Photo Challenge #8 / Water

20200215ma_0142“Falling Water” / Theme: Water

A little about this photo…

No matter how cold it gets, water continues to gush over Niagara Falls. And Niagara Falls in winter is always beautiful. Cold, but beautiful.

The trick is trying to get a shot of the falls that isn’t being taken by every tourist and their mother. I love these iron railings that guard the public. So, I decided to use them as a frame to show off this wonderful, beautiful water.

(By the way, this is the Horseshoe Falls. You can see it’s curved, like a horseshoe.)


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2020picoftheweek

Photo Challenge #7 / Charming

20200210ma_0107“Ice Princess” / Theme: Charming

A little about this photo…

This block of ice started to melt in a very interesting way. To me, it looks like an ice princess getting ready for a dance. And since Valentine’s Day was yesterday, I figure this Princess Charming would do well for this week’s photo!

That big leaf? I’m not sure if it’s her hat or an umbrella.


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2020picoftheweek

Winter Reading Bingo Challenge / January

mgc-bingo-jan2020

It’s time again for another round of Middle Grade Carousel’s Reading Bingo challenge!

This month, I finished nine middle-grade books that fit the descriptions on the bingo card.

How Does It Work?

Pick your challenge, grab a book, and fill in the squares. Try and get 5 in a row, or attempt to fill in the whole sheet if you’re a speedy reader.

Rules

  1. Because this is a #MGCarousel challenge, all of the books on your Bingo board should be MG reads.
  2. Each square needs to be filled with a unique book. You cannot use the same title more than once, even if it fits multiple themes. Choose wisely!
  3. You should only be filling in your Bingo board with books you’ve read during this month.

Here are my results…


Box on the Cover

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel // by Firoozeh Dumas

Aint-So-Awful-FalafelMG, Near-Historical (2017)

I loved the story of Cindy (aka Zomorod, which is her Iranian name). She was a likable character. And reading this book was definitely meant to feature her character. I loved the historical setting and learned a lot about Iranian customs.

The historical setting is great. The Iran Hostage Crisis (which is featured in the book) doesn’t occur until halfway through the book. This makes the story a little long. But other than that, I really enjoyed the themes, the friendships, the troubles that are explored in this book. [4 stars]

Full Review coming soon.


‘Lock’ or ‘Key’ in the Title

code-breakers-1The Secret of the Skeleton Key // by Penny Warner

Lower MG, Mystery (2011)

I think the fun about this book has to do with all the different codes. Seriously, there’s a different type of code for each message, including sign language. My favourite, I think, is the semaphore code. And the book doesn’t give away the solution to each code so YOU get to solve it as it comes.

For me, as an adult, I didn’t find the story to be super engaging. But kids will probably like it. This would be a perfect book for kids who enjoy solving puzzles and codes. [3 stars]


Pick Your Prompt / An Epistolary Novel

sure-signs-crazySure Signs of Crazy // by Karen Harrington

MG, Contemporary (2013)

This isn’t quite a true epistolary novel, but it does contain letters, and in many ways, it does read like it’s a diary. It’s the story of Sarah. She doesn’t know her mother because, when she was two, she (the mother) attempted to drown Sarah and succeeding in drowning Sarah’s twin, Simon. Sarah’s worried that she might end up mentally ill like her mom. She doesn’t feel she can confide in her dad (who has a drinking problem… and that’s kind of understandable; but not helpful to a daughter who needs you.)

So, Sarah begins to write to the dad she wishes she had: Atticus Finch. And through the letters, and with the help of some neighbours, Sarah begins to work through her anxieties. And get her dad some help. [4 stars]


‘Brave’ or ‘Fear’ in the Title

igraine-the-braveIgraine the Brave // by Cornelia Funke

MG, Fantasy (1998)

Igraine wants to be a knight! When her magician parents make a tiny mistake and turn into pigs, it’s up to their daughter to go on a quest to save the day… and the castle.

A fun book, Igraine is a very likable character. I love the little touches… Like the Sorrowful Knight. Or the castle called Pimpernel! And how the mother is referred to as the Fair Melisande. And even how the brother (Albert, a magician-in-training) can only conjure up blue eggs and dry biscuits, no matter what! [4 stars]


Red Cover

Firegirl // by Tony Abbott

fire-girlMG, Contemporary (2006)

This is an interesting what-if story. What if a girl is burned so badly in a fire… and then has to go to a new school… how would her new classmates treat her? The story is told through the eyes of Tom. I actually liked the complexity of emotions of this book. I enjoyed the subplot of the two friends (Tom and Jeff) and the uncle’s special “car”. Throughout, the reader isn’t sure if Jeff is lying or what. And when you find out, there’s another dilemma that Tom has to face.

The one thing I did not quite find believable is the fact that the parents choose to send their daughter (Jessica) to face school in her situation. Especially, since she is still recovering. But, in spite of that, if I can put that aside, I did like the themes that the book explored. And overall, I enjoyed this story.

And for some reason, I really like that cover! [4 stars]


Other MG Books I Finished this Month…

  • A Pretty Book Cover // Roll // by Darcy Miller
  • Character’s Name in the Title // Dear Mr. Henshaw // by Beverly Cleary
  • Set in a Small Town // The Only Girl in School // by Natalie Standiford
  • A Ladder on the Cover // The Case of the Missing Moonstone // by Jordan Stratford

Final Thoughts…

January Bingo: Complete! Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them.

For February’s challenge, go to https://elymnifoquent.com

Note: I’m also posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

Photo Challenge #5 / Details

20200131ma_0100“Beauty of Toledo” / Theme: Details

A little about this photo…

This is a damascene brooch from Spain. It’s not actually from Toledo (I’ve never been to Toledo), but the style of this jewelry is called “Toledo ware” (Toledo, Spain was/is a major producer). I did get it in Spain, although I can’t really remember where anymore.

I don’t really wear jewelry much anymore, and certainly don’t have much chance to put on a brooch as ornate as this one. Still, I really like the detail of the bird and the flowers and all the fuss that makes this what it is.


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2020picoftheweek

Photo Challenge #4 / Movement

20200108ma_0029“Speed Reading” / Theme: Movement

A little about this photo…

I was reading one night when I came across the idea for this photo. It was like it just begged me to grab my camera. So, I spent a few minutes playing with shutter speeds and fanning the pages to get the right amount of page blur.

Disclaimer: In spite of the title “Speed Reading”, I do not actually speed read any of my books. 😉


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2020picoftheweek

Crimson’s Creative Challenge #63

20190704ma_0678

In response to Crimson’s Creative Challenge #63

Crispina Kemp posted a photo… of an alpaca. “For an increasing number of British farmers the alpaca has become the go-to for wool production. The alpaca’s fibres fetch a much higher price than common old sheep. But its still a rare sight in our countryside.”

My response: To Crispina’s alpaca… Greetings from your BFF in Canada! (This one lives in a zoo.)


Check out the original Creative Challenge post here

Photo Challenge #3 / U Are Here

20200116ma_0060“A Pawn in the Game” / Theme: U Are Here

A little about this photo…

I had no idea what I’d actually do with this prompt when I created it, but here I am… using it for a photo of a game of chess.

To be honest, I’m not terribly good at playing chess. I know the rules. I can play (and potentially win against) children. I actually like the logic of the game. My problem is that to really OWN the game, you have to think ahead, like 50 moves.

If I were any piece on the board? I’d probably be that pawn. Lowly. Insignificant. But the cool thing about pawns (and I tell this to anybody just learning to play the game)… is that they can turn into queens.


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2020picoftheweek

Photo Challenge #2 / Tucked Away

20200110ma_0051“Tiny Elephant Likes to Read” / Theme: Tucked Away

A little about this photo…

Tucked away on my bookshelf is this tiny little elephant. I hope you can figure how tiny she is from the scale of the books (they’re novels… the brown one is actually Little House in the Big Woods). I don’t actually know where I got this adorable little animal, but she’s been hanging around my bookshelf for quite a few years now. I figure she must be a reading elephant… Secretly, late at night, she reads all my books.


THIS WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE is posted every Saturday. Please join me in posting your own photos with #2020picoftheweek

Winter Reading Bingo Challenge / December

mgc-bingo-dec2019

It’s time again for another round of Middle Grade Carousel’s Reading Bingo challenge!

This month, I finished nine middle-grade books that fit the descriptions on the bingo card. (I got an arrow!!)

How Does It Work?

Pick your challenge, grab a book, and fill in the squares. Try and get 5 in a row, or attempt to fill in the whole sheet if you’re a speedy reader.

Rules

  1. Because this is a #MGCarousel challenge, all of the books on your Bingo board should be MG reads.
  2. Each square needs to be filled with a unique book. You cannot use the same title more than once, even if it fits multiple themes. Choose wisely!
  3. You should only be filling in your Bingo board with books you’ve read during this month.

Here are my results…


Books on the Cover

Words on Fire // by Jennifer A. Nielsen

words-on-fireMG, Historical (2019)

When her parents are taken by the Cossacks, Audra is thrust into their life of book smuggling. She learns that people like her parents risk their lives in order to keep the Lithuanian culture alive, even in the face of Russian occupation.

I liked Audra’s spunk. And I really liked Lukas and his determination. They played nicely off each other! I should have expected some of the twists Nielsen often brings to her stories, but I really didn’t see them until they were about to be revealed.

I did find the story a bit slow in spots, otherwise, I would have given it a higher rating. [3.5 stars]


Natural Disasters

The Pompeii Disaster // by Dan Gutman

pompeii-disasterMG, Contemporary/Time Travel (2018)

Note: This book is technically the third book in a series. The Flashback Four are a group of kids that time travel to various important events in history to… get this… take a photograph of said event. This book’s focus: Pompeii. And as you can probably guess, things won’t go smoothly with a volcano about to erupt.

The kids have to take a picture of the historical event, but that’s about it. But, I’ve included it in my list because it is kind of neat to think of having a photograph of Mount Vesuvius about to bury the city of Pompeii in ash. Wow, just wow! [3 stars]


Pick Your Prompt / A Book About Grief

The Elephant // by Peter Carnavas

elephantLower MG, Contemporary (2017)

This is a sweet book about a girl who just wants her dad to fix her bike. But that is even a little too simplistic. Really, what she wants is her dad to be a dad. The elephant, of course, is a metaphor. Something that continually follows around after her dad. It’s invisible and only Olive can see it.

Ultimately, this book is a story about grief and how we deal with grief. It’s an interesting choice to show the grief felt by the father and others in the story. Told in short, easy-to-read chapters. The illustrations add a nice touch. This book is definitely intended for younger readers. Although, I thoroughly enjoyed it as an adult. [4 stars]


‘Guide’ in the Title

Wildlife Watcher Guide // by Michael Leach and Meriel Lland

wildlife-watcher-guideMG, Non-Fiction (2016)

This was a nice little how-to guide for beginner photographers. It focuses on how to get the shots of wildlife.

I especially enjoyed the little interviews with the authors (photographers themselves) sprinkled throughout the book. Many of the photos are stunning, although I doubt any child will be able to travel to get such shots. But it is inspiring. They also do give tips on how to take photos in your own backyard.   [3 stars]


Three Words in the Title

A Little Princess // by Frances Hodgeson Burnett

a-little-princessMG, Classic (1890)

A re-read for me. The riches to rags back to riches story always holds some magic in it. In many ways, Sara Crewe is a more modern (in you can call 1890 modern) version of Cinderella. She has the kindness and sweetness and optimism of Cinderella. And Miss Minchin plays a wonderful evil stepmother-type character.

While I still like The Secret Garden better, this book comes in a close second. (And to tell the truth, I do think I’d prefer Sara as a friend a little more than Mary Lennox. At least, the Mary at the beginning of the story!) [4.5 stars]


Other MG Books I Finished this Month…

  • Book About Siblings // Planet Earth is Blue // by Nicole Panteleakos
  • Purple Cover // Counting on Grace // by Elizabeth Wintrop
  • Author’s Name is Chris // Elijah of Buxton // by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • Piano on the Cover // Who Was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart // by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Final Thoughts…

December Bingo: Complete! Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them.

For January’s challenge, go to https://elymnifoquent.com

Note: I’m also posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday