Noah’s Reading – July 2008

July 31, 2008 Categories: Books , Homeschooling | Comments Off  

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Natalie’s Reading – July 2008

Categories: Books , Homeschooling | Comments Off  

Nancy Drew and the Clue on the Silver Screen by “Carolyn Keene”
Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke
The Ultimate Babysitter’s Handbook by Debra Mostow Zakarin
Bad Times, Big Crimes (Nancy Drew: All New Girl Detective #14) by “Carolyn Keene”
En Garde (Nancy Drew: All New Girl Detective #17) by “Carolyn Keene”
Secret of the Spa (Nancy Drew: All New Girl Detective #9) by “Carolyn Keene”
Dangerous Plays (Nancy Drew: All New Girl Detective #16) by “Carolyn Keene”
The Wish List by Eoin Colfer
The Stolen Relic (Nancy Drew: All New Girl Detective #7) by “Carolyn Keene”

Read Alouds – July 2008

Categories: Books , Homeschooling | Comments Off  

Eric Liddell: Something Greater Than Gold by Geoff and Janet Benge
Crispin: Cross of Iron by Avi
Poetry Speaks to Children
The Toy Brother by William Steig
Squids Will Be Squids: Fresh Morals, Beastly Fables by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith
Snow in Jerusalem by Deborah da Costa
The Frog Prince, Continued by John Scieszka

Review – and GIVEAWAY – of Tomato Sawyer & Huckleberry Larry’s Big River Rescue

July 28, 2008 Categories: Contests | 150 Comments  

Be sure to go check out the mondo-long list of giveaways at Bloggy Giveaways!

(Veggie Tales: Tomato Sawyer & Huckleberry Larry’s Big River Rescue was provided to me by Special Ops Media for the purpose of this review and giveaway.)


“Take a little trippy down the Mighty Mississippi!” Tomato Sawyer and Huckleberry Larry’s life on the lazy river takes a turn for adventure when they help a stranger in need. With unexpected twists around every bend, they discover that while helping others may not be the easiest thing to do, it’s always the right thing to do!

The Veggies are back with this tale loosely based on Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I won’t say this ranks up there with my favorite Veggie Tales, but the kids enjoyed it. And the really cool thing is that the nice folks at Special Ops Media have sent me an extra copy to give away to one lucky reader!

Here’s how to enter:

1. This giveaway is open to all readers in Canada and the US. Sorry to any foreign readers, but I’m paying for shipping myself. :)

2. Leave a comment on this post for one entry.

3. For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway, with a link to this post. Then drop me an e-mail at nnjmom at yahoo dot com with the link to your post.

4. Since I’m leaving on Sunday for a week’s vacation, I’ll leave this open until 11:59 pm PST Sunday, August 3rd. I’ll draw a winner sometime Monday, August 4th.

Bye for now

July 26, 2008 Categories: This and That | 3 Comments  

We’re off at 4 am tomorrow, and busy today packing, so I’ll say farewell for a while. If you need something to read before we get back, I’ve pre-posted almost every day at Books and Movies, since I’m supposed to post so many times a week there. Some of the posts are repeats of what you’ve already seen here, other posts are all new.

See you in August!

Links for Friday

July 24, 2008 Categories: Books , Kid Stuff , News , This and That , Videos | 5 Comments  

Two more days, and we’re off to the Oregon Coast! I’m not sure who is more excited – Kevin, or the kids. I’m excited, too, but I haven’t quite reached their level yet. I’m too worried that I’m going to forget something important. Whenever I’m preparing for something – concert at church, start of a new school year, packing for a trip – I start having one of three dreams. Either it’s opening night (I was a theater major) and I don’t know my lines – or often, even what play we’re performing, or I’m back in high school and I can’t remember my locker combination or my class schedule, or I’m back in college and it’s time for an exam and I haven’t even read the text. Am I the only one that has these dreams? Tell me I’m not crazy.

This may be the last post for a while. We’re going to a hotel that has wireless, but my wireless card isn’t the best, and who knows if I’ll have time to blog. If I don’t find time, I’ll have lots to tell you when we get back.

Wanna know what books I’m packing?

Guernica by Dave Boling

Waiting to Surface by Emily Listfield

Inglorious by Joanna Kavenna

Stealing Athena by Karen Essex

This Charming Man by Marian Keyes

All of these are ARCs or publisher’s copies I’ve been sent to review – and one I won in a giveaway at Musings of a Bookish Kitty. Hopefully, I’ll have some time to read on vacation.

Here are a few links for your weekend surfing:

~ Jelly Telly is the next big thing from Phil Vischer, creator of Veggie Tales. It looks pretty cool.

~ There’s no way around it, this guy is a complete and utter idiot.

~ Remember Improv Everywhere, the group who staged the freeze-in in Central Station? They also staged a musical in a Food Court. Hat tip: Just a (Reading) Fool.

~ This video is inspiring and really cool. Hat tip: Mental Multivitamin.

Review of Transformers Cybertron: The Ultimate Collection

July 23, 2008 Categories: Reviews , TV on DVD | Comments Off  

(Transformers Cybertron: The Ultimate Collection was provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review.)


Cybertron, the Transformers’ home planet, is on the brink of destruction as an ominous Black Hole looms. In order to save their world, the Transformers embark upon an intergalactic scavenger hunt across the universe, searching for the lost Cyber Planet Keys. The evil Decepticons, villains unlike any you have seen before, are in a race against the Heroic Autubots to recover these lost Cyber Planet Keys – keys that have the power to unlock the Cybertron planet itself, creating the greatest Transformer the universe has ever seen! The battle will span the galaxy in a race to wield the all powerful Planet Keys and to save their home world of Cybertron from certain doom!

OPTIMUS PRIME and the AUTOBOTS face one of their greatest challenges ever as they battle to save their home planet and the universe itself in TRANSFORMERS CYBERTRON: The Ultimate Collection, arriving in a seven-DVD set on July 22, 2008 from Paramount Home Entertainment. This power-packed release features all 52 episodes from the long-running 2005 Cartoon Network series based on the classic program from the ‘80s. TRANSFORMERS CYBERTRON: The Ultimate Collection includes hours of adventures full of intrigue and surprise and is the ultimate gift set for fans of the legendary “robots in disguise”.

Okay, I have to tell you that any day that brings the arrival of 52 episodes of Transformers on DVD ranks up there with Christmas in my boys’ minds. They were so excited, especially since it arrived on the same day as the final disc of the Avatar series. And since I am having major short-timers disease and not wanting to do anything besides get ready to leave on vacation on Sunday, I have had no problem with letting them veg out in front of the TV. Don’t worry, though, every once in a while, the good mommy kicks in, and I send them outside to ride their bikes.

They have only watched a couple episodes of this so far, but they are each giving it two thumbs up.

Transformers Cybertron: The Ultimate Collection is available on DVD now.

Review of Avatar: The Last Airbender – Book 3 Fire, Vol. 4

Categories: Reviews , TV on DVD | 2 Comments  

(Avatar: The Last Airbender – Book 3 Fire, Vol. 4 was provided to me by Special Ops Media for the purpose of review.)


The kids return to the Fire Nation and prepare for their final confrontation with firelord Ozai, but they discover that the Firelord has plans of his own: he has ordained himself Phoenix King and appointed Princess Azula as the next Firelord.

In the spectacular four-part finale of Avatar Book 3: Fire, Aang fulfills his destiny as the Avatar and confronts the Firelord in the greatest battle of the series.

We have been huge fans of Nickolodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender series since we first started watching it on TV. When we got rid of our satellite, we kept up on DVD through Netflix. The kids sat yesterday and watched all six episodes on this final disc yesterday. (I know, I’m a bad mom, but we are on summer break.) I could tell from the cheers and satisfied smiles that they loved the way the series ended.

Don’t tell Noah I told you this, but he was glad Aang got to kiss Katara in the end.

Avatar: The Last Airbender – Book 3 Fire, Vol. 4 will be available on DVD on July 29th. Special features include commentary by creators, cast, and crew.

Review of College Road Trip

July 19, 2008 Categories: Movies , Reviews | 2 Comments  

(College Road Trip was provided to me by Click Communications for the purpose of review.)


Get ready for a wildly hilarious ride with Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symone in Disney’s chaotic comedy College Road Trip. Ambitious and confident Melanie Porter (Raven-Symone) is eagerly looking forward to her first big step toward independence – a girls-only road trip to check out colleges. But this rite of passage takes a wrong turn when her overprotective father (Martin Lawrence) insists on escorting her instead – and Melanie’s dream trip quickly turns into a nightmare of wild and wacky curves. So fasten your seat belts for a nonstop, laugh-out-loud, madcap adventure that’ll drive your silly.

I’m not a big fan of Raven-Symone, so I only agreed to review this one if Natalie writes the review. Here are her thoughts:

“From way at the beginning when Melanie was born, her dad started to plan out where she would go to college. Her dad is the kind of dad who is really attached to his daughter and then his daughter is not very happy, that sort of thing.

Well, Melanie’s dad wants her to go to a college that is only about 20 minutes away. Well, Melanie has other plans, she get accepted into Georgetown in D.C. She then plans to go with her friends to D.C. but her dad doesn’t want her to.

So they, well, Melanie’s dad, plans out a road trip father-daughter thing. So Melanie goes along but doesn’t like it at all! Her dad needs to realize that she isn’t a little girl anymore and that her dad needs to trust her.

This movie has a good moral and a very happy ending! I encourage you all to watch this Disney Channel Movie!


Kristin Lavransdatter III: The Cross

Categories: Books , Reviews | 9 Comments  


At the end of last year’s school year, I was thinking ahead to the coming year’s history studies. We have been working our way through Story of the World II: The Middle Ages (and still are, since there’s too much information to cover in nine months). I wanted to coordinate some of my personal reading with what we were studying. I asked Carol at Magistramater for a book suggestion on the Middle Ages. She recommended Kristin Lavransdatter.

Kristin Lavransdatter is a saga in three parts (The Wreath, The Wife, and The Cross) by Sigrid Undset. At the beginning of her story, Kristin is a young girl of noble birth in 14th century Norway. She is beloved by her respected and highly religious father, and enjoys the carefree life of a daughter of wealth.

When Kristin becomes of marriageable age, her father betroths her to Simon Andresson, an honorable young man and the son of a neighboring landowner. During her betrothal, Kristin falls in love with the handsome but reckless Erlend Nikulausson. Erlend has been living in sin with another man’s wife, and has two children with her. Erlend seduces Kristin, and Kristin uses her influence over her father and his grief over the death of another daughter to coerce him to approve her betrothal to Erlend. Kristin gets her own way, and her willfulness will haunt her for the rest of her life.

Carol was right – these books give a descriptive and complete picture of what life was like during the 14th century. While reading Kristin’s story, I learned so much about the religious customs of the day, about the way government and legal matters were handled, about the day to day life of a woman on an estate, about how children were raised, about how the plague devastated complete towns.

I also learned that human nature is the same, no matter what the century. Marriage is difficult and requires much self-sacrifice. Raising children is a continual letting-go process that some parents handle with grace and others struggle to get through. God is gracious to forgive, but the consequences of our sin can reverberate down through generations. Forgiveness is required of us for our own good. Sacrificial love is only possible with God’s grace.

Kristin Lavransdatter is a long work, but it is more than worth the time spent reading it. I read the Penguin Classics versions that were translated by Tina Nunnally, and the prose is beautiful and vivid. These characters will stay with me for a long time.