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.