Tuesday, June 28, 2011

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous


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!