Thursday, March 31, 2011

Chocolate Moose review

Chocolate Moose

Chocolate Moose loves chocolate almost as much as he loves to help. When this BIG moose starts helping in Mrs. Mouse's LITTLE kitchen, the only thing he cooks up is a huge chocolate mess! But Mrs. Mouse's four little mice don't mind at all-could this messy baker make the perfect babysitter? (goodreads summary)

Poor Moose...he loves chocolate so much he decides to apply for a job in a bakery and it turns out to be harder than he thought.  The story was cute and the pictures were soft and pleasing to the eye. I think children will like seeing Moose try hard even though everything turns into a bit of a disaster. Pancake batter ends up on the ceiling and young ones will think "oh no, not again" at another one of Moose's mishaps! Luckily, Mrs. Mouse is very patient and sees potential for Moose to fit in somewhere anyway.  This would make for a nice read aloud during quiet time as the words and illustrations seemed calming and peaceful.  It would be a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Chocolate Moose
Author: Maggie Kneen
Genre: Picture Book Fiction
Pub. Date:  January 2011, Penguin Group
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Radiance review

Radiance (Riley Bloom, #1)

Riley has crossed the bridge into the afterlife—a place called Here, where time is always Now. She has picked up life where she left off when she was alive, living with her parents and dog in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. When she’s summoned before The Council, she learns that the afterlife isn’t just an eternity of leisure. She’s been assigned a job, Soul Catcher, and a teacher, Bodhi, a possibly cute, seemingly nerdy boy who’s definitely hiding something. They return to earth together for Riley’s first assignment, a Radiant Boy who’s been haunting a castle in England for centuries. Many Soul Catchers have tried to get him to cross the bridge and failed. But all of that was before he met Riley . . .
(goodreads summary)

I always know when it is either fall or spring. The Scholastic Book Fair hits our school and we love to see the variety of books offered to us avid readers.  I learned that Radiance is actually a spin-off from the Immortals series by the same author. Although I have never read these, I may just give them a try in the future.  Riley is also a character in the young adult Evermore books but is venturing into her own storyline.

Riley is a 12 year old girl who meets an untimely death and crosses the bridge to move onto the afterlife called Here. This book tells the story of Riley's life in the afterworld starting with the week after her death.  In the Here and Now world,  she can manifest anything she wants.  She feels that her life was cut short and would really like to be back on earth with her surviving sister, who is actually the main character in the Evermore series.  She meets with The Council and finds out she will become a Soul Catcher. One that retrieves spirits still lingering on earth that have not crossed the bridge for one reason or another over to the other side. Her first assignment is to guide a ten year old boy spirit called the Radiant Boy who has been haunting a castle in England for over a century. Others before have failed and she is determined to not follow that lead. After meeting the Radiant Boy, he is quite a horrifying character and that explains why others have not been able to get him to cross over.  She comes face-to-face with her fears and learns alot about herself in the process. Riley's character is a spunky girl, smart and quick witted.  She is a likeable character and does develop from beginning to end through this first time journey.  The story is written in the present tense, referencing  Joe Jonas, American Idol and Starbucks that readers will find a connection with.  Her relationship with her guide Bohdi, who must help her learn the ways of the afterlife, is also an important piece towards her growth. He also has a quest to fufill of his own and this evolves alongside with Riley.

I really liked this book and found it to be a mild first time ghost story for middle grade readers.  My 5th grade daughter read it and I wasn't sure how she would take to the ghostly imagery and depictions in some of the writing. Especially during a part where Riley is facing a clown with dentist drills and an abundance of snakes summoned by the Radiant Boy spirit who is refusing to cross-over. Three things that give me the willies....but she said it was fine and enjoyed the story.  The book definitely leaves us wanting a series and I look forward to reading the next book Shimmer which should be out soon if not already.  I just hope the author keeps it for the younger readers in mind and does not eventually wander into young adult territory in the future with changes in the writing on this series.  I think this would be a "just right book" for grades 5-8.

Title:  Radiance
Author: Alyson Noel
Genre: Paranormal
Pub. Date: January 2011,  Scholastic
Paperback, 178 pgs.
Purchased from the book fair

Friday, March 25, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

Thanks to  Crazy-for-books for hosting this hop, I hope to hop on from time-to-time......I also found some new blogs and I am looking forward to knowing what others are reading and saying! 

This week's question comes from Mina who blogs at Mina Burrows:
 "If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?"

My Answer:  This is a tough one because there are so many good books or series.  I really am having trouble selecting.........

I think it would be the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. I have always been drawn to Greek Mythology and find it fascinating.  A second choice would be The Chronicles of Narnia. How cool would it be to walk into a wardrobe whenever you want to find a new world waiting for me.

The Lightning Thief            The Chronicles of Narnia

Have a great Hop Weekend Everyone!! I'm looking forward to reading what others have said.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Owly & Wormy Friends All Aflutter review

Owly & Wormy, Friends All Aflutter!

Owly and Wormy want some butterflies! But when they come home from the nursery with a plant that will attract some fluttering friends, all that show up are fat, green bug things. Bug things are NOT butterflies! But, they are nice and fun and good at sleep outs under the stars and always up for a game of checkers. Fat, green bug might even be better than butterflies! Let’s be friends forever! But, the bug things can’t stay. When the bugs build their cocoons, Owly and Wormy think they have no friends left at all. They wait. And wait. And wait. And one day…their dreams have come true…and all a flutter! Owly’s friends are back….AND they've turned into butterflies.  (goodreads summary)

This book was so much fun!  It is a wordless storybook filled with bold and vibrant pictures.  A young reader will understand the storyline by putting together the expressions and symbols on each page.  For example, when racoon at the nursery wishes Owly and Wormy good luck with the new plant they just purchased, the symbol of a 4 leaf clover is shown above her head.  Very creative! Children will easily follow along by using their own thoughts and words to complete the story. I think it also emphasizes nicely on patience and friendship. It is quite a busy book and has alot going on inside with the various pictures, but it also makes for a great introduction to the lifecycle of a butterfly. It is definitely a charming and cute book and arrives just in time for spring!!   This would be a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Owly & Wormy Friends All Aflutter!
Author: Andy Runton
Genre: Picture Book
Pub. Date:  March 2011, Atheneum Books
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Storm Mountain review

Storm Mountain

Impossible! Suicidal!  That's thirteen-year-old Cat's reaction to her impulsive, irrepressible cousin Ty's harebrained scheme to spread the ashes of their late fathers at the summit of the same treacherous mountain that claimed both their lives.  But when Ty sets off on his own--stealing her dog and her father's ashes--Cat is forced to follow against her better judgement. (goodreads summary)

Cat's mother is away for the weekend and she has made the perfect plans. To hang out with her beloved dog Mugs, make the best pizza ever, have a shot of mocha and stay up all night. Unfortunately, her cousin is left alone for the weekend too and shows up at her door and changes the plans in an instant.  According to Ty, he has a dream about his father that leads him to the idea he should spread his ashes atop Storm Mountain where both he and Cat's father lost their lives two years ago. Cat is against the idea from the beginning, aware of the dangers the mountain holds. The next morning, Ty takes off on his own willing to fullfill the destiny of his dream.  Angrily, Cat faces the trecherous mountain in search of finding Ty and bringing him to his senses. The story unfolds one survival adventure into another as the two make their way through the wilderness dependent on Cat's mountaineering skills to lead them home. They come face-to-face with an avalanche, falling into an ice crevasse and hoping to survive an oncoming snowstorm in a snow cave shelter just like their fathers tried but unfortunately cost them their lives. Something Cat is determined not let happen to them. The story is fast-paced and the chapters are short and quick.  It strives for humor with Ty's character but Cat doesn't play along. It is a survivial against the elements kind of story and would be a simple and fast read.  It would be a "just right book" for grades 5-7. ~

Title: Storm Mountain
Author: Tom Birdseye
Genre: Adventure/Survival
Pub. Date: June 2010, Holiday House
Hardcover, 135 pgs.

Monday, March 21, 2011

A Dog's Best Friend review

Product Details

This is a great book for the family who loves dogs as well as a fun and helpful guide for children on becoming the best of friends with their pet. I think we have checked this one out several times from our local library.  Inside it is filled with fun things to do, yummy things to make, good care tips from puppyhood to adult, safety tips and some interesting facts about dogs along the way.  It will also help your family answer if you are ready for a dog or not. The craft projects and playtime suggestions are very kid friendly. Our dog loved whenever we would take out our baking pans because she knew we were making her treats from the easy recipes that were included.  We still make them for her from time-to-time.  It is a delightful  book that will help guide children on the responsibility of taking care of a pet, having fun by doing so and also teaching them the importance of caring and love that will develop a bond to last them both a lifetime.  Your pet will thank you! This would be a "just right book" for ages 8 and up. ~

Title: A Dog's Best Friend - An Activity Book for Kids
Author:  Lisa Rosenthal
Genre: Nonfiction
Pub. Date: 1999, Chicago Review Press
Paperback, 166 pgs.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

Thanks to  Crazy-for-books for hosting this hop, I hope to hop on from time-to-time......I also found some new blogs and I am looking forward to knowing what others are reading and saying! 

This week's question comes from Somer who blogs at A Bird's Eye Review (her blog design is ADORABLE - check it out!):
 "Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?"

My Answer:  First of all a big Happy Birthday to the Book Blogger Hop. Thank you Crazy for Books for keeping it going so long. We wouldn't be doing this if it were not for your dedication!!

Next, on to this week's question.  I usually only read one book at a time (I think I would get my stories mixed up if I didn't). But I do have an extra book upstairs on my night table that I'll read to get myself sleepy but really not that often. I'm usually too tired at the end of the day........

Happy Hop Weekend!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Children Make Terrible Pets Review

Children Make Terrible Pets

This book definitely put a smile on my face! Lucy the bear finds a cute little boy in the woods. She is so delighted with him that she takes him home and asks her mom if she can keep him.  Her mom says (which I love) "children make terrible pets" but reluctantly agrees under the condition that only Lucy takes care of him. How many times have we done or said the same thing ourselves?  This book is a turn-around on the responsibility of taking an animal from its home and if you can make it into your very own pet?  This book was a fun read and heart warming! The pictures are cute and the story was filled with good humor. It teaches us a valuable lesson about nature that will warm your heart too. This is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Children Make Terrible Pets         
Author: Peter Brown
Picture Book
Pub. Date: September 2010, Little, Brown and Co.
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Water Seeker review

The Water Seeker

Amos Kincaid is the son of a dowser – a person gifted in knowing how to “find” water deep in the ground. As a young person, Amos doesn’t reveal his gift to others; he’s not sure he wants the burden. But through his experiences growing up and crossing the Oregon Trail, Amos learns about life’s harsh realities, especially the pain in losing loved ones. As he cares for those around him, Amos comes to accept his dowsing fate. This epic novel is a fascinating period piece about the westward expansion and one man’s destiny as he searches for love and family. (goodreads summary)

When I first started reading this book, I wasn't sure if I was going to finish it or abandon it.  It had a slow start feel  but eventually moved along in the middle enough for me to keep reading until the end.  As I read more into it,  I realized Amos is a dynamic character and who he was destined to become.  The story follows Amos from his birth to manhood between the time period of 1833-1859.  His father Jake is a trapper and entrusted Amos's care to his brother and wife after Amos's mother dies, promising to return every year to see him.  When Amos is six years old, Jake returns that year with a Shoshone Indian wife and decides it is time for Amos to join him and Blue Owl on his journeys.  As the years go by, the story turns when Jake and Amos, now fourteen,  join a wagon train leading them on The Oregon Trail to settle on new land with 40 other families.  The authors depiction of the hardship and exhaustion of pioneer life seemed very real as I read through their personal struggles and how the families learned they had to move onward.  There were many strong characters throughout this adventurous book, especially the several women portrayed.  Amos's mother also follows a few characters in the form of a spirit and that also plays an important part in his story to the end. Some topics that the author addressed were death (such as from childbirth, small pox and crossing the Oregon Trail), racism, family relationships, domestic abuse, a first love, loss and poverty and to grow and become a man. It is a nicely written story, full of details, memorable characters,  joy and sorrow, tragedy and an ending for Amos where he finds acceptance.  The 1800's were tough times and these were definitely tough people who had to cross unknown territory to start up new lives and cities. The author spared no details of the harsh times. I have seen that this book is recommended for ages 10 and up. Because it is a little slow in the beginning, it may not capture the younger readers interest.  Also, some of the content is mature and they may not understand the story behind it. I think it is a "just right book" for ages 12 and up.  I ended up liking this book and glad that I stuck with it until the end.~

Title: The Water Seeker
Author: Kimberly Willis Holt
Genere: Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: 2010, Henry Holt and Company
Hardcover, 309 pgs.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Wonderful Book review

The Wonderful BookWhat is this wonderful thing?
Is it a bed?
Is it a table?
Is it a hat?
There is a very clever little boy who knows exactly what it is. (jacket description)

The curious animals of the forest find many different things a book could be. When a little boy finds it last, the animals become even more curious as he sits down to read it. This is a sweet and simple book with large illustrations beautifully done.  Kids will giggle when they see the animals being silly with the book too.  It would make for a wonderful read aloud in the classroom or by an independent reader.  This would be a  "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title:  The Wonderful Book
Author:  Leonid Gore
Genre: Picture book
Pub. Date: November 2010, Scholastic Press
Hardcover,  32 pgs.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

Thanks to  Crazy-for-books for hosting this hop, I hope to hop on from time-to-time......I also found some new blogs and I am looking forward to knowing what others are reading and saying! 

This week's question comes from Ellie who blogs at Musings of a Bookshop Girl:

 "If I gave you £50 (or $80) and sent you into a bookshop right now, what would be in your basket when you finally staggered to the till?"

My Answer:  Oh, that would be so nice...... To actually have an extra $80 and purchase some books instead groceries or over priced gas for the car or well, you get the idea. I think it would be a fun trip and I would probably be there all day because I would have a hard time deciding. But I did think of a few that I would like to read right now (instead of having to be number 46 on the library waiting list......). Have a good hop weekend!

Clockwork Angel

The Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare


Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Moon Over Manifest

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Angel Burn

Angel Burn by L.A. Wetherly


Silverlicious by Victoria Kann

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Crooked Kind of Perfect review

A Crooked Kind of Perfect

Ten-year-old Zoe Elias dreams of playing a baby grand piano at Carnegie Hall. But when Dad ventures to the music store and ends up with a wheezy organ instead of a piano, Zoe's dreams hit a sour note. Learning the organ versions of old TV theme songs just isn't the same as mastering Beethoven on the piano. And the organ isn't the only part of Zoe's life that's off-kilter, what with Mom constantly at work, Dad afraid to leave the house, and that odd boy, Wheeler Diggs, following her home from school every day. Yet when Zoe enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition, she finds that life is full of surprises and that perfection may be even better when it's just a little off center. (goodreads summary)

I found this delightful book at our local library the other day. It is not a new one but not old either. What caught my eye was the front cover!  It reminded me of a pair of socks I owned when I was in grade school.  After reading the jacket, I was expecting something cute and it turned out to be a good choice. There are many diverse characters in this book that will make it a fun and enjoyable read.  Zoe dreams of playing the piano at Carnegie Hall in a beautiful ball gown and tiara. Her life is suppose to be that way but then there is her reality.  Zoe's family issues may seem heavy but the book stays light to the end. Her mom is a workaholic and her dad has anxiety of leaving the safety of their home and also has trouble going shopping (they have 432 rolls of TP in the basement).  Zoe keeps alot of feelings to herself but manages to work through them with understanding and acceptance in a mature way.  She looses a best friend but gains an unlikely one from a boy in her class who offers much needed support when the day arrives for the Perform-O-Rama.  This book is funny, light-hearted and sweet. It focuses on the study of music, family and friendships that together will lead up to a wonderful outcome for Zoe.  It was nice finding a gentle, clean read by accident. This would be a "just right book" for grades 4-6.~

Title: A Crooked Kind of Perfect
Author: Linda Urban
Genre: fiction
Pub. Date: September 2007, Harcourt, Inc.
Hardcover, 211 pages

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Long Walk to Water review

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story

A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way. (goodreads summary)

Based on a true story, one moment will change this 11 year old boys life forever. In 1985, Salva's village is suddenly attacked by rebel soldiers while he is at school and  instructed by his teachers to run away into the bush.  Alone with no family, this is Salva's story of his fight for survival, courage and hope while he makes his way to Ethiopia to a refugee camp. He must withstand hunger, thirst, fear and loneliness during his years of travelling.  After being forced to leave Ethiopia, with determination he leads a group of boys to Kenya which later takes him to his final  journey to America.  Nya is a fictional girl from a village in the present time who walks hours daily for water for her family.  Her family faces disease and illness from the contaminated water source.

Even though this book is small with only 120 pages it will leave a big impact on its reader.  It is an incredible story of a boy who has lost so much and is forced to survive on his own at such a young age. I was in awe of Salva's courage and hope from the beginning to go on. With every sense of loss, Salva took more strength from it.  I found the book to be beautifully written and deeply moving.   Although the author toned them down, some depictions were vividly described but not too graphic. For example, the crocodiles in the river as people were forced to cross and the gunshots from the soldiers overhead at the same time.  It definitely added to the imagery and sorrow I felt while I was reading.  I also liked how the two characters of Salva and Nya paralleled in the chapters and gave me two different but connecting stories to follow to the end. I also found a connection between the title and storyline.  I learned so much about the civil war in Sudan and the devastating toll it took on millions of lives. Both stories ended with a positive outcome and I really took in reading about Salva's  past, present and what his future has in store.  Salva adds a note in the end where he states a very inspirational quote about perseverance to young people. I think this would be a "just right book" for grades 6-9. ~

Title:  A Long Walk to Water
Author: Linda Sue Park
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: November 2010,  Clarion Books
Hardcover, 120 pgs.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

How Rocket Learned to Read review

How Rocket Learned to ReadLearn to read with this New York Times-bestselling picture book, starring an irresistible dog named Rocket and his teacher, a little yellow bird. Follow along as Rocket masters the alphabet, sounds out words, and finally . . . learns to read all on his own!(goodreads summary)

Rocket finds that he cannot read but will soon become more interested with words after he meets a little yellow bird who would like to teach him.  He learns the alphabet, sings word songs and soon discovers the joy of reading.  The pictures are so bright and colorful.  Rocket along with the little yellow bird are an adorable pair, connecting the two together as student and teacher.  The story encourages learning to read by practicing putting letters together and children will be excited when they find they can spell and learn the words right along with Rocket. Nothing is better than a book that sparks the interest of learning to read. Great book for snuggling up in a chair with your child or in a school setting.  I think it is a "just right book" for ages 3-6.

How Rocket Learned to Read
Author: Tad Hills
Picture Book
Hardcover, 40 pages
Publisher: Schwartz & Wade Books
August 2010

Friday, March 4, 2011

Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

Thanks to  Crazy-for-books for hosting this hop, I hope to hop on from time-to-time......I also found some new blogs and I am looking forward to knowing what others are reading and saying! 

This week's question comes from Mia who blogs at Girl About Books:
 "Who's your all-time favorite book villain?"

My Answer:  This may be too easy of a pick today but my all-time favorite book villian would be Lord Voldemort!  Just thinking about the name right now gives me the chills.  If people shiver when they say "you know who" and "he who shall not be named" without even having to say your real name, then you definitely have the makings of an awesome villian.  Who else could make a book series last so long?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Little by Little review

Little By Little

Otto is an otter who can do many things. But there's one thing he can't do: swim. Little by little, and with  some help from his big sister, Otto gets the courage--and the practice-- to splash and tumble in the water with his friends.  (goodreads summary)

I loved this book!  Not only for the sweet and gentle character Otto, but for the message it will give children that before they can accomplish any big thing, try starting out small.  It takes time and practice to develop certain skills and Otto learns with determination that taking small steps first will help him reach his goal of swimming.  Reading, writing, tying shoes, cutting with scissors or even learning a new sport can frustrate little ones easily. When they see Otto take small steps, little by little, it may just be the encouragement they need to help with a task that seems difficult for them.   The pictures are bright and colorful and the text flows easily from page to page if you read aloud.  Children will connect with Otto and feel his sense of accomplishment when he shows them what he can add to his "can do" list now.  This is a "just right book" for ages 3-6. ~

Title:  Little by Little
Author: Amber Stewart & Layn Marlow
Genre: picture book
Pub. Date:  May 2008, Orchard Books
Hardcover, 24 pgs.