Month: September 2013

Have you ever wondered what will happen to your personal book collection when you die?

Not that I expect this to occur any time soon, but sometimes I think about it. I picture myself decades from now, an old lady in a little house or nursing home all alone yet not too lonely as I am content to be surrounded by my books and have ample time to reread them all!

And then I wonder where they will go after me… I would of course leave them to my daughter, who\’s becoming an avid bookworm in her own right, but she\’s not really interested in the animal books so she might not really want them all. I wonder if a library might take the collection but I know the actual fate of most books donated to libraries: they end up in the annual library sale and if not purchased, get recycled. Very rarely do they get into circulation for library patrons. (All you librarians out there correct me if I\’m wrong!)

Sometimes I fantasize a dreadful future where the wildlife has all gone extinct, but my odd collection of animal reference books will be valued for its subject matter. But of course, any public library has a more extensive collection than mine about the same, so why would my books be special? ha ha

I just hope wherever they do go someday, they would continue to be appreciated!

by Rosemary Wells

This Max and Ruby book is one of my favorites. Max and his big sister Ruby are each preparing a cake for their grandmother\’s birthday: Max is making a mud-pie cake with earthworms in it outside, and Ruby is methodically baking a cake in the kitchen. Max wants to help her, but keeps accidentally knocking things off the table. Each time Ruby sends Max with a written note to the grocery store to replace the item. Max wants a special ingredient to top off his earthworm cake, but he can\’t quite communicate that to the grocer. Finally he is inspired by one of Ruby\’s own notes to himself, and finds a way to get his treat.

I love so many things about this book. First, it\’s so darn cute. The bunnies determined to make something special for their grandma. Each doing something on their own: Ruby\’s lopsided pink-frosted cake has a close contender in Max\’s mud-and-earthworm cake. Grandma appropriately looks thrilled with both, and when I ask my toddler at the end which cake she would like to eat she always says \”the brown one!\” She doesn\’t quite get the yucky factor in that yet, but it does make my older daughter giggle. The story has a very realistic dynamic between siblings: the bossy older sister, younger one trying to help but messing things up, doing his best to make up for his mistakes and determined to get what he wants as well. Of course my favorite element is the role drawing takes as a communication vector. Wonderful story!

Rating: 5/5 ……. 32 pages, 1977

more opinions:
Brenna\’s Books
Kindergarten Reads
The Toy Bag

by Ursula K. Le Guin

This novel is set on a fantasy world named Victoria, which was founded as a prison colony for Earth. When the story takes place, Earth has essentially abandoned their contact with the planet and the civilization there has evolved into two separate groups: peaceful people who farm and support a more violent faction that lives inside the city. The pacifists grow tired of supporting the city and decide to splinter off and form their own colony elsewhere, free of oppression. Daughter of a powerful man in the city decides to join them as a rebel. The rest of the book is about the struggles that ensue. I don\’t know why it was so forgettable for me, when I recall the storyline and characters of other books of hers so vividly (such as Earthsea) even though I read them just as long ago (ten years running, at this point). It must have not been as captivating for me. Out of curiosity I would like to revisit this one someday, as well.

Rating: 3/5 …….. 208 pages, 1978

by Pat Hutchins

When I came across this book on the library shelf I immediately recognized the illustrations in the same style as Rosie\’s Walk. This book is just as fun and engaging. It features an owl trying to sleep in the daytime, but bees are buzzing nearby and keep him awake. Then a squirrel comes to sit on a branch and crack nuts, crows caw, a woodpecker taps on the trunk and so on. Each page adds a new animal to the tree making its particular noise: robin, blue jays, doves, cuckoo, sparrows and starlings. They make such a racket altogether when the tree is full the owl looks frazzled with wide open eyes. At last night falls and all the animals sleep. Then the owl wakes them up again with a loud screech! The last page always makes me laugh. My two-year-old doesn\’t quite get the humor of the owl \”getting back at\” the other animals, but she enjoys the lovely textured illustrations and the litany of animal noises and bird sounds. The book has a distinctive foreign flair (to my eyes) because I recognize that the squirrel as a red fox squirrel and the robin a diminutive european robin, different from the ones we have locally.

Rating: 4/5 …….. 32 pages, 1972

more opinions:
Momma Reads

by Chaim Potok

One of my very favorite authors is Chaim Potok. Astonishing that I haven\’t really written about any of his books yet. And this has got to be the only one that I\’m not really crazy about. Short stories about teenagers. Each one rather unique. There is a boy with an injured hand learning to use it again in art class, a pair of young girls who become sisters when their widowed parents marry, a teen dealing with the death of her baby brother, a girl who must confront a bullying drug-dealer, and a girl dealing with the turmoil caused by an airplane collision over her school. Potok is the master of understatment, and usually I enjoy reading his stories and getting immersed in the characters, reading between the lines. But here it didn\’t quite work as well. Still good, but something just missing in it for me.

Rating: 3/5 …….. 160 pages, 1998

by Anne Bishop

So. Curiosity will lead me to sometimes read things outside of my norm, and this was one of those instances. It didn\’t sit well, let\’s say. The Invisible Ring is in a fantasy world where the social system is turned on its head. People are born with magic powers, women are controlling, men are pretty much slaves to their instinct to protect and serve women. In fact, if I remember rightly, a backbone to the premise was the idea that women were not \’ahem\’ available all the time, but only receptive to men at certain times, and when that came around, the men would battle to the death for the privilege. Like animals. And as you might guess, most of the people in this book treat each other besitally. Everyone\’s been done wrong to or tormented and they all suffer from mental problems or past traumas, and act strangely. At least, I couldn\’t make sense of it. The main character, Jared, was sex slave to an evil queen until he killed her and got sent to an auction. He is bought by the Grey Lady and taken along on a journey. Of course he moves from being her slave to her paramour, with lots of fights in between. It was predictable. Characters alternated between being dull and confusing. The book is a prequel to the Black Jewels trilogy, which I haven\’t read- I don\’t know if it would have been better or worse for me if I had. This book made me never want to read another thing written by Anne Bishop. Sorry, but it was that bad. So forgettable I\’m not sure now if I even finished it.

Rating: 1/5 ……… 416 pages, 2000

more opinions:
A Novel Read
Romance Book Wyrm
the Bookwyrm\’s Lair
books in review

Here\’s a free pair of donkeys.

Actually, a quartet, there\’s one on each side of each bookmark. Stylishly presented, on a backdrop of green plant texture and caterpillar bristles (yes, that\’s right- caterpillar hair, even though it looks like the fringe of a rug or cactus spines at first glance, or so I thought). These burros would like to save your spot, in whatever book you\’re reading!

For a chance to win this laminated bookmark pair, simply leave a comment on this post. I\’ll draw a winner\’s name at random on tuesday, Oct 1st. Open to anyone with a mailing address in the US or Canada. Please be sure I can easily find your email address to contact you if you win!

by Else Holmelund Minarik

This is one of those picture books I think of as classic. I know my mother used to read Little Bear books to me as a child, and I have a few in the collection for my own kids now, as well. I absolutely love Maurice Sendak\’s illustrations, I think of them immediately in context with these stories. They have a definite realism with beautiful, meticulously inked detail (the bear\’s fur, hen\’s feathers, leaves on the trees, every blade of grass or bit of tree bark delicately rendered) yet at the same time retain a lovely charm and timeless appeal. The brief stories center around a little bear, his mother and father, sometimes his grandparents make an appearance too. His friends are an owl, cat, hen and duck, simply called by their animal names.

In this story, Little Bear has drawn a picture of a monster which \”makes me happy\” and asks Hen to take it to his grandmother. Grandmother is delighted and asks Hen to take a kiss back to Little Bear in thanks. On the way back, Hen stops to talk to friends and gives the kiss to a Frog to take to Little Bear, who gives it to Cat, who gives it in turn to a Skunk. But the Skunk meets a girl skunk and gives the kiss to her instead, until Hen comes along, finds the skunks still exchanging kisses and sets things straight. It\’s really cute, especially when the skunks have a little wedding at the end, and Little Bear presents them with another drawing.

Rating: 4/5 …….. 32 pages, 1968

by Will Shetterly

A family sets up an attraction of a display of various dog breeds as a tourist attraction in the middle of nowhere. Well, it was in Florida, but sounded like a remote location. It was a strange idea, to my mind. The family built their little enterprise around having the dogs on display like a zoo, running a roadside cafe and selling stuff in a gift shop. Their story is told through the eyes of one of the youngest siblings. I had hoped (of course) on opening the book that it would be about the dogs, but it\’s mostly about the family, the string of curious visitors to their roadside setup, and how their attempt at running a tourist stop gets them involved in the community. It\’s set in the sixties and they hire some black people which upsets the locals. They got mixed up in some kind of trouble with the police, I think, and there were other events that caused family turmoil. Also, there were some elements of magical realism, which just confused me. Especially as I thought this was a memoir; there is a website about it here. Bottom line is, this book was unfortunately mostly forgettable for me. I don\’t recall any of the characters or events very well. Have any of you read it? What did you think? Other readers (see below) seemed to like it better than I.

Rating: 2/5 ……… 402 pages, 1997

more opinions:
Liz Andra Shaw

by Pat Hutchins

I have been enjoying reading to my kids books that my own mother read to me as a child. And I\’m visiting many of them a second time around, as my youngest is now old enough to appreciate regular picture books. One of those on our shelf is Rosie\’s Walk, an old favorite. It\’s a simple picture book about a hen taking a walk through a farmyard. She\’s followed unawares by a sneaky fox. Every time the fox tries to pounce on the hen, he gets thwarted by one mishap or another: falls into the pond, trips on a rake, gets tangled in a rope, stumbles into a wagon, and so on. There are very few words (a nice emphasis on position or directionals: over, under, around, through, etc.) but the pictures are rich with texture and the chain of events is easy for young readers to follow. Will Rosie get home safe from the fox? Of course!

My daughter\’s favorite page is when the beehives fall over and the fox gets chased away by the bees. I always add a buzzing noise and sometimes a circling finger into a little giggly tummy.

Rating: 4/5 …….. 32 pages, 1968

more opinions:
Story Snug
goodnight moon, goodnight blog


All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it


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