ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), Faith, Nonfiction, Self-Help

Raising Emotionally Strong Boys, by David Thomas

AVAILABLE June 14, 2022

I am so impressed with this book! Although I’m not a parent, I have taught hundreds of boys ages 4-11 in my teaching career. I could not help but think of the variety of personalities and levels of emotional strength in my young students.

The insights and tools in this book are excellent. It emphasizes the importance of teaching boys not only to manage their emotions, but to give themselves permission to have them in the first place. It talks about how essential it is for boys to see examples of other men being vulnerable, asking for help, losing a competition, and mourning a loved one, all without compromising their manliness. That is something I appreciated greatly, being married to a very masculine, but also a sensitive man.

I also thought about the other men in my life: my second generation absent father, my brother who broke that cycle and is an extremely involved dad to his children, an amazing grandfather who often stepped into the father role, cousins and uncles, circling back to my husband, who is one of the most emotionally strong men I know.

While I welcome them, I was not prepared for the amount of Biblical references. They may, unfortunately, limit the book’s audience. The author uses Christ as the ultimate example of emotional strength. Who better to pattern your life after?

This would make a great book club selection, a terrific gift, and an interesting read for parents, grandparents, and teachers. Thank you NetGalley and Bethany House Publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

9.5/10 Stars

Faith, Faith and Religion, Nonfiction, Religion, Self-Help

Let God Love You, by Wendy Ulrich

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Once in a very great while I will read a book and think, “If I was more eloquent and disciplined, this is the book I would’ve liked to write.”

Fortunately, probably more successfully, Wendy Ulrich beat me to it.

For many, just believing that God exists is a challenge. That’s a subject for another book. (One I have no plans to write.) But for the rest of us, the biggest challenges can be keeping Him close, feeling worthy of His love, and being assured that He is listening when we pray. Admitting these challenges, even to like-minded friends and family, is equally difficult. It feels like a massive character flaw.

Wendy Ulrich, who spoke at an event I attended in 2012, addresses these challenges and more in her book Let God Love You: Why We Don’t, How We Can. Although Ulrich is a psychologist–which would normally have me running in the opposite direction–she doesn’t use professional terms to make her point. Instead, she takes a very courageous route, an incredibly vulnerable route, tapping into all of her own insecurities with her personal relationship with God over the years and sharing them with us.

At times I felt almost numb. Her sentiments echoed mine in a way that was so accurate, it was almost scary. Her concerns, her fears, her highs and lows felt so relatable. I could feel myself nodding along and thinking, “yes, Yes, YES…These are all things I’ve felt too.” After a while I thought, “I should just stop highlighting, because I’m highlighting everything.” Other reviewers have said the exact same thing.

Not only was it extremely satisfying to know that someone else has gone through the same struggles I have while trying to feel God’s closeness, but it was a relief to know the root of those struggles (she shares many possibilities) and to know that there is hope. Hope, being a core element of faith. Faith being the “assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Some may ask, “If being close to God is so hard, why try at all?” Good question.

Obviously, the desire to believe in God (or not) is a choice we all make. But, like anything else worthwhile, it takes practice. Knowing there is hope of getting closer to Him by understanding what we might be doing to keep Him at a distance is a major step. The most important lesson I learned is that we often project human flaws on God because being flawed humans–who often hurt and disappoint each other– is all we know.

It’s been a long time since I could honestly say I was “blown away” by a book, but I was with this one. Yes, it forces introspection and self-examination, sometimes admitting things we are secretly ashamed of and have tucked away, possibly for years. But for those of us who think having a better relationship with God is worth it, which I most certainly do, this book is a wondrous read that far surpassed my expectations. And, while Ulrich is an LDS author, the principles of the book are for anyone and everyone.

10/10 Stars

Nonfiction, Self-Help

If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? by Alan Alda


Make no mistake, I’m a huge fan of Alan Alda. M*A*S*H has been a staple in my family since I was a kid and my husband and I still continue to enjoy it immensely. The day when Alan Alda is no longer with us (hopefully long into the future,) it will feel like losing a relative.

So when I discovered that he had a podcast on communication (thoroughly enjoyable, check it out on iTunes and other platforms) and a book on the subject (published in 2017) I decided to check it out.

Many of us know that after 11 seasons of M*A*S*H, Alan Alda also went on to host Scientific American Frontiers on PBS for another 11 years. This last show led him to notice a common skill often missing from the scientific community–effective communication.

After speaking with university deans, a lobbyist friend, and various others with a shared vision, the Alda Center for Communicating Science was born at Stony Brook University in New York. It’s been his passion ever since.

In his book, If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face? Alda talks about the evolution of the center and its work. This hearkens back to his early days as a theater actor, taking classes to hone his craft and doing acting exercises. These exercises promoted both trust and unity among the actors, which resulted in a better performance.

Trust and unity. These are key. By using acting exercises and other theater games, the Alda Center teaches science students at all levels and future professions on how to communicate better. Much of the book is dedicated to the particulars of the exercises, which was a bit tedious at times, and the practical outcomes in either the real or experimental worlds.

Communication is discussed within various categories of the scientific community: labs, research, medical and dental, as well as within business, marriage/partnerships, and even with autistic children. I preferred these sections more that the descriptions of the exercises, which almost seem better suited for a supplemental workbook.

However, all of it was interesting. The heart vs the head, the importance of reading body language, and the most necessary trait in effective communication–empathy. And, while I found myself skimming over the various theater games and exercises, the core skills and feelings we need to develop and maintain, now more than ever, were both helpful and poignant. A powerful reminder that what every human really wants is to be heard.

8/10 Stars

For more information on the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science and Alan Alda’s podcast, Clear and Vivid, visit

Faith, Religion, Self-Help

Christ In Every Hour, by Anthony Sweat


Anthony Sweat, a BYU professor and popular Education Week and Time Out For Women speaker, is one of those talented communicators who can “dial up” a presentation to include heavy doctrinal insights or “dial it down” to make it relatable to the masses but still very powerful.

His most recent book, Christ In Every Hour, is somewhere in the middle. It is both readable and deep, sharing examples of people who have endured great crises with faith and scriptural examples (often from the life of Christ) to instruct us in how we may become more like the Savior, our Ultimate Teacher.

At its core it is a teaching book, and I came away having learned many things I either did not know had not pondered in depth. One of my favorite explanations was the idea of Christ as the “bridegroom,” a term often used in Christianity. Despite numerous times hearing this in Catholicsm and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Letter-day Saints, the whys and wherefores escaped me until reading about it Christ In Every Hour. Another terrific explanation was about the importance of the Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine, why it was so significant and what it symbolizes through the ages for all of us. (I hope I have the opportunity to work it into a church talk one day! But I probably just jinxed myself for writing that.)

The book culminates into a clever acrostic:








Overall, this book is excellent and I highly recommend it. It’s audience is wide and beyond the scope of Latter-day Saints, appealing to anyone who wants to nurture their relationship with the Lord and make Him a part of your every day life.

9.5/10 Stars


Faith, Nonfiction, Religion, Self-Help

Faith Is Not Blind, by Bruce C. and Marie K. Hafen


I recently heard an interview with Bruce and Marie Hafen and I was so impressed that I decided to find their book, Faith is Not Blind. Bruce Hafen has been dean of the Brigham Young University Law School, president of Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho,) and is a long-time General Authority. He and his wife, Marie, have co-authored several books together.

A short but very powerful book, Faith is Not Blind speaks mainly to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but like Sheri Dew’s Worth the Wrestle, it is for anyone (or anyone related to someone) suffering a faith crisis or someone merely “going through the motions” who wants more. In other words, it casts its net fairly wide.

Because many questioning their faith, whether it be faith in God or their particular organized religion, feel a tug-of-war between logic and belief–opting for logic–the Hafens approach faith from a logical view. They know their audience.

Main points, upon which the book is built, are these:

  • real vs. the ideal
  • early innocent simplicity
  • bewildering complexity
  • mature enhanced simplicity

The last point, mature enhanced simplicity, is the ultimate goal for anyone who wants to break the confines of their struggles and rediscover faith. This usually only comes as the result of complexity. The complexity stage, however, is where many people get stuck, often for a lifetime, often leading to “intellectual apostasy.”

The Hafens assure the reader that emerging from complexity and progressing to mature enhanced simplicity with both faith and individuality intact is a very attainable goal, but it requires work and participation. There is no getting something for nothing. Understanding the ways modern society tries to prevent reaching the goal of mature enhanced simplicity is also key and something they discuss in depth. Personally, I found the idea of the “burden of proof” shift over recent years amazingly accurate.

Without being preachy, the Hafens accomplish a great deal in fifteen brief chapters. The reader will find himself holding up the figurative mirror and self-examining his own faith, as well as feeling more compassion and understanding for loved ones still stuck in the mire of bewildering complexity. At the very least, we learn that faith and logic do not need to be mutually exclusive, but can build upon each other to create one great end result.

It is a brilliant book.

9.5/10 Stars

Bonus Link: Bruce and Marie Hafen discuss stages of faith in the ALL IN podcast.

Part 1: Click HERE              Part 2: Click HERE


Faith, Nonfiction, Religion, Self-Help

All These Things Shall give Thee Experience, by Neal A. Maxwell


One of the most beloved apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Elder Neal A. Maxwell. Known for his compassion and his intelligence, Elder Maxwell passed away in 2004 after an eight year battle with leukemia.

At the time of his passing I was in the middle of a self-imposed “hiatus” from Church activity and, although I feel it was something that I, personally, needed to go through in order to shape who I am today, I do not recommend it. It was, in retrospect, both a waste of time and time wasted (not the same thing.) There are so many things I do not know but want to know and so many things I want to learn that I could’ve pursued years ago.

One of those things about which I’ve felt a recent desire to become better acquainted with the lives and teachings of Church leaders, past and present. Elder Maxwell has always been in my peripheral vision but it wasn’t until recently, while in the midst of several exhausting weeks of different trials and challenges, that I decided to read this particular book. It had been sitting for years, unopened, in my Deseret Bookshelf app. I read about two thirds of it and listened to the last third, read by Elder Maxwell himself in that fatherly voice of his, one that exudes both care and concern.

My immediate impression was that Neal A. Maxwell crafts his thoughts with the same quality as Mozart writing a symphony or da Vinci creating the Mona Lisa. This is not an exaggeration. He is one of the most masterful, exquisite writers I’ve ever encountered. But, like any masterful work, appreciating it requires focus and study. This is not a book you can skim or listen to in the background. While I did do some multi-tasking while listening, those tasks had to be fairly mindless in order to pay attention and ponder the messages.

If I had to choose 3 favorite chapters it would be these:

  • The Omniscience of an Omnipotent and Omniloving God
  • Prayer and Growth
  • Follow the Brethren

All of these chapters resonated with me for different reasons. Going into great detail about God’s omniscience helps us to understand that challenges help to shape us to become like Him one day, which should be our ultimate goal. Learning how to pray in a way God can answer has been a recent personal pursuit, so I was happy to learn more on the subject. Following the brethren (leaders) is a strong pep talk of a chapter, but sometimes tough love is the best course, especially when the only agenda behind that pep talk is to help the reader self-reflect and improve.

I learned a lot of things that I need to consider in my own life, especially when things are difficult. I also understand, more than ever, why Neal A. Maxwell was so revered. He KNOWS people, how they tick, how they function, how they act and react. I was amazed at his perception. This book is a treasure.

10/10 Stars

Nonfiction, Self-Help

The Ultimate Guide to Menstrual Cups, by Jackie Bolen


I have a new project! I’ve been researching ecological, cruelty-free health and beauty products over the last several months (one of the reasons why this blog went dormant for a while.) This quest has led me to reusable menstrual products, mainly menstrual cups. (All together now…”eewwww.” And now, “What the heck is a menstrual cup?”)

Developed in the 1800s, redesigned in the 1930’s, and finally coming into prominence in the last decade, menstrual cups are similar to tampons, except that they collect the flow instead of absorbing it. Made of medical-grade silicon or TPE (thermoplastic elastomer,) they are healthier (virtually no risk of TSS!), more comfortable, and more economical. Choosing the right one, however, is a process that requires time, patience, knowledge, and research.

I have learned A LOT about these little marvels recently, enough to know that the limited resources of information vary greatly in their quality. There are only a small handful of websites and Youtube channels that I would recommend. There is, however, only one book I would recommend, and that is this one, The Ultimate Guide to Menstrual Cups, by Jackie Bolen. It is only available in ebook form, and is on Amazon for $4.49.

The book is concise, informative, and thorough. In my experience, potential users always have the same questions and this book addresses all of them.

9.5/10 Stars

Nonfiction, Philosophy, Self-Help

The Book of Joy, by Douglas Abrams


Despite having only met a handful of times, the Dalai Lama and Anglican Archbishop Tutu are terrific friends. Their mutual love, respect, generosity, and self-deprecating humor is wonderful to witness. The Book of Joy, by Douglas Abrams, chronicles a meeting spanning several days in which the author both observes and asks questions of these two revered spiritual leaders. The questions are about joy, happiness, the toxic state of the world and how to find joy and happiness within it. There are also questions regarding their personal lives, experiences, and challenges.

Both men have overcome great obstacles in regards to health and national politics. Both have had to adapt their spirituality and personal philosophies to the changing world. Both are highly disciplined (although the Dalai Lama clearly excels in this trait.) They also differ in many ways. Archbishop Tutu is a Christian, the Dalai Lama is a self-described “non-theist” Buddhist. The archbishop is married with children, the Dalai Lama leads a celibate lifestyle. The archbishop chose his path in life, while the Dalai Lama was sought out and plucked from his very large family at the age of 3 to fulfill his spiritual obligations.

The book could be described as “pleasant.” But I cannot describe it as groundbreaking. It is endearing to see the banter between the men and to hear about their histories, especially the Dalai Lama’s exile, but my interest did not go too far beyond this. The concepts of love, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness are, no doubt, very important, but I did not extrapolate any significant depth from the discussions. The Dalai Lama was always the one who initiated answers, while the archbishop usually “seconded” them. However, for a reader such as myself who believes in God and an afterlife, unlike the Dalai Lama (who frequently reminded the reader of this fact,) it often felt like a large puzzle piece was missing.

The person who doesn’t give himself enough credit is the author himself, who often contributed insights that elaborated and enhanced the discussions. As the book continued I found myself highlighting more and more of his thoughts. By the end, after color coding the contributions of all three men involved, the Dalai Lama had the most highlights, the author was second, and the archbishop was third.

Make no mistake, I do think an audience exists for this book. Someone who reveres these men more than myself, someone who is a nontheist or agnostic, someone who lacks personal or scriptural resources on joy and happiness, someone who wants to read a pleasant book about joy without digging too deep, someone who enjoys a wider range of reading material than myself…there are plenty who would enjoy this book very much. Sadly, my enjoyment had its limitations.

7.5/10 Stars



Nonfiction, Philosophy, Self-Help

The Majesty of Calmness, by William George Jordan


The path of truth, higher living, truer development in every phase of life, is never shut from the individual–until he closes it himself. Let man feel this, believe it and make this faith a real and living factor in his life and there are no limits to his progress.

The Majesty of Calmness can best be described as a handbook to Life. Published in 1900, its message is just as relevant today. It should be required reading for everyone, no matter their belief system, as it addresses and is respectful to all. One must read it with the mindset that we all need to improve. Reading it with the mindset that we have Life figured out because of age and experience will erode its wisdom.

The author suggests that Calmness as a state of mind is the ultimate achievement. Others may interpret it as an advanced state of Faith, but still a reachable goal we should all desire.

The author also discusses Happiness, Satisfaction, Contentment, and Pleasure—what they are and what they are not, which is most important, and how to achieve it. That power is innate and has nothing to do with the world’s definitions of success. Conversely, the author also addresses Cynicism, Negativity, Failure, and Comparison–their causes and the damage they do if we indulge them.

Self-realization of these things, plus a desire to always improve, helps us to attain that state of Calmness—the umbrella philosophy of the entire book—it becomes our silent companion in the best of times, preparing us for the worst.

The author’s observations of different types of people, emotions, and reactions is incredibly perceptive. He acknowledges that, yes, Life often is unfair and, yes, it seems like wickedness often prevails, but our behavior in challenging situations can still make us victorious, if only in our own mind.

I highly recommend this book. It’s only $1 on Amazon Kindle. It is subtle, but powerful, like a trusted friend helping to center us on a bad day, or a quiet prayer of supplication being answered.

10/10 Stars

Nonfiction, Religion, Self-Help

Face to Face: Seeking a Personal Relationship With God, by S. Michael Wilcox


True confession time: I do not read a lot of Church books. I have bought a few by Church leaders or scholars I’ve heard speak in person, but usually end up giving them away or let them collect dust on a shelf. I just gravitate to other genres.

Still, I probably own more by S. Michael Wilcox than any other LDS writer, mainly because he is my favorite (and husband’s favorite) speaker at BYU Education Week. I try to attend every class he teaches and we own several of his talks on CDs that we listen to on the long drive home from Provo, Utah.

Three nights ago I was experiencing some inner turmoil. I had prayed for solace but felt inspired to take this book off the shelf and give it a real chance. That, in itself, was an answer to prayer. And yes, although Bro. Wilcox makes definite references to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the lessons, examples, most scriptures, and other references are not “LDS specific.” In fact, one of the greatest things about Bro. Wilcox–something that makes me respect him even more–is that, instead of negating the value of Christian writers outside his faith, he employs their teachings (positively) to edify the point he is trying to make.

I would call him a true “scholar of the humble heart.” In the spirit of extreme humility and courage, he uses very personal struggles from his own life as examples. Sometimes we look at men (and women) of faith such as Bro. Wilcox and assume that they have always been that way. Not so. He goes into great detail about times in his life where he has wrestled with doctrinal concepts, times where he was not the husband he now wishes he was, and the many times he has brought these challenges to God. More often than not, great patience was required before the answers came–but they did.

The difference between Bro. Wilcox and so many of us in our own prayerful wrestlings, is that he is more determined and more diligent than most. When one approach doesn’t work, he tries another. I love the way he creates conversations between himself and the Lord. I would never have the courage to do this. They are familiar, but loving and respectful. Example: “Mike, why don’t you ask me what you should pray for?”

I learned so much from this small 148-page book. Whatever your faith–even if you are new to prayer and conversing with our Father in Heaven–I recommend it. Highly.

9.5/10 Stars

Nonfiction, Philosophy, Religion, Self-Help

The God Who Weeps, by Terryl and Fiona Givens


As I review The God Who Weeps, by Terryl and Fiona Givens, we must first discuss “audience.”

  • There are those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) who have great interest in the philosophical workings of their church. They enjoy dissecting, discussing, and analyzing the church to which they belong. They deeply ponder its scriptures, standards, doctrine, and history. By doing this, it only strengthens their testimonies and beliefs. (Many who find great satisfaction in such discussions, including friends of mine, belong to a network called the Mormon Transhumanist Association.)
  • There are other Christians (“other,” because Mormons are also Christians) and non-Christians who are interested in the LDS Church, who perhaps have no desire to become LDS, but are still curious and interested in reading a philosophical approach such as this one.
  • And there are those who make it their life’s work to study religions, either professionally or as a hobby–religions which fall under the umbrella of Christianity, as well as Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc., but are mostly interested in comparing and contrasting the various faiths and gleaning, what they perceive, as the best qualities of all of them. “Best,” of course, being subjective to the individual.

While reading The God Who Weeps, I identified people with interests and pursuits, like those above, as the book’s target audience.

Unfortunately, I do not fall in any of those categories. While I am an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons,) it is my experience that over-analyzing my faith and Church doctrine also over complicates it and has negative effects on my personal testimony of what I believe to be true. As a result, I usually avoid books such as this one.

That is not saying I don’t recommend The God Who Weeps. There is much good in it. Let’s look simply at the title. The idea of a “God who weeps” is that there is a loving Heavenly Father–an actual FATHER–who cares for us so deeply that our pain is His, our setbacks/worries/challenges/heartbreaks are things He mourns for right along with us.

It is this personalizing of God that I find so attractive and dear about the teachings in the LDS Church. (Among other things.) I feel He knows me individually, hears and answers my prayers, and knows the worries and concerns of my heart.

This Heavenly Father I love so very much is discussed in The God Who Weeps. However, I also feel like the best ideas (those with which I can most identify) are buried under a lot of philosophy and ideas that the authors admit they don’t agree with, but still discuss as a way to promote their original thought: that Mormonism makes sense of life.

So, I have to ask myself, what is the purpose in writing a book like this? To help Mormons feel better about a church they already belong to? To give non-Mormons an analytical perspective?

I would hope that a book like this, at the very least, strengthens the testimony of an LDS Church member. I would also hope that a book like this, at the very least, sparks interest about the LDS Church in someone who is not a member–with the disclaimer that true faith in God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ–as well as discernment about which church is true–may begin by reading a scholarly book like this one, but is actually created and nurtured through sincere scripture study, humble prayer, and a heartfelt witness of the Holy Ghost.

8.5/10 Stars


Nonfiction, Self-Help, Travel

How to Live in a Car, Van, or RV, by Bob Wells


This book I read purely for fun and because it seemed interesting. Despite the fact that we are the owners of a mini motor home, it is unlikely that it will become our full time home.  Still, I admire anyone who can strip away their possessions to just the basics and find joy and fulfillment in that kind of life.

The author of this book, Bob Wells, began his life as a vandweller (all one word) out of sheer necessity. He was going through a messy divorce and couldn’t afford to even rent an apartment. This man thrives on living simply.  So much so, that when he got financially on his feet and remarried, he ended up divorcing a second time because living in a “stick and brick” house became unbearable for him. (“Bye, Honey, I’m leaving you for a van…”)

Now, for most of us, RV and trailer living would be like living in a really small house but still with basic conveniences. Bob looks at that as excessive, and advocates living in a box van or even your car. It is almost like a religion for him, and he lives on public land for free and never pays for a campground or uses hookups.

That is fine for him. And if that is a lifestyle that appeals to you he does have some good ideas. However, as a rule-follower, I have a hard time with the idea of purposefully drawing unemployment benefits so he only has to work for half the year. It’s one thing to live off the grid, it’s another thing to take advantage of the system while boasting that you don’t live within it.

For someone who, because of necessity or desire, wants to scale down their living quarters to a car, van or RV, this book might be helpful. Be warned that it does not give any instructions on using RV plumbing or electrical systems. Also be prepared for decent writing but tons of type-os of every kind. Whether or not this book was self-published, it was carelessly edited.

In the end, read it for your own amusement, but choose this lifestyle at your own risk.

7.5 out of 10 stars

Nonfiction, Self-Help

Why Smart Kids Worry, by Allison Edwards

9781402284250_p0_v2_s260x420Recently, after visiting the Washington Anytime Library online and picking books on a variety of subjects, I became engrossed in Why Smart Kids Worry, by Allison Edwards. I am going to be as objective in my review as possible, but there are 3 things that may prevent me from being so.First of all, this book is written for parents of smart children who have high anxiety.  I am not a parent.  Second, this book is divided into 2 parts–describing different types of anxieties, and providing tools to help soothe them.  Not being a parent who needs the tools for a child I don’t have, I only read the first part, BUT…the author did mention the tools quite frequently in part 1.

Third, this book is written by a former school psychologist.  I am a former teacher.  Most teachers have a combative relationship with school psychologists and I am no different.

Despite those disclaimers, I did find the book quite interesting.  Why?  Because I WAS a smart kid who worried.  And I’ve grown into an adult who worries.  It is something I have to constantly talk myself through.

I never talk about this, but for the sake of this review I will…

As children, both my brother and I were identified as “gifted.”  Like the author states, that label can add some pressure and, whether conscious of it or not, smart kids are often worriers.  I cannot speak for my brother, who always seemed very calm and collected, but I was always a worrier as a kid.  I worried about being late for school, doing well on a test, about who would take care of me if my mom (a single parent) died, about what I would be when I grew up, about who I would marry, about how much my friends liked me, about how much sleep I was getting, if we had enough money (things were tight)…you name it, I thought about it and usually worried about it.

So, for me, the useful thing about this book is that I dug back into some of the things I used to worry about and felt less alone.  The author talks about the “snow globe.” A child puts everything through the filter within the small confines of their experience, and worries.  Smart kids take things to the next level.  She used the graphic images on the news after 9/11 as an example.  Adults would see the clip of the planes hitting the Twin Towers and know they were seeing a replay of something that already happened.

Kids look at those clips, and, if they are young enough, process it as an event happening in the moment.  News clip after news clip means that plane after plane is hitting the towers.  Smart kids then begin thinking within their sphere… “Hmm, planes hit towers.  We have planes and towers where I live, that means this could happen to me too.”

It seems outlandish, but I’ve seen this kind of connective thought process with students.

This book could be helpful to parents who have anxious kids.  No one wants their child to be pigeon-holed into a certain category, but when she talks about the way different kids process and communicate their anxieties, it might be comforting to parents to know that other families have experienced the same kinds of challenges.

The tools she discusses in Part 1 are helpful and productive.  Reminding parents that a child’s chronological, intellectual, and emotional ages are usually different, she informs parents that smart kids do not need to know about adult information happening in the family.  Very true.

I would recommend this book.  It is well organized and gives good advice to parents. Teachers and other caregivers may find it useful too.

8.5 out of 10 stars

Nonfiction, Self-Help, Young Adult

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, by Lynne Truss

ImageOh, I so wanted to like this book…

When one of the ladies in our book club suggested it for our May selection I was excited.  After all, as a former teacher I instinctively cringe at the sight of incorrect spelling and bad grammar.  But, alas…

Most of us have heard the joke.  The panda eats shoots and leaves.

Or does the panda eat, shoot, and leave?

This grammatical conundrum is one of many that is explored in Lynne Truss’s book.  Or is it Lynne Truss’ book?

Grammar and punctuation has its place in good writing and, of course, is essential when making one’s point, but is it necessary to devote an entire book to it?  Some say yes, some say no.  After starting the book and reading it thoroughly, I began to think no.  After all, I love chocolate, but I wouldn’t want to read an entire book about it.

I am one of those people who is constantly shaking their heads when I see things like:

“The dog scratched it’s ear.”  (It should be ITS.)

Or “Someone piled all of the jacket’s into a corner.”  (It should be JACKETS.)

This newly adopted problem people seem to be having with sticking unnecessary apostrophes into regular old plural nouns makes me think it is a comment on the whole of society.  BUT, I don’t find it entertaining to read about.  I don’t want to read about the history of the apostrophe and the evolution of its use down through history.  I’m sorry, I just don’t.

Having said that, the children’s version of this book is pretty entertaining because of its simplicity.  There are pictures to illustrate the meanings created by creatively-placed commas and a teacher might find this book very useful in the classroom.  If I had heard of it while I was still teaching, I probably would’ve used it too.  And the lady that suggested it, who is a school librarian, used the children’s book during our book club meeting.

I wish that was the one we read.  The adult version just gets old very fast.

6/10 Stars