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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 (who 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 so good, 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 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.

And it’s okay that

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.

West Coast on fire

September 13th, 2020

9/12/2020

Is the world on fire where you are? It’s on fire here in Oregon. Our little zone seems to be okay, for now, but that could change. The truck is packed, our quick bags are ready to go.

Keep us in your prayers.

I’m checking this Air Quality site compulsively. 

In my town, we’ve been hovering between “Unhealthy” and “Hazardous.” (I checked one last time before I fell asleep last night — Salem, Ore., just north of us, was off the charts, and so was Portland, Ore.) The West coast currently has the worst air quality *on the planet.* We had to be best at something, I guess.

Our air quality inside the house is okay for now, smokewise, but it was very smoky earlier in the week. And I have asthma. So there you have it. I have two inhalers next to me, and a big bottle of water.

Millions of acres lost, all along the West Coast, along with homes. The death toll is climbing. My good thoughts, prayers and anything else I’ve got, going out to the families and loved ones who have been lost or are struggling now. And there’s the Pandemic. And the civil unrest. It’s been six months today since my school district shut down and I was furloughed. I’m back to work now. Many, many thousands and millions of others have it worse than my family and friends do, but all of this is taking its toll, in small ways and large, on every single one of us. Peace and healing and rain are needed, stat.

My sister sent me this list that she got from her neighborhood Facebook group. We don’t have an air purifier and needed something. It cuts the smoke, purifies the air, makes you relax. I’m just saying, it’s working. The air is so dry and horrible, my asthma has been rough, and this has helped. Be safe, love you all.

WM

Respiratory Hack- Herbal Crock Pot Steamer

Plants often used to help with breathing/lungs include:

  • Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis
  • Juniper Juniperus
  • Cedar Thuja occidentalis
  • Sage Salvia
  • Mugwort/Sagebrush Artemisia
  • Bee Balm Monarda
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Eucalyptus

My sis and I are using the handy-dandy Crockpots, but you could just as easily use a big pot of (uncovered) water on the stove. Bring to boil and then simmer, uncovered. Turn it off before you go to bed, cover it, then turn it back on again in the morning. Will be good for a couple of three days. Just keep adding more herbs, citrus and oils. I added:

Peppermint tea bags

Tea with lemon balm/chamomile

Lemon slices

And half a bag of awesome herbs from Sweet Mountaintop Farm and my dear Kate.

Any kinds of herbs are going to be nice, oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, whatever’s on hand. Or get the store to deliver some stuff.

Pray for rain pray for rain for everywhere in the world that needs it.

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.)

 

Building a new/old life, one plant and one chicken at a time… and Pandemic 2020

March 22nd, 2020

Pandemic 2020, Corvallis (plus old shots of Beaverton)  💜

Pandemic 2020, Corvallis (plus old shots of Beaverton)  💜

“Dancing Chickens” photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley

I started this draft a few weeks ago, then got busy getting back to teaching (reading groups, recess and cafeteria duty, and assisting students with special needs. I miss my library and computer lab work, I’ve only been doing a little of that). The kids and I spent the fall and winter doing our usual stuff — being stressed, fighting various viruses, dealing with homework and school and work, pets and livestock, taking care of errands and trying to figure out plans for spring and summer break.

Then the entire world fell apart.

Here are my notes for the draft:

  • planter box/trellis for grapes
  • blackberry cobbler — yes, if you rip out all the blackberries, you’ll have your backyard back, but what will you do for cobblers and crisps? (she says, then rips out all the blackberries and mows down the roots)
  • chickens
  • plants
  • the deer leave these plants alone: herbs, hellebores, daffodils, snowdrops, violets, rhodies and azaleas

I would give anything to go back and remember what it was, exactly, I was doing with that draft. To see where I would have gone with it. To be living in the world that was week before last and not in this fresh hell we’re in right now.

I miss my husband. He’s there for me, for us, for the kids. But I miss being married. But we both have support, and good, kind people in our lives. Our friends and extended families, the grandparents, our neighbors — everyone is okay. So that is good enough for today. For now. We’re still partners, we’re still there for each other. It’s just really different than what it was.

It’s 59 degrees here in the Willamette Valley, sunny and perfect. It’s spring break. And in our state, and others, the governors are telling us we’re in lockdown, please stay at home, please don’t go out unless you have to go to the doctor’s office, or the hospital, or to the store, or to get some exercise, but keep your distance from the other walkers/hikers/skiers/players.

Social distancing. 

And wash your hands. Don’t cough and sneeze on people. Look in on your neighbors. 

I am worried. We’re all scared. There have been so many deaths already from the corona virus, and more to come. But there are also so many people who are having mild cases and getting through it, or even terrible cases of it and getting through it.

People are stepping up like crazy. Except for the President and his crew, they’re just all crazy. We’ll survive them, and the virus.

My friend Elaine has me hooked on the Hallmark Channel — we’re watching nonstop “Golden Girls” re-runs and Christmas movies over here, even though it’s March. I picked up a bunch of four-dollar sale books from Winco; I’ve started them and they’re all good. 

Adriana Trigiani’s “Kiss Carlo”

Wally Lamb’s “I’ll Take You There”

Phillip Lewis’s “The Barrowfields”

Sara Blaedel’s “The Undertaker’s Daughter”

Prayers, peace, and good thoughts. Be well and be safe.

xo

Wacky Mommy

Hey, hey, what’s up? New Book Review, a la Wacky Mommy: “The Bug Girl (A True Story,” by Sophia Spencer, Margaret McNamara & Kerascoet; “Hello, World!” series: “Rainforest Animals” & “Construction Site,” by Jill McDonald; “The Story Pirates Present: Quest for the Crystal Crown,” by Annabeth Bondor-Stone, Connor White & Joe Todd-Stanton

February 16th, 2020

Sky and ocean

(My Favorite Piano, photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Yay, new books, yay!

* “The Bug Girl (A True Story)” (Schwartz & Wade Books, 2020, ages 4 and older, 44 pages, $17.99). This one was written by the “Bug Girl herself,” the cover says, Sophia Spencer, with Margaret McNamara, illustrated by Kerascoet. Wow, that was a mouthful. But not a mouthful of bugs, which, as we all know, is no dang fun.

Being bullied is also no dang fun, and that’s what Sophia faced in real life, just because she loved bugs. But she got through it, with the help of her mom and some cool scientist friends. And now we can all hear her story. Sophia’s story is inspiring and beautiful. She’s a fourth grader now, and lives with her mama in Canada.

* Two new books board books have been released from the “Hello, World!” series. Both were written by Jill McDonald. “Rainforest Animals” and “Construction Site” (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2020, 0-3 years, $7.99 apiece). I do love this series. The candy colors are inviting and sweet, and just like “The Bug Girl,” both books are full of good words and facts.

* Book of the week: “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe,” C.S. Lewis (Scholastic, 1950, 189 pages). I’m re-reading this with the second graders at the school where I’m working this year. Haven’t read it since I was a kid, and it’s neat to see it through their eyes. “Hey, was this a movie?” Yes, and the movie was good, but the book is even better. (Smiles.)

* “Quest for the Crystal Crown,” a new release in the Story Pirates Series, is a lot of fun. (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2020, ages 8-12, 288 pages, $13.99.) My students are liking this series, too, with its “Choose Your Own Adventure” spirit.

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

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.

Saturday Book Review: “Rover Throws a Party,” by Kristin L. Gray & Scott Magoon; “Rumple Buttercup,” by Matthew Gray Gubler; “The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read,” by Philippa Perry; and Dubravka Kolanovic’s “Hello, Bunny” & “Love You, Baby”

December 28th, 2019

December 2019 + old shots

Sky and ocean

(Photos by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Yes, my loves. Here is another book review, this time with kids and babies in mind.

“Rover Throws a Party,”written by Kristin L. Gray, with illustrations by Scott Magoon (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers; scheduled for release March 31, 2020; ages 3-7; 40 pages; $17.99). This neat picture book is inspired by NASA’s Curiosity on Mars, and really, this is pretty cool, even for those of us who aren’t space geeks. The book will be released March 31, 2020, and is a good one to keep in mind, especially to gift a classroom teacher with.

The galleys look good — lots of reds, blues and purples. The illustrations and photos are great, and I always appreciate a good bibliography and a fact page, which this book includes. Lots of different fonts, plus science facts included with a sweet story about Rover’s one-year birthday party in space make for a fun read that will engage kids of all ages.

My apologies, because I wrote a draft review of this one ages ago, and forget to hit publish. Whoops. “Rumple Buttercup: A Story of Bananas, Belonging, and Being Yourself,” by Matthew Gray Gubler (who my big kids know from the show “Criminal Minds,” but of course) (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2019, all ages, $14.99).

Rumple Buttercup kinda looks like a mess, with his five crooked teeth, three strands of hair, green skin, and left foot which is slightly bigger than his right foot. But he’s the coolest guy. I think readers will really be able to identify with our hero, and his imaginary friend Candy Corn Carl.

The format of the book is cool — novel, graphic novel and picture book all in one, with simple illustrations in green, yellow and pink, on a cream background. The story is delightful.

Next up: Philippa Perry’s parenting book, “The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read” (Pamela Dorman Books Life; scheduled for release Feb. 4, 2020; 300 pages; $24). It’s getting great reviews ’round the world and all. Perry is a psychotherapist and “agony aunt” with a couple of decades’ worth of experience behind her, who lives in London.

She’s funny (she’s not kidding around, though) and I like her thinking. Give it a read.

Last but not least… board books for babies!

Two new titles in the Welcome, Baby series, from author/illustrator Dubravka Kolanovic, “Hello, Bunny” and “Love you, Baby” (Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2019, ages 0-3, $7.99-$9.99 apiece). Kolanovic is a fantastic painter from Zagreb, Croatia. The books are beautiful — one shaped with scalloped edges, and one shaped with hearts. Perfect for spring or any other time. Fun rhymes and sweet critters.

Kolanovic has illustrated a ton of stuff, so go look up her work.

Bon appetit, babies.

Wacky Mommy

Sunday Book Review — Grown-up Books: “An Atomic Romance,” by Bobbie Ann Mason & “American Wife,” by Curtis Sittenfeld

December 1st, 2019

Sky and ocean

(Photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Just started Bobbie Ann Mason’s “An Atomic Romance” (Random House, 2005, 277 pages). This “signed by the author!” copy came from my local Little Free Library. You know those little neighborhood free book kiosks that you see all over the place now? Especially if you live in Oregon? OK, maybe only in Oregon, since I never travel out of state. Kidding! I know it’s an international thing.

I’ve never read anything by Mason, but so far so good, babies. I’ll get back to you.

Just finished “American Wife,” by Curtis Sittenfeld (Random House, 2008, 555 pages) and it’s something else. (I like writing book reviews on my own site, because I’m going to say whatever I feel like saying.) (Always.) (“Wow, this book was really neato.”) (Fresh, hot, daily, by Wacky Mommy.)

Both this and “An Atomic Romance” were good Free Library finds. The latter is a paperback copy, not shredded. “American Wife” is hardcover, in pretty decent condition, other than the cover being slightly battered. I like the notes, bookmarks and other telltale signs that you find with used books. This one is stamped on the inside: “No Longer Property of the Queens Library/ Sale of This Item Supported the Library.” The back inside cover has the Queens Library website on a sticker. The sticker on the back is from Cel-Hot Picks!, located on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica, N.Y. It traveled all the way from the East Coast to the West Coast (best coast), it had a life before it got here.

So I was already enamored of this book, as you can probably tell, before I even opened it.

Sittenfeld is quite brilliant, I do say, in the way she tells this elegant, thoughtful tale of a fictional politician’s wife, a character who may or may not be based on former First Lady Laura Bush, and her story. You get to hear the most intimate details of her life, in all their sexiness, matter-of-factness, candidness, tedium and every other emotion you can think of.

She became my friend, Alice, we became one-way confidants, even though she’s not real, even though she stepped into my life and stepped out again so gracefully. The supporting cast is great, too — well-rounded, funny, harsh. Human. Brilliant fictional humans.

It’s a crazy, backwards fairytale, this book.

OK, now back to those Little Free Libraries for a moment. They’ve been a thing for awhile now, and they’re pretty cool. I’ve passed along and picked up a number of copies. But… but… but… If you don’t want that book, especially if it’s really tattered, mildewy or moldy, probably no one else wants it, either.

In most of Oregon (not the High Desert, central and Eastern sections of the state), man does it get wet. So the Little Free Libraries, which are mostly outdoor, freestanding structures, can get musty and damp. Which is hell on books. So please rotate those collections, and replace the structures when needed. One of our neighborhood LFLs had a massive infestation of yellow jackets.

So that was fun, too.

This public service announcement brought to you by moi, WM.

Bon appetit!

Big, Big, Super-Duper Book Review! Or, What’s New on My Nightstand: “Thomas Paine and the Dangerous Word,” by Sarah Jane Marsh & Edwin Fotheringham; “Freya & Zoose,” by Emily Butler & Jennifer Thermes; Wee Society’s “Write On: My Story Journal” & “Yay! My Celebration Journal”; and “In the Night Kitchen,” by Maurice Sendak

November 11th, 2019

So many photos ❤️

(Dorothy & Alice art credit goes to… someone)

Oh, babies and big kids, get over here. Books! Some old, some new, and lots coming in for holiday reading and gift-giving.

“Thomas Paine and the Dangerous Word,” by Sarah Jane Marsh, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Disney-Hyperion, 2018, ages 8 and up, $19.99). He was expected to spend his life following his family’s tradition of sewing underwear, and that alone is enough to give readers a laugh or smile. Thomas Paine, an English corset-maker’s son, had different ideas. He met Benjamin Franklin, traveled to America, and the rest is the American Revolution and U.S. history. Really cool book about Paine’s writing and its impact, and the art is fantastic.

“The mind once enlightened cannot again become dark.” Yes, yes.

He wrote essays protesting slavery, “…selling husbands away from wives, children from parents… is this doing to them as we would desire they should do to us?” which encouraged people to start abolitionists societies and end slavery.

When he was writing his pamphlet, “Common Sense,” he was warned by his peers to avoid the word “independence.”

So he used it 22 times.

Independence, independence, independence…

We need to remember Paine’s words today.

“Freya & Zoose,” by Emily Butler, illustrated by Jennifer Thermes (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2019, 208 pages, ages 8-12, $16.99). Now comes this sweet novel about Freya, a rockhopper penguin, and her unlikely traveling companion, Zoose the mouse. The book is set in 1897, at the time of S.A. Andree’s Arctic Balloon Expedition. This one is fun, and the illustrations help bring the story to life.

Two new ones from Wee Society: “Write On: My Story Journal” and “Yay! My Celebration Journal” (Clarkson Potter, 2019, ages 5 and up, $14.99 apiece). I’m torn on these books. (Torn? Page? Get it?) Well, I am. Because they’re very cool, but they look too much like books, and not enough like journals, and if a journal looks too much like a book, no one wants to “dirty it up.”

Nonetheless, they are neat, with lots of places to scribble, tear, create and write. I’m a big fan of writing prompts, and the way “Write On” has approached it is with scene, character and conflict cards. For example: You’re in a hidden forest, with a talking burrito and taco, and… they couldn’t stop dancing!

So that’s pretty fun. Go all crazy, y’all.

“In the Night Kitchen,”by Maurice Sendak (Harper Collins, 1970). This one is just for me and my own big kids.

This classic is as much fun as “Where the Wild Things Are,” but doesn’t get as much airplay. It often lands on “banned books” lists because our hero, Mickey, is nudie patootie. (“Mama! Papa!”) Man, do I love this book.

He hears a “racket in the night,” has a fit, falls through the dark and floats out of his jammies, “past the moon & his mama & papa sleeping tight” and into the Night Kitchen.

Love, love, love.

Bon appetit, babies! Have a great November.

Wacky Mommy

Book Review: Books for Babies (and one for the big kids)!! Bedtime Classics: “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” by Lewis Carroll & Carly Gledhill and “The Nutcracker,” by E.T.A. Hoffmann & Carly Gledhill; Hello, World!: “Pets” & “Arctic Animals,” by Jill McDonald; plus “Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species,” adapted by Sabina Radeva

October 16th, 2019

This life...

(“Good morning, sunshine!” Photo by Rawley)

The fall books are arriving, and that makes life just a little sweeter, especially when the books are finally starting to reflect the actual country that we live in.

The majority of preschoolers in the United States today are non-white, aka “from a minority background.” This statistic has been accurate for several years now. (Since at least 2015, according to the people who pull the numbers together.) When the minority becomes the majority? That means, my friends, yes, America is a melting pot, which we already knew, and we love that.

Yet only 23 percent of children’s books published last year reflect this diversity.

Along comes Bedtime Classics, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” based on the Lewis Carroll story, and illustrated by the talented Carly Gledhill. Gledhill, an artist from the United Kingdom, did a lovely job with the Alice tale, and littles will be happy to meet the Cheshire Cat and the rest of Carroll’s crew in this sweet little board book.

Gledhill also illustrated a cool version (just in time for the holidays) of “The Nutcracker,” by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Both new releases are published by Penguin/Random House, 2019, cost $7.99 apiece, and are the first two in a new series, which will include “Jack and the Beanstalk,” “The Wizard of Oz” and other titles.

The Hello, World! series also has new books out. “Pets” and “Arctic Animals,” Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2019, $7.99 each, offer innovative ways to introduce the little ones to non-fiction info about animals, to identify colors and shapes, and voila! learn how to read, too.

The books are fun. We have a cute little rabbit, for example, with “long, floppy ears, whiskers, and a nose they can twitch,” a prompt to practice twitching your nose like a bunny, and some fun facts. (“Rabbits eat hay, fruits, and vegetables.”) Both books have the same style, and it’s just a fun way to work on a lot of educational stuff without being bossy about it. Lol.

Now, one for the big kids. Sabina Radeva, another artist from the U.K., has adapted and illustrated Charles Darwin’s classic, “On the Origin of Species” (Crown Books for Young Readers/Random House, 2019, ages 4 and up, 64 pages, $18.99 and worth every penny). This extraordinary adaptation gives us lots of science facts, distilled for the younger crowd, along with biographical information on Darwin.

“Wacky Mommy,” you might ask, “Is this really a book my niece/nephew is going to want? Shouldn’t I buy them another Captain Underpants book, instead?” Well. You should buy them Captain Underpants, because that series is great. But you should also buy this one, too. Kids dig non-fiction, biographies, autobiographies, and all sorts of unexpected stuff.

Happy reading! Bon appetit!

Wacky Mommy at Large

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