Thursday, December 31, 2009

One excited person

So, this morning as I attempted to wake up, I checked my Twitter feed. That's when I saw this tweet from Linda Braun (lbroun200), the YALSA president and educator who've I've had the privilege to hear speak:

"NYT on the return of The Babysitter's Club"

Needless to say...I woke up quickly after seeing that!

Okay, here's the deal. When I was a kid/tween, I LOVED (loved, LOVED, LOVED) the Babysitter's Club. I had quite collection, and would literally start at Book 1, read all that I had, go to Sam's Club and buy the next set of four, read those, then start the process all over again.

The Babysitter's Club is why I'm a librarian who missed a lot of great books published during during my childhood and classics. I was busy reading the BSC! (Don't worry...I'm working on catching up on those my 30's!)

I was kind of disappointed when the library I work at only had a few installments of the series. When I ran across 85% of the series at the farmer's market for a quarter a book, I jumped on that deal! Now the library has a decent set of the series and they've been checked circulating pretty well. We also have the BSC graphic novel set. (Which are pretty stinkin' cool!)

I'm so excited to get this new set for the library and especially read the prequel: The Babysitter's Club: The Summer Before, due out April 1, 2010 according to Amazon.

How exciting that a whole new generation will get to enjoy a series of books their mom's enjoyed!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert

Life is starting to get back to normal for DJ Schwenk. She made national news by playing football for her high school team (and dating the rival team's quarterback) and her brother who was severely injured during a college football game and is doing well in rehab adjusting to life in a wheelchair. She's ready to return to school, ready for basketball, ready for normal.

Well, life is never normal! DJ's life gets turned upside down once again when the basketball scouts come calling and DJ is put under enormous pressure to be a leader on the basketball court (which is hard for her) as well as decide her collegiate future. Her family is counting on her!

Mix in a boyfriend and the possibility of a true love...and you've got a junior year one can't forget.

What I Thought:
Front and Center is the finale to a wonderful trilogy of books about DJ Schwenk. While I anticipated the release of this book, I hated to read it because I knew the story would soon be over! This is one of my favorite characters out there today.

I loved how Murdock wrapped up DJ's story and pulled all the books together beautifully. DJ is a super strong female character who learns a lot about herself and life. She is not your typical girly girl...and I found that to be refreshing!

(Plus, I learned more about the technical game of basketball in this book than I have in 4 years of being married to a college basketball coach! Murdock intertwined basketball lingo in the book in a way that made me understand the game.)

Overall, a superb book, a great series. Give to any high school girl (or guy) who loves a great realistic fiction novel with a strong female character. Perfect for the sportsy type!

Very highly recommended.

Want to find out more? Check it out on Amazon: Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert .

Reviewed from a library copy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Can You Make a Scary Face by Jan Thomas

Can you wiggle like there's a bug on your nose? [wiggle, wiggle] WHAT? That bug went up your nose? Down your shirt? What are we going to do?

Dance of course!

Until the frog comes. Then we'll have to make a scary face!

What I Thought!
This book is a preschool storytime DREAM! We'll be reading this one SOON and doing the actions right along with it.

I love the brightly colored illustrations and can envision kids everywhere imitating the storyline and illustrations.


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Can You Make a Scary Face by Jan Thomas

Reviewed from a library copy.

Mouse Was Mad by Linda Urban, illustrated by Henry Cole

Mouse was mad. Hopping mad! Hare tried to help him out by showing him the correct way to hop, but he landed in a mud puddle. Animal after animal shows Mouse the correct way to be mad...but he always lands in a mud puddle!

Finally, mouse stands really still and the other animals are impressed!

What I Thought:
A great story! I loved how mouse is showing her feelings and the other animals try to help her, but it only makes it worse. In the end, she's so mad that she stands completely still and when the other animals try to imitate's so silly mouse forgets why she's mad.

A great story for preschoolers learning about feelings and a way to introduce proper anger management! We'll be reading this one soon in preschool storytime...and doing a lot of fun movement to go along with it!


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Mouse Was Mad by Linda Urban, illustrated by Henry Cole.

Book reviewed from library copy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Practicing the Piano (but she does love being in recitals) by Peggy Gifford

It's time for Moxy's first piano recital, and she is very excited. She and her sister Pansy will be playing a duet: Heart and Soul. They have designed some very fancy outfits that even include capes and crowns! They even choreographed a intricate bow to do after their performance.

But when the piano teacher calls to ask if Moxy has been practicing stopping her piece at the appropriate time and not play for so long and not pounding the keys so hard...because if she hasn't she won't be performing!

Moxy's mom wants to hear the piece pronto. She has been in Africa with her twin sister who was injured feeding a giraffe and has not been around to listen to them practice.

But you know Moxy...there's always something else that has to be done before the task at hand!

Will Moxy get to perform at the recital?

What I Thought:
Moxy is such a lovable character. She is so busy, it can almost make your head spin!

In this book, she is so excited for her piano recital and being in the center of attention that she can hardly stand it. She is busy getting together her cape, doing her stage makeup, and other tasks all while her injured aunt is trying to sleep, her stepfather is trying to finish a poem, her mother trying to stay awake while making 175 cupcakes, her grandmother sewing, and her twin brother snapping photos at every chance.

I love how Moxy is SO excited for her recital, but when the time comes she gets so much stage fright it almost prevents her from going on stage to perform! But she overcomes and does a wonderful job.

These books are funny and I love how the chapter headings are a part of the story itself.

Moxy is perfect for any Junie B. Jones graduate and anyone else who enjoys a fun story.

This is the third story in this series.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Practicing the Piano (but she does love being in recitals) by Peggy Gifford.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Nikki & Deja by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman

Nikki & Deja are best friends, and next door neighbors! They are in the same class at school, so they spend a lot of time together: doing homework, watching TV, or just watching the activity on Fulton Street. They are like sisters!

A new girl moves into the neighborhood and seems kind of stuck up, so the girls decide to start a drill club and only invite select people! Unfortunately, Nikki doesn't quite have the rhythm Deja thinks is needed, and asks her to be secretary and this hurts Nikki's feelings.

The best friends are fighting...will they make up and be best friends again?

What I Thought:
I was excited to read this book. I am always on the lookout for children's books with African American main characters, and I was very pleased with this one.

Nikki and Deja are great characters and experience an issue that is probably very common in elementary clubs...the creation of exclusive "clubs" that intentionally leave out others. Then there are feelings that are hurt, and often other exclusive "clubs" pop up in revenge.

Another great talking point is the new girl Antonia and how she appears to be stuck up. Is she truly stuck up, or maybe just scared of living in a new place? We don't really know, but readers could construct their own opinions.

This is a great book to discuss how the characters feel and then scaffold that to the readers' lives and how it would feel if it happened to them.

Nikki & Deja's relationship is a joy to experience...they are truly like sisters as they argue just like sisters.

This is the first book in a new series. Book two, Birthday Blues is currently availabe and book three, Newsy News Newsletter will be out in 2010. Perfect for young-middle elementary students, especially girls.


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Nikki & Deja by Karen English, illustrated by Laura Freeman.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Middy Thomas

When Gooney Bird Green steps into Mrs. Pidgeon's 2nd grade class at Watertower Elementary School, no one knows quite what to think. In her eclectic ensemble of pajamas & cowboy boots and request for sitting in the middle of the room because she likes to be in the center of attention, the class had no idea what a special asset Gooney Bird would be to that class.

The class was learning about stories. They were having a little trouble grasping the concept, and the Mrs. Pidgeon was going to model the task by having the class construct a story together. The class chose Gooney Bird to be a character because they wanted to find out more about her.

So, much to her pleasure, Gooney tells story after story each day! Stories about how she got her name, how she came to Watertown from China on a flying carpet...even stories about her cat!

What I Thought:
Lowry has done an amazing job weaving in storytelling teaching into this story through Gooney Bird and her amazing stories. She is such a fun and interesting character, readers want to find out more and more!

This would be a perfect book to read aloud to students learning about storytelling as the book will surely inspire other to create their own stories, just as Gooney Bird inspired her class to do the same.

Highly Recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Gooney Bird Greene by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Middy Thomas.

Reviewed from a library copy.

There are other books about Gooney Bird Green! Check out my review of Gooney Bird is So Absurd and Gooney the Fabulous.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

How to Train a T. Rex and Win by Michael Phelps with Alan Abrahamson, illustrated by Ward Jenkins

Micheal Phelps shares how much work it takes to train for the Olympics and even more, training to win eight gold medals!

What I Thought:
This is a very interesting book! Did you know that Phelps took a three hour nap every day during his training? Over the years that added up to be 273 days, or three summer vacations for school kids.

Another fun fact that I found interesting is that Phelps had to eat as much as 10,000 calories a day. This equals to 912 pizzas a YEAR. Wow!

I liked the cartoon illustrations, and the cameos by Phelps' dog Herman and even a glimpse of his coach!

This is a great books to share with kids to show the commitment and determination it takes to become an Olympic athlete. This also a wonderful example of comparisons!


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: How to Train a T. Rex and Win by Michael Phelps with Alan Abrahamson, illustrated by Ward Jenkins.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Hank Zipzer #16: Dump Trucks and Dogsleds: I'm on My Way Mom! by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

It's almost time for Hank's little brother to arrive, and he is not too happy. Would you, if you were going to have to share your room with a newborn?

Hank's mom sends the rest of the family off on a mini-vacation to go skiing while she finishes up preparations. So off the family goes...skiing in Vermont!

On their first run down the mountain, Mrs. Zipzer calls and she's having the baby! The family needs to return home NOW! But a horrible snowstorm is going on and they cannot drive home. What to do?

It will definitely be an adventure!!

What I Thought:
Another great installment in the Hank Zipzer series! I enjoyed that this book took place out of the school setting and concentrated more on his family than his friends!

Hank and his family had a crazy adventure getting home when the roads become impassable, from stowing away on a train, hitching a ride with a Chinese circus act, bumming a ride from a dog sled, and hanging off the back of a dump truck!

Fans of Hank Zipzer will not be disappointed!


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Hank Zipzer #16: Dump Trucks and Dogsleds: I'm on My Way Mom! by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Lousy Rotten, Stinkin' Grapes by Margie Palatini, illustrated by Barry Moser

Fox sees some grapes growing on a tree and wants some. But he is only "so high...and the grapes were so, so, so high."

What to do?

Fox comes up with plan, after plan, after plan...and acquires help from some of his friends.

Will he ever get those "lousy, rotten, stinkin' grapes??"

What I Thought:

A fun book! Fox thinks he's so clever with all his plans, and when the other animals try to offer advice (that would actually work!) he cuts them off and continues with his ideas.

The illustrations are very nice and add so much to the story. I especially loved the frustrated and exasperated looks the other animals give the fox when he ignores their suggestions.

A great book to talk about teamwork and perhaps listening to others.


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Lousy Rotten, Stinkin' Grapes by Margie Palatini, illustrated by Barry Moser.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee

A young family spend a day enjoying all of what the world has to offer...the beach, a farmer's market, hanging out in the beautiful outdoors, spending time with friends and family.

What I Thought:

This is a beautiful book. The simple, yet beautiful, text matched with the amazing illustrations by Marla Frazee make this book a pure joy.

This is definitely a book to not just read, but devour as so much of the story is told through the illustrations. A wonderful book to share with your family!


This book was awarded a 2010 Caldecott Honor. (Two in a row for Marla Frazee!)

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Robot Zot by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by David Shannon

Robot Zot is ready to take over the world! "Robot Zot--never fall. Robot Zot--conquer all!"

He begins with kitchen appliances and after his victories in the kitchen, heads onward to the television.

There is nothing that Robot Zot cannot overcome! Even the dog!

What I Thought:

Wow, this is a book that young boy will love! Then I foresee there will be a lot of robots being portrayed after this book is read.

Robot Zot thinks he's going to overtake the world, but in reality he is a toy robot the size of a Hot Wheel car. But it doesn't his head he's the largest thing in the universe!

The illustrations are wonderful, and what you would expect from Lane Smith. He and Jon Scieszka make the most wonderful team!

A wonderful story, one that is full of imagination and fun! A wonderful book for the preschool and early elementary crowd.


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Robot Zot by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by David Shannon.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm a Turkey by Jim Arnosky

In honor Thanksgiving...a book about turkeys!

Tom the Turkey introduces readers what it is like to be a turkey, from how they communicate, fly and look.

Book includes a link to download the text in song form.

What I Thought:
A fun book! We read this book during Preschool Storytime this week and the kids seemed to enjoy it. I wish I had the forethought to download the song so we could listen to it while working on our turkey craft.

I especially loved the illustrations, they were bright and colorful; the turkeys had animated facial expressions.

Tom the turkey speaks directly to the readers, and invites them to "gobble" at the next turkey they may be him!

A fun book!


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: I'm a Turkey by Jim Arnosky.

Reviewed from a library copy.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! Gobble, gobble!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck

Grandma Dowdell is back!

It's 1958 and Joey is long grown and living on his own, as is Mary Alice.

This story is told from Bob, whose family moved to town when his father, Methodist preacher, was assigned to a church in town.

Bob nor either of his sisters is particularly excited about living in this small rural town. Mrs. Dowdell is their strange neighbor, and they don't know what to quite think of her.

But life in interesting in this small town, and Mrs. Dowdel is always involved! Whether she's catching the mean guys who bully Bob, helping his little sister adjust to the move by letting her follow her every move, or sending off trouble-maker Roscoe Burdick to the Army. We have stories of Princess Kickapoo, a ghost living in Mrs. Dowdell's garden, an exciting Thanksgiving where the family car is stolen...and Bob learns to drive at the ripe age of twelve!

With Mrs. Dowdell around, there is never a dull moment!

What I Thought:
I loved the other two books about Grandma Dowdell, and have been anxiously awaiting the release of this book ever since I learned of its existence!

At first, I was kind of disappointed that the story revolved around another family. I was worried that Grandma Dowdell wouldn't play as large of a part as she did in A Long Way from Chicago and A Year Down Yonder.

But thankfully, she did! It was in a slightly different format, since the story is told by Bob, Dowdell's next door neighbor. We don't get to see as much as the "inner workings" of Dowdell, but we still get to experience all of her quirky antics.

This is also the story of love as Bob's family, who doesn't have much as a struggling minister's family, but they always seem to have what they need. Whether it's some food on the doorstep, being rescued from a bully, being a friend to a little girl who needs some distractions, or just some plain excitement...Mrs. Dowdell seems to find a way to provide just about everything this family needs.

Overall, a wonderful read!

Highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck .

Reviewed from a library copy.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Song of Middle C by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Scott Menchin

A little girl is ready for her first piano recital. She's been practicing her piece called "Dance of the Wood Elves" for a long time, and she ready to show it off!

She's not even nervous, though her brother tries make her so. But she's okay, she has on her lucky hat, her lucky shoes, even her lucky underwear.

She's ready to go.

Performing last in a recital makes a recital seem quite long.

But, she's cool as a cucumber.

Or is she?

What I Thought:
If you know someone who performs recitals, this is a great book for them. I love how the girl (who never reveals her name) is so excited for the recital and has practiced and practiced and visualizes little wood elves dancing around and is ready to go..then freezes at the recital.

Who hasn't been in a situation like that?

But, in the horror of the moment, the girl composes and though cannot remember her piece instead creates a dramatic piece using only the middle C. I love how she improvised and overcame instead of running off the stage in tears.

Which is what I probably would have done. (Or, what I have done...which is not do it at all.) This girl has a much better solution!

Great illustrations, love the lucky underwear!


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Song of Middle C by Alison McGhee, illustrated by Scott Menchin.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Movie Review: Twilight Saga: New Moon

I liked it. A lot.

I'm not going to lie. I wasn't planning on seeing this movie for a couple weeks, at least until all the screeching teenagers had seen it and I wouldn't have to worry about shrieks in the theater every time Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner bared their chest.

However, a friend (thanks Tammy!) had an extra ticket for the Friday night show, and I got to go! And I was pumped.

We saw it in a smaller theater in a small town, and I think the average age of the audience was in its 30's! I thought that was totally awesome, I love when grown ladies embrace their inner 14 year old! I never want to lose my inner child/teenager!

Okay, back to the movie.

I had low expectations. I thought the first movie was disappointing. (Check out my review here.)

However, this movie exceeded my expectations! I was very glad they got rid of a lot of that cheesy dialogue. I thought that overall, the effects were okay, and they captured the story.

Granted, its been a year since I read the book, so if that was fresh on my mind I may feel differently. But right now, I like it.

I was most excited for the Italy scenes, and I thought they did well.

Overall, I approved. I really want to see it again. Even more, I want to re-read the books! Unfortunately, we are in the process of moving to a new house and they are packed away in a pile of boxes. Dilemma!

Twilight Saga: Eclipse will be released June 30, 2010. Can't wait!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen

This is the story of 12 year-old who receives a lawn mower from his grandmother one summer. Perplex as of WHY his grandmother would give him such a random gift, he heads outside to tinker with it.

One of his neighbors asks him to mow his lawn. Then another, and another, and soon he is overwhelmed. Enter Arnold, a day trader in the stock market who asks the boy to mow his lawn in exchange of stock shares. Arnold helps him expand his business with extra manpower, and soon there is a small army helping mowing yards.

The boy is earning quite a salary, but when Arnold breaks the news that his stocks has dramatically done well. VERY well.

And it all started with a lawn mower.

What I Thought:

This is a very entertaining book. The guy started the book with nothing, but ended up with thousands and thousands of dollars! Of course, he put in a lot of hard work.

I loved the chapter titles: "The Principles of Economic Expansion," "Dramatic Economic Expansion and its Causes and Effects," and "Expertise, Its Utilization and Effects on the Economy."

I think I may have learned more about economics in this book than I did in Econ 201. I know for sure that I had way more fun!

This would be a great book to read aloud in a high school economics class, what a great way to spice up all those principles!


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen .

Reviewed from a library copy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril

Amelia Bedelia is most excited for her first day of school. As she goes about her day, she manages to misunderstand what is going on...from "hopping on the bus," to "tickling the clay," even "jumping rope!"

What I Thought:
When I saw and advertisement for this new series of Amelia Bedelia as a child, I literally jumped for joy. I loved the original Amelia Bedelia books am excited for a new set for a new generation. Though I know the original series, where Amelia is a nanny, are still quite popular.

What is so entertaining about the original books, and this one as well is how Amelia takes everything so literally. And it's so funny to see her tweet like a bird during music time when the teacher says they will "sing like birds today," or literally glue herself to the seat when the teacher says "please glue yourself to your seat."

This book is in more of a traditional picture book format where as the originals are more in a first/easy reader format with the smaller size.

The illustrations are bright and cheerful, perfect for this story.

A great book that should bring lots of giggles.

Highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School by Herman Parish, illustrated by Lynne Avril.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen

Finn is a quiet guy. He is most comfortable by himself simply reading a book. He's used to this life, as his father has been in college or grad school all of his life and his mom is long gone. He has one of the coolest dogs ever named Dylan. His friend Matthew is living with them during the summer as his parents go through a divorce. Finn's plans for this summer is to speak to less of a dozen people all summer. That's the way he likes it.

But Johanna, a graduate student that moves in next door, changes all that. Johanna has cancer and a very social, bubbly personality. Johanna quickly pulls Finn and Matthew into her world and challenges Finn to create a garden in his backyard. Together they research and Finn is given a thick notebook with directions on how to create a garden..which he works on daily.

Meanwhile, Johanna continues to endure cancer treatments and trains for a triathlon supporting breast cancer research. The boys make it their project to help Johanna to raise funds for towards her goal. Somehow, Johanna pulls together a family and a community...and changes more lives than she even knows.

What I Thought:
This is one of those books that you want to shove into every hand you see. Finn, who starts the book so reserved and quiet, ends the book simply a different person.

Johanna, a brave woman battling breast cancer is a character that sweeps in and makes everyone see what is truly important, healing relationships and creating families throughout the story.

This book is simply uplifting and a wonderful breath of fresh air. It is a great read aloud; it isn't very long, and not only shows a great deal of character transformation, but also gives a small glimpse into the world of a person battling cancer.

This is a must read.

Very highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Tallest of Smalls by Max Lucado, illustrated by Maria Monescillo

In the land of Stiltsville, all the Too Smalls clamored for a pair of stilts each day when they were handed out at 6pm. They were handed out to those that were "cool" or "special" and not those who were different.

Ollie, a young boy with a patch on his pants, desperately wanted some stilts. After being turned down again and again, his day finally came! He received a pair of tall stilts!

However, maneuvering in the stilts prove to be a little difficult, especially when a flock of birds take residence on him and the wooden sticks. Ollie goes tumbling to the ground, embarrassed and no one runs to help him.

In the shame of the moment, a hand touches his shoulder. It's Jesus and He reminds him that it doesn't matter what others think, Ollie needs to "keep his feet on the ground" and remember that he is precious and belongs to Him.

What I Thought:
What a great story! Lucado wrote this book as a parable from his book Fearless. It has a most wonderful and important message that is relevant for all of us.

Throughout the story, I was reminded of a few different stories: You are Special by Mad Lucado, Oliver (I guess because of the main character's name--Ollie), and Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I thought the rhyme and rhythm of the book was very reminiscent to Seuss and the illustrations made me think of WhoVille.

This would be a wonderful read aloud (where appropriate) and a lovely gift to anyone who needs to be reminded that though the world may want to dictate who we are and what we desire, Jesus is the only one who matters.


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Tallest of Smalls by Max Lucado, illustrated by Maria Monescillo.

Reviewed from a copy provided by the Thomas Nelson Publisher Book Review Bloggers program. This book will be donated to my local public library.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Calvin Coconut: The Zippy Fix by Graham Salisbury, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers

Calvin is in a bit of a bind.

Stella, the girl that is living with his family for a while, has been relentlessly teasing him. So he gets revenge...but the prank gets a little out of hand and he feels horrible.

Her sixteenth birthday is quickly approaching and Calvin wants to do something extra a CD from her favorite artist. But he doesn't have any money. Calvin quickly does odd jobs to earn money and purchase the CD...and finds trouble all along the way.

What I Thought:

I think Calvin is very cool, and what I think I like most about these books are the fact that they are set in Hawaii. I don't think it would matter if the reader had ever visited the islands to enjoy this book, but I think this setting is just so neat.

In this story, Calvin deals with a typical older "sister" like character, bullies, and has great friends and displays a sense of dedication and follow through on what he wants. And all these things are handled with a sense of adventure, fun, and a little bit of mischief.

Overall, a great read! Give to any elementary student first grade and up!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Calvin Coconut: The Zippy Fix by Graham Salisbury, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers.

Book three in this series Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven is slated to be released in February 2010. Hooray!

Reviewed from a library copy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Review of Little House on the Prairie: The Musical--It was a book first

I got to see this musical at TPAC (Tennessee Performing Arts Center) in Nashville, TN on October 31, 2009. Yes, I went to the theater instead of trick-or-treating this year. I was totally okay with that!

I didn't really have an expectation of what to expect of this show going in. I LOVE the books, enjoy the television series, but had no idea of any aspect of this show except that Melissa Gilbert was playing the role of "Ma." (She played the role of Laura in the television series.)

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised! The show spanned pretty much the entire series of books, beginning with the Ingalls family leaving Wisconsin and their big woods, ending with Laura and Almanzo's wedding. Many of the most cherished and well known story lines were included, like the girls attending school for the first time and meeting Nellie Oleson (who has quite a prominent role in this musical), Mary falling ill and losing her sight, the girls' first Independence Day celebration, the horrible winter and the blizzard that almost killed the entire town, Laura heading off to nearby town to teach and her experiences there, her courtship with Almanzo, and others.

The songs were catchy and fun. All of the actors did an amazing job and the costumes were quite realistic. Laura was wonderfully portrayed as having a "wild heart" which stayed true to the books.

Overall, I'd say this was worth missing trick-or-treating for! It was definitely a treat. If it comes to a town near you and you are at all a Little House fan, it's worth the price of admission.

You can find out more about this show at their website.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney

It's summer break and Greg Huffley has big plans of sleeping, watching TV, and playing video games ALL. SUMMER. LONG. He also enjoys swimming at the local country club with his friend Rowley, but that ends after the two have a little tiff and part ways.

But Greg's mother has different plans for him: lots of family time...especially with his father, visits to the local public pool, she even started a reading club!


How will Greg ever survive this summer?

What I Thought:

Well, it's no secret that I'm a fan of this series. I think I've discussed most, if not all, of the books on this site.

And honestly, these books don't even need to be booktalked or "pushed" in a library because kids are clamoring after them all on their own. In fact, we've just ordered additional copies of each for the library collection!

But anyway, I think Kinney hit a home run once again. Greg is still an indoor kind of guy, someone who would rather play video games and sleep than do anything else. He is your stereotypical self-centered tween.

Like in the previous books, it is written in a journal-like style including both text and simple illustrations.

Hand this to any kid 4th grade and up and they will worship you.

Very highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days by Jeff Kinney.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin

It all started with a box. A wooden box. A simple but thoughtful gift for his little sister's birthday. What he didn't realize was the hidden compartment in the bottom of the box that held three wooden strips with letters.

A puzzle.

Winston is a puzzle fanatic. He loves word puzzles, number puzzles, logic puzzles, even creating puzzles. So when these puzzle pieces stump him, everyone is a bit surprised.

Then, it is discovered that the wooden strips are actually clues to a treasure left behind by a prominent business man to his children who refused to talk to each other. However, the children also refused to work together to find the treasure. Now it is years later and all the siblings have died, except one. Their chips are in the possession of a couple treasure hunters. And everyone wants to find the treasure.

Will they find it? Will they solve the puzzle of a lifetime?

What I Thought:
Super fun book! I read the second book about Winston a while back, when I didn't realize this one existed. So this book went right on the list.

Winston is a great character who loves puzzles and the neatest thing about this book is that every puzzle Winston solves or comes across is included in the book to solve right along with Winston. If you don't want to write in your book, you can go to a website and print out the puzzles to work. (And please, don't write in the book if it is a library copy!)

The story has a perfect mix of mystery, suspense, and even a bit of danger. And of course...puzzles!

Overall, a great book. Give to any tween who likes mysteries and anyone who likes to solve puzzles.


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Eric Berlin.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko

Moose is back, along with the whole Alcatraz gang! Moose's family lives on Alcatraz where his father is an officer at Alcatraz prison. When we last left Moose in Al Capone Shines Does My Shorts, his special needs sister Natlie had just been accepted into the Esther P. Marinoff School...perhaps with some pull from prisoner Al Capone!

Now, Natalie is doing well in school, but it seems Al Capone wants a favor in return.

What I Thought:
A very strong historical fiction novel. This book is set in 1935 when Alacatraz was a busy prison filled with mobsters that remained in the headlines. Choldenko once again does a fantastic job bringing her readers into Moose's world and what it was like to grow up on this island.

There is a lot more interaction in this book with the inmates, as Moose gets to meet Capone and some of the other inmates as they are working on the island. Baseball is still plays a vital role in the story and there's even a little romance!

I don't know if Choldenko plans to continue Moose's story, but I sure hope she does!

Book also includes an author's note regarding her research and her characters.

Highly recommended, but make sure that you have read Al Capone Does My Shorts first!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Roscoe Riley Rules #6: Never Walk in Shoes that Talk by Katerine Applegate, illustrated by Brian Biggs

The newest fad in town are Walkie-Talkies, shoes that have function allowing its wearers to communicate with others who are wearing the shoes.

Sounds neat right? EVERYONE in Roscoe's class wants a pair, unfortunately there are limited pairs available. Which makes them even more desired!

Two kids in Roscoe's class scores some, and though Roscoe asks her parents nicely, no luck. Well, that is until some show up in the mail! Roscoe is suddenly one of the most popular kids in class.

But Roscoe's best friend feels left out, and Roscoe helps to destroy his "Ruff and Tuff" shoes, since Roscoe's father says he has "Destructo Feet."

Can you figure out how Roscoe landed in time out?

What I Thought:

Super fun book! It reminded me of the many fads that found its way to my school as a child...slap bracelets, paint splattered jeans, crimped hair...

This is a story that everyone can relate to in one way or another!

This is another solid story in the Roscoe Riley series.

Highly recommended!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Roscoe Riley Rules #6: Never Walk in Shoes that Talk by Katerine Applegate, illustrated by Brian Biggs.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Day is Done by Peter Yarrow, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

This book takes the text of Peter Yarrow's song "Day is Done" and provides beautiful illustrations featuring woodland animals and a little boy with his father.

The book contains a CD with the song, as well as two other songs written by Peter Yarrow.

What I Thought:
What a sweet book! I love how the text of book is a song, and even more so...the text is so poignant. Focusing on relationships and taking care of our environment, the book helps us see what is really important.

The illustrations are lovely cartoon-like featuring lots of animals (father/son relationships) and are done with bright colors.

A great book to share.


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Day is Done by Peter Yarrow, illustrated by Melissa Sweet.

Reviewed from a publisher review copy.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

In this wordless retelling of the the fable The Lion & the Mouse with Pinkney's amazing illustrations.

The mouse accidentally stumbles onto a lion who spares his life. When the lion is captured by poachers, the mouse returns the favor by chewing through the rope and setting him free.

What I Thought:

I'm calling it now. This book should be in the running for the Caldecott. The illustrations are simply wonderful. If the stunning cover does not take your breathe away, you won't need to go past the endpapers!

Pinkney did a simply amazing job telling the story through his illustrations while adding plenty of additional details. The story is set in the African Serengeti and readers can spend lots of time on each page exploring the landscape and searching out animals placed throughout.

One of my favorite aspects of the book is how Pinkney gave such emotional expressions to the lion and the mouse. The attention to detail shows that Pinkney's work is nothing short of pure genius.

Run, don't walk to your nearest library or bookseller to get your hands on this work today! You won't be sorry!

The book also includes an illustrator's note that explains the fable further and why Pinkney chose the geographic setting of the African Serengeti, as well as why he chose this fable to retell.

Very highly recommended, for all ages!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.

Reviewed from a library copy, but this is one on my "to buy" list!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme ghostwriten by Bobbi Katz, illustrated by Adam McCauley

In this book, a monsterologist presents their findings to the reader on a plethora of monsters in the form of correspondence in verse.

What I Thought:
This book isn't my cup of tea, but I'm not so into monsters! However, if you know someone who is...they'll love it! This book reminds me a lot of the Dragonology books that have been so popular without all the manipulatives.

This book covers monsters like werewolves, Medusa, the yeti, trolls, even the Kraken. Each of the monsters is presented in a poem, but also like a letter or other type of correspondence. The illustrations are well done, and very appropriate for this book.

Recommended, especially for kids that enjoy reading about monsters.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Monsterologist: A Memoir in Rhyme ghostwriten by Bobbi Katz, illustrated by Adam McCauley.

Reviewed from a publisher review copy.

Chicken Dance by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Dan Santat

There's a talent show tonight at the farm and the prize is tickets to the Elvis Poultry concert. All the animals are excited and really want to win these tickets! Chickens Marge and Lola want especially want to win and immediately begin thinking of what to do.

As the chickens try their hand at several different activities (and failing at each one of them), the ducks discouraged them every step of the way.

That night, as each of the animals perform their talent, the chickens become more nervous as they don't have anything prepared! They just "wing it," coming up with the next big dance craze.

And who was watching the whole time?? You'll have to read it to find out!

What I Thought:
This is a super cute book! Kids will love it for the dancing chickens and the idea of chickens dancing, bowling, and even swimming! Adult will like it, especially those who enjoy anything dealing with "Elvis" as the "King" is brought to life in chicken form!

The illustrations are great, make sure you check out the endpapers as they are really cute!

A great read. Pair it up with Doreen Cronin's Thump, Quack, Moo for a fun farmyard talent show storytime.


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Chicken Dance by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Dan Santat.

Reviewed from a publisher review copy.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

How to Potty Train Your Monster by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Mike Moon

In this "training guide" to teach monsters how to use the potties in ten easy steps.

For instance, monsters are not ready to potty train until they are 7 feet tall and and at least 200 years old. Needless to say, they will need a special BIG potty! Also, they need lots of encouragement and patience from their parents.

What I Thought:
What an adorable book, perfect for the potty training crowd! I love how DiPucchio took the basic potty training tips that most parents follow and make them fun by adding the monster twist. The monsters are silly and quite funny and I would imagine that kids will giggle their way right to the potty!

I love the illustrations that portray the monsters in bright and bold colors. The "Warning" boxes about potty training monsters add another special touch to the book.

Give this book to any parent or child who is going through the potty training process and just wait for the giggles!


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: How to Potty Train Your Monster by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Mike Moon.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee, illustrated by Dan Santat

Bobby is a fourth grader who is having a little rough patch with his girl classmates. His best friend changed over the summer and is acting much more like a girl than he remembers. Did I mention his best friend is a girl which means that they can't be friends at school because that would be just wrong! Bobby finds himself accidentally offending the girls starting somewhat of a boy vs. girl war.

What I Thought:
This is a super fun book that I had a blast reading. Bobby is a neat character...he is the only son of a former famous professional football player and his dad is a stay at home dad who does his best. Bobby has asthma and allergies and can't do a lot of things that other kids do, like have a pet with fur. He is a kind and sweet kid who just likes to have fun!

I think a lot of kids will relate with Bobby and enjoy this novel.

Highly recommended, especially for the older elementary set.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee, illustrated by Dan Santat

Reviewed from a library copy.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Revenge of the Itty Bitty Brothers: Who Shrunk Daniel Funk #3 by Lin Oliver, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin

The Itty Bitty Brothers are back! When we last left them, Daniel was still working to figure out what exactly made him shrink to the size of one's big toe. The mystery is solved in this book and the boys use it to their advantage. (You'll just have to read the book to find the reason!)

Now that Daniel can control his shrinking, Pablo comes up with "Pablo's Phat Phive" in which the twins spend the whole day doing very awesome things...that only people that are inches tall can accomplish.

The finale to the "phive" is being launched in rockets that Daniel's science club are working on and launching at Le Brea Tar Pits.

Sounds like a good idea? You'll have to read it to find out!

What I Thought:
First off, how cool would it be to be the size of a big toe and be launched off in a rocket? Totally cool, and kind of terrifying.

The Funk brothers are a plain old good time, a great read. I love the entire eccentric family, and how Daniel's heart is just as big as the sky. The brotherly bonding in this book is so sweet, and you know how important these guys are to one another.

This is book three of this series, and I think readers will need to have the background story on Daniel and Pablo. Read this series in order!

Give this book to any mid-elementary/middle school reader...they'll love it! (But especially the boys!)

Very highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Revenge of the Itty Bitty Brothers: Who Shrunk Daniel Funk #3 by Lin Oliver, illustrated by Stephen Gilpin.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell

One of Julie Powell's greatest childhood memories is her mom making Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon for a dinner party. She also loved flipping through her mother's copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

Now, Julie is quickly approaching the dreaded 3-0, her dream of becoming an actor didn't work out and she eventually accepted the invitation to turn a temp job into a full time job--as a secretary, she has a "syndrome" that makes it difficult for her to have a child, and her and her husband moved into a small apartment. But she loves to cook!

Eric, Julie's husband suggests that Julie take on a challenge and Julie decides to work through the Master the Art of French Cooking in one year, recording every success, failure, and disaster with a blog.

Along the way, Julie shares snippets taken from Julia's life.

As she works through her hefty tasks, Julie shares her life, her cooking experiences, and how Julia Child--in one form or another--changed her life.

What I Thought:
What an interesting book! I will be honest, it wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I had seen the movie before reading the book which usually is not a smart thing to do!

The movie and the book do differ quite a bit, but I think that is a great thing.

The book gets into a lot of background of why Julie took on this project, her family's feelings about her endeavor, emotional breakdowns and stories about many of the dishes both the ones to eat and the ones to clean! There are several snippets of Julia's life, mostly ones of her years before she found her cooking.

This book was kind of hard for me to get through, as I said I ruined it by seeing the movie first. (I so know better than to do that!) However, I think that it was an interesting read and I feel inspired to cook! (Maybe even try a Julia Child recipe!)

Recommended, especially for foodies!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell

Reviewed from a library copy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Roscoe Riley Rules #7 Never Race a Runaway Pumpkin by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Brian Briggs

It's almost time for the Fall Festival and the local bookstore is hosting a fun contest: Guess the Weight of the HUGE pumpkin. The winner will receive a lot of books for their school library (the number of books as the pumpkin weighs!) as well as candy, as much candy as the pumpkin weighs!

Roscoe's teacher uses this chance as a "learning opportunity" to teach about estimation. However, the lesson gets interrupted with a discussion about superstitions.

When Roscoe learns of this contest during his school library time, he is so excited! After an afternoon of clothes shopping, Roscoe's mom stops by the bookstore so they can guess.

But in the bookstore Roscoe is distracted by a black cat. Roscoe is certain that the black cat is bad luck. He never actually gets to put his pumpkin guess into the jar! The next day, Roscoe's dad takes him back...and he encounters the black cat again!

Will Roscoe be brave enough to put in his entry?

What I Thought:
Well, its no secret that I am a HUGE fan of Roscoe Riley.

This is another fantastic installment in this series. Roscoe is such a sweet character, and all boy! He has a kind heart and the best of intentions that sometimes just doesn't work out like he thought.

A wonderful book for elementary readers.

A fantastic read. Very highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Roscoe Riley Rules #7 Never Race a Runaway Pumpkin by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Brian Biggs.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

So sad...

One of my school friends passed along this link to a school listserv today.

I feel so sad for all the people in Philadelphia as their library will be closing on October 2 due to the lack of "the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg."

All branches, regional, and central libraries will be closed.

No more books (all current checked out books due back on 10/1), no more children's/teens programming, no more educational classes, no more outreach to the community.


Shame on these people in the State Legislature in Harrisburg. I hope you realize how important the libraries are to a community before its too late.

As my friend said: "Benjamin Franklin is rolling over in his grave."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

Elijah was the first free child to be born in Buxton, a settlement in Canada consisting of mostly runaway slaves who found freedom by escaping from their masters and surviving treacherous conditions.

Now, at eleven years old in the year 1860 he tells readers the story of the happenings of Buxton and its cast of characters, including the "Reverend" who tricks Elijah several times, the arrival of new citizens into the settlement, school, and a powerful ending that you'll just have to discover for yourself.

What I Thought:
I listened to the audio version of this book and all I can say is WOW. This is a story that everyone should experience, whether it be via the print or audio version. The story is read by Mirron Willis and is so unbelievably well done you won't want to turn it off!

I love Elijah's story, and you will watch him bloom from a boy to a man as you read (or listen!). The story is full of boy hijinks, solid stories about numerous people and just lots of fun with a true sense of history. Speaking of history, make sure you read the afterword as Curtis gives more insight into the Buxton settlement and encourages readers to find out more about it. Which I totally plan on doing!

This is a must read.

Very highly recommended.

The book was awarded a Newbery Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor and the audiobook was awarded an ALA Notable Recording and Odyssey Honor.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Book Day...

We'll be getting a couple of new books over the next few's arrival is The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks.

I ordered this book months ago when I saw that Sparks was releasing this one, and totally forgot it was coming until I got the email notification from Amazon. What a pleasant surprise!

I can't wait to read this one...I don't even know what it is about...but sadly I think it will just have to wait until winter break from school. :(

Hurrah for new book day!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Potato Chip Puzzles by Eric Berlin

Winston Breen loves puzzles, all kinds of puzzles. He makes up puzzles when he is bored, he can find a puzzle out of just about anything!

One day Winston is called into the principal's office to help figure out a puzzle, which is actually an invitation to participate in a day long contest full of puzzles and a chance to win $50,000 for his school.

On the day of the competition, the team is so excited and their teacher/supervisor is all business with high expectations. The day starts off rocky...with a flat tire and delays. With a contest that is built like a scavenger hunt full of puzzles any delay is costly!

As the day goes on, several of the teams are neck and neck. But something is strange...could there be a cheater amongst the groups?

What I Thought:
This is definitely a very fun concept for a novel. It has a very fun story as the players rush all around town looking for and solving puzzles as well as a sense of mystery and detective work as Winston and his team try to find the cheater.

But the unique part of the story is the many puzzles that are included in the book for the readers to work along with the characters. Every puzzle that Winston works in the book is available for the reader to work.

This book is perfect for fans of the Blue Balliet series that include codes, Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3 and The Calder Game. There is another book written about Winston called The Puzzling World of Winston Breen, it is actually the first book in this new series and I hope to get my hands on it soon.

One note, the puzzles are available to do right in the book. In the foreword, the author directs readers to a website where they can print out the puzzles if they don't want to write in the book. As a librarian in a public library, I'm kind of worried that someone will work these puzzles in the book and ruin the fun for future readers. I'm working on a way to prevent this from happening...maybe putting some laminate over the puzzles with a note to print the puzzles from the internet to work. (Which is a 29 page document! That's a lot of puzzles!)

Overall, a super book.

Highly Recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Potato Chip Puzzles by Eric Berlin

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Book by Mordicai Gerstein

Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in a book. When the book is closed, the family sleeps, but when it is opened stories are told. The little girl in the book asks one day what their story is about...and each of the family members (animals included!) tell her about their story. But the girl doesn't have a story, so she sets off on a journey to find one.

As she travels throughout the various pages she learns of different types of stories, such as science fiction, fairy tales, historical fiction, mysteries, etc. At the end, she finally realizes what she will do about her situation...she will write her own story!

What I Thought:
What an interesting book concept! This book is simply charming. At one point a goose informs the girl that she had better find her story or the readers will close the book! The girl is surprised at the concept of "readers" and the goose directs her attention up and the "readers" startle her. So cute.

This book is a wonderful way to teach kids different types of story genres and also encourages them to write their own story. The illustrations are fitting for the book, there are many pages where there is minimal art with much white space, but that shows the characters progressing along the story.

Most of the text is dialogue between characters, shown in dialogue bubbles with some "narrative" text.

Overall, this is a fantastic book that is sure to be a hit in schools and school age storytimes this year.

Highly Recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: A Book by Mordicai Gerstein.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Neffenegger

This is a love story...the story of Henry DeTamble and Clare Abshire. Henry has the unique problem of being chrono-displacement (CPD): he time travels. Clare first encounters Henry at the young age of six. She is playing in the meadow near her house when a man in his late 30's speaks to her from the wooded area. Thus begins a relationship that will span age of times.

As Henry travels through time and lives in the present, the readers will learn of his life and of Clare's through both their voices. As with any couple, there will be happy times, sad times, difficult times. But as with any good love story, love conquers all!

What I Thought:
Wow. This is a book that I normally probably would not pick up, but I did due to the wildly positive feedback from friends and the upcoming movie release. And I am SO GLAD that I did. This book is a science fiction book that is driven by its relationship/love story elements.

This book is insanely good. Neffenegger does an outstanding job weaving together a solid story while telling parts of it in sections. The reader must pay attention as there is a lot of jumping around in time and ages (due to the time travel aspect) and it can be somewhat confusing to figure out where in the overall story you are focusing on. It's hard to explain, but the author accomplishes this in a perfect way.

The love story will simply melt your heart and leave you wanting more. This book will definitely be one that you will want to read over and over, because I am positive that you will get more tidbits of the story each time.

If you are planning to go see the movie based on this book, I highly recommend that you read the book first. I myself am excited to see the movie very soon.

This book is a must read for anyone who loves a good love story.

Very Highly Recommended!

Want to see more? The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Neffenegger

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

Imagine wanting to have a baby so badly, and when you finally conceive a child you are beyond thrilled.

Imagine your heartbreak when you find out that this baby has a life threatening disease that, if she survives the delivery, will cause her bones to break with the lightest touch. You, as a mom, spend your life waiting...waiting for the next broken bone and trip to the emergency room.

If you had the option, would you consider aborting the child that you love so dearly if you knew what life would be like?

This is the story of the O'Keefe family and how one decision to file a wrongful birth lawsuit can change the lives of so many.

What I Thought:
Jodi Picoult writes novels that I simply find captivating, and this book is no different. I read this book in three days while on a recent cruise vacation and would bypass fun cruise-ish events to sit in my room (or on the deck) and read!

She creates such intricate stories with such delicate precision. Several characters voice their story allowing the reader to understand the story from several different angles. There are several underlying issues besides the main plot line, such as relationship troubles, eating disorder/cutting, and the journey to repair broken roads. Add in the court battle, the medical issues and this is a story you won't be able to put down.

If you're a fan of Picoult, you won't be disappointed by this work, and if you've never picked up one of her books...this one is a great one to start with!

Very Highly Recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Greetings from Nowhere by Jane O'Connor

This is the story of the Sleepy Time Motel. It sits, lonely, tucked within the Great Smoky Mountains. It's owner, Aggie, recently lost her husband and can no longer take care of the place with all of its upkeep. Plus, there have been no motel guests in quite some time. So Aggie reluctantly puts an add in the paper to sell her beloved motel/home.

Enter Willow and her father. Willow's mother has recently left them and her father is looking for a new life. What better than to start over by running a quaint motel in the mountains?

Also entering the story is Kirby, a seemingly troubled young man being shipped off to boarding school by his parents. When his mother's car breaks down, the seek refuge at the nearest place...the Sleepy Time Motel.

And finally, Loretta and her family are in search of Loretta's past and find great comfort in the Sleepy Time Motel.

As the stories of this motel and these people mesh together, the true spirit of humanity peeks out, the love, cooperation, and how a little help from each other can make all the difference in the world.

What I Thought:
This book pleasantly surprised me! I didn't really know what to expect...I had a read a couple of positive reviews but didn't know much else about the story. Ended up I couldn't put the book down...I read it in a couple of hours during a road trip.

I fell in love with the characters and rather longed to go stay at the motel with all of them! I loved how the different characters ultimately fell in love with the motel and all pitched in to help when needed, everyone's stories wrapped up nicely.

There are several different voices that tell the story, which allows the reader grow a stronger connection to the story and characters.

Very highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Greetings from Nowhere by Jane O'Connor.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rick and Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage by Rick Burgess and Bill "Bubba" Bussey

The famous duo from the wildly popular Rick and Bubba radio show has written a book giving practical marriage advice using Biblical standards while mixing in stories from their own marriages and family lives, and of course lots of laughs!

What I Thought:
I'll be honest. I didn't have high expectations for this book--and I was pleasantly surprised! I don't get to listen to Rick & Bubba's show, I don't even know much about them except that they are funny and popular.

I think they did a perfect job blending the serious topics such as dealing with the death of a child with the seeming trivial issues while making the entertaining.

This book will make you look at your marriage and you will find something you could be doing better for your spouse, laughing all the way!

Recommended for all married couples.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Rick and Bubba's Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage by Rick Burgess and Bill "Bubba" Bussey .

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Friend or Fiend with the Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume, illustrated by James Stevenson

The Pain (Jake) and the Great One (Abigail) are back in their fourth book of adventures. Through several short stories, we learn about Jake and how one little letter can make a word totally different, a fun snow day, an interesting day with family in New York, and the story of how Fluzzy the cat came to live with them.

What I Thought:
I love this series of books, and every kid that I have handed it to has liked it as well. (As far as I know anyway.)

I love how each chapter can be its own self-contained story while the playing an integral role in the book as a whole. Readers will find tidbits of the story placed in subsequent chapters that tie everything together nicely.

This is a great read-aloud for young elementary aged kids, as well as a fantastic read aloud for families.

Highly recommended.

Want to see more: Check it out on Amazon: Friend or Fiend with the Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume, illustrated by James Stevenson.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes To School by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Ard Hoyt

"Zoe Fleefenbacher has one blue eye and one green eye, and bright red hair that went on...FOREVER."

Forever being an understatement. Her bright red hair is massive, and has a mind of its own, it can open cookie jars, turn on the TV, play on the computer...even multi-task!

However, Zoe's hair is not quite so welcome in first grade. Mrs. Trisk, Zoe's teacher is all about rules and wild hair is not permitted...until her hair proves just how helpful it can be!

What I Thought:
This a wildly imaginative book that is just plain fun. Being a girl who can't seem to grow her brown fine/thin hair past her shoulders; a book about a wild, thick, red hair is just plain awesome.

This story is just simply delightful and the illustrations do Zoe's wild mane absolute justice. A delightful read.

Highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Hair of Zoe Feelfenbacher Goes To School by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Ard Hoyt.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Gone with the Wand by Margie Palatini illustrations by Brian Ajhar

Oh no! The fairy godmother is having a bad wand day! Nothing is going right.

In this story told by the tooth fairy, they work diligently to find the fairy godmother a new fairy occupation.

What I Thought:
I so love Margie Palatini! I read Bad Boys in college, but recently read her other books during some school-age storytimes and was simply enamored. I was so excited when this book arrived, I'd hear lots of good things about it...and was not disappointed!

I think this book has such a great premise, a story told by the tooth fairy about finding a new fairy job for the waning fairy godmother. She tries all sorts of new jobs: snow fairy, fairy dusting, sugarplum fairy...nothing works. Will she ever find a job?

The illustrations are fantastic, and enhance the story nicely. The story is fun and is sure to please kids everywhere.

Highly Recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Gone with the Wand by Margie Palatini illustrations by Brian Ajhar

Monday, August 03, 2009

Being a Pig is Nice: A Child's View of Manners by Sally Lloyd-Jones, written by Dan Krall

A little girl thinks about manners when her mom reminds her to "Remember her manners" when she leaves home to go somewhere. During her journey, she contemplates what it would be like to have the manners of various animals, and even a monster!

What I Thought:
A super cute book that I am excited to give a go during an upcoming preschool storytime. The illustrations are fun and colorful and the story is definitely fun and will be a hit.

What animal would you like most to have the manners like? I think an owl...


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Being a Pig is Nice: A Child's View of Manners by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Dan Krall.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Extra Credit by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Mark Ellio

This is the story of Abby Carson, a sixth grader from flat Illinois. She loves the outdoors, and her school recently put in a rock climbing wall that secured gym class as her favorite activity at school. She is a smart girl, but doesn't "apply" herself in her academic studies. Her actions (or lack thereof), lead her the the strong possibility of being held back next year and not going on to Jr. high with her friends.

This is also the story of Sadeed Bayat, a young boy who lives in hilly Afghanistan. Sadeed attends a small school where he is one of the brightest in his class, the best writer, and very fluent in English. Sadeed goes to school and also works at his father's booth in the town bazaar.

How in the world do these two kids' paths cross? When one of Abby's teachers offers her an extra credit project to help save her grades she begins writing to Sadeed's sister Amira as a pen pal project. Through letters, these kids see what it is like for someone else on the other side of the world, and make a new friend in the process.

What I Thought:

I think this book is a wonderful book, and one with a bit of a different twist of the school stories that Clement is so well-known for. I loved how he incorporated a student from another country. I especially appreciate how that student lives in Afghanistan, which I think is a country that we need to learn more about.

I feel that we sometimes think of this country and other Middle Eastern countries as "bad" or the "enemy" because all we hear about is the war and such. However, there are millions of innocent people who are simply trying to live their lives out to the best of their ability. I love how Clements included a character doing this in this book.

This may be one of my favorite Clements books yet...a great read aloud to a classroom. What a great resource for a social studies/geography project and how neat would it be to start a pen pal program to go along with the book?

Very highly Recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Extra Credit by Andrew Clements, illustrated by Mark Elliott.