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Battle Bugs #1: The Lizard War
Battle Bugs #1: The Lizard War
by Jack Patton
Edition: Paperback
Price: $4.75

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bugs Vs. Lizards, Oh My!, March 28, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I know that this book is geared toward BOYS but "Hey!", I'm a woman who has LOVED "Bugs" her entire life and that's going back many, many decades! I have spent hundreds of hours on my tummy watching ants, pill-bugs, caterpillars munching leaves, and billions of spider babies tumble from their cloud-like egg casing. And I can say with a very clear conscience, that I've never knowing killed an insect, but instead, scooping up any vagabond bugs inside the house with a jelly jar and gently releasing them back into their kingdom.

So, I was excited to preview and read a Pro-Bug book that didn't vilify insects but celebrated them, instead. And it does, gloriously so! The book introduces the reader to the wonderful world of "Arthropods: An animal with it's skeleton on the outside of it's body." I also like that the author used the correct word "insects" and not the overused and usually inaccurate "bug" word to describe arthropods.

This is the story-line: Max, a young boy, is gifted an ancient book, "The Complete Encyclopedia of Arthropod" (along with an enclosed magical magnifying lens) by his Mum. She works at an auction house and this book was found at an old estate. Max immediately runs to his room to peruse the book, and upon using the magical magnifier to look at an island on a 2-page map, is immediately whisked to Bug Island and is reduced to the size of a bug! He becomes an ally to the Bug Nation that is being threatened by the adjacent Lizard Island when an erupting volcano creates a new land bridge between the two islands.

This is a 3-part series and "The Lizard Wars" is book #1. It ends with a satisfactory ending of the Bugs winning THIS battle against the invading lizards but there is a mild cliff hanger as the lead lizard, General Komodo, tries to find a way to cross the river that aided in the bugs escape.

This is what I liked about the book:

1) PRO-Insect! Yeah!
2) Max is African American. Yeah!
3) Correct use of words and good description of insects.
4) Fast paced and a very easy read.

This is what I did NOT like about the book:

1) This is a PRO-bug book but a very, very ANTI-Amphibian book! Why?????? It seems odd that this series is wonderful at teaching children to enjoy the wonders of insects yet it paints tree frogs, toads, geckos and lizards in a horrid light! I don't understand the prejudice, especially if you are trying to teach young children that ALL of the living beings in the world have their own special place and should be appreciated.

I would much rather have had the "enemy" be the Volcano or some other natural disaster and the entire island population of lizards, frogs, scorpions and beetles join forces to escape the natural disaster.

2) The illustrations. Ugh. I do realize that this is a preview copy and that most of the renderings were just sketches, which I actually enjoyed viewing more than the "finished art" in the first couple of plates. I just didn't enjoy the literal 'perspective' of the drawings, which made Max's face look distorted and just plain "weird", with a lop-side face and one eye constantly larger than the next one. Also, the 'bugs' were made to look like Transformers, which I also felt was "too much". I've read and previewed three other illustrated children's books in the past week and although each had a unique style of illustration, I didn't have this "meh" reaction to how they chose to depict their characters. As an example: in the first illustration, Max's hand is over his terrarium, tossing in Oak Leaves to his Walking Sticks. The way the hand is drawn, it looks as if he has a Baseball in his hand rather than an open fist. Quite odd.

3) As I stated in my opening sentence, I'm a GIRL who LOVES bugs! I could only hope that a Bug-Loving Girl is added to the story-line so that it doesn't ostracize 50% of the "Human Bean" population. I have a female god-child that I read these books to and I'd love her to be included in the adventures.

On a neutral note: there is one mildly confusing sentence on Page 29: "The scorpion charged around the lizard as it retreated, holding a clawed foot to its injured snout." It is the LIZARD who's injured, not the scorpion! It would be a better read if the sentence was written, "While the lizard was holding a clawed foot to it's injured snout, the scorpion charged around it to hastily retreat."

Bottom Line: Great story, fast read, PRO-bug. Now, we just need a PRO-amphibian/Female friend aspect added to it and it would be perfect for both genders.


Classic Accessories 55-220-042401-EC Hickory Heavy Duty Patio Sofa/Loveseat Cover, Large
Classic Accessories 55-220-042401-EC Hickory Heavy Duty Patio Sofa/Loveseat Cover, Large
Price: $52.09
6 used & new from $47.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "Cover Up" that's NOT a conspiracy!, March 26, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Rain, Sleet, Endless Snow, Autumn Leaves and Dog Fur are just some of the icky things that want to land and STAY on my $$$$ cushions of our outdoor love-seat. If you've EVER had to replace them, you know it runs in the hundreds, even with Walmart prices, for new cushions. So, I learned pretty quickly after destroying an earlier set through negligence, to truly protect our new set.

Prior to ordering this custom cover, we had bought massive tarps from Lowe's, using bungee cords, weighted soda bottles with clip-caps...heck, even LOGS from our wood pile to keep that darn tarp in place! But, all you needed was a good 50 mph thunderstorm to pick up a corner of the tarp, rip it off the love-seat and fling it into the Walnut grove at the edge of our woods!

Since receiving this cover, in one week's time we've had record early Spring snow (6.5 inches); 2" of thunderstorm and 60 mph winds, and yesterday, record low temperatures with heavy frost. Each morning, when I go outside to walk the dog, I peer around the fence to look at our deck...and the cover is STILL IN PLACE!!!

It was very easy to slip over the love seat; I like the neutral colour which is very unobtrusive and the cinching aspects with the buckles and pull cords really helped to keep it locked down. I've only had it a week so I don't know how long it will weather but for now, it sure beats a ghastly "camouflage" tarp that rivaled geese in how fast it could take to the sky. :D


Cakes in Space
Cakes in Space
by Philip Reeve
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $9.87

5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar Adventure In Space!, March 26, 2015
This review is from: Cakes in Space (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
If there was ever a story that showed the power of the phrase, "Be Careful What You Wish For!", this little book drives the point home amidst stars, sporks, and cake crumbs!

Here is the story line: Astra, a plucky 10 year old girl, and her Mum, Dad, and baby brother, Alf, are all heading off for a ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY NINE YEAR long space ride to the planet "Nova Mundi", or literally "New World". They will all be put into suspended sleep, with the premise that 199 years later, they will land, disembark from the space ship and settle into their new home planet. (NOTE: there is zero mention of anything bad happening on their home planet to propel the move to another planet.)

However, a very unintentional "slip of the lip" by Astra, to a Food Processing Computer called "Nom-O-Tron" for the "Ultimate Cake", before she is put to bed, results in potentially life-threatening consequences for the 100's on board the space ship! Rather than Nom-O-Tron making a Swiss Roll or Angel Food or Red Velvet Cake, the food computer takes the entire ship "off line", diverting most of the ship's directives, to the task of making what the computer deems is the "Ultimate Cake". Astra is awoken from her suspended sleep 100 years into the voyage to find the space ship going completely off course from Nova Mundi and cakes!cakes!cakes...with eyes and teeth and waving arms and legs over-taking the space ship! With only her beloved "cuddly", Mammoth, and a resourceful robot, Pilbeam, and the late introduction of the quixotic and mysterious "Nameless Horror" coming to her aid, these 3 unlikely allies must fight the Man-Eating Cakes, reprogram Nom-O-Tron and get the ship back on course....or just another Day In Space. LOL

There simply are NOT ENOUGH WORDS that I can type to tell future buyers just HOW INCREDIBLE this little book is, both in terms of plot and illustrations. When I order children's books to read to my 4 y.o. God Child, I always read them first to not only become familiar with the text before it's read out loud, but also to edit out anything that I might find disturbing to a very young child. This book arrived on a blustery blizzardy day, PERFECT to make some cocoa for myself and settle in. It actually took me TWO days to read this book, not because of the length but because I was utterly captivated with the plot (and had to continually re-read passages over and over again) but more importantly, THE ILLUSTRATIONS!!!! (more on those, later.)
Please note: there is a lot of suspense in the plot but my wee 4 y.o. God Child did NOT feel threatened nor scared by the action.

And before you buy this book, be aware!!! You will have an unquenchable desire to eat cakes of ALL descriptions and you will also be helpless to go on-line and search for and BUY a stuffed Mammoth toy to gift to your child!!! So, get your spork ready for cake and your credit card ready for the purchase of the 'cuddly'. :D

Because there are so many incredible things to say about this book, I'm writing them Point By Point.

1) The size is 5.4 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches, which is exceedingly comfortable to hold in one hand and read (for an adult) and a perfect size for smaller hands.

2) Both the illustrator, Sarah McIntyre, and the author, Philip Reeve, are British. That means that there is a smattering of "British-Speak" in the writing such as "Brilliant/Keen/Pudding/" etc. If you've ever read any Harry Potter books and had no problem, then the few Brit words will not affect any understanding of the story. To my mind, being married to a Scotsman, I found having the slightly global usage of other words wonderful. :D

3) Hooray-Hooray for having a Multi-Racial family!!!! Astra, the main protagonist, is a young girl (10 y.o.). Her father is white, her Mum is black, and her baby brother, Alf, like Astra, is mixed race. And then that's that: no other agenda regarding race is anywhere in the book.

4) The Made Up Language!!!!! Oh my goodness, I knew from the Very.First.Page. that this was (hopefully) going to be a fun book!!! Immediately inside of the cover, on the first two pages, is an advert stating, "Begin a new life on Nova Mundi!", which is the new world that Astra's family is jetting off to now live upon. In the advert, it shows pictures of "Cuddly Wildlife: A Bun-Foo", which is a smiling 3-eyed bunny rabbit. Then, there's the "View Three Moons: Faith, Hope,....and LINDA!" (LOL) The advert also features photos of "Sunset over the Singing Mountains", which are mountain peaks singing Doo-Wap!

Throughout the entire book, there are the cutest, silliest and utterly delicious made-up words that can be read or uttered. I'm 62 y.o. and I was delighted with them; my God Child almost swooned when I read them out loud to her. :D

5) And now the illustrations. I wish I had the power to grant an award to Sarah McIntyre, for in all of my life, I've never seen such fanciful, delightful and CONSISTENT illustrations in my life! From the very cover to the very back cover, the reader is pulled into Astra's world and Sarah's drawings make that world come to life! Swirling dervishes of lines and colours and concepts enthrall you from page to page with the text interwoven among the pages. The use of coloured background pages going from black on white to pumpkin and then white on black make the read very, very interesting.

And whether Sarah did this with great intent or not, my god-child and I came up with a fantastic game of "Spot Mammoth!" (Mammoth is the name and description of Astra's beloved stuffed animal or 'cuddly' as they're called in the U.K.). With NO EXCEPTIONS anywhere...ANYWHERE...Sarah remembered to include a tusk, a leg, a tuft or the entire Mammoth in each drawing. There are some illustrations that are massively complex, covering two entire pages of the book, yet Sarah never "dropped the ball" on including even one leg of Mammoth in her renderings. As a former illustrator, myself, I have the deepest of respect for this consistency and it meant the world to both myself and my god child to continually "I Spy" Mammoth in each drawing. And as I mentioned earlier, when I got down reading "Cakes In Space", I immediately *googled* "Stuffed Mammoth Toys", found loads of them and ordered one to gift to my god child upon finishing the book. She now sleeps with her own Mammoth each night.:D

Why is this even important to me? Who knows? Why do we need to explain why we like the colour blue or strawberry jelly or fireflies? All I know is that from the very first glimpse of the cuddly Prehistoric Mammoth in the arms of a space girl from the future, I was sold. Whilst other children on board have cuddly bunnies and bears in tow, the fact that Atra has a MAMMOTH just made me instantly fall in love with her character. And just so future readers know, Mammoth plays a key role in Astra's survival, later in the book!

With most children's books, after you're done reading them, that's it, with the books being either embraced or donated. What I loved so much about THIS book is that it led to so many interactive activities! During the first reading, we played "Spot Mammoth". Then, I gave my sweetie her own Mammoth to love. We've also had a grand time making and baking our OWN scary cupcakes and Swiss Rolls, using candy corn for teeth and icing to draw crazy eyes upon their frosting, complete with sprinkles. I've read my own little darling "Cakes In Space", twice now, and it's easily become her favourite book of all the ones we've shared.

Usually, there is some "down-side" to a children's book but in my eyes, there is NONE to this one! Plot is fantastic, the book has suspense but is not scary,the drawings are top-notch, and there is compassion and ultimate understanding for Being's who are different from ourselves. I have also ordered the illustrator and author's other book, "Oliver and the Seawigs" as I am so impressed with their story telling.

And the last reason to LOVE this book: there's CAKE...loads and loads and loads of cake to dream about devouring...with a spork, of course!


Purina Beyond Dry Dog Food, Superfood Blend, Barley Sweet Potato and Cranberry Recipe, 14.5-Pound Bag, Pack of 1
Purina Beyond Dry Dog Food, Superfood Blend, Barley Sweet Potato and Cranberry Recipe, 14.5-Pound Bag, Pack of 1
Price: $27.99
5 used & new from $27.99

5.0 out of 5 stars How To Turn Your Dog Into a Pig! :D, March 20, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
My daughter visits us often and when she stays overnight or longer, she always brings her furbaby, Daisy, with her to run around on our acreage. I keep high quality food on hand for these visits.

On the day that this arrived in amazon's smile-box, Daisy was with us again. I dragged the box indoors and set it on the floor to deal with later. But, Daisy had other plans. Sealed in the box and surrounded by miles of brown paper, she clawed through the box right into the Purina bag, spilling it all over the floor! Now THAT'S validation for you on How Much Your Dog Will LOVE this food!

Daisy is NOT a picky eater and will chow down on the cheapest to most expensive food. But, she's NEVER had this reaction to any food before! We want her to take her time eating this food rather than 'wolfing it down' so we ended up mixing it 50/50 with another brand that I have. Well, that worked for one meal, as Daisy tipped the food bowl over so that she could find the choice pieces of this blend! Ah, Humans...we're SO silly!

So, now we use this as a training treat for her which is going very well with her training as a Sensitivity Dog (my daughter is a Physical Abuse Counselor).

I don't know which ingredient or combination of ingredients has driven Daisy to such ecstasy, but if Daisy's Happy, Mama & Grandma are Happy. :D


L'Oreal Paris Cosmetics Infallible Pro-Last Color Lipstick, Toujour Teaberry
L'Oreal Paris Cosmetics Infallible Pro-Last Color Lipstick, Toujour Teaberry
Price: $9.88
10 used & new from $3.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BUY THIS LIPSTICK!!! YOU WILL NOT BE SORRY!!! <3, March 19, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I grew up in the day and age when "ladies" wore hats, gloves and lipstick. As a young girl, watching these gorgeous women, I couldn't wait until I got to the age to wear "all of the above." Sadly, times changed and by time I WAS old enough, NONE of the above were being worn (along with abandoned bras) during the Age of Aquarius. More's the Pity.

However, I bucked the trend of going as "natural and unfettered as possible" and at least wore lipstick...which lasted all of about 20 minutes, if I was lucky. Throughout the decades, I've tried Lip Primers to lock in the colour, Permanent Stains that just made your lips look sad and tired, and more "24 Hour Lipsticks" than any one woman should own. At best, a product was used for a while and then tossed; at worst, it was used twice and then tossed. I simply gave up and kept my lipstick in a pocket so that I could apply it 5-10 times per day.

Enter L'Oreal's Paris Infallible Pro-Last Color. It was affordable enough, coming in at the mid-zone between Dollar Store and MAC lipstick, which is what I've settled upon. I was sent the "Toujour Teaberry" colour as a sample. When my sample arrived, it was simply shipped in an envelope and wrapped in bubble wrap...no instructions except for a mysterious #1 and #2 on the tube. Having NO instructions and having NO clue on how to apply it, I ended up accidentally REVERSING the recommended order and applied the balm 1st and then went over it with the lipstick. In my defense, I got the package from my post office on the way to work. LOL

The balm was amazingly soft, like rubbing a feather over your lips. The lipstick went on like every other lipstick that I've ever applied from a tube: ooey and gooey. I honestly forgot that this was allegedly supposed to be a Non-Smudge/Long Lasting lipstick, so when I went to blot off all the extra goo several minutes later, I was gobsmacked when the lipstick was not only SET...but NOTHING came off on the tissue!!!! It wasn't until after work, when I could get back to the Amazon product page, that I could read the instructions for the order of applying the lipsticks but also noted that it was, indeed, non-smudge and all day. I like the effect so much from my reverse order, that I see no reason to apply it, as recommended.

And Ladies...it IS All Darn Day Lipstick!!!! My job is a sales person for a garden center, which means that for at least 8 hours a day, I am talking and flapping my lips. The colour stayed on ALL DAY, never bled, didn't have to be re-applied and my lips are super-duper soft! And the colour that I was sent (Toujour Teaberry)? Honestly, the most BEAUTIFUL COLOUR LIPSTICK THAT I'VE OWNED IN MY LIFE!!!! It's like an intense 'berry' and bright but NOT outrageous. With my dark hair and blue eyes it is stunning to behold and I just couldn't be happier!

I normally pay from $15-$25 dollars for lipstick and the obligatory lip liner to "set" the lipstick. Now, I can abandon that nonsense and just focus on buying even MORE of this extraordinary lip product! I am hoping and praying that I can find this at my local mall so that I can try the colours against my skin rather than gambling on another perfect shade from online. But, if I can't locate it at a store, I'll just continue to order the shade I received.

L'Oreal...PLEASE continue to carry this amazing product! Don't "improve it"! Don't retire it! Just keep making your ladies happy by offering it for decades to come! :D


Firefly Hollow
Firefly Hollow
by Alison McGhee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.08

5.0 out of 5 stars A Charming Book of Loss and Gain, March 18, 2015
This review is from: Firefly Hollow (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is an engaging and charming book. There are lessons to be learned about life within the pages but it never comes off as didactic or tutorial. I will be writing about *Spoilers* at the end of the review so you can judge for yourself if these are the lessons you want your child to learn about.

Because it is not yet published and ONLY previewed, it has a 'split personality' regarding the illustrations. At the very front of the book, are "3 sneak previews of 15 full colour plates in the final publishing. Then, at the beginning of each chapter, there is a black and white illustration over the chapter number, very evocative of each chapter heading in the entire Harry Potter series. I'm deeply torn as to WHICH type of illustration for "Firefly Hollow" is "best"--my family is mad-crazy in love with Mary Grandpre's drawings so I like that 'nod' to the Harry Potter classics. However, the full page colour paintings by Christopher Denise are charming to the extreme. My wish? Include them BOTH and you have the best of both world's!

Firefly and Cricket dream BIG: Firefly wants to Fly to the Moon and Touch It while Cricket dreams of not only singing at baseball games but wants to PLAY in one too, becoming a baseball catcher. They are taught to live in fear of the Giants (humans) and are warned to stay away from them, at all costs. (Wise Words!) When they meet Peter, a child of about 8 years old whom they call a "Miniature Giant", Firefly and Cricket's first concern is "Is he by chance holding a jar?" But, all of them find a kindred spirit in each other and have to decide whether to do battle against the prejudices and fears they were taught to be "normal" or to embrace change, take a chance on the unknown and grow into who they really are. The River Vole, known as Vole in the book, is a peripheral character whose role is expanded as the book goes along, with a critical part near the end.

This is a charming and wonderful story that can be read, chapter by chapter to a younger child with good attention span or gifted to an older child that can read it to themselves. There is one off-page death (Peter's best friend Charlie has just died and he is coming to grips with his passing) and topics such as your upbringing teaching you Pre-Prejudice and how you deal with that issue. The writing is engaging and a fast and easy read; I also very much appreciated that one of the characters, Firefly, was a female and a spunky one at that. ALL girls need to be taught 'spunk' and that it's "Okay" to be strong and fearless without being a bully or foolhardy. We also enjoyed the unique "blinking light" language that the fireflies had among themselves; my god daughter immediately took to it by playing with a flashlight after the reading and creating her own language with the torch. :D

Now, for the *Spoilers*. Do NOT read any further if you do NOT want to know more about the book. I am placing the Spoilers in here so that as a parent, you can decide at what age this book is appropriate.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!

I loved this book as did my very young god-child (age 3 y.o.) but I'm sure that most of the more serious messages went right over her head at this age. These are the issues brought up by the author:

1) At what cost do you follow your dreams?
2) When your dreams truly make NO sense, should someone who loves you encourage or discourage you from attempting them?
3) Death. There is A LOT of loss and death in this book but 100% of it is "off page." Vole is the sole remaining member of his Vole Clan, as off page his entire family and Vole Village is swept away in a flood. Peter loses his best friend and is struggling with the loss through the entire book, until the very, very end. (we never find out 'how' Charlie, his friend has passed away.) Firefly struggles with the death of her mentor, Elder, who also dies off page. Cricket has a friend who is handicapped.

These are some mighty serious topics to be handled in a child's book and I truly applaud the author for handling such delicate subject matter in a way that kid's can digest it. Regarding #1 and #2, to an adult, it's pretty clear that a firefly will NEVER actually fly to the moon and that a cricket, who's best friend was maimed when she was struck by an errant 'lollipop stick', is EVER going to catch a baseball. Through 90% of the book, both Cricket and Firefly follow their dreams with only Cricket actually achieving his, when he catches an unconscious Firefly as she tumbles from the sky with her effort to fly to the moon. So, what does a parent do when a child that will NEVER play pro-ball or win American Idol do when their child believes that they can and will? Do you encourage delusional thinking or discourage it? I don't have the answer to that question. If an older child was reading this and asked me that question, I'd probably say, "You may not fly to the moon but you can help build the rocket ship that brings someone else there." or "You may not end up becoming a Hall of Fame Baseball Player but you can certainly play on a team." From personal experience, I've been a klutz my entire life but my parent's still enrolled me in 10 years of Dance Classes which I loved! I knew from my first day that the Joffrey would never be my future but I had fun and it was highly physical activity.

There is also the issue of Lack of Support. Both Firefly's and Cricket's Nations scoff at their dreams as they ONLY want to follow the coda to ensure survival. Separately, both Firefly and Cricket "run away from home" rather than face the non-support and that's when they meet Vole and become actual friends with Peter. Near the end of the book, both Nations come to embrace Firefly and Cricket's uniqueness and declare that "We missed you!", which would end up being a positive statement encouraging both Firefly and Cricket to go back to their Nations. But, oddly, despite this support, neither return to their clans but head off with Vole down the river. I found this odd as most people who have been bullied their entire lives only dream of ending up with ultimate support from their abusers but this subject matter was never really "wrapped up with a bow"; after the support, Firefly and Cricket just went on about their business.

Now, to the death issues. Firefly loses her mentor, Cricket has a disabled friend, Gloria, Vole loses his entire family, and Peter has lost his best friend, Charlie, through a mystery death. That's a LOT of loss! As I mentioned earlier, my 3 y.o. god daughter was too young to have the loss register on her but what about an older child? Will they be saddened? Depressed? Question 'WHY?' there's so much loss? I know that in the 7-book Harry Potter series there ends up being a tremendous amount of character loss but that's spread out over 7 books; all of this loss happens in ONE book. So, I don't know if this book would be excellent to help a child who is grieving from the loss of a pet/human and/or a child who has experienced no loss will not be affected by it.

Ending on a positive note, it IS a wonderfully written book, as an adult I thoroughly enjoyed it and my god-daughter enjoyed the fanciful characters, too.


Glamourpuss
Glamourpuss
by Sarah Weeks
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.11
72 used & new from $8.02

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Tale of Two Tails, March 18, 2015
This review is from: Glamourpuss (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
What a delightful tale and "tail" of a book, as seen through the eyes of both a cat and a dog!

Even the very cover of the book is true to the eponymously named title: Adorned with fuchsia-bestowed glitter stripes and a glittery name tag, this book is literally one that you can "judge by it's cover." :D

"Glamourpuss" is a charming short story for children written by Sarah Weeks and illustrated by David Small. If you are over the age of 50 years old, David's illustration style is a direct 'nod' to that highly stylized line-drawings that every 1950's-early 1960's publication had...and I love it!!!! Obviously, no child born today is going to know that this is an example from Throwback Thursday Illustration but as a godmother and future grandparent, I deeply appreciate what Mr. Small has achieved. Much like Charlie Brown's World, the human's faces are never seen: just their feet or arms, and it's told quite literally through the perspective of the cat and dog.

Depending upon HOW you read this to your child, it will take less than 10 minutes or much, much longer if you discuss the delightful pictures and engage your child with each page. It took well over an hour for me to read this with my god-child and she was engaged the entire time, with her plea to "Read it again!" as soon as we finished it. But, the second go through, it went much faster because the germane topics that I wanted to cover, had already been addressed. After I was done reading it, she immediately picked it up herself, and spent a good hour talking to herself (she can't read yet) and going over the drawings.

There are many ways that discussions can be led about this book. It can address the questionable practice of treating an animal like a human, a practice so out of control with so many people, today. Are dogs that are dressed as children happy? Is it innocent or cruel to anthropomorphize your pet by not allowing them to BE a cat or a dog? Then there's the jealousy issue as seen through both the cat's view point and the dog's: an intriguing and appreciated twist. The poor cat, who has been the centre of adoration for just "being" is jealous of the visiting relative's "Dress Up Doggy" and questions her value. Then, the poor dog, who is held hostage at the whim of it's owner for being a "living doll" is jealous of the cat for "just being allowed to be a cat" (albeit a very pampered indoor cat). Great topics of discussion with older children can be brought up about these topics such as "How to fight for your right to be appreciated for what you bring to the table" and "Learning to appreciate your unique style." It's also a wonderful teaching school for the camp of people who want their dog and cat to BE a dog and cat and not a sublimation tactic for a childless couple.

We have both dogs and cats (and fish and one bird) in our life. They are allowed to BE as they are and not prodded into being Show Animals. The four-legged fur-babies are allowed to run inside and out, roll in the dust, get cockle-burs in their fur and generally just appreciated for 'who and what they are.' If THIS is the message that you want to instill in your child, then this book does it grandly with humour and gorgeous illustrations.


The Honest Kitchen Halcyon: Duck & Ancient Grains Dog Food, 4 lb
The Honest Kitchen Halcyon: Duck & Ancient Grains Dog Food, 4 lb
Price: $57.99
7 used & new from $57.49

5.0 out of 5 stars If Puppy is Happy, Mama's Happy!, March 14, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Our adult daughter and her husband travel quite frequently for work, so we get to become the doting "Doggy Grandparents" while they are flying off, hither and thither. They feed their fur-baby labor-extensive raw food, of which they bring an adequate amount along with them for us to use. But, I still enjoy having a quality (and approved by them) pet food for treats and to 'fill in the gap.'
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My daughter and son-in-law were exceedingly happy with this company's Mission Statement and also the ingredients listed within. WE were very happy because it has the slightest of odors, unlike the raw food (which brings forth the gag reflex from me) or premium canned food (same reaction, on my part.) As others have mentioned, this is NOT a kibble but a ground, dust-like food that sadly resembles what I empty out of my Hoover's bin! LOL But, once liquid is added and it's allowed to hydrate and I mash it up a bit, it resembles more conventional food, minus the odor and space required for storage.

Daisy, a brilliant Cocker Spaniel, took right to it and could barely be restrained in her enthusiasm for it. THAT is good news for Pet Parents! Sometimes, though, pets of any species "go off" a new food, once the thrill is gone, but Daisy still seemed quite keen on it after 7 days of having it as a treat with her raw meal.

I do customize it a bit; we have access to endless amount of bones from our family butcher so I always make fresh beef or chicken broth each morning and add the cooled liquid to the mix. I realize this is a bit of Grandmum spoiling her baby, but isn't that our right? ;)

Expensive but the ingredients are healthy, there is very little odor, exceedingly compact, and Daisy loves it. What higher compliment can be given? :D


Tom's of Maine Long Lasting Natural Deodorant Stick, Powder, 2.25 Ounce
Tom's of Maine Long Lasting Natural Deodorant Stick, Powder, 2.25 Ounce
Price: $14.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Works Well and Healthy for You and the Planet, too. :D, March 10, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I have never used a Tom's product before, but visiting their official website, they have an extensive personal care line, devoted to quality products and the consumer's quality of health. Their deodorant line is extensive and expansive with scents ranging from calendula, lavender, other floral scents, unscented and the one I tried: Natural Powder (think Baby Powder.) It went on exceedingly smooth with NO icky white residue to stain clothing; it's almost like a gel but "not", so it takes a bit more time to set up. The fact that it has NO aluminum or zinc is a bonus, especially since the Jury Is Still Out on the links of those two chemicals and Alzheimer's.

I work in the landscape industry and if there's one thing we can do well, it's creating a powerful sweat. This deodorant lasted the entire work day with NO stinky arm pits or sour smell at the end of a long day. I shower at night and apply this also, at night, so that I can get dressed quickly at 6:00 am for work; this also allows the slight gel-ness of the stick to dry and set.

I'm VERY pleased with the scent, ease of application and also the health benefits. For those that are interested, the following information is copied directly from their website:

"NO ARTIFICIAL COLORS:

Because we do not add artificial colors, the appearance of our products may vary from batch to batch.

NO ARTIFICIAL FLAVORS OR FRAGRANCES

We do not use any synthetic flavors or fragrances. Our customers prefer the fresh, natural taste and smell of herbs, fruits, and flowers (or no fragrance at all!).

NO ARTIFICIAL PRESERVATIVES (EDTA, FORMALDEHYDE, PARABENS, ETC.)

Natural preservatives work as well or better than artificial alternatives.

NO ANIMAL INGREDIENTS

Our support of non-animal-testing models also includes the belief that we don't need to use animal ingredients to create effective products. Just one example: glycerin, used in toothpastes and soaps, is often made from animal ingredients, but ours is vegetable-based."


Grayline 41572 Tension Pole Caddy, White
Grayline 41572 Tension Pole Caddy, White
Price: $24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Okay for a Secondary Storage Unit, March 6, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
In our shower, the stem that holds the spray head is too short to attach one of those shower caddies for wash cloths and soap. So, we've been stuck using the unused corners of the tub-surround to store soap trays and wadded up wash cloths, which end up creating water-filled soap dishes and smelly wash cloths. Our tub-surround does have handicap rails and built in shelving but they receive the direct spray from the shower so they are only useful for holding bottles of bath products that can't be diluted by water.

This tension pole fits our needs well. I could tell from the photos and the other reviews that it was not designed to hold excessive weight, which was just fine by us. Set up is a *snap* and I appreciate that you could readily adjust the pole to most heights. For our needs of holding the various bars of soap, loofahs and wash cloths, it does the job it's designed to do.


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