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christinemm from The Thinking Mother blog (Houston Texas USA)

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Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
by Mike Venezia
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 7.59
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Another great book in this series, June 28 2004
Author Mike Venezia does a great job explaining biographies to children in a way that is both understandable and interesting. The writing style is not dumbed down or patronizing in tone. This is book is one in a series, others are about other musical composers and artists.
The first few pages explain what the musical climate was like in Mozart's life and explains how people used music for entertainment purposes. This is brief and a very good opening to put Mozart's life in perspective. The rest of the book is a full span of Mozart's life. Unlike other books for children about Mozart, the fact that Mozart was a boy genius is not the main content of the book. Oddly, Mozart's children are never mentioned. Mozart's marriage is briefly mentioned as is Mozart's death.
I have mixed feelings about the illustrations. I appreciated that the illustrations documented the various time periods of Mozart's life. I loved the illustrations that were photographs, fine drawings, or copies of fine paintings of the places Mozart visited, of Mozart and his family, and scenes of his operas. I did not at all like the eight cartoons whose illustrations and accompanying text were sarcastic and silly. These eight cartoons were completely out of character with the text of the book and I didn't appreciate them at all. My children and I have enjoyed other books by this author that did not have dumb cartoons and jokes. My children, aged 4 and 6 haven't needed these silly and sometimes insulting jokes to make the subject matter enjoyable. The interesting biography's text and other illustrations are high quality and are better off without these cartoons. The cartoons downgrade my rating to a 4.
I recommend this book and others by Mike Venezia to teach young children about important people in history.

A-Z Dot-to-Dots
A-Z Dot-to-Dots
by Steve Harpster
Edition: Paperback
16 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for kids learning their ABCs, May 4 2004
This review is from: A-Z Dot-to-Dots (Paperback)
Doing dot-to-dot puzzles helps develop fine motor skills and penmanship skills by providing practice for proper holding of pencil or marker and the action of drawing a straight line. Each puzzle goes from A to Z (which is wonderful and better than other books such as published by School Zone which have less number of dots and don't always go all the way to Z), so this also helps with learning the letter names and their sequence, always from A through to Z.
The paper is good quality white paper stock. The images are in black and white, so when the puzzle is complete, the child may color it in. The images are goofy and silly looking animals, some of which are wearing clothing.
Wonderful for preschool aged children! Dot to Dot books make great gifts for young children, especially children who seem to have enough toys!
This author also has a book in which all puzzles go from 1-100, which I recommend. If you are looking for dot-to-dots for older children, see the series "Greatest Dot to Dot Book in the World!". For books with text with educational content, one book per topic, see books by Monica Russo and by Evan and Lyle Kimble.

1-100 Dot-to-Dots
1-100 Dot-to-Dots
by Steve Harpster
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 5.22
38 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for young children who are learning to count to 100, May 4 2004
This review is from: 1-100 Dot-to-Dots (Paperback)
This book uses good quality white paper and has 62 dot-to-dot puzzles in which all go from the numbers 1-100. With each going to 100, it is a great way to learn or reinforce counting up to 100 skills. The pages have only black print on them, so the resulting image may be colored in. The images are cartoon-like silly pictures such as a smiling monkey, a rabbit licking a big lollipop, and goofy animals wearing clothing and making silly faces. There are a few that try to be scary, a mean-faced cobra, a frowning monster and a mean looking sheriff-bulldog.
These are perfect for young children who are learning to count to 100. Older children may find the puzzles too easy or the images too juvenile.
I also recommend for older children, the educational dot-to-dot books by Monica Russo and others by Evan and Lyle Kimble. Fun books for older kids to adult level are the "Greatest Dot to Dot book in the world" of which there are 4 different books in the series.

The Greatest Dot-To-Dot Book in the World: Book 2
The Greatest Dot-To-Dot Book in the World: Book 2
by David Kalvitis
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 7.12
29 used & new from CDN$ 1.11

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For all ages, challenging, fun!, May 4 2004
There are forty-six dot-to-dot puzzles. The dots are arranged in a way that when you begin working on it, you can't guess what it will turn out to be. The highest number in the book is 250, so this is appropriate for any aged person that can count to 250, although most of the puzzles are under 160. Unlike most dot to dot books, the page/puzzle size is 9.5 x 11 inches. The spaces between dots is sometimes very small which lends to a detailed image. Keep in mind, though, that young children may lack the fine motor skills to draw very straight short lines in order to make the best looking image. Adults who like dot-to-dot puzzles will find these fun. The paper is high quality and white, (not cheap newsprint paper). I am not sure of the papers' pound weight but it is heavier than 20 lb. copy paper.

Constellations Dot-to-Dot
Constellations Dot-to-Dot
by Evan Kimble
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars High quality, educational workbook, goes to high numbers, April 13 2004
Total of 37 dot-to-dot puzzles, most numbered up to about 120, with the highest goes to 163. Puzzles are large sized, 8.5"x11" and the facing page has the name of the constellation, the legend in a one paragraph summary, the number of stars, star facts. Some of the pages have "did you know" facts added to them. The paper is much nicer than most consumable workbooks, and is heavier than 20# copy paper. Books by this author are much higher quality than the typical drug store dot-to-dot workbooks.
The youngest age for this book would be whatever age your child is willing or able to learn to count up to about 165. Using dot-to-dot books to reinforce counting skills to higher numbers is a great way to "sneak in" math. Ignore the publisher's age range of 9-12 if your child is younger and can count to 165. My 6 year-old son is going through a phase of loving dot-to-dot puzzles that go to a high number and he will sit and do an entire book (if allowed) and will beg for more! Some of the connections are of a short length and therefore are helpful when developing fine motor skills, for the younger children. Of course this makes a great addition to any unit study of space, the constellations, or Ancient Greece, as it contains a good amount of educational content that is well written.
I highly recommend all of the dot-to-dot books by Evan and Lael Kimble and also those by Monica Russo.

On Sand Island
On Sand Island
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars About a 10 year old boy's hard work and independence, March 15 2004
This review is from: On Sand Island (Hardcover)
This is based on a true story, a 10-year-old boy whose mother is deceased, living on Sand Island (in Lake Superior), a community of Norwegian's, with his father and with his younger sister. His father is a fisherman and he longs for the day when he can have his own boat. His younger sister tells him he is too young to own his own boat. He decided to make his dream a reality and one step at a time, and does build his own boat. He does not have a full plan at the beginning but takes it one step at a time. He finds male neighbors and friends to help him along the way, by borrowing a tool or bartering his work for their time and labor. I found it odd that he never asked his father for help, a little odd that there was more help from neighbors than his own father, but I assume his father was very busy fishing to support his family! The last step in the process was getting oars and his father did give him some old oars that they had in storage, which Carl had to refinish.
The themes in the book are of independence, hard work, perseverance, and ingenuity. I thought the boys resourcefulness in finding help wonderful. The boy's positive attitude is wonderful. With each step of the boat-building project we see the amount of hard work that he had to put into making it, a wonderful thing to see in a 10 year old.
The book ends first with Carl's peaceful and rewarding solo boat ride then with a party to celebrate the newest boat on the island including music and dancing.
The illustrations are gorgeous, pale paintings that look as if painted atop a canvas laid with sand!
In the author's note at the back of the book, I learned that this tale is set in the early 1900s and is based on a real person named Carl Dahl. In the 1940s sea lampreys came into Lake Superior and killed all the whitefish and trout, essentially killing the fishing industry there. The site of Carl Dahl's home is now being used to house a ranger's cabin for the National Park Service.

N is for Nutmeg: A Connecticut Alphabet
N is for Nutmeg: A Connecticut Alphabet
by Elissa Grodin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 13.68
34 used & new from CDN$ 7.39

5.0 out of 5 stars Connecticut history for children with beautiful illustration, March 15 2004
Picture book format history of Connecticut with an alphabet format. Text is very short with rhymes for reading to younger readers, and each topic also has 2-3 paragraphs of longer, more detailed and educational information. The subjects are the state bird, state flower, state tree, famous places, and famous people from Connecticut. A sampling of the topics are P.T. Barnum, Groton where the first nuclear submarine was built, composer Charles Ives, the first law school: the Litchfield Law School, Amelia Simmons, author of the first American cookbook, Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe. I was a little surprised that Y was not for Yale, but instead, "Yankee Doodle Dandy" with an unknown author and not a unique to Connecticut link was selected.
The illustrations are in watercolor and are beautiful!
This is one in a series of books on individual states in America. Note there are different authors and illustrators. I feel the illustrations in this book are superior to some of the other books (although perhaps this is tainted by my love of watercolors).
This book is appropriate for every child who lives in Connecticut and for any child who is learning about Connecticut. I believe every child should know about the state they live in. This book is nice to look at and the content is not too long, so it will appeal to many children. I am impressed by the quality of the content of the books and plan to use each of the books in the series when teaching my children about each of the States.
This would make a great gift for a child, and a copy should reside in every public library and in every school library. I also feel that public libraries should have the entire series in their collection!

Voices of Ancient Egypt
Voices of Ancient Egypt
by Kay Winters
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.20
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A fresh, gorgeous book to learn about everyday work in Egypt, March 14 2004
Gorgeous watercolor illustrations of workers busy at work accompany text in prose style in this non-fiction picture book for children. The writing is eloquent and is a fresh change from the usual content of most history books. Using first-person narrative, the worker tells what their job is like. Some examples of the vocations covered are launderer, scribe, farmer, pyramid-builder, embalmer, and dancer.
There are two pages of background information about the 13 vocations, and a list of source materials at the back that is helpful for locating more resources to use when learning about life in Ancient Egypt.
I can't say enough about the beautiful illustrations by Barry Moser. The cover's illustration is exactly the type of high-quality work that lies inside the book. The background paper for the entire book looks similar to papyrus. A wonderful book! I hope that National Geographic makes this one in a series and that future book have equally high quality writing and illustrations.

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth
The Librarian Who Measured the Earth
by Kathryn Lasky
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 14.44
34 used & new from CDN$ 9.31

5.0 out of 5 stars Great job combining math, history, science & geography!, March 11 2004
This is a picture book format biography of Eratosthenes, who lived in Ancient Greece, focusing on how he calculated the size of the Earth using a mathematical formula and measurements taken by measuring shadows and length of footsteps from one location to another. Eratostehenes had many roles and talents, one being that he was a mathematician and author of books on several topics. He wrote the first geography book, which included the first map of the world and the first documentation of the size of the Earth.
The publisher says this is for ages 4-8 however the math concept of the formula he used to determine the size of the Earth was too complex for my 6 year old to grasp. The text is long-ish compared to a typical picture book as well, so I think this can extend a little beyond 8 yrs. if it is acting as a brief biography. I am not sure how many chapter book format biographies are out there for kids 9 and up on Eratosthenes, so this may be better than nothing for older kids!
The colorful pictures are nice and really compliment the text, especially when showing how he thought about measuring the Earth and comparing it to a grapefruit. It also addresses the idea of asking questions, curiosity, and making guesses at answers about things in the world that they did not yet know about.
This is a combination of history, math, and geography with a little scientific thought thrown in. It laid out his first questions and theories and how he came up with different ideas to come up with a way to measure a part of the land. We learn about what worked and what failed, leading up to how he finally came to a method that he thought was accurate, and why he thought this formula would work. His computation was about 200 miles off of the distance we measured in this century!
Within the story we learn about what schools were like for boys in Ancient Greece, that books were in scroll format, what libraries were like (and that they were rare) and other tidbits.
There is a bibliography included that can be used for further reading resources as well. This book is also a great example of how one book can cross over several subject areas: math, history, science and geography.

by Seymour Simon
Edition: Paperback
6 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful text and gorgeous illustrations!, March 9 2004
This review is from: Lightning (Paperback)
By far the best illustrations of any book I've seen about lightning. It also contains two photos from Boston's Museum of Science's electricity show, which are interesting, and a special treat for those of us who have seen that wonderful show.
The content of the book is great and gives more detail about lightning than I've found in other children's books on this subject. An example is giving a list of all the different types of lightning and even revealing three new kinds of lightning discovered in 1995. Who knew? Three other books I read about lightning and storms failed to give the level of detail that Simon chose to include.
Simon tells us what to do if we are caught in a lightning storm but it is done in a careful way with statistics given such as the number of people hit by lightning who lived through is almost double the number who are hit and die as a result of it.
As usual Simon writes in a non-patronizing tone, which I appreciate. We really enjoyed this book. A must-read for learning about the weather!

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