced obstacles of her own. She was one of 24 children, had only a third-grade education, and could not read. She was married at age 13, was divorced, had two sons, and was raising them in the ghettos of Detroit. Nonetheless, she was fiercely self-reliant and had a firm belief that God would help her and her sons if they did their part.

One day a turning point came in her life and that of her sons. It dawned on her that successful people for whom she cleaned homes had libraries—they read. After work she went home and turned off the television that Ben and his brother were watching. She said in essence: You boys are watching too much television. From now on you can watch three programs a week. In your free time you will go to the library—read two books a week and give me a report.

The boys were shocked. Ben said he had never read a book in his entire life except when required to do so at school. They protested, they complained, they argued, but it was to no avail. Then Ben reflected, “She laid down the law. I didn’t like the rule, but her determination to see us improve changed the course of my life.”

And what a change it made. By the seventh grade he was at the top of his class. He went on to attend Yale University on a scholarship, then Johns Hopkins medical school, where at age 33 he became its chief of pediatric neurosurgery and a world-renowned surgeon. How was that possible? Largely because of a mother who, without many of the advantages of life, magnified her calling as a parent.
This story was told by Tad. R. Callister. 1 

Wow, right? I love this story! That is the power of reading for you! 
And that's how you raise a reader! 
Happy Reading!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Raising a Reader

Today's tip for

Raising A Reader

is to:

Have The Kids Read Books At Their Reading Level

If a book is too difficult to read then it will not be enjoyable and the child will not understand what he or she is reading. If the child spends the whole time sounding out words then her comprehension will suffer. And what is the point of reading if you don't understand? At that point the kids just get frustrated and they begin to say that they don't enjoy reading. Well, of course they don't! They're not experiencing getting caught up in a story because they don't understand the story. 

So, how do you determine if a book is too difficult for a child to read? 

Give It A High Five!


Open the book with your child. Open to a page, any page. Have the child read that page. If there are more than five words on that page that the child needs to sound out, or doesn't know the meaning of, then that particular book is too difficult. Yes, he might be sad because all his friends are reading it and he really wants to, but you have to be strong. I promise, he will not enjoy it if he gets frustrated. Sometimes that can be a huge motivation for kids to improve their reading. And, there is always the option of you reading that book to him!

I hope this helps!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Secret Teddy Society: Breaking the Code


Secret Teddy Society: Breaking the Code by J.S. Gilmore

Summary (From an email sent to me by the author):

Teddies don’t have claws - at least not real ones.  That’s what Waldo was thinking as he watched his best friend turn into a Were-bear by the moonlight. Waldo had no idea that a string of events would unwind all because he and Bobby Bear were caught going after the milk in the fridge by James, a stay-at-home dad trying to write his first book. Nothing happens in the teddy world that the Council doesn’t find out about because of the Teddy Network; and "no moving in front of a human" is the first rule of the Teddy Code. It’s only a matter of time before a punishment is determined for the two bears - but what and when? Sometimes the waiting can be worse than the punishment itself. Fluffy hasn’t been heard from since he was caught moving.
  James begins to write about the daily adventures of Bobby Bear and Waldo not realizing the harm that he may be causing to the Secret Teddy Society.
Waldo’s timing for breaking the Code couldn’t have been worse! The teddy world had been quiet for the last hundred years or so, but that is about to change. The Teddy Council is facing the evils of power and corruption, a product of human influence. Ballinger is convinced that Theodore is too old to run the Council and will stop at nothing to prove it.
This book provides a rare look inside a secret culture we know very little about.

My Review:

I was very curious about this book because I thought my girls (9 and 6) might like it. Cute little teddy bears come to life, what could be better? It starts out with a brief history of the teddy bear and how teddy bears began coming to life. Then it starts right into the middle of a crisis with a teddy running to the Council with some urgent news. Already this book is different than I thought it would be. The writing is good. The descriptions of places and events are done well. I could definitely picture everything that was going on, and thought the imagery was great. The characters come to life on the page. Waldo and Bobby Bear along with James, Bobbie, Tiffany, Elvis, Fluffy Bear, Dakota, and Lyle are such fun characters. I especially liked James, Bobbie, Waldo, and Bobby Bear. James' personality is outgoing and fun, and he seems like a great dad. Bobbie is sweet and fun loving. She loves her dad and her bears! Waldo and Bobby Bear are hilarious. I love the names they create for ice cream and marshmallows. This book has great potential! The problem I have with this book is that it is a tale of two stories. It doesn't know where it belongs or which way to go. One part of the story is cute and sweet, with loving teddy bears who come to life and like to drink milk. They love being hugged and love Bobbie, their human. James writes these cute little stories about the bears and reads them to Bobbie's class. This part of the story is perfect for K-3 little girls. But then there is the other part of the story. It is dark and scary with were-bears (instead of werewolves), zombie bears, a drunk, scary homeless man living in a cardboard box in an alley, and two teenage kids who try to steal a car and want to run over a teddy bear. There is also a ferocious dog, an intimidating Council, and two swear words. This part of the story is not good for those K-3 girls. I'm not sure who the target audience is. It is too much for the little girls, but I don't think the 3rd-4th boys would like the cute, sweet part of it. I also don't know if I would want a 3rd-4th grade boy reading about the drunk homeless person or the teenagers stealing the car. I wouldn't want them reading the swear words. And older kids wouldn't be interested in the cuteness of it. So, that's my dilemma. This book has potential, but I just don't know who the target audience is. I think I may have my 11 year-old son read it. If I do, I'll let you know what he says.

Rating: PG+ (Two swear words, a drunk, scary homeless man, two teenage boys who steal a car, zombie bears, and were-bears)

Recommendation: ??? I'm stumped. 4th-5th maybe, but then they might be too old for the sweet part of the story. I'd also discuss the previously noted events with them as they go.

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Five Love Languages


The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Summary:

"He sends you flowers when what you really want is time to talk. She gives you a hug when what you really need is a home-cooked meal. The problem isn't your love--it's your language! In this international best seller, Dr. Gary Chapman reveals how different people express love in different ways. In fact, there are five specific languages of love: Quality Time, Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. What speaks volumes to you may be meaningless to your spouse. But here, at last, is the key to understanding each other's unique needs. Apple the right principles, learn the right language, and soon you'll know the profound satisfaction and joy of being able to express your love--and feeling truly loved in return."

My Review:

I love this book! I've read it several times, and each time I read it I get something new out of it. The first time I read it, I couldn't believe how accurate it was, and I tried to put the principles into practice. I thought I was. But then my husband kept getting upset about a certain situation every time it happened. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. So, I went back and reread this book. Then it clicked! Oh my. Yes, I'm a little slow. But, once I figured out how to speak his love language, it has been so much better. I knew his love language before, it hadn't changed, but it took me awhile to figure out how to speak it in his way. It's so simple, yet so complex. Loving someone should be easy, right? Well, it's even easier if you know how to do it according to what that person wants and needs. There is a quiz that you and your spouse can take to determine your love languages, and then there is a whole chapter devoted to each love language. It's written well and is easy to understand. He uses lots of real life examples of people that he has worked with, and they are very helpful. What's great is that it takes things that our spouses might "nag" us with, and it puts them into perspective. So, if your wife keeps nagging you to do things around the house, then her love language may be acts of service. Maybe you've been bringing her home flowers often and you can't figure out why she's still upset, it's because gifts is not her love language, acts of service is. Does that make sense? I love it. It's also great because the same principles apply to our children. You don't need to give the children the quiz, once you know the languages it's pretty easy to spot them in your children. For example, I have one child that needs words of affirmation constantly, while another constantly wants hugs. Do you see how that works? That way you can make sure you're speaking your spouse's love language and also your kids so everyone feels loved in their own way. If you are married or in a dating relationship I highly recommend this book. 

Rating: R (It does talk a lot about "intimacy" between husband and wife.)

Recommendation: College and up. I don't think high schoolers need to read it, unless they will be getting married shortly after....



Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Quotable Quotes

Today's quote is by Neil Gaiman. He wrote "The Graveyard Book." In his Newberry Medal speech he said:

"Reading is important.

Books are important."


He continues....

"There. We who make the stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Love and the Goddess


Love and the Goddess by Mary Elizabeth Coen

Summary:

When cookery teacher Kate Canavan's perfect life falls apart she moves to Galway City. Kate's friend James urges her to love and nurture herself, but mischievous Ella persuades her to dust off her unused dating skills. So Kate explores the world of on-line dating using the name of a Greek Goddess. In the midst of a mad dating frenzy, Kate has a traumatic health scare which convinces her to drop everything and go in search of a guru. 

My Review:

Kate is a fun character. She's just your normal girl next-door. She's been married for 20-something years, and has a daughter in college. She works as a culinary teacher at a college and enjoys her life. Then everything changes. This book is about how she deals with that change and what she does to pick up the pieces and move on in her life. I like Kate. At first I thought I was kind of like her, but then when I got further into the book I realized that I'm not anything like her. But that's ok. Kate needs time to heal, and she finds herself traveling in order to do that. She finds a healer and a shaman to help her, and even though I don't really believe in those things as she does, it was interesting to read about. She also tries out online dating; some of her experiences were hilarious while others were scary. To me, this book is part Eat Pray Love (which I didn't love), and part online dating frenzy. It's different from Eat Pray Love because her reasons for finding the healer and shaman are very different, but some of her experiences are similar. I thought this book was well written. It has some fun characters in it, it has some light moments and some very serious ones as well, and it has some good messages in it. I felt bad for Kate because she hadn't envisioned going through any of it, but it was interesting to see how she coped. I didn't agree with all the decisions she made, or even where she ended up, but I, of course, wished her the best. There are some good messages about taking care of yourself and finding peace and solace in your life. It also talks about being brave and trying new things, which is good. I didn't like the messages of giving up too soon on important things, or of the unmarried "intimacy." She almost went from one extreme to the other, instead of finding a good in between balance. 

There are a lot of English (as in Great Britain) words and phrases in this book. Most of them I could figure out the meaning using the context, but there were a few that stumped me. There is some language in this book, and a lot of "intimacy." There are a few scenes and lots of discussions about it. There's even an almost-rape scene, which I did not like, and didn't think it fit well in the book. The man has an addiction to "intimacy." There are also a couple of people who are gay in the story. 

****GIVE AWAY!!!!!****
I do have a copy of this book to give away! If you are interested, you may either:

1. Comment below about which goddess you think best fits you or any funny online dating experiences you've had

2.  Comment below about why you should win. 

Pretty much, just comment and then I'll take all the comments and draw a name. You need to comment by tomorrow, November 5th. I'll do the drawing at the end of tomorrow. Good luck!!!

Rating: R (Language, a couple of gay characters, and lots of "intimacy.")

Recommendation: Adult

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Bunny Cakes


Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells

Summary:

It's Grandma's birthday, and Max's sister Ruby says they are going to make Grandma an angel surprise cake with raspberry-fluff icing. But Max has a better idea: an earthworm birthday cake topped with Red-Hot Marshmallow Squirters. Now if only he can figure out a way to add Squirters to Ruby's shopping list...Brimming with color and fun, Bunny Cakes is a wonderfully satisfying story young readers will want to indulge in again and again.

My Review:

We love Max and Ruby at this house! I admit, Ruby can be a bit bossy sometimes, but, she kind of reminds me of me. I have hopefully grown out of my bossy stage, but I may have been a little like that when I was little. I know, hard to believe, right?? I was first introduced to this book by the Read For The Record 2014 day, October 21, 2014. I worked with our school's reading specialist to help our whole school read it. 

This is a fun book. I like the colorful illustrations, Max's persistence is, as usual, annoying to Ruby, and I love that he was able to find a way to make his cake at the end. My girls (6 and 9) enjoyed it. I like that Max shows determination in writing and getting his point across. It's just a fun picture book, and there may be some cooking instruction as well!

Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone



Friday, October 31, 2014

Frankenstein


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Summary:

"'I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion.' A summer evening's ghost stories, lonely insomnia in a moonlit Alpine room, and a runaway imagination--fired by philosophical discussions with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley about science, galvanism, and the origins of life--conspired to produce for Mary Shelley this haunting night specter. By morning, it had become the gem of her Romantic masterpiece, FRANKENSTEIN. Written in 1816 when she was only nineteen, Mary Shelley's novel of 'The Modern Prometheus' chillingly dramatized the dangerous potential of life begotten upon a laboratory table. A frightening creation myth for our own time, FRANKENSTEIN remains one of the greatest horror stories ever written and is an undisputed classic of its kind."

My Review:

I have read this book a few times, and I reread it today because I realized that I haven't ever reviewed it, and I thought it would be perfect for Halloween. This is definitely a classic. I love the language and the rich vocabulary in this book. It does take awhile to get back into it, after reading many current novels, but I love it. Mary Shelley did a great job with this book. Although it is well known, the current trend is to call the monster Frankenstein, when in reality, it is the scientist that is named Frankenstein. The creature is never given a name, except for Fiend, Monster, and Creature. This book is morbid, if you think about it. And, even though technology may eventually be to where we could possibly create life, I hope we never do. The creature that Frankenstein creates is a very interesting character. He begins his life with hope and joy and innocence. The more humans that revile him, the more angry and fiendish he becomes. At times you feel sorry for him and at other times you are repulsed by him and his behavior. There are many human traits discussed in this book, and many of them are still with us today. This book is well written. The characters are very well developed and come to life on the page.

There are a few swear words, but they actually aren't really used as swear words in the book. There is no "intimacy," but there are several murders. There is also the ethics of giving life to a monster. I actually really do like this book, even though it is morbid.

Rating: PG 13+ (Several characters are murdered)

Recommendation: 14 and up


It's Halloween


It's Halloween by Jack Prelutsky

There are lots of children's picture books for Halloween, but this one is fun because it's a little longer and even has chapters! It's great for the second/third graders who want to read something a little more than a picture book. It's written in lyrical form, which is so fun, and it's all about the kids on Halloween. There are ghosts and goblins, jack-o-lanterns and witches. There are some tricksters, some goblins, and even a scare or two. The illustrations are cute and fun, and it's a story all the kids will love.

Rating: G (Clean!)

Recommendation: Everyone (Silent Read: End of first grade, second grade, third grade)