Thursday, December 31, 2009

Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo

“Fourteen-year-old Leven Thumps lives a wretched life in Burnt Culvert, Oklahoma. But his life is about to change and his destiny be fulfilled as he learns about a secret gateway that bridges two worlds—the real world and Foo, a place created at the beginning of time in the folds of the mind that makes it possible for mankind to dream and hope, to aspire and imagine.

But Foo is in chaos, and three transplants from that dreamworld have been sent to retrieve Leven, who alone has the power to save Foo. Enter Clover, a wise-cracking fuzzy, foot-high sidekick; Winter, a girl with a spectacular gift of her own; and Geth, the exiled but rightful ruler of Foo. Their mission: to convince Leven Thumps that he has the power to save Foo and help him reach the hidden gateway and destroy it before it is too late.

Will belief overcome doubt? Can Leven even find the gateway in time? Will fate make up the difference? Or will Sabine and his dark shadows find the gateway first, escape Foo into reality, and destroy the hope of all mankind?

Go with Leven Thumps and his unique band of travelers on their fantastic voyage to a magical place that no longer can be hidden. Welcome to Foo!”

I need to thank three people for bringing this book to my attention...First, thank you to QUINCY who has read the Leven Thumps series and Obert Skye’s book Pillage. Skye is Quincy’s favorite author, and I first heard about these books from Quincy. Secondly, thank you to SANTA who brought my daughter Tessa the first book in the Leven Thumps series, Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo. Seeing Tessa halfway through the book a day after Christmas, I asked her to tell me about it. She even read me some of her favorite passages. So thank you, TESSA, for getting me interested in the writing of Obert Skye and nudging me to read “The Beginning” which started my journey to Foo!

I enjoyed the journey of Leven Thumps (‘Lev’). It certainly reminded me of Harry Potter...Leven is akin to Harry. Both boys have a difficult family life, growing up with guardians who are certainly not kind in any way. Both boys seems to have a destiny that is well beyond their imagination. Both boys get help from a small creature...Harry has Dobby and Leven has Clover. Remember the dementors in Harry Potter? Well, there are shadows of Sabine in this adventure. And Sabine might be just as dark and evil as You-Know-Who.

Even though I thought a lot of Harry Potter while reading this adventure, I enjoyed most of my time with Leven. I enjoyed Winter, a girl who has had a rough upbringing of her own. I enjoyed the many fantastical adventures of Leven. I am not quite sure I bought the character of Geth, however. I mean, a toothpick? That can walk and talk? But I suppose that was exactly what Leven was thinking as well.

Overall, a non-stop adventure taking me back to those Harry Potter days. I do think I will continue the adventure of Leven. I would like to see what Obert Skye has in store for Lev, Winter, Clover, and Geth in Foo.

(For more information on this series, visit

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Molly McGinty and Duane Homer Leech

Today I have one book for the girls and one book for the boys…BOTH books by Gary Paulsen!

First, the GIRLS...


-Molly lost her Notebook.
-Her Notebook that Contained Everything She Needed to Live.
-Including her homework.
-Learned her wacky grandma Irene was coming to spend the day at school with her.
-Got a black eye.
-Was late to class.

And it’s only nine a.m. Could things get any worse? You bet!”

In Molly McGinty Has A Really Good Day, Molly is in seventh grade. She is super organized with a multi-pocketed three-ring binder that she carries everywhere. That binder is now lost, and Molly has to face a day at school without it. To make matters worse, her wacky grandma is coming to school with her in observance of Senior Citizen’s Day. Grandma Irene is one eccentric lady who takes charge in every situation.

Has anyone ever read a picture book called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Gary Paulsen’s book about Molly reminds me of Alexander...nothing can go right! What a terrible day Molly has at Our Lady of Mercy Middle School.

This book is a fun read with even a touch of romance thrown in to boot. I enjoyed reading the quotes at the beginning of each chapter that came from Molly’s notebook. My favorite quote, however, was from Irene: “Misery is optional.”

Will Molly survive the day? Will Molly find her notebook? If Molly has such a bad day, why is the book titled Molly McGinty Has a Really Good Day? Will Molly learn anything along the way?

Now for the BOYS…

I found this book tucked in among all the other Paulsen titles at the Worch Library. Even though this book was published in 2006, it was the first time I had ever seen it. Wow.

The Amazing Life of Birds (The Twenty-Day Puberty Journal of Duane Homer Leech) is one boy’s look at puberty. Oh my! Duane is twelve years and one week old, and he is convinced that it (puberty) is going to destroy him.

Through a short journal, Duane shares his awkward experiences with puberty—from cowlicks to clumsiness to zits. Parts of his story will make you laugh out loud while others will make you cringe.

While writing about his own changes, Duane is also observing and writing about a newborn bird in a nest outside his window. Somehow as Duane sees the bird undergoing its own growth and independence, he makes a connection to his own predicament.

(Oh, by the way...I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the ending of this book! LOUD APPLAUSE for Gary Paulsen for the conclusion!)

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

11 Birthdays

"What do you call it when every tomorrow is both tomorrow and today? And every today is both today and yesterday?"

I just finished 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass. What a quick, fun read.

"Amanda's eleventh birthday should be a happy occasion. Instead she's dressed in an itchy costume her mother picked out for her boring Hollywood-themed party while, across town, her ex-best friend, Leo, is celebrating their joint birthday with a huge bash including a hypnotist, a football star, a giant iguana, and a rock band. SO not fair!

Amanda can't wait for the day AFTER her birthday so she can stop thinking about the fight that led her and Leo to have separate parties for the first time in their lives. There's just one problem. The next day is her birthday all over again.

In this hilarious and touching adventure, Amanda must figure out how to get unstuck, in more ways than one."

I enjoyed this book. Living the same day over and over again is a plot that I have seen in a movie before, and I was interested to see how Wendy Mass would approach the same topic in this book. I believe she was successful. I kept reading to see how Amanda was going to get out of the repeating situation.

Pick this book up and give it a try!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Secret Science Alliance

The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis is one cool graphic novel! Ever since I read this one and book talked it, I have not seen it on my shelf! You guys are passing this one around like crazy!

Eleven year-old Julian Calendar feels like he never fits in at school. So when his parents announce that they are moving which means a new school, he is thrilled beyond belief. A new start! He will have a chance to start be ‘normal’ like everyone else. Soon, he befriends Greta who always wears her bicycle helmet and Ben who never seems to stop playing basketball. These three end up having a lot in common.

Julian, Greta, and Ben are all interested in science and creating their own wild inventions. They even have a hideout which at first seems like a plain wooden shed. Wait until your eyes feast on their real secret lair! The three of them form The Secret Science Alliance and begin to create their wild inventions.

But then a revered scientist steals their inventions. The Secret Science Alliance must use their smarts and science knowledge to stop the Copycat Crook.

This story is funny, inspiring, and filled with science and wacky inventions. I thoroughly enjoyed the most detailed drawings in the book. There were several that were so intricate that I spent several minutes looking and reading and finding the pertinent information located in each one.

I think this book will be one that will fall into the hands of readers of all interests. It is one that makes the reader root for the underdog…and don’t we all love an underdog!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Magician's Elephant

I just finished a magical book. It was dark, yet warm. It was sad, yet hopeful. It was The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo.

Peter Augustus Duchene lives with his guardian, an old soldier named Vilna Lutz. Peter is sent to the market for fish and bread. Instead of spending his money as he has been told, Peter spends his coin at the fortuneteller's tent.

Peter knows his question: Does his sister live? And if so, how can he find her? The fortuneteller's answer involves an elephant!

Kate DiCamillo writes this story poetically. She uses descriptive and haunting vocabulary....words such as...entrusted, excruciating, audacity, sullen, unobtrusive, perpetually, reciprocal, austere, cataclysmic.

I was drawn into the magical telling of this story. I wanted to read more to discover if Peter finds his sister. I wanted to know how the elephant would lead Peter to her. I wanted to figure out how all the other stories Kate DiCamillo was weaving into Peter's tale were connected to finding his sister.

Those of you who love magic and fantasy would enjoy this book as well as those who enjoy a story about love and family. Put this one on your TBR list and enjoy!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Stonekeeper (Amulet, Book 1)

Oh! WOW! I just finished The Stonekeeper (Amulet, Book 1), and I LOVED it! My daughter, Tessa, bought this graphic novel from the book fair at her school. I think she knew I would enjoy it, too!

The illustrations are vivid and sharp. So colorful! My eyes took in every scene in this action packed story. With this graphic novel, you will find not only incredible artwork but an equally incredible story.

This story by Kazu Kibuishi begins dramatically with Emily and Nevin losing their father in a terrible accident. Fast forward two years later...Emily, Nevin, and their mom are moving to a new town to a house that has been in the family for generations. It's a house that will need a lot of love (and cleaning!) but this family is determined to make a fresh start. While looking around the house, Emily stumbles across her great-grandfather's study where she finds a hidden amulet with special powers.

Emily needs these special powers desperately since it is soon up to her and her brother to save her mother from an awful fate. What has happened to Emily and Nevin's mother? Will they be able to save her? How will the amulet help them in this quest? Who else will they meet on their strange and dangerous adventure?

READ this book! You'll love it! And then prepare yourself for The Stonekeeper's Curse (Amulet, Book 2) that has just been released! I don't have it in the classroom yet, but you can be sure that I'll be getting it soon!

Happy Reading!

Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Legend of Spud Murphy

Meet Will and Marty Woodman. They are sentenced to spend a few 'educational' hours at the library each week during the summer.

Meet Spud Murphy. "She hates kids and she used to be a spy in the army. Tracking kids from enemy countries. She has a spud gun...a gas-powered one that takes an entire potato in the barrel. She shoots kids with it if they make a noise in the library."

That's right, folks. Spud Murphy is the librarian at Will and Marty's local library where there is nothing "but books...books just waiting to jump off the shelves" and bore them silly.

Will and Marty are sentenced to a small patch of carpet in the junior section with their pink library cards. They are warned by Spud not to go off the carpet until they leave and not to get any boyish ideas in their heads or there will be trouble.

Marty is the first to decide to test Spud and does so by rearranging books on the shelves in the wrong order. What happens to Marty will leave even the seasoned library visitor quaking in their shoes.

In a short ninety-five pages, Eoin Colfer had me laughing out loud! I found Spud Murphy to be hilarious! The story moved right along, and I had no problems finishing this entertaining book quickly.

For anyone who has ever thought reading books was boring...The Legend of Spud Murphy will keep you reading about two boys who don't want to read themselves. Perhaps you--along with Will and Marty--will find out that reading is actually quite a pleasant and not so awful thing!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

AND...A big THANK YOU to Aaron B. for telling me about this book! You're right, was SUPER!

AND...Guess what? There are two other books about Will and Marty...The Legend of Captain Crow's Teeth and The Legend of the Worst Boy in the get reading!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Into the Volcano

Wow! What a graphic novel! Don Wood tells a riveting story of two brothers, Sumo and Duffy. They are swept away on an adventure into the underground lava tubes of an erupting volcano!

I have never read a graphic novel with so much intense action shown in the illustrations. I felt like the author took me on one gigantic amusement park ride! What an artist Don Wood is!

I enjoyed the character of Duffy at the beginning of Into the Volcano. I liked his take-charge attitude. Although I didn't begin with a fond feeling about Sumo, by the end of the book I loved him! What a dynamic character! I liked how his character underwent changes. By the end of the book, it was Sumo that I liked the best!

For a super cool look at how Don Wood researched his book, go to this website:

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Rotten Life Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie

“My best friend and I used to have contests where we’d try to gross each other out. We don’t bother with that anymore. I can win every time, even when I’m not trying.” Nathan is not your ordinary ten year-old. At least, not after he gets doused with Hurt-Be-Gone.

Nathan Abercrombie lives a not-so-popular life. He is dissed by Shawna Lanchester in the cafeteria. She asks Nathan if he has heard of her popular Halloween party. (Of course he has!) Shawna smiles sweetly and drops the bomb, “You’re not invited.” The same day at school, Nathan is picked last for a team in gym class. (Of course he is!). Then Nathan loses awfully at a video game in front of his entire art class. (Of course he does!) Nathan doesn’t think the day can get any worse. He actually wishes he had sat on glue so all he’d have to do is “slip out of my pants and walk home in my underwear. That, I could handle.”

Nathan and his best friend Mookie meet up with their classmate Abigail who believes can help Nathan feel better. Her plan involves her eccentric uncle who has been working on a secret formula called Hurt-Be-Gone, “the world’s first all-natural, totally safe emotion killer. It takes only one tiny drop to wash away all your sorrows. We can even target specific hurts, or protect people from new ones.”

However, clumsy Mookie trips over his own shoelace and crashes into Abigail’s uncle who is holding the Hurt-Be-Gone. Nathan is doused with the formula and soon finds himself needing no sleep, no food, and feeling no pain.

What has happened to Nathan? Will he find a cure? If he does, will he want to go back to his normal self?

I enjoyed My Rotten Life Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie by David Lubar. My favorite character was Mookie. Mookie provides the comic relief in the book. From his off-topic ramblings to his ability to produce noxious gas, Mookie kept me chuckling. I also enjoyed Abigail’s character, smart yet dealing with a secret hurt of her own.

Both boys and girls will enjoy reading this story. It has action, humor, suspense, grossness (is that a word?) and the ever real dilemma of ‘fitting in’ among middle school students. Pick this one up! You’ll enjoy it!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T. :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

Want a GREAT historical fiction book to read?

You MUST check out Rodman Philbrick's newest book, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg. This book has it all...adventure, action, humor, gut-wrenching description of battle in the Civil War.

This book follows the story of Homer whose older brother Harold is illegally sold into the Union Army. Homer escapes the grasp of his mean guardian in order to find Harold before he is killed in battle. Along the way, Homer has adventure after adventure. And in each adventure, Homer cannot help but to stretch the truth to get him further along in his journey.

Homer and his tale reminded me some of Tom Sawyer...telling tall tales...a likeable fellow...plenty of mischief. I enjoyed Homer and his courageousness in the search for his older brother. I was cheering him on even when his situation looked hopeless.

I don't want to give too much away in this book. Just know that if you want an adventure--action--humor--and you like historical fiction, then you MUST read this book!
Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker's Daughter

"Philippa Fisher is feeling lonely. She misses her fairy godsister, Daisy. But while on vacation with her parents, she befriends a local girl named Robyn. Though she's excited to have a new friend, Philippa can't help but feel there's something strange about Robyn and her father.

Meanwhile, Daisy, who is hard at work on a new mission, misses Philippa as well, so she decides to break the rules to visit her friend. Though the girls are happy to be reunited, things soon begin to go horribly wrong with Daisy's new assignment. And when all three of the girls find themselves in danger, Philippa must work quickly to save herself and her friends from a dark and powerful magic."

Philippa Fisher and the Dream-Maker's Daughter by Liz Kessler is one that younger readers, especially girls, would enjoy. I am recommending this book to those girls who like a touch of fantasy, fairies, and friendship. All too often in sixth grade, friendships fall apart one day only to be rebuilt another day. I believe that girls who fall in and out of their friendships could very much relate to both Philippa and Robyn perhaps giving them hope in their own situations.

Let me know what you think of this one, girls!
Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

The London Eye Mystery

In The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, Salim, the cousin of Kat and Ted, is about to leave London with his mother and move to New York. Before Salim and his mother make this big move, Salim wants to ride the London Eye, the biggest Ferris Wheel in Europe. (Google “London Eye” and see it for yourself! I would NEVER go on this as I am scared to death of heights!)

Salim gets a free ticket to ride the London Eye from a total stranger. Ted and Kate, who have ridden the London Eye before, look on as Salim gets on the ride. However, when his pod comes back to the ground, he does not get off with the other riders.

Where is Salim? What happened to him? Can Kat and Ted figure out the mystery?

Be could possibly get stuck on the English words and spellings in the book...for example, instead of tennis shoes, the British say ‘trainers’. Instead of spelling esophagus, it is spelled 'oesophagus'. There are many other instances in the book. This might throw some readers as they try to understand the story.

If you like mysteries and puzzles, you might want to give this one a shot.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Dopple Ganger Chronicles The First Escape

What a unique book! I loved G.P. Taylor's The First Escape. It is the first book in The Dopple Ganger Chronicles.

This book is different because it is a mix of traditional text, illustrations, AND graphic novel! All three mesh together in this book to tell the story of two sisters. Here is the blurb from the book:

"At Isambard Dunstan's School for Wayward Children, life is trouble for fourteen year-old identical twins Sadie and Saskia Dopple and their friend, former thief Erik Morrissey Ganger. But what starts out as a perfectly normal day of food fights, rioting classmates, and (yawn) threats of expulsion goes suddenly and horribly wrong when a mysterious, wealthy woman appears at the school and adopts Saskia...without her sister.

On her own in a mansion full of dark secrets, Saskia stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens her very life. Meanwhile, desperate to find Saskia, Sadie and Erik escape from the orphanage with a gang of enemies in hot pursuit. Faced with perils beyond their imaginations, the trio must decide who to trust--and what to believe--if they are to survive long enough to find each other again."

What a cool book! The second book in the series has just been published...The Secret of Indigo Moon. Go to to view the book trailer for the second book. I can't wait to get my hands on my own copy! I will read it FAST and then put it in the classroom for YOU!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

A big THANK YOU to Maddie C. for loaning me her copy of The Secret of Indigo Moon! I read this second book of The Dopple Ganger Chronicles, and it did not disappoint! A good mystery with Saskia, Sadie, and Eric again! Pick it up!

Friday, September 11, 2009

14 Cows for America

“Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort.” This line from 14 Cows From America was the perfect end to a powerful book.

There are many stories about September 11, 2001, yet none quite like this one. Written by Carmen Agra Deedy and illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez, 14 Cows From America tells of the story of Kimeli who visits his Massai village in Kenya. It is nine months after the terrorist attack has taken place. He tells the horrors of September 11 to his tribe. They are moved. Kimeli wishes to offer his only cow to the American people, a gift sacred to the Massai; the cow is life. Kimeli asks the elders for their blessing which they give, but there is more that they wish to do.

I was moved by Kimeli’s story and the gift of the Massai. The story was elegantly told with a richness and powerfulness that matched that of the Massai. The illustrations were colorful and powerful themselves. Twice I was moved by the illustrations. The first was of the picture of Kimeli’s mother welcoming him home. The last bit of text on the page reads, “He thinks of New York then. He remembers September.” My eyes then go directly to the right and down just a touch where the New York skyline is represented behind the illustration of Kimeli’s mother and other tribe members. Perfect placement of text and illustration!

The second time I was moved by the illustrations was on the last page. The reflection of the Twin Towers in the pupil of an eye. Very powerful. Very memorable. Just like this story.

You should read this picture book to learn about the Massai whom seem very different from ourselves yet who obviously are very connected with the hearts and minds of Americans. It is a great book!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Savvy by Ingrid Law

Faaaaaaaaabuloussssssssssss! Savvy by Ingrid Law is a keeper! Can I just say, “FABULOUS!” Oh...I already said that? Well then, let me say it again...FABULOUSSSSSSSS!!!!

This is from the front book jacket…

“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, it promises to be outrageous...and positively thrilling.

But just before her big day, Poppa is in a terrible accident. Suddenly, Mib’s dreams of X-ray vision disappear like a flash of her brother’s lightening. All she wants now is a savvy that will save Poppa. In fact, Mibs is so sure she’ll get that powerful savvy that she sneaks a ride to the hospital on a rickety bus, with her siblings and the preacher’s kids in tow. But when the bus starts heading in the wrong direction only one thing is certain. After this extraordinary adventure, not a soul on board will ever be the same.”

I highly recommend this book. Don’t let the 342 pages intimidate you. The text is large, and there is not the usual amount of writing on a page so the book reads quickly.

This is Ingrid Law’s first book and she WOWs me with her writing style—the words she chooses—the sentences she writes—the tale she tells is FABULOUS! RICH!

If you go to Ingrid Law's website, you will discover that she is working on a companion novel to Savvy. At the present time, it has been titled Scumble and will be published in the fall of 2010. The main character will be a cousin of the Beaumont’s-one that we did not meet in this first book. I can’t wait!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

For the Love of Reading!


This year , we will READ! READ! READ! And it will be FUN! FUN! FUN!

You love to read? GREAT! You will love my class!

You can’t stand to read? GREAT! I can’t wait to show you what you have been missing! Give me a chance, and I promise that by the end of the year you will NOT say you can’t stand to read!

You will quickly learn about my love of reading and what I think about the wonderful world of books. I will read right along with you this year and share my successes and failures as you will share yours with me.

I truly believe there is a book on a shelf somewhere that will spark the reader inside each of you. It is my job to help you find that book. And find it, I will—WE will!

I cannot wait to start reading books together. I cannot wait to start talking about books together. I cannot wait any longer! Let the new reading year begin!

Happy Reading!
Mrs T.

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!