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#CelebrateLU- September 30, 2016

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

This week I’m celebrating a miscellany of things.

Little Women

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I try to read at least one classic novel every year. It was a toss up between Emma and Little Women. The fact that we had a copy of the latter in the store made me choose it just in case I enjoyed it and would want to recommend it to our customers- like I did for The Secret Garden.

I’m somewhat suspicious of classics for some reason. As if they didn’t know how to write back then which is very foolish of me. Of course, the language sounds dated but overall the truly great ones are timeless for a reason.

Little Women seemed like a harmless book at first- sweet (if somewhat too sweet at times) vignettes of what each of the March sisters were up to. It seemed heavy handed in parceling out messages.

But as the story progressed- the first few chapters may be a bit of a chore to get through- we get fascinating glimpses into the personalities of these young girls as they grow into women dealing with everything that life has to offer. And the messages actually seem progressive in hindsight and in context of when the book was written.

I can see why Jo March is up there with the likes of Tom Sawyer, Anne Shirley, Peter Pan, and Dorothy Gale. I can’t believe I hadn’t had the pleasure of meeting her until now!

I feel like this is a perfect book to read aloud during the winter months. I’m imagining after the Thanksgiving meal has been enjoyed, families can gather around to read a chapter or two and then continue it through December.

This was a rather daunting book. There were times I was surprised I wasn’t even closed to finishing it. And when the story was focused on Amy, I just wanted to skip those passages! But you get to know the characters, and you invest in their stories, and they stay with you even after the final page!

Book Club

For work, this month’s Kids Book Club was Quinny & Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen. I was surprised I had actually read it a couple of years ago for the CYBILS. It was sort of funny that while I didn’t remember doing so everything I was reading seemed so familiar. The kids who showed up were very chatty- in the best way possible. They love books and they actually think about what they read so it wasn’t difficult to discuss the book with them. I thought the book may be too easy for them (and I think reading level wise, it was) but they were really able to identify with the characters and the situations.

Quinny & HopperQuinny & Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. This falls in the younger age of the middle reader demographic and I can see how this would be a good read aloud to the school-aged under seven crowd. I would be interested to read more of Quinny and Hopper’s adventures since the last part of the book was when it actually got interesting for me.

I liked the alternating chapters with their respective perspectives. I also ended up appreciating just how difficult it must be to write a good kids book.

View all my reviews

That was my review from a year ago. And, apparently there’s a sequel coming up in late October!

Volunteering

I reached 70 hours of volunteering so far this year. I know I’m not supposed to be chasing hours but hopefully I can reach 100.

Mariah Carey

My world always seems a little bit more festive when there’s new Mariah for me to enjoy. This week, she released a song called “Infamous” for the TV show Empire ahead of her October 5th appearance.

Blogging

Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day. This election seems particularly insane so I felt compelled to share my thoughts about the importance of voting on Kindness Conversations. And, a pleasant surprise, the cast and crew  of Will & Grace thought it equally important and they did a surprise reunion episode of sorts.

I’ve also been sharing my financial situation in a new Paycheck to Paycheck series on one of my other blogs. Debt has become such a common problem and I’m hoping we can learn from one another. Also, I wanted to show others (and myself included) that our true worth is not defined by our bank accounts.

Writing

Sunday mornings have been great for me in terms of feeling creative. It could be that because I expect it that it is. (It’s probably also because since I decided to come in later for work on Sundays that I feel I need to make it literally worth my time.) Regardless of the reason and the reasoning the end result is productivity. I’m about to complete the first rough draft of my second picture book manuscript which is exciting!

I also ended up doing a revision on my first picture book manuscript complete with name changes and everything! I can’t wait for someone who’s read the first version and get their feedback on this one.

Announcement

I’d been thinkin of taking a break from blogging for awhile and it just came to me that now seems like the best time to do so. Of course, I want to work on my writing which is my #1 priority. But I also want to change up this blog a bit. I may still do an occasional post here (and on my other blogs which I’ve mentioned above) but I’ll be back to join the wonderful #IMWAYR, #NFPB2016 and #CELEBRATELU communities sometime in December!

For book reviews, definitely follow the Facebook page and my Goodreads account.

What are you celebrating this week?

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2016 #139

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I completed my goal to read 104 nonfiction picture books for 2016 with these books! Of course, I’ll continue to read more!

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her MarkI Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Great picture book biography about someone who I didn’t know much about until I became a fan of her outspokenness- and I admit the Saturday Night Live Kate McKinnon sketches. This tells the story of a girl who grew up disagreeing- not to be a contrarian but to challenge outdated ideas. As a woman, she still speaks her mind and gives voice to those who need it.

View all my reviews

The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the NationThe Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation by Gilbert Ford
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

With the biography of the creator of the Super Soaker earlier this year, and now this, I hope this is a new wave of telling the stories behind some of the more classic toys- even if the books aren’t technically a series. What I found intriguing about this picture book and the story was how the husband and wife worked as a team to make the slinky as popular as it was/is.

View all my reviews

 

#IMWAYR- September 25, 2016

I completely forgot to post last week!

Posts and news you may have missed:

-Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge Wednesday- Click here for my reviews of these books:

And click here for my reviews of these books:

-Celebrate This Week- I celebrated Mariah Carey one week. And I celebrated graphic novels this past week.

I’m also pleased to announce I’m a Round 2 judge for the Cybils Awards!

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I’ve also put up a couple new posts on my other blog- Kindness Conversations. Click on the image below to direct you there!

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Sam and His DadSam and His Dad by Serge Bloch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This reminded me of Rene Goscinny’s Nicholas (Le Petit Nicolas) series which is a good thing. It’s a cute story between a father and son.
View all my reviews

Marta! Big & SmallMarta! Big & Small by Jen Arena
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this bilingual (English/Spanish) picture book about a girl who imagines herself to be different kinds of animals. Great for learning opposites. A glossary is included in the back. We had the illustrator Angela Dominguez at the bookstore to read this which was cool!
View all my reviews

Touch the Brightest StarTouch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Somehow this skipped my radar. A cute interactive book to explore night-time wonders. Includes some fun facts in the back of the book about some of the things mentioned in the book. Tap the Magic Tree is available now in board book and comes out in 2017.
View all my reviews

Voyage to the Bunny Planet (Voyage to the Bunny Planet, #1-3 Plus Intro)Voyage to the Bunny Planet by Rosemary Wells
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
We had Rosemary Wells at the bookstore the other week. This was lots of people’s favorite work of hers. I can see why. Absolutely charming. This is actually a collection of three stories about 3 kids who are whisked off to the Bunny Planet after their bad days. Add this to any kids library!
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The Lion InsideThe Lion Inside by Rachel Bright
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A cute story which I think will appeal to very young readers about finding that roar inside oneself.
View all my reviews

Max at NightMax at Night by Ed Vere
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A sweet story about a kitten wanting to say good bye to the moon. I will definitely read more books in this new picture book series.
View all my reviews

The Water PrincessThe Water Princess by Susan Verde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Based on Georgie Badiel’s childhood, this story introduces young readers to a situation they may take for granted- the lack of clean water for everyone. Peter H. Reynold’s playful illustrations has a great appeal as well. I hope this book will not only be enjoyed but inspire thought and action!
View all my reviews

Leave Me AloneLeave Me Alone by Vera Brosgol
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I thought this would be more like Strega Nona or a traditional village grandmother tale but I was pleasantly surprised to find it’s actually quite trippy taking readers into unpredictable places.
View all my reviews

Otis and The KittensOtis and The Kittens by Loren Long
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What I love about the Otis series is that he represents the good American image. He’s loyal and dependable and will do what’s right even if it’s not what’s easy. This is a nice tribute to firefighters as well.
View all my reviews

Penguin ProblemsPenguin Problems by Jory John
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Jory John introduces a rather moody penguin who has no qualms about sharing all his grievances. Will a chance encounter change his mind about his outlook in life? Readers will enjoy discovering all his problems and will maybe get them to reconsider their situation whenever they’re feeling a bit complainy! Lane Smith’s illustrations are great.
View all my reviews

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two VolcanoesThe Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m a fan of Duncan and this was a great retelling of a folk tale. Not just a good story, this would be a great example to use in classrooms teaching origin or cultural stories. Includes a glossary and an author’s note.
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What Is a Child?What Is a Child? by Beatrice Alemagna
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A celebration of childhood. Maybe we can all find ways to reclaim a bit of it for ourselves?
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CityblockCityblock by Christopher Franceschelli
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I love the art in this lift-the-flap series. This time around, readers are taken for a ride through various forms of transportation exploring the different venues and attractions of a city. Pay attention to the black cat hidden on most of the pages!
View all my reviews

The Peace BookThe Peace Book by Todd Parr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Todd Parr is great in getting messages out to kids that are fun and understandable. Peace is simple acts that everyone can do and hopefully we will all do our part to make peace a daily part of our everyday lives.
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The Book You're Not Supposed to Have (Timmy Failure, #5)The Book You’re Not Supposed to Have by Stephan Pastis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
An enjoyable installment in the series. But if I haven’t said it before, I hope there’s a final book soon in this series which I really enjoyed the first few books.
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The Poet's DogThe Poet’s Dog by Patricia MacLachlan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I’m not an animal lover. But I can see people who love dogs and/or poetry will enjoy this quick read about a brother and sister who get saved by a dog in a snow storm. It felt like a rather long Hallmark card to me. But some people love that.

One of the reasons I picked up this book was because it was a slim volume. So at least it had that going for it.
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Snow White: A Graphic NovelSnow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I was so impressed by this retelling of Snow White. It’s very artsy and noir-ish. Evocative illustrations and sparse text. Set in the Roaring Twenties and Depression eras. I would say fans already familiar with the awesomeness of graphic novels will appreciate this more than casual readers. Of course, fairy tale fans would want to add this to their collections as well.
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Outfoxed: A FableOutfoxed: A Fable by Dylan Meconis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Originally published as a digital comic, this was surprisingly insightful and fun. A laundress meets a fox who not only talks but can shift forms and have things materialize out of nothing. Find a copy of this to experience it for yourself.

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Spirit of Service: Your Daily Stimulus for Making a DifferenceSpirit of Service: Your Daily Stimulus for Making a Difference by HarperOne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is a great inspiring read for people who want to make a difference in the world. Each day of the week focuses on a different category- like money, energy, companion, and passage to name a few- and invites readers to mull them over and perhaps act upon what they’ve read. It took me awhile to get through this because I was constantly having ideas! A worthwhile read.
View all my reviews

GhostsGhosts by Raina Telgemeier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Any book by Raina Telgemeier is bound to fly off the shelves regardless of what I think of it. Luckily, I enjoyed this graphic novel. It’s prefect for the fall season because it leads up to the Day of the Dead celebration which lots of people just think of as another Halloween. A tender look into the fragile nature of life as well as a sweet insight to the strength of sisterhood.
View all my reviews

Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot, #17)Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Classic Christie! A large cast of memorable characters. A murder most baffling. And Hercule Poirot with his little grey cells to work things out only he can.

[Agatha Christie Reading Challenge]
[Off the Shelf Reading Challenge]

View all my reviews

Review Notes
***= Recommended
****= Highly Recommended
*****= Favorite

You can view all the books I’ve read at my Goodreads page.

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Thanks also to Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers for their focus on Children’s Literature of this meme!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children's Book Writer Facebook page!

Please like The Chronicles Of A Children’s Book Writer Facebook page!

If you’re on Twitter, don’t forget to use the hashtag #IMWAYR when sharing your link!

Have a great reading week!

 

#CelebrateLU- September 23, 2016

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

This week I’m celebrating graphic novels.

It’s been incredible how much my view on graphic novels have changed over the years. It’s not that I was totally averse to them when I was younger. I’ve been known to peruse comic shops as a kid and looking at the covers but not necessarily reading and of them. I knew certain story lines from what I would hear other people talk about but to actually read them seemed like a waste of time.

The first graphic novel that changed my mind about what they could be was Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese. The storytelling was as crucial as the visual style. There was depth to it that I didn’t expect. And I learned just like with novels or picture books, you have to read a variety of them to separate the good from the bad.

Graphic novels have become one of my go to recommendations as a bookseller now. A part of me definitely wants to change people’s (especially the adults’)perceptions of them because they are missing out on some rather great stories. And while some may argue that they’re too quick of a read, the reread factor is high and actually helps emergent readers familiar themselves with the text giving them confidence to read more and branch out to other works.

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As I find myself becoming more of an advocate for graphic novels, I am pleased to announced that I was chosen to be a Round 2 judge for the Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards (CYBILS) Graphic Novels category. I had a great time a few years ago being a Round 1 judge for Middle Grade Fiction that I wanted to be part of CYBILS again!

What are you celebrating this week?

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2016 #138

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Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote HistoryFrederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History by Walter Dean Myers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This doesn’t come out until 2017 but I feel like this will one of those talked-about books next year. With text by the late Walter Dean Myers about the remarkable life of Frederick Douglas and to pair it with Floyd Cooper’s beautiful illustrations, how can it not be?

View all my reviews
 
Esquivel!  Space-Age Sound ArtistEsquivel!  Space-Age Sound Artist by Susan Wood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I‘m a big fan of Duncan Tonatiuh’s art. I think I spent more time admiring his collages than the actual story of this musician I hadn’t heard of. (Maybe if I listen to snippets of his music, I will appreciate this book more.) I thought this would be like The Cosmobiography of Sun Ra by Chris Raschka.

View all my reviews
 
Tiny Creatures: The World of MicrobesTiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 I’ve been curious about this book for awhile. It was in interesting look into microbes- what they are and what they do. The illustrations are gorgeous. (I always thought Nicola Davies did the art but this book was illustrated by Emily Sutton.

View all my reviews

 

#CelebrateLU- September 16, 2016

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

Thanks to Ruth Ayers of Discover. Play. Build. for creating this meme!

This week I’m celebrating Mariah Carey.

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2016 marks 20 years of me being a Mariah Carey fan. It was the summer of 1996 around the time “Always Be My Baby” started playing on the radio. I had the whole house to myself and I saw we had the Daydream album so I unwrapped it and put the CD on and it was a “sweet, sweet fantasy” ever since.

Funny thing was I wasn’t even the first Mariah Carey fan in the family. I remember “Hero” (from the album Music Box) being played and I didn’t like it back then. I also didn’t care for “Fantasy” because I kept hearing it everywhere. Then, “One Sweet Day” came on and I remember recording it on a cassette tape from the radio and writing down the lyrics by playing the tape, pausing it, and playing it again and rewinding it if necessary.

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Butterfly was the first album I bought of hers. Then I started collecting all her albums and singles. I even started a Collector’s Club where people from all over the world can trade or buy and sell their items with other fans.

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One of the only times I was ever really bad in life was when I snuck back into the movie theater to watch Glitter. I paid for a ticket to watch it the first time but then hid in the bathroom until the next showing.

When I lived in the Philippines, people would always tell me if Mariah was on TV so I wouldn’t miss her. I remember one time, someone called from another city at 10 at night just to let me know there was a Mariah Carey concert on TV. I thought there was an emergency because who calls that late in the evening! And, I may have been late to school one morning because MTV had been playing a marathon of her music videos. Luckily I came up with an excuse to cover it up!

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I’ve gotten to see her in concert 5 times. The first time (for her Charmbracelet album) was definitely the best because everything was new and exciting. The most recent time (for her #1 to Infinity residency) was last year and there was a situation. When I posted Mariah’s concert was cancelled, I started getting texts of condolences. It was kind of funny because my family and friends knew I was looking forward to it.

Even with all these stories I’ve just shared, I wouldn’t really call myself obsessive or anything. Compared to other fans, I’m very tame. But, throughout the years, I have become a fan not only of her music but also of just her as a human being. Despite all her success, she doesn’t really get the respect she deserves for all her contribution the music industry. People tend to get hung up on her diva persona and skimpy wardrobe choices. They expect her to still be in top vocal form even after 26 years in the business. It’s crazy and unfair and really an interesting case study of how media treats celebrities.

To end things, I’m going back to the music. When I’m having a bad day or need cheering up, her songs are my therapy. Her voice carries me. Her lyrics talk of love, loss, faith, and identity. Her remixes are fun and brilliant. I love even the background vocals which are almost like their own separate songs. It’s no surprise that the soundtrack of my life is basically just one very long Mariah Carey album!

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What’s your favorite Mariah Carey album or song?

Which singer has made an impact in your life?

What are you celebrating this week?

 

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge #NFPB2016 #137

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The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the GameThe William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game by Nancy Churnin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not much of a sports fan so anything baseball is new to me. I was completely ignorant that a deaf person could play the game and as well as William Hoy. I’m glad to have read this picture book to inform me and others that being deaf doesn’t preclude that person from doing everyday things. I hope he gets inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame!

And I love discovering Filipino writers and illustrators. Jez Tuya grew up in the Philippines and now living in New Zealand!

View all my reviews

Saved by the Boats: The Heroic Sea Evacuation of September 11Saved by the Boats: The Heroic Sea Evacuation of September 11 by Julie Gassman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

September 11 is forever etched on my mind as a day of tragedy and horror. Most of us can remember what we were doing that day when we saw and heard about the attacks. How fear and sadness pervaded our lives. But we also saw a coming together like never before that gave us hope. This picture book focuses on a not so well known aspect of that day- the sea evacuations to ferry the victims to safer lands. It’s a story I’m glad is being told. I didn’t know about it. I’ll definitely check out the documentary Boatlift.

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One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the GambiaOne Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia by Miranda Paul
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Truly inspiring. I love how solutions are seen rather than problems. Naturally the problems have to be addressed first but some people don’t do anything about them. And we take for granted how one small act can accumulate into something greater. The result can be disastrous like the trash that threatened the livelihood of an entire village. Or it can result in positive changes from a clever way to recycle the plastic bags strewn about to providing a source of income to rebuild and replace the damages to sharing the knowledge with others empowering them that change is possible and within their grasps and finally to creating a world that is much cleaner and better off than what it was.

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14 Cows for America14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This brought tears to my eyes. It is such a beautiful story of compassion. After hearing the horrific events of 9-11 from one of their fellow tribes people, the Maasai make a selfless gesture to reach out to people they don’t know far from where they are. It is an act that reminds us love is powerful enough to transcend space and differences in languages or culture. It is a powerful reminder that we are all the same therefore we should all look out for one another.

View all my reviews