Tag Archives: The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson

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 – November 7, 2012

WWW Wednesdays

My bookshelf

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle– What I’m currently reading 
Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Sherry Turkle. Look at the book cover, it says it all. A few weeks ago, I heard an NPR interview with this author discussing her new book and my interest was tickled.

– What I recently finished reading
The Cow in the Parking Lot: A Zen Approach to Overcoming Anger by Leonard Scheff & Susan Edmiston. Disclaimer: I read this book because I was hired to help promote it, but this review is my personal opinion of the book.
I like how this book goes beyong the common anger management techniques you always hear about. It takes a new approach by encouraging us to overcome anger by changing our mindset and lifestyle. This will in return lead to positive, long-term effects on us and the people around us. There are a number of exercises throughout the book that force us to stop and think. They help us identify our common anger trigger points, understand how we react to negative events, and how we can slowly develop a new approach to handle these events. I like how the book encourages all of us to become more giving and caring towards others, something we tend to forget in this fast spinning world. I enjoyed reading quotes from Buddha, as well as famous Buddhists and researchers. I knew some of the Zen stories that start each chapter from reading them in children’s books with my kids. They illustrate how damaging angry and negative feelings can be when you keep them in. I don’t consider myself an angry person but I know a few people who can have a hard time dealing with upsetting events, no matter how big or small. This is a great book to give to people who are open to changing their angry behavior patterns and create a calmer life for themselves. And if you’re a parent who sometimes feel frustrated and stuck in a rut when it comes to dealing with your kids, this book offers sound advice on how to find new ways to approach and solve your frustration.

– What I think I’ll read next
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which has been on my to-read list for a while now. If you’ve read it, I’d love to hear what you thought of it, but please, no spoilers!

My kids’ bookshelf

Cat Tale by Michael HallWhat they’re currently reading
Cat Tale by Michael Hall. This is a hilarious book using homophones and tongue twisters! My kids LOVE how the story suddenly turns very silly when the words start getting mixed up.
“From word to word they find their way, Lillian, Tilly, and William J… They spot some ewes. They use a box. They box some fleas…” Get it?
Beetle McGrady eats bugs! by Megan McDonald. Beetle Mc Grady wants to be an explorer, an adventurer and find the courage to eat an ant. With Fun with Food Week in her school science class, this second-grader may actually eat a whole assortment of bugs… You have to read this book just to read about “the cricket leg stuck in her tooth” and see the picture that goes with it!

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson– What they recently finished reading
The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson. By popular demand, we have read and reread these two wonderful rhyming books about a little mouse who outsmarts every animal in the forest, including the frightful gruffalo. But wait, there’s no such thing as a gruffalo. Or, is there? If you have the opportunity, watch The Gruffalo DVD, narrated by Helen Bonham Carter. It’s brilliant.

– 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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Our favorite adult literature and children’s books of 2011

WWW Wednesdays

You may have noticed I didn’t post a WWW Wednesdays update yesterday. I simply ran out of time. It was my mom’s last vacation day with us and I couldn’t find enough time in front of the computer to write up my weekly update.

Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys

Between shades of gray by Ruta Sepetys

I did want to share with you a wonderful book I just finished a few days ago called Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. What an amazing book to learn about this less often told part of history, i.e. Stalin’s own ethnic cleansing of large parts of Eastern Europe that killed 20 million people (he sure got bragging rights over Hitler in the genocide category). Sepetys based her book on her own family’s experiences as well as testimonies from many Lithuanian families. This gives her story a very real feeling when you understand this type of events really happened to millions of uprooted families sent to Siberian forced labor camps. This is a poignant, personal first novel I highly recommend.

Now, instead of doing my weekly WWW Wednesdays update, I thought I’d make a list of our favorite books we read in 2011 and I encourage you to read them too.

My best adult literature book picks of 2011

A dog's purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

A dog's purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. By far the best book I’ve read this year. It made me laugh, it made me cry and made me enjoy a story about dogs when I’m a cat person. Great storytelling.

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard. Such a great premise and angle for this murder mystery book. I couldn’t put it down and went on to read book #2 in the series, Never Have I Ever. Read it, you won’t regret it.

Room by Emma Donoghue. The first third of this book (the captivity part) kept me on the edge. The rest of it sucked me right in and surprised me several times on the way. This is a wonderful book on a very painful subject.

My best children’s book picks of 2011

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson. Rhyming stories of a tiny mouse outsmarting a terrifying larger than life gruffalo.

 The Mr Putter & Tabby book series by Cynthia Rylant. These are wonderful, funny, kind and sweet stories about Mr Putter, his cat Tabby, his neighbor Mrs Teaberry and her dog Zeke. Our very favorite are Mr Putter & Tabby Paint the Porch, Mr Putter & Tabby Pick the Pears (zing!) and Mr Putter & Tabby Feed the Fish (bat bat bat…).

There Are Cats in This Book and its sequel There Are No Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz. These are interactive, hilarious books to read over and over with the kids, even if you’re not a cat person. Kids love to memorize all the lines and read the story on their own, laughing out loud.

What are your favorite book picks for 2011?

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WWW Wednesdays – December 14, 2011

WWW Wednesdays

My bookshelf

Man's search for meaning by Viktor Frankl

Man's search for meaning by Viktor Frankl

– What I’m currently reading
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Frankl’s vivid memories of his life in the Nazi concentration camps don’t really put me in the mood for Christmas but this book has been on my to-read list for a while and I finally got it from the library, so it was time. An interesting read so far.

– What I recently finished reading
The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson.I had to read this book for my upcoming book club meeting and it was entertaining but nothing more. It has a very predictable plot and is definitely more about weddings than about Christmas. I didn’t find the book well written, more like a lazy writing by a famous author to make some quick bucks on popular themes. Disappointing.

The Christmas Thief by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark. This was a fun read, like any other Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark’s novels. Interesting characters, a plot that keeps unraveling throughout the book with a few unexpected twists. And as always the good guys win, the bad guys get caught and my nails are shorter by the time I’m done with the book.

– What I think I’ll read next
Good question. I’m not sure yet but I do have some books on my own shelf I could pick from and I’ve ordered more from the library. It will all depend what comes up by the time I’m done with Frankl’s book.

My kids’ bookshelf

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson

What they’re currently reading

 The Scaredy Squirrel series by Melanie Watt. We LOVE these books! Scaredy Squirrel, like many of our own younsters, thinks the world is quite a scary place and doesn’t dare to venture into the unknown.  Until… something disturbs his routine (or his plan, depending on the book) and forces him stretch his boundaries. His backup plan? Playing dead. Very funny illustrations in a picture book/comic strip format, great for kids 4 to 8. I believe we have been reading all the books in the series:
Scaredy Squirrel
Scaredy Squirrel makes a friend
Scaredy Squirrel has a birthday party
Scaredy Squirrel at night
Scaredy Squirrel at the beach
 
What they recently finished reading
The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson. Why we have never read these books until now, I don’t know. But I’m so happy we discovered them because they are great! The Gruffalo tells the story of a clever mouse using the threat of a terrifying creature (the Gruffalo) to avoid being eaten by several animals in the forest, until he meets that creature himself and has to outwit it too. The Gruffalo’s Child is the sequel to this story.
 
Don’t Pop Your Cork on Mondays! : The Children’s Anti-Stress Book by Adolph Moser. This is a great book for kids showing the causes and effects of stress and various ways to deal with stress every day. Our personal favorite is to “outension the tension.” There are more books in this series, so they’re on my requested list at the library.
 
– What I think they’ll read next
I just picked up more books with a Christmas theme at the library this morning so they’ll probably make it to this list next week.

What about you? Any books you or your kids are reading you’d like to share?

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