Pre-Orders Galore!!

Oooh... I am having trouble restraining myself. Several of my favorite series add an installment very soon! (and yes, you can expect reviews to pop up here within a few days of our receiving them... especially since I am home and can usually get to the packages first while my hard-working husband works. HAH! Good thing I don't have to arm-wrestle him for them... I'd lose.)

Don & Audrey Wood's Children's Books

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry & the Big Hungry Bear
A little mouse has a treasure- a perfectly exquisite strawberry. The narrator warns him of the nearby strawberry-eating bear, and the little mouse determines to protect his treasure. What will he do? Is the narrator as innocent as he seems, or is he merely after the strawberry himself? Children laugh with delight at the mouse's antics, empathize with the narrator's desire to enjoy the strawberry, and shiver at the thought of a hungry bear getting that luscious fruit all to himself. Quite possibly the cutest illustrations I've seen in a children's book. You just want to pick up the mouse and snuggle him! I'm amazed at the depth of expression Don Wood manages to convey in individual pictures! Audrey Wood perfectly captures a child's delight in simple things, as well as their fear of having a possession taken. In the end, sharing and enjoying instead of hoarding win the day. One of my top-10 favorites to read aloud!

Star rating: 


Septimus is trying to take his place as the youngest son of the Heap family, and the Apprentice to the intimidating Extra-Ordinary Wizard, Marcia (who is still wearing her purple python pointy shoes). Jenna is learning what it means to be the Princess. The Heap family has greatly changed; Silas & Sarah now live in the Castle along with Jenna, and are trying very hard to learn to manage the huge empty building, left bare and sad after 10 years occupation by the Custodian Army. Nicko is a Apprenticed to a boat-builder and lives by the Harbor. Sam, Jo-jo, Edd & Erik have decided to stay on in the Forest at "Camp Heap." Septimus lives in the Wizard Tower under Marcia's supervision. That leaves Simon... unfortunately he returns just as the book begins, bent on getting back at the twerpy younger brother who took (was offered) the Apprenticeship he'd long desired. He kidnaps Jenna, despite having grown up with her as his beloved little sister; to him she is now the one responsible for ruining his life and the cozy family life he once had. When none of the grown-ups believe that he would do such a thing, Septimus & Nicko set off to find her.

Star rating: 

5 Remembered Gems

Today's review is a little different;
It's five children's books that I particularly remember being read to me, around 5-6 years old. If I remembered them distinctly enough to find them by searching for a phrase out of them fifteen years later, you know they are memorable!!

1. Something from Nothing, by Phoebe Gilman
2. Tikki-tikki-tembo, by Arlene Mosel, illustrated by Blair Lent
3. The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton
4. The Five Chinese Brothers, by Claire Huchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese
5. The Little Engine that Could, by Watty Piper (I prefer the old illustrations, done by George & Doris Hauman)


On a cold wintry day in the Castle, the Ordinary Wizard Silas Heap comes upon a newborn girl, lying (well wrapped but alone) in the snow. Quickly he takes the child under his robes and begins to hurry home to his wife Sarah and their seven sons-- the youngest of whom, Septimus, was born today. As he hurries to their warm tiny home in The Ramblings (a topsy-turvy extension complex of halls and rooms within the Castle walls), he is stopped by Marcia Overstrand, who today has become the ExtraOrdinary Wizard. "Tell no one you found her. She was born to you!" is her cryptic command, and she brushes by, leaving Silas dumbfounded. As he reaches home, he finds his wife sobbing and his six little boys too terrified to cry; Septimus has died! The tiny baby girl is immediately accepted into the family, in some ways filling the hole baby Septimus' death left in their hearts. They name her Jenna, after Sarah's mother.

Star rating: 

The Hobbit

A very ordinary hobbit finds himself in an utterly unlooked-for adventure, thanks to the meddling of Gandalf the Wizard. He never wanted to cross distant lands to get dwarven treasure back from a dragon! Or did he? Perhaps the Took side of the family was stronger in him than he knew? Regardless, he finds himself as the 14th member of an expedition to reclaim the gold rightfully belonging to Thorin Oakenshield- once King under the Lonely Mountain. Despite the lack of proper meals and lodgings, Bilbo begins to enjoy his adventure, despite encountering trolls, Beorn the wild bear-man, wood-elves, goblins, Wargs, a wretched Gollum creature, and one very greedy dragon (Smaug). Whatever would their company have done without Gandalf? They surely would have been eaten by trolls or goblins or both!

Star rating: 

Beautiful, Oops!

There's a new children's book that has captured my fancy. Called Beautiful, Oops!, it is a whole new type of pop-up book, celebrating the potential in every "mistake." The book itself is a study in creativity-- totally thinking "outside the box." This would be a GREAT way to start a discussion with your children on God as Redeemer; One who reclaims for Himself what is captive, ugly and wrong, making it beautiful, holy and right by His very presence. This book brings home the "mistakes are opportunities for good" very effectively, but it's up to you to apply that to your child spiritually-- sometimes, our mistakes hurt others very deeply, and it is only God's grace that can bring anything good out of something like that.

Star rating: 

The Final Storm

This book, third in the series, picks up chronologically immediately where Book 2 left off. Aidan and his dad are back in Maryland, trying to meet with Robby and convince him of the Scrolls' truth, and Antoinette is still in The Realm, imprisoned in Paragor's prison. Paragor is amassing an army larger than any before, complete with a stronger-than-ever Wyrm Lord (a dragon whose very breath brings death) and the Seven Sleepers ("wolvins," which sound a lot like Tolkien's "wargs"). Sentinal Kaliam is doing everything in his power to defend & gather his allies and build new defenses. Aelic (Aidan's glimpse) is found, badly injured, but alive. Back on Earth, Aidan has discovered that his best friend Robby already believes in The Realm, but that he has been convinced by Count Eogan (the impostor emissary from the previous book) that Paragor is the true hero of the tale.When Count Eogan tries to kill Aidan, Robby decides to serve King Eliam, and is swept into Alleble. Like Aidan & Antoinette before him, he becomes a Twelfth Knight and sets out on a mission, racing against Paragor to find both the Scroll of the Prophecy and King Eliam's scribe Zabediel.

Star rating: 

The Rise of the Wyrm Lord

Aidan, recently returned from his voyage to The Realm, meets Antoinette, a fellow Believer. They realize that she is being drawn to The Realm this time, and Aidan passes on to her his concern for Robby, as he fears that his Glimpse is following Paragor. Antoinette is drawn into the Realm and becomes a Twelfth Knight just as Aidan did. (Antoinette is Gwenne's human twin) Soon she is off on her own mission defending Alleble. Several of Alleble's former allies are turning from them, citing unfair treatment at the hand of an Alleble emissary whom King Eliam never sent. Rumor has it that Paragor is also trying to awaken evils from ancient prophecies in his desire for power. Antoinette's team sets off through the Blackwood Forest to Yewland in order to try and re-establish their alliance while doing reconnaissance of Paragor's dealings.

Star rating: 

The Door Within

Aidan is a teenager who has just moved across the country to care for his wheel-chair-bound grandfather "Grampin." And he isn't happy about it. He misses his best friend from Maryland, Robby, and does not look forward to trying to start over making friends. Amidst his fuming, mysterious scrolls appear in his basement, telling an engaging story about life in a parallel world simply called "The Realm." This land and ours were once the same, but after The Schism, the two were separated, with each human in our world having a twin in the other-- not human, but a Glimpse. At the end of the Scroll, a riddle appears, inviting him into the Realm itself, should he go through the "Door Within," which is belief. Hardly daring to believe his luck, Aidan ventures into the realm, where he finds himself welcomed as the "Twelfth Knight" of Alleble-- the last member of a select group sent on a vital mission against Paragor.

Star rating: 


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