The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

A Beautiful, Lyrical, Magical Story

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye WaltonThis is, without question, one of the best and most beautifully written books I’ve read in several years. Ava Lavender is a normal girl in many respects but with one major difference: she was born with wings. In an effort to determine where she came from, she recounts her family history and in doing so spans continents and generations. Love is gained and then lost, moments turn from thrills to devastation, and families break apart and come together again. Through four generations of women Ava comes to her own story in a stunning coming-of-age novel that embraces humanity in all it’s beauty and fragility. Walton’s use of lyricism, historical detail, powerful and unique characters, and magical realism combines to create a hearbreaking and unforgettable narrative. And though it was published as a young adult novel, its emotional maturity and expressive narrative make it an appealing read for both teens and adults. (more…)

keep-calm-it-s-jenny-s-birthday-9

Happy Birthday, Jenny!

 

 

 

 

 

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“Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.” ― Larry Lorenzoni

Jozi First Bday (24 of 48)

Keep Calm Image from http://bit.ly/1mb8vGu

Corgi Image from http://bit.ly/1rDIuN8

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Happy 3rd Birthday OTIJ!!

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. — C.S.Lewis

Today OTIJ is three years old, and like any youngster, we’re still trying to find our feet. Life has brought us new challenges and adventures, but both Jenny and I are still avid readers (like that’ll ever change!). Hopefully (fingers crossed), we’ll have some new reviews to post to the site soon. Until then…

Image from http://bit.ly/NBh9hT

Earth Day

Celebrate Earth Day!!

Earth Day by Jane Yolen

I am the Earth

And the Earth is me.

Each blade of grass,

Each honey tree,

Each bit of mud,

And stick and stone

Is blood and muscle,

Skin and bone.

And just as I

Need every bit

Of me to make

My body fit,

So Earth needs

Grass and stone and tree

And things that grow here

Naturally.

That’s why we

Celebrate this day.

That’s why across

The world we say:

As long as life,

As dear, as free,

I am the Earth

And the Earth is me. 

Poem from http://bit.ly/Z4WHIw

Earth Day Image from http://bit.ly/11iXi98


The Sun in My Belly book cover

Buddhist Teachings in a Lovely Picture Book

The Sun in My Belly by Sister Susan; illustrations by Sister Rain

Jenny and Molly are two young girls playing ball in a field. They begin to argue and finally walk away from one another, both angry and sad. Jenny cries, but the warmth of the sun on her head gives her comfort, and she begins to realize that everything is connected and thus inside of her. As she reflects on the beauty of the natural world around her—and subsequently the beauty in herself—she is happy and no longer feels alone. When Jenny encounters Molly again, they both apologize for their behavior and begin to share their thoughts on the world and its many wonders.

Inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun in My Belly introduces readers to the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and connectedness. Sister Susan and Sister Rain, both ordained nuns in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, wrote this book to share a philosophical concept: we are never alone because everything is a part of us, from the rain and sun to the plants and animals with which we share our world. (more…)

"The Dragon's Tooth" book cover

Action-packed Fantasy (with a bit of history and mythology, too)

The Dragon’s Tooth by N. D. Wilson

In the middle of America (Wisconsin, to be precise), twelve-year-old Cyrus Smith and his older siblings Antigone and Daniel are living their everyday hum-drum lives. Of course, their version of “hum drum” involves living parent-less, managing a run-down motel, and eating pancakes for just about every meal while pretending to the outside world that all is well. But when a strange tattooed man claiming to know their deceased father shows up, a strange turn of events (and one wild taxi ride) takes them to Ashtown and the steps of the Order of Brendan, the secret society of famous explorers throughout history. Thrown headfirst into a world of conspiracy, secrets, and adventure, they fight to prove themselves and stay alive in what is a sometimes crazy, sometimes scary, and always entertaining journey.

N. D. Wilson, author of the 100 Cupboards series, has created an adventurous and magical world that could almost exist in your own backyard. Think Harry Potter but in America and with real historical people as characters. (more…)

What's So Special About Planet Earth? by Robert E. Wells

Planet Earth Is Home

What’s So Special About Planet Earth? by Robert E. Wells

Sometimes Earth can be uncomfortable with weather that’s either too hot or too cold, and huge storms seem to come out of nowhere. In this introductory book about the planets, author Wells invites kids to pretend they’re visiting each of the planets in our solar system to find a new place to live. (As he says, “If you’re thinking about moving, you’d want to visit first, to see if the planet was right for you.”) The journey brings us to all eight planets in our solar system, Earth included, and at each we learn about distance from the sun, planet diameter, orbit time, number of moons, temperatures, and more. Each planet is interesting, but none seem to quite fit the bill for what humans, plants, and animals need in a home. When we finally travel back home to “our” planet, Wells explains why Earth is just right for us and the animals and plants we live with. He also tells us that we haven’t always taken good care of our home (pollution, etc.) and there are ways to make it better. He talks about recycling, reducing use of resources, and reusable energy. After all, planet Earth is pretty special–we’d better take care of it!

Bright, cartoon-like illustrations make the book fun, and some pages are written and drawn at different angles so readers have to rotate the book, which makes it interesting. In some ways, What’s So Special reminds me of The Magic School Bus series (more…)

Put this on your calendar!

March Events!!

Never Mind March

Never mind, March, we know

When you blow

You’re not really mad

Or angry, or bad;

You’re only blowing the winter

away

To get the world ready for April

and May. (more…)

I Haiku You

Love as Playful Poetry

I Haiku You written and illustrated by Betsy Snyder

you be my jelly,

 

i’ll be your peanut butter–

 

let’s stick together!

This, as you might expect, is a very sweet book. Readers will find a fun and poignant haiku on each page paired with cute illustrations of bold lines, smooth watercolors, and characters reminiscent of illustrator Gyo Fujikawa (one of our favorites). The characters express their love for everything from bikes and lemonade to parents, friends, and pets. Children and adults will both love the silly but apt comparisons in each poem. Snyder finds a way to boil down sentiment to basic ideas, and she does so very effectively without being condescending.

The book jacket says that “both the young and the young at heart will enjoy sharing these simple poems of affection and appreciation,” and I think that is absolutely true. (more…)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Cinderella is an Assasin

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Eighteen-year-old Celaena Sardothien is a prisoner in the salt mines of Endovier, living out a life sentence for her life as a notorious assassin. After surviving a year as a slave in the harsh mines, she is suddenly given a way to freedom: the king is hosting a competition for a position as his personal assassin, and Prince Dorian, crown prince of Endovier, wants to champion Celaena. Despite her loathing for the war-faring king, Celaena agrees, and her new journey–emotional and physical–begins. Once she arrives at the palace, she finds her competition to be fierce, full of other criminals and soldiers. Over the weeks of elimination challenges, Celaena finds herself involved with many of the big names at court. She also finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery as other potential assassins are found dead, one by one. Is she next? How can she stop what seems to be a malevolent, magical force? A destiny awaits her beyond any she could have imagined. Oh, and don’t forget love interests! (I’ll just say “love triangle with swoon-worthy guys” and leave it at that.)

Maas started her story on the premise that Cinderella was actually a deadly assassin. (more…)

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