Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lauren Child's poodle thoughts

I love Lauren Child's work. I fell in love with Charlie and Lola when my daughter started watching the series on tv. I think her collage artwork is stunning. So really, I am a huge fan so I was ultra-disappointed when peaceful girl and I settled in to read her latest, Who wants to be a poodle-I don't!! The front cover definetely drew us in but right in the first few pages we were thrown. Peaceful girl is working very hard to be a reader and it has been her practice of late to read the first few pages of our bedtime books. She had just recently read me a Charlie and Lola book and she felt confident she could read this one. Her little face fell on the very first page of print though as it is written in fancy cursive script and she said so "can't read that"! Well, we got past that as I pointed out printed sentences she could handle and we did read it together, but it was a struggle. The story line is wonderfully imaginative-really, a poodle who wants to be more daring, what a fabulous idea!! This time though her artwork goes over the top and makes it difficult to find and read the words. Peaceful girl still liked the book and for all Lauren Child's fans you will also. For an elementary library though I would rate it 3 out of 5 just because students will have difficulty reading it on their own and it won't make an easy read-aloud for teachers. More accomplished readers will find it fun and challenging.
Synopsis: Trixie Twinkle Toes lives in the lap of luxury, with every creature comfort a manicured paw away. Adored by the glamorous Mademoiselle Bruleé, the little poodle has a maid to plump her pillows and a cook to prepare her nibbles. But Trixie isn’t happy. She doesn’t like the puffing and poofing and preening. She doesn’t like being dressed in little pink ponchos. She wants to be dazzlingly dangerous and daring. She wants to step in puddles! With a witty text that scampers across the pages and hilarious mixed-media illustrations, Lauren Child offers a one-ofa-kind treat — sure to entice both spirited little readers and deeply devoted dog-lovers alike.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Picnic_Basket requests

It's perfectly normal by Robie H. Harris and Michael Emberley celebrates 15 years in print with an updated version for the 21st Century! It takes me back to my Free to be you and me w/ Marlo Thomas! I love the pictures created by Michael Emberley and the text is very easy-to-read as well as fun. This is the perfect informational text/tool for parents to share with children when that time comes to have "that" important chat. This book could make this "chat" easy!! Shared together, parts of it would be appropriate for even young children. Other parts might be better left to when they are about to experience some of those wonderful changes. Here is a quote from the beginning:
"Sometime between the ages of eight or nine and fifteen or so, kids' bodies
begin to change and grow into adult bodies. [insert cute cartoon picture
of bird and bee] Most kids wonder about and have lots of questions about what
will be happening to them as their bodies change and grow during this
time. It is perfectly normal for kids to be curious about and want to know
about their changing and growing bodies." [p. 9, It's perfectly normal]
Notice the repeated use of change and grow...and every page after demonstrates really succinctly exactly how bodies will...yes, you know it...change and grow. The bird and the bee help us understand little points along the way in a fun cartoon way while other illustrations show realistic people of all types.
Trust me, this is the bookyou will want in your hand before, during and after that "chat"! While it is not appropriate for an elementary library it is very appropriate for high school, middle school and on your shelf at home!
Michael Emberley's site is here-this illustrator does an amazing job with body parts!!:)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Teaser Tuesday-Dying to meet you

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 is my teaser:

"It is one thing to provide summer babysitting services for an abandoned
child. It is quite another to do so for a child who suffers from
hallucinations and/or is a shameless liar."
p. 55 Dying to meet you by Kate

***brand new just-out-of-the-box chapter book!!!

Monday, October 26, 2009

A little late-blooming romance!

I just finished Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray (2000) and it was charming! I picked it randomly off our public library shelf, I was looking for something light to read and this was perfect! Julie is in her sixties and alone, attending a small business seminar when she runs into her family's arch-enemy, Romeo Cacciamani and after striking up a small conversation-they go for coffee. She doesn't know why she chooses to do this after years of hearing the horrors of his family but she does. An interesting chain of events occurs as Julie and Romeo fall in love, yep, all from a cup of coffee, that's just how it happens!! I love Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and this is a sweet adaptation~I really enjoyed the characters and the story line was very believable. I loved the couple's dates at CVS and later, Julie's ex-husband, Mort throwing a pot at Romeo in the flower shop!! I will read more from this author and I found out from my friend, Tina that Ray's daughter is Ann Patchett, of Bel Canto fame! Find more information and a list of Jeanne Ray's books here.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Listening Library

Andrew Clements is a prolific writer. It seems like he puts out a new book every year and they are always winning state awards. I read Frindle years ago, loved it and recommend it and all his others to many classroom teachers as great read-alouds but I had not kept up with any of his books myself. His books are constantly checked out by students as well so I never felt like I had to work hard at recommending them. Realistic fiction is not my first choice to read and school stories are like what I live everyday so I hadn't bothered.
Last week when I was browsing quietly at the public library I stopped to look at books on CD and the one that called my name was No Talking! by Mr Clements himself. I put all three CD's into the Volvo's player before I backed out and by the time I was home I was enjoying myself. Keith Nobbs does a good job of portraying both male and female's, young and old. It's an interesting story. A fifth grade boy, Dave Packer is reading information about Ghandi for a report. Dave is intrigued by Ghandi's use of silent meditation and Dave decides to give it a try for just one day. In that first day he listens to another classmate, Lynsey, babble on and on and he yells at her (un-Ghandi-like but he is in fifth grade after all). Competitive by nature, both agree to a challenge, thinking the other will automatically lose! What follows is a look into what happens when students step out of their norm and how much learning can occur at school beyond the general subjects. The students surprise themselves!!
Highly recommended for 3rd-5th grade. I loved the references to Ghandi and thought it could lead to good discussion about him and what he stood for!!
This was very enjoyable to listen and I plan on catching up on all my A. Clements school stories by listening in my car.
Click here for Andrew Clement's website.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dialogue about 13 reason why by Jay Asher

A few weeks ago I read Jay Asher's 13 reasons why (2007). I bought the book after reading several dynamic reviews about it and when my friend V sent me money to buy a birthday book (thanks V) I chose this one. I like psychoanalyzing and 13 reasons why is one of those perfect books to scrutinize the who, what, and why of the characters. After I read the book I slipped it into a manila envelope and sent it off to V for her to read and then pass on, in the same method, to our friend A. Then we set up a wiki-space account and had a chat about the book. The wiki space was not a good communication tool but I was able to record our collective thoughts.

The synopsis: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker--his classmate and crush--who committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out how he made the list. (from Jay Asher's website)

Here are parts of our discussion on 13 reasons why:

A: Loved how it was sent to me (in keeping with the theme), loved the use of alternating characters to tell the story. -(all three of us loved the dual pt. of view and the map around town on the bus)
The fact that he (Asher) chose to inter-splice the two main characters to create the story added more depth and mystery. Sadly, I kept waiting for Hanna to be alive.

V: I liked how the book flowed - very easy to read. I was anxious for Clay - stressed out but relieved that he hadn't done anything major –I was afraid that he had unknowingly blown her off or something. Clay was open, honest and trustworthy. I guess he is the one in the story to look up to

A: I thought Clay was a little hidden himself. He lied to his mother, his friends, himself about Hannah........

V: I didn't get the sense that he lied all the time - that's why his mother trusted him and I think consciously gave him space. I don't think he had true "friends" stereotypical high school boy.

PR: I agree, I don’t think he was your typical high school boy; he seemed to walk his own path, which is what we would like for our own children. He lies only to get past this moment in his life. This is not something a teenager would just share at the dinner table. I think Clay lies because he is nervous about what the tapes might reveal even though he doesn't think he's done wrong.

Are either of you surprised that it was written by a guy??

A: You know, I have major issues with voice and if the opposite sex can pull it off; I think he did a great job.....and yes, it felt very female throughout. I bought both Clay and Hannah completely. In a very sick way, I wanted Clay to have done something. I wanted ALL of them to have done SOMETHING to her...I felt it was all her perspective of various situations.......and if she had more of a voice or more stability in her life, she could have worked many of them out.

V: You thought these things were small??

A: Yes, some of them, in my mind were very small and based on hearsay and perspective.For example, she didn't know for a FACT that the one chick was "using" her for her own popularity...she just thought she was...and the boy that lied about her first kiss.....she could have stood up to him, called him out. It seemed to be things that could be taken care of with self -power, self-belief, a stronger ego. She fell into a world that was based on hearsay...

PR: I thought a few of the things were hearsay but that is how easily reputations get trashed; and someone’s high school life can be ruined. I would have liked Hannah to have a stronger voice for her own good but high school students often don’t speak up when they should.

A: The things that happened to her made me mad; nobody deserves to be treated casually but at some point you do have to take a stand and she never did.

PR: She seemed to be looking for reasons to be let down. If she had confided with the counselor, or Clay, there could have been a different outcome. Why did Asher choose to have such non-entity parents?? I "micro-manage" my teenager. I pretty much want to know the where, why and with who at all times. It doesn’t work out that way but he knows we care, always.
A: I think it is a completely different world from our knowledge of teen world....i am frightened to think that such small things in such a fast paced world could cause a child to kill. It seems that everything is moving so quickly there is no time to process yourself.

PR: At what age will you want your children to experience this story?

A: great question.I am constantly thinking about that anytime i read YA books in general. I read all the twilight books and thought H***L NO not at 13, but i think i am clueless.I think this would be an amazing teaching tool for them. A great discussion book.......but i think the age would depend on the maturity of the kid.

V: It depends. I know 10 year-olds that could handle it and 12 year-olds that could not. Great for discussion with our kids though.
PR: I would love to be a bug on the wall while a group of teens discussed Clay and Hannah. Would this be an accurate description? Would they feel Hannah coped out or would they empathize with her? Asher, for me, did a great job of portraying the difficulties of high school.

We concluded with the hopes that my 14-year-old would be our teenage trial-he is going to read 13 reasons why and give us his thoughts. He is finishing an alternate history book and then he’ll begin. Our next long distance book conversation will be about Liar by Justine Larbalestier.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where the wild things are...[movie spoilers included but still a must read]

It has taken me several days to process watching Spike Jonze's version of Where the wild things are. I read Maurice Sendak's version to k-2nd grade students all last week, which was good for them and me. It's always good to rediscuss the theme of imagination with students. Many of my students haven't grown up with the book as I did and my own children have. I also showed them the quick Scholastic movie which follows the book exactly.

Our family merrily went off to see the movie on Friday with great anticipation!! We loved the late 70's clothes -it took me back to my childhood. The boy playing Max is adorable, lovable and wild. The opening scenes of him playing in the snow, having a snowball fight with his sister's friends all give a feel of Max's character-obviously more than the book; even as deep as the book is. We witness Max get wild and his wolf suit is perfectly impish! He fit the Max of my imagination, well, until he runs away! He runs away...which goes against everything kids learn from Sendak's book. It's about the imagination! Max takes of down the street to an empty lot with his mom chasing after him. She never catches up to him and Max makes his way to where the wild things are. The wild things are interesting characters, lovable yes, but argumentative, bossy, scared and sad. Max offers himself up as a king who can make everything right in their world. The movie is good maybe even great but it is so not what I expected. It is much darker than the book, which is fine depending on its intended audience. My 6-year-old peaceful girl turned half way through and said "I like the book better, mommy." On the other side of me was peaceful teenage boy and he was riveted, really, really enthralled! He is 14 and he got all these varied levels of community and expectations of life [i overheard him talking] as he talked later with a family friend who also saw the movie the same opening night. My husband and I were disturbed about Max's run down the street-literally running away in instead of running to his room. This sends a different message to kids-let your mom chase you down the street, come back much, much later and you will get chocolate cake and your mom will not be mad at all, only relieved.
I was very sad when I came out of The Tale of Desperaux movie because it was so far removed from the book and I love Kate DiCamillo. This one didn't make me feel that way; I liked it and would watch it again but I was unhappy the writing team strayed so far from original imagination theme. Max could have run to his room and hid out in his bunk bed fort and still had the same encounter with the wild things. And why did they need to change the names of the wild things? Why Carol instead of Barnard???
Have you seen the movie??? What did you think???

Teaser Tuesday-Liar

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 teasers:
"I know how to hunt with a knife. Grandmother's taught me how to use a slingshot and bows and arrows." p. 72 Liar by Justine Larbalestier

I'm not lying really-there were so many good lines to choose from on those two pages!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ghost stories

I've never been a fan of scary stories because I get scared easily, really! The cover of The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein (2008) intrigued me as well as the title-everyone's been at a crossroads before in their life. The inside flap says this:
Meet Zack Jennings. Average kid. He has a hard-working father.
A new stepmother. A new house. Even a new dog, Zipper.

Things are looking up for Zach.
Except there is this ghost. This really nasty ghost.

A ghost who kills

And Zach is on his list.

Wow! Just reading that creeps me out. I had to give it a try though-I had ordered it for my school library based on the reviews but I had to see if it was good scary or just too much!! I was not disappointed and I pleasantly have not had any nightmares involving Zach or his ghosts.

Zach and his dad live in NYC and they are getting ready to move out of the city away from their memories of Zach's chain-smoking mom, who seemed fairly evil in Zach's flashback memories of her. Now Zach's dad is remarrying a lively, young children's author and moving to Connecticut. Zach is already freaked out cuz' he thinks his mom is haunting him so when weird stuff starts happening in CT it just seems like normal now. The back plot of the story is this 50-year-old tragedy involving a bus load of folks, a creep in a Thunderbird and a bitter old woman, who thinks she owns the town. This tale is intricatilly-woven and a joy to read-even the haunting parts just because you want Zach to make it through all this. He has a happy life waiting for him. As I poked around Chris Grabenstein's home page I noticed a sequel is out, The Hanging Hill. I'm going to put it on my Christmas list!! Click here for more Chris Grabenstein information.
P.S. Another great thing about this book is there is a friendly librarian character (Mrs. Emerson) who helps solve the mystery! Grabenstein adds many happy references to how helpful librarians, libraries are to everyone like this one:
"What do you know about the greyhound bus accident of June 21, 1958?" (asks Judy)
"I know how to find out more. After all, dear, I am a librarian." (says Mrs. Emerson)
p. 164
Ever so helpful, those librarians!!
Be Peaceful-Michelle

Tuesday, October 13, 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:
* 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 teasers:
He fully expected the
giant oak tree to start swinging its branches and tossing acorns at him. Maybe it would tear down the power lines and electrocute him.

p. 57 from The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Historical Fiction at its best

I finished Rumors, the second Luxe novel by Anna Godbersen! If possible, it was even more intriguing than the first one. I don't want to rehash the book because it's been out there for awhile but here is the tag line on the back of the book:

True love. False friends. Scandelous gossip. Welcome back to Manhattan. 1899.

You gotta love that dress as well although if I had a choice I would definetely pick the dress from book one! Penelope I am not!!
Since Elizabeth is "dead" the story focuses attention on Diana, who with her spunk and playful attitude is my favorite character. I loved crossing back to Elizabeth and Will's story and hearing about the California frontier. I prefer a good character-driven story but this one really has it all as the characters just feed into this incredible plot line.
I had to put the book down several times to scream, for joy and dismay.
This time I did not get to read it out loud to my husband (click here for my post about The Luxe/reading to my husband) but I did have to catch him up several times, read certain sections to him and he was seriously stunned when I finished reading it one night while he was away! Anna Godbersen put in an incredible amount of time researching this era, I think and I enjoying understanding more about this time period. Thanks again to Janssen for reviewing this series.
If you have not read this series and you enjoy historical fiction, please go out and buy a copy-the paperbacks are a very reasonable $9.99-you will not be disappointed.

Harper Teen website click here.

Other highlights of the week.
Well, of course the Nobel Peace Prize-joy mixed w/ fear.
Lost my copy of Keeping the moon by Sarah Dessen-read it one day and the next it was poof!!
I have a new phone in my life-the Propel in lime green.
I am pretty excited even though I am not material type:)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

2nd Picnic Basket holds multicultural treasure

Grandfather's Story Cloth written by Linda Gerdner and Sarah Langford with illustrations by Stuart Longhridge is a very well-written tale of family bonds that hold us together no matter our cultural.

Grandfather lives with Chershong and his family in the United States. Chershong hurries home one day to share his 3rd grade art project with him only to find Grandfather out in the yard, gathering wood to build a fire not remembering the gas stove they use to cook. Chershong's frustration grows and his mother shares Grandfather's story cloth. Chershong is amazed to see the life his grandfather had in Laos all depicted in stitched pictures. He and Grandfather pour over the cloth as his grandfather tells stories from his past.

The story is very well-developed and easy for readers to understand that Grandfather is suffering from Alzheimer's disease and cannot remember where he is. Sometimes books like this tend to be so didactic they become textbook-like but this one is very a very enjoyable read. I can image classrooms creating story cloths of their own to connect with Grandfather. The illustrations, while dark, set a simple tone for the text and the end papers show traditional Hmong artwork. Highly Recommended.

A Picnic-Basket selection from Shen's Books.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Picnic Basket delivers

It is exciting when I click on the Picnic Basket site in time to be on what ever their latest offerings are! Recently I received Elizabeth Bluemle's How do you wokka-wokka? with illustrations by Randy Cecil. I did one quick read-through right after I opened the package and I have to admit I was not that excited. It begins like this: "Some days you wake up and you just gotta wokka-" and it continues through with adorable children asking how do you wokka-wokka. It was a bit too nonsensical for me but then I brought it home for story time and peaceful girl loved it!! She wokka-wokka'd all over her bed, her room and me with obvious delight!!! Maybe not great for bedtime but she loved it and kept wanting to go back to it when we moved on to her chapter book reading choice. With her as my guide I got it and it made me laugh. Looking through her joyful eyes at such fun, silly wordplay made the book come alive. I would highly recommend this choice for elementary students and I look forward to reading it to my 4 kindergarten classes just to see their own ideas of "how to wokka-wokka"!!! I'm sure my beautiful kinders will have lots of hip-shaking movements for wokka-wokka'ing!!!

***The author information at the back of the book says Elizabeth Bluemle owns The Flying Pig bookstore in Vermont, with lots of great information on their site. I dream of owning a little book shop myself!!!

Tuesday, October 6, 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:

* 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 teasers:
Henry crossed his legs and shifted in the wooden rocker that was positioned so as to casually access a view into the long main room of the Schoonmaker greenhouse. He was wearing trousers with whisper-thin pinstripes and a cream shirt fastened at the wrist with cuff links that bore his initials. (p. 250)
~from Rumors by Anna Godbersen