Thursday, September 30, 2010

Book Review: The Circus Ship

Author: Chris Van Dusen
Published: September 2009
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Source: Library
Rating: 5 Stars

When a circus ship runs aground off the coast of Maine, the poor animals are left on their own to swim the chilly waters. Staggering onto a nearby island, they soon win over the wary townspeople with their kind, courageous ways. So well do the critters blend in that when the greedy circus owner returns to claim them, villagers of all species conspire to outsmart the bloated blowhard. With buoyant rhymes and brilliantly caricatured illustrations evoking the early nineteenth century, Chris Van Dusen presents a hugely entertaining tale about the bonds of community — and a rare hidden-pictures spread for eagle-eyed readers of all ages.

My children and I loved this book! The rhyming text in this book flows nicely making it a great read aloud. This book is just plain fun. Delightful, whimsical illustrations fill the pages of this book.

Our favorite page is when the animals are hiding from the Circus master. My children love doing hidden pictures so we all enjoyed finding their hiding places.

This is a book I would love to own, it's by far one of our favorite reads this year.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review- Jack Blank And The Imagine Nation

By Matt Myklusch
Published by Aladdin/Simon and Schuster Kids
Released on August 3rd, 2010
Source- Simon and Schuster
Ages- 8-12
5 Stars- Brilliant Story

Jack Blank doesn't know who he is or where he comes from. He doesn't even know his real last name. All Jack knows is his bleak, dreary life at St. Barnaby's Home for the Hopeless, Abandoned, Forgotten and Lost. Everything changes one morning when Jack receives two visitors The first is a deadly robot, straight out of one of Jack's favorite comic books, that tries his best to blow him up. The second is an emissary from a secret country called the Imagine Nation, where all the fantastic and unbelievable things in our world orginate-including Jack. Jack soon discovers that he has an amazing ability-one that could make him the savior of the Imagine Nation and the world beyond, or the biggest threat they've ever faced (taken from the back of the ARC).

I rarely post the exact same review on both Mundie Moms & Mundie Kids, but sometimes I feel I need to make an exception, as is the case with Jack Blank And The Imagine Nation.

Jack Blank is such a brilliantly written book, with an amazing setting, wonderful characters and a lot of powerful messages written within it's pages. It's a place where all the super heros & real life heros I grew up with and even never before heard of heros, live. It makes the extraordinary seem ordinary.

Twelve year old Jack Blank has been living in a horrible orphanage, where he's constantly picked up on the bully Rex, and finds excitement in reading his comic books. Jack Blank has no idea where he came from, where his family is, and what his real last name is. On the morning a killer robot from one of Jack's comics becomes a reality and tries to kill him, Jazen Knight, an emissary from a secret country called Imagine Nation, has come for Jack. Jack soon finds himself in a place that is right out of his imagination. The way to get there is by believing.

Imagination Nation is in constant motion and travels between the countries of our world, though the members from this nation are from all over the world, make believe, real and from out of this world. I was really surprised that I loved Imagine Nation as much as I did. One of my favorite places in Imagine Nation is in Cognito. A city where people can go to, to "disappear", not even the streets have names. Imagine Nation is made of all sorts of living creatures from normal people to ninjas, kung fu masters, aliens, sorcerers, androids, regular people and more. It almost felt like it has a more updated Star Wars feel to it, complete with it's own Yoda in the form of one of my favorite characters, Stendeval, who's wisdom and encouragement help Jack find out who he is.

I really admired Jack's character. His life hasn't been easy and it gets tougher as soon as he arrives to Imagine Nation. He's been infected by a virus from a feared enemy, the Rustov, as known as Robie-Zombies, who all but destroyed many lives 12 years ago, in an invasion. Jack has few people who believe he's not a threat, Jenzen Knight and the wisest leader on Imagine Nation, Stendeval are two of them. I loved their characters. They convey such powerful messages not only to Jack, but to the reader.

Here's some of my favorite messages:

* "Be the change you want to see in the world" (pg 169)
* "Change begins with the individual" (pg 179)
* "... always remember that the path you choose to follow is your own." (pg 181)
* "Knowledge is power." (pg 209)
* "...we always have a choice. It's only the brave who choose not to surrend where there's no reason left to hope." (pg. 297)
* "The best way to predict your future is to create it." (pg 318)
* "Never underestimate the power you have over what happens today. Never forget the power today has over tomorrow." (pg 467)

Jack Blank is out to prove he's not a threat, and it will take Jenzen, Blue, Stendeval, and Jack's new friends to help him in his quest. Jack alone must believe in who he is and what his powers can do. Jack has a power that has not only kept his infection at bay, but it can destroy the Rustov. When the evil Rustov robot comes back to kill Jack and reveals who he is, Jack will be faced with a decision that can ultimately change his future forever.

I know this book is written for grade and middle school aged kids, but I really enjoyed Jack Blank and The Imagine Nation. I was reminded of how much fun it is to imagine. I can't wait for son my to read this when he's a little older. Matt Myklusch writing it truly what kept me glued to the book. Jack Blank and The Imagine Nation is an awesome, action packed, must have book, with some great plot twists. I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series.

You can find out more about Jack Blank on Simon & Schuster's site here
http://tinyurl.com/2aegk5u

Jack Blank's official site here http://www.jackblank.com/

Author Cynthia Leitich Smith has a great interview with Matt Myklusch here
http://tinyurl.com/234go97

Book Review G.W. Frog and the Circus Lion



Author: George W. Everett
Publisher: West Bow Press
Released: August 9, 2010
Source: Author
Ages: 3-7
Rating: 4 Stars


Larry the Lion is distraught. His looks have changed over the years as he became an old lion. Losing his teeth was a big blow to his ego and inner courage. Along comes an unsuspected friend in the form of a very caring Frog. Along with some other critters from Frog Holler, and some creative genius, they fix up the old lion, restore his courage, and save the day!

I dismissed this book at first glance. It's been sitting by my desk for several weeks and I never took the time to read through it. The pictures are cute but there is a lot of text on the pages and I didn't think my daughter would like it. Another reminder to me to not judging a book before reading it.

Larry Lion is no longer the fierce lion he once was. He's lost all his teeth is no longer a fearsome sight. G.W. Frog and Gerald Grasshopper decide to help. This is a story that teaches that helping others can bring a smile to those we help and make us smile too.

The bright colored illustrations are perfect for preschool ages children.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books: Roald Dahl

Despite the popularity of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda and The BFG, Roald Dahl has not escaped being found on numerous banned books lists. Two of his books have been found on banned books lists multiple times.







The Witches appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999. Ranked #22 on the list due to its apparent objectionable content including witchcraft, stereotypes for women and devaluing the life of a child.











James And The Giant Peach has also found itself on numerous lists.


Josh Hanagarne summed it up nicely with this comment:
I must have read this book 50 times in elementary school, which was exactly what the banners wanted to avoid. Cited for racism, violence, mystical elements, encouraging bad behavior, revolting language (the Centipede’s song is a true masterpiece of the kind of gross wordplay that kids love).




Again these bannings leave me scratching my head. Although neither of these books are favorites of mine I see nothing warranting a book banning.



Instead of trying to ban them here is something worthwhile to do with Roald Dahl's books. Encourage children to read them. September is Roald Dahl month. The Roald Dahl Reading Dahlathon runs from September to December. By reading 3 Roald Dahl books kids ages 7-13 have the chance to win prizes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In My Mailbox

I'm really excited about sharing my review for these great reads!

For Review:

* Dear Hound by Jill Murphy, published by Walker & Company, received from Bloomsbury Publishing, released on April 1st, 2010

* Thumb Love by Elise Primavera, published & received Random House Kids, to be released on October 12th, 2010

* Leo The Snow Leopard, The True Story of An Amazing Rescue by Juliana Hatkoff, Isabella Hatkoff, and Craig Hatkoff, published & received by Scholastic, to be released October 2010

* Chick 'n' Pug by Jennifer Sattler, published & received by Bloomsbury Kids, released on September 14th, 2010

* Can't Sleep without Sheep by Susanna Leonard Hill, published & received by Bloomsbury Kids, released on September 14th, 2010

Along with these great children reads, we also received some great tween reads, which are posted on our Mundie Moms In My Mailbox post here http://tinyurl.com/378g6yo

* Emily the Strange Dark Times A Novel by Rob Reger, published & received by HarperCollins Children's Books, to be released on January 1st, 2011

* Vampire Crush by A.M. Robinson, published & received by HarperTeen, to be released on January 1st, 2011

* Father of Lies by Ann Turner, published & received by HarperTeen, to be released on February 1st, 2011

* Blood & Flowers by Penny Blubaugh, published & received by HarperTeen, to be released on March 1st, 2011

* Steel by Carrie Vaughn, published & received by HarperTeen, to be released on March 1st, 2011

* Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer, published & received by HarperTeen, to be released on April 1st, 2011

* Entwined by Heather Dixon, published Greenwill Books, received by HarperTeen, to be released on April 1st, 2011

* Teeth Vampire Tales edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (with contributions from Cassandra Clare, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, Melissa Marr and more), published & received by HarperCollins Children's Books, to be released on April 1st, 2011

* Plague, A Gone Novel by Michael Grant, published by Katherine Tegen Books, received by HarperCollins Children's Books, to be released on April 1st, 2011

* The Six Crowns, Trundle's Quest by Allan Jones & Cary Chalk, published by Greenwillow Books, received from HarperCollins Children's Books, to released on April 1st, 2011

Thank you to Scholastic, Harper Collins/Harper Teen, Random House Kids and Bloomsbury for this weeks wonderful reads.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Banned Books: Dr. Seuss

Today marks the start of the 2010 banned books week.

Most children's books escape being found on a banned books list that typically reserves places for controversial young adult and adult books. Once in a while a middle grade book finds its way on to the list and even an occasional picture book, such as The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.

Before I go on I want to share my opinion...and that is all this is, my opinion. I believe it's my responsibility as a parent to know what my children are watching, playing and reading. I believe in age appropriateness when it comes to books, movies and video games. Take the recent controversy over the book Speak. I'm a fairly conservative reader and I've read Speak. It's a well written, powerful book, but I wouldn't allow my daughter to read it at this point in her life. It's not age appropriate for my 10 year old. If asked I would object if it were on the library shelves at our elementary school. However I feel Speak is a book that would be appropriate on the shelves of a high school.

I'm not a fan of strong language, graphic sex and gory violence in books, movies or television. There are many books I have put down or decided not to read due to their content. I'm not saying those books should be removed from a public library, but I am saying it's my right as an informed reader to choose the books I will and won't read. That's not censorship, that's making a choice.

I personally believe that every book has its place, but not every book is appropriate for every shelf.

Now on to the banned book The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.

Once in a while a book banning makes me scratch my head. Why in the world would a book such as the Lorax by Dr. Seuss be banned? I read this to my daughter not even a month ago and could find no reason for it to be a banned book.

From 50 Banned Books that Everyone Should Read:
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss. On the surface this book seems it should be included in the Protect the Children section, but the reason this Dr. Seuss book is banned has more to do with adult issues. The book is an allegorical story describing the effects of poor stewardship on the Earth. Those opposed to the book, specifically some in California, feel it shows an unfair portrayal of those in the logging industry.
An unfair portrayal of the logging industry as a reason for banning The Lorax? That's taking things a little too far if you ask me.

Instead of trying to ban a book for such a ridiculous reason why not put a book to good use. An article in USA Today tells of something constructive being done in conjunction with Dr. Seuss's book The Lorax.
The book is being reprinted with a special environmental message that describes "The Lorax Project," which is being launched today in honor of Earth Day. Ten percent to 15% of profits from the book and from Earth-friendly consumer products featuring the Lorax's image will be used to stop deforestation in Madagascar, Brazil and China.
I do wonder why critics even try to ban a book. Attempting to get a book banned brings attention to that book. People who might never pick up the book flock to the title because of the controversy.

So enough of the book banning. Allow people the freedom to read what they choose. Allow parents to decide what is right for their own children to read.

Please note this is my personal opinion and may not reflect the views the owner or other reviewers here on Mundie Kids.

The Familiars

The Familiars movie is moving forward and this last week they announced that the movie received a director! You can read the exciting news here- http://tinyurl.com/28gx82t

On October 22nd, we'll have a special visit from The Familiars!! You don't want to miss it.

Be sure to go pick up your copy of The Familiars today! You can purchase it here:

You can read our 5 star review of The Familiars here http://tinyurl.com/3an3gnc

You can find out all the latest news here http://thefamiliars.blogspot.com/

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Scholastic Book Club Orders -- Middle Grade Books

I adore getting a Scholastic Book Club order form in my kid's backpack. And I consider myself lucky because I have a Kindergartner, a Second Grader and a Sixth Grader so we get a nice variety of books to choose from on our orders.

This time around my 11 year-old son got his order in and he chose some interesting books that I can hardly wait to wrestle away from him:

The Bronze Pen by Zilpha Keatley Snyder: She wrote one of my all time favorite middle grade books, The Egypt Game and it's nice to see yet another story by her.

Synopsis - Twelve-year-old Audrey Abbott dreams of becoming a writer, but with her father's failing health and the family's shaky finances, it seems there is no room for what her overworked mother would surely call a childish fantasy. So Audrey keeps her writing a secret. That is, until she meets a mysterious old woman who seems able to read her mind. Audrey is surprised at how readily she reveals her secret to the woman.

One day the old woman gives Audrey a peculiar bronze pen and tells her to "use it wisely and to good purpose." It turns out to be just perfect for writing her stories with. But as Audrey writes, odd things start happening. Did Beowulf, her dog, just speak to her? And what is that bumping under her bed at night? It seems that whatever she writes with the pen comes true. However, things don't always happen in the way that she wants or expects. In fact, it's quite difficult to predict what writing with the pen will do. Could the pen be more of a curse than a gift? Or will Audrey be able to rewrite the future in the way that she wishes---and save her father's life?

Mysterious Messages by Gary Blackwood: My son and I both loves stories about spies and codes, so this is definitely going to be a good read for the two of us. And the book has a gorgeous format as well as layout -- it looks like an old journal which is harboring the best of secrets.

Synopsis: Many books present readers with codes to crack and puzzles to solve, but this excellent narrative history of cryptography explains who developed the different systems of encryption and why—and who managed to crack the codes. Blackwood offers an accessible and often funny lesson in alternative history that features many names that readers will know (Julius Caesar, Queen Elizabeth I, and Thomas Jefferson, to name a few), as well as those who worked behind the scenes to create what they hoped were unbreakable ciphers. Wherever matters of national security were at stake, cryptography played a major role, and perhaps the most interesting lesson is that many landmark events would have turned out differently had it not been for cryptographers working on both sides to create and break the other side's secret messages. Blackwood provides challenging examples of each type of cipher for readers to try. The book's clever and appealing format, designed to look like a secret notebook of torn pages, photographs, and sketches taped to the pages, complements the subject perfectly.

Savvy by Ingrid Law: This has been on my TBR for a while and it came as a Two-Book Fantasy Pack along with The Bronze Pen. There is a sequel, Scumble, which was released on August 17th.

Synopsis: For generations, the Beaumont family has harbored a magical secret. They each possess a "savvy" — a special supernatural power that strikes when they turn thirteen. Grandpa Bomba moves mountains, her older brothers create hurricanes and spark electricity... and now it's the eve of Mibs's big day.

As if waiting weren't hard enough, the family gets scary news two days before Mibs's birthday: Poppa has been in a terrible accident. Mibs develops the singular mission to get to the hospital and prove that her new power can save her dad. So she sneaks onto a salesman's bus... only to find the bus heading in the opposite direction. Suddenly Mibs finds herself on an unforgettable odyssey that will force her to make sense of growing up — and of other people, who might also have a few secrets hidden just beneath the skin.

My Sister the Vampire, Switched #1 by Sienna Mercer: This is a book that I reviewed here but as sometimes happens, my daughter allowed someone to borrow it and, well, it wasn't returned. It helps to have a big brother who has a cool Scholastic Book Order Form where not only can you get the book that was lost but also a matching necklace. My daughter was squealing happily as my son pulled both items out of his backpack. Yes, he did it a little reluctantly but he's a good kid so he did order for his sister.

And guess what else came with the books? That's right! A new order form. This one has the new Wimpy Kid book as well as the new Rick Riordan book. Now you know what we'll be ordering next time. What have you ordered from SBC lately??

Book Review: The Bracelet


Retold by: Elizabeth Ballard
Illustrated by: Miriam de Rosier
Publisher: Gibbs Smith
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5 Stars

Teddy is not Miss Thompson's favorite student. He doesn't focus in class, his homework is never complete, and he comes to school unkempt. When, at Christmas, Teddy gives Miss Thompson a bottle of cheap perfume and a rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing, Miss Thompson is confused-until she discovers that these items had belonged to his recently deceased mother. Miss Thompson's profound realization changes her attitude and behavior forever; in turn, young Teddy begins to truly blossom. The Bracelet is a heartwarming story of how one person can deeply affect another person's life, and it will touch everyone who reads it.

What a beautifully done, touching book. I've heard this story before but it still made me cry. Gorgeous illustrations accompany the retelling of this classic story.

This book would make a great gift for a teacher who has touched your child's life. It illustrates how a teacher can open a world of possibilities for a struggling student. Also a good lesson it not judging others because we don't know what they've been through.

The perfect gift book for teacher appreciation.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Review- The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, The Mysterious Howling

By Maryrose Wood
Published by Harper Collins Childrens
Released March 1st, 2010
Source- The Publisher
5 stars- I really enjoyed this book

Of especially naughty children, it is sometimes said: "They must have been raised by wolves."

The Incorrigible children actually were.

Found running wild in the forest of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children. Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. But mysteries abound at Ashton Place: Who are these wild creatures, and how did they come to live in the forests of the estate? Why does Old Timothy, the coachman, lurk around every corner? Will Penelope be able to teach the Incorrigibles table manners in time for the holiday ball? And what on earth is a schottische? (quoted from Ms Wood's site)

The Incorrigible's is a delightful, fun, brilliant read. With it's early 19th century historical setting, a narration that is both modern and fitting for the time period, and wonderful illustrations, made for a book I thoroughly enjoyed.

The story follows that of Miss Penelope Lumley, who's a 15 yr old graduate from the Swanburne Academy. She finds herself the governess at the Ashton Place and in charge of three children, whom Lord Ashton claimed he found and were raised by wolves in the property's vast forest. I really liked Miss Lumley's character. She didn't put up with much, and completely stood up for the children. She was more their guardian than the some what spoiled and clueless (when it comes to kids), Lady Constance.

I fell in the love with the Incorrigible Children almost as fast as Miss Lumley does. Penelope tries her best to teach the children manners, to speak both English and Latin, and gives them a basic education. Her biggest challenge is teaching them to be children, and not wolves. There's a mystery to the story, as Lord Ashton hasn't been honest with his colleagues about the children, and something is hidden within the walls of Ashton Place.

I'm really looking forward to the next book in the series. There's so much left to be uncovered and I can't wait to learn what Maryrose Wood has in store for the children and Miss Penelope Lumley. I highly recommend The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. I think it will make for both a wonderful read out loud, as well as a wonderful book for older grade school and even middle school children to read.

Be sure to visit Maryrose Wood's site here http://tinyurl.com/2e6gqdh to learn more about the Incorrigible Children and watch the book's trailer here http://tinyurl.com/yce7drd

Sunday, September 19, 2010

In My Mailbox- Scholastic Book Orders


When I was in grade school I LOVED the Scholastic book orders. I begged my mom for books every time I took an order form home. I was so excited when my son brought home his first order forms. You can be rest assured we bought books.


Here's what I bought:
* Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr & John Archambault
* Pinkalicious by Victoria Kann & Elizabeth Kann
* Purplicious by Victoria Kann & Elizabeth Kann
* Mommy's Little Star by Janet Bingham
* The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
* llama llama misses mama by Anna Dewdney
* A Fairy Tale Fall
* Scooby Doo and the Cupcake Caper
* Thirty Days Has September, Cool Ways to Remember Stuff

I'm really looking forward to sharing my reviews on these wonderful reads. My kids and I have already read each of the stories and some more than once.

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by The Story Siren and was inspired by Alea of Pop CultureJunkie! With this post, we share the books we've received this past week for review, borrowed from friends or the library, received as a gift and/or bought. We've posted our what we've received for Mundie Moms here http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Review: Queen Vernita Meets Sir HeathyBean The Astronomer


Author: Dawn Menge
Publisher: Outskirts Press
Source: Author
Ages: 8-10
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Queen Vernita continues her educational adventures with Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer. Sir HeathyBean spends twelve informative months in Queen Vernitas castle in the land of Oceaneers. His visit along with Cora the Teacher is centered on learning everything they can about the solar system.

After reading this book I actually did a little research about why this book was written. Author Dawn Menge works with severely handicapped children. She has used her knowledge to create this book as a teaching tool.

Each month Queen Vernita invites a new visitor to be taught by Sir HeathyBean the Astronomer. The book is laid out in the following Fashion:

In January a visitor comes to learn about the sun.
On Monday he is taught....
On Tuesday he learned...
On Wednesday...

Each month a new visitor arrives and they learn about a new subject in the same manner.

This book has great educational value. Although classified as juvenile fiction it is more non-fiction in nature. Filled with facts about the 9 planets, the sun, moon and asteroids, this book is pack with information. Along with the science information that is taught, repetition helps teach the days of the week and months of the year.

As all children learn differently and have unique interests and learning styles this book will appeal to some children more than others. I have one son who I know will love this book. He loves science and needs lots of repetition so this book is perfect for him.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review: Pirate Treasure



Author: Benjamin Flinders
Publisher: Flinders Press
Released: 2010
Source: Author
Ages: 8-10
Rating: 5 Stars

A cursed treasure chest transports Ethan and Dallin from their modern lives onto a ship in the New World. Not just any ship, a merchant vessel transformed into a renegade pirate ship that same morning.

Mistaken as thieves, the brothers must use their wits and humor to navigate the dark secrets of the brig, survive walking the plank, learn how to talk, fight and hurl insults like a pirate (along with the rest of the clueless crew), and solve the mystery that turned Captain Black Bart into a wannabe pirate.

But even if they can save the pirates from themselves, can they unravel the curse that brought them here, and then figure out how to get back home?

The first in a series of comical adventures scattered across history. From the New World to the Great Wall of China, the Traveling Trunk Adventures are sure to capture the imagination, free the spirit of adventure, and tickle the funny bone of every reader, young and old alike.


Being huge fans of The Magic Tree house series, I am sure The Traveling Trunk Adventures will be a hit with my children.

Ethan and Dallin receive a new treasure chest from their father. They climb in the chest to hide from their sister and are magically transported to a pirate ship. A fun filled adventure follows where the boys learn the ways of a pirate. They soon realize if they ever hope to be able to return home there is a mystery they must solve.

This is a book that you must hold in your hands. I love the cover. It is raised and shiny and just begs to be read. Occasional full page black and white illustrations make this a book perfect for beginning middle grade readers.

I highly recommend this book to anyone with a young boy who has recently transitioned to chapter books. Full of humor, adventure and fun, Pirate Treasure will hold the interest of reluctant readers. I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book Review: Mrs. McBloom Clean Up Your Classroom



Author: Kelly DiPucchio
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Released: September 1, 2005
Source: Library
Ages: 4-8
Rating: 5 Stars


"Mrs. McBloom, clean up your classroom!”

For nearly fifty years, that’s been the refrain of janitors, principals, and students who enter the chaos of Room Five. Now the beloved Mrs. McBloom -- who has taught nearly everyone in the town of Up Yonder -- is about to retire. Finally, she must clean up her classroom. But where to begin?

Luckily, Mrs. McBloom is an expert at getting kids to use their noggins. With one student’s bright idea and a whole can-do community of helpers, the town of Up Yonder shows that many hands make light work -- and a favorite teacher gets a send-off she’ll always treasure!


Mrs. McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom is a very touching picture book. After 50 years of teaching Mrs. McBloom is finally retiring. The Principal, students and the janitors have been telling her for years to clean up her classroom. Now Miss Bumblesprout is preparing to take over room 5 and the room must be cleaned up.

The students think of ideas on how to the get room cleaned in time. Georgia Peachpit comes up with the winning idea that enlists the entire town to help.

This book made me nostalgic for the wonderful teachers who taught me. Delightful illustrations and humor combined to make this a book children and their parents can enjoy together. Makes a great read aloud.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review- The Sea of Sleep

By Warren Hanson
Illustrated by Jim LaMarche
Published by Scholastic Press
Released on September 1st, 2010
Source- Scholastic
Ages 12 months & up
5 Stars- Wonderful Bed Time Story

Baby Otter, cuddled safely in Mama Otter's arms, rocks gently in the glittering, silvery waters. But the sea is teeming with life. And there are so many wondrous things to watch on the way to sleep.

The Sea of Sleep is a alluring, beautifully written bed time story, with captivating illustrations. As baby Otter is safely held in Mama Otter's arms and is rocked to sleep, Mama tells baby about the world around them. From the moon's glow and the blanket of stars above them to the songs of the sea they hear below them.

Mama Otter tells baby that the sea is very old and wise, and has been around for millions of years. Teaming with life and has been sailed on by many sailors. Tonight
The Sea of Sleep enfolds them in her arms and gently rocks them as they drift away to sleep.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Blog Stop with The Aristobrats author Jennifer Solow


To celebrate today's release of The Aristobrats, we have Jennifer Solow on our blog today!!

Which of your characters would you have been the closest with in middle school?

I probably would have been closest with Allegra, actually. I see Allegra as a lot more than she appears to be (she’s a key character in the next Aristobrats, which I’m working on now). I think it would be fun to have a sleepover with her and realize she’s good at something unexpected, offbeat and interesting – to find out, despite my preconceived notions, that she’s really fun to hang out with.

Who or what inspired you to write?

In 2001, I was sitting in a business meeting in downtown Manhattan when the World Trade Center collapsed. I was just a few blocks away – close enough to see things I’ll never forget. The experience made me grateful to be alive and asking myself the question: If I was in one of those buildings, did I do everything I wanted with my life? The answer was no.

Within a month I had left my 20-year career behind and took my first writing class. An assignment I started in that class went on to become a national bestselling novel.

In three words, how would your characters describe you?

Hopeful, tenacious, messy

What is one thing you must have when you're writing?

A big thermos of piping hot Hojicha tea.

Who's one of your favorite literary characters and why?

The first that popped into my mind was Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby. I see Nick as slightly floating on the edge of the scene, observing, participating, desiring that something unattainable. He’d like to be Gatsby, or at the very least, get to know him and be around his dazzling aura – but he’ll never be Gatsby. Is it better to be the mythic, ethereal guy who winds up dead in the end, or the neighbor, the regular guy, who’ll probably live out his life wishing he could have been someone else?

Just for fun, did you know that Jennifer....
* Owns a Tractor
* Makes her own goat cheese & bakes bread nearly every day.
* Met her husband in the ashes of the World Trade Center
* A real vampire threatened to spank her on her 30th Birthday
(all used with permission from Jennifer)

You can get to know Jennifer more, by visiting her site here:

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Book Review- 8 Spinning Planets


By Brian James
Illustrated by Russell Benfanti
Published by Scholastic
Released on September 1st, 2010
Source- Scholastic
Ages 18 months and older *Ideal for Preschool and Kindergartners*
5 Stars- A definite must have for younger readers and space adventurers

Get set to explore the solar system one planet at a time! Counting backwards from Mercury to Neptune, EIGHT SPINNING PLANETS features innovative die-cuts throughout to reveal realistic, touchable planets on every spread that disappear one by one with each turn of the page. Young readers will love discovering simple facts about the planets as they feel their way through the sturdy pages of this book. An excellent and playful introduction to the solar system!

Both my Preschool and Kindergarten ages kids have enjoyed this book. It's bright colors and realistic, touchable planets make this a very engaging read. With simplistic descriptions and a real picture of each planet, young space explorers will feel like they've taken a brief trip around our solar system.

I think 8 Spinning Planets would be a perfect fit for both preschool and Kindergarten curriculum, as well as for your child's personal home library.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Book Review- The Famous Nini


The Mostly True Story Of How A Plain White Cat Became A Star
By Mary Nethery
Illustrated by John Manders
Published by Clarion Books
Source- The Author/Publisher
Released on June 7th, 2010
4 Stars- A Wonderful Read

In Venice in the 1890s, a café owner takes in a stray cat she names Nini. This is against her better judgment, for the café is modest, and she has nothing to spare. But in no time at all, the cat becomes a celebrity, charming all sorts of important visitors, including the composer Giuseppe Verdi, the King and Queen of Italy, and even the pope himself. Nini's fame helps save the struggling business. Bit is his stardom enough to produce a small miracle of a different sort? (taken from the book's cover)

My kids and I really enjoyed reading about Nini, a real cat from the 1890's who was taken in by a cafe owner in Venice, Italy. Nini's story in The Famous Nini is a wonderful reminder about how small acts of kindness can go a long way. Nini is visited by many famous people all over the world, whom after meeting Nini are changed for the better.

Nini helps not only helps Nonna, the cafe owner who takes him in, but he inspires the world famous composer Giuseppe Verdi, helps the King & Queen of Italy make a tough decision, gets blessed by the Pope, helps the Emperor of Ethiopia's young daughter speak again and inspires other people around him.

The Famous Nini has beautiful illustrations and that both young and old will enjoy. With the author's note included at the end of the story, readers will learn the Nini really did live, see the cafe he lived at and learn about which famous people really came to meet him.
I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~