Friday, January 27, 2012

Over and Under the Snow review

Over and Under the Snow

Over the snow, the world is hushed and white.

But under the snow is a secret world of squirrels and snowshoe hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals who live through the winter, safe and warm under the snow.
(goodreads summary)

Our winter in Wisconsin this year is not much to speak of... We finally had our first snowfall and cold snap a couple of weeks ago.  For the past two days, the snow we did receive (only about 4-5 inches) is now melting away and the grass is peeking through. Not much fun for us skiers, snowshoers and friendly snowman builders. So to put us back in the spirit of winter, I found this beautiful book about animals living in a secret kingdom underneath our world. A little girl and her father are skiing through the woods and exploring what winter has to offer. She learns about how animals make homes underneath her while she glides above them through the snow. The text has soft, gentle and nice descriptive word choices. I was reading as if I were there taking in the magical moments myself.  The illustrations are peaceful and full of wonderment as you look around and spot the living things hidden underground. This is a wonderful book to learn about animal habitats and how different creatures survive the winter months.  I enjoyed the back of the book where the author has a special note and various descriptions of each animal mentioned in the story.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Over and Under the Snow
Author: Kate Messner, Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Pub. Date: 2011, Chronicle Books
Picture Book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Follow Friday - January 27

Gain New Blog Followers
Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme which is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read that expands your blog following. It is a great way to meet new bloggers! Each week there is a great question and each host will have a featured blog too. I have been a follower of Alison's blog for the past year and finally decided to join on this hop. I hope to hop from time-to-time!

This week's question is:

Q: Which book genre do you avoid at all costs and why?

My Answer:   One genre that I have never found myself really getting into would be Romance. I don't totally avoid it but just don't find myself going out to look for them.  I really never cared for Harlequin stories and some are just to overdone and unrealistic for me. I have a couple of favorite authors though like Nicholas Sparks and Santa Montefiore that I stick with because I love their writing styles. That would be about the only ones for a romance novel unless I find a good one by accident.

Looking forward to reading what your answer is to this weeks topic.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Sniffles for Bear review

The Sniffles for Bear
The relentlessly cheery Mouse pushes a cold-suffering Bear to new heights of melodrama in a hilarious new adventure starring the unlikely pair. Bear has a terrible cold. In fact, Bear is quite sure that no one has ever been as sick as he is. When Mouse comes tap, tap, tapping on his front door eager to make Bear "as good as new" by reading a sunny story, singing a rousing chorus and plinking a twangy tune on her banjo, the pitifully coughing Bear - growing weaker by the minute - is convinced that his tiny friend does not appreciate the gravity of the situation. (goodreads summary)

Poor Bear...he is definitely under the weather and little Mouse is so eager to help him feel better. This is a delightful story that will give a giggle or two as you read how Mouse tries so hard to help Bear feel better but Bear just seems to be beside himself with misery. He even thinks he's dying and decides he must make a will, his illness is that bad. The illustrations are so cute and witty as Bear being ever-so dramatic in expression. Mouse is just as adorable with his keep trying anything attitude to help him feel better. This makes for a great read-aloud as the text flowed nicely and it would be fun to read Bear's character with an overly dramatic voice that matches the pictures. The story shows what being a good friend is like and there is a heartwarming role reversal in the end. This is a nice addition to the Bear and Mouse series for this funny duo and I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~
Title: The Sniffles for Bear
Author: Bonny Becker, Illustrated by Kady McDonald Denton
Pub. Date: September 2011, Candlewick Press
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Adventures of Tintin review

The Adventures of Tintin

Don't miss this expanded novelization of the action-packed film! Tintin stumbles across a model ship at the Old Street Market. Only it isn't any model ship--it holds a piece of the puzzle to finding the resting place of Red Rackham's treasure! But Tintin isn't the only ones after the notorious pirate's booty. With dangerous treasure seekers at their heels, Tintin and his dog, Snowy, are on a high-stakes thrill ride, that takes them from land to sea, from open air to the ocean floor! (goodreads summary)

Tintin is a young newspaper reporter who loves a good story!  While perusing the local market, he purchases a model ship only to find he is not the only person interested in this fascinating item. Barnaby, an American, gives Tintin a verbal warning about the ship and Sakharine, a man insisting on purchasing it even after Tintin tells him no. Curious as to why so much interest, he examines the model and finds a parchment hidden inside the mast with a secret message. With his reporter instincts, he sets out to discover the origins of the ship and learns that the Unicorn was commandeered by Sir Francis Haddock and holds an exciting mystery of pirates and possible hidden treasure. The tale of the Unicorn states that it sailed the Barbados Seas in 1676 but was attacked by pirates leaving Captain Haddock as the only lone survivor. According to the Captain, there is a secret behind the Unicorn that only a true Haddock will find. When his apartment is ransacked and the model is stolen, Tintin's nose for reporting kicks in. With his trusted dog Snowy, the two embark on an exciting adventure and discover the truth behind the Unicorn that takes him not only to many places but meeting many unusual people that could help make this the best story ever!

I don't recall ever reading a book filled with so much adventure starting on page one and continuing all the way to the end.  The nonstop action kept rolling along from one exciting part to another and it was truly a fun read.  The details of Tintin being kidnapped, a daring escape from a large vessel, outsmarting henchmen and flying an airplane for the first time over rough seas (just to name a few) gave me images of Indiana Jones. Tintin and Snowy are highly intelligent characters and extremely diligent on piecing together one clue after another of this puzzle leading them to the true story and making for a great pair of heroes. Several other characters also make it lively, funny and no doubt heart pounding at times from the bumbling Interpol Detectives to the Villain who is also looking for his own answers to the mystery.  There are several things that do stand out in the book. A character is shot and killed on Tintin's front porch steps along with other scenes of bullets flying. There is also the breaking of whiskey bottles either being thrown at people or over their heads knocking them out cold. Even Tintin gets knocked out with a clunking of a candlestick over his head. There was quite a bit of alcohol references and drunkenness on the part of Captain Haddock too but his character developed in the end.  All of these together would make for a good discussion about what is reality and what is entertainment. I did find this fast-paced story interesting and know it will keep readers wanting to read until the end. I enjoyed the exciting plot and writing style that took me from a laugh to an Oh No, look out! part with a turn of a page.  I do look forward to watching the movie but satisfied I read the book for now. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 10 and up.~

Title: The Adventures of Tintin
Author: Alex Irvine
Pub. date: November 2011, Little, Brown & Co.
Genre: adventure, mystery, middle grade
Hardcover, 227 pgs.

Friday, January 13, 2012

No Two Alike review

No Two Alike

No two snowflakes are alike, almost, almost . . . but not quite.

Follow a pair of birds on a snowflake-filled journey though a gorgeous winter landscape to explore how everything, everywhere is wonderfully unique--from branches and leaves to forests and trees to friends and loved ones. (goodreads summary)

Two charming little birds flutter about the forest during a wintry, white snowstorm finding no two things are alike from leaves, to bridges or fences.  Although they can be the same thing, each one has its own unique quality about them.  I loved this book not only for the unique storyline, but the digitally made illustrations were colorful and eye-pleasing, putting me in the mood for a walk in the woods during a snowstorm.  The characters of the birds come to life with their actions and expressions and are just down right cute. The rhyming text flows easily and is quite simple with just a few words on a page but gets the point across of differences nicely.  In the end, the little birds find one more comparison they make and kids will enjoy the outcome.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: No Two Alike
Author: Keith Baker
Pub. Date: November 2011, Simon & Schuster
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Friday Hops - January 13

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme which is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read that expands your blog following.  It is a great way to meet new bloggers! Each week there is a great question and each host will have a featured blog too. I have been a follower of Alison's blog for the past year and finally decided to join on this hop. I hope to hop from time-to-time!

This week's question is:

Many readers/bloggers are also big music fans. Tell us about a few of your favorite bands/singers that we should listen to in 2012.


My Answer:  I am going to expose myself as one nerdy blogger today.....I do love listening to many types of genres (well, I will admit I don't like Country) but my all time favorite is Jazz and Swing Bands.  I could listen to Miles Davis and Chris Botti all day. Another favorite is Michael Buble, Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.  My kids gave me Andrea Bocelli's Concerto-One Night in Central Park cd for Christmas and I have been listening to that for the past 2 weeks. He has the most beautiful voice when he sings in Italian and I love it!

Can't wait to see what others listen to cuz I'm sure it's going to be totally different from my answers. Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Me...Jane review


In his characteristic heartwarming style, Patrick McDonnell tells the story of the young Jane Goodall and her special childhood toy chimpanzee named Jubilee. As the young Jane observes the natural world around her with wonder, she dreams of "a life living with and helping all animals," until one day she finds that her dream has come true. (goodreads summary)

I have always found the life of Jane Goodall fascinating and thrilled we can show our children their dreams can come true by reading this inspiring book with them.  This story tells of  Jane, as a young girl, growing up observing and learning all she can about the wonderful animals and plants around her. She explores the world with her favorite toy chimpanzee Jubilee fascinated by life and feeling as one with nature.  She dreams of someday living a life in Africa, helping and protecting its beautiful creatures to making it a reality for all of us to share today. The gentle watercolor illustrations complimented the story nicely and on a few pages there are actual sketches done by Jane herself when she was young. Children will get a kick out of the adorable Jubilee, who looks very real as he follows along with Jane everywhere. The text is short and simple but full of inspiration while you read about Jane's young life as she grows into an adult accompanied by her famous picture of her and a tiny chimpanzee baby reaching out together in the end.  It sends a message that whatever you dream may not be that far out of reach if you have passion and determination. There is a special note from Jane on the back page encouraging us all to help make the world a better place. The author did a wonderful job showing me "who is" Jane Goodall. This book is truly for someone who is willing to make a difference and help our children follow their dreams whatever they may be. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 4 and up.~

Title: Me...Jane
Author: Patrick McDonnell
Pub. Date: April 2011, Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre:  picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

this plus that-Life's Little Equations review

This Plus That: Life's Little Equations

What comes after 1 + 1?
Just about anything!
In this fanciful collection, Amy Krouse Rosenthal puts together unexpected combinations that always add up to something special. Whether it's "wishes + frosting = birthday" or "birds + buds = spring," each equation is a small delight. This Plus That shows again and again that life's total experience is always greater than the sum of its parts.  (goodreads summary)

I love finding books that are unique and fun! This one is definitely creative and I am happy to see that it really encourages thinking skills.  Instead of numbers and math, it puts together words and math, linking together to form a real life equation. For example; chalk + jumping = hopscotch or (snow + carrot) + rosy cheeks = winter. Of course, my favorite was book + chair = cozy. It is a wonderful concept that takes everyday math equations children learn but fits them with various words and picturing images in the mind. The illustrations go perfect with the word combinations as well. This book would work well in a classroom setting enticing kids to really put on the thinking caps and come up with a lot more on their own. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 4-8.~

Title: this plus that-Life's Little Equations
Author: Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jen Corace
Pub. date: May 2011, HarperCollins
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I Didn't Do It review

I Didn't Do It

What makes a puppy's day complete?

Swimming and then shaking water all over you. Catching "presents" for you and then bringing them inside the house. Rolling in your nice wool sweater. Snuggling in your lap. In their second ode to canine companions, Patricia MacLachlan, Emily MacLachlan Charest, and Katy Schneider once again offer an irresistible glimpse into the mischievous canine mind.  (goodreads summary)

This is definitely a book for the puppy lover! The various poems are written from a puppy's cute perspective, along with the beautiful artful illustrations, this book gives a smile at every turn of the page. The text flows nicely and filled with heartwarming thoughts I know any dog would say if they had the chance.  Each picture and poem captures the innocence of those adorable pups and is truly a book for reading aloud and enjoying. It does have humor at times and my favorite poem was "What Did I Do", where the puppy brings a chipmunk into the house for its' owner as a present. I hope I will see a book written about kittens soon. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 4-8.~

Title: I Didn't Do It
Author: Patricia MacLachlan & Emily MacLachlan Charest
Illustrator: Katy Schneider
Pub. date: October 2010, Katherine Tegan Books
Genre: picture book, poetry
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Hops - January 6

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme which is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read that expands your blog following.  It is a great way to meet new bloggers! Each week there is a great question and each host will have a featured blog too. I have been a follower of Alison's blog for the past year and finally decided to join on this hop. I hope to hop from time-to-time!

This week's question is:

 Go count the number of unread books sitting on your shelf. How many?

My Answer: Let's see......counting them should give me motivation to get to that pile once I see the number! 

Right now I currently have 14 books.  I also have 3 e-books that are at the top of my TBR list that are next and I plan on starting one this weekend. So that does make for 17....... Now that I see this number in writing, I better go get started on that pile!

Looking forward to seeing how many books other bloggers have and how they are going to tackle that pile. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pie Review


When Alice's Aunt Polly passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world-famous pie-crust recipe. Or does she? In her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her extraordinarily surly cat Lardo . . . and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice. Suddenly Alice is thrust into the center of a piestorm, with everyone in town trying to be the next pie-contest winner ... including Alice's mother and some of Alice's friends. The whole community is going pie-crazy . . . and it's up to Alice to discover the ingredients that really matter. Like family. And friendship. And enjoying what you do. (goodreads summary)

Alice's Aunt Polly is a very special person in her life. She spends time with her on Saturdays watching and learning her special tricks to making the perfect pie. Her Aunt has also won the Blueberry award 13 years in a row with these amazing pies. Although, she is very modest and humble when it came to her winnings. Aunt Polly also loved to share her pies so much with the community that she opened a shop called PIE. She does something surprising with her new business and instead of charging people, she gives the homemade pies away for free. The community decides to bring ingredients to Polly in exchange and everyone has their own special favorite that she makes just for them.  She is known by people from all over and has put the small town of Ipswitch, Pennsylvania on the map, since they come from just about everywhere for her delectable pies. One day, Aunt Polly unexpectedly passes away and in her Will she leaves her famous pie crust recipe to her cat Lardo and leaving him to the care of Alice. All the town residents, especially Alice's mother, is in shock as to why Polly would do such a thing and are determined to find out the secret to the pie crust recipe.  They want to become the next winner of the upcoming Blueberry contest and make the best pie ever! But when Lardo goes missing, Alice teams up with her friend Charlie and the two find there may be more to his disappearance than they thought.

What I liked best about this book was that it was a simple, good old-fashioned story.  It had a wonderful 1950's era based setting with humor, mystery and a wide variety of characters with personality.  Alice had a very special bond with her Aunt Polly who was very generous and kind.  She made pies "out of love and pleasure" as her reason for not charging for them when she opened the business.  When Polly passed away, the story touches gently on her death and depicts Alice's feelings of loss well.   Alice's mother was very jealous of Polly and her fame though. She was outspoken of her feelings towards her sister especially when the pie crust recipe was left to a cat. She was not very likable as a mother but I was glad to see that she did have some character development.  I did sense Alice's loneliness and the need of a better relationship with her mother, especially after Polly died.  But when Lardo the cat goes missing, it is up to Alice to find him and from there the story turns into a who-dunnit mystery.  It unravels with a surprising twist and the story sends a message about family, friendship and finding your own special talents.  I found it to be a cute heartwarming story that was quick-paced and easy-to-read. Every chapter also began with a pie recipe and a handwritten note of Polly's on it making the story feel realistic. The only thing missing was the recipe for the pie crust......I think this is a "just right book" for grades 4-6.~

Title: Pie
Author: Sarah Weeks
Pub. date: October 2011, Scholastic Press
Genre:  fiction
Hardcover, 180 pgs.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

If You Give a Dog a Donut review

If You Give a Dog a Donut

If you give a dog a donut, he’ll ask for some apple juice to go with it.
When you give him the juice, he’ll drink it all up.
Then, before you can say “Woof” . . . Dog is off on a backyard adventure!

The exuberant dog who first appeared in if you give a pig a party is now the star of his very own book. (goodreads summary)

If you are a fan of Laura Numeroff as I am, then you will enjoy this newest book.  As all the other books before, the text is easy to read with lots of humor and the illustrations are bold and colorful.  One thing leads to another for Dog until he ends up back where he started from. It is silly, cute and will make kids giggle out loud.  After reading it, I do admit I felt a little exhausted from dog's energy but this book makes for a nice addition to the If you Give....series. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: If You Give a Dog a Donut
Author: Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
Pub. date: October 2011, Balzer & Bray
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.