The Snow Queen – Cloth Bound and Beautiful

This cloth bound, silver foiled, illustrated edition of Hans Christian Anderson’s timeless tale is even more beautiful than I expected it to be. The tall, skinny hardback feels gorgeous in your hand and the illustrations by Finnish illustrator Sanna Annukka create an atmosphere that combines with the beloved words into something that will stick with you. 41zbzfrlyul-_sx282_bo1204203200_

Published by Ten Speed Press, translated by Odense City Museums, this book brings to life the classic story of The Snow Queen with imagery that makes me feel a part of the story, and reminds me of the ancient picture book edition my mother no longer allows me to play with. Five out of five Dragons to this gorgeous book.

*I received the book in exchange for an honest review from blogging for books*

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

 

Saturday Stories 7/9/16

This past week was a doozy in the world of words I like to surround myself with and snuggle down in to.

First of all, I joined a Buddy Read/Group Read of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern which began for most of us on Monday, June 27th and is continuing on as people read and discuss at their own rates (One of the readers set up a thread on an existing Goodreads group) and so we are all still delving into the book even if we’ve finished as more of our compatriots comment on the different sections. I, myself, completed this book around Wednesday and absolutely adored it (rating around 4.5 stars, but I bumped it up to a full 5 or Goodreads). I own the beautiful floppy paperback version and also borrowed the audio book from Overdrive. It was fabulous, though the physical copy makes it a bit easier to follow the fluid and jumping time frames.

In the middle of reading The Night Circus, a read-a-thon started up…one that I have been anticipating and refining my TBR list for over the past 2 months. The #SmoresandMayhem Middle Grade Read-a-thon ran from July 1st – July 8th and had only one ‘rule’: each book must focus on a story that takes place during/in/around summertime.

For #SmoresandMayhem I managed to read 5 1/2 books (and DNF 1 more).

I re-read The Babysitter’s Club Super Special 1: Babysitters on Board (By Ann M. Martin) and High Wizardry (By Diane Duane). I haven’t read either of these books in so long that it was almost as though I read them for the first time. I remember loving the BSC book and feeling a bit MEH about the wizarding book and..my feelings haven’t really changed, except that I’m more outspoken about them now.

Along with those two I also completed Deep and Dark and Dangerous (By Mary Downing Hahn), The Wish in the Bottle (By Morna McLeod), and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library (By Chris Grabenstein) (this was read on audio book and it was AMAZING. Listen to it!). I quit on The Girl who Circumnavigate Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (By Catherynne M. Valente) within the first two chapters. I have handed it over to my mother in order to determine if this is a book that I really do need to try to read again later, when I’m not still on a high from reading a couple of 5 star books prior to picking it up. I’m having the same issue with my 1/2 read book, The Westing Game (By Ellen Raskin)

The cool thing though, is that all the only physical library book I checked out for all of this was High Wizardry…meaning that I knocked out 6 books from my little TBR bookshelves. I’m down to about 45 now!

With all of that reading going on, I did kind of neglect my #HotandSticky Summer Writing Challenge work. I’m still a bit ahead of the game, but not by much with three days of 0 word count so far this month. Today’s (Friday, July 8th) ending target total word count 19,032 and my total current word count is 22,169. I definitely need to get my booty in gear again!

Unfortunately, I’ve lost over half of the original Sylvester outlines and have changed the story so much I’m now stalled in it trying to remember what I wanted so I know what to change (I hate it when I get all switch happy and forget what happens!). So I switched to writing the new children’s chapter book, a sequel to the recently finished Paulonious Punk (which hasn’t even been properly edited yet!) but the past couple of days has just felt like trying to pull cold taffy so all the myriad of picture book ideas, the children’s book, the 5th in the dragon series, the 2 NA/A fantasy stories, and the 2 rewrites are all just being left to their own devices. Normally one will speak to me and the rest get put aside for a bit but right now, right now I’m woefully falling behind. I better get over this soon, though, because I get CRANKY when I don’t write. It’s worse than PMS…it’s SWS (stalled writing syndrome)..and Midol does NOT help! (Coffee, Coke, Dark Chocolate, Chips and Salsa, 90s alternative music, and Netflix binges…these help. Please send some and save my poor family).

All that being said, here is a clip from the children’s chapter book. I’ve only just begun but I really enjoyed this scene, I hope you do too!

That afternoon Pauly called an emergency meeting of the adventuring club. With Fredrick and Mark Finkle still out of town at their lake house for the summer, Pauly, John, and Grandpa were the only official members available, but a quick vote allowed Sarah to tag to along too. If she got too annoying they could stick Grandma with her and ask them to bake cookies or something.

“This is gonna be SO GREAT,” Pauly exclaimed before remembering his role and sheepishly banging his small gavel on the president’s podium (a miniature dinosaur with flat top hair do and a mouth that would open and burp bubbles when you tickled its left ear). “I officially call this meeting to order! Is there any new business to attend to?”

“Yes,” Grandpa Punk solemnly raised his hand and waited to be called on. “Thank you, President Pauly,” he cleared his throat. “THIS IS GOING TO BE SO AWESOME!!!!!!!”

This caused the entire group to dissolve into a laughing it that was so loud and long it disturbed Grandmother Punk, who was in the process of baking and became afraid that her desserts would fall apart if the laughter continued.

When they had sobered up and managed to settle down a little, Pauly posed a serious question.

Fetching the club’s brand new “adventure notebook” (a pleather bound journal with the picture of a mountain on the cover) from its place of honor on top of the cluttered old desk in the corner, he began, “I think that we should each write down what’s going on and our thoughts and stuff about it from now until the end of the trip. That way we have a…a….a.”

“A reckoning of events for posterity,” Grandpa suggested with a smile.

“Exactly, a whatever it is that Granpa just said,” Pauly straightened his spine and schooled his facial expression into one of solemn thoughtfulness, “All in favor?”

Two ‘ayes’ and a ‘yupyup’ rang out among the many inventions and tools of the fort/shop.

“It has been decided,” Pauly intoned seriously, “So it shall be done.“   He passed the notebook and feathered pen to his second in command. “Johnny, will you start us out please?”

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!!

Adult Children’s Books?

Do you like to read children’s books? What a silly question! Most people I know enjoy a good children’s book every now and again…whether that be a ‘classic’ such as Winnie the Pooh or Dr. Seuss, a new picture book about animals, or something completely different, children’s books often hold a piece of our childhoods. When we read these books, even ones we’ve never before read, it unlocks a bit of our inner child and we find pieces of what we didn’t ever know was missing.

You know what I’ve noticed about children’s books lately? They don’t contain as many references aimed at ‘adults’ as their corresponding movies do. Movies aimed at the 0-10 year old market often include soundtracks, artwork hanging on the walls, and little sarcastic jokes that are meant for the parents and older siblings being forced to watch these things. The books though, they don’t seem to have that same balance in them.

So here’s an idea…let’s tweak it a little! I’m not saying we should go as far as the movies go (some of them are to the point where I don’t let my toddler watch again!) but a little addition here and there would give the parents something while keeping the book clean. And yes, I do realize that there are a lot of books with adults who reference different eras…they also usually get made fun of by the kids.

I’m looking for honest to goodness exchange of ideas and great inter-generational moments for both my characters, and the people reading the story. Hopefully, my 9 year old adventure seeker’s story will be read out loud and the parents will get a little kick out of a line here or there. Take a look at a few lines I’ve written (below) and see what you think…and PLEASE let me know of any other children’s books that fit the bill! My daughter only has a hundred or so books, we definitely need more 😉

Here is a segment from my current WIP –

Grandpa Punk has been teaching Paulonious Punk (grandson) to ride a unicycle while Paulonious’s best friend, John, gets used to riding an antique two wheeled bicycle…both with large wheels and ‘ape hanger’ handles. 

“Put your helmets on boys,” he plopped his fedora shaped helmet on with a flourish and a grin, “It’s time to ride!” 

So they pedaled their way out of the fort and down the street, following Grandpa as he hummed some old song by Foghat (what a weird name!) and Grandma yelled after them to remember supper in an hour!