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review 2019-01-23 00:06
Tales of a Cosmic Possum by Sheila Ingle
Tales of a Cosmic Possum - Sheila Ingle

Sheila Ingle’s husband John was brought up in Ingle Holler in Union, South Carolina, with eight other Ingle families. They worked together in the mills, shared their gardens, attended church, and enjoyed the playing and singing of the songs from the Grand Ole Opry. When five of the brothers went off to war, those who couldn’t fight took care of their families. The Ingles stuck together, just like they were taught in the Appalachian hills of Erwin, Tennessee. Love of God, love of family, and love of country were modeled in each home. In fact, one year Make Ingle put his sons and grandsons together to build Hillside Baptist Church. Adults kept up with the newspapers and the radios; world happenings were important. Any type of sickness brought a barrage of soup and cornbread, because children still had to eat. On those twenty acres, the children played in the creek, cowboys and Indians, and hide-and-seek. They built their own wagons and sleds to race down the hill on the dry, hickory leaves. All the boys learned to shoot a .22 caliber, and John’s mother Lois could light a match with her shots. Living in Ingle Holler was home, where each one was accepted.

Amazon.com

 

 

 

In Tales of Cosmic Possum, author Sheila Ingle writes a celebratory biography of the Ingle family, her husband's people. The branch of the family tree we as readers get to know originated in Erwin, Tennessee but later relocated to Union, South Carolina on a piece of land that came to be known as Ingle Holler. In this holler, family members could grow up expecting a true Appalachian upbringing. As the years pass over the course of the book, readers are introduced to generations of cotton mill workers -- many dropping out of school by the 3rd grade to join the rest of the family in the mills --  humble and hard-working folk dedicated to their families, regardless of how much or how little they had. Scattered throughout these tales are also neat little historical notes (ie. the reference to Peter Pan peanut butter being sold in tin cans in the 1930s -- I didn't know the brand even dated back that far!)

 

 

Sometimes it was difficult to remember back to those early years 37 years ago. The skinny auburn-haired girl, afraid of the dark and her own shadow, had matured into a woman who was a right good spinner and fit as a fiddle. Her third grade education had not held her back.

 

"Julie", chapter discussing the grandmother of Sheila Ingle's husband, John

 

 

Though considered one continuous non-fiction piece, the chapters are set up to showcase one particular member of the Ingle family (per chapter) and a story unique to them. But the stories are so moving, so richly infused with life & spirit, the reader quickly gets immersed in the lives of these people long gone. Sheila Ingle's writing is so inviting, offers such a sense of inclusion to readers, that this work of biography moves more like a collection of interconnected short stories. I guess, in a sense, they are! The very last chapter focuses on Sheila Ingle's mother-in-law.

 

Relevant black and white photos are included in some of the chapters to enhance the scenes described. There are also several pages of additional photos of family members at the back of the book. 

 

Collectively, the chapters span the years between early 1900s - 1950s, chapters full of heartwarming stories of neighbor helping neighbor, even when it seems like you have nothing to offer. Sheila Ingle, through the stories of her husband's family, illustrates that though one may have meager physical possessions on hand, you may be surprised to realize that, in fact, there is nearly always something within your ability or means that can be of use to someone in need. These are the types of books we need more of in this day and age! 

 

*Note to animal lovers though: Early on in the book, during Fannie's story, there is description of Fannie witnessing the hanging -- literal hanging -- execution of a circus elephant who trampled its handler to death after being startled. The imagery, as you can imagine, is pretty disturbing.

 

FTC Disclaimer: Ambassador International kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-01-22 23:27
Ms. Harris' Overview of Amazing Grace
Amazing Grace - Mary Hoffman,Caroline Binch

Amazing Grace proves that you can be anything you want to be. This is a great book to promote literacy and reach out to any girls who feel like they are not able to do something because they aren't male. Amazing Grace is on a reading level of 3.5 (3rd grade, 5th month). A fun activity to do with this book is to allow the students to watch Peter Pan and/or have them act out a play of Peter Pan. 

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review 2019-01-22 22:53
Ms. Harris' Overview on Mouse and the Moon made of Cheese
Mouse and the Moon Made of Cheese. Author, Dean Russell - Dean Russell

A little mouse believes the moon is made of cheese and although everyone tells him its not, the mouse is determined to figure out himself. This is a great book to motivate your students and get to know what they are determined to do. I would recommend reading this book to lower grade (K-2) while engaging them in an activity by them writing, discovering, and drawing what they aspire to be. This is a great book for all students and I recommend for teachers to give it a read to encourage theirselves. 

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review 2019-01-22 22:31
Book Review of The Letter (The Chateau series Book 1) by Emma Sharp
The Letter - Emma Sharp

On yet another wet morning in Yorkshire, Laura, a newly qualified nurse, orphaned at a young age and brought up by her late grandma, is struggling financially and emotionally since the death of her beloved gran. That is, until one morning, when, out of the blue she receives a mysterious letter. With life changing decisions to be made, will Laura take up the challenge of starting a new life in the French sunshine? 
Join her on the rollercoaster adventure, as she experiences highs and lows, opens new doors, makes new friends; and enemies along the way. Who can she trust in this unfamiliar country with the secrets that she uncovers? And, how is she going to deal with her belligerent, new neighbour?
So much more than a rags to riches story.

 

Review 4*

 

The Letter is the first in The Chateau series written by a debut author. I really enjoyed it!

 

Laura Mackley is a character I struggled to connect with at first, but as I read further into the story, she grew on me. By the end of the book, I liked her, even though some of her internal monologues made me want to roll my eyes or slap her silly. She is a nurse in England, who receives a letter that changes her life. Inheriting a chateau in France, she finds herself facing many challenges and decisions. As she delves deeper into the history surrounding her inheritance, Laura uncovers a family history previously unknown to her. Will she find her answers?

 

I don't usually read a lot of women's fiction. However, as I am trying to broaden my reading horizons, after reading the synopsis, I decided to give this book a try.

 

This story is told through the eyes of Laura. There are a few interesting characters in this book. Xavier is a French farmer, and neighbour to Laura. He comes across as intense and broody. Alice is his elderly mother, who has had a recent hospital stay and required care. Then there is Gus, Xavier's young son. There are a few more characters that make an appearance, which gives the story a nice realistic feel. There's even a piano playing ghost!

 

I started reading this story but wasn't instantly sucked in. I found it easy to put this book down, do something else, then pick it back up. This doesn't mean that I wasn't enjoying the story. As I said above, my problem lay in liking (or in this case, disliking) the main character. As I read more of the story, I became intrigued with the history of the chateau and Laura's family connection to it. There is a mystery hidden within the pages of this book, but as this is the first book in a series, some mystery remains towards the end. Xavier and Laura seem to have some chemistry, but I'm unsure if it's love or hate. Laura certainly emotes hate, but Xavier is an unknown quantity. It will be interesting to see how their relationship develops.

 

The author describes the scenes quite well, and this made it easy for me to picture in my mind's eye. Some dialogue feels a little forced, but for the most part, makes the characters come alive. There are a few twists thrown in, and the one near the end completely surprised me. I definitely didn't see that scene coming! Although the story doesn't end in a climatic cliffhanger, it does end on a small one. The author has added a teaser for the second book to tempt the reader into continuing with the series. I will be doing so in the future.

 

Emma Sharp is a debut author who has written an intriguing story. Her writing is not particularly fast-paced, but it is enough for me to keep turning pages. The story flows well, which makes it more enjoyable too.

 

Although there are no scenes of violence or any of a sexual nature, I do not recommend this book to younger readers, as I feel they may struggle with it. I do, however, recommend this book to readers of women's fiction, literary humour and romance. - Lynn Worton

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2019-01-22 22:10
Ms. Harris' Overview of Hooray for Reading Day!
Hooray for Reading Day! - Margery Cuyler,Arthur Howard

This is an outstanding book to read to your class on any given day. It is so important to understand that not everyone can get reading right off the bat, and IT IS OK! This book is about a young girl who struggles to read and is embarrassed to read in front of her class. She soon discovers with a little practice that reading isn't so bad. Allow your students to experience this book and go on a truthful journey of how practice makes perfect. This book is placed at a 2.4 reading level. A great activity for this book is to allow your students to do what the students in the book did. The students could act it out and participate so they know that reading can actually be really fun. 

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