Sunday, January 29, 2017

Juvenile Pile: Animals and Non-Fiction

Last week I was putting away laundry when Christopher came into my room wanting to hang out. Seeing that I was busy, he decided he wanted to read me a book he'd read the previous night with the babysitter. The particular book was so funny that he felt he had to share it with me. I absolutely loved that notion.

I'll start my list this week with that book.

This book is pretty funny. A boy in a restaurant repeatedly asks for new bowls of soup because each one contains an animal. The animals get crazier and crazier and the boy is quite dramatic. This book is a great read aloud. I enjoyed listening to my son read it to me. And he had a fun time reading it and pointing out the animals in order when we got to the last page. 

4 Stars

Bear's Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson

This book is another fun one in the Bear series. This time bear has a loose tooth. All of the other forest animals try to help him pull it out. I selected this book from the library because Christopher once again has a couple of loose teeth. It's a fun read for kids about to or in the midst of losing their own teeth. It even has the tooth fairy at the end. 

4 Stars

This book was another great addition to a really awesome non-fiction series for kids. Once again the two animals are described and compared for many pages, and then they're pitted against each other in a fight. I didn't know much about either of these animals, so I learned a lot. The fight wasn't as dramatic as some of the others in the series, but we still enjoyed this book quite a bit.

4 Stars

Maxwell the Monkey Barber by Cale Atkinson

I didn't like this book as much as I was hoping. I think I'd read that it was really funny, but I just found it kind of odd. Maxwell is a monkey barber. He cuts hair, mustaches, and manes for other animals in the jungle. The animals all have really, really long hair, and he ends up with a lot of clippings. He needs something to do with all of them, and the perfect solution comes along. It took Christopher a minute to figure out what had happened when he saw the picture. He read this book, and maybe he liked it more than I did. We didn't really discuss it. Maybe my expectations were too high.

2 Stars

Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda

I love interactive books. This book was such fun. Christopher read it, and he did everything the book asked - tilted it, shook it, turned it upside down. I wasn't sure if he would, but he really got into it. In this book bunny is skiing, but he needs some help making the snow and the hill. The reader gets to participate in the story, and you even get hot chocolate at the end. Perfect for ages 3-6.

5 Stars

This book is a Level 3 easy reader, but it has a lot of words. I read it to Christopher, and it was another fun non-fiction book. It chronicled the history of ice cream. Sadly, not as much is known about the exact origins of ice cream, but the book was still very interesting. It was broken down into chapters, but we read the whole thing in one sitting. I think we both enjoyed it, especially the parts about the presidents and about favorite ice cream flavors.

4 Stars

What books have been read in your house recently?

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Kid Lit: Gertrude and Toby's Friday Adventure

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Gertrude and Toby's Friday Adventure by Shari Tharp

Published on December 5, 2015.

Goodreads Summary:
Gertrude the goat and her best friend Toby the tortoise are adventurers. No sitting around on the boring farm for them! They love to explore, and every Friday they sneak off the farm for some extra fun. One Friday, Gertrude and Toby decide to visit the local candy store in town. They discover yummy goodies and treats, but soon find that the treats are not free!? Uh oh! The market owner grabs Toby. He demands money for the candy that Gertrude and Toby have taken by mistake. Gertrude must find a way to save her friend and get back home before Farmer Sam returns. 

My Thoughts:
The first in a series, this book tells of an adventure that Toby (a turtle) and Gertrude (a goat) have on a Friday when Farmer Sam is away from the farm. They take a walk to the Hay Bale Market to get some candy. On their way there they pass many familiar fairy tale characters - Little Red Riding Hood, Jack (and the Beanstalk), a Frog Princess, and the Gingerbread Man. When Toby gets into some trouble at the market, Gertrude will need these other characters to help save the day.

It's a wild tale that children will likely think is fun. This book is a little longer than a typical picture book, but it isn't set up as a chapter book. There are plenty of pictures, so the next isn't too long. It's good for ages 4-8.

My Rating: 3 Stars

I'm linking up with Booking Mama today for Kid Konnection. Every Saturday Julie hosts this link up for all things relating to children's books.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The love of a little boy...

Since Christopher has been born, I have wished for him to be older. Every day is better than the last in my mind because he's growing up. I don't particularly like babies or toddlers. I prefer older children. Ones you can actually have conversation with. Young people you can reason with.

So as Christopher has gotten older, I have never wished to return to a prior age. This fact is a huge part of why we never had a second child. I couldn't do it all over again. I have often wondered whether there would be an age that I wouldn't enjoy and then might look longingly on a previous time. I don't really think that will happen (until perhaps he goes away to college), but you never know.

I do have to say though that I am loving our current age. 6.75 years old is pretty marvelous, and the main reason is that Christopher is suddenly very much in love with me. He will often stop what he is doing to spontaneously kiss me, hug me, or tell me how very much he loves me. It's so sweet. And I know it's 100% genuine. He's not at all saying it to butter me up for something he wants. He's just honestly expressing the feelings in his heart.

Snuggling on the couch when he was sick earlier this month.

I'm not sure that I'll ever want to return to this age once we move beyond it, but I know for sure that I never want to forget it.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Kid Lit: Good Morning, Superman!

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Good Morning, Superman! by Michael Dahl

To be published on March 1, 2017.

Goodreads Summary:
Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s the . . . SUN! When morning comes, a young boy must prepare for his day, faster than a speeding bullet. Follow along as he leaps tall buildings (jumps out of bed) in a single bound, dons his heroic uniform (his clothes), and faces his greatest weakness (Kryptonite-colored toothpaste). Then it’s up, up, and away to daycare! The perfect companion to the bestselling author Michael Dahl's BEDTIME FOR BATMAN, this official DC Comics picture book will have Superman fans young and old delighting in their morning routines. Includes a morning routine checklist.

My Thoughts:
The second book in the "series" after Bedtime for Batman, this book draws parallels between a young boy and Superman as they get ready to face their days. I really appreciated that the family in this story is African American. I love reading normal stories with diverse characters. I also loved that the boy's toothpaste is his Kryptonite. 

This book is perfect for super hero fans because it does assume some familiarity with Superman. It would work well with kids ages 3-5. There's even a morning checklist on the last page, so your own little super hero can follow to steps when getting ready for his/her day.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Juvenile Pile: Inspector Flytrap and secret agents

We've been having many reading parties in our house over the last couple of weeks. Christopher has been doing a considerable amount of independent reading, but we're still reading aloud. Here're some books we've read recently.

Spy Guy by Jessica Young

I read this book to Christopher. It's a book we randomly selected off of the shelves at the library. I usually reserve books after reading about them on other blogs, so this was a rare find. A really cute book that wasn't recommended to me by someone else. It's a fun story about a little boy who's trying to be a sneaky spy. The "Chief", his dad, tells him he must discover the secret to spying on his own. He can't tell him. After many failed attempts, he learns from watching a spider.

4 Stars

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard

Bird wakes up grumpy. Too grumpy to fly. So he decides to walk. One by one the other animals decide to join him. Impromptu mimicking by the other animals ends up cheering up Bird. I loved the vibrant colors of the illustrations, but the story was just so-so. I read this book aloud to Christopher, but the text was simple, so he could have read it on his own.

3 Stars
Inspector Flytrap (Inspector Flytrap #1) by Tom Angleberger

I got this book out of the library after my sister mentioned that he son (age 5.5) enjoys the series. Even though it's easy enough for Christopher to read on his own, his patience with reading hasn't been great lately, so I read this short chapter book to him over a couple of nights. It's about a flytrap detective and his sidekick, Nina the goat. It's pretty absurd but fun.

3 Stars

Inspector Flytrap in the President's Mane Is Missing (Inspector Flytrap #2) by Tom Angleberger

This book is even more ridiculous than the first book. The characters were still fun, but the plot was a little too crazy for my taste. I think Christopher enjoyed it about as much as the first book. Again, he could have read it himself, but I read it to him. He read the mini-comics. Maybe I'm being a little critical because I'm sure these books get kids reading, but I don't know that I'll read more of the series when they're available. It's just not for me.

2 Stars

Whose Butt? by Stan Tekiela

I love non-fiction that makes kids interested in reading. This book is very creative. It features pictures of animal behinds, and you have to guess which animal it is. Each photo is accompanied by a short rhyme, which Christopher read. And then the next page reveals the answer along with interesting facts about the animal - involving their butts. I read those parts. We really had fun with this book.

4 Stars

Snail and Worm by Tina Kugler

This very short, three chapter easy reader book is pretty cute. It's about two friends and their small adventures in the world. It's written all as conversation (without speech bubbles). Christopher read this one in about a minute. It's was too easy, but he enjoyed it all the same. There was some subtle humor, which I appreciated, but overall the dialog was fairly simple.

3 Stars

What have your kids been reading?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Kid Lit: Sam Sorts

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Sam Sorts by Marthe Jocelyn

To be published on February 14, 2017.

Goodreads Summary:
Marthe Jocelyn is back with another clever concept book to follow Hannah's Collections, Ones and Twos and Where Do You Look? This time, she tackles counting and categories. 

Sam's things are in a heap. Time to tidy up! He starts to organize his things, but quickly runs into trouble. He can make a pile of black and white things. But the penguin also belongs in the things with wings pile. He can make a pile of rocks. But the round rock also belongs in the round things pile. How will he ever sort his 100 things? Marthe Jocelyn takes a fun look at categories and counting in this very cleverly conceived story. Kids will delight in the cut-paper images of everything from a zipper pull to a robot, and Sam's surprising solution makes for a tidy end to this unique story.

My Thoughts:
I love this book! It would have been perfect for me when Christopher was younger. In this story Sam is trying to clean up his room, but he keeps getting distracted by counting and sorting all of his toys. He sorts by color, by shape, by pairs, by material, by feel, etc. There is so much to teach children with this book. And there is even a venn diagram. It is so much fun!

This book is a perfect read aloud for children ages 3-5. But be careful, this is a not a quick read. You could easily spend 30 minutes looking at the items in this book, discussing and categorizing them with your child. There is a lot of re-readability with this book.

My Rating: 4 Stars

I'm linking up with Booking Mama today for Kid Konnection. Every Saturday Julie hosts this link up for all things relating to children's books.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kid Lit Blog Hop: Count Your Chickens

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Count Your Chickens by Jo Ellen Bogart

To be published on February 7, 2017.

Goodreads Summary:
For fans of Richard Scarry, a cute-as-a-button picture book featuring dozens of chickens as they set out for the county fair!

Chickens, chickens everywhere -- going to the county fair! Follow a family of chickens as they prepare for their big outing. You'll see chickens wondering what to wear, baking pies, painting their toes and knitting socks. A stroll through town reveals that everyone else is excited for the festivities too. There are so many sights to see! Over there we see racers sprinting to the finish line. Over here, farmers showing off their best crops. Clowns, entertainers and musicians take the stage. And don't forget the rides: the Ferris wheel, super slide and merry-go-round. Grab some cotton candy and popcorn, because this very silly book will entertain and challenge young readers with searching and counting elements. 

My Thoughts:
This book is an impressive rhyming tale about tons of chickens going to the county fair. The illustrations are adorable, and the chickens are truly doing everything in this fictional world. My favorite part is that at the back of the book there are questions for each page, so you can flip back and count how many chickens are knitting or are dressed as clowns, etc.

Perfect for children ages 3-6, this book is one that would be fun to read over and over again. There is so much going on on each page, the reader is very likely to find new details with each read. And you could easily make up your own questions - for counting or whatever else you're inclined to ask your children while reading.

My Rating: 4 Stars

I'm linking up with Reading Authors today for Kid Lit Blog Hop.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Book Review: Wolfie and Fly (Chapter Book)

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Wolfie & Fly by Cary Fagan

Published on January 10, 2017.

Goodreads Summary:
A classic story of imagination, friendship, adventure and speeding through the ocean in a cardboard box. For fans of Ivy & Bean, Judy Moody or Nate the Great

Wolfie and Fly is an early chapter book at its simplest and best. Our heroine, Renata Wolfman (Wolfie) does everything by herself. Friends just get in the way, and she only has time for facts and reading. But friendship finds her in the form of Livingston Flott (Fly), the slightly weird and wordy boy from next door. Before she knows it, Wolfie is motoring through deep water with Fly as her second in command in a submarine made from a cardboard box. 

Out on a solo swim to retrieve a baseball vital to the mission, Wolfie is finally by herself again, but for the first time, she finds it a little lonely. Maybe there is something to this friend thing...

My Thoughts:
This book is a really cute chapter book, the first in a new series. Renata Wolfman (Wolfie) is happy without friends. She loves being alone and reading about life in the ocean. She doesn't know how to play pretend. She's very logical. When she's forced to play with Livingston Flott (Fly) from next door, they create an excellent submarine out of a refrigerator box. Fly teaches Wolfie how to play pretend, but they're in for a surprise when they take the submarine on its maiden voyage. Somehow they're in the real ocean!

With short chapters and great adventure, this book is a perfect read for children ages 5-8 who enjoy contemporary or fantasy stories - it's kind of a mix of both. It's a great story for boys and girls. Wolfie is a little sassy to her parents in the beginning of the book, but otherwise it's just pure fun. A great friendship story and a great beginning to a fun new series.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Great Reads from December 2016

I am still behind on writing reviews, but here are some of the 4- and 5-star books I've read recently. Click on the book title to open my full review from Opinionated Book Lover.

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Ruth, a nurse, begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

This book was hard to read but SO good. Such an important read.

4 Stars

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Just out of the orphanage, Solara Brooks needs a fresh start. She's so desperate to reach the outer realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback. He and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest.

This book was a great hard-turned-love romance with fun squad goals. It reminded me of Firefly.

4 Stars

The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen

From the outside, Sycamore Glen, North Carolina, might look like the perfect all-American neighborhood. But behind the white picket fences lies a web of secrets that reach from house to house.

I don't normally like character-driven novels, but there were so many great characters in this book, and the suspense of finding out all of the secrets made this book one that I couldn't put down.

4 Stars

What Light by Jay Asher

Sierra's family runs a Christmas tree farm in Oregon. Every year, they pack up and move to California to set up their Christmas tree lot. Sierra lives two lives. And leaving one always means missing the other. Until this particular Christmas, when Sierra meets Caleb, and one life eclipses the other.

This holiday romance is super cute. It was full of great characters and just the right amount of Christmas cheer.

4 Stars

Today's post will be linked up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for her Quick Lit series.

Have you read any great books recently?

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Kid Lit: Little Blue Chair

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Little Blue Chair by Cary Fagan

To be published on January 24, 2017.

Goodreads Summary:
A sweet, whimsical tale that chronicles the journey of a chair as it changes hands and uses. Perfect for fans of The Good Little Book, Something for Nothing and Virginia Lee Burton's The Little House.

Boo's favorite chair is little and blue. He sits in it, reads in it and makes a tent around it...until the day he grows too big for it. His mother puts the little blue chair out on the lawn where a truck driver picks it up. The truck driver sells it to a lady in a junk store where it sits for many years until it's sold and put to use as a plant stand. In the years that follow, the little blue chair is used in many other ways -- on an elephant ride, in a contest, on a Ferris wheel, in a tree...until the day it flies away, borne aloft by balloons, and lands in a garden of daffodils where a familiar face finds it. 
A charming, beautifully illustrated read-aloud that follows the adventures of a little chair, beginning as the seat of a small child who loves books and circling back to that child's child many years (and bottoms) later." 

My Thoughts:
This book is super cute. A little boy named Boo has a little blue chair. It's his favorite. He sits in it all the time, until he outgrows the chair. Then his mother puts at on the side of the road with a sign, and someone comes along and takes it. Thus begins the chair's life. The book follows the chair across the world from owner to owner. All of the owners think the chair is perfect for their intended purpose. The chair does its job well over and over again, until it finally comes home to Boo.

The illustrations in this book are very vintage looking. It's a sweet story and very clever. I enjoyed seeing all of the potential uses for the chair. It is an especially great story for me as we have a little chair that came from my husband's family's old church's grade school. It too has had many uses throughout its life.

Ages 4-8

My Rating: 4 Stars

I'm linking up with Booking Mama today for Kid Konnection. Every Saturday Julie hosts this link up for all things relating to children's books.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Reading Parties - a parenting dream come true

When my twin sister and I were about 12 years old, we used to have "Reading Parties" with our mother in my parents' king size bed. Each of us would read our own book quietly, but we'd all be together. Since having Christopher I realized that this was my mother's way of getting her own reading time in, and I have been looking forward to that the time when Christopher would be old enough for us to have our own reading party.

Guess what? That time is here!

On 12/22 Christopher and I had our very first reading party. We had been talking on the way home from wrestling practice about when we could buy some Junie B. Jones books. I told him when he finished a whole Junie B. book, then we could go to the book store and buy a couple to keep. He had borrowed Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus from the school library that day.

When we got home, he took his shower quickly, and then we got comfy in my bed. He read 4 chapters of Junie B. while I read Heartless. It was wonderful!

He finished the book by the end of the next week, so we went to Barnes and Noble last weekend, and he picked out 3 Junie B. books to keep. I see plenty more reading parties in our future!

Have you ever had a reading party?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Kid Lit: My Name is Zedonk

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

My Name is Zedonk by Jia Han

Published on January 10, 2017.

Goodreads Summary:
In the 2010 Census, almost 10 million Americans identified as multiracial. As our population grows, more and more families will be made up of people who may not look just like one another. 

My Name is Zedonk is a charming children's book celebrating diverse and multiracial families or just a little story about a zedonk, read into it what you wish. Originally published in Korea, the story is for ages 3 to 8 and illustrated with full color, mixed media drawings that will resonate across ages, races, and genders. This story captures love, acceptance, and the mystery and magic of family. 

"My mama is a donkey, 
my papa is a zebra, 
and I am a zedonk.
Each of us is a bit different and 
we are all happy together. "

My Thoughts:
This book is so sweet. It's the story of a zebra and a donkey who fell in love. While zebras and donkeys don't usually live together, they decided they didn't care. They were in love and that is what mattered. The story is told by their child, Zedonk (a zedonk - "ze" from zebra and "donk" from donkey). 

The text of this story is pretty simplistic, but the message is huge. Differences don't have to mean that people cannot love each other. Different people can be happy together. 

The illustrations in this book are perfect. They look like watercolors or perhaps even crayon. They're very childlike, but also professional looking. Some pages just have stripes or yarn - small elements that add to the story. I very much enjoyed this book.

Ages 3-6

My Rating: 4 stars

Monday, January 9, 2017

Book Review: Word of Mouse (MG)

I received this book for free from the publisher at BEA 2016. That fact in no way influenced my opinion of the book or the content of this review.

Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

Published on December 12, 2016.

Goodreads Summary:
James Patterson's newest illustrated middle grade story follows the illuminating journey of a very special mouse, and the unexpected friendships that he makes along the way. 

What makes Isaiah so unique? First, his fur is as blue as the sky--which until recently was something he'd never seen, but had read all about. That's right--Isaiah can read, and write. He can also talk to humans...if any of them are willing to listen! After a dramatic escape from a mysterious laboratory, Isaiah is separated from his "mischief" (which is the word for a mouse family), and has to use his special skills to survive in the dangerous outdoors, and hopefully find his missing family. But in a world of cruel cats, hungry owls, and terrified people, it's hard for a young, lone mouse to make it alone. When he meets an equally unusual and lonely human girl named Hailey, the two soon learn that true friendship can transcend all barriers.

My Review:
This book is really fun. Isaiah is a blue mouse who has always dreamed of having a grand adventure, like the ones he's read about in books. He escapes from a test lab and is determined to rescue his 96 brothers and sisters. After finding a couple of good friends, one of them a human girl named Hailey, he manages to achieve his goal.

Written in short chapters, this book is told in Isaiah's voice with a lot of humor. Patterson has done an excellent job of imagining life as a mouse. Sure Isaiah has some advantages - he's super smart, he can read, and he can type to communicate with Hailey. There are plenty of villains - a hawk, a hairless cat, and the scientists.

The illustrations by Joe Sutphin are such a wonderful addition to this story. Each pen and ink drawing was more adorable than the last. He perfectly captured the characters and situations from the story. 

I cannot wait to read this book aloud with my son. It's a perfect read for kids ages 7-11.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Juvenile Pile: Dinosaurs, Time Travel, Animals, and Pirates

We've finally emerged from the Cybils book stack, and we're reading other books together in our house. Here are some of our more recent reads.

Dinosaur Numbers by Paul Strickland

There was a display of dinosaur books at the library last month, so needless to say, we ended up coming home with several dinosaur books. This book is a simple counting book with a dinosaur theme and decent rhyming. Christopher read it to me in only 1 minute, so it was a little too easy for him, but it's cute.

3 stars

The Really, Really, Really Big Dinosaur by Richard Byrne

This book is really fun. Jackson the dinosaur is counting out jelly beans to split between himself and his friend when a bigger dinosaur comes along threatening to take them all. Jackson isn't scared because his friend is the biggest dinosaur around. The bigger dinosaur doesn't believe him, and the reader can't see the friend right away. The text is written in varying font sizes for emphasis, so this made a great independent read for my 6 year-old. The ending was a surprise for him. I guessed it early on.

4 Stars

Frankie vs. the Knight's Nasties (Frankie's Magic Soccer Ball #5) by Frank Lampard

Christopher picked this book out from his school's Scholastic Book Fair. It's 3rd grade reading level, so it's a little above him, but he did a great job reading it. The story reminded me a little of The Magic Tree House. Frankie and his friends travel back in time thanks to a magic soccer ball. In this book they visit the Middle Ages and have a run in with some knights over a castle ownership dispute. The vocabulary is very diverse, which was a pleasant surprise, and the story is really fun.

4 Stars

Animals Around the House by Elisabeth de Lambilly

Christopher borrowed this book from the school library. I was happy he finally picked something out that he could actually read on his own. It's a cute non-fiction book featuring many of the animals that people keep as pets. The photos were really cute, and there were only 3 sentences or so about each animal. It was a good read. It took him about 6 minutes, so it was a little too easy, but it was a nice change after some of the chapter books which have taken him weeks.

3 Stars

Pirate Attack! by Deborah Lock

This book was another school library loan. It's labeled as a Level 1 book, but it's a little hard for early readers in my opinion. Christopher was expecting a huge pirate fight, given the name of the book. Instead it was more of a tutorial about pirate ships. A galley boy, Jim, shows the reader around the ship and introduces you to the crew as if you're a new recruit. The battle only lasts one page. That was disappointing. It does teach some pirate vocabulary. It was a decent read, but not great.

3 Stars
Who Would Win? Whale vs. Giant Squid by Jerry Pallotta

I love this series so much! It makes reading non-fiction so much fun. This book teaches about the sperm whale and the giant squid. After a few pages of facts on each animal, there is a fight to the death. Christopher and I always enjoy reading these books. We guess which animal will win, then marvel at the facts (brain size and length were the most interesting facts in this book), and then we hold our breath as we read about the fight. The final page is a comparison chart where we go back through the book to determine which animal wins in each category (speed, size, weapons, etc.).

4 Stars

Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

As much of a Mo Willems fan as I am, I'd never read this book until I borrowed it from the library recently. Christopher read this book to me. It's pretty simple text. A little girl and her father go to the laundromat, but then they leave without her Knuffle Bunny. Try as she might, she cannot communicate to her dad what is wrong. I loved that when they get home the mother immediately knows that Knuffle Bunny is missing. They race back to the laundromat to find it. It's cute, but not as good as his other work.

3 Stars

What has your family been reading this week?

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Month in Review: December 2016

December went by quickly until the final week. We were consumed by Christmas as I'm sure everyone else in this country was. We crammed in some fun seasonal activities and lots of time with family. It ended up being a pretty decent month. We had a good amount of snow, so it felt very festive.

- I finished 11 books (6 paper, 3 Kindle, 2 audio) - including 2 re-reads.
- I DNFed a bunch of books this month.
- For Cybils, in total I read 211 fiction picture books and 34 board books. Our round 1 panel narrowed the list down to 7 fiction picture finalists and 5 board book finalists.

- I didn't make it to the gym at all this month. We were busy on the weekends, and I was lazy.
- I eat Whole30 with 1 meal per week cheat except for the last week of the month. I was pretty lax for Christmas and New Years.
- I managed to maintain my weight from the end of November, which I thought was pretty good. I'm still down 13 pounds since starting Whole30.
- Jim bought me the Whole30 cookbook, so I've renewed interest in this style of eating for January.

- My work was closed the week between Christmas and New Years, so I had a very nice break.

- We participated in a Christmas cookie baking day at Jim's sister's house on the first Saturday in December. It was a fun new tradition. (And I didn't eat any of the cookies we brought home.)
- We spent Christmas weekend with Jim's family. His sister hosted on 12/23.

Claire, Christopher, and Sam

- We hosted on 12/24 and 12/25, but we managed to have some time alone just the 3 of us to open our presents under the tree on Christmas morning.

- Then we went to Philly to visit my sister and her family for 12/26 through 12/30. It was a VERY long trip. The kids fought a ton. They had a good time when we did activities, but playing at her house didn't go very well. We've decided to meet in neutral locations in the future.

Christopher and Andy

- Jim, Christopher, and I went to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in concert with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Basically they played the full score while the audience watched the movie. I thought they'd just show movie clips (without sound). It was a surprising and kind of hard to concentrate on their playing. But it was fun.
- We hosted a gingerbread house making party with a couple of friends. (And, yes, we did gingerbread house destruction on New Years Eve.)

- We went to see Moana twice. We loved it!
- We decorated Christmas cookies with some friends.

- Christopher and I went to see Sing. It was cute. Fun music.
- We hosted a New Years Eve party. We had a huge turn out. We had a sitter for the kids, and the grown ups played tons of board games. We all stayed up too late and had a great time.

- We got our house!

How was your December? Can you believe it's 2017?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Kid Lit: I'll Hug You More

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I'll Hug You More by Laura Duksta

Published on January 3, 2017.

Goodreads Summary:
I'll hug you as we swing together in the old oak tree
I'll hug you on a stormy night and keep you safe with me

Hugs can say a lot of things like "hello," "thank you," and "I'm sorry." But underneath it all, every hug says "I love you." Share I'll Hug You More with someone you care about and remind them that every hug is a special message of love!

My Thoughts:
This book is adorable! It's reversible, so it's really two books in one. Read one way it is the parent talking to the child, saying, "I love you," and sharing hugs all throughout the day. When read the other direction, it's the child talking to the parent, again saying, "I love you," and giving many hugs. The pages are filled with illustrations of animal parent-child pairs hugging while they do everyday activities: reading together, taking a bath, coming home from school, etc.

Perfect for children ages 3-5, this book would make the perfect read aloud for bedtime or any time really. It's so sweet and so true. I know as I parent I can't get enough of hugging my son.

My Rating: 4 Stars