Flora & Ulysses




Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal)

By Kate DiCamillo

Illustrated by K.G. Campbell

240 Pages 

Ages 8+

What is it about?

Flora’s neighbor Tootie vacuumed up a squirrel accidentally in her backyard. Flora resuscitated the squirrel by breathing into his mouth. Flora named the squirrel Ulysses, and took Ulysses home to care for him.

Next, Flora realized that Ulysses could type and thought that Ulysses could be a superhero and showed him the story of Incandesto (a superhero in a comic book. Flora loves comics. She thinks she is a cynic.) She showed the squirrel to her mother, or at least she tried to because her Mummy was busy typing. Next, her neighbor Tootie came over and saw Ulysses and Flora’s Mum got scared because she thought Ulysses had rabies.

In the end, Flora’s Mummy apologized to Flora for trying to kill Ulysses.

Which was your fav part?

My fav part of the book was when Flora realized that Ulysses could type!

Why do you like the book?

Because it’s funny.

Mummy’s Comments

Sophie enjoyed Kate DiCamillo’s other book, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane (which won a Boston Globe – Horn Book Award) previously. So I was pretty excited to see that she had won the 2014 Newbery award for her latest book and immediately put a hold for it at the library.

I actually sat down to read the book on my own one quiet afternoon and Sophie joined in halfway (which meant I had to start from the beginning :)) and we read together silently. After spending the past few months reading aloud a series of classic books like The Trumpet of the Swan, The Secret Garden and now The Wind In The Willows, I find modern books and writers pale in comparison. I got bored halfway and wasn’t very impressed with the book at all.

Sophie on the other hand finished the book in one sitting. She really enjoyed the book and I can see why – a comic loving and slightly quirky main girl character Flora, an even geekier side kick boy character William that the main character has a crush on (Btw, I haven’t read middle school fiction for a while so these hints of romance took me by surprise! I really need to catch up with what Sophie is reading! Argh!), a squirrel that types poems (something that Soph has been doing recently! Typing her poems on our typewriter!) and flies, neurotic mum (hopefully she doesn’t identify with that!?!?) who tries to kill Ulysses the superhero squirrel and equally geeky dad who totally gets Flora. PLUS the superhero parts are in graphic novel form.

For me, I really cringed at the use of words like idiotic (twice! on the first page!), the use of different fonts on the pages (like Geromino Stilton!), and at how ridiculous it was for a squirrel to type poetry. At this point, I realize how much I am like the neurotic mum. Oops. It was hard to continue reading.

But I finally finished reading the book today and I must say it was quite enjoyable if you can look past the teenage romance, terrible use of fonts and the characters’ quirks and family dysfunction (Flora’s parents are divorced. Sad but a pretty accurate portrayal of modern family life), it grows on you and the ending was sweet.


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Pretty Polly


Pretty Polly by Dick King Smith

Ages 6 & above

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (October 18, 1994)

What is it about?

It’s about this girl who went to the pet store and saw a parrot. She wanted a talking pet so she asked her mummy if she could get it but she already had hamsters, dogs, bunnies and fish. So she couldn’t get the parrot. They owned a farm and they had hens. She wanted to train her hen to talk and she did it! Pretty Polly is the hen.

What is your fav part?

When she taught Pretty Polly to talk. She is really clever and she can say a lot of stuff.

What do you like the book?

Because Abigail is pretty clever to teach Polly to talk and she has lots of pets. And I love pets!

Mummy’s Comments

Here we are reviewing another one of Dick King Smith’s books! :) Sophie really enjoyed this one. It’s a really nice one for beginner readers who are starting to read better.

P/s Sorry that there isn’t a photo because we returned the book to the library before I could take a photo!


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Charlie Muffin’s Miracle Mouse



Charlie Muffin’s Miracle Mouse by Dick King-Smith

112 Pages, Ages 6 and above

Publisher: Yearling (Nov 14, 2000)

What is it about?

It is about this man. He is a mouse farmer. He met this girl who gave him an idea to make a green mouse. The girl’s name was Merry Day. So he got some ideas from the girl on how to make a green mouse. First they tried mixing blue and yellow and then they tried color feeding.  They made a green mouse! They named him Adam and they entered him into a show. He won the mouse show. The man’s name was Charlie Muffin. He proposed to Merry and they had a baby girl and her name was Cherry. It was very sweet.

Which was your fav part?

When they bred the green mouse!

Why did you like this book?

Because it’s very sweet.

Mummy’s Comments

We have read a couple of Dick King-Smith’s books like Lady Lollipop, Babe The Gallant Pig and Sophie is Seven and Sophie enjoyed them. Dick King-Smith also wrote The Water Horse which was made into a full length movie!

She generally likes books with animals that talk and farm life. So we decided to give this a try and she enjoyed it.

It’s a really easy to read chapter book. Great for kids that are just beginning to read chapter books on their own.



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Where The Mountain Meets The Moon



Where the Mountain Meets The Moon By Grace Lin

304 Pages, Ages 8 & Up

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company June 2009

What is it about?

It’s about this girl. Her name is Minli. She was very poor and she wanted to change her family’s fortune. So she went to the never ending mountain to do that. She left her house at night to find the mountain. In the end, she found it and on the way, she met lots of new friends.

Which is your fav part?

My favorite part of the book was when Minli could only ask one question to the old man of the moon. She had a lot of questions to ask him but she chose this question, “Why can’t her dragon friend fly?” and he answered that question instead of changing her family’s fortune. It was so nice of her to sacrifice her idea of changing her fortune to make her mummy happy and instead help her dragon friend to fly!

Why did you like this book?

Because it is touching and interesting.

Mummy’s Comments

Sophie enjoyed Grace Lin’s other books like Dumpling Days, The Ugly Vegetables (I loved this one!) previously so I thought she would enjoy this one too. Plus it was recommended on the A Mighty Girl website (which btw, is a wonderful website for ideas for books that inspire and empower girls and women!) and it won the Newbery Honor! So when I saw it at the library, I picked it up for her to read. Plus it’s Chinese New Year, a good time to read something related culturally right? :)

She liked it and finished it within two days! I haven’t read it myself but it should be a pretty good read. We love folk tales and this book mixes fantasy and folk tales and it has been said to be like a Chinese Wizard of Oz story.

We generally like Grace Lin’s books because she writes from her own experience about Chinese girls that immigrate to North America and their experiences which we can identify with.

Here’s a more thorough review of the book which I thought was pretty interesting by The Book Smugglers.

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Guest Review: A Wrinkle In Time


Julia reading a wrinkle in time

We are SO pleased to have our very first guest review by one of Sophie’s best friends here in Vancouver, Julia.

Julia is 9 and she enjoys reading (especially fantasy books) and making up fun games. She also loves playing outside in the snow and learning how to skate. During her free time, she also likes baking and making treats. Julia lives with her parents and siblings in Drayton, Ontario, Canada.

She has chosen to share with us her latest favorite read, a classic called A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle.

wrinkle in time pic

A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Pages: 198

Ages: 10 and above

Publisher: Laurel-Leaf, 1962

What is it about?

It is about the power of love and how Meg Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin save their father.

Which is your favorite part of the book?

The end when Meg saved Charles Wallace.

Why did you like the book?

I liked it because it was a story that had fantasy and talked about God and angels.

Grace, Her Mummy’s comments:

I have to be honest that I actually have not read the book myself yet.  This book was recommended to us by someone who works at Regent College’s book store.  We were trying to explore some good reading options for Julia who was very interested in fantasy storylines.  She loved reading this book and had a hard time putting it down.

Here is a description I took off Amazon about this book:

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

Thanks Julia for sharing with us on Read & Tell. We look forward to more from you!



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Sam And The Lucky Money



Sam and The Lucky Money by Karen Chinn, Cornelius Van Wright, Ying-Hwa Hu

32 Pages – Preschool & Up

Publisher: Lee & Low Books (August 1, 1997)

What is it about?

It is about this boy named Sam who accidentally bumped into a man. The man he bumped into was a beggar. He wasn’t wearing any shoes. It was Chinese New Year. Sam wanted to spend his “lucky” money or ang pow (red packet. In this story they called it “lei sees” in Cantonese). He had four dollars. He was going to spend it on a toy but he didn’t have enough to buy any toy. On the way back home, he met the man that he accidentally bumped into and decided to give him his lucky money to buy some socks.

Which was your favorite part of the book?

When Sam decided to give the lucky money to the man.

Why did you like the book?

Because it is a nice story and Sam shared with the beggar.

Mummy’s Comments

The lunar new year is round the corner! This is our fifth Chinese New Year away from home. We really miss home during this time of the year. We miss our family, friends, the loud music, the countless goodies, yummy food and of course the”lucky” money (which we call “Ang Pow” in our dialect or “Hong Bao” in Mandarin which are really red packets that the children receive with money in them during Chinese New Year).

We try our very best to replicate the festivities to help our children enjoy it the same way we did growing up. We spring clean, decorate the home, buy new clothes, pajamas, buy lots of good food and traditional goodies that we usually don’t splurge on during the year and invite our close friends who have been like family, to join us for a “reunion” dinner.

And of course, the kids get Ang Pows from their grandparents and us. This year, Sophie’s grandparents told her that they were going to give her a certain amount of money and she was really excited. She started to plan how she was going to use the money and we were chatting about it. She even said, “I think I’m going to give away part of it!” I was pretty surprised!

On that same day, we sat down to read “Sam and The Lucky Money”. We had borrowed it from the library but hadn’t read it yet. I think that further confirmed for Sophie that she is meant to give part of her money away to someone. I took the opportunity to share with her that sometimes God speaks to us through different ways and when we “hear” it twice, we have to sit up and listen. It was a great story to share about generosity. A wonderful one to read during Chinese New Year!

Wishing all of you a Blessed Lunar New Year!

Other Chinese New Year Books we enjoy


1. The Runaway Wok – a lovely story about a magical “Robin Hood” wok that “stole” from the richest family in the town who hoarded to give to the poor family who shared with everyone during Chinese New Year. Gorgeous illustrations.

2. Lucky New Year – We love this one because of all the flaps and manipulatives. A great one for ages 2-3. Beware of losing the broom that sweeps the “bad luck” away!

Suggested Activities

1. Video of the story

2. Some classroom activities related to the story 

3. Literature guides

4. Visit Chinatown in your city – Vancouver’s Chinatown is quite similar to what’s describe in this book which made it easy for Sophie to relate to

5. Make a Chinese Lantern video




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Elmer the Patchwork Elephant by David McKee

32 pages – Preschool

Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (September 18, 1989)

What is it about?

Elmer is an elephant. He is colorful. He rubbed himself with grape juice and became grey like the other elephants.

Why did you like the book?

Because there are elephants.

Mummy’s Comments

I’ve actually never read this book before prior to this although I’ve seen Elmer on merchandises before. I love how colorful he is! The storyline is so sweet – he wanted to fit in but the other elephants loved him for who he is even though he was colorful and different from them.

Even Sophie enjoyed the book. Her reflection was that sometimes she too tried to fit in by changing herself but she knows that she is special just the way she is.

A wonderful book that speaks to all ages (yes, even me :)). And you know that it’s a good book when everyone is a bit reluctant to return it to the library :)

Suggested Activities

1. We did this coloring page.


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International Children’s Digital Library


I just wanted to share this amazing find – The International Children’s Digital Library!

The thing about relocating periodically is that it’s so hard to find children’s books in our mother tongue (ok that said, Chinese books are easy to locate in Vancouver). However, I have friends of other nationalities that have expressed their difficulty in finding speciality books in their home language.

THIS! THIS! Is the answer. They have books in Tagalog, Japanese, Persian, Mongolian, Portuguese etc… But but disclaimer, I cannot vouch for the quality of the stories because… simply because… I can’t read them :)

Enjoy and let me know how it goes for you!

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Come Along Daisy



Come Along Daisy By Jane Simmons

32 pages – Preschool

Publisher: Scholastic Inc. (1997)

What is it about?

He run away. His mom called him and he didn’t come back. He was bouncing on the lily pads and he was chasing some dragonflies. Daisy is a duck.

Why did you like the book?


Mummy’s Comments

Lol, sorry. L was being cheeky when he said “Nothing” and I promise to not edit their comments and reviews and keep it as real and as 7 years old and 3 years old as possible :). But he really loves the book. Now, the story behind this book…

We inherited this book from past Regent students who left when we arrived two years ago. Levi was only 1 and so, it was one of the first books that he immediately took a liking to. It’s amazing how first books form the first memories of a child and those are the books that they would enjoy time and time again. That is why it’s so nice to own a couple of great picture books as soon as a new baby arrives but be prepared to read it over and over again :). Familiar books provide great comfort to a new baby. That’s why it makes sense to choose a great book if not you’ll be reading books like Baby’s First Words again and again. Heh. S’s fav baby book was “We Are Going on A Bear Hunt” by Michael Rosen. Rhymes and repetition are great.

Ok back to the story. Such a sweet book. Daisy is distracted by the things around her – any child can identify with that. Mama is constantly calling her to stay close – any child can identify with that (Ok and parent too :)). Warning: There is a scary/mysterious part (when Daisy gets lost and something was rustling that comes closer and closer…). But no worries, it’s just Mama and after that Daisy stayed close. :)

It was a great book to use to keep reminded L to stay close and not run too much ahead of me.

Updated: Here’s a video of Levi at 3 “reading” his fav book.

Suggested Activities

1. Watch this video of a little girl reading the book

2. Come Along Daisy activities and learning about ducks 





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Reading Bingo




A friend of mine who runs Telling Tales (a Facebook group for parents to share good English and Mandarin Literature) made this – a 2014 Reading Bingo Challenge FOR KIDS (inspired by Random House)!

Isn’t it so cool?

S was so excited that as soon as I printed it, she ticked off all the categories she has read over the past couple of days.

Try it and let us know how it goes for you? Feel free to share this with your friends, and to invite them to LIKE/JOIN Telling Tales!

Have an awesome year of reading!!!


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