Dawn



                               

5M4B disclosure

PicMonkey Collage2If you regularly spend time with toddlers and young preschoolers, you’ve likely learned just how interesting the immediate world around them can be. As a preschool teacher for over a decade, I took classes of three and four year old children on a multitude of field trips to places in our own neighborhood- the post office, the grocery store, restaurants, and the like- just so they could get an inside look at how places they’ve regularly visited actually work. Along that community theme, a new series of oversized board books featuring a handy, hard-working guinea pig are a wonderful addition to young readers’ collections. In Stanley the Builder and Stanley’s Garage, children are introduced to tools, construction vehicles, and real world jobs that relate to concepts in their own neighborhoods.

Head over to 5 Minutes for Mom to read my full review on these delightful books for little ones, and enter to win a copy of both books in our giveaway!



                               

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Vintage

A vintage clothing shop in a small college town is the backdrop for a lovely story of resilience, self-awareness, and the bonds of friendship that can grow among women in the novel Vintage by Susan Gloss. Violet Turner owns and runs the shop independently, as it had always been her dream to do, but the path she took in fulfilling this dream was filled with obstacles and detours until finally getting her to her destination. She soon finds out that more obstacles lie ahead, ones that could potentially destroy everything she has built, and she may have to open herself up to accepting assistance and collaboration before finding her way again. Violet is a lover of personal stories, and being in the market for buying old
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Flings

Short stories carry a large task- to quickly grab a reader’s attention, as well as to develop an engaging story and flesh out characters in significantly fewer pages than a novel has to do so. In Flings, Justin Taylor creates a series of tales that are simply snippets of the lives of a wide array of characters, all of whom are trying to figure out just how they fit in the world around them. The beginning of each story jumps right into painting a vivid picture of protagonist and setting, with diverse places serving as backgrounds- New York City, Florida, Hong Kong, and others. Somehow, even with so few pages, each conflict builds up gradually, though oftentimes, very little resolution follows. The endings of the stories aren’t
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Small Blessings

In a small college town, one might think tradition is king. On the surface, this might be the thought for the students and residents here, for at first glance, the cast of characters introduced in the beginning chapters do seem to fit their respective roles, most especially quiet and unassuming English professor Tom Putnam. But as readers get into the world created by Martha Woodroof in Small Blessings, they’ll soon discover a delight of a novel filled with wacky characters and unexpected twists and turns. Wacky might be an understated term for the characters in this novel. They’re not your standard, everyday people, though they end up being wholly relatable and undeniably endearing. Tom Putnam has come to accept his lot in life, for when he’s
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Desire Lines #Giveaway

When I think back to high school, the memories that stand out the strongest all revolve around my small group of close friends. As a teenager, they were my world, and though we all live in different areas now and only “see” each other online, they’ll always hold a very special place in my heart. The novel Desire Lines by Christina Baker Kline incorporates this idea into a story with a mystery at its heart and a compelling tale of self-discovery. After a short-lived marriage and a career that was never fully developed, Kathryn doesn’t know what to do next. Until she can figure out where she wants to be and what she wants to do, she returns to her hometown in Maine to stay with her
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Calvin, Look Out!: A Bookworm Birdie Gets Glasses

A few years ago, I became enamored with a little starling named Calvin, a book-loving bird who skipped flying lessons in favor of trips to the library and more time immersed in a book. Jennifer Berne’s Calvin Can’t Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie became a much loved read aloud in my preschool classroom, and it remains a favorite of my own children to this day. Imagine my excitement when I saw that Berne had collaborated with illustrator Keith Bendis once again to bring a new Calvin story to the shelves. Calvin, Look Out! A Bookworm Birdie Gets Glasses gives the gist of the book’s tale right there in the title, but be prepared for a little silly adventure in the process, of course. When Calvin
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The Home Place

In The Home Place by Carrie La Seur, complex family relationships and a harsh, rural Montana setting await Alma Terrebonne upon her return home for the first time in several years. Unfortunately, the trip is due to the death of her younger sister, a happening that has the potential to become another piece of slightly mysterious family history. When Alma leaves Seattle, it doesn’t take long for her to be drawn back in to the ways of her hometown, and it becomes imperative to her to find out the truth behind her sister’s death. As readers can imagine, Alma ends up facing more than she had bargained for. The idea of “getting out” is one with which many folks who grew up in small towns can relate. It represents
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You Are (Not) Small

Anna Kang’s new picture book You Are (Not) Small introduces young children to the idea that when it comes to size, everything is relative. Without any reference point, can you tell if that fuzzy guy on the cover is small, or not? Well, one of those fuzzy, bear-like creatures first appears on the title page, but with the first page turn, a larger furry foot is seen entering the scene. This second guy is much bigger than the first, but when he pointedly tells him, “You are small,” the first guy responds with a decisive, “I am not small. You are big.” They each proceed to gather their similarly-sized pals to emphasize the other’s difference in size. Their interactions become quite heated, as indicated by the print that
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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty {Books on Screen}

Last winter, I was intrigued by the ads for the upcoming film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, not only for my love of most things Ben Stiller touches, but also because I had a vague memory of the short story penned by James Thurber that I knew I had read way back in my school days. I recently watched the film, now out on DVD, with my husband and our 13-year-old son, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much all three of us enjoyed it. Thurber’s 1939 short story (only $0.99 on Kindle, at the time of this writing!) just so happened to be included in one of my son’s 8th-grade language arts books, so I read it again all these years later, and was
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All I Love and Know

Rife with emotions like grief and sorrow, All I Love and Know by Judith Frank (William Morrow, July 2014) takes readers to dark places in the telling of an evocative story of loss, identity, and love. No doubt about it, this novel starts right in the middle of a terrible tragedy, and the aftermath of the cafe bombing that killed Daniel Rosen’s twin brother and his wife seems capable of upturning the lives of everyone in the family. Daniel and his partner Matthew live together in Northhampton, Massachussetts, a town with a supportive gay community. Matthew left behind the NYC scene to settle down with Daniel in this small town, and their days have a comfortable routine. When Matthew receives the call informing him of the bombing in
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Big Whoop!

Young children may not be familiar with the word curmudgeon, but when they meet Mr. Fox in Maxine Lee’s new picture book Big Whoop! (POW!/powerHouse Books, July 2014), they’ll certainly understand the concept. Mr. Fox doesn’t smile, and he doesn’t laugh. He goes about his business with the same unemotional expression on his face all day long. Two of his friends, Roman and Harrison, want to do something about that. These fun-loving pals have a plan to get Mr. Fox to laugh, starting out by donning simple costumes and acting like they’ve turned into zoo animals, but Mr. Fox responds in the same way he always does, by simply stating, “Big whoop,” and continuing on with his reading. Roman and Harrison up their game with each
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Finding Myself in a Book {On Reading}

Not that I needed any convincing, but as a child I remember hearing all the old refrains about reading, repeated with the intent of drawing young people into the world of books. A book is your gateway to the world! Books can really take you places! Escape into reading! While I agree with these simple statements and have certainly traveled much farther in the world through book covers than I ever have in a real life, I can’t say that I find myself motivated to read books for these particular reasons at this point in my life. The stories that appeal to me are more likely to act less as an escape, and more closely like a mirror, causing me to examine myself and my
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