Sunday, June 26, 2016


Risuko's father was a Samurai but he left and never returned.  Now, years later, Risuko's mom sells her to a woman who trains girls to be shrine maiden... or does she.  Risuko's training involves moving rocks, slaughtering chickens, distinguishing between herbs, and learning tea rituals.  What will Risuko do when she figures out what is really going on.

So...  there were parts I liked and it definitely got better as it went on.  Overall, it is too mature and violent for my students (only up to grade 5).  

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Distance to Home

This book is told in alternating chapters of the present summer and the previous summer.  We find Quinnen who is a star baseball player until an accident claims the life of her sister.  Unfortunately, before the accident things were strained between her and her sister and she feels partly responsible for what happened.  Can Quinnen find her way back to the game she loves and a way to forgive and move on.

I enjoyed this book.  It may fit a niche for a sporty book with a girl main character and while there are some typical middle grade themes it does rise above.

Wishing Day

Well that's a relief.  As I was looking up more information about this book before writing my blog I saw that this is the first in a series.  Thank goodness because otherwise...

The book starts out as Natasha, the oldest of three girls, has her wishing day.  It is a tradition in her town that girls go to a specific tree on the third night of the third month after her thirteenth birthday and makes 3 wishes.  Natasha makes her wishes and then waits to see if they come true.  In the midst of all this is the mysterious disappearance of Natasha's mother 8 years ago, a mysterious person named Emily, a father who is really not engaged and typical family drama and middle school drama.  

I found it really hard to get into the book because there were so many unanswered questions.  The ending left me wondering - wait, what???  So, I am glad there will be a sequel to explain things but I am not sure I got invested enough in this first book... 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Inside Your Inside

Image result for inside your insides a guide to 

Not gonna lie, I'm not really a fan of the illustrations.  The text about microbes was interesting but I felt the text could have been okay for 5th and 6th graders but the illustrations made it look like it was for 3rd graders.

That's Not Fair

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This was an interesting look at a fictional town and the discussion over rights and freedoms.  There were several short stories where a law was introduced and then discussed as to whether it was a fair law.  I feel this would be a good starting for primary classes discussing government and fairness.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cosmic Catastrophes

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This informational text discusses seven ways that a planet like ours could be destroyed.  The usual suspects - comets and asteroids are discussed as well as black holes, super novas, and alien invasion.  There is humor to the text and most of the illustrations as very well done.  I am glad the author / illustrator took time to explain his process for the illustrations.  I found some illustrations so lifelike that there were a few that seemed cheesy in comparison.  I guess with Photoshop that is the risk you take.  


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When the US dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki no one really knew what the effects would be on the people there.  Sachiko, who was a young girl when the bomb dropped on Nagasaki lived through the devastating effects.  In the days, months, and years that followed her family suffered fatal injuries and radiation sickness that shortened their lives.  This account tells what life what like for a young survivor and how she learned to live with what happened and tell others of her experiences.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

On Our Way to Oyster Bay

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This was a nice picture book account of Mother Jones who led a protest march to Theodore Roosevelt's summer home in Oyster Bay, NY in 1903.  For what it is, it is good.  I hope it would spark interest in learning more about not only the march but other aspects in the fight for children's rights or other movements.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Saving Wonder

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Curley is an orphan, cared for by his grandfather.  He lost his whole family due to accidents caused by coal mining and yet his whole life revolves around the mining town and his mountain.  When the coal mine comes into new ownership, not only must Curley learn to share his best friend with the miner's son but he must learn to use the words his pawpaw has given him to save his mountain.  

I truly enjoyed this story.  The words that mark every chapter were woven in nicely and it was good to see Curley develop his relationship with both JD and Jules.  There were some aspects that I felt were too stereotypical - the coal mine owner for one but overall it was a well done story that may lead to questioning about mining techniques and debates over land use.

Seven and a Half Tons of Steel

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This is a lovely book about how seven and a half tons of steel from the twin towers was used to make the USS New York.  A gentle introduction to the 9/11 attacks and how something good was made from the wreckage and how the USS New York honors the event.  This is definitely a book I would add to my collection.

Awesome America

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There was a lot to love with this book.  Coming in at a little over 200 pages with index, glossary, etc it packed a lot of information in a concise way.  I think this is a great introduction to our history and our land.  The facts presented were diverse and balanced.  A nice introduction that would hopefully spark interest in finding out more about the topics.