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


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ooga Booga and Books Galore:

I think tonight is pumpkin carving night. Michael has been in design talks with the kids. I am looking forward to helping and documenting their progress.

Michael and I are thoroughly tired of being sick and tired. Colds are such nasty drags!

I just love the phrase, "Ooga Booga". No scary costumes for this year. Noah is going to be a robot. Michael has the box cut out and spray painted with silver metallic paint. I got Noah a pair of gray sweats and some cookie tins. I look forward to seeing what the guys put together. Eve decided she wanted to wear Rachel's Kimono from 2nd grade, so easy peasy there. Rachel is going to be a white fuzzy die with black fuzzy spots. Should be weird. Good stuff!

To the Books::::

This was the second book I have read by Mary Roach. I was intrigued by the subject of what a person would have to do to get ready for and possibly expect in long term space travel. Mary Roach's style is to ask questions that are not usually asked due to their embarrassing nature, or social taboo. Her book Stiff was one that thoroughly fascinated me, as well. I found the discoveries of how the body works under long periods of forced bed rest, no bathing for several days, processing different types and consistency of food, and withstanding extreme G forces interesting. The author often interjects her thoughts and feelings, so you feel you are her silent partner along for the experience. The part that seemed tedious and unnecessary was the several pages devoted to tracking down and watching footage from a porn film because it claimed that it showed how people could have sex in zero gravity. Well the footage was just an obvious camera trick and an annoying tangent to a story that could be served with a footnote.
I did like that the book was footnoted throughout. These asides I, mostly, found pertinent to the overall story.
How animals were and are used in the space program was very informative and interesting. The Russians preferred dogs, while the U.S. used monkeys.
One of the most fascinating parts of the book was the psychological tests that the potential astronauts have to endure. The scary part is the potential for problems because if there are psychological issues astronauts will deny them because they realize they will be scrubbed from the mission. Trying to figure out optimum crew make up was pretty cool. They have found mostly male crews with a few females would probably work best for long term travel.
The book was worth the read, but the tangents were often distracting to the more interesting information in the book.

Mary Quinn accepts a new assignment that uses her early life experiences of being on the street. This time she has cut her hair and donned the clothes of a street urchin boy and gets a job hauling bricks at the construction site at the Clock Tower at the Houses of Parliament. She meets up again with James Easton who is brought in to help determine the safety of the job site after a man has fallen to his death from the tower. Mary and James have a smoldering relationship that is blanched when Mary reveals some of her past to James. The setting in Victorian England and the descriptions of life for the poor is vivid and jarring. Especially riveting is the character of Jenkins. The series continues to have a modern feel, which I wish it would shake off some how. I like the characters and feel that the writer continues to show a lot of potential.

The Story of Henry Lee, a first generation Chinese boy in Seattle and his life changing encounter with a Japanese girl, Keiko. The story moves between two time periods. The war years of the 40s and close to present day in the mid 1980s. Henry's father wants him to learn English, so doesn't allow him to speak Cantonese. This communication barrier isolates Henry from his family. Henry is also ostracized by his classmates who are caught up in hatred of anyone who looks Japanese (which means anyone with Asian characteristics). His father makes him wear a button proclaiming, "I am Chinese". While working in the school lunchroom, Henry becomes friends with Keiko. Their friendship is put the crucible of war time drama. Through machinations of his father, Keiko and Henry are separated. Their ultimate return to each other is a long time coming, but done in a satisfying and gentle way.

The themes of father-son relationships, racism, bigotry, war, internment camps, friendship, and love are explored in this novel. A thought provoking read and a great book for discussion.

I am a science fiction geek, so books in this genre help me consider interesting "What If" scenarios. This book continues to be told from Will's point of view. Will is small, scrappy, and impulsive. His strong desire to maintain his identity by avoiding Capping by the Masters has led him to a group of rebels seeking to overthrow the Masters through subterfuge. Will is able to enter the City of Gold and Lead by winning a competition held to take the strongest representatives to work for the Masters. He, along with Fritz, enter the city and find out several important secrets of the Masters that the can use to fight them.

The world created by the author was well thought out and plausible. Well plausible, if you totally dig the idea of creepy, domineering alien species. I plausible, YES! This is a cool read aloud. My son keeps asking questions about the What Ifs. Curiosity...not so bad sometimes. Enjoyable series.

Charles Lennox is an upstanding gentlemen in Victorian England with a loyal butler, and an equally loyal fiance. His brother who likes to help out in Charles' detective work is also a great character. In this book of the series, Charles Lennox is running for a seat in parliament. The political machinations for running for election are a large part of the book. Lennox has to alternate his running for election with solving murders in London. The clues and characters were interesting, but I kept feeling that there was too much time spent on the run for parliament.

This is a solid detective series with good character development. This may be a bit of a vanilla review, but I like to think of it as a vanilla bean review because it does have that little somethin' somethin'.

Happy Halloween, folks!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How Did You Save Your Games?

Conversations with Noah:

On Friday we were going to my mother's house for the kids to sleep over. Noah was playing a handheld video game and was shutting it down to go get in the car. He cocked his head sideways and asked curiously,
"Hey mom, what did you do when you were a kid to save your games?"

Me: "I would leave them out on the table and tell everyone not to touch the pieces."

Noah: "OOOHHH."

I love those little family history moments.

:::::::::::::Noah's Business Venture:::::::

On Thursday we took the kids to Steak and Shake where Noah ate his usual request of chicken tenders. He decided that he should get a job. He understood that he was too young for getting a job out of the house, but he had come up with a clever plan:

"I have a great idea to make money. People could pay me money to play video games for them. I would play to increase their high scores. I would have to have a disclaimer that stated "Results May Vary"."
He is ten, but is already making sure his legal bases are covered.

I'm sure the offers are going to come pouring in.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Math for the Literally Minded...

Noahism of the Day:::

"Hey Mom, you know people don't really get in lines to get on the bus. They get into line segments".


A few minutes later Noah asked us how to draw a crowd, so Michael started waving his arms and yelling different things.. I started yelling I've got free money. I've got chocolate. He explained that he meant he needed to literally draw a crowd. So much for homework help.


That's a Blog!


Noah came home from school on Monday and said, "You know you forgot to pack me a snack?"

Me: "Sorry. I realized that after you left that I only packed one for Evey."

He wanted to eat some sugary snacks, so I said, "I know you like to eat crap."

Noah: "I call it unhealthy goodness."

Me: "Nice. Why don't you eat an apple."

Noah: "I said I was hungry not desperate. That's a blog!"

::::::::Neighborhood Clean up:::

Below is a link and article from back in April when we joined Aaron's troop to help clean up the park next to the scout hut. I was quoted, so I thought I would share the article on my blog:

April 2010

Scores of volunteers at Cofer Park cleanup

More than 70 residents of all ages joined in TCA’s “Give An Hour” at Cofer Park on May 10. There were local homeowners and their children, Boy Scouts, and more than a dozen congregants from Tucker First Baptist Church. After the county Parks Department dropped off a mountain of mulch and four new metal park benches, some volunteers spread mulch around bushes and flower beds while others dug post holes and poured cement to anchor the benches near the park’s fishing pond.

Another large job was removing a two-inch deep layer of silt from the floor of the park pavilion, then digging a trench around three sides of the pavilion to direct future stormwater runoff. There was real enthusiasm for this event. First Baptist Pastor Randy Shepley explained, “Our church exists to love our community through Jesus, which means working with our neighbors for the common good.”

Victoria Taylor, mother of a Boy Scout, said, “Anything that can bring people out to the park to work with their family and others while enjoying nature is a worthwhile effort.” Juliet Melvin, whose 13-year-old daughter plays soccer in the park, added, “We use the soccer fields here, and it’s invaluable for children to see that you have to clean up the facilities that you use.”
TCA’s next “Give An Hour” is scheduled for May 1, 10 – 11 a.m. Volunteers will freshen up Fitzgerald Field, a youth athletics facility at 4877 Lawrenceville Highway, in advance of the Tucker High School spring football game.

For more information, contact Ron Wilkinson at or

:::::::::::::::Arts in Education::::::

I got to be the hostess for one of the most fun presenters from Young Audiences. Cathy Kammerlain came to the elementary school this morning to present a show on Georgia history. The kids learned and laughed. Her show allows for a lot of audience participation. Here is a picture of Eve at the show:

Eve represented the month of September in Georgia when we have the Yellow Daisy Festival at Stone Mountain.
Now to color correct photos and upload them for the yearbook...oh, and throw in housework.

Smiles, Victoria

Friday, October 01, 2010

Reading is Fun...OKAY!

::::::::Reading with Eve::::
When you have a struggling reader it is interesting what word they might connect from their brain to the letters they see on the page. Eve and I had quite a fun time when she was reading Madeline and The Bad Hat by Ludwig Bemelmans and she came to the line that read, "One day the Spanish Ambassador..." She began to sound out the "", but didn't know the word so I said, "Spanish". Since she could tell that the next word was long she decided not to sound it out and, instead, fill in a word from the file in her brain. She said, "...Inquisition!" I have to admit that "One day the Spanish Inquisition..." did sound like an interesting children's story. Maybe we should write one?

:::::::::::::Banned and Challenged Book Week

I enjoyed reading my selection from the book list:

Galadriel Hopkins, or Gilly for short, has been moved from foster home to foster home since she was 3. She is left with a photograph of her mother expressing her love for her daughter. The hope of reuniting with her mother is always in Gilly's heart. Now 11, she has decided to stop becoming attached to her foster families because the moves are never permanent. She wields control through excelling at school, then putting the brakes on everything. She is placed with Maime Trotter who has carried for many children over her years as a foster mom. Ms. Trotter is already caring for a little boy who is scared of everyone. William Earnest Teague allows Gilly to soften her attitude over the course of the book. Mr. Randolph the blind, elderly neighbor gives Gilly an opportunity to make impressions by actions rather than sight. Mr. Randolph's kind approach also breaks down some of Gilly's wall.
I was intrigued by the interactions between Gilly and her teacher Ms. Harris. When you are introduced to Gilly she has a negative attitude toward black people. She has moved around the South and has landed in Ms. Harris' 6th grade class. Gilly decides to make a card to anger her teacher who she says as frustratingly fair to every student. She delivers the rude card to no reaction the entire day. When Gilly thinks all hope is lost of getting her teacher to react the teacher asks her to stay behind. The teacher says, "You and I are two of the angriest people I know." She expresses her envy of Gilly's ability to face her anger, whereas, Ms. Harris was taught to deny hers.
It is inferred by comment from the social worker that Gilly's mom was a flower child. Courtney, Gilly's mom, was one of the free love generation, which found out that "free love" actually had a price, and she wasn't willing to pay it. Her character is selfish, distant and unforgiving. She likes others to take care of her problems, so she writes her estranged mother to take custody of Gilly from foster care.
The ultimate lesson of the book is summed up by Maime Trotter when she tells Gilly that life is tough and no one is owed anything. Good things do happen, but don't expect them all the time. Doing well on something that was hard makes you happy too.
This book is well worth the discussions it would bring up. For example, foster care, racism, responsibility, family relationships, and gossip. I also liked the way the author wrote down what Gilly was thinking followed by the actual dialogue. Most people are usually thinking much more than they actually say. Worth your time, indeed.

Always learning. Smiles, amigos!