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Friday, Friday: This Week’s Young Adult Books

September 17th, 2021

Hello, readers! Two new ones from the Wingfeather Saga:

“Pembrick’s Creaturepedia, Skreean Edition,” by Ollister B. Pembrick, translated from the original by Andrew Peterson, illustrated by O.B.P., with assistance from Aedan Peterson, “Master of Sketchery,” tra la la! (WaterBrook, 2014/2021, 122 pages, $13.99.) Cool illustrations, the text is fun, and the cover? So pretty. (Books that are precious and just feel good to read.) Nice pairing with “Wingfeather Tales: Seven Thrilling Stories from the World of Aerwiar” (Andrew Peterson, editor, WaterBrook/Multnomah, 2016/2021, 384 pages, $13.99).

Love, love, love graphic novels, and here’s a good one: “The Cardboard Kingdom #2: Roar of the Beast,” by Chad Sell. (Random House Children’s Books, 2021, ages 9-12, 288 pages, $12.99.)

Last but not least… “Good Dog: 4 Books in 1!” (Written by Cam Higgins, illustrated by Ariel Landy; “Home Is Where the Heart Is,” “Raised in a Barn,” “Herd You Loud and Clear” and “Fireworks Night”; Little Simon/Simon & Schuster; 2021; 491 awesome, fun-filled pages.) Great title for kids who are fans of dogs and other critters, farms and fun.

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

Wednesday Book Review: “What Are… ?” The WhoHQ series

September 15th, 2021

drippy rose

(Photo by Steven Pings Rawley; use with permission only)

The WhoHQ book series has been popular since the titles first started rolling off the presses. (WhoHQ, Who? What? Where? Your Headquarters for History; Penguin Workshop; $5.99 per title.) 

With 250 titles, and more on the way, it’s a comprehensive series, with titles about historical events from earthquakes to war, science, celebrities, historical figures… the list goes on and on with something for everyone. They’re aimed at ages 8-12, but kids who are younger and older enjoy the series, too. I can see the appeal — the covers are inviting and bright; the stories are well-written, and the books include pages and pages of photos, fact boxes, lots of art, timelines and bibliographies for readers who are looking for more.

They basically implement a variety of different techniques to help students learn. Hear, hear! We should all be so creative. Lol.

Here are four recent titles and all are great additions to the collection. If you’re looking for resources on how to use the series, a good place to start is with Dr. Loftin’s Learning Emporium. 

“What Are the Paralympics Games?”

“What Are the Summer Olympics?”

“Who Was Jesse Owens?”

“Who Was Kobe Bryant?”

Enjoy! Here’s to cool autumn days, warm blankets, hot soup and tea, and lots of books.

WM

Monday Book Review: Picture Books

September 6th, 2021

Team Rawley at the beach

(Photo by Steven Pings Rawley; use with permission only)

Well, it’s Labor Day here in the States, and I’m enjoying my day off, but I’d still like to give you a fast book round-up. Happy reading and bon appetit!

WM

Reviewed today:

This new series by Cocomelon arrived and honestly — right when you think baby books can’t get any better, they do.

“The Wheels on the Bus” (Simon Spotlight, board book, $7.99) by May Nakamura is a cool little book (the wheels really work!) and exactly the right size for small hands. There’s a story to go with the classic song. I’m taking this one in to read and sing with my preschoolers tomorrow a.m. after we’re back from break. Look for it when it’s released Sept. 14, 2021.

Did I say “preschoolers”? Yes, yes I did. It’s fall, and I’m now director/lead teacher at a preschool. Love it. They’re funny and sweet and love to read. My heroes. Awww… 

Speaking of those little heroes… I brought in Anita Lobel’s newest title, “Ducks on the Road: A Counting Adventure,” and they refused to give it back. It’s a counting book and a rhyming book, and it’s funny. The mama and the papa take their 10 babies out for a walk, but the babies are more interested in making friends than sticking with their parents. Adorable, great illustrations (of course. Lobel is legendary, go read about her) and if the preschoolers won’t turn it loose, you know it’s gotta be good. (Make sure to sing “Five Little Ducks” to go along with this one.)

Oh, wait. This Cocomelon is a cartoon hit, I getcha. So if you feel like having a dance party, go check it out.

(The students were yelling something at me about blooey, blooey! And then I remembered getting a review copy of a book about Bluey, the little blue heeler. “Oh! Bluey!” “Yes, Bluey, you know him?” I’ll review it when I locate it, but here’s another link for now.)

Three more Cocomelons, and off I go…

“Yes, Yes, Vegetables!”

“Ready for School!”

and…

“Hello, New Friend!”

How apropos. Have an awesome week!!!

Sunday Book Review: Parenting Books

August 25th, 2021

Summer 2021 + throwbacks

“When the Chickens Go Feral” (photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

It’s Sunday morning, and that means peace and quiet around here. At least for a minute until the gentleman farmers start zooming around on their tractors. Save it for the weekday mornings, guys. I’m zooming, too: Church. There are some adaptations we’ve made, during these pandemic times, that work pretty well, and some that don’t. For me, Zoom church works.

Especially since my church family is in Portland, Ore., and I’m not.

Monday morning now… book review time. I’ve received a few review copies recently of parenting books, and have picked up and been gifted some how-to, self-help type books. This is a good selection! Enjoy.

“The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity,” by Julia Cameron (TarcherPerigee, 245 pages). I’m looking forward to reading more of this 25th anniversary edition, which was first published in 1992. A friend sent it along and I’m so touched that she did. The author calls it a “support kit for artists” and it really is. Just a lovely book and I’m glad it’s still in print. Thank you, R, for sending it. Love you.

I’m also reading “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” by Elizabeth Gilbert (Riverhead Books/Penguin Random House, 2015, 273 pages, $24.95). It’s awesome, this book. It’s especially needed right now, as many of us are experiencing ongoing pandemic fatigue and wondering what 2021, 2022 and the next decade will hold. We will get through it, but it’s still too intense right now. So this book helps, thanks, Ms. Gilbert.

“How to Raise Kids Who Aren’t Assholes: Science-Based Strategies for Better Parenting — From Tots to Teens,” by Melinda Wenner Moyer (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2021, 340 pages, $27.) Another thank you. That’s all. Just thank you.

“License to Parent: How My Career as a Spy Helped Me Raise Resourceful, Self-Sufficient Kids,” by Christina Hillsberg, with Ryan Hillsberg. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Random House, 2021, 275 pages, $26). These two worked for the CIA, went on to other adventures, and then wrote this parenting book. Hmm.

“Blend,” by Mashonda Tifrere, with Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz (TarcherPerigee, 2018, 244 pages, $27). My favorite of all parenting books. Read it even if you haven’t had a split in your family (and honestly, who hasn’t had to deal with some sort of separation/divorce/loss and grief in their family?). Tifrere soul-searched following her split with Beatz, and his remarriage to musician Keys. She takes on all of it: Communication, co-parenting, egos, weaknesses, strengths, the love we have for our kids, and the children in our families, healthy relationships, friendships, all of it. This is a brilliant, poignant, deep book and meant to help in the healing process. I just loved it.

“The Making of Home: The 500-Year Story of How Our Houses Became Our Homes,” by Judith Flanders (St. Martin’s Press, 2015, 346 pages, $26.99). This one is next in the stack!

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

Sunday Book Review

August 1st, 2021

Woof and meow 💜

“Springtime in the Valley,” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley

Here’s a photo from a few months ago. I cannot believe that it’s August 1st today, it seems so fast. But it also feels like mid-September, or even early October, in spite of the heat and the wildfires, so I remain out of sorts. The birds are plucking all of the grapes, even though they’re not quite ripened. The black raspberries are gone, the roses have bloomed and wilted, and the daylilies, too. The red plums are gone, but the purple plums, and the yellow plums, are placid and on schedule. I leave the sprinklers on for the hens, the wild birds, the deer, the new fawns and the other critters. I leave out bowls of water, and cat food for the two strays, one gray and one black.

The Delta variant has many of us worried. Covid-19 continues to kick our asses and kill us. We’re ready to stop worrying, but that’s never going to happen. Worry is the human condition. Maybe, eventually, more people will agree to be vaccinated and we can move on. Maybe. So I read, I write, I call friends and write letters and cards. I garden and take care of the kids, and my friends and family, and they, in turn, take care of me.

And I review books.

Can’t wait to share these titles with you — all picture books for the littles (and for the bigs who appreciate education, art and good stories).

“Listen,” by Gabi Snyder, illustrated  by Stephanie Graegin (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2021, ages 4-8, $17.99). I highly recommend “listening” walks, they’re the best. (My kids and I often took these when they were little, and still enjoy them now.) They’re especially needed, I think, during the middle of winter, and the dog days of summer. This is a sweet picture book about a little girl who just hears NOISE in her world, until she closes her eyes and drinks in, absorbs, and feels each sound around her. 

The crow cawing. The dog yapping. The teakettle whistling. “Hello,” called across the playground. Wind. Rain.

Lovely book, and the shades of blue the illustrator used soften everything and really bring out the quietness and peace of the story. 

“Making a Baby,” written by Rachel Greener and illustrated by Clare Owen (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2020, $17.99). No, no, sorry, I’m too young for this one. But the kids have questions, and books can be helpful in providing answers. This one provides answers, and, um, pictures. So now I’m blushing and have to leave. Bye.

“Different: A Great Thing to Be!” written by Heather Avis, with illustrations by Sarah Mensinga (Waterbrook Multnomah, 2021, 40 pages, $11.99). Delightful book about a young girl with special needs, and a glimpse into her life. Written in rhymes, with bright, colorful illustrations, it’s a nice introduction about the feelings of others, their abilities and challenges, and how to reach out and make sure no one is excluded.

“Chirp! Chipmunk Sings for a Friend,” written by Jamie A. Swenson, with illustrations by Scott Magoon (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2021, ages 4-8, $17.99). 

“Chipmunk lived on a rock… Sometimes Chipmunk’s songs were happy. Sometimes her songs were bittersweet. And sometimes her songs were very sad indeed.”

Chipmunk is alone, except for her rock. This is the story of how she strikes out in the world, seeking friends. Whimsical, ethereal illustrations, and a great story.

Bon appetit, everyone.

WM

Friday Book Review

April 9th, 2021

So many photos ❤️

(“My Best Chickens” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

“What We’ll Build: Plans for Our Together Future,” by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel Books/Penguin Random House, 2020, $19.99). Nice new picture book from Jeffers (“The Day the Crayons Quit,” “How to Catch a Star,” “Lost and Found”) about a father and daughter who are building, literally and figuratively, for the future. Sweet, bright art depicting tools, a house being built, whimsical items, a ship that won’t sink… It’s the best combination of fantasy and reality.

“Let’s build a tunnel to anywhere. Le’s build a road up to the moon.” 

See more from Jeffers at his website.

“Hooray for Helpers! First Responders and More Heroes in Action,” by Mike Austin (Random House Books, 2020, $17.99). Good timing for this picture book, which also includes an interview with a real firefighter, an emergency supplies checklist and instructions for making an emergency contact list. Austin is married to author-illustrator Jing Jing Tsong and they have a sweet dog named Prudence. Look for them at jingandmike.com

“Oscar’s American Dream,” written by Barry Wittenstein and illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell, is a historical fiction-style picture book with an “old-timey” feel. (Random House Books, 2020, $17.99.) Soft, muted pastels are used to illustrate the fictional story of Oskar Nowicki, who “arrived at Ellis Island carrying his life in a cardboard suitcase and a skinny roll of money in his coat pocket, a loan from his mother in Poland for a down payment on his dream.” 

He switches the “k” in his name to a “c,” in an effort to fit into his new country; he opens “Oscar’s All-American Barbershop in Manhattan; and gives away free haircuts to his first twenty customers “and lemon drops to all the boys and girls.”

The book traces the storefront’s evolution over the years, from barbershop to women’s clothing store to soup kitchen during the Great Depression and so on through modern times. It’s an interesting slice of American history, and includes info on suffragettes, wartime, the Civil Rights movement, and more. I appreciate the details and warmth of the Ezra Jack Keats-style paper and paint art.  

Wittenstein’s website is onedogwoof.com; and you’ll find the Howdeshells at thebraveunion.com.

Bon appetit, babies! Have a great weekend.

WM

 

  

 

 

Sunday Book Review: “The Little Kitten,” “A Story for Small Bear,” “I’m Feeling School Bus Yellow!” “The War with Grandpa” & “Good Morning Zoom”

October 18th, 2020

It’s nearly Halloween, y’all, and just in time, here comes “The Little Kitten,” by Nicola Killen (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2020, $16.99). Little Ollie and her kitten Pumpkin find a lost kitten, and what will they do? Where will they go? Nice illustrations, with a black, orange, white and gray color scheme.

“A Story for Small Bear” is a sweet and lovey picture book, written by Alice B. McGinty (“The Sea Knows,” “The Girl Who Named Pluto,” and many others) illustrated by Richard Jones (whose other work includes “Whale in a Fishbowl”) (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020, $17.99). It’s hard to believe that so much love and heart can leap out of the pages like they do with this book, about mama bear trying to get her baby bear prepared for a winter rest. The story is dear, the illustrations are beautiful. Try not to get tears in your eyes. Good luck. I think the kids will adore this one for a bedtime story.

Bad timing, alas, for “I’m Feeling School Bus Yellow!” a promotional book by Crayola, starring their colors Blue Violet, Macaroni and Cheese, Scarlet and Jungle Green. It’s a sweet little board book, but made me lonely. Back to school time only it’s not. Will be good, though, for reminding kids that they will, someday, go back to school, and this is what classrooms, buses and school days look like. (Crayola, Simon & Schuster, 2020, for the littles, $6.99.)

I love autumn, but this autumn is kinda breaking all of our hearts. We can get through it together, okay? OK.

Really fun oldie but goodie with Robert Kimmel Smith’s “The War with Grandpa” (Yearling Humor, 1984, ages 8-12, 140 pages, $6.99). Why the re-release? It’s now a moving picture, yep, starring… you know them, you love them, or you might not love them, what do I know? … Robert De Niro, Uma! Thurman, Christopher Walker, Jane Seymour and Cheech Marin… sure. Sounds good already. (If you had told me that Robert “Travis Bickle” DeNiro was eventually going to end up cast as a beloved dad and grandpa, I probably would have said, “Raging Bull, seriously?” But he’s a complex man, De Niro. We know this already.)

Kimmel is probably best known for his book “Chocolate Fever.” (“The War with Grandma” is coming out next summer.)

Last book for today… “Good Morning Zoom,” (modeled after Margaret Wise Brown’s “Goodnight Moon”) which calls itself “a parody,” even though it’s pretty much reality, has words by Lindsay Rechler and pictures by June Park.

Two words: Too soon.

Tuesday Book Review — prayers & meditation & finding my way: “The Little Book of Prayers,” Santa Biblia/Holy Bible, “Brave Enough,” “Prayers for Hope & Comfort,” “A Year with Rumi” & “Teaching with Fire”

June 9th, 2020

So once upon a time, America was a mess. This has been going on since Christopher Columbus showed up, so let’s start in 1492. That’s a long time, babies. Too long.

I’m not protesting in the streets this time, but I have been lighting my candles at home, talking with family and friends, praying. Meditating. Writing. It’s been intense to see and hear about everyone making changes that people have been trying to make for centuries now. Rest in peace to everyone, all over the world, who has died in the fight, who has died, fighting for justice. Peace and love to everyone out there who is fighting.

It’s long overdue, peace and justice. It should have happened a long time ago, but if it’s finally going to happen… now? I’ll take now.

Here are the books that are getting me through, it’s the usual cast of characters:

“The Little Book of Prayers,” edited by David Schiller. I think this one is just about perfect.

Santa Biblia/Holy Bible — various authors. My kids’ dad gifted me this, many years ago. I like practicing my Spanish. :)

“Brave Enough,” by Cheryl Strayed

“Prayers for Hope and Comfort,” by Maggie Oman Shannon

“A Year with Rumi: Daily Readings”

“Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach,” edited by Sam M. Intrator & Megan Scribner

Book Reviews: “Wreck This Journal,” “In My Heart” and “Human(Kind)”

April 19th, 2020

Woof and meow 💜

Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley

Woof and meow 💜

At home, a couple of years ago — Photo by Steve Rawley/use with permission only

Well, how about some book reviews? We can still read. Books are allowed, even in a pandemic. Even though the libraries are closing. And the bookstores. Rough times. I am not a medical expert, I’m just a worried mom. We’re okay at our house; hope you and yours are as well. Let’s all be well together, apart. I can’t do much about any of this, but I can keep posting recipes, and book reviews. It’s not much but it’s all I’ve got.

Here’s a good bread recipe that I have been baking in our breadmaker a bunch lately. Bon appetit, babies.

Yummy White Bread a la Wacky Mommy

1 1/4 cups warm (not hot) water
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, butter or shortening
1 package (2 teaspoons) dry yeast

Add to breadmaker in order given; bake on setting for 2-pound loaf, light crust. Enjoy.

And now, book reviews… what’s in the hopper?

“Wreck This Journal,” by Keri Smith (A Penguin Book, 2020, $16). This series is a lot of fun, my kids, their friends and my students have enjoyed the books over the years. This one is in color, which is cool. Pages encourage the user to “work only with colors you hate,” “drip something here” or “mix so many colors they turn to mud.” All of the prompts are pretty fun. 

The author also has a website and some inspiration exploration on Instagram.

“In My Heart,” by Mackenzie Porter, illustrated by Jenny Lovile (Little Simon, 2020, all ages, $7.99). This sweet board book was released on March 10th, just before many of us in America went into quarantine, and before the schools all closed. It’s a tender, beautifully illustrated book about a little girl who is missing her mom, who is busy at work. But she knows she will see her soon, likes that they are eating the same food, just in two different places, and they know that even “though we’re not together, we’re never truly apart, because you’re always on my mind and you’re always in my heart.”

The poignancy of that little refrain takes on a whole new meaning now, and it makes the book even more lovely than it already was.

Me, even though I’m a big girl? Missing mommy. She’s doing fine, and we’re all checking on her. We’ll get to see each other soon. Or eventually. But we will see each other, and I’m looking forward to taking her out for brunch, and having our coffee. Together.

I’m getting some guidance and support from “Human(Kind): How Reclaiming Human Worth and Embracing Radical Kindness Will Bring Us Back Together,” by Ashlee Eiland (WaterBrook, 2020, 224 pages, $15.99). Inspirational book by the formation and preaching pastor at Mars Hills Bible Church. Each personal essay has a title and a theme (curiosity, belonging, expectation). They’re thoughtful. Words can hurt, but with books like Eiland’s? Words help.

Be safe, be well, talk soon.

Nancy  

(PS — disclaimer — my family is employed by Amazon, but we aren’t paid for my book links.)

 

Monday Recipe Club: Lemon Snaps & Chocolate Chip Cookies

January 27th, 2020

Sky and ocean

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

The holidays seem like forever ago now, but we had fun. Hope you did, too.

I did a lot of baking to share with friends, co-workers and us, the cookie monsters. I baked a spiral-cut ham, thank you Winco, homemade mac and cheese, meatballs, more meatballs, and lots and lots of cookies. I was watching the Sopranos (for the dozenth time. My version of the 12 Days of Christmas) and Carmela… with the ziti. With the sweet sausage. With the lasagna with the layer of fresh basil. With the espresso and the Lemon Snaps for the church bake sale. I love that girl, I love that character.

These are my two new/old favorite recipes.

Lemon Snaps

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons lemon zest
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheets.

Stir together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and lemon zest. (Wait. I didn’t have lemons so I used satsumas and oh yes. Great idea.)

Pour in the oil, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir.

Drop cookie dough by teaspoonfuls into the powdered sugar, then transfer to cookie sheet. Bake for 7 to 12 mins or until browned.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups chocolate chips (I like a mix of white and milk chocolate)

Cream together butter and sugars, add eggs and vanilla. Mix in the rest of the ingredients, adding chocolate chips last. Drop by teaspoonsful onto greased cookie sheets, bake about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. I prefer these as a bar cookie. Spread the dough into a greased 9×13 pan, bake about 15-20 minutes.

Bon appetit, babes. Happy Year of the Rat.

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