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!