Monday, August 31, 2009

Bacon Sandwiches & Salvation (Christian Non-Fiction review)

Sometimes us Christians just need a good laugh at ourselves and Adrian Plass has created a truly hilarious guide (A-Z of course) to all things Christian in Bacon Sandwiches & Salvation: A humorous Antidote for the Pharisee in All of Us.

Publisher's description:

"With the comfortable knowledge of a church insider and the leery insight of a seeker, Plass shines a sometimes sarcastic, often times profound, and all the time witty light on the Christian experience. With thoughts on everything from the afterlife (“a place where God will chew a straw and fill us in on how things really are.”) to Zacchaeus (“… [he] looked like Danny DeVito in a dish towel”), Bacon Sandwiches & Salvation is a raucous glossary of biblical characters, church catch phrases and pop-Christian personalities. The inspiration for Bacon Sandwiches & Salvation came from a situation Plass shared with a dear friend in church one day. When asked what the most important thing in the world was, both Plass and his friend responded very differently. “Salvation!” cried Plass. “Bacon sandwiches!” suggested his friend. Writes Plass, “That just about sums it up. A God who can create the indescribable tastiness of a bacon sandwich must be planning something pretty incredible in the salvation line.” Somewhere within the pages of this quirky little guide one begins to find just such a God."

Written in the form of a dictionary, I really did find myself laughing out loud at some of the entries, chuckling quietly at most of the others. My favorite entry was the following:

End times: (1) an obsession on the part of those wild-eyed characters who, despite Jesus' clear statements that not even he knows when final judgment will come, continue to insist that the world will definitely end next Monday at exactly three twenty-seven in the afternoon, but refuse to give you any of their things, even though they obviously won't be needing them anymore after the weekend; (2) hairdressing and podiatry appointments." (47)

Sometimes God's way of working is a bit quirky, as is this book. It's funny, a good choice to have sitting on the coffee table during a dinner party, but definitely not something I, as a Christian would take seriously. And not a title I would hand someone I was helping find Christ or was new to the faith. Just a bit of fun for the believers!

Bacon Sandwiches & Salvation
Adrian Plass
240 pages
Christian Non-Fiction
October 2008

Library Loot, week 4

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

The holds just keep on pouring in this month! I really should cancel a lot of them, I have so many review books to read, but really, sometimes it's just nice to have a library book in hand.

Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix, one of my favorite middle grade authors. I've been on the list for this one for awhile and I was first to get it when it was finally published.

Immortal by Gillian Shields

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko, LOVED the first one, couldn't wait for this one to come out.

Diary of Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney...working my way through these.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman...been hearing lots of buzz about this one, figured I would give it a shot.

Robin Rescues Dinner by Robin Miller...what can I say? I like to cook. :)

What did YOU get this week?

Non-Fiction Monday: Faith

I think coming up with a children's book that appropriately explains and expresses the meaning of faith to people all around the world is probably an incredibly difficult task. I found in Faith, by Maya Ajmera, Magda Nakassis, and Cynthia Pon, the best example (I've seen anyways) of a truly well done work on this topic, for the younger age set.

Through brilliant photographs of faith practices of dozens of cultures in many different countries around the world, the reader is able to see that no matter what the belief system or the book being followed, children and their families all pray, chant or sing, read holy books, cleanse, visit holy places, observe holidays, etc. And most of all, they hope. Whether Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, or any other religion, faith bases itself on hope.

Included in the back of the book is a map featuring each country that had a part in the book, as well as further explanation into the basic elements of faith around the world. A "Words to Know" section is also included.

This resource would great for so many different types of teaching. Starting with the youngest of children, they are able to look at the real photographs of different children around the world, with their different types of clothing, foods, skin colors, etc. and see the beauty in being different. As children grow older, Faith can be incorporated into social studies units on different cultures, geography units, and a basic tool for beginning the explanation of different religions.

Part of the proceeds of the book will be donated to The Global Fund for Children to purrport innovative community-based organizations that serve the world's most vulnerable children and youth.

To learn more about this title, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Thank you to Charlesbridge for the review copy :)

Maya Ajmera, Magda Nakassis, Cynthia Pon
48 pages
Charlesbridge Publishing
February 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Winner, winner!

The winner of the set of Sleeping Bear Press titles, K is for Kabuki, Full Count, and V is for Venus Fly Trap is....


Congrats, MJ! Please email me your snail mail address ASAP and I'll get these books out to you, hopefully before I leave for vacation Friday morning. If I don't hear from you by Thursday, I'll have to draw another winner.

Thanks again to everyone that entered!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Picture Book Saturday

Fun choices for you this week!

Goldilocks and the Three Bears, retold by Lauren Child, is just one of those books that all book lovers need to have on their shelves. Child gives us the the age-old story of Goldilocks, with her own imaginative words, in a very cool format.

Emily L. Jenkins lends a hand to set creation and Polly Borland did the beautiful and fun photographs that accompany the text. I'm not sure I'll ever see Goldilocks the same way, but Lauren Child made the little girl into such a fun character! She's the same curious girl that just wants to try out porridge, chairs, and beds of strangers, but the photographs and dialogue turned her into a quirky, cute, and imaginative character.

Includes a cool section on how the photography was done, the building of the sets, etc. A nice behind-the-scenes look.

Lauren Child can't do much wrong in my eyes!

Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Lauren Child
32 pages
Picture Book
August 2009

Piglet and Granny, written by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Stephen Michael King, is a very sweet story about the relationship between a little pig and her beloved Granny.

Piglet loves when Granny comes to visit and she's always right on time. This day, however, Piglet has been waiting for a very long time for Granny to show up! While Piglet waits she shows Cow, Duck, Sheep, and Horse exactly what she loves so much about her Granny. And when Granny does finally make it, there is a special surprise in store for Piglet!

A very sweet book that exhibits the love between Grandmas and grandchildren (or pigs in this case). The illustrations were a nice compliment to the soft, flowing story. Wild is also the author of Piglet and Mama and Piglet and Papa. Equally cute I'm sure!

Piglet and Granny
Margaret Wild
32 pages
Picture Book
September 2009

Finally, Melanie Watt, author of the very funny Scaredy Squirrel books, has a new stand alone title out, Have I Got a Book for You! If you've ever watched an infomericial and laughed at the salesman, this book will remind you exactly of that!

Al Foxword is an incredibly persistent and successful salesman. He has lots of happy customers to prove his success, but now he's trying to sell YOU a #1 bestseller. He tries every trick in the book and his slick, cunning last resort leaves the reader unable to refuse to buy what he's selling!

The illustrations, also done by the author, are a perfect fit with the story. Al's facial expressions are similar to that of Piggie's in Mo Willems "Elephant and Piggie" series, always mischeivous!

A very cute, VERY funny book to read aloud at storytime or just with the family. This one is begging to be read aloud in your best car salesman voice!

Have I Got a Book for You!
Melanie Watts
32 pages
Picture Book
Kids Can Press
August 2009

Thank you to Hyperion, Abrams, and Kids Can Press for review copies :)
To learn more about any title, click on the book cover to link to Amazon.

Friday, August 28, 2009

August Mini-Reviews, I've got 4 for ya!

So I do these mini-reviews at the end of every month for a couple of reasons. First, I read too many books across all sorts of genres to give proper, lengthy reviews of every single title. Second, sometimes I'm just not feeling good or bad about a book and don't have a whole lot to say on it. I didn't love it, I didn't hate it. And third, there may be lots of buzz about a book out there right now or there was when it was first published and the last thing you all need is another plot recap. I save my regular day-to-day reviews for books that I have a lot to say about or are new to the shelves.

With this I give you a short explanation of how I felt about the characters, plot, writing, etc. Having properly explained myself, here we go!

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, written by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows was absolutely delightful! The entire concept of the novel was incredibly unique, filled with excellent characters, and charming wit in the writing. Juliet is hilarious and had me chuckling on almost every page.

I can certainly see why this book has become so popular over the past year and is now such a staple in book clubs. I'll probably be giving this as a gift to several women in my life this holiday season.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
304 pages
Adult Fiction
Dial Press
May 2009 (paperback)

When You Reach Me, written by Rebecca Stead, seems to be the "it" book of the moment and I'm always wary of picking that book up and disliking it. No worries this time, I was as charmed as all of you! Great writing, great mystery and intrigue, and a lovable main character. I even really enjoyed the time period being set in the late 70's, though not a typical "favorite" of mine.

In both books I've read of Stead's, I've ended up overly impressed and wanting to tell everyone about the book. I can see the love for this latest one and hope teens and middle schoolers will be encouraged to pick it up and surround themselves with Miranda and her friends.

When You Reach Me
Rebecca Stead
208 pages
Young Adult
Wendy Lamb
July 2009

Julie & Julia, written by Julie Powell was a bit disappointing. I had read that the movie was better than the book, so I (of course) had to run out and get the book first to prove those people wrong. Well, the book was much longer than it needed to be and more than a tad boring in parts. Powell's memoir was definitely unique and funny, but focused more on her being an irritating wife than on cooking and her challenge.

More food would have been great and more on Julia Child would have been nice too. Haven't seen the movie yet, but it looks funny, making me think those other bloggers were right about it being better. Oh well.

Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously
Julie Powell
400 pages
Adult Memoir
Little, Brown
July 2009 (paperback)

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, written by Barry Lyga, was wonderful! I could see the characters in my head, just the way Lyga described them and realized that I could pick out, in my own high school, who Kyra and Donnie would be. They were true-to-life characters, written incredibly well, with great dialogue.

I would definitely hand this one to my reluctant readers. Easy to read, with an enjoyable plot and fabulous characters...can't wait to open the sequel, which comes out in October.

The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl
Barry Lyga
320 pages
Young Adult
September 2007

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm in the minority on these two...

I just didn't love them. All the other reviews I've seen on both these YA novels have been, for the most part, glowing. Bloggers everywhere are loving Shiver and really liking The Lost Summer, but for me, "eh" on both. I didn't really care for either main character and the ending of one of them had me wanting to scream: "You did NOT just do that." Sigh. Oh well. I'm not big on writing negative reviews, but I do want to honestly share my thoughts on what I'm reading. And we go.

Shiver, written by Maggie Stiefvater, gives us the story of Grace and Sam, two teens caught between the human world (Grace) and the werewolf world (Sam). Grace has been intrigued by the wolves since she was attacked as a young girl, always watching them in her backyard, though Sam was the one that always caught her eye. When she meets Sam in his human form for what may be the last time, they (of course) fall in love amidst adversity and have to fight to keep Sam human or risk never being together again.

Shiver has a beautifully unique cover that really caught my attention. I love the colors and the bright red dot of the "I," definitely intriguing and thought provoking. And the whole werewolf thing was interesting as well, being the hot topic of the moment and I think the author worked in a nice spin on the whole werewolf/human love affair and the idea of the cold being the cause of the change. That being said, Grace drove me crazy. She was so nonchalant about the entire process. Oh, Sam's a werewolf? Well, ok, no big deal. Oh, and I might be a werewolf too? Well, ok, no big deal. She just came off as gloomy and depressed and that irritated me.

Honestly, I was at the point by page 200 or so, that I just wanted to be done reading it. I, unfortunately, didn't really care what the ending had in store for the characters, but once I got there, did think the ending was done well and left room for the sequel I've heard is coming. Will I read it? Probably...I still like the whole werewolf concept, but I just hope for some better character development in the coming book.

The Lost Summer, written by Kathryn Williams, had a lot going for it until it got to the end. Then it turned into a bad soap opera...but more about that later.

Helena has been going to camp at Southpoint for years, feeling that it's the one place she feels most comfortable with herself and most at home. This year, however, she's going as a counselor for the first time and her best friend Katie Bell is still only a camper, changing the whole summer for both of them.

All of a sudden, Helena is hanging with the in-crowd of counselors and boys from the brother camp, leaving her camper ways behind and Katie Bell in the proverbial dust. When a tragic accident results in Helena almost being killed, she learns that growing up often means letting go of part of one's self, and for her, that means letting go of camp.


So...the camp part was good. A nice coming-of-age summer story, good for the teens to relate to. And then came the soap opera-esque ending where Helena is in a boating accident and suddenly knows that she can never return to camp. The accident came out of nowhere and to me, was completely unnecessary to convey the whole "growing up and moving on" thing. The boy she likes and her friends all come to be by her side in the hospital to convince her she doesn't have to let go of Southpoint, but in the end, she just must. Urgh. It was more than a bit annoying.

As I mentioned previously, lots of others have loved both these books. Maybe, in time, I'll go back and revisit them and see what I'm missing out on. For now, they were just ok for me.

Thank you to Scholastic and Disney-Hyperion for review copies :)

Maggie Stiefvater
400 pages
Young Adult
August 2009

The Lost Summer
Kathryn Williams
272 pages
Young Adult
July 2009

The Storm in the Barn (gn review)

I'm not one of those readers that often sits down and enjoys a good graphic novel. They just aren't books I'm typically drawn too, as I think I prefer more text to illustrations. Unless of course, the text AND the illustrations are done by Matt Phelan, famed illustrator of the Newbery winner The Higher Power of Lucky, among other things. I'm a huge fan of his work and when this beautifully covered book showed up in my mailbox, I knew it was one graphic novel I would be picking up quickly.

The Storm in the Barn gives the reader a thrilling historical fiction story, set in the Dust Bowl in 1937. Our main character is a young boy named Jack who is facing a tough, though somewhat typical life for a boy of his age. He has some bullies on his back and his dad is a bit overbearing with pretty high expectations that Jack can just never seem to meet.

In an old barn, Jack starts seeing things, well rather, a man with a face like rain. He knows it sounds crazy and starts to blame it on "dust dementia" and the lack of rain, believing he couldn't really be seeing a rain-faced being in the barn. As the story progresses, even the reader is somewhat unsure of what Jack is seeing. Could it really be a ghostly figure? Or is it a bit of craziness running rampant along with the terrible dust?

We are given a suspenseful and nicely written story that will pull you in from the beginning and keep you strung along, all the way to the end. The illustrations are done beautifully and really will be what makes this book stand out from other graphic novels.

A nice fictional account of what life what like during the Dust Bowl, a topic that has always interested me and could be used in conjunction with social studies units.

Thank you to Candlewick for the review copy :)

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

The Storm in the Barn
Matt Phelan
208 pages
Graphic Novel
September 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In the coming days....

expect a lot of posts from me. I have a ton of reviews to put out before the end of the month, so enjoy lots of recommendations and a few not-so-greats. :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

B is for Big Giveaway!!! Some new Sleeping Bear Press offerings...

Have you noticed my book-love for all of the amazing books put out by Sleeping Bear Press? I just love all the series books, especially the Discover the World series. Learning about different cultures at a young age is so important in encouraging diversity in our children. The alphabet series is always wonderful, and I'm just now starting to really get into the counting series as well. All are educational, great for multiple age levels, and the authors/illustrators always do a fabulous job.

Some of the latest in the different series?

K is for Kabuki: A Japan Alphabet, is written by the AMAZING Gloria Whelan and Jenny Nolan and illustrated by Oki S. Han and teaches us all about Japan, both past and present. We get "O is for Origami," "H is for Haiku," and "E is for Emperor," along with a poem for each topic and the fabulous fact box down the side of the page.

This one has a companion book in Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers, also written by Whelan, which I reviewed here...and a companion website

A new edition to the Alphabet series is V is for Venus Flytrap: A Plant Alphabet, which is written by Eugene Gagliano and illusrtated by Elizabeth Traynor and features really awesome facts and poems about plants...making a topic that is often boring, much more fun for kids to read about.

We learn about Legumes and why they are such great foods to eat, what the Royal Rose stands for in America, and Tubers, most famously, the potato. I really loved the information given in this one and the illustrations were beautiful.

Full Count: A Baseball Number Book, written by Brad Herzog and illustrated by Bruce Langton, takes a bit of a different approach, featuring numbers rather than letters, but works on the same format.

The reader learns about why it's "3 strikes and you're out," the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who were the first professional baseball team, and the number of players on each major league baseball team by today's standards. Very cool for young sport fans.

Being the generous blogger that I am (and the lack of shelf space in my house), I'm giving you my review copies! 1 hardcover copy of each book to one lucky reader!

Leave a comment on this post by 11:59pm EST on Saturday, August 29th saying you want to enter. Make sure, if you're not a blogger, you leave me an email address to contact you!

You can earn extra entries by blogging about the giveaway or Tweeting about it, just leave a separate comment for each entry please.

U.S. residents only...thanks!

The Oracles of Delphi Keep (mg review)

I'm a big fan of series books, whatever genre they may be a part of, because I'm one of those that doesn't like to let characters go once I've finished the book. I want to continue reading about their stories and in a stand alone novel, it's all over so quickly...and often sadly (for me). I've found children seem to enjoy getting involved in a series, excitement always building when the next one is coming out and that is truly a joy to see. This latest book I've picked up is the first in a new series, one that would make a nice choice for families to read aloud together.

Victoria Laurie is introducing us readers to a new series with the first book, The Oracles of Delphi Keep.Taking place at an orphanage on the rocky coast, filled with loving and kind women and men caring for children, the reader will be appreciative of the change of pace from dirty, dark, orphanages filled with mean employees.

Ian, a young boy at the orphanage, is placed in charge of a baby girl, brought one dark and stormy night under a cloud of fear and confusion. Fast forward a few years and Ian is still caring for Theodosia, the girl he considers his little sister, and when the children find a mysterious silver box in a cave, which sets off a prophecy spanning thousands of years, Will knows he's in a lot of trouble. Together, with some help of course, the children begin trying to solve the prophecy, stay alive, and protect their beloved orphanage in the process.

Lots of action, though I felt at times portions of the story were a bit long-winded making for a pretty chunky book. I thought the character development was done very nicely and the brother-sister relationship between Ian and Theo was very sweet. A nice choice for middle graders and a great introduction to a new series!

The Oracles of Delphi Keep
Victoria Laurie
560 pages
Young Adult
May 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Library Loot, week 3

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Only picked up 5 this week, 4 holds and 1 I went specifically for. I still have a bunch from last week and ended up taking a few back that weren't interesting me anymore. Even with that, I still have a huge pile...sigh.

A Dog's Life by Ann M. Martin ( I picked it up because I've been wanting to read it for FOUR years and now that the sequel is coming out I finally went out and got it)

Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (I've been sent a review copy of the sequel, haven't yet read this one)

Triskellion by Will Peterson (same as above...supposed to review book 2, haven't read book 1)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules by Jeff Kinney (yep, I'm a loser, have only read the first one of these)

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery ( had this one on hold for quite some time, anxious to get to it)

I want to know what YOU checked out this week!

Non-Fiction Monday: Where Else in the Wild?

Oooh... camouflaged animals!! Always a big topic hit with the kiddos at the library and this new one is filled with brilliant photographs, accompanied by cute poems and tons of facts about these unique animals and insects.

The text is done by David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy (the poems and the factual info) and the photographs were taken by Dwight Kuhn. We get a true taste for what it's like for predators of insects such as the orchid mantis, white bodied and shaped like an orchid leaf, allowing it to successfully hide on the orchid flower.

Other cool inclusions into the book include the snowshoe hare that blends into the white snow in the winter and his coat turns brown in the summer, the leaf insect looking just like the leaves it lives on, and the scorpion fish that blend into rocks. Neat!

Where Else in the Wild? blends poetry, search-and-finds, life-the-flaps, beautiful photos, and educational facts into one very nice book, great for library shelves. Poems are simple and short, fact sections concise and easy to understand. Could be combined with nature walks, searching for some of your own camouflaged animals in the wild.

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Thanks to Tricycle Press for the review copy!

Where Else in the Wild?
David M. Schwartz and Yael Schy
40 pages
Tricycle Press
September 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The School of Essential Ingredients review

I'm a self-proclaimed food addict. My husband and I are constantly trying to find new, off-the-beaten path restaurants, I have almost every nighttime Food Network show set to record on my DVR, subscribe to a bunch of food magazines, and am one of those that actually like to cook and attempt to produce edible recipes. And of course....I like to read about food in fiction.

Erica Bauermeister has created magic in The School of Essential Ingredients. Magic in the form of a cooking class, held at our main character, Lillian's restaurant. Lots of different types of people sign up for Lillian's class, characters like Claire, a young, overwhelmed mother, looking for a bit of an escape, Tom a handsome man mourning the loss of his wife, and Antonia, a kitchen designer looking to find herself in her work.

Each of the character's come to Lillian's for a reason and through the therapy of chopping, dicing, mixing, and cooking, they each find answers, though of course, not always the answers they're looking for. Some relationships are made and some are broken, all interwoven with amazing descriptions of the sights, sounds, tastes, and textures of the food. Food is most definitely center stage, even if at times it seems to be placed on the back burner (yep...totally meant to put that pun in there).

When I first picked up The School of Essential Ingredients, I knew I was going to enjoy it from page one. Bauermeister may never have published a novel before, but after reading the amazing writing she has managed to produce, the lovable, multi-demensional characters, and all that fabulous food description, she's definitely going to have a fan following, itching for another book.

I read this for the Fill in the Gaps, Project 100 challenge.

The School of Essential Ingredients
Erica Bauermeister
256 pages
Adult Fiction
Putnam Adult
January 2009

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Picture Book Satuday

Quite the menagerie of books for you all today! Enjoy!

My first choice of the week, Me and You, written by Genevieve Cote, is a super sweet story of friendship amongst a pig and rabbit.

Rabbit wants to be just like pig, with her pink body, tail curly as a lemon twist, and button nose. Pig wants to be just like Rabbit, with a cotton candy tail, tall toes, and pale white body. After using some creativity (involving paint, some clothes off the line, and a bit of mud) to attempt to look like the other, the both realize they look entirely silly as the other, and are much better being themselves and best friends!

Illustrations, also done by Cote, are absolutely beautiful and lend to that sweet, soft feeling the reader gets when the story is done. A nice choice for read alouds.

Thanks to Kids Can Press for a review copy :)

Me and You
Genevieve Cote
32 pages
Picture Book
Kids Can Press
August 2009

Orange Polar Bears Don't Cry, written by Bob Gammon and illustrated by W. Jones, is a bit similar to Me and You, in the sense that it's written about unconventional friendship.

In a land where all polar bears are white, there is one orange polar bear, of course, seen as somewhat of an outcast to the group. One white polar bear, smaller in size than all the others and also an outcast, befriends the bear of a different color, sticking by him no matter what the others say. Eventually the pair, staying friends no matter what the others say, are able to prove to their peers that friendship doesn't have anything to do with fur color or size.

A nice "lesson" book, good for use with children having trouble making friends. My one "complaint" about the book is the lack of interest in the illustrations. They seemed very bland, done maybe with colored pencils (which isn't necessarily a bad thing if it's done nicely), and the drawings seemed a little juvenile. I certainly don't want to insult the illustration, that may have been the whole idea, I just personally didn't like the illustrations. The story was nice though, very good for working on friendships and be nice to one another.

Thank you to author Bob Gammon, for a review copy :)

Orange Polar Bears Don't Cry
Bob Gammon
32 pages
Picture Book
Eloquent Books
October 2008

A great bedtime story always makes me happy and Bedtime in the Jungle, written and illustrated by John Butler is one of those. It fuses counting and a sleepy bedtime rhyme into one really cute story.

A different animal mother on each page spread, is getting her baby (or babies) ready for bedtime. Starting with one baby rhino and working up to ten baby elephants, children will be work on their counting, while enjoying the beautifully soft illustrations and the gentle rhyme of the text.

I really enjoyed that several of the animals were not conventional to children's stories, like the peahen putting her six babies to bed, the wild pig settling down her seven babies, and a wolf nestling her four babies. It was nice to have the additions to the typical tigers, monkeys, and ducks.

Again, a great bedtime story! Would make a nice baby shower gift too!

Thank to Peachtree for the review copy :)

Bedtime in the Jungle
John Butler
32 pages
Picture Book
Peachtree Publishers
September 2009

Finally (yep, we have 4 this week!), and it's a fabulous one! What happens when you combine newcomer Mac Barnett with amazing illustrator Adam Rex? Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem!

Billy Twitters has a mom that is constantly nagging him and if she doesn't get what she wants right away, she always threatens to buy him a big blue whale. Which, of course, will never happen right? Wrong. Billy gets the threatened big blue whale and has to bring him wherever he goes, including to school, and wash him and brush his gross baleen (see 15 for what baleen is). Guess he should have done his homework and eaten his baked peas!

The story is hilariously surreal, the illustrations are amazing (of course, it's Adam REX!), and the interjections of the small blue whale and other sea creatures every few pages to show "actual size" are great. Even the dedication is hilarious! And at one point, the whale has graffiti on his side...that page had me giggling for a few minutes straight. Very clever!

A great storytime read aloud, I'm highly recommending this one for school and library shelves!

Thank you to Disney-Hyperion for the review copy :)

Billy Twitters and His Big Blue Whale Problem
Mac Barnett
48 pages
Picture Book
June 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

Thanks for the noms!

Thank you to anyone who nominated my little ol' blog for an award! Book Blogger Appreciate Week is coming up and I was thrilled to find out I was nominated for not one, not two, but THREE categories!

Best KidLit Blog
Best Series/Feature for Picture Book Saturday
Best General Review Blog

Thank you all so much!

The Miles Between (YA review)

I, along with everyone else, loved The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I also had a teeny bit of fear for the author, putting out this novel following such a huge popularity rating of Jenna Fox. Not worried that the book wouldn't be good, but worried that it wouldn't be AS good as the previous one and she would end up getting flack for that. No worries any longer, I think I loved The Miles Between even more than I loved Jenna Fox! It's quirky, had me totally scratching my head a couple of times, chuckling when I wasn't head scratching, and is just a whole lot of good fun, mixed with what I have deemed "necessary drama."

Destiny Faraday only wants one thing from her life. A fair day. She has been dealt a pretty raw deal in life, having to move from boarding school to boarding school, because of parents that don't want to take care of her, never making close friends, and always sticking to a routine. After a meeting in the school garden with a mysterious stranger, Destiny finds a car at her disposal and along with three classmates, takes a very unconventional road trip.

What happens along the way is anything but unexpected. Sure, the teens get to know more about each other, but what they don't expect is that the fair day they each deserve is really taking place. This quirky road trip includes a lamb in the middle of the road, a meeting with the President of the United States in a bathroom, and unlimited money in the glove box. And what Destiny is finally is able to reveal to her newfound friends will be a surprise to everyone.

Ok, so I did figure out the ending of the book by about 1/2 way through, but so what? This was an awesome story with a unique plot and enough zany and crazy twists that "page turner" doesn't even begin to describe it. I loved it and am insisting you put it on your TBR list. Mary E. Pearson has made my list of favorite authors, for sure.

My one complaint? The cover. I was reading from an ARC (and we all know those are subject to change in lots of ways), but I really liked the cover. And now, the finished cover according to Amazon is kinda boring to me. It reminds me of the movie version of Holes. I really don't like the yellow bubble letters either, it makes it look somewhat childish. My own opinion is wishing they stuck with their original cover, which was strange and quirky, as the plot very much is. Anyways, the book is great, so the cover doesn't really matter right?

Thank you to Henry Holt for the review copy :)

To learn more about this one or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

The Miles Between
Mary E. Pearson
288 pages
Young Adult
Henry Holt
September 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New middle grade fiction

I just finished two new middle grade books, by two of my favorite authors, each just as good as I was hoping. Andrew Clements and Peggy Gifford are almost always crowd pleasers and both of these will appeal to your kiddos and yourself!

In Extra Credit, readers meet Abby and Saheed, two typical kids with families, schooling, friends, and hobbies, but they live across the world from each other. Abby lives in Illinois and Saheed lives in Afghanistan. When an extra credit project brings the two kids together as pen pals, each has the ability to learn more about the other's culture, country, and families, and share in a bit of a secret as well.

Written by Andrew Clements, this one takes current events and realistic characters and blends them together in an entertaining novel. Boys will like this just as much as girls, which is one of my favorite things about Clements and his manner of producing novels. He is a go-to author for parents looking for realistic fiction for their boys and girls.

If you haven't yet picked up a Moxy Maxwell book, go do so now! These are just such fun books and author Peggy Gifford makes each one funny (or funnier) than the last. We're now on the third book featuring the lively and precocious, Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Practicing the Piano (But She Does Love Being in Recitals). Ah Moxy.

In this hilarious edition to the series, Moxy wants to do every BUT practice for her piano recital. She wants to make fur trim for the cape she's going to wear, try on her crown, practice singing just in case someone decides they want her to sing to really wow the crowd, you know, the usual. She gets into lots of trouble, has a starnge incident with dots on her sister's face, and of course, involves her best friend, Max, in all the antics.

Middle grade readers will really love Moxy, if they haven't met her all ready. She's fun, innocent in the way that she really doesn't know what she's doing is wacky, and so, so funny! If I've learned anything from these books, it's to never give children scissors!

Both of these books are great for that transitional stage between young readers and the middle grade reading level. Though they are chapter books, the content is perfect for younger kids reading above their age level. Nice choices for family or classroom ongoing read alouds.

To learn more or to purchase either book, click on the book covers above to link to Amazon.

Extra Credit
Andrew Clements
192 pages
Middle Grade
June 2009

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Practicing Piano (But She Does Love Being In Recitals)
Peggy Gifford
192 pages
Middle Grade
Schwartz & Wade
August 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where the blog gets written!

Over at Abby (the) Librarian (a great blog, you should read it often), we've been asked by the lovely Abby to share out "Blog Centrals." Where the posts get written, the reviews are typed up, and the stash of books waiting to be read is housed. Abby has a really nice space, with GREAT windows and since I just moved into this house about 7 weeks ago, mine definitely doesn't compare. I suppose the rest of the house just had to get done before my room was even looked at. So... enjoy the plain white walls, with the small window, and the mismatched furniture, it may not be beautiful, but it's allll mine :)

So this is the view from the door. The room is definitely small, the smallest of our two spare bedrooms, but amazingly once held two little girls and all of their stuff. Crazy!

This gives you more of a view of my nice new desk (for which I'm using a non-matching dining room chair, but hey, it works!). I do still do most of my reviews on a desktop, I feel I get more work done when I'm actually sitting at a desk and don't have the ability to pick up and go wherever I want. I have a pile of books waiting to be reviewed-I've been SO behind, my go-to drink of a Diet Caffeine Free Pepsi, a picture of my little boy, and a couple of moose figurines (if you follow this blog, you know Jacob's nickname was Moose).

I hate this ugly bookshelf, but it serves a purpose and I can't quite get rid of it yet. This is my to-be-reviewed shelf of Young Adult and Middle Grade titles. And I just cleared about 10 off to move to my nightstand for "must-read-now" status.

My picture book shelf. The fullest shelf is to-be-reviewed's, other than that they are ones I'm keeping. The little keepsakes are fun too, I have a moose angel, a Christmas moose, my piggy bank that was made for me when I was born, and a teddy bear Aaron sent to me from Iraq about 4 years ago.

My non-fiction books to review are to the right.

And my girls, Zoey and Shae, were sad that I kept kicking them out of the picture, so I thought one of them would be ok. :) Click on the picture to make it bigger and you can see Zoey's ridiculous bulldog teeth. SO funny.

I do have a million more books in the house, I just didn't put them in here. I have two bookcases in the living room with all the books that are "mine," (I'm keeping them), as well as library books. In the family room I have two more book cases, with Bibles, devotionals, scrapbooks, and family books. A million...

So that's my space! I do admit that on nice summer nights I take the laptop out to the screened-in porch, but for the most part, this is where it all happens! Painting will happen eventually, I'm thinking a nice, deep, golden will a new bookcase and a futon or daybed for guests. Hope you liked it! Don't forget to click on the link above and add your own Blog Central to Abby's list!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series review

It seems that since the explosion of Harry Potter, the book world has become obsessed with fantasy series. Stand alone books may not be rare, but they certainly don't always get the buzz and following that these series do and "The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" series by Michael Scott is no exception. And rightly so. Thus far, the series contains three books and I have enjoyed each immensely, as they are filled with adventure, magic and alchemy, thrills, a variety of unique and often odd characters, and for lack of better description, just plain fun!

Though I'm attempting to not "spoil" anything, if you haven't read any of these or haven't moved beyond the first book yet, there may be some plot spoilers. Just letting ya know!

Beginning with The Alchemyst, readers are introduced to 15 year old twins, Josh and Sophie Newman, a normal couple of kids, each with a summer job in San Francisco, Josh working at an old bookshop and Sophie at a tea shop across the street. What begins as an ordinary day, turns into a horrifying and adventure-filled couple of days as Josh and Sophie realize their employers are a famous alchemyst and sorceress and they just may be the "twins of legend."

The twins are quite obviously dumbfounded at what they are experiencing and just what their role in it is. A great introduction to the series.

Book two, The Magician, moves the plot mainly to Paris and introduces us readers to some new and powerful characters. Josh and Sophie are still on the run from John Dee, with Nicholas Flamel leading the way, still unsure whether or not to fully trust the Alchemyst. Peri, the Sorceress, is imprisoned on Alcatraz Island, unable to help her husband or the twins remain alive.

This one was probably the most action packed and suspenseful. Josh and Sophie definitely grew as characters and the introduction of some pretty famous characters, long believed to be dead by the twins (and the rest of the world), Joan of Arc and William Shakespeare, made for interesting plot twists.

Finally, book three, The Sorceress, continues the story right where it left off, Josh and Sophie both have powers now and are working on becoming stronger and more useful in warding off John Dee and his band of followers. Lots of strange beasts make their appearance in this book, more on Peri on Alcatraz, and of course, more fabulous action.

The series really does keep getting better and better as each book comes out. Michael Scott obviously has a wild imagination, enough to keep the story fresh and new, without changing up the concept from book to book. The characters are realistic (as much as they can be) and the thrill aspect spot on.

A fabulous choice for middle graders (upper middle graders probably) and young adults. The books are long, but well worth the pages. Great for fans of Harry Potter :) I read the books one right after another this summer and now am bummed I have to wait for the 4th next year. Hurry on up the writing process Mr. Scott!

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover to link to Amazon.

The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Michael Scott
400 pages
Young Adult
May 2007

The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Michael Scott
496 pages
Young Adult
June 2008

The Sorceress: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Michael Scott
512 pages
Young Adult
May 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Library Loot, week 2

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Well this week, Library Loot is just going to prove that I have a serious problem when it comes to new books. Not only do all the holds come in at once, but I always have to have the maximum amount of holds on my card and I've hijacked my husband's card so I can use all of his holds too! It's crazy and soooo unnecessary, but I also know that I'm not alone in this problem. And really, isn't it a wonderful problem to have? This week I picked up:

Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott
Julie & Julia by Julie Powell
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Where Do I Go? by Neta Jackson
Write Naked by Peter Gould
The Summer House by Nancy Thayer
While I'm Falling by Laura Moriarty
Local Flavors by Deborah Madison

I'm attempting to catch up on my Elizabeth Scott reading and this is the last one I needed. I have to read a book before I see the movie, hence Julie & Julia. City of Bones because I'm the last person to read the series and Where Do I Go? because I love Neta Jackson. The last four were impulse pickups.

Non-Fiction Monday

Chronicle Books has a pretty good thing going in their Explorers Series, with books taking a unique and interesting approach to how kids can learn about specific individuals in history, as well as a bit of geography and some animal facts. Not a bad combo! Animals Charles Darwin Saw: An Around the World Adventure and Animals Marco Polo Saw: An Adventure on the Silk Road, are both written by Sandra Markle and follow the explorers on journeys to find new worlds.

Darwin sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and around South America, then made stops in Tahiti and Australia, finding all sorts of new animals and insects before returning to England, all helping to provide information for his theory of evolution.

The illustrations in this one, done by Zina Saunders were a bit bland, kinda boring. Done in very muted colors, I wouldn't really expect the illustrations to completely hold the attention of the reader, but being non-fiction for middle schoolers, that is probably not a necessary quality for a book.

Marco Polo, long before Darwin, traveled the Silk Road from Italy to modern day China, via Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the Far Easy, finding new landscapes, encountering animals like giant elephants and Persian lions, all while trying to learn about the family's silk cloth business.

Illustrations, done by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini completely captured the lovely colors and styles of China and the silk business. The clothing and cloth were made to be bright and cheery even amidst a cold, dreary landscape.

Both books are incredibly informative in the realm of the lives of the explorers and also throw in fact boxes on almost every page to fill the reader in on different cultural norms, ideologies of the time, and animal facts. Pronunciations are included for words that may be a bit more difficult and each has a glossary, map section, index, and further resources.

Nice choices for middle school libraries.

There is a third and fourth book in the series, of which I did not review, entitled Animals Christopher Columbus Saw: An Adventure in the New World and Animals Robert Scott Saw: An Adventure in Antarctica.

Thank you to Chronicle Books for the review copies!! To learn more about either of these, or to purchase, click on the book covers above to link to Amazon.

Animals Charles Darwin Saw: An Around the World Adventure
Sandra Markle
48 pages
Chronicle Books
January 2009

Animals Marco Polo Saw
Sandra Markle
48 pages
Chronicle Books
April 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Picture Book Saturday

Some new books you you all this weekend...enjoy!

Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers
, written by Gloria Whelan and illustrated by Yan Nascimbene, gives us readers a bit of cultural history blended with a nice story of a young girl named Yuki.

In the 17th and 18th century, provincial governors in Japan had to travel between two cities, a distance of 300 miles, which required a caravan of between one thousand and three thousand attendants (carriers), making the journey truly a huge event. Yuki's father is one of those governors and though reluctant, Yuki must accompany him and her mother on the long journey, said to be leaving her teacher and her home, writing haikus along the way.

Written on a subject not often found in picture books, this title would be a nice selection to accompany a unit on Japanese history. Probably best suited for slightly older readers, though younger children can certainly enjoy the story and beautifully done illustrations without having to understand the backstory.

Sleeping Bear Press has a companion novel out for this one too, one of it's famous "Alphabet books" that I love so much! It's called K is for Kabuki (review by me to be done soon) and you can learn more about it and the rest of the Discover the World series, here.

Yuki and the One Thousand Carriers
Gloria Whelan
32 pages
Picture Book
Sleeping Bear Press
April 2008

Wiggens Learns His manners at the Four Seasons Restaurant is written by Leslie McGuirk and Alex von Bidder and is very reminiscent of the "Tucker" books, also by the pair (and they were adorable, so that's a good thing).

Wiggins is a Lab puppy that simply does not have proper manners. His owners aren't quite sure what to do until they are told to take Wiggins to a puppy class, guaranteed to rid him of his manner issues. Where is this puppy class? Well, at the Four Seasons Restaurant of course!

McGuirk writes quirky little stories with adorable dogs and the illustrations are quaint and sweet. Wiggens may also teach your little ones some manners too...always a plus!

Wiggens Learns His Manners at the Four Seasons Restaurant
Leslie McGuirk and Alex von Bidder
32 pages
Picture Book
August 2009

I LOVE Diane deGroat and she and Shelley Rotner have come up with this hilarious quirky book that is definitely giggle-inducing (and not just out of your kids!).

Dogs Don't Brush Their Teeth! is a compilation of hilarious photographs featuring fifteen different dogs, showing just what they can do and what they can't. We have photos of a dog that can fetch a stick, but can't play baseball. One that can can howl at the moon, but can howl in a rockband. This is some funny stuff!

Paired with interactive foldout pages, this one is going to be a great choice for some silly time! There's a fun website devoted to the book too:

Dogs Don't Brush Their Teeth
Diane deGroat and Shelley Rotner
32 pages
Picture Book
Orchard Books
August 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Once a Witch (YA review)

We've somewhat moved on from vampires into other realms of supernatural beings, i.e. zombies, werewolves, fairies, etc. And sometimes it gets tiring, I must admit. There don't seem to be many teen fantasy novels out lately that don't have a main character that's somehow not human, so you can't blame me for being slightly wary when it came to this one. I was slightly afraid of being bored, but ended up pleasantly surprised with a likable main character and a thrilling plot.

Once a Witch, written by Carolyn MacCullough features Tamsin, a 17 year old girl, who completely disappoints her family, simply by being ordinary. Tamsin comes from a long line of incredibly powerful witches and at birth, she was thought to be one of the most powerful in the world. Instead, her magic never came. She is just an ordinary, clumsy, teen stuck in a family of fantastic, beautiful, powerful beings. That will take take a toll on almost anyone!

While working in her grandmother's bookshop, Tamsin is approached by a mysterious man needing her sister's help in "locating" something very important. Instead of filling the man in on who she is, Tamsin pretends to be her sister, wanting to be able to accomplish what the man wants and prove to her family she's not just ordinary. What happens though is a crazy, thrill ride of events, mixing magic, some romance, and a whole lot of danger into Tamsin's slightly boring exhistence.

I loved Tamsin's character (and her name!) and really felt teen girls would understand where she's coming from, (even if her main complaints are because she doesn't have any powers). We all know what it feels like to not fit in and this character definitely has the relatability factor down. The plot was unique and exciting, for the most part, though I did feel small chunks of the story could have been cut out and it would have prevented a slight dragging through some portions.

Highly recommended for fantasy fans, a nice choice for libraries as well.

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Once a Witch
Carolyn MacCullough
304 pages
Young Adult
Clarion Books
September 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Importance of Wings (mg review)

I'm going to say right away that I'm totally on the fence about this one. Did I like it? Did I even realllly not like it? I'm not totally sure. Becky loved it. I'm sure others loved it. But I had some issues, I must admit. I still want to chat about it for you, knowing that others really enjoyed it and I'm not so sure might just encourage you to check it out for yourself (and then argue with me if you love it to!).

The Importance of Wings, written by Robin Friedman, features a young girl that just wants to fit in. Roxanne really wishes to just be a typical American girl with a typical American family. She doesn't want to be Israeli, she doesn't want her mom to be living in Israel, and she doesn't want her dad to work crazy hours for a cab company and emotionally check out. She just wants to have feathered hair with wings, pot roast for dinner, and a mom to take her shopping.

Unfortunately, Roxanne's reality is a bit different. Her dad does work long hours as a cab driver and her mother is in Israel. A lot of the time she and her sister, Gayle, have to fend for themselves for food, as their dad isn't there and when he is, he doesn't really care. When Liat moves in next door, another Israeli girl around their age, and she happens to be a tough, strong-minded girl, proud of her heritage, Roxanne starts to reconsider her viewpoints on being American. Maybe being an Israeli isn't so bad.

The importance of cultural stories for our middle grade readers is essential. I just felt this one fell a bit flat, lacking in a realistic main character. We can all relate to the idea of not fitting in for one reason or another, so the subject definitely has a relatability factor, which is a positive for sure. Roxanne, however, seemed forced to me, almost as if an author was really putting the right words in her mouth, rather than a preteen girl's words. And Liat moving right next door, another Israeli that just happened to be Roxanne's polar opposite, I don't know, I just didn't totally buy it. I don't think the writing convinced me of the unconventional.

I also had a problem with the two issues in the book. On the one hand, I felt that the issue of the father and mother both checking out and leaving two girls pretty much alone, was enough for a book. The emotions for a great story are definitely there, but then there is the issue of cultural identity thrown in too and I don't think either got the right amount of justice.

Maybe you'll love it, maybe you won't, I'm still on the fence.

To learn more, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

The Importance of Wings
Robin Friedman
176 pages
Middle Grade
July 2009

Thank you to the publisher for a review copy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

After (YA review)

Today is release day for Amy Efaw's new teen novel After and I am wholeheartedly encouraging you all to go out and grab this one. A tough subject does not even begin to describe what the reader is getting into, but the writing and the emotion are incredible, the main character a realistic portrayal of a teen girl, and the plot completely riveting.

Devon is an overachieving high school sophomore, a star soccer player with an amazing GPA, and a whole lot going for her. Until she secretly gives birth and puts her baby in a trash can. Though initially shocking, Efaw manages to give the reader a glimpse into just what Devon went through during an unplanned pregnancy, birth, and ultimate arrest and placement in a juvenile facility and empathize with her. A good, straight-laced kid put in a jail system for an absolutely unthinkable crime is typically not a subject to evoke sympathy, but Devon could have been me when I was a sophomore. She could have been my best friend. And I think teens will get a lot out of her story.

Completely realistic, from the description of Devon before getting pregnancy right down to the courtroom scenes, it is obvious that author Efaw did her research and is rewarded with what will prove to be a very popular novel. Not an easy read by any means, but certainly one you won't be able to put down.

Efaw also includes an author's note at the end of the story, letting us in on what inspired her to write After and some statistics on how often this occurs.

Abby is giving away two copies of this book! Head on over to her site to enter :)

Thanks again to Abby for her ARC!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Library first!

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

I have yet to participate in a Library Loot meme, though I've been seeing all of yours for so long and always wanted to participate. When I was actually working in a library, I was bringing home a new book (or books) every day and returning the same amount, so to actually put together a coherent meme post just took too much effort at that point. Now, I'm simply a regular patron, making trips to the library down the street once or twice a week, so I am fully capable of having fun with all of you and showing my library finds! Here we go...

Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
A Month of Summer by Lisa Wingate
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga
Swede Dreams by Eva Apelqvist
The Great Call of China by Cynthea Liu
Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
Healthy Family Meals by American Heart Association

As an explanation of each, I mostly have people to blame, but some were just random pickups. Swede Dreams and The Great Call of China are part of the "Students Across the Seven Seas" series, which are short beach reads that I've enjoyed in the past. They are a broke girl's method of travel! I don't really have the time to read them, but I grabbed them anyways, we'll see what happens.

Stealing Heaven is simply because I've wanted to read it since it came out (LOVE Elizabeth Scott of course) and it just now became available. Same with Fanboy and Goth Girl. Plus I just got the ARC of the sequel, so I best get onto the first!

The Guernsey Literary Society because Becky and Nicole Baart told me to and I would trust their recommendations any day.

The cookbook because I'm always on the lookout for a good cookbook, but am usually disappointed. I like healthy, all-natural food (as much as it can be), that's easy to prepare and has a photo of each recipe. VERY pleased with this one...already made the Greek Chicken, took about 5 minutes of prep, done in 15 minutes total and it was yummy! I'll buy the book when the price goes down.

And Extra Credit because Andrew Clements is always great.

Until next week!