Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Author: Bob McLeod
Published: 2006 by HarperCollins
Rating: 4 Stars
Silly and zany, and armed with the most unusual skills, these heroes are out to save the world-one letter at a time! Bubble-Man blows big bubbles at bullies, and laughing lass laughs at lawbreakers! together, these one-of-a-kind defenders represent the ABC's in a way never seen before.
Renowned comic-book illustrator Bob Mcleod has created a full cast of humorous and delightful characters, sure to please anyone in need of a hero to save the day.
I picked this up thinking it would be a great alphabet book for a little boy and was surprised that my daughter loved it. What child won't love a superhero like The Volcano who vomits on villains or Bubble-Man who blows big bubbles at bullies.
A few of the hero choices were not what I would have chosen - Such as "knight" for the letter K. A fun to read alphabet book I recommend especially to children who love superheroes.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
By Natasha WIng
Author/Illustrator: Lucy Cousins
Publisher: Candlewick Press (May 10, 2005)
Age: Baby to Preschooler
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Description from GoodReads:
Paddle along with Little Fish on a mesmerizing underwater tour of friends spotty and stripy, happy and gripy, hairy and scary, even curly whirly and twisty twirly. From the creator of Maisy comes an eyepopping picture book that is sure to have little ones joining the chorus: Hooray for fish!
Normally, when I do a first read of a picture book, it isn't for an audience. However, I was with my nieces at the library and the 4 year old brought this one over to me. Clearly with the intention that I would be reading it aloud. Of course, the private reading for 1 turned into a group read. However, it was nice to see how 3 & 4 year olds responded to Hooray For Fish! and not have to predict.
Cousins, author of the popular Maisy the Mouse books, gets this audience. Bright, bold fish in a variety of shapes and sizes cover the pages. One, "ele-fish", even looks like a gray and white elephant. There is another page with three fish and each fish has a number integrated into their design. As I was reading the book, I realized that I could read it two or three times and focus on a different aspect (i.e., colors, numbers, shapes, sizes, etc.) without repeating myself. The text works in conjunction with the pictures to engage young listeners through a rhythmic pattern but also to highlight the various concepts being introduced.
In the end, our little fish who has been leading us through the waters of the book is reunited with his mommy in a very touching, kissy-kissy moment that thrilled my young audience.
This is a fun book that would be a nice addition to any sea/ocean unit in a preschool curriculum.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Story & Pictures by Richard Egielski
Author/Illustrator: Lerch (James Proimos)
Publisher: Scholastic Press (July 1, 2010)
Ages: 4 to 8 years
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Description from GoodReads:
Lerch is one sassy, snazzy fish who seems to have it all: good looks, charm, a great sense of humor, and a perfect smile. But he's lonely (the bubbles and the pebbles ain't talkin'!) and wants to find a friend. But where? Then, with the help of an unexpected "admirer," Lerch meets Dinah, and it's true love from first glance.
Yes, I know. Summer is almost over, school is about to begin but it is 100 degrees out and technically we have several more weeks before fall is officially here. So I have a couple of fish/ocean related reviews coming. First up, Swim! Swim! by Lerch.
Lerch is lonely. He is looking for a friend, but a fishbowl is somewhat restricted. His attempt to speak to the pebbles, and the man in the deep-sea diving outfit fail miserably. Lerch then finds bubbles, despite talking "bubble", he still has no luck. The bubbles pop and disappear. So what is a lonely fish to do? When he is introduced to Dinah (another fish) will the friendship last or will there be fish on the menu.
This book is funny. I loved the cartoon/comic book style of the illustrations. They are bright, bold and interesting and the facial expressions on Lerch communicate even more. The text is written in word bubbles and provide an almost rhythmic pattern to the story. Young and old readers will have fun with this story.
Take a moment to enjoy the remaining days of summer and pick up Swim! Swim! for a fun read. Tomorrow I will share another fish story that readers will enjoy.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Thank you to everyone who entered to win our Bob Books Giveaway!!
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Author: Donna Marie Seim
Illustrator: Susan Spellman
Publisher: Peapod Press
Release Date: June 15, 2010
Rating: 4 Stars
Mia's entire summer is ruined! First, she learns that her mom is sick. Then, she and her younger brother Jack are whisked away to their grandparents' home on a remote island in the Caribbean. Mia is furious until she meets Neisha, an island girl, who tells her about "the tea that cures everything." Will Mia be able to find the tea? Will it cure her mom? And will it prove to be her plane ticket back home? Join Mia on an incredible adventure, where she sails the high seas, meets wild donkeys, explores uninhabited islands, and searches for a magical tea.
Hurricane Mia is a cute adventure story for middle grades. At 150 pages this book is perfect for the child who has recently transitioned to chapter books.
Mia is not thrilled to be spending the summer on a small island in the Caribbean where there is nothing to do. Mia sets of on an adventure to track down "the tea that cures everything" in hopes of curing her sick mother. But as is the case with most adventures things don't always go according to plan.
The book includes a glossary, party ideas and discussion questions at the end.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Author: Annette Laing
Published by: Confusion Press
Rating: 3.5 Stars
What a nightmare. Hannah Dias, California Girl with Attitude, and Alex, her laid-back brother, have moved from exciting San Francisco to boring Snipesville, Georgia. Life doesn't improve when they meet Brandon, a dorky kid who is plotting his escape from the Deep South, and the weird Professor, who has a strange secret.
Suddenly, the kids are catapulted thousands of miles and almost seventy years to England during World War Two.
They fall into a world of stinging nettles, dragon ladies, bomb blasts, ugly underwear, stinky sandwiches, painful punishments, and non-absorbing toilet paper. They learn so much more than they could ever learn in a history class. Not that they want to learn it.
But they can't go home unless they find George Braithwaite, whoever he is, and whatever it is that he has to do with Snipesville.
The introduction to this book had me laughing:
The Second World War began on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Too many Germans had lost their minds in the 1930s and decided that Adolf Hilter was their ideal leader. Hitler was a nasty little man with a silly moustache, who spent a lot of his time and energy hating people he didn't know, and thinking of ways to kill them. But I bet you knew already knew that.This is a good book to use to help children understand what life was like for those who lived during World Wars I & II. From the way children were treated, to the toilet paper they used, to the food and clothing they had, to what a visit to the dentist was like, this book made me grateful for the world we now live in.
It took me a long time to get into this book. The first half I had no emotional connection to the characters and considered putting the book aside. Thankfully I continued because I enjoyed the second half of the book. The story came together and began to draw me in as the mystery unraveled and was solved. I liked the character Mrs. Devenish and her interactions with Hannah & Alex.
Marketed to children ages 9 and up. There were a few mild expletives I felt should have been left out since this is aimed at younger readers.
It's probably not a book my 8, 10 or 12 year old would read on their own but a book I would recommend be used to supplement a study unit on World War II.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Monday, August 16, 2010
By: Tina Wells
Published by Harper Collins Childrens
Released on June 22, 2010
Source: The Publisher
5.0 stars - I highly recommend reading this book!
Synopsis (from Harper Collins Childrens): Mackenzie Blue is hitting the trails!
It's time for Brookdale Academy's camping field trip, but Zee has much more to deal with than a lesson about nature. . . .
1. My BFF, Ally, is visiting all the way from Paris! Ooh la la!
2. My friends and I are so going to win the environmental scavenger hunt!
1. We have to stay in teeny-tiny log cabins. How will we all fit?
2. The legendary (and terrifying) Mountain Man . . .
The third book in the Mackenzie Blue series really hit home for me. You see, while the other books were about Zee staying true to herself, this one was about friendship. Zee's BFF, Ally, returns to visit from France just in time for Brookdale Academy's camping trip. I could so relate to Zee's lack of enthusiasm at being outdoors for a week with both her old and new friends. It's awkward, trying and makes for some great reading as we get to see Zee grow up and realize some valuable lessons on friendship.
A pivotal moment in Zee's growth occurs with this diary entry (p. 121):
And then to make matters more interesting, Zee's older brother tells her the legend of the Mountain Man. Is he real? Is he just a scary story? Why is he looking for his missing leg amongst unsuspecting campers?
Does Ally hate me? I know I hirt her feelings. But, I didn't mean to . I just want everyone to get along. I think Ally is mad at Chloe, but it's not Chloe's fault.
What if we had done Ally's idea instead of Chloe's? Would Chloe be mad at me? Maybe having a lot of friends means you just can't win.
I loved the other two Mackenzie Blue books, but this is my favorite by far. To watch Zee begin to comprehend complexities like friendship in a very real way makes for some head-nodding moments as you turn the pages. If you have a tween girl in your life, I highly recommend getting the Mackenzie Blue series. The books teach valuable lessons in a subtle, realistic way that even your most sophisticated tween will enjoy. And once again, the illustrations, IMs and diary entries make the story even more current.
The fourth book, Mackenzie Blue: Mixed Messages is one that I'm really looking forward to and it's release date is November 23, 2010. That's just in time for holiday gift buying and I already know a tween girl who will have this book in her stocking and a Mama who will gladly read it with her on Christmas Day.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Published by Harper Collins Childrens
Released on December 29, 2009
Source: The Publisher
But how can she get Landon—the cutest boy in school—to notice her? The class's new rock-and-roll musical is her chance.
Reasons why our musical is going to be amazing:
1.I could be the star!
2.Landon could be my co-star . . . which means we'll hang out together.
3.Working on the sets, props, music, script, and costumes will be tons of fun.
There's so much to do, I'd better get started!
Between her crush, the musical, and her friends—not to mention school work—Zee is torn in a thousand different directions. With all the real-life drama going on, will she lose sight of what's really important?
This is the second book in the Mackenzie Blue series and I have to admit that both my tween daughter and I thoroughly enjoy the voice of plucky Zee. One of the things I love about her is that she's a very realistic 7th Grade girl -- with fairly real problems. She has her friends, her seemingly unsupportive older brother and parents that she perceives as meddling at all the wrong moments in her life -- like when she's just about to kiss her crush Landon, her Mom walks in! I know, I was laughing too, and remembering all those middle school moments in my own life. But, Mackenzie's not overly dramatic or too snarky like some of the current tween heroines, she hits the right notes for both her middle grader readers and their parents.
So in this second installment, Zee's class is putting on a musical. One that they will write, practice and put on themselves. I won't spoil it for you but there are lots of surprises. Zee's antagonist, Kathi, is suddenly being very nice. Zee's BFF, Ally, who is still in Paris, has a boyfriend and doesn't have as much time to IM her and then, of course, there is the matter of Zee's crush on that cute boy Landon. One of my favorite moments in the book occurs when Zee takes inventory of How to Tell If Someone Is Your BFF (p. 184-185):
- She helps you with your problems.
- She's always there for you.
- She keeps your secrets.
- She makes sure you don't totally embarrass yourself.
- She chooses you over her boyfriend.
I'm looking forward to reviewing the third book in the series, Mackenzie Blue: Friends Forever? and I admit that I've already pre-ordered the fourth installment, Mackenzie Blue: Mixed Messages, which will be released on November 23, 2010.
Author: Jane O'Connor
Illustrator: Robin Preiss Glasser
Publisher: HarperCollins Children's (June 22, 2010)
Age Level: 3 to 8 years
Source: Won in a Contest
Rating: 4 Stars
Description from GoodReads:
What better way to fancy Mom up for her birthday than to treat her to a super-deluxe beauty day created by Fancy Nancy herself? It's a pampering paradise, and right in the backyard! With relaxing music, fragrant lotions, colorful nail polish, and foamy mousse, Nancy gives her mom a total makeover. She even treats her to sumptuous refreshments and special entertainment. But when the pampering suddenly goes too far, has Nancy ruined her mom's big day?
Complete with tips and recipes for creating a super-deluxe beauty day of your own, Fancy Nancy: Ooh La La! It's Beauty Day will inspire budding beauty experts to open up shop and join in the deluxe fanciness!
Before I start, I just want to thank Mel at He Followed Me Home Blog. Mel is a Canadian. After winning this book in a HarperCollins contest, she realized that they would only ship to someone stateside. Being her wonderful self, she asked if I would like it and had HarperCollins send it to me. Thanks to Mel and HarperCollins my school library now has a new book.
Now on to the review - I am a fan of Fancy Nancy books. Little girls especially love Nancy and all of the situations that they finds herself in. Fancy Nancy is bold, funny, and well fancy. As an educator, I appreciate that the books expose children to a variety of vocabulary that might not normally be included in picture books for young readers. In this latest installment, Fancy Nancy has a special treat for her mother on her birthday - a day of pampering and beauty treatments. Long-time readers and fans know that any day of pampering organized by Nancy will include much, much more.
In traditional Fancy Nancy style, she has set up a French spa in her backyard. With her younger sister as her helper, they prepare to give mom a full beauty make-over including a facial, mani-pedi, lunch, make-up and hair. Though readers know that there will be something that will go wrong, you still find yourself chuckling along the way. Nancy's attempts to provide her mother with the right atmosphere include serenading her with music performed on a recorder, card tricks, and a special lunch. When things go a little awry, Nancy is thankful for the help her friend and neighbor Mrs. DeVine.
The formulaic story pattern, bright signature illustrations, and crisis averted ending are what fans of Fancy Nancy have come to love and appreciate about these books. And this one doesn't fail to deliver. However, I struggled with one thing. The addition of the "tip and recipe" boxes on many of the pages. On the one hand, I loved seeing the recipe for yogurt parfait or the tips for braiding hair. But on the other hand, there is already a lot happening in a Fancy Nancy book. Some of the pages almost seemed a little too crowded which was particularly noticeable with the smaller book size as compared to some of the other Fancy Nancy books. Fancy Nancy's Ooh La La! It's A Beauty Day would have benefited from the increase in size in my opinion.
Regardless of size, fans of Fancy Nancy will enjoy this latest book in the series.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Synopsis (from Harper Collins Childrens): Meet Mackenzie Blue, aka Zee -
She has it all—smarts, talent, humor, and style. . . .
Is it enough to survive middle school?
Countdown to a 7th Grade Meltdown
1. Your BFF moves away.
2. Someone steals your diary and reveals your deepest secrets—to the entire class.
3. You have one chance to become a rock star and one chance to totally blow it. Guess what!? All three happened to me! School's a disaster already. Don't get me wrong—I love Brookdale Academy and I have a fabulous crew of friends. (At least, I think I do.) But, if I'm going to survive, I need all the help I can get!
I am so glad I have an Almost-Tween daughter who loves a fun, realistic heroine. I mean, what could be worse, starting off 7th Grade with your best friend moving to Paris, losing your diary which may have the winning song for the Teen Sing competition in it or well, there is the matter of that boy, Landon, the one with "the sun-bleached hair that hung slightly over his eyes" (p. 209)?
I loved how the book is interspersed with creative drawings of the characters, their IMs, notes and Zee's diary entries. The format will keep any tween, and even their mom, easily entertained and a reluctant reader would find it stimulating to follow the different formats presented.
I will say that both my daughter and I delighted in the book's lessons. It reminded both of us that it's important to be true to yourself, that your real friends will always be there for you and that yes, big brothers can be big bothers but they always have your back.
Author: Jeff Brumbeau
Illustrator: Gail De Marcken
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Rating: 5 Stars
When a generous quiltmaker finally agrees to make a quilt for a greedy king but only under certain conditions, she causes him to undergo a change of heart.
This is a beautifully illustrated book with pages full of intricate details. A great story accompanies the illustrations making this one book you don't want to miss.
A powerful, greedy king demands a quiltmaker give him one of her quilts but she refuses. She only gives her quilts to the poor. Despite the kings threats and punishments the quiltmaker won't give in to the demands of the king. There is only one way she will give him a quilt.
A great lesson in the happiness that comes from being generous and helping others.
Friday, August 13, 2010
Author/Illustrator: Melanie Watt
Publisher: Kids Can Press (March 1, 2010)
Age Level: Ages 4 to 8
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars
Description from Kids Can Press:
Chester's finally ready to write his own masterpiece — he just needs to get pesky writer-illustrator Mélanie Watt out of the way.
Chester's solo attempts at storytelling are messy, to say the least, but he's determined to go it alone. But where's his story going? After several alternative (but always unhappy) endings, Chester is confronted by a problem he never bargained for. A wry comment on the creative process and how good stories are constructed, this is the most uproarious Chester book yet.
Have you ever discovered an author or illustrator makes you want to go back to the library or bookstore to find everything you can by them? This is what happened recently when I happened upon Melanie Watt. I read one of her books and then had to pick up another and then another. I didn't have time to read all of them but I do plan on reading more and collecting lots of her books.
Out of the ones that I did recently read, Chester's Masterpiece was my favorite. Chester is one of Melanie's characters. He is a bit on the cranky side, which makes him all the more lovable. Chester is also a really fat cat. In the newest installment, Chester with the help of his red marker has commandeered the writing of the book from Watt. The story is told from a kind of dialogue between Chester (in red pen) and Watt (in penciled yellow sticky notes).
Here is an example:
Watt on yellow sticky: Chester, What are you up to??? My tooth is fine!! Where's all my stuff? And where's my mouse? M.W.
Chester in red pen: It's right here (with arrow pointing to a small white mouse).
Watt on yellow sticky: You know that's not the mouse I'm talking about.
As Chester attempts to write his story, Watt interjects some writerly advice. At one point, Watt even tries to help Chester with his writer's block which produces some wonderful discussion. Chester not only insists on writing the story but also on illustrating the book. Despite all of Chester's attempts at ignoring or insulting Watt, she gets the last laugh in the end, well sort of.
I get excited about a book that both a child will laugh at and enjoy hearing over and over again and one that the adult who will be reading it 100 times will also love over and over again. This is exactly one of those books. Author/Illustrator Watt has her hands full with this snarky feline. The contrast between the bold, bright red writing/drawings and Watt's pencil is perfect. The dialogue educational and entertaining. This is not only a must read but also a must have. I picked up one for my own personal library and will be picking up a several copies for gift. Enjoy!
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
By Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson