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The Thing About Yetis 

The Thing About Yetis 

There is so much to love about The Thing About Yetis. The story describes the different sides that people (and yetis) have — loving winter AND summer — and why that’s a good thing. It has some really good messages, like learning to be flexible and the limits of labeling yourself. My kids (and I) love to look through the cute illustrations, which have a fun, flat illustrative style, which reminds me of retro animation, with an updated look.

Each illustration has clever details and my kids giggle about all of the fun activities Yetis would do. I also appreciate that the children are multicultural and there is even one child participating in the fun from a wheelchair, which is great. The book itself is well-made and well-bound, with thick, high-quality paper and printing, and a fancy book jacket. This is a delightful book that my family and I enjoy re-reading again and again.

Loving Family Books

Loving Family Books

I hesitate to use the words “Instant Classic” — but not when a children’s book is as wonderful as this! Nowadays, it seems like our children (and grandchildren) are away from us more and more often. The demands of work, and distance we all seem to have to move away to find work, can make it more and more difficult to reassure our kids and grandkids that we always love them. Especially when you’re young, it can be hard to feel confident and capable when an uncaring-world threatens, all around.

This simple book turns that quandary on its head, offering a lovely rhyming poem which tells our kids that whatever they see around them can remind them of our on-going love for them (the wind is like our kisses, the waves are like us waving to them, and so on). The wonderfully sweet illustrations, rooted in a retro illustrative style, warmly convey the meaning of the words, that neither distance, nor all that’s going on around us, will weaken our love for them. Such a wonderful — and needed — book!



Accepting tragedy can be very difficult, for adults and children. Those mental and emotional difficulties compound when hardships follow one another — which often seems to be the case, especially once you’re traumatized and every challenge seems especially awful and threatening. “Misery loves company,” notes this beautiful and comforting book. One answer is to turn to help others, even when we have little to share, since “What is given from the heart reaches the heart.”

Here, a family that has faced the death of the father turns to help another family, in their congregation, who lost their home in a fire. The boy makes a children’s book to share with a girl his age. “Seeing li’l Sarah happy made me happy, too.” It’s a wonderful story, well told, with moving folk-art illustrations. The book comes with high quality binding and printing, on quality paper, with full-page illustrations throughout.


20 Ways To Draw a Tree – Book Review

20 Ways To Draw a Tree – Book Review

20 Ways to Draw a Tree has ideas for drawing items from nature, like ferns, acorns, flowers, shells and more and lots of space is given to practice and have fun. Each natural object has twenty variations of different styles and amount of detail. I enjoyed looking at all of them and then trying out ideas from several of the drawings to form my own composite image. I made some in pencil and others I colored in with markers and I’m having a lot of fun experimenting and (hopefully!) increasing my drawing skills. Looking forward to checking out other books in this series!

LEGO Book Reviews

LEGO Book Reviews

This is a great book that helps you add movement to your LEGO creations. It is designed to help those with the “LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox” set (#17101) take their creations to the next level. That set includes 847 pieces, and is designed to be a fun robot building set, which also offers simple and educational coding/programming. While the coding software is easy to do, care needs to be taken to allow your robots to run smoothly in the real world, like adding pauses to give your robot time to complete each instruction. So, once you’ve made it through the basic instructions, and you’re ready to get more out of your LEGO Boost set, that’s where this book comes in.

It shows you — in a compelling, entirely visual layout — how to create specific types of movement that would be helpful in creating various kinds of vehicles, robots, “weaponry,” and other machines. There are nearly 100 projects, all of which only require that one LEGO Boost set to complete, and while not exactly easy, are straightforward and can be completed by almost anyone with experience creating with LEGO bricks. Projects include things like launching “rockets,” how to get your robot to “walk,” creating drivetrains for multiple “train” cars, or drawing specific patterns with a pen. Each project obviously opens doors for all sorts of creations once each ability is mastered. It’s a great way to add an extra and inventive bit of STEM into you or your kids’ lives.


We have a lot of LEGO expertise in our home, so we’re glad to find this book that helps the younger ones join in! This book, intended for all ages — boys or girls — walks you through five chapters of how to make fifty different (toy) animals, fish, and insects. The book is well-bound soft cover, with a deluxe binding, printed in nice paper in full color, with clear diagrams and excellent photos that make it very clear what to do next, even for those who aren’t the best readers just yet.

Each chapter offers increasing complexity, but all are fairly simple for anyone to make. Each project can be made in one sitting, and each is laid out very well. Projects are divided up into a visual listing of all the parts needed for each project, and then there are numbered step-by-step photos, with the pieces used in each step shown. The instructions include minifigs offering timely tips, too. The animals are a little clunky looking, more like a toy than the actual animals, and yet they require few blocks, so it’s a great way to start out. My whole family is happy to find a great way for everyone to join in the fun of LEGO!


Is your workplace one of those where showing off a huge LEGO Star Wars space ship on your desk might send the wrong message? Are you concerned about drawing a critical eye instead of merely showing off your clever creativity, masterful skills, self-starter dedication, and overall “nerd cred?” Do you wonder if it’s unwise to tempt coworkers’ inaccurate assumptions about your dedication to the workplace? But you’d still like to surround yourself with mementos of your favorite (e.g., LEGO) hobby?

Then you may be in the same boat as someone very close to me who shall remain nameless and whom I might refer to with randomly-selected initials of “DH.” We were both delighted with this book because it: (1) offers very small, yet incredibly inventive, LEGO sculptures / “micro cities;” which (2) look great-yet-casually-unassuming in a staid workplace setting; and (3) is a beautiful LEGO book, with excellent printing, binding, and design; and, (4) offers LEGO projects which are remarkably small (and thus do not require additional LEGO brick purchases)(a personal favorite). The book is seriously a great gift idea, as are the micro city sculptures/projects within.

The (amazing looking) book follows a fairly standard LEGO layout, with a listing of bricks needed for each building/bridge/etc. Yet this book includes text description for dense or complex constructions, which are most welcome. There are chapters broken up mostly by architectural styles for each miniature cityscape, including: Gilded City, Upper Brick Side, Bridge Town, Steamworks, Tomorrowland, Utopia, and Strange New Worlds, along with a chapter, The Finishing Touch, which covers general/re-used elements such as roadways, fountains, trains, and bridges. Full-color and full-page photos and diagrams are a huge help.


Has your family watched the LEGO movies umpteen times? Have you entered the looking glass and now have your own LEGO installation in a room unto itself? And are your in-house LEGO fanatics a little frustrated that their magnificent cityscape creations look a bit like, well, a bunch of LEGO bricks piled up on one another? If so, your family may be as happy as mine with this inventive and clever LEGO book. I think my family felt like they’d have their own LEGO Inception city and ended up with a pile of LEGO bricks, which can be hard to design into recognizable architectural landmarks.

This book really helps out. It is very well-designed, with full-color and great photos and diagrams throughout. The chapters cover a variety of city or town settings, including public places, pirate-y harbors, and residential or commercial neighborhoods. The book has minifigs offering tips and calling attention to realistic details. Many features are not actually explained, just shown, although those that involve several hard-to-see components (e.g., old fashioned style windows, ice cream display cases) are broken out with explanatory diagrams.

It’s all pretty simple to follow, especially for more advanced builders. The book itself is beautiful, and would make a nice coffee table book, too. There is also a section on micro-buildings for those built at a smaller scale than those sized to accommodate minifigs as the people walking about. My family is recreating a Paris cafe and apartments, like those in “Inception” (minus the mind-bending upside down versions!). All together, it’s a very helpful book for those wanting to take their LEGO projects to the next level!


I don’t know if there is a Bible for master LEGO builders, but this appears to be it. If you’ve seen the stellar LEGO models of Rivendell or Hogwarts online, the author was the creator of each (and so much more). Plus, the “1,001 ideas” slogan is entirely realistic. It’s a very well-designed book with great layouts and simple text explanations for basic elements. It is a really worthwhile and truly remarkable book.

Chapters include brickwork, wall cladding and shingles, curved walls, framing and paneling, patterned walls, molding and millwork, simple windows, custom windows, ornamental windows, window framing and decor… you get the idea. So much here. The chapters are broken up into various sub-sections and projects, and run the gamut from ancient, to fanciful, to everyday, to futuristic. For serious builders, or wannabe-serious-builders, this is all kind of amazing. Highly recommended.

The LEGO Neighborhood Book

The LEGO Neighborhood Book

Our family just loves The Lego Movie, and they are excited about the upcoming sequel starring Lego Batman. We’re such fans, that we’ve have decided to work towards the coveted title of Master Builder and create our own secret Lego worlds in our basement.

The LEGO Neighborhood Book shows you how to build an entire town, using easy, straightforward, step-by-step illustrations, similar to those in official sets. It shows you how to build exterior and interiors in a modular style that can be used and re-used to make any type of city or town locale you want. We’re starting small and working up to the more complex structures, I think we’ll be working on it for a while, but it’s something our whole family really enjoys!

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Book Reviews: 50 Things About Space, Inventions and the Environment

Book Reviews: 50 Things About Space, Inventions and the Environment

The 50 Things You Should Know About series is, in my opinion, on of the very best children’s nonfiction book series ever, and perhaps the best in the past 20 years. It’s really an outstanding way to present what some children could view as dry subjects. Here, the kinetic book layout helps readers to engage with the science of outer space, from within our own solar system to far, far beyond. The infographic-styled pages are designed with bright colors, interesting photos, engaging illustrations, and fun directional graphics. Further, the text is written clearly, while propelling young readers — and old! — through complex concepts, both simply and enjoyably.


I love this book series, and this book on inventions is a must-buy for any library serving children. How many children will one day become engineers, thanks to this engaging book, I wonder? From bicycles to ballpoint pens, vacuum cleaners to video games, this compelling encyclopedia of gadgets, machines, and technologies helps to clearly and concisely tell the story of each invention’s development, describing the scientific principles underlying each one. Plus, it is all told and shown in such an exciting and dynamic way, it helps propel the reader through the entire history of discovery.


Years ago, I did a study on what school’s actually taught, and the one subject that persisted throughout every single K-12 grade was the environmental sciences. Our conclusion was that while this subject is profoundly important, it’s also quite complex, and can be more than a little overwhelming to young people. So I’m delighted to discover this easy-to-understand — and truly engaging — book covering the entire span of the subject.

Simply put, as yet another dynamic and fascinating entry into this fantastic book series, this is the best way I know of to introduce young people to the principles, problems, and predicaments of the environmental sciences. Each page is brimming with colors, graphics, quips, and photos that engagingly propel the reader through complex issues made easy to understand. Sections include Our Environment, Human Impact, Conservation, Waste and Pollution, Climate Crisis,and Looking After the Environment. It’s a fantastic introduction to environmental science which I’d recommend to any and every school, library, or home interested in reaching and teaching their children about this crucial subject.