Monday, January 2, 2023

Nonfiction Monday

 

The Gifts of Africa: How a Continent and Its People Changed the World by Jeff Pearce is a wonderful look at the history and cultures of Africa.



Pearce takes readers from the ancient nomadic people who eventually populated the Nile valley and gave rise to Egypt—to the feudal kingdoms that rivaled Europe in the Middle Ages—to the modern era of African countries that are an intricate part of the global political and economic community.

Chapter One, Building Blocks, sets the tone by reminding the audience that as early as 8000 BCE, “Africans were already fishing, farming, and making pottery.” A thoughtful discussion shows how nomadic people eventually created a foundation not only for Egypt, but other kingdoms – Nubian, Assyrian, and others as well.

It’s beyond the scope of this review to examine the wealth of material chapter by chapter, but I’ll note a couple that I found personally compelling.

Chapter Five, Church and State…of Mind was a fascinating study of Ethiopia, its history of Christianity, and its interaction with other faiths.

Chapter Seven, Immortal Queens, was a chapter I couldn’t put down. The European slave trade opens the chapter, but the content places the focus on the resistance offered by African rulers—information that is often missing in the “Africans sold themselves” rationale. The portrait of Njinga, warrior queen of Ndongo, is a vivid depiction of her confrontations with Portugal’s Governor, Joāo Correira de Sousa that threatened to bring down Portugal’s entire colonial system.

This 512-page study is divided into 21 chapters prefaced by an introduction you don’t want to skip. A Comparative Chronology highlights events in Africa alongside Europe, Near East, Asia and the U.S. from 4.4 million years ago through 2021.

The book is completed by Acknowledgements, Notes providing numbered sources referenced chapter by chapter, a 22-page Selected Bibliography, and an Index.

Pearce’s enthusiasm for his topic and the thorough scholarship makes for an engrossing page-turning read. My curiosity drove me along, but I discovered that reading in small increments created wonderful opportunities to thoughtfully consider the material and reflect on the information in depth.

Highly recommended!

Sunday, December 4, 2022

HOLIDAY SHOWCASE OF BOOKS

 GIFT  IDEAS  FOR  YOUNG  FRIENDS  AND  FAMILY

Books are always a happy surprise!

Here are some fun children’s picture books by some of my favorite authors

(and a few by yours truly) for you to consider.


Click on the titles to go to Amazon to learn more or buy books.

Click on the author's name to visit their website.


When Nana Dances – Jane Yolen and Maddison Stemple-Piatt 

Each Nana in this story has a wide experience in moving to music from ballet and tap to salsa and swing. She can dance to any music and with most anything. But her best dancing happens when she shares the fun with her grandchildren.

    

 The Gingerbread Cowboy  Janet Squires




The Gingerbread Cowboy can run from the rancher's wife, he can dash past the javalinas and he can giddy-up right by the cattle grazing on the mesa.  But what happens when he meets a coyote sleeping in the sun? A lively Western version of the classic read-aloud tale. (Ages 4-8)


There's a Dodo on the Wedding Cake – Wade Bradford 


Bradford’s gift for imaginative story telling takes readers back to the Sharemore Hotel where a wedding party becomes the victim of Mr. Snore’s well-intentioned bumbling.

Definitely too much fun not to share.  (Ages 4-8)


Gracie Jane  Janet Squires




Gracie Jane has a heart as big as the Western sky, and she's always ready to lend a helping hand. So, she doesn't think twice about rescuing Fifi La Rue and taking the lost pup home. After all, how much trouble could one little dog be on a great big ranch? It's nonstop fun and excitement when one good deed turns this cowgirl's life upside down! (Ages 4-8)


Just Like Gulliver  Janet Squires




The adventure of a young groundhog who is frightened of his shadow until a fun-filled journey through the woods and farms surrounding his burrow allows him to discover his courage on Groundhog Day. An author's note provides factual information about Groundhogs. (Ages 4-8)



This is a delightful countdown quest built around subtraction. Ten pandas go on a playful journey through the mountains of China where curiosity lures each into an adventure until only one remains. Written in rhyme, this story introduces young readers to simple subtraction word problems with matching numerical equations. (Ages 3-5)


    I Am NOT A Scaredy-Cat  Paula D. Golden



Here is a playful look at the way in which children boldly confront common fears — darkness, creatures, or sounds — and an acknowledgement that no matter how brave we are — we each have fears to face. An Author's Note at the end provides thoughtful questions for opening conversations about fears. (Ages 4-8)


Me and Ms. Too  Laura Ruby



Young Molly can’t recall a time when family wasn’t just her and her father.  They were always together. Suddenly, that all changes when he marries Molly’s favorite librarian. A thoughtful, empathetic story that is reassuring and hopeful as it reminds us that families can come in many forms. (Ages 4-8)


They All Saw A Cat  Brendan Wenzel

“The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears and paws…” and so begins the cat’s journey through a series of encounters with a diverse collection of creatures – from bee to bat, fox to flea. In each instance, Wenzel treats readers to an imaginative impression of what those creatures might observe from their varied points of view: a bird in flight, the blurry distortion of a fish bowl. This 2017 Caldecott Medal Honor book would be a great introduction to a conversation about observation and perception.


Friday, October 7, 2022

Picture Book Friday

 

Allow me to introduce you to Bella’s Fall Coat by Lynn Plourde.


 

Bella’s Fall Coat is a charming look at one of childhood’s dilemmas -- the desire to have the joys of our youth remain unchanged. This is a perfect time for this heart-warming story that celebrates the marvels of fall and invites us to experience this special time of year through the eyes of an adorable little girl.

The language is as crisp and bright as a fall morning. The illustrations by Susan Gal are rich with autumn’s colors and fill the pages with warmth and movement.

Sure to become a read-aloud favorite.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

NATIONAL DAY OF THE COWBOY JULY 23rd

 THE NATIONAL DAY OF THE COWBOY IS JULY 23


Celebrate with one of these fun picture books: 


Mom’s Choice Awards® honoring Excellence Gold Seal recipients 2019



THE GINGERBREAD COWBOY –


The Gingerbread Cowboy -- can run from the rancher's wife, he can dash past the javalinas and he can giddyup right by the cattle grazing on the mesa.  


But what happens when he meets a coyote sleeping in the sun?

 








GRACIE JANE has a heart as big as the Western sky, and she's always ready to lend a helping hand. So, she doesn't think twice about rescuing Fifi La Rue and taking the lost pup home After all, how much trouble could one little dog be on a great big ranch?

It's nonstop fun and excitement when one good deed turns this cowgirl's life upside down.

 

 

 


 

Payson Book Festival July 23rd

Two of my books featured at the Seventh Annual Payson Book Festival

Book lovers of all ages are invited to attend the annual Payson Book Festival for a day filled with books, authors, prizes and surprises. The festival will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 23, 2022, at the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino in Payson, Ariz.
Gracie Jane and Just Like Gulliver will be among the over 30 featured titles that attendees can request to review as part of a co-op book display at the Story Monsters Booth. There will be prizes and a special surprise for young readers, too.
For more information about the Payson Book Festival, visit: paysonbookfestival.org.



GRACIE JANE has a heart as big as

the Western sky, and she's always ready to lend a helping hand.

So, she doesn't think twice about rescuing Fifi La Rue and taking the lost pup home. After all, how much trouble could one little dog be on a great big ranch.

It's nonstop fun and excitement when one good deed turns this cowgirl's life upside down.



The adventure of a young groundhog
who is frightened of his shadow until a fun-filled journey through the woods and farms surrounding his burrow allows him to discover his courage on Groundhog Day.
An author's note provides factual information about Groundhogs.
Cross curriculum connections for: Folklore, Shadows, Groundhog Day, and Groundhogs.

Friday, June 17, 2022

Picture Book Friday

 

Lettuce Get In Trouble by Linda Kao with illustrations by Mariana Rio is the first in a series of children’s picture books that explore the life of Sara Little through her impact on the concept of design.


In this instance, the story focuses on her influence on the eating habits of children in New York City when the Ministry of Food asks for help in encouraging youngsters to eat more vegetables. Her imaginative solution is to bring children together to experiment and discover the miraculous wonders of vegetables when she declares, “The children will cook, and we shall allow them to play with their food!”

Some important themes weave throughout – the importance of asking “why,” problem solving through smart design, and using those designs to create beauty and fun – all of which are great for childhood growth.

The narrative is an entertaining mix of narrative and dialogue highlighted by Rio’s imaginative illustrations that combine clean lines and strong colors.

An author’s note at the conclusion of the story offers a thoughtful biography of Sara Little Turnball (1917-2015) that includes several vintage photos of this talented woman.

For Ages 4-9

Recommended for home and school libraries.

Friday, June 3, 2022

Picture Book Friday

WHITNEY WINS EVERYTHING is the second Tiny Ninja Book by Sasha Graham. 


 Whitney is a talented, determined little girl who sees every experience as a competition – eating the most mac and cheese, brushing her teeth, getting picked first at school. After all, if you can’t be the BEST, then what’s the point?

Whitney soon discovers that winning isn’t everything. First, she doesn’t get invited to a special birthday party because everyone knows she’ll win all the party games.  Then, her new soccer coach suggests they not keep score and just play for fun during practice. Ridiculous!

As with Graham’s first book, there’s a tiny ninja present to act as a subtle voice of conscience in this story about teamwork. That subtlety is a quality that is particularly appealing in Graham’s writing. The tiny ninja doesn’t lecture, but provides an opportunity for conversation that allows Whitney to discover answers for herself as she talks out her disappointment and confusion.

The lively, humorous text is a delightful read and touches on important themes of teamwork, kindness, and friendship.

Valieva’s colorful artwork is action-packed and includes a seek-and-find component challenging young readers ages 4-8 to locate the tiny ninjas hidden in the illustrations.

The press release for WHITNEY WINS EVERYTHING indicates that a portion of each book sale will be donated to Phoenix Rising FC Youth Soccer Foundation to fund soccer scholarships. 

Recommended for home and school libraries. 

And be sure to check out MILO DOES NOT LIKE MORNINGS, the first in a series that is sure to be a hit with young readers and parents. 

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer