Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Really Good Historical Fiction

If you read my blog, you know I am a fan of historical fiction.  It is a wonderful opportunity to hear a compelling story and learn something about the events that shaped our present lives.  My kids are so exhilarated when they are in school and have a point of reference for what they are learning based on a story they read.  It enriches the school experience.  That is probably one of the best selling points for me to encourage children to read historical fiction.  Well that and the stories are just plain good.

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Title:The Great Trouble

Author:Deborah Hopkinson

Target:Grade 4-8

Series: No

What this book is about: 
A terrible cholera epidemic begins around the Broad Street well in London in 1854.  As a young orphan, Eel, sees his friends dying and he desperately wants to do something to help.  But what can a boy living off odd jobs and trolling the Thames do to help these people?  It turns out one of his employers, Dr. Snow has a theory that the well, and not the “infected air” are the cause of the problem.  But how do you convince a population who have heard the old wives tales of the dirty air be convinced that the source is a well that they depend on daily?  Well with scientific inquiry of course, and Eel is the only one with enough knowledge and trust of these residents to get the job done.

Why I love this book: 
First off this book is a wonderful blend of actual historical events and fictional characters that bring the story of this cholera epidemic to life.  Kids will be amazed that much of the medical knowledge we take for granted today was unheard of 150 years ago.

I think that Hopkins does a wonderful job of introducing kids to scientific research and how you isolate the causes of disease.  The book teaches this process while kids are caught up in an exciting mystery, and they never even realize what they are learning.

The story itself reminded me of a Dicken's tale as Eel himself is running from the bad guys, helping the doctor and dealing with the injustices of his station in life.  Of course the mystery and adventure in the book takes the lead, so kids will never feel they are being preached to, which I love.

Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who like historical fiction, who are interested in science and who like a good mystery.

Final thoughts: 
Love that the author includes photos and bios of the individuals in the book who are the basis for some of the characters.  Nice to keep the learning going.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, the Blue Death, and a Boy Called Eel  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Funny Early Chapter Book

I love a really good early chapter book.  These books are able to engage newly emergent readers and get then excited about books.  This helps them on the road to becoming book lovers - a goal I have for all your kids.

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Title: The Chicken Squad

Author:Doreen Cronin

Target:Grades 1-3

Series: Yes

What this book is about: 
Dirt, Sugar, Poppy and Sweetie, four chickens living in the yard, get into trouble, lots of trouble.  Of course J. J. Tully the retired rescue dog, who also lives in the yard, gets them out of trouble … often.  In this first adventure the chicken squad is helping a squirrel who is absolutely TERRIFIED of an ENORMOUS object in the yard.  No job is too big or small for these chickens as they work to defeat this giant circular object which might be a UFO and it just might be after their mother … maybe?

Why I love this book: 
The deadpan humor is in full abundance in this series, to my utter delight.  Sometimes this type of humor can be lost on younger kids, but Cronin does a wonderful job of highlighting the obvious and ridiculous to the delight of even the youngest reader.  They will not fail to miss the absurd situations and reactions of this group of chickens.

Kevin Cornell, the illustrator, has been working with some of my favorite authors including Judith Viorst and Mac Barnett and there is a reason.  He perfectly captures the absurd and the sublime of these characters which simply adds to the fun of the text.

If I have one complaint it is simply that the text changes from third person to J. J. Tully which I think is a bit confusing in the middle of the story.  But it is a paltry complaint in the context of a laugh out loud, silly story.

Who this book is for: 
Good for kids who are starting chapter books.  Pictures are on almost every page with challenge words in context with pictures.

Final thoughts: 
Cronin’s first foray into early chapter books with the J. J. Tully Mysteries left me a little cold, but this new emphasis on the Chicken Squad works so well that the old series is now forgotten!

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Fun Graphic Novel for the Younger Set

Now that a graphic novel has won a Newbery honor, I hope that parents and librarians take this genre seriously.  Well not always too seriously as the graphic novel I am profiling today is full of giggles and guffaws!

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Title:Bird & Squirrel On Ice

Author: James Burks

Target:Grade 2-5

Series: Yes

What this book is about: 
Bird and Squirrel are on their second adventure and find themselves at the South Pole.  As they run into a spear wielding penguin, she sees Bird can fly and declares that he is the chosen one who will save the village from the whale.  Bird loves the attention and is happy to take on the task, but Squirrel soon discovers that the penguins intend to feed Bird to the whale.  They now have to get out of their predicament … oh and save the village.

Why I love this book: 
These books never fail to incite laughter from my kids.  Bird is just funny and oblivious enough to keep the laughs coming.  Squirrel is always the voice of reason making these two friends the perfect odd couple.  

I also love that the panels are full color and large enough to see everything.  Half the fun of the book are the expressions on the animals’ faces as they get themselves in and out of trouble.

Who this book is for: 
Great book for kids starting graphic novels.  This series is funny, well drawn and the story arc is well developed.

Final thoughts: 
Can’t wait for more adventures with these two!  Keep ‘em coming!

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

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A Book for Kids To Inspire Change

I have read some wonderful biographies lately for kids.  They deal with being young in war torn countries and they just pull at your heartstrings.  But they are also incredibly inspiring as they show us the resolve and resilience of young people to bring about change.

Taking Flight is a beautiful look at a ballerina from Sierra Leone which I profiled a few weeks ago, and the book I am profiling today, Malala, takes us behind the scenes to the life and struggles of the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Title: I Am Malala

Authors: Malala Yousafzai & Patricia McCormick

Target:Grades 5 and up

What this book is about: 
This book is about Malala, the youngest ever Novel Peace Prize winner.  It profiles her life in Pakistan as the Taliban took control of her town.  It shows how she and her father raised their voices in defense of girls going to school and how she nearly lost her life at the hands of the Taliban.  It also discusses her recovery and what she is doing to make sure girls get an education.

Why I love this book: 
This book was more difficult for me to read because I have children of my own and I could only imagine how Malala’s parents felt.  Of course understanding the courage it took for Malala’s family to stand up for the rights of girls, despite the threats leveled against them, is inspiring.

This book will make any girl appreciate the simple act of receiving and education and reinforce that despite how far women have come in the Western world, they are still so powerless and persecuted in other countries.

It will also educate kids  on what it is like to live in a war zone.  This book is appropriate for children, but it doesn’t shy away from the realities that these families face.

I actually liked the fact that Malala felt young in this book.  It was certainly written with a young girl’s voice because as mature as she is in some ways, she is also quite innocent in others.

Who this book is for:  
This is the young readers edition of the adult book.  It is great for any child who wants to see how different life can be just a plane ride away.  This is a wonderful book to discuss as a family.

Final thoughts: 
The idea that one young person who stands up for her beliefs can affect real change is incredibly powerful. 

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World (Young Readers Edition)  A portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Kid's Book With a Feisty Heroine

I am back from a week of skiing and ready with plenty of new book recommendations.  I got the chance to read a copy of the new book by Newbery winner Rebecca Stead on the plane, which is out later this year, and I will just tell you that it is fabulous.  Review to come!

But today I am celebrating both humor and girl power.  I love a feisty heroine and today's book does not disappoint.  So don't forget to Follow One Great Book on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or by email for all the books that celebrate the offspring of one Captain Hook ... and you thought you knew the whole story!

Title:Hook’s Revenge

Author:Heidi Schulz

Target:Grades 4-8

Series:This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about: 
Jocelyn is the thirteen year old estranged daughter of Captain Hook.  Her grandfather abhors her wild ways, and sends her to finishing school to force the rowdy out of her.  However, Jocelyn continues to harbor fantasies of her fearsome father coming to rescue her and including her on their adventures.  When news of his death by the jaws of the infamous Neverland crocodile reaches her, she is thrust into a adventure to avenge his death.  It turns out to be much more difficult than she ever imagined.

Why I love this book: 
This book is fabulous.  There I said it.  Even if you never wanted to read about pirates (and I can’t say they are at the top of my list) you will be completely entranced by this story. 

Jocelyn is feisty and funny and her turn as a pirate is absolutely delightful.  The narrator in this story is snarky and has a keen distaste for children, which makes him the perfect person to tell the tale and relish in Jocelyn’s pirate ways.  The writing is descriptive and delightful and I was continually impressed by how bitingly funny the story was.

As Jocelyn outwits cannibals, gets mermaids to feel sorry for her (if you have ever met a mermaid you would realize the enormity of this task), and saves a dying fairy, she interacts with all the beloved character from Neverland, who you will see in a whole new light.  Can Peter Pan be any more annoying?

Who this book is for:
Great for kids who like adventure stories and fantasy books, but they also have to like to laugh!

Final thoughts: 
Shiver me timbers, this dog-livered landlubber quite enjoyed this hearty tale.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Hook's Revenge, Book 1 Hook's Revenge  A portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Kid's Book for President's Day

With President's Day arriving, why not use it as an excuse to teach your kids some history.  Today I have a book they can relate to that looks at the US Presidents when they were kids.  Now if you think these men were perfect upstanding little gentlemen ... think again.  They will give you renewed hope that your offspring just might have a chance at the Oval Office.

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Title: Kid Presidents

Author:David Stabler

Target:Grades 3-7

Series: No

What this book is about: 
This book is filled with stories about the American Presidents when they were kids.  It is fun to see that they got into just as much mischief as kids today.  We learn about Teddy Roosevelt’s obsession with natural history, Bill Clinton’s musical abilities and Herbert Hoover’s time living with the Native Americans, to name a few.  Not only that, these kids plucked chickens, scooped ice cream, played pranks on their teachers and got into fights with their siblings.

Why I love this book: 
The kids portrayed in this book seem no different from our kids, which is a fun way to show our children that no matter what, they too can grow up to be President.  The stories are filled with clever illustrations and share a lot of the fun these men had when they were young.

While the author does trace their interest back to things that became important to them as President, this is more of a lighthearted look at history.  I do wish there had been photographs of the Presidents since the book is not laid out in chronological order and kids may not be familiar with all the men being discussed.  However all the stories are funny and it will peak kid’s interest to learn more about these famous men.

Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who are interested in history or the Presidents.  However, given the format of short stories, fun facts and plentiful illustrations, it would also work well for most kids, especially reluctant readers.

Final thoughts: 
I am so ready for the next Presidential trivia contest.  Bring it on.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents  A portion of each purchase goes back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Perfect Alphabet Book

Sometimes I am just in the mood for a great picture book and lo and behold, one of my favorite writers, Michael Escoffier has a new offering.  Perhaps his name is not familiar to you?  His clever work should be.

The Brief Thief was hands down one of my favorite picture books from 2013.  Click on the title to check it out if you want a book that will give your kids a case of the giggles.  It's an infectious disease, so only click on the link if you are ready deal with the laughter that comes from reading this quick-witted story.

But on to the book at hand.  I have literally read hundreds of alphabet books.  Did I think there could possibly be a new take on the ABC's?  No way mister.  I have seen it all .... until now!

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In fact, check out the video preview of the book below!

Title: Take Aways the A

Authors: Michael Escoffier & Kris Di Giacomo

Target: Preschool - Grade 2

What this book is about:  
In this insanely imaginative book, the author removes a letter from a variety of words to show the power of the alphabet.  Plants become Pants, Crab becomes Cab and Witch becomes Itch all to show the importance of each letter.

Why I love this book: 
Oh the litany of Alphabet books out there.  It just makes it all the more exciting when one comes out that taps into a new element of creativity.  This book not only emphasizes the letter taken away, but also shows kids how important the letters are in the words they are using.  

I also cannot say enough about the illustrations.  They are gorgeous. clever and funny with absolute sublime humor.

Who this book is for: 
Wonderful picture book for both younger and older kids.  Preschoolers will enjoy learning their letters and older siblings, who are learning to read, will appreciate getting the humor in the letter removal.  This is one all your kids can enjoy!

Final thoughts: 
Of course Escoffier wrote The Brief Thief, one of my all time favorite picture books, so there was little chance I wouldn’t love this new offering.

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