Sunday, July 24, 2016

Anna & Froga: Out and About by Anouk Richard

Anna & Froga: Out and About

In the fifth volume of Anouk Ricard's hilarious modern kids’ classic, Anna, Froga, Ron, Christopher, and Bubu continue their non-adventures with bickering, needling, cajoling, and honest friendship. No white lie goes unexposed, no small embarrassment goes unrevealed, no secret is kept. For Christmas, the gang decides to forego shopping malls and make their own gifts for one another; Bubu goes on a retreat to shed a few extra pounds and get in touch with his zen side; a vampire with exceptional Scrabble skills moves in next door; and the five friends embark on an unforgettable trip to Paris, where they stay in an itsy-bitsy apartment. Rarely is friendship treated so realistically and delightfully as it is in the comics of Anouk Ricard.

My Review

I feel slightly awkward writing this review because I have to confess the book has gone missing. I usually write my reviews with the book sitting right next to me. However, I know why the book has gone missing. Since we received this book from the publisher about a month ago, my children have been obsessed with the quirky, mildly inappropriate, and the unapologetic dialogue between the characters in this book. They have it hidden in their rooms, safe from me taking it away for the purpose of writing reviews. The content is definitely intended for an older audience (8-10 years old). However, my four-year-old has spent countless hours pouring over the bright illustrations.

 What makes the dialogue so hysterical, is because I can actually hear people saying the phrases. Sometimes, when you read children's books, the dialogue comes across as cutesy.

However, the author also knows how to go without any dialogue to get a point across.  In particular, there are two pages that show hot air balloon safety rules which exemplify creative restraint where words are not necessary. My youngest child loves these pages probably because it shows a series of things she would try to do if she had the chance. (See image below.)
I also appreciate how come pages look like comic book pages, and other pages look like they were taken from a children's picture book. For kids who are reluctant readers, this book is an excellent example of making stories intelligent and visually enticing to draw in the reader.

My nine-year-old daughter told me what she likes the most about this book is how each of the characters is unique. The book celebrates their differences rather than have them all act and dress the same way. The book is broken up into several short stories. Her favorite of the short stories is one called "Smartyphone." In this short story, the dog character, who is named Bubu, finds a smart phone and keeps it. When his friends find out he kept a phone he found, they debate whether or not he should try to find the owner. Eventually, the owner of the phone calls and finds the kids. Bubu learned a lesson to try and return items that are found. My daughter told me she really liked how it taught a moral that you should return found items without sounding "like a teacher." This is why I think the book will appeal to the third to fifth grader.


Check it out for sale on Amazon:

FTC Required Disclosures:
 *I received a review copy from the publisher free of charge. All opinions expressed in this review represent my honest opinions about the book. **This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase the books through these links, I receive a small portion of the payment, which I use to support this blog. Thanks for your support!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Better Days

I should be writing reviews for books I have received the past couple of months to review, but my desire to write has been stalled. (So if you sent me a book, I haven't forgotten about you. I promise.)

An accumulation of a million excuses has dried up my drive to share the books that continue to shape my daughters' worlds. While my thoughts can't seem to formulate into complete sentences these past couple of months, I have replaced writing with running. Running to find myself and where I belong in this world.

I am thankful for the puppy (Bretagne) we adopted from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue because she has shown me what pure joy is when running. We sprint up hills and splash in streams. It isn't a chore to run, when I run with her. She smiles when we run.

I decided to train for the Disney Marathon in January of 2017 with Team in Training. So many times, early in the morning as we run through the trails of Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield, I am overwhelmed with the spirits of those who have lost their lives as the fog lifts from the fields. Sometimes, Bretagne will stop dead stride and stare, as if she has seen a spirit. Sounds hokey, I am sure. However, somewhere around 4000 people died during the battles that happened during the Civil War on that mountain, so I imagine it is possible. I think a lot about life and death. I think about friends and family I have lost along the way, especially those that have lost their battle with cancer. Cancer is such a horrific illness, it makes me wonder if it is any different that walking into a bayonet, how many men lost their lives on the trails I run.

This morning, as I was running, I ended up wanting to tack on an extra half mile, so we turned down a path that I had never been down before today. As I turned onto the trail, the song Better Days by Eddie Vedder came on my iPod.  The trail was magical, lush with green moss, a flowing stream, and flush with wildlife that that hadn't been disturbed yet by runners that morning. We saw a beautiful white owl take flight, and the sadness that had been inside of me seemed to be replaced with hope. Running for a cause, even if I will only make a small bit of a difference seems to give meaning to the thousands of steps that I take each day.

"I'm running... from something
I'm running towards the day... wide awake
all whispered... once quiet
now rising to a scream... right in me
I'm fallin'... free fallin'
world's calling me... up off my knees
oh, I'm soaring... yeah, and darling
you'll be the one that I can need..... still be free
our future's paved with better days." Eddie Vedder- Better Days

If you want to check out my fundraising page, please check it out:
If you choose to donate, please know that during my runs, I will run for the people in your life that have been affected by cancer, in hopes for better days.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Take me out to the ballgame! Books about baseball review

When I was a little girl, I played for our town's softball league. (I mean I mostly stood in the outfield picking flowers.) I was actually really bad at softball, and I can remember my coach begging me to not swing because I just couldn't make contact with the ball. The only thing I could do was bunt because I could outrun the ball to the base. Even though I was horrible, my dad loved watching us play. When he got sick years later, and my younger brother was still in high school, I knew it killed him that he could no longer throw a baseball around in the backyard. And I am a little sad my brother had to miss out on all the hours I used to spend with my dad tossing the ball back and forth. Had these two books been published when my siblings and I were little, I am sure my dad would have loved reading them to us.

(Time Inc. Books, April 2016, ages 3-6)

  • Grade Level: Preschool - 1
  • Lexile Measure: 470
  • Series: Sports Illustrated Kids
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1618931679
  • ISBN-13: 978-1618931672

About the Book

This all-star lineup tells the story of baseball so that youngest fans can understand it. Perfect for beginning readers, the pages feature straightforward text, fun images, and colorful Sports Illustrated photographs to share the excitement of Major League Baseball. There's even full glossary of essential baseball terms and phrases to inspire a love of America's favorite pastime.

My Review 

My First Book of Baseball is an introduction to baseball for any kid interested in learning about the sport. The book reads like an how to guide, explaining all the rules of the game. Each page contains a combination of real photographs of baseball and illustrations to drive home the concepts of the game. Each page is full of color and printed on high quality paper, making it attractive to even the youngest of readers. 

I read the book again tonight with my youngest daughter. She has had no exposure to baseball, so she was a good litmus test at how well the book explains the sport. Reading it with her, I did find some of the terminology used in the book potentially confusing. My almost four year old could not really grasp the concepts of "offense" and "defense." Even though the book defined the terms, these words were used in the book before they were explained. I kept having to stop and explain things, like the term bullpen, as we read through the book. However, I think that for kids who have already been exposed to this sport and enjoy playing or watching it, I think this book would make a fantastic addition to a home library. I plan on donating it to my daughter's school because I know many of the kids that attend the school would enjoy looking through the pages of this book over and over again.

(Time Inc. Books, April 2016, ages 6-14)

About the Book 

Take a home run of a journey through time with this history of America's passion for baseball that captures every aspect of the sport from then to now. How have baseballs, gloves, uniforms, and even rules changed, and what did we do before instant replay? This look at how baseball grew up through the years appeals to a wide range of baseball-loving readers. 
  • Grade Level: 1 - 9
  • Lexile Measure: 1150
  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1618931423
  • ISBN-13: 978-1618931429

My Review 

The book Baseball Then to Wow! is a collection of interesting facts and figures about the game of baseball all contained within the glossy and vibrant pages of a hardcover book. Baseball Then to Wow! is definitely for any kid who has a love for the game and wants to learn everything there is to know about the sport. I could imagine kids obsessively reading this book over and over again to memorize all the fascinating tidbits. I really enjoyed when the book talked about the changes in technology over the years. Seeing the improvement in technology for the fields, stadiums, bats, and balls over time really helped me to put in perspective how science plays a role even in the sports we play. I recommend this book for the baseball obsessed youth. It would make a great gift for a player as the school team seasons draw to a close.

FTC Required Disclosures:
 *I received a review copy from the author free of charge. All opinions expressed in this review represent my honest opinions about the book. **This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you purchase the books through these links, I receive a small portion of the payment, which I use to support this blog. Thanks for your support!
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