Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Ten Little Night Stars by Deb Gruelle (published by Zondervan)

My thoughts:  Ten Little Night Stars is designed for the younger child, and the softly padded cover with foil gold stars and sturdy board pages it is sure to be a pleaser. The pictures are cute, colorful, and certainly eye-catching. Each page flip shows a different "critter" and is in a different bedroom. So this isn't about a specific child getting put to bed, but an assortment of little ones in the process of a bedtime routine.

This isn't a sleepy-time read since the little critters are a bit active (i.e., jumping into bed, then in a chair, then out of bed for prayers, then back in bed - but that does mirror the lively lives of toddlers all their waking hours). The flow of getting prepared for bed, slowing down, praying, and then getting in bed is a bit mixed up.

The illustrations are cute and colorful and are perhaps digitally crafted. I do miss the pen or brush to page art creations from an artist's hand. But digital is good, too. One will find the delightful art of Gabi Murphy on a plethora of children's books. Always lovely.

The text is a rhyme of sorts. Little kiddies are not going to really notice when the cadence is off or that the rhyme is stilted, but it never hurts to have a good lively cadence with expected line lengths in the structure. Even though this is a publication from Christian publisher, ZonderKidz, there is little to Christianize it except they say their prayers.

This is an adorably cute little book and will be enjoyed by little ones. The counting aspect is always a winner and little ones love to show off that they know which number comes next in the count.

About the book: Ten Little Night Stars is a sweet bedtime counting book perfect for the youngest readers. One by one the stars come out in the night sky as cute and cuddly animals go through their bedtime routines. This board book will encourage children to turn the page with interactive and engaging rhyme, and will take them through bath time, story time, and sleep. Written by Deb Gruelle, great-great-grand-niece of Johnny Gruelle, the creator of Raggedy Ann and Andy, Ten Little Night Stars is the perfect bedtime story for parents and children alike.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the BookLook blogger review program on behalf of ZonderKidz and the author to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Phoebe's Light by Suzanne Woods Fisher Nantucket Legacy #1 [Review & giveaway]

My thoughts: The author ventures into the stories of the Quaker movement and from the Amish stories for which she is so well known and writing with such excellence. In Phoebe's Light we get a taste of what life was like in the 1660s and 1770s in the Massachusetts area and specifically on the island of Nantucket which lies offshore of Massachusetts.

While the Quakers had come to America's shores from Brittany to escape persecution and the freedom to seek faith as they believed, they soon found that persecution was in the newly formed colony as well.

Life revolved around the boats and what could be gleaned from the ocean leaving the islanders dependent on the shipping industry to provide their support. Whaling soon became their means of livelihood but such a dangerous occupation it was.

This story follows two interwoven timelines. Reading from a journal written by a Quaker woman in the 1660s, Phoebe as a descendent of this woman, comes to understand much of her own life.

The author's careful research and treatment of historical information is excellent. Characters are well fleshed out and you can really get into what they are thinking and feeling as you read. The descriptions of the sea voyages and life aboard a whaling ship captivate. I believe that Phoebe's light is that inner light that the Quakers believe is in man and comes from God. While our faith might differ from that which these Quakers believed, the book is good reading and a good story for Christians to read.

About the book: Phoebe Starbuck has always adjusted her sails and rudder to the whims of her father. Now, for the first time, she's doing what she wants to do: marrying Captain Phineas Foulger and sailing far away from Nantucket. As she leaves on her grand adventure, her father gives her two gifts, both of which Phoebe sees little need for. The first is an old sheepskin journal from Great Mary, her highly revered great-grandmother. The other is a "minder" on the whaling ship in the form of cooper Matthew Mitchell, a man whom she loathes.

Soon Phoebe discovers that life at sea is no easier than life on land. Lonely, seasick, and disillusioned, she turns the pages of Great Mary's journal and finds herself drawn into the life of this noble woman. To Phoebe's shock, her great-grandmother has left a secret behind that carries repercussions for everyone aboard the ship, especially her husband the captain and her shadow the cooper. This story within a story catapults Phoebe into seeing her life in an entirely new way--just in time.

In this brand-new series, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher brings her signature twists and turns to bear on a fascinating new faith community: the Quakers of colonial-era Nantucket Island.
Begins February 26
Ends March 19 at 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary copy by Revell Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and are freely given. Winner's copy will be provided by the author and shipped by author or publisher to winner.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Who says pumpkin pie is just for the holidays?

Who says pumpkin pie is just for Thanksgiving or Christmas?

Certainly not Vera!
I decided it was time to bake a pie and I had a can of pumpkin on hand. Checked the pantry and pumpkin pie spice - all gone. All Spice - all gone. Nutmeg - all gone. What's a girl to do?

1 can pumpkin
1 1/2 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1  1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Pillsbury ready made pie crust

Mix it all up and pour in pie crust (you've got to put it in a pie pan first - just wanted to be sure you knew that). My 60 year old Pyrex pie dish is about a 9" dish. But this was a bit too much filling. So I just filled it as full as it looks like it will go and baked it. 425 F. for 15 minutes and then turn down to 350 F.  for 45 minutes.

(NOTE: This is a bit different in color from traditional pumpkin pie and that is because of the change in spices. This just proves that you can change up the spices you use in the pie.)

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Get On Your Bike by Joukje Akveld and illustrated by Philip Hopman [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9780802854896
My thoughts: This delightful book falls in the category of "big picture book" and it presents the opportunity to learn lessons in conflict with others, the joy of getting out-and-about in the wonderful outdoors, the joy of cycling, and attention to the plethora of minute detail in the illustrations.

Bobby cycles away his frustrations at William. He probably has no actual destination in mind, he just gets on his bike and goes. But direction is there for him. He goes with the green lights for right or left turns. He stops at the red light and then proceeds on green light, to ride the ferry across the water and continue his cycling.

Eventually, his head is cleared of his anger and frustration and he speedily heads back home where he finds his friend William has also cleared his head of the argument. 

The cover of the book is an enchanting array of various types of bikes and those who ride them. This is the "animals have all the fun" type of book and I dare say I didn't see a human amongst the images. A lot of fun critters engaged in illustrations that portray charming European structures. 

I think this would be a really good book to help you teach a child that sometimes the best way out of a disagreement is to leave and clear one's head. Sometimes you just need to Get On Your Bike. And when you sit down with that little one and read this book to him or her, be sure you take the time to find all the little tiny details in the art - the itty-bitty frog, the lighthouse in the window, the peacock driving a car, the poultry truck, etc. Fun!

About the book: Bobby and William aren’t quite sure how the argument started, but it escalates until William gets so frustrated he tells Bobby to leave. Bobby does just that, hopping on his bike and furiously riding away. As he travels through the city and into the country­side, though, he begins to calm down. Maybe William had a point after all? Bobby bikes back into town, hoping William will for-give him, and discovers that he’s not the only one who wants to apologize.

With mesmerizing illustrations reminiscent of Richard Scarry, this vibrant book offers a sensitive, realistic portrayal of a conflict …and a compromise.

Author and illustrator:
Joukje Akveld is a freelance journalist living in the Netherlands. When she's not writing her own books, she writes about children's books and theatre for newspapers and magazines. In 2016 she won the Silver Slate Pencil Award for A Monkey in the Bathroom: A Zoo in Wartime (Hoogland & Van Klaveren). Visit her website at www.joukjeakveld.com.

Philip Hopman studied at the Rietveld Academy and has illustrated more than 250 books, including A Dog Like Sam, Mikis and the Donkey, and Soldier Bear (all Eerdmans). He lives in the Netherlands.
Eerdmans' is graciously providing 1 copy for 1 winner.
Begins February 24
Ends March 17 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
a Rafflecopter giveaway
DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Eerdmans' Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Friday, February 23, 2018

THE STAR movie is now is digital format on DVD & BLU-RAY and includes added bonuses #TheStarMovie

When the animated movie "The Star" released there was much talk about how good it was. Many found it to be a treasure. Now it is available for home use in digital format on DVD & BLU-RAY. There are lots of bonus additions on the digital versions that were not available in the movie. What is "The Star"?

About "The Star" - A small but brave donkey named Bo yearns for a life beyond his daily grind at the village mill. One day he finds the courage to break free and teams up with Ruth the loveable sheep and Dave the hilarious dove with lofty aspirations. Along with three wisecracking camels and some eccentric stable animals, Bo and his new friends follow the Star on the adventure of their dreams, filled with lots of laughter - and become part of the greatest story ever told.

The Tale of Faith and Friendship Includes Six Sing-Along Videos & a Dance Along, “How-to” Crafts Video and Much More

 Bonus Materials Include: 

  • Star-aoke: Sing-Along with Bo & Friends: In this all new song, sing along with your favorite characters including Bo, Dave, Ruth and the unforgettable camels 
  • "Life Is Good" Dance-Along: Shake your tail feathers and move your hooves in this fun dance along
  • Lyric Sing-Along Videos: Enjoy the eclectic and inspiring music of THE STAR with these colorful lyric videos that allow you to sing along with your favorite recording artists
    • “The Star” by Mariah Carey
    • “Can You See” by Fifth Harmony
    • “Children Go Where I Send You” by Kelsea Ballerini
    • “We Three Kings” by Kirk Franklin
    • “Life Is Good” by A Great Big World
  • Sweet and Sparkly Stars: Create star-themed cookies to be enjoyed year round 
  • Star Mason Jar Votives: Let the light of THE STAR shine with this simple yet stunning craft
  • Faith All Year Round with DeVon Franklin: A children’s sermon discussing the themes of the film and how to keep the spirit of this inspiring story alive in us every day
  • An All-Star Cast: Meet the stars of the film and explore the exciting voice cast who bring these amazing characters to life

The Who and What.....

  • EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - DeVon Franklin, Brian Henson, Lisa Henson
  • SCREENPLAY - Carlos Kotkin
  • VOICE: Aidy Bryant, Keegan-Michael Key, Steven Yeun, Aidy Bryant, Keegan-Michael Key, Steven Yeun, Kelly Clarkson, Gabriel Iglesias, Gina Rodriguez, Zachary Levi, Tyler Perry, Tracy Morgan, Kristin Chenoweth, Oprah Winfrey, Ving Rhames, Christopher Plummer, Kris Kristofferson, Patricia Heaton, Mariah Carey, Anthony Anderson
  • Golden Globe® Nominated for Best Original Song by Mariah Carey & Marc Shaiman
Website for more information - http://sites.sonypictures. com/thestar

LIVE GUIDED BIBLE STUDY w/ DEVON FRANKLIN is “interactive and super engaging”.

Here is the Facebook link below for you to check it out: CLICK HERE
DISCLOSURE: I have not seen the movie or the DVD. I have been encouraged to share this information based on my observed responses to the movie. I am suppose to receive either a DVD or audio of the product from the publicist on behalf of Sony Pictures and their advertising agencies to help share this information. I received no monetary compensation to participate in the promotion.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Black Bird Yellow Sun by Steve Light from Candlewick Press [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

ISBN: 9780763690670
On sale March 6, 2018
Candlewick Press
My thoughts: At first glance, one might find this little board book stark and unappealing and think that something more detailed and riddled with true-to-life illustrations more fitting for a young child. However, after getting into the pages of the book, the simple theme of a black bird (yes, a real black bird and drawn with simple lines in stark black) traipsing through the green grass, on the purple grapes, and through the orange leaves I changed my mind. In Black Bird Yellow Bird the young child has a somewhat innovative way to learn his or her colors. The colors are strong - especially the stark black, and there is a lot of the specified color on the page.

I love the little orange worm that creeps along on each and every page. Little ones will love finding the little critter.

A different sort of book, but truly good and worth considering for home or library.

About the book: From the creator of Have You Seen My Dragon? comes an exploration of color that truly soars

As a solitary black bird wings its way through the day, little ones are treated to a magnificent flight from one vibrant color to another. Inimitable illustrator Steve Light showcases a new style in this board book for the youngest readers. Children can journey with the graceful black bird and its tiny worm friend past orange leaves, through green grass, onto gray rocks, under pink flowers, and more before coming to rest beneath a brilliant blue moon.
GIVEAWAY ~ 2 Winners
Begins February 22
Ends March 14 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA and CANADA addresses.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and are freely given. Check out the Candlewick catalogs.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I’m a Duck! by Eve Bunting & illustrated by Will Hillenbrand [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

ISBN: 9780763680329
Hardcover $15.99
Ages 3-7 32 pages
Candlewick Press
My thoughts: Oh this book brings back so many memories of my own little "duckies" when I would take them to the university for swimming lessons. Fear! The unknown! The cold of being wet! The "pool noises" (a large indoor pool with lots of kiddies)! So much to overcome. So much need to build their individual confidence level so they could succeed.

I'm a Duck is such a joy to read. First of all my heart was drawn to the beautifully soft watercolors that took me into the world of this little fluffy duck who has such an anxious expression. Then the story is told in delightful rhyme that really "works." Sadly some children's rhyming books don't have good cadence and rhyme. This one does!

Now about this little ducky. First of all he rolls out of the nest and plops into the pond when he is only an egg. Well, mama duck rescues him but henceforth and seemingly forevermore he is imprinted with this disastrous beginning. (Well, it is a make-believe story, isn't it?)

Then he goes through the various attempts to get his ducky-swim-legs because, after all, he is a duck! But this is hard. He is fearful. He has no confidence that he won't sink underneath the water. What's a duck to do?

The story does end well with him swimming in line with his siblings and it teaches the little readers that they, too, can overcome their fears and they, too, can be confident that they can grow up to be what they were intended to be.

A well-done delightful story that I highly recommend.

About the book: One day, an egg rolled out of a nest and right into a deep pond. Now that egg is a little duck, and the water is still very scary. Jumping into the pond at all seems impossible, never mind swimming in a line with all his brothers. “You’re a duck, and ducks don’t sink,” Big Frog points out. Practicing in a puddle helps a little, while backrubs and snacks from his mother help a little more. Big Frog offers to hold his friend’s wing and dive in together, but our little duck knows that some challenges need to be faced alone. Even when they are very scary!

I cannot swim, and that is bad.
A landlocked duck is very sad.

Sometimes it takes a lot to get your webbed feet wet! An adorable picture book makes a splash with a satisfying story about conquering your fears.
GIVEAWAY ~ 2 Winners
Begins February 21
Ends March 13 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA & CANADA addresses.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Candlewick Press to facilitate this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and are freely given.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Keturah: The Sugar Baron's Daughters #1 by Lisa T. Bergren Historical Fiction [Giveaway]

About the book: In 1772 England, Lady Keturah Banning Tomlinson and her sisters find themselves the heiresses of their father's estates and know they have one option: Go to the West Indies to save what is left of their heritage.

Although it flies against all the conventions, they're determined to make their own way in the world. But once they arrive in the Caribbean, conventions are the least of their concerns. On the infamous island of Nevis, the sisters discover the legacy of the legendary sugar barons has vastly declined---and that's just the start of what their eyes are opened to in this harsh and unfamiliar world.

Keturah never intends to put herself at the mercy of a man again, but every man on the island seems to be trying to win her hand and, with it, the ownership of her plantation. She could desperately use an ally, but even an unexpected reunion with a childhood friend leaves her questioning his motives.

To keep her family together and save the plantation that is her last chance at providing for them, can Keturah ever surrender her stubbornness and guarded heart to God and find the healing and love awaiting her?

Watch for Chat With Vera's review on March 1 & continued Giveaway

Begins February 20
Ends March 12 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also enter here.....

Enter to win a copy of Keturah. Five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced March 13 on the Litfuse blog!

More reviewes and information - click here

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from Litfuse Publicity Group on behalf of Bethany House Publishers and the author to facilitate a review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Somebunny Loves Me by Parry Gripp (National Geographic Kids ) [Review & Giveaway]

ISBN: 9781426329753
Ages 4-8
Hardcover $16.99
My thoughts: In keeping with the quality of National Geographic books for all ages, this new kid's book about a variety of animals that kids have as pets is absolutely charming. The photographs are great and the Parry Gripp rhymes just rollick along with a special charm of their own as they teach care and love of pets.

No matter the pet - horse, dog, kitty, lizard, fish, bunny - there is a rhyme and the child is taught how to lovingly care for the pet he or she has. Feeding, petting, visiting vet, playing, poking, etc. are mentioned as things to do or not to do with or to your pet.

This is not just a book of cute animal pictures, it is a compilation of great pictures, terrific rhymes with a bouncy rhythm, and a great source of gentle education about the care and keeping of pets. I highly recommend.

About the book: This adorable new title from Emmy Award-winning singer-songwriter (and animal lover) Parry Gripp shows us the magical world of furry friendship and teaches young readers to be kind to animals of all shapes and sizes.

Through adorable, uplifting photographs, and sweet, silly text, kids will learn not only how to interact with animals, but also just what makes you a good friend for your fuzzy, feathered, or scaly new bud. This fun book will inspire young animal lovers to understand their perfect new pal, giving kids lessons on being gentle with pets, making sure to care and love them, how to be patient, and more. Lyrical text illustrates the fun and companionship that dogs, cats, lizards, fish, rabbits, and all sorts of animal friends can offer. Parents and families considering or who've just gotten a new pet will have fun sharing and learning all about animals together. Plus, turn each page and sing along with Parry with an original song and music video!

NOTE: I love the video and traditionally I don't care for the rapid-fire "rap-style" music that accompanies it. But this is really cute and I love the rhymes and lessons.

Begins February 16
Ends March 10 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy to facilitaate this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own and are freely given. Winner's copy is provided and shipped directly to the winner by the publisher or publicist.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Children can learn languages: Bonjour! Let's Learn French & ¡hola! Let's Learn Spanish by Judy Martialay [Book Spotlight & Giveaway]

My thoughts: I did not have the opportunity to learn a foreign language and regret not having done so. My children had the opportunity and I am happy they did. They did not, though, have "immersion language studies" which really enhances and accelerates the process.

These two books have been written by retired languages teacher Judy Martialay so that parents who are not knowledgable of foreign languages can help their child in this pursuit. The books have a little story and culturally appropriate activities that make learning a fun experience. Also, a downloadable audio book so correct pronunciation can be learned.

If your young children are already learning French or Spanish, these bilingual books will be welcome additions. If you are a homeschooling family and entertaining breaking into the foreign language field, these two books will help explore. If you are a parent of a young child and want to learn along with your child, these print and audio books should be a welcome addition.

Both books take the reader to another country and they encounter a child and read about an adventure. This is an opportunity for a fun read that can be playful, educational, and can even have a bit of a party atmosphere.

I think they would be worthy of your attention. And you can also vie for a copy in the giveaway I am hosting with the winner's copies being sent by the author.

Bonjour! Let's Learn French: Visit New Places and Make New Friends

About the book: Buckle your seatbelts! Your child 6-10 is about to take off on a trip of adventure, discovery and learning with Bonjour! Let's Learn French. Your child-and you-will be speaking French in no time! Easy to use, whether or not you know French. Free downloadable audio version at polyglotkidz.com. Audio includes tips on French pronunciation. Download before using book.

Your child's guide is Pete the Pilot. Kids take a pretend flight to France, meet Louis l'escargot, France's favorite snail, follow his adventures, and learn French effortlessly.
Story told in English introduces words and expressions in French.

Also featuring:

  • Fun activities to use French including treasure hunt and daily expressions
  • Skit
  • Culture Corner
  • Song
  • Directions for adding an impressionist touch for your child's drawings and paintings

¡hola! Let's Learn Spanish: Visit New Places and Make New Friends

ISBN-13: 978-0991132409
Softcover $16.97
About the book: Easy and Fun Introduction to Spanish for your child. Fasten your seatbelts! Your child 6-10 is about to take a trip of adventure, fun and learning. Your child-and you-will be speaking Spanish in no time! Easy to use, whether or not you know Spanish.
Free downloadable audio version at polyglotkidz.com. Download before using book.

Your child's guide is Pete the Pilot. Kids take a pretend flight to Mexico. There, they meet Panchito, Mexico's #1 Jumping Bean, meet his friends, follow his adventure, and learn Spanish effortlessly.

Also featuring:

  • fun activities to use Spanish
  • Skit
  • Culture Corner
  • Catchy song
  • Directions for making a traditional Mexican mask

Find it on Amazon - click here

About the author: I retired from teaching foreign /world languages, and have devoted many years to the promotion of foreign language study as Co-Chair of the Public Advocacy Committee of the New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers (NYSAFLT).
I wrote the books ¡HOLA! Let's Learn Languages and Bonjour! Let's Learn French because I want every child to have the opportunity to learn a world language at an early age. This is the best time to start learning a language. Children's brains are wired for learning languages. They have a better chance for acquiring native pronunciation, and they have ample time to become truly proficient in the language.
I often hear the comment from teachers of young children:" Children absorb languages like sponges."
My granddaughter hears Spanish every day; she has an au pair girl who speaks to her in Spanish. She understands everything.
I want children and their parents to enjoy the experience of learning languages. It is an adventure into the soul of another world.
If your child continues study of a language, he or she will have a skill that will provide life-long benefits.
2 Winners - Choice of 1 language book
Begins February 16
Ends March 9 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA addresses only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a copy of each book to facilitate this book spotlight and giveaway. Any opinions expressed by me are my own, alone. I was not compensated for this promotional article. Winners' copies are provided by author to winner.

Friday, February 9, 2018

A Place at Our Table by Amy Clipston

My thoughts: I have not previously read a book by Amy Clipston but I have read a couple of her novellas included in collections. I found her writing about the Amish to be a portrayal of a community of people concerned with each others' needs within their families and those within the community. She uses a heavy sprinkling of words and phrases specific to the Amish's use of a form of German usually called Pennsylvania Dutch.

As with other stories of the Amish, we see that the don't drive cars and trucks though they make frequent use of hiring a driver to provide this service for them. They also don't have phones inside their homes but place them in a phone-shanty away from the house. And as with many other stories about these separated communities of believers, they eat a lot and drink a lot of coffee (kaffi)

A Place At Our Table is a gentle story that weaves daily life, emergencies, grief, and tender romance amidst life both suburban and farm. We see people of various talents, personalities, and coping mechanisms as they interact within their tight families and how they branch out to those of like faith to move forward after tragedy.

This is an easy to read story that moves at an unhurried pace. The reader will begin to understand how Amish can even pursue involvement as a fireman providing services to those in the entire community as well as the Amish.

For those who enjoy reading gentle stories involving the Amish and their way of life, you will find this book a light read that will take you into their homes and the seat you at A Place at "their" Table.

About the book: Along with his volunteer work at the local fire department, running his Amish farm keeps Jamie Riehl busy. He barely has time to eat at the family table, never mind find someone to date. But when he meets Kayla Dienner, he is smitten.

Kayla tries hard to deny her attraction to Jamie. After all, she’s spent the last year discouraging her younger brother, Nathan, from becoming a firefighter. The death of their older brother in a fire a year ago is fresh in her mind—she can’t bear the idea of putting her heart on the line every time the sirens blare.

Then tragedy strikes, and Jamie wants to extinguish any flame between him and Kayla. Can Kayla set aside her own fears to save the love she was determined to deny?

The first book in the Amish Homestead series, A Place at Our Table invites us to a quiet community in Lancaster County where love burns brightly no matter the cost.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from the BookLook Blogger Review program on behalf of the publisher, Zondervan, to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

That Grand Easter Day by Jill Roman Lord & illustrated by Alessia Trunfio [Review & Giveaway]

What happened the day the stone rolled away?

My thoughts: This is a very well done picture book that recounts the day of Christ's resurrection. The day is told in verse by verse rhyme that follows the cadence of an old familiar nursery rhyme (House that Jack Built). This cadence makes it easy to grab the attention of young listeners and they can repeat the lines with the reader. The verses are cumulative building with repetitions on the previous verses.

The illustrations are very nicely done and the artist has pictured the people realistically and appropriately as middle eastern in skin tone and not caucasian.

This story focuses on the discovery of the empty tomb and the Resurrection of Christ.

The book begins with John 3:16 "For God So loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." and concludes with John 10:10 "I am come that they may have life and have it to the full." (NIV version) 

I absolutely love the focus on the empty tomb and the resurrected Christ. I think this is a lovely book and recommend it. I do, however, have one small drawback which is simply personal. I don't care for the inclusion of a bunny in the story. While surely there were birds and animals in the area on resurrection day, the universally accepted inclusion of bunnies into the celebration of this very special day in the Christian year is cause for concern. In this book, the bunny is simply there and carries no significant or stated purpose.

About the book: That Grand Easter Day! is a cumulative story that begins with the stone in front of the tomb and ends with a new beginning—the Resurrection of Christ. The lively narrative builds as it progresses, adding people, objects, and animals that may have witnessed the events of that day long ago. Little ones will love the repetition, which adds a pleasing level of predictability and helps to make the story of the first Easter more memorable. The upbeat, reverent story is accompanied by luminous illustrations which bring the story to life. This engaging picture book will be a read-aloud favorite at Eastertime and throughout the year.
Begins February 8
Ends February 19 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to Continental USA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from WorthyKids/Ideals to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own, alone, and are freely given.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

If My Moon Was Your Sun by Andreas Steinhöfel with CD audiobook and music by Georges Bizet (Composer)

I found this book a delight to listen to its being read with the lovely musical interludes throughout. Exceptionally well done!

My thoughts: I found the concept of a listen-along-CD and a lovely book for ages 8 to 12 quite appealing. The listen-along and book combo is usually reserved for the younger child. To further enhance the intriguing concept for ages 8 to 12 they have added interludes of classical music that punctuates the "chapters." This is a superb opportunity to allow the introduction of classical music into the story time for this age.

The music is beautiful and it connsists of the work of composers Sergi Prokofiev and Georges Bizet. The story is beautifully read and is a translation from the German of a beautiful story. Descriptive phrases and lyric style are well done. A pleasure to listen to it being read or to read oneself.

Grandfather has dementia and is in a home with locked doors and Max wants a day out with his grandfather. So an escape from the confines of the nursing home is executed seamlessly by Max and Grandfather with an older lady slipping out with them. And so  they go on their adventure with fun, laughs, and love. As day closes and the moon comes out Max and Grandfather are talking about the moon and the sun and how they revolve. Then Grandfather says, "Who are you?"

Max knows his Grandfather has times of not remembering which is the reason he lives in the "home." Though sadded about his Grandfather's condition, Max wants to help his Grandfather.

The story is beautiful showing the love between a grandson and his grandfather. It is beautifully written in flowing style and with grace and sensitivity. The story can be used to help children understand dementia and how it devastates. Often young children see the effects of dementia on someone they love and don't understand it. This lovely story could help.

On a negative note, while I completely understand this is fiction, it does raise issues. First, a nine-year-old child shouldn't go wandering off across town on his or her own without an adult even having knowledge of his excursion. Secondly, the locks on nursing homes are there for the safety of the residents; and for the dementia resident to leave without a responsible adult is simply asking for trouble and most likely unlawful. Of course, when reading stories like Red Riding Hood we have a little girl traipsing through the deep dark forest unaccompanied, so unattended children on excursions are not new to the literature world. Neither is stretching the law a bit. I did want to point out my concerns about the story while extolling its gentle beauty and wonderful presentation with book and audio.

DISCLOSURE: I received a copy through the Librarything.com Early Reviewers program. Opinions are my own and freely given.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Pink Umbrella by Amelie Callot & illustrated by Genevieve Godbout

ISBN: 9781101919231
Tundra an imprint of
My thoughts: This lovely book was originally published in French in 2016 in Canada.

This is an absolutely beautiful book. The story is beautiful and well written with text that simply flows with an enthralling story-telling style. The illustrations are very well done and capture the essence of the story and the mood of the main character, Adele.

The story of Adele and her lovely cafe that is a charming community gathering place speaks to small town or village living and the kindness and gracious friendship that one finds in small towns.

First of all, pink is a theme that is consistently at the forefront. Pink is a "feminine" color and Adele is a lovely lady. Secondly, Adele's charm and friendliness are portrayed in every bit of the story. Thirdly, the friendship that is evident as well as hidden is sweet and understated. And fourth, Adele has a problem that needs addressing and her friend is aware and silently pursues helping her.

While this is a children's picture book, it is somewhat longer that the norm. And while dealing with depression brought on by the weather is typically not something one would encounter in a children's book, inclusion of this problem in a children's book enables the child to become aware that some people are affected. There is nothing analytical in the book, it is just something Adele deals with and of which her friend is aware. Hence, the pink boots, the pink raincoat, and the pink umbrella.

The "depression factor" doesn't need to be stressed as the book is read to a child. This is simply a part of Adele that the author brings out.

I personally really love the book in its entirety. I see no difficulties in reading it to children four years and up. It is a good book for library or classroom read-aloud sessions as well as in-home reading.

About the book: Perfect for fans of Amélie, this is a charming story about the power of friendship, love and pink polka dots to turn rainy days into sunny ones and sadness into joy.

When it's bright outside, Adele is the heart of her community, greeting everyone who comes into her café with arms wide open. But when it rains, she can't help but stay at home inside, under the covers. Because Adele takes such good care of her friends and customers, one of them decides to take care of her too, and piece by piece leaves her little gifts that help her find the joy in a gray, rainy day. Along with cute-as-a-button illustrations, The Pink Umbrella celebrates thoughtful acts of friendship.

DISCLOSURE: I received this book as part of the Early Reviewers program at LibraryThing.com. While not required to review, I felt I wanted to share my thoughts on the book which I am freely doing.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

PAW Patrol Rescue Time (from Nickelodeon Publishing [Review & Giveaway USA/CANADA]

PAW Patrol is one of the top 5 preschool shows on TV, with 73 million viewers in 2016! 

My thoughts: This is a bright colored book with two cute stories about the PAW Patrol (hint: these are critters, think doggies, with paws) that serve as keepers of order and patrol the area. Kind of like the police do for people. These critters have amazing skills that they put to use rescuing the tooth that has sprung into action by a piece of playground equipment and later rescue the songbirds from their kidnapper. Two cute stories that kiddies will love.

Produced by the Nickelodeon Publishing company the book will entertain your preschooler and they can have heaps of fun with the wrist communicator. This handy toy projects 10 different pictures (in a darkened room) onto the wall. Child can turn the knob to go from picture to picture. They can also pretend it is like a smart watch that they can talk into.

Story and "characters" are upbeat and quite cheerful. Sure to be a pleaser for the young readers and the projector/communicator is sure to be a fun gadget with which to play.

About the book: PAW Patrol team on two fun-filled adventures in PAW Patrol Rescue Time, a hardcover book that includes a removable communicator!  Pretend to contact the rest of the team while projecting images from the story directly onto the wall!

Whether it's Alex's first tooth that gets misplaced before he can put it under his pillow for the Tooth Fairy, or a flock of Symphony Songbirds that have gone missing from their nests, the PAW Patrol is ready to rush to the rescue! Read these two pup-tastic adventures, and use your wrist projector to display ten images on the wall that extend the action!
Begins February 2
Ends February 24 @ 12:01 a.m. EST
Open to USA & CANADA addresses only
a Rafflecopter giveaway DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy from MMPublicity on behalf of Nickelodeon Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and are freely given.