Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt

In this first book in the Scaredy Squirrel saga, readers are introduced to a squirrel who is scared to leave his safe home, a tree. There are certainly too many things outside of his little tree that could hurt him! Things like green martians, poison ivy, or germs.

So Scaredy goes about his daily routine of watching his surroundings, eating nuts, and sleeping. But have no fear, his emergency kit is nearby and is stocked full of items that will help on the case he must flee his tree home.

How surprised is Scaredy when he is forced to leave his tree on the account of a killer bee and finds out something very special about himself! Scaredy learns a lot and his days are much brighter after that.

What I Thought:
I love Scaredy Squirrel, his stories have fast become some of my favorite books! Scaredy is such a delightful character and it is fun to watch him overcome his fears, no matter how ridiculous, and become a better squirrel.

Kids will eat these stories up! Very highly recommended!

This book is an ALA Notable Children's Book.

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

Check out my reviews of the other books in this series: Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach and Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend, both by Melanie Watt. Also, be sure to look for Scaredy Squirrel at Night, set to be released March 1, 2009.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Marley & Me by John Grogan (and the other Marley books too!)

In this memoir, John Grogan shares numerous stories about his beloved dog Marley, an exuberant yellow lab. Readers will travel along with the Grogan family as the ponder the decision of obtaining a puppy, the early days and the innocence of puppy love, and throughout Marley's long and often frustrating life.

Marley was a special dog, with the heart of gold and the innocence of an angel he managed to terrorize many by his pure size and harmless mischief. Marley provides a ray of light when times are hard, and Grogan demonstrates this fact over and over again.

What I Thought:
I read this book in preparation to see the film version of this novel. This book is simply a wonderful, heartwarming, feel good memoir about a family and their beloved dog. I laughed out loud, probably provoking stares of fellow diners at McAlisters as I chuckled at Marley's latest antic. Tears flowed down my face as Grogan describes Marley's last days and the hardships he faced as an elderly dog.

Simply put, it is a not-to-be-missed gem.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Marley & Me by John Grogan.

Marley's story is unique, as Grogan rewrote the story with an edition for every member of the family. Marley & Me was written for adults as he includes many hardships his family faced such as fertility issues, neighborhood happenings (such as a murder in the neighborhood), and other topics that more clearly show Marley's character and devotion to his masters', but may not be so appropriate for kids.

Check out Grogan's novel Marley: A Dog Like No Other for a wonderful version of Marley's story that is kid friendly and includes the same stories of Marley's antics.

(I read this story earlier this year and it is a wonderful book as well. I laughed, I's just superb and a story that is well suited as a family read aloud.)

For the youngest children, Grogan teamed up with illustrator Richard Cowdrey and released Bad Dog, Marley!, a picture book of some of Marley's antics.

(I've read this book as well and it is a super book for children who love animal stories, or who have a rambunctious dog of their own at their house.)

And finally, if you can't get enough of Marley, check out my review of his Christmas story here.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Vote for Larry by Janet Tashjian

Larry is back in this sequel to The Gospel According to Larry. In this book Josh, who has gone into hiding is pulled out of his pseudo-life when convinced that he should run for public office.

However, Josh doesn't just run for a small seat, like a local council seat, he runs for PRESIDENT.

Will he get enough votes? Heck, will he even make it onto the ballot?

What I Thought:

I was fascinated with this character during the first book chronicling is experiences, The Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian. Click here to see my review of that book.

While this book did not grasp my attention quite as much as Gospel, but I still enjoyed the book. I particularly enjoy how Tashijian sets up the book to be a transcript written by Josh/Larry and how this character always manages to make me think about what is truly important and what is simply propaganda or materialistic.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Vote for Larry by Janet Tashjian.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Very Marley Christmas by John Grogan, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey

It's Christmas in the Grogan house, and Cassie and Baby Louie are wishing for snow. Their feisty yellow lab puppy, Marley is anxiously waiting as well.

To pass the time, the family gets ready for Christmas. Marley wants to help too! As the family puts up the Christmas tree, decorates the outside of the house, makes a snowflake chain, and other things, Marley manages to put her special spin on things-which usually calls for completely ruining the end product! Poor Marley!

But in the end, the family realizes--once again--that Marley is a precious member of their family and while she can be frustrating, Christmas would just not be the same without her.

What I Thought:
How can anyone not love Marley? In this book stemming off of the hit book Marley and Me by John Grogran. This book is simply charming, and a wonderful addition to any Christmas book collection.

Any animal lover will adore this book, and kids of all ages will giggle at Marley's antics and join in on the wish of snow for Christmas. The illustrations are great, with just the perfect touch of a nostalgic feel. I highly recommend this book, especially today--Christmas!!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: A Very Marley Christmas by John Grogan, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey.

From my bookshelf to yours, I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Movie Review: Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2

I've been meaning to see this movie for a while:

Carmen, Tibby, Lena & Bridget have grown up together, but have separated ways to attend different colleges. Carmen, who narrates this story, is especially excited for this summer as she has had a hard first year of college and is missing her beloved friends very badly. However, much to her surprise, each of the girls has their own plans for the summer, taking them out of town and away from each other again.

So the summer continues and each of the girls continue their personal journey of growth. They will learn that even though space and circumstances may separate them, their friendship is strong enough to withstand all things.

What I thought:

A simply wonderful movie!!

I really wanted to see it in the theater, but just didn't get around to it. But when good old Netflix delivered straight to my door, I couldn't wait to watch it.

I thought it was a great movie! I loved how they brought in storylines from books 2-4 of the Sisterhood of the Traveling pants books and made it cohesive. I'm sure that fans of the books would have loved to see a movie made from each of the individual novels, but I think this movie did the books justice.

While it's been a couple of years since I've read the books or seen the first movie, but this movie brought it all back. I just may have to pull out my books and re-read this delightful story of four friends who share a magical pair of pants along with learning about life and growing up.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

This book picks up seamlessly from where Eclipse leaves off and continues the saga.

Will Bella's wish of immortal life come true? What other obstacles will she have to overcome?

What I Thought:
Once again, I am fighting my urge to talk about this book incessantly and ruining it for anyone who may not have read it yet.

Therefore, I will only say that I thought this book was great. I know that there is a divide of Twilight fans on this book. Some loved it, some hated it. I can totally understand both sides, but I enjoyed this book very much! I thought it was a perfect installment of this story and if it is the very last one Meyer gives us, I can live with her decision.

(But I'd really like for the story to go on.)

So for one last time, if you have not picked up this series yet, I highly recommend it. Seriously!

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

Friday, December 19, 2008

Big Words for Little People by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell

The characters in this book teach the readers some "Big Words" like responsibility, cooperate, inconsiderate, and even stupendous and superb! The best words in the book are family, love and respect.

What I Thought:
Another smashing hit from Curtis and Cornell. In this very creative and attractive book, kids get to learn important words in a way that is appropriate and fun for them. The bright and colorful illustrations help relay the message of the book, which is really about so much more than just learning new words! It's about respect, love, and family, all while learning words that can help intertwine those concepts together.

A fun read aloud for all ages, and is bound to be a hit with families everywhere! Highly recommended!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Big Words for Little People by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Book Day!

I have the most awesome friends.

My new friends, the Bliss family --Bryan, Michelle, Nora & Ben-- scored a personalized autographed copy of Paper Towns, by one of my most favorite authors-John Green-just for me.

See, John Green thinks I'm awesome.

But I thinks he's awesom-er.

And that cool Bliss family, those guys are the awesom-est.

Thanks guys, I just absolutely LOVE my book.

(Hey, why don't you check out Bryan's blog? He just wrote a novel...he'll probably be famous one day, then you can say "I read his blog when...")

Monday, December 15, 2008

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel has decided that he wants to go the beach. But, he would never actually go to the beach, it is much too dangerous! Scaredy decides to build his own beach, which is very nice, but is lacking one important detail: the sound of the ocean.

Scaredy puts aside his fear and prepares to head to the beach to get a shell. When he gets there, he actually has fun!

Oh-and its best you come prepared when reading this book. Scaredy Squirrel recommends, or actually insists, that readers apply SPF65 sunscreen before reading the book!

What I thought:
Scaredy is at it again! He is laugh out loud funny as he simply scared of just about everything. It is neat to see him stress over silly things and then usually overcome those fears to have a good time.

Super illustrations that are fun to explore and add so much to the story. Scaredy Squirrel is simply a gem and will be a delight to children (and adults) everywhere!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach by Melanie Watt.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Block Mess Monster by Betsy Howie, illustrated by C.B. Decker

Calpurnia's mom is desperate for her to clean up her room. But there is one problem.

The Block Mess Monster.

The Block Mess Monster is a huge pile of blocks in the corner of Calpurnia's room that she is convinced is a monster and prevents her from cleaning up her room.

Calpurnia's mom suggest a variety of tactics to get rid of the monster, but none prevail-until her mom suggests that the monster help clean up the room!

What I Thought:
A very cute book. Calpurnia is simply a lovable character! Each time she is illustrated in the book she is wearing a different costume, whether it be a painter, a wizard, or even Peter Pan! It is so fun to examine the illustrations and check out what Calpurnia is up to on that page.

I was a little disappointed in the ending, it seemed to just end. However, a fun book overall and will be greatly enjoyed by kids everywhere.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Block Mess Monster by Betsy Howie, illustrated by C.B. Decker.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Jellybeans and the Big Dance by Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans, illustrated by Lynn Musinger

Emily is so excited to begin taking dance lessons and disappointed when she sees that the girls in her dance class are not as excited. In fact, they could really care less about taking lessons! When the girls figure out the their initials spell "bean," Emily purchases each girl some jellybeans. From that point on, they are great friends and are known as the "Jellybeans."

Each girl shares their special talent and the recital is a success, with one little glitch that shows the special friendship the girls have with each other.

What I Thought:

A great book with a wonderful message. I love the authors emphasize how important it is for friends to have different interests and talents, and how using them can make the group succeed. The illustrations are awesome, Munsinger does such a great job providing a fun setting for the story. The characters are each a different animal, characteristic of her work.

This book will be a hit with kids everywhere, but I suspect best with kids enrolled in dance class or wanting to take dance, though the message spans much wider than that. A great read-aloud!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Jellybeans and the Big Dance by Laura Numeroff and Nate Evans, illustrated by Lynn Musinger

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Cool Zone with the Pain & the Great One by Judy Blume, illustrations by James Stevenson

Abigail and Jake are your normal sibling set. Abigail is in the 3rd grade and is known as the "Great One" by her younger brother Jake, who Abigail refers to as "the Pain."

In this second installment about this duo, the stories all revolve around school. The pair alternate telling stories, ranging from Jake's experience in being a waiter in his school restaurant experience to Abigail's determination to change her name to Violet Rose.

Through story after story readers will see that while sometimes siblings bicker and annoy each other, at the end of the day family sticks together.

What I Thought:
What a fun book, and one that so many families can relate to! I know that my brother and I would have loved these books as children, because we were just like Abigail & Jake! We may have picked on each other, but in the end we would have stuck by each other to the very end. (Still would!)

I love how each chapter alternates voices, giving each sibling their fair share. The stories are humorous, yet situations that happen in everyday life. I think this book, as well as the other books based around this duo, are bound to be hits for kids and families everywhere.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Cool Zone with the Pain & the Great One by Judy Blume, illustrations by James Stevenson

And while you are there, check out the other two books in this series, Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume, illustrated by James Stevenson and Going Going Gone! with the Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume, illustrated by James Stevenson.

Also, check out the picture book Judy Blume wrote in 1985 that started in all: The Pain and the Great One, illustrated by Irene Trivas.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer

This is the third installment of Bella's story in the Twilight saga. In this book, Bella is forced to make heartbreaking decisions as she comes to terms with her own emotions for two very important people in her life.

This book is stock full of excitement, drama, love, and everything a fan of this series wants, including lots of Bella, Edward, and Jacob!

What I Thought:
I think this is my favorite book of the series thus far. This book was so intense that I had to literally put it down every 10 pages or so because my eyes were reading the words faster than my brain could comprehend, and I didn't want to miss a word of this exciting novel.

Meyer has done a marvelous job setting up this story and giving the readers insight into Bella's mind. We suffer right along with her as she fights within herself.

An amazing read, and if you have read the first two books in this captivating series, you won't be able to put Eclipse down!

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

Now, onto Breaking Dawn! (Which I'm honestly a little sad to be starting, as I'm rather dreading finishing all the books in this series. What I am going to do then?)

Friday, December 05, 2008

Uh-oh Cleo by Jessica Harper, illustrated by Jon Berkeley

This is the story of Cleo's "Stitches Saturday," a day Cleo will not soon forget.

The day starts out normal, her family is eating breakfast, then her and her twin brother go to play in their room. When they decide to play Monopoly (as they do each Saturday), there is a little complication.

What I Thought:
A very cute book! Cleo is one of six kids, which I find fascinating, but most of this story revolves around Cleo and her twin brother.

I think this is a great story for kids who have had stitches, or known someone who had. It is not gory, and Cleo is the shining example of being brave. Mom makes up a lot of silly songs to help Cleo get through the ordeal with a positive attitude, which are just adorable!

A great book for young readers, probably in the 2nd-4th grades. A few black and white illustrations are scattered through the book.

A second book with this family is set to release in January 2009, Uh-oh, Cleo: Underpants on My Head by the same duo.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Uh-oh Cleo by Jessica Harper, illustrated by Jon Berkeley

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Our Library by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Maggie Smith

When the local library has to close because of the deterioration of the building, or it is out of money, or the owner of the land wants to sell and they have to convince the town grump to let them move the library on his land, the community kids rally and overcome each obstacle to keep their beloved library. They learn how to do complete each task by reading library books!

What I Thought:
What a sweet book about how important a library is to a community! The "kids" in this book are depicted as a variety of animals: a raccoon, a squirrel, a beaver, etc. The setting is in a beautiful meadow. Wonderful illustrations! I especially loved how the kids took charge of saving their beloved library and use library books to learn how to complete a number of tasks, from roofing the building to earning money, even "How to Speak Wisely & Well to Grumpy Old Beavers."

A wonderful book to share when discussing libraries and communities.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Our Library by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Maggie Smith

Monday, December 01, 2008

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

A broken heart.

A budding friendship, or maybe more?

Life threatening, impending danger.

A terrifying trip to Europe.

These are just a few things to look forward to in New Moon, the sequel of Stephenie Meyer's book Twilight. Bella continues to live in Forks, Washington and encounter supernatural beings.

It's a book you won't want to miss!

What I thought:
This is probably one of the more difficult reviews to write because I did not want to give any part of the story away in the book! I know that Twilight fans cherish this story and would be disappointed if any part of the story was ruined. I know I would be!

I thought this book was a bit slow going in the beginning, but the end made the journey very much worth it.

I will not permit myself to say any more, only to say that this book is a wonderful addition to the Twilight story.

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