Showing posts with label Challenges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Challenges. Show all posts

Sunday, January 2, 2022

The Great wide Sea by M.H. Herlong

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Adventure
Source: I purchased a copy

I had purchased this book and then another reading teacher recommended it. She was reading it to her students and my students who are in her reading class kept telling me how wonderful it was. So, yesterday, the first day of the new year I sat and read it cover to cover. This is the story of not only a physical loss, but the loss of trust and belief in someone. When Ben, Dylan and Gerry lose their mother to a terrible car accident their father sells everything they own, buys a sailboat and tells them they will be sailing for a year. There is no discussion, no answering of questions, just the order to pack and go. Fifteen-year-old Ben is angry. He of course sees things from his skewed view as a teenager. It isn't until they have been sailing for about six months and he has decided it doesn't help to argue with his dad that things go from bad to worse. He has been a faithful crewman on his dad's boat the Chrysallis. Each of the boys have certain "jobs" they are required to handle and they must all learn to do everything. Then Ben comes up top to discover their dad missing.  Add to that a storm that maroons them on an island and you have a heart-stopping book.  I felt bad for the boys the way their father talked to them. However, as a parent and adult I understood the underlying cause that the boys might not understand. The three boys were well developed. You had headstrong Ben, the oldest who felt responsible for everything and had the most trouble with his father. Dylan was the studious son who had the book knowledge that would help in a lot of situations. Then there was six year old Gerry who was terrified of the water because he couldn't swim. All of these issues and what happens to all of them made for a story you had to read from cover to cover. Can't wait to talk this up this week at school. It is a must read.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

The Start of a New Year of Reading and Reading Challenges

Reading Challenge

With the pandemic, my reading has gone downhill. I really thought I would read more. That was not the case. This last year I took on a new subject to teach. I picked up a reading class and then was asked to teach Theatre. I had never taught theatre before. Once again with all the new things, my reading was not where I wanted it to be. So for this next year, I am going to complete two reading challenges. Both of them are A-Z challenges. I am not formally joining anyone's challenges. I am doing this on my own. I have made a list of books I own either in my classroom or on my Kindle that I haven't gotten to yet. I have a list of twenty-six books by title and an alphabetical list of books by the author. Below you will find my lists. I will not read them in order. Some of them have a review date. I am doing this for two reasons. First, I need to meet my goal for this school year set by a student, and this will help. The second reason is that I need to read these books and be knowledgeable enough to recommend them to my students. It is hard to talk up a book you have not read. I will post reviews and I will post links to those reviews.  Below my challenge, you will see links to some of the other challenges I considered. I even made lists for them. I am not going to stress myself as I have done in years past trying to hit all of the reading challenges. I will however introduce them to my students as I think it would be interesting to see if any of them might like a challenge.  I have attached links to where you can find the official challenges. I reserve the right to change books I have listed. The idea is to have fun and that means changing up books as I see fit.

A-Z Titles
Alone - D.J. Brazier
Bats and Bones - Jeffrey Hickey
Diamond Willow by Helen Frost
Easy Target by Tim Shoemaker

Free Lunch by Rex Ogle
The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eager
I Survived the Hindenburg Disaster, 1937 by Lauren Tarshis
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste
Katia by Bruce Judisch
Lions of Little Rock by Kristen Levind
Missing Okalee by Laura Ojeda Melchor
Ninelands by K.E. Boyer
Of Wise Oaks and Weeping Willows by Diane Robertson
Plum Springs by Dan Lawton
Quest Chasers: The Deadly Cavern by Thomas Lockhaven
The Robber Girl by Franny Billingsley
Sacred Mountains of China by Ryan Pyle
Trapped in 1867 by Christopher Francis+-
Unteachables by Gordon Korman
Voices of the Sea by Bethany Mason Harar
What Waits in the Woods - Kieran Scott
Poet X - Elizabeth Acevedo
Yellow Star -Jennifer Roy
Zane and the Hurricane by Rodman Philbrick

A-Z Authors
Burger, Ariel - Witness: Lessons From Elie Wiesel's Classroom
Ellis, Brandon - The PureLights of Ohm Totem
Garber, Dennis - Travelers and the Four Doors of Artew
Inglis, Karen - The Secret Lake
James, Steven - Blur
Key, Watt - Beast
Marshall, kate Alice - I Am Still Alive
Northrop, Michael - On Thin Ice
Ogle, Rex - Punching Bag
Preller, James - Before You go
Quaver, P.D. - Unplugged
Reynolds, Jason - All American Boys
Trump, Jacobina - Turn of the Tide
Underhill, Shawn - The Earthkeepers
Vigilante, Danette - The Trouble With Half a Moon
Xavier, Tom - Neffatira's First Challenge
Young, Suzanne - The Program

Color Coded Reading Challenge
Blue - Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose
Red - Uncle Bob's Red Flannel Bible Camp - Steve Vernon
Yellow – The Yellow Star Shines Like a Candle in the DArk - Aaron Seth
Green – The Girl With the Green Tinted Hair - Gavin Whyte
Brown – The narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown - Henry Box Brown
Black –The Black Towers - Ken Brosky
White – The Girl in the White Van by April Henry
Orange – Oranges for Christmas: A Berlin Wall Escape Novel by Margarita Morris
Rainbow –Rainbow in the cloud - Maya Angelou

Keyword Challenge 

January KeywordsLast, Girl, Dark, When, Winter, Light, Window
Girl in the Lake - India Hill Brown

February Keywords: Midnight, Never, Into, Sun, Love, Good, Spell, Search
The Cat I Never Named - Amra Sabic-El-Rayess

March Keywords: End, Fall, Loud, Queen, Woods, Nine, Beautiful, Crown

The Boy on the Wooden Box - Leon Leyson

April Keywords: Race, Now, Chose, While, Stop Burn, Red, One

One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance - Nikki Grimes

May Keywords: Thorn, Catch, Black, Under, City, Cloud, Sing, Legacy

Dragged from Under: The Bull Shark - Joseph Monninger

June Keywords: Sea, You, Hate, Perfect, Shade, Until, Beach, Little

Four Perfect Pebbles - Lila Perl & Marion Blumenthal Lazan

July Keywords: Star, Next, Infinity, Iron Word, People, Rise, Clear

Words With Wings - Nikki Grimes

August Keywords: Breath, Case, Hundred, Day, Happy, Language, Stay, Lie

Rhyming Poetry to Change Your Day - Philip Lister

September Keywords:  Bright, Here, Out, Life, Strange, Rule, Story Salt

From the Inside Out - Erik O. Ronningen

October Keywords:  House, Bone, Haunt, Body, Blood, Witch, Murder, Mystery

Keesha's House - Helen Frost

November Keywords:  Many, Boy, River, Fever, Down, Gold, Jade, Hill

Long Way Down - Jason Reynolds

December Keywords:  Still, Cabin, Night, Lake, By, Holiday, Fire

Terror At Wolf Lake - Max Elliot Anderson

If you are into, or want to try a reading challenge then you might want to try "Beat the Backlist".  All of my books above fit into this challenge and I can definitely read another to fit in that one place where a book on my list won't be out until February, making 52 books on my backlist of books that were published before 2022. That won't be a problem as the book Katia has two sequels. I learned this when checking out what else this author had written. So essentially I am officially/unofficially taking part in two reading challenges this year. Check out the "Beat the Backlist" challenge. 

Another Reading Challenge you might be interested in is the "Color Coded Reading Challenge" .  I actually have a list of books that would fit this challenge. I am not signing up officially. If I could get to it that would be great. I refuse to add any stress to my reading. 

Maybe your thing is reading books about being creative. If so then you might want to check out the "Creativity Reading Challenge".

"Mount TBR Challenge" would be another great one if you are like me and have hundreds of books on your TBR list. Again, I am sticking to the 52 book I have above, although they could count here as well.

Maybe you are a word nerd and need or want key words to help you choose a book. The "Key Word Challenge" would be for you then.

If you are into reading challenges then you might also want to check out the 2022 Master List of Reading Challenges. They have something for everyone.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Second Reading Challenge - Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

I have chosen a second reading challenge to participate in this year.  I had planned on doing this unofficially last year. I didn’t read one single book on my list. The reason is simple, if not an official challenge then it gets pushed to the back. I need that accountability.   So to help me with my backlog of books, especially those I agreed to review and found myself behind. I am officially joining this challenge.  You can find all of the rules for this simple challenge at the blog Escape With Dollycas. Just click on the blog title and you will be taken to her page for this challenge. The great thing about this challenge is that you don’t have to read the books in order. Most of the books on this list are books I’ve had for a while that I was supposed to read and review for the author. I can read them in the order I need to. As I read them I will link the books on this list to my review. You will be able to find them on my reading challenge page.

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge

B -  Book of Nonsense by David Michael Slater
C - Coming Apart by Diane E. Robertson
D - D.E.M. Quid Pro Quo by Lee Ness
E - Egmont Key A History –by Donald & Carol Thompson
F - Fear Not  by  Sue Baker
G – The Guttersnipes by Scott Eric Barrett
H - Hearts of Fire by Gracie Burnham
I - I Never Knew Him by Marie Waltersbill
J - Jex Malone by C.L. Graber
K - Killers by David Dawson
L - Liberty by  Darcy Pattison
M - Meritorium by Joel Ohman
N - Ninelands by K.E. Boyer
O - OK is Great by David Tiefenthaler
P - Picaroons and Pembertons by J.A. Knighted
Q – Qumran by Jerry Amernic
R - Rocky’s Road by Rocky Kuznik
S – The Secret Key of Mim by Nan McAdam
T - Theo and a Horse Named Rocket by W.H. Raymond
U - Up From the Sea by Leeza Lowitz
V – The Viking’s Apprentice by Kevin McLeod
W - Wand-Paper Scissors: The Amazing Adventures of Harry Moon by Mark Andrew Poe
X -  Xavier: St. Griswold College for Abandoned Boys by E.M. Cooper
Y -  Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy
Z – ZZZZ by Catriona Crehan

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Keyword Reading Challenge

Here we are the seventh day of the new year and I have finally decided to join a reading challenge.  Several years ago I would participate in all kinds of reading challenges. Then I started writing. It became too much to handle along with my full-time teaching job.  I noticed this last year that I struggled to reach my Goodreads reading goal.  As I sat and thought about what had changed over the last few years the answer came to me. I was no longer participating in reading challenges. See I do very well when I have time constraints put on me. It pushes me. So I looked through lots of reading challenges and decided I was going to participate in a few. For some of them, the books can count for other challenges. However, I am so backlogged on books I need to review and books I purchased to read for me, both physical and for my kindle. So the solution was easy, join some reading challenges. I actually went through my list of books to see if they would fit in the challenges I have chosen. I am happy to say that I had more than enough books to fit.  The first challenge I chose to participate in is a new one for me. I am real excited for this one. 

This Can be found on the blog My Soul Called Life. Just click on the name of the blog to be taken to her site. This is a unique challenge. For each month she has a list of keywords. You find a book with one of the keywords in the title and read it.  She has instructions for joining the challenge on her site so I won't put it here. Like I said, click on the title of her blog to be taken to the instructions.
I did snag her keyword list from her blog, so here they are:

Here Are Your 2017 Keywords 
JAN- Court, Fall, Of, Way, Deep, Thousand 
FEB- And, Rose, Promise, Every, Deception, Blazing 
MAR- Shall, Go, By, Silence, Her, Saga 
APR- From, Trigger, Tale, His, CrownMist 
MAY- Four, Wind, All, Fury, Days, Shade 
JUN- Without, Know, Good, Watch, One, Have 
JUL- Before, Final, All, Freedom, Life, Dream 
AUG- Sun, Infinite, Big, My, Wherever, Most 
SEP- Sand, From, Between, Ever, Reasons, Clash 
OCT- Darker, You, Ashes, Out, House, Sea 
NOV- Place, War, Heart, Why, Give, Meet 
DEC- Forget, Twilight, Only, Crystal, On, Will 

Here is the list of books I will be reading for this challenge. Each month I will come back to this page and create a link to the review of that book.

JAN- Deep Shadows by Vannetta Chapman
FEB- Waves of Deception by Hope Callaghan 
MAR- The Saga of the Brothers Mountain by Michael W. Mountain
APR- The Tale of Crucified Blunt by Areesh Fatmee
MAY- A Righteous Wind by Janice Daugharty
JUN- The Chosen One by Nicole Storey
JUL- Out of a Dream by Rosemary Hines
AUG- My Daylight Monsters by Sarah Dalton
SEP- Smugglers at Whistling Sands by George Chedzoy
OCT- Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt
NOV- A Monstrous Place by Matthew Stott
DEC- Don’t Forget to Breathe by Cathrina Constantine

Thursday, December 17, 2015

2016 A - Z Reading Challenge

A to
Z Reading Challenge

It has been several years since I participated in any reading challenges. There was a time when I would have 5 or 6 going throughout the year. Then I started writing. Between the writing of books and the reading for review, I got lost. My book piles, especially on my Kindle kept piling up. I would find a book I wanted to read, purchase it and then I would not get to it because I had a deadline for a review. I have decided that this year I am going to tackle that list of books on my Kindle. I figure the best way to do that is to schedule, IN ADVANCE, on my calendar, books for this challenge. I live by that calendar for my reviews. If it is there and I get a request I can pull up the calendar, see something already posted and schedule the review for a different day. If I don't do this I will NEVER get my pile down. My blog is called Musings of a Book Addict for a reason. I once had a student ask me if there were organizations for people like me. He was being dead serious. When I asked him what he meant he said, "You know, they have AA for alcoholics, so do they have something for book addicts like you?"  My reply to him was, "No honey, there is no hope for people like me." I laughed as I looked at him and watched him shake his head as if to say, that is so sad.  He truly felt this addiction was out of control.  He was a student who loved to read and talk books. He thought I just went overboard.

So, it is time to try some interventions and get this addiction under a little bit of control. The books on this list are for my Kindle books only. I will be crossing them off here as I read them. I may even add to the list. I will not start this challenge until January 1st, so if you have an addiction like I do, feel free to set up your own challenge.  I am not joining an official challenge out there as that seems to sabotage me. This is just my own version for my own pleasure.  I think I will also bring this up to my students to see who would like to join me.

Most of these books were purchased in 2011. With close to 3,000 books on my Kindle it is time to read them down.

Alias Dragonfly - Jane Singer 
Bone Ash - Riley Russell  
Creative Spirit: A Supernatural Thriller -  Scott Nicholson  
Down a Lost Road - J. Leigh Bralick 
Emerald River, The - J.K. Drew  
Fall Girl by Marybeth Smith 
Ghost College  - Scott Nicholson 
Healing Lily - D. Stephenson Bond
Invisible - Lorena McCourtney   
Just As I Am - Virginia Smith  
Kiss of Adventure, A - Catherine Palmer 
Love is the Higher Law - David Levithan  
Mistletoe & Mr. Hoe - Lorraine Nelson  
No Fear - Allie Harrison  
Orphaned Hearts - Shawna K. Williams  
Preacher’s Bride, The - Jody Hedlund  
Quilt, The - T. Davis Bunn  
Roseflower Creek - Jackie Lee Miles   
Surviving  September 11th - Dan Holdridge  
Trapped - J.A.Konrath 
Untraceable - S.R. Johannes  
Vision of Sugarplums, A - Jennifer Blake
Wrong Side of the Tracks, The - Mike Wells 
XGeneration 1: You Don’t Know Me - Brad Magnarella 
You Can’t Stop Me - Max Allan Collins  
ZZZZ - Catriona Crehan 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


We have our winners of the $20 Amazon Gift Cards.  

Congratulations to:

S at Snaps & Snippets    and Rachel at Rachel Turns Pages

Friday, June 20, 2014

Spring Reading Thing Wrap-Up

Well another Spring Reading Thing Challenge has come and gone. I hope you read a lot of good books.
I seemed to get multiple requests for picture books over the last few months.  This is great because I have a lot of grandchildren.  I had 27 books on my original list.  They are denoted below with an *.
I read 54 picture books, 11 Middle Grade/YA Books, and  15 Adult/Misc. books for a total of 80 books. Books on my original list that I did not get two are highlighted.  As always I enjoyed this challenge.  However as I said in my last post, I will not be able to host this or the Fall Into Reading Challenge next year.  I am looking for someone willing to take it over.  I will still participate.  However, extra duties, changes in school and the school district has made it difficult to do this justice as a host.  Please let me know if you would be willing to carry the torch for these two wonderful challenges.

Please write a wrap up post and put your link to your blog in Mr. Linky.  You will have until midnight on the 24th to do so.  I will pull and post the names of the two winners the next morning. I will also send out an email.  You will have 48 hours to reply or I will pull a new name.

Picture Books
6 Activities for Children – Eitan Hana
A Journey Into Imagination - Anat Umansky
*All Sheep Love to Sing – Paula McBride
All the Baby animals in the Wild – Emily Thompson
All the Baby Animals in the Woods – Emily Thompson
All the Baby Animals on the Farm – Emily Thomson
Bear and Bunny Go To Dreamland - Emily Thomson
Ben's Day - Mark C. Collins
Blue Baboon in the Big Balloon – Sarah & Steven Mostyn
*Bob and Larry in the Case of the Missing Patience – Karen Poth
*Casey and Bella Face Their First Bully – Anna Stover
Cat Cabby – Christina Tran
*Chickens In Birthday Suits – Nancy Mauerman
Counting From Creation - Tracy Wainwright
Dirty Bumble and clean Bumble - Anat Umansky
Don't Think You Can't - Anat Umansky
Easy as 1-2-3 Come Learn About Bugs A-Z  -  Kathry L. Novak
Exodus From Egypt - Anat Umansky
Foxy the Fox and the Vineyard – Eitan Hana
Foxy’s Birthday – Eitan Hana
Go Away Scary Thoughts - Anat Umansky
Goat and the Terror Birds – P. J.Gilbers
*Goodnight Farm Animals – Sharlene Alexander
Grandma Stinks  Mark C. Collins
*Hero Cat – Eileen Spinelli
How Babies Are Born - Anat Umansky
*It Stinks to be Pink – Kathryn L. Novak
Joey and the Net – Amos Ordan
Magical Toys – Uncle Amos
Maya & Filippo Look For Happiness in Tauranga – Alinka Rutkowsks
Maya & Filippo Look For Whales – Alinka Rutkowska
Maya & Filippo Play Chef at Sea – Alinka Rutkowska
Meet the Bugs! - Mark C. Collins
*Mia’s Tooth Fairy – Yosifia Porat
Momma Bird and Her Chicks - Anat Umansky
Mommy – Sergey Nikolov – Sergey Nikolov
My Brother is My Best Friend – Nicole Weaver
Not Another Boring ABC Book – Sharon Cohen
One Bear – Emily Thomson
Princess Rose and the Golden Bird – Sergey Nikolov
Rainboy Full of Joy - Eli
*Queen-a-Bella Finds a Best Friend – Lisl Fair & Nina De Polonia
Queen Vernita Visits Gator Country - Dawn Menge
Stinky Fumes King of the Wild – Mahamad Ali Elfakir
Tani's Search For the Heart - Keith Egawa
Ten Busy Brownies – Talia Haven
The Ancient Secret of the Leprechauns – Mahamad Ali Elfakir
The Legend of the Black Sea – Sergey Nikolov
The Secret Kingdom - Michele & Richard Bledsoe
The Ten Commandments - Anat Umansky
The Very Best You - Kathryn L. Novak
*Truthy Ruthy – Sari Barel
Why Blue? – Josh Tuininga
Why Did the Leaf Fall - Anat Umansky
Why the Giraffe is Crying - Anat Umansky
Wizard Bill's Secret - Anat Umansky

Middle Grade/Young Adult

84 Ribbons – Paddy Eger
*Across the Tumen – Moon Young-Sook
Ashlynn’s Dreams – Julie C. Gilbert
Championship Expectations – Jim Pransky
*Eye on the Iditarod Aisleys Quest – Hope Irwin Marston
*I Don’t Wanna Be an Orange Anymore – Hank Kellner
Ice Dogs – Terry Lyn Johnson
*Jayden and the Mysterious Mountain
Libby of High Hopes – Elise Primavera
Playoff Run – Jim Pransky
*Sacket’s Harbor Powder Monkey – Hope Irwin Marston
*The Case of Secrets – Alfred M. Struther
*The Rise of Mallory – Roy Huff
*The Sphere – Kevin Turner
*The Take Back of Lincoln Junior High – Roseanne Cheng
*This Star Won’t Go Out – Esther Earl
*Time Square: The Shift – S.W. Lothian
*Touch Down Tony Crowne and the Mystery of the Missing Cheerleader – Peter Guy George
A Bridge Unbroken – Cathy Bryant
Call Me Clumsy – Matt Weinrich
*Dancing in Rhythm with the Universe – Barbara Miller
Fantasyland – D.J. Starling
*First Light – Alec Frost
Keeping Score – Marc bracket
Life Lived Twice – Sherrie Wouters
Mommy’s a Mole – Eve Carson
Morgan Kane Without Mercy – Louis Masterson
Orenda – Ruth Silva
*Pilgrimage of Promise – Cathy Bryant
Retarded Girl Raised in Dog Pen – Lauren Leigh
The Hitler Dilemma – Carolyn Twede Frank
The Last Confession of the Vampire Judas Iscariot - David B. Vermont
*The Savage Murder of Skylar Neese
*The Way of Grace – Cathy Bryant

How to Promote Your Children’s Book – Katie Davis
Simply Delicious Amish Cooking – Sherry Gore  

Please Link your wrap up post with Mr. Linky Below.

The Last Confession – David Vermont

Genre: Fantasy
Source:  I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

From Goodreads:
Of all the people who ever lived, surely Judas Iscariot, history’s most notorious betrayer, must be in hell. Or maybe not.

After watching the crucifixion of Jesus, Judas despairs over what he has done and fumes that the Messiah he put his trust in has turned out to be just another pretender like all the rest. The toxic mix of emotions is too much for him to bear and Judas commits suicide by hanging himself.

He is restored to life by the Devil and made into a vampire apostle. The Devil teaches Judas to manipulate men and history. He becomes a king, a general, a teacher and a blacksmith, whatever is needed to effect the outcome of history and move it towards the goal of his new master.

Each time he is ready to move on to his next incarnation he must drink the blood of an innocent victim to be restored to his youthful vigor. But despite his many powers and abilities Judas knows there is one thing he desires and cannot have. Finally Judas meets a laicized priest, Raymond Breviary, and tries to steal from him what he was denied two thousand years before.


My Thoughts:
This was definitely different from what I am used to reading. After Judas hangs himself, the devil brings him back to life. To stop the burning and torment from hell he is told he must drink the blood of a human.  This gives him power. Satan takes him from that time period and through many more to present day. He uses Judas to bring down those loyal to Christ. Judas is fueled on because he believes Jesus betrayed him by allowing himself to be crucified. However, you must read this book to see if Judas gets what he actively seeks for years. This is one of those books that as you read it you can’t stop. It has a great twisted ending.

About the Author:
David B. Vermont began writing when he was asked to author a series of articles explaining the Catholic faith on the popular blog 52 Prayers.  He now writes regularly about his faith as the leader of an online Bible study group.  The Last Confession of Judas Iscariot is his first foray into fiction. 
He is also an attorney and accomplished litigator.  He has a wife and four children and lives in Fairfax, VA.  
You can visit his website here.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Spring Reading Thing is Almost Over

Another challenge is coming to an end.  This year's Spring Reading Thing ends at Midnight Friday, June 20th.  Remember You will need to write a wrap up post.  Let us know how you did. On Saturday the 21st I will have a Mr. Linky list up for you to link to your wrap up  post. You will have until Midnight June 24th to post your link.  I will draw a name shortly after that and post the winners on the 25th of June.  Remember I will be giving away two $20 Amazon Gift Cards.

As much as I enjoy participating in this and the Fall Into Reading Challenge I am not going to be able to continue to host them.  My duties at school and with writing curriculum for our county has made it difficult to stay up with the challenges.  If someone would like to take over these challenges please feel free.  I would appreciate letting me know so that I can continue to participate.  I almost forgot this year as I was dealing with my mother's fall where she broke both feet and her right ankle.  This was followed by the death of her sister who fell two days after my mother fell and died a week later. Between that and school I don't feel like I did justice to all of you.  For that I apologize.  I look forward to seeing what you have read.    If you have questions for me after the challenge ends please feel free to contact me with them.  Please be advised I probably won't answer you until the evening as next week is my last week for the summer of curriculum writing.  Thank you for participating.  I have enjoyed reading your list and for some of you reading reviews you have written.  Thank you for joining me in this wonderful challenge.

Sandra Stiles

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Folklore, Poetry, Art and Gators

Tani’s Search For the Heart by Keith Egawa
Genre: Folklore, Upper Elementary, Middle Grades
Source:  I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.

 My Thoughts:
Tani is a young girl who who lives near the shores of the Salish Sea in  the Pacific Northwest. Tani lived with her grandmother who spent her time teaching her the legends and ways of her people. She was preparing Tani for the day when she would no longer be there with Tani. She taught her of the Stick Indian. He was scary enough to keep children following the rules yet was a protector.

Tani learns about protecting the world she lives in from her grandmother. Her grandmother tells her that they will be coming to cut down more trees and that one day Tani will need to be the voice to stand up to them. She also tells her that Tani will need to go on a quest to find the heart of the world.  She will be helped by many  in the forest.  Her grandmother dies and Tani goes to live with her uncle’s family. Soon she hears a voice telling her she must leave for her journey.  She is helped along the way by many animals.  They in turn teacher her much.  How will Tani find the heart of the world?  Where is it?  I would recommend you read this book to find out.  The great thing about this book is that I got it as I was doing my unit on Fables, and Folklore.  My students compared it to “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss and to “The Talking Earth” by Jean Craighead George.  The sory is not only wonderfully told, buthte pictures are absolutely beautiful.  I recommend this story for all families.

Queen Vernita Visits Gator Country by Dawn Menge
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source: I received a copy in exchange for my honest review

Queen Vernita is off to visit her friends in Gator Country, In January she meets her friend Neomi. Where she learns all about the roots of Jazz music and its connection to slaves. In February she visits Sidney where she will spend her time on a paddle boat learning about it’s history. Throughout the rest of the book she spends a month with different friends learning about Mardi Gras, alligators, the French Quarter. She visits zoos, aquariums, a plantation.  She learns about slavery and the underground railroad. She sees the wonderful world of the bayou.
The reason I have enjoyed the books so much is because they are full of history and so many things for children and adults  to learn. It is done in such a fun manner that children don’t realize that they are getting history lessons.  The illustrations by Pamela Snyder are wonderful and capture the feeling of the story.  As always I look forward to reading the Queen Vernita series. They are a refreshing change of pace from the usual picture book.

The Secret Kingdom by Michele & Richard Bledsoe
Genre: Fantasy
Source: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review

This book is wonderful, but at the same time hard to classify.  We have the beautiful illustrations and then we have the beautiful poetry.  Not everyone will get this book.  I happen to be one of those quirky people that love things like this. We are welcomed into the world of dreams.  The first page tells you that you can wear your monster suit and shows the other character as a masked face with leaves for hair and a wooden body with a wooden hand holding a heart.  Then it tells you that it is good to share dreams with a friend.  This is not a young kids picture book even though is says it is juvenile fiction.  This is for the older child.  Many of the pictures are so abstract they might not get them. One of my favorite is of the green alien. The message is one of being friendly to strangers from a faraway land. It also talks about the universality of pictures.  You don’t have to speak the same language to understand art.  A lot of the art is symbolic in meaning as is the wordage.  I would definitely recommend this book to the older child.  My copy is being passed to a fellow teacher as he fell in love with the book and wanted to share it with his daughter.

Six Picture Books To Read to Your Child

Queen-a-Bella Finds a Best Friend – Lisa Fair & Nina De Polonia
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source: I purchased it
When Queen-a-Bella’s sister sends her away to find her own friend, Queen-a-Bella makes it her mission to find one. She asks a butterfly and a fish. She asks a fox who wants her for dinner. She meets Liam the lizard and asks him to be her new best friend. Everytime he has an excuse she finds an answer until he agrees to be her new best friend. Great book about how friends don’t have to be, or do things exactly the same to be friends. A lesson in diversity.


Truthy Ruthy – Sari Barel
Genre:  Children’s Picture Book
Source: I purchased it.
Ruthy had picked up a bad habit of lying to her parents and not following the rules. Her dad decided to teach Ruthy the importance of telling the truth. Her dad told her that from that point on it was okay to not follow the rules or tell the truth. Ruthy was very happy. He promises to buy her treats and play with her then does neither. Ruthy learns how important it is to always tell the truth.


Meet the Bugs! Poems and Pictures by Mark C. Collins
Genre: Children’s Picture Books
Source:  I received a copy from the author in exchange for my honest review.
Author Mark C. Collins has created a book that allows parents to share the knowledge of bugs with their youngest child. The author/illustrator has created a set of wonderful pictures that make learning about the bugs fun and not scary. His poetry about each bug gives the reader some information about each one. It may be what they eat, where they live, or how they protect themselves. This is a wonderful book that takes the fear of bugs out of learning about them. The charming pictures give a fairly accurate depiction of the bug in a cute and friendly way. The thing that made me love this book was the actual information that is in each poem about the bug. This is a must read book.


Counting From Creation – Tracy Wainwright
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source: I purchased it
This is a smart book of twelve poems of events that we can read about in the Bible. It is a great way to teach a child to count, and an even better way to teach Bible truths to a child.

You can check out her website here.


Bear and Bunny Go to Dreamland – Emily Thomson
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source: I purchased it
When Bunny announces he is tired he asks Bear how they get to Dreamland and what he needs to take. Bear’s answer is quite simple and satisfying for Bunny.  This is a cute bedtime story that is sure to relax your child and prepare them for their own trip to dreamland.


Not Another Boring ABC Book – Sharon Cohen
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Source: I purchased it
In this alphabet book Princess Nina takes readers on a trip through her adventures with the alphabet. She begins her journey by shooting apples off the head of alligators. This would be a great book to use in any classroom to teach

Saturday, June 14, 2014

From Bible Stories to Life Stories with Anat Umansky

Genre: Children's Picture Books
Source:  I purchased them.
Every now and then you come across an author who writes quality books with quality messages. When Anat Umansky asked me to check out one of her books I immediately looked it up online. The price was great so I purchased it. Then I began to check out the other books.  Although I did not review every one of her books, I review the majority of them.  These were the ones I thought I would really enjoy.  I hope you will read about them and then go quickly to purchase them. They are well worth it.

Exodus From Egypt

The Biblical story of Moses leading the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt is told in great detail and beautiful pictures in this book.  The author explains the reason the Jewish people celebrate Passover. This is a simple yet great retelling of a most important story.


The Ten Commandments

This was an excellent retelling of the Biblical story of Moses and the Ten Commandments. It stayed true to the word of God. Told in simplest of terms any young child would understand. Excellent job and well worth the read.


Why Did the Leaf Fall

When a young boy observes a leaf fall from a branch he questions why. Each answer he receives leads him to another question. The questions eventually lead back to God who shows the boy how he takes care of the smallest of his creatures. Great story,  great lesson.


Dirty Bumble and Clean Bean

This is the story of two very different dwarfs. Bumble loved to play all day. He and his house were dirty, but he didn’t care because he was busy having fun. Bean was the opposite of Bumble. He was constantly scrubbing and cleaning. He did this all day long and didn’t take time to play. Bumble slept late, didn’t brush his teeth and often had trouble finding his clothes. Bean was always up early. He organized and cleaned everything starting with himself. One day they meet in the woods. They wonder which is right, to be dirty or neat. Bumble introduces himself and talks about how much fun he has getting dirty and playing. Bean introduces himself and explains how important it is he stay clean to be happy and healthy. Both realize they need a balance in their lives, and that there is a time for everything.


How Babies Are Born

Two children, Orly and Lior are talking about where babies come from. They discuss the usual stories they have hear about the stork bringing them or finding the in the cabbage patch. They discuss the possibility of babies growing from plants. Then they begin to question where other animals come from. They decide to ask their parents but they are at work. They can’t ask their grandparents because they are off on a trip. An open book states he will answer their questions. He explains how fish, dogs and kittens are born. Finally he explains in a way children will understand without telling too much how children are made and born.  This is an excellent book for those times when children begin to ask the questions. It is a great way to start that conversation with them.


Don’t Think You Can’t

A crow sees a beautiful tomato and wants to eat it, but is afraid of the wolf. A rabbit comes along and sees the tomato bigger than himself. He too wants to eat it. The crow warns of the wolf. He gives the rabbit advice about how to hide from the wolf while eating the tomato.  The rabbit tries to convince the crow to join him. The crow is too afraid. Soon the tomato is gone and the crow realizes his fear, realistic or not kept him from attempting something he really wanted.


Why  the Giraffe is Crying

Geraldine the Giraffe cries over everything. She reminded me of a two year old throwing tantrums when someone says something she doesn’t like, or when she doesn’t get her way.  Usually she looks into her puddle of tears and sees Croakette the toad who tells her such funny things that she can’t help but laugh. This is a book you must read to find out if Geraldine will ever stop crying.


Go Away Scary Thoughts

A cute story of Dylan who is afraid at night. He fears aliens, monsters and witches. When he is visited by an angel and a fairy he learns what he has to do to keep the scary things away. He learns he must control his own thoughts for this to happen. This would make a great bed-time story to alleviate any fears the child might have.


Wizard Bill’s Secret

What if crocodiles had elephant ears and zebras had pink stripes? In this cute story Bill the wizard visits the zoo after all the people have left,  and grants the wishes of the animals. When daylight returns, the animals return to their normal selves.  The first thing I thought about after reading this book was that this would make a great read to use for creative writing.  Having students write about other things the wizard could do to the animals.  Another writing idea that popped into my head was, what if the sun rose before the wizard could turn them back.  Great mentor text for creative writing possibilities for children.

Mama Bird and Her Chicks

This is a counting book with a wonderful story attached to it.  It has some simple rhyme to it. The story is of one mother bird sitting on her two eggs.  Each time something happens to the birds to move it along then we have another number added to help with the counting.  The storyline is wonderful. It teaches children a little about birds, what they eat and their predators and also teaches them to count to ten. The illustrations are absolutely beautiful and kid friendly.  These will stay on my Kindle so that I can share them with grandchildren.

A Journey Into Imagination

This is another one of my favorites.  I love figurative language and I love to teach it.  I teach sixth grade. That is an age that can be difficult as children try to transition from the younger child to the almost teenager. Finding books that are simple and fun to teach something they might not want to learn is always a challenge.  I've had many books over the years I used to teach figurative language.  However, this one with its beautiful and imaginative pictures is by far my favorite and one I will definitely use in my classroom when I return this year.  It is a way for the child to use their imagination, something many don't know how to use, to learn about figurative language.  Thank you Anat for such a wonderful imagination.