Monday, May 30, 2011

Hello Baby!

     Mem Fox's Hello Baby! offers a simple, yet effective first look at animals through colorful illustrations set against a clean, white backdrop.  Direct questions to the reader are followed by rhyming responses on adjacent pages.  Without a doubt, the cadence of this story engages the young reader.
     Initially, the zoo comes to mind as a means of experiencing this children's book.  However, with 91 degree weather looming outside, Momma decides to come up with a cool plan B.  Thus, The Painted Zebra, an air-conditioned pottery studio, works since the striped zebra is one of the animals discussed in Hello Baby!.  Here, each squirt including Momma picks a piece of pottery in the shape of an animal of her choosing and then paints the piece to her heart's desire.  In a week's time, we pick up our fired objets d'art creating the perfect opportunity to revisit Fox's Hello Baby! for reading reinforcement.  For snack, animal crackers appease rumbling tummies after an intense painting session.  Mem Fox

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Silly Snacks: Family Fun in the Kitchen

     Children's cooking classes using child-friendly recipes such as those found in Silly Snacks is yet another way to encourage the love of books.  The squirts and I "oohed" and "aahed" through the mess-friendly board book pages and decided on the Mud Hole Dunks on page 16.  Needing prepared chocolate frosting, a staple in our pantry to help soothe Momma's late-night cravings, and fresh fruit.  Ding . . . ding . . . ding!  Strawberry season is here;  let's go picking to not only experience the cookbook, but also to learn the direct route of the strawberries from farm-to-table.
     Off we went to Eckert's Farm.  Loaded onto a trailer, we rode the roughly quarter mile to the fields and began picking.  The girls ran to the end of the row, our designated starting point, with much enthusiasm, and picking ensued.  Although not playing on any loudspeaker system, I found myself humming The Beatles' "Strawberry Fields Forever" as I chased them down the row (my first experience picking strawberries, too). 
    Two flats or roughly ten pounds later, we loaded ourselves and our bounty back on the trailer so that we could head home and Mud Hole Dunk our ruby red prizes.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

     Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain reaches beyond the animal lover or racing lover.  Instead, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a consuming read for men and women alike.  Creatively, narration is provided by Enzo, the terrier/lab mutt chosen at twelve weeks by the protagonist, Denny.  Enzo welcomes the reader into the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of his own life as well as the life of his master.  Without giving too much away,  the majority of Stein's novel is a realistic tearjerker causing one to evaluate the treatment of his own life as well as others which then concludes on an almost fairy-tale note.
     Problems for me, the reader, ensued with the late introduction of Denny's parents.  Their physical presence in the novel occupying only one chapter read as an afterthought.  Further explanation surrounding the parents only reaffirmed the notion that either more elaboration was needed, or the interjection of the parents should have been deemed unnecessary and distracting during editing.
     In regards to book club, this is one where man's best friend should be not only welcome, but master or mistress of ceremonies.  The ideal setting would be a dog park such as Rock Springs Park in O'Fallon, IL.  If book club members are not owners of the four-legged friend, simply being near these canines at the park would set the mood.  Plenty of dog biscuits must be brought along to share with the dogs, and a fresh batch of oatmeal raisin cookies made in the same manner as Denny- plopped onto the cookie sheet- to share with the humans completes the ambiance and hopefully gives chase to a conversational treat.  Garth Stein

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Learn More about Cookbook Author Nancy Baggett

Describe your first kiss.
Not the least bit romantic, my first kiss was during a spin-the-bottle game when I was in the fifth grade. Neither I nor my "boyfriend" for the party were really the least bit smitten, but went along with our smooch anyway. I can still recall feeling awkward, and bet my guy does, too.
Your favorite children's book, and why . . .  
I love The Lorax. The message is so important and eloquently presently, yet so readily grasped by even young children. The illustrations are also enchanting.  
A cause that's closest to your heart, and why . . .  
Finding a cure for cancer. Too many family members stricken far too young.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?  Nancy Drew.

xplain the worst job that you've held.  
The most tedious data entry job-literally-ever. Every day, all day I copied random series of numbers from one ledger to anoither. No explanation of why was ever given--I only lasted a week  Had to quit to save my sanity.  
A quote that motivates you . .
.You never know what you can do until you try.
The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island .
You Were Always On My Mind
Three Wishes
  1.That my grandchildren grow up to live healthy, happy lives.
  2  That world hunger is eradicated..  

3.That humans can learn to live in peace.
Favorite game you played as a child . . .

My cousin and I climbed trees in the woods and pretended to be bears. (It was more fun than it sounds!)

Nancy Baggett

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The All-American Cookie Book Book Club Ideas

     As mentioned in my profile, I am a recreational baker at best.  I enjoy baking, enjoy eating baked goods, but can never guarantee my results with the oven.  One day I may hear rave reviews, and the cookie jar is soon empty and in need of washing.  Other days, all who come in contact with my baked goods seem to be "full," "stuffed," and "couldn't eat another bite" with that same forced smile on their faces.
     Yet, without fail, every time I attempt a recipe with Nancy Baggett's The All-American Cookie Book, my cookies are uniform in size (the flattened-pancake-burnt-at the-edges look is out) and scrumptious in taste.  What ensues in my household is no longer polite, forced enthusiasm, but rather a fussing of sorts over whom is entitled to the last cookie on the plate.  In addition, Baggett places each cookie into a historical context which further justifies my incessant baking.
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie
     The All-American Cookie Book is an ideal book club choice to be accompanied with a cookie exchange for Christmas, Valentine's Day, or simply to celebrate the cookie itself.  An assortment of flavored milks- strawberry, chocolate, soy, almond-  would definitely work with this snack of choice. 

Nancy Baggett

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Molly's Magic Pencil Book Club Ideas

     It comes as no surprise that the vivid images composed of rich colors by illustrator, cartoonist, designer, and author Peter Davies engage the emergent reader.  In fact, my three-year-old snatched the book from my hands and proceeded to tell the story in her own words using only the bold pictures as guidance.  With a sprinkle of Harry and the Purple Crayon mixed with a dash of Aladdin's magic carpet, Davies' words add a memorable tale with a positive message to Molly's Magic Pencil.
     The English teacher within could not help but notice the run-on sentence on page one as well as some missing commas throughout.  Distracting for a thirty-something, but ignored by the target audience, three-year somethings.  In addition due to editing, a picture of Grandpa looks as if he is missing part of his left arm, but I assured my toddler that Grandpa was completely intact.
     For book club regardless of weather, definitely incorporate a flying carpet into the storytelling area.  This may be a sheet, rug, or blanket.  Allow the kiddos to take a ride with their minds as they listen to Molly's Magic Pencil.  Snack may be the creation of a flying carpet using graham crackers, peanut butter or icing, and various colored sprinkles in order to create the carpet of his/her choice.   To conclude "baby" book club, give each book club member a "magic pencil" and paper allowing the creative juices to flow and to review Molly's Magic Pencil.

Peter Davies

Learn More about YA Author Jan Blazanin

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .

ET—Being a sucker for the underdog, I can’t resist his big, sad eyes. Poor guy. I want to cuddle his slimy-looking little extra terrestrial body and make him feel better.

Describe your first kiss.

I was sixteen. His name was Ron, he had dark brown hair and glasses, and he was a grade behind me in school. Shocking! A group of us were driving around town after a football game. Ron and I were in the backseat. I didn’t hear bells or music, but the kiss was thrilling enough to convince me that I liked kissing. I still do.

Your favorite children's book, and why . . .

THE GIVER—Long before the current wave of dystopian fiction Lois Lowry created a practical, realistic world where horrifying occurrences are commonplace. Her ability to reveal each inhuman event in a matter-of-fact way increased the shock value. And who could not root for Jonas?

A cause that's closest to your heart, and why . . .

Protecting animals from cruelty and preserving the environment because we must.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?

Scarlett O’Hara in GONE WITH THE WIND, with all her spunk and determination but without that ridiculous infatuation over Ashley Wilkes. I’d take Rhett any day.

Explain the worst job that you've held.

My worst job was also my first job—detasseling corn at age fourteen. The day began with climbing into an open truck at 5:00 a.m. and riding into the Iowa countryside where twenty other girls and I were dumped at the edge of a monstrous cornfield.

Our mission: To pull the tassels from the tops of six-foot cornstalks. We wore long-sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid being cut by the corn leaves, and our clothes were soaked with dew within the first 5 minutes. By afternoon, we were drenched with sweat and peeling off whatever we could. All of us were sunburned, stinky, and covered with cuts.

At the time—several decades ago—we were not supposed to talk, sing, or listen to music. We broke all of those rules. The water jug was to be used sparingly. Our bathroom was any finished row. We brought our own lunches and ate sitting on the ground. Some girls quit after the first day. I lasted the whole two weeks, but I never did it again.

A quote that motivates you . . .

Never, never, never quit—Winston Churchill

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .

Rockstar by Nickelback—cleverest lyrics ever!

Three Wishes

  1. That malignancy will die and not kill
  2. That kindness and compassion will wipe out cruelty
  3. That people will respect their connection with all living things

Favorite game you played as a child . . .

This is going to make me sound completely crazy, but I narrated my own life. I turned whichever chore I was doing—cleaning my room, raking leaves, helping to paint the house—into a story. Sometimes I’d been kidnapped and forced into labor, or I was in disguise hiding from evildoers. Whenever I wasn’t reading a book I passed the time by narrating my life in third person to an imaginary audience.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Duck! Rabbit! Book Club Ideas

     Amy Krouse Rosenthal's Duck! Rabbit! engages the young reader through simple illustrations and text while teaching them to compare and contrast.  Giggling youngsters will inevitably engage in friendly debate regarding the identity of the main character.
     To further experience this children's read, access Duck! Rabbit through the Tumblebooks Library where the sound effects are provided much to the emergent reader's delight.
     For snack, a nice carrot cupcake would please not only the rabbit supporter, but also fulfill the bread-loving needs of a duck.  You may have the kiddos ice the cupcakes with white icing using Popsicle sticks and place the one eyeball on the cupcake using either a raisin, m&m, or chocolate chip.  For the ears/bill, place white-chocolate-covered potato chips into the icing.

Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Learn More about Children's Author Peter Davies

A film that brings tears to your eyes – This has got to be the squirrel in the animation film “Ice Age” his antics as he tries to save his acorn had me laughing so much it brought tears to my eyes. Brilliant!

Describe your first kiss – In a romantic context I don’t remember much about it as I had my eyes closed at the time.

Your favorite children’s book and why – “Mr. Ben” by David McKee I read these stories to my son Richard when he was young and then made up adventures along the same theme that we called “The Magic Cupboard” where Richard was the main character which he thoroughly enjoyed.

A cause that is closest to your heart and why – The prevention of cruelty to animals the reasons why are obvious.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be? – Agatha Christie’s “Poirot”, I would have loved to experience the genteel life of the 1920’s traveling on the Orient Express, visiting Europe and Africa when the pace of life was slower and you took time to enjoy the pleasures of exploring places before mass tourism was possible and beautiful remote locations were spoilt by the development of ‘resorts’. Add to that the challenge of solving the many mysteries of murder and you have (for me) the sublime lifestyle.

Explain the worst job that you’ve held – Being a “cold call” salesman. You have to have a particularly resilient personality to be able to walk in unannounced and try to sell someone something they don’t really want when your earnings are dependent on commission from sales. I don’t have that sort of personality and so I wasn’t successful.

A quote that motivates you – “Do or do not, there is no try!” (Yoda)

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island – Anything by Roy Orbison but probably “Pretty Woman”

Three wishes – Health, wealth and happiness takes a lot of beating.

Favorite game played as a child – Hide and Seek I loved the suspense and the challenge of trying to out think the other kids.

Peter Davies

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse Book Club Ideas

     Rebecca Janni's Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse is an ideal choice for not only teaching kiddos that what one may want is not actually what one may need, but also to motivate a young reader to learn to ride his/her bicycle.
     In order to experience this children's book, attempt to find a park complete with a paved path for bicycle riding and a lake for the book club meeting.  After reading through Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse, have children first complete  the "chore," similar to the main character, of feeding the "free-range chickadees"( with bread or crackers) or in the case of the park, ducks and swans.  After chore-time, gather tricycles, big wheels, and bikes from the car so that the kiddos may enjoy riding their horses of choice.  Just when the kiddos are running out of steam, announce snack-time complete with cherry tomatoes (since Nellie Sue ended up in Mama's tomato patch) and mozzarella mini-balls on Popsicle sticks.  For the pickier eater (ahem, like my kiddos), use maraschino cherries- to mimic the look of tomatoes- and banana slices.

Rebecca Janni

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dead Reckoning Book Review and Book Club Ideas

     Having just completed book 11 in Charlaine Harris' series, I am filled with a sense of sadness that I have turned the last page and a pang of disappointment that this novel feels more transitional than stand-alone. The main protagonist, Miss Stackhouse, finds herself involved in yet another dilemma- this time concerning the status of her relationship with her beloved, Eric, as well as his future in the vampire kingdom.  Glimpses of well-developed characters in past novels seem only to make cameo appearances leaving the reader with several unanswered questions.  Usually the Dead novels are a one-night read, this time the pull of the novel did not seem to occur until nearly 80% of the pages had been read.  Nevertheless, I will impatiently wait for book 12 in which I am hopeful I will find the answers to which I am looking.
     If choosing this novel for book club, it is worth the attempt to experience the novel as much as possible as a means to not only spark conversation, but also to immerse the reader into the pages.  Thus, without a doubt, to set the ambiance, play Elvis' "Kentucky Rain," "In the Ghetto," and "JailhouseRock."  Refreshments could include Miss Stackhouse's cheese straws- crisp with the right amount of spice- salted pecans, Maxine's punch, a delicious cake from the bakery, and, of course, plenty of V8 disguised in bottles with the True Blood label.

Charlaine Harris

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Love Dare Days 2-4

     Busy with my oldest squirt soon graduating preschool, I have, though, been keeping The Love Dare at the top of my "must-read" pile on my nightstand.  Keeping Day 1, patience, repeatedly at the front of my mind, I simply nodded agreeably when the hub told me as he was walking out the door for work that the air conditioner was broken, and I needed to call someone.  Realizing why I woke in a pool of sweat, I made the call and waited patiently in 90 degree weather with two preschoolers wearing their fussy pants.
     Day 2, love is kind, asks the reader to perform a random act of kindness towards his/her spouse.  Thus, I decided to mow and weed whack the lawn for my beloved in 92 degree weather.  As fate would have it, my mother was in town and able to occupy my two squirts, so I was able to complete the task before the hub returned from work.  Working in the peak heat of the day, the task was complete, but I was soon sitting with my head between my too pale legs and cool washcloths on the back of my neck. 
     Continuing on to the next dare, I am instructed to make a purchase for my spouse that translates to, "I was thinking of you today."  This is a challenge.  My hub has no desire for material things.  He enjoys playing the electric guitar, but I am musically illiterate, so a purchase in that department was out of the question.  Stumped. . .  As luck would have it, though, I decided to peruse the grocery aisle of the local farm supply store.  To my delight, I spied some "Hanky Panky" (honestly, printed on the package) chocolate drizzle caramel corn with peanuts.  Score 1 for me!  As I made a beeline for the check-out, I spotted green apple, a favorite flavor of the hub, licorice.  At this point, I was doing the happy dance on the inside, and I'm sure the young lady checking me out wondered what the deal was with my goofy smile. 
     Finally, Day 4, love is thoughtful.  On a roll, I e-mail the hub the following sweet nothing, "Today, I love you."  Not . . . "What is your e.t.a. for arriving home because the kiddos have gone wild?" . . . not "Hurry!" . . .  not "The humanity . . . ," but instead a line that summarizes my heart.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Jean Stafford's The Mountain Lion Book Review

This novel is about the coming of age of a brother, Ralph, and his sister Molly. Even though Molly is a bright, young female who aspires to be a writer, she considers herself a mind housed within a long wooden box.  While Molly and Ralph visit their Uncle Claude and grandfather, their mother takes their two older sisters around the world in preparation for marriage. Molly, not faced with many alternatives, spends the summer imitating Ralph. When Ralph asks her what dirty words she knows, his name, too, is added to her list of "unforgivables." Molly's presence, in essence, inhibits Ralph's male maturation. Therefore, the hunt for the mountain lion translates into a form of salvation for future Mollys as well as for Ralph. This novel, rich with symbolism, is an appropriate novel for the secondary classroom highlighting such subjects as feminism, anorexia, and dysfunction in the family.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Excuse Me, Your Fingers Are Resting in My Drink

     "Excuse me, your fingers are resting in my drink," is probably what I should have said when I observed with shock, intrigue, and finally uncontrollable laughter as the man seated in front of me at the baseball game was allowing his fingers to do the walking in my iced beverage.  The afternoon heat was stifling even though my friend,  the ticket purchaser,  assured all of us girls that we were to be seated in the shade.  Now that I think of it, I don't believe shade exists at Busch Stadium.  In all honestly, the imitation spanx I was wearing underneath my t-shirt was probably not helping matters in the temperature department.  Anyway, the man one row ahead did the exaggerated yawn move and then stretched his arm across the back of his date's shoulders.  The problem herein is when he then let his fingers simply drop off the back of the chair.  These fingers in question immediately found refuge in my salted- rim margarita to which I had only enjoyed two sips.  What comes next is the intrigue.  Instead of instant recognition of the error of his ways, he allowed his pointing and middle fingers to bask in the coolness of the pale-green liquid.  My eyes were now glued to this finger-drama unfolding in front of me, and I was unable to turn away.  After what seemed like minutes, he finally lifted his fingers from the scene of the crime only to rub his finger pads together- in an attempt to remove the salt- in my full line of vision.  Sitting a little straighter in my seat awaiting an offer of a replacement drink (to which I would have waved away) or an apology at the least, he leaned close to the woman next to him and whispered into her ear.  I don't believe the verbiage in question included romantic overtures because both sets of shoulders in front of me began shaking.  They were giggling like schoolkids at my thirst's expense, and I was finding this behavior quite contagious.  I then told the tale in a soft voice to my buddies on either side of me, and the laughter found root and spread. 
     Keeping in mind The Love Dare's theme of Day 1, patience, I am so grateful this was in the back of my mind.  Allowing events to unfold without interruptions resulted in an entertaining, unforgettable minuet.

Learn More about Author Annie Fox

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . . Just one?! But I'm so easily moved to tears! OK how about 3: Ghost, Tootsie, Up 

Describe your first kiss
. Two 11 year-olds at the beach. Surprising. Sweet. Fantasy-inducing.

Your favorite children's book, and why . . . 

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Such pathos, such empathy in just a few words and some simple line drawings. 

A cause that's closest to your heart, and why . . . Bullying. While kids grow, their sense of self is so vulnerable. When they're targeted by others (at school or at home) the way they think about themselves is altered in unhealthy ways. They can start to assume there's something "wrong" with them that makes them "deserving of disrespect." That will undoubtedly erode their self-confidence and hold them back in life. Kids whose aggression is tolerated are also being changed. They assume that threats, manipulation and violence are acceptable ways to behave. That can set them on a path of regrettable choices. And there's a third group... the largest one playing a part in the dramas that take place daily in schools around the world: the silent bystanders. The Culture of Cruelty changes them as well and they begin believing that they're powerless in the face of injustice.  That's no way to help develop a new generation of leaders.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
Mary Lennox in The Secret Garden. She brought herself and others out of darkness into the full bloom.

A quote that motivates you . . .
"If you're not modeling what you teach, you're teaching something else." (I don't know who said it first)

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .
"Defying Gravity"  
To work together to make our own corner of the planet a safer, saner, cleaner, greener more equitable place for everyone.
Favorite game you played as a child . . .  Pretending that my bicycle was a horse and riding really fast

Annie Fox

Learn More about Author Susan Stephenson

A film that brings tears to your eyes: The Blind Side.

Describe your first kiss
: I don't remember my first kiss, but fortunately I can recall the last one in complete sensory detail - sweet and romantic.

Your favorite children's book, and why
: My favourite children's book changes day by day. But an old favourite is Enid Blyton's The FarawayTree. I love the world that Blyton built and how it feeds our imaginations.

A cause that's closest to your heart, and why
: Children's literacy is of huge importance to me. I love to read, write, create and educate myself. I believe many of the world's ills could be solved by such education, particularly encouraging parents to read to their kids. And the thought of libraries closing due to lack of funding absolutely appals me.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
I would be Anne in Anne of Green Gables. 

Explain the worst job that you've held.
My worst job was being Latrine Officer in a children's camp. When one of the kids dropped her gold watch into the pit, it was my job to fetch it back for her. I came to fully understand the meaning of trust as I was lowered by my ankles.

A quote that motivates you
:“It is better to create than to be learned, creating is the true essence of life.”  (Barthold Georg Niebuhr)

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island
: "Oh I do like to be beside the seaside" - in the hope that such a positive affirmation will help me withstand the solitude!

Three Wishes

   1. For me: I wish, oh how I wish, that I could draw.
   2. For my family and friends: health and happiness.
   3. For the world: an end to greed.

Favorite game you played as a child:
Imaginative games - roleplaying Robin Hood and building cubbies in the bush so we could spy on the Sheriff.

The Book Chook

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Learn More about Author Derek Haines

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
The God’s Must Be Crazy for sure. The final scene with the girl, the table and the continually toppling red and white Tupperware had tears rolling from my eyes. They still get damp at the mere thought of the movie.

Describe your first kiss.
Inaccurately aimed at first, then sort of somewhat damp.

Your favorite children's book, and why . . .

Noddy by Enid Blyton, because it was banned. It probably did unimaginable harm to me in my formative years. 

A cause that's closest to your heart, and why . . .
Difficult question for a heartless soul like me. But probably oil. I hate it because it doesn’t just run cars, it starts wars. I’d prefer cars to run on milk or grass clippings. 

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?
Zaphod Beeblebrox without a doubt. Anyone who signs the destruction order for Earth because he thinks someone just wants his autograph is someone who really has celebrity coolness. His extra head also offers a lot of advantages on lonely evenings alone. 
Explain the worst job that you've held.
Easy. Author. All the rest paid a salary and I didn’t get criticised daily.
A quote that motivates you . . .
When one door closes, there always seems to be another ready to slam in your face.

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .
"Honky Tonk Woman" by The Rolling Stones. 

Three Wishes
   1.  A red Ferrari.
   2. World peace.
   3. Three more wishes.
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
Mouse Trap without a doubt. The greatest board game ever invented. I really should buy it again!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Learn More about Author Rhonda Tibbs

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .Steel Magnolias

Describe your first kiss. Quick, a little bit scary, sweet

Your favorite children's book, and why . . .Harry the Dirty Dog, because I read 
it to my son approximately 1,254,999 times

A cause that's closest to your heart, and why . . .Stopping domestic abuse, 
because my mother died at the hands of my stepfather.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be?  Beth Thomas, 
because she never loses sight of who she is or her core values 

Explain the worst job that you've held.  Making boxes, midnight shift.

A quote that motivates you . . .“You did then what you knew how to do, And when 
you knew better, You did better.” Maya Angelou 

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .
Wow, so many choices! Til I Gain Control Again - Blue Rodeo 

Three Wishes
    1.  I wish all my children health and happiness
    2.  No more mistreated, lonely, broken, abandoned, hurting children
    3.  I would like for more people to read my book (selfish wish)

Favorite game you played as a child . . .hopscotch
Rhonda Tibbs

Learn More about Author Carol Galusha

My first kiss: seventh grade on the back of a school bus - sooo not romantic :(

Favorite children's book: I loved Pokey the Puppy. I always wanted a dog like him. 

Favorite character from a novel: Melanie from Gone With the Wind. She was pure goodness!

Quote that motivates me: Success is the best revenge. (I consider being happy a great success.)

Three wishes:
1) My children to be happy.
2) For my husband and I to retire together and travel.
3) For people to be kind to one another.

The one song I would want on my iPod if on a deserted island: can't pick one song for my island living. But I would love to listen to the Eagles while I'm sippin' on my fruity drink!

Also, the book I'd take on the island: To Kill A Mockingbird 
Favorite game as a child: I loved playing Chinese checkers. My mom taught me. My siblings and I would put on our pajamas and play a few games before we went to bed. That was many, many years ago, and the thought brings tears to my eyes. 
Carol Galusha

Thursday, May 5, 2011

All we need is a little patience . . .

     Yesterday was one of those days which would have gone a lot better if I could have stayed in bed all day.  Having two squirts eliminated this as an option unfortunately.  A highlight of the day . . .  I thought I would be not only politically correct by purchasing the glass bottle of milk versus the plastic jug, but also fulfilling my aspirations of being an extreme "couponer" because the sign flying proudly in front of the product read that I could return empty bottles to customer service for $1.50 refund.  Thus, the advertisement effectively lured me in and captured my attention.  Beaming with eco-friendly pride, I proceeded to the check-out with a restless three-year-old in tow.   Attempting to occupy the preschooler, I had her assist me in placing the items on the conveyor belt, yet I sensed trouble loomed 5 feet in front of me.  The man ahead of me in the process of checking out received troubling news that the cash register had gone blank.  The checker requested help, and the manager attempted to remedy the problem by removing a panel and crawling beneath the register.  Beads of sweat began to form on my forehead as I realized I had limited time- we were due to pick my other child up from preschool.  I decided to break grocery shopping etiquette by quickly dumping my breakfast sausages, Cardinals purse (impulse purchase, but too cute), prized milk, and the like back into the cart and made a beeline for the 20 items or less checker. Knowing I could not conceal my overflowing cart, I opted to plead with the checker for the sake of my child needing to be picked up from school.  Checker sympathy ensued, and I was soon loading eco-unfriendly plastic bags (left the reusable ones in the car) into the trunk.  Despite the obstacles, we arrived safely at home where I hurriedly began to carry bags inside.  As if deemed inevitable by fate, the plastic bag housing the glass bottle of milk tore and, literally, milk was spilt all over my garage floor.  Determined to make lemonade of lemons, or in this case, rising above the loss of $1.50 refund, I sopped up the white liquid with sheet after sheet of paper towels knowing I single-handedly hurt the environment probably more so due to my failed attempts to save it.
      However, with yesterday coming to a close, I nearly tripped on a book jutting out from beneath my  bed.  Retrieving the dusty piece from the floor, I realized I bought The Love Dare, a 40-day challenge for husbands and wives to understand and practice unconditional love, with honest intentions, but failed to read and participate in its journey.  Opening to page 1, I see Day 1 reminds us that love is patient.  An appropriate theme given yesterday's events.  Follow and share with me in this challenge, but, "Shhhhhhh!  Don't tell my hub!"  The Love Dare

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Carol Galusha's Writing His Biography Book Review

In one evening I completed Writing His Autobiography, and my belief system in the necessity of romance was reaffirmed. A mesmerizing read . . . "chick lit" and then some. Not only does Ms. Galusha accurately depict the excitement and rose-colored vision of a blossoming romance, but also the harsh realities of what it means to deal with a life-threatening illness. . . the ups and downs of life. The highs of new love are sprinkled with the lows of greed, selfishness, and pride. Truly a must read for not simply the female reader, but lessons to be learned for the male reader as well. Carol Galusha

Rhonda Tibbs' Song of the Snowman Book Review

Rhonda Tibbs' Song of the Snowman accurately portrays literary realism. As Mrs. Tibbs' characters unfold and evolve, the reader is able to find himself/herself within the novel. Although one may not directly fall victim to parental neglect, alcohol abuse, and/or spousal betrayal, Tibbs captures emotions with which anyone can relate. Fortunately, Tibbs wrote a prequel, Angel's Blues which is a must read for those like me who genuinely mourned the fact that I had finished reading Song of the Snowman. A terrific choice for a book club discussion. Rhonda Tibbs

"Baby" Book Clubs

A child is never too young to instill the love of reading. . .  In honor of National Children's Book Week, I have decided to form a book club for my daughters, ages 3 and 5, and their friends.  My friend and I founded one when our kiddos were approximately 3 and 1 which included a story, snack, and craft.  Now, I feel it's time to elevate the "Baby" Book Club and add more adult elements such as a copy of the story for each child and/or family.  Thus, I intend to e-mail the book title in advance to member parents so that they may order from the library the book title in question prior to "discussion."    With this advance copy in hand, I am hopeful a prereading of the story will follow, which, in turn, will allow more silliness and participation on actual book club day if, for example, there is a catchy rhyme or repetition of words.  The book club attendees will be more likely to join in the reading if they are familiar with the storyliine.  In addition, "Baby" Book Club also includes snack and craft.  Field trips entail storytimes at the library, Barnes and Noble, Borders, and independent bookstores where children's authors often conduct signings and readings.Children's Book Week