Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wild Life review

Wild Life

Erik is preparing for his first-ever hunting trip when he learns that his parents are being deployed to Iraq.  A few days later, Erik is shipped off to North Dakota to live with Big Darrell and Oma, grandparents he barely knows. When Erik rescues a dog that’s been stuck by a porcupine, Big Darrell says Erik can’t keep him. But Erik has already named her Quill and can’t bear to give her up.  He decides to run away, taking the dog and a shotgun, certain that they can make it on their own out on the prairie.  In this story of adventure and survival, Erik learns about the challenges and satisfactions of living off the land, the power of family secrets, and the pain of losing what you love. (goodreads summary)

Twelve year old Erik arrives home with exciting news that he passed his hunter safety course and is looking forward to his first outing with his best friend and father. It is soon overshadowed when Erik learns that both parents are being deployed to Iraq at the end of the week. Arrangements have been made for him to move to a very small, underdeveloped town in North Dakota to live with grandparents he does not know.  When Erik arrives, his grandmother is sweet but his grandfather "Big Darrell" is very cool and does nothing to welcome him into his home.  Erik cannot believe he will be living in this remote area for 6 months or maybe even longer. When a stray dog in need of help shows up at the farm with porcupine quills in its nose, he befriends the dog and feels that his life may be bearable after all. But to his dismay, Erik's grandfather says "No dogs" and strictly forbids it into the home. Unfortunately, the owner of the dog has also been located a couple of days later and is ready to take her back. Not only does he have a hard time adjusting to his new surroundings but also does not want to return the dog.  While Erik is alone one day, he decides to see what is behind the closed door that his grandparents do not want him to enter in. Inside, he finds a bedroom shrine from Erik's uncle who died at an early age from the Vietnam War.  When he notices his uncle's old hunting gear, gun and a few other supplies in the closet, he decides to run away to survive living a pioneer life on the land away from any adults telling him what to do.  Besides, what more does he need when he has supplies and a faithful dog by his side?

This story is a quick and fast paced survival/adventure read.  It moves along in a matter of five days time and Erik is faced with a few challenges such as finding shelter, hunger, thirst, sickness and snowy weather. Naturally, things do not go as planned for him and eventually realizes this adventure could be harder than he thought.  The writing was not only wonderfully descriptive but also gave me detailed feeling of the setting and characters.  Because of the fast pace, it just may capture some reluctant readers in need of a bookshare book.  I thought there were some great vocabulary words that kids may find new and noteworthy as well.  Hunting and cleaning pheasants and a rabbit is mentioned in detail but I guess that is part of the true survival experience Erik faces. Both Big Darrell and Erik had to come to terms with loss and change that made for some character development for each person.  I also thought the cover art was eye-catching and beautiful.  I think this is a "just right book" for grades 5-8.~

Title: Wild Life
Author: Cynthia DeFelice
Genre:  Fiction
Pub. Date: April 2011, RR Donnelly & Sons
Hardcover, 177 pgs.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Best Pet Ever review

The Best Pet Ever

A little girl really wants a pet and with some creative thinking and a very active imagination she finds all types of objects that can become the best pet ever. A rock, a glove, a candy wrapper and even a balloon all serve as substitutes! Until, one day, she carefully opens a box to find a real kitten--and he is the best pet in the WORLD!  (goodreads summary)

When the little girl in the story asks her mom for a pet, her mom's reply is "we'll see".  So instead, by using her imagination, this carefree girl finds various objects that she can turn into the best pet.  This cute story is full of imagination and using creativity to come up with something out of the simplest thing.  The wonderfully done illustrations will make you smile and laugh. Especially when the girl gives names to her object pets and describe the things they will do . The book brought me back to my childhood when I would make things out of boxes and play for days on end with it until it fell apart. I love books that promote using the imagination and think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-6.~

Title: The Best Pet Ever
Author: Victoria Roberts - illustrated by: Deborah Allwright
Genre: Picture book
Pub. Date:  March 2010, Tiger Tales
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Blogger Hop - September 16

Book Blogger Hop

Thanks to Crazy for Books for this great Book Blogger Hop question this week, iIt is a great way to meet other bloggers and share our thoughts.  Here is what Jen has to say about this weeks question!

This week, I went to Twitter for the prompt. Thank you to @fangswandsfairy for a great blogger-focused question!

“As a book blogger, how do you introduce yourself in your profile?”

My Answer:  I had a hard time writing a profile for myself. I think I had a blank page in front of me for two days and I remember going back and forth to my computer. So, I decided to just write about the passion that I had for books and how we as adults can help instill this in our children by helping them make good reading choices.  I love reading so many genres of books and passing on that "just right book" for everyone to enjoy through my blog.

I am looking forward to reading what others have said and will catch a few new profiles along the way. Have a great hop weekend everyone!!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Let it Fall review

Let It Fall
The leaves turn red, brown, and orange, then drift down from the trees. It is time to go apple picking and on hayrides at the county fair. Fall is finally here!
With soft colored art, adorable children, and colorful outdoor scenes, LET IT FALL celebrates all the seasonal awe of autumn.  (goodreads summary)
The fall season is my favorite time of year. There is so much going on yet to enjoy before the arrival of the winter months. This cute book is a nice introduction to the Autumn season reminding us of all the special things we can see, feel and do this time of year. The short rhyming text flows nicely and would be great for beginning readers. The pictures are soft and full of expression as the family rakes leaves that blow in the wind, attend the county fair, view the beautiful colors while hiking and pass a few animals getting ready for the cold changes themselves.  This book put me in the mood for some caramel apples!  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3 - 6.~
Title: Let It Fall
Author: Maryann Cocca-Leffler
Genre: picture book
Pub. Date: July 2010, Scholastic
Hardcover, 24  pgs.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Imaginary Girls review

Imaginary Girls

Chloe's older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can't be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby's friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby. But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.(goodreads summary)

Ruby and Chloe are separated when the tragic death of a classmate is questioned and she moves in with her distant father miles away. The reservoir is a place where kids would go for parties and swimming but there are also many other secrets that it holds. Two years after the discovery of London's dead body, Ruby finds Chloe and insists she returns to her hometown to be reunited so she can take care of and protect her just like before. Ruby and Chloe share the same mother who was non existent in their lives growing up.  Ruby was always the popular, daring and outrageous sister. All the girls want to be like her and all the boys want to be with her. Upon her return, Chloe now finds things are more different than usual with Ruby.  She seems to hold an unexplainable power over the small community and the people around her.  She is manipulative and will use others as a pawn to get what she wants whenever she wants, especially with ex-boyfriends.  Being influenced by Ruby's unnatural force, some almost seem to be in a trance like state at times in her presence. Both sisters also have an incredible needy bond but hold a strong love and trust for each other.  Ruby is very protective of Chloe and insists that she does not go near the reservoir or leave the outskirts of town.  Ruby would tell Chloe stories of the flooded Town of Olive that was laying underneath the reservoir giving it a ghostlike quality. As Chloe adjusts to the many unusual changes around her, she unfolds answers to the secrets that lay at the bottom of the mysterious watering hole which determines what is real and what is not.

When I first started reading this book, I had a hard time getting into it. I wasn't sure what direction this story was taking. I found myself confused in the beginning and almost gave up on it.  It took me until the first 80 pages to realize this was becoming more exciting and I was liking it.  I picked up on the beautiful writing talents of the author and ended up surprisingly captivated by this supernatural story after all. I found myself eager to read into the next chapter to see what was going to happen. The haunting words flowed so easily and they gave me such an eerie visualization that I had the heebie jeebie's for a couple of days.  Good writing is suppose to do this for the reader and I found myself hooked on the spookiness.  The relationship of the two sisters seemed quite strange but it was a story about the strong bond of sisterhood and how far someone would go for the one they loved.  What Chloe had to figure out was the truth behind Ruby's powerful force and how it connected with the death of London which turned out to be a surprise as well.  I enjoyed the twists and turns at each new chapter keeping my attention until the very end. I admit I was left with questions lingering in the end  but I suppose that was the author's intent, so I would reflect on what I just read.  There is drinking and Chloe does have a sexual encounter but is not written in too much detail and is brief.  This book may not be for the reader looking for a wrapped up plot in the end but I was glad I gave it a chance with an open mind.  It will make for a good supernatural story to curl up with now that the chilly fall nights are fast approaching.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 16 and up.~

Title: Imaginary Girls
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Genre: young adult, paranormal
Pub: Date: June 2011, Dutton Books
Hardcover,  348 pgs.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Adventure Annie Goes to Kindergarten review

Adventure Annie Goes to Kindergarten
Annie Grace wears her “Adventure Annie” cape to her first day of kindergarten, and proceeds to barrel through the day, searching for adventure in every moment. Her interpretation of the class’s Gold Star Rules isn’t exactly what her teacher, Mr. Todd, had in mind. But somehow Annie does manage to save the day when two of her classmates get lost on their way to retrieve the afternoon snack. Spirited and funny, this is an introduction to kindergarten that will please kids and teachers alike (goodreads summary)

Adjusting to kindergarten is an adventure itself and now in progress for many children these past couple of weeks. I found this funny story the other day that may be a fun read to help lighten up the nerves while the first few days go by. On her first day of school, Annie is expecting quite a few fun adventures in kindergarten such as a wild animal zoo or high-flying circus one. Her mom explains to Annie that kindergarten is an adventure on its own.  Annie soon finds that there are rules and good choices to be made and eventually being a helper leads her to a special adventure after all. Children could connect with the school day scenario and giggle at Annie's attempts for making her own adventures. The illustrations are sweet and the story has a happy outcome for Annie's patience. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 4 and up.~

Title: Adventure Annie goes to Kindergarten
Author: Toni Buzzeo- illustrated by Amy Wummer
Genre: picture book
Pub. Date:  May 2010, Dial Books for Young Readers
Hardcover, 32 pgs.