Tag Archives: bibliophile

Review! Stella By Starlight by Sharon M. Draper

24 Jan

stellaStella By Starlight

By Sharon M. Draper

336 pages – ages 9+

Published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers on January 6, 2015

Synopsis- The year is 1932. Stella and her family are African-Americans living in a segregated southern town. Stella loves her family, her community and her schools, but isn’t comfortable with being second class because of her skin color. When the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) is spotted doing a ritual near Stella’s house, Stellla’s community does everything they can to stay under the KKK’s radar. But when a conversation in church results in bringing up the fact that there is a chance for African American’s to vote, some of the men in Stella’s community go to sign up. And that’s when the KKK starts acting up. Stella decides to take a stand.

What I Liked- This is a marvelous historical fiction novel set in the segregated south. The description of the time and place brought vivid pictures to my mind. Ms. Draper really transports you into the story, and you can feel the strength of Stella’s community. It just makes you want to smile. Stella is a great main character whom you care greatly about and really understand her feelings. Stella is loosely based on Ms. Draper’s grandmother.  I like the addition of Stella’s journal writings in the book, with misspelled words slashed through, and when she was typing, some simple mistakes on the typewriter, etc. It is an incredible authentic touch to the story, and it brought out Stella’s character even more. The story has great historical information about segregation and the civil rights movement. Ms. Draper has packaged an incredible history lesson in a captivating story.

I give “Stella By Starlight” five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! How to Behave at a Tea Party by Madelyn Rosenberg

23 Jan

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 a fun story about two things I like (tea and partying), and how they can go incredibly wrong!

teapartyHow to Behave at a Tea Party
By Madelyn Rosenberg

Illustrated by Heather Ross
32 pages – ages 4+
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on September 9, 2014

Theme/Topic- Being flexible /

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening – First, you open the invitation.

Synopsis – All Julia wants is to have a fancy tea party. What’s so hard about that? Just add in a playful little brother, a hungry dog, an unlucky frog, and two young rough-housing neighbors. Easy tea party, right?

Why I liked this book- Ms. Rosenberg has written a marvelous picture book about a young girl who wants to throw a “fancy” tea party but all she has is not so fancy guests. :)  The book has a subtle, but great, message – be flexible – improvise! Live life to the fullest! The book is told in the form of Julia telling rules about a tea party. She says things like “You must NOT slurp like a moose. Or burp like Uncle Victor.” I love how the book shows that things may not go the way you plan, but you can still have fun. The illustrations are really funny, and have little details in them that are fun to look at!

Activities and Resources- 

HarperCollins has an awesome make your own fancy hat activity to go with the book! You can click HERE to go to it.

Fancy Hat Activity from HarperCollins

Fancy Hat Activity from HarperCollins

How about throwing your own “fancy” or even silly tea party! Who will you invite? What rules will you have?

I will have a silly tea party where you must

1. Hang upside down from a tree

2. Serve only donuts

3. You have to talk in a Downton Abbey accent

:)

Fotolia License © Alena Kozlova

Fotolia License © Alena Kozlova

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

Review! Camp Bad Guy Episode 1: The Worst Kids in the World by Ellis Weiner

22 Jan

campbadCamp Bad Guy Episode 1: The Worst Kids in the World

By Ellis Weiner

131 pages – ages 11+

Published by Frederator Books, LLC  on October 13, 2014

Synopsis: Jim Goode is a… Good kid. So why are his parents forcing him to come to Camp Bad Guy? It’s a summer camp that trains kids to be the world’s next dictators, supervillains, and just plain psychos! They’re encouraged to steal, cheat, trick, etc. And Jim is honest! After arriving at camp, Jim starts wondering if he really knows his parents after all. How will a good kid survive at Camp Bad Guy?

What I Liked: This book was awesome! It creates a new world that you will love and hate at the same time! I like how the descendants of the villains come from villains that are “real” (one of the counselors is James Bond’s best enemy’s grandson), while others are just made up for the book, like The Chuckler (the camp director), but are very creative. The story is hilarious and just a blast to read. The humor can be a bit edgy – like there is a class titled –  “How to Make Sure a Person is Drowning” and “Junior Life-Taking” (a play on life saving) – but – hey, it’s Camp BAD Guy! It’s the same kind of snarky humor in Mr. Weiner’s Templeton Twins.  There are a few minor cuss words (mostly “D***”). This stuff isn’t that bad, but I know some parents won’t like that for younger kids. Mr. Weiner’s story-telling abilities shine through in the book. I really liked the main character, Jim.

I give Camp Bad Guy five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Review! The Story Catcher by Donna L. Martin

20 Jan

STORY CATCHER BOOK COVERThe Story Catcher

By Donna L. Martin

34 pages – ages 6+

Published by Anaiah Press, LLC on January 20, 2015 (HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY! ;) )

Synopsis: Addie loves when her family members read to her. They are experts at catching stories! But for Addie, it has always been hard to catch her own story! The words always wriggle out of reach, squish out of sight, nettle out of the net! Will Addie ever become a story catcher?

What I Liked: First of all, I love that illustrations of the grandma has her in a type of aviator outfit – that is a great detail! The illustrations are gorgeous and really draw one in. They have a rather whimsical feel that makes you keep reading. Ms. Martin has written a wonderful story about learning to read, or “catch” stories, while just writing a good story. I like how Addie learns that with a little faith, you can do anything! Its amazing message is a really inspiring one. Ms. Martin’s debut picture book is extremely well written and fun.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

Want to know more? Visit Ms. Martin’s blog  – Click HERE

REVIEW! Tombquest: Book of The Dead by Michael Northrop

19 Jan

MARK YOUR CALENDARS FOR THIS ONE!

tomb

Tombquest: Book of The Dead

By Michael Northrop

197 pages (ARC)- ages 9+

Published by Scholastic on January 27, 2015

Synopsis: You know that life isn’t good when you’re 12 and you’re gonna die. The doctors don’t know what disease you have and they can’t help you. That’s Alex Sennefer’s life. That is, until his archaeologist/museum curator mom (think Indiana Jones – she works for the Metropolitan Museum of Art) finds the Lost Spells of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, and uses it to bring Alex back from the dead (he had been dead for 10 seconds). Great, right?  Well now a bunch of strange stuff is going on – museum mummies changing positions, strange weather patterns – and an ancient cult rising. The Death Walkers threaten everything in the world and Alex (and his best friend, Ren (who is a girl)) have to stop them.

What I Liked: This is a great start to a new series. There are 5 books planned for the series with the last one being published in March or April of 2016. Unlike Scholastic’s other multiplatform series, Tombquest will be written by just Mr. Northrop (the other series have different authors writing different books). Multiplatform means there is an online game to go with the books. I think that’s cool and a way to bring kids into reading when they may not be so interested in reading. Mr. Northrop really built up a great story. Alex is a great character, and Ren really reminds me of one of my classmates. The beginning of the book is a bit tense because Alex is always sick, but it builds up for the adventure that is going to happen. The book is non-stop action-packed. The dialogue was hilarious and very realistic. Plus, the online game (see it HERE) for it is really cool!

screenshotThe game is easy to use and appropriate for kids. It requires a Scholastic account (free to sign up for). I think it would have been better to have an example of the game on the main page so kids and parents could read what it is about before signing into it, but that’s only a minor point. The graphics are very cool. You can build your own tomb and raid others’. It is a nice compliment to the book.

I like how there are lots of little touches in the book – like the chapters are numbered with Egyptian numbers and there is an Egyptian alphabet in the back of the book.  Mr. Northrop wrote a great adventure with a satisfying ending but left a ton of questions  and plenty to write about in the next book. I am looking forward to the next adventure!

I give “Book of The Dead” 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Want to know more? Check out Mr. Northrop’s website HERE or Scholastic’s website HERE.

Perfect Picture Book Friday! The Stick by Clay Rice AND New Write Chat Episode!

16 Jan

Happy Friday!

Before I get to my Perfect Picture Book Pick, I wanted to ask that, after you are done here, click on over to The Write Chat, the Vlog that Felicia (kid author and creator of the Stanley and Katrina blog) and I started. We are interviewing – the Uber-Author CHRIS GRABENSTEIN!!!

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Now back to your regularly scheduled review.

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 uniquely encourages imagination and creation!


thestickThe Stick

By Clay Rice

32 pages – ages 4+

Published by Familius on September 20, 2014

Theme/Topic- 

Genre- Fiction / Imagination

Opening and Synopsis- Opening – “Once there was a boy who had no toys to play with. The other children had lots of toys. Every afternoon, the boy would go to the park, sit under a big tree, and watch the other children play. Sometimes they let the boy play with their toys. Sometimes not.”

Synopsis – From the inside jacket: When a young boy finds a stick on the ground, and reads the inspiring words carved into it, his life begins to change as he fulfills lifelong dreams and discovers the truth about giving.

Why I liked this book- This is the ultimate book about imagination. The book is totally narrated (no dialogue) and it add to the fable feeling of the story. It makes you feel nice inside. I like how there is a cycle, which explains how the boy got the stick, but not how the stick came to be (I like the mysteriousness of it). The boy is an underprivileged kid, who gets the ultimate toy – a stick – but not really -it is his imagination. The silhouette illustrations are amazing. They really add a neat perspective to this marvelous book!

Activities and Resources- 

Imagination play is very cool. After reading the books, give kids their own stick (or another object) and ask them to pretend it is something or pretend they are someone else.  How many different things can their stick be?

There is a cool activity over at PBS Kids that shows kids how to make their own silhouettes. Click HERE to go THERE!

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

 

 

 

Review! Galaxy’s Most Wanted by John Kloepfer

15 Jan

galaxysGalaxy’s Most Wanted

By John Kloepfer

Illustrated by Nick Edwards

224 pages – ages 9+

Published by HarperCollins on July 22, 2014

Synopsis- Kevin Brewer and his science camp friends (Tara, Warner, and TJ) are at the best STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) Camp in America. Basically it’s a science summer camp for nerds. Alexander Russ has won the Invention Convention (a competition) four years in a row, and Kevin isn’t going to give up yet! It doesn’t help that Alexander is a snobby rich kid. So, to beat him, Kevin and the other Extraordinary Terrestials (Kevin’s team) must do the impossible! Getting their idea from a comic book, they decide to make a Galactascope – a device that can communicate with aliens! To their surprise – no one really expected it – an actual alien, named Mim, responds, and appears through the sky! But what if Mim isn’t all that he seems?

What I Liked- I LOVED THIS BOOK! The world that Mr. Kloepfer creates is pretty much my heaven – nerd science camp – with aliens! And just plain cool stuff! The plot is really good! I like how there is a great plot twist in it that was somewhat unexpected (when it happens, it feels like there is no foreshadowing, but after thinking back, I realized that there was). The characters were believable, and very realistic. Kevin is a normal geeky nerd. So are his friends. It is really cool how they all have a specialty. Looking forward to reading book 2!

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Review! Ghosts of Belle Isle by Steven K. Smith

12 Jan

snithGhosts of Belle Isle – The Virginian Mysteries Book 3

By Steven K. Smith

228 pages – ages 7+
Published by MyBoys3 Press on October 9, 2014

Synopsis- Derek and Sam are back, along with Sam’s friend Caitlin. Derek and Sam’s parents are going to Paris on a honeymoon (in the last book, they redid their marriage vows), and they left a college-aged cousin in charge of them for the time-being. The cousin turns out to be a terrible chaperone (she’s more interested in her boyfriend). But she lets them do whatever (that’s part of the ‘only caring about her boyfriend’ thing). After hearing a ghost story from an older neighbor, Derek and Sam go to Belle Isle. They see a ghost drawn on the wall of a run-down factory, and hear strange voices. Altogether, very creepy. Add in a biker gang led by Mad Dog DeWitt that has a secret hideout in the factory. Will the kids figure out what’s going on with the biker gang and the ghosts?

What I Liked- This is a great addition to The Virginia Mysteries series. Mr. Smith really knows how to write a fun mystery. He puts in some thrilling parts, but still keeps it age-appropriate for his readers. Derek and Sam have a “normal” sibling relationship, which led to some humor in the book. The writing style is very good. I like how they go throughout Richmond, Virginia and see the historical sites. The reader thus learns some things about the Civil War in a fun way. This series is a perfect example of how small publisher/indie authors can turn out great books. I really hope that there is another book in this fun series!

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Mister Cool by Birdy Jones

9 Jan

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 has a really good message with a different take on the anti-bullying story.

mistercoolMister Cool
By Birdy Jones
Illustrated by Tara D Lynch
32 pages – ages 6+
Published by POW! on January 6, 2015

Theme/Topic- Anti-bullying

Genre- Self help

Opening and Synopsis- Opening “Don’t know if you heard… but I’m Mister Cool.”

Synopsis (publisher’s description) “The clever tactics of Mister Cool, who faces down the mean kids at school with confidence, show elementary-school age kids how to deflect bullying with humor and create friendships through kindness.”

Why I liked this book- I think that this book is a marvelous story about how to be yourself, and how to use your talents to take away a bullies’ power. It’s great how Mister Cool seems like he’s perfect at whatever he does, and while that may be true, he still gets bullied. It shows that anyone can get bullied. And using what they can do, and a witty (but kind) comeback, they can make new friends or maybe show a bully that he/she is wrong. The illustrations are funky and have a slightly abstract, notebooky kind of feel. It is very imaginative. This is a really well done book.

Activities and Resources-

Education World has a list of anti-bullying lesson plans – click HERE.

Bullying No Way! has a list of anti-bullying activities – click HERE.

You could role play with your kids and act out some of the bullying things Mr. Cool goes through (like getting tripped) and try to figure out another way to handle it (Mr. Cool breaks out into cool dance moves ;) ).

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

The Missing Lunch (The Young Mystery Series) by B.K. Maxwell

5 Jan

youngmystThe Missing Lunch (The Young Mystery Series: Book 1)
By B.K. Maxwell
160 pages – ages 8+
Published by Amazon Digital Services, Inc. on June 17, 2014

Synopsis- When a friend’s amazing PB&J sandwiches go missing, siblings Kia and Marcus Young are called in to help solve the case! And thus, the Young Detective Agency is born! But which suspect at Rydell Elementary did it? No case is too small for the Young detective agency!

What I Thought - This book has a good plot idea. It is a fun story that kids who are into mysteries will like. The content is totally appropriate for all ages and is a good choice for young readers. I really liked how the dialogue was realistic and kid-like. I thought the school setting and the  characters were believable. The twists in the plot were a nice addition to keep the reader guessing. The ending of the story seemed a bit rushed to me and the mystery could have used a bit more at the end. Kia is a very self-assured character that thinks quickly. Marcus is a strong character who seems to accuse people a bit too fast during the search for the culprit, at times seeming a little mean. The team work and relationship between Kia and Marcus seems like a typical brother/sister relationship and it works well in the story. There are editing errors in the book that made the reading sluggish at times, bringing the pace of this fun mystery down. Overall, it has a good story line and worth a read for kids who enjoy a Cam Jansen type mystery.

I give “The Missing Lunch” three out of five bookworms.threebooks

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