Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Kid's Corner





             Ester's birthday is coming up soon.  I thought we should get her a book.  She seemed to be into princesses the last time we had seen her,  and so I chose one with Disney princesses.  It's a step-into-reading treasury included with six stories, a two sided princess poster and 24 miniature princess stickers. I think she will like it.




             We were at Costco and Roland didn't seem in too much of a hurry and so I took my time looking through some other books that were on display.  I smiled as I read "Everybody Loves Bacon" written by Kelly Dipucchio and illustrated by Eric Wight. 




             Besides the wonderful illustration, I found it to be a clever story on remembering your friends and what might happen to someone who gets a swelled head.  I think Tony would have enjoyed the same humor that I found, but I don't know if Ester would have felt the same charge (she is turning four.  I actually don't know how she feels about bacon)

          There were two books by Eric Carle. Jenna has always LOVED anything Eric Carle.






             I felt the first one was too juvenile for Ester and guessed she will like the Disney Princess collection better.  Roland thought we should just send a gift card.  Granted, it would be more economical from our end.  But I don't like gift cards overall.  I think Ester will be more excited to receive a book in the mail than a gift card that she wouldn't understand.  




    I suppose it really would not be that outrageous for Tony and Rochelle (Ester's parents) as it seems like they are always out shopping.

    I really liked the  illustrations and photography of Pharrell Williams popularized song: "Happy"  Ester might like it, but Tony told me  that he was sick of hearing the song,  so I don't think he would be too excited to read it to her - though  I did  consider it.




             The next book I saw was called "Invisible Fred".  It looked interesting, but the illustrations became rather boring.  I couldn't see that it would hold anyone's attention for very long. 




            The last book that I picked up was called "Robo-Sauce" written by Adam Rubin and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri.





         Once again it was a book that made me think of Jenna.  She's very into robots and imagination and creating.  That triggered some other memories of books that Jenna and I used to read together when we were still living in Kearns - some of which I have briefly mentioned in this post


            There are three or four stories which I would cry as I read.  One was called "The Robot and the Bluebird" by David Lucas.  A book about loneliness, love and sacrifice. 





            A bluebird, flying south for the winter, stops to rest with a robot who claims he has no heart.  He was left abandoned and is of no use to anybody.  He allows the bluebird to stay in the compartment which once housed his heart.  It is a beautiful story.


          Everything Max Lucado writes seems to be gold. Of course there are stories I like better than others.  The first Max Lucado I was introduced to was "You are Special". It is about a puppet who lives in the kingdom of toys (or at least that is how I perceive it; they are actually a made-up name called Wemmick's living in Wemmickville under their creator, Eli) where everyone is labeled. 



  
          Gold stars (I think it's gold stars; it's been a while since I've read it) are the best kind of labels.  Grey circles (or dots) are the worse.  The main character (whose name is Punchinello) seems to have more than his share of grey dots which he allows to affect his mood until he meets one who refuses to wear either dots or stars.  The message is simple.  The words were powerful enough to make the tears flow.  Even if I were to read it now, I am certain that the tears would come.






           On our return from Roseburg to Myrtle Creek, Jenna and I made comments about modern day fairytales, and how grateful we are that someone put a spin on things and made us stop and realize that it may have been Goldilocks who was at fault and the bears were the victims.  After all, she did break into their home, she stole their breakfast. She vandalized baby bear's chair.

            Hansel and Gretel were trespassing when they came upon the witches house.  Did they ever think to knock on her door and ask for help? They broke off pieces of the witches home and helped themselves.

            I have also seen an account where Cinderella was the one stuck on herself and the step sisters are the ones who were excluded and did have moments of displaying displeasure because of how they had been treated. 

            My favorite story from another's point of view was "Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter" by Diane Stanley.







            Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter tricks  the king into serving his subjects so that they will serve him in a respectful manner.  Her name is revealed at the end of the story.  So clever.

             There are dozens of versions of "The Monkeys and the Mangos"  I had actually never even heard of it until I checked out a book of stories retold.  I can't even remember who compiled it - though I think I do have it written down somewhere.  It's just a matter of finding which flash drive it may be on. 



            Jenna has often requested for me to tell this one, though it is very hard for me to get through - though I find a condensed version doesn't break out as many tears as the first version I read.  Here is just one version 



            I miss reading those stories to my small family members.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Think Positive

        One of the gifts that I opened on Christmas was the Chicken Soup for the Soul "Positive Thinking"  stories full of reminders not to give up and to do whatever it takes.



        As I read I think of examples from my own life:

        Karyn was agoraphobic.  Her son had gone to a mission in Brazil and had developed feelings for a certain young lady.  After he had gone back to visit, he announced that he and this girl would be getting married and living in Brazil for a while.  Knowing that he needed some support from the family, he wanted his parents there, of course. Karyn and her husband had enough money for only one plane ticket. And because of her fears of dealing with crowds, it was decided that her husband would go.

        His job seemed to complicate the situation as far as the date was concerned.  It turned out that if he wanted to keep his job, he would not be able to fly to Brazil but said that his wife might be able to go.

        The reservations were changed so that they would be in her name, and she prayed.  She prayed long and hard.  It was a mighty challenge as she had to deal with the public at Salt Lake airport.  Imagine how terrified she was to fly into Brazil and face a more crowded airport and a more people than she could imagine.  Not to mention that the majority of people there would be speaking in a foreign tongue that she, herself, would not understand.

        She, of course, tells her story much better than I do.  I remember listening to her experience, fascinated with her determination.  I would have never guessed that she was agoraphobic - especially to the point which she expressed.  Now that's positive thinking.  I hate crowds but cannot fully relate to what she had to overcome.  What strength.  What admiration on my part.

        I wish I had all the details in order to accurately share Shauna's story.  There was a huge number of widows and shut-ins that I would go visit at least weekly.  I would go to uplift them - or at least that was my intention.  But I always saved Shauna for last or visit when I was the one who needed to be uplifted.    

        She kept records and journals that she didn't want anyone to look at until after she was gone.  She was such a great inspiration.  Her story needs to be told.  I had always thought that someone should interview her for an article in the Ensign Magazine or tell her story in any one of several  themed "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books.

        I had been told that Shauna had outlived her disease by 17 years.  I don't remember the name of the disease, but it seems to me that the tissues would swell to the point of choking out all of her other organs.  We were roughly the same age, and yet she was hooked up to oxygen while I was breathing on my own.  She remained active as long as her body would allow. 

        She had such a positive attitude and would always get dressed, because "only sick people wear pajamas all day"
        I was also told that she hadn't gone back to get her nursing degree until after she had been diagnosed.  She wanted to help people and make them feel better, and served others for as long as she was able.

        Laughter truly was the best medicine.  It was what kept her going - in addition to refusing to allow anyone or anything to take her down.


I also let the words to this song fill my mind each day.  I asked Jenna to color a sign that says: Daily Proverbs.  I change the thought every other day and try hard to apply the quotes to my life.  I really am trying to think positive.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dear Mr. President



Winslow Press started the creation of a series called “Dear Mr. President” – I think a wonderful introduction.  I love the five books that were made.  I wish there was more.  I don’t know why it was discontinued – or so it seems.  Winslow Press doesn’t seem to offer publication later than 2002 (that I could see) and it doesn’t appear the site has been updated since May 2009.    Perhaps Winslow Press is one of many businesses that has had to file bankruptcy in the last decade and a half.

 
The three books I will focus on most are:





Though the Letters are fictionalized, information provided in the correspondence is based upon meticulous research.  I like how Winslow press refers reader to “learn more” though I personally did not find the winslowpress.com useful, I like the concept of getting readers interest and encouraging research.

Presidents may have opened their mail at one time, but somewhere along the way the mail was handled by the secretary and now an entire team, I would imagine.  I don’t imagine the correspondence would have existed any other way but through our minds.

The poor coal miner wouldn’t have been able to send as many letters to Roosevelt as he did, as he would not have had the means for postage.  Nor would a slave have been able to correspond as they had even less means than did the coal miner.

All letters are start out with the twelve-year-old’s point of view.  Lettie has been taught by her mistress how to read and write.  Her mistress is the only child of a widower who most likely teaches Lettie out of boredom.  She encourages Lettie to write to Abraham Lincoln who responds. 

Knowing that the correspondence will put her in harms way should others learn that a slave has been taught to read and write. The letters are addressed to her mistress.  Correspondence allows the reader to understand the purpose of the Civil War and President Lincoln’s position and a thin view of what some slaves had to go through.

I think I found the miner story the most interesting.  To be certain that he received all of the young miner’s letters and weren’t open by his secretary, Pres. “Teddy” Roosevelt had the young miner address the letters to his son.  I do think I read a small error when Teddy expressed that Kermit was 13 in one letter and then 12 in the next. 

Besides reading about the conditions that the miners had to face, I enjoyed discovering trivial things that took place during Theodore Roosevelt’s reign.  He spoke with affection about all of the animals that belonged to his children – and baby-sitting the guinea pigs – which he really did do. 

And then there was Franklin D. Roosevelt who had some good ideas.  Some did not work out to his expectations.  His correspondence is with a girl of Italian decent.  She talks about different family members having to go on strike and about the hobos jumping freight lines.  That was interesting.

I also like how each of them use big words (which are capped and bolded) to describe things and use of contractions (which are underlined) to peak reader's interest not only in history, but grammar and vocabulary as well.

Winslow Press made it a point to caption each page with the words: “To learn more about specific mines, go to winslowpress.com”, “to learn more about unions, go to winslowpress.com”,  “to learn more abut Christmas during the civil war, go to winslowpress.com”, “to learn more about the Dredge Scott Act, go to winslowpress.com”

As previously mentioned, I actually didn’t find the winslowpress site at all useful, but I do like the idea of suggesting to readers to research mentioned subjects.  Wikipedia is always helpful for me, personally. 

Once the correspondence ends, there is a time line and brief history about said president.  A snapshot of a letter in his actual handwriting and then a letter the way it may have appeared by said 12 year- old.

Another interesting thing after the letters and time line is a synopsis of how the mail was delivered at that time and how much postage costs.  For more information on the post office it gives the Winslow site.  But there are so many sources that one can go to for more information.

The “Dear Mr. President” series is beautiful.  I think it needs to be continued. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Finding Another Piece of History



I read a book a while ago and started a post about author Jennifer Armstrong.  There is such amazing passion in her writing.  Well, I’ve only read three books thus far.  But I feel the need to post something – and yet haven’t felt inspired to write.  So here is a short post that was started eight months ago, but never really finished.

The first Jennifer Armstrong book that I read was The American Story which gives a brief summery to so many who contributed to American history.  I love her passion towards history and for accuracy.

  
Currently, most of the books I read are geared to children.  Every once in a while I will try one geared to the adults, but always come back to books that are geared to the youth.  There were two Armstrong books geared to adults that I checked out from the library.  One about the Mickey Mouse Club and one about the Mary Tyler Moore television show. 

Though I had not been raised with the Mickey Mouse club or had much interest in it, I did fine “Why? Because we still like you : an oral history of the Mickey Mouse Club” by Jennifer Armstrong very informative and well written.

  
I have always LOVED the Mary Tyler Moore Show (still do) but was hugely disappointed with “Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted : and all the brilliant minds who made The Mary Tyler Moore show a classic” – for me it read like a text book.  I had a hard time becoming a part of that text.  Needless to say, I did not finish that book. But I don't imagine it would be a subject geared to children for lack of interest.


The book that I had read in May last year is titled In My Hands which I briefly mention in this post 

Irena Gutowna is a citizen of Poland before World War II.  She has a desire to become a nun but is advised to try looking into nursing first. 

She leaves her family in a free part of Poland to study nursing in a German-controlled part of Poland.  She was seventeen and had a hands on experience as she learned.

The story takes us from being captured by Russians and interegated to escape to hiding Jewish people in the house of the major she works for in the German army.

Her story fascinates me along with the several pictures displayed half-way through the book.  The fact that they were taken and survived and were retrieved.  It’s not a historical fiction as I’m used to reading.  It’s biographical.  


 I consider this biography to be an awesome treasure!
Jennifer Armstrong writes, “If I have done justice to this story, I am grateful.  If I have not, it is because I have never had to face what Irene faced.” 

I think she did tremendous justice.  I look forward to reading more books.


Friday, November 21, 2014

Some Things We Never Outgrow




            After Jenna learned to read, she was magnetized to Piggie and Gerald Books by Mo Willems. We read every single one.  We would take turns voicing Piggie and Gerald and we would act out their characters.  She enjoyed every minute.

            She reads chapter books now but will still spend time in the children’s section of the library and take a huge stack of books that Mo Willems has written and ask me to read with her. 

            She doesn’t check them out anymore.  We just read them at the library.  Last night we had plenty of time.  We had arrived at the library an hour and a half before the reading group would start.  She had at least two Piggie and Gerald books that we had never read before.  



            Reading group was short.  Ironically the book was long.  The Book of Legends –which I have mentioned here.    Part of the   “Ever After High” series that I doubt I will continue reading. 



            The book started off interesting enough.  It was fun. Clever language like “Castleteria” (cafeteria) and “hextbook” (textbook).  Initially I had checked it out for three weeks, but was unable to renew it before the group met in October.  So we went without for a couple of days before I could check it out again.

            Somewhere after 100 pages or so, the chapters seemed to drag.  I’m sure at least seven could have been cut out completely as they really had nothing to do with the story.  In addition to Apple White (Snow White’s daughter) and Raven Queen (Evil Queen’s daughter), other fairytale characters were introduced: Cedar Wood (Pinocchio’s daughter) Cerise Hood (Riding Hood’s daughter) Ashlynn Ella (Cinderella’s daughter) until the names became so overwhelming that unless the last name was attached to the character (which it usually was not) the names just sort of blended in and it was hard to remember who they all belonged to.


            I was on a mission to find out whether Raven would sign the book or not – hoping that she wouldn’t.  But both Jenna and I had become bored with getting there.  I wish I had skipped more chapters than I did.  It would have made it more enjoyable.  Last night we learned that there is also a cartoon and a line of dolls and an even bigger cast.  The whole thing is just a little compelling.



            The next book for us to read is Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke.  We won’t meet again until January – but as it’s a comic book, I would imagine we’ll be done before Thanksgiving. 

            I didn’t know it was a comic book.  I would have had Roland take it with him this morning when he took her to the dentist.  He LOVES comic books.  He knows comic books (or graphic novel, I guess)  I now know more about comic books than I had ever hoped for.

            Comics can be fun.  My favorite “comics” would be “Piggie and Gerald”


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TOO WET TO READ


I do like the weather we are currently experiencing.  But it is strange. 

 

            I left the house early yesterday. I had wanted to stop off to pick up some trouser socks that I’ll need to start wearing.  When I left the sun was shining.  I had stopped to take off my jacket and put on Roland’s safari hat (recently purchased at Hogle Zoo) and removed it along with my sunglasses before I got to the store.

            As I waited for the bus (so that I could continue on to the school) I took out a book to read. As I was reading, I noticed that light drops began to fall – not enough to concern me if the book had been my own – but it’s a library book.  I’ve already purchased more lost and damaged books than I care to admit. I’d rather not have to make a purchase for replacement anymore.

            The skies were weird.  Blue sky with puffy white clouds mixed in with shades of grey threatening to rain.  I tried to capture what I saw, but the picture doesn’t do it justice (does it ever)



            By the time I arrived at the school, it was just too wet to read – unless maybe I had had my umbrella – which I didn’t. 

            The books I am currently reading are “Cookies to Die For” by Dene Low and “The Storybook Legends” by Shannon Hale.

            “Cookies . . .” is the one I read while on the bus. It is an adult novel (that’s right – adult.  Are you impressed) a mystery-comedy, if you will, with a flavor of LDS lingo and Mormon culture.  




            Thus far Jane (the narrator) has been kidnapped by two thugs whom she calls Beard and Kid.  She doesn’t know why they’re in her home or what they want with her husband – but he is out of town – along with her boys and dogs.  But she does have neighbors.  Unfortunately for her, they are all at Church.

            Beard finds her neighbors more than annoying as they are constantly calling to find out why Jane is not at church.  Or if they can stop by or pick her up or visit, etc.  Meanwhile, Jane is still wearing her yellow scouting shirt from the previous day.  Right now it is stained with tomato and she thinks it might look like blood.  It is the middle of the night and they have left her house and are now at the auto parts company where her husband works (I’m really not that far into it)

            “ . . .Legends” appears to be part of a series called “Ever After High”.  I wonder if Jenna will want to read more from the series.



            Jenna and I do not have to have this one read until we meet in November.  It’s for the mother/daughter group that we attend.  We’ve already read the one for October.  Jenna was hoping to start on the one for May.  But I think we should do them in order.

            Actually both of them seem to have a similar theme – that is to retell fairytales from another point of view.  In this case it is two daughters: Apple White – daughter of Snow White (though I wonder why Apple’s last name would be White and not Charming for her father?) and Raven, daughter of the wicked queen.

            In the book each has completed her first year of school and has entered the second.  In the second year students are expected to sign the book of legends and follow the story the way the parents have.  Only Raven does not wish to be wicked. 

            The students have returned from summer break, and Raven is happy to see that she’ll be sharing her dorm with Madeline Hatter – who she considers to be a fun crazy type person.  But Apple has just made arrangements for the two of them to room together. 

            Last time we read, Raven had just been handed her schedule, and though she tried to make some adjustments, the headmaster wouldn’t allow it.  Jenna and I both love reading fairytales that have been rewritten in a different way from the same old, same old.

            In May (though I suspect we’ll be reading before Christmas) we will be discussing the book “Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin” by Liesl Shurtliff.  I placed a hold at the library, but it hasn’t been set aside as of yet.  I don’t know why.  The West Valley Library has a copy on display.  But as I am not a gifted speed-reader, and the “Legends” book has more than 300 pages, I’m really not in a hurry to check out another book when I have less than two weeks left on the other.  I may have to renew it – or wait until November to finish it.  

          I will be writing another review.  I've already written reviews on some of the books that we'll be reading this coming year.


        

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Horses, Elephants, Fairytales




Michael Morpurgo wasn’t born until some time after World War II had ended, and yet he was affected by the war as bombed ruins became his play ground.  It wasn’t until much later that he learned that the war had not only destroyed buildings – it had destroyed lives as well – including that of his own family.

        The books he writes tell of the history but also give hope to the reader.  I have not yet read “War Horse” but it is on my books-to-read list.  The first book that I’ve read by this author is “An Elephant in the Garden

Before the bombs had dropped on Berlin, the keeper of the Berlin Zoo had mentioned when the destruction came, all of the big animals at the zoo would have to be killed.  A woman who worked at the zoo asked if she could take a baby elephant she was attached to.  Every night when the zoo closed, she would take the elephant home and every morning she would bring it back – until the bombs came.  And then there was no point.

Morpurgo took this true account and another of a woman whose husband had joined the team of those who had tried to assassinate Hitler.  After he was executed, she took refugees into her home. 

From my understanding “War Horse” takes place in England whereas “An Elephant in the Garden” takes place in Germany.  Instead of Berlin, Morpurgo starts the story out in Dresden.  He gives the account of three family members who flee from one horrific scene to another while traveling with an elephant.

I like his style. There are so many truths about how it was for far too many.  Families torn apart before the war because of political disagreement, abandoning their houses whether willingly or not, fear of the unknown. “An Elephant in the Garden” is written in first person.  I’m hoping his other work is as well.  


I have a second book on reserve at the library.  I will have to go and pick it up within the next three days.  Looking forward to reading more.  Not just the historical fiction that he’s written, but some of his other work – like rewritten fairytales.  I LOVE fairytales with a new perspective.  My favorite thus far is called “Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter” by Diane Stanley.



Friday, March 21, 2014

Creative Book Reports





Right after school started, Jenna and I joined a mother-daughter book club at the local library.  Each month features a book with a different theme e.g. science fiction, fantasy, biography, etc.  Jenna had read the Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell and seemed to like that and was able to participate in the discussion.  She didn’t care fro the City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau.  I don’t always enjoy Science fiction but found some of it interesting.  But not enough to continue with the series.  Jenna LOVED Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George. Fantasy.  I have such a hard time with fantasies.  I was able to read Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai.  I liked the poetry as well as the history.  Jenna on the other hand, seemed bored. 

The book we’re reading currently is called PIE – a mystery - with recipes included.  First book that the two of us are able to enjoy together. Before this I liked Inside Out and Back Again the best.  Jenna’s favorite has been Tuesdays at the Castle.  Last night the group met to discuss PIE. The librarian had set up the displays to match the theme.  I really appreciate her thoughtfulness.





After each book review is a craft activity and a snack.  Last night the girls were invited to make aprons.  The treat was chocolate cream pie but the girls were more interested in the 3D apple pie puzzle which they played with and pretended to make apple pies.  I’m happy (for Jenna’s sake) that there had been so much interaction among the girls.  



Jenna also goes to the school library once a week to check out books.  She usually gets three – two written in English and one in Spanish.  She will create class book reports or projects for books she has checked out at both libraries.

Her book projects are so much more creative than the standard report.  She is allowed to choose from a wide variety of suggestions.  She has put on puppet shows, acted out, drawn pictures of, and created scrapbooks from a certain characters point of view.  For instance, after Roland and Jenna read a book called The Brixen Witch by Stacy DeKeyser, she cut out pictures of rats, two old women (one for the grandma and one for the witch) a girl jumping rope, and a fiddler to name a few.  On the cover she added a photograph of a little boy whom she assigned the named Rudy – for the scrapbook represented what he may have created himself.  She did the same thing with Junie B. Jones adding a gorilla, a stuffed toy, a baby named Oscar, a crib, and a pregnant woman. 

Jenna loves being creative and has fun with her “book reports” and I enjoy her enthusiasm and the opportunity she has been given to use her imagination.

Among her latest creations is a letter written to Barbara Park – author of the Junie B. Jones series.  She decided that after she received her grade, she would send the letter to the author.  So we searched on line for an address for Random House (as I figured that is where we’d have to send it). In our search for the address, I stumbled across this site:  I wish I had discovered it years ago.  I am very excited to start exploring it.  It was through the site that I found the author’s address in care of Random House address.   

Sadly we learned that Barbara Park had passed away just four months ago. I told Jenna I would post her letter to my blog if that would make her feel better.  It hasn’t been returned to her with grade as of yet, but I will post it when she brings it home.