Saturday, November 29, 2008

Roscoe Riley Rules #3: Don't Swap Your Sweater for a Dog by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Brian Biggs

What has Roscoe done to put him in time-out this time?

It all started with a trophy. Not his trophy, but his sister's trophy that she got in preschool. Roscoe had never won a trophy and wanted one very badly. When he meets his new neighbor Martin and dog Edward who can read from a book, Roscoe knows that he could win a trophy at the upcoming dog talent show.

First, he tries to teach his dog Goofy to read. But when that doesn't work out so well, he makes a deal with Martin: he will trade the sweater his grandmother made him for the opportunity to borrow Edward and perform the trick at the dog show.

But what Roscoe doesn't expect is how the whole experiences makes him feel like he is neglecting his own great dog.

What I Thought:
Another great book in the Roscoe series. This book reminds us to appreciate what we have, even if sometimes it may not seem as special as what someone else has. Roscoe is just a delightful character! I am looking forward to reading the fourth installment in this series, Roscoe Riley Rules #4: Never Swim in Applesauce.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Roscoe Riley Rules #3: Don't Swap Your Sweater for a Dog by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Brian Biggs.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Over the River: A Turkey's Tale,based on the song by Lydia Maria Child, illustrated by Derek Anderson

In this fun book, Derek Anderson illustrates the story of a turkey family off to visit the grandparents house, to the text of the song "Over the River and Through the Woods" by Lydia Maria Child. While the text tells a story in itself, the illustrations provide a completely different version while offering much life and humor into the overall story.

What I Thought:
In honor of Thanksgiving, what could be better than a fun Turkey Day Book?

This book is absolutely adorable. It is nearly impossible to read this book (aloud or silently) without singing the song! It is great fun to follow the turkey's journey to their grandma's house and watch them overcome all of the obstacles they face. (It's hard being a turkey on Thanksgiving Day!) The illustrations are bold and colorful cartoons, with wonderful facial expressions.

I highly recommend this book, especially today, on Thanksgiving!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Over the River: A Turkey's Tale,based on the song by Lydia Maria Child, illustrated by Derek Anderson

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Movie Review: Twilight

So I just got home from watching this movie:

What did I think?


I thought it was okay. I'm very much one who likes the movie to match the book and the "movie" that my imagination creates as I read the story. I understand that the book is very long and the movie would be ridiculous to sit through if they played out every detail, but that is what I wanted. (So there.)

Being that I had already (recently) read (well, listened mostly) to the first book, it was still very fresh on my mind. I wonder if the story made sense to those who had not read the book prior to watching the movie? (If this is you, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know!)

A lot was left out that I thought was so good in the book and important to the story, and some things were added that were unnecessary.

Parts of the movie were incredibly cheesy. ("Climb on spidermonkey?" REALLY??) I laughed out loud when Bella dropped the apple and Edward caught it (after it bounced off his shoe!) in the perfect pose of the book's cover. I thought some of the dialogue was lame.

I thought Robert Pattinson was good, I imagined Edward a little (but not much) more animated than he was portrayed. And I thought his hair was just horrible. Seriously bad. (And he is very, very good looking!) I thought Kristen Stewart did a great job portraying Bella, she was just like I imagined. Maybe a little more klutzy, but pretty spot on. (She is very pretty and I so want her hair.)

Some of the scenery is absolutely amazing and seeing Edward's speed come to life was pretty cool. The romance is there, I couldn't help but get lost a little in that "awwww, how sweet and I'm jealous" mind frame. (But my husband is WAY better than Edward Cullen!)

Overall, I recommend it to anyone who thinks they want to see it. However, if you REALLY want the story, you need to read the book. (It is WAY better!) You can check out my review of that here.

Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody by Michael Rex

In this parody of the beloved children's book Good Night Moon by Margaret Wise Brown, a little werewolf is ready for bed when a goon sneaks into his room and causes all kinds of mischief with the creatures that live in his room.

What I Thought:
This is a very fun and quite creative book! I love how the author stayed so closely aligned with the "original" book, yet made it unique just the same. The illustrations are dark (fitting with the style of the book), but fun and bright at the same time. Readers will laugh at the goon and the antics he does and sympathize with the poor werewolf who must banish him to his sleeping quarters, under his bed.

The book is full of recognizable characters, from a vampire and a witch, even bats and martians!

This book is sure to please kids desires for a "scary" book, yet it is not scary enough to cause nightmares. (Well, unless a child is super sensitive to these types of characters.) I think most kids who are familiar with Goodnight Moon will find this version humorous!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody by Michael Rex.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Roscoe Riley Rules #2: Never Swipe a Bully's Bear By Katherine Applegate

Poor Roscoe. He's back in time-out.

Roscoe takes his beloved Hamilton (his stuffed pig) to school with him every day, and only a few people know about it. Hamilton hangs out in Roscoe's backpack while Roscoe does his schoolwork.

But one day Wyatt, the class bully discovers Hamilton and teases Roscoe. When Hamilton comes up missing, Wyatt is one of Roscoe's suspects.

So Roscoe swipes Wyatt's stuffed bear. (Which Wyatt also brings to school daily.) But did Wyatt really take Hamilton?

What I Thought:
I love Roscoe Riley. This is the second book in this series. Each book begins with the premise that Roscoe is sitting in time-out and the reader learns the story of what offense was committed for him to be there.

This story is funny, while teaches a few good lessons! We learn to never take other people's property, that teasing hurts feelings, and what happens sometimes when we jump to conclusions.

I think this is a great book, and a great series! Get your family together and read it aloud, everyone will enjoy it! I highly recommend this series for a fun time.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Roscoe Riley Rules #2: Never Swipe a Bully's Bear By Katherine Applegate.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Keesha's House by Helen Frost

This is the story of six teenagers, each struggling with problems and needing somewhere to escape. At some point or another, they all end up at Keesha's house, a house actually belonging to Joe, but has the house open to anyone who just needs a place to stay while working out their problems.

Whether it be teen pregnancy, alcohol abuse, being kicked out, or abusive parents (among others) Keesha's house is a safe zone for all as they help themselves and help each other.

The story is told in short narrative poems with each character speaking its voice, but it reads like a novel.

What I Thought:
What a superb work!! Don't let the poetry scare you away from this work, it seriously reads like a novel.

Frost does a great job letting the readers feel the characters' emotions and pulling you into their lives. I highly recommend this novel.

This book is a 2004 Printz Honor Book as well as an ALA Best Book for Young Adults.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Keesha's House by Helen Frost.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Bella is a teenager from Phoenix who has just moved to the small town of Forks, WA to live with her dad. When she starts school at the very local high school, she seems to make friends easily. But this one guy...Edward Cullen tends to blow her off.

One day Edward literally saves her life revealing some superhuman abilities, and from that moment on it seems that Edward and Bella are inseparable.

Then Edward reveals who he truly is: a vampire. But it's too late: Bella is in love.

Thus begins an adventure that is full of romance, adventure, and life threatening danger.

Did I mention the vampires?

What I Thought:
Um, WOW. I have put off reading this book for some time now, but at a friend's request I gave it a shot. I actually listened to most of this book via CD over the course of a couple of weeks. (How I cherished my commutes to work and to Nashville! I actually cheered for traffic!) But when I concluded my last road trip and realized that I only had a couple of chapters left, I grabbed my copy of the book and curled up in bed for the amazing conclusion.

While some of the language drove me bonkers (I mean really, how often do we really need to hear how beautiful Edward is?), I think that this book is deserving of all the hype and mania that it has received over the past year or so. In fact, I have continued the mania and pushed this book off on everyone who listens.

So, listen! If you haven't read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, you need to go get a copy and read it right now. You won't be able to put it down! I already have the next three books purchased and ready to read!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

One last thing: the Twilight movie releases on November 21. I highly recommend that you read the book before you see the movie.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Jonah is an eleven, almost twelve, year old boy who lives in a society where everyone essentially the same. It is a world unlike any on our planet, as no one feels pain, the effects of poverty, hunger. But, the people in this society do not have the opportunity to experience love (mainly romantic and sexual love) or free will. A group of elders choose a profession for each person, as well as life mates and place children in homes after much consideration.

At the yearly “Ceremony of Twelve,” where each child is assigned their profession assignment, Jonah is given the honor of being the new Receiver of Memory. He will obtain memories from the current Receiver of Memory (who is now called “The Giver”) and hold these within himself, sharing when asked by the community’s elders as they contemplate various issues at hand.

As Jonah receives these memories from generations before him, he realizes that his society is missing out on so much and realizes grim truths about his own society. In the captivating climax, Jonah kidnaps a young child who is scheduled to be “released” and attempts to escape.

What I Thought:
Wow. This book absolutely floored me and spoke to my inner core. How lucky we are to live in a society with free will, the freedom of choice, and a world full of different and exciting things that we can choose to discover. We can feel, we experience color, we can love and even feel pain. We can cherish our memories.

If you want to read a book that will change your life, The Giver is for you.

This book is highly acclaimed: it is the winner of the 1996 Newbery Medal, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Notable Children's Book, Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Book, and School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, just to name a few.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Roscoe Riley Rules #1: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs by Katherine Applegate

It all begins with Roscoe in time-out, and he explains to his readers exactly what he did to get there.

Roscoe is gathering items for the art closet at school when he sees the “don’t-you-dare” glue. With some contemplation, he adds it to his donation for the class. Later that day, as his class is gearing up for their bee presentation for Parent’s Day, Roscoe “helps” his classmates by applying the “don’t-you-dare” glue to the bee antennae as he is passing them out. He also puts a little on some chairs to keep the drummers still in their seats (of which he is one!).

You can only guess what happens after a great performance. Which is why Roscoe sits in time-out, telling us his advice on how to not get in the same predicament.

What I Thought:
I am in love with Roscoe Riley. What a sweet little guy living the first grade life and learning those life lessons in such precious ways. I love the glue story...who hasn't been tempted by some "don't you dare glue?" I know I have!!

This is the first book of a six series about Roscoe. If the following books in the series are as good as this one, this will be a series kids will be clamoring for. Highly recommended!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Roscoe Riley Rules #1: Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs by Katherine Applegate.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

YALSA Literature Symposium Wrap-Up

This weekend I attended the First YALSA Young Adult Literature Symposium in Nashville, TN. I had a super time and learned so much.

I have had a couple of days to mull it over and am excited to wrap up my weekend with you!

The theme for this year's symposium was "How We Read Now." I attended several sessions wrapped around this theme.

Session One: "Thrilling Young Adults: How to Keep the Attention of Today's Teens.
In this session we discussed how young adult literature has changed over the years. No longer will teens sit through a book with long descriptive narratives (unless the setting is in a fictional world that must be described). They want action-packed, fast paced books that hold their attention.

The panelist for this session was Amy Alessio, author and teen coordinator for the Schaumburg Township Library in Illinois, Margaret Peterson Haddix, renowned author and has won numerous awards for her books, Deborah Noyes Wayshak, editor for Candlewick Press and author, and author Patrick Jones.

Session Two: "Reading: It's Not Just About Books Anymore"
In this session, Linda Braun discussed a number of ways we read without using paper or conventional means. Think about it: you are reading this blog, may read text messages, use a Kindle or another electronic reader or even your cell phone. Braun demonstrated a number of other web resources that can be used to reach kids in this technological age.

We discussed Voice Thread presentations, a web based presentation tool where you can record your voice over the slides and all can see. Some other tools we discussed was Twitter and tumblr -microblog tools, wordle-a website to create very cool word clouds, and wordia-a place where you can view and post videos of word definitions.

Click below to check out the presentation that was presented during this session using Voice Thread.

Session Three: Fandom, Fan Life, and Participatory Culture
In this session, Elizabeth Burns and Carlie Webber discussed fandom.

I had no idea what this concept was, and surprised to know that I am a member of several fandoms! Basically, a fandom is a group who love something and get together to discuss or celebrate that thing. Whether it be through discussion boards, websites, conferences, or whatever, it is neat to see people get behind a book, tv show or movie and dissect it to its core. They used the popular novel Twilight by Stephanie Meyer to illustrate this concept.

We also explored how we can use this in the library and I got all sorts of fun Teen program ideas to pass along. (Twilight Prom anyone??)

Session Four: "Just Keepin' It Real: Teen Reading Out of the Mainstream"
Rollie Welch, Collection Manager at the Cleveland Public Library and former Teen Services Librarian discussed inner city teens and street lit in this very informative session.

Rollie gave a lot of great booktalks and even tested our knowledge in a fun game of Jeopardy! I came away with an extensive list of books to order for our library!

Session Five: Quickest of YALSA's Quick Picks
Diana Herald and Diane Monnier discuss the process of YALSA's Quick Pick Awards and then booktalked a number of the titles on those lists or those being nominated for this year's list.

We had a special treat of hearing David Lubar, who has written a number of books and having a couple be on the Quick Picks list. Lubar is quite hilarious and I'm excited to order some of his books, as well as some on the Quick Picks list that we do not have, for our library quite soon.

We also were armed with titles to hand reluctant readers when they say "I don't like to read!" or "I'm too busy with school!" and how to spot a quick pick book. Very awesome.

As you can see, I learned a lot and am armed with more knowledge to efficiently do my job. A highlight of the weekend was getting to visit with some of my classmates from UT-Knoxville who were there as well.

Thanks to YALSA for a fun weekend, the books, the food, and the cool loot. Check out this cool bag they gave us at sign in:

The next Literature symposium is in Albuquerque, NM in 2010. Road trip anyone??

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

New Book Day!

Well, sort of.

A while back, hubs and I went to New York to visit some friends and stopped by the Strand Bookstore and bought this book.

I was planning reading it pretty quickly, but I kept putting it off due to school work. (I was scared I would get sucked in and ignore my academic duties.)

Recently a friend passed along her copy of the audio book. Now, I can totally rationalize listening to a book on my commute to work. So, I listened. AND FELL IN LOVE.

So yesterday, I headed out to my local chain bookstore and purchased these:

(Sorry for the glare. Being the book nerd that I am, I have covered my book jackets library style.)

Yep. I'm hooked. I heart Edward. I think Bella rocks.

And I can't wait to see what happens next. (And to see the movie that is coming out on 11/21!)

Friday, November 07, 2008

YALSA Literature Symposium

This weekend I will be attending the YALSA Young Adult Literature Symposium in Nashville, TN. I am SO excited to get to hang out with some YA book lovers and hear what is the latest and greatest in that world. I'm looking forward to some great informative sessions and meeting some great YA authors!

Check back early next week for a wrap-up of my experience!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

When Vermeer’s painting A Lady Writing comes up missing, Calder and Petra, sixth grade classmates put together a number of clues and coincidences to find the priceless painting while clearing the names of their teacher, neighbor, and friend. Calder is fascinated by patterns and always has his set of pentominos, which seems to guide them by enlightening him with words that spark their actions. He even corresponds with his friend Tommy by code in a letters that must be decoded to read. Petra is a gifted young lady who comes across a book entitled Lo! By Charles Fort, which discusses a number of odd events that have happened in the world at various times but seem to be connected. A woman in the painting who seems to be guiding the duo to her fascinates Petra. Throw in an eccentric teacher who sparks free thinking, curiosity and discovery and you have story that will be hard to put down.

What I Thought:
What a fun book! What makes this book even more interesting is the "secret code" that is inserted throughout the text that the reader must decode to grasp a portion of the story. (The code key is given in the book.) Fans of The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin or The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Franweiler by E.L. Konisburg will devour this book.

I'm excited to read the next two books: Wright Three and Calder Game.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Paper Towns by John Green

When Quentin was younger, he and his neighbor friend Margo stumbled across a dead man in the park.

Years later, he is weeks away from graduating high school, and the same Margo taps on his window and talks him into a night to remember. As they cross the city of Orlando playing pranks on some of Margo's friends (er, former friends, they were claiming revenge) who had committed various offenses, Q learns more about this girl whom he is so crazy about.

The next day, Margo vanishes into thin air.

As Quentin and his friends dig through a number of clues to find out where Margo is, they learn about themselves in the process. And have a heck of an ending to their high school experience!

Will they find Margo? You'll have to read it to find out!

What I Thought:
I was highly anticipating the release of this book and was not disappointed! I loved this book! I loved the mystery, the friendship, the longing for a love that may not be so out of reach. It is the end of high school, it is fun and full of memories.

Teens will devour the book for the plot and characters, adults will love the book for the same, but will also relate remembering this special time in their own life.

Green does an outstanding job, this book is very highly recommended. It is pure awesome.

A movie of this book is already in the works...

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Paper Towns by John Green.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Sock Monkey Goes to Hollywood: A Star is Bathed by Cece Bell

Sock Monkey has been nominated for a prestigious Oswald Award and needs to attend the award ceremony in Hollywood. Just one thing...Sock Monkey needs a bath. Of which he has never had, so he is very dirty. He's a little nervous about the whole process, but he has some great friends to help him through the process.

So, he is all clean...will he win his award?

What I Thought:
Such an adorable book, especially if you are a sock monkey fan! The illustrations are cute -- digitally created with the sock monkey appearing to be a photograph of a knitted sock. Very interesting! I literally laughed out loud on several occasions, though the ending was a little disappointing. A super read aloud that kids are bound to enjoy. Overall, highly recommended!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Sock Monkey Goes to Hollywood: A Star is Bathed by Cece Bell.