Monday, November 30, 2015

Feeling Stuck?

“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.”
- Mason Cooley*

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Turkey Surprise

This isn't the turkey most of you will be seeing today, but they are among the many blessings we experience on a daily basis. The local flock numbers about twenty turkeys, though there were only thirteen in the front yard this morning. I guess they were sleeping in on the holiday.

Wild Pennsylvania turkeys

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

"Blessed be the LORD God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be His glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with His glory; Amen, and Amen."

Psalm 72:18,19

Saturday, November 21, 2015

International Games Day

Thanks to the American Library Association!
Support your local library. Join in the fun. Celebrate International Games Day.

In honor of International Games Day, we are blowing off weekend chores and celebrating the holiday with family members. If you're not a gaming family, then may I make some suggestions?

Z-Man Games
For Everyone
Try Carcassonne. Perfect for mixed skill levels. Layers of strategy, or not. Straightforward play with minimal rules. Play cutthroat or mind-your-own-business style. Plenty of expansion sets for hard core gamers.

Fireside Games
For Families
Castle Panic. A fun and frantic co-operative game. Either everyone saves the castle from the invading hoards of monsters, or everyone is defeated as the castle is destroyed. Easy for all ages. Easy to learn. Easy to lose. The game that always ends with, "Let's play again."

Only Available through TICG site
For Card Sharks
The Totally Insane Card Game. Like Uno on steroids. Not for the faint of heart. Dozens of cards with confusing effects, but well worth the effort. Absolutely a must for barrels of laughs. Includes. "This hand is dead" which immediately ends the hand. "Zombie" cards which reduce your hand total to zero if the hand should be declared dead. And "Resurrection" which obviously resurrects the hand and play continues. My favorite card? "This is not my card!" When you pick this card, you immediately give it away.

R&R Games
For parties
We love Qwirkle or Sketchy for the family. Time's Up for adults.

Dig out your old copies of Dutch Blitz, Trivial Pursuit, Password, or Apples to Apples and get your game on.

For Board Gamers
Have you tried 7 Wonders? It's my current obsession. Also always up for a game of Galaxy Trucker. In the mood to be defeated? How about Shadows Over Camelot or Forbidden Island? Recently played Machi Koro for the first time. Light but fun. Guillotine anyone?

For Video Gamers
Star Wars Battlefront, of course, and Mario Kart or Gauntlet for a little retro action.

Please visit The Games Keep [561 E Gay St, West Chester, PA 19380, Phone:(484) 905-5533]
or your local games store. They need your support. Can't find one? Try the Steve Jackson Games store finder or this one from Fireside Games, or Rio Grande's locator for a retailer near you. Online, I like Funagain Games. What are you waiting for?

Happy International Games Day!

Please leave your family's favorite past time in the comments. 
We love to try new games.

Friday, November 20, 2015

PPBF: Snow

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Snow, by Uri Shulevitz
Written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz
Scholastic, 1998
Grade K-2, word count 707

Winter, Imagination

The Skies are gray.
The rooftops are gray.
The whole city is gray.

Snow is a simple picture book about a boy traveling through the town trying to convince the passers-by to look up and see the snow flakes beginning to fall. It perfectly captures a child's excitement as the first flake drifts down. He begins to count them, one, two, three. The bustling townsfolk can't be bothered or don't believe him. When the town is finally blanketed in white, magical things begin to happen. The boy dances with nursery rhyme characters from the local bookstore and off into the night.

What I Love:
I love how Snow is so simple, yet so complex. At the heart of the story is childlike wonder at simple miracles like snow. The town is transformed from gray to white. The buildings take on a fairy tale quality, which is emphasized by the magic of the storybook characters coming to life. I love the grumpy, goofy, ridiculous members of the town, too absorbed in themselves to notice or to care about the first snowfall. Uri Shulevitz is a master at telling the story through subtle color change. He evokes emotion through placement of the illustrations on the page. At first the pictures are confined to small squares with lots of white space on the page, then gradually, the illustrations go to full bleed (off the edges of the page) as the town is buried in snow. This book is a lovely example of how illustration transforms text into something more, though in this case, the illustrator / author planned the visuals as a storytelling element right from the inception.

via Craftionary
1. You can purchase a lovely signed poster from Snow on Books of Wonder.
2. Read Uri Shulevitz's book Writing With Pictures. (Review by Harold Underdown) I promise, you'll look at creating picture books in a whole new way.
3. Craft a collection of paper snowflakes gathered by Decornos or try the app from Flash and Math to understand the geometry involved using virtual paper snowflakes.
4. Make a variety of snowglobes from
5. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Beth
Reviewed by Susanna

Reviewed by Joanna
Reviewed by Joanne

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for November 20, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Understanding Ourselves Through Books

"Why are picture books important? Because they show us the world. . . . We learn what it’s like to be someone other than ourselves, and in the process, come to understand ourselves better."
-Sophie Blackall*

Bookplate courtesy the Bilingual Librarian

*Via Picture Book Month

Friday, November 13, 2015

PPBF: Compost Stew

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Compost Stew:
An A to Z Recipe for the Earth
Compost Stew
An A to Z Recipe For the Earth

Written by Mary McKenna Siddals
Illustrated by Ashley Wolff
Tricycle Press, 2010
Grade K-2

Gardening, Environment, How-to

Environmental chefs
here's a recipe for you
to fix from scratch
to mix a batch
of compost stew.

Compost Stew is part alphabet book, part science how to. Told in rhyme, the text goes from A to Z, adding suggestions of unlikely items you can actually add to your compost heap. Apple cores, bananas, and coffee grounds, of course, but also quarry dust and laundry lint. The book includes links to composting instructions and community garden tips. Perfect to get kids involved in community service, environmentalism, and outdoor activity.

What I Love:
The author has set herself quite a challenge, to inform and instruct in rhyme. Even the disclaimer and end note are in rhyme. The finished product is charming and fun to read aloud. I was excited to learn a few unusual ingredients which will benefit my garden. And who can resist Ashley Wolff's paint and collage illustrations? She creates a colorful cast of characters from magazines, fabric, and newsprint, kids of all kinds in polka dots and floral hats. These illustrations are perfect for the recycling theme, from the endpapers to the endnotes and everything in between.

DIY compost tumbler by Ian and Kristina Urquhart
1. Download a PDF for starting a community compost. Check out these articles on composting with kids from Gardening KnowHow or Green Mom Guide.
2. Build your own rotating compost barrel: Bucket-sized from Urban Farm Online or one that's barrel-sized from OneHundredDollarsAMonth.
3. Get a head start on next years garden. Redwood City Seed Company offers free seeds to kids with an adult order.
4. Learn more about the science of earth worms from National Geographic Kids, then build a worm farm with PlanetKidz.
5. Mary Siddals has included a bucketful of links and lesson plans which are a perfect compliment to the book.
6. Check out these and more Perfect Picture Books at your local library.

Reviewed by Sue

Reviewed by Stacy

Reviewed by Joanne
Reviewed by Kirsten

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for November 13, 2015 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.