A is for Audra

Bringing light to the glowing ladies of the stage, this week’s read by John Robert Allman and Peter Emmerich.

Summary: What easier way to learn about the glittering stars of Broadway’s fascinating history than with an ABC primer for children? Featuring such women as Barbara Streisand, Lea Salonga, and more, this delightfully illustrated picture book counts down some of the most famous names in musicals past. For adults and children alike this is a delightful way to either be introduced to or connect to the world of musical theater – and the stars that populate it. From modern femme fatales to classic screwballs, there are plenty of unique roles and talented performers who filled them to discover, whether this is your first time encountering them or not.

My Thoughts: Charmingly illustrated with a pleasing color palette, this is a read that is enjoyable to look at as well as read. As a mild fan of musicals, especially classic ones, this was a gem of a read, a clever way to introduce younger readers to the theater. I definitely recommend it.

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Amazing Decisions

This week we’re reading a nonfiction read that is both entertaining and informative. Adults, teens, and children alike can enjoy this book – Amazing Decisions: The Illustrated Guide to Improving Business Deals and Family Meals by Dan Ariely and Matt Trower – that helps them to navigate the world in a clearer way.

Summary: Ever found yourself wondering how to decide on a gift for that hard to pick for friend? Or what do you do to incentivize employees? Better yet, what do you do as the employee? Have to hire someone for babysitting or need to sign a contract? Dan Ariely crafts a quick-paced story molded around basic economic and social principles that makes learning fun. Through the clever everyman character Adam, readers will learn how to truly make the best decisions and how to view everyday choices with clarity and wisdom. Are they trying to get a social exchange? A monetary investment? Both sides have their place – but do you know them? Written with wit and illustrated in a charmingly simple graphic style that keeps the attention focused on the lesson, Amazing Decisions is a book that’s well worth your time and effort.

I truly enjoyed this one and found myself having learned at least a few tips on how to manage everyday life. It’s amazing how much we don’t think about in everyday life and how much this volume teaches that could be put into practice.

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Tis the Season Day 25

We’ve reached Christmas Day! I can’t picture any better story to read this holiday than the most important one of all:

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

We can’t thank God enough for what he’s done for us. This is only the beginning of the greatest story ever told, but it is a powerful one. Whether you are Christian or not – though I’d hope you’d come into a loving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ – one can hardly deny the power of this mythos. Few stories can match the grandeur of such a birth which would lead to an even deeper story of forgiveness, compassion, and love.

Merry Christmas everyone! May you be warm, filled, and blessed by family and friends.

 

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Tis the Season – Day 24

Merry Christmas season everyone! To celebrate all the holiday festivities, every day in December I’m posting a review on a Christmas book. I hope you all join me this December to enjoy some fun and seasonal cheer.

Santa and Joe have a great relationship. Joe is very specific with what he wants and Santa always complies. Like with the fire-engine-red car he wanted a few years ago and Santa came through…mostly. But this year, Joe was very, very specific. What he wants this year most of all is a penguin! And on Christmas Day when Joe gets his penguin, Osbert, he couldn’t be happier! That is, he’s happy until he realizes how hard it is to be a best friend and companion to someone who loves the freezing cold, pickled fish for breakfast, and ice-cold baths. So Joe writes one more letter to Santa to thank him for listening to what he wants – and to fix everything up for Osbert just right in his new home.

My Penguin Osbert is a really fun book to read. Written by Elizabeth Cody Kimmell and illustrated by H.B. Lewis, this story will be fun for kids to read, especially if they harbor some imaginative Christmas wishes themselves. The narrative is cute and easy to follow and the pictures are colorful and childlike. Pick up My Penguin Osbert for some winter laughs before the end of the holidays!

QoTD: I’m probably asking for my own head, but which are cuter: penguins or polar bears?

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Tis the Season – Day 23

Merry Christmas season everyone! To celebrate all the holiday festivities, every day in December I’m posting a review on a Christmas book. I hope you all join me this December to enjoy some fun and seasonal cheer.

We all know the pain of losing a loved one and how hard finding things to celebrate can be after they are gone. The Christmas Thingamajig tells the story of a small family as they try to find the joy of Christmas after Chloe’s grandma is no longer around to spend it with them. Though Grandpa is still around, it’s not the same without Grandma’s goofy traditions and all her old “thingamajigs” that she can make out of anything. Chloe can’t bear being in the same house and trying to make Christmas when Christmas won’t ever be the same again – that is, until Grandpa shares a lesson on what it means to let go of the people we love while still remembering all the best times shared.

Written sweetly by Lynn Manuel and illustrated quaintly by Carol Benioff, The Christmas Thingamajig is a great story to share with children when going through a loss or just discovering what it means to make new traditions. I liked the way the tale was told and found the ending to be satisfying and bittersweet. I recommend having a laugh-out-loud book to read after you finish this, as you might find yourself feeling a little sad and sentimental after finishing.

QoTD:What’s your best pick-me-up after reading something sad?

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Tis the Season – Day 22

Merry Christmas season everyone! To celebrate all the holiday festivities, every day in December I’m posting a review on a Christmas book. I hope you all join me this December to enjoy some fun and seasonal cheer.

How Santa Lost His Job tells the tale of one Christmas long ago when the elves became fed up with all the time it takes Santa to do everything. So they devised a plan. They are going to come up with the ultimate gift-giver. Something that can completely and totally replace the time that it will take for Santa to take his Christmas bath, pull on his boots, and get fully ready to leave. To give him a fair chance though, they hold a contest. Who can get Christmas done faster? Unfortunately though, Santa isn’t up to par to the machine that the elves have created. His workers are sure they’ve found a great substitute! But when Christmas rolls around and starts to become a disaster, the elves realize they may have been a little hasty. Do they have time to fix Christmas before it becomes a full-blown disaster?

This was a fun read that I think many children will enjoy. Santa losing his job? Horrors! This is going to be fun to enjoy in front of the tree or in front of the fireplace. I recommend picking this up at your local library in time for the holidays.

QoTD: Would you want to be Santa Claus?

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Tis the Season – Day 21

Merry Christmas season everyone! To celebrate all the holiday festivities, every day in December I’m posting a review on a Christmas book. I hope you all join me this December to enjoy some fun and seasonal cheer.

You may think you know the story of Santa Claus, but do you know the story of Papa Noel? As the story goes, kids up north may call him Santa, and kids in England may call him Father Christmas, and kids in France may call him Pere Noel, but down south, they call him Papa Noel. On this particular Christmas night, Papa Noel is prepared to make his annual journey to deliver gifts to all the good little Cajun girls and boys – but the fog is so thick! Even with the help of his trusty magic alligator, Nicolette, Papa Noel is not sure he’ll make it. That is, until the Cajun people prove just how hardy they are. Papa Noel will make it this Christmas after all!

This is a cute and well-illustrated story. Definitely not your average Santa in a red suit tale. It’s rather fun and original and something I think kids will like. I recommend this read.

QoTD: Christmas in summer or Independence Day in winter?

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Tis The Season – Day 20

Merry Christmas season everyone! To celebrate all the holiday festivities, every day in December I’m posting a review on a Christmas book. I hope you all join me this December to enjoy some fun and seasonal cheer.

To follow up from yesterday’s story, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, we have Rudolph Shines Again, the sequel to the original classic. Once again illustrated by Antonio Javier Caparo, this story follows Rudolph as he suffers the woes of being part of Santa’s sleigh team. Once more he is tormented, but this time it isn’t on account of his red nose. Being the youngest member of the team and merely a “flying flashlight”, it seems he can’t help but be resented. And as the pressure mounts and he wallows in self-pity, his nose slowly loses its shine! So Rudolph decides to escape, so he can’t disappoint Santa on Christmas Eve. But when his help is needed, Rudolph finds the courage to shine again – and do something for others that reminds him of the Christmas spirit.

This is a well-illustrated tale and once I really enjoyed reading. I don’t know how many people know about the existence of a sequel, but it is definitely worth enjoying once. I’ve always wondered what happened to Rudolph after that famous first flight and this was an interesting read. I recommend you read it – after picking up the original, of course!

QoTD: Coldest it’s ever gotten where you live?

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Tis the Season – Day 19

Merry Christmas season everyone! To celebrate all the holiday festivities, every day in December I’m posting a review on a Christmas book. I hope you all join me this December to enjoy some fun and seasonal cheer.

You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen…but do you know the original story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? Since the 1930’s, Robert L. May’s original classic has been delighting Christmas celebrators all over America and today I’m reviewing a recently illustrated version that was released to celebrate Rudolph’s 75th anniversary! You might think you know the tale as it is told in the 1964, but this is the tale as it was first told. He created Rudolph back in 1939 at the request of the Montgomery Ward department stores so they could sell a Christmas story to consumers. What followed was one of the most enduring holiday stories of all time, made only more popular by Gene Autry singing the song.

Fans of the cartoon or the traditional tale will enjoy this version. It is as well-told as ever and is definitely something to read as a family. This rendition is especially beautiful as it is well-illustrated by Antonio Javier Caparo. His art has graced this story and brought his own unique style to the older Christmas story. I highly recommend you pick up, if not this version of the story, one of them to enjoy with your family.

QoTD: A big red nose or a snowman’s body?

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Tis the Season – Day 18

Merry Christmas season everyone! To celebrate all the holiday festivities, every day in December I’m posting a review on a Christmas book. I hope you all join me this December to enjoy some fun and seasonal cheer.

The Third Gift follows a boy and his father as they work in their trade, collecting the “tears” of trees. This precious commodity, commonly known as myrrh, is hard to obtain and it is a family skill to be able to find large and beautiful pieces of such tears. The narrator, the boy himself, tells us of his father’s lessons on how to find a proper tear and how one special day they find a very large tear. This tear is sold to three men, searching for a babe. The tears, commonly used for funeral purposes, will be presented to this baby when found. Through the eyes of the young boy, we see a different perspective of the first Christmas, the Magi, and the gifts given to the baby Jesus.

I enjoyed this book for many reasons. For one thing, it was a very unique view of the traditional Christmas story that had nothing to do with the birth of Christ and more with the treasures gifted Him. The author gives the readers a note in the back of the book on both the history of myrrh and how intriguing it is that this was one of the gifts given to Jesus, a symbol of his future death and the fact that myrrh was used to mourn the death of one who was beloved. It is a well-told and illustrated tale that definitely has something to teach the reader.

QoTD: what is your favorite scent of Christmas candle? My favorites tend to be the tree scents, like evergreen and spruce.

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