Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Review - Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day

Author: Judith Viorst
Publisher: Scholastic
Originally Released: 1972
Source: Peronal Copy
Rating: 5 Stars

"I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there's gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day."

So begin the trials and tribulations of the irascible Alexander, who has been earning the sympathy of readers since 1972. People of all ages have terrible, horrible days, and Alexander offers us the cranky commiseration we crave as well as a reminder that things may not be all that bad. As Alexander's day progresses, he faces a barrage of bummers worthy of a country- western song: getting smushed in the middle seat of the car, a dessertless lunch sack, a cavity at the dentist's office, stripeless sneakers, witnessing kissing on television, and being forced to sleep in railroad-train pajamas. He resolves several times to move to Australia.
I'm sure everyone has their favorite childhood books. Those ones that we can vividly remember having read to us. Books that were read over and over until we could "read" them without even looking at the words on the page.
If I had to pick one book from my childhood that fit this description it would be "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" by Judith Viorst.
This is a timeless book. A gem that I will always treasure reading. I can read this book over and over and never get tired of it. I wish I could say that about some of the books my kids ask me to read!
Once in a while we all have terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days. Those days when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed and things just don't go our way. This book is the perfect reminder that some days are just like that, even in Australia.
Is there a book you treasure from your childhood? Have you shared it with your kids, students, or nieces and nephews?

Book - The Stonekeeper (Amulet, Book 1)

Author: Kazu Kibuishi
Publisher: Graphix (January 1, 2008)
Reading Level: Grades 4 to 8
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Description from GoodReads:
After a family tragedy, Emily, Navin, and their mother move to an old ancestral home to start a new life. On the family's very first night in the mysterious house, a strange noise lures them into the basement, where Em and Navin's mom is kidnapped by a humongous, tentacled creature and dragged down behind the basement door.
The kids give chase down a twisty spiral stairway and find themselves in a strange and magical world below. Most surprising of all, it seems that their great-grandfather, who was an inventor and puzzle maker, was there before them – and he's left some unfinished business.

Now it's up to Em and Navin to figure out how to set things right and save their mother's life!

Personally, I am not a huge fan of graphic novels. I actually think the pictures distract me. (I know that is silly.) However, in working with elementary age students, I am always on the prowl for books that might appeal to reluctant readers. And to be honest, graphic novels and manga appeal to many children and teens. When I saw this at Borders, I decided to pick it up.

Sometimes it is hard to find graphic novels that are specifically geared to fourth and fifth graders, but this is really the audience for this book. The story focuses on Emily who finds a necklace/amulet on her first day in their new home. Emily isn't certain what the amulet can do but she does know it can do something. That evening as her family is camping in the living room (electricity hasn't come on yet)her mother goes in search of the source of a strange sound. Before you know it, an octopus/squid like creature has swallowed her mother. The creature and the amulet lead Emily and her brother Navin to an alternate university and an adventure to rescue her mother commences.

Though I thought the book was fun, I felt some parts were a little underdeveloped and confusing, and scene transitions could have been stronger. I like to believe that this may be due to Amulet being the first graphic novel geared towards children by this author. However, I do believe that 9 & 10 year olds will love the story and will be clamoring to read the rest of the series. As a result, I gave this a 3.5. It was a good read and I will go on to book two to see if the series improves.
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 ~