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Posts from November 2015

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: November 4

JRBPlogo-smallToday, I will be sending out a new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. I usually send the newsletter out every two weeks.

Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews (picture book through young adult). I also have two posts with literacy and reading links that I shared on Twitter recently, and one post with my daughter's latest numeracy milestone (doing sudoku puzzles). Numeracy milestones are a new addition to this blog, and I welcome your feedback. 

Reading Update: In the past two weeks I finished two middle grade and two adult titles. I read/listened to:

  • Jonathan Stroud: The Hollow Boy: Lockwood and Co., Book 3. Disney-Hyperion. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed October 25, 2015, on MP3. This is a strong series, and I look forward to the next installment. 
  • Kekla Magoon: Shadows of Sherwood (Robyn Hoodlum). Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. Middle Grade Fiction. Completed October 30, 2015, on MP3. I read this book because a bunch of people really liked it, but it didn't work quite as well for me. I think this was a case of the audiobook magnifying flaws that I might have otherwise glossed over. 
  • Gretchen Rubin: Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. Crown. Adult Nonfiction. Completed October 24, 2015, on Kindle. I learned about this author from Amy at Sunlit Pages, and I found this book about how our personalities affect our ability to change habits quite useful. [For example, I am an Abstainer, not a Moderator, which explains why I can give certain foods up completely, but have trouble with moderation.]
  • Gary Taubes: Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It. Anchor. Adult Nonfiction. Completed October 27, 2015, on Kindle. I learned about this book from Better than Before, and found it fascinating. It's basically about the effect of carbohydrates on the body. 

I'm reading Dangerous Lies by Becca Fitzpatrick and listening to These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly. The books my husband and I have been reading to our daughter can be found here. We read fewer books to her in October than we did in September, mostly because we had a lot of travel. She's been particularly interested in the Berenstain Bears lately, having us read certain titles repeatedly. I think she is using them to process ideas about certain issues. We've also been reading a lot of Fancy Nancy books, which I always appreciate for the vocabulary. 

What are you and your family reading these days? Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. 

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


Numeracy Milestone: Doing (Small) Sudoku Puzzles

I don't seem to have a literacy milestone for my daughter this week. However, I believe that literacy and numeracy are connected, and I've been pleased to see her excited about doing sudoku puzzles. This started by accident. She went to a restaurant that featured a small sudoku puzzle using a 4 by 4 grid (vs. the traditional 9 by 9 grid) on the kids' menu. She was very interested in this puzzle. So, naturally, I went in search of more kid-friendly sudoku puzzles, and ended up buying her a copy of Will Shortz Presents The Monster Book of Sudoku for Kids: 150 Fun Puzzles.

I was initially going to hold onto the book for a Christmas gift, but then she spotted a sudoku puzzle in the newspaper that I was reading and expressed a wish for more sudoku puzzles that she could do. Well, what could I do besides bring out the new book?

So far she is quite keen on the book. She's about halfway through the 4 by 4 puzzles, and she's definitely getting the hang of it. She likes to flip forward and look at the 6 by 6 and 9 by 9 puzzles that are to come, but she knows that she's not quite ready for those. She also loves the book's monster theme, and has pronounced the monsters "so cute". 

I adored all sorts of puzzles as a kid. I studied engineering in college. I love that my daughter is interested in numbers and numeric puzzles, too. If this sudoku book helps keep her excited about numbers, it is well, well worth the $7 investment. I think that the sudoku is also helping her with logical thinking - figuring things out instead of guessing. 

OrganizedCandy[On a somewhat related note, she also likes to categorize things. To the left you can see her Halloween candy, sorted by type of candy and also by color in some cases.] 

I know that I talk mostly about books and reading on this blog. But one of my goals as a parent is that my daughter loves learning. It's important for me that she enjoys books, but I also intend to make every effort to encourage her affinity for math and numbers. 

Thanks for reading!

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook


The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles: Dave Wasson

Book: The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles
Author: Dave Wasson
Pages: 40
Age Range: 4-8

The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles by Dave Wasson is an over-the-top picture book that celebrates creativity and following your own path. Buster Bickles is a kid who is full of ideas, like making robots out of cardboard and making "EGGS-ray" vision goggles out of bacon and eggs. But when he takes his inventions to school for show and tell, the other kids laugh at him. 

Fortunately, Buster just happens to have an uncle who is an inventor (bearing a strong resemblance to Doc Brown from the Back to the Future movies). Uncle Roswell (heh) just happens to have invented a "What-If Machine", but he's lacking in big ideas to use to test it out. Needless to say, Buster is up for the challenge. He starts small, imagining "What if I had a giant mustache?", but then his ideas get bigger and bigger, until near-disaster. In the end, the What-If Machine makes a cameo at school for show and tell, and Buster is utterly vindicated.

So, not the most realistic book about invention that one might run across. (At one point the entire planet turns into ice cream). Despite the science-fiction nature of the story, however, Buster himself is relatable for any kid who has ever wanted to build things or felt like other people didn't understand. When he is initially laughed at during show and tell, the reader can see Buster droop, even though he is inside his robot costume. When he sadly says: "No one seems to like my ideas, Mom", the reader's heart hurts for him. And when his uncle asks if he has any big ideas for the machine, his joy positively radiates from the page. Although the what-ifs are entertaining (raining guinea pigs!), it's this realistic emotion that made The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles stand out for me.  

The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles is a fun romp that is sure to make kids giggle. Wasson's digitally-generated illustrations are quirky and detailed. The use of varied fonts adds points for read-aloud emphasis. But The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles also has heart, and delivers a subtle encouragement to dream big. That makes it a keeper in my book. Recommended for home or classroom settings.  

Publisher: HarperCollins (@HarperChildrens
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

© 2015 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through affiliate links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).