Where the Windwalk Begins

September 27, 2013 at 3:26 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

windwalk-books-tunisTitle: Where the Windwalk Begins

Poet: Todd Dillard

Illustrator: Paul K. Tunis

Too cute. These poems are ideal for lazy breakfast reading or luncheons on the patio.  We love to read over our meals and kiddo has really enjoyed Where the Windwalk Begins.

I personally loved Airlephant, mostly because I have a ridiculously large soft spot in my soul for all things regarding elephants.  Kiddo’s ears perked up the most, however for Flock of Flying Carpets, which I admit is pretty awesome.  The alliteration of that particular poem fascinates little people, and her eyes lit up with delight at hearing the same sounds over and over again.  We’ve been working on our phonics lately and you could see the recognition of certain letter’s sounds all over her face.

The poems are really fun and the illustrations are equally so.  I was pleased with how well paired the illustrator was to the over all vibe of the book.  Sometimes you can have a great illustrator and a really great storyteller or poet, but they don’t necessarily make the best pairing, but these two seemed pretty in tune to each other.  Spunky and very light heart-ed, moms and dads everywhere should keep this title in their personal library stock.


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Greek Mythology… with children

August 9, 2013 at 9:35 pm (Education, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

(Weekly Low Down on Kids Books)

mythologyUnfortunately this awesome image is not from a book. I think it’s from a video game.

The kiddo and I have been reading Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  Is she a little young to catch everything, of course, she’s not yet three.  Is she following the story? Better than you might imagine.  I highly recommend that parents read kids stories that are far outside the child’s reading level.  By doing this they are exposed to mature language styles sooner, learn new vocabulary words, and in the case of Rick Riordan, appreciate Disney movies like Hercules that much more.

We’re not finished reading Percy Jackson, so this review isn’t about that.  This review is about picture books we’ve been reading during the day in preparation for our before bed time romps with Riordan’s Olympians.

godsTitle: Gods and Goddesses from Greek Myths

Publisher: McGraw Hill Childrens/ Peter Bendrick Books/ Octopus Publishing Group

Retold by: Pat Rosner

Illustrated by:  Olwyn Whelan

ISBN: 1-57768-508-3

Typically I provide links and images to the book, where you can find and purchase it, etc.  But it seems that Gods and Goddesses lives an off the grid book life.  It seems to be extremely difficult to find online and I was in the middle of typing here that I could not find it when I got the idea to check hpbmarketplace.com.  I purchased it from a Half Price Books a few years ago, but sure enough the marketplace wins again!  As you browse through the prices, you’ll see some are quite expensive.  I only paid about $5 for this at the store, I wonder if it is currently out of print.  Mine is in mint condition.

The illustrations are delightful, the retold myths thorough but easy to grasp.  It’s not kiddo’s favorite book, but I can tell it has helped her grasp what is happening in the Percy Jackson books.  Sometimes she just flips through the Greek style pictures while listening to me read Riordan’s work.

If I were in McKinney, TX right now I’d purchase the Fantastic Creatures from Greek Mythology as well, because I like these so much and I think Olwyn Whelan is a genius illustrator.  Everything she touches, I think, would be great homeschooling resources.

Other resources we enjoy:

Myths & Legends

In Search

Black Ships

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Easy Breezy Reads…

May 12, 2013 at 5:05 pm (Education, Events, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

mercy-watsonTitle: Mercy Watson Fights Crime

Author: Kate DiCamillo

I heard a rumor that Kate DiCamillo used to work for Half Price Books. With that being said, and me being an event coordinator for the company, I am bound and determined to get her in my store. So of course, I have to read everything she wrote aloud to my daughter in the interim.

And the kiddo loved Mercy Watson. It’s an easy reader chapter book with lots of pictures, and after sitting through countless Magic Tree House books, her attention span is right on par with these pig stories.

I highly recommend Mercy Watson books for toddlers on up to kiddos who can read this for themselves (8 years?). Mercy is highly entertaining as are her co-stars.

And for the Adults in the room…

Stay posted for future signings.

Stay posted for future signings.

Title: Don’t Die By Your Own Hands

Author: Reeshemah Holmes

I booked nutrition coach Reeshemah Holmes for a book signing at Half Price Books in Humble. The signing was just last night and she was kind enough to give me a copy of her book to read and review.

It truly is a busy person’s guide. It’s just shy of 70 pages and depending on your reading speed could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to conquer. I read it right before heading to bed after coming home from the signing.

It’s a great motivational tool for those who have already selected a diet plan; encouraging them not with a specific diet, but the tools to stick to the diet they’ve chosen as a lifestyle rather than a fad.

Don’t Die By Your Own Hands is definitely worth while for anyone wanting to change their life but uncertain of their power to do so… or someone who is convinced that they can change at any time, but haven’t changed yet.

For homeschooling parents who read my blog, this is also a good book to hand your teens as a lifestyle guide to follow their sports/ P.E. programs and rituals.  There’s a lot of good advice about handling goals, nutrition, and staying healthy mentally in order to stay healthy physically.


Coach Reeshemah Holmes talking with customers at Half Price Books Humble book signing, May 2013.

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Weekly Low Down on Kids Books 8/08/12

August 9, 2012 at 4:09 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , )

Story time at Half Price Books Humble has been quiet, has been loud, has been vacant, has been crowded.  Today, it was just right.  We had 9 children, all bright eyed and ready for me to read to them.

I always find it refreshing to be around other people who read, even if they are little people.  So it was with great joy that I discovered Hooray for You! A Celebration of You-ness with them today.  Marianne Richmond’s picture book is sweet and colorful.  Everyone present seemed to enjoy it quite a bit, even the parents.  It opened up the opportunity to be a little more inter-active than we usually are at story time, talking about each kid’s favorite colors and other things that made them unique.

This one is definitely a must-have, and I look forward to finding more of Richmond’s treasures tucked away on the shelves of Half Price Books.  According to her website, her books are available through Barnes & Noble as well as most other book retailers.

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Weekly Low Down on Kids Books – Easter

April 10, 2012 at 7:10 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

With Easter this past weekend, we spent the week with Betty Bunny.

(Fellow Christians, please don’t harass me about how Easter is not about bunnies, but our Lord Jesus Christ because Easter is actually a celebration of the goddess Oestre and fertility and the spring equinox and all that and we Christians kinda sharked the holiday for our own purposes.  We celebrate Christ’s resurrection separate from Easter in our house.  Pagans and lovers of Mother Earth please don’t harass me about Betty Bunny not having anything to do with celebrating nature, I know, I know.)

Betty Bunny, a character created by Michael Kaplan and illustrated by Stephane Jorisch, is adorable, fun, and an absolute brat.  I have mixed feelings about reading these stories over and over with Ayla.  The same mixed feelings I have about Curious George.  Betty Bunny is an often confused child/bunny who does inappropriate things often in an undisciplined fashion.  Her parents are sweet, and wise and try to show her the right way to handle life’s situations.  The end result always brings on a snicker, because like George the Monkey, she inadvertently does or says something clever, but like George, I never feel like a lesson has truly been learned.  I do recommend that you try them out for yourself, Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake and Betty Bunny Wants Everything were the two we read this week.  We enjoyed both, multiple times, and if I see more titles I’ll definitely check them out at the library.  I don’t believe I would purchase these until Ayla is older and at an age when we can have a proper discussion about Betty Bunny’s actions and what is right and what is wrong.

We also read If Beaver Had a Fever by Helen Kettemen this week.  This was really cute.  My view on this book is majorly biased, since Ayla was super snuggly and curled up in my lap for this one and hugged me the whole time I read it.  We had the windows open, there was a cool breeze blowing into my library and the jasmine out front was blooming and wafting into our nostrils as we read together in the glider.  The whole scenario was perfect and beautiful.  Afterwards she pulled out our Edna St. Vincent Millay collection and had me read a few poems from that, which means she found If Beaver Had a Fever incredibly soothing.  Kettemen’s book is a perfect winding down picture book for an almost 18 month old.

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The Weekly Low Down on Kids Books 1/18/12

January 20, 2012 at 10:31 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Come Back, Cat – Joan L. Nodset and Steven Kellogg

How to love a cat: Hold him gently in your lap.  But don’t panic if he bites – he’s only playing.  Be careful not scare him away.  Listen for his ‘motor.’ He’s telling you he loves you, too.

Nodset writes a simple and easy to understand story of trial and error as a little girl chases the cat she wants to play with and how he react.  She presents a very basic and child-like dilemma: “I like you cat.  Why don’t you come? Don’t you like me?” with answers the child can derive from the next step and the illustrations “Then I’ll come to you, cat.” Throughout the book, you learn to pet softly, don’t squeeze too hard and a number of useful lessons for a soon to be young pet owner.  Ayla loved pointing out where the cat was on the page, and of course, my meow sounds.

The Night Pirates – Peter Harris and Deborah Allwright

I love this one!  And Ayla thought it was pretty great too, which is always a plus.  Reminiscent of Where the Wild Things Are, Tom goes to sleep only to be bombarded by girl pirates and taken away to a treasure island via his floating house.  Its pretty awesome and the illustrations are fun and colorful.

Pooh Loves – Classic Pooh Board Book published by Grosset and Dunlap

Ayla is a sucker for all things Pooh, even though I didn’t really introduce her to him.  She picked out a Winnie the Pooh book on the first shopping trip to a bookstore we had together after she was walking and I allowed her to pick stuff up off the shelf.  She handed it to me and was very excited to get to take it out of the store with her.  Then, this Pooh book she picked out at the library all by herself as well.  There’s something about Pooh, forever and always, and this one is exceptionally sweet.

The Lion and The Mouse– Jerry Pinkney

This is one we’re going to have try another time.  It’s all pictures and no words, but it’s a picture book and not a board book.  Ayla kept demanding that I read to her, but I had to kind of just tell her a story.  The illustrations are based off of Aesop’s Fables and it’s been too long since I’ve read them to recite the tale.  If you pick this up, be familiar with the tale so that you’re prepared to help walk your kid/baby through the book.  Your kid makes you feel like a pretty crappy parent when they open a book and all you can say is “Uhhh, that’s a lion…”

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The Low Down on Kid’s Books

January 9, 2012 at 10:09 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

How do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms – Yolen

This is Ayla’s first dinosaur book and the first thing we’ve read by Jane Yolen. Cute, clever, and rhyming this is great board book for a 14 month old learning to put her toys away before she leaves a room and goes to another. Its quickly becoming an afternoon favorite.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs – Barrett

Ayla and I read this recently for the first time. She seemed to enjoy it when I made the action loud enough, but its definitely going to be more exciting when she’s a little older. All in all, though, it does not live up to its hype.

Punctuation Station – Bryan P. Cleary

Ayla and I love Bryan P. Cleary books and are trying to collect them all. We checked this one out of the library this week, and as usual she found the rhymes exciting, even if she doesn’t quite know what they mean yet!

The Sea of Bath – Bob Logan

Ayla loves this one. She’s really into the illustrations and there’s the perfect amount of story per page, so she is able to sit still for just the right amount of time before she turns the page for you. We checked this copy out of the library, but I think I’ll have to go buy a copy soon.

Where to, Little Wombat – Charles Fuge

Ayla wasn’t sure about sitting through the first page, but by the second she was hooked.  The first time we read this she made me read it three times in a row and carried it around the house for an hour after that.  The illustrations are fun and she loved being introduced to new animals she hadn’t seen before: wombat, emu, and koala. Plus, the story is super cute too.
Shop Kid’s Books

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How Alcott Raises Little Women

December 24, 2011 at 7:35 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

Title: Little Women

Author: Louisa May Alcott

Publisher: Little, Brown

Genre: Young Adult Classics

Length: 502 pages

Buy Now!

I don’t remember learning to read, as I did it from such a young age.  I do, however, remember the first books I fell in love with and the first books I read that were difficult for my limited vocabulary.  Laura Ingalls Wilder I fell in love with first, I read the entire series several times by the end of first grade.  Little Women, however, I fell in love with and learned from in second grade.  Little Women taught me new words and phrases, culture, and how I wanted to live.

Josephine March has been one of my heroes since I was seven and first read about her chopping off all her luxurious hair.  As a young girl, I identified quite well with her “one beauty” (that amazing hair) and tomboyish ways.  I myself, was a ruddy, freckled girl, often found either playing tag football with boys at recess or perched in an oak tree reading a book, hair flowing every which way that my mother did not allow me to cut.  My first significant hair cut, I donated two feet to locks of love, and who else was on my mind? Jo March.

I re-read the book multiple times before I left elementary school, getting more and more out of it each time as my reading skills improved.  And despite cherishing it always, I set the book aside and did not read it again until my twenty-seventh year, this year, to my one year old daughter.

I opened it up a week or so before Christmas, not realizing it would spur a desire to re-read it every Christmas with my kid for the rest of her life if she likes it as much as I do.  It’s such a great Christmas book!  Upon this fresh re-read, I also discovered many other things that my brain had forgotten, but my soul must have internalized.  For instance, the girls are all distraught and Hannah, bless her soul, “came to the rescue armed with a coffee-pot.”

Like every good American, I am wholly addicted to that black magical brew, it’s in our veins and culture, look at how well Starbucks has taken off.  But my family did not keep coffee readily available, my dad won’t touch the stuff and my mom’s mother died of cancer the doctors blamed on her caffeine intake so she never kept it around growing up.  So part of me wonders if Alcott played a role in my introduction to it, as I don’t remember a time when I did not love it.  I remember sneaking cups of it from the employee break room at the bus barn where I waited with my bus driver between routes in elementary school.  In hindsight, I believe it was the reverence that writers hold for it, the way it is talked about in books, that drove me to love it so much, and it very well may have begun with Little Women.

Then, there is Theodore Laurence.  I believe every guy friend’s worth that I ever had my whole life was measured against the character of Laurie.  He is whimsical, gallant, a rascal and a gentleman.  Theodore Laurence is handsome, a friend, and all around a good time.  Every girl needs a Teddy-Dear in her adolescent life and if you can’t get one in the real world, its time for yet another read of Little Women so you can live vicariously through Jo!

Jo March taught me to love, to read, to pursue life with a fiery passion, and how to pick my friends.  It was Jo March that sparked the first desires in me to be a writer.  It was Little Women, and the romance of Jo and the Professor, that set the stage for me to fall in love with the art of Jane Austen and the Brontes.  It was the pen of Louisa May Alcott that taught me how to really enjoy books and the thrilling life they have to offer.

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Exposure is Everything

November 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

My whole life I have been enthralled by the world of books.  As a child, I was an avid reader the school librarian could not keep appeased.  I lived in the worlds of Laura Ingalls, L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott, Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and more.  Although I went to college to study business, as soon as I was out I sought a position in a bookstore; my dream was to run the literature section, and I did.  I worked there for some years, fully stocked up my home collection, became the inventory manager, but then had a baby and so left the company.

We have 17 overflowing bookshelves in our house and books stacked on every available end table in between.  I have been gathering up children’s titles throughout my pregnancy until now for my daughter, preparing for a lust of the written word comparable to mine.

People keep warning me that she may not want to read, she may not like it like I do.  They keep telling me I cannot force my child to enjoy my hobbies.

I am not forcing her.  I am making the written word available.  She sees books everywhere, she sees people enjoying books everywhere.  In addition to our own collection that we read from every day, we visit the public library for group readings and she sees people outside her family unit gathering to enjoy a book.

My daughter is one year old, and already she often chooses Eric Carle over a stuffed animal.  She brings me Rainbow Fish and expects me to read it aloud while she sorts her blocks.  It seems sometimes as though she is not actually listening, just sorting her belongings, until I stop reading and she looks up and points at the book.  My daughter sorts through her picture books and flips through the pages, she even has her own little cushioned rocking chair she climbs into to do it.  She rocks and pretends to read while I lounge and read in our library in our house.

My daughter loves books, and I am both amazed and proud.  I implore the world to make books available to their children from a young age.  Read aloud to them, they cannot help but be interested and thirsty for stories and knowledge.

Get Your Kid Started!

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