Back home by Dan L. Walker- Book Review

This novel takes place in 1968 and focusses on two brothers who live in Alaska and are affected by the Vietnam war. The older brother, Joe, signs up to fight while the younger brother, Sam, becomes involved with the peace movement. When Joe is injured and returns home he is suffering from PTSD. He cannot understand his younger brother’s actions and their relationship suffers. Sam just wants to live a happy life fixing his car, dating girls, and hanging out with his friends. Life is complicated and major events affect everyone’s life. Unfortunately, the story ends with a cliffhanger. I hate not knowing the outcome of something so that always impacts my review of the book.

The voice is quite easy to follow and Sam is a likeable protagonist, not a perfect young man but a good guy. It’s easy to see viewpoints of both brothers. Perhaps a bit more background on the history of the war in Vietnam we help the reader understand Sam’s opinion better. Young readers may not know what triggered the peace movement.

It is it easy to read book about brothers, coming of age, family dynamics, and the impact of war on those who fight it and those who love those fighters when they return. It creates a fairly good picture of the 60s.

Suitable for grade 6 and up. There are a few fights but nothing too drastic and the encounters with girls are PG.

All in all a good read.

4/5 stars.

Book Review – Leonard (My Life As A Cat) by Carlie Sorosiak

Buy Link https://amzn.to/3mTrZBI

Leonard (My Life As A Cat) by Carlie the Sorosiak is one of the best children’s books I’ve read in a long time. I chose to read this to my granddaughter and found myself struggling not to read ahead when she wasn’t around. The author has a wicked sense of humour and a profound sense of humanity. We laughed out loud more than once.

Leonard is actually an alien who meant come to Earth as a human and spend one month in Yellowstone Park working as ranger. Unfortunately, something went wrong and he arrived hundreds of miles away, in the middle of a flash flood and in the body of a cat. He was rescued by a ten-year-old named Olive who is also a unique individual and going through tribulations of her own.

Leonard can type to communicate and can understand every species on the planet. It becomes Olive’s mission get him to the rendezvous point within a month’s time so that he can continue his immortal, hive-like, logical life. Olive tries to enrich his stay by fulfilling his unusual bucket-list, unusual that is, for a cat. However, a lot can change in a month. Both Leonard and Olive develop deep feelings for each and as the date approaches, we also find ourselves torn.

There are complications galore included the near impossibility of getting to the rendezvous point on time. Sorosiak builds the suspense and our angst over how this story will end. But she handles it like a master.

This story is about family, friendship, acceptance, love, courage, and sacrifice. My granddaughter and I were in tears when it was over, realizing that there could never be a more perfect ending.

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Zoologic Game Review

This game has a plastic stand, a book of challenges, a hint and instruction book, and seventeen pieces of tile. It is a game for one person but two people helping each other can be a lot of fun. The tiles have friendly dogs, unfriendly dogs, mice, cheese, fish, bones, and cats. The book of challenges contains a pattern of tiles that must be followed. Some of them have additional animals or items on it as well. The challenge is to organize a prescribed set of tiles in such a way that no food gets eaten or no animals fight. For example these tiles should not be beside each other: cat and dog, dog and bone, mouse and cheese, cat and mouse, and cat and fish. The tile arrangements begin with easy and increase in difficulty. There are 60 puzzles to complete.
Durability The plastic stand is very thin and can be easily broken. The plastic tiles are sturdy but the paper pictures glued onto them are beginning to peel.
Play quality This is a fun game for adults as well as children. It is a great way to teach children logic and the process of elimination .
Safety There are no sharp edges. The tiles should be kept away from children under three as they are a choking hazard.
Age interest The game is designated for five years and older but that seems a little young. I would say six or seven.
Storage and portability Everything fits neatly into a small box.
Price $25.00 well worth the price.
Recommendation highly recommended. Addictive and brain stimulating activity that even adults will enjoy.

Be Patient, Little Chick – Little Animal Adventures – by Patricia Jensen – Book Review

This charming picture book tells us about the hatching of an independent-minded and curious little chick. He  boldly sets out to explore the world without his mother. He wants to fly like the robin, swim like the duck, eat bones like the dog,  and face down the big scary rooster. In the end mother hen has to drive off the rooster and the little chick finally excepts her wisdom that growing up takes patience.

The illustrations are realistic but lack any originality or pizzazz. It could have been more humorous.

The story ends with two pages of facts about baby chicks and hens.

This is a good book to teach a child that chickens are more than just meat and egg producers. They are living beings with relationships and personalities. As well, most children can relate to the little chicks impatience at not being able to do everything the grown ups do. It’s suitable for ages 4 to 7.

 This is a good book to stimulate discussion about animals and about maturing at a safe and reasonable  pace.

Buy link https://amzn.to/36ho6jm

 

Chick toy purchase link https://amzn.to/37eCvMg

Toy Review – Spuzzle Game by Disney

“The crazy racing puzzle game” Frozen by Disney

Two to four player build the characters Anna, Elsa, Hans, Olaf, and Kristoff containing four puzzle pieces each. Players take turns blindly picking up puzzle pieces. Duplicates are left behind. For added fun a player can occasionally put back an opponent’s piece. Once a four piece character is complete they are locked and safe from opponents. A “Spuzzle” card means every player gets to pick up a piece. When a player completes all five four-piece puzzles, they win.

There are other movie variations of this game.

Durability Four stars Well made heavy cardboard. Thick puzzle pieces.

Play quality Five stars. Loads of fun for small children especially Frozen fans. Rules are easy.

Safety  Five stars.

Age interest Four stars. Labeled 4+ but teens might be bored. Some three-year-olds could play this.

Storage and portability four stars. Fits into a comfortably sized box.

Price Three stars. Averages $45 to $50 on Amazon.

Recommended for children ages 4-9.

Other variations.

Buy link https://amzn.to/2JfR8XC

Buy link https://amzn.to/3muCxG4

Bathtime for Biscuit by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. Illustrations by Pat Schories. Book review.

Buy link https://amzn.to/2Vhcgz2

The Biscuit series of books are classed as “I can read!”. They are perfect for very beginning readers. Biscuit is an adorable puppy who does the kinds of things real dogs do. In this story, he resists getting into the bath.

The little girl wants Biscuit to get into that tub but he wants to dig instead. She struggles to manipulate him into the water but, after a short emmersion, he escapes and chases another puppy named Puddles. The two of them dig in the mud and play in the water. Then they roll in the flower bed where the girl tries to catch them with a towel. Both puppies latch on and a tug-of-war ensues. It ends with the little girl falling into the bathtub herself. Children laugh out loud at this ending.

It is difficult to find emergent reading books that have engaging, logical stories children can relate to and enjoy reading. The Biscuit stories are perfect. Capucilli captures the mischievous and endearing nature of puppies while Schories draws them with simplicity and charm.

Highly recommended for emergent readers in Kindergarten and first grade.

I am accepting books for review. For information on how to submit, go here: https://bferrante.wordpress.com/2016/07/09/get-featured-on-my-blog/

The Velveteen Rabbit

With parents looking for things to do with their at home children, I decided to provide a free reading of The Velveteen Rabbit with Illustrations.

Read in its entirety, this classic story is sure to resonate with young and old alike. This story of love and devotion between a toy rabbit and the boy who survives scarlet fever is timeless.

Buy link https://amzn.to/37bSMBG

Pirate Smells – Interactive Fun for the Whole Family

Purchase link 

Hours of things to do with this book:

  1. Read the story. Enjoy Pirate’s adventures and the child’s imaginings,
  2. Before reading the answer, try to guess the source of the smell from the close-up pictures that represent Pirate’s viewpoint.
  3. Write and draw your answer to the question about Pirate’s last adventure.
  4. At the back of the book, you will find a list of well-known books, classic and recent. Look for images or words on the cloud-framed pages of this story that remind you of the books listed. Write down the page number of any you find.
  5. Find 68 gingerbread men.
  6. Read the books listed. They’re great.

Here’s a video with illustrations. https://youtu.be/i5TED_gpJYg