Tag Archives: The Giver by Lois Lowry

WWW Wednesdays – March 19, 2014

WWW Wednesdays

Since I used my last WWW Wednesdays update to share the books I recently read, I thought I’d use this update to catch up on some of the books my kids have been reading and enjoying. Some children’s books make a more lasting impression than others. Below is a small selection of books that we really enjoyed, made us laugh or made us think in the past couple of months. If you’re looking for some children’s book ideas, I hope these are helpful.

By the way, one of my most favorite books, The Giver by Lois Lowry, is finally going to be a movie, 20 years after being published. Gosh, I hope the movie doesn’t disappoint. It has a lot to live up to.

Books we really enjoyed

Journey by Aaron BeckerJourney by Aaron Becker. I’m disappointed this book didn’t win the 2014 Caldecott Medal, as I think its illustrations were mind blowing and highly imaginative compared to the winner Locomotive (that book is still OK, by the way, but way too long to read out loud). In Journey, using a red marker (remember Harold and the Purple Crayon, except this book is wordless), a young girl draws a door on her bedroom wall and enters another world. There she experiences many adventures, including being captured by an evil emperor. The denouement reveals who comes to her rescue, making young readers understand that with a little imagination, anything is possible. By far one of the best books we’ve read in the past few months.

Mr. Wuffles! by David WiesnerMr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner. Poor Mr. Wuffles seems very uninspired by his many cat toys, except for one single toy, which happens to be a spaceship belonging to tiny aliens the size of ants. After Mr Wuffles damages their spaceship, the aliens must venture in the human and cat world to find a way to repair their aircraft so they can go back to their world. Except for a few speech bubbles featuring alien talk (and you can figure out what the hieroglyphics text actually says if you’re smart!), this book is mostly wordless, in a comic book format. There’s so much to look at on each page, this book will entertain curious kids for hours.

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett. We enjoy reading Mac Barnett’s books and this is one of our favorite. Annabelle finds a box containing yarn and starts knitting for everyone in the town, somehow her yarn supply never running out. That’s until a greedy archduke decides to get the extra yarn for himself. My kids love the ending of this book, which clearly shows that mean people don’t get zilch by being nasty.

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson. This book is magic for all readers, as it invites you to tap, rub, touch, and wiggle the lovely illustrations to make an apple tree bloom, produce fruit, and lose its leaves. What a smart and cute way to display a tree’s yearly cycle!

A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy CookeA Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke. This is one of the CUTEST animal books I’ve ever read. And after reading this book, I dare you not to like sloths. Featuring many photos of baby (and adult) sloths, this book educates you about their fascinating world. It contains tons of facts my kids and I didn’t know, and it even inspired my son to write a non-fiction story about sloths for his writing period at school. Animal books can’t get any better than this one.

Books that made us laugh

Open Very Carefully by Nick Bromley. Imagine reading a quiet storybook when suddenly, a crocodile appears and wreaks havoc on the characters. Will you close the book shut, or take a peek inside to see what happens next? My kids and I love interactive books and this is a great one.

Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam LehrhauptWarning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt. This is another interactive book where the narrator warns you not to open it. And if you do, watch out for the many monkeys, toucans, and even alligators you release and the mayhem that follows. Er, how do you get them back inside?

Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds. It’s tough being a meat eater when you try to make friends with plant eaters but you feel misunderstood. Is it your fault that your diet includes the critters you’re trying to blend in with? This book is not for the squeamish (no blood, I promise) but it’s very funny!

The hiccupotamus by Aaron ZenzThe Hiccupotamus by Aaron Zenz. I haven’t had this much fun reading a book out loud for a long time, and it gets funnier every time. I mean, the whole book is like this:
There was a hippopotamus
who hiccupped quite-a-lotamus.
And every time he got’emus . . .
he’d fall upon his bottomus!
So what do you do to help a hippo who has the hiccups? You’ll have to read the storytamus to find the answeramus…

Books that made us think

Back Of The Bus by Aaron Reynolds. Rosa Parks’ defiance and arrest is shown from the eyes of an African American child sitting at the back of the bus with his mom. The child wonders why the bus doesn’t move when Rosa Parks stays in her seat at the front of the bus, and he hears his mom worry, “There you go, Rosa Parks, stirrin’ up a nest of hornets.” But both mother and child slowly realize that this time may be different. My kids both were studying the civil rights movement when we read this book, and it was a wonderful way to give them a child’s perspective.

Unspoken : A Story From The Underground Railroad by Henry ColeUnspoken : A Story From The Underground Railroad by Henry Cole. Unspoken is absolutely brilliant: just like its title, it doesn’t feature a single word, making its story even more powerful. A Southern farm girl discovers a runaway slave hiding behind the corn crib in the barn and decides to help him by feeding him on his journey. No a single word is spoken between the two, and the girl keeps his presence a secret from everyone, even when the confederate soldiers offer a reward. Even if you don’t read children’s books, you should grab a copy of Unspoken and find out how a picture really can be worth a thousand words.

On A Beam Of Light : A Story Of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne. This is a great book that Einstein’s life from his earlier years, showing how he always questioned the world and universe surrounding him, and how he never stopped imagining, which led him to make groundbreaking discoveries.

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WWW Wednesdays – January 2, 2013

WWW Wednesdays

My bookshelf

The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni – What I’m currently reading  ,
The Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I saw the preview for the movie while watching a DVD a few months ago and decided to read the book instead. It’s interesting so far but I have no idea where it’s eventually going, although I’m reaching the end. I’ll review it in more detail next week when I’m done with it.

– What I recently finished reading
I finished The Giver series and I loved it! Read my review of The Giver here, the first in the Quartet.
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry. I really liked reading about Kira’s chilling, yet fascinating, world. She fights against adversity and is determined to find out the truth about her cruel world and change what can be changed. I love reading about strong female characters and this book didn’t disappoint. If you wondered what happened to Jonas at the end of The Giver, this book gives you a small clue.
Messenger by Lois Lowry. I love how the stories in this series intertwine without overlapping and how each main character has a definite role in their own world. For those who felt the end of the The Giver was incomplete, this book gives you a good idea of what happened to Jonas, even more than in Gathering Blue.
Son by Lois LowrySon by Lois Lowry, which was just published a few months ago, in October 2012. What a powerful ending to The Giver series! Reading the four books in a row was the best decision I could make to understand the powerful message of these stories. The Giver, Gathering Blue and Messenger are all connected in one way or another, and Son brings all of the characters together to tie things up neatly. I love how Lois Lowry tells the story, yet leaves room for your own imagination in every chapter. She’s a wonderful storyteller with a realistic grasp of humanity, with all its faults and strengths. I’m so glad I read this series and I can’t wait for my kids to be old enough to do the same (age 10 and up is probably best). I couldn’t have asked for better reading materials to end 2012.

– What I think I’ll read next 
My friend Mia recommended I read Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese. I requested it from the library a couple of months ago but I had to return it before I had a chance to start it. I just got it again so I need to hurry this time. If you’ve read Cutting For Stone already, I’d love to hear what you thought, but no spoilers please.

My kids’ bookshelf

Olivia and the fairy princesses by Ian FalconerWhat they’re currently reading
Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer. Even though they’re boys, my kids love reading Olivia’s adventures. After all, she’s not your typical girl pig. She’s quite unique and that’s the theme Olivia and the Fairy Princesses explores. Olivia doesn’t want to be a princess like all the other girl pigs, but she’s not sure what she wants to be. The ending is typical Olivia and we enjoy reading this book over and over. It was interesting to hear my kids express their concerns about looking different from the other kids. I guess peer pressure is already very strong, even at their young age. Scary.
King Arthur’s Very Great Grandson by Kenneth Kraegel. Kristen at Motherese said in a recent post that her youngest boy really liked it so I requested it from the library. Henry Alfred Grummorson is the great-great-great-great-great-greatgreat grandson of King Arthur and decides to search for adventure when he turns six. Unfortunately, none of the creatures he encounters seem to want to fight a grand battle. Poor Henry!

Walter the farting dog by William Kotzwinkle– What they recently finished reading
We’ve read four books of the same series recently. What I like about them is, they’re very funny and show you that a bad thing (a dog with very bad gas) can turn into a good thing, depending on the circumstances. What I don’t like about these books is the artwork. It’s a major eyesore. Even my kids complain how ugly the computer illustrations and colors are. How a publisher would even allow such ugly artwork to go to press is beyond me. I bet the writers are still scratching their heads about this one too. My advice to you: borrow the books from your library, don’t buy them.
Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle. (CORRECTED) If you’ve ever read Dav Pilkey’s Dog Breath, The Horrible Trouble with Hally Tosis, you’ll wonder how Kotzwinkle didn’t get accused of plagiarism because these two books tell exactly the SAME story (just replace the bad breath with the smelly farts). Pilkey’s version is by far the best: Hally Tosis is cuter and the story is very witty. By the way, if you want to read a fascinating children’s book about farts, go with Fartiste, the real story of French performer Joseph Pujol, who grew up to become “Le Petomane” (read my personal review of Fartiste here).
Walter the Farting Dog: Banned from the Beach
Rough Weather Ahead for Walter the Farting Dog
Walter the Farting Dog: Trouble At the Yard Sale

– What I think they’ll read next
I don’t know but I’m sure it will be good stuff. What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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My favorite books of 2012

I read a lot of books this year, adult and children’s books, fiction and non-fiction, memorable books and others I’d rather forget (Fifty Shades of Grey, anyone?). It was hard to narrow it down to a few favorite and of course, my choices are very subjective and personal. These are books that grabbed my attention from the first few pages, made me laugh or cry or both, made me think, or made me dream by taking me to faraway places. These are all great books in one way or another.

My favorite adult fiction books of 2012

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

1) The Giver quartet by Lois Lowry
This series includes The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger and Son. I’ll be reviewing the last three books later this week, and in the meantime, you can read my review of The Giver here. Wonderful, wonderful futuristic stories, full of shocking discoveries, adventure, courage, survival and hope. Lois Lowry is a brilliant storyteller and I love the worlds she created. These books are great for young adults (probably age 12 and up), as well as adults, and you can read them again and again and enjoy them just as much. I think that next Christmas, I’ll be asking Santa for these four books so they become part of my personal book collection.

The book thief by Markus Zusack

The book thief by Markus Zusack

2) The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
This is another young adult book that is perfect for adults too. This is the only book I’ve ever read on World War II that was told from a German citizen’s perspective. This book really touched me in many ways and will stay with me forever. Just like The Giver quartet, I think it deserves its own spot on my bookshelf. You can read my review of The Book Thief here.

The hunger games by Suzanne Collins

The hunger games by Suzanne Collins

3) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I also read Catching Fire and Mockinjay but The Hunger Games was my favorite. I found the novels very dark and gruesome, but well told. Suzanne Collins is not as hopeful about the human race as Lois Lowry but she might be more realistic. Who knows what’s in our future, right? Read my review of The Hunger Games. By the way, I do have The Hunger Games trilogy on my bookcase already.

A dog's purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

A dog’s purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

4) A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron
Alright, technically I finished reading A Dog’s Purpose last December, but since I read the next book in 2012, I’m including both on this list. I loved these books and I’m not even a dog person. I laughed, I cried, and I laughed and I cried some more. If you’re looking for a feel good story, these two books are perfect. Read my reviews of A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey.

The invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

The invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

5) The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
Yet another book that deserves a permanent spot on my bookshelf. I have never read such an imaginative book when it comes to the way the story is told. Zelznick tells Hugo’s story by alternating between words and pencil illustrations. Unlike picture books, these detailed illustrations tell a specific part of the story instead of using words, giving a full meaning to the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words”. Selznick is a pure genius at illustrating and storytelling. Read my review of The Invention of Hugo Cabret.

My favorite adult non-fiction books of 2012

Quiet the power of introverts by Susan Cain

Quiet the power of introverts by Susan Cain

1) Quiet: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain
If you’re an introvert, you’ll want to read this book. If you’re an extravert, you’ll want to read it too so you give us introverts a break and realize we’re not a bunch of anti-social people. ;-) Read my review of Quiet: The Power of Introverts here.

Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan

Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan

2) Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan
If you want to learn more about PTSD (post-trauma syndrome disorder) specifically in U.S. soldiers, this story is it. Told in the first person, it explains the various symptoms, the possible treatments (and how our soldiers are taken care of, for better or worse) and how Tuesday, the golden retriever who was about to fail his training as a service dog, helped Montalvan when he himself was on the verge of giving up. The 5 stars by almost 1000 reviewers on Amazon say it all: this is a must read (read my review of Until Tuesday). And yes, this is the REAL Tuesday on the book cover.

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

3) The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller
Miller has been a 6th-grade teacher for about 20 years and has discovered, implemented and refined ways to ignite the love of reading in her students. This book is not just a great tool for teachers but for parents too. Read my review of The Book Whisperer.

My favorite children’s books of 2012

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

1) The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson
Well, don’t you know? There’s no such thing as a gruffalo. Or, is there? These brilliantly rhyming books are meant to become children’s book classics. Read my reviews of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child.

Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed

2) Pete & Pickles by Berkeley Breathed
I loved, loved, loved this book (and damn it, it made my choke up!). This is a beautiful story of loneliness and friendship children and adults will love and cherish. Read my review of Pete & Pickles.

The Last Basselope by Berkeley Breathed

The Last Basselope by Berkeley Breathed

3) The Last Basselope: One Ferocious Story by Berkeley Breathed
Berkeley Breathed may be known for his comic strip Opus, but The Last Basselope is a wonderful story about searching for the unknown, finding it, discovering its priceless value and keeping it safe from the rest of the world. Read my review of The Last Basselope.

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

Stuck by Oliver Jeffers

4) Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
This has to be one of the funniest children’s books we’ve read this year. When Oliver’s kite gets stuck in a tree, he throws everything up there, including the kitchen’s sink. My kids and I loved the silliness of this book and we laughed about it for weeks. Read my review of Stuck.

Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen

Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen

5) Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen
“I’m going to eat you for my dinner” says the big wolf to the big moose. But that’s before he realizes that Mucky Moose really, really stinks. My four-year old couldn’t get enough of this story and months later, my kids still quote the book. Read my review of Mucky Moose.

Ricky Ricotta's mighty robot by Dav Pilkey

Ricky Ricotta’s mighty robot by Dav Pilkey

6) Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot series by Dav Pilkey
This series gave my eldest his first taste of independent reading of chapter books before he reached the end of kindergarten. He’s since graduated to much longer and intense books but I’ll never forget that this series of books gave him the motivation to read on his own (I wasn’t allowed to read him the books so I read them with his brother). Read my review of Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot here.

Zen ties by Jon Muth

Zen ties by Jon Muth

7) Zen Ties and Zen Shorts by Jon Muth
Muth’s watercolors are simply beautiful and his stories teach children about the principles of Zen Buddhism in a very simple way. Stillwater the giant panda is a wonderful teacher. Read my review of Zen Ties.

Back to school for rotten ralph by Jack Bantos

Back to school for rotten ralph by Jack Bantos

8) The Rotten Ralph books by Jack Bantos
Rotten Ralph is everything you don’t want your kids to be and so, kids love him! Rotten Ralph is a really rotten cat and you wonder if he’ll ever show kindness and consideration for others. Deep underneath that rotten attitude, Rotten Ralph may actually have a heart and a conscience. This is a very funny series that will make you laugh out loud. Read my reviews of several Rotten Ralph books here.

What books have you read this year that turned out to be your favorite? Anything I should put on my to-read list for 2013?

WWW Wednesdays – December 12, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

If you participate in the WordPress weekly photo challenge and you would like to see my contribution to this week’s theme Changing Seasons, hop on to my photography website. While there, you may also enjoy looking at a few photos of tiny raindrops on spider webs I took this past week.

My WWW Wednesdays update is one day late but I’ve read two great books in the past three weeks and I’ve got wonderful children’s books to share too.

My bookshelf

A Wanted Man by Lee Child– What I’m currently reading 
A Wanted Man by Lee Child, for my book club meeting. I’ve never read a Jack Reacher novel and I understand this is probably not the best one. If I like it, I’ll definitely read more.

– What I recently finished reading
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I loved this book for two main reasons:
1) I don’t believe I’ve ever read a book where Death was the narrator. To me, it was a unique angle to tell the story and I thought it was a brilliant idea, especially considering the subject of the book (WWII Germany).
2) I can’t remember if I’ve read a book about WWII from the German perspective in the past. I’ve read a lot of novels on WWII (fiction and non-fiction) and it’s always been told from a Jewish or invadee angle. It was a very insightful to read such a story.
Two things I’m not too crazy about:
1) I thought the ending was wrapped up a little too fast. Yes, Death apologizes for this fact, but still, a few more pages would have helped.
2) I was surprised to see the Sydney reference. I saw afterwards the author is from Sydney but I’m not sure it was necessary to this story as it could have remained in Europe (it would have been more credible to me).
Overall, I really, really enjoyed reading this book, although “enjoyed” may not be the right word considering the subject. This is definitely one of these books with a lot of visual clues that could be made into a great movie.

The Giver by Lois Lowry. Way before The Hunger Games, there was The Giver. It’s one of the first and most popular young adult novels on a futuristic, dystopian society and after reading it, I see why. A very short read, The Giver describes a society where people feel no pain, no fear and they are all at peace. Everything is decided for them: their career, their partner, their children… When Jonas turns 12, he’s not assigned a career like the other children but instead is selected to be the next Receiver. The Giver is to provide him with all the memories of the past generations and this process is an eye opener for Jonas. I can’t say more without spoilers so I’ll just say I really, really liked this book. I just found out yesterday that after almost 20 years, Lois Lowry has just published the sequel to The Giver. She previously published two other books (Gathering Blue and Messenger) that were partially related to The Giver, but Son is the direct sequel to The Giver and I can’t wait to read it.

– What I think I’ll read next
I’m not sure since I have no library book waiting for me, but I just ordered a few more, so hopefully they’ll come by the time I’m done with my new book.

My kids’ bookshelf

Room on the Broom by Julia DonaldsonWhat they’re currently reading
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson. This book by the same author (and the same illustrator too) of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child is one of our favorite right now. A witch allows several animals to ride with her on her broom until the broomstick breaks and they all fall down. A ferocious, fiery dragon suddenly appears and decides to have the witch for dinner. Who will save the witch? (that’s the best part)
My Snake Blake by Randy Siegel (illustrated by a French artist). A boy receives a very long, green snake from his father for his birthday. His mother is less than pleased until the snake proves he’s not only kind, but also very smart (he can write words with his own body!) and talented. A very sweet story, except the part where the snake teaches a lesson to the school bully (my kids LOVED that part!).

Good news bad news by Jeff Mack– What they recently finished reading
Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack. These are pretty much the two phrases repeated throughout the book, which is perfect for my 4-year old who could read the book on his own and laughed at every page. While on a picnic, Bunny sees only the good, while Mouse sees only the bad. And Murphy’s Law is in action on every page!
Hippo and Rabbit: Three Short Tales by Jeff Mack. We’ve borrowed this book in the past and it’s always a big hit at our house, especially when the thunder goes KA-BOOM! across the page. These stories are in comic strip format and my youngest reads the words with little prompting.

– What I think they’ll read next
I don’t know but I’m sure it will be good stuff. What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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