Everywhere a Moo Moo – Saturday Story Spotlight

Welcome to Saturday Story Spotlight, my feature where I discuss books my husband and I are reading with our son, Daniel. These are books that he, we, or all of us particularly enjoy.

Everywhere a Moo, Moo by Scholastic
Published by Children’s Press, an imprint of Scholastic

Despite the suggestive title, Everywhere a Moo, Moo is not the entirety of Old McDonald Had a Farm. According to some reviews I’ve seen, some readers who were expecting Old McDonald have been somewhat disappointed. Instead, each page has an animal – the cow, for example – and says, “Old McDonald had a cow. Here a moo, there a moo, everywhere a moo, moo.” The book goes through a slew of Old McDonald-worthy farm animals: cow, pig, sheep, duck, horse.

Let me tell you, this book has been GOLDEN around here lately. We love it because it has really solidified Daniel’s naming of these basic farm animals (he was a little iffy on ‘sheep’ before) and his command of the animals’ noises (‘oink’ and ‘quack’ are now second nature). Daniel loves it because there are ANIMALS, people! Plus, he gets to interact with it, I read “Old McDonald had a…” and he gets to fill in the name of the animal AND tell me what the animal says. Plus there are pictures of real animals, not drawings, and that realism is always a plus. I think we read this every night for three or four weeks, and are still reading it occasionally.

This is a fun, well constructed way to work on farm animals. Lots of learning here, and lots of room to make it interactive for the child who is really starting to ‘get’ them.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound | Amazon*

Source: Personal copy
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – Thoughts (Spoilers)

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Published by Scholastic Press

This isn’t really going to be a review, just thoughts about “Mockingjay.” After reading “The Hunger Games” three times and “Catching Fire” twice, and anticipating “Mockingjay” for a year, I think I’m too subjective to do an actual review. For my opinions about the previous books in this series, please see my thoughts on the audios and my reviews of both “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire.”

To be completely honest, I was sort of bored at the beginning of “Mockingjay.” Maybe not bored, exactly, but not nearly as excited as I thought I would be. In fact, I sort of wondered why I was up in the middle of the night reading. The fact that Peeta wasn’t around for a long, long time might have been part of it, but I think more it was that Katniss was just sort of moping around, unsure of what she really wanted to do. Plus, she kept ending up drugged in the hospital, which always felt like a slightly cheating way for Collins to get her through situations.

Things started to turn around for me when Katniss went into the first disputed district. I loved how she stood up to Gale, determined to not just kill people who might be innocent. Finally, that felt like Katniss to me. It made me really dislike Gale, though, although he almost won my heart a bit with how he treated Katniss most of the time they were together in District 13.

The most horrifying moment of the whole book – perhaps the whole series – for me was Finnick’s revelation that President Snow had been pimping out the Victors. These are people that have had miserable lives in their districts, been pitted against other teenagers in a kill or be killed contest and manage to live, and now they are sexually abused? I almost threw up. “Mockingjay” got me really attached to Finnick, actually, and I was sort of devastated when he died.

A less devastating death for me was Prim’s. I know a lot of people didn’t like that scene, didn’t realize I was Prim, but I thought that was perhaps the most masterfully written scene in the entire book. I felt that I was truly experiencing the situation with Katniss, and she didn’t initially realize she was watching her sister die either. It seemed fitting to me that Prim died at the end of the series, since the entire thing started with Katniss trying to save her sister. It gave a sense of how much bigger than just Katniss and her family the entire thing had become, but was also a reminder of all that the people of Panem lost under the old regime and during the rebellion, a warning against complacency in the future. Plus, at least if Prim was going to die, she was dying doing something she loved and she felt was important, instead of being forced into the Games.

As to the romantic angle: I am SO GLAD that Collins did not kill off either of the boys. Regardless of who Katniss ended up with, if she had ended up with him only because the other boy was killed off, I would have been very annoyed. I was glad she ended up with Peeta, and glad that she realized that he is the one she needed, even if she hadn’t needed to get away from Gale after his weapon being used against Prim because, again, if she had seemed to end up with Peeta just because of Gale’s weapon I would have been really disappointed.

Buy this book from:
Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via Indiebound
.*
Amazon
.*

This review was done with a personal copy.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins – Thoughts on the Audio

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, narrated by Carolyn McCormick
Published in print by Scholastic Press
Published in audio by Scholastic Audio

This is just going to be a commentary on the audio editions. I have previously reviewed the print versions of both “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire.” The following thoughts are completely spoiler-free.

When I first started listening to audio versions of “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire,” I was very disconcerted. There is pretty much no way at all that Carolyn McCormick’s voice could pass for that of a teenage girl. Don’t get me wrong, she has a gorgeous voice and I would love to listen to her read literary fiction, but it seemed very odd in the first person narrative of a teenager (incidentally, this is the second Scholastic Audio casting in a row in which I thought at least one narrator sounded far too old for their character – perhaps there is a dearth of narrators who can pass for teens?).

Although I had a hard time with such a mature voice narrating Katniss’s inner-most thoughts and giving voice to her words, McCormick did a fabulous job with the voices of other characters. Between “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire,” McCormick appears to have been given direction to actually do a voice for Katniss, instead of narrating in her own voice. Although it was still odd to hear Katniss’s thoughts in McCormick’s voice, it did help me believe her words as those of the teenager a bit better.

McCormick did a fabulous job with most of the voices, and imbued “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire” audios with the danger and drama of the books, so over all I would say these are highly recommended, even if her Katniss really had to grow on me. I can’t wait to get the audio of “Mockingjay” for a reread.

I borrowed both of these audiobooks from the library.

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Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – Book Review, With Notes on the Audio Production

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Note: I first read this book last fall and really enjoyed it. More recently I listened to the audiobook as a refresher before reading “Linger,” which I will be reviewing next week (also look for a giveaway of both Shiver and Linger).

Being attacked by the wolves six years ago hasn’t lessened Grace’s love of the majestic creatures in her backyard – particularly the wolf with the haunting yellow eyes. Unfortunately, another boy was attacked by wolves lately, in a manner that has gotten the entire town of Mercy Falls, MN up in arms against the wolves. When a boy with haunting yellow eyes shows up on Grace’s back porch with a gunshot wound, she knows immediately that, somehow, he must be her wolf. The two fall in love quickly, but what does their future consist of if Sam will soon be a wolf again forever?

Isn’t the cover of this book gorgeous?  I love how it is a tangled forest, but if you look closely, the leaves look like hearts. Very apropos for this book.

I actually really enjoyed “Shiver.” It is to me all of the things that people say they like about “Twilight” but without some of the things I disliked about “Twilight,” (misogynism, bad writing, stalker-ish relationship). I was slightly annoyed by the way Grace’s parents didn’t seem to know or care much about what was going on in her life, but that is a problem that many YA books have and is not limited to “Shiver.”

I thought that Stiefvater’s take on werewolves was very interesting, I liked her mythology as to when and why they changed between their wolf and human forms and the fact that they were either wolves or they were humans, but they were never monstrous hybrids. Stiefvater’s mythology of the wolves also gave me a better explanation for the immediate connection between Grace and Sam – a relationship that otherwise might have really annoyed me.

I wasn’t really pleased with the audiobook, however, when I used that for the reread. I thought the narrator for Grace’s sections sounded a bit too young and ended up overemphasizing her naiveté. Sam, on the other hand, sounded far too old to play a teenager and I didn’t really care for his narration style. They weren’t bad narrators, but they didn’t match up well with the book for me.

This is a fun, engaging YA series, but I would really only recommend it in print, not on audio.

Buy this book from:

Powells.*
A local independent bookstore via
Indiebound.*
Amazon.*

This review was done with a book I purchased myself.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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