Category Archives: Book Review


One of our favorite things to do is a family (and probably yours too) , is to go to the library. It may not be the best parenting, but I can get my kids to do almost anything if they know that we will be going to the library. It’s just one of those simple […]

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Katie Carleski - March 8, 2013 - 9:07 pm

Oh this post is lovely! Reminds me of my boys. Some of our favourites right now are the, ‘Mysterious Benedict Society,’ and, ‘Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place,’ books. My second oldest loves the, ‘Nate the Great,’ books and remarked that, “even though they are WAY too easy for me now Mom, I still just love them.”

Story book wise, we have always been a fan of the, ‘Click, Clack, Moo,’ series and things by Sandra Boyton. All of my kids find the, ‘Bad Kitty,’ books hilarious too, which is great because the older ones will take them, and climb up into the tree house with the younger ones and read them out loud. Then I can hear all this little laughter pouring out of the tree house and my heart is happy because I know my boys are bonding over something that is super important in my life–books.

Katrina - March 9, 2013 - 8:20 am

Mo Willems is a complete genius. Everything he writes makes my kids laugh. I also love the books by Cynthia Rylant. I think the kids prefer “Henry and Mudge”, but her “Mr Putter and Tabby” books are my favorite. Lizzy thinks Peter Brown is funny, but I have only read one or two. (She read one in preschool, and demanded that we go get it at the library.)I also like Pat Hutchins, and Berkley Breathed. And if you haven’t read “Ballet Kitty” you should.Oh, and the kids love the Magic School Bus books, which take FOREVER to read out loud.

Kara - March 10, 2013 - 11:49 am

Thanks for the recs. I will for sure try the Nate the Great books with Gabe. Books for sure create so much bonding between parent/child and siblings.
Yes, when I heard that Mo Willems was a writer for Sesame Street, it all made sense of why his books are so funny. We haven’t read “Mr Putter and Tabby”, but we will check some out next time. We will also check out Ballet Kitty. Thanks!

adrienne w - March 11, 2013 - 2:09 pm

We love the library! It is one of the few places I will actually venture out to by myself with all five kids. It’s just worth it! Macartney got the Mercy Watson books for Christmas and they were a perfect beginner chapter book series. They really built her confidence and when she finished she just wanted to keep going. She really enjoys the Ivy and Bean series. I prefer them to Junie B. Jones. Still mischievous, but not as bratty.
My kids are very into non-fiction books, which is good and bad. It’s good because it makes me happy that they want to learn all about the world around them. But I really don’t enjoy reading books about deadly insects or mummification as bedtime stories! I’ve had to limit the number of non-fiction books they get because they can be hard to get through.
I will definitely have to check out the Zen Shorts book. I’ve seen it on the shelves, but we’ve never got it, for some reason. I think you’ve inspired me to take the kids to the library today after school! Wish me luck! ;)

The Poisonwood Bible

It is hard to find time to read a lot at this stage in my life, but I think that I am getting back into a reading groove. I just finished reading “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver, and this is the longest book I have read in a long time. I must also add […]

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Carrie - February 18, 2013 - 8:46 am

I read this book a few years ago with my Book Club and loved it, too. It’s certainly a very powerful book – about poverty, exploitation, and religion. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for new reading material!

adrienne w - February 19, 2013 - 10:09 am

SO I read this years ago for book club and though I LOVED parts of it and her writing, it was really hard for me to finish. It left me very dissatisfied. BUT a couple of her other books, The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven were some of my favourites, so I was glad that I read it so I could find the others. Kara, you need to get on Good Reads so we can share more book suggestions!

kara - February 19, 2013 - 10:37 am

Adrienne, I agree. I loved parts of it and her writing, but I thought that it would be more of a page turner than it was. It took me a long time to read the whole thing. It definitely isn’t among my very very favorites, but I did really like it a lot. I read The Bean Trees, and I have Pigs in Heaven and will start it soon. Maybe instead of joining good reads, I will just ask your for good books to read since you know me well and know the kinds of books that I like!

Sarabeth - February 19, 2013 - 5:03 pm

I am usually pretty good about pressing on if books don’t “hook” me right away, but I have now started this book twice….and both times only got a little ways in before I quit. Maybe one day I’ll finish it?

kara - February 19, 2013 - 8:46 pm

Yes Sarabeth, it was not super good at grabbing my attention. Any good books you have read lately that did? I have a couple of books waiting to be read, but I’d love to know what books you have liked lately.

adrienne w - February 20, 2013 - 12:03 pm

Let me know when you want suggestions. I’m full of them! ;) Did you ever read Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill? (It’s actually called The Book of Negroes in Canada.) I’m sure I’ve suggested it to you before. It is my favourite of all time. Amazing. I think you’d like it. I wish I was in a book club with you!

Simplicity Parenting

  These two have a special bond. They don’t always get along perfectly, but for the most part, they play well together and love being in the others’ company. I hope they are always close. If you have talked to me fairly recently, there is a good chance that I have brought up the book […]

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adrienne w - April 2, 2012 - 9:29 am

Oooooh, sounds good. I agree that it makes me feel good about some of the things I’m doing that I feel outside pressure about. Like scheduling things. My kids are not in any extra-curricular activities at this point. That is for financial reasons, but in the future, we plan to keep it to a minimum. Something like one physical activity/sport and one music lesson. Even that will make things hectic, I’m sure. I will have to check this book out!

kara - April 2, 2012 - 7:36 pm

Oh Adrienne,
I always love your comments. I think you are one of the few readers left of my blog since I am MIA from facebook, and I love our little blog conversations. Thanks for you support and effort to keep in touch, and let me know what you think about the book!!

Shawnde - April 2, 2012 - 9:46 pm

I completely agree about this book. I took the class with Alice & Jessica last Fall and watched our family calm down in the process. I remember one afternoon of coming home and pulling apart Eddie’s room, removing half the toys and organizing what was left. The change in him was dramatic and instant. But we can’t seem to sustain it! It seems like a constant battle to stay simple!
I highly recommend the local class as well as the book.
Thanks for posting about this, Kara!

Adrienne W - April 3, 2012 - 10:16 pm

I have a follow up question: How do you keep the kids occupied when they want to play computer or watch TV? I use technology time to get things done, but sometimes it’s too much. So what do you do to help engage the kids in something? That sounds bad, but obviously with 4 kids I’m often looking for ways to keep them occupied. Any suggestions?

Rachel - April 5, 2012 - 10:41 pm

I’m still here! Keep posting! I’ve been feeling pressure (that I put on myself) when I see friends who have their kids involved in lessons, classes, and activities. Seamus doesn’t do much. But, I need to remind myself that I didn’t do anything as a preschooler except be a preschooler. In fact, I didn’t even go to preschool. I turned out okay. I’m sure he will, too. I do have to disagree about books, though. I don’t think kids can ever have too many books. It’s the only thing that I buy without guilt.

Kara - April 6, 2012 - 9:18 pm

The nice thing now is that they have stopped asking (just in the last week). They have a Movie night on Friday, so they will talk during the week about which movie they want to watch, but I can’t believe that they are hardly asking at all anymore. A few more thoughts:
*You live in a much colder climate, and that makes things trickier. It is mild enough here that we can get outside pretty often during the winter. You are probably in need of more things to do indoors with your kiddos.
*LIke I said before, the longer my kids go without tv, the more creative they get together.
*This is random, but one thing that made making the decrease easier is that I have a crazy one year old who has to be watched anyways and wouldn’t watch tv even if I showed it to her. I figure if the most time consuming child doesn’t get tv, then it doesn’t really help that much if the other kids are watching tv when I am trying to get stuff done.
I hear that you are having a baby soon!! You are totally fine without Seamus in a bunch of activities. He is too busy counting with his mama at home :)
In regards to book Rachel, I was and partially am totally with you. I love children’ books. I have a ridiculous amount. The only difference now is that I have a lot of them in my garage. I mentioned that I still have way more in my house than the author would approve of :), but I scaled back as much as far as I could go. The cool thing now is that my kids can take an inside book and trade it for a garage book. They love going to the garage to pick out a new book. The idea behind not having as many books inside is that kids will actually focus on and enjoy the books that they do have more if they don’t have too many choices. When I was going through books with my kids to decide which ones to put in the garage, they said things like “Oh, here’s that book, we haven’t seen that book in a long time. I love it. Mommy, will you read it.” We have so many books, that they couldn’t even find their favorites, because there were too many.
Keep me up to date with baby news Rachel!!

Don and Audrey Wood

I love children’s literature. There are many things I really struggle with as a parent, but going to the library and reading to my kids is one of my favorite parts of  being a parent. Really, there is nothing better than snuggling your little one while curled up to a good book. I am savoring […]

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Belinda - October 28, 2011 - 5:34 am

I loved reading to my girls. However, I would get sleepy while reading and start dozing off but Natalie would holler out “READ READ READ!”. That would wake me up. Her favorite book was “caps for sale”. We all loved “in the night kitchen”. I would read to Danielle from a big book of Fraggle Rock stories. Jose would take the girls to story time at the library. Isn’t that cute? He was the only dad there. Too funny. I didn’t care for dr. Seuss. Too many crazy repetitive words. Really like Laura Numeroff and her if you give a mouse a cookie series. Can’t wait to have grandkids to read to. I might be to old to read to them by the time that happens.

Summer - October 28, 2011 - 5:50 am

Have you read Piggies by them? We love that one, the illustrations are amazing!

Mem Fox is one of my favorite authors. Hers aren’t totally silly, but they are sweet stories with sweet pictures.

I’m sure you’ve read the If You Give…(a mouse a cookie, a pig a pancake, etc.) books – those are fun!

Love children’s books!

Katrina - October 28, 2011 - 9:27 am

I recently have decided that my dream career would be as a children’s librarian. I would love to specialize in children’s literature. We really like the Llama, Llama books by Anna Dewdney. Berkley Breathed is also a really fun author. Lizzy takes a giant Richard Scarry book to bed every night. Sandra Boynton has great board books… There are really a lot of great books out there. Also some rather annoying ones. Lizzy really likes Angelina Ballerina and Pinkalicious, but I find their title characters kind of bratty.

Wendy M. - October 28, 2011 - 4:27 pm

We love Mo Willems in our house…the Piggie and Elephant books, as well as the Pigeon stories and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. Richard and Patricia Scarry books are fun because they are from my childhood (I love River Bend by Patricia in particular). The kids still enjoy a Boynton book now and then (even though they are a little old for them…)
I know I’m probably in the minority, but I really do like Dr. Seuss books!
I could go on and on…we have a crazy amount of kid’s books (considering we only have two kids!) It’s fun to hear what everyone else enjoys…

Robyn - October 28, 2011 - 8:40 pm

Silly Sally went to town, walking backwards upside down!

Robyn - October 28, 2011 - 8:41 pm

P.s – Do you know about the Francis books? Bedtime for Francis, Bread and Jam for Francis, etc. We love those.

adrienne w - October 28, 2011 - 10:54 pm

We enjoy the Woods books. I agree with Summer- Piggies is a good one. And Vienna loves their Piggy Pie Po book, but I’m not totally sure why. We also love Llama Llama Red Pajama. I always love Dr. Seuss and Bill Peet books, because they were some of my childhood favourites, but as a parent I kind of dread them at bedtime because they are sooooo long. Still love them though. Right now we like the Fancy Nancy books. They teach great vocabulary and the pictures are so cute. (Even Thatcher likes them.) The kids are very into non-fiction which is great. We are book gluttons at our house!

Wendy M. - October 29, 2011 - 8:56 am

Oh, also Harry the Dirty Dog books. I was excited to see they were being promoted this summer…they must be back in print. It was crazy trying to track down that collection when Brenden was a baby!

Kim - October 29, 2011 - 12:25 pm

We received a copy of Mouse Paint by Ellen Walsh Stoll as a shower gift (from an art teacher friend) before our daughter was born. Great for learning primary colors and mixing primary colors to get secondary colors. I recently discovered several more at the library – one with shapes, one with colors and shapes that look like the shapes are moving, and then there is the whole Dot and Jabber series. Even though my daughter is three, we still go back to those books over and over again. (Plus, the giant lap board book copy of Mouse Paint is a GREAT prop for photographing little kids!!)

Kara - October 29, 2011 - 3:16 pm

I love the idea of Jose at storytime with the girls. That is great. You will be a great Grandma someday!
I haven’t read “piggies”, but I’ve seen it, so I will get that one next time. Love the Laura Numberoff. I have only read a couple of the Mem Fox books, so I will definitely check more of those out!
I would also love to be a librarian, but I really don’t want to get my masters in library science :(. I love love the Llama Llama books! Richard Scarry is great. My kids just love looking at the pictures by themselves. Yes, I agree about Angelina being kind of bratty, and sometimes those books have words like “dumb” and “stupid.” Aren’t they writing these for little kids??
I love the Pigeon books ,but I haven’t read any others by Mo Willems, so I am going to check them out. I like Dr. Seuss a lot, but my kids haven’t been as into them as me. I will keep trying :).
We have read “Bedtime for Francis” and the kids loved it, so I will get the other ones. Have you seen the “Francis” show?? It is so cute!
I haven’t read very many Bill Peet books,so I will check those out! Sofia loves Fancy Nancy.
Mouse paint is great!

Cookbook Review:The Barefoot Contessa

  I was introduced to Ina Garten “The Barefoot Contessa” several years ago by my mom and sister, and her recipes are the best. Her recipes are for the most part pretty simple, and many of the ingredients are staples that a well stocked kitchen would already have. I have seriously never made one recipe […]

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EmmaJ - June 2, 2011 - 4:37 am

I love her. I wish I was her (especially living in that house and having that kitchen!!!) My daughter loves to watch her. I have a few of her cookbooks, and I love the cruchy breakfast granola recipe (I eat it with fresh berries and Greek yogurt) and her California pizza dough.

Carrie - June 2, 2011 - 9:02 am

I love this cookbook also! Have you tried the cheddar dill scones? Yummy! Also, the oatmeal maple scones are terrific!

kara - June 2, 2011 - 10:39 am

I am going to try the California pizza dough. I’ve been looking for a good pizza dough recipe! Emma, I would love to hear your favorite cookbooks since you are a chef!!
I’ve seen those recipes but never tried them… can’t wait.. I’ll let you know what I think!!

Margaret - June 2, 2011 - 8:53 pm

Oh I’m a Barefoot lover. I have two of her cookbooks, both different from the one you have and love all her recipes. And if I had cable I would watch her show.
She has a risotto that you bake in the oven and I try different variations on it and it is fool proof.
Also her chicken and biscuits, roast chicken and basically it all.

kara - June 2, 2011 - 9:39 pm

What books do you have one, and is there one you use more than the other?

Margaret - June 4, 2011 - 11:38 am

Well, my mom always would use recipes out of the family style barefoot contessa, which is wonderful. And I still use a bunch of those.
But I own the Back to Basics one and for Christmas got her newest one, How Easy Is That. Which I’m using a lot right now. I love it because it takes her recipes and simplifies them. So everything is still delicious just easier, quicker.

kara - June 5, 2011 - 11:25 pm

I think that I want the family style book. Maybe someday if we ever reunite we can have a barefoot contessa dinner party :).