What We’re Reading: Pansy and the Promise

Happy Wednesday, mamas!

If you’re looking for a great book that you AND your kids can read, we’ve got a good one for you. Pansy and the Promise, by Stanley Ross Rule, is based on real stories about a young girl living and traveling in the Old West. (Full disclosure: The girl written about in the book, Pansy, happens to be my great-grandmother, who I never had the chance to meet.)

What we love about this book is how it combines reading with history and spiritual encouragement. Many home-school moms are using it as history lessons. (If you’d like to do the same, you can download vocabulary lists pansy and the promise325and lesson plans for free at the author’s website: www.pansyandthepromise.com.)

It’s perfect for anyone who loves the Little House on the Prairie series. You can get the book at any online bookseller. Click HERE to read more about the book on Amazon.

Here’s a little more info about what you’ll find inside:

Pansy and the Promise is a book for children based on true-life stories told by the author’s grandmother. This historical fiction gives young readers an exciting glimpse of life, faith, and courage in the latter days of the Old West. It’s written for young minds to easily capture the concept of God’s grace in a story of adventure, mystery, and surprise.

Pansy grew up in a log cabin ranch house in New Mexico in the late 1800s. Anticipation filled the cabin when Papa announced that the family would be taking a trip by covered wagon to Galveston, Texas. Every night along the trail, Papa and Mama Hunt shared campfire stories with Pansy about exciting adventures in the lives of her remarkable family. She learned she had a rich heritage of trusting God in some impossible circumstances.

Read the story of her Great-Grandmother Nancy being rescued from a warring tribe of Indians and how God provided for her Aunt Virginia in the middle of a great drought. These tales combined with her own adventures along the trail help her to spiritually understand how God has promised “to never leave or forsake us.”

Pansy and the Promise encourages a child to appreciate life and embrace faith. The book is being used in faith-based school classrooms to lead children into discussions about faith, forgiveness, perseverance, and kindness.


Guest Post: Three easy ways to support your friend diagnosed with cancer

By Marissa Henley, local cancer survivor and author of Loving Your Friend Through Cancer

Has this happened to you? Your phone buzzes, and you look down to see a call from a friend who’s expecting biopsy results.

The minute you hear her voice, you know: it’s cancer.

As you process your shock, sadness and fear, you wonder how you should walk this road with your friend. How will you support her as she endures treatment and survivorship? How will you avoid doing or saying the wrong thing? What does she need most?

loving your friend through cancer, marissa henleyI’ve gotten that phone call from a friend. I’ve also been the tearful voice on the other end of the line. In October 2010, I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called angiosarcoma.

I endured several months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery, most of which took place at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. My besties kept my household running, meals showed up three times a week, and the prayers of thousands encouraged and sustained me.

I wish every cancer-fighter could feel as loved and supported as I was. But too often, friends lack confidence and hesitate to reach out with supportive words and actions. If you haven’t already had a friend face cancer, it’s likely you will.

When that phone call comes, here are three simple ways to love your friend through cancer:

1. Don’t just “like” her updates—leave a comment.

Does your friend post online updates to a blog or social media site? You could “like” her post (and please do!), but she won’t be certain you actually read it. Commenting on her updates is a simple way to show support and doesn’t require her to respond.

Writing a comment can feel risky if you don’t know what to say. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Short comments are fine!
  • Keep your comments about her, not about you. This isn’t the time to tell her how upset you are about her illness.
  • Acknowledge what’s happening: “I’m so sorry to hear you’ve been feeling sick lately!”
  • Let her know you care: “I’m praying for you and your family.”

2. Make specific offers of help and let her tell you “no.”

Your friend with cancer will hear this over and over again: “Let me know how I can help!” She knows many of these offers come from a sincere desire to serve; others are flippant words spoken by someone who doesn’t know what else to say.

You can prove your sincerity by making your offer as specific as possible. Think about where your lives intersect and how you can help.

  • Do you drive by her child’s preschool on your way to work? Are your kids on the same soccer team? You could offer to give her child a ride.
  • Do you have a specific pocket of free time each week when you could commit to serving her? Ask what she needs during that time—offer to clean her house or take her to run errands if she’s unable to drive.
  • Are you a terrible cook with terrific technological skills? Offer to set up a master meal calendar and then sign yourself up to bring her take-out!

Once you’ve made your offer, let her tell you “no.” She may not be ready to accept help. She may be clinging to as much normalcy as possible, for herself or for her kids. If she turns you down, tell her you’ll check in with her again in a few weeks to see if things have changed. Make a note to follow up later with another specific offer.

3. Let her know you’re with her for the long haul. 

After my diagnosis, I kept apologizing to my friends. The next several months would be difficult for them, and I hated that reality.

One of my friends finally sat me down and said: “Marissa, you say this is an assignment from the Lord. Well, He didn’t give this assignment only to you. He gave it to us as well.”

Because of her comment and many others, I knew my friends were with me for the long haul, no matter what. I didn’t have to worry that when the newness of my crisis wore off, they would move on.

You can love your friend through cancer by repeatedly letting her know you’re with her. Text her and say, “You’re not alone in this! I’m praying for you.” Let her know you’re by her side for as long as she needs you. Even if her treatment is brief, she will need emotional support as a survivor, too.

Your friend needs your compassionate support. Show her your concern by responding to her updates. Make specific offers and act on them if she accepts. And be a friend she can rely on for as long as it takes.

Marissa Henley headshotMore about Marissa: Marissa Henley, author of Loving Your Friend Through Cancer, is a follower of Christ, wife, mom, and cancer survivor who writes about faith, friendship, and cancer at www.marissahenley.com. Most days, you’ll find her drinking a latte while shuttling her three kids around in a minivan, wondering if the dog will ever learn to stay and if she’ll ever love cooking as much as her husband loves eating.


Best Books for Christmas 2015: Ideas for what to read or gift to others

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By Marci Tate, local mom and library media specialist at Vandergriff Elementary

It’s the holiday season, so that must mean it is time for something great to read!

Here are few suggestions for everyone on your list.

For the Kiddos:

Lego books are some of the most popular books in our elementary library. We can’t keep them on the shelf!

awesome ideas, legoThe latest Lego book to hit the shelves is called Awesome Ideas. It is filled with helpful building advice, builder secrets and showstoppers. This book has appeal for all ages. Colorful photos to discover new ideas and techniques for every builder make this a fun purchase.

A very popular series in our library is the I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis. The author takes the reader to big events in history and tells the story of a fictional elementary age kid surviving that event. She has done her research, so the stories have an authentic feel for the reader. It would be hard to say which one is the most popular in our library as all of them are constantly checked out. For someone just starting out with the series, try I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1916 or I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912. Recommended for 3rd grade and up.

Whether you have already read Harry Potter ten times, or are just picking it up for the first time, don’t miss Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone Illustrated Edition. Coming in at over 250 pages, it is not something light to carry around in a backpack. Instead, this is something to savor over with its beautifully illustrated pages. This is the complete book with illustrations added by award winning artist Jim Kay. I see this as a collectible to enjoy for many years to come. Be watching for each book to have its own illustrated edition in the future.

As always, one of the best ideas during the holiday season is to buy fun books to complement the interests of the child/tween/teen. For those who love to cook, try The Complete Children’s Cookbook from DK Publishers. For the Star Wars fans, try Star Wars Absolutely Everything You Need to Know by Adam Bray.

For the sports fans, try Sports Illustrated Kids the Top 10 of Everything in Sports.

For the Grown-Ups:

One of the most unusual books that I read this year was The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom. It is the journey of a man’s lifetime and all of the lives he touches along the way. Don’t give up on this one when you get started because it all comes together along the way. This is the kind of book that sticks with you and you will always remember that “everyone joins a band in this life”.

humans of NYFor the person who has everything, I would suggest Humans of New York: Stories by Brandon Stanton. For those not familiar with this author, he started an ambitious project in 2010 to take a “photographic census” of the citizens of New York. After it started, he began also adding interviews with his subjects. He now has over 12 million followers on social media. This book is a recap of some of the photographs with interviews. It is a fascinating book. (There is some adult language in a few of the interviews).

If you have a friend or family member who enjoys cooking, but doesn’t want anything too complicated, then try The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Dinnertime. This one is a bit different than her other cookbooks in that it features very easy fixes with some that you can make ahead. As always, she has great photographs of each step of the process for each recipe. While some of the recipes are fairly common, others will inspire to try something new – my family tried the Pawhuska Cheese Steak sandwiches and they were a hit (plus really easy to make with your own alterations).

For Everyone on your list:

One of the little daily pleasures in life is to open the mailbox and pull out a magazine (instead of those dreaded bills). For kids, it is a real treat to get something addressed just to them.

Magazine subscriptions make a great gift idea and it is a gift that continues to give all year. I like to buy the current issue and fix it up with a special note telling the recipient they can enjoy 12 (or whatever number) more issues for a full year. Pair it with something fun like a mug, cocoa, slippers or warm socks, or just slip it into the stocking.

catsterFor the younger readers try one of these: Sports Illustrated for Kids, Discovery Girls, American Girl, Boys Life. For the pet lover (or the young reader) try Dogster or Catster (formerly Dog Fancy and Cat Fancy).

For the men in your life, look for something that interests from sports to hunting to automobiles.

For the women in your life try one of these: HGTV Magazine, All You, More, AllRecipes. If you shop carefully, sometimes you can find a deal where you can bundle two magazines for the price of one (I recently saw a deal for House Beautiful and Country Living bundled together for one year subscription for the one price of $15).

Marci Tate of Fayetteville is a busy wife, mom of two boys, avid reader (when time allows) and Library Media Specialist at Vandergriff Elementary School.

Linked Kin: New book by Northwest Arkansas author

linked kinGet ready because we’re about to brag a little. One of our very own bloggers, the hilarious AND brilliant Jen Adair who writes the Slightly Tilted blog, has just published her first book! And if you’ve got kids who love computers like Jen’s kids do, you’re going to want to own a copy.

The book is called “Linked Kin: How to help your child start a tech business.” (We love, love, love the clever title.) And here’s the kid-version of the same book, a perfect read for your kids: “Bossy: Online Startups for Kids and Teens.”

Long before she wrote the book, Jen lived the book. As a homeschooling mom to two kids, she asked them what new project they wanted to do. When they answered “build an iPhone app,” Jen dove into an ocean of technology info and started figuring out how to make it happen.

The result? She and the kids built an app called Citiblox. You can download it in the App store. (We were so impressed with Jen’s app-building skills that we hired her to design and build the nwaMotherlode app!)

A few years later, Jen and her kids launched their own website called Ponder Monster. (Click here to check out Ponder Monster. It’s such a creative site full of fun info, and our kids love it. The fact that it was created BY kids and FOR kids makes it extra cool.) They also have their own YouTube channel and have designed decals sold at local stores.

If you’re wondering if this book is for you, we’ll let Jen answer that in a passage from the book’s introduction:

“This book will show you ways to encourage your child (and you!) to try new things, explore ideas, and create a business while they are young to earn their own money, further their education, and inspire creativity. Age is not really a factor — don’t let it limit you and certainly don’t let it limit your child! Amazing things can happen no matter your age or location. You just have to work at it.”

Jen is one of those rare people who not only understands complex technology but can also EXPLAIN it to the rest of us in a way that makes perfect sense. And the fact that she can deliver this type of material in a way that’s also funny and relevant to everyday mom life makes this a book that you will love.

The best part? This just might be the book that sparks something HUGE in the life of your child. Future Mark Zuckerberg? Future Steve Jobs? Anything is possible when parents nurture the creative spark that lives within each and every child.

Good news! Jen’s new book is available on Amazon right now for only 99 cents! Woo-hoo! We love a bargain. (Click here to see it.) But please know that this book is a bargain at any price. Jen has done all the technological heavy lifting for you so that, when you and your kid decide to create a new business, you’ll have the tools and know-how you need to get started. Happy reading!

What We’re Reading: 5 fantastic teen books headed to theatres

whatreading FPL

By Hotspur Closser, youth services librarian, FPL

It is nearly impossible to keep up with the flood of feature films based on young adult novels nowadays.

I’m convinced that the recent trend of turning teen literature into movies is no longer a trend at all and is officially here to stay, as Hollywood studios continue to see dollar signs in the mostly original (albeit occasionally derivative) world of YA fiction—a world that continues to produce bonafide blockbusters one after another.

Without further ado, here are five fantastic end-of-summer reads to get you ready for their upcoming feature film adaptations.  All five books are available for checkout at the Fayetteville Public Library.

THE 5th WAVE  by Rick Yancey

The first installment in a planned trilogy, Rick Yancey’s exciting sci-fi series kicks off shortly before the fifth and final wave of an alien invasion of Earth.  The first wave was a worldwide EMP (electromagnetic pulse) to take out our technology; the second wave was a literal wave in the form of a massive tsunami to destroy all of our coasts; the third wave was pestilence in the guise of a global virus similar to Ebola; and the fourth wave sends specially designated “silencers” (alien-infested humans) to pick off the remaining survivors while they await the as-yet unknown fifth wave.  Action-packed and chock-full of characters, this series should appeal to fans of post-apocalyptic survival stories (War of the Worlds, The Walking Dead, etc.), and you can bet audiences are going to eat these movies up.  The first film is slated for early 2016.

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NERVE  by Jeanne Ryan

Jeanne Ryan’s young adult debut is a fast-paced story set in the not-too-distant-future world of reality television.  Vee, the novel’s protagonist, is an introvert in high school who finds herself competing for prizes on “Nerve,” a kind-of reality game show that rewards its contestants for successfully completing humiliating dares which prey on their insecurities.  The premise isn’t nearly as far-fetched as most young adult speculative fiction, and much of the story’s subtext (themes of bullying, impact of social media, manipulation, social anxiety and insecurities) is highly relevant to today’s teens.  With an unscheduled release date in 2016, it will be interesting to see how Hollywood decides to treat this adaptation, as it’s likely to be closer to Easy A or Mean Girls than to The Running Man.

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This dark and strange story follows 16-year-old Jacob Portman as he copes with the mysterious death of his grandfather.  Believing his grandfather to have been killed by a monster, Jacob travels to a remote island in hopes of finding clues at Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an orphanage his grandfather used to tell him stories about that housed children with fantastical abilities.  One part Edward Gorey and two parts “Twilight Zone,” Ransom Riggs’ novel is both highly original and a well-written read.  The film adaptation is being directed by Tim Burton, cinematic master of the dark and strange, so the movie’s mood should be a good fit when it hits theaters in March of 2016.

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RED QUEEN  by Victoria Aveyard

Author Victoria Aveyard weaves a fantastical tale about a world inhabited by two classes of people—a ruling class of genetically superior beings with silver blood and superhuman abilities, and a lower class of powerless red-blooded plebians who live only to serve their silver-blooded masters.  When 17-year-old Mare finds out that she possesses both kinds of blood, the system finds itself shaken to its very core.  The first in a planned trilogy, Red Queen successfully covers the themes of class warfare and political intrigue which are present in so many dystopian teen stories like The Hunger Games and Divergent.  No release date has yet been set for the film.

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If you like your teen fiction to be realistic, gritty and intense, then this novel is for you.  Matthew Quick, who also authored The Silver Linings Playbook, tells the tale of Leonard Peacock, a troubled teen fighting figurative demons (both at home and in his own head) as he nears his 18th birthday.  Harboring a dark secret that he just cannot live with anymore, Leonard decides to make his 18th birthday one to remember–for others, not for himself–as he plots a murder/suicide.  Hollywood heartthrob Channing Tatum (he of Magic Mike fame) is currently slated to direct and possibly star in the film adaptation, but no release date has been set.

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All these books are available for checkout at the Fayetteville Public Library, our What We’re Reading sponsor on nwaMotherlode.

Click here to see more about the Fayetteville Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. Win prizes for doing what you love — reading!