Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kids Corner

By: Eric Carle

This week we are reading Eric Carle's ABC book, which, much like all of his books, is a fun, brightly colored easy reader. This book takes your basic ABC's and combines it with a great fold out page layout (referred to a 'fun flaps') and animals. What I really liked about this ABC book is that it did not use the stereotypical animals for every letter. Instead of "Cat" for C, we get "Crocodile". Carle even goes for some more exotic anumals, such as "Narwhal" for N and "Quetzal" for Q. If there hadn't been one of Carle's unique illustrations with Q, I'm pretty sure I would have had to go look it up! For the record a quetzal is a bird found in the tropics.
Overall, this is a great beginner ABC book that will definitly expand your childs knowledge of different animals while helping with the alphabet.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


By: Kristin Cashore


This is the debut novel from Kristin Cashore and it is a fabulous one. This book centers on a girl named Katsa who is graced with killing, which is to say that she is gifted in the art of killing. In her world, those who are graced, not matter what the skill, are given to the King to be put to his use. In Katsa case, that king is a relative who would use her skill to punish those who he dislikes. When Katsa meets Prince Po, she discovers the strength to defy the King and find her own way in the world.
It took me a chapter to get into this book, but once I did it was hard to put it down. Graceling combines a strong female main charecter, who has extraordinary talents, with a good, old-fashioned adventure story that has great hero's and villians and even a Princess who needs rescuing. Cashore has a follow-up book out (which I'm reading now) Fire, which is not a sequel, but a companion book/prequel. She also has another book in the works that will revisit some of my favorite charecters from Graceling.


If you had the power to kill with your bare hands, what would you do with it?
Graceling takes readers inside the world of Katsa, a warrior-girl in her late teens with one blue eye and one green eye. This gives her haunting beauty, but also marks her as a Graceling. Gracelings are beings with special talents—swimming, storytelling, dancing. Katsa's Grace is considered more useful: her ability to fight (and kill, if she wanted to) is unequaled in the seven kingdoms. Forced to act as a henchman for a manipulative king, Katsa channels her guilt by forming a secret council of like-minded citizens who carry out secret missions to promote justice over cruelty and abuses of power.
Combining elements of fantasy and romance, Cashore skillfully portrays the confusion, discovery, and angst that smart, strong-willed girls experience as they creep toward adulthood. Katsa wrestles with questions of freedom, truth, and knowing when to rely on a friend for help. This is no small task for an angry girl who had eschewed friendships (with the exception of one cousin that she trusts) for her more ready skills of self-reliance, hunting, and fighting. Katsa also comes to know the real power of her Grace and the nature of Graces in general: they are not always what they appear to be.
Graceling is the first book in a series, and Kristin Cashore’s first work of fiction. It sets up a vivid world with engaging characters that readers will certainly look forward to following beyond the last chapter of this book. (Ages 14 and up)

I'd recommend this book for readers who enjoyed Maria V. Snyder's Study Series or other books that focus on a strong female lead.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kids Corner

If You Give a Moose a Muffin
By: Laura Numaroff
Illustrated by: Felicia Bond

Despite the fact that we have a huge library of books, we can never resist picking up something new, especially if it is a book that we enjoyed when we were kids, so when we came across If You Give a Moose a Muffin at Kohls, we had to pick it up. The book is one in a series of If You Give a... books by Numeroff and it is by far my favorite mostly because I'm patial to the moose! This book is another quick and easy read that has a catchy and fun theme of what will happen next when you give a moose a muffin. Of course the Moose will want to stay and all sorts of hi-jinx will ensue, ending predictably with the Moose wanting another muffin, starting the whole crazy adventure over again. The formula is the same for all the books, which makes them recognizable, while the different animal as the title charecter keeps them fresh and unique. The illustrations are also wonderful and bright, which for my three month old is really the most important factor. I think these books are great for beginner readers, and are luckily still enjoyable enough for the parents who are reading with their kids.

Kohl's Cares for Kids

As I said earlier, we picked up this book at Kohl's so I wanted to give a quick shout out to the Kohl's Cares for Kids Program, which is a community outreach program that focuses on keeping kids healthy. Each season they pick books that they sell (along with accompanying plush toys) at all their stores. 100% of the profit goes to support health and education programs for kids in the community. This year Laura Numeroff's books are being sold. By picking up some of Numeroff's books at your nearest Kohl's you are not only getting great books, but supporting kids in your neighborhood. It's a quick and easy way to give something back, while getting good books for your family.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Joseph Marshall III

This post is less about any specific book and more about an author named Joseph Marshall III whose work I really enjoy. I was reminded of him when I picked up the most recent issue of Cowboys & Indians Magazine, in which Marshall wrote a nice article about sacred places in the United States. There is a great biography, and a wealth of other information, on Marshall's website (, but in short Marshall was born and raised on the Rosebud Reservation in SD and was brought up by his maternal grandparents in a traditional household. His first language is Lakota and he learned the tradition of oral storytelling which he translates to print in his numerous books. Marshall has written both fiction and non-fiction and writes mostly about Lakota history, teachings and people.
His most recent book is The Power of Four: Leadership Lessons of Crazy Horse, but the book I read most recently and which I really loved was Keep Going: The Art of Perseverence. This book is essentially an inspirational guide that includes dialogue, recollections and stories as related by Grandfather. Below is the poem "Keep Going" which opens the book, and which is refered back to throughout. This is a wonderful little book, a quick and easy read, but one that packs a punch. It is both inspirational and heartwarming, and is a book that you can refer back to when times get tough and you need a reminder that sometimes, no matter what you are going through, you just need to keep going.

A young man asked his Grandfather why life had to be so difficult sometimes. This was the old man's reply.

Grandfather says this: "In life there is sadness as well as joy, losing as well as winning, falling as well as standing, hunger as well as plenty, badness as well as goodness. I do not say this to make you despair, but to teach you reality. Life is a journey sometimes walked in the light, sometimes in the shadow."

Grandfather says this: "You did not ask to be born, but you are here. You have weakness as well as strengths. You have both because in life there is two of everything. Within you is the will to win, as well as the willingness to lose. Within you is the heart to feel compassion as well as the smallness to be arrogant. Within you is the way to face life as well as the fear to turn away from it."

Grandfather says this: "Life can give you strength. Strength can come from facing the storms of life, from knowing loss, feeling sadness and heartache, from falling into the depths of grief. You must stand up in the storm. you must face the wind and the cold and the darkness. When the Storm blows hard you must stand firm, for it is not trying to knock you down, it is really trying to teach you to be strong."

Grandfather says this: "Being strong means taking one more step towards the top of the hill, now matter how weary you may be. It means letting the tears flow through the grief. It means to keep looking for the answer, though the darkness of despair is all around you. Being strong means to cling to hope for one more heartbeat, one more sunrise. Each step, no matter how how difficult, is one more step closer to the top of the hill. To keep hope alive for one more heartbeat at a time leads to the light of the next sunrise, and the promise of a new day."

Grandfather says this: "The weakest step towards the top of the hill, toward sunrise, toward hope, is stronger than the fiercest storm."

Grandfather says this: "Keep going."
(Text from Keep Going: The Art of Perseverence; Joseph Marshall III; Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.; 2006)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kids Corner

How Big?
By: Emily Sollinger
Illustrated By: Betsy Veness

First let me say, I love this book. One guarenteed way to get my baby giggling is to spread her little arms up over her head and proclaim "Little Mo is Sooooo Big!" Little did I know I could by a book! This book is great for the little ones because it is a resiliant little book that is extremely colorful and unfolds in a different way. Once they are a little older then my 2 month old it will also help with teaching animals. Since this is a Fisher Price Precious Planet book it has the same animals that are on all their Precious Planet toys and books, so there is a continuity there which I like. My only complaint here is that the book is too short. Although the pattern of "How big is baby giraffe? Sooo Big!" is repetitive, I thought that this book was short at only 10 pages (i.e 5 different animals, and 5 pages of Sooo Big). Since this book gets even my little one laughing, it's definitely a keeper!

Our second book for this week was:

My Daddy & Me
By: Tina McNaughten

My little munchkin is definitely not ready for this book yet, but it certainly is a good one to keep in the library to come back to when she is a bit older. This book is all about all the things the little bear does with his Daddy and how he is the most brave bear so long as he is with his Dad. It is beautifully illustrated and is part of a set (with My Mommy & Me, which I have not picked up yet). I would recommend this book for anyone with a 2-3 year old who is a daddy's girl or boy. It's a cute story with great pictures, and is sure to entertain little ones, especially oones who like to go on adventures with their Daddys.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Twilight Saga

Twilight Saga
(Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn)
Stephenie Meyer

This is a series of books that I've read previously (before this little blog began), but while I was waiting for some new books to arrive from Amazon I picked up again, and just as before I couldn't seem to put them down. I actually got my new books while I was in the middle of New Moon, and I figured that I would set the series down and read my new books, but I ended up reading the whole set, even though I know how it ends already. I actually resisted this series for a very long time, I thought that it was some silly vampire love story. I even admit to thinking the series was a bit beneath me. This of course was a silly thought, I should have known better seeing as I had a similar opinion of the Harry Potter series and that one ended up being one of my favorite sets of books! Now the Twilight Saga has taken it's place next to HP in my ever expanding library.
Anyways- back to the books at hand. Unless you live under a rock, you are probably aware that the series centers around a human girl, Bella, who moves to a small town on the Olympic Peninsula and falls in love with a vampire, Edward. The series is essentially a traditional love story, with passion, loss, depression, friendship, love triangles, danger and action, only this series throws in the supernatural too, adding in Vampire and Werewolves into the mix. I won't go into too much more of the plot, becuase I imagine that once I start I could write a short novel of my own.
I will say that this series is powerful in its simplicity and originality, taking storie lines we all know, like the idea of Romeo & Juliet, and infusing them with enough of the supernatural to make it all seem fresh again. Stephenie Meyer came up with a great story that captivates not only the tween set, but also alot of adults, including myself. They are a fairly easy read, which is great, although it's hard not to get sucked in and spend hours on end in this new world.
So far Twilight has been made into a movie, and I think it suffered from lack of budget, but it still made for a fun b-list type movie, it just didn't really come anywhere close to the books. New Moon comes out in November and so far looks to be a much better movie, this could be from the additional money being funneled its way or from the new director or simply from the familiarity the cast now has with the subject matter. Eclpise is currently being filmed in Vancouver and Breaking Dawn is hopefully on the horizon, although it has a much headier content, so it will be interesting to see how the movie industry handles Vampire/human love scenes and the birth of an half-vampire child.
In short (despite that this entry is not actually short), I would recommend these books. For me they reminded me why I liked books to begin with. They can take you to a new world, and Stephenie's world is a wonderful one to visit. They reignited my love of books, my love of writing and even my love of travel as once upon a time I sat on a beach in La Push and watched the waves crash onto First Beach. Stephenie's books both took me back to my own childhood and introduced me to a great new world where anything was possible.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Kids Corner

I have a two month old, so we have embarked on the wonderful adventure of finding great new children's books as well as rediscovering some of my childhood favorites. I will comment on some of the greats that I come across, and won't shy away from pointing out any that I think fall short of the mark.

The Velveteen Rabbit
By: Margery Williams

This book is a classic and for a good reason. It illustrates the relationship of a boy and his favorite stuffed rabbit and what it means to be real. In this book a boy is given a velveteen rabbit, who he loves and takes everywhere. The other toys that the boy owns, specifically the skin horse tells the rabbit that eventually he will be real. After the boy falls ill and the Rabbit is thrown away, he discovers that not only was it possible for him to be real to the boy that loved him, but also become really real and live with the other rabbits in the forest. This is a great story that, although it doesn't catch my daughters eye as much as some of the more vibrantly illustrated books we have, is still a wonderful book that I'm sure she will grow to love.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?
By: Eric Carle

Eric Carle was one of my favorite authors when I was a child, I think my parents bought my sister and I the entire collection and revisiting this book did not dissapoint. Even my two month old enjoyed the colorful pictures. Since she has a short attention span, it is a tribute to both the writing and the illustrations that she seems to be able to sit and look and listen to this particular book repeatedly. There's no great story to this book, but through the pictures children will learn about what the different animals in the zoo look like and through the words will learn what each of these animals sound like. It's a great beginners book and is timeless in its pictures and story.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Lost Symbol

The Lost Symbol
By: Dan Brown

I was excited to pick this book up as soon as it was released. I enjoyed The Davinci Code but didn't even make it two chapters into Angels and Demons, so I was interested to see what Brown would do with Robert Langdon now that he was back in the US. Brown definitely did not dissapoint. As a US History nut, this book was right up my alley and Brown quickly lured me into the secretive and mysterious world of the freemasons, specifically as they exist in Washington D.C. One thing I enjoy about Brown is that he weaves his story and charecters into real locations that the reader can visit. In this book, Langdon is on the move to solve the mystery and save his friend and mentor Peter Solomon before the villian can both kill Solomon and single handedly bring down the Masons. One thing I thought was missing in Angels and Demons that was perfect in this book is the charecter of the Villian. Here our bad guy is truly disturbed and in the end isn't who you thought he was at all.

Overall, this was a great read, and I sincerely hope that this story is turned into a movie.

Synopsis (from
In this stunning follow-up to the global phenomenon The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown demonstrates once again why he is the world's most popular thriller writer. The Lost Symbol is a masterstroke of storytelling -- a deadly race through a real-world labyrinth of codes, secrets, and unseen truths . . . all under the watchful eye of Brown's most terrifying villain to date. Set within the hidden chambers, tunnels, and temples of Washington, D.C., The Lost Symbol accelerates through a startling landscape toward an unthinkable finale.
As the story opens, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned unexpectedly to deliver an evening lecture in the U.S. Capitol Building. Within minutes of his arrival, however, the night takes a bizarre turn. A disturbing object -- artfully encoded with five symbols -- is discovered in the Capitol Building. Langdon recognizes the object as an ancient invitation . . . one meant to usher its recipient into a long-lost world of esoteric wisdom.When Langdon's beloved mentor, Peter Solomon -- a prominent Mason and philanthropist -- is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes his only hope of saving Peter is to accept this mystical invitation and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon is instantly plunged into a clandestine world of Masonic secrets, hidden history, and never-before-seen locations -- all of which seem to be dragging him toward a single, inconceivable truth.
As the world discovered in The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons, Dan Brown's novels are brilliant tapestries of veiled histories, arcane symbols, and enigmatic codes. In this new novel, he again challenges readers with an intelligent, lightning-paced story that offers surprises at every turn. The Lost Symbol is exactly what Brown's fans have been waiting for . . . his most thrilling novel yet.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Banned Books Week

This week is Banned Books Week, an American Library Association annual event which celebrates our right to read the books we chose free from censorship. Although many equate banning books with the past it is still something that is going on across the United States and across the world. In communities everywhere people are petitioning to ban books from public and school libraries, some towns even have a formal process through which someone can challenge a book. As someone who loves books and who grew up with the priveledge of being able to read whatever interested me, I find it sad that people would actively try to keep books out of the hands of children.

Books are an amazing thing, they can take us to far off lands and teach us about ancient cultures, they can open our minds an let imagine we are kings and queens or magicians and wizards, they can teach us lessons of the past all while preparing us for the future. By reading books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn I learned about slavery and prejudice and accepting people for who they are and not going by what they look like, The Lord of the Flies tought about human nature and what might happen in the absence of law, and Harry Potter reminded us of what it was like to believe in magic, in friendship and in our own power to perservere. I love books and I can't wait to instill that same love into my children. I look forward to the day that people stop worrying about how books might damage society and realize all the things that can be learned if you keep an open mind and an open heart.
ALA: Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read
September 26-October 3

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Host

The Host
By: Stephenie Meyer

I picked this book up after reading the Twilight series and thouroughly enjoying it. I was interested to see what Stephenie Meyer would do with a different genre, and needless to say I was not dissapointed. At 619 pages, this is a lengthy read, but ultimately a worthwhile one. This book was a little harder to get into then some others, but once you buy into the concept, it really clicks along and in the end leaves you really wanting Ms. Meyer to write a follow up.

The Host revolves around the concept of life on earth post alien invasion, for both the surviving humans who are in hiding and the aliens, or "Souls" who are using human bodies as hosts. The main charecter in this story in the Wanderer, a Soul who has lived in many host bodies, from plants to bears, on many planets. The story follows the Wanderer as she is implanted in a particularly rebellious host named Melanie. While most host simply dissapear as the Soul takes over, Melanie remains and struggles with Wanderer for control until they reach a contentious relationship that eventually turns into a strange sort of friendship. Through this relationship Wanderer forges relationships with other humans and ultimately must decide where she stands in what is a war between the Souls and the remaining Humans.
This really is an excellent book that I think is ultimately about the relationships we form under the most unexpected circumstances, how those relationships are tainted by prejudice and how we can ultimately come to accept both eachother and ourselves.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Chosen by a Horse and
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian

I've just finished reading two really great books (and picked up three more, I'm one of those people). One is a memior by Susan Richards and the other is a hilarious young adult novel by Sherman Alexie. Both are quick and easy reads and neither should be missed.

Chosen by a Horse
By: Susan Richards

This is a heartbreaking and heartwarming memior about finding yourself and learning how to be open to love again. When some neglected horses need new homes, Richards answers the call. When the horse she picks won't load in the trailer, Richards takes the one who will, and so she ends up bringing Lay Me Down into her life. By telling the stories of Lay Me Down, and her other three horses, Richards lets the reader into her life and her journey to find herself again. This book is honest and humourous and it will leave you with tears in her eyes before it's over. Anyone who owns horses, or anyone who has a pet for a family member, will appreciate the relationships Richards has forged with her family, both 2 and 4 legged. This is an excellent read, that really shouldn't be passed by. Richards has also written a follow up book, Chosen Forever, which promises to relay even more stories of the lessons Lay Me Down taught.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
By: Sherman Alexie

I read this book in one night. It is an awesome, funny, laugh-out-loud book that is based on Alexie's own childhood. This story is about a young cartoonist named Junior who lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Junior wants more than a reservation life so he leaves his reservation school to attend the neighboring all white school. Alexie tells Junior's story in a poinant manner, never shying away from the hardships and prejudice that Junior faces, but always with lacing the narrative with compassion and humor. The story is aided by Junior's cartoons, which help illustrate Junior's plight and point of view. Alexie also includes a reader's guide at the end of the book, which makes this book not only a great story, but a great resource. Technically this is a young-adult book, but if you are looking for an insightful, hilarious quick read this is it.