Thursday, August 20, 2015

Picture of Grace by Josh Armstrong - A Review

Picture of Grace

 Book Overview:

  • Author: Josh Armstrong
  • Illustrated by: Taylor Bills
  • Paperback: 36 pages
  • Publisher: Josh Armstrong (February 17, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0986237019
  • ISBN-13: 978-0986237010

Book Summary: 

"When I grow up, I want to be just like you," said Grace

"That's very kind of you," said Grandpa Walt, "but I can think of nothing better than you simply being yourself."

Six-year-old Grace aspires to be an artist like her beloved grandfather Walt. Every week, she goes to his house and watches with great joy as he paints.

Of course, not everyone appreciates Grandpa Walt's artwork. But as Walt tells Grace, "Some people appreciate the hard work while others just want the painting to be finished. But you can't be distracted by either group."

When tragedy strikes, Grace takes it upon herself to honor Grandpa Walt in a special way. Through her act of love and kindness, Grace's family discovers an amazing secret about Walt's final, unfinished masterpiece.

My Review:

This book is exactly why I love and stay open to reading self-published books. I adored this book from start to finish. This may not be a book that we would read every night, but it is a special book to provide comfort following the loss of a loved one.

Picture of Grace is impeccably written, beautifully illustrated, and thoughtfully laid out. This is a story about death and grief. It is difficult to read in that it is sad and much more direct than most children's books. It will bring a tear to your eye, but it will also bring warmth to your heart. What I love about this book is how it tells a story about grief and sadness without having to directly state how Grace feels about her grandfather dying. The illustrations are complementary to the text, leaving the most difficult of emotions to be shown and felt instead of said.

I liked that this book does not speak directly about religion, which allows a person to give Picture of Grace to a family dealing with loss of a loved one without fear of offending or conflicting with any singular religious view on death. I also appreciate how the book shows a child processing the emotions of grief instead of telling a child it will "be alright." In that sense, the book intelligently speaks to a child without talking down to a child, which is what I often find when I read books that address death.

I highly recommend this book. Please keep it in mind if you are searching for a warm way to ease the pain when a child loses someone they love.

To Purchase:

This book is available for purchase through Amazon by clicking on the image of the book: 

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!  

Monday, August 10, 2015

10 Things I Hate About Reading

For the past several weeks, I have been suffering from a bad case of writer's block. As my desire to create has waned, I have consumed my time usually spent blogging or writing with reading. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on in addition to reading with my children. But, I have to admit there are some things that I hate about reading.

1.  I hate when I become obsessed with wondering if the characters are thirsty, tired, or have to go to the bathroom. Is that even normal? I read this one book that was the second book in a series, and I don't think the kids in this book had stopped for one minute from their adventures. The whole time I was reading I kept thinking, 'Man, they must be so thirsty by now.' Or, 'Gosh, don't they have to pee? I've already gone three times since I started reading this evening.'

I honestly cannot keep reading a book if I feel like the characters basic needs are not being met by the author. Maybe I should have kept that one to myself.

2.  I hate it when a book changes so drastically at one point that it feels as though it was written by two different people. I am not sure if the author intends to do this or if they just get tired of writing or if an editor came along and finished up the book. What I am sure is that it bugs me to no end. I recently read Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks with my traveling book club. The final part of that book is so different, it doesn't even feel like it should be a part of the rest of the book. Again, I think I may be weird.

3.  I also read another book with my traveling book club that had a main character that was so polarizing that I found myself yelling at the book in disdain. Luckily, in our traveling book club we write notes in the books and then mail the books to each other. I had several other close friends also commenting in the margins that this character was completely unlikeable. (The book is titled The Basic Eight: A Novel by Daniel Handler in case you want to scream at a self-involved teenager.)

4.  Conversely, I hate reading books about characters that are so predictable that I get bored. I wish I had a nickle every time I read a beginner chapter book with my daughter and had to fight back the yawns. I am yawning now just thinking about yawning.

5.  Barbie books. I hate them. All of them. I know, hate is a strong word. But, a strong word is needed for this whole class of books that make me want to poke my eyes out.  Seriously, it is just one story told exactly 6 different ways that always involves Barbie needing to go on a date with Ken at the end. I *think* I have removed all the Barbie books from our house, but I am fairly certain they breed in the depths of my girls' bedrooms.
6.  And then there are the physical side effects of reading I hate. You know, when your arm or hands start to hur from holding a book for took long? This is usually followed by....

7.   being so tired after staying up all night to read *just a couple* more chapters. I hate how tired I am the next day. 

8.  Miss M and I both agree that we hate it when books have too many characters for the story. I get that some stories need a complicated cast of characters, like Harry Potter. However, have you ever read a children's book that had so many characters your children could not keep up or follow along? This is a common problem with grown-up books I read, but it breaks my heart when I come across this problem in a children's book. 

9. I have also noticed through the years that my children also have a strong aversion to characters created from inanimate objects. Make an animal a character all day long, but take a desk or a door and make it a character- no, just stop. I once read a book that had a character made out of a syringe. My daughter refused to read it with me. I don't blame her. If an inanimate object is to become a character, it better be done well and not totally creep me out. 

10. Finally, I hate it when a book ends and you are so sad because you want to immediately run out and talk to everyone about how amazing the book was to read. You know no one wants to hear your babble on about how you sort of, no really, *miss* the characters and wish you could meet them in real life. Have you ever just wanted to reach into the book and give a character a hug? I have. Am I normal? 

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