Friday, August 26, 2011

Calli Be Gold review

Calli Be Gold

Eleven-year-old Calli Gold is the quiet third child in a family of loud overachievers. In fact, the family motto is Be Gold. Calli's sister is on an ice-skating team, and her brother's a basketball star. Her parents are sure she has a hidden gift for something. They just have to figure out what it is! But Calli has flopped at everything she's tried. She sure doesn't feel like a Gold.  Until a new person enters her life. Second grader Noah Zullo might seem strange to some people, but Calli can't help liking him, and they become partners in their school's Peer Helper Program. When they create a booth for the Friendship Fair, they fill it with secrets and surprises. And as Calli and Noah work and learn together, they even surprise themselves. (goodreads summary)

Calli is an average 5th grade girl growing up in a family of high achievers. Pressured by her family motto to "Be Gold" she is uncertain as to where she fits in with her family.  Her mom is highly scheduled with calendars and post-it notes keeping track of every activity claiming that their life would fall apart if it weren't for her organizational talents. When the family has dinner, her dad requests a status report from each child telling him of a daily accomplishment.  Unfortunately, Calli not only feels she has yet to find her proud moments but she is a disappointment to her parents as well. Her parents are pushing her to be successful at something but she just wants to be ordinary and feels that being quiet is okay in this family of louds. The family life is guided by be loud and get noticed and that being busy is a matter of importance.  When she meets Noah, who faces a few challenges himself, the two begin a very special and much needed friendship.

In a society today of constantly being on the go and over scheduling, this story could hit home with many readers.  Calli's family represents many today with hectic schedules and trying to balance out each child's activity, especially on the same day.   This dad is a type-A competitive parent who shouts from the stands at games and video tapes other team's practices so his son can be the best.  But Calli is not the only one trying to find a voice in the family. Her sister Becca does not tell her parents that her ice skating coach is threatening to replace her in the big competition with an alternate. She is afraid of what her dad will say of her not meeting the family expectations.  Alex feels there is more to life than basketball and mom would like to just sit in the front window and enjoy a coffee once. It seems that everyone has trouble expressing their true feelings to one another. Their lives are in such a rush that no one takes the time to listen. When Calli befriends Noah, she sees in him what no one else does.  An ordinary boy who just needs someone to understand his differences and help him try to fit into a world that makes him nervous. I loved the compassion and empathy displayed in Calli's determination to reach Noah in a way she saw that he needed. Noah in turn opened up and gave Calli the feeling of pride and accomplishment that she longed to find as well.  By the end of the book, there are a lot of good character developments among the family members. Many parents could read this story as well. It would gently remind us to sit back and take a look at our own family dynamics and what is truly important.  There is some talk of a girl wearing a bra and some boys in the class chanting "u-ter-us "and thinking this is quite funny when the teacher mentions an upcoming health class. Other than that, it is mild and mainly focuses on finding your sense of place, speaking up for yourself, compassion and remembering that rewards can come in small packages instead of an award or trophy.  I think this is a just right book for 6th grade and up.~

Title: Calli Be Gold
Author: Michelle Weber Hurwitz
Genre: fiction
Pub. Date: April 2011, Wendy Lamb Books
Hardcover, 198 pgs.

Book Blogger Hop - August 26

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! 

My Answer:  Yes I do. I am am softie when it comes to having pets. At the moment we only have our Dog who is a 9 year old golden retriever and two fish. My dog is the sweetest thing and I hate to see that she is starting to show her age this year. We did have chameleon's in the past, a gecko and  two gerbils too until this past year. My daughter has been working on a bunny for sometime now but I haven't budged on that one yet...........

Looking forward to reading how many households have pets and what kind! Have a great hop weekend!

“Non-book-related this week!! Do you have pets?”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Little Croc's Purse review

Little Croc's Purse

One fine day Little Croc finds a lonely lost purse ...and it's full of money! Does he keep it and use the money for himself? Will he succumb to the temptation of some new shoes, a cool lemonade or the teasing of his friends? No! Honourable Little Croc is off to find the owner. And when the owner of the purse lets him keep it and the money inside, he soon realises that being honest is its own best reward! This is a brand new heart-warming tale from "Dandylion" creator, Lizzie Finlay.

Here is a wonderful story that will help teach honesty and character building to the little ones. While playing hide-and-seek with the other crocodiles, little croc finds something that looks valuable. When he finds that the purse is filled with money, he must decide what the right thing to do is. The other crocodiles try to persuade him to not find the owner, but I was happy to see that little croc uses his conscience to guide him in the right direction. He must also face many temptations along the way to the police station. This was a cute story with a happy ending for doing a good deed. It will also make for good discussion on the importance of being honest and not letting others steer you from doing what you feel is right.  The illustrations are whimsical and full of bold color as well.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Little Croc's Purse
Author: Lizzie Finlay
Genre: picture book
Pub. Date: January 2010, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fall into Reading -our end of summer tradition

Chasing Redbird

It started out as an ordinary summer. But the minute thirteen-year-old Zinny covered the old, overgrown trail that ran through the woods behind her family's house, she realized that things were about to change.  Right from the start, Zinny knew that uncovering the trail would be more than just a summer project. It was her chance to finally make people notice her, and to have a place she could call her very own. But more than that, Zinny knew that the trail somehow held the key to all kinds of questions. And that — the only way to understand her family, her Aunt Jessie's death, and herself, was to find out where it went. (goodreads summary)
As the days grow shorter in August, signaling the end of summer break is near, I choose a book to read to my kids every week until the first day of school begins.  I'm  amazed that even though my kids are now 15 and 11, they still look forward to our end of summer tradition asking me if I'm going to read to them tonight. We grab our pillows and blankets, along with popcorn and cozy in during the crisp, cool nights. This past week I chose to read Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech. She is such a talented writer and I cannot think of any of her books that we have not enjoyed. I love finding a book that pulls you in and keeps your interest right up to the end. Chasing Redbird definitely hooked us and will be added among our list of summertime favorite reads.  
This is a coming of age story about Zinny Taylor who lives in Bybanks, Kentucky. She is trying to process the guilt felt that she is responsible for the death of her cousin who died when they were four from catching whooping cough. Most recently, her beloved Aunt Jessie passes away and the family tries to cope with her loss. Zinny also carries the burden of her death as well. Her Uncle Nate seems to be going crazy and chasing his "Redbird", a name he had for Aunt Jessie, around the family farm and wooded area. When Zinny finds an overgrown abandoned trail that leads from her farm to a town named Chocton several miles away, she is determined to clear it from end-to-end and claiming it as her own.  She camps out for 10 days at a time along the trail while clearing it, alone with her thoughts and trying to find answers to the many questions that linger in her mind.  There are several characters in the story that add humor including Zinny and we had a good laugh at quite a few happenings along the way. She is also confused about a boy named Jake Boone who gives her presents to show his affection towards her. She encounters wilderness animals and further on down the trail finds a mysterious cabin that help give her the the much needed answers to what she has been seeking.  The story is about love, family, death and grief, determination and finding out where you belong in all of these.

We all really liked this book and it did make for a wonderful read-aloud.  It gave us opportunity to talk about many different parts and we found new words/phrases. I also threw out the question  "would you want to do something like this if you found an unknown trail?" My kids came back with the question to me "would you let us do something like this?"  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 10 and up.

Title: Chasing Redbird
Author: Sharon Creech
Genre: Fiction
Pub. Date: March 1997, HarperCollins
Hardcover, 261 pgs.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Froggy Goes to Hawaii review

Froggy Goes to Hawaii

Froggy can't wait to get to Hawaii. He's got big plans! Surfing, swimming with the fish, learning to dance the hula - he'll be busy every moment. But somehow, when lovable, trouble-prone Froggy's around, nothing goes as planned.  (goodreads summary

Froggy is off for a fun family vacation to Hawaii with even more energy and excitement than ever. As soon as he wakes up, this cute little frog is jumping on his bed and ready to go. He has trouble waiting in line at the airport, sitting still on the plane and almost falls into a volcano because he is so excited!.  Good book for talking about patience and what happens when you can be a little to overexcited. I bet Froggy's mom is exhausted by the end of her day..... I've always enjoyed reading Froggy's mishaps and troubles to my children when they were young.  They would always give us the best kind of silliness and giggles. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3 and up.~

Title: Froggy Goes to Hawaii
Author: Jonathan London
Genre: picture book
Pub. Date: April 2011, Viking Children's Books
Hardcover, 32 pgs.