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!

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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.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Graphic Design for Kids

Kids are constantly expressing themselves visually.  Whether they produce a poster for a class election, write a cereal box book report, doodle in their math binder (yes Will, I'm talking to you) or help make their room feel like an extension of themselves .... they are making design choices.

This book will help them understand how to make choices and how the choices other people make affect them.  Perhaps even parents will learn some secrets!

Don't forget to Like One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for books that help your kids manipulate, I mean influence others.

Title:       Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design

Author:   Chip Kidd

Target:    Grade 5 and up

What this book is about: 
Graphic design is everywhere.  You are being influenced every day by the things you see, so wouldn’t it be cool to understand how these design choices can change your behavior?  From scale to stripes, from color to symmetry, from typeface to negative space, how can readers create designs that cause an action and reaction?  

Why I love this book:  
This book will change the way kids look at posters, book jackets and basic logos around them.  Kidd does a wonderful job of showing us how the things we take for granted influence the way we respond.  

The visuals in this book are really the shining stars.  They clearly illustrate the concepts he is trying to teach and they are just as captivating as intended.  This guy is good … really good.

Who this book is for: 
This book is wonderful for both adults and kids.  That said, this book will probably go over the head of kids before fifth grade who are not design geeks.  The terminology and examples are just too sophisticated.  For kids who are interested in art and graphic design, this book will be eye opening.

Final thoughts: 
Love the front cover - a stop sign with the word “GO” in it.  Just another way a design choice can get us intrigued in a book.  Hey, it got me!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Rev Your Engines - A Book For Kids Who Love Cars

You know how I love a fun picture book, one with giggles and guffaws galore.  Well, today I have one that should put a smile on the face of the grumpiest curmudgeon, the most downtrodden malcontent, the whiniest bellyacher .... are you getting the picture yet?  Please only read this book if you and your child are ready to chuckle together.  if you don't have that kind of relationship, well, this is not the book for you.  You have been warned.

Don't forget to Like One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for books that make you chortle.  Not laugh, not giggle but chortle, because isn't that just an awesome word.  So good I had to use it twice.

Title:       Mitchell’s License

Author:   Hallie Durand

Target:    Preschool - Grade 1

Series:     Yes

What this book is about: 
Mitchell is not fond of bedtime, that is until he gets his license and starts driving himself to bed.  With his father playing the vehicle in question, Mitchell finds he still needs to check the tires, wash the windshield and avoid collisions.  Every night his skills improve until he is adept at managing speed bumps, staying in his lane and enjoying the feel of the open road.

Why I love this book: 
First off I have a fondness for the wonderful illustrations by Tony Fucile.  His Let’s Do Nothing book is one of the funniest children’s books I have ever read and as the illustrator of the acclaimed Bink and Gollie series with Kate DiCamillo  he has created a visually adorable odd couple.  He brings his wonderful comic smarts to this book with pictures that go just enough to the extreme to elicit wonderful giggles and guffaws while still being believable.

Now the story itself is just charming.  Reading it I could picture my husband racing through the house with my daughter on his shoulders,  giggling on the way to bed, knocking her head on the doorway … oops, never mind!  The juxtaposition of the house and dad with a roadway and car were brilliant and absolutely funny!

Who this book is for: 
Any kid who loves cars, any kid who doesn’t always want to go to bed and any parent who enjoys that time before bed to bond with their child.

Final thoughts: 
Put yourself in drive and race out to get this book … but only if you like to laugh, because otherwise this book is a dead end.  Did I take that car metaphor too far?  Oh, and the cover is not particularly good, but the book is.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Mitchell's License  A portion of each purchase will go back to support this blog at no cost to you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Favorite Early Chapter Book

I think the beginning chapter book is one of the hardest books to do well!  How can an author develop characters, create a great setting and orchestrate an engaging plot, in sixty pages, with short chapters and lots of illustrations?  I struggled alot finding books in this genre for my kids!  

However, this one is a winner and it never gets enough attention.  The new installment Lulu's Mysterious Mission will be out in two weeks and I can't wait.  Of course her second book Lulu Walks the Dogs is also terrific.  Can you see I am a fan?  You will be too as soon as you pick up these clever, laugh out loud books.

Title:          Lulu and the Brontosaurus
Author:     Judith Viorst
Target:      K-2

Series:       Yes
What this book is about
 Lulu is a spoiled girl who wants a brontosaurus for her birthday.  When her parents refuse, she goes out to get one for herself.  Her confidence is shaken when the brontosaurus decides, that in fact, Lulu would make a great pet for him!
Why I love it 
This is such a fun early chapter book and also a great read aloud.  The illustrations from Lane Smith are some of my favorites.  The author makes this story even more fun, when she inserts her opinions into the book, (“Okay, so snakes don’t talk.  But in my story, they do”)  She also provides three different endings as she works to get the story right, much to the delight of my daughter!
Who it is for 
Kids just starting chapter books.  Short chapters and fun illustrations.  This book is definitely for boys and girls.
Final thoughts:  
We checked this book out of the library, and my daughter would not return it until I promised to buy a copy for the house!  A truly fun story line and reader interaction which keeps a kid wanting more! 

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Lulu and the Brontosaurus  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Book for Kids who Love Adventure on the High Seas

Ahoy mateys!  Today I have a swashbuckling adventure.  I love a story full of excitement and intrigue that manages to never take itself too seriously.  And really, how can you not like a story with a real, bonified treasure map?  This book is definitely for kids who like excitement on the high seas.

Don't forget to Like One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for all the books that let me type in pirate speak.  Aye, I be telling you that this here book is good, or I'll walk the plank!  I am actually wearing an eye patch while typing this ... no really ... ok, not so much.

Title:       The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates: Magic Marks the Spot

Author:   Caroline Carlson

Target:    Grades 3-6

Series:     This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about: 
Hilary Westfield dreams of being a pirate, but with a father who is an Admiral in the Royal Navy, a Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates who doesn’t accept women and her impending start at Miss Pimm’s Finishing School, her prospects look bleak.  But she is not one to let anything stop her and sets out on her own to join a pirate crew.  What she doesn’t know is that it will embroil her in the search for the ultimate magic treasure and that she and her crew are not the only ones looking for this very valuable stash!

Why I love this book: 
Well besides the obvious scalawags and scoundrels, this book was pirate fun.  Hilary is vivacious and spunky enough to appeal to both boys and girls.  Her magic gargoyle provides plenty of comic relief to keep the story comical and silly.  With lots of action, as well as some twists that will surprise younger kids, this book is spot on.

The one area that concerns me a bit are the letters at the end of each chapter.  While I enjoyed how they brought in another perspective to the story that I think will provide revelations for kids, they are written in cursive.  I imagine that children will struggle with reading them.  I know my kids struggle reading their grandmother’s cursive birthday cards, let alone a two page letter.

Who this book is for: 
Kids who like action, humor and pirates.  The fact that the main character is a girl is absolutely irrelevant to the enjoyment of this story.

Final thoughts: 
Well shiver me timbers, this book is a very nearly honorable adventure!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Book Your Kids Won't Put Down

Today I am pulling one of my favorite books out of the archives.  This book has it all ... action, adventure, drama.  I have yet to give it to a child and not have it become one of his/her favorite books.  It is also especially appealing to reluctant readers.

Don't forget to Like One Great Book on Facebook and Twitter for books that can do it all.  I think this one may actually cook dinner for you too.

Title:       Peak

Author:   Roland Smith

Target:    Grades  5-8

Series:     No

What this book is about:
Peak is the son of two climbers.  When he gets in trouble for scaling tall buildings in New York City, the only way to stay out of the Juvenile Detention Center is to join his father who is preparing a team to climb Mount Everest.  Peak hasn’t spoken to his father in years, and it appears that his father’s enthusiasm for taking him along has less to do with catching up, than making his son the youngest climber to reach the peak.  However, Peak can’t resist the allure of the biggest climbing challenge and so he tries to make history.

Why I love this book:
The ending in this book is not a given, which makes it incredibly exciting.  I was absolutely hooked to see if Peak makes it to the top (and no I will give nothing away!)  

However, what makes this book better than just an exciting adventure is what we learn about the mountain and the Tibetans who risk their lives for these climbers.  I thought I knew a little about Everest, but this book taught me so much more.  It is part history lesson, part climbing primer and part adventure. 

Who this book is for:
Great adventure book.  I think most kids, especially boys, will gravitate towards this story.

Final thoughts:
This book is a winner on so many levels!

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

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book About Video Games

I am going with a non fiction text this Thursday, and a video game one at that!  Does that make me a hero to fourth grade boys everywhere?  Probably not, but perhaps I am just a little bit cooler to my sons who currently see me as a transportation and food delivery device.

Don't forget to Like One Great Book on Facebook and Twitter for all the video game books you and your kids can both appreciate.  Imagine telling your kids they have to read and then handing them a book about the creator of Super Mario ... tell me you wouldn't like that moment.

Title:       The Biggest Names of Video Games

Author:  Arie Kaplan

Target:   Grades 3 and up

Series:     Yes

What this book is about: 
Think of Donkey Kong, Mario Brothers, Sims and Pokemon.  Their cultural influence is worldwide, but do you have any idea who is responsible for these creations?  This book looks at the early history of video games and the men (and woman) who are responsible for the games that launched the video game industry. 

Why I love this book: 
Well given how much time my kids have invested in playing these games (and I have invested at yelling at them about not playing these games) it is amazing how ignorant we all are about them.  It was fun to learn about some of the people responsible for these creations, their inspiration and tenacity.

I also appreciated some of the history of the gaming industry.  I don’t think our kids realize how primitive things were in the “early days” when batting a round ball across the screen was considered big stuff.

Who this book is for: 
This book is quite short and sweet, but despite looking like an early reader it is actually for older kids.  The vocabulary is far too sophisticated for a beginning reader.  The kids who will enjoy this book are ones with an interest in video game design.

Final thoughts: 
Looking forward to more women in the sequel.  As the book says, “There’s still a long way to go before the gap between men and women is closed, but today’s game creators are making it happen.”  Does anyone know if a woman invented Candy Crush?

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Biggest Names of Video Games (Shockzone - Games and Gamers)  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Picture Book That Encourages Engineering

For picture book Wednesday I have a fun one.  This book is wonderful to look at and the messages of ingenuity and perseverance are perfect.  Add to that a focus on engineering for girls and this book hits all the right notes.

Don't forget to Like One Great Book on Facebook and Twitter for all the books that encourage your girls to like science and invent cool stuff like helium pants!

Title:       Rosie Revere, Engineer

Author:   Andrea Beaty

Target:    Preschool - Grade 3

What this book is about: 
Rosie Revere dreams about being an engineer, and pursues all sorts of inventions.  But after she fails with a cheese hat that keeps the pythons away, she looses her nerve.  When her aunty comes to visit and shares her desire to fly, Rosie’s creative juices get flowing again and she can’t help but try to make something to help her aunt.  When this invention also fails, she decides to stop, until her aunt reminds her that failures are only the beginning of great inventions!

Why I love this book: 
First off the illustrations are fabulous.  The graph paper on the end pages, the knick knacks galore and the sheer number of treasures used in each creation are brilliant.  Top these off with stylized drawings of the adults and kids in the book and you have a visual stunner.

I also enjoyed the text in verse.  The book reads aloud quite well and the cadence is spot on.

Finally, the message, especially as we are encouraging our kids to engage with STEM, is perfect.  Not only does the book celebrate ingenuity and inventiveness, but it also shows kids that failure is an option, and one that can be celebrated on the road to discovery.  Of course encouraging girls to engage in engineering is also a lovely touch.

Who this book is for: 
Fun for all kids.  Can’t imagine a kid not liking this one.

Final thoughts: 
I think the hot dog dispenser and helium pants are probably my favorite Rosie inventions.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Rosie Revere, Engineer  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Fun Early Chapter Book

I like Jerry Spinelli, and when I saw that he had a series for the younger reader, I was intrigued.  Both my daughter and I really enjoyed this book.  I like an author who explores the idea of being good when nobody is watching, and how that too counts towards your character.

Don't forget to Like One Great Book on Facebook and Twitter to get updates on all the books that encourage your kids to behave better.  Just think, you will be doing a good deed when no one is watching ... see I just helped build your character.  No thanks necessary.

Title:       Third Grade Angels

Author:   Jerry Spinelli

Target:    Grades 2-3

Series:     Yes

What this book is about:
There is a poem that starts the first chapter of the book: First grade babies!/Second grade cats!/Third grade angels!/Fourth grade rats!  George is excited to be in third grade and to finally be an angel and his teacher, Mrs. Simms, only adds to the excitement.  She holds a contest each month to see which student will earn his/her halo.  George likes to be first ... he wants the first halo and is willing to go to great lengths to get it.  But to earn the halo kids need to be kind, responsible, helpful, in other words be on their best behavior.  As George learns, this means not only inside the classroom but also to your parents, and (gasp) sister!  Does he have what it takes to earn the first coveted gold circle?

Why I love this book:
First off this is a fun read, and I really likes the teacher Mrs. Simms.  I love that she expects all the kids, even the difficult ones, to earn a halo throughout the year, showing that it not just the kids who are predisposed to behave well that will earn the coveted prize.

I also really liked George.  I found it completely realistic that he wanted to not only win, but to be the first to win.  I think many kids will relate to this.  

Who this book is for:
Chapters are relatively short, type is large and pictures - while not on every page - are dispersed throughout the book, which makes it a great book for kids who are getting comfortable with chapter books.

Final thoughts:
This is a book that really addresses kids issues around being good.  Is it enough to just not be mean, and how nice to you have to be when people aren’t looking?  A clever take on things parents and kids wrestle with.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Third Grade Angels  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Great Middle Grade Novel

Of course, on St. Patricks Day I am profiling a book that takes place at Christmas!  How is that for timing.  Well at least the cover is green so no need to pinch me.

I love it when I come across a can't put down read that isn't as well known.   It is the reason I do this blog and always puts a spring in my step.   There, I have justified my existence for the day ... guess I can't ask for much more than that, except maybe a pony.

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Title:       Nickel Bay Nick

Author:   Dean Pitchford

Target:    Grade 4-8

Series:     No

What this book is about: 
Sam is having a crappy Christmas - there I said it.  His father’s bakery is loosing money, his mom just remarried and didn’t tell him and the infamous “Nickel Bay Nick” who mysteriously leaves $100 bills around town has disappeared and left the whole town in a funk.  To top it off,  Sam's many “antics” have left him hanging with a less than stellar crowd of kids, the police are keeping a careful eye on him and his relationship with his father is tenuous and strained at best.  Sounds like a good story so far, doesn’t it? 

Just hang on!  When he crosses paths with an old widower, he has the chance to do some good for the town.  But will it be enough to help him turn his own life around?

Why I love this book:  
I held on to this book for quite a few weeks and it just never made it into my must read pile.  My picky reader son was looking for something to read and I shoved it in his hands and told me to tell me if it was worth my while.  Well, after several hours I had seen hide nor hair of him and it turned out he hadn't left his room, he couldn’t put the book down.  He read it straight through and proclaimed it a 10 out of 10! 

I started it the next morning and low and behold I didn’t put it down and finished it the same day.    It is really good!  Sam must perform a series of tasks for our old widower, and many of them are quite suspenseful and must be done in secret.  The reader is hanging on with Sam, hoping for his success and cringing every time he runs into an obstacle.  The family struggles in Sam’s life made the suspenseful parts feel real which probably added to their authenticity and our vested interest in seeing Sam succeed.

Who this book is for:  
Kids who like realistic fiction and action books will enjoy this one.  

Final thoughts: 
Everyone needs a little goodwill.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Nickel Bay Nick  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Books to Help Kids Understand Pi

Well Pi day is here, and I hope you celebrate with a little of the baked stuff, but also remember the importance of this mathematical discovery!  The following two books are great for understanding not only how Pi came to be, but also how numbers are used for measurement.  Without measurement how would we plan, design and bulid, make scientific breakthroughs or explore the world?

Title:          Why Pi?
Author:     Johnny Ball
Target:      Grade 3-8
This book is focused on numbers used for measurement.  It traces how these measurements were derived throughout history.  it also shows how numbers help us make sense of the world and help us understand science.  Find out how an incorrect measurement of Earth's size led to the discovery of America and see how natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes can be measured.
The great thing about this book is that it is heavily illustrated and written in short paragraph form, so the concepts are relatable and not overwhelming.  Side bars of interesting facts also help the reader enjoy the experience and not get bogged down in technical jargon.

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here: Why Pi?

Title:          Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi
Author:     Cindy Newschwander
Target:      Grade 3-8
This book is intended to introduce children to Pi in a fun way.  It is told in a story format as our hero Radius has to save his father Sir Cumference from the evil dragon.  The dose of the potion that must be given to the dragon is Pi, so Radius works to figure out the measurement. 
This is a fun way to introduce younger children to the concept of Pi, and for older children it is a unique way to remember the value of the number!

To purchase this book, visit your local bookstore or click here: Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (A Math Adventure)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Books That Will Make Kids Fans of the Muppets

With the new Muppet movie on the horizon, I thought it would be the perfect time to share a book that celebrates all things Muppet!  For the love of Kermit, this is not one to be missed!

Don't forget to Like One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter for all the books that have cultural references that parents will actually understand.  Gonzo anyone?

Title:      Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet

Author:  Kirk Scroggs

Target:   Grades 3-6

Series:    Yes

What this book is about: 
Danvers Blikensderfer is a sixth grader whose hero is Gonzo, in fact he has a Gonzo T-shirt for every day of the week.  However, when Danvers is exposed to a freak flash of light one evening, he wakes up transformed - into a muppet!  As luck would have it, there is an opening for an intern at the Muppet Theater and Danvers is full steam ahead planning for the local talent show with this zany crew.

Why I love this book: 
I had forgotten how funny the muppets can be, and I am talking classic muppets here, not Elmo, Miss Piggy and Kermit. but Animal, Fozzie Bear, Sam the Eagle and Statler and Waldorf.  Their jokes are corny and clever, but the best part is that they will keep you in stitches.

I love that Scroggs is introducing the Muppets to a whole new generation of kids.  While my son was not initially familiar with all the characters, he picked up their personalities quickly and read the book cover to cover in one day!

Who this book is for:
This is an illustrated novel, meaning pictures and comic portions of the story are on each page.  Kids who like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid format will quickly see the similarities in the way the story is presented.  Good for kids who like funny stories and corny jokes.

Final thoughts: 
I want to be Statler and Waldorf when I grow up!

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Tales of a Sixth-Grade Muppet  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Of course, if you want to be even more versed in these beloved characters, and really who doesn't, don't forget to check out the new Muppet encyclopedia.  It is essential reading for any muppet fan!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Most Lovely Picture Book

I am targeting a little younger audience today with this picture book, but it is just so charming, I couldn't resist!    There are actually three books in this series and each one is just as lovely as the next.  This one is about when our boy Henry was small,  the second is about when his mother was small and the third is about where he came from.  The illustrations by Julie Morstad are prepossessing, enchanting and elevate these books to special little treasures.

Don't forget to Like One Great Book on Facebook or Twitter so you won't miss any of these charming books.  I mean, when Henry was small his dad let him walk their pet ant, so cute - wait, do you think he might have been pulling my leg?

Title:       When You Were Small

Author:   Sara O’Leary

Target:    Preschool - Kindergarten

What this book is about:
Henry asks his father every night, “Tell me about when I was small.”  And Henry’s father tells him about all the adventures he had, such as giving Henry baths in the teapot and just pouring him out through the spout when he was done, brushing his hair with a toothbrush and carrying Henry around in his shirt pocket.

Why I love this book:
Oh, let me count the ways.  First the book itself has simple drawings and no jacket cover, that evoke a very charming and retro feel, without being old fashioned.  Second, there is a sly humor to the book as if the father is hinting to Henry that these aren’t quite real memories but ones to make him smile.  And lastly the fun of Henry’s adventures will delight any young one.

Who this book is for:
Children who love hearing stories of when they were young, which is probably all children!

Final thoughts:
This book is full of love and humor without ever being too sappy or sentimental

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: When You Were Small  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Classic Early Chapter Book

Today I am profiling an early chapter book that was around when I was a kid.  I know what you're thinking.  Why didn't I save this one for retro Friday when I pull books from the past out of the archives?  That was what you were thinking, wasn't it?

Well, despite being written in 1972, this book is absolutely timeless.  I dare you find a kid who won't laugh along with this story that feels like it was written for them.  How does Judy Blume do it?  Well, take excellent writing and add it to a story that touches on the emotions that kids really feel about siblings and family, mix in some humor and voila!  Oh, if it were only that easy.

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Title:       Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing

Author:   Judy Blume

Target:    Grades 2-4

Series:     Yes

What this book is about: 
Peter is in fourth grade and has a little brother Fudge.  Fudge is lavished with attention, being the adorable little brother, but Peter knows better.  Fudge goes through Peter’s stuff, he has meltdowns of epic proportions and is catered to by every member of the family.  Can Peter survive all the problems that Fudge will create next?

Why I love this book: 
Despite being written in 1972, this book stands the test of time.  Perhaps it is because Judy Blume is able to not only tap into the feelings of every big brother and sister, but also delve into the universal humor that surrounds the trouble that siblings have created throughout the ages.

Who hasn’t lamented that a little brother has gotten into your stuff?  Who hasn’t thrown up their hands at the goofy friends your little sister brings home?  Who hasn’t been embarrassed by their sibling in public and their ridiculous antics?  Well every child will find a sense that someone understands their plight and they will be able to laugh with Peter.

I also very much enjoy the structure of the book.  Each chapter is a short and complete narrative which moves the arc of the book forward.  It is very rewarding for kids to have a mini conclusion at the end of each chapter.

Who this book is for: 
This book is wonderful for kids who are ready for chapter books.  There are not pictures, but at only 120 pages the book is very manageable for kids who have moved on from early readers.

Final thoughts: 
Judy Blume got me through elementary and middle school with her books that touch on what kids are really feeling.   Perhaps that is why, after all these years, she remains relevant and beloved in children’s fiction.  Of course I still remember  my dog eared copy of Forever.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Science Fiction Book for Kids

Thought I would go with Science Fiction this Monday morning.  The book I am profiling today brings in some of the Star Wars elements - alien races, battles in space and a machine that transforms planets.  But what sets this one apart is the nonstop action.  Hold on to your hat because this is a twenty four hours were anything can happen.  Also, check out the cool book trailer below!

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Title:       The Planet Thieves

Author:   Dan Krokos

Target:    Grades 4-6

Series:     This is the first book in a planned series

What this book is about:
Mason Stark is a cadet traveling on a formidable spaceship, the Egypt, which is patrolling space.  However, when they encounter a foreign ship, things take a turn for the worse.  The Tremists are an alien race who have been at war with humans for sixty years.  The Tremists manage to steel a machine from the humans which will change the course of the war, and only Mason and his fellow cadets are left on board the Egypt to save the human race.

Why I love this book:
This book was an enjoyable read for kids who like science fiction.  To say there is non stop action would be an understatement.  This story goes from battle to battle to ... dare I say it ... battle!  In fact if I think the book has one major flaw it would be that all the events seem to happen in one day, which felt completely off to me.  However, I don’t think kids will notice in the slightest.

While the story does lack the sophistication of Ender’s Game or Roar, it is a fun ride for kids who like this genre.  I read somewhere it was a mix between Ender’s Game and Star Wars, and I do think that is an accurate description! 

Who this book is for:
Well, kids who liked Ender’s Game and who like action will be well served by this story.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Planet Thieves  A portion of each purchase will go back to this blog at no cost to you.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Teen Boys Read

This Friday I thought I would post a book from a few years back that is a great pick for a reluctant middle/high school reader.  When I first reviewed this book, I was disappointed that it was so short.  However, now that I have a high school son who can't find a lot of time for independent reading, I appreciate that he can pick this book up and read it in one evening.  Their schedules are just so packed that reading often gets shunted to the side - but they have no excuse with this funny, engaging story!

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Title:       12 things to Do Before You Crash and Burn

Author:  James Proimos

Target:   Grade 7 and up

Series:    No

What this book is about:
Hercules Martino’s father has just passed away, bit the dust, died.  His mother sends him to his Uncle Anthony’s house for two weeks were he plans to just lie around, but his Uncle has other ideas.  He receives a to do list with 12 things he must accomplish.  While his first reaction is to ignore the list, fate has a different plan.

Why I love this book:
This is a sprite of a book, and by that I do not mean cute, but little in size with a lot of personality.  At only 121 smaller than average pages, I was completely surprised at how much story the author gets in there!  Hercules is brash and snarky, but he also very likable and shows his vulnerability at just the right times.  The gimmick of twelve items on a to do list sucked me in right away, and I found myself having fun seeing the ways in which each task got completed.  

While small, the book does deal with death, father and son relationships, and finding different sides of your personality.  

Who this book is for:
Most kids in the target range will read this book in one day.  Because of the language and the maturity of Hercules I wouldn’t recommend it for a younger audience.  Reluctant readers will enjoy the fact that the chapters are short and compact and the voice in the book is very engaging.

Final thoughts:
I kept thinking how interesting it would be to give my older kids a list to see what they could discover.

To purchase this book:
Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: 12 Things to Do Before You Crash and Burn  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog at no cost to you.