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.