Note to Readers

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or print copy of the book. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Steam Train, Dream Train - Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tom Lichtenheld

Released April 16, 2012

Sherri Duskey Rinker
Tom Lichtenheld
Chronicle Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

There's a rhythmic lilt to Steam Train, Dream Train that drew me in. Can I see it becoming a favorite bedtime story? I most certainly can. The story itself is fun and a little whimsical. There's a steam train being loaded for the trip. That's not what's unusual, what is are the animals loading the cars and hoppers.

As the story starts - "Through the darkness, clickity-clack... Coming closer down the track... hold your breathe so you can hear huffing, chuffing drawing near." The imagery that creates is perfect for the targeted age group of three to five.

Soon the child experiences the work that goes into loading the train. Monkeys spring into action loading up their items. There are also the bouncing kangaroos loading the hoppers. Reefer cards filled with ice being loaded with goodies by the polar bears. These are just a few of the animals making an appearance.

I loved Steam Train, Dream Train. It's got great vocabulary words, the poetic lilt that I found always worked well at putting my overtired kids to sleep. Add in the illustrations and this book is simply a winner!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Peace, Baby! - Linda Ashman & Joanne Lew-Vriethoff

Released April 23, 2011

Linda Ashman
Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Chronicle Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

When kids, and some adults, get mad, their gut instinct is to yell, hit, slap, shove, or grab. Peace, Baby! teaches kids there is a calmer, more appropriate way to behave. The story contains children in different situations who want to react one way, but take a different approach instead.The title's tag line says it all: "When you want to push and shout, hugs can help you work it out!"

I like the message in Peace, Baby! though from my experience helping in a kindergarten class, it's not always as easy for kids to get the message. In all honesty, I find that behavior begins at home and many of the most explosive children usually had parents who tended to yell and scream at other parents who didn't do as they wanted. I'd like to think that some parents might change their approach.

This book is a great addition to a beginning reader's library. Some words may be a little more challenging, but the repetitive "peace baby" message will not take any time for a child to learn. Boosted by confidence over reading those words, interest to learn more words will quickly follow.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hating Heidi Foster - Jeffrey Blount

Washington, D.C. (November 2012) – Hating Heidi Foster by award-winning scriptwriter, director and novelist Jeffrey Blount is a fictional, young-adult novel that explores the depth and impact of the connections between family and friends.  Influenced by Jeffrey’s daughter Julia, Hating Heidi Foster is written to inspire readers to consider the value of their personal relationships.

The novel introduces best friends Mae McBride and Heidi Foster; two best friends who shared a close relationship since early elementary school. Their relationship seemed unbreakable until Mae’s father died
while saving Heidi’s life.  Blame sets in between the friends and Mae’s sincere feelings suggest that her father put Heidi before her, as she begins to unravel amid that blame and her uncontrollable and atypical anger.

Concurrently, Heidi is beset by guilt, falls into depression and stops eating properly; wasting away physically and emotionally as she determinedly waits for Mae to let her back into their treasured friendship.

A conversation between Blount’s daughter, Julia and her best friend, Emily piqued his interest to pen the novel.  Watching the girls laugh, joke and share funny stories as high school seniors triggered memories of them growing up together.  He realized that they would experience a slow separation as they entered adulthood.
Hating Heidi Foster was given as a graduation gift from Blount to his daughter and best friend.  It follows the emotional journey of two young women and is written to encourage readers to reflect on their relationships and recognize the importance of each bond.