Showing posts from September, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Schools around the World

This week I am introducing my students to the theme I have chosen for the year, One World, Many Stories.  I am excited about this because I will be able to combine two of my passions, geography and reading.  A lot of the nonfiction books and fiction books that I will highlighting in the coming year will have a strong geography element.  That does not mean of course that I will stop reading other kinds of books, my interests vary too widely for me to do that.  It just means there will be a lot of books with settings other than the United States.  Today I am highlighting four books about students and schools in countries around the world.

Rain School
written and illustrated by James Rumford
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-547-24307-8 
Grades K-3
Reviewed from purchased copy.

It is the first day of school in Chad, Africa. Children are filling the road. "Will they give us a notebook?" Thomas asks.
"Will they give us a pencil?”
"Will I learn to read…

Fantastic Friday: Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner

Nightshade City
by Hilary Wagner, illustrated by Omar Rayyan
Holiday House, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8234-2285-2
Grades 5-8
Reviewed from copy borrowed from library.

Deep beneath Trillium City, a modern metropolis, lies the Catacombs, a kingdom of rats of extraordinary intelligence and ability. The once peaceful and democratic colony has become a harsh dictatorship ruled by the High Minister Kildeer and his henchman, Billycan, who runs the Kill Army and collects weekly Stipend from the terrified subjects. The two of them rule with iron fists. With most of the adult rats wiped out in Killdeer's Bloody Coup and the subsequent great flood, orphaned young male rats are forced into the army and the females into servitude or worse. But change is coming. . . .Two orphan brothers, Vincent and Victor Nightshade, sons of a hero killed in the Bloody Coup, manage to escape from the Kill Army and meet up with Juniper Belancourt, leader of a rebel group seeking to overthrow their oppressors…

Fantastic Friday: Bigger Than a Bread Box

Bigger Than a Bread Box
by Laurel Snyder
Random House, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-375-86916-7
Grades 3-6
Reviewed from ARC received from publisher.

A magical breadbox that delivers whatever you wish for—as long as it fits inside? It's too good to be true! Twelve-year-old Rebecca is struggling with her parents' separation, as well as a sudden move to her Gran's house in another state. For a while, the magic bread box, discovered in the attic, makes life away from home a little easier. Then suddenly it starts to make things much, much more difficult, and Rebecca is forced to decide not just where, but who she really wants to be. Rebecca is a sympathetic character.  I felt for her from page one.  I haven't experienced the things that she does in the story (certainly not a magic bread box, sigh), but some of her emotions are certainly common for most people. Her confusion and hurt, the anger, the feeling of instability, and her lack of control over her circumstances come shi…

Announcement: Interview and Giveaway

Head on over to Sarvenaz Tash's blog for a great interview and giveaway.  Stephanie Burgis, author of Kat, Incorrigible, is interviewed.  The giveaway is for Stephanie's book, and a book she recommends, Vanished by Sheela Chari.  I've Read Kat Incorrigible and loved it, one of my favorite books of the year. See here for my review.

Book Talk Tuesday: The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School
written by Laura Murray, illustrated by Mike Lowery
G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2011.
ISBN: 978-0-399-25052-1
Grades K-3
Reviewed from purchased copy.

When a class leaves for recess, their just-baked Gingerbread Man is left behind. But he's a smart cookie and heads out to find them. He'll run, slide, skip, and (after a mishap with a soccer ball) limp as fast as he can because: "I can catch them! I'm their Gingerbread Man!"

With help from the gym teacher, the nurse, the art teacher and even the principal, the Gingerbread Man does find his class, and he's assured they'll never leave him behind again.
Each year the kindergarten teachers at my school start the year off with a gingerbread man unit, where the students decorate their own gingerbread man (paper). When I first saw this book, I thought it would be perfect to share when the students came to the library for the first time. The kindergarten teachers give me …

Nonfiction Monday: America is Under Attack by Don Brown

America is Under Attack: September 11, 2001, The Day the Towers Fell
written and illustrated by Don Brown
Roaring Brook Press, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-59643-694-7
Grades 2-5
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Some things shouldn't be relived, it keeps the wound from healing.  On the other hand, sometimes remembering or opening the wound can aid the healing process, like draining an infection. I saw articles and photographs that focused on the events of the day, these made me cry. It was like it was happening all over again. I also saw articles focusing on what some people have done to memorialize their lost loved ones.  These reminded me of the beauty that can arise from ashes.

At the tenth anniversary of September 11, the question arises, how do we talk to children about what happened that day.  The children I work with weren't even born when it happened. How do we help students understand the event without giving more detail than is appropriate.  Don Brown has answered that question beautifu…

Fantastic Friday: Trundle's Quest (The Six Crowns)

Trundle's Quest (The Six Crowns)
by Allan Jones, illustrated by Gary Chalk
ISBN: 9780062006233Greenwillow Books, 2011
Grades 1-4
151 pg.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Trundle doesn't think he's an adventurer. He's a lamplighter. He likes everything safe and cozy, and that's the way things are in his peaceful part of the Sundered Lands. Until Esmeralda barrels through his door.

Esmeralda, a princess with a knack for magic and for finding trouble, is convinced that Trundle is the only one who can help her find the six crowns. Lost and scattered long ago, the crowns could unite the Sundered Lands once again. But not if the pirates find them first.

Suddenly, Trundle is on the run. He becomes a stowaway, a drifter, a thief's accomplice, and a swordsman.Trundle may find that he is a true hero, after all . . . and that this is only the beginning of an epic journey.( It's nice to find a fantasy tha…

Book Talk Tuesday: Joe and Sparky

Joe and Sparky Get New Wheels
by Jamie Michalak, illustrated  by Frank Remkiewicz
Candlewick Press, 2009.
Grades K-2
Reviewed from copy borrowed from local public library.

Sparky is a turtle who likes to stay inside his shell. Joe is a giraffe who likes to stretch his neck and see the world. When a car appears one day at the famous cage-less zoo where they live, the two set off on the ride of their lives, with Joe behind the wheel and Sparky hanging on for dear life. From the shopping mall to the car wash to the take-out burger joint, Joe and Sparky cause mayhem everywhere they go. Young readers will love sharing the road with this unlikely pair in a string of adventures that are by turns innocent, charming, and laugh-out-loud funny. ('m always on the look-out for early readers that are attractive and readable as well as appealing to the first grade crowd. Joe and Sparky fit the bill.

Joe (a giraff…

Nonfiction Monday: The Worst-Case Scenario Survive-o-pedia

The Worst-Case Scenario Survive-o-pedia
by David Borgenicht, Molly Smith, Brendan Walsh, and Robin Epstein
illustrated by Chuck Gonzales
ISBN: 978-0-8118-7690-2
Grades 3 and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.

It s the best of the worst! This hardcover, full-color edition of the popular series loved by parents and kids alike serves up a wild ride through mudslides, volcanoes, shark-infested oceans, menacing mountains, and more. Seventy entries are packed with illuminating facts, eye-popping photos, hilarious illustrations, must-see maps, heaps of humor, and step-by-step instructions. Readers will be armed with the knowledge and skills needed to survive anything and live to tell about it! (  The world around us is a fascinating place, but it can also be a dangerous place.  Knowledge can often be the difference between life and death, maybe that is why I enjoy reading survival related books, but not…