Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Weekly Round-Up: Moose Books!

I haven't done one of these Weekly Round-ups in a while--I've been up to my ears in schoolwork (mine and the kids'). But one of my delights this year is to be a room mom in my boys' kindergarten class. Amidst other duties (most of which I've farmed out to other parents) is the occasional storytime with their class. What a delight! They've just finished reviewing "M" and "N" for sounds and hand-writing. So, I brought in a new favorite of Megan's and mine both: Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham and illustrated by the amazing Paul O. Zelinsky. I also read Moosetracks and Imogene's Antlers ("M" for Moose in case you're wondering...). The children were rapt and loved the books--but particularly Z is for Moose.

Did you know that there are a LOT of moose-themed picture books? Who knew. Here is a lineup of some of my favorite moose-themed books, all of which make excellent read alouds to the upper preschool-kindergarten-early elementary crowd.

Z is for Moose
Kelly Bingham, author
Paul O. Zelinsky, illustrator
Greenwillow, 2012

Zebra is trying to stage an ABC show in which characters come on stage according to their letter. Moose, Zebra's friend, is very impatient and so desperately wants to be on stage... he can hardly wait for his letter to show up. But there are other animals who also start with "M," so will Moose be picked? Hilarious--especially to those who've just mastered their ABC's.

Moose Tracks
Karma Wilson, author
Jack E. Davis, illustrator
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2006

I'll confess that this isn't one of my favorite Karma Wilson books (although Megan and I shower our love on her here and here). It's the illustrations; they're a bit clunky to me. Yet this is a fun read aloud and has a nice twist at the end. It's a worthy addition to a "Moose" themed round-up.

Thidwick, the Big-Hearted Moose
Dr. Seuss
Harper Collins Children's Books, 2004 (first published 1985)

A classic, this chronicles a very hospitable moose who puts those antlers to good use! Dr. Seuss books are a bit longer than modern picture books, so plan accordingly with your audience and your other read alouds.

If You Give a Moose a Muffin
Laura J. Numeroff, author
Felicia Bond, illustrator
Harper Collins, 1991

One of the endearing If You Give A... series that began with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, this book shows a large moose ambling through a small boy's house after the boy gives him a muffin. Circular and funny, especially to the older preschool-first grade crowd. Many of these books are small, so if you want to read this to a large group, check with your library for a larger copy (so everyone can see the wonderful, detailed illustrations!).

Morris the Moose series
Bernard Wiseman
Harper Collins, 1991 (originally published 1959)

If you have a new reader in the house (or a soon-to-be-reader), try this silly series. From the early days of the I CAN READ books, Morris the Moose books are quirky and silly and will charm new readers. A bit dated in feel, that doesn't seem to bother most children, especially if they can read it themselves!

The Invisible Moose
Dennis Hasley, author
Stephen Kellogg, illustrator
Dial, 2006

The Invisible Moose is classic Kellogg style in terms of illutrastions: lavish and detailed and multi-colored. It's a sweet story of a young moose who falls in love with another young moose and follows her to rescue her after she gets captured. A bit longer than some of the others (save for Thidwick), so factor that in to your line-up. Always consider your audience!

Imogene's Antlers
David Small
Crown Books, 2010 (first published 1985)

While not a book about a moose, this is a delightful book that does feature antlers--rather prominently. I couldn't pass up including it. I love the message in this book: make the most of your own unique qualities, even if they are antlers! Children love the ending to this funny little book, and David Small's illustrations are top notch as always.

Do YOU have a favorite moose book to share with us?

Many thanks to goodreads for cover images!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Jerry Bridges: one of my all-time favorite "spirital" authors

I don't have much time for extra reading this semester; I'm homeschooling three children part-time (they're in a university model school which meets three mornings/week), I'm in my final year of coursework for my School Library/Information Science degree, and I'm still a wife and mother in the midst of it all ☺.

BUT, I'm still making time to do a book study with a friend. Why? Because we're studying a book by Jerry Bridges--one of my all-time favorite spiritual authors. I'll be reporting soon on some more children's book related items, but for now, here's a brief foray into the world of grown-up books.

Jerry Bridges has a knack for communicating spiritual truth that is at once both profound and basic. There is meat to his books, material I find myself chewing on and applying to my life even as it challenges me to go back to Scripture, to study to show myself approved, and to learn more about this great God whom we serve. And yet, his books are amazingly approachable, even if you don't have any background in the faith, if you're a newcomer to Christianity, or simply from a different denomination which has stressed slightly different aspects. (Bridges is what I would term Reformed, but I don't know what denomination he claims.) He has worked for the Navigators for the past 50 or so years! To me, the most distinctive aspects of his books are these:
  • grounded in Scripture--indeed, they overflow with Scripture references
  • God-focused--it all comes back to who God is rather than focusing solely on mankind

I have not read all of Bridges' works (he's a prolific author!). But those listed below are all well worth taking some time out of your busy schedule to peruse. Read with pen in hand and be willing to create some marginalia!

Trusting God Even When Life Hurts

My current study. Trusting God is the most prominent part of the title on my copy; I think the second half is a bit misleading. I don't feel like life "hurts" most of the time, so I put off reading this gem until this year. This book is about trusting God. In all areas. In all situations. A reminder that God is sovereign--even over nature and nations (a timely reminder given our upcoming election season). 

Transforming Grace

Wow!! This book changed my life. Really and truly. If you're familiar with Sonship, this book is similar but it starts with who God is, not who man is (and man's sin--he gets to that, but he begins first with the Lord).

Disciplines of Grace

A follow-up, in a sense, to Transforming Grace. Well worth reading and a succinct look at the practical aspects of our Christian walk.

The Gospel for Real Life

This might become my high school/college graduation gift of choice. It is EXCELLENT. Even if you've been a Christian your entire life, you will benefit from this book. A bit of rehash from Transforming Grace in parts; it would be a terrific refresher if you've read TG years ago and want to revisit it in a newer form (and with new information).

The Crisis of Caring

Another misleading title, this book sounds like it's only for those in position as care givers or perhaps those in charge of mercy ministry. Rather, it's an exploration of Christian fellowship and the ways in which we bear one another's burdens.

Next up on my Bridges-to-read list: Respectable Sins (mostly because I already own it ☺). Which Bridges book is your favorite?

Cover images from NavPress and Goodreads

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beyond Courage: WWII Nonfiction for Teens

 Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust
Doreen Rappaport
NCTE Orbis Pictus Recommended Book (2013)

(updated 1/29/13)
I think it fitting that this book is scheduled to be published on September 11--a day of significance for Americans. This book describes the countless ways teens and 20-somethings stood up to the terrorism of the Nazis during WWII.

I've read a lot of WWII-era fiction for middle grade and high school students (some of it quite well done: Code Name Verity, Between Shades of Gray, My Friend the Enemy, Number the Stars, etc.). In fact, each of those titles I just mentioned covers a different aspect: spies captured and held in Nazi-occupied France, the Russians' forced deportations of Eastern Europeans, Japanese-American tension in Northwest U.S., and concentration camps, respectively).

Beyond Courage takes us behind the scenes, as it were, and tells the true stories that aren't as familiar: a 12-year-old violinist taking notes back to the Jewish Resistance after his performances for Germans in a Nazi-occupied country, desperate escape attempts from cattle cars and camps, refugee camps set up in the middle of a forest, parents who had to send their young children on train to strangers, and many others. Divided in several sections, this book covers much more than concentration camps. It also includes photographs, a lengthy bibliography (including websites) and a nice chronology of important Nazi-related dates.

Beyond Courage will be a nice addition to a study of the era for middle or high school students. The information is not sensationalized and, although covering a tragic and harsh time in history, is presented in a way that will be palatable to older middle school students as well as high school students.

Book cover image from goodreads; ARC from netgalley

The No-Dogs-Allowed Rule

The No-Dogs-Allowed Rule
Kashmira Sheth
Carl Pearce, illustrator
Albert Whitman and Co.

There are two main things about this title that piqued my interest (and, hence, my request for the advance reader copy from netgalley). 1) It's an early chapter book with a boy as the protagonist (and doesn't involve underwear or any other crudity). 2) It's an early chapter book with an Indian American (not Native American) family at the center.

Now that I've read this short little book (just over 100 pages), I'm glad it's going to grace the early chapter book scene! It's "diverse" without being "diverse-as-the-main-point." The main character is engaging and definitely relate-able to young boys (without being quite as over the top as someone like Joey Pigza). He's sort of a cross between a Ramona Quimby and a Clementine from the girls' lineup. His family is believable, and the information about Indian American families is a nice touch.

I wish he didn't call his mom the "alpha dog" in their family. No doubt, it is true in many families, but it saddens me a touch. It's so rare to find books for this age group that feature strong dads; don't get me wrong, though--this dad is certainly not uninvolved. He's just presented as a bit weaker than the mom in "law enforcement" on the home front.

I found the plot quite predictable, but there were some fun, unexpected diversions. This target audience, though, often enjoys a bit of predictability in their reading, especially if the journey there is pleasant and/or funny (or both, in this case).

The book is illustrated, but I was not able to view the final artwork. It's not my "style," but I think young kids will enjoy it. The impression I got was a comic-book style roughly similar to Japanese comic books.

All in all, an early chapter book to look for, especially if you have a boy and/or want to broaden your cultural horizons! In stores this month; hopefully it will soon be in local libraries, too.

ARC from netgalley; cover image from Albert Whitman