Apr 15, 2014



Written by: Mike Mullin

Published by: Tanglewood Press

Published on: April 15, 2014

Ages: Young Adult

Provided by the publisher through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. 

The third, concluding book in the apocalyptic Ashfall series is Sunrise. The title is happier than either of the first two books, Ashfall and Ashen Winter. It alludes to hope, the theme of this book.

Mullin is a master at writing action scenes. There are plenty of those in this book, but also a lot of interaction between the characters we have grown to love in the trilogy. It's the perfect mesh.

In other post-apocalyptic books, we usually get a government gone wrong and people pushing back against them (ala Hunger Games). But I am always most interested in how people get that government. What are the choices that lead them that way?

Alex and Darla have experienced the government's hospitality after the Yellowstone super volcano blew, as well as that of the government's subcontractors. They realize that they are on their own- and they make steps toward being self-sufficient. Alex is able to lead while still being true to Darla and his own young self.

Sunrise is my favourite in this trilogy, which is saying a lot as I really enjoyed Ashfall. The only bad thing is saying goodbye to a trio of books I have enjoyed so much.

Apr 12, 2014

101 Things To Do With Baby

101 Things To Do With Baby

Written and Illustrated by: Jan Ormerod

Published by: Groundwood Books

Published on: April 15, 2014

Ages: 1+

How fun can a pre-verbal baby be to a big sister or brother? Not even old enough to fight with!

In this updated version of the classic 101 Things to Do with Baby from late Australian author Jan Ormerod, we go through a whole day of fun with a new sibling. Both ankle-biting and head-banging are included.

It's easy to see why this is a classic. It's so simple and rings true for me and for many others who have had babies in their lives I'm sure. The couch with everything thrown haphazardly (and half-drunk tea!) on it while you ignore it and read with your older child is like a picture of my own house!

The nice thing about the updated book is that it has updated safety info - the baby is in a rear-facing carseat. But the adorable noses and a big sister who obviously loves her brother to distraction are still there. This great 30th anniversary edition of the book would make an ideal gift for a new parent or new older sibling.

Apr 6, 2014

The Most Magnificent Thing

The Most Magnificent Thing

Written and Illustrated by: Ashley Spires

Published by: Kids Can Press

Published on: April 1, 2014

Ages: 4+

There are some picture book authors that seem to have a knack for writing books with which people of all ages can identify. Dr. Seuss, Robert Munsch, and Ashley Spires are all authors loved by kids and adults alike.

Spires' book Larf was a great book for capturing how I feel as an adult- as a foreigner in Japan. Small Saul was on a similar vein, with a great message about being true to yourself. Now this book is another that will be perfect on my work desk.

An ordinary girl and her canine assistant get to work making the most magnificent thing. But things don't go as planned and she starts to get frustrated.

"Her hands feel too BIG to work, and her brain is too full of all the not-right things."

I feel like that at work all the time.

She and her assistant have a great message for the reader about perseverance and taking a breather when it all becomes too much.

But this isn't just for adults. My kids loved this little girl and her wise, furry sidekick. Her expressions  are adorable and all the things she makes are cool.

Maybe this will inspire other people to make their own magnificent things. I hope it means Spires is inspired to make more magnificent books.

Mar 3, 2014

Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard

Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard

Written and Illustrated by: Annette Leblanc Cate

Published by: Candlewick Press

Published on: March 12, 2014

Ages: 4+

Provided by the published for review. All opinions are my own.

On February 14, the winners of the annual Cybils awards for children's literature were announced. I was lucky enough to be on the nonfiction panel and we chose Look Up! as the best nonfiction book of 2013.

Look Up! isn't just a title, it's an invitation to a whole new avian world. Annette Cate gives a plethora of information about birds, how to find them, and what to look for, as well as sketching tips useful to the burgeoning bird watcher.

The detailed information provided by Cate is only improved by the engaging narrator, who adds flair and humour. Look Up! A Guide to Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard is sure to convert plenty of new bird-watchers. It is Cate's unbridled passion which really makes this book.

This post was for Nonfiction Monday, hosted at the Nonfiction Monday blog.

Mar 2, 2014

Out The Window

Out The Window

Written and Illustrated by: Cybèle Young

Published by: Groundwood Books

Published on: February 25, 2014

Ages: 0+

Provided by the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

This adorable board book is like two completely different books in one- parallel literary worlds, if you like, but for the youngest of us.

An adorable animal loses his ball out the window- and then the adventure starts! The ball takes him to colourful places outside of the scope of his small area. This is perfect for littles who are starting to realize there is more to the world than their little play area. 

Governor General’s Award winner Young is able to make a few simple phrases into a big adventure, and just by changing the font the meaning can completely change. This double story, of what goes on both inside and outside the window, would be great fun for any toddler.

Jan 21, 2014

Montessori Inspired Activities for Pre-Schoolers


 Welcome to the Japan stop on the Montessori Inspired world book tour!

Montessori Inspired Activities for Pre-Schoolers

Written by: Jo Ebisujima

Published by: jojoebi designs

Published on: January 8, 2014

As a fellow blogging mom in Japan, I have been following Jo Ebisujima for years. Her book is the best of her great ideas kid activities.

The title of her book makes it sound like the activities are only for young kids, but my 6-year old enjoys them as much as my 4-year old! These activities are Montessori inspired and Jo gives a bit of background on the method and how she got involved with it in the introduction, but I think one of the best things about this book is how adaptable they are. You don't have to be a hardcore Montessori mom, you don't have to have lots of time on your hands, and you don't have to live next to a well-stocked craft store to use these activities with your kids. I am a full-time working mom living in the sticks of southern Japan and there wasn't a single activity in this book we weren't able to prepare for, and I can't say that about any other activity book or magazine I've bought for my kids, so this gets a two thumbs up from mama!

From a bilingual parenting point of view, there are two activities covered in the book that are really great for practicing the minority language, whatever that language is (see- totally adaptable to any situation!)

One is the Mystery Bag activity. We used a drawtring bag from the hundred yen store and place a couple of objects in the bag without the target kid seeing. That kid has to reach her hand in and describe it (we make sure that there is a minority language only rule, and boo if the majority language is used!) until the other kid(s) can figure out what is in the bag.

The other activity that really worked well for us was the Mini Cafe! We have used this many times and you can read about our experience here, as my son calls this his Tea Shop activity. There are so many variations on the Mini Cafe, but kids love it no matter what they are serving. It is a sneaky way to get your kids to try out new skills like serving and food prep, while using their written and oral language skills!

There are so many other activities to try out in this book as well. Check out what the other Book Tour participants love about this book by visiting their pages.

Jan 12, 2014

Time and Time Again

Time and Time Again (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: John Settle

Published by: iUniverse

Published on: February 6, 2012

Ages: 10+

Provided by the author for review. All thoughts are my own.

Adam's dad has what must be one of the coolest jobs ever in fiction - he's a taxi driver for Chronos Travel, and ferries people between time periods in this futuristic middle grade novel.

Adam is visiting his dad at work when another driver's daughter comes to him for help. When Adam gives it, he is drawn into a sinister plot with far-reaching ramifications. Luckily, he has two good friends, outgoing Roslyn and wise Don, to help get him out of the fix.

The post-fossil fuel world has some major differences from ours- there are no airplanes, for instance, but people have the same worries and there are fringe causes just like in ours. The nature of teens doesn't seem to have been affected at all though!

Adam and his friends have a tight bond and this is one of the most interesting parts of the book. I definitely feel like Chronos Taxi could lead to some very interesting plots in the future and past, and it would be great if these three had another shot at time travel in a future book.