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

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

Next Page »