Leslie's Journal Review

Leslie's Journal
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Playwright Allan Stratton's first novel for teens, LESLIE'S JOURNAL, is a cautionary tale about teenage love gone drastically wrong. It all starts with Leslie, an angry, confused, rebellious girl in need of validation. Her days in school are numbered, she has problems at home, and her behavior just may alienate the only friend she has. But just when things couldn't possibly get any worse, she meets Jason --- the totally handsome, totally cool new kid on campus. And when he suddenly kisses her in front of her friends, she's the envy of all her female classmates.
Jason asks Leslie out, and she's on cloud nine, agog with love. On their first date, he takes her to his parents' house instead of the movies and plies her with booze, something she hasn't had much experience with. But she has even less experience with what happens next. Jason follows up his act with apologies, smiles, and flowers; and Leslie is soon on a roller coaster ride through relationship hell with an abusive control freak at the helm.
When Jason isn't forcing himself upon Leslie, he is hitting and threatening her. And when she decides that she's finally had enough, he threatens to blackmail her and even begins stalking her. On top of that, things go from bad to worse when a substitute teacher actually reads the journal Leslie is keeping for her English class. The journals were supposed to be private, but the teacher didn't know. Out of concern, she brings the journal and Leslie's story to the attention of the principal, who doesn't believe one word of it --- she believes the wealthy, upright Jason, not the rebellious, attention-getting Leslie. When Jason gets wind of the latest turn of events, he threatens to kill Leslie.
With nowhere to turn, Leslie's world collapses and she turns to Katie, the only friend she has, sharing everything with her. Together they vow to bring Jason down --- if he doesn't get to Leslie first. She holes up in her apartment and hopes for a miracle, but when Jason's threats increase, she takes things into her own hands. Fast paced and suspenseful, bordering on nightmarish, LESLIE'S JOURNAL will have you on the edge of your seat, white-knuckled all the way.--- Reviewed by Tammy L. Currier

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The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement Review

The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement
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In this book, New York Times columnist David Brooks takes on the audacious endeavor of weaving together a unified picture of the human mind through various discoveries from the sciences. Oh ya, and it's all presented in the context of a story about two fictional characters, Harold and Erica.
You can get a good feel for the topics he covers from the chapter titles:
1 - Decision Making
2 - The Map Meld
3 - Mindsight
4 - Mapmaking
5 - Attachment
6 - Learning
7 - Norms
8 - Self-Control
9 - Culture
10 - Intelligence
11 - Choice Architecture
12 - Freedom and Commitment
13 - Limerence
14 - The Grand Narrative
15 - Metis
16 - The Insurgency
17 - Getting Older
18 - Morality
19 - The Leader
20 - The Soft Side
21 - The Other Education
22 - Meaning
If you think that's a lot of chapters, you're right on target. It's a pretty thick book at 450 pages, but it's easy to move through (not quite novel easy, but much more so than typical nonfiction).
Book's strengths:
- If you are familiar with Brook's social commentary (and like it) you won't be disappointed, but this isn't the real strength of this book.
- In a style that's reminiscent of Malcolm Gladwell, Brooks offers a pop view of experimental psychology that is downright fascinating. The studies he explores are the real meat and merit of this book, and they expose many fallacies in the way we think that we think. Here are a few of the topics:
* The hidden role emotions play in making decisions.
* How mirror neurons in the brain are wired to mimic the person we're talking to.
* The massive role non-cognitive skills (aka, other than IQ) play in success, fulfillment, and achievement.
Book's weaknesses:
- My biggest criticism of this book is that the author created characters to personify the characteristics he wants us to understand. Allow me to explain. This is fine in theory but in practice (for him anyway) it falls flat compared to the entertaining and poignant explanations he writes when he isn't trying to explain through a character.
- As for the story itself, the narrative isn't as flat as your typical non-fiction fiction book (aka management fables and parables of other stripes), but a juicy, page-turning novel it is not. You'll get into the story enough at times that you'll want it to be a page turner, but it's too flat for that.
- I wish the book would show you how to use non-cognitive skills to your advantage. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 is a great book for this.

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Cassandra's Angel Review

Cassandra's Angel
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Cassandra's Angel is the touching and inspiring story of a child who truly wants to please - as most children do - but is constantly being given the message that she just can't do anything right.
Cassandra is truly everything that a little girl should be: delightful, beautiful, inquisitive, creative, intelligent, and imaginative. However, Cassandra doesn't know that. She thinks of herself as a child who just can't do anything right, because the adults in her life (who are suppose to know these things) keep sending her that message by the way they speak to her.
When her room needed to be picked up, her mother said that Cassandra was a messy girl. Cassandra stored that message in her mind...she was a messy girl.
When her art teacher told her to paint a picture of a house and a tree with seven red flowers and one yellow bee, she started by painting a magnificent tree that took all the room - none was left for the bee. Her little painting took on a life of its own and colorful images began to flow onto the canvas, as she became lost in her own imagination. Instead of admiring the beauty, talent, and self- statement of Cassandra's painting, her teacher scolded her and said she was incorrigible. Cassandra stored that message in her mind...she was incorrigible.
As this story unfolds Cassandra finds comfort, and learns a special secret about herself, from an unexpected source - her very own Angel! A truly beautiful one too! One who comes complete with everything a little girl thinks of when she thinks of angels: lovely soft wings, a golden crown, and a brilliant wondrous light. And what was the secret? It was the truth - the truth of what Cassandra really was.
This beautifully illustrated book, and the lessons found within its pages, will affect change and inspire parents and children everywhere. Perhaps the next time you speak to your child, you will speak as if the very Angels were listening.
Reviewed by Ruth Wilson

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With its uplifting and heartwarming story, Cassandra's Angel brings an inspiring message of self-empowerment to children of all ages.

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Amazing Grace (Reading Rainbow Book) Review

Amazing Grace (Reading Rainbow Book)
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A child's imagination is one of the purest forms of expression. Author Hoffman has captured that innocence in this superb tale. Grace, like so many youngsters, spends much of her day in the pleasures of "acting out" the characters that populate the pages of the books she reads. She feels that she can do and be anything that she desires. The theme of pursuing one's dreams is the type of message to which all can relate.
As one turns the pages of this beautifully illustrated book, one can enjoy the little girl's imaginary adventures. When Grace learns of the part in "Peter Pan," the reader is able to identify with this as a part of school life. The illustrator has also balanced the classroom with children of varied ethnic and racial backgrounds. This is a plus in the age of being "politically correct."
The language of the book is reflective with the age of the intended reading audience. With a little adult help, the average primary child will "read" this one with great relish.
The resolve of the adults in the family to encourage Grace in pursuit of her dreams is refreshing. Most of us let barriers prevent us from doing the same.
This is one great children's book!

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Sonata #1: For Riley Red Review

Sonata #1: For Riley Red
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One great deed. One glorious contribution. Rachel finds herself in the whirlwind of her friend Desmona's search to save the world (and save herself). Written as if in the early sixties just before the Beatles came to America and just before protesting became a national pastime, the story takes you through Rachel's life as she tries to navigate her way from being a child to growing up. Although Rachel's mom keeps telling her that nothing good can come out of her hanging out with "those rich kids" whose parents don't care about them and let them run wild, she finds Rachel and her brother Riley comforting to be around.
Although the story starts out a little slow, it picks up. I give it 4.5 stars, but since Amazon doesn't do half stars, I rounded up for good measure. It is a book I'd give to my almost 8 year old daughter.
Budding activist will enjoy this one as well as girls who enjoyed books like Charlottes Web and From the Mixed up Files of Basil E Frankweiler.

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Teaspoon of Courage for Kids: A Little Book of Encouragement for Whenever You Need It Review

Teaspoon of Courage for Kids: A Little Book of Encouragement for Whenever You Need It
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I love these books and everyone that comes out for kids I buy at least two one for my own collection and one for whatever classroom my youngest is in. The pictures are great and the text that goes along with them are encouraging and humorous. I think every classroom needs a set of these books(3 so far). They seem to bring abstract ideas to a more concrete level in a fun and funny way.

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The world can be a scary place. But if you believe in yourself and carry with you just a teaspoon of courage, nothing will stand in your way." i-Bradley Trevor Greive, from A Teaspoon of Courage for Kids: A Little Book of Encouragement for Whenever You Need ItNew York Times best-selling author Bradley Trevor Greive pens the perfect pick-me-up for any child beleaguered by bullies, enfeebled by exams, or traumatized by toothaches.Aimed at timid tots who could use a little sugarcoated courage to face tough and intimidating times, A Teaspoon of Courage for Kids offers a humorously warm and courageously supportive story line for those days when your child would rather crawl back under the covers than face up to a bully or take that dreaded test. Captivating black-and-white animal photographs illustrate the book throughout and are the ideal accompaniment to Bradley Trevor Greive's emboldening narrative of practical tips for courageous living.

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The Dump Man's Treasures Review

The Dump Man's Treasures
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Award-winning children's book author Lynn Plourde presents The Dump Man's Treasures, a children's picturebook with a strong positive message about literacy. Mr. Pottle, who oversees the town dump, can't stand to see perfectly good books thrown away or destroyed. He reuses and recycles them for everyone to enjoy. When Mr. Pottle falls one day and suffers an injury, the community and especially the children come to his aid. When they bring books for him to read, they are shocked to discover that Mr. Pottle, who loves books so much, can't read! Together, the many townspeople who have shared Mr. Pottle's treasures teach him how to fully enjoy them for himself. A wonderful story about the joy of learning to read, featuring heartwarming and colorful artwork by award-winning illustrator Mary Beth Owens.

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Road Trip Guide to the Soul: A 9-Step Guide to Reaching Your Inner Self and Revolutionizing Your Life Review

Road Trip Guide to the Soul: A 9-Step Guide to Reaching Your Inner Self and Revolutionizing Your Life
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Sadie has the gift for teaching. Together with hard-earned, lived wisdom, her gift comes through on these pages, as it does in the yoga studio. Her lessons are specific, practical, and rooted in the teachings of ancient wisdom traditions. Using examples from her own life blended with the road trip metaphor, Sadie offers compelling, memorable, and empowering guidance. A key teaching that runs throughout is how self-reliance combines with generosity and compassion. She shows you how being intelligently and courageously generous with yourself benefits both you and others. Anyone who has taken a class with Sadie can see the integrity and discipline in her work. She brings these same qualities to this book. Her writing is both conversational and authoritative. You would be hard pressed to find a more engaging guide to life's rich journey. And you don't need to be a yogi to benefit from reading it. You only need to be alive with a commitment to living at full throttle!

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Yoga and mind-body expert Sadie Nardini shows readers how to attract their best life nowSadie Nardini is the founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, director of East/West Yoga in New York City, and one of the leading yoga teachers in the United States. With her powerful techniques and dynamic personality, she's helped thousands of people transform their lives. Now, she takes readers on an inner road trip to the soul. Her new nine-step program helps people rev up their lives and make positive changes in health, relationships, finances, and career while learning to lose unnecessary baggage, fall in love with themselves, turn no into yes, and much more. Drawing from the best of Eastern wisdom and Western science, Nardini shows contemporary readers how to easily overcome roadblocks that get in the way of reaching desired goals while enjoying the adventure of truly living life along the way.

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Betsy B. Little Review

Betsy B. Little
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Betsy B. Little is the tale of a tall giraffe who simply doesn't fit in. But rather than wish she were different, she learns to dream bigger --what a wonderful lesson for children in this world of conformity, cliques, "mean girls," and bullies!
Through delightful language and beautiful illustration, this book celebrates individuality, resilience, perserverance, and creativity. I can't imagine a child who won't take this book to heart and carry its lesson into adulthood.

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Short: Walking Tall When You're Not Tall At All Review

Short: Walking Tall When You're Not Tall At All
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This highly readable and deeply moving book isn't just for short kids -- it's perfect for any young readers who've ever been ostracized because they're built differently. (For that matter, it's perfect for the ostracizers too.) Schwartz is a former science reporter for The New York Times (he also trained as a lawyer and recently became the paper's national legal correspondent; so much for any easy myths about stature and achievement) and his sections on the science of shortness are particularly good reading. His clear, brisk explanation of the statistical analysis behind marketing to short people is worth the price of admission all by itself. As good as the science stuff is, though, this is at its heart a book with a humane message: Anybody who tries to make you feel bad because you're different doesn't have science, logic or history on his side.

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Crisantemo Review

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This is a great book to start off the school year. The childrenwill enjoy this wonderful story of a little mouse who loves her nameuntil she begins school and is made fun of for it. It is a great way to start discussions on diversity in the classroom, how to treat people equally and nicely, and except everyone and anyone for who they are.

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Apple Batter Review

Apple Batter
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I love this book for the 5 to 8 year old child. There's a little bit of lots of things in it. It is a sweet story of perseverance with very appealing illustrations. Besides demonstrating the idea that sticking with something (growing apples, playing baseball or whatever) leads to success, there is a nice seasonal component to the story. There are some terrific illustrations of insects and even specific directions for hitting the ball with the bat (which my students enjoyed trying out). There is also a simple recipe for Apple Crisp that my second graders enjoyed making. This book would make a reat addition to any primary classroom.

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Blue the Bird, On Flying Review

Blue the Bird, On Flying
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My Review: Blue is a bird that didn't want to fly. Blue will fly on the backs of his friends. When they could no longer carry Blue because it wasn't fun they left Blue and flew with other friends who can fly. Want to know if Blue ever flew then buy the book.
I love this book because not only is it educational, it teaches children about shapes and colors. It also will help children to overcome their fear, the importance of being independent and self-esteem. Every child will enjoy reading this book because of its bold text and colors. I highly recommend this book for classroom teaching.FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion in any way.

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Emerson's Essays on Manners, Self-Reliance, Compensation, Nature, Friendship Review

Emerson's Essays on Manners, Self-Reliance, Compensation, Nature, Friendship
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This collection has five Ralph Waldo Emerson essays: "Self-Reliance," "Manners," "Compensation," "Nature," and "Friendship." They were published a few years apart but have little intrinsic connection; the combination seems random. However, "Self" is an essential masterpiece, and the others are high quality. Anyone wanting a sampler could do worse, but the essays are widely available in far more comprehensive compilations, and this is hard to justify unless one sees it for a good price.
"Self" is Emerson's most famous essay and is rivaled only by "Concord Hymn" as his most famous work. It is also his masterpiece; one often hears - sometimes disparagingly - that Emerson tried to fit his whole philosophy into each essay, and this comes remarkably close. There is far more depth and subtlety here than the length suggests; one would be very hard-pressed to find another work so densely packed. The words are few, but the implications are enough for a lifetime. "Self" is a seminal masterwork; a founding Transcendentalist text and American Romantic cornerstone, it is central to American thought, culture, and literature. Anyone even remotely interested in any Americana aspect must be intimately familiar with it; aside from the Declaration of Independence and Constitution themselves, perhaps no other document is so vital to the American spirit.
Reading "Self" is perhaps more necessary than ever - not only because it is eternally relevant but also because it is often misrepresented. The term "self-reliance" is now almost entirely political, almost synonymous with libertarianism, and the essay is frequently touted along such lines. However, these things are hardly more than implied here, and though the definition of "liberal" has greatly changed, it is important to remember that Emerson was one of his era's leading liberals. His prime meaning in any case is self-reliance intellectually and in everyday life. He urges us to trust ourselves, to recognize human divinity and avoid imitation. It is a simple message but all-important - and far easier said than done. Emerson explores all its ramifications - philosophical, practical, social, political, economic, etc. - and outlines all its benefits. The case is beyond convincing, but he can do no more than show us; the rest is up to us.
This profoundly individualist message is another reason that reading "Self" is so necessary. Emerson now unfortunately has a reputation for being somewhat impenetrable and/or hopelessly impractical; this is a true shame, because he wrote for the masses. Unlike nearly all philosophers, he does not rely on jargon or polysyllables; he truly wanted to be understood, and all it takes is will. We must open our minds to him, and once we have, they will never be closed again.
Though greatly revered with many and diverse followers, Emerson's intention was not to be loved but to inspire; he wanted all to find individual genius. His work is thus the truest and best kind of self-help manual, and "Self" is its apotheosis. It has inspired millions in the more than century and a half of its existence, including me. I have read thousands and thousands of works, but this is one of the handful that truly changed my life. Emerson's greatness always shines through, but reading him at the right time can make an astonishing difference. He was more popular in life with the young than the old, and I can easily see why. I was lucky to read him at just the right time, and "Self" spoke to me more powerfully than almost anything else ever has. Without hyperbole, I can say that I would not be doing what I am today and would have abandoned my goals and visions without reading "Self" and Thoreau's "Life without Principle" - a somewhat similar essay highly influenced by Emerson - when I did. I was wracked with self-doubt and getting nothing but indifference, bafflement, or hostility from others; these works gave just the kick I needed, and I will never look back. "Self" has the potential to be life-changing as almost nothing else does, and I highly recommend it to all; you can hardly be unaffected and may never be the same. However, I especially recommend it to the young; its importance to them - and Emerson's generally - simply cannot be overemphasized.
Emerson is a signature American stylist, and "Self" is near his height. His writing is always memorable and often highly lyrical - about as close to poetry as prose can be. However, his essays were almost always painstakingly composed from lectures and journals, and the effect was sometimes choppy. An Emerson-loving professor of mine once joked that no one can find the topic sentence in an Emerson paragraph, and his transitions also frequently leave much to be desired. However, "Self" is near-seamless, a true masterpiece of style that flows smoothly and often waxes beautiful. This is all the more remarkable in that it was assembled even more than usual from disparate sources; entries that ended up here came as far as eight years apart, but the whole is admirably harmonious.
"Self" is a preeminent example of how Emerson delights in paradox. Anyone who reads him closely sees that he is as complex as he is simple. Thus, despite - or perhaps even because of - apparent straight-forwardness, few texts are more ripe for deconstruction. "Self" fans after all love a text that tells us not to love texts, are inspired by a man who tells us not to be inspired by men, and are convinced by a text and man both of which tell us not to be convinced by either. But this is only the beginning. "Self" works because it tells us exactly what we want to hear and, in striking contrast to innumerable self-help books, does so in an intellectually and even aesthetically respectable way. This is fine for me and (hopefully) you but could of course be taken to heart by Hitler as easily as Gandhi. The thoroughly optimistic, mild-mannered, and physically frail Emerson may not have foreseen his revolutionary text being put to nefarious use and probably would have been unable to believe in even the possibility. However, the danger, if we choose to call it so, is very real. "Self" could easily have had the same effect that Nietzsche had on Nazis, and that it has not been taken up by anarchists, radical terrorists, and the like is perhaps mere luck. One at least wonders how it avoided preceding The Catcher in the Rye as the work synonymous with unsavory people. That said, it is likely unfair to Emerson to say he did not anticipate this; he after all takes his views to the logical conclusion. He surely saw it, and it may have given pause, but he persevered because he was faithful to his intuition just as he urges us to be to ours. He truly believed in self-reliance and was ready to stand by it no matter what befell - nay, thought it his only choice. His optimism must have told him that the doctrine would not be abused, and he has been right - so far. Only time will tell if this continues to hold, but "Self" remains essential for all.
Though far less great and universal, "Manners" is one of Emerson's more historically interesting essays. It is essential to recall that his era perhaps emphasized manners more than any other in history; they had an importance of which we cannot even conceive. All had to deal with them regardless of personal views, but virtually all seemed to agree - or at least convinced others that they did. Thus, though it may initially seem somewhat surprising in light of Emerson's trademark liberalism and originality that he (begrudgingly) accepts some conventions, the small extent to which he did so is truly remarkable. The essay goes a little into various manners' pros and cons, but the core points are elsewhere. The first is that manners are relative; Emerson begins with some striking anthropological examples of this all-important fact and otherwise drives it home. An extension of his core self-reliance doctrine, the second is that the great make their own manners - and make others respect them. "Manners" is one of Emerson's least transcendental works - in any sense -, but comparing and contrasting its message to today's society and competing views can be instructive, and it is a valuable timepiece.
"Friendship" is also very good - one of Emerson's most affecting and thought-provoking works. His view of the ubiquitous subject is unsurprisingly original and engaging. He believes that friendship can exist only with real equality and sees it as a sort of springboard to something higher. His demands are great, and the work is eye-opening in the sense that almost no one has a friend by his definition. Like his best work, "Friendship" can easily make us question beliefs and preconceptions - and perhaps even make us better friends.
"Compensation" is one of Emerson's most representative essays. The staunch optimism so essential to his thought was perhaps never shown so clearly or thoroughly elsewhere. Emerson begins by saying he had wanted to write about compensation since he was a boy, and it shows in his enthusiasm. He works himself up almost to a rhapsody, giving example after example in clear, beautiful prose that remarkably never becomes dull and is often near-lyrical. The essay details Emerson's belief that everything balances out, even if we cannot see it, and that good and evil have their own earthly rewards despite appearances. He may not convince cynics, but his argument is certainly compelling, and his critiques of conventional Christianity and other traditions are very intriguing.
"Nature" has many of Emerson's key concepts: nature's all-encompassing beauty and force, our place in regard to it, art's role, and of course deduction of God from nature. Some speculations are more philosophical, historical, or critical, but all lead to these basic points, which are Transcendentalism's cornerstones. Emerson's characteristically optimistic thought is here in full, as is his signature poetic prose.
These essays are essential for anyone interested in Emerson, whether read here or elsewhere.

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This is a pre-1923 historical reproduction that was curated for quality. Quality assurance was conducted on each of these books in an attempt to remove books with imperfections introduced by the digitization process. Though we have made best efforts - the books may have occasional errors that do not impede the reading experience. We believe this work is culturally important and have elected to bring the book back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide.

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Four Hens and a Rooster Review

Four Hens and a Rooster
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We own ALL the Boo and Baa books, ALL the Will books, ALL the Benny books, plus a few more as well such as this one. This story certainly is not comprehensible to a nearly five-year old, and I don't like it at all myself. But the drawings are terrific as usual.
We don't mind the woman's liberation theme, but the story is just too complicated and "adult", it seems. Too bad, since my little one's babicka in Czech Republic actually has a henyard herself, and two roosters.....(hen = slepice in Czech..)

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Finklehopper Frog Cheers Review

Finklehopper Frog Cheers
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The way to win is just to face up to your fears, and do your very best. That's the message of this sequel to Irene Livingston's delightful Finklehopper Frog. The lively rhythms, endearing animal characters, child-friendly language and gorgeous full colour illustrations by Brian Lies should make this latest Finklehopper adventure an instant favourite with the read-aloud-to set.

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Palms to the Ground Review

Palms to the Ground
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Palms To The Ground is the sort of gem of a novel that will appeal to readers of all ages. I'm 34 and I loved it so much that I've bought copies for the young people in my life and also for my best friend.
Amy Stolls writes with clarity, empathy, and humor. Palms to The Ground makes me wish that she was writing when I was a kid!

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