Friday, May 19, 2017

Poetry Friday with a review of Fresh-Picked Poetry: A day at the farmer’s market

Here is southern Oregon it finally feels as if summer is on its way. One of the things many of us look forward to during the warmer months are our local farmer's markets. Our weekly market reopened recently, and it was wonderful to see the familiar faces again, and to get big hugs from the mushroom man and from the pie lady. Today's poetry title gives us the opportunity to visit a farmer's market and to experience the many treats that such markets offer visitors.


Fresh-Picked PoetryFresh-Picked Poetry: A day at the farmer’s market
Michelle Schaub
Illustrated by Amy Huntington
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Charlesbridge, 2017, 978-1-58089-547-7
It is market day, which means that while you are asleep “snuggled tight,” farmers are up and about harvesting, sorting, washing, and loading their crops. Then they “Hit the road / Just as dawn / pinks the sky.” By the time we arrive, with baskets and bags at the ready, their tents are up, and their tables are loaded with their wares.
   Some of the farmers, like Farmer Rick, like to arrange their produce so that it looks beautiful. He creates “cauliflower towers” and “pyramids of peppers,” and everything is always laid out in “perfect symmetry.”
   Fruits and veggies are not the only things you can buy in a farmer’s market. Take a deep sniff and it is likely that you are going to pick up the aroma of mouth-watering baked goods. Floating over the market comes “a whiff of vanilla, a whisper of spice.” We follow our nose to find tables laden with cupcakes, pies, bread, croissants, and muffins, all of which are still warm from the oven.
   Often musicians play at the market, entertaining the shoppers with their songs and melodies. Children can get their faces painted, and they can choose a dress-up costume from a big chest to wear. While they play, their grownups wait in lines to shop and to have their knives and scissors sharpened by the knife sharpener.
   When the market closes the musician’s “notes are hushed,” and the produce crates are empty. In their homes people unload their fruits and veggies, their eggs and baked goods, and their jars of honey.
   This wonderful book of poetry takes readers out into the fresh air and sunshine where they get to experience the smells, sights, and sounds of a farmer’s market. Poems written in many forms allow us to enjoy the market vicariously; from dawn to the moment when the market closes down and the farmers head home.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Books of Hope - Sidewalk Flowers

Some people think that the only way to really make other people happy, the only way to make a difference and give them hope, is to do something for them that is big, grand, and splashy. The truth is that sometimes small acts of kindness can have a huge impact on others. Making eye contact with a stranger and sharing a smile can make their day feel brighter. Calling or writing to a friend who is feeling blue can make them feel that they are not alone. Checking in on someone who is ill can make them feel that they are not forgotten. These are not big acts of kindness in terms of time, money, or effort, and yet their impact can be very big indeed.

Today's Book of Hope is a wordless picture book that shows, to great effect, just how powerful little act of kindness can be.

Sidewalk FlowersSidewalk Flowers
JonArno Lawson
Illustrator:  Sydney Smith
Wordless Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Groundwood Books, 2015, 978-1554984312
One day a father and his little daughter are walking home after doing the shopping. As they walk down the busy sidewalks in the city, the little girl sees a small flowering plant that is growing at the base of a pole. She picks one of the plant’s yellow flowers and then on she and her father walk.
   Further along she sees another flower, a purple one this time, growing out of a wall and she picks that. Near a bus stop there is a second yellow flower, which the little girl gathers up as her father talks on his cell phone. A little later the girl sees a flower that is growing near a stone lion and another pushing its way through a crack in the sidewalk.
   The father and his daughter, who is now holding a bouquet of flowers, then walk into the park. The girl sees the body of a little bird lying in the path and she carefully places some of her precious flowers on the bird, her tribute to the life that was lost. She tucks flowers into the shoes of a homeless man who is sleeping on a bench, and places some under the collar of a dog who wants to be friends. With care the little girl leaves little gifts of flowers in her wake as she and her father make their way home.
   This incredibly special wordless picture book explores the way in which accidental flowers, flowers some people even consider weeds, can bring color and brightness to a city world. What is perhaps even more powerful is the way in which the little girl gives the flowers she picks to others. Some of the recipients of these gifts may not even notice the flowers, but their lives are brightened by them all the same. The world we see in the story is made better because the kind little girl choses to give things she loves to others.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Picture Book Monday with a review of Reach for the Moon, Little Lion

Sometimes being different from everyone else is just plain miserable. For some reason other people like to make fun of those of us who are smaller, bigger, and smarter. They like to pick on people who they feel are more imaginative, more emotional, and more original than is 'normal.' In today's picture book you will meet a lion who is really small and who is teased because of his diminutive size. We also meet an animal who finds a way to give the lion just what he needs to feel better about himself.

Reach for the Moon, Little LionReach for the moon, Little Lion
Hildegard Muller
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Holiday House, 2016, 978-0-8234-3777-1
There once was a lion who was smaller than all the other lions. In fact he was so much smaller that the other animals teased him, calling out “Are you a lion or a mouse?” when we was nearby. The crocodile went so far as to say that the little lion was too small to be a lion at all. Lions are “very big,” so big in fact that they can “touch the moon with a paw.”
   That night the little lion sat on a hill and looked up at the moon, which was so far above his head. What would it be like to touch the moon, he wondered? One thing that he was sure of was that touching the moon was not something he would ever be able to do.
   A raven saw how sad the little lion was and asked him what was the matter. The little lion explain that he was sad because he wanted to be big, big enough to touch the moon. If he could do such a thing the other animals wouldn’t laugh at him anymore. Was there a way to make the lion’s wish come true?
   This charming little story introduces young children to the idea that anything is impossible, if you believe in yourself and use your creativity to find a solution to your problem. Children will be delighted when they see how the raven helps the lion. Perhaps they too can touch the moon if they want to.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Books of Hope - Creekfinding: A True Story

Creekfinding: A True Story
I am often inspired when I read or hear true stories about people who have done things to make the world a better place. They don't have to be world famous people, and the things they do don't have to have a huge international impact either. The fact that they have taken the step to do something that is bigger than themselves is enough to make me feel hopeful.

Today's picture book tells the story of a man who chose to bring back a creek that had been lost, and in so doing he brought back a rich ecosystem as well.

Creekfinding: A True Story
Jaqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrated by Claudia McGehee
Nonfiction Picture book
For ages 5 to 7
University of Minnesota Press, 2017, 978-0-8166-9802-8
Many years ago a spring “burbled out of the ground and tumbled itself across a prairie valley” and it became a creek. The water was home to fish, insects, frogs, birds, and many other creatures. Then the creek was lost because a farmer used a bulldozer to fill it in with earth so that he could plant big fields of corn. Instead of running through a creek bed, the water from the spring flowed through a ditch and it no longer offered animals and plants a habitat where they can thrive.
   Many years after the creek was lost, a man named Mike bought the field. He wanted to replace the cornfield with a prairie once more. A neighbor told him that many years ago he had caught a brook trout that was swimming in a creek that ran right through the cornfield. Mike wanted to bring the creek and the brook trout back, but when he told people about his plan they thought it was “foolishness.”
   Using an old photograph, Mike figured out the creek’s path and then he called some friends who had excavating machines. For days the machines “carved holes, dug curves and runs, tamped rocks for the creek bottom.” It was a beginning, but there was still a lot of work to be done and no one knew if the water from the spring would find its old path. A lot of things had to happen before brook trout would be able to swim in the creek again.
   All too often when a habitat is lost due to farming or development it stays lost. Thankfully for Brook Creek, Mike Osterholm cared enough about it to restore it to its former glory. The restoration process took years to complete, and Mike had no way of knowing if his plan would succeed. However, he did not let this stop him from trying, and he worked hard to make his dream come true.
   We all need to hear stories like this one; true stories about people who have brought about change and made the world a better place through their actions. Hearing such stories lifts us up, and we are encouraged to do what we can to make our part of the world more beautiful.
   Throughout the book the author’s narrative is supplemented by little snippets of information that help us to better understand creek ecology and Mike’s restoration process.  The story is brought to life by the gorgeous, colorful and textured art created by Claudia McGehee. To help her create her art she visited Brook Creek in person so that she could see its vitality and richness for herself before she put pencil to paper.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Picture Book Monday with a review of Love is

Many of us have a very one dimensional idea of what love is. We take cues from films we see and from songs we listen to. In actual fact love is quite a complicated emotion, and when it is real it is incredibly powerful. In today's picture book readers will meet a little girl who grows to love a little duck that she cares for. We get to see how her love for the little duck comes in many forms and how, ultimately, this love gives her the strength to do something wonderful for someone else.

Love IsLove is
Diane Adams
Illustrated by Claire Keane
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Chronicle, 2017, 978-1-4521-3997-5
One spring day a little duckling in a park pursues a butterfly and ends up wandering away from its family and its home to chase the enticing insect. Luckily the duckling is found by a little girl who falls in love with the fragile baby, with its “tiny wings and downy head.” She takes the duckling home and becomes its mother, which turns out to be quite challenging.
   In spite of interrupted nights, splashy bath times, messes, and the general upheavals that taking care of a baby involves, the girl loves the duckling. Somehow even when it is being annoying love prevails.
   Then fall comes around and there is a change in the air. The little girl and the duck look out of the window and she knows that the time has come. She is going to love her duckling harder than ever so that she can do what it right.
   This wonderful picture book explores how love comes in many forms. It gives birth to patience, flexibility, and a willingness to accept a painful loss. It also gives us hope.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Books of Hope - Last Stop on Market Street

Many of us are prone to seeing our world through grey-tinted spectacles. I know that I have a tendency to do this. I see only the problems and deficiencies in my life and not the many gifts and wonders around me. In today's picture book you will meet a little boy who is feeling thoroughly discontented with his life. He has a terrible case of the my-life-sucks grumps. Thankfully, his grandmother has quite a different attitude. She shows him that hope and wonderful things are everywhere, if you just know how to see them.

Last Stop on Market StreetLast Stop on Market Street
Matt de la Pena
Illustrator:  Christian Robinson
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
Penguin, 2015   ISBN: 978-0399257742
Every Sunday, after church, CJ and his nana get on a bus and travel across town to Market Street. One Sunday CJ comes out of the church building and it is raining. He does not feel like going across town in the bus today. He resents the rain, he resents the fact that he and Nana cannot travel in a car, he resents the fact that they have to go to the same place after church every Sunday. In short, CJ is not happy with much of anything at the moment.
   One would think that Nana would get annoyed by all of CJ’s complaining questions, but she doesn’t because that is not what Nana is like. Instead, she finds something good to appreciate in everything that CJ finds annoying. What would happen to the trees if they did not have rain to water them? If they had a car they would not get to meet Mr. Dennis the bus driver every Sunday, nor would they see the interesting characters on the bus. If they did not go to the same place every Sunday they would get to spend time with “Bobo or the Sunglass Man.”
   Then a musician starts to play on the bus and CJ begins to experience the joy that Nana understands so well. He begins to understand that sometimes you need to look at what you do have instead of what you don’t.
   This remarkable, award-winning title explores a simple idea through the eyes of a young child. Alongside CJ, on that battered bus, and in the dirty streets, we come to understand that there is beauty everywhere if you know how to look for it.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Picture Book Monday with a review of Toot and Puddle: You are my Sunshine


Good friends help one another out in good times and bad. They are there for us not matter what happens, ready to cheer us up when we feel down, and ready to encourage us when we need a little support. In today's charming picture book you will meet a little pig called Puddle whose best friend has a terrible case of the blues.

Toot and Puddle: You Are My Sunshine
Holly Hobbie
Picture Book  Series
For ages 4 to 6
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010, 978-0316167031
It is a beautiful day and yet Toot is very blue indeed, bluer than ever before in fact. Puddle and Tulip the parrot are worried about their friend, and yet they cannot undo Toot's glum mood and his case of the mopes. The try everything that they can think of to cheer up Toot. They arrange adventures, throw him a party, and bake a berry cobbler, and yet nothing seems to work. Then something very simple comes along and solves the problem for them.
   What is especially touching about this Toot and Puddle tale is that we can see very clearly how good friends can help one another in times of trouble. We can also appreciate that sometimes it takes something outside the friendship to fix things.
   You are my Sunshine is a thoughtful story which, like the earlier Toot and Puddle Books, shows us how enriching and precious a good friendship can be.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Poetry Friday with a review of Hate that cat

I honestly cannot remember a time when I did not love to read. Books have been my dearest of companions since I was a child. I have always loved stories and the characters that inhabit them, but it wasn't until I was in school that I really understood the power of words. One of my teachers read Martin Luther King's I have a Dream speech to us and I was bowled over by it. Today's poetry book explores the idea that words and the ideas they impart can really change a person. In this case a boy learns to change his mind about something, and he also starts to understand that words, either spoke or read, can build connections between people.

Hate That Cat: A NovelHate that cat 
Sharon Creech
Poetry
For ages 8 to 12
HarperCollins, 2008, 978-0-06-143092-3
Another school year has started and Jack is once more in Miss Stretchberry’s class and once again they are exploring poetry. Last year Jack wrote some amazing poems about his dog Sky, who was killed by a car. Miss Stretchberry asks Jack if he has any more Sky poems to share but he doesn’t. He has no more Sky poems in him, though he thinks he could write about a cat, a “crazy mean fat black cat.”
   Jack mentions that his uncle Bill does not think that the poems Jack has written thus far are proper poems because they have no rhyme, a regular meter, symbols, metaphors, alliteration, onomatopoeia, and all the other things that uncle Bill thinks a poem should have. Hearing this makes Jack want to “punch” his uncle.
   Luckily, Miss Stretchberry has a more enlightened view of what constitutes a poem, and knowing that she is on his side makes Jack feel a lot better. Mind you, she does get her students to explore what alliteration and onomatopoeia are, and Jack starts to enjoy the process. He creates a poem in homage to one that was written by Edgar Allen Poe, and in his poem he uses lots of sound words. Exploring what onomatopoeia can do for a poem makes Jack wonder what it would be like to read a poem that is full of sound words if you could not hear. How would you perceive a yip, a squeak, and a buzz if you could not hear them?
   Thanks to a cat that lives in his neighborhood, the “mean” cat, Jack does not like cats, but he does enjoy studying a poem about cats. Then Miss Stretchberry brings in her kittens, and Jack cannot help feeling that they are “fantastically funny.” He insists that he would not like one though because kittens grow into cats and cats are “creepy.” We then find out why Jack hates cats. He tried to rescue one and got clawed for his pains.
   As he continues to explore poems, Jack finds out that many people like cats. Even his hero, the author Walter Dean Myers, has a soft spot for felines. In spite of himself, Jack’s anti-cat feelings begin to soften round the edges. Maybe just a little. When Jack’s parents give him a kitten for Christmas he softens completely.
   As the days unfold Jack dives into exploring more and more poems. Poems about cats, of course, and poems that have stories, and sounds, and so much more. What he never expects is that the glorious words in poems will help him build a new bridge between himself and his mother; his loving mother who cannot hear words at all.
   This remarkable book takes us through a young boy’s year, a year full of exploration, discovery, and new beginnings. We see as his eyes are opened to so many new possibilities as he learns to love cats, to connect with his mother in new ways, and to appreciate fully the glory of the written word.

   

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Books of Hope - The Odd Egg

Often we give up hope because we believe that our dreams cannot possibly come true. They are unrealistic and unattainable, we think as we set them aside. Sometimes they are unrealistic, but should we give up completely or should we adjust our goals and keep trying? In today's book of hope title you will meet a duck who does not give up on his dream. He refuses to, even when the odds are stacked against him. This duck is inspiring!

The Odd EggThe Odd Egg
Emily Gravett
Picture Book
For ages 4 to 6
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009, 978-1416968726
All the birds have laid an egg except for Duck. Then Duck finds an enormous egg that he thinks is "the most beautiful egg in the whole wide world." Alas for Duck, for the other birds do not agree with him at all. In fact, some of the birds even laugh at the big egg.
   One by one, the eggs began to hatch, to the delight of their doting parents. Soon Duck's egg is the only that has not hatched, but Duck refuses to give up. Nothing, and I do mean nothing, is going to prevent Duck from staying true to his egg.
   In this perfectly paced, minimal, and deliciously funny picture book, children get to meet a duck who is not a quitter and who refuses to be swayed by naysayers. Instead, he maintains his resolve and in the end, he gets his just, and perfectly wonderful, reward. With its surprising ending and its cleverly layered pages, this picture book is sure to delight little children.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Little Fun Club Blog Tour and Giveaway

Little Fun Club blog tour. A subscription box for children's books. Great for kids ages 0-12.

There is nothing quite like getting a parcel in the mail, and for many of us a parcel full of books is a special treat. 

A few days ago just such a parcel was delivered to my house. I opened the box to find that it contained a carefully wrapped package that was neatly tied up with a blue ribbon. I carefully opened the package and in it there was a wonderful selection of  books for children. For toddlers there was Wolf Crunch, a novelty board book that has tabs to pull and a delightful, and surprising, ending. For older children there was Last Stop on Market Street, an award winning picture book that shows us that joy can be found in the most unlikely of places. Finally, there was a beautifully illustrated edition of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which would suit teenage and adult readers. 

The parcel of books was a sample of what Little Fun Club offers, and a subscription to this service would be a wonderful gift to share with children. 

About Little Fun Club:

Little Fun Club is a subscription box for children's books. It's ideal for kids ages 0-12. When you sign up, your child will receive a box containing three adventurous books every month. The books are tailored to your child's age, so you can rest assured they will always have quality, age-appropriate reading material. Each book is hand selected for your child, and no two boxes are the same.  

How it Works:

  1. Join Little Fun Club and let them know your child's age so the box can be customized for them. You can include up to three kids per box and they'll customize it accordingly.
  2. Get three adventurous books every month for as little as $25/month.
  3. Grow with Little Fun Club. As your child gets older, the books change accordingly — so you'll always receive age-appropriate books for your kids.
 

Good to Know:

  1. You can add a note to your child's account with reading preferences so the box can be tailored to their interests.
  2. Shipping is FREE on all boxes.
  3. Little Fun Club selects books based on merit. Books go through a rigorous selection process and are read and reviewed by the Little Fun Club team before being considered.
  4. If you receive a book that you already own, just let Little Fun Club know about it. They'll replace the book in the next box! You don't have to return anything.
  5. You can cancel or put your subscription hold at any time.
  6. A Little Fun Club subscription makes a wonderful gift for birthdays, holidays, or just because.
The final product is a box filled with education, fun, and opportunities for positive child development. They make sure each box is just right before it is sent out.  

Prices:

1 month - $29/month 3 months - $27/month 6 months - $25/month   You can see what types of books Little Fun Club offers by visiting their website.

  $50 Cash Giveaway | batchofbooks.com  

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive $50 in PayPal cash Open to US and Canada Ends May 12, 2017 Use the Rafflectoper to enter. Entrants must be 18 or older or have their parent/guardian enter for them. The winner will be chosen randomly. Winner must respond to my email within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. No purchase necessary to enter. This contest is void where prohibited by law.  

Blog Tour Schedule
April 17 - The Mommy Island 
April 18 - Writing My Own Fairy Tale 
April 19 - The Kids Did It 
April 20 - Feed Your Fiction Addiction
April 21 - Book Review Mama 
April 24 - Homebound but Hopeful 
April 25 - Looking Glass Review 
April 26 - Kristi's Book Nook 
April 27 - Natasha Reads Books 
April 28 - Create With Joy 
May 1 - That's What She Read 
May 2 - Tee and Penguin 
May 3 - Bookworm for Kids, This Kid Reviews Books 
May 5 - Word Spelunking 
May 8 - Babies to Bookworms 
May 9 - The Tangled Yarn 
May 10 - Geo Librarian 
May 11 - Savings in Seconds 
May 12 - Kid Lit Reviews