30 November 2009

God Gave Us Love

God Gave Us Love
Lisa Tawn Bergren and Laura J. Bryant
Children's Fiction. Bible lesson. Ages 3-7.
Books in this series are:
God Gave Us You

God Gave Us Two
God Gave Us Christmas

God Gave Us Heaven
God Gave Us Love

Some titles in this series have David Hohn instead of Laura J. Bryant as the illustrator, but the style is the same throughout.

A polar bear cub, Little Cub, and her Grampa are spending time together outside. Grampa gently explains to her that God wants us to be kind and loving in the same way that God is kind and loving to us. Even when Little Cub and her brother and sister are not behaving, God still loves them and so do Mama, Papa, and Grampa.

The pictures show some opportunities for Little Cub to be loving or NOT loving: when otters annoy her; when she is tempted to hit her little brother and sister with snowballs; and when the little siblings are getting in her hair. They also show Grampa, Mama, and Papa being nurturing throughout the story.

This would be a good book for a grandparent to read to a grandchild during a quiet time. It might be a book to buy for Valentine's day and read any day of the year to remind us all of God's love.


This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

28 November 2009

Treasured: Knowing God by the Things He Keeps

Treasured: Knowing God by the Things He Keeps
Leigh McLeroy
Adult nonfiction. Bible study/devotional.

I wasn't sure what this book was going to be about from the title. The author started by describing the things left to her in a box by her grandfather then said God treasures certain things as well. She uses this as the launching point for this Bible study or devotional book that is arranged in 13 chapters. Each chapter mentions an object from a Bible story and an object from the author's life that reminds her of that story. The chapters are all quite short, so if the reader is between Bible studies or doesn't want a yearlong devotional book, this is a book that would take two weeks to read as a daily quiet time book. It might be appropriate as a vacation book since it is compact enough to fit in a backpack or suitcase. There is a discussion guide in the back, so it can be used in a group setting or for individual study. Men or women can read the book, but the examples from everyday life in today's world tend to be more female-centered. If a pastor decided to use this book to preach a 13 week set of sermons it would probably be well received. He could include in the bulletin a picture of an object from each chapter. Say, a picture of an olive branch for the Noah's ark chapter, a picture of Joseph's coat of many colors for the Joseph-in-the-well chapter.
Miss McLeroy creates parallels between the Bible and her life, making it a cozy, personal book, but one that encourages the readers to also contemplate how their lives and Bible stories can be compared. I would say: read this book, then pass it along to a friend or family member who could benefit from 13 days of Bible contemplation.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

God Gave Us Christmas

God Gave Us Christmas
Lisa Tawn Bergren and David Hohn
Children's Fiction, Bible Lessons
ages 3-7

Books in this series are:
God Gave Us You
God Gave Us Two
God Gave Us Christmas
God Gave Us Heaven
God Gave Us Love

I see that amazon.com has the author listed as Lisa Tawn for one of these books and Lisa Tawn Bergen for the others, so if you can't find a listing, maybe this is why. I also see that some books in this series have David Hohn as the illustrator and some have Laura J. Bryant. One of them must have started the series and the other replaced the first illustrator. I noticed this because of the words on the cover, but the style and polar bear characters are the same throughout the series.

Little Cub and Mama are polar bears living way up north with Papa and the twin cubs. Little Cub wonders what Christmas is. She thinks it has something to do with presents and Santa Claus. Mama takes her cub on a long tour of the wintry landscape, showing her how all creation declares God's majesty. She explains that God sent Jesus to be the light of the world on that first Christmas day. Jesus is a present for all the world, even grumpy bears. The affection and tenderness of the mother/daughter relationship as Mama gently instructs her child comes through on each page.

I love otters, so as a special bonus I enjoyed the second-banana otters who cavorted in the background throughout the book but didn't say a word.

This book could be used at home or in church to remind children about the true meaning of Christmas.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

24 November 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are
Maurice Sendak
Children's fantasy fiction ages 3-5

I had to read this since it has been something like 20 years since I last cracked open this book. I may go see the movie if I ever have time.
ROWWWR! Did I scare you?
Max is sent to his room and imagines all kinds of monsters that he can command and who love to romp (unlike his mother).
The back flap says it is part one of a trilogy with
2. In the Night Kitchen and
3. Outside Over There.
I think I vaguely remember #2 but not #3. They were published in 1963, 1970, and 1981, respectively. This probably explains why my memory is so poor. I guess I need to get on the library's hold list for #2 and #3. There was a wait for #1 since the movie is now out.

They are short enough, I don't see why, if this is a trilogy, they aren't published as 3 books in 1. I am a bit befuddled by the jacket author saying this is a trilogy. I remember we had a boxed set and it did not include these together. Looking in my library's catalog, I do not see that they are linked together.

I found this commentary:
<Sendak considers Where The Wild Things Are to be the first in a trilogy of books, which also includes In The Night Kitchen (1970) and Outside Over There (1981). Sendak’s trilogy is not a traditional one. The stories stand alone, the characters are unrelated, and the style of illustration differs markedly from one book to the next. Instead, Sendak feels the books are a trilogy because they deal with the same theme: the emotional and psychological life of children seen through a child’s eyes. >

Okay. I guess if the author says so...

P. S. I didn't see any nakedness in this one. It must have been "In the Night Kitchen" that sent the censors into a tizzy.

Disney's Home on the Range

Disney's Home on the Range
narrated by David Jeremiah
audio book (Disney calls it a read-along title)
children 5-8

I have not seen this movie, but the audio book was very entertaining. Can the cows and the other barnyard animals save their farm from foreclosure? It is told in the style of a western tall tale. You almost expect Pecos Bill or Paul Bunyan to swagger on in. Sound effects and voices from the stars of the movie make this a hit for the whole family or a single person that is headed to Grandma's house in the family car. Chuckle along and the car ride will seem shorter. It comes with a 24-page book so you can read along if you are not the driver.

Thanks a Million

Thanks a Million
Nikki Grimes and Cozbi A. Cabrera

Children's poetry, ages 7 - adult.

I was looking for a poem to read for Thanksgiving and found the right one at the end of this book - "A Round of Thanks". It is not particularly religious and not particularly serious. It is just right for the modern family composed of people with differing religious viewpoints who want some kind of grace., but nothing King James-like. There is an appropriate picture of an African American family sitting around the table giving thanks.

If you are looking for other Thanksgiving poems, see if your library has the current issue or back issues of Ideals magazine. Many times I have recommended Ideals to people who want something they can read aloud at a family or religious gathering as a grace, devotion, or benediction.

A teaching and activity guide for Nikki Grimes' book can be found here.

Let's call him Lau-wiliwili-humuhumu-nukunuku-nukunuku-āpua'a-'oi'oi

Let's call him Lau-wiliwili-humuhumu-nukunuku-nukunuku-āpua'a-'oi'oi
Tim Myers and Daryl Arakaki
children's fiction ages 3-8

I listened to this audio CD in the car. It would take a brave soul to try to pronounce the words in this book!
I think they wrote this just so Hawai'ians can boast about their language. One side of the fish family wants to name the baby after their traditional names. The other side of the family insists on their way. The names get longer and longer and funnier and funnier. Can they work out a compromise?

If you are headed to Hawai'i or just like studying culture, this is a good audio book to get you started on listening to the Hawai'ian language and along the way you can find out about the ocean wildlife.

18 November 2009

Vote for Me All about Civics

Vote for Me All about Civics
Kristen Hall and Bev Luedecke

Children's Fiction ages 5-7

This falls in the category of fiction-but-meant-to-teach-something like nonfiction.

The critters of Beastieville return in this educational book. One runs for class president. The beasts make promises. Who will win. Democracy simplified.

This series has a lot going for it:
1. the illustrations are rather nice in a Hallmark/American Greetings kind of way
2. vocabulary words in the back
3. discussion questions in the back
4. simple and well written topics
5. a map
6. dramatis personae
7. sturdy reinforced binding

Now that I think of it, these are exactly the things I look for in a book, whether a children's book or adult's book.
This is a well matched team of author and illustrator and I wish them many happy years together (so does Scholastic).
Buy this series for your elementary school library or public library.

My Little Pony: Friends Are Never Far Away!

My Little Pony: Friends Are Never Far Away! Jr. Cine-Manga by Tokyopop

Children's Fiction

Ages 3-6

Cute. Friendly. Girly. Insubstantial. I just read this and can't remember much about it. The Pegasus ponies are shy and the landbound ponies want to be friends. Can their worlds come together? Giggle. Wee! Yes! We all know that it has to have a happy ending.
For its target audience (5 year old girls) this is exactly what they want. This book was not meant for the rest of us.

In the Night Garden

In the Night Garden
Barbara Joosse and Elizabeth Sayles
children's fiction ages 3-7

This is another book recommended by our local park district. It is a joyful, imaginative book about three girls who are pretending as they get ready for bed. Animals! Stars! Oceans!

Hopefully this isn't too stimulating of a book for a bedtime story. If you want to do some lucid dreaming you might read this book for ideas on what to think about when drifting off.

This would be a good one to take on a camping trip if you can fit it in with your other stuff and keep it dry!

My memory was playing tricks on me and I got this title confused with "In the Night Kitchen" by Maurice Sendak, but it does not deserve this mistreatment. Sorry Barbara and Elizabeth.

Gogo's Pay Day

Gogo's Pay Day
Anne Rockwell
Children's Fiction ages 5-8.

This is an unusual topic for a children's book - banking and how budgeting and loans work.

It is made more palatable by featuring a naive clown who spends all his paycheck money without thinking about paying the rent, paying for food, etc. We owned this book when I was a kid and I remember it being kind of odd. I see that the copyright is 1978.

I do remember the day that I thought I had enough money for a fancy pencil, then the store clerk added tax and I didn't have enough money. I was probably about 7 years old. That was confusing, and if a little kid can learn about budgeting and banking at age 7 by reading a book about a clown then Anne Rockwell has accomplished her goal. I wonder if there is another children's book that talks about sales tax?

I see from the back flap description that this book is a sequel to "Gogo's Car Breaks Down". I didn't know about that book, and unfortunately my library doesn't own it, so I guess I won't find out more about Gogo. The library probably owned it back in 1978. I really don't know whether to recommend this book or not. If mommy or daddy work in a bank it would make sense to read this book. Other kids may not find it to be interesting.
P. S. I see this one listed in our catalog:
"Tara pays up"! by Kirsten Larsen and Paige Billin-Frye.
Gr. 1-3. Tara finally saves $8 to buy a kit at the crafts store only to find that the cashier wants another 80 cents. Explaining the concept of paying taxes for city services, Tara's older sister shells out the change and makes a deal: Tara must pay her 10 cents every time she uses a city service. Soon those dimes mount up, as Tara learns that she uses tax-paid services every time she goes to school, turns on the faucet, reads a library book, or even walks on the sidewalk. Nicely paced, the story imparts information without becoming bogged down in a civics lesson. Small sidebars on many pages provide additional facts, but most readers will stick with the narrative, which shows that tax dollars go toward many services that children use. This paperback will be a good addition to community-service units in the primary grades. CarolynPhelan.

From BookList, August 1, 2006, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Christmas Sweater

Christmas Sweater: a Novel
Glenn Beck
Adult fiction novella

At 284 pages and 5.5 x 7.5 inches, this little book can be read in one day to help someone get into the spirit of Christmas. What if someone gave you a present that you really didn't like, but that was all they had? What if that person died and you never had a chance to say how sorry you were that you were ungracious and inconsiderate? We all have regrets like this. For author Glenn Beck this story is too real. It is based on an event that happened in his childhood with the death of his mother, although he changed some details.

This book joins others in the tradition of other Christmas novellas like "The Christmas Shoes" by

Fairy Houses

Fairy Houses
Tracy Kane
Children's fiction ages 4-7

Kristen doesn't know whether to believe in fairies or not, but she tries setting up a house for them in case they are real. This is a lovely, imaginative book that can easily inspire a family to use their imaginations outdoors to make fairy houses. Along the way children and adults will rediscover the beauty of leaves, sticks, acorns, pine needles, etc.

This was on a list of books recommended by our local park district. This book should be on the bookcase of nature and fantasy lovers. Homeschoolers, scouts, 4-H troops, etc. can use this book to get ideas about nature study. I especially liked that there are suggestions for how to change a fairy house with the seasons and what animals might come to live in a fairy house (a toad, a chipmunk, etc). You can even adapt a fairy house for oceanside, desert, tundra, and more.

The Library (by Sarah Stewart)

The Library
Sarah Stewart and David Small
ages 3-6 or purchase for an adult book lover

Why haven't I read this book before? It tells the true story of book lover Elizabeth Brown who LOVES books. What should she do with all these books? Create a library! It is inspirational. It is very well illustrated. It is beloved by librarians.

For years I have seen a poster on the wall of my library featuring a scene from this book, but did not catch on that there was a great book waiting to be discovered.
I recommend obtaining a copy of this cover image as a poster, or finding a t-shirt with this image. I wonder if they market such a t-shirt?
The words are okay, but the pictures are great in this book.

12 November 2009

Hands off my comics!

Dayton Daily News, 4 October 1948, page 15

Booksale, 1980's style

photo courtesy of Dayton Metro Library

The author of this book sale book appears to be Len Deighton.

10 November 2009

Foam Bookmarks

Note to children's librarians, camp counselors, Sunday School teachers, art teachers, etc.:

Foam does NOT make for good bookmarks, especially if you glue layers of foam onto more foam. A good bookmark is only as thick as a piece of paper or cloth. Foam is too thick. It may warp the pages of a book or break the binding. They also don't stay in books very well.

Use foam for door hangers, sun visors, and Christmas ornaments, but if you want to do a bookmark craft please use thick or thin paper. Glitter is okay. Stickers are okay. Photo paper is okay. You can coat the bookmark with contact paper if you want, but please don't use foam.

Please don't give me any plastic canvas bookmarks, either. Too thick. Make a Kleenex box instead.

Thin needlepoint-on-cloth bookmarks are welcome.

Thank you for your consideration.

http://www.orientaltrading.com/ Please don't order bookmark craft kits from Oriental Trading Company!

09 November 2009

Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3

Chicka Chicka 1, 2, 3

Bill Martin, Michael Sampson, and Lois Ehlert.

Children's fiction, ages 2-6.

"Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" is a beloved children's favorite and this sequel delivers. Numbers, not letters, climb the tree this time and there is a surprising hero that saves the day. Older children will understand the ending. Parents, teachers, or librarians may have to explain the ending to the youngest listeners. This book is a good one for acquainting children with numbers used in order counting up and counting down.
I see that my library also has a video version of this with narration. This book is paired with other books about numbers.

03 November 2009

Sheer Abandon

Sheer Abandon
Penny Vincenzi
Adult Fiction

Three 18 year old English girls are having a gap year. One of them gets pregnant, gives birth while flying home from Thailand, and abandons the baby at the airport. Sixteen years pass. A lovely young girl wonders about her mother. We, as the reading audience, are left in suspense as to the identify of the mother. The book follows the lives of the three successful, glamorous, rich 34 year old women and the 16 year old girl.

The author does a great job keeping the reader guessing until revealing the identity of the mother 2/3 of the way through the book. Even then, there is a major twist toward the end and we don't know how all the threads are going to tie together in the end. The suspense and glitter reminds me of V. C. Andrews, but with none of the creepiness of and Andrews book. I understand why this author is so popular in the U. K. and would recommend her to our U. S. audience.

I don't know why a book that is more than 600 pages is listed as summer reading. This would be too bulky to take to the beach, but it would be good reading for back at the house in the air conditioning.

Going Home: Brides of Webster County Number 1

Going Home: Brides of Webster County Number 1
Wanda E. Brunstetter
Adult Christian Fiction

A yodelling, joke-telling young lady runs away from her restrictive Amish home hoping to make it big as an entertainer. Years later her husband dies and she comes home to rural Webster County, Missouri. Can she be sober enough for the community? Will they lighten up?

This is a clean, gentle read appropriate for a conservative audience, especially teen girls and elderly ladies. If patrons have already read Grace Livingston Hill, Beverly Lewis, and Jan Karon you might recommend this author. It was a tad bland and predictable, but safe and pleasant. I thought that a few questions were unresolved in the end, so that was disappointing.

Here is a hint: Why is the series called "Brides of Webster County"? Do you think that she might get married in the end?

I might read another book by this author, but not in this series and not right away.


Many Ohio libraries have levies on the ballots today. If you would like to know if your area has a levy on today's election calendar see:


02 November 2009


Dav Pilkey
children's fiction ages 4-8.

School Library Journal says "This may be the funniest Halloween story ever written".

Oscar (Oscar Myer that is) is a dachshund. The other dogs laugh at how low and long he is. His mother is no help, calling him her little Vienna sausage and her frankfurter. Will he find his own special niche in life like Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or Nestor the Long Eared Donkey?

If you have been grossed out by Dav Pilkey's other works, like Captain Underpants, don't worry about this one. The Hallo-weiner is just plain funny with no poop jokes. It is not scary at all. Re-reading this book, I see that it is one that you can have children try to find the cats or the jack-o-lantern on each page.

This is a good story to read aloud at Halloween. I read this a few years ago accompanied by Ginger, the dachshund, who was a hit at storytime. For dachshund lovers, try also Pretzel by H. A. and Margret Rey of Curious George fame.