Monday, May 25, 2009

Front of the Class by Brad Cohen

Brad Cohen was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome as a child, but dealt with the effects of the disorder long before that. Tourette's was not a well known diagnosis and Brad was confronted with teasing and other issues all throughout his childhood. He was in constant trouble at school because he could not stop or help the twitching and vocal outbursts that happened on a regular basis.

When Brad was finally diagnosed, he took hold of his situation and begin to stand up for his rights and educate others about Tourette's Syndrome. He worked tirelessly to inform his classmates and teachers and to fight for his right for an education just the same of his peers.

Brad never gave up, and soon found himself a college graduate and hunting for a teaching job. While this journey proved difficult, he eventually found a job and the rest is history.

What I Thought:
This is simply an inspiring book about a man who overcame great obstacles to receive great reward. It's a book about not giving up and dealing with the cards you are dealt.

A wonderful book, one we all should read.


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had by Brad Cohen and Lisa Wysocky.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine by Francesca Simon

Henry is just horrid, and his brother Peter is just over-the-top perfect! In this book with four short stories about the duo, they visit the countryside, Henry builds a time machine, Peter attempts revenge on his brother for all the mean things he's done to him, and the family heads to a fancy restaurant for dinner.

What I Thought:
These are apparently some of the best selling books in the world, and is a the #1 selling children's series in the UK.

But I didn't like it.

Horrid Henry definitely lives up to his name, and he rather got on my nerves! This book is four different stories that work together to make a cohesive book. It's a good story, but what bothers me it that Henry is just rotten and his character doesn't change for the better at any point in the book! I guess I was disappointed that Henry had no negative repercussions for his truly "horrid" behavior.

Which could be why this book is so popular, as it is simply a fun story with no attempts to modify behavior!

Now I found Peter, Henry's "perfect" brother, just as annoying as Henry in his "goodness." Just as Henry could do nothing right, Peter could do no wrong. I kind of wanted to pinch his perfect head off. :)

This book is a series of books. I'm going to get these for my library, simply because I've seen them prominently displayed in several bookstores and I'm sure I will have requests for them. However, I'm anxious to see if they circulate and what kids think of them!

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Horrid Henry and the Mega-Mean Time Machine by Francesca Simon

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sing a Song of Tuna Fish: A Memoir of My Fifth Grade Year by Esme Raji Coddell

This book documents Esme Codell's fifth grade year, which was probably very different than the fifth grade experience of a lot of people! Esme grew up in Chicago in the 70's which provided a backdrop for a lot of interesting characters and stories.

What I Thought:
I am a fan of Esme Raji Codell! Ever since I head her book, Educating Esme, which is the diary of her first year teaching. (It was a requirement of my teacher certification program, and should be required teachers of teachers-in-training everywhere!) She's also written several other books for kids, all of them are really great.

I enjoyed this book because it gives a peak into Esme's life and the interesting childhood that she experienced. I found especially intriguing was the school her parents sent her to---where the kids chose what they wished to do each day. They could sign up for math or reading if they felt like it. Esme mentions that she spent many days writing screenplays and recruiting classmates to act them out! Sounds great fun, but when Esme transfers to a "normal" school she finds that she is sorely lacking in her math skills because she did not sign up for math lessons in her old school.

Overall, I think this is a great book that provides an interesting glimpse into a different way of living for a lot of people. This would be a great story to read to any fifth grader and compare/contrast the times, their lives, and experiences.

This book would also be a great way to encourage kids to start their own memoirs, so they can prevent getting "grown-up amnesia" -- where we forget our childhood as we grow to adulthood.


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Sing a Song of Tuna Fish: A Memoir of My Fifth Grade Year by Esme Raji Coddell.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Be Back Soon

So I'm not getting a chance to read much these days as I am busy, busy preparing for my library's 2009 Summer Reading Program.

I over plan (is there such a thing??) in hopes that it runs smoothly and only minor troubleshooting will have to happen.

We'll see!

Anyway, as soon as I get a chance to pick up a book and blog, I'll be back.

In the meantime, check out the sidebar for some of my favorite book bloggers. (They're way better than me anyway!)


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

In this graphic novel, the lunch ladies are super secret undercover spies, complete with cool spy gadgets-made from kitchen utensils!

One day a very odd substitute teacher arrives and sparks suspicion. The teacher he is subbing for has not missed a day in decades, and assigns so much work it is impossible to finish!

Thankfully, the lunch ladies are on duty to save the day!

What I Thought:
Oh my! What a fun book! This is going to be a sure hit with the elementary, maybe middle school crowd! It is a very imaginative and creative book. It's a graphic novel which makes it a fun read as the action is drawn in the illustrations. Illustrations are done in black and white, with some yellow accents.

There was a few points that I particularly enjoyed:
*I loved all the creative gadgets the lunch ladies use: the spatula helicopter, the hot dog nun-chucks, chicken nugget bombs, and cafeteria tray computer. So creative!

*I loved how the author steered away from stereotypes. There are three kids who decide to follow the lunch ladies to see what they do in their spare time. A "cool" looking guy, a "nerdy" looking guy with glasses, and a girl. One may automatically come to conclusions about these kids, but you would be wrong!! The "cool" kid is actually kind of timid and easily scared, the "nerdy" kid is brave and athletic, and the girl is strong and will stand her ground...even against the class bully! Well done!

*The cliff hanger! There's more of this series to come!

I've had these on order for a while now, though they will not be published until July 2009. I can't wait to put this book in a kid's hand this summer!


Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett J. Krosoczka.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mao and Me by Chen Jiang Hong

This is the story of a young boy growing up in the midst of the Cultural Revolution in China, 1960's.

What I Thought:
Interesting book. I do not know much about the Cultural Revolution and the history of China in general, but this book was informative and gave an interesting viewpoint of what it was like to grow up in a communist society.

The illustrations are drawn in comic style blocks, which gives the story movement. The drawings themselves are amazing, filled with so much detail that shows the realities of how the little boy grew up. Each page has a short section of text, but make sure that you spend the time following the story through the illustrations.

A superb book to share when studying China, the Cultural Revolution, and Mao.

Highly Recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Mao and Me by Chen Jiang Hong.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Take the Lead, George Washington by Judith St. George, illustrated by Daniel Powers

This book includes stories and adventures of George Washington's childhood from a very young boy living in on Pope's Creek in Virginia, to the ripe age of sixteen at the conclusion of a surveying trip. We learn about the death of his mother, remarriage of his father, new siblings, how he idolized older brothers, his hopes, his dreams, and adventures all along the way.

What I Thought:
This is a great story about George Washington's childhood that gives readers a sense of his character and life before he became a war hero and our country's first president.

While this is a rather long picture book, the text is split up into chapters and would be a very appropriate book to include in lessons on George Washington. St. George includes a biography and bibliography. The illustrations are bright and cheerful and while the people are a bit caricature-ish, they are inviting and fun to look at.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Take the Lead, George Washington by Judith St. George, illustrated by Daniel Powers.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Gooney Bird Is So Absurd by Lois Lowry, illustrated by Middy Thomas

In this latest book about Gooney Bird Greene, a rather eccentric student in Mrs. Pidgeon's second grade class, the class is learning about poetry. Mrs. Pidgeon begins every morning by reading a poem, and lately she has been reading poetry from the class room mother, Mrs. X. (Who just so happens to be Mrs. Pidgeon's mother!)

As the class learns about various types of poetry and even writes their own, Mrs. Pidgeon is spending a lot of time with her ailing mother. The class comes together with a touching tribute poem to remember a great lady.

What I Thought:
Well, its official. I adore Gooney and Mrs. Pidgeon's class. I'm saddened I have not read the books about this character before!

This book is a wonderful book to read to a class learning about poetry and then practice writing their own!


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

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Melanie Watt

Scaredy Squirrel is back! In this adventure, Scaredy is scared of falling asleep and bad dreams! So, he refuses to sleep, which has a slew of side effects like confusion, drowsiness, and confusion. One day, Scaredy reads his horoscope and it says at midnight all his dreams will come true!

So Scaredy prepares for the worst. Will his horoscope come true?

What I Thought:
It's no secret that I love Scaredy Squirrel! This is a super fun book that is bound to be a hit with kids everywhere. I'm excited to read it soon at a a Pajama Storytime at my library!

Highly Recommended.

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