Books Make Me Happy Zippered Pouch Giveaway Winner!

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Congratulations to this month’s winner — Kimberly G.!

I’ll email you to set up delivery and I hope you enjoy your new sassy book pouch!

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Jane Austen Quote #1

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Favorite Book Criticisms #2

More of my favorite book criticisms!  Enjoy!

“I can’t imagine anyone wanting to read anymore about Artemis Fowl. He is a nasty, nasty little boy. The only way I’d ever like to read more about him is if the adventures involve him being given a good smack or two.”

Angie Manfredi

“The plot is full of holes if you’re the kind to bother about that sort of thing. It’s not likely you’ll have the energy to care about the holes, however, as you simply try to overcome plot elements such as a character using projectile flatulence as a weapon. (And I wish I were making that up.)”

DonAthos

“All in all, what a disappointment. I did not pick up this book hoping to hate it.”

DonAthos

“I can only assume that he needed some extra income to pay his sanitarium bill.”

Andreas Udby

“I read this book, only out of respect to my aunt’s money.”

Raphael

“I got this for my grandkids but after reading it, I actually tore it up and threw it into the recycle. It’s that bad.”

Chrissy the Hyphenated

“Guys, i’m warning you, don’t read the book! Books are suppose to catch your attention, well this book did the opposite, I nearly fell asleep!”

Romance Lover566

“Oh and while we’re at it let’s have a protagonist who has the depth of a slice of cardboard.”

Colin Grimmett

“Unfunny at best, dull as dishwater at worst, this Artemis is truly more foul than fowl!”

A. D. Landau

“What the heck was he thinking when he wrote this booK? “let’s try and destroy 5 thousand years of mythology and fantasy, lets make dull characters and obsolet people out of fearies”…its horrible, dont buy it, i dont care about role models, i care about the destruction of fantasy……ban this book from everywhere…”

Maximiliano Schneidewind

“I can’t recall the last time I read a book where I wished the entire cast would get themselves killed somehow, to put them out of my misery. Misery, yes, that’s a good word. All of the characters were utterly miserable in their own noxious ways.”

Liz

“All I can say is this book winning so many awards compares to those tailors who made the emperor’s new clothes being praised for their fashion sense and style.”

Susan K. Schoonover

“Please don’t buy this book . It is a waste of your life.”

MMC

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Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

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My kids recently discovered the joys of Fantastic Mr. Fox.  I read it many years ago when I was a kid and absolutely loved it!  Was it a part of your childhood too?

Premise:

Mr. Fox and his family are being hunted by three greedy farmers who are tired of sharing their bounty with the animals.  Mr. Fox must outwit the farmers and provide for his family and the other animals on the hill who are now in danger from the gun-crazy farmers.  Can he find enough food for all of the animals and keep them safe from the farmers–Boggis, Bunce and Bean?

My thoughts:

This book is super-short and could be finished in one sitting–making it perfect as a beginner’s chapter book.  The illustrations should also help keep it interesting for the younger kids.  The book pictured above is illustrated by Quentin Blake who has a very whimsical style.

Boggis, Bunce and Bean are a bit boorish–what with their nose-picking, gun-toting and general uncouth manners.  Their uncivilized behavior is nicely contrasted with the animals’ more polished manners and speech.  It’s a nice juxtaposition of the two types of characters.

This version is the one that I read when I was a kid.  I much prefer the illustrations in this version over the one pictured above and they are at least half of the reason that I found the book so charming when I was younger.  I’ll have to buy a copy of it for our family’s library once we get moved into our new house.

I recommend Fantastic Mr. Fox to children who are just starting chapter books, to fans of Roald Dahl, and to families who want a fun read-aloud book.  I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!

Possible Objections:

  • One instance of somebody saying “shut up”
  • The farmers use guns, though they don’t actually shoot and kill any animals

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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4 Favorite Children’s Books #2

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Here are more of our favorite children’s books coming your way!  Are any of these your favorites, too?

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

This book is an absolutely charming collection of poems which celebrate childhood.  Some of the phrases are dated–such as when it talks about getting dressed by candlelight, but most of the poems talk about things that are familiar to all children.  You can find many different versions of this book, so it might be best to find one with illustrations that you particularly enjoy.

My Truck Is Stuck! by Kevin Lewis & Daniel Kirk

My boys really liked this book when they were younger.  A truck that is hauling a load of bones gets stuck in a giant pothole.  As a whole series of vehicles driven by dogs lines up to help pull get the stuck truck out, a bunch of wily prairie dogs take the bones from the truck.  It’s a cute and simple rhyming book that helps small children learn their numbers.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Eric Carle

Eric Carle’s illustrations are one-of-a-kind and they are what really make this book special (okay, they’re what make all of his books special).  The simple text and colorful pictures help kids learn their colors.  Our kids can recite the book by memory now–they’ve read it so many times!

Tea Cakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons

Tosh learns about the history of his grandma’s delicious tea cakes recipe.  His great-great-great-great grandma made them when she was a slave, and she would occasionally sneak them to her kids.  The tea cakes helped remind her children to look forward to the day when their people would be free.  When Tosh’s grandma starts forgetting things, it is up to him to carry on the family’s tea cakes story and tradition.

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Wild Beautiful Places: Picture-Perfect Journeys Around the Globe from National Geographic

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When I spotted Wild Beautiful Places at the library, I had to get it.  Anything by National Geographic is almost certain to be stunning!

Premise:

Readers get to see some of the natural beauty all over the globe through amazing photography, with a section devoted to each continent.  Also, there is a short explanation of each of the places visited, as well as a few travel tips for those who want to visit the locale.

My thoughts:

My favorite part of the book is, of course, the photography.  I’m a sucker for a good coffee table book–one which features amazing photos.  This book doesn’t disappoint in that respect at all!  The photos focus mainly on landscape, with a few photos of animals and people thrown in, too.  Many of the places I had never heard of, so it was nice to see something different.  There were a good number of National Parks featured, and not just in the United States.

I don’t think that I’ll ever travel to any of the featured places (Traveling internationally with a family of seven is completely out of the question!), but it’s a nice thought to include travel tips for those who might want to visit for themselves.

I recommend Wild Beautiful Places to anybody who enjoys a good photography book.  It’s appropriate for all ages and would make an excellent coffee table book.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart

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I just finished The Mysterious Benedict Society.  Thanks for the recommendation, smile rac!

Premise:

A group of children who are without families are tasked with saving the world from the nefarious Mr. Curtain.  Does this group of kids have what it takes to foil the evil plans of a super-smart adult with seemingly unlimited resources?  Follow them to the Institute where they will have to work together–using their cunning, skill and physical prowess to prevent Mr. Curtain’s domination of the entire world!

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this story, though it’s a bit hard to categorize.  It reminds me of Harry Potter a little bit–with the kids going off to a special school.  Though it’s classified as science fiction, I’d say that element doesn’t stand out very much.  Sure, there’s Mr. Curtain’s invention which definitely falls into the science fiction category, but the remainder of the book seems as though it could happen in a very normal world.

The children whom the story revolves around are each interesting and unique in their own way.  And I enjoyed following them on their adventures and seeing how their group grew closer over time.  However, there seemed to be something missing from their characters.  Maybe it was that they were missing the playfulness and humor that you normally see in children.  There also wasn’t a lot of vulnerability.  They were a little too much like adults for my taste.  The supporting characters were interesting too, but their development seemed a bit stunted, as well.

The story line itself was interesting and inventive.  I would like to have learned more about Mr. Curtain’s plan–specifically why he was going to such great lengths to gain control.  If his back story had been more developed, it would have helped me understand his motivation.  As it was, it came across as Mr. Curtain is evil because he’s evil.  I see that there are additional books in this series, so maybe they will expand on the characters and back story at a more satisfying level.

I recommend The Mysterious Benedict Society to elementary-age kids and preteens.  It would also be a fun read-aloud for families.  I think it’s possibly a bit juvenile to appeal to high schoolers.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Booker T. Washington: Great American Educator by Eric Braun

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Booker T. Washington is another educational graphic novel for kids which I found at the library.  I’ll just keep ’em coming as I find them!

Premise:

In graphic novel form, readers learn about the life of Booker T. Washington.  He was born into slavery in Virginia and gained his freedom after the Civil War.  Booker worked tirelessly at the Tuskegee Institute to provide African Americans with the chance to get an education and better their lot in life.  He also secretly fought to gain equal rights for African Americans throughout the United States.

My thoughts:

As you already know, I am loving these historical graphic novels for kids!  It would seem that I read them just as much as the kids do.  I read Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington several years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it.  So I was curious to see which parts of his life they would highlight in this short kids book.

Booker’s life in slavery is only given a cursory glance and then it jumps right into his life after slavery–mainly focusing on his activities at the Tuskegee Institute.  I agree with his view that both the pursuit of knowledge and training in practical pursuits are important.  While it was wonderful that he advocated for equal educational opportunities for African Americans, he also recognized that in the workforce they would still be mostly relegated to jobs consisting mainly of physical labor.  At Tuskegee they taught students hands-on skills such as bricklaying, carpentry, sewing, and printing.  Of course the students also studied more cerebral subjects such as math, science, and history.  Booker was willing to work within the social confines of his time to set the groundwork for a better life for the next generation of African Americans.

I recommend Booker T. Washington: Great American Educator to families who want to give their kids a fun way to learn about history.  This book is a fairly innocuous introduction to the life of Booker T. Washington, which spares you any of the more unpleasant details. As your kids get older, they will want to read some more in-depth books about Booker T.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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English Teatime Giveaway — Cross Promotion — CLOSED

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Here’s February’s giveaway–a box of Bigelow English Teatime!  It’s another of my absolute favorite teas and I want to share it with one lucky winner.  I hope that they will enjoy it, too!

Enter by following the link below.  It’s open to participants in the 48 contiguous United States and will end on Feb. 28, 2017.  The winner will be announced on my blog and contacted through email.  Good luck!

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The Way of the Samurai Book Giveaway — Cross Promotion — CLOSED

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I’m giving away The Way of the Samurai by Inazo Nitobe!  Since this book may appeal to many different readers, I’m cross-promoting the giveaway from my homeschooling blog.

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It’s open to U.S. residents and ends February 28, 2017.

Best of luck to you!

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Star Wars ABC-3PO: Alphabet Book by Calliope Glass & Caitlin Kennedy

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Star Wars ABC-3PO was lounging on the “new” shelf at our library.  It is Star Wars and it’s a kids book–so I had to check it out!

Premise:

Each letter of the alphabet features a Star Wars character–some well-known, others somewhat obscure.  Short rhyming verses tell you a bit about the characters and there is a cute illustration on each page.

My thoughts:

As a Star Wars fan, I think this book is super cute!  It’s a fun way to introduce the characters and story elements to young kids, while keeping it at their level.  My girls aren’t at the age yet where they can watch Star Wars movies, but they can get a head start by reading this book.  The illustrations make the characters look like they belong in a children’s cartoon show–all big eyes and general cuteness.

It’s also commendable that they are trying to teach little kids their ABC’s.  It’s not just another book of fluff, but it actually serves a purpose.  That’s always refreshing to see.

I recommend ABC-3PO to Star Wars fans who want every conceivable themed item, but more importantly to those who now have their own kids.  It’s a fun, nostalgic way to teach your kids their ABC’s and introduce them to the Star Wars world at large.  Happy reading!

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Super Mario Adventures by Kentaro Takekuma

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I found Super Mario Adventures at the library and absolutely had to check it out!  As a child I remember playing the original Super Mario Bros. with my dad and siblings.  They are such iconic characters and make me reminisce about my younger years!

Premise:

Mario, Luigi and friends go on an adventure to rescue Princess Toadstool.  Bowser wants to marry Peach and has taken her captive, with the help of his bumbling children.  As he’s planning the wedding, it’s up to Mario and Luigi to defeat Bowser and get the Princess back.  But she’s no shrinking violet.  This princess knows how to take care of herself!

My thoughts:

If you are a Mario fan, you will really enjoy this book!  It has ‘classic Mario’ written all over it.  The colors and illustration style are fun and true to the original franchise.  And the language used by the characters reminds me of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show cartoon.  It uses the same style of speech and I can hear the characters saying their lines in my head as I read.  Who could ever forget Toad’s voice?  Am I right?

The book was published in 1993, still during the time period when I feel like Mario remained very true to the original.  I’m nostalgic and enjoy classic Mario motifs more than the styles that dominate today.  This one was a big winner for me!

I recommend Super Mario Adventures to Mario fans everywhere.  It’s such a fun book and it really brings you back to the younger heyday of the Super Mario franchise.  It feels like being a kid again.  And for younger Mario fans, it’s a fun glimpse at what the stories used to look like when all the old fogies were kids.  😉

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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Books Make Me Happy Zippered Pouch Giveaway — CLOSED

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Because I love books, blogging and sharing the things that I love, I’m going to regularly host monthly giveaways on my blog!  Yay!  This month I chose this really cute zippered pouch which is perfect for the bibliophile with a little sass.  If you want to be made happy by this prize, go ahead and enter!

Enter by following the link below.  It’s open within the 48 contiguous United States and will end on Feb. 28, 2017.  The winner will be announced on my blog and contacted through email.  Good luck!

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Children of China by Alethea Gold

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I found this visually stunning book the last time we made a library trip.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any for sale.  If you really want to admire it, you may have to find a library that carries it and check it out.

Premise:

This book is a visual record of the children of China.  Alethea Gold and Luca Zordan traveled throughout China to photograph children from a wide variety of locations.  Children are shown wearing widely differing clothing styles, in a variety of settings, and engaging in many different activities.

My thoughts:

This is an awesome book!  It would be a great coffee table book, but it’s probably more important as a culturally diverse look at China’s children.  Children would have a great time looking at what life is like for children in China, and seeing the huge diversity.  What better way to teach them to look beyond stereotypical ideas?

The photography is just wonderful!  I love how they caught kids in the midst of their activities, preventing the book from looking like a series of unnatural portrait shots.  There are kids in Mongolia riding horses, children dressed to the nines in the big city, and children living in a monastery.

In the back of the book there are comments about some of the photos and/or quotes from the children about what they want in life.  The list runs the gamut from wanting a TV to wanting to be an astronaut when they grow up.

I recommend this book to people of all ages.  It’s a great way to learn about the diversity of China through it’s children.  It would be particularly useful as a resource in a social studies class.

Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

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5 Literary Gift Ideas – #2

Here’s my second installment of hand-picked literary gift ideas!  The last item, the arm warmers, are something that I use when reading in the winter months. For a person with poor circulation, these are a godsend when reading!

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I Have Too Many Books T-Shirt

Magnetic Bookmarks – Crazy Cats

Stickmen Bookends

Rainbow Bookshelves Mug, 11 oz.

Knitted Long Arm Warmers

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