All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang. Book Review.

This is an unusual book of thanks. It reminds me of a Buddhist gatha where we thank our body for everything it has given and done for us. In this text, the child thanks his feet, hands, knees and elbows, head, five senses, and other parts of his body. He expresses appreciation and wonder at the gifts given to him through his body. For example:

“I smile and talk and sing with my mouth. My lips kiss Mommy and Daddy. My teeth bite crackers. My tongue licks ice cream. My most tastes all my food before it slides down here, into my tummy.”

There’s one exceptionally beautiful moment where, after expressing thanks for all the things he can hear such as honking, singing, barking, laughing, purring, ticking,and rumbling, he hears between the noises… Silence. This illustration is a double spread of a night sky with a crayon outline of the boys face, eyes closed, calm and serene.

The illustrations are large and bright, done with crayon and cut out pieces of felt and graphics.

This book is a excellent reminder to be thankful for the simple things we receive, to express gratitude for our bodies with which we experience the whole universe.

It ends “And right now I also know that I am part of this whole world – this universe! All this is my home. I am ALIVE. And this whole universe is inside… All of me! What a wonder.
What seems at first to be a simple picture book is actually a profound and wise way of looking at the world and oneself. This would be a beautiful nighttime story for a child, a wonderful book to share on Thanksgiving Day, a Sunday school or Dharma school treasure, or even a reminder to adults not to take their lives for granted.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

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Isabella’s Heart by Diane Merrill Wiggington. Book Review.

Isabella’s Heart is the second in the award-winning Jeweled Dagger Series. Like the first book, it is a lighthearted humorous romance that takes place in the 1700s. It contains just enough historical reference to establish time and place and provide an anchor for societal expectations and events. In spite of a few anachronisms, the author succeeds in bringing the reader into this colorful world.

Isabella is the daughter of Angelina, the heroine of the first book, Angelina’s Secret, and has inherited her gutsy, defiant personality. In this story, Isabella sets out to save her twin brother from kidnappers. They share a special psychic connection which allows Isabella to see through the eyes of her brother Charles. Although there is a significant amount of romance, it is a nice variation to see the focus of this story centered on a sibling relationship.

Like her mother, Isabella is no slacker when it comes to combat. She is also insightful, brave, clever, and more than a little reckless. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away but this is a fun, swashbuckling, fast-paced adventure with a kick ass heroine. It’s a great beach read or holiday break.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Getting to the Vet on Time – Is It Possible? Recycled Sundays.

It’s bad enough when my mailbox is stuffed with bills, requests for donations, and rejection letters, but I really hate it when my cats get more personal mail than I do.

Their veterinarian sends them postcards. At least, they don’t picture domestic cats lazing in the sunshine on southern beaches wearing sunglasses and sipping kittenaid. The postcards picture a cat with his dentures in a glass and a dog with an ice pack on his toothache. It reminds them to brush regularly (in our house that is as often as they crown a new monarch in London) and make an appointment to have their teeth cleaned. I guess I can do without those kinds of postcards. Then again, so can my cats since they can’t see two-dimensional pictures anyway.

Vet day in our house resembles a chase scene from the old Keystone Cops movies. Everyone tears around the place, upsetting things, making spectacular collisions, and accomplishing very little. Because of our three cats – Virgil, Patch and Misty – we must go through this three times a year. We learned the only way to catch Virgil is to offer him food. That cat would put his head under a guillotine for kitty snack.

However, Patch has to be cornered. Everyone must act nonchalant. The cat traveling case should be hidden out of sight. Whoever is chosen to catch the animal must behave as though he is only slightly interested in the cat, just pausing for a quick petting. The more interest is shown, the better Patch hides. Once he is apprehended, he pays us back by dropping hair the way a lizard drops his tale or an octopus shoots ink. I suspect he thinks if he sheds enough hair in one spot, we will be fooled and take that to the vet instead. Too many trips in a row and he’ll be needing treatment for baldness.

Misty is almost impossible to catch. Highly suspicious by nature, we must be doubly sly to fool her. She is not drawn to kitty snacks and could live very well without humans, thank you, as long as she had clean litter.  SHE decides when and where she will be petted and by whom. Catching her requires an ambush which must succeed on the first try or the next 20 minutes will involve slamming doors, moving furniture, Olympic leaping, and bandages – for the human, not the cat. Once captured, stuffing her into the travel case is like trying to put bubbles back into soda pop.

I grew tired of all this nonsense, so when Virgil had an appointment, I caught him 15 minutes early and ignored his yowls of protest from the carrying case. Unfortunately, I had promised my children they could come and, of course, their school bus was late that day. They were met with a barrage of commands. “Respond immediately and cooperate completely or you’ll be left behind.” They unloaded their school stuff and then piled into the back seat. I put Virgil in his cage on the front passenger seat. The clock was ticking. Everyone had their assigned roles. This would be a test of our teamwork.

When I parked the car in front of the veterinarian’s, my son jumped up on the sidewalk and dropped the quarter into the meter as ordered. My daughter locked and slammed the sliding passenger door and then stood back. I jumped out and raced around to get the cat from the front passenger seat. Precise drill corp! We were amazing!

 

 

Then, I realized the passenger door was locked. My purse was on the floor with the keys in it. WE had made it on time, but not the cat. He was inside his cat cage, locked inside the car beyond my grasp. Fortunately, our vet still used wire hangers.

First published in the Chronicle-Journal/Times-News, Sunday, January 24, 1993

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Angelina’s Secret by Diane Merrill Wigginton. Book Review.

This is not the kind of book I typically review. It is a lightly historical heavily romantic novel. It features a kick ass heroine in a time where independence and strength in women was frowned upon. It is an adult book of 330 pages.

Angelina is on a ship and is captured by a privateer/pirate named Jude. His heart has been broken and he has a dark opinion of women until he meets Angelina. Angelina is a rebellious, but chaste, young woman until her passion is awakened by the blue-eyed pirate. While her family members are held hostage, Angelina dallies and begins a complicated romance with a man leading a double life.

Admittedly, the premise is fairly clichéd but Wiggington pulls it off if the reader is willing to suspend any skepticism and turn her imagination over to the realm of adventure and romance. Angelina reminded me of Scarlet O’Hara in that she was invincible and controlled by her passion. By the end of the book she had almost taken on super hero status.

The sex scenes emphasize romance while providing just enough detail to be titillating. This is a fun, light, enjoyable book, the kind one takes on vacation or to the beach. If you are looking for something fun that is uncomplicated and upbeat, then this is a book you would definitely enjoy.

Buy link http://a.co/6Mal4Tl

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Suess. Book Review.

 

I remember when this book first came out. Every principal and vice principal who had to MC a high school or elementary school graduation ceremony latched onto this book as a holy text. It was read to classes year after year and then continued to be spread by parents gifting it to their children. There is a reason it resonated so well.

Not only does this book contain sound advice for any young person heading out into the world but it serves as a reminder to us all of our possibilities and our challenges. It can be applied to the beginning of any new venture. I realized, because my granddaughter has a rather large vocabulary, that this book was suitable to read to her before beginning junior kindergarten. Although the message certainly wasn’t internalized on the first read through, the book launches well into discussion.

Everyone worries, whether they are beginning kindergarten, being promoted to the head CO, starting their own business, or leaving the nest, whether they will find their place and fulfill their potential. This book has a perfect combination of positive expectations and reality. “You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.” is followed with “except when you don’t. Because, sometimes you won’t.” Note the word sometimes. The door is wide open. The possibilities are there.

When children are inheriting a dying world with ecosystems being destroyed and pollution, including the dumping of nuclear waste, completely out of control. With wars on going and wars threatening. With obesity and heart attack hand-in-hand with poor diet and factory farming. With climate change bringing desertification, tornadoes and floods and who knows what else. With inner-city violence and the shadow of terrorism. On and on and on. Children need to have confidence and feel empowered but also realize that they will not be able to fulfill every dream or every goal.  Some things are beyond their control. What amazing discussions this book can trigger for any age.

I would say, don’t wait till university graduation or even high school graduation. Get this book into your child’s hands as soon they are able to comprehend it. Then again, you might want to save it for that moment of doubt when he’she faces difficult choices.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

World Elephant Day

Saturday, August 12 is World Elephant Day. In homage to these amazing beings I have made a video, for ages 8 and up, chronicling the lives of two Indian elephants. The story is a blend of the lives of several elephants. The events are common and factual. Elephant fans of all ages will appreciate this video. Here is the link. https://youtu.be/CtWMvggEW6I

 

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Dancing on Daddy’s Shoes by Gabriel Dietch. Illustrated by Ashley Lucas. Book Review.

This book subtly addresses a complicated topic, that of infertility, with grace and beauty. I think it is written for parents to share with their children. I’m not sure if it’s necessary, though. Do children need to know that their parents had trouble conceiving and had to take medicine? Perhaps this is more of a book written for the prospective parents who are struggling. If this book is, indeed, meant to be shared with a child I think all they need to know is that the parents wanted them so much and had to wait such a long time. That’s enough to make the story precious for them.

The illustrations are sweet and gentle as are the words. You can feel the parents’ deep desire to have a child to love. When the baby finally arrives and dances on her father’s shoes it evokes strong emotion.

The text, however, has some problems. There are some phrases that are absolutely lyrical but it seems to jump from prose to rhyme to something else. At times, it stumbles.

We travelled far and saw many places that were really neat. The one I saw the clearest was a land with the tallest trees.

The tree and I walked down the beach so he could show the stars to me. “Have you wondered why your timing for this dance is in a freeze? Sometimes one must wait for that truly special girl you seek.”

“I have helped so many find their way; some aid you both sure need. Sometimes parents require some help to make a beautiful being. If you can’t create naturally, don’t fret; there is a way if you follow me. But to create another shows one’s love, so you cannot be bleak. Why shouldn’t you have this dance you truly seek? My magic medicine may help. It is a way, but you must follow it every day.”

Also, on my e-book version there were several pages that had gibberisheither in addition to the text or in place of the text.

Asdasdasd p

S S S S adaa asdasad

qwdqwe qweqwe qweqwe

I think if the author polished the text and marketed it to parents, it could be very popular.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Still Crazy by Diana Rubino. Book Review.

This book was given to me for review. The complete title is Still Crazy – Can obsession continue from beyond the grave? I was expecting a book mostly about a ghost or haunting of Alyssa Tyler. Oddly though, the death of the obsessive Clay Lynch, occurs almost at the end. On the back cover it also says he wrecks her wedding by kidnapping her. This is the big climax also at the end. Personally, I would rather not have known the conclusion. I felt let down that it didn’t go beyond what I already knew.

The book is about obsession and codependent behavior. I think this has a good topic for women who find themselves in unhealthy relationships they just can’t break off. There is a moment where the protagonist goes on to a television show and is diagnosed and helped. A lot of valuable information is shared on codependency. I think some readers might find this very helpful with regards to their own relationships. Although many men would not go as far as Clay, codependency is fairly common and sabotages many women’s chance for genuine happiness.

I was expecting a big turnaround in Alyssa’s behaviour after therapy but she barely changed.  She still kept leading on Clay, purposefully or not purposefully, it’s hard to tell. I would have liked her a whole lot more if she had had a genuine shift in behaviour. Because the Alyssa kept on teasing and feeding Clay’s obsession with her, the book seems to drag after she was diagnosed and treated. She was kind of an irritating protagonist. It was hard to cheer for her when she continually made bad decisions. She didn’t listen when given good advice, such as getting a restraining order and not seeing him under any circumstances.

Clay was just plain creepy.

I found the dialogue a little unnatural, as though the author was trying to hard to fit the diagnosis of obsession and codependency into the novel. I think, if you are a writer, the best thing you can do is read your dialogue out loud to someone and see how it really sounds.

There are some  fairly hot scenes in the book for those who like a little sizzle in the novels. I have mixed feelings about this book but that’s my personal taste. I ‘m sure many readers will enjoy it.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

A Different Generation – Listen to the Wisest of All by Rita Blockman and Kimberly Morin. Photography by Charles Mercer. Book Review.

Listen to the Wisest of All is a collection of interviews with men and women aged 88 to 104 years old.

One thing that impressed me was the positive attitude many of the interviewees had toward their childhood even if they were raised in difficult circumstances, even poverty. They were proud of their own contributions to their families sustainability. They enjoyed simple things and appreciated what they had. Family, religion, and country were the three predominantly important influences on them. Gathering wealth, collecting expensive items, or garnering attention or a following was not of interest. Most importantly was contributing and acquiring independence and skill. These values are what a bold this generation to survive a world war and the Great Depression.

 Click on the cover to buy a copy.

There were sweet stories of romance, some with happy endings, some with un-requited love.

The best part of the book was when we were reading the direct quotes. Biography is so much better when told directly from the source. However, the authors have done a wonderful job of helping the reader connect to the 14 people featured in this little book. Their observations, emotional responses, and interpretations have made this more than a factual account of events.

Each interviewee was asked what advice he would share with the younger generation. Many recommended showing respect for everyone. Pay attention to the little things. Don’t judge others. Health and contribute when you can, no matter how old you are.

Recurring themes were the concern over what seems to be eroded values in society. Many of the elderly frowned on overly revealing clothing, lack of personal communication between people, and undisciplined children.

The loss of innocence at such a young age due to the media was mentioned more than once. I share this concern. Childhood has shrunk to the blink of an eye. This is all the more apparent when listening to elders’ stories about the simple fun they had as children.

A book like this makes me wonder what kind of stories will be collected for my generation. It would be wonderful if this could be repeated every 20 years. What a fascinating chronology that would be.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Canada Celebrates Multiculturalism by Bobby Kalman. The Lands, Peoples, and Cultures Series. Book Review.

Canada Celebrates Multiculturalism (Lands, Peoples, & Cultures) buy link

The topics covered in this nonfiction book are:

  • Beginnings of multiculturalism
  • Celebrating Canada’s history
  • Heritage days
  • Caribana
  • Cross-cultural festivals
  • Harvest festivals
  • Christmas customs
  • New year celebrations
  • Religion
  • Holidays
  • Family days
  • Festivals
  • Recipes

It also Includes a Glossary and an Index.

This is a lot of things to tackle in such a small book of 32 pages. Basically, it just whets the appetite.

The beginnings of multiculturalism is a two-page spread, three-quarters of which is a photograph. In the text bar there is a short paragraph written on native cultures, French and British, more people came, and celebrating multiculturalism. At the bottom, in italics, is a caption for the picture that reads, “Many cultures can be found in Canada. People in this picture represent the Native, German, Ukrainian, Filipino, and Engine populations in Canada. Can you identify them by their costumes?” I’m not sure about the other cultures, but First Nations people do not like their regalia to be called a costume. This is a disrespectful term.

In the “Celebrating Canada’s history”, there are paragraphs on Canada Day, Victoria day, Labor Day, and Remembrance Day. It does mention the alternative holiday celebrated by the French Canadians in Quebec. There is a small text box below the fireworks picture and a sketch about Louis Riel. It is entitled “remembering a hero.”

Under heritage days, the author gives a short blurb on the powwow. The entire second part of the two-page spread is about African Canadians. Turn the page and you’ll find paragraphs on the national Ukrainian Festival, Fete National, Festival du Voyageur, Klondike Days, Oktoberfest, Highland games, and Icelandic Festival. The entire next double-page spread is devoted Caribana.

Under harvest vegetables, Canadian Thanksgiving is described. The Green Festival celebrated by the Iroquois, harvest fall fairs, and the wild rice harvest by the Algonquin, Cree, and Ojibwa are explained. There is a flashback about the order of good cheer. A short paragraph explains the Chinese Moon Festival.

For such a short book, it shares a great of information on unfamiliar holidays. Well worth a read or for stocking your class library.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

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