Monday, September 24, 2012

What Time is it? It's Duffy Time! by Audrey & Don Wood

This book is so adorable. Duffy is a dog that seems to sleep if there is nothing else going on. Or joins his "familly" on the couch or chair or bed and sleeps next to them. The pictures are charming. What Time is it? It's Duffy Time by Audrey & Don Wood just made me smile. Recommended for dog lovers or anyone that wants to smile.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Third Grade Angels by Jerry Spinelli

Suds is a boy entering third grade.  Mrs. Simms, his teacher, challenges her students to be kind, considerate, hard working and to behave in and out of school and will reward those that abide with a halo.  While this charming story focuses on Suds, aka George trying to be the first student to get the halo I enjoyed the relationship between Suds and his mom even more.  Loved the fact that he earned his nickname from the enjoyment of relaxing in the tub.  Loved the limited but important things the dad had to say and totally loved his mom and her words of wisdom.  The writing is perfect for second grade and up and reluctant readers will enjoy the humor, the illustrations and the short chapters.  

Readers will enjoy Jerry Spinelli's newest book and will probably search for his Fourth Grade Rats (Third Grade Angels is actually a prequel) to continue reading about Suds.  Read as an ebook arc courtesty of Scholastic via Netgalley.  


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire by Francesca Simon

Henry is horrid.  To his brother, his parents, his teachers and his classmates.  His parents are constantly telling him not to be horrid but I am not sure Henry knows how to be anything else.  In one chapter he does everything he possibly can to prevent his brother from telling a story and then actually tries to pretend it is his story in school!  In another he sabotages a healthy meal being cooked by a chef in school.  In the third he is once again picking on his little brother by tricking him into giving Henry his money, candy, and doing his chores.  In the final chapter he has his classmates believing their teacher is a zombie vampire.

As each chapter is a self-contained story Horrid Harry will bode well with reluctant readers. The illustrations are comical and add spice to the story. Young readers, especially boys are going to laugh out loud, enjoy this book, and beg for more Horrid Henry books.   Lucky for them there are lots more.

Read as an ebook courtesy of Sourcebooks via Netgalley.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fall Mixed Up by Bob Raczka

A young boy gets the fall months mixed up calling them Septober and Octember.  So naturally fall happenings get mixed up.  Apples turn orange.  Pumpkins turn red.  Squirrels fly south.
This book is sure to make children laugh and I can just hear them screaming "no, bears hibernate, not geese?"  The pictures work perfectly with the words in this wonderful fall read aloud book.  Recommended for pre-schoolers and up and I want it for my school library.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Book Lovers "Escape to Austin"

This blog post is for adult readers specifically.  Here's a chance to win a trip for 2 to Austin Texas for a literary escape to the Texas Book Festival.  

PR by the Book's "Escape to Austin " Contest
To celebrate its 10th Anniversary, PR by the Book will award one literary lover a trip to the home of storytellers like O. Henry and Willie Nelson: Austin, Texas

AUSTIN – Now in its 10th year of operation, with a growing pool of star literary talent and media personalities, PR by the Book has become a go-to firm in the book publishing industry for innovative publicity campaigns and top-tier media placement. 

Founded in 2002 by Marika Flatt, PR by the Book has grown from a one-woman operation to a team of 10, representing everyone from The Berenstain Bears series to Rex Pickett, author of the beloved book-turned-movie, Sideways.

Now, PR by the Book has decided it’s time to share the love. And what better way to do that than to award a trip to the town where it all got started: Austin , Texas ?

" Austin has burgeoned into a bustling literary community. When I started in book publicity here in 1997, I’d meet people who would be surprised I wasn’t from New York or Los Angeles ,” says Flatt. “Now, when I travel for work and people ask where I’m from and I tell them Austin , the response is something similar to: I adore Austin and what a literary town that is!”

The contest is called "Escape to Austin " and will be a truly one-of-a-kind trip for the lucky winner. The prize package includes round-trip airfare for the winner and a guest, a two-night stay at The Hilton Garden Inn downtown Austin, dinner for two at TRIO in the Four Seasons, a $50 gift certificate to historic Hyde Park Bar & Grill and a couple of bookish perks.

Drawing the likes of Susan Orlean and Chuck Palahniuk, the Texas Book Festival is one of the premiere literary fests in the country. Last year, the festival featured 243 authors and attracted 40,000 attendees. The winner of the "Escape to Austin" contest will be granted two VIP passes to the weekend-long festival October 26-28, as well as a pass to one of TBF's invitation-only author parties.

"We are very excited to partner with PR by the Book for this contest package," says Lidia Agraz, TBF's Executive Di rector. "We're still early in the talent line-up process, but I can say that this year's festival will offer attendees a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to commune with true literary icons."

To enter "Escape to Austin ," contest hopefuls must simply "like" PR by the Book on Facebook and fill out the entry form.The contest runs August 1 – August 31, 2012, and a winner will be selected by September 7 (open to U.S. residents only.)

PR BY THE BOOK is a boutique publicity firm specializing in literary media relations campaigns, publishing consultation, small business publicity, and publicity tours for authors and experts. Our team of seasoned publicists has worked on books in nearly every genre, and with dozens of major publishing houses and small presses. Visit to learn more.

For the Facebook link to enter:  click here

or copy and paste this link

Good Luck!

The No-Dogs-Allowed Rule by Kashmira Sheth

Ishan wants a dog. However, his mom is afraid of dogs so their family has a no-dog-allowed rule. Ishan walks the neighbor's dog, reads about dogs, and knows all about them. When the opportunity presents itself for Oggie, the neighbor's dog to stay in his house for a few days Ishan sets out to make his mom see that dogs can be lovable animals. Can Ishan convince her (and his dad) so they can get a dog? Find out in this very funny story. I always enjoy books about people from India in the U.S. and in India and learning bits about their culture. This book is no exception. Ishan is a comical fellow who will make readers laugh. Perfect for boys and readers who want a dog and or enjoy humorous stories.

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Albert Whitman & Co. via Netgalley.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dino-Football by Lisa Wheeler

In this Super Bowl like game including an explosive musical half time show, the Greenblade Snackers are playing the Redscales for the championship. All the football lingo is here in this delightful colorful and rhyming book. Touchdown. Penalty. Flea-flicker. The illustrator Barry Gott works well with author Lisa Wheeler to make this a charming story begging to be read aloud. It's easy to keep track of which player is doing what for which team as the red dinos names are in red and the green ones in green. The game is exciting and tense up until the end. Love the hint of the next title at the end of the book.

Dinosaurs and football.  Is there a better combination for a dad or grandpa to share with their little ones? Unless of course it's basketball you prefer.  For my review of Dino-Basketball click here written by the same team as Dino-Football.

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Carolrhoda Books via Netgalley.  Dino-Football will be available beginning August 1 2012.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Introducing Ami Rubinger : author and illustrator of picture books

As a parent I enjoyed reading books to/with my own children that stimulated their brains and made them think. I would read books about choosing books for kids and still do now as an elementary school library specialist. Thanks to Abbeville Press via Netgalley I have discovered a wonderful author/illustrator.  His name is Ami Rubinger and his books are extraordinary.  First is I Dream of an Elephant, a rhyming book about colors.  Hints are given in the rhymes about the color but the reader has to fill in the blanks and children will love doing that.  What a terrific way to explore colors.


Next we have Big Cat, Small Cat a book not just about cats.  Written in rhyme it helps young ones stretch their vocabulary to come up with the descriptive words about the cats.  The illustrations are adorable and the faces on the cats priceless.  Lastly is Dog Number 1, Dog Number 10 which uses dogs and rhymes and dogs to teach children to count to 10 while filling in the blanks.  All three books are creative and imaginative and will teach without children realizing they are learning.  Recommended for toddlers through second graders and older for those learning English as a second language.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Oh, Boy, Mallory by Laurie Friedman

Mallory hears through the grapevine that a boy in the next grade likes her.  She's not really sure she likes him or that she is ready for a boyfriend but her friends encourage her to pursue the relationship.  In  one funny scene after another we see what crushes in 4th and 5th grade are like, what happens when you do what your friend wants you to do and how in the end you should be true to yourself.  Laurie Friedman writes what young girls want to read about and her Mallory books are always so enjoyable.  This one is perfect for girls discovering boys.  Perfect for readers in 3rd-6th grade who enjoy contemporary fiction and for reluctant and struggling readers as it's written in diary form with loads of terrific illustrations by Jennifer Kalis.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Lerner Publishing Group via Netgalley.

For reviews of other Mallory books click here or here.

Mud Puddle by Robert Muncsh

For me it is impossible to not hear Robert Munsch's voice in my head when I read Mud Puddle!  Thank's to modern technology I have heard him read aloud 50 Below Zero at least 100 times as it is a favorite and I share his reading with my K-6 students every year.
Stephanie's Ponytail is another of my favorites.  

Mud Puddle is quite funny and the illustrations are charming.  Munsch lets the little girl work out this problem of the mud puddle and shows how smart kids can be. I look forward to sharing this book with my students in the next school year and opening up discussion on how to solve minor problems.   Recommended for kids of all ages to read independently or with parents as a read aloud.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Annick Press via Netgalley.

Friday, July 6, 2012

I Don't Belive it, Archie! By Andrew Norriss

Day after day for a week we read about the odd and unbelievable things that happen to Archie and his new friend Cyd. While odd things have always happened to Archie, having Cyd there as a witness helps him cope and gets him out of trouble. From being accused of robbing a jewelry store to being mistaken as a kidnapped kid, each occurrence is more bizarre than the previous one. The twist at the end is brilliant! Archie's mother can never understand just why he doesn't complete any task or errand and exclaims time again "I don't believe it, Archie!"

This is a very funny story that will appeal to boys and girls. The chapters are not too long and there are lovely illustrations that help explain the action. There are many British words that may need to be explained to some readers for example trainers are sneakers and pounds are dollars. Recommended for second grade (advanced readers)through sixth grade(reluctant readers). I read this as an advanced readers copy courtesy of Random House Children's Books via Netgalley.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Spunky Tells All by Ann Cameron

As a new dog owner ( 3 1/2 years) I have a different appreciation for stories told in a dog's point of view.  SPUNKY TELLS ALL had me laughing out loud and wondering if my dog had similar thoughts as Spunky.  While a sequel/companion to Ann Cameron's older books about Huey and Julian, readers do not have to be familiar with them although I believe after reading this one they may want more and will look for those older books. Written for readers graduating from easy chapter books this a nice transition book although it is not on the easy side. The chapters are not too long and there are pictures which are adorable.  I would recommended this for second grade advanced readers up through 6th grade for strugglers and definitely for those that enjoy dog stories and humorous books.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Crush:The Theory, Practice and Destructive Properties of Love by Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen is one of my favorite authors especially for adventure and historical fiction books for boys.  In meeting Kevin in Crush I've seen a whole other side to Paulsen and I love it!  Kevin wants to ask a girl out on a date but believes he needs to learn the ins and outs of love and relationships first.  He set out to find out what he can.  His observations are hilarious and readers, boy and girls alike, will laugh out loud.  I did!  Once readers get to know Kevin, they may also want to read the two previous books about Kevin, Liar, Liar and Flat Broke.  Recommended for fourth graders and up who enjoy humorous stories.  I will also recommended it for girls asking for romance books.  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Random House Children's Books via Netgalley.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Auggie is an amazing child born with a deformed face and home schooled until fifth grade.  The book begins as he enters a real school for the first time.  We witness the reactions of others as they see him for the first time in school and in day to day activities.  

Auggie has a terrific sense of humor and it is hard not to fall in love with him.  Not wanting pity he strives to be normal and we cheer him on from page one to page the last.  Occasionally the story shifts to other points of view which add another dimension to Wonder.  Some of these POV's push this book out of the elementary age range into middle school and higher however mature 5th and 6th graders will enjoy the book.

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Random House Children's Books via Netgalley.  However I have purchased this book for my school library and readers are enjoying it and we've had some lovely conversations about it.

Hannah's Way by Linda Glaser

Hannah is the only Jewish girl in her depression era class in Minnesota. When a class picnic is scheduled for a Saturday Hannah is disappointed when her parents won't let her ride in a car to get there as orthodox Jews do not ride on the Sabbath.  

While the story takes places over 70 years ago the theme rings true for today.  Living in Orange County my children were quite often the only Jewish kid in their class.  One year students were making Christmas ornaments.  My son decided to do it his way and made a Judah Maccabee ornament and we display it proudly to this day.    Hannah's classmates were tolerant of her religion and this story can be shared with classrooms filled with students of the same religion/nationality and those completely diverse.  Recommended for readers of all ages.

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Kar-Ben via Netgalley.

Madhattan Mystery by John J. Bonk

Lexi and her brother Kevin are spending a few weeks with their aunt in Manhattan while their dad and new stepmom enjoy their honeymoon.  Right off the train in Grand Central Station Lexi overhears snippets of a conversation that she soon realizes are clues to the disappearance of Cleopatra's jewels that were to be on exhibit at a New York museum.  Along with new friendemy Kim Ling Levine, a girl Lexi's age that lives in their Aunt Roz's building who just wants to be an investigative journalist, Lexi and Kevin set out to find the jewels and claim the reward money.

The three kids travel around New York City with Kim as their guide.  She is a Chinese Jewish American girl and I loved her as she made me laugh out loud with her Yiddish sayings (many of which I grew up with).  New York highlights include the theatre and Central Park as well as Grand Central Station.  Lexi and Kevin have such a wonderful sibling relationship and they help each other heal from the death of their mother.  Although gone about 2 years, their mother's influence is prevalent throughout the story and we know she is watching over her children.

The mystery aspects of the story twist and turn and yet Bonk lets us really learn about Lexi.  The writing is well paced and exciting although as a mother my heart breaks for the Lexi and Kevin.  Recommended for readers in grades 4 and up and for fans of mysteries, adventures, and stories that take place in New York City.

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Bloomsbury Children's Books via Netgalley.

Meeting Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

My children grew up loving all of Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith's books.  For over 13 years I have introduced 100's of students to The Time Warp Trio series, Math Curse, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales,  John, Paul, George and Ben and so many more written together and apart.
At ALA last week I had the privilege of meeting both of these wonderful inspirations to children (and adults).

Lane Smith is pictured here signing his 2012 Caldecott Honor book Grandpa Green for my students at Tynes.

Pictured here is Jon Scieszka signing his Smash! Crash!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Meeting Chris Raschka, Caldecott Medal Winner

In January, 2012 Chris Raschka won the Caldecott Medal for his book A BALL FOR DAISY.  You can read my blog post about that by clicking here.  In this photo, Chris is autographing books and artwork.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Meeting Nikki Grimes

Today I attended the American Library Association's conference.  It is so exciting to meet authors, illustrators and publishers.  Pictured here is author Nikki Grimes autographing a book for me.  Nikki Grimes is the author of many wonderful books including PLANET MIDDLE SCHOOL.  To read my review of PLANET MIDDLE SCHOOL click here.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chomp by Carl Hiasson

Not realizing this was going to be such a funny book I was quite surprised to find myself smiling and laughing throughout! It will be impossible to watch reality TV without questioning the scenery and dialogue and wondering just what is real and what isn't. Although the book is long it will grab reluctant readers (especially boys) with it's non-stop action, sense of adventure and (rather mild) aspects of danger. The relationship between Wahoo and his Dad is so loving and hearfelt. The book makes me think that perhaps Julie (Wahoo's sister) has a story to be heard and for sure I would like to know more about Tuna. However none of this distracts from a very satisfying ending.

Recommended for fans of Carl Hiassen, adventure books, animal stories and action books. There is also a small romance thread. Reluctant readers could easily be drawn in especially if they enjoy any of the above situations. I won't be surprised to see this made into a movie someday. Read as an eBook arc courtesy of Random House Children's Books via Netgalley.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Stink and the Midnight Zombie Walk by Megan McDonald

As a big fan of Stink and Judy Moody books I was not surprised to find that I loved this book.  What I was surprised about was that it was scary!  Not in a bad way, in a good way.  My students are always asking for scary books and now I can point them in the direction of Stink and the Midnight Zombie Walk.  This can also serve the purpose of introducing them to Megan McDonald's wonderful books and terrific characters.

The word play is fabulous.  The illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds are awesome and help move the story along.  There is enough humor to offset the scary parts.  The siblings relationship is authetic and the parents offer just enough support.  Recommended for fans of Judy and Stink or readers new to these books, students asking for scary books, second graders and up and reluctant readers.  Every school library should have this one and it's on my wish list!  Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Candlewick Press via Netgalley.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen by Donna Gephart

Olivia Bean lives with her mom, almost step-dad and little brother.  Each evening she watches Jeopardy! and does amazingly well against the other contestants.  She used to watch the show with her dad but he ran off with her best friend's mom and her best friend.  With the opportunity to try out for the kids Jeopardy! Olivia Bean wants to win not only for the money and the glory but also for the chance to fly to Los Angeles where her dad lives.

Sadly, Olivia Bean's dad is one disappointing parent.  Luckily her step-dad is the complete opposite.  He and her neighbor give her the help and guidance that she needs and I held my breath when the possibility of the dad ruining everything nearly happened.  This is a terrific story about a smart girl, an adorable little brother, love and friendship.

While reading Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen I felt as if she was one of my students.  Flashback about seven years ago when one of my students was on Jeopardy!  I knew how hard she had studied and I knew how proud her sister, parents, teachers and friends were.  We were all even invited to a party to watch the show.  Needless to say I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it to fourth graders and up.

Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Random House Children's Book via Netgalley. Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen will be available March 13, 2012.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Up Dog by Hazel Hutchins

How many ways can you use the word up?  That is what I thought of as I read this book.  "Open up" the door, "dig up" the bone, get all muddy and "mess up" the house, etc.  Young children will love the mess the dog makes and may even understand why the pup is put in the pen ("pen up") as a punishment while the owner has to "clean up."  The illustrations by Fanny are colorful and adorable and will keep children entertained.  While this is a board for toddlers I can see pre-schoolers and even kindergartners enjoying reading this book.  Once they know how to read the word UP the charming illustrations will help them decipher the other words and understand  the different uses for the words.  I can also see this book used with ELL's.  A great addition to a baby's growing library.  Read as an ebook arc couretsy of Annick Press via Netgalley.