Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Book review - Power in Numbers

Power in Numbers by Talithia Williams

Shorter profiles are my favorite way to introduce people to historical figures. By giving us five to ten pages of history and influence we're able to appreciate an overview and determine which figures we want to explore in greater detail. And what better way to inspire girls to innovate in STEM fields than to give them a host of brilliant women to model their lives after. Yes, we need to show them how cool STEM subjects are but we also need to show them that they have heroes already in the field.

More information: Power in Numbers releases May 8. 
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Book review - Running on the Roof of the World

Title: Running on the Roof of the World
Author: Jess Butterworth
Genre: realistic fiction
Similar books: Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai
                      What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein

Summary (provided by publisher):  A story of adventure, survival, courage, and hope, set in the vivid Himalayan landscape of Tibet and India.
In this contemporary story, Tash lives in Tibet, where as a practicing Buddhist she must follow many rules to avoid the wrath of the occupying Chinese soldiers. Lately, things have been relatively peaceful, as long as Tash and her family hide their religion and don’t mention its leader, the Dalai Lama.
The quiet is ruptured when a man publicly sets himself on fire in protest. Soldiers break into Tash’s house and seize her parents. She narrowly escapes, and soon she and her best friend, Sam, along with two borrowed yaks, flee across the mountains, where they face blizzards, hunger, a treacherous landscape, and the threat of discovery and capture. It’s a long, dangerous trip to the Indian border and safety—and not every member of the group will survive.
This page-turning high adventure introduces young readers to a fascinating part of the world and the threat to its people’s religious freedom. Running on the Roof of the World will appeal to fans of such topical survival adventure stories as A Long Walk to Water and Never Fall Down.

My opinion: I know very little about Tibet. We don't learn much in school, not about the culture nor about the invasion. This book gives us a brief glance into indigenous culture, but that's all. We see the restrictions on behavior, speech, religion. We get events, not motivations or historical context. I could see using this as part of an educational unit but I'm not certain it stands well on it's own.

More information: Running on the Roof of the World releases May 1.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Custom skirt

With Spring finally, actually here, I feel the need for a change in wardrobe. For me, that means a trip to the thrift store. One of my recent thrift finds was this sundress.

I'm not really big on sundresses but I liked the weight and color and with the elastic in the waistline I knew it wouldn't be difficult to convert it to a skirt. It did have a small grease stain on the skirt but that was easily covered with some art.

Monday, April 16, 2018


I've got a couple of larger craft projects in the works but none of them are ready today. So, in the meantime, here's another page from my sketch book, the result of my brief obsession with the strange appearance of anglerfish.


Friday, April 13, 2018

Book review - The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

Title: The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
Author: Stacy McAnulty
Genre: realistic fiction
Similar books: Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee
                      OCDaniel by Wesley King

Summary (provided by publisher):  Middle school is the one problem Lucy Callahan can't solve in this middle-grade novel perfect for fans of The Fourteenth Goldfish, Rain Reign, and Counting by 7s.
Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn't remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she's technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test--middle school!
Lucy's grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that's not a math textbook!). Lucy's not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy's life has already been solved. Unless there's been a miscalculation?

My opinion: This book was a genuine joy to read. Such a delight, in fact, that a small part of me wished I could play hooky from work so I could finish reading it. Is it a bit predictable? Perhaps, but no more so than any other middle grade novel. And Lucy is such a strong character that this is worth reading just for her emotional journey. It is pleasant to enter her world, to see her change and grow, to see possibilityg and hurt and friendship develop. And I appreciated the open ending. The point isn't that her future is all planned out but that she's open to new ideas. I'd easily recommend this to most middle grade readers.

More Information: The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl releases May 1.
Advanced Reader Copy provide by NetGalley.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Books on screen

I Am Number Four

For the most part, the events of this movie mirror the book fairly well. We see much of the same progression of hiding to confrontation. The big difference comes with characters. While their names and relationships are largely the same, their essential beings are different. John and Henri don't have the friend/father relationship we see in the book. There's more rebellion, more antagonism. John's classmates are vastly different in character than we see in the book. Not worse, necessarily, just different.

The big question is, which version is better? To be honest, neither version is amazing. The book gives us more context for the conflict between the Loriens and the Mogadorians, more detail of Lorien culture and hints about future events. The movie, on the other hand, moves a few events around and actually provides a more logical structure for events. Both have their merits.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Book review - Chasing Helicity

Title: Chasing Helicity
Author: Ginger Zee
Genre: realistic fiction
Similar books: Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
                      Hideout by Watt Key
a little frustrating
Summary (provided by publisher): Helicity is well aware that her name is unusual - kind of like Helicity herself. The word Helicity means to spin, and for as long as she can remember, Helicity has been fascinated by the weather. The weather is Helicity's escape from her own reality - may that be school, her father's strict discipline, or her brother's imminent departure for college where he's all set to play football.
One fateful day, Helicity and her horse head out on a long ride to take a break from life at home. Even with her vast experience with weather, Helicity is unprepared for the elements she faces. The choices Helicity makes before, during, and after that storm will have a lasting effect on her family and her future.

My opinion: I have a couple of persistent complaints about this book. 
1) There's not much detail. We get brief overviews of events and then they're almost brushed aside. The town is devastated by a tornado. We get a few scenes of the aftereffects and then everyone moves on. 
2) Helicity is refered to as being from "West Michigan" rather than a specific town. Normally, I'm okay with this sort of vagueness but then we're told about her trip to Muskegon to ride the ferry. It is frustrating to get specificity in a minor detail but vagueness in the primary setting.
3)The plot is sort of arbitrary and cuts off suddenly. While this is clearly meant to leave events open for sequels, no part of the plot is resolved at the end of this book. Additionally, some of the over-arcing elements are obvious.

More information: Chasing Helicity releases April 24.
Advanced Reader Copy provided by NetGalley