I’m Buying Books for Birthdays Take II:Rapunzel’s Revenge

Last year for my daughter’s 5th birthday in an attempt to promote literacy, be more environmentally friendly and inspired by I’m Buying Books for Holidays campaign started by Amy at My Friend Amy – I gave out books as party favors. I’m just not a big fan of cheap plastic toys that are not good for the environment and pose a choking risk to my 1 year old. The theme last year was Curious George and it was a ton ‘o fun. This year her theme was Rapunzel’s Revenge and I think we had even more fun this year.

My daughter likes to plan in advance (she’s like her father) and has her birthday parties and Halloween costumes pretty much scheduled for the next 2 years. She has been wanting a Rapunzel’s Revenge birthday party for over a year now. I wanted to give every child a copy of Rapunzel’s Revenge, but it just wasn’t in the budget no matter how much my heart was in it.  However, we did buy one copy and have a drawing and I got some other cool nonfiction books about animals, the earth and space to give away. Everyone went home with a book.

I knew that not everyone would be familiar with the book Rapunzel’s Revenge, in fact I was pretty sure that only one other parent, a fellow book blogger had even heard of the book. With my daughter’s heart set on doing her party around one of her favorite books, I decided we would act out a scene from the story after a little explanation of the Rapunzel story. Did I ever mention I love telling stories especially to a group of children? I’m not sure who had more fun me or them. Anyway I made a Rapunzel wig out of red yarn, which by the way 8 feet is not enough you probably need more like 12 to 16, but the kids didn’t mind. Got an old blue blouse and red vest, a hat and tie for Jack and a few other costumes and we acted out the scene where Rapunzel and Jack round up the coyotes. The kids ate it up, my favorite comment was, “Wow Rapunzel has really cool hair. . .I want hair like that!!!!”.

I then told the kids that Mother Gothel, a.k.a. the evil witch had hidden the birthday treasure, but that Rapunzel had left a note with a clue – three clues in all. We followed the clues and found the treasure, which of course was books, seeds because Mother Gothel has growth magic and then some combs because of Rapunzel’s whole hair thing plus if you noticed Jack’s hair is not exactly short either.

Doesn't do Nathan Hale's work justice, but the kids loved eating her hair.

My one regret is that I did not get a video recording of the performance. It would have been classic especially with all the ‘coyotes’ howling and Rapunzel and Jack chasing them down the hall. But the most important part is we had fun and each kid went home with a book. Next year my daughter is planning on Calamity Jack for her party and I’ll let you know how that one goes. I would again encourage everyone to buy books for birthdays as a way to promote literacy and the make excellent party favors and themes.


A Shadow in the Dark by Ronica Stromberg

I have to admit, I was intrigued from the start when the author, Ronica Stromberg, contacted me about sending a review copy of this book. If you know anything about me and my sister, it’s that we grew up on mysteries, so a girl with a shadow for a neighbor, was definitely tantalizing. I was excited to get the book soon after in the mail, and actually read it a few weeks ago, but I’ve been busy, and backloaded by all the reviews I need to get done, not to mention getting ready for a new baby who could actually make an appearance any day now. Nothing like a fire under your seat to get you moving!

Kirsten is new to her country ‘neighborhood’ if you can call it that. Having just moved from the country I could identify with the struggles of living far from friends, and unable/unwilling to make enough long-distance trips frequently to be able to keep up the neighbor-next-door relationship that comes from living close to friends. In the search for a new friend, Kirsten hears about a mysterious girl at a nearby farmhouse. But, since she heard it originally from a four year old, no one wants to take her seriously. Poor kids, sometimes we adults are so busy wrapped up in the day-to-day tasks of living, we don’t take time to notice the unusual things around us.

A Shadow in the Dark deals well with issues common to teens such as divorce, prejudice, and moving. Kirsten and her new found summer-friend, Gail, also deal with another common teen issue: religion and God. Gail is a Christian and attempts multiple times to convert Kirsten. Ultimately, Kirsten makes her own decision about God and religion.

When I first finished this book, I have to say, I really enjoyed the plot and thought it was well designed. I was a little put off by some of the dialogue because I thought the language wasn’t what typical teenagers use, and might be unappealing to that crowd. Then, I had an ‘Aha!’ moment. I’d forgotten that the book is published by Royal Fireworks Press, a publisher that specifically targets the gifted and talented crowd. I quickly got on the phone with my sister, Cari, to check a few things out. For those of you who don’t know, Cari taught gifted and talented middle school students for several years. It didn’t take long to find out that, “Yes, GT students do converse differently from the rest of the world on a fairly frequent basis.”

Just yesterday, I heard a teenager give a speech. Her command of the English language was impressive to say the least. I’m pretty sure she might be a GT student. So, since I’ve obviously just admitted that I wasn’t part of the GT crowd in high school, I can’t say that I know how the target audience will respond to this book. However, I enjoyed the story and think that there are lots of teaching opportunities to use this book as part of a curriculum or just for pleasure reading. Now I’m really curious to see what some GT students or former GT students think about this story. Thanks, Ronica, for the opportunity to review your book. I look forward to reading the sequel, Living it Up to Live it Down.

Happy New Year’s. . .um I am mean a belated Valentine’s Day!!!

If you’ve noticed (is anyone still reading our blog?) we still have our Holiday season buttons on our blog. I feel a little bit sheepish kind of like the neighbor down the street who just took down their Christmas decorations down last week.  I have been a bit absent from the book blogging community as has my sister who is preparing for baby #4. We are still here and I have plans to jump back in starting this week, although my sister my need a little more time. I have missed the book blogging community immensly.

Apparently my grand plans for the New Year fell apart and I mixed up more than a few dates for blogging events like Bloggiesta and social events I had planned on attending. I have to confess in large part because we are still learning about and dealing with my daughter’s recent diagnosis of Epilepsy. She had a breakthrough seizure during the first week of January, which means that she had a seizure while on anti-seizure medication. In other words it wasn’t supposed to happen. Life was going pretty well, and it still is, but we have been taken on an unexpected ride (no ambulance this time though) and I have had to really focus on my family the last little while. The doctor increased her medication and we pray and hope that it will work as some of the other meds have a lot more scary side effects. She has been seizure free for about 5 weeks (let’s keep our fingers crossed). If anything I am learning to take life one day at a time and sometimes it’s one moment at a time because that’s all I can do some days. I am still reading lots and reading with both my kids, which has been a life-saver the last several months.

So here’s to a New Year and Happy Valentine’s Day and look out for some great book reviews and some fun posts about Holly finally getting her revenge Rapunzel style on her sister Cari.