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Monday, December 28, 2015

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever!

I know it's past Christmas, but......

Merry Christmas!!!!

I have been completely preoccupied for the last six weeks! (You could probably tell that I have not posted as much as I usually do.) I have been subbing full-time for my daughter's class at school. Her teacher had a baby and asked me if I would sub her class for the next 12 weeks. Wow. It has been crazy! I haven't worked full-time in 14 years, since I had my first baby. That was when I taught first grade, but it has been 14 years! Let's just say that jumping back into it has been a HUGE adjustment for all of us. I'm halfway through! Six more weeks to go and then hopefully I can get back to my usual routine! I usually do my reading at night when everyone is asleep and I can't sleep. However, the last six weeks I have fallen asleep so fast that I haven't been able to do much reading. I did, however,  manage to read this book. I love this book! I have read it many times, but it's been a few years; so I was excited to pick it up again. 




The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

Blurb (from amazon.com):

"The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear, and hit little kids. So no one is prepared when this outlaw family invades church one Sunday and decides to take over the annual Christmas pageant.
None of the Herdmans has ever heard the Christmas story before. Their interpretation of the tale -- the Wise Men are a bunch of dirty spies and Herod needs a good beating -- has a lot of people up in arms. But it will make this year's pageant the most unusual anyone has seen and, just possibly, the best one ever."

My Review:

I love this book! It's so cute and full of wonderful lessons; for Christmas time and all year long. The narrator is hilarious and engaging. She has a funny personality that makes you care about her and her story. The mom is so patient and usually has a positive outlook. The Herdmans are awful. I read this to the kids and I had to stop and talk about how unhealthy smoking is, and how stealing and setting fire to things are bad choices. However, it sets a great stage for what is to come in the story. Their bad behavior makes the change that much more poignant. I won't give it away, but some of the lessons learned are to actually think about the things we do, instead of just going through the motions, and to really think about the things we believe in. It also teaches the importance of not judging others, and to not gossip. It's a quick read, yet it is such a great book to read at this time of year. Reading this book helps put things in perspective. 

Rating: PG+ (It does talk about the kids smoking, burning things, and doing all sorts of bad things. It does have a religious overtone to it-just fyi.)

Recommendation: As long as mom or dad are sitting there discussing the poor choices that the kids are making, this book is fine for about first grade and up. As a silent read I would say third grade (but I would still recommend that a parent discusses it with them).


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Christmas Bookmarks!!!

I have a VERY talented friend! Her name is Colette, and she is the amazingness (Yes, I know that's not a word, but it describes her perfectly!) behind 

If you ever need any sort of printable (planners, calendars, fabulous subway art, 
bottle cap prints, candybar wraps, Halloween BOO signs....anything, go to her site first 
(I found that out the hard way! I spent hours searching on Pinterest for something and I finally found it! Guess whose it was?? Yep, Colette's; I should have gone there first and saved myself a lot of time!). Anyway, she has this darling FREEBIE printable bookmark
that she said I could share with all of you! I know my kiddos love bookmarks, and holiday
ones are the best! So please, check out her site, and go grab your cute
Christmas Bookmarks!!!


Here is the link:

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Rare Nativity


A Rare Nativity by Sam Beeson (Images by Nina & Terral Cochran)

Blurb:

"We've all heard the song "The Twelve Days of Christmas," and we've all seen the traditional Christmas crèche. Now, author Sam Beeson and photographers Nina and Terral Cochran combine these two classic Christmas icons to create A Rare Nativity. Upon reading the first lines of the book, it's clear the narrator holds a bitter grudge as he sends his enemy crude and discarded gifts...Night after night the "gifts" pile up--shards of glass, rusty nails, gnarled twigs, and more. What the narrator's enemy decides to do with each of these odious gifts is nothing less than a Christmas miracle. The photographic creation of the rare nativity at the end of the book is both a work of art and a wonder to behold. Forgiveness is something we all need to give and receive, and A Rare Nativity opens our eyes to the act of forgiveness and the true meaning of Christmas. It's a universal message to be shared with readers of all ages. Christmas is a season for giving. Make it a season of forgiving."

My Review:

I have to admit that this book was not at all what I imagined when I opened the cover. When I think of Christmas books, I think of the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, I think of angels and wise men, and I think of happiness and joy. I think of children smiling, of carols, and of family. I also think of yummy treats. When I opened this book I expected to find those things, or things that are similar. Especially thinking of the nativity, I think of Joseph and Mary with their baby in the stable. I think of angels, wise men, and shepherds. That is not what I found when I opened this book, and it definitely surprised me. This book is very different from every other Christmas book I have ever read, and I'm still trying to decide if that is a good thing or not. It opens with the line, "On the first night of Christmas I gave my enemy a briar from a tanglewood tree." This includes a picture of a burr-like thing; I'm assuming it's a briar. It goes on like that for many pages, with the narrator giving his enemy all these awful things. In the end, there is a good moral, it all comes together, and you understand. However, I felt like it focused way too much on the negative gifts and the enemy. Maybe it's because it's Christmas, but I just felt like it was 90% negative and 10% positive, and even though the positive was good, it wasn't enough to win me over. It's still a good book, and it's a good lesson to teach my kids, but unfortunately it will not be my new favorite Christmas book. If you're looking for something different this year, then A Rare Nativity will be just the book for you!

Rating: G (It's clean)

Recommendation: Everyone

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


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

#GivingTuesday

Global Literacy Infographic
 https://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check

Infected


Infected by Nicole Trump

Blurb:

"I try to steady my breathing as I hide from one of the Infected, the man with hatred in his eyes who is stalking me. He wants nothing less than my life. If I am caught, I will be taken mercilessly. Jo is special. She has been chosen to be one of a handful of people to be frozen in time, saved for a later time, when the Infected may have taken over, and humanity will have to be restored. But as Jo goes to her freezing chamber, she wonders if this is as much an honor as everyone seems to think. She's right. Jo and her companions awaken to a world completely different from the one they left. Immediately attacked by Infected they used to call friends, Jo and her fellows, Todd and Finn, must fight for survival and run for their lives. Setting out across rough terrain in search of other uninfected humans, they learn what it means to be in constant danger. Will Jo, Todd, and Finn be able to find their fellow humans before the Infected overtake them? Will they even see the next day?"

My Review:

I'm not much of a zombie fan, so I was a little hesitant to read this book. However, in the end, I thought it was entertaining. The twist of Jo, Todd, and Finn being frozen was interesting, and it added some different plot twists along the way. I liked Jo, Todd, and Finn, and thought they were fairly well developed. Jo is usually a strong female character, but she does have her moments. I liked some of the people that helped them as well, and I thought they were good characters. The plot doesn't go a long way; I felt that some of the time seemed like they were walking in circles, but it had some surprising turns to keep the reader interested. I liked reading about the relationship between Jo and Todd. It was kind of strange with how young they were, I felt as if I were reading about an older couple, but even that is explained.

There isn't any profanity that I can remember in this book. There really isn't any "intimacy," although there is some kissing and cuddling. There is quite a bit of violence though. There are a bunch of Infected killed, and there is some graphic fighting. Overall, though, I was entertained.

Rating: PG+ (Little to no profanity, no "intimacy," some minor kissing and cuddling, but a lot of violence, and some of it is graphic.)

Recommendation: 12 and up. This book is fine for older middle-graders (6th grade)

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