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Showing posts from September, 2010

Book Review: Hoo Hoo's Song by Amanda Kleback

Hoo Hoo the Bear hears a song in his heart and follows it on a journey that ends on the shelf of a store. Here he sits and waits with other stuffed animals until he hears a woman singing the same song. He knows in his heart that he is meant to be with her, so he jumps right into her cart.

Hoo Hoo's Song by Amanda Kleback is a sweet story of the love and comfort a bear can bring to someone no matter how old they may be. It's a story that can be extended out to lessons on friendship and even adoption, as the scene with Mr. and Mrs. B. holding Hoo Hoo together is reminiscent of a couple with a child who has recently come into their lives.

I really enjoyed Hoo Hoo's Song, and my kids did too. It's available as an e-book or in paperback. You can visit the Hoo Hoo the Bear website to read more about the story and the author, and purchase a copy of the book. Kleback has also provided some puzzles, activities and lesson plans in the Bear Den on the site.

This review was written…

Book Review: The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey

I originally figured I'd wait until C asked to read the Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey before checking it out, but when I saw it on the Most Frequently Challenged Books, I thought it would be a great way to support Banned Books Week. We picked out the first book in the series, The Adventures of Captain Underpants. I opened it up and was ready for lots of bad behavior and potty mouth dialog. What I got was a big surprise.

This book wasn't nearly as bad as I had expected. As a matter of fact, I thought it was pretty funny. And C did too. The story is about two 4th grade boys, George and Harold, who are always getting into trouble at school. The principal can't stand them or the comic books they write. When he finally gets the evidence he needs to take the boys down, they resort to desperate measures to save themselves, and in the process turn their principal into their comic book superhero Captain Underpants!

Do the boys misbehave? Of course. Might C learn a trick …

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Good morning. I usually write this post on Sunday, but this week I'm actually here with coffee in hand writing this morning...quickly, since I need to work. Did you know it's Banned Books Week? Are you reading anything in support of frequently challenged books? I'm reading The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. I wanted to read something but didn't think I'd have time. Then I saw this short book on my library's Banned Books Week display and decided to pick it up. I enjoy going back to classics every once in a while.

Last week was a pretty busy week. I read Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten. This thriller was definitely a page turner! I also put up a review of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, which was as good as everyone said it was.

My Summer Reading Challenge came to an end, and I created my reading list for the Fall into Reading challenge hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days.

Finally, I wrote about some children's books that are on…

Book Review: Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten

Danielle's autistic son Max has always presented a bit of a challenge to his single mother, but they've always had a close relationship. Now that he's a teenager, things are getting more difficult. So she decides to bring him to the best pediatric psychiatric facility for evaluation and diagnosis. But instead of making things more clear, Max's admittance to Maitland seems to make things worse. Danielle doesn't believe the staff when they tell her about his behavior, and they think she's in denial. Then Max is found next to a murdered patient.

What follows is a thriller that leads Danielle on a path to save Max and prove his innocence, even though the evidence against him looks very bad. With Saving Max, Antoinette van Heugten has weaved a thrilling story that kept me turning the page to see if he really did it...at least once I got to the murder. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen until about a third of the way through the book, so I spent those first 100+ p…

Banned Books for Kids

Today is the start of Banned Books Week, so I thought I'd take some time to highlight a few of the children's books that have been challenged or banned throughout the years. The Harry Potter series tops the Top 100 Most Challenged/Banned Books from the past decade. According to an article on Yahoo News yesterday, "The series has been challenged for occultism, Satanism, violence, being anti-family and having religious viewpoint."

Another popular children's book series that appears on the list is Captain Underpants. According to that same article, "The books were said to contain offensive language, to be sexually explicit and to be anti-family." I actually took a trip to the library today to pick up The Adventures of Captain Underpants. I've never read this series but plan to read this first book in the series with C this week in support of Banned Books Week.

Earlier in the year, I read Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach to C. He seemed to li…

Book Review: Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Lily is the daughter of a farmer in a remote county of China in the 19th century. As she arrives at the tender age of six, she receives a visit from a diviner and then a matchmaker from another area of the county. It seems her feet, which are so important in this culture, have potential to be what people of this time consider perfect, so she is given the opportunity to be paired with a laotong, or "old same." In her lower status as a farmer's daughter, she would not normally have this opportunity, so she is naturally excited.

Lily and her laotong, Snow Flower, begin their relationship at this young age, and throughout Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See shows us how their lives intertwine and diverge over the years. This is more than just a story of friendship, though. What Lisa See presents is a clear picture of the culture of the time. The traditions explored in this book are both fascinating and disturbing; the chapter on footbinding is particularly painful. I l…

Fall into Reading 2010

When I started My Book Retreat almost a year ago, I did so mostly to keep track of my reading. This was prompted by a challenge hosted by Katrina at Callapidder Days. Well, the year has passed and once again I'm joining in Katrina's Fall into Reading challenge.

I love the simplicity of this challenge. All I have to do it put together a list of books I want to read during the Fall season (Sept 22 - Dec 20), and then read them! So, here is the list of books I am committing to finishing within the next three months:
Saving Max by Antoinette van HeugtenBobo’s Daughter by Bonnie BarnettLittle Bee by Chris CleaveBack to the Homeplace by William SmithThe Kitchen House by Kathleen GrissomWhen No One is Watching by Joe HayesEverything Changes by Jonathan TropperTales from a Spanish Village by Dr. Richard BarrettThe Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany BakerThe Christmas Gift by R. William BennettA Note from an Old Acquaintance by Bill WalkerI'm already reading Saving Max, bu…

Summer Reading Challenge: Finish Line

Today is the last day of summer, and with it comes the end of the Summer Reading Challenge. Thank you to everyone who participated in this, my first challenge. I hope it provided a little extra motivation to read this summer.

So how did you do? Did you get through the original list you put together back in June? Did you switch things around and pick up different books? Are you happy with the amount of reading you did this summer? I'd love to hear how you did, so link up below to your final blog post, or leave a comment and let me know. Also, what was your favorite book this summer?

I finished my list (and several other books as well) this summer. I am glad to report that I actually enjoyed the majority of the books I read. There weren't any big duds in my opinion. I would say my favorites were The Girls: A Novel by Lori Lansens, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson.

If you wrote reviews for the books you read for this challenge, be sure to add links…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I finally got back to some blogging this past week! I put up a review of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson. It was thrilling to finish the series, but also sad to have it end. Now I guess I need to look forward to seeing the movies, which I've heard are pretty good.

I also reviewed a great new children's book called Dinorific Poetry. This book is written by Michael Sgrignoli and illustrated by his young son. My kids and I have really enjoyed it.

I'm still looking for audio book suggestions, so if you've listened to a great book that lasted about 6-8 hours, please let me know! Right now, my top choice is On Writing by Stephen King. If you've listened to this one or read it, let me know what you thought!

I finished Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. I really enjoyed it and can see why so many people recommended it. It seems everyone who has read it has loved it. I'll put up my review later this week.

Currently Reading
I'm now…

Book Review: Dinorific Poetry by Michael Sgrignoli

We recently got the opportunity to read a new children's book called Dinorific Poetry: Stories of ancient animals created by a father and son. This book is the work of Michael Sgrignoli, who wrote all of the poems, and his son, Ethan, who, at age 7, illustrated the book. Originally meant to be a family keepsake, Dinorific Poetry has now been published so we can all enjoy it.

I read the book with C first, and I wish I had been able to record his look of awe when he saw the illustrations. He was so fascinated by the fact that we were reading a book with illustrations that look like things he can draw himself. He thought it was "cool" that a kid who is only a bit older than him is the illustrator of a book. M loved looking at the pictures of dinosaurs and matching them to her little plastic dinosaurs.

The poems are wonderful and fun. I think C's favorite is "Do You Suppose?" in which several different types of dinosaurs play instruments and sing in a band the…

Book Blogger Hop

It's time for another Book Blogger Hop! This is a great event hosted by Crazy for Books and designed to connect book bloggers. This week's question is:

In honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, let's take time this week to honor our favorite book bloggers and why we love them!
I haven't participated in the BBAW this week. I just didn't get things organized in time for it. I've been enjoying reading all the posts on the blogs I read though. Which gets me to the question, which I'm not sure I can answer. I started looking through my reader this morning, trying to pick out a few book blogs that I read regularly. But the thing is, I read reviews and other posts on many different book blogs every day. As I started making a list of the blogs that focus on genres that I really enjoy, I got up to 30 and there were still many more to look through.

So please take a look at my blogroll on the right, and visit some of the blogs featured there. I really do find mysel…

Audio Book Recommendations Needed!

I'm going on a road trip next month to meet up with some friends of mine. I'm really looking forward to getting away and spending time with my friends. But I'm also looking forward to spending about 7-8 hours round-trip in the car...by myself!! I'm hardly ever alone in my car so this is very exciting.

I'm finally going to listen to an audio book. But, I can't decide which book to choose. I am limited by what's offered at my library, which isn't bad. They actually have a lot of choices. I am thinking I'd like to get a memoir that's no more than 8 hours long because I don't know when I'd be able to finish it if I don't listen to the whole thing on my trip.

Here are a few I see on my library's list that sound interesting:
The Woman Who Can't Forget by Jill PriceBorn on a Blue Day by Daniel TammetOn Writing, A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen KingRunning with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs (this one is 9 hours, though)So, what do yo…

Fun Stuff: Book Title Meme

I saw this Book Title Meme on Great Books for Kids and Teens. It's hosted by The Little Bookworm, and I thought it would be fun to participate.

What To Do: Using only books you have read this year (2010), answer these questions. Try not to repeat a book title. It’s a lot harder than you think!

Describe yourself: First Daughter

How do you feel: Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea

Describe where you currently live: The Middle Place

If you could go anywhere, where would you go? City of Dreams

Your favorite form of transportation: A Wrinkle in Time

Your best friend is: Same Kind of Different As Me

You and your friends are: The Stepford Wives

What’s the weather like: A Hundred Feet Over Hell

You fear: Crossing the Bridge

What is the best advice you have to give: Skinny is Overrated

Thought for the day: What Difference Do It Make?

How I would like to die: One Foot in Eden

My soul’s present condition: The Long Wait for Tomorrow

Book Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

In the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Stieg Larsson picks up right where he left off in The Girl Who Played with Fire. Of course, since many of my readers haven't even read the first two books in the Millennium trilogy, I don't want to say too much about the plot. I do have to say something, though, so if you don't want to know, skip down to the next paragraph! Salander spends a lot of time in the hospital at the beginning of this book, both recovering and trying to decide on her next move. Meanwhile, Blomkvist, Armansky and their teams are working on uncovering the truth behind the secret government agency that's been wreaking havoc with Salander's life.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest provided a very satisfying ending to this trilogy. I would say this was my favorite of the three books, although The Girl Who Played with Fire is right up there with it. To me, they got better as they went along. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoowas great, but it was…

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I had a good week of reading, but did not do much blogging at all. I hope to get to more writing this week, as I have a few reviews to do. Oh, and by the way, if you're looking for my recap from last week, I accidentally deleted it. Whoops! Good thing I didn't do that until right before publishing this week's recap!

I finally finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson. I loved it! I just need to take a few minutes to write my review, so keep an eye out for it this week.

I also reviewed some children's books my kids have been enjoying this week. You can read about those in my What My Children Are Reading post.

Currently Reading
I'm now reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See...finally! It's the last book on my Summer Reading Challenge list, so I it looks like I'll finish up that challenge just in time!

Up Next
The next two books on my list are Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten, and Bobo's Daughter by Bonnie Barnett.

What My Children Are Reading This Week

We've been reading a variety of books this week. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett has been a very popular book with M this week. I'm not sure why, since it's been on our shelf for a long time. But she has wanted us to read it to her every single day this week. I'm sure you already know the story ~ it's about a town where all the food comes from the sky. I like the premise of the book: a grandfather telling his grandchildren a "tall tale" about the town of Chewandswallow. It's a fun book to read and so far I haven't gotten sick of it even though I've read it several times this week.

The other book M has been wanting to read a lot is from the library: Biscuit and the Baby by Alyssa Satin Capucilli. I think this is the second Biscuit book we've read and she really loves that puppy! This one is about Biscuit wanting to meet the new baby of the house, but it's not the right time yet. It's a very cute story, although I do…

Book Blogger Hop and My Favorite Review

It's time for another Friday Book Blogger Hop! This is a great event hosted by Crazy for Books and designed to connect book bloggers. This week's "question" is:

Post a link to a favorite post or book review that you have written in the past three months.
I think one of my favorite reviews that I've written recently is of The Girls: A Novel by Lori Lansens. I enjoyed the book, and I feel like I was able to clearly articulate my feelings about it in that review. I hope you check it out! What about you? What's your favorite post or book review you've written recently? Be sure to leave a link so I can check it out!

By the way, I've decided to join Twitter finally, so if you're interested in following me there, look for @MyBookRetreat or click on the button over on the right!

What My Children Are Reading This Week

This week, I wanted to share a book series that C has been enjoying, which I think is perfect for young elementary aged boys. It's the Lionel series by Stephen Krensky. These are all Puffin Easy-to-Read Level 3 books ~ level 3 is described as Ages 6-9 and Grades 1-3 on the back of the books.

Each of the books features four chapters. Sometimes two of the chapters will go together, and other times all four are separate stories around the general book theme. For example, in Lionel in the Fall, Lionel spends the first two chapters dealing with the first day of first grade, then the last two chapters are about Fall and Halloween.

I like that the stories are about a regular little boy who C can relate to. This is the first early reader series that he's really enjoyed and I think it's because Lionel is dealing with a lot of the same situations that he is dealing with in his own life. In Lionel and His Friends, there are four different stories about Lionel and his relationship with…