a little something hazardous for halloween, anyone?

donner-dinner-party-review

When I tucked everyone into bed the other night, my ten-year-old daughter started reading this book. When I woke up the next morning, her light was on, and she was finishing it up. I’m sure she got some sleep in there somewhere, but whether she did or not, I was a happy mom. Anytime my kids read something because they want to, I’m overjoyed, and if it’s about history to boot? I’m over the moon.

All my kids fell in love with Nathan Hale’s first two graphic novels in his Hazardous Tales series, One Dead Spy and Big Bad Ironclad, when he first introduced them to us last year. They present history in a way that is not only accurate and informative, but entertaining and funny as well.

The kids and I came up with some questions we had about his series, most particularly about his latest installment, Donner Dinner Party. So we had a little interview. Here’s how it went (I love how he answered the last question):

how to paint like Eric Carle

eric-carle-6

I grew up with Eric Carle books, and now my kids are. Eric is still alive at eighty-four, has illustrated over seventy books, and has sold over 103 million copies of his books around the world. Now that is the stuff of legends.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? was a nightly ritual at our house, as were many of his others. I love that so many Eric Carle books have always pushed the envelope. The Very Hungry Caterpillar  isn’t just a book about a caterpillar who eats through cake and candy, which is already fun, but there are actual holes in the pages, and different sized pages to take you through the days of the week. It’s genius.

Years and years ago, I saw an episode of Mister Rogers Neighborhood where Mr. Rogers visited with Eric Carle at his studio and demonstrated how he creates his illustrations. I’ve always wanted to show my kids how to do it. So today, for Eric Carle’s birthday, we did it.

book review and giveaway: ol’ mama squirrel

ol-mama-squirrel-tx

Illustrations by Oliver Jeffers and Artwork courtesy of Penguin Young Readers Group

Ready for a giveaway?? How long has it been, like a year or something?

The people at Penguin recently sent me a copy of the book Ol’ Mama Squirrel by David Ezra Stein to review for Mother’s Day, and offered to give away a few copies to some lucky readers.

When we received the book it became an instant favorite in our house. Mama Squirrel is the kind of gal who back down, especially when it comes to her babies, a trait I can definitely relate to. I asked my seven-year-old what he thinks of the story. Here’s what he had to say:

Me: Tell me about Ol’ Mama Squirrel.

CKR: It’s fun.

Me: What else? What’s it about?

CKR: It’s about a squirrel that loves her babies.

Me: What does she do?

book review: lost and found by oliver jeffers

lost-and-found-jeffers-tx

Illustrations by Oliver Jeffers and Artwork courtesy of Penguin Young Readers Group

I watched an episode of Charlie Rose . . . oh, ages ago. Tom Hanks was on it, and he talked about loneliness, and about how all great stories in literature are about loneliness. Sorry I don’t have his exact words, but you get the idea.

Loneliness is something we all feel; we all crave a sense of belonging. While I was searching for the exact words that Tom Hanks said, I came across quite a few of his ideas on the subject. In one instance, he explains how the loneliness he has felt over the years was different, depending on the phase of life he was in.

I couldn’t agree more. I watch my kids, with their own struggles, and nearly every tear (besides the toe-stubbing tears) is from loneliness. They want more friends; they want to be accepted; they want to be with their daddy more often. I think they want to know, existentially, what their place is in the world, and how they fit there. They want to feel safe, and accepted, and loved by the people they are required to spend time with. My own childhood was the same.

I wish I could tell them the feeling goes away. But it never really does. I remember in my twenties, when I was a missionary for my church, feeling lonely all the time. The weird thing was, we had a rule that we always had to be with the missionary we were paired up with—they were called “companions.” So here I was, with a companion 24/7—literally, 24/7—and I was still lonely. I learned you can feel lonely even when you’re not alone, and even when you’re in a place where you feel you belong.

I experienced something similar when I was married. I often felt lonely.