Tuesday, February 24, 2015

"A Plaque of Unicorns" by Jane Yolen

"A Plague of Unicorns" by Jane Yolen, is a fantasy set in a medieval monastery.  James, the inquisitive son of an earl, is sent to be educated at Cranford Abbey.  Unfortunately, the abbey is falling apart.  Abbot Aelian could save the abbey with his family's secret recipe for golden apple cider -- if only the unicorns would stop devouring the golden apples...

Can the plague of unicorns be stopped?  
Can the abbey be saved?  
Can James help?

I was very intrigued by the beautiful cover of this book and the premise of a "plague" of unicorns, however, I found the book very difficult to get through.

As for the aforementioned questions -- not all of them are answered in this novel.  If the real problem of the novel is the need to save the abbey then this novel does not actually have a resolution.

The monks believed that unicorns were "the animal avatar of the Christ" and that harming a unicorn brought about the greatest of misfortunes, but I guess, recruiting "heroes" to defeat unicorns brings no misfortune at all.

These unicorns (animal avatars of the Christ as you'll recall) pierce one monk, run another through the thigh and cause three infants to have screaming nightmares.  Not very Christ-like of those unicorns.

Benedict Cumber, is introduced as James tutor, but we all know that Benedict Cumber or "Cumbersome" as he comes to be called is actually a Hollywood movie star -- Benedict Cumberbatch.

The casual use of the word "exorcism" really troubled me.  "The giant was taken to a priest who held an exorcism, which helped the giant give up his addiction to marauding." (164).  This isn't crucial to the story in any way, but kids who don't know what an exorcism is will come across some gruesome visual images or videos when they google it.

I found the ending of the novel too rushed and too predictable -- although the happy ending might satisfy readers who forgot what the original problem was.  Overall all, I cannot recommend this book.

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers http://booklookbloggers.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"The Drop Box" Film -- Coming to Select Theaters March 3rd, 4th and 5th

"They're not the unnecessary ones in the world.  
God sent them here for a purpose." 

- Pastor Lee Jong-rak

"The Drop Box" is a powerful message of hope and love 
that may change the very way you think about life."  

- Focus on the Family 

for information about which theaters this film will be playing at.  
Some of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to support Pastor Lee Jong-rak's ministry.

 ~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~

Monday, February 9, 2015

"Rasmus and the Vagabond" by Astrid Lindgren

"Rasmus and the Vagabond" is a novel by Astrid Lindgren -- the Swedish author of the beloved Pippi Longstocking books. 

Rasmus is a young boy living at an orphanage who is longing to be loved.  When a mishap at the orphanage causes Rasmus to fear he'll get a beating from the stern directress, he makes the decision to run away in search of a family who will love him.    

I really enjoyed the part of this novel that described Rasmus' life at the orphanage -- the relationships between the kids, the chores they are required to do and the adoption process: "They always pick girls with curly hair".  The highlights of Rasmus' experience at the orphanage are his friendship with another orphan, Gunnar, and his finding special treasures -- a 5 cent piece and a beautiful shell.  

Eventually, Rasmus meets up with Oscar, a traveling vagabond, and together they have adventures, help others and solve a mystery. 

My biggest concern with the novel is the songs that Oscar sings.  The lyrics feature stories about people being cut, clawed to death by lions or bathed in their own blood.  Mention is also made about a ghost dog, but the book clearly states "There are no such things as ghosts." 

Aside from the songs, this novel is a fun, lighthearted novel complete with adventure and mystery.  The illustrations are delightful and Rasmus is such a sweet boy that readers are sure to fall in love with him and with Oscar, the kind vagabond he meets on his journey.  

Will Rasmus' dream of finding a home of his own and a family to love him come true?  You'll have to read "Rasmus and the Vagabond" to find out!

Check out: "Rasmus and the Vagabond" for more information.

Win it:  One Sowing Dandelion Seeds reader will win a copy of the book "Rasmus and the Vagabond".

a Rafflecopter giveaway
"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.” 
~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~

Friday, January 23, 2015

Family Literacy Day

Family Literacy Day is right around the corner -- next Tuesday -- January 27, 2015!  Mark the date on your calendar and brainstorm fun things to do as a family!

Thanks to ABC -- Life Literacy Canada here is a list of FUN ways to celebrate learning as a family:

  1. Write a joke book with your family.
  2. Read a bedtime story to the grown-up putting you to bed.
  3. Make up a new recipe together and post it online.
  4. Tell knock-knock jokes together while doing the dishes.
  5. Organize a book swap at your school.
  6. Make up riddles and tell them to your friends.
  7. Create a family book club.
  8. Build a drum with your family.
  9. Surf the Internet and learn about your favourite animal.
  10. Make up a song about your day to sing to your family at dinnertime.
  11. Write messages to your family on sticky notes and post them around the house.
  12. Create a story about what you’ll be doing for Family Literacy Day.
  13. Play a board game together.
  14. Build an acrostic poem using your hero’s name.
  15. Make an origami boat and see if it will float.
If you have some great ideas for making learning (and literacy) fun -- feel free to add them in the comments!

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~

Saturday, January 17, 2015

King David: Get to Know Series by Nancy I. Sanders

"King David: Get to Know Series" by Nancy I. Sanders is a biography on the life of David.  David is one of the best known Bible characters thanks to the story of David and Goliath, but this book also highlights his life-long journey from shepherd boy to great King.

This book contains special features including "Word Bank" sections which tell the definition of words that may be unfamiliar and "Did You Know?" fun facts sections.  One interesting fact is that at the time of David and Goliath's battle, the Philistines were the only people who knew how to make weapons out of iron!

This book is visually fascinating as it includes pictures of artifacts, maps, artwork and present day photographs.  Archaeological evidence is shown that proves the existence of David.  At the end of the book there is a time line of David's life that also shows when events in world history took place.

The book tells David's life story including King Saul's jealousy towards him, his friendship with Jonathan and his time as a fugitive.  While it mentions David's sin regarding Bathsheba and her husband, the consequence for this sin is glossed over by saying: "Then he married Bathsheba.  They eventually had a son named Solomon." (pg 83). Mention is made of the story of Tamar, Amnon and Absalom, but the conflict is told in such a way that isn't inappropriate for younger readers.  Readers who are older and interested in finding out more can look up these stories in the Bible.

I appreciate that the book highlights David's remorse for sin as well as God's graciousness.  David was not perfect, yet he has a place in the lineage of Jesus.  The book emphasizes the prophecy written by David in Psalm 16:10 about Jesus' death and resurrection -- 1,000 years before Jesus' birth.  

Overall, this book is a great addition to any bookshelf.  It gives more details than a standard children's book would and is a great read "for kids" as the book cover suggests, but also for anyone who wants a better understanding of the life of King David.

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers http://booklookbloggers.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Books I've Read in 2015

I love reading books meant for all ages.  Any book with stars by it is one I'd consider reading again in the future (or would consider having my kids read in the future) so presumably you (or your kids) might like it too.  If you've read (or wondered about) any of these books feel free to comment -- I'd love to chat with you...  Oh and if you love a book I don't (or vice versa), we can still be friends.

The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
This mystery novel brings together a group of strangers to solve the murder of a millionaire and win a fortune.  Clues, assumptions and mishaps add to the mystery.  Aimed at teens.

The Listening Tree, Celia Lottridge
Ellen and her mother leave Saskatchewan to board with an aunt in Toronto because of drought.  Ellen is shy to make friends at first, but ultimately comes to the rescue of the family next door.  This is a heartwarming novel full of ingenuity and kindness for others.  Aimed at pre-teens.

*Half a Chance, Cynthia Lord*
Lucy wants to win her father's approval when it comes to photography and wants to help her new neighbours protect the loons on the lake.  Themes include: making difficult choices, helping others, dementia, friendships.  Aimed at pre-teens. 

The Map Trap, Andrew Clement 
Alton is a map enthusiast whose maps, some which are about people at his school, go missing one day.  Can he recover his maps before any feelings are hurt?  This novel wasn't offensive, but was a bit disturbing overall.  Aimed at pre-teens. 

A Matter of Character, Robin Lee Hatcher
This is the third novel in the Sisters of Bethlehem Springs series.  Daphne is a writer with a secret, Joshua is looking for answers about his grandfather's past.  Journal entries from the past were interspersed through the novel in a way that felt stitlted, but aside from that I liked the storyline.

The Sweetness of Forgetting, Kristin Harmel
This novel tells the story of Hope and her grandmother who has alzheimer's.  The novel goes from the present day to the grandmother's past during World War II.  An easy read.  Themes include: doing what's right, finding out who you are, helping others achieve their dreams.  

Mr. Terupt Falls Again, Rob Buyea
I do NOT recommend this book.  In my opinion, this is an inappropriate and unecessary sequel to Because of Mr. Terupt.  This novel talks of private parts and slang for private parts repeatedly, stuffing bras with toilet paper, smoking, drinking vodka in water bottles during school and on and on...  This book was very perverted.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Rebound, Eric Walters
Sean is determined to turn over a new leaf for grade 8, but a chance encounter with David, a new student in a wheelchair, has the potential to change everything.  Minor references to alcohol and cigarettes.  Main characters participate in dances, informal dating and some fighting.  Aimed at teens.

Ungifted, Gordon Korman
Donovan, an average student and known trouble-maker, finds himself unexpectedly in the gifted school.  This book has some stereotypical characterizations of gifted people and some poor morals with very little consequences.  References to sex education and dances.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Wonder, R. J. Palacio
This novel tells the story of Auggie, a grade 5 boy with facial anomolies, and his entrance into the public school system.  Themes include: fitting in, bullying, discovering who you are.  Mention is made of reincarnation, "The Universe", and girls walking through the woods to meet boys.  Aimed at pre-teens.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, Chris Grabenstein
This novel is reminiscent of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but a select group of pre-teens win the chance to have a sleepover at the new library.  They are then given the challenge of escaping from the library by using clues.  Aimed at pre-teens. 

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy 2015!

The Future Has Arrived!  

Welcome to 2015, 
hoverboards, flying cars and pockets turned inside out.

Wishing you and yours God's Love, Peace and Joy throughout 2015.

PS:  In honour of the end of 2014, check out the post: Books I've Read in 2014 and leave your thoughts.

Stay tuned for the start of "Books I've Read in 2015" which I'll keep adding to as I finish books!

~❀~ Chelsey ~❀~
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