Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Honoring My Little Boy....

The fabulous Miss Charlotte over at Charlotte's Library has started a wonderful way to honor my son...and we need YOUR help! I'm including the text of her post, so you can get the idea of what we are trying to do:

In September, Amanda, at A Patchwork of Books, lost her little baby Jacob after a four month fight for his life. To honor Jacob's life, his mother's love of books, and the precious times when she and her husband read to him, the children's book blogging community has come together to give books away to places where they will bring happiness to other children and their parents.

The wonderfully talented writer and illustrator Katie Davis has designed a book plate just for Jacob, which can be downloaded from a pdf here. Please help us remember Jacob by printing book plates out on Avery full sized labels, putting them in books you know kids will love, and donating them wherever you think the need is greatest (such as a Ronald MacDonald House, which you can locate through this link, a Head Start Program, or a neighborhood center or church that serves needy kids).

If you need a suggestion for a book to donate, here's a list of favorites Amanda sent me:

Peg Leg Peke by Brie Spangler (this was Daddy's absolute favorite to read)
I Like Black and White by Barbara Jean Hicks (Jacob's favorite to look at, he could stare at the pictures all day)
On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman (Mommy's favorite to read)
Snuggle Puppy by Sandra Boynton (our "good morning" book)

And let me know, please, either by email (see below) or in the comments, what you've donated--I'd like to keep a list going at this post for Amanda and her husband to see (as much detail as you feel like giving--it would be great to know the number of books, or their titles, and where they've gone).

If you have any questions, please let me know at

To actually access the PDF, please visit Charlotte's blog. Though you can donate anywhere you choose, please keep in mind your local Ronald McDonald House. I'm sure they would loooove the books! They helped my husband and I so much over the last 4 months, I would love to give back to them.

Halloween Books: Day 6, Bats at the Library

Have I mentioned that Brian Lies is a brilliant, brilliant man enough times yet? I LOVED his work in Bats at the Beach, I mean...come ON! Could the illustrations be any more awesome? If anyone knows of any upcoming book signing trips to Southern New Mexico, I would be forever in your debt!

Anyways....I really think the newest title from this, ahem, brilliant author, Bats at the Library, is even more wonderful than the first title and definitely worthy for our Halloween Week Extravaganza! This time, our furry bat friends end up in one of my favorite places in the world, a library, and spend their night becoming immersed in books, reading each other stories, and, of course, photocopying their bodies on the public copier. Gotta love those bats!

The illustrations are, once again, fabulous, and the text has a wonderful rhyming lilt that children will love to listen to. I highly recommend this title, as well as Bats at the Beach, for story time read alouds or just for some one on one time with your kiddos.

I have to admit, I am not a fan of bats, as many children probably aren't either, due to a rather traumatic experience when I was but a wee 6 year old. Lived in a huge old house, bats came down the chimney all the time, parents would chase them with make a long story short, one got stuck in my hair while I was eating breakfast at the table and my dad was chasing it through the kitchen. Ummm....scary! So for me to enjoy the bat books is a big step! And if any books will make you love bats, it's these!

If you're interested in learning more about the fabulous Brian Lies books or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

And please Mr. Lies...keep writing the "bat" books!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween Books: Day 5, Monster Pop Ups

Jan Pienkowski has two monster related pop-up books out, perfect for this Halloween season. Though not fantastic reads in terms of text, the bright colors and fun monsters make these worth looking through with your kiddos!

Little Monsters and Dinner Time are each quite short, only a few pages, but each page includes a large pop-up of a yucky monster. In the first, we simply meet different types of monsters and in the second, a lot of going on. The colors are bold, bright, and eye catching, and kids will love looking at the pop-ups. Come on, who doesn't love pop-up books?!

My only slight recommendation is that the Dinner Time book may be a bit on the scary side for the really young ones, in terms of the text. The entire story is based on one animal eating another and though it doesn't actually show the process in the pop-ups, the smaller children may be a little freaked out at the idea of a gorilla getting eaten for dinner. Other than that, no warnings!

If you're interested in learning more about either title or to purchase, click on a book cover above to link to Amazon.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Mousetraps, the new YA title from author Pat Schmatz was surprisingly great. I say surprisingly only because that of all the books out there on the effects of bullying, not many are done as realistic a manner as this title. I really enjoyed most aspects of the novel, though there were a few trouble spots that I felt could have been reworked a little bit.

Maxie and Rick were friends a long time ago, coming up with inventive mousetraps that they would draw out on paper, passing the pad back and forth to create some pretty cool and creative art. The Rick disappeared after a horrifying experience, not bothering to contact Maxie anymore and leaving her always wondering what happened to him.

Fast forward to high school and Maxie has lots of friends, though she never forgot about her friendship with Rick. When he makes a reappearance back at school, she's both excited and cautious, not sure if they can really be friends again after their weird parting all those years ago. Slowly, the pair try to forge ahead with their friendship again and Rick begins confiding some of his past with Maxie...filling her in on some scary things. Rick begins to show a different side of himself and Maxie is quite sure where her loyalties lie, whether with her old friend Rick or within herself.

Mousetraps was fresh and quite enjoyable, despite the subject matter. I LOVE that the author interjected the mousetrap and cartoon drawings in between text on some was fun and really allowed me to understand both Rick and Maxie a bit more. The preachiness about bullying was kept to a minimum, not too much at all, though I do have one criticism. Towards the end (which I won't give away), something big happens. Something that I feel was unnecessary to the plot and that almost took the message overboard. I feel the story of Rick and Maxie was playing out beautifully and in a manner which teens would understand, then the we were dealt a blow that I just don't think needed to be handed to the reader. If you read this, I would love to know your opinion!

Even with the over-the-top ending, I still really enjoyed Mousetraps. I think Pat Schmatz did a great job getting into teens heads to create likable, relatable characters. I can see my teens reading this and passing it to their friends when they're finished...always a plus!

If you're interested in learning more about Mousetraps or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Halloween Books: Day 4 Twelve Terrible Things

When I first started turning the pages of Twelve Terrible Things, written and illustrated by Marty Kelley, I wasn't so sure I was going to enjoy the book. It was filled with bad things, experiences no one wants to go through...then I realize...duh Amanda, that's the POINT! Needless to say, I ended up very impressed.

The point of this yucky picture book is definitely fulled as each page introduces us to something terrible to children. The first page even offers fair warning to readers as to how terrible the pages in the book really are; I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised! We start off easy, with the ice cream falling off a child's cone. We then graduate to a more higher level of terribleness with a visit to the dentist's office and the arrival of a cheek-pinching Aunt. Finally we move to the truly terrible experiences: jumping off a high dive at the pool and flushing the pet goldfish down the toilet. Lovely huh?

The true gem within this book are the amazing illustrations. They are done so well, they almost look as if they are photographs jumping off the page. My favorite page is that of the dentist reaching into the patient's mouth...he really looks like he's coming for you! I was in awe by the realistic nature of Kelley's drawings.

Kids will laugh all the way through Twelve Terrible Things and none of the experiences listed are so terrible as to not be shared with the little ones. Though I will admit, if you're not scared of clowns before reading this, you just may be afterwards!

If you would like to learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Books, Day 3: Pretty Little Monsters

Kelly Link has created a unique collection of weird stories in Pretty Monsters: Stories. All of these stories are completely unexpected in their plots and have tidbits in them that I have absolutely never seen before! Though not necessarily a Halloween Book, Pretty Monsters is definitely a creepy, and sometimes hilarious, read.

My favorite story, simply for it's amazingly unique basis, is "The Faery's Handbag." A young girl has a grandmother that holds an entire village in her handbag! And it's a totally NORMAL thing! How crazy is that? Another great story, definitely creepy creature related, is "Monster," in which teen boys at a summer camp are stalked and ravaged by a scary beast. Another story is about aliens and yet another is about an addictive tv show....what's really going on in that show?

Incredibly unique and filled with lots of creepiness, Pretty Monsters is a great teen choice for the Halloween season. I found myself shivering half the time, while the other half I was laughing with incredulity!

If you want to learn more, or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Picture Book Saturday: Halloween Books Day 2

Today is Day 2 of my Halloween book extravaganza, the Picture Book Saturday edition. I have three picture books for you, each with a scary, creepy, or plain old Halloween theme. Enjoy!

Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody is written and illustrated by the wonderful, Michael Rex. A play on the infamous Goodnight Moon, in this story we are little werewolves going to bed in a black lagoon! The reader gets to say goodnight to martians, tombs, and lots of other creepy things, preparing to fall sound asleep. Each page draws the reader into another part of the scary lagoon and allows us to bid goodnight to something yucky! Great for a read aloud. If you're having a Halloween program this week, I would definitely suggest this as one of the stories you read! Even better if your kids are familiar with Goodnight Moon, you'll hear giggles all over the room.

Where's My Mummy?, written by Carolyn Crimi and illustrated by John Manders is an equally adorable selection for a Halloween program or story time read aloud. Before he goes off to bed, Little Baby Mummy wants to play one more round of "hide and shriek" with his Mama Mummy. While Mama counts higher and higher, Little Baby Mummy runs to hide. venturing off into very scary places (like a creepy cemetery), but being very brave! He meets all sorts of scary and creepy characters, without showing one ounce of fear...until the least scary creature of all crosses his path. Only THEN does Little Baby Mummy cry out for Big Mama Mummy to come and find him!

Another one that will really get the kids giggling! The illustrations in this one are absolutely fabulous and the cover is just adorable. I will probably keep this one to read year-round, it's that cute!

Finally, we have one of my absolute favorite books of the year. The Little Bit Scary People, written by the ever-so-wonderful Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger, is not a Halloween related book, but it definitely does have to do with being scared! A little girl introduces us to all of the people she finds "a little bit scary," like her intimidating teacher, an impatient bus driver, and a boy on a skateboard. She finds each of these people a little bit scary, but then tells us why they aren't scary at all!

This is a fabulous book for teaching kids about not being judgmental, without being preachy. I'm not a fan of books that tell the reader flat-out what to do and not to do, this title simply explains why someone might appear frightening, but after talking with them, they are actually very kind! Another fantastic title for read-alouds and the illustrations are divine! I loved this one and tried VERY hard to get it nominated for a Cybil...I haven't checked to see if I succeeded or not.

If you want to learn more about any of these titles or to purchase, click on any of the book covers above to link to Amazon.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween Books: Day 1

Since Halloween is a week from tonight...and I'm a bit too old to go trick or treating myself (plus I'll be in Chicago, I figured celebrating this fun kid-oriented with a Halloween book or two each day would be fun! I know many of you don't celebrate Halloween, so I will be including some fun, fall-oriented books throughout the week as well and I'll have a span of board books, picture books, middle grade, and young adult. Some scary, some easy. Hopefully you'll find something you and your family will enjoy!

The first title I want to talk about is an adorable board book by Leslie that I will most definitely be bringing with me to see my 7 month old nephew next weekend. He'll love it!

Tucker's Spooky Halloween is a bigger board book in size, but has the same simple concepts for babies and toddlers that any other board book would have. We meet Tucker, a cute little dog searching for a "scary" Halloween costume. He keeps trying and trying to find a really spooky costume, but isn't having any luck at all...all the costumes are too cute! Finally, he uses his imagination and is able to come up with the perfect costume. Very spooky!

Really, a very cute book and perfect for older infants and toddlers as they prepare for Halloween!

If you're interested in learning more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Poetry Friday: Keeping the Night Watch

What a beautiful little book! Hope Anita Smith's newest title, Keeping the Night Watch, is a short little novel in verse, telling the story of CJ, a thirteen year old whose father walked out on his family and then makes a reappearance. CJ had to become a man much before his time and when his father waltzes back in the door, expecting forgiveness, the rest of the family easily concedes, but CJ isn't so sure he can trust the man who walked away.

Each page holds a beautiful poem, conducive to the plot, as well as a gorgeous illustration, done by E.B. Lewis. Who would have thought how much impact illustrations could have on a young adult book? They really help tell of CJ's vulnerability and heartache, as well as his distrust in his father. The reader is truly able to feel the emotional value in the book and connect with CJ's pain, yet still feel for his dad. It's all a very real feeling.

We are able to grow with CJ from the beginning, as he first is lost without his father, becomes mature and strong, almost hard, and then when his father comes back, vulnerable and angry. Towards the end we are able to see the softening of CJ's heart, yet Smith left the ending as hopeful,not tidy. Everything does not become sweet and whole, but the path has been marked and CJ is following it.

Keeping the Night Watch is a great book to introduce to reluctant readers of both the middle grade and young adult scale. It's short, always a plus, and there are pictures! Both of which will appeal to the reluctance, but also makes a great story.

To learn more, or the purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Adventures of Little Wombat

I'm not usually a fan of picture book, only because they are so hard to sit down and read out loud from. Not comfortable in one hand, for a read aloud. I much prefer a single, 32 page picture book. The Adventures of Little Wombat however, I'll make an exception for!

The first two books included in this collection, Sometimes I Like to Curl up in a Ball and Found You, Little Wombat are all written by different authors, (Vicki Churchill, Angela McAllister respectively) and the second two titles, Swim, Little Wombat, Swim and Where to Little Wombat are both written by Charles Fuge. Fuge also illustrated each title...and beautifully I might add.

The stories are simplistic and fun, the illustrations wonderful. Sometimes the text requires the reader to flip the book sideways, resulting in a nice amount of interaction and the actual text is both funny and sweet. Not too short, not too long. This is really a perfect story collection for libraries or home use. My favorite story was actual the first, Sometimes I Like to Curl up in a Ball. SO cute!

I fell in love with Little Wombat! This book would also make a great Christmas gift for someone just learning to read. I have several in mind...

If you want to learn more or would like to purchase, just click on the book cover above and it will link you to Amazon.

Oh Miss Violet

Danette Haworth, author of Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning, has created this down-home, likable character in Violet. She is such an ordinary young girl, living a life of fun and innocence with her best friend, Lottie, when Melissa moves to town, changing everything.

Violet is now expected, by both Melissa and Lottie, to wear makeup, talk about boys, play truth or dare, and become this mischieveous little being. Violet doesn't like change, enjoying her simple life just the way it is, but she wants friends, especially her friendship with Lottie to remain just as close as it has always been. She doesn't want to grow up as fast as the other girls seem to want to, but is unclear as to how to remain herself amongst Lottie and Melissa.

When Lottie and her family begin to go through a crisis, Violet soon learns that in order to stay the same person, she has to give in a bit to the change. Her character is incredibly strong and likable, definitely one middle grade girls can relate to and look up to.

Another blogger compared Violet to Veda in the famous movie "My Girl." Though the story plots are not at all similar, Violet and Veda are very similar in their character and their desire to never change. Getting older is inevitable in life, but both girls fight against it, tooth and nail.

Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning was a lovely, heartwarming little book I've been recommending to young girls left and right. It's beautifully written with such a simple, yet large concept. Definitely a great purchase for libraries or for your own girls!

To learn more or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Discover America, Discover the World

I've had several previous posts on my love of the Discover America alphabet and numbers book series, but I couldn't help but post again. I want the word out about these puppies! They are amazing for such a variety of age ranges, a quality that many books can't help but lack. There is also a Discover the World series, very similar, just about different countries, rather than states.

The three newest (at least the newest I've seen) are titled: Golden Numbers: A California Numbers Book written by David Domeniconi and illustrated by Pam Carroll, Natural Numbers: An Arkansas Number Book written by Michael Shoulders and illustrated by Rick Anderson, and P is for PiƱata: A Mexico Alphabet written by Tony Johnston and illustrated by John Parra. Though I wasn't overly thrilled with the illustrations in the last book, the text is fantastic, as usual. Part children's alphabet/counting book, part factual non-fiction book, both younger children and older children can really enjoy use out of these books.

The books can easily be used as resources for country and state reports, as well as simple rhyming alphabet and counting books to teach younger ones their letters and numbers, as well as facts about America and the world.

If you would like to learn more about these titles or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

After Tupac and D Foster

Jacqueline Woodson has the knack of getting down to the nitty gritty in books, that not many authors possess. She blends hardship, tragedy, and raw emotion with drama and relationships, making for great reads. Though her latest, After Tupac and D Foster is not my favorite title of hers, the style of writing and the sheer emotional connections certainly play out, as in her previous books.

When two twelve year old best friends meet D Foster, an outsider to both the town and to the girls, whose mother abandoned her, their lives are instantly changed. The threesome become extremely close, each having family problems, racial issues, and problems with poverty, but the musical world of the rapper, Tupac, connect them.

Through Tupac's lyrics, the girls analyze their lives, friendships, and relationships. They go through incredibly difficult experiences together, with a backdrop of Tupac. When D's mother comes back and wants to take D away, and their beloved Tupac is shot, the girl's friendship will really be put to the ultimate test.

Woodson's novel is bound to appeal to the reluctant reader, which made me want to put it on the shelves at the library immediately. The book is short, filled with great characters and issues, and written in an easy-to-read flow. My only "complaint" is that I feel there almost could have been a bit more meat to the story, maybe another 20 pages or so, just to complete it a little better. I felt the end came up a little too quickly and a few extra pages or one more chapter would have ended it all nicely.

After Tupac and D Foster should be added to any collection that is both familiar and unfamiliar with Jacqueline Woodson's work. To learn more about it or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Nancy Werlin has created this novel that will take you on an incredible rollercoaster. Though infused with the supernatural, you certainly will not walk away from Impossible saying you just finished a fantasy novel. Instead, you get realistic characters and a beautifully emotional story.

Lucy Scarborough is seventeen and living with her loving, fabulous foster parents. She has always known that her mother went crazy when she was younger, bringing her into Leo and Soledad's home. Though sad and pained by her mother's state, Lucy is generally happy as to where her life has taken her, even with a few dramatic and unexpected visits from her birth mom. Up until this point, Lucy has been able to lead a fairly normal existence.


After a devastating prom evening, Lucy soon learns that she may just be following in her insane mother's footsteps, as she has become a pregnant teenager. Determined to keep the baby, but not to turn into her birth mom, Lucy researches her mother's life and finds letters and diary entries explaining about a curse that will hit every Scarborough woman when she reaches the age of 17. She will become pregnant and then go crazy.

Lucy sets off on an intense journey to discover the truth of this curse and whether she is destined to lose her mind as well. Wanting to keep her child safe from harm is Lucy's main objective, but deep down she also wishes to help her mother and ultimately, herself. She must follow the instructions and clues given to her by her birth mother, in order to break the curse on her life....if the curse is even real.

Werlin has blended, quite brilliantly, the power of a fantasy novel and a dramatic, emotionally ravaging tear-jerker. The character of Lucy was wonderfully done, as were that of Soledad and Leo. At times I felt Lucy's birth mom needed more of a physical role, as she was so often spoken of, but most of the time I felt good about her distance.

This will be a winner with teens, for sure! To learn more about Impossible or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Non-Fiction Monday: Lifeline Biographies

I'm a big fan of biographies, especially those geared towards kids, but I haven't highlighted many on this blog. I figured for this Non-Fiction Monday it would be nice to feature a series I enjoy, from a genre I don't normally post on. Hopefully you enjoy!

"The USA Today Lifeline Biography" series is a very modern and contemporary way of presenting information to kids about influential people in today's society. A lot of biographies are dry, filled with lots of words and facts, but not a lot of really interesting material, but these are truly great books. Each title features a different person, facts about their early life through the present, timelines, websites, newspaper headlines, and awesome photographs. The text is written in a light and easy to read manner. The books I've reviewed, on Bill Gates, Oprah, Tiger Woods, and Vera Wang are all very contemporary and contain information that kids will find relevant to today. Definitely a plus for a biography!

As a librarian, I can tell you that kids are sick of doing reports on the same people all the time. Having new and fresh titles on people like these 4 will encourage kids to pick them up and use them. I think it's a winning series and would be great for any library.

Giveaway winner

The winner of my two picture book giveaway is.....


YAY!! Congrats to Katy and thanks to all who entered. Keep checking back....lots of giveaways coming up!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Don't forget the giveaway!

My giveaway of The Day Leo Said I Hate You and Mail Harry to the Moon is going on until midnight tonight. Go HERE to enter!

Zibby Payne and Piper Reed

Alison Bell and Kimberly Willis Holt have each created super cute, girly series, based on the lives of two ordinary, yet extraordinary girls, Zibby Payne and Piper Reed.

In the Zibby Payne books we meet sixth-grader Zibby. The first two titles, Zibby Payne & the Wonderful, Terrible Tomboy Experiment and Zibby Payne & the Drama Trauma are very quick reads following stubborn and headstrong Zibby and her myriad of daily troubles. Zibby is not afraid to be herself, even while her friends are constantly changing before her eyes. When boys come into the picture and Zibby knows she isn’t interested in kissing them, she stands her ground. She is a smart, lovely character that is also extremely funny and enjoyable.

In the Piper books, Holt (with illustrator Christine Davenier) introduce us to fourth grader Piper Reed, an incredibly precocious girl with a Naval Chief for a dad. Piper and her family have been shipped all around the country and have to learn to adjust to a new home life every couple of years. In the first two books, Piper Reed: Navy Brat and Piper Reed: The Great Gypsy, Piper will make readers laugh on every page as she torments both her younger and older sisters, attempts to train an untrainable poodle named Bruna, and tries to make friends. She is a very likeable, normal girl, that lives well in a military family. Being military myself, it was nice to see a military family portrayed in such a positive light.

Our girl readers need more characters like Zibby and Piper. Both are somewhat reminiscent of Ramona, though in a more modern setting, and even have some aspects of Anne (Piper reminds me of an older Clementine). Go check these out for your daughter…or for yourself…they are very good and offer smart, positive characters. My 11 year old niece is getting a copy of each for Christmas!

If you want to learn more about these books, or to purchase, click on the book covers above to link to Amazon.

End of the Read-a-thon Meme

1. Which hour was most daunting for you?

Well, I made it to hour 18, then had to go to sleep.

2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?

I didn't read anything incredibly high-interest, just short. I had been wanting to read each of these books for awhile and being on the Cybils panel, my time is now taken up with those books, so I made sure to read ones that had been on my shelf for awhile. The Unspoken by Thomas Fahy was probably the most "thrilling."

3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

I really don't think so. It went really well...though I would have liked to win a prize! :-)

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?

This was my first time participating, but I did like the mini-challenges. Having those really broke up the constant reading!

5. How many books did you read?

9 1/2

6. What were the names of the books you read?

The Unspoken by Thomas Fahy

Perch, Mrs. Sackets, and Crow's Nest by Karen Pavlicin

The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan

The Debs by Susan McBride

T4 by Ann Clare LeZotte

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko

Knit Two by Kate Jacobs

Toy Dance Party by Emily Jenkins

Bog Child by Siobhan Down

1/4 of The Graveyard book and 1/4 of Child of Dandelions

2 magazines

45 minutes of an audio book

7. Which book did you enjoy most?

Probably The Maze of Bones. Unfortunately none of them were fantastic.

8. Which did you enjoy least?

The Debs

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders?


10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?

I would love to participate again! I got through SO many books! I would probably be a reader again.

Read-A-Thon: Update 5

Unfortunately folks, my bed is calling! I have company coming tomorrow afternoon, church early in the morning, and some cooking inbetween, so sleep is a must. I'm going to try to read for another hour or so in bed and I'll write up my final post in the morning. It's been fun!

Time started: 7:50 am
Time now: 11:12 pm
Pages read: 1854
Books completed: 9
Books listened to: 45 minutes of The Mark by Tim LaHaye
Magazines Read: 2 (School Library Journal and People)
Mini Challenges completed: 8 (I think...kinda lost count)

The Unspoken by Thomas Fahy
Perch, Mrs. Sackets, and Crow's Nest by Karen Pavlicin
The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
Toy Dance Party by Emily Jenkins
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
T4 by Ann Clare Lezotte
If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko
The Debs by Susan McBride
Knit Two by Kate Jacobs

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Read-A-Thon: Update 4

Dinner is done, a walk is out of the way, and more cleaning up has been done, as well as a bit more reading. Not as much as I would like, but it's still something! While on my walk I also listened to an audiobook, so even though I didn't "read" the pages, I still listened!

Time started: 7:50 am
Time now: 9:12 pm
Pages read: 1620
Books completed: 8.25
Books listened to: 45 minutes of The Mark by Tim LaHaye
Mini Challenges completed: 8 (I think...kinda lost count)

The Unspoken by Thomas Fahy
Perch, Mrs. Sackets, and Crow's Nest by Karen Pavlicin
The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
Toy Dance Party by Emily Jenkins
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
T4 by Ann Clare Lezotte
If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko
The Debs by Susan McBride
part of Knit Two by Kate Jacobs

My plan for the rest of the evening is to continue to participate in as many challenges as I can and stay up as late as I can. I know I won't make the entire challenge...I have too long of a day tomorrow to get no sleep at all, but I'll see how far I can make it!

Hope everyone else is doing well!

Read-A-Thon: Update 3

Reading the short books is most definitely helping me along in this event. I've taken the strategy now of reading the shorter books for awhile, then getting back into Bog Child, then taking a break from that (it's such an intense read it I really have to take my time). Here's where I stand at this point:

Time started: 7:50 am
Time now: 5:50 pm
Pages read: 834
Books completed: 6.5
Mini Challenges completed: 5

The Unspoken by Thomas Fahy
Perch, Mrs. Sackets, and Crow's Nest by Karen Pavlicin
The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
Toy Dance Party by Emily Jenkins
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
T4 by Ann Clare Lezotte

Now it's time to make dinner and take my nightly walk, then back to the books! I hope everyone else is doing well!

Midway Survey!

We're halfway there!! This survey is the mini-challenge of the hour:

Mid-Event Survey:

1. What are you reading right now?

I'm almost done with Bog Child and I'm also about halfway through Knit Two by Kate Jacobs.

2. How many books have you read so far?

About 6

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?

Graveyard by Neil Gaiman. I've heard such good things!

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?

Well yes and no. I had to certainly explain to my husband as to why he had to do most of the cleaning for our friend's visit tomorrow, but he's a good one and didn't care. I also had planned to not go to our "every Saturday" lunch out for BBQ, but we went anyways. We just both brought books and ate/read at a picnic table.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?

The interruptions have been self-induced. I have the guilty feeling of sitting around all day with a book in my hand, so every hour or so I've gotten up and done a chore of some sort. It's working out pretty well.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?

I'm surprised I haven't gotten "tired" of reading yet. Not that I could ever not want to read, but I've never read for such a long stretch at one time. Haven't gotten bored yet though!

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?

Not yet...maybe by the end I'll have a suggestion.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?

I would either have my house already spotless by the time the read-a-thon came around or I wouldn't plan to have company the very next day. I'm already going to be exhausted.

9. Are you getting tired yet?

Not of reading! Tired in general? Always...

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?

Taking frequent breaks to do other things. It's helped keep me focused when I am actually sitting down to read. Plus the shorter books have helped. Most of my choices have been middle grade or YA fiction.


I'm taking a break, as requested for this hour's mini-challenge and went outside to play with our dog. It didn't last that long, since I feel it's ridiculously warm to be mid-October. I think it hit 85 today. I can't wait to move back to NY and have a real "fall!" Anywho, here's a picture:

Read-A-Thon: Update 2

Ahhhhh!!! Someone make me sit down! I'm having such a hard time just sitting still! I really think it's the guilt of doing "nothing" that has kicked in and is making me restless. Saturday is always the day the hubby and I clean and organize from a busy week and I'm sitting around under a blanket with a pile of books!

I have gotten a bit more reading done, though not nearly what I would have liked. I finished another book and am halfway through Bog Child, which has been my in-between read to keep things fresh. Read three chapters of one book, then one chapter of Bog Child and I'm good. I've also filled some picture frames, made lunch, and did a load of laundry. Boo.

Start time: 7:50 AM
Time Now: 3:12 PM
Pages read: 587
Books completed: 4.5
Mini Challenges completed: 3

The Unspoken by Thomas Fahy
Perch, Mrs. Sackets, and Crow's Nest by Karen Pavlicin
The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
Toy Dance Party by Emily Jenkins

Read-A-Thon: Update

I'm now realizing just how hard it is for me to sit still and just read! For the last three hours I've done my best to only read my books, but unfortunately the duties of a host interfere. We're having a guest tomorrow and thus I've gotten up to dust the living room and sweep the kitchen. Hopefully the husband will do the mopping...

Start time: 7:50am
Time now: 10:30am
Pages read: 319
Books completed: 2.25
Mini-Challenges completed: 2 (Intro meme, free rice challenge)

The Unspoken by Thomas Fahy
Perch, Mrs. Sackets, and Crow's Nest by Karen Pavlicin
part of Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd

Read-A-Thon: Kick Off Post

I was supposed to start reading at 6am, but I'm a little over an hour behind, not a big deal. I'm hoping to get through quite a few books today, mainly those I've wanted to read and if I don't now I won't get to them until after the Cybils are done.

Where are you reading from today? Home and probably the car. We have some errands to run today, so I'll keep reading, even during those!

3 facts about me … I like being up early, but I like going to bed early too (uh-oh). I like my Dunkin Donuts brand coffee with hazelnut creamer. I prefer trade paperbacks to mass markets and hardcovers.

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? My entire house is a TBR pile!

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? 5 or 6 books. Hopefully I can exceed that.

If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?Not a vet. First one!

I'll update every few hours and am looking forward to the mini-challenges. Good luck everyone!

Starting time: 7:20 am
Time now: 7:15am
Pages read: 0
Books completed: 0

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Ghost's Child

In The Ghost's Child, written by Sonya Hartnett, we meet Maddie, an elderly woman that returns home one afternoon and finds a peculiar little boy waiting for her in the living room. He offers no explanation as to why he has entered her home or what he comes for, but he enchants her enough that she offers him tea and proceeds to pour out her life story to him, mainly that of a wild man she fell in love with and ultimately left her heartbroken.

The boy responds to many of Maddie's descriptions with appropriate questions (though appropriate for a small child I'm not sure) and is both adorable and mischievous. Maddie and her past are both haunting and wonderful at the same time, making for a beautifully put together story.

I was quite intrigued by this little novel and was not disappointed once I finished it. The characters were lovely and the writing artistic and unique. That being said, I have a hard time picturing any young adults picking this book up and reading it for pleasure. It reads like a story I would have been handed as an assignment in AP English years ago (it actually reminded me of The Yellow Wallpaper...why I'm not entirely sure). Perfect for writing a paper, as it's shrouded in mystery and intrigue, but the language is rather intense and their isn't a whole lot of excitement. I can see many of us adults enjoying it, but I can't see any of my patrons reading it.

If you're interested in learning more about The Ghost's Child or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Picture Book...Friday!

I'm participating in the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon tomorrow and so instead of a Picture Book Saturday, we're having a Picture Book Friday this week! Here's this week's great titles:

Wabi Sabi, written by Mark Reibstein and illustrated by Ed Young, is definitely one of the more unique books I've read this year. The story is based on a cat from Japan, Wabi Sabi, that wants to know what her name means and where it comes from, setting off on an adventure to find her answers. The book is written partially in haiku, in a traditional vertical style, and the art is amazing. I couldn't even begin to tell you how the illustrator created his pictures, but their phenomenal. A lovely edition to the book is the inclusion of some Japanese translations in the back.

Wabi Sabi could be used in classrooms for Japan units or just as a cute one-on-one story. Very enjoyable!

The Wheat Doll, written by Alison L. Randall and illustrated by Bill Farnsworth is based ona real little girl named Mary Ann that creates her prized doll out of wheat, being that her farming family does not have money for a store bought doll. When a tornado comes and Mary Ann leaves her beloved doll outside and the doll is lost, she's devastated, but after some time passes and her doll shows up in an unexpected place, Mary Ann is both surprised and thrilled.

Another sweet story for some one-on-one reading time. I can see my younger nieces getting a kick out of this story, which is based on a real girl. More information on Mary Ann is found in the back of the book. The illustrations in this title were beautiful and appeared almost like oil paintings. This one will be a Christmas gift for a few little ones for sure!

Finally, my cute one for the week, Big Little Monkey, written by Carole Lexa Schaefer and illustrated by Pierre Pratt, is a great for your little toddlers. When Little Monkey wakes up early and wants to play, his family tells him to go back to sleep! Instead, Little Monkey sets out on an adventure to find someone else to play with. He proves to his family just how big and brave he has gotten by playing with all sorts of new and different animals.

Cute, whimsical, and silly, Little Monkey is sure to be a pleaser for your little monkeys!

To learn more about any of these titles or to purchase, click on the book covers above.

Don't forget to enter my contest for two great picture books! Go HERE to enter.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm a Reader!!

I have been so bad at the last 2 Read-a-Thons I'm entered...the fact being that I never participated in either one. The first one I entered, I think last October, I ended up working that day and of course, reading at work is never a good idea (some people think that's all us librarians do) and the second one, back in April or May, I ended up in the hospital for something baby related. Probably blood pressure, that seemed to be my nemesis. THIS time around, I'm signed up and darn it, I'm reading!

I have a nice list of books I hope to get through, though I do have some house cleaning and shopping to do throughout the day, as we have a guest coming on Sunday. And I probably won't make it the full 24 hours...once I'm tired, looking at book pages just puts me to sleep faster. We'll see how I do!

I'll have my regular "Picture Book Saturday" post up tomorrow instead.

There's still time to sign up, so click on the button to head on over a put yer name on the list! Tons of prizes, lots of fun!


I love giving away's one of my favorite things to do as a blogger! I've been given two books by Little, Brown to giveaway to you all, both of which I'm pretty sure were nominated for Cybil awards and rightly so. I loved them both and can't wait to be able to use them in a story time.

The Day Leo Said I Hate You, written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Mollie Bang is the adorable story of a little boy that makes the mistake of telling his Mommy that he hates her. The build-up, the words, the "I'm sorries" are all incredibly cute and Ms. Bang's illustrations are superb. Kids will love hearing the story read to them and will learn valuable lessons about why "I hate you" is not a nice thing to say to anyone.

Mail Harry to the Moon, also written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Michael Emberley tells of a little boy that is just insulted that his baby brother is now living with his family. Life was much better before Harry came along and his older brother wishes him away in many forms, including mailing Harry to the moon! When Harry actually disappears, his older brother is afraid he really did get shipped to the moon!

With adorable comic-book-like illustrations and hilarious text, this is another great read aloud. Very appropriate to read one-on-one with older siblings. Loved it!

You can win both of these lovely books...simply leave a comment on this post by 12 midnight (Mountain Time) on Monday telling me one of your favorite picture books of the year. It doesn't have to have been published this year, just whatever was your favorite that you read to yourself or your children.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Absolute Brightness

Being an individual in today's society, especially when you're 14 is a nightmare, one that Pheobe's newfound cousin Leonard lives every day. When Leonard, in all his bright, flamboyant, glory comes to live with Phoebe, her sister, and her mom, she dreads having a new person in the house, but really dreads it once she meets Leonard. He wears neon colors, builds his own platform shoes from layers of brightly colored flip flops and spends more time making over her mom's hair salon customers than he does trying to belong with kids his own age. Leonard is a target for bullying in every way and Phoebe slowly becomes disinterested in helping Leonard out of his scraps, no matter how nice he is to her.

When Leonard disappears, Phoebe finally takes an interest in Leonard, though she fears it may be too late. The skinny, boisterous 14 year old boy makes an even bigger impact on the small town of Neptune when he's missing, than he ever did when he was there every day. The story goes on to describe just what happened to Leonard and the aftermath on both Phoebe's family and the town of Neptune. Leonard wasn't scared to be himself, but everyone else was frightened when he was.

Absolute Brightness, written by James Lecesne, had such potential...unfortunately it just didn't do it for me. Waaay too much was going on in this almost 500 page novel. I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be about Phoebe and her reaction to being drawn out of her comfort zone or if it was about Leonard and his courage to be an individual in a world of copy cats. Too many twists and turns, that I feel were unnecessary were constantly being introduced, with issues of both Pheobe and Leonard, plus a late introduction of an problem with Phoebe's sister and then a problem with Phoebe's boyfriend. Too many problems, too much info, took away from a great story. Chop the book down to about 300 pages and the novel probably would have been a success with me.

If you would like to learn more about the book or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Chronicle Book Sale

Over at Chronicle Books, they are have a huge Halloween sale with 25% off a whole bunch of items AND free shipping. Just enter HALLOWEEN08 at checkout. The sale is on until the 17th. I know a lot of you shop at that site, so I figured I would send out the word! Sales are the best!

Go here to shop!

The Shape of Mercy

What a great, juicy novel this was! Susan Meissner's newest piece of fiction, The Shape of Mercy, combines faith, history, and true human emotion in a story that will leave you with feelings of true sadness for the characters, but an inner peace as well. She's such a great writer!

Lauren Durough comes from an extremely wealthy family, but is determined to provide for herself and not rely on her father's money. She takes a part-time job as a transcriber for an elderly librarian, Abigail Boyles. Abigail is quite mysterious about what she wants Lauren to transcribe but is convinced she is the perfect candidate for the job.

When Lauren begins her work, she soon realizes that she is transcribing the diary of Mercy Hayworth, a victim of the horrific Salem witch trails many years ago. She falls in love with Mercy's story and becomes extremely emotionally attached to all of the people described in Mercy's diary, finding pieces of herself within those individuals. As Lauren looks deeper into the diary, she also looks deeper into herself and the different relationships in her life, allowing true feelings and emotions she has never before experienced, shine through.

Meissner has this way of writing characters that just feel like real people you could be friends with. I could be friends with Lauren in a heartbeat and that one aspect made me want to know where she went in this story. I read a lot of children's and young adult books, needing a special adult novel to really draw me in...this was one of those special novels.

If you would like to learn more about Susan Meissner's The Shape of Mercy (or any of her other books) or to purchase this title, just click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

I'll also be having a giveaway of this title closer to Christmas. Keep your eyes peeled!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Non-Fiction Monday: Saving Our Living Earth

Global warming, climate change, and all kinds of environmental issues are incredibly prominent in the media right now (and rightly so), but kids may not understand exactly why these issues are so important to them and their future. The "Saving Our Living Earth series" presents answers to all sorts of different questions kids could have about the Earth and it's current state, in a clear, simple manner, easily understood by middle graders and up.

The set includes eight different titles:
Understanding Global Warming
Earth-Friendly Energy
Protecting Earth's Water Supply
Protecting Earth's Air Quality
Protecting Earth's Land
Earth-Friendly Waste Management
Earth-Friendly Design
Protecting Earth's Rainforests

Each title is filled with brightly colored photographs, little fact boxes that add a human interest aspect to all the facts, tips on going green, a section on how to write to your legislation, a glossary, and other titles for further reading on each topic.

The books themselves are extremely durable, perfect for library use, and the best part is that the pages are printed on 30 percent recycled post-consumer waste fibers. I hope more books catch on to the trend of printing on recycled paper, it's really so important!

This series is a must for library shelves, both school and public, as kids can use them as sources for reports, as well as a source on more ways to go green. The material is interesting, not your typical boring non-fiction book, and I know these would move well in a library. They are a little pricey for home shelves and personal use, as most non-fiction reference titles are, but if you're a homeschooling parent I would definitely suggest investing in at least one or two of the titles, as they will be great references for years to come.

For more info on each title or to purchase, click on one of the book covers above to link to Amazon.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Nomination Suggestions

Ya'll only have 4 more days to vote for books in the Cybil Awards and unfortunately, a lot of great books have not yet been nominated. If you haven't yet nominated a book and are at a loss for what to nominate, here are some of my own suggestions:

The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins (Fiction Picture Books)

Ma! There's Nothing to Do Here! by Barbara Park (Fiction Picture Books)

Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan (Fiction Picture Books)

Queste by Angie Sage (Fantasy/Sci-Fi)

The Other Book by Philip Womack (Fantasy/Sci-Fi)

Go here to nominate!

The Sky Inside by Clare Dunkel (Fantasy/Sci-Fi)

Picture Book Saturday!

I have four, titles for you this Saturday! Hopefully you'll find something to enjoy with your little ones!

The Nine Lives of Dudley Dog written and illustrated by Don and Ann Hassett is really adorable. When a little girl wishes for a cat, but gets Dudley the dog instead, she knows there is bound to be trouble. Dudley believes he has nine lives, much like a cat is believed to have, and thus gets himself into all sorts of scraps and accidents. He almost gets run over by cars, runs into burning buildings, and chases skunks.

The illustrations are cute and fit well with the story and your kids will be giggling at Dudley the whole way!

Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck! written by Kyle Mewburn and illustrated by Ali Teo and John O'Reilly is another cute and giggle worthy story. Andy's Aunt Edna is always delighted to see him, but he's never happy to see her, as she does nothing but smother him in kisses! Andy always runs, but Aunt Edna finds someway to get him out in the open, the perfect target for lipsticky smooches and smooshy hugs. When Aunt Edna doesn't show up one weekend, Andy is, at first, thrilled he doesn't have to run and hide from kisses, but soon realizes he may miss those kisses more than he thought!

The illustrations in this title are the best part. They are done in a manner much like comics with bright, bold, eye-catching pages. Another one kids will be giggling at the whole way through! Not to mention we probably all have an Aunt Edna somewhere out there!

Puppies on Board, written by Sarah N. Harvey and illustrated by Rose Cowles is the story of eleven cute puppies and their quest for a home. When Mollie's dog has the eleven puppies on her family's boat, there are entirely too many puppies on board! Mollie invites all of her very different friends to a tea party, hoping to find homes for all of the very different puppies.

The story is cute (and about dogs...yay!) and the illustrations go nicely with the story. Any child that loves dogs will love this one!

Finally, our last book for this week is The Pencil written by Allan Ahlberg and illustrated by Bruce Ingman. I know there are a lot of fans of Ahlberg's out there and this book definitely does justice to his talent. A lonely pencil decides to draw himself a friend and from there, the adventure only gets better, especially once a paintbrush comes into the picture and then... an eraser.

Kids will love the concept of this book and will be anxious to draw their own story once you've finished reading.

If you're interested in any of these titles and want to learn more or to purchase any of them, click on a book cover above to link to Amazon.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Poetry Friday: Birds on a Wire

There has been a ton of buzz surrounding this title, as it's written in such a cool and unique manner. Birds on a Wire: A Renga 'Round Town is written by J. Patrick Lewis and Paul B. Janeczko, with illustrations by Gary Lippincott. It's written in a Japanese form of poetry called "renga", where different poets will take a turn add a verse to a previous poets verse. The style appears similar to that of a haiku, but being written in a slightly different format by different poets.

Birds on a Wire doesn't exactly tell a story, but each page has a different renga poem about a place around town, connecting with the next renga, ultimately creating a "story" of sorts. My favorite verse is as follows:

"beauty salon women
study grandchildren photos
each knows the cutest

with hair sprayed and fixed, they leave
proud to show off the natural look

The illustrations beautifully accompany the verses and the overall style of the book is just so, darn cool! I was amazed from page to page and really think kids will enjoy it as much as I did. It's simplistic, not a collection, and the illustrations are perfect. This is a must for all library collections.

If you're interested in learning more about the book or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Haven't posted one of these in awhile

What was the last book you bought?

I don't purchase many for myself, but I did just buy Peg Leg Peke by Brie Spangler to give to my nephew at Christmas

Name a book you have read MORE than once

I've read My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult about 5 times for different book clubs, as well as my own pleasure! Love that one!

Has a book ever fundamentally changed the way you see life? If yes, what was it?

Yes! Baby Bargains...once I read that, I knew I was no longer going to have a savings account or a life.

How do you choose a book? eg. by cover design and summary, recommendations or reviews

I mainly choose books by genre actually, being children's or young adult, however when it comes to adult books, I choose based on cover and summary. I typically stick to women's or contemporary fiction.

Do you prefer Fiction or Non-Fiction?

I much prefer fiction, but every now and then a great non-fiction book comes along

What’s more important in a novel - beautiful writing or a gripping plot?

I think we all would prefer a mixture of both, but I think I'm more on the beautiful writing.

Most loved/memorable character (character/book)

Liesel from The Book Thief, she'll always be my favorite

Which book or books can be found on your nightstand at the moment?

My Bible and The Time Traveler's Wife, which I keep promising a friend I will read, but I can't get passed page 70.

What was the last book you’ve read, and when was it?

I finished Pillage by Obert Skye yesterday morning and Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd about 20 minutes later. Loved them both!

Have you ever given up on a book half way in?

Oh so many times. Books get 50 pages and if I don't like it, I'm done. Except of course for The Time Traveler's Wife...I did promise!

The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez

Typically, The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez, written by Alan Lawrence Sitomer, is not a book I would really enjoy. I actually almost put it down after about 30 pages, not feeling that it was taking me somewhere enjoyable. I am SO glad I stuck with it in the end. The story and characters are so powerful and filled with emotion that I'm still feeling the effects of the story days after I've completed it.

Sonia is the oldest child in a large Mexican family now living in the United States. Her parents are illegals, her mother pregnant yet again. Her Uncle is a drunk and constantly trying to hit on her and the family is completely broke. Through all of this, Sonia is determined to be the first person in her family to graduate from high school, putting in hours and hours of homework and studying each night after her endless chores, cooking, and household help are completed. Her mother believes this dream is nothing but a pipe dream and constantly interrupts Sonia's studying for help translating bills that come in the mail, having refused to learn English.

When Sonia puts her foot down about needing to study and be a kid, her mother decides she needs to go to Mexico to visit her grandmother and learn what familial respect is all about. Sonia is miserable about having to miss school, but after spending time with her Mexican family members, Sonia finds a piece of herself, learning that she really needs to follow her heart when it comes to her school work, friends, and her future. Her decisions may come a bit too late though, when she returns home her mother needs more help than ever, she's in trouble for missing so much school, and her Uncle hasn't let up on his drunken advances.

Sonia shows such a vulnerability and strength, you can't help but pull for her. It's such a unique look into the lives of a family that we hear so much about in the media, being in the United States illegally, that you may now think about those families in a whole new light. Sonia's father is extremely hardworking, only wanting to make a better life for his family in a new country, you almost forget that he has 3 social security numbers!

The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez is a very honest book, filled with bad language and bad situations. That being said, it is incredibly real and emotional. I was surprised I enjoyed it, but in the end I actually nominated it for a Cybil. More people need to read Sonia's story and gain this unique perspective into a family life.

If you're interested in the book and want to learn more or would like to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Music and Laughs

There are two great music/songwriting books on the market right now, each of which I’ve had a chance to review and really enjoyed. The titles, Ralph’s World Rocks! with words and music by Ralph Covert and illustrations by Charise Mericle Harper and Sing My Song: A Kid’s Guide to Songwriting is written by Steve Seskin and “a chorus of creative kids,” with illustrations by a whole myriad of talented people, each portray music in a light, fun manner, and include cd’s!

Ralph’s World Rocks! has 12 different songs for kids to sing along to and the cd includes guitar chords for each song, allowing those budding musicians to actually learn to play the song! The lyrics, all accompanied by very silly illustrations, are equally silly with material ranging from dump trucks to math to surfing!

Sing My Song: A Kid’s Guide to Songwriting also features twelve songs, though these are written by both the author and kids. Each page has a song, instructions for the different parts of the song, and an explanation as to how the song came about. There are also great illustrations to go along with each one. After all the songs there is a section on how to write your own song and a cd with each song performed.

Between these two books, there is a lot of fun to be had with your kids, whether it be a class at school or your own kids at home.

The Diamond of Darkhold

Really, who hasn’t been waiting for Jeanne DuPrau’s next Ember book? I know that teens at my library are just itching to find out what happens to Lina and Doon, and it was me, their lovely librarian, that got her hands on an ARC. Yippee!! Your wait is now over kiddos!

DuPrau’s fourth and last novel in the Ember series, The Diamond of Darkhold, picks up a few months after Lina, Doon, and most of the other Emberites escaped their underground city and took up residence with the people in the dying town of Sparks. It is now wintertime and the citizens are starving, freezing, and close to failing at their attempts to sustain their lives in Sparks. Lina and Doon get their hands on a strange book that appears to be written specifically for the people of Ember, though Doon has a difficult time deciphering what the author was trying to get across, resulting in his desire to return to Ember to find out what their future was supposed to hold before they joined Sparks. The pair believe that going back to Ember will lead them to a device that can save their new, dying city.

When Lina and Doon do venture back to Ember, what they find is completely unexpected and dangerous. In order to save their friends and family, they must first save themselves from circumstances possibly beyond their control.

A few new characters make their way into the ever exciting mix, as do all the favorites, in what turned out to be a pretty great adventure. The beginning moved slightly slower than I typically enjoy, but being a fourth book in a series a lot of back information was given for possible newcomers to the books. Lina and Doon are great together as characters and their reactions to their different situations are believable all the way through. DuPrau did a great job concluding her series and I’m looking forward to what she may have in store for her readers in her next work.

Don't forget the City of Ember movie comes out soon too! Super excited chick here!

Click on the photo above to head to Amazon and pre-order a copy. You know you want to!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Two Non-fiction Fold-Outs

I've had these two great books on hand since the spring, but just haven't gotten around to actually reviewing them. Little Green Frogs and Big Yellow Sunflower, both by Frances Barry, have an incredible, unique manner in getting the information presented across to little kids.

As soon as you open the cover, you are introduced to either frog eggs or seeds. As you lift each page, you will learn a different fact about how a tadpole grows into a frog or a seed grows into a sunflower, ultimately folding out a giant circle shaped as either a pond with frogs in it or a giant sunflower. It's so cool! I was even impressed and I'm not even close to young anymore!

These are great books to use for storytime or in a classroom in conjunction with a craft or lesson about lifecycles. The illustrations are bold and eye catching, the text simple, yet informative. And the end result is just really cool! I actually nominated Little Green Frogs for a Cybil and would love to see it win!

If you're interested in the books or want to purchase them, click on the book covers above to link to Amazon.

Nominate these!

I've already made almost all of my own Cybils nominations, but there are still several books that I think definitely deserve the nomination opportunity and I haven't seen anyone nominate them as of yet. These are some of my favorites of the year, so if you're wanting to nominate, but aren't quite sure which ones to pick, these are awesome contenders!

Willow by Denise Brennan-Nelson and Rosemarie Brennan (Picture Books)

Ma! There's Nothing to Do Here! by Barbara Park(Picture Books)

The Little Bit Scary People by Emily Jenkins (Picture Book)

Little Boy by Alison McGhee (Picture Books)

Sister Wife by Shelly Hrdlitschka (Young Adult)

Sister Wife

Celeste was born and raised in Unity, a small community that follows the Movement, a religious lifestyle that practices polygamy and resides without a lot of modern conveniences. She has always had to fight to fit in, whether it be with her huge family, her friends, or even within her religion, always wondering if she were meant to be a wife and mother. At 15, she is set to be assigned to a husband very shortly, a man who will be much older than her, already married to several other women, and a father to many. Celeste is not sure she can be happy within that lifestyle, as her younger sister Nanette has felt she is destined to be a part of. Celeste wishes to rebel against the process, but does not want to bring heartache and shame to her family.

Told in alternating voices of Celeste, Nanette, and Taviana, a girl who once lived in the "real world" and stayed for a time in Unity, Sister Wife takes an in-depth look into the life of polygamists and how some women truly believe it is their destiny to be married to a man with other wives and some simply do not. This book is a completely unbiased look into this lifestyle, allowing for the heart of the characters to really flow outward and the message of individuality to come across strongly.

Very well-written and filled with realistic and honest characters, Sister Wife is not to be missed, especially after the recent media coverage of the polygamists sect in Texas. This really is an unbiased view, allowing for the real plot to come through. I loved it.

If you want to learn more about the title or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Battle of the Labyrinth

Percy are my knight in shining monster-slaying armor. A bit young for me to have a crush on, but who cares? You're fictional.

Have I mentioned I love the Percy Jackson books? The Battle of the Labyrinth is the fourth book in Rick Riordan's "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series, which has become hugely popular over the past couple of years. Action, adventure, humor, and friendship add up to great books that also qualify as "clean reads." No overtly bad language, no sexual situations, nothing harmful to a child's mind. Some mild violence, but it's done under the veil of humor. Just good, clean, fun.

In this installment, Percy is quite worried that the secure, magical walls at Camp Halfblood are about to be breeched by Kronos's army and he isn't sure he can do anything about that. He still doesn't understand who he really is, he's constantly wanting advice from his father, God of the Sea, Poseidon (whom rarely gives it), and he doesn't totally understand his feelings for Annabeth. Percy and a few of his demigod friends are sent out on a quest through a labyrinth to stop Kronos's and his army from invading camp. The labyrinth is sneaky, tricky, and scary, never predictable and always dangerous. Fighting for their lives and the lives of everyone at camp, Percy and his friends are really facing down giants.

My favorite part of these books is the humor and sarcasm that Riordan often instills in his characters, making scary situations light and fun. The cover on this particular book is fabulous and it's already wildly popular at my library. The books don't stay on the shelves and I know a few kids that are already counting down to the release of book 5. I'm right with them.

If you want to learn more about the Percy Jackson books or to purchase, click on the book cover above to link to Amazon.