Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Review Under a War-Torn Sky

Last week I read Under a War Torn Sky by L.M. Elliott published in 2001 and written for young adults.

Elliott based her historical fiction on her father's experiences during WWII and on the courage and experiences of the French Resistance fighters. She stays true to the language of the time, and they few swear words it contains are used in context.

This is a book that I think teen boys and any adult would like - or any teen or adult who is into WWII stories. It is well written, and some scenes are scary and sad. Considering what people went through during WWII, it is easy to understand why the people of that time are called the greatest generation. I don't know how so many survived so many horrible experiences. The story is set in France, behind enemy lines with Henry being a downed bomber pilot trying to get back to the Allied forces.

I loved the ending of this story - have a box of tissues handy because you will need them. I also loved the emotional growth of the main character, Henry Forrester. He went through a lot as a child because of his father, but his understanding of his father grows as he endures and continues to survive. Henry is the type of guy you would want to have come to dinner - he is good folk.

This book reminded me of Primo Levi's If Not Now, When? published in 1982, which was written for adults. Primo Levi is a masterful writer who survived the Holocaust and Auschwitz. His story is of Jewish Resistance fighters who made their way from Russia to Italy.

Elliot's novel also reminded me of Susan Campbell Bartoletti's novel, The Boy Who Dared, which is based on the true story of Hitler Youth and written for early middle school students. 

All three of theses books remind us that in dark times, there are good people willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to destroy evil and restore good. These books can help us find the courage and strength within to face our own personal battles. 

What books have strengthened your resolve to keep moving forward? Share in the comments below, and if you like my blog, follow, so that you don't miss any book talks. 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Favorites - Audrey and Don Wood

One of my favorite author pairs are Don and Audrey Wood. Audrey writes the stories and Don creates the magnificent illustrations. Their books are works of art with good stories and wonderful pictures.

I shared The Napping House with you on Wednesday, and it is such a fun book to read with little ones.

They created a sequel to this book that I don't yet own and haven't read, but it is on my to buy list:

Their award winning Heckedy Peg is a tale that is a bit scary. It was Matthew's favorite when he was in first grade. I've also read it to my middle school students and they love it. 

King Bidgood's in the Bathtub is a Caldecott Honor book with amazing artwork and a funny story. 

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear is a fun book for even the littlest child. My grandson, Jace, loves this book.

Elbert's Bad Word is a fun story about swearing and is also a favorite.

Jubal's Wish is a brightly colored book about friendship and happiness. 

If you google Don and Audrey Wood, you will see they have many other books that I have not yet read, but so far, I have enjoyed every book I've read by these two great children's authors. Here is a link to their website: Audrey and Don Wood

Do you have a favorite children's book author or illustrator? Share in the comments below so that I can be on the look out for even  more great children's books.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Throwback Thursday - Humbug Witch

On Thursday's I will feature a book that is at least 30 years old - so published in 1985 or earlier.

In keeping with my books for kids theme from yesterday, here is my favorite book from when I was a little girl: Humbug Witch by Lorna Balian published in 1965.
This book delighted me as a child, is fun to read, and has a surprise ending. This book stands the test of time and is still just as delightful today as it was when it was first published. The pictures are fun and Lorna Balian uses font size to make the book even more fun to read.  The big font is read in a louder voice and the little font is read in a little voice. 

I won't give away the surprise ending in case you haven't read this book. I used to check this book out twice a month at my school library. I was happy when I rediscovered this book as an adult so that I could share it with my children and grand children. Thanks, Lorna Balian for the memories. 

What was your favorite childhood book?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Read to Your Babies

It is never too early to start reading to your baby. Reading to our babies, besides being comfort time for everyone involved, helps build your child's attention span, exposes them to words they may not hear, helps them know how to follow a story, and shows them how to handle a book.

In my 8th grade reading class, I can tell which students have been read to and which ones have not. Kids who are read to, enjoy hearing stories and are able to focus and listen better than those who are not read to. Books geared toward early childhood readers help  children learn about colors, numbers, letters, rhyme, rhythm, and allows them to feel loved while they sit on mom's or dad's lap. recently published an article about reading to our littlest children. I found it interesting and hope you will as well.  Article: This is your child's brain on reading

Books my children and grandchild have enjoyed in early infancy:

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle is one of our family's favorites. I read to Isaac when he was still in the NICU, and he actually looked at the pages and listened. This story has great rhythm and repetition, which is great for developing readers. When they get old enough to talk, they will say, "And he was still hungry!" The Very Hungry Caterpillar is also sold as a board book for when your baby starts grabbing things. This will allow your baby to handle the book without damaging it.

I memorized Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak when my youngest daughter was little. She loved this Caldecott Winning book the most and even slept with it each night.

Our grand son Vincent, fourteen months, loves Animal Hide and Seek. The pages of this board book and the flaps to lift and find the animals are sturdy for little hands. This book also teaches about numbers and counting.

Aria, our eleven month old grand daughter loves this book: Llamas in Pajamas by Russel Punter and David Semple. It is one of the phonics readers, so it rhymes and is fun to read. 

Olivia, our ten month old grand daughter, loves all of the touchy feely That's Not My books from Usborne books. The That's not my collection contains books that are durable board books with different textures on each page. I have several of these at my house for when the grand babies visit. Here are two  of their favorites: 

Our nine month old grand daughter, Charlie, loves the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin and John Archambault. This book has great rhythm and repetition that even the littlest of babies will respond to. 

One of my favorite author/illustrator pairs are Don and Audrey Wood who wrote and illustrated The Napping House. Don's illustrations are divine. He includes a little flea on each page that your child will love to find when he or she is old enough. This book also has repetition and rhythm. I'll write a blog post about Don and Audrey Woods in the future. 

My youngest son's favorite was Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. This book has repetition and rhythm, and of course the wonderful SNORT. He memorize the book and then "read" it to his little niece who is only eighteen months younger than he is. This was also my middle son's favorite book.

My two oldest children loved Thingumajig books, but they are out of print and quite pricey. Thingumajig Book of Manners These books rhyme and have a great read aloud rhythm if you are lucky enough to find a copy. 

Other books your baby may love:

As you can see, we are a reading family, and while each of my children and grandchildren have a different level of interest in reading and enjoy different types of books, this book grandma will do her best to help each one become a lifelong reader. 

What are some of your child's favorite storybooks? Share in the comments because I'm always looking for new titles to add to my collection.