Friday, January 25, 2008

For my third review for the Young Readers Challenge, I have chosen three books to be reviewed as one. I refer to them as the Gossie Trilogy when, in fact, the titles are "Gossie", "Gossie and Gertie", and "Ollie". These are board books by Olivier Dunrea.

Gossie is a gosling. In the first book she is alone in her world with her boots, discovering all that is there to be discovered. The books takes the young reader or listener through Gossie's day and show how important her boots are to her. Then, the unthinkable happens -- she loses her prized boots only to discover them in somebody else's possession. Enter Gertie. This books parallels a toddler, or pre-K child's life with Gossie. It would be familiar to a child to see Gossie in her routine, not unlike the child's routine and to see Gossie have to deal with new interruptions to her life such as losing a cherised item and making a new friend. This books makes excellent use of concepts such as over, under, in, backward, forward, etc and provides familiarity in things like snow and rain. The sentence structure is very simple but provides a good vocabulary.

The second book, "Gossie and Gertie" introduces the two little goslings as best friends. They do everything alike and together, like wearing boots. Like the first book, spatial concepts are expanded, concrete situations are presented such as playing in the hay or swimming in the pond but intangible concepts are being introduced as well such as friendship, best friendship. The sentences in this book are longer and conversation is introduced.

The third book is Ollie. By this book, Gossie and Gertie are fast friends and exploring their surroundings in great deal in farther reaching area. They discover Ollie, who is an egg. They are intrigued. They are patient but Ollie doesn't want to come out. The concept of fear is introduced because Ollie is afraid to come out. He rolls away, he tries to hide, Gossie and Gertie try to make him come out and peck at him with their beaks but he won't come out. A bit of reversed psychology is in order, it seems, so G & G decide to tell him not to come out so the concept of reason is introduced. Suddenly Ollie realizes that he is alone and he waits -- then he decides to come out.

I bought "Gossie" to read to my infant grandson. However, the illustrations are so pleasing and the books so charming that I had to get the other two. The characters are shown in a natural growing progression with enough challenge to require problem solving but not harsh enough to result in any trauma. They are gentle books that children could identify with, they teach some life lesson as well as vocabulary and concepts.

Does my grandson like the books? I don't know but he likes to chew on them which is another reason I bought them being board books and all. I like them though and we read them every time he comes over.

I definitely recommend.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Alamo Cat by Rita Kerr

I just finished my second book for the Young Readers Challenge. The book entitled "The Alamo Cat" was written by Rita Kerr, a San Antonio retired teacher who chose writing as a second career. The book is only about fifty pages and I would say that an eight year old could read it.

My initial impression of the book was that I wasn't going to like it. There was too much going on, too much history, too much description, just too much. Yet, there were some areas that I thought just screamed for more explanation. Being a native San Antonian myself, I knew the history and the references but I could see that a child could use more explanation in some areas. However, I think there were some areas that were too descriptive when it wasn't necessary.

With that said, as I read the book, I began to enjoy it. As the book progressed, the verbage seemed to calm down and flowed better. Of course, all of that seemed to fade into the background when you got to know "Ruby", the Alamo cat. For those of us who have cats, it is immediate recognition and connection. For those of us who call San Antonio our home there is definitely a bond. For those who would like a little glimpse into the workings of the Alamo, this gives a bit of information.

If you would like to obtain this book for your child, however, I will give you fair warning. It doesn't end happily. It is, though, a historical account and many of those don't end happily either but be aware, if you have sensitive children, you should read the book first.

Without doubt, Ruby was, indeed, a latter-day hero of the Alamo whose name should go down into history with Crockett, Bowie, and Travis. It was a very touching book.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

When I discovered blogging it was a sad day, indeed. Why, you ask? Well, I discovered that I had nothing to say. Oh I have ranted and raved about my children, my pets, grocery bags and whatnot but really had nothing to say.

I, then, discovered the pleasure in reading OTHER people's blogs. I have read quilting blogs, needlework blogs, reading blogs, parent blogs, empty nester blogs, all sorts of blogs. As a result, I have embarked on a project, the reading challenge, which, so far, has been great fun. I have learned a lot from the quilting blogs too. Being a quilter for many years, yet still thinking like a beginner, I enjoy reading about other's adventures in their quest for quilt perfection.

So, today I have something to say. For my fellow quilters and blogreaders, I would like to share a website that I found today while doing a search for "scrap quilting". The website is http://quiltville.com. For those of you who have more scraps than you know what to do with and need to organize, sort and use them up, visit this site. It is chock full of patterns, suggestions and lovely pictures that are very inspirational. I am sure I will visit it often.

Ok, now that I have that out of the way, I guess I am back to the kitchen table that is piled high with all sorts of fabrics just calling my name to do something with them.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"The Amber Cat" by Hilary McKay

I have just finished my first book for the Young Readers Challenge. I chose "The Amber Cat" by Hilary McKay. My copy was obtained from a public library sale and still had the dust jacket which stated that the age group it was suitable for was 9 -12. I would have to say that I think it would be better enjoyed by the older of that group.

The book takes place in contemporary England and is a story within a story. The primary story is that of a women raising her son alone after the death of her husband. She and the son live in a large semi-detached house, the other half which is occupied by her husbands best friend and his family. The primary story is complete on its own. The secondary story takes the form of flashbacks but not just momentary flashbacks for the sake of clarification or plot progression, but rather a complete story on its own.

Both stories contain elements of mystery, ghosts, human fraility and understanding. Both stories are good works alone but the way the author blends them is very good. It would hold a child's interest, I think, but the child would have to read carefully in order to grasp the nuances throughout the book, therefore, I think it would be more suitable for an older reader.

My favorite character was Sun Dance -- he seemed to be an old soul. I could envision Kevin Corcoran (Moochi of Walt Disney fame) playing this role.

I won't give away the plot. It is simple and obvious to an adult but the way the web was woven was still charming and interesting.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Young Readers Challenge -- first book

I have chosen the first book for my young readers challenge. I am reading "The Amber Cat" by Hilary McKay. I am half done with it and am really getting into it. One character, particularly, stands out to me but I will share that later.

Happy reading!

Friday, January 04, 2008

My Son --

My son just had his 32nd birthday. Yes, 32nd. It is hard to believe that the tiny bundle that blessed our home in December, 1975 is 32 years old. Surely it was just yesterday that I looked into those turquoise blue eyes, tossled that carrot top hair, and counted those impossibly tiny fingers and toes.

It seems like just yesterday that I was wondering what he would be like at eight years old. For some reason, 8 yrs. old was a benchmark for me -- not a baby and not a teen, but a boy with so much potential. Did he live up to my vision? Yes, he did. He was all boy, rough and tumble, with a bit of a temper but with a vulnerability that he was very slow to share. He wanted to be just like his dad, he didn't "need" Mom, he worshipped his grandfather and he loved his sister but the only way he would show it was by "saving her life" when she did something dangerous.

Year eight went by very quickly.

Before we knew it, we were having senior photos taken and signing up for dorms. He was going away. I knew he needed to but I sobbed when we left him at school although I waited until we were out of sight. We heard from him VERY often his first semester at college -- need for laundry, need for groceries, need to come home. Then the inevitable happened -- the calls became less and less frequent. We knew he was ok because nobody had called to tell us differently. Only one thing could have happened. Yes, a girl.

The college years went by quickly with a few glitches along the way. There were the predictible moves from the dorm to the apartments to the houses and back to the apartments. There were the on-campus jobs that jangled my nerves knowing that he was working late hours and walking late at night on his own. There was the car accident that could have been so tragic and the major injury while ice skating. He survived them all and learned a lot. So did I.

What did I learn? I learned faith, trust, patience and to be forever thankful for the blessing that was given to me in the form of this little red-headed kid.

My son knows I am proud of him, for all his accomplishments and there are many, for the man he has become. But what he doesn't know is how much I admire him for the obstacles that were put before him and how he rose above them. What he doesn't know is how I wish I had his strength and perserverance and drive. What he doesn't know is that I thank God every day for giving me the privilege of being this boy's mother because I am sure he has taught me more than I ever taught him.

He is 32 now and has a boy of his own. Another blessing in the form of a little blue eyed, tow-headed Nathan. I look at Nathan and am transported back to 1975 and wonder ...what will he be like at eight.

Happy birthday, son, I love you.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I have joined the "Young Readers Challenge" to participate with my cousin. This is a challenge that I think I will enjoy because I have an fondness for children's books that was instilled in me by the aforementioned cousin.

I don't have a list and, for the present, am planning on just listing as I go. I will post again soon with my first book.

Happy reading, Tinkie!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Christmas is over. It is a new year. It is January 2008. Most people don't look at this time as being a time of reflection, that would be reserved for New Year's Eve. I, however, find it a very appropriate time to look back over the previous year and see what worked, what didn't, what can be changed, what will simply be tolerated. I don't believe in resolutions -- they always fail but I do believe in realistic observation and appropriate action.

My children are grown. Gone are the days of Barbie, leggos, action figures -- except for the sixteen boxes of aforementioned items from the 70's currently housed in my attic. Gone are the days of surprises because now my children have preferences and opinions and homes and spouses. They have changed. Their needs, desires and expectations have changed. Mine, on the other hand, have not. I still find myself shopping for the "perfect" gift, a surprise, if possible. I still find myself looking for the perfect wrapping to create the fantasy Christmas that my children enjoyed in their youth.

This year, however, in the quest for all the Christmas perfection I seem to need, something became alarmingly apparent to me--the cost of the wrapping paper. I didn't do as much shopping as I ususally do. Much of my shopping was done online in a search for hard-to-find religious publications for my son or vintage college yearbooks for my daughter. So, I assumed that since I didn't buy as much I wouldn't need as much thrilling wrapping and decoration. My third trip to my neighborhood Hallmark store had me wondering what in the world I HAD bought and why was it taking so much paper to wrap it? Did I buy more than I thought? Was there less paper on the roll? Was I getting senile and did I forget that I ALWAYS buy nine rolls of paper every year.

Nine rolls of paper and the appropriate ribbon and tags totalling about $110. Paper that was ripped and thrown away, paper that was not even admired for its beauty and cleverness. Nobody commented on the giant white polka dots that the rocking horse was wrapped in. In my opinion, that $110 could have been flushed down the toilet.

Next year the perfect gift, the perfect color, size and wrapped in the perfect wrapping -- money.