Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Dunn Family On The Food Nanny

 Oh Dinner, Where Art Thou?
Click the link above to be directed to the  BYUtv site to watch our "stunning" TV debut!

And it's linked to a book!

(Cupcake especially likes the bread dough recipes!)

Our carne asada tacos from the Food Nanny Cookbook were fabulous! (The first time in years that no one complained at dinner. It truly was a miracle!) Liz Edmonds suggest having enough side dishes so that everyone has something they like to eat at dinner. I have been cooking more since the show, but I'm not quite "advanced" enough to do side dishes!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
by Catherynne M. Valente

Coconut (age 8) loved this book. I only liked it. 3 stars. Maybe three and a half stars.

Twelve year old September is invited by the Green Wind to visit Fairyland. While in Fairyland she has many adventures, does a bit of growing up and overcoming selfishness, and finds out that everything isn't as it seems in the mystical land. She learns that it isn't always easy to do the right thing, and that being a hero takes determination and hard work.

Well written, fabulous vocabulary, engaging illustrations, unexpected occurrences, great adventures.

Coconut is definitely her own person, and I think she identified with the character of September. She had big plans for a book club party for this book . . . and it had lots of potential. We filled the back of the book with food and craft and connection book ideas.

So, why did I give it only three stars (a low rating for me)?  I think because I read it with Coconut rather than Cupcake or Dancegirl. At first glance, it seems like a perfect fit for my eight year old, (even though one of my favorite reviewers Betsey Bird billed it as a 9-12  year old book--most of the books I read with Coconut are billed as 9-12 year old reads)  but as I read it I thought it had too much talk of blood and a somewhat weird occurrence at the end (SEMI SPOILER ALERT) where September and Saturday wrestle and end up with a child (No sex, but what sorts of imagery could be read into THAT?) I couldn't endorse it as a book club party book because I'm not sure other mothers would respond positively. (And I'm not a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, and this kept bringing up images of that story, so I had a negative bias at random points in the story)

I will ask Cupcake if she is interested in reading it . . . and see if my opinion changes with a slightly older audience.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Books to Read in 2012 (Fingers crossed)

I have three book clubs to keep up with! Whew. Sometimes it is hard to keep up, but always worth it. Sometimes I just get a "quick read" of the book. This is usually good enough for book club discussion, but sometimes I read something that I want to go back and read again.

So far for 2012, two book clubs have put out some plans for the coming year: 

The Utah County Homeschool Book Club (TJED)
January: The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
February: Plutarch's Lives (a selection of lives still TBD)
March: The Law by Bastiat and The Proper Role of Government by Ezra Taft Benson
April: The Cleansing of America by Cleon Skousen (but I have read it and gave it one star, so I'm hoping for a change! But if we don't, I'll be happy to be there anyway, this is an awesome group! )

Happy Valley Homeschooler Mom's Night Out (another fantastic group!)
Jan 5- The Walk by Richard Paul Evans
Feb 9- David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Mar 8- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Apr 12- Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank Gilbreth
May 10- Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Jun 14- TBA
Jul 12- TBA
Aug 9- The Robe by Lloyd Douglas, (my pick!)
Sep 13- Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
Oct 11- The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

Neighborhood Book Group: 
We take turns choosing each month, so I'm not sure what is coming for 2012! 

The books floating around in my mind to read in 2012:
Bleak House by Charles Dickens (this is on hold until I get through David Copperfield, though!) 
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Emma by Jane Austen
Red Scarf Girl by Ji Li Jiang
Several books by Terry Prachett
(Lords and Ladies, Witches Abroad, Mort, Maskerade, I Shall Wear Midnight, and Maurice and His Amazing Educated Rodents) 
The History of the Medieval World by Susan Wise Bauer
Archer's Goons by Diana Wynne Jones
Hero and the Crown and the Blue Sword (re-read) by Robin McKinley 

(We'll see how this list goes . . .it's pretty fluid!) 

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to this on my phone from Audible. FUN! It was creepy, but nothing that my children shouldn't overhear as I listened over my phone while folding laundry. There was some allusion to sex, and a very brief mention of a homosexual attraction, but I had headphones at that time. (I think my children would have missed it anyway if they had overheard.) Also an engaged couple shares an apartment . . .I think that is all the "bad" stuff to worry about children hearing. But there is intense and scary-ish stuff throughout.)

It was a fun thing to be forced to listen to the conclusion (and not peek at the end!).  I thought I had it figured out, but I was pleasantly surprised by the ending. . . and satisfied. The characters were consistent and well developed as well as interesting to "get to know". The story lines were complex and intertwined in fascinating ways. The end was a bit "Dickensian" for my taste, but I have to admit I liked having all the loose ends tied up at the story's conclusion. (It's so refreshing to read a book that actually ends, without alluding to a sequel.)

I oftentimes seem to need a "purpose" to my reading. (I'm the queen of multi tasking: Is is educational? Will it help me become a better person? a more literate person? Is this something I want my children to read and I'm reading it to screen it first?  . . . ) This was simply fun (escape) reading/listening, chosen because I enjoyed the Forgotten Garden when my neighborhood book club read it earlier this year, and wanted to try some more "adult" fiction. The goodreads and amazon reviews indicated I could trust this author to deliver another fascinating story.  I enjoyed it and my kitchen enjoyed the extra bit of cleaning as I sought a productive excuse to keep listening.

View all my reviews

What We Are Reading This Week (or so) December 16, 2011

I can't figure out how to get pictures of the book covers onto the blog! I've done it before, so I know I can do it . . . I'd just rather take the time to write about books rather than figure out technical stuff! 

Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
Yep, the Boy and I are still reading Sea of Trolls. We are inching toward the end, but we don't read every day, due to early morning seminary . . . it is a fun book, and was a great match up with our Story of the World co op readings on "The Arrival of the Norsemen" and "The First Kings of England."

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
I'm reading this with the Ballerina!! Whoo hoo!!!! She told me several months ago that she wanted me to stop reading to her in the mornings. It was heartbreaking for me. The extra 15 minutes of laying in bed was not attractive enough for her. She said she would just rather get up.  But, while at the book store, we were negotiating about something (I don't even remember what!) and she said, "I'll let you start reading to me again.... if I can pick the book." DONE DEAL!!

We are only one day in . . . it is the story of some modern day girls descended from Medusa  that have some special powers beyond human abilities. We are hoping that it is a "girl power" version of Rick Riordan's The Lightening Thief. She is a busy girl with early morning seminary and two hours of practicing to get done in the mornings, so consistency will be a potential obstacle.

She reminded me that I only have to read aloud the first 100 pages, and then she gets to read the book on her own. I reminded her that is true, but I get to pick the next book! (I'm going with the Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry next. It was the book she "almost" picked, so I'm hoping to keep her interested in me reading to her!) She does listen to our lunch time and night time read alouds, (if she is home!) so I haven't lost her completely, but there is something AMAZING about having a book you are reading one on one with your child.

Wyrd Sisters by Terry Prachett
Cupcake and I are reading this . . . I just finished it, laughing the whole time. We are going to read it as a companion book when our Scholar Lit class studies Macbeth, (which won't be until this summer) but I wanted to read and talk about it with Cupcake in advance. (It isn't a children's book, and there are one or two parts that will require some discussion and explanation i.e. the feudal/medieval droit de signeur ... no inappropriate details are given in the book, but I DEFINITELY want to talk about it together)

Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski
This was on a Beehive Book Award nominee for 2010. I really enjoyed the writing, and especially enjoyed the relationships between the characters . . . they seemed so real! An impressive feat, when those  characters include a talking tin spider, a gypsy boy and a heroic, but impetuous girl. The Coconut and I are half way through. Our next book is Anne of Green Gables. I was reading it to Cupcake, but just kept thinking "I need to read this with Coconut!" Since Cupcake has listened to Anne years ago, she was content to put it aside and start up something new.

Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald
This was such a lucky and fun find! I was digging around for some new Christmas picture books for our Advent tradition (more on that in another post!) and discovered this delightful book, by the author of the whimsical Mrs. Piggle Wiggle series (a family favorite!).
Nancy and her little sister Plum (short for Pamela) are orphans who are kept at a boarding home, managed by the rotten Mrs. Monday. Despite their hardships, Nancy and Plum are happy, smart, loving and kind. Each chapter builds on the next, but each chapter is an individual adventure that Nancy and Plum complete. We are halfway through, and really enjoying it! Lala loves it. She has been sleeping with the doll we made at her Little House on the Prairie book club party, and this book has doll making in it, so she is already planning another doll making session when we do a Nancy and Plum book club party.

I'm reading/just finished:
Deconstructing Penguins by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone (for the second time in 6 weeks. . . it is THE BEST BOOK ON DISCUSSING BOOKS with children I have ever read! I'm reading it twice to really let it sink it.

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans (a book club pick for January . . . I actually liked it, even though I don't usually go for this type of book).

Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
I got this in our White Elephant exchange for HVH Mom's night out book club. Ilima always chooses books that spark conversation for the HVH book club. This is a Young Adult (and quite fun) read. It was a finalist for the National Book Award (young adult division). Dancegirl saw it sitting out and said, "This looks like something I would like." (I think she will like it a lot.) It has quite a bit of (clean) romance, quite a bit of mystery, lots of suspense, friends that help and support each other and lots of girl power.

Enter Three Witches Caroline Cooney
Another Macbeth companion book. I'm having trouble loving this book (likely because I loved Wyrd Sisters so much!) but I think it will appeal to Dancegirl at my house, so I'm sticking with it so we can use it to discuss Macbeth. (So far, our companions will be Serena by Ron Rash [the short story); Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa M. Klein, Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett, and Enter Three Witches . . . I'll write more about that this summer . . . I'm excited for my turn to come around again!)

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
I spend a week doing some background reading, and when I finally started, I learned that I need to be sitting in my study area at my big table and not in my nice warm bed to be able to get anything out of this! My dear friend Heather calls this her favorite book, and chose it for our HVH pick in February (and will tell us why this is her favorite book during our discussion.) ß

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
The Boy and the Ballerina read this for a scholar class, so I decided to read it along with them. They are finished, but I'm still plugging along. I'm reading it on my phone with my Kindle app. So fun! I love how I can read it on the iPad, and it will find my starting spot when I switch devices and read it on my phone. I like reading with a pen in my hand and annotating my books, and I don't have that part worked out on my "devices" (I know you can do it, there is just something about the connection to my brain that involves holding a pen!) So, I'm just reading "digitally" a bit at a time. I read five or six books at a time, so reading them all on a device would be a smart idea, but I just can't seem to do it!

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
I'm listening to this on my phone. I had to speed the narration to 1. 75 listening speed, because I can't peek at the end and I can't wait to find out if my theory is correct. It distorts the voice a bit but it I'm getting through it pretty quickly. I listen at night when I "put my house to bed" and whenever I do laundry and if I happen to find myself alone in the car.

Lots of Christmas picture books . . . more on that later! I need to do a post of our super favorite Christmas picture books!

Various Homeschool Books . . . but . . .I don't have time to think about that now!
We are on our way to meet Jessica Day George at our co-op Girl's Writing Club (The Pickwick Society) more on that later, too. (Hopefully with a picture!)

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

We finished Huckleberry Finn yesterday. We read the last five or six chapters  . . . laughing and giggling the entire time!  All five of my "pumpkins" said they liked the book, but that Tom Sawyer was better.

Hmm... I wonder if Tom Sawyer is better or if our reading patterns for each book influenced their ratings.
When Brent and I watched the first four seasons (in the space of two weeks)  of Lost we really liked it. Then when we had to wait a week between each episode, we lost interest. We decided to wait until the series was finished, and then watch it ... we still have not finished it, though!

We were VERY consistent reading Tom Sawyer every day at lunchtime, and we've been reading Huck Finn sporadically over several months (at least once per week . . . ). So I can't decide. Both are good books, and I'm glad we read them.

Our next lunch time History Read Aloud is going to be The Boy Knight, A Tale of the Crusades by G. A. Henty. We are studying Medieval history with our home school co op, and this will be a perfect  fit. G. A. Henty books are historically accurate (for the most part) and full of adventure. I think it will be great fun!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 2011: What I've Been Reading This Past Week (or so)

A book blog was supposed to be my "Proficiency" for 2011 . . . but it has proven to be a more daunting task than I anticipated. Sometimes my proficiency chooses me, sometimes I choose it, but  maybe this year, my proficiency was just keeping up with my life. I'm almost doing that!

Sometimes when I'm behind in our family journal (which happens more often than naught!) I just spend some time writing everything we did the previous day. Whew! That is insightful into our family dynamic, and those entries become a treasure to read. 

So, I'm doing the same thing, but focusing on what we are reading. There is really no rhyme or reason, but a quick look at what we have been reading this past week or so. 

Morning Reading:

Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
The Boy and I are still reading A Sea of Trolls. It is taking forever because I'm able to read to him only once in a blue moon. Literally. He has early morning seminary every other day, and doesn't want me to read to him when he is out of bed. The morning often gets away from when I'm reading to the girls (who are more excited to listen to me read, and thus a more compelling audience!) and practicing with them. I like the fantasy and historical fiction blend of this book. (And so does The Boy. Most of the books he is "authoring" at this time have a blend of fantasy and history.) 
We are at the part where Jack and Lucy have arrived at Olaf Long Bow's home and Jack is gaining insight into the reasons for Thorgill's mean behavior.  

Captain Blood by Rafael Sabatini
Cupcake and I are reading this in anticipation of a Scholar's Book Club on November 4. I really like this book. I love the writing (especially the vocabulary), I love the "pirate and a good man theme" and the leadership qualities that can be learned, and I love the Cupcake likes reading this with me (and is happy to wait for me to read it aloud and finish it and talk about it together.) 
We are at the exciting part of the love story, where Arabella realizes she loves Captain Blood, but he thinks she is lost to him forever . . . . 

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Lala and I are reading this to get ready for an author visit to our homeschool writing group. This isn't really a book for five year olds, but she is loving it. When we read Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by the same author, Lala adored it, so I thought she might like Dragon Slippers. All three of the older girls have read it and thoroughly enjoyed it. She likes it so much, she frets when we only read one chapter, and last night, she read an entire chapter to me, just so we could keep reading. 
We are also at an exciting part when we learn what the blue slippers actually do, and war is on the horizon for Creel's country.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
Coconut and I are almost finished. Coconut loves this book and is always coming up with book club party ideas for it, but I'm not so sure. I just don't love it enough. It is a great vocabulary builder, but it is too much like Alice in Wonderland for my taste. (Simply a matter of opinion. I know many people who like Alice in Wonderland and will probably also like this book.)  I'm waiting until I finish to pass full judgement, but it's not a book I will read again (and I almost always re read books to prepare for our book club parties). 

Alas, Dancegirl doesn't want me to read to her in the mornings anymore . . . even if it means 15 or 20 more minutes of time to be in bed. Sob!!

The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Christ
For family scripture study, we have been reading by subject matter or topic, but this week we started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning. During personal scripture study time, I have been reading the Doctrine and Covenants with a focus on motherhood as a missionary experience, but now I switched to reading a chapter ahead of the family and using the book Scripture Study for Latter Day Saint Families: The Book of Mormon to  get ideas for discussion points. We are on chapter 4, it's been great so far. 

What I've been reading:
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
I like it (not love it).  As a religious person myself, I can relate to how the Hmong people cling to their religion and roots when facing emotional and physical problems. 

Teaching the Classics in the Inclusive Classroom: Reader Response Activities to Engage All Learners by Katherine S. McKnight and Bradley P. Berlage
I'm only through the first section, but I'm liking it so far. Many of my educational philosophies coincide with the authors (even though they are public school teachers and I'm a homeschooler). I haven't gotten to any actual practices the authors have used, but the foundation is laid, and my interest in piqued. 

Still Alice by Lisa Genova
One woman's descent into Alzheimer's disease--from her perspective. I had to stay up until 2:00 a.m. to finish this book. It was like a Stephen King horror novel, but without the grisly horror.  Yet, it was just as horrifying to me. (My mother's side of the family . . . both my grandparents . . . have a history of Alzheimers)  My sister said she couldn't read it, it was too much of a "wrist slitter" for her.  It made me think about suicide in a new light and taught me about the kind of relationships I want to work on NOW with my children and husband. I woke up the next morning and couldn't stop thinking about the story. Well written and thought provoking. Although slowing losing her mind, Alice gained things -- such as a relationship with her youngest daughter- -  that wouldn't have happened without the disease. Good things and sad things and hard things and real things happened in this book.  I think I will suggest it for either my homeschool mothers' or neighborhood book club next time it's my turn to choose. 

Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly
I'm getting ready for the Scholar Book Group at my house the first week of November. (We are reading Captain Blood) This book gives fun insights into the reality of Pirates. 

Teach the Children by Neil Flinders
This is my Sunday afternoon before I take my nap read. It's slow going, I typically get in only three or four pages until I'm out. But, I enjoy what I'm learning. 

Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham
I read this to help prepare for a presentation I gave last Saturday at a Mother's Retreat. I enjoyed the insights and information, but I read several blogs and reviews on the book before I read the book, and then discovered that I really didn't need to read the book after all, the information on the blogs was enough. There is a test you can take if you buy the book brand new to help you discover your personal strengths, but I bought the book used, so the test was unavailable to me. 
I also read Emma and Company by Ralph Moody for this retreat, but I finished the book more than a week ago, so I didn't include it. Excellent read! 

Plutarch's Lives: Cato the Younger
I haven't actually read this book in the last week, but it is on my list of things to do. I'm trying to spend 15 minutes every day in the Great Books. But, I didn't even crack it open this past month. So, I'm writing it here to inspire me (okay, to shame myself into making it a priority if you want to know the truth!) I've read Alexander the Great and now it's on to Cato. I actually quite enjoy reading Plutarch, but it isn't quick reading, and you could probably get the same information about these historical figures in a more accessible book. But, it makes me think and ponder, so I like it. (Maybe I should read Plutarch's Julius Caesar and compare it to How They Croaked's Julius Caesar!) 

Tuesday's at the Castle by Jessica Day George
We finished it up this week. (We are on a Jessica Day George binge.) Clever and cute. It reminded me of Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke. A fun premise . . . the castle "recreates" itself regularly, usually on Tuesdays. If the castle likes you (and thinks you are good for the kingdom . . . you get bigger rooms) if the castle doesn't like you, your rooms shrink and begin to resemble dungeons. The traitorous Emissary and gullible King's Council wasn't believable to me, but my girls enjoyed the story. 

We started reading The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Deedy. But the illustrations and fun text make it a better one on one read aloud than a family read aloud. I'm going to read it with Coconut and Lala when they are next to me and can enjoy the pictures and find a different bedtime story for family read aloud. (I'm thinking of The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson .. . it's a Christmasy story and a Newbery winner) In the meantime, we have been finishing up The Light Princess by George MacDonald.  

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
This came from Amazon this week. I don't know how I discovered it, but when I read the reviews, I knew my children would love it. It came yesterday, and I think we have read it ten times in two days. Coconut has read it twice aloud to me, I've read it aloud, Lala has read it aloud, and the Boy and Dancegirl have each picked it up, read it and giggled, Brent laughed as I read it to the children, and Coconut and Cupcake have been bantering the text back and forth all morning while I've been writing these book reviews. The snarky humor just grabs us, I guess! 

Quick List Books:
Wonton . . . A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw... loved it. If I liked cats, I would definitely buy this book. Very cute.

Hook by Ed Young. Not my favorite Ed Young Book (Lon Po Po and Cat and Rat are much better)

Zombie in Love by Kelly DiPucchio . .  . I think I will get this for our Halloween book collection or maybe Valentines Day. Funny and clever. 

Me . . . Jane by Patrick McDonnell. I liked it more than my children. A great first look into Dr. Jane Goodall's dreams of helping animals in Africa.

Ten Big Toes and a Princess Nose by Nancy Gow
I didn't really like this. The message is good and the illustrations are good, but the poetry seems a bit forced, the phrasing and writing didn't work well with the illustrations (the guy with the schnoz). A much better book with a similar message is Ms. Rubinstein's Beauty by Pep Montserrat. 

Where's Walrus by Stephen Sage

Too juvenile for the children at my house, but a clever idea. The girls laughed out loud at the walrus' antics. 

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg
Lover read this on the couch after the children went to bed, and when I saw him reading I snuggled up next to him and we read side by side, so my opinion might be a little colored by that happy experience! I really liked it. (It kind of reminded me of Uncle Johns Bathroom Reader Plunges Into History with a bit more detail on specific people. Same snarky humor, same focus on outrageous/scandalous information) It's on my "to buy" list. (Partly because I didn't get a chance to read about the first three "personalities". I'll have to read them quick before I turn the book back in, but it is one I think will spark interest in learning more about famous people. (King Tut, Julius Caeser, Cleopatra, Christopher Columbus through Albert Einstein) A bit like Kathleen Krull's Lives of ----- People and What the Neighbor's Thought series, but with more detail. 

Flora's Very Windy Day by Jeanne Birdsall 
I like Matt Phelan's illustrations. Mostly because they remind me of Trisa Tusa (a very very favorite). A sweet story about a sister deciding to "keep" her little brother. I'm thinking this would make a great gift for my little brother! 

Perfect Square by Michael Hall
I read this book, then ordered it from Amazon that same day. It just spoke to me. I have recently been learning that the way I deal with my problems is much more important than the actual problems. My attitude affects my future even more so than the particular problem (big or small). This book embodied this lesson I have been learning over the past several months. 

King Jack and the Dragon by Peter Bently
A cute and sweet story about a little boy and his friends pretending to be dragon fighters during the day and then going home to bed. Too predictable and a bit on the boring side to be a keeper (and too young for my crew). Darling illustrations, though. I like Helen Oxenbury. 

Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator by Mo Willems
Cute, but not my favorite Mo Willems. Great lessons in reading (Amanda has a different library book in each little story) and in finding friends in unexpected places)
I did enjoy the quote: "Well, what do you know, thought Alligator. Books DO beat boredom." 

The Boy and Dancegirl are reading a ton of stuff for their scholar class, including The Scarlet Pimpernel, Man of the Family, and Up From Slavery. The Boy has been listening to Fires of Heaven (for the 5th time) by Robert Jordan. Dancegirl is about 80 pages into The Three Musketeers, because she wants to go to the movie, but I think she is going to throw in the towel (she says it is too boring). Cupcake has been reading magazines (Ask, Odyssey and Cricket) in bed and the Word Eater by Mary Amato and The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, Coconut is finishing up the Fablehaven series and also read the Word Eater by Mary Amato. (We started the Word Eater as a morning read aloud to the both of them, but lost it in the middle, so when we found it this week, they were excited to read it and find out what happens. (... hmmm, maybe that will become a new strategy, lose the book midway, then they will read it on their own when it is rediscovered!). Lala has been reading the Disney Fairy books (She loves all things Vidia), and she enjoys reading books to me that I've already read to her, so this week she has been reading the Doll People and BFG to me. 

So that's a good look at the past week or so through a literary lens. Whew!  

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Doll People by Ann M. Martin

The Doll PeopleThe Doll People by Ann M. Martin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

July 2011

I may have to upgrade this book to four stars. Just for the sake that my daughters LOVE reading it. Sallie and I have discussed so many things as a result of this book: spiders, unconditional family love, do dolls have feelings, my favorite toys from my girlhood, Aretha Franklin's RESPECT (Sallie loves to sing the "sock it to me sock it to me!" part. It is a fabulous book to spark book talks with little girls. I wouldn't put it up there with Charlotte's Web or the Little House books, but my daughters certainly enjoy this book! (and the series as well . . .)

from June 2011:

Sallie brought this book to me and asked that we start reading it in the mornings.  She is LOVING it. She actually read a chapter to me last night BY HERSELF (she usually reads a paragraph to me at each sitting, but more than one page is unprecedented!!) I was tired, and she wanted to read if after the family read aloud, so she offered to read it to me. It was late, but I couldn't resist. I was shocked that she read for so many pages!

updated review:

I finished the book. I can see why Aerie likes it so much. This is her next book club party book. We are going to make clothespin dolls and maybe grill our refreshments (the Funcrafts have a pretend/plastic BBQ). I think it will be quite a fun book club party.

previous review:

Aerie loves the Babysitter's Club books. She reads one a day . . . at least. She picks up a stack each time we go to the library (which can be twice in a week if necessary!) so, we are going to try something by the same author!

View all my reviews

Dragonslayers by Bruce Coville

The DragonslayersThe Dragonslayers by Bruce Coville
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a great read aloud with 7 year old Coconut. A fun story for children ready for chapter books (up through age nine or so.) Knights, girl power princesses, family love, dragons, and humor. We really enjoyed this quick read.

View all my reviews

Little House in the Big WoodsLittle House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Aerie and I read this several years ago. It was one of our first book club parties in AF, so it was five years ago (when she was six years old). She was sure that Daddy would hollow out a tree in the back yard to make a smoke house for our snacks. She loved the book. Sophia and Coco each have loved reading books from these series as well.

Sallie and I just finished it. We picked up an extra large print illustrated edition, which made it fun to take turns reading. when we started the book, Sallie would read one page and I would read the rest. About the middle of the book, she would read an entire chapter aloud to me (while I cleaned up her room or did something else mindless like put on makeup). Now, she is reading chapters aloud to me from other books, even those with smaller print. I think the oversized format gave her confidence that she could read an entire chapter, and now that she knows she can do it, she just does it!

She loved that Laura Ingalls celebrated her fifth birthday in the book, making them the same age. She also liked that Grandma Laura had read the same book when she was a girl and shares a name with Laura Ingalls. She especially loved the stories that are told within chapters.

We read this rather quickly because she was always so eager to read (either with me or to me . . . her room hasn't been this consistently clean in months!) But Sallie made lots of plans to make this a Book Club Party book. We are celebrating Poppy by Avi tomorrow and have to announce our next book. She is having trouble deciding between this book and A Nest For Celeste by Henry Cole. My vote is for Little House in the Big Woods, but we aren't sure yet.

Next we are reading The BFG by Roald Dahl. She giggled and laughed through the first five or so chapters (they are very short.) She also wants to read the Wide Awake Princess by E.D. Baker. But, when she realized today that there are more books in the Laura Ingalls series, she said, "I want to read more if they are as good as Little House in the Big Woods." Oh they are . . . and I can't wait to have another chance to read them with another daughter!

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