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Joan Holub Review by Deborah Wuehler and Diane Wheeler

P.O. Box 46002
Seattle, WA 98146

Riddle-iculous Math

Riddle-iculous Math is just that! Doubtless the math book with the most fun in our house! Includes riddles, math problems, and jokes in a silly, rhyming, ridiculous way. My older children (ages eight, 10 and 12) loved solving the riddles and trying to guess the jokes like, "What is a math teacher's favorite dessert?" My younger ones (ages three and six) just loved hearing the rhymes and looking at the appealing illustrations. Here is an example of one of the riddles: "What's the number of states in the U.S.A. - minus the number of days in the month of May - minus the number of paws on a grizzly bear - minus the number of legs on the spider in your hair?" A good "addition" to the book is that the answers appear in red after every problem. Oh, by the way, a math teacher's favorite dessert is a - pie chart!

As a note of caution, one of the pages has Madame Crystal, Four-tune Teller. All the answers to the riddles are the number four, including the following impropriety, "Look out! A bird is going to poop on your (48 divided by 12) head! (forehead)." One of the pages also depicts a school lunch food-fight.

-- Product Review by: Deborah Wuehler, Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Doll Hospital

Joan Holub has written a series of books called Doll Hospital in which dolls are discovered from different periods in history and their life story is recounted. The books feature a grandmother, "Far Nana," who hears the dolls thoughts, tells their stories, and fixes dolls in her doll hospital with her two granddaughters, Rose and Lila. The girls live with their grandmother, because their parents are doctors who are living in Africa for a year. The narrative shifts between the girl's life in the present and the doll's life in the past and shows the triumphs and troubles each of them face. A super plus is that some editions have a paper doll included in the book, and Scholastic has a website where you can download the paper dolls and outfits freely.

Some notes of caution: bullies, name-calling and sulky attitudes emanate from their public school experience in #4 Saving Marissa where the girls have to go to daycare for one day. The book reveals their dislike and embarrassment for having to be with younger children, while certain boys at school were mean spirited. One instance shows Rose giving in to peer pressure by throwing away the special stuffed animal her parents gave her just to appease the mean boys. Also, the doll's owner in this story, Jill, had an older sister who made fun of her and disobeyed her mother, and whom Jill called a "meanie." Jill's mother was portrayed as cold-hearted. The doll was given to a little girl who colored on her and cut her hair and left her in the yard without another thought. Although there was a sweet ending with the doll being reunited with its mama, this story, as well as the others I reviewed in the series, had a little too much "public school mentality" and bad attitudes for my homeschool tastes. In #6, the girls were cross and held a grudge against their grandmother when they did not get their way. In #5 as I opened up to the very first chapter, Rose is partnered with a boy to make silhouettes of each other's heads. Here's what follows, "A second later, Rose heard more giggles. She looked to the left again. Now there was a shadow hand with a shadow finger picking her shadow nose." This was a difficult review to write, because the narrative is well done. However, if you are looking for pure "Little House on the Prairie" type girls, this is not the series for you. Conversely, if the things I've listed above don't bother you, this series is very engaging.

-- Product Review by: Deborah Wuehler, Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Yankee Doodle Riddles American History Fun

Yankee Doodle Riddles American History Fun is a delightfully fun filled hardback book with American history facts set to rhymes, riddles, and jokes galore. The kids and I learned a few historic details like, "Out of dishes? Oh, how awful! Scoop the ice cream in a waffle... Ice cream cone invented at the World's Fair in St. Louis, Missouri 1904."

The historic riddles were fun for my three oldest children (eight, 10, 12) to solve, like this one, "In 1804, we went west to explore - from the Missouri River to the Oregon shore. Who are we?" This is one fun book on American history that all the children will enjoy. And you'll enjoy asking them the riddles to see what they already know or don't know in American history. It's like giving a history quiz without them knowing they're taking a test! (answer to riddle: Lewis and Clark).

-- Product Review by: Deborah Wuehler, Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

The Pizza That We Made, The Garden That We Grew, Company's Coming, and Light the Candles

I am always on the search for fun books for my early readers, and Joan Holub is an author I am delighted to find. I have four of her books and they are a pleasure to include in our home library.

The Pizza That We Made is a Level 2 book, designed for readers age five to eight. Pizza making, and eating, are favorites at our house, so the topic is a guaranteed success. Gentle rhymes and hard working children fill each page of the book. My favorite page is "This is the mess that we clean away. We wipe. We sweep. We're done. Hooray!" Hooray is right! Illustrations are careful enough to include the parent on the pages that involve sharp knives and hot ovens. The final surprise is a recipe for dough and toppings on the last page of the book.

The Garden That We Grew is another Level 2 book. Gardening is also a favorite Wheeler Family pastime and a naturally interesting topic to young children. The garden is a pumpkin patch that yields lovely fruit at harvest time. The children are busy planting, weeding, measuring fruit, and lugging bounty to wheelbarrows, and then, they get to make pies and cookies and carve pumpkins into grinning faces. An inspiration for fall activities in our house, I am sure.

Company's Coming and Light the Candles are two Lift-the-Flap Books that provide teaching on Passover and Hanukkah, respectively. Designed for ages two to six, they are sturdy books that should survive even our enthusiastic young readers. We have participated in a Seder service with dear friends, so Company's Coming brought back special memories for our children. Setting out the special foods, asking the questions, traditional games, and awaiting Elijah - each page is festive and fun to read. Light the Candles is a day-by-day celebration of Hanukkah. Excellent teaching tool to explain this holiday to children. Family members of all ages are playing, cooking, singing, and story telling - warm and engaging examples of close family times.

To see more of what Joan Holub has written, visit her web-site at Her books are sure to see many hours on beds and couches in our home. For the beginning readers in your family, I recommend you lead them to the discovery of this engaging author.

-- Product Review by: Diane Wheeler, Senior Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine

Why Do Cats Meow?

Joan Holub has done it again with Why Do Cats Meow? As a life-long cat lover, I found this book to be a joy. There are plenty of adorable photos and lots of great information on kittens and cats. Not only do you learn why cats meow, but why they hiss, why they have tails, why they have whiskers, and why they scratch. Ms. Holub obviously knows cats well. In response to the question, "Why do cats go in and out so much?" the answer is, "Your cat thinks it owns your house and yard." Any cat owner has watched that truth in action every day!

At the end of the book, she has suggestions for toys that cats enjoy. We all loved looking at the different cat photographs and laughing at how funny cats can be. As an Easy-To-Read Book, this is a great choice for the young reader in your family.

Cat lovers one and all, come laugh and learn with Why Do Cats Meow? by Joan Holub. You are sure to learn something new!

-- Product Review by: Diane Wheeler, Senior Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine