Tag Archives: book review

Review! Always, Abigail by Nancy Cavanaugh

26 Nov

alawaysabigailAlways, Abigail
By Nancy Cavanaugh
320 pages – ages 9+
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky on August 5, 2014

Synopsis- Abigail Walters was entering the sixth grade, and, along with her best friends Alli and Cami, can’t wait to become a Pompom Girl. Then everything goes wrong. Alli and Cami get the same homeroom, and have the same teachers. Abigail has the meanest homeroom teacher in the school. When that teacher assigns a project where you write letters to an assigned person in the class, Abigail gets paired with Gabby – an outcast-y, “weird”-type – and Abigail dreads it. But what if she actually starts to like Gabby? And starts to realize that her friends aren’t as nice as she thought they were?

What I liked-This was a great book about choosing what you  should do, over what you want to do. At first, I wasn’t sure about the writing style of the book, it started off as list after list after list, but then I figured out that the book was written like a notebook, and I found myself really liking it. Abigail tells her story though lists and small paragraphs (for example: 3 Reasons I Know I Was Born To Be A PomPom Girl, and What I Wanted To Say, But Didn’t). The style really grew on me. Abigail has always wanted to be one of those popular “PomPom Girls” (I am figuring that is a cheerleader), but first, she doesn’t get any classes with her two best friends, and then, in her Language Arts room, she gets partnered with the biggest “loser” in 6th grade and she pretty much thinks her life is over. I didn’t really like how Abigail blatantly calls Gabby (her partner), a “loser” in her notebook. I really disliked her at first, but I guess that is the point of the story. ;) Abigail goes through a natural, yet significant, character change. As a reader, I really enjoy that in a book.

I give “Always, Abigail” four out of five bookworms!fourbooks

Review! Leap Write In! by Karen Benke

26 Nov

leapwriteLeap Write In!
By Karen Benke
256 pages – ages 11+
Published by Roost Books on April 2, 2013

Synopsis [from the back cover]- In this book you’ll find: On-The-Spot Drops that offer “free-fall” prompts on different themes, such as short-winded poems and seven-line stories. Mini Memoirs to unlock personal narratives to share, or not. Suddenly A Story suggestions to explore feelings and states of being like fear, reluctance, compassion, kindness, anxiety, anger, jealousy, happiness, and more. Surprise Yourself Surveys for those who think they know everything about themselves. Untie-Your-Mind Word Lists to jump start stalled imaginations. Definition Decoders to introduce new ideas and styles of writing.

What I Liked- First off, I was very excited to read this book! Ms. Benke’s other book “Rip The Page!” was great, and really helped me with my writing. I found this book was a great follow-up to “Rip The Page!” because the writing challenges were a bit more complex. The prompts were realistic and slightly challenging to do, especially if you aren’t in your creative mind frame, like the activities “Stop Making Sense” and “Your Moody Monkey Mind” – two of my favorites. Ms. Benke gave several activities for each prompt, giving the reader a choice to do. She also included some examples, from real people, so you get your creative juices flowing, and have some real inspiration. The book covers a wide range of creative writing topics, from dialogue tags to – **ugh** – the necessary step of revision. There are some really fun things to do. Ms. Benke shares some “mini memoirs” of her life, and encourages others to do the same. This is a wonderful writing resource!

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Check out one of the creative writing things I did! I wrote a pantoum (I never even heard of this poem type before reading this book).

A Pantoum Pantoum

               [   or   ]

An Ode to Pantoums Everywhere

            By Erik

A pantoum is
An interesting poem type
That’s fun to do
With simple steps.

An interesting poem type:
You can master it
With simple steps.
Can you see it take shape?

You can master things
With some effort.
I can see a poem
Forming from mid-thought.

With some effort,
It’s fun to do.
Forming from mid-thought,
Is a pantoum.

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

23 Nov

sistersSisters

By Raina Telgemeier

208 pages – ages 8+

Published by GRAPHIX on August 26, 2014

Synopsis- Raina and her family are going to Colorado for a family reunion. She, her sister, brother, and mom are going by car, and their dad will fly in later. Along the way, a lot of things go wrong for Raina and her family. Raina and her sister never get along, even though Raina wanted a sister for years. The arguing made the car trip even longer. After pretty much everything goes wrong, especially her parents hinting that they don’t get along anymore, Raina starts to wonder if anything will get better.

What I liked- This is a really cool graphic novel. It’s pretty interesting how, along with the story-line, there are also “flashbacks” that Raina has. That was fun. Raina (the character, reflects Ms. Telgemeier, because another one of Ms. Telgemeier’s books, Smile (also a great bookand Sisters are memoirs) is an average 14-year-old, with an average, slightly angry younger sister. They have a normal, argumentative, at times humorous, relationship. It was a nice touch that Raina and her sister were kind of brought together by the fact that their parents might get divorced, and that they were scared of what would happen. The story is full of humor, and seems very realistically done. It is a nice story, and the illustrations are top-notch. I hope that there will be another book!

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Pinkalicious: Thanksgiving Helper by Victoria Kann

21 Nov

 

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 – Author Julie Anne Grasso!

While you are there, please sign up for our newsletter to be notified when we post a new Vlog (we only post once a month). You can also check out the AWESOME line-up of authors we will be interviewing.  CLICK HERE TO GO THERE !

pinkaliciousthanksPinkalicious: Thanksgiving Helper

By Victoria Kann

24 pages – ages 4+
Published by HarperFestival on August 26, 2014

Theme/Topic- Thanksgiving /  helping

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis-
Opening – “It was Thanksgiving Day! I could hear Mommy baking in the kitchen and could smell the turkey cooking in the oven. Outside, Daddy was raking a big pile of leaves.

Synopsis- This year, Pinkalicious and Peter decide to be Thanksgiving helpers! They try to make everything pinkaperfect but all doesn’t go as planned.

Why I liked this book- This is a cute Thanksgiving book. I like how Pinkalicious and Peter do their best to help out with setting up for Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t always work out for them. The illustrations are fabulous. The detail that they have in them is cool (like there are music notes in the hill side when they go outside to play). Pinkalicious is a great, realistic young girl, and she just wants to help out, but she sometimes doesn’t think things through completely – sounds like a lot of kids. ;) This is a very nice book for Thanksgiving because it talks about being Thankful and also shows that even though you make mistakes, it’s trying to help that matters.

Activities and Resources-

There is a pull out poster right in the book! It is one that you can fill out. There are word boxes to fill out with prompts like “Thanksgiving is…” and “On Thanksgiving I like to…: and even a spot to draw your Thanksgiving dinner!

There are also Thanksgiving stickers and dinner place cards that you can fill out and tell each person something you are thankful for.

I found this cute craft on iVillage.com (CLICK HERE TO GO TO IT). It is a turkey craft and you write on each feather something you are thankful for.

turkey

You can read a sample of the book at HarperCollins website HERE.

There is always a TON of things to do at the Pinkalicious website click HERE.

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

 

Review! The Scavengers By Michael Perry

19 Nov

thescavengersScavengers

By Michael Perry

336 pages – ages 8+
Published by HarperCollins on September 2, 2014

 

SUMMARY – Maggie was an OutBubbler. She and her family live outside the “Bubble-cities” that most people choose live under. The bubble-cities were cities that are under bubble-like domes that “protect” the inhabitants from danger. The OutBubblers live out of the cities and fend for themselves, with no electricity, guns, or other things like it.  When Maggie’s family disappears and her house is ransacked, she and her little brother find refuge with their neighbors, Arlinda and Toad Hopper. Maggie soon finds out that her father had things he was doing with the government, and that he had deserted, and the government wanted him back. What will Maggie do?

WHAT I THOUGHT – This was a really cool book. The dystopian factor was cool, but also slightly creepy. I would like to know more about the back-story about the bubble-cities and how they came to be. Toad Hopper, Maggie’s neighbor, is a cool guy. He is sometimes hard to understand, because he uses tons of word-play and pig latin in what he says (for example: Nule Rumber Half A Dancing Skirt) – but it is also kind of fun to decode what he’s trying to say. Maggie is a great female character that you come to care for. She is brave and spunky at the same time. The setting is important to the story. Fortunately for the reader, Mr. Perry is a great story-teller and he vividly described the world. The world really makes it hard for the OutBubblers to live, but it makes it more worthwhile when they succeed. The way the land is described makes me think of a barren wasteland outside of the bubble-cities (besides huge government-run fields of genetically-modified corn). The story-telling in the book is really, really good.

I give this book 5 out of 5 bookworms.fivebooks

Review! Rude Dude’s Book of Food by Rude Dude AKA Tim J. Myers

17 Nov

rudedudeRude Dude’s Book of Food: Stories Behind Some of the Crazy-Cool Stuff We Eat Paperback
By Tim J. Myers

Illustrated by Jess Smart Smiley

144 pages – ages 9+
Published by Familius on September 5, 2014

SUMMARY – Have you ever wondered where modern pizza came from? Did you know that those “Chinese Fortune Cookies” are originally Japanese? You will learn this and more in this non-fiction book about why food is great. It is filled with miscellaneous information, under different categories, like a chapter about pizza also talks about tomatoes (an ingredient). The book shows food from around the world, to show kids that we are all different, but we all eat FOOD.

WHAT I THOUGHT – I think that this is a great non-fiction book. I like all of the little tidbits and fun facts about food it has. Did you know that tomatoes were called Golden Apples (after the yellow tomatoes) and thought poisonous for a bit? Did you know that scientists have found 4,000-year-old noodles in China? Oh, and by the way, Rude Dude, the author’s pseudonym, isn’t really rude, he just speaks his mind. And he advises healthy eating, which is another plus. The book is formatted very well, and made it fun to read – there are little fact boxes and poems scattered throughout the book, plus cool pencil/pen illustrations by Jess Smart Smiley that mix well with the text. Mr. Myers has written a fun mini-history of the diversity of food for kids. It would be perfect for reluctant readers, or kids who don’t usually like nonfiction books… or kids like me, who just like to eat. ;) Which reminds me, there is a warning at the front of the book – “This book will probably make you very, very hungry! Good luck with that.”

Erik the Great Eater gives this book 5 out of 5 bookworms!fivebooks

Perfect Picture Book Friday! Ava’s Adventure by Laura Pedersen

14 Nov

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 seems to realistically capture how a young child thinks when it comes to being disappointed.

avasAva’s Adventure

by Laura Pedersen

Illustrated by Penny Weber

32 pages – ages 5+
Published by Tilbury House Publishers on September 3, 2014

Theme/Topic- Disappointment / imagination

Genre- Fiction

Opening and Synopsis- Opening – “Bye, Ava! Bye, Lucas!

Synopsis (publisher’s description) – “Disappointed that she can’t go on a snowboarding trip with her friend, Ava escapes to her room, where she finds that the power of imagination and her own creativity take her farther than any snowboard could. At the same time, she learns that life’s tradeoffs aren’t all bad.

Why I liked this book- This is a marvelous picture book. I like that it shows that life isn’t all unicorns and rainbows (and donuts). Ava is a realistic girl, and teaches a nice lesson without being preachy. In the book, even though her parents say ‘No’, and Ava can’t go, besides being upset that she can’t go, Ava is still nice to her parents (after throwing a minor fit). Ava comes to realize not getting what she wants isn’t the end of the world. The illustrations are very well-done water color, and really portray the characters’ emotions. Ms. Pedersen has written a great book!

Activities and Resources- I think it is a good idea to read this story BEFORE a disappointment happens then you can talk about what Ava did and how, even though she was disappointed, she had a really great time.

As part of the story, you could ask, “If you were Ava, what kinds of things would you find to do in your room?”

The Mrs. Picasso’s Art Room blog has TONS of great Winter-themed craft and art ideas – I really like the Popsicle stick snowflakes. Check it out – click HERE!

Want to know more? Check out Ms. Pedersen’s website HERE!

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

Review! Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone by Darlene Foster

13 Nov

perf5.0625x7.8125.inddAmanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone

By Darlene Foster

156 pages – ages 8+
Published by Central Avenue Publishing on July 11, 2014

Amanda is back in an all-new adventure, but this time, it’s on her turf! Leah (Amanda’s friend) has come all the way from England to visit Amanda in her province of Alberta, Canada. Everything goes well, until a rodeo clown drops a strange stone. Amanda picks it up, and tries to return it to the clown, but she was too late – he was gone. The stone was round and had a marking on it. Suddenly, people seem to be wanting the stone urgently, although their purposes may be unclear – and maybe even dangerous!

This is a marvelous book, one that made me feel like I was there with Amanda and Leah. Ms. Foster really has a way of taking you through the landmarks of Alberta. I found it funny that Alberta has both the World’s Biggest Dinosaur, and the World’s Largest Tipi – Alberta must be a big province! ;) Amanda is a great middle-grade character. She is a friendly person, and a wonderful role model. Leah is a pretty cool Brit. ;) The plot is fun and engaging as are all of the Amanda books. I love how Ms. Foster puts the reader right in the action and kids get to learn about the exciting places Amanda goes. The action and mystery in the book makes it a fun read for kids!

I give “The Writing on the Stone” five out of five bookworms! fivebooks

Want to learn more? Visit Darlene Foster’s website by clicking HERE!

Check out my reviews of AMANDA IN ARABIAAMANDA IN ENGLAND  – AMANDA IN SPAIN!

Review! Jayden and the Mysterious Mountain by Katrina Cope

11 Nov

jayden

Jayden and the Mysterious Mountain

by Katrina Cope

Book 1 of The Sanctum Series
262 pages – ages 11+
Published by CreateSpace on September 2, 2013

Jayden was a homeless child, one who ran away from home to get away from his father. When he is picked up by a rich, mysterious man, he gets the craziest offer of a lifetime – he can get a home, a fantastic college, and a loving community – all in one. The man, Avando, was picking up homeless tweens and teens and bringing him to his school, The Sanctum, to live at. There was one condition though – that they must try. They must try to get good grades, and try to be plain good. Oh – and there is the part where he has to learn all sorts of technology to help the man combat terrorism. Is it all too good to be true?

This was a good read. My interest was piqued from start to finish. The story started off a bit sluggish, but it picked up towards the end.  The academy Jayden goes to sounds amazing and the school was described well. There wasn’t a whole lot of conflict or action in the story while he is there, except at the end. I liked the technology use in the story instead of magic (love Harry Potter, but really like different story ideas!). As a note to parents, there was some mild cursing in the book – nothing over the top. The characters were likable, Jayden is good as the main character, one that you can connect with. The plot of the book had just enough mystery for me to wonder what was really going on.

Four out of five bookworms.fourbooks

Double Play! Mutation by Roland Smith & Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

9 Nov

Get ready for some literary awesomeness in my post today! I have reviews of two books by two  of my favorite authors I waited for months to read!

mutationMutation

By Roland Smith

Series: Cryptid Hunters
352 pages – ages 11+
Published by Scholastic Press on September 30, 2014

Marty, Grace, and Luther are back in the thrilling conclusion to the Cryptid Hunters series! Wolfe, who is Grace’s dad and Marty’s uncle, and scientist specializing in cryptids (animals rumored to exist but were never proven (Ex: giant squid, Bigfoot)), and his strange group of employees have pinpointed where Marty’s parents disappeared in the Brazilian jungle. The cryptid hunters team get to a member’s research base in Brazil, only to keep having team members go missing. It almost seems like they are getting picked off one by one… It seems like an isolated tribe is to blame, but how do they know basic English, and how to disable modern-day electronics? What will happen when the kids are the only ones left to protect the cryptids that Wolfe has rescued?

This was an amazing ending to the Cryptid Hunters series! Mr. Smith has a great series here, and I was sad to see it end, but I was very satisfied with the ending. There is enough action, adventure, and excitement to go around – I couldn’t put it down! Marty and Grace (and you as the reader) learn a lot about Noah Blackwood (the millionaire zoo-chain owner who is diabolically evil) in this book (for example, his name isn’t even Noah Blackwood!). I love how Mr. Smith mixes science and sci-fi together in his story lines. The characters in the series are ones that the reader gets to know well. The good guys are ones you will like and cheer for and the bad guys will make your skin crawl. The ending is great, but I also kind of thought it had to end the way it did (Noah was too popular to just go to jail). I really like how Mr. Smith pulled everything together in the end… now maybe he’ll reconsider and write another Marty and Grace book… pretty please?

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

~~~

bloodThe Blood of Olympus

By Rick Riordan

502 pages – ages 10+
Published by Disney Hyperion on October 7, 2014

Percy. Jason. Annabeth. Piper. Frank. Hazel. Reyna. Leo. Nico. Coach Hedge.  Greek demigods. Roman demigods. (and one satyr) Traditional enemies. (except for the satyr) And the fate of the world rests upon their shoulders. (including the satyr) They must stop the evil earth giant, Gaea, from rising to destroy everything of mankind. She’s kind of in a grouchy mood and has made it hard for those demigods to stop her. Especially since she’s convinced the two Greek and Roman camps to fight each other to the death. With about a week before Gaea rises, and the two camps warring, how will the team stop the end of the world happening?

This was a very thrilling conclusion to the Percy Jackson Saga. It was also sad to see this series go, but I still enjoyed reading it. Mr. Riordan sure knows how to keep you hooked and reading. He adds just the right amount of humor into this book, mixed with plenty of thrills and danger, and a dash of despair. I finished it in about 3-5 days, only reading it in school (except for the last day). I noticed that The Blood of Olympus is darker than the other books. It seems that everyone is at their wit’s end in it,  which makes sense, seeing how they are going to go against extremely powerful giants. Everything gets tied up neatly. It also makes a nice progression in the series. As this is the last official Percy book that Mr. Riordan is doing (he’ll be doing a series on the Norse gods next!) we readers couldn’t have asked for a better end – well maybe that it wouldn’t end! Mr. Riordan has written a rather stunning ending to the Heroes of Olympus series. I can’t wait to read the Magnus Chase books (the Norse god books)!

I give this book five out of five bookworms!fivebooks

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,649 other followers

%d bloggers like this: