Fireflies: A Writer’s Notebook by Coleen Murtagh Paratore

Fireflies: A Writer’s Notebook by Coleen Murtagh Paratore (Little Pickle Press, July 2014) is a delightful full-color journal for the aspiring writer.

Filled with writing prompts and ideas, Fireflies is compared to a jar full of fireflies for you to watch for “sparks.” I loved this analogy. Although I am primarily a nonfiction writer (i.e., educational materials and summaries, book reviews, personal essays about my homeschooling experience, and so forth), I too find that brainstorming ideas helps “spark” even more ideas.

Fireflies gives writing prompts on about half of the page. The other pages are a combination of both lined and unlined pages for writing ideas down. I love how there was a variety of different pages to choose from for writing ideas. It is helpful to have writing prompts, but it is the open space and the gorgeous layout that makes this a book that creative writers will love to doodle in!

Note: I received a digital review copy of this book for review consideration.

Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torbin Kuhlmann

Beautiful illustrations tell the story of a creative flying mouse in Lindbergh: The Tale of a Flying Mouse by Torbin Kuhlmann (North South books, 2013). When new mouse traps and an abundance of cats overrun the city where a clever (unnamed) mouse is living, he decides he must go to America for freedom. His creativity and insight help him build himself a plane, and he flies to New York.

This longer-than-normal picture book is a masterpiece of art. Gorgeous realistic paintings show the mouse in various stages of the story: reading a book, avoiding the mouse traps, drawing and creating airplanes, avoiding bats and owls, and flying through the sky into New York, where he is greeted as a hero. I loved the paintings, and although the story itself was cute, it was the paintings that made this book a delight for me. Continue Reading

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

In The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (HarperCollins, 2012), a mall circus gorilla, Ivan, comes to view his life in captivity differently when a baby elephant, recently kidnapped from her home in Africa, joins the mall circus. With a poignant and distinct voice, The One and Only Ivan was a book that touched me deeply, and I cried with Ivan as I longed for a happy ending! Ivan is about friendship, hope, and forgiveness. In so many ways, Ivan is well deserving of its 2013 Newbery Award.

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Benjamin Franklin by Walter Isaacson

Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson (Simon and Schuster, 2003) is a fantastic portrait of a complex man. I have always loved Ben Franklin (ever since I read Ben and Me by Robert Lawlor as a child). Reading Isaacson’s biography helped me to see why I liked it him so much: he was, in general, a likeable man.

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