Friday, June 28, 2013

Traveling to Israel

Being summer time I guess I have been thinking of traveling. Unfortunately because of my current health condition I am not able to travel. So, I am spending my summer traveling vicariously through the pages of books. What a wonderful way to visit so many different places, explore, and still be able to sleep in my own bed each night!
Sammy Spider's First Trip to Israel
by Sylvia Rouss

So today I traveled to Israel with a colorful little spider. Actually Sammy, the little spider, is a stowaway in a model airplane given to a young boy, Josh,right before he and his family leave on a family trip to Israel. As the family travels through Israel, Sammy learns the various meanings of "Shalom" (hello, goodbye, & peace). He also describes his experiences strolling along Disengoff Street, on a farm, the Western Wall, the Negev desert, the beaches of Eilat, floating in the Dead Sea, and then celebrating Shabbat at the synagogue using his five senses (I didn't realize spiders had five senses like people, but it is a fictional story, right?). When he returns home he reviews each of the senses as he describes his adventure to his mother.

The illustrations are bright and cheerful and seem to be created using cut / torn paper (solids and possibly handmade and dyed). The detail included in the illustrations is wonderful considering there are no drawn elements.The Jewish culture is depicted in a respectful manner and clearly gives a broad picture of the various areas to travel while in Israel.

The text and illustrations for this book have a copyright year of 2002. I believe the ebook version is how this book is being re-released at this point. There are ten other titles in the Sammy Spider Ebook series. Kar-Ben Publishing is a division of Lerner Publishing Group dedicated to publishing "fiction, nonfiction, and activity books reflecting the rich diversity of today's Jewish community".

I would recommend this title to be included the ebook collection of libraries serving young children. I don't believe the title should be restricted to libraries with a large Jewish population as this story can be informative not only on travel, Israel, and the Jewish culture, but also the five senses, which we all have in common.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Kar-Ben Publishing has provided a complimentary electronic copy of this book through

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Funny Little Bird

A Funny Little Bird
by Jennifer Yerkes

A Funny Little Bird is a charming book about a white bird that, when backed with the white pages of the book, cannot be seen. He is sad because he is ignored. He then discovers the beauty surrounding him can help boast his confidence. However, he also discovers this new found self assurance provides predators the opportunity to see him. He learns one can be proud, but must be discreet in order to stay safe.

The illustrations add a wonderful element to this moral story. The creation of the little bird through the use of no line, or elimination art is fantastically clever, and a perfect artistic element for this book.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Sourcebooks, Inc. has provided a complimentary electronic copy of this book through

Road Trips, Flights, and Space Travel?

I love to travel. In fact it is one of my very favorite things to do. The only problem, I hate to fly. I am really terrified. In my opinion, if God had intended for me to fly, He would have put wings on my back. As a child my family traveled all a great deal. We traveled back and forth to the Texas coast to visit my paternal grandparents a number of times each year. We also traveled to a number of different states so my genealogist father could, "Search for old dead grandfathers". I remember so well packing the car for our trips. I would get so excited. We had a four door Chevrolet (I don't remember what kind ~ it was blue) and I would usually have the entire backseat to myself. Sometimes my maternal grandmother would travel with us, and then I would have to share the backseat. But, when it was just the three of us, the backseat was mine! My dad would  put a board in the backseat so I would have a wider area to sit , lie down, play,etc. This was the time before seat belts were required of everyone. I had a huge area to play. I remember my big plastic tub (I still have it) where all of my books, games, puzzles, crayons, etc. were stored. I could us it as a desk because of the flat surface of the lid. I didn't have a television, radio, video games, or anything electronic. I didn't need it. I had my books and my dolls to keep me busy and my blanket and pillow when I got sleepy. Those road trips were wonderful.

As a tween / teenager, my maternal grandmother took me on a number of bus trips. We traveled all around the United States. First starting with short trips to Eureka Springs, Arkansas to see the Passion Play and then to the Ozark Mountains of Missouri to see the Shepherd of the Hills. We then moved on to longer trips.On two different occasions we took three week trips. The first we traveled up the middle of the United States and then up into Canada and then back down the eastern coast. The second trip (my mother went with us on this trip as my grandmother had become ill, but still wanted to go on the trip) we traveled the west coast and again up into Canada and back down through the middle of the United States. I was always the youngest person on these trips. The next person closest to my age was usually in their forties (which now doesn't seem so old!) This is how I was able to visit the majority of the 50 states and will always hold a very special place in my heart for the experiences she provided for me during these trips.

While my husband and I were dating we went on a road trip to Arkansas for a family reunion. We traveled with his mom and dad in their conversion van. I have to say, it was quite a trip, as his father was used to long haul driving and wasn't much into stopping for anything. Bathroom breaks were few and far between, at least it seemed that way at the time.

When we got married, my husband and I continued the road trip tradition. In fact, when we returned from our honeymoon (we flew) we decided to go out to Arizona to visit my husband's grandmother. We had a wonderful time on this trip. It was a great adventure, and I loved staying with Ma and visiting with my new husband's aunts and uncles.

 Even before we had our son we traveled on road trips.My husband took great care of our traveling. He was the driver. For this particular trip we borrowed his parent's conversion van. One of the most memorable days was when we had to detour around a forest fire. The only road we could take was an extremely bumpy gravel road. I was pregnant at the time and I am here to say bouncing on the gravel road and a pregnant woman's bladder do not mix well. I still remember the bouncing and bumps eighteen years later!

After our son was born, because we loved traveling in the van so much, my husband decided to purchase one for ourselves. I have to say it was one of the best decisions we ever made. It allowed us to continue to travel around the country. My parents would travel with us most of the time. We traveled to Chicago, Washington D.C., St. Augustine, and Orlando any number of times, visiting tourist spots, cemeteries (remember my dad is a genealogist!), libraries, museums, and any number of other great locations along the way. We followed the American Library Association's annual conference most of the time traveling to the conference city in order to attend the events. It was a perfect way to mix business and pleasure since three of the five of us are librarians.

Through the years we have taken many road trips. We have traveled with his parents, with my parents, by ourselves, with our son, and even with friends. Each trip has been enjoyable and fun in their own way.  I have to admit, if I am going to travel, I would prefer it to be a road trip. However, that is not always possible.

Five years ago, my parents surprised all of us with a trip to Menorca and Italy. My husband's family originally came from Menorca and my father wanted to go and do some research in the library. It was the greatest trip of my lifetime, even though we had to fly. (I have been told there are no plans to build a bridge long enough to drive across the ocean to get me to Europe by car!) The five of us had a fabulous trip together. We saw so many wonderful sites and had such awesome experiences I think it will be a long time until that trip will be exceeded ~ at least for me, for my son it is a different story.

My son returned from his latest trip abroad yesterday. This is his third trip overseas in the past four years. He went with all of us to Menorca and Italy. Since then he has returned to Italy and gone on to Germany and Prague. His latest trip took him to Spain, where he spent a week in Seville. He was there for his "Frog" Camp (TCU Honors College Freshman Camp).

TCU Honors College Class of 2017
aboard Columbus's Piñta

I have to admit, when he asked us about going on the trip to Italy, German, and Prague, I was reluctant. I didn't want my baby (okay, he was 16) to go off to a foreign country if I was not going to be there. However, I was convinced when a family friend, who was leading the group, talked to me and said she took care of all of the kids as if they were her own. I was no less worried the entire time he was away, but I was comforted knowing he was with friends. For this last trip, he did not know anyone going on the trip. I did not know anyone going on the trip. However, I trusted my, now well traveled, son. I knew he was able to handle the trip and everything he would have to do along the way. He had a fabulous time abroad and is currently planning two more trips for next year!

How Do You Burp in Space?: And
Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know
by Susan E. Goodman

All of this reminiscing and traveling down memory lane has to do with the book I just finished reading, How Do You Burp in Space?: And Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs to Know by Susan E. Goodman. Now I know that space travel has been occurring my entire lifetime and for many years prior to my birth. I also know there are currently people bidding to be one of the first tourists in space. What I didn't expect was a book of tips to be written at this point for those space tourists. I really thought it was too far in the future to even be considered with at this time. In fact, the reason I chose this particular book to read was the title. I mean who doesn't want to know how to burp in space?!?

Ms. Goodman's delightful book for children (8 - 12) targets the exact population for potential space tourists. I found the layout of the book to be well organized with chapter headings including : Planning Your Trip, Getting There, Getting Oriented, Accommodations, Dining, What to See and Do, Going Home, and Learning More About Space on Earth. The text included in each chapter is clear and very informative. It is quick read and provides a number of interesting facts. Did you know that it costs approximately "$10,000 for the shuttle to carry each pound of weight into orbit"? Each astronaut is limited to 2 pounds of personal items. Plan your packing very carefully.

I was intrigued with the information provided in this tourist guide and truly believe anyone with a passion for space will also find this book an enjoyable read. Did you know your watch will not help you to know the time when in space? Astronauts measure time using Mission Elapsed Time (MET). The time begins at launch and is read as how many days, hours, minutes, and seconds have elapsed since take off. Throughout the book there are beautiful photographs showing various shots taken while in space of the earth, astronauts, and equipment. Also included are astronaut quotes, and personal stories of space travel. The inclusion of astronaut expressions, favorite menu items for the astronauts from other countries working on the International Space Station, and exactly how one uses the bathroom in space will be points especially favored by most readers.

I'm not sure if I would ever consider taking a luxury trip to the moon, but if I were to pursue such an adventure I now know a little bit more about planning my trip, how to prepare myself for launch and re-entry, as well as the items I should not pack for the journey.

I would highly recommend this book for school and public libraries serving children from 8 - 12. I'm sure younger and older children alike would be interested in the topic and find this book to be not only fun, but also very informative. Who knows, the readers of this book may in fact take their own children on a very different "road" trip in the future. One that leads them on a journey to places far beyond our imagination.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Bloomsbury USA has provided a complimentary electronic copy of this book through

Monday, June 24, 2013

Preparing for the First Day of School

Okay, I know summer has just begin, but we all need to prepare for the first day of school because it will be here before we know it. Believe me, I am not counting down the days to the first day of school like we count down for the first day of summer. It's not really the same. By the time summer comes around we are all exhausted and need a break. But do we ever really stop? I mean look at me. I'm still reading and reviewing books. Granted, it is one of my passions - to read and share books, but it is also a part of my job. I read and review books so I can select the very best books for my students to read to enjoy. I build my collection and my orders throughout the summer based on these books. So in a way, throughout the summer I am preparing for the first day of school.

So, now I want to share a book that might be just the right book for some of the parents that will be bringing their dear four-year-olds to my campus on the first day of school ~ August 26th. Some of the students are so excited and can barely wait for their parents to let go of their hand when they walk in the classroom, others hold on tight and have to be physically held in the classroom as the parents leave. I would say the majority of the tears come from the parents though. So, maybe this will be just the book parents and their soon to be students need to read together in preparation for the coming school year. This book is one in a series of three titles in the Edward Almost Ready Books.

Edward Almost Goes to School
by Rosemary Wells
Edward shows that he is not quite ready to go to school. His parents help to get him ready for his first day of play school, but come the end of the week his teacher states that not everyone is ready at the same time. 

I like Edward and I know young children preparing to go off to school for the first time can relate to him. The best part of this book is where the story ends. Most people would look at the ending as the parents giving into Edward's fears of school by removing him from the situation. However, I see it a bit differently. (I'm not sure if this is the author's intent, but this is my interpretation none the less.)

The teacher makes the comment to the parents on Friday that not everyone is ready at the same time for events / activities. As the family leaves all of his new friends tell Edward to be ready soon so they can play with him again. I take this ending as an opportunity for Edward's parents to discuss the week's events over the weekend and hopefully encourage Edward to think of all of the fun his new friends will be having in the coming week. If this occurs, then maybe by the following Monday, Edward would be ready!

I highly recommend this re-issued Edward title to be added to public and school library collections. It is a perfect book to read to young children prior to the start of school to help them realize they are not the only ones scared to go to school.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Open Road Publishing has provided a complimentary electronic copy of this book through

Here I Am

Here I Am
by Patti Kim
I work in a school district with a student enrollment 98 countries and 56 languages. I would recommend this wordless picture book for all levels of libraries in my school district. It is a beautifully illustrated story of a young boy moving from his home in Korea to the United States. Readers of all ages can identify with the young boy's anger and frustration in the beginning of the book because of the changes that are occurring in his life. The young boy has a red seed he holds on to as a reminder of his far away home, but when he looses it out the window one day he begins to explore his new home. This exploration reveals all of the wonders he has now, here.

The author takes the opportunity at the end to share her story. She offers others who have immigrated to another country or who are facing challenges in their life to read her story and understand they are not alone.

I would highly recommend this title for all libraries, and for families who are sponsoring a child for a foreign exchange program. I know the distance can make anyone homesick, but maybe this wonderful book can help ease the sadness by showing the excitement that is all around, if you just take a moment to see where you are.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Capstone Press has provided a complimentary electronic copy of this book through

How Far Do You Love Me?

How Far Do You Love Me?
by Lulu Delacre
For those of you who follow my blog regularly, you will remember my son just graduated from high school. The day after graduation he headed off to freshman orientation. I was a bit overwhelmed that he was leaving so quickly to go off to college, but I have to admit I handled it very well. Last week he left for Spain for his freshman camp experience. When I read this book all I could think about was how many miles separate us right now and how much more love I feel for him. I know he is having a wonderful time because we chat on line, but it still does not diminish the amount of love in my heart for him. Whenever we say goodbye we always say, "I love you" and then race to see who can say, "most" first. I have to admit I was not familiar with the game that inspired this book. For years I have told my husband and my son, "I love you to the moon and back an infinite number of trips", but I never played this bedtime game with my son. The game, How Far Do You Love Me? is briefly described at the end of the book as a game to play with someone special in your life and to "let your imagination soar" as you describe all of the places around the world, and beyond, in which you can show the distance of your love. I think this is a great new tradition we can bring to our family, and hopefully you can consider it for yours as well.

Beautifully illustrated in soft pastels, this story carries the readers (children and their parents) across the seven continents and a number of different cultures in order to show the power of love between a parent and child. From the Grand Canyon in Arizona to the Alps Mountain Range in Switzerland and then on to Kangaroo Island in Australia the distances of love are vast and beautiful. The text provides information about the various cultures depicted in the illustrations and the location is identified in the bottom corner for each two page spread.

Near the end there is a two page spread which includes the question, "How far do you love me?" in over twenty languages. A map concludes the book, showing all of the various locations depicted throughout.

This is a wonderful book to share with a special child at bed time or anytime. Reading to a child is a perfect way to show them you care about and love them. How Far Do You Love Me? can spark a conversation about how far you love each other and no matter the distance between you that love will never fade.

I would highly recommend this title for any library with a children's collection. It will be a great addition to a family library as well. I would recommend the book for children from four to eight years of age.

*To comply with new guidelines introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Lee & Low Books, Inc. has provided a complimentary electronic copy of this book through