Showing posts from June, 2011

Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: Got Geography!

Got Geography!
Poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins
Pictures by Philip Stanton
Greenwillow Books, 2006
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.

I knew the moment I read the title that I needed to get this book. My passion for geography demanded it.  The book did not disappoint.

I especially liked the first poem by J. Patrick Lewis where he briefly describes each of the seven continents.  It amazes me how much information about manages to squeeze in.  I plan to use this poem with my older students this coming school year.  I've decided to use this summer's reading theme (One World, Many Stories) as my theme for the upcoming school year. This poem fits in perfectly with that.  I also especially liked the poem by Kathryn Madeline Allen where she personifies the Equator, what a fun idea.  I might use this one to have my students personify each of the seven continents.

I confess freely that I am all about color.  I love bright cheerful colors and the illustrations in this book are ful…

Book Talk Tuesday: Frankie Pickle

Today's post is going to be fairly short because I have some other things that really need to be done, but I love Book Talk Tuesday, and I wanted to share one of my favorite series for new and struggling readers. Book Talk Tuesday is being hosted today by LitLad.

Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom
written and illustrated by Eric Wight
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009
Grades 1-3
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Meet Frankie Pickle...the kid with the world's most amazing imagination!  It takes him on adventures.It helps him save the day.And sometimes it gets him into trouble. When Frankie's mom says he never has to clean his room again, he goes hog wild. The more he plays, the bigger the mess grows, until it tumbles out of control! Now Frankie must clean up his act, but will his imagination be enough to conquer the CLOSET OF DOOM? (

Frankie Pickle and the Pine Run 3000
written and illustrated by Eric Wight
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Read…

Mix N'Match Monday: Lost Children of Sudan

There are some stories that need to be told regardless of how sad or horrifying they might be.  The challenge becomes even harder when the stories are being told to children.  How much should one include? What details are necessary and what can be left out without changing the story too much? And what about stories that involve extreme violence and severe suffering?  How best to tell the story? These questions can be debated over and over again because there is no one right answer.  No two authors will present the same story in the same way.

I have a hard time reading books that get really graphic.  I know that if the book makes me sick to my stomach that I will never be comfortable sharing it. But today I'm highlighting two books that tell stories that involve children facing war and starvation.  One book is fiction, but based on a true story and the other is nonfiction. Both books do a good job of telling the story the way it was/is without getting overly graphic.

A Long Walk to…

Nonfiction Monday: Amelia Lost

Today for Nonfiction Monday, I am highlighting a great new nonfiction book about Amelia Earhart.  Not only does Earhart still fascinate us, but she provides a glimpse into a past that was anything but boring.  I'm always on the lookout for nonfiction books I can use to show the kids I work with that history can be really fascinating.

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart
by Candace Fleming
schwartz & wade books, 2011
Grades 4-8
Reviewed from purchased copy.

From the acclaimed author of The Great and Only Barnum—as well as The Lincolns, Our Eleanor, and Ben Franklin's Almanac—comes the thrilling story of America's most celebrated flyer, Amelia Earhart. In alternating chapters, Fleming deftly moves readers back and forth between Amelia's life (from childhood up until her last flight) and the exhaustive search for her and her missing plane. With incredible photos, maps, and handwritten notes from Amelia herself—plus informative sidebars tackling ev…

Nonfiction Monday: Hosting

It's Nonfiction Monday and it's my turn to host.  I'm excited to be a part of this weekly activity.  If you have a book or books to share, please include it in the comments and I will add them to the post throughout the day.

Queen of the Falls
Written by Chris Van Allsburg
Illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011
Grades 2 and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.

She could remember standing in a park near the falls, hypnotized by the sight and sound, and holding her father’s hand as they took a walk that would lead them closer. That’s what everyone wonders when they see Niagara . . . How close will their courage let them get to it?
At the turn of the nineteenth century, a retired sixty-two-year-old charm school instructor named Annie Edson Taylor, seeking fame and fortune, decided to do something that no one in the world had ever done before—she would go over Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel.  Come meet the Queen of the Falls and witness with you…

Wild and Wonderful Wednesday: Storms

I'm not sure I'd call storms wonderful, but they are definitely wild. I do enjoy a good rain storm now and then, but not the kind of storms mentioned in the books I'm highlighting today.  But with the dreadful tornado season that the U.S. has had this year, and hurricane season under way, these books may help students understand the power of these storms.

The Great Wide Sea
by M. H. Herlong
Puffin Books, 2008.
Grades 4-8
Reviewed from personal copy.

Ben and his brothers have always loved sailing on the lake near their house.  But when their mother dies in an accident and their father decides to sell their house and sail around the Bahamas, they aren't so sure about life on a worn old sailboat so far from home.  Then one morning the boys wake up to discover that their dad is gone and they're lost halfway between the Bahamas and Bermuda.  What happened to their father? And what will they do when a treacherous storm looms on the horizon? (blurb from back of book)

This is a …

Book Talk Tuesday: The Penderwicks

If you have not yet met the Penderwicks, you are seriously missing out.  I confess right at the beginning that these are some of my favorite books of all time.  The four sisters, Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty and endearing and oh so flawed.  Maybe it's because I am one of four sisters myself (and a brother), but I can relate to these girls so easily.  Every time I meet them, I come away smiling or laughing.  Now that you know that this review will not be objective in the slightest, let me introduce you to the Penderwick clan.

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy
by Jeanne Birdsall
Alfred A. Knopf, 2005
All Grades
Reviewed from personal copy.
Meet the Penderwicks, four different sisters with one special bond.  There's responsible, practical Rosalind; stubborn, feisty Skye; dreamy, artistic Jane; and shy little sister Batty, who won't go anywhere without her butterfly wings.  When the girls and their doting father head off for t…

Nonfiction Monday: Tom Thumb

Tom Thumb: The Remarkable True Story of a Man in Miniature
by George Sullivan
Clarion Books, 2011
Grades 4-8
Reviewed from copy provided by publisher through NetGalley.

When Charles S. Stratton was born in 1838, he was a large baby, perfect in every way. But then he stopped growing. At age four, though a happy and mischievous child, he was just over two feet tall and weighed only fifteen pounds—the exact same size he had been as a seven-month-old baby. It was then that the notorious showman P.T. Barnum dubbed him Tom Thumb and put him on display, touring him around the world as a curiosity.
     A natural performer, Charley became enormously popular and wealthy, more so than any other performer before him. In this spirited biography—the first on its subject—George Sullivan recounts the fascinating adventures of Tom Thumb, and raises challenging questions about what constitutes exploitation—both in the 19th century and today.
(Book description from

A fascinating st…

Fantastic Friday: Jacob Wonderbar

Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow
by Nathan Bransford
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2011
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.

I read this book during the 48-Hour Book Challenge as sort of a comic relief after the tearjerker I had just finished.  I figured it looked kind of fun and wacky, and it was.  What did surprise me a little bit was the level of writing and how the characters had more depth than I was expecting for a book that I thought would emphasize plot. Here's the blurb from the inside cover:

Jacob Wonderbar has had a weird day.  First there was that incident with the substitute teacher and the sprinklers. (Okay, maybe that wasn't so unusual for Jacob.)  Then he and his best friends, Sarah and Dexter, discovered a silver man and a spaceship in the woods near their houses. Weirdest of all? The man offered to trade his ship for a corn dog!  It sounded like a pretty good deal to Jacob, until he and his friends took their new ship for a test ride . . . and accide…

Book Review Extra: Words in the Dust

Words in the Dust
by Trent Reedy
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011
Grades 6 and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.

I love reading books about other cultures, other places, and other times. But sometimes these stories can be really gut-wrenching. In this book, the main character, Zulaikha, is an Afghani with a cleft palate.  Not only does this make eating, smiling, and talking difficult, but she is treated poorly by both neighborhood boys and her stepmother.  It seems that her chances of making a good marriage are about nonexistent. When Zulaikha meets an old acquaintance of her mother, her desire of learning to read starts to bloom.  Then the opportunity to have her mouth fixed arises and learning to read becomes secondary.  At the same time, Zulaikha's sister, Zeynab, is preparing for marriage.  Just when it seems all will work out, a devastating blow falls on Zulaikha, and she has to decide what she wants the most.  I won't say any more than that because I don't want to give away t…

Wild & Wonderful Wednesday: The Visconti House

The Visconti House
by Elsbeth Edgar
Candlewick Press, 2011
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.

After reading a review over at Charlotte's Library, I decided that I needed to read this book ASAP. And I loved it.  This is the kind of story I like best, and the writing is great too. Here's the blurb from the book:

Fourteen-year-old Laura Horton doesn't quite fit in.  She lives in a crumbling mansion that everyone calls "the haunted house," and she has more in common with her parents' eccentric artist friends than with the girls at school.  So when loner Leon Murphy moves in next door, Laura avoids him at first; she doesn't need anything else different or weird in her life.  But when Laura becomes obsessed with uncovering the history of her house -- the Visconti House--she finds that Leon understands her need to know what happened to the lonely Italian gentleman who built it.  Together, Laura and Leon begin to unearth the mansion's history, a history of e…

Book Review Extra: Small as an Elephant

Small as an Elephant
by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
Candlewick Press, 2011
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from purchased copy.

As I've read some of the reviews of this book on Goodreads, I've pondered on the various comments.  Some people loved it, some people didn't.  Some thought it was believable and some did not.  I guess it just goes to show that few if any books are universally loved.

This is the story of Jack, and eleven-year-old from Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, who finds himself alone at a campground in Maine. His mother suffers from mental illness and has abandoned him.  Jack knows that if he tells anyone about this, he will most likely be taken from his mother, and since this has happened before, he decides to try to find her before doing anything else.  After discovering that his mother is not accessible, he decides to try to make it home.  Once he realizes just how far away home is, he decides to do something that he hopes will let his mom know he forgives her. His struggles …

Nonfiction Monday: The Manatee Scientists

The Manatee Scientist: Saving Vulnerable Species
by Peter Lourie
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011
Grades 4 and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.

I'll start by saying that I really like the Scientists in the Field series, and this one is no different.  The high quality photographs and straight forward writing make these books fascinating to read.  I didn't like this one quite as much as some of the others that I've read, but it is still good and shows the impact that field work can have in the real world.

In this book, the author follows the efforts of three groups of scientists who are studying the three different species of manatees, in Florida, the Amazon River basin, and coastal West Africa. Lourie makes it clear that the Florida manatees have been studied the most because they are the easiest to locate. The Amazon River Basin is enormous and the murky water makes it hard to see these creatures who spend much of their time well below the surface.  The same problem e…

48-HBC: Finish Line!

I know I'm a little late in posting this, but since I didn't expect to win anything, its okay.  Here is what I accomplished:

16 hours of reading time$26 given to charityThe following books completed: The Manatee Scientists, Words in the Dust, Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, Penderwicks on Gardam Street (I know this one wasn't on my list, but I really wanted to finish it)1/2 hour of blogging/social networking etc.I was surprised that I didn't get more books read considering the number of books I used to fly through when I was younger.  I think there are a couple of reasons for this.  First, I read more thought-provoking books now than when I was younger, and second, I think and question more as a I read than I did as a child.  Anyway, now I have a starting point for next year.  It has been fun to get some books read over the weekend, I d did finish an additional book after my time expired, so I finished 5 books over the weekend which is kind of neat since I …

48HBC Post 1

Wow, almost six hours down and I've only finished one and a half books.  The Manatee Scientists I finished and will be reviewing soon (probably for Nonfiction Monday).  I'm halfway through Words in the Dust, which I am finding very compelling, but also heart tugging. I guess I get so attached to the characters when I read a good book, that I vicariously experience the ups and downs in the book.  I am amazed though at the way the author manages to portray a young Afghani girl, when not only is he not a girl, but he is not Afghani either.  I'm going to finish this one before I go to bed.  I think I'll try something a little lighter for my next read. Thanks to all those who've taken the time to visit my blog!  Good luck to us all.

Hours read: 5 hours 55 minutes
Blogging/networking: 30 minutes

Sixth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge: Starting Line | MotherReader

48-Hour Book Challenge Begins

Well, here I am beginning the 48-Hour Book Challenge (I changed this post from the original post I made on Wednesday). I can't think of a better way to end the school year than by reading as much as possible in 48-hours.  So here is what I plan to do:
Read for at least 12 hours or complete 10 books, whichever turns out to be the most doable. I will donate $1 for every book I complete and for every hour I read.  My donation will be made through my church. I plan to read from approximately 11:30 a.m. Friday morning until 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning. I do have some other activities that need my attention so I will read when I can during this time.This time around, I've chosen 2011 books from a variety of genres to complete the challenge.  The books I have chosen are: The Manatee Scientists: Saving Vulnerable Species by Peter Lourie (Nonfiction, Science)Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy (Contemporary--other country)Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow by Nathan Bransford (Humor)