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Minnie & Me a Book Reivew

So I’m happy to say that I am finally starting to get better. I hope (fingers crossed).  I forgot to mention yesterday that I started seeing a chiropractor. I’ve seen him before he used to be married to my cousin. But long story short, it was recommended that i get in to see him. I went today and they ran tests to check the inflamation in my back and my range of motion. We might have at least part of the solution for my random inexplicable pain.  So here’s to hoping that we’ll have it licked in a few weeks.

So  I’m continuing with my book trend this week.  And we’re moving on to a favorite book series from my childhood. Back in the day Minnie Mouse had a series that was all about being your best friend. The small series that included stories about her and her friends, is only a part of a much bigger series, but I didn’t know that until a few days ago.

We’ll start with the basics of the series, the cover, the artwork, the relevance of the stories, and finally a final review.

The story is told from a third person point of view with occasional asides from Mininie where she points out the character flaws and questionable actions of herself and others.  At the end of each story she talks to your child as her friend. She may even ask your child to write to her about a time they did something or were tempted to do something similar to what happened in the story. Or she may ask for your child to share their opinion on the story.

Each story teaches a lesson. Sometimes it is Minnie learning the lesson. Other times it is Daisy, Lily, Penny, or one of her other friends. I think my favorite things about these stories is the fact that it provides a number of opportunities for you to start open dialogs with your children about these issues and how they can come to you if they need help. This is one of the reasons these stories are so near and dear to my heart, because my parents did just that with them.

The stories cover a variety of subjects including theft, peer pressure, growing up too soon, loyalty to your friends, dilemmas young children may face with their friends, and honesty. Each story teaches a different lesson covering just about any aspect of morality and responsibility that we can expect young children between the ages of five and ten to learn.

The covers of the books all follow a theme.  Each cover photo and title gives a hint at the problem. They also each have a decorative binding with some sort of shape usually polka dots and hearts.  Still this is how you can tell the series apart from that of the larger Minnie and me book series.  I believe that there are 20-25 books in the series. While it used to be a subscription they are now easily obtained on amazon for anywhere between $0.01 and $3.50 with shipping and handling. I went and looked it up just to make sure that anyone interested could find the series.

The artwork is clean and easy to understand. If you wanted to start your child on morals early it’s still a good book for infants.  Freya can sit through most of one story and I would say the read time is somewhere between ten and twenty minutes per book.  The shapes are mostly simple and would also serve the opportunity to point out new words to your growing young one even if the moral lessons may be a bit too young for them yet.

The relevance of the stories. Most books with popular characters may have a moral, but it’s buried within a larger story. That’s all well and good, but the aim of these books were to specifically use a girl’s childhood cartoon icon to teach morality or right and wrong.  While there is a story, it’s much more poignant that there is a lesson within the Minnie and me. It’s also set up to open dialogue between a parent and child about some of these issues, unlike many children’s books containing morals.  This can make it easier for a parent who is unsure of how to broach a topic to talk to their child.

Let me give you an example. I will always remember reading one book in the series. It was the one where the girls were being bullied. I remember my parents reading that book when they were concerned that I was being bullied and using it as an icebreaker. Granted, they found out that the school had been lying to them for three years by that point….but the book was an icebreaker for us. While I know that not every parent needs that, maybe the child does. Some children may need that opening to be able to have that conversation with their parents. Or even if that have that conversation with Minnie (aka you writing them back). I don’t necessarily promote the last approach, but do what works for your family.

Conclusion

I would definitely rate these as one of my favorite sets of children’s books. It is to the point, opens dialogue, is visually engaging and very positive in its approach to teaching the child through a story while still being fairly accurate.  I don’t feel like this book series sugar coats the situation quite as much as other stories, which is a definite benefit.

I hope that you will at least check out one of these stories if you are looking for character building books for your wee one.
Blessed Be.

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Childhood Book Week

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This week is going to be book review week. I needed to keep it simple. Last week I spent a day in the ER and most of that week recovering…this week the meds they gave me for that trip caused my blood pressure to bottom out….so we’re going super simple this week. We’re talking more Children’s books.

The medical trauma of my last week reminded me of my childhood. I spent a lot of time reading with mom since it was all that she could do with me.  She was always very sick and it took years to get her stable. It was scary growing up not knowing if my mom would be there. My parents could have kept it from me, but they didn’t want to lie or keep me in the dark either, a thought which I appreciate to this day.

Still, my new issue is one of the first issues my mom had and around my age…so it’s all had me thinking about Freya and my childhood.  Particularly since I couldn’t do as much with her as I usually did due to the headaches. So we just snuggled and I read to her between head bashings (via headache lol)

Anyway, as I was thinking about books that had greatly affected my childhood I started thinking about my dad. I remember the nights we read the Cremation of Sam McGee (yeah maybe not the most child appropriate tale, but still one of my favorites).  I remembered this poem that his mom said to him:

To Bed to Bed Said sleepy Head

Terry a while said Slow

Put on the pot said Greedy Gut

We’ll eat before we go.

And finally, I remembered Scuppers the Sailor Dog.

It’s a Golden Book tale about a puppy who wants to be a sailor and how he goes about getting his own ship. From getting the right outfit to run his own boat to the boat itself and his room, it talks about following your dreams and exploring the world.  Most importantly, the puppy was true to himself.

It’s like any Golden Book. It’s well illustrated and an easy read. It also has a good moral and ethical stand on being yourself and following your dreams.

It’s still one of my favorite books. I’ve gone through three copies of it (including ruining my father’s original story).

I know it’s a short review, but I still wanted to recommend the book.

While we’re talking childhood favorites I thought I’d list some of my other childhood favorites.

Matilda- great story about a little girl who finds a loving family. Great for any adopted kid or for any child who has ever felt unimportant to their parents.

Harriet the Spy- led me to write my own diary and watch those around me. It was also my saving grace amidst bullies and school yard trauma.

Harry Potter- It filled my mind with magic around the same time that I started my own journey into the craft and followed me all the way to college.

The Magic Tollbooth- a great story about whimsy and adventure

Xanth- It’s a full series by Piers Anthony. In each book a character or set of characters are given a quest that not only helps save the world but that helps them grow as characters.  Everyone has a magical talent and the world is full of puns. It’s a great series for families to share. While it does have some adult themes, the more inappropriate ones are hidden by concepts such as the “Adult Conspiracy” Which stops children from hearing bad words and learning adult secrets…kinda wish we had that for our own children. Still, one of the first series I remember learning about on my own.

Myth- by Robert Asprin.  It is the story about a wizards apprentice who is taken on a whirlwind journey far beyond what he is by a demon who loves to make money. It’s great for adventure and full of fun jokes about society and the world.

Nancy Drew- I think most of us know about the wonderful teenage sluth.

Sherlock Holmes

Heidi (Unabridged unless you want to loose all the messages of redemption and miss a lot of good story)

And anything by Jules Verne.

LIttle House on the Prairie

Yeah, I know I was a weird kid, but I was also reading early and we had a family policy of sharing an “adult” story….which just meant that we read bits and pieces of novels each night.

Anyway, feel free to share the books that shaped your childhood. Not only are we reminiscing, but we’re helping build a library of ideas to share with our children.
Blessed Be.

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Book Review: What is a Witch (and others in its series)

So I promised a book review this week and instead we’re doing three. We recently bought all three books in the Pagan Children Learning Series by Rowan Moss and Illustrated by T.S. Lamb. Each book contains a simple lesson for children on a major concept related to our faith. Book one is Who is Witch? The second is What is Magic?  And the final book is What are the Elements?

So let’s talk about each element of these books.

Illustrations

Each book contains gorgeous water color illustrations. They are also simple images, which makes the book seem all the more organic.  They don’t take up the whole page, but the water colored dark branch boarders on the white page also gives the book a sort of elegance that even my ten month old seemed to appreciate. I should also note that each book has its own boarder set, which still gives the book a sort of elegance while distinguishing it from the rest. I think that the artwork will please adult and child alike.

Age level

While I read this to Freya at 10 months, I would definitely say that it’s not designed to be a book for infants. I just wanted to get it while I A. remembered it existed and B. had the money. The series is definitely aimed at pre and early readers. Freya still enjoyed listening and looking at the pictures, but between the language and the craft in the back…it’s definitely something aimed at an older child than the one I currently have.

Vocabulary

One of the features I like about this book is that each one has a glossary of terms that your child may or may not have heard you or their parents say (whichever is applicable).  The words are defined both on that page and in a glossary for review at the end of the book.  The glossary words are in a different color as well, so that the child can distinguish them from the rest of the words on the page.

Writing

The writing could seem a bit dry to a child if they aren’t interested in the subject. It’s very simply written which is good for a child or young reader.  Now I do want to go into a bit more detail as to each book here. In Who is a Witch? the author addresses many issues concerning the title of the book. Namely why people are afraid of witches.

It does this in a fantastic way that I hope will help Freya feel good about herself as she grows up.  It doesn’t go so in depth as to interfere with any particular path or tradition, but it still answers all the questions in a very simple and understandable manner.  I particularly enjoyed the mention of kitchen witches, covens, and solitary practice without putting too much of a focus on any of them.

In What is Magic? It covers being careful in spell work and only doing it with adult supervision. It also talks very simply about what people believe magic is.

To quote the book “Some people believe that magic comes from within. They believe you have the power within you to create change. Some people believe that magic is a gift from the divine or that it is energy pulled from the world around you.”

One of the other things I enjoyed about this series is more prevalent in the second and third book.  They ask questions to start discussions within your family. Throughout the book, if there is a portion that could vary based on your tradition or point of view, the book asks the child “What does your family believe?” I think this is a great way to get children thinking about what they believe, what their family believes, and why. Better yet, it leads the child to ask you the questions about the faith they are participating in with you.  I really liked that aspect of these books.

Finally, in What are the elements?, we have what I would consider the most comprehensive of the books, which makes sense as this is a larger sum of information.  Aside from going over the basic theories (in simple language) of how some witches perceive the elements, it shares a number of basic correspondences for each element.

Each element’s name is put in its corresponding color, though it is noted that different groups may use different colors. So it denotes the two most common (where applicable). For those of you who don’t know, outside of the US there are other cultures and hemispheres that call the elements different names or use different colors (usually in the southern hemisphere). The nuances of this are not covered in this book, but I found it fascinating that they still covered it, so that if a family does differ from our common perception, that there is a chance for a dialogue.

Under each element they also discuss what the element can be represented by on an altar, its directional correspondence, whether it is a masculine or feminine element, and if it is specifically used to represent the God or Goddess in some traditions. It also discusses sprit and how it is special and different from the rest. It stays a bit vague on this point and asks your children to question you (the parent or family member) as to the family’s beliefs.

It then goes on to describe how the elements are used in spells going into more specific goal/emotional correspondences as well as seasons related to each element.

Craft

Each book also contains a craft to engage your child. Each is somewhat related to the topic or at least should be entertaining to your child. It has detailed instructions as to what to do and I think it really does help tie together the lesson. It may even be a time when you can discuss what was learned with the child.  They can be talking about the book while you do the craft. I can’t wait until Freya is old enough to test this idea. I just hope it works (fingers crossed).

The craft in the first book is making wild animal treats that you can hang in your yard.

The second book features a make your own wand craft.

And the final book craft is making an elemental collage.

Yay or Nay?

I would definitely say yay! I wasn’t sure when I first started looking at the books. At a cursory glance, the pages seem so much duller than the bright vibrant color, but when reading them, it works. I realized that my child didn’t need excessively bright and colorful images to engage her in the book, even at ten months. This may differ a bit depending on your child, but I still think that most pagan or even curious children, will still find this book visually engaging.

I also think the book is simple enough to understand and if there’s any confusion it already prompts family discussion, which I think is fantastic. There are not enough informational children’s books that do this, particularly if they are religiously oriented.

My only con is that it is a bit pricy. They are paperback and on Amazon they currently range between 9 and 10 dollars each for a new copy. I know it could be worse, but then again, I think a lot of children’s books are way overpriced anymore. I don’t know, maybe I’m just cheap, but as of this article, they do have some cheaper options in the used section (though why you would ever get rid of this book I don’t personally know).  And those cheaper options are around 7 dollars, which is at least a little bit of savings.

Still, I am excited for this book series. It is a godsend in a world that really doesn’t have a lot of children’s books aimed at pagan children. As much as I love the Minnie Mouse and Friends series my grandmother got me as a child, or all the golden books we have, it is nice to find a few books that can help me share my faith with my daughter or with a child who is curious (provided I get parental permission of course).

I really hope you will check these books out though. They are well worth it.
Have a great day everyone.

Blessed Be.

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Book Review: Lady of Ten Thousand Faces

My family and I are just about to finish up reading the Lady of Ten Thousand Faces. You can find it on Amazon. It’s a book that holds several stories, each of a Goddess from a different culture. They take a page to explain who the Goddess is before telling the story. Included in the book are Isis, Quan Yin, the White Buffalo Woman, Cerridwen, Freya, Amaterasu, Oshun, Persephone, Demeter, and Hecate.

While the book is mostly text, the few illustrations it has are beautiful.  They are done in a watercolor style. I also enjoyed that you could tell which story was which by a boarder. Each of the Goddesses has their own except for the final three as they all share a story.  Still the artwork did a great job of adding to the story as you would hope it would in a child’s book.

I would say this book is more for a child who is starting to read, but to whom you are still reading to, so probably early Elementary. However, Freya is nine months and she still enjoyed it, even if she wanted to climb on the book more than look at it.

Each of the stories was well written and easy to follow.  My only problem is that some of the stories tell an over simplified version of the story that could raise questions when I present the mythology to Freya as she gets older. I didn’t want it to go into the gruesome details, but it would have been nice if all the names in Amaterasu’s story had been the Japanese names instead of American translations. Or in Isis’s story if it had been a bit more accurate without going too gruesome.

Regardless my issues with the book are few and far in between and should probably be expected in our sugar coated world. And while I want my child to be protected from some things, I don’t feel like we need to change names or water down the story to do so.  The stories of the Goddesses are powerful and beautiful.

Still, a great book overall. Hopefully the first of many pagan children’s books that I will find and be able to endorse.  If not, I might find a new calling as a children’s book writer. Lol.  I would just have to find an illustrator. Anyway, this is still a great book for anyone beginning to teach their child about the Goddess.

I’m going to leave it as a short post today. I just wanted to share my experience with this book and recommend it to anyone looking for a good pagan children’s book.