Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Book Review-The Baby-Sitters Club, The Summer Before by Ann M. Martin

To Be Released April 1, 2010
Published by Scholastic
5 Stars

Before there was the Baby-Sitters Club, there were four girls named Kristy Thomas, Mary Anne Spier, Claudia Kishi, and Stacey McGill. As they start the summer before seventh grade (also before they start the BSC), each of them is on the cusp of a big change. Kristy is still hung up on hoping that her father will return to her family. Mary Anne has to prove to her father that she's no longer a little girl who needs hundreds of rules. Claudia is navigating her first major crush on a boy. And Stacey is leaving her entire New York City life behind in order to find new friends in Stoneybrook, Connecticut.

Separately, it's a lot to deal with. But together, these friends will find a way to make it through-with plenty of laughter, tears, and surprises along the way.

Whether you are a fan of the original Baby Sitters Club series or if this is your first visit to Stoneybrook, The Summer Before is a sweet, moving novel about four girls on the edge of something big-not just the club that will change their lives, but also the joys, and tribulations about being a girl. (taken from cover)

Being a huge fan of the original Baby Sitters Club, I gave this book 5 stars, as Ann did a wonderful job at keeping the integrity of the characters and being true to their voices. I feel that author sometimes tend to forget their true characters when they add a book to their popular series, but this wasn't the case at all. Ann did an excellent job with this upcoming release. I think this book is a must have addition to the ever popular series. It brought back some feelings I had when I first read about Mary Ann, Kristy, Claudia and Stacey. I think fans of the original series and new fans alike will love this book.

We get to see what they girls went through the summer before the club was started. I think Ann captured all the right emotions and things we go through as we're growing up. The summer between the girls 6th grade going on to 7th grade year was a tough one for them. There are joys and sorrows. We get to see what each girl is dealing with and how.

Kristy is dealing with her dad not coming back and her mother dating Watson. Claudia deals with the struggles of growing up faster than her close friends Mary Ann and Kristy and their relationship this summer is strained, as she spends time with her first boyfriend and deals with her first heartache. Mary Ann is struggling with the fact that her over protective dad isn't allowing her to grow up and be the more responsible young lady she's becoming. While I really loved reading more about the girls, I really liked learning more about Stacey. While many people would have been devastated to leave New York, Stacey wanted nothing more than to get a fresh start, which would be in Stoneybrook, CT.

Be sure to pick up this must have for any BSC fan new and old alike!

Be sure to let Scholastic know who your favorite babysitter club member is and enter to win a chance to meet Ann Martin. http://onourmindsatscholastic.blogspot.com/2010/03/my-excitement-cannot-be-contained-in.html

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Reading Is Fundamental

Today on our Mundie Moms blog, we are featuring a wonderful program that gives children a chance at their dreams, and that's by giving them books and helping them read.

This is something that is near and dear to our hearts! It's something we feel very strongly about, and that's helping empower children with reading and books. Reading Fundamental does just that. Here's what they do:

Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. prepares and motivates children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those children and families who need them most.

Founded in 1966, RIF is the oldest and largest children's and family nonprofit literacy organization in the United States. RIF's highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provided 4.4 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources last year.

All RIF programs combine three essential elements to foster children's literacy: reading motivation, family and community involvement, and the excitement of choosing free books to keep.

RIF's accomplishments are due in part to the generous support of the U.S. Department of Education, corporations, foundations, community organizations, and thousands of individuals.

Right now RIF is in of need of help. One way we can help, is now through May, American Express will donate $200,000 to the charity with most votes. To vote for RIF, please go herehttp://www.takepart.com/node/54085. You'll also find more information about RIF like- Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit, inspires all children to be lifelong readers through the power of choice. RIF provides new books for children to choose and make their own. Since its founding, RIF has provided more than 366 million books and countless hours of reading motivation to children most in need. Yet so many children still do not have books of their own—61% of low-income families with children in the U.S. have no books at home.

Through a network of more than 400,000 volunteers, RIF programs reach children in every state in a variety of settings including schools, community centers, homeless shelters, and hospitals. Access to books ignites children’s hunger for knowledge and a passion for learning. Research shows that children who have more access to books not only perform better academically, but also become productive individuals whose contributions help create strong communities.

RIF offers help to parents, teachers and coordinators on their site here http://www.rif.org/. They also have links for ways we can get involved, donate and support our local RIFs. Helping teach a child to read changes their futures and opens up so many horizons for them. You can also find this information on our Children's Book Review Blog http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Book Review - DORK Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell

Published by Aladdin
Publishing Date- June 2009

Ages 9-12
288 pages

Synopsis: (from DorkDiaries.com website)

New school.
New mean girl.
New crush.
New diary so Nikki can
spill about ALL OF IT…

Dork Diaries follows eighth grader Nikki Maxwell, who chronicles through text and sketches her move to a snooty new school; her epic battle with her mom for an iPhone; her enthusiasm for drawing & art; and a love/hate facination with the new school's queen bee, a girl named Mackenzie who becomes Nikki's rival in a school-wide art competition.

Nikki J. Maxwell is your typical Middle School Girl. She's dealing with all the issues you'd expect -- a mean girl rival, parents that are, you know, embarrassing and a crush on a cute boy. That's a lot, isn't it??

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the format of this book. Just like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the pages are filled with sketches and an easy-to-read, hand-written font. Nikki's voice is funny and at times her mishaps are so touching that you find yourself wishing you could help her out of all those socially awkward moments associated with that particular grade.

Although my First Grade daughter was a little young to truly grasp some of the themes in the book, she did understand the concept of the main theme -- the importance of family and truly good friends. We both laughed our way through the book and are anxiously awaiting the sequel, DORK Diaries: Tales From A Not So Popular Party Girl which will be released on June 8th.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Book Review - Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Published by Amulet Books
Publishing Date-April 2007
Ages 9-12
224 pages

Synopsis: (from Amulet's site)

Boys don’t keep diaries—or do they?

The launch of an exciting and innovatively illustrated new series narrated by an unforgettable kid every family can relate to

It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.

In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion.

I have to admit to making a face when my Fifth Grade son handed me this book. I was put off by the word "wimpy" in the title. But as if to remind me not to judge a book by its cover or title, the story inside turned out to be so very relevant for most middle grade readers.

First, the layout and easy to follow cartoon style format is wonderful for reluctant readers. Secondly, the story oh, the story. Kinney introduces a wonderful protagonist in Greg. He is the kid that most of us were in Middle School -- unsure, funny and surrounded by a cast of relatable characters.

I am glad my son thrust this book into my hands. We both finished the series and are eagerly awaiting the release of the movie. So to the parents out there, pick up these books with your kids and you will immediately remember all those growing pains which seem to occur, somehow all at once, in that awkward setting of middle school.

Diary Of A Wimpy Kid

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Harper Collin's Children's Awesome Adventures

Harper Collins is hosting an AWESOME Adventure in reading for some of their amazing middle school grade books. Come join the adventures! The authors and books featured are:

*Comic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
* A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whelan Turner
* The Shadow Project by Herbie Brennan
*The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood
*Max Cassidy (Escape from Shadow Island) by Paul Adam
*The Hidden Boy by Jon Berkeley
Be sure to visit Harper Collin's links below to:
Enter the weekly Sweepstakes-

Stay tuned to our blog for reviews and more information about these great books.
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 ~