book bonanza – the king’s chessboard

Sep 4, 2010 by

The King's Chessboard

We read The King’s Chessboard at my Math Alive! class this week. The children all loved it and I hope it taught them the power of knowing math, the foolishness of pride, and the immensity of the doubling principle.

This book tells the story of a proud and foolish king who wants to reward one of his subjects. The man does not want to be rewarded, but the king insists. The man then allows the king to give him one grain of rice on the first day, two grains of rice the second day, four grains the third day, eight grains the fourth day, sixteen the fifth day, and so on, for the course of 64 days. One day for every square on a chessboard. Well, if you do the math, you end up with a VERY large number by the 64th day. Go ahead…figure it out and post back here with your answer! Bonus points for anyone who also figures out the total amount of grains of rice that would be given over the full 64 days.

My children love this book and now my math students love it as well. Check it out at your library or buy it for your own home library and I guarantee you will love it! Make sure you add in a proud and loud voice for the king and you are assured read-aloud success!

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book bonanza – nick of time

Jul 22, 2010 by


We have been listening to this book on our travels this week and are loving it! We tried listening to it about a year ago and we liked it then, but we never finished it. The girls begged to check it out again, so we gave it another shot and this time around it is fabulous.

Isn’t it interesting how sometimes it isn’t the right time for a book? We change, we grow, we have different needs, different perceptions, and then, all of a sudden, it IS the right time for said book. I am really hoping that happens for me this year with Pride and Predjudice, as I have started it umpteen times and it has never clicked for me in the past.

Back to Nick of Time…this book is set in 1939 England, right on the cusp of WWII, and the hero of the book, twelve-year-old Nick MacGyver, is a lighthouse keeper’s son who loves to sail his little boat, Petrol, all through the reefs of Gravestone Cove. His father is also part of a group of English citizens collecting information about German air and sea activities and passing it on to Churchill. The German U-Boat, Alpha-33, is patrolling Nick’s coves, searching for Lord Hawke and his illustrious inventor, Commander Hobbes. Things turn dicey when the U-Boat actually captures Commander Hobbes and Nick’s six-year-old sister, Kate. Leonardo Da Vinci’s time machine shows up on Nick’s beach with a letter from Nick’s Great-Grandfather pleading with Nick to travel through time back to the Napoleonic Wars to help him win a battle with everyone’s enemy, William Blood, who has another of Da Vinci’s time machines and uses it to travel through time kidnapping children, stealing great treasures, amassing a fortune, and terrifying people all over the world and throughout all time.

Sounds gripping? Yes, it is! I highly recommend the audio version because the voices are done fabulously well and you will fall in love with little Katie the first time you hear her speak and tremble with fear at Blood’s threatenings. It isn’t too scary for Fisher at age five, but it is hard to know how much he has really been paying attention to it, and it is completely fascinating for this mama who loves mysteries, WWII history, and anything with the heroes using science to win the battle for good vs. evil.

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book bonanza-rise to rebellion

Jul 6, 2010 by

For the last few weeks I have been reading the book Rise to Rebellion by Jeff Shaara. He is also the author of Gone for Soldiers, Gods and Generals, and The Last Full Measure. His father is Michael Shaara who wrote The Killer Angels, which I also loved.

Rise to Rebellion covers the period of time from 1770 to 1776 from both the colonists and the British points of view. It looks in depth at four men and their experiences: John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Gage. This book was so wonderful I want to read it every June in preparation of Independence Day. If I don’t do that, I will at least be reading a history book from that time period because it was an amazing experience to delve into the history and miracle of this country while celebrating our nation’s birthday.

This book allowed me to understand the British perspective which is something I have never been able to do. It also shed light on the loyal-to-the-crown colonial viewpoint. I walk away from this book a more well-rounded person because now I can see where each of the various groups were coming from and what beliefs drove their behavior. Instead of being infuriated with Dickinson from Pennsylvania, who resisted going to war till the very end, I am able to appreciate his earnestness in articulating his cause for reconciliation. Instead of being disgusted with King George, I am able to see a man stuck in the middle of a mess with an unruly Parliament, colonists he couldn’t understand, and treasury shortages he needed rectified in short order. It was thrilling to witness the evolution of John Adams from his early years as an unknown lawyer into a statesman who was able to convince people of the rightness of the path of independence through his logic and oratory skills. I developed mercy for the Tories and increased my love of the radicals. I am more grateful for the hand of God in the establishment of this great country.

I can’t wait to read book two and the rest of the story of the Revolution – A Glorious Cause. Anyone want to join me?

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book bonanza – welcome with love

May 12, 2010 by

I have been attending births this month – two so far with one more to go – so birth is on my mind. I want to share one of my favorite birth books with you. Welcome With Love by Jenni Overand and illustrated by Julie Vivas is a delight to the eyes and heart. The artwork is colorful and portrays a laboring and birthing mama quite accurately, especially those who birth outside of the hospital with all its tubes, gowns, uncomfortable beds, and machines beeping in the background. The birth story is told from the perspective of the big brother, Jack, who is around the age of five in my estimation. He talks about the noises his “mum” makes, the walking, dancing with dad, and groaning that is going on all in a calm, matter of fact manner that teaches that while birth is a special event it is also a normal part of life. His mum proceeds to give birth holding on to dad with their midwife catching and the older sisters watching and welcoming the new little one. At the end of the story the family curls up together in front of the fire and mum drinks and drinks some more while explaining to Jack “thirsty work having babies.” Indeed it is! I prefer homemade popsicles during labor made with R.W. Knudson’s Morning Blend juice and cannot get enough of them when I am bringing a baby into this world.

Welcome With Love

This book is not available for a reasonable price any longer, but it is published in Australia under the name Hello Baby. Hopefully you can find it at your local library or in a thrift store. Mine is missing at the moment after it got lent to a client and not returned…big mistake since it is now over $200 at (Hello Baby in hardcover is $969.00 – how on earth can a book that sold for around $15 now be worth 969 buckaroos?). If you find two cheap copies, pick them both up and I will buy one from you!

This lovely treasure conveys the beauty and simplicity of birth in a family setting with soothing words, gentle illustrations, and the wonder of a boy experiencing it for the first time. I hope you love it just as much as we do.

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book bonanza – just rewards

Feb 10, 2010 by

Just Rewards

The full title of this book is Just Rewards or Who Is That Man in the Moon and What’s He Doing Up There Anyway?, but that is too long to put up there in the title of my post, don’t ya think?

This has been one of our favorites for years. We first heard it at storytime at the Treehouse Children’s Museum in Ogden, UT back in the days when we were frequent visitors to that magical place. The storyteller was fabulous – his voice was dramatic and brought the characters to life. The illustrations are soft and folksy; they speak volumes and aren’t in the way of the story at all. We immediately came home and started checking it out from the library. We have checked it out over and over again. We shared it with our favorite Childrens Librarian so she could use it in her storytime.

One word of caution: this book begs to be told with a very kind voice and a very greedy voice. Children will love the different voices you come up with and will want you to read it repeatedly with the same voices, so choose a voice you can duplicate for the next twenty years or so.

The story teaches the consequences of our behavior in a funny and outrageous way so that the lesson sinks in enough to get children thinking, but not in a way that encourages shame or self-punishing thoughts by the child. Go find it at your local library and you may have to buy it just like we eventually did…

Today our very own copy came in the mail! I found a great used copy for .01 from a goodwill store in Connecticut and after paying 3.99 in shipping, it was mailed to us lickety-split.

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book bonanza – grammar help

Feb 2, 2010 by

My friend, Nancy, has a talented son-in-law, who has written a hilarious, easily understandable grammar book. It is called I Laid an Egg on Aunt Ruth’s Head. I just read the two sample chapters online tonight and I can already tell I will need to buy this book. I love it!


The author has this to say:

Whether she is flying a fighter jet, outwitting a dangerous bank robber, walking a tightrope with her pet elephant Binky, or traveling to sixteenth century Italy in a time machine, Aunt Ruth takes the reader on one adventure after another. During the course of her adventures, Aunt Ruth encounters and struggles with myriad grammatical and usage difficulties with the English language. In a clean, humorous, and family friendly style, Joel Schnoor’s stories will leave you rolling on the floor and will answer those nauseating English questions at the same time.

There is a separate workbook for those of you that love things like that:

Each chapter in I Laid an Egg on Aunt Ruth’s Head is represented with one or more pages of questions and exercises in Aunt Ruth Grammar Drills for Excellence. The answers to the questions are (of course) provided as well. These worksheets are fun, entertaining, and thorough.

Aunt Ruth Grammar Drills for Excellence ships as a PDF file on a CD or as a set of printed sheets (looseleaf, 3-hole punched). This item may not be resold.

Buy one CD or one set of printed sheets for the family and make as many copies as you need (for use within the family). Teachers, buy one for your classroom and make copies for your class.

Until I save up my pennies to buy this book, I will be enjoying the author’s blog with his posts on all things grammatical.

For those of you looking for a fabulous punctuation read, check out Eats, Shoots, and Leaves. It is one of my favorite books and writing this blog makes me realize I need to re-read it to remind myself of all those punctuation rules.

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book bonanza – under the chinaberry tree

Jan 25, 2010 by

Under the Chinaberry Tree

Ohhhh, what a delight this book is! I could snuggle up with it and read and read and read. In fact, I have been doing just that.

This book is chock-full of reviews of children’s books, parenting tips, recipes, experiences from the authors’ lives, and simple quaintness.

It is a treasure trove of ideas of wonderful books you will want to share with your children. I have a whole list of them on hold at my local library and can’t wait to discover them with my little ones.

The authors’ focus is on books that speak to the soul of a child, are beautifully illustrated, send messages of family, hope, love, service, connectedness, how to be human, and a delight to read again and again. Many of the books that are reviewed we already have on our bookshelves, but there are hundreds more we will now be checking out on our weekly library visits. We will post our favorite here…but don’t wait for us, get this book today so you can have it at your fingertips.

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book bonanza – the quiltmaker’s gift

Jan 5, 2010 by

I adore books. I treasure them. I collect them. I love, love, love to share them with others. I have done a few book spotlights on here, but not as many as I would like…mostly because I haven’t had a central theme for them. I want my book spotlights to have a name and I haven’t been able to think of one…yet.

I am going to try out “Book Bonanza.” Bonanza means “A rich mine, vein, or pocket of ore. A source of great wealth or prosperity.” Isn’t that exactly what a great book is?

So, here is my first official Book Bonanza.


The Quiltmaker’s Gift is one of our favorite books. We love it for many reasons: beautiful artwork, fabulous storyline, teaching of morals, and powerful lessons.

The story is about a selfish king who demands gifts be brought to him for his birthday twice a year. He has lists of lists of lists of stuff he owns and none of it brings him joy. He hears about a quiltmaker who makes beautiful creations and sends an army to get one of her quilts because surely that will bring him joy…right? And thus starts his journey to true happiness as he learns that giving and serving are what make our hearts sing.

I have been reading this book to Blythe since she was about two or three (we love the prequel The Quiltmaker’s Journey just as much) and over the years she has given away many of her favorite things just as she learned from these pages. At times, I have had to stop myself from trying to talk her out of giving something really precious away because I knew why she was doing it and that giving it away would make her the person I hoped she would be instead of someone obsessed with holding on to worldly possessions.

I remember when Blythe was three and four we had an elderly neighbor and Blythe loved walking down the road to her home and taking her presents. Sometimes they would be drawings or flowers, but a few times she picked out a favorite book or a prized necklace to take to her. This dear woman loved Blythe’s little gifts. Once she asked Blythe why she was giving her them and Blythe told her the whole story of the selfish king and how he had to learn from the quiltmaker where happiness comes from. She went on and on and on making sure that her friend understood all about the king and his greedy ways and how when he gave all his things away he was happy through and through.

Truly a book to treasure!

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