Friday, April 20, 2018

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl

Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl was published in 1975. The copy I own was illustrated by Quentin Blake. Danny and his father live in a Fortune Teller's caravan that is parked next to their filling station where they also repair cars. 

One night when Danny's father is out late, Danny learns that his father, his late-mother, and his grandfather used to poach pheasants from their rich neighbors land. They liked the secrecy of it, and although I am not a supporter of poaching in any manner. I enjoyed this story because of the relationship Danny has with his father. 

Their adventures get them into trouble, and the story is funny and often tender. Danny learns to drive while he is a child, and he is a big help to his father. I think children will like this story. I love the part when the baby is in the buggy and the birds are flying everywhere - too funny and a bit scary. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Another way to help our project is to purchase books from this Usborne link as we are currently using the hostess benefits to help buy books for the babies. You buy books that are delivered to your house for your children or grandchildren - or as baby shower gifts, and the hostess rewards help us get books for our NICU babies - a win win for all. Thanks to those of you who have already ordered; we are on our way to getting a lot of books for the babies. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

More NICU Donations

My doorbell rang the other day and my neighbor, Michelle, and her cute little grandson, Lucas, were there. Lucas had these books in his arms and told me they were "for the babies." He was so happy to share them. Thank you, Michelle and Lucas.


We had an Usbourne book party to benefit the NICU and the next two pictures are of books that were purchased from the party for the NICU. We also get more books for the NICU from our hostess benefits. 


This group of books was donated by Krysta Young. All of these will be well loved by the babies in the NICU. Usborne books are very sturdy and last. Thank you Krysta.

 Sharon Hall donated these books. Board books are so wonderful for little hands. They can take some nibbling and still hold up. Thank you, Sharon.

And just like that, we have books once again for the babies. 

Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Another way to help our project is to purchase books from this Usborne link as we are currently using the hostess benefits to help buy books for the babies. You buy books that are delivered to your house for your children or grandchildren - or as baby shower gifts, and the hostess rewards help us get books for our NICU babies - a win win for all. Thanks to those of you who have already ordered; we are on our way to getting new books for the babies. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

NICU Donations

Donations this week to our NICU babies include the following, plus I understand several of Angie's friends ordered books from our Usborne link to donate directly to the babies. I'll post pictures of those after I visit Angie. We will also be getting free books as hostess gifts from our Usborne link. 

Angela Jenson donated these books. They will be headed to the NICU waiting room and also to a local teacher's classroom. 

 Brittany Shaw donated these books that will be put into packets for the NICU babies.

Caitie Jolley sent a big box of books pictured in the next two pictures. The first books pictured will head to the NICU waiting room and to a local teacher's classroom.

This second batch that Caitie sent over will go into packets for the NICU babies.


I appreciate every book that is donated. Some of the used books get donated to local classrooms, but all the books find a home, so thank you all for helping spread the love of literacy across our community. 


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Another way to help our project is to purchase books from this Usborne link as we are currently using the hostess benefits to help buy books for the babies. You buy books that are delivered to your house for your children or grandchildren - or as baby shower gifts, and the hostess rewards help us get books for our NICU babies - a win win for all. Thanks to those of you who have already ordered; we are on our way to getting new books for the babies. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

I've been hearing a lot of good things about Jason Reynolds, but so far, Ghost is the first book I've read by him. It definitely won't be the last. Ghost is a book that makes me want to go back to teaching so that I can place this book in the hands of my students.

Castle aka Ghost is a boy who can run, but he's never run for a track team. When a coach sees his natural talent, will Castle be able to tame his anger to be able to be on a team?

Castle is so real. He makes mistakes, but he is also a good person. When he makes his big mistake, I was impressed with how Reynolds handled it. I liked that Ghost struggled with his feelings of guilt. He didn't know how to make things right after what he'd done. I loved Coach. Every child needs an adult like Coach in their life. He is tough but fair.

My only complaint was that I wanted this book to be longer. The good news is that this is the first of four books in the Track Series, so I can get more of the characters I've come to love. This book really is just the right length for middle grade and middle school students. This book brings up many great discussion points and can help children come up with a plan to deal with anger, frustration, feelings of inadequacy, and fear. It also shows how to be a friend and to be someone who can be trusted.

I listened to the incredible audio version that was narrated by Guy Lockard. They chose the perfect narrator for this novel. I was trying to get ready for work while listening, and had a hard time with my eye makeup because I was tearing up - a lot. This book made me laugh and cry, which is the sign of good writing.

Thank you, Jason Reynolds for a wonderful book.



Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Another way to help our project is to purchase books from this Usborne link as we are currently using the hostess benefits to help buy books for the babies. You buy books that are delivered to your house for your children or grandchildren - or as baby shower gifts, and the hostess rewards help us get books for our NICU babies - a win win for all. Thanks to those of you who have already ordered; we are on our way to getting a lot of books for the babies. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

I probably should have read Les Miserables sooner in my life, but now I can say that I've read this 1,463 page behemoth, although, actually, I listened to the audio version that was narrated by Frederick Davidson who is an absolutely wonderful narrator. He speaks French perfectly and has a wonderful accent. He was also very good at making the voices sound different from each other without making them grating. 

His voice also got me through the parts of the books where Hugo describes in detail the French sewer system; gives all the back story of every single character in the novel, even the bit players; describes at length the French justice system; gives 500 and eleventy-billion ways a man loves a woman, and every other place he spews words on the page like the flood of Noah's time. 

That being said, I loved this book. Yes, it is wordy; yes, Hugo needed an editor, badly. If you are a history buff, you will love every word of it, but I just wanted him to get back to Jean Valjean - back to the action of the story. Hugo paints complex characters. I wanted to reach in a smack M. Thenardier and rescue Fantine. I loved Javert's honesty and integrity. I loved seeing Jean ValJean grow and how M. Myriel, the bishop buys Jean ValJean's soul. 

I would read this book again. There is so much in this book. Hugo was ahead of his time. He shows the dangers of a society that is so caught up in appearances, social structure, wealth, and the letter of the law above the spirit of the law. He shows what happens to women when they don't have a support system. There were many bit players in the novel that were well written that I loved them as well. I like the moral message of this book that we all must help and lift one another because that is the most important thing of all. 


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Another way to help our project is to purchase books from this Usborne link as we are currently using the hostess benefits to help buy books for the babies. You buy books that are delivered to your house for your children or grandchildren - or as baby shower gifts, and the hostess rewards help us get books for our NICU babies - a win win for all. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Because I enjoyed the novel, Still Alice, I purchased Lisa Genova's Left Neglected, and I found it interesting. Published in 2011, Left Neglected is the fictional story of Sarah Nickerson, an incredibly busy mother of three who also has a demanding career. She multitasks herself into a brain injury that steals her ability to recognize the left side of her body.

This real condition is called Left Neglect.  I have two children who have suffered brain injuries, so I find this incredibly interesting. My children do not have left neglect, but reading about brain injuries helps me understand my own children a little better. A person with left neglect may not see anything on the left side, including their own body parts or food on a plate.

 So the food on the left side of the plate won't be eaten because it isn't seen.
A person with left neglect may not see their left side - it ceases to exist.

In Genova's book, Sarah must figure out how to function after her injury. This is hard because she is perfectionist, and that is no longer possible, but she must find a way to continue her life. I struggled to like Sarah, but by the end of the book, I understood more why she was the way she was. She struggled to love herself because of childhood losses and dysfunction in her home, which in turn made her unlikeable in many ways.

Genova's writing is always well researched. I appreciate the time and effort she makes to get it right.




Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Another way to help our project is to purchase books from this Usborne link as we are currently using the hostess benefits to help buy books for the babies. You buy books that are delivered to your house for your children or grandchildren - or as baby shower gifts, and the hostess rewards help us get books for our NICU babies - a win win for all. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges

Published in 1991, What's Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges is the book that one of my favorite movies is based on.

In some ways, I liked the movie better, but in other ways I liked the book better. Although there are differences, the movie kept the same feeling as the book.

The movie ignored the problem with sexual abuse that takes place in the book. It is not okay to have sex with a 15 or 16 year-old girl. Gilbert Grape was definitely  groomed to be a sexual partner of an adult woman before he was an adult. I liked that the movie didn't constantly use the R word like the book does.

In the small town of Endora, Gilbert sees no future for himself or his family. He is stuck as a caretaker for his little brother who has severe cognitive differences, his sisters who live in the house, and his mother who was once the town sweetheart but is now obese and needs constant care.

He is a clerk in a grocery store, and the hopelessness he feels permeated the entire story. This story will make you laugh and cry. I wanted Gilbert to win, to make right choices, and for the family to find happiness again. If you liked the movie you will like the book and if you liked the book, you will probably like the movie. The movie was well cast and well acted.



Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Another way to help our project is to purchase books from this Usborne link as we are currently using the hostess benefits to help buy books for the babies. You buy books that are delivered to your house for your children or grandchildren - or as baby shower gifts, and the hostess rewards help us get books for our NICU babies - a win win for all. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Defending Jacob by William Landay

I listened to the audio version of Defending Jacob by William Landay and couldn't stop listening. Published in 2012, this thriller will have you listening or turning pages until the story is over. I wanted more at the end. I wanted to know what would happen to the players long into the future, but it was still a good stopping place. 

Goodreads blurb: Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than twenty years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom, and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His fourteen-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student. Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He's his father. But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own - between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he's tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.

This book had me questioning: How much do I really know about my own child? At what lengths would I go to protect my child if I believed they were innocent of a crime? What is my responsibility if I think they are guilty?

I found myself putting myself in the role as Jacob's parents. Wondering about his innocence or guilt, feeling the guilt they must have felt, wondering if they were doing the right thing, wondering what they had done or not done to make Jacob's life better. This is definitely a well written page turner. 






Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Another way to help our project is to purchase books from this Usborne link as we are currently using the hostess benefits to help buy books for the babies. You buy books that are delivered to your house for your children or grandchildren - or as baby shower gifts, and the hostess rewards help us get books for our NICU babies - a win win for all. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Beneath by Roland Smith

I've talked about Roland Smith before. He is an excellent author for middle grade and young adult students. I just finished Beneath, book one of the Beneath Series. Published in 2015, Beneath tells the story of Pat O'Toole, a boy who has idolized his older brother Coop. Coop digs a tunnel that collapses, and after a fight with his parents, he leaves home. A year later, Pat gets a package from Coop with a recorder and a message that is cryptic. 

Pat find a way to go to NYC on his own to find his big brother. This story will force Pat to confront his fears in order to save his brother from beneath the streets of NYC. Apparently there is a whole city down there.

Smith is a writer I trust for kids. The chapters in the book are short, the text is well spaced, and there is plenty of white space on the page. This fast paced story is a good Hi/Lo book with the Lexile HL610. 

I liked the character development in this story. I found the characters believable and capable of change.

Book two is titled Above , but I have not yet read it. 

We've had two donations to our NICU book project this week.

Some nice person dropped these cute little board books off at my mom's work recently. They are just the right size for small hands. Thank you, whomever you are. We appreciate your generosity. 

My sweet mother donated 100 two gallon zip bags for us to make packets. These bags keep the books safe during transport and while parents are at baby's bedside during their often lengthy hospital stays. Thank you, Momma.


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Another way to help our project is to purchase books from this Usborne link as we are currently using the hostess benefits to help buy books for the babies. You buy books that are delivered to your house for your children or grandchildren - or as baby shower gifts, and the hostess rewards help us get books for our NICU babies - a win win for all. 

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A Good Week for the NICU Book Project

This week we've had three different donations to our NICU book project.

Michelle donated these three books:
The McKay Dee foundation donated six books, and for some reason, the picture of those books got eaten by cyberspace, and I've already packaged up the books. Sorry.

Meredith sent us two boxes of new and used books. These three stacks will go to two different school classrooms and the NICU waiting room.
The next two pictures of books also came from Meredith Malan. They have already been made into packets of books for the NICU babies. Thank you, Meredith for your generous donation to the NICU.



We are thankful for the donations we receive as it allows us to give books to even more families. Thank you to our generous contributors this well. 

We are currently in need of paperbacks, board books, and hard back books for the babies. We also need two-gallon sized zip lock bags. We prefer the no name bags as they don't have writing on them. Pastel letter size cardstock is also needed to make inserts for the packets. 


Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Boy: Tale of Childhood by Roald Dahl

Boy Tales of Childhood is the first installment of Roald Dahl's life as told by himself. I read the second book, Going Solo first.

Roald tells of his childhood in such a way that makes the stories come right off the page. I enjoyed the humor, but I found the abuses that happened at boarding school incredibly sad, and no one should ever cane a child.

Throughout the story, the reader can sense the love Roald has for his mother. She was a strong woman, one you would want on your side. His description of the horrible candy store lady reminded me of the Trunchbull and some of his experiences at boarding school remind me of Crunchem Hall. I can see where he got the inspiration for parts of Matilda.

This book has photographs, but in my Scholastic copy, they are poorly reproduced and hard to see any detail. I think any child who reads this book will be thankful that corporal punishment is no longer used in the public school system, at least in my state.



Link to our NICU book registry if you'd like to donate books to babies in the newborn intensive care unit so their parents can read to them while they grow. You can also donate gently used books to our project by sending them to me or to Angie. Email me for a mailing address. We can use both English and Spanish books. If you have a graduate of the NICU, or if you have a baby whose life you would like to honor by donating books to this project, let me know, and I can make a book plate with their name for the books you donate.

Read to a child today even if that child is you.