Kids Book Corner

  • Goose Girl
  • Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH
  • Peter and The Shadow Thieves
  • Peter and The Star Catchers
  • Simon Bloom, The Gravity Keeper
  • Stella Brite and The Dark Matter Myster
  • The Island of The Blue Dolphins
  • The Phantom Toll Booth
  • The School Library Journal
  • The Sisters Grimm
  • Tuck Everlasting


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The 39 Clues

At the behest of my 9 year-old and a good review from another friend I read The 39 Clues. Well, the good part first. I found the historical clues interesting. That being said, Rick Riordan has underwhelmed me again with his abilities to develop characters that I want to root for, or find interesting. The protagonists are being raised by a string of Au Pairs, but mostly left to their own devices since the death of their parents. I found the children grated on my nerves and the antagonists (there are several) were comical and grating in their overblown characterizations. The scavenger hunt that takes place in this book reminds me of the 1979 movie *Scavenger Hunt. During the book I felt like Richard Mulligan's character that kept getting run over as he sought the treasure. In this circumstance I feel like I'm Richard Mulligan and I keep getting run over by Rick Riordan as his unsympathetic characters. A possible silver lining is that there are different authors for the various books. Noah explained this to me when I told him the only character I cared for at all was Nellie, the Au Pair.

Overall, the book is an okay read for the historical information. There, apparently, is hope that the writing will improve in the subsequent books. So, give this one a try. It is a quick read and you don't have to become emotionally invested in any of the characters.

***I would like to note that I do like the movie Scavenger Hunt.

I hope y'all have a great day!

Friday, April 23, 2010

For My Mom...An Early Mother's Day Present...

Welcome to the first Eveism:

This morning while helping the kids get ready for school:

Noah: "Hey, mom did they have the Pink Panther when you were a kid?

me: "Yes."

Eve: "Wow, it's really old then."

A few minutes later Noah and Rachel got into an argument because Rachel kicked him in the butt. He was howling that it really hurt, so Rachel came down to explain how hard she had actually kicked him. She was Air Butt Kicking (kind of like Air Guitar) to show that Noah was exaggerating. I was brushing Eve's hair at the time and she piped up happily, "Use me, Use me. I need someone to kick my butt in the morning!" (Truer words, people).

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!!!

I thought this was a good song for Earth Day and for the book Extras :

It is three years after Tally Youngblood has helped change the minds of most of Earth's population. Aya Fuse is a Japanese teenager who is trying to improve her face rank in the reputation economy that has taken hold in Japan. Westerfield gives us another strong female character who is going through the turmoil that is puberty and finding her place in society. Aya's hovercam companion, Moggle, has a K-9 from Dr. Who quality. I, along, with Aya would worry if I thought, during the story, that Moggle might have gotten hurt. The supporting characters are well written. I, especially, like the Sly Girls with their desire to do wild stuff without trying to garner any attention. I also thought Frizz Mizuno with his brain surge to make him completely honest opened up a great opportunity to discuss free will.
Westerfield also continues this dystopian book with his theme on preserving the planet. Resources are becoming scarce and I just imagine watching Annie Leonard's Story of Stuff when I read the book.
This book is good for teen to adult. The reputation economy and some of the tech advances exit at some level already. I am currently reading Troublesome Young Men about the Tory members of Parliament that helped remove PM Neville Chamberlain and replace him with Winston Churchill. I can tell you that the reputation economy has been in practice for a long time.

I love how this science experiment is going to turn out:

I hope everyone has a great day!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


To preface this tidbit I need to tell you that Eve and Noah are always trying to find out who is my favorite kid. I usually tell them that they are one of my four favorite kids and that they are equal favorites, which prompted Noah to ask:

"Who is the most equally favorite?"

A layout of my mom at the school:

Eve is interested in learning the guitar:

Author Deborah Blum pulls together the various strings to weave the tale of the beginnings of forensic science in the early 20s in New York. Led by Chief Medical Examiner Charles Norris and Toxicologist Alexander Gettler information from each victim was compiled and used to help the living. Blum tells the stories of several types of poisons prevalent during the 1920s. Chloroform, Arsenic, Cyanide,Carbon Monoxide, Radium, Thallium,Ethyl alcohol and Methy Alcohol. There are stories of those who poisoned on purpose and those who played with the poisons without realizing what pain they would endure. One of the saddest stories is the one about "The Radium Girls" who played with the glow in the dark paints they used for designing watch faces.
One of the biggest causes of Dr. Norris was trying to show the government that Prohibition was creating a far larger problem. The government was poisoning the alcohol to prevent/discourage people from drinking, but it didn't work. Dr. Norris used his role as Chief Medical Examiner to continually press for reforms for public saftey.
An aside about the appreance of the book. Each chapter begins with the title of the chapter inside a column that mimics a period newspaper article. I thought the effect was well done. The chemisty explained, alone, is fascinating. Tales of deviousness, greed and stupidity add layers to these stories.

Here is an ad from the time period:

*This is a video from Spike tv:

*(There are off color comments under the video you probably want to avoid)

I happened to get the first two books out of order, and now that I finished the first book I can say that the first book is a wonderful start to this series. Charles Lennox, the main character, is a solid guy with integrity. His faithful sidekick Graham allows Lennox to investigate areas and people that are beneath Lennox's social class. Lennox's life long friend, Lady Jane, is a strong woman who has compassion for others.
This case begins at the request of Lady Jane to look into the possible murder of a former servant. With the assistance of a doctor whose better days have been overshadowed by alcohol, Lennox finds evidence that the Bella Indigo plant has been used as a poison with the telltale sign of bright red veins. The murder uses arsenic to veil this poison. The book is comprised of short chapters and the story movies swiftly as the amateur gentleman detective and his entourage work to solve this case.

I love to look at fonts...I, in fact, horde fonts on my computer. I have ideas of how to use them, but often don't get around to it. So, these fonts stay tucked away on my hard drive and some times get new companions. Today was just such an exciting day for the Font Folder on my hard drive! I downloaded some awesome sauce fonts created by Teagan White, Douglas Vitkauskas, Anke Arnold, and Billy Argel from

Clementine Sketch
Peach Sundress

Angel Tears
Green Piloww

Typo Garden

Love and Peace

Ghetto marquee

Super cool doodle fonts:

Stacy's are some I like best.


The ones in bold are the ones I read:

The Top 100 Children's Novels
100. The Egypt Game - Snyder (1967)
99. The Indian in the Cupboard - Banks (1980)
98. Children of Green Knowe - Boston (1954)
97. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane - DiCamillo (2006)
96. The Witches - Dahl (1983)
95. Pippi Longstocking - Lindgren (1950
94. Swallows and Amazons - Ransome (1930)
93. Caddie Woodlawn - Brink (1935)

92. Ella Enchanted - Levine (1997)
91. Sideways Stories from Wayside School - Sachar (1978)
90. Sarah, Plain and Tall - MacLachlan (1985)
89. Ramona and Her Father - Cleary (1977)
88. The High King - Alexander (1968)
87. The View from Saturday - Konigsburg (1996)
86. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Rowling (1999)
85. On the Banks of Plum Creek - Wilder (1937)
84. The Little White Horse - Goudge (1946)
83. The Thief - Turner (1997)
82. The Book of Three - Alexander (1964)
81. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon - Lin (2009)
80. The Graveyard Book - Gaiman (2008)
79. All-of-a-Kind-Family - Taylor (1951)
78. Johnny Tremain - Forbes (1943)
77. The City of Ember - DuPrau (2003)
76. Out of the Dust - Hesse (1997)
75. Love That Dog - Creech (2001)
74. The Borrowers - Norton (1953)
73. My Side of the Mountain - George (1959)
72. My Father's Dragon - Gannett (1948)
71. The Bad Beginning - Snicket (1999)
70. Betsy-Tacy - Lovelae (1940)
69. The Mysterious Benedict Society - Stewart ( 2007)
68. Walk Two Moons - Creech (1994)
67. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher - Coville (1991)
66. Henry Huggins - Cleary (1950)
65. Ballet Shoes - Stratfeild (1936)
64. A Long Way from Chicago - Peck (1998)

63. Gone-Away Lake - Enright (1957)
62. The Secret of the Old Clock - Keene (1959)
61. Stargirl - Spinelli (2000)
60. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - Avi (1990)
59. Inkheart - Funke (2003)
58. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Aiken (1962)
57. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 - Cleary (1981)
56. Number the Stars - Lowry (1989)
55. The Great Gilly Hopkins - Paterson (1978)
54. The BFG - Dahl (1982)
53. Wind in the Willows - Grahame (1908)
52. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007)
51. The Saturdays - Enright (1941)
50. Island of the Blue Dolphins - O'Dell (1960)
49. Frindle - Clements (1996)
48. The Penderwicks - Birdsall (2005)
47. Bud, Not Buddy - Curtis (1999)
46. Where the Red Fern Grows - Rawls (1961)
45. The Golden Compass - Pullman (1995)
44. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing - Blume (1972)
43. Ramona the Pest - Cleary (1968)
42. Little House on the Prairie - Wilder (1935)
41. The Witch of Blackbird Pond - Speare (1958)
40. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - Baum (1900)
39. When You Reach Me - Stead (2009)
38. HP and the Order of the Phoenix - Rowling (2003)
37. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry - Taylor (1976)
36. Are You there, God? It's Me, Margaret - Blume (1970)
35. HP and the Goblet of Fire - Rowling (2000)
34. The Watson's Go to Birmingham - Curtis (1995)
33. James and the Giant Peach - Dahl (1961)
32. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH - O'Brian (1971)
31. Half Magic - Eager (1954)
30. Winnie-the-Pooh - Milne (1926)
29. The Dark Is Rising - Cooper (1973)
28. A Little Princess - Burnett (1905)

27. Alice I and II - Carroll (1865/72)
26. Hatchet - Paulsen (1989)
25. Little Women - Alcott (1868/9)
24. HP and the Deathly Hallows - Rowling (2007)
23. Little House in the Big Woods - Wilder (1932)
22. The Tale of Despereaux - DiCamillo (2003)
21. The Lightening Thief - Riordan (2005)
20. Tuck Everlasting - Babbitt (1975)

19. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Dahl (1964)
18. Matilda - Dahl (1988)
17. Maniac Magee - Spinelli (1990)
16. Harriet the Spy - Fitzhugh (1964)
15. Because of Winn-Dixie - DiCamillo (2000)
14. HP and the Prisoner of Azkaban - Rowling (1999)
13. Bridge to Terabithia - Paterson (1977)
12. The Hobbit - Tolkien (1938)
11. The Westing Game - Raskin (1978)
10. The Phantom Tollbooth - Juster (1961)
9. Anne of Green Gables - Montgomery (1908)
8. The Secret Garden - Burnett (1911)
7. The Giver -Lowry (1993)
6. Holes - Sachar (1998)
5. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler - Koningsburg (1967)
4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - Lewis (1950)

3. Harry Potter #1 - Rowling (1997)
2. A Wrinkle in Time - L'Engle (1962)
1. Charlotte's Web - White (1952)

Friday, April 09, 2010


I was surprised to find my eyes tearing up throughout each chapter of this book. I did some self psychoanalyzing to try and figure out my emotional response behind this story of a struggling man (Nelson Mandela) under Apartheid in South Africa. I have determined that the tears come from frustration. People that see color as a reason to feel superior and disrespect others, then use force and unjust laws to further their beliefs is unconscionable. The ends which people will go to see others fail, marginalized, and brutalized rends my heart.
Just last week one of the major characters in this book was murdered in a dispute with two workers, Eugene Terreblanche. From a couple of articles that I have read the respect that Mandela struggled to achieve from both sides is tenuous and faltering. Hate filled rhetoric fans the flames of people that are already harboring jealousy, mistrust, guilt, and shame.

This book details the events that led to the Rugby World Cup being held in South Africa in 1995. Nelson Mandela went from being the organizer of the military wing of the ANC that was formed to stop the white led government of the Afrikaners to being incarcerated for 27 years. Mandela was never idle during his incarceration. He used the time to craft political and social ways to fight apartheid. He learned to speak Afrikaans and learned the history of the boers along with the rules of the game that ruled their hearts, rugby. He knew that respect and that love of rugby could unite a nation divided by color and a history of brutal and unjust laws. The change in the hearts and actions of many of the people in this book was inspiring. It is that shining moment when people can be more than they realize and rise above the base nature that many allow themselves to wallow. I just wish those shining moments were not so brief. This quote came to mind and the attribution I found was to Maya Angelou:
"At the time, I did what I knew to do, and when I knew better, I did better."

I think that is why my love for history and reading is so strong. I know I have a lot of room to do better and be better. I recommend this book, along with a box of tissues.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Let's Get Together...Yea, Yea, Yea!

Spring has sprung and an opportunity to get together with aunts and cousins. Michael and I took the kids down to my dad and Alice's house for Easter. Saturday, the girls helped me bake and decorate a cake for my sister, Tracy's, birthday, the kids hunted eggs, and my dad grilled hamburgers and hotdogs on the Big Green Egg.

Here are Rachel and Haley's toes after a spring inspired pedicure:

Haley and Rachel made and decorated cupcakes for Easter:

They also decorated some hard boiled eggs:

Rachel and Haley hanging out:

Rachel and Haley help me make fondant decorations for Tracy's birthday cake:
Me coloring some fondant:

Rachel and Haley cut fondant to make decorative spheres:

Here are some fondant flowers drying:

Here is the strawberry and devil's food cake frosted with chocolate:

Here is Tracy's birthday cake:

Michael blows bubbles waiting for the kids to start hunting eggs:

Michael snuggles up to my dad:

Dad, you aren't uncomfortable...are you?

Aaron isn't hunting eggs, so he poses with a plate of chili. Noah, Haley, Rachel, Eve, and Tyler are ready to go:
Aaron gets whacked with a confetti egg:


Rachel runs away from Aaron:

Tracy and Tyler with the cake:

Dig in:

Happy, slightly early, Birthday, Tracy! Happy Easter, everyone!

Friday, April 02, 2010


This afternoon I drove Aaron over to my brother's school to ask about possible Eagle Scout projects. The director was so friendly and we got a glimpse of my brother, Denny, zooming by with his tray of food. The director said she had asked the teachers what they really needed and they all wanted benches for the outside of the classroom. They also wanted them polyurethane sealed and be able to be brought inside when needed. We talked about an adjacent walking and picnic area to the school and the improvements needed there. Aaron settled on the bench project. He took some notes and now has to find some examples for approval. My brother goes to a school for the mentally handicapped and the director thinks an opportunity to comfortable sit outside would be very beneficial.

Today I got a chance to feed the birds in my mom's neighborhood. I scooped up some writhing mealworms and put them in a bluebird feeding stand. I put the mealworm box away in the neighbors house and in that 2 minute span the bluebird fluttered in and started snacking. I sat on the end of my mom's driveway with the 2 year-old neighbor boy, Nathan, and we watched bluebirds, cardinals, bluejays, and a couple of other species of birds I didn't know. The weather was nigh unto perfect.

Here are a few of the layouts I completed for Noah's Pinewood Derby:
(most of the elements came from Kate Hadfield and CD Muckosky)

A New Book Review:

The chess game is officially complete with this 3rd installment of the dystopian trilogy by Westerfield. The book moved as quickly as the others. Tally is now a "special" Special. Her newest surgery makes her a formidable weapon in the struggle for her city to control the people.
Westerfield takes on the issues of conformity and individuality, along with nature conservancy. Here are a few of my favorite lines in the book:

"So Shay was the Boss, and obeying wasn;t really that bad. It was icier than thinking, which could get you all tangled up."

"That was the whole point of being special: You existed to make sure everyone else behaved, but that didn't mean you had to." (This reminds me of some politicians and religious leaders).

""It was bogus," Shay said. "I'd rather have a brain."
Tally sighed. She couldn't disagree-but having a brain hurt so much sometimes.""

"Thinking like a Special is partly just human nature. It doesn't take much convincing to make someone believe they're better than everyone else."

I was surprised by the ending, but I felt it was better than I had anticipated. I enjoyed the trilogy.