Thursday, December 31, 2015

December Reflections

In December, I read books 38 books.

Board books:

  1. Board book: Christmas At Last! Sam Hearn. Illustrated by Penny Dann. 2015. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Picture books:
  1. There's No Such Thing As Little. LeUyen Pham. 2015. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.
  3. When Santa Was A Baby. Linda Bailey. Illustrated by Genevieve Godbout. 2014/2015. Tundra Books. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  4. Santa's Sleigh Is On Its Way to Texas. Eric James. Illustrated by Robert Dunn. 2015. Sourcebooks. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Oh, the Places You'll Go. Dr. Seuss. 1990. Random House. 44 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. Daisy-Head Mayzie. Dr. Seuss. 1994. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. My Many Colored Days. Dr. Seuss. Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. 1996. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky. Illustrated by Lane Smith. 1998. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories. Dr. Seuss. 2011. Random House. 72 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories. Dr. Seuss. 2014. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library] 
  11. What Pet Should I Get? Dr. Seuss. 2015. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
  12. The Nutcracker. Susan Jeffers. 2007. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]   
  13. Waiting for Santa. Steve Metzger. Illustrated by Alison Edgson. 2015. Tiger Tales. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  14. Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter. 1986/2006. 400 pages. [Source: Library] 
Middle grade fiction and nonfiction:
  1. Can't You Make Them Behave, King George? Jean Fritz. Illustrated by Tomie dePaola. 1977/1996. 48 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame. Illustrated by David Roberts. 1907/1983. Simon & Schuster. 244 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Adam and Thomas. Aharon Appelfeld. Translated by Jeffrey Green. 2015. Triangle Square. 160 pages. [Source: Library]  
  4. Escape from Baxters' Barn. Rebecca Bond. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. The Joy of a Peanuts Christmas: 50 Years of Holiday Comics. Charles M. Schulz. Introduction by Don Hall. 2000. Hallmark Books. 119 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. The Cabin Faced West. Jean Fritz. Illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky. 1958. 124 pages. [Source: Bought]
  7. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. C.S. Lewis. 1952. HarperCollins. 248 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. House Without a Christmas Tree. Gail Rock. 1974. 84 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  9. Clementine for Christmas. Daphne-Benedis-Grab. 2015. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  10. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Barbara Robinson. 1972. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Bought]
Adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. The Tale of Hill Top Farm. Susan Wittig Albert. 2004. 286 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Tale of Holly How (The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter #2) Susan Wittig Albert. 2005. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages.  [Source: Book I Bought]
  4. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Mark Twain. 1889. 258 pages. [Source: Bought] 
Christian fiction:
  1. The Photograph. Beverly Lewis. 2015. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Painter's Daughter. Julie Klassen. 2015. Bethany House. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  3. Keeping Holiday. Starr Meade. Illustrated by Justin Gerard. 2008. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. The Coming of the King. Norman Vincent Peale. Illustrated by William Moyers. 1956. Prentice-Hall. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Silent Night. Joseph Mohr. Illustrated by Susan Jeffers. 1984/2003. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Bought] 
Christian nonfiction:
  1. Then Sings My Soul. Robert J. Morgan. 2010. Thomas Nelson. 310 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. 52 Little Lessons from It's A Wonderful Life. Bob Welch. 2012. Thomas Nelson. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Behold the Lamb of God. Russ Ramsey. 2011. Rabbit Room Press. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional. Martin Luther. Edited by James C. Galvin. 2005. Zondervan. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Week in Review: December 20-31

Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories. Dr. Seuss. 2014. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
What Pet Should I Get? Dr. Seuss. 2015. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
Clementine for Christmas. Daphne-Benedis-Grab. 2015. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Mark Twain. 1889. 258 pages. [Source: Bought]   

My favorite was A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Seuss on Saturday #52

Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories. Dr. Seuss. 2014. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]

Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories contains "Horton and the Kwuggerbug," "Marco Comes Late," "How Officer Pat Saved The Whole Town," and "The Hoobub and the Grinch." These stories were published, I believe, in magazines throughout the 1950s.

Horton and the Kwuggerbug
First sentence:
It happened last May, on a very nice day
While the Elephant Horton was walking they say,
Just minding his business...just going his way...
When a Kwuggerbug dropped from a tree with a plunk
And landed on Horton the Elephant's trunk!
Premise/plot: Horton makes a deal with the Kwuggerbug, but, it's a deal that he comes to regret making because the Kwuggerbug isn't exactly honest and fair. The deal is this: The Kwuggerbug will give Horton half the nuts off the Beezelenut tree, if Horton will carry him to the tree on his trunk. But a deal is a deal, right? Will justice be done?

My thoughts: This is the "second" Horton story. It was published in 1951 in Redbook several years before Horton Hears a Who. Horton is just as LOVABLE as always. I love, love, love Horton as a character. And this one is just as great as Horton Hatches the Egg and Horton Hears a Who! Definitely not as well known perhaps. But if it had been published as a book in the 1950s, no doubt in my mind that it would be just as beloved.

Marco Comes Late
First sentence:
 "Young man!" said Miss Block. "It's eleven o'clock! This school begins promptly at eight-forty-five. Why this is a terrible time to arrive!"
Premise/plot: Marco Comes Late is the sequel to And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. "Something" is happening on Mulberry Street once again, and this time it's on his way TO school.

My thoughts: This is a much shorter adventure for Marco. But I liked it. I don't think it would have been "enough" for a book of its own perhaps. But it isn't a disappointment either. It was originally published in 1950.

How Officer Pat Saved the Whole Town
First sentence:
The job of an Officer of the Police
Is watching for trouble and keeping the peace.
He has to be sharp and he has to be smart
And try to stop trouble before it can start.
Premise/plot: This little story is all about TROUBLE and how it can start out small but grows and grows. That's what the "moral" of it is, I suppose. But it is GREAT fun in the telling. And it's set on Mulberry Street.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, LOVED How Officer Pat Saved the Whole Town. This story also appeared in Redbook in 1950. Seuss signed a contract to have Officer Pat published as a book, but it was later replaced in the contract with the publisher with Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories. Here's one little bit from the story:
The trouble with trouble is...trouble will spread. The yowl of that cat will wake Tom, Tim, and Ted, Those terrible triplets of Mrs. McGown. Then they'll yowl a yowl that'll wake this whole town. When trouble gets started, it always starts more! Those kids with their racket and ruckus and roar will frighten the bird, and the birds will come flapping down Mulberry Street with a yipping and yapping!
The Hoobub and the Grinch
First sentence:
The Hoobub was lying outdoors in the sun,
The wonderful, wonderful warm summer sun.
"There's nothing," he said, "quite as good as the sun!"
Then up walked a Grinch with a piece of green string.
"How much," asked the Grinch, "will you pay for this thing?"
Premise/plot: The Grinch is trying to sell the Hoobub a piece of string....will the Hoobub be deceived by the Grinch's clever use of words?

My thoughts: It may be short--just TWO PAGES. But don't underestimate it's cleverness. Not that I love, love, love it. But it worked for me!

Have you read Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

What Pet Should I Get? Dr. Seuss. 2015. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
We want a pet.
We want a pet.
What kind of pet
should we get?
Premise/plot: Siblings--a boy and a girl--have trouble deciding which pet to get. Their parents said, "yes" to one pet, but, not to two, or, three, or four. The problem? The kids have only to see an animal in the pet store, and, then they WANT it. This book is all about having to make up your mind...

My thoughts: I liked it. I didn't love, love, love it. But I liked it. It ends with the reader not knowing what pet they finally picked. I'm not sure I like the mystery ending. Is it wrong that I almost preferred the notes from the publisher to the actual text?! I found the notes from the publisher to be fascinating. In particular,
Dr. Seuss's first "pet" was a brown stuffed toy dog given to him by his mother. Ted--whose real name was Theodore Seuss Geisel--named it Theophrastus. Ted would keep Theophrastus for the rest of his life. The dog was often perched near his drawing board. In 1991, just days before his death at the age of eighty-seven, Ted gave Theophrastus to his stepdaughter Lea Grey. "You will take care of the dog, won't you?" he asked her.
Have you read What Pet Should I Get? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

I'll be posting a list of my TOP TEN books by Dr. Seuss later this week.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Clementine for Christmas

Clementine for Christmas. Daphne-Benedis-Grab. 2015. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Did I enjoy reading Daphne Benedis-Grab's Clementine for Christmas? Yes, very much! Was I a tiny bit worried about the contents since there was a dog on the cover? Yes, I admit to being a tiny bit worried. Can the book be trusted? Will it break my heart and make me cry?!

There are three narrators in the book: Josie, Oscar, and Gabby. The three are unlikely friends, in many, many ways. Josie is at best invisible, and, at worst, unpopular. Gabby seems to have it all, and to have it easy. She may be the new kid, but, she has more friends, more popular friends, than Josie who's lived there forever. And Oscar's story? Well, he can be trouble. In fact, it is because he is IN trouble that he comes to meet Josie and get to know her.

What brings these three together? Besides the fact that they all attend the same school, I mean. A hospital. Josie volunteers at the hospital. She dresses up. She sings. She dances. She listens. She talks. She comforts. Oscar? Well, he's "volunteering." He's doing community service for a month. He's the opposite of Josie. He's like Oscar the Grouch. He doesn't want to sing. He doesn't want to dance. He doesn't want to do ANYTHING at all that other people think it's fun to do. (Can you tell I listened to this record growing up.) Josie gets VERY tired of him refusing to sing, dance, and dress up. He's her volunteer partner, so she's stuck with him. Some of the patients are cheerier than he is! Of course, readers know why Oscar is a bit out of sorts. And it has to do with his home life....

Gabby, the third narrator, is a patient at the hospital. She's super-shocked to see Josie and Oscar show up in her room one day. Her illness is supposed to be a major secret. NO ONE at school is supposed to find out about her health. Will Josie and Oscar prove trustworthy?

Will these three unlikely friends become close friends, hang-out-in-public friends?

Several things connect the three. More than just the hospital. The fact that it's CHRISTMAS and there is a show to produce, for one. And also Clementine, the dog. Josie and Clementine are the true partners who brighten everyone's day....

I did enjoy this one. And Clementine is still alive and well at the end of the book. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Mark Twain. 1889. 258 pages. [Source: Bought]

It was in Warwick Castle that I came across the curious stranger whom I am going to talk about. He attracted me by three things: his candid simplicity, his marvelous familiarity with ancient armor, and the restfulness of his company—for he did all the talking.

Did I enjoy reading Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court? Yes!!!! Very, very much!

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is a story within a story. The narrator meets a talkative stranger, the stranger begins to relate a strange-but-true story--so we're told--and finally, the stranger hands the narrator an old manuscript to finish the tale. Most of the book except for the beginning and ending frames, IS the manuscript written by the talkative stranger.

Here is how that manuscript begins:
I am an American. I was born and reared in Hartford, in the State of Connecticut--anyway, just over the river, in the country. So I am a Yankee of the Yankees--and practical; yes, and nearly barren of sentiment, I suppose--or poetry, in other words.
Readers learn that this Yankee was mysteriously transported BACK in time to the days of King Arthur's Court. This manuscript is his story of those events: the people he met, the dangers he faced, the near-misses and close-calls of his adventures, the friendships he formed, and the nearly successful, progressive experiments he conducted. For this time-traveler, THE BOSS, as he came to be called, had lofty goals once he realized where he was and the unique opportunity he had to shape or reshape society. These goals, for example, included introducing technology and establishing education for all.

The book is quite entertaining and at times very amusing!!! There is some action to be sure, but, it is a comedy through and through.

Some of my favorite quotes:
The mere knowledge of a fact is pale; but when you come to realize your fact, it takes on color.
The only right way to classify the majestic ages of some of those jokes was by geologic periods. But that neat idea hit the boy in a blank place, for geology hadn't been invented yet. However, I made a note of the remark, and calculated to educate the commonwealth up to it if I pulled through. It is no use to throw a good thing away merely because the market isn't ripe yet.
Inherited ideas are a curious thing, and interesting to observe and examine. I had mine, the king and his people had theirs. In both cases they flowed in ruts worn deep by time and habit, and the man who should have proposed to divert them by reason and argument would have had a long contract on his hands. 
Spiritual wants and instincts are as various in the human family as are physical appetites, complexions, and features, and a man is only at his best, morally, when he is equipped with the religious garment whose color and shape and size most nicely accommodate themselves to the spiritual complexion, angularities, and stature of the individual who wears it. 
There never was such a country for wandering liars; and they were of both sexes. Hardly a month went by without one of these tramps arriving; and generally loaded with a tale about some princess or other wanting help to get her out of some far-away castle where she was held in captivity by a lawless scoundrel, usually a giant. Now you would think that the first thing the king would do after listening to such a novelette from an entire stranger, would be to ask for credentials—yes, and a pointer or two as to locality of castle, best route to it, and so on. But nobody ever thought of so simple and common-sense a thing at that. No, everybody swallowed these people's lies whole, and never asked a question of any sort or about anything. Well, one day when I was not around, one of these people came along—it was a she one, this time—and told a tale of the usual pattern. Her mistress was a captive in a vast and gloomy castle, along with forty-four other young and beautiful girls, pretty much all of them princesses; they had been languishing in that cruel captivity for twenty-six years; the masters of the castle were three stupendous brothers, each with four arms and one eye—the eye in the center of the forehead, and as big as a fruit. 
Would you believe it? The king and the whole Round Table were in raptures over this preposterous opportunity for adventure. Every knight of the Table jumped for the chance, and begged for it; but to their vexation and chagrin the king conferred it upon me, who had not asked for it at all.
Indeed, I said I was glad. And in a way it was true; I was as glad as a person is when he is scalped.
There, there, never mind, don't explain, I hate explanations; they fog a thing up so that you can't tell anything about it.
But that is the way we are made: we don't reason, where we feel; we just feel.
Take a jackass, for instance: a jackass has that kind of strength, and puts it to a useful purpose, and is valuable to this world because he is a jackass; but a nobleman is not valuable because he is a jackass. It is a mixture that is always ineffectual, and should never have been attempted in the first place. 
You can't reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.
Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising. 
They are common defects of my own, and one mustn't criticise other people on grounds where he can't stand perpendicular himself. 
Words realize nothing, vivify nothing to you, unless you have suffered in your own person the thing which the words try to describe.
Clarence was with me as concerned the revolution, but in a modified way. His idea was a republic, without privileged orders, but with a hereditary royal family at the head of it instead of an elective chief magistrate. He believed that no nation that had ever known the joy of worshiping a royal family could ever be robbed of it and not fade away and die of melancholy. I urged that kings were dangerous. He said, then have cats. He was sure that a royal family of cats would answer every purpose. They would be as useful as any other royal family, they would know as much, they would have the same virtues and the same treacheries, the same disposition to get up shindies with other royal cats, they would be laughably vain and absurd and never know it, they would be wholly inexpensive; finally, they would have as sound a divine right as any other royal house, and "Tom VII, or Tom XI, or Tom XIV by the grace of God King," would sound as well as it would when applied to the ordinary royal tomcat with tights on. "And as a rule," said he, in his neat modern English, "the character of these cats would be considerably above the character of the average king, and this would be an immense moral advantage to the nation, for the reason that a nation always models its morals after its monarch's. The worship of royalty being founded in unreason, these graceful and harmless cats would easily become as sacred as any other royalties, and indeed more so, because it would presently be noticed that they hanged nobody, beheaded nobody, imprisoned nobody, inflicted no cruelties or injustices of any sort, and so must be worthy of a deeper love and reverence than the customary human king, and would certainly get it. The eyes of the whole harried world would soon be fixed upon this humane and gentle system, and royal butchers would presently begin to disappear; their subjects would fill the vacancies with catlings from our own royal house; we should become a factory; we should supply the thrones of the world; within forty years all Europe would be governed by cats, and we should furnish the cats. The reign of universal peace would begin then, to end no more forever.... Me-e-e-yow-ow-ow-ow—fzt!—wow!" Hang him, I supposed he was in earnest, and was beginning to be persuaded by him, until he exploded that cat-howl and startled me almost out of my clothes. But he never could be in earnest. He didn't know what it was. He had pictured a distinct and perfectly rational and feasible improvement upon constitutional monarchy, but he was too feather-headed to know it, or care anything about it, either.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Week in Review: December 13-19

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky. Illustrated by Lane Smith. 1998. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories. Dr. Seuss. 2011. Random House. 72 pages. [Source: Library]
Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.
When Santa Was A Baby. Linda Bailey. Illustrated by Genevieve Godbout. 2014/2015. Tundra Books. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Santa's Sleigh Is On Its Way to Texas. Eric James. Illustrated by Robert Dunn. 2015. Sourcebooks. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
House Without a Christmas Tree. Gail Rock. 1974. 84 pages. [Source: Bought]
Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages.  [Source: Book I Bought]
The Cabin Faced West. Jean Fritz. Illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky. 1958. 124 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. C.S. Lewis. 1952. HarperCollins. 248 pages. [Source: Bought]
Behold the Lamb of God. Russ Ramsey. 2011. Rabbit Room Press. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]
52 Little Lessons from It's A Wonderful Life. Bob Welch. 2012. Thomas Nelson. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

This week's recommendation(s): I loved The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Cabin Faced West, and Doomsday Book.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Seuss on Saturday #51

Hooray for Diffendoofer Day! Dr. Seuss and Jack Prelutsky. Illustrated by Lane Smith. 1998. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
I've always lived in Dinkerville,
My friends all live here too.
We go to Diffendoofer School--
We're happy that we do.
Premise/plot: Diffendoofer School is different from other schools. The teachers teach their students to think. And the teachers are all unique and have their own way of teaching and celebrating knowledge. But one day, the school is threatened by a TEST. If their students don't do well on the test, then, the students will have to go to other schools. Will the students do well on the test? Even if they haven't spent time especially preparing for it?

My thoughts: I liked it. I wish I knew how much of the text was by Dr. Seuss and how much was by Jack Prelutsky. The art is certainly different and unique and complements the text quite nicely.

Have you read Hooray for Diffendoofer Day? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it! 

The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories. Dr. Seuss. 2011. Random House. 72 pages. [Source: Library]

The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories contains seven "lost" stories by Dr. Seuss. They include: "The Bippolo Seed," "The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga," "Gustav, The Goldfish," "Tadd and Todd," "Steak for Supper," "The Strange Shirt Spot," and "The Great Henry McBride." All stories were originally published in magazines in the 1950s.

The Bippolo Seed
First sentence:
One bright sunny day, a young duck named McKluck
Had a wonderful, wonderful piece of good luck.
He was walking along when he spied on the ground
A marvelous thing that is quite seldom found.
Premise/plot: A duck finds a magical bippolo seed, but, unfortunately is led astray by a cat. The bippolo seed grants wishes when planted, but, the cat is strongly encouraging the duck to wish for more and more and more. Nothing good ever comes from such greediness, and such is the case here...

My thoughts: I liked it. I did. It didn't wow me with this is the best story ever. But it was good.

The Rabbit, the Bear, and the Zinniga-Zanniga
First sentence:
Once of upon of a time, way down south,
Lived a very big bear with a very big mouth
And very big teeth in his very big jaws
And very big claws in his very big paws.
Premise/plot: Can a rabbit outsmart a bear?

My thoughts: It didn't make the best first impression on me. But once the story really got started, once the rabbit started talking--quick-talking--it improved. I still can't say I loved, loved, loved it. But it was a nice enough story.

Gustav, The Goldfish
First sentence:
The man who sold Gustav the Goldfish to us
Had warned us, "Take care! When you feed this small cuss
Just feed him a spot. If you feed him a lot,
Then something might happen! It's hard to say what."
Premise/plot: What do you think might happen if you feed a fish too much?!

My thoughts: I really love A Fish Out of Water. Seuss's story came first, of course. Seuss's story rhymes. I don't know which is the "better" of the two. Because one is super-familiar to me, and the other is not.

Tadd and Todd
First sentence:
One twin was named Tadd
And one twin was named Todd.
And they were alike
As two peas in a pod.
Premise/plot: Do both twins like being "as two peas in a pod"? Maybe. Maybe not.

My thoughts: It was okay. I didn't especially dislike it. I just wasn't especially impressed either.

Steak for Supper
First sentence:
When I'm all by myself and there isn't a crowd,
I guess that I sometimes get thinking-out-loud.
Premise/plot: Do you know the consequences of bragging? Read Steak for Supper and find out!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I did. It was very silly and fun. When a boy happens to "think out loud" that his family always has steaks for supper every Saturday night, someone--an Ikka--starts following him. The Ikka is soon joined by others--all with fanciful names, of course. They are all super-excited by the thought of eating STEAK. What will his parents think when they all arrive home?!

The Strange Shirt Spot
First sentence:
My mother had warned me:
"Stay out of the dirt."
But there, there I was
With a spot on my shirt!"

Premise/plot: A boy finds it nearly impossible to remove a stubborn spot from his shirt.

My thoughts: This idea was used again, and, perhaps used better in The Cat and the Hat Comes Back. I love, love, love that book. This one was fun, but, mainly because you could see where the idea came from.

The Great Henry McBride
First sentence:
"It's hard to decide,"
Said young Henry McBride.
"It's terribly, terribly hard to decide.
When a fellow grows up and turns into a man,
A fellow should pick the best job that he can."

Premise/plot: Henry McBride can't pick just one job he wants to have when he's all grown up...so he imagines having lots of jobs.

My thoughts: It was okay. I liked it fine.

Have you read The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it! 

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories and What Pet Should I Get. I'll be doubling up for the rest of the year each Saturday.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2015 Completed Challenge: Birthday Month Reading Challenge

Host: You, Me, and a Cup of Tea
Name: 2015 Birthday Month Reading Challenge (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books: 12
Note to self: remember to leave links to reviews on her linkies post. 

January:
Zora Neale Hurston.
Their Eyes Were Watching God. Zora Neale Hurston. 1937. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
Wilkie Collins
Jezebel's Daughter. Wilkie Collins. 1880. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
February:
Charles Dickens
Hard Times. Charles Dickens. 1854/1992. Everyman's Library. 336 pages.  [Source: Library]
Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the Banks of Plum Creek. Laura Ingalls Wilder. 1937. 340 pages. [Source: Library]
March:
Dr. Seuss
The Cat In the Hat. Dr. Seuss. 1957. Random House. 61 pages.  [Source: Library]
Lois Lowry
The Giver. Lois Lowry. 1993. Houghton Mifflin. 180 pages. [Source: Library]  
April:
Beverly Cleary
Ramona the Pest. Beverly Cleary. 1968. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
May:
Irene Hunt
Up A Road Slowly. Irene Hunt. 1966. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
June:
Sarah Dessen
Saint Anything. Sarah Dessen. 2015. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Library]
July:
Josephine Tey
The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought] 
August:
David Baldacci
Wish You Well. David Baldacci. 2000/2007. Grand Central Publishing. 432 pages. [Source: Library]September:
Jon Scieszka
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Lane Smith. 1989. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
October:
Julie Andrews (Edwards)
The Great American Mousical. Julie Andrews Edwards. 2006. HarperCollins. 160 pages. [Source: Library]
November:
Louisa May Alcott
Eight Cousins. Louisa May Alcott. 1874. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
December: Connie Willis
Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages.  [Source: Book I Bought]


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, December 18, 2015

Click Clack Ho Ho Ho

Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.

First sentence: Snow is falling. Lights twinkle. A few creatures are stirring. It is Christmas Eve. There is a jingle in the air. Farmer Brown stops to listen. Santa is on his way.

Premise/plot: Farmer Brown is settling in to enjoy a nice Christmas. He's blissfully unaware of what some of the "creatures" on his farm are plotting or planning. Readers should pay careful attention to all the illustrations. They can track Santa's journey as well. But my guess is that the repetitive refrain: Ho, Ho, Uh-oh, might just be their favorite part.

My thoughts: I think it must be really difficult to write a really, actually, GOOD Christmas-themed picture book. You can read a dozen or so Christmas books, and, only find one or two that stand out as being entertaining, or, FUNNY. (Funny as opposed to being sentimental, or, a book that is supposed-to-make-you-cry.) You also encounter plenty of books with awkward, forced rhymes. Or books where you're left asking, "And the point of this was....?!"

But Doreen Cronin's Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! was good, really, really good. I liked the beginning, the middle, and the end. It was predictable in all the right ways. I love how the text and illustrations work together to build a suspenseful story. The readers definitely are more aware than poor Farmer Brown!!!

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

When Santa Was a Baby

When Santa Was A Baby. Linda Bailey. Illustrated by Genevieve Godbout. 2014/2015. Tundra Books. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When Santa was a baby, he was soft and round and cuddly, and his parents thought he was wonderful.

Premise/plot: Ever wondered what Santa was like as a baby or a child? This picture book aims to tell just that. There are clues throughout the text that Santa has always been very Santa-like even as a baby. For example, as a baby his mom notes, "And his dear little nose, like a cherry!" And instead of cooing or making other gentle, baby noises, Santa booms loudly and strongly: Ho, Ho, Ho!

My thoughts: I don't know honestly what I think of this one! Just when I think, yes, I like this one, I'll keep reading and change my mind again. I think I changed my mind two or three times as I was reading and rereading. There are definitely some cute instances in this book, if nothing else.

For example,
What a lovely time Santa had opening his presents! He had an even lovelier time wrapping them up again and putting them in a sack. "What's he doing?" asked his mom. "Beats me," said his dad. They watched in amazement as Santa rode down the street, giving away his presents to all the boys and girls.
The illustrations are unusual. Delightful at times, and, just a bit strange at other times. There were things I definitely liked, and things I definitely didn't like about the illustrations. Just so you know, there are at least two naked baby bottoms, and quite a few diaper bottoms.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Santa's Sleigh Is On Its Way To Texas

Santa's Sleigh Is On Its Way to Texas. Eric James. Illustrated by Robert Dunn. 2015. Sourcebooks. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The moon over Sixth Street gives off a cool glow. The stars twinkle like there's a secret they know! The evening sky is especially bright. "Hey Santa! Hey Santa! Please visit tonight."

Premise/plot: A Christmas book that celebrates place-names in Texas. The framework of the story is that there is one little Texan who won't go to bed, so, Santa keeps postponing his visit to his house and makes all his other deliveries in Texas first. But essentially, just a book with a lot of Texas locations mentioned.
In Dallas the yawns become stronger and stronger. The children of Plano can't stay up much longer. From Fort Worth to Lubbock, and San Antone too, They're soon sleeping soundly, all children but you!
My thoughts: I find this an awkward read. I'm not sure if it's the fact that most of it is written in second person. Or if its because the rhythm or rhyme is just off for me. There were things I liked about it. The first five pages aren't written in second person and addressed directly to the reader. And the illustrations for one spread in particular show that Texas is diverse.

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 5

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Doomsday Book (1992)

Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages.  [Source: Book I Bought]

Mr. Dunworthy opened the door to the laboratory and his spectacles promptly steamed up.
"Am I too late?" he said, yanking them off and squinting at Mary.
"Shut the door," she said. "I can't hear you over the sound of those ghastly carols."
Dunworthy closed the door, but it didn't completely shut out the sound of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" wafting in from the quad. "Am I too late?" he said again.  

This is my fourth time to read and review Connie Willis' Dooms Day Book.  This not-so-little novel combines my love of historical fiction and my love of science fiction. It does so, of course, through time travel. Kivrin, the heroine, will be the first historian--first time traveler--sent to the fourteenth century. The century has just recently, and perhaps unadvisedly, been opened up to time travel. Kivrin will be traveling to a "safe" year: 1320. But Mr. Dunworthy fears that there is no such thing as a SAFE year within the fourteenth century. She's studied and prepped for this for years now, this is HER ONE BIG LIFE-DREAM. And certainly the worries of an "old professor" like Mr. Dunworthy won't stop her from going. But is Mr. Dunworthy right to worry?!

It is set--in the future and the past--during the Advent-Christmas-Epiphany season. The book examines the role of faith and religion, at the very least during this season of the year. But, in particular, it addresses the question of God and suffering. I would never say it is a "religious" book, but, Kivrin, in particular is sent to a century where belief in God IS a matter of fact and the church had more power and influence. Christian readers should note that Mr. Dunworthy and Kivrin both misunderstand much of who God is and what the Christian faith is all about.

Doomsday Book might be "just right" for you if...

  • You enjoy science fiction, in particular time travel
  • You enjoy historical fiction
  • You enjoy medical mysteries
  • You enjoy compelling dramas
  • You enjoy character-driven novels 
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, December 14, 2015

House Without A Christmas Tree

House Without a Christmas Tree. Gail Rock. 1974. 84 pages. [Source: Bought]

Carla Mae and I were sitting in our little kitchen at the old wooden table, with our spoons poised in mid-air. In front of each of us was a hard-boiled egg perched in an egg cup. We both stared intently at the faces we had drawn on our eggs. The longer the stare, the better the hex. "Who's yours today?" she asked. "Billy Wild," I said, making a face. 

The House Without a Christmas Tree is a nice holiday read. Addie Mills is the ten-year-old heroine in the novel. As Christmas approaches, she has one thing on her mind. Will this be the year that her Father gives in her begging--her pleading, her imploring--and buys a Christmas tree? Or will this be another disappointing Christmas season? She can't ever recall having a tree of her very own. She's not sure she completely believes her father's excuse that since they'll be spending Christmas day at her uncle's house--and he has a tree--that there is no need for a tree of their own. Her grandmother is on her side. But both seem a bit timid, and hesitant, to speak their full minds in front of Father.

Here are some other things it's nice to know about Addie:
  • She is best, best friends with Carla Mae.
  • She is worst friends with Tanya Smithers.
  • She definitely does not like-like Billy Wild. (Or does she?)
  • She loves her Grandma, and feels fiercely protective of her.
  • She loves but does not understand her Father at all.
  • She feels very misunderstood by her Father.
  • She's curious about the mother she never knew.
The book is set in a small town in 1946.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Cabin Faced West

The Cabin Faced West. Jean Fritz. Illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky. 1958. 124 pages. [Source: Bought]

Ann Hamilton swept the last of the day's dust out of the door into the sunset. Even the cabin faced west, Ann thought as she jerked the broom across the flat path the daylight made as it fell through the open doorway. It was the only place the daylight had a chance to come in. The cabin was solid logs all the way around without another opening anywhere. Its back was turned squarely against the East just as her father had turned his back. Just as her older brothers, David and Daniel, had.

Did I enjoy reading Jean Fritz's The Cabin Faced West? YES!!! I loved, loved, LOVED it. It is the book that I probably would have read a dozen times or more if I'd read it as a kid. Honestly I probably would have worn the cover off of a copy! But I didn't "discover" this until I saw a copy on clearance for fifty cents at a used book store a few years ago decade ago. I do wish I'd taken the time to read it when I bought it! I probably would have read it a couple of times more at least. I am an again-again reader.

The Cabin Faced West is a children's historical novel. It is set in the days after the American Revolution. Ann Hamilton is the ten-year-old heroine. She has not decidedly "turned HER back" to the East as her father and brothers. She really, really misses Gettysburg: her old home, her friends, the family she left behind. She misses having a community close by--a community of girls her own age. There are a handful of neighbors about, but, do those neighbors have girls anywhere near her own age--NO, they do not. Just boys and babies, boys and babies. The boy closest her own age is named Andy. And he's "the worst of them all" at least sometimes.

I liked this one start to finish. I did. I loved the characters. Loved Ann's meeting with Arthur Scott, and, then, of course her meeting with GEORGE WASHINGTON. And I loved learning that elements of this one are true, and, that the story is based--perhaps loosely--on the author's family history.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Week in Review: December 5-12

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Barbara Robinson. 1972. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Joy of a Peanuts Christmas: 50 Years of Holiday Comics. Charles M. Schulz. Introduction by Don Hall. 2000. Hallmark Books. 119 pages. [Source: Bought]
Adam and Thomas. Aharon Appelfeld. Translated by Jeffrey Green. 2015. Triangle Square. 160 pages. [Source: Library]
Escape from Baxters' Barn. Rebecca Bond. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Tale of Hill Top Farm. Susan Wittig Albert. 2004. 286 pages. [Source: Bought]
Tale of Holly How (The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter #2) Susan Wittig Albert. 2005. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
The Nutcracker. Susan Jeffers. 2007. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
Waiting for Santa. Steve Metzger. Illustrated by Alison Edgson. 2015. Tiger Tales. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Daisy-Head Mayzie. Dr. Seuss. 1994. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
My Many Colored Days. Dr. Seuss. Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. 1996. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
The Photograph. Beverly Lewis. 2015. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Painter's Daughter. Julie Klassen. 2015. Bethany House. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Keeping Holiday. Starr Meade. Illustrated by Justin Gerard. 2008. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's recommendation(s): The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and The Tale of Hill Top Farm.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Seuss on Saturday #50

Daisy-Head Mayzie. Dr. Seuss. 1994. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:  It's hard to believe such a thing could be true, And I hope such a thing never happens to you. But it happened, they say, to poor Mayzie McGrew. And it happened like this...

Premise/plot: Mayzie McGrew shocks everyone--first everyone at her school, and, then later the nation--when a daisy suddenly appears growing out the top of her head. So many unanswered questions?! What's to be done?!

My thoughts: I had never read this one before. Was I missing out? Not really. The story is a bit out of control and all over the place. Which may sound like a typical Seuss story, and, in many ways--at least in theory--it was. It just lacked a certain something. 

Have you read Daisy-Head Mayzie? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

My Many Colored Days. Dr. Seuss. Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. 1996. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Some days are yellow. Some are blue. On different days I'm different too.

Premise/plot: There's a color for each mood in My Many Colored Days.

My thoughts: I like the idea of this one, the premise of it. I like the exploration of moods and emotions and feelings. Of feeling many different ways, and, yet still being "me." I also appreciate the simplicity of the text. Some Seuss books are so very, very text-heavy.

Have you read My Many Colored Days? Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Hooray for Diffendoofer Day and The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories. I'll be doubling up for the rest of the year each Saturday.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Waiting for Santa

Waiting for Santa. Steve Metzger. Illustrated by Alison Edgson. 2015. Tiger Tales. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Bear woke early with a tingle in his tummy. "Wake up, everybody!" he called. "Tomorrow's Christmas! We've got to get ready for Santa Claus!"

Premise/plot: Who is waiting for Santa? A lot of animals are waiting for Santa. Perhaps the most enthusiastic being, of course, the cute, adorable bear. One animal, however, is not a believer. Badger. Badger tries to tell Bear, Mouse, Mole, and Hedgehog that they are wasting their time waiting for Santa, preparing for Santa, decorating for Santa. But Bear keeps everyone believing. Will he be rewarded for his faith?

My thoughts: Honestly, I love, love, love the illustrations by Alison Edgson. I do. The Hedgehog, Bear, and Badger are just oh-so-adorable and really all the characters are nicely done. The story itself, however, didn't wow me. It was okay. It was nice enough.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Adam and Thomas

Adam and Thomas. Aharon Appelfeld. Translated by Jeffrey Green. 2015. Triangle Square. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

Adam & Thomas by Aharon Appelfeld is newly translated into English by Jeffrey M. Green. And, if you're like me, and seek to read as many World War II books as possible in any given year, it's worth seeking out.

The book opens with Adam and his mother in the forest. She's leaving him, leaving him with a promise that she'll return when it's safe, but ultimately leaving him on his own. He doesn't stay on his own, however, for later that same day he finds another boy his own age whose mother had also brought him to the forest. His name is Thomas. The two boys are quite different from one another. But they're both Jewish, both seeking to escape the ghetto before it is liquidated, both unsure of the future. Though Adam is a positive thinker if ever there was one.

Can the two boys survive the horrors of both war and nature in the forest? Will they find enough food to eat in the forest? What about in winter? How will they stay warm? Dare they try to light a fire?

"Enjoyed" is such a wrong word given the context and content of this one. But I found it a quick, overall hopeful read. I liked Thomas and his dreams. I liked Adam and his resourcefulness and hope. I liked how these two made a point of helping others who fled into the forest to try to escape the Nazis.

I also liked Miro and Mina. Mina is another Jewish girl hiding out in the country. Miro is Adam's oh-so-loyal dog that tracks him down after several weeks or months and joins the boys in the forest.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker. Susan Jeffers. 2007. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve at the Stahlbaums' house. Marie and her little brother, Fritz, were listening at the ballroom door, waiting for the party to begin.

Premise/plot: An age-appropriate retelling of the Nutcracker ballet. In the author's note, Jeffers mentions that while there are plenty of Nutcracker adaptations and retellings, they tend to be very text-heavy. Her book seeks to tell the familiar story of the ballet in a way that you could actually share it with young children.

My thoughts: I love the Nutcracker. I do. This retelling worked very well for me. I liked the text very much. It was just the right amount of text, in my opinion. It seemed only right, to me at least, that so much is conveyed visually through the illustrations. The illustrations take center-stage. Now I do love the text, but I do think one could flip through the illustrations and get the main idea of the story.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Tale of Holly How

Tale of Holly How (The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter #2) Susan Wittig Albert. 2005. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

I definitely enjoyed The Tale of Holly How by Susan Wittig Albert. It is the second book in her Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter mystery series. I think the book will appeal to adults with an interest in historical fiction, cozy mysteries, animals (especially cats and dogs), and children's literature. The series stars Beatrix Potter and a LARGE cast of animals. So glad my mom recommended reading this series. She actually started reading me quotes from a book in this series.

So there are at least two or three mysteries in The Tale of Holly How. One involves a local murder. One involves badger-baiting and missing sheep. One involves fraud and attempted murder. I found it interesting that the narration is so varied. Sometimes animals are narrating the story, passing along clues, putting it all together and solving things. Other times it's the humans at work narrating the story. Sometimes commenting on the animals' strange-to-them behavior. It was interesting to see the village setting and all the relationships. It has a very COZY feel to it. And it's just so PLEASANT to read.

I look forward to reading more in the series.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Escape from Baxters' Barn

Escape from Baxters' Barn. Rebecca Bond. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I enjoyed reading Escape from Baxters' Barn. Burdock, the 'hero' of the book, happens to hear an argument in the house. He reports the shocking truth of what he heard to the other barn animals later that day. While a few animals hold out hope for a day or two that maybe just maybe the situation isn't all that bad, it soon becomes clear that it IS that bad. The animals will have to seriously brainstorm and work together if they want to survive.

There is a certain intensity to Escape from Baxters' Barn. While readers may think it unlikely for the book to end in a disaster, the book is plotted so intensely that one gets caught up in worrying. I'll clarify. That was my personal experience. I was getting nervous, and I felt the need to check and double-check the ending to make sure that I wasn't going to regret picking it up!!! If I didn't have the ability to CHEAT when reading animal books, I'm not sure I'd ever pick one up and read it.

I liked the characters. I liked all the animals. And I liked how it all came together.

I don't always think of books to pair with another book, but in this case, it just came naturally. I would recommend Arthur, For the Very First Time by Patricia MacLachlan and Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, December 07, 2015

The Joy of a Peanuts Christmas

The Joy of a Peanuts Christmas: 50 Years of Holiday Comics. Charles M. Schulz. Introduction by Don Hall. 2000. Hallmark Books. 119 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Joy of a Peanuts Christmas is a collection of holiday-themed comic strips. Some are black-and-white, some are color. The book is divided into decades: 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The strips themselves are not in chronological order. Though strips that tell a continuing story are in order. Throughout the book, tribute is paid to each character: Charlie Brown, Pig-Pen, Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, Sally, Woodstock, Schroeder, Snoopy, Marcie, Franklin, Spike.

I enjoyed this one very much. It felt very timeless. The characters didn't really change through the years. They remained in spirit very much the same which is one reason why I think it works so well.

Do I have a favorite character? Yes. Of course, I do. It's Linus!!! But I also love, love, love Snoopy.

Do I have a favorite comic strip? That would be harder to answer. There were so many I enjoyed within this collection.  I liked Charlie Brown making so many snowmen in the February 22, 1953, strip. I liked Pig-Pen's dirtiest snowman in the January 6, 1955, strip. Lucy isn't my favorite by any stretch, but the December 21, 1959 strip made me smile. I thought the strip from December 19, 1958, was funny but also a little sad at the same time. In it, Linus suggests addressing Santa as "Dear, O, Mighty One'. Though essentially, anytime Linus is writing Santa or thinking about writing Santa I enjoyed it. And then, of course, there are the strips of Linus preparing to be a shepherd for the play. Loved those! Sally is another favorite, though not perhaps as much as Linus and Snoopy. I loved her hanging up dozens of tiny stockings (1966). In 1978, Sally wrote a report about Santa and his RAIN GEAR. But one of my favorites stars both Snoopy and Sally. It's from November 28, 1995.

Do you have a favorite character?

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, December 06, 2015

Library Loot: First Trip in December

New Loot:
  • How to be a Baby by Me, The Big Sister by Sally Lloyd-Jones
  • Mark Twain's Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, and Essays
  • Mark Twain's Historical Romances: The Prince and the Pauper, The Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Joan of Arc.
  • The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

Leftover Loot:
  • Spell Robbers by Matthew J. Kirby
  • The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
  • Mio, My Son by Astrid Lindgren
  • The Ultimate Guide to Grandmas and Grandpas by Sally Lloyd-Jones
  • Steadfast Heart by Tracie Peterson
  • Connect the Stars by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
  • The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage
  •  Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss
  • The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss
  • What Pet Should I Get by Dr. Seuss
  • Horton and the Kwuggerbug and More Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss
  • A Spider On the Stairs by Cassandra Chan
  • The Door Into Summer by Robert Heinlein
  • Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  • How Many Sleeps 'Til Christmas by Mark Sperring
  • The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
  • Finding Fortune by Delia Ray
  • The Astounding Broccoli Boy by Frank Cottrell Boyce
  • Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas
  •  Nurse Matilda by Christianna Brand
  • The Year of Fear by Joe Urschel
  • Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • The Tale of Hawthorn House by Susan Wittig Albert
        Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Meet Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Hill Top Farm. Susan Wittig Albert. 2004. 286 pages. [Source: Bought]

Did I enjoy reading Susan Wittig Albert's The Tale of Hill Top Farm? Yes. It is one of the reasons I decided to host the Edwardian Reading Challenge. (Not the only reason, mind you, but one reason.) What did I love about it? There were quite a few things that I actually really loved about it.

First, it's a cozy mystery.

Second, it's a cozy mystery set in England, at the turn of the century. It opens circa 1905.

Third, it stars Beatrix Potter, and, is very loosely based on her time in the country. (Not that I would ever mistake it for nonfiction. It is clearly fiction!)I like the rural village setting. I like the community focus. Plenty of quirky characters.

Fourth, it's a happy-cozy blend of human and animal narration. Readers meet animals of all sorts--big and small. Cats. Dogs. Sheep. Badgers. Guinea pigs. Mice. Rabbits.

The fifth reason? Do I really need a fifth reason to convince you to give it a try? Perhaps not, but I've got one anyway! I like multiple mysteries per book. Not every "mystery" is a murder mystery.

I would definitely recommend this book. I am looking forward to reading on in the series.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2016 Challenges: Charity Reading Challenge (Signing up for my own challenge)

Charity Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews Sign up
Duration: January 2016-December 2016
 # of books: 24 (I'm hoping for two a month!)

The majority of the books I read will have been purchased at my local charity bookshop which supports the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. A few may come from library book sales as well.

January's Charity Books: 0
February's Charity Books: 2
  1. Hans Brinker, Or, The Silver Skates. Mary Mapes Dodge. 1865. 244 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. First Love. 14 Warm and Glowing Stories Selected by Gay Head. 1963. Scholastic Book Services. 188 pages. [Source: Bought] 
March's Charity Books: 3
  1. Ann Likes Red. Dorothy Z. Seymour. Illustrated by Nancy Meyeroff. 1965. 28 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. The Screwtape Letters. C.S. Lewis. 1942. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]  [adult fiction, christian classic]
  3. The Sins of the Wolf (William Monk #5). Anne Perry. 1995. 436 pages. [Source: Bought]
April's Charity Books: 1
  1. Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare. 1599/2004. SparkNotes. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
May's Charity Books: 4
  1. The Children's Homer. Padraic Colum. 1918/1982. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Happy Little Family. Rebecca Caudill. 1947. 107 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. The Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 423 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]
June's Charity Books: 6
  1. Gidget. Frederick Kohner. 1957. 154 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. By the Great Horn Spoon! Sid Fleischman. 1963. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Dragon, Dragon and Other Tales. John Gardner. Illustrated by Charles J. Shields. 1975. 73 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. Gudgekin, The Thistle Girl. John Gardner. 1976. 55 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Best In Children's Books. Volume 6. 1958. Nelson Doubleday. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. Best in Children's Books, Volume 31. 1960. Nelson Doubleday. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]
July's Charity Books: 2
  1. Hill of Fire. Thomas P. Lewis. Illustrated by Joan Sandin. 1971. 64 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. The House on the Strand. Daphne du Maurier. 1968. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]
August's Charity Books: 6
  1.  Amigo. Byrd Baylor. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1963. 48 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. The Day You Were Born. Evelyn Swetnam. Illustrated by Muriel Wood. 1971. 30 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. The Crate Train. Dorothy Z. Seymour. 1966. 25 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. Ballerina Bess. Dorothy Jane Mills and Dorothy Z. Seymour. 1965. 25 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. God Is Good. Mary Alice Jones. Illustrated by Elizabeth Webbe. 1955. 30 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. God Loves Me. Mary Alice Jones. Illustrated by Elizabeth Webbe. 1961. 30 pages. [Source: Bought]  
September's Charity Books:
  1. Emily's Runaway Imagination. Beverly Cleary. 1961. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]
October's Charity Books:
November's Charity Books:
December's Charity Books:

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2016 Challenges: Edwardian Bingo Challenge (Joining my own challenge)

Edwardian Bingo Challenge; The Edwardian Era is 1901-1910 officially, or, unofficially 1901-1914
Hosted by Becky's Book Reviews
Sign up 
Duration: November 2015 - December 2016
Goal: My goal is to get at least two bingos on my card.

The 16 categories:

a British author,
a non-British author,
a book that you wish had been made into a movie,
reread of your choice,
a male author,
a female author, 
a book that has been made into a movie,
a movie set during the Edwardian era,
a book under 180 pages,
any book published 1901-1910,
 nonfiction book about Edwardian Era,
an "orphan" book,
a book over 300 pages,
any book published 1910-1914,
fiction book set during the Edwardian era,
a fantasy novel.

Becky's Fulfilled Categories
A Fantasy Novel: The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame. Illustrated by David Roberts. 1907/1983. Simon & Schuster. 244 pages. [Source: Library]
A Female Author: (Beatrix Potter)
The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Beatrix Potter. 1902. [Source: Bought]
The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. Beatrix Potter. 1904. [Source: Bought]
Fiction Book Set During the Edwardian Era:
The Tale of Hill Top Farm. Susan Wittig Albert. 2004. 286 pages. [Source: Bought]
A Book Over 300 Pages
 Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery. 1908. 448 pages. [Source: Bought] COMING OF AGE (MG, YA, Adult)
Any book published 1901-1910
Anne of Avonlea. L.M. Montgomery. 1909. 304 pages. [Bought] [children's classic, series book]
Nonfiction book about Edwardian Era
Churchill: The Power of Words. Winston S. Churchill. Edited by Martin Gilbert. Da Capo Press. 536 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2016 Challenges: World at War (Joining my own challenge)

World At War Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Sign up
Duration: December 2015 - December 2016
Goal: My goal is to get at least two bingos on my card; I'd love to fill the whole card though!!!

The categories:

  • Any book published 1914-1918
  • Any book published 1918-1924
  • Any book published 1925-1930
  • Any book published 1931-1938
  • Any book published 1939-1945
  • A nonfiction book about World War I
  • A nonfiction book about 1910s and 20s
  • A nonfiction book about 1920s and 30s
  • A nonfiction book about 1930s
  • A nonfiction book about World War II
  • A fiction book set during World War I
  • A fiction book set 1918-1924
  • A fiction book set in the 1920s
  • A fiction book set in the 1930s
  • A fiction book set during World War II
  • A book set in the United States or Canada
  • A book set in England, Ireland, or Scotland
  • A book set in Europe
  • A book set in Asia or Middle East
  • A book set elsewhere (a country/continent not already read for the challenge)
  • A book focused on "the war"
  • A book focused on "the homefront"
  • Watch any movie released in 1940s
  • Watch any movie released in the 1930s
  • Watch any movie about either war 
Becky's Fulfilled Categories:



© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2016 Challenges: Victorian Bingo (Signing up for my own challenge)

Victorian Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Duration: January - December 2016
Goal: Get at least one bingo, five books minimum
Sign up
The categories:

  • American male author
  • Anthony Trollope
  • Book That Has Been Adapted Into A Movie
  • Charles Dickens
  • American female author
  • Book published 1871-1880
  • Book about property, inheritance, economics
  • Children's book of your choice
  • Mystery, suspense, sensation
  • Book published 1837-1849
  • Book published 1881-1890
  • Wilkie Collins
  • Book by a European Author
  • Book with a name as the title
  • Book published 1861-1870
  • Book published 1891-1901
  • Book about courtship or marriage
  • Book of your choice
  • Speculative Fiction (Fantasy, Science Fiction, Time Travel, etc.)
  • Book published 1850-1860
  • British Female Author
  • Fiction book set during the Victorian era
  • Book or Movie about Queen Victoria
  • Nonfiction book about the Victorian era
  • British Male Author  
 Becky's Fulfilled Categories:

American Male Author: 
Joan of Arc. Mark Twain. 1895/1896. 452 pages. [Source: Library] MEDIEVAL FRANCE (Adult)
Book or Movie About Queen Victoria:
British Female Author
North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1854-1855. 452 pages. [Source: Bought] ADULT, CLASSIC, ROMANCE  
American Female Author
Hans Brinker, Or, The Silver Skates. Mary Mapes Dodge. 1865. 244 pages. [Source: Bought]  MG ADVENTURE, COMING OF AGE
Fiction book set during the Victorian era
The Sins of the Wolf (William Monk #5). Anne Perry. 1995. 436 pages. [Source: Library] [historical mystery, series book] 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, December 05, 2015

Week in Review: November 29-December 4

From November:
Tallulah's Toe Shoes. Marilyn Singer. Alexandra Boiger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
Tallulah's Tap Shoes. Mairlyn Singer. Illustrated by Alexandra Boiger. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
Board Book: Jingle Bells. James Lord Pierpont. Illustrated by Pauline Siewert. 2015. Candlewick. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Verses, 1847. Christina Rossetti. [Source: Bought]

From December:
The Wind in the Willows. Kenneth Grahame. Illustrated by David Roberts. 1907/1983. Simon & Schuster. 244 pages. [Source: Library]
Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter. 1986/2006. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
There's No Such Thing As Little. LeUyen Pham. 2015. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
Can't You Make Them Behave, King George? Jean Fritz. Illustrated by Tomie dePaola. 1977/1996. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
Board book: Christmas At Last! Sam Hearn. Illustrated by Penny Dann. 2015. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Oh, the Places You'll Go. Dr. Seuss. 1990. Random House. 44 pages. [Source: Library]
The Coming of the King. Norman Vincent Peale. Illustrated by William Moyers. 1956. Prentice-Hall. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
Silent Night. Joseph Mohr. Illustrated by Susan Jeffers. 1984/2003. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
Then Sings My Soul. Robert J. Morgan. 2010. Thomas Nelson. 310 pages. [Source: Bought]
Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional. Martin Luther. Edited by James C. Galvin. 2005. Zondervan. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]

This week's recommendation(s); I loved, loved, loved The Wind in the Willows.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Seuss on Saturday #49

Oh, the Places You'll Go. Dr. Seuss. 1990. Random House. 44 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!

Premise/plot: I'd describe Oh, The Places You'll Go as a motivational picture book for older readers. Not that young children don't need motivation, but, the advice, in my opinion, makes more sense for older readers--grown ups even. You are the you of the title. The whole book is written in second person.

My thoughts: I like this one. Do I love, love, LOVE it. I wouldn't get that carried away. But I do genuinely like it. I like how it's motivational and uplifting all the while being true-to-life and realistic.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don't. Because, sometimes you won't. I'm sorry to say so but, sadly, it's true that Bang-ups and Hang-ups can happen to you. You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.
Have you read Oh, The Places You'll Go! Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is Daisy-Head Mayzie and My Many Colored Days. I'll be doubling up for the rest of the year each Saturday.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2015 Completed Challenge: Back to Classics

Host: Books and Chocolate
Name: Back to Classics Challenge (sign up)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books: minimum six; twelve max.

I've completed all twelve categories; three entries for the prize drawing.

The twelve categories:

A 19th Century Classic:  Hard Times. Charles Dickens. 1854/1992. Everyman's Library. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
A 20th Century Classic: Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. 1932. 268 pages. [Source: Bought]
Classic by a Woman Author: Their Eyes Were Watching God. Zora Neale Hurston. 1937. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
Classic in Translation: The Little Prince. Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Translated by Richard Howard. 1943/2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Very Long Classic Novel:  Ayala's Angel. Anthony Trollope. 1881. 631 pages. [Source: Bought]
A Classic Novella: The Lilies of the Field by William Edmund Barrett (1962)
A Classic with a Person's Name in the Title: Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope. 1863. 403 pages. [Source: Bought]
Humorous or Satirical Classic: Miss Marjoribanks. Margaret Oliphant. 1866. 512 pages. [Source: Bought] 
A Forgotten Classic: Jezebel's Daughter. Wilkie Collins. 1880. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
Nonfiction Classic: The Life of Charlotte Bronte. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1857/1975. Penguin Classics. 623 pages. [Source: Bought]
Classic Children's Book: Thimble Summer. Elizabeth Enright. 1938/2008. SquareFish. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Classic Play: Trifles. A Play in One Act. Susan Glaspell. 1916. 20 pages. [Source: Read online]


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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