Reach & Read: January’s Book Reviews

Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown

Click link for full review: Now! Don’t be a Numbat (a ‘toothy termite-eater of the Australian west’ and pouchless marsupial) and miss out on this book. It will be on my shelves for a long time and gifted to others for sure.

People of a Second Chance

In line with the People of the Second Chance organization’s mission, this book promises to ‘help not-so-perfect people find freedom and heal the hurts that hold them back.’ After a little research, the mission and work of the PSC rings clear in this book, which is a mix of self-help, motivational vignette and personal testimony by the author. It is an easy read but full of thought provoking ideas. Definitely one of those where you might start highlighting only to find yourself  marking up most of the page, defeating the purpose. I will comment that for me it was best to read in small bites otherwise it started to feel a bit forced and info-mercially to me. To get more out of the book, I think the reader needs to build in reflection time, skip around to find the bits that resonate and focus.  There are various parables and stories throughout to illustrate the points. The one about Jim Henson and making Kermit out of a discarded green sweater and a ping pong ball has stuck in my mind.  Truly about second chances and the reward the lies beyond. The other story that I have gone to read more about is Hawaii parable about how each of us is born with a bowl of light, our true identity, and as we often move through life, we start to put stones (problems, inauthentic actions etc),  in the bowl, decreasing its light. Which means we control the light/life, therefore we can simply dump the stones of the bowl. Search for the full parable its quite lovely and here is a fun lesson plan/activity.

While this book might not be for everyone given it is based in Christianity, weaves in Bible passages and so on, it is not done in a alienating way. It might just have the words your heart is looking for. I recommend this book, but again taken in slow small chunks.

The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher

Click link for full review, but here is an excerpt penned from one of Ms. Crandon’s ‘automatic writing’ sessions (p. 190).
There was a young man from New York
As a scintist he was a whale.
The mediums came from near and far
For him to put salt on their tail.
And he did it without any doubt.
And he did it which very great glee.
And would you believe it: the son of a gun
Is chasing with salt after me.

Sundown Kid: A Southwestern Shabbat

Barbara Betz presents an old southwest story about a small and new-to-town Jewish family who finds themselves lonely, especially for Shabbat, without the large extended family they are accustomed to sharing a meal with. I like her use of repetitive phrasing to build the setting and tone for the story. The inclusion of artifacts, like kiddish, yarmulke and mezuzah, adds to the story and are useful for generating conversation with young readers.

Inspired by the kind community they live in, the youngest boy redefines family and succeeds at sharing the essence of the Shabbat with others, highlighting the power of food and dining together. While most likely, life for people of Jewish heritage was not as easy or open as portrayed in this children book (which is totally appropriate), Barbara’s characters encourage the type of mindset and behaviors for all to emulate and build a thriving community. John Kanzler’s illustrations add to the story and include a bit of fun. Search for the silly gecko and carrot loving horse.

I recommend this book regardless of reader’s religion because it is not about religion per se but community and awareness.

I received a copy of this book to review from August House publishers but I was not financially compensated, nor required to say something positive, in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my experience and observations while reading this book.

Sniffly Sandborn in A Trip to the Hospital by Denise Trager and Mary Ellen Panaccione

A Poem and a Picture Volume 2 By Pamela Goodwin

Click the link to read full review but I leave you all with the other poem that keeps drawing me back for several reasons titled, “To Choose.” “A privilege indeed, for us whose forefathers made us free, to choose each day how to participate and with whom to be.”

Licking Flames: Tales of a Half-Assed Hussy by Diana Kirk


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