Thursday, December 30, 2010

Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka, illustrations by Francesco Sedita

It's the first day at a new school for Michael K. when he is put into a group two very strange kids.  One had eaten half his pencil, the other told him they were from another planet.


Michael K. just wants to get away from them, but throughout the day the two stick by his side, tell him all about SPCHDZ and why they need to recruit 3.14 million people or else the planet will be turned off.

What's up with these kids?  Could they really be aliens from outer space?

What I Thought:
Oh, Jon Scieszka.  Just when I think I can't enjoy your work any more, you come out with a gem like this!  It's a fun, and wacky book that I have no doubt that many kids will eat up and ask for more. 

One of my favorite sections of this book is the chapter where the hamster tries to explain what's hamster.

A fantastic book that you don't want to miss!

Highly recommended.

Want to see more?  Check out Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka, illustrations by Francesco Sedita.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Book two is out now!  I can't wait to read that!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean

Pete the Cat loves his white shoes.  So much...he sings a song!  But what happens when he steps in a pile of strawberries?  Will his day be ruined?  Goodness no!

What I Thought:
I was introduced to this book by Judy Freeman at a workshop I attended.  And SO FUN!  This just might be one of my new favorite picture books.  I cannot wait to read it to a group of kids very soon! 

Trust me...this will be a favorite of any kids in your life!

Very highly recommended.

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean.

Reviewed from a personal copy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Crunch by Leslie Connor

It's crunchtime and Dewey Marris is right in the middle.  There is a gas shortage and with his parents stranded hours away, it is up to him and his siblings to keep life running as smoothly as possible for his 5 year old twin brother and sister.  While his older sister keeps the home running, Dewey keeps the family's bicycle repair business, the Marriss Bike Barn, going.

Since there is no fuel available Dewey and his brother Vince are busy with the booming business.  While the duo try hard not to become overwhelmed, when parts go missing and it appears they are being robbed a little at a time, the kids make hard decisions.  

What I Thought:
An entertaining read!  It didn't take long for me to get involved in Dewey's story, Connor did a great job peaking my interest in the first pages.  I was interested in how the family would function during the gas shortage and while mom & dad were stranded hours away. 

This book also made me wonder what I would do if a gas shortage like this ever happened.  (I wasn't around for the one in the 1970's.)  In this book, people are riding their bicycles down the highway, which is an interesting concept. 

Overall, a good book with some interesting characters. 


Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Crunch by Leslie Connor.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Lynne Avril

Ginny loves reading and school.  But sometimes simple tasks for other kids like navigating the chairs at reading circle or cutting out paper rabbits prove to be a challenge for Ginny.  She has double vision, which makes things difficult for her.  When this is discovered at a school Vision Screening Day, Ginny goes to the eye doctor for glasses and an eye patch...making her Ginny the Kindergarten Pirate!

What I Thought:
This is an important book as it tackles a common problem for lots of young children.  Through the illustrations, readers get a sense of what Ginny sees.  The illustrations depicting what Ginny is viewing is drawn in doubles, just like her double vision.  We also get to experience visiting the eye doctor and how the problem is fixed.

This is a great story for kids who are experiencing vision problems, and for children who have friends with problems too!  It will help them understand what their friend is experiencing.


(Edited to Add...)  This book won a Schneider Award in 2011. 

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: The Pirate of Kindergarten by George Ella Lyon, illustrated by Lynne Avril.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile

Bink and Gollie are best friends, but two very different personalities!  Both love fun and through three short stories and illustrations we get a glimpse of life with this pair. 

What I Thought:
This is a keeper!  What a fun book.  It's a collection of three short cohesive stories that are simply wonderful and Fucile's illustrations take them to the next level!  He did an exemplary job portraying Bink and Gollie's different personalities in the perfect way.

My favorite story was the second one where Gollie went on an adventure to the Andes mountains...through a book!  When she reached the top, Bink joined her for a sandwich snack.

I really hope that we see more of Bink and Gollie in the near future.

Very highly recommended...I promise you will love it! 

(Edited to add...) This book is the 2011 Geisert Medal Award winner. 

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Bink & Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia-Williams

It's the summer of 1968 and three sisters, Delphine, Vonetta and Fern, are off to Oakland California from Brooklyn New York to visit their mother who abandoned them many years ago.  The girls are excited about visiting California and have grand ideas of all sorts of adventures.  They are also anxious about seeing the mother that left them so many years ago.

How surprised they are when the mother they meet is not the one they who would dote on them and care for them as most mothers would, but instead the complete opposite!  Their mother shows up late to the airport, doesn't ever cook for them , doesn't give hugs, and won't even refer to Fern by her name!

The girls are send to eat breakfast at a local center run by the Black Panthers and then stay for their summer camp. 

It's an interesting summer for sure, and one that will change their lives forever.

What I Thought:
This book is getting lots of Newbery buzz, so I wanted to check it out!  And wow, it's a great read!  I enjoyed the voice of Delphine and at times wanted to reach out and give her a big old hug!  Delphine has had to serve as a mother figure to her sisters for years, and she is understandably angry when her mother shows no interest of stepping into that role.  Throughout the book we grasp a better sense  of what makes their mother "tick" and wonder if they will ever come to an understanding.

The cultural and historical aspect of this book is wonderful.  Personally, I do not know much about the Black Panthers and that movement, and this book has peaked my interest in this time of history.  What a great book to include as a supplement to any unit about the 1960's!

This is a wonderful book, and I would not be surprised if it had a shiny Newbery medal attached to its cover soon!

Very highly recommended. 

(Edited to add...) This book is the 2011 Coretta Scott King Author Medal winner and a 2011 Newbery Honor winner. 

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: One Crazy Summer by Rita Garcia-Williams.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I Miss You Mouse by Greg Foley

When Bear receives a not from Bear saying that Bear misses Mouse, Mouse goes out to look for Bear to tell him something.  Will Mouse find Bear? 

What I Thought:
I love Greg Foley's books! The nice stories with the sweet illustrations are perfect for any toddler/preschooler in your life!

This particular title is a "lift the flap book" which makes the book interactive for its young readers as Mouse searches for Bear in a tree, behind a rock, and even in a strawberry patch as Mouse meets friends all along the way.

A fantastic book, but I will say that if I had realized it was a "lift the flap" book I probably would have passed on it for the public library because the flaps won't last very long in this setting!  However, it's one to definitely look into for personal collections.


Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon:  I Miss You Mouse by Greg Foley

Reviewed from a library copy.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Let's Count Goats by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jan Thomas

It's time to count goats in this fun and unique counting books.  Can you count the little goats, the pilot goats or the rowdy goats?  I know you can!

What I Thought:
Wow, this unique counting book is sure to be a hit with the preschool crowd!  Which, honestly...anyone could have foreshadowed with Mem Fox's wonderful way with stories designed specifically for this group and Jan Thomas' fun and colorful illustrations.

We are introduced to goats doing human tasks (take notice to how the goats have taken bites out of all sorts of things...beach umbrellas, luggage, airplanes...), and then count from 1 to 10 in the process.  It's like they sneak it into the story!  Very well done. 

I can't wait to read this one at storytime soon!


Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon:  Let's Count Goats by Mem Fox, illustrated by Jan Thomas.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama, illustrated by Loren Long

In this touching letter to his daughters, President Obama tell his girls about the traits they have and hopes they have, using examples from inspiring people from America's history: Helen Keller, Jackie Robinson, Jane Addams, Georgia O'Keefe, and many more.

What I Thought:
While President Obama's text is outstanding, the real winner of this book is Loren Long's illustrations.  These beautiful illustrations take the book to an entirely new, wonderful level.   I love how long included the President's daughters on each page, along with the inspirational person as a child.  With each page, the group grows. 

This is a wonderful book for any child in your life, and what a great introductory book for studying some of these important people in our nation's history.

I would not be surprised to see this book in the running for some literary awards.

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama, illustrated by Loren Long

Reviewed from a library copy.

Check out this video featuring Loren Long discussing the book. (Click here, it will take to the video posted on Amazon's website.)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney

Our favorite llama is back with some holiday drama!  The countdown to Christmas is on...and there is lots of activity.  Will the little Llama handle it all in stride?

What I Thought:
You can never go wrong with Llama Llama!  I love all of the books about this adorable character, and this one is no exception.

What I like most about these books are the bright and colorful illustrations.  I enjoy exploring each one!

Give this one to a child for a holiday gift I'm sure they will enjoy all year long!   I'm looking forward to reading this during an upcoming holiday story time!

Highly recommended. 

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Llama Llama Holiday Drama by Anna Dewdney.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

It's bedtime, and Little Chicken is looking forward to his bedtime story!  Papa reminds Little Chicken not to interrupt his story...but will he remember?  It's hard for a little chicken when one gets involved in the story!

What I Thought:
TOO CUTE!  I tend to have the bad habit of finishing other people's sentences, so this book hit right at home plate for me!

As Papa is telling the stories...classic childrens' stories like Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood and the like.  But then Papa gets frustrated as Little Chicken interrupts each story and finally requests that Little Chicken tell HIM a story!  (Which is quite entertaining!)

This is a super fun book, and I think will be a great read-aloud.  And an even better reader's theater story!

(Edited to add...) This book is a 2011 Caldecott Honor book.


Want to see more?  Check it out at Amazon: Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers

Does a goldfish have an exciting life?  You would be surprised in this memoir of the daily life of a goldfish!

What I Thought:
Who would have thought that the memoirs of a goldfish could be so entertaining!  I do believe this is one of my favorite picture books of 2010.  This book is so entertaining, and quite funny with wonderful illustrations to accompany the text.

Don't miss this's a gem!

Very highly recommended!

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) by Lisa Yee, illustrated by Dan Santat

In this second installment of books about young Bobby Ellis-Chan.  Bobby is a fourth grader with a working mom, a stay at home dad/former professional football star, a little sister who is obsessed with princesses, and an older sister who is the starting quarterback for her high school team.  Bobby is feeling a little un-special these days.

When he overhears part of conversation between his dad and older sister, he feels even worse.  Could his father really think they aren't alike at all?  Especially since he is not great at football, and really doesn't care for the sport anyway.  Bobby would much rather be learning tricks on his skateboard.

Bobby is excited to land the part of Sandy the dog in his class performance of the musical "Annie."  But when an asthma attack interrupts the performance and his dad rushes to the rescue, Bobby is even more embarrassed.  Will Bobby be brave and tell his dad how he feels?

What I Thought
Oh, I love Bobby!  In his first book, Bobby takes on the girls, and in this book he takes on himself!  I love how Bobby feels kind of unappreciated and unsure of himself throughout this book, only to find out he isn't the only one that feels unsure. 

I also really appreciate about this book is the strong family unit with the stay at home dad.  With this becoming more common, I am glad to see some children's literature with this family dynamic.

Bobby suffers from asthma attacks, and this book includes a great explanation on what asthma is and how it feels like to have an attack.

A fantastic story, and I'm looking forward to the next book about Bobby!

Highly Recommended.

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) by Lisa Yee, illustrated by Dan Santat.

Reviewed from a library copy.

(You can check out my review of the first book about Bobby, Bobby vs. Girls (Accidentally) here.)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney

In the fifth installment of Greg Heffley's, journal...Greg encounters that middle school rite of passage we all look back at with a grimace and a smile...PUBERTY.

That's right, this year during Health class the boys are separated from the girls for part of the class where they are lectured about hygiene, and later in the year they are given the task to take care of an egg "baby" overnight.  (Which is almost successful for our pal Greg.) 

In true Diary of a Wimpy Kid fashion, Greg manages to find himself in a few situations that he finds super embarrassing, and experiences some new his first lock-in!

On top of that, Greg is lectured about being responsible at home and when his mom decides to take some college classes, those responsibilities are piled on even more.

Why can't things just stay the same?

Greg comes to realize that growing's the ugly truth. 

What I Thought: 
Oh, Greg.  How I find you absolutely adorable. 

And all BOY. 

Being a girl, but growing up with a brother, I have an appreciation of these books because I SEE middle school boys in this book.  They will LOVE it!

And though I imagine a good bit of this book is lost on me (though I LOVE it), there are millions of kids out there that will gobble this book up.  And rightly so. 

Very highly recommended.  I'm ready for book six, because I just can't get enough!

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth by Jeff Kinney.

Reviewed from a library copy.

See my other Diary of a Wimpy Kid reviews here:

Dog Days

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin

When Oogy was four months young, he was used as bait for a fight dog.  The outcome of that horrid event is evident on the cover of this book...a good portion of Oogy's face was ripped off including his left ear.  By a miracle, Oogy was found by police and taken to the Ardmore Animal Hospital where in a number of events, equally as miraculous, he ended up with the Levin family.

One would think that Oogy would be a damaged dog with lots of anger and resentment towards humans.  Just the opposite!  Oogy has nothing but love and adoration of not only his family, but every person he encounters.

Levin shares story after story of not how his family provided refuge for Oogy, but how Oogy provides so much love for his family.

What I Thought:
When I saw this book on the new shelf at my library, I couldn't bear to pass it up.  Oogy's sweet face was so intriguing and within the first pages I was entranced by his spirit.

This is a story of survival, acceptance, inspiration and unconditional love.   It will make you angry to hear about what Oogy was put through at such a young age.  You'll laugh at his antics.  You'll fall in love with his spirit, and with the Levin family! 

This is a dog I'd love to meet!

Dog lover or'll love this book! 


Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

84, Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff

This is the story of an American writer living in New York and a used bookstore in England.   What started out as business transaction as Helen Hanff was looking for antique books in good condition blossomed over twenty years into a fantastic friendship.

What I Thought:
First, the story behind how I came to read this book.  While having a blast at the Southern Festival of Books with my dad, he ran into an old friend and they started chatting.  He is an avid book lover and enjoys sharing his passion with others, including mailing boxes of books to various small libraries across the country who most likely have very limited budgets.  When he found out I was a librarian, he insisted that I must read this book.  Not only insist...he mailed me a copy along with a sealed envelope  instructions that I couldn't open until I finished the book.  The envelope contained a very nice letter and a recording of a Helen Hanff NPR tribute in 1997.   Many thanks to my new book friend for this wonderful book!

So, the book.  Honestly...this is a book that probably would have never picked up on my own.  Which would have been a shame, because it is a wonderful memoir!  The book is letters that are written between Helen and her friends regarding the bookstore.   It's fun to see the formality of the first letters, then as the years go by the mood lightens and the correspondence grows to more friends of whom she has never met!

If you've never read this book, it's a quick read that is simply delightful!  I encourage you to pick it up and give it a read.

Very highly recommended.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helen Hanff.

Reviewed from a personal copy.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Comps are DONE! Time to READ!

Happy Day!  I took my comprehensive exam yesterday, concluding all the coursework and requirements for my M.S. Information Sciences.  All that's left now is to wait for the score to be posted, my diploma to be conferred and my teaching endorsement to be processed by the state. All these are out of my hands!

Any happy "Liz passed comps!" would be appreciated though.  I'm fairly confident I did okay, but there is always this sneaking doubt in the back of my head.  We'll just wait and see! I get to read for fun again.  Here are some things I've got lined up:

 Nightlife: A Parody by The Harvard Lampoon.  I'm a little bit into it, and it's entertaining.  If a reader was a Twi-hard, I could see it annoying them a bit. 

 Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes.  I heard the author speak at the Southern Festival of Books and I've been looking forward to reading this since then! 

I've got to re-read these!  Since I finished the last book, I wanted to re-read The Hunger Games trilogy in order back-to-back.  I'll get to it sooner than later!  

 I enjoy Nicholas Sparks' books, and I'm excited to dive into his latest work.  In his video talk on Amazon, he describes the book as being somewhat similar to The Guardian, which is my favorite of his novels.   Safe Haven was actually the first book I had planned to read post-comps, but I couldn't find my copy when I was packing for my trip across the state!  I'll have to remember where I put it.
The Cardturner by Louis Sachar has been on my list to read for a while, but after hearing Sachar speak at the Southern Festival of Books, it catapulted to the top.  

I saw Love in a Time of Homeschooling by Laura Brodie at my library and was interested.  There are a lot of home school families that visit the library, and a lot of people I know are choosing to home school their children and this just stood out to me.  I'm looking forward to this book!

So, there are the books up first!  I'm so excited to be able to read for pure enjoyment again, I'm sure it won't take me long to get through these.  

What's on your to-read list?  Share your list!   Is there anything you think I should read?  Let me know!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Young Adult Literature Seminar with TN State Library & Archives

Today I had the honor of being a co-presenter for a short web seminar about Young Adult Literature for the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

I had a lot of fun working on this presentation with Lindsey Wesson from the TN State Library & Archives and Roy Lee from the Linebaugh Public Library.

The presentation was recorded, and as soon as the link to the presentation is make public I will be sure to share!  UPDATE:  Here is the link:  

So, if you are visiting my blog from the way of this presentation, Welcome!  A few things about me:
  • My book blog is really more a personal book journal.  I don't expect anyone else out there to read this, or if they care!  This blog is a way for me to chronicle what I have read, and a way for me to look back at some good books when I am blocked on some great books to share with my library patrons. 
  • Though I should, I don't blog every book I read.  Sometimes I just don't feel like writing about it.  So I don't!  However, you can always check out what I am currently reading or just finished reading by checking out the right sidebar!  It's always updated as I start and/or finish a new book!
  • I am currently studying for comprehensive exams for my MIS degree from UT-Knoxville, which will take place on October 29.  Therefore, I have "grounded" myself from any reading that is not studying!  I have a LONG list of books I can't wait to jump into after I am stay tuned!
Thanks for stopping by!  I love feel free to leave one!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Southern Festival of Books: Part Three

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to the Southern Festival of Books.  I had such a good time, that I decided to write several posts.  Here is Part I if you want to start from the beginning, and here is part two!

After the "Make Your Own Yoda" event featuring Tom Angleburger, Dad had to leave but I stuck around.  I went a session about "Contemporary Military Families" featuring Dana Reinhardt, author of The Things a Brother Knows and Sara Lewis Holmes, author of Operation Yes.

This was a great talk where each author talked about and read from their books.  I haven't read either of them, but both are high up on my "to read" list.

And that was Saturday!

On Sunday I headed back to the festival to hear Louis Sachar speak.  I was super excited!  He gave a great talk about his newest book The Cardturner.  He also answered questions.  Did you know he had an extra role in the movie Holes?  He was the guy that had onion juice poured on his head.  He also discussed his writing style.

After his talk, I headed out to get my book signed.

Me and Louis Sachar!  How awesome!!!

And here is my signed book.  This is getting Newbery cool would that be?  I can't wait to read it.

Speaking of books to read, I came back with a long list of books I now want to read!   I hope to get to them soon!  I had a wonderful time at the Southern Festival of Books and am looking forward to next year! 

Now...back to studying for comps.  We're under three weeks away!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Southern Festival of Books: Part Two

This past weekend I had the opportunity to go to the Southern Festival of Books.  I had such a good time, that I decided to write several posts.  Here is Part I if you want to start from the beginning!

When we left off, I was heading back into the auditorum to hear Mo Willems speak.  I missed the first little bit of his talk because I was waiting in line for Jon Scieszka to sign my book. 

The part I got to see was AWESOME.  Mo read his latest book Knuffle Bunny Free in its entirety. 

Here is Mo reading his book Knuffle Bunny Free.  Photo Credit: Brooke Brown.

Listening Mo Willems read his books aloud is simply one of the best things ever.  I LOVE reading Mo's books aloud, but to hear HIM to it is just beyond awesome.  

Why, you ask?  Well, because of this...

 Photo Credit: Brooke Brown

Here Mo is whispering into the's the part of the story where Oma and Opa have a plan, and Mo was whispering into the microphone.

And this!
Photo Credit: Brooke Brown

Here Mo is doing a "blech" face after Trixie tries Opa's coffee in the book. 

Sigh.  I love Mo!

Okay, so after he finished his talk, we headed out and waited in line for Mo to sign books.  He had a very long line...but well worth it!

 Photo Credit: Brooke Brown

Here is my dad and I with Mo's extra large Knuffle Bunny he took with him on tour.  Knuffle Bunny made the photo rounds! 

And here is my autographed copy of Knuffle Bunny Free.  The trilogy is now complete!  Thanks Mo for signing my book! 

Next we headed down into capital for our next session, which we missed about half of while waiting in line for Mo Willems.  This session featured Tom Angleburger and Michael Buckley where they talked about the 21st Century Nerd.  I really wished I could have caught it all because it was really neat.   We got there during the Q&A session, where at times I was totally confused...especially with the video game talk and lots of Stars Wars discussion.  But that was okay, it was still really great!

A little bit later, Dad and I headed over to the Youth Stage to learn how to make an Origami Yoda from Tom Angleburger, author of The Strange Case of Origami Yoda.  You can check out my review here.   

Tom is super fun and so great with the kids!  It was a blast watching him juggle, talk about his book and then teach us all how to make a Yoda.  

Here is mine!  Isn't he fun?

Okay, that is enough for now!  Be back later with more! 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Southern Festival of Books 2010: Part One

This weekend was the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, event I have been looking forward to for some time now!  It finally arrived and it was just an amazing weekend.

I LOVE the Southern Festival of Books.  It is so fun to listen to authors that I admire and discovering some new ones that I want to check out!  The first time I went, my mom joined me for the fun and this year my dad came with me.  That always makes the festival even more special!

Another aspect I really enjoy about the festival is striking up conversations with fellow book lovers while waiting to have books signed by the authors.  I had wonderful conversations with an elementary school librarian from Nashville, a lovely family with a middle school student from Murfreesboro (and the mom has a personalized, autographed, 1st edition copy of Where the Wild Things Are...WOW!), and another fun family with two young children from Lawrenceburg.  It's so fun to hear about the books they love and such.

So here's what happened this parts!  Sorry...I had so much to say that I broke up the weekend into a few posts. 

First up, we checked out the book sale table. 

Thanks to hubby for the copy of Knuffle Bunny Free and to my parents for Guys Read: Funny Business and The Cardturner.  Happy Birthday to me!

Next, we headed into the auditorium for Jon Scieszka's talk.  I was super pumped to get to hear him...I adore his books and especially of his Guys Read initiative.  I did a huge project on it for a class!  In addition, I am planning a "Trucktown" party in January for the library! 

I knew his talk would be entertaining and funny...and I was right!  I loved hearing about his childhood (if you haven't read Knucklehead you totally should!) as well as his different books.  I now have an even great appreciation of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and The Stinky Cheese Man.  He discussed Guys Read and why he feels that initiative is so important.

 Here is Jon Scieszka at the Southern Festival of Books on October 9, 2010 reading a bit from his Caldecott Honor Book The Stinky Cheese Man.  Photo Credit: Brooke Brown.

Scieszka discussed the new book Guys Read: Funny Business which is the first book in an anthology of short stories written by guys for guys of which he edited!  This one is "humor" and then there will be several more featuring different genres: mystery/chiller, non-fiction, science fiction, etc.  So there is something to look forward to!   Jon read a bit from his section he wrote along with Kate DiCamillo.

After his talk ended, I hurried out to the signing colonnade and got in line for Scieszka to sign my book.  Scieszka was very kind and even allowed us to have our picture taken!

Here is Jon signing my book.  

Me and Jon Scieszka!  Awesome!!!!  (Thanks Dad for taking the photos!)

I then rushed back into the auditoruim to hear Mo Willems speak.

More about that next time!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Book Day!

I forgot to post NEW BOOK DAY a few weeks ago when my copy of Nicholas Sparks' new book Safe Haven arrived.  I don't read very many books that are not geared for kids and teens, but I always read anything that Sparks releases!

According to a little video I saw a while back (I think on Amazon?), Sparks said that this book has some suspense in it...kind of like The Guardian did.  The Guardian is my favorite Sparks book, so I have high hopes for this new novel.

It's first on my list when I finish comps and I have my life back! 

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Time Out....

I'm taking comps in 23 days.

Be back when I'm finished!

In the meantime, entertain me and tell me about what YOU are reading!  Leave a comment!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family by Steve & Annette Economides

The Economides family shares their tips and procedures for saving money in the grocery department.  This family, dubbed as "America's Cheapest Family" has fed their family of seven on $350 a month for years.

Impossible?  This family lay out step by step plans proving that anyone can do the same!  The book covers topics such as how to plan your grocery shopping and tips for stretching that dollar at the store by seeking out the deals, organizing your kitchen, using coupons, cooking in bulk, planting a garden, recipes, and even a bonus section for singles and empty-nesters.

What I Thought:

My husband and I have recently started eating more at home and being conscious of our shopping habits, both for health and budgetary reasons.  This book peaked my interest, and I found it to be very helpful!

The authors are very aware that their lifestyle is not the norm in our society, and that it took them a long time to build up to the efficiency that they now enjoy.  In their book, they are nothing but encouraging and understanding that what they do may not be for everyone!  With that in mind, I especially appreciated the tips at the end of each chapter written specifically for people with various skill levels in mind:  tips for those just beginning, those who have been doing it for some time, and those who have been doing it for a long time and are ready for a further challenge.

I especially enjoyed the chapters about once a month shopping and cooking and kitchen organization.  These are concepts that I hope to incorporate into our lives, but perhaps and a smaller scale.  (Especially since we don't have children!)

This is a great book for those who are looking to save both time and money in the kitchen!


Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half with America's Cheapest Family by Steve & Annette Economides

Reviewed from a copy provided by the Thomas Nelson Publisher Book Review Bloggers program.  This book will make the rounds among family and friends and kept in my personal library for future reference.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Top 100 YA Novels via Persnickety Snark's Poll

A while back, Persnickety Snark held a Top 100 YA Novels Poll and then tallied the results to create the Top 100 YA Novels. 

I didn't vote in the poll, but did check out the results.  You can see it below and I've bolded the books I have read.   It's 30 of 100, and there are LOTS of books I really want to read listed here! "to-be-read" list is never ending.

Top 100 YA Novels via Persnickety Snark's Poll
#100 The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley (1985) 

#99 The Pigman by Paul Zindel (1969)
#98 Hatchet by Gary Paulsen (1987)
#97 Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (2010) 

#96 The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks (2009) 

#95 Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols (2009)
#94 Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles (2008) 

#93 Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher (2001)
#92 Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (1994) 

#91 The Astonishing life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party (2006)

#90 Glass Houses by Rachel Caine (2006) 

#89 A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle (1980) 

#88 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (2003) 

#87 An Abundance of Katherines by John Green (2006) 

#86 The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (1990)
#85 Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead (2008)
#84 Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder (2006)
#83 The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2008) 

#82 Jacob I Have Loved by Katherine Paterson (1980)
#81 The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (2009)

#80 Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen (1998) 

#79 Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954) 

#78 Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (2006)
#77 Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (1971) 

#76 The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares (2001) 

#75 Feed by MT Anderson (2001) 
#74 The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley (1983) 

 #73 Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast by Robin McKinley (1978)

#72 Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson (2009) 
#71 The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner (2006)

#70 If I Stay by Gayle Forman (2009) 

#69 Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (1999)

#68 Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (2008) 
#67 Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen (1999) 

#66 City of Glass by Cassandra Clare (2009)
#65 How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (2004) 

#64 Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta (1992)

#63 The Diary of a Young Girl (1947)
#62 Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block (1989) 

#61 The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier (1974) 

#60 Fire by Kristin Cashore (2009)

#59 Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (2006)

#58 Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer (2007) 

#57 Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (2000)
#56 Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty (2003) 

#55 Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta (2003) 

#54 Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (2009) 

#53 The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper (1973)
#52 Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (1986)
#51 Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (2000)

#50 The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot (2000) 

#49 Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (1997)
#48 I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (1948) 

#47 Forever by Judy Blume (1975) 
#46 Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margie Stohl (2009) 

#45 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling (2003) 
#44 Sabriel by Garth Nix (2003) 

#43 Evernight by Claudia Gray (2008) 

#42 The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman (2000) 

#41 Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen (2008)

#40 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007) 

#39 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (1943) 

#38 Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (2009) 

#37 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling (2000) 

#36 Paper Towns by John Green (2008) 

#35 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978) 
#34 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)
#33 The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart (2008) 

#32 Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden (1995)
#31 A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (2003) 

#30 Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (2005)

#29 Harry and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling (2005) 

#28 Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1985) 

#27 Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce (1983)
#26 The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien (1954) 

#25 Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty (2001)
#24 Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (2007) 

#23 Graceling by Kristin Cashore (2008) 

#22 Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead (2007) 

#21 Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (2009) 

#20 Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen 

 #19 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999) 

#18 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling (1999) 

#17 Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951) 

#16 On the Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta (2006) 

#15 City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (2005) 

#14 Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868) 

#13 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (2007) 

#12 Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (2006) 

#11 Looking for Alaska by John Green (2005) 

#10 This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen (2002) 

#9 Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (2005) 

#8 The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (1967) 

#7 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2006) 

#6 The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (2004) 

#5 Northern Lights [The Golden Compass] by Philip Pullman (1995) 

#4 Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (1996) 
#3 To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960) 

#2 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling (1996) 

#1 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008)

I've been invited to participate as a presenter in a webinar that is coming up by my state library about YA Literature.   There are 5 of us who will be talking about our favorite YA novels, each of us specifically targeting our favorite genres.   I will be book talking my top 10 favorite realistic fiction books, and am working on my list of faves.  When I finalize it, I'll share!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Southern Festival of Books

If you live in the South and can get to Nashville, TN the second weekend of won't want to miss this!

(Image from

I am beyond excited for this event!   This is one of my favorite weekends of the year, and when I saw the authors at this year's event...well I was as excited a sixteen year old getting a brand new shiny car for their sweet sixteen.  Just ask the hubs...he was totally making fun of me.

But I don't care!  Just LOOK at this lineup...could it be more spectacular?  Seriously, I am counting the days until October!

Check it out for yourself here...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Clementine, Friend of the Week by Sara Pennypacker

Clementine is excited!  Her name was chosen for Friend of the Week at her school!  She rushes home to share the news with her family and best friend Margaret!  Her family was very excited, but Margaret didn't exhibit the same amount of enthusiasm.  (But if you know Margaret, this isn't that surprising.)

There are other exciting things happening too!  The third and fourth graders are having a bicycle ride on Saturday and Clementine is so excited to decorate her bike with the decorations her father uses to decorate the apartment building....that is until something important gets lost!

What I Thought:
I love Clementine!  This is another great installment in this series by Sara Pennypacker.   Clementine experiences some of the not-so-fun things about growing up...fighting with friends, losing something important to her, and the excitement of being chosen as the "friend of the week' and getting to share exciting things with her class! 

It's encouraging to see Clementine's family there to support her and help her along life's path.  This is a great book to give to kids...I think they would love it! 

Highly recommended.

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Clementine, Friend of the Week by Sara Pennypacker.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Jackson, Mississippi...1960's.   The Civil Rights movement is in full swing, but Jackson is not buying into the action.  There is still a very strong divide between the people that grips society to the utmost degree.

Meet Aibileen: a maid to a young white family and has raised 17 children...and lost her own in a tragic event.  As she goes to work everyday, to clean after the family, raise their young, and whatever else they see fit Aibileen grows more frustrated at the injustices.  But...she can't do anything about it.  Can she?

Meet Minnie: a strong willed family woman who sometimes lets her mouth get her into trouble.  After being fired for something that she didn't do, she wonders if she will every find another job.  She's tired of it all...what can she do?

Meet Miss Skeeter: a young socialite with a journalism degree from Ole Miss and a desire to become a writer.  She misses Constantine, the maid who practically raised her and was one of her closest friends.  While visiting friends, she begins to see how their help is treated and also seeks the truth about Constantine.  She decides to write a book telling the stories of many of the maids around Jackson, a very dangerous thing for both the maids participating and Miss Skeeter.

There's a lot to lose, but everything to gain.

What I Thought: 
Wow.   I have read several excellent books lately, and this is definitely one of them!  Stockett is an unbelievable story teller.  Through the voices of Aibeleen, Minny, and Miss Skeeter, Stockett gives a clear view of life for high society in 1960 Jackson Mississippi and the African American woman who worked for them.

Readers will get a clear sense of what it is like the women who work for the white families: the interesting love/despise relationship, how the ladies come to adore the children and it is made obvious the feelings are reciprocated; the embarrassment about being called "dirty" or being forced to use a separate all seems crazy in 2010.    But we all know these things happened every day.

Readers will also cheer for characters who see that this behavior is wrong, and take a stand to make it great costs. 

This is a fantastic novel, entertaining, enlightening, and perhaps most of all...a reminder of past attitudes that should never again resurface.

Very highly recommended. 

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon:  The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Willow Run by Patricia Reilly Giff

It's World War II and Meggie's family is making sacrifices.  Her brother is serving overseas and her family has made the decision to move to Willow Run Michigan so her father can work in a factory that makes B-24 bombers for the war effort.

While they are happy to be helping the war effort, it is difficult to leave their home in Rockaway and the beach to move to a large city and live in a large apartment building with thousands of other factory workers.  What's worse is they are leaving behind their grandfather and close friends.

Life in Willow Run is different.  There are lots of people and the living arrangements are very tight.  Meggie quickly makes friends and discovers what life holds during war times.

What I Thought:
I thought this is a great narrative on what it was like for children living during World War II and helping with the stateside war effort.  This book is the companion to Giff's novel Lily's Crossing where Lily (Meggie's best friend) copes with the war from her home in Rockaway.  I enjoyed reading about this time period from two girls with similar background, but different experiences with the war effort.


Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Willow Run by Patricia Reilly Giff.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Monday, August 02, 2010

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Can an origami Yoda puppet really predict the future?  This is what the sixth graders at McQuarrie Middle School want to know.

It all started with Dwight, a rather odd student who created the origami Yoda.  He often just wore it on his finger, but one night at the PTA Night of Fun Yoda made his first prediction.  And it came true!

Time after time, when Yoda was was asked a question, his prophecy came true.  Could it be a fluke, or is Yoda (via Dwight) up to something??

What I Thought:
This is an interesting book.  I love the whole concept of the origami Yoda and how the book is set up as case files with many different students telling their experience with origami Yoda in their own words and commentary from Tommy who started the case file and Harvey who is a die-hard non-believer.

Complete with middle school romance and awkwardness (remember those school dances?) and other shenanigans, this book is great for the middle school crowd. 


Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief MOVIE

I just finished watching the movie Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief. 

Wow.  This was definitely one of those movies that I could TEAR apart the differences between the book and the movie. 

The movie was good too. The book was better.

My thoughts:
  • This movie was quite a bit more scary and intense than the books.  I could totally see some younger kids who loved the books be kind of frightened by the movie.  (That being said, I thought some of the characters that were digitally created were pretty fantastic.)
  • One can read the book, and then watch the movie and get basically 2 completely different stories!  While the basic plot frame (like the general idea of plot) is the same, there are few similarities otherwise.  Which I can't decide if I like or not. 
One thing I did find exciting was the feature of Nashville in the movie!  Instead of the threesome heading to St. Louis and the arch, they went to Nashville and the Parthenon.  I'm a Nashville native and LOVED seeing Centennial Park on the movie screen.

Overall, I thought it was a very enjoyable movie.  I think I'm going to have to stop reading a book then immediately watching its movie counterpart...I spend to much brainpower picking apart the differences rather than just enjoying the experience.

So have you read the book and seen the movie?  What are your thoughts?  I'd love hear them.  Leave a comment!  


Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson & the Olympians #1 by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson can't seem to stay out of trouble.  He's about to be kicked out of another boarding school, where some events seem just....odd.

Upon returning home for the summer, he and his mother take off for a relaxing weekend when it takes an unbelievable turn causing Percy to battle against a monster and then running for refuge at a summer camp.

A camp for kids who are half-bloods...on half human, one half Greek god.

Percy is a wanted kid already, and is sent on a quest to prevent a war between the gods!   His time is limited, he is still figuring out his new life...will he succeed?

What I Thought: 
I'm very late to the Percy Jackson party, but glad I joined.  It's not one of my favorite series out there, and it did take me a while to get hooked into the story line but once I did I had to finish the book!  I'll eventually pick up book 2, but I'll have to wait for the title to go off the holds list!

Anyway, this book made me want to freshen up my Greek mythology knowledge.  I was pretty confused throughout the first part of the story trying to figure out what god did what and went with who.  However, by the end I felt pretty caught up, though I still think I should really do some brushing up before I move ahead in the series.

This is a super fun book that has all the elements that kids want...super kid hero, action...the works!

If your favorite tween hasn't read it yet...head on down to your local library and check it out!  I'm looking forward to reading book two, and check out the movie of this book.

Highly recommended!

Want to see more?   Check it out on Amazon: The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson & the Olympians #1 by Rick Riordan.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

In this memoir, Justin looks back on many of the conversations he and his dad have shared over the years. 

What I Thought: 

My husband follows Justin's twitter feed and has literally laughed until tears ran down his face.  When this book arrived at the library last week, I couldn't wait to bring it home so we could read it.  My sweet hubby let me read it first!  He got so tired of me trying to read some of the funny quotes to him aloud (I was laughing so hard that I couldn't get the whole phrase out in one breath) that he kindly requested that I not share...he just would read it himself.  :)

It's obvious by the title that this is not a kids book!  If you're easily offended by language this is NOT the book for you.  But if you're looking for a book that will make you laugh, this is it.  Justin's dad definitely shares what he thinks, and doesn't sugarcoat those thoughts with anything.  But through all the crazy conversations and quotes, it is very obvious that Mr. Halpern loves his family and only wants to see his children grow up to be great human beings.

As briefly mentioned, this book came from a twitter feed that is wildly popular...and in the fall CBS will have a show by the same name featuring William Shatner.   I'm interested to see how it turns out!  (And quite interested to see how they tone down the language.)


Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Eclipse The Movie

I went and saw The Twilight Saga: Eclipse on opening day.  I didn't go with many of my friends who saw the midnight showing...I had to be spunky for work that day!  But I did grab a ticket to a matinee on the 30th.

I like it!  I probably made the mistake of rereading the book just before the movie came out so I critiqued every bit of the film and it's accuracy to Stephenie Meyer's text. 

The movie was pretty good!  I think the producers did a great job sticking with the text and including all the major plot points and many of my favorite one liners.  I even giggled some out loud!

There were several points that were seriously changed from the book, but I understand that had to be done to keep the movie plot moving and perhaps even to tie some parts together that would have taken too long in the movie. 

I think I liked New Moon better though. 

But wait...before you begin the flogging...I have a theory. 

Eclipse is my favorite book...New Moon was my least favorite.  I didn't have high expectations for the New Moon movie, I had HUGE expectations for the Eclipse movie.  Maybe too high! 

Anyway, I'm leaving all the plot points out for those who haven't seen it yet.  I don't want to be a spoiler! 

I am rather looking forward to seeing the movie again...perhaps a second viewing will change my views!

If you haven't seen it...go see it!  It's a good one!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Movie Trailer

It can be found right


from Warner Brothers.


What I Love

A couple of weeks ago I decided that I wanted to reread Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer before the movie came out.  I typically feel very guilty about rereading books as my list of books to read for the first time is quite long!  It doesn't help that I feel spectacularly under read, which does not bode well for my professions.

Of course, if I cut out some TV, this problem may be thwarted.  But, I digress.

So when I finished Eclipse, I of course needed to reread Breaking Dawn.  So I did. 

And here is what I love:

I LOVE when I know how a book ends (because I've already read it) but I cannot remember EXACTLY how the ending happened.  It was like reading it for the first time having the knowledge that everything will be okay.  The journey to get there was practically new!   All the details came rushing back, creating that sense of excitement and drama.  It was awesome.

This is a pretty exciting discovery.  I've decided that I will reread the entire Harry Potter series comes out before November when Harry Potter 7, Part I comes out.  So while I know what happens, I'm excited to dive back into Rowling's world and relive all the wonderful details that creates the journey to the end.  It'll be almost like new! 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Lincoln and His Boys by Rosemary Wells, illustrated by P.J. Lynch

This is a collection of stories about Abraham Lincoln told from two of his sons, Willie and Tad.  In the first section, Willie recalls a trip to Chicago with his father, the lawyer.  The boys know that something big is about to happen, and Tad's father confides in him that he is about to run for President.  Tad's account of the trip is done in great fondness as he recalls many details of the trip: the train ride, waiting for his father at the courthouse while he works, meals together, and going to see entertainment.

In the second section, Willie narrates the experience of their family traveling to Washington DC after their father was elected President of the United States.  It is is an unstable time in America as war between the Northern States and Southern States is about to break loose.  The boys remember their father being carted off by the Secret Service, visiting their father in the Oval Office (much to the chagrin of his Cabinet...but they know their father loves the interruption....and playing in the White House with the Taft boys. 

In the third section, Tad recalls the painful experience of his brother's death and the effects that has on his family, and spending lots of time with his father as the war continues.  Tad sees the incredible toil the war has caused on his father, and he looks forward to returning to Springfield.  When the war finally does end, he observes his father celebrate victory in a most conservative and reluctant way and looks forward to returning home.

What I Thought: 
I adore stories about good ol' Abe and this one is no exception.  I loved how this book is narrated by Lincoln's sons, and it is quite obvious that the boys adored their father and the feeling was mutual.

I can never get enough stories of fathers who are just plain awesome. 

In the Author's Note, Wells talks about her research and how Lincoln may be one of the most documented personal histories as so many people left memoirs regarding this man and his family.  While this work is technically fiction, she points out that "The incidents in this story...are grounded in historical fact.  No detail was imagined or invented except the dialogue and the circumstances in which it took place." 

I love that Wells did so much research for this story and the result between that and her storytelling is that the reader feels connected to the whole Lincoln family, through the good times, and the bad.

Oh, and Lynch's illustrations are simply gorgeous.  Amazing. 

This is a wonderful book for those who enjoy Lincoln!  What a great short read-aloud for a class who is studying this president and it would give an exciting different perspective from the textbook. 

Very highly recommended. 

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Lincoln and His Boys by Rosemary Wells, illustrated by P.J. Lynch.

Reviewed from a library copy. 

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell

Could you imagine spending your summer living just like the frontier people of 1890 did?  Instead of spending your summer at soccer camp, or at the mall, at the spend two months milking cows, mucking stalls, tending to the garden and crops, cooking over a wood stove and washing the laundry by hand.  Oh, and don't forget the lack of indoor plumbing and running water. That's right...outhouses.

That's just what Gen experienced when her mother signed her family up for this frontier camp...where they lived just as they did during the 1890's.  This was the time Laura Ignalls Wilder was living that we experienced in her book Little House on the Prairie.

Upon arrival to the camp the "campers" are instructed to change clothes into the typical 1890 fashion and relinquish any item that was not time period appropriate.  Including cell phones, iPods...everything.  Gen manages to talk her way into keeping her facial soap...but in the box was actually her brand new cell phone.

Life is hard in the 1890's.  Their mom is learning how to cook using only a wood stove and the very basic staple items.  For days they ate corn grits and beans.  (Blech.)  Her dad must learn to tend to the corn crop while Gen and her brother figure out how to help around the frontier house, take care of chickens, and help their parents with the jobs of the farm.

Gen manages to stay somewhat sane by texting her friends back in the "real world" telling them all about her experiences and the other kids there, including Caleb the really cute guy and Nora who lives here all the time as her family runs the camp.  Even though they may be living in conditions like the 1890's, the drama that surrounds teens is exactly the same. 

When Gen's friend starts a blog with all of her texts, things get crazy.  And Gen doesn't even know!  Will Gen and her family survive? 

What I Thought: 
This book has such an interesting concept, I literally couldn't put it down!  I LOVE the Little House books and always thought it would be cool to live in that era.  But wow!  The work that entails living this life....we are definitely spoiled rotten living now in 2010!

Gen's family dynamic definitely changes throughout their experience.   I truly enjoyed "watching" them change...each of them.  The teenage drama keeps the book "real" and set in the current times.  Every good book has to have a little romance with drama mixed in right? 

Overall, a great book!  I think a lot of people, especially those into frontier historical fiction will enjoy this.

Highly recommended.

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell.

Reviewed from a library copy.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown

Stanley was just a normal boy, until one morning he woke to find that his bulletin board had fallen off the wall during the night, flattening Stanley into a boy who was paper-thin!  
After many failed attempts to return him to normal size, it determined Stanley would have to keep his thin state.  At first it was very fun, Stanley could slide under doors, travel through the mail, be a kite...he even helped solve a mystery at the local art gallery.

But eventually Stanley doesn't like his thinness...people keep making fun of him!  Will he ever find a way to return to his original size?

What I Thought: 
Such a cute story...I can see why this story has been a favorite with generation after generation.   The thought of being one inch thick and the benefits that could entail are endless!  

The Flat Stanley story has been used in so many creative ways, probably the most familiar is creating your own Flat Stanley and mailing him all over the world with a request to track his adventures.  Or, creating your own and taking him on your own adventures keeping a journal of his fun journeys.  

There is a new series of Flat Stanley books featuring some of his can check them out here:  

This is a super fun book and character that I hope will stick around for generations to come!

Very highly recommended.  

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stephenie Meyer

Bree Tanner is a brand new vampire living in Seattle.  She was created by she--that's all she knows.  Bree lives in a house with twenty+ other newborns with leader Riley who instructs the group on when they can go out and hunt.  They've been instructed to stay as low-key as possible to avoid being noticed.

Yeah, good luck with that.  The Seattle news is consistently reporting of unexplained deaths in the area, causing even more unsteadiness within the house.

Bree befriends another young vampire Diego and together they begin to put together the pieces that all they have been told is not what it seems.  When the duo overhears a conversation between "she," Riley and several "dark hooded figures," the understand that they have been created for a fight.

If you've read know the rest of the story, but through Bella's eyes.  Read this to discover the story through another fascinating point of view: the young vampire Bree Tanner.  Things may not be what it seems!

What I Thought:
What a fascinating novella!  Meyer has taken a character from her novel Eclipse and fleshed out her entire vampire life.  (Short as a life as it was.)

It makes one remember that there are truly two sides to every story. 

One thing I found interesting about this book was that there was no chapter breaks.  This novella is 175 pages long, and it's straight through.  And every bit of it is fluid!  The only reason I even missed the breaks was when I needed to stop reading to take care of other things, like cooking dinner.  I found it hard to find a stopping point.

Oh, how I miss the days when I could just read all day without stopping.  Sigh.

Anyway, if you are a Twilight fan you don't want to miss this book.  You can read if online for free at through July 5.  But if you purchase the book, a portion of the proceeds will go to the Red Cross.   Which is awesome! 

Highly recommended!

Want to see more?  Check it out on Amazon: The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella by Stephenie Meyer.

Reviewed from a personal copy.