4.09.2017

Review: Argyle Fox

Recommended for classroom libraries! (5 stars)

Problem solving skills are one of the most important things being taught in today's elementary schools. It builds independence and confidence and fosters a growth mindset. Which is why I loved Argyle Fox immensely. It isn't always easy to find a book where a child character with a problem is given such minimal aid from a guardian and allowed to find a solution on their own.

With charming illustrations and an adorable hero, Argyle Fox, would make both a fantastic bedtime read or addition to a classroom library. While the message of being resourceful and inventive isn't likely to be noticed by children it's sure to inspire similar creative responses. But if not, it's a fun story with cute animals youngsters will enjoy.

Notes: Review copy received via NetGalley.


Argyle Fox by Marie Letourneau

Children's, Animals, Games, Problem Solving
Print (32 pages, TANGLEWOOD)
Argyle Fox, with his signature style, wants to play outside on a springtime day, but the wind is wreaking havoc with his fun and games. As soon as he builds a card tower, climbs into a giant spider web, or takes up his pirate sword, here comes the wind: Woosh!
Mama Fox tells grumpy Argyle that if he thinks long enough, he will come up with something to do. Following his mother’s suggestion and inspired by her knitting, he works all the pieces of his day together and creates the perfect solution.
The story of Argyle teaches that failure is often a path to success and celebrates perseverance, creative thinking, and an old-fashioned springtime activity. (Ages 3-7)



Book Review: The Last Tree


Other Ugly Things (4 stars)


The Last Tree is an interesting book. While its blurb seems to indicate it being a hopeful tale, I found it rather melancholy. Though its message of the importance of nature and our impact on the environment is one I find especially important I'm not sure this is the book I would share with my children or students to do so. Something about it felt like it would upset my sensitive daughter and not in a good way.

My reservations about sharing this with sensitive children aside, it is beautifully illustrated and gives a very strong contrast of city and nature.

Notes: ARC received through NetGalley.

The Last Tree by Ingrid Chabbert & Raúl Nieto Guridi

Children's, Nature, Environment
Digital/Print (36 pages, KIDS CAN PRESS)
A small boy lived in a city with no grass or trees. “Instead,” he says, “we had roads, walls and lots of other ugly things.” One day, the boy and his friend were amazed to discover a tiny sapling growing behind a low wall. They had never seen a tree and they imagined how majestic it would be someday. When they found out a condominium was to be built where their tree lived, the boys knew they had to dig it up and replant it. They had to save the last tree.
A poignant story about hope and the importance of nature. (Ages 4-7)

Review: Find Your Awesome


Fits a specific audience (3 stars)


I love a good self-help book and I love guided journaling projects so Find Your Awesome sounded right up my alley. For those looking to take on a 30-Day journaling challenge this has a really good format. The ideas are indeed playful and imaginative.

What held me back from giving this a higher rating was feeling like it was geared toward a young female audience. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'm just older and didn't connect well to it or feel like I could recommend it to any of the men and boys I know who might enjoy a similar concept.

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.

Find Your Awesome: A 30-Day Challenge to Fall in Love with Your Playful, Imaginative & Colorful Self by Judy Clement Wall

Crafts, Hobbies, Self-Help
Digital/Print (122 pages, HCI)
In a perfect world, maybe you wouldn't need a 30-day challenge to find and fall in love with your most playful, imaginative, and colorful self, but we don't live in a perfect world. We live in a fast-paced, high-octane society where feeling lost in the jostling crowd is the norm and finding our own significance is oftentimes the biggest challenge of all.  Fearless love champion Judy Clement Wall will guide you through this challenge--to fill your well for 30 days and tap into the miracle that is you! When you learn to love and value yourself, your relationships with everyone else will change, because the person that you bring to the world will be the fullest, truest, best-loved version of yourself. 
So step up and take this challenge. Carve out a few minutes each day to fully engage with yourself; reflect, unwind, and have fun! Here's a sneak peek at just some of the prompts:  
#2: Be outrageously grateful
#3: Create a life list
#4: Appreciate your body in all its awesomeness
#6: Doodle your perfect t-shirt 
#11:  Find your life theme
#12:  Call "BS" on "should"
#14: Text love.
Using a stimulating mix of coloring, creative prompts, and other daily activities, master writer, artist and doodler Judy Clement Wall will help you uncover the undeniable awesomeness that is you.

Book Review: Creepy Crawly Crochet

Creepy CUTE Crochet (4 stars)

Though I've attempted crochet in the past, I didn't have the coordination to keep it up as a hobby. Never the less, I adore amigurumi books, particularly those with scifi, fantasy, horror, and pop culture themes. This one has some really original and comical designs that I adored. Boo Boo the Voodoo Doll is my favorite but Poe the Raven and Bun Bun the Bunny are fun, unexpected critters too.

From a technical standpoint I can't say whether the instructions would be easy to follow but I'm guessing most of these (based on appearance and length of instruction) are not going to be easy for beginners. That said, it does have a section of crochet basics so if you're totally new you may find it an inspiring place to build your skills.

Notes: Review copy received through NetGalley.

Creepy Crawly Crochet: 17 Creatures That Go Bump in the Night by Megan Kreiner

Hobbies, Crafting, Crochet, Horror
Print (112 pages, DOVER)
They're creepy but they're cute and cuddly, too! Inspired by classic literature, film, and folklore, these 17 crochet monsters will delight everyone with a taste for old-fashioned thrillers and modern tales of horror. Detailed instructions include assembly diagrams for ease of construction along with full-color photos. The patterns are suitable for beginners, but advanced crocheters will find them irresistible as well.
These fetching fiends include Boo Boo the Voodoo Doll; Jack, the Headless Horseman, and his horse, Nightmare; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Carl of the Dead and Daisy, his Zombie Dog; and other sinister characters. In addition to their value as handmade keepsake treasures, these characters also make great gifts for fans of horror and science fiction.




4.08.2017

100% Real Food, 0% Pretentious Babble

100% real food, 0% pretentious babble  (4 stars)


"Find the fun in food; don't be a judgmental jerk". When you pick up a book of recipes and find this wisdom in it, you can bet it's going to be full of nutrition-packed meals without being painfully pretentious. I had honestly never heard of Talbot before but his approach to cooking and eating left me quite impressed. While we all must eat to live, food has many more roles in our lives from celebrating and comforting to healing and communicating. It was so refreshing to find a chef with a similar take on why food should be healthy and as unprocessed as possible but not without the occasional foray into decadence.

As a diabetic, the author has unique insights and I think many who are struggling with the disease will find this an encouraging addition to their cookbook collection. Vegan, gluten-free, or have other dietary restrictions? Definitely worth checking out. Admittedly, a lot of the recipes are too involved for my household to enjoy with any regularity. For those who aren't land-locked and struggle to find much fresh produce that isn't your typical 3 types of lettuce or A-B-O fruits, if you can access more variety without spending your retirement fund I much recommend them.

Notes: ARC received through NetGalley.

Review: The Mighty Zodiac Vol. 1

Great first graphic novel for kids. (4 stars)

If you've got a young reader who would benefit from trying a graphic novel series, check this one out! Based on the Chinese zodiac this comic is an exciting find that is sure to appeal to kids who like martial artist animal franchises like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or large superhero team-ups like The Avengers or Justice League.

Adult readers may find it a little bit bland but still worth picking up to share with their child.

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.


The Mighty Zodiac Volume 1: Starfall by J. Torres, Corin Howell, & Maarta Laiho

Graphic Novel, Mythology, Fantasy
Digital/Print (152 pages, ONI PRESS)
One dark and quiet night in Gaya, six stars fall from the sky. Master Long, the ailing leader of the Mighty Zodiac, sends his warriors out to collect the stars before the Moon Rabbit Army can get their paws on them first. If the Rabbits get the stars, the balance of nature—and the fate of all of Gaya—will be in danger. But Long's plans to use the stars to "cure" his illness may be just as dangerous—and bring an end to the Mighty Zodiac itself. (Ages 9-12)





4.06.2017

Review: All Birds Have Anxiety


An all ages resource! (4 stars)

Growing up I was a pretty nervous kid. A worrier. In adulthood it eventually manifested as a full blown disorder that eventually left me nearly crippled by its power. It has been an arduous journey finding the right tools to make it manageable. I can leave my home again! 

But it can be hard to explain it to those for whom anxiety as nothing more than an emotional reaction versus a medical condition. What I loved about All Birds Have Anxiety was that it is all ages friendly. Since I work with kids I found this book could work well at broaching the subject with my little worriers. 

Full of vivid photos, gentle humor, and hopefulness I think this would be a wonderful resource for teachers, counselors, and parents who have children (and adults) in need of some encouragement.

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.


All Birds Have Anxiety by Kathy Hoopmann

Children's, Special Needs, Self-Help
Digital/Print (72 pages, JESSICA KINGSLEY PUBLISHERS)Life as a bird can be stressful! From worrying about airplanes, windows, and getting enough worms to eat, it is clear that birds can be anxious beings. Through a light-touch, quizzical depiction of bird behaviour, All Birds Have Anxiety uses colourful images and astute explanations to explore with gentle humour what it means to live with anxiety day-to-day, and how to begin to deal with it.
Following the style of the best-selling All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome and All Dogs Have ADHD, wonderful colour photographs express the complex and difficult ideas related to anxiety disorder in an easy-to-understand way. This simple yet profound book validates the deeper everyday experiences of anxiety, provides an empathic understanding of the many symptoms associated with anxiety, and offers compassionate suggestions for change.
The combination of understanding and gentle humour make this the ideal introduction to anxiety disorder for those diagnosed with this condition, their family and friends and those generally interested in understanding anxiety.





Book Review: Botanical Beauty

Creative, natural, simple... (5 stars)

Though quite geared toward teens, I found Botanical Beauty to be a fantastic resource for anyone who would like to start making their own spa goodies. Mostly simple to make and with ingredients that most of us have around the house already or that can easily be sourced on Amazon these recipes are sure to be a hit with anyone who likes to be pampered.

Planning a spa birthday party for a group of tweens? This book has perfect projects for making and taking home. Want to create personalized gifts for the holidays? Even guys can enjoy many of these. Sick of Pinterest fails when you try to make natural body products? Then you need these tried and tested recipes with great tips and tricks.

I very much recommend this one!

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley.


Botanical Beauty: 80 Essential Recipes for Natural Spa Products by Aubre Andrus

Teen, Beauty, Crafts
Digital/Print (160 pages, SWITCH)
Soak, scrub, and soothe your way to relaxation with simple homemade spa recipes from award-winning author Aubre Andrus. Using some of nature’s best ingredients, such as beeswax, sugar, coconut oil, shea butter, avocado, sea salt, essential oils, and more, craft everything from a Cooling Peppermint Hand Cream to a Vanilla Honey Body Scrub. Make practical products, like your own all-natural Bugs-Be-Gone Insect Repellent, Minty Homemade Toothpaste, and Natural Shaving Cream. Or pamper yourself after a long day with a Re-energizing Tub Tea, Lovely Lavender Bath Salts, and a Deep Conditioning Treatment. Nourish your body from head to toe with these organic, handmade recipes and crafts, or package them as a gift to share a fresh, fun spa experience.


4.05.2017

Review: Sacred Geometry Coloring Book

Soothing symmetry paired with natural elements. (4 stars)

In spite of the glut of coloring books geared toward adults the trend doesn't seem to be dying off, and with good reason. I've always enjoyed the act of coloring but it wasn't until the rise of the trend that I could pin down why—it's a lot like meditation without the trying to sit still and focus on your breath. Totally good for helping folks with certain mental illnesses (mine being GAD) and anyone who wants to destress. Most of my coloring books feature mythical creatures, nature, or have a humorous bent so I was eager to find something with more symmetry, more mandala-like but not another mandala coloring book. This book fit the bill perfectly!

I confess to knowing nothing about sacred geometry but I found the small blurbs for each page to be insightful. Most of the images are quite angular or geometric, which I find very soothing, but there are enough with more flowing or natural elements to keep it fresh and interesting. I particularly found the bees, lotuses, and celestial imagery to be beautiful and nice enough that they're worth framing after coloring. I do feel that I found a few of the illustrations had elements that felt a little dated but not to the point of bothering me. If you're at all into new age spirituality, mandalas, or geometric coloring please check this book out. Learning about sacred geometry is something I'm eager to do now thanks to this.

As I am reviewing a digital version of the book for bloggers I did not get to see if I liked the actual paper quality of the physical book so do please check reviews from actual purchasers too!

Notes: ARC received through NetGalley.

Sacred Geometry Coloring Book by Francene Hart

Release Date: April 14, 2017

Meditation, Self-Help, Coloring
Print (96 pages, DESTINY BOOKS)
Beautiful line-art depictions of the intricate paintings of visionary artist Francene Hart
• Includes 45 illustrations to color based on the art of Hart’s popular Sacred Geometry Oracle Deck and Sacred Geometry Cards for the Visionary Path
• Each piece is accompanied by brief, insightful commentary about the symbols and animals shown
• Intertwines the complex forms of Sacred Geometry with the beauty of Nature, including dolphins, dragonflies, trees, and many other forms and symbols
Experience firsthand the beauty of Nature’s animal and plant kingdoms intertwined with the wonders of Sacred Geometry and Spirit as you color the intricate and divine paintings of visionary artist Francene Hart.
Drawing on the imagery from her popular Sacred Geometry Oracle Deck and Sacred Geometry Cards for the Visionary Path, this coloring book contains 45 illustrations of Hart’s renowned Sacred Geometry paintings and drawings. Each piece is accompanied by a brief yet insightful commentary explaining the meaning behind the symbols and animals shown and offering inspiration to open your awareness to how these shapes influence our reality and tune your energies. From dolphins and dragonflies, the elements and celestial bodies, to the power of the torus, labyrinths, and the Flower of Life, this coloring book will lead you on a contemplative journey into the interconnected realms of Sacred Geometry, Nature, and Spirit while supporting your sense of wholeness and joy.



Book Review: The Queen of Frogs


Fun Froggy Fable for Young and Old (5 stars)

As a little girl there were few animals that captivated me as much as the humble frog. Growing from tadpoles in the muck of my backyard pond to the throaty singers who lulled me to sleep many a night, they just had a magic to them I have always found enchanting. Thus, I often find myself devouring children's books featuring the amphibians. The Queen of the Frogs is definitely my new favorite.

Much like the title character of my favorite Seuss story, Yertle the Turtle, our little green queen gets a bit too happy with her status. As they say, pride cometh before a fall and both children and adult readers are sure to get a kick out of the story. I must confess though, that it was the illustrations that really excited me. Soma has a style that feels a little antique and yet wholly modern, I will definitely have an eye out for more work from this author and illustrator team.

Notes: ARC received through NetGalley.

The Queen of the Frogs by Davide Cali  Illustrated by Marco Soma

Children's, Animals, Fairytales
Print (38 pages, EERDMAN'S BOOKS)
An enchanting modern fable
The frogs enjoy their life at the pond, filling their days with fly brunches and night music. But one day a little frog finds a crown at the bottom of the pond and is instantly pronounced a queen. She starts doing what queens do: making demands and expecting others to serve her. But when her royal subjects start to question her authority, she must prove she's fit to rule—if she can.
Reminiscent of Aesop's fables, this beautifully illustrated book is sure to start a discussion about the concept of leadership and the importance of humility. (Ages 4-9)






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