Thursday, June 27, 2019

Picture Book - Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Caldecott Award Winner
Illustrated by the author
1941, Viking Press
HC & price
68 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.22 - 77,467 ratings
My rating:  5
Illustrations:  brown illustrations and text on cream colored pages
1st line/s:  "Mr. and Mrs. Mallard were looking for a place to live."

My comments: This 1941 Caldecott Award winner is still one of the very best picture books in children's literature.  It's truly distinguished, as well as clever, lovely, comical and heartwarming.  I grew up on this story; AND my grandmother used to take my sister and me into Boston to ride on the Swan boats every spring.  Now there's a beautiful bronze sculpture of Mrs. Mallard with Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack following her across the Public Gardens.  Oh my goodness, do I love it!

Goodreads:  This classic tale of the famous Mallard ducks of Boston is available for the first time in a full-sized paperback edition. Awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1942, Make Way for Ducklings has been described as "one of the merriest picture books ever" (The New York Times). Ideal for reading aloud, this book deserves a place of honor on every child's bookshelf.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Picture Book - Time to Pray by Maha Addasi

Illustrated by Ned Gannon
2010, Boyds Mill Press, Honesdale, PA
HC $17/95
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  .10 - 122 ratings
My rating:  4.5

1st line/s:  "In the darkness, green lights winked at me from the minaret of the nearby mosque.  I heard the voice of the muezzin calling, 'Come to pray, come to pray.'  It was my first night at Grandma's house."

My comments:  Young Yasmin goes to visit her grandmother in a Middle eastern country (doesn't say which one). It looks like she goes all by herself!   Impressive....  She hears the call to prayer five times a day, and her grandmother teaches her all about the different prayers and rituals surrounding them, makes her a "proper" outfit for praying, and takes her to the mosque.  Each double-page spread includes a page of English text and the Arabic translation.  When she returns home (to America, I'm guessing - or maybe Canada), she shares her new knowledge with her parents and feels continually connected to her grandmother when she looks at the miniature mosque that Teta sent home with her.  There's an explanation of the five praryer times at the end of the book.  The illustrations are gorgeous - no white at all.  One of our  visiting Muslim families, when returning the book, told me they've taken this book out several times for their 4 and 6-year-old kids and really enjoy it.

Goodreads:  Yasmin is visiting her grandmother, who lives in a country somewhere in the Middle East. On her first night, she's wakened by the muezzin at the nearby mosque calling the faithful to prayer, and Yasmin watches from her bed as her grandmother prepares to pray. A visit with Grandmother is always special, but this time it is even more so. Her grandmother makes Yasmin prayer clothes, buys her a prayer rug, and teaches her the five prayers that Muslims perform over the course of a day. When it's time for Yasmin to board a plane and return home, her grandmother gives her a present that her granddaughter opens when she arrives: a prayer clock in the shape of a mosque, with an alarm that sounds like a muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. Maha Addasi's warm and endearing story is richly illustrated by Ned Gannon. Features a text in English and Arabic, and includes an author's note and glossary.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

57. Distortion by Victor Dixen

(#2 Phobos)
read the book - purchased online
2015 original in French, 2018 English Hot Key Books
576 pgs.
YA SciFi
Finished 6/22/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.11 - 1853 ratings
My rating:  5
Setting:  Contemporary Mars and various east coast US locations

First line/s:  "Twelve.  We are twelve, gathered all together for the first time in the Visiting Room, the glass bubble that has seen us parading in, two by two, over these past five months: us, the participants in the Genesis programme, the greatest TV game show in all history - and the cruelest lie of all time."

My comments:  These 567 pages flew by, almost literally.  I totally recommend to anyone that is going to read the series that you have all three volumes in hand before starting.  The cliffhanger on this one is really something.  The first book was about being in the transport to Mars, the second is about the first month or so on Mars, very different because not only are the twelve young people investigating this new habitat that is now their new world AND getting to know their new partners in life, but they are trying to figure out how to not be thwarted by the evil Serena McBee.  However, the revelation that Marcus makes at the very end of the this second volume must have so much more to it....and you have to wait for the next volume.  Eeeek.  Not only that, but - spoiler, spoiler! - the drones are rushing towards Andrew and Harmony in Death Valley and you have no idea what's going to happen to them.  I'm thinking I have at least a week before I received volume three.  Woe is me!

Goodreads synopsis: After a speed-dating show that is literally out of this world, twelve young astronauts are set to become the first humans to colonise Mars. They are also the victims of the cruellest of plots.
          LĂ©onor thought she was a pioneer on an extraordinary mission. She thought she had left all regrets behind her on Earth. But when memories are this painful, there can be no forgetting . .

Friday, June 21, 2019


Preschool Storytimes

Picture Books THEMED: Ducklings

Ducks Away by Mem Fox Ill. By Judy Horacek, 2016
      Told in rhyme, a mother and her five ducklings take turns falling into the water as they try to cross a bridge.  Great for counting and reinforcing the 5 fact family.  

Pete the Cat Five Little Ducks by James Dean, 2017

     Told in lilting rhyme, Pete keeps losing ducks, from five to one (subtraction!) and then they all return.  Cute and simple.

Double the Ducks by Stuart J. Murphy, ill. by Valeria Petrone, 2003

     “I” has five little ducks to care for with his two hands, three sacks of feed, and four bundles of hay.  When they return from a walk one day, they each bring a friend, so since the ducks are doubled, so must the provisions be doubled. Great for teaching the concept of “doubling.”

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey, 1941

     Probably the best book about ducks and ducklings ever written, the story follows Mrs. and Mrs. Mallard as they find a place in Boston to birth and raise their eights children.  68 pages, but not a 68-pages worth of text….

It’s Quacking Time!  By Martin Waddell ill. By Jill Barton, 2005
     A duckling discovers that his parents have an egg ready to be hatched, and Auntie Duck, Grandpa Duck, and Cousin Small Duck all share in his excitement waiting for the big moment.
(Great for counting and adding…there’s one great illustration where all four ducks and the two duckling are staring down at the egg…having some whiteboard ducks and ducklings to manipulate would work beautifully here during a storytime. 

Goodnight, My Duckling by Nancy Tafuri, who also illustrated, 2005
     Short and sweet, one little duckling floats far behind his mother and seven siblings, being greeted by many of his neighbor creatures, as they float home for bedtime. 

Have You Seen My Duckling?  Written and illustrated by Nancy Tafuri, 1984
     Almost wordless, we watch a mother duck and seven of her eight ducklings looking everywhere for her stray eighth duckling, which you can always see somewhere on the page. Bosler has

          *Goodnight, My Duckling is a companion book to the first, Have You Seen My Duckling?  I’m only going to have time for one of them during my Duckling Storytime, so I’m going to use the second, Goodnight, My Duckling, which has a few more words and is very cute.

I’m a Duck by Eve Bunting ill. By Will Hillenbrand, 2018
     Told in rhyme and the point-of-view of a duckling that is afraid to swim, we share his friend’s and family’s excitement when he finally dares to try.  

Puddle’s New School by Amber Stewart Ill by Layn Marlow, 2010
     Although Puddle and his two friends have been a bit envious watching other ducklings headed for school, they’re a little nervous when their own time come.  But Mama Dick has done many things to ensure that Puddle has a great transition.  

The Other Ducks by Ellen Yeomans ill. By Chris Sheban  , 2018
     This Duck and That Duck are truly clueless, thinking their shadows are friends, not knowing how to swim or fly or even about the babies they eventually have…it was cute and funny, but somehow not enough true information for young kids.   

Come Along, Daisy! Written and illustrated by Jane Simmons, 1997
     Super simple story about a duckling that straggles behind its mother while swimming down a stream, and for one short moment feels alone but discovers her turning around and coming back for him.

Sitting Duck by Jackie Urbanovic, 2010

     Max, the duck and Brody, the dog babysit for Anabel, Brody's niece.  When Brady falls asleep and Anabel and Max go outside, the antics really begin.  Apparently this is the fourth story about Max the Duck.  Delightful. 

10 Little Rubber Ducks by Eric Carle, 2005

    A box of ten little rubber ducks fall from a boat as they're being shipped across the ocean, and all  have different things that happen to them.  A great introduction to ordinal numbers (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.).


Ducks are birds, and lay eggs
Males are called drakes
Females are called ducks.
Babies are called ducklings
They lay eggs in spring - up to ten or more.
Eggs hatch after four weeks. 


Five little Ducks
Five little ducks, went out to play (hold up five fingers)
over the hills, and far away, (hold hand to eyebrows)
When the mother duck went “quack, quack, quack” (motion “quack” with your hand)

Four little Ducks came waddling back. (make wings with arms and move elbows up and down)
Quack, quack, quack….quack, quack, quack….four little ducks came waddling back.

Continue to count down until there are no little ducks then sing:


One nest, one egg, how many feet walked away?
One nest two eggs, how many feet walked away?
One nest, three eggs, how many feet walked away?


Kids cut ducklings from outlined figures on yellow construction paper.  Glue onto 9 / 12 white construction paper that they've sponged with blue "water."

Have a bucket of plastic eggs and some baskets with numbers between 1 and 10 (depending on ages of kids).  They count out the correct number of eggs to put in each basket.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

PICTURE BOOK - New Year at the Pier by April Halprin Wayland

Illustrated by Stephane Jorisch
2009, Dial Books for Young Readers
32 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.98 - 85 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers:  Lt. Blue
1st line/s:  "Izzy loves this changing time of year.  Some days sunglasses, some days sweaters.  Apples, honey, the sound of the shofar, and his favorite part of Rosh Hashanah:  Tashlich!"

My comments: Tashlich is a ritual that is part of the High Holy days of Judaism, the Jewish New Year: Rosh Hashanah.  This story explains what it's all about ("casting away" things you're sorry for) and how it's celebrated.  I've been part of a number of Tashlich celebration.  When I taught at Tucson Hebrew Academy, we'd take the whole school to a local park that had a huge pond of water and we'd sing, chant in Hebrew (pray), and cast away our sins as we threw crackers into the water.  During this whole month prior to the High Holidays, the shofar would be blown every morning as we all gathered in the terrace between classrooms.  A shofar is an ancient instrument made from a ram's horn, and every shofar has its own sound.  A few of the students had their own, or brought in a parent's shofar and joined the rabbis in blowing.  I loved these days at THA!
          This story brought back so many wonderful memories! I like the way that the family really put some thought into what deeds they felt needed forgiving.  This is a wonderful story to explain Tashlich to Jews and non-Jews alike.

Goodreads Izzy’s favorite part of Rosh Hashanah is Tashlich, a joyous ceremony in which people apologize for the mistakes they made in the previous year and thus clean the slate as the new year begins. But there is one mistake on Izzy’s “I’m sorry” list that he’s finding especially hard to say out loud. Humor, touching moments between family and friends, and lots of information about the Jewish New Year are all combined in this lovely picture book for holiday sharing.

Winner of the Sydney Taylor Gold Medal for best Jewish picture book of the year!

56. Watcher in the Woods by Kelly Armstrong

#4 Rockton/ Sheriff Eric Dalton & Casey Duncan
listened on Audible, borrowed from CCLS
read by Therese Plummer
Unabridged audio (11:30)
2019 Doubleday Canada
413 pgs.
Adult Murder Mystery series
Finished  6/20/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.16 - 2875 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Contemporary Yukon, Canada

First line/s:  "I have not seen my sister, April, in two years."

My commentsATTENTION:  SPOILERS IN THIS ONE, SO THAT I CAN REMEMBER ENOUGH IN A YEAR OR SO WHEN THE NEXT INSTALLMENT ARRIVES!  Never disappointed in this series, it's always so interesting!  Both the setting and the premise of the little hidden town of Rockton are fascinating.  There are two new inhabitants, and a couple of departures.  Casey's sister, April, will stay as the town doctor and Sebastian, a 19-year old sociopath who murdered his parents when he was eleven and is trying to overcome this mental disorder looks to be a possibly helpful link in the sheriff's department.  He has been apprenticed to Matthias, the town's butcher (And psychiatrist).  The bad guy/murderer is someone who seemed very innocent in preceding books ... so you never know who/what is secretly hidden in Rockton's residents.  Hopefully there will be a fifth installment, but it'll probably be a good year before that happens!

Goodreads synopsis: In #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong's latest thriller, the town of Rockton--and her fans--are in for another hair-raising adventure.
          The secret town of Rockton has seen some rocky times lately; understandable considering its mix of criminals and victims fleeing society for refuge within its Yukon borders. Casey Duncan, the town's only detective on a police force of three, has already faced murder, arson and falling in love in less than the year that she's lived there. Yet even she didn't think it would be possible for an outsider to find and cause trouble in the town she's come to call home.
          When a US Marshal shows up in town demanding the release of one of the residents, Casey and her boyfriend, Sheriff Dalton, are skeptical. And yet only hours later, the marshal is shot dead and the only visible suspects are the townspeople and her estranged sister, in town for just the weekend. It's up to Casey to figure out who murdered the marshal, and why they would kill to keep him quiet.

Picture Book - A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee by Chris VanDusen

Illustrated by the author
2003, Chronicle Books, San Francisco
28 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.36 - 1055 ratings
My rating:  5!!!!

1st line/s:  “Early one morning at 7:03,
     Mr. Magee and his little dog, Dee,
Packed up the camper and hitched up the load.
     Hopped in the Rambler and then hit the road.
They drove to the mountains, far from the sea,
      For two nights of camping (or possibly three).”

My comments: Perhaps I love this VanDusen as much as Circus Ship (which has been my all-time favorite for the past couple of years).  Great, funny story, rhyming BRILLIANTLY, with just the coolest illustrations ever.  SO Maine!  I couldn’t love a picture book more!  Full of adventure and humor, a bear, trying to get at the yummy marshmallows, disconnects the camping trailer from the car and down the  hill the camper plunders…into the river and towards a waterfall!

Goodreads:  Mr. Magee and his trusty dog, Dee, are enjoying a peaceful camping trip when all of a sudden they find themselves plunging down a mountain and teetering on the edge of a huge waterfall! How will they find their way out of this slippery situation? Chris Van Dusen, the creator of Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee, has filled this new adventure with charming illustrations and a playful, rhyming text. A fun read-aloud for children (and adults!) on campouts or snuggling at home!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Picture Books THEMED: Potatoes

Potato Pants! by Laurie Keller
     Poor Potato is afraid to go into the store that's having a potato pants sale, because he's afraid that Eggplant, who pushed him into a wastebasket the day before, will try to push him again!  Funny and cute with a lesson about being brave. 

The Potato King by Christoph Niemann
     The story of how King Fritz (Frederick the Great, King of Prussia) tricked people into eating potatoes. Illustrated with potato prints!  

Little Sweet Potato by Amy Beth Bloom, Illustrated by Noah Z. Jones
     Poor little Sweet Potato gets knocked out of his garden patch and meets all sorts of grumpy plants as he searches for a new home.  Thankfully, in the end he discovers a friendly happy garden patch…  

Pigs Love Potatoes by Anika Denise Illustrated by Christopher Denise
     A very cute counting book (from 1 to 10) with great rhyme and rhythm, this story tells of Mama Piggie getting help from all assorts of people in preparing a pot of potatoes and then having everyone enjoy them together. 

One Potato by Sue Porter
     Four animal friends compete for the one potato left at the end of dinner, but because of unusual, very funny results, no one gets it!  

The Greatest Potatoes by Penelope Stowell Illustrated by Sharon Watts
     Based on a true story, finicky6 Conrenlius Vanderbilt sent his French fries back to the kitchen so many times that George Crum, the cook, in anger cut the potatoes super thin and fried them until they were crisp, even oversalting them.  Thus was the potato chip invented, in Saratoga, NY!  Not at .

Rot, the Cutest in the World by Ben Clanton
     Much to the chagrin of cute baby bunny, cuddly kitten, and jolly jellyfish, a uni-browed potato named Rot wins The Cutest in the World competition.  

I'm Bored by Michael Ian Black Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi
     A bored little girl finds an equally bored potato, but not matter what wonderful suggestions she gives it (and she gives it a lot of suggestions), he's still bored.

      Have photocopied outlines of potato pants for kids to color and cut out, then pin them onto a potato!
     Give kids each a potato half and have them create potato stamps using straws, skewers, popsicles, and other harmless gougers.  Use acrylic paint as the stamping medium
     Use real potatoes when singing One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato (below).


Down in the Garden

Down in the garden, early in the morning.
See the green leaves growing on the vines.
See the little flowers, turn slightly yellow.
Dig, dig, dig, dig, potatoes you will find!

One Potato, Two Potato

One Potato, Two Potato,
Three potato, four
Five potato, six potato,
Seven potato, MORE!

One Potato, Two Potato VARIATION

One potato, two potato,
Three potato, four.
I like mashed potatoes,
May I please have some more?

Continue, if desired:
            I like baked potatoes
            I like French fries
            I like potato chips

Picture Book Biography - Michelangelo by Diane Stanley

Illustrated by the author
Copyright, publisher
2000, Harper Collins
48 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.15 - 594 ratings
My rating:  4+
Endpapers:  Deep eggplant)
1st line/s:  "Lodovico Buonarroti was a proud man from a respectable old family.  He owned a house in Florence and had a little farm in the country.  But for the past few generations, things had been going downhill for the Buonarroti family.  The weren't exactly poor, but they had to be very careful with their money."

My comments: Although too text-heavy for young children, this is a wonderful biography to use with 3rd-4th-5th graders, and the illustrations are simply wonderful.  Each double page spread includes a lovely colored illustrations and a full page of text. I don't appreciate adult-level biographies, but this was a perfect biography for me, so don't discount it for adults as well!  Fascinating man!

GoodreadsWhen he was born, Michelangelo Buonarroti was put into the care of a stonecutter's family. He often said it was from them that he got his love of sculpture. It certainly didn't come from his own father, a respectable magistrate who beat his son when he asked to become an artists apprentice.
          But Michelangelo persevered. His early sculptures caught the attention of Florence's great ruler, Lorenzo de' Medici, who invited the boy to be educated with his own sons. Soon after, Michelangelo was astonishing people with the lifelike creations he wrested from marble--from the heartbreaking Pieta he sculpted when he was only twenty-five to the majestic David that brought him acclaim as the greatest sculptor in Italy.
          Michelangelo had a turbulent, quarrelsome life. He was obsessed with perfection and felt that everyone--from family members to his demanding patrons--took advantage and let him down. His long and difficult association with Pope Julius II yielded his greatest masterpiece, the radiant paintings in the Sistine Chapel, and his most disastrous undertaking, the monumental tomb that caused the artist frustration and heartache for forty years.
           With her thoroughly researched, lively narrative and superbly detailed illustrations, Diane Stanley has captured the life of an artist who towered above the late Renaissance--and whose brilliance in architecture, painting, and sculpture amazes and moves us to this day.

Monday, June 17, 2019

55. Sotah by Naomi Ragen

read on my iPhone
originally 1992
493 pgs.
Adult CRF
Finished 6/17/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.12 - 2144 ratings
My rating: 4
Setting: contemporary (1992) Jerusalem

First line/s:  " 'Yes, I understand all that!'  Chaya Leah insisted, biting the pillow pressed to her chest to keep from screaming in frustration."

My comments:  I've wanted to read this for years.  There's a WORLD of difference between "cultural" or secular Jews and Orthodox Jews, and another, even huger world between Orthodox Jews and the Hasidic community!  This book takes you right into one family in the Hasidic community of Jerusalem and follows three sisters from adolescence through their young marriages.  Some of it is shocking, some of it fills me with despair, and yet some of it is very enlightening.  All of it, however, fills my feminist being with deep frustration.  Such an interesting story.

Goodreads synopsis: Set against the backdrop of Jerusalem's ancient rituals, Sotah is a contemporary story of sacred and profane love, and a young woman's struggle to reconcile tradition with freedom. Ninety three weeks on the best-seller list.vSotah introduces a family with three daughters approaching the age of marriage: Devorah, Dina and Chaya Leah. In the strict orthodoxy of their world, a Sotah is a wife suspected of infidelity who can be tried by ordeal to prove she is guiltless. Which sister could be capable of such a thought, let alone the act? Into the pious world of strict chaperoning and modest clothing, where a married woman's hair must never be seen by a man other than her husband--insinuates this serpent suggestion of evil. Ragen's powerful tale of three sisters spins endless questions: Which one? Could she? Did she? What changes could come into this orderly world because of unthinking actions?

Friday, June 14, 2019

Picture Book Biography - Carter Reads the Newspaper by Deborah Hopkinson

Biography of Carter G. Woodson
Illustrated by Don Tate
2019 Peachtree Publishers
HC $17.95
36 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  4.24 - 156 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers:  Line drawings of 27 noteworthy Black Americans
Includes a list of 43 black Americans with their dates, a timeline of Woodson's life, a full author's note and illustrator's note, and a long list of resources and bibliographic information.

1st line/s:  "Each February we celebrate Black History Month.  It's a time to honor heroes like Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King.  But there's one hero we sometimes forget.  Carter G. Woodson didn't help people escape from slavery, start a bus strike, or lead a movement of millions.  Yet without him, we might not have Black History Month.  This is his story."

My comments:  A great read aloud to introduce Carter G. Woodson to elementary students.  Great information and lovely illustrations.

Goodreads:  “Carter G. Woodson didn’t just read history. He changed it.” As the father of Black History Month, he spent his life introducing others to the history of his people.
          Carter G. Woodson was born to two formerly enslaved people ten years after the end of the Civil War. Though his father could not read, he believed in being an informed citizen. So Carter read the newspaper to him every day. When he was still a teenager, Carter went to work in the coal mines. There he met a man named Oliver Jones, and Oliver did something important: he asked Carter not only to read to him and the other miners, but also research and find more information on the subjects that interested them. “My interest in penetrating the past of my people was deepened,” Carter wrote. His journey would take him many more years, traveling around the world and transforming the way people thought about history.
          From an award-winning team of author Deborah Hopkinson and illustrator Don Tate, this first-ever picture book biography of Carter G. Woodson emphasizes the importance of pursuing curiosity and encouraging a hunger for knowledge of stories and histories that have not been told. Illustrations also feature brief biological sketches of important figures from African and African-American history.

54. The Body Keeper by Anne Frasier

#3 Det. Jude Fontaine
listened on Audible
read by Emily Sutton-Smith
Unabridged audio (9:10)
2019 Thomas & Mecer
300 pgs.
Adult Detective Series
Finished 6/14/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.53 - 1097 ratings
My rating:  5
Setting: Contemporary Minneapolis

First line/s:  "Once the bodies were loaded, she slid into the driver's seat, turned the ignition key --- and heard nothing but a terrifying click."

My comments:  Frasier is a superb writer and storyteller.  She puts you directly into the heads of each of her characters so that you can see and feel what they’re thinking and why they’re doing what they’re doing.  The icy cold Minneapolis winter setting is also a solid character in the story, and she has flushed out its attributes as clearly as those as her characters. I certainly hope that this does not finish the series for Jude Fontaine, though it does wrap up really nicely and well. I so want to re-engage with these characters. A brilliant book that I greatly enjoyed.

Goodreads synopsis: The Thriller Award–winning series continues as Detective Jude Fontaine finds a decades-old connection to missing children that will freeze her blood. A boy’s frozen body is found trapped in the ice of a Minneapolis lake.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Picture Book - The Little Guys by Vera Brosgol

Illustrated by the author
2019 Roaring Brook Press
HC $17.99
40 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.59 - 401 ratings
My rating:  2
Endpapers:  Forest Green
Illustrations:  Fun 
1st line/s:  "You are looking at the strongest guys in the whole forest.  Down here.  On this island.    We are the Little Guys.l  Yes, we are small.  But there are a lot of us.  Together we are strong, and we can get all we need."

My comments:  A large gang of bullies runs through the forest, stealing and terrorizing, but at the end supposedly learns a lesson......  Hmm, okay.  I won't be sharing this one.
Love the illustrations.  But that's all I love.

GoodreadsAn adorable cautionary tale from Caldecott Honoree Vera Brosgol
We are the Little Guys.
Yes, we are small. But there are a lot of us.
Together we are strong, and we can get all we need.

          The Little Guys might be small, but they aim to be mighty.
          As they head off to find breakfast, they can conquer anything through teamwork―cross deep waters, dig through obstacles, and climb the tallest trees. Nothing can stop them!
          But as they begin to amass more than they need, the creatures in the forest ponder―what happens when no one can stop the Little Guys?
          This slyly funny and rambunctious read-aloud explores how strength in numbers only works when the whole community unites together.

Postcards Received May and June 2019

1976.  Gouda, the Netherlands
Hello!  Greetings from Gouda, the Netherlands.  The city is famous for the "Gouda" cheese.  I like it very much.  Our city is between Rotterdam and Utrecht.  You can see in the front.  Wish you all the best! Els
1975.  Riga, Latvia
Hello!  My name is Taiga.  I'm retired and I live in Riga, capital of Latvia.  Have a great day!

1974.  Bortfeld, Germany
Guten Tag (=Dear) Chris!  My name is Anja and I live in Bortfeld, a small country village located in North Germany together with y husband and two grown-up sons (19 & 22).  My hobby is photography and design postcards like this one.  ENJOY POSTCROSSING!  Best Wishes,

1972.  Poland
Hello, My name is Barbara and I live in a small town in the southern Poland.  I love books especially classic ones, detective stories, and popular science about nature etc.  I'f just finished "The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate" by Jacqueline Kelly.  It's about a young girl who lives in American in the turn of the 19th and 20th century.  Very interesting!  Best Wishes,

1971.  Juist Island, Germany
"King Penguin Pair"
Hi Chris,  Many greetings from island Juist in Germany.  Cars are forbidden here - except rescue cars.  Transports are done by horses, people ride bicycles.  Happy Postcrossing!  Martina

1970.  Russia
madambarbatsutsa "The final flourish"
Greetings from Russia!
I'm Natalya, live in Zlatoust.  Our town is famous for masters of steel engraving.  Many tourists come here to go hiking in the National Park Taganay.  You can see high mountains, green forests and breathe fresh air.  I wish you bright and hot summer days!  Good luck!  Best wishes, 

1969.  Happy Birthday from Russia
Hello!  My name is Maria.  I live in the northern region of Russia - the city of Arkhangelsk.  I congratulate you on your birthday.  I wish to be surrounded by loved ones, do what brings pleasure, shine with happiness, joy, inspiration and love!  Happy postcrossing!

Monday, June 10, 2019

53. Beautiful Stranger by Christina Lauren

listened on Audible
read by Grace Grant and Jonathan R. Cole
Unabridged audio (8:06)
2013 Gallery Books
352 pgs.
Adult Romance
Finished 6/10/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.22 - 65,882 ratings
My rating:  2.75 (3)
Setting: Contemporary NYC

First line/s: "When my old life died it didn't go quietly.  It detonated."

My comments:  Certainly of those contemporary romances with lots of steamy parts, but the author includes a little more storyline that makes it more interesting than just reading smut.  An interesting diversion that I seem to have tripped over a bit in the last few months....

Goodreads synopsis:  Escaping a cheating ex, finance whiz Sara Dillon’s moved to New York City and is looking for excitement and passion without a lot of strings attached. So meeting the irresistible, sexy Brit at a dance club should have meant nothing more than a night’s fun. But the manner—and speed—with which he melts her inhibitions turns him from a one-time hookup and into her Beautiful Stranger.
          The whole city knows that Max Stella loves women, not that he’s ever found one he particularly wants to keep around. Despite pulling in plenty with his Wall Street bad boy charm, it’s not until Sara—and the wild photos she lets him take of her—that he starts wondering if there’s someone for him outside of the bedroom.
          Hooking up in places where anybody could catch them, the only thing scarier for Sara than getting caught in public is having Max get too close in private.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

52. Mayan Star by Howard Allan

read on my iPhone
2018 publication date
293 pgs.
Adult Mystery
Finished 6/9/2019 - took a great deal of time to get through
Goodreads rating:  3.85 - 400 ratings
My rating: 3
Setting: contemporary Yucatan, Mexico

First line/s:  "A jaguar.  Dr. Isabel Reyes was furious.  She'd been pilled away from her clinic with a waiting room full of mothers and their children -- all alive -- to look at the mutilated carcass of the norteamericano archaeologist."

My comments:  Flipping back and forth between points of view, we follow Dublin-born ex-Rabbi Simon Press, Mexican Antiquities Detective Benito Ruffino, and Dr. Isabel Reyes - along with some more minor characters - through a quagmire of deaths and decapitations all revolving around a stolen very ancient Mayan codex.  No one seems to know why there is so much importance tied to this particular antiquity until the very end (Spoiler Alert) when the Vatican becomes involved.  And the outcome is SO sick-religion-Catholic crazy that it nauseates me.  Sadly crazy.  Interesting possibilities.  Great setting, interesting characters, a little draggy, and a lot of anti-Mexican stereotypes that tended to be off-putting....

Goodreads synopsis:  This much is true: In 1562 Diego de Landa burned all the Mayan codices and began a suppression of the Mayan religion that was brutal even by 16th century conquistador standards. What we don’t know is why. 
     Excavations at a recently discovered Mayan site near Valladolid in the Yucatan unearth a codex – the first to be discovered in over 50 years. A mangled body is found among the ruins. It belongs to Father Colvin McNeery, an expert on the Gospel of Matthew, the only Gospel to mention the Star of Bethlehem. The local police say he was killed by a jaguar. 
     Dr. Isabel Reyes, renegade daughter of one of the wealthiest families in Mexico, is called away from her clinic to issue a death certificate. She wonders, when she sees the claw marks, what sort of jaguar is left-handed? 
     Ex-rabbi and scholar Simon Press has just seen another of his controversial lectures on the spread of Christianity end in violence. He’s back at his hotel nursing a scotch when he gets the news that his friend and colleague, Colvin McNeery, is dead in the Yucatan. Press has always been resentful of Christianity’s success; what he finds in McNeery’s translation of the codex will allow him to get even. 
     Detective First Class Benito Rufino of the Antiquities Police is pulled off a sting he’s spent nine months setting up, and ordered to Valladolid. He’s furious until he finds out why: a codex worth $500 million pesos is missing. 
     Leon Cortes - devout Catholic and a direct descendant of the Conquistador - has become drug overlord for all of the Yucatan because he believes his faith requires him to mortify his soul as his Savior mortified his body. Now he’s ordered by the Vatican to find the codex and send it to them. 
     The 1500 year old codex contains an account of a holy man, a savior who is born under a bright star to a virgin, performs miracles, dies a horrible death, and is resurrected. If McNeery’s translation of the codex is correct, then something is radically wrong with the conventional accounts of the European discovery of the Americas. Or - and this is the only other possibility - something is radically wrong with Christianity’s notion of itself. 
     Mayan Star is mystery/thriller with a Borgesian twist. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

51. Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah

listened on Audible
read by Lauren Ezzo
Unabridged audio (9:57)
2019 Lake Union Publishing
332 pgs.
Adult CRF
Finished 6/7/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.22 - 22,437 ratings
My rating:  4.5

First line/s:  "The girl could be a changeling.  She was almost invisible, her pale face, hoodie and pants fading into the twilit woods behind her.  Her feet were bare.  She stood motionless, one arm hooked around a hickory trunk , and she didn't move when the car crunched to the end of the gravel driveway and stopped a few yards away."

My comments:  There might be a few very small spoilers in the following response to this book.  Every now and then you read a story that is so touching and so different that you don't care as much about the coincidences and the too-good-to-be-true ending as you might usually.  This was a charming story from beginning to end, where a broken, genius, - and I must say, with a bit of a rolling eye: manipulative - child wins all the good things she deserves.  It's about people that aren't' as broken as they thought they were coming together to make things right.  And make things work.  I enjoyed everything about this book - the characters, the setting, and even the reality of too-stupid-to-be-real laws and child welfare rules.  Highly recommended.

Goodreads synopsis: An Amazon Charts, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Postbestseller.
          In this gorgeously stunning debut, a mysterious child teaches two strangers how to love and trust again.
          After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises.
          The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past.
          Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? And why aren’t Jo and Gabe checking the missing children’s website anymore?
          Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

50. The Shunning by Beverly Lewis

Heritage of Lancaster County #1
After I read this I realized that I had seen the movie to book #2 (The Confession?) and hated it....
listened on Audible
read by Marguerite Gavin
Unabridged audio (7:15)
originally 1997, currently Bethany House Publishers
288 pgs.
Adult "Christian Fiction"  (Amish Garbage)
Finished 6/6/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.14 - 23,280 ratings
My rating: 1
Setting: contemporary "Hickory Hollow," PA, Lancaster County

First line/s: "If the truth be known, I was more conniving than all three of my brothers put together.  Hard headed, too."

My comments:  Not my cup of tea in many, many ways....why do I keep doing this to myself?

Goodreads synopsis: The bestselling story of Katie Lapp, who longs for things forbidden to a young Amish woman. But an unexpected discovery reveals her true past.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Poetry Picture Book - Every Month is a New Year by Marilyn Singer

Illustrated by Susan L. Roth
2018 Lee & Low Books
HC $20.95
48 pgs.
Goodreads rating:  3.57 - 109 ratings
My rating:  4
Endpapers: Solid bright yellow 
Oddities:  The book is read like  calendar - spine along the top.  

My comments:  What a wonderful concept for a poetry book, poems that explain or commemorate New Year celebrations (of all sorts!) in New York City, Scotland, Russia, Iran, Thailand, Jordan, New Zealand, Chile, Ancient Egypt, India, Ethiopia, Israel, Ecuador, Spain, and China!Susan L. Roth's illustration, done in cut paper, are equisite.  A lovely anthology with great resources and information at the end.

Goodreads:  Around the world, people celebrate the start of the new year at midnight when December 31 becomes January 1. But not everyone celebrates on this date. In fact, during every month of the year, some group of people in some part of the world is celebrating the new year. Chinese New Year is celebrated in January or February. Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, is celebrated on March 21. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is celebrated in September or October. Diwali, celebrated in parts of India, falls in October or November. All these celebrations, and many others, have unique traditions and festivities that people observe. This collection of poems pay tribute to several of these fascinating festivities, some well-known and some lesser-known. Go on a whirlwind international tour of these diverse celebrations--enough to fill a twelve-month calendar, and more.

The Year Turns

We chose the date.
From the earth’s movement,
from the moon’s phases,
these clocks and calendars
we create.
in parks and squares,
in temples and houses –
the year

Casting Away Sins
Rosh Hashanah

This morning in the synagogue,
     we heard the shofar's loud, clear sound.
This evening in the house,
     we'll have apples dipped in honey,
          pomegranates with their ruby seeds.
But now, this sunny afternoon,
     we walk to the creek, our pockets full of bread.
"I'll tell you the truth.  I lost the money,"
     my big sister whispers.
"I'll tell you the truth.  I tore the dress,"
     I whisper back.
Then we toss the bread and our sins,
     and watch the flowing water carry them
          far, far away.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

49. Ascension by Victor Dixen

#1 Phobos
read the book - just translated (from French, I believe)
2015 original, 2018 in English
496 pgs.
YA SciFi
Finished 6/2/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.05 - 2990 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting:  On a spaceship to Mars, current time/dystopia

First line/s:

My comments:  OMG, I want to continue this story immediately, right now, vite, vite!  But it is literally impossible since the American edition will not be available till October 18th. Even though it's been out in English in Britain for a short while, I can't seem to find a way to get it.  Woe is me!
     This book was actually everything I'd hoped it would be, it was just plain fun.  Good guys vs. bad guys, innocents vs. unscrupulous.  And even though I dislike reality TV greatly, reading about it in a book worked really well for me-at least this time.  I can't wait to find out what is going to happen next....what a dirty trick, Victor of the toughest cliffhangers I've ever read.

Goodreads synopsis:  'This thrilling space odyssey will keep you turning pages late into the night.'
C. J. Daugherty, author of NIGHT SCHOOL
          Six girls, six boys. Each in the two separate bays of a single spaceship. They have six minutes each week to seduce and to make their choices, under the unblinking eye of the on-board cameras. They are the contenders in the Genesis programme, the world's craziest speed-dating show ever, aimed at creating the first human colony on Mars.
          Leonor, an 18 year old orphan, is one of the chosen ones. 
          She has signed up for glory.
          She has signed up for love.
          She has signed up for a one-way ticket.
          Even if the dream turns to a nightmare, it is too late for regrets.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

What's on Chirp

Chirp:  "New Deals on Audiobooks Every Day"

Waiting to read:

All Systems Red (Wells) (3:17)
An Heir to Thorns & Steel (Hogarth) Scholar w/chronic pain finds he's an elf (12:58)
Brain on Fire (Memoir) (Cahalen) (7:48)
Curiosity, The (Kiernan) Man thawed after 100 yrs in Arctic ice (15:38)
Dangerous in a Kilt (Durand)
The Diviners (Bray) (18:12)
Dovekeepers, The (Hoffman) (19:01)
Downstairs Girl (Bowling) YA (10:22)
The Familiars (Halls) (9:44)
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus (Bowling) Mid/YA? (5:27)
The Library of Lost and Found (Phaedra Patrick) (10:29)
Life We Bury (Eskers) (8:24)
Little Comfort (Hill) (10:34)
Many-Colored Land, The (May) (16:00)
Northanger Abbey (Austen) (8:23)
Playing with Temptation (Wilde) (7:06)
Stillborn Armadillos (Russell) (8:18)

Crappy/Can't Get Into/Abandoned
Shaker Murders, The (Kuhns) (9:21) 2019

Angels Burning (O'Dell)  (5)
Barbarian Prince- this was horrible, didn't finish, purchased in error...
Beyond the Night.
Blonde Hair Blue Eyes (Slaughter) prequel to Pretty Girls (4)
Bookshop on the Corner, The (Colgan) (9:13)
Borrowing of Bones, A (Munier) (11;58) (3.5)
Darkling Bride, The (Laura Anderson) (12:02)
Driven to Distraction (Foster) Steamy also on Kindle
Ghost Manuscript, The (Frieswick) AdMyst (2.5)
Hot as Puck (Valente) (6:39)
Hush Hush (Fitzpatrick) YA Fant (3)
Ice Planet Barbarians (Dixon) SciFiSteamy
Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating (Christina Lauren) (7:16)
Lessons from a One-Night Stand (Rayne) (3.5) Steam 2/4)
Line Between, The
Maneuver (Bliss) AdRom (1)
Once Gone (#1 Riley Paige) (Pierce) (7:34)
Open Season (Howard) Ad Rom/Myst (4)
Paradise Awakening (Burton) horrible!
Places No One Knows (Yovanoff)
Running from a Rock Star (Albright)
Sacrificed to the Dragon (Donovan) (6:30)
The Shunning (Lewis) AmishFict (1)
Starters (Price) YA Dystopia (4)
Steadfast (Davies) (5:43) Ad Steamy Romance (2.5)
The Substitution Order  (Clark) Mystery/Thriller  5
Take Me (Bella Andre) Steamy
Tamed by the Beast (Goodwin) Interstellar Brides (5:28)
There's Something About Sweetie (Menon) 2.5
Throttle Me  (Bliss) (8:19)
The Wish (Davids)
Worked Up (Bailey) 2
The Year of Saying Yes (Doyle) (12:02)