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Gift ideas 2022

November 23rd, 2022


(“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.


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.)

Weekend Book Review & some thoughts on skipping Thanksgiving

November 12th, 2022


(“Out in the Country,” photo by moi, June 2022)

My sister and I have never been the biggest fans of Thanksgiving, because you know. Look what good guys the Pilgrims are! They had all the indigenous people over for a nice dinner and then later killed them. We were just little kids when we put two + two together and came up with, uh, two? Due to half of the equation being dead and all.

I’m sorry, you know, if your family likes to wear headbands and Pilgrim hats, but sometimes things that start out one way end up leaving a bad taste in your mouth. And that, for me, is Thanksgiving weekend, which I used to enjoy. So we’ll have a long weekend, eat and be merry, and do other stuff.

Speaking of taste… she’s vegetarian, my sis, and my daughter and my kids’ dad are, too, They never really liked meat, even when they were little kids. My mom once told my sister, Yeah, I kept trying to feed you baby veal, from the little Gerber jars? You weren’t having it.

Chorus of ewwww.

And my then mother-in-law said something similar. Yeah. Thanksgiving continues to center around a big dead bird or a big dead ham. Pretty much.

As parents, do any of us have a clue? Not so much. It all makes sense later, I guess, when it’s too late. #babyveal #redundantphrase #sorryMommyIknowyoutried #love

So we decided to skip “Turkey and Carnage” this year and head straight to Christmas and New Year’s. You in? It’s starting with nonstop viewings of Hallmark Christmas movies, binging season 5 of “The Crown” on Netflix, and putting up the trees. Eating. Baking cookies. Cleaning the house. Yeah, that’s right. I wrote out some holiday cards already, too. It’s true, kids. Once you grow up, you really do get to do whatever the heck you want. So, whatever you do or don’t celebrate at your place? *Rock it.*

Here are some “thank you” books for the road, though. #gratitude #November #blessings #loveandkindness #peace

“The Thank You Book,” by Danna Smith, illustrated by Juliana Perdomo, is an awesome possum little board book for the babies and preschoolers. (Little Simon/Simon & Schuster, 2022, $7.99.) The littles will respond to the cheerful characters, rhyming text, bright colors and the sweet message. 

Ditto with “Welcome to the Big Kids Club: What Every Older Sibling Needs to Know!” written by one Chelsea Clinton, with pictures by gifted illustrator Tania de Regil. (Philomel Books/Penguin Young Readers, 2022, ages 4-8, $18.99.) I recently heard Clinton interviewed on “The View.” Fun to hear her talk about her two older kids’ reactions — and questions, so many questions — when they found out a new baby was on the way. The book is written in a Q&A format, which works well, and includes the most important question of all: Does my baby understand when I say “I love you”? (Yes, yes, yes and yes.)

“Giving Thanks: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday,” written by Denise Kiernan, with illustrations by Jamey Christoph, tells the story of the woman who worked to make Thanksgiving an official holiday. (Philomel/Penguin Random House, 2022, $18.99.)

Imagine my happy surprise to be sent a review copy of a new picture book, written by the talented and kind Cathy Camper, one of my librarian acquaintances from Portland, Oregon! “Diez Manera de Escuchar La Nieve,” with fantastic and lively illustrations by Kenard Pak, translated by Rossy Evelin Lima, is a marvel of a book. (Kokila/Penguin Random House, 2020, $17.99.) “Ten Ways to Hear Snow” is also available in English.

Friday, Friday, Book Day

November 11th, 2022


“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.