Saturday, February 28, 2015

Littlest Penguin

Lots of kids get picked on because they're different. They'll certainly enjoy Karen Carr's book, The Littlest Penguin.

In this book Pogo the penguin is teased and shunned by the other young penguins because he's so small, and many children will be able to identify with him.

Poor Pogo has no friends. His mother assures him God made him special, but that doesn't help him to feel better.

He goes off by himself every day and practices his skills, all the time feeling lonely.

But when he uses his skill to save the life of a penguin chick he suddenly becomes popular with all the others in the flock.

This book not only has a story many young readers will find encouraging, it also provides lots of scientific information. Some of the information is subtly included in the story and there's a whole page of facts about Emperor Penguins at the  end of the book.

KC Snider's lovely illustrations capture the feeling and environment of the story and add to the enjoyment of reading it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Wizard of Dark Street

I heard Shawn Thomas Odyssey speak and enjoyed it so much I bought one of his books.

I'm so glad I did!

The Wizard of Dark Street is a fantasy, and also a mystery.  The plot is exciting and uses some original, creative ideas. It takes place in the 1800s in a world connected to New York City.

The heroine, Oona, has magical abilities, but wants to be a detective instead of a wizard. Oona is a determined, feisty girl. But when she must face evil powers she just might have to use her powers after all.

This book is the first in a series and I'm afraid I can't resist reading the others.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Olive and the Great Flood

There are lots of picture books out there that retell Bible stories, but this is one of the best I've seen.

Olive and the Great Flood is about the well-known story of Noah and the ark. But it's told from the point of view of the dove, who the author has named Olive.

This story is told completely in rhyme and, unlike many rhyming books, it isn't forced and the meter is perfect.

I absolutely love the illustrations by Kathleen Bullock because they show just what the author Connie Arnold  portrays with her words. The two of them make a great team.

I'm sure kids will enjoy this book and I hope  lots of Sunday Schools and Christian preschools get it for their libraries.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Mardi Gras, etc.

Last Saturday I attended a Mardi Gras parade. Mardi Gras was traditionally celebrated on Tuesday, the day before the season of Lent begins. The term, Mardi Gras, means fat Tuesday.

Catholics, and members of some other liturgical churches, fast during the season of Lent, which begins today. Traditionally, people who intended to fast during that season ate lots of meat, if they could get it, the day before Lent began because they wouldn't have it again for forty days. And they'd use up any foods, such as dairy products, with fat since those couldn't keep until they'd be allowed to eat them again.

Traditionally, Catholics also avoided eating meat on Fridays all year because Christ was crucified on a Friday.

As a kid when my Catholic friends avoided meat on Fridays I always wondered what eating meat had to do with the crucifixion.

Finally I learned that during the Middle Ages only the upper classes could eat meat on a regular basis. For everyone who could get it, meat was eaten at celebrations and parties. It was food for celebration and nobody would eat meat when there was a funeral or other sad event.

That's why people in those churches don't eat meat while observing the season before the Crucifixion of Christ.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

President's Day and Valentine's Day

This year Valentine's Day and Presidents Day are very close together. Believe it or not, they actually have something to do with each other.

Saint Valentine's Day originally had nothing to do with romantic love. It was named for a saint who showed Christian love to others.

As I'vementioned in past years, my college Psychology professor 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."

I don't want to get into politics here, but isn't the happiness and well-being of the American people essential to the happiness and well-being of a president of this country?

That means love must be a job requirement for presidents.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What I Review

This is called the Onwords (On Words) blog and it's about words (i.e. language,) books, and kids.
A lot of my posts are reviews of books for kids. That includes all three of the basic topics.

Where do I get all the books I review?

Sometimes I trade with other authors who are willing to review books I've written.
At other times I review library books. I get some at our community's free book swap. 
And once in a while I review one of the many books already on my own shelves.

I can't begin to count the number of kids' books I've read in my life.

When I entered second grade I was reading at fifth grade level, and immediately became a bookaholic with no intention of ever getting into recovery.

As a parent, teacher, and grandparent I've read books to children (usually picture books) hundreds of times. For my own pleasure I usually read five or six middle grade books every week with an occasional chapter book or Young Adult novel thrown in.

I refuse to review books I don't like because it's hard for writers to sell their books and I don't want to make someone else's job more difficult even if I don't like their work myself.

I hope some people who read these posts find out about books they should buy or check out of the library for their own kids, grandkids, students and young friends to read. It would be great if my words here about books help children discover the joys of reading.

Maybe some of them will become bookaholics, too.