Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Caldecott Contender

I have a dismal track record of picking Caldecott winners, the Oscars for Picture Books.  Now the Newbery is a different story, but the Caldecott just shows me no mercy.  So while I will tell you that the book I am profiling today should probably be on the Caldecott short list, don't hold your breath.  My track record speaks for itself.

However, if you want a book that absolutely touched me in both a sentimental and a humorous way, then this is the one.  If those judges don't at least give it serious consideration, well that's on them.  Although now that picture books are winning Newbery awards, perhaps this one has a better shot  at some hardware than I thought.

Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by email so that you don't miss my own personal picks for award winners.  I have included an interview on the Daily Show with the author which I absolutely loved!

Title: Thunder Boy Jr.

Author: Sherman Alexie

Target: Preschool - Grade 3

What this book is about: 
Thunder Boy Jr. is named after his dad.  His dad is Big Thunder and he is Little Thunder.  But Little Thunder has a secret ….. he hates his name!  He attempts to come up with new names that represent the things that he has accomplished in his life such a touching the nose of a wild orca or climbing mountains.  But he has no idea how to broach the subject with his dad.  As luck would have it, his dad comes up with a new name for Little Thunder that is more than perfect, proving this father/son duo will “light up the sky.”

Why I love this book:
  • I was a child of the ’60/‘70s in California with a name that represented my Norwegian heritage.  It was a name that NO ONE had heard of, I felt I had no connection to and I hated it.  But you don’t have to be named Freya or Little Thunder to come to the conclusion that there are times growing up that you will hate your name or the responsibly of a family name.  Alexie Sherman has taped into this universal truth and given kids a voice when they are fed up with the poor decisions their parents have saddled them with.  (For the record I now love my name, although still few people have heard of it.)
  • I love the imagery in this book.  As Little Thunder tries to come up with new names, his accomplishments, wishes and personality are revealed with humor and a sense of delight.
  • When his dad comes up with a new name for Little Thunder my favorite line in the book is revealed “My dad read my heart!”  I know, I know, I hate touchy feely stuff but what a gift when someone can read your heart!  Love it!
  • This book is funny.  While touching and sentimental, this book never loses its sense of humor and that is what nailed it as a must read for me.

Who this book is for: 
Great for all kids.  Wonderful way to show Native Americans in a contemporary light.

Final thoughts: 
I have not touched on the illustrations by YuYi Morales.  I was not initially drawn to them, but after reading the book several times, I couldn’t imagine a more vibrant and expressive artist to make this story come to life.  She is constantly playing with perspective, shape and color and her work is striking.  These illustrations definitely grew on me.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Thunder Boy Jr.  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Fabulous Picture Book for Kids

Let us not forget the picture book this summer!  My "big kids" still pull picture books down from the shelf to peruse and frankly, I think they get the humor on a whole new level now.

I just love it when I find a picture book that makes me giggle and that I am willing to read numerous times.  Today I have just such a book!

Now for your summer reading tip!  Get all the kids involved.  Why not have the older kids read to the younger ones?  Or you can share the duties in the story, giving your older kids the pages or parts they feel the confident presenting.  Your older kids will feel responsible, they get to practice their reading and they strengthen that sibling bond ... that is until the next disagreement!

Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by email so that you don't miss any picture books that you are willing to read until the cows come home! Yep, that's quite a few times.

Title: We Forgot Brock!

Author: Carter Goodrick

Target: Preschool - Grade 1

What this book is about: 
Phillip has a best friend Brock.  Oddly enough, no one else seems to be able to see Brock.  When the family goes to the Big Fair, Phillip falls asleep after a long day and Brock does not come home with them … he is lost!  While Phillip is searching frantically for Brock, Brock has met up with a lovely girl Anne and her “best friend” Princess Sparkle Dust.  They keep him company until Phillip and Brock are reunited and the whole gang become the best of friends.

Why I love this book:
  • Ok, I have had this aversion to the firestorm of books about imaginary friends.  Seems like they are cropping up at a pace equivalent to whack a mole!  So I had little hope for this story, until I read it!  Kids do not need to have an imaginary friend to appreciate the humor and silliness of this book, which is present in spades.
  • The artwork is ideal.  Imaginary friends are drawn as childish versions of illustrations, but their expressions are perfect.  That the author has chosen to represent Brock as a full out pirate/gearhead with a pencil thin mustache is just hysterical.
  • The fact that Phillip is incredulous that his parents can’t see Brock is just perfect.   How those adults can’t see the obvious is beyond me.
Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who like The Adventures of Beekle or frankly any child who likes to laugh.  No imaginary friend required.

Final thoughts: 
Loved this book.  It is a real gem.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: We Forgot Brock!  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Books to Keep Kids Reading Over the Summer

Friday is here again and for Flashback Friday I have a book that I just loved when I first read it.  It was one of those stories that my son begged me to read because he couldn't stop talking about it and frankly I felt the same way after I finished.  Despite being written in the 1980's, it has stayed amazingly current and relevant for today.  To top it off the action is nonstop, making it a can't put down read.

Now for my summer reading tip.  Books on Tape!  There I said it.  When you have road trips coming up, why not download something for the car ride?  My kids and I recently went to Disneyland and I downloaded Frindle by Andrew Clements on my phone.  They were actually visibly disappointed when it was over and had to go back to their video games!  Another favorite of my husband and myself from previous trips is The Twits by Roald Dahl.  I think we got just as caught up in the story as the kids.  Just make sure you get the full versions and not the abridged.

Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by email so that you don't miss a single book from the past that will keep them reading in the present.

Title: Ender’s Game

Author: Orson Scott Card

Target: Grades 6 and up

Series: Yes

What this book is about:
Earth has defeated an attack from an alien species.  In an attempt to stop future attacks, they have sent ships across the galaxy to try and neutralize the threat.  However, they need to groom a great leader to defeat these aliens.  Ender Wiggins is the earth’s great hope.  He is strategic, brilliant, ruthless when he needs to be - and only six years old.  He is taken from his family and sent to battle school to be molded into the hero Earth desperately needs.  But will battle school train him or break him?

Why I love this book:
This is a great book.  Ok .... did you hear me?  Just in case you missed it, this is a great book!  I have no idea why it took me so long to read it, despite the pleas of my son.  I knew I needed to get it under my belt, but now I am just mad it took me so long!  

The development of Ender as a leader is fascinating.  The battle games they play in zero gravity at battle school had me on the edge of my seat.  The reaction to Ender’s brilliance and the threats to his well being had me off balance throughout the story.  This is a can’t put down book in the best possible way.

Who this book is for:
Kids who like dystopian books, especially series such as Maze Runner will love this story.  I do have to warn parents that there is some bad language, although it isn’t rampant.  There are also some mature references, and some violence, so be warned if you have younger kids.  Grade six is the earliest I would recommend it based on these things.

Final thoughts:
Ender’s Game combines powerful messages about war and forgiveness with an incredibly engaging story.  Despite the fact that this book was first published in 1985, it remains current and relevant.

To purchase this book
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Ender's GameA portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.   Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A Book For Kids About Making Assumptions

Summer continues and more good books are available to keep your kids reading.  The book I am profiling today is an insightful look at fitting in and more importantly about making assumptions about people.  If you have a child who will be going to a new school in the Fall, this might be the perfect book to hand them this summer.

Of course I want to share another summer reading tip with you.  Food!  Yes, that one word can make a difference.  I have a basket of "book worms" aka gummy worms.  When the kids read they are free to grab a bag to snack on, but only when reading.  Once again, it makes reading feel more like a treat than a punishment.  Behold the power of the snacks!

Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by email so that you don't miss the latest books to not only keep them reading, but get them ready for the new school year.

Title: Save Me a Seat

Authors: Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Target: Grades 3-6

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Told in alternating perspectives, this book focuses on Joe, a 5th grader with an auditory processing disorder and Ravi, a new student who has just move to Joe's school from India.  Both become the target of Dillon, the class bully.  Joe has to work on not letting Dillon define him and Ravi must confront the fact that first impressions are not always correct.  As Ravi adjusts to a new culture he also comes to realize that he acted just like Dillon in India and perhaps with this fresh start he can define himself differently.

Why I love this book:
  • I got totally caught up in the plight of Joe and Ravi.  Joe is the kid who just warms your heart and you feel for him on so many levels.  Ravi kind of annoyed me at first with his arrogance, but I came to appreciate his desire to fit in and his realization that his past behavior was less than admirable.  That self realization made me like him quite a bit by the end.
  • I love the technique of alternating view points.  It gives the reader so much more insight into the characters and I appreciate seeing the same scene from different points of view.  It also breaks up the text making it a much more mageable read, especially for reluctant readers
  • The one problem I had with the book was how mean Dillon was to the boys.  I have a hard time believing someone could get away with all that name calling in Fifth grade.  I also felt that bullies are usually quite a bit smoother around adults.  However, I was completely caught up in the story, so a quibble.

Who this book is for: 
Great for reluctant readers because of the alternating viewpoints and larger print.  Good book for kids who like realistic fiction and are fans of books like Wonder.

Final thoughts: 
I really enjoy learning more about the immigrant experience, especially immigration from India.  I am several generations away from my Norwegian/German ancestors who came to America so I haven’t heard about their assimilation.  However, we have a plethora of new Indian families in my area and it did shed light on their efforts to fit in while maintaining their heritage.

To purchase this book: 
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Save Me a Seat.  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer Reading for Kids

Summer fun continues this week with a book that explores the immigrant experience.  But don't worry, I haven't gotten too serious on your kid's beach vibe.  While this book will prove extremely enlightening for your children, it is also full of humor and laugh out moments.  This author has been able to combine heart with levity making this a refreshing and thought provoking book.

Ok, now for my summer reading tip.  Make trips to the library fun!  Kids who aren't book lovers can feel lost at the library. I am giving you a link to a blog that has delightful library challenges: Growing Book by Book.  While they apply mostly to picture books they can be adapted to middle school readers as well.  Why not check out the Newbery winners from the year you were born?  What about checking out the first and last books in the fiction stacks?  Some will be hits, some won't, but they will certainly give you a place to start.

Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and by email so that you don't miss books that can be entertaining and informative during the summer.  The best of both worlds.

Title: It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel

Author: Firoozeh Dumas

Target: Grades 5-8

Series: No

What this book is about: 
In this semi autobiographical story,  Zomorod has moved from Iran to California.  Newport Beach is their latest stop.  It is the late 1970’s and she is about to start middle school.  First off, she is so tired of people asking her about the camels in Iran that she decides to go by Cindy, I mean it works on the Brady Bunch.  She is also dealing with the typical embarrassment any middle schooler feels towards her parents, compounded by the fact they haven’t quite mastered the language or the culture.  As she navigates between these two worlds she is also confronted by the hostility towards Iran in the wake of the Hostage Crisis.  This is a lot for one kid to handle.  Thankfully she has supportive friends and healthy sense of humor to manage through it.  Oh, and by the way, the only place she has ever seen a camel is the zoo!

Why I love this book:
  • Ok, full disclosure.  I grew up in California and am the same age as the author, so I could really relate to this story.  I wanted a puka shell necklace and a canopy bed just as much as Cindy!  I also had an unusual Norwegian name that I would have done anything to change.  However, I did not have the immigrant experience which plays so prominently into this story.  It is the humor and honesty with which the author tackles this narrative that charmed the socks off me.
  • Did I mentioned I laughed throughout?  Any girl will relate to Cindy being mortified by her family at times, but throw in some of the Persian customs and I had a hard time not laughing out loud.  Let me just say Sexy Grandma T-Shirts with sequins and It’s a Boy wrapping paper figured prominently in my vocal outbursts.
  • Despite the giggles, what I loved about this book was that it humanizes the immigrant experience for kids, and gives them a wonderful peak into our history with Iran.  I learned something and I even lived throughout the experience!  I also think it figures nicely into how we talk to kids about immigrants in the US, especially during this politically charged time.  A story about a real family and their challenges is quite powerful.

Who this book is for: 
I can’t wait to give this to my tween.  Wonderful for kids entering middle school who like realistic fiction.

Final thoughts: 
A really lovely book that combines honesty, humor and history to deliver a story that will stay with me.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: It Ain't So Awful, Falafel.  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Sweet Read for Kids

When I found out that one of my favorite books was about to have a sequel published, well that made the book I was going to highlight for Flashback Friday an easy pick!  Make sure you get The Candymakers into the hands of your kids.  It is full of fun, mystery, action and candy!  I really can't give you a better pick.  And with the sequel The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase on the horizon there is even more to love.

Of course I also have to leave you with a summer reading tip!  Don't think reading means a novel!  For kids reading can be a joke book, a handbook or even a magazine.  My son loves Sports Illustrated Kids and my daughter can't wait for American Girl or Teen Vogue.  Don't get me started on the amount of knock knock jokes that have been read to me over the years!  Just remember that reading is reading, no matter what form it takes.

Don't forget to follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by email so that you don't miss the latest installments of some great series.  Not all my picks are this sweet, but they are guaranteed to please!

Title:            The Candymakers
Author:        Wendy Mass
Target:         Grades 4-7
I really had a hard time putting this book down.  I was surprised how well written it was.  It started off very much like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  Four kids are selected to participate in a candy making competition and are allowed into a chocolate factory that was closed to visitors long ago.  However, this is where the similarity ends.
The fun of this book is that the story is told in five parts, the first four are from the perspective of each of the participants.  You see the story from the first child’s perspective, and then low and behold, when you get to the next child, your perception of the events are thrown on their head.  I loved it each time my son got to a new revelation, he looked up at me just as amazed as I had been.  The story gets richer and more interesting with each child’s version. 
I will say that some of the scenarios are bit far fetched, but it is a children’s book, set in a candy factory for goodness sake, so I will certainly allow the author the whimsy that the books subject conjures up.  Once I was into this story, I found it difficult to stop reading (kind of like a bag of M&Ms, you can't take just one handful), which I think is the best kind of recommendation!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Candymakers.  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Great Summer Reads for Kids

The fun continues with more summer reads that will get your kids excited about books over the break!  Today I have one that teaches us about Wonder Woman when she was just a teen, trying to manage friends and please her mom.  Perhaps she was a little more typical than anyone would have first imagined?

Of course I have another summer reading tip for you.  Try to put out a variety of books for your kids to choose from.  The library is a great place to go to get a stack at no cost to you!  Sometimes when parents only purchase or bring home that one book they think will work for their kids, they put too much pressure on their child to like that particular story.  If it isn't a hit, the child feels guilty and thinks they have disappointed their parent.  So let variety be their guide and don't worry if one book isn't a fit.  A month from now it may be the perfect read!

Don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or by email so that you don't miss any of the summer books that will make kids realize that reading really is a fun summer activity.

Title: Wonder Woman at Super Hero High

Author: Lisa Yee

Target: Grades 3-7

Series: Yes

What this book is about: 
In this story, Wonder Woman is just a teen who wants to hone her skills and be the best Super Hero she can be.  While she loves her mom, she has never left her home on Paradise Island, and she wants to see the world and make new friends.  She convinces her mom that she should attend Super Hero High which is far from her island.  As she navigates new friends, social media and learning valuable life skills, all she wants to do is to make her mom proud. But someone doesn’t want Wonder Woman at Super Hero High and she needs to find who and why!

Why I love this book:
  • Ok true confession time.  I was very skeptical of a book that has a full on marketing blitz of action figures and lower grade readers tied to it.  What you can end up with is a book that is meant to sell toys and not a book that is well written.  I am happy to say that this one surprised me in the best possible way.  While not highbrow literature, it is funny, full of suspense and thoroughly engaging.  What a delight.
  • I love the focus on female comic heroes.  I never had a real interest in the comic books with male dominated action heroes, but I was all in to learning about the ladies.  It makes these comics much more accessible and interesting to girls.
  • Lisa Yee has created a story that gives us the history and power of Wonder Woman, but also deals with everyday issues that girls are navigating through in school.  There is social awkwardness, finding friends and managing difficult social situations  Girls will be able to relate to these stories minus the bullet deflecting cuffs of course.

Who this book is for: 
Girls who have liked books series like Ever After High will enjoy this one.  But girls who also like books where the women are strong and problem solvers will also gravitate to this series.

Final thoughts: 
Loved learning about Wonder Woman and can’t wait for the next installment, Super Girl.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Wonder Woman at Super Hero High.  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.