Death of a Mind

I leave the books behind and go to my room. I cry, as if Chase recently died and isn’t brooding in the room next door. I almost wish he’d die. Seeing him lose his mind feels more painful. At least if he died, I wouldn’t have to be teased by seeing his physical body, because the Chase I adore doesn’t exist anymore. His body is a house that is falling apart, and his mind is a prisoner in the upstairs attic. I have no hope. Still, sometimes, a glimpse of his malnourished body makes me want to violently shake him until the chains holding his mind captive fall free. As if that would work.

Manic Kingdom: A True Story of Breakdown and Breakthrough by Dr. Erin Stair

Tough Love

Shark: You both need to stop arguing. It’s starting to really UPSET me…

Snake: Warning, schmorning! Do your worst, you dimwitted Hero wannabe!

Wolf: That’s it!

Shark: Don’t do it, Wolf.

Wolf: Too late!

MUNCH!

Snake: Let me out of here right now!

Marmalade: Hey! Did he just eat the snake?

Shark: Aw, I warned you, Wolf!

MUNCH!

Marmalade: And you just ate the wolf!

Wolf: Shark, what do you think you’re doing?! Spit me out!

Shark: No. Not until you can both learn to be friends.

The Bad Guys (book 3) by Aaron Blabey

The Blessed Quarter

Under a tyranny, most friends are a liability. One quarter of them turn “reasonable” and become your enemies, one quarter are afraid to stop and speak and one quarter are killed and you die with them. But the blessed final quarter keep you alive.

It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis

  • Biography from Nobel Lectures, Literature 1901-1967, Editor Horst Frenz, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1969

Protective Bedtime Monster

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“Stay with me, please, and always protect me,” Rikki says, beginning to yawn again.

“Of course I will,” her monster says.

It sits guard over Rikki for the rest of the night.

My Bedtime Monster by Annelies Schwarz and Kveta Pacovska

Unexpected Dinosaur Lifestyle

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“I’m just me – a very big, very brave, very vegetarian Tyrannosaurus rex!”

Linus The Vegetarian T-Rex by Robert Neubecker

Ninja Cowboy Bear – Rock Paper Scissors

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This book has two parts:

  1. Tthe story of three friends who have an argument about who is ‘the best;’ and
  2. An illustration of the game Ninja Cowboy Bear, which is a very physically active variation on Rock Paper Scissors.

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And soon, they each realized something very important. The ninja appreciated the bear’s great strength. The bear wondered at the cowboy’s precision and accuracy. The cowboy was in awe of the ninja’s agility. The ninja, the cowboy, and the bear recognized that no one had to be the best. They were each special and unique – just like you and me.

Ninja Cowboy Bear by David Bruins and Hilary Leung

That’s What Friends Do

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“Come along,” I say, making sure my tiny elephant follows me. Because that’s what friends do: never leave anyone behind.

Strictly No Elephants, written by Lisa Mantchev and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo

Book Review: Ugly Rescue Dog is a Hero

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The first time I read this book to the children in my life, their reaction was a combination of fear and concern. I had to encourage them to read the story to the very end, so we could enjoy the happy ending.

The reason there was such a strong reaction is because the main character is Spike, a dog who is naturally so ugly he wins an ‘Ugliest Dog in the Universe Contest.’ Immediately after winning the contest, his owner ties Spike to the porch and moves away, leaving the dog behind. Not only does this awful man abandon the dog, he also gleeful shouts insults at the animal as he drives away.

Yeah, that guy is mean.

The neighbor boy starts caring for Spike and wants to adopt him. As it turns out, Spike is an extremely well-behaved dog, so the only objection the boy’s mother has is financial. They can’t afford a pet.

All of this is told, first person, by Spike. The pictures are lovely and there is nothing scary, violent or threatening about the images. The tension is created by the story itself. But the experience of being called names, forced out of a family or circle of friends and wanting to belong are easy for children to empathize with, and Spike is a genuinely nice and lovable dog who doesn’t deserve to be treated so badly. So, around this household, the reaction to the story was rather emotional during the first reading.

In the end, not only is he adopted by the neighbor boy, Spike also rescues the neighbor’s cat (a prize winning show cat) from a would-be kidnapper and is featured in the local newspaper as a hero dog, which is much better than being the ugly dog.

Spike is thrilled when people ask if Spike is the Ugliest Dog, and his new owners respond with:

“Actually, he’s the most beloved dog in the universe – and this is just the boy to take care of him.”

The happy ending is an excellent resolution and the story is equal parts sad, exciting and happy. After that first reading, this became a family favorite. It’s the kind of story kids like to hear because they know how it will end.

Spike, the Ugliest Dog in the Universe by Debra Frasier

Thanksgiving Book Review: Playing Football

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This is a story about a boy who eagerly anticipates the Thanksgiving feast and the annual turkey bowl. The ‘turkey bowl’ is a rough-and-tumble game of football played by a motley collection of family and friends.

After everyone has had their fill of turkey and treats, the turkey bowl begins – in a nearby open field, in the winter wind and snow:

All afternoon Ethan, Alex, and all the kids from the block dove for passes and lunged for tackles. Finally, on the last play of the Turkey Bowl, Alex dropped back for a pass and threw a bomb. Ethan raced down the sidelines. Deep in the end zone, he soared high above a defender…”Touchdown! Touchdown!

This is a wonderful portrayal of the many ways that people spend time with family and friends over the holiday.

Turkey Bowl, written by Phil Bildner and illustrated by C. F. Payne

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 holiday 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.