Halloween Book Review: The Family That Plays Together

Ninja! Attack of the Clan by Arree Chung

The family that plays together, stays together! This family likes to play Ninja games and the book ends with a wonderful image of everyone in the family wearing home-made ninja costumes, complete with spatula weapons, while playing ‘ninja’. Everything that is good and fun about Halloween is summed up in that one image.

For more information about this and other books in the series, see the June 2017 Giggle Book Award.

All of the Halloween themed books, quotes and commentary posted to this blog can be found HERE.

Suggestions for Building Excitement Over The Holidays

Ordering Books: Whether you are building a family library or simply looking for a fun way to build-up to the Halloween celebration, having brand new books shipped to your home, in your child’s name, is a great way to do it. To a child, it is super exciting to receive a package in the mail, addressed to them! They may even want to read their brand-new book immediately AND before bed.

Library Holds: If you’d prefer to review the books before buying them, or need to maintain a tight budget, then use the local library. Go to the library website, locate the book and place it on hold. When the notification arrives, bring the child along and let them help find the books in the on-hold shelves.

Bragging Rights: New Cat Mommy

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Meet Gracie and Billy, the newest additions to my household.

They are three-month-old kittens from the same littler. They came from a shelter, so the breed is either ‘American Shorthair’ or ‘grey and black rescue cats.’

Both are full of energy and spunk but Gracie is the smaller and fiercer of the two. Billy generally just get’s out of her way when they are playing with the cat toys.

It’s been a wonderful change.

Halloween Book Review: Granny Is Gloriously Different

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Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble, written by Tracey Corderoy and illustrated by Joe Berger

Granny is wonderful! The heroine adores her grandmother, she just wishes granny were a little more….normal.

Granny is a witch who tries, really tries to be helpful, but many of her spells take a turn for the worst. The granddaughter decides she wants things to be very VERY normal on her birthday, so Granny puts away the spellbook and the two do absolutely everything by hand.

The cake they make is a bit lopsided and the dress is a glorious mess of scraps from the sewing box, but the two do everything together and have a wonderful time! When the guests arrive for the party they are taken aback by the sight of the cake and the dress, but granny pulls out some face paints and soon all of the children are having lots of fun pretending to be wild animals or monsters.

The party is a hit, one whole day of being ‘normal’ (as defined by our heroine) is divine, and the mess left behind is massive. Granny pulls out her spellbook and the clean the house Granny’s-way, together. In the end, the granddaughter wouldn’t want her granny to be anything other than who she is.

It’s a wonderful book that is perfect for either Halloween or a birthday.

A quote can be found HERE.

All of the Halloween themed books, quotes and commentary posted to this blog can be found HERE.

Suggestions for Building Excitement Over The Holidays

Ordering Books: Whether you are building a family library or simply looking for a fun way to build-up to the Halloween celebration, having brand new books shipped to your home, in your child’s name, is a great way to do it. To a child, it is super exciting to receive a package in the mail, addressed to them! They may even want to read their brand-new book immediately AND before bed.

Library Holds: If you’d prefer to review the books before buying them, or need to maintain a tight budget, then use the local library. Go to the library website, locate the book and place it on hold. When the notification arrives, bring the child along and let them help find the books in the on-hold shelves.

Bullying Is A Community Effort

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To complicate matters, I realized that the girls’ parents were just as gossipy and juvenile as their daughters. At my daughter’s soccer game one afternoon, I heard several mothers talking about some of the players. They remarked on how fat some of the girls on the team were and how they should be at fat camp, not on the varsity soccer team. As they went on, I got angrier and angrier. They were chatting away about someone’s child. I left at halftime because I was disgusted with their behavior. Even if I wasn’t teaching my daughter this type of behavior, it was everywhere. Her peers were bullies, their parents were bullies, and it only made sense that Emily would learn to act that way too, in order to fit in. It seemed we were living in an environment where we couldn’t escape it.

Bullies ruined my childhood. Then I realized my daughter is one., Vox.com, by Kate Young on March 3, 2016

Great Book, Bad Marketing

I found the White Magic Five and DIme while browsing through eBooks. From the cover art and the description, this one looked like a nice new-age themed chic-lit novel.

It’s not.

It’s nothing at all like that.

Just to be clear: I really enjoyed this book.

Unfortunately, this novel suffers from extraordinarily poor marketing, beginning with the description:

Much to Alanis McLachlan’s surprise, her estranged con-woman mother has left her an inheritance: The White Magic Five & Dime, a shop in tiny Berdache, Arizona. Reluctantly traveling to Berdache to claim her new property, Alanis decides to stay and pick up her mother’s tarot business in an attempt to find out how she died.

With help from a hunky cop and her mother’s live-in teenage apprentice, Alanis begins faking her way through tarot readings in order to win the confidence of her mother’s clients.  But the more she uses the tarot deck, the more Alanis begins to find real meaning in the cards … and the secrets surrounding her mother’s demise.

This sounds like standard chic-lit with a bit of a low-key family mystery thrown in for dramatic effect. In reality, the book is about Alanis, a woman who survived a harrowing childhood at the hands of hardened criminals. She manages to escape by conning her con-artist mother but can’t shake the law of the street. Well into adulthood, Alanis is convinced she owes her mother a heavy debt. When a lawyer locates Alanis to pass along the news that mom has not only been murdered but left behind an inheritance in her name, she decides it’s time to pay back her debt by finding the killer and exacting revenge street-style. Alanis does this knowing that there is a very strong possibility that her mother is using the inheritance to set-up her estranged daughter for some hardcore revenge post-mortem.

The fact that Alanis has been living in secret, under an assumed name, with her every move entirely focused on not being found by her mother, makes the letter-from-the lawyer even more interesting.

That’s where this book begins.

It’s a murder mystery set in a small town with a woman cast as the primary hard-hitting tough-as-nails mystery-solving hero. The new-age magic and tarot cards are merely part of the story because…and only because…that was the narcissistic mother’s last con-game.

This book reminded me of the  V I Warshawski books by Sara Paretsky. I’ve posted quotes from both Hockensmith and Paretsky to this blog – go ahead and compare the two!

I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it, but ignore the marketing material – here is a more accurate description:

The White Magic Five & Dime is hard-hitting murder mystery featuring tough people with difficult lives. There’s abuse, neglect, and extremely non-motherly actions; but there is also a solved mystery, adventure and….ultimately…a daughter who manages to put the ghost of her mother to rest.

Creating Kingdoms

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Al went over to his desk, took out two pencils and handed one to me. “So Prince Teodoro,” he said, with a smile as big as Saturn, “wanna fly?”

Al and Teddy by Neil Waldman

Magic Labyrinth and Pizza

Last night I spent the evening at a board game cafe. A 6-year-old family member and I had a wonderful time playing board games and eating pizza.

On the way home I realized we’d devoted 2+ hours to old-fashioned gaming in a place that does not have televisions or computers. We spent the entire time surrounded by people who were also talking, interacting and playing board games. No one was working on a laptop or staring at a cell phone. I didn’t even bother to check my phone the entire time.

It was a much-needed change for both of us. This may turn into a regular activity!

As for the games…

We played a handful of different family friendly games, but the clear winner was this:

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It’s a rather ingenious game that uses a multi-layer board and magnetic game pieces to create an ever-changing labyrinth beneath the game board. The objective is to be the first to reach a pre-designated and randomly selected spot on the board. The challenge is in getting the game piece across the board without losing the metal ball magnetically attached to the bottom (located on the underside of the board) by knocking it up against a wall of the labyrinth. Every time the ball falls off, it rolls out to a corner (like in a pool game) and the piece goes back to the beginning.

I kept thinking that it was an awful lot like late 1980s video games. For those of you who have never played: back then, ‘dying’ or losing a level meant going back to level 1. Every. Single. Time. That’s actually a big part of the reason why I never became a (video) gamer.

Yet, the board game reset was fun. In fact, it was fun and challenging for both of us (child and adult), which is difficult to do!

I strongly recommend trying this one out.

I also suspect Santa just might bring a copy to our house this year. 🙂

When Legends Become Real

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This, Soren realized in the deepest part of his gizzard, was why they had to go to the Great Ga’Hoole Tree. For when the world one knew began to crumble away bit by bit, when not only your memories but the memories that others might have of you grew dim with time and distance, when, indeed, you began to fade into a nothingness in the minds of the owls that you loved best, well, perhaps that was when legends could become real.

The Guardians of Ga’Hoole, Book One: The Capture, by Kathryn N Lasky

Grandma Has Solutions

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“Look!” said peter, “There’s someone waiting for you too. I told you that Grandma always has a solution for everything!

Peter and the Seal by Rick de Haas

The Usual Dimension 

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One of the children in my life had the following conversation immediately after waking up: 

Child: I’m glad we live in this dimension and not the other.

Me : Oh, That’s good. What’s in the other dimension? 

Child: Nooooo! We have to build the machine to get there!  We don’t have the parts.

I guess that means we’re stuck here.