Thursday, December 13, 2018

Lulu & Rocky in MILWAUKEE: A Grandmother/Grandson Review and Giveaway

Congratulations to Jo Lynn Worden who won Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature and to Linda Phillips who won The Elephant Whisperer. Both grandmothers plan to share these books with their grandchildren. I love it!

With the publication of Lulu and Rocky in MILWAUKEE, Sleeping Bear Press introduces a new series of books, Our City Adventures. (Click here for Sleeping Bear Press comprehensive catalog). Author Barbara Joosse and illustrator Renee Graef will be featuring Detroit in their next book in the series. 


In this entertaining travel guide for kids, Lulu and her cousin Rocky explore the city of Milwaukee. 

Their adventure begins with a ferry trip across Lake Michigan and then settling into the historic Pfister Hotel. 

After working up an appetite, they eat fried cheese curds in the Historic Third Ward. They take selfies at the Bronze Fonz, visit the North Point Lighthouse and Discovery World, and for dinner they visit the Lakefront Brewery. Although they're not shown drinking in the illustration, this might be a questionable location to include in a picture book for young children. Along those lines, Pufferson, Lulu's penguin companion, is pictured drinking beer at lunch. 

The next day they're busy exploring the lakefront.

The pair are inspired at the Milwaukee Art Museum and see a brise soleil on the roof that inspires Lulu's painting of herself riding in the clouds. 

At the end of their trip they wave to Milwaukee. 

The book concludes with a list of places that were included in the book and other places to visit. The series sounds like they'll be great books to use as a K-2nd grade resource.

I read this book with my 8-year-old grandson, Mason. Here are his thoughts:


Leave me a comment by December 17 if you would like to be entered in this giveaway. This would make a nice present for the midwesterner in your life! As usual, please leave your email address if you are new to my blog and US addresses only. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Elephant Whisperer: A Review and Audio Book Giveaway

Every so often I page through Tantor Audio's catalog and come across a title that sounds intriguing. That's what happened when I read the description of The Elephant Whisperer (April, 2009 PanMacmillan) by conservationist Lawrence Anthony along with journalist Graham Spence. The book comes alive through the British narration of BBC broadcaster Simon Vance


One of the opening lines that captured my attention was when Anthony wrote, "Elephants taught me how to listen." As the narrative unfolds, the reader discovers that his herd of rogue elephants also taught him about trust, loyalty, respect, and freedom.

South African Lawrence Anthony's game reserve, Thula Thula, is in the heart of Zululand. He started it in 1998 with 1500 hectare, and was committed to returning the area to its original state. When he was asked if he would receive seven elephants hostile in their interactions with humans, he couldn't refuse. This was the first of many difficult choices he faced: if he didn't take them, they would be killed. 

The first herd arrived in 1999.

Contrary to popular opinion which dictated that wild elephants should have no contact with humans when brought into a new home, Anthony decided he needed to let these traumatized "magnificent" animals (his favorite descriptor) get to know him. While they were in quarantine he spend night and day outside the fence talking to them and letting them get used to him. He named them and used their names in conversation. The day that the matriarch, Nana, reached her trunk towards him, he stood still while she sniffed him. The next day he released them into the preserve. 

The book is full of Anthony's challenges. The herd figured out how to break through the electric fences and head back home. Anthony spent time and money to bring them back--knowing that the alternative was for them to be killed. Poachers (who turned out to be his own guards) killed over one hundred animals and obtained thousands of pounds of meat worth thousands of dollars. Three white rhinos were introduced into the preserve; keeping the elephants away from them was a huge task. 

One time he was pedaling a bike with his fiancé, Francois, alongside of him. They accidentally ended up in the middle of the herd. Being up against seven huge animals who were unfamiliar with the bicycle and Francois put the pair in serious danger. 

Meanwhile, Anthony spent hundreds of hours with the herd gaining their trust. One night he opened the door of the lodge to see Nana practically inside. She snaked her trunk through his bedroom window and although she could easily have picked him up and done whatever she wanted with him, Anthony stood firm and let her sniff him. Later Francois recommended a bath-- Anthony was covered in half a pint of elephant slime. 
The main house which Nana decided to visit.

Anthony developed an uncanny ability to sense when the herd was near. He felt as if the elephants could project their presence into the area. If they didn't want to be found, they wouldn't be. He could sense their deep rumblings in the bush even if he couldn't hear them. "The elephants determined the emotional feelings of the encounter, not me." Similarly, the elephants set the boundaries, not Anthony. Mostly he sat and waited for them to feel comfortable before moving closer to them.

When Anthony was gone for a week, there would be a welcoming committee of seven elephants waiting when he returned. When a fire broke out on the reserve, the elephants led humans and other animals to the Crock Pool to wait until the fire burned itself out.

In 2004 Anthony and his team of rangers rescued a baby elephant who was born with deformed feet. He and Francois cared for him in their guest bedroom.
Despite bottle feeding and intensive medical care, baby Thula died and the entire staff was heart-broken.

Anthony noted that Nana communicated with her eyes, trunk rumblings, and subtle body movements. One day he walked out to her and she walked towards him and he had no escape route. Her legs--as big as tree trunks--could crush him. But the moment he spoke to her she relaxed and so did he. "Communication is a two-way street--whether it's a person or an animal. You have to acknowledge that the communication has reached you. Or, it's all over."

By the time Anthony died in 2012, the herd numbered thirty elephants. For three consecutive years the herd returned to the house on the day of his death to mourn him.

In 2008 and then again in 2010, Thula Thula partnered with adjoining lands and increased in size by another 2300 hectare. 

The Elephant Whisperer, which will be enjoyed by children and adults, ends with a plea for conservation. For more information about the reserve--including staying there and participating in bush excursions, please see Thula Thula's website. (All pictures are from the website.) Here's an audio clip so you can hear Simon Vance's terrific narration. 


To enter this giveaway, please leave me a comment by 9 PM on December 12. Remember--leave me your email address if you are new to my blog. This is a great present for the animal lover on your gift list!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature- A Review and Giveaway

Congratulations to Clara Gillow Clark who won Finding Home: My Arc-O-Biography on last week's blog.

Note: In the next two weeks I'm going to try and post extra book giveaways so you have a chance to win a holiday gift for someone special. 


When I saw on Margriet Ruurs Facebook page that she had a new book coming out, I knew I wanted to share it with all of you. 
Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature, (Orca Books, 2018) is a wonderful tribute to one of Canada's most famous artists. Both the text and illustrations are beautiful; I had a hard time selecting which illustrations to accompany this blog. Hopefully the pictures and short snippets of text will pique your interest; the animals I've named in the review are accompanied by magnificent illustrations.

From a youth, Mr. Bateman loved the outdoors and was "in awe of nature." He investigated fields and animals; birds and plants.

"In school he spent a lot of time staring out the window. He dreamed of traveling so he could see more wildlife, from whales to wrens."

Not only did Mr. Bateman "paint the shapes and patterns of the world around him," but he also carved wooden birds and noticed "details of feathers and form."

Owls, penguins, polar bears, and lions in their habitats. 

Towards the end of the book, there is a lovely illustration of Mr. Bateman walking through a field with his grandchildren. The text reads: 
Now Robert walks the forest with his grandchildren. He shows them the shape of a leaf, the texture of bark. He tells them to pay attention to the details of nature around them.
Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature will be enjoyed by grandparents, parents, K-3 teachers, and of course--young readers themselves. Hopefully the text and illustrations will encourage our next generation to appreciate nature as Mr. Bateman did as a child. 


Leave me a comment by December 12 with your email address if you are new to my blog. For an extra chance to win, share this on social media (please let me know what you did) and I'll put your name in the hat twice. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Finding Home: My Arf-O-Biography: A Grandmother/Granddaughter Review + Giveaway!

Congratulations to Clara Gillow Clark for winning Hanukkah Hamster from last week's blog. Clara is a fellow writer and blogger with whom I often trade books!

In this post, I'm introducing a new format for some of my book reviews. I'm known to five of my six grandchildren as the grandma who loves books. (The sixth is only 3 months old. Give him time.) When I read this book I knew it would be a perfect read for my seven-year-old granddaughter, Libbie, who not only loves dogs, but has wanted to be a veterinarian since she could say the word. She agreed to read the book and give you her thoughts. So here you go, friends--a book review brought to you by Libbie and me!

This sweet early chapter book is perfect for the 1-2nd grade reader who is starting to read on her own. This is Bridgett Langson's debut book and her love for all things four-legged and fuzzy comes through loud and clear.  

Like Christie Miller's book, Raccoon Rescue, FINDING HOME is written for young readers from the point-of-view of the animal character, involves a rescue, and is self-published.

"Puppy" as his new family calls him until they decide on his name, wants one thing: a boy of his own. He and his "Sis" were abandoned by their parents (Marf and Darf) in an attempt to protect them from a mean man they called Bad Boots. Puppy is thrilled when his boy, Eric, wants to keep him. But Puppy's problems aren't over. He arfs too much and doesn't always go potty in the right place. Even though he does his best to look cute and adorable,

Illustration by Edwina L. May
Eric's father dislikes his yapping and is not convinced he wants to add another dog to the household. 

Puppy's "dialogue" with Moka, the big scary dog who belongs to Eric's brother John, as well as his own thoughts are interspersed throughout the story. During a visit to Sis she tries to convince him to stay with her. He says,

I love visiting you, but I need to go back to my own home. Darf was right. It's the way of dogs to live with their own humans. (p.88)
At another time Puppy thinks,
Guess what, you boy named John? Dogs do know human talk! Even puppies like me, I arf. (p. 55)

Puppy has a keen sense of smell, and can smell when a person is scared. This sense of smell saves the day when Puppy finds Eric's father lost work notebook. 

This is the last illustration in the book. I'll give you one guess how the book ends!
Illustration by Edwina L. May



Please leave me a comment by December 6 and I'll enter your name in the giveaway. Bridgett will be happy to provide an autographed copy for one fortunate winner. This will make a great holiday present for a young reader. Don't forget to leave me your email address if you are new to my blog.

Lulu & Rocky in MILWAUKEE: A Grandmother/Grandson Review and Giveaway

Congratulations to Jo Lynn Worden who won Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature and to Linda Phillips who won The Elephant Whisperer ....