Sunday, July 29, 2012

Byron Barton

My Car; Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs; Machines at Work; Freight Trains (and more!)

I love to read and I want Toddler Train Man to feel the same, so we read together, go to the library, and visit the bookstore (ok, maybe he mostly likes the train table there, but sometimes we look at books too). So while I really enjoy “my” books, I’ve found some books for him that I can read ALMOST as many times as he’d like. Byron Barton is a toddler author whose books fit that category.

Last summer the little guy won My Car by Byron Barton for participating in our library’s summer reading program. We loved it. Since then we’ve tried several of Barton’s other books and haven’t been disappointed. Sure, some are more appealing than others, but part of that is the day and mood, not to mention current interests. I love the big, vibrant illustrations and the simple, rhythmic text. Barton’s books cover our interests well: trucks, trains, and dinosaurs. Is there anything else worth reading about?! There are books available in both board book and picture book format. If you have a toddler, I’d highly recommend checking out whichever of Barton’s books tickle your fancy!

What kid/toddler books do/did you enjoy? Favorite author or subject? What's your record for number of times reading the same book in a day? 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs

This is another book from Quirky Bookworm's summer reading program. Click over to see other readers' thoughts on Drop Dead Healthy. For my reviews of other summer reading books click here or here.

Read while home alone? Sure. Unless exercise and healthy eating frighten you.
Tissues needed? no, but there are some touching moments
Overall rating: 5 stars

In Drop Dead Healthy A.J. Jacobs works to become the healthiest man alive. He seeks to improve himself piece by piece: heart, respiratory system, ears… After doing research and speaking to experts, Jacobs experiments with a variety of methods to better each given part. Some examples: he wears headphones to reduce excessive noise, he practices “chewdaism,” and he tries a variety of exercises and diets including a paleo plan that features eating raw meat and exercising by throwing around boulders. Jacobs finds that going to extremes is one way to discover his happy medium.

It took me a bit longer to read this book—because it’s non-fiction and also because I felt a little guilty sitting down to read it: the sedentary lifestyle causes MANY health concerns! I tried standing to read a few times, but it just didn’t work out for me. It was well worth the time--it was an excellent book. Another book I think I’d like is one written by Jacobs’ wife. Living with his often wacky ideas would make for a compelling tale!

I was impressed with Jacobs’ research—he must be quite an expert himself now. Yet for all of his knowledge and all the information that found its way into the book, it was a very humorous story that I highly recommend.

What health trends have you tried? What would you never try? Could you commit to self-improvement one part at a time for two years? What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever heard of someone doing in the name of health?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

Jessica at Quirky Bookworm created a summer reading program--one of my favorite things ever! Click over to her website for other reviews of Pardonable Lies. I've also reviewed another Maisie book--click here to read it.

Read while home alone? sure
Tissues needed? not really
Overall rating: 5 stars

In book 3 of the Maisie Dobbs series “Psychologist and Inspector” Maisie seeks to uncover the truth about two young English soldiers who didn’t come home. Her efforts are hampered by the secrecy of officials, being followed, revisiting her own service in WWI France, and even attempts on her life. Will Maisie’s usual cool, determined demeanor overcome these obstacles as she pursues the truth?

I love Maisie Dobbs! Her time seems more proper, so even in the midst of murder and mayhem it somehow appears gentler. It’s been awhile since I read the early books in this series, and though I enjoy the later books, this was even better. There’s suspense, danger, and excitement, as well as quiet introspection—a masterfully woven story!

Is there a time period you especially enjoy reading? Do you tend to prefer the earlier or later books in a series? What series are your favorites?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

I always loved reading the children's books nominated for awards in the states where I lived. This book won the Iowa award this year.

Winner:    Iowa Children’s Choice Award, 2011-2012
                  (it also won awards in other states including Maine and Vermont)

Smile is a graphic novel chronicling the life of Raina as she goes through middle school and into high school. She experiences good friends and not-so-good friends, orthodontics with serious complications, siblings, crushes, major and minor embarrassments, and even an earthquake. Through it all, can Raina “Smile?”

I don’t have much experience with graphic novels, so it took a bit for me to get into that format. Once I did, Smile was quick, easy, and fun to read. It seemed like a sort of stream of consciousness style of writing, but managed to masterfully work in all kinds of important themes. The main character and author share the same name, so I’m not sure if this is meant to be a memoir of sorts—it certainly has many characteristics of middle/high school that I remember.

I can see graphic novels being really appealing to young adult readers and with a story that’s easy to relate to, I’m not surprised at all that Smile won multiple awards. I certainly recommend it!

In what format would you create a memoir? What do you most remember about middle/high school?