Spike and Spanish

June 19, 2015 at 4:22 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

SPIKE front coverTitle: Spike, The Mixed-Up Monster

Author: Susan Hood

Illustrator: Melissa Sweet

Genre: Picture Book

Ay, caramba!, we just read this before bed this evening and we love it! First off, I’m a sucker for an axolotl.  I discovered them about two years ago when an avid reddit surfer sent me some images they had found. Strange but cute creatures are kind of our thing, and an axolotl definitely fits the bill.

I remember thinking there should be a picture book about them.  I love kids picture books featuring the odd ducks of the planet and offer educational value at the end of the story.  I have tons of them lined up in my head that I haven’t written yet.  My favorite thing about Hood’s book is that she incorporates Spanish words through out the story and thesusan-hood-spikepic last few pages include research about the creatures who made an appearance.  There’s so much educational value to this book and I can’t wait to own a copy. (We read from a library book.)

Referred to as a water-monster by the Aztecs, I was introduced to these tiny creatures as Mexican Walking Fish.  Either way, they are super cute, come in all different colors, and if ever there was an animal worthy of a picture book it would be this one.

I absolutely adore Melissa Sweet’s illustrations.  They are bright and spunky and the kiddo was riveted by each and every page.  Sweet captured the essence of the story with care and finesse and I look forward to seeing more of her illustrations on picture books in the future.

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An Eco Never Fails to Resonate

January 9, 2015 at 5:10 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

serendipitiesTitle: Serendipities

Author: Umberto Eco

Eco never fails me.  Except once… I didn’t care for Baudolino. But even after that epic let down, the work stayed with me – if only to prove that even a genius can manage to disappoint from time to time, because reading is a two way street.

The author must deliver, but the reader must be receptive.

Sometimes capturing the magic of that relationship is consistent, sometimes it isn’t…

Nevertheless, Eco never fails to resonate.  I remember his name always.  His words always mean something.  His thoughts and opinions are ones I value and take into great consideration.  He moves me.

He speaks of language and sounds, ideas that arbitrary and ones that are not.  He writes about the things that speak to my soul every time.  Eco and I, though of course he doesn’t know it, have a trust relationship.  I trust him to deliver something that will mean something to me, and I suppose that he trusts that what he has to say needs to be said – what he writes is meant to be written.

Authors and books have a way of being there when you need them most.  That comfort stays with me always.

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The Mother of all Bryson Books

October 19, 2014 at 4:12 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , )

P1000485Title: The Mother Tongue

Author: Bill Bryson

Genre: Linguistics

Length: 245 pages

How many times am I going to spend entire reviews singing the praises of Bill Bryson, bowing down to his mage-like powers as a wordsmith?  Not often enough.

The Half Price Books Humble Book Club read Simon Winchester’s The Professor and the Madman for our September discussion.  GREAT book, but I had already read it.  That being the case, I plucked another linguistics title by an author I adore: Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue.

As with any typical Bryson piece, the book was well researched, enjoyable to read, and all the information was cleverly shared.  Bryson is witty, almost snarky even – but far less snarky in this book than, let’s say, A Walk in the Woods. I take great delight in clever snark.  And yes, I just chose to use snarky as a noun…

Although by describing Bryson’s work as snarky makes him sound much more irritable than he truly is.  On the contrary, Bryson always seems a bit jovial to me.  Sarcastic wit written with a broad smile, and possibly rosy cheeks.

If you love languages, English, history, factoids, dictionaries, evolution of words, or all of the above – The Mother Tongue will keep you fascinated.  If you enjoy witticisms, sarcastic commentary, clever jokes, good conversations, intelligent thought, and possibly your college English professor – Bill Bryson is the guy you want telling you all there is to know about “English and How It Got That Way.”

He’ll talk about Latin and Gaelic, the French and German.  He will discuss Shakespeare, Chaucer, and the Oxford English Dictionary.  There’s a whole chapter dedicated to swearing and the origins of some of our favorite – and not so favorite – expletives.  He’ll recite palindromes and tell you all about London Times Crossword Puzzles (which I desperately would like to get my hands on)… Also, if you ever felt bad about your spelling, this book will give you a full history on how it’s not you, it’s English.

I turned the last page and as it always is on the last page of a Bryson book, I’m already scouring the shelves for another Bryson title.  Can the others live up to the awesomeness I just read? I’m not so sure.

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