Children of China by Alethea Gold

children-of-china

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

Advertisements

Fairy World: Enter the Magical and Mysterious Realm by Stella A. Caldwell

fairy-world-1

This post contains an affiliate link.

Fairy World came to us from the library of the next town over.  Yes, I’m getting to the end of the stack.  They just have a better selection of books than we have here in town.

Premise:

Fairy World is a guide to all things fairy.  It is presented as the author’s research on fairies, which she is supposed to have seen at various times.  It includes sections on A World of Fairies (location & appearance), Fairy Kingdoms, Enchantment, and Blessings and Curses.  There are also case studies scattered throughout the book, which tell about related creatures (Dryad, Boggart, Selkie, etc.).

My thoughts:

What can I say about this book?  It is completely charming and celebrates the whimsical and enchanting world of fairies (and their kin).  I think the book does an admirable job of briefly covering the many different areas that have to do with fairy lore.  Though I’m a bit old to really appreciate and enjoy this book now, I would have loved it as a child.  I enjoyed anything make-believe and magical.  My girls, of course, love fairies.

I like the illustrations in this book–they’re a fun mixture of enhanced photos, charming drawings, and cobbled-together fantasy lands.  Any child who likes fairies will enjoy all of the visuals.

I would recommend this book for elementary through preteen children.  They are probably the audience most likely to enjoy immersing themselves in the fairy world (though there are sure to be some adult fairy fans out there, too).

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

fairy-world-2

Super Shark Encyclopedia and Other Creatures of the Deep by Derek Harvey

super-shark-1

This post contains an affiliate link.

Super Shark Encyclopedia is another book that came from our out-of-town library trip.  My second son absolutely loves encyclopedia-type books, so I thought he might enjoy looking at this one.

Premise:

This is an encyclopedic book which teaches the reader about many different ocean creatures.  There is a short section at the beginning of the book which shows the different “layers” of the ocean and briefly explains them.  It has sections on Amazing Anatomy, Animal Athletes, Life Stories, Supernatural Senses, and Exploring the Deep.  Creatures are featured using full-color photography, basic statistics, and a short description.  A short glossary in the back helps out with more uncommon terms.

My thoughts:

We really like this book.  It has interesting tidbits of information about many different sea creatures, and that information is perfectly complimented by the wonderful visuals.  It’s short enough that I can look at it with my smaller kids, but contains enough information to keep my elementary-age kids reading it themselves, too.  Personally, I love any book about animals.  This one is quite engaging.

The photos in this book are amazing!  They are clear and colorful, close-up and just plain beautiful.  The pages are quite large so that means the photos are nice and large, too.

I would recommend this book for elementary through preteen children.  The entries are fairly concise and may not contain enough information to satisfy older readers.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

super-shark-2

Maker Lab: 28 Super Cool Projects by Jack Challoner

maker-lab-1

This post contains an affiliate link.

I found Maker Lab when we went to the library in a nearby town.  I was hoping that we would be able to do a few of the projects in our homeschooling, but that will have to wait.  We’re packing up to move and most of our supplies are languishing in storage right now.

Premise:

This book is aimed at kids who want to do their own maker projects.  The 28 projects fall into four categories: Food For Thought, Around the Home, Water World, and The Great Outdoors.  Each project has a supply list, clear instructions, a sample, and a short explanation about how it works.  The pictures are colorful and engaging, and enhanced by whimsical doodles.  There is also a short glossary at the end of the book to explain some of the more scientific terms.

My thoughts:

If I were a child, I would want this book!  That’s because I’m a perpetual crafter/project-tackler.  Any child who enjoys doing those hands-on projects will get excited when they see the awesome projects they can complete themselves.

The illustrations and projects are great, but there are only 28 total projects.  So while this is a fun book, it will not keep the dedicated project-maker occupied for too long.  Once you’ve tackled all of the projects, it would be a nice gesture to pass it on to a friend.

I would recommend this book for children of all ages.  The younger ones will need help with the projects, and the older ones will gain satisfaction from completing the projects on their own.

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

maker-lab-2

National Geographic Guide to the World’s Supernatural Places: More Than 250 Spine-Chilling Destinations Around the Globe by Sarah Bartlett

supernatural-places-1

This post contains an affiliate link.

My son brought home Supernatural Places from the library.  I put it up on the shelf because I didn’t want my younger kids finding it; some of the illustrations are rather spooky.  It looked quite compelling, so I perused it one evening once the kids had gone to bed.

Premise:

This is a non-fiction reference book, which gives you a short blurb on many different supernatural locations around the world.  It covers everything from haunted houses to ancient ruins, people groups to natural spaces.  One page is devoted to each location, and includes a photo and basic information.  The sections include: Haunted Places, Vampire Haunts, Witchcraft and the Dark Arts, Sacred Places, UFO Hot Spots, and Myths & Legends.

My thoughts:

I found this book utterly fascinating, and definitely spooky!  I’m not into horror, so this is about as macabre as I like to go.  Some of the entries are icky–such as the cannibalistic clan in Scotland during the 17th century.  Most of the entries are not gory, but be warned that there are a few.  The photos are wonderful–I love reference books with good photography!

This book is a great teaser for many interesting places and events throughout history.  It’s good as a jumping off point, if you want to do more research and a fuller study of some of these fascinating places.  It would also make a great coffee table book.

I would recommend this book for older teens to adults because of the mature subject matter.

Possible objections:

  • occult themes
  • sexual themes
  • gory elements
  • general scariness

Rating: 4 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

supernatural-places-2

The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World As Your Child’s Classroom by Mary Griffith

unschooling-handbook

I picked up The Unschooling Handbook at the library in the next town over when we made it into a day trip.  What can I say?  The most important feature to us in any community is the library.  We’re geeks.

They had a decent homeschooling section, and the topic of unschooling is mighty appealing to me.  I’d say we’re already half-way there with our relaxed way of doing school.  We keep holding onto a bit of guiding the kids’ learning though, because the idea of unschooling makes my husband panic.  Daddy is not a pretty sight when he panics about the kids’ schooling.  Usually lectures ensue.

So back to the book I’m reviewing.  The Unschooling Handbook is an excellent resource for anybody who wants to learn about unschooling, or who is already doing it themselves.  Not only is this a how-to of unschooling, but it includes a wealth of information from respondents, to questions which the author disseminated.

Here is an outline of what you can find in the book:

  • Information on how to incorporate reading, writing, math, science, history, and the arts into unschooling
  • Discussion on practical matters–legal requirements, monetary and time limits, working with multiple children, support group info., how to cope with doubts & challenges, etc.
  • Lots of discussion on learning styles, educational philosophies, the parent’s role in unschooling, etc.
  • A ton of additional resource suggestions
  • Sample schedules or activity lists
  • Many anecdotes & observations from unschooling parents & children

My thoughts:

I loved this book!  It is highly readable.  The author combines facts with anecdotes and, I believe, hits on a good balance between the two.  If you’re not a person who enjoys anecdotes and testimony, you will probably be frustrated with the book.

I highly recommend this book to anybody who engages in unschooling, is considering the method, or just wants to know more about it.  I think the book would also be beneficial for parents who want to stick with a more conventional homeschooling method.  If nothing else-–it may help them gain a bit more confidence in their child’s ability to learn and grow if allowed to blossom on their own timetable.

Favorite quotes:

“Unschooling would be helpful to all children.  It’s not one particular way of learning; it’s learning at your own level, in your own interest, and at your own pace.  What child wouldn’t benefit from a learning experience like that?”

(Laura, California, p.207)

“I feel that unschooling families often know a lot more about the nature of learning and education than just about anybody.  It’s unfortunate that professional educators are generally not able to grasp that.  We have a lot we could teach them, and I’m still always surprised when I realize that they think it’s the other way around.

As time goes by, I’m more and more stunned by the questions people ask: ‘What gave you the idea you were capable of teaching your child in the first place?’  The question seems strange enough, but they picture me sitting and ‘teaching’ him as if he’s an empty vessel who can’t learn on his own.  What an obnoxious image that brings to my mind, and yet it’s a perfectly natural thing for people to think.  ‘How do you know what he’s supposed to be learning?’  Huh?  In a world as vast and complex as this one, how did we ever come to this mutual understanding that there is just one neat package of stuff one needs to get into one’s head to be ‘educated.’  Who is the official authority on what he’s ‘supposed to be learning’? ”

(Lillian, California, p.204)

“I’ve always said that homeschooling in any form is really a lifestyle choice and not just an educational choice.  Unschooling just makes it more so.  It is a decision to put children first, to respect their needs and opinions, to treat them as fully human beings and not as property.  I find that unschooling has allowed me to live more the way that I want to live, in a slower, more deliberate, more thought-out way, and not in the rat race of constant busyness and rushing from one thing to another.”

(Carol, Florida, p.200)

“Unschooling has deeply affected our lives in general.  My attitudes toward society have changed–or, I should say, have become more clear.  When we took that first anxiety-filled step away from public school, I realized that we were leaving behind our place in society as well–casting off a whole life.  I knew that people would view us differently, maybe antagonistically; I knew that I was now standing up for my beliefs by living them where people could see and pass judgment.  It has led to being more forthright in all aspects of my life, and to having more courage in confrontations of all sorts.  It’s easier to see the charades of society, and how so much importance is connected to being part of a herd.”

(Liane, California, p.202)

Rating: 5 Stars

Until next time…

Lori

Skylanders Universe: The Complete Collection by Cavan Scott & Brandon T. Snider

This post contains affiliate links.

Slime recently checked out Skylanders Universe: The Complete Collection from the library.  He and his brother are very into the Skylanders game.  It’s a craze that I don’t get, but I’m not a young person!

This book is fairly simple.  It’s an encyclopedia-style book with entries on all of the Skylanders, though it’s missing the newest ones.  The layout is nice and the illustrations are great!  It also shows you the different swaps you can do with Swap-Force Skylanders.

This isn’t high-quality literature by any means, but it is a nice book for a child who loves Skylanders.

 

Until next time…

Lori

Standing Small: A Celebration of 30 Years of the LEGO Minifigure by Nevin Martell

Standing Small-w

This post contains an affiliate link.

Son number two loves this reference book!  Standing Small is a book that really celebrates the LEGO minifigure–for all those addicted to collecting them.  (That would describe our boys!)  It starts with the origins of the minifigure, and then shows figures from some of the major series.  This includes Star Wars, Knights, Space, City, etc.

With some of the figures they show how they changed throughout the years.  That’s interesting to see.  There’s also a double-page spread in the back that shows some fan-built minifigures.

I would recommend this book for those who are obsessed with LEGOs, like my boys are.  This book is by no means exhaustive, but it is a fun addition to any LEGO library.

Until next time…

Lori

The Official Pokemon Handbook by Maria S. Barbo

Pokemon Handbook

This post contains an affiliate link.

My second son loves all things Pokémon.  He inherited this obsession partially from my niece.  Now that she is older, she is passing on a few of her Pokémon items to my son, including The Official Pokemon Handbook.  It features 151 Pokémon–from Bulbasaur to Mew.  There are also some fun extra sections, like how to care for your Pokémon and information about the trainers and gym leaders.

My son got the book home and proceeded to devour it–over and over and over again.  This is the child who loves reference-type books.  If there is a kid in your life who loves Pokémon and factoids, they will enjoy this book.  It’s older, but there are still quite a few of them on the market.

Until next time…

Lori

I Love That Minifigure by Jen Anstruther, Jonathan Green, Kate Lloyd, and Simon Guerrier

Love That Minifigure

This post contains an affiliate link.

I Love That Minifigure is another sturdy LEGO reference book to add to the collection of LEGO fans everywhere!  It highlights some of the rarest and most interesting LEGO minifigures produced throughout the years.

There are eleven sections in the book: Everyday Heroes, You’re History!, Out of This World, You’re My Hero!, Spooky and Scary, The World’s a Stage, One of a Kind, Wild at Heart, Rotten Rogues, We Have the Power!, and All-Time Icons.  Each page in a section shows one minifigure and gives interesting information about that figure.

As with all the other LEGO books, it’s well-designed and a pleasure to peruse.  Another great book for LEGO fans!

 

Until next time…

The Berserker & Slime

Minecraft: Blockopedia by Alex Wiltshire

Blockopedia

This post contains an affiliate link.

Minecraft: Blockopedia is an interesting book because it’s hexagonal.  I’ve never seen a book shaped like this before.  It’s quite sturdy and has a built in ribbon bookmark.  As I handle the book, the binding seems a little weak to me.  It’s probably because the book is heavy and the binding small–making it feel like it could tear if not handled properly.

My second son likes this as a reference book.  Each two-page spread focuses on one block or other substance that is in Minecraft.  It tells about the function of the item, how to make it, and a little extra information.

The pictures, format, and overall construction are very good.  I’d definitely recommend this book for any young person who is into Minecraft!

 

Until next time…

Lori & Slime

Great LEGO Sets: A Visual History by Daniel Lipkowitz with Kathryn Hill, Helen Murray & Rosie Peet

Great Lego Sets

This post contains an affiliate link.

Great LEGO Sets: A Visual History is a great reference book for LEGO fans, that comes with an exclusive micro-scale space cruiser.  We just checked out our copy from the library, so we didn’t get to try out the set.  😦

This is a very visually striking book that is brimming with awesome LEGO sets through the years.  It goes from the 1950’s through the present time (2010’s).  The beginning of the book contains a timeline, which is followed with a section on how a LEGO set is made.  In each decade’s section you get a bit of information about the direction that LEGO pursued and see some key sets from that time period.  On each set’s page, you learn some interesting information about that particular one.

The thing that I like best about this book is that it’s LEGO, LEGO, LEGO!!!  I recommend this book for LEGO fans of all ages.

Later,

Slime & Lori

LEGO Legends of Chima: Character Encyclopedia by Beth Landis Hester and Heather Seabrook

Chima Encyclopedia

This post contains an affiliate link.

LEGO Legends of Chima: Character Encyclopedia is a kids reference book with lots of pictures that is all about LEGO Chima.  It has a lot of information that fans would want to know about LEGO Chima characters and vehicles.  This isn’t about all of the Chima sets or the buildings.  The book also comes with an exclusive Firox minifig.  I think Chima fans will really like it!

It’s good for school-age kids and doesn’t have anything objectionable in it.

 

Later,

Slime