Sunday, May 30, 2010

A little Sunday Peace

At church this morning we sang a beautiful song that spoke to me and I'm compelled to share it out:

The Peace of the Earth (Guatemalan traditional-translation)

The peace of the earth be with you, the peace of the heavens too;
The peace of the rivers be with you, the peace of the oceans too.
Deep peace falling over you.

The peace of the earth be with you, the peace of the heavens too;
The peace of the rivers be with you, the peace of tthe oceans too.
God's peace growing in you.

We chanted this together as a congregation-a capella and it sounded amazing!
While snooping around the net, trying to locate a version of the song,  I discovered this cool
organic farm blog, Peace of the Earth Farm.  I love the gorgeous vegetable photos.

So far my weekend has been great, with lots of reading.  I finished Restoring Harmony,  Joelle Anthony's new book.  For a dystopia novel it was filled with great hope.  I still have reviews to write about Fablehaven (Brandon Mull) and my day in the presence of the Dalai Lama!  Right now though I need to go help my husband paint a portion of our house.  Yeah-sounds like fun, in 90 degree weather! What fabulous things are you reading or taking care of today?

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Year the Swallows Came Early

by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

Sadly, this lovely little book was left languishing on my bookshelf all year.  I finally pulled it off, finished it and now can return it back to my school library shelf.  Next year I'll be able to talk many students into reading this book. 

Eleanor "Groovy" Robinson is a precocious, eleven-year-old girl living near a California beach.  She loves to cook, keeps a journal of her cooking ideas and recipes and her best friend is a boy, Frankie.  The description from the very first page is striking: 
"We lived in a perfect stucco house, just off the sparkly Pacific, with a lime tree in the backyard and pink and yellow roses gone wild around a picket fence."
     There is chaos among this "perfect" setting, of course, and  Groovy's dad is soon picked up by the local police officer as they are walking out of a shop.  The rest of the story unfolds as Groovy comes to accept the reasons behind her father's arrest, her anger and eventually her understanding and forgiveness.  Weaved throughout are Groovy's dreams to go to cooking school and her great-grandmother, Eleanor's gift, which has something to do with everything. 

     There are many things to love about this story including her mother's faith in the daily horoscopes and that a good makeover can change everything.  Frankie's story has a touch of crisis as well and it is interesting to watch the friends help and hold back; counting on each other to know the right thing to do.  The characters are very well done and the setting does seem so picture perfect. 

My favorite quote introduces Groovy's great-grandmother:
You see, your great-grandmother was very smart.  She had so many books stacked up along the walls of her apartment that it was hard to walk without accidententally kicking over a pile of them.  Some of the piles were as high as my head.  She always said that good writers are even better readers, and she was a great reader.  She probably liked reading better than talking to most people. (81)
This wonderful character description could describe me or my friends!!

And my second favorite quote reminds me of my own childhood in a small town:
Here's the good thing about living in a small town: You get to know most everyone.  Here's the bad thing about living in a small town: You get to know most everyone. (154)

I know many students who will enjoy this book and its connection to family and dealing with a family  member's arrest and jail time.

Highly Recommended for elementary-middle grades
5/5 peaceful stars

Stroll over to April's Cafe of Dreams and find all kinds of great stories about author Kathryn Fitzmaurice.
At books are my thing, Tina says this about The Year the Swallows Came Early!
Click for the author's website.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden and The Year the Swallows Came Eary by K. Fitzmaurice

I've not read one book yet for the 451 Challenge I signed up for, which is such a shame because it's an interesting challenge and I only have 6 to read.  I'm finishing up the very wonderful elementary chapter book, The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice but am also a few pages into The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden.  I'm going to share a few lines from both today for my teaser selection.

The bells on the glass door to the Swallow chimed as I pushed it open.  Inside the smell of flour tortillas and cinnamon greeted me.  Add to that all the onions, peppers, and chilies heating up on the stove, and you could tell it was th ekind of place people liked coming to.   p. 31   The Year the Swallows Came Early (2009)

The garden was light, but it was a young light without sun, clear and stained green by the shrubs and trees.  The peace I had felt at the gates of Les Oillets filled me again and I could have whistled like the birds for well-being and joy.  Then, as I stood there in my pajamas looking down, a man came down the iron steps.  p. 32       The Greengage Summer (1958)
Two very different books but similar feelings evoked from both random chosen passages...I didn't notice the similarities until I typed out the second one.  And I love that she's wearing her pajamas! 

To check out the 451 Challenge-click here.
To check out Should be reading's Teaser Tuesday-click here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Time for change-Watch Food, Inc.

     My family has had an amazing weekend with both my moms here and our other long distance teenage daughter.  After the craziness of yesterday; bike race, bridal shower, 3 graduation open houses (this is what happens when your husband works with youth in several different capacities) and a feast of a dinner that I whipped up last night-today (Sunday) was a day to kick back a little.  I've still managed to do some loads of laundry, hanging some on the line outside to dry and finishing yesterdays dishes, I was able to read in our backyard hammock for over an hour-I did fall asleep for some of that time but oh, well!  As the wind blew up and seemed destined to storm we headed inside to watch Food, Inc., which has been on our shelf for some time now.  We've seen Fast Food Nation  and read several books on the food crisis in our country but this one brought added knowledge as well as frustration, fear and a renewed interest in making the best food choices we can make.  This topic generally brings wrath and fury from odd places but it is one of such great magnitude-we eat every day and it seems like a basic human right to know the food we are eating will not kill us. 

If you are unfamiliar with Food, Inc. written by Robert Kenner- here is a synopsis from IMDb:

Did you know that it only takes 48 days for a chicken to go to market. Is this natural? This film explores how food is grown, and the concerns that people have, such as the e-coli outbreak that seems to happen every year. I am a lover of meat, but after this film you will want to change some of your practices like switching to Organic etc. This film also explores demand for certain products that are not Genetically modified.

We all have to eat but we can make decisions based on facts, instead of based on perception. People need to be aware that their consequences may have dire repercussions, so if you need to eat, and we all do, then go out and see this.


     I've been a local  food advocate for years, which began at my grandmother's sink, watching her rinse vegetables from the grocery store in her sink with a cold water bath mixed with some vinegar (who needs that fancy veggie spray).  I feel blessed to come from a long line of happy gardeners, who've paid attention to where food comes from.  I'm a huge fan of any farmer's market and have made my husband stop, while on vacation, at fruit and veggie stands just to pick up some local produce and he does, because he has a similar family background.  This movie made clear again how important it is to know where our food comes from because everyday chemical companies are selling us processed food for profit.Of course they are trying to make a profict-they're in business-but it is hard to fathom how deep it runs and how they just do not care. 

    This documentary traces our food controversy to Iowa corn farmers and the farm bill, which gave birth to High Fructose Corn Syrup (a very yucky sugar substitute made from corn and produced to make food cheaper to purchase).  Since my husband is a runner,  he read about HFCS and how prevalent it is so many, many products.  Check your bread, cereals, granola bars-even things you might think of as "healthy" and you still might find the dreaded HFCS as one of the number one ingredients.
    The meat industry is the next focus and how all that "cheap" Iowa corn is shipped across the country to cattle feed lots.  Cows aren't meant to eat corn and we are forever changing species to fit the needs of these huge companies.  Chickens farms (those massive productions) run by Tyson and Purdue are shown up close.  One farmer takes us  inside her huge chicken house and shows how many of the birds die (so many crammed together) but also how these poor chickens can hardly walk more than a few steps because they've been genetically modified to have larger breasts.  The chickens literally topple over after a step or two.  This is the part where I start talking to the" television"!!
Much of the same ground is covered in  Super Size Me by Morgan Spurlock and King Korn, though Food Inc. presents a broader picture of our food problems and as my son said, "this should be required high school viewing."  People need to know this stuff so if you haven't watched this movie or any others about our deterioting food systems, I encourage you to watch one because one will lead to another as  you will want to know a little more.  It is disgusting but crucial and critical. 
Many of us can make a difference with our buying power-everyday.

Take a stand; Take a difference.

Plant a garden.
Buy local.
Support farmer's markets
and local farmers.
Buy organic.
Read labels.
Take a step away from fast food.

     Pay attention to legistation about food. Within the last few years the word" natural" lost any real meaning. Products sold as natural do not really have to be natural...just partially natural. what ??? i'm not kidding!
Spend time online researching companies where your food comes from-many of them have slick ads showing
how green they are, what great strides they are making but browsing websites gives you articles such as this one.
Other helpful websites/blogs:

Local (helps locate a local market/CSA near you)
The Healthy Palate blog-I discovered this lovely little blog while researching this post.
Moms Rising website/blog
Okay, I've had my say...
Have a healthy Monday!!
Next up in our informative movie viewing-The Cove.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Saturday Round-up

(biking image courtesy of Robert F. Balazik)
     I am supposed to be off during a biathalon with my family but we had some bike problems this morning so my stepdaughter is riding my bike.  My poor husband is really disappointed that I'm not with them but I'm only a tiny bit sad-personally I love it when they go off on adventures (sometimes) with out me.  This is one of those days.  I have a wedding shower to get ready for and dinner to prepare for my stepmother who will be at my house right after the wedding shower so the bike race was just adding to much to the mix.  I owe him a bike ride, just the two of us, later in the week.  Like he can talk-he's been in a play recently and every night he's been gone-thankfully tonight is the last performance and he'll be back home in the evenings.

This free time allows me to shower for the shower, prep for dinner, read a litte and blog...can't beat getting all that done while the family is off biking.

    I finished Three Wishes by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones and Pam Ferdinand a week or so ago and even though I'm not a big fan of bio's or memoirs, I enjoyed this book.  The women are strong and their stories, told in alternating chapters, are touching.  All three women were very successful in careers but had not found love.  All three came to a turning point where, while they wanted a partner in life, they knew they wanted to be mothers.  They all go about it from different angles and they don't all even know each other yet but, through vials of sperm purchased by Beth, they eventually meet and form supportive friendships.  The story of how the spearm vials work as a catalyst for many goals is often humourous and reflective.  I loved reading their individual thoughts on love and what it feels like to want to be a mother as well as what it was like as they become mothers.

 Two things that struck me was  the option of adoption never entered the conversation,and  money was never an issue for them (at different times they are constantly heading to tropical islands, secluded cabins or climbing destinations) and most people during times of stress don't get this carefree option.  I myself am an advocate of the natural birthing process so there were some birthing choices made that bothered me but this is, of course, an individual choice.  All three experience tons of genetic testing, which I  wasn't aware of all the possibilites and ramifications late-age births would create.  I liked this book but I didn't love it; if any of these topics interest you though-give it a try!  The cover drew me in and the women's stories made me finish it.
Pam's Personal Reflections review (thumbs up)
Beth's Book Review Blog's review (thumbs down)

I still need to share my Dalai Lama experience and review Brandon Mull's Fablehaven.  Right now I'm reading The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice.  How can I not love a book with a main character named "Groovy"?

Have you played a round of pac-man on google yet?  Gotta try it!!

Happy blissful Saturday...

Friday, May 21, 2010

3 Billy Goats Gruff-Fairy Tale Fridays

Tif Talks Books hosts fairy tale fridays and today is discussing The Philosopher's Stone by H.C. Andersen.  I've never heard of this fairy tale but I do know the idea from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and after reading Tif's post I have to agree-J.K. did it better.

I am finishing up our fairy tale unit with 2nd grade students this week and we've had such a blast acting out Little Red Riding Hood and talking about all the elements that make up a good fairy tale.  Acting out the tale has really  made a difference in their understanding. And they love wearing a costume-although their was some heated disputes about the lead role!  I wish I'd taken photos or flipcam video of some of the skits.  There's a Wolf at the Door with its 5 tales has them excited due to its fun content and size-they love that it is oversized!!

I did read Three Billy Goats Gruff retold and illustrated by Janet Stevens to a small group of students this week.  This is a great retelling, with funny illustrations and no real harm done to the troll.  My students love to "read" along with me (don't all kids?) and so anything with a refrain is a definite thumbs-up and this one they could keep up with the troll and the billy goats.  The picture of the biggest billy goat, in his motorcycle jacket and John Lennon shades, brought down the house with laughter! There is something special Stevens has added using a frog , which takes a moment for the kids to figure out-good thinking skills!!  Next year I'm going to extend this fairy tale unit and act this one out as well.   Right now I am so ready for summer!!

Have you read any fairy tales this week?  Fly, pop, hop or click over to Tif Talks Books and check out her discussion!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Pair of Red Clogs

by Masako Matsuno
Purple House Press
(1960, 1988)


A pair of old cracked wooden clogs!
I found them last night in a storeroom of my house
when I was looking for a box to send a new pair of clogs
to my little granddaughter.

Matsuno descibes the new pair she is sending to her granddaughter, far away and then remembers back to when she received the red lacquered pair in the box. 

One evening,
when I was as young as my granddaughter is now,
I went shopping with my mother.

And then she describes the store, the experience of picking this pair of clogs (she was only allowed to pick one pair) and how they sounded as she walked (kara koro, kara koro). It is a thrilling shopping trip and once she has them she joins in a traditional Japanese game and the red lacquered clogs are damaged.  They no longer go kara koro, kara koro as she walks and she gets them dirty in order to force mother to buy new ones now. 

The story is very well done showing an Asian child with a very normal situation that all children can relate to and predict the outcome.  The illustrations are beautifully drawn by Kazue Mizumura, with Japanese textures, dress and custums demonstrated throughout. I wished I could have located pages online to show some scenes from inside the book. This  makes a wonderful multicultural choice.  I thought the book was brand new until I looked up the copyright for this post.  It was new at my public library and definetely does not look dated. 
5/5 peaceful stars
Highly recommended for elementary

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Two Picture Books-You Choose.

Picture Book A
Moon Rabbit (2009)
This is a delightful tale of companionship featuring a young city bunny; "Little Rabbit liked living in the city.  She had her own place to stay, her favorite cafe, and so many things to see and do."  Sometimes the city gets to be too much and she heads out of town to the country (a nice quiet park) where she sits under a tree and relaxes.  She hears beautiful night music and goes in search of the source, brown rabbit  playing (it's always a musician causing trouble)  Ahh, it is simple retelling of country mouse/city mouse but so beautifully told and illustrated through printmaking by Natalie Russell.  The illusrations are striking with her use of unique colors and patterns.  I've looked through the book several times now after our initial read-aloud and the illustrations draw me into each page.  Esme writes about it here and has it on her best books of 2009 list.

Picture Book B
The Knitting of Elizabeth Amelia(2009)
This is a sweet story about the love a mother gives to her children.  "Elizabeth Amelia was made of wool.  Just where the wool came from no one knew. But her mother found it tucked into a trunk in the attic and took it out and knitted Elizabeth Amelia just the way she wanted her: with apricot-colored arms and sunlit hair and a sky-blue petticoat that she never had to take off."  Because Elizabeth Amelia is made of wool other students at school love to cuddle up to her as they sit in their school room benches-they find her differences appealing.  She grows up, meets a hansome dancing guy, marries him and begins a family of her own, using apricot scraps from her feet. Reminiscent of Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, the mother keeps giving until she's lost a good bit of herself.  Oh, what we give with love to our children.  Written by Patricia Lee Gauch and illustrated by Barbara Lavellee, an Alaskan artist and illustrator (Mama, do you love me?) .

Peaceful Girl and I enjoyed reading both books but we did have a favorite.  Which one would you pick?

His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

Today this advocate for peace is speaking close to home and
my husband and I are biking over this morning to hear him speak. 
This  morning he will be part of a panel on violence in the school
systems and this afternoon he will give the keynote address.
Read about it in my hometown newspaper.
Check back later for my experience!!
Have a blissful day!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Trip to the library

I just got back from our local little library and I literaly filled my bags-one library bag and a second one from the used book store attached to our library.  Oh, my!! 
Here's what I got from the children's section:

Fantastic Nonfiction

If Stones Could Speak; Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge by Marc Aronson
What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? (A Green Activity Book About Reuse) by Anna Alter

Picture Books

The Travel Game by John Grandits; illustrated by R.W. Alley
A Pair of Red Clogs by Masako Matsuno; illustrated by Kazue Mizumura
The Knitting of Elizabeth Amelia by Patricia Lee Gauch; illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
Moon Rabbit by Natalie Russell
To The Beach by Thomas Docherty

What a haul of amazingly great books!  My seven-year-old second grader has become such a girl of discovery so I picked a lot of nonfiction.  I also liked to find good nonfiction for my school library and this is a fantastic way to research them before I buy them from Titlewave.  Nonfiction is expensive and it is sometimes difficult to tell how hard the text is without previewing it. 

We will be happily reading tonight!
Congratulations to Kay of My Random Acts of Reading won
my ARC of She's So Dead to Us by Kieren Scott!!
I've begun Fablehaven by Brandon Mull and I love it!!


Friday, May 14, 2010

Fairy Tale Fridays

     Okay yes, I know Friday is almost over but I have had a very busy day!  Not quite a Cinderella kinda day but busy.  I didn't get home until after seven and my first assignment was to finish Three Wishes so I can give it back to my friend, Tina.  I can cross it off my list-check. 
     Tif at Tif Talks Books hosts Fairy Tale Fridaysand she wrote about Three Billy Goats Gruff, one of my very favorite tales.  She talks about how that story just begs to be read aloud and I agree.  My son-you know, the 15-yr-old, when he was little, loved acting out that very tale at a nearby park that happens to have a wooden bridge over part of the playground.  He would giggle uncontrollably as we traipsed over the bridge taking turns as the troll.  Oh, the good old days when he was easily amused!!
     My fairy tale project with second graders is winding down with several dramatic re-enactments of Little Red Riding Hood talking place in the library this week.  We have two more stories to cover from There's a Wolf at the Door but I do plan on fitting in Three Billy Goats Gruff at the tail end.  Acting them out I think, has really helped students remember the sequence of events.  I don't have a favorite version of this and I think that is because I prefer one that you might find in a big, old, dusty fairy tale book.  I did find this toe-tapping, hip hop video...too bad I can't show it to students.  They would love it.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Look Again


     I think every parent's worst nightmare would be to have your child stolen; taken away in the dead of the night by some monster of a person...oh, right, that's my awful reaccuring dream.  Lisa Scottoline takes an adopting parent's worst nightmare and crafts this very beautiful story around it.  I loved getting to know Ellen Glesson as she moves from the joys of juggling single-parenting her son, Will, to the demands of a full-time reporting job.  Her comfortable world begins to crack just a little the day she spots one of those "Have you seen this child?" flyer and the child's photo looks remarkably like Will.  She tosses the flyer away only retrieving it seconds later.  She becomes fixated on looking into Will's adoption, driving here and there across the East Coast locating family members of the birth mother's. 
    I knew things were not quite right when the adoption lawyer turned up dead but that was only a small tip of the rest of the mystery involving Will's legal parents.  I so enjoyed it and at times didn't want to put it down.  It was supposed to be my lighter book sandwiched between Little Bee by Chris Cleave and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, both excellent books on serious topics.  It was lighter but fun and exciting as well.  I noticed from checking out her website, Scottoline has a a new book out, Think Twice.  I have a lot of books in line to read first but I know I will look for other books by her, including this new one.
"Mommy, look!"  Will called out, running toward her with a paper in his hand.  His bangs blew off his face, and Ellen flashed on the missing boy from the white card in the mail.  The likeness startled her before it dissolved in a wave of love, powerful as blood. p. 2 Look Again
This is a story about a mother's love and how far that love will push you to go beyond normal and  find the truth.  There are shocking surprises along Ellen's journey to uncover the truth about her son yet it wasn't so scary that I couldn't sleep at night.  She has an interesting love twist and a really wicked coworker bringing her misery but her role as a mother is definetely the strongest.  Doesn't the cover pull you in a little also.  This is the paperback cover of the one I have while the hardcover has a bright red cover with no picture. 
3.5/5 peaceful stars

Check out these other reviews:
Mimi and Christina at 2 Girls 1 Book review.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Book Thief

by Markus Zusak

     Watch this fantastic video [below] of Markus Zusak discussing his book. He has a sexy accent and he talks about the book with such passion. I loved that this book is set from a German village giving us the opportunity to see their take on Hitler's Germany (it wasn't all Yeah Heil Hitler) and I enjoyed death as the narrator. It gave me a sense of peace at death's interaction in our daily lives.
     This book like Chris Cleave's Little Bee is about having hope in the midst of waiting. I highly recommend this book and plan to read other Zusak novels because of his ability to create such real characters and twist the storyline around.  If you, like me, let this one slip by-go find a copy and read it.  You won't be disappointed.

5/5 peaceful stars
Highly Recommended for HS and adult audience
Maw Books review of The Book Thief (2008)

p.s. I received this book in 2007 as an ARC (before I even blogged and knew what an advanced reader's copy really was); I passed it on to my son instead and then let it languish on my bookshelf!!

Teaser Tuesday-Three Wishes

     This is a book I've wanted to read for a few weeks.  My friend, Tina found it at the library and is letting me read it first!!  Don't you just love a good book-loving friend!  I finished The Book Thief this afternoon at peaceful girl's gymnastic lesson so I am anxious to get into this book tonight. 

Here's my teaser:
"You have everything you need to calm yourself, even when the world around you is nuts," I told a class in Newark.
"Yeah, right," a tenth grader scoffed at me.  "I just breathe, and that makes everything better.  You the one who's nuts."   ~p. 29 Three Wishes; A True Story of Good Friends, Crushing Heartbreak, and Astonishing Luck on Our Way to Love and Motherhood  by Carey Goldberg, Beth Jones, and Pamela Ferdinand

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!
Just do the following:

  1. Grab your current read

  2. Open to a random page

  3. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.
  4. Be careful not to include spoilers.  You don't want to give away too much information.
  5. Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Don't forget...enter to win this interesting tale of high school cliques, hot guys and mean girls.
Click here for a chance to win She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

ARC Giveaway...She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

To enter become a follower of this blog and leave me a comment with your contact information.  That's it! 

****contest open to U.S. citizens only.
*** ends Monday, May 9th.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Little Red Riding Hood/Trina Schart Hyman/Fairy Tale Fridays

Tif Talks Books hosts Fairy Tale Fridays and as I've been spending my Springtime immersed in fairy tale discussions with 2nd grade students I love to play along.

This week I believe she is discussing The Three Bears, which I did read with students.  They thought Goldilocks was pretty rude for breaking and entering and then breaking more things.  They said she should have apologized!! 

I'm going to focus on a different fairy tale though as it is one very dear to my heart.  A few months after moving from one state to another it was my daughter's birthday and an amazing friend sent her a handmade red cape and a copy of Trina Schart Hyman's Little Red Riding Hood.  If my scanner worked I would show you the very first illustration which has Red Riding Hood sitting on a bench, reading a book.  It starts in the familiar way transporting us immedietely "Once upon a time there was a little girl named Elisabeth who lived with her mother in a house on the edge of the village."  Red Riding Hood is being raised by her single this why the wolf picks her?   These were, after all, early tales of morality. 

     I love the illustrations in the book and the story is very well-told but I always question this tale (and other fairy tales as well) because it can be so gory with the whole gutting of the wolf at the hands of the male woodcutter, which then leads to Red and Grandmother being "reborn."  Fairly dramatic, yes. This version does all that but somehow Hyman's whimsical illustrations make the grimness  fade and in the end Grandmother and Red sit down and have some afternoon refreshments after the woodcutter rescues them. (Note: In the earliest versions of Little Red the girl is able to outwit the wolf herself but later centuries believed it was important to have a male figure come and rescue the helpless little girl.)

     Red Riding Hood reminds herself, as she is walking back home, "I will never wander off the forest path again, as long as I live.  I should have kept my promise to my mother."  She is comforted by the fact that she has "minded her manners, and had always said 'good morning,' 'please,' and 'thank you."   So she could have been killed by the predator wolf but thank heavens she was always polite!!  See why I love this retelling-it has such spunk and I truly love this illustrator.  She has illustrated other fairy tales but this is her only retelling. 
My Little Red Riding Hood girl with the handmade cape from Verda!

Click here for her long  bibliography.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Little Bee Activism

We don't want to tell you WHAT HAPPENS in this book.
It is a truly SPECIAL STORY and we don't want to spoil it.
NEVERTHELESS, you need to know enough to buy it, so we will just say this:
This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice, the kind of choice we hope you never have to face. Two years later, they meet again - the story starts there ...
Once you have read it, you'll want to tell your friends about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens. The magic is in how the story unfolds.  ~Good Reads Synopsis

This is the warning that comes with the book and I plan to stick to it but that makes it difficult to actually review and/or talk about the book other than with people who've already read it.  My thoughts are if you can handle the reality of this book then you should read it. I think it should be required reading for everyone.  
 We are blessed to live in a country where our civil rights are guaranteed.  Justice is not always what it should be here in the states but our biggest problems stem from natural disasters, stock market prices and occassional groups of terrorists rather than kangaroo courts.   We haven't had an actual war on our soil for about 146 years. Yet in many countries human rights issues are very real and often insane.  I do believe that we live in a much larger global world than our parents' generation but we still have only  a vague view on how business is conducted in many countries.  Chinese workers get paid aproximately $3.00 a day for producing goods sold at stores here in the U.S. And when a country rich in oil sells that oil through a corrupt and greedy government the people of the land are the victims in so many ways.  When we pump gas into our cars we don't see the long history of what it took to get that oil here.  We need to pay more attention to how that oil steadily streams into our internal combustion engines. With BP's recent oil spill in the Gulf Coast we should again, unrelentingly, be looking for alternative ways to fuel our cars.  We should find a way to make trains efficient at transporting us all over this country.  Instead we continue the status quo while people in oil rich lands continue to suffer, despite the oil, because of their opressive governments and big oils willingness to deal with zealots, and we don't really know the half of it. 

Seriously read this book because "when the men come" we need to be less oblivious and a little more prepared!! 
We all need a Little Bee and a Batman in our lives to remind us the world needs our help.
Click here for Chris Cleave's website.
Be Peaceful~

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Little Sharing

     Before I left work today I took a quick glance at my gmail acct. and flipped through several blog related emails and discovered one from an author.  Aileen Leijten has two books I adore (The Hugging Hour and Bella and Bean) and I've posted about and she left me a message telling me thank you.  I typed her a quick note back and then took a gander at her website to see if anything new was coming up.  This is the third time I've gone to an author's website only to see my words there, bragging about their books.  This time Aileen has my website squared with the words "Peaceful Reader -Hugging Hour Blog  Review."  How can you not love it when an author loves what you say about their creations!!  I'm beaming over here!
Please take a moment to visit her site and see my name in "lights" and while your there wander around a little, explore her whimsical illustrations and her Etsy Shop.  These books deserve spots in your library or your home!!

Have a very peaceful day~

Still to come this week from me:

*review of Little Bee by Chris Cleave
*review of Look Again by Lisa Scottoline
*a giveaway of She's So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

Stay tuned!! 
I'm off to a high school band concert:)

The Book Thief-Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other  participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here's my teasers:
Remarkable book.  Off to read...
When a woman with an iron fist tells you to get out there and clean spit off the door, you do it.  Especially when the iron's hot.  p. 44 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Monday, May 3, 2010

Kathryn Stockett Adventure

     My friend Tina and I began our blogs at about the same time a few years ago.  She reads a lot more than I can ever get accomplished plus she always has her finger on the pulse of hot new books, authors and literary events happening around our great state.  A couple of weeks ago she informed me that Kathryn Stockett was coming to a town quite close to us and we decided we had to go.  We have girls around the same age and we worked some magic to leave them with dads for the whole Sunday afternoon.  Football season is over anyway.  She pulled up in front of my church and we hightailed it out of there like we were Thelma and Louise, in a minivan.   Luckily we were heading for tamer entertainment; an author reading!!

     In fact the audience was filled with mostly white women, with a heaping handful of men,  and a smaller handful of women of color.  I point this out because I've often wondered how the black community views this book and its characters.  Stockett spoke to a full house and we were truly  mesmerized.  She is petite, graceful and fully at ease with herself and the book she wrote.  I loved how she spoke-she didn't give the usual author talk of how many rejection notices she received or advice-she just talked to us like we were all sitting around her kitchen table with her, like we were old friends.  She seemed amazed by the success of The Help but was happy it had been well-received, not because she wanted her book to be popular, but because it got people talking about race and that's big for a small Southern woman.

     Even though she said she wasn't Skeeter in the book it seemed she, like Skeeter, was willing to push against her upbringing to really think about what it was like for generations of black women who worked for her family.  During the Q and A session she answered several  race related questions and her families feelings about the book.  I think after listening to her sweet drawl I might be a little in author love.  She was friendly, low-key and so very, very funny that I couldn't even take notes-I was just so happy to be there! 
Thank you Tina for sweeping me off to this event!
  *** That and I got a fantastic bargain on a sweet pair of trouser jeans from Ann Taylor about 20 minutes later.
 It was just a really great day.***

If you ever have the chance to hear her speak I highly recommend you take the opportunity and she has a full list on her website of speaking engagements from now until Fall.  If you have not read The Help yet please pick it up at the library or buy it.  After hearing her speak I want to read it again!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

She's So Dead to Us

Release date: 5.25.10

From Good Reads:

Perfect, picturesque Orchard Hill. It was the last thing Ally Ryan saw in the rear-view mirror as her mother drove them out of town and away from the shame of the scandal her father caused when his hedge fund went south and practically bankrupted all their friends -- friends that liked having trust funds and new cars, and that didn't like constant reminders that they had been swindled. So it was adios, Orchard Hill. Thanks for nothing.
Now, two years later, Ally's mother has landed a job back at the site of their downfall. So instead of Ally's new low-key, happy life, it'll be back into the snake pit with the likes of Shannen Moore and Hammond Ross.
But then there's Jake Graydon. Handsome, wealthy, bored Jake Graydon. He moved to town after Ally left and knows nothing of her scandal, but does know that he likes her. And she likes him. So off into the sunset they can go, right? Too bad Jake's friends have a problem with his new crush since it would make Ally happy. And if anyone deserves to be unhappy, it's Ally Ryan.

Ally was hoping to have left all the drama in the past, but some things just can't be forgotten. Isn't there more to life than money?

My thoughts:

     Oh, the woes of this book. It filled me with happiness and anger at the same time. The cover intriged me but many times I was frustrated, not so much with the plot as with the choices made.    Old  friends Faith, Hannah, Shannon, and Chloe are still angry with Ally's family-not just with her dad for making bad investment choices and they take it out on Ally and her mom.  Ally used to be part of this group and now she has to learn what it's like to be on the outside.  Lucky for Ally, two kids from the regular group of students (Annie and David) hitch up with her and become good friends.  Life would be fine if she weren't so in love with Jake-her crush on him circles her too close to her old gang of Cresties and these old friends make it impossible for her and Jake to get together.  

     Each chapter changes perspective so we get to understand both Ally and Jake's point-of-view. I liked this back and forth perspective-it makes it interesting to hear Jake's take on certain situations.  Jake is adorable but has a hard time finding his own true feelings.  He takes part in several pranks against Ally, which makes it surprising that she chooses him over sweet guy, David,  who (of course) has a crush on her. This book offers  strange twists that  happen at many high schools and gave me the sense of being in a John Hughes movie. 

     I loved most of the characters, even the mean ones, except for Hammond.  Hammond was okay but I feel negative vibes from him.  I especially appreciated Ally and her ability to see herself in real time-Ally now with no money and Ally before
who perhaps could have pulled some of these mean stunts herself.  She had honest growth and depth, prodded sometimes by her new sidekick, Annie. 

     Three terms used in the book  bugged me a lot:  Cresties (rich kids)  and Norms (regular all-around normal)-they actually use these ridiculous names to talk about each other. I did live in one small town in Minnesota where the economic divide was a hill so it was said in normal conversation "oh, you live on the hill" and that implied that you had some money.  We did not call each other "hillies" though.   The other term the book uses was backslappers, a cheerleading- type group that decorates lockers and rubs the back of their assigned player.  Isn't that the same thing as a cheerleader or a pep squad-I just couldn't figure out why a new name had to be invented for this high school group.  Backslappers does not roll off the tongue nor does it conjure a fun image (for me). Does anyone know of a high school that uses this term??    It's odd the weird things that bother me when reading.  Small details in an otherwise entertaining read.

I've heard this is the first of a trilogy.  I will be anxious to see what's in the future for Ally and Jake!
I think the author has a very cool name-Kieran

This book is an advanced reader copy sent to me by Lucille at Simon and Schuster.  
This didn't in any way influence my enjoyment of the book.
3.5/5 peaceful stars
Recommended for YA

Other reviews:

Just Your Typical Book Blog reviews it here.

Corinne at The Book Nest reviews it here.