Book of the Week: Flora and the Flamingo

Book of the Week, Children's

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Published: 2013 by Chronicle Books

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

There’s so much pink! I love it!

I admit, I haven’t heard much of this book, until I saw someone reading it across the room. I got a glimpse of the illustrations, and just knew that this was a book I wanted to feature here on the blog.

“Friendship is a beautiful dance.”

Before reading this, I never realized how graceful flamingos could be. Before I just thought they were a bunch of pretty, yet often loud, birds.

Flora and the Flamingo is a wordless book, one that relies on the illustrations to tell the story.

I love how this book shows that friendships can be forged anywhere and with anyone.

Little Flora imitates the graceful flamingo with poise and precision. When the flamingo stands proudly on one leg, so does Flora.

Flora wears flippers and a yellow bathing cap. Quite frankly, she’s adorable!

This book features pull down flaps, where readers can uncover “hidden” illustrations.

The flamingo flaps, Flora flaps. The flamingo doesn’t appear to be amused with Flora’s antics.

Flora becomes very sad when she realizes, although she can do most everything the flamingo can do, she can’t do everything.

Personally, I don’t like to see Flora sad. The flamingo doesn’t either.

To make her happy, the flamingo invites little Flora to dance.

Together the graceful pair sway and shimmy across the page.

Through the intricate dance the two becomes friends.

When the dance is done, the two leap into a giant pool of water, splashing and laughing.

Friends will always keep you laughing.

I really appreciated the use of white space throughout the book.

The illustrations are simple, yet the speak volumes!

I love how each page has the illustration of a cherry blossom.

Flora and the Flamingo is an elegant book. It’s sophisticated, it’s whimsical, but above all things, it’s a books that children will love to read.

Speaking of the illustrations, they are created with precision. They are simply beautiful.

I love how this book doesn’t underestimate children and their reading abilities.

I love how this book really sparks one’s imagination.

It’s the kind of book that I personally want to own, and keep in my own personal library.

Both children and adults who read Flora and the Flamingo will love and cherish this book.

 

Sick :(

Food For Thought, Random

Sick by Shel Silverstein

” “I cannot go to school today,”
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
“I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I’m going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I’ve counted sixteen chicken pox
And there’s one more – that’s seventeen,
And don’t you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue –
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I’m sure that my left leg is broke –
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button’s caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle’s sprained,
My ‘pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my spine is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow’s bent, my spine ain’t straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is –
what? What’s that? What’s that you say?
You say today is … Saturday?
G’bye, I’m going out to play!” “
 

Since this is the last Thursday of April, National Poetry Month, I decided once again to post a poem. Not just any poem, but one that holds very special place in my heart — Shel Silverstein’s Sick.

 

I love this poem. I loved this poem the minute I first heard it. Even if was older than the intended reading age. Sick, to me, really captures the spirit of a child. It’s whimsical, it’s free spirited, but above all things Sick is a poem that everyone can relate to – no matter how young or old you are. Beyond that, I feel like Silverstein’s poem really captures the sentiment of enjoying one’s childhood, not rushing to grow up.

 

On beautiful days, I think of Peggy Ann McKay. When I’m in work with the sunshine shining through the windows, I too wish I was outside playing. So on this beautiful Thursday, I hope all of you, readers, get a chance to get outside, bask in the sun, and have some good old fashioned fun!

Book of the Week: Open This Little Book

Book of the Week, Children's

Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier Illustrated by Suzy Lee

openthislittlebook

 

Published: 2013 by Chronicle Books

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

Before this book was even published, I read an article about it. Just from that article I knew I wanted to read this book. I knew I was going to love it.

The cover of this book is simply adorable. I would love to get lost in all those book.

Speaking of the cover, I love how the white rabbit has a pocket watch. I, personally, love the Alice in Wonderland reference.

The frog is wearing a top hat. Very classy!

Inside this big book are several tiny books.

All the tiny books are various shades of the rainbow, and all tell an important part of a the story.

The first book is a red book with black dots, kind of like a little ladybug.

What a coincidence?! The main character in this little red book is a ladybug, and yes she’s sipping tea from a red tea cup.

The second book is a green book with a darker green, circular print.

And what do you know! The top hat wearing frog is in this little book – hopping from one lily pad to the next with a book in hand.

The third little book is the orange book. Of course it’s orange with a funky, almost abstract looking carrot print scattered about the cover. I wonder what creature will fill the page of this book?

It’s a white rabbit, and he appears to be running very late for a very important date. He is holding a book, maybe he and his friends are off to a book club?!?

The fourth book in the little yellow book, with a honeycomb pattern plastered on it.

But the creature in this yellow book is NOT a bee! It’s a bear. Afterall bears do like honey.

Bear has a yellow umbrella.

The fifth book is the little blue book, and it looks like there’s a castle printed on it.

And it’s in this fifth, blue book, where all the action takes place. The ladybug, the frog, the rabbit, and the bear meet up with a giant!

The giant is SO big he doesn’t even fit in the blue book.

But the giant isn’t a mean giant, he’s a reading giant. And one that likes to read about a ladybug, a frog, a rabbit, and a bear.

After all the friends are done reading they close all of their colored books.

The little books featured within the large book get smaller and smaller.

I love how the book has a very important message at the end of it: at the close of one book, make sure to open another.

The writing is simple (but in a good way), playful, and fun-filled.

The illustrations are full of life and color!

I particularly LOVE the very last illustration: a little library nestled inside of a giant old tree. Animals, people, and giants alike.

This is a really fun, charming book.

This is author Jesse Klausmeier’s debut, and it’s a really fun and charming one. Readers will definitely be keeping an eye out for her future works. I know I will.

 

Hysteria

Reviews

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Hello Readers!

Today I’m posting my review of Megan Miranda’s latest novel, Hysteria, as part of the Triple Threat Blog Tour!

Hysteria by Megan Miranda

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Mallory doesn’t remember much about the night that she killed her boyfriend Brian. All she remembers is that she didn’t intend to kill him. Somehow, struggling to save her own life, Mallory managed to take someone else’s.

Living in the aftermath, Mallory only wishes she could go back to the way things were before – when she had friends who trusted her, parents who could actually stand to look into her eye, and see their daughter. Before, when she was not a cold-hearted murder.

So when her parents decide to ship her off to a fancy boarding school, Mallory doesn’t hesitate to leave her home, her former life, and her dark past behind.

Mallory soon finds out that no matter how far away she moves, she can’t escape her past. Not when girls, who could have been new friends, glare at her. Not when an egotistical classmate relentlessly hits on her. Not when Brian, her dead boyfriend, is haunting her and making her pay night and day for her actions.

So when a classmate, the same egotistical one who hits on her, turns up dead all suspicions and fingers point to Mallory. Finding herself once again living a nightmare, Mallory must do everything possible to prove her innocence, even if she can’t be sure of it.

Hysteria is author Megan Miranda’s second novel. Similar to her debut, Fracture, Hysteria is a novel that is as intriguing as it is intense.

Hysteria’s plot is one that hasn’t been seen before. Aside from the obvious uniqueness, Miranda’s execution of such a twisted plot is done with precision, and above all thing top-notch writing. She knows exactly when to dole out information and when to keep it hidden until just the right moment.

She’s crafted a novel that will keep readers guessing around each and every twist and turn. Beyond that, Miranda has created characters that, even though they are flawed, are realistic, easy to relate to, and warped enough to fear – but in the best way possible.

Mallory, Hysteria’s leading lady, isn’t an obvious hero. In fact, from the get go readers will suspect that she’s the villain. After all, she did kill her boyfriend – a plot point that’s out in the open from the very start.

Hysteria is the kind of book that covers a lot of ground in a short period of time. Sure this book is about how Mallory, who killed her boyfriend, finds a sense of normalcy in the aftermath. But beyond that it’s about so much more.

In just three hundred and thirty-six pages Hysteria manages to touch on some pretty heavy subjects: a teenage murderer,  finding acceptance in an unacceptable situation, but above all these things, finding forgiveness in a not so forgiving world.

Hysteria is a one of a kind of book. One that readers will cling to, will ponder over, and will be left both satisfied and shook up once finished.

In Lieu of a Review

Food For Thought, Random

It’s no secret that April is National Poetry Month. At one point in time I was obsessed with poetry – reading it and writing it myself. As of lately though, I’m sad to admit that I’ve fallen off the poetry bandwagon. I still love it, still have my favorite poets and poems (and all their books clustered neatly on one of my many bookshelves), but don’t read it as much as I would like.

In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought it would be fun to post on my most favorite poems.

“The Walrus And The Carpenter”

by Lewis Carroll

“The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright—
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done—
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun!”

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead—
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
“If this were only cleared away,”
They said, “it would be grand!”

“If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose,” the Walrus said,
“That they could get it clear?”
“I doubt it,” said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

“O Oysters, come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head—
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat—
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more—
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
Of cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,
“Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”
“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
“Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed—
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.”

“But not on us!” the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
“After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!”
“The night is fine,” the Walrus said.
“Do you admire the view?

“It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf—
I’ve had to ask you twice!”

“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none—
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.”

Signed Book Hop

Contests, Food For Thought, Random

signed book hop

Hello Readers!

Boy do I have a giveaway for you! I’ve been holding onto to this book, just waiting for the perfect opportunity, and that opportunity has arrived. Thanks to Kathy over at I Am a Reader, Not A Writer and Ashley over at Wholly Books! for hosting the Signed Book Hop, a hop that allows all participating blogs to giveaway some awesome, signed swag.

This hop around I will be giving away:

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A hardcover copy of Shut Out written (and obviously signed) by author Kody Keplinger. As if the signed copy of Shut Out isn’t enough, I’ll even throw in some bookmarks/swag.

Giveaway is open  from April 16th, 2013 (at 12:01 a.m.) until April 22nd, 2013 (at 11:59 p.m.) to all U.S. residents, ages thirteen years and older.

Entering is simple! Leave a comment on THIS POST telling me one author you wish you could meet and why. When commenting please make sure to leave a VALID e-mail address.

One winner will be selected via random number generator, and will be contact via e-mail on April 23rd, 2013. Winner will have two days, until April 25th, 2013 to respond to e-mail, if no response is received a new winner will be selected.

As always THANK YOU so much to the two blogs hosting such a great giveaway hop – I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and Wholly Books! There are many blogs participating, giving away great prizes, so check them all out.

Good Luck and Happy Hopping!

Book of the Week: Wilfred

Book of the Week, Children's

Wilfred by Ryan Higgins

wilfred

 

Published: 2013 by Dial

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

I was intrigued by this book at first sight. I didn’t know who, or rather, what Wilfred was! And I couldn’t wait to find out.

The end covers are hysterically funny. I especially love the portrait of Wilfred screaming and running away from a tiny white bunny rabbit.

Wilfred lives in a far away place. From the start I really liked that aspect because it leaves readers to believe that this story can happen anywhere, even right in our very own backyard.

Readers find out quickly that Wilfred is a giant.

This giant wasn’t only large he was also hairy.

The ironic thing about that is that he lived in a town where only bald people lived.

Men, women, and children … all completely hairless.  Wilfred stuck out among them for very obvious reasons.

Most of the bald townspeople who glimpsed Wilfred, ran, scared of the friendly giant. All except for one brave, bald boy.

Wilfred is a good listener. And an even better friend.

Wilfred does everything and anything the boy asks him to do. He sits, stands on one foot, plays golf in a fancy golf get-up, played ukulele, did the bald boys homework (even though 3 + 4 does not equal FISH), and Wilfred reenacted the Battle of Waterloo – rocking horse and everything!

The two have so much fun that they decide to play together every single day.

I love how this book shows that the little boy can see beyond Wilfred’s exterior, and inside to the kind of friend he really is.

The bald townspeople have a sinister idea.  Since they’re bald and he has enough hair to go around, they decide that it’s in their best interest to give him a haircut.

They use his hair to make wigs for themselves.

They don’t think how Wilfred will feel once all his hair is gone.

How does Wilfred feel? Cold. So cold that he can’t bear to leave his cave, even though he really wants to play with his friend.

I love the picture posted on the wall of Wilfred’s cave – it’s of him and his friend with a heart between them.

This book really shows the power of friendship, and how if you only have one friend in the world – one true friend – that you’re rich!

Worried and upset since Wilfred didn’t show up, the little bald boy decides to go out look for him. What he finds, isn’t Wilfred, but a bunch of townspeople wearing Wilfred’s fur as hair.

The little boy decides to make Wilfred a warm pair of mittens. But he gets lost in the blizzard trying to find his new friend.

When the little boy doesn’t come back to the bald village, the townspeople decide to go look for him. What they find is the boy, safe and warm from the treacherous weather, in Wilfred’s arms.

Upon seeing this sight, the townspeople decide to give Wilfred’s hair back.

They sew it together and make a jumpsuit for their new friend and hero Wilfred.

And that’s how Wilfred, the hairy giant, ended up with a zipper. And a best friend.

I loved how sweet and charming this book was.

Children will love this book! Adults will too.

This book shows that friends come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. And that we shouldn’t judge someone by what someone looks like on the outside. We should judge someone by what’s on the inside.

Wilfred loves to smile. Reading the book will make readers smile too.

The illustrations are spectacular! They really bring make the already great writing, pop!

There’s so much to love about this book! So much!

Wonder Show

Reviews

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby

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When Portia Remini, the youngest in a gypsy family is dropped off at the doorstep of McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girls she knows she won’t be there long. She just has to wait long enough to, not only survive, but gather enough information to piece together the puzzle that is her father’s disappearance.

But surviving in Mr. McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girl isn’t easy. Surviving means not being chosen to be creepy McGreavy’s wife. It means mending uniforms. It means cleaning and cooking for an ungrateful man. It means keeping your mouth shut.

While Portia is busy surviving, she’s even busier searching the depths of Mr. McGreavy’s hidden closet searching for any clues as to where both her file and her long lost father are. She doesn’t find much, but the longer she searches, the more she believes, in her heart of hearts, that her father is traveling the country with a circus. But which circus, she isn’t sure.

So when Portia is out, running errands for Mr. McGreavy, and happens upon a card full of dates and local cities, she knows it’s fate intervening. Running away is her only option, her only way out. Soon she finds herself in the midst of Mosco’s Traveling Circus, scouring the crowds day in and day out for the one familiar face she longs for. But as days turn into nights, without her even realizing it, Portia finds the family she’s dreamed of right under her nose.

Wonder Show is author Hannah Barnaby’s debut novel. Full of surprise and wonder, this debut will leave readers in awe.

Admittedly, as I reader I went into Wonder Show for one reason, and one reason alone: the circus. As a girl who is fascinated with in the inner workings of life in a working circus, I knew this book was going to be my kind of read.

But any expectations I had were surpassed. Barnaby’s writing is stellar. Her way with words is lyrical, sentences flowing into paragraphs, paragraphs flowing into chapters flow free and seamlessly.

Beyond this Barnaby’s writing is so vivid readers will be instantly transported into Portia’s life. They’ll experience the ups and downs alongside her as she’s living at McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girls. They’ll feel the adrenaline pumping through their veins as Portia pedals hard and fast away from a life of misery and towards a hopeful future. They’ll befriend all the freaks and geeks that Portia soon considers her family.

Beyond the vividness of Wonder Show, this is a book full of unforgettable characters. Portia is a girl who readers will easily relate to. She’s feisty, headstrong, and a true heroine.

But Portia isn’t the only character that jumps off Wonder Show’s pages. All of the sideshow/circus performers Barnaby has created leap off the pages and straight into reader’s hearts. On the outside they may look different, but at their core they are people that readers will see a little bit of themselves hidden within.

From the outside Wonder Show appears to be a story about a circus and a girl living within the confines of said circus. In reality though, this is a coming of age story – the story of a girl coming into her own – finding, not only her place, but a family.

There’s a whole lot to love about Barnaby’s Wonder Show. With surprise and wonder found on every single page, Wonder Show will keep readers engaged and in awe.

Book of the Week: Ol’ Mama Squirrel

Book of the Week, Children's

Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein

mamasquirrelPublished: 2013 by Nancy Paulsen Books

Reasons why I liked this book, and chose it as Book of the Week:

This book definitely lives up to all the buzz I’ve heard about it!

I like squirrels.

I really loved how author David Ezra Stein really managed to capture the fierce-ness of the mama squirrel.

Squirrels really do bark – or in this case CHOOK! CHOOK! CHOOK! (I’ve actually heard a squirrel bark.)

A barking or chooking squirrel is NOT a happy squirrel as readers will see through this book.

Mama squirrel is brave, she’s not afraid to go head to head with creatures that five times bigger than she is.

When cats get to close, she warns them.

When dogs start sniffing around her treat, she chooks them away. Leaving the dog to believe that that mama squirrel is NUTS! (get it?! ha ha )

She even chooks and waves her tiny fist at passing airplanes and red kits that get tangled within her tree’s limbs.

I love how reader’s really do get the sense that Mama Squirrel is a very loving character and squirrel.

I love Mama Squirrel’s catch phrase:  “And THAT takes care of that!”

But one day a giant grizzly bear appears, and he doesn’t seem to be afraid of Mama’s chooking.

I love how it appears that there’s a giant brown grizzly bear roaming the city-scape. He seemed so out of place, which made the whole situation funny.

Speaking of the grizzly, I particularly love the illustrations of the giant bear scaling the tree – he’s only mere inches off the ground.

Mama tries everything from clattering in the branches, chooking at the top of her squirrel lungs, and even pelting him with stored nuts.

The grizzly is one determined bear! You got to give him credit for that.

Mama Squirrel has no choice but to whip out the big guns. She gathers her squirrel babies, and seeks the help of all the mama squirrels in the area.

Mama squirrels are everywhere: by fire escapes, under train tracks, deep within the treetops, and at every corner of the park.

Together all the mama’s join forces and chook! chook! chook! that big mean bear out of there territory!

Mama Squirrel is a real hero. Animals and people alike will easily recognize that.

I love how this book shows that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.

This book also shows the importance of working as a team.

The writing …. smart, sassy, with a hint of whimsy! Loved every minute of it.

This is a book for animal lovers of all ages.

The illustrations really capture the spirit of the story and the writing.

Author/Illustrator David Ezra Stein pays close attention to the finest details. For instance the character’s expressions are perfect. I really appreciated that aspect.

I love how all the animals are portrayed in a very humanistic aspect – making them easy to relate to and sympathize with.

This book will make kids laugh, a lot!

Story of a Girl

Reviews

Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr

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Deanna Lambert made a mistake three years ago. A mistake that has changed her life in the worst way possible. A mistake that she’s still paying for.
She knew that hooking up with Tommy, her older brother’s stoner friend, wasn’t the smartest decision she’s ever made, but she certainly didn’t think it was the worst. After all, Tommy made her feel good, pretty, special even.
But when her father finds her in the backseat of Tommy’s beat-up car, in a rather “uncomfortable” position, she realizes that hooking up with Tommy was quite possibly the worst decision she made, and will ever make in her life.
Now, haunted by a father who can nearly make eye contact and a bad reputation all Deanna wants is to disappear.  But when she takes a summer job at a local pizza place she discovers more than just the fact that Tommy works there. She discovers, who she really is.
Story of a Girl, written by author Sara Zarr, is quick read that focuses on the realities of life. A quick read, this book will satisfy some, but not all reader’s tastes.
Zarr’s writing really is the shining star. Strong and simplistic, Zarr creates an atmosphere that reader will relate to, will believe, and ultimately will sympathize with.
However, her characters are not as strong as the her plot is. Main character Deanna comes off as rigid.  A character that has surrounded herself with the memories of her past, unable to move forward.
For me, Deanna often came off a whiney sixteen year old who takes the easy way out, blaming everyone else for her mistakes. It’s her father’s fault because he completely ignores her. It’s her best friend Jason’s fault because he’s in love with Leigh, not her. It’s Tommy’s fault because he was older and should have known better.
My biggest struggled with Zarr’s Story of a Girl was the fact that it was so short. Normally, length doesn’t matter to me, so long as the plot and the characters make up for it.  In the case of Story of a Girl, everything seemed rushed. Rushed with very little resolution.
I wanted to love Story of a Girl, but somewhere it fell short for me. I liked the premise of the plot and felt that the writing was strong. But the underdeveloped characters left me underwhelmed.
Even though this wasn’t my favorite read, that doesn’t mean that this isn’t the perfect read for someone else!