Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas | Book Review

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas

Written By: Lynne Cox

Illustrated By: Brian Floca

Published 2014 by Schwartz & Wade

Children’s Picture Book

Based on a True Story

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Author and swimmer Lynne Cox was on a trip to Christchurch, New Zealand gazing down at the waters of the Avon river when a boy asked if she was looking for Elizabeth, their elephant seal. Once she heard the story, Lynne knew she had to share this with the world! After some research and seeking permission from the town of Christchurch, Lynne brought us this beautiful book.

Brian Floca, a Caldecott award winning illustrator, created a beautiful look of pencil and watercolor looking images that marry the story and illustrations wonderfully.

This book follows the true story of Elizabeth, the elephant seal. Normally, elephant seals live in the cold waters of the ocean and no one is quite certain how or why Elizabeth wound up in the Avon river, but wind up there she did! A beloved member of the community, Elizabeth was quite happy to sun herself in Christchurch until the day she discovered her new favorite spot, across a busy road. The people of her town were afraid for her life and had her towed out to sea…three times. Elizabeth continued to find her way home.

The end of the book has some information on elephant seals that is very interesting and a great addition. I always love when authors include facts in the back of their books because it can lead to some amazing conversations with your child or students.  If you are a teacher working with students on either book reviews or science presentations dealing with animals this book could be something wonderful to help them along. I highly recommend this book for all ages!

 

Cover/illustrations – 4.5/5

Story/Writing Style – 4.5/5

Relatability – 5

Characters – 5

Things to learn – 5

Star Rating – 4.8

 

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#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!!

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:

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.

Picture Book Reviews

Hello everyone! I thought that I would do a quick post today and give you some short reviews on Picture Books that we’ve been reading lately. I hope you enjoy them!

 

 moonflute One of the first things we noticed was that there are no illustrations on the end pages (my daughter is keen on them!) However, the book was beautiful enough that she now forgives them. Though this book is an older picture book, both in publication date (1980) and intended audience (probably k-2) we had a lot of fun looking at the illustrations and reading the story together. The story line is a bit of nonsense, but very well written and beautifully dreamlike. I definitely suggest this to anyone Moonflute

Written by Audrey Wood and Illustrates by Don Wood

 

One of the first things we noticed was that there are no illustrations on the end pages (my daughter is keen on them!) However, the book was beautiful enough that she now forgives them. Though this book is an older picture book, both in publication date (1980) and intended audience (probably k-2) we had a lot of fun looking at the illustrations and reading the story together. The story line is a bit of nonsense, but very well written and beautifully dreamlike. I definitely suggest this to anyone with children that are old enough to appreciate and enjoy a good story and good illustrations, and to kids who are musical or don’t sleep easily.

 

I Wish I Had…

Written by Giovanna Zoboli and Illustrated by Simona Mulazzani

Very cute picture book. The Illustrations are adorable and each page highlights one animal and one of the highlighted animal’s special skills. While this isn’t a fact filled non-fiction to get kids really understanding different animals, it is great to show diversity and interesting factoids to younger children. My animal adoring 3 yr old loved it.

i wish i had

Night Animals

Written and Illustrated by Gianna Marino

night animals This is a very cute little book with amazing art work and an adorable little story. Though the story is told more through observation than through words, the images and speech bubbles work together quite well. The one problem we had with this book, though, is that there is not a story other than the speech bubbles. My daughter likes short blocks of text and wasn’t too sure about this format! However, it was an adorable book and I really liked that it showed us a possum instead of a raccoon to be This is a very cute little book with amazing art work and an adorable little story. Though the story is told more through observation than through words, the images and speech bubbles work together quite well. The one problem we had with this book, though, is that there is not a story other than the speech bubbles. My daughter likes short blocks of text and wasn’t too sure about this format! However, it was an adorable book and I really liked that it showed us a possum instead of a raccoon to begin with (no raccoon ever showed up actually) because my daughter knows about many night animals but the possum was new to her, which worked itself into a great conversation

 

Mr. Ferris and His Wheel

Written by Kathryn Gibbs Davis and Illustrated by Gilbert Ford

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This is a picture book meant more for older children (Elementary aged, 2nd and 3rd grade most likely). The information within is a great mixture of facts and narrative combining with gorgeous artwork to provide the story of George Ferris and his State Fair attraction…The Monster Wheel! The book, and it’s amazingly gorgeous illustrations, begins with the Eiffel Tower from the World’s Fair in 1889.the main attraction of engineering’s accomplishments…and goes through the contest and building of the 1893 World Fair’s main attraction. We very much enjoyed this and my 3-year-old now knows the name of the man responsible for the big wheelie thing Mommy won’t ride. We not only recommend this to children, but to adults as well. In fact, we took it to show some teachers…who are adding it to their lesson plans for next year’s 3rd graders. Presentations will be made because this book provides a FUN learning experience.

Lulu and the Brontosaurus

Written by Judith Viorst and Illustrated by Lane Smith

 519uYsKgzCL._AC_US240_QL65_ This is an absolutely adorable little story! My 3 year old and I love to read children’s chapter books together and this one held her attention all the way through. She asked for repeats, pointed out pieces of the illustrations to me, and discussed proper manners etc with me as we progressed through this book with Lulu, a little girl who has no use for manners to begin with. This is a solid children’s read and I recommend it to ages 1-adult and back again.

 

Artsy Animals

Do you like random facts? Do you enjoy animal artwork? Do you love tiny little books that can conveniently be carried with you virtually anywhere???

THEN I HAVE JUST THE BOOK FOR YOU!!

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*Slightly smaller than actual size*

Maja Safstrom is an architect and illustrator from Stockholm who has worked with Ten Speed Press to bring us a small book with a big impact. Coming at a mere 6.3×0.7×7.8 inches in dimension, The illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts combines pen and ink/black and white drawings with facts about several different animals, all seemingly hand lettered. This book gives us not only  peek aat nature, but  look at the author’s nature journal (of sorts).

The book is very well made, the cover binding feels nice and fits very well into a hand, the interior pages have the look and feel of thicker art paper, and the entire piece feels like a work of art lovingly created for the audience.

If you enjoy Maja’s style of artwork, as I do, I highly suggest also following her on Instagram!

I’ll leave you with a  fact to ponder while you’re waiting on that page to load.

“Penguins laugh when they are tickled.”

You’re welcome and have a marvelous day!

Coloring with Wonder

I love to color. There is something creative and almost freeing in the act of choosing colors and finishing pages. I find so much inspiration in coloring, in fact, that I often incorporate it into my own writing process. So is it any wonder that I jumped at the chance to review another coloring book? Not really. Especially not since this particular coloring book is an imagining of Lewis Carroll’s world of Alice in Wonderland.

While I was expecting a fun and whimsical coloring book, the reality was so much more. Artist/Author Amily Shen not only created a gorgeous new reimagining for us to color, she included us in the story. Separated into 9 chapters, each section begins with a title pulled from Carroll’s Alice, followed by a few paragraphs that read as though you are, in fact, the one that followed the rabbit down into Wonderland.

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I love the artwork in this book. The style is distinctly whimsical and fun, showcasing wonderful imagination and inspiration from the artist  and for the color-er. Not to mention the fact that it came with a dust jacket that, when removed, revealed a cover ready to be colored on AND the inside of the dust jacket as a long poster waiting to be colored. SURPRISE!

Some of the pages are almost a little disturbing in their difference from my own imaginings or memories of the illustrations and movies. But my biggest complaint is that this doesn’t have more pages. I vote for a full Alice novel with coloring borders and illustrations.

**I received this book in exchange for an honest review**