#ColoringAmerica | A Review

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I would like to talk to you today about yet another coloring book (I KNOW, I KNOW…I have an addiction. It won’t be fixed). But this one is pretty cool guys. I received God Bless America: A Patriotic Coloring Book recently, just in time for the 4th of July (WOOHOO!)

Now, when I requested this book for review from blogging for books, I had a few preconceptions to contend with.

#1 – the pictures would be simplistic..

FALSE! There were 9 illustrators given quotes to work with. Some are rendered simplistically, but nicely, while some are so gorgeously sketched for us that I don’t want to color the images. I want to leave the play of black ink on thick white paper all alone and stark with the quote woven throughout the page.

#2 – The quotes would ‘typical’…

FALSE! The quotes in this coloring book are a mixture of well and lesser known pieces from historically important people and documents. Each page has a beautiful illustration (apparently we’re meant to color them, I don’t know if I can!) and on the back of that page the full quote that phrase is pulled from (the song, the stanza, the paragraph) is listed, along with some information about the year, the author, etc. Bible verses are freely used.

#3 – This would be a ‘normal’ coloring book…

FALSE! I was SO wrong! This coloring book includes historical facts and information on the person who said or wrote the words in question, 9 different illustrators and hand letterers, an online quiz about the information in this book, and a SPOTIFY PLAYLIST to listen to in order to create a multi-media experience while coloring.

I am so enthralled with this book. I was looking for a new coloring book to add to my shelf and what I received is a book that I will be proud to use as a teaching tool. A book that contains historical facts, coloring pages, and a musical playlist is something that can be an amazing aid in helping students to remember facts about our nation and its history. These lessons could take many forms, like students creating a short presentation (perhaps multi-media even) around their chosen or assigned quote, writing prompts, and even a small group creating a lesson over the quote.

This book earned a 5 star review from me. If you enjoy coloring and are a patriotic American (Or just enjoy history) I would very much like to recommend this book to you!

Three More Picture Book Reviews

Hello everyone! While I’m busy writing, re-writing, reading, and trying to remember what I was actually SUPPOSED to be doing, I thought I would leave you fabulous people with a few quick reviews.

Most of you know that I have a little girl who is now 3 1/2 years old. She is beginning letter, number, and word recognitions and as a result we’ve managed to visit the library twice in the past week (maybe thrice) as we devoured about 18 children’s books that varied in length and type from picture books about animals to beginning readers on ballet, and even a middle grade super hero girls book!

I did video reviews for several of these, which can be found on my youtube channel (soon). However, I saved a trio of them just for you! So let’s get to the actual books, shall we? Why, yes we shall…

Let’s go from lowest to highest rating (according to the short person in charge):

First, with a rating a 5 stars for pages 1-5 and a rating of 2.5 stars for the rest of the book (we decided on a flat 3 star rating for Goodreads) is Stretch by Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin

 

stretch

This book starts out wonderfully. The dog is stretching in yoga type positions and demonstrating those through the illustrations, allowing children to see those movements and move along with the story. HOWEVER, after the first few pages the movements don’t make much sense anymore and the illustrations don’t give the audience much to go on.

They talk about animals stretching to show their spots…and just shows a leopard sitting there etc. We really love the premise and idea behind this book…but the execution was not nearly as amazing in practice.

Next let’s discuss the middle starred, Cindy Ellen by Susan Lowell and Illustrated by Jane Manning.

Cindy ELlen

This book is awesome. Well written, surprisingly illustrated, and an all round voice of western FUN. However, the short person insists that it is a mere 4 star read BECAUSE it doesn’t have as much ’emotion’ in it (that’s her phrase right there. I’m in way over my head with this one guys!). Apparently the story leading up to the climax isn’t nearly as deep as the real Cinderella. It is still a wonderful read and we highly recommend it.

Finally, coming in with 5 stars for being fun, with a capitol F-U-N, and for being a somewhat differently formatted and completely different type of story, we have Open Very Carefull: A Book With Bite. Written by Nick Bromley and illustrated by Nicola O’Byrne this book starts out with the idea that it wants to tell us the story of The Ugly Duckling, but things quickly change as a crocodile makes his appearance and begins to unceremoniously make his way straight through. This is fun, funny, whimsical, and has a good deal o’ BITE, the perfect combination for giggles with the kid(s).

Thank you for stopping by and checking out these reviews! We went by the library in the middle of writing this post and now have 10 more to check out to see if they’re worth your time 😉

Until next time, please let us know some of your favorite children’s books! We can always add more to the TBR list!!

We had a BOOK SIGNING!

Yesterday (Saturday, June 25, 2016) was AMAZING!

First off, my parents, my 3 yr old, and myself were all up, ready, in the car, and able to pull out of the driveway at 8:30 am straight up…the time we had set to leave! Many of you won’t understand the significance of this; I assure you that it is a huge accomplishment (especially more my daughter and I!).

So, we were all up early on a Saturday, we stopped for donuts, and Dad drove us two hours to a Kansas zoo…but not just ANY zoo, NOPE! We went to Tanganyika Wildlife Park in Goddard Kansas, where mom and I had a book launch/signing for Leonard the Lemur.

Exactly one year to the day after Matt Fouts (the amazing director of the park) gave us his go ahead to include Tanganyika in our children’s picture book, we were there signing copies, scoping out animals, and having an absolutely wonderful time!

Lucas (Media Ma Extraordinaire) hung out during the signing and took pictures, talked, asked questions…basically just made us feel like a part of the Tanganyika family!

So a BIG THANK YOU is in order to Matt, Lucas, Lauren, and all the rest of the staff (and animals) at that amazing place. Below are just a spare few of the pictures I took during this fun day. You can find Leonard the Lemur on Amazon and Createspace (check out amazon.com/author/eliabethtyree for all of my published works).

For MORE on the real life Leonard, his friends, and his home check out the park at twpark.com

Leonard June 25 2016

Leonard the Lemur! (Who just took over his bachelor group. Way to go Leonard, We’re Proud of you!) Taken by Lucas at TWPARK.com

Review | Shylock is My Name

I was supremely disappointed by this book. I couldn’t get into most of the storyline because it was two middle aged Jewish men spouting cranky rhetoric…which I knew would happen to an extent because it is a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. But the way this is written was too much for me and I have DNFed this book after the first 100 pages.

For a full(er) review see:

The Dirty Word Society – Lit Journal Review

I don’t know if you’ve seen any of my videos over on BookTube, but there has been a pretty big trend there lately and that is #HotandSticky Summer Writing Challenge. This writing challenge is being headed up by the insane and amazing guys over at Stripped Cover Lit and is basically a much less crazed version of NaNoWriMo. For each day during the next 4 months (June 1st – October 1st technically) we are to write 488 words…culminating in having over 61,000 words at the end of this deal (I’m managing to stay both ahead and behind all at once). BUT they weren’t content with reading, reviewing, and writing…they weren’t even content with challenging us all to that as well…NO! They have also now started something called The Dirty Word Society (psa – not nearly as fun as you’re thinking right now…).

I’ll link the announcement video here- Dirty Word Society – but BASICALLY they are creating bi-monthly videos that include a call to action and HOPEFULLY have us all participating in the task. This will hopefully have us all changing into better writers, readers, literary people, etc.

So…this first task (as they say in the video) is to read in a literary journal and then review either the entire journal, a piece taken from the journal, etc. So…I’m changing it up a bit, of course, because what fun is there in every single one of us playing by the implied rules??

Most of the people who are participating in this Dirty Word Society Challenge will be doing so with the tried and true, popular, well known, adult literary journals. The ones run and written by ‘grownups’, by people who have already made the decision to write, by adult types…And yes, those are incredibly vital pieces of the world. However, they are not the only ones. So what else is there? I am so glad you asked…because on top of the literary journals you might already know about, like Thorn, Georgia Literary, Southern Review, Tin House, The Atlanta Review, and The New Yorker, there are some amazing and fun literary journals begging for you to pick them up…like The Thorne a literary magazine written, compiled, and published by the junior high students of Hawthorne Scholastic Academy.

Take a moment or two, bask in the amazing idea that 6th, 7th, and 8th graders not only chose to turn in work, but chose to submit to an editor and work together to compile their own literary magazine. I am impressed with their drive. It takes a lot of work and determination to do something like that, especially when you’re still in school and dealing with everything middle schoolers have to handle!

Ok, now that the moment has passed, let’s talk about what they included in this work of literary phenomena. There are poems, short stories, and personal essays from 12-14(ish) year old students that are raw, well written, and creative in ways that I don’t even know if adults can tap in to. While many, including Adrian and Dalton of Stripped Cover Lit, maintain that literary magazines hold the future of literature between their covers, I hadn’t really paid much attention to that belief until now. This collection of words written by students holds the key to the future of literature. I don’t even know them and I’m beyond proud.

I don’t like to pick favorites BUT – there is an essay about determination in learning to ride a bike written by a 6th grader named Atticus that is incredible, a poem by Isabella (another 6th grader) that is amazingly creative and fun, and a poem by Alana, an 8th grader, that uses a poem by Countee Cullen as a starting off point and jumps in full throttle and all three of those made me stop and marvel at the talent of such young authors (though those were by no means the only ones that had me pausing!). Even if you don’t enjoy reading Literary Magazines or Journals, I would definitely suggest looking at this one. I picked up the kindle e-book version for around $3 and it was worth every penny and more.

5 out of 5 dragons go to The Thorne literary magazine and to those who put it together!

Raven Cycle

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There are some stories that you just know are going to irrevocably change you. Stories that you get into and realize, belatedly, that they are unmaking and remaking parts of your sense of self, your reader’s soul, and you will never be the same. I was about 1/3 of the way through listening to The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater when I was blasted with the realization that this was to be one of those books. I thought lightening probably wouldn’t strike twice, or at least not so sharply, and listened to Dream Thieves. Then I thought surely 3 times is too much to ask…Blue Lily, Lily Blue proved that thought a lie. So I bought the entire set. It wasn’t enough to listen to them, I had to have them in physical form on my shelf, within easy reach when I needed them… And Then The Raven King happened.

I don’t have the words or the emotional fortitude left to explain how it all worked on me. I can piece bits together…like the fact that when a certain someone speaks of being fully of the white fuzzy light, I felt it right along with them. When the fear and terrible hope for and because of a best friend lit through them all, I was there. Maggie’s writing drew me, a 31-year-old author and teacher, into the world of magic and high school so completely that I had to wrench myself back into reality with much more effort than it should ever have to take. At page 416, Chapter 65, of The Raven King I had to stop. I literally couldn’t take it anymore (in the best of ways) and HAD to go refill my coffee, take a potty break, check the laundry, and allow myself to sob uncontrollably for exactly 45 seconds. The things that we always knew would happen. That we learned of in the first chapter of the first book before any of us knew the characters that now inhabit our hearts and minds and souls…they hurt more for the fact that we can’t do anything but watch and ache with them. Like being the helpless bystander of a horrendous accident.

This book, this finale to a series much beloved, destroyed me, remade me, and then kicked my ass before telling me it loved me and stroking my hair as a cried and giggled. This devastated me in the best possible of ways. Maggie Stiefvater has said she may revisit this world when she’s lived another 20 or so years…I beg of you Maggie, don’t leave it that long.

Overarching Storyline for the Series – Is one of love, friendship, growth, discovery, and magic…always magic.

We spend 4 books in suspense, waiting to see if the first thing we’re told about two main characters will culminate into a truth that will destroy the lot of us, ripping our hearts out and stomping all over our emotions. We are not disappointed in any way. From the first book we are drawn in to Blue’s psychic family, we feel her frustration and distress at being an ‘amplifier’ with a terrible destiny…if she wants to ever date anyone, that is, and we are bowled over by her extremely intense beliefs. One such strong held belief is that the Raven Boys of Aglionby Academy are the worst sort…which is, of course, why her future revolves around and intertwines with that of 4 such boys. The different personalities, backstories, and paths of each character take the reader on a roller coaster across the The Raven Cycle and it is unlike any other, and well worth with the price of the ride.

I give this series 5 out of 5 dragons, 5 out of 5 stars, and all 4 sections of my heart…one for each of them.