Monday, May 27, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5-27-13

Stop by Teach Mentor Texts to link up with other bloggers taking part in Jen & Kelle's meme!

Books I Read this Week:

MageFable by Heimdall Thunderhammer
Eagershelm, 2013
216 pages
Recommended for grades 5-7

An epic adventure around a mouse mage named Clove as she searches for the necessary elementals needed to bring down villain Sinvicious.  Clove has help from other small creatures, all with their own large personalities.  Hunting Clove and her friends are an army of rats that are out for blood.  The illustrations are sweet at times, and rather gruesome at other times.  Let it be noted that there are some bloody battle scenes that younger readers drawn to the colorful cover might not be ready for.
I work with the author of this book and was happy to be given a copy for review (I even got a cute bookmark to go with it, complete with tassel!).  

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson
Delacorte, 2013
Historical Fiction
240 pages
Recommended for grades 6+

I went into this story not having read Hattie Big Sky.  So here's what a Hattie newbie has to say:
I LOVE Hattie!  She is bold and hardworking, smart and thoughtful.  I love historical fiction, and Larson has done her research here, as she assures us in her author's note!  Larson's writing is so rich, she created characters and scenes I could vividly imagine.  I wasn't done with Hattie by the end of the book, truth be told, I'm kind of missing her!  
And I must mention that the cover is a perfect match for Hattie's new city outfit in the story.  Not only do I appreciate a detail like that (you know how many covers are not that related to the story), but I also love that ensemble! 

The Platypus Police Squad: The Frog Who Croaked by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Walden Pond Press, 2013
227 pages
Recommended for grades 3-6

I have to admit, I was pretty doubtful about a book featuring detective platypuses...could he pull it off, I wondered.  My answer: Yes!  Not only is the book funny, but it is thoughtful and intriguing   The story doesn't drag for a moment, and the characters are continually being developed throughout the story.  I'm excited to add this title to my classroom library, and I foresee a lot of interest in this series. 

My only beef, and I can't keep it to myself, are some inconsistencies between the text and the pictures.  But what really gets me here is the fact that the author and illustrator are one in the same... **I read and reviewed an ARC, these inconstancies may not exist in the published version**

Some of my noticings:

Shawn Freeman is described as being lanky, but this character is far from that in my opinion, perhaps confusing young readers on the meaning of the word.
A character at the police station is said to be drinking coffee in the text, a soda is shown in the illustration.
Joey is said to be wearing a cap in the text during a football game, no cap in the illustration.
There were other minor things, but the story was good enough for me to not be turned off by these slight errors.

This week I also enjoyed some of Carrie's picture book recommendations at There's a Book for That, and I am pleased to say they were all a hit with the kids and myself! 

I'm Currently Reading:

I'm Currently Listening to:

On Deck:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Amazing Giveaway Opportunity!

Stop by Kid Lit Frenzy to see what an amazing giveaway is being offered!
Here's a hint...

But I would choose:

Good Luck!

Monday, May 20, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5-20-13

Visit Teach Mentor Texts to find a list of other blogs participating in this fun weekly post!  Thanks Jen & Kelle for encouraging the sharing of books!

Books I Read This Week:

Chu's Day by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex
HarperCollins, 2013
32 pages

Is this the same author that brought us:

Yes, it is!  Displaying his true range in style, Gaiman brings readers a short and semi-sweet tale about a little panda named Chu.  While the short story might be a hot ticket for small ones at bedtime, it wasn't a huge hit with my students.  I think it's the illustrations that will win readers over here.

Forest Has a Song by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater, illustrated by Robbin Gourley
Clarion Books, 2013
32 Pages
Recommended for grades 2-4

If you've ever spent a day in or near a forest you will feel the authenticity of the poems in this collection.  With the opening poem "Invitation" we are beckoned into the forest.  Once inside the forest we experience the change of seasons, the wildlife within the forest walls, and the simple things one finds to do within.
The soft watercolor illustrations perfectly compliment the feel of the poems.
I'll be adding this to my poetry collection!

I'm Currently Reading

I'm Currently Listening to:

On Deck:

Thanks for stopping by!  What have you enjoyed lately?


Monday, May 13, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? 5-13-13

Find tons more to add to your To Read pile over at Teach Mentor Texts, hosted by Jen & Kelle!
I hope all the mommas had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday!  Nothing feeds the soul like being around your loving family.  I love you Mom!

Books I Read this Week:

Elvis and the Underdogs by Jenny Lee
Balzer + Bray, 2013
304 pages
Recommended for grades 3-6

Benji is the smallest kid in his grade.  But it's not just his small stature that pegs him as an extreme underdog.  He also suffers from idiopathic epilepsi, which is to say that the seizures he has are due to an unknown origin.  The danger of Benji having a seizure and possibly hitting his head without anyone around to help is a risk that his doctor wants to lessen.  Her ideas:  get a service dog that can sense the onset of the seizure, or wear a giant green padded helmet...everywhere.  We can guess what Benji wants, but his all powerful mom is not too keen on the dog idea.
Back at school it's a giant green helmet nightmare.  Bully Billy Thompson has a run-in with Benji that ultimately seals the deal on Benji getting his service dog.  Enter Elvis Pembroke IV, a giant Newfoundland that was trained to be the President's dog...or so he says.  That's right, he says things, to Benji, who can hear words instead of barks from Elvis's mouth.  Elvis takes himself very seriously and is highly disappointed to be appointed to Benji rather than the President.  But Elvis has his honor, and he takes on the task at hand of protecting Benji.
This story is full of new found friendships in unlikely places, where we learn that even the toughest and most put together people have their own struggles, and we have a heck of a lot of laughs along the way!  
I read an advanced copy, and I hope a slight issue of continuity on pages 185-186 is cleared up in the final printing.  Elvis says something that only Benji can hear, but another boy, Alex responds as though he knew what Elvis said. 
 I've got kids already begging for this book, they've seen me reading it for a couple of weeks, and I've told them just enough to hype them up. 

The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 1 by Jasper Fforde
Harcourt Children's Books, 2012
296 pages
Recommended for grades 7+
This is another title you will find on the 2013-2014 Maine Student Book Award List.  I listened to the audio book, and I must tell you, it was a real treat!  Don't be fooled by the title into imagining a sword wielding dragon-slayer on the hunt all through the book, it is far from what you'll find.  My favorite character...the Quarkbeast.  Quark!

Rosie's Magic Horse by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Quentin Blake
Candlewick Press, 2013
40 pages
Recommended for grades 1-4

What child isn't burdened by the worries their parents voice over financial troubles?  Rosie is among the many that meander off to bed with that unfortunate knowledge.  When she dreams of a magical horse taking her away to find treasure she isn't the only one living a dream.  Her collection of icy pop sticks are living out their dream of transforming into something more than used up icy pop sticks.  And in the morning we ask ourselves...was it a dream?

The Dark by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Jon Klassen
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013
Fantasy, perhaps
40 pages
Recommended for grades 1+

You know I was excited to get this bad boy.  Snicket, Klassen, I love them.  The dark...not so much.  I can totally relate to Lazlo here.  When the lights flicker and the power goes out I...freeze.  Like a weirdo I don't move a muscle, waiting for the lights to snap back on.  I blame it on too many horror movies in high school and college.  But this simple text brings us to the dark being a living entity, sharing a large creaky house with Lazlo and his family, although we never meet the family.
Reading this to my third graders one shouted out, this is scary, little kids shouldn't read this!  Hehe, I love it when a kid gets so wrapped up in a story.  But in all fairness, Snicket and Klassen did a fine job at brining the creep factor to this book.  And in the end...well, you'll just have to read to find out what happens in the end!

Wilfred by Ryan Higgins
Dial, 2013
32 pages
Recommended for grades 1-4

I just had an amazing experience with my third graders, comparing and contrasting Wilfred and The Giving Tree.  I plan to share that in the future.  What I'll tell you now:
This book is a keeper!  I was hooked by the art work, and then won over by the storyline.  The most wonderfully amazing part is that after requesting the book from the library I realized Ryan Higgins will be visiting with my students in June!  We are psyched!  More to come on this story later, perhaps after we've met with Ryan.  I will let you know if he is as cool as his book ;)

I'm Currently Reading:

I'm Currently Listening to:

On Deck:

Thanks for stopping by!  Share your thoughts and win a cookie!  Actually, share your thoughts and get your own cookie.  

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Maine Student Book Award Event!

Where will you find me this Saturday?

Hope to see you for this fun, free event!  Look for committee members sporting their super cool MSBA T-Shirts :)  You can purchase yours here:

I'm excited to bring the committee members, the display of the 2013-2014 MSBA titles, and of course, the AUTHORS of the winning book to Maine students.  Go Books!