Fiona’s Luck: a Book Review

Fiona's Luck

With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, I’ve seen a few book recommendation lists that include Fiona’s Luck, which is written by Teresa Bateman and illustrated by Kelly Murphy.

I love seeing this book recommended at any time of year, however, because it is simply one of my very favorite picture books.

Both of my children love it, but of course it is my eldest, Fiona, who gets especially excited about it.  My girls love to find their names in books or movies, as most children do, and that was what attracted me to Fiona’s Luck in the first place.

And I am so happy I decided to buy it.

Not only does it give me a chance to have fun playing around with my horrible Irish accent (which is possibly more entertaining to me than my kids), but it delivers a wonderful lesson in the form of a fun and engaging story.

Fiona is a young woman in Ireland, living in a time after the Leprechaun King has stolen all the luck that used to be floating freely around the country, and locked it away in a big wooden chest.  He was upset that all of the luck floating around out there was getting attached to the Big Folk, and so he decided to keep it all for himself.

But he took ALL of the luck, every bit of it, and with no luck left floating around Ireland, a famine developed.  The cows wouldn’t let down milk, the hens weren’t laying eggs, and the potatoes rotted in the ground.

Fiona uses her wits to trick everyone into thinking that she is in fact very lucky by pretending to harvest potatoes and be overloaded with baskets of eggs and buckets of milk.

Her ruse works, and the Leprechaun King magically transports her to his throne room to demand that she return the luck.  Since she knows she is not lucky, she uses that to her advantage when he challenges her to tests of luck.  And though she fails all of his tests, she wins something much greater:  a little bit of the luck that he had locked away.  And as it turns out, a little bit is enough.

Fiona's Luck

Illustrations © Kelly Murphy

Amidst this tale of a woman who would rather have her “wits about her” than all the luck in the world, are gorgeously painted illustrations.  While reading the story, there is so much for kids to look at, and so many beautiful details for their eyes to peruse (like tiny sparkles of luck or hidden leprechauns).

The mood of the story comes alive against the soft natural colors, with the gloomier parts reflected by more subdued shades, and the lighter moments highlighted by the playful twinkling of the luck.  The friendly faces set against the sprawling Irish countryside makes for gorgeous viewing for adults and kids alike.

I highly recommend this book.  You won’t regret sharing the brave and spirited Fiona with your own amazing kids!

Happy Reading!

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Marta Big & Small: Book Review

marta-big-and-small

I recently picked up Marta Big & Small, written by Jen Arena and illustrated by Angela Dominguez, and I just had to share it.

This bilingual book is wonderful not only for the understated yet adorable illustrations, but also because of the lyrical flow to the text.

As we follow Marta through the story, she is compared to various animals, so we are practicing opposites.  The comparisons are made in both English and Spanish, but in a way that sounds poetic as opposed to a school lesson.

For example, “To an elephant, Marta is pequeña.  Small, very small.”

This makes it fun to read while also being educational.  And my kids love to ask me how to say things in Spanish, so to have these words presented like this is something I can really appreciate.

There is also a spread where we learn the Spanish words for the animals.  For example, Marta is “fast like el caballo.”

I am also completely enchanted by the female-positive message at the end.  She is called “clever, very clever, like una niña.”  This is a fantastic way to end the tale that includes her outsmarting a snake who though she looked “sabrosa” or “tasty.”

Plus, we get another spread which lists the words in the book with the Spanish and English words side by side, as a glossary.

Fun to read and educational!  Can’t beat that.

Happy Reading!

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I Have Seen Beyond Infinity

From Beyond Lovecraft Quote

As you may have noticed, if you follow my blog, I read a wide variety of genres . . . but there’s a special place in my heart for horror.

I love how there’s so much you can do with horror, how it can encompass everything else, from science fiction to romance.

Anyway, I’ve been reading a little Lovecraft lately, and while he has many quotable phrases, this particular bit stuck with me enough that I felt I should illustrate it.

So I made this graphic.

It reads:

I have seen beyond the bounds of infinity and drawn down daemons from the stars . . . I have harnessed the shadows that stride from world to world to sow death and madness . . .

The imagery conjures something vast, something terrifying, but in words that translate the concept of cosmic horror with a sense of beauty.

Or, it does for me.

This quote can be found in From Beyond, a story from the collection The Dream Cycle of H.P. Lovecraft.

The photo features a small but very active galaxy in the Camelopardalis constellation and can be found on NASA’s website.

And you can find more images like this that I’ve made in my Quotes section.

Enjoy.  :)

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The Story of Diva and Flea (Book Review)

The Story of Diva and Flea

I am so happy I picked up The Story of Diva and Flea.  I may even love the book more than my kids do, and they really like it.

First of all, Mo Willems is currently my kid’s favorite author.  Seriously.  Elephant & Piggie are HUGE in our house right now.

But whereas Elephant & Piggie are more of an Easy Reader book for K-2 kids, this book is aimed at a slightly different crowd.  Not too different – if you look on Amazon, they’re both listed for ages 6-8, but this is a book that is more likely to be read TO them than BY them.

And I certainly don’t mind.

(Actually I adore reading the E&P books with all my funny voices, too, but that’s beside the point.)

Diva and Flea has a great rhythm and an excellent structure.  They meet, they both try something new, and they discover how wonderful it is to try new things – even if they seem scary at first.

There are three acts.  In the first they meet, in the second Diva expands her borders, and in the third Flea expands his.  They both face their fears head on  – with the support of each other – and come out the better for it.

What a wonderful, wonderful lesson for children.

The writing itself is peppered with so many fun details.  For example, Flea is a stray cat who considers himself a “Flâneur,” which is “someone (or somecat) who wanders the streets and bridges and alleys of the city just to see what there is to see.”  The part I like best?  “A great flâneur has seen everything, but still looks for more, because there is always more to discover.”

Little Diva has a tremendous fear of FEET because she is aware of just how “squishable” her small stature makes her.  But she loves Fleas stories, like the ones about “The Underground Rooms on Wheels” and “The People Who Drink Cough-Fee All Day.”  And those stories are part of what inspire her to explore they city.

Flea introduces Diva to the world outside of her courtyard and the “tower that could cut a cloud in half,” and helps Diva discover the bravery inside of her.  Then Diva helps Flea conquer his fears, which also grants him the gift of the thing he doesn’t have:  a home.

The illustrations by Tony DiTerlizzi are beyond charming.  I love the perspectives of the tiny dog Diva, I love the facial expressions of Flea, and I love the colors and the dazzling backdrops of the Parisian setting.

Diva and Flea by Mo Willems

And that setting!

Ah, Paris, my Paris.

Many years ago, when I was writing my Travelblog, I said that upon leaving Paris I had left part of my heart there.  And how very true that was.

Paris took me in.  There is life in the very bones of the city, deep in the foundation, in the stones, and the hum of the Seine and the glow of the Tower against a gently falling night.  It calls to me still.

But even if you don’t feel about Paris the way I do, it certainly never hurts to explore different cities and different cultures with your kids.  The Story of Diva and Flea brings many things to your children, and, at the very least, is a wonderful read-aloud to snuggle with.

Happy Reading!

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Usborne’s Amazing Books on Shakespeare

best shakespeare books for kids

I am mildly (okay, that’s an understatement) obsessed with Shakespeare.

I’m not exactly a Shakespearean scholar or anything, even coming from a literature major in college, but really more of what I call a Shakespeare groupie.

I love Shakespeare and everything that he has given us, and I love to share the stories and the characters and the words with my kids.  My girls are still very young, but we’ve already seen multiple live performances together, watched some of the plays as movies, and done crafts and activities based on the plays.

And one of the original reasons that I became a consultant with Usborne Books & More is because of  Usborne Publishing’s amazing collection of books about Shakespeare.  Which is what this post is about.  I wanted to share with you how these books help to get kids excited about Shakespeare and help to research and understand his plays.

Though, honestly, I really got the books for myself.  My kids just get the benefits of having them around.  ;)

This seemed like the perfect time to share them, too, with this month being a worldwide celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.  Not a celebration that he died, mind you, but a celebration that we’re still so excited about and grateful for everything that he brought into our world through his art.

Talking about books seemed to me a great way to honor the words he gave us.  ;)

The books are much more impressive in person, however, than they appear from a simple photograph, so I’m first going to share a video review I made of the books listed here – so that you can see a glimpse inside of them and compare what they offer.  Then I’m going to list each book with a brief description.

Ugh … I don’t like watching myself on video.  But hopefully I was able to explain and demonstrate the books well enough for you to figure out what would be best for your household or classroom.  (Even if I did get confused and stumble over my words here and there…)

But if anything was unclear, or you have any further questions, please leave a comment here and I’ll do my best to help!

Here are the books, including the gift collection not mentioned in the video:

Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare

Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare

Recommended Age:  8+

Pages:  414

The Illustrated Stories contains retellings of 6 plays, all fully illustrated with artwork on every page.  It’s a hardcover book with a soft outer cover and includes a ribbon bookmark.

Plays included:  Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and the Tempest

Usborne Shakespeare Illustrated Collection

Usborne’s Shakespeare Hardcover Gift Collection

Recommended Age:  7+

Pages: 5 books at 64 pages each

This boxed set contains five hardcover books, one for each of the five plays represented, and each includes a ribbon bookmark.

Plays included:  Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet

Sticker Dressing Shakespeare

Sticker Dressing Shakespeare

Recommended Age: 5+

Pages: 24 pages + 10 pages of stickers

This sticker dressing book allows you to dress up characters from many of the plays with over 160 stickers, from Bottom to Macbeth and Cleopatra to Hamlet.  Also includes some quotation stickers.

Where's Will Shakespeare's Hidden Characters

Where’s Will: Find Shakespeare Hidden in His Plays

Recommended Age: 7-11

Pages: 48

A truly fun and unique concept, this book of Where’s Will is the Shakespearean version of Where’s Waldo.

There is an illustrated summery from 10 of his plays, followed by a double spread illustration for each of those plays in which you must seek out characters from the play.

Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare

Stories from Shakespeare

Recommended Age: 12+

Pages: 192

This book is covered with a sturdy flexi-binding and retells 10 of Shakespeare’s plays with large lively illustrations.  Includes summaries of all of the plays.

Play include:  A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, As you like it, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, The Winter’s Tale, Macbeth, and The Taming of the Shrew

The Usborne World of Shakespeare

The Usborne World of Shakespeare

Recommended Age: 11+

Pages: 64

Available in flexi-binding or in library binding, this book will thoroughly introduce you to Shakespeare.  Find out how he lived, what Elizabethan London was like, and why we still perform his plays today.

Includes multiple glossaries plus information about how to further research the topics on the internet.

Usborne's World of Shakespeare Reference Book

The World of Shakespeare Reference Book

Recommended Age: 10+

Pages: 32

Shorter than the book mentioned just above, this hardcover reference book contains similar information, but in smaller chunks and with a more colorful format.

That’s it for my review!  Overall, I highly recommend ALL of these books, but I understand most people aren’t going to rush out and stock up on each and every one of them, so I hope I’ve been able to help you decide on a favorite(s).

Also, be sure to follow me on Facebook where I have a habit of posting random funny or interesting Shakespeare stuff.  ;)

Happy Reading!

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Usborne Puzzle Pad Books

puzzle pad books

These Puzzle Pad Books from Usborne have tear-off pages that are full of paper games and puzzles to keep kids entertained.

They’re really great for car rides or restaurants or when you want to keep your kids entertained without electronics.

My video review shows one that’s made for two people (“players”) and another that is made for just one person.

Plus, there’s a pocket-sized one, too, which is smaller in size and with less pages, to make it even easier to carry around.  Like in their backpacks.

Check out my video to see inside the books and get a glimpse at the puzzles and games:

Here are the direct links to the books I mentioned in the video:

Pencil & Paper Games

Busy Puzzle Pad

Pocket Puzzle Books

And, of course, there are tons of other interactive and educational puzzle books at my site BOOKS WITH ROSIE.

If you need any suggestions, feel free to contact me on Facebook!  :)

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Muddle and Match Book Review

Muddle and Match Book Review by Roaming Rosie

I love these Muddle and Match books!  They make great gifts but they also keep my kids entertained during both story time and long car rides.  The reason for this is because they are SO interactive.

The concept of the books is this:  you have three sections on each “page” that are all able to be turned independently.  So the story on the left and the picture on the right can be changed over and over.  You could end up with a cowgirl head, a fairy body, and a mermaid tail – kind of like the picture on the cover.  And then you can change it up again!

Another thing I love is the alliteration.  Each page of the story focuses on one letter – which makes it easy to incorporate these books into lessons of learning the alphabet.

The books themselves are like a board book with thick pages, and they also feature rounded edges.

And, you know, they are super silly and fun!  Which is an awesome way to help kids learn to love reading.

Watch my video review to see the books in action:

And check out the whole collection on my book site:

Muddle and Match Books

  Muddle and Match Adventure Muddle and Match Imagine

 

Muddle and Match Monsters  Muddle and Match Jungle Animals

Happy Reading!

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