Monday, November 16

Books As Gifts For The Holidays!

Books aren't as fun to open as new video players, iphones, and action figure toys, but don't leave the off the list.  Kids will turn to the book, eventually, maybe months after Christmas.  I have had many pitfalls as a parent, but not the reading list.  A gift card for books is best for kids who read way past their age group, not just past their bedtime, although you run the risk of that card being used for video games and music, instead.  Middle grade readers benefit from both a card to choose their own and a few books that will get read, eventually.  Just my suggestion, as a parent with great readers influencing the kids, but a music and computer/video game preference for the use of the book store's gift card.

December 5th to 9th 

- Don't forget to download the free children's literature ebook - The Faerie Ring Dance, by Kara Skye Smith for kids younger than middle grade or the entire family.  A fun read-aloud book about the magic and merriment inside the faeries' rings.  

Download Here!

Saturday, October 3

House Batty - A Craft To Go With Some Hilarious Books About Vampires, Witches, and Trolls

The craft for this Craft-A-Review is a Building a Bat House, along with me!  I take you along to a Portland city salvage yard to find a drawer and cupboard door then use an old piece of screen and chicken wire.

You can also watch the trailer for all three books in the trilogy - The Vampire DeAngeliuson.  Find out, by the end, just who replaces the ancient vampire in his Underworld Castle haunt!

Friday, October 2

Halloween Season of Witches - The Heretic's Daughter Reviewed With Easy Witch Hat Decoration To Make

This book is not a YA genre but it is about girls who were considered adults in their communities though they were still quite young and how much of an impact these girls had - even across the centuries - as this book is about the witch hunts of Salem, Massachusetts.  Martha Carrier is the main character and this is not an ordinary historical recount of the Salem Witch Trials.  Instead, it is a more personal novel about Martha, her life, her family, and her feelings.  It unfolds itself to become recognizable as a piece of the history we have studied, but it is not until after being drawn into the world of the Carriers and the characters toward the center of the novel that it becomes about Salem witches and their history.

Its a 4 and a half star book, in my opinon, and I also like The Wolves of Andover by this author, Kathleen Kent.

Make a Witch's Hat - Easy and Fun

Thursday, October 1

The Boy In Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

I liked this novel although the subject matter was a deviation from what some people would consider children's book subject matter as it is about The Holocaust, I wound up realizing that many children's books I have read are about the Holocaust or even adult movies seen through the eyes of a child so I considered why many people after reading this book wonder about its inclusion in children's literature.  I decided it is that childish tone of the book that is absolutely adhered to until the very end.  There are no grown-up, quick realizations from an adult perspective for the kids to grasp the horrors - just childlike innocence with which to analyze their circumstances. I think its strict adherence is the difference in the tone - not that it is a book written for children.  All ages is a better classification of this book than children's.  If you read it to your children, be prepared to answer some difficult questions - as they will probably be very open, honest questions which is why they might be difficult to answer, as is with the questioning at the end of the book if this is material for children, particularly because there are no adult viewpoint summations of the horrors, no classifying 'bad' and 'evil'.  The boys in the book go right on assuming that they are in childhood, period.  As children do.

Watch as me and my boys (almost in their pajamas) go to brunch and then make
Story Runes - an easy craft to inspire storytelling and better bedtime stories.

Deciding upon the craft to go along with this book review was mind boggling.  What I did was go to brunch with my children and then, after stumbling into the best neighborhood craft store, I decided to make Story Runes and keep them in a little bag, and hang them from the moon. (A hanger made in the shape of a crescent moon.)  I hope you will enjoy it and even make story runes for you and your children.  What are story runes?  You can make up how to use them, that is part of the fun, or you can adhere to the rule that each person - or the designated story teller of the evening - reaches into the bag and pulls out a rune, stone, charm, or ball which might have a word, picture, letter, or just be a shape and color.  The storyteller then makes up a story depicting some aspect of the rune - for inspiration and added challenge.  Brunch was delicious.  We went to Pine State in Portland, Oregon, and I show you as much of the brunch as I can.  :)  I shot this video myself.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (Young Reader's Choice Award - Intermediate Division)

The boy who isn't in the striped pajamas, in the book, often thinks about eating a sandwich and sharing one with his friend - in the pajamas. I think we've changed sides, and I put all the stories to rune - to rest? - something like that.  If you read the book, leave a comment, tell me what you think.  Is it a children's book to you or is it all ages?

Thursday, September 10

In The Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters

Audiobook read by Angela Goethals.

This book is based in Portland, Oregon - where I am blogging this review - and San Diego, California.  It is based on several historical events and weaves a paranormal romance in as the basis of the plot during the depiction of the events.  Sounds boring - but it definitely isn't boring.  There is quite a bit going on in fact that the paranormal plot nearly takes a backseat to the interesting facts that slowly emerge - as ghosts in their own right - throughout the book.  They lurk in the corners and even take the forefront, and I got the impression that Cat Winters was rather 'haunted' by the information she was depicting as the time period and catalyst to the main characters.

 Free Printable: Raven & SkullFirst, without giving any spoilers, the existence of the blackbirds and the shadows they cast on the main characters' lives is quite creepy - and real.  It was a real part of war on European shores and this does not come out all at once, but unravels like a mystery.  The main character's love is sent off to war and suffers the very real shadow of the blackbirds phenomenon.  Also, the outbreak of influenza and how it was dealt with in the history of the Western U.S. presents an obstacle for the characters, both alive and in their para-normal romantic involvement.  The book's main topic is the photographic 'proof' that charlatans of the day would coax loved ones of the dead to a sort-of seance before taking their photographs.  With the help of double exposures and probably light leaks and blooms, the patrons found their deceased in the photos with them.  The main character of the book's photo is not a fake, however, and the mysteries about the death of the man she was to marry is solved through para-normal photography and activity.

I liked this book.  4-stars from me.  Ghost story, para-normal romance, fiction with historical background information, and a strong, female, main character.

The craft for this review is more like a FREE printable to create your own craft, or draw your own raven, and even a skull, from basic shapes and angles.  Watch the videos, or download Raven & Skull, here!

In the Shadow of Blackbirds

Saturday, August 29

Ghost Girl by Tonya Hurly

MG to YA

Audiobook Read by Parker Posie

This is a review of the book and the audio reading.  The first few pages of this audio book, maybe even the first few chapters, the disaffected - almost apathetic - tone Parker Posie takes while reading makes one wonder if her agent set her up to read a kids book, unannounced.  However, as the story unfolds, and near the book's end, its impossible not to be awed by Parker's genius at conveying the teen sense/attitude/approach as one of the cool kids.  Definitely cool.  There is no way not to be drawn in to caring if she likes your hair, even if you don't like her at all.  You almost wear your high tops, or goth t-shirt the next day for Chapters 10 through 12.  Very silly, very fun, this audio reading with Parker makes the book even more of an experience in Ghost Girl high school, dead girl brilliance.

The book is 5 star YA to MG for plot, characterization, hilarity without even cracking a smile at times, wit and even heart-felt charm.  From the dead?  Charm?  Yes, you begin to care that the obsessed girl gets her kiss from her high-school hottie fascination without even feeling stupid about it.  Dead or not, fashion does matter and possessing another 'out' girl with a closet full of goth - not to mention a great guitar - helps her get to the dance with one good eye on her man.  A great read for any kid who is contemplating their first kiss on up to adult.  And, I recommend the audio book version.

Turn Upside-Down Days Right-Side Up!  

Make these easy, fingerless mitts (wrist warmers), here, along with me!

Other books by Tonya Hurley:

Thursday, August 27

Heap House is Hilarious!

Edward Carey's trilogy which includes the book Heap House is eclectic, peculiar, and very funny.  If you don't like peculiar, you might not laugh, at first, however his odd humor manages wins over as the history of a mansion at the top of the 'heaps' outside of London unfolds.  This time, with a terrible fate for Wateringcan - the pet gull - and some very grim circumstances for our favorite Iremongers.

This book is suitable for all ages so I am including it in my middle grades to ya reviews.  Not sure if there will be a craft, but for people who love oddities, an annual trip to the city dump, or salvage yard scavenging this dystopian is a worthy read.  I gave it 4-1/2 stars.

Heap House: Book One (The Iremonger Trilogy)

It would be fun to make a gull.  Check back in October, we'll make a seagull or a crow.  Crow's like garbage.  Happy reading!

Two other books from the trilogy:  
Foulsham: Book Two (The Iremonger Trilogy)
Lungdon: Book Three (The Iremonger Trilogy)