Love, Laughter, and Life

Adventures With a Book Lover


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Book Reviews: The Butterfly Tree by Kelly Harrison Spining; The Adventures of Chips & Salsa by Cynthia Petillo; Lunk by Connor Anvar

I am sharing three books in this post. Please scroll down to read more about each books.

The Butterfly Tree

Written by Kelly Harrison Spining

Illustrated by Abby Rocha

Mascot Books: December 8, 2020

The Adventures of Chips & Salsa

Written by Cynthia Petillo

Illustrated by Ana Sebastian

Mascot Books: December 8, 2020

Lunk

Written by Connor Anvar

Illustrated by Tristan Tait

Mascot Books: December 1, 2020

The Butterfly Tree by Kelly Harrison Spining

Who wouldn’t love a butterfly tree? This tale of three evokes memories of a folk tale. Three trees, three personalities and gifts, and three opportunities to welcome a tired butterfly. But only one has the gift of hospitality. I enjoyed this lovely tale of looking beyond appearances and importance to see what is truly in someone’s heart.

Amazon Blurb:

Three trees sat upon a grassy hill, two tall and strong, one small and frail. As the gentle breezes of spring blew one day, a beautiful butterfly floated by looking for a new home. What happened next would create a lifelong friendship between two unlikely creations of nature. Inspired by the writers experience of seeing the beauty of a tree covered in butterflies, The Butterfly Tree conveys a timeless message of love and acceptance.

The Adventures of Chips & Salsa by Cynthia Petillo

Chips loved his neighborhood and watching out the window. When neighbors moved in, Chips met a new friend named Salsa. Play time at the local dog park offered Chips and Salsa plenty of opportunity to play with friends, and unfortunately, have run-ins with dog bullies. I enjoyed reading about this story about a hero in a tiny package and changed hearts.

Amazon Blurb:

Meet Chips, a happy-go-lucky, friendly beagle, and his pals as they welcome Salsa, a tiny, shy Chihuahua who is new to the neighborhood. The dogs become fast friends and, before they know it, find themselves on a playful adventure in the park. And though Salsa may be tiny, he proves that true loyalty, friendship, and love come in all sizes. Join Chips and Salsa as they take readers on a fun-filled and exciting journey full of new adventures!

Lunk by Connor Anvar

Oh, Lunk! A plain chicken wants to be a fancy lunkalicious chicken. But things do not go as planned for the fancy version of himself. I laughed as I read this fairy tale tale (including a fairy chicken godfather). This fun tale was written by six-year-old Connor Anvar.

Amazon Blurb:

Lunk is an ordinary chicken who desires to become something greater. As his wish comes true, he wonders if his new life will bring him the happiness he was expecting.

Books can be found at www.mascotbooks.com or on www. amazon.com.


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Book Report: Bandit the Cow Dog by Phil Mills Jr. #BookBirthday

Bandit the Cow Dog

Written by Phil Mills Jr.

Illustrated by Jeanne Conway

Mascot Books (June 2, 2020)

Happy Book Birthday to Bandit the Cow Dog by Phil Mills Jr.! Thank you, http://www.MascotBooks.com, for sending me a copy to review.

As a lover of horses and ranches (and having an unfulfilled lifelong dream of living on a ranch and raising horse), I loved reading this colorful picture book.

Set on a ranch in Wyoming, the story is told from the eyes of the retired Australian shepherd working dog, Bandit, and a young girl, Mary. Mary comes to visit her grandparents for the summer. Once on the ranch, Mary quickly learns she has daily responsibilities and chores. She even finds out that eggs do not have to be white and one must help out as a member of a family. All goes well until Mary forgets one essential rule on a ranch: always close and secure gates.

Bandit the Cow Dog is a fun read. I think young readers who enjoy animals, ranches, horses, and dogs will like this book. Happy Book Birthday!

What I Like About This Book:

  • I love the ranch setting
  • I love the animals – dogs, chickens, horses, and cows
  • I love how Mary has to accept responsibility for her actions, even though that is not an easy thing to do
  • I like how Mary has consequences to her actions
  • Horses!

More about Phil Mills Jr.

Amazon Blurb:

Spending the summer on her grandparents Wyoming ranch was a new and exciting opportunity for ten-year-old Mary Andrews. She lived in Denver, Colorado, and being around horses and cattle every day was a different experience. Having to do daily chores like gathering eggs and keeping an extra-close eye on her dog Princess was also new. She found it hard enough to just make her bed and keeping her clothes picked up.

But life took a dramatic turn for the young girl when she was given her first horse. Mary had never ridden before and there was a lot to learn. Thankfully, Bandit, the ranch cow dog, was around to watch over her. Bandit may have been retired, but he still liked herding chickens and trying to corral the ranch cats. Mary would soon learn having a horse was a lot different than having a dog. Along with such ownership came greater responsibilities. That would also mean learning to admit your mistakes, no matter how difficult, and then accepting the consequences, especially when Bandit knew the truth.


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Haiku Moment: thunder thighs

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it’s not what you think

thunder thighs meanings vary

dog running in field

 

thunder thighs by Angie Quantrell

thunder thighs compliments of Ginger, chocolate lab

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Pasture Pets

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The pets we have. Let’s call them pasture pets.

Foo-Foo. Not technically our rabbit. Though I have recently informed my honey that this is my rabbit. Not rabbit soup. (No guarantees for others in the bunny market, as it were…coyotes, hawks, eagles, and other larger predators who roam freely. Like the playground cougar sighting at the school where 3 of my grands attend.)

Poor bunny Foo-Foo. Someone released him. Or he escaped. He is quite the digger, as evidenced by the ditch beneath our Mabel Gate. Or she. I feel like it is a he though.

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Charcoal. Again, not our pet. I can’t even claim him, because he really belongs to the neighbors on the east side of the pasture. They would know if we adopted this funny guy. Also thought he was a she and hoped for a random egg now and then. But she began crowing all hours of the day. This daily visitor will either help our garden grow (by eating pests and fertilizing) or keep it from growing (by nibbling greens and digging up tender shoots). Either way, not our chicken.

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Speaking of…just as I was finishing this post, who trots in from the pasture with a fresh snack?

Monet. This one is really our pet. She adores pasture life and voraciously hunts other pasture pets of the rodent and avian varieties. By our pet, I mean she sleeps in at night (to avoid cat/dog/coyote fights in the wee hours), we feed her on a regular basis, and pay her worming and vet bills. We used to have her twin sister, Mabel, until a pack of dogs decided she was snack worthy. Those dogs were definitely NOT our pets. And they are the reason we now have a Mabel Gate.

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Ginger. Not our pet. Though we are doggy grandparents. She loves visiting us in the pasture. More for chasing the ball and occasional cat (Monet) or jumping in the ditch filled with mud and water. But still. If we would let her, she would visit inside the RV. What fun that would be! So. Though she is not our pet, technically, we have adopted her as a family member. Neighbor. Just over the fence.

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Other “not our pets” include (but not restricted to) hawks, eagles, coyotes, skunks, goats, ducks, quail, geese, voles, mice, rats, woodpeckers, blue jays, magpies, doves, cats, dogs, frogs, snakes, water rats (I really don’t know what they are…but they are big and swim in the irrigation ditch), crows, worms, slugs, song birds, and lots and lots of insects.

Need a trip to the pasture zoo? Come spring, we will be open for business. I mean, the hibernators will be out and about, the frozen will thaw, eggs and litters will hatch, and who knows what else will spring to life. Bring a lawn chair and a camera. We’ll treat you to the habitats and adventures of Pasture Pets.

Our human pasture guests. (not pets)

 

 

 


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In Life, Be a Ginger (Write Like a Dog Plays Ball)

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Be a Ginger. That makes me think of Doctor Who, the one who wanted to regenerate as a ginger. I think it was the Matt Smith Doctor Who.

But that’s not what this post is about.

Ginger is a young chocolate lab with oodles and oodles of energy. BALL is her focus. As in, “You throw the ball, and I will chase it.” All. Day. Long.

She wasn’t born with the ability to fetch and chase. As a retriever, she certainly had the innate characteristics for, well, retrieving. But as a puppy, it wasn’t realized yet. Her interest gradually grew to notice moving balls. With tons of praise and practice, she soon embraced the love of chasing and fetching the ball. Her only motivation became the ball. She chases so she can chase it again.

Ginger doesn’t care if she misses the catch. She repeatedly attempts to get to the ball before it hits the ground. If she misses, so what. She still keeps her focus on the ball, scoops it up, and brings it back to the stick person. That would be whomever is holding the Chuck-It Stick.

Sometimes, Ginger is quick and snatches the ball in mid-air. Most of the time, she does not. But she never quits trying. She keeps playing, chasing, and enjoying the game. In doggy words, with tongue lolling and sides heaving with exertion and joy, Ginger says, “I want ALL the balls.”

I think we all need to be a Ginger. In our writing lives, but also in life.

We need to focus. Practice. Make mistakes. Enjoy. Celebrate the successes. Ignore the oops. And keep showing up to play the game. Every single day. Get in the game. Play the game, our insides heaving with exertion and joy. Maybe we should keep our tongues in our mouths though.

I want to be a Ginger.

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Book Report: Odd Dog Out by Rob Biddulph

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The REAL front cover is a sunshiny yellow, but I cannot make my photo true to color. Please use your imagination to view ODD DOG OUT in brilliant yellow. My apologies!

THIS is closer to the true color. 🙂

Odd Dog Out

Written and illustrated by Rob Biddulph

Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2019

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Oh, doggy lovers, this one is just too cute! Odd Dog Out will bring joy to your young readers and encourage them to be confident as they go through life marching to their own beat.

I received a copy of Odd Dog Out from Abigail at Wunderkind in exchange for a review.

What I love about Odd Dog Out:

~ The adorableness of the illustrations! You need to check out this book. There is only one type of dog-weiner dogs-and they are so cute. The bright colors on each page appeal to me as well. The odd dog out stands out from the crowd and is easy to identify.

~ The simple rhyming text perfectly tells the story and matches the illustrations.

~ The message of being comfortable in your own skin, marching to your own drum, and feeling confident in yourself rings through loud and clear.

~ The variety of doggies at the end, all uniquely expressing themselves, is a great ending (SORRY, spoiler alert!)

~ The appropriateness for young readers (4-8 years old, Preschool-3rd grade).

~ The clever wordplay.

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This is one of my favorite spreads in ODD DOG OUT.

Amazon Blurb:

A heartwarming and poignant story from award-winning creator Rob Biddulph about the power of embracing your true colors. Perfect for fans of Peter Brown’s Tiger Goes Wild.

It’s a dog’s life in the big, busy city, but there’s one lonely pup who doesn’t quite fit in. She behaves differently from the rest, sports rainbow in a sea of gray, and marches to the beat of her own drum.

She’s one Odd Dog.

Join Odd Dog as she journeys to the other side of the world to find her place in it, only for her to discover that maybe she’s meant to be right where she started.

And check out Rob Biddulph’s other books for children, including:

Blown Away

The Grizzly Bear Who Lost His GRRRRR!

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Haiku Moment: shred

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give it to me, grrrr

i’m gonna rip you to shreds

old shirt, you die. die!

 

shred by Angie Quantrell

 

Ginger LOVES her new 9-ply T-shirt rope. Too bad

1. It’s white. That was the only color I had.

2. It’s really gonna die soon.

3. Chocolate labs are ferocious players. We need toys. Lots of toys. Please send toys.


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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: mud dog

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accident, promise!

water oops, cool squishy dirt

just call me Mud Dog

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mud dog by Angie Quantrell

 

Accident? Perhaps. Digging all on purpose. Bath not as popular.

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Happy Hump Day Haiku Challenge: Dog vs Cat

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purple tongue panting

sun-heated fur, sunshine paws

I hike! I like! ruff

 

on a scale of 1 to 8, I’m a ca-nine by Ally Andersen

 

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aloof feline boss.

I rule, command, what I see.

know this, slave, or die.

 

cat-ness by Angie Quantrell

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Teacher (the older one) and student (from way back when in 3rd grade) who is now a senior in high school!

Fun! What a lovely, well-spoken young lady! It was a joy to spend time with her.

 


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Book Report: Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners

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Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners

by Natalie Rompella

Sky Pony Press, 2017

 

What’s a girl to do when she is suddenly placed in a class WITH the hard-nosed teacher and WITHOUT her best friend and co-chef? The project they have been planning for years is swept off the table and the friends are paired with new partners.

Ana is devastated to learn she must partner with Dasher, a new kid from Alaska. All the new girl talks about is sled dogs. Worse, she has no culinary skills! Even worse, best friend Lily is paired with Via, another non-cook but super cool girl.

AND only Lily knows the truth about Ana. OCD dogs her every waking minute, leading Ana to obsess over germs and wash her hands to the point of cracked, chapped skin.

There are so many great things about Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners! I loved the characters and the middle school angst. The finer details of friendship, making new friends, OCD, school, projects, hobbies, teamwork, trying something new – all of these important issues play together in this engaging chapter book.

I learned new information about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and treatment for this disorder. I also learned many new things about racing sled dogs and creating unique recipes. Readers will find at least one thing to identify with through the characters in Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners. Readers looking for books about dogs, friends, cooking and creating, going to school, or OCD will love this book.

Two thumbs up for Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners by Natalie Rompella.

P.S. ACTUAL recipes are shared in this book, creations by the main characters.

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I won a copy of Cookie Cutters & Sled Runners after reading an interview with Natalie Rompella and commenting about her new book at groggorg.blogspot.com. You can read the interview here.