Friday, November 21, 2014

Fun Elementary School Series for Grades 3-5

My daughter pulled out a series I hadn't thought of in a while and she fell in love with it.  She read all nine books in rapid succession and it left me scratching my head about why I hadn't grabbed it for her sooner.  It reminded me that even though I may have recommended a series in the past, if your child wasn't ready for it yet, it probably went right over your head.

That's why it is nice to comb through the archives and revisit books that may have been published a few years back, but still remain great reads.  This week I am highlighting the series my daughter reminded me is a wonderful book for elementary school girls.  She is so good to have around!

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Title:The Sisters Eight

Author:Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Target:Grades 3-5

Series:Yes

What this book is about: 
On New Year’s Eve a set of octuplets wait for their parents, but their parents never show up.  It seems that they have disappeared.  The girls find a strange note that says they must each find their power and a gift to reveal what has happened to their parents.  Since the girls are desperate to reunite their family and they don’t want to be separated, they must continue to live as though their parents are home, not letting the outside world know that these eight sisters are fending for themselves.  Each book profiles one sister as they search for their power and their gift.

Why I love this book: 
First off the premise of eight octuplet sisters is just charming.  Each girl has her own look and personality and I found my daughter discussing each one with her friends.    

I also think kids secretly like the idea of being able to fend for themselves without parents.  There is something empowering about the girls having to cook, clean and pay bills for on their own and I imagine most kids harbor that fantasy, for a short period of time.

This book also had a good adventure and mystery.  I am anxious to find out the powers of the other sisters as well as the top secret project the girl’s mother was working on.  I think they may be related (I’m quick that way with books)

Who this book is for:
The books have cute illustrations throughout.  The series is a nice step up from early chapter books, but it doesn't feel intimidating.  

Final thoughts:
The Sister’s Eight has nine books in the series.  I just thought that was funny for a series with eight in the title, but it takes little to amuse me.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Annie's Adventures (Sisters 8, Book #1)  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Mix it Up With Kids

Many of you are aware of that very successful picture book Press Here which has become a toddler sensation.  Written and illustrated by the exceedingly talented Herve Tullet it became a best seller many times over.  Well he has a new book out aimed at the younger crowd, and in this one he tackles the color wheel.  With the same interactive humor he gets kids pressing, shaking and stomping to learn what happens when colors combine!

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Title:Mix it Up

Author:Herve Tullet

Target: Preschool - Kindergarten

What this book is about: 
This is a hands on book about mixing colors.  Kids will learn the basics that yellow and blue make green as well as how white lightens and black darkens colors.  Kids are asked to pretend to put red paint on a blue dots and then turn the page to see what happens.  They are asked to shake the book to see how the colors mix.  When they close the book to press two paints dots together they get to see the combinations that are made.

Why I love this book: 
This book is a lovely way to get kids involved in the storytelling.  In this case they will not only learn that red and yellow make orange, they actually pretend to mix the colors to produce orange. The best part is that you don’t have to actually get the paints out but the kids will still be mixing and shaking just the same.  Big reward for no clean up!  However I can’t guarantee that the kids will not be inspired to take their own paints out.

Herve Tullet always does a lovely job of getting kids to participate in the stories he writes.  I love that readers are not passive listeners but active participants in the learning process.

Who this book is for: 
All kids should enjoy this one.

Final thoughts: 
Tullet is the author of the wildly successful Press Here.  That book uses the same techniques to get kids involved, but this new story is more focused on teaching than entertainment. 

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

History Made Fun For Kids

I just love books that make history interesting for kids.  I always like a little learning served up with a good story.  Graphic novels do history extremely well, but the book I am profiling today is all narrative and it is engaging.  Of course it serves up history with it's own twist - the tragic and often gruesome ends to some of history's most famous figures.

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Title:How They Croaked

Author:Georgia Bragg

Target:Grades 5 and up

Series: Yes

What this book is about: 
This book is about famous people from history who were passionate about their interests.  The twist is of course that we find out how they croaked.  From King Tut to Elizabeth I to Albert Einstein, we learn about the disgusting and putrid ways in which they met their end.  For most of the historical figures profiled, the science of healing was so bad that their treatment was often worse and more deadly than their ailment.  But we also learn about the times in which they lived and are reminded about their amazing accomplishments and discoveries.

Why I love this book:
Each historical figures gets about a five page spread with engaging illustrations.  I was reminded of long forgotten historical happenings in such an entertaining way, although I can’t discount the serious “ick” factor involved in describing their demise.  

This book is also an account of how medicine has changed over the years.  It does show how  learning about the importance of basic hygiene is so imperative in preventing illness and the arcane and ridiculous ways doctors administered medicine in the past.

Who this book is for: 
Great for most kids, however, anyone with a squeamish tummy should steer clear of this one.  If your kids enjoyed A Tale Dark and Grimm, then this book will be right up their alley.

Final thoughts: 
What a unique and deadly way to teach history!  

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Book That Teaches Kids What the World Eats

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I thought the book I am profiling today was particularly timely.    It gives kids an incredible perspective of what food consumption is like, not only in other countries, but also for families with different resources.  Your children will see their abundant table in a new light.

I did a post a few years back on books that help kids make smarter food choices.  Some of the books I  profiled were adaptations of adult books such as Omnivore's Dilemma.  Now that we are so removed from the origin of our food choices, it is important to help kids understand what their food selections mean.  Check out that post here: Books That Help Kids Make Better Food Choices

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Title:What the World Eats

Author:Faith D’Aluisio and Peter Menzel

Target: Grades 4-8

Series:No

What this book is about: 
This book chronicles in photographs and text what families around the world eat in a typical week.  It moves all around the globe from Chad to Australia, from France to Guatemala and from China to the US.  The photographs of the families surrounded by their weekly food allowance is humbling and telling about the how they procure their food, how they choose what to eat and how they gage their economic prosperity.

Why I love this book:  
My daughter cannot stop looking through all the pictures in this book.  It is a wonderful jumping off point to talk about nutrition, food choices and the lives of these families in other countries.  

When she sees what a family in a refuge camp in Chad has for a week in contrast to a family in the US, it is eye opening.  She is also amazed at the amounts of fruits and vegetables in Guatemala where they harvest their own food in contrast to Greenland where fruits and vegetables are mostly canned and they have no fertile land.  The amount of packaged food in industrialized nations is also shocking and the pictures provide a fascinating and straightforward way of communicating food choices with kids.

This book was introduced to my son by his fifth grade teacher several years ago.  On a trip to Norway, the book was featured in the gift shop at the Nobel Peace Prize Museum and my kids spent almost a half hour going through it.  I was afraid they were going to make us buy it or kick us out.  (For the record I would have been happy to buy it there, but it is heavy and I didn’t know how to fit it in my suitcase!)  So we got it when we returned home, and it has seen constant use ever since.

Who this book is for: 
Great for most kids.  The pictures will speak to younger kids and the charts on obesity, access to water, meat consumption, etc. will appeal to older kids.

Final thoughts:  
I adore books that take kids out of their reality.  This book does a beautiful job, without being preachy, of showing kids what life is really like for others who don’t share in the benefits that they do.  This book is the kid’s version of the adult book, Hungry Planet.

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

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Perfect Book for Reluctant Readers

I have to admit that it is rare for me to read a whole series.  There are so many new books out there, that once I have read the first and second books (and on a rare occasion the third) I usually call it day.  So it must mean something when I read the fourth, yes the fourth book in a series about Charlie Joe Jackson, reluctant reader extraordinaire!

His books are fun and I was so curious to see where the author was going to take this character that I broke down and had to read this latest book.  As always these books are great for kids who tend not to want to read, but they are also great entertainment for kids who devour books.  These are some of my can't miss choices for kids, so you heard me, don't miss them.

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Title:Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Making Money

Author:Tommy Greenwald

Target:Grades 4-7

Series:Yes

What this book is about: 
Charlie Joe Jackson MUST have the latest gadget out there, the Botman.  However, his parents are not inclined to buy it for him and he doesn’t have the cash to get it himself.  This means he will have to earn the money, and as we have learned from Charlie Joe’s past books, work is not really his thing.  After a disastrous turn with a dog walking business, he decides to throw a bar mitzvah for himself where the gifts (I mean checks) will provide him with ample funds.  The problem - he is not Jewish!   So Charlie makes other arrangements to become a man.

Why I love this book: 
Tommy Greenwald started this series to highlight a boy who would do anything not to read a book.  It was a wonderful concept and the books that followed have been funny and perfect for reluctant readers.  

In his last book he had come to the end of the “disliking books” story line so I was anxious to see what he would do next with Charlie Joe.  He found a wonderful segue with the concept of making money and continued to tap into his character’s reluctance to do anything the right way the first time.  Of course trying to avoid the right thing always brings Charlie Joe more trouble and work than if he had just done the right thing from the start, but that is what makes Charlie Joe so charming.

This book felt a little on the slim side.  I do think the story could have been developed more, he could have added more humorous financial tips and the idea of charity could have been built up.  But this book will please Charlie Joe Jackson fans.

Who this book is for: 
As always, these books are great for reluctant readers who like realistic fiction.  Charlie Joe is a charismatic character and the chapters are set up as quick reads.  The books do not have to be read in order.

Final thoughts: 
Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy you a funny read - this book of course!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Making Money (Charlie Joe Jackson Series)  A portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dance Book for Kids

Today I have a memoir that I can't wait to share with you.  Yes, I said memoir!  The subject of this book may be just old enough to vote, but the life she has lead is inspiring.  Whether your child is a dancer or simply has a passion that inspires them, this book will show the determination, perseverance, love and indeed luck that surrounds success.  Meet Michaela and you will feel blessed by what you have and what she was able to do despite the most treacherous of early lives.

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Title:Taking Flight

Author:Michaela De Prince

Target:Grades 6 and up

Series:No

What this book is about: 
This is a memoir of Michaela, whose parents were killed in war torn Sierra Leone.  She is put in an orphanage where she is referred to as number 27 and she sees disease and death all around her.  Michaela finds an old ballet magazine at the orphanage and is mesmerized by the ballerina on the cover and this is were her dreams of dance begin.  When she is adopted at the age of 4 by an American couple they foster her love of dance as she works to become one of a very few number of female black dancers to compete for a position as a classical ballerina.

Why I love this book: 
To see how her life began and then where she ended up is absolutely inspiring.  Her life in Sierra Leone is brutal and kids have to be prepared for some accounts of death that were the reality for Michaela at the time.  However, her journey is full of hope and honest self evaluation which makes her a very endearing figure.

The book touches on her issues of being a black ballet dancer in a predominately white field, but in the end the book is not about race.  It is more an honest look at her situation.  This book should be inspiring for any kid that doesn’t fit the mold of what is typical for their passion.

Who this book is for: 
Wonderful book for girls who love dance, but it does transcend simply a dance book. I think most girls will be moved by her story and amazed by what she had to endure and what she accomplished.

Final thoughts: 
Michaela was one of the dancers featured in the documentary film First Position.  I watched the film after reading the book and it was wonderful.  Definitely a film the whole family can enjoy.  I have included the trailer at the end of this blog.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Chapter Books for 2015

This is my last installment from my visit with publishers in San Francisco this week to see the books coming out in Winter and Spring of 2015.  Again a hearty thanks to Baker and Taylor for hosting the event.

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Chapter Books




Mark of the Thief by Jennifer Nielsen
Fans of the Transcendent Trilogy (that would be The False Prince series) rejoice.  Jennifer Nielsen has a new series on the horizon.  It was described as Game of Thrones for middle school - how intriguing is that?  It has all the makings of a hit: conspiracy against the emperor, spies at every turn and a magic amulet.  I'm in!




Flunked by Jen Calonita
Ok, this isn't an award winner, but it sounded like a lot of fun.  When Gilly gets caught stealing she is send to Fairy Tale Reform School where all the teachers are former super scary villains.  But of course there is a bigger battle brewing (isn't there always.)  Liked the take on reworking fairytales and the cover is great.


















Tombquest by Michael Northrop
This is Scholastic's latest series that uses a multi technology platform.  Kids can read the book and then go online for more activities.  This series is meant to fill the niche of 39 Clues, but with an Egyptian mythological theme.  These are always a hit with kids and I am thrilled that this series will stick with one writer as opposed to their habit of pulling in different writers for each installment.




















Undertow by Michael Buckley
Ok, I love Michael Buckley.  I think his Sisters Grim series is just genius and my boys quite enjoyed his Nerds books.  This story looks like a significant change for him as he enters a dystopian world where earth is invaded by ocean dwelling warriors.  Ok, it sounds out there, but I have faith in Buckley so I am anxious to get my hands on this one.





Dinosaur Boy by Cory Putman Oakes
This was described as Wonder with dinosaurs.  Sawyer inherits a dinosaur gene and suddenly sprouts a tail.  The bullies are out in force until they disappear and Sawyer's initials relief turns into an obligation to help them.  I am skeptical given that the cover of this book looks like it should be an early reader but I will give it a try when it comes out.





All Fall Down by Ally Carter
A new series from Ally Carter is always something to cheer about.  This one takes place on embassy row and involves international intrigue and murder.  If it is as good as her other series, we are in for a treat.