Picture Book Review ~ Autumn Favorites

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Everybody’s jumping on the holiday bandwagon already but I’m still trying to hold on to the last bit of fall that’s in the air. I love Christmas but I’m just not ready for snow yet. (Not to mention the fact that I’m not ready to start shopping!) So, in an act of defiance against the weather, every retailer in the world, and the entire book blogosphere I present to you a few of my favorite fall picture books.

Apples for Little Fox Book Review

Apples for Little Fox

Written and Illustrated by: Ekaterina Trukhan

Number of Pages: 32

Age Range: 3-7

Rating: 4/5

Little Fox plays Sherlock Holmes throughout the forest to find the apples missing from his favorite tree. The bright graphic illustrations are fabulous and (spoiler!) it ends with pie, so could you really ask for more? Simple, fun, perfect!


Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter Book Review


Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter

Written and Illustrated by: Kenard Pak

Number of Pages: 32

Age Range: 4-9

Rating: 5/5

The narrator greets various pieces of the departing autumn while mentioning the preparations that nature is making for winter. The trees are letting their leaves be swept into the sky, the animals are flying south and getting ready to hibernate, clouds are covering the sky, the stars are peeking out of the darkness which slowly make way for snowflakes and frost. The watercolor illustrations are perfect with subtle details and soft colors complementing the poetic text. This is the kind of book that makes you want to curl up with a cup of cocoa and watch the snow swirling outside.

Here’s another little sneak peek, in case you aren’t convinced yet!

Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter Book Review


A Different Pond Book Review


















A Different Pond

Written by: Bao Phi

Illustrated by: Thi Bui

Number of Pages: 32

Age Range: 6-12

Rating: 5/5

This one isn’t strictly an autumn book (though it does take place in the fall as per the illustrations it’s not specifically addressed in the text) but it’s absolutely beautiful and has a cozy fall feel. We see a young Vietnamese immigrant as he’s taken on an early morning fishing trip with his father. The struggles with money (they are fishing illegally to get food), the embarrassment over incorrect English usage and other difficulties are seen through the eyes of a child. The father shares memories of his life in Vietnam while his son makes his own connections to their life now in America.

The author and illustrator both share their personal stories as Vietnamese Americans (both were born in Vietnam but grew up in America) and how the experiences shaped not just their lives but the lives of their parents and their children. They both offer great insight into the cultures and their creation of the book. It’s an absolutely lovely book and would pair beautifully with any of the recent stories about refugees and immigrants (such as Stormy Seas or Stepping Stones or I’m New Here.)

And here’s a look at the endpages to give you an idea of the detail involved in both the storytelling and the illustrations.

A Different Pond Book Review 2

Join me in the “Save Fall” movement by curling up with one of these fantastic reads and boycotting Christmas books…at least for one more day. I’ll succumb to the peer pressure when the calendar actually says “December.” 🙂 And tell me, what are your favorite fall stories?


Out and About ~ Downtown Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City LDS Temple

In an effort to try and get over the turkey coma from the past weekend, the hubster and I headed into the city to usher in the Christmas season with the rest of humanity. First up was the requisite pilgrimage to the amazing Temple Square to see the lights there, and then, pushed along by the crowd we wandered to see the lights and windows at the City Creek shopping center followed by two different productions at the relatively new Eccles Center. (What a fabulous venue! It’s gorgeous and there’s not a bad seat in the house.)

Eccles Theater

Friday night’s show was a musical version of Elf, based on the movie starring Will Farrell. While it didn’t quite measure up to the original (I don’t think anyone could compete with Farrell’s exuberance) it did have added song and dance numbers and was just great fun overall.  Monday, we journeyed back to see Jewel’s holiday extravaganza. She shared the stage with her two brothers and father, who sing and write songs as well. They told stories of their childhood growing up on a homestead in Alaska, and she was candid about her struggles with anxiety, shoplifting and her health before being discovered, interspersed with songs of course! Nearly half the show was Christmas songs, backed by her band while the other half she sang some greatest hits accompanying herself on the guitar. She’s got one of those voices that you either love or hate (her background in yodeling definitely influences her all-around vocal style) and I loved hearing it fill the hall, particularly on the nearly ethereal high notes. The whole weekend was a great way to kick start the holiday festivities.

Eccles Theater Interior

Have you got any traditions of your own that help you welcome the holidays? I’d love your suggestions in the comments below!

Words of Wisdom ~ Giving Thanks

Logan Barn

The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life. 

-Joseph F Smith

I love that we begin the holiday season with counting our blessings and giving thanks. I think it helps to put things into perspective and (ideally) sets us on a path toward charity and giving as we head towards Christmas.

I had the opportunity to spend time with the hubs’ family this year. We ventured north to Logan, a rural college town (go Aggies!) where the pace is slower and the air a bit fresher. Our holiday was perfectly chill with lots of food, great discussions and book recommendations, good movies and several walks around the neighborhood enjoying the splendors of nature. I’m so grateful for all of those things, pretty much all the favorites of my life. I hope your holiday was blessed and your plates full!

Picture Book Review ~ Alphamals A-Z

Alphamals A-Z Book Review




















Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Alphamals A-Z

Written and Illustrated by: Graham Carter

Number of Pages: 56

Age Range: 3-9

Rating: 5/5

Alphabet books abound as I’m sure any parent, teacher or person who’s ever walked into a bookstore can tell you. There are a lot of great ones, a lot of mediocre ones, and a few phenomenal ones. This is one of the latter. Each letter is represented by an animal, definitely not a new concept, and the accompanying text is informational but lightly lyrical. The illustrations, however, are what make this book standout from the crowd. In a big way. Exquisitely detailed and gorgeously colored; each one could easily be framed! If you’ve got an animal enthusiast (or an art enthusiast) in the house, they need to see this book.

Seriously, look how gorgeous this is. Here’s a snippet of the end pages and a detail of the D is for dragonfly page in case you don’t believe me. Am I right?

Go buy this book. You’re welcome!

Pie Day

Pie Day

When I was living on the East Coast I had a friend who introduced me to the best holiday ever. Pie Day! Anyone who knows me knows that I love pie. I requested pies instead of cakes for my birthday for years and even served it at my wedding. It’s kind of my favorite.

Her version of pie day was a family affair. Tired of being too full to enjoy the pie after Thanksgiving dinner they decided to give it its rightful place as the center of attention a few days before, when there was still plenty of room in their bellies. So, the Sunday before Thanksgiving was dedicated to pies. The neighbors were invited and everyone shared their favorite flavors and when she moved to DC she shared the tradition with all of us.  Since then, there have been several of us who have moved on but carried the tradition with us and this year the hubs and I celebrated our first Pie Day together.

We ended up with a dozen or so variations ranging from the traditional pumpkin and chocolate to cranberry pear, peanut butter, and snickerdoodle apple cream cheese (yes, that’s all one pie!) I think that’s the best part, getting introduced to so many fun new favorites. What’s your favorite kind of pie? Feel free to share a link to the recipe in the comments below!

Pie Day1

Picture Book Review ~ Come With Me

Come With Me Book Review

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

Come With Me

Written by: Holly M. McGhee

Illustrated by: Pascal Lemaitre

Number of Pages: 32

Age Range: 4-10

Rating: 4.5/5

After watching the news, a young girl is scared of all that she sees and wonders what she can do to help make the world a better place. Her wise papa beckons “Come with me” and together they venture out into the city where they take the subway and have a chance to be kind to strangers. When the news is still negative she approaches mom who also invites her to “come with me” and they head to the local grocer where they see families of all kinds shopping for supper. Wanting to do even more the girl goes out on her own (and her parents, showing continued and extended braveness, allow her to go) and makes some friends along the way which finally allays her fears and ends up changing the world.

This is a simple, yet beautiful tale of a young girl (and her parents) learning to be brave and making a difference even when it seems like the problems are insurmountable.

Words of Wisdom ~ Don Blanding

Chiang Mai Thailand

For as long as I can remember I’ve been at war with myself.  I long for adventure yet I crave the comforts of home.  My soul seeks new people and places to discover while simultaneously wanting longevity and stability and sameness in my surroundings and relationships.

I stumbled on this poem by Don Blanding recently and it sums up my struggles perfectly.

This blog is partly a celebration of that split personality complex.  The simpler and finer things in life, the ways I seek to branch out and explore this amazing world around us and the ways I seek to enrich but simplify my daily sphere of influence which is sometimes so small it’s nearly microscopic.

As an introvert my natural tendencies are to do things like curl up in a fluffy blanket with a mug of peppermint tea and a good book and stay there forever. If I’m feeling really brave (and the weather is cooperative) I’ll venture outside and do a little reading under the shade of a friendly tree. Not a bad existence, really. But there’s also this insatiable itch inside me that has become more and more persistent with the passing years. I think I did a pretty good job of ignoring it all through high school and college until finally, one day it would no longer be ignored.

I never set out to travel the world, or move thousands of miles from home to live in a place where I didn’t know a soul, or even to learn to play the harmonica but I’ve done all of those things and more. And while at first they happened sort of accidentally, I’ve begun to learn how to listen to that itchy inner voice and plan adventures on purpose, as well (it’s a lot more fun that way!)

Some days the introvert wins the battle and some days the adventurer claims the victory but only time will tell which side will ultimately win the war. Accidents still happen, and adventure still isn’t my default setting. I still love to escape into a world where the only conversation that occurs is between fictional characters on a printed page.  But I’m looking forward to a lifetime of continued adventures, big or small, accidental or otherwise, and sharing a few of them here with you.

P.S. I’d love to hear about your adventures as well!  Comments are always appreciated!

**Photo taken in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Music Monday ~ Frank Turner

I was introduced to Frank Turner a few years ago when a group of friends and I embarked on a postal music swap.  We’d been living in the same area just outside of DC and we were all getting ready to move on to new places and new stages of life. One of our last get-togethers included some amazing food followed by a music sharing session. We’d each compiled a mix CD of some of our favorite tunes and bands that had been meaningful at different parts of our life in hopes that the others would find similar solace as they listened in their new places miles and miles away.

It was such a hit that we decided to keep it up. Over the next couple of years we occasionally added and subtracted a few other participants but the three of us remained constant and it was always a great day when you got a CD in the mail. There were old favorites that circulated and new favorites that came along and Frank Turner was one of those new favorites.

He’s got a fabulously rough (sometimes angry) British sound occasionally channeling the likes of the Dropkick Murphys/Flogging Molly but with a poignancy to his lyrics that speaks directly to my soul. He puts on a fabulous live show, though he does have a bit of a potty mouth (so be warned if that kind of stuff bothers you!)  I highly recommend you take a listen! And if you have any suggestions for a new listen, post them in the comments below.  I’m always up for a new favorite!

Picture Book Review ~ A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars Book Review















Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars

Written by: Seth Fishman

Illustrated by: Isabel Greenberg

Number of Pages: 32

Age Range: 5 to 10

Rating: 4/5

Ginormous numbers are hard to process, even for an adult mind with a little bit of experience and some context. But the author tackles the stars (approximately a hundred billion trillion), the number of gallons of water on the planet (approximately three hundred seventy billion billion), the number of seconds in a year (31,536,000), and the number of raindrops in the average thunderstorm (1,620 trillion) in an effort to illustrate the vastness and incredible awesomeness of the universe and world around us.

The numbers are written out in both numeral and word form (a boon to anyone reading it out-loud who can’t automatically vocalize numbers like 13,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000* without googling them!) And while there are a host of intangible topics and ideas addressed you’ll also learn about the number of teeth a shark has and how many pounds of bugs you might eat in your lifetime.

An author’s note also explains how many of the numbers in the book are almost true and how a scientist comes to estimate something. There’s also a breakdown of the place values and number names for future reference.

This is a must for any inquisitive, science-minded readers! A fabulous non-fiction addition to classroom or school libraries as well.

*thirteen million billion billion…the weight of our planet in pounds! 🙂