Happy Esther Day!

Hi everybody! Happy Esther Day!

Esther Day Banner(I already said that in the title of the post, but I’m saying it again anyway. Also, I completely forgot I’d already scheduled a blog post to publish today, so that’s why there are two in one day. Oops.)

For those of you who don’t know, Esther Grace Earl was a Nerdfighter and a huge Harry Potter fan. She also became good friends with bestselling young adult author John Green, who dedicated his book The Fault in Our Stars to her. Esther greatly inspired the book, and while it is not her story, she is now a published author herself. She died of thyroid cancer on August 25, 2010, at the age of 16, but one of the many legacies she left behind is Esther Day.

Esther was a big fan of the Vlogbrothers, the YouTube duo of John Green and his brother, Hank. Before she died, John told Esther he and Hank wanted to celebrate her birthday (August 3rd) through Vlogbrothers videos as long as they were able. The videos on that day could be about whatever she wanted. Esther finally decided that she wanted those videos to celebrate love for family and friends–a Valentine’s Day for everything besides romantic love, when telling someone you love them might not be as easy.

So, in honor of Esther Day, here is a compilation of 7 books/series that feature strong love between family and friends, all of which were thoroughly enjoyable. 🙂

1. This Star Won’t Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl by Esther Earl, with Lori and Wayne Earl

Well. I suppose this was kind of obvious.

This Star Won’t Go Out was published just last year, and consists of excerpts from Esther’s journals, stories, and artwork. It also includes essays from her family and friends, and throughout the book, the love between Esther and those surrounding her is strikingly evident. It’s a testament to the power of love and family and friendship, and I strongly, strongly recommend you read it. Esther’s voice is intelligent and kind and completely her own, and it’s not something you want to miss out on. (Review here.)

2. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Okay, so this one might be ever so slightly obvious as well. Love is without a doubt one of the biggest parts of Harry Potter’s story, from the night Voldemort gave him that scar to the end of it all. Over the years, readers get to watch as he forges bonds with his friends, his teachers, and so many other people in his life. I think the Golden Trio has one of the most enduring friendships in literature, to be honest, and it’s certainly fun to read about.

3. Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace

Betsy and Tacy met when Tacy’s family moved onto Hill Street, and they’ve been nearly inseparable ever since. The book follows the pair as they embark on childhood adventures, including climbing the big hill by their houses and enduring the first day of school. I really enjoyed reading this when I was little, and I think I may have attempted to make some Betsy-and-Tacy-inspired paper dolls at some point. . .maybe. Either way, it’s a great story about friendship for younger readers, and maybe some older ones, too.

4. The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick

This series is so fun and addictive to read. Emma, Jess, Cassidy, and Megan are all very different, very unique girls. They would never all be in the same social circle at school. But then they all get roped into joining a mother-daughter book club, and stuff gets ever so slightly crazy. The girls’ friendship grows as the series moves forward, and I remember enjoying these so much when I first read them. A lot of the books focus on the girls’ bonds with each other and with their families, and they’re a definite recommendation. (Review here.)

5. The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley

This was one of my favorite book series when I was younger, and it still is. When Sabrina and Daphne Grimm’s parents are mysteriously kidnapped, they have to go live with their grandmother, a grandmother they had believed to be dead. And while they’re still reeling from this stunning change of circumstances, another bomb is dropped–they’re descended from the Brothers Grimm, whose fairytales are actually, um, true. They’re basically living in a town full of fairytale characters. A lot of the series focuses on the bond between the sisters as they deal with their new lives and attempt to find out what happened to their mother and father, leaning on each other and their new friends for support. There’s a lot of sisterly/familial love, and the series can really suck you in. And then there’s the witches. (Review here.)

6. The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine

The two princesses of Bamarre couldn’t be more different–Princess Addie is shy and afraid, while her sister Meryl is brave and harbors dreams of being the country’s heroine. But when illness strikes Meryl and endangers her life, Addie’s the one who has to embark on a quest to try and save her sister, before it’s too late. The book revolves around Addie and Meryl’s love for each other, and Gail Carson Levine could very well be one of the best fantasy writers around. It’s original and well-written, and I definitely recommend it. (Review here.)

7. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Code Name Verity is about a lot of things, but I think the most integral part of the book is the friendship between two young girls helping in the WWII effort. One of them has been captured by Nazis in France, and the book is partially told through her confessions to them. She tells them of how she met her best friend, Maddie, working her way through the story of their friendship to explain how she ended up where she is. “It’s like falling in love, discovering your best friend,” the narrator writes. It’s probably one of the most striking stories of friendship I’ve read in a while.

When Valentine’s Day rolls around every year, a lot of people say “I love you” to their spouses, their fiances/fiancees, and their girlfriends or boyfriends. But sometimes (or a lot of the time), saying it to your friends, or your family, isn’t nearly as easy. I think it’s become something that just isn’t done a lot of the time, for fear of awkwardness, or just because something’s holding people back. Esther Day is meant to counteract that–to encourage people to say “I love you” to the people who matter in their lives. Esther Earl lived her life with a lot of love and caring for those close to her, and I think Esther Day is a very fitting way to celebrate her, not to mention love itself.

So, happy Esther day! Thanks so much for reading and supporting this blog, and I hope you all have a lovely Sunday. 🙂 Don’t forget to be awesome!

TSWGO BannerBookish Quote of the Day: “Saying you love someone is a good thing.” –Esther Earl

P.S. If you’re curious, both banners were made with the website Pic Monkey, which is a pretty cool tool for editing photos, making designs, etc. I don’t think I managed to get the exact shade of Esther Green, but oh well.

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What Do You Say, Dear?

My friends and I read this I-don’t-know-how-many times in the media center at school.  And not just when we were little. “What Do You Say, Dear?” (penned by Sesyle Joslin, and illustrated by Maurice Sendak) is a great book that I will still like when I am 97.5 years old, and older. It’s hilarious, and at the same time it is teaching you something–manners! Well, I guess we all better learn them at some point, huh? Say you have just gotten married, and are looking forward to a nice long life with your true love. But first…you are starving. What do you say, dear? “Could you please pass the cake?” of course! This and more are just inside this little book, which is written with humor and imagination. Perhaps some parents would have a problem with the little bit about a cowboy, in which someone comes up to you with a gun and asks you if you would like them to shoot you in the head. (Obviously, you say “no, thank you”) But I don’t. Have a problem with it, I mean. Little kids run into violence in cartoons, movies, etc. This book is a winner. It’s a very fun way to teach kids manners! And I wouldn’t be surprised if a parent read it to themselves once or twice, just for the heck of it.

P.S. I don’t know if any of you have heard about this yet, but April 23, 2012 is World Book Night. This is an event in which people across the U.S.A. will each give away 20 books in their communities: In a mall, a park, or any number of other places! The idea is to encourage reading and, hopefully, make some new readers. (So you should probably not give books away in libraries or bookstores, or give them to people who are already holding them.) You can read more about this and sign up on the great website, and I hope you participate! I sure hope to.

B is for Betsy

B is for Betsy, by Carolyn Haywood, is a fun, carefree read that you can read to your child chapter-by-chapter at bedtime, or they can read it themselves. Betsy has spent the entire summer jumping out of bed and having fun. But now the summer is over, and school must begin. That means first grade. From what Betsy has heard from Old Ned, who works at her grandfather’s farm, school is going to be an absolute disaster! However, Betsy gets a surprise: School isn’t that bad after all, not when you have Miss Grey for a teacher and have friends like Ellen and Billy. The year turns out to be full of adventure, and perhaps a little mischief. B is for Betsy is a playful book that I enjoyed as a little girl, and I think other kids would as well. It’s a good way to get them interested in reading. So, next time you’re at the library, maybe you’ll take a look? Also, if you find you like it, there is Betsy and Billy, Back to School with Betsy, and Betsy and the Boys.

A Birthday For Frances

So, I was feeling kind of stupid the other day–just so happens I missed my own blog’s first birthday. <sheepish look> So anyway, to make up for that, I am doing a post about…a birthday book! And it’s a good one. A Birthday for Frances, written by Russel Hoban, is only one of the books telling the story of the young badger called Frances. A birthday is coming up, and everyone is preparing. The only thing is that it’s not Frances’s; it’s her little sister Gloria’s. Gloria is the one who took Frances’s pail and shovel and hid them, and she never got them back. Frances has decided that she won’t give Gloria a present, but then she realizes that everyone else is. When Mom gives her two allowances, Frances and her father go the store and get a present: Four balls of bubble gum, and a Chompo Bar. Chompo Bars have nougat, caramel, chocolate, and nuts in them. Frances wonders if Gloria can eat it all. She starts to have second thoughts. This book and the others about Frances and her family were read to me a lot when I was little, and believe me, they are good. The pictures done by Lillian Hoban add great character to the book, and the things Frances gets up to are perfectly amusing. I recommend this for little kids and the parents who read to them. Go check it out!

Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life

Are you the kind of person that likes diary books? You know, the hand written, little doodles, kind of books? Do you like tweens books? Well, then, you will like this! Rachel Renée Russell has delivered to us a hilarious, fun-filled book about Nikki Maxwell, who is just about to start going to a brand new school…and to make it worse, it’s MIDDLE SCHOOL. How will she survive? Things are looking pretty bleak, considering she is hardly ever noticed, has no friends, and when she is noticed, it’s by Mackenzie Hollister. Who, by the way, is nothing nothing short of a viper in lip gloss and designer clothing. And the absolute most popular girl in school. Yikes! What could be worse?! Then, finally, things start to look up a little. Nikki becomes friends with two book-loving girls named Chloe and Zoey, and she finds herself feeling very strongly about the school newspaper photographer, Brandon Roberts. And, hey, who knew the school had an avant-garde art competition? Nikki may be a total dork, but she’s also an artist. And no Mackenzie Hollister is going to stop her…right? This book is a tad dramatic, as in drama queen dramatic, but that does nothing to stop it from being great. It is laugh-out-loud funny, and I am dying to know how to draw those pictures. And it brings you right in, and soon you can’t get out! Tons of girls will like these books. Especially the dorks! You know, like me.

July 10, 2011: 4 posts only!

Outrageous Women of the Renaissance

Okay, here’s a thought provoking question for you: What do you think when you think nonfiction books? Do you think dusty old tombs no one wants to read? Do you think textbooks, like in school? Or just, “Gosh, BORING.” I’ll admit it, I never used to read nonfiction books. But I’ve recently started reading some, and realized that they can be pretty good. I mostly like reading about people (particularly women) that lived years before us, such as Sir Walter Raleigh or Eleanor of Aquitane. So no wonder I like this book, Outrageous Women of the Renaissance, by Vicki León. It has stories of women from all around the world, living during the unique times of the Renaissance. Some are ladies of high standing, some are even thieves and pirates, and all of them are interesting. There’s Isabella from Spain, Moll Frith of the British Isles, Joan of Arc from France, and tons more. This book teaches people about history and the way things were back then as well as the ladies. It’s fun, and there are also Outrageous Women of Ancient Times and Outrageous Women of the Middle Ages, plus more. This is a book for all ages, showing that the really good stories aren’t always fantasy.

July 3, 2011: 5 posts left!

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

Happy Easter, everyone! In the spirit of chocolate eggs and bunnies, I have the perfect book to review today. The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, written by Du Bose Heyward, is a wonderfully illustrated book containing a story that will make any little boy or girl very excited about this holiday. Little Cottontail wants nothing more than to be an Easter Bunny (of which there are actually five), but all the strong jackrabbits and wealthy white rabbits tell her it can never be so. Soon, this little country bunny grows up into an adult country bunny, and has many, many little cottontails to take care of. Their home is very happy, even if Mother Cottontail hasn’t fulfilled her dream of distributing Easter eggs to children all over the world. Then one of the current Easter Bunnies is too old to carry on! All are excited, hoping they will be the replacement. And aren’t they all surprised when Mother Cottontail is chosen! This whimsical, beautiful book is sure to please, and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as I did.