Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Close to Famous review

Close to Famous
Foster McFee dreams of having her own cooking show like her idol, celebrity chef Sonny Kroll. Macon Dillard's goal is to be a documentary filmmaker. Foster's mother Rayka longs to be a headliner instead of a back-up singer. And Miss Charleena plans a triumphant return to Hollywood. Everyone has a dream, but nobody is even close to famous in the little town of Culpepper. Until some unexpected events shake the town and its inhabitants and put their big ambitions to the test. Full of humor, unforgettable characters, surprises, and lots and lots of heart, this is Joan Bauer at her most engaging. (goodreads summary)

Twelve year old Foster and her mother live a life "making the best of it".  Foster lost her father in the Iraq War and her only memories she has left of him is a pillowcase of letters and his dog tags. One night they suddenly find themselves fleeing Memphis from her mother's abusive boyfriend and end up in the small town of Culpepper, West Virginia. Upon their arrival, they are welcomed by the many friendly citizens of the rural town.  The eclectic characters of the small town are plentiful and the two settle in for the time being. Foster also has a learning disability but she is extremely gifted in baking muffins, cupcakes and breads. She has a dream of having her own cooking show and "making the world a better place, one cupcake at a time."

I really enjoyed this heart warming story....I found Foster's character strong and independent despite her unstable lifestyle.  The many characters throughout the book added humor, support with open arms and their wisdom.  I sensed the closeness of the small town people. They are feeling the effects of a prison being built promising jobs and hope but has failed in delivering. Foster finds a variety of friends such as Macon, a boy her age who dreams of becoming a documentary film maker to the many unlikely adults like Miss Charleena, the reclusive movie actress with many issues of her own.  Although, Miss Charleena played an important role for Foster with acceptance of her learning disability and offering help she never seemed to receive from her previous school. Foster also finds she is not the only one that has big dreams among this community and she helps others as they help her.  Foster develops her cooking talents into a small business selling her muffins and cupcakes to the local Bar and Grill.   I liked the many subtle messages and life lessons I found throughout the book.  The story does touch on domestic abuse more than once. Foster's mother has a black eye and later meets up with the same ex-boyfriend again in Memphis and returns with a bruise. She tells Foster she has fallen but does not believe her mother and eventually confronts her for the truth.  This realistic fiction was touching and focuses mainly on following your dreams and finding a way to achieve them despite the things that get in the way.  I did find this book located in the Young Adult section of my library but I think this could be a "just right book" for ages 11 and up.~

you may also like:

Almost Home     Almost Home by Joan Bauer

Title: Close to Famous
Author: Joan Bauer
Genre: Realistic fiction
Pub. Date: February 2011, Viking Juvenile
Hardcover, 250 pgs.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Blogger Hop - June 24

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 weeks question is:

“When did you realize reading was your passion and a truly important part of your life?”

My Answer:   I think I have always had a passion for books. When I was in kindergarten, I would receive Dr. Seuss Books of the Month Club delivered to my home and I think that was the start of it all. I couldn't wait for the mailman to come up those stairs with that package! Later in elementary school, I would always order from the scholastic order form and as soon as the books came would read them during class under my desk top. I remember one teacher in 4th grade that wouldn't give them to me until the end of the school day before I would catch the bus home.  I am so happy I can share this love with my children today. Both are strong avid readers themselves and hope they continue to love it as I do.....

Looking forward to reading what you have to say. It is rainy in Wisconsin "again" and a good day for reading blogs.....Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"I'm Not Sleepy" review

I'm Not Sleepy!

Baby Owl has stayed up all night, but he's definitey NOT sleepy. So why do all the other animals in the forest think it's past his bedtime? He's not stretching, after all, he's just exercising his wings. And he's only yawning because he's bored -- owls need a lot of excitement, you know. This comic tale of a toddler who isn't quite ready for bed will be a sure-fire hit with children -- and parents! (goodreads summary)

We have all heard children say numerous times they are not tired when it is time for bed!  Here is an amusing story about a Little Owl who absolutely does not want to go to bed. He always seems to have an excuse when others from the forest remind him how sleepy he looks.  Little Owl is trying so hard to stay awake that it is even making him a bit grumpy as the story goes along. Some children may find themselves relating to Little Owl when it comes to their bedtime resistance. The illustrations are large and the cute characters have witty expressions. The text is very simple and short making for a quick good night read. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-6.~

Title: I'm Not Sleepy
Author: Jonathan Allen
Genre: picture book
Pub. date: June 2010, Disney Hyperion Books
Hardcover, 32 pgs

Monday, June 20, 2011

What's New, Cupcake?

What's New, Cupcake? Ingeniously Simple Designs for Every Occasion
The endlessly imaginative duo who turned cupcaking into a national pastime is back, with utterly new, eye-popping creations anyone can make. Create a race-car cupcake, a robot cupcake, or ravishing jewelry cupcakes for a birthday party. Surprise the family with Chinese takeout dinner cupcakes on April Fool's or serve up a goofy chocolate moose. Captivate. All you need are candies from the corner store and cake mix and canned frosting.  (goodreads summary)
Here is a fun cookbook for those of us that are always looking for something new to bake. With a few simple food ingredients, ziploc baggies and a free afternoon you can whip up some real conversation starters. The first several pages offer great tips for finding and using the right supplies.  There are also easy pointers on how to decorate these unique cupcakes.  Every turn of a page is an exciting idea for any occasion including holidays, birthdays and even baby showers. Just to mention a few of my favorites; foot long sub sandwich, banana split, making waves (with people in chocolate donut inner tubes), an apple a day, jungle fever animals, flowers and so many more I could choose from.   Last week, my eleven year old daughter and her girlfriend made the cutest grey squirrel cupcakes. It was a wonderful project for the two and they were too cute to eat. Even if you are not into making the cupcakes, the spectacular pictures are just worth viewing.  I have my eye on attempting the bake sale pies for our next school fundraiser. I think this is a "just right book" for anyone who loves cupcakes.~

Title: What's New Cupcake
Author: Karen Tack & Alan Richardson
Genre: Cookbook
Pub. Date:  April 2010, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Paperback, 240 pgs.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Book Blogger Hop - June 17

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 weeks question is:

“How many books are currently in your To-Be-Read (TBR) Pile?”

My Answer:  After reading some people's blogs, I don't come anywhere near what they have.  I will say though that I do have 18 books on my table right now behind me waiting as TBR. I also have 3 more that I just picked up yesterday I had on hold for a while from the library for a whenever read this summer. Also, if this counts I have 68 on Goodreads which 2 of those I have at home right now.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and look forward to hearing what you have!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What's Bugging Bailey Blecker review

The Lousy Life of Bailey BleckerFor fifth-grader Bailey Blecker, a classwide case of head lice is the worst thing that could happen. She's been growing her hair to donate, and she's determined (or stubborn, as her mom calls it) not to cut it until it's long and lice free enough to be useful. But lice are only the beginning of Bailey's troubles, and in this classroom comedy, the solution is full of twists and tangles. (goodreads summary)

Bailey is an ordinary 5th grade girl but seems to have many troubles happen to her at once.  She lives with her single mom who has never been married (but really wanted to have a baby anyway) and does not know her dad. She and her best friend Olivia were suppose to attend a new school together on the mainland for better educational opportunities. Just before school starts, Olivia's parents decide to keep her attending the Island school where they live. Olivia did not protest with this last minute decision either. However, Bailey stayed with her choice to try something new and go to Casco Elementary on her own. She's noticed things have not been the same between the two friends.  Attending a new school alone without a best friend was not easy. Especially when she caught an itchy case of head lice. She is excited about her upcoming birthday party. Unfortunately, since her new school is in the middle of an outbreak of head lice only a few classmates show up. To make the party worse, she looses her beloved pet parakeet that her Aunt gave her. During the course of the story, Bailey must also decide about cutting her long hair to help rid the lice. She is determined not to because she is growing it out to donate because her favorite Aunt is also fighting cancer. 

This story seems to have many plots going on at once but it was a simple and nice coming-of-age story.  Bailey realizes that her friendship with Olivia is different and she struggles with her mixed feelings. It is a very emotional time for her since she is unsure about being the new kid at school, the loss of a very special pet and having to cut her hair which she knows she's growing for a good cause.  Bailey handles each situation in a mature way and showed character development throughout the story.  This book reads quickly and even though it was going in many different directions, the story was easy to follow without getting lost along the way.  It had some good humor in spots and I also felt a connection to the realistic situations Bailey was going through because she was a likable character. I did learn a lot about head lice too. The story mainly focuses on change and old and new friendships which many kids do go through when they start reaching the upper grade levels. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 8-11.

Title: What's Bugging Bailey Blecker
Author:  Gail Donovan
Genre: Fiction - middle grade
Pub. Date:  February 2011, Dutton Juvenile
Hardcover, 194 pgs.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Perfect Square review

Perfect Square

A perfect square is transformed in this adventure story that will transport you far beyond the four equal sides of this square book.  (goodreads summary)

A perfectly happy square finds itself cut into pieces and poked with holes. It decides to transform itself into a fountain... The square is no longer a square and each day of the week something new and magical happens. This simple picture book explores the creativity of shape and design.  It is filled with large words and pictures including a new color on every page making it a wonderful addition to teaching shape, color and even days of the week.  Another concept I found appealing was the message that things can change but the square was able to adapt to those changes.  The story is quite clever and artistically inspires children to think about making new things from something ordinary. I also love that it challenges you to think out-of-the-box. Children will find it exciting to see what happens to the square at every turn of a page. This would be a fun story to read and then to see what they come up with from an ordinary paper shape themselves. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 5 and up. ~

Title: Perfect Square
Author: Michael Hall
Genre: Picture Book
Pub. Date: April 2011, Greenwillow Books
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Death Cloud review

Death Cloud (Sherlock Holmes: The Legend Begins, #1)

It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with eccentric strangers—his uncle and aunt—in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe. So begins Sherlock’s true education in detection, as he discovers the dastardly crimes of a brilliantly sinister villain of exquisitely malign intent.  (goodreads summary)

Young Sherlock Holmes is awaiting his father's arrival to take him home from the Deepdene School for Boys. He finds his older brother Mycroft in his place instructing Sherlock that he will not be returning home as planned. To his dismay he will spend the summer with unknown relatives, an Uncle and Aunt in Farnham he has never met. Upon his arrival, it is obvious he is not a welcome guest. It is up to Sherlock to try and make the best of it for the next couple of months. He meets a fourteen year old vagabond named Matthew Arnatt and the two become quick friends. Sherlock's brother also arranges for a tutor from America to keep up his education during break. Stumbling upon the mystery of two dead bodies in the first days of his arrival, this summer will definitely be one Sherlock will not soon forget.

The first story in the young Sherlock series has everything a good adventure book for young teens should be. It was filled with action, mystery, heroes and villains, problem solving and all around an enjoyable read. The characters blended well as they pieced together a puzzling mystery all lead by a very unusual suspect.  Sherlock's tutor turns out to be more than just a teacher teaching math skills. Amyus Crowe is from New Mexico and has a background in tracking criminals that have escaped justice and hunts them down.  He is instructing Sherlock on using logic, reasoning and deduction skills that will help aid in cracking the case of a dark cloud that was seen leaving the bodies of the two dead men. He has a feisty, independent daughter named Virginia who also plays a strong role.  When Sherlock finds a yellow substance around the bodies, he takes it to a professor for identification.  He puts two and two together and comes up with an answer that leads them on one adventure after another. As the story unfolds, Sherlock and Matt find themselves knowing more than they should and not to the liking of the mastermind behind the deaths. They travel to area towns and must run from henchmen on their trail finding themselves in many dangerous situations along the way.  There were a few scenes depicted that involved street fighting and a stabbing in an alley. Also, when the villain and his plot were finally revealed I did find this part a bit creepy and macabre. But I liked the feel and fluency of the descriptive sentences and word choice throughout the book that made it Sherlock Holmes.  The book kept going up and down with excitement holding my interest until the end.  There is a second book coming in the Fall of 2011 that takes Sherlock and Matt to America and I believe a third one next. This series could probably go on forever and capture a reluctant teen reader in the process.....I think this is a "just right book" for ages 14 and up.~

Title: Death Cloud-Sherlock Holmes The Legend Begins
Author: Andrew Lane
Genre: Mystery, young adult
Pub. Date: February 2011, Farrar Straus Giroux
Hardcover, 311 pgs.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Family Forever Friday - June 3

Here is a brand new meme that was started by E&K Family Book Review to share stories about the people behind the blogs. What a great idea and since I'm all for something new and fun, count me in!

This Weeks Question - yes it is kind of about books, but more about YOU:

What was the book that sparked your love of reading? How old were you?
My answer:  Oh my, I loved so many books as a kid. I couldn't wait for my scholastic book club order to come when I was in grade school. But one book that really sticks in my mind as my all-time favorite would be The Elephant's Child. I had the book with a record and a Donald Duck record player that I would play over-and-over. I was 6 years old at the time in the 70's. This was a good question this week and reminded me of happy days when I was little. I wonder if that book is still around?

Have a good weekend!


Book Blogger Hop - June 3

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 weeks question is:

“Share your favorite post from the last month and tell us why it’s close to your heart!”

Follow Me

My Answer: I think a favorite post that I did this past month was for the picture book Follow Me by Tricia Tusa. The story was written in a poetic verse but the illustrations captured my heart the most. I loved the expression of the girl swinging on her swing and using her imagination to float around the colors of her yard. I think it is a beautiful picture book and glad to be able to share my thoughts about it........

Hope you all have a great weekend. Finally getting hot summer weather here in Wisconsin. We are long overdue for some nice weather around these parts. Looking forward to hopping by and reader other's favorite posts.

Rock Your Wardrobe review

Rock your wardrobe by Laura Torres
Get ready to rock out with these crafty projects! Create stencils to decorate your t-shirts. Style up your wardrobe with colorful tie-dyed socks or craft bracelts for your friends. With step-by-step instructions, fun, creative ideas and handy hints, you'll have the coolest wardrobe around. (back cover)

Summer vacation from school is just around the corner.....If you are looking for suggestions to keep your kids busy, this craft activitiy book I found at my local library may help. It is full of some fun ideas that older kids can do such as; decorated shoes, friendship braclets, rainbow shoelaces or a carry bag from an old t-shirt just to name a few.  The step-by-step instructions are easy enough to follow so you don't need alot of crafting expertise. Simple supplies such as glue, fabric paint, embroidery floss, rubber bands and recycling clothes that you already have will turn into some fabulous fashions. Great projects for rainy inside days or group get togethers with friends. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 8 and up.~

Title: Rock Your Wardrobe
Author: Laura Torres
Genre: Nonfiction
Pub Date: August 2010, QEB Publishing
Hardcover, 32 pgs.