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.