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


Monday, June 28, 2010

What's Up?

:::::::Zoo Trip from Last Week:::::

:::Book Reviews::::

Some bizarre and interesting facts mixed with some conjecture about creatures we live with on Earth. Some amazing adaptations and some that are rather freaky make me think that being human is not to shabby.
A sad, but necessary cautionary tale of human intervention in Florida has to do with people putting an abundance of bird seed out to encourage birds to visit their gardens, but it causes the birds to produce young too early. The adults can eat the seeds, but the hatchlings need grubs and larvae, so they often die of malnutrition.
One of my favorite stories was about the male lyrebird from Australia. The lyrebird's ability to mimic sound has me in awe!
Another great story is about sheep not being all that dumb. There are sheep in Yorkshire, England who would run and then tuck and roll to get over the cattle grates to raid the farmers gardens.
Another interesting fact that no eels have been witnessing reproducing in captivity. Eels...who would have thought they would be the masters of restraint?
A quick and enjoyable read.


Paul Yeager injects a lot of personality along with his informative book about weather. He dispels many weather inspired myths and clears up many queries on why the weather does what it does. He explains that though we Southerners perceive humid air as heavy it is actually lighter than dry air. He states, "It just feels heavier because we feel warm, clammy, and disgusting." (He speaks the truth about that perception, indeed). He also dispels the myth about "heat lightning"...(hint: there is no such thing). A great gardening tip from p. 198, "water the garden after it rains". This promotes deep root growth and conserves water. Yeager states that if you are certain on a light rain will fall you can water while it is still raining, "Ont only will it have the same effect on the garden, but it will give the neighbors something to talk about." A wonderful book for understanding our world.

:::::::::Piano Lessons:::

Eve is enjoying her piano lessons. She is experiencing some frustration with reading the notes consistently. The pattern is the same as we see with her with reading books. I have taken to sitting with her during her practices and trying some different strategies. I have her tell me what note she sees. I have her tell me what notes to play. Then she plays the piece. She goes through it about 3 times to play it consistently. Part of her reading problem has her recognizing the note immediately, then forgetting the same note a few measures over. I think it is part confidence part developmental delay. She gets claps, hugs and kisses with each success. I am having to remember the lessons I had as a kid. I could never get my left hand to play staccato correctly with my right, so I gave up lessons. Michael is our fallback since he reads music.
Eve also picks up Aaron's guitar... (it is a lonely guitar and likes the gentle stroking). Michael and I plan to trade it in and get a 3/4th size guitar for Eve as a Christmas present.

:::::::::::Dr. Who::::::::

Just wanted to give a shout out to Matt Smith for being, yet another, enjoyable Dr. Who. His take on the Dr. is pretty cool. Our entire family like his portrayal. We also like his companion, Amy Pond. Their was a collective sigh of sadness when Rory was absorbed into the crack in space.

Later, gators!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Save the Drama for Your Mama... least this kind is fun!

::::::::Drama Camp:::

The theme for this year was Myths, Legend, Monsters & Heros. The title of Rachel's skit was, "The Golden Apple".
It's Basically a mixed up version of the Story of the Golden Apple. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite are attending their friend Thereus's wedding when Eris the Goddess of Discord throws an apple at Thereus's head. Written in it's skin are the words: For the Fairest. The three Goddesses fight over the apple and turn to Zeus. Zeus doesn't want to be given the responsibility of choosing the fairest amongst his family so he gives the burden to a handsome sheep herder named Paris. Who is tricked by Eris to pick her as the fairest causing Aphrodite the one with the biggest ego of the three stays behind crying. Thereus comes in and tells Aphrodite that life isn't fair.

~Rachel Taylor

Rachel T.:Hera, Julia B.: Narrator, Thereus, Brenna M., Charles: Paris, Camille G.: Eris, Sabrina F.: Athena, Lydia P.: Aphrodite, Lauren S.: Jupiter. Counselors: John Fiscian, Alexis Osenga.

Rachel, Alexis, and Brenna:

Rachel and Lydia:

Julia and Rachel:

Sabrina, Rachel, Lydia, Lauren, and Brenna:

The finale:

Aaron congratulates Alexis on a good performance:

Michael having fun behind Rachel's back:

Alexis teases Noah:

We drove to Steak and Shake for a celebratory lunch. Rachel got chili cheese fries. Noah loved his chicken tenders and wanted to order more, but we said no. On the way home he was playing his dsi in the back seat. When we pulled into the driveway he got out of the car went up on the porch, turned around a puked over the railing. He had gotten car sick. He is so calm when he is sick. My other kids cry out, not Noah. He is rather matter of fact about things. He was able to rest up before cub scout camp. He had a great time. Lesson learned for the day...Noah can't read or play games in the car without it making him sick.

I love reading this series out loud to my family. It is a great one to read to yourself, as well. Michael Buckley's flawed heroines and hero, two young girls and a funky (I mean smelly) boy fairy take the reader on quite a bumpy ride through the Book of Everafter to save the girls' baby brother. There are fairytales familiar and unfamiliar, but different characters are called on to explain each tale so no one is left in the proverbial dark. There is even a scrapbooking reference that I found hilarious. The dialogue is quick and clever and the descriptions of the settings and characters are rich. I was so happy to see the phrase " be continued" at the end of the book. YEAH!

::::::::::Plans for Saturday:::::::

I hope to be able to give blood tomorrow. If you would like to donate and live near Tucker send me an e-mail and I can get you the details to donate too.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

You Blogged That, Mom?

Life with Evey:

This morning Eve was telling jokes, which she found quite amusing.
I told her, "You know you are a legend in your own mind."

Eve replied chirpily, "I know. I hope I get a statue!"

::::::::Here Comes Science:::::::

The verdict is in...we love it! The cd is fun all by itself, but what a cool addition to have the dvd. The dvd has cartoon drawn characters to segue to each song. Noah sings the Palentologist song the most. Eve can be heard singing about Photosynthesis, Roy G. Biv, and the blood mobile. I love the shooting star song. I like that they included a follow up song to one they did about the sun that had new scientific information.

We are off to see Rachel and the other Drama Camp performers at Parkview. I will post photos soon. Time to go get celebratory flowers!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Summer time...

Eve and Noah were arguing, Eve at the base of the stairs and Noah in his bedroom. From what I could tell Noah refused to help Eve find a website on the computer downstairs. She was trying to harangue him until he helped her. Then I heard in a whiny, shrill voice, "MOM, Noah called me a brat!"

Noah yelled from upstairs, "I said it loud enough so mom can hear!" much for blackmailing the older brother!

::::::::::::They Might Be Giants::::

I just got the cd & DVD of "Here Comes Science". I'll let you know what I think after I finish listening to it. My, preliminary, guess is that it will be pretty cool.


Reading Again...

This book created a surprising amount of anxiety for me as a read through the politics involved with several dissident Tories collaborating with Labour and Liberal party members to remove Neville Chamberlain shortly after the start of WWII. It was akin to watching a movie where you know the ending, but somehow the outcome might be different. Lynne Olson does a fabulous job explaining the social and psychological aspects that underlay the decision making machinations in British politics. There is the system of peerage, what school you attended, and ties through marriage to consider when making any decision. It is rather dizzying and frustrating. It was this same peerage system, the separating of the classes, that led to several in the upper classes to be sympathetic to Hitler's cause and allowed the reports of Germany ramping up its military to be left unheeded. There was also a distinct hatred of communism over fascism. The press was censored and largely a government machine, as well.
I was surprised to learn that even though Churchill wanted to be Prime Minister and get things ramped up for the war effort early on he did not get directly involved with the men who eventually put him in to power. He, in fact, thought of them negatively. By the time all the wrangling for a confidence vote came around the British were being hit hard by the Germans and Churchill was Lord of the Admiralty. He felt loyalty to Chamberlain, even when Chamberlain was always for appeasement to the Germans. Chamberlain was always certain that Hitler could be reasoned with some how. Once Churchill became the Prime Minister he kept many of Chamberlain's people in positions of power surprising, and disheartening, the Tory rebels. Churchill saw them as conniving and traitorous. He did give out a few posts in government, but not the welcoming positions the rebels expected. Ultimately assigning one of the rebels, Harold Macmillan, to Algiers as Minister in Resident allowed Macmillan to become an integral part of negotiations with the U.S. Eventually Macmillan returned to acclaim in Britain and later became the Prime Minister during a period of severe economic downturn. Macmillan turned things around during his tenure.
I was thoroughly fascinated and awed reading this book. I was counting my blessings to not have the upbringing in a classed society. I find the machinations, back biting, palm greasing, and politics in general a distasteful business. I suppose I'm a history gawker, or rubbernecker though. I still want to read and find out what happened and why. Lynne Olson has an engaging writing style that brings history alive. I look forward to reading some of her other work, as well.

An Atlanta family decides that they can downsize their lives and sell their mansion and take half of the proceeds and donate it charity. Hannah Selwan's parents already had a history of giving through Habitat for Humanity and other charitable work, but through Hannah's desire to do more the family made some changes. Realizing that the collecting of stuff was not what they wanted to teach their two children the Selwan's got behind their daughter's push to do more. Every person in their family had a voice when making decisions, which was a vital aspect to a life long change.
The family was criticized for some of their choices. Many were upset that they chose to donate their funds to The Hunger Project, with the money going to Ghana not doing something in their community, or the U.S. Many thought they were showboating because of their wealth.
As I was reading I found a family who sincerely wanted to give service, which they did through Cafe 458 (a place for feeding the homeless), Habitat for Humanity, blood donations, and The Hunger Project. They weren't putting on hairshirts. They maintained their affluent lifestyle, but not to the extent they had before. There were several setbacks to funding their charitable desires with being unable to sell their house in a timely manner due to the economic downturn.
This book is great for families and teens who want ideas on how they can contribute to a better world. One of the key things I learned in the was the negative impact that mission and service trips have in communities, "Mission and service trips often have a negative long-term impact on the very people they are aiming to serve- not positive, not even neutral, but negative. It may be hard to believe that people of goodwill aspiring to help those in need can have a deleterious effect. But they do."
The problem is the fostering of dependence as opposed to self reliance. The best efforts are when supporting the work that their community is doing. A very eye-opening and well thought out book.

A series of vignettes about summer vacations with a sturdy, independent grandmother and two city grand kids from Chicago. The children never seem to move past their grandmother's veneer. They do get glimpses that there is a compassionate and clever woman who feels safe behind her gruff exterior. Never straight forward, but rather enjoying machinations and manipulations of the vanity of others the grandmother achieves her purposes. I realized in each chapter there was a little gem that the kids could take away, but the ending was book felt rather flat with a surprising uptick at the end with the touching farewell.

::::::::::Drama Camp and Twilight Camp:::
Yesterday Rachel started Drama Camp and Noah is doing Twilight Camp with the Cub Scouts. Both kids came home tuckered out, but had a good time. I'm looking forward to the drama performance the kids will have together on Thursday.


Friday, June 04, 2010

Nice (said in my best sarcastic voice)

Noahism of the Day:

Scene: I had just gotten home from the grocery store and was putting things away when Aaron asked:

Aaron: "Mom, will you make me the pizza rolls now?"

Me: "Preheat the oven. Your arms aren't broken."

Aaron: "But you are my slave."

Noah: "That's not til she's promoted."

Aaron: "You really don't want to live long."

Books and Movies

This song was mentioned several times in the book, so I thought I would include it with my review:

A glimpse into the life of the "Weird" Watsons from Flint, Michigan. Told from the perspective of the 10 year-old son, Kenny. Kenny tells us his experiences of dealing with his delinquent bullying brother Byron and his rule following, kind-hearted sister Joetta (Joey). Kenny's parents are finally pushed to follow through with the threat to take Byron to stay with his strict grandmother in Birmingham, Alabama. The family takes a trip to the South with the families old car, "The Brown Bomber" and momma's notebook laying out their itinerary in detail. Once in Alabama the children are introduced to the sultry nights and oppressive heat of the day... and the oppressive hatred that is punctuated by a bombing at the Sunday School.

The first several chapters describing the family and the actions of Byron and his bullying were off putting. The author doesn't let Byron become a one dimensional character. The incident with the bird shows a sad, but redeeming quality in Bryron. The book hit its stride once the Weird Watson's hit the road. I have traveled enough with road trips with my family and seen that clinched jaw and wild eyed star on my husband to get connected with the family. The part where Byron says, "No cars, no cow, but I counted yo' momma six times already." Then Kenny replies, "That's your momma too, stupid!" makes me think of several conversations among my kids in the car and at the breakfast table. Byron's character at the end is fully redeemed by helping Kenny through the aftermath of the bombing. I like that the characters are all a shade of gray.
The epilogue was a great addition to the book and one of my favorite parts said, "They are the people who believe that as long as one person is being treated unfairly, we all are. These are our heroes, and they still walk among us today."
Definitely give this book a read. This would offer a wonderful springboard to a family discussion on Civil Rights, bullying, road trips, and life in different parts of the country.

:::::::::::Shrek Forever After

I took Eve to see Shrek on Thursday afternoon to keep a promise I made last month. The message of the movie, to appreciate your life, was a great. The alternate reality was hilarious. The interaction between Rumplestiltskin and the witches was a hoot. Donkey and Puss were their crazy, reluctant, side-kick selves. The site gags with Puss sliding down the ropes was too funny. We had a great time singing too.

Here is a great site for finding all of the songs in the movie in order of their appearance.
I have enjoyed all of the soundtracks from the Shrek movies. I have this image in my head that somehow I went to school with the folks selecting the music because I enjoy them all so much. I thought this new song was amazing "Darling I Do" by Landon Pigg and Lucy Schwartz:

I'm one of those folks that sits and reads the credits to films and this song by Maxine Nightingale that I fondly remember from the late 70's was fun to sing along:

::::::::::Robin Hood:::::::

Last week, my mom and I got to use our free movie tickets to see Robin Hood. Michael and Aaron had gone earlier in the day and gave it a positive review. I already like Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, so I was game to go to see the film. This telling of the Robin Hood story was well done. Russell Crowe plays Robin Longstride who makes a promise to Robert Loxley's sword to his father to make amends for taking it and going to battle. Reluctlantly Robin agrees, but has to make a minor stop to return the crown of the dead king first. When Robin gets to Nottingham he is asked by Loxley's father to pretend to his dead son, so that his daughter-in-law, Marian, will not lose the family estate.
Cate Blanchett as Marian is a strong woman (I love strong woman characters)who defends her family and land against the smarmy Sheriff of Nottingham played by Matthew McFadyen (who was made not dreamy like he was as Mr. Darcy for this film), then the forces led by the evil Godfrey. Russell Crowe has the presences in each film that he is given a leadership role to pull it off convincingly. I loved him in Master and Commander and in Gladiator too.
The fight sequences are many, but suprisingly, not gory. The bloodiest part of the film is in the credits and is done in life action with a watercolor overlay. Totally funky effect to have the credits using the watercolor. This is a quintessentially cool date movie. It has action, drama, romance, history and a plot (some movies never get around to the plot part...or good actors...). The scenery is magnificent, as well. Check this one out.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Cupcakes and Books...

I am looking forward to this book that I pre-ordered from

I enjoy seeing what new and clever idea Bakerella has come up with and presented on her blog. I have used her ideas for Apple Pops and Smiley Face Pops.

I also ordered this cupcake book. Cupcake obsessed much?!

::::::::::::Book Reviews:::

Flavia de Luce in the little village of Bishop's Lacey is a young chemist and solver of mysteries along side her faithful Gladys (her bicycle). I loved the line about Flavia's character, "I'm keen on chemistry and I enjoy making scrapbooks."
When a puppeteer and his assistant comes to town Flavia notices that the puppeteer knows more about the village and some of its residence then he says. The hanging death of a village child from years before is brought up again when the puppeteer uses the child's likeness in one of his puppets.
Flavia's home life includes an aloof philatelist father, a vain and talented sister, Ophelia, and a bookworm sister, Daphne. She also has a need for a cast iron stomach due to the family's cook, Mrs. Mullet. Dogger, depending on how he is handling his post war trauma, is the family butler, gardener, and groundskeeper.
The book is well paced and Flavia's desire to make sense of her surrondings using observation and science draws me in. The village setting allows for a close knit community and also for whispered secrets. Ancient history among the villagers provides depth to the characters and possible motivations.
Overall, I enjoyed the first book a bit more, but Alan Bradley uses his descriptions of characters and scenery superbly. I liked this book and look forward to the third book in the series.

I requested this book from the library because I was curious about the craft of thinking something up and then presenting it to others in a humorous way. A common theme with the writers was to write what you know. Also not to overwork the joke. I like to help Rachel's Girl Scout troop with their skit each spring. One of the moms said that our girls are known as the F Troop of Girl Scouts, so I thought it was appropriate to get a few pointers to get down their ideas. Some of the tips that seemed to fit with how I like to work is bouncing off ideas in a group. I find that someone says something that leads to something else quite funny. Another tip was to sit and write. Get it down and then work with the ideas. I always tell the girls when we are talking about skit ideas to know their audience. Ours is usually girls from 7-17 and women leaders, so our jokes and gags need to be varied.
Being obsessive compulsive seemed to be a common thread among the comedy writers, so if you are witty, observant, and must eat the same cereal everyday at 7:18am you might be a future comedic writer. Some writers are very well read, while others are just observant of their surrondings. The more you read the more material you have to use. If there is no center to the characters, Harold Ramis said, you just have whimsy which is not powerful.
You are unique, so work with what you've experienced. Todd Hanson from The Onion had this great advice, "If you want to do something creative, you should have a better reason for wanting to do it than to make money. If you want to make money, my advice is to sell shoes or go into banking." He suggests writing your own paper for fun.
I also liked what Dave Barry said about comedy's origin lies in the mutual understanding that "we live in an extremely dangerous, scary world, run by all kinds of forces over which we have no control. And we're all gonna get sick and die."
One of the writers interviewed was Jack Handey who writes about his "Deep Thoughts". One of the ones he shared that hit just the write note with me was, "Consider the daffodil. And while you're doing that, I'll be over here, looking through your stuff." The combination of sentimental and felonious is hilarious.
There are 21 comedy writers interviewed in this book and it is interesting to hear how they work. If you are curious about such things then give it a read. Be aware that there is some salty language peppered throughout the interviews...or should I say peppery language?

We finished this family book read a few days ago. Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson have put together another great adventure. The choice of words sets each scene magnificently. The book might play better to a slightly older child. Light and fluffy, these books are not. Sinister forces have returned to collect the starstuff caches in London and from Neverland. Children are put in perilous situations. The evil characters are described vividly and it is not a pleasant sight.
I got sucked into the book immediately, while Rachel (12 years-old) said she had a hard time feeling a connection to the characters. The book is well paced with several small chapters that keep the action moving, while giving the sub stories definition. Barry and Pearson add levity to the book by keeping a Disney-like interaction between Hook and Smee. The dialogue with these characters always makes me laugh.
I recommend this book for older kids and teens who like intense adventures.