Armchair Cybils – November 2014 Readings

Armchair Cybils, hosted by Amy at Hope is the Word,is underway. I am thoroughly enjoying participating this year and have found several books I would have normally overlooked or missed. Not only do I enjoy reading children’s literature, I happen to have a houseful of children to share with. I’ve tried to dabble across the board with the nominations so my selections have been from picture books to young adult books. Here is what I have read so far….

Fiction Picture Books::

  • Flashlight – Lizi Boyden
  • This is a Moose – Richard T. Morris
  • The Book With No Pictures – B. J.Novak
  • Telephone – Mac Barnett
  • Sparky – Jenny Offill
  • Shhh! We Have a Plan – Chris Haughton
  • Quest - Aaron Becker
  • Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine – Gloria Whelan
  • Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure – Anna Walker
  • Mix It Up! – Herve Tullet
  • Maple – Lori Nichols
  • Froodle - Antoinette Portis
  • Brimsby’s Hats – Andrew Prahin

I hope to get at least a few reviews posted but I do have a few quick thoughts. The Book With No Pictures wasn’t as fun as I expected it to be. The kiddos were not interested in reading it twice.  Telephone was loved and my two year old “reads” it on her own. It is a fun read! My six year old says that Brimsby’s Hats is her favorite and it is a delightful story. You should check it out. Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine is great for adding in a bit of fun history for your younger ones. I imagine a few older children might sneak in to listen. Maple is a simply sweet read. Sparky wasn’t engaging to my crowd. You must get Mix It Up! for your toddlers/ preschooler. Flashlight has illustrations that will have your children scanning every page. And more to come, I’m sure!

Middle Grade Fiction:

  • Hope is a Ferris Wheel – Robin Herrera
  • Nest – Esther Ehrlich
  • The Secret Hum of a Daisy – Tracy Holczer
  • Revolution – Deborah Wiles

Here is quick thought for this category: Read The Secret Hum of a Daisy. After I read it, my girls (15, 14, and 11) all read it and all loved it as well. Beautiful story and you just might cry. Then read Revolution (and Countdown by the same author) because it is excellent! Excellent!

Elementary/Middle Grade Speculative Fiction:

  • A Snicker of Magic – Natalie Lloyd

I actually read this earlier this year before I was even thinking of the Cybils Awards. If you haven’t read it, then do. Love this book and we had a blast reading it aloud together. Not only is if fun but it is full of discussion.

Young Adult Fiction:

  • Breakfast Served Anytime – Sarah Combs

Looking over the nominations in this category is a bit depressing. I have children who would be in the target audience and we are just shaking our heads over some of the book summaries. Breakfast Served Anytime was not what I expected. I pushed through and finished it. I am going to find a couple more selections from the Young Adult Fiction….perhaps the result will be better.

Family Game Night with Snake Oil – A Review

We love having family game nights. Big bowl of popcorn, a yummy drink, and a great game make for a fun game night. I am always on the look out for new games to add to our game stash. One of the most challenging aspects is finding a game that allows for several players. This is why I didn’t hesitate to review Snake Oil from Out of the Box Games. I’ll tell you now that it was a hit!

Out of the Box Games offers a wide selection of games. From fun party games to games that require strategy, there is bound to be a game that you will enjoy. One of the “party” games from Out of the Box is Snake Oil (Available for $19.99). As soon as I read a bit about this game, I hoped it would offer some hilarious game time.

Snake Oil may take your mind back to the Old West when those slick and sneaky salesman had a concoction that would be the miracle cure for all your ailments. No matter how skeptical you might be, that Snake Oil Salesman knew just how to seal the deal. In Snake Oil you get the chance to be that Snake Oil Salesman or the hard to sell Customer.

Basic Game Play:

There are two types of cards: Customer and Word Cards. Each player gets to draw six Word Cards. Each player gets the opportunity to be the Customer and the other players are the Snake Oil Salesmen. The round is over when everyone has a chance to be the Customer.

When it is your turn to be the Customer, you draw a Customer Card. Then the other players select two Word Cards to create the perfect item for you! Each player gives a sales pitch on his item. Once everyone has given their pitches, the Customer picks the one she felt was the best item for her. The player who has won over the most Customers wins the round! Easy but oh, so fun!

Snake Oil is recommended for ages 10 – Adult

and allows for 3 – 10 players.

Our youngest player was 8 and we had 7 players.

Our Experience with Snake Oil

As soon as Snake Oil arrived my family was ready to play! The rules of the game are very simple and straight-forward so we all jumped right into it with no problems. It might have taken about three minutes for the laughter to start.

How can you not laugh when someone is trying to convince the “Couch Potato” how much he needs the “Water Elephant”? Or a “Mouth Garden”?

It was really great to see how the children all had different approaches to selling their items. Improvement in sales skills comes quickly. A couple of the younger players weren’t quite sure how to make a convincing sales pitch but they are getting better with each round we play. I love seeing those brains working.

But Snake Oil offers much more than just a fun, family game night. When you are playing Snake Oil your children are engaging in a few different types of learning. In a round of Snake Oil, you need to think quickly and creatively. Imagination gets a workout as you have to decide why a soldier would really benefit from camera socks. That is after you imagine what camera socks would actually look like and be used for!

Your children will also get to learn much about sales and marketing. After playing Snake Oil, discussion on how real companies market and sale items from toothpaste to a new car is great. Those companies know who they are selling to and know how to spin their products to make the sale. Game play for Snake Oil is a more basic and fun version of this.

Final Thoughts on Snake Oil

One cautionary note for families with children on the younger side of the recommended age. As we played, we did use our discretion on pulling a few cards out of play. Word cards such as “desire” just to avoid an awkward match. We also passed on Customer Cards such as “vampire” and “zombie”.  Pulling these cards did not inhibit play at all! There are over 300 Word Cards and almost 30 Customer cards, there are still plenty of play.

This gets a double thumbs up from The Tribe!  We have enjoyed it immensely and it makes a great game for a large family. If you are looking for a new game for family game night or a gift for a family this holiday season, take a look at Snake Oil. But only if you like to laugh!

Other Crew Members have the opportunity to review Snake Oil or Snake Oil Party Potion. Check them out!

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Purposeful Design – A Review

Seven days. In seven days, God created light and darkness, water and sky, trees and grasses, animals and man. Amazing. Breathtaking. Awesome. Over the past weeks, Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation by Jay Schabacker from Purposeful Design (and the free Young Explorer’s Workbook Companion) has been a part of our Morning Basket. I initially was a bit hesitant about reviewing this book. Would it lead you back to Scripture? Would it be engaging?


Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation
At first glance, this book appears to be the perfect addition to your “coffee table book” selections. As you flip through the book, colorful pictures catch your eye. You can’t help but open up to the page and take a closer look. However, in 91 pages, this book shares much about an intelligent design; about a loving Creator.


The flow of the book is simple. In seven chapters, Mr. Schabacker takes the reader through the seven days of Creation. With a mixture of Scripture and scientific information, we see the week of Creation presented in a very clear, straightforward method.

As each day is covered, information about that aspect is gone into a bit more. Not at a great depth that turns this into a text book, but just enough information to give clarity to exactly what was created on that given day and to spark interest to learn more.

In Chapter 3 The Third Day – Creation of the Dry Land and Vegetation the author asks us to consider the common apple. He lists the benefits of this simple, common fruit. One little fruit that provides five health benefits. Purposeful design by a loving Creator.

In Chapter Six Creation Day Six – Creation of Land Creatures and Humans we meet the camel. The wonderful, funny looking animal with a hump. An animal created to survive and thrive in the desert thanks to that hump.
Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation also has Purposeful Design: Young Explorer’s Guide which is a child’s workbook that helps your child to understand and learn more about Creation. This workbook is free to download and can serve as a great resource.

The workbook shares more Scripture related to aspects of creation and the Creator. Questions are provided for comprehension and understanding. I would say that elementary aged students would benefit from using the workbook but a parent could definitely flex and adjust it as needed.

Purchasing Information
Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation is available for $18.95. The Young Explorers Workbook is a free download. Bulk pricing is available.

How I Used Purposeful Design
I am very selective at the books we use to aid in our study of Scripture. At times, I have encountered books that are presented in a way that your Bible isn’t even needed. I appreciated the scripture references throughout the book and how t guided you back to the Bible.

We used Purposeful Design during our morning time when I have everyone together. I would simply read a few pages aloud and then using the Young Explorers workbook, we had some discussion. Using the workbook as a discussion guide instead of a typical workbook was a better option for us. This allowed all of my children from pre-readers to high school students to share with each other. It was a very informal time but worked beautifully. Using this method I was able to share the days of Creation with my youngest ones while allowing my older ones to discuss deeper thoughts.

The Young Explorers Workbook could definitely be used independently depending on your child’s ability and learning style.

Final Thoughts
Purposeful Design: Understanding the Creation will be kept on the bookshelf for my children to enjoy at their leisure now. Would I have purchased this book on my own? Probably not but it has been a delightful surprise to me. It serves its purpose well.

I think it can be used in a number of ways:
Use as an introduction for further study for Bible or Science. Perhaps as a spine for unit studies.
Use in a co-op class.
Use in a Sunday school type setting.
Use as gift to someone showing interest in Creation.
Use as a “coffee table book” to enjoy.

As always other Crew members had the opportunity to use Purposeful Design. See how others shared about Creation in their homes.

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