Category Archives: Mostly About Reading

The 50 best children’s books of 2015, says PW

I like lists.

When it comes to books, I’m always interested in reading lists of what other people think are the best or worst, or the most highly acclaimed, and so on. Sometimes I make purchase decisions from those lists, usually after I’ve read reviews. (I’ve created a list for you HERE of the books I’ve reviewed.)

This week I read the lists compiled by Publishers Weekly of their opinion of the best children’s books of 2015. They selected fifty books: 17 Picture Books, 15 Middle Grade, and 18 Young Adult. I received permission from them to share those lists with you here, then if you want to read up on any of them yourself you can go THERE and read the full review of each book. Some even have Q & A with the author, or other interesting information.


  1. The Princess and the Pony – by Kate Beaton (Scholastic/Levine)
  2. The Day the Crayons Came Home – by Drew Daywalt, illus. by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel)
  3. Last Stop on Market Street – by Matt de la Peña, illus. by Christian Robinson (Putnam)
  4. This Bridge Will Not Be Gray – by Dave Eggers, illus. by Tucker Nichols (McSweeney’s)
  5. Home – by Carson Ellis (Candlewick)
  6. The Night World – by Mordicai Gerstein (Little, Brown)
  7. The Only Child – by Guojing (Random/Schwartz & Wade)
  8. Waiting – by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow)
  9. The King and the Sea – by Heinz Janisch, illus. by Wolf Erlbruch (Gecko Press USA)
  10. Toys Meet Snow – by Emily Jenkins, illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky (Random/Schwartz & Wade)
  11. Sidewalk Flowers – by JonArno Lawson, illus. by Sydney Smith (Groundwood)
  12. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear – by Lindsay Mattick, illus. by Sophie Blackall (Little, Brown)
  13. Thank You and Good Night – by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown)
  14. Flutter and Hum: Animal Poems/Aleteo y Zumbido: Poemas de Animales – by Julie Paschkis (Holt)
  15. Lenny & Lucy – by Philip C. Stead, illus. by Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook/Porter)
  16. The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have – by Edward van de Vendel, illus. by Anton Van Hertbruggen (Eerdmans)
  17. Leo: A Ghost Story – by Mac Barnett, illus. by Christian Robinson (Chronicle)


  1. My Diary from the Edge of the World – by Jodi Lynn Anderson (S&S/Aladdin)
  2. The Thing About Jellyfish – by Ali Benjamin (Little, Brown)
  3. The War That Saved My Life – by Kim Brubaker Bradley (Dial)
  4. George – by Alex Gino (Scholastic Press)
  5. Lost in the Sun – by Lisa Graff (Philomel)
  6. Roller Girl – by Victoria Jamieson (Dial)
  7. Listen, Slowly – by Thanhhà Lai (Harper)
  8. Friends for Life – by Andrew Norriss (Scholastic/Fickling)
  9. The Nest – by Kenneth Oppel, illus. by Jon Klassen (Simon & Schuster)
  10. Echo – by Pam Muñoz Ryan (Scholastic Press)
  11. Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War – by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook)
  12. Orbiting Jupiter – by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion)
  13. The Marvels – by Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press)
  14. Goodbye Stranger – by Rebecca Stead (Random/Lamb)
  15. Harriet the Invincible – by Ursula Vernon (Dial)


  1. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – by Becky Albertalli (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)
  2. Becky Albertalli (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)
  3. A Song for Ella Grey- by David Almond (Delacorte)
  4. Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad -byM.T. Anderson (Candlewick)
  5. The Game of Love and Death – by Martha Brockenbrough (Scholastic/Levine)
  6. Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans – by Don Brown (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  7. Saint Anything – by Sarah Dessen (Viking)
  8. Magonia – by Maria Dahvana Headley (Harper)
  9. All the Bright Places – by Jennifer Niven (Knopf)
  10. Shadowshaper – by Daniel José Older (Scholastic/Levine)
  11. The Shepherd’s Crown – by Terry Pratchett (Harper)
  12. All American Boys – by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely (S&S/Atheneum/Dlouhy)
  13. Bone Gap – by Laura Ruby (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray)
  14. The Hired Girl – by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick)
  15. X: A Novel – by Ilyasah Shabazz, with Kekla Magoon (Candlewick)
  16. Challenger Deep – by Neal Shusterman (HarperTeen)
  17. Nimona – by Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen)
  18. Trouble Is a Friend of Mine – by Stephanie Tromly (Penguin/Dawson)
  19. MARTians – by Blythe Woolston (Candlewick)

I hope these lists help make your book buying a little easier … or, if you’re anything like me, they’ll just make you aware of even more books you simply must have!

Thanks to Publishers Weekly for permission to share their lists for you to see.

I almost am embarrassed to admit I’ve not read any of the above books yet. How about you? Which ones have you read? Which ones do you now want to read, or gift to someone?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)



Last day to vote & help this high-needs school get books!

My post today will be short and …. pleading.

On September 26 I told you about the challenge to get books for the little elementary school – Gaspereau Valley Elementary – all my children attended, and now my grandson goes there.

This school – grades P-5 – has 130 children, which means the goal is to reach is 130 books. Currently we only have 76! That puts us a long way off from reaching the mark and the opportunity to win so much more. Will you help us?

Chapters Indigo is generously committed to this challenge and is contributing the books donated at no cost to you. PLEASE HELP! It’s the last day to give this high-needs school the books it needs; you only have to go here and VOTE


Of course, there is the option to actually contribute $12 to purchase one book which also equals 10 votes! Would you consider that? No worries if not, but Please vote today. That costs you nothing but a few minutes. And if you do decide to buy a book (using paypal or credit card on their secure server) then please vote first and donate second. That allows one more vote than if you were to do it the other way around.

Thank you so much … and please urge your friends to vote as well. This is the last day of the challenge, and you can vote from anywhere and anonymously if you prefer.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

27 most famous banned, censored, or challenged books (Banned Books Week)

Today is the last day of Banned Books Week.  I didn’t want to let it slip by without mention, so here is a list of some of the most famous books that have been banned, censored, or challenged at some time.

  1. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn – by Mark Twain
  2. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – by Anne Frank
  3. The Arabian Nights – by Mahsin Mahdi
  4. Awakening – by Kate Chopin
  5. Bell Jar – by Sylvia Plath
  6. Brave New World – by Aldous Huxley
  7. Call of the Wild – by Jack London
  8. The Color Purple – by Alice Walker
  9. Candide – by Voltaire
  10. Catcher in the Rye – by J.D. Salinger
  11. Fahrenheit 451 – by Ray Bradbury
  12. Grapes of Wrath – by John Steinbeck
  13. Gulliver’s Travels – by Jonathan Swift
  14. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – by Maya Angelou
  15. James and the Giant Peach – by Roald Dahl
  16. Lady Chatterley’s Lover – by D.H. Lawrence
  17. A Light in the Attic – by Shel Silverstein
  18. Lord of the Flies – by William Golding
  19. Madame Bovary – by Gustave Flaubert
  20. Moll Flanders – by Daniel Defoe
  21. Of Mice and Men – by John Steinbeck
  22. The Scarlet Letter – by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  23. Song of Solomon – by Toni Morrison
  24. To Kill a Mockingbird – by Harper Lee
  25. Ulysses – by James Joyce
  26. Uncle Tom’s Cabin – by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  27. A Wrinkle in Time – by Madeleine D’Engle
banned books
Now, confession time:
I have not read 21 of the books on this list, but 6 of those 21 are in my TBR stash. Of the ones “to be read” I have read part of 2 books (and will complete them). This means so far I have read completely only 6 of the 27 listed here.
It’s hard to accept why some books are banned, or censored, or challenged. It’s hard to avoid life, the natural way of some things, and shared expression.
Here are three of the above books on which I’ll comment.
  • I loved Madeleine D’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, regardless of the “objectionable” things she included in her fantasy novel.
  • I loved the movie To Kill a Mockingbird and equally enjoyed the book, even though there are racial issues. But that was the way of the time, the same as in Gone With the Wind (not included in this list but also challenged); it doesn’t mean I feel that way. I will not read Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, though, as it will undoubtedly spoil To Kill the Mockingbird for me in revealing more racial issues than I care to read for entertainment.
  • It is fully understandable why there was an outcry (and still is) about Catcher in the Rye, due to the constant use of profanity of Salinger’s main character. Some people are not bothered by that.

Now, it’s your turn.

  • What do you want to share about the list of 27 books?
  • Do you purposely search out books that have been banned or censored or challenged?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Book Review: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl – by Anne Frank

Anne Frank - The Diary of a Young GirlBook: Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
Author: Anne Frank
Publisher: Listening Library (Audio) 
Date: May 25, 2010)
Genre: Memoir; historical non-fiction
Pages: audio
Price: prices vary according to what format you want
My Rating: raw, real, tragic

I  “read” this book through and enjoyed listening to Selma Blair’s reading of it. Her voice and tone made it believable as that of a young girl.

Anne Frank was a writer, not officially, but a very good one who knew how to express herself well through the written word. Anne shared everything that was going through her teenage mind, all her worries, hopes, frustrations, desires,  fears, imaginings. She was a young girl struggling with her emotions in an abnormal way of living, while trying to be brave and making plans for her uncertain future. Anne’s relating of all she and the seven others in hiding with her had to deal with to survive for over two years in a small space was well recorded in what was, at first, to be a private diary. Of course, it would quickly become a stressful situation for them with many different personalities trying to share together. It was a horrible time for them, never sure they were going to be safe until the end of the war or if they would be found out. Unfortunately, it was the latter.

Imagine living in a few rooms with seven other people, both male and female, and not having a toilet that always worked, not being able to flush or run water or play music after a certain time each day because of the fear of being heard. Imagine outgrowing the clothes you were able to bring with you, or them wearing out, and having to make do because you can’t possibly go out to buy more. Imagine the few people knowing where you are risking their own lives to help you survive. Imagine being able to peek outside but never go out, and living in an attic space in the heat of summer without air conditioning. Imagine your food supply running out or rotting – and eating what you can of it anyway – or there being so little left you have hardly enough for everyone until more can be sneaked to you. Imagine being afraid and suspicious every time you hear a sudden loud noise; hearing bombers flying over; afraid the burglars who, at night are breaking into seemingly empty buildings, will discover you by accident. Imagine … life during a war, having to hide from almost everyone, including friends.

In her diary, Anne Frank expressed her thoughts regarding everything from her annoyances over petty things, to her hatred of her mother, to her sexuality –  graphic descriptions included. That last point makes this unabridged version not as much one for young readers unless approved by parents.

Anne’s diary ended abruptly, as – with no warning – her short life again changed drastically. If you want to know what it was like for Jews (and others) having to be in hiding during World War II, this book gives much detail of life from the inside of that.

You can find Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)


Please adopt this school and help them get books!

Hi, Everybody! I seldom ask you for anything but today is an exception.

This morning it’s on my heart to try to do more to help the little local elementary school where my husband attended (never mind how long ago that was), and where in later years all our four daughters started their education in the system. 

There is a fundraiser challenge going on for high-needs schools, but only for a few more days — don’t worry! I’m not asking you for money — through which schools can win books. BOOKS! Books are so important and funding is inadequate to provide what the school needs, as I’m sure you realize is the case for many schools.


PLEASE, would you kindly click HERE to go to Adopt a School and once there click on ADOPT A SCHOOL.  At some point on the site you may have to sign up but it’s safe and not tying you into anything unless you want to opt in for updates or something. It is simply to record your votes.

Follow the links on there. Where you see ‘search for your school’ look at the list and click on NS (Nova Scotia). That will take you to the list of schools in NS that are taking part in this challenge. You will see Gaspereau Valley Elementary School – currently at the bottom of the far right column.  That’s the one you want. Click on it and that takes you to where you can vote. OR you can donate money to buy books if you want to – every $12 buys 10 votes!

Here’s ‘the thing’: the top three schools with the most adopts win books. Gaspereau Valley Elementary is a small school up against some much bigger ones, so there are fewer people voting. As I write this GVE ranks 11th on the list of 28 NS schools. PLEASE VOTE and help us make top three! Our children love to read and very much need more BOOKS for their library. It doesn’t have to cost you anything but a minute a day. 


The challenge is running from September 20 – October 10. Here is the page explaining how it works. PLEASE HELP. VOTE EVERY DAY

I thank you from the bottom of my heart. :)

Do you enjoy helping with things like this?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Book Review: You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes – by Chris Hadfield

You Are Here
Book: You Are Here: Around the World 
in 92 Minutes: Photos from the 
International Space Station
Author: Chris Hadfield
Publisher: Random House Canada
Date: October 14, 2014
Genre: Arts and Photography
Pages: 208
Price: Hardcover: US $26; CDN $29.95;
       Kindle: US $13.35; CDN $15.99
My Rating: Sensational, stirring, amazing photography!

This is one of those books that easily qualifies as a coffee table book because you hate to hide it away on a book shelf. The photography in it is truly “out of this world.”

As you may recall, I am a fan of astronaut Chris Hadfield. He is among the very few famous people I greatly admire, so I was thrilled when my nephew gifted me his book, You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photos from the International Space Station. I love it! It is full of the magnificent photos Chris Hadfield took during his last mission – from December 2012 to May 2013 – on the International Space Station. His view of the world from way out there was captured in many amazing shots. Out of the approximately 45,000 photos he took, the ones in this book are some of his favourites, most never seen before.

The book is divided into chapters:

  • Africa
  • Europe
  • Asia
  • Oceania
  • North America
  • South America

Each section gives us a perspective only attained from space combined with Chris Hadfield‘s wonderful way of explaining what we’re seeing. At the end of the book is a photo location map. “Every photo’s page number is pinned to the corresponding location on a world map.”  (quoted from page 194) It is fun to go back and look at the photo that matches up with the number on the map.

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photos from the International Space Station is such a beautiful book. It’s one I urge you to purchase, if only to get a better grasp of our mysterious and wondrous planet. You will be awed.

You can find You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photos from the International Space Station listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!

Book Review: Audrey (Cow) – by Dan Bar-El

Audrey (Cow)Book: Audrey (Cow)
Author: Dan Bar-El
Illustrator: Tatjana Mai-Wyss
Publisher: Tundra Books
Date: November 11, 2014
Genre: children's fiction; 
action & adventure; animals 
Pages: 240
Price: hardcover $19.99 US, 
$21.99 CDN;
kindle $10.63 US, $11.99 CDN
My Rating: Entertaining, 
wonderfully uniquely told story 
of determination and friendship
in the face of challenges

I received this book from Library Thing in exchange for my honest review.

Audrey (Cow), by Canadian award-winning children’s author Dan Bar-El, is an entertaining children’s book that adults will want an excuse to read.

The first things you will notice about this book is its size, hard cover, and great illustrations. It’s built like a novel with large print, the illustrations by Tatyana Mai-Wyss are delightful  – in colour on the jacket, black and white throughout the book – and its first recommendation is by Doris the deer.  Yes, a deer.

Audrey (Cow).3Interested?  It is an unusual approach and carries the story all the way through.

It seems in real life there was a cow in Ohio that escaped the slaughterhouse in Ohio in 2002. Her experience inspired Dan Bar-El to write the story of Audrey (Cow).

Audrey enjoyed her life on the farm with her mother and many animal friends. The one thing she dreaded was the big truck that would arrive every so often onto which would be loaded a few select cows. They would never return. Everyone knew what happened. Her own mother was taken that way. Audrey was determined to not end up the same way when she was grown and set about to devise a plan of escape, enlisting the help of her animal friends.

Audrey (Cow) is an amusing story told from the viewpoints of the animal characters through interviews. Each has its own individual personality, opinion, and contribution to the escapade. There even are humans unwittingly used to help.

Audrey (Cow) reads like a mild thriller and is a great adventure story. It’s a safe read for children, holds one’s attention, and gives the reader a sense of satisfaction. 

As I said, Audrey (Cow) is an entertaining children’s book that adults will want an excuse to read. No children to read it to? Never mind the excuse; read it anyway!

You can find Audrey (Cow) on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)