A Pile of Leaves

in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art

by Jason Fulford and Tamara Shopsin

 

A Pile of Leaves is such a cool concept in a picture book. It’s completely wordless with see through pages. As you flip the pages it’s like you are digging through the leaf pile. Most of the art in the books are the fall colors of red – orange – and yellows with some green thrown in for good measure. They also include fallen acorns as well as other surprises throughout the pile. I think it’s fun that they create a realistic leaf pile. Sometimes while flipping through A Pile of Leaves you come across a line of ants, or a grasshopper. While other times you come across a lost forgotten mitten, a key and a worm. Want to know what makes this book even cooler? As you flip through the book and move the see through pages your are recreating a new leaf pile on the left side as you take apart the leaf pile on the right side. The author’s include an answer key of sorts labeling all the different leaves as well as non leaf items included in this fun – colorful and artistic book.  This book would be great from infant through preschool. A perfect addition to a sensory table created just for the A Pile of Leaves book including all the items that were in the book as well.

About the Book: Readers explore the concept of layering and collage with this interactive exercise in composition. Each clear acetate page features a single element in the leaf pile, though some are not leaves at all! As readers turn the pages, the leaf pile is deconstructed piece by piece on the right side, and reconstructed on the left. Younger readers will enjoy the seek-and-find aspect of the hidden objects, while older readers might experiment by adding their own images between the pages. A key at the back provides the names of each kind of leaf shown. Inspired by the Whitney Museum’s approach to looking at art, these books provide a new way to look at the world.

Thank you so much Phaidon Press for sending me a copy of A Pile of Leaves. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

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Saving Winslow

by Sharon Creech

 

Have you heard about this cute book Saving Winslow? It’s been on my radar for some time and today I finally was able to sit down and read it. If you have a reluctant reader this might be a good pick since it is a short book coming in at 165 pages. Sometimes short books feel like they are missing some of the storyline, but not Saving Winslow. The characters and storyline are fully developed and it really grabbed me from the first page. I think the fact that Louie was determined to save the little sick baby donkey came from the fact that his brother Gus was not home anymore because he had enlisted in the army. I think Louie felt that he couldn’t control Gus leaving but could control little Winslow. He could do everything in his power to save the sweet little donkey and it would get his mind off the hole he felt without his best friend and big brother Gus. Winslow gave hope to so many on Louie’s street as well as some headaches from a donkey braying day and night. I really enjoyed the can do positive attitude that Louie had on whether or not Winslow was going to make it. It was an uplifting story and had a very happy ending. It is recommended to middle grade readers. I’m not sure if many middle grade (6,7 and 8th) grade would pick this up. While I think once they did and start reading it they would fall for it as much as I did. I think it’s really more appealing to elementary aged kids from 3rd grade and up. It would even be a great read aloud for class reading time. It is IndieNext Fall Kids pick for ages 9-12 and I can see why. It was a solid 4 star read for me and I really was happy Winslow and gang got their happy ending!

About the book: Louie doesn’t have the best luck when it comes to nurturing small creatures. So when his father brings home a sickly newborn mini donkey, he’s determined to save him. He names him Winslow. Taking care of him helps Louie feel closer to his brother, Gus, who is far, far away in the army.

Everyone worries that Winslow won’t survive, especially Louie’s quirky new friend, Nora, who has experienced loss of her own. But as Louie’s bond with Winslow grows, surprising and life-altering events prove that this fragile donkey is stronger than anyone could have imagined

I Do Not Trust You

by Laura J Burns and Melinda Metz

 

First off can we talk about the beautiful cover! I love its bold reds on the dark background! It is really eye catching and what made me stop and read more about this book.

I Do Not Trust You is the first book I’ve read from this author duo and hopefully I can find the other book or books they have written. I really enjoyed this book and would love to read their other stuff. I’m always up for a good mythological adventure and this one did not disappoint!  I loved all archeology and mythology the book had in it. There was even some suspense with hoping and wondering if they were going to be okay. The characters were well developed and diverse. Memphis is a kick butt girl many have compared to a teenage Laura Croft. I haven’t seen those movies but I do know a little and yes I see it. Ash was a good character as well and they really bounced off of each other making the reader feel like they good for each other even if they didn’t know that yet. The main aspect that hooked me and kept me reading was the myth and world building. The authors did such a great job and I’d love to read more mythological – archeological stories by these two fine authors.

About the book: Memphis “M” Engle is stubborn to a fault, graced with an almost absurd knowledge of long lost languages and cultures, and a heck of an opponent in a fight. In short: she’s awesome. Ashwin Sood is a little too posh for her tastes, a member of an ancient cult (which she’s pretty sure counts for more than one strike against him), and has just informed Memphis that her father who she thought was dead isn’t and needs her help.

From the catacombs of Paris to lost temples in the sacred forests, together they crisscross the globe, searching for the pieces of the one thing that might save her father. But the closer they come to saving him—and the more they fall for one another—the closer they get to destroying the world.

Thank you so much Algonquin and Netgalley for allowing me to read I Do Not Trust You. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Ghosts

by Raina Telgemeier

 

 

Ghosts is my first graphic novel that I can think of that I’ve read in its entirety without putting it aside. I didn’t want the story to end and was so bummed when I finished it. The kids at the school I work at have been begging me to read this one and I’m so glad I did! I loved the story line how it really dives into the day to day life with cystic fibrosis as a kid and how it affects not only the child that has it but the siblings and parents. I won’t go to in-depth on the description of the book since I’m sure I’m one of the last people to read it. 🙂 Catrina and her family move to upper California for her dad’s new job and they are hoping the change in climate helps her sister Maya have more good days with her cystic fibrosis. The town the move to Bahia De La Luna is rich is culture and tradition and has a huge festival every year for Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)! I have always loved all the culture – traditions – and decorations for Dia De Los Muertos. I would take that over Halloween any day. So I think between finding one of the rare few elementary and middle grade books that tackles cystic fibrosis and then includes Dia De Los Muertos I was sold one page one. The illustrations with bold and set the mood with each frame. They story line was well developed and hooked me instantly. I will be checking out her other books and might even dive into more graphic novels. Ghosts is a perfect book to read anytime of the year but would be great for a Spooktober book to read, it’s not scary but it is set in Spooktober season.

About the Book: Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake – and her own.

The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker

By Kerry Wilkinson

 

 

Upon reading the The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker I thought it sounded a lot like 13 Minutes. I liked that one okay but it didn’t really hold my interest. This one sounded like it might be one I liked more and I was right. My YA reader and I really enjoyed how this story unfolded. The story was well written, fully developed and had many moments where the reader’s imagination was really stretched to think beyond the normal mystery. It has some supernatural feels and that is what made us like it. The characters seemed realistic and ones you had to keep reading about. You had to know what was going to happen next. The author is new to us and we will have to check out her other books to see if they are just as good. I really enjoyed this mystery – coming of age book. My YA reader and I thought this would be a good movie or mini series on Netflix. Overall we thought this was a perfect Spooktober book to read if you can wait that long.

About the book: A village with something to hide. Seventeen-year-old Eleanor Parker wakes up cold and alone in the river that twists through her quiet village. She has no memory of how she got there. But she does know that another girl was drowned in the same river the summer before, held under the water by an unknown killer…

A community torn apart. Eleanor is a normal, every day teenager. She argues with her mum, spends her days with her best friend, and is looking forward to a carefree summer of sunshine and music. Who would want to hurt her?

A shocking secret. Determined to unlock the mystery of what really happened to her, Eleanor can’t escape the feeling that something awful links her to the previous summer’s murder. But will she find out the truth before it’s too late?

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read The Death and Life of Eleanor Parker.  All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

When Elephants Fly

by Nancy Richardson Fischer

Publication Date: September 4 2018

Buy the Book (or put on hold at your local library! I don’t get any $$ if you click and buy from links) AmazonBarnes and Noble

Add to your GoodReads shelf

 

This book – oh my stars this book not only got me out of a reading slump but I feel for this book hard. I finished it in less than 24 hours. I couldn’t stop reading it and when I got to tired to read I got up way before the sun so I could read some more. Now I’m sad because I’m done reading it. This book tackles so much from mental illness and suicide ( Lily’s), a wonderful best friend of Lily that is tired of not living his true self and comes out to his parents (who btw are total butt heads. I’d call them worse but don’t want to be flagged with all the cuss words) the plight of elephants in the wild, it also touches base on the abuse some captive elephants experience at the hands of less than ethical in my opinion handlers in the zoo and circus setting. I know the author worked for the biggest circus in the USA but I’m very against circus maybe Ringling didn’t use these tactics but I just don’t agree with circus acts in general. Okay now on to this amazing book!

Lily’s life hasn’t been a normal kid upbringing. Her mom had paranoid schizophrenia and when Lily was 7 her mom tried to kill her. Her mom was obsessed with Peter Pan and thought they could fly to Neverland. Lucky for Lily the police officer that was on the roof with her dad grabbed her as her mom threw her off the roof. What had stayed in the back of Lily’s mind was her dad saved the mom and not her. He also saved the mom many times by ignoring all the abuse Lily experienced leading up to that fateful night on the roof. Lily is terrified that she will become her mom since it is genetic and pretty much all the women in her mom’s family have schizophrenic to some degree. So she leans on her best friend Sawyer to administer quizzes to make sure she isn’t starting to develop it as well as make sure she sticks to her 12 year plan to avoid all triggers leading up to age 30. Sawyer is always there for her but really needs Lily to be there for him as well. He is living a lie and wants to just be the true Sawyer he is. He finally comes out to his parents and is kicked out of the house. One thing I wish the author had done with Sawyer was not make him so rich. When his parents kicked him out he was able to look at all these uber expensive apartments and moved out fine. Most teens that come out to there parents and are kicked out end up homeless or live in shelters unless they have family that will take them in. This I think would have made the book a 5 star for me if she had explored what really happens with most LGBTQPIA teens.

Swifty the baby elephant that is the center of the book and Lily’s story gives a lot of data on both African and Asian elephants in the wild and in captivity. Many zoo’s and refuges try to breed elephants to keep the numbers rising instead of decreasing like they are in the wild. Many times with any zoo breeding the baby isn’t accepted and even killed. This is what happens to Swifty Swift Jones (Sawyer donated 100,000 to the name the baby elephant contest and named the elephant after his favorite pop star. See what I mean about him from a very rich family). Because of a deal the zoo keeper made with the circus for the male  elephant specimen if Swifty mom doesn’t accept her Swifty because property of the circus. Property is all Swifty and the other animals are they are worked, kept in unsafe and unsanitary environments and abused to get them to perform. The rest of the book is Lily realizing that volunteering at the local town paper as a means to an end to get int USC journalism department is more  than that. She loves Swifty and she might not be able to save herself from her fate but she can save Swifty from her’s!

This is where I’ll end because if I talk anymore I’m going to give away the whole book. 🙂 When Elephants Fly was an amazing book that really tugged at my heartstrings. I loved Sawyer and Lily and really wanted them to be okay with the hand they have been dealt. I loved that these 2 lost souls had each other because everyone needs someone who will back them up no matter what. They have their ups and downs but in the end they have each other. While they didn’t get to pick their families they did find each other and became their own little family.

I gave this book 4 stars because I think it would have been more realistic if Sawyer wasn’t able to have all the money in the world to find a place to stay when his butt head dad kicked him out of the house for coming out as been gay.

Also this is a YA book but I did give this to my 7th grader. There was a few small not in detail adult scenes but nothing she hasn’t seen on Pretty Little Liars.

About the book: T. Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she’s not developing schizophrenia. Genetics are not on Lily’s side. When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily’s odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there’s a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests. But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can’t abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf’s life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.

Thank you so very much Harlequin Teen for sending me this amazing book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Baby Code!

Girls Who Code: Baby Code! series

by Sandra Horning

illustrated by Melissa Crowton

 

There are 4 books in the series: Play, Music, Art and Baby Code. They are board books so sturdy enough for infants and young toddlers to have. The pictures are simple, bold and colorful. The sentences are simple 1 sentence per page. My husband who is a coder really thought the idea was cool and wished they had been around when our bookworms were little so he could have read these instead of the tongue twisting books they loved. 🙂 For me I liked the regular story parts but really think the code part was more for parents, especially parents that work in coding and programming. The coding part explains what is happening on the page and how it is used in every day living and activities. I found it interesting but not sure if I’d read that part if it was reading the book aloud. The Baby Code book explains coding a bit better. Some examples: Baby needs a nap, code tells computer to go to sleep. Overall I think it’s a cute board book series but the coding part in my mind is way over the babies, toddler and preschool bookworms heads. Maybe it’s just me my husband starts to explain something from work and I’m lost. I get science and math but coding always trips me up. I think these would be a great gift for a new baby who’s mom, dad or both are programmers. They would really love the series.

About the series: It’s never too early to get little ones interested in computer coding with this unique series of board books!

How do you explain coding in art to a baby? By showing how it’s all around them, and how they can take part in it, of course! By using items in a baby’s world, like a camera or a block made from a 3D printer, this charming board book full of bright, colorful illustrations is the perfect introduction to coding in art for babies and their caregivers–and is sure to leave them wanting to learn more!

Thank you Penguin Random House for sending the Baby Code! series. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free books.