Aileen Stewart's Blog

July 21, 2014


Hey everyone. I trust you are having a fabulous summer so far. Our family has been having a terrific time eating ice-cream, attending bluegrass gospel concerts, bowling, participating in our local farmer's market, and so much more. But rest assured, I always leave a  little time to read and review some children's literature.



If you have followed me for a while, you have probably figured out that my first love is children's fiction, but I do indeed read non fiction as well. So this week, I thought I would mix it up a little and share some of that non fiction with you.

The first book I read was Parrots Over Puerto Rico. This book is a bit unusual as the cover has no title just a beautiful picture of parrots. And that is not the end of the surprises which you will discover when you open the book and realize that the pages are printed sideways. But once you turn the book sideways and begin to read, you will find the extraordinary story of the parrots of Puerto Rico and how they were almost driven to extinction. Along the way, you will also read about the history of Puerto Rico, it's people, and how it came to acquire its name. This book is definitely a good read and would make a perfect addition to a science report, project, or possibly a home school science curriculum.




The second book I read was also about wildlife and was titled What's The Difference Between A Turtle and A Tortoise? This book was simple to read but not at all boring. Not only did it explain the differences between the two, but it also shared the similarities and unusual facts. This book would also  make a lovely addition to any science themed project or curriculum.




Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming September second! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
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Published on July 21, 2014 00:00

July 14, 2014


It was another busy week. Now that I think about it, busy weeks have seemed to be the norm lately. This is possibly because my husband and I have vowed to do more fun things with our daughter, Emily, this summer like riding bikes and bowling. Or it could be because I have entered the Farm Market season and have baking to do. It could be because we had a flea infestation and I spent hours and hours washing bedding after I bug bombed. It could be the Celbridot I created for my friend Terry Shay's website (a site you should totally check out after you are done reading my post). But most likely, it's just what happens to a person when they are passionate about everything!

My Celebridot
But despite the multitude of mini quick bread loaves and tiny tarts lining my kitchen counter, the long bike rides to pick wild black raspberries, watching the fireworks during our town's Bicycle Days, the laundry, and the matting of photos I intend to enter in our county fair, I still managed to read two really great books last week.

quick breads and tarts
The first book I read, Apples to Oregon, was so totally delightful, I couldn't decide just what I enjoyed most. The cover was intriguing and the illustrations divine. When I opened the cover of the book I was greeted with a beautiful  map of the west coast. The subtitle claimed to be a slightly true narrative of how apples, peaches, pears, plums, grapes, and cherries (And Children) got to Oregon which was just so silly it made me laugh. And the story was expertly and hilariously written.

Apples to Oregon
The second book, Winston & George, was also a great read with a cleverly disguised message about playing pranks on your friends. The brightly colored illustrations add to the fun tale and will keep children six to eight fascinated. An added bonus, at the end of the story there is a page about real life crocodiles and crocodile birds.

Winston and George
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming September second! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
                             
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Published on July 14, 2014 00:00

July 7, 2014

This past weekend was our family's annual vacation. Every year over the week of the fourth my  mom, sister, brother, sister-in-law, nephews, niece, hubby, Emily and I all pack up to spend three nights and four days at the local KOA campground. The weekend was chock full of bouncing, wet hayrides, bubbles, and wildlife, but I still managed to get some reading in.

   


About a month ago, I won a middle grade novel which I just hadn't had the time to read until now. But once I started, I could hardly put it down. What was I reading? Henry & The Incredibly Incorrigible, inconveniently Intelligent Smart Human by Lynn Messina. The story takes us to a world where robots are the predominate life force and humans are created to do the menial tasks robots do not want to perform. Robots have to be careful though, because sometimes the drooling zombie like humans go beserko. This is Henry's greatest fear until he gets to know his human and finds, much to his surprise, that he is quite intelligent. 
The adventure that they embark on when they run away together is fraught full of  the kind of danger that keeps you on the edge of your seat while reading, and the secrets they discover will amaze even the most skeptical of readers. Miss Messina has created a wonderful piece of fiction that is sure to keep both boys and girls between the ages of nine and thirteen intrigued from beginning to end.
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
                             
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Published on July 07, 2014 00:00 • 2 views

June 30, 2014





Last week's book review involved cats because I am a cat person. I mean I would have to be to have three wouldn't I? But, I want to give dogs a fair chance as well, so here is are four of my favorite dog books in no particular order.
1. Harry The Dirty Dog

Harry hates to take a bath, so he runs away. He spends the day getting so extraordinarily dirty that his family doesn't even recognize him when he returns home. Will Harry ever get his family to let him back in the house, and if they do, will it involve a bath?


2. Hugs and Kisses   Hugs the puppy sets out early one morning while his family is still sleeping because he has something he needs to find out. The kind farm animals along the way help him with his requests and when he returns to the barn and his family he finds the answer for which he was looking!

3. Buddy Finds A Home

This story of how one family found a very imperfect dog and how he made a perfect addition to their family is a good lesson in how love can overlook differences. My daughter truly enjoyed this book, especially when she realized it was a true story. I would recommend this book for children six to eight.

4. Schnitzel Von Krumm Forget-Me-Not

Told in rhyme and accompanied by beautiful illustrations, Schnitzel Von Krumm: Forget-Me-Not is a great little book for children four to eight. As Schnitzel's family busily packs for vacation they remember everything but him. To find out what happens to Schnitzel when this happens you need to read this book for yourselves!

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.
                             



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Published on June 30, 2014 00:00 • 3 views

June 23, 2014


This past week was busy with both work and play as we took one of Emily's friends bowling, went geocaching, visited the Velvet Ice Cream Factory, set up tables at our local farm market. It was so busy in fact, that for this Monday's book review, I actually had Emily read a book to me on the way to Bible school Sunday evening.

Bowling   
She read Captain Cat by Inga Moore. The book started by stating that Captain Cat loved cats so much that he had more cats then crew. I started laughing and asked Emily if that reminded her of anyone. She responded by saying that it reminded her of her friend that had gone bowling with us. A friend that loves cats so much that she even calls herself cat girl.

Captain Cat
Quickly I stopped laughing and she continued to read. We learned that Captain Cat was a trader, but not a good one. He loved cats so much, he always traded his goods for  more cats. One day Captain Cat decided he was going to travel to places he had never seen. He, his cats, and crew set off, but a large storm causes them to sail off course to an island over run with rats.

I don't want to give too much away, so I will just finish by saying that you really will love how this extremely amusing story ends. The illustrations are quite captivating too.

Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.










 
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Published on June 23, 2014 00:00 • 2 views

June 16, 2014



As you have probably figured out by now, I love books and authors. All types of books and authors. And when I am able, I like to introduce you to new authors you may never have read before. Recently, Indie author, Pat Brannon, asked if I would be willing to review a couple of her children's books which promptly arrived in the mail this past week when I agreed.

I have known Pat through Face Book for a while, but had never read any of her many books, so I was curious. What she sent me were the Meet The Darlin' Dujeeszys and Violet's Not So Velvet Voice.

The first thing I noticed when I received them was that they are a little larger then the usual children's book. They are about the size of a coloring book. Although a little unusual in my experience, the size is not a negative. In fact, children five to eight for whom this book seems appropriate, will more then likely enjoy the large colorful illustrations.

The Darlin' Dujeezy's are a very large family who reminded me a little of the real life Duggar family. The message in this story is team work. It really doesn't matter if your family is large or small, everyone working together causes life to run much more smoothly. This is a lesson that Emily's father and I are trying to teach her as well. Each of us pulling our own weight and doing different chores, so that everyone can enjoy the benefits.

Meet The Darlin' Dujeezys  Helping OutEmily Helping Set Up The Trampoline
Violet's Not So Velvet Voice took a totally different direction. In this story, Billy Carl Thomason has a problem. His problem is Violet, or to be more precise, Violet's horrible singing voice. Only violet doesn't believe him when he tells her she sounds awful. Violet has always been told by her friends and family that she has a lovely voice. Violet is so incensed that Billy Carl doesn't like her voice that she follows him everywhere he goes singing and tormenting him until he can't take it any more. Billy Carl appeals to his teacher for help and blessedly she finds a solution.

Violet's Not So Velvet Voice
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.

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Published on June 16, 2014 00:00 • 1 view

June 9, 2014



This past week was pretty busy as I was getting ready to host a garage sale with my sister. I didn't realize just how much junk, I mean how many sales items I had, until I started hauling things to the garage. The good news is that we sold over two thirds of what we put out.



Of course I still left myself plenty of time to read a few books, and I even found a new blog hop to join called Make My Saturday Sweet. It is hosted by a lovely American mom who has been living and raising her children in South Africa. So if you have a minute, stop by, read her blog post, and check out her great blog hop buddies!


And don't forget this week's selection of books. As I have written about before, it's always fun to find books by friends at the library, and this week was no exception. My very talented friend Salina Yoon, author and illustrator of the penguin books, delighted me with Penguin on Vacation.

Everyone needs a vacation from time to time and Penguin decides to take his at the beach. He has adventures and fun, but best of all, he discovers that where you spend your time isn't nearly as important as who you spend it with.


I also read The Curious Garden by another very talented author/illustrator friend of mine, Peter Brown. This whimsical book will delight children with it's beautiful art work and make them itch to plant a garden all their own as they follow Liam's adventures. It is also a testament to the fact that you don't have to be perfect at what you do. You just have to love what you do and keep working at it. And if you do, before long your joy will spread much like Liam's curious garden spread all over town.


Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.


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Published on June 09, 2014 00:00

June 2, 2014

    Last week was Emily's final week of school and we had a super great time. The last full day of school was so perfect. The kids finished up some narrative writing stories. Some of the laptops weren't working, so I got to take three children to the computer lab to finish typing. I had Emily's friend, Ella, sign me into a computer and I told her I would see if I could finish a short story before she was done. She informed me she was a fast typist, so I told her I would see... what I could accomplish. I asked her to pick an animal so I would have some inspiration and she chose a pig.

In the thirty minutes or so we were there, I wrote a story that I think would be a great picture book. It is called "The Pig Who Heard Music". I even got to read it to the class before we started our read-out.  

Reading Outside
 For lunch, their teacher, the ever so fabulous Ms. Carr, who we were blessed to have her for second and third, ordered pizza for the children. I added a huge bowl of seedless red grapes to the mix and the kids brought drinks and snacks.

After lunch we had our read out and then Miss Carr had the kids play water balloon ball. Two teams, two sheets, and lots of balloons later, they finally got the hang of tossing it from one sheet to the next We are certainly going to miss Ms. Carr, but we will carry the memory of you with us for years to come.

water balloon ball Friday found us attending the school award ceremony. Emily received the "Sensitivity" character award, a "Music" award for recognition of outstanding participation in music class, "The Outstanding Academic Award" for making the honor roll all four quarters, and a honorable mention ribbon for Math Olympics. This was the first year for MCS third grade to participate against other schools in the Math Olympics and MCS as a whole received 39 percent of the ribbons.

In addition, she received a "Outstanding Comprehension" AR Reading medal. To receive this medal she had to have above a 93 percent comprehension in reading as well as meeting her goal each quarter. And to top it all off, she won the "Overall AR Star" trophy for AR Reading in third grade. She accumulated over 83 AR points in four quarters; the goal for the year was 34 points. Her father and I feel so blessed to be her parents and to see her excel in all that she does. 

 
Now, we have officially begun summer. We kicked summer off with pizza and bowling. And let me just say what we lack in bowling skills we make up for with enthusiasm. Our next plan of attack is to head down to the library and sign up for summer reading. Hope you are getting ready to do the same! And to start you off right, I recommend Ladybug Girl At The Beach. Going to the beach just embodies the whole idea of summer to me and this book takes us along on LuLu's first trip to the ocean. To begin with, she is afraid of the ocean. But by the end of the story, she has conquered her fears and has had a stupendous time.

Ladybug Girl
Another great book, one for beginning readers, is Frog And Fly Six Slurpy Stories. They short and funny blurbs of a frog teasing his food before he eats it. Deliciously amusing, the last of the six stories might even surprise you.

Frog and Fly
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.



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Published on June 02, 2014 00:00 • 2 views

May 26, 2014



Memorial Day originated after the Civil War and is celebrated every year on the last Monday in May. It is a remembrance of all the military men and women who have died  serving our country. But this Memorial Day, I want to help  people remember those Americans who were wrongly treated during the onslaught of World War II. They were not spies, they were not traitors, they were not sympathetic to the other side. Their only crime was the simple fact that they were of Japanese decent.

What made me think of this was a book that the children's librarian at Marvin Memorial Library, in my home town of Shelby, recently purchased. A beautiful book called A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai. It is the story of a Japanese family of artists who were taken from their happy California home and were forced to spend three years in an Internment camp in the Utah desert.

Based on actual events that Miss Lee-Tai's Grandmother experienced, this story is a beautiful testament of human courage and hope. The illustrations by Felicia Hoshino add dimension to this tale, but most interesting of all is the fact that it is written in both English and Japanese.

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow
If you want children to have a real interest in history, a real interest in the plight of others, a real interest in what it would be like to be unfairly taken from everything you've ever known, then this book is a must add to your reading list.

Something even more amazing then my enjoyment of this book occurred this past week as I was shuttling third graders to the YMCA for swimming. I happened to take this book along with me to read while I waited, and on the way home, one of the boys who was riding with me asked about it. I had wedged the book between his seat and the middle console and he curiously pulled it out to investigate. I told him a little about the story, and much to my surprise, he began to read. When we arrived back at school, he wanted to sit in the car a moment longer so he could finish the last page.

So not only do you have my word that this book is an extraordinary read, you also have the opinion of a third grade boy who saw past the girl on the cover and let himself  relive a bit of  history.


The Boy in The Back Who Dared To Read!
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.


 
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Published on May 26, 2014 00:00 • 1 view


Memorial Day originated after the Civil War and is celebrated every year on the last Monday in May. It is a remembrance of all the military men and women who have died  serving our country. But this Memorial Day, I want to help  people remember those Americans who were wrongly treated during the onslaught of World War II. They were not spies, they were not traitors, they were not sympathetic to the other side. Their only crime was the simple fact that they were of Japanese decent.

What made me think of this was a book that the children's librarian at Marvin Memorial Library, in my home town of Shelby, recently purchased. A beautiful book called A Place Where Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai. It is the story of a Japanese family of artists who were taken from their happy California home and were forced to spend three years in an Internment camp in the Utah desert.

Based on actual events that Miss Lee-Tai's Grandmother experienced, this story is a beautiful testament of human courage and hope. The illustrations by Felicia Hoshino add dimension to this tale, but most interesting of all is the fact that it is written in both English and Japanese.

A Place Where Sunflowers Grow
If you want children to have a real interest in history, a real interest in the plight of others, a real interest in what it would be like to be unfairly taken from everything you've ever known, then this book is a must add to your reading list.

Something even more amazing then my enjoyment of this book occurred this past week as I was shuttling third graders to the YMCA for swimming. I happened to take this book along with me to read while I waited, and on the way home, one of the boys who was riding with me asked about it. I had wedged the book between his seat and the middle console and he curiously pulled it out to investigate. I told him a little about the story, and much to my surprise, he began to read. When we arrived back at school, he wanted to sit in the car a moment longer so he could finish the last page.

So not only do you have my word that this book is an extraordinary read, you also have the opinion of a third grade boy who saw past the girl on the cover and let himself  relive a bit of  history.

 The Boy in The Back Who Dared To Read! 
Well, that about wraps it up for this week. Join me next week for another exciting episode, same crazy time, same crazy channel. And feel free to drop by my personal website, Fun With Aileen, any day of the week for even more on reading, writing, my very own early grade chapter book, Fern Valley, and my soon to be released sequel, Return To Fern Valley, coming summer of 2014! I'm also on twitter @AileenWStewart if you want an extremely brief glimpse into my days.


 
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Published on May 26, 2014 00:00 • 1 view