Archive | October, 2012

Too Clever IV – Jeanie’s Most Prized Possession by Julia E. Antoine

31 Oct

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Today Susanna Leonard Hill is hosting her annual Halloweensie writing contest over at her blog. I was going to enter it, but I didn’t get it done in time :( BUT, if you want to get into the Halloween SPIRIT (get it…spirit), FLOAT on over to her blog to check out some of the entries (click HERE).

Because of Sandy our school cancelled Halloween but Josie and I are still celebrating!

Hope you get Treats and not Tricks!

Now on to today’s review!

Too Clever IV – Jeanie’s Most Prized Possession

By Julia E.  Antoine

118 pages – ages 8+

Published by ENVISION Business & Computer School Publishing on December 22, 2011

Jeanie wanted her very own violin for her birthday, but her mom could not afford to get her such an expensive gift. Jeanie saw a writing contest that offered a $10,000 prize to the person with the best essay about their “most prized possession”. Jeanie looked around her small room and thought that she really didn’t have a prized possession. In fact, she really didn’t like her room and wanted a total make-over of it. One of Jeanie’s classmates gives her the idea to write about the violin she does not have yet. Jeanie likes the idea and tries her best at the essay contest. Jeanie is hoping that her eleventh birthday will be her best.

Too Clever IV – Jeanie’s Most Prized Possession is the fourth book in Julia Antoine’s “Too Clever” series. I really like books about believing in yourself and working to get to your goals.  The plot of this book has that message but it gets lost. Jeanie wins the contest halfway into the book and then in the rest of the story, Jeanie and her mom end up spending the money on a bunch of things  in addition to the violin. They do have a budget they stick to but, to me, it seemed that Jeanie was happy just because she is able to buy stuff not because she reached her goal of the violin. The story was written well and it is totally appropriate for kids. The story just didn’t work for me and it doesn’t mean that other people wouldn’t love the story. Jeanie and her mom are nice characters and they have a good relationship. I think they are the characters in the other Too Clever books too, and I think they would be worth reading about in those books. The illustrations in the books are real pictures of real people and that was interesting.

Two out of five bookworms for Too Clever IV Jeanie’s Most Prized Possession

**Note I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review

 

Give Away of the AWESOME Adventure Book Sea Cutter by Timothy Davis!

30 Oct

How are you all doing in the hurricane? Our electric already went out but now we have a generator! :) The good news is I get another day off of school!! The bad news is we don’t know how long our electric will be out.

On to the give away!

The great high-seas adventure story Sea Cutter by Timothy Davis has just been published in paperback! A while ago, I reviewed Sea Cutter (click HERE) as an ebook and gave it a 5 bookworm rating! Sea Cutter is an awesome adventure story with great characters that boys and girls will LOVE! To celebrate the paperback being published I am giving away a copy of Sea Cutter. To enter, just comment and say one (or more) thing(s) you like about the ocean or boats (or you can do both!).  On November 7th I will…well,  Josie will, pick a name from all the people who commented from a hat and that person will win the book! If you want to read an adult’s opinion on Sea Cutter, visit Donna L. Sadds blog (click HERE). She is posting a review of Sea Cutter today! Michelle Isenhoff interviewed her two boys about the book on her blog Bookworm Blather click HERE to go to it and read her kid’s opinions!

Hmm the cover of Sea Cutter looks a bit like the weather we’ve been having! Stay safe from Frankenstorm! :)

The Storytellers: Anterria Book 1- by Rebecca McKinsey

29 Oct

HELLLOOOOO FRANKENSTORM a.k.a. Sandy! Thank you for giving me a day off of school but I hope you don’t knock out our internet connection! If I am gone for a couple of days, you’ll know why – no electricity, but I am hoping that doesn’t happen. I hope everyone in the path of the storm is safe and dry!

Now on to my review!

Storytellers: Anterria Book 1

By Rebecca McKinsey

230 pages – ages 9+

Published by Booklocker.com, Inc. on December 15, 2010

Hannah Merchant was a tomboy that liked creating her own worlds and stories. One day she was at a party her wealthy parents made her go to. She snuck up to the library of the building and started writing in her journal. When she got bored of that, she went outside, and everything went black. She awoke and found herself in the path of Aaron McKay, who was being chased by an evil shadow creature. He pulled her along until they were safe and far away from it. Aaron took her to a train station. There he explained some of the things that were going on, like the reason he was being chased. Hannah finds out she is a Storyteller, like Aaron and she has powers she never knew she had. Books and illustrations  The train conductor took Hannah and Aaron to Anterria, a world different from ours. There they enter a dangerous war between the villagers of Anterria and the King and his men. The shadow creature is there too, taking over all. Will Hannah and Aaron come out alive?

I enjoyed reading this book. I loved the plot. The action in it was exciting but written well for kids. The reading level is good for older kids or advanced readers and it is a clean read. I also thought the story idea was unique. I liked the mythical creatures Ms. McKinsey wrote into the story (like pixies, centaurs and satyrs). Hannah is a great main character who loves writing and creating her own worlds. I liked her a lot. The Storytellers were pretty cool. I like that what they say is true in their story, becomes true. There were parts of the story I wished were explained a little more because I got “lost” but for the most part, the story read well. I like the cover, I thought it was kind of pretty. The second book in this series is called Atlantis. I already asked my mom if she can get it! I recommend this book to kids 9+.

Four out of five bookworms for this great adventure story!

**Note – I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

To learn more about to learn about Ms. McKinsey and The Storytellers series, click HERE.

Perfect Picture Book Friday Abe Lincoln: the Boy Who Loved Books by Kay Winters

26 Oct

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because it is about one of my heroes and the tile is awesome!

Abe Lincoln: The boy who loved books

By Kay Winters

Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter

40 pages – Ages 6+

Published by Aladdin Paperbacks on January 3, 2008

Theme/Topic – Nonfiction/Biography/Abraham Lincoln

Opening and Synopsis – 

“From Wilderness

to the White House.

He learned the power of words

and used them well.”

(This is from the end of the book not the opening, but I really like it!)

Abraham Lincoln loved books. He loved to learn. He loved writing. He also worked hard and appreciated life. He was an honest and great man. He was born in a log cabin in the woods and grew up to be the 16th President of the United States because he studied, worked hard and read BOOKS! This book follows Abraham Lincoln’s life from when he was an infant to 16th president and tells the reader how important reading and books were to his life.

Why I liked this book – First of all, I LOVE to read about Abraham Lincoln. He had an interesting and inspiring life. I am sad that he was assassinated. Second, I really like Kay Winters’ writing style. This story of hers is written in free verse. I have read several of her books and they are all kid-friendly, well-written, and interesting! I like how Ms. Winters tells about the importance of books in Lincoln’s life and how they changed his life! Thirdly, I really like the illustrations in the book, they look like paintings.

Activities and Resources –

For older kids there is some great information about Abraham Lincoln at the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Monument website (HERE) and some very interesting information at the Ford’s Theater website  (HERE).

For younger kids I found a website called Apples 4 The  Teacher and they have a bunch of activities to learn about Abraham Lincoln like coloring sheets, puzzles, stories parts of his speeches and more. Click HERE to go to it.

You can also talk to your kids about why books are important. Ask them what do they think they learn from books. What if we didn’t have books?

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE!

Michaela’s Gift by Cordelia Dinsmore

25 Oct

Michaela’s Gift

By Cordelia Dinsmore

120 Pages – Ages 9+

Published by Musa Publishing on June 14, 2012

Michaela couldn’t wait to learn about her special gift. Her family told her that every girl on her father’s side gets a gift when they turn twelve. The gift the girls get is no ordinary gift, they get a magical power. Michaela is very excited about it and is able to talk to her Aunt Sharon about it, but her mom doesn’t want to hear anything about the gift. Michaela and her mother argue and her mom says there is no such things as special powers. Michaela knows what she wants to do with her gift but somehow has to convince her mom.

I liked the uniqueness of the plot in this story. It isn’t the action-packed adventure I usually get into, but it was a nice read. I thought Michaela’s “gift” was very cool (I don’t want to give it away) and I wish I had that gift! I really liked the Michaela character. She seemed nice and a super fast learner and I like that in main characters. Ms. Dinsmore’s writing style kept me interested in the story and kept me reading. The book is a clean read would be good for young advanced readers. I think kids 9+ would like this book!

I give “Michaela’s Gift” 4 out of 5 bookworms!

To learn more about Ms. Dinsmore and Michaela’s gift, please visit her blog by clicking HERE.

Halloween is Almost Here! Do you have a book to read?

24 Oct

Halloween is almost here! Do you have a costume? I do! I am going to be an admiral or maybe a pirate. Josie said she wants to be a princess (but she changes her mind a lot).  To get ready for Halloween, I have some fun Halloween book reviews!

For Young Kids

Playtime with Monster

By Michael Yu

26 Pages – Ages 3+

Publisher: Yu Family Publishing on September 1, 2012

Eric didn’t like to go to bed. In fact, he hated it. He didn’t want to get changed, brush his teeth or get in bed. He didn’t want to do any of that until his mom told him about the monster. The monster will come and play with you if you give him cookies. Eric LOVED this idea and couldn’t wait to see if the monster wold come play at bedtime.

The story and illustrations in this ebook were excellent. If you want a nice friendly monster story for your young kid, this is the book for you! I give this really cute book four out of five bookworms!

Ages 6+

A Big Spooky House

By Donna Washington

Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers

32 Pages – Ages 6+

Published by Hyperion Books June 20, 2006

He was a BIG man. He was a STRONG man. He wasn’t afraid of NOTHING….or was he?

This is one of my favorite Halloween books and I blogged about it in my Halloween post last year, but since it’s my favorite I am including it in my post this year! This book has been out for a few years but it was the first “scary” book that I really liked so I am recommending it! The story is great and the reading level is a little harder. It is also a little more spooky of a tale. I really like this book! I give this book five out of five bookworms!

For ages 8+

Saving Halloween

By Lisa Ard

Illustrated by Christopher R. Adams

Edited by Shuba Ramaswamy

144 Pages – Ages 8+

Published  by CreateSpace on September 5, 2012

(*Note I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

Anne’s parents expected a lot from her. They made sure she did well in school, but didn’t spend a lot of time with her. Anne didn’t have any friends and, in fact, she was bullied in school, until she met Halloween Spavento. People in Anne’s town thought the Spavento family was really nice and kind, except for the bullies, and Anne became close friends with Halloween. Anne finds out that Halloween’s family does some pretty strange traditions on Halloween, like talking to deceased relatives, but that doesn’t bother Anne because Halloween is a good friend. When Mrs. Spavento overhears the bullies from school in an ice cream shop saying that they “hate Halloween,” Mrs. Spavento thinks that they mean the holiday, not her daughter and tells the family (and Anne) that they need to do the best Halloween party in town! Will it work? Will the bullies get in the way? Will the party get ruined or will Halloween be saved?!?

I really enjoyed this book! I like how Ms. Ard tells the story. I love that one of the main characters is named Halloween. In addition to a great and unique plot there are really nice pictures throughout the book. I like how Anne and Halloween are good friends and like each other for who they are. I think this is a good Halloween-y book for young advanced readers. There is just the right amount of spookiness for kids 3rd grade and up. I give this book five out of five bookworms!

Kids 9+

All Hallows Eve: Book 2 Face the Music

By David Eveleigh

12274 words (ebook reviewed) – ages 9+

Published on Sep. 24, 2012 by Smashwords

(*Note I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review)

“Eve, the superhero with the powers of Jack O’Lantern, is back!” (Taken from book description).

My favorite Halloween superhero…ERRR – heroine is back in an all new adventure! An evil villain from the Muse dimension comes and kidnaps Mary-Sue Wertham, one of Eve’s classmates, for “killing artistic thoughts.” Eve’s transforms into All Hallows Eve and rushes to save her (even though Mary-Sue Wertham is SUPER annoying and Eve can’t stand her). Eve soon finds that the villain she is up against can actually use music as a weapon! Will she save Mary-Sue Wertham? Will Mary-Sue Wertham continue to annoy her? Read it to find out!

I like this series. Eve is a great super hero and the stories have a lot of comic book type action/adventure in them and they are written for kids so there aren’t inappropriate things in them. Face the Music has a fun story to it and I think some kids who are reluctant readers will like the comic book style (it isn’t a comic book, but the story reminds you of one). I liked the cover of the first book in the series better (see my review HERE), but the story is just as good. As a bonus part, there are some Halloween safety tips in the back of the book. Mr. Eveleigh is publishing his next book, “All Hallows Eve Vs. Fantomas”, in a series of short stories! I am really anxious to read it! Four out of five bookworms!

From Pennsylvania to New Mexico (via Texas), and back again (on four planes)! A.K.A. The Story of Erik the Kid

22 Oct

YAY! We got our computer back and I was able to write about out trip to New Mexico. So…this has nothing to do with books (although I did read 6 while we were away ;) )…

Once upon a time…

There was a kid named Erik who had never been on a plane. He was glad when his family told him he was going on a big adventure! They took off from Philadelphia and landed in this strange land called El Paso, Texas. They borrowed a brave, gallant, and (95% of the time) trustful steed named Chevy Equinox and set off to the land of U.F.O.s – Roswell, New Mexico. They liked it here, but fled because they were scared of being abducted by U.W.B. (Unidentified Weird Beings).

They went to see the Very Large Array radio telescope and got messages from high out-of-reach places.

The family learned of worlds and galaxies far, far away but ran away because there were rattle snakes crossing the walking path (no, really, we saw a HUGE rattle snake **shiver**).

They escaped to the underground world called “The Caverns of Carlsbad”.

They went down…deep down…really deep down to almost the center of the Earth (OK maybe not that far down, but it felt like it).

The family saw wondrous sights and then were whisked to the surface by an elevator (that they were happy to see so they didn’t have to walk all the way back up). At dusk the family watched in awe as 200,000 Mexican Freetail Bats flew out of the cave, over their heads to feast on bugs!  What an awesome thing to see! As they headed north, the family ran into all sorts of dangers like the land of free range cattle (be careful driving around corners – you don’t know if cows are standing in the road) and the notorious royal “CATTLE GUARD”!

**My mom took this picture and we were all laughing. I thought this would be a great picture for Catherine Johnson’s Metaphor Monday  blog post!**

The family bounced around New Mexico where they saw volcanoes and ancient lava flows at El Malpais, and the homes of the famous Smokey Bear in the Capitan Mountains, and the infamous Billy the Kid in Lincoln. The town of Lincoln remains pretty much the same as it was in the “Old West” times. There, the family learned of Lincoln’s history. They saw the courthouse where Billy the Kid escaped from in 1881 and the room where he was held. They learned of the brave lawman Pat Garrett who finally brought him to justice and the Lincoln County War and the Regulators.

*Just a quick shout out to National Park Ranger Bennie Long of the Lincoln State Monument who took a lot of time and explained the history of Lincoln and the Lincoln County War to our family. She also gave Josie and I a cool book about all the New Mexico state and national Monuments and a bunch of cool information about Lincoln County. Thanks  Ranger Long! *.

The adventurous family next visited the Bandelier National Monument in the Frijoles Canyon of New Mexico, and saw where the Ancestral Pueblo People lived 10,000 years ago! The family dared to climb  14o feet up, up, UP on rickety ladders (seriously rickety with no guard rails) and steps! When at the top, they were amazed at the view and to see where some of these ancient people made their home. Here at Bandelier, the children were knighted as Junior Park Rangers, sworn to uphold and take care of the land’s treasures and natural wonders.

Once they badges were bestowed upon them, the family quickly made way to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santé Fe, but alas it was closed for the day (**sigh**). The family did see the beautiful country that inspired Georgia O’Keeffe to paint and understood why she wanted to paint the skies she saw so BIG!

One the next part of the trip, the family drove through ghost towns, but didn’t see any ghosts (thank goodness).

Finally in Albuquerque (I got to learn how to spell Albuquerque, by the way). They wandered through a field of over 500 hot air balloons lifting up in the air. There were balloons from 16 different countries and it took about 2 hours for them all to float away! Creatures of all shapes and sizes drifted up silently, except for the cheers from the crowds.

Some, sadly, didn’t make it, like this little penguin. He inflated but couldn’t fly, the winds were too strong for him.

A flightless penguin (pretty ironic if you think about it)…

The family rode in their trusty (95% of the time, yes, we did have car trouble at one point) steed back to Texas  and headed for home (on a plane). Erik, Junior Ranger, Inter-state traveler, had a great time and couldn’t wait to tell you all the tale!  :)

The End

Tomorrow I’ll be back to reviewing books but today, I liked “reliving” my vacation with you!

Perfect Picture Book Friday – Skippyjon Jones – Cirque De Ole by Judy Schachner

19 Oct

Qué pasa amigos?!? Today is Perfect Picture Book Viernes and nosotros have our computer back!! I am going to work on the post about our vacation over the weekend :D

Susanna Leonard Hill has a feature on her blog called Perfect Picture Book Friday. It is a list of “perfect” picture books recommended by all sorts of people. I chose this book because I love all of the Skippyjon Jones books, and I noticed there were no Skippyjon Jones books on the PPBF list (for those of you who don’t know who Skippyjon Jones is, he’s a Siamese kitty who thinks he’s a Chihuahua, practices his Spanish and has a BIG imagination)! Josie and I love Skippyjon books because we like reading about Skippyjon’s imagination and the books are just fun to read. PLUS I have been waiting, waitingWAITING for this book to come out. It all started last November when I was at the Lititz PA Kid-Lit Festival (I am going to the festival again this year – it was great! You can check it out HERE if you are close to it, you should go!)…

Skippyjon Jones was at the festival, but there was also another force, a menacing force…and then…

Skippyjon Jones met Boba Fett!

Boba Fett and friends were there to promote Tom Angleberger’s book, “Darth Paper Strikes Back.” We all thought the picture was pretty funny!

Then, in December I was at an event at the Chester County Music and Book Company (A very COOL independent book store! Click HERE to go to their website) and Judy Schachner was there! I told her how much we love Skippyjon Jones and she told us about the new Skippyjon book she was writing (Cirque De Olé).  Ms. Schachner told me,

“I pretty much take Skippy where I would like to go or someplace that I would like to draw. His next adventure takes him to the circus – a place that I actually did not like to visit when I was young. I never thought clowns were funny and I felt bad for the animals but I loved all the color and sparkle. Who knows what might happen when the kitty boy takes me there.”

Then Ms. Schachner did something really cool and drew one of the new characters from the book in my notebook – meet Putzi Shtrungleboot -

HOW COOL! I told Ms. Schachner about the Boba Fett – Skippyjon picture we took, and she asked me to email her a copy so I did and she sent me a picture of the original Skippy!

So now that I told you all that – ON to PPBF and the muy bueno new Skippyjon Jones book – Cirque De Olé!

Skippyjon Jones – Cirque De Olé

by Judy Schachner

32 pages – ages 4+

Published by Dial; Rei/Com on October 16, 2012

Theme/Topic – Imagination/Bilingual

Opening and Synopsis –  “Skippyjon Jones was a real High-Wire Henry. And that made his mama as worried as a worm in a wading pool.”

Skippito friskito is back-ito and kitty boy is going to the circus with his doggy-pals, los chimmichangas. They sneak into the Cirque De Olé, past the léones, tigres and osos and into the strong dog’s dressing room. Skippyjon’s friends help their chico grow muy grande músculos to disguise him as the stong dog. When Putzi Shtrungleboot the REAL strong dog catches the gang, he is not happy! It is up to Skippito to save the day(ito)!

Why I liked this book – Like I said before, Josie and I LOVE Skippyjon Jones. The books are just AWESOME to read out loud. The rhymes and rhythm of the story is just fun PLUS you learn Spanish along the way. I love that Skippyjon is a cat who thinks he is a dog (his mom is pretty annoyed with that). The story in Cirque De Olé is really fun too. Skippyjon gets sent to his room by his mom for a time-out and Skippyjon’s imagination takes him to the circus. I think it shows kids how you can have a cool adventure by just using your imagination. I think everyone, including Siamese cats and Chihuahuas, will love this book! The copy we bought had a CD in it too with Ms. Schachner reading the book on it. That was cool to hear her read her own book!

Activities and Resources –

I think it would be cool to write your own Skippy adventure! Where will he go next? What will he do now? Who will he meet? Will he ever be happy being a Siamese cat instead of a chihuahua?

Teach your kids some words in Spanish! I found a website called “Spanish Playground” it has all kinds of resources for teaching kids Spanish. Click HERE to go to it.

There are a lot of great activities on the Skippyjon Jones website, click HERE to go to there.

To find more Perfect Picture Books please visit Susanna Hill’s blog HERE

Where I Live by Eileen Spinelli

17 Oct

Where I Live

By Eileen Spinelli

Illustrated by Matt Phelan

112 pages – ages 8+

Published by Dial on June 21, 2007

Diana loved her life. She lived in a house she loved surrounded by things she loved. She had a great mom and dad and a terrific best friend, Rose,  that lived right next door. Diana was very happy.

Then she started to notice that her parents weren’t very happy. Her mom had to go stay with her Grandpa Joe. Then came the news that her dad lost his job and they were all going to have to move to Grandpa Joe’s house and his house was far away from Diana’s house and her friend Rose. Even though Diana loves Grandpa Joe, she doesn’t want to move away from everything she loves. 

This book is an excellent book about moving and how kids feel about it. It is also a very special book to me. I got the book at a book signing I went to and Mrs. Spinelli was there. It was right after my parents told me we were moving because my Dad’s job got moved. So I knew  I was going to be the new kid. Mrs. Spinelli signed the book for me. I liked how Diana (the main character) told how she felt, and I think she is a great character. I like how the book is written from Diana’s point of view and it is in free verse (Diana wants to be a poet),  like Mrs. Spinelli’s book “The Dancing Pancake” (see my review HERE).  Mrs. Spinelli is a great story-teller and I think this is one of my favorite books of hers. When I saw that Matt Phelan did the illustrations for this book, I was even more excited! I am a fan of Mr. Phelan’s books like “Around the World” and “Storm in the Barn.” Mr. Phelan’s sketched illustrations added to the story and helped me picture it in my head. I recommend the book to any kid who is moving or if you are looking for a great free-verse middle grade book! 

Five out of Five Book Worms for “Where I Live”!

Eileen Spinelli is the award-winning author of loads of AWESOME children’s books.  To learn more about Mrs. Spinelli and her books, please visit her website HERE!

Matt Phelan is an award-winning author/illustrator! Check out his website by clicking HERE!

PS  Still no computer…maybe tomorrow!

Computer Problems and a Cool Book!

16 Oct

Hi everyone! I am back from New Mexico! I was planning on telling everyone about my trip  in a post I wanted to publish yesterday, but our computer crashed and I couldn’t put the pictures in the post. My mom let me use her laptop to try to catch up on emails and posts :) I hope I can tell you about our trip on Wednesday.

I don’t have a regular review for today, instead I have a  cool book to tell you about. The book is released today and I have been waiting for its release!  Some of you may know that I am a huge fan of Star Wars and I am also very fond of origami, so this book is one I am very excited about.  

Star Wars A Galactic Pop-Up Adventure

By Matthew Reinhart

Ages 7+

Hardcover

Published by  Orchard Books/Scholastic Inc. on October 16, 2012

I got a promotional book from Scholastic with only a portion of the pop-ups in it, but I was very impressed with how the pop-ups were designed! It seems more like origami than pop-ups. It’s like a  pop-up book for older kids or adults. I asked my parents to order me the whole book (I hope they get it for me). Along with the pop-ups there is text that tell about all the characters/places/things that are in the pop-up. A lot of it is information Star Wars fans may already know, but I still enjoyed reading the parts in the promotional book. I opened and closed the book a bunch to make sure the pop-ups didn’t stop working or to see if they bent the wrong way, but they kept working. I think any kid/adult that is a fan of Star Wars would like this.

Check this out!

Did I mention Darth Vader’s lightsaber actually lights up too?!? Pretty cool. I am not giving the book a bookworm rating because I didn’t read the completed version. I’ll let you know what I think the rating is when I get the completed book (please Mom and Dad) :D

If we don’t get our computer back tomorrow to get the pictures of our vacation to post about on Wednesday, I will still post a book review :)

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