Monday, November 30, 2015

November Reflections

In November I read 58 books.

Board books:

  1. Board Book: Jingle Bells. James Lord Pierpont. Illustrated by Pauline Siewert. 2015. Candlewick. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Board Book: Jingle! Jingle! Sebastien Braun. 2015. Candlewick. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Picture books:
  1. Two Mice. Sergio Ruzzier. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  2. Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie the Pooh. Sally M. Walker. Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss. 2015. Henry Holt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. The Only Child. Guojing. 2015. Random House. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. The Nutcracker Comes To America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition. Chris Barton. Illustrated by Cathy Gendron. 2015. Millbrook Press. 36 pages. [Source: Library] 
  5.  All I Want For Christmas Is You. Mariah Carey. Illustrated by Colleen Madden. 2015. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. The Nutcracker. Retold by Stephanie Spinner. Illustrated by Peter Malone. 2008. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. Tallulah's Tutu. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. Tallulah's Solo. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. Tallulah's Nutcracker. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages.
  10. Tallulah's Toe Shoes. Marilyn Singer. Alexandra Boiger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
  11. Tallulah's Tap Shoes. Mairlyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
  12. Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Going to School. Bill Martin Jr., and Michael Sampson. Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant. 2013. 13 pages? [Source: Library]
  13. Kitty Cat, Kitty Cat, Are You Waking Up. Bill Martin Jr., and Michael Sampson. Illustrated by Laura J. Bryant. 2008. 24 pages. [Source: Library] 
  14. Old MacDonald Had A Woodshop. 2002. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  15. Katie's London Christmas. James Mayhew. 2014. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  16. Harold and the Purple Crayon. Crockett Johnson. 1955. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]  
  17. Harold at the North Pole. Crockett Johnson. 1958. HarperCollins. 48 pages. [Source: Library] 
  18. Waddle! Waddle! James Proimos. 2015. [November] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  19. The Night Before Christmas. Clement Clarke Moore. Illustrated by David Ercolini. 2015. [September] 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  20. Hunches in Bunches. Dr. Seuss. 1982. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
  21. The Butter Battle Book. Dr. Seuss. 1984. Random House. 42 pages. [Source: Library]
  22. You're Only Old Once! Dr. Seuss. 1986. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
  23. I Am Not Going To Get Up Today. Dr. Seuss. Illustrated by James Stevenson. 1987. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
  24. The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Beatrix Potter. 1902. [Source: Bought]
  25. The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. Beatrix Potter. 1904. [Source: Bought] 
  26. Beatrix Potter and Her Paint Box. David McPhail. 2015. Henry Holt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  27. Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues. James and Kimberly Dean. 2015. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  28. Too Many Toys! Heidi Deedman. 2015. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Early readers and chapter books:
  1. I Really Like Slop! Mo Willems. 2015. Disney-Hyperion. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
Middle grade:
  1. The Great Turkey Walk. Kathleen Karr. 1998. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer. Kelly Jones. 2015. Random House. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. The Mysterious Woods of Whistle Root. Christopher Pennell. Illustrated by Rebecca Bond. 2011/2013. HMH. 215 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Breakthrough: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever. Jim Murphy. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  5. Eight Cousins. Louisa May Alcott. 1874. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. Eat Your U.S. History Homework. Ann McCallum. 2015. Charlesbridge. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Young Adult: 
  1. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  2. The Wise Girl's Guide to Life. Robin Brande. 2015. Ryer Publishing. 109 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. MARTians. Blythe Woolston. 2015. Candlewick. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Adult books:
  1. All Things Murder. Jeanne Quigley. 2014. 411 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Let the Hurricane Roar. Rose Wilder Lane. 1932. 118 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
  3. Goblin Market and Other Poems. Christina Rossetti. 1862. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. Reading Picture Books With Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See. Megan Dowd Lambert. 2015. Charlesbridge. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Christian Fiction:
  1. Verses, 1847. Christina Rossetti. [Source: Bought] 
  2. The Christmas Joy Ride. Melody Carlson. 2015. Revell. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Huckleberry Hearts. Jennifer Beckstrand. 2015. Kensington. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Keeping Christmas. Dan Walsh. 2015. Revell. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Christian Nonfiction:  
  1. Family Worship. Donald S. Whitney. 2016. Crossway. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Exalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus. David Platt, Dr. Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida. 2013. B&H. 336 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  3. Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season. Heidi Haverkamp. 2015. Westminster John Knox Press. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. The 30 Day Praise Challenge For Parents. Becky Harling. 2014. David Cook. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Like Jesus: Shattering Our False Images of the Real Christ. Jamie Snyder. 2016. [February 2016] 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century. Christopher Catherwood. 2015. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Delighting in God. A.W. Tozer. 2015. Bethany House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. Jesus On Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament. David. P. Murray. 2013. Thomas Nelson. 246 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. Owen on the Christian Life. Matthew Barrett and Michael A.G. Haykin. 2015. Crossway. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  10. Silent Night. Joseph Mohr. Illustrated by Susan Jeffers. 1984/2003. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tallulah's Tap Shoes

Tallulah's Tap Shoes. Mairlyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Tallulah was excited about going to dance camp. She would get to take ballet every day. There was just one problem--she would also have to take tap and she was NOT looking forward to THAT.

Premise/plot: Tallulah is a little too used to being 'the best' at ballet to feel comfortable trying a new type of dance. She wants to either be the best at tap right away, or, not take it at all. To her way of thinking, if she can't be the best and be recognized as being 'the best' then it's not worth her time or effort. But is being the best what summer dance camp is all about?

My thoughts: I liked this one. I liked seeing Tallulah make a new friend. It was a very pleasing story. Even if Beckett was only in the last few pages.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Tallulah's Toe Shoes

Tallulah's Toe Shoes. Marilyn Singer. Alexandra Boiger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:  Tallulah could stand like a ballerina. Tallulah could move like a ballerina, too. But Tallulah knew she'd never be a ballerina until she got a pair of pink satin toe shoes.

Premise/plot: Little Tallulah is wanting to grow up a little too fast in this one. She really, really wants to be a 'grown up' ballerina now. She wants toe shoes of her own. Is she ready for toe shoes? Not really. This is a lesson she learns best on her own. And she'll get that chance when she finds a pair of discarded toe shoes in the trash!

My thoughts: Still enjoying the series very much.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2016 Reading Challenges: Hard Core Re-Reading

Title: Hard Core ReReading
Host: You, Me, and A Cup of Tea (sign up)
Duration: January - December 2016
# of Books: I'm signing up for Level 2, 16-25 books

Books Reread in 2016
  1. Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery. 1908. 448 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Anne of Avonlea. L.M. Montgomery. 1909. 304 pages. [Bought]
  3. Anne of the Island. L.M. Montgomery. 1915. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare. 1599/2004. SparkNotes. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Persuasion. Jane Austen 1818/1992. Knopf Doubleday. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. A Midsummer Night's Dream. William Shakespeare. 1596. 181 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. The Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 423 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. Return of the King. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1955. 590 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain. 1884. 327 pages. [Source: Library]
  11. The World of Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne. Illustrated by Ernest Shepard. 1926. 353 pages. [Source: Library] 
  12. The City of Ember. Jeanne DuPrau. 2003. 270 pages. [Source: Library]
  13. Frog and Toad Are Friends. An I Can Read Book. Arnold Lobel. 1970. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  14. Frog and Toad Together. Arnold Lobel. 1972. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  15. Frog and Toad All Year. An I Can Read Book. Arnold Lobel. 1976. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  16. Days with Frog and Toad. An I Can Read Book. Arnold Lobel. 1979. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  17. Bedtime for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1960/1996. HarperCollins. 32 pages.
  18. Bread and Jam for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1964/1992. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  19. A Birthday for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1968/1995. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  20. Best Friends for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1969/1994. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  21. A Bargain for Frances. Russell Hoban. Illustrated by Lillian Hoban. 1970/1992. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  22. Not Without My Daughter. Betty Mahmoody. 1987. 432 pages. [Source: Library]
  23. Alas, Babylon. Pat Frank. 1959/2005. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 323 pages. [Source: Bought]
  24. Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953/1991. Del Rey. 179 pages. [Source: Bought] [dystopia, science fiction]
  25. Bleak House. Charles Dickens. 1852-1853. 912 pages.  [Source: Bought]
  26. Matilda. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1988. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
  27. Life As We Knew It. Susan Beth Pfeffer. 2006. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 352 pages. [9 hours, read by Emily Bauer] [Source: Review copy]
  28. Cyrano de Bergerac. Edmond Rostand. Translated by Lowell Blair. 1897. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
  29. Twelfth Night. William Shakespeare. 1601. 220 pages. [Source: Library]
  30. Interrupting Chicken. David Ezra Stein. 2010. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  31. The Day You Were Born. Evelyn Swetnam. Illustrated by Muriel Wood. 1971. 30 pages. [Source: Bought]
  32. Ballerina Bess. Dorothy Jane Mills and Dorothy Z. Seymour. 1965. 25 pages. [Source: Bought]
  33. The Crate Train. Dorothy Z. Seymour. 1966. 25 pages. [Source: Bought]
  34. Between Shades of Gray. Ruta Sepetys. 2011. Penguin. 352 pages. [Source: Library] 
  35. The Journey That Saved Curious George. Louise Borden. 2016. HMH. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  36. My Cat Copies Me. Yoon-duck Kwon. 2007. Kane/Miller. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  37. Turtle in Paradise. Jennifer L. Holm. 2010. Random House. 177 pages. [Source: Library]
  38. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Robert Louis Stevenson. 1886. 144 pages. [Source: Library]
  39. Half Magic. Edward Eager. 1954/2016. HMH. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  40. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain. 1876. 225 pages. [Source: Bought]
  41. Anne of Windy Poplars. L.M. Montgomery. 1936. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]
  42. Anne's House of Dreams. L.M. Montgomery. 1919. 227 pages. [Source: Bought]
  43. Anne of Ingleside. L.M. Montgomery. 1939. 274 pages. [Source: Bought]
  44. Rainbow Valley. L.M. Montgomery. 1919. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
  45. Rilla of Ingleside. L.M. Montgomery. 1921. 277 pages. [Source: Bought]
  46. The Knife of Never Letting Go. Patrick Ness. 2008. Candlewick. 479 pages. [Source: Library]
  47. The Ask and the Answer. Patrick Ness. 2009. 536 pages. [Source: Library]
  48. Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians. Brandon Sanderson. 2007. Scholastic. 308 pages. [Source: Library]
  49. Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones. Brandon Sanderson. 2008. Scholastic. 322 pages. [Source: Library]
  50. Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia. Brandon Sanderson. 2009. Scholastic. 299 pages. [Source: Library]
  51. Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens. Brandon Sanderson. 2010. Scholastic. 294 pages. [Source: Library]

Some books I want to reread:
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
  • Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery
  • Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
  • Les Miserables (The Wretched) by Victor Hugo 
  • Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
  • Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Jingle Bells

Board Book: Jingle Bells. James Lord Pierpont. Illustrated by Pauline Siewert. 2015. Candlewick. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Jingle bells! Jingle bells! Jingle all the way! Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.

Premise/plot: A board book adaptation of the familiar holiday song "Jingle Bells." The illustrations feature a family of bears going on a sleigh ride. Little ones can press the button and hear the song.

My thoughts: I enjoyed it. This family of bears is going on a sleigh ride. But on their sleigh ride they are joined by other animals: some squirrels, some badgers, some bunnies, a fox, an owl, etc. (The owl isn't the only bird making its way through the woods.) I loved the last illustration of all the animals gathered around a Christmas tree singing together as Santa in his sleigh passes by overhead. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Library Loot: Fourth Trip in November

New Loot:
  • Spell Robbers by Matthew J. Kirby
  • The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
  • Mio, My Son by Astrid Lindgren
  • How To Get Married, by Me, the Bride by Sally Lloyd-Jones
  • The Ultimate Guide to Grandmas and Grandpas by Sally Lloyd-Jones
  • Junie B. Jones, First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten by Barbara Park
  • Steadfast Heart by Tracie Peterson
  • Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
  • The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage
  • To Hell and Back: Europe, 1914-1949 by Ian Kershaw
  • Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss
  • Daisy-Head Mayzie by Dr. Seuss
  • Tallulah's Tap Shoes by Marilyn Singer
  • Tallulah's Toe Shoes by Marilyn Singer
  • Tallulah's Nutcracker by Marilyn Singer
  • The Nutcracker by Susan Jeffers
  • The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss
  • What Pet Should I Get by Dr. Seuss
  • Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss
  • A Spider On the Stairs by Cassandra Chan
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein
  • Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
Leftover Loot:
  • This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
  • How Many Sleeps 'Til Christmas by Mark Sperring
  • Santa's Sleigh is On Its Way to Texas by Eric James
  • Waiting for Santa by Steve Metzger
  • The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas by Ellis Paul
  • The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
  • Finding Fortune by Delia Ray
  • The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas
  • When Santa Was a Baby by Linda Bailey
  • The Year of Fear by Joe Urschel
  • Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  • The Tale of Hawthorn House by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Oh, the places you'll go! by Dr. Seuss
  • The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand
  • Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
        Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

2015 Completed Challenges: Newbery Reading Challenge


Host: Smiling Shelves
Name: Newbery Reading Challenge 2015 (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books Points:   30 to 44 points (Spinelli) 3 points for each Newbery winner, 2 points for each Newbery Honor Book (So 30 points could be reached by 10 Newbery books, for example, or 15 Newbery Honor books)

January Points: 9
February Points: 15
March Points:  13
April and May points:  36
June Points:  9
July Points:  7
August Points: 13
September Points: 7
October Points: 3

Total -- 112

Newbery Winners Read in 2015:

1)  The Trumpeter of Krakow. Eric P. Kelly. 1928. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
2) Thimble Summer. Elizabeth Enright. 1938/2008. SquareFish. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
3) Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze. Elizabeth Foreman Lewis. illustrated by William Low. 1932/2008. Square Fish. 302 pages. [Source: Review copy]
4) Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women. Cornelia Meigs. 1933/1995. Little, Brown. 256 pages. [Source: Library]
5) The Giver. Lois Lowry. 1993. Houghton Mifflin. 180 pages. [Source: Library]  
6) Up A Road Slowly. Irene Hunt. 1966. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
7) I, Juan de Pareja. Elizabeth Borton de Trevino. 1965/2008. Square Fish. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
8) Number the Stars. Lois Lowry. 1989. (Won Newbery in 1990) 137 pages. [Source: Bought]
9) Ginger Pye. Eleanor Estes. 1950. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 306 pages. [Source: library]
10) The Summer of the Swans. Betsy Byars. 1970. Penguin. 144 pages. [Source: Bought] 
--- 11) Sarah, Plain and Tall. Patricia MacLachlan. 1985. Houghton Mifflin. 64 pages. [Source: Library] 
12) Walk Two Moons. Sharon Creech. 1994. HarperCollins. 280 pages. [Source: Bought]
13) The Whipping Boy. Sid Fleischman. Illustrated by Peter Sis. 1986. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]
14) The View From Saturday. E.L. Konigsburg. 1996. 176 pages. [Source: Bought] 
15) Criss Cross. Lynne Rae Perkins. 2005. 337 pages. [Source: Library] 
16) The Crossover. Kwame Alexander. 2014. HMH. 240 pages. [Source: Library]


Newbery Honor Books Read in 2015:

1) Millions of Cats. Wanda Gag. 1928. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
2) The Windy Hill. Cornelia Meigs. 1921. 210 pages. [Source: Bought]
3) El Deafo. Cece Bell. 2014. Harry N. Abrams. 233 pages. [Source: Library]
4) ABC Bunny. Wanda Gag. 1933/2004. University of Minnesota Press. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
5) On the Banks of Plum Creek. Laura Ingalls Wilder. 1937. 340 pages. [Source: Library]
6) Winterbound. Margery Williams Bianco. 1936/2014. Dover. 234 pages. [Source: Bought]
7) The 100 Dresses. Eleanor Estes. Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. 1944/2004. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 96 pages. [Source: Library]
8) By the Shores of Silver Lake. Laura Ingalls Wilder. 1939. HarperCollins. 291 pages. [Source: Library]
9) The Long Winter. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1940. 335 pages. [Source: Library]
10) Little Town on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1941. 374 pages. [Source: Library]
11)  These Happy Golden Years. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1943. HarperCollins. 289 pages. [Source: Library]
12) Princess Academy. Shannon Hale. 2005. Bloomsbury. 314 pages. [Source: Library]
13) Across Five Aprils. Irene Hunt. 1964. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
14) My Side of the Mountain. Jean Craighead George. 1959. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]
15) The Egypt Game. Zilpha Keatley Snyder. 1967/2009. Simon & Schuster. 215 pages. [Source: Review copy]
16) Three Tales of My Father's Dragon. Ruth Stiles Gannett. Illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett. 1987. Random House. 242 pages. [Source: Library]
17) The Bears on Hemlock Mountain. Alice Dalgliesh. Illustrated by Helen Sewell. 1952. 64 pages. [Source: Bought]
18) The Family Under the Bridge. Natalie Savage Carlson. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1958/1989. HarperCollins. 123 pages.
19)  Gone Away Lake. Elizabeth Enright. 1957. 256 pages. [Source: Library]
20) Charlotte's Web. E.B. White. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1952. HarperCollins. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
21) Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison. Lois Lenski. 1941. HarperCollins. 298 pages. [Source: Bought]
22) Ramona and Her Father. Beverly Cleary. 1977. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
23) Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Beverly Cleary. 1981. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
24) Enchantress from the Stars. Sylvia Louise Engdahl. 1970/2003. Penguin. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
25) The Upstairs Room. Johanna Reiss. 1972. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
26) The Great Gilly Hopkins. Katherine Paterson. 1978. 256 pages. [Source: Bought] 
--- 27) Hatchet. Gary Paulsen. 1986. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
28) On My Honor. Marion Dane Bauer. 1986. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
29) A Girl Named Disaster. Nancy Farmer. 1996. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
30) Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind. Suzanne Fisher Staples. 1989. 240 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
31) 26 Fairmount Avenue. Tomie dePaola. 1999. Penguin. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
32) Whittington. Alan Armstrong. 2005. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Library]


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Week in Review: November 22-28

Two Mice. Sergio Ruzzier. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Reading Picture Books With Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See. Megan Dowd Lambert. 2015. Charlesbridge. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Tallulah's Tutu. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Tallulah's Solo. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Tallulah's Nutcracker. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages.
Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie the Pooh. Sally M. Walker. Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss. 2015. Henry Holt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
The Only Child. Guojing. 2015. Random House. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Nutcracker. Retold by Stephanie Spinner. Illustrated by Peter Malone. 2008. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Harold and the Purple Crayon. Crockett Johnson. 1955. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
Harold at the North Pole. Crockett Johnson. 1958. HarperCollins. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
I Am Not Going To Get Up Today. Dr. Seuss. Illustrated by James Stevenson. 1987. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
Jesus On Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament. David. P. Murray. 2013. Thomas Nelson. 246 pages. [Source: Library]
Delighting in God. A.W. Tozer. 2015. Bethany House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century. Christopher Catherwood. 2015. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's recommendation(s): I loved, loved, loved TWO MICE. And also loved meeting Tallulah and her little brother, Beckett. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Seuss on Saturday #48

I Am Not Going To Get Up Today. Dr. Seuss. Illustrated by James Stevenson. 1987. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Please let me be. Please go away. I am NOT going to get up today! The alarm can ring. The birds can peep. My bed is warm. My pillow's deep. Today's the day I'm going to sleep.

Premise/plot: This little boy is GOING to sleep. Don't bother trying to make him get up and out of bed.

My thoughts: I like it. I don't love, love, love it. But who can really argue with, "My bed is warm. My pillow's deep"?

Have you read I Am Not Going To Get Up Today! Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Oh, The Places You'll Go 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tallulah's Nutcracker

Tallulah's Nutcracker. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages.

First sentence: There was only one Christmas present that Tallulah really wanted. When the phone rang, she was sure her wish had come true--and she was right. 

Premise/plot: Tallulah is super-excited that she will be a mouse in a production of the Nutcracker. She finds out how much work it takes to be involved in the Nutcracker. Will opening night be as wonderful and as thrilling as she hopes?

My thoughts: I love the Nutcracker. And I love Tallulah. So I had high hopes for this one! I definitely enjoyed it. If I liked it a little less than the previous books in the series it might be because there isn't as much of Beckett in it. But still, overall, I would recommend it to anyone who loves happy ballet stories for children.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, November 27, 2015

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker. Retold by Stephanie Spinner. Illustrated by Peter Malone. 2008. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve, Marie's favorite night of the year. She was so excited that she did a pirouette on her way to the drawing room, where she joined her brother, Fritz, at the big double doors.

My thoughts: I love, love, love the music by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. I do. I listen to it frequently--all throughout the year. Why limit the music itself to just one time of year?! That being said, I like the ballet. I've only seen it performed once or perhaps twice. Though there are plenty of movie adaptations of it as well. Perhaps I should try to watch some of these. (Do you have a favorite? a least favorite?)

Stephanie Spinner's picture book retells the story of the ballet for young readers. It is not a retelling of the original Nutcracker story. Which I think is probably for the best! Since most people, I imagine, are more familiar with the ballet than with the original work by E.T.A. Hoffmann. (Hoffmann's work reads more like Alice in Wonderland.)

The illustrations. There were a few spreads that I just loved, loved, loved. But for the most part, I tended to "like" more than "love" the illustrations.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tallulah's Solo

Tallulah's Solo. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Tallulah knew she was an excellent ballet dancer. So she was certain that this year she would be doing a solo in the winter recital.

Premise/plot: Tallulah's Solo is the second book in this picture book series. In this one, Tallulah's oh-so-adorable little brother, Beckett, begins to take ballet. The two are even in the same class. Will Beckett be as eager-to-learn and as well-behaved as Tallulah? Tallulah isn't all that concerned about her brother taking ballet. Her mind is on one thing only: getting a solo for the winter recital. Will this be the year?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this second book. I am enjoying the characters very much. I love Tallulah and Beckett. I wouldn't mind spending time with them in real life. I like Tallulah's big, big dreams. And I like that sometimes not getting what you want gets you what you need. I love how Tallulah learns a few important life-lessons in this one.

My favorite scene? When Tallulah helps her brother practice at home.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Harold at the North Pole

Harold at the North Pole. Crockett Johnson. 1958. HarperCollins. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve, and Harold had to have a Christmas tree before Santa Claus arrived.

Premise/plot: It's Christmas Eve and Harold needs a Christmas tree. With his purple crayon in hand, Harold's adventure begins. He's in search of a tree, so he must draw stars and woods and SNOW. Because he was a little TOO enthusiastic about the snow, Harold finds himself at the North Pole, and, Santa is snowed in. Can Harold draw Santa out of trouble?

My thoughts: This one is so cute and charming. I loved the text. I loved the illustrations. I loved the scene where Harold draws the reindeer and harnesses them up to Santa's sleigh. Have you read this one? What did you think?

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tallulah's Tutu

Tallulah's Tutu. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Tallulah just knew she could be a great ballerina--if only she had a tutu. "And maybe a lesson or two," her mother said with a wink.

Premise/plot: Tallulah is a little girl who really, really wants a tutu. So long as she thinks she'll be getting her tutu soon or even very soon, she's super-motivated to practice. But the tutu is slow in coming, will Tallulah realize there's more to ballet than owning a tutu?

My thoughts: This is a cute book, some might even say a little too cute. But I am not one of them. I am quite tolerant of cute and overly cute books. I am so glad that Tallulah has her own series. I think this would make a great television show as well. Dare I admit that one of my favorite things about the book is Tallulah's little brother Beckett?

I think my absolutely favorite part of the book is the illustrations.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2016 Sci-Fi Experience (Completed)

Art by Chris Goff
Sci-Fi Experience
Host: Stainless Steel Droppings (sign up) (share reviews)
Duration: December 2015 - January 2016
# of Books: I hope to read at least 4 books, maybe more!

# of books actually read: 1

Alas, Babylon. Pat Frank. 1959/2005. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 323 pages. [Source: Bought]APOCALYPTIC ADULT

I must admit the Sci-Fi Experience is one of my favorite non-challenges to participate in. There is just something so comfy-cozy right about settling in with a good sci-fi.

My list of "planned" reads:

Wool, Hugh Howey
Shift, Hugh Howey
Dust, Hugh Howey
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

There are so many books I want to reread, like many Orson Scott Card novels, for example. But I'm not sure which I'll actually get to!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Ten Things I'm Thankful To Have Discovered in 2015

Happy Thanksgiving! Today I thought I'd share a few things that I'm very thankful to have discovered this past year. I do wish I'd done a list in 2014. If I had, "LOST" would definitely be on it and near the top of the list. And also "Call the Midwife" and "Sherlock" and coconut oil and butternut squash. But I didn't. 
“I cannot find a cup of tea which is big enough or a book that is long enough.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Topping my list this year, it would have to be tea. So three items on my list are tea-related!
The Ginger tea *is* medicinal. But I do happen to love the way it tastes. I drink at least two cups of ginger tea daily. The other two teas are holiday flavors, but I want them to be year-round flavors.

The next grouping on my list would have to be fresh fruit. I "discovered" the joys of fresh fruit this past summer. My obsession started with apples, but, then progressed. Right now what I'm really, really missing is peaches. They haven't been available since October. But apples and grapes are a treat I enjoy daily.

Before I move away from food, I just want to mention how thankful I am to have discovered a gluten-free, egg-free noodle that I want to eat. It's not available at a store in my town unfortunately, but a town or two away has a Whole Foods Market which carries it. So I stock up when I can. What is great about it is that it is also corn-free. I have not had success finding a corn pasta that I want to swallow. If you have a favorite gluten-free pasta, I'd love to hear it.

2015 has definitely been the year of "the walk" for me. I started walking in the spring, and am now incredibly more active than in any previous year of my life. One trick is that I rarely if ever, sit down to watch TV. I walk instead. I definitely love my Skechers flip-flops with goga mat. It may not be flip-flop weather outside these days, but, in the house these are still getting a lot of use!!!

I've "discovered" at least two great shows this past year. But topping my list of things I've watched obsessively--in marathon--is Person of Interest. I spent most of the summer watching the first four seasons of the show. I adore this one!!!

The second show that I "discovered" this year is the television show When Calls The Heart. Now, I hated, absolutely hated, the movie. But the tv show? Well, that's a different story. I still haven't caught all of season two. But season one was great. Note: this is not a good show to walk to. Anytime Mountie Jack is on screen, I find myself stopping and just standing and watching. So, I often watched When Calls the Heart while enjoying a cup of tea!

Another new-to-me discovery was the EXTENDED editions of Lord of the Rings. While I had seen the theatre versions a good many times, I'd not watched the extended editions yet. And I love them. I love, love, love them. My summer was very Tolkien-oriented.

What are some of your favorite discoveries this year??? Do you have a favorite tea?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Two Mice

Two Mice. Sergio Ruzzier. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
One house
Two Mice
Three cookies.
Premise/plot: Readers meet two mice and follow them through MANY adventures. The text is simple. And there is a definite pattern to it. One, two, three. Three, two, one. One, two, three. Three, two, one. And so forth. Because the text is so simple, in my opinion, most of the story is communicated through the details of the illustrations. For example, note the expression on the face of the mouse who only gets ONE cookie while his roommate gets TWO cookies. (The one with two cookies did get up earlier than the other mouse.)

My thoughts: I see this one as having again-again appeal for children. That is just my opinion or best guess. But there is something fun and playful and perfect about this one. I loved it. I really, really loved it. And the "really, really" was added after I read it several times. The first time I thought it was cute, it was good. But the third or fourth time through it was LOVE.

I loved everything about it. The jacket flap reads, "One house. Who lives there? Two mice. What's on their table? Three cookies. How many mice are needed for a big adventure? Two mice! You can go with them--it's as easy as one two three!" That has to be the best jacket flap I read this year. If a prize could be given for best jacket flap, this book deserves the win!!!

The story begins even before the title page. So DON'T skip past it. The story itself is wonderful and clever.

The illustrations are GREAT.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What's On Your Nightstand (November)


The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.


The Painter's Daughter. Julie Klassen. 2015. Bethany House. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]

A Regency romance that will probably be "too smutty" for Christians and "too Christian" for unbelievers. I have loved, loved, loved some of Klassen's earlier novels, and, I've also experienced one or two that really disappointed me. But yet my love of her former books keeps me hoping and reading! For better or worse! 

Silent Nights: A British Library Crime Classic. Compiled by Martin Edwards. 2015. Poisoned Pen Press. 298 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 A collection of fifteen short stories--all mysteries--set during the holidays. Some of my favorite authors are included in this collection, but, also some new-to-me authors. This is a classic, none, of the stories are "new" or "modern."

The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood. (Beatrix Potter Series #3) Susan Wittig Albert. 2007. 352 pages. [Source: Bought at Library Sale]

I've read the first two books in the series. The second book, first, for better or worse. I had to track down a copy of the first book, and, it took a while! But I'm excited about this mystery series!

We Believe: Creeds, Confessions, & Catechism for Worship. Edited by Matthew B. Sims. 2015. Grace for Sinners. 360 pages. [Source: Bought]

I am really enjoying reading this one! Yes, I could probably have tracked down most of these creeds and confessions online, but, I like having them together and not having to search them out!


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Only Child

The Only Child. Guojing. 2015. Random House. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence from the author's note: The story in this book is fantasy, but it reflects the very real feelings of isolation and loneliness I experienced growing up in the 1980s under the one-child policy in China.

Premise/plot: This is a wordless picture book. I'm tempted to call this one a picture book for older readers. Though I'm not sure that's entirely fair to the book. It may depend more on your child's attention span and interests. The art is without a doubt captivating and beautiful. The premise is simple: a young girl's loneliness ultimately leads to her getting lost. At some point, reality blends with fantasy. Where is that point exactly??? I'm not sure I can answer that!

My thoughts: Loved, loved, loved the art. It does a great job in conveying emotion, for the most part. I tend to struggle with finding the story in wordless picture books at times. The more complex a book is, the more I struggle. Ultimately I found The Only Child to be worth the effort it took to find and follow the story. But that being said, I'm not sure I fully got every page of the story. Still it's easy to recommend for the art alone.

Text 0 out of 0
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 5

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, November 23, 2015

Reading Picture Books With Children

Reading Picture Books With Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See. Megan Dowd Lambert. 2015. Charlesbridge. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

In Reading Picture Books WITH Children, Megan Dowd Lambert introduces readers (presumably adult readers) to the whole book approach of reading picture books with children. The whole book approach pays attention to the whole book. Not just the text. Not even just the text and the illustrations. But to the whole book:
  • the size of the book--is it big, is it small; is it in landscape or portrait orientation; 
  • the design of the book--what font(s) are used, what size font(s) are used, how does the font appear on the page, etc; 
  • the appearance of the book jacket (front, back, spine); the appearance of the book cover underneath the book jacket; is it the same as the book jacket or different? what materials were used on the cover; how was it bound, etc.
  • the endpapers; are the endpapers the same in the back as they are in the front; what do they add to the story, etc.
  • the front matter; does the story begin before the 'first page' of the text; does it contribute anything to the story;
  • the arrangement of the text and illustrations; how much white space is used on a page, are the illustrations on a two-page spread connected or separate; are the illustrations small or big; are the illustrations framed; do they take up the whole page, etc. 
  • the text itself; what it says, the story, the characters, etc.)
  • the illustrations; the style, the technique, the details, the art and craft of it all, etc.
She encourages adults to focus on the whole book when reading with children. Asking children questions during the reading of the book itself. Letting them interrupt the reading of the story to talk about what they're seeing and hearing and asking their own questions. She says that it only seems like it would ruin the flow of a story. She argues that in fact, the more you pay attention to the whole book the more engaged readers become. So it enhances the reading of a book.

Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of a picture book. Each chapter includes multiple examples and shares practical advice. Readers see what types of questions Lambert has in mind. Questions like: "What's going on in this picture? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find?" She does include a chapter on sample questions. Here are just a few as an example:
  • How does the jacket seem like a poster for the book, pulling us in as readers? What grabs your attention here?
  • What information does the jacket give us about the story?
  • How does the way the words look tell us how to read the words aloud?
  • Does anyone else have a different idea about this picture?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Winnie

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie the Pooh. Sally M. Walker. Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss. 2015. Henry Holt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When Harry Colebourn looked out of the train window, he couldn't believe what he saw: a bear at the station!

Premise/plot: This picture book is the 'true story' of the real bear named Winnie that was eventually given to the London Zoo. The book ends by introducing readers to a young Christopher Robin who enjoys visiting Winnie at the zoo.

My thoughts: Most of the picture book takes place during World War I. You probably can't think of many picture books about World War I or set during World War I, I know I can't think of any others at the moment! Harry Colebourn is a soldier, a Canadian soldier, and the war is in the background. As an adult reader, I felt the war was rightly in the background. I'm not sure if young readers will read the book in quite the same way. Winnie, the bear, is a friend, companion, mascot, not just to one soldier--though Harry is his favorite--but to a regiment. When Harry's called to fight overseas in Europe, Winnie is left in the care of the London Zoo. An author's note fills in the details of Winnie's life after the publication of A.A. Milne's classic children's book.

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10  

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Library Loot: Second and Third Trips in November

New Loot:
  • This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
  • How Many Sleeps 'Til Christmas by Mark Sperring
  • Santa's Sleigh is On Its Way to Texas by Eric James
  • The Nutcracker retold by Stephanie Spinner
  • Winnie by Sally M. Walker
  • Waiting for Santa by Steve Metzger
  • The Night the Lights Went Out on Christmas by Ellis Paul
  • The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
  • Finding Fortune by Delia Ray
  • The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas
  • When Santa Was a Baby by Linda Bailey
Leftover Loot:
  • The Year of Fear by Joe Urschel
  • Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  • The Tale of Hawthorn House by Susan Wittig Albert
  • Oh, the places you'll go! by Dr. Seuss
  • You're Only Old Once by Dr. Seuss
  • I Am Not Going To Get Up Today by Dr. Seuss
  • The Face of a Stranger by Anne Perry
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand
  • Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
  • The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
       Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Harold and the Purple Crayon

Harold and the Purple Crayon. Crockett Johnson. 1955. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. There wasn't any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight. And he needed something to walk on.

Premise: Readers meet Harold, a young boy with a purple crayon. Harold is always finding himself in the middle of adventures. He can draw his way in and out of those adventures. For example, his shaking hand causes the purple crayon to make waves and he finds himself drowning in the ocean. No cause for fear though, just draw a boat and get inside.

My thoughts: I really love Harold and his purple crayon. I found the book playful and fun and simple and wonderful. Have you read Harold and the Purple Crayon? What was your favorite scene? I love Harold's picnic with the nine kinds of pie!!! I like how he draws animals to finish the pies. The picture of the porcupine is so cute and adorable!

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, November 21, 2015

2015 Reading Challenges: Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge

Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge
Host:  The Christmas Spirit; sign up
Duration: November 23-January 6, 2016
# of books: Signing up for 5 or 6 books

What I Actually Read:
1) Board Book: Jingle Bells. James Lord Pierpont. Illustrated by Pauline Siewert. 2015. Candlewick. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy]
2) Harold at the North Pole. Crockett Johnson. 1958. HarperCollins. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
3)
4)
5)
6)

What I Plan on Reading:
Picture Books:
  • Nutcracker Retold by Stephanie Spinner, illustrated by Peter Malone
  • How Many Sleeps 'Til Christmas? by Mark Sperring, illustrated by Sebastien Braun
  • Santa's Sleigh is On Its Way To Texas by Eric James, illustrated by Robert Dunn and Eldar Sky 
  • Waiting for Santa by Steve Metzger, illustrated by Alison Edgson
  • The Night the Lights Went Out On Christmas by Ellis Paul
  • When Santa Was A Baby by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Genevieve Godbout
  • Harold at the Northpole by Crockett Johnson
  • Click, Clack, ho ho ho! by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Novels/Novellas
  • 12 Brides of Christmas Collection, various authors (romance)
  • Silent Nights, various authors (mystery)
  • The Fruitcake Murders by Ace Collins (mystery)
  • A Basket Brigade Christmas (romance)
Christmas Spirit Read-a-thon
Host: Seasons of Reading (sign up)
Duration: November 23-29

What I Read for the Read-a-thon:
1) Two Mice. Sergio Ruzzier. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
2) Reading Picture Books With Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See. Megan Dowd Lambert. 2015. Charlesbridge. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
3) Tallulah's Tutu. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
4) Tallulah's Solo. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
5) Tallulah's Nutcracker. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages
6) The Only Child. Guojing. 2015. Random House. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
7) Harold at the North Pole. Crockett Johnson. 1958. HarperCollins. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
8) I Am Not Going To Get Up Today. Dr. Seuss. Illustrated by James Stevenson. 1987. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
9) Jesus On Every Page: 10 Simple Ways to Seek and Find Christ in the Old Testament. David. P. Murray. 2013. Thomas Nelson. 246 pages. [Source: Library]
10) Delighting in God. A.W. Tozer. 2015. Bethany House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
11) Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century. Christopher Catherwood. 2015. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Week in Review: November 15-21

Breakthrough: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever. Jim Murphy. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Eight Cousins. Louisa May Alcott. 1874. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
MARTians. Blythe Woolston. 2015. Candlewick. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Great Turkey Walk. Kathleen Karr. 1998. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

Goblin Market and Other Poems. Christina Rossetti. 1862. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
Old MacDonald Had A Woodshop. 2002. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
You're Only Old Once! Dr. Seuss. 1986. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
Like Jesus: Shattering Our False Images of the Real Christ. Jamie Snyder. 2016. [February 2016] 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season. Heidi Haverkamp. 2015. Westminster John Knox Press. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Christmas Joy Ride. Melody Carlson. 2015. Revell. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's recommendation(s):

I loved Jim Murphy's Breakthrough!!!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Seuss on Saturday #47

You're Only Old Once! Dr. Seuss. 1986. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]

 First sentence: One day you will read in the National Geographic of a faraway land with no smelly bad traffic.

Premise/plot: An old man is "stuck" worrying at the doctor's office--or hospital--as various tests and procedures are done for his check up.

My thoughts: You're Only Old Once is definitely a picture book for older readers. Perhaps mainly adult readers. It is clever, in places, and overall I think it's a book worth reading. One example of the cleverness is the eye test or the "eyesight and solvency test" which reads:
HAVE YOU ANY IDEA
HOW MUCH MONEY
THESE TESTS ARE
COSTING
YOU?
Here's another favorite part:
Dietician Von Eiffel controls the Wuff-Whiffer, our Diet-Devising Computerized Sniffer, on which you just simply lie down in repose and sniff at good food as it goes past your nose....And when that guy finds out what you like, you can bet it won't be on your diet. From here on, forget it!
Have you read You're Only Old Once! Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is I Am Not Going To Get Up Today. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, November 20, 2015

Old MacDonald Had A Woodshop

Old MacDonald Had A Woodshop. 2002. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Old MacDonald had a shop, e-i-e-i-o! And in her shop she had a saw, e-i-e-i-o! With a zztt zztt here and a zztt zztt there, here a zztt, there a zztt, everywhere a zztt zztt. Old MacDonald had a shop, e-i-e-i-o.

Premise/plot: Old MacDonald and other animals from the farm are building something, and they are using lots of different tools. But what are they building? Can you guess before the big reveal?

My thoughts: Loved this one from the very beginning, and I do mean the beginning. The endpapers of this one are very fun! Readers see all HER tools hanging up in the shop. Each one clearly labeled. Some may be familiar to children, others may not be. Regardless, it sets a great mood for the book. Instead of celebrating animal sounds, this book, this song, if you will, celebrates the sounds that tools make, and celebrates the act of building and designing.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Goblin Market and Other Poems

Goblin Market and Other Poems. Christina Rossetti. 1862. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]

Poetry is not something I review frequently at Becky's Book Reviews. I tend to have a love-hate relationship with the genre. Either I love, love, love a particular poet, or, I don't. Typically, it isn't so much "hate" as indifference or even confusion. But now and then I "discover" a poet that makes me really love sitting down with a book of poetry. One of my happy discoveries of the year is Christina Rossetti. Technically I was familiar with her poem "Goblin Market" having studied it in school way back when. But since I haven't read another poem by Rossetti until this year, I'm counting her as a NEW discovery.

This poetry collection was first published in 1862. It begins with "Goblin Market." And I do have to say that if you just read one poem this year, it should be Goblin Market, in my opinion!!! It is about two sisters, Laura and Lizzie. And, of course, it features goblins selling forbidden fruit and other goodies. One sister is tempted beyond what she can stand, and, well, you should read it for yourself!

The collection includes other poems as well. Some short. Some long. Some darker than others perhaps. But not all the poems are dreary and melancholy. All feel authentically human, and capture something of the human experience. Rossetti also wrote devotional poems, but, the poems in this collection are different. Almost like the poems capture not what we should feel or ought to feel or what we want to feel, but, instead how we do feel--for better or worse.


Some poems focus on the seasons, on nature, on the natural way of things--including life, death, change, renewal. Some poems focus on love and relationships. Not all poems end happily ever after, in fact, many don't. But there is something beautiful about the poems even when they are about broken relationships.

Poems I'd recommend:

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Great Turkey Walk

The Great Turkey Walk. Kathleen Karr. 1998. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed Kathleen Karr's The Great Turkey Walk so very much! If you're a fan of Richard Peck's historical fiction, you should definitely read this one. It's historical comedy at its best!

Simon Green is the lovable hero of The Great Turkey Walk. After being politely kicked out of school after completing his fourth year in the third grade, he is looking for a purpose, a calling. And it hits him all at once when he's talking to a local turkey farmer. There isn't a market for turkeys in Missouri--that's clear enough--but there IS a market for turkeys out west, in places like Denver, Colorado. Turkeys may be easy to come by here, but, there, it just isn't the case. If Simon can find a way to BUY turkeys cheaply in Missouri and take them where they're needed, he could be RICH. His investor? His former teacher, Miss Rogers, who does indeed want the best for her former student. (He is fifteen or sixteen, I believe. And she knows that he'll never make it through all the grades. He's not even ready for fourth grade work yet.)

Simon doesn't make the journey west alone. And this comedy actually does quite a good job of characterizing them all: his "family" of misfits that come together out of need and stay together out of love.

I loved the narration. I loved the characterization. I loved the humor and the adventure. It was a quick and satisfying read. And there really were turkey walks in the nineteenth century!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

MARTians

MARTians. Blythe Woolston. 2015. Candlewick. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Did I enjoy reading Blythe Woolston's MARTians? Yes, for the most part. Not wholeheartedly perhaps. But I can see some definite strengths, which is a reason to recommend it, in my opinion!

MARTians is a YA novel that will appeal to lovers of dystopian novels mainly. Also to those perhaps who really enjoyed Ray Bradbury's science fiction. Though don't expect MARTians to be as amazingly wonderful and as complex as Bradbury's fiction. I definitely got the feeling that the author was inspired by several of Bradbury's stories. And since I love Bradbury too, I felt at times a kindred spirit with the author.

The heroine of MARTians is a young teen girl named Zoe Zindleman. The novel practically throws you right into the action, for better or worse. On the day the novel opens, Zoe learns that she--and her whole class, the whole school, I believe--is being graduated early, several years early in fact. She is curious as to why. But is trying to adapt as best she can. She knows that in a day or two, she'll hopefully be offered a job, start training, and go to work. She's not sure what job she'll be offered--though she knows she'll have a choice between two jobs, a rare treat in this futuristic society. But that's not the only change in her life--school to full-time job. No, her mom received news as well. And as a result, essentially abandons Zoe, trusting that Zoe is now old enough to be on her own. Zoe, for a few days at least, will be all on her own in a house that won't sell, in a neighborhood that's been abandoned--none of the houses will sell--and trashed. She feels very much alone. Until she meets someone who offers to help her so long as she agrees to always lend a helping hand to others. She agrees, and her new life begins...for better or worse.

Much world-building is done in MARTians, but, still enough is left mysterious and shadowy. Readers definitely get the impression that this society is not all-happy despite the focus on materialism and shopping.

I definitely found this a compelling read, and, a quick read.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Breakthrough

Breakthrough: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever. Jim Murphy. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

If I had to describe Breakthrough in just a few words, I'd choose these: fascinating, compelling, a must-read. If I had to pack it all into one sentence? Something like, Breakthrough by Jim Murphy is a fine narrative example of nonfiction for young readers at its best. Of course, I don't have to limit my review to just a few words or a few sentences. But the best books so overwhelm you with their greatness that though you want to gush about them at great length, you're sometimes at a loss of words for you know that you can never do the book you just read and loved justice.

Breakthrough is the story of three people: Dr. Alfred Blalock, Dr. Helen Taussig, and Vivien Thomas. Dr. Blalock was a doctor who spent most of his time doing research, his specialty was studying shock: what it was, what caused it, how to fix it and save lives. He was a doctor who needed a research assistant, a more-than-capable research assistant, an assistant that would be able to do his own research, experiments, and surgeries. That assistant was a black man, Vivien Thomas. He was not technically a doctor or a surgeon. So his story of how he became part of this historic team is quite fascinating. (It would have been easy for most who worked at the hospital to assume that Thomas was a janitor, a "mere" janitor, if you will. But that was so far from the case!!!)  

Readers learn about all three people--their stories and backgrounds and how they came together to help save 'blue babies.' Readers also learn a bit about the field of medicine at the time--the 1930s and 1940s. Heart surgery was not done at the time; it was almost unthinkable for doctors and surgeons to contemplate operating on the heart. "Blue babies" were babies born with heart defects. They might live for a few days, a few weeks, or a few years. But all babies born with heart defects were almost surely fated to die early. Dr. Helen Taussig was a pediatrician who was broken-hearted enough about it to want to do something. Even if other doctors were hesitant or even hostile to help her in her research. She ended up working with Dr. Blalock, and his involvement meant Vivien Thomas doing much of the work: the tests, the experiments, the surgeries, all on animal test subjects of course. The author does address how some found this controversial--doing surgeries and experiments on animals, in this case on dogs--but he stresses how valuable the research was to doctors, and, how their discoveries led to life-changing techniques and practices that would never have been possible without that initial animal research. Thomas, the man doing the test surgeries, also needed to invent the surgical tools to operate.

And without a doubt this first case of heart surgery on a baby, Eileen Saxon, was life-changing. (I believe it was one of the first (successful) heart surgeries ever performed.) This surgery changed the lives of the doctors, changed the field of medicine, and changed people's perceptions of what was possible.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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