Monday, October 31, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: More National Geographic for Kids

Ponies (National Geographic Kids, Level 1)
written by Laura Marsh
National Geographic, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4263-0849-9
Grades K-1
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Ponies addresses a perennially favorite topic.  The book takes a look at what a pony is, how they are different from horses, different markings, and different breeds, along with advice about riding them. The photographs compliment the text which is very important in nonfiction books.  The photographs are clear and crisp, the text is suitable for new readers. I especially like the photos in the glossary that help students understand the highlighted words better. The jokes are a nice touch, since I have yet to meet a child that didn't love a good joke.

Trains (National Geographic Kids, Level 1)
written by Amy Shields
National Geographic, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4263-0777-5
Grades K-1
Reviewed from purchased copy. 

Choo Choo! Kids love trains! Especially the old-timey steam engines found in amusement parks and zoos. But what about a super-speeder in Japan that zooms on the track at 361 miles per hour? Or the world's longest freight train, stretching on for a whopping 4.6 miles? Or futuristic railways in the sky?
Trains provides a glimpse at the history of trains, along with some interesting facts about different kinds of trains and how trains have provided transportation for humans for over a hundred years. The book has great photographs, great design, and an engineer to guide the reader through the ins and outs of trains.  A great book for fans of trains.

I am a big fan of National Geographic's new leveled readers. Here's why:
  1. Gorgeous photographs
  2. Nonfiction book features (table of contents, glossary w/ photos)
  3. Great design, very colorful and eye catching
  4. Interesting content
  5. Fun jokes
I am hoping to order a bunch of these for the library, so that my students may enjoy these more fully.

For some other great nonfiction recommendations, head on over to Jean Little Library for today's Nonfiction Monday round-up.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Read to Me Picture Book Challenge: Around the World

Up, Up, Up
written and sung by Susan Reed, illustrated by Rachel Oldfield
Barefoot Books, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-84686-550-3
Grades PreK-1
Reviewed from purchased copy.

This airborne adventure takes readers ballooning over lands near and far, all the way to the stars. The charming singalong song on the accompanying CD keeps spirits high, while the rhyming and playful text introduces all sorts of settings and vocabulary-building words. Education Market: It includes aerial maps throughout of changing landscapes and seascapes with many items to talk about. It joins Barefoot Books' popular "Singalong Songs" series. Cultural Diversity: It features three children each from a different cultural background.
The bright colors and fun song make this a fun read-a-loud.  I used it with both kindergartners and special needs children.  I felt a little self-conscious doing this, since I sung along with the accompanying CD.  I am not a real great singer, but the students enjoyed it. I received several requests to do it again.  The bright colors and beautiful panoramas give a good introduction to the concept of geography and the variety of landscapes to be seen on our planet.  Recommended for both educational use and just for fun.

Over in the Meadow
sung by Susan Reed, illustrated by Jill McDonald
Barefoot Books, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-84686-543-5
Grades PreK-1
Reviewed from purchased copy.


This traditional rhyming tale takes children on a counting journey through Jill McDonald s colorful meadow scenes, meeting a variety of busy animal families along the way. Children will relish the vivid descriptions of the animals and their activities, from a bumpy mother toad and her baby basking in the sun to a hairy mother spider and her ten children spinning webs in a den.
This book gives a good introduction to the inhabitants of the meadow ecosystem.  Not only are the illustrations darling, but the rhythm of the words and music make it hard not to tap one's toes.  The kindergartners that I shared this with enjoyed it and some of them joined me in singing with the CD that came with the book.  There are lots of discussion worthy topics in this book, everything from what an ecosystem is to how the different animals that live there each contribute to the environment.  There is a small amount of additional information about each animal at the end of the book.  The book also has great interactive potential as a call and response read-a-loud or as a creative drama activity starter. Highly recommended.

Read-to-Me Picture Book Challenge Watering Goal: 9 completed out of 36.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Read to Me Picture Book Challenge/Book Talk Tuesday: Cats

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
written by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean
HarperCollins Publishers, 2008
Grades K-2
Reviewed from personal copy.

Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes

written by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean
HarperCollins Publishers, 2011
Grades K-2
Reviewed from personal copy.

Pete the Cat goes walking down the street wearing his brand-new white shoes. Along the way, his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown to WET as he steps in piles of strawberries, blueberries, and other big messes! But no matter what color his shoes are, Pete keeps movin' and groovin' and singing his song . . . because it's all good.
In the sequel, Pete the Cat is now one fleet-footed feline in his shiny school shoes.
I used these two books with my kindergarten and special needs classes a couple of weeks ago.  I downloaded the songs and played them while I showed the pictures to the students. They loved it.  The tunes are quite catchy and I found myself singing along, even some of the kids joined in on the chorus.  You can find the music here. Not only do these books teach about colors and finding places that one needs to go to, but it also shows that one does not need to panic when one faces new places and other such changes.  Highly recommended for those who enjoy a fun interactive read-a-loud.

Head on over to The Lemme Library for more great book talks.


Check out the Read to Me Picture Book Challenge at There's a Book.

Read to Me Picture Book Challenge (Watering): 7 completed out of 36

Monday, October 24, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Human Footprint by Ellen Kirk

Human Footprint:  Everything You Will Eat, Use, Wear, Buy, and Throw Out in Your Lifetime
written by Ellen Kirk
National Geographic, 2011
Grades K and up
Reviewed from personal copy.

What is your human footprint? Well, it's 13,056 pints of milk, 28,433 showers, 12,888 oranges, 14,518 candy bars, and $52,972 worth of clothes, all in one lifetime. Makes you want to step more lightly on the planet! Perfectly timed for Earth Day, this book doesn't preach or judge, but simply shows kids—in an exciting, visual way—how humans interact with the environment and how we can lessen our impact. Astonishing photography captures the full picture of consumption, documenting all the diapers you wore as a baby, the bread you'll eat in a lifetime, and the cans you'll recycle, based on national averages.
This book is very eye-opening in terms of American consumerism.  It's easy to ignore the vast amount of food, goods, and services that we use.  The photographs are especially impressive. It would be hard to read this book and not feel a little guilty about all the stuff we, as Americans, use and throw out. I mean 43,371 cans of soda?!  Think of all that sugar. What's even more mind-boggling is the picture on page 20-21 that shows all those cans.  Each page also includes suggestions for becoming more environmentally-conscious consumers.  This book could be used in many curricular ways, such as math (lots of numbers and statistics), environmental science, and human geography.  In addition I think many students will be as fascinated by the information in this book as I was. Highly recommended.

Head on over to Apples With Many Seeds for today's Nonfiction Monday.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fantastic Friday: The Flint Heart by Katherine & John Paterson

The Flint Heart
written by Katherine Paterson & John Paterson, illustrated by John Rocco
Candlewick Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4712-4
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from personal copy.

An ambitious Stone Age man demands a talisman that will harden his heart, allowing him to take control of his tribe. Against his better judgment, the tribe’s magic man creates the Flint Heart, but the cruelty of it causes the destruction of the tribe. Thousands of years later, the talisman reemerges to corrupt a kindly farmer, an innocent fairy creature, and a familial badger. Can Charles and his sister Unity, who have consulted with fairies such as the mysterious Zagabog, wisest creature in the universe, find a way to rescue humans, fairies, and animals alike from the dark influence of the Flint Heart?
 I found this book rather intriguing for several reasons.  First, the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous.  I especially appreciate Rocco's use of color as well as the addition of silhouettes.  The illustrations in my opinion are the best part of the book.  That does not mean, however, that the writing wasn't good.  The writing reminded me greatly of Kate DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant.  In other words, the writing was very lyrical and a delight to read.  The book's design is superb, with just enough text and illustrations to make reading it a pleasure.

The second thing I found intriguing about this book was the story itself.  This is not a fairy tale that I have heard before so I was interested to see how the story played out.  The story itself kind of meanders.  It is not really compelling so much as thought-provoking.  Like most fairy tales, there is definitely a message here about leadership and wisdom versus greed and hunger for power. I think the book would be enjoyable for the right kind of reader, a more thoughtful reader.  Quite a few kids might pick it up because of the gorgeous cover, but I wonder how many would actually finish it.  On the other hand, the book would make for some very interesting discussions as a read-a-loud.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Talk Tuesday: The Milo & Jazz Mysteries by Lewis B. Montgomery

There are many different mystery series for children, some are naturally better than others.  Here are a few of the many available series:

The A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy
Jigsaw Jones Mysteries by James Preller
Encyclopedia Brown mysteries by Donald Sobol
The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner
Young Cam Jansen by David A. Adler
Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

But today I'm highlighting my favorite mystery series for younger readers, The Milo & Jazz Mysteries by Lewis B. Montgomery.  Not only are these books well written, but the plotting is clear and crisp.  The stories are not elaborate and full of complications like many mysteries for older readers.  This series makes a good introduction to the mystery genre.  These mysteries focus on the real world and the sorts of mysteries that most of us meet up with in our daily lives.  Each mystery also focuses on different skills that detectives need to develop to be really good at their jobs.  Skills such as communication, inferring, observing are integral to Milo and Jazz in solving the mysteries they are presented with.  The puzzles and brain teasers at the end of each book are a fun touch.

Here is a quick book talk for the latest book in the series: The Case of the Purple Pool.

The Case of the Purple Pool
written by Lewis B. Montgomery, illustrated by Amy Wummer
The Kane Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-57565-342-6
Grades 1-3
Reviewed from personal copy.

The blurb found on the back of the book makes a good, very brief book talk:
Milo and Jazz are real detectives--in training, that is!  And they're ready to solve any mystery that comes their way.  With a little help from world-famous private eye Dash Marlowe, the two friends track down clues, stake out suspects, and become top-notch super sleuths.  How can a pool suddenly turn purple? And who could be behind it? Detective duo Milo and Jazz make a splash as they investigate their most colorful case yet!
The rest of the series includes:
The Case of the Stinky Socks
The Case of the Poisoned Pig
The Case of the Haunted Haunted House
The Case of the Amazing Zelda
The Case of the July 4th Jinx
The Case of the Missing Moose

Head on over to The Lemme Library for today's Book Talk Tuesday.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Children Around the World

For today's Nonfiction Monday, I am highlighting several books that give a glimpse of what life is like for children around the world. I used these books to show the students that while there are major differences in the way people live around the world, there are similarities also.

If the World Were a Village (Second Edition)
written by David J. Smith, illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong
Kids Can Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55453-595-8
All Ages
Reviewed from personal copy.


There are currently more than six billion people on the planet! This enormous number can be difficult to grasp, especially for a child. But what if we imagine the whole world as a village of just 100 people? In a time when parents and educators are looking to help children gain a better understanding of the world's peoples and their ways of life, If the World Were a Village offers a unique and objective resource. By exploring the lives of the 100 villagers, children will discover that life in other nations is often very different from their own. The shrunk-down statistics — some surprising, some shocking — and David Smith's tips on building "world-mindedness" will encourage readers to embrace the bigger picture and help them to establish their own place in the global village.
I used the second edition with my students.  The second edition includes updated numbers and statistics. One of the things I like about this book is that it takes huge numbers that are too mind-boggling for students to really understand and makes it understandable.  I also like the way the pictures compliment the text.  This is a great book for helping students learn to look beyond their own neighborhood.

This Child, Every Child: A Book about the World's Children
written by David J. Smith, illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong
Kids Can Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-55453-466-1
Grades K and up
Reviewed from personal copy.

 A groundbreaking book of statistics and stories that compare the lives of children around the world today. Every second of every day, four more children are added to the world's population of over 2.2 billion children. Some of these 2.2 billion children will be cared for and have enough to eat and a place to call home. Many others will not be so fortunate. The bestselling author-illustrator team behind the phenomenal If the World Were a Village and If America Where a Village return with a revealing and beautifully illustrated glimpse into the lives of children around the world. This Child, Every Child uses statistics and stories to draw kids into the world beyond their own borders and provide a window into the lives of their fellow children. As young readers will discover, there are striking disparities in the way children live. Some children lack opportunities that others take for granted. What is it like to be a girl in Niger? How are some children forced into war? How do children around the world differ in their home and school lives? This Child, Every Child answers such questions and sets children's lives against the rights they are guaranteed under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
This book includes not only numbers and percentages, but also individual examples of the differences and similarities between children from different countries.  This book provides a good introduction to global studies.

A Life Like Mine: How children live around the world
DK Publishing, 2002
ISBN: 978-0-7566-1803-2
Grades K and up
Reviewed from personal copy.

Profiling children from all over the globe leading their lives in different and fascinating ways, the challenges of nations both developed and developing are revealed in the stories and photographs in this special volume.
This is my favorite of the three books I mention here.  This book provides plenty of interesting photographs and quick glimpses into the lives of children from all over the world.  I appreciated the fact that it focuses on the four major areas that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child decided are necessary for children to have a happy life.   Those four things are survival (water, food, shelter, etc.), development (school,etc.), protection (love and care, etc.), and participation (nationality, religion, etc.).  Each section focuses on children who do and do not have their needs met.  I had some good discussions with my older students (4th and 5th grade) about what human beings need to be happy.

Overall, these three books provided a great beginning for a year of learning about people and places around the world.
Visit Simply Science for more great Nonfiction Monday entries.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Review: Alvin Ho by Lenore Look

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Dead Bodies, Funerals, and Other Fatal Circumstances
written by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-375-86831-3
Grades 2-5

Reviewed from purchased copy.


Everyone's favorite neurotic second grader is back, in the most touching Alvin Ho book to date. In this fourth book in the Alvin Ho series, Alvin is facing something truly scary: the idea that someone he loves might die. When Alvin's GungGung loses his best friend, Alvin (gulp) volunteers to go with him to the funeral.
In many books, the more the reader connects to the main character(s), the more they are likely to appreciate the book.  At least that is true in my experience, but not always.  Sometimes the author makes the character so real that you can sympathize even without having similar experiences.  Alvin Ho is one such character.  His fears and good intentions make him a very sympathetic character, even if one does not have numerous fears as does Alvin.  In this fourth book especially, it is easy to relate to Alvin.  Losing a loved one is difficult for anyone, adult or child.  Alvin's fears make him especially susceptible to  superstitions about death.   Even though the book deals with death, it does so in a sensitive way without losing the trademark humor that make these books enjoyable to read.

Some of the most humorous parts involve misconceptions about death and funerals that Alvin and his friends have.  For example, when Alvin finds out that his GungGung's friend has died, he tells his sister, "When you die, you're dead...Then you go to heaven on the bus."  Later, a friend tells him a wake (viewing) is "when you sit around and wait for the dead person to wake."  This reminds of how easy it is to get wrong ideas, that is one reason for getting an education.  Adults are not however, immune to 'wrong ideas,' they can be found everywhere. In addition, Alvin's situation becomes radically worse when his teacher and others at school assume the funeral Alvin is going to is his GungGung's and he doesn't correct it. This reminds me of my own tendency to make situations worse for myself without meaning to.

In the end, it is Alvin's weaknesses that make him such an easy character to relate to and when he succeeds at something, however small, the reader cheers for him.  This series is perfect for young readers who must face their own fears every day. Highly recommended.

The other books in the series are:
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters
Alvin Ho: Allergic to Birthday Parties, Science Projects, and Other Man-Made Catastrophes

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

written and illustrated by Brian Selznick
Scholastic Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-545-02789-2
Grades 3 and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.


Set fifty years apart, two independent stories—Ben's told in words and Rose's in pictures—weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder.

Ever since his mom died, Ben feels lost.
At home with her father, Rose feels alone.

He is searching for someone, but he is not sure who.
She is searching for something, but she is not sure what.

When Ben finds a mysterious clue hidden in his mom's room,
When a tempting opportunity presents itself to Rose

Both children risk everything to find what's missing.
There isn't much I can say about this book that hasn't already been said.  But I can share a few of my thoughts about it.  When I first heard about this book, I was really excited.  I love Hugo Cabret and was eager to get my hands on this one.  It was worth the wait.  The illustrations are of course, gorgeous and thought-provoking and perfect for using with children to teach visual literacy.  The written parts are good as well.  I thoroughly enjoyed the way Selznick brought the two stories together at the end.  I did have some idea of how the book might end, but I was still pleasantly surprised by the ending.  I immediately wanted to fly to New York to visit the museums that are such an integral part of this story.

The visual aspects of this story help the reader to develop empathy for those whose world is truly silent, and yet the reader doesn't feel pity because the characters aren't afraid to go after what they want despite their lack of hearing.  I love the trend of illustrations in chapter books for older readers.  This book of course takes that trend and runs away with it. Overall, a great book, I recommend it highly. 

Here are some other reviews to check out:

New York Times Book Review
National Post
Kevin's Meandering Mind
She is too fond of books
5 Minutes for Books
Horn Book
Waking Brain Cells
A Fuse #8 Production
100 Scope Notes
Abby the Librarian

You may also want to visit the book website and here for some awesome videos about the book.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Fantastic Friday: Two Graphic Novels

It's interesting to watch the evolution of graphic novels and the variation in the quality of different series.  I confess there are few graphic novel series that I truly love.  There are a bunch that I like, but only a few that I truly love, such as The Secret Science Alliance (I keep hoping that Eleanor Davis will write a sequel), Zita, the Space GirlSmile, The Three Thieves series, and Lunch Lady (I think I love this one because it revolves around someone who works in a school).  The Amulet, Amelia Rules and Bone series have grown on me over time.

I think the biggest reason I have a hard time with a lot of graphic novels is the lack of character development.  As I've gotten older, character development has become more and more important to me and most graphic novels simply don't have a lot of space for character development.  I am very aware however that children love graphic novels. I have added graphic novels to my library and will add more as the money becomes available.  I placed the graphic novels in their own section because I was forever being asked where these books were.  It's turned out great, it is the most popular section in the library.

Babymouse: Mad Scientist
By Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
Random House, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-375-86574-9
Grades K-3
Reviewed from purchased copy.

The greatest scientific discovery of the 21st century is about to be revealed . . . when Babymouse enters the school science fair! Will her amazing discovery win 1st place? Will it become a successful spin off series?
Many of the girls at my school love this series, so I will be adding the books from the series that the library doesn't already have.  This book provides a light, fun read.  There is a slight plot involving a science fair and the introduction of Squish, the amoeba. I did enjoy Babymouse's daydreaming, it reminded me of my own daydreaming tendencies, past and present.  Overall, recommended for those who like the series.

Squish: Super Amoeba
by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm
Random House, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-375-84389-1
Grades K-3
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Introducing SQUISH—a new graphic novel series about a comic book-loving, twinkie-eating grade school AMOEBA trying to find his place in the world (or at least trying to make it through a school day). Inspired by his favorite comic book hero, SUPER AMOEBA!, Squish has to navigate school (bullies! detention! Principal Planaria!), family (dad: Hates to wear a tie. Secretly listens to heavy metal in the car), and friends (Peggy-rainbows! happy all the time! and Pod . . . who's . . . well, you just have to meet him). Can Squish save the world—and his friends—from the forces of evil lurking in the hallways?
I have to give the Holm's credit.  I would never have thought of an amoeba as a book character.  Squish behaves like a kid and deals with things that kids deal with (a greater interest in comics than studying, bullying, etc.).  The book was amusing enough, and the illustrations appealing, there just wasn't a whole lot of plot or character development.  Squish's friends, Pod and Peggy, don't add a whole lot to the story except cluelessness.   Pod is obsessed with solving the problem of global warming and taking Squish's lunch money for himself.  Peggy is bright and perky and dumb.  In the end, Squish isn't the one to take care of the bullying problem, and nothing really changes.  However, for kids who want a light, fun, short read, this ought to work well.  The things that bother me will most likely not even be noticed by most child readers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: Tales from Around the World

Today I'm highlighting two great picture books about people and places outside of the United States.  This is my favorite kind of book because it gives me a glimpse of worlds beyond my own.  They also show that despite the many differences between people from other countries, there is much that we have in common as well.

The Boy Who Wanted to Cook
written by Gloria Whelan, illustrated by Steve Adams
Sleeping Bear Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-58536-534-0
Grades K-5
Reviewed from purchased copy. 

La Bonne Vache (The Good Cow) is a little restaurant in the south of France. It takes its name from and is famous for its boeuf a la mode, a delicious beef stew. Ten-year-old Pierre longs to follow in the culinary footsteps of his father. Pierre spends as much time as possible in the restaurant's kitchen, hoping for a chance to demonstrate his cooking skills. But his parents shoo him away and he is not allowed to cook.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  First, I am a big fan of Gloria Whelan, who somehow manages to tell complicated stories in a surprisingly few words.  Her chapter books are among my favorite historical/geographical fiction.  Books such as Homeless Bird, Chu Ju's House, and Angel on the Square, open up worlds for the world.  Yet these books read like adventure novels.  This is the first picture book by her that I have read.

The story of Pierre and his dream remind me that many kids have dreams.  Sometimes the dreams are realistic and sometimes not, but they are always worth listening too.  I have a good friend to thank for helping me realize the importance of listening to what other people have to say, especially children.  The story also reminded me that just because an idea comes from a child doesn't mean it isn't a good idea.

The writing of this book is smooth and flowing and the illustrations are gorgeous.  I also greatly appreciated the glossary and pronunciation guide for the French words used in the text.  This will allow me to practice pronouncing those words before I read it out loud.  Sleeping Bear Press also has a fun website that has more information about the country and activities related to the book. A fun book that I plan to share with my students during our round the world journey (in books).  Check here for more books I plan to use relating to the theme of One World, Many Stories. Be sure to check back for more great books about the world.

Chirchir is Singing
written by Kelly Cunnane, illustrated by Jude Daly
Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-375-86198-7
Grades K-5
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Chirchir just wants to make herself useful like all her other family members. But she drops Mama's water bucket, spills Kogo's tea, and sends Baba's potatoes tumbling down the hill. Isn't there something that Chirchir does best?
 Many books about Africa focus on the many existing conflicts, either between people or between people and the environment.  This book provides a refreshingly simple story about a girl and her family.  While the book provides a look at a Kenyan farm and what for many Americans would be considered a hard life, to Chirchir, it's home and what she knows.
Unfortunately, Chirchir like many children, finds herself causing problems rather than helping the way she intends.  This made me think of my little nephew and how he always wants to help, but usually just complicates things.  I have to admire my sister's patience and how she lets him help as much as he can.  It is a universal need, the need to make a difference, and this book illustrates that need beautifully.  The soft colors used in the illustrations soften the discouragement that Chirchir feels as she is encouraged to move on to help someone else. I highly recommend this book for sharing, not just for learning about Africa, but for realizing that there is a place for all to find belonging.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Talk Tuesday: Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

Some books are timeless, they can be enjoyed by almost any age and at any time.  Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, and Lois Lowry's Gooney Bird Greene books, all feel very timeless to me.  I could sit down in twenty years and still enjoy them as much as do now.  Sara Pennypacker's Clementine series feels that way to me.  Whenever I need a good laugh, I pull out these books.  When I heard the fifth book was out, I rushed to get my hands on it.

Clementine and the Family Meeting
written by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Disney-Hyperion Books, 2011
ISBN: 978-142312356-9
Grades 2-4
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Clementine's having a nervous breakdown. The FAMILY MEETING! sign is up in her house, and she just knows she's in trouble for something. Has she been too mean to her little brother? Too sloppy? Eating too much junk food? Try as she might to find out what's on the agenda, her parents won't reveal anything before the meeting. As far as Clementine is concerned, the agenda should be something like: "We're getting a gorilla." But no, it's something entirely different. "We're talking about a new baby," says her father. "A brother or sister for you two. What do you think about that?" NO THANKS! is what Clementine thinks. After all, four is the perfect number for a family. There are four sides to a table, not five. Will Clementine learn to make room for one more?
One of the things that I enjoy most about the Clementine books is the fact that Clementine seems so real, just like the kids I work with every day.  She has her strengths (very observant, kind heart, willing to work) and her weaknesses (fidgety, impulsive).  She has good days and bad days just like every child does.  She has problems at school (missing science project rat) and at home (adjusting to a baby on the way).  But Clementine's family and friends are interesting characters as well and are more than just secondary characters.

The writing is superb and very suitable for a third grader, I can here her voice in my head even when I am not reading the book.  The illustrations by Caldecott Honor winning Marla Frazee provide the perfect compliment to the writing. Overall, a great addition to the series and I highly recommend the whole series.

The other books in the series are:
The Talented Clementine
Clementine's Letter
Clementine, Friend of the Week

Head on over to The Lemme Library for today's Book Talk Tuesday.
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