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.