Friday, August 28, 2015

Now This Is an Alphabet Book!

When I came across a book titled Rad American Women, I wondered if it could really live up to it's name.  Well, no problem there!  The women profiled in this book include punk rockers, migrant workers and artists.  Role models can come from so many different places and I love that the idea of being smart, capable and courageous is what makes us rad!

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Title: Rad American Women A-Z

Author: Kate Schatz

Target: Grades 3-7

Series: No

What this book is about: 
This book profiles strong, heroic American women who made an impact on the lives of the people around them.  There is a woman for each letter of the alphabet and starts with Angela Davis who fought out against racism and sexism and ends with Zora Neale Hurston, an anthropologist and author.  Most of these women will be unknown to your children, but they were courageous and impactful.  Schatz includes women of color, and almost every ethnicity.  She includes a transgender woman who is educating others against bullying through her international books and plays.  There is even a profile on Carol Burnett who changed the face of women in comedy on television.

Why I love this book: 
There are so many women who have fought unheralded throughout the ages.  These women may not be attractive in the conventional sense, they don’t often come from money and their causes are not glamorous so they get little attention.  Schatz has changed that and celebrates their strength and perseverance, all qualities we hope for in our daughters.

The artwork by Mirian Stahl is bold and graphic and absolutely fits the mood of the stories.  There is nothing preachy here and Stach does a wonderful job of simply presenting us with the facts from these women’s incredible lives.

Who this book is for: 
I have targeted it third grade and up because the format of a two page spread with drawing on one page and description on the next makes this an easy read for kids.  However you need to have discussed or be willing to discuss issues of racism, sexism, gender identification and the meaning of gay with your kids if you give them this book.

Final thoughts: 
I would love to see more of these women represented on Famous American day in Third Grade.  I am happy to report my daughter did the woman representing the letter N - Nellie Bly for her report several years ago.  She was the first female investigative reporter and while our teachers hadn’t heard of her then, they have now!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Rad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! (City Lights/Sister Spit)  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Early Reader to Get Kids Excited About Books

You would think that with lots of pictures and a limited number of word choices, that early readers wouldn't be that hard to write.  You would be wrong!  I see so many done poorly that when a great one comes along I get giddy ... yes actually giddy!

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Title: What This Story Needs Is a Pig In a Wig

Author: Emma J. Virjan

Target: Preschool - Grade 1

Series: This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about:  
Pig has a wig and a boat.  Slowly her friends begin the join her in the boat until it gets so full they might sink.  She sends all her friends away until she is all alone, and that isn’t very fun.  What this story needs is a bigger boat!

Why I love this book:  
The bold illustrations will draw readers right into the story.  The text is simple so that beginning readers will easily feel successful in navigating this book.  The best part is that the story is descriptive and humorous so that readers will be anxious to see how pig will handle this situation!

Who this book is for: 
Great for kids just learning to read.  Few words on every page that repeat and corresponding pictures make this a lovely early reader.

Final thoughts: 
It is so hard to create beginning readers that are truly fun and compelling for kids.  When I see a good one I get so excited.  A Pig in a Wig is a winner!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon:vWhat This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig (A Pig in a Wig Book)  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Step Right Up and Read Circus Mirandus

I've got one this week which has rumblings of the Newbery award around it.  Whether that turns out to be the case or not, Circus Mirandus is a wonderful book with a dreamlike, magical quality to it.  It has been so well received that the movie rights have already been purchased.  So make sure you read it soon, because as you know, the book is always better than the movie!

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Title: Circus Mirandus

Author: Cassie Beasley

Target: Grade 4-7

Series: No

What this book is about: 
Micah’s grandfather Ephram is dying and he is the sole caregiver for Micah.  His great aunt Gertrudis, who every bit as bad as her name implies, comes to care for Micah and his grandfather.  She makes life miserable for everyone around her, a perfectly perfect villain.  But when Micah learns that his grandfather has a wish that was granted to him during a trip to a magical circus and that he now wants to use it, Micah is hopeful  that maybe, just maybe his grandfather can be cured.  The stories and magic that Micah believed in all these years surely must be real enough to help!

Why I love this book: 
I went into this read a little worried that it would be too sad for me.  I love a good chuckle to accompany my stories and a dying grandfather just didn’t feel like a barrel of laughs.  

However, while this story does have some heartbreaking moments, it was absolutely wonderful for me.  It weaves a family history of magic and intrigue into a story of a boy who is looking to save the most wonderful person in his life by summoning the magic that has ignited the imagination of children who are willing to believe.

The characters and their motivations are beautifully complex and drive the story to unexpected places.  I think kids will be surprised and fascinated at the outcomes and they will want to believe because believing takes you to much more interesting places.

Who this book is for:  
Great for kids who enjoyed books by Road Dahl, because in his books there exist both disappointment and hope.  

Final thoughts: 
I was never particularly fond of the circus, but Circus Mirandus made me a believer.

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

Monday, August 17, 2015

Teen Novel Full of Intrigue

Ok, it's the end of the summer break and your kids have been reading all summer ... right?  Well if they have, bravo!  If not, times a wasting, so get a good book in their hands pronto.  It is never too late to read about murder and mayhem in our Nation's capital.  See, now don't you feel better.

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Title: The Fixer

Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Target: Grades 7 and up

Series: This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about: 
Tess Kendrick lost her parents when she was young has been living with her grandfather on their farm.  When alzheimer’s takes over her grandfather, her older sister, who has been absent most of her life, takes Tess in.  Turns out that her sister Ivy is what is called a “fixer” in Washington.  Ivy gets things done for the people in power who need it the most.  As Tess befriends other kids of powerful Washington players, they come to her with their problems thinking she possesses the same skill set as her dear old sis.  But Tess hasn’t forgiven Ivy for abandoning her and doesn’t want to follow in Ivy’s footsteps.  The trouble is, the problems she learns about are just too big to walk away from.  Can she do this on her own and help her friends?

Why I love this book: 
Oh, this one was full of intrigue and suspense.  The chapters are short and always seem to end just when I wanted to know more.  How clever you are Jennifer Barnes!

The premise was a bit far fetched, but it worked.  Think a teen version of Scandal.  I am happy to report that the book is not littered with romance.  That would have felt far too calculated with everything else that is going on so it was fun to keep the focus on Washington power brokers and solving the mystery of the dead Supreme Court Justice.  This one is an edge of your seat read, so be prepared to have your teen stay up way past their bedtime.

Who this book is for: 
Any kid who liked the Allly Carter books or The Naturals will certainly enjoy this one.  This is smart thriller for kids who like intelligent action.  There are a few murders in the book so if you have kids on the younger side, you were warned.

Final thoughts: 
Teens will get their reading “fix” with this one.  Get it?

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

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Baseball Book for Kids

Hey batter batter ....   Yes, I love a good baseball book.  Surprising, I know, but with a husband who gave me season tickets to the Orioles for our first anniversary, it was get on board or be left behind.  Spending every Sunday at the ballpark helped give me a new appreciation for the game although I still think it should only be seven innings (don't let my husband read this!)

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Title: Wild Pitch

Author: Cal Ripken, Jr.

Target: Grades 3-5

Series: Yes

What this book is about: 
Robbie used to be the best the pitcher in the league, but now his team is calling him Ball Four.  He can’t seem to make a strike if his life depends on it.  What they don’t know is that in a recent all star game, he hit a batter so hard that he sent him to the hospital. He just hasn’t trusted his control since.  When Robbie meets a kid who recently lost an arm in an accident, it turns out that while he may not be able to play little league (yet) he can help Robbie get back his mojo.  But it won’t be easy.

Why I love this book: 
I tend to veer away from books written by famous folks.  They are usually not the best.  But in this case, Cal Ripken has teamed with the talented Kevin Cowherd and they have put together an engaging narrative.  The baseball action in the book was comprehensive and kids who play will enjoy those sequences. 

I also enjoyed the underlying story of Robbie getting his head back in the game.  The team engaged in just enough ribbing and support to feel authentic and I liked that Robbie’s parents were there for him and encouraging.   

Who this book is for: 
Great baseball book for kids who play the game.  

Final thoughts: 
Good stuff coming out from famous players these days.  I have also quite enjoyed the Derek Jeter series.  Good job guys!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Cal Ripken, Jr.’s All Stars Wild Pitch  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.

Monday, August 10, 2015

A Sweet Read for Teens

Today I have a great book for the older middle school child.  This book looks at our perceptions of weight and beauty along with a little death and mayhem.  All in a days work!

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Title: Sweet

Author: Emmy Laybourne

Target: Grades 8 and up

Series: This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about: 
Laurel accepts an invitation from her best friend to go on a cruise where Solu, the newest diet sweetener will be introduced.  It promises great things.  However because of seasickness, Laurel is unable to try the new sweetener.  Tom, who is a teenage Ryan Seacrest, is hired to promote the cruise and the new product, but his intense healthy regime means that he won’t put anything in his body that isn’t natural.  As Laurel and Tom are part of a small number of individuals who are not on Solu, they can see that the effects of the sweetener after the initial weight drop are not quite right.  People are on edge, fighting and they appear more and more addicted to Solu.  What started out as a luxurious cruise is now turning into a nightmare.

Why I love this book: 
Ok, this book is not for the timid.  Things get pretty gruesome on the ship, but I will say that Laybourne stays away from detailing the atrocities and simply implies.  She lets our imaginations do the rest.  

I loved the original premise of this book.  The idea that there is some fast and easy way to loose weight is obviously questioned in the story, as is our need to go to such extremes to simply be thin.  The story is told from alternating viewpoints of Laurel and Tom so we see both their perspectives.  The idea that a romance takes hold in this scenario is a bit far fetched, but so is the story, so it works.

The book reads well and I was hooked from the start.  This is an edge of your seat thriller, but you have to be prepared for a little social horror.

Who this book is for: 
Great for kids who like adventure, humor, romance and more than a few deaths in their stories.  The originality of the book kept reminding me of another interesting premise in the book Bubble World, which also examines body image.

Final thoughts: 
This is a faced paced story that your kids will not want to put down.

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

Friday, August 7, 2015

Fun Early Chapter Book Series

Yes, sometimes even I am late to the party.  The series I am looking at today has been around a while, but I am just getting to it.  Perhaps it's because the early titles just didn't inspire me, perhaps I just had too much on my plate but as I like to say, better late than never!

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Title: GameTime, Mallory!

Author: Laurie Friedman

Target: Grades 2-4

Series: Yes

What this book is about: 
Mallory is in fourth grade and when she gets a flyer about a new girl’s basketball league she is so excited to join.  She has never been on a team before and she can’t wait to try it.  But when her best friends decide not to try out, and the two girls she hates in her class turn out to be on her team, her enthusiasm is diminished.  Add to that her lack of ability in basketball, and she isn’t so sure this team is for her.  But she works hard, and despite being the weakest player, she realizes that there are some benefits to playing together.

Why I love this book: 
This series has been around for quite some time, I just hadn’t had the chance to pick it up.  However, the new cover with the main character Mallory on a basketball team motivated me to give this book a try.  My daughter is a soccer player, and after seeing her positive experience with team sports and the role models she has with the Women’s National Soccer Team, I know what a benefit sports can be for girls.  This book did not disappoint.

I love that Friedman made Mallory the worst player.  She improves with hard work but so many girls are scared to try sports because they don’t want to be bad at something.  This book will let them see they can get benefits from a team, even if they aren’t the star.  

Who this book is for: 
Great for girls moving up from beginning chapter books.  While there are many books in the series, you do not have to read them in order.

Final thoughts: 
I wish I had discovered this series when my daughter was younger!

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