Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Savvy by Ingrid Law

This book had already arrived at my school library when my local indie book store gave me an ARC of it for a project I helped them with and I'm so glad they did. Students have been checking out the one at school while I've been able to keep reading my copy at home. Win-Win, yes.

The Blurb on the back says:
Mibs Beaumont is about to become a teenager. As if that prospect weren't scary enough, thirteen is when a Beaumont's savvy strikes-and with one brother who causes hurricanes and another who creates electricity, her savvy promises to be outrageous...and positively thrilling.
Right before her big birthday moment though her father's in an car accident and Mibs' birthday dreams are temporarily crushed. The very best part of this book takes place when Mibs decides to stowaway on an old pink school bus with Lester, who's been selling pink Bibles to the minister so she can get to Salina, right where Poppa is resting up.
Two of her brothers, Samson and Fish, join her on the bus as well as two friends, Will, Jr and Bobbi. Will, Jr.'s characters is sweet and helpful but it's Bobbi, whose character transforms the most. Lester and later, Lill, the mother hen-always-late waitress help this band of children get to where they need to go, together. I liked this book for the wonderful premise, the great words and the friendships that bloomed.
Here are two of my favorite quotes from the book:

"Perhaps Samson's strengthing touch was just an ordinary sort of magic, the kind of magic that exists in the honest, heartfelt concern of one person for another. Regardless of the reason, with Samson's small hand on my arm, it wasn't long before my eyes began to dry." (p. 113)
"I watched Lill gaze fondly at Lester. I could tell by the way she looked at him that she found something in the man she admired. Maybe it had been the way Lester stopped to rescue her from her broken-down car, or how he'd helped her pick her money up off the floor, or his spur-of-the-moment plunder of the pie from the diner. Lester might not have looked the part of a hero, but I suppose you never can tell right off who might have a piece of Prince Charming deep down inside." (p. 199)

These are the characters that make you want everything, just simple everything, to turn out fine!! This is an amazing first book for Ingrid Law and you can find her information here.

I'm already a few chapters into Sarah Dessen's Keeping the moon and yet I managed to head to the bookstore after school to purchase both Rumors (The Luxe #2) by Anna Godbersen and Liar by Justine Larbalestier. Tough reading choices ahead.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Here are my two teasers:

"Fish threw a glance Bobbi's way. The girl was leaning up against the side of the bus watching me like I was a mouse and she was a cat-a cat who liked playing with its food before eating." (p. 182) ~from Savvy by Ingrid Law

The Official Savvy site @ Penguin

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graf

What a radiant cover!! I ordered Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff in early August and even though, I was so taken by the cover, I let it languish on my tbr bookcase until 3 days ago. I'm sure I picked it up right when I needed to read it.


It's summer vacation and Annie fills her days with reading about infectious diseases and going through boxes of band-aids. She rides her bike with full gear on and eventually starts wearing her bike helmet almost everywhere for extra protection. Her fears are sadly real because her brother, Jared has recently died of a sudden heart complication and Annie doesn't want anything to happen to her. Her fears, while real, begin to take the joy out of life and Annie begins to understand this especially after she meets her new neighbor, Mrs. Finch! Mrs. Finch has this amazing quote that parallels grief with an umbrella-I would quote it here but to do that would reveal to much-You must read it yourself to discover it. I wish Mrs. Finch would move to my neighborhood-she could help me with so much! Baking chocolate chip cookies and playing gin rummy are good solutions for many things!! Mrs. Finch was the character that gave the book depth, for me. Annie's best friend, Rebecca and her father, Dr. Young helped as well. His word wall was a wonderful addition.

The first half of the book I was mentally begging her parents to seek grief counseling for the whole family. Most of the second half of the book I spent with tears running down my face as Annie worked on closing her umbrella. Wow! This book was far more powerful then the first few chapters led me to think. It's not often that a book makes me openly shed massive tears for several chapters yet the book isn't sad; just a beautiful look at life.

I think this book deals with grief a family might have after the death of a child in a very realistically. I wanted to shake the parents many times and say "wake up! Talk to your daughter" then I reminded myself grief is different for everyone. I finished this book in a beautiful city park in Floyd, IA where I was waiting for my 14-yr-old son. The park was filled with trees just beginning their fall transformation and it was a lovely place to read. My son had been at my mom and step-father's farm, having his first hunting experience. This has been a pt. of contention for years between my son and I-me, peaceful reader, Why would you want to kill a living creature?? I think he inherited my father's hunting genes and I have to close my own umbrella just a tiny bit to let him lead his own teen-age life. I have to remind myself it is only hunting and in a controlled, safe environment with an adult male who has great respect for the earth. Finishing the book when I did helped me work all that out so thank you Lisa Graff and Mrs. Finch for helping me right at the perfect time. The book also resurfaced my own grief about my Dad's untimely death, made me mad at him for a bit on why he wasn't there to be with Tristan during this important time in his life. All this from a chapter book-see what I mean-Wow! Now, I think I will bake some chocolate chip cookies!!
This book is perfect for 4th-6th grade.
Lisa Graff blogs here at The Longstockings spot.

Saturday, September 26, 2009


Can you imagine coming from such talented folk...three Emberley's-father, daughter and granddaughter are the authors/illustrators/songwriters of There was an old monster (2009). The song is linked with the title-click and listen!!

My peaceful girl picked this out of our library stack for reading last night and she loved the rhythm of it and wanted to read it again and again. I think it is a perfect lead in for Halloween books and kids will totally love the accompanying song! There are so many different versions of There was an old lady who swallowed a fly, (Simms Taback is number one, for me, though! There was an old monster adds its own unique quirkiness!

Enjoy-it will make you smile and snap your fingers!

I attempted several times to access Ed Emberley's website and couldn't. I was asked to download flashplayer, did it and still couldn't get to his site-?
I'm sure it is cool and I feel a little left out!
Peaceful Girl likes to match things up (are you surprised?) and she paired this book up with my copy of The Flim-Flam Fairies by the very funny song man Alan Katz!! This book tries to get kids to put other substances under their pillows instead of teeth!! Kids will love this book but I probably won't be reading it for storytime!! Click here for Alan Katz's website.
The illustrations are very, very funny-especially the last one-Click here for Michael Slack's site.
Click here to see the cookbook I have to order for my library!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sarah Dessen fans

I had to go out and buy That summer (1996) by Sarah Dessen because I heard it was a good idea to read them in order yet I was missing that first one. I finished it last night. While this is a great first book I would say Dessen quickly grew in style as the other two I've read (Someone like you and This Lullaby) both seem to have more snap and crackle to them. This one is definetely worth the read though, especially if you are a Sarah Dessen fan!

That summer is about a girl in transition. Haven is fifteen (tough already), her father leaves her mother for the local weather girl and her older sister, Ashley is planning her own wedding.
In the middle of all that unrest Haven could really use a friend except her best friend, Casey is back from 4-H camp and is too busy getting into trouble on her own. Sumner Lee always seems to be around but he's Ashley's ex-boyfriend and all Haven remembers are the good times when Sumner and Ashley were together, her parents were together and everything around was simple. Haven figures out how to keep her life back on track but not before freaking everyone out-I would guess a rite of passage in teen land! I know I freaked my parents out more than once!

My favorite paragraph from the book sums it up:

As I walked I kept seeing my father in my mind, with his hair and that smile,
proud and bursting, father-to-be. Lorna Queen with her little ears and
blond hair. A baby with my father's round face and my last name. My
father's new life was progressing as planned, one neat step at a time. And
I felt it, again, that same feeling I got whenever another change or shift in my
life was announced to me-selling the house, Ashley's tantrums, now the baby-that
need to dig in my heels and prepare myself for the next shock and its
aftermath. I was tired of hanging on, taking the torn pieces to make
something whole with them. (p. 123)

I've discovered the teenage years are much more difficult than anything my kids could have thrown at me as a toddler. I'm glad Sarah Dessen writes books about this age; I just know it's going to help me later with my own seven-year-old sweet pea!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pretty sad to get a Teaser Tuesday out so late but hey, it's been that kind of day!!

Teaser Tuesdays (Sept.22)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser for this week is from Sarah Dessen's first book, that summer (1996)

"I watched him walk towards the front of the restaurant and then out the door, onto the street. I thought about Virginia Beach and the ride in the back of the Volkswagon under the stars, so many summers ago." p. 72

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

All readers must stop and eat or cook, in order to be able to eat! Obviously, author Kate DiCamillo understands this as well-her references to soup in The Tale of Despereaux are one of the reasons I love the book so much. Saturday night I had to put down my copy of The Magician's Elephant-I'm only one chapter away from finishing-to make dinner so we could eat before going to a play. I had a recipe from my Veg. Times I knew I was making but I also had a very large eggplant staring at me. I googled a recipe and came up with Eggplant Fries! Recipe from VT-Chickpea Croquettes-and they were yummy!! Dinner was delicious and we made it to both plays on time! Right before the play I had an extra 20 minutes and I was w/out children, which left me with quiet time to read the last chapter.
It was so worth it!!!

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo (September, 2009) is a beautiful, sweeping novel for all readers and it's only 201 pages long.

It begins...

At the end of the century before last, in the market square of the city of Baltese, there stood a boy with a hat on his head and a coin in his hand. The boy's name was Peter Augustus Duchene, and the coin that he held did not belong to him but was instead the property of his guardian, an old soldier named Vilna Lutz, who had sent the boy to the market for fish and bread.

Peter, in a rash moment, decides to use the money for a fortune teller, who tells him his sister is alive and if he follows the elephant, he will find Adele. How is Peter supposed to find an elephant in Baltese? His need to locate his sister is so great he listens to his heart. Little does he know forces have been set into motion and a magician trying to do achieve something amazing utters a spell unlike any he has ever uttered and an elephant appears. Piece by piece everyone finds just what they need.

Like Desperaux, this book threads together several characters to create one finale. Peter shows us all that if you listen to your heart and your dreams, good things will follow. I love DiCamillo's style of writing and this book proves her skill once again. I really love the names her characters are given...I'm sure they just come to her! Peter's name is beautiful while Vilna Lutz just doesn't sound like someone you want to hang around. If you haven't read any of her books start at the beginning with Because of Winn-Dixie, a great book as well as a great movie-not easy to find that combination.
If you want to read synopsis of The Magician's elephant click here.
Read another great review here at Stainless Steel Droppings.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Margaret Peterson Haddix's new series

The Missing: Book 1

Found (2008)

I remember reading The Hidden by MPH, the first in her Shadow Children series years ago with my children-the ones that are now teenagers. I don't think we read the whole series(there are 7 total) but we read a lot of them and we were fascinated by the idea. This new series is just as amazingly unique. She takes a whole plane load of babies and drops them at an airport, no pilot, no friendly attendants. Fast forward 13 years and that crew of babies, adopted into families are now teenagers and are leading regular lives. Two of them, Jonah and Chip, begin to get odd letters in the mail.
Their investigation takes them to the FBI, where they find disappearing janitors as well as a list of survivors and witnesses. Are they survivors or witnesses? From this list, Chip and Katherine, Jonah's sister make phone calls trying to put any pieces together. Jonah just wants to go back to his regular life before the crazy letters began. Eventually a secret meeting at the local library (nice touch; it is a great place for information) takes place with one of the witnesses and she reveals a few more odd clues. Ahhh, such a mystery!
This book is a great mix of science fiction and I'm not a huge fan of sci-fi but time travel is pretty fascinating. I'm ready to read Sent, the second in the series, which will include a little history according to the synopsis on the back of the book.
I highly recommend everything by this author!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

My teaser
for the day is from Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix:

"And he's my brother and I'm part of this family too, and doesn't everything that affects him affect me, too? Katherine had said, sweeping her arms out in dramatic gestures, seeming to indicate a family so broad it could be the whole world.

Monday, September 14, 2009

How's your Reading Bubble?

Just read this wonderful post from Joyce @ Getting kids reading, which I found via Jen Robinson's Booklights PBS site. I love the idea of a reading bubble and know I have one that I carry with me. This post reminded me of a conversation my husband and I had about "what's it like being married to a bookish person, now bookish, blogging person?"
I posed this question to my husband on our recent road trip to St. Paul before I started reading The Luxe to him.
I have always been a reader and live by the motto that you should take a book with you wherever you go... because you never know when traffic might come to a stop, a line might stop moving etc. I read in the car every chance I get and thank my lucky stars that I'm not one of those unfortunate souls(sorry Kaylee) that get car sick while reading. In other words I love my reading bubble and do not like it to be poked.
Of course, when you are married you have to be nice to that other person. You have to listen to their stories and conversation (yes, you love that person and their stories but still!); it bursts your reading bubble frequently. Years ago when my father found out I was getting married he told Greg one of "his jobs would be to drive me places!" My Dad failed to mention that I would be reading every time we got in the car! My husband loves to converse and over time I've learned when I hear this audible sigh...it's time to put the book mark in and have a two-sided conversation. I don't think I got a straight answer to my posed question but it did open a great conversation and I did read to him, which then caused more great conversation about the book. My answer would be intellectually stimulating, of course!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Catching Fire

I read it in just a few short days and I loved it. It truly amazes me when authors are so prolific w/ new ideas. I thought Suzanne Collins' series, Gregor was fascinating. This whole created world underneath our world, accessed through a vent in a laundry room was cool and now, to have created this look into the future through The Hunger Games; well, I'm just bowled over with her creativity!

Enjoy the video and click here for Scholastic website where I found tons of cool videos featuring Suzanne Collins discussing life, books and the similarities between Gregor and Hunger Games series. What impresses me most is how real her characters become and how involved I feel. I worry when Katniss doesn't eat enough. I feel involved with Peeta, Prim, and Gale and this time getting a closer look at past games and how they affected their parents generation was interesting. A peaceful person by nature, I struggle through the actual Hunger Game event, which causes me to cheer when Katniss truly listens to Haymitch's message; who is the real enemy?? I'm excited for the next in the series but I've got a lot of other books to read in the meantime!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Big Day

It is hard to believe a whole week can go by without scanning through my blog lists or posting! This year my schedule at work is crazy hectic and when classes are in the library it is a little overwhelming with the sheer volume of students!!
More important is that last night I made 24 white cupcakes with whipped cream chocolate frosting!! The occasion for these delicious treats is my peaceful girl is turning SEVEN!! My baby is a person; a real grown-up girl; and this young girl chose to have a sleepover party to celebrate this big occasion! Think of me tonight with 8 chatty girls. We are making pizza, making tie-dye t-shirts and having a book swap (yes, no new toys coming in) all in one lovely evening! Oh, and watching Matilda, J's all-time most recent, favorite movie. I'm sure after all of that they will be sleeping like babies!!
p.s. my cupcakes did not look like that, even though I wanted them to look this stylish!
I did manage to finish Catching Fire by S. Collins-I have to write about that tomorrow, when I have an extra moment!! Oh, it was good...

Sunday, September 6, 2009


One of the best things about taking a road-trip is all the reading I can get down as my husband tools along. This trip we were with out any children riding, talking, or fighting in the backseat. I was enthralled in Anna Godbersen's The Luxe and kept stopping to exclaim about all the unusual plot twists!! I couldn't help telling him about each unique character and about the lavish balls and of course all the mixed-up love stories had to come out; so at some point, I just began to read aloud to him. It kept him awake...what can I say, it was a blast. I read all the way up and all the way back and that is how I was able to finish The Luxe in just two days, well, that and the story is absolutely riveting!! What great research Anna Godberson had to have done in order to make this story so believable and charming. I like historical fiction but have not read anything quite like this before. I loved the variety of voices the story is told in and the snippets of turn of the century advice given to begin certain chapters. It's like 19th Century People Magazine, dishing into the rich, old and new money and famous, with their secrets and pampered lives. It is so very romantic, yet not "romance-y"(if that makes sense) and wonderfully-twisted!
I just recieved Catching Fire by S. Collins from Amazon, and want to begin that but when I finish I will have to pick up the second Luxe novel, Rumors!
Quick Synopsis (find more at the great HarperTeen site or Godbersen's site.
In a world of luxury and deception, where appearance matters above everything and breaking the social code means running the risk of being ostracized forever, five teenagers lead dangerously scandalous lives. This thrilling trip to the age of innocence is anything but innocent. from HT website.
Click here for HarperTeen Luxe site.
ps. The Luxe has been on my tbr list because I read about it over at Janssen's@Everyday reading! Thank you for such a great recommendation-and she's right, the book is worth it for the cover alone. Now, if I could find a dress like that-hmmmmm-just one day I would love to wear it!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Who is Walter Anderson?

In my mailbox at school I had a large manila envelope from Random House,waiting for me the other day!! I was pretty excited to get something other than junk mail and when I opened it a beautiful book fell out. I deliver here the story line from Random House's website.

The secret world of Walter Anderson (Sept. 8, 2009)

Enter the fascinating world of reclusive nature-lover Walter Anderson — perhaps the most famous American artist you’ve never heard of.Residents along the Mississippi Gulf Coast thought Walter Anderson was odd, rowing across twelve miles of open water in a leaky skiff to reach Horn, an uninhabited island without running water or electricity. But this solitary artist didn’t much care what they thought as he spent weeks at a time on his personal paradise, sleeping under his boat, sometimes eating whatever washed ashore, sketching and painting the natural surroundings and the animals that became his friends. Here Walter created some of his most brilliant watercolors, work he kept hidden during his lifetime. In a beautifully crafted picture book biography, writer Hester Bass and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis pay homage to an uncompromising American artist.

Of course, I took it home and read it to my quirky 6-year-old daughter. We've been reading chapter books this summer with an occasional picture book thrown in so she was excited to see this something-new book. We read our chapter of Felicity of American Girl fame and I thought my little sweet pea would be to, to sleepy to read a biographical picture book, because she was looking pretty droopy.
She perked right up at the very first page, her head bobbed up and asked "is this poetry?" wow, what a compliment...I hope when I write a book someday, she might say the same thing to me!! Mind you, it is not written in rhymming words but it is lyrical. She listened all the way through Walter's story and even explored the end pages with examples of his art work. Perfect book, Lovely, really lovely illustrations from E.B. Lewis!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you to whomever-you-are- marketing genius who made the decision to send advanced copies to librarians!!! I love mine and will share it frequently!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.
Anyone can play along!

Just do the following:

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Let the book fall open to a random page.
  • Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
  • You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
  • Please avoid spoilers!

  • Here's my teaser:
    Elizabeth glanced quickly at Henry, whose arrogant face was pointing somewhere off into the leafy wilds of the park. She shifted her gaze back to Will and wished she could know what he was feeling.
    ~p. 188 Luxe by Anna Godberson

    Two on Sunday

    Sunday I finished two chapter books-it thrilled me to finish two in one day! I was a few chapters into eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff, when I received one of those great packages in the padded envelope-it held a copy of Once a witch by Carolyn MacCullough. Of course, I started witch, which then put me in-between in two books. I alternated reading each one and think it only fitting to blog about them at the same time.

    Once a witch ( Sept, 2009) is suspenseful, exciting and not creepy! I hope Carolyn MacCullough is planning a sequel; I want to know more about Tamsin and Gabriels's story!! As I described it to a friend on the phone-the premise is good because of course, who doesn't want to be a witch, I ask you?! You know, the same reason HP is so popular-ordinary kids doing magic!!!

    In this one, Tamsin Green comes from a long line of magically talented folk yet she doesn't find her "talent" at the regular age and resents that she is "normal". Tamsin attends boarding school in NYC to keep a little distance between her and her family. During summer break she meets someone who mistakes her for her talented older sister, Rowena. It is this mix-up and her resentment that fools the antagonist (Alistair) into believeing Tamsin will fold against her family. Tamsin's family is unique and believable and I wanted to be one of them!
    Once a witch kept my interest easily, the characters were wonderful and the story made sense-all important aspects for me! I especially liked Tamsin's relationship with Agatha, her roommate and Gabriel, her long-lost childhood friend.
    I received this arc from a Picnic Basket request-thank you!
    Check out the cool Once a witch website where you can find out more, take quizzes (discover which witch you most resemble-yes, I played) and research the Green family tree.
    For Carolyn MacCullough's web page click here. I found out this is her fourth book!
    Eleven (2008) by Patricia Reilly Giff is the story of Sam and his grandfather, Mack Mackenzie. Sam, who struggles with reading, begins to have dreams that do not make sense to him. He is drawn to the attic, which holds a lock box with one clipping hanging out. The clipping shows his picture and his name...with a different last name. He cannot read enough of it to make sense and he needs to get the box open. Sam makes friends with Caroline, a good reader at school, who will help him. Together they form a close connection between searching for clues to Sam's life as well as building a castle for a class project on medieval life. Sam is a builder like his grandfather, but he cannot feel comfortable until he solves the mystery of his dreams. This is a great read for 3-5th grade students.