Granny Smith: A Tale of Stolen Apples, Roller Skates, And An Indestructible Granny

granny-smith1I’ve become quite a fan of Amazon’s Free App Of The Day.  Many days, the app will be something that I’m not interested in or that doesn’t seem that good.  Other days, though, a gem will pop up that I would have never considered buying but that I enjoy nonetheless.  Granny Smith is the latter.

The story is simple.  A thief has stolen Granny’s apples.  Granny straps on her roller skates, grabs her cane, and tries to get her apples back.  The good news is that the apples have gotten away from the thief.  The bad news is that the thief is trying to get the apples back too.

Every level has varying obstacles you need to jump over, swing across (using Granny’s cane), or burst through.  Yes, Granny appears to be indestructible.  If a house is in her way, she doesn’t go around it, she goes through it!  As a bonus, when the level is over, you can watch it again as if it were an old-time television show.


The game is quite enjoyable, but can be very difficult.  When you jump, you turn around and need to stop your motion in just the right position otherwise you’ll fall, lose coins you’ve collected, and (more importantly) can fall behind the thief who will grab the apples first.  Worse, if you time a jump or a swing wrong, you can land in a spot that you can’t get out of and be forced to run the level again.  Thankfully, you don’t need to actually collect any apples to proceed to the next level.  Just making it to the finish line qualifies you to move on.  You can also re-run any level you’ve completed at any time to either try to grab more apples or more coins.


NHL and JSL both liked the game, but JSL has found it very frustrating.  He’s persisted at it, but he frequently cries out when his Granny crashes yet again.  I have a feeling that it’s just too difficult a game for him, but as long as he’s willing to keep trying, I won’t dissuade him from it.

Granny Smith is available for $1.99 from the Amazon App Store as well as from Google Play.  There’s also a free version on Google Play (this one might contain ads or might not have the full game).

NOTE: I wasn’t asked to write this review by anyone and received no compensation.  I merely tried a game, liked it, and wanted to spread the word about it.

Room On The Broom DVD Review/Giveaway

wpid-room_on_the_broom.jpgI’m a sucker for stories with lessons.  I also love when books are turned into films, though I’m always wary when a short story is turned into a longer movie.  It’s easy to bog down the story with unnecessary details, completely ruining the tale.  Thankfully, Room On The Broom is exactly the opposite of this.

The book was fantastic.  A witch and her cat would keep losing items of hers.  Animals would kindly return them and ask to ride on her broom.  The witch would agree until the broom was so overloaded that it snapped in two.  Unfortunately, one animal – a dragon – was not so kindly and tried to eat the witch.  The animals had to work together to try to save their friend.

The movie follows the same plot, but you begin before the witch and cat even take off for the first time.  Instead, you get to see some of the cat’s life alone with the witch.  As each item is lost and found, the animal returning it gets fleshed out more.  The dog is eager – bounding around the witch and sniffing the broom.  The bird is green – while all other birds were black and excluded her.  The frog was clean – in stark contrast to the messy frogs surrounding him.

While the witch is glad to have more friends, the cat sees each new animal as a threat to its life with the witch.  It tries to deny them access, but the witch is too kindly and takes them all in.  The cat must learn that these “intruders” are actually friends and work with them when the witch’s life is in danger from a scary dragon.

I loved how the movie not only used plot elements from the book, but took minor illustration components and turned them into scenes.  For example, one picture in the book showed them flying over a crane, sheep, fish, and beaver.  In the movie, this turned into a series of scenes where these animals turn up as they search for the witch’s wand,  In addition, the added elements (such as the cat’s annoyance towards the new animals) made the story even better.  I would definitely recommend both the book and DVD to parents for both entertainment value and the lessons they can teach children.


One of my readers will win a copy of Room on the Broom on DVDTo enter, follow the steps in the Rafflecopter widget below.

Contest starts today, August 21st and ends at midnight on September 7th. You do not have to be a blogger to enter, but must leave a valid e-mail address for me to contact you for your mailing address once the giveaway is over. I will select the winner using Rafflecopter and contact you via e-mail. You will have 48 hours to claim the prize. If there is no response, another winner will be selected. Open to U.S. and Canadian residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received both the book and DVD version of Room on the Broom to facilitate this review/giveaway.  All opinions expressed above are my own.

Don’t Judge A (Mo Williems) Book By It’s Cover


Disclosure: B received some Mo Willems books courtesy of Disney Publishing Worldwide both to review and to help celebrate the Pigeon’s 10th birthday. No other compensation was received.  I wasn’t asked to do anything, but I liked this book so much (as well as the other books), that I decided to post a review as well.

A few weeks ago, we were given the opportunity to review a few Mo Williems books,  While B has her review live today, I thought I’d add in my own thoughts as well about A Big Guy Took My Ball!, by Mo Williems.

Our boys love the Elephant and Piggie series.  They quote them endlessly and love re-reading them over and over.  Now that JSL is learning how to read, he’s finding that he can read these books himself as well.  Nothing is a better confidence booster for him as he sharpens his reading skills than reading a book from beginning to end with little to no help.

I was first attracted to A Big Guy Took My Ball! because it seemed like an Elephant and Piggie tale about bullying.  After all, the story involves Piggie playing with a ball and some big guy taking it from him.

After we read the book, however, we found out that there’s a twist.  Not to give too much away, but it turns out that this book isn’t about a bullying situation at all.  Instead, it is about how people can rush to judge people based on the way they look and based on misunderstandings.

I loved how Mo Williems’ characters handled the situation once the misunderstanding was cleared up.  The characters realized what they did wrong and did all they could to make things better.  They even learned that many pre-conceived notions you have can be wildly wrong.  This serves as a great model for children who are learning to navigate tricky social waters and who might run into people who look or act different.  The world would be a better place if more people lived life following Elephant and Piggie’s examples.

A Big Guy Took My Ball! will be released on May 21st, 2013.  As of this writing, you can pre-order it on for $5.48.

A Tale of Computers and Wizards


A couple of weeks ago, I was reading Epbot, a blog run by Jen Yates of Cake Wrecks fame, when I saw her review of a book titled Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer.  I immediately knew this was a book I would have to read.

The author had put the first seven chapters online for free so I downloaded and read those.  Actually, read is the wrong word.  Devoured sounds better.  I was done with those quickly and purchased the Kindle version to read the rest.  The story sucked me in so much that I was done in just over 24 hours.

The tale begins with Martin Banks.  Martin’s a pretty average guy.  He has a boring, dead-end job, a drab apartment, and not much money in his bank account.  He’s also a computer enthusiast.  One night, while hacking into a server (not to cause mischief, but just to see what he can find), he stumbles across a strange text file.  The file is large and has a boring name, but something about it piques Martin’s interest.  He tries to download it and is surprised when it instantly opens.

Martin quickly realizes that this file describes people and objects in the real world.  Not only that, but he can make changes to the file.  If he changes his longitude and latitude in the file, he teleports to another location.  If he changes his height, he gets taller or shorter.  He can edit his bank account balance and his cell phone’s battery level.  He can even hover or travel to the past (but not to the future).

With all this power at his disposal, it is almost inevitable that Martin runs into trouble.  He’s forced to flee and, given that he could be pursued any WHERE, decides to escape to a WHEN.  Specifically, the middle ages.  After all, the power to change reality could be viewed as magic and he could become a wizard.

What follows is a riveting adventure filled with magic, geeky references, and time travel as Martin learns how to be a wizard.  I’d definitely recommend this book to any who loves computers, fantasy, science fiction, or just a really good story.  Off To Be The Wizard is available from in both paperback and Kindle versions.

Disclosure: I purchased Off To Be The Wizard myself to read.  I wanted to share a book that I loved and wasn’t compensated in any way for this review.

Addicted To MathDuko

mathdukoI have a new addiction and it is all GeekDad’s fault.  Last week, GeekDad posted about how math teachers are using KenKen as a educational tool.  Knowing that NHL loves math almost as much as I do (sometimes I think more than I do), I decided to try it out to see if it would be good for him.

I found an Android app called MathDuko.  MathDuko follows the same rules as KenKen so I figured it would be a good app to try.

Big mistake.  Now I’m hooked.

In many ways, KenKen and MathDuko follow the same rules as Sudoku.  In both, you must use the given numbers only once in each row and column.  However, whereas Sudoku has groups of 9 blocks (3×3) that must contain one of each number, MathDuko has a veritable jigsaw puzzle setup.

Each piece of the MathDuko puzzle has the result of a math equation and how it was obtained.  For example, in the image above, a three square piece says "12x".  This means that the three numbers, when multiplied together, total 12.  You are limited in numbers from one to the width/height of the board.  In this case, this means that the available numbers are one to seven.  In the example above, this means that the numbers in the "12x" piece could be 1, 3, 4 or 2, 3, 2.  (The puzzle spans multiple rows and columns.  MathDuko doesn’t have Sudoku’s one-number-per-block limit.  In addition, the numbers can be in any order.  In the "2-" puzzle block, the answer could be 5, 3 just as easily as it could be 3, 5.

So how does the app fare?  Amazingly well.  You can select puzzles from easy (4 squares by 4 squares) all the way up to "ultimate" (9 by 9).  A clock keeps track of how long your puzzle solving is taking.  (This is a feature that can be turned off for those who don’t wish to race the clock.)  You can also mark potential values as "maybe" to keep track of the many possibilities.  Of course, the price is also right: The app is free.

I’d definitely recommend the app to anyone with a love of math be they in elementary school or long since graduated from college.  I see much time spent figuring out MathDuko boards in my future.

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