Excellent Blog
2007 Inspiring Blog
Rockin' Girl Blogger

Gift ideas 2022

November 23rd, 2022

Bok!

(“Last summer…” photo by Nancy)

Hello, dear friends and readers, how are you today? It’s cold and clear here, but not pouring like it was yesterday. I was out and about, and the roads resembled lakes. The underside of my car is washed clean now.

But today I’m home and rocketing through a list of books for you. Any and all would be great holiday or birthday or no-reason-needed gifts. I’m going to organize it a bit differently, and just throw some great titles at you. I wouldn’t mind uncovering my dining room table, I think it’s there, somewhere, under the stacks and stacks of new titles. So here we go. I’ll give you three categories: All ages, big kids and little kids.

Please support authors, illustrators, book publishers and the work they do, and your local booksellers, too. I always include Amazon links because they’re easy. Check with local booksellers, though, because they often ship or sometimes even deliver in person, or let you do a drive-by pick up.

XO and happy shopping.

WM

For all ages:

“Lunar New Year Mad Libs,” yes, I said Mad Libs. Super fun way to entertain the kids and each other at a gathering or party.

“Give This Book Away!” by Darren Farrell, illustrated by Maya Tatsukawa (Random House Kids, 2022, $18.99). This is a super idea — take this pretty picture book, take the love, take the words, take the kindness, spread it around. Pass it on. Especially love the flyleaves — lines and space to write the names (and cities) of everyone the book has gone to. Aw. Y’all know I live for stuff like this. Share the soup, share the space, share the compassion. Just do it. (Nike didn’t make that up… I did. LOL.)

“Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea,” by Ashley Herring Blake, is a middle grade book, but I’m including it under all ages because it deals with grief (loss of a parent) in such a thoughtful way. I really love this book, which includes a family story, a mystery from the past, a mermaid’s tale, and, of course, the deep blue sea. Highly recommended.

“The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Life in Native America,” young readers adaptation, and “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee,” the grown-up edition will be good additions to your bookshelf. (David Treuer, who is Ojibwe, from the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, a New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist; Penguin Young Readers, 2022, ages 12 and up, 275 pages, $19.99.)

For the big kids:

“We Were the Fire: Birmingham 1963,” written by Shelia P. Moses (Penguin Young Readers/Nancy Paulsen Books, 2022, ages 8-12, 159 pages, $17.99), is moving historical fiction about the American Civil Rights Movement. This one should really be included in the all ages list, it’s powerful and needed.

“Core 52 Family Edition,” by Mark E. Moore and Megan Howerton (WaterBrook/Multnomah, 2022, 223 pages, $16.99), is a guide to building kids’ Bible confidence. (There is a “Core 52” for the grownups, too.)

Fairy tales! Always. “Cinderella — with Dogs!” is a great new title from Linda Bailey, with hilarious and sweet illustrations by Freya Hartas (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2022, $18.99). Woof!

For the little kids:

“Chinese New Year,” a Mr. Men Little Miss Book, originated by Roger Hargreaves (written and illustrated by Adam Hargreaves, Grosset & Dunlap, 2018, $4.99). This series, which started in 1971, is just a lot of fun. We catch up with our friends, Little Miss Neat, Mr. Greedy, Little Miss Shy and all the others, trying to celebrate the New Year and messing it up thoroughly. Completely. Is there any hope for this crowd? Haha.

Two more for Lunar New Year, which is coming up early for 2023… Jan. 22nd. Yes! Year of the Rabbit, on of my favorites. Beautiful. * “Alex’s Good Fortune,” by Benson Shum (Penguin Workshop, 2020, $4.99). and… * “Natasha Wing’s The Night Before Lunar New Year,” with Lingfeng Ho, art by Amy Wummer.

Uni the Unicorn is my new best friend, yo. So cute. Hello, “The Haunted Pumpkin Patch,” (with stickers! Sorry. Little late on this title); “How to Say Thank You” (includes punch-out thank you cards) and… “Reindeer Helper.” All titles are written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, with illustrations by Brigette Barrager. (Random House, 2022, $6.99-$10.99.)

Friday, Friday, Book Day

November 11th, 2022

Pix

“Stealing All the Scratch,” photo by moi, Nancy Ellen Row Rawley

I love the deer, I do.  Look at those spots! (The babies are bigger now, and still not full-sized, but have lost their spots, alas.) Honestly, though, they need to ramble on and find other food sources. The poor chickens. The deer eat all the food I scatter for the birds, then wedge into their coop and eat whatever they can get from the dispenser.

Only… poor chickens nothing! I saw one of the big girls chase off three deer (not these ones — a buck and two does) the other day, and it was pretty funny. I stamped my foot at them, shoo! and the Ameraucana (do you know what they look like? They’re gorgeous, and their eggs are cool) came tearing up behind me, lieutenant chicken, there to aid and assist. The deer fled and the chicken went back to the flock.

We’ve been raising chickens, or they’ve been raising us, pretty much since we moved into this place, five years this month. #thedaysgoslowtheyearsgofast #truth

They have broken my heart, stressed me out, cost me way more money than I ever thought possible. But they’re my friends, they’re sociable, fresh eggs are pretty great (15 hens now and one rooster = anywhere from 2-12 eggs a day) and I love them. I’m a chicken chick now. Would be nice to travel, though… maybe. Someday. Just sayin.

On to the books!

Received a case of books today, all spiritually-based. If you are in search of some new titles on that topic, here are several:

“Brown Baby Jesus,” by written by Dorena Williamson and illustrated by Ronique Ellis (WaterBrook, 2022, all ages, $15.99). Beautiful rendition of the story of Jesus’ birth, weaving in the stories of Adam and Eve, Moses, David and Bathsheba and others. The art is exquisite.

Dorena Williamson also gifts us “Crowned with Glory.” This sweet picture book, illustrated by Shellene Rodney, is a real treat. A little girl’s hair symbolizes a crown, and the glory of community, service, church, friendship and family. (WaterBrook, 2022, $12.99.) The author and her husband Chris founded Strong Tower Bible Church.

“Hues of You” is a super cool new activity book “for learning about the skin you are in.” Lucretia Carter Berry, PhD, wrote the book, with illustrations by Adia Carter (WaterBrook, 2022, 63 pages, all ages, $14.00). I’d like copies of this to gift everyone I know.

“Color-Courageous Discipleship: Follow Jesus, Dismantle Racism, and Build Beloved Community” is a new release from Michelle T. Sanchez, with a foreword by Ed Stetzer and an afterword by Jemar Tisby. (WaterBrook, 2022, 279 pages, $18.00.) Sanchez, the senior discipleship and evangelism leader of the Evangelical Covenant Church, presents a “guidebook grounded in the gospel.”

Michelle T. Sanchez also brings us “God’s Beloved Community,” a new picture book with illustrations by Camila Carrossine, a Brazilian artist who does beautiful work. The book is a companion to “Color-Courageous Discipleship.” (WaterBrook, 2022, ages 3 and up, $14.00.)

“Be the Difference, Serve Others and Change the World,” is a cool new monthly planner with a religious focus (2021, Ink & Willow/WaterBrook, $16.99). It’s my very favorite type of planner, too — undated. (As I tend to buy and misplace my planners, rediscover them, and then use them for a couple of years.) Lots of room for bullet journaling; tips, hints and tricks; and invitations to write, sketch and cut and paste wherever you’d like. Great quotes and scripture, too:

“You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.” — Isaiah 25:4

Talk soon! Keep reading.

WM

Books for the season… Boo!

October 29th, 2022

Pix

“BFF Squishmallow” (photo by moi)

Good morning, friends, and Happy Halloween Weekend!

I have a couple of scary books to share…

“Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch,” the sequel to “Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch,” is perfect for grades 3 and up. Author Julie Abe has brought us another charming tale about a cool little witch and her brave efforts to protect her community, the magical Rivelle Realm. (Hachette Book Group, 2021, 356 pages, $7.99.) Check out Abe’s other title, too: “Alliana, Girl of Dragon.”

And something a little scarier for the teens…

“Eternally Yours,” edited by Patrice Caldwell, contains “15 stories of paranormal love to capture your heart and resurrect your soul.” Whoa! (Viking, 2022, 382 pages, $19.99). Contributing authors include Melissa de la Cruz, Akshaya Raman, Adib Khorram and others. Great, and somewhat terrifying, book.

Book reviews from me to you

October 7th, 2022

Pix

Purple asters (photo by Nancy Ellen Row Rawley)

Good morning, dear ones. What have you been up to?

I know it’s a little early for the holidays, even Halloween, but I have an idea for this year. Why not turn off the TV, the phones, the tablets, the laptops, and read a book, instead? There, I said it. I had the news on and just turned it off. So here are some ideas for books for the kiddos you may have in your life. If you don’t? Social service agencies, schools, community centers and lots of other places are happy to receive books as gifts. Where do you think my review copies land? I also share with the neighbors and my friends and family, of course. Share the love, share the books. Get rid of the tech, even if it’s just for a little while.

This week’s titles:

“Santa Mouse Bakes Christmas Cookies,” based on the character created by Michael Brown (Little Simon, 2022, $8.99). Santa Mouse, nestled into his cozy sardine tin bed, smells something delicious! Could it be… cookies? (Don’t bake them for half an hour, though, guys! Ten minutes or less should do. Sweet little addition to the Santa Mouse books. And not just a board book — a cushiony board book with lots of colorful illustrations.

“Five Little Dreidels,” a bright and cheerful board book by Jeffrey Burton, illustrated by Juliana Motzko (Little Simon, 2022, $6.99). Fun variation on the “Five Little Monkeys” story/song, this time with a table full of yummy holiday food, chocolate gelt, and playful dreidels who can’t stop getting into trouble.

“I’m a Little Snowman,” written by Hannah Eliot and illustrated by Anna Daviscourt (Little Simon, 2022, $6.99), another awesome little board book, will be fun for the littles. “I’m a little snow pal/head to toes/here are my buttons/here is my nose” (sung to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot”). We’re still celebrating the beginning of fall, but I think I’m ready for winter, people.

“I Want That!” Well, who doesn’t, baby? (Little Simon, 2022, $9.99.) This board book from Hannah Eliot and Ana Sanfelippo has cool little wheels on each page, so the babies and preschoolers can practice their dexterity. Turn the wheels and discover a cake, bananas, different dress-up items in the closet, and a box full of toys. Fun!

I reviewed “Airi Sano, Prankmaster General: New School Skirmish” a little while ago, but I’m giving it another shoutout. Great novel for grades 3 and older, and will really speak to a lot of children (and their parents) who feel not quite listened to or understood.

Happy book-shopping and happy holidays when we get there!

xo

WM

“The World Needs More Purple Schools” and other new titles

September 29th, 2022

Bok!

“Oh what you can see from the Ester Lee!” Highway 101, Oregon Coast (vintage postcard)

Good morning, readers. It’s a beautiful, rainy fall morning in the Willamette Valley, Oregon. Hope it is good where you are.

What’s up? Leave a comment if you feel like it. I like to know you’re out there.

First up for review today:

“The World Needs More Purple Schools” (part of the Purple World series) is a new title by actress/author Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart, illustrated by Daniel Wiseman (Random House Books for Young Readers, 2022, ages 3-7, 40 pages, $18.99). Penny Purple takes us on a wild ride through her school, where we learn about learning, how to give back to the community, and the importance of being silly. And purple.

“Zara’s Rules for Finding Hidden Treasure” hits the shelves Oct. 18, the second book in the new series written by Hena Khan, with illustrations by Wastana Haikal. (Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster, 2022, ages 7-10, 130 pages, $17.99). Zara takes off on another mission, this time to find funds to replace her stolen bike. Will sales from a Treasure Wagon bring in the much-needed money? Zara is an engaging character, and her family and friends are lively, too. Enjoy.

Witch Hazel from the Bugs Bunny cartoons was always a fave of mine. Now along comes another “Witch Hazel,” this one dreamt up by author Molly Idle (“Pearl,” “Coral,” the Tea Rex series, and “Flora and the Flamingo”). (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers/Little, Brown and Company; on sale: Oct. 11, 2022; ages 4-8; $18.99.) You will love the old-fashioned art and the charming family story.

Bon appetit, loves!

WM

Fall books for the kiddos

September 28th, 2022

2021

(Diamond painting by me, WM)

Yeah, I sometimes start projects and then don’t finish them. Doesn’t everyone? I like that meme that says, Yes, procrastinate! That way you have something to do tomorrow and all of this free time now.

#truth

I do like diamond painting, writing books, gardening, fixing up the house. Blogging and playing the piano, rearranging the furniture. It’s a simple life, overall, and it’s mine. I like it.

So what’s on the nightstand this week? Kids’ books about fall, leaves, pumpkins, all of it, and more books on the way. That means fun and good art. First up…

If you’re looking for a books about fall and leaves, start with these:

“Fletcher and the Falling Leaves: A Fall Book for Kids,” by Julie Rawlinson, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke

“Leaves Falling Down: Learning About Autumn Leaves,” written by Lisa Marie Bullard, illustrated by Nadine Rita Takvorian

“Trees, Leaves, Flowers and Seeds: A Visual Encyclopedia of the Plant Kingdom (DK Our World in Pictures)” (hardcover, illustrated, 2019)

“The Leaf Thief,” by Alice Hemming, illustrated by Nicola Slater

Received a lovely review copy of “If You Find a Leaf,” a new picture book by Aimee Sicuro (Random House Studio, 2022, $17.99). Let’s start with the cover, a little girl, with her doggy, in a boat with a big red leaf for a sail. And the flyleaves: leaves! Of course. Little leaf linden, Japanese cherry and elm, American basswood… just beautiful. The story takes us on an imaginative journey, travelled by our hero and her pup, high up in the air, sailing on the ocean and having a parade with her friends. In the back, you’ll find instructions on how best to preserve leaves. All in all, an amazing book.

Welcome, autumn. Glad to see you again.

WM

Best picture book of the year: “Brown is Warm, Black is Bright”

September 21st, 2022

What are we reading this week? Let’s take a look…

One of the sweetest picture books ever created, ever, in the history of picture books, showed up in my mailbox: “Brown is Warm, Black is Bright.”

This lovely meditation of a book was written by the gifted and thoughtful Sarah L. Thomson and illustrated by the amazing and talented Keith Mallett.

(Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2022, all ages, but especially ages 4-8, $18.99. Websites: Sarah L. Thomson and Keith Mallett)

A little girl and her father rake leaves, she plays with her puppy, splashes in puddles and lets her imagination run wild. The book follows their day, into the night. It’s autumn, it’s beautiful, it’s wistful and dreamy. So much is conveyed through the poetic words and gorgeous art of this sweet, peaceful, and long-overdue book. Go buy some copies.

Thank you. That’s all for today. Happy equinox and enjoy your fall.

WM

Thursday Book Review for me and you!

August 4th, 2022

Summer 2021 + throwbacks

“Lemonade Stand, Sissy & Me,” circa 1970, photo by Dad

When the kids “put on a show,” sometimes that means that the bossiest one drapes herself in all the tutus and beads, pushes to the front, and won’t let anyone else sing. Yes, I’m thinking of a friend from childhood. She wasn’t so fun. Other people know how to sing, too, aight? This is why “Everyone Belongs” is such a change of pace and a delight. The new children’s book, which will be released this week, was written by Heather Avis and illustrated by Sarah Mensinga (Cover design by Annalisa Sheldahl; Waterbrook, 2022, $12.99). (Check the book credits in the back for Mensinga’s illustrations for the author/illustrator bios. Two of the author’s three daughters are included.)

When sisters Macy and Tru put on a show, they find a way to include everyone, which means fun for the entire neighborhood. Sweet story, beautiful illustrations. It’s a “teaching moment” book, but it’s more than just that.

“The Katha Chest,” written by Radhiah Chowdhury and illustrated by Lavanya Naidu, is an exquisite book about beautiful, worn-out saris that are repurposed into light quilts, and the little girl, Asiya, who adores them. (Salaam Reads, 2022, for ages 4-8/or for all ages, $17.99.)

When “Nana the Great Comes to Visit,” you know it will be entertaining. (Written by Lisa Tawn Bergren, illustrated by David Hohn; Waterbrook/Multnomah, 2022, $12.99.) Nana rocks (even though Mom says that she’s a little naughty, “in the best sort of way,” and “That’s why God gave us grandparents.”) Is it a huge mess? Or is Nana a fort-building genius? She won’t change diapers, but she will paint your nails with 20 different bottles of polish.

Thank God for grandparents.

Bon appetit, babies!

WM

Monday Book Reviews: “The Little Bear” and others

July 18th, 2022

Summer 2021 + throwbacks

(Toddler me, mama, and my bald-headed sister, family photos)

 

“The Little Bear,” by Nicola Killen (A Paula Wiseman Book/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2022, $16.99). Killen is a gifted artist who studied at Cambridge School of Art. Her Little Animal Friend series has been the sweetest, including the latest title. (BookPage, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and others have taken note.) Kids will like the soothing color scheme of navy blue and muted colors, and they’ll love the little “window” cut-outs that lead to the next page. Ollie is nervous the night before school, so she gets her bear backpack ready and has one more “practice lesson” before she turns in. She hears a “twit twoooo!” and is soon enchanted by an owl.

Great adventure story, and practical, too. 

“the world’s longest licorice rope,” by Matt Meyers (Random House Studio, 2022, $17.99). This one hits the shelves in a week, but is available for pre-order. Ben earns and finds a bunch of nickels, and it turns out that’s the easy part. What should he spend them on? Options include, but are not limited to: locally-sourced mud pies, snow/water cones, old Santa candy and so much more. Then he finds a little girl selling, yes, “the world’s longest licorice rope,” for one mere nickel.

“‘Just how long is it?’ Ben asked.

“‘How long is the world?’ a girl said.”

Is there an adventure? Yes.

Are there lions and carrots? Yes.

Are the illustrations cool and engaging, and will the kids like the book? Yes, yes and yes.

“The Baby-Changing Station,” written by Rhett Miller, illustrated by Dan Santat (Megan Tingley Books/Little, Brown and Company, 2022, $17.99). Glad to see another sibling rivalry book arrive. Forewarned is forearmed, as they say. And this one? Is also a rhyming book. So there you go. Does James like his little brother Joe? Not so much. In his words:

“Sure would be sweet/If I had a receipt/But all I’ve got’s this little terror. 

What if I say/to the post office, ‘Hey! You delivered this package in error.'”

Dan Santat is well-known for creating “The Adventures of Beekle” and many other books. These illustrations do not disappoint. The expressions on the characters’ faces are kinda the best.

Rhett Miller, as some of you know, is the frontman for the band the Old 97’s. The story he’s concocted is one of the kookiest children’s books I’ve come across in awhile. The kids are going to be delighted, I believe.

All for now/more tomorrow/bon appetit, babies!

WM

“Spellbound!” and other new releases

July 17th, 2022

Summer 2021 + throwbacks

“Long Hot Summer” (family photo)

Well, hey. How about some fantabulous books?

“Spellbound” (Union Square Kids, 2022, ages little kids and up, 32 pages, $17.99), written by Jess Townes, illustrated by Jennifer Harney. Let’s talk about sibling rivalry, shall we? It’s real, and it can hurt. Especially when the baby gets you, the big kid, into trouble, and there’s not a dang thing you can do about it. Or when you’re having feelings you don’t quite know what to do with.

Here’s a sweet, funny take on the subject. Willow? Willow is magical and happy until lil baby Rowan comes along. He enchants everyone he meets. Except Willow. She’s on to him. Is he a real wizard? Is Willow an actual witch? Let’s find out. The littles will like this one, and so will their parents. Cool story, and beautiful retro drawings. (Maybe introduce the book the last trimester, before the little nugget comes home to stay.)

Another sweet book with a family theme is “A Gift for Nana,” by one of my favorite author-illustrators, Lane Smith (“It’a a Book,” “It’s a Little Book,” and his titles with the irrepressible Jon Scieszka). (Random House Studio, New York, 2022, design by Molly Leach, $18.99.) Children, of course, love books where the heroes get to do things kids usually don’t — float around the ocean in a giant peach, live for awhile in a museum, do all kinds of cool magic with their friends. In “A Gift for Nana,” a little rabbit gets to travel around through the forest, across the water, and near a volcano, in search of the perfect gift for his grandmother. A crow gives him directions and off he goes on this big quest. Great story and art.

Ready for a vacation? How about a “Vampire Vacation”? (Written by Laura Lavoie, with art by Micah Player; Viking, an Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, New York; 2022; $17.99.) Now, if you were a vampire, would you rather go back to Transylvania? Again? No. You’d rather go to the beach, swim and hang out (no pun intended) with your friends. So Fang, an enterprising young vampire, makes his case.

“Nonsense,” said Papa, “It will be fun! We’ll tour Dracula’s castle, visit the House of No Mirrors, dine at a five-star blood bank…”

But Fang has some another plan up his cape… sleeve… and he hopes it will work. Delightful art, great details, and hilarious story. Sometimes families… even vampire families… need to accommodate each other.

Bon appetit, baby vampires! Happy summer, happy reading.

WM

Next Page »