Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata


Wow, it's almost October.  3 more months of 2013 books to review.  It is getting to be crunch time.  For my work on the Maine Student Book Award committee I want to make sure I have read all the titles that are considered noteworthy.  I want to make sure we don't miss anything we should have read.  I look at a lot of blogs and "best of" lists.  This book has been on several lists so I decided to give it a go.

This book is about Summer, her brother Jaz, their dog Thunder and her grandparents.  Their family has had a string of bad luck.  Her parents are currently in Japan caring for some relatives.  Jaz and Summer are joining their grandparents as combine workers during the wheat harvest.  This is something they do almost every year.  This book only covers a few weeks of the beginning of the harvest.  During that time the reader sees how intense the harvest can be.  Interspersed with all this is Jaz's wish to have a friend. Summer's crush, and her grandparents' poor health.

I really don't see what all the book love is about.  The book was fine but I just didn't find it stellar.  There were a lot of things left unresolved and it just didn't grab me in an way.  

Sorry :(

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes


This book has garnered a bit of buzz lately.  I had some classes come in a few weeks ago to watch a webinar with Kevin Henkes and it was a lot of fun.  Mr. Henkes read from the book and talked about it a bit. 

So what did I think?  It was a delightful read.  It was charming.  Billy Miller was a cute 2nd grader and the 4 sections of the book had their own little plots and Billy went through his 2nd grade year.  We saw Billy navigate a tricky situation with his teacher, help his dad make a breakthrough, come to appreciate his sister, and honor his mother.  

I have heard some Newbery buzz...what do I think about that?  I am not sure it will be deemed "meaty" enough.  It is a quiet, gentle read but if one takes the time to really appreciate it he would find some wonderful nuggets in the sentences and descriptions.  Time will tell of course.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Paperboy by Vince Vawter


This is a book I had heard a lot about so I was eager to read it.  It is set in the summer of 1959 in Memphis.  Vince is a boy of 11 who is a great pitcher and loves words...he just can't say them well...he stutters.  Vince is nervous about taking over his friend's paper route for the month of July because he is concerned he will have to speak to the customers when he collects the money.

This story does not have a lot of fact it moves along slowly but the words and ideas are powerful.  They need to be taken slowly.  The way the author constructs the sentences is powerful.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  


Monday, September 23, 2013

Chupacabra by Roland Smith


I have read Cryptid Hunters several times with book groups.  I have never read Tentacles but many of my students have.  I was very curious about how this book would be and if it could stand alone.

So as far as standing alone, Smith does a good job of catching the reader up.  But, there is still no replacing actually reading the other books.  I wish I had read Tentacles just because I missed out on some character development.  

As far as the book itself, I thought it was a lot of fun.  There was a lot of action and adventure and even some violence but not so much that I would worry about giving it to my students.  There was a lot of time between the second and third book and you can tell the series isn't done because Marty's parents are still missing.  When will the 4th book come out???

I liked the book...Ribbit...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Everything Money by Furgang, Kathy and Hiebert, Fred


This was a fun read with a lot of facts about money.  The book talked about early money, the money of different countries, how to save money, how to budget your money and much more.  I really liked the picture of the $100 bill and all the anti counterfeit measures.  There are a lot of interesting facts and of course, great pictures.  

Will this find a big audience?  Not sure?  Are a lot of kids interested in reading about money?  We'll see.

I found it enjoyable...ribbit...

Pems to Learn by Heart Collected by Caroline Kennedy


A lot of people have raved about this collection of poetry so I may be the lone voice who doesn't totally agree.  Don't get me wrong.  I really don't have anything against the poems.  Many of the poems in this collection are familiar to me and many of them are fabulous.  I especially liked "Voices Rising".  The illustrations are beautiful as well.  So what is the problem?  I just don't find it very kid friendly.  I have a copy.  I will put it in my library.  But who will check it out?  Poetry doesn't get checked out by students much.  Occasionally Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky will get checked out but unless it's April (Poetry Month) and they are required to my poetry books don't circulate.  Teachers check poetry books out more.  I love poetry, I really do but in order to get kids really interested it needs to be unique and different.  

I don't want to croak because I do like the poems...I just don't think the book will have a lot of kid appeal.

Island of Thieves by Josh Lacey


Most of my blog posts are related to my work with the Maine Student Book Award committee.  Therefore, I am mostly reading and reviewing 2013 titles to see if they will be nominated for next year's list.  But, I am also a school librarian and my students are currently reading books on the 2013-2014 MSBA list.  I like to be able to recommend those books as well so I try to read all 40 of the books on the list.  This is one from the current list that I read in between some newer ones.

It all started when Tom burned down the shed.  Because of that no one wanted him to stay at their houses while his parents were on vacation.  His parents, in desperation, sent him to stay with his Uncle Harvey.  What Harvey didn't tell Tom's parents was that he was going to Peru and was going to leave Tom in New York City by himself.  Tom had other plans and managed to get his Uncle Harvey to take him along to Peru.  That's where things got crazy.  You see, Uncle Harvey was a bit of a shady character and was in trouble with a Peruvian crime lord.  On their search for the Island of Thieves and a treasure hidden hundreds of years ago Harvey and Tom face murderous thugs, dangerous roads, a language barrier, and more.  This was a great action, adventure story.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!!


Saturday, September 21, 2013

How to Speak Dog by Aline Alexander Newman and Gary Weitzman, D.V.M


So dog books are pretty popular with kids at my school.  Then you add in National Geographic photographs and you are bound to have a winner, right?  I was pretty excited to get this and start reading it.   It did have a lot of good information about how dogs communicate from ears, tails, barking, and so on.  There were also a lot of tips about training dogs, taking care of dogs, and just fun facts.  My only concern was that it got kind of long...the book is 176 pages.  I am not sure how many of my kids will actually stick with it that long or will just browse and look at the pictures.

A ribbit for good information....