Saturday, May 28, 2011

Junonia by Kevin Henkes

     Each year Alice and her parents vacation in Florida and celebrate Alice's birthday there.  Alice considers the guests in the other cottages and her mom's best friend  (who stays in their cottage) her extended family as she really has no other relatives.  She's hunting for junonia, a rare seashell and spends lots of time searching for it on the beach.  This year not only does the junonia continue to evade her but some of the regulars do not come to Florida.  Additionally Kate is joined by her boyfriend and his six-year-old daughter Mallory.  Alice is worried that her tenth birthday will not be the best birthday ever.
     Alice is a child on the cusp of pre-teen.  Supported by attentive and very loving parents, they help her navigate and deal with a trying situation.  It's very obvious that the other guests adore Alice but have little patience for Mallory.  Henkes is spot on in how a ten-year-old thinks.  From her jealous feelings and anger towards Mallory to the joy of her birthday gifts, from walks on the beach to the pitter patter of rain this is a delightful book and young girls in grades 3-6 will enjoy it.
     Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Harper Collins via Netgalley (without the illustrations).  

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Press Here by Herve Tullet

Press Here

The first time I prepared to read this book to a class it was checked out by an upper grade student when I wasn't looking. Finally today it was back and so I read it to a class of kindergartners. I asked one boy to come up to help me. Although I enjoyed the Press Here on my own it was seeing it through 5 and 6 year-old eyes that made me really appreciate it's brilliance. They loved it. They laughed and begged for more. Recommended for everyone!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Aliens on Vacation by Clete Smith

Publisher's description : "David, otherwise known as Scrub (don't ask), isn't happy about leaving Florida and his friends to summer with his grandmother in "Middle of Nowhere," Washington. When he arrives at her Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast, he isn't surprised by its 60s meets Star Wars decor, but he is surprised by the weird-looking guests. It turns out that each room in the inn is a portal, and his grandma is the gate-keeper, allowing aliens to vacation on Earth. Grandma desperately needs Scrub's help with welcoming (and disguising) the tourists, shopping for cartloads of aluminum foil for dinner, and taking rambunctious alien kids camping in the nearby woods. The problem is, the town sheriff--already suspicious about Granny--is a scout leader camping in the same spot."

A combination of science fiction and humor, Aliens on Vacation will appeal to a wide audience.  There is also a little romantic thread running through as Scrub finally learns how to talk to a girl, even one he has a crush on.  Scrub is an amazing young boy.  Thrown into a situation not many young boys would be able to handle he manages to help his grandmother take care of and entertain her "guests" in the inn although he also gets the inn into a lot of trouble around the same time he wins the summer challenge. The basketball scenes with the aliens are hysterical as is the kind of food the aliens eat. Imagine eating tin foil for dinner?  Yuk!.  All of the main characters are well drawn and Grandma, Mr. Harnox, Amy and Scrub are all believable and likeable.  The Star Wars theme is brilliant and kids who read nothing but Star Wars books will enjoy this.  Clete Smith has his finger on the pulse of what middle grade students like and I highly recommended this book for boys and girls alike.
Read as an ebook arc courtesy of Disney-Hyperion via Netgalley.