Friday, March 17, 2017

Get Crafty review


Get Crafty: Fun, Creative Crafts for Children

'Get Crafty' is a craft book for everyone. You do not need to have any previous art or craft experience to enjoy the crafts included.(goodreads summary)







With the snowstorms currently around the country, it seems like winter is not planning on going away anytime soon. To help ease with cabin fever or maybe spring break is just around the corner, here is a fun crafting book to share with the family.  What I found inside was a wonderful variety of simple craft ideas that will keep those kids inspired for a few hours.  Not only is crafting fun for for all ages but it also encourages motor development and social skills, eye/hand coordination and sparks the imagination!

After looking it over there were several interesting ideas that stood out. For example; salt dough snowmen, paper mache` vase, driftwood sailboats, decorated pirate hat, butterfly masks, mini ice cream shop, mess-free dyed pasta, pencil snake toppers, mini tea party cups, painting marshmallow people and dolly puppets made from toilet paper rolls just to highlight on a few. There are also sections on celebrations and holiday themed crafts for the year.  Each project lists things needed (some you may even have around the house now), detailed instructions and included are bright, vivid photographs showing a step-by-step process. The author placed crafting tips as a side note at the bottom of the pages that are helpful suggestions too. The various ideas are creative with a few new ones I have not seen before and are easy enough to keep the attention spans going for several hours.  These all can be done either one-on-one or with a larger group of kids for a planned party.  Any time of year can be a good time for crafting but these ideas can be done either inside or taken outside on a sunny day.

Spending quality family time together is so important today. Sometimes we just need to unplug from this hectic world and take a day to let those creative juices flow.  This book will help make those special moments together memorable not only for you but for your children as well.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-10.~


Title:  Get Crafty - Fun, Creative Crafts for Children
Author: Ali Coghlan
Pub. date:   February 2017, Mercier
Genre: nonfiction
Hardcover, 192 pgs.


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mouse and Hippo review


Mouse and Hippo

Mouse creates a painting for his new friend Hippo—and Hippo returns the kindness in an unlikely way—in this delightful story about doing your best to make a friend happy!(goodreads summary)



A little mouse finds the perfect rock in a lake to paint a picture.  His painting spot turns out to be a resting hippopotamus when it suddenly moves and tosses him into the water. Unfortunately, Mouse cannot swim but Hippo saves him.  Mouse would like to paint Hippo's portrait as a thank you for rescuing him.  Hippo is so inspired by Mouses artwork that he also wants to paint a portrait of mouse to share with him.  This is a cute and funny story about two very unlikely friends with the appreciation for each others artwork and point-of-view When the characters talk, the text is in different colors differentiating between hippo and mouse speaking.  It is simple and short making for an easy read-aloud. There is also a gentle tone of politeness between the two in conversation as the new pair develop a special friendship. The illustrations help in making their personalities stand out and in the end a bit of problem solving adds to the humor of the story of how things are seen from different perspectives. I think this is a "just right" book for ages 3-6.~


Title:  Mouse and Hippo
Author:  Mike Twohy
Pub. date: February 2017, Simon & Schuster
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs. 
 

Friday, March 10, 2017

All the Answers review


All the Answers

What if your pencil had all the answers? Would you ace every test? Would you know what your teachers were thinking? When Ava Anderson finds a scratched up pencil she doodles like she would with any other pencil. But when she writes a question in the margin of her math quiz, she hears a clear answer in a voice no one else seems to hear.(goodreads summary)



In the family's kitchen drawer, Middle Schooler Ava Anderson finds a very unusual pencil. It looks ordinary enough but it seems to have a magical power.  When she writes a question with it, there is a voice that only she can hear giving the answer.  Feeling anxious about a math quiz, she takes the pencil to school to see if it would help her on the test.  She then decides to show her best friend Sophie. The pair cause some unexpected results when they use it on the kids at school fooling them with their so called psychic ability.  As Ava becomes more reliant on the pencil, she asks some personal questions about her family but then wonders if there are some answers that are best not knowing.

If I had a magical pencil, I'm not sure if I would want to know answers to my many questions. Although, it does make me somewhat curious and it might be intriguing for kids, as in this story from one of my favorite authors for middle grade readers.  Kids will connect to Ava's worry's about test taking, friendships, personal family issues, fear of trying out for the jazz band, track and her upcoming field trip to the obstacle course. Her mild personality makes for a likeable character and the family interactions were touching throughout the story. Especially when it comes to the girls wanting to do good with the pencil helping the residents find happiness at her grandfather's nursing home. She found that her grumpy grandpa's favorite jazz artist was Johnny Hodges and taught herself to play his favorite song on her saxophone passing on instant joy for him.  Another key moment for Ava was after the pencil told her about her mom's unknown cancer and only she knew of the diagnosis. So when her mom was going to cancel a doctors appointment to accompany her on the field trip, Ava found the strength within herself to face her fear of the challenge course and do it on her own so her mom could keep it.  I also liked how the other kids cheered her on with encouragement and reading her accomplishment was heartwarming. She amazed herself so much completing it that she felt like she could take on anything. There were many more great character developments throughout not only for Ava, but also for the many other characters as well. I originally thought this book was going to be a fantasy read about a magical pencil. Instead, it turned out to be a wonderful realistic coming of age story touching on many topics such as; anxiety issues, rightful thinking, doing good for others, death, the possible cancer of a parent and facing your fears. I think this is a "just right " book for ages 9-12.~


Title:  All the Answers
Author: Kate Messner
Pub. date:   January 2015, Bloomsbury
Genre: realistic fiction
Hardcover, 256 pgs.