Book reviews, Picture Books

Book Review: Bubble Trouble

Bubble TroubleBubble Trouble
by Margaret Mahy

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I recently found this delightful picture book at our library, and we enjoyed it so much that I hated to give it back.

I asked my 5 year old what he thought of it, and he said, “I like it, but it’s hard to read!” Funny, since he doesn’t read at all yet. He probably said it because he watched me stumble through some of the sentences as I read aloud to him. But he also likes books that have some sort of refrain he can easily memorize and chant along, so he can feel like he’s reading, too:

“I do not like Green Eggs and Ham, I do not like them, Sam I am!”

Bubble Trouble may not have such a refrain, but there’s a good dose of silliness and reading it is pure fun. The story is about a baby who gets caught in a bubble, and floats up toward the sky. How can the baby be brought back to earth without harm?

Both the story itself and the frolicking rhyme are delightful. In fact, it is some of the best-written verse I’ve seen in a picture book in a long time.

Here’s a small example from page 12:

In a garden folly, Tybal and his jolly mother, Sybil,

sat and played a game of Scrabble, shouting shrilly as they scored.

But they both began to babble and to scrobble with the Scrabble

as the baby in the bubble bibble-bobbled by the board.

I’ll admit that I did stumble on occasion as I read it aloud. And my lips were rather numb by the time the poor baby was saved (oops – spoiler, there). But both my children and I immediately wanted to read it again when it was done.

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Book reviews, Gifts, Holidays, Humor, Sharing, Tips

How to Alienate Your Woman: Worst Christmas Gifts Ever

Even the most practical woman on the earth likes to receive gifts that are not in the least bit practical:  chocolate, jewelry, a gift certificate for a massage  (wait, that could be considered practical, couldn’t it? After all, it’s for my health.  So is the chocolate.  Ahem.), etc.  It’s not that we don’t like practical things, it’s just that we want a gift to make us feel special.

Most men don’t seem to understand the special principle.  It’s not what you give us that really counts.  Maybe not even the thought.  It’s how special it makes us feel.  The least expensive, smallest gift can make a woman want to give her whole life to a man (or at least her whole evening), if it is sentimental enough to make her feel important.

On the other hand, even the most expensive gift, if it makes her feel, shall we say, not special, can make a woman want to throw dog food at her man.  And suggest a nice, quiet place in the backyard where he can eat it in private.

In case you men are confused, here are some things you should give your woman only if she has specifically asked you for it, or you have a taste for generic dog food:

  • a weight-reducing gadget of any kind
  • a how-to-clean DVD
  • a dieting book
  • jumper cables
  • an appliance
  • deodorant
  • a hair-cutting set, so you can save money by having her cut your hair
  • your old, cast off _______, so you can buy yourself one that is newer & better
  • a light bulb (Of any color.  Really.)
  • a piece of construction paper crookedly folded in half, with a note quickly scribbled on it on Christmas morning (even if she did say she wanted something homemade)
  • a half-eaten box of chocolates
  • a box of chocolates that you proudly announce you found by the roadside (even if it doesn’t look like roadkill…)
  • address return labels you got for free from Easter Seals
  • mouse traps (even if she really, really wants to get rid of the mice)
  • a box of fabric softener (even if you wrap it in gold paper with a shiny, red ribbon)
  • tickets to see a sports event that you would kill to see, and she would kill to avoid
  • money, with the instruction to “get yourself a haircut”
    (no, this is not the same as a gift certificate to an exclusive hair salon)



So, what is one of the worst gifts YOU ever got?

Book reviews, Gifts, Reading, Sharing

Book Recommendation: “A Lump of Clay”

I just bought several copies of this wonderful little book to give as Christmas gifts. (If you didn’t get one from me, I’m sorry. You’ll just have to buy your own!)

A Lump of Clay, by Rich Johnson, is a short parable that will touch your heart and put a lump in your throat. It tells of the life of a simple little lump of clay, who sits on the shelf day after day waiting for the master to mold him into something wonderful.

Book:  A Lump of Clay
A Lump of Clay, By Rich Johnson

Haven’t we all felt, at times, like a lump of clay?

Haven’t we all wished to be better, to be beautiful?

If you know someone who needs to be uplifted or encouraged, this would make the perfect gift. If you know more than someone like that, the author is giving a special deal if you buy more than 5 books at a time. Check it out!

Disclosure: Rich Johnson is a friend of mine, but I do not get any money from the sales of his book, nor am I recommending the book because of our friendship. It is simply a book that I feel is well worth reading and giving.

Book reviews, YA fiction

Book Review: Hidden Talents

Hidden TalentsHidden Talents by David Lubar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was well-written and humorous, immersing the reader immediately and completely into Martin’s world. The author did an excellent job of characterization; each of the main characters was different and memorable.

The story is about a boy who is sent to an alternative school, and finds that he & his friends have extraordinary abilities overlooked even by themselves. I think most kids could relate with Martin, who has trouble with bullies and trying to get along with his teachers, and has to deal with misunderstandings with his friends.

I like the fact that in the end, they not only learn about their special talents, but they realize that they have to choose when and how to use them.

I also like that, even with the alternative school setting, the book was clean, with no profanity or other garbage to wade through. In fact, it is a very good example of how unnecessary those things really are in a well-written story.

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Book reviews

Key Lime Pie and other Delicious Mysteries

Ever since my first taste of Josi S. Kilpack’s Lemon Tart, I have devoured her culinary mysteries with more gusto than the desserts she uses for her titles.

In “Lemon Tart,” she introduces Sadie – a busy-body neighbor with a murder mystery that she insists on helping the police to solve, no matter how angry they get or how much trouble she lands in! This book was a true page-turner, keeping me up until late at night to finish it because it COULD NOT wait until morning. There were so many twists and turns it kept my head spinning, and kept me wondering until the end.

Now her latest, Key Lime Pie, has been released. She is holding a contest, and two of the prizes include signed copies of her book. If I win, I will celebrate by baking a key lime pie and spending an evening with that and her book!

(If not, I’ll ask my family if they would mind very much going without a meal or two so I’ll have a book to eat… ummm… read. I’m sure my 17 yo daughter, who reads even more than I do, will go for it, but the men-folk might balk.)

Wish me luck!