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 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.


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!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Countdown and One Crazy Summer

"Franny Chapman just wants some peace. But that's hard to get when her best friend is feuding with her, her sister has disappeared, and her uncle is fighting an old war in his head. Her saintly younger brother is no help, and the cute boy across the street only complicates things. Worst of all, everyone is walking around just waiting for a bomb to fall.

"It's 1962, and it seems that the whole country is living in fear. When President Kennedy goes on television to say that Russia is sending nuclear missiles to Cuba, it only gets worse. Franny doesn't know how to deal with what's going on in the world--no more than she knows how to deal with what's going on with her family and friends. But somehow she's got to make it through."

"Countdown features a captivating story interspersed with footage from 1962. Deborah Wiles has created a documentary novel that will put you right alongside Franny as she navigates a dangerous time in both her history and our history. It is an experience you will never forget.

"...Photographs, song lyrics, advertisements, news clippings, and television snippets populate the pages of this story about the sixteen days when the world came as close as it has ever come to nuclear annihilation." (from

Countdown by Deborah Wiles ranks as one of the best books of 2010 that I have read. Not enough of my students have read this book, and I will be suggesting it to many readers. If they are skeptical of the documentary portions of the book, I will tell students to skip over them and simply read Franny's story. The story is not dependent on the photographs, advertisements, and news clippings. After completing the book, students could return to the documentary portions they skipped.

This is a book that the reader will reflect upon when finished. What if I had lived during this crisis? How would I have reacted? After reading Countdown, I find myself curious and want to ask my dad about this time period of his life. How did the Cuban Missile Crisis affect him? What are his memories? Odd that I have never asked him before.

Make sure you watch this video of Deborah Wiles explaining Countdown HERE. I found it interesting. Just below Deborah's video is the actual video of "Duck and Cover" that Franny watched at school. Wow! I wonder what my sixth graders will think after I share it with them.

And...The winner of the 2011 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction is... ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams-Garcia. This is another fantastic historical fiction read that I would highly recommend. Again, this is a story that is set in the 1960's although with a different focus.

From Amazon..."Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.

"When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education."

You just can't miss these two exemplary historical fiction books! Check them out!

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Bookaday Challenge Part II

The #Bookaday Challenge (see previous post) has ended. The holiday challenge of reading a book a day over Christmas vacation kept me reading. I read a total of ten books. I was only one book short of reaching my reading goal. Even though I did not read eleven books as planned, I am proud of myself. I know that without the goal of #bookaday, I would not have been motivated to read as much as I did.

Here are my last three books I completed for the #Bookaday challenge...

The last name Scieszka says it all. You know you are getting a crazy good book with this author.

This delightful collection of funny stories by various guy authors (and one girl--Kate DiCamillo) will be widely enjoyed by both boys and girls. My favorite story (and the winner for 'Most Disgusting') is "The Bloody Souvenir" by Jack Gantos. The boys will think this story is cool while the girls will want to hurl. I mean, in the cover of his journal...? Really? Yuck.

Other favorites of mine are stories by Jeff Kinney, David Lubar, and a collaborative story between Jon Scieszka and Kate DiCamillo.

Check out the book trailer by clicking the title above. I love how the trailer shows all the authors from the collection. Great stuff!

Jon Scieszka has a fabulous Guys Read website. Click HERE. It is chock-full of good reads for boys. (Note: Guys Read: Thrillers is due out in the fall of 2011.)
"Let's face facts: We may be the most boring twelve-year-olds on the planet."

Masters of Disaster is one funny book. It is filled with BWAHAHA moments, and I was smiling and laughing all over this one. (Just reading the word "doody" makes the corners of my mouth turn up slightly.)

The three boys in this story think they live the most boring existence ever. Henry decides to turn things up a notch. He and his two buddies Riley and Reed proceed to plan some perfectly preposterous adventures to achieve stardom.

The three boys attempt to break world records by going "into the wilderness, inside a bull-riding ring, into a haunted house, off the neighbor's roof, and into a cataclysmic collision with explosive life-forms."

This 112-page book is a quick read. Surely to become one of my students' favorites, I know it will be one of my go-to books.

Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook by Beverly Patt

Louise and Dottie are best friends. They are living on Bainbridge Island in Washington State during World War II. On April 24, 1942, Dottie and her Japanese-American family are sent to an internment camp. Louise decides to keep "a record of everything that goes on while Dottie's away and share it with her when she returns."

I love the scrapbook/notebook form of this book and so do my students. The one question we all have upon finishing this book is: Will there be a sequel? Beverly Patt says, "I have an idea for a sequel to Best Friends Forever, but I don't know if it will happen or not! One can always hope!"

I highly recommend this book. On our Mock Newbery list, it has already been a popular read.

Happy Reading!
Mrs. T :)

P.S. Reading is like breathing chocolate air!