Wednesday, February 26, 2014


When I was a kid my brother and I quarreled a lot. That's the norm with siblings. Of course we loved each other, but there was always competition between us.

Now he's one of my favorite people. There's something special about sharing memories and we have lots to share.

I've known lots of other people who have had similar experiences with their brothers and sisters. Once we're grown most of the competition is over and the things we shared become important.

That's a helpful thing for parents to know because seeing our kids quarrel can be frustrating.

What about you? If you have brothers and/or sisters how do you get along with them now compared with your relationship as kids?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Love and Hate

Valentine's Day was only a couple of weeks ago and we saw lots of information about love.

One of my college Psychology professors gave us this definition of love: "When the happiness and well-being of another is essential to one's own happiness and well-being a state of love exists."

Today I want to talk about hate.

Since hate is the opposite of love the logical definition would be: "When the unhappiness and suffering of another is essential to one's own happiness and well-being a state of hate exists."

That means when we hate someone, we give them control over our own lives.

Forgiveness means choosing not to seek punishment or revenge and, while it seems difficult, it's actually much easier than hating someone who has offended or harmed us because it frees us from the bonds of hatred.

Okay, that's enough preaching for today.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Trial by Walkabout

In case you can't tell by my previous reviews, I've become a fan of Margot Finke's books. And I think the newest one I've read, Trial by Walkabout, is her best yet.

Like Finke's other books, this takes place in Australia and the reader learns a lot about the aboriginal culture and natural environment of that land. But that educational stuff is incidental.

In the story the main character, Josh, learns a lot about himself and the meaning of friendship when he finds himself in the outback with Bindi, an Aboriginal boy. But that isn't the primary benefit of the book either.

The best thing about Trial by Walkabout is the exciting plot. The life-threatening dangers are completely believable. This is a book boys won't be able to put down!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Unusual Post

I never post personal information on the internet. I haven't ever mentioned the names of my kids or grandkids except for one foster granddaughter who is an adult and requested me to do it.

But in this post I will talk about something personal.

I've been blogging twice a week for nearly five years and have never missed a post, but I might have to miss some in the future and want to explain why.

I've got cancer in my eyeball.

That's a rare kind of cancer and only about six people in a million get it, but I'm one of those six. Maybe I should have played the lottery instead!

I've had surgery, but will need more treatments and other medical visits so it's possible I may not be able to blog every Wednesday and Saturday even if I schedule posts in advance.

If I do miss some posts I hope you'll understand.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ava's Secret Tea Party

I won this picture book by Donna J Shepherd in a contest and I'm glad to have it.

On opening the book the first thing I noticed was the colorful illustrations by Bella Sinclair who must have a magic touch of her ownto show the magic of the story so well.

 Yes, Ava's Secret Tea Party is full of magic.

It's unusual to find characters like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny in the same book, but those are only two of the famous characters Ava encounters. The Sandman and the Tooth Fairy are involved, too.

Ava wants to invite them all to a tea party, but how can she get them to come?

I won't give away the plot, but she does succeed and after the story ends there are several pages of recipes so young readers and their famiies can have their own tea parties.

I think I'll give this book to my granddaughter, but I'll have to try at least one of the yummy sounding recipes myself.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Who was Thomas Ken?

Every Sunday when the words to the Doxology ("Praise God from whom all blessings flow...) appear on the screen of my church I notice the tiny words at the bottom of the screen saying they were written by Thomas Ken in 1674.

And every time I see his name I wonder who that man was.

I looked him up on the internet and found he was a clergyman in the Church of England. Several times he stood up for what he believed was right even at risk of serious penalties to himself. He wrote a lot of other things, but only a couple of his hymns are still available.

However the few words in the Doxology have been inspiring people for over three hundred years!

I wish I could be like him.

Of course Thomas Ken is not the only one who wrote things long ago people still read today. There are hundreds of classics and historical documents still around.

But every time I see the name of Thomas Ken I wish I could write something that will touch people in the future.

Do any of you other writers feel that way?

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Hold Fast

I recently read Hold Fast, a middle grade novel by Blue Balliett, and was very impressed by it.

The book begins with the disappearance of someone. The reader doesn't know who he is. Then there are several short, confusing passages that made me curious. What was happening?

The plot is about a girl named Early whose father disappears so her family becomes homeless. How can they survive? It gives a moving portrayal of what life is like for homeless people and helps the reader become more sympathetic and understanding of their plight.

But it also has an exciting and dramatic plot as Early tries to solve the mystery of her father's whereabouts.

This is a wonderful book and I think all middle grade kids should read it.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

My Brother Is My Best Friend.

My Brother Is My Best Friend by Nicole Weaver is a sweet book showing the fun twin boys have together. It would make a lovely bedtime story for young kids and the illustrations by Clara Batton Smith capture the feeling of the text beautifully.

But that's only part of the value of the book.

The entire story is written in three languages; English, French and Spanish. Children from various national backgrounds can enjoy the story in their own languages.

And the book would be a wonderful aid to kids of all ages - and even grown-ups - who are trying to learn other languages or refresh their memories about languages they studied in the past. (Today I mentioned the book to a middle school class of students who are studying Spanish!)

My Brother is My Best Friend may help people become friends with others from different cultures as they learn other languages, and it will encourage children to appreciate their siblings and the world around them.