Showing posts from 2011

Read to Me Picture Book Challenge: Cats for Christmas

A Bad Kitty Christmas
written and illustrated by Nick Bruel
Roaring Brook Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59643-668-8
Grades 1-5
Reviewed from purchased copy.

BLURBA HILARIOUS NEW HOLIDAY PICTURE BOOK ABOUT EVERYONE'S FAVORITE NAUGHTY FELINE "Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the city, not a creature was stirring...Except for BAD KITTY." A greedy Bad Kitty didn't get all the presents she wanted for Christmas, but after she goes on a Christmas caper across town and through multiple alphabets, she makes a new friend, finds an old friend, and learns the true meaning of Christmas. Or not. Nick Bruel's first picture book about Bad Kitty since the uproarious Poor Puppy in 2007 is full of rhyming mayhem... and Christmas cheer.

I have enjoyed all the Bad Kitty books, but I think this one is my favorite.  Maybe because Bad Kitty for the first time, thinks of someone besides herself (a temporary fluke I'm sure).  Once again, the way Bruel uses the alphabet t…


I am a big fan of giveaways, so this post is to share some giveaways that I know about.  If you know of others I could add, please let me know.

Tiffany at Tiffany's Bookshelf is offering a $50 Amazon gift card.

Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer presents a list every Wednesday highlighting great giveaways.  Check out today's list.

As a Part of Got a Great Giveaway, I'm giving away one book from the Book Depository for $20 or less.  This giveaway will close on January 6th.  The only requirement is that the book needs to be Young Adult or Children's.  Please leave a comment below, including some way of contacting you.  One entry per person. NOTE: THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

Reviewing Shelf is also hosting an international giveaway on her blog. This closes on January 7th.

There's a Book also has frequent giveaways.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you have a great holiday season!

Book Blogger Holiday Swap

I was excited to participate in the Book Blogger Holiday Swap this year.  Being my first year, I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I enjoyed choosing items to send to my person and excited to see what would be sent to me.  My secret Santa sent a variety of fun items. One new book (Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact), an ARC (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children), a fun desk calendar, a small journal, and two bookmarks (one can never have too many bookmarks, I love to collect them myself).  Thanks to Tiffany Harkleroad for being my secret Santa.  I must apologize to my secret Santa, I did not put my name and/or blog name on it, I thought it was really supposed to be secret.  Oops.  Still, I hope Danielle at Mercurial Musings enjoys her gifts.

BLURB: Eleven-year-old Darwen Arkwright has spent his whole life in a tiny town in England. So when he is forced to move to Atlanta, Georgia, to live with his aunt, he knows things will be different - but what he finds th…

Fantastic Friday: The Fires Beneath the Sea by Lydia Millet

The Fires Beneath the Sea
written by Lydia Millet
Big Mouth House, 2011
ISBN: 978-193152071-3
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.

BLURBCara's mother has disappeared. Her father isn't talking about it. Her big brother Max is hiding behind his iPod, and her genius little brother Jackson is busy studying the creatures he collects from the beach. But when a watery specter begins to haunt the family's Cape Cod home, Cara and her brothers realize that their scientist mother may not be who they thought she was—and that the world has much stranger, much older inhabitants than they had imagined. With help from Cara's best friend Hayley, the three embark on a quest that will lead them from the Cape's hidden, ancient places to a shipwreck at the bottom of the sea. They're soon on the front lines of an ancient battle between good and evil, with the terrifying "pouring man" close on their heels.

There were seve…

Seasons Reading: The Third Gift by Linda Sue Park

The Third Gift
written by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-547-20195-5
Grades: All
Reviewed from purchased copy.
All opinions expressed are solely my own.

BLURBFrom two extraordinary talents, a beautifully crafted picture book for the Christmas season. The three wise men, or the three kings, are familiar figures in the Christmas tradition. Newbery medalist Linda Sue Park has taken the brief biblical references to the three as the starting point for a new story. In it we meet a boy who is learning his father’s trade; a man who gathers resin from certain trees; a merchant in the marketplace; and three strangers in brightly colored robes who are shopping for a gift for a baby. Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline with exquisite paintings, this simple, moving tale of ordinary people involved in an extraordinary event brings new resonance to the well-known gift list of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

What do you get when you co…

Book Review: Grandpa Hates the BIrd by Eve Yohalem

Grandpa Hates the Bird: Six Short Stories of Exciting, Hilarious and Possibly Deadly Adventure
written by Eve Yohalem
Telemachus Press, 2011
Grades 2-4
Reviewed from ebook sent by author for review.
No compensation was received for this review, all opinions expressed are solely my own.

BLURB: “Alas, it is true. Grandpa hates me. He has always hated me, even before I used his ear as a swing toy (his lobes are so long and flappy!). I can’t imagine why. I assume Grandpa hates me simply because I am the bird—and he is not.”

Everybody loves Bird. Joseph and Maya, Mother and Father, Humphrey the dog, Slick the snake. Everyone except Grandpa, who will stop at nothing to set Bird free. Forever.

• How does the battle begin when Bird and Grandpa are alone together for a whole week?
• See classroom chaos in Bring Your Pet to School Day!
• Exactly what are they hunting at the Aw Shoot archery range?

Fasten your feathers and warm up your wings—here are six collected short stories in the Grandpa Hates t…

Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: Three Nature Picture Books

Coral Reefs
written and illustrated by Jason Chin
Roaring Brook Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59643-563-6
Grades K-5
Reviewed from personal copy.

BLURB: During an ordinary visit to the library, a girl pulls a not-so-ordinary book from the shelves. As she turns the pages in this book about coral reefs, the city around her slips away and she finds herself surrounded by the coral cities of the sea and the mysterious plants and animals that live, hunt, and hide there.

This book is gorgeous, that pretty much covers it.  The illustrations take the reader on a journey over and around a coral reef.  Even without the words, I could easily follow the story.  I love the idea of a book taking the reader on a journey to somewhere they may never be able to go in real life.  This suits my lifestyle of armchair adventuring.  The text does add a great deal of information, a little too much for a read-a-loud I discovered, especially when the students kept interrupting to share things they knew.  The students d…

Read to Me Picture Book Challenge and GIVEAWAY: Razzle-Dazzle Ruby by Masha D'yans

Razzle-Dazzle Ruby
written and illustrated by Masha D'yans
Scholastic, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-545-22500-7
Grades PreK-1
Reviewed from copy won in blog giveaway.

BLURBA regular day becomes a magical adventure in this stunning novelty picture book from an amazing new talent! Ruby can make the ordinary extraordinary! Come skate on a shimmering pond, roll a giant snowball, sled down a snowy hill, and create soaring snow angels with her as she becomes a snow queen and transforms a typical winter day into a gleaming-beaming fairy tale.

When I first saw this book I thought it would be perfect for my kindergarten girls.  It has a really cute little girl (Ruby) in a purple dress and flashing stockings.  It has glitter on the cover which speaks "girl book" loud and clear.  Once I read the book though I realized that the story could appeal to any child, boy or girl.  Living in a state that is famous for its winter sports, especially skiing, the children around here have lots of experien…

Nonfiction Monday: What to Expect When You're Expecting Joeys by Bridget Heos

What to Expect When you're Expecting Joeys: A Guide for Marsupial Parents (and Curious Kids)
written by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Stephane Jorisch
Millbrook Press, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7613-5859-6
Grades 1-5
Reviewed from copy received in giveaway at

BLURBCongratulations, marsupial parents-to-be! You're about to meet your tiny bundles of joy. They're called joeys. Some are as small as a grain of rice when they're born! Read this book to find out how many babies to expect, how to help them find your pouch, and what those little joeys will do in there all day long. Whether you're a possum or an opossum, a kangaroo or a wallaby, a koala or even a shrieking Tasmanian devil, you'll find answers to all your parenting questions here.

I'll say right off the bat that I had no problem with the content.  The format is fun and informative.  The information was accurate and the question and answer format was interesting.  I did learn th…

Read to Me Picture Book Challenge: Christmas Ducks

Last week I read some Christmas related duck books to my kindergartners and they really enjoyed them.  So here they are.

Have You Been Naughty or Nice?
written and illustrated by Ethan Long
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009.
ISBN: 978-0-316-01722-0
Grades PreK-1
Reviewed from personal copy.

BLURBIn Have You Been Naughty or Nice? the duck excitedly awaits a visit from Santa Claus until he eats all of Santa's snacks and realizes he just put himself on the naughty list. But never fear, because the duck has a clever plan to get himself back on the nice list. This fourth book in Ethan Long's duck series features a cloth Santa cap on the cover and a fold-out letter to Santa, and is filled to the brim with holiday hilarity that will keep kids entertained for hours.

This book is quite short and makes for a quick read (which is a good thing when you've got squirmy kindergartners).  The children quite enjoyed this one.  The illustrations are cartoonish and deceptively s…

Seasons Reading: A Christmas Tree for Pyn by Olivier Dunrea

A Christmas Tree for Pyn
written and illustrated by Olivier Dunrea
Philomel Books, 2011
Grades K-2
Reviewed from purchased copy.

BLURBChristmas is coming. In the craggy rocks on the snowy mountainside, tiny Pyn has her heart set on decorating her very first Christmas tree. But, "No Christmas tree," Papa says. Still, Pyn won't take no for an answer. She knows that a Christmas tree is just the thing their cottage needs to make the season festive and cheery. Pyn is determined to find the perfect Christmas tree - no matter what. With this story of the love between a father and daughter, Olivier Dunrea captures the true spirit of Christmas.

I love Christmas stories that focus on the reasons for the season beyond the presents and the spending of money.  Not that I don't enjoy that part of the season because I do, I love giving gifts.  But sometimes it is good to have a reminder that there are things far more important than the trappings of the season.  …

Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: Wildfire Run by Dee Garretson

Wildfire Run
written by Dee Garretson
Harper, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-195347-7
Interest Level: Grades 4-8
Reviewed from purchased copy.

BLURB: Just once Luke Brockett would like to do something slightly dangerous, but when your father is the President of the United States, that is not an option. Always surrounded by Secret Service agents and kept in a bubble of safety, Luke sees Camp David, the presidential retreat in the woods of Maryland, as the only place where he can almost be normal. For one week in August, Luke's mother has arranged for Luke to have a 'summer camp' experience, if summer camp had only three kids and the counselors carried automatic weapons. The experience comes to a quick end when a forest fire surrounds Camp David. Luke and his friends are trapped inside, left on their own, the Secret Service agents incapacitated, forcing the three to outwit security systems designed to be unbeatable before the fire gets to them.

Reading books like this one encourag…

Book Talk Tuesday: Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan

Waiting for the Magic
written by Patricia MacLachlan, illustrated by Amy June Bates
Atheneum Books for Young Reader, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4169-2745-7
Interest Level: Grades 3-6
Reviewed from copy borrowed from school library.
The opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.

People may drift apart
But love can hold them together.
Sometimes we find that love through magic –
Sometimes that magic is all around us
This is a story about all of these things.
But it's also a story about how
four dogs
and one cat
help one boy
and his sister
save their family.

This is a rather interesting blurb.  I think this is the first blurb I've read that reads like a poem.  Yet it fits the rather dreamy, gentle nature of the story.  In some ways it reminds me of Kate DiCamillo's work on The Tale of Despereaux, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, or The Magician's Elephant.  The writing is certainly as good as DiCamillo's and the illustrations add a nice touch.  I really enjoy mid…

Seasons Reading: The Perfect Christmas by Eileen Spinelli

The Perfect Christmas
written by Eileen Spinelli, illustrated by JoAnn Adinolfi
Henry Holt and Company, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8702-4
Interest Level: Grades K-2
Reviewed from purchased copy.

BLURB: Family one: exquisite pastries, a beautifully trimmed tree, and festive cello music. Family two: an artificial tree, rock hard candy, and custom kazoo carols. Full of silly humor, this cheerful picture book proves that no matter how you celebrate Christmas, it’s the spirit of the holiday that counts the most.

This book is pretty straightforward.  It compares the different ways that two families celebrate Christmas.  I enjoyed looking at the differences between the two families. The way the two families come together at the end is a pleasant reminder that we can find things in common with each other if we make the effort.  There is some humor mixed in (one of the grandmother's cookies breaking someone's toe).

The story is written in rhyme that flows fairly well which makes the book good …

Nonfiction Monday: From Assembly Lines to Home Offices by Jennifer Boothroyd

I'm hosting Nonfiction Monday today.  Nonfiction Monday gives children's book bloggers a chance to share interesting nonfiction books with their readers.  If you would like to participate today, please leave a comment below and I will update the list throughout the day. Thanks.

From Assembly Lines to Home Offices: How Work has Changed
written by Jennifer Boothroyd
Lerner Publications Company, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-7613-6748-2
Interest Level: K-2
Reviewed from copy received from school colleague.

BLURBMany people use computers to work from home and other places. And special equipment makes work safer than in the past. But long ago, computers didn't exist. Safety equipment hadn't been invented either. In what other ways has work changed over time? 

I've found that identifying nonfiction books that work well as a read-a-loud is not as easy as I once thought.  Not that there isn't a lot of great nonfiction available, just that many of them are too long for a library read…

Fantastic Friday: The Amarias Adventures by Amy Green

The Quest for the Scorpion's Jewel
written by Amy Green
Warner Press, 2011
ISBN:  978-1593174323
Interest Level: Grades 3-6
Reviewed from e-galley received from publisher through NetGalley.

BLURB:The Amarias Adventures begin when 15-year-old Jesse befriends a band of young warriors and risks his life to find a cure for their poisoned leader, Parvel. Though Jesse has a crippled leg, he is asked to join the remaining warriors--part of an elite fighting force known as the Youth Guard--on their mission for the king. Facing danger at every turn, Jesse, Rae and Silas journey over treacherous mountains and across a scorching desert. To make matters worse, an unknown enemy seeks to end their quest before it has even begun. Where is Parvel's God when they need Him most? And with so little information to guide them, how will they ever complete their mission and find the Scorpion's Jewel? Will they even escape with their lives?

I found this book rather intriguing.  First, the se…

Book Review: It Happened on a Train (Brixton Brothers) by Mac Barnett

It Happened on a Train
Brixton Brothers series Book 3
written by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2011
ISBN:  978-1416978190
Interest Level: Grades 3-6
Reviewed from e-book purchased for Kindle.

BLURB:Retired private detective and current seventh grader Steve Brixton has a new job: he takes out the trash for five bucks a week. But it's hard to leave the old game behind. On a train trip down the California coast, Steve and his best chum, Dana, are pulled into a mystery involving a fleet of stolen automobiles, a vanishing girl, and a phantom train car. For a great detective, the best part of retiring is coming out of retirement.

I confess I was one of those kids who devoured any mystery I could get my hands on, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, and Trixie Belden.  I have lots of fun memories reading these books, often more than once.  Maybe that's why I enjoy reading Barnett's Steve Brixton mystery series.  These books ar…

Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: A Dog's Way Home by Bobbie Pyron

A Dog's Way Home
written by Bobbie Pyron
Katherine Tegen Books, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-198674-1
Interest Level: Grades 4-8
Received free in a giveaway hosted by A Patchwork of Books.
Opinions expressed here are solely my own.

BLURB:One late fall afternoon, a tragic highway accident leaves eleven-year-old Abby and her beloved Shetland sheepdog, Tam, stranded at opposite ends of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Though each is determined to be reunited with the other, the days separating them turn to weeks, then months, and dangers and changes fill up Abby's and Tam's lives. Will they ever find their way back home to one another? 

I consider myself generally speaking a cat person.  I'm much more comfortable around cats than dogs.  But I do still enjoy reading books about dogs.  When I first heard about this book, I wasn't sure that I would really like it.  Of course, I do really like other dog books.  Jack London's Call of the Wild and White Fang are among my favorite books.  I…

Seasons Reading: Jingle Bells: How the Holiday Classic Came to Be by John Harris

Jingle Bells: How the Holiday Classic Came to Be
written by John Harris, illustrated by Adam Gustavson
Peachtree, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-56145-590-4
Interest Level: Grades K-5
Reviewed from purchased copy.

BLURB:It is November 1857 in Savannah, Georgia, and the heat is stifling. Choir director James Lord Pierpont is busy writing a song for the children of the church to perform to usher in the holiday season. He is also worried. Many townspeople are angry because the congregation does not believe in slavery, and someone has thrown a brick through one of the church windows. As Mr. Pierpont sweeps up the glass from the broken window, he recalls his own Boston childhood, the sound of sleigh bells, and the fun of riding in a sleigh through the snow. Suddenly he gets an idea. A few days later - with the happy sounds of children singing and jingling bells and bags of "snow" - Mr. Pierpont introduces the delighted churchgoers to the charms of a northern Christmas!

I enjoyed reading th…

Book Talk Tuesday: The Luck of the Buttons by Anne Ylvisaker

The Luck of the Buttons
written by Anne Ylvisaker
Candlewick Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7636-5066-7
Interest Level: Grades 3-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.

BLURB:In Iowa circa 1929, spunky twelve-year-old Tugs vows to turn her family’s luck around, with the help of a Brownie camera and a small-town mystery.  Tugs Esther Button was born to a luckless family. Buttons don’t presume to be singers or dancers. They aren’t athletes or artists, good listeners, or model citizens. The one time a Button ever made the late Goodhue Gazette - before Harvey Moore came along with his talk of launching a new paper - was when Great Grandaddy Ike accidentally set Town Hall ablaze. Tomboy Tugs looks at her hapless family and sees her own reflection looking back until she befriends popular Aggie Millhouse, wins a new camera in the Independence Day raffle, and stumbles into a mystery only she can solve. Suddenly this is a summer of change - and by its end, being a Button may just turn out to be what on…