Tuesday, March 31, 2009

This Full House by Virginia Euwer Wolff

This is the final book to the Make Lemonade trilogy which includes Make Lemonade and True Believer.

LaVaughn is a senior in high school, she's finally made it! She has seen the hardships of life, had her heartbroken, paid attention to her studies, a part-time job, and even participated in extracurricular academic activities.

In this book, she works even harder. She is accepted into the "Women in Science" Program and decides on her career path. LaVaughn continues to spend time with Jolly, Jeremy and Jilly, even helping Jolly heal a broken relationship from her past.

Will Lavaughn accomplish the dreams she's worked so hard to make come true?

What I Thought:
I think this is a wonderful conclusion to this trilogy. Readers who have been cheering and hoping for LaVaughn will overcome the obstacles and succeed.

It is wonderful to see this character who has every odd stacked against her, work so hard to overcome.

A wonderful trilogy, a superb book, very highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: This Full House by Virginia Euwer Wolff.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Three Willows: The Sisterhood Grows by Ann Brashares

Sometimes growing up is hard.

Three Willows is the story of a friendship bound by the past, but the future looks troublesome for the trio as each person branches out and follows individual interests.

But during the summer before their freshman year of high school, Ama, Polly and Jo will each experience very different adventures that not only test their friendship, but also learn much about themselves.

What I Thought:
I was so excited to get my hands on this latest release by Ann Brashares, author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

I was not disappointed! This book is kind of like a "spin off" of the Sisterhood series. A few of the characters make an appearance and the "legend of the pants" is a large part of the story.

I loved how this book's premise is that the girl's once strong friendship is not as strong, almost non-existent. As they trio has gone through junior high school individual interests emerged along with the peer pressure that comes along with this age.

However, as each girl goes on a summer adventure they each realize how important that friendship is and has really never gone away.

Highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Three Willows: The Sisterhood Grows by Ann Brashares

Bonus! Click here for an interview that Amazon did with Brashares introducing Three Willows. Click here for a book teaser and introduction to each of the three girls.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Posy by Linda Newbery, illustrated by Catherine Rayner

Follow Posy through her action packed day.

What I Thought:
Oh my. What an adorable book! I picked it up from seeing the precious kitten on the cover and just had to read it.

The illustrations are so unique, Rayner used watercolor pencil-crayons, acrylic and India inks to bring Posy to life and she certainly succeeded.

Check this book out, just for the off the chart cute factor.


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Posy by Linda Newbery, illustrated by Catherine Rayner.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Shrunk Daniel Funk #2: Escape of the Mini-Mummy by Lin Oliver, illustrations by Stephen Gilpin

When Daniel and his friend Vu are assigned a school project to make a diorama (not to be confused with diarrhea), Daniel's tiny twin Pablo wants to play a part.

In the meantime, Great -Granny Nanny, Daniel, and Pablo continue working to figure out why Daniel randomly shrinks to the size of his fourth toe, while keeping a secret from the rest of his family.

What I Thought:
A super fun book. You'll fall in love with Daniel, Pablo and the whole gang in this second book of his adventure. (Be sure to check out my review of the first book in the series!)

A great book to give to kids who love the Diary of the Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney. Highly Recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Who Shrunk Daniel Funk #2: Escape of the Mini-Mummy by Lin Oliver, illustrations by Stephen Gilpin.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Uh-oh Cleo: Underpants on My Head by Jessica Harper, illustrated by Jon Berkeley

Cleo and her family head to the mountains to visit their grandma, and after an interesting plane ride they finally arrive.

Cleo's parents take her and her twin Jack and their older sister Jenna to a cabin further in the mountains where they hike Mt. Baldy. Who knew when they got to the top it would snow. Scratch that....who knew that they would be stuck in a blizzard? Where they would have to use underwear as hats?

What I Thought:
A very cute book, and one I think kids will giggle over. I mean, what could be funnier to a 6 or 7 year old than underpants on one's head?

This book is written for early chapter readers. It is quite short and manageable for readers who are ready for more of a challenge. It even has a few pictures to enhance the story.

One thing I wish the author had done was to provide a little more background on her family. The first book, Uh-Oh Cleo, gives lots of information on the Small family and their six children but this book just jumps into the story. It's been a while since I had read the first one so I was a bit confused on who was who. (But ya know, I'm old and I bet kids would remember stuff like that better than me!)

Overall, a fun book. Recommended.

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

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Book Day!!

I'm way late posting this one, but better late than never--right??

I so love Jodi Picoult. No matter that I still haven't gotten around to reading her last book, Change of Heart (though I am listening to it slowly but surely), I always pre-order anything she releases.

So here it is! Jodi Picoult's latest novel, Handle With Care. I don't plan on waiting very long to read this one!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Forever Princess by Meg Cabot

It's finally arrived. Mia's last few days of high school, her 18th birthday, and senior prom. Mia should be having the time of her life, right?

Then why is it so complicated? Mia finds herself in the wrapped up the middle of her own lies.

Like how she got accepted into every school she applied to but told her friends she only got into the one since most of them got rejected by their to choices.

Mia also lied to her friends about her senior project-a romance novel, NOT a history of Genovian olive oil pressing, and not a single publishing house wants it.

Plus, Michael is back home.

It's going to be a couple of weeks to remember, but the question remains: Will Mia survive?

What I Thought:
I love Princess Mia and this series of books, and I'm pretty sad that this book will be the last in the series. However, this book is a wonderful ending to Mia's story as she wraps up the last four years of high school and looks forward to college and her future as the princess of Genovia. Cabot wraps up all the loose ends and readers can be happy with how all of our favorite characters will go off and enjoy their lives.

Highly recommended, but if you haven't read the other books in the series you will be missing out!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Forever Princess by Meg Cabot.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin, illustrated by Rosana Faria

As readers experience a bit of Thomas's world in this book of no color. As we learn what color means to Thomas, we get to experience how he experiences color, through touch and the lack of the actual color as each page is black and the description of smell.

What I Thought:
Wow, what an amazing book! The descriptions are so thoughtful as Thomas explains what the colors are to him, and the readers can feel the Braille text alongside the letters as well as "illustrations" of the color that is raised just like the Braille so the readers can feel it as well.

I think it is genius that the entire book is printed pitch black so that we may experience a short bit of life just like Thomas experiences every day.

This is an important book to share with all children and can open a great dialogue about people with vision impairments.

Highly Recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Princess K.I.M. and the Lie that Grew by Maryann Cocc-Leffler

When Kim started at a new school, she is worried about the other kids in her class not liking her. When she is introduced to the class, another girl exclaimed that her name was Kim too! So Kim quickly makes up a story that her name is not really Kim, but Katherine Isabella Marguerite and she Kim is simply the initials of her name.

A teeny tiny lie.

But the lying didn't stop there. She goes on to proclaim that she is a princess and comes from a royal family! This statement snowballs and her classmates are so excited to have a "real" princess in their class. They treat Kim extra special-they carry her books and share their lunch-and Kim plays the part. She continues to make up stories about her "extraordinary" life and enjoy the special treatment.

Until her lies catch up with her when she declines a part invitation because her grandmother (The "queen") will be in town for the weekend and all of her friends wants to meet her.

What will Kim do and how will she deal with all the little lies she has told?

What I Thought:
This is a super cute book! I think the story opens a great dialogue about how one little lie can snowball into a situation that can be hard to dig out of.

The illustrations are bright and exciting, and just plain fun.

This book is a delight, and teaches a great lesson on truthfulness and how it is okay to just be yourself.


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Princess K.I.M. and the Lie that Grew by Maryann Cocc-Leffler.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Stinky by Eleanor Davis

Stinky the monster loves his swamp, his pet toad Wartbelly, the mud and his favorite snack: pickled onions. He hates the nearby town and its kids because they like things like baths and apples.

When a young boy named Nick wanders into the swamp, Stinky is horrified to see that Nick has built a treehouse on one of the trees in his swamp. He begins to plan and implement actions that would scare Nick away from the swamp, like put Wartbelly in his treehouse or pretend to be a ghost. Nothing works!

But when Nick loses his hat and Stinky realizes how sad he is, he finds the hat and they become fast friends.

What I Thought:
What a fun book! The story is told in a comic book format with the text bubbles and usually multiple illustrations per page. The cartoon illustrations are colorful and have lots of details to explore as readers decode each picture to read the story.

I love the Stinky premise. This is bound to be a book that kids will eat up and will want to read over and over again. Here's to hoping that another Stinky book is on the way soon.

Highly recommended, especially for young readers!

This book is a 2009 Geisel Honor Book, an honor "given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American books for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year" (ALA.com).

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Stinky by Eleanor Davis.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Vunce Upon A Time by J. otto Seibold and Siobhan Vivian

Dagmar the vampire was a vegetarian who thrived off of vegetables and candy. He tended to his garden, but it could not produce enough food to keep him satisfied, and was quickly running out of candy!

Dagmar was wondering what to do, when a friend told him about the human tradition of "trick-or-treating." But, he will need a costume. So Dagmar works to come up with the perfect costume that is scary, as he is nervous about being around humans-they are scary! He comes up with the perfect costume (a clove of garlic-what is more scary than that to a vampire??) but is shocked when moths eat his costume before he can wear it.

Dagmar flies away, as a bat, and heads into town. After realizing he already has the perfect costume already, he turns back into a vampire and goes trick-or-treating with a ghost. They become great friends, and Dagmar is shocked and scared when the ghost takes off her costume and turns into a little girl! Will Dagmar overcome his fear of humans to find a new friend?

What I Thought:
I ordered this book for the library and had hoped this book would come in before Halloween, but it was about a month late. But that is okay, we will have it for Halloween '09!

This book is very fun. Seibold took such a famous mythical character, that may often be scary to young kids, and made it scared of them ! I have no doubt that kids will giggle at this story and relate to Dagmar's love of candy.

This book will definitely be on my list of Halloween read-alouds next year. Recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Vunce Upon A Time by J. otto Seibold and Siobhan Vivian.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Buffalo Music by Tracey E. Fern, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

Western pioneers Molly and Charlie settled in the Palo Duro Canyon and Molly completed her chores listening to the various sounds of the nearby buffalo grazing nearby, her "buffalo music." One day, hunters move in and wipe out a majority of the herds living in the area. Molly was sad, and missed hearing the buffalo.

One day Billie the cowhand brings Molly two orphan buffalo calves in hope that Molly can nurse them back to health and raise them to become full grown buffalo. Of course, Molly complies, and soon enough she has a whole herd of buffalo.

Eventually, this members of her buffalo heard will be used to repopulate the population of other herds throughout the country.

While this book is a work of fiction, it is based on a real person-Mary Ann Goodnight and her conservation work with buffalo.

What I Thought:
What a fascinating story! This picture is a springboard for all kinds of different topics: settling the west, buffalo, animal conservation, and even farm life! The illustrations of this book are outstanding, make sure you check out the endpapers!

This book is a wonderful read, one that I highly recommend, and I am sure this book will be raking in all sorts of book awards in the very near future!!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Buffalo Music by Tracey E. Fern.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words: From Accessories to Zany by Jane O'Connor and Robing Preiss Glasser

Fancy Nancy is a little girl who loves all things fancy. In this book, she shares some of her favorite "fancy" words, one for each letter of the alphabet. From canine to zany, glamorous to oh-la-la, after you finish this book you will have a vocabulary that is fit for a queen. (or king!)

What I Thought:
A great book for Fancy Nancy fans, and there are many of those out there! I think Fancy Nancy is adorable, and though I was never a little girl who particularly enjoyed getting dressed up and being "fancy," I find her fun and wouldn't mind being fancy like Nancy!

This is a great book that will teach readers some fun words to spice up their vocabulary.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Fancy Nancy's Favorite Fancy Words: From Accessories to Zany by Jane O'Connor and Robing Preiss Glasser.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Tricia Tusa

Alice can only sleep in a blue room. But her mother keeps bringing her non-blue things just before bedtime, like flowers, orange tea and bells. Doesn't mom know that Alice only wants blue things?

She sure does! When mom turns out the light and the moon gently lights her room a perfect blue color.

What I Thought:
This book is super sweet and a great bedtime book! At first I was confused wondering where the blue was, but was pleasantly surprised in the end.

I thought the illustrations were delightful and very fitting with the story and theme.

A wonderful book, highly recommended and would be a super read aloud, especially at bedtime!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck, illustrated by Tricia Tusa.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale by Grace Lin

A queen and king ruled over a lovely kingdom, but had a pain in their heart that would not go away. Even the most educated doctors and scientists could not cure them, but an old peddler gave the couple a set of glasses that revealed a red thread coming from each of their hearts. They attempted to cut the thread, but the only thing to do was to see where the other end was. Their long and difficult journey led the couple over land and sea to a small baby who was holding the other end. It was their baby! The couple’s heartache disappeared and was replaced by joy and happiness.

What I Thought:
Such an incredibly sweet story. This story will strike a chord with all parents, but I think families that adopt and especially those who adopt internationally will find a special connection with this book.

I love the premise, the first and last page show a family reading the story together, and then the illustrations portray the mother and father as the queen and king.

This book would be a wonderful gift for parents going through the adoption process. Highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Red Thread: An Adoption Fairy Tale by Grace Lin.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Babysitters Club Graphic Novels by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgmeier

Each of these books revive the insanely popular series "The Babysitters Club" written by Ann M. Martin between 1986-2000 in the form of a graphic novel by Rainia Telgemeier.

In the first book, Kristy and her friends form the club that allows parents to call all the girls at once and they split up the babysitting jobs between them. Each subsequent book continues the story and is told from the point of view of a single girl, tackling the problem at the moment such as:
*dealing with the prospect of a parent remarrying and integrating families
*a secret and understanding a friend with diabetes
*a fight within the group that lasts for a month
*growing pains and a parent who won't let their little girl grow up
*fights with siblings
*sick grandparents
*meeting new friends

Each of these books have been (slightly) updated to appeal to the current intended audience while keeping the integrity of the original text.

What I Thought:

I must preface this by saying I was a HUGE BSC fan in elementary/Jr. high school. I would buy the books in sets of four from Sam's Club. I would start at #1 and read all the way through, then begin again. My mom would be frustrated because it seemed all I would read was BSC books. And I was okay with that.

(However, I am sad that I missed out on all kids of good literature from that time period. I hope to catch up on that one day.)

When I was in high school, my mom told me it was time to clean out the room and get rid of things I didn't use anymore. So, I packed up the BSC books and sold them to a local second hand bookstore.

I want them back now.

Anyway, when I saw book 1 (Kristy's Great Idea) at a chain bookstore about 18 months ago, I ran to the checkout to buy it and immediately sat and read it. In about 30 minutes. BUT, it was like a time machine zapped me back to my 10 year old self. The stories of each of these are identical to how I remember and it was refreshing to see the story brought to life by the illustrations.

Raina Telgemeier was a huge BSC fan herself and has done the series well in these graphic novels.

These are a fun "blast from the past" for lovers of this series, and a wonderful way to introduce the series to young readers today.