Sunday, October 28, 2007

Saving Levi

I just finished one of THE MOST powerful adoption books I have ever read! Saving Levi: Left to Die...Destined to Live by Lisa Bentley is a very touching story of one little boy - severely burned - who is left to die - even wrapped in burial clothes and found in a field. The story of his life - all that people would go to for a baby that no one has even adopted - is extremely powerful and extremely touching. You just see God's Hand at work to save this little boy's life. Bentley has told Levi's story in such a wonderful book - I encourage all, whether you have any interest in adoption or not, to pick up this book and read it - it is life changing.

To see Levi's website - go HERE. And to learn more about the orphanage near Beijing that the Bentley family was called to start for special needs children, go HERE.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Adoption Book List

Have anyone needing children's books on adoption?? Here is a good list!

If A Tree Falls at Lunch Period

Today I finished Gennifer Choldenko's If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period. I absolutley HAD to read this one as I loved her book, Al Capone Does My Shirts. I will preface by saying it didn't hit me AS HARD as Al Capone, but I did like it, and I think teens will enjoy it as well. I especially liked that it SO wonderfully hits junior high/high school right to the heart - Choldenko knows teens and that comes through so brilliantly in this novel. It shows how mean kids can be to each other and yet, how sometimes goodness wins out!! It also brings up the sometimes-touchy issue of race and there again, Choldenko brings up the subject with ease - not being preachy, but certainly getting her point across. I came to love Kirsten, the main character, and think she is a wonderfully strong female character. She befriends a black boy at her, very white, school and that is the beginning of a close friendship - with a hint of surprise. It is fast moving and switches narrators with each chapter - either Kirsten or Walk, her black friend. Thank you, Gennifer for another moving novel!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

October Pay It Forward Giveaway!!

Yes - the Random Generator did it again and chose #2!!!! So Amanda - you have won this month's giveaway. Please contact me with your snail mail and I'll get it right out - Enjoy!!!

Watch starting in November for another Pay It Forward and thanks all for playing along!!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Robert's Snow Video

What a great idea - ALL of the snowflakes shown by auction times - with beautiful Christmas music to really "get you in the mood"! Take a moment and watch the snow fall, and then go and bid on them - what a great cause!

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Long Way Gone

A Long Way Gone ~ Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah is my latest read. Was it a fun read?? No. Was it an easy read?? No. Am I glad I read it?? YES!! Ishmael's story is powerful and should be read. I do not like to read about children that have a tough life, but I think we need to be aware. Sierra Leone is full of civil unrest and that comes out so vividly in this story - and then when boys/children have no family left - they have all been killed by the war - those boys have no choice but to be a part of the army. They are told to do horrible things, often become addicted to drugs, and then have to go through rehabilitation to go back to a "normal" way of life. This is Ishmael's story - his time in Sierra Leone, his rehabilitation, and his life after. This book definately kept me reading - I just wanted to keep going to find out how his life would turn out. I would recommend it HIGHLY, but I do think it needs to be an older audience - there are some graphic scenes - which also help to remind us of how awful we can treat each other.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Little Scholastic

Once again - it feels like Christmas at the library and I just have to share!! I sent an email to Scholastic asking to see some of their new "Little Scholastic" titles. Boy did they EVER come through!! I received a box of Little Scholastics today and they are all I hoped they would be!!

From touchy-feely books to Interactive to Musical - I LOVE THEM ALL!!! I like their premise that "the latest research on the development of children aged 0-3" shows that children need these qualities in books:
  • Interactive components
  • Rhyming, repetitive, or predictable text
  • High contrast images
  • Familiar subjects and surroundings
  • Simple concepts
  • Distinct leveling between the ages 0-3
If you haven't seen them, go HERE and check them out!! And if you haven't ordered them for your children or library - I say they are "Must Haves"!! Oh yes, and you do need to check out their website as well - they have some great information for parents - quick tips, interactive tools AND MORE!!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Robert's Snow

It is finally here!! It is time for bloggers to showcase an illustrator each day from now through November. We will feature an illustrator that has made a snowflake for Robert's Snowflake - a wonderful online auction to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Sadly enough, it all began when Grace Lin's husband, Robert, was battling a long battle with cancer. He passed away just a few short months ago and this is ALL IN HIS HONOR.

Each blogger that wanted to participate has chosen an illustrator/illustrators to showcase. I asked right away for Grace and was so pleased to be allowed to post on her snowflake. I am a BIG, BIG fan of Grace Lin - she is just one of THE BEST, in my humble opinion!!! And not only that, I feel honored to showcase her as it was her husband that this whole auction is in honor of! I asked Grace for some background of why she became a writer/illustrator and she said:

"I grew up in Upstate NY and I knew at an early age that creating children's books was what I wished to do. In my book, "The Year of the Dog" the main character enters a National Book contest and wins 4th place. That really
happened to me and it was from there on that I knew I wanted to make books for my job."

Grace has written so many wonderful books that I could not even begin to tell you our favorite over here, but I will say that she was a favorite LONG before we ever adopted our daughter from China, and now her "Asian flair" just makes her books all the more sweet to us!! When I asked Grace about participating in the blog event she said "I would like to try to participate in promoting Robert's Snow as it is very important to me. My hope is that the fundraiser continues on forever, so that Robert will always be remembered." These last few months have not been easy for Grace but she believes firmly in Robert's Snow and has decorated a beautiful snowflake.

"My snowflake is called "Flower." Amidst white snow, a vividly clothed girl stands like a flower. I painted it when Robert was declining, while things like hope and happiness were not obviously in the landscape. Yet, even in those days, we were able to find bits of beauty and bittersweet joys. Those moments were like finding flowers in the snow. "

Grace added, "I thought it might be interesting for people to know that the style I painted my snowflake was inspired by Chinese Cloisonn├ę." I think her snowflake is stunning! If you want to bid on Grace's, or any other snowflake, head over to the auction site and check them out! What a great cause!

Oh yes, AND one last thing!!! Grace has graciously offered to give away a wonderful gift here at my blog!! All you need to do is leave a comment on this post and you will be entered into a drawing for a signed copy of her book, Lissy's Friends, AS WELL AS an accompanying Lissy Doll!! (Ok, to be honest I'd be jealous except, yes, we already have them both!!!) And if you don't win - go ahead and buy a set for yourself anyway - you won't be disappointed!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Double Bind

I was given a recommendation to read anything by Chris Bohjalian and so I picked up Double Bind. I must say, it was quite a read. Not probably one I would have picked up on my own, but from page one, I was intrigued. I won't say "hooked" because sometimes I kept wondering "Where is this going??" But it kept me guessing all the way to the end, and I was surprised at how it all concluded. Laurel - the main character - is given an assignment for her job to prepare some photos, left by a homeless man, for a fundraiser for their homeless shelter. However, in all of her research, she becomes quite entrenched in the project and even leaves friends and family behind to solve her puzzle. I loved the mystery involved, and it is an interesting study into mental illness. I won't say it's the best read ever, but it did keep me interested - and yes, the ending was quite a shock - not at all what I was anticipating!

Saturday, October 06, 2007


Chester by Chester aka Melanie Watt!!! What a riot - I mean really, how often does a cat take over and start writing the book only to be replaced by the mean author?!!? This book had me laughing out loud - what a treat!! And don't miss the front cover - he even has a place reserved for his much-deserved award!! You've gotta love this cat!

Little Skink's Tail

Little Skink's Tail by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein was sent to me as a review copy by Sylvan Dell Publishing and, boy, are they going to be glad they sent me a free copy!! I immediately hopped on their website and have been telling people about them ever since!! They are so educational - I LOVE the emphasis on science, animals, math, etc. and then, to tie it in, they have great links off of their site to enhance your teaching - I am telling you - you need to go check it out!! Look especially for the "For Creative Minds", "Teaching Activities", and "Learning Links" sections. It's like hitting the jackpot!!

Book Blogs

What a great list!!! Just in case you ever wanted a comprehensive list of book blogs - this might be it!!!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Annick Press

Annick Press sent me a package of books today to review and I must say, "I am impressed!!" This is a publisher I was not familiar with (aside from THIS GUY!!!) and now I just high-tailed it over to our book distributor and ordered hard cover copies of every book they sent me! These are wonderful books! Here are some of my favorites:

Shen and the Treasure Fleet by Ray Conlogue - an exciting story of adventure set in old-world China. (I took it home to my 12 year old to read, and he WON'T put it down!!! I keep telling him it's my turn!! Good thing he's a fast reader!)

True Stories from the Edge - Dangerous Crossings! by Antonia Banyard - here is another series that I intend to get the WHOLE set!! Fun adventures, non-fiction geared to ages 8 and up. My boys WILL LOVE these!

Archers, Alchemists and 98 Other Medieval Jobs you Might Have Loved or Loathed by Priscilla Galloway - another WONDERFUL non-fiction book - I am ALWAYS on the lookout for great non-fiction - libraries need MORE of that!!! There is another in this series that I have on order already too!!!

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the Ruth Ohi picture books - the illustrations are endearing and the stories are simple and fun! Me and My Brother and Me and My Sister are on my order as well now!

If you haven't checked out this publishing company, DO SO!!! Their website is also invaluable to teachers - it has some some live interviews with authors and great teaching ideas. Thanks, Annick Press, for sending me books and introducing me to your WHOLE new world of exciting books!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Pay It Forward

October's Pay It Forward Giveaway is Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson's book, Cave of the Dark Wind - A Never Land Book. (Yes, I chose a junior book this time - just to keep you guessing!!) The rules are the same - just leave a comment and you are entered!! Winners will be drawn on Monday, October 22nd. As always, I would love a link on your blog (if you have one) so that others know about the book giveaway. And then, when you are finished, you may use the book as a Pay It Forward drawing on your blog - let's keep them all floating around the blog world!!

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