Thursday, November 29, 2012

Marty McGuire Digs Worms review

Marty McGuire Digs Worms!
Marty McGuire's third-grade class has a special assignment: Save the Earth! Even more exciting, the best project wins a special award. Marty's pretty sure her classmates' ideas won't stand a chance against her plan to turn the garbage from the school cafeteria into fertilizer. All she needs is a little help from her teammate and best friend, Annie--and the worms in her grandma's garden.

But it turns out that worms are awfully SLOW eaters. And when the critters escape, the whole class starts grumbling. Can Marty save the Earth without losing her friends.(goodreads summary)

When Marty arrives at school, there are three terrific things on the "Third-Grade Stars Today" list. First, it's Monday!  Next, Marty is the classroom helper for the week and lastly, a special assembly is scheduled before lunch. The students learn that the interesting person presenting is Amelia Ranidae, a woman who devotes her life to keeping the planet green. She has a special challenge for the school she calls the "Save the Earth Project". She encourages the students to each come up with a way to help the environment and will return in a few weeks to present an award for the best plan. Marty knows that she will have the best idea when she and Annie come up with a way to help reduce the amount of garbage thrown away in the cafeteria.  They set up a composting bin, with worms included, for the students food scraps. By observing daily, they will journal the progress they find. Unfortunately, it is turning out to be a longer process than Marty thought. She is trying hard to be patient but when a few things don't go as planned, Marty finds herself discouraged and wonders if this was the best idea for a project after all.

Marty Mcguire is a great character who doesn't mind rolling up her sleeves and getting her hands dirty in this book! This was a wonderful story that has a lot of learning potential for its' readers. I liked that it teaches young kids about the importance of taking care of our environment and inspiring awareness to keep our planet green. It offered a wide variety of vocabulary words pertaining to nature such as; habitat, indigenous,inhospitable, observation and environment, just to name a few. It also instructs the reader about building a composting bin and how worms play an important role in the fertilization process. All the kids in Marty's classroom came up with some very creative and funny ways to help the planet that stays true to a third grade classroom experience.  I also like that Marty makes mistakes and she learns and grows from them. There are also some wonderful adult characters where each one adds wisdom, guidance and encouragement, something kids really need in their everyday life. This is a nice chapter book series where the author really captures the spirit of the character giving her a believable voice that kids will not only find likable but learn something new as well. There is an introductory book called Marty Mcguire that kids may want to read first. I am looking forward to a third book someday hoping Marty's adventures keep going strong.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 8-9 .~

Title: Marty Mcguire digs worms!
Author: Kate Messner
Pub. Date: April 2012,  Scholastic
Genre: realistic fiction, chapter book
Paperback, 161 pgs.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Peepsqueak! review

As soon as little Peepsqueak bursts out of his shell, he is on the move. He is determined to fly--high, High, High But is he too little to reach the sky? (goodreads summary)

From the moment Peepsqueak hatches, he is on the move and determined to fly. Despite what all the other barnyard animals tell him, he keeps trying to find a way to fly high up into the sky. This was a cute book that encourages a "keep on trying" theme and not letting what others say hold you back.  There are many repetitive words in the story that are larger and highlighted. Kids would have a fun time saying the words (or shouting) along while reading aloud. Although, I did find myself wanting to say pipsqueak instead of peepsqueak and had to correct myself more than once. The primary colors of the illustrations were bold, vibrant and entertaining. I liked the message of not giving up and once Peepsqueak mastered flying, he was no doubt on to the next thing. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 2-5.~

Title: Peepsqueak!
Author: Leslie Ann Clark
Pub. Date: January 2012, Harper Collins
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

One Windy Day review

One Windy Day
Fox the Mailman loves windy days. But uh-oh! Today the wind is blowing his letters near and far, up and down and left and right. Luckily, his friends are there to help!(book jacket summary)

Fox the Mailman loves the wind! But on this day, the wind is extra strong and his mail is blowing every which way.......but lucky for Fox, there are many friends willing to help. Here is a cute and colorful story all about learning the opposites.  A great book for the little ones with its bold colors and visually appealing characters that will help teach opposites such as; high and low, over and under, open and closed, etc.  The front and back covers are padded and each sturdy page has shiny metallic leaves giving the impression they are blowing in the wind that will hold up to the touching from the tiniest hands. A simple fun read for staying in on a cold and windy day. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 1-3.~

Title: One Windy Day
Author: Tammi Salzano
Pub. Date: September 2012, Tiger Tales
Genre: picture board book
Hardcover, board book

Monday, November 26, 2012

About a Bear review

About a Bear
A bear's life is never dull when there is a butterfly to chase, trees to climb, and streams to splash in. It's even better when friends join in...and after all that excitement, every bear needs a hug before bedtime.(goodreads summary)

A very simple but wonderful book about a day in the life of a Bear living in the forest. Whether he is happy or sad or just puzzled by a turtle he finds, Bear encounters many feelings and emotions making this a cute short story for a beginning reader.  The rhyming text is large and flows nicely from page-to-page, which is a great addition to its already simple sentence structure.  The colorful and eye pleasing watercolor illustrations of gentle blues, purples, pinks and oranges helps make this a delightful read aloud for toddlers or preschoolers as well.  I could also picture it as a fun circle time story with a feelings or emotions theme and a learning project to follow.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 2-5.~

Title: About a Bear
Author: Holly Surplice
Pub. Date: September 2012, Tiger Tales
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 24 pgs.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Junie B., First Grader Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten review

Junie B., First Grader: Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten (and Other Thankful Stuff) (Junie B. Jones, #28)
It's Thanksgiving time and Room One is getting ready for their very own Thanksgiving feast! There's even a contest to see which room can write the best thankful list. The winners will get a pumpkin pie! Only it turns out being thankful is harder than it looks. Because Junie B. is not actually thankful for Tattletale May. Or squash. Or scratchy pilgrim costumes. And pumpkin pie makes her vomit, anyway. (But Junie B. is thankful for yummy cranberry sauce that's shaped like a can. And biscuits that explode from their can. And nipsy doodles!) Will Room 1 win the disgusting pie? Can May and Junie B. find common ground? Or will this Thanksgiving feast turn into a Turkey Day Disaster?(goodreads summary)

Junie B. Jones is back once again and this time preparing for a holiday feast during the week of Thanksgiving. Her classmates are also putting together a "thankful list" and the classroom with the best one will win a pumpkin pie! Making a list of thankful things is harder than they thought and with each one having to find two things to be grateful for stumps the whole class.  As told from the voice of a six year old, it definitely makes for a funny and unpredictable story.  Junie B.'s high energy level, poor grammar skills and social awkwardness are all part of her unique character that makes this series so special.  I liked that her teacher did not change what the kids in the classroom thought they were thankful for (like nipsy doodles or biscuits exploding from a can) but instead, eventually accepting their ideas as actual viewpoints from children. This quick story is filled with the usual Junie B. Jones and her Classroom One antics. For fans who enjoy her many other books, they may once again laugh at the silliness. It will also open up an opportunity for kids to think about what they are thankful for this holiday season. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 6-7.~

Title: Junie B., First Grader Turkeys We Have Loved and Eaten
Author: Barbara Park
Pub. Date: August 2012, Random House
Genre: chapter book
Hardcover, 144 pgs.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Super-Sized Slugger a novel by Cal Ripken Jr. review

Cal Ripken, Jr.'s All-Stars: Super-Sized Slugger
Cody Parker may be overweight (he prefers the word burly), but he plays third base like a dream. Too bad no one knows it yet, because he’s new to Baltimore, where he’s a target—okay, a big target—for brutal teasing. Even worse, he’s competing for the starting job on the Orioles of the Dulaney Babe Ruth League against budding hoodlum Dante Rizzo, who vows to squeeze Cody’s head like a grape if Cody beats him out. Life gets even more complicated when York Middle School is beset by a rash of mysterious thefts, a crime wave that threatens to sideline Cody—and ruin a golden season for the Orioles. Will Cody ever succeed in getting people to see him for who he really is?(goodreads summary)

Thirteen year old Cody has a difficult adjustment when he moves from Wisconsin to his new home in Baltimore.  Being a "big guy" is tough for Cody and he worries if he will fit in at his new school.  Cody does have an incredible talent for baseball and he can't wait to try out for the local team, the Orioles. This adds more trouble when he vies for the same position as Dante, the school bully. The coach recognizes Cody's natural ability and places him at third base making Dante not only an unhappy teammate but classmate as well.  After showing the team what he can do on the field, Cody is finding it easier to make friends. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to get along with Dante.  Jessica, a neighbor girl who has spunk and an incredible sports talent herself, stands up to Dante when he threatens Cody one day at school. Cody and Jessica soon build a strong friendship that will include helping to solve a mystery. There is a rash of thefts occurring at the middle school by some inside or outside thieves and Cody has a strange suspicion of who it might be.  With everything happening all at once, Cody must prove to his classmates that the new kid in town can be more than meets the eye.

I think this is another great book from the Cal Ripken, Jr. series that could appeal to either boys or girls.  Just like in Hothead, this second book is full of sports lingo and subtle messages that kids can identify with but also adds the twist of a mystery. The main characters of Cody and Jessica are positive role models when it comes to standing up for yourself and for others.  Jessica jumps in and takes on Dante when the situation gets out of hand, showing courage to be a strong voice instead of being a quiet witness.  Cody also proves to the others they shouldn't judge a book by its' cover with his athletic ability and positive attitude. When trying to solve the theft ring, this part of the story had some good suspense and action to keep the reader engaged until the end. The story wraps itself up with a championship game that is full of excitement and expresses the importance of teamwork.  I also connected to many things mentioned in the storyline because I live in Wisconsin. There were many references to the City of Milwaukee and the Brewers, Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun ( yeah, MVP!), Miller Park Stadium and our local newspaper The Journal/Sentinel. I think that sparks excitement and great interest for kids when an author uses realistic references they know about and can relate to.  This book was quick and fast-paced and a good fit for a reluctant reader as well. I hope to see more books in the future about the team and its' characters because they could make for many positive learning experiences for its readers. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 10-13.~

Title: Super-Sized Slugger a novel by Cal Ripken, Jr.
Author: Cal Ripken, Jr. with Kevin Cowherd
Pub. Date: March 2012, Hyperion
Genre: middle grade, realistic fiction
Hardcover, 183 pgs.

You may also like:

Hothead  Hothead

Friday, November 16, 2012

One Two That's my Shoe review

One Two That's My Shoe!
When a mischievous puppy runs off with his owner's shoe, it's a race from one to ten to get it back again! Over the teddy bears and out the door, readers can rollick along with the canine trickster and count the scenery along the way. (goodreads summary)

Here is a fun counting book with a twist to the One Two, Buckle my Shoe verse to share with your little one. As the story begins, the playful dog steals his girls shoe and off he goes as she chases him trying to get it back. The illustrations are in simple primary color but visually large enough and with an added touch of nostalgic feel to them.  Big numbers are in the corners of each page with the same number of items matching for a great learning to count experience. Although text is quite simple, it offers a great combination of rhyming words and counting making this a new fun and silly read for toddlers and preschoolers. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 2-4.~

Title: One Two That's My Shoe!
Author: Alison Murray
Pub. Date: June 2012, Hyperion
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bear Says Thanks review

Bear Says Thanks
Bear has come up with the perfect way to say thanks—a nice big dinner! When Bear decides to throw a feast, his friends show up one by one with different platters of delicious food to share. There’s just one problem: Bear’s cupboards are bare! What is he to do?(goodreads summary)

Poor Bear...he is so bored when all of a sudden he comes up with the best idea! A feast he will share with his friends. But how can he make a feast when his cupboards are empty. As his friends show up with the most delectable treats, Bear may soon realize that he just might have something to share after all.

Another sweet and simple book from the popular Bear series that gives its reader a true feeling of generosity and friendship. As the friends bring a dish to pass around, Bear offers a heartfelt "thanks" for all their kindness. The story has wonderful rhyming text and the pictures are in warm autumn colors. As you look at each page, there are cute and gentle expressions from its many characters adding that touch of softness the story gives. I love the message it sends about sharing and gratitude, especially at this time of year.  Bear learns that even though he has no food to offer the others, he has his own special qualities that the friends are thankful for as well.  This is a great book to cozy in with and count your own blessings.  I think this is a "just right book" for ages 2-7.~

Title: Bear Says Thanks
Author: Karma Wilson, illustrated by Jane Chapman
Pub. Date: September 2012, Margaret  K. McElderry Books
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Other Great Books in the Bear Series to enjoy:

Bear Snores On    Bear Wants More  Bear Stays Up for Christmas  Bear Feels Sick

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm review

Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm (Book #11)The lucky penny in Judy Moody’s pocket sure does seem to be working. She can’t stop winning — at bowling, spelling, the unbeatable Prize Claw, everything! For sure and absolute positive, she’ll ride that wave of good fortune all the way to Washington, D.C. Watch out, District of Cool, here comes Judy Moody, the luckiest kid ever, until . . . oh, no! Her lucky penny just did a belly flop into a porcelain bowl of yucky, blucky UNluck. Has the coin’s magic gone kerflooey?Are some people, like Jessica Finch or Stink, destined to have all the luck, while she, Judy Moody, gets stuck with a yard full of three-not-four leaf clovers, a squealing potbellied pig in an elevator, and a squashed penny with cooties? ROAR!(goodreads summary)

Judy does seem to have the best luck ever lately. Especially since the lucky penny in her pocket came from the penny making machine.  It helps her win at the prize claw (not once but three times) and also win the highest score at bowling. She just knows it will get her the big spelling bee win for a trip to Washington D.C. to represent her classroom. But just as luck would have it, she mistakenly drops her penny in the worst imaginable place and all the magic seems to disappear.

Judy Moody is one of my favorite series for grades 2-4.  As always, one thing leads to another making this an entertaining and funny read.  Sometimes it is just nice to have a book to read that puts a humorous spin on things.  This story moves quickly along from having good luck to not having good luck, a trip to Washington D.C.  to babysit a pig, the realization of  a friendship and answers the question; does good luck really need to come from an object? It also offers a nice description of Washington D.C. for kids who have never been there and a wonderful connection for kids who may have. When Judy and her brother Stink babysit for Jessica's pig at the hotel, this makes for an entirely new adventure for the two to work out.  Just like in the other books, Judy's character is definitely spunky and has a bit of sass to her throughout the storyline. She does make for a lighthearted character full of spirit though.  The illustrations are just as fun and is an added touch to the story.  Kids will find a chuckle or two after reading another one of Judy's adventures. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 7-9.~

Title: Judy Moody and the Bad Luck Charm
Author: Megan McDonald , Illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
Genre: fiction, middle grade
Pub. Date: August 2012, Candlewick
Hardcover, 157 pgs.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sky Color review

Sky Color
Marisol loves to paint. So when her teacher asks her to help make a mural for the school library, she can’t wait to begin! But how can Marisol make a sky without blue paint? After gazing out the bus window and watching from her porch as day turns into night, she closes her eyes and starts to dream. . . . (goodreads summary)

From her love of painting and drawing to her creative clothes, Marisol considers herself a true artist. But she hits a stumbling block when she is unable to find the blue paint she wants for the sky color on her class mural.  Sometimes we just need to let children know that it is "okay" to think outside the box and this story is a wonderful example of finding inner creativity and problem solving.  It offers children the opportunity to explore the concept: what if you didn't have a certain item or thing, what could you use in place of it?  The illustrations are simple but beautiful, with a hint of color in just the right places adding to its' artistic expression.  I could see this book fit as an inspiring gift with a box of art supplies for a budding young artist or maybe even a teacher. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-8.~

Title: Sky Color
Author: Peter H. Reynolds
Pub. Date: August 2012, Candlewick
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Too Tall Houses review

Too Tall Houses

Owl and Rabbit are good friends and live in two small houses next to each other. They are perfectly happy . . . until Rabbit's garden gets in the way of Owl's view. So Owl builds his house a little taller. Only that blocks the sun from Rabbit's vegetables. So Rabbit builds his house taller. And soon it's a house-building frenzy and the two now not-so-good friends have the two tallest houses in the world!(goodreads summary)

Rabbit and Owl are happy living side-by-side and sharing the same hill with one another. Until Rabbit's garden grows so big that it blocks Owl's forest view. Of course, Owl complains and decides to build a bigger house. Rabbit then complains because Owl's new house blocks the sun for his garden.  And so, the story grows from there with each one trying to out do the other.  This was a cute story on getting along with others and what being competitive will do to a friendship. It had a warm, fall color tone to each page adding to the already gentle and eye pleasing illustrations.  There is a bit of whimsy to the topic of disagreements and finding an alternate solution that works for everyone involved. In the end, learning to work out a problem brings together the two friends and shows that friendship is really more important than having the tallest house. It opens up a great opportunity for discussion either in the classroom or home. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 3-7.~

Title: Two Tall Houses
Author: Gianna Marino
Pub. Date: September 2012, Viking Juvenille
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 40 pgs.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bear has a Story to Tell review

Bear Has a Story to Tell
It was almost winter and Bear was getting sleepy.  But first, Bear had a story to tell...

Bear found his friend Mouse, but Mouse was busy gathering seeds and didn't have time to listen to a story. Then Bear saw his friend Duck, but Duck was getting ready to fly south. What about his friend Toad? He was busy looking for a warm place to sleep. By the time Bear was through helping his friends get ready for winter, would anyone still be awake to hear his story?(goodreads summary)

Bear is so tired but before he can go to sleep for the winter, he has a story he wants to tell his friends. Unfortunately, all his animal friends are also getting ready for a long winter's nap and just can't find the time to listen.  When spring arrives, Bear's friends wake up eager for his story. But will Bear be ready to finally tell it? This was a cute and sweet story that really warms the heart on a cold fall day. It would make a wonderful bedtime story because of its' gentle text and subtle watercolor illustrations giving the feeling of sleepiness. I loved the kindness and friendship theme represented among all the animals as each one gets ready for hibernation. Even though this story was short and simple, it captures that cozy feeling of curling up with a warm blanket and settling in for a winter's night sleep. It has a turn around ending that adds a pleasant outcome for Bear. I think this is a "just right book" for ages 2-7.~

Title: Bear has a Story to Tell
Author: Phillip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Pub. Date: September 2012,  Roaring Book Press
Genre: picture book
Hardcover, 32 pgs.