Wednesday, July 19, 2017
I have always loved learning phrases and words in many different languages. I'm fluent in English alone, but I would love to be fluent in multiple languages. Before I read this book I knew at least one word in 11 different languages. I thought that was a decent number, until I read Hello World and learned there are 100 languages in just Europe. My 11 seems minuscule after seeing the vast number of languages around the world.
Hello World: A Celebration of Language and Curiosities by Jonathan Litton is a fascinating and fun read for young kids and adult world wannabe travelers like myself. I absolutely adored this book and found it to be a super fun and quick read.
Hello World gets 4.5 out of 5 stars in my book review. I love the concept of the book. I love that the languages are written but also wrote phonetically. I love the tabs/flaps b/c it makes the book more interactive and a fun way to learn the information. Though, the tabs are sometimes a bit cumbersome and difficult to work with.
I love the fun facts found through-out the book. I love that there were hieroglyphics as well as sign-language; as far as I know every language was equally and well represented. I love that I learned so many things, such as in Vatican City they speak Latin. I love the pictures and the maps throughout. I love that the pages are a bit sturdier. I love many things about this book, and that is the reason why Hello World scored high. It's a great book and a fun read.
The tabs are a little difficult to work with. At first it is difficult to get the tabs up, and then the tabs don't easily lie flat when trying to turn the page. I like to think the more use the book gets the easier it will be to turn pages and work the tabs, but as of now it's a tad annoying. Besides the tabs, I did find a few of the extra facts written throughout the book to be worded a little difficult/awkward.
However, these not so fun aspects of the book are minor in compared to the many things I love about the book. Hello World is a fun read, and it would make a great purchase for any elementary school library, and the shelves of a language, travel, maps loving kid.
Happy Fun Nonfiction World Languages Reading!
Hello World: A Celebration of Languages and Curiosities by Jonathan Litton
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Best For: 8 - 12 year olds, 3rd though 6th grade
Worth a Check Out: Yes!
Buy It or Not: If you have a kid who loves languages around the world then yes.
Read Aloud: Not a book to read aloud, but fun to practice some of the different ways to say hello in languages around the world.
Lesson Ideas: World languages, Non-fiction
I received this book from Myrick Marketing in exchange for my review and honest opinion. All of my thoughts, opinions, and words are my own.
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Do you have a girl that is in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, or 7th grade? If the answer is yes, then you need to have your child read Real Friends by Shannon Hale.
This graphic novel memoir is a quick read, full of pictures, and easy to relate to. Whether you are a child in the midst of friendship dilemmas, dealing with bullies, doubting yourself, struggling with anxiety, frustrated with siblings, and pretty much experiencing the ups and downs of life when you are a kid.
As adults we often think being a kid is easy. Sure, kids don't have to pay bills, go to work, and deal with aging bodies. However, after reading this book I was reminded that being a kid isn't always easy.
This may be my absolute favorite dedication page. I don't think there's a kid, or adult that looks back at their childhood, that can't relate. It's a beautiful dedication and a wonderful reminder to all readers.
In regards to wonderful things about this book, I do love the illustrations by LeUyen Pham. Pham did a fantastic job with Real Friends; the colorful illustrations fit the feel of the book. Pham also illustrated the Princess in Black series which is a wonderful Early Reader series (aka 1st and 2nd graders).
Overall, I loved the messages this book was full of. I loved how quick of a read this book is which makes it perfect for readers and reluctant readers alike. I love that I can think of more than 10 girls that would greatly benefit with reading this book, and I plan on purchasing this book (sorry husband, I still have a book buying problem) for my girls to read when they get older. Actually, we'll probably read it together first.
Real Friends gets 4.5 out of 5 stars in my book review. This book is very much a memoir about Shannon Hale's childhood. It quickly goes through the elementary school years of her life. I love that she went through those years quickly. The one thing I feel could've been done better was the storyline. I realize this is a memoir, but a well done memoir still has a great storyline.
The lack of storyline is my main issue with Real Friends. Though, the messages this book teaches in a quick graphic novel format still makes a great addition to any elementary school library, middle school collection, and many home libraries.
I'm a big fan of Shannon Hale. I've read all of her books, and have enjoyed most of them. Though, this book is my favorite for reluctant readers aka kids that don't like to read. Definitely go check Real Friends out.
Have you read any Shannon Hale books? Any favorites?
Happy Middle Grade Graphic Novel Memoir Reading!
Real Friends by Shannon Hale
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Best For: 8 to 13 years old, 3rd to 7th grade
Worth a Check Out: Yes.
Buy It or Not: If you have a girl, definitely Yes.
Read Aloud: Graphic Novels aren't the best for read alouds, but you could read it along side your daughter as a nightly read aloud.
Lesson Ideas: Friendship, Bullying, Sibling Relationships, Anxiety
Thursday, June 29, 2017
I strive to always be honest with y'all. I always tell you the good and bad of books. To be honest, I have never been a huge James Patterson fan. I felt he sold out to the publishing world and only wanted to publish as many books as he could as quickly as he could. He wrote in so many genres and age/reading levels (kids, young adults, adult) that I knew he was just sticking his name on a book so it would sell but others were more than likely writing the story.
My opinion may completely be false, but that is what I thought. However, if a student loved his Maximum Ride series I wasn't going to not have it in my library. I just had my personal tastes of Patterson, but there is always value if someone wants to read it.
However, a couple weeks ago a co-worker recently finished The Black Book by James Patterson and David Ellis. She was a big fan of the book and said it's the best book of Patterson's that she's ever read. Being a reader that just likes to find a great book, I disregarded my own opinions, checked The Black Book out, and flew through it. This book is a page turner.
The Black Book earns 5 out of 5 Stars from me. It's a fast read with many twists and turns that will keep you guessing to the end. I found myself changing my prediction of "who did it" more times than I could count, and yet I was still surprised at the end.
Overall, if you love mysteries check this book out. If you are looking for a page turner, check this book out. If you are looking for a great story, then check this book out. As fair warning though, murder and prostitution is involved, sex is talked about, violence, and there is language throughout. I personally wasn't offended by the book's contents b/c the language and subjects were part of the story, but I want to always give you fair warning of a books content.
Question: Are you a Patterson fan?
Just so you have an idea of the story line, the following is the book description from Goodreads:
"Being a cop runs in Billy Harney's family. The son of Chicago's Chief of Detectives whose twin sister, Patty, also followed in their father's footsteps, there's nothing Billy won't give up for the job, including his life.
Left for dead alongside his tempestuous former partner and a hard-charging assistant district attorney out for blood, Billy miraculously survives. But he remembers nothing about the events leading up to the shootout.
Charged with double murder and desperate to clear his name, Billy retraces his steps to get to the bottom of what happened. When he discovers the existence of a little black book that everyone who's anyone in Chicago will stop at nothing to get their hands on, Billy suspects it contains the truth that will either set him free... or confirm his worst fears. "
Happy Twist and Turn Mystery Reading!
The Black Book by James Patterson and David Ellis
Rating: 5/5 stars
Best For: 18 yrs and up, Adult lit
Worth a Check Out: Yes.
Buy It or Not: If you love mysteries and/or Patterson
Read Aloud: Such a fast read with a story that keeps you guessing until the very end.
Lesson Ideas: Family, Ethics
Monday, June 26, 2017
*** Trigger Warning: Abuse/Rape ***
I have read and reviewed more than a few books on rape. I didn't have the thought to include that above warning until I saw someone on Goodreads do that. Personally knowing more than a few people who have been raped I understand they can have triggers. I just wanted to be sure my book review doesn't make things more difficult for them, but helps them.
Asking For It by Louise O'Neill is about rape, sex, rape culture, slut-shaming, and bullying. This book has sex, drugs, underage drinking, and language; it is definitely not a clean book. The subject most definitely is tough, but there is value in it b/c it is so realistic. I hope by the realism this book portrays that others can learn from this book.
However, I only gave this Printz Honor Book, Asking for It, 3 out of 5 stars. I feel this award winning book is good for the tough subject and something that is very real. I would dare say that the majority of society knows someone that was raped. What happened to Emma happens too much; once is too much. Though, if we all see this tough subject in our lives, then the real value of this book is if there's something more. I felt this book missed out on really teaching and inspiring.
I did not like Emma, buy I did feel bad for her. Though, to be honest I didn't like any characters. There really wasn't one likable character. Though, I felt like that with Luckiest Girl Alive. After reading this book I had the thought that Emma is going to turn into Ani from that book.
The slut-shaming and bullying that went on, especially over social media reminded me of 13 Reasons Why. The rape and how it changed Emma to be withdrawn and pull back from everyone reminded me a lot of Speak.
The entire time reading this book, in one setting, I was in pain for the choices Emma made, the horrible things that were done to her, her pulling out of pressing charges, and her family not supporting her. It was a tough read b/c I felt it could've helped more than just causing people to talk such taboo subjects like rape, consent, bullying, slut-shaming, and more. The one benefit is that this story is fictional; I only hope that boys and girls alike read this and decide to learn from all of the character's choices and make their life better
Overall, this is a tough, and not clean, young adult/teen/high school read. This book would be valuable to discuss bullying, slut-shaming, self-esteem, underage drinking, drug use, and more not so pleasant subjects, but one that need to discussed in homes or classrooms.
Happy Teen Printz Honor Book Reading!
Asking for It by Louise O'Neill
Rating: 3/5 stars
Best For: 14 yrs and up, 9th grade and up
Worth a Check Out: Yes.
Buy It or Not: Not.
Read Aloud: It's real and intense dealing with rape, but I think Speak may be better suited for emphasizing the growth.
Lesson Ideas: Rape, Consent, Bullying, Slut-Shaming
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan won a Newbery Honor this year for this poetic historical picture book.
This book is about 11 slaves, their lives, their past, their dreams, and how much they cost. The author, Bryan, came across a document of the Fairchilds Appraisement of the Estate document. The document is shown above. This document is what inspired Bryan to research, studied, and wrote what inspired her in free verse poetry.
Bryan also painted all of the illustrations, including the one shown above and below. The first page of poetry tells the life as a slave with the Fairchilds and their wishes for freedom. The second page on each slave is a poem about their past.
Freedom Over Me gets 4 out of 5 stars in my book review. I think the story concept is fabulous. I love the idea of life of slaves on an estate. I love the idea of a book teachers can use in multiple sittings; I love that a teacher could teach at the same time language arts as well as social studies. I love that the information is written poetically; free verse is usually really great for a read aloud and reluctant readers.
However, there were a few things I would've liked to see differently. The text is a little bland; the poems didn't grab or entice me to keep reading. I also didn't like that the appraisal document that Bryan included and was inspired by only has 10 slaves on the list. John never appears on the appraisal, but Bryan included him. This little fact is bothersome. Why add a slave that wasn't on the document, or why not add the slave to the document if you liked the sound of eleven slaves for a book? This little detail is of course going to be noticed, so I feel Bryan should have at least included the reason for her action in the author's note.
Overall, this is a beautiful picture book. I feel it could've been better, but it is definitely a great purchase for a school or public library collection. If you love American History or teach 5th grade or Social Studies this book would be a good purchase as well.
Happy American History Picture Book Reading!
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams by Ashley Bryan
Rating: 4/5 stars
Best For: 10-14 yrs old, 4th through 8th grade
Worth a Check Out: Yes.
Buy It or Not: Not.
Read Aloud: It's a big long for a one sitting read aloud, but you could read it in small group settings over a couple different sittings.
Lesson Ideas: American History and poetry.
Any other ideas on how you would use this book in the classroom?
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Two women, living 100 years apart, grieving a loss of a loved one with a connection to the same scarf. It's a beautiful and unique story line for this adult historical fiction book.
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner is a fabulous book, and it'd make a great book club choice. My book club actually read it, months ago, but I was awesome enough to have just recently finished the book. Though to my credit, my book club picked 2 books that month. So, I'm only a half-way book club slacker.
Now that I have read this book, I will say it is a great story. I loved learning about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911 and about the hospitals on Ellis Island for the immigrants. I also loved this 9/11 story. I loved the connection of the scarf. I loved how both women were grieving. I loved how both women had to be pushed to heal b/c they both felt a sense of responsibility.
Clara was a nurse on Ellis Island in 1911. Before going to the island she was a nurse at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory when a fire destroyed the building and killed many including a young man Clara cared for. I like Clara, but I did get a little annoyed with her b/c her character developed incredibly slow. I felt Clara's deep attachment for someone she barely knew and then not able to get over him dragged on far too long. I understand her feeling guilty for his death, but she didn't try to overcome. In my opinion, Clara's grief didn't seem to be equivalent to Taryn's grief.
Taryn's story takes place in 2011, but her tragic story really brought the emotions out in me. I cried while reading Taryn's story. I think the reason for Taryn's story being more powerful was b/c Taryn was married and had not just met her love like Clara. Being married is different in my eyes. Taryn's story was also more powerful b/c I personally remember the historical tragedy, 9/11, that Taryn grieves from. Taryn's story, and the texts and phone messages she received had me in absolute tears. I love when I cry yet cheer for the characters; you know it's a good book when that happens.
Taryn's story was overall stronger, but Clara's scarf connection was more powerful. Both stories were needed. I do feel that love, healing, and God's hand in our lives is a beautiful theme. I also feel there are some fantastic deep and impactful messages found throughout this book. For example, I do agree with the message that people who experience tough things can stay in an in between place unless they try to heal and make the choice to "be happy."
Overall, A Fall of Marigolds is great and earned 4.5 out of 5 stars in my book review. I loved how the two women's stories were woven together with a scarf but also with their grief and their agony from witnessing the tragedies. I loved how both women had to get closure from their loves before they could move on and be happy. I love how both stories were unique and set during great historical times, but that they were still tied together. I loved the ending and thought it was truly beautiful.
I did think the character development of Clara could've been written better aka made more realistic and less annoying. There seemed to be too much time spent and pages written with Clara's story of her inability to try and overcome. I felt Clara's grief was less powerful, and that time should've been spent on Taryn's story.
However, I still thoroughly enjoyed A Fall of Marigolds completely, and felt the story has some power to help other's heal and move past their "in between place."
Happy Beautiful Historical Fiction Reading!
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Best For: Adults, especially a book club read.
Worth a Check Out: Yes. The audiobook is a great check-out as well.
Buy It or Not: Buy, especially if you love historical fictions or reading it for book club
Read Aloud: The audiobook is great, I am sure it could make a great read aloud with the right class.
Lesson Ideas: symbolism of scarf; healing; grieving; New York City tragedies
Did you read A Fall of Marigolds? What did you think?
Friday, June 9, 2017
Meatloaf is such a great dinner choice. You get a great amount of protein, and it is comfort food at its best. However, most meatloaf recipes take an hour or so to bake. Who has that much time during a busy weeknight?
Right now we have swim lessons every evening, and every evening quick filling meals are absolutely necessary. Cupcake Meatloaf aka Single Serving Meatloaf is quick, filling, and so very delicious.
I love the speed I can make it in and how simple it is to make it gluten free. My kids love the small serving that is just their size. My husband can't get enough of this meatloaf. It's delicious, and if you are cute fun mom, unlike me, you could place a dollop, or pipe, mashed potatoes on top to complete the "cupcake" look.
Recipe: Alohamora Open a Book
Active Time: 20 minutes
Inactive Time: 30-40 minutes
Servings: About 6-8, or 12 cupcake meatloaves
1 lb ground beef or ground bison
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 c. onion, diced
2 slices bread with crust, torn into small pieces (gluten free bread works great)
1/4 c. milk
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1/8 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp BBQ sauce
- Heat oven to 325 degrees and use 12 aluminum or parchment paper cupcake liners in a cupcake pan.
- In a large bowl using a fork break up the beef or bison into small pieces. Ground turkey works as well.
- Add the garlic, onion, and bread to the beef. Use your fork to combine.
- Add the milk, Worcestershire sauce, spices, and egg to the to the meat mixture. Mix well with a fork (or your hands if you like the hands on approach) until everything is mixed well and fully incorporated.
- Using an ice cream scoop, place 1 scoop of meat mixture into one of the liners in the prepared cupcake pan. Press the meat down into the pan and squeeze a dollop of barbecue sauce on each "cupcake."
- Place the single serving cupcake meatloaves into the oven and bake it uncovered for 30-40 minutes until beef in each cupcake meatloaf is no longer pink and it is completely cooked through.
- Let the loaf stand for a few minutes to cool before placing a cupcake meatloaf onto a plate. Remove the liner before serving, and drizzle more BBQ sauce if that is desired.