Showing posts with label childrens books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label childrens books. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Meet Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat: A Book Review

Why Is This Book So Popular with Children?

I first met Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat when I was about seven. I was already reading by then, but Mom still read it to me. It had been a gift from my Cousin Edna, who was the first to read it to me. I liked the book so much I kept it. When my brother came along about three years later, both Mom and I read it to him as soon as he was old enough to understand it -- about three. He loved it and couldn't get enough of it. We had to read it over and over. The author, Morrell Gipson, has a real feel for what appeals to children. The illustrator, Angela, evokes just the right emotions with her watercolor paintings.

Mr Bear Squash You All FlatMr Bear Squash You All Flat


Why do young children love this book so much when it might seem violent to an adult? Young children often feel small and helpless, just like the animals who watched Mr. Bear squash their houses. They can identify with those animals who run and hide when they see Mr. Bear coming toward their homes. Then they can rejoice when Mr. Bear gets what he deserves at the end of the book. 


Encourage Interaction As You Read Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat Aloud


This book is full of the repetition that children love.  Adults can help them build anticipation by asking them what they expect to happen next. Adults can make the book for fun by imitating Mr. Bear's voice as he issues his warnings. By the time the child has heard the book read several times, the adult can invite him to repeat the warning with Mr. Bear. The adult can also ask children toward the end of the book what they think will happen when Mr. Bear tries to squash the tire house. Those are just my ideas. You will think of many more ways to interact with the child you read to. 


Meet Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat: A Book Review
Check Price for Mr. Bear Squash-You-All Flat
I scanned this book cover from my own copy. 


Meet Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat

Mr. Bear Squash-You-All-Flat got his name because he liked to squash things -- especially the houses of smaller animals. He was too lazy to build himself a house. 

Most of the time Mr. Bear lived peacefully and didn't bother the other animals. He would sleep quietly under the trees since he had no home of his own. When the moon was full, though, all that changed. That's when he would get really grumpy and go on a house-squashing rampage and squash every house he saw. You can see how he does it on the cover of this book. (See it above.)

The Illustrations

The edition I owned almost seventy years ago is out of print. I was happy to see this new edition bring it to new generations of readers. It has the same illustrations by Angela that I loved. Although they reveal Mr. Bear's grumpiness and anger, they aren't scary. Sometimes there is even a touch of humor. The artist does a great job on the facial expressions of all the animals. You can check out more of the book's illustrations on its Amazon page by clicking to Look Inside.

The Plot

Whenever Mr. Bear decides to squash a house, he gives fair warning by stating who he is and that he intends to squash the animal's house after he counts to three. That gives the animal inside time to run away and hide. Then the homeless animal goes in search of another house. On the day described in this book, he squashes three houses. After each house he squashes, he feels less grumpy, and on this day he felt cheerful enough after squashing the third house to go take a nap. 

Meanwhile, the homeless animals discovered a very large tire and moved into it together. They were quite happy there until after the next full moon when they saw Mr. Bear approaching their new house. The baby rabbit spotted him first and ran to warn the mouse and the chipmunk. They ran to hide behind a large oak tree, hoping Mr. Bear would leave their house alone. Not a chance! I'll leave it to your imagination what happens next.

Get Mr. Bear Squash-You-All Flat for a child you love now. 



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Saturday, June 10, 2017

World at War, 1944 - Review of a Magic Tree House Super Edition

by Mary Pope Osborne




Synopsis:




In World at War, 1944, a Magic Tree House Super Edition, Jack and Annie are transported to World War II by the Magic Tree House.  Europe is in trouble and they must go behind enemy lines to crack a code that could save a lot of lives. And.... this has to be accomplished before D-Day - which is the day after they are transported back in time to England, then parachute into Normandy, France. 



 


June 6, 1944


Sometime after midnight, 100,000 allied soldiers invade by sea & air to drive the Nazis out of France. It was to be the beginning of the end of World War II.


Super Edition Books from the Magic Tree House Series

 

Magic Tree House Books

This particular book is one of the Super Edition books, which goes beyond the story about Jack & Annie's adventures in time just prior to D-Day.
With a longer story and additional facts and photographs, the Super Edition books also give facts about that point in time.  In World at War, 1944, young readers in the age group 7 to 10 years learn about spies and the resistance movement in France, the National Pigeon Service where trained carrier pigeons carried secret messages, and what life was like for the people of France during the second World War when their country was occupied by German forces. 


Background for the Magic Tree House Adventures


The Magic Tree House adventures for Jack and his sister Annie began one day in Frog Creek, Pennsylvania when a mysterious tree house filled with books appeared in the woods behind their house. Jack & Annie soon discover it was magic and that they could go to any time and place in history just by pointing to a picture in one of the books. As you read the Magic Tree House series, you will see how this magic came to be.

In each Magic Tree House book Jack & Annie are able to travel to various points in time.  They touch a picture of the place they want to go, say the magic words "I wish we could go there" and.... the wind begins to blow, the tree house spins, then everything is absolutely still.... and they are there!  This is also how they return home!



Why I Purchased "World at War, 1944".



David with his first Magic Tree House Book
In March, my young grandson, David, visited 'grandma's house with his family.  While the family was here in Coastal Georgia, we toured Fort Pulaski, a Civil War monument located east of Savannah, GA. David was quite fascinated with the cannons and the rooms set up in historical representation of that time in history. At the end of our tour, we stopped in the 'gift shop' and David found the Magic Tree House adventure about the Civil War. He was absolutely delighted with that book, so much so that he carried it everywhere their entire vacation and had read it 3 times before they left for home at the end of the week. You can read my review of that book, Civil War On Sunday, here on Review This!


David and his Birthday Book


David had his 8th birthday coming up the following month, so I'd asked him what he'd like to have and he pointed out the next Magic Tree House book he wanted, in a list at the back of the Civil War book.  He picked the next war history he wanted to learn about -- World War II and D-Day. This image shows David with his birthday book ~ World at War, 1944! And this is my review of the book, which I read before I mailed it to David in his birthday package from grandma. 


Happy Birthday.... and Happy Reading, David!


World at War, 1944 (Magic Tree House Super Edition



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Friday, April 28, 2017

Stellaluna (Fruit Bat) Children's Book Reviewed

Stellaluna Children's Book Reviewed
If you ask my daughter what her favorite childhood book was, she would quickly answer, Stellaluna.  She loved that bat!  Actually, she still feels an affection toward the book and her Stellaluna plush bat. 

Based on a child's opinion, this is one of the best books in her library.  If I had to guess, I would say she felt genuine heartbreak for the little bat who was separated from her mother after an owl attack, and extreme joy when they were reunited. 

As an adult and parent, I rate the book as the best because of the writing style and real animal facts woven throughout the story.   Children are being entranced by the fiction story as well as educated about fruit bats.  Personally, I like all bats, but I think the choice of a fruit bat is perfect for a child's story.  After all, fruit bats eat fruit! 

The illustrations in this book are fabulous!  They are accurate depictions of a bats body features and give the bat a gentle, endearing face.  If you have ever looked at a fruit bats face, you would find they have rather cute furry faces in reality.  Bats are the only mammals that can fly.  Except for the wings, they look like other mammals.  As a matter of fact, they are called flying foxes because they facially resemble a fox.
 


Stellaluna - Recommended Children's Book

Stellaluna Children's Book Reviewed
Scanned photo of one of the Illustrations in the Book
Stellaluna is a baby bat who hasn't even learned to fly yet.  Her mother carries her with her when she is flying.  One night, Stellaluna and her mother are attacked by an owl.  Stellaluna is knocked from her mothers grasp.  As Stellaluna is falling to the ground, she snatches hold of a tree branch and cries out to her mother, but her mother doesn't answer.  When she can no longer hold on, she slips and falls further and lands in a bird's nest full of baby birds.  

Because Stellaluna is starving, she finally opts to open her mouth, close her eyes and accept the disgusting live lunch the mother bird is feeding her babies.  Stellaluna has to learn to live like a bird in order to survive, but she still sleeps hanging upside down.  Her adopted siblings are intrigued and want to hang upside down too.  The mother bird returns and reprimands the babies, saying they will fall and break their necks.  As the babies return to the safety of the nest, the momma bird refuses Stellaluna admittance unless she promises to behave and stop being a bad influence on her baby birds.

The birds and baby bat grow up together, eat together, and learn to fly together.  Landing gracefully like the birds proves to be impossible for poor Stellaluna.  Their differences are once again obvious and embarrassing for Stellaluna.

There is more to this fabulous story, including how Stellaluna is reunited with her mother, but I will let you discover the rest of the story for yourself.


My Opinion of Stellaluna

 StellalunaThere are several reasons why I would recommend this book for children.  I have already mentioned the educational value and the exceptionally entertaining writing style of the author.  But, I would also like to point out the real life lessons about how we can all learn to live and love others in spite of our differences.  How we can learn to survive even when we are out of our element.  Children won't recognize those lessons as they read the book, but they may well recall the lessons taught when they encounter challenges at school or later in life.

Not only are the differences between bird and bats evident when reading the fiction story, there are "Bat Notes" at the back of the book that share real facts about bats.  A wonderful addition to help children learn fact from fiction.

This book is loved by both girls and boys.  Our son also lists Stellaluna as one of his favorite childhood books.  How do I know?  He walked by while I was writing this review and said, "that is a great book!"


 Stellaluna Plush Bat

Stellaluna Plush Toy Animal

In 1994, the Stellaluna plush was available to purchase with the book.  Our daughter has the plush Stellaluna.  They are no longer produced and can only be purchased from secondary markets like Amazon.com or Ebay where they are pretty expensive.

However, a child will not recognize the difference in the original Stellaluna plush and a fruit bat plush.  I recommend choosing one that resembles Stellaluna and allow you child to enjoy having a little fruit bat of their own.  

 



Read More Book Reviews at
ReviewThisBooks.com




Stellaluna Children's Book Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Friday, February 24, 2017

Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm Children's Book Review

Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm Children's Book Review
Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm Book
Page 1
Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm is a delightful book for children written by Jonathan London and illustrated by Andrew Joyner.  It is the first book in a new series featuring Duck and Hippo.  Quite honestly, I look forward to reading about their next adventure together. 

You may wonder why I chose to read a book for children, but I did have my reasons.  First, I recently purchased a Kindle Fire and I love being able to see the pictures in color now.  What better than a children's book to look at pictures, right?  Second, the book was a free choice on Kindle First* in February 2017 if your are an Amazon Prime member.  And last, but by no means least, I wanted to be able to review the book for Review This!

The release of this book is perfect timing!  Since their day of adventure takes place in early spring, releasing the book on March 1, 2017 is consistent with the season and weather described therein. 


Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm 


 Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm
(Duck and Hippo Series Book 1)
This really is a precious story about two unlikely friends, clearly a duck and a hippopotamus, who venture out together in the rain.  They encounter a few mishaps with just enough intrigue and suspense that a child will be enthralled without being frightened.  The illustrations help with alleviating any stress because the characters are shown smiling even in the midst of possible disaster.  

As with many children's books, the pictures in this book are fabulous!  I love the way the artist dressed the animals.  The suit and bow tie are perfect for the more reserved hippo, while the red slicker and polka dot yellow umbrella reflect the ducks adventurous and outgoing personally.  I foresee that Duck will likely dream up all kinds of ventures for the more sedate Hippo in future books. 

This promises to be a great book series for children ages 3 - 7 and I would certainly recommend the delightful first book, Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm.  


Children's Book on Kindle Fire


 Fire Kids Edition Tablet, 7" Display, Wi-Fi, 16 GB, Blue Kid-Proof CaseI am thrilled to share that there are Kindle Fires made just for children!
 
As an adult I wanted a Kindle that would feature the images in color for my craft books and cookbooks.  After consulting with our in-house electronics expert, Susan Deppner, I selected the Kindle Fire.  It was an excellent choice.

Once I received it, I couldn't help but think how wonderful it would be for children, especially at bedtime or when riding in a car.  It would most certainly reduce the weight of books in a backpack too.  I did a little more digging and found there is indeed a Kindle Fire made just for children.  While I have no desire to replace the home library and real books, I do think Kindle Fires are fabulous when portability or weight is an issue.





*Kindle First gives Amazon Prime members the opportunity to read a new book that will be published the following month for FREE.  You can check it out by clicking here!

Read More Book Reviews at
ReviewThisBooks.com




Duck and Hippo in the Rainstorm Children's Book Review Written by:
House of Sylvestermouse





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Saturday, April 16, 2016

“The Good Dinosaur” Book and Movie Review

The story is set on a fictional Earth where dinosaurs never became extinct.

 

Available on Amazon

We are familiar with many movies made from books, but this book was created FROM the movie.  


I read the Junior Novelization version of "The Good Dinosaur", written for 9-12 year olds, which retells the whole exciting story and features eight pages of full-color scenes from the movie.  The book can also be found in other forms such as the Big Golden Book for 3-7 year olds and in Little Golden Book form and board book form for preschoolers 2-5 years old.

My sister-in-law saw this book at my house and became fascinated with it.  She had to borrow it to read, and loved it.  Her thoughts on the book were:  “It was a great story for kids and adults showing the importance of family, loyalty and bravery. The characters were sweet and funny.”



Arlo the Apatosaurus Dinosaur


Arlo, Action Figure

The movie, and the book from the movie, are about a good-natured little Apatosaurus dinosaur named 'Arlo' who tries to overcome being afraid of almost everything while he works to find his place in the world his parents and bigger brother and sister have no problem with. Arlo's father tells him that “sometimes you gotta get through your fear to see the beauty on the other side.”


After the rest of the family have 'made their mark' (a dinosaur mudprint on rocks used to protect the opening to the family corn silo on their farm), Arlo attempts to earn his right to his own mark.  His Poppa tries to teach him the importance of bravery, as well as proper goal setting and follow-through: “You gotta earn your mark by doing something big.” 


Spot the Human Caveboy


Spot on a beach towel


When tragedy strikes, Arlo ventures out into the wilderness where he makes an unusual friendship with a human caveboy who answers to the name 'Spot'.  After being swept away by a raging river during a storm, Arlo and Spot have a variety of adventures while trying to find Arlo's home again.  Their journey is complete with pterodactyl chases, T. rex run-ins and terrible storms.  Spot saves Arlo from the river by teaching him how to swim and Arlo later saves Spot from the mean pterodactyls. A special friendship develops through these shared adventures.

As their journey nears an end and they approach Arlo's home, the two come across a caveman family. Reluctantly and sadly, Arlo pushes Spot to join his own kind, and the two of them share a tearful goodbye. Arlo finally arrives back home to his mother and siblings, and makes his own mark he has bravely earned on the silo between those of his mother and father. 



The Good Dinosaur is a Disney Pixar Movie


Official Movie Trailer










 

Quick Links:









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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Childrens Classics ~ Book Reviews

Grandson Jacob reading a storybook

The dictionary defines 'classic' as something of enduring significance.  In literature, a classic work is generally considered to be of the highest excellence ~ a work recognized as definitive in its field.

In the field of children's books, there are dozens of stories whose origins go back many years and are still considered favorites today.  


  • If you were to go back to ancient times, probably the most well-known is 'Aesop's Fables'.  
  • In the early 1700s, the most famous stories today remain 'Gulliver's Travels, Robinson Crusoe, and the Tales of Mother Goose.   
  • Nineteenth century writers brought us more than four dozen stories considered 'classics' to this day, such as The Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, Black Beauty, Heidi and Little Women.

Here's a few modern children's classics from 20th century authors that are most special to me... and some fascinating facts about the authors.



Winnie-the-Pooh... and Friends!


A.A. Milne's beloved Winnie-the-Pooh character has been delighting children since 1926. The author's son, Christopher, was the inspiration for Pooh Bear's buddy, Christopher Robin.  I loved these stories so much that I even named my first-born son Christopher.

The author began his Pooh Bear stories initially just to entertain his son ... and they became 'words of wisdom' and expressions of love & affection for generations of children. 



Anniversary Edition on Amazon

Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood delighted our generation and that of our parents. Now our children can snuggle under the covers and listen to the timeless adventures of Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and Christopher Robin!


For nearly 90 years, Winnie the Pooh and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood have delighted each generation of children... and, of course, the grown ups who get to read the stories to little ones...


Winnie the Pooh quotes have become famous.... the one below says it all ~



“Friendship," said Christopher Robin, "is a very comforting thing to have."
                                                   ~A.A. Milne


Dr. Seuss' Favorite Cat! 

 

It's the "Cat in the Hat" of course!




The Cat in the Hat changed the way our children learn how to read with fun rhyming words. 


How the 'Cat-in-the-Hat' Came About


Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) wrote 'The Cat in the Hat' in 1957 at the request of the educational division of Houghton Mifflin publishers who were looking for a more entertaining primer for early childhood literacy because the current ones (such as the Dick and Jane series) were ineffective.


Geisel tells the story of being frustrated with the word list from which he could choose words to write his story, so he decided to scan the list and create a story based on the first two words he found that rhymed. The words he found were cat and hat.

 

Bambi


Of all the classic stories made famous by Disney, Bambi is the best. I watched the Bambi movie as a child, then took my children to see it. Now my children take my grandchildren. Both the storybook and the movie are truly classics.

Bambi Book on Amazon


Since 1942, Bambi and his friends Thumper the Rabbit and Flower the Skunk have been animation favorites, one of the 10 best animation classics of all time.

The story was originally adapted for film from the book "Bambi, a Life in the Woods" written by Felix Salten in 1923. 





The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – 1922

 

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you.'

     ― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit   

 

Amazon Editions Available in Hardback, Paperback and Kindle
This is the story of a stuffed rabbit and his desire to become real through the love of his owner.  I think it's one of the sweetest fairy tales ever written.

This is a special 75th Anniversary edition of the original story and artwork of a classic tale first told in 1922.

According to an online poll taken in 2007, this book is one of the National Education Association's  "Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children. 





Curious George by H.A. Rey and Margret Rey

 

=================================================


"This is George. He lived in Africa. 
 He was a good little monkey, and always very curious."


=================================================

With these words, the tales of a curious monkey named George began.....
 
Available on Amazon

Curious George was brought from his home in Africa by "The Man with The Yellow Hat" to live with him in a big city. The first book in the series (Cecily G and the Nine Monkeys) was published in France in 1939.


The story was written by Margret Rey and illustrated by H.A. Rey.  As wartime approached France, the couple fled Paris in June 1940, on self-made bicycles, carrying the Curious George manuscript with them.

The Curious George series of books have been adapted into several television series and films and each book has been in continuous print since first published.



Classic Children's' Tales




Grandsons Tyler & David - reading!
These classic stories of a honey bear, a special rabbit, a curious monkey, a sweet deer fawn and a funny cat are instantly recognized by children today and have become 'classics' in the world of children's literature. 

Whether reading a classic tale or any favorite story, children everywhere love books.  My two youngest grandchildren, David (6) and Tyler (18 months) enjoy reading every day. 


For more reviews of children's books, check out 




(c) Published 11/28/15. By Wednesday Elf




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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Book Review: My Thoughts on Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

I Meet Artemis Fowl



Although I didn't enjoy meeting Artemis Fowl, a diabolical twelve-year old, and wouldn't recommend him as a role model, I can sympathize with his having too much time on his hands and not enough constructive attention from his parents.  I normally don't read fantasy, but I have to admit Artemis Fowl held my attention. 


I was immediately lured into the realm of the fairy world by the intriguing plot of this book. It engaged me and kept me wondering what would happen next. I was also intrigued with the characters -- both human and fairy. Each character has a definite personality that humans can relate to. Each character seems to grapple with moral issues, unless it is an amoral character (dwarf, troll). Even in the world of the fairies we see politics at work and those who are politically motivated are willing to destroy others in their attempt to climb to the top.



Artemis Captures Holly



I was able to identify easily with Holly Short, the elf/fairy/leprechaun and protagonist in this book. She felt a bit discriminated against as the first female officer in LEP's (Lower Elements Police) Recon unit.  She was a bit behind in attending to her Ritual.  That meant her magic was not fully there and that she was unshielded and could be seen by humans. Her commander, Root, discovered this while she was tracking a troll and was seen. Root then sent her to perform the Ritual, and that landed her in Ireland.

Unfortunately, Artemis captured her before she could finish the Ritual which would restore her magic. She neded to pluck an acorn where "full moon, ancient oak and twisted water meet. And bury it far from where it was found."  She had the acorn, but had not had the chance to bury it yet. So she was still unshielded and without her magic when Artemis kidnapped her and held her prisoner in the Fowl estate.



The Plot


The plot is complicated and I won't reveal all of it. It is the moral issues in the book that fascinate me. Fowl is a child prodigy who had managed to steal and copy the Golden Book containing the rules the fairies had to follow.  He had found a way to translate the fairy language in which it was written. He did this so he can get his hands on the gold he believes the fairies hoard.  Holly has to abide by the fairy rules, and Fowl uses his knowledge of them to keep her imprisoned. Meanwhile, a fairy Retrieval team has been sent to rescue her.

Besides Fowl himself, Holly is guarded by Butler, Fowl's mammoth body guard, and Butler's younger sister, Juliet, who is not too bright. Holly has a certain amount of sympathy for Juliet, and that sympathy almost gets her killed. Fowl has demanded a ransom of a ton of gold for Holly's release. Holly cannot leave a human house without human permission (according to the rules). Holly managed to pound through the floor of her cell to bury her acorn and obtain her magic and shielding and take advantage of Juliet's laziness and addiction to wrestling programs on TV to distract her  and escape the cell. 

Holly and Fowl know that the house is in a  field where time has been stopped for six hours to buy the fairies a longer night, since they can't handle daylight above ground. At the end of the time field, a "blue rinse" will destroy every living thing in the house --including Holly if she's still there. The idea is to get Holly out, destroy the others, and then go back after the gold, since only living things are destroyed.


A Dwarf and a Troll Precipitate a Crisis


Book Review: My Thoughts on Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Troll Courtesy of Pixabay, Public Domain, Modified on PicMonkey


Meanwhile, Mulch, a reprobate dwarf, has been let out of prison to enter the house. He has approached and found the secret safe where the a copy of the golden fairy rule book is hidden. Butler has been sent to the safe room, and is subdued by Mulch, who then realizes an opportunity to escape from everyone, including the fairies who would like to imprison him again. He manages to make the fairies think he is dead.  With Mulch's disappearance, the fairy command makes the rash decision to send in another lapsed creature -- a troll -- to get rid of the humans.

Holly, unaware of this, decides she will cause a lot of destruction in the house until Fowl begs her to leave. Meanwhile, Butler carries Juliet to what he deems as a safe place and hastens to meet the intruder he hears -- the troll.  He tries to shoot it, but his shots have little effect. Instead the troll almost or completely kills him, and then smells and starts toward Juliet. Holly arrives at the scene and sees Julie's danger and tries to save her, knowing that she'll be in trouble for it. She hits the troll with light, but he still topples her and she is hit by a tapestry falling on her. When she falls, her arm lands on the body of Butler, and he regains consciousness, aware that he is alive and fairy magic is healing him. Holly is also recovering and is able to see Butler defeat the troll before he can kill Juliet.

Artemis is still determined to hold Holy for the ransom, in spite of the fact that she has saved both him and Butler. Butler was a man of honor and did not like this. Holly knows they will all be blasted in a few minutes when the time field can no longer hold off daylight. The gold is on the way, but time is short. Holly confronts Fowl, asking him if he's told Bulter and Juliet about the destruction that's about to come upon them.  Although she's not supposed to have empathy for humans, she does for Juliet. Fowl says he knows and that he also knows how to escape the time field -- a feat that Holly can't believe is possible. Butler affirms his faith in Fowl's abilities, even with Juliet at risk. Then the gold arrived!




"A life is a life."



I won't reveal the ending, but it did involve more dialog between Holly and Fowl. We are left with the impression that  Artemis is not quite so sinister at the end as at the beginning. Near the end, Holly tries to prevent her people from detonating the bio-bomb that will kill the humans, intervening for the innocent Juliet, insisting that "A life is a life."

I will leave it there. The ending is surprising. Upper graders who need a lot of action to motivate them to read will probably be willing to finish reading this because of the action and humor. I found the extreme environmental undertones in the book a bit of a distraction. The fairy folk have no good words for the human race, which in their opinion destroys everything it touches.

Book Review: My Thoughts on Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Image of Fairy Courtesy of Pixabay
It is sized to share to Pinterest.


Recommendation and Purchase Information


Artemis Fowl should satisfy thoughtful people over the age of ten who want lots of action and don't mind thinking through moral issues as they follow that action. Less thoughtful young people will enjoy it for the action alone. Artemis Fowl books are also available as  graphic novels or you can get a set containing three to eight of the text versions of the books. You choose.   Any of these would make a great gift for a young science fiction or fantasy reader. 



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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Reviews of Books for Children Which Bring American History to Life

These Amazing Books Bring American History to Life


Peter Crabtree and Bobbie Kalman are responsible for some of the most appealing American history books for children of all ages that I've ever seen. I first became aware of these books while I was in the business of selling educational books for children. They are not boring, like textbooks. They are designed to make children want to pick them up and read them. When I sold these at home school conventions, even the parents loved reading them. These books sold themselves as soon as people looked inside of them. I myself learned much from them. 

The Early Settler Series


Buy Early Settler Storybook
Educator Bobbie Kalman wrote most of these books. The first series she produced was called the Early Settler Series. It is now mostly out of print, but copies are available on Amazon. As you can see by the cover art on this title, the art is nostalgic in style. The books look old fashioned. There are lots of illustrations to enhance the text. The reading level is about third or fourth grade and up. The illustrations will not be considered too young by older children. 

These books sold very well for me. Titles include Early Christmas, Early Stores and Markets, Early Loggers and the Sawmill, Early Travel, Early Village Life, Food for the Settler, Early Schools, Early Family Home, Early Settler Children, Early Settler Storybook, Early Artisans, Early Pleasures and Pastimes, Early Farm Life, Early City Life, and Early Health and Medicine.The link above should lead you to all available titles. A complete collection will show children exactly what life was like for the earliest settlers of what is now the United States. 


The Historic Communities Series


Bobbie Kalman's next series, Historic Communities, made some changes in format. These books look more modern. Wherever possible they are illustrated with photographs from living history museums and towns. If you've ever been to Williamsburg or Sturbridge Village, these books will make you feel like you are there again. There are several photographs and / or color illustrations on each two-page spread. Each book 32-page book also has a glossary to explain unfamiliar words and an index to make it easy for readers to find what they are looking for. These books are visually designed for children as young as first grade, but I would expect most children would need to be at a second or third grade level to read them independently. 


Buy A Colonial Town Williamsburg
Let's use an example: A Colonial Town Williamsburg. This book gives an overview of the history of Williamsburg followed by a beautiful pictorial map illustrating the buildings and their locations. The reader then gets a photographic tour of some sights that would have been common to the colonists. These include shops and taverns and the garden areas that were often behind them. We see children getting water from a well, since there was no indoor plumbing. We see a ladder on the roof for putting out chimney fires. We see a slave boy grooming a horse and we learn why horses were important to the colonists.

In the next parts of the book we visit the buildings: the Governor's Palace, the public buildings, Bruton Parish Church, The College of William and Mary, the apothecary, the windmill, and the shops. We not only see photographs, but we learn the purpose of each building and why it was important to the community. As the courthouse is shown, we learn about colonial justice and punishments. In relationship to the apothecary we learn about colonial health care and treatments. We learn how the windmill works.

We meet the people of Williamsburg, from the gentry down to the slaves and get a feel for their places in the community. We see a harness maker at work in his shop. At the end we learn about Project Williamsburg and how students are involved.

Each book in the Historic Communities series introduces readers to a rich pictorial presentation of some aspect of early American colonial life. Each book allows children to step hundreds of years back in history and see what a child's day was like, which games children played, how food was produced and cooked, what people wore, what a school day was like, and more. Here is a brief summary of selected titles. You can see all the titles available for sale on Amazon.

Buy A Child's Day
A Child's Day: Ever wondered what chores the early settler children did, or what they did in their spare time if they had any? How were their schools, foods, and clothing different from those of children today? Color photographs and original artwork bring these children from earlier times to life.

Classroom Games: Even back in early classrooms, teachers used games to help their students learn spelling and creative writing, arithmetic and science, geography, art, history, drama and reciting, good behavior, and music. They even had scavenger hunts back then. Besides games still played in classrooms today, such as spelling bees, students played word games, alphabet games, arithmetic games, and more. In outdoor classrooms, students made gardens and nature crafts. The games in this book are easily transferable to today's classrooms, where they can still make learning fun

Colonial Crafts: Watch the artisans and craftsmen at work in colonial times. Visit the workshops of the wheelwright, the cooper, the founder, the shoemaker, the milliner, the gunsmith, and many more. Discover how these people were trained through the apprenticeship program.

Buy Colonial Life
Colonial Life: Meet the hard-working members of a colonial community. Learn about the importance of family relationships and discover the importance of religion and education to these people. Watch plantation life and see the plight of the slaves. Observe how people traveled and spent their leisure time.

Customs and Traditions: This is one of my favorites. It explains how the early settlers preserved history, predicted the weather, cooked and ate, welcomed a new baby, and celebrated courtships, weddings, holidays, and the harvest.



Buy Fort Life

Fort Life: Forts played a vital role in the New World because they offered protection. Learn about the different types of forts, the parts of the fort and how they functioned, and what went in in the lives of the families who lived in the forts.



The General Store: The general store was the hub of a town's life. It's where people went to buy their supplies, sniff the marvelous aromas, and see the colors of bright, new fabrics. It was a place for people to dream, make deals, gossip, and socialize. The photographs and illustrations will make you feel you are there.

Home Crafts: In this book you will see, step by step, how the early settlers made candles and soap, carded and spun wool, dyed cloth, and sewed samples. The color photographs really make you feel as though you were watching.

Buy In the Barn
In The Barn:  See all the activity that went on in the barns of busy settler farms. Watch as cows are milked, hogs get their slop, and the stalls get cleaned. Share in the work and fun of a barn-raising. See how the chores changed with the seasons.

The Kitchen: When you've read this book you will feel you've visited a colonial home, and entered the kitchen where the family spent a good deal of its time. You will see the fireplace, the tools and utensils surrounding it, and the chores that were done there (baking bread, churning butter, etc.)

Life on a Plantation: Watch the daily activities of plantation owners and their slaves. Compare their lifestyles. Readers will see life in the "big house," in the slave quarters, and in the cotton, rice, and tobacco fields. The customs and festivals of the estate are also explained.

Buy A One-Room School


A One-Room School: The first priority of any early settler community was building a school. This book explains what these one-room schools were like, what they taught, how students studied when books were scarce, how students were disciplined, and what went on during recess.













Buy Pioneer Projects
Pioneer Projects: In this book you will find step-by-step instructions for children and parents who want to make pioneer crafts. There are also instructions for making a model of a settler town.














Buy Early Settler Sayings
Settler Sayings: This is another of my favorites. Ever wondered why we say such things as "flash in the pan" or getting down to brass tacks"? This book explains how some of these old saying have their roots in the day-to-day lives of the early settlers.

Other titles this series include The Gristmill, Visiting a Village, Tools and Gadgets, Old Time Toys, Children's Clothing of the 1800's, The Victorian Home, Spanish Missions, 19th Century Girls and Women, 18th Century Clothing, 19th Century Clothing, Victorian Christmas, Colonial Home, Travel in the Early Days, Pioneer Recipes, and Schoolyard Games. You can find all Historic Communities titles in print (and maybe some that aren't) by following this link.

I highly recommend the books in these two series to parents who want to take their children to see places important in our country's early history. I found that using books to prepare my own children for living history museums and other historic places helped them to understand what they were seeing and got them thinking about which questions they wants to ask docents when they had the opportunity. 

These books are also great resources for children educated at home or in schools, who might not be able to visit historic sites in person as we did. Videos may also be helpful, but they move quickly. Books allow children good long looks at what most interests them.  These should be in every elementary school library. Because of their low reading level and visual impact, these books are also ideal for reluctant or low-level readers in upper grades. 

If you would like to show your children how the early settlers and colonists lived in America, don't miss these. 







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


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