Saturday, September 25, 2010

39 Clues

I have recently read the first two books of the 39 Clues series; and I must admit that I am hooked!! I did not expect to like this series because I thought I was going to be some cheesy way to sell collectible cards (similar to Pokemon). However, I was wrong. This series is about a brother and sister team, Dan(11) and Amy(14), who are on a scavenger type of hunt to find the most powerful thing in history. We don't know what that is though and neither do they. The kids just know that its part of their family's history. However, there is a problem they are not the only members of their family on this hunt. In fact, it seems that the rest of their family will do anything to make sure that Dan and Amy do not win. Even if that means setting a house on fire or blowing up a cave. The books are very interesting because they also teach the reader a part of history. So far, each book deals with the life of a famous person that is supposed to be related to the kids very distantly.

I find that these books are great for kids age 9 and up not only for the history but because they can become absorbed in trying to solve the clues as well. I want to continue this series to see what happens to the team. I look forward to eventually reading the third book. Now this series is already up to book 10 so I have some catching up to do.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thea Stilton and the Dragon's Code

This is the first book in the Thea Stilton series which is a spin off from the Geronimo Stilton series. Thea is a mouse, Geronimo's sister, and a journalist for his paper. This book is about her experience with a group of girls who will become the Thea Sisters. They all work together to try to solve the mystery of the Dragon's Code. I really love these books because of their bright colors and funny designs. This book would be great for young girls around 9 years old. The book is very empowering and shows how girls from different backgrounds can come together. I find all the books in the two series to be enjoyable and cute. The way the author uses the word mouse to change the words in the story is truly funny. These books are great to get lost in and laugh. I recommend them to anyone!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, & a Miracle

First off let me say that this book is based on a true story. This story is about Major Brian Dennis and his experience in Iraq after meeting an unlikely friend. This friend was a wild dog, which he would name Nubs because of his ears. The pictures within the book or real pictures of Major Dennis' time in Iraq with Nubs. The story tells us about a dogs journey to stay with his friend; and how this journey would eventually lead him to a home far from the war-torn country that he new. I would say that this story could be for kids as young at 9 (but that the story may be better for older children). The pictures are not at all graphic; although the story is a bit emotional. As an adult, I was cheering on Nubs and crying when setbacks in the story occurred. Without giving to much away, I must say reading how Nubs traveled 70 miles across Iraq to find Major Dennis had me so moved. The devotion of Nubs who was really a wild dog was astounding.

If you know the love of a pet or have a respect for animals this book is for you. I think this book would be great to show children how a moment can change a life. It was by chance that Major Dennis would be Nubs but it was a friendship that would carry both of them on quite a journey. Please take the time to read this book because it is to amazing a book to fully describe.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Smiles to Go

This book is by Jerry Spinelli. I have read one of his books before so I knew that he was an excellent writer. However, they way he approached this book was much different. This book was written in a diary format from the main character's point of view. I have to say that I really did love this book. The lead character, Will, is a ninth grader who is a bit of a micro-manager. He is very type A and wants everything his way; so when things don't go as planned he can't help but to dwell on them. Yes, I will admit that I related to him right away. From his passion for science to his ability to plan things down to even the most minute detail, yep I was him. I was Will; and as the events of the book unfolded, I knew just how he was going to react because it was just how I would have reacted (especially back in high school). I will say that Will's life does have a moment that will change him forever. Although I will not tell you what it is, I will say it was something that I didn't see coming. It is this moment when I really see Will open his eyes to the world outside of his head. I know what that is like. As a micro-manager, I like to live within my own mind sometimes. It is safe there and I can plan every word of a conversation that way. It isn't until you step out side of your head though that you really see the world. I think this is what happens to Will. He finally sees reality.

I have to say that Jerry Spinelli, makes his characters realistic and that if a writer can do that and they don't need a lot of flash. I think that I became more engrossed in Will then I have in all the fantasy books I have read. This was the same way for the other book I read by this author. There are moments in the book such as deciding how to ask out someone that I think everyone can relate to and look back on. This book is great for fourth graders and up. But I think adults will like it most because they will remember being in the same types of situations wondering how will I ever survive. It is a great and easy read.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Babushka's Doll

Wow it has been a while since I have posted a review. Although it may not really matter if no one is reading these anyway. However, I will continue to send my opinion out into cyberspace with this review.

This review is about a book by one of my favorite children's authors Patricia Polacco. She has brought us such books as Thank you, Mr. Falker and The Keeping Quilt. Ms. Polacco often writes about her life growing up in an immigrant family. Her family was Eastern European so many of the stories discuss their culture and traditions. For example, one of her books Rechenka's Eggs talks about Ukrainian egg painting.

Anyway, the book that I will discuss here is called Babushka's Doll. Now first I should tell you that babushka means grandmother. So this story is about a doll that a grandmother gives her granddaughter to play with. However, if i left it there I would be doing this book a disservice. Many of Ms. Polacco's books have messages, or moral lessons within the stories and this one is now different. The girl in this story, Natasha, is constantly asking and ordering her grandmother to do things. For instance, her grandmother is washing and then hanging the laundry and Natasha keeps coming tell her grandmother to push her on the swings. In a way, Natasha is very selfish in the beginning of the story. While eating lunch Natasha notices a doll in her grandmother's house that her grandmother has only every played with once. Her grandmother allows her to play with the doll and then her grandmother leaves to buy groceries. It is at this moment that the story changes. I will not give to much away but Natasha quickly learns what her grandmother was feeling.

This book is great to teach children about patience, manners, and how not to be selfish. However, although this is a picture book children under the age of 9 may become a little frightened. The illustrations are not scary in fact Ms. Polacco is the illustrator; and she draws all her books similarly. The story itself about a magical doll maybe be what is a little frightening. I love this book though; and it is one of my favorite by the author.

If you are interested in any other books by her either to read or for a class author study, the list below are my recommendations:

1. Thank you, Mr. Falker (This is great to read to kids who have problems reading. It is about how Patrica learned to read.)

2. The Lemonade Club (This is a touching book about two best friends and how they deal when one of them is diagnosed with cancer. Based on a real story)

3. Pink and Say ( A story about a white boy and black boy during the Civil War and how they learn to read together.)

4. The Butterfly (A story based on her aunt's life during World War II.)

5. My Rotten Red-Headed Brother (This is a story about Patrica and her brother growing up and how they tried to out-do one another.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Mouse Called Wolf

I have not written a review in a while because I was trying to decide which book would be a good choice. I have decided to discuss with you Dick King-Smith's book A Mouse Called Wolf. This book is ideal for kids ages 9-11. However, I think even adults would enjoy it. Although the title may sound odd to you; it is very accurate. The story is about a mouse named Wolfgang Amadeus Mouse, Wolf for short. Wolf discovers that he has the amazing ability to be able to sing the music he hears being played by the human that lives around him. Although he can not speak "human" he is able to mimic the sounds no matter how complex the piece of music is. He learns to love music and the human as well. His mother however is not so excited about the music; she cares more about the food that Wolf brings home that the human gives to him as a way of showing gratitude.

This story is a great way for children to understand differences. The human, Mrs. Honeybee, and Wolf are not able to communicate by talking instead they communicate through their love of music. Wolf understands when his friend is sick and can not play the same. In fact, at one point in the story his friend becomes injured and cannot call for help. Wolf finds her upstairs and begins to sing loudly (for a mouse), which ends up helping people to find the woman and get her to the hospital. It is a moving book; and I will admit it provided me with a new appreciation for music. It is true that different types of music can bring many types of people together, why not a human and a mouse.
I found this story compelling and yet simplistic, which allows the children to grasp the point of the book as well. It is nice to read a book that puts you in the prospective of another creature. This story is written by a third person point of view that follows Wolf. You really can see how even something as simple as climbing up stairs could be difficult for a small mouse. It was a nice change of pace.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Fluffy and Baron (A true story of friendship)

Today, I shall discuss a picture book called Fluffy and Baron. This book is written by Laura Rankin and is about a German Shepard and a duck. These two animals make unlikely friends yet they truly take care of each other. There is a moment in the book when Fluffy, the duck, decides to pal around with other ducks. This leaves Baron alone; but as we watch Baron observing Fluffy we realize that he would not be alone for long because soon Fluffy will have ducklings.

I found this story sweet and admirable. The love that is shared between these animals becomes even more amazing when you realize that it is based on the author's childhood pets. I feel that this book can show children that all types of animals can get along and live peacefully. This book would be an excellent addition to a young classroom or to a home library. The illustrations are very well drawn and many of Baron's pictures remind me of my own dog. Also, the author's note at the end of the book teaching the reading a bit about the different types of ducks in the story. This could be a great way to start a discussion on migratory birds.

I honestly love to pick up this book and think of what Fluffy and Baron must be thinking through out it. I think that any child would enjoy this book but especially those in the primary grades. Enjoy!