Tuesday, December 27, 2011

When Life Gives You O.J. / Hound Dog True

No school, you say? Looking to read a couple great books while you are on Christmas vacation? Do not fret! Run to your local library and check out these two fun reads...


When Life Gives You O.J. by Erica S. Perl

"The whole mess started with a note:

KID,

SEE ME IMMEDIATELY WHEN YOU GET THIS.
DO NOT SPEAK OF THIS TO ANYONE, NOT EVEN YOUR PARENTS OR YOUR BROTHER.

ACE
P.S. I HOPE YOU ARE READY FOR THIS."

Ten year-old Zelly Fried finds a note from her grandfather on her nightstand. It's the start of a master plan...convincing Zelly's parents that she is ready and responsible to take care of her own dog. That's all Zelly wants: a dog. Unfortunately, her parents are not in agreement.

Ace, Zelly's grandfather, has the answer: a 'dog' made out of an old orange juice jug. Zelly must demonstrate her ability to take care of a dog by walking her 'dog', feeding her 'dog', and
even cleaning up after her 'dog'.

Will Zelly agree with this half-baked plan? How long will Zelly torture herself with the embarrassment of a tag-along plastic orange juice jug?

A fun read for middle school students, Erica S. Perl has convinced me that
love sometimes is "the power to drive you crazy." Click HERE to watch the book trailer. Click HERE to visit Erica's website.


Hound Dog True by Linda Urban

"Mattie Breen has just one week to convince Uncle Potluck to take her on as his custodial apprentice at Mitchell P. Anderson Elementary School. One week until school starts and she has to be the new girl again. But if she can be Uncle Potluck’s apprentice, she’ll have important work to do during lunch and recess. Work that will keep her safely away from the other fifth graders. But when her custodial wisdom goes all wrong, Mattie’s plan comes crashing down. And only then does she begin to see how one small, brave act can lead to a friend who is hound dog true."

For a reader who can identify and sympathize with a shy protagonist, this is the story for you. Mattie is painfully shy. What a remarkable story Linda Urban has created to give readers a glimpse into a character like Mattie.

For an amazing interview of the author by fellow author Kate Messner, click HERE. For a visit to the author's website, click HERE.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Novels in Verse - Hidden and May B.


I LOVE LOVE LOVE Helen Frost's newest novel in verse, Hidden. So much has already been written about this beautiful book. Suffice it to say, I have one copy in the classroom and four (that's right....four!) copies of this book from our town's library loan system making their way into readers' hands and hearts.

"When Wren Abbott and Darra Monson are eight years old, Darra's father steals a minivan. He doesn't know that Wren is hiding in the back. The hours and days that follow change the lives of both girls. Darra is left with a question that only Wren can answer. Wren has questions, too.

"Years later, in a chance encounter at camp, the girls face each other for the first time. They can finally learn the truth—that is, if they’re willing to reveal to each other the stories that they’ve hidden for so long. Told from alternating viewpoints, this novel-in-poems reveals the complexities of memory and the strength of a friendship that can overcome pain."

Please visit Anita Silvey's Children's Book-a-Day Almanac by clicking HERE. Ms. Silvey writes eloquently about Hidden, and I agree completely when she writes, "After reading the book in one gulp, both adults and children will want to go back to this complex book and learn more about the characters."


Put this next book on your reading radar! Not being released until January 2012, May B. by Caroline Starr Rose is an engaging historical novel in verse that will leave you wanting to reread your favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder book!

Mavis Elizabeth Betterly...May Betts...May B is sent to help out on a neighbor's homestead. She begrudgingly leaves her ma and pa and brother Hiram to go to Mr. Oblinger's soddy to be a companion for his new wife who is a novice to the hardships of Frontier life. "It's just till Christmas, May" her pa promises.

However, between the water coming through the roof, snakes getting inside, the grime of the dirt floor, and the loneliness of the Frontier, the new Mrs. Oblinger cannot bear one more minute. With the guise of a trip on the prairie to see all that she can see, Mrs. Oblinger rides off and does not come back. Mr. Oblinger is worried enough to go in search of his new wife, if only to make sure she finds her way. May B is left to tend the house.

"Then the unthinkable happens: May is abandoned. Trapped in a tiny snow-covered sod house, isolated from family and neighbors, May must prepare for the oncoming winter. While fighting to survive, May's memories of her struggles with reading at school come back to haunt her." (from Amazon)

Will May B. find her way home again?

Maybe May B. can make it.
Maybe May B. can't.

This is a book I will recommend to my sixth and seventh grade readers. It is a historical fiction read that does not intimidate. May B. is a spunky, determined, and strong-willed twelve year-old. She will surely be remembered by all who read her adventure.

Click HERE to watch the book trailer. Click HERE to watch the author explain how sod houses were made during the pioneer days.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!
P.P.S. Thank you, Worch Library, for the review copy! BEST librarians putting books in the hands of kids!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Sidekicks


Hello, little bloggity-blog! Nice to see you! And nice to see you, dear readers! It has been a busy back-to-school time. I have missed posting great books. So let's get the action started!

ACTION! SUPERHERO ACTION!

Dan Santat brings his new graphic novel, Sidekicks, to a Scholastic book order near you. Located in the September issue of Scholastic Arrow magazine, Sidekicks is a book I have already booktalked to my sixth graders.

The vivid illustrations packed with action and excitement are so colorful that readers will be drawn to this graphic novel. Watch the book trailer HERE and you, too, will want to pick up a copy of this book without even hearing the plot!

"Captain Amazing, superhero and savior of Metro City, is getting old. He's out all hours battling arch-villains, catching thieves, and helping little old ladies cross the street. He doesn't even have time for his house full of pets. He needs - a SIDEKICK!

Captain Amazing's four pets agree. But each one of them thinks HE should get the sidekick spot - and a chance for one-on-one time with the Captain. Get ready for sibling rivalry royale as pets with superpowers duke it out for the one thing they all want - a super family."
Do I really need to say more? Calling all fans of the Amulet series! While you are impatiently waiting for Amulet 5, take Sidekicks for a spin. I promise a nonstop, rip-roaring, crime-fighting adventure that will activate the SUPERHERO in you!

Click HERE to visit the book's webpage. You can learn all about Fluffy, Shifty, Manny, and Rosco as well as download the 275 page PDF of The Art of Sidekicks. Wow!

Welcome back to school!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Small as an Elephant


Wow.

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson was the perfect book to break the Summer Reading Slump I have been in the past couple weeks. After reading some great books, I've been on the hunt for something different, something that would break the Summer Doldrums of Reading. I certainly found it in this gentle giant of a book.

"Ever since Jack can remember, his mom has been unpredictable, sometimes loving and fun, other times caught in a whirlwind of energy and 'spinning' wildly until it's over. But Jack never thought his mom would take off during the night and leave him at a campground in Acadia National Park, with no way to reach her and barely enough money for food. Any other kid would report his mom gone, but Jack knows by now that he needs to figure things out for himself - starting with how to get from the backwoods of Maine to his home in Boston before Social Services catches on. With nothing but a small toy elephant to keep him company, Jack begins the long journey south, a journey that will test his wits and his loyalties - and his trust that he may be part of a larger herd after all."

This was a sit-down-and-read-the-whole-book-at-one-time kind of book. I immediately felt my heart go out to Jack and wanted to continue with him on his journey. I almost felt as if everything would turn out fine for Jack if only I stayed with him on his way.

I will definitely booktalk Small as an Elephant to my sixth graders in the fall. This story holds appeal for both boys and girls. A book filled with nonstop adventure, it is one that will grip readers from the start and leave them breathless as Jack races toward an ending as remarkable as his journey itself.

View the author's website HERE. Watch a book trailer HERE.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wonderstruck


I am...WONDERSTRUCK. and I know my students will be as well when they put their hands on this masterpiece.

Thanks to a wonderful librarian at Worch Library, I was able to read an ARC of Brian Selznick's new book due out September 13, 2011. In a letter included with the book, Selznick writes, "Over the course of nearly three years, Wonderstruck evolved into a book that tells two separate stories, one in words, which takes place in 1977, and the other in pictures, which takes place fifty years earlier in 1927. The two stories weave back and forth and ultimately come together. Each story echoes and informs the other one; so in essence, you will find yourself reading three books--the one with words, the one with pictures, and the one created by their intersection."

Indeed, while reading this book, I was enthralled with Ben's story (1977) as well as Rose's story (1927). Selzinck did a superb job creating each one of these tales while masterfully weaving them both together.

This will be one book in the fall that I will not have to push my sixth graders to read. Many a student has been lured into reading by Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret (including my own daughter--see below). I have always pulled The Boy of a Thousand Faces and The Houdini Box for those students who enjoyed Selznick. I will now have another go-to book in Wonderstruck.

With over one hundred more drawings than The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck is indeed the kind of book that after reading, you want to go right back to the beginning and read it again.



Older readers will want to read the Acknowledgments at the end of the book as Selznick offers insight into the writing of the book. In this section, he gives me reason to read Wonderstruck again AFTER reading From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Selznick says, "Of course, any story about kids who run away to a museum owes a debt of gratitude to E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed-up Files of Basil E. Frankweiler. In order to pay back that debt, Wonderstruck is filled with references to Konigsburg and her book. How many can you spot?"

Visit the Wonderstruck website HERE.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

P.P.S. I credit Brian Selznick and Hugo Cabret for turning my daughter into a reader. It was Hugo that turned her on to books and what they had to offer. She quickly grabbed up Wonderstruck and devoured it! Here is what she had to say...

"I decided to read Wonderstruck because I read The Invention of Hugo Cabret when it came out and LOVED it. When I heard that Brian Selznick had a new book coming out with the same format as Hugo Cabret, I wanted to read it and have the book that second!

"Brian Selznick does it again! His new book Wonderstruck is two stories in one. One in the words, and then one in the pictures. But there is also a third story within the words and pictures. When I was reading it, it was like a silent film on paper. My favorite part was when the two stories turned into one. I will be recommending it to readers who liked Hugo Cabret and who like other graphic novels." (Thanks, Taylor!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous


"WARNING:

If You Don't Have the Guts for Gore, Do Not Read This Book"


King Tut...Julius Caesar...Cleopatra...Christopher Columbus...Henry VII...Elizabeth I...Pocahontas...Galileo Galilei...Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart...Marie Antoinette...George Washington...Napoleon Bonaparte...Ludwig Van Beethoven...Edgar Allen Poe...Charles Dickens...James A. Garfield...Charles Darwin...Marie Curie...Albert Einstein...

You're familiar with the lives of these people, right? But do you know anything about their deaths? Did you know it is believed that Henry VII's remains exploded within his coffin while lying in state? Did you know doctors "treated" George Washington by draining almost eighty ounces of blood before he finally kicked the bucket? Did you know right before Beethoven wrote his final notes, doctors drilled a hole in his stomach without any pain medication?

"Even though everybody in this book has been dead a long time, reading about their last dying days will make your toes curl. But these stories will also fascinate you and make you realize how lucky you are to live in a world with painkillers and X-rays and soap and 911."

"There are nice things to say about everybody, but this book is full of bad news. There are funny crying parts and disgusting stupid parts and hideous cool parts, but it's pretty much one train wreck after another. And who can tear their eyes away from a train wreck?"

Readers will not be able to tear their eyes away from How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous. It is a fascinating look at the lives and deaths of some very famous figures in history. But this history lesson will have readers glued to the page with the awful descriptions of the unfortunate circumstances of their deaths.

A nonfiction read with mega-pop, I know this will be a book popular with my middle grade students. Written with a kid-friendly voice, How They Croaked will be a book that will fly off my shelves in the upcoming school year.

Click HERE to visit NPR's website and a review of the book with an excerpt about Beethoven.

Happy (and Gross) Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Friday, June 24, 2011

I, Emma Freke


"Let's say you were the hands on a clock with the least popular time being one o'clock all the way up to the most popular time being twelve o'clock. What time would you be?"

Emma has a hard time answering this question posed to her by the school psychologist. But...

"There are five things Emma Freke does know,
1. Her mother didn't bother to say her name out loud before she signed the birth certificate.
2. That might not be such a big problem if she weren't almost six feet tall at age 12,
3. And if her mother would take a break from being a New Age weirdo and give her a straight answer about who her father is,
4. And if she didn't find it impossible to talk to anyone her own age.
5. There has to be a place somewhere where she fits in...doesn't there?"


When Emma gets a chance to attend a family reunion with her dad's side of the family she has never met, she wonders if she'll finally be accepted for who she is. Will Emma ever feel comfortable in her own skin? Or will Emma always be the "Freke" she thinks she is?

Middle school girls will enjoy reading Elizabeth Atkinson's newest book, I Emma Freke. Everyone has felt alone at one point or another, like they don't belong. Emma, unfortunately, feels like that every single day.

If you are a middle grade girl, I know you will connect with Emma. She is believable. She is honest. She is a "Freke". But honestly, a "Freke" may not be as bad as you think it is.

Visit Elizabeth Atkinson's website HERE.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading


Chapter 1

"If you're reading this book, you don't like reading.

In fact, you do whatever you can to avoid reading, and the fact that you're holding a book in your hand right now is kind of shocking.

I know exactly how you feel; I'm one of you.

Just remember: you are not alone. We'll get through this together."

In Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading, Tommy Greenwald creates a character who is very honest with readers. Charlie Joe tells us that this book serves two purposes: "One, it will show people how to get out of reading. And two, on those unfortunate occasions that you are not able to get out of reading and are forced to read a book, it will be a nice easy book to read."

I already have a list of students in mind for this book! What developing or dormant reader wouldn't be thrilled with reading a book about how to get out of reading?

Charlie Joe has lots of tips on how to avoid reading and make the process less painful. For example, readers could try Tip #1: IF YOU HAVE TO READ A BOOK, MAKE SURE IT HAS SHORT CHAPTERS. Or perhaps readers could try Tip #11: BOOKS THAT ARE DIVIDED INTO PARTS SHOULD BE AVOIDED AT ALL COSTS. If these tips don't work, may I suggest Tip #18: IF YOU HAVE TO READ, READ ABOUT GIRLS. IT HELPS YOU UNDERSTAND THEM BETTER.

Of course, while turning the pages and taking notes on how to avoid reading, the person holding this book actually gets sucked into Charlie Joe's problems--school and girls--and thus, into a pretty great story!

As a person who loves books, chocolate, and Bon Jovi (inside book-joke!), I was loving this read for the simple joy that this will be one of the first books-I-read-this-summer that I will booktalk next school year! My sixth graders won't be able to resist it!

In a book that reminded me of Gary Paulsen's Liar, Liar, Tommy Greenwald has hit a sweet spot for middle grade boys (and girls, too!). Due to be released July 5, make sure you pick this book up for the non-reader in your life! They may actually thank you!

Click HERE to watch the book trailer! Funny!

Click HERE to view the author's website.

FUN FACT: The main character is actually named after the author's three sons...Charlie, Jack, and Joe. Get it? Tommy Greenwald says that he struggled to get his boys to read. He decided to write the perfect book for them, a book about not reading!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!
P.P.S. ARC provided by the fantastic Worch Library. Thank you!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Juniper Berry


"Sometimes I feel like the whole world knows something I don't. I just want to belong. Somewhere."

It is a primal need for all of us...to belong. To feel wanted. To feel needed. To be accepted for who we are. For me. For you. For Juniper Berry, too.

Juniper Berry is an eleven year-old girl who feels trapped living in her mansion with her famous film star parents. To make matters worse, her mom and dad are changing before her eyes. They are no longer interested in Juniper; they are more interested in their own careers. They have lost the spark in their eyes and seem to be no more than controlled mannequins, although controlled by who or what Juniper does not know.
Along with her new friend Giles, whose own parents have also changed for the worse, Juniper sets off to discover the true reason behind their parents' detachment. Is there an evil lurking somewhere nearby? Will Juniper and Giles be tempted to do something unspeakable in order to feel wanted...to feel needed...to be accepted?

As the author states in his book, "There will always be temptation, wherever we go in life, with whatever we do. There will always be an easier way out."

Will Juniper and Giles choose the easy way out? And if they do, what will become of them?

Juniper Berry was a wonderful read! My eleven year-old daughter has read the book THREE times in the few weeks I have had the book. That feat alone is a true testament to the intrigue of M.P. Kozlowsky's story.

A bit reminiscent of Coraline, this "modern-day fairy tale of terror and temptation" is one that middle grade readers will be asking for over and over again.

To visit the author's website, click HERE.

Watch the Juniper Berry trailer HERE.

*Thank you to Susan Dee and Walden Pond Press for offering a giveaway for Juniper Berry. Visit Susan's wonderful blog HERE.

(And for even more thrilling reading, simply do your own Internet search for Juniper Berry and M.P. Kozlowsky. He has done some fabulous interviews at various blogs. I learned, for example, that we share book love for Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. You'll find some interesting insights behind his writing and first book. ENJOY!)

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Boy at the End of the World

“Fisher is the last boy on earth--and things are not looking good for the human race. Only Fisher made it out alive after the carefully crafted survival bunker where Fisher and dozens of other humans had been sleeping was destroyed.

Luckily, Fisher is not totally alone. He meets a broken robot he names Click, whose programmed purpose--to help Fisher "continue existing"--makes it act an awful lot like an overprotective parent. Together, Fisher and Click uncover evidence that there may be a second survival bunker far to the west.”

In The Boy at the End of the World, Fisher and Click depart on an adventure loaded with encounters of menacing rats, monstrous parrots, flesh-eating piranha-crocs, and gadgets with missile launching capabilities. Readers, take a breath because you will also encounter a giant electric eel, the Intelligence (Hello!), a spiked seedpod, and weaponized prairie dogs!

Add a juvenile mammoth named Protein into the mix, and you have a story that is a read-without-stopping romp! Greg van Eekhout has written a story that middle grade readers will not want to put down.

I enjoyed the post-apocalyptic plot and the quirky characters. I enjoyed the swing of emotions in the story—from wonder and curiosity to suspenseful scenes and from action-packed fight sequences to warm-n-cozy humorous moments.

While accomplishing all this for the reader, the author does something else quite astonishing. He makes a plea for the world we live in today. “You humans dig more than you can ever put back. You burn anything that is burnable. You is destroying forests, is covering world with concrete and plastic, is changing weather.”

Indeed, Greg van Eekhout shows readers a future world that is not one we wish for. It is a lesson to heed.

Visit the author's website HERE. You can read chapter one of this thrilling book right HERE!

Don't miss this fantastic read coming to a bookstore near you on June 21.

(Thank you, Greg van Eekhout and Sarah Prineas for this ARC. It has already been read and enjoyed by several sixth graders!)

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka


OMGoodness!

LOL!

ROFL!

Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories About Growing Up Scieszka is hysterical! A must read if you like funny stories!

Jon Scieszka grew up with five brothers: Jim, Tom, Gregg, Brian, and Jeff. I can’t imagine what their household must have been like. Wait!! Yes, I can! Jon writes all about his childhood and growing up with five brothers in this collection.

Be sure to read:

"Roommates” – Where older brother Jim tries to sell Jon’s own shirt to him.

"Brother-Sitting” – Where the ‘Bad Boys’ Home’ is called.

"Car Trip” – Where readers will have a ‘puking’ good time!

"What’s So Funny, Mr. Scieszka” – Where Jon chooses his path.


“Cooking” - Where you will read the best first line: “I learned how to cook because I like to stir oatmeal more than I like to pick up dog poop.”

I also enjoyed “Random Reading” where I made a connection to Golden Book Encyclopedias…”Lesson From Dad” where there is a deeper meaning behind the story…and “Jon’s Side of the Mountain” where kids may realize that they need to get outdoors again instead of sitting in front of a computer or TV all day.


I will be sure to share this book with readers at the beginning of each school year. What a wonderful collection of stories-memoirs-for students.

Click HERE to visit Jon's website. Click HERE to visit Guys Read, a web-based literacy program for boys.

So…”Stop breathing my air!” and go check this one out from your library. It is worth your time to read.


Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Don't Touch That Toad & Other Strange Things Adults Tell You


"I'm sure you've heard a lot of weird things over time from your parents, your grandparents, or even your teachers. You'll probably find some of those sayings here within these pages. Some of the expressions will thrill you, some will make you think, others will just gross you out, but what you'll find really interesting is where and how these crazy expressions got started as well as how they've been passed along from generation to generation."

"Don't Touch That Toad & Other Strange Things Adults Can Tell You gives it to you straight. Find out if lightning can strike the same place twice, if eating fried foods can cause acne, if an elephant never forgets... Well, what are you waiting for? Get reading!"

The book cover and introduction just about says it all. This 96 page book is a treat for young inquisitive readers. It is divided into four sections: Healthy Habits, Weird Science, Food Fallacies, and Animal Tales. Catherine Rondina gives readers an adult saying such as "Cracking your knuckles can cause arthritis." The author then provides readers with an answer of "True", "False", or "You Decide" based on the scientific evidence that follows. Comical illustrations by Kevin Sylvester can be found on nearly every page.


I was eager to find out about the following sayings:

*Don't eat raw cookie dough, or you'll get worms.
*Don't swallow bubble gum because it takes your body seven years to digest. (Does it really?)
*Don't sit too close to the TV, or you'll ruin your eyes. (My husband used this line just today!)
*A chicken can live without its head. (Gross!)
*A dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's.

And my favorite:


*Eating Pop Rocks candy and drinking a soda pop at the same time will make your stomach explode. (I've been waiting for a long time for someone to explain this one to me!)

Pick this book up! You'll have it devoured in no time!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Junonia

If you have a ten-year-old to shop for, a perfect gift may be Junonia by Kevin Henkes.

This gem tells the story of Alice who is turning ten years old while vacationing in Florida. Every year that Alice and her family visit Scallop, everything is the same. Alice looks forward to seeing the same friends, playing on the same beach, and looking for the elusive junonia shell.

But this year, one friend is snowed in and can't come. Aunt Kate (not Alice's 'real' aunt) is bringing her boyfriend and his daughter, Mallory. Mallory also brings someone new, her doll Munchkey.

Alice is determined to have the best birthday ever even if things have changed. After all, Alice is undergoing the biggest change herself...turning ten! Double digits!

Alice experiences a wide range of emotions in the book--from happiness and elation about her vacation and upcoming birthday--to hatred and jealousy of the newcomers to the beach--to resentment--to compassion. Readers will watch Alice undergo these emotions yet champion through each one of them with determination and gumption in a way only a ten-year-old can.

Be sure to look for Junonia on shelves May 24 , 2011.

Watch Kevin talk about Junonia HERE.

Kevin Henkes has written numerous books for middle grade readers including my favorites: Sun and Spoon, Protecting Marie, and Words of Stone. He has also written numerous picture books for younger readers. Check out my four-year-old daughter's favorites: Kitten's First Full Moon, A Good Day, and his newest Little White Rabbit.

Click HERE to visit his website.

Happy Reading!

Mrs. T :)


P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Liar, Liar


"If you ask me, people who say honesty is the best policy are just terrible liars."

"Kevin has a big talent. Some might call it compulsive lying. He calls it common sense. Kev doesn't mean to cause trouble by lying all the time; he's just trying to make everything easier for everyone (and himself). And, of course, a few harmless, um, falsehoods are crucial to his plan to convince Tina that he's the perfect boyfriend for her."

In Gary Paulsen's new book, Kevin is a fourteen-year-old who is determined to become the boyfriend of Katrina Marina Zabinski (kah-TREE-nah mah-REE-nah zah-BIN-skee). Even her name sounds like music to Kevin's ears. Kevin devotes most of one week spinning lie after lie in order to move closer to Kevin-meets-Tina status.

However, as the week continues, things begin to unravel both at school and at home. Kevin's lies eventually get the better of him; Kevin needs to make amends and make them fast!

Can Kevin apologize to everyone harmed by his lies? Will everyone accept his apologies? Will Kevin learn any life lessons along the way?

In Liar, Liar, Gary Paulsen has written a book reminiscent of The Amazing Life of Birds (The Twenty-Day Puberty Journal of Duane Homer Leach). See my review HERE. Both books are full of middle grade boy humor. Really. They. Are. Perfect for mature sixth graders and older middle school readers.

If Liar, Liar meets the bill, make sure to check out the companion book coming out in July called Flat Broke. Kevin is "back for another round of mayhem and misunderstandings in this financial comedy of errors."

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)


P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!


Monday, April 18, 2011

Leepike Ridge


I finished our latest read aloud today, Leepike Ridge, by N.D. Wilson. And it was once again...a smashing success! It was not the first time I have read this adventure to sixth graders, and it certainly won't be my last!

If you are looking for a book to hook a reader with adventure, survival, and danger...oh my! This is the book!

“In the history of the world there have been lots of onces and lots of times, and every time has had a once upon it.”

So begins Tom's story...

Tom is an eleven-year-old boy wandering the river's edge, digging up leeches, and keeping his mother happy by being a generally good kid. Tom and his mother live in a house chained to the rock on top of Leepike Ridge.

Deliverymen bring a new refrigerator for the house, and Tom's mother leaves the cardboard box and a large foam piece outside for Tom. Being 'too old' to play in refrigerator boxes, Tom kicks the box and foam down into the valley. It is later that night that Tom decides he must go after the foam and get rid of it.

Tom ends up on the foam rafting down the river. The night is serene. Tom falls asleep. When he awakens, he finds himself deeper down the river and deeper in trouble. The current of the water tips him off the raft and Tom collides with a rock. The force of the water pulls him under the lip of the rock face, under the water and under the ridge!

Tom is in a fight for his life before he ends up marooned on a gravel beach underneath Leepike Ridge. He is deep in an underground cave system with no light, no food, and no escape route. He finds that he shares his beach with a dead man which only makes his situation seem more dismal.

Will Tom find his way out of the caves? What secrets lie below the surface? Many dangers lie in wait for Tom including villainous treasure hunters!

N.D. Wilson writes a hang-on-to-the-edge-of-your-chair adventure that contains plot twists and turns which will leave the reader screaming for a MOVIE! (My students always ask me if a movie will be made from this book!)

There is much more to Leepike Ridge that readers will have to learn for themselves. There is a terrific ending, too, which (for me) is the best part of the whole story!

N.D. Wilson is the author of 100 Cupboards, Dandelion Fire, and The Chestnut King, a fabulous fantasy trilogy. Click HERE to go to his website. Be sure to watch out for his newest series, The Dragon's Tooth, to hit shelves in August 2011.

Happy Reading!

Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie


"Is there a story here?" That's the question Julie Sternberg asked herself as she and her husband drove their young girls around town after hearing news that their beloved babysitter was moving away. Everything that Julie and her husband suggested doing brought up memories of the cherished sitter. Reaching down into her bag, Julie pulled out notebook and pen and wrote the first pages of Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie. (Click HERE for a video of the author.)

I had a bad August.
A very bad August.
As bad as pickle juice on a cookie.
As bad as a spiderweb on your leg.

As bad as the black parts of a banana.

I hope your August was better.

I really do.


Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie
is a sweetly written book about a soon-to-be third grader named Eleanor. Eleanor is having a terrible August because she has learned that her babysitter, Bibi, is moving away to Florida to take care of her sick father. Bibi has been her babysitter for Eleanor's entire eight years.

Eleanor is having a tough time coping with this change in her life. Nothing seems to be much fun anymore. And everything reminds her of Bibi. Then Natalie, a new babysitter, arrives. Natalie spends time playing mancala, a marble game, with Eleanor. Natalie waits patiently with her for the mail carrier who never seems to have the greatly desired letter from Bibi that Eleanor anticipates. All of Natalie's kindness and understanding seem lost on Eleanor. Will Eleanor adapt to this change in her life? Will she accept Natalie and come to terms with Bibi's move?

Like Pickle Juice on a Cookie
is a great story for a young reader who might be experiencing a change in their own life. Whether a lost friendship, a move to a new school, or a greater loss of a parent or a family member, this book could help younger readers cope with their own feelings of bereavement.

Visit Julie's website HERE.

Let's not forget the wonderful illustrator of this book, Matthew Cordell. Visit his website HERE. You may recognize some of his other works. (And take a peek at Leap Back Home to Me...I must put my hands on this book! It looks fantastic!)

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Trouble With Chickens


Chick-Chick-Hooray! I am egg-static to tell you about one funny book!

"J.J. Tully is a former search-and-rescue dog who is trying to enjoy his retirement after years of performing daring missions saving lives. So he's not terribly impressed when two chicks named Dirt and Sugar (who look like popcorn on legs), with their chicken mom, show up demanding his help to track down their missing siblings. Driven by the promise of a cheeseburger, J.J. begins to follow the clues. Is Vince the Funnel hiding something? Are there dark forces at work--or is J.J. not smelling the evidence that's right in front of him."

Doreen Cronin's new book, The Trouble With Chickens, is filled with laugh out loud moments! What terrific chicken humor! I even snorted a couple of times! Really! I am not eggs-aggerating! Check out the following lines:

"...this chick had already learned that life outside the shell was not all it was cracked up to be."

referring to Sugar, one of the chicks...She reminded me of a three-inch splinter I'd had once--it bothered me, and I was in a much better mood when it was gone."

Again, a quote about Sugar..."Sugar was coming at me as fast as those freaky little chickadee legs would take her. She hadn't just inherited her mother's eyes, she'd inherited her mother's crazy." HA! Love it!

"We have to be half strength, half perseverance, and half obedience. Do your own math, tough guy--I'm making a point here."

"Dirt was as good as scrambled egg if she slammed into that wall."
Ah, yes. This read has fantastically funny writing with a good story line. The author does an eggs-cellent job telling about her book HERE. Come on, don't be a chicken. Go watch!

I won't be screaming 'fowl' on this one! I will be passing this book around the classroom! It is eggs-actly what my students like to read!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

World Read Aloud Day 2011


"Nearly 1 billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their name. What would you miss most if you could not read or write? Imagine your world without words."

Today, my students and I celebrated World Read Aloud Day. We shared the power of words, of reading, of sharing stories with each other. To help us celebrate, we invited several fabulous authors to read aloud to us via Skype. We cannot thank these authors enough for spending time with us, for sharing aloud their words, for encouraging us as readers and writers.


Sarah Albee began our morning Skyping with us from Connecticut. What sixth grader would not be interested in reading Poop Happened: A History of the World from the Bottom Up? "From the world's first flushing toilet invented by ancient Minoan plumbers to castle moats in the middle ages that used more than just water to repel enemies, Sarah Albee traces human civilization using one revolting yet fascinating theme."The students were engrossed with Sarah's reading of the knight's squire and the task that was required of this position. Sarah kept the students listening as she shared other bits and pieces from her book. From the groans and "eewwwww!" noises that erupted from the classroom, I knew the students were hooked. I am going to have to purchase multiple copies of this book. The one copy in my classroom will not be enough!


Still early in the morning, the students had the extreme pleasure of hearing Sarah Prineas read aloud from her book, The Magic Thief. Sarah shared with the students how she has been influenced by J.R.R. Tolkien. Sarah also shared that Laura Ingalls Wilder influenced her writing. In the writings of Wilder, she was often writing about food! Indeed, as Sarah read through the first chapter of The Magic Thief, we were hearing about pork chops and potatoes and berry pie dusted with sugar.
Sarah had several Skype visits planned for the day. In fact, late into the evening Sarah was still Skyping with students in China! We appreciate Sarah taking time to read aloud to us!


When my second block of LA students arrived mid-morning, they had heard the buzz of excitement from the first block students in the hallway. The incoming students were eager to have time with an author and were mesmerized by Laurel Snyder. Laurel read aloud from Penny Dreadful,"the perfect book for girls and boys who look to find adventure and magic in surprising places."
After reading aloud from Penny Dreadful, Laurel had a treat for us! Laurel read from her new book to be published in September, Bigger Than a Breadbox. She was reading from this book for the first time and admitted to us that she was nervous about it. She need not have been nervous! It was a powerful first chapter describing the main character listening to her parents 'fight' but in an eerily calm manner. Words were well-chosen and bits of the chapter stayed with us...

'a sweaty $5.00 in my fist'
a 'big list of angry''
'I could do this just as easy without you.'
'sitting on lumpy shoes'
'smelled like dirty hair and peanut butter'

Bigger Than a Breadbox is one book I will look forward to putting on the shelves in my classroom. The small morsel that Laurel let us taste was one that we enjoyed, and we would like a heap more!


By the time my third block of students came to my room in the afternoon, they knew they would be in for a treat. Donna Gephart, author of As If Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President and How to Survive Middle School, is one hysterically funny lady! What an energetic person! It is no wonder that she has received the Sid Fleischman Humor Award! She even showed us the award, wonderfully heavy as it was!

Donna read aloud to us from her newest book How to Survive Middle School. Already flying off my shelf, this book is about a boy named David who wants to be famous with his videos he posts on YouTube. But first, David must deal with:

"6. Middle school (much scarier than it sounds!)
5. His best friend gone girl-crazy
4. A runaway mom who has no phone!
3. The threat of a swirlie on his birthday
2. A terrifying cousin
1. His # 1 fan, Bubbe (his Jewish grandmother)
1/2. Did we mention Hammy, the hamster who’s determined to break David’s heart?"


Wrapping up the afternoon in the most perfect kind of way were the authors of The Familiars, Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson. These two authors had the students hooked the day before when I showed the students their video posted on YouTube. (Click HERE to see the hilarious video the authors made to promote their book.)

Adam and Andrew read aloud from their book which focuses on the magical animal companions to a wizard or a witch. Aldwyn, an alley cat, Gilbert, a tree frog, and Skylar, a blue jay, are the familiars that my students are anxious to read about. The two authors shared information that a movie is in the works. They are writing the screenplay, and the second book in the series is due to come out later this year.

Adam and Andrew spent extra time talking with the students and answering their questions. After being asked if they remembered writing in middle school, a grade school writing was dug out of a battered folder! "Time Chase" was read aloud...a story written in grade school by Andrew! We heard about Stanley, Chuck and Wilbur going on a time machine adventure to the Civil War! What a great thing to hear these authors say, "And YOU can do it, too!"


We had a FANTASTIC World Read Aloud Day! Thank You Thank You Thank You to each and every author for taking time out of your very busy schedule to read to us, talk to us, answer our questions, and inspire us to be better readers and writers!

Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, says it well..."...reading aloud to a child is the oldest, cheapest and must successful method of instilling that desire. Shooting baskets with a child creates a basketball player; reading to a child creates a reader."

Thank you, authors! You rock!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Books Read in February - Centurions 2011



The Centurions of 2011 is a Facebook reading community made up of teachers, publishers, authors, and readers who have pledged to read 111 books in 2011.

I blazed a trail of reading in January, but the pace for February was a bit slower...50% slower. A total of 21 books were read with fourteen of those being picture books.

Keep reading to the bottom of this post for a SPECIAL note on a SPECIAL book on my list.


41. Breakaway by Andrea Montalbano Good story with the topics of soccer and popularity. Sportsminded girls are sure to enjoy this one.
42. Punished! by David Lubar Full of figurative language!
43. Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt SPECIAL book - See note below!
44. Zebrafish by Peter Reynolds and FableVision Click HERE to read my post.
45. Sugar and Ice by Kate Messner Click HERE to read my post.
46. Reading Ladders by Teri Lesesne (professional book)
47. Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst (review to come!)
48. Northwest Animal Babies by Andrea Helman (PB)
49. Cat the Cat, Who is That? by Mo Willems (PB)
50. What's Your Sound, Hound the Hound? by Mo Willems (PB)
51. A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech (PB) *A FINE, FINE BOOK!
52. Fishing in the Air by Sahron Creech (PB)
53. Vampire is Coming to Dinner! 10 Rules to Follow by Pamela Jane (PB) *COOL!
54. How to Clean Your Room in 10 Easy Steps by Jennifer Larue Huget (PB) *LOVED IT!
55. Dear Teacher by Amy Husband (PB)
56. Lots of Spots by Lois Ehlert (PB)
57. The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco (PB) *POWERFUL! A FAVORITE!
58. Boo's Dinosaur by Betsy Byars(PB)
59. Cowboy Sam and Those Confounded Secrets by Kitty Griffin(PB) LIKED IT!
60. The Adventures of Sparrowboy by Brian Pinkney
61. Bedtime for Mommy by Amy Krouse Rosenthal


Now for the special note...

Okay for Now is the companion book to Gary D. Schmidt's The Wednesday Wars. Having not read the initial book, I can tell you that Okay for Now stands perfectly by itself.

I loved this book! It is by far the best book I have read in 2011. The author expertly creates a main character that I came to care deeply about. As for other characters in this book...just when I thought I had a character pegged to fit in my brain a certain way, the author twists and turns everything around on me.

I simply do not have the words for the magnitude of greatness this book exhibits. I believe this book has a strong chance in garnering some awards. It really is that good.

(I read this book via NetGalley.)


Recap: Two months = 61 books! Woo-hoo! Now...MARCH...onward!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sugar and Ice


I was twelve years old once…and I remember lacing up my white skates and teetering across Tenth Street after a winter’s snowstorm in northern Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie to skate on ice that had formed on the high school’s front lawn. The blades of frozen grass that stuck up from under the iced surface did not stop me from pretending I was a world class skater—that I was Dorothy Hamill or a female version of Scott Hamilton. I had little to no technique, just the joy of sliding around on two silver blades and sometimes twirling in what must have been near imperfect circles. Oh yes, I loved trying to ice skate when I was growing up, and I loved watching all the ice skating competitions when they were televised.

And this is probably why I was enthralled with Kate Messner’s newest novel, Sugar and Ice. While reading this book, I brought my own experiences twirling around on an ice patch in my youth to the experiences Claire dealt with in her story. I, unlike Claire, simply never made it off my ‘cow pond.’

"Claire loves to skate, and when she is offered a scholarship to skate under the direction of Andrei Groshev with some talented skaters at Lake Placid, she enters into an unfamiliar world of grueling practice sessions and competitions not to mention tension-filled relationships with other determined skaters. Can Claire find the strength to stand up to the people who want her to fail and the courage to decide if ice skating is the dream she wants to follow?"

Middle grade girls will fall in love with this story, for the sheer excitement of Claire’s journey in the ice skating world. After readers become immersed in the drama on and off the ice, there is an innocent girl-likes-boy and same girl-meets-new-boy story that will keep girls reading!

Kate Messner certainly knows how to write for middle grade readers.


This week, my students were very fortunate to Skype with Kate Messner during her lunch period—she teaches full-time, folks! She talked to the students about her inspiration behind Sugar and Ice. She showed students a brainstorming technique for generating writing ideas and graciously answered students’ questions. To say her own students are fortunate to have her as a teacher is probably the largest understatement of the year!

Be sure to check out Sugar and Ice as well as her other popular middle-grade novel, The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. Also, look for other works coming from Kate soon…Marty McGuire, a new series for younger readers…SeaMonster's First Day, a picture book coming this summer...Over and Under the Snow, a picture book coming in the fall...

Click HERE to visit Kate's extensive website and HERE to read her blog.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Zebrafish


"Vita Escolar is ready to rock. She's got a band name, a used guitar, and three chords under her studded belt. All she needs are a few bandmates to complete the picture. Instead, an activist, two gamers, and an artist show up to her audition. None play a lick of music. But when she can't shake 'em off, she resigns herself to join 'em. After all, a virtual band is better than no band...er, right? With a little help from Walt, Tanya, Plinko, and Jay, Vita learns that you can't always get what you want--but you might get what your friends need. And that's way better. Oh yeah!"

Here's the deal...my sixth graders will like Zebrafish by Peter Reynolds, Sharon Emerson, and Renee Kurilla. Why? Reason #1...it's a graphic novel. Reason #2...it's about music. Reason #3...because "the end of a story can actually be the start of something BIG."

And there is something BIG waiting for the reader on the end pages of the book...

"Change happens in 2 ways--to you or by you. You can wait around for other people--adults, politicians, college students--to make the world a better place or you--YES, YOU--can decide to DO SOMETHING."

"Think about it--school teaches us to read, write, and problem solve. Big deal. So what? What are you going to DO with these skills? How are you going to use your talents to change the world?"

Believe me, kids like it when adults acknowledge that they DO have something to offer to the world. Grown-ups don't know it all, and kids CAN make a difference. And that is why my students will eat up this book. It's more than just a story. It is a call to action!

Click HERE to see how other kids are MAKING A DIFFERENCE.

Click HERE for a trailer of Zebrafish and HERE for more information behind the making of Zebrafish.

Thanks to the publisher for a review copy of this book!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Neil Armstrong is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me


"Muscle Man McGinty is a squirrelly runt, a lying snake, and a pitiful excuse for a ten-year-old. The problem is that no one on Ramble Street knows it but me."

In Nan Marino's first novel, Neil Armstrong is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me, ten year-old Tamara Ann Simpson is a "seventy-nine pound girl with one hundred pounds of emptiness." Her best friend Kebsie, a foster child who lived across the street, has moved away. One day Kebsie was howling at the moon with Tamara by her side on the garage roof, and the next day she was gone.

Tamara takes out her anger at the new kid who moves into the foster home that Kebsie has left. Muscle Man McGinty gets under Tamara's skin with just about everything he says and does. And when Muscle Man brags that he can beat the ENTIRE block in a kickball game, Tamara thinks she finally has Muscle Man right where she wants him.

"It's the summer of 1969, and the world is getting ready to watch a man named Neil Armstrong make history by taking the first step on the moon. But change happens a bit more slowly on Ramble Street, and it'll take one giant leap for Tamara to understand the likes of Muscle Man McGinty."

I am putting this book on my "Don't Miss" list...books that I tell my sixth graders to be sure not to miss reading before they venture into seventh grade and the wild universe beyond...books that if they don't pick up and read this year that they might miss altogether. And that would be very sad indeed.

I know you won't be disappointed in reading this book. It's an emotional story told from a bully's point of view. There are many layers to this book...Tamara...her dysfunctional family...Muscle Man McGinty...his secret...the Vietnam War...the first man on the moon...READ IT! READ IT! READ IT!

Click HERE to go to the author's website and HERE to read Nan Marino's blog.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Books Read in January - Centurions 2011


The Centurions of 2011 is a Facebook reading community made up of teachers, publishers, authors, and readers who have pledged to read 111 books in 2011.

For the month of January, I read 40 books. Thirty-two of those books were picture books. I am especially proud of the 32 picture books I read. Why? Not only am I catching up on picture books I have missed and haven't read, I am sharing more reading with my six year-old and four year-old. And perhaps that is even more important than keeping up on middle grade and young adult books for my sixth graders that I teach.
Here are my forty books with stars and comments by my favorites.

1. Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook by Beverly Patt **Click HERE to view my blog post on this book.
2. Countdown by Deborah Wiles **LOVED this one. Click HERE to view my blog post.
3. Crunch by Leslie Connor
4. Willow's Whispers by Lana Button (PB)
5. Close Your Eyes by Kate Banks (PB)
6. I'm a Turkey by Jim Arnosky (PB)
7. Heat Wave by Eileen Spinelli (PB)
8. Dogs Rule by Daniel Kirk (PB)
9. Flotsam by David Wiesner (PB)
10. Spot the Plot by J. Patrick Lewis (PB)
11. Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems (PB) **LOVED this one. How have I missed this one for so long?
12. Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems (PB)
13. Lousy Rotten Stinkin Grapes by Margie Palatini (PB)
14. Horton Halfpott: Or, The Fiendish Mystery of Smugwick Manor; or, The Loosening of M'Lady Luggertuck's Corset by Tom Angleberger **Coming in May! Blog post to come.
15. The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman **Click HERE to view my blog post.
16. Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct by Mo Willems (PB)
17. I'm the Best by Lucy Cousins (PB)
18. Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems (PB)
19. The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! by Mo Willems (PB)
20. The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! by Mo Willems (PB)
21. Sailing Off to Sleep by Linda Ashman (PB)
22. Chimps Don't Wear Glasses by Laura Numeroff (PB)
23. The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill (PB)
24. Tacky and the Winter Games by Helen Lester (PB)
25. Snowboard Twist by Jean Craighead George (PB)
26. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood **LOVED this one! Cannot wait for the second book due out this month. Click HERE to view my blog post.
27. The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall by Mary Downing Hahn
28. Cliff Hanger by Jean Craighead George and Wendell Minor (PB)
29. Otis by Loren Long (PB) **LOVED this sweet story!
30. Palazzo Inverso by D.B. Johnson (PB)
31. Elsie's Bird by Jane Yolen and David Small (PB)
32. Eeeek, Mouse! by Lydia Monks (PB)
33. My Friend, the Starfinder by George Ella Lyon and Stephen Gammell (PB)
34. Olivia Helps With Christmas by Ian Falconer (PB)
35. Olivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer (PB)
36. The 3 Little Dassies by Jan Brett (PB)
37. 13 Words by Lemony Snicket and Maria Kalman (PB)
38. Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick (PB)
39. Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca (PB) **Great read!!
40. Neil Armstrong is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino **LOVED this one! Will blog about it soon!

WOW! It's the second day of February. I better go read!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling

"Maryrose Wood writes books for the sort of reader who is not yet old enough to drive but enjoys taking journeys of the imagination nevertheless."

"Discovered in the forests of Ashton Place, the Incorrigibles are no ordinary children: Alexander keeps his siblings in line with gentle nips; Cassiopeia has a bark that is (usually) worse than her bite; and Beowulf is alarmingly adept at chasing squirrels.

"Luckily, Miss Penelope Lumley is no ordinary governess. Only fifteen years old and a graduate of the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Penelope embraces the challenge of her new position. Though she is eager to instruct the children in Latin verbs and the proper use of globes, first she must eliminate their canine tendencies." (from book jacket)



"Bravowooo! Bravowoooooo!" I say to The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling. I must must must get my hands on the second book (The Hidden Gallery) as soon as it comes to a bookstore near me on February 22, 2011. I want to know what becomes of Alexander, Beowulf, and Cassiopeia. I want to know what Miss Lumley does next. I want to know the identity of the person responsible for the Christmas mayhem. I want to know more about the secret in the attic. Oh my!

Adam Rex, author of The True Meaning of Smekday, says it well on the back cover of the book..."Every newspaper and website in America is going to tell you that The Mysterious Howling will leave you HOWLING FOR MORE! So I'm not going to say that. But it's really good."



My favorite quotes from the book...

"All books are judged by their covers until they are read."

"If you have ever opened a can of worms, boxed yourself into a corner, ended up in hot water, or found yourself in a pretty pickle, you already know that life is rarely (if ever) just a bowl of cherries."

"...I suppose this is what is meant by 'growing up'...Finding out the difference between what one expected one's life would be like and how things really are."



You must pick this one up and read it. Just know that you are really choosing two books since you will absolutely want to continue the adventures you began in The Mysterious Howling when The Hidden Gallery becomes available next month!

Click HERE to view the book trailer. Click HERE for a great interview with Maryrose Wood.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable


What did you do over summer vacation?

I'm sure you have been asked that question at least once in your life. My answer usually goes something like this..."Well, I read a lot of books. I took my family to the zoo. We went to the state park and stayed the weekend at the lodge. We swam in our pool. You know, the usual."

For two kids named Coke and Pepsi, summer is anything but 'the usual'.

In Dan Gutman's new book The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable, twin siblings Coke and Pepsi find out they are geniuses. They are part of TGF...The Genius Files...an elite group of the smartest young people in the country selected to solve the many adult problems of today's society. Sound cool? Perhaps...until they learn that someone is trying to kill them!

Thank goodness Coke and Pepsi's parents have decided to take a road trip across America due to the fact that Aunt Judy is getting married near the Lincoln Memorial on July Fourth. The trip should get them out of harm's way. While traveling, Mr. and Mrs. McDonald have planned to stop at various fascinating spots. Not historical spots. Fascinating spots. You see, Mrs. McDonald is the founder and only employee of Amazing But True, a web-based magazine devoted to odd facts, so their cross-country trip will include stops at Burlingame, California, home to the Museum of Pez Memorabilia and Chico, California, home to The National Yo-Yo Museum.

Coke and Pepsi will take you on a fabulous adventure to the Sand Mountain Recreation Area, famous for 'singing' grains of sand. They will take you to the Nevada Shoe Tree and Thunder Mountain. You'll visit the Bonneville Salt Flats and Blackfoot, Idaho--the Potato Capital of the World. And then you'll visit other fascinating sites such as the Dinosaur Capital of the World, the SPAM Museum, and the Continental Divide before reaching the largest ball of twine in America in Cawker City, Kansas.

But alas, along the way, trouble and danger seem to find these two geniuses.

Whew!

Kids will enjoy this adventurous new tale. Dan Gutman seems to have a knack for writing stories that put kids in charge of situations and in control of their own lives. There is non-stop action and thrills for readers who want to keep turning the pages. There is humor for readers who want a laugh or two. There is danger for readers who live on the edge. There are mind-numbing facts for readers who want to learn something new.

Check out the book trailer for The Genius Files by clicking HERE (or by visiting his website--link below). Super cool! And listen to Dan Gutman talk about his new book HERE.

Don't forget to visit Dan Gutman's website. Plenty of interesting info can be found there such as his rejection letters from publishers who did not want to put his book Honus and Me on bookshelves. Can you imagine? Wow.

AND...I AM SUPER EXCITED to tell you that DAN GUTMAN is visiting BOOKS AND COMPANY in DAYTON, OHIO on FEBRUARY 1 at 7:00 PM. Come meet the author and ask him your questions! I have been to Books and Company many times and am always pleased with the authors and their presentations. After his visit, you can explore store's great selection of awesome reads and pick up a book or two to take home! Click HERE to get directions to Books and Company at The Greene Shopping Center. Maybe I'll see you there!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, January 10, 2011

And the 2011 Newbery Medal Winner Goes To...


Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

"Abilene Tucker's aiming to learn about her father's childhood in Manifest, Kansas. Having heard his stories of the town in its 1918 heyday, Abilene's disappointed to find Manifest's a dried up Depression town. But her disappointment turns into intrigue when she discovers a hidden cigar box containing old letters, a collection of momentos, and mention of a spy known as The Rattler.

"Those mysterious words send Abilene and her new friends on a spy hunt even though they are warned to Leave Well Enough Alone. The more she hears, the more she's determined to learn what role her father played in Manifest's secret history."

Click HERE to go to the book's website.


The four Newbery Honor winners are...

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Not only did One Crazy Summer win a Newbery Honor, but this book also won the Coretta Scott King Award. Visit my last post HERE to read more about this book (also the winner of the Scott O'Dell Award).


Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

I LOVED this book and would highly recommend it to all middle grade readers. See my small post HERE I wrote during my Bookaday challenge over holiday vacation. I was so happy to see this garner an award.


Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman

"Welcome to the night, where mice stir and furry moths flutter. Where snails spiral into shells as orb spiders circle in silk. Where the roots of oak trees recover and repair from their time in the light. Where the porcupette eats delicacies --raspberry leaves!--and coos and sings.

"Come out to the cool, night wood, and buzz and hoot and howl--but beware of the great horned owl--for it's wild and it's windy way out in the woods!"

I have not read Dark Emperor, but I am a big fan of Joyce Sidman's This is Just to Say: Poems of Apologies and Forgiveness. I use it every year with my sixth grade students. We read through her poetry and then try some poems of apology and forgiveness ourselves. They are always great!

Click HERE to view the book trailer (YouTube).



Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

"In 1841, a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan's borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way.

"Manjiro, a fourteen-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about his new culture. Eventually the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives for some time in New England, and then heads to San Fransisco to pan for gold. After many years, he makes it back to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the shogun to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai."

This book is based on the true story of Manjiro Nakahama. Read more about him HERE.

Happy Reading!

Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!