Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Actually to be quite honest, I have never even been to NYC. (Beside some fly throughs and landing a cruise there.) Hard to believe, non? Well, it is true. However... some other's that I know have been there, and work there, and thrive there. Please take a moment to look at their pleas and see what you can do to help.
A Fuse #8 Production
A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
The Reading Zone
Big A, Little a
Class of 2k8
Cheryl Rainfield

Friday, January 25, 2008

Check it out!

Would you like to give free books to children? If so, check out this site. You have probably seen something similar for breast cancer, but this one is for books. I got the link from Kimbooktu. I tried to add a new button over in my sidebar, but the button didn't show up... Whatever, Even still you can click on the words and it does the same thing. And the banner I did at the bottom of the page works, so go there if you would rather.

By clicking here, you can get an overview of the program.
By clicking here, you can TRY to make your own button.

The Literacy Site

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Letters From Rapunzel by Sara Lewis Holmes

When I started reading Letters From Rapunzel by Sara Holmes, I was also reading other books simultaneously. I was not putting my best effort forward and I even almost quit reading because I thought I could see where the story was going. I can admit when I am wrong! I WAS WRONG...
When the main character begins her journey in this story she is writing letters to a mysterious Post Office Box whom she believes is her dad's mentor in life. Instead of signing the notes from herself, she is using the alias Rapunzel. Not because she does not want to be named, but because it is how she is feeling at the time. As the letters move on, the reader hears about the strife going on in Rapunzel's life, including her father's "Evil Spell." (Clinical Depression) I cannot reveal what happens in the course of the story because I want you to read for yourself, but let me tell you, I was not expecting the events in the climax and resolution of the story.
I really liked the format because it is always easy to convince a student to pick up a book that comes in letter form. For some reason it doesn't seem like a real book to them, I guess their eyes can trick them that way. :) But what I also liked was that the book wasn't too heavy. (No not weight, but heavy, you know...) There are so many students out there who have family members going through similar stories. Heck, I am betting there are even fifth graders going through Clinical Depression, as sad as that sounds.
I am going to recommend it for students who have a keen sense of humor and also a strong heart. I think some of the content may go over my student's heads, but I guarantee enough of it will stick that they will be thinking about it for a long time to come.
Links for your liking...
Sara Lewis Holmes- Website
Sara Lewis Holmes Blog- Read, Write, Believe
And just about everyone in the Kidlitosphere has read and reviewed the book...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Kimchi & Calamari by Rose Kent

One of the books in my recent What should I read poll was Kimchi & Calamari by Rose Kent. I am glad I finally got to it.
The story is of a teenage boy who is exploring his roots as a Korean adoptee in an Italian-American family. The exploration is spurred by an assignment his history teacher has given, in which you are to explore your family roots. On top of all this, Joseph, the main character and narrator, is also looking for a date to his 8th grade Farewell dance. Joseph is also struggling with his parent's inability to deal with the fact that he is truly Korean and not Italian as they see him.
I really liked the idea of the book. I am seriously having a weird streak of reading books with Italian-Americans... AND I LOVE IT! Although there were far less references to Italian-American heritage in this book than say Penny From Heaven, I really like how Kent talked a lot about Italian food! (My husband's family owns an Italian restaurant.) But, back to the idea behind the book, adoption. I think it is great that there are books out there, like this one, which explore issues of adoption. I also thought it was cool how the searching comes about from a very poorly thought out history assignment. I teach American History as well, and I would never give an assignment like this. It can bring about bad feelings and hardship for many reason, not just for adopted children. All and all the book had humor, sensitivity, teen issues, and a strong boy main character/narrator.
I think I would recommend this book for some of my students, but I believe it is more appropriate for say sixth grade. I thought is was great!
Other Reviews:
Jen Robinson's Book Page
Welcome to My Tweendom
Mother Reader
Class of 2k7 Blog- Author Interview

Thursday, January 17, 2008

How Awesome Am I In Graph Form?

This is the most beautiful representation of my blog I have ever seen! I got this idea from Miss Rumphius Effect. I am showing you mine and urging you to try it for yourself! Click Here...

Here is what each of the colors means:
blue: for links (the A tag)
red: for tables (TABLE, TR and TD tags)
green: for the DIV tag
violet: for images (the IMG tag)
yellow: for forms (FORM, INPUT, TEXTAREA, SELECT and OPTION tags)
orange: for linebreaks and blockquotes (BR, P, and BLOCKQUOTE tags)
black: the HTML tag, the root node
gray: all other tags

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

To Do List For 2008

Okay, I haven't been around that long, so I am new at this. I have no idea how some people find out about books so fast, but I'm learning. So, for my list of books I would like to read this year, I looked at other's lists and picked what I would like. (Probably not an uncommon method, but I don't know any better way.)

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

Jeanne Birdsall: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street (Knopf)
Trenton Lee Stewart: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey (Little, Brown) ~ Which means I need to also read The Mysterious Benedict Society, which I have not read.
Sara Pennypacker: Clementine's Letter (Hyperion)

Trouble by Gary Schmidt
Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes
The Life and Crimes of Bernetta Wallflower by Lisa Graff
Shooting the Moon by Frances O'Roark Dowell

* A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee (Harcourt);

Lifted from my own brain:
Greetings From Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor

Monday, January 14, 2008

ALA Award Announcements

Since I have searched the internet this morning for the winners, I thought I would post the best place to view everything... not just someone's favorites.
http://www.ala.org/ala/pressreleases2008/january2008/announce08.htmI knew I had a hunch about Elijah of Buxton, I'm just sayin'... it was a great book! I am also glad to see I had read a few of the other books as well.
Henry's Freedom Box
Wednesday Wars
The Inventions of Hugo Cabret
The Wall

Sunday, January 13, 2008

ALA Anouncements

I know everyone is weighing in with their favorites for the Newbery, but I am too superstitious. I will listening online with everyone else tomorrow morning hoping for my favorites of the year, but I am not going to let on as to who I have chosen. Although, I did make one prediction this summer, and I stand by that prediction. (Hint, it was not a Newbery prediction.)
For a list of the awards and a short description, click here: ALA News
So join me here: http://www.unikron.com/clients/ala-webcast-2008 for the live webcast of the awards and keep your fingers crossed for all your favorites.

2 Very Different Books By One Author

I recently read two books by Jennifer L. Holm and they were both wonderful, but in two different ways!
First, I finally dug into Penny From Heaven which I should have read long ago, but just never got to it. This Newbery Honor book was a gem. I am a sucker for books about Italian Americans since I am married to one, but I didn't even know this was going to be about an Italian American family, so that was an added surprise!
The story takes place during the 1950's in New Jersey (I believe). Penny Falucci, the 11 year old main character, lives with her widowed mother and maternal grandparents. Her father's large Italian family also lives in the town. The novel follows Penny in her quest to find the truth behind her father's death as she deals with life as a tween and her mother's new relationship with the milkman.
I felt so close to Penny in the story. Even though it is another time and a completely different life than I lived, I related to her Italian family through what I have learned from my own husband's family. Holm was right on! She got the nuances of Italian American life so right, I found myself laughing out loud. (Especially at Nonny, Penny's Italian grandmother.) What I was so disappointed in was myself! I did not know enough about what Italian Americans went through during World War II and post-war. Now I plan to look further into this topic, as I am so interested.
This book is great for fifth grade. I am and will continue to recommend it to students in my class. It is awesome that it recently came out in paperback making it reasonable to add to my class library. In my recommendation I let students know if they like humorous books that may make them cry, this is the book for them. Of course they are all interested.
The second book by Jennifer Holm that I read was Meatloaf is Worse Than Middle School: A Year Told Through Stuff. I mean seriously, how can one author write two books that are SO DIFFERENT and nail them both? Although this book does have a plot and storyline, it is hard to retell or summarize. But the book is exactly what it says it is- "A Year Told Through Stuff."
The story shows itself on the face of notes to friends, lists, grade cards, post cards, even bank statements. This makes the book very easy to read and kept me completely entertained. Although the main character, Ginny is in the seventh grade, I think any student fifth grade to seventh or eighth grade could relate to the book. The story gives my fifth graders a good look at what they are up against getting ready to go to middle school.
I know I shouldn't compare two books in this way, but I told my students if the are looking for something that is similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid with a girl main character, this book would probably appeal to them. I hope that is not a bad analysis, but having read them both, I think I am on target with that statement.
This just proves authors can be so diverse. I know Jennifer is also the author of the popular Babymouse series. I haven't read any of those yet, but I surely plan to now.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

She's Got It Going On!

I know Jen Robinson's Book Page has been getting a lot of mileage from me lately but who can blame me... This girl's got it going on!
For any teacher or parent who is reading this, you must hurry over and visit Jen's newest post. I am even suggesting printing it out or passing it on.
Jen Robinson's Book Page: Helping Kids Learn to Enjoy Reading

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New Book Trailer

You know how I love me some Barbara O'Connor... so here is a trailer for her new book out in the spring, Greetings From Nowhere.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

2 Days, 2 Books, 1 Author

In the past two days, I finished two very different books both by the same author. WOW! Love them both. I can't wait to review them, but I will have to save that for a day when I have more time. That may be when I retire, but I will make an attempt to get it done this week. Until then I will just tell you the books...
Penny From Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm (Winner of my poll)
Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf by Jennifer L. Holm

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Crooked Kind Of Perfect by Linda Urban

I LURRRRRVED (A very special kind of love) the book A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban! It was an absolutely perfect type of book for a fifth grade student. For a first try novel, it rocked my socks. It has humor of the right type, a sensitive issue not too crazy or mushy, puppy love not overly emphasized, friendship problems specific to the age group of the main character, and parental angst that doesn't show disrespect.
The main character, Zoe, has always wanted to play a piano. She thinks her wish is coming true, but what she really ends up with is an organ. The story shows how Zoe can overcome a strange family environment, a waining friendship, a strange new addition to her everyday life, and learn to play her organ for an upcoming Perform-O-Rama. Somehow she makes it through with flying colors.
I would recommend this to most students in my class. Especially girls. There was nothing about the book that would steer me away from a recommendation to anyone. That is what makes it perfect for me. The only complaint I can think of was that maybe there were too many obstacles going on in this young girl's life. Then again, none were overly done so it stays perfectly balanced in my eyes. Oh yeah, and it is a super quick read.
Other reviews:
Jen Robinson's Book Page
Fuse #8 Production
The Children's Literature Book Club
Linda Urban's Live Journal Crooked Perfect
Linda Urban's Website

The Poll is Complete

My poll is now complete... well at least I am not waiting any longer for responses. You can still vote, but it will just be for the fun of it.
Penny From Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm
I am glad this book won, but I really like all of the books. So I will just have to get reading, reading, reading.Y

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Check her out! (Then do my poll...)

WOOT WOOT! Check her out...
Who? Jen Robinson
What? A New Gig
Where? PBS Parents Expert Q&A
When? Right Now... (Okay and then come back and do my poll)
Why? Because she rocks!
How? Just click through! Oh and don't forget to leave her a questions, it is quit fun.

And Now... On to my poll. I have recently left the library with an armful of books. I know, I was excited too! Now the problem is, I am not sure which book I want to read first. Well, I started by reading the first chapter of each book. But I cannot keep on in this way because well, because it is too hard. So I am asking your opinion. Which book should I read first? (All the way through that is) I can't keep the poll open forever because I am so excited, so VOTE NOW! And leave a comment if you would like to defend your vote.
Grr... I also meant to mention that I am going to be reviewing a book this weekend! Yeah, I know, finally. (It's a good one too.)

Which book should I read first?
Ben and the Sudden Too-Big Family by Colby Rodowsky
In Search of Mockingbird by Loretta Ellsworth
Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent
Letters From Rapunzel by Sara Lewis Holmes
Penny From Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm
pollcode.com free polls

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I Have Lost My Words

It has been a very long time since I have actually reviewed a book, and I am well aware of this. I seem to have really lost the words. However, I am currently reading a book that will definitely warrant a review and I cannot wait to finish it and tell you all about it. Until then, here are some of the books I have read and not reviewed. I will try to find a links to other reviews as well.
  1. I just had to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I am so glad I read it, but I can't recommend it to anyone I am associated with directly, so I decided not to review it. It is an awesome story, but not for my age students. Teensread.com Review
  2. Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of A Tree by Lauren Tarshis was a great first novel for the author, but it really left me wondering if it was right for any of my students? I guess I just wasn't IN LOVE with it. My Breakfast Platter Review
  3. When I read the book I, Jack by Patricia Finney I thought it was so cleaver and I feel in love with good ole' Jack. However, when I read the new book Jack and Police Dog Rebel I was more annoyed than impressed. I still really love Jack, but the dog talk sort of got on my nerves the second time around. I didn't really see any reviews out there, but there are two reviews on Amazon.

One Million Things to Look At

Okay, not one million, but I had to lure you in, right?
First I want to say- Happy New Year to Everyone!
I appreciate every one's friendship here online. I am so happy to be part of something as fun as the Kidlitosphere!
Okay, for all your viewing pleasure, please check out the following:
A Year of Reading Second Birthday Party! Mary Lee and Franki have put together an entire week worth of partying for their Second Birthday. I am so excited to be included in the very first day and I would like to personally thank Mary Lee for helping me IMMENSELY when I first began blogging. She was truly my mentor.
The Golden Fuse Awards by Fuse #8. Hilarious list and starts off right with How to Steal A Dog by Barbara O'Connor as best cover! I totally agree.
My Favorite Children's Books of 2007 by Fuse #8. Do you see a trend here. Yes, I admit it. I am in love with this blog! Elizabeth Bird, You ROCK!
Last, but not least... The Short Lists for Cybils 2007. There were books I read, books I reviewed, and books I've never even seen before. All in all, I would say a pretty nice list.