Friday, July 6, 2018

Create! A Girl’s Guide to DIY, Doodles, & Design

True to its name, Create! A Girl’s Guide to DIY, Doodles, & Design breaks it’s content up into those three categories. The 28 DIYs include Pom Pom garland, felt-flowered mirror, cross string art, and my favorite, book page embroidery. The 11 doodles include how to create your own hand-lettering style, Bible verse poster, and one I find particularly interesting, progressive drawing. The 15 designs include glitter button earrings, silverware organizer jewelry holder, and several duct tape projects.

Each project has at least one full color photo, a description of the project, a materials list, and step by step instructions. Some include additional elements such as helpful hints, ways to jazz it up, and rarely, Bible verses.

The Christian projects include steps instructing prayer during the process as well.

In the back of the book there is an index of materials that lists each project that uses the material underneath. Because each uses multiple materials, I think this would mostly be helpful for shopping and knowing, for example, if you find a deal on picture frames that two different projects use them.

The book is a good suze, brightly colored, and would make a really fun gift for a child who loves crafting, but for parents who need a little help with ideas. This book is a great way to express creativity, but most would require heavy adult participation, at least until the reader is in her teens.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but I was not required to post a positive review.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

A Breath of Hope by Lauraine Snelling

A Breath of Hope is the second book of the Under Northern Skies series by Lauraine Snelling. It continues the story of the Carlson family—Rune, Signe, Bjorn, Knute, Leif, and Kirstin—who are still adapting to their new life after leaving Norway for America in the first book. Challenges continue with the difficult uncle they had moved there to help, as their relationship with the aunt and their new community continues to grow.

At first, the book is divided between their story and a story back in Norway where other relatives put plans in motion to join them in America. Raising money for the voyage was difficult, but eventually Rune's younger siblings Nilda and Ivar were able to save enough for one ticket, the other paid on credit from uncle Einar.

When they arrive, they quickly learn about Einar's terrible temper and how the community had been pushed away. Through the book though, the family learns to stand up for themselves more and more, while still trying to be loving to their family members no matter how difficult. When Einar suffers an injury, things become even more tense with him around the house all the time. The Carlson begin to work on their new house and the community steps into help, too.

This book is called A Breath of Hope for the way that despite everything that has happened, the family works to repair relationships and support one another and the community.

The story itself is pretty slow moving, with most just telling about everyday work around the house, farm, and in the woods cutting down trees. There is some drama and scandal early on, hints of future love interests for Nilda, and things do pick up in the last three chapters. Overall, the family is an interesting one to read about, but it really drug on in the middle for me. Sometimes it seemed hastily put together, as my mother pointed out when she read it in a minor plot line of Rune attempting to make skis, he mentioned that his father had made some in Norway, but then soon after says that his father hadn't made skis.

"You made skis before?"
Rune shook his head. "We used the ones my far made but could not bring them along. I know he used hickory..." (51)

"Rune checked in the press he had build to turn up the tips of the skis after he had soaked the planes and smoothed black ash. How would he know when it was dry? If only here were someone he could ask for advice. His far had not made skis, although he made anything else that was needed out of wood." (88)

Though it doesn't affect the story at all, this and other instances made the story feel as though it were rushed. I often felt that details were provided were completely unnecessary and slowed he story down.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the first in the series, as I felt it was very true to the series. Though this book was a little disappointing for me, I would still look forward to reading the next in the series because of the set up this book provided for future stories.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Go to Sleep, Sheep illustrated by Sydney Hanson

“The silly sheep in Bedtime Barnn don’t want to go to bed! Will they ever tire out?”
Go to Sleep, Sheep is described as being a book to relax children who insist they are not sleepy. The pages describe in cute rhyming stanzas how the four young sheep delayed bedtime by asking for more playtime, snacks, eater, stories, and finally praying before snuggling into the hazy for the night. Most pages end with, “Go to sleep, Sheep!” Though two pages break from that trend to say “Ready for sleep, Sheep?” At the beginning and s”Sweet dreams, sheep” at the end.

The illustrations by Sydney Hanson are curr and fit the calming mood of the book. Other animals from the barn are also included in the illustrations, though not mentioned in the text. These include a curled up cat, anright eyed baby pig, a foal and it’s mother, a calf and it’s mother, and even a baby goat with it’s mother. The pokey hay are the only sharp lines in the book, everything is rounded without texture. Each of the sheep hVe a different accessory to make them unique: one with glasses, one with a scarf, one with a hair bow, and one that has one, matching the mother sheep.

The cutest moment is when a little sheep tells her mother that she loves her most of all.

This is a sturdy board book cut out in the shape of a barn.  The moon on the cover is glittery. This story is just the right length for bedtime.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The Push: A Story of Friendship by Patrick Gray, illustrated by Justin Skeesuck and Matt Waresak

The Push: A Story of Friendship by Patrick Gray, illustrated by Justin Skeesuck and Matt Waresak is a picture book about two boys who bond over a love of baseball. One of the boys is in a wheelchair, but it doesn’t get in the way of their fun times.

John, the boy in the wheelchair, entertains his friend Marcus with jokes that are shared in the book. He also helps him with. Marcus make sure that John is always included and doesn’t have to sit out of activities. Marcus feeds, dresses, and pushes John in his wheelchair. 

“I push you in a wheelchair, but you push me to be a better person,” (26).

This book has a lot of text and small print, meant to be read to a child. I think this story would be great for a child in a wheelchair, children who go to school with someone in a wheelchair, or just any child as an example of how to be helpful and kind.

Even the illustrations live out the message of the book. On the last page there is a page called “The Story behind the Artwork,” which explains that author Patrick Gray and illustrator-friend Justin Skeesuck created this book together, not letting Justin’s inability to use his hands due to a progressive disease stop them. They found illustrator Matthew Waresak who ha a similar art style to Justin to outline the illustrations and then Justin used a voice responsive program to fill them in with watercolors. The end result is beautiful on the page, and in its message. 

I highly recommend this book for older children due to the large amount of text. Some pages have several paragraphs of around 4 sentences. 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review.

Monday, April 30, 2018

I Love You, Little One by Bonnie Rickner Jensen, illustrated by Donna Chapman

I Love You, Little One by Bonnie Rickner Jensen, illustrated by Donna Chapman is a padded board book in the Really Woolly brand.

It features 19 spreads each with a title that begins with “I Love You” and then roughly describes a theme, such as “I Love You to Love Others” and “I Love You When You’re Playing.”  A short Bible verse is followed by a two-stanza (four lines each) poem and a small illustration. The facing page has a short two-line prayer and a large illustration.

I found the themes to not be very distinct—you couldn’t really match them to specific situations. Instead, you’d probably pick one at random to read to a child. The poems are just okay.

The illustrations are the highlight of this book. They are colorful pastels featuring the Really Woolly animals. My favorites show a little duck with a newspaper folded into a sailor hat and two mice wheeling a wagon of marshmellows to toast over a fire.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Where the Fire Falls by Karen Barnett

Where the Fire Falls: A Vintage National Parks Novel by Karen Barnett tells the story of painter Olivia Rutherford set in the 1920s. The story is part mystery part adventure part drama, but mostly romance.

Olivia is trying to hide a dark secret of her family’s past, but circumstances keep bringing the past to the present. In a chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity, Olivia is contacted to paint Yosemite for a magazine—all expenses paid. On top of that, het art dealer has found a wealthy couple to invest in her work, and they agree to go to the park with her to pose for her paintings.

Olivia becomes fast friends with the wife, but the husband is full of bad intentions. Park guide Clark becomes more than a friend after initially dismissing Olivia’s high-soceity persona. The real Olivia cares not for status or fame, but just to support her two younger sisters through school.

Paintings are destroyed, a body appears at the bottom of a crevice, and a kidnapping round out the intense second half of the book. Old friends and old enemies both appear in unexpected drama-filled ways.

The romance portion of the story is predictable and less interesting than the other parts of the book. Some of the drama was a little over the top and really stretched my suspension of disbelief. The burning question of this novel is never resolved.

I really enjoyed the descriptions of the park. I would’ve loved to see this book as full-color with showing the paintings. The way they were described made me really want to see it. I’d recommend this book as an adventure for fans of Yosemite.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to post a positive review.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

"Finding Gobi for Little Ones" by Dion Leonard, illustrated by Lisa Manuzak

Finding Gobi for Little Ones is a 24-page board book. The pages are flimsy board for older children, which the publisher suggests is appropriate for ages 4-8. Notably, this is the same range as the paper children's book version, Gobi: A Little Dog with a Big Heart.

All versions of this book (also including an adult version and a young reader's version Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog's Big Journey) tell the true story of an adult ultramarathon runner, Dion Leonard, running a race in the Gobi desert and encountering a little dog that runs along with him. He names the dog Gobi and she runs the entire race with him, facing challenges such as a dangerous river crossing. The theme throughout is repeated that they will be forever friends.

This version of the book has the same illustrations as Gobi, the paper children's book version. However, there is just over half of the amount of text, suggesting that though the publisher classifies this as the same age range, this is the younger version of the book (also because it has board book pages). There is less dialogue and the text more closely relates to the illustrations.

Of the three children's versions of the book, this one is my favorite. I really enjoyed the illustrations, with the adorable Gobi pup winking, begging, and jumping for joy. The amount of text is just right, without including unnecessary additional text. I do like that the young reader's version gave a more full account of what happened after the race (and the paper version even had an author's note explaining some of the aftermath as well). However, the core of this story is the race and the incredible dog that could keep up with the runners.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, but was not required to post a positive review.