Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Review :: The Light Fantastic - Sarah Combs

The Light Fantastic - Sarah Combs

"Seven tightly interwoven narratives. Three harrowing hours. One fateful day that changes everything."

It's been a little while since I read some YA Contemporary and I was so ready for this.  The Light Fantastic promised a rich narrative with some punch, so I didn't waste any time starting.  I'm gonna bullet point this one because it's that kinda book.

  • I was quickly hooked, and didn't take long to finish.  I was really intrigued by the majority of the storylines and needed to see what would happen. 
  • I felt no small amount of dread for the duration of the novel.  This was obviously due to the subject matter and its connection to so many deeply horrific events.  The dread was largely unfounded because...
  • ...Combs was delicate in her treatment of said subject and sidestepped rather than delved right in. The novel is about the characters, not the events. 
  • At least one of the narratives could easily have been omitted without doing any damage to the story.  In fact, I think this would have enhanced it.  Some of the storylines left me with more questions than answers.  Fewer narrative strands would have tightened things, IMO, especially as we reached the resolution point.
  • I found myself checking back on the regular to place a character.  There are many of them, situated in a number of different settings, and the links are tenuous (though satisfying to connect).  
  • In saying that, it's more than possible that a reread would clarify things.  Combs packed in a lot, and I'm sure I missed many of the subtleties.  This is a textured, layered story, rich with detail, motif and cross-referencing (a side-along reading of The Glass Menagerie would be ideal for the literary YA).  
  • Each character (mostly YA, but one is adult) has a strong, individual voice.  They felt authentic, and for the most part relatable.  
  • I couldn't help but acknowledge how easy my teen days were by comparison.  The Light Fantastic definitely got me thinking about what a messy, confusing and increasingly dangerous social climate we've created for our young adults.  
  • I appreciated the sense of hope that Combs tied off with.  It's a driving force of the novel and the message is so important.  With a bit of luck it reaches the right ears.
Hitting shelves from Feb 1st.  Keep your eye out x

Review copy kindly supplied by Walker Books

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Gemstone Party

Eleanor's Gemstone party was an unashamed sugar-fest, making me both the most popular and the least popular, depending who you asked.  Just as we did for her 6th birthday, we invited two of her besties over for dessert and indulged in all the treats.  No child complained.

In a first for me, I took on all the food making myself.  Actually, lies.  Those beautiful pastel gemstone cookies were made from scratch by a clever friend.  I did make the cake (which is why... it is...), and almost all the other sweets.  We had geode cake pops, chocolate jewels, handmade lollipops, jem jelly and both gemstone and geode cookies.   I have a post coming up with some details for those, including links to tutorials.

So making the food is never my fave bit - I will always outsource if I can, but creating party printables and decorations is always fun for me!  This year I made this gemstone bunting, and added gold vinyl and glitter to each gem/geode.  They looked super pretty in person, and I had way too much fun making them.

We also decorated with a set of wooden gems, handmade by my sister (whose adorable wooden toys can be found here on felt).  With those and pastel-hued food, we didn't really need anything more.

We used cute plates from Pop Roc Parties (similar to these), and I also purchased these cool gold straws because like I said, Magpie.  I'll include all my foodie sources in the next post, but if you are wondering about anything in particular, just leave a question in the comment section :-).

Eleanor declared this to be her best, best party ever.  I was both surprised and relieved.  I was a *little* stressed on the morning of the party, trying to get all these little treats plated in time.  These two hovered in the kitchen wanting to try everything and, well, I'm glad she chose not to remember how all the grumps.

I have a couple more posts to come, including some basic instructions for a simple party activity (below).  Then I need to get my head into organising Garland's birthday, coming up real soon!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Glittery Party Favour Bags

Waaaay back in October we held a Gemstone theme party for Eleanor's 7th.  It was super fun to plan for, all the glitter and gems in the world!  I decided to gift the kiddos some gemstone soaps - tutorial found here.  Definitely the most labour-intensive element of the party planning.  Also the most fun, once I got the hang of it.  I purchased some simple cotton bags from Pop Roc Parties to hold the soaps, but couldn't just leave them plain.  So.  Glitter.

There was no real planning beforehand for these, just a fine-tipped sharpie pen, some craft glue and loads of glitter.  I also happened to have a bunch of mini gemstones (found on ebay) left over from Eleanor's Mermaid Party.  Totally perf.

The soaps may have been the actual favour, but I hope our little guests continue to store treasure in these bags.  I'm sorta tempted to glue glitter and gems to everything now, because I'm a magpie who wishes to feather my nest with shiny things...

More on this party soon!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Book Review :: Dog on a Digger by Kate Prendergast

Dog on a Digger - By Kate Prendergast

"Dog is helping his master on the building site when his tiny dog friend goes missing. Plucky Dog takes charge and cleverly brings the digger to the rescue."

And our ongoing love for text-less picture books is rewarded with another gem.  Just look at the illustrations!  Just loooooook!  So pretty....

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Just Now

December!  You are melting away like mid summer butter.  Our days have been blurry-edged.  Messes and napping and feeding and visits.  We've hidden inside, and occasionally ventured out (more than we probably needed too, but it's that season).  We've been so lovestruck that Christmassy traditions have fallen by the wayside and no one has minded.  We've had some bummer days, but looking back these past four weeks still seem perfect.  Our guy is here, and he's perfect.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Book Review :: Penguin Problems - Jory John and Lane Smith

Penguin Problems - Written by Jory John and illustrated by Lane Smith

"Little Penguin has problems: his beak is cold; there s snow everywhere; the water smells salty; he waddles; he looks the same as everybody else. No it s not easy being a Penguin!"

Clever and cute, Penguin Problems is also super relevant.  It's the children's book equivalent to #firstworldproblems, with little penguin guy complaining about literally everything.  He's the modern day equivalent of Eeyore, but somebody is about to set him straight!  Because Penguin Dude, life is so good!

Book Review :: The Hamster Book by Silvia Borando

The Hamster Book - Silvia Borando

"If you have always wanted a pet, but your parents have never let you ... this is the book for you. Because, inside the pages of this book, your new hamster awaits. Isn’t she cute?" 

What an adorable little book this is!  I think interactive books are so much fun (Help, The Wolf is Coming is another fave), and The Hampster Book is especially cute.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Book Review :: My Lady Jane

"A comical, fantastical and witty re-imagining of the Tudor world, perfect for fans of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Lady Jane Grey, sixteen, is about to be married to a total stranger - and caught up in an insidious plot to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But that's the least of Jane's problems. She's about to become Queen of England. Like that could go wrong."

I was super eager to read/review this book following a recommendation by this bookish gal (who has never yet led me astray).  It exceeded my expectations!  I saved it up, and I savoured it.  In fact, I was so dreading finishing, that I put off doing so for several weeks.  I wanted, needed to know what would happen but I couldn't bear seeing so few pages left, didn't want that empty #bookfinished feeling to arrive (at least until I had adequate back up).  I considered whether starting over again right away would help, but this book was such a delightful (and I rarely use that word) surprise, I need time and distance before my first reread, that it may delightfully surprise me all over again.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Book Review :: Barefoot on the Wind by Zoë Marriott

Barefoot on the Wind - by Zoë Marriott

"A feminist reworking of Beauty and the Beast from a talented fantasy writer."

Well, you had me at that byline.  Fairytale retellings are fun (see also - Jane Austen retellings *hearteyes*), and there's always room for a feminist spin, imho.  I also looked forward to reading a Beauty and the Beast retelling, not being familiar with the story at all (I know, what can I say?!), so I was pretty much 'come at me with this book!'.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Book Review :: Pandora by Victoria Turnbull

Pandora - Written and illustrated by Victoria Turnbull

"A great picture story book with an environmental message.  This is a stunning fable of hope and regeneration from critically acclaimed artist Victoria Turnbull."

Pandora is a beautiful, sad and ultimately hopeful story.  The title character lives alone, surrounded by broken things with which she builds her little life.  When an injured bird appears, Pandora finally has a friend, and a purpose.  Eventually the bird leaves, but the gifts of seeds and hope left behind, transform Pandora's grey world into one that is beautiful.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Steiner School Fair

The Michael Park School Fair was a big deal when we were kids and I knew our guys would have such a great time there. We've been trying to make it there for a few years now, but the timing has never worked.  All good, because it felt perfect taking them this year.  The ideal way to round off our first year of Waldorf (inspired) homeschooling, and put aside some specially focused time with them before the bubba arrives.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Book Review :: Angel Star

"Angel Star written by Chris Sanders symbolises a new era of Children’s storybook writing using adult contemporary music inter-twined with simple beautiful lyrics that will resonate in the heart of every child.Modern day nursery rhymes that all the family will enjoy singing and reading today and for generations to come."

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Book Review :: When We Go Camping by Sally Sutton and Cat Chapman

When We Go Camping - Written by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Cat Chapman

"From two of New Zealand's favourites - Sally Sutton and Cat Chapman - a rollicking romp through a day on a family camping trip!"

Homeschool Field Notes

We had another homeschool field trip a few weeks ago, while it was still cool enough to wear woolens.  We were supposed to be observing 'pond life', but all we came across was a spider.
Def no beavers or snakes #Americancurriculum.  Speaking of curriculum, we've been checking out next year's syllabus (2nd Grade) and it looks fun!  I've been looking at the Kindergarten one too which looks utterly adorable!  Super tempted...

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Book Review :: An Artist's Alphabet by Norman Messenger

"A surreal and gorgeous alphabet book from exceptional artist Norman Messenger."

If you're looking for a book that's a little out of the ordinary, I've totally found it for you.  An Artist's Alphabet is perrrrfect for fans of the surreal, and anyone looking for an un-cutesy alphabet book. The unconventional subject matter is refreshing, no 'B is for Ball' here, peeps!  This is definitely the type of book kids will sit and pore over in front of the fire, with so many exquisite details and unexpected letter pairings.  

Friday, September 30, 2016

Book Review :: My Dad Used to Be so Cool by Keith Negley

"Did your dad used to be cool? Wondering what happened to his rock band playing, skateboarding days?"

First and foremost, I LOVE the illustrations for this book!  I'd have any of them as wall prints in my house.  The repeat pattern guitars are 👌.  It's a beautiful book no doubt about it, with thick, matte pages boasting these bold, retro illustrations.   I'm a big fan of the muted primaries colour scheme, and intend to steal it for an upcoming kiddo birthday party, yuss!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Russell, Northland

These Spring holidays have been dreamy!  So much for that grim weather forecast, it's all blue skies y'all.  Today definitely feels like the kind of day that we should fill with an adventure, but in reality I will be cleaning out my car (overdue) and sorting through the kiddo clothing.  Is it normal that I'm looking forward to both of these tasks?!  

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Doll Ergobaby

I've been thinking about making a couple of doll-sized ergobaby carriers forever.  It felt so good finally to whip this one up!  I'm sure there are a bunch of online tutorials available, but that's not really my style.  Instead I gathered supplies, did a bit of guessing and pinning and cutting, and came up with this one.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Adventures in Spring

I'm gonna admit it right now, homeschooling is the best decision we ever made. Which is not to say that we will never reassess, particularly if we find ourselves in the right schooling situation, but this year has been (mostly) SO much fun for all of us.

Book Review :: A Child of Books - Oliver Jeffers and Sam Winston

"An inspiring and lyrical picture book about a little girl who sails her raft 'across a sea of words' to arrive at the house of a small boy. There she invites him to come away with her on an adventure where they can journey through 'forests of fairy tales', 'across mountains of make-believe' and 'sleep in clouds of song'. Guided by his new friend, the boy unlocks his imagination and a lifetime of magic lies ahead of him... But who will be next?"