Friday, September 28, 2012

More Bears! and Cat Secrets

 More Bears
By Kenn Nesbitt
Sourcebooks, Nov 2010
Hardcover, 32 pages
Rating: 5 Bites. More bears please!

"Once upon a time there was a story. It was a lovely story with absolutely NO BEARS in it—not a SINGLE BEAR anywhere."

If you haven't read this book-stop everything you're doing and go get it. The book is about an author who's writing a book that has no bears in it. Or does it? What?

Love this book. Kids will love it. LOVE it. AND the book is cheaper from Sourcebooks! They have some cheap titles there that are better priced than Amazon (though for me it says there's $6 shipping). So if you buy a few it would be "so worth it!" Oh if I were made of money!

More Bears will be one that is loved for sure!

Cat Secrets
By Jef Czekaj
Balzer and Bray, Jan 2011
Hardcover, 32 pages
Rating: 5 Bites

"I'm sorry—this book is not for you. This book is for CATS ONLY.
What's that you say?
You are a cat?
Okay . . . get ready to prove it!"

You know those books that are perfect for bedtime. Well this one is perfect for naptime. Interactive. And fun. See how well you can pretend you're a cat! And while you're at it...take a nap.

Both books I really liked. We actually have the More Bears one from (paperback from Scholastic) and we got Cat Secrets from the library. Both giggling interactive books.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bridget Fidget

Bridget Fidget and The Most Perfect Pet
By Joe Berger
Dial Books for Young Readers, June 2009
Hardcover, 32 pages
Rated: 3.5 bites, not life changing, but a cute book

"When a big box arrives one morning, Bridget Fidget leaps out of bed and spins down the stairs. She knows what's inside - a unicorn! After all, she's always wanted a pet unicorn, so it must be a pet unicorn. But inside the box is just another . . . smaller . . . box. And it's buzzing. This is no unicorn. But could it possibly be something even better?"

This was a cute little book I found at the library. I love the drawings. And Bridget's a curious little girl. Perhaps toddlerish-she's got some good emotions in there! And ends up happy with what she's got. A great story for girls!I mean, seriously, she wants a unicorn. How fun is that?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Series to try out!

Series are wonderful! It's like a story that doesn't end...until it does. But at least it's lengthened out. The only bummer is waiting for the next book it's not all published.

Here's some series I've read and loved...or read and loved and then didn't.

Artemis Fowl
By Eoin Colfer
April 2001
Hardcover, 277 pages
8 books in the series

"This rip-roaring, 21st-century romp of the highest order is a combination of folklore, fantasy, and a fistful of high-tech. These two crime caper fantasies feature anti-hero Artemis Fowl, a twelve-year-old boy-genius and the last of a clan of international underworld figures and con artists. Rough 'n' tumble storytelling with plenty of attitude.
From a strikingly original new voice comes the story of Artemis Fowl, a very unusual hero. Artemis is a genius, a criminal mastermind, and a millionaire...and he is only twelve years old! A combination of Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, and Attila the Hun, even Artemis doesn't know what he's taken on when he kidnaps a fairy — because these fairies are armed and dangerous, and don't play by any rules!"

I love this series....except for # 7. Can you have a favorite series and not finish one of the books? Ahh! And since I haven't read #8, the last one, that came out July 2012 I can't tell about that one. So, at least the first 6 books are great. So...I'd still suggest reading this one. Criminal mastermind 12 year old. It's just fun! Recommended for ages 11-14.

By the way, his book signings/shows are entertaining. Though as he's gotten BIG, it seems that there's not that "quality" time with the readers as they're passing through the conveyor belt. I believe I'd asked him about adding a book to his Supernaturalist one, which he said he would. But we're still waiting for that.

Artemis Fowl (Artemis Fowl, #1)

Gregor the Overlander
By Suzanne Collins
Scholastic, 2003
Paperback,  310 pages
5 books in the series

When Gregor falls through a grate in the laundry room of his apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland, where spiders, rats, cockroaches coexist uneasily with humans. This world is on the brink of war, and Gregor's arrival is no accident. A prophecy foretells that Gregor has a role to play in the Underland's uncertain future. Gregor wants no part of it until he realizes it's the only way to solve the mystery of his father's disappearance. Reluctantly, Gregor embarks on a dangerous adventure that will change both him and the Underland forever.

Usually I'm not so into book that have animals in them, but Suzanne Collins (you know, the author of The Hunger Games, in which I'd suggest that it would be a great read....for older kids. Of the mature age. There is a lot of violence. I might just say that would go in the "young adult" category, perfect for

Anyway- I read this one long ago, after I had read the first book in the Hunger Games trilogy and it was nice to know that Suzanne Collins knows how to write entertaining books.

I've been to one of her book signings as well. And I was able to get a picture with her.
Recommended ages 11-14.

Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles, #1)

Mercy Watson to the Rescue
By Kate DiCamillo, Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
Candlewick Press, August 2005
Hardcover, 80 pages
5 books in the series

"Have Mercy! Get ready for an exciting new series from Newbery Medal winner Kate DiCamillo
To Mr. and Mrs. Watson, Mercy is not just a pig -- she's a porcine wonder. And to the portly and good-natured Mercy, the Watsons are an excellent source of buttered toast, not to mention that buttery-toasty feeling she gets when she snuggles into bed with them. This is not, however, so good for the Watsons' bed. BOOM! CRACK! As the bed and its occupants slowly sink through the floor, Mercy escapes in a flash -- "to alert the fire department," her owners assure themselves. But could Mercy possibly have another emergency in mind -- like a sudden craving for their neighbors' sugar cookies? Welcome to the wry and endearing world of Mercy Watson -- an ebullient new character for early chapter-book readers in a series that's destined to be a classic.
From the one and only Kate DiCamillo comes an irresistible new hero for early chapter book readers, brightly captured with comic nostalgic flair by Chris Van Dusen."
This is a larger sized book...about 7 x 8 inches. It's colorful and has larger type letters with many pictures. It's great for children transitioning from picture books to chapter books. It is a book with an animal as the main character and is silly! Recommended ages 5-7. The pictures are great inside. The cover doesn't do it enough justice.

Mercy Watson to the Rescue (Mercy Watson #1)

By Margaret Peterson Haddix
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Sept 2008
Hardcover, 160 pages
7 books in the series

"Luke has never been to school. He's never had a birthday party, or gone to a friend's house for an overnight. In fact, Luke has never had a friend.
Luke is one of the shadow children, a third child forbidden by the Population Police. He's lived his entire life in hiding, and now, with a new housing development replacing the woods next to his family's farm, he is no longer even allowed to go outside.
Then, one day Luke sees a girl's face in the window of a house where he knows two other children already live. Finally, he's met a shadow child like himself. Jen is willing to risk everything to come out of the shadows -- does Luke dare to become involved in her dangerous plan? Can he afford not to?"

I'm a fan of Margaret Peterson Haddix. Her stories are creative and mysterious...well some...not all. This is series seems like a popular one among kids ages 8 and up.

Among the Hidden (Shadow Children, #1)

If you like fairytales, you should check out Just Ella by Haddix for ages 11-14. It's not a series, but could have been the first book I read of Haddix's. A retelling of Cinderella, but not exactly as you'd think.

Well if you like series, there's a few to entertain! What are some series you like?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Regarding the Fountain

Regarding the Fountain
By Kate Klise, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise
HarperCollins, April 1998
Hardcover, 144 pages
Rating: 5 Bites. Must read!

"The Dry Creek Middle School drinking fountain has sprung a leak, so principal Walter Russ dashes off a request to Flowing Waters Fountains, Etc.
...We need a new drinking fountain. Please send a catalog.
Designer Flo Waters responds:
"I'd be delighted...but please understand that all of my fountains are custom-made."
Soon the fountain project takes on a life of its own, one chronicled in letters, postcards, memos, transcripts, and official documents. The school board president is up in arms. So is Dee Eel, of the water-supply company. A scandal is brewing, and Mr. Sam N.'s fifth grade class is turning up a host of hilarious secrets buried deep beneath the fountain."   

I told you I'd have an "old" book update soon! This one could have worked too for the Under the Sea giveaway....fountain....water...good enough!

This book is so clever. If you have reluctant reader, this one should help entertain. It's a SILLY novel and since it's written in letters, memos, postcards, etc, it's mostly just "conversations". I'm the type of person who sometimes gets bored with overdescriptions but loves the talking parts, so this book was much more that....talking.  

The ending had some newspaper clippings and other documents ("documents" for fear of sort of spoiling) that weren't as "conversationy" which bored me a little, but you could skim through those to get to the good parts.

Everyone's name in the town also has a water theme, so watch out for that....Sam N. ... Minnie O.

This book is just the first in a series of "Regarding the....." presumably about fixing up their school. It's funny. Not your laugh out loud, but entertaining! I mean they wanted a new drinking will they end up with a FOUNTAIN fountain?

And it's a clean read. For ages 8-12, says the publisher, but I'd think even high schoolers could like this one. It's just so different than the usual and fun!

Paperback is also available on Amazon here

Regarding the Fountain <---and at it to your goodreads by clicking that!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Under the Sea Giveaway!

For our Under the Sea Giveaway Little Zombies is giving away a copy of 
Dolphins at Daybreak by Mary Pope Osborne

"Morgan le Fay will make Jack and Annie masters of the tree house if only they can solve four riddles. "Dolphins at Daybreak" begins the third set of four books in the magical series, as Jack and Annie embark upon solving riddle number three in a whole new world under the ocean!"

I believe I listened to this one driving on the return trip from vacation. I needed something to entertain me and keep me awake. Well, I can't remember too much what it was about...but I didn't fall asleep. One to add to your child's bookshelf! Some kids enjoy this series more than I! Let's be honest.

      Dolphins at Daybreak (Magic Tree House, #9)


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Last Holiday Concert: Are you sick of this yet?

The Last Holiday Concert
By Andrew Clements
Unabridged Audiobook
Listening Library, Sept 2004
3 hrs, 1 minute
Rating: Yep, another one to add to the list. Great for a holiday read!

For Hart Evans, being the most popular fifth grader has its advantages: kids look up to him and teachers let him get away with everything. But during one choir practice, Hart zones out too far, accidentally flinging a rubber band at his teacher. Mr. Meinert realizes that if Hart is ever going to discover his musical potential, his punishment must march to a different drummer. And then, as Mr. Meinert is about to leave school because there is no funding left for his job, he orchestrates a class vote to appoint Hart as the new interim choir director. Now it's Hart's job to ready the class for the annual Holiday concert, and ultimately to convince the board why his teacher should stay in school.

Review: Once again a typical Andrew Clements book. He knows what it's all about. Kids are smart and if you give them the chance, they can do great things! And the ending was good. Bittersweet.

If your child is enjoying Andrew Clements' books, this is another great one. I've tried two others of his that I actually didn't enjoy that much. I couldn't really get into Extra Credit that much. I also didn't like Troublemaker. I tried a few pages from that one, but seeing as I don't use bad language, that book sort of kind of used an inappropriate word. Or rather an appropriate word in an inappropriate way. And I wasn't feeling too good about that one. So disclaimer for that one!

And if you think I'm reviewing an old book, just wait til the next review! 1998. Which proves that not only newer books are good!

You can buy it from Amazon here!

The Last Holiday Concert

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I've Got a Dinosaur On My Head: We don't just do books!

I've Got a Dinosaur On My Head
music by Peter Apel
CD, 2007

Rating: Listening worthy...over...and over... for maybe zombies ages 0-12

I decided to add this CD in with the blog. After all, zombies can like music too. And when it's difficult finding good/fun music for kids to listen to and something that will entertain you too, we can always use the help.

We picked this up from the library. And I love it. They're mostly silly songs. Well okay, they have Twinkle Twinkle Little Star....including.... Christopher??

Your kids will giggle. Maybe you'll start singing along too.

Some of the song titles: I've Got a Dinosaur On My Head, I Love Bananas, and I Eat Oatmeal For Breakfast. Though you can skip the Train it's just trains chugging along. No words if I can remember.

You can find it on iTunes or Amazon, which has it for $1 cheaper. Even the husband seems to like it. He's making his own words to the music.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Seeing Cinderella: Not sure I'd want those glasses!

Seeing Cinderella
By Jenny Lundquist
Aladdin, March 2012
Hardcover, 240 pages
Rating: 4 Bites: Girls ages 9-13 will enjoy!

Sixth grade is not going well for Calliope Meadow Anderson. Callie’s hair is frizzy, her best friend, Ellen, is acting weird, and to top things off, she has to get glasses. And her new specs aren’t even cute, trendy glasses—more like hideously large and geeky. But Callie soon discovers that her glasses have a special, magical perk: When she wears them, she can read people’s thoughts. Crazy glasses aside, Callie has more drama to face when she’s cast as the lead in the school play—and instead opts to be an understudy, giving the role of Cinderella to Ellen. Can Callie’s magic glasses help her see her way to leading lady, or is she destined to stay in the background forever?

Robot's Review:
Cute cover. And the back cover was enough to get me to check the book out. A girl who has glasses that could read other's thoughts. Bring it on. This should be fun. And it was!

It's not a retelling of Cinderella. And that's okay. I did like how she's also a writer and writes little stories in the book. It shows that just a little bit of creativity can bring out an interesting story from those who try. Great for those interested in writing.

One problem I kind of had with the book-if I want to start getting critical-is that we learn in the beginning that she's kind of shy. But she doesn't really act that way all the time. (But maybe that was just how she saw herself. Which is probably it.)

Anyway-debut book of Jenny Lundquist. I enjoyed it! And those super cool (but ugly) glasses that can read people's thought....not sure I'd want a pair. Perhaps Lundquist has given us a good idea of what other's just might be thinking!

Rating: Girls will enjoy it! I enjoyed it! A great one to add to their reading list.

Disclaimer: There is some family dysfunction. Highlight for spoiler: Mother and father are separated. Father left because of another woman.
Find it on Amazon here! 
Seeing Cinderella

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Infinity and Me: What does infinity mean to you?

Infinity and Me
By Kate Hosford, Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska
 Hardcover, 32 pages
Carolrhoda Books, October 2012

When I looked up, I shivered.
How many stars were in the sky?
A million? A billion?
Maybe the number was as big as infinity.
I started to feel very, very small. How could I even think about something as big as infinity?
Uma can't help feeling small when she peers up at the night sky. She begins to wonder about infinity. Is infinity a number that grows forever? Is it an endless racetrack? Could infinity be in an ice cream cone? Uma soon finds that the ways to think about this big idea may just be . . . infinite. 

This book is listed for ages 5-10. Personally I didn't find the book to be amazing for myself, but I did like the author's note at the end. (But the book isn't for me as it's been decades since I was 5.) I would imagine kids don't generally read the author's note and thus my next critique comes into play.

It would have been nice if the author could incorporate that the infinity symbol is called a "lemniscate". Because random facts like that are fun and make you feel smart! And you might miss out if you don't read the note at the end!

This wasn't one of my favorite math picture books. (Check out Math Curse by Jon Scieszka--it is awesome and funny!) The illustrations of Infinity and Me were fantastic- if you like that kind of illustration. It's beautiful, but not my personal preference.

Also-the example with the pasta noodle could be a bit confusing. Since theoretically you can cut it in half forever, but visually it seems finite and could be difficult to comprehend.

Rated: 2.5 Bites  Between an "it was okay" and "liked it". But I don't see why other people couldn't like it was seriously just personal preference.

I was given this netgalley for free and am not being paid for my review. Read May 4th, 2012
If I remember, my son said it was fun. And weird.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Where Is the Green Sheep?: Where are you??

Where Is the Green Sheep?
By Mem Fox and Illustrated by Judy Horacek
Harcourt Books, April 2004
Hardcover, 32 pages
Ages birth and up, though stated as 4+
Rating: Must read for picture book lovers!

There are red sheep and blue sheep, wind sheep and wave sheep, scared sheep and brave sheep, but where is the green sheep? 

The search is on in this cozy, sheep-filled story from acclaimed author Mem Fox and popular Australian cartoonist Judy Horacek. Complete with sleepy rhymes and bright illustrations, this book is sure to delight children of all ages, from the very young to those just beginning to read.

Robot's Review: This is such a cute little book. I had read it the first time when child A was a littler child and decided to get it from the library again for child B. Stands the test of time. Still a great book. Includes some opposites. Perfect for bedtime (or other times you need a book!) And of course, the illustrations are great!

Swap Over: Stop complaining!

Swap Over
By Margaret Pearce
Astraea Press, 2012
Rating: Mehhh, if you're bored.
Content Advisory: There could have been a religious exclamation or something similar. I can't remember. It was late.

Maddy had a best friend who had everything, wealthy doting parents, attended an exclusive school, owned her own horse for gymkhanas, and she was well liked and popular as well.  Maddy lived in an ordinary over crowded little house, with two unpleasant sisters who crowded her bedroom and her life. Her parents didn’t have enough money for anything extra and didn’t seem to care that she was missing out on all the good things in life. She attended an ordinary school with her sisters.
Maddy’s wish that she could swap into Jennifer’s life is granted. So she has Jennifer’s privileged life, and Jennifer has her boring poverty struck life. So why is she still unhappy, and why is Jennifer still happy, well liked and popular?  

Robot's Review: I browsed this title from my library's overdrive account, not realizing that this is I guess an e-book only kind of book. Hmm. First off, I guess I was given the impression that this was a book about maybe upper elementary grade kids. Which made sense in the voice of the book/main character, but also didn't in a way. She's a whiney, annoying, egotistical girl. She has a friend the same age who's sophisticated and kind. Okay that's fine. But really, it's not fun reading about a whiney, annoying, egotistical girl-which I guess she's just annoying because she is whiney and egotistical and rude. 

Later we find out that they're in either 7th or 8th grade (or maybe I skipped the part where it made it obvious?). 

To add to the mix, the author is either from Europe or Australia (she did go to Monash...and the reason I know that's in Australia is my maybe future sister-in-law went there.) So there's lingo in the mix or just words it seems like we don't usually use in the US. Or maybe I'm just not as knowledgeable. It seemed more often towards the end of the book than the beginning (or maybe I didn't notice early on) but it seemed weird that all of a sudden it was a different speech.

The book did seem to end abruptly. Again, those other book previews at the end of books can surely trick. I think the actual book ended at about 92% on my kindle. 

So let's get to the GOOD things. Still entertaining-ish. If you can get over the MC's voice. It seemed quite obvious to the reader that she needed to be just content and happy with her regular life before she could swap back lives. 

So if you dare to read this (did I help? =)), you can check it out from your library's overdrive account or you can buy it from Amazon for $1.99. Though I'm not sure I'd suggest this to my child in the future. Seriously, the whiney tone. 

The Lemonade War: Big Brother vs Little Sister

The Lemonade War
By Jacqueline Davies
Houghton Mifflin Books, April 2007
Hardcover, 192 pages

Content Advisory: Bullying, 2-3 religious exclamations
Rating: Enjoyable smart read besides the content advisory

Evan Treski is people-smart. He is good at talking with people, even grownups. His younger sister, Jessie, on the other hand, is math-smart—but not especially good at understanding people. She knows that feelings are her weakest subject. So when their lemonade war begins, there really is no telling who will win—and even more important, if their fight will ever end.

Here is a clever blend of humor and math fun. As it captures the one-of-a-kind bond between brother and sister, this poignant novel subtly explores how arguments can escalate beyond anyone’s intent.

Robot's Review: I thought it was really "smart" to include business ideas into the book. Educating kids early on that stuff. Interesting you know.

The parts I didn't like: the random religious exclamations. I don't think it needs to be in children's books (or any book for that matter). And especially if it's less than you can count on your fingers, it seems random and unnecessary. As if it's not quite the author's usual vocab, but she put it in there anyway to make her book "cool". Meh.

Another part- There's  retelling of the bullying that gets to me. It's just sad and really cruel.

Oh and I guess I can add in another part and possible spoiler: (highlight to read- There's a boy towards the end of the book that steals over $200 of money from one of them. And he doesn't get caught. There's no resolution with him stealing. It's just done and the kids accept that. Maybe there'll be more in future books.)

But the plot was fun. A war between siblings. I enjoyed the different perspectives that were given by the two siblings and how misunderstandings can happen...quite easily. The poor kids! But I can see how this book can open up the possibilities of talking things out and understanding each other's feelings and why each person might be feeling a certain way.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cam Jansen and the Secret Service Mystery: Click!

Cam Jansen and the Secret Service Mystery
By David A Adler
Puffin; Reprint edition March 2008
Paperback, 64 pages
Rating: Fun series for not scaredy cats

It is a big day at Cam’s school. The governor, who is running for president, is visiting for the dedication of a new library. Police officers, Secret Service agents, photographers, and news reporters are all there to hear the governor speak when . . . bang! A loud sound like a gunshot startles everyone during the ceremony. Was it really a gun, or a noisy cover for a crime? Click along with Cam as she teams up with the Secret Service to solve the mystery. An exciting installment in the much-loved series, this newest Cam Jansen mystery will win new readers and please longtime fans.

Robot's Review: I've read a few Cam Jansen books now, but I think this is the first one that I did. I thought it would be like a Jigsaw Jones book. And pretty much, it is, except that this girl has a photographic memory. Which is kind of cool to read about at first. (Of course the whole spiel is retold in the other pretty much the same way. Which I estimate to be about half a page's worth of writing. Basically- Cam's real name is Jennifer. But when they found out she had photographic memory they nicknamed her 'The Camera', which got shortened to Cam. And they also use to call her 'Red' because of her red hair. And she goes "Click" when she's going through her mental camera...or taking a picture. Yep.

Anyway, these mystery books are ok. The only problem I have with them, is that it's kind of scary isn't it? I mean to a first or second grader I think it could have the potential to scare them. Just worry about bad guys and stuff. But if you're not afraid of that, then this could be a good series for your kid. My son wasn't interested in these books. Well-he didn't even try to read one. But when I asked him if he would read it, he said no. So maybe for girls.

The Donut Chef: Donuts...need I say more?

The Donut Chef
By Bob Staake
Golden Books, Sept 2008
Hardcover, 40 pages
Rating: Must Read! Especially for donut lovers!

IN THIS DELICIOUS tale, a baker hangs out his shingle on a small street, and soon, the line for his doughnuts stretches down the block. But it’s not long before the competition arrives and a battle of the bakers ensues. In the competitive frenzy, both bakers’ doughnuts become “quite bizarre, like Cherry-Frosted Lemon Bar, and Peanut-Brickle Buttermilk, or Gooey Coca- Mocha Silk!” Some are not even very tasty: “Donuts made with huckleberry (don’t be scared, they’re kind of hairy).” One day, Debbie Sue, just barely two, enters the bakery, and searches in vain for her favorite doughnut, where “the choice of donuts left her dazed. Said Debbie Sue, “But I want . . . glazed.” A fun lesson in keeping it simple in which our hero chef decides to go back to the basics, and wins over the whole town. 

Robot's Review: Oh this book is cute! And rhymingly delicious! And my son loves donuts (yes, me too). And this book does a great job of making you want more donuts!

I thought the rhyming was great and the pictures too. And now that I've gone gluten-free (day 3) I'll have to see if Whole Foods does a GF donut. Sigh...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Keepers of the School: Keep the story going

Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School: We the Children
By Andrew Clements
Antheneum Book for Young Readers, April 2011 (HB published Apr 2010)
Paperback, 176 pages
Rating: Read if you have the next one on hand too.

Benjamin Pratt’s school is about to become the site of a new amusement park. It sounds like a dream come true! But lately, Ben has been wonder if he’s going to like an amusement park in the middle of his town—with all the buses and traffic and eight dollar slices of pizza. It’s going to change everything. And Ben is not so big on all the new changes in his life, like how his dad has moved out and started living in the marina on what used to be the “family” sailboat. 

Benjamin Pratt & the Keepers of the School: Fear Itself
By Andrew Clements
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Aug 2011 (HB published Jan 2011)
Paperback, 240 pages

The Keepers of the School are back and the stakes are even higher. Time is ticking as the countdown to their school’s total demolition continues. Ben has been given a handful of clues that could help them save the school, but they are all written in maritime riddles. “After five bells sound, time to sit down.” What the heck does that mean? It’s hard to know where to begin when Ben and Jill don’t even know what they are looking for.

 Robot's Review:
I KNOW....another Andrew Clements book. Well, actually two more. But maybe it'll feel like "just one" to you since the ending of the 1st book was quite abrupt and not quite logical. I think grade school kids will find the books enjoyable though and won't be as HUH?! to the ending of the 1st. The ending of the 2nd happened abruptly as well, as I saw there were many pages left, and didn't realize the "discussion" pages were going to take up some space. But the ending didn't strike me as too strange. It was a more natural stopping point than the 1st book.

And even though I do enjoy the books--they're adventurous and mysterious, there was a part in the second book that I thought was so stupid. The kids did something kind of illogical, but I guess does carry the story on and make it more suspenseful. But who would do such a thing! Well, you'll just have to read it to find out what I write of.

Nonetheless, I look forward to reading the third book! Which is already out....not sure how many there are/will be in this series...

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pop-Up Cards: Fun for all ages!

Pop-Up Cards
By Mari Kumada
Paperback, 144 pgs
Roost Books, September 11, 2012

Get your paper supplies ready for September, because you are going to want to make some really great pop-up cards!

Can you say creativity?! This book is for both young and old! For anyone who wants to give a homemade card to someone special. There's how-to instructions for cards for weddings, babies, Christmas, birthdays, etc.

Not only are there pop-up card instructions, but also instructions for pull-tab cards and also spinning cards so it's interactive! Also included are colored templates. Just photocopy and you're on your way! Let this book spark your imagination. What kind of card will you make?

Kids will LOVE this. Adults will LOVE this. Start getting creative and get some postage stamps to send your friends and family some happiness.

Rated: 5 Bites and more!

Check out Roost Book's free projects as well.

I was given this book through My review is not paid and is my own review.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Audiobooks galore! To listen and to not.

I am really getting into audiobooks while driving! They can be so entertaining and help in a long car ride (of which I've done 3 of so far this summer-three long drives that is, not books--more books than that).

Wayside School is Falling Down
Sideways Stories From Wayside School
Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger

By Louis Sachar

Rating: A must read/listen to with children! (Okay, or by your adult self too.)

Synopsis from Wayside School is Falling Down: Wayside School was supposed to be 30 classrooms, one story high; but by mistake it was built straight up 30 stories. And that's not all that's funny here.

I listened to the 1st and 3rd books on audio. My niece happened to have the copy of the 2nd book so I read that one and so did my son. I LOVED it. It is so entertaining and funny. All of them. 
Then as I was listening to the 1st book in the car I realized that I remembered this book. I had read Wayside School is Falling Down sometime in my youth (and the cover to #2 is so familiar as well) but the stories didn't stick out as too familiar while reading it. But even so-read it again. Listen to it! My son and I were laughing! Sure makes a long car ride fun.

The part that stinks is having to stop the car at the end of the trip and not have the book over with. But that makes looking forward to more car driving!

These books are silly. They're silly, but not so silly that it's stupid. Because it's not stupid. (Though it does say that word often enough in the books. Oh, they do use idiot too.) It's silly, but so logical at the same time. Or well, as logical as you can imagine. No child should go through readinghood without reading this one! (Or these ones.)

No Talking
By Andrew Clements

Rated: Another good book. Your elementary grade student will enjoy!

The fifth-grade girls and the fifth-grade boys at Laketon Elementary don't get along very well. But the real problem is that these kids are loud and disorderly. That's why the principal uses her red plastic bullhorn. A lot.
Then one day Dave Packer, a certified loudmouth, bumps into an idea - a big one that makes him try to keep quiet for a whole day. But what does Dave hear during lunch? A girl, Lynsey Burgess, jabbering away. So Dave breaks his silence and lobs an insult. Those words lead to other words about who's the biggest loudmouth, and those words spark a contest: Which team can say the fewest words during two whole days? And it's the boys against the girls.

This is another book I listened to. Once again, another fun Clements book. Once again another similar themed book as his others. It all kind of feels the same--empowerment to the students. They shouldn't get into huge trouble for using their brains (pretty much) or acting different from the norm. Which I do think is great.

I enjoyed the ending. And the book does make you think a bit about using less words!

Now onto a book I wouldn't suggest for audio...
The Secrets of Droon
By Tony Abbott

Rating: Not for audio. Not sure about book. 

Synopsis: Eric, Julie, and Neal discover an enchanted stairway in Eric's basement, which turns out to be a portal to the magical and troubled world of Droon! It's a wondrous place where adventure is always close at hand.

We listened to book #1. Personally I was kind of really bored listening to this book. I think my son liked it. So I feel bad that I didn't. I absolutely did not like the audio for it. At some points it seemed difficult to hear so you'd want to turn up the volume and then you'd have this creature with an awful voice (don't want to hear you) who would be very loud the next moment. Not enjoyable for a carride. 

I could have possibly found the book better if I had read it aloud.  And to me there was a part that wasn't very logical. But I mean it's a young kid's book. Probably for 1-3rd grade. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Report Card: But Ds are so pretty!

The Report Card
By Andrew Clements
Audio, 180+ minutes (3 CDs)
Listening Library (2005)
Rating: Read it!

Nora Rowley is a genius. The thing is, nobody but Nora knows that. Being so smart, Nora noticed early on, makes you stand out, and standing out was not something she wanted. Instead, Nora always tried to be exactly average. But now Nora has a new plan, and when she comes home with a bad report card, her parents and the school launch a massive effort to find out what's wrong. But that is exactly what Nora wants. All the attention is the perfect chance to prove how arbitrary grades are and that they don't matter nearly as much as everyone at Philbrook Elementary thinks.

Robot's Review:
I listened to this one as well. My second Andrew Clements book. This one is in a girl's the audio is spoken by a woman...with an at first weird voice. I guess you get used to it. But it's still a little "weird." You just have to hear it.

Anyway, again, brilliant genius child book. The main character is so smart. But she's trying to get bad grades. I enjoyed the book, but I was getting a little lost at the last few chapters. Might have been since I was listening to it. 

I found with this and the Frindle book that situations happen that are "unbelievable". As in yeah right that would never happen. Because  both get "big" groups of people to do something. Which seems unbelievable. But perhaps Andrew Clements is trying to tell kids that they do matter. Because, well, they do. Make things happen. Be brave. Make changes. You are important. 

One thing that stood out to me about the main character in The Report Card was that she was caring. And it bothered me that she told her mom that she wasn't a caring person. How could she not know that. Because it's OBVIOUS. OBVIOUS!! So it's one of those, annoying why did you try to honestly say that when you are smart enough to realize that that is not true.

Anyway, all that said, still enjoyed it and will be continuing reading more of Clements books. We'll see if there's that same theme in the others. 

Frindle: Goobleygawk-you know what I'm talking about right?

By Andrew Clements
Audio, 1 hr 49 minutes (I think, 2 CDs)
Simon & Schuster Audio Unabridged edition June 2009
Rating: Go read it! (Or listen to it!)

Nicholas Allen has plenty of ideas. Who can forget the time he turned his third-grade classroom into a tropical island, or the times he fooled his teacher by chirping like a blackbird? But now Nick's in fifth grade, and it looks like his days as a troublemaker are over.
Everyone knows that Mrs. Granger, the language arts teacher, has X-ray vision, and nobody gets away with anything in her classroom. To make matters worse, she's also a fanatic about the dictionary, which is hopelessly boring to Nick. But when Nick learns an interesting tidbit about words and where they come from, it inspires his greatest plan yet: to invent a new word. From now on, a pen is no longer a pen -- it's a frindle.
It doesn't take long for frindle to take root, and soon the excitement spreads well beyond his school and town. His parents and Mrs. Granger would like Nick to put an end to all this nonsense. But frindle doesn't belong to Nick anymore. All he can do now is sit back and watch what happens.

Robot's Review:
I am glad I decided to give this one a chance! I had seen the actual book before while volunteering at the Scholastic Book Warehouse sale. (Did you go? It was too good!) I might have seen the title before but thought it sounded kind of silly. I mean, really....a kid calling a pen "frindle"?
But it's so much more than just that! It's the reasoning behind it. And it's just an entertaining story. I am SO glad I gave this book a try and have recently finished listening to another of Andrew Clements books, The Report Card (review to come). So glad I found another author who's got lots of books to read!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Savvy: Kids, please don't hitchhike aboard a stranger's bus...

By Ingrid Law
Paperback, 368 pages
Puffin, March 2010

A vibrant new voice . . . a modern classic.
For generations, the Beaumont family has harbored a magical secret. They each possess a "savvy" -a special supernatural power that strikes when they turn thirteen. Grandpa Bomba moves mountains, her older brothers create hurricanes and spark electricity . . . and now it's the eve of Mibs's big day.
As if waiting weren't hard enough, the family gets scary news two days before Mibs's birthday: Poppa has been in a terrible accident. Mibs develops the singular mission to get to the hospital and prove that her new power can save her dad. So she sneaks onto a salesman's bus . . . only to find the bus heading in the opposite direction. Suddenly Mibs finds herself on an unforgettable odyssey that will force her to make sense of growing up-and of other people, who might also have a few secrets hidden just beneath the skin.
Pricky's Review:
Rated 1 Star on Goodreads.

I actually had to look up the criteria for a Newberry Medal after reading this. Even as an "honor" medal, I couldn't believe that it deserved the title of "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." But I guess that's not really up to me, it's up to 15 people to decide.

But...if it were up to me, this book would probably get a medal for "best concoction of invented and real words...without saying much." I fully admit that it's unique prose caught my eye in the beginning but after a while the story was so full of word fluff that when digging around for the story, I realized there wasn't very much there.

Word Fluff:
I appreciate beautiful prose but it just got to be too much. Much of the prose sounded like this:
 " to the pushing-pulling waves."
"...broody Samson was a dark and shadowy seven..."
 " palms burned like fire from all of the hurt just under the skin."
"Girls only get quiet, polite savvies--sugar and spice and everything humdrum savvies."
etc. etc. etc.
Now, don't get me wrong. I fully enjoy adjective-saturated imagery...but when the focus is more on the word usage than on the plot, I begin to wonder what was the point of the story in the first place?

Plot (Spoiler Warning):
In case you're wondering, the plot basically goes like this:
1) Leading off from the summary...Mib's parents are at the hospital.
2) Since her parents aren't there, the town's preacher family hosts Mibs 13th birthday party which is a disaster so Mibs hides aboard the Bible Supply Bus.
3) Along with 2 of the preacher's kids and 2 of Mib's siblings, the kids stow away on the bus, heading toward Salina (where the hospital is located). Eventually we learn that an alert has gone out that kids are missing. (Btw Grandpa Bomba is at home with the other Beaumont sibling.)
4) Mibs discovers that her special magical power is hearing the thoughts of people through ink on their skin.
5) The kids and bus driver and another "hitchhiker" travel through different cities until they finally arrive at the hospital.
6) Mibs tells her dad that even though he's "human," he still has a magical power which is that he never gives up.
7) Family returns home.
The End.

Obviously, the message here is one we've heard over and over again. Mibs who is somewhat of a social outcast is initially disappointed in her ability (i.e., Savvy) but ends up appreciating it, and through her adventure she develops friendships with other kids. At the end, there was nothing awe-inspiring of this message. And for an honor book, I expected to be blown away.

Instead, all I could think about was:
1) Why would a group of teenagers along with a 7-year-old go hide in the back of a school bus with a stranger driver. Did they not consider that their parents would be frightened to death by their disappearance? Furthermore, couldn't one of the townsfolk or even her Grandpa drive them to Salina to be with her dad? (Oh, but then we wouldn't have a story now would we?) And couldn't Mibs have told her Grandpa or left a note before they drove off?
2) Then when the bus driver, Lester, finally discovers them, does he insist on calling their parents? Is he the responsible adult he should be? Oh no, he lets them stay on the bus while he continues making his deliveries.
3) When the bus happens upon a broken down car with a lady (Lill) waiting by the side of the road, Lill decides to join them on the bus...because that's just what you should do when your car breaks down...climb aboard a bus of full of kids with a strange man.
4) But Lill is more of a responsible adult because she makes them call their parents...but isn't clever enough to know that the kids trick her by not really calling their parents. (And would any parent that had missing kids tell Lill to just wait until the next day to bring them home?)
5) And when the kids were finally found, when would a police officer ever say this: "I know how easy it is to make wrong choices and end up in difficult situations, but things don't always turn out badly. There will be consequences, of course, but no one got hurt, and no hurt was meant. So, as far as I know, no one's pressing any charges against those folks out there. [Lester] and [Lill] may have made some ill-advised decisions, but they did do a good job of looking after you and keeping you all safe."
6) So I guess the real message would be:

"Kids, if you make really bad choices, but nothing bad comes out of it, it's okay then."

A Pricky Post.
I still can't believe this is what is considered a contribution to children's literature. If you are interested in a Newberry Medal read, there are much better choices out there: try Holes, By Louis Sachar or A Wrinkle in Time, By Madeleine L'Engle or The Giver, By Lois Lowry .

Should you read? I'm sorry but I have to say: "Skip it."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Oopsy, Teacher!

Oopsy, Teacher!

By Stephanie Calmenson, Illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa
Hardcover, 32 pages
Carolrhoda Picture Books, August 1, 2012

Uh-oh! Mr. Bungles drips jam on his tie at breakfast. His students play a trick on him at school. And the class hamster Nibbles escapes from his cage! Mr. Bungles and the class chase Nibbles through the halls and into town. But can they catch the hamster?

The cover doesn't give this book justice. I thought the illustrations in the book were much better than the cover would make you think. It might just be that bright yellow.

I enjoyed the story. I read it with Child #1 and he seemed to like it too. It's nice to know that teachers can make oopsies too!

The book is written in rhymes. Calmenson sets you up with the first two rhyming echo word on the right hand pages. After that, the rhyme is echoed on the left page, giving the reader a chance to come up with the word before it's shown. I thought that was great so your little one could have practice with rhyming sounds.

Calmenson has another Mr. Bungles book that I'd like to read as well called Late for School!

Rated: 4 Bites

I received this book from My review is my own. May 8, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen: What is...Jeopardy?

Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen
By Donna Gephart
Hardcover, 288 pages
Delacorte Press, March 2012
Robot's Rating: Read it!

Olivia Bean knows trivia. She watches Jeopardy! every night and usually beats at least one of the contestants. If she were better at geography, she would try out for the show’s kids’ week. Not only could she win bundles of money, she’d get to go to the taping in California, where her dad, who left two years ago and who Olivia misses like crazy, lives with his new family.

One day Olivia’s friend-turned-nemesis, Tucker, offers to help her bulk up her geography knowledge. Before Olivia knows it, she’s getting help from all sorts of unexpected sources: her almost-stepdad, superannoying Neil; her genius little brother, Charlie; even her stressed-out mom. Soon she has breezed through the audition rounds and is headed for Hollywood! But will the one person she wants to impress more than anyone else show up to support her? 

My review: If you like easy reading (which to me is just light reading, not too serious, not too suspenseful), then I hope you will enjoy Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen. The main character is 12 years old and super smart (except for geography). I do enjoy books about super smart kids. As a mother I enjoyed reading the book too and it reminds you to really be there and care about your kids because Olivia's dad was kind of too busy/too self-centered. And it hurts the kids. But don't worry-it wasn't really a preachy book about that. Olivia's got a good head on her shoulder and probably like most kids just want the attention of both parents.

Great book for older kids- probably ages 10+.

Content Advisory: Parent-child dysfunctions, not married couple (Olivia's mom and boyfriend) living together.

Read a little from the book below