Friday, December 15, 2017

Leopard Faux Fur Stroller Coat Reviewed

Leopard Faux Fur Stroller Coat

The Perfect Gift for Animal & Fur Lovers


If you want an outstanding gift that will be adored and loved, I have the perfect recommendation!  A Fabulous Faux Fur Leopard Stroller!

My first Fabulous Fur™ was a full length faux fur mink coat.  It is wonderful!  I have always thought that mink coats were beautiful, but I would never purchase a coat made at the expense of any animal's life much less several little animals.

I consider myself an animal rights enthusiast, but my mother says I am actually an activist.  I don't consider myself an activist because my picket sign carrying days are in the past, but whichever word you choose to describe me, I confess it would probably apply.  Therefore, when I discovered Fabulous Furs by Donna Salyers and their marvelous alternatives in fur coats, I was elated.

Every Fabulous Fur coat I own is truly fabulous, but my personal favorite is my Leopard stroller.  It is more of an every day coat.  I reserve my full length beauties for dinner parties and the theater.
 

Every Fabulous Fur Coat I Own is Exquisite!



 

Close Up of the Leopard Stroller Fabric

Leopard Faux Fur Stroller Coat

Take a look at this beautiful close up shot of the faux fur. 


My leopard stroller is so gorgeous and warm that it makes me weep when I see the real furs in the department stores and realize just how unnecessary it is to kill a lovely creature just to enjoy an animal print coat.

Animal furs are naturally beautiful and it is not surprising that humans covet their coats. I am thrilled that Fabulous Furs can duplicate the look and feel of an animal fur.  I feel proud when I wear one of my faux fur coats.





People Love to Touch My Leopard Faux Fur Coat

Leopard Faux Fur Stroller Coat
I am not fooled. Not everyone who rubs my back when I wear my Leopard stroller, is petting me.  I completely understand.  It does feel soft and luxurious.

Most of us would not just run up to a leopard and pat his back, but even infants (with clean hands) can enjoy the texture and feel of this stunning coat.

Oh, and did I tell you how warm it is to wear and how the workmanship is absolutely remarkable?  I have owned and worn these coats for years and have never had one problem with any of them.  Well, except I hate to take them off!


 

More Fabulous Furs Reviews

My first Review This review of Donna Salyers "Fabulous Furs" included home decor, as well as, coats for children.  If you would like to read it, you will find it here:  Fabulous Faux Fur Coats, Jackets, Throws and More Reviewed


Read More Product Reviews On
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"Leopard Faux Fur Stroller Coat Review"  written by:
House of Sylvestermouse



This recipe article was originally published by me in 2009 on a different site that no longer exists. ©Sylvestermouse



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Movie Review - Wonder

If you are looking for an inspirational, feel-good movie the whole family can enjoy this holiday season, look no further than Wonder.  This film has everything that leaves a moviegoer satisfied—characters you actually care about, themes that matter, and a happy ending.  You might shed a few tears, like I did, but they will be the kind of tears that make you feel something beautiful.

Based on the runaway best-selling book by R.J. Palacio, Wonder takes us into the life and times of August Pullman, a ten-year-old boy born with the kind of severe facial deformities that cause most everyone he meets to respond to him in ways that are very painful.  The movie follows Auggie as he makes his grand entry into the public life of a fifth-grader after previously being home-schooled.  Anyone who has ever been the new kid at school will be able to relate to Auggie's experiences with bullies and the extreme distress of not fitting in.

The movie's storyline is revealed to us as the main characters take turns presenting their perspectives.  I don't always like this cinematic or literary technique, but it works well in this movie.  It is a very effective way of telling the stories within the story and it helped me form bonds with each character.  Getting to briefly run around inside the heads of the supporting characters fleshed out the movie's themes and made them multi-dimensional.

Choose Kind

We are introduced to Wonder's guiding principles through the precepts of Auggie's English teacher, Mr. Browne.  Choosing kindness, a major theme, is unveiled early in Mr. Browne's classroom via this quotation by Dr. Wayne Dyer:
"When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind."
The mark of an exceptional movie, at least for me, is what happens when I step out of the theater after the closing credits.  Last night, upon arriving home, I found myself spending hours online learning more about Treacher Collins Syndrome (Auggie's condition), the Choose Kind movement inspired by Wonder, watching video interviews with families affected by this syndrome, and reading up on how R.J. Palacio came to write Wonder.

Nurture Kindness

This movie is one that will impact me for a very long time.  As a former teen who was bullied for merely being the new kid at my middle school, I have never forgotten the misery and deep pain caused by that experience.  It shaped who I became as a teacher and continues to remind me that we each have an awesome responsibility to nurture kindness in young people.  If I leave no other legacy as a teacher and human being than that of planting seeds of kindness and compassion, I will feel as though I did something meaningful with my life.

I encourage you to take a child or grandchild to see Wonder.  My gifts to young people this Christmas will include the book Wonder, along with related journals and t-shirts that promote the Choose Kind message.  It is just one of the many ways I intend to celebrate the hope and wonder of the season.











Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Amazing Hobby Kits That Will Encourage Dexterity and Fun! A Review

Kids love to use their hands! Let's Review how to help them make beautiful and fun things!

Christmas is just days away and everyone, kids and grown ups too, are looking forward to those fun family times that they can spend together.  Making great memories is all part of the fun at Christmas time.  Those memories are made up of the times we play together, learn together and just have some fun together. So let's get down to Reviewing some great ways to make memories and get those children using their creative juices in fun and crafty ways.

I can't think of a better way of making lasting memories than sharing what we love!  It's so easy to do, with a little foresight and planning your children and grandchildren will be so engaged in something new.



hobby kits, sewing, crafts, review this
Crafts that keep their hands busy are especially wonderful.  They will learn new skills  and make something that they can share with their friends too.  These crafts like embroidery, can easily be taught to those children in the 7 to 9 year range or older.  They have enough dexterity in their fingers to handle the tiny details.  They can try to make something extra special with several different kits that you can put together yourself or there are kits available that have everything needed to complete a project from start to finish.

Whether it's knitting or sewing, origami (paper folding), or needlepoint, little hands love to try and we as parents and grandparents love to share!  Premade kits are available and generally they have a great range of ages that are capable of following the instructions!  You don't want to overwhelm them with something too difficult for their little hands to accomplish.

I personally love this kit from Amazon!  You see I was a dressmaker for many, many years and my love for sewing started out when I was 7 or 8.  I made pillows and little critters for everyone.  My mother whose 86 now, still has a pillow that I made for her!  So if sewing is one of your favorite pastimes, this kit would be a perfect way to share that love!

So many projects and they are all very interesting and creative too! You don't have to invest a lot of money into a craft, just find out if that particular craft resonates with your young ones. If not, then they will still have learned a lesson in creativity!

Maybe your little one's hands aren't ready for those really small motor skills or they are much more interested in putting their visions and ideas onto paper!  One of my granddaughters is a master at drawing and loves to do that more than anything.


hobbies, making memories, family time, review this
Her poor dad is always running out of computer paper because my little Miss Addie, has drawn on each and every page available to her.  We needed to find something for her so that her Dad could keep his paper where he needed it and she could draw to her hearts content.  We found a great compromise and she is over the moon about it too!

Have you heard of Boogie Boards?  They are similar to the "Etch-a-Sketch" that we had in our day, but easier to use.  Kids can draw on the pad with a stylus and then erase it at will.  It's great for long road trips when you know the children will get restless, and a great way for kids to use their hands creatively.

Now if you have a budding scientist in your midst, then I would suggest one of the many kits that are available for them too. They can Tumble rocks or grow their own crystals, or even make their own soaps and beauty products. There are kits for knitting and crochet, macrame and T-shirt printing. Anything that is hobby related has a book or several books to give children ideas and projects that will keep their hands busy.

Grammie Olivia's Hobby Central
This is one of my favorite pages on Amazon. All of my grandchildren will be getting something special from these pages, because there is just so much to choose from.  Please let me know if you find that special something for your children or grandchildren!  Have fun making memories and great crafts too!

My friend Bev, just did a great review on a Science Lab that would be perfect for little girls too, you can check out her Review right here!


pictures are courtesy of Pixabay.com




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ancestry DNA Kit Reviewed

Genealogy Made Easy 

ancestry image
Someone's ancestor painted this
Have you considered getting an ancestry DNA kit to find out what your heritage is? It is something that I have wanted to do ever since I found out that it was a possibility. At first the cost seemed rather expensive to me and I would think that perhaps it was something that I could ask for as a gift. Then I would feel guilty thinking that it was rather an expensive thing to ask for. 

This year, the various companies that offer this service have placed their ancestry kits on sale. Suffice it to say, they got my attention. I also saw a report a few weeks back comparing the top three selling kits. This report used a set of identical triplets to send the samples to. All three were accurate and came up with the same results. That was really about all I needed to hear to make me take the plunge. 

I decided to go with the one from Ancestry.com (not an affiliate link) because they have the largest database to look into. To be honest, at first I decided to give a kit to my father for his Christmas present this year. Once I had put it into my cart, I decided to treat myself to one too.

Both kits arrived at my door very quickly. So, I decided to go ahead and send my sample in. Dad won't get his until Christmas morning. It is all pretty easy. They send you a vial to spit in (ewww!) and then you send it to the lab. There is a number on the vial that you have to register so that they can identify whose kit it is. They send you an email to let you know that it has been registered and I just got an email telling me that it has arrived at the lab and is waiting to be tested. The drawback is that it will take 6 to 8 weeks for them to test it and send me the results. I am hoping that by the end of February I will get the report telling me where my ancestors came from.

While I am waiting, I decided to get a membership on the site to begin the process of finding the names of some of my ancestors. That is not a requirement to get the results of the DNA testing, by the way. You get matches with the test but you are limited in what you can search for without a membership.

On my maternal side, I had a pretty good feel for what my heritage is from that branch of my family tree. A few of my uncles were curious about our genealogy back in the days when they had to go look for records in courthouses and such. Plus, my mother's family was very good with oral history. For as long as I can remember my maternal family has been proud to have come from Scotland and Ireland. As I work through building a family tree on the site, that information is holding true. Many of my ancestors did immigrate from Scotland, Ireland and England.

What has been interesting is working on my paternal branch of the family tree. I found a few ancestors who crossed the ocean from England, a few more from Ireland and Scotland but the surprise was the number who came from Germany. My grandfather's people hailed from Germany for the most part. Perhaps I should consider getting a pair of lederhosen! So far, I have been able to trace ancestors as far back to 1550 in Germany on the Rumler side of the tree. That is incredible!

Oddly, I am having difficulty finding my paternal grandmother's people. Well, not so odd if the truth be told. Our family lore on her side was always a little guarded. Legend on this side has always been that my great-grandfather was Native American and ran away from a reservation. This may turn out to be factual. Oddly, the only records that I can find for him are of his marriage to my great-grandmother and the children they had together. Beyond the marriage certificate issued in 1896 there are no records of him. Other family members have stated that he was born about 1873 but they do not indicate exactly where he was born. Even odder is that I can't find birth records of his wife, either. She was supposed to be Caucasian so why can I not find records of her birth and her parent's names? Did they disown her when she married an Indian?  Well, it would be one thing to say she is disowned but it would be another to destroy records of her birth, wouldn't it? Quite the mystery! She did seem to suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. The marriage certificate names her as Leanna. Later census reports sometime name her as Lena while others name her as Anna.

I can hardly wait to get the results of the ancestry DNA testing kit! From the research that I have done already it should show a strong presence of German, Scottish, and Irish genes. Will it show a presence of Native American DNA? Time will tell.

How about you? Do you know your own genealogy? Have you considered getting the kit or have you already done so? Have you considered giving one as a gift this holiday season? 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Reviewing One Man's Opus: A Survival and Preparedness Story

One Man's Opus
One Man's Opus: A Survival and Preparedness Story is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed. I connected with the characters, wanted to know what was happening next, and read it in a matter of three days - which is remarkable for me. Typically, I am able to read only a chapter or two each evening before nodding off. So finishing the story of Opus and friends in a matter of days is a strong statement about how this book kept me turning pages. From the opening line, I wanted to know more.
I never thought to myself, "I want to grow up to be a prepper!" It just sort of happened. -- Rick Carpenter

Opus


Opus is a fierce, furry, and professionally trained guard dog. He is loyal and highly intelligent. Is it real or imagined that he makes one sound in agreement, another in disagreement, and a third with calling baloney? I think it was not imagined. 

After reading some online reviews, I thought I was going to find a paranormal creature posing as a dog and that would have made me annoyed. But that was not the case. Opus is just a smart, well-trained dog and who has observant human parents. Dog owners who, like many of us, are able to understand the meanings of the sounds and gestures our dogs make.


Tina


Tina runs and owns the local rental storage units. She's an independent and hard-working young lady with a past. And a dog. A big, ferocious dog who would do anything to protect her. In many romances, in which the main character is male, the female needs rescued. Or is delicate. But not Tina. She is open to love but not desperate for it. She and Opus have been doing just fine. Then Rick comes along.


Rick


Rick is a romance writer and blogger. He is a benign young introvert who is happy to be living with a roommate in a small apartment. Rick is comfortable in his bedroom, spending his time writing paranormal romance novels. He started writing this genre on a dare and it was becoming a lucrative career.


I was in my late twenties, single, extremely introverted, and happy to be alone or camping somewhere by myself. That camping somewhere idea is what got me started  -- Rick Carpenter

What was interesting is that this story had every ingredient that typically makes me stop reading; politics, civil unrest, and what have become current breaking news stories. However, this setting never turned into a political campaign or a lecturing editorial. Boyd Craven III wrote in such an easy, everyday, neighborly way - as though Rick were telling the story to me - that I just kept the turning pages and reading.

One Man's Opus: A Survival and Preparedness Story is just that. A story. It is not how to write, how to blog, or how to prep. It is a peek at a day-in-the-life of Rick Carpenter as he is looking for a good writing getaway spot and unexpectedly finds love and danger.

This story echos some important messages. First, as someone who lives in an urban setting but is preparing to move to an off-grid setting, I know - as Rick learned - the grass is not always greener (or more peaceful) on the other side. Also, as his grandmother taught him, "one for you, one for me, and one for later" no matter where you live or how you prep.

As a side note, I finished reading this while snugged up in a sleeping bag in front of a wood stove while camping at The Shack. 



If you are looking for a quick and easy read, this may be the story for you. Currently listed on Amazon with 4.5 stars out of 5 (over 200 ratings) and with a price tag you cannot beat! As an Amazon Prime member, I read my Kindle copy for free!


Many More Book Reviews on Review This!


It's okay if One Man's Opus: A Survival and Preparedness Story doesn't sound like your cup of tea. The Review This! contributors are a group of readers who enjoy a wide variety of genres. Chances are you'll find a book that suits you on our pages.





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Wild and Funky 3D Tablecloths for Special Occasions

Lively Red Roses 3D Tablecloth Found Here
Believe it or not, tablecloths are not only practical, they can also add art to a themed party or gathering.

It's the 3D design on these tablecloths that make them outstanding ... literally, outstanding.

Although only three are featured, you can check out a wide selection of them here.

You'll find one for just about any party or occasion. Better yet, feature them all year round to add an element of funk to your space.

They're made of a high quality polyester and are water resistant. Their durability prevents pilling and fading.

Big 3D Roses Tablecloth for Valentines Day

If you're planning a special dinner for Valentines Day, decorate the table with this spectacular 3D roses tablecloth.

The visual impact is powerful and is sure to provide a little shock and awe for your guest. There are eight size options as well, so you're sure to find the right one for your table set.
Awesome 3D Soccer Tablecloth - Found here

Impressive 3D Soccer Tablecloth for Themed Parties

If you're hosting a Soccer themed party include one or more of these tablecloths to punch up the space. Use them inside or outside or hang them on the wall as art if needed.

They also make an original hostess gift. Bring one to the party and it'll surely be a hit with the guests. The unique 3D artistic design will probably become the conversation piece of the party.

Sports team organizers could also include these tablecloths for special team events.

They also make an excellent gift idea for the coach. If you need a special gift for that dedicate teacher in your life, these tablecloths quality.
Purple Blossoms 3D Tablecloth Here

Cheerful Spring Time Garden Flowers for Garden Parties

Whether you simply want to brighten up a sunroom or plan to decorate multiple tables for your garden party, this tablecloth does both.

It's uniqueness makes it perfect for bridal showers as well. Whether your party is indoors or outdoors, this tablecloth can be included. You're in luck if the bride's colors happen to be pink or purple!

Again, put it up on the wall as art, give them as gifts or just use them for their intended purpose.

Once you visit the links under the photos it will take you to the product page and you'll be given the pricing, sizing and other details. Be sure to inspect the related products at the bottom of the product page in case you're needing an alternate design for your tablecloth. There are many to choose from ... other than these three. Look for the holiday season tablecloths, they're pretty cool as well.

Happy decorating!


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Fun December Review of a Few Christmas and Santa Memories

A collection of personal Christmas stories....
 

Coal in the Christmas Stocking … and Baseball Cole

Handmade Lump of Coal soap by SEAandCLEAN on Etsy
The old-fashioned custom of children who misbehave finding a lump of coal from 'Santa' in their Christmas Stocking instead of presents has many origins, mostly cultural.

In Italy gifts at Christmas began with the birth of Jesus and is where La Befana (a witch who delivers presents) instead of Santa Claus leaves toys for good children, and coal for bad ones. Today, Italians use a candy, called Carbone Dolce, (dark, rock-like candy that looks just like lumps of coal), as a joke.

In Holland, the coal legend began around the 16th century. Dutch children would put their clogs by the fireplace before stockings were used and got a lump of coal if they were bad and a small toy, cookies or candy if they were good.

Other countries have their own legends or stories to tell.

Interesting to note that in Scotland and Northern England it is considered lucky to receive a lump of coal as a gift on New Year's Day. It's part of their 'First-Footer' celebration and represents warmth for the year to come.

Being a baseball fan (and the baseball fan contributor here on Review This!), I tend to relate 'everything' to baseball.  A December 2014 headline in MLB news is what brought this whole story about.  It stated “Which Club will get Cole in its Stocking?”  The story goes on to state that there are a number of 'Cole diggers' (baseball teams) vying for  the acquisition of the Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels.  We didn't  know for awhile which team ended up with Cole as their new pitcher, but the Boston Red Sox seemed the most interested at that moment. (Red Sox ~ Stockings ~ Hmmm!)

*Editor's Note: Cole Hamels actually ended up with the Texas Rangers where he is today.

 
Christmas stocking Coal or Baseball pitcher Cole.  The stocking lump-of-coal seems appropriate for this time of year. Baseball is appropriate ANY time of year (to me, the baseball nut). :-)



Santa, I Can Explain...

eBay Cross Stitch Pattern
I sell craft supplies and patterns on eBay and it is always delightful to receive a note from a customer about a particular item.

I sold this cross stitch pattern shown in the photo of a cat sitting next to a tree ornament lying on the floor and the words “Santa, I can explain!” 

The buyer sent a note saying she couldn't wait to cross stitch this design as her cat takes all the stuff off the tree and hides it.  Then takes the branches and gets rid of them.  So this picture is for her cat. :-).

Personalized stories like this make my eBay selling most enjoyable and gives me such a nice feeling that something I've listed is exactly what someone wanted or fits a situation perfectly.



Handmade by Santa?


Handmade Christmas Coasters Available on Etsy

Since early childhood, we've known that Santa, with the help of his elves, makes all the Christmas toys for good little girls and boys. As we grow up, we begin to doubt that Santa Claus actually made everything by hand.

I confess I had some doubts myself, until last month when someone bought a batch of yarn I had for sale in my eBay store.  You see, the shipping address for the yarn purchase was – wait for it – NORTH POLE, AK.

I'm now totally convinced that 'Santa's Workshop' actually exists.  




Santa Humpty Dumpty

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

 


(c) A collection of stories originally written by me (Wednesday Elf) on a former online site.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Murder on the Orient Express (2017) Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express 2017 Movie Review
Even though I have seen several previous versions of "Murder on the Orient Express" and was very familiar with the plot, I loved this new adaptation and can highly recommend it!  

I am a huge Hercule Poirot fan!  In my heart, David Suchet will always be Poirot.   His image is the one my mind's eye will see when I hear or think of the fabulous Agatha Christie detective.  However, since I am reviewing the newly released "Murder on the Orient Express" movie, I need to start by critiquing the actor that played the part of Hercule. 

I was quite impressed with Kenneth Branagh who was cast as Hercule Poirot.  He also co-produced this latest version of "Murder on the Orient Express" which most likely gave him more freedom to develop the character to suit his own style and personality.  He is not an actor I was previously acquainted with, so there was no other character I had to toss to the back of my mind to enjoy his performance. 

When the movie first started, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to embrace Branagh as Poirot, even for a few hours.  But, after the first 20 minutes, I was fine with him playing the part.   By the end of the movie, I was singing his praises for taking on a role that was "owned" by another actor and doing a supreme job of becoming Poirot.  I certainly wouldn't mind seeing him continue as Poirot in future movies.


The Plot of "Murder on the Orient Express"


 Murder on the Orient ExpressCheck PriceI was recently reminded that not everyone is familiar with the plot or knows the story of "Murder on the Orient Express".  Frankly, I was rather shocked to learn that one of my family members that attended the movie with me had neither seen the movie, nor read the book.  Therefore, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, I will provide a brief synopsis.

The Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, is precise in his every deed and action.  He would even be considered fastidious.  This is an endearing quality to those of us who believe everything should be "just so".  He is highly intelligent and uses his "little grey cells" to examine every minute detail of a case.  As Poirot himself would tell you, he is "probably the greatest detective in the world".  

At the insistence of an old friend, Poirot boards the Orient Express train seeking a bit of a holiday.  What he actually got was a case of murder.  When an avalanche of snow stopped the train dead in it's tracks, one of his fellow passengers was found dead in his bed.  He had been murdered and Hercule Poirot was certain the murderer was also a fellow passenger.  He immediately started investigating the case, forcing those world famous "little grey cells" to work quickly lest another passenger should fall victim to the murderer.

He quickly deduces that the murder is somehow related to the previous murder of a child.  The abduction and subsequent murder of the child will remind you of a real case in history, the Lindbergh baby.  In fact, Agatha Christie's novel, "Murder on the Orient Express" was based on that real life murder.

Every passenger on the train is considered a suspect!
I'm not going to tell more of the plot simply because I don't wish to spoil the movie for anyone who is not already familiar with the plot.  What I will tell you, is that Poirot's own sense of justice is challenged by what he uncovers in this case.


The Actors Make the Movie


While there are a few deviations in this movie from the original novel, overall the characters were familiar enough that I don't believe it was neither a hindrance nor an improvement to the plot.  What did really matter is the cast of stars who played the parts.  These faces have long entertained us and they were all excellent choices for their respective parts.

  • Michelle Pfeiffer - the widow
  • Johnny Depp - the gangster
  • Willem Dafoe - the professor
  • Penelope Cruz - the missionary
  • Judi Dench - the princess

In addition to the award winning actors and actresses, you will recognize several other faces even if you don't know their names, yet!




The Scenery in Murder on the Orient Express (2017)


The scenery is stunningly gorgeous!   In addition to an unbelievably outstanding studio set of Longcross Studios in London, some of the landscape shots were made at the border between Switzerland and Italy.  The fantastic, out of this world mountains were filmed in New Zealand. 
 



Check Out More Movie Reviews at
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Murder on the Orient Express (2017) Movie Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Photographing Lighthouses on the Florida Panhandle

Cape San Blas Lighthouse

Finding the Perfect Perspective

    As I reviewed some of my lighthouse photography tips, I found that finding the right place to take the photo is a very important part of my tips.  On a recent trip to the Florida panhandle I found some good examples of using this tip.

  Our first stop was in Port St. Joe where I photographed the Cape San Blas lighthouse.  The first photo I took was the view as I left our car.  It is a straight on look at the lighthouse with the keepers house to the side.  You can see that photo at the top of this article.  I think it is a good photo and many people would stop with that view.  I enjoy finding different perspectives so I took a walk around the lighthouse.  I found a small lake behind the lighthouse and walked around the lake looking for the best shot.  I took a new photo every few feet and got a lot of good views.  The one below is one I particularly like.  It shows the lighthouse reflected in the lake.

Living in a Lighthouse

While we were in Port St. Joe I went to look for another lighthouse I had read about.  This lighthouse is on private property and not open to the public, but I found directions to an area where I could get a photo. This lighthouse is called St. Joseph Point lighthouse and is now a private residence off county road 30a.  Here is a photo I took from the street.  Wouldn't it be fun to live in a lighthouse?  I imagine you might get a better perspective of this lighthouse from the water but I was limited to taking it from my car.  This was taken from the street in front of the lighthouse.
So remember next time you go to take a photograph of a lighthouse (or anything for that matter) don't stop at the first view you find.  Take the time to look for some different perspectives.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Patricia Polacco Is a Storyteller with Heart: A Review

Why I Love the Books of Patricia Polacco


Patricia Polacco's books aren't just stories. They are connections to the hearts of her readers. You will see why in a moment. Polacco is not just a talented artist with a style that's easy to recognize, but she's a storyteller with heart.


Patricia Polacco Is a Storyteller with Heart: A Review



Patricia Polacco is only a year younger than I, but she led a much less sheltered life. Her parents had divorced when she was only three, and she and her mother had been living with her grandmother in many different towns until her grandmother died. In one of those towns, Union City,  Michigan, they had lived on a farm. Life on the farm with her Babushka (grandmother) provided Polacco with many of her story ideas when she later began to write.

Most of Polacco's stories relate to problems and fears that children have. In some a child has lost a beloved adult -- a grandparent or neighbor.  I have read many other children's books, both fiction and nonfiction, that deal with these issues, but none have made the connection with my heart that Polacco's did. I believe that in almost every one of her books I've read, and I've read lots of them, her own heart and feelings were involved. In others, her love of books and reading connected with me.

Polacco understands the importance of family relationships in both the nuclear and extended family. She understands the value of intergenerational relationships. In many of her books a child and a lonely elderly person make a connection that ends their isolation. Not all children have grandparents and not all widows and widowers have grandchildren. Polacco shows that these intergenerational relationships can be just as vital even when child and elderly person come from different races or cultures.


Gifts of the Heart by Patricia Polacco


In this precious Christmas story, young Patricia and her brother have been living with their mother and her parents on a farm in Michigan. When Patricia's grandmother dies, her grandfather wants to sell the farm and move because the house is so full of memories. Meanwhile, Grandfather has hired a woman who says she is Kay Lamity to look after the children, as their Babushka used to do, while their mother went to work. Patricia's brother, especially, rebels at the thought that anyone can replace their Babushka. Rather than me summarizing the story, I will let you listen to the book be read aloud in this video. You will also see Polacco's wonderful illustrations as you listen, and you will also see what I mean by stories that have heart in this Christmas picture book for children 5-8. I really think it's for all ages.




A Gift for a Child with Dyslexia: Thank You, Mr. Falker


My brother had the misfortune to have dyslexia before anyone knew what it was. Born into a family with a mother and sister who loved reading and read to him all the time, everyone assumed he'd also become a reader. Except he didn't. As much help as he had from a mother who was a teacher and a sister who wanted to help, he just became more frustrated when books didn't make sense to him. Like Patricia, he didn't get help until he was in middle school. Like Patricia, he thought he must be dumb. He never told me what he might have suffered from teasing by his classmates. This is a book every teacher and parent should read -- especially if they have a child with a reading problem. Listen to Jane Kaczmarek read it on YouTube and see if you can keep your eyes dry. I couldn't




If you know a child who needs this book, please get Thank You, Mr. Falker for him or her. I recommend a physical book for all the picture books to enhance the reading experience.



My Favorite Polacco Book: Aunt Chip and the Great Triple Creek Dam Affair

This my favorite because I can't imagine a life without reading.  I've loved reading since I was three years old, and I loved being read to even before that. I've never been a great fan of TV, either. So I can imagine how it would feel to be Eli's Aunt Chip, the Triple Creek librarian, when people stopped reading to watch TV. Television was the center of their lives and they always had it on. Pretty soon even school teachers were replaced by television.

Although Aunt Chip still faithfully showed up to work every day, no one came. Finally the library was demolished and replaced by a giant TV tower, and Aunt Chip took to her bed. She told told the mayor and the townspeople there would be consequences to replacing books with television.

When Eli arrived on the scene, he loved his Aunt Chip. He did think it strange she'd not left her bed since he'd known her, but she told wonderful stories. Finally he asked her one day where she got her stories. She replied, "Some come out of thin air. Some come out of my dreams. Some come right out of books!"

Eli asked how you would get a story from a book. All he'd seen books used for were patching holes in the street, sitting on, building things, and even shoring up the dam. Never for reading. This is when Aunt Chip discovered that not only Eli, but no one else in the town could still read. So she showed Eli the inside of a book and explained about writing.

'Now look at this. Those are words. They tell about ideas, dreams, and feelings. They take you to places far from here....Books are a treasure. All you need is the key.'
Patricia Polacco Is a Storyteller with Heart: A Review
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay, edited on PicMonkey


I don't want to give the story away, but Aunt Chip leaves her bed and the town soon learns the consequences of their rashness in closing the library and replacing books with television. I think the ending will make you happy, and you will love what happens to Eli. This book is not a tear-jerker like the others I reviewed. Give it to anyone who thinks reading isn't important.

I finally found a video of someone reading this aloud, so if you don't mind a spoiler, enjoy the story.


Give a Child You Love a Patricia Polacco Book 

Here are more of my favorites. There's a story for almost any child in this group of books. You can find more detailed reviews of the books below and many others, as well as more about Patricia Polacco's life and inspiration in "Patricia Polacco and Her Books" at Books to Remember.  You will also find study guides and readers' theater scripts for the most popular of her books.




Find more reviews for children's books here at Review This!

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