Personally, 2011 has been a wonderful book year! I always enjoy keeping track of what I’ve read, rating books, and sharing recommendations. Similar to Word Press’ daily post, goodreads encouraged readers to set a reading goal for 2011. Mine wasn’t as daring as other readers, but I completed and read beyond my goal. I’m now going to share my favorite books from 2011. These aren’t full book reviews, instead just mini highlights.
True this book was huge, but it’s been on my ‘to-read’ list for a very long time. I’ve always enjoyed the movie and since the book is normally better, I decided to conquer the book. Well, I can’t watch the movie anymore since it doesn’t give the book justice. There’s a little of everything: romance, revenge, suspense, murder, and more. The book took me about a month to read, but it was highly worth it. I also listened to the book, which added to the excitement.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
I would describe The Shadow of the Wind as a book lovers book. Many scenes are within an old bookstore where all the books have a soul. The book is full of suspense and mystery. I don’t want to share too much, but this is a book that I couldn’t put down and I was sad when it was finished.
A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
Perhaps I was attracted to the book, since the black Labrador on the cover is similar to my own dog. The entire book is from the dog’s perspective how he tries to please his owners with a purpose. The book had me laughing aloud and crying. I enjoyed A Dog’s Purpose so much that I’ve already read it again. If you’re hesitant to read this book, since all dogs in dog books seem to die I’d reconsider this book. It has an interesting twist.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
This book is a coming of age story about a girl living in Brooklyn, New York. She experiences struggles and takes comfort in reading. She’s very curious about her world and wants to gain information.
Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland
This book takes place the turn of the twentieth century in New York City. It is the true story of a woman’s relationship with Louis Comfort Tiffany and stained glass.
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer
I first read this book, because my library had a community reads together. It is the true story about a young boy living in Malawi, who deals with poverty, famine, and daily struggles to survive. He’s forced to leave school, since his family can’t afford the tuition. He continues to read and learn from the library. He desires to help his family and community and creates a windmill to produce electricity. The story is very inspirational and makes you want to keep trying to reach your goals.
New Authors: A new and enjoyable author that I read this year is Lisa See. I read Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy, and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Her books focus upon family relationships, historical fiction, and Chinese influences.
In 2011, I purchased a kindle and I never thought I would read from an electric device. I read about twenty books on my kindle, but I still enjoy ‘real’ books.
I also started this blog in the middle of 2011, which encouraged me to read more diverse books and write reviews. It gives me great pleasure to recommend books for others to enjoy. I’m always looking for new books, so please feel free to share your own recommendations. Hopefully, 2012 brings more wonderful books to enjoy!
I haven’t posted a weekly photo challenge for a few weeks, since I’ve been busy with the holidays but I’ve found winter photos. I’ve already posted a few of these, but I still enjoy them. Bundle up and stay warm.
by Suzanne Williams, illustrated by Steven Kellogg
Ages 6 & up, 32 pages
Since the time she was born, Lil loved to read and had a wild imagination. When she was eight, she read all the books in the children’s room at the library. Lil was also very powerful as she held heavy encyclopedias with one hand while turning the pages with her teeth. Of course, she became the librarian and the town nicknamed her Library Lil. However, there was a problem because people in Chesterville were not readers and their only entertainment was watching television. Lil’s luck turned during a terrible storm that caused the power to be out for two weeks. Library Lil quickly came to the rescue with books to read, which created active readers in Chesterville. The library was the place to be for story time. A motorcycle gang entered town and Bust-‘em-up Bill demanded a television to watch his wrestling show. He was disappointed when he learned that the town didn’t watch television anymore and was told to chat with the librarian. Well, Library Lil’s strength and enthusiasm helped make the motorcycle gang become readers.
by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser
Ages 5-7, 32 pages
Fancy Nancy doesn’t enjoy ordinary words and every day is fabulous. Fancy Nancy is a book series and she’s a little drama queen who loves anything French, frilly, and pink. This Fancy Nancy book is more a vocabulary book from A to Z than an actual story. Nancy uses extravagant and bold words instead of common words. This is a wonderful series, because children learn new words to replace boring and overused words. For example, Fancy Nancy believes gorgeous and glamorous are better than beautiful, loves lavender not purple, yearns to visit Paris, and is a xenophile who loves foreign things.You’ll fall in love with this outrageous girl who adores dramatic and lavish words.
by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson
Ages 8 & up, 36 pages
This is a wonderful book for all ages to understand in clear language about how exactly snow forms. It’s a process that occurs at a miniature scale, so our eyes don’t witness the wonder. The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder provides snow crystal photographs, diagrams about the steps to become a snow crystal, and how to catch your own snowflakes in the correct conditions. The book clearly explains the snow formation process without being too confusing. After learning about the science of snow, I wished that it was cold and snowy to catch snowflakes. Sadly, I had no snow. This book is a great addition to an earlier book review about Wilson Bentley who learned how to photograph snow in the 1880s in the book Snowflake Bentley. The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder was recognized by the National Science Teacher’s Association in 2010.
Would you like to catch your own snow crystals? Here are some steps to help you see beautiful snow crystals. I haven’t personally tried this, but let me know if your results are successful.Supplies: - Dark & stiff cardboard or foam - Magnifying glass Directions: 1. Put the cardboard of foam outside for at least 10 minutes before trying to catch snow. The board must stay cold and dry. 2. Hold the board by one edge so that it is flat. Position yourself so that only a few snowflakes fall on the board. 3. Examine smaller bits of snow to see individual snow crystals. Use the magnifying glass. 4. Keep trying and make sure the board remains cold.
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian
Ages 8 & up, 32 pages
Snowflake Bentley tells the true story of Wilson Bentley who was a boy fascinated with snow. Wilson Bentley was born in 1865, in Vermont, where snow is as common as dirt. His happiest days were snow days. He could give his mother flowers and hold butterflies in his hand, but he couldn’t share snowflakes. When other children played in the snow, Wilson studied moisture and snow crystals. He discovered that the snow crystals had six branches and were masterpieces of design since no flake was ever the same. He wanted to share snowflakes’ beauty with others and drew pictures, but they often melted before he could finish the drawing. Wilson drew a hundred snow crystals for three winters until he learned about a camera with a microscope. His parents believed it was somewhat foolish to desire taking photos of snowflakes, but they eventually bought the expensive camera that took imagines on glass negatives and magnified 3,600 times its actual size. At first, there were many failures and Wilson wasn’t able to take a successful snowflake photo. However, he experimented with the light and finally produced a snowflake photo. Wilson could now share snow’s wonder with his snowflake photos. Colleges bought his photographs and artists used the photos for inspiration. Wilson Bentley was an expert at snow and was known as the Snowflake Man. When he was sixty-six years old, his photographs were published in a book. Sadly, he died less than a month after the book was published. A monument now stands in Wilson Bentley’s home town: Jericho, Vermont.
Of all the forms of water, the tiny six-pointed crystals of ice called snow, that form in such quantities within the clouds during storms are incomparable the most beautiful and varied.
Snowflake Bentley won the Caldecott Medal in 1999. I really enjoyed this book, because it was written somewhat in two sections. There was a general story line of Wilson Bentley’s life growing up and his love for snowflakes, but there was also detailed information on the side with dates, education background, and the snowflake photography process. This book is a wonderful introduction to the science of snowflakes.
by W.A. Bentley and W.J. Humphreys
All Ages, 226 pages
Snow Crystals contains over 2,000 snowflake photographs that Wilson Bentley took. In 1931, the American Meteorologist Society gathered Bentley’s snowflake photographs and produced this book. The brief introduction describes scientific information about snow formation and the different shapes. The photographs are presented against a black background, so they really stand out. I showed this book to students and they were amazed, which I’m sure is exactly how you’ll feel after looking at these photographs.
José Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad
written and illustrated by David Diaz
song lyrics by José Feliciano
All Ages, 28 pages
I was excited when I discovered this book at the library, since “Feliz Navidad” is one of my favorite Christmas Songs. (Go ahead and click the video to listen while you read.) In the book, José Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad the reader almost sings along as the lyrics are slowly written on the pages. José Feliciano was born in Puerto Rico and moved to New York at a young age. He wrote “Feliz Navidad” when he was homesick during the Christmas season. Feliciano was born blind, but that didn’t stop this songwriter who won six Grammy Awards with more than sixty-five albums. The book describes a parranda that is a Christmas tradition in Puerto Rico. A parranda is basically a caroling parade when neighbors and friends surprise each other from house to house with small instruments. The festive parade lasts hours and moves through the neighborhood with singing, dancing, and food. At the end, there is a huge feast and cookout often with a roasted pig that brings everyone together. The book was very colorful and festive, which is appropriate for such an upbeat Christmas song.
written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz
Ages 5 & up, 32 pages
Nobody believes a small boy when he continually states that it’s going to snow. The day begins grey and dirty, but soon there is the glimpse of one snowflake. A man with a tall hat and a woman with an umbrella state that it’s nothing and will soon melt. The radio and television mention no sign of snow. However, snow doesn’t watch television or listen to the radio. Snow is snow. Soon more snowflakes fall and turn the dreary grey skies into a white blanket that covers the town. Snow contains few words, but the illustrations make the story as the town becomes whiter. I saw this book as an optimistic young boy who believes in the magic of snow and a pessimistic town who only believe what they are told. Snowflakes keep coming and coming and coming, circling and swirling, spinning and twirling, dancing, playing, there, and there, floating, floating through the air; falling, falling everywhere. This book was awarded a Caldecott Honor in 1999.
by Aaron Shepard, illustrated by Wendy Edelson
Ages 8 & up, 32 pages
Van Amsterdam is an honest baker in the Dutch colonial town that later becomes Albany, New York, who gives exactly what his customers pay for. Van Amsterdam was always busy, because people trusted him and his treats were so good. He was especially busy before December 6 to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day. The gingerbread cookies painted red and white with a bishop cap are famous throughout town. An old woman enters the store and demands another cookie, but Van Amsterdam isn’t tricked since a dozen is twelve. However, after meeting the old woman everything goes wrong in his bakery and no customers enter his bakery. Van Amsterdam has a dream that Saint Nicholas himself gave him one of his own cookies but realizes that it was the old woman. He awakes and realizes that he can give his customers more. Van Amsterdam is determined to get his customers back as he bakes many Saint Nicholas cookies. The old woman enters and she’s pleased when the baker hands her thirteen cookies instead of a twelve.
By Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Lisa Brown
Ages 6 & up, 24 pages
Lemony Snicket is most often recognized for his A Series of Unfortunate Events book series. This is a humorous story about a latke or a potato pancake eaten during the celebration of Hanukkah. The latke began screaming when it was heated in a pan full of oil. So what’s a toasted latke to now do? Well of course it then jumps out of the hot pan and out the window. It ran down the street past flashing Christmas lights who angrily shout that they are the ones to make cheer. The flashing lights believe he’s just hash browns, but the latke screams that it’s completely different. It then comes across a candy cane who’s upset that the screaming is spoiling the peppermint scent. The latke responds that its smell symbolizes the feeling of Hanukkah. The candy cane states that someone should write a Christmas carol about it. Of course, the latke screams that it’s not part of Christmas and it’s a completely different thing. The latke continues to scream until it stumbles into a forest. Finally, a family finds the latke and takes it home to eat for their Hanukkah dinner with applesauce and sour cream. The last pages explain that it’s sometimes difficult to be understood and makes you want to scream, but everything should be welcomed somewhere. The latke was welcome in a home where people understood it and fit perfectly during the Hanukkah celebration.
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.
― Dr. Seuss (How the Grinch Stole Christmas!)
I was nominated for the Liebster Blog Award from Cedric de Alicoque who has a wonderful photography blog. I’m very delighted and honored for the award! Liebster is a German word that means beloved or love, so it’s a blog that you love.
Here are the ‘rules’ to accept the award:
- Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
- Link back to the blogger who awarded you.
- Give your top 5 picks for the award
- Inform your top 5 by leaving a comment on their blog.
- Post the award on your blog.
This Kid Reviews Books Awesome blog about a kid himself who reviews books! It’s a great site for parents & kids trying to find the perfect book to read from a kid’s perspective.
I Shall Be a Toad This blog has a little of everything about writing, life, and humor.
Friday Morning Bookclub As the name states, this is mainly a book review blog with quotes, book trivia, author info, and more.
Snapshots of the World Wonderful photography blog with vibrant photos from around the world with brief information for each photo.
Through the Eyes of the Viewfinder Here is another photography blog with photos that take my breath away!