Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Witch Week by Diana Wynne-Jones

My Review/Summary

"Someone in this class is a witch," begins Diana Wynne-Jones' Witch Week. This book can be read on its own, or as part of Diana Wynne-Jones' magical Chrestomanci series. Diana Wynne-Jones' boarding school novel explores a world in which witchcraft is forbidden, and where witches are burned. In class 6B, there are a few witches, each of whom has different talents and abilities, but no one wants to be identified! Diana Wynne-Jones creatively touches on many different themes in this book, including the dangers of being careless and joking around with something serious, the idea that one action has many possible consequences that could alter history, as well as the importance of including people, and not punishing others based on differences. A thrilling read for fun or for a school project.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Oh, Daddy! by Bob Shea

What an enjoyable, bright, bouncy picture book! This book gives Dad chances to act incredibly funny, and to ask a lot of questions in funny voices too! The lucky listener also develops storytelling skills by saying the way things should go.

SPOILER ALERT! Lots of laughs and hugging to come!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stand Straight, Ella Kate : The True Story of An American Giant by Kate Klise and M. Sarah Klise

My Summary
When you think of a giant, what comes to mind? Jack and his beanstalk? Fables? Fairy tales?

Ella Ewing (1872-1913) was a real American giant! By the age of thirteen, she was almost six feet tall. At seventeen, she was 8 feet tall. Being bigger wasn't always better, though, as many people were mean to Ella.

Take a walk in Ella's large shoes, and learn how she used her height to become famous, to travel, and to accomplish what many "normal" people from her time could not dream of.

My review
Through the illustrations, readers get a good sense of Ella's size, especially on the title page, where her head bends at the top beside a lamp shade so that her body can fit on the page. Also quite interesting are Ella's size-related facts on the inner cover pages of the book. Imagine having size 24 feet! An excellent beginner biography.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Something Missing by Matthew Dicks

My Review and Summary
Take a good hard look through your pantry. Are all your cans of vegetables there? Your cereal boxes? Have you counted them? Is everything where it should be? If it is, then breathe a sigh of relief -- you have not been visited by Martin yet.

Who is Martin? Until recently, he has been a sort of obsessive compulsive thief who lives off of a series of "clients." Calling himself a career criminal, the star of this fun book would rather steal a can of beans than any cash to avoid being noticed. While he isn't an anti-hero, he isn't a parasite either. If you are one of his clients, count yourself lucky -- he'd more than put his life on the line for you.

However, go and recount your groceries to make sure that there isn't Something

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

My Review

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a magical story of a young boy in the old train station of 1920s Paris who dreams of restoring and repairing an automaton (a machine like a robot). Children (or adults) who love reading history, who enjoy looking at art, or who are fascinated by mechanical toys should try this book. Selznick's Caldecott medal-winning illustrations and photographs are integral to the storytelling process, and add key pieces of information that are not written in the text of the story.Through the illustrations and through the story, readers get a real taste of Hugo's world: 1920's Paris and the famous old train station.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos

My Summary/Review
Life, for Joey Pigza, is like being a constantly coiled spring. Joey tries to be helpful, but he can never stay focused on one thing at a time. His teacher has to constantly remind him to follow the rules. One day, Joey unintentionally causes a serious accident in his classroom, and is sent to a special school. Will Joey ever learn to change?

"Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key" is a critically acclaimed book about a boy with attention deficit and behavioral issues. For this reason, I suggest that parents and caregivers read this book through before discussing it with their children. Even though he is constantly wired, at heart, Joey often tries to do what is right. Readers will find themselves voting for Joey throughout the entire book.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Black Dove by Steve Hockensmith

My summary/review:
As Otto, one of the main characters would say: "This book is a fun read OR, a great way to enjoy suspense and get a sense of 1890s Chinatown." Mystery fans will enjoy "The Black Dove", the third in the "Holmes on the Range" series by Edgar-award nominated author Steve Hockensmith. Otto and Gustav Amlingmyer are applying for detective work in 1890s San Francisco, after a disaster on the Southern Pacific Railroad ended their train detective careers. Even though they are more at home on a ranch than in the city, Gustav's abilities to "deducify" situations a la Sherlock Holmes have led them to apply for work at the world-renowned Pinkerton Detective Agency. When their friend from the Southern Pacific, Doctor Chan, dies mysteriously, the brothers enlist the help of their old friend, the persausive Diana Corvus, to hunt the killer down. Filled with plot twists and a surprisingly tragic ending, "The Black Dove" manages to be incredibly funny AND suspenseful!

My Notes:
Listening to this as an audiobook, readers get treated to a narrator who can do Western accents, as well as a surprisingly good voice for Diana.