The Best Books My Eight Year Old Read This Summer | Video Review

My kids basically read the entire public library this summer and they have a lot of feels about it that I thought you might enjoy. I made these video reviews starring my eight year old because her recaps are so cute they basically begged to be recorded. And then edited a tad to cut out some of the umms and uhhhs and staring blankly at the camera bits. And given a snazzy postorized effect because anything starring my daughter should probably more colorful than seems necessary.

BB fell in love with the world of graphic novels this summer so it is not very surprising that her two favorites are both from that section.

6389496Pigling is a graphic novel Cinderella story by Dan Jolley and Anne Timmons but it definitely stands on its own as a unique tale.

Pear Blossom, a young Korean girl, leads a happy life … until her mother dies and her father remarries. Her new wicked stepmother and stepsister make Pear Blossom the victim of their cruelty. But … one day, the girl meets a handsome magistrate. Will Pear Blossom’s luck change for the better? Or is she destined to suffer at her stepfamily’s hands forever?

This was just one of the incredible graphic novelized renditions of a classic tale that we found and devoured this summer. You can read my thoughts on a few more here.

Here are all of my daughter’s thoughts about Pigling:


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My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic by  Katie Cook and Andy Price stars those ponies that you are probably already a little familiar with. Just in case you are not well versed in all things My Little Pony though…

Welcome to Ponyville, home of Twilight Sparkle, Rainbow Dash, Rarity, Fluttershy, Pinkie Pie, Applejack, and all your other favorite Ponies! Something’s not right in the town though, as some of the inhabitants are acting very, very strange! It’s up to the Mane Six to find the source of the weirdness before it’s too late!

And if your darling enjoys this one, don’t worry as there are many more books that follow it.

Here’s what my eight year old has to say about this one:


What books are your kids reading right now?

What book should my daughter read next?

5 Science Experiments and Videos to share with your kids!

My kids are officially on summer vacation and to prevent screen time overload brain mushiness, I nerded my heart out last month and concocted a summer plan of learning. It’s more of an outline than an actual concrete plan. Because each day and week of our summer will look different than the one before, I simply came up with a list of themes that will shape each week.

To decide on the themes that would most interest the kids, I had them write down things they wanted to learn more about on the whiteboard in our dining room. I noticed a lot of countries and landmarks written down with a few other topics like science experiments and astronomy. So the majority of our weeks will revolve around the wanderlust my kids seemed to inherit from me but THIS week we are learning about SCIENCE.

What does that actually mean? Well first I went to Pinterest and rounded up a handful of science experiments that I can do with the kids that are basically free and not so messy or complicated that it will end with me crying into a pile of paper towels. Things like:

mixing oil and water, making gummy worms dance, the disappearing egg shell, turning milk into plastic and making a fidget spinner using cardboard and pennies

Next I went to youtube and searched for videos of cool science experiments, creating my own playlist so that I could easily keep all my good finds organized. You can find my entire playlist here. Some of my kids’ favorites were:

My seven year old is officially hooked on the SciShow Kids video series. This video about cleaning a penny with things like ketchup or soda fascinated her.

Incredible Science is a good bet for older kids. We watched several of his videos and they have the shock and awe factor down and plenty of cool things to learn, too. My kids were particularly impressed with the shaving cream / food coloring rainstorm in a bottle.

I love the SloMo Guys – gorgeous videos that will appeal to fans of science, fans of filmography or even just fans of things blowing up in slow motion i.e. all of us. Watching a CD shatter at 170,000FPS was enjoyed by all.

So we love watching things spin and explode and since we have two young kids in the house we know all about the fidget spinner craze. What could be more cathartic than watching fidget spinners explode? This was a fun video although we had a tough time understanding their awesome accents sometimes, the video speaks for itself.

Maybe you’ve already seen this awesome video of Station Commander Chris Hadfield sharing science in space. If you haven’t, it’s definitely worth a watch. Hadfield is a pretty awesome guy and his videos are always amusing. Plus now we get to combine science and space in one video! Extra credit, right?

So how else will we round out our week of science fun? Well we’re looking for science books, tv shows and movies when we indulge in some R&R and just generally being inquisitive as we go about our days. I think you’ll find that anytime you spend a good amount of time thinking about any topic, you will find that it pops up everywhere you go.

Any other favorite science videos or experiments that we should add to our list?

Weekly Geekly: 03.11.16

I’ve got a veritable stock pile of amazing things I’ve seen online that need to be shared with you so buckle your seat belts.

Did you see the new Ghostbusters trailer yet? I’m personally super excited but apparently a lot of people are upset particularly about Leslie Jones’s character in the movie. Probably the same people who were upset about the Starbucks cups. And while I understand their critique, I also think people just need something to hate on and Donald Trump must have been quiet that day.

Also: GeekMom shared a list of 5 movies that should get the Ghostbusters treatment. What would be on your list?

There’s a new kids RPG called Book Fair that is making the book nerd in me squeal with delight because I totally want to play. I mean I totally want my kids to play. Yeah. It does sound a little intricate to plan out but I think it would be awesome for a group activity for a classroom or summer camp or when your kids are bored and you’ve run out of Gilmore Girls episodes to marathon.

Do you think they should have just let Top Gear die with dignity or are you cautiously optimistic about BBC’s new cast / the original team’s new show on Amazon? I’m torn.

Ready to flex your word nerd muscles? There’s a great roundup at Real Simple of 11 weird words you’ve never known how to make plural (but probably have strong opinions about).

Geek and Sundry recently shared this infographic that will tell you what your beard says about your D&D Alignment. I’m pretty sure this makes my husband Chaotic Neutral which sounds about right.

Have you already seen Doctor Puppet? My son and I just watched all the episodes on You Tube and were kind of despondent when we realized we’d finished all the ones currently released. Watch it slower if you haven’t already. Speaking of The Doctor: What are your thoughts on these suggestions for the thirteen Doctor? We obviously need to start planning now while there are likely / hopefully years to decide.

Now that Downton Abbey is officially over ::sobs:: we can all attempt to recover from the pain by curating lists about the show like The Lazy Genius’s list of The Best Boyfriends of Downton. At first I was outraged that Matthew wasn’t number one – until I saw her pick for number one and was like – nope, you are definitely right. Never mind, carry on.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this dramatic reading from Morgan Freeman:

 

 

 

5 Books for the Reluctant Tween Reader

My friend asked me a few weeks ago for book suggestions for her tween niece – her  words were “something that isn’t Divergent” which is apparently the only book that exists in this girl’s world and I know she isn’t alone even though ::shudders:: it’s one of my least favorite YA dystopian novels. I thought I’d share the books I suggested here and open the floor to you guys – what books would you suggest for a tween who doesn’t read much?

Suggestion #1 : The Dystopian Series

book one of the Lunar ChroniclesIt’s probably not surprising to you guys that my first suggestion was The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer since I can’t go more than twelve minutes without mentioning it to someone. I might have impulsively half shrieked it to her immediately and then, embarrassed, pretended my shoes were fascinating.

But the truth is, this series would be high on my list of suggestions for tweens, teens or adults and I think it’s perfect for the reluctant reader because it’s so effortlessly readable and highly prone to binging. You will devour this world once you enter it. And it was an obvious suggestion for a girl who loved Divergent. This is a similar genre but a thousand times better.

I love that all the main characters are the kind of girls you want your girls to emulate. They are not vapid self centered tweetie girls with nothing on their mind but shoes. They are mechanics and hackers and girls who know how to work hard and yes they are boy crazy like woah but they mostly try to keep those feelings in check and mostly they are just about “Do you think he likes me?” and “I bet he’d be fun to kiss,” and not much more. And if they like the first book, there are a half dozen more and short stories to keep them reading.

If they like The Lunar Chronicles, they should also check out: The Uglies trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, The Selection by Kiera Cass, and A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

Suggestion #2 : The Sweet Love Story

15749186I was hooked on To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han from pretty much the first page. This one is for the boy crazy niece or the painfully shy girl. The one who eats up romantic comedies like it’s her job. And even though it’s cliched, it also feels fresh. And even though the main character is boy crazy, she’s also wonderfully naive and innocent. So you probably won’t get in trouble with your sister for suggesting it.

One of my favorite things about this book, aside from the sweet romances, was the very strong family dynamic – Lara Jean is really close with her father and sisters and it shows. Also – the food – I don’t know many teenagers who cook as often as Lara Jean and have such a sophisticated palate. I would not mind my daughter picking up said traits.

If they like To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, they should also check out: the sequel or any of Han’s other books, anything by Jennifer E. Smith or Judy Blume, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Suggestion #3 : The Series About a Group of Friends

517y761mL0L._SX335_BO1,204,203,200_I’m impatiently waiting for the day I can hand over The Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick to my daughter. These are kind of the Babysitters Club or Sweet Valley High of the current generation – centered around a group of friends who each have their unique personality type, talents and family issues to deal with – the girls are in sixth grade when the stories start and progress through middle school.

This one is also a great read for the moms of daughters. It’s cool from a mom perspective to see the girls grow and change with each book. And you’ll want your daughters to be like these girls – I’m not saying they never get into trouble but they always mean well – you know? Also the book club mentioned in the title? The girls and their moms start a club to read one classic novel a year with each other and discuss it. At first there are eye rolls galore but the girls all grow to love the club and they READ the books and that often leads to reading other books and the author does a great job at making whatever book they are reading set the tone for the book.

If they like The Mother Daughter Book Club series, they should also check out: The Babysitters Club obviously (check out the new graphic novel format), Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (splurge for a gorgeous edition), Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster (mentioned in one of the MDBC books ; free on kindle)

Suggestion #4 : The Book That’s Really Poetry

11527309This is one for the girl who just really doesn’t have the interest in reading a whole book – but happens to like poetry. May B. by Caroline Starr Rose is actually written in poetic form but it’s not stuffy about it like those awful epic poems you had to read in high school. Beautifully written, it’s also #allthefeels with a Little House on the Prairie vibe. And it’s a quick read so it’s not a huge time investment.

If they like May B., they should also check out: Little House in the Big Woods if they were all about that early pioneers vibe ; Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai if they want more poetry ; The Princess Diaries or I Capture the Castle if they are interested in the whole nonconvential book writing styles thing – these two are written like diaries, or you could call them epistolary novels if you want to give a vocab lesson.

Suggestion #5 : The Books That Aren’t Books At All aka Web Shows Based on Classic Novels

Yes, you can trick your tween or teen into experiencing Pride and Prejudice without picking up a book at all. I know, there are movies that are super, but this web show provides the experience in four minute increments, perfect for the short attention span – and it’s a modernized retelling – and it’s funny – and the cast is amazing – and watching Jane Austen retellings is an excellent way to get your kids obsessed with Jane Austen and often leads to them tripping and falling into the actual books. Studies have shown. Probably. If you are like dead set on this being a books only excursion, get the book based on the web show. But if they are super reluctant to even leave the safe confines of youtube, point them this way. And then watch with them. And prepare to laugh and swoon.

If they like the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, they should also check out: Anne With An E, Emma Approved, the actual Pride and Prejudice or movies that are also modern interpretations of classic novels like Clueless (Emma) or 10 Things I Hate About You (Taming of the Shrew).

OK: Your turn! What books would you suggest for the reluctant tween reader?

What I’m Into: February 2016

Happy Leap Day guys! I’m celebrating this rare day by ignoring responsibilities. Unless you count washing dishes and doing laundry and planning meals for the week and … okay, fine, it’s just Monday. But it’s also time to share What I’m Into Lately! I’m linking up with  Leigh Kramer to share what I’m into this month. Let me know if you are linking up, too!

What I’m Watching

I’ve kind of fallen down the rabbit hole that is binge watching Gilmore Girls like who really wants to watch anything else anyway? I am still only into season one but I’m all in and totally in nostalgia heaven and only sometimes whispering “kiss her! kiss her!” whenever Luke and Lorelai are in the same room. Do you guys realize we had to wait FIVE SEASONS in real time for this to happen? FIVE? What kind of monster is Amy Sherman-Palladino? In all seriousness though, that’s how it is supposed to be done. Shows that try to rush the magic end up paying for it later. *coughs* New Girl *coughs*.

I also checked out the first couple episodes of Fuller House and nostalgia wise I enjoyed the first episodes but we’ll see if the show stands up on its own. It’s super cheesy, but then I guess the original was also. The kids seem into it, so we’ll keep watching a little while longer.

We just finished watching season four of Game of Thrones this weekend and I’ve noticed that I’m a little too pleased now when some people die. When this show started I would wince and shriek and sob over any death and now I have a wish list like Arya Stark and I’m not sure what that says about me or the show.

Also still watching American Idol. Still loving Mackenzie, Dalton, Sonika and LaPorsha. Might have sobbed like a baby watching Kelly Clarkson sing Piece by Piece on Thursday. I was not alone. Keith Urban nearly lost it, too.

We also watched several movies this month – some were repeats for me and most were for the first time: Grease (the original and the new live one), Zoolander, Goosebumps, Pirates of the Caribbean, National Lampoon’s new Vacation movie, Neighbors, Pan, After the Ball and The Full Monty. Favorites of the bunch would probably be Zoolander, Pirates, Pan and The Full Monty (which features Rumpelstiltskin and Robert Baratheon back in the day btw).

What I’m Reading

I finished three books this month – two took the majority of the month to finish and one took the majority of an afternoon.

  1. 41VgvI2digL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_LOVED Winter by Marissa Meyer – Finished Feb. 23rd – This book was such an undertaking – each book in the series seems to get bigger as it goes and more characters are introduced. This book felt like the fireworks finale that it should be with #allthefeels all over the place. Every moment you were waiting for finally happens and Meyer only tries to break your heart eleventy billion times so it’s all good. I’ve already got Stars Above waiting for me to crack into.
  2. 9530LIKED Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson – Finished Feb. 24th – I wasn’t sure I would finish this one in time for the book club discussion, if at all, but I’m glad I stuck it out. Although many of the chapters felt excessively long at times and filled to the brim with information that might be fascinating for some people (not me), there were a lot of golden nuggets inside. The story this book tells is incredible especially because it’s a true story – and the people within the book have a lot to say. Lots of life lessons to be learned and everything you ever wanted to know about deep sea diving, shipwrecks and U Boats.
  3. 16000983REALLY LIKED Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures by Amber Dusick – Finished Feb. 27th – I’m a fan of Amber’s blog and this book was like a sweetened condensed version of that. My only complaints would be that some of the stories felt abruptly cut short and the book itself seemed to end so soon! I want more!

Now I seem to be reading ALL the books. I’m still working my way through The Martian by Andy Weir which I am enjoying but having a hard time settling into probably because I made the mistake(?) of watching the movie first. On the plus side, now when I read the book you know I am picturing Matt Damon doing all the things and saying all the funnies and that’s never a bad thing.

I’m also finally reading Let it Snow which is a group effort by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. It’s kind of like that high school English assignment where you write a chapter and then one of your classmates writes the next chapter and so on. So far I’ve read Green and Johnson’s stories and loved both. Maureen Johnson’s might have been my favorite of the two so now I’m adding all her books to my wish list and was psyched to realize that one of them is already sitting on my kindle so this morning I may have read the first two chapters of 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

My book club will be discussing Terrible Typhoid Mary by Susan Campbell Bartoletti next month so I’ll likely need to start reading that soon as well. It’s a biography of Mary Mallon, also known as Typhoid Mary that explores who Mary actually was and how her name became synonymous with a horrible disease.

What I’m Cooking

I made this French toast – probably the first thing I’ve made after watching a video recipe thing on Facebook. It was good but not great – but somehow resulted in me making The Pioneer Woman’s cinnamon toast like fifteen times this month, so…

Then I made her chocolate cake in a mug which is dangerously delicious. I didn’t know this recipe could be perfected but leave it to Ree to make that happen. I know you are rolling your eyes like, “Jen, microwave mug cake is ancient history and only meh” and to that I say, fine, I’ll eat yours. Nothing to see here.

Kim (the other half of Critic and Fangirl) and I made it into the kitchen together this month and she made pork cabbage rolls that might have changed my life. I could eat twelve of them RIGHT NOW. Seriously, come make me more Kimmy!

What I’m Loving

The new floor runner in my hallway that lets the kids walk more than one foot into the house before wiping shoes and taking them off to put away. Floors are cleaner, mom gets to walk inside sooner and also it’s pretty.

This quote from Zachary on Project Runway Junior: “You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce. So, gotta get it done…” 

The kids and I started journaling together. I bought / repurposed some journals that we are writing in to each other at night. BB uses hers mostly to ask me hot button questions like “What should I wear to my birthday party besides just clothes?” and “Can we play Minecraft together this weekend?” MM’s has quickly devolved into us doodling Doctor Who references and him sketching comics of escape pods. But I’m interested in seeing the longevity of this idea.

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This homework station that I made for the kids after spending twelve million hours on Pinterest. The main goal was just to gather all the little things they need to finish their homework in one organized space – and for all of said items to find their way back to said station after homework is done because I was getting an ulcer from the nightly “I can’t find any pencils!!!!” game.

What have you been into lately?

Idol Thoughts: The Farewell Season Auditions Begin!

I’ve been blogging on and off about American Idol for several years now, telling you guys who I loved and who I hated and it’s been fun to look back and see who I rooted for early on and who took my by surprise near the end. It’s hard to believe that this fifteenth season will be their last and though it’s bittersweet, I love how upbeat they are being about their cancellation and I’m glad that they were able to come back for one final farewell season instead of the show just grinding to a halt. It feels right.

And even better? There is already some phenomenal talent showing up for the auditions that are exciting to see. Here are a couple that made me sit up a little straighter on my couch and pay attention. I’m sure there were more, but these three were pretty memorable.

This guy blew me away and maybe I’m just biased because I love that song but I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next. And the fact that he works with young kids is just the sweetest.

I really liked her, too. I’m a sucker for an indie voice. I loved her confidence – she was humble but also professional which is cool for her age. She’s the real deal.

Her voice is just beautiful. I’m interested to see how she holds up in Hollywood week because her voice is solid but is it memorable? I’m not sure. It always seems a little harder for the girls that “sing pretty songs” especially when America starts voting because girls are so much more critical of girls. But I think she is promising.

Are you watching the auditions?

Anyone else you are super excited about?

Weekly Geekly: 9.04.15

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How is it September already? Though it still definitely feels like summer outside (hot and muggy? check) – the kids are back in school, pumpkin spiced everything is starting to roll out in cafes and my grocery store just put out Halloween candy. It’s official – Winter Fall is coming. Whether this is exciting or disappointing, let’s distract ourselves with these geeky links:

Nerds Rejoice – Pottery Barn has joined the dork side with a pretty amazing Star Wars themed toddler bed.

Polaroid is finally releasing the update on their classic that we can all get behind, a kind of Polaroid 2.0.

Who wants to go on a vacation to Westeros with me?

Loved this video of the Top 10 Games for Couples – what do you and your significant other like to play?

Have you purchased from Better World Books before? I ordered three books from them after reading this post at Stay Bookish and the books just arrived in great condition, shipped for free for a good cause – it doesn’t get better than that!

What do you think about the latest Harry Potter fan theory regarding Draco?

This geeky birth announcement was kind of amazing.

Have a great weekend guys!

weekly geekly: 4.18.2015

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My list of awesome stuff to share with you guys was getting increasingly humongous so clearly a Weekly Geekly was in order. I’ve only got a few minutes before I need to run to work and make everyone look super stylish with their choice of spectacles – so let’s get cracking, shall we?

Ever stood in line at the coffee shop and thought “I could do their job – better, faster, stronger” – find out How long would you last as a Barista – no scalding water involved. – via buzzfeed

For your next U.S. Road Trip – 18 Literary Maps of the US at mental floss. Or if you are in Romania (as one does) check out this amazing magical bookstore at earthporm.com. 

“But guys, I’m in London!” Stop complaining and check out these 11 awesome stops for everyone’s Harry Potter dream vacay (one is actually in the US). – via mental floss

A cheat sheet for the dewey decimal so you can Library like a Boss. – via GeekMom

Want to teach your kids how to RPG? Geek Mom has you covered. I’m planning to try out Shadows with my kids soon.

And because I’m not quite done squealing:

weekly geekly links: 2.6.15

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I know you’ve been dying to know what your Star Wars Personality Type is. Fair warning: It told me I was Luke Skywalker (INFP) so no guaruntees it will be nice to you. Do you really want to find out that you are Jar Jar Binks? Don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t warn you.

LEGO is working on Doctor Who and Wall-E playsets. No they don’t go together (although it’s LEGO so they can if you want them to). I just mean they are working on two different sets: one for Doctor Who and one for Wall-E. These look really cool but we already have ALL of the LEGO Doctor Who figs so I’m assuming it’s just the Tardis and stuff that’s new.

Apparently the latest hair trend is to make your hair look like computer pixels? That might sound confusing but the pics over at this Buzzfeed article are gorgeous and totally explain what that means and then you can go to the salon and let your geek flag fly with confidence!

And now for two videos and a picture:

Amazing.

Yes the fangirl in me absolutely lost it over this one.  I was seriously waiting with bated breath for Slater to say “What’s up preppies?” Then I died. This whole video made my year.

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Happy Friday guys!