Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Selling Hope review

Selling Hope

It’s May 1910, and Halley’s Comet is due to pass thru the Earth’s atmosphere. And thirteen-year-old Hope McDaniels and her father are due to pass through their hometown of Chicago with their ragtag vaudeville troupe.  Hope wants out of vaudeville, and longs for a “normal” life—or as normal as life can be without her mother, who died five years before. Hope sees an opportunity: She invents “anti-comet” pills to sell to the working-class customers desperate for protection. Soon, she’s joined by a fellow troupe member, young Buster Keaton, and the two of them start to make good money. And just when Hope thinks she has all the answers, she has to decide: What is family? Where is home?  (goodreads summary)

Hope McDaniel is the daughter of a magician whose act is showcased on the 1900's Vaudeville scene and helps as his assistant. Her only hope is to leave it behind to lead a normal life having enough money to find a place to live and stay in Chicago.  A place where she grew up until she was eight years old but left to travel the small circuit with her father, Nick. The Chicago city people are terrified that when the earth passes through the comets tail in May, "gases will fill the heavens" and destroy all mankind.  This story is the countdown to that day approaching.  Sparking an idea to capitalize on the citizens fears to earn the money she desperately needs for her and her father to move on, she devises a plan to make and peddle anti-comet pills in a nearby local alley. She enlists the help of Buster Keaton who seems to be as saavy on the idea as she is and they make for a profitable pair.  This wonderful historical fiction was exciting as well as an entertaining treat.  Hope is very grown up and street wise for her age.  Being placed in an adult world in 1910, how could I expect her character to not be.  I found all the characters believeable in an eccentric and old vaudeville kind of way.  I easily pictured the troupe manager, Mr. Whitting, being as greasy and greedy as they come.  The depicted living in the rundown boarding houses, Vaudeville Troupes riding the rails and old Chicago alleys placed me in an era I can only read about but still made me feel like I was there.   I also enjoyed the time period quick wit and slang  that was so fitting of the 1900's.  Some words and phrases I had to stop and think about. I don't know if kids would do the same or skim past it.  When Hope sold her anti-comet pills, she never looked  her "coins"(customers) in the eyes. Hope's character had heart and soul which also gave her a conscience about right and wrong. Each chapter also had an original newspaper headline from the days in May while the countdown of the comet was to arrive. It is unimaginable to think that people were so panicked and overwhelmed by the anticipation of the comets arrival and its unknown affects to the earth.  There are several  themes to this story and strong bonds of family and friendship.  At the end, the author added an informative note about Halley's Comet and the characters that were actually real people portrayed in her book.  She also included a recommended reading list for learning more about item information found in the book.  Once again, I walked away feeling  that I learned quite a bit from another well written historical fiction novel.  I think this would be a "just right book" for grades 5-8 or ages 11 and up.~

Title:  Selling Hope
Author: Kristin O'Donnell Tubb
Genre: Historical Fiction
Pub. Date:  November 2010, Feiwel and Friends
Hardcover, 215 pgs.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Dog in Boots review

Dog in Boots

Inspired by his favorite story about a cat with fantastic boots, Dog heads to the local shoe store and emerges with some splendid footwear. But Dog soon discovers that his fancy shoes won t let him do doggy things. He tries flippers, high heels, even skis, but can t find anything that is just right. Could the perfect solution be right under his nose? Wants and needs are contrasted though the process of trial and error in this cheerful picture book, illustrated by an artist whose work Publishers Weekly has called "exceptionally adorable. (goodreads summary)

This heart warming and cute smiley dog is looking for the best pair of boots ever! He tries several different types and finds that each one just isn't what he expected.  The illustrations were so fun and colorful with lively text flowing well from page-to-page.  You will fall in love with Dog's happiness in each scene and enjoy his "keep trying till I find the right one" attitude.  It was indeed a very sweet book to read.  All along, Dog just had to look in the right spot for what he needed instead of what he wanted. Kids will laugh at the end when they see Dog go back home and again read another book that gives him a new idea. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Year Money Grew on Trees review

The Year Money Grew on Trees

Jackson Jones is surrounded by three hundred wild apple trees and he needs to make them grow apples--thousands and thousands of apples. But what do he and his sisters and cousins know about pruning, irrigating and fertilizing? To say nothing of driving a tractor? With frostbitten fingers, stinking shoes and sore muscles, Jackson and his crew unexpectedly discover the lost art of winging it--and have the time of their lives. (jacket description)

Jackson is a 13 year old boy living in New Mexico during the 1980's and is offered an unbelieveable opportunity.  If he succeeds at reviving a neglected apple orchard owned by an elderly neighbor into a healthy and prosperous one, she will give it to him for a price of $8,0000 and gets to keep any profits he makes.  This sounds better than working at the local junkyard which his dad is fixing for him to do for the summer.  Jackson and Mrs. Nelson sign an official agreement between the two and his challenge begins.  He knows nothing about farming, apple growing or what to begin with first. After searching out a book from his school library, he realizes he needs plenty of help and recruits his sisters and cousins by offering them a percentage of the profits for their hard work.  He does not tell them though of the agreement that he has with Mrs. Nelson.  Jackson needs to learn many things on his own while facing struggles along the way. Not too many adults are eager to be helpful or become involved either.  These parts made me sad but he was persistant enough to learn and accomplish them on his own.  He bounces with every up and down thrown at him and working out solutions to many problems he ran into. What a group of hard-working and dedicated kids...........

I thought this was a great book!  I found myself cheering them on and was eager to keep reading to see how it would end.  This book also taught me plenty about apple farming that I never knew. There were times when the kids had to figure out how much items cost or how much they needed to sell to make enough money. Several math equations were worked into the writing as well. The author also included various illustrations, for example specific farming equipment, that I felt offered great visualization to something unfamiliar to young readers.  The kids had so much determination and hard-work ethic that they make wonderful role models for readers and  send the message that in order to succeed, you should never give up. It may even inspire some future entrepeneurs this summer. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 9 and up. ~

Title: The Year Money Grew on Trees
Author: Aaron Hawkins
Genre: Fiction
Pub. Date: November 2010, Houghton Mifflin
Hardcover, 293 pgs.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Blogger Hop - April 22

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 Christina who blogs at The Paperback Princesses.  She asks:

 "If you find a book you love, do you hunt down other books by the same author"

My Answer:   I never really thought about this but Yes, I Do. I guess that is how I've come up with my favorite authors I do have and look forward to any new books coming out by them. Although, I have found other novels that I really didn't care for by that same author as well. I realized just now that I also do this whenever I get books for my kids. I usually ask them if they liked the book first and if so would they read more by the same author. After my next trip to the library or bookstore, I'll find them a couple more!  Have a great hop weekend and Happy Easter everyone!! I look forward to reading what you have to say too.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

If You're Hoppy review

If You're Hoppy

Are you feeling hoppy?
Hop hop hop.
Like a rabbit?
Or a kangaroo?
Or a frog?

If the answer is yes,
this book will make you happy.
If the answer is no,
this book will make you hoppy
and happy!

Here is a funny and delightful book written with the children's tune "If You're Happy and You Know It" in mind. The words are definitely different and it may help to review the story first before reading it aloud to a larger group for it to become a smoother read. Children will pick up on the catchy sing-song tune and will enjoy reading along with the bolded choice animal names (expect some shouting).  The pages have large and colorful illustrations with jumbo size rhyming words. Preschool children would enjoy this and I think it would be a "just right book" for ages 3-6.~

Title: If You're Hoppy
Author: April Pulley Sayre
Genre: Picture Book
Pub. Date:  January 2011, Greenwillow Books
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Trapped review


The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive....
Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision....(goodreads summary)

A very unlikely mix of teens are thrown into a survival mode situation when a blizzard hits part of a New England area and stalls for a week. Each one has their own diverse personality that they will need to manage with as well.  Scotty is the basketball athlete, there are his best friends Pete, who is just an ordinary guy and Jason who has a weird fascination with anything military, Les is labeled as the school thug who is the last person you'd want to be alone with, Eli is the creepy antisocial guy and Krista and Julie are the freshman cuties. But as the days go on,  Scotty is realizing that labels aren't always what they seem to be.  One nights stay turns into another as the mounting snow covers the schools windows and doors. They must do what they can to survive the next day or the question is will they? I thought it made for a good survival against-all-odds read and I liked how it was told in Scotty's voice.  The characters were placed in a do-or-die situation and I felt they handeled it quite maturely for their ages. Nobody came across as panicky or whiny but instead  level-headed enough to think in order to work out the situations of no heat, water, or food without any adult involvement.  This is a quiet book throughout and you will have to read to the end to find some excitement.  I am glad that I don't recall any offensive language (which is rare in today's YA books) There were a couple suggestive references, nothing acted on early in the beginning but that was skimmed over quickly enough.  Unfortunately, I was left feeling disappointed that the ending wrapped up fast and leaving me with many lingering questions.  All-in-all, it wasn't the greatest read for me but it did turn out to be a good realistic, survival story and with the authors writing he did give it a serious "what if" feel to the novel.  Kids may relate with the high school scene and social aspects portrayed.  I think this would be a "just right" book for ages 14 and up.~

Title:  Trapped
Author: Michael Northrup
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date:  February 2011, Scholastic Press
Hardcover, 232 pgs.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word review

Lemonade: and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word

Part anagram, part rebus, part riddle—these poems capture a scene from a child's daily life and present a puzzle to solve. Sometimes sweet and sometimes funny, but always clever, these poems are fun to read and even more fun for kids to write. Bob Raczka is a fresh, new voice in children's poetry who knows that fun and games can turn a poetry lesson into lemonade! (goodreads summary)

I love learning something new and by the time I finished reading this new poetic form book I was hooked.  The idea of taking a single word and making a poem out of only the letters in that word is incredibly creative. Readers will really have to put on their thinking caps to solve these clever poems.  I liked how the author had some that were easy and some that were a bit more tricky. It took me a couple of pages to figure out how to decipher them by reading the words over-and-over again. Once I got the hang of it, I was on a roll.  This would be perfect for teachers and librarians to use in the classroom for poetry writing assignments. It will definitely challenge students to think outside their box and come up with ideas on a new form of writing poetry that will be hard work but fun to do.  I think this is a "just right book" for 3rd grade and up.~

Title: Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word
Author: Bob Raczka - illustrated by Nancy Doniger
Genre: Nonfiction
Pub. Date: March 2011, Roaring Brook Press
Hardcover, 48 pgs.

Friday, April 15, 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! 

 "Pick a character from a book you are currently reading or have just finished and tell us about him/her."

My Answer:  I am currently reading and actually almost finished with the book  The Year Money Grew on Trees by Aaron Hawkins. The main character is Jackson Jones, who is 13 years old and diligently works on an apple orchard owned by his elderly neighbor. If he succeeds at reviving and growing a healthy orchard, then she will give it to him for a price of $8,0000 and he gets to keep any profits he makes too. Jackson is a smart boy who takes the process as a challenge and learns alot along the way. He has perserverance and bounces with  every up and down that is thrown at him. I think he is a good role model for kids and will show them that in order to succeed, you should never give up. I am looking forward to finishing this book and cheering him on along the way!

I can't wait to hear what others are reading and their characters of choice.  Have a great weekend...........

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Loud Book review

The Loud Book!


Just like there are lots of quiets, there are also lots of louds:  The Loud Book compiles all these kid-friendly noises from morning to night in a way that is sure to make readers CHEER! (goodreads summary)

There are so many different kinds of quiets. There are also just as many different kinds of louds as we see in this cute new book that arrived this month. Once again, author Deborah Underwood put a smile on my face with this charming follow-up to The Quiet Book (review under picture books). The illustrations are beautifully serene and very pleasing to the eye.  You will actually visualize the loud sounds in your mind before having to look at the pictures while you read.  Having your child close their eyes and tell you what they see would be a fun activity while you read the words out loud to them.  This would also work as a great storytime concept in a classroom setting as well.  There were so many different types of louds that were funny but my favorite ones were the  "oops loud" and "spilling your marbles in the library loud".  The facial expressions of the cute characters matched perfectly with the storyline just as they did in The Quiet Book. I think children will giggle and relate to many of the loud moments shown. This would be a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: The Loud Book!
Author: Deborah Underwood
Genre: Picture Book
Pub. Date: April 2011, Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Five Little Monkeys play hide-and-seek review

Five Little Monkeys Play Hide-and-Seek (Five Little Monkeys Picture Books)

Mama’s out dancing, and Lulu, the babysitter, is in charge. The Five Little Monkeys are supposed to go to bed, but they convince Lulu there’s time for just one game of hide-and-seek first . . . and then another, and another . . . until they discover the ultimate hiding place. Lulu is frantic; where can those monkeys be? (goodreads summary)

Here is a great addition to any reading library. If you are a fan of the classic Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, you are sure to enjoy this charming and witty book.  Bright colorful pictures with repetition and rhyme makes for a great read-aloud.  Once again, the little monkeys are into mischief at bedtime and children will laugh at the silliness. The book also focuses on counting and the page illustrations display numbers, all the way up to 104 , which will help little ones with counting skills as well.  This will definitely be one of those books that will be a reading favorite over-and-over again. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Five Little Monkeys play hide-and-seek
Author: Eileen Christelow
Genre: Picture Book
Pub. Date: August 2004,  Sandpiper (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
paperback, 40 pgs.

Monday, April 4, 2011

EcoMazes: 12 Earth Adventures review


The marvelous Roxie Munro is back with more a-MAZE-ing adventures!  This time she’s taking kids on an exciting (and informative) journey through 12 incredible ecosystems, from lush evergreen forests to colorful coral reefs, from the frozen tundra to hot desert sands. And to make things even more fun—and challenging—every bright and bold maze features hidden animals that belong in that environment, including wolves, stingrays, parrots, crocodiles, and a whole colony of seals! (goodreads)

April is a month with many things happening. Spring is starting to takeover, (April showers bring May flowers), Poetry month and Earth Day is right around the corner. Here is a great book I found just in time for Earth Day celebrations that is not only educational but fun too!  On the inside, children will explore different ecosystems that are important to our planet.  Each page is filled with a maze to follow from one end to the other with their finger (I had to backtrack on a couple of them myself).  They will also need to find different animals that live in that habitat as they travel along the maze route.  Some are easy and a few a bit more challenging.  The back of the book contains an answer key and important information that tells about each ecosystem makeup and its creatures that make their home there. It was a fun book that was bright and colorful. It will also help little ones with their counting skills as they search for the animals along their path choices. I thought this book was a wonderful idea and think it is a "just right book" for ages 5 and up. ~

Title: EcoMazes: 12 Earth Adventures
Author: Roxie Munro
Genre: Picture Book
Pub. Date: April 2010, Sterling Publishing
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Friday, April 1, 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! 

"Since today is April Fool's Day in the USA, what is the best prank you have ever played on someone OR that someone has played on you?"

Actually, I was hoping our local weatherman was playing an April Fool's joke this morning because they are calling for rain/snow mix for today.  yuck!

My Answer: I think back to when I was a senior in High School  I had a really great English teacher first period. We all came into the classroom and sat down and he announced there was going to be a pop quiz today. He walked around with a green sheet of paper placing it upside down on our desks and told us not to look at it or start yet. Everyone in class groaned and then he said it was going to be a timed test now too and we had to get it done in five minutes or it will be an F. When he said "ready, start your test now",  we turned it over and it was a sheet of paper that said April Fool's on it.   I told my son this morning, who is a freshman in HS this year, to watch out for those prankster teachers.

Looking forward to reading what others have to say!   Have a great weekend.......