Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Happy Book Birthday: Elephant Ears by Fanya Randall

Elephant Ears

Written by Fanya Randall

Illustrated by Alejandro Echavez

November 3, 2020; Mascot Books

Coming soon! Happy Book Birthday to Elephant Ears, written by Fanya Randall, illustrated by Alejandro Echavez! Thank you, Mascot Books http://mascotbooks.com for sending me a copy to review.

Going to school is fraught with all sorts of anxiety and social issues (especially in 2020). A significant part of going to school is learning to navigate in groups of people = social skills. Academics feature in as well. But this book is about bullying, a huge issue nearly any place we go, whether in-person or online.

Max was super excited to begin kindergarten. Mom dropped him off at school, and he was ready to go, new backpack, clothes, and all. What Max was not prepared for was meeting the class bully, who called out attention to Max’s larger than normal ears. Billy continued bullying Max and shouting out, “Max has elephant ears.”

The situation escalates, but I don’t want to ruin the ending, which is perfectly satisfying. Many examples of appropriate behavior are portrayed through other characters. In the end, what we hope would happen in all bullying situations happens. While we cannot expect perfect endings all the time, this book is just right for laying groundwork on how to deal with bullies.

I really enjoyed reading Elephant Ears and came away with good ideas of how to encourage young readers how to avoid becoming a bully, how to help a bully, and how to help someone is being bullied.

What I Liked About This Book:

~ the topic of bullying is relevant and very important

~ the age of the characters is when bullying sometimes begins-kindergarten

~ characters were in place to reflect someone being bullied, a friend who struggled with how to help, and the bully

~ sound examples and story of a bullying incident

~ great story

~ perfect illustrations to go with the story

Amazon Blurb:

Max is starting kindergarten and is excited for his first day of school. On the playground, a bully starts to tease Max about his ears making him feel sad. Will Max get enough courage to speak up for himself to the bully, and will his classmates help him?

This book teaches children about bullying and the importance of how to properly handle a bully situation. Through early education our hope is that it will change the narrative where bullying statistics will decrease and children will learn to be more empathetic and inclusive to all.


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Pumpkin Patch 2020

In the year 2020, everything changed. Yes, we all know this.

Each year, I’ve planned a pumpkin patch outing with my grands. This year, we were lucky to find one (a pumpkin patch, not a grand). And this year, I had separate trips with the two families, mostly due to scheduling, but also . . . 2020.

The Quantrells went with me on a very rainy day to Washington Fruit and Gift Shop at Barrett Orchards. We’ve used Barrett’s displays as backdrops and adventures before, but never on such a wet outing. We were the ONLY people outside and inside other than employees. Though adults and children alike were damp and dripping, pumpkins were chosen and lovingly carried home for fall fun. Papa broke my rule (see below) and carried out Donavyn’s huge pumpkin.

The Aucutts went with me to Dagdagan’s Fruit and Vegetable Stand, where the owners conveniently displayed a mini straw bale maze filled with piles of pumpkins. We were the only ones in it for most of the time and need only don our masks to go inside to pay for the chosen orbs. I might say, the older they get (the grands) the larger the pumpkins they choose. My rule: you have to be able to carry it. That sort of helps me out.

Both Hayden and Donavyn (oldest child in their respective families) chose close to 30-pound pumpkins. An oldest thing? A boy thing? Who knows. Autumn, the youngest, chose three mini pumpkins, caring for them as a mother would her young children (or stuffed animals). Gage chose traditionally and Khloe went with a white pumpkin, though she also leaned towards a larger choice.

Happy Fall to all!


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Haiku Moment: satiated bins

satiated bins

soldier along the path as

harvest lures me in

satiated bins by Angie Quantrell

photo by Angie Quantrell


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Book Report: The Science of Defying Gravity by L.G. Reed

The Science of Defying Gravity

Written by L.G. Reed

Illustrated by Basia Tran

Keyes Canyon Press, 2020

Does your child have a science fair coming up? Or perhaps your middle grade student loves things that fly. This book is for both of you!

Cassie is not interested in science class, and therefore, her grades suffer. But she REALLY wants to go to Space Camp. After her family experiences financial difficulties, Cassie has to take Space Camp attendance into her own hands and figure out how to be able to attend. Setting the goal to make it to camp is just the right fuel to blast her rocket into space.

Thank you, KidLit411 www.kidlit411.com and L. G. Reed for sending me a copy of The Science of Defying Gravity! This chapter book is a very engaging read, and I couldn’t stop-just one more chapter, oops, two more chapters . . . and suddenly I was done reading it.

What I Liked About This Book:

~ Cassie and her best friend Wylie are great characters; flawed yet lovable

~ Excellent premise of a student having no interest in science class transforming into a driven young tween who worked her tail off to implement a stellar science fair project and presentation

~ Family issues were on target and added to the build-up towards the story climax

~ Cassie continued marching forward despite hitting numerous obstacles

~ Cassie and her feelings of being overlooked by her parents, which led to her striving to gain their attention

~ Cassie’s best friend, Wylie, is on the spectrum; this adds an extra layer of interest and learning about others who may be differently abled

~ Budding romance, just barely, but adorable

~ Science-I learned quite a bit about science fairs, gravity, what makes things fly, how to plan a winning science fair project, how they are organized, and even specifics about scientists in the real world

~ Cassie is a strong female main character, and will surely inspire other young girls to follow their interests in STEM fields

~ Helpful backmatter

~ The usefulness of this book to help students prepare for an actual science fair (lots of examples)

Amazon Blurb:

“Useful, entertaining, and encouraging; will inspire confidence and an appreciation of science.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Tweens who enjoy making, building, and learning will get the most from this book about what it takes to become a scientist.” — Booklife Reviews

In this mashup of STEM education and fiction, 11 yr old Cassie films her life. She loves movies and dreams of becoming a movie director in SPACE. *Her plans to go to Space Camp are derailed when her dad loses his job and she must win a SCIENCE FAIR to earn a scholarship to attend. Spunk, a caring teacher, an engineering mentor and her friends keep her dream on track.* Contained within THE SCIENCE OF DEFYING GRAVITY is an actual science fair project, including tables and charts for kids to see. The project covers the four forces of flight—lift, thrust, gravity and drag—which are embedded in the fictional story but are factually accurate.


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Angie’s Spaghetti Salsa

Reblogged from my former blog, Quantrell Quips: https://angiequantrell.blogspot.com/2010/05/spaghetti-salsa.html

Note from the chef: I miss my big stove and giant pot! Alas, this pan is in storage as it’s too big for the RV stove top. LOL. The name for this spicy red sauce came from my mother-in-love, Carole. Craving spaghetti one day, she asked that I make my spaghetti salsa, giving a nod to the heat I pack into my cooking. It’s been called Spaghetti Salsa ever since. My daughter recently asked for the recipe, and the only place I could find it written down was on my blog.

Here’s the original post from 2010.

Last weekend, I made my “Spaghetti Salsa,” famous in Taylor’s mind. Maybe Chelsie’s (our children). Several were interested in the recipe. The trick is crushed peppers and lots of patience. Just remember, if there ain’t no heat, there ain’t no spaghetti salsa!

Angie’s Spaghetti Salsa

Ingredients:
finely chopped garlic (close to one head – lots!)
one large onion, finely diced (more if you like onions)
olive oil
Saute’ the garlic and onion in olive oil until onions are translucent and garlic is a little crispy.

Add:
6-15 oz. cans of tomato sauce
3-15 oz. cans of Italian stewed tomatoes
2-3 small cans of tomato paste
Add sauce first. Pour stewed tomatoes into your hand and crush them as you add them to the sauce. Add paste and use a whisk to break up lumps. Stir well.

Add:

3 T. Mrs. Dash (regular flavor)
1 tsp. onion salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. black pepper (preferably fresh ground)
4-5 bay leaves, whole
3 T. crushed basil
2 T. dried parsley
2 T. dried oregano
1 tsp. crushed pepper (I like to add 1 T. when my parents are not eating with us)

Optional: sliced black olives; You can also add browned and crumbled ground turkey
Sides: hot garlic bread, green salad with vinagrette dressing

Stir all ingredients together. Cover and simmer on low to medium for a minimum of two hours, stirring often. When it is time for dinner, make whole wheat pasta noodles following package directions. Do not dump noodles into the pan of sauce. Instead, place a serving of pasta on a plate, and top with sauce and freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Cool and store leftover sauce and noodles (separate containers) in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, heat some sauce in a frying pan, add some noodles, toss, and reheat.

Freeze leftover sauce. This sauce is nice to have on hand for chicken Parmesan, last minute spaghetti, lasagna, or whatever else needs an extra spicy sauce.

Bon appetit!


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Haiku Moment: calico

variegated purr

motley winter pelage shines

dappled kitten love

calico by Angie Quantrell

photo by Angie Quantrell


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Happy Fall, Y’all! Rubber Stamped Fall Cards

Fall, oh, fall, how much I love thee!

‘Tis the season of pumpkins, colorful leaves, cool nights, whipping winds, rustling cornstalks, frosty mornings, and cozy thoughts of snuggling in for the winter.

But I digress.

Fall. I love thee. I also love making rubber stamped cards. My quite comprehensive collection of autumn rubber stamps, combined with the even greater vast array of my stamping buddy, Alyson, provides ample fodder for harvest-y creations. I must note that one is NEVER done searching for yet another “favorite” fall stamp. The hunt continues!

I thought it would be fun to set the season dial to autumn and share a few card samples.

Happy Fall, Y’All!