Book Review: The Mad Scientist's Notebook by Elizabeth Snoke Harris

Summary: Plastic humanoids, dancing spaghetti, and rubber eggs: something wacky’s going on here—and kids will love it! After all, what could be more fun than peeking into a mad scientist’s notebook and finding 50 fizzing, popping projects that will light up their own laboratories…and minds? Young Einsteins (and Dr. Frankensteins) will discover really cool things to do, including building a hovercraft and rocket, boiling ice without melting it, and making their fingers smoke. Notes from the mad scientist himself on richly illustrated and lined pages make the projects even more entertaining! But don’t be fooled: these irresistible experiments demonstrate important principles of physics, biology, and chemistry. So kids will safely learn all about science…even if they’re too busy making a mess to realize it.

Release Date: June 2008
Age Group: Science, Non-Fiction
Source: Purchased Copy
Reviewed By: Nat & a Future {Mad} Scientist

Review:
I have one future scientist. I am constantly scouring Pinterest for quick & easy little experiments for him to do on the weekends. I have even had to use these as bribes and rewards for good behavior at school.

My mom found this little nugget of wacky experiments and it has been a lot of fun not just for my science minded guy but for the whole family! We started off with Bendable Bones (pg 66). Because who hasn't tried to bend a bone before? In our case, we try to bend them way too often and have had every single monster in casts... multiple times... CPS only evaluated us once...


Both my husband and myself have science-based degrees but it is often hard to explain certain principles regarding the properties of science. This book poses a question and then follows with the experiment. Then gives a simple concise explanation that is in terms kids can understand (explanations also have vocabulary words in red) and sometimes has a quirky thought based on the principles taught. For our experiment, it read this:


Now if I soaked my bones in vinegar, I could finally win a limbo contest. And I could sneak into places through the air ducts to steal stuff. Pardon me while I go fill my bathtub with vinegar...     




Where we got the bone

Future Scientist ran into my room yelling "Mom, mom, I got what we needed today at lunch!" And then he proceeded to pull out a wad of napkins from his pocket.

A nice, oily chicken bone appeared.

Then he hands me The Mad Scientists Notebook and said we were ready to start.

So we did.

Dick and Jane and Vampires

When I was learning to read, I remember reading the Dick & Jane books. There weren't all the cool easy readers like today.

There was Dick, Jane & Spot the dog, later came Sally the little sister.
See Spot.
       See Spot run.
                 Look Sally.
                       Look at Spot run.

I'm surprised we didn't all name our kids Sally & Dick.

When my oldest monster was learning to read my mom found this gem! Dick and Jane and Vampires



My moral compass was set. Literacy plus a vampire, no brainer.
This book is actually a collection of several beginner readers and divided into three categories:
  • Look & Find
  • Run & Hide
  • Work & Play
Work and Play is easily my favorite section because it is so bizarre & awesome to see Dick with garlic wrapped around his neck and pages later see Dracula playing house with Sally!


I'm pretty sure kids these days don't even know what playing house means...

Anyhoo, every family should have a copy of Dick and Jane and Vampires. It will serve as nostalgia for parents and bring a little humor to the nail biting time of teaching young kids to start piecing together sentences... what a time it is...


Ahhh. I was never cut out to teach elementary kids, hats off to all the first grade teachers who fight in the trenches and make sure my kids are literate. You're thebomb.com


You've Been BOO'ed!

We have a tradition in our family that begins October 1st and involves sneaking around, banging on doors and running. We BOO people and we have really great stories to tell. 

Each year we sit around as a family and make a list of the families we want to BOO. Each kid chooses 5 people and then I add to it... we Boo a lot. 

But seriously, I'd rather my kids sneaking around causing mayhem with me waiting in an idling car. #parentingwin

I put together a simple Boo kit to share. You can make these as simple or as elaborate as you want, either way, people just like to know someone is thinking about them. 

Enjoy & run fast kids!!!

Click & save image. Open and print on plain or colored paper.

Print big (8.5x11)! I like to print this on white cardstock, it hold up better when being tossed between kids & doorsteps.
You want people to be able to see it in the window.

Here are a few we did last weekend:

The first one was a tin filled with brownies & an attached ghost balloon, with the papers attached to the balloon. {I used a whole punch & attached the balloon string to the instructions & ghost.}



Another we filled with easy reader books and used caution tape as the tie.


We went old school on this one and filled a bucket with loads of candy & set a light-up ghost right on top.


Supplies:
  • Halloween bucket: Wal-Mart 98 cents
  • Ghost balloons: pack of 5 for $1 @ Dollar Tree
  • Caution tape & light-up ghost: Dollar Tree
  • Brownie batch: straight from the box (ain't nobody got time for scratch)
  • Helium: I had a small helium tank left over from a party so I used that to fill the balloons. I buy them at Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby (with a coupon) and they last for several holiday activities.
  • Books: I always stock up on all the dollar books from school book order forms & any that I find at the school book fairs.

Frightful Movie Shorts for the Family

One of my kids favorite things to do is find the most random (dumb) videos on YouTube & then call everyone in to watch. They are usually something funny like a parody or just straight up D.U.M.B.

Well I've got a few videos to share too kids... 

*These movie shorts are family friendly but are sure to cause a fright. I subscribe to TallGuyTrav on YouTube because, well he's funny but these are his frightful masterpieces that I re-watch every year (and laugh... and show my kids... and laugh some more).



Spooktacular Giveaway!


Join the fun with us for our 31 Days of Halloween! We are keeping this Giveaway old school & simple:
To enter:
  • Follow our Pinterest board and comment DONE in the comments [1 entry]

One winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card!


Now hop on over to the next blog & win something good.

And for those of you that are still interested in donating books to our Macy Kate, click HERE
#hurricaneharvey
 

Revisiting The Little Shop of Monsters by RL Stine & Marc Brown

Summary: A frighteningly fun picture book adventure from two monstrously talented children's book icons--Marc Brown and R.L. Stine!
 

Are you are afraid of monsters?
Do they make you shiver and shake and shut your eyes really tight at night?

Welcome to the Little Shop of Monsters! Do you want a SNEEZER? A TICKLER? Or one of the CREEPIEST monsters of all? Come on in and choose your favorite, if you dare (before one of them chooses YOU!).

Renowned children's book creators Marc Brown and R.L. Stine join forces for the very first time-in Stine's picture book debut-with a tale that is monstrously good fun. 





I originally reviewed Little Shop of Monsters HERE and I still feel the same --> It's EPIC!

This still remains one of our family favorites to read and re-read aloud. 

I was really excited when I stumbled upon the Pocket Monsters that are available to download on the books website [HERE] but what I was most excited to find out was that the audiobook is available and.... 

wait for it...





                     still waiting?...




 
JACK BLACK is the narrator! 
Yes, you must buy it. 
Yes, right now. 
Click HERE.
image source: ew.com
And just one more gem, RL Stine & Marc Brown have delivered yet again with their latest scare, Mary McScary


AHHHH! I am so excited! 
<insert crazy excited emoji
I have it ordered & fingers crossed it's in before Halloween.   
 

13 Spooky Stories for Beginner Readers {Level 2 Readers}



When your little monster is finally to the point of reading solo but still needs a little help, level 2 easy readers are the best! 

Here are my top 13 picks that are Halloween themed!

1. Inside a House that is Haunted by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

2. Flat Stanley & the Haunted House by Jeff Brown

3. Hot Rod Hamster & the Haunted Halloween Party by

4. Sponge Bob Squarepants: The Big Halloween Scare by Steven Banks

5. Happy Haunting, Amelia Bedelia by Herman Parish

6. Scooby-Doo! and the Cupcake Caper

7. The Cat in the Hat: Have No Fear! Halloween is Here! 

8. Never Kick a Ghost & Other Silly Chillers by Judy Sierra

9. Monster School First Day Frights by Dave Keane

10. LuLu Goes to Witch School by Jane O'Connor

11. Thomas & Friends: A Ghost on the Track

12. Halloween Parade by Abby Klein

13. In a Dark, Dark Room & Other Scary Stories by Alvin Swartz

Most of these are on Amazon at a reasonable price. I did find a box set at Sam's Club called "My Favorite Spooky Stories" and it included numbers 2, 5, 9, 10, 13.


Book Review: Glow by Megan E. Bryant

Summary:
"I used to worry about the dark. When it's dark, your whole life can spiral out of control. But there's a certain kind of light I should have been afraid of all along."

Separated by the span of a century, two girls are drawn to the same dangerous secret. With her college plans wiped out by her mother's financial problems, Julie's stuck in a dead-end job, watching her best friend move on without her. A chance discovery of antique paintings with hidden glowing images captivates Julie and leaves her determined to learn the identity of the artist—even as she is haunted by the paintings' increasingly nightmarish images.
One hundred years earlier, Lydia spends her days in a factory painting luminous watch dials for soldiers; her nights are devoted to writing letters to her beloved on the front lines of the Great War. Lydia hopes the factory, and its exciting new scientific paint, will provide her whole family with a brighter future.
As Julie's obsession with the mysterious paintings mounts, truths about the Radium Girls—and her own complicated relationships—are revealed. But will she uncover the secret of the luminous paintings before putting herself and everyone she loves at risk?

Release Date: September 2017
Age Group: 
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Reviewed By: Ms. Leger

Review:
This is a 5/5 star read! The story-line & accuracy of this historical fiction is superb.  

Glow was so good that I read it in two days (while working). The story is told between two different periods in time. Bryant blended past & present perfectly, two simultaneous stories in one, not always easy to accomplish and she does is with ease. There is just enough mystery that it keeps the reader from finding a stopping point.  

I was familiar with the Radium Girls before beginning, had I not been familiar I would have stopped & done some quick research. I feel 100% confident that Bryant's research before writing this story was extensive and detailed. 
The past is written in the form of letters. As the story progressed, I found myself wanting to warn the dialpainters about working with radium.  So many times I wanted to shout "Stop, find another job!" but to no avail. 

The present day character, Julie, is more obsessed with art than with danger, not realizing what she has found. I have never seen radium but I can suspect its glow is memorizing. I understood Julie's fascination, I got pulled in too.
I recommend this book to all YA & historical fiction readers. I also insist Nat read GLOW next!
Ms. Leger 
One quick suggestion: read this fabulous fact sheet [HERE] before beginning Glow if you are unfamiliar with the discovery & uses of radium by dialpainters.

Book Review: Why Can't Everyday be Halloween? by Jaclyn Kruzie


Summary: Who doesn't want holiday fun to last a little longer? One young boy does! He wishes Halloween would last forever. It is also the night monsters roam, and they show up in the most unexpected places.

Release Date: 2015
Age Group: Children, Rhyming-Text
Source: Amazon Purchase
Reviewed By: Nat & The Boys

Review:
I don't normally start off a review with a quote but this is fitting. Tim Burton once said,
Everyday is Halloween, isn't it? For some of us...
I love Halloween. I love the colors, the pumpkins, the black cats & witches, the costumes, really I love all of it except the candy. I loathe the candy. It is very surprising to people that know me when I tell them I confiscate all candy on November 1st. My monsters get to choose 5 pieces to hoard away and eat at their own discretion... eat it all at once or eat it sparingly, I don't care BECAUSE THAT'S ALL THEY HAVE ACCESS TOO!

Don't panic, I don't throw away the overpriced chocolate. I happily donate it the first chance I get and get that crap out of my house. Obviously, I loved this book because it was inline with my mad parenting skills.

Why Can't Everyday Be Halloween? is a fun children's book that tells the tale of coming down from a month of monsters and candy. Of course this story relays to kids in a fun way what might happen if you keep eating all that junk; unlike my approach of just ripping off the band-aid (aka take all the crap away).

I really enjoyed the simplicity of the story. What really caught my eye was the art! The watercolor was awesome and the facial expressions were so creepy! Hats off to Curt Cryer, you nailed it.

This really is a fun Halloween book to add to a family library or class library as a read-a-loud book. I would recommend reading this book to young children the week following Halloween. You know the week when they are whiny, won't go to bed and you almost want to choke them... THAT.WEEK.

I borrowed a copy from a friend but I did find it on Amazon HERE and ordered my own.

As always, Happy Haunting Friends & put the candy down! {Pace yo selves, your butt will thank me later}.



Campfire Tales: Are You Afraid of the Dark? {31 Days of Halloween}


Nothing is scarier than sitting in the dark, hearing the crickets and having everyone around you holding their breathe waiting to hear what happens next...

It's the perfect time of year to sit around a fire and tell spooky stories, but for that to happen you have to have the right story. The scariest stories I have ever listened to were from two series: Scary Stories for Sleep-Overs by QL Pearce & Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. These are the stories that are sure to cause children to sleep with their parents. I still remember being scared out of my mind as a tween and it was great! 

Scariest episodes HERE.
If you have a group of kids that are leery about sitting and listening to a campfire story because a) it sounds lame or b) they are lame have them watch a few episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark? 

[Here is an intro that I randomly found on YouTube just to give you a preview.]

They WILL have a chill down their spine after watching the intro, gosh I miss 90's TV. That preview was the catalyst that got a group of us to have our own Midnight Society and tell spooky stories (well and sneaking a lighter into the woods). Of course it only lasted a few weekends and then we were glued to the series but hey, those were scary Saturday nights!

You can stream all of the series on Amazon & Netflix, I'm sure there are also other ways to find episodes if you are tech savvy. As for me, I risk nothing when it comes to a scare, I bought the complete seasons... I hate to depend on internet streaming.

Happy Haunting,