Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Many kids go through one of two stages when they reach kindergarten age.  First, they want to know about everything and ask lots of questions. Parents can sometimes feel flummoxed trying to answer the questions.  Another stage is the know-it-all stage where children feel that THEY have all the answers.  I'm sure you have run across children that fit in the two categories.  I don't remember going through a real questioning stage but I was definitely times when I was a know-it-all. Sometimes I wonder if I NEVER outgrew that stage!

Peter Catalanotto offers a humorous look at these two types of young children with his picture book QUESTION BOY AND LITTLE MISS KNOW-IT-ALL.  He cleverly turns these children and the various people that we see in our everyday lives into superheroes.  The illustrations themselves even have a comic book quality which adds to the fun. In the book, Question Boy drives everyone crazy with all of his questions. Until he meets him match in the park one day---Little Miss Know-It-All.  It seems like a match made in heaven. Finally! Someone who will answer all those questions!!!  But Little Miss Know-It-All doesn't always have the RIGHT answers. It seems more important to her to be able to spout off her own knowledge rather than get it right. The two of them square off in an epic battle that offers a very humorous conclusion. 

The text itself is longer than your average picture book and makes it appropriate and complex enough for beginning readers/early elementary age children.  Younger children may have a hard time sitting still for the length of this story.  Parents will enjoy the funny, often nonsensical "facts" that Little Miss Know-It-All throws out.  The book offers readers the opportunity to see how their behaviors can affect others and how we always need to question the truth of what others tell us. 

I tested this book on my 3.5 yr old and he loved it. His favorite part was the turning point in the battle between the two children.  I don't want to give it away so I won't tell you what happens.  I worried that my son wouldn't be able to sit still through so much text but we ended up reading it four times last night so....I guess I was wrong!

When I came home last night, my husband and son had done this picture of Question Boy:

I have now had a request to make my son a homemade Question Boy costume.
BOTTOM LINE:  Recommended.  A very cute picture book that is sure to bring smiles to children and grownups alike.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

***GIVEAWAY***THE DARLINGS by Cristina Alger

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

THE DARLINGS offers readers a chance to view a Madoff-style scandal from the viewpoint of the 1%.  New York attorney Paul Ross has finally made it. He is married to Merrill Darling, daughter of billionaire financier Carter Darling who is a successful lawyer in her own right.  After weathering the downfall of his former financial employer, Paul finds a position in Carter's hedge fund as the head of the legal team. A few months into his new job, Paul and the Darling family are thrust into the media spotlight as an investigation by the SEC opens up into the dealings of the Darling Hedge Fund.  The story opens with the suicide of family friend and business partner Morty Reis in an apparent attempt to avoid the pending SEC investigation and scandal surrounding a possible Ponzi scheme.  The more Paul find out about the extent of the fraud, the harder it becomes for him to decide where his loyalties will lie.

Alger has experience as both a financial analyst and attorney and is able to provide fascinating insight into the events of the 2008 financial crisis that brought down so many investment firms. The book is told over the days surrounding Thanksgiving weekend which gives it a fast pace and sense of urgency as the characters race to uncover the truth. I loved seeing the financial crisis played out from the perspective of the privileged who were involved.  The book was a very fast read as I was very interested to find out how the events would unfold.  I wish Alger had developed the story and characters a bit more.  If the story had been just a little bit meatier, it would have been really terrific.  As it is, it is a very entertaining read and a compelling behind-the-scenes look at the 2008 financial crisis.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. A highly entertaining look behind the scenes of the 2008 financial crisis from the fictionalized perspective of the affluent and privileged individuals who were involved.  This would make a nice vacation read.


Want to win a copy of Cristina Alger's THE DARLINGS?  Leave a comment below! Make sure to leave your contact information. For extra entries, follow me on this blog and on Facebook and leave a comment each time telling me that you did.

This giveaway ends on Friday, February 24 at 4:30pm PST.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Peculiar Valentines

Fans of MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN will love this Valentine treat!

If you don't have your Valentines done, go here to find some wonderfully quirky Valentines based on images from the book that you can send electronically or print out.

Love it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

****GIVEAWAY*** KAMA SUTRA by Vatsyayana

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

Penguin Classics has come out with a lovely new edition of the KAMA SUTRA just in time for Valentine's Day.  Most people have a very narrow idea of this classic work as a piece of erotic literature but it is actually a wonderful historical work about living well.  "Kama" means desire and this particular "sutra" serves as a guide to love, pleasure, and relationships.   When I read this book many many years ago, I expected a guide to various erotic practices but I was surprised to see that it was much much more!  The book begins with descriptions of life and daily routines for girls and young men.  Book Two focuses on the many facets of Sexual Union.  There is even a chapter on "Scratching!"  Book Three is all about wooing and winning a girl for the purposes of marriage. Book Four focuses on the role of the wife.  The KAMA SUTRA continues onto other topics concerning relationships and love and the general interaction of the sexes.  This particular version has a very nice introduction that goes into the history of the work and its author as well as its continued significance in modern times and its influence on literature.

Personally, I enjoyed the section on life and conduct of the "only" wife.  Here is a tidbit:

"When a little offended at some misdoing of her husband, she does not speak to him too harshly.  If she has to reproach him, she does it when they are alone or among close friends.  But she never resorts to sorcery, for nothings destroys trust more than this, according to Gonardiya.  She refrains from using bad language, looking daggers, speaking with her face turned away, standing in the doorway and staring, chatting with someone in the park and lingering in lonely places."

I myself have definitely been guilty of "looking daggers" although I have yet to resort to sorcery.

BOTTOM LINE: A wonderful and often humorous classic worth revisiting.


Would you like to win your very own Valentine's Day copy of this new edition of the KAMA SUTRA?

1. Get one entry for leaving a comment below that includes a way to contact you if you win.

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CONTEST CLOSES Wednesday, February 8 at 4:30pm PST.