postaday2011

2011 Book Reflections

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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.

Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

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 GirlsDreams of Joy, and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Her books focus upon family relationships, historical fiction, and Chinese influences.

 

 

Another new author I discovered is Carl Hiaasen. I read Scat and Hoot. These books were for middle school age that were mysteries focused upon environmental issues.

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!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Winter

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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.

Here is frost on my car window on a cold winter morning.

 

Book Review: Library Lil

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Library Lil 

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.

Fancy Nancy’s Favorite Fancy Words

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Fancy Nancy’s Favorite Fancy Words From Accessories to Zany 

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.

Science & Wonder of Snow

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The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder 

by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson

Nonfiction, Science

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. 
 

 

Weekly Quote: Victor Hugo

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To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.

― Victor Hugo

The True Story of the Snowflake Man

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Snowflake Bentley

by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian

Ages 8 & up, 32 pages

Nonfiction

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.

–Wilson Bentley

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.

Snow Crystals 

by W.A. Bentley and W.J. Humphreys

Snowflake Photography

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.