Month: February 2015

Books Comparing Now and Then

A Fine DessertWhale Trails

Recently ML and I were introduced to the app Trivia Crack.  We’re addicted.  It’s like Trivial Pursuit but online.  This has sparked an interest in history for ML.  Two picture books arrived recently to fuel her new passion.

A Fine Dessert:  Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall – We followed the making of blackberry fool from Lyme, England to present day San Diego stopping in outside of Charleston, SC in the 1800s and Boston, MA in the 1900s.  ML is eager for blackberries to be in season so we can try the recipe.  We may go blackberry picking and make a whisk with clean, soft twigs like the mom and daughter in the 1700s.  However, we will buy the cream at the grocery.  We don’t have access to cows we can milk ourselves.  The details in the illustrations span centuries. . . from an ice pit in the hillside to gumball machines at the supermarket.

Whale Trails:  Before and Now by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by G. Brian Karas – A delightful tale comparing today’s whale watching industry with whale hunting ships of the 1800s.  Each page spread includes one page showing a modern whale watching adventure in bright gouache and acrylic;  and a page that looks like aged paper with black toned illustrations.

Julia’s Review of Waiting For Unicorns

Waiting for Unicorns

I’ve found another avid reader to help me review books for middle grade children.  Lily’s sister, Julia.  She is a sixth grader.  I was reading a book when I learned these sisters were eager to review books for the blog.  I almost didn’t send it because I was enjoying it so much.  As I’m writing this review, I’m trying not to read Julia’s review.  Other than her three words describing the book, which convince me I should read this book.

Waiting For Unicorns by Beth Hautala

  • Write three words to describe this book.  touching, well-written, captivating
  • What was you favorite part of the book?  Why?  My favorite part was when Talia got the necklace from her dad for her birthday.
  • Who was your favorite character?  Why?  My favorite character was Simon (aka Guitar Boy).
  • How did the book make your feel?  I felt very sympathetic for Talia because she had lost her mom and then her home, and then her dad got stuck out on the ice.
  • Did anything in the book make you happy?  If so, what? I felt happy that Talia became friends with Simon, Sura and the Birdman.
  • Did anything in the book make you sad?  If so, what?  I was sad that Talia didn’t get to see the narwhals, but also kind of happy because Sura had said, “Unicorns break your heart.”

Book Synopsis from Penguin website – “When twelve-year-old Talia—still reeling from the recent death of her mother—is forced to travel with her emotionally and physically distant whale-researcher father to the Arctic for the summer, she begins to wonder if the broken pieces inside of her will ever begin to heal. Like her jar of wishes, Talia feels bottled up and torn. Everything about life in Churchill feels foreign, including Sura, the traditional Inuit woman whom Talia must live with. But when Sura exposes her to the tradition of storytelling, she unlocks something within Talia that has long since been buried: her ability to hope, to believe again in making wishes come true.”

Icy Roads – Thankfully We Had Books, Friends, Food and Heat

Cat & BunnyRaindrops RollLetter for LeoPapa ChagallPlease Mr PandaPrincess PattyGeorge in the DarkSnoozefest

It wasn’t Boston here; but there was sleet and snow this week.  On Tuesday, five children meandered from house to house sledding, eating, drinking hot chocolate, holding gerbils, and to my dismay forgetting to close to the door.  I’m hoping they will remember the fun times; not me yelling “Close the door!”

Cat & Bunny by Mary Lundquist – Sometimes there is drama when second grade girls get together.  It’s more likely to happen when there is an odd number.  Wednesday morning ML had two friends over.  For about thirty minutes one of the girls was upset at ML and the other friend.  We read this book the night before.  Sadly, my brain was fried.  I didn’t think to read it to ML’s friend.  It’s the perfect book to discuss feeling left out.

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre – As the sleet fell, we read this book filled with exquisite photographs.  The girls couldn’t choose a favorite page.  Mine was the spider web.  ML and I decided the next time it rains, we’ll take pictures of rain in the natural world.

A Letter For Leo by Sergio Ruzzier – Our mailman wears shorts in spring, summer, fall and winter.  Even on days when there are inches of sleet on the ground.  In this book, Leo is mailman.  (He only wears a hat and carries a satchel) You can get away with that when you’re a weasel.  I’m not going to summarize the story.  It would take away the charm of discovering it yourself.  Promise me you will pay close attention to the illustration of the snowy day.

Papa Chagall Tell Us a Story by Laurence Anholt – ML saw the cover and exclaimed, “That painting’s in the art room at school.”  Anholt has created an entire series on a variety of painters.  ML wants to read Picasso and the Girl With a Ponytail next.

Please, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony –  Panda carries around a box of donuts asking everyone he meets, “Would you like a doughnut?”  However, he only gives one to lemur.  ML knows why lemur receives the doughnuts.  Can you figure it out before you read the book? Here’s a hint.  ML said, “The ostrich shouldn’t have said, ‘No, go away.’ He should have said, ‘No Thanks, I’m good”

Princess Patty Meets Her Match by Charise Mericle Harper – I’m not going to tell you the story line of this book.  It’s my favorite princess book ML and I’ve read together.  With eight years of reading together, I’d say twenty-five of the books involved princesses.  This doesn’t count the Disney princess books, which I always paraphrased.

George in the Dark by Madeline Valentine –  I was afraid of the dark.  ML rarely is.  If it was a nightly occurrence, this is the book I would choose to read to help discuss her fear.  The book begins with a positive slant; highlighting how brave George is about many things.  Then, shows his fear of the dark.  After he saves his bear from the darkest place, you get a clearer view of the items making the creepy shadows.

Snoozefest by Samanta Berger and illustrated by Kristyna Litten – After this week, I would love to have a Snoozefest.  There are a variety of places to snooze in the digital illustrations.  ML and I chose the hammocks.

 

 

Lily’s Review of Fish in a Tree

FishinTree

I’ve found an avid reader to help me review books for middle grade children.  Lily is a fourth grader.  I gave her mom a few new library books at a PTA meeting last week.  Within days, Lily had written two reviews for me.  She emailed me her first review saying, “Thanks, I really liked the book.”  Based on the word bookworm in her email address, I anticipate she will be an active reviewer.

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

  • Write three words to describe this book.  Intriguing Exciting Satisfying
  • What was you favorite part of the book?  Why?  My favorite part of the book was the end when Mr.Daniels meets Travis because Travis will start learning to read.
  • Who was your favorite character?  Why?  My favorite character was Mr.Daniels because he is funny and not like an ordinary teacher.
  • How did the book make your feel?  The book made me feel happy for Ally because she is finally getting help.
  • Did anything in the book make you happy?  If so, what?  The part of the book that made me feel happy was the part when Albert finally stands up to the boys that are mean to him.
  • Did anything in the book make you sad?  If so, what?  I didn’t like the parts where Shay and Jessica are mean to Ally.

Book Synopsis from Penguin – “Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.”

Presidential Reads

Presidential MisadventuresThose Founding FathersThomas JeffersonDear Mr WashingtonPresident TaftiPhone George Washington

 

It’s Presidents Day and I planned to finish this post before the day arrived so I could post it.  I didn’t; but have decided to post it in it’s incomplete form.  These are some great books.  Trust me.

Presidential Misadventures:  Poems that Poke Fun at the Man in Charge by Bob Raczka and art by Dan E. Burr – Have you ever heard of a clerihew?  I hadn’t until I read this book.  It’s a four line poem that pokes fun at a famous person.  The first two lines rhyme and the third and fourth lines rhyme.  There’s a poem written about each of the forty-four presidents.

The Founding Fathers: Those Horse Ridin’, Fiddle Playin’, Book Readin’ Gun Totin’ Gentlemen Who Started America by Jonah Winter and illustrated by Barry Blitt

Thomas Jefferson: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Everything by Maria Kalman – An exquisitely illustrated picture book describing the interests and complexities of Thomas Jefferson in simple age appropriate words.

Dear Mr. Washington by Lynn Cullen and pictures by Nancy Carpenter

President Taft is Stuck in the Bath by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Chris Van Dusen

The Left Behinds and the iPhone That Saved George Washington by David Potter

 

Keenan’s Review on Masterminds by Gordon Korman

Mastermind
Keenan is the fifth grade son of a coworker.  He’s an avid reader.  Every week I pick his mom’s brain about the books he enjoys.  When he visited the library last weekend,  I asked if he would do a review of a recent favorite read.  He chose Masterminds by Gordon Korman.
  • Write three words to describe this book.  Action packed, mysterious, exciting.
  • What was your favorite part of the book? Why?  My favorite part was when they found they were clones.  I loved their reaction.
  • Who was your favorite character?  Why?  Eli.  He was funny and had the best reactions.
  • How did the book make you feel?  Sad, but also in a weird sort of way happy.

Summary of the book from Harper Collins website:
Eli Frieden lives in the most perfect town in the world: Serenity, New Mexico. In this idyllic place, every lawn is perfectly manicured and everyone has a pool and a tree house. Honesty and integrity are valued above all else. The thirty kids who live there never lie—they know it’s a short leap from that to the awful problems of other, less fortunate places.

Eli has never left Serenity . . . Why would he ever want to? Then one day he bikes to the edge of the city limits and something so crazy and unexpected happens, it changes everything. Eli convinces his friends to help him investigate further, and soon it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems in Serenity. The clues mount to reveal a shocking discovery, connecting their ideal crime-free community to some of the greatest criminal masterminds ever known. The kids realize they can trust no one—least of all their own parents.

Worst in Show

Worst in Show

Worst in Show by William Bee by Kate Hindley – “It’s time for the Best Monster in the World Competition, and Albert can’t wait to enter his very own monster, Sidney, in the contest! Albert is absolutely sure that his pet is a winner. But, as monsters go, is sweet, well-behaved Sidney really the smelliest, dirtiest, most parasite-ridden monster of all?” (from Candlewick Press website)

Why should you read this book?
It’s “fartastic!”  My friend’s four-year-old son loves it and insisted they read it the past three nights.  Trust me, your child will be filled with glee hearing you read the words “Hairiest warts, smelliest fart, fartometer and Fartbuster 2000.”

Add an hour to bedtime stories the night you read this book.  You’ll need the extra time to delight in the silly illustrations.  ML enjoyed finding which judge fainted each round of the competition.