Monday, January 16, 2017

Magic Monday

Participating in memes, as well as having a theme for each day of the week (in my About the Blog page), has helped me blog more regularly in the past. So, in an effort to renew the daily theme (and this might evolve as time progresses) and continuing on my UBC journey , here is my first Magic Monday post of the year - where I review kidlit. 

Kathy Stinson and
Annick Press Ltd. , Children's Fiction
Pub Date 14 Mar 2017   

GoodReads Description: As a young student of the violin, Joshua Bell learns about an international competition to be held in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He chooses a piece of music, which his teacher suggests may be too difficult, but Joshua is determined. It’s a piece of music he loves. At the competition, Joshua experiences the usual jitters. Once his name is called, he strides to the stage and begins to play, but almost immediately, he makes a mistake. As he is about to walk off the stage, he asks the judges if could try again. They agree, and this time, the playing is impeccable. Dušan Petricic’s brilliant illustrations full of movement and color, capture the sounds made by Joshua’s violin, from the missed notes to the swirling, uplifting strains of the perfectly executed piece. Children will readily empathize with Joshua’s misstep, but they will also learn that there is always a second chance

My thoughts:  Music inspires; it transports you to a different world. This book portrays that with playful illustrations that seem to dance across the pages with grace and energy. The words dance right along with them all the while telling a wonderful, inspiring story. A piece of music speaks to Joshua, with visions of dancers when he sees the notes, and though he is told that this is hard, he works hard at it and learns the piece to play in a competition. His perseverance and his passion shine through, even in the face of failure. Knowing it is based on a true incident makes it all the more inspiring. The book ends abruptly and I wish the end notes which explain what happened were actually written in as part of the story itself with more illustrations! That would have made this perfect.
This is definitely a book to read to or with children, to teach that you can get up, and succeed even after a failure; and to instill a love of the arts; and to inspire.

Rating: B+
Reading Level: 5-8 years suggested (Read to younger kids; read with everyone else :) - my teenage son enjoyed reading this with me as well!)
Disclaimer: Thank you to NetGalley/Annick Press for the digital ARC of the book

Ingrid Chabbert
Kids Can Press 
Pub Date

A small boy longed to roll and play in the grass like his father had when he was a child. But the boy lived in a concrete city without any grass or trees. Instead, they had roads, walls and lots of other ugly things. Then one day the boy and his friend discovered a sapling hiding behind a low wall. When they hear that a condominium is being built right on the spot where their tree is growing, the friends know they have to dig it up and replant it in a safe place.

The Last Tree is both a story of hope and of despair.  The pictures and the words work together effortlessly to tell the story, both adding on to the other. The illustrations portray a bleak, gray world where the only bright spots are a few meager patches of green to indicate some plant life. But the joy and happiness that those few patches do bring to the characters in the story will bring a smile to your face in the midst of looking into a possible such future of all bleak grays and very little greens. Their efforts in trying to save the possibly very last tree shine a bright ray of hope. Will they succeed? You can read to find out!

This book reminded me of a short story I read years ago in a children’s magazine in India called Target. My efforts to find that story or a copy of the magazine have been in vain so far but I will keep looking. That story was titled ‘Grandpa, what’s a tree?’ or maybe it was just ‘What’s a Tree?’, where a little boy in a dystopian earth (hopefully never) asks his grandpa what a tree is.That story was the first time I realized what the ramifications of our actions could be on earth and natural resources.
This book will be a good classroom read for discussion.

Rating: B
Reading Level: 5 - 8 yrs
Disclaimer: Thank you to NetGalley/Kids Can Press for the digital ARC of the book

Linking these books to What are you Reading? From Picture Books to YA at Teach Mentor Texts and to NetGalley/Edelweiss Reading Challenge

Here is my list for IMWAYR,
Books read:
The Dance of the Violin (NetGalley read - review above)
The Last Tree (NetGalley read - review above)
Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson (Edelweiss read - review coming soon)
The Room of Many Colors - A Treasury of Stories for Children
A Pattern for Pepper (NetGalley read - review to come)

Books I am reading/planning to read this week:
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (my copy)
A Wrinkle in Time (my copy)
Fan Art by Sarah Tregay (library ebook)
Dingus by Andrew Larsen (NetGalley read)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Ruskin Bond: The Room of Many Colors: Deal Me In - Week 2 of 52

Deal Me In Short Story Reading Challenge - 2 of 52.  I drew the 9 of hearts this week and that corresponds to any short story by Ruskin Bond. My list is here.  I ended up reading more than one story from the book I have owned for sometime now. Here is my review of the story (and the book).

Ruskin Bond is a beloved writer of children's books in India. Born to British parents, he now lives with his adopted family near Mussoorie, India. I grew up reading many of his stories (but still have many left to read) and picked one of his short stories from the collection 'The Room of Many Colors - A Treasury of Stories for Children'.
The first story I read was the title story of this collection - 'The Room of Many Colors'. Once I finished that one, I went on to read a few more from the book, including 'Faraway Places', 'The Cherry Tree', 'The Haunted Bicycle', 'Whistling in the Dark'. You can run across a gamut of emotions as you read these stories and I have enjoyed each and everyone of the stories read so far in this collection. While difficult to pick one favorite so far, I am picking 'The Cherry Tree' to review today. Stories of resilience and hope always strike a chord in me; and having just read another children's book called 'The Last Tree' (review coming soon), somehow this was the story I picked to review from this wonderful collection.

'The Cherry Tree' is the story about a boy, his grandfather, and their very own special cherry tree. Rakesh stays with his grandfather as there is no school close to the village where his parents farm their land. When he plants a cherry seed and starts looking forward to see it become a tree, we are taken along the journey as well, and what a sweet journey it is.

‘Are cherry seeds lucky?’ asked Rakesh.
‘Of course.’
‘Nothing is lucky if you put it away. If you want luck, you must put it to some use.’
‘What can I do with a seed?’
‘Plant it.’

Rating: A
Reading Level:  There are stories for all ages in this collection (browse through them, read to and with kids)
Reread Level: 4/5

Simply Sunday - Priorities, Goals, Realities, and What Actually Happens

Here is my wrapup post for Winter Mini- Bloggiesta :  Started off at a good pace but as the weekend rushed by, could not keep it up but happy that I participated since I got things done or started on tasks that were long overdue (and also tasks I would not have worked on at all otherwise). So I did not quite make it to the finish, but will get there soon!
  • Update some of my pages (About Me; others) and make them more visible - added links to the About Me, About the Blog, and Challenges/Memes pages at the top of my post - is it visible enough?:) - Completed!
  • Schedule one week's worth of posts - in progress, hopefully be done with couple of them by tonight - 
    • This is still a work in progress; have a couple of posts ready now which I have not had in the past at all
  • Organize my reading challenges and memes I participate in - maybe a page -Have it ready (might keep evolving though but glad I have something to start with)
  • Write five reviews (at least two of them for NetGalley/Edelweiss each) -this is still work in progress - 
    • Got three out of five reviews done and they will be posted in a upcoming post this week (#2 schedule one week's worth of posts!)
  • Comment, comment, comment!-commented on many blogs that had signed up for the Winter Mini Bloggiesta and discovered great new blogs that I plan to visit again ..this is always a fun part of any such challenge.
What I discovered: And the title of my post explained : We do need to set goals for ourselves and make a plan on how to achieve them. Yes, priorities will change, and some of the goals might end up taking a backseat but if we never set them, they will never become true.  At least, this way, when life gets back on track, we have something to focus on again - the goals we set, and make them Realities..

As I continue my UBC journey this month, I noticed today's tip mentions creating a resource list. I do have one created already years ago and which definitely needs an update. I am sharing it here anyway and will be updating it over this week (as I work on the pending tasks for my Bloggiesta challenge as well).
For a list of online reading resources that I discovered (slightly outdated now, and will be updated soon), please click here.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Super Saturday - How Old Ideas can be Dusted, Cleaned Up, and Renewed Again; and other things

Coming up with titles for my posts has been one of the toughest things for me always. Do you experience this as well? Do let me know how you come up with titles for your posts daily - any tips are welcome :)

So today, as I was updating my About Me page along with a page for the Challenges and Memes I take part in as part of my to-do list for Bloggiesta, and continue my UBC journey, I noticed my old 'About the Blog' page as well and remembered I once had a theme for each day of the week, back when I was posting more regularly! I decided to use that for the blog title today, partly because I am unable to think of anything else, and partly because I do want to start working on my blog with the themes for each day again. That helped me in the past and will hopefully do so again. You can see all these pages (About Me, About the Blog, Challenges and Memes) on the top of my blog posts now.

For Six Word Saturday,
Renewing Old Ideas Can Be Fun!

For Saturday Snapshot, it is cold outside and some of the first things I think of is the foods that we love on days such as this - a cup of chai with spicy, fried Indian snacks like pakodas or samosas; or even corn roasted over coals and spiced with a mix of spices and some lemon juice! Here are two different photos of corn - both taken on two different trips to India, one at a beach in Bombay (Mumbai) and the other near India Gate in Delhi.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Winter Bloggiesta

Here is my to-do list for Winter Mini- Bloggiesta (participating in this after a long time)
  • Update some of my pages (About Me; others) and make them more visible - added links to the About Me, About the Blog, and Challenges/Memes pages at the top of my post - is it visible enough?:)
  • Schedule one week's worth of posts - in progress, hopefully be done with couple of them by tonight
  • Organize my reading challenges and memes I participate in - maybe a page -Have it ready (might keep evolving though but glad I have something to start with)
  • Write five reviews (at least two of them for NetGalley/Edelweiss each) - yet to start but there is tomorrow
  • Comment, comment, comment!- work in progress