The Day I Forgot My Camera

Actually, this post should be called The Day I Forgot My Camera Card.

Because that’s what really happened. I brought the camera. I forgot there wasn’t a memory card in the slot.

It was a complicated day. We were going to visit the HMCS Haida, a retired battleship that served during WWII and the Korean War. The ship is docked in Hamilton, Ontario and is now open for tourists. Before we left, I grabbed my camera bag. Usually I have a memory card inside my camera, AND a couple backups in my bag.

But on arriving at the battleship, I suddenly realized that my big, fancy camera was… useless!

(And no, I do NOT have a smart phone.)

I experienced a moment of panic.

Could I really enjoy this visit withOUT a camera in my hand?

Well, it turns out that I didn’t have to. You see, the nieces and nephews were with me. I soon realized that my 10-year-old niece had brought her little digital camera. There was nothing fancy about this little camera. It’s probably older than she is. And (lucky for aunty), she let me borrow it while she and her cousins explored the ship with abandon.

(Note: It’s been awhile since I used one of these cameras. It took me a few photos before I knew I wanted to disable the flash.)

Here are three things I learned:

1) While the “fancy” DSLR camera gives me more control over my pictures (like depth of field, etc.) the little digital camera gave me… pictures.

2) And the photos were pretty decent. They’re not as big as I’m used to. But they weren’t bad.

3) Creativity is in the composition. Inspiration should never be dependent on a fancy camera.

P.S. So, what if I hadn’t had the “backup” camera? I think it’s okay to just enjoy the journey. You don’t HAVE to document everything. While I prefer to have my camera with me, I also know that my concentration does go to my picture-taking. Which means that I just don’t sit back and admire the view.

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ARC Review: Skyward

skywardSkyward // by Sally Deng
Release Date: September 4, 2018
Genre: MG Picture Book, Non-Fiction (WWII)
My 
Basic Plot: This is the story of three Allied pilots during World War II… who all happen to be women. Hazel is from the U.S., Marlene is from England, Lilya is from the Soviet Union.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I loved the illustrations! Nicely done.

2) This is a history book that tells you the little things about history. (Like the fact that the women were given uniforms that were too big for them. Makes sense since the uniforms would have been originally made for men.) They had to use their sewing skills to make the uniforms wearable!

3) None of these women are famous. And while I like reading about famous people who did great things, I also love reading about the regular people who did their part to win the war. (According to the author’s note, Hazel from the U.S. seems to have been a real person. Not sure about the other two. But I’m sure she did her research to get their experiences.)

4) I did like that we get three different experiences with these three different women, each from a different part of the world.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) At times I was a little confused about which woman was from where. Especially at the beginning of the story. It starts with Hazel and then moves on to Marlene and for some reason, I thought they were the same girl. I wish there had been tags or something to remind us that Hazel was from the U.S., Marlene was from England, etc.

2) Hazel is of Chinese heritage, however, this wasn’t very clear in the book. It’s only hinted at when she and her friend (who happens to be black) are thinking of  joining the WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots). One of them says: “A Chinese American and an African American want to join? They will think us crazy and laugh in our faces.” I’m pretty sure the term African American would not have been used in 1942-3. Little things like that do bother me, especially since it’s in dialogue of people from the era. If it had been the narrator, I’d be okay with it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I enjoyed this look into the history of women pilots in World War II. I’m pretty much a sucker for anything to do with WWII, so this was right up my alley. It’s a picture book, but it’s definitely meant for older kids (as there’s a lot of text).

Photo Challenge #34 / Wooden

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“Little Wooden Church” / Theme: Wooden

A little about this photo…

I love the look of this little white church. And yes, it’s made out of wood. White, painted wood. Today, this is a popular wedding destination not too far from where I live. It’s quite a beautiful location. There are hiking trails and there’s a waterfall not far from the church steps.


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join us in posting your own photos with #2018picoftheweek

Review: Becoming Naomi Leon

Book: Becoming Naomi Leon (2005)
Author: Pam Munoz Ryan
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars

Becoming_Naomi_LeónBasic Plot: Naomi Outlaw lives with her great-grandmother and younger brother. But then one day her mother shows up, ready to come back into their lives. Except, she only wants Naomi. But the grandmother has a plan to save her little family… a plan that involves a road-trip down to Mexico to seek out Naomi and Owen’s long-lost father.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) I loved how protective Naomi and the grandmother were of Owen. I like, too, how they give the mother a chance.

2) But boy oh boy, I did not like the mother! Not only did she abandon the children, but she’s also changed her name to… Skyla. (Oh, the fakeness of that mother!) But I think what really got to me was her treatment of Owen, her own son. Even the mother’s boyfriend treated Owen better. (And yes, this is in the What’s Cool section because her portrayal was that good!)

3) One of my favourite parts of the book is when Gram and their neighbour decide to skip their favourite television show (a show they haven’t missed in years). This is the clue to the children that the grown-ups are serious about helping to save Owen!

4) I loved the Mexican culture in this book. I really enjoyed the radish-carving competition!

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I almost wished they had gone to Mexico earlier in the story. Once they were there, it somehow didn’t seem like the same story. This should have been my favourite part of the book!

2) Also, once they were in Mexico, the grown-ups didn’t seem to be doing much to locate the father. They left things up to… Naomi?? (who makes a lot of expensive telephone calls). In the end, [SPOILER] it didn’t seem too hard to find the father. [End SPOILER]

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – I liked Naomi and enjoyed this story. While its not my favourite book by Pam Munoz Ryan, it’s still worth the read.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Review: Sunny

Book: Sunny (2018)
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 Stars

sunnyBasic Plot: Sunny runs the mile. Except, now he doesn’t want to anymore. So, he just stops running. He was only running to please his father and to fulfill his dead mother’s dream of running. But with his birthday looming, Sunny only feels guilt over the fact that he “killed” his mother (she died the day he was born). His home-school teacher, Aurelia, decides to teach Sunny dancing and that’s when he realizes that he’d rather dance than run. He tells Coach, who decides that maybe Sunny should give the discus a shot. Because, it’s as close to dancing as track and field gets.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) This is a continuation of the series with Ghost and Patina. This one focuses on Sunny. Obviously. He’s an interesting character, with a love of rhythm that permeates his whole being, and translates well to his writing style. (This book is written in diary-format.)

2) I like the arc for the relationship of Sunny and Darryl (his father). The scene in the dad’s bedroom is quite touching. I love how Sunny describes his father as having a stone face, and how this changes and morphs during this section of the book.

3) We get another track meet at the end of the book. This time, it’s not a race, but the discus throw. And yes, as in all the other books, we don’t actually find out how it turns out. (But I’m sure we will in the next book… which I’m assuming will be about Lu.)

4) I do like how Ghost, Patty, and Lu are really good friends to Sunny. (Although, at one point, he tells them he doesn’t go to school—he’s home-schooled—and they’re all shocked. But I’m pretty sure they knew this already from the last book. Unfortunately, I don’t have that book with me, so I can’t check. If you’ve read this book and can correct me, please let me know in the comments.)

5) I really enjoyed the fact that Sunny was home-schooled, and Aurelia sounds like an awesome teacher.  I also like how Aurelia’s story merges with Sunny’s.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I mentioned earlier that I like the supportiveness of the newbies (aka Ghost, Patty, and Lu). This is also a BIT of a problem. It means there is very little conflict happening between these characters. And stories need conflict. Since these characters don’t present any conflict, they end up being not so relevant to the actual story. I wish they could be more central to the plot. But really, they’re just side characters that almost don’t matter. 😦

2) Note to Jason Reynolds: Please don’t mention that awful scene in the Chinese Restaurant from the first book. Argh! That brought back bad memories for me! Okay, I’m slightly kidding, but slightly serious as well. I didn’t find the scene (in this book) as cathartic as I think it was supposed to be. I felt like it was slightly unnecessary. Now maybe this is because of the call-back to the secrets scene in the first book (meaning I was distracted). But I think it may be because this scene just came AFTER a very similar scene (the one in the dad’s bedroom).

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 3.5 Stars (out of 5) – I didn’t like this book as much as I liked Patina, but that is probably because I understand and relate to Patty better than I do to Sunny. I also really like track (running). But in this book, we veer over to the field part of track and field. Let’s just say that the field part of track and field has never truly excited me. Still, Sunny is a wonderful character and I did enjoy reading about him.


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Photo Challenge #33 / Texture

20180805ma_4042“Dorothy” / Theme: Texture

A little about this photo…

This is my grandmother’s doll, Dorothy. She got her when she was 6 years old, after having her appendix out. Dorothy was a gift from the ladies in her father’s office, which I think was pretty generous considering that this would have been during the Great Depression.

I’ve always been fascinated by the lines on Dorothy’s face. Of course, these weren’t there back in the 1930s. It’s almost like Dorothy’s aged, along with my grandma. Those lines on her face are as beautiful as the wrinkles on my own grandma’s face. (Yes, I do think wrinkles can be beautiful!)


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join us in posting your own photos with #2018picoftheweek

Newbery Verdict: Thimble Summer

Thimble Summer // by Elizabeth Enright (1938)

Winner of the Newbery Award (1939)
Genre: MG, Contemporary/Historical
Rating: 3.5 Stars

thimble-summerBasic Plot: When Garnet finds a silver thimble on their farm, that’s when the adventures begin. From raising a piglet for the county fair to being locked inside the library to hitchhiking by herself into town… Garnet finds her summer to be magical.

MY THOUGHTS…

I know I would have absolutely loved this book as a child! As an adult, I did find it enjoyable, but not perfect. I wished the thimble was a little more prominent throughout the story.

One of my favourite scenes was when Garnet and her friend are locked in the library. This is both my dream and my nightmare! I also love how she hitchhikes over to the next town because she’s so angry with her family (particularly Jay, her brother) and then she buys them all little gifts. And the scene with the chickens! It was cute how she names the chicken, Bnnhilde. And the neighbour, Mr. Freebody! One of my favourite characters 🙂

FAVOURITE QUOTE…

“Yes sir!” said Mr. Freebody coming in the door. “Don’t you be fooled! Those ain’t two little girls you see settin’ up there; those are two genuwine bookworms, couldn’t stop reading long enough to come home. Planning to take up permanent residence in the liberry from now on, ain’tcha?”

(Chapter V)

NEWBERY VERDICT…

A sweet and fun Newbery winner for 1939. This book is a bit of the Little House books meets Charlotte’s Web (sans the spider). While I did enjoy reading this book, I still like Enright’s book The Saturdays better. (Alas, The Saturdays didn’t even get nominated for a Newbery!)

YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!


Newbery Verdict Reading Challenge: This is a personal challenge for me to read books that have either won the Newbery Medal, or are a Newbery Honor book. The Newbery is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. Since 1922, this annual award has given to the author of the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” A Newbery Honor book is given to the runners-up.

Review: Patina

Book: Patina (2017)
Author: Jason Reynolds
Genre: MG, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars

patinaBasic Plot: Patty hates losing a race. Or even coming in second. She also has a to-do list longer than your arm. She’s starting to find it hard to juggle her sister, her mom, her mother/aunt, school, and, of course, track. When Coach puts her on the relay team, she comes nose-to-nose with some unhappy teammates. Couple that with a group project where Patty is doing all the work while her partners take it easy. And then comes a family emergency that Patty never even anticipated. Something that might just threaten to keep her off the track for awhile.

WHAT’S COOL…

1) This is a continuation of the series with Ghost. In this book, Ghost is only a minor character. The MC is his newbie teammate: Patty (Patina). (And yes, we do find out in this one what happened in the race at the end of the first book!)

2) I was nervous about reading this book. Partly because Patty had the potential to be a Mary-Sue character. In the previous book, she doesn’t seem to have any flaws. But that worry melted away immediately. Maybe she was perfect in Ghost’s eyes, but once Patty starts telling her story, we get to see her faults… just enough to make her a human being we can relate to.

3) I loved the relationship between Patty and her little sister, Maddie. Actually, I love her whole family. Her ma, who no longer has her legs due to diabetes. And her uncle and aunt (Momly) who have legal custody of her. I enjoyed getting to know them.

4) The Coach was awesome yet again. He’s not in the book as much as he was in the last. But he has some great moments. I love the part where Coach Whit is teaching the girls to dance and Ghost and Lu? are laughing at them… along with Coach. Then, what Coach does next is priceless.

5) Jason Reynolds has talent for capturing voice. Patty’s voice in this book is unique to Patty, just as Ghost’s voice is unique to Ghost. (And I’ve already started reading the next book: Sunny. Ditto.)

6) The story of the dad is good. I like the cupcakes. And I like the scene near the end with the uncle and the cupcakes.

7) Another race at the end, but Reynolds does things a little differently this time. But I won’t spoil it.

8) Whoever does those book covers… I’m liking them. I like how each one is geared to each character. (Although, Patty really should have a baton in her hand.)

9) Finally, I like that you don’t technically have to read Ghost to enjoy this book. It really is Patty’s story and a stand-alone.

WHAT’S NOT COOL…

1) I don’t get why Momly thinks it’s okay to serve turkey wings every night for supper. Don’t they get sick of them?

2) The Momly-janitor story was a little odd. Not sure exactly if this backstory was needed.

FINAL THOUGHTS

My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I liked this book better than Ghost and I’m trying to figure out why. Premise-wise, I think Ghost is a stronger story, but the pacing was off. (Ghost could have been a 5-star book, which is saying something.) Patina’s story is good, and the pacing and emotional beats are right on. I’m glad I gave it a chance!


YOUR TURN…

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Photo Challenge #32 / Relaxation

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“Grandma’s Blue Chair” / Theme: Relaxation

A little about this photo…

This is my grandmother, relaxing in her blue lazy boy. This is HER chair. The spot where she listens to her audiobooks. The place where she takes her afternoon nap. Where she can sit back and relax.

The light makes everything look grey-ish. But I can assure you that almost everything in the room is blue, because that’s her favourite colour.


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join us in posting your own photos with #2018picoftheweek

Quick Pick Reviews #9

Maid of the King’s Court // by Lucy Worsley (2016)

Maid-of-King's-CourtGenre: YA, Historical (Henry VIII)

My Thoughts: This is the story of Katherine Howard, who becomes Wife #5 to Henry VIII. It’s told through the eyes of her cousin, Elizabeth (but not to be confused with Princess Elizabeth, who eventually becomes Good Queen Bess.) It’s certainly an interesting look inside court life at the time of Henry VIII, especially interesting to me were the games the courtiers all played. The flirtatious activity among… well, everybody. This is really what gets Katherine Howard into trouble.

In the history books, there’s so much attention given to Henry’s first three wives. (This makes sense, since they are the mothers of his three children that became Edward VI,  Mary I, and Elizabeth I.) This book gives a little insight into his next two wives…  [3 Stars]


Crossing Ebenezer Creek // by Tonya Bolden (2017)

crossing-ebenezer-creekGenre: YA, Historical (Civil War)

My Thoughts: I thought I’ve read everything there is to read about the American Civil War, but apparently not. This book brought to my attention something new. (And I always love learning something new about history!) This story revolves around General Sherman’s March to the Sea. And joining that march were the newly freed slaves, courtesy of the Emancipation Proclamation. We get two POVs in this story: Mariah and Caleb.

I will have to say that I wanted to love this book more than I did. But for some reason, I did not really connect with either of the protagonists. I think this may have been due to the fact that there are too many other characters “cluttering” the story. Not that there couldn’t have been other characters. I think it’s important to the story to include the other people. But the writer in me wanted to combine some of them. As a reader, I was getting too confused! Who was who? The cover is also slightly misleading. I would have loved to see a row of silhouetted characters standing over on the other side of the water. (It IS a beautiful cover, though.)

This is a heart-breaking story. I won’t spoil exactly what happens. You’ll just have to read to book. [3 Stars]


Quick Pick books are always recommendations. (If I don’t recommend the book, it’s not a Quick Pick!)