Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella

This novella follows the life of Bree Tanner, who was introduced to the reader in Stephanie Meyer's Eclipse. Bree Tanner has been manipulated to believe certain things about vampires, and it follows her from her birth as a vampire, to her death. While I have been a fan of the Twilight series, this novella added nothing to the story, was hard to pay attention to, and I found myself skipping through the pages while I was waiting for the action to begin.

Not really recommended

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Patterson, J. (2009). Maximum ride: The manga. New York : Yen Press.

I found this book at the library, and couldn’t say no. I had just read James Patterson novel version of this very book, and was very curious to see how it came out as a graphic novel. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed; the text is lacking parts of the plot that I thought were pertinent to the plot. However, if I had not read the novel beforehand, I am sure that I would have been able to read the story. I know that there are many children who get excited about graphic novels, and perhaps this would be a way to bridge a gap for some reluctant readers. If you can get a student to read the graphic novel, perhaps they would be willing to pick up the novel? Maybe then they would read the rest of the Maximum Ride series? It’s definitely worth checking out.

Recommended ***

Powell, M. (2009). Red riding hood: The graphic novel. Mankato, Minnesota: Stone Arch Books.

Ruby’s grandmother makes her a magical red cloak that will protect her only in the daytime for her birthday. As Ruby goes to visit her grandmother, she is visited by a talking wolf, who runs ahead to meet her grandmother before her. A fun twist on a classic story, this graphic novel is definitely worth reading. Could be used as a part of a fairy tale unit, or on its own with students who are interested in graphic novels.

Recommended ****

Paterson, K. (2007). Bridge to terabithia. New York: HarperEntertainment.

This Newbery Medal winning book, is about Jess Aarons, who befriends a new neighbor named Leslie Burke. As their friendship grows, they create an imaginary world called “Terabithia” where they go together, and transform as individuals. This book ends sadly, and is often challenged because of the topic of death in a children’s book, but it is not my opinion that books should be avoided because of death.

Recommended ***

Paterson, K. (1978) The great gilly hopkins. New York : Harper & Row.

Gilly Hopkins, a foster child, is being moved to a new home. Despite the fact that everyone in her new home and school are trying their best to make her happy and feel welcome, Gilly knows better. She knows that she has to cause problems, and confuse everyone, and build up walls around her. This is a realistic portrayal of the difficulties that foster children have, but be prepared for no happy ending. Also, Gilly says some very racist things in the story, and I would recommend this book, but only if it is to be followed with discussion. Race is a discussion that should be had with children, and this book will bring up questions and comments.

Recommended with Caution ****

Konigsburg, E. L. (1967). From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Fairfield, PA: Atheneum.

Claudia decides that she has had enough! Her parents overwork her, do not appreciate her, and definitely do not give her a big enough allowance. She is running away. She decided the place: the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her companion?: Her brother Jamie. They run away to the Museum, hide in the bathroom during closing, and sleep in the exhibits! During their stay, they become fascinated with an exhibit that may or may not have been sculpted by Michelangelo. I decided to read this book, because I read it as a child. When I originally read this book, I thought it was a delightful book and I got lost in my own imagination after reading the story. However, with adult eyes, all I could think about, was how much this could never really happen. I had such high expectations, that it ruined my second reading of the book. This story won a Newberry Award in 1967.

Recommended ***

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco

Young Trisha is excited when she goes to school. She is excited to learn how to read and to taste the sweetness of books. However, as she goes through school, she realizes that she isn’t able to keep up with the other kids. When she reads, the letters get jumbled, and it is hard for to see the words. She fakes her way through her classes, and is relentlessly teased by her classmates…that is until she gets a new teacher, Mr. Falker. Mr. Falker is able to build a relationship with Trisha, see her difficulty, and work with her until she is able to overcome her difficulties. This is a delightfully heartfelt story that every teacher should read.

Highly Recommended *****

Say, A. (1993). Grandfather’s journey. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

A Japanese American retells the story of his Grandfather who was born in Japan, and moved to the United States. His grandfather was able to make both countries his home, and love both lands. His grandson grows to be very much like his grandfather, who was also born in Japan. The end of the book ends with "The funny thing is, the moment I am in one country, I am homesick for the other”. This line is universally applicable to both children and adults. Grandfather’s Journey is a Caldecott Medal Book.

Recommended ***

Ryan, P. M. (2000). Esperanza rising. Carmel, CA: Hampton-Brown.

On the eve of her thirteenth birthday, Esperanza has it all. She lives in a wealthy family, as her father owns a vineyard, and she has servants to care for her. When her father is killed, she quickly falls into poverty. Esperanza’s transition from a privileged girl, to a competent young woman, happens as she moves into California to work in the agricultural industry in the 1930’s. Winner of the Pura Belpré Award.

Highly Recommended ****

Blumberg, R. (1985). Commodore perry in the land of the shogun. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books.

A Newberry awarded book, this is the story of Commodore Perry and how he worked to build diplomatic relations between America, and the then very secluded Japan. Does a great job describing the cultural differences between the two groups, which led to difficulty in building these relations. This book would be a great tool when instructing students about Japanese history.

Highly Recommended *****

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stanley, J. (1992). Children of the dust bowl: The true story of the school at weedpatch camp. New York: Scholastic, Inc.

The “Okies” face a difficult time. Their land is dry and wind storms plague them. They are unable to farm, and it is hard to support their families. With the temptation of work, many trek across the country to California. Once there however, they were treated as second class citizens by the native Californians. The “Okies” weren’t allowed in public places, and often were not even given the jobs that they came for. They lived in dire poverty, and their children too faced opposition. In an attempt to give the Okie children the education that they deserve, Leo Hart fights to have a school built for the Okie children. This amazing story of the school at Weedpatch Camp, will remind readers of the importance of hard work, and being willing to fight for what you believe in.

Highly Recommended *****

Macaulay, D. (1988). New way things work. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

This book illustrates and explains in detail how things work. Interested in how pulleys work? How about flying? Perhaps you are more into string and percussion instruments? A wooley mammoth guides the reader through pages of explanation to those who simply do not seem to understand how things work. The illustrations are very clear, and there are a vast amount of topics to read about, at times the concepts are still difficult. As an adult, I still at times scratched my head and said “huh?”, but I’m sure that there are some children who would devour this book, and be excited to learn more about the world.

Highly Recommended ****

McClellan, R. (2008). Supermoto. Minneapolis, MN: Bellweather Media.

Supermoto introduces the reader to the basic background of this extreme sport. You can find information about how the sport works, to the equipment that is needed, and basic safety information. Reluctant readers will be willing to pick up this book, and may get excited to share what they learned with others.

Recommended ***

Stewart, M. (2009). Movie blockbusters. Pleasantville, NY: Gareth Stevens Pub.

This book reviews the top ten movie blockbusters! From Titanic, to Jaws, to The Wizard of Oz, and The Lord of the Rings, this book has plot outlines, quick facts, and other information about these popular movies. Students will enjoy being able to read about some of the most well known books of all time!

Highly Recommended *****

Savage, J. (2010). Brian urlacher. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications.

Brian Urlacher is the Bears running back, and he has a classic American story. Brian didn’t have much as a kid, so he worked hard in school, and became a successful football player in high school. The University of New Mexico recruited Brian, and then in 2000 the Chicago Bears drafted him. Students interested in football will enjoy the story of Brian, who also is known for being modest and not boasting about his abilities.

Recommended ****

Parvis, S. (2009). Jonas brothers. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel Pub.

Preteen girls will be very excited to read this story. This book goes into the stories of the Jonas brothers, and gives facts and details about their lives. I found this story very hard to read as an adult, because it turns out that the Jonas Brothers have not lived very interesting lives, despite the fact that they are popular singers. However, despite the fact I didn’t enjoy the book, I know that my students will love it!

Highly Recommended ****

Curtis, C. P. (2007) Elijah of buxton. New York :Scholastic Press.

Elijah is famous for two things: first, he is the first freeborn child in Buxton. Second, when he was a baby, he threw up on Frederick Douglas. When Elijah finds out that the preacher swindled money from his friend, he decides to go to United States to get it back. Elijjah transforms from a child into a young man in this story, as the first freeborn child in Buxton finally learns what it means to be freeborn.

Highly Recommended *****

Fletcher, S. (2007). Dadblamed union army cow. Cambridge, Mass.: Candlewick Press.

Dadblamed Union Army Cow is based on the true story of a cow that follows her owner throughout the war. The cow, while a nusance at times, ends up being incredibly useful to the union army. When I read this book to my students they loved reading with me “moo” and “that dadblamed cow!”. This book is a great way to start talking to students about the Civil War.

Highly Recommended *****

Patterson, J. (2005). Maximum ride: The angel experiment. New York: Little, Brown.

Max is a typical teenage girl, if you don’t count the fact that she has wings, and lives with other children with wings, and that they don’t have parents. When the mutant Erasers (other children with genetic changes, but they have been genetically “enhanced” with wolves) come and take their beloved Angel away, they fight to get her out of the dreaded school, an experimental lab. Patterson has done a great job writing a story that reluctant readers will be willing to pick up.

Highly Recommended ****

DuPrau, J. (2003). The city of ember. New York: Random House.

This story takes place in the city of Ember. This is a dire time for ember, a city in total darkness. Supplies are running low, along with the light bulbs. Regularly now, the cities lights flicker, and everyone holds their breath hoping that the lights will stay on. Twelve-year-old Doon Harrow and Lina Mayfleet, join together to try to decipher a torn up letter, in the hopes of saving the city. As their search grows, they find corrupt politicians and citizens desperate for survival.

Highly Recommended *****

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hahn, M. D. (2006). Witch catcher. New York: Clarion Books.

Jen’s father has just inherited an old castle in a rural town in West Virginia from a distant uncle. As they move into the home, Jen immediately becomes suspicious of her father’s new girlfriend, Moura, who is a local antiques dealer. When Jen finds a hanging glass ornament in the tower (which Moura says is a witch catcher), and her cat breaks this ornament, suddenly a fairy named Kieryn appears. Jen works with Kieryn to save her family, who has also been trapped in witch catchers. But these fairy’s intentions are hard for Jen to decipher…

Highly Recommended *****

Riordan, R. (2005). The lightning thief. New York: Hyperion Books for Children.

Read with caution! The lightning thief is the first of five books in the Percy Jackson series. You will not be able to put them down! Young Percy Jackson finds out that he is a demigod. When a minotaur chases Percy to summer camp, he suddenly realizes that his best friend is a satyr, and his professor was a centaur. Percy, his satyr friend Grover, and another demigod Annabeth, they set out across the country to prevent a war between the gods. This is a great way to get students interested in Greek history and mythology! Even adults will become excited to learn the myths that are found in the Iliad and the Odyssey.


Prelutsky, J. (1996). A pizza the size of the sun. New York: Greenwillow Books.

Prelutsky does a great job of writing high interest poetry for children. Similar to Shel Silberstein, Prelutsky invites the reader to the world of poetry with silly topics and outlandish comments. This is a great resource to start talking to students about rhyme scheme, stanzas and lines, as students will be happy to analyze and discuss poems such as Bugs! Bugs! or I Think My Computer is Crazy.

Highly Recommended *****

Hines, A. G. (2001) Pieces: A year in poems and quilts. New York : Greenwillow Books

Hines has created a book that is based on quilts that she has created. The quilts are supposed to represent the four seasons, and there are poems that go along with the seasons. It is a short book, but it was very difficult for me (as an adult) to get through it. It is hard for me to believe that any children would be interested in this book, because what child is really interested in quilts? On top of that, the poetry is dry and uninteresting.

Not really recommended *

Hoberman, M. A. (1998). The llama who had no pajama: 100 favorite poems. San Diego: Harcourt, Inc.

I was excited to start reading this book, which is a collection of Hoberman’s poetry. I was very disappointed with the poetry, as it did not keep my attention. While the poems are fun to read aloud, and some of the poems are witty, the majority of the collection struggled to keep me.. well I'm even bored writing a review of it....

Not recommended

Attenborough, L. (2001). Poetry by heart: A child’s book of poems to remember. New York: Scholastic Inc.

This is a great collection of children’s poems, which include authors such as Roald Dahl, Shakespeare and Robert Frost. It is a good book to be used to introduce poetry to children, as there is a wide array of types of poems. Some of the poems are serious such as The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost, while others are silly such as How Doth the Little Crocodile by Lewis Carroll. A good addition to any children’s collection.

Its alright **

Borden, L. (2002). America is… New York: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

This book is an illustrated poem, that explores the idea of what America is. This would be a great way to start teaching students about American history, or what it means to be an American. It explores concepts such as states, the pledge of allegiance, and the national anthem. It shows the immense differences that are found in the United States, such as the large cities, or the small towns. This books is a good way to start conversations with students about poetry or US history.

Its alright **

Climo, S. (1993). The Korean Cinderella. Mexico: HarperCollins Publishers.

The young Pear Blossom is mistreated by her step mother and stepsister. They tell Pear Blossom that she may attend the villages festival after she weeds the rice patties. Of course, there was too much work for Pear Blossom to finish on her own. A black ox appears and clears the weeds for Pear Blossom, and she goes the festival she looses her shoe in the water. The magistrate finds her shoe, and believes that the show will bring him to the one he should marry. The story is very similar to the version known in the United States, with a new flavor.

Recommended ***

Climo, S. (1989). The Egyptian Cinderella. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

The Egyptian Cinderella takes place in ancient Egypt. Rhodopis is a young slave, who is ridiculed for her fair hair and light complexion. The Pharaoh Amasis, is visited by a falcon (who is the god Horus), who drops a slipper on his lap. The Pharaoh takes this as a sign that he is to marry the woman whose foot fits the slipper. The slipper belongs to Rhodopis, and they marry. This is another fun version of the Cinderella story, which will peak children’s interests.

Highly Recommended ****

Johnston, T. (1998). Bigfoot cinderrrrrella. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons.

The bigfoot prince is looking for his princess, but he needs someone who meets specific qualifications: she must be odoriferous, have lots of fur, and care about the environment. This clever twist on the classic story of Cinderella could be used to get students excited about comparing and contrasting stories, and even to get young boys interested in what may seem like “girls” literature.

Highly Recommended ****

Martin, R. (1992). The rough-face girl. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

The Rough-Face Girl is the Algonquin Indian version of the classic Cinderella story. The poor rough-face girl has become rough faced because her face has been burned working closely around the fire. All of the women in her village want to marry the Invisible Being. The invisible being however, will only be married to the woman who can prove to his sister that they have seen him. The Rough-Face Girl’s sisters get dressed in elaborate and expensive clothing, and strut around the village, as they pretend that they have seen the invisible being. Rough-face girl however, is able to show that she has seen the invisible being, and the story ends happily. This story would be a great addition to a fairy tale unit, or a supplement on Native American studies.

Highly Recommended ****

Perrault, C. (1954). Cinderella or The little glass slipper. (M. Brown, Trans.). New York: Atheneum Books for Young People.

Cinderella, as translated by Marsha Brown, is the classic French Cinderella story. Cinderella is a young girl, and when her father gets remarried to a harsh stepmother with two cruel daughters, Cinderella has a positive attitude and helps her sisters prepare for the King’s Ball. When Cinderella wishes to attend the ball, her fairy godmother appears and magically transforms her into a beautiful princess. Cinderella is then able to go to the ball two nights in a row, where she accidentally looses her slipper as she runs away (due to loosing track of time). The prince finds her by having all of the ladies around to try on the lost slipper. In the end, Cinderella marries the prince, and graciously forgives her cruel stepfamily. This book was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1955. The illustrations are lacking in interest and dated. It is the simple classic story of Cinderella. Can be used to compare other Cinderella stories to, but this version is very dull

Not really recommended at all *

Willis, J. (2008). Daft bat. New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.

When bat moves into the neighborhood, the neighbors bring bat a welcoming gift: a new umbrella! When bat says that he needs it to keep his feet dry, the young animals begin to wonder about how intelligent bat is. Daft bat! When they go to owl with their concerns, owl recommends that they try to look at the world from bat’s perspective. This is a short, cute story, that has a great moral. Could be used in the classroom setting to teach students the vocabulary words for baby animals (ex: giraffe calf, lion cub, etc.)

Recommended ****

Hopkinson, D. (2008). Abe Lincoln crosses a creek: A tall, thin tale (introducing his forgotten frontier friend). New York: Schwartz & Wade Books.

Abe Lincoln Crosses a Creek is the story of young Abe Lincoln and his childhood friend, Austin Gollaher. Austin and Abe decide to cross a creek, when the water becomes turbulent, and in the end Austin saves the future 16th president of the United States from falling into the creek. The author cleverly invites the illustrator into the story, discusses the way history can be interpreted, and includes a thought provoking conversation on the moral of the story. Students are sure to love this story!

Highly Recommended *****

Winter, J. (2005). The librarian of basra: A true story from iraq. Orlando: Harcourt, Inc.

The Librarian of Basra is based on the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker, the chief librarian in Basra, Iraq. When war seems to be coming, Alia works to hide her collection of books. When no one is looking, she hides these books in her home, and in a local restaurant. After her library is burned to the ground during the war, Alia is able to save more than 30,000 books of her collection. Every librarian, or other persons who sees values in books should read this story of courageous Alia Muhammad Baker.

Highly Recommended *****

Verla, K. (2007). Rough, tough charley. Berkeley, California: Tricycle Press.

This story uses rhyme to tell the story of Charley Parkhurst. As a youth, Charley runs away from the orphanage, and finds work caring for horses. As Charley grows, Charley becomes known for his ability to care for horses, and was a stagecoach drive through the old west. Before his death, he joined the Odd fellows, and lost an eye. At his death, the doctor found a shocking surprise! Charley was a woman! Turns out Charley may have been one of the first women to vote in the state of California.

Rough, Tough Charley is a great book to use during women’s history month, and during lessons that ask students to challenge gender roles.

Highly Recommended *****

Watt, M. (2009). Chester.

Melanie Watt is trying to write a book about a mouse. Unfortunately, Chester her cat, decides that he would also like to write a book… about himself! He writes all over poor Melanie’s story, and they feud over what the book is about, and WHO will be writing it. While this story is meant for younger students, I read it to my fourth grade classes, and they loved it! Chester’s sharp humor made them all giggle, and was one of the most popular read aloud’s this year.

Highly Recommended *****

Ernst, L. C. (2006). The gingerbread girl. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.

After the tragic death of the gingerbread boy, who was tricked and eaten by a fox, the little old man and the little old lady decide to try again. They are so very lonely, and decide this time, they will bake a gingerbread girl, who shall be covered with sweets, because a sweet little girl would not run away from them! As soon as the gingerbread girl leaves the oven, many people who would like to eat her pursue her. Will the gingerbread girl be able to avoid the same tragic fate as her older brother? Or is she clever enough to out trick a fox? When read aloud to children, they are easily able to chant along to “with a leap and a twirl, you can’t catch me! I’m the gingerbread girl!”

Highly Recommended ****

Cyrus, K. (2008). Tadpole rex. Orlando: Harcourt.

Tadpole Rex is a story about a young tadpole that was alive during prehistoric times. This book begs to be read aloud to young children, and then recited as a group. The use of rhyme in the story is very appealing and could be used as an introduction to poetry. Also, Tadpole Rex has an inner tyrannosaurus rex, that many children (and even adults) can relate to! The end of the story has an author’s note about the evolution of frogs, and how they in fact do have an “inner tyrannosaurus rex” as they have lived for so long on the earth.

Recommended ***

Bateman, T. (2007). Fiona’s luck. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

All of the luck in Ireland has been take by the leprechauns! The big people are now unable to grow potatoes, the chickens no longer can lay eggs, and the cows are no longer giving milk! A witty girl named Fiona sets out to find the King of the Leprechauns in order to get the luck back. Fiona’s Luck could be used to supplement a unit or lesson on the potato famine or Ireland.

Recommended ***

LaRochelle, D. (2007). The end. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books.

This backwards fairytale, that begins with “They lived happily ever after”, will intrigue children as they find out how the end came to be. Children will laugh at loud and they discover a ticklish dragon, a hundred bunny rabbits, and a temper tantrum-throwing giant. There is repetition of the word “because” and as it is read aloud, younger children will be able to “read” with the story. The entire story is backwards, including the title pages, and the copyright pages. The End can be used as an interesting way to talk to students about the parts of a book, and even the parts of a story.

Highly Recommended ****

Thomas, S. C. (2008). Cesar takes a break. New York: Sterling Pub. Co.

Cesar the iguana leaves the pet shop when he finally finds a class to adopt. When he finds out that the students of Pinebrook Elementary school are going on vacation, he feels betrayed and depressed. What is he going to do while his classmates are gone? Cesar keeps a diary of the adventures he goes on, as he decides to explore the school, and meets the other class pets in the school. At the end of the story, the author includes a fact sheet about iguanas, which is “written” by Cesar. Cesar Take a Break is a fun story to be read with students around spring break or used as a way to introduce a science unit on reptiles.

Recommended ***

Gaiman, N. (2008). The graveyard book. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

Nobody Owens’ family has been murdered. In an attempt to protect him from the same fate, the inhabitants of a nearby graveyard decide to raise him. Nobody (or Bod, as he is affectionately known by his family of ghosts) lives in the graveyard as he grows into a young man, and takes part in many otherworldly adventures when he ventures out of the graveyard. Gaiman, also known for his bestselling book Coraline, creates a world that has a “Nightmare Before Christmas” feel, and intrigues the reader.

Highly Recommended ****

Selznick, B. (2008). The invention of hugo cabret. New York: Scholastic Press.

A young boy named Hugo, finds himself in the most dire situation: alone and left to care for a series of clocks in the city of Paris, France. He finds himself stealing food and gadgets for himself, as he attempts to fix a man made out gears in order to find a message from his deceased father. Through the use of vivid illustration and text, Selznick creates a fantastic adventure, as we follow Hugo’s encounters with a young girl, a man with one eye, and an old man. Readers will loose track of time as they loose themselves in this award-winning book.

Highly Recommended *****