City of Ember

“The trouble with anger is, it gets hold of you. And then you aren’t the master of yourself anymore. Anger is.” – Jeanne DuPrau, City of Ember


City of Ember written by Jeanne DuPrau

Published by Yearling in 2003

BLURB: Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all—the lights are failing. Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness…

But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?

My Take On It: This is one of the books that I read with my son for his school’s Battle of the Books that I previously posted about. I generally like dystopian novels and so I was excited to see one written for children. The story was really good. It got my son and myself engaged and excited to read more. Lina and Doon, our main characters, are only 12 years old when they are thrust into responsibility and jobs that contribute to society in the city of Ember. I was able to start a conversation with my son about whether or not he would be ready to go out and get a job and take care of his siblings in a year and a half. Ha ha! He is a lucky boy that he doesn’t need to do that. It was also exciting for both of us to speculate on how the mystery would be solved and what would happen. It was a story that showed how courageous and strong you can be no matter how old you are.

My 5th grader is a great reader. He is above grade level and he doesn’t “need” me to read with him. I am not saying this to brag (even though mom bragging is ok in short doses). I am saying this because it is such a great opportunity to bond with your kids. All of my kids enjoy either reading to their parents or with their parents. In fact, even when I don’t read the book with them they like to come and tell me about what they’ve read. I hope with all my heart that this fosters a continued love of reading throughout their lives.

So if you haven’t read a book with your kid, do it! And if you need a good recommendation for 4th to 6th grade age group, City of Ember is a good one to start with for a boy or girl!

What books have you and/or your children read that you’ve loved?






Battle of the Books

My kids started this year off in a new school, and hey, so did I! I’m lucky enough to have a part-time job there helping kids with reading, language arts, and some math. There have been some fun new things that we have enjoyed about the new school. Our teachers, principal, techs and PTA are great.



One new programs that we hadn’t done before is called “Battle of the Books”. The kids that participate are 3rd & 4th graders, and 5th & 6th graders. Here is how it works: At the beginning of the year students are given a list of 20 books (3rd & 4th grade have one list of 20 and 5th & 6th have another list of 20). The kids in each class are broken up into teams and each kid in the team is assigned 5 books from the list to read. However, a kid can read as many books from the list as they want. Then in the spring they will have quiz battles with their fellow students to see which teams can earn the most points. They’re quizzed on information from all the books and they must answer with the correct Title and Author. The first 2 days of the battles 3rd and 4th grade teams will battle each other. Their battles are based on points only and after the battles they can look at their scores in list from 1st place on down. Then the next two days the 5th and 6th graders battle. Their competition has more at stake. The first day all teams battle. The next day there is an elimination bracket. And the last two teams standing will battle on the 5th day. The winning teams from both age groups will battle the winning teams from a nearby school.

If this doesn’t already sound exciting to you, well take my word for it, it is! For this week those of us that work as Techs at the school help run the battles under the direction of our great librarians and PTA president. It was a lot of fun, and let me tell you what else, the kids had great sportsmanship! There were some students who were a little down about losing, but all of them tried to be nice and congratulate each other.

Sorry for the length of this post, but I am getting there… So I have a 5th grader this year! It was super exciting to have him participate. His team did not go to the end, but they made it to the 3rd bracket the 2nd day! Good job “Taco Bombs” (yep that was their team name)!

My son read 6 books from the list and his whole team together read all but 1.5 of the 20 books. I was impressed with the lists. The books ranged from funny to adventurous to heartfelt. In the collage are the 6 books that he read and I highly recommend them for your 5th or 6th graders or older! I read City of Ember and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with him in full. (Eeepp! Yes! I have been waiting and waiting to share Harry Potter with my kids!) I was also able to read some of Worth and most of Summer of the Monkeys, which turned out to be my son’s favorite one. Next year I will have a 3rd grader and 6th grader and I am going to try to get them to read all 20 if possible. I think having seen the Battle of the Books and now knowing what it is all about might help me in this endeavour. Wish me luck!

“Forgiveness has Power…”

I want to share with you a story that I recently read that made me emotional and touched my heart. With all of the anger that seems to be in the world I often wonder why so many are willing to let their hate escalate instead of searching for peace. I feel like even those with “a worthy cause” sometimes get wrapped up in becoming what they don’t like about the “other side”. I often love looking for quotes of peace from Gandhi, he really seemed to know his stuff. Anyhow, this story made me think about all the good that is still out there. It made me think, too, that maybe forgiveness might be the thing that is missing.

This is a true story out of New York. I found it in the middle of a talk given during an LDS general conference several years ago. This is just an excerpt that tells the story (I will place a link to the full content and site I got it from at the bottom of this post.)

“A time back, I clipped a column from the Deseret Morning News, written by Jay Evensen. With his permission, I quote from a part of it. Wrote he:

“How would you feel toward a teenager who decided to toss a 20-pound frozen turkey from a speeding car headlong into the windshield of the car you were driving? How would you feel after enduring six hours of surgery using metal plates and other hardware to piece your face together, and after learning you still face years of therapy before returning to normal—and that you ought to feel lucky you didn’t die or suffer permanent brain damage?

“And how would you feel after learning that your assailant and his buddies had the turkey in the first place because they had stolen a credit card and gone on a senseless shopping spree, just for kicks? …

“This is the kind of hideous crime that propels politicians to office on promises of getting tough on crime. It’s the kind of thing that prompts legislators to climb all over each other in a struggle to be the first to introduce a bill that would add enhanced penalties for the use of frozen fowl in the commission of a crime.

“The New York Times quoted the district attorney as saying this is the sort of crime for which victims feel no punishment is harsh enough. ‘Death doesn’t even satisfy them,’ he said.

“Which is what makes what really happened so unusual. The victim, Victoria Ruvolo, a 44-year-old former manager of a collections agency, was more interested in salvaging the life of her 19-year-old assailant, Ryan Cushing, than in exacting any sort of revenge. She pestered prosecutors for information about him, his life, how he was raised, etc. Then she insisted on offering him a plea deal. Cushing could serve six months in the county jail and be on probation for 5 years if he pleaded guilty to second-degree assault.

“Had he been convicted of first-degree assault—the charge most fitting for the crime—he could have served 25 years in prison, finally thrown back into society as a middle-aged man with no skills or prospects.”

“But this is only half the story. The rest of it, what happened the day this all played out in court, is the truly remarkable part.

“According to an account in the New York Post, Cushing carefully and tentatively made his way to where Ruvolo sat in the courtroom and tearfully whispered an apology. ‘I’m so sorry for what I did to you.’

“Ruvolo then stood, and the victim and her assailant embraced, weeping. She stroked his head and patted his back as he sobbed, and witnesses, including a Times reporter, heard her say, ‘It’s OK. I just want you to make your life the best it can be.’ According to accounts, hardened prosecutors, and even reporters, were choking back tears” (“Forgiveness Has Power to Change Future,” Deseret Morning News, Aug. 21, 2005, p. AA3)

Here is a link to the rest of the talk if you would like to read it. Forgiveness

What do you think of that story? Amazing right? And I am glad that even with negative things in the world, there are stories like this all around proving that there is good in the world. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Recognize Any of these Candies from the Past?

Recently I got my hands on two movies that my kids had not seen before. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005).  Honestly I couldn’t remember much about the newer version, but the older one was the source of some slightly creepy memories from childhood, so naturally I loved it dearly! I was in fact given the nick-name of oompa-loompa occasionally during my high school and college years which I am sure had nothing to do with how weird they were and more to do with my height (right guys? …guys?). I really wanted to share the movies with my kids and see which one they preferred.

Guess what? They love them both and have watched them multiple times! I have to say also that I like the newer movie more than I previously thought. So naturally all this candy watching gave us the craving for sweets and since it is spring break I took my kids to an old fashioned candy store and let them spend a few dollars. Lets face it, this “penny candy” costs a little more than a penny these days.

It brought back a lot of memories from my childhood. These were special treats back in the “olden days”! So cool that they are still around in a few fun places. Here are some I remember.

  1. Nik L Nip.

17884101_1727918800556871_4950798473284650443_nNow my every kid I knew swore you could just go ahead and chew on the wax afterward and it was totally just like gum. My kids were not convinced of this. They were very excited to try them though!


2. Chiclets gum

mini-chiclets-gum-127001-ff1 I loved getting these out of the penny machines, and because they were penny machines I totally could get some!

3.  Candy Buttons

candy_buttons_unwrapped Now I don’t particularly remember eating these as a kid, but I know I have seen them before and besides they are in the original Willy Wonka movie in the opening scene of the Candy Store.

4.  Candy Lip Stick

candy-lipsticks-50ct-7These I thought were sooooo cool!

5.  Candy Lolly Pop

thJPK730Q6These I still love and would prefer my kids to eat over the sticky-get-everwhere hard candied suckers.

6. Big Cherry

cq5dam_web_616_462This I am adding to the list because I would always see them at the convenient store near my grandma’s house and I always begged my mom to let me buy one. She usually said that it was too big or that I wouldn’t like it. I remember the day I finally got my hands on one. Probably grandma’s doing. 😉  Umm I did like it! And it was not too much for me mom!

What are some of your favorites? What would you add to the list?
































A Man Called Ove

“One of the most painful moments in a person’s life probably comes with the insight that an age has been reached when there is more to look back on than ahead.”  – Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove


A Man Called Ove  by Fredrik Backman  – Translated by Henning Koch

Published by Atria Books in July 2014

Blurb: A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

My take on it: Wonderful. I fell in love with Ove (by the way pronounced Oo-vuh, as the character is Swedish).  This book was so sweet and moving, yet also laugh out loud funny. Just like the other characters in this story I truly felt a gravitational pull toward this older man with his gruff exterior, but unwavering sense or responsibility and respect. Men like Ove seem to be a dying breed and one our world desperately needs more of. He’s honest, hard-working, and has real integrity. As I dove deeper into Ove’s story I couldn’t help but think about how events and people in our lives help shape who we become. This book makes some really lovely points about life, loss and how we spend our time while we’re here. I really just loved Ove’s train of thought and bluntness. One of my favorite quotes (as a fellow short person) :

“Ove feels an instinctive skepticism towards all people taller than six feet; the blood can’t quite make it all the way up to the brain.”  – Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove

I definitely recommend reading this book. They even made a movie (which I haven’t seen yet), but read the book first!

Thanks for reading my reviews! Let me know what you think!

Words of… Wednesday


This is one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite books. I still get tearful when I think about the relationship between Aibileen and Mae Mobley and the end of  The Help by Kathryn Stockett . I still feel upliftted by the strength and guts of the characters in that book, and even more so when I think about those whose real lives resemble the stories in those pages.  When I read that book several years ago it was weeks before I could pick up another book. I was so stunned and awed by what I had read. If you haven’t read it please do. Even if you think you don’t love to read. This is one that is so worth it.

Thanks for reading!