Monday, May 12, 2014

Curious Critters - Review

My kids love animals. This is not so amazing despite the fact that we have no pets. With four kids in the house, my policy has always been 'Not one more living thing in my house'. I seriously just don't want to take care of anyone or anything else. But because of books like Curious Critters, my children have the opportunity to at least vicariously understand what different animals are like.

In the second of David Fitzsimmons' Critters series, animals shared with him what their favorite things are, how they like to travel and what hobbies they enjoy. It was really an interview series in my opinion. A Monarch Butterfly, a Nine-Banded Armadillo and Eastern Cottontails Bunnies all divulged secrets and fun facts that you'll have to read in the book. My children absolutely LOVED this book! It was as though the animals spoke directly to them, and what more could a child, especially three of them with vivid imaginations, want?

Sample pages for yourself right here.

More about the author, David Fitzsimmons.

Writing Curious Critters

Photograph of David FitzSimmons working on his Curious Critters picture book. David is seated at a table with proof copies of the book before him, a laptop, and various other book materials scattered all around him.Writing Curious Critters was a lot of fun! And it was the easiest thing I’ve ever done. You see, I didn’t really have to do a thing. The animals told me what to write.

I began all the portrait sessions making the Critters comfortable. I asked about their lives, light conversation: “What hobbies do you enjoy?” “Do you travel much?”  “What’s your favorite food?”

To tell you the truth, I frequently got the standard answers:
  • “My hobby is eating insects.” (Big Brown Bat)
  • “I hang around upside down by my tail” (Virginia Opossum)
  • “I mite [sic] like to travel, but I’m stuck inside this log.” (Red Flat Bark Beetle)
  • “I don’t get out much.” (Goldfish)
  • “Favorite food? Flies.” (American Toad, Gray Treefrog)
  • “Hummingbirds.” (American Bullfrog)
I have to say, however, the most interesting was my conversation with the Southern Flying Squirrel, who could never talk in complete sentences. In fact, he never sat still long enough to even finish a thought.

So, I took notes during the portrait session and then wrote out the text right afterward. Piece of cake! Right?

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** I received a copy of Curious Critters to facilitate this feature. **

Hard Candy Cases/Gumdrop Cases - Review

First off, I love the name. It’s cute and fun. So naturally  I said yes when Gum Drop Cases asked if I'd like to review a phone case. But what surprised me when it arrived was its durability. I've had a few different cases in the past, and the 'better' quality brand name silicone always stretches out, much to my dismay. Those cases usually come in a variety of fun colors and patterns, stamped with the 'name'. I was skeptical, but agreed to try this one. 

At first I thought the corner was loose as I fitted it onto myiPhone 5. It turns out that getting the case in place was a little tricky. I was kind of surprised that there isn't plastic to cover the rear-of-the-phone lens. However, it feels protective enough that I didn't mind letting my son walk around with the phone a little. I never, ever, I mean ever, allow my kids to play with my phone.

I had thought that I might have trouble getting the car adapter plugged into the earphone jack because of the rigid portion of the case, but that turned out not to be an issue.  It generally works easily, but sometimes it is difficult to hold back the rubber portion of the case so the jack can be inserted.

The hard plastic portion that covers the home button sometimes gets a little in the way when trying to tap the bottom of the screen, but the power button and volume buttons work easily.  To toggle the silent button my husband had to use his finger because his thumb is too wide to fit in the opening.  Just a little wider might be nice.


I do like that the case does not slide on surfaces where my old case slid.  Despite being "sticky" on various surfaces, the case still slides in and out of my jeans pockets easily.

The tabs that cover the openings kind of snap into place and stay nicely in there, and I like how the rubber portion of the case snaps into various spaces convincingly. I am concerned that the bottom of the case may interfere with the microphone when recording videos.  I'm not sure whether this is an actual issue or just worry.

Aesthetically speaking it bothers me that the opening of the clear plastic over speaker (next to the ear) is not symmetrical. I like the textured feeling of the case.  It stays nicely in my hand. I no longer have to worry about putting my phone in the same briefcase pocket as my keys. I used to worry about the phone getting all scratched up. It’s a good choice all around!

Both companies offer the latest iPad, iPhone and MacBook cases. They also have cases for Samsung, general tablets, and the Kindle Fire.

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** I received one Gum Drop iPhone5 case to facilitate this feature. **