Eclectic Closet Litblog, Book Reviews & Knitting Designs

A litblog dedicated to book reviews/recommendations, as well as literary and publishing news. Now enhanced with knitting designs.

BOOK REVIEW: In Arctic Waters by Laura Crawford


Written for the rhyme “This is the House that Jack Built,” In Arctic Waters grew out of a science unit on the Arctic. Laura Crawford was fascinated with the animals of the region and created this fascinating story for her grade two class. Like the original rhyme, children will be delighted by the rhythm of Crawford’s story:

“This is the seal, bouncing along
That teases the narwhal, big and strong…”

Ben Hodson’s illustrations are bright, engaging, and sure to delighted children. They will enjoy looking at the pictures as much as hearing the story. This quickly became a favourite for the three year old to whom I read it and he has now memorized parts of the rhyme.

In Arctic Waters is published by Sylvan Dell Publishing, a young company committed to creating picture books to excite children’s imagination. Each book contains a compelling story supplemented by a “3 – 5 page page ‘For Creative Minds’ section that includes fun facts, crafts, vocabulary and games…to support National Science and Math Standards.” Carefully vetted by experts in the field (scientists and educators) to ensure scientific accuracy, these volumes are sure to engage your child’s creative spirit.

Certainly I had no idea that a walrus’ age is calculated by counting the rings in their teeth, the same as is done with trees. The child I read In Arctic Waters to was delighted to find out that walruses use their whiskers to touch and feel; however he was most intrigued to find out that beluga whales shed their skin in the summer by rubbing on gravel.

Read the review at Armchair Interviews.

ISBN10: 0976882345
ISBN13: 9780976882343

32 Pages
Publisher: Sylvan Dell Publishing
Publication Date: February 2007

BOOK REVIEW: The Butterfly Workshop by Gioconda Belli


Odair, one of the Designers of All Things and grandson of the esteemed inventor of the rainbow, dreams of creating a cross an animal which flies like a bird and has the beauty of a flower. His dream; however, breaks the one strict line that all Designers of All Things must follow: they are not allowed to mix animals and plants.

Odair is blessed with an overactive imagination and continues to dream up new ways to combine the species, an activity which causes the Ancient Wise Woman to banish Odair and his friends to the insect laboratory. “The order of the cosmos is based on harmony, on rules that are perfect in their simplicity. So that you may learn that even the smallest things are designed with wisdom and that the laws of creation should not be taken lightly, we have decided to transfer you…”

Downcast at being transferred to a division where the designers are shy and the creatures ugly, Odair protests and it is only when the Ancient Wise Woman suggests that insects can be beautiful and fun, that things begin to turn around.

The Butterfly Workshop is a delightful tale about an artist trying to find his way in the world. Children will be fascinated by the whimsical nature of Wolf Erlbruch’s illustrations and the creation of many familiar animals. However, to dismiss Gioconda Belli’s tale as purely a story for children would be a mistake.

Contained within this slender volume is a study on the difference between motivation and obsession. Odair’s pursuit of breathtaking beauty pushes him into working longer and longer hours and further into solitude. His friends and superiors try to help him: “You must be careful, Odair.” The Ancient Wise Woman admonished him. “By trying to design something perfect you might end up creating monsters. Your obsession with making life more pleasant and beautiful might, if you’re not careful, result in pain and fear for the other creatures that inhabit Nature.”

Unfortunately, Odair is not satisfied, “I can’t rest until I design something that is as beautiful as the combination of a bird and a flower.” Belli uses this simple tale to show how today’s obsession with perfection and beauty can create evil. Hard work can bring rewards but can result in unexpected and unpleasant consequences.

Belli shows readers that the simplest lessons can be found if they open their eyes and slow down to see the beauty around them. Dreams should be treasured in balance with the rest of one’s life and as Odair’s friends say, “Never again will we laugh at other people’s dreams.” A lesson worth learning, by which everyone should live.

Gioconda Belli’s novel, The Inhabited Woman, was a worldwide bestseller. Belli was politically active from a young age, involved in the Nicaraguan Revolution and occupied important positions in both the Sandinista Party and the Nicaraguan Writer’s Union. In 1993 she resigned from the Sandinista Party and now divides her time between Nicaragua and Los Angeles. She is married to Charles Castaldi, translator of The Butterfly Workshop, and has four children. Her next novel, The Scroll of Seduction, is scheduled for publication by Rayo in September 2006.

Wolf Erlbruch, the author of over a twenty-five illustrated books, is the recipient of many international prizes. The Jury of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) recently named Erlbruch winner of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration, which will be awarded in September 2006 at IBBY’s congress in Beijing. Erlbruch currently lives in Wuppertal, where he is a professor of illustration at the University.

Illustrator: Wolf Erlbruch
Translated from Spanish by: Charles Castaldi

ISBN10: 1933372125
Publisher: Europa Editions
Publication Date: May 2006
Binding: Trade Paperback
Author Website:


Young Adult Book Reviews – Master List


In an effort to reduce the long list of reviews in my sidebar, I decided to create an entry of each of the category of books I review. That way I can update this entry and link to just this entry in the sidebar.

This is a list of the young adult books I’ve reviewed to date.

* Confessions of a Teen Nanny – Victoria Ashton

* The Unwritten Girl – James Bow

* Johnny Kellock Died Today – Hadley Dyer

* Incantation – Alice Hoffman

* Me, Dead Dad & Alcatraz – Chris Lynch

* Un Lun Dun – China Miéville

* Wintersmith – Terry Pratchett

* Flora Segunda: Being the Magickal Mishaps of a Girl of Spirit, Her Glass-Gazing Sidekick, Two Ominous Butlers (One Blue), a House with Eleven Thousand Rooms, and a Red Dog – Ysabeau S. Wilce

Children’s Books
* The Butterfly Workshop – Gioconda Belli

* In Arctic Waters – Laura Crawford

* Night’s Nice – Barbara and Ed Emberley

* Miss Bea’s Seaside – Louise Harding

* Imagine Harry – Kate Klise

* Balloons Balloons Balloons – Dee Lillegard

* Peek-a-Boo, I Love You – Sandra Magsamen

* Hondo & Fabian – Peter McCarty

* Sergio Makes a Splash! – Edel Rodriguez

* Dragon Dancing – Carole Lexa Schaefer

* What Time is it, Mr. Crocodile? – Judy Sierra

* Wangari’s Trees of Peace – Jeanette Winter

Newer Entries »

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Preference *
Email Format

Visit my Ravelry Shop

My Knitting Patterns

Audrey II

Angular Path Scarf

Cartouche Stole

Fossetta Cowl

Fossetta Hat

Sargaço Shawl

Whitman Hat

Every Which Way Cowl

Every Which Way Hat

Every Which Way Fingerless Mitts

Gothic Forest Scarf

Valencia Scarf

Branching Path Cowl

Flower Bell Stole

Whitman Cowl

New Tech Cowl

Vieux Carré Stole

Stacks Socks

Anna Perenna Shawlette

Taming of the Fox

Don't Ask Y

Cantilevering Leaves

Amplification Stole

Combs Cowl

Mindfulness Cowl

Tipsy Scarf

Gridwork Scarf
Ravelry Free Download