Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest post: My Big Bottom Blessing by Teasi Cannon

Today, I'm happy to share a guest post from Teasi Cannon, author of My Big Bottom Blessing (which I am reviewing and giving away here.)

Title: My Big Bottom Blessing: How Hating My Body Led to Loving My Life
Author: Teasi Cannon
Publisher: Worthy Publishing (May 8, 2012)

Thankful for a Big Rear by Teasi Cannon

One day not long ago I was sweeping my kitchen floor in the near trance-like state of La La Land, when I was jolted to my senses by the precious voice of my 4-year-old nephew saying, “Aunt Teasi, you have a vahwee (very) big butt.”
I set my broom aside, smoothed my shirt, and calmly turned to face him.  Bright-eyed and curly-haired, he stood – completely oblivious to the fact that he had said the words no woman ever wants to hear.  And then I let him have it.  I bent down, coming only inches away from his little round face, and said, “Why…thank you!”  Then I smiled big, stood to grab my broom, and returned unscathed to the task at hand. 
A few years ago those innocently spoken words would have completely obliterated me, and rather than a thank you, might have actually incited an immature come-back such as: “Oh, yeah?  Well, you’re short and you talk funny.”   
But now, to the glory of God, moments like that are reminders to me that the miraculous has happened: I no longer hate my body (especially my back side); in fact, it has become one of the biggest blessings in my life.
Like most women (really every woman I’ve ever met), I lived years literally disgusted with what I saw in the mirror.  The territory between my ears felt like nothing short of a war zone, with battles being fought everywhere: the bathroom, the grocery store, the bedroom, even church.  I could never silence the ambush-ready community of inner critics (those hurtful thoughts we all think) that called my head home.  And I missed out on so much: parties I refused to attend because my pants were too tight, dates with my husband because of a few gained pounds, quality time with my kids.  I know I’m not alone in this.
We women have been lied to for years.  We’ve been told that our value – our very right to be seen and celebrated - is determined by our waist-to-hip ratio or the proportions of our facial features, and that’s just not true.  Our value is determined by the only One who really knows it: our God. 
After hitting my head hard on the floor of my personal pit of despair, I slowly began my journey toward believing that.  One inch at a time of healing, truth, and righteous anger led me to a life-saving realization: All those years I was desperate to change how I looked, God was desperate to change how I see.  And He did.
Truth is, if God can make a prostitute the great grandmother of the Messiah, turn water into wine, and make blind men see; don’t you think He can turn a big bottom – or a big nose - or bird-thin legs – or whatever it is you hate – into a blessing.  He did it for me, and I’m so ridiculously happy about the journey that I wrote a book about it. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vacation Reads Giveaway: My Big Bottom Blessing by Teasi Cannon

I am co-hosting a giveaway hop with Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and SO happy to be helping out with this Vacation Reads Giveaway Hop!

When I think about a dream vacation, I imagine being on a beach and being able to read to my heart's content. (I'm not much of a water person, but I like looking at it!) However, I am terrified to think about being out in the sun in a bikini or swimsuit, especially with my post-baby, a little more squishy, and a lot more wobbly body. That's why reading My Big Bottom Blessing was such a blessing to me this summer because God thinks I'm beautiful just the way I am! Since summer is still underway, I am happy to be giving away a copy of this book to one lucky reader!

Title: My Big Bottom Blessing: How Hating My Body Led to Loving My Life
Author: Teasi Cannon
Publisher: Worthy Publishing (May 8, 2012)

Source: Received from publisher
Summary from Goodreads:
The media feeds us distorted images of beauty and what an "ideal woman" should look like. In My Big Bottom Blessing, author Teasi Cannon offers a way out of distorted body images and the pain of self-rejection. She says, "My obsession with fat and failure robbed me of a lot of the good in my life. I have been miraculously set free from the lie that being thin equals being beautiful." My Big Bottom Blessing offers Teasi's story and real-life solutions for the millions of young women who struggle with poor self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. Whatever it is that you despise most about yourself (it doesn't have to be weight) can become the catalyst for serious life change. Teasi's story proves that emotional pain can be healed, and real self-confidence found from knowing that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.

My Big Bottom Blessing is a joyful and wise guide to exchanging the limitations of a merely human body image for the liberty of knowing that we are made in the image of God.
Like I said earlier, I NEEDED this book this summer. Summertime means the temperature goes up and the clothes get smaller, which means that I need to show more skin if I want to stay cool and not be a sweaty mess all the time. I think one of the biggest things I wasn't expecting after having a baby was how much pregnancy, breastfeeding and being a new mom would change my body. I guess I was just hoping that it would go back to normal after some time, but I'm realizing that there will always be a soft pooch to my tummy because no matter how many crunches I do, it just ain't getting any tighter. Alongside all these changes has been the Enemy feeding me with endless, constant lies and frankly, I've been believing them.

What I loved about Cannon's book is that she told her story with truth and raw honesty. There was a section in the beginning about how she even dreaded going to family gatherings because she was the "fat cousin." This is one insecurity I have myself and it was so refreshing to see that I wasn't the only one who dreaded being the definitely-not-thin one at a big family reunion. Cannon spoke from the heart and poured our her soul onto these pages and I appreciate that because it made me realize that I am not alone. I am not the only one being pounded on daily by the lies full of hurtful words of the Enemy and my own insecurities. I enjoyed reading about all the different voices in her head because they sound a lot like the ones I have my own head.

I devoured this book in a day and couldn't put it down once I got started. I think the only thing that was lacking was more practical steps towards believing that I am God's beautiful creation. I'm a girl that likes specific how-to's or things to do. I am proud to say that after reading this book that I am more apt to combat the negative voices in my head and fight back with the truth- I AM BEAUTIFUL JUST THE WAY I AM. It's going to be a work in process, but I think I'm on the right track towards building my self-esteem.

If you have similar insecurities like me and want some relief from the daily battles about your self-image with the Enemy, you should definitely check out My Big Bottom Blessing.

4 out of 5 stars

 That must why I'm so trustworthy!!! ;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Book-to-Movie: Hugo

It's not very often that I enjoy a movie more or as much as the book, but in the case of Hugo, I think I have found one of those rare gems of a movie.

Hugo stays very true to the book is it based off of, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which I feature in my MMGM: Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday this past week. It truly feels like each of the pages of the book coming alive in front of your eyes. Many of the scenes feel almost exactly the same as the illustrations in the book except it's real life!

I wish wish wish I saw this in the theatre when it was out this past holiday season. The hubby and I don't get out very much with a toddler on our hands nowadays and with movie prices so expensive, we normally just wait until the DVD comes out and Redbox it. However, I am regretful that I didn't take the initiative to see Hugo in 3D because it would have been such a wonderful visually-appealing experience.

The characters were well cast and I think it was interesting to see Sasha Baron Cohen in a non-vulgar kind of role. 

I think it is such a honor that Martin Scorsese directed this movie because he gave this movie such life and character. Plus, I think it's pretty amazing that they got Scorsese to direct a children's movie. It's not every day that you get a legend in the film industry to direct a movie based off a children's book.

Hugo does not disappoint. It takes all the beautiful details that makes The Invention of Hugo Cabret great and takes it to a whole other level that you didn't think was even possible.

5 out of 5 stars!

Monday, July 16, 2012

MMGM: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Title: The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Author: Brian Selznick
Publisher: Scholastic (2007)

Source: Purchased from Scholastic Book Clubs
Summary from Goodreads:
Author-artist Selznick has 284 pencil drawings and actual photos (an old train engine falling from upper story to street below, Harold Lloyd in "Safety Lost" 1923, film stills), bases his story on facts. Automatons could draw pictures, write poems, and sign the maker's name, one by Maillardet neglected in a museum. George Méliès, 1861 magician turned film-maker, son of shoemaker-magnate, built his own camera Kinétographe, had 500+ successes, and was rediscovered in 1926 working at wife's Gare Montparness railroad station toy kiosk.

Fiction: orphan clock-winder 1931 Paris lad Hugo steals to eat and repair robot from father's notebook, until he meets Méliès' pretty god-daughter Isabelle accompanied by helpful film student Etienne (movie Professeur Tabard). An unusual blend of graphic novel and history lesson results.

Award-winning 2011 film expands book stills into color clips, stars Asa Butterfield, Ben Kingsley, and Chloë Grace Moretz, expanded gendarme Sacha Baron Cohen and dog for comic relief, directed by Martin Scorsese for his daughter 11.
I finally got my hands on this book after years of being curious about it this past fall because the movie was coming out and I fell head over heels in love with it. I inhaled it over the course of a night and just poured over ever single page because the illustrations are just so intricately and beautifully drawn! There are so many gorgeous little details and you can't help but just run your hands over the pages because everything looks so real! It is absolutely stunning.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a story told in mostly pictures with a few short paragraphs here and there. There are lots of inferring going on while reading this story and it was such a different, but incredibly enjoyable reading experience. The story itself is heartwarming and full of adventure.

My favorite illustrations were of the bookstore (of course). For those of you who don't know me very well, I am a tad bit obsessed with beautiful bookshelves. (Check out my "Bookshelf Monday" feature here and my beautiful bookshelves board on Pinterest.) I can't imagine how much time Selznick took to illustrate all the pages of this book because every page is chock-filled with details, right down to each spine of the books. I wanted to LIVE in this book.

In my opinion, being able to accurately draw the human body (especially the face) is one of the hardest things to do, but Selznick does it so effortlessly and it's a true ode to his talent as an artist. Even the details in the eyes are so expressive that you feel like you are looking into the character's soul.

Selznick is an amazing artist and writer. The Invention of Hugo Cabret is so deserving of the Caldecott Award. If you haven't had a chance to read this book, go get it NOW because you are seriously missing out!

The book has a wonderful movie-like feel to it with it's various angles and panning in and out of scenes. I was so happy that it was made into a movie. I will be posting a book-to-movie review later this week on the movie, Hugo.

5 out of 5 stars

About the Author: Brian Selznick
Hello there. My name is Brian Selznick and I’m the author and illustrator of The Invention of Hugo Cabret. I was born in 1966 in New Jersey. I have a sister who is a teacher, a brother who is a brain surgeon, and five nephews and one niece. I studied at The Rhode Island School of Design and after I graduated from college I worked at Eeyore’s Books for Children in New York City. I learned all about children’s books from my boss Steve Geck who is now an editor of children’s books at Greenwillow. While I was at Eeyore’s I also painted the windows for holidays and book events.

My first book, The Houdini Box, which I both wrote and illustrated, was published in 1991 while I was still working at the bookstore. Since then, I have illustrated many books for children, including Frindle by Andrew Clements, The Doll People by Ann Martin and Laura Godwin, Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Muñoz Ryan and The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley, which received a 2001 Caldecott Honor.

I have also written a few other books myself, including The Boy of a Thousand Faces, but The Invention of Hugo Cabret is by far the longest and most involved book I’ve ever worked on.

I live in Brooklyn, New York, and San Diego, California.

Author's website:

If you would like to find out more about Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday, you can check out Shannon Messenger's blog here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Review: A Gift for My Sister by Ann Pearlman

Title: A Gift for My Sister
Author: Ann Pearlman
Publisher: Atria Books (May 1, 2012)

Source: Received from publisher
Summary from Goodreads:
Ann Pearlman's The Christmas Cookie Club enthralled readers everywhere with a heartwarming and touching story about the power of female friendship. Now, in A Gift for My Sister, she once again explores the depth of the human heart, and this time it’s through the eyes of two sisters. Tara and Sky share a mother, but aside from that they seem to differ in almost every way. When a series of tragedies strikes, they must somehow come together in the face of heartbreak, dashed hopes, and demons of the past. The journey they embark on forces each woman to take a walk in the other’s shoes and examine what sisterhood really means to them. It’s a long road to understanding, and everyone who knows them hopes these two sisters can find a way back to each other.
I'm a sucker for books about sisterhood. Maybe it's because I have a younger sister of my own and I personally understand how unique our relationship can be. Even though I enjoyed reading A Gift for My Sister, it left me with a sad, sinking feeling that I couldn't seem to shake away all day after I finished the book.

I really enjoyed Pearlman's writing. She has an exceptional way of adding depth to her characters through flashbacks that are seamlessly embedded within the story in a way that builds upon a character without taking away from keeping track of the present. Tara and Sky are deeply flawed and so blinded to truth and reality because their perceptions of each other are muddled by past hurts, loss, rejection and self-preservation at the cost of never truly accepting the other for who they are.

This story took me way too far down with all the tragedies and didn't pick me back up in time. It really pushed the limit of how much sadness I could take in one book, for ONE character. Maybe because Tara has a 2-year old and so do I, I felt too much for her character and the loss in her life. I kept waiting for the story to turn, but I guess since the story takes place over such a short period of time, it might not be very realistic for the sisters to change so quickly. The turn came too late for me and didn't quite uplift me the way I was hoping it would.

However, Pearlman's writing was very engaging, so I am looking forward to reading some of her other books.

3 out of 5 stars

Monday, July 9, 2012

MMGM: So B. It by Sarah Weeks

Title: So B. It
Author: Sarah Weeks
Publisher: HarperTrophy (2004)

Source: Purchased from Scholastic Book Clubs
Summary from Goodreads:
Heidi lives an unconventional lifestyle with her mentally disabled mother and their doting neighbor, Bernadette. A mysterious word in her mother's vocabulary leads Heidi on a cross-country journey in search of the secrets of her past.
I didn't expect to fall in love with So B. It, but I did from my very first reading with my students back in 2006. Heidi's has a very atypical childhood because she takes care of her mother with a mental disability instead of being taken care of. Her mother only uses a very limited vocabulary of 23 words. All the words make sense except for one, "soof" and it is this very word that sends Heidi on a journey across the country in search for answers about who her mother is and ultimately, who she is.

One of my favorite characters is Heidi's reclusive neighbor, Bernadette, who has her own issues. She ends up being a kind of surrogate mother to Heidi and I appreciate her eagerness to help raise Heidi. It's hard to think about a kid who's in such difficult circumstances being all alone without any support. 

I loved that the chapters were each titled with one of the words that Heidi's mother knows, of course ending with "soof." You can't help but admire Heidi's tenacity and courage to find out the truth about her family and therefore herself. She ends up finding out much more than what she expected, but I think that happens very frequently when one decides to go soul-searching. I have a few other books by Sarah Weeks that I've been waiting to read, especially Pie.

I've had such rich discussions in lit. circles with my students over the years with this book and it pushes them to think deeper and ask some hard questions about life. I highly recommend it!

5 out of 5 stars

About the Author: Sarah Weeks
Sarah Weeks has been writing children’s books and songs for the past twenty years. She is a graduate of Hampshire College and NYU and recently became an adjunct faculty member in the prestigious Writing Program at the New School University, in New York City.

Her first YA novel, So B. It, which appeared on the LA Times bestseller list was chosen as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and received the 2004 Parent’s Choice Gold Award. In addition to being an author, Sarah is an accomplished singer/songwriter. She has written for television, stage and screen and a number of her picturebooks include songs which she both writes and sings for the accompanying CD’s. Sarah's titles have sold well over a million copies, including several foreign editions.

Sarah is a tireless promoter, visiting schools throughout the country, serving as author-in-residence and speaking to teachers and librarians at national conferences including IRA, ALA and NCTE. She lives in New York City with her two teenage sons.

Author's website:

If you would like to find out more about Marvelous Middle-Grade Mondays, you can check out Shannon Messenger's blog here.

Monday, July 2, 2012

MMGM: Everything on a Waffle by Polly Harvath

This is my very first Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday post! I'm excited to finally share some of my middle-grade reads with you. (It looks like my "Bookshelf Monday" feature might need to be moved to another day.) You can find out more about MMGM at Shannon Messenger's blog here.

Title: Everything on a Waffle
Author: Polly Harvath
Publisher: Sunburst (2004)

Source: Purchased from Scholastic Book Clubs
Summary from Goodreads:
A Newbery Honor Book By the author of "The Trolls," a National Book Award Finalist.

My name is Primrose Squarp. I am eleven years old. I have hair the color of carrots in apricot glaze (recipe to follow), skin fair and clear where it isn't freckled, and eyes like summer storms.

Readers will know right from the start that the narrator of" Everything on a Waffle" is going to tell her story straight and pull no punches. Primrose's parents have been lost at sea, but she believes without an iota of doubt that they are still alive, somewhere. She moves in with her Uncle Jack, but feels generally friendless. Her only real refuge is a local restaurant called The Girl on the Red Swing, where the owner, Miss Bowzer, serves everything on waffles -- except advice and good sense, which come free of charge and are always reliable.

Food in general plays an important role in Primrose's journey toward peace and understanding (a recipe dictated in her unmistakable voice is appended to each chapter), and readers will eagerly cheer her on through this funny, bittersweet novel.
Everything on a Waffle is one of my favorite middle grade reads. I didn't expect to fall in love with the way I did when I first read it several years ago. It is definitely a great read for both young kids and adults as well.

Polly Horvath has a way of making what could have been a really sad story into a very light, touching story about a girl who never gives up hope that her parents (who are lost at sea) are still alive. Primrose has to live with her Uncle, a reluctant caretaker and an awful one at that. A series of accidents happen to her that seem ridiculous at times considering what she has already gone through, but you root for her. Despite all odds, you hold onto the hope in Primrose's heart along with her and find yourself believing in what she believes in - that her parents are still alive. Horvath holds you all the way to the very end before giving any answers.

I loved Miss Bowzer's character and wish I could eat at her restaurant, "The Girl on the Red Swing." I do enjoy waffles and might be even brave enough to try something other than butter and maple syrup on then especially if they're made by Miss Bowzer! 

Food + books = wonderful recipe for an enjoyable read! I love that each chapter ends with a recipe that connects to something that happened in that chapter.

This is definitely one of my favorite books to share each year with my reading groups. The chapters are easy to read and I think this would make a wonderful read-aloud with lots of opportunities for rich discussions.

5 out of 5 stars

The great news is that a sequel is finally coming out from Random House Children's Books!

Title: Everything on a Waffle
Author: Polly Harvath
Publisher: Random House Children's Books (September 11, 2012)
Summary from Goodreads:
Readers rejoice--Primrose Squarp is back! The wise and curious heroine of the Newbery Honor Book Everything on a Waffle is facing another adventure-filled year in Coal Harbor. Even though her parents, once lost at sea, are home, there's a whole slew of problems and mysteries to keep Primrose--and eager fans--busy. There's Uncle Jack and Kate Bowzer, who may (or may not) be in love. There's Ked, a foster child who becomes Primrose's friend. And there's the new development on the outskirts of town that threatens the Coal Harbor Primrose knows and treasures. Prolific and brilliant Horvath has delivered a masterful sequel to a beloved novel, sure to please old fans and gain new ones.

About the Author: Polly Harvath
Polly Horvath grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She went to college at the Canadian College of Dance in Toronto, studying with the Royal Academy of Dance and later becoming an R.A.D. teacher.
After graduation, she lived in New York City and Montreal before settling  in Metchosin, British Columbia, with her husband, Arnie Keller, and their two daughters, Emily and Rebecca. They have a dog, Andrew, and a horse, Zayda. They live on a hilltop with an assortment of deer, rabbits, two ducks who visit their pond daily—and the occasional cougar and bear.

Polly Horvath has written many books for children that have won awards in both the United States and Canada including a Newbery Honor, National Book Award and The Vicky Metcalf award for her body of work. Her books have been picks of both Rosie O'Donnell and Oprah amd have been translated into over twenty five languages.

Did we mention an occasional bear?

Author's website:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Currently: July

A new post about what's going on with me in July.

To join in, check out Farley's blog here!
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