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Thursday, May 7, 2015

eBooks vs. Books

Hello again! For those who don't know who I am, and lets be frank that's probably most of you, my name is Zoe! I am the 13 year old daughter of Jana. I have written one full blog post before and part of another. Today, I am back for my second full post!
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A lot of people seem to assume that teenagers are obsessed with technology, and for the most part they are probably right. I love playing video games, surfing the internet, and my phone is essential to life. What about eBooks you ask? Yeah, I'll pass. Maybe its the fact that I grew up a librarian's daughter with the library being home as much as my house; but I am not a big fan of Nooks, Kindles, eBooks, and other stuff like that. I much prefer reading a printed book. Not saying that I straight-up despise eBooks, they just aren't as good as the real thing. Most of my bookworm friends also agree with me on this matter.
EBooks can be pretty convenient, though. You can carry hundreds of books with you on a tablet. If it wasn't for my Nook when my family went to Mackinac and especially Disney World with it's almost full-day drive, my bag would have been filled completely with books. Instead of lugging around a bag heavy enough to break the Mackinac Bridge, I could take about 20 books that I wanted to read on my nook. Also if you need a new book quick all you need is an internet connection and a paypal account. After I read The Hunger Games I couldn't take that cliffhanger and almost immediately bought Catching Fire on my nook instead of waiting to check out the actual book from the library. Or how about how Nooks are back lit? That certainly helps when you wake up at 5am on a car ride to Disney and its still pitch black outside.

Despite all of the conveniences of eBooks, nothing compares to a physical book with real paper pages. I don't like reading on tablets as much as I like actually reading the book. Sure, on some devices and apps they made it look like you're turning a page, but you aren't. Its so much more satisfying to spread the book across your lap and feel the paper in your hands. Also, you can't get an eBook signed. I have several signed books which I am very proud of. Let's see you get Jonathan Rand to sign your eBook. Tell me how it works out, okay? Also, I don't know about you, but if I read on a nook for a long time, it hurts my head and eyes more than when I read a normal book for a long time. There's some scientific explanation for this that I don't know, but that's definitely a lost point for eBooks.

Of course there is way that books will always trump eBooks: They don't require charging!  Also, I have dropped a book in the bath tub and I could still read it. I don't think that would happen with a tablet. That brings us to the cost factor. If I ruin my book I can buy another. I ruin my tablet my Mom and Dad will kill me.

So there you have it. Reading on a tablet can sometimes be convenient, but the real thing will always, always be better.

Regular book still rules! 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Storytime Anytime-Happy Spring!

Happy Spring!
At least I think that it is spring. There was snow in Michigan last week, so it is kind of hard of tell.

For me spring is all about drinking in the sunshine while life is blooming all around you.

Nothing breaks through the monochromatic dreariness of winter like the bold and colorful illustrations of Eric Carle.  Two of Carle's books that are perfect for spring are The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Tiny Seed.
Now, neither of these books is specifically about spring (The Tiny Seed mentions all of the seasons). However, both books feature that change and growth in nature that we associate with spring: from caterpillar to butterfly and seed to flower.
All of Eric Carle's stories are told with a simple and engaging text, but what sends them into the stratosphere are the vibrant illustrations. If you are unfamiliar with Eric Carle and his phenomenal work watch this video.

Taking inspiration from Carle's unique style, I love to make tissue paper collages with kids after sharing his books. Older kids can cut tissue paper into actual shapes and pictures of their own design. With younger kids you can have them use pieces of tissue paper to fill in a template or just randomly glue them to paper (which can be just as beautiful).

Tissue paper is one of my favorite craft supplies because: 1) It is super cheap 2)It comes in so many colors 3)You can cut it, rip it, wad it, glue it, mod podge it, the uses are endless!

 To create the collage put white glue in a bowl and thin it with some water. Take an old paint brush and brush a thin layer of glue on the paper and start pressing down pieces of tissue paper on top. The hardest part with little kids is to get them to not use so much glue that the collage is a sopping mess. If you want you can brush another thin layer of the glue and water over the top of the collage to give it a hard, shiny look.

There are oodles of wonderful picture books that are about spring. These are just a few that I have really enjoyed.

1. And Then It's Spring by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Caldecott winner, Erin E. Stead

I admit that part of my love for this book is because of the dog, who reminds me of the yellow lab I grew up with and the one I currently own. And Then It's Spring is a beautiful book about a boy who is sick of winter (we have all been there) and decides to plant a garden.

2. Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson
I am a big fan of all of Karma Wilson's adorable Bear books. In this one Bear wakes up after his long hibernation and he is HUNGRY! Follow along as Bear's forest friends help him find clovers, berries, roots, etc. to eat.

3. Spring Things by Bob Raczka
Rhyming books are always fun for kids and this one elaborates on all of the amazing things happening in spring.

4. Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
What says spring like kite flying? My youngest son got one in his Easter basket this year and only just got to fly it this past weekend (darn Michigan weather). I have read this book countless times to kids and I have yet to meet one who doesn't love it and find it hysterically funny. Here is a fantastic video of the author (who is pretty easy on the eyes) reading Stuck

5. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
All of Peter Brown's picture books are visually stunning, but The Curious Garden stands out to me. A city boy finds some a small, struggling garden and decides to nurture it. Soon the garden is flourishing throughout the drear city. If you are from Michigan (or anywhere up north) you understand how long and cold and gray winter can be. It is hard not to do a happy dance when you see some green sprouting out of the snow, slush, and muck. The illustrations are so lush that you will find yourself touching the pages expecting to feel the soft green plants.

6. Little Mouse's Big Secret by Eric Battut
In Michigan we are inundated with fruit trees so spring (and summer) means apple, pear, and cherry trees are beginning to bud and blossom.  In this cute and minimalist story Little Mouse finds a cherry and decides to hide it in the ground. The Cherry soon becomes a sprout and then a young sapling and then a flowering tree and finally a beautiful, mature cherry tree with enough fruit to share.

The perfect project for this book is a fingerprint tree. Print or draw a tree trunk with branches on some heavy paper and let kids finger paint green leaves and pink blossoms. Super easy and mega cute. If you have a child that does not like to stick their fingers in paint (and it always seems like it is boys that have an aversion to paint on their fingers-at least in my experience) use q-tips. Side note: Always have q-tips for crafts. They are perfect for little hands to paint or spread glue. Plus, they are cheap and  you can just throw them away afterwards.

Another one of my favorite crafts that is perfect for spring is grass buddies. These are super easy and so much fun for kids to watch over time.All you need is potting soil, a cup, grass seed, and some things to make a face on the cup (google eyes, puff balls, foam pieces, etc.). Obviously, as the grass grows it will become the hair. I have made these several times at the library, Sunday school, and just at home and the kids always love them.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mayhem and Murder

It would probably take a very tall bookcase to hold all of the fiction and non-fiction books about the Jack the Ripper.  Add in all of the documentaries, movies, articles, and television shows and you could probably fill a sizable library with materials based on the infamous White Chapel slayings. I happen to be a humongous fan of Victorian mystery and horror so, unsurprisingly, I have read and watched  a substantial number of these.

Recently, though, I was surprised to learn that there was another grisly series of deaths in London, The Thames Torso Murders, that were also committed during the late 1800s in England. British author, Sarah Pinborough, delves into the lurid history of Jack the Ripper and the Thames Torso killer and brilliantly combines them with paranormal horror in her book Mayhem and its recently published sequel, Murder.

The protagonist of Mayhem and Murder is Dr. Thomas Bond who was the actual police surgeon who examined the victims of both Jack the Ripper and the Thames Torso Killer.  Pinborough takes historical details from Bond's life to create an empathetic and tortured hero. Throw in a fantastical and horrific solution to the Ripper and Thames Torso mysteries and these books are terrifying, cannot-put-down, do-not-read-late-at-night fun.

If blood makes you squeamish these are probably not books that will make it on your "to read" shelf. However, if you are a fan of the macabre and love books featuring the heavy fog and juxtaposition of grime and gentility of Victorian London then pick up Mayhem and Murder today. You will not be disappointed.