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Monday, April 7, 2014

Easter Book Baskets

It's that time of year again ... my annual Easter Book Basket post.  In this house, books take front and center at Easter.  We have made it an annual tradition that the Easter Bunny brings book baskets Easter morning.  The kids always look forward to the new titles and it takes the emphasis off toys and candy. 

However, I am not grinch.  An Easter basket without a chocolate bunny would be cruel and unusual punishment!  As always I am sharing the baskets I have put together for my family.  I hope they give you inspiration for an "eggcellent" Easter!  To see my baskets from the last two years, click here and here.

I do want to note that as my oldest child continues to grow, the books I select for him do as well.  While some of the choices I have made for him may appeal to a younger audience, be advised that he is fifteen, and the content of these books will be more mature and contain more violent scenarios.  I note this because I generally blog for a younger audience.

Basket for my fifteen year old son (who is too old but doesn't want to miss out on the books and chocolate bunny!)

1. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.  This is a dystopian tale where resources are scarce.  When Nailer finds a scavenger's dream, a ship filled with parts, he has to make a choice between saving the ship's lone survivor or striping the ship for parts.  This one won the Printz award in 2011 for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.  To purchase, click here: Ship Breaker  

2.  Bad for You: Exposing the War on Fun by Kevin C. Pyle.  I think my son will love this one, but I am little scared to give it to him.  This book will give him plenty of ammunition on why I should let him play video games, text and get his hands dirty.  However, I love that it encourages kids to intelligently question the use of technology!  To purchase, click here: Bad for You: Exposing the War on Fun!  

3.  Pluto:Urasawa x Tezuka.  In this graphic novel, robots and humans live and work together.  It is a futuristic thriller aimed squarely and a YA audience.  To purchase, click here: Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka, Vol. 1  

Basket for my twelve year old son

1.  Timmy Failure: Now Look What You've Done by Stephan Pastis.  My son loved the first book (I did too) so I know he will be thrilled to get the second book in this series.  To purchase, click here: Timmy Failure: Now Look What You've Done  

2. Say It Ain't So by Josh Berk.  My son loved Berk's first book and so I am hoping this one will be a home run too.  For kids who love baseball and mysteries, this series is top of the order.  To purchase, click here: Say It Ain't So (Lenny & the Mikes)  

3. Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue.  We have all the titles in the Origami Yoda series and these get read over and over again.  I expect this one to be no different.  To purchase, click here: Princess Labelmaker to the Rescue: An Origami Yoda Book  


Basket for my ten year old daughter

1. Switched at Birthday by Natalie Standiford.  By the author of the Secret Tree, a book I loved last year, I can't wait for my daughter to read this one.  She loved Wendy Mass' 11 Birthdays, so this will be a perfect fit.  To purchase, click here: Switched at Birthday  

2. The Kicks: Saving the Team by Alex Morgan.  This series is written by the soccer player Alex Morgan, who my daughter greatly admires.  This is the first book in a series about a girl's soccer team.  A perfect book for soccer loving girls.  To purchase, click here: Saving the Team (The Kicks)  

3.  The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall.  This is just a charming series that reminds me of the innocent books we used to read 30 years ago, but solidly set in today's world.  While the sensibilities are old fashion the girls are thoroughly modern. To purchase click here: The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Great Baseball Books for Kids

With baseball's opening day this week, I thought I would take the opportunity to share two of my favorite lesser known baseball books.  While Matt Christopher and Mike Lupica remain the gold standard for sports books, especially baseball, there is some great stuff out there for kids who love the game.  You will come out swinging with these books and your kids will have a can't put down read.  Sounds like home run to me (too many baseball puns?)  Oh ... and Go Giants.  It's the home team.




Two Hot Dogs With Everything by Paul Haven

I love this book.  It is great for kids who play the game and kids who are just fans.  It combines a love of baseball, an obsession with baseball superstitions and a who dun it into a page turner.



Strike Three, You're Dead by Josh Berk

Lenny knows baseball, so when he gets the chance to be an announcer at a major league game, he is over the moon, that is until the pitcher dies on the mound!  Nothing seems right and Lenny and his friends start an investigation of their own to figure out what happened.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Non Fiction Book for Girls

How can you resist a book call Bad Girls?  Well fear not, I am not leading your kids down the path of tawdry behavior, at least not this week.  This is more of an abridged history lesson so kids can realize the predicaments and resolutions that women have used throughout time ... if that makes them bad, then so be it!

Don't forget to Like One Great Book on Facebook and Twitter for updates on all the books that will turn your good girls bad!  Now you're just dying to go out and get this book, aren't you?

Title:       Bad Girls

Author:   Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple

Target:    Grades 5 and up

What this book is about: 
Are the women that history regards as “bad girls” really all that morally corrupt or are they simply misunderstood?  Our authors look at about 25 women throughout history, including Jezebel, Bloody Mary, Lizzy Borden and Mata Hari to see what history has to say about them and then debate whether they were really evil at heart or simply a victim of their time.  Hey, Beyonce is on a campaign to ban the word “bossy” to describe girls, so imagine what these women were up against.

Why I love this book:  
I call this a “wet your appetite book.”  The description of each female villain is about five pages of larger type and gives readers a quick summary of their upbringing and exploits.  An extensive bibliography in the back gives readers an easy way to find more material on these women.

The intriguing part of this book was the mother/daughter debate at the end of each chapter as to whether or not each woman was a victim of circumstance or truly bad.  The dialogue is done in a  comic panel format.  It was a bit confusing the first few chapters, but once I figured out the format, I enjoyed the approach which felt far more like listening in on a conversation than being forced to follow an academic debate.   I think if kids get this part of the book, they will enjoy seeing things in a new light.

Who this book is for: 
The writing is straightforward and concise so most kids will easily be able to take it in.  It is a fun book for girls who can explore female strength vs. a lapse in moral judgement.

Final thoughts: 
Not what I would have expected from the author of How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight.   She has a little more spunk that I expected … I like it.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, and Other Female Villains  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Books That Will Get Kids Interested in Modern Art

Time for a picture book about feelings and artwork ... with a sense of humor?  Why yes!  Nothing sappy here.  This book is filled with fabulous contemporary art pieces, a way to name kid's feelings and some humor to keep them coming back for more.

Don't forget to Like One Great Book on Facebook and Twitter for all the books that feature statues of Hello Kitty by Tom Sachs - yes it's in there!

Title:     There Are No Animals in This Book (Only Feelings)

Author:  Chani Sanchez

Target:   Preschool - Grade 2

What this book is about: 
This book is about putting words and visuals to feelings.  However, much to the chagrin of the author, animals keep making their way on to the pages.  She finally lets them in, because animals have feelings too.  The problem - now they have to change the name of the book!

Why I love this book: 
Ok, true confession time.  I love modern art.  If I had unlimited funds my walls would be filled with amazing artwork.  I also love exposing my kids to art.  When we were in NYC last summer, one of our best days was trip to MOMA  where the kids got completely caught up in works which challenged them intellectually and visually.  One of the reasons they were so open to MOMA is that I have exposed them to art throughout their lives - see what a good mother I am, and modest too!

Now what does this have to do with our book at hand?   Well I am so glad you asked (lets pretend you asked.)  Besides being just a fun story, the book also selects famous works of modern art to illustrate each animal and feeling in the story.  They are fun, vibrant and engaging pieces that will make your kids stop and notice.  In the back of the book there are short descriptions of each work which will increase your understanding of the picture and the artist - although the descriptions are above the level of a child.

Who this book is for: 
Great book to get kids in touch with their feelings and give them words to express them while making them laugh.  Exposing them to great art just makes this the trifacto of kids books.

Final thoughts: 
Kids can enjoy art when presented in an engaging way.  Get them cultured with this fun story.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: There Are No Animals in This Book (Only Feelings)  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Book For Girls Who Like to Dance

If I had a cupcake for every book I read about baking I would weigh well over 300 lbs.  That is why it was so nice to see a book about dance teams.  While lots of girls love to cook, I know so many that love to dance, and finally a book that touches on the thing they devote their time to.  Of course the author wrote The Cupcake Club first, but I won't hold it against her - or my waistline.

Don't forget to Like One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter to keep up to date on all the books involving the world of dance ... I have to work off that cupcake weight somehow.

Title:       Dance Divas: Showtime!

Author:   Sheryl Berk

Target:    Grades 2-4

Series:     Yes

What this book is about: 
In this first book of the series, four friends are preparing for a dance competition.  While they may bicker among themselves, they are committed to putting their best foot forward on the dance floor.  Turns out the competition is heating up when an old rival of their dance teacher Miss Toni turns up with her City Feet Dance troupe and challenges the girls of Dance Divas.  Will the rivalry between the teacher cause everyone to behave badly, or can the girls compete fair and square?

Why I love this book:  
My daughter has always enjoyed The Cupcake Club series, so I was very excited to see that Sheryl Berk had come out with a series that touches on the world of dance competitions.  I know quite a few young ladies who will find these books particularly relevant (none of them being my daughter who prefers cleats to ballet shoes.)   While I can’t vouch for the authenticity of the dance competition sequences, it felt real to me. Berk does a solid job of writing an engaging story.  

While the series is a bit formulaic, the writing is strong enough that it will appeal to girls who are starting on “real” chapter books.  In fact, they will probably thrive on the predictability.  With an African American and Asian character, Berk nicely expands the visual diversity of the series and in the next installment we get to see boys dancing! (again not my boys, unless it involved playing video games simultaneously)

Who this book is for: 
Girls who participate in dance competitions will particularly enjoy this series.  However, ultimately it is a book about friendship, so girls who enjoy those books will like this new offering.

Final thoughts: 
No the author is not Cheryl Burke from Dancing With the Stars.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Dance Divas: Showtime!  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you so much for your support.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Chess Book For Kids

This week I have a book where kids face off in the ultimate competition.  It's head to head, winner take all.  Only the strong survive and battles can take place over hours or be lost in minutes.  If you don't have the mental toughness you won't make it through the three days it takes to become the ultimate victor.  Oh, and did I mention .... it's chess!

Don't forge to Like One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for all the books where the ultimate throw down is Black Bishop's Pawn to C5 - otherwise known as the Sicilian Defense!  Ok, I may have sort of made that up, but I had you going for a minute ... didn't I?

Title:       Grandmaster

Author:   David Klass

Target:    Grades 5 and up

Series:     No

What this book is about: 
Daniel is a freshman at a private high school.  In middle school he used to be good at lots of things.  Now he is mediocre at everything he once enjoyed.  He joins the chess team in an attempt to make new friends, but chess at this high school is no laughing matter and the most popular kids run the club.  They corner him into entering a father/son chess tournament in New York City when they find out Daniel’s father is a Grandmaster, the highest rank in chess.  The problem - Daniel never even knew his father played chess.  This will weekend will be filled with high stakes chess games and eye opening experiences.

Why I love this book: 
Chess is cool!  Any author who can make a chess tournament an edge of your seat competition is a hero in my book.  Winning is everything and annihilating your competition is encouraged,   The chess sequences were a whole lot of fun and the rivalry was intense.  

There are of course also lessons about father and son relationships and how to treat others which made the book a bit predictable for an older audience  If I have one criticism it would be that I wish the ending hadn’t been so neatly wrapped up, but all in all this book was so good at making chess a riveting game, that I can easily forgive the other.  I couldn’t put it down.

Who this book is for:
You do not have to be a Grandmaster to appreciate this book.  The chess is not overly complex so kids can really enjoy it with simply a basic understanding of the game.  Kids who are not fans of chess will not be able to help being caught up in this competition.  In fact, it may open their eyes to the game.

Final thoughts: 
A competition with athletes of the mind can be just as compelling as a physical battle.  The intensity makes it a can’t put down read.  I made my kids watch Searching For Bobby Fischer after this book.  A great movie!

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

Friday, March 28, 2014

Adventure Book for Kids

Ok, who is up for an adventure or should I say a trip to the unknown filled with danger and intrigue? In this book I profiled last year, our characters are confronted with challenges, both physical and mental, and we root for them to triumph over the bad guy.

 Of course there are always one or two great chase scenes that get the action going, but in the end we love it when our hero or heroine displays the wit and humor needed to prevail.

This is a good one that should get kid's pulses racing and put their imaginations into overdrive.  This is a book kids won't want to put down, so be prepared for some late night reading!


Title:        Spy School

Author:    Stuart Gibbs

Target:     Grades 4-8

Series:      Yes

What this book is about:
Ben Ripley is thrilled and amazed when he is recruited for the C.I.A’s Academy of Espionage, a school for spies in training.  However, when he gets there he knows something is off.  Turns out he wasn’t recruited as a student but as a plant to help catch a mole in the school.  Is he up to the task or will he just be a victim in a bigger plot?

Why I love this book:
This book is a great ride and an exciting mystery.  There are surprises at every turn and the suspense is kept up until the very end when the mole is exposed.  The best review I can give it is that my son couldn’t put it down!

Ben is a well written character who manages this crazy situation with humor and tenacity.  There is a lot of great play on the James Bond concept of spies, and Ben’s goofiness just adds a refreshing humor to the story.

Who this book is for:
Kids who like action, adventure with some humor thrown in.  It is also a good mystery and I think the reader will be surprised by the whodunnit.

Final thoughts:
Great book cover, I just love it when publishers get it right!

To purchase this book: 
Click here to connect to Amazon: Spy School  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.