Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Children's Book Review: The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary

The Mouse and the Motorcycle was one of the first books I ever did a book report on. I had loved this book as a child and it was a favorite. Sadly, it has been nearly 30 years since I last read it.

Ralph S. Mouse lives in a knothole in room 215 of a hotel. One day a little boy named Kevin and his family come to stay. Ralph becomes excited when he sees Kevin's prized toy motorcycle. Soon Ralph and Kevin become friends and Ralph zooms all over on the motorcycle.

I had forgotten a lot of this book. It was nice to go down memory lane with this book. I loved how Kevin and Ralph bonded not just over the motorcycle but their mutual understanding that growing up is hard and how they both wanted to be mature. 

I loved the illustrations and had forgotten how cute they were. This was a quick read and still holds up after all these years.

A solid 5 out of 5 stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Historic Authors I Wish I Could Meet

Broke and the Bookish
As a Doctor Who fan I naturally wish I could hop in a TARDIS and travel through space and time. But till the day that The Doctor (please be David Tennant) graces me with his presence I can only dream. Here are some historically famous authors I wish I could spend an afternoon tea with. 

1: Gotta give some love to William Shakespeare. A master at manipulating the English language is a favorite frustration of many an English Lit major. 

Favorite Quote: "Hell is empty and all the devils are here."

2. Very few can argue the genius of Mark Twain...yes he often shows up on the banned books lists but his stories live on and always will. 

Favorite Quote: "Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow. "

3. The queen of mystery is without question Agatha Christie. I went through a period in middle school where I read through many a Hercule Poirot book.

Favorite Quote: "An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets the more interested he is in her"

4. The Great Gatsby is in my top 5 all time favorite books. So of course I have to include F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

Favorite Quote: "That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're no lonely and isolate from anyone. You belong."

5. Perhaps the most famous children's book author is Dr. Seuss. Who wouldn't love to sit down and chat with him?

Favorite Quote: "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

6. I went through a Little House on the Prairie phase when I was in elementary school. I watched the tv show and read the books. So I have to put Laura Ingalls Wilder on the list.

Favorite Quote: "Home is the nicest word there is."

7. Roald Dahl is my all time favorite children's book author. Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and Chocolate Factory, The BFG....well you get the point.

Favorite Quote: "The books transported her to new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives."

8. Last but not least (not a 10 week for me) is Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are some of my all time favorite books.  And my favorite Lewis Carroll quote is my all time favorite quote period.

Favorite Quote: "One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. "Which road do I take?" she asked. "Where do you want to go?" was his response. "I don't know," Alice answered. "Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter.""

Friday, March 24, 2017

A-Z Blogging Challenge: Theme Reveal

So I have decided to take part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. I've done a lot of thinking about what I possibly want to do for this. I had considered reading and reviewing books during. I had thought about posting about indy authors. But both of those options just didn't appeal to me. Since I've been doing the 1001 Children's Books challenge I've come across some amazing book covers.

So I'm going to be doing some Children's book covers....but not just any. I'm doing the books we all grew up with and loved....Little Golden Books. Yep those board books with the golden spine. Did you know that there are over 1200 Little Golden Books that have been printed!?! So I hope I bring back some memories for some and introduce some that you've never seen before. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Picture Book Review: Pat the Bunny by Dorothy Kunhardt

Who hasn't read/felt this book before? It is a classic that every generation seems to read and enjoy.  This tactile book teaches the youngest of the young through their sense of touch.

There is not much to say about this book. My favorite part as a child and still today as an adult is touching daddy's scratchy face. I can't tell you why exactly but that's the one that makes me pause the longest.

The book is not overly complicated and for most of it is wrapped in nostalgia. So how do you rate a book like this? There is no plot...there are no morals. It is just a touch book...but it is one that touches my heart and shadowy memories of flipping through this book.

4 out of 5 stars.

Picture Book Review: Stellaluna by Janelle Cannon

I'm trying to not only catch up on my picture book reading but also check off more and more books on the 1001 children's book list. When I found out that this book had been featured on Reading Rainbow I decided to give it a shot.

Stellaluna is a small bat who becomes separated from its mother after an owl attack. She finds a nest with some baby birds and joins the family. But she never quite fits in with them. 

I thought this was a cute book. The illustrations were great and looked like the illustrator had carefully studied photographs of real life bats and birds. I also like the message that you can have a lot in common with others but still be true to yourself.

3 out of 5 stars.

Picture Book review: Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka

Ok so I've never read this book nor heard of it before. But I am familiar with the author's 3 little pigs retelling. I saw this book title on the 1001 Children's books list and was like ok I HAVE to read that.

The book contains quick silly retelling of classic children's fairy tales. Many of the stories are linked together from one retelling to the next.

Ok so right off the bat I was laughing as I saw the back cover with the hen asking, "who is this ISBN guy." Then to see the upside down dedication page I knew there was a treasure awaiting inside this book. This book did not disappoint! I found myself several times laughing out loud.

I would say that this book is truly best appreciated by adults. Not that it isn't for kids or that they wont enjoy it but the humor of it totally is something that adults will get. The art work is top notch. It is hard for me to pick my favorite drawing from the sly fox, stinky cheese man or the tortoise and the hare. All help with the whimsy and humor driven book.

I borrowed this from the library but have already decided that I MUST get a copy for myself. 

5 out of 5 stars!

Book Review: The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl

Like so many other children that came before and after me Roald Dahl was a must read writer. Roald just seemed to understand children in a way that so many others don't. While I've read a good number of his books this was my first time reading this one. So I brewed a strong cup of earl gray and dived right in.

In The Magic Finger a young girl with special magical abilities lives next door to the Gregg family. Upset over their hunting for fun her magic finger gets to work and before they know it the Gregg family has become a family of birds. 

As an adult this one is a bit harder to read. Not that it is a hard read at all. But this book is written in first person perspective of the little girl. The grammar and speech cadence therefore is written as an 8 year old little girl would write. For a child it speaks right to their level. For an adult you just want to go along and edit.

I enjoyed this silly tale that had a message layered in it about those who kill animals just for sport. I'm not a fan of hunting myself but if the hunter actually eats the meat then I'm not offended. I don't believe in killing things just to kill them. 

I hate to say that this is not one of my favorites among his books but it was still enjoyable and better than a good number of books out there today.

3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I've Read in One Sitting

hosted by brokeandbookish.com
I don't normally read books in one sitting. It is rare as I usually don't have the time or fall asleep after two or three chapters. But there are always some exceptions to the rule and when I was a kid I was a master at reading in one sitting. These are 10 books I could not put down till I had finished them.

1. This one is the most recent read that had me forgoing sleep to read. Loved this book and plan on checking out more books by this author

2. It is hard to believe but there was a time I flat out refused to read the Harry Potter books. Now, I seem to read the first one at least once a year. The first book I can devour in one day and I do it gladly. 

3. You can't visit Hogwarts without also visiting The Shire. While the Rings books are great I've always preferred this one. I've read it about 5 times and every single time I spend the whole day curled up with a good cup of tea, a couple of tasty cookies, and a soft fuzzy blanket while I read.

4. This was one of my first "adult" books that I've ever read. I was in the 5th grade...now that I'm older I'm shocked that I loved something with content so...mature. This is another one I've read several times and many of those times was in one sitting. This the cover image from the first copy I read. I'll never forget the top cover would flip back to reveal a whole picture behind...a theme throughout a number of VC Andrews book covers.

5. When I was a teen I was a HUGE...I mean HUUUUUGE Christopher Pike fan. The truth is I probably read about 90% of his books in one sitting. So to pick just one is hard. But the Final Friends series was one of my favorites. I even remember reading the three books back to back one sleepless weekend.

6. Ok R.L. is one of my all time can do no wrong favorite authors. I'm friends with her on facebook (not bragging just fangirling right now). To say that she is just as funny on there as in her books doesn't begin to express it. First time I read this book I couldn't put down. I want to marry me a Bradford.

7. This book is a MUST read. If you haven't read it put down what you are reading and immediately get yourself a copy. This is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. I made my stepdaughter and husband read it and they both agreed that it is one of the best books that deals with rape. It is a very emotional read but one that it so important. The first time I read it I was so moved I couldn't set it down.

8. I first read this shortly after it came out. Buzz was just starting to hit blogs about it. At that time I really didn't read much YA. But I was in the mood for a dystopian book so I picked it up and read it one afternoon.

9. I have only read a couple of books in this series but it was so very enjoyable. This was a quick read and I do plan on reading more books in the series.

10. One of my all time favorite books/series. I always wanted to discover a doorway to another world. I remember devouring all of the books one summer. This one in particular I remember drinking cup after cup of chocolate chip milk while awkwardly half laying on a chair as only a 9 year old seems to be able to do.

Picture Book Review: The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper

This is one of those books that I think everyone grew up reading or at least have a vague knowledge of. I have a very hazy memory of a school librarian (couldn't tell you her name) reading this to my kindergarten class. I just remember her showing us the pictures as she chanted, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can" and "I thought I could, I thought could." I remember how she sounded just like how she sounded just like the chug chug chugging of a train when she did it.

The Little Train that Could is a picture book where a train carrying toys and goodies for the children of a village breaks down before making it over the hill to the village. Many trains pass by refusing to help but finally a little blue train agrees to help.

I haven't read this or heard the whole tale since....well since that day all those years ago back in kindergarten. Sure I know the story (who doesn't!). The part that I didn't remember was the other trains who refused to help. I think we all remember the train going over the hill and chanting away but who remembers those other jerky trains who refuse to help?

The obvious moral of the story is that if you think you can and you show even just a bit of kindness you can overcome anything. A nice morale to teach and it is nice to show kids that sometimes you have to work just a tiny bit harder to get what you want.

I really loved the watercolors in this. It gives a softer edge to the pictures that works so well with smaller children.

4 out of 5 stars

Children's Book Review: I Like, I Don't Like by Anna Baccelliere

I requested and read this book last month. I'm only just now getting around to writing my review. I received the book from *Netgalley. I picked it because I thought it sounded like an interesting and different picture book.

I Like, I Don't Like tells in pictures and words about the difference between the privileged children of the world and those in 3rd world countries. Using the same object such as a shoe it shows that some children get to wear and enjoy them while others have to build the shoe.

I enjoyed the artwork in this one. It was unique and drew the eye in. However, while I like the message of the book it came off as a bit heavy handed and by the fourth I like, I don't like it was too repetitive. This is a deep topic and is a hard one for children who have grown up in the US to fully grasp. To be honest I don't know that I would want my younger child to grasp such things. Sometimes letting a child be innocent and naive to these things is better. 

I'd give this a 2 out of 5 stars.

*I received a review copy from Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion.

A Long Sad Month

Drawing courtesy of GollyGForce on Flickr
I've been away for more than a month...partly because I haven't read a single book...not one. Not even one to my son. Why? Because I was in the grips of a deep and severe depression. I have a looooong history of dealing with mental illness and depression. Goes all the way back to my early childhood. I can't pinpoint exactly when but it goes back further than when I actually knew what depression was. I know it goes to at least 4th or 3rd grade (same age as my son currently is). 

I don't apologize for being away. I don't apologize for not reading.  My days of beating myself up for something that is not within my control are long gone. I'm at an age now where even though I'm so tired and weary from it I know that I can fight my way to the surface and be as "normal" as I can get. I haven't fully broken free but I'm experiencing the relieving gulps of occasional fresh air. 

I've come a long way from my teenage years where everyday I contemplated suicide and would cut myself just to function. My days of self harm are so far behind me it seems like a life time ago...and yet I can never fully shake off the shackles of depression. I can go for months being "normal"...then bam it is like I've walked too far and I'm hauled back on my ass as I've stretched the limits of those shackles. Sometimes it is only a day or two....sometimes it is a month or two. But I'm binded to this killer that makes it hard to go on.

Since having my son and stepdaughter I've noticed the biggest changes. I live for them. I live because of them
. If it wasn't for them I probably wouldn't struggle through. I wouldn't see that there is something worth living for. That there are people worth loving and living for.  Suicidal thoughts are rare and only come with the most manic of episodes but even then I fight. Why? My children. I live for them and therefore I can now live for me.