Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Science Fiction for Kids

Science fiction continues to be a fun theme in kid's literature of late.  I think it's great.  Getting your children to imagine using science for innovative and imaginative ideas is always a win in my book.  These stories are also full of action and adventure, showing that even a science nerd can be apart of daring escapades.

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Also, check out my One Minute Book Talk below for those of you who just want to sit back and be entertained by my book musings.

Title: Six

Author: M. M. Vaughan

Target: Grades 3-7

Series: Not at this time

What this book is about: 
Parker and his sister Emma have moved to the States from England after the death of their mother.  Their father is involved with a top secret project and Parker and his sister are given almost no information about it’s nature.  When their father goes missing and manages to leave them a cryptic message about finding a man no one has seen for three years, they must enlist the help of a very generous friend and open their minds to the possibility of technology they thought was only in the movies.

Why I love this book
  • I am always a fan of science fiction for kids and this story helps kids imagine a world with teleportation and habitable planets in another solar system - very cool.
  • This book is full of action.  Kidnappings and car chases kept me turning pages and I really liked the main characters.  They were nice, a little nerdy but always kind.
  • This book is longer than it needs to be with a lot of extra information and story plots that don’t seem to tie back to anything, but that is a quibble with a story that I found quite engaging.
Who this book is for: 
If you have a child who likes science fiction or books like Tesla’s Attic, then this would be a great title to give them.

Final thoughts: 
The cover was a little strange to me.  The kids seem quite young and the pig, who didn’t play much of a part in the story, is oddly featured.

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

One Minute Book Talk

Monday, February 8, 2016

Great Read Aloud for the Whole Family

Today I have a book that is either a wonderful read aloud or a fabulous early chapter book.  Whichever way you present it to your kids, however, it will be a hit.  This one is laugh out loud funny and the humor will engage the adults every bit as much as the kids.  Ohh ... I like it when that happens.

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And if you find reading this post way too perilous for your health, check out my One Minute Book Talk at the end of this post so you can sit back in comfort while I tell you about this book.  No more reading required.

Title: The Perilous Princess Plot

Author: Sarah Courtauld

Target: Grades 3-5

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Eliza and Lavender are sister who live in the Middle of Nowhere - literally.  It is actually called the Middle of Nowhere.  Lavender has one interest, being a princess.  Eliza has many interest, but we don’t know what those are since she does all the chores while Lavender plays at, you guessed it, being a princess.  One day Lavender decides to run off in search of her prince and gets kidnapped by the evil Mordmont who mistakes her for a real princess.  It is up to Eliza and her trusty stead Gertrude, who did I mention happens to be a goat, to save Lavender.  Well, good luck with that.

Why I love this book:
  • Oh, this one is funny, and I don’t mean a chuckle here and there funny, I mean smart, silly, even adults can’t keep a straight face funny.
  • The creativity abounds in this story.  Think bedtime stories that end in death and mayhem, sisters who save the day and singing that will take you to new heights of revulsion.  
  • The language choices in this story are brilliant.  If you want to expose your child to a broad and interesting vocabulary, this book will have them using vanquish, pluck, calamity and chasm and those are just from the first chapter!
  • This book won oodles of award in the UK, and those folks know funny.
Who this book is for: 
Please don’t let the Princess in the title dissuade you from selling or reading this book to boys.  This story falls squarely in the anyone will enjoy it category.  It makes an incredible read aloud or simply read the first chapter to your kids and they will be clamoring for the more.  Well, you might be too.  You have been warned. 

Final thoughts: 
I really wish they hadn’t changed the name from Buckle and Squash and the Monstrous Moat Dragon when it was published in the UK.  I mean come on, who doesn’t love a a good moat dragon and a monstrous one at that!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Buckle and Squash: The Perilous Princess Plot  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

One Minute Book Talk

Friday, February 5, 2016

Kid Books for President's Day

President's Day is right around the corner so I thought I would share some of my favorite books on the subject.  With the impending election, this is a great time to talk with kids about the role of the Presidency and our government.  Just how does the someone get the job and what role did our Founding Father's play in the government that exists today?  Heady stuff, but I know you can handle it.

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Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman

I adore the quirky style of the author Maira Kalman as she tackles our 16th President.  Kids will learn about his beliefs in freedom, the cost of war and Lincoln's search for justice and truth.  They will also learn that he loved vanilla cake and that his tall hat held his notes.  A book that perfectly marries the humor of the man with seriousness of the times.  It is a permanent addition to our home library.

Where Do Presidents Come From?: And Other Presidential Stuff of Super Great Importance by Michael Townsend 

This is a hilarious comic book version of the founding of our democracy all the way to explaining what presidents actually do!  Kids learn about the daily life of a president, the pros and cons of the job, how Washington scored the position and even some very useful things including the three branches of government, the electoral college and the Constitution.  The best part is that the book is so well done that kids will read it willingly!  It's a President's Day miracle.

See How They Run: Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes, and the Race to the White House by Susan E. Goodman 

This book is a lighthearted civics class on the history of our democracy, how the system works and interesting facts on the road to the White House.  It is filled with anecdotes, colorful illustrations and side bars with interesting tidbits.  This is the perfect example of how a complex topic can be written in a funny and comprehensive way for kids.  One of my sons has read this book three times - just for fun!

Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents (Kid Legends)by David Stabler

This book is filled with stories about the American Presidents when they were kids.  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.  These future presidents plucked chickens, scooped ice cream, played pranks on their teachers and got into fights with their siblings.  This is a fun way to show our children that no matter what, they too can grow up to be President!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Girl's Guide to Paris

Well, in the theme of love and impeding Valentine's Day, what could be more romantic than Paris, the city of lights1  In the book I am profiling today, girls get to follow a treasure hunt through this fabled city.  It may inspire a few pleas for a trip, but summer vacation is right around the corner ...

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Title: My Secret Guide to Paris

Author: Lisa Schroeder

Target: Grades 4-7 

Series: No 

What this book is about: 
Nora’s grandmother has fostered a love of Paris in Nora.  They have planned a trip together, but before they can go, Nora’s grandmother is taken from her in an accident.  Nora is heartbroken, but when she finds the tickets and a treasure hunt planned by her grandmother around the city of lights, she knows she needs to make the trip.  Convincing her mother to take her, however, is another story.  Her mother and grandmother didn’t have the best relationship, so maybe this trip can help heal all of them, and provide some delicious chocolate and macarons in the process!

Why I love this book: 
This book was a cute and fun romp around the city of Paris.  I loved the treasure hunt aspect of the story.  Each place is somewhere you can visit if you are fortunate enough to make the trip.  Howe fun would it be to find the many places in the story and taste many of their delicious delicacies?  But even if you don’t have a trip planned, any Francophile would love to hear of Nora’s adventures.

I have to admit that the rift between the mother and grandmother in this book felt a bit forced.  I had a little trouble understanding why the mom was so reluctant to do anything associated with the grandmother, and the explanation didn’t quite seem adequate.  But this is a small quip and the story itself was quite entertaining.

Who this book is for: 
This book is for any girl who dreams of Paris!  It is a light quick read that will have kids dreaming of chocolate chaud and croissants.

Final thoughts: 
This would be such a fun book to give kids before a trip to Paris, although you might get roped into seeing The Musee de la Poupee (Doll Museum).

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: My Secret Guide to Paris  A portion of each purchase will got support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Can't Miss Valentine's Day Book for Kids

Well Valentines Day is just around the corner and along with chocolate hearts and cards, why not get your children a book that puts a little love in their hearts?  Today I have a wonderful new addition to the Here Comes Cat series that is just as delightful as the other books and perfect for any kid who thinks Valentine's Day may not be for them.

Please check out my One Minute Book Talk below for more on this fabulous story.

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Title: Here Comes Valentine Cat

Author: Deborah Underwood

Target: Preschool - Grade 3

Series: Yes!

What this book is about: 
Cat is back and this time he is rejecting all the mushy confines of the holiday.  Add to that a new neighbor, Dog, who is howling and chucking bones and balls over the fence, and Cat is in no mood to send a Valentine.  However, when Cat gets a Valentine from Dog, he learns that perhaps Dog’s mean behavior was really something else after all.  Just maybe Cat can craft a Valentine for Dog that might not be too mushy!

Why I love this book:
  • This story is told as a conversations between the narrator who speaks and cat who expresses himself through signs and well placed facial expressions.   Their back and forth is priceless as the narrator tries to convince Cat that Dog isn’t that bad and Cat remains convinced that a trip to space for Dog is the only option.
  • I always think there must be a dud in this series, but with four books each one is as charming as the next.
  • I love it when a book has intelligent humor that translates so well for both kids and adults.
Who this book is for: 
Any kid who loves the other Cat books will not be disappointed.  If your kids like Pete the Cat, this one will also be a hit.  Of course, readers have to like laughing or forget it, this is not the book for them.

Final thoughts: 
There should be a gift set with all four books which I would buy in bulk for baby showers.  Every kid should get to know Cat!

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

One Minute Book Talk

Friday, January 29, 2016

Book to Read if Your Child Liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid

The Tapper Twins are back and better than ever.  If your kids haven't discovered this fun new series that follows Claudia and Reese through a hilarious sibling rivalry and plenty of mayhem then what are they waiting for?  Times a wasting!

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Title: The Tapper Twins Tear Up New York

Author: Geoff Rodkey

Target: Grades 3-6

Series: Yes, this is the second book in the series

What this book is about: 
Well we are reunited with twins Claudia and Reese as they decide to put together a scavenger hunt around New York City as a school project to earn money for charity.  These two are competitive as ever.  Reese brings his sense of humor and love of computer games to the race.  Claudia makes sure to stay organized and bring along her “not really her boyfriend” Jens.  As they hunt down Cronuts, run through central park and search for 99 cent pizza, they are on an adventure they could never imagine.  Let’s just say the scavenger hunt will not be a recurring event if school administrators (and the police) have anything to say about it.

Why I love this book: 
  • I quite enjoyed the first book, The Tapper Twins Go to War, but this one was even better.  Who doesn’t love a treasure hunt?  Seeing how these kids wrangled a series of challenges was laugh out loud funny.
  • One of the best parts was the inclusion of the school mascot, a small stuffed animal that had to be used in every photo during the hunt.  What happens to the poor little guy on Reeses’ team is both sad and hilarious.
  • This book uses pictures, text messages and newspaper clippings to help tell the story and the ones selected for this book were perfect.  
Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who are fans of Wimpy Kid.  It is especially nice for reluctant readers because the format is less conventional and not at all intimidating.  You do not have to have read the first book to enjoy the second.

Final thoughts: 
Love that The Tapper Twins Run for President will be out before the next big election … nice!

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Seventh Most Important Thing

I was quite skeptical of this book.  A boy with a dead father, out of nowhere throws a brick at a junkman passing by.  It had all the makings of a story that felt cliche and full of angst.  Not the stuff I usually enjoy.  But this one threw me a curve out of left field, and boy was I hooked.  I am a little bit manic about modern art so this book went right to passion.  But you don't have to be an artist or even an art fanatic to enjoy this story, and in the end that is what makes is a great read.

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Title: The Seventh Most Important Thing

Author: Shelley Pearsall

Target: Grade 5 -8

Series: No

What this book is about:  
A junk man is wandering around picking up trash, when thirteen year old Arthur Owens suddenly picks up a brick and throws it at the man’s head.  It misses his head but shatters his arm, and Arthur, a boy who has never been in trouble before, is suddenly sent to juvenile hall.  The junk man believes that Arthur has saved him, and works out a deal where Arthur can work for him as his community service.  Arthur finds out that the junk man is not collecting trash after all, but really the seven most important things.

Why I love this book:

- First off this book is based on a work of art produced by the real “junk man” which is exhibited at the Smithsonian in Washington DC.  I love that while the story is fiction, the actual art is on display for kids to see and this book will give them insight into the mind of an artist.

-I very much enjoyed how this story developed.  The reader is roped in with the crime at the beginning of the book and slowly we understand why Arthur threw the brick and how his work with the junk man will save him.

-While there are religious undertones to the art, the author never takes it too far, so no matter what your beliefs you can enjoy this story.

Who this book is for: 
I have been told that kids who like Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass would enjoy this book.  Kids who like realistic fiction will find this story a good fit.  This book does a wonderful job a reeling kids into the story within the first two pages.

If you are going to Washington DC them this would be a wonderful book to share with kids.  How fun would it be to go see the artwork in the museum after having read the book?

Final thoughts: 
This book absolutely surprised me.  I didn’t think I would be interested in the premise, but wow does Shelley Pearsall real you in.  She has two small pictures in the book of the actual artwork, but they are black and white.  I had a lot more fun looking it up on the internet after reading the story!

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