Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Hallo-Weiner by Dav Pilkey

Poor Oscar. He is a Dachshund who is gets teased because of his low stature and long size. He gets calle "weiner dog" and he does not like it, not one bit.

His mom even gets in on the action, not teasing but definitely adds fuel to the fire. For Halloween she buys him a giant hot dog bun where he fits in the middle as the hot dog.

Oh, the teasing! Poor Oscar gets teased so much, and he can't walk as fast as his friends and misses out on all the candy.

In the end, Oscar manages to save the day...

What I Thought:
Such a cute book! Super fun illustrations and laugh out loud text. Dav Pilkey is the man behind Captain Underpants, so this book is bound to be a hit. A super fun read aloud, absolutely perfect for this Halloween season.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Hallo-Weiner by Dav Pilkey.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly by Alan Madison, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

This is the lovely story of Velma Gratch, the last of the Gratch girls to enter first grade. Each of her sisters made their mark at the school and Velma wants so badly to follow in their footsteps and then also create her own name. She finds a way to make herself standout by loving butterflies and when one lands on her finger and won’t leave when her class is visiting a butterfly conservatory.

This book is full of colorful illustrations that will draw in the reader.

What I Thought:
Such a sweet story that any younger sibling will relate too. All Velma wants is to find her niche, that one thing that will make her stand out from her older sisters. When she goes to the butterfly conservatory, she gets just that experience.

I absolutely adore the illustrations. Be sure to check out an especially awesome double page spread in the middle of the book. You can't help but to grin when you see it!

This book also has some great opportunities to sneak in a science lesson about butterflies, caterpillars and metamorphosis.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Velma Gratch & the Way Cool Butterfly by Alan Madison, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Spiders by Nic Bishop

This is an amazing information picture book about...spiders! It has anything and everything one could want to know about spiders including size, physical parts, hunting and feeding, web spinning, molting, life span, its predators, ways it protects itself, mating habits, procreation, and spiderlings. Bishop highlights an important sentence on each page through larger font and color. An index of topics, spiders, and photographs is included, as well as a glossary or terms.

But what is more than the words in this book are the astonishing photographs. They show extreme details of the spiders-fur, eyes, eggs, spiderlings, mating habits, webs, and more! Many of the photos show some very interesting perspective. Pictures are the main attraction of each page, but the text is placed over a colored block or the picture itself. Each illustration has a caption that identifies the type of spider and what it is doing. An impressive double foldout shows a jumping spider in various stages of leaping. Bishop includes summary of how he found the spiders and photographed them for this book.

What I Thought:
I’m not such a fan of spiders, but this book was mesmerizing. The pictures drew me into the work; I loved exploring each photo to see the difference in each spider. I would imagine this book would be a huge a hit with any kid who likes to read about spiders, they will be attracted to the pictures then fascinated by the text. The photos definitely make this book.

This book was a 2008 Robert F. Sibert Honor Book, a 2008 ALA Notable book, along with other awards.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Spiders by Nic Bishop.

(And if you like this one, be sure to check out Frogs (available now) and Butterflies and Moths (to be released Spring 2009).

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

As promised, here is a review of The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Arnold Spirit (Junior) is a fourteen-year-old oddball living on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Washington State. He was born with hydrocephalus thus leaving him with some physical attributes that are different from everyone else…leaving him a prime target for teasing. His family is very poor, which not uncommon on the “rez.” Everyone is poor on the reservation. Alcoholism is rampant as well, making the rez a very violent place as tempers often flare and fistfights are very common.

When Arnold decides to transfer schools –off the reservation—he is faced with not only fitting into a new school where Indians are not revered, but he is also seen as a traitor to his Indian friends. Slowly, Arnold finds a group of friends and his niche – basketball.

Arnold learns to balance his Indian life along with his “white” life, and comes to term with himself in the process. Arnold tells his story through a touching narrative and lighthearted cartoons as he provides an insightful peek inside life as a reservation Indian.

What I Thought:
I simply adore this book! Especially since I had the opportunity to hear the author speak recently at the Southern Festival of Books, and he signed my copy.

I think this is an excellent book for all teens. Junior is such a great character and Alexie writes the teenage experience so well it is scary. (But this book is semi-autobiographical, so maybe it isn't so scary after all.)

I HIGHLY recommend this book to all.

This book is the recipient of a number of awards including the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature and 2008 Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature in Fiction .

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

In this book, Thaler and Koval give example after example of how simply being nice can provide numerous benefits. While most of the examples were based around the business world, it is very applicable in other settings. The authors show time and time again how simply showing consideration and kindness to others will provide rewards in ways that one never expects-from landing business accounts to getting that perfect job!

Each chapter ends with exercises to increase your "niceness" entitled "Nice Cubes."

What I Thought:While this book was for a class project, I enjoyed it very much! I think the principles were great and applicable for everyone, no matter the career track. Couldn't the world use a little more nice? I sure think so!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I will spare you the details of how long it took me to find a copy of this much anticipated book. Ahem.

(I mean really. John Green is one of the best authors out there so I don't understand how bookstores wouldn't have his book out with much fanfare.)

I will only share my excitement that I finally found Paper Towns by John Green. I've already started and it's is so good! It is so good that I am putting aside the homework I really should be doing to continue reading.

I'll post a review soon after I finish, though I really think you should just order a copy and read it for yourself. Check it out here: Paper Towns by John Green.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes

This is a story about Martha, a twelve year old girl who is experiencing a summer of self discovery. Her summer begins with the sad news when Martha learns that one of her classmates was killed in a bicycle accident. Even more, Olive mentioned Martha in her journal and Olive's mother brings that page to give to Martha. This is an action that touches Martha to the core.

Martha's family travels to her grandmother's (Godbee) house for the summer, a lovely little house on the seashore. During this summer, Martha will discover the excitement and heartache of love, and contemplates the reality of death.

What I Thought:
Such a sweet book! While Martha and Olive were not close friends, Martha is saddened by her passing all the same. This book explores Martha's thoughts of how she wants to live her life to the fullest while honoring Olive for the life she lived.

This is a highly challenged book, number 62 on the Top 100 Challenged Books during 2000-2007. This is probably because of the idea of Olive's death (which is not described in great detail or happens during the book, the accident has already happened when the book begins), a cruel and embarrassing joke, and a near death experience. However, I think that it is a superb book and the contents of the book are appropriate for most children. The positives of this story very much outweigh the negative.

This book is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards including being a Newbery Honor Book, ALA Notable Children's Book, and an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Good Times at the Southern Festival of Books (and NEW BOOK DAY!)

Today my mom and I headed to the Southern Festival of Books at the War Memorial Plaza in Nashville. I have been looking forward to this event for some time now, and was seriously pumped the day was here!

I was looking forward to listening to a few authors in particular: Sherman Alexie, Patricia and Frederick McKissack, and Gloria Jean Pinkney. I was not disappointed in any of their presentations.

The first session we attended was entitled "Two Award-Winning Picture Book Authors Present Their Latest Works : Gloria Jean Pinkney, Patricia McKissack." Basically, these two incredible authors discussed their writings and other fun facts, such as the book business, their backgrounds and their writing process. Mrs. Pinkney even sang a little! It was incredible.

We stopped by the book sale table and picked up some books and both ladies personalized and signed the copies. These books are now treasured additions to my library!

The second session we attended was entitled "Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out: Mary Brigid Barrett, Patricia McKissack, Fredrick McKissack, Lynda Johnson Robb." This book is a collection of works from 108 different children's authors and illustrators around the theme of the US White House throughout history. Each president that resided in the White House is represented in the book, along with an abundance of White House facts. The four contributors that were present read their submission to the book as well as some other parts as well.

I had purchased this book earlier in the day and each of the contributors present signed my copy on the page their story was located. What is especially special about this book is a project of the National Children's Book and Literary Alliance, a not-for-profit literacy organization created in 1997 by award-winning children's book authors and illustrators. The talent that participated in the book will forgo all royalties and that money will go back into the coalition for future endeavors. (Which is reason enough to go get a copy now, not to mention how utterly awesome this book is!)

Finally, we attended the session entitled "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian : Sherman Alexie" where Alexie shared this book. This was the event I had been looking most forward to as I had read this book over the summer and absolutely adored it! (My mom is even reading the book now as I type!)

Alexie was absolutely hilarious as he shared his experiences and the audience seemed to be enthralled the entire time he spoke. I had my books signed, which was totally awesome.

So, overall it was an amazing day. There was so much to see, so much to do! We only saw a small percentage of the authors who were sharing, but felt like we saw the ones that mattered most to us. I cannot wait to go next year!

My loot of the day:
Daniel and the Lord of the Lions by Gloria Jean Pinkney, illustrated by Robert Casilla. (Signed by the author!)
Goin' Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. (Signed by the author!)
Our White House: Looking in Looking Out by various authors and illustrators. (Signed by four contributors!)
Flight by Sherman Alexie. (Signed by the author!)

We also got various bookmarks, postcards, and other fun things!

This is my copy of The Absolute True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, now signed by the author.

Hopefully, book reviews will be posted in the near future for books shown here today!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Where You Will Find Me This Weekend...

I think you should join me!

Find out more about the Southern Festival of Books here and check out the authors that will be visiting here.

Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Melanie Watt

An overly neurotic squirrel is desperate for a friend, but is very worried about leaving his safe home because of all the things that could potentially bite. (You know...walruses, bunnies, godzilla...)

So Scaredy devises a fail proof plan to meet his new potential friend, a goldfish across the yard from his tree home. He didn't plan for what happens next...

What I Thought:
This book is laugh out loud funny. The cartoon illustrations are inviting with bright colors and play an integral part of the story. Watt does an amazing job using the text and the illustrations do draw the reader into the story using diagrams, maps, and lists.

I think this is an excellent book for sharing, would be a great read aloud for older groups, and a perfect book for one-on-one sharing for all ages.

I can't wait to check out the other books about Scaredy Squirrel: Scaredy Squirrel, and Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Melanie Watt.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

The beginning of this book says it all:

It’s morning. Soft gray light slips over the tall redbrick wall. It stretches across the exercise yard and reaches through the high, barred windows. In a cell on the ground floor, the light shifts dark shapes into a small stool, a scrawny table, and a bed made of wooden boards with no mattress or blanket. ON that bed, a thin, huddled figure, Helmuth, a boy of seventeen, lies awake. Shivering. Trembling.

It’s a Tuesday.

The executioner works on Tuesdays.
(page 3)

In this fascination book of life in a Nazi prison and flashbacks of Helmuth’s life, readers discover first hand what it is like to grow up in Germany during the time of Hitler, Nazis, and WWII.

What I Thought:
I picked up this book for two reasons:

1. I really enjoy historical fiction and memoirs about the WWII and Holocaust. This is because when I was in the sixth grade, we read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. This book remains one of my all time favorite books of all time!

2. The cover and back cover (which has what is in the summary above) are absolutely gripping and I knew it was a book I couldn't’t pass up!

This book is actually quite different than any book I’ve read before in this particular subject matter. It is sad and maybe a little predictable, but just the same it gives a new perspective to an important time in our world’s history.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti.

Friday, October 03, 2008

New Book Day! (again!!)

I can't NOT go into a store that sells books and NOT buy one. Seriously.

So when hubs and I went on a date tonight and we stopped by Books-A-Million, I had to purchase something.

As I was browsing through the Teen section, I suddenly knew what book I just had to have.

Okay, I'm so bad. I just can't help myself. It's a problem.

Next week is the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN and I am so there. It's been on my calendar for months, and the event is just about here!

The author of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is Sherman Alexie, who JUST SO HAPPENS to be one of the featured authors at the Southern Festival of Books. I'm looking to get bad boy signed!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

DOUBLE New Book Day!

Wow! What a great day! I got TWO books in the mail today: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks and Thump, Quack, Moo: Whacky Adventure by Doreen Cronin.

I cannot WAIT to tear into these bad boys!