Scottish Monster Family

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In faraway Scotland, here was a famous lake called Loch Ness. And legend had it that deep in this lake lived a monster. No one had ever seen it. But guess what? The legend was false. In truth, way way down at the bottom of Loch Ness there lived not one but three monsters!

The Lock Mess Monster, written by Helen Lester and illustrated by Lynn Munsinger

Giggle Book Award: Ninja Family

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Every family needs that special play time that just brings the whole family together as a team. For some families it’s a game like football, baseball or soccer. For the family in the Ninja! books by Arree Chung, it’s pretending to be NINJAS!

I strongly recommend reading these books together because the two stories, combined, illustrate the Ninja bond within the family illustrated.

Ninja!

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Ninja! is about Max, a young boy, playing pretend-ninja and causing trouble throughout the house. He wakes up his dad, steals his sister’s cookie and causes her to accidentally fall on her bottom (it was not intentional), which earns the little ninja some punishment time.

Oddly enough, according to the children in my life, the punishment is one of the funniest parts of the book – and it consists of nothing more than a picture of mom’s arm pointing and the little ninja leaving the kitchen, clearly downtrodden, with the words:

I have been shamed.

As mentioned in previous posts, I tend to use children’s books as an opportunity to indulge in a little reader’s theater. In this case, I point to the hand with an ‘uh-oh,’ which is usually echoed by the children because ALL children know what the silent point means. Then I read the words  “I have been shamed” in a very dramatic ‘shamed’ voice.

Giggles galore.

Then the story takes a turn for the better as the little ninja makes amends with his little sister by giving her a costume and saying:

Baby sister, let me teach you the way of the ninja.

And they are off…

Ninja! Attack of the Clan

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Attack of the Clan features Max playing pretend-ninja alone but, this time, he doesn’t want to play alone – he wants someone to play with him. He trying to entice his sister, mother and father, but each one is fully absorbed in another task.

a misunderstanding between father and son leads Max to believe his father has agreed to play hide-and-seek when his father hasn’t even heard what Max was saying. End result? Max confronts his father, realizes the error, and returns to his room with hurt feelings.

This is a scenario most children fully understand.

Then, things change.

Maxwell, time for dinner!

So, Max heads downstairs, looking for the family, and finds dinner on the table but no one around – except the dog who is lapping up the soup. BUT, what Max does not know, but the reader DOES know, is that his entire family has bot on their ninja costumes and taken hiding places all over the dining room.

Surprise Attack!

The entire family jumps out and an epic pretend-battle ensues. First Max takes down dad by poking him in the belly button and tying him up with a jump-rope.

Then he give his mom a kiss and shouts:

The Kiss of Death!

Finally, it’s little sister’s turn.

The little ninja is elusive. She is small but powerful.

Little sister hides from Max long enough to jump on his back and lick his face.

SLURP!

I’ve been licked.

I love my ninja clan!

Between the drawings and the text,the readers theater opportunities are wonderful!

Giggles, giggles and more giggle!

The best part? The family is clearly having a wonderful time playing pretend and bonding through play.

Pre-Television Kids Lit

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This book was published in 1928. The length of the story, the style of the artwork and the plot make an interesting contrast to children’s books published more recently.I found myself wondering how pre-television children reacted to the stories they were told. The portrayal of cats and feline behavior is also interesting. Well worth a look.

I’ve seen hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, millions and billions and trillions of cats – and not one was as pretty as this one.

Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag

The Little Things

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“Would you mind if I took this off?” she asked. Boy 412 shook his head. That’s what mothers were for. To fiddle about with your hat.

 

Septimus Heap, Book One: Magyk by Angie Sage

 

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Economics of Fertility and Childbearing

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Are you likely to have more kids if you are rich or poor?  Or to put this in econo-jargon: Are kids normal or inferior goods?  (Reminder: When you get rich you buy more of a “normal good,” and less of an “inferior good.” And yes, the language of economics can be a bit cold.)…

Whether you cut the data across countries, through time, or across people at a point in time, the same fact arises: The richer you get, the fewer kids you have.

Yep, kids aren’t normal.

The Rich vs Poor Debate: Are Kids Normal or Inferior Goods?, Freakonomics.com, by Justin Wolfers

Cardboard Space Ship Away!

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Niko is the captain of his very own spaceship. He built it all by himself.

Space Boy and His Dog written by Dian Curtis Regan and illustrated by Robert Neubecker

Admiration List: David Raether

David Raether went from having a extremely well paying job as a comedic writer for television, to losing absolutely everything and spend a few years homeless (on-the-street-homeless). Why? Because he decided to take a year off of work to address problems in his family. The house was paid for, they had money in the bank, it was a perfectly reasonable financial decision and exactly what his family needed.

Unfortunately, in the United States, taking time off of work to make positive changes in your personal life is tantamount to professional suicide. At the end of his 12-month sabbatical, David Raether was unable to find work. Since he and his wife were committed to keeping their children enrolled in the best school system in the United States, their cost of living remained where it had been when he was pulling in 100s of thousands per year. Without an equally good paying job, their savings dried up and things went from bad to worse.

This is an important story to be told about poverty (in general) and homelessness (specifically) within the United States. The far majority of Poverty Survivors are good, hard working people who hit on hard times.

Drug addicts and criminals are neither exclusive to, nor most prevalent among, the poor – there are plenty of addicts and criminals (white collar and otherwise) among the upper classes. But that’s a topic for another day.

David Raether has my admiration for surviving homelessness, pulling himself out of that tragedy, and having the courage to talk about it.

Admiration List: Nacole

I have great admiration and respect for victims of horrendous crimes who find the strength and courage to speak about those crimes publicly. Nacole is one such brave soul who gave a TEDx talk about child sex trafficking – and what it’s like to be the mother of a child who has been lured away and sold.

This talk is brave, powerful and heart wrenching.

Mermaid Explorer

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King Neptune beamed and hugged his smallest child. “My Minnow,” he boasted to he entire kingdom, “is a daring explorer!”

The Mermaid and the Shoe by K.G. Campbell

Change Memory and Fog

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…a silent goodbye, to a place that had changed me forever—and the place that, more than any graveyard, would forever contain the memory, and the mystery, of my grandfather. They were linked inextricably, he and that island, and I wondered, now that both were gone, if I would ever really understand what had happened to me: what I had become; was becoming. I had come to the island to solve my grandfather’s mystery, and in doing so I had discovered my own. Watching Cairnholm disappear felt like watching the only remaining key to that mystery sink beneath the dark waves. And then the island was simply gone, swallowed up by a mountain of fog.

Hollow City: The Second Novel in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs