Friday, June 29, 2018

Viking Picture Book Roundup

When I was looking for possible books to read on Vikings I really couldn't find a comprehensive list.  So I did some research and found only a handful of  Viking picture books and we didn't even like all the ones we read.  Here are just a few Viking Books we would recommend.

You Wouldn't Want To Be A Viking Explorer 

C Bear learned about Vikings in his school this year so we have been reading a lot of chapter books set in Viking times. This picture book is informative and gives you a good insight into what it would be like to live as a Viking Explorer. Some info was more engaging than others.  They were totally fascinated with the burial of a Viking leader. Their favorite thing on every page was the Handy Hints.  Those really cracked them up. 

Hack and Whack

This is by far our favorite book.  I think L.T., who is a redhead really identified with these naughty little redheaded Viking siblings.  Hack and Whack are running away from their mother at bedtime and cause all sorts of trouble as they try to get away. There are just a few words on each page and they pretty much repeat page to page. So the pictures really tell the story of what trouble Hack and Whack are causing. We have taken this out of the library multiple times so it's probably time to invest in our own copy. 

The Littlest Viking 

Sven is the littlest Viking who learns how to tell tales that everyone loves to stop and listen to. One day everyone is busy waiting for the arrival of someone special and they don't have time to listen to Sven's tales. The special person is a baby warrior princess who cried a lot and can't be comforted by all the Viking tricks like a ride in a Viking Ship or music from a sklad.  The only thing that calms this Viking warrior princess down is Sven's storytelling. Sven no longer holds the title of littlest Viking, but that doesn't matter because he now has an awesome warrior princess to play with.  A sweet book about getting a new sibling.  

How To Be A Viking

Hiccup the Viking isn't your typical Viking boy. He is scared of everything from spiders to loud noises and he was especially scared of going to sea for the first time.  To make matters worse Stoick the Vast (Hiccups father) was the toughest Viking out there and didn't understand how Hiccup could be scared of going to sea. Hiccup visited his grandfather Old Wrinkly (L.T. got a kick out of his name) to ask him if Vikings ever get frightened? Old Wrinkly explains that the sea is full of trials and terrors, but also of marvels and miracles. Hiccup experiences those trials (seasick, bad weather) and some marvels ( sees amazing dolphins and fish).  In the end, Hiccup enjoyed his time at sea and learned a valuable lesson that I think any child can relate to. It's easy to fear the unknown and it's okay to be frightened, but learning how to get over it is what makes them brave.  

Do you have any books with a Viking setting that you would add to this list?

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

High Season

I read the High Season by Judy Blundell in two days.  The book takes place in the North Fork of Long Island ( a place I'm familiar with)  where the town has been able to retain its charm and farm stands, unlike the nearby Hamptons which are filled with the rich and famous.   

True story one time Husband and I were driving thru East Hampton and a man was crossing the street wearing a button down shirt with a sweater tied over his shoulders. I always thought that was just a rich person stereotype in a movie and then I saw it in real life.

Every summer Ruthie and her daughter Jem, move out of their beautiful house in North Fork and rent it for the summer. The money they make renting the house helps pay the mortgage and allows them to live in this idyllic village year round.

This particular summer the house is rented to Adeline, who is very rich and brings her obnoxious stereotypical l rich frat boy stepson with her.  Adeline ends up falling for Ruthie's ex-husband and Lucas a.ka. frat boy has a flirtatious relationship with Ruthie's daughter Jem. 

There are quite a few minor characters with storylines that all intersect and so it felt like there was a lot happening in the book.  Add in some money trouble, work issues, family issues and a love interest for Ruthie and this book was jam -packed with drama.

I felt like I couldn't put this book down because I wanted to see what happened next to Ruthie and that just shows how emotionally invested I was in the characters. 

What are some books you are looking forward to reading this summer?

Monday, June 25, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading 6/25/2018 #imwayr

This is my first time linking  up with Kelly Moye of Unleashing Readers and Jen Vincent of Teach Mentor Texts, It's Monday! What Are You Reading?  I know this is supposed to have a kidlit focus, but I am going to sneak in two adult books I read/am reading into this post. 

Happy Mail 

I had won a blog giveaway that included all the Mo Willems books in this pic.  I am so excited to read these with L.T. and a book review will hopefully be up on the blog in the next week or two.

Picture Books

L.T. and I have been reading a bunch of books with Vikings as the theme and the standout for us has been Hack and Whack

 There is something about these redheaded siblings that L.T. just loves (fellow gingers unite).  There is very little text on each page so this is a book where the pictures really tell the story.  A post about some of the Viking picture books we enjoyed will be up this week.

This week we were introduced to the awesomeness of Josh Funk.  I am thrilled to see L.T. like a book so much.  Here's the deal with L.T. he doesn't really like to sit and be read to.  There are so many other mischievous things he could be doing, but when he falls for a book (ex: I Love You Stinky Face, If You Give A Mouse A Cookie) he falls hard.  

And we have fallen hard for Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast. It's pretty much all he wants to read.  I am glad that I was able to get the second book in the series out of the library so I can rotate the two books. 

Chapter Books

As for C. Bear we are focusing on Nordic tales for the first half of summer.  I'm starting with Thunder Girls Freya and the Magic Jewel.  I know this book is geared towards girls but he is familiar with Freya from Thor so I am hoping that he will get into this.

Adult Lit 

I read The High Season by Judy Blundell in two days.  The book takes place in the North Fork of Long Island ( a place I'm familiar with)  where the town has been able to retain it's charm and farm stands unlike the nearby Hamptons which are filled with the rich and famous.   There is work drama, love drama and just all sorts of drama. It was one of those books that I wanted to know what happened so I stayed up way to late just to finish the book.

I am currently reading My Oxford Year by Julia Whelan.  I have heard such good things about this book and so I am excited to see if it lives up to the hype. I'm just a few chapters in and so far I really like it. 

What books are you excited to read this summer?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Black Panther The Junior Novel

I mentioned that we are big Marvel fans especially my 8-year-old son. We could not wait to go and see Black Panther in the movie theater and it did not disappoint. I ordered this Black Panther novel as a surprise from C. Bear's Scholastic Book Order.

 Can we just go off topic and say how much I love the monthly book order? Like I am more excited to go through the flyers then C.Bear and L.T.   I love Scholastic Books so much (not paid, I just love them) that I co-chair the book fair twice a year at my son's school.  And book fair weeks are like Christmas!!

 We read this book together and were impressed with how the first half of the book was exactly like the movie. Except that the movie was so good because of the actors that brought the characters to life and the amazing visuals.  The book falls kind of flat.

 I think some of the names of the characters could be a struggle for an 8-year-old to pronounce. He didn't have an issue because he knew their names from the movies, but I could see that being an issue if you were unfamiliar with the movie.

I think the biggest issue for C. Bear is that he would prefer to have a picture or two in each chapter. This book had 8 pages of pictures in the middle of the book, but C. Bear prefers them to be sprinkled throughout each chapter. He loses interest when it's just pages and pages of text.  Does anyone else's child want pictures in every chapter?  Any good book recommendations?

Friday, June 15, 2018

My Weird School Fast Facts Sports

I had bought C. Bear  a few Dan Gutman, My Weird School books when he was in 2nd grade, but he just wasn't into them.  Maybe he didn't get the humor because he didn't think they were funny AT ALL.  I volunteer in C. Bear's school library and the My Weird School books are a huge hit with the 2nd and 3rd graders. So I thought it was strange that he didn't like them, but he has specific tastes and then I forgot about this series altogether.

Fast forward a year and he LOVES the My Weird School series. Like he belly laughs when he reads them. This led us to find the My Weird School Fast Facts books.  The sports one is the third in our collection.

The book is narrated by Arlo and a girl that really annoys him named Andrea.  They have some serious banter and they throw in some seriously interesting facts to learn. The more random the fact the more C. Bear loves it.

So what sort of interesting facts have we learned?  Here are just a few of our favorites.

*  Finland has a sport called wife carrying. The author suggests watching YouTube videos of it and they do exist and it's amusing. Basically, the husband carries his wife on his back while completing an obstacle course.

* Snail racing is another random sport that is popular in England.   It's a weird fact and of course the weirder the facts the more we love them.

* Did you know that the tallest player in NBA history was 7 feet 7 inches?  Well, now you do.

Do your kiddos like the Dan Gutman books?

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Orphan Band Of Springdale

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I wanted to read The Orphan Band Of Springdale solely based on the cover. Yes, I totally judged a book by it's cover.  It just looked so interesting that it made me want to read it.  The story lived up to the cover hype!

There was so much going on in this story, but somehow it all tied together at the end. Gusta (Augusta) Neubronner was sent to live with her grandmother in Springdale, Maine. Her father leaves her on a bus headed to Maine with an address of her grandmother's house, a suitcase with her clothes and a french horn. It is in those moments I just fell in love with Gusta. She is a young girl of 11 years old and her bravery and composure as she watches her father flee the bus and the police come on and search for him just had me in awe.

The story is set in 1941 around World War II. There are people in this small town of Springdale, Maine who fear that aliens aka immigrants are spying for Germany. One girl in Gusta's class makes it particularly difficult for her by questioning her German -sounding last name and I really loved to see their story turnaround by the end of the book. The fear of immigrants and the unknown is something that was very much an issue in 1941 and can still be so relevant today.

Throw in some searching for a magic wish, forming a band with her cousins and some serious family secrets and you have a book that had me enthralled.

Have you ever judged a book by it's cover?  Did it live up to the hype?

Wednesday, June 6, 2018


As I mentioned in my previous post we plan on reading lots of Nordic Myths and books about Vikings this summer.  I like to take what my boys are interested in and really just encourage them to read and learn more about that topic.

L.T.  is 5 years old and some of the books especially the books we are reading with Nordic Myths might not hold his interest so I've also been looking into picture books around Vikings that would make L.T. excited to read.

I purchased Boy from an Usborne Book Party. I absolutely loved that this was a story about a young Viking boy who was deaf.  He would try to talk to the villagers with his "dancing hands", but they didn't understand him  The king and the dragon were having a battle and the boy who could not hear was in the middle of it.  People shouted for him to move, but he did not hear them.  Eventually, he saw the king and dragon and tried to communicate with them with his "dancing hands" When that didn't work he wrote in the dirt and spoke to the dragon and the king and helped them work out their differences.  At the end of the book, the villagers thank the boy by signing thank you to him.

I love the sweet illustrations in this book.  I adore that it showed someone hearing impaired as a hero.  Showing young children that people can be different makes those differences less scary when they see them in their everyday life.  At the end of the story, the illustrations show you how to sign thank you.  L.T.  loved learning the thank you sign and that led to him and his brother wanting to learn more signs.

I love this book so much that I actually wish it was a chapter book so we could read more about the adventures of this very brave boy.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Adventures Of Thor The Thunder God

We are a little Marvel obsessed in our house.  Like we watched the trailers for Avengers Infinity War hundreds of times and saw the movie opening weekend kind of obsessed.  Knowing my son's love of Thor and Loki I plan on sneaking in a whole lot of books about Nordic Myths and Vikings into his bookcase.  We have a whole theme going on for our Mommy School this summer.

 Are you wondering what Mommy School is?  I swear I am not one of those mom's that makes her kids do homework the entire summer, but I also don't want him playing video games for 10 hours a day.  So we invented Mommy School.  Basically, it's 2-3 times a week for two to three hours where we do crafts, watch movies, go on adventures based on our theme. This summer the things he wants to learn about are Nordic Myths (Loki and Thor) and King Arthur and Merlin.

C Bear has less than a month of school, but I was able to get this book out of the library and so we read it before the official start of Mommy School.

I liked that each chapter was a short tale about Thor and sometimes his mischievous brother Loki. We basically read a chapter a night.  Some tales were more engaging than others with Stolen Thunder being our favorite tale.  In this tale, Trym steals Thor's hammer and will only give it back if he can marry Freya, who of course refuses.  Loki suggests that Thor dress up as Freya in a wedding dress and trick Trym into marrying him which will get his hammer back.  The next picture shows the illustration of Thor as a bride.  Let's just say it got a lot of giggles.

C Bear was disappointed that the illustrations didn't look like Thor and Loki from the Marvel movies, but I actually liked these illustrations and appreciated this wasn't a Marvel book, but a book with Nordic Myths and they should look different.

I struggled reading some of the names of the Gods and places in the book as did my son.  If you do read this book there is a glossary and pronunciation guide at the end of the book.  Super helpful....after the fact.
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